Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Appear to Be Easily Distracted Lately!

Princess Patti of Ansonia in the Valley sent me the above picture the other day as she said it reminded her of my blog.  Does seem rather appropriate, doesn't it?  

Lately we most definitely are NOT there yet as I keep getting distracted when it comes to writing posts which is bad because I've still got several posts worth of pictures from Maine as well as pictures from my adventures through northwest Connecticut with Princess Patti that probably won't get posted until the dead cold of winter at the rate I'm going! It seems like there's always something else to distract me, though and I'm beginning to feel a lot like Dug in "Up" when he stops in mid-sentence ...

Take today for example, I had all good intentions of doing a post on Acadia National park but I got distracted by a photo contest that the Tourism Office in Salem, Massachusetts is having as the deadline for submission is tomorrow and I figured that I had to have at least one or two pictures somewhere in my archives that might be okay to submit. Of course, finding them amongst the thousands of picture files I have was a bit time-consuming and then trying to figure out which three might be good ... next thing I know, several hours have passed ... oy! Truth be told I'm not too hopeful about the pictures that I submitted as I didn't have as many good ones as I would have liked but I'll have next year's contest in mind when I'm up there in a couple of weeks to stay at the "haunted" rooms at the Hawthorne Hotel.

We'll be going up on December 15th and I think it's going to be a fun couple of days as I have tickets to the Salem Trolley & The Griffen Theater's presentation of  "A Christmas Carol" which is done via an interactive trolley ride along with Scrooge as he meets up with the Ghosts of Christmases Past, Present & Future on the evening of Thursday the 17th; I've been promised a tour of the Salem Marine Society room on the top floor of the Hawthorne; and I'm going to see the exhibit of The Emperor's Private Paradise:  Treasures from the Forbidden City at the Peabody-Essex Museum amongst other things.

At the end of all that, I'll attend a final review of Amanda's first semester at Montserrat College of Art on Friday the 17th then pack up the car with whatever she thinks she needs to haul back with her and head home to Norwich where she'll be on winter break until almost the end of January.  That right there is going to be the true test as to how much she and Jamie have matured!

Anyhow, considering I am probably going to take more pictures than you can shake a very large stick at while I'm in Salem, I'd best get with the program and finish up my pictures from Maine & fall in Connecticut soon so that I'll have plenty of time for those!  I just need to stop being so distracted so easily by things like ...

Not the best picture in the world but a favorite sailor of mine made those Scottish-filled cookies and gave me a tin of my very own yesterday and they go great with a nice cup of coffee and Bejeweled Blitz on Facebook!    A most yummy distraction!  But seriously, I need to start paying better attention to things and ... oooooh ... it's my move on Lexulous ... !

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Stuff

It's been a weekend of ups and downs for some reason - I think I'm getting a case of the holiday hormones a little early or something!

On a good note, though, Amanda and Jamie have managed to get along quite well this weekend with glowing reports from friends Jason & Amy whom they spent Thanksgiving with. Perhaps we've turned a corner? Oh please say yes!

Took Amanda to see the latest "Harry Potter" movie yesterday and even though I've not read the books (yes, there are a few of us out there!) I quite enjoyed it. It's definitely NOT a kid's movie, though.  I was thinking this morning that those kids who started reading the series when the first book came out grew up right along with the characters and are now Amanda's age and such so they can handle it but younger kids?  I don't think it's the best choice for them.

Oh, and yes, Amanda cried a bit at the end ... I disguised my weepy eyes by slurping up the last of the soda! Hey, that stuff is expensive!

I've got to haul Amanda back up to college a little later on today and I'm hoping that there isn't a whole lot of holiday traffic. Boston traffic is bad enough as it is!

I'm still debating the whole Christmas tree thing this year what with Tesla being the type of cat that gets into everything.  I can only imagine that having a full-size tree in the living room would be an open invitation for him to climb it and knock things down.  Amanda says that I have to have a full-size tree and it has to be live but I just don't know.  That cat gets into all sorts of trouble once Jamie and I go to bed already!  Decisions, decisions!

I made a friend at work a pineapple rum layer cake the other day that he tells me was quite delicious.  Today he's making me cookies from his grandmother's recipe that I'll get at work tomorrow.  Sounds like a fair exchange!

Oh, and may I just say that it's been too cold already this year for my liking!  I forgot how hard it is to heat this brick house I live in but we've really enjoyed some nice roaring fires the past few nights.  I love having a fireplace that works!  Now I just need someone to sit in front of it and sip some wine with from time to time!

Hope everyone has a lovely end-of-the-Thanksgiving-weekend Sunday no matter what it finds you doing!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Five on Friday - The "Thanks" Version

It being the day after Thanksgiving here in the States, I decided that this week's Five on Friday set list should be all about saying 'thanks'. Thankfully there were more than enough songs to pick and choose from on Playlist.com; as a matter of fact, I had my choice between Bob Hope or Bing Crosby when it came to choosing a version of "Thanks for the Memories" and even though most people associate the song with Bob Hope, I chose the Bing Crosby version because let's face it, he was a better singer than Bob ... besides, I remember my Mom telling me that she was quite taken with Bing Crosby when she was a teenager so I went with her favorite!

Don't forget to swing over to Trav's Thoughts and see who else played along with his musical meme - I bet he'll be sure to say thanks for stopping by!

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to You; Happy Birthday to My Dad

I'm not sure what the mathematical equation is to figure out how often Thanksgiving falls on a particular date but I know that there were times when Thanksgiving would fall on the same day as my Dad's birthday - this year would have been one of them were my Dad still with us. Unfortunately, he's not but that doesn't keep him from being remembered not just this year but every year when November 25th rolls around.

So on what would have been my father's 76th birthday, I wish you all the happiest of Thanksgiving Days here in the United States as you gather with family and friends and celebrate the blessings of the past year as we hurtle rapidly towards a new year. Ferris Bueller wasn't kidding when he said, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." ... Don't miss it!

Wedding Day 1991
Dad & I - August 1991

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Reflections

Concord River Reflections

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.

Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

~~ Author Unknown ~~

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Tale of Two Concerts: Part Two, Trans-Siberian Orchestra in Connecticut

Two weeks to the day after I had gone up to Massachusetts to attend the Hot Rize bluegrass concert that I wrote about in yesterday's post, I had the chance to go another concert - this one a lot closer as it was being held at the Mohegan Sun Casino Arena.  My Mom had picked up tickets for Jamie and I to see the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - a group that I had been wanting to take Jamie to go see for years!

Believe it or not, I'm not going to get into the history of the band (gasp!) as you can read all of that in my post from November 13th, 2007 when I took Amanda to go see the same group at the same venue. Prior to that we had seen them once before when TSO performed in Worcester, Massachusetts in December of 2006.   Both times that Amanda and I attended a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert, the only thing missing was Jamie as the timing had never been right so it was always my hope to take her to see them at some point in time.  I was quite happy to see that they were returning to do a performance at the Mohegan Sun Arena (they'd skipped it the past few years) and it was even on one of my nights off, too!

I guess it was fate so I asked my Mom if she'd pick up tickets for me her next trip down to the casino.  I don't get there too often as they fail to send me enticing offers in the mail but my mom gets "free slot play" quite frequently so I figured she'd get there long before I would.  She was and she got the best available tickets that were left (the show definitely sells out) which were kinda-sorta in the upper reaches of the arena.  Considering my mom refused to take any money for the tickets I sure the heck wasn't going to complain and I figured that TSO puts on one heck of a show and if you don't see it even from the nosebleed section, you've got your eyes closed!

Jamie & Christmas Decorations at the Mohegan SunWith the concert set to start at 8:00, Jamie and I got to the Sun early enough to have a nice dinner at Big Bubba's where they serve up a very tasty BBQ pulled pork sandwich amongst other tasty delights.  I had originally wanted to go to Bobby Flay's Burger Palace and have a Crunchburger (a to-die-for cheeseburger with potato chips!) but Jamie had her heart set on BBQ and the line at Bobby Flay's convinced me that the kid had a point and maybe BBQ wouldn't be bad after all!   It looked like not only was the vast majority of southeastern Connecticut going to the concert but they were eating out first!

While we were at dinner, I sent a text to my friend Frank who works as a Fire Inspector for the Mohegan Tribal Fire Department to let him know we were there.  Frank was working the concert and had said that he would see what he could do about getting me better seats as the stairs are quite steep in the section we were in and he figured my back would much prefer something a little lower.  I tend to forget that I have a bad back until I'm in the middle of doing something that perhaps I shouldn't be doing and it was nice of Frank to think of that. This getting old and feeble stuff is for the birds, I tell ya!

Where our seats WEREAfter we finished dinner, we made our way to the arena and barely got 20 steps into the place when Jamie spied the merch stand. I've taken Amanda to enough concerts to know what that means - "Mom, can I get something??" - so I handed Jamie some cash and told her to pick something out while I waited for Frank to arrive.  He showed up a few moments later and traded my tickets in the upper level of the arena for tickets that not only were in the lower arena but darned close to the floor of the arena!

Jamie, who was busy buying herself a knit cap with an official TSO logo on it, didn't know any of this so as we walked with Frank in the direction of our seats, she mentioned that we had passed the section we were sitting in.  I told her that no, we were being upgraded to better seats and she looked over at Frank and said, "I know I just met you but I love you!" She loved him even more when we finally got to our seats:

View to the stage

Okay, so there are definitely some perks to being old and feeble after all! While we were waiting for the show to start, Jamie called her grandmother to say thank you again for the tickets and to tell her how close to the stage we were. My Mom asked how that had happened and Jamie replied, "Mom knows people ... and she has a bad back!"  Sigh ...

Turns out that there were a couple of other people from work at the show with one of them being one of the paramedics that I work with who had bought front row seats for his wife for her birthday.  Very impressive!  I think some of the stage fog probably rolled down on him a time or two and no doubt his wife loved her present!

My friend Andrew, another paramedic, had seen the show a couple of weeks ago when they performed in Hartford and he told me that the band had changed the show up a little bit but that it was still really good so I sat back and waited to be entertained.  There was a "no photography or video taping" warning so I didn't bring my Nikon with me but Jamie had brought her small point-and-shoot camera - as had lots of people around us - and she managed to get a few halfway decent shots:

The Christmas portion of the show


Long-haired classical rockers

TSO Guitarist

Rocking Out

Playing to the crowd

Jamie even managed to get a tiny snippet of video before she was told by the female security officer near us to not do that.  It gives you a little idea of the light show that the band employs; I'm pretty sure that people who are subject to seizure disorders should not go to a Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert!

As you can see, there was a lot of long hair that was flying all over the place but that's one of the things that makes the Trans-Siberian Orchestra unique - they perform classical music with a rock-band twist and they do it really, really well! If you aren't bobbing your head or clapping your hands or tapping your feet during one of their shows, there's truly something wrong with you in my own humble opinion. And you need not be young to enjoy TSO as the vast majority of people there were probably my age or older. Just probably most of them don't suffer from bad backs. Sigh.

Violinist Above UsAt one point TSO performed a number where two rather long catwalks were lowered down over the audience and the band members took turns going out on it to perform - something that I wasn't too surprised about as I had thought that part of the stage that stretched out over the audience looked suspiciously like something one could perform on.

As it turned out, one of the platforms was almost directly over our heads and I managed to grab a quick shot of electric violinst Roddy Chong as he leaned over the railing above. This was taken with my iPhone so is not the best quality but that security officer was standing quite close by and I didn't want to risk pulling Jamie's camera out again for fear she might just take it away this time.  Not that everyone and their brother weren't taking pictures but I try to adhere to the rules as much as I can.

After about three hours of just about non-stop high-energy, head-banging, laser-shooting, fireworks-popping, mind-blowing performing, the band finally wrapped up the show with everyone in the arena on their feet and cheering loudly.

The band takes a bow

Taking their bows

As is their norm following a performance, the band was going to be available for autographs following the show but it looked like the entire crowd in the arena was going to go out and stand in line so we had to pass as it was already after 11:00 and I needed to be back at work at 7:00 in the morning. As Jamie vowed that next time we'd stay for autographs, I was reminded of her sister and that same vow that she had made back in 2006 when we saw TSO for the first time and which came true in 2007. So ... guess where I may be next year??

All in all, Jamie and I had a wonderful evening out and she really enjoyed the concert just like I always thought she would.  Oh, and may I just state that I think that Jeff Plate is unequivocally one of the best drummers in the business - he deserved a standing ovation all his own for the performance he put on!  If you haven't seen Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert I highly, highly recommend you do next time they're in your area - you won't be sorry!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Tale of Two Concerts: Part One, Hot Rize in Massachusetts

In addition to working a boatload of hours the past few weeks and getting virtually nothing done as one other dispatcher has been enjoying an extended vacation, I managed to fit in a couple of concerts that were about as far apart in similarity as one can get but both were highly enjoyable.  As I have always said, I love all kinds of music as long as it's good music and both of these groups - dissimilar as they are - get two big thumbs up and some happy toe-tapping!

Amy on the Old North Bridge
The first concert that I attended was held on November 3rd at the National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Massachusetts; I went with my cousin Amy who will probably kill me for this picture that I posted!

We were able to head up to the concert a little early and stopped by the Old North Bridge in Concord on our way to Lexington - a spot that my cousin the head librarian had never been to before but that I had hit up in August.  Amy is just as much of a history fan as I am - it runs in the family - but like so many of us who never get to the stuff that's close by, she'd never been to the birthplace of the American Revolution.  She said she would have been more impressed if the Old North Bridge were the original bridge but alas, that ain't the case!

As you can see, the area looked vastly different from when I was there in August as even though it was only November 3rd, there was nary a leaf on a tree it seems!

Watery Reflections

Of course, I still wasn't able to get a decent picture of the Concord Minuteman as the light wasn't cooperating but I had to try!

The Concord Minuteman in winter

Anyhow, after leaving Concord we made the short drive over to Lexington where we did a quick walk around the Battle Green and then hit up the local Bertucci's for some mighty fine Italian food before making our way over to the National Heritage Museum where the concert was being held.  The museum, which was founded by the Scottish Rite Masons of the Northern Jurisdiction of the United States as a gift to the country on our bicentennial, looked like a rather interesting place that I'll have to try to get to again sometime when they're actually open - yet another thing to add to the list!  The museum provided the perfect venue for the group that we were there to see - one of the few bluegrass bands that I can say that I truly like - Hot Rize.

As you can see, it's a small venue but smaller is the preferred venue of most bluegrass groups being that bluegrass is more of a personal style of music than what you're going to get in a bigger concert arena.  The 390-seat Maxwell Auditorium was almost full to capacity for the concert that was being sponsored by the Boston Bluegrass Union.

Hot Rize Venue

The "Berkley to Berklee Tour" was the first time that Hot Rize had reunited for a tour in 10 years and featured their first new music in 20 years as they toured nine cities coast-to-coast in eleven days.  Whew!  Amy said that the concert had sold out pretty quickly and people were scrambling around trying to get tickets as the band currently has no plans for future tours and they're quite popular.  Rightly so I might add as these guys are good and they put on a great show. This wasn't my first time seeing Hot Rize as I saw them perform twice in the distant past - once at the former Winterhawk Bluegrass Festival in upstate New York and once at a small hall in Nashua, New Hampshire.  Both times they were fantastic and I was quite looking forward to seeing them again.

Hot Rize

To try to give you just a bit of a background on the band without getting carried away like I usually do (!), Hot Rize was formed in Colorado in 1978 and is named after the secret ingredient found in Martha White's “self-rising” flour - they even do a nice little commercial jingle for their namesake during every show which was originally performed by the bluegrass band whose television show was sponsored by Martha White - Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs & the Foggy Mountain Boys. The Martha White Company allowed Hot Rize to use the name as well as print the logo on their t-shirts with no compensation with just one stipulation - "Keep the show clean."

 Original band members were Tim O'Brien who sang lead and harmony vocals while playing mandolin and fiddle;

Tim O'Brien

Pete Wernick on banjo and harmony vocals; 

Dr. Banjo

Charles Sawtelle on guitar, harmonies and lead vocals; 

and Nick Forster, who replaced the group's original guitarist after three months, on bass and main harmony as well as serving as the group's emcee.

Nick Forster

The group released its self-titled debut album in 1979 and their second album, "Radio Boogie", came out in 1981. Concert-goers were treated to traditional as well as original bluegrass music from the group along with performances by their alter-egos who ride around in the back of the tour bus and perform while Hot Rize takes a rest in between sets - country-western swing band Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.

Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers

Following the release of four more albums which included a concert album featuring The Trailblazers, the group amicably split up after 12 years of touring in 1990 in order to pursue solo interests. They reunited on and off for various bluegrass festivals over the years as well as several short tours here and there. In 1994, Charles Sawtelle was diagnosed with leukemia and in spite of a courageous battle, succumbed to the illness in 1999 following complications from a bone marrow transplant. The remainder of their concerts for that year were performed as memorial concerts with other guitarists filling in for their missing band member.

In 2002 a live concert recording from 1996, "So Long of a Journey", was released as the first Hot Rize album in over a decade and in that same year the group started performing again with several shows each year. At that time, Bryan Sutton - Nashville super-picker, Grammy winner, and five-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year - was added on guitar and became the permanent fourth member of Hot Rize.

Bryan Sutton

In looking back over the pictures that I took at the concert that night, I'm going to have to guess that I was obviously smitten with Mr. Sutton as there appear to be more pictures of him then anyone else in the collection!  Truth be told, it was hard not to be smitten as this man can play a guitar like nobody's business (to quote my old Gram B) and I have always admired those who possess a great musical talent - he weren't too hard on the eyes either!  That's not to say that the rest of the band doesn't possess great musical talent though because - boy howdy - do they ever!  As my cousin likes to put it, I'm not really a "BG person" but I sure do like Hot Rize!

Hot Rize Collage

Just to give you an example as to why I really like these guys, I was able to find a video on YouTube with one of the songs that they performed that night.  This song is called "Just Like You" and was written by Pete Wernick aka Dr. Banjo!

Nick & TimNow I'm obviously no expert when it comes to music - and especially bluegrass music - but I do know what I like and the vocal harmonies of Hot Rize really cannot be surpassed.  My cousin, who is about as close to an expert as you can get, told me that Nick and Tim are probably the best non-brothers who harmonize as well as they do and I believe her as they really do compliment each other. Trust me, she knows bluegrass music and knows that of which she speaks!

By the way, have I mentioned that Amy hosts The Bluegrass Cafe on Sunday afternoons on WHUS, the University of Connecticut's radio station?  Indeed she does every other weekend (sometimes more) so if you're in the local area and want to tune in, the show runs from 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. on 91.7 on your FM dial.  I do believe she may just also take requests, too, if you've got yourself a hankerin' for a particular song and would like to see if she could spin it for you (not that DJs actually spin records anymore but I'm sure you know what I mean!).

Amy at WHUS

Anyway ... back at the concert ... in between Hot Rize's two sets, the audience is treated to music by those country-western cut-ups - Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers.

Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers

I've got to say that those boys add an element to the show that you probably don't get at any other bluegrass concert as - similar to the Statler Brothers alter-egos "Lester "Roadhog" Moran and the Cadillac Cowboys" - the Trailblazers give Hot Rize a chance to let their hair down and goof off a little bit while giving the audience some great laughs along the way.  That's not to say that The Trailblazers are the members of Hot Rize, mind you - they just look a lot like them!

The members of Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers are Red Knuckles himself on guitar with the mysterious Swade on bass:

Red & Swade

Waldo Otto on the steel guitar (along with his brother Elmo Otto on the fiddle who joins the band during the second set!):

Waldo & Elmo

and electric guitarist and showman extraordinaire, Wendell Mercantile - who changes his shirt and guitar fringe in between their two sets:

Wendell Mercantile

The Trailblazers sing and dance and just flat-out have fun not only for the benefit of the audience but pretty obviously for themselves, too!  Had I been able to find a decent video on YouTube, I would have shared it with you here but alas, none of them did the band justice ... however, if you'd like to click on over to Ted and Irene's Most Excellent Bluegrass Adventure on Facebook you can check out a video clip of the band performing "One Woman Man".  I'm sure you'll agree the boys are mighty fine, mighty fine!  

A Little Dance

All in all, the concert lasted about two hours with both Hot Rize and The Trailblazers doing two sets each. They played almost all of the songs that I've heard them do before as well as listened to on CD and I was quite pleasantly surprised to have remembered the words which I hadn't heard in quite some time. Their new music was almost most excellent and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed the evening!  To say that these guys are good is an understatement and I've got no doubt that a lot of bluegrass fans were very happy to have them back and performing again.

Hot Rize

As a matter of fact, if they come back around, I'd be more than happy to accompany my cousin once again!

Hot Rize

If you'd like to read more about the concert then click on over to Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms where he did a mighty fine review of the concert and if you 'd like to see more pictures from the show, please feel free to check out the set on my Flickr page - and not to worry, I got it down from close to 200 pictures to only 41! 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

What I Did With My Saturday Evening

There are so many things that need doing around here that I just have no earthly idea where to start so rather than do them, I procrastinated and decided to create this year's Christmas card using one of the photos that I took in Vermont this past winter instead. What do you think?

Blurred Edge 5x7 folded card
Unique party invitations and greeting cards by Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

This isn't a paid post for Shutterfly either - just a chance to show off what a great job they do and what cool cards you can get from them! Why it almost makes me feel like a professional!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Five on Friday - The Trans-Siberian Orchestra Version

This week's choice of music for Travis' Five on Friday was an easy one as I just went with what I knew from the week and that was music from the group that Jamie and I went to go see this past Wednesday at the Mohegan Sun Casino (courtesy of my mom who got us the tickets - thanks again, Mom!) - the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.

Long-time readers of this blog will recall that I've taken Amanda to see TSO not once but twice and every time I went I thought about how much Jamie would just love going to see them as she's always loved head-banging rock music and guys with long hair.  TSO has all that along with an amazing light and pyrotechnic show and more.  I'm not sure what's better -
their music or their showmanship but they never disappoint and put on one heck of a Christmas show.   Jamie was thrilled with the show and had as much of a good time as I thought she would.   I'm going to try to do a regular post with a bit of the concert as soon as I get a few minutes to breathe but for now, enjoy this week's Five on Friday along with a short promo of this year's 2010 Concert Tour. Trust me, it was one heck of a show!

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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

What Matters to You?

Penobscot Bay Sunrise

Today's post was inspired by my friend Lois from Ohio and by Amanda's favorite illustrator, Gris Grimly. That probably sounds like an odd combination of folks that one would get blog-post inspiration from but they both wrote about almost the same thing on the same day - Lois in her post A Memory and Gris Grimly in a status update on Facebook. I can't help but think that Lois and Gris were on the same wavelength yesterday even if she was in Ohio getting ready for her furniture to arrive at her new apartment while Gris was over in California working on some monstrously wonderful illustration.

Lois wrote about the death of her father three years ago and how his passing changed her outlook on life:
"From this moment on, I adopted a what would you do on your deathbed philosophy. You don't think about work, stuff, etc. You think about love, family, and moving on to the next step of life ... eternal life in God's hands. The next time you're angry at the driver ahead of you or something like that, think about it. Would it be your worry on your deathbed? When it's all said and done, does it really matter?"
Meanwhile over on Facebook, Gris Grimly wrote:
"Thinking about what is important in life. When all is over and you are lying on your deathbed, what matters to you?"
These are really good things for a person to contemplate even if one doesn't like to think about one's own mortality.  Death and dying is as much a part of the Circle of Life as being born and living is but people seem to want to shy away from that.  I guess that to a certain extent I can't say that I blame them as there's always the fear of the great unknown but I think my own fear wouldn't come from the adventure awaiting me so much as the fear of missing something as I left the rest of the adventure here on earth behind.

Still, we all go sometime - some with regrets that they hadn't done all that they wanted to do and others who have no regrets and are ready to meet their maker -  like my grandfather who said he had lived a good full life,  saw all of his children grown and settled, and was ready to go.  I'm pretty sure that as he saw his life slipping away he wasn't having any regrets or worries but was looking forward to his reward in the kingdom of heaven as well as perhaps seeing his wife and other loved ones who had gone on before him again.

After giving it some thought, my answer to Gris' question as to what matters to me was:
"Knowing that I did my best in giving my children encouragement and strength to pursue their own dreams; that I was the best friend that I could be to others; and that I was true to myself in the process."
I hope that when I pass on, I'll be able to look back and know that I accomplished those things and that I can rest easy on the other side.  How about you? What would matter to you before you have "slipped the surly bonds of Earth and danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings ..."?