A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Cabo Closes for Me

All good things must end, including my glorious trip to Cabo San Lucas. But as the sun went down, the full moon rose high in the ink black sky and shined brightly on the Sea of Cortez for my last night in "paradise".  

BSoleille! The bright side of "Home Sweet Home". 


Friday, March 30, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - CLE in CABO

Since March is National Women's History Month, what better way to celebrate my lifelong high school friends in this posts #CelebrateOthers! Thankfully, in 1987, the US Congress designated this month for "us" and more importantly, created an opportunity in our schools, our workplaces, and our communities to recognize and celebrate the often-overlooked achievements of American women. I can say with ease that this definitely includes six graduates of the Cleveland Public School System in 1980. 

All six of us were born and raised in the city of Cleveland to working class parents, and then as life has it, a few of the girls were raised by single parents (their Dad's died very young), while going to various elementary schools, then the junior high school, and finally, all meeting up at our alma mater: James Ford Rhodes High School on Biddulph Avenue.

All week we laughed and reminisced about how we met (like which grade we were in), the fun and hijinks we had, the teachers (we all had mostly great ones!), and the classes we took, plus the boys we liked back in the day. Music and concerts and ice skating parties were all the rage then, and we took advantage of those opportunities when we could. We've done good, ladies, no small feat for sure! 

I would like to introduce you to these five amazing and inspirational women that I've had the honor and good fortune to know for over 40+ years (from oldest to youngest):

Robin Chandler: Robin met most of us at Rhodes (but went to junior high with Sue), and was lab partners with Kata in A.P. Biology. Robin was a whiz at math, and that led her to Case Western Reserve University where she graduated cum laude in 1984 with an accounting degree. She worked in public accounting for a couple of years, then moved on and became the Business Manager/Controller in radio for 24 years. Through those building years, she earned her CPA and MBA, and currently is a CFO at a private school in Cleveland, a position she's held for the last six years. Her favorite color(s) are mauve/coral/pink and she loves nature and animals, especially her dog, Izzy!


Kata Pagon: I/we met Kata in the seventh grade at Charles A. Mooney Junior High School, and this woman is wicked smart! She never got lower than an A, which served her well as she was our class Valedictorian at Rhodes High. Kata was a Ramette (pom-pom girl), plus the president of many organizations both in junior high and high school. Kata also went to Case Western Reserve University and majored in biology earning her degree with the distinction of cum laude in 1984. In fact, Kata and Robin were roommates for their first three years at Case. Kata wanted to go to medical school following graduation, but deferred that for a couple  years to work at various labs (Case Medical School and University Hospital with Dr. Huang) to pay down her undergraduate student loans. By 1988, she was ready, willing and able to attend The Ohio State University Optometry School where she graduated in 1992 and began her 20 year career as an optometrist. She and her husband, Lenny, have raised three great boys (men, really); Nick, Adam and Michael who are 31, 29 and 22 respectively. Her favorite color is blue... 


Sue Doerle: Most of us met Susie in the 10th grade at Rhodes because she went to Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. Sue loved to ski and was in the ski club at Rhodes where she gained friendships with Sarah and Debbie on the slopes. After graduation, Sue went on to earn her degree in pharmacy at Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio. At that time, the program was five years, so Sue graduated in 1985. I learned this week that Sue loves to work in the hospital setting since it's more clinical and challenging, and she got to live this dream working at the Cleveland Clinic for two years, Kaiser Permanente for 10 years, and Parma Hospital for the last 20 years. She and her husband Kevin raised two boys; Kevin Jr., age 23 and Samuel, age 21. Her favorite color is light pink and she voted for Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Free Bird" to be our class song (did not win).


Sarah Marriott Czajkowski: Sarah is truly a dynamo and loves to be on the go. Debbie and I met Sarah while we were in the third grade at Benjamin Franklin Elementary School, then we all went to Mooney and then Rhodes. Sarah was also a member of the ski club loves music. She continued her education at Miami (of Ohio) where she majored in communications. This helped her with some of retail jobs, and then as a social worker for Children's and Family Services of Cuyahoga County for three years. Shortly after she married her husband, Joe, they moved to Traverse City, Michigan, for three years for Joe's job. They loved that area of Michigan, but Joe got transferred back to Ohio and they moved back. By then, Sarah decided to go back to school and earned her Master's Degree in Education at John Carroll University. Believe it or not, Sarah teaches at the junior high school, Charles A. Mooney, "where our friendships blossomed". Sarah loves spending her free time with her family, especially her two girls from Guatemala; Isabelle, age 13 and Alexandra, age 11. Her favorite color is blue (any kind) and her dream is to live and teach in Paris, France, for one year!


Debbie Martinko: Out of all of us, Debbie and I know each other the longest, meeting each other in second grade at Benji. She was always very nice, but never talked, ever, not even to her family at those younger ages! Funny thing though, she majored in communications at Cleveland State University, graduating in 1984, and had, and continues to have, an illustrious career. Her first job was making tomato baskets since her extended family owned Cook's Greenhouse on Jennings Road (remember those juicy tomatoes?? The BEST!). Debbie has worked at a lot of big and small companies in the Greater Cleveland area including Kurtz Brothers; Fabri-Centers (which is JoAnn Fabrics today); and Food Service Enterprises. She then went on to Public Relations/Marketing jobs at Meridia Health Systems (now the Cleveland Clinic) for 13 years; became the PR Director at Ohio Savings Bank for eight years, and today is the Executive Director for Cleveland's Coats For Kids. She also has her own freelance/writing/marketing business and writes for various publications throughout Northeast Ohio. Deb loves to keep active with travel (to beaches, of course, with her Mike of 20 years), her boxing classes and walking her dog, Clancy everyday...rain or shine (but maybe not snow and sleet...well, maybe on occasion with that), and loves the color "light teal".


Well, there you have it folks! Five accomplished, funny, articulate, and smart women I am blessed to call my lifelong friends! And a huge shout out of THANKS to Kata and Len for hosting this crew!!!

BSoleille! The bright side of friends in their fabulous fifties!

Thankful for the Fun in the Sun!

The sun never quits here (except for night and, egads, rain), so we’ve packed a lot into one week in glorious Cabo San Lucas! Today was no different as the temperature hovered around 80 degrees, and we lunched at a great restaurant called Flora Farms. Dinner was in downtown San Jose Del Cabo and the food is simply delicious. All those classes we took this week certainly helped our dancing at El Patio Steakhouse this evening with Alexei (the rumba instructor who also sings and fronts the band)! Kata invited several of her neighbors to join in the fun too and the night was very festive and entertaining. 



Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Chicas and Senoritas

The Cabo experience continues to wow and "exhaust" us. Day 4 was jam packed from start to finish including a 3.5 mile hike in the mountains surrounding Cabo; an hour of Zumba following the hike (note: not all do everything, but some do most things "thrown" at us :)); beach time, pool time and kayaking; a glorious sunset cruise on the El Discovery boat for over three hours and an hour of night tennis once back from the cruise. I will say, I reached some of my all time highs on my fitness app this week while we "race" from one thing to the next...and loving every minute of it!

It's been a great few days of building on already wonderful lifelong friendships, and the blessings continue as we look forward to the remaining days in this slice of paradise.



Hiking up the first summit: Robin, Debbie, Kata
Enjoying the views!
Zumba with Kata, me, Robin and instructor - Blanca
At the Beach with the Chicas!
Edgar pushing out the kayakers; Robin and me
All aboard the El Discovery! Ready to sail!!
Leaving the harbor for sunset!
Kata and Len Pagon
Sunset in Cabo

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Looks Like a Big Fish Tank

A snorkeling adventure to Santa Maria Bay and Chileno Bay resulted in big fun with seeing lots of beautiful fish like we were in a huge fish tank. My biggest "fear" was the water would be too cold, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it wasn't too bad to jump in, put the fins and mask on and enjoy the "scenery" below the surface. It was my first "official" snorkeling I've ever done and it was great despite a lot of people in the water (and boats) doing the same thing (spring break for a lot of folks!).

Thankfully, Sue Doerle saved the day by bringing her underwater camera to Cabo, and Robin took the photos seen in this post today. No one took their cell phones for safety reasons, but I am thrilled that we had a camera to use for the day. I think Robin did a stellar job in taking these photos because it's difficult to "see" with a mask on...

We rounded out the day with a lovely dinner at our hostess's favorite restaurant: Comal. So sleek and vibrant with a grand view of the water.

BSoleille! The bright side of all kinds of colorful fish just below the water's surface!


Me with a sea urchin
Sarah, Robin, Debbie, Kata, Terri and Sue at Comal

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Land’s End and Then Some

The Cabo Crew got an early morning start with a walk around "campus", a stop in San José del Cabo, a couple sets of tennis and ended the day at beach restaurant "The Office."  Not only did we dine and enjoy the atmosphere there, we all boarded a small boat that took us to "The Land’s End." It’s the southern most part of Baha California where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean along with its famous arch and barking sea lions. 

Lots of laughter and plenty of warm sunshine helped this crew navigate our day with each new adventure taken. And let’s not forget to include the bracelets...



In San José del CaboFinished the first setLenny, Debbie and SarahRobinThe Mexican bracelets...were multiplying 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cabo San Lucas Bound

A reunion of high school friends since we’ve been 14 years old (some earlier) culminated in our carefully planned trip to Cabo. If you’ve been, you know it’s like a "paradise" that is simply stunning beyond words. The sun and surf, plus the beautiful color of the water itself (deep blues and pretty greens and it gets all mix up with the big crashing waves) is truly something to "write home about" for sure.

I can venture out on a limb to say we are all very thankful for this special girls getaway, and prepared for all the adventures planned for this coming week! 

BSoleille! The bright side of a holiday in Baha!


Debbie Martinko, Sue Doerle, Sarah C, me, Kata Pagon and Rockin’Robin with Zoe

Friday, March 23, 2018

What Kind of Packer Are You?

So when you go on a trip, do you overpack? Underpack? Or pack "just right" (channeling the Three Bears...of travel!) It seems like I can go for a weekend, or two weeks, with pretty much the same doggone things. I pack stuff, then take stuff out. Weather is a biggie, as you have to pack for various temperatures...and then the shoes/sandals/boots/sweaters/coats/jackets....yikes! The thing you leave out, thinking you'll never need it, is the one thing you find that you should have packed. We've all been there and tackled these travel woes. But, thankfully, whatever is packed will have to do in any far flung place around the world or simple a weekend getaway. We can and will get by, I'm convinced!

I will add that once I used everything in my suitcase and bags...but that is very rare.  I tend to overpack more than pack "just right". And "just right" is where I'd love to get to someday.

How about you?

BSolielle! The bright side of traveling light!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - "The Best Daughter" Turns 26 today!

Twenty-six never looked so good, especially when that special person in your life is your first born daughter. Really, it seems like yesterday that sweet bundle of joy was gently placed in my arms by a loving nurse at Fairview Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. A start of a new journey in motherhood, and I was thrilled beyond measure.

Fast forward through all the "stages" of development, including college, and viola', an amazing and grown woman stands before me! She has certainly weathered a lot of storms, the top one being the big sister to her brother Ryan, a five time cancer survivor, where her tenderness and strength came through in spades when the chips were down on many occasions. She was the "rock" that held our family together, and I /we will always be thankful for her fighting spirit and pragmatic ways while the family navigated through some very rough waters through her developing years.

So today, we toast and celebrate "The Best Daughter's" Birthday, along with her ever increasing wise ways; all needed as she operates through and around the business world at KPMG. Her grit,  determination and the fact she goes "hard in the paint" everyday (forgive me, but I had to say it while college hoop tourney is on) is bar none; on the job and in everything she does in life. What more can a set of parents ask? We are very proud of this beautiful young lady named Olivia Grace and love her more than words can say!

BSolielle! The bright side of a very Happy Birthday to Olivia Grace Tomoff!

Photos: Dinner in Georgetown
Olivia at 26!

O, Mom, Ryan, Lizdot, Dad

O and Me last summer at Ali Meir's Wedding!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Is It Pretty Anymore?

First full day of Spring, and thoughts of sunshine and warmer temperatures dance in my head. Mother Nature has her own mind, however, and decided to drop six inches of heavy white fluff all over the East Coast. Who can complain, though, when Boston and the New England states are getting hammered lately with blizzards every week? Of course the branches on the trees are fully covered (though I'm concerned that super heavy snow will break all the boughs and cause some serious damage), and we did have some total white out moments today! Yikes!

It's tough when the whole state shuts down, schools are closed and no one is happy any longer with a "snow day." But we all know warmer days will be here again; they just can't come soon enough.


Photos of our backyard wonderland...wondering where and when the sunshine is going to peek out! And a shoverler!

Monday, March 19, 2018

Birds of a Feather

Spring is supposed to come tomorrow as the calendar states, but who knows weather-wise if it will get here. It really can't get here fast enough for the of "tired of winter people", of which I am one, and snowy and cold weather has to be in the rear view mirror soon, or that is my hope. So while looking outside today, I couldn't help noticing two robbins playing in the yard enjoying themselves and hopping around in the "growing" grass. And then I got to thinking about how many bird species there are in the US and how many there are in South Africa because I started noticing a lot of birds flying around the yard, though only the usual suspects of cardinals and bluejays.

I thought there were over 8,000 bird species in S. Africa, and boy was I off, as they "only" have around 923, which is still quite a lot. Here in the DelMarVa, there are about 150 bird species, certainly a far cry from those high flyers over 10,000 miles away, but I'll take notice when I can, and enjoy the photos of some of the birds I was lucky enough to see and take photos on those two African trips a few years ago.

BSoleille! The bright side of backyard birds, and those flying around in Southern Africa.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

They are All Champions!

Everyone who participated in the USATF Master Indoor National Championships is a winner in my "book." The inspiration is clearly off the charts when you witness a race of 75-100 year old men or women running... and some, very fast! Age is a state of mind it seems, and yes, there is some "slowing" down, but this weekend was spectacular with these Master Track & Field athletes from all over the US, Canada and Great Britain giving it their all! 

So kudos to Jodie Smith and Rosalie Franek in bringing home another amazing race in their 800 meters races! Wooohoo!!



Saturday, March 17, 2018

A DC St. Paddy's Day 2018

We missed the DC St. Paddy's Day Parade that was held last weekend, but today the city was rockin' all over the place with scores of people in every Smithsonian Museum that long lines were formed to get in them (something I've never seen before). But all that did not stop our gang from walking the streets and mall area and getting into three museums sans lines earlier in the morning. A great lunch at Clyde's rounded out the day exploring the city and many of its "treasures".

I am thankful to "share" the nation's capital with friends near and far; but it would have been nice if the Cherry Blossoms were in bloom (maybe next week).


Photos from the day.

Jodie, Terri, Rosalie in China TownJosh, Rosalie, Jodie, Kristina, Terri and Olivia at Clyde’s near Capital One Center Bill and Terri at National Gallery of ArtRosalie checking out the newly released Obama Portrait at the National Portrait Gallery