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!

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month Draws to a Close Today!

Like a lot of things getting moved around, stepped over, canceled due to Covid&Co, not much fanfare was given to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month per usual. Some foundations are doing virtual galas and fundraising efforts since their missions continue with our without a pandemic, and that is great that they are finding ways to achieve their goals. But the pandemic, frankly, exacerbates the childhood cancer experience beyond recognition with so many "rules and regulations" that need to be in place for everyone to be safe, and still deliver the treatments. 

I can't even imagine the angst and pray for the doctors and nurses in the trenches with so many kids and families fighting the good fight day in and day out!

Hug your kids and grandkids a little tighter today, and don't forget the three most precious words that everyone loves: "I love you."

BSoleille! #GoGold


Two photos of The Best Daughter and Ryan and Ryan with Braden Holtby after winning the Stanley Cup!

Sunday, September 27, 2020

#CelebratingOthers with my First Cousin Larry Piecuch!

 It was an awesome treat to connect with my first cousin Larry Piecuch. Through all the years I thought he was the eldest from all my cousins on both sides of the family (my parents married late and both were the babies of their families.)  Nope, not even close since our cousin Delores beats him by five years and is 86. Larry is my Aunt Mary and Uncle Mike's eldest and born in Cleveland, Ohio in April of 1939 (I'll do the math, he's 81.) My Aunt Mary was one of my Dad's sister's, and Delores was born from my Dad's eldest sister, Aunt Lottie (her Polish name: Władysława.) Larry's siblings include: Loretta, 78, (living in Louisiana had has three sons and many grandchildren) and Edward, 66, who lives in Cleveland, Ohio. 

Larry and family grew up on the East Side of Cleveland (E. 123rd and Superior) before moving to Cleveland Heights and then East Cleveland. He graduated from Cathedral Latin in 1958 and loved everything about his experience there. He then expressed a wonderful childhood, and was lucky to know my grandparents (they had died before I was born), who opened a butcher shop on Trumbull Avenue. He mentioned he spent every summer working with them and learning the ropes of butchering and using a smokehouse to make the best Polish kielbasa and meatloaf in a tri-state area. He said it was very interesting in making the meats by using a special shed and huge stainless steel drums. Larry was impressed that my grandparents kept all their equipment spotless (think: clean like a hospital.)

If Larry wasn't studying in school, he was practicing his skills on the accordion which he also loved to play. He was the life of the party playing polkas and obereks and delighted his parents and family, especially during the holidays. He also delivered the Cleveland Press Newspaper, and picked up a few shifts from the local Pick-n-Pay grocery store when he could. 

After graduation he worked in my Uncle Mike's (Larry's dad) furniture store in sales and in making furniture as well. They had a huge clientele back then, and made everything by hand (and it was very hard.) At one point, my uncle had 35 employees in the furniture shop because they made in furniture for other shops throughout the Cleveland area. My dad took me to my Uncle's shop on many occasions, but I do not remember the "sweat shop."

Not too long after graduation, Larry met the love of his life, Marsha, at Manners Restaurant in South Euclid. He was with his best friend, Ted Vandemotter (whom he met in third grade, and believe it or not, are still best friends today!) Marsha was with a car full of girls, and someone mentioned to Larry her last name but he didn't get her number on that initial meeting. So, what would you do if you had an instant attraction like Larry did? Well, how about opening the White Pages and dialing every Krebs in the book until he found the correct house she lived in! Talk about persistence (Larry said there were quite a few Krebs in 1958/1959 phone book. When Larry hit the jackpot on the right house, Marsha's mom answered the phone and told him the exact address where she was at that time. Within 10 minutes Larry and Ted met up with the girls, and the rest they say...is history!

They dated while Larry entered the Coast Guard as a Reservist and did a six month active stint on a ship docked in Bermuda (after boot camp in Cape May, NJ.) He was discharged from active duty in 1961 but served a total of eight years. 

They married a month before I was born; October 14, 1961. They have three children and eight grandchildren. I was closer to their children (my second cousins); Gregory, born in 1964, living and working in Georgia and married to Diane and their kids: Sydney and Dennis; Timothy, born in 1965, living and working in Cleveland, Ohio, and married to Stephanie and their kids: Jessica, Morgan and Stanley; and Pamela, born in 1967, living in Tennessee and married to Ken and their boys; Rhett, Grant and Dwight. 

Larry, who said that my Dad was the single most person who changed his life, began working at the same company as my Dad in 1967 - National Acme on Cleveland's East Side - as a machinist. At that time, the machines were run two shifts a day, my Dad worked first shift, and Larry, using the same machine, worked second shift. This allowed Larry to continue at the furniture store until he went to day shift at Acme. Both my Dad and Larry loved their jobs (Larry emphasized that it was the best job he ever had!) and worked in an area of the shop called the "Thread Mill." Fifteen guys worked those machines putting threads on all the parts that came through their machinery. 

As the industry began to wane, Larry said he was blessed to work at National Acme for 31 years in the "Thread Mill." He then went to other tool and gear manufacturing places for another six years until he fully retired. 

Always a car lover, Larry (and Marsha too) love the Corvette. He said he loves everything about this iconic car and has owned several over the years. They currently have four: a 1962 white one with red interior (1st Anniversary present to Marsha); a 1969 green convertible; a 1975 red convertible and the 1978 25th Silver Anniversary model he likes best and drives the most. He keeps them all in impeccable shape and loves to hit the country roads on nice days to keep them humming along.

Larry's favorite color is red and his favorite song is the Julida Polka https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8h-vw5U3Es His guilty pleasure is chocolate candy, and cars make him tick! Larry's superpower is that he is a good handyman, and if he could have any talent in the world, he would have loved to have been a professional baseball player. His bucket list item...of course has to be a car... and that would be a '57 Chevy convertible either in red or black. 

It was great catching up with cousin Larry and getting some "backstory" on my grandparents and aunts and uncles, along with his life with Marsha and a life well-lived.

I loved it when I asked him his favorite quote, which I think is by him; "If you can read a book, you can do anything." Isn't that the truth?

BSoleille! The bright side of #CelebratingOthers with Larry Piecuch!


Photos below provided by Morgan Piecuch (Larry's granddaughter.)

Friday, September 25, 2020

National Daughter's Day 2020

 To honor this September 25th tradition, "The Best Daughter" is all she can be and I am so proud of the wonderful young lady she has become! She has million watt smile, her heart is pure gold, and she's smart and sassy (takes after you know who), and I'm humbly blessed to call Olivia Grace Tomoff my daughter!



Thursday, September 24, 2020

Crisp Apple Anyone?

I haven't eaten an apple for a couple of months, and I don't know why. I do like them, but ate more strawberries and pineapple than a granny smith. But this morning, I had a hankering for an apple, and the one I bit into did not disappoint (oh, and I finished it, by the way). I'm glad to be re-acquainted with its deliciousness and tartness. I think I'll have several more in the coming weeks, how about you?



Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Happy Fall Y'All!

The autumnal equinox is now! We made it to fall, Covid and all! So, has anyone reached for a sweater out of the back of the closet or the top shelf (where mine are located)?  I think I am ready to usher in some cooler nights, but still love the mostly brilliant and sunny days ahead. I think Indian Summer has got to be around the corner for all to enjoy, depending on where in the world you are located, of course. 

It appears that I must reluctantly give up summer (sigh), and look ahead for the rest of the seasons before Summer of 2021. I can do that!

BSoleille! The bright side of leaves turning into deep reds!


Monday, September 21, 2020

NeedleOnFull Having a Ball!

 I'm still hanging on to summer for the next several hours, but thoughts have turned to cool temperatures (because that's what's happening here in the Mid-Atlantic) and warm and cozy sweaters. I'd rather wear shorts and tanks, but all that will be put away until next spring, and those sweaters are on deck, clean and rarin' to go!

My current days are filled with making cozy T-Shirt quilts and NeedleOnFull is full steam ahead, much to my delight. I love wowing my clients by turning their collection of T-Shirts and other clothing into a treasured keepsake where their memories can stay alive. 

BSoleille! The bright side of my NeedleOnFull bags ordered this past January have come in handy, not only for my finished product carefully placed in one when it goes home, they keep all projects neatly and organized! 


Friday, September 18, 2020

#CelebratingOthers with James Ford Rhodes High Class of 1980 Alum - John Verzi!

I know, it's been a while since I've done a Friday #CelebratingOthers, but I'm back! Ha! With all the talk of fires out West ruining thousands of acres of land and homes, I had the great opportunity to connect with one of the "coolest dudes" at Rhodes High School, John Verzi, Jr, and a Cleveland Fireman since 1989. Not only did he exude warmth as we caught up with 40 years of life, John was proud to say that he is a Captain at the Stickney and Pearl Road Station - very near his own home.

But before I dive into more about the fire department, John was born at Deaconess Hospital in June of 1962 (he's 58) to John and Barbara Verzi, and has two sisters: Gina, now 61 who lives in Florida with two children and two grandchildren; and Barb, now 54, married and living in Florida also (no kids.) John gushed about his fantastic childhood growing up on W. 53rd off Gifford, smack dab in Old Brooklyn he says, and oh so fun at every turn! He said his formative years were 'very old school' with drinking out of the garden hose, riding bicycles with his buddies, going to Brookside Pool (near the zoo) to swim in the summers and playing pee-wee football for Estabrook Recreation Center. 

By the time we met at Charles A. Mooney Junior High School in the mid-1970's with rock and roll steaming ahead, he joined a newly formed band as a roadie/light man with his buddies from the school (Ray Kusta, Ray Conde, Scott Del Pizzo, Harry Karr and Tom Geroski) called Black Dust! Some of the guys were in orchestra with me, and the others were in the band. They made their sound work (John said they practiced quite a bit) and performed at dances and parties and for anyone "willing" to hire junior high school kids. By the time we reached Rhodes High School, they had their own sound and were hired to play gigs all around Cleveland. John was "instrumental" in not only checking the lights and sound equipment, but more importantly, responsible for "crowd control," a "job," he said he loved. They stayed together as a band for six or seven years, disbanding in 1983.

John was candid with our high school years as he did not play sports, and said that he'd rather hang out in the Breezeway with his buddies before and after school. Although he said he took a few AP classes, he mentioned that he like his metal shop class with Mr. Zickes, and a family science class that he said was one of his favorite classes of all. He said the teacher had the class plan and design a "pretend wedding" that took the entire school year to plan - from soup to nuts and everything in between. I said to John that had to be the most practical class in the school. He agreed!

By the time we were in 12th grade (with the teacher strike in early fall through mid January) lot of kids got jobs to pass the time and earn some money, and John did too. He worked as a cook at Perkins Pancake  in Valley View, and then continued working there after graduation in 1980 until he began an apprenticeship through Max Hayes High School as a Tool & Die maker. He worked eight years for Reserve Industries as a plastic injection mold maker. He said it was a good job and in his wheelhouse, but had something else looming on the horizon that was a wee bit better for him.

One of our classmates at Rhodes, Tom Geroski, a friend and former "bandmate" of John Verzi's, was already a Cleveland Fireman when they met up one evening in 1988. As Tom spoke about being a fireman, John became more and more intrigued that night and wondered if Tom could help him become a fireman as well. By 1989, John Verzi met all the requirements, passed the test, and became a CFD firefighter cadet. He never looked back and has had an amazing career thus far. 

John declared that besides thinking he may be the only one from our graduating class living in Old Brooklyn (and he lives four doors down from his childhood home - his mom still living in it, by the way), he is also considered the unofficial "Mayor of Old Brooklyn." A distinction he proudly upholds!

And as content John is of his job as a firefighter and the unofficial Mayor, he is most proud of his family and his five children (and many grandchildren.) By the end of high school he was dating Kathy Manke (who sadly passed away last summer), and they spent five years together and had three children: Jeanette, 39 years-old, married and living in Florida with four daughters; Johnny, 37 years-old, not married and living and working in Cleveland; and Joshua, 36 years-old, living in Parma with three children and his fiance. He then had a short marriage to a woman name Sandy (no children together), and has been happily married to Jeannie since 2003. He has a daughter through marriage with Jeannie: Sarah, 34 years-old and is married and lives in Indiana with two children, and their son Dominic, 19 years-old who is currently in film school at Cleveland State University. 

John and Jeannie are very busy with their children and grandchildren but wouldn't have it any other way! And, they miss the ones living out of state a whole bunch. 

When I asked John about not playing sports in high school (he seemed like a good athlete to me), he said he just happened to be a "late bloomer." Once he joined the CFD, he learned of the World Police and Fire Games that holds competitions every two years. He reported that it's the second largest sporting event next to the summer Olympics. His sport: Volleyball. In the 1990's some of the guys he worked with started a team, and then practiced more and more until they began playing in tournaments around Cleveland and Northeast Ohio. By 2001, they entered the Police and Fire Games and headed to Indianapolis, IN, where they got shut out almost immediately. 

Not to be deterred, the team dug deep, began practicing in earnest, and by 2003, they took a formidable team to Barcelona, Spain and played against "bigshot" teams (bigshots meaning pro athletes mixed in the "regular police and firefighters" according to John). Unbelievably, they upset many of the teams in the competition, and by golly, stood proudly on the podium with silver medals hanging from their necks, stupefying the crowd! And then, in 2005, in Quebec, Canada, they did the unthinkable and won the gold medal in a nail-biter last game of the set. Our own John Verzi hit the last spiked shot down the edge of floor to victory! 

With all that glory behind John, he is happiest these days hanging out with his grandkids and taking care of his mom when he's not working 24 hours on and 48 hours off. When I asked him about the cooking at the firehouse, he said 70% of the guys/gals are good cooks and 30% of them are good "cleaner-uppers."

This green loving guy with a guilty pleasure of eating ice cream says his favorite motivational songs are Lynyrd Skynyrd's Simple Man and The Star Spangled Banner. When I asked him who is the single person that most changed his life, John gave me two: Jesus and Joe Vonalt. He also acknowledged that he loves to help others with his superpower on board being Jesus Christ, and that his bravery manifests in his desire to keep helping others whenever he can. The most beloved thing he owns is his home, and the greatest gift he ever received is his Charmglow Grill. John would love to take his wife on a bucket list trip to all 50 states (in retirement?) and ended our Q&A that the world needs now is LOVE SWEET LOVE. I couldn't agree more!

And lastly, John said life (and parenthood) is a roller coaster and you just gotta hang on through the ups and downs. He also summed up our "interview" with what helps him the most on the roller coaster of life:

"I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me." Philippians 4:13

BSoleille! The bright side of the pure pleasure of catching up with John; I only wish him the best as he continues to pursue his hopes and dreams! 


Photos below provided by John

Collecting at air show for MDA


Blast from the past! The hair, the sunspecs and the freckles!

Two grandchildren to add to the grandies below

With the grandkids


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Beautiful World? How About the Complexities of a Simple Rose?

Ansel Adams, most noted in working in black&white photography said this: "I believe the world is incomprehensibly beautiful, and endless prospect of magic and wonder. " Of course it is...but

I wondered if he ever considered the natural disasters hitting our beautiful lands today, and would the fires and hurricanes be considered beauty, or tragic...and not magic?

Nevertheless, there is boundless beauty everywhere we look, possibly even in our own backyards.

BSoleille! The bright side of the delicacy of a rose...a beauty all around the globe!


Ansel Adams maybe would have taken the rose like this - in black&white

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Do You Think This Helps? Left Lane Loafers...

Traveling the highways and byways of this great land, interstate driving can be cumbersome with "slow" drivers in the passing lanes. Are you with me here? And then let's not forget the 18-Wheelers who "decide" in pairs to start a convoy to slow down the traffic on their own. Sometimes it's when there are the silly ones weaving in and out of traffic at 90mph (especially on mountainous roads), and, I believe, those smart truck drivers can't take it any longer then "fix" all the drivers, not the ones causing the distress with an intentional slow-down. 

I'm hoping it's all done for the safety of the travelers no matter the size of the vehicle. 



Sunday, September 13, 2020

Back on the Pitch

 Although the state of  Maryland opted not to play fall sports, the club soccer teams are trying to make a go of it. Today was the start of the season for many teams playing in the few leagues scattered around the area. The kids are great and parents and coaches and bench personnel were all in masks and socially distanced as much as they could on the sidelines. I was duly impressed (and, more importantly, felt safe). 

I'm thankful that the kids were able to vent all that bottled up Covid angst and play the beautiful game to passionate coaches and parents cheering them on...all positively, of course.



Photo below of "The Best Daughter" when she played for the "Pheen." (Freestate Phoenix)

Friday, September 11, 2020

Flashback Friday

What the heck, one more photo from October 1996 with my lovies! No Facebook or other social media back then, only a SLR film camera to photo journal the journey. I'm glad we have the photos to know where we came from and where we we were headed!

And hat tip to 19 years post 9/11/2001 - we shall never forget that sad day in history...


Thursday, September 10, 2020

Throwing Back a Thursday!

It's Childhood Cancer Awareness month and I'm throwing back a photo from October of 1997, shortly after Ryan was diagnosed with ALL (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia with CNS involvement.) I'm loving  him up, and even went along with having an emla cream patch on my hand to convince Ryan if the nurse (or me) put this emla cream on him, a shot of whatever won't hurt that much since it is supposed to desensitize the skin and point of injection. 

He's two years old, so could he even believe me? Or get the gist of what we were trying to convey to him?



Tuesday, September 8, 2020

New Cooking "Toy" Joins the Fleet

Son Ryan loves to cook on the grill - and today, a new one - a Blackstone - joins the fleet along with the other two (Weber and Traeger). They all serve different functions he says, but to me they all get hot and then cook/grill/barbecue anything and everything your heart desires. I'll leave it up to him to "cook" up something good and tasty and mouth-watering as he usually does, much to our delight very soon.



Monday, September 7, 2020

Cheers to Labor Day 2020!

We all know it's a weird year of 2020, but I can't help thank all the American workers and their achievements who contribute their time, talents, creativity, knowledge and strength for the well-being of our country. And though many can say it's the "end of summer," I can't let it go yet, despite what the calendar says today. 

I hope everyone had a nice day and long weekend - you deserve it!



Photos below of the Blue Ridge Mountains and "The Best Daughter" with her initials OG - and who loves social distancing! A perfect backdrop for her!


Sunday, September 6, 2020

Biltmore to Bear Sighting and Hiking In Between!

It's a great feeling to tick off a bucket list item, and for me it's taking a peek inside that beautiful home of Americana - The Biltmore. It did not disappoint, and even though the house was lovely, the gardens and surrounding area was equally breathtaking...all within the backdrop of the gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains.  In addition, a Downton Abbey exhibit was also available to see, and we got to there one hour before closing to check it all out. They had several sets from filming the show in the exhibit, and "The Best Daughter" and I loved the dining room with all the finery of a great set table best. Everything was there: the china, crystal glasses, cutlery as well as the table and chairs, candles and fresh flowers. If only the Dowager Countess played by Maggie Smith could have sat down with us and delighted us with a few of her best witted quotes.

Our mornings were filled with awesome hikes in the Mountains that were spectacular from the first step in, coupled with perfect weather and a bear sighting this morning, I'd say the trip is quite successful. We also loved the funky vibe around Asheville and the River Arts District plethora of wonderful artists and their studios. Of course, no one ever has enough time exploring a new town (for us), and we ran into that o too. 

But the greatest gift of all was spending time with "The Best Daughter." She's an awesome young lady and it was an honor for me to deepen our mother/daughter relationship with everything we shared here in Asheville, NC and beyond.

BSoleille! The bright side of kickin' the hikes in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains!


Photos from the weekend below:

Biltmore Gardens

Olivia on veranda at the Biltmore

Downton Abbey's Mrs. Patmore's Kitchen

The Dining Room from Downton Abbey

Bear Sighting...

One of thousands of hiking trails in the BRP

Friday, September 4, 2020

Asheville or Bust!

 "The Best Daughter" and I have never been to Asheville, North Carolina, so we thought this weekend would be a good one to explore it and the Blue Ridge Mountains. It took us about eight hours to get down here from Maryland, but worth it for the adventure we have planned for the weekend; hiking, hiking and the Biltmore (a bucket list item for me.) 

I'm happy to report on all the precautions are set in place here, and since the weather is gorgeous, we are excited for our outdoor adventures. We can't wait to explore more in the next couple of days!



Thursday, September 3, 2020

Throwback Thursday in the War on Childhood Cancer with Ryan

 Ryan at two weeks in from his original diagnosis on 10/17/1996. Thankful for some smiles!



Wednesday, September 2, 2020

It's September - Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Though Ryan is no longer a child, he, of course, as many know, is a childhood cancer survivor. I hope we can all take a collective sigh for him, and all kids in the battle, and know that more work needs to be done in research, fundraising and on the radar so treatments don't need to be barbaric and scary. 

    I am going #gold for September to support the cause!