Monday, January 1, 2018

Looking For Crazy? It's 2018. Head in the Clouds. Time for Cumulus Crandall

 It's a New Year & a New Blog! Time to Relocate.

Crazy how fast 2017 traveled, but it's 2018. Why are you living in the past? Crandall has moved to Cumulus Crandall - 2018 (another year with his heads in the clouds). You'll find my posts there, but for now, I leave you with a montage of 2017...the year that just was.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Dirty Truth of 2017, It's About Over. Here's Hoping for a Tremendous 2018

The wintry mix yesterday made for a slower trip home to Connecticut, and it didn't help that the blue sky prediction changed over to a mini-snow fiesta in Stratford when I returned. I will definitely need to refill my windshield washer fluid because it was a dirty and gross time on the road (I can't even see my license plate and it was too cold for car washes to be open). The good news? Hamilton, the music, for my travels despite the nervousness of a dog in the back seat.

So, today is the last day of 2017 and it was a Crazy year, as I predicted 365 days ago. It's time to ring in 2018, and although I still feel like partying like it's 1999 (every year leading up to that year, that is), I'm optimistic that more magic will arrive to us all in due time.

On my travels home, I started thinking about the year that just was (which is a tradition for the voyage) and decided my last blog of the year would have to be a recap of the best highlights since this time last year.

So, What Was 2017?
  1. This is Us was a nice addition and I admit I'm an addict.
  2. The dossier files were turned in and I was able to recap the first 6 years at Fairfield University (all the graphs, charts, lists, reflection, evaluations, and work - still in PTSD mode over that).
  3. Chitunga was dropped of at LeMoyne College and he had two fantastic semesters, although I hate not having him at home. He's finding his way in CNY and loving his proximity to family and the work he's able to do (although it is non-stop)
  4. I got socks from the socks of the month club and it brought joy every time a new pair arrived.
  5. Attallah gave birth to Zoriah! 
  6. Sue McV had our backs for Run For Refugees and we brought a record number of runners with us to honor her kindness.
  7. I received the Elizabeth M. Pfriem Award Civic Leadership Award, the George Lang Award, and learned that in 2018 I would receive the Divergent Award for 21st Century Literacies.
  8. Chitunga and I were able to attend some of the ACC tournament in NYC before the Writing Our Lives conference.
  9. Saw Into the Heights and was introduced to the lyrics of Hamilton. I'm a sucker for lyrics and rhyme...always have been and always will be.
  10. Chitunga, my mom, and I visited Sherburne and Hamilton to visit old sites and to pay respect to Annie and Spence in Hubbardsville. Later in the year, Chitunga and I traveled to East Hampton and did the same with Ken and Vera. Those were two meaningful experiences that will be with me for life.
In between all of these highlights are many more, including time spent with family, good health (for the most part) of all, wonderful students, and the continued work with the Connecticut Writing Project. Even though nightly news made me sick to my stomach and the angst of cable stations had me nervous for the nation, I have to say the good, as always, outdoes the dirty.

So, I think the first thing I will do in 2018 is find a place where I can get my car washed. I like to begin anew fresh and clean, letting bygones be bygones. I wish I could have been successful at talking Chitunga into coming back to CT for a couple of days, but with this winter's craziness, he's probably better staying close to his work and school.

I'm tipping a mug of coffee to all you with wishes for the best 12 months possible. It's been CRAZY, but I'm ready to put my head back into the clouds for 2018 and be more in touch with my dreams, imagination, and fantasies. Let the 11th year of this blogging thing continue!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Twice in One Year: Sherburne, New York and Pat Lemery

Pat Lemery, Looking Great at '96
On Thursday, my family received sad news that Grace Runyan, a neighbor to my Grandmother Vera, passed away. My parents didn't want to make the trip, but I told them I would stay another day and drive them if they wanted to go to the calling hours. I knew it was important to them and, to be honest, it's also important to me.

Grace was a kind soul, a wonderful neighbor to my grandparents in Sherburne, and super friendly. My mom still says that she was the saving "Grace" for those days when my grandmother's health started to fail. To this day, every time some one calls for "Grace" at holiday dinners, we chime at the same time,"Grace Runyan."

 It's our way.

Arriving to Sherburne two hours before the calling hours began, we stopped off at what used to be Ozzy's, but is now some diner across the street from where my grandparents used to live. While eating lunch, my father found a phone book so he could call Pat Lemery (yes, I learned, they still make phone books), and Betty Ann, her daughter answered when he called.

Pat Lemery lives two doors from the diner where we ate. Betty Ann, her daughter, lives with her  on weekends to help take care of her. At 96, she's had a few health scares, but Pat is still on her own, feisty, capable and full of humor.

Betty Ann had a cup of coffee with us, then we went over to say hello to Pat, who looked great, despite the fact that she was mad at my parents for not calling her more often (she told us, "But don't you mind my anger. I tell my own kids the same thing, too"). She shared with us her reading machine she gets from the library so she can still listen to books on tape! Her cat also took a liking to me.

It seems like yesterday when we would visit Grandma Vera and Pat, with her 'damn green coat,' my grandfather's words, would stop in to say hello. On these trips, too, Grace would come by to say "hi." In this sense, I can understand my father's apprehension about returning to his family's home town - it's hard to see the depreciation, the aging, the fluidity of time, especially when things go by so quickly, and the fact that yesterday's hellos quickly become today's goodbyes.

I'm glad I stayed another day so I could be the Uber driver for my parents. It's a trip down memory lane to visit where they grew up and to meet the people that were influential to their upbringing. There's few who are left in Sherburne that they know, and I'm sure that it's got to be heavy on the mind and heart.

There will be a day, soon, where such connections to the town will be no more.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Lit in CNY: Friday, Freezing, But the Skies are Blue. That's Something

 Christmas returns day.

Mom and I traveled to Kohl's to return her Christmas gifts, so she could pick out new items without the luxury of a 30% coupon. While there, I was also able to make a power purchases (knowing that what I bought will be returned - it's the thoughts that count).

I think she'll keep the lights, however. I saw the glow on her face.

I almost forgot to post this morning, because I've been distracted in the last days of time-off mode (actually getting things in order for 2018, prepping for classes, organizing travel dates, setting my calendar, and writing recommendations.

Tunga's been in employment mode and it is humorous that he's up and out of the house even before my parents wake. Today will be my last day in Syracuse and we may be heading to Sherburne for a wake - we shall see how Butch does. It's 4 degrees outside...why not take a vacation within a vacation.

I just hope my car starts. Yesterday, the Hulk (Kermit) didn't want to turn over. He was saying, "#$@#$ this cold crap. Why you leaving me outside?"

Okay, time to read my papers.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

It's My Older Sister's Birthday & I Baked Her A Cake (and made this video)

The yearly ritual continues, where we over-do the Christmas holiday, and then put a cherry on the cake for my older sister's birthday on December 28th. I spent last night making her a cake and today we will gather to sing her birthday wishes, laugh, and listen to her complain about receiving any attention.

It seems like yesterday Cynde was eating a slice of pizza upside down after a night on the hill, when she sang "I feel pretty," and balanced herself on the edges of her waterbed. I think I am still traumatized by her alternative personality, Cynde-Loo, too, who used to attack Casey and I with her bangs combed down over her forehead covering her eyes.

Ah, today, however, is her celebration of life and, once again, I'm delighted to be home in Syracuse to be able to celebrate it with her in person. I wish I could deliver her warmer weather, but this is the best that Syracuse can offer.

This is a wish for all the bottles of wine that 2018 can muster her way. I've always told her that she should pick a day in June to trade her December 28th date with, but she stays consistent and true to the actual date....a post Christmas angel baby.

Happy Birthday, Cynderballs. We will let you blow out the candles tonight!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Finally Took The Polar Plunge...Ran 5K on the Ice at a Slow Clip

When in Syracuse, do as the Syracusians do....wear lots of layers, cover your skin, and be sure only your eyes are exposed to the winds (but under goggles).

The holiday food fest finally got to me and I couldn't take it any longer. I needed to move. I've been running indoors for the last two months in Connecticut, but I don't have gym privileges when visiting home. I simply bit my lip and said, "Crandall, you got this."

My father has layers and layers of Christmas hoodies and sweatshirts from year's past and I know I can always dress like I'm going on an arctic expedition. Yes, one is okay looking like the Michelin Tire Man when one runs outdoors in Syracuse at the winter. It's call survival. This is how you shovel the driveway, you get your mail, and you drive to the grocery store.

I should point out, too, that the sky was blue yesterday and the sun was out (which is very, very rare for these parts). Usually, the ceiling is as gray as the photograph hanging in my parents room - yes, that's Cynde, Bryan, and Casey behind Wampa, the snow monster from Star Wars.

Truth be told, when one is wrapped up enough, the run doesn't feel that bad. Actually, after I finished I grabbed Glamis and took her for a walk around the block (which I'm glad I did, because I ran into Michelle Marley who I haven't seen since my little sister's wedding). She was like, "I brought my running gear, too, but I don't think I'll be foolish enough to run on these streets. They're awful."

I said, "Where is you core, Michelle? We are Syracuse people. This is nothing. At least it's 12 degrees above 0 and the windchill isn't -25 degrees yet?"

CNY joke.

And today, I'm likely to go for another run as it feels awesome to move the legs and arms and to breathe the cold, fresh air. Sitting still hasn't never been what I'm good at.

Maybe today it will snow like it's Eerie, Pennsylvania! That will make it even more adventurous.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A New Way To Unite Family Over the Holidays! Using Zoom (an Office Perk)

 Christmas Day, a new display - Zooming with the 'tives downstate (but missing our Aunt Bobbie and Uncle Dick in California). The call was a 3 pm, post a brunch at the Barnwells, and I'm so glad that my cousin Mark could join us for the call (so he could build a fire and show us the warmth of his holiday festivities).

I also should admit that Dylan took me to see The Last Jedi and I cannot tell a lie. I loved every second of the film and would watch it again and again and again. I also said, "Man, they left this ripe for a franchise and numerous other movies."

Dylan looked at me matter of factly and said, "Duh. Why do you think Disney bought the rights? That's totally what they're going to do."

Um, missed that email, I guess.

Seems odd to know that the hubbub is now over and Chitunga, Nikki and Dylan are the ones returning to work today. I'm looking at the last few days left in CNY and wondering how I can convince the kid into taking time off and returning with me to CT for a couple of days. I'm pretty sure he's determined that work trumps a visit home, but I can at least put the pressure on and try.

Speaking of pressure, I definitely want to find a location to move. I hate missing more than one day at the gym or hitting the pavement, as it centers me, but I haven't wanted to bust an ankle with the wackiness of the ice situation on the streets. Not worth the risk of wiping out and setting myself back.

Time to start thinking about salads, grilled chicken, and the vegetable train for the next few months, to undo the last few weeks of baked goods.

The force has been with us. Feeling blessed this holiday season.