Christmas thoughts, 2014

Posted by & filed under my life.

As I sit down to write this, my little kitty Grace has curled up next to me and is purring happily as I type. It’s a metaphor. I see metaphors everywhere. And this Christmas I wish you all a little grace curled up next to you, comforting you and filling your senses with happiness.

Peace has been on my mind as it is every year and especially this time of year. It is my goal to walk through this world learning more and more how to be an instrument of peace, because that is what this world desperately needs. And it’s not easy. Life gets upsetting at times. But I am learning that the following things make a huge difference in my attitude and effectiveness. They aren’t perfect habits yet. But they will be because I keep practicing! Maybe 2015 will be the year they are completely absorbed into my being! A girl can dream….

  1. Take care of myself. Eat real food. Get enough sleep. Move my body and get outside into the natural world.
  2. Focus on the positive. Turn off the news. Turn negative thoughts into positive ones.
  3. Meditate. Be thankful.

If we all walk around as our best selves, the world will change as ripples of love spread wide. We are all connected.

2014 Events

This was the biggest and happiest one.


Little Landon Carlos Mahoney was born on June 4th. On Auntie Kelly’s birthday. And now he’s this big:


This is Landon with his dad, the picture taken up at his parents’ farm (by Landon’s Beula MJ) with their puppies. Of course Landon has been exposed to many animals. He lives with kitties, Columbus always tries to lick his face, and so did these puppies. So cute. He’s a good little boy, very laid back, just like his parents. Tracey and Roberto are wonderful parents; he’s a blessed little boy. As are we, to have him in our lives. He has a Papa and Nana (Andy and I) and a Beulo and Beula (Berto’s parents). Lots of love to go around. And country living in both homes. Now, I ask you, doesn’t this look like one happy family?…


The other big news, which is sad, is that my dad lost his battle to stay here in this world after a bad fall. This just happened in November and is still really raw. I flew down to Georgia and got to be with him along with my brother and sister and mom during the last few days of his life, as we stayed with him around the clock. He was a good dad, and we will miss him terribly, but have been blessed to have had him as part of our lives for so long (he was 82). He got to meet Landon, and of course loved him. I have a short little video of him talking to Landon which is now a treasured possession. Here they are together…

dad and Landon

And this picture of me and my dad, found while putting together a memorial to him, has become another of my treasured possessions:


As you can see by his expressions, my dad loved little kids.

I had a powerful experience on the beach this summer, at sunset, where I felt surrounded by unconditional love. It was an amazing time, and I felt like I got a glimpse of heaven. So, although I am sad for us, I am not sad for my dad, who is experiencing this now. I couldn’t keep in that moment here on earth. But he gets to be a part of it for eternity.

On the homefront

Andy and I are getting used to being empty nesters. Andy is lovingly supporting me in my efforts to build a food forest on our property, helping me to put in an orchard (still more plants to get in this year), cutting down trees to let more sun in, building a pergola in the back yard for hardy kiwis to climb. In my mind, we are getting set up to live largely off our land as we enter our retirement years, which are still a ways down the road but the fruit and nut trees are going to take awhile to mature and produce, anyway. I consider these learning years, as I begin saving seeds and starting my own seedlings, and how to best preserve the extra bounty for the winter months. Andy is working on building up the soil in our orchard to support a couple more production gardens. And some of the trees he is cutting down we will mill and he will have wood to make some creations with in the years ahead – he made our dining room table from trees he cut down while clearing our land. I feel that this is a wonderful way to honor a tree that you fell. We have a couple of big oak trees that we can’t cut – I was ready to cut one of them until Andy was hesitant. So we will try to work around the shade that he (she?) casts over the garden. These trees are older than we are! I also continue doing herbal studies. I am fascinated by the power of herbs and learning more about how we can keep ourselves healthy just by what we eat. And I’ve started another blog, just for herbal / plant stuff. It’s called Dandelion Forest, which is the name I gave our place.

me in orchard   pergola

Andy and I have our own “children” still at home. Gracie, Max, Koda, and Columbus. They keep us busy. And entertained. Columbus is Andy’s new best friend. He loves that dog.

 columbusintruck columbusintruck2_small andy wood columbus

I love him, too, but he continues to be a challenge.

naughty columbus

The rest of the gang:

koda gracie gracieandmax


Andy and I are pretty much homebodies, but we do take the occasional trip. There are separate trips to Florida in the winter months – Andy to play golf with his buddies, me to hang with my girlfriends. This past year they took me to Disney World for the first time ever! I couldn’t believe how special that place is. I always pictured it as a bigger version of all the asphalt-based, long-lined amusement parks I had been to. Never knew it was so quaint and clean. And magical.


This fall we went to see what Kelly does in NYC, attending the New York City Wine and Food Festival, which she helps to put on as her job with Share Our Strength.


Another fun event this year was our Samoiloff family beach vacation in Rhode Island. This year we were in a wonderfully big house that accommodated all the gang. We had enough people there, including a couple of boyfriends, to make up two basketball teams, although they still played half court.


One of my favorite moments of that family time was when Kelly and Greg took their turn making dinner. Tunes were on and all of us in the kitchen started dancing. Greg took a turn dancing with Landon.


 Family Updates

Andy is working at Reliance Engineering, bought an industrial building with his friend (and Reliance’s owner) Craig, continues to play basketball and tennis and cut down trees and chop wood. We have a fire going all winter long. It’s cozy. His new toy this year is a smoker and he is perfecting the art of smoking meat. His creations are quite popular with guests.

I’m still at IBM, coding up web user interfaces, growing my own food and learning herbalism on the side. I’m a mostly vegetarian (occasionally will have a piece of fish) and don’t eat Andy’s smoked creations.

Tracey is working for Cornell University Veterinary Specialists (CUVS) in Stamford, CT, as a surgical veterinary technician. She is working towards a specialty in anesthesiology. She and Berto and Landon are living in Norwalk. Berto is a stay-at-home dad, doing coaching and caddying on the side. They lost two of their pets this year at too young an age. Stella and Austin (their orange tabby).

Alex is working for Nine Point Medical in the finance department. He lives in Brighton, MA and is the only kiddo close by! He dog sits once in awhile for us or comes for an occasional weekend to hang and watch football and eat Andy’s smoked creations. I looked through my photos and couldn’t find ANY of Alex. My project for Christmas is to pull out my camera and get some updated photos. Meanwhile, I stole this on from Kelly’s Facebook page:


PS It really warms my heart that my kids are such great friends.

Kelly is in NYC with Greg. They both walk to work. She is an event planner for Share Our Strength and helps plan the New York City Wine and Food Festival, a huge charity event that raises money for hunger. Greg works for Credit Suisse and is in the process of passing 3 tests for being a certified financial planner. He studies really hard for each of them for 6 months at a time and has only one to go!

And Andy’s mom Pinky comes out and spends weekends with us. We love to have her. She and I have babysat a couple of times for Landon when Tracey and Berto had weddings to attend.


In Closing

And with that, Andy and I want to wish all our family and friends a wonderful holiday season. May you all have a special time with your loved ones and may 2015 bring you many blessings. Love you all!





8 Responses to “Christmas thoughts, 2014”

  1. Tricia Murphy-Black

    Loved your Christmas letter Chris – although I knew much of the news from FB it is still good to see it put together with photos – Thank you.
    My challenge this year is learning to live with heart failure and its treatments! Recovery (3 months and counting) is very slow. Alas I have done very little for Christmas but am glad to reply to this post.
    Love to you all

  2. Patty Pinski

    Very nice thoughts and photos. I really enjoyed reading it.
    I hope 2015 will be a wonderful year for all of us on planet Earth.

  3. Dot Odgren

    My dear Chris,
    An update as beautiful as your heart….You will always be that special lady that brings a smile to our faces, a plant, poem or picture to our eyes, something delightful to eat or smell to our noses, something to think about or respond to through our ears, a christmas cookie, fish chowder, salad and more to savor the holiday season and those loving arms to wrap around us–tightly or sympathetically as our minds and bodies call out for solace or joy.
    I Love You.

  4. Erin Schurenberg

    This was great to catch up on all the happenings of the year.

    I’m so happy the oak trees were spared. We attend the donor gatherings of the Arc of Appalachia annually & I remember them telling us: if you can only do one thing, plant an oak tree. You are my proxy oak tree stewards bc we don’t have the space for a fully grown oak. I wish!

    Does anybody else think Alex looks so much like Doug & his mother’s side of the family?

  5. David Knudsen

    So nice to hear from you each year, Chris! A lovely, reflective update, as usual. Little has changed with me: I still work for the Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization using GIS tools. Happily ensconced in an older house in Wakefield, where we walk nearly everywhere and have too many tempting restaurants nearby to do as much cooking as we should. This fall we completed a renovation that added a first floor (2nd) bathroom, a change that anticipates older friends and relatives and our own older selves! Please keep me on your holiday mailing list!

  6. Christine

    Privledge to be your neighbor and have quite a few interest in common….children, pets, growing your own & God around us! Best to you and yours in 2015!

  7. chris

    Well, I do, Erin! (The Alex question.) and happy to be your oak steward proxy. We have many of them!