I come from a family of five children, and I'm the eldest of the three sisters. After all these years, we are still very close. When our families get together we are surrounded by so many happy distractions -- mostly children and grandchildren -- and it is wonderful.
But once a year we three sisters "run away from home" and spend a long weekend together in our cabin called "Worry's End," in upstate Angelica.
We call it our Pioneer Women Weekend because the cabin has no electricity, no indoor plumbing and none of the conveniences of home. The water we use for washing has to be pumped from the rain barrel out back, and the wood stove needs frequent attention to keep us warm at night.
But I have to confess that our mom's house with a modern bathroom and a hot shower is a not-too-long walk down the hill, and her back door is always open. Other than that one concession, we just "make do" with what we have in the cabin -- and what we have is lots of fun.
We pride ourselves in having roasted chickens over a campfire and baked bread and pies in a Dutch oven in the embers of the wood stove. For entertainment, we do jigsaw puzzles, fly kites in the meadow and play endless games of UNO. And there's always a craft to do. This year, we made "dream catchers" to give to each of our grandchildren. One year, we even tried whittling spoons out of blocks of wood! Fortunately for our grandkids, the "dream catchers" turned out much better than the wooden spoons.
The whole weekend is filled with a lot of reminiscing, quite a bit of teasing ("Mom always likes you best!") and a whole bunch of laughing. It's all silly, and it's all fun.
The rest of the year, we are wives, mothers and grandmothers. But for that one glorious weekend, we are just sisters, and our time at the cabin strengthens that bond that so happily ties us together.
How fortunate I am to have sisters I truly want to spend time with!
--Ann Omholt,Huntington Station
Bumpy ride to my American dream
The year: 1974. I was 14 years old and, after many years of long lines, interviews with the American Consulate in Argentina, where I was born, and waiting and waiting, we finally got our chance to get on a plane and make our American dream come true.
I remember being taken out of school in the second grade to wait outside the American Embassy in downtown Buenos Aires to get a "number" so we could eventually fill out our visa applications to come to America.
Back then, flying, especially in Argentina, was a classy affair. When we were finally granted our visa, my parents took me to one of the best clothing stores in Buenos Aires -- one that we could never have gone to unless we were coming to America -- and bought me a suit for the plane ride.
On Oct. 20, 1974, we boarded a Braniff (remember them?) flight from Buenos Aires to JFK Airport. My dad and I were wearing our brand new suits, and my mom was resplendent in her brand new dress.
The flight was the worst that I have ever experienced -- and I say this from experience. As part of my job, I have been flying two or three times a week since the year 2000, so I know what I'm talking about.
The weather was horrible, people were throwing up all over the place, and the older lady next to me, whom I did not know, kept squeezing my hand and praying. Back then, they would give you full meals in coach, and during a brief break from the weather, they brought out our dinners.
As soon as they delivered our food, the plane started violently bouncing up and down again. I guess it was too dangerous for the stewardesses to come back to get the trays so most of us saw part of our meals drop on the floor; we were too sick and too scared to attempt to save them.
The one thing that has stuck with me all this time is that I grabbed my chocolate sundae (can you imagine getting a chocolate sundae today?) and held it in my hand and, while the rest of my meal lay either on the floor or on my tray, never to be eaten, I swore to myself that I would eat that sundae, even if it was the last thing I ever ate. I had never had such a dessert before!
Well, I ate the sundae, and we did make it to the U.S.A. where I became a citizen as soon as I possibly could after the mandatory waiting period of five years and where I have been living happily ever since.
So, all is well that ends well.
--Joseph Riotta, Massapequa