My Family Album
david-friends-2009Give You My Heart
December 2009




I'll take it!

Some girls want jewelry or fancy vacations or Broadway shows, flowers, or perfume. They are all nice, but I want more! I want the very essence of my man.

I've got it -- and I know I do!  See!

                       Hi Neely! (That's me)

                           You ARE the most important person in my life.

                       Sincerely,
                       David
        donna-david-heart-2009And you know what? David has my heart, too.

 
 
Christmas 2009
christmaslights021ea1b2a
We decided to spend the holidays at home this year. Life had been hectic, the flu virus was rampant in Taos, and spending a day traveling just didn't seem inviting. Of course, the final destination would have been fun. Spending time with my daughter, Kiersten, her husband, Falko, and their lovely daughters, Treska and Kaya; and my son, Jared from Santa Cruz, California, who did fly in, would have made it all worth while. But, we opted out this year.

David and I spent a quiet C
hristmas around our Christmas tree. We opened a few presents in front of the fireplace -- some quiet, stress-free music for me. I need it! Some new slippers for David. A beautiful album christmastree021z full of pictures of our beautiful granddaughters was a highlight. A fabric-art potholder with hummingbirds flitting across a sky of torquoise-blue now hangs on my office wall. It is just too pretty to hide in a drawer.

Roasting turkey and crockpot stuffing filled the air with tempting aromas. I slipped two sweet potatoes into my new microwave potato-sleeve that Kiersten sent. That was probably the most bizarre gift I have ever received, but it works! The yams were cooked to perfection. Mashed potatoes and gravy and, of course, corn, my favorite, rounded off the dinner with cranberry sauce. YUM! For dessert -- coconut cream pie and coconut ice cream. Double YUM!
christmassanta.aspx
So, Santa did his job for another year. Soon it will be time to head off to bed for a long-winter's nap. No more sugar plums dancing in my head -- just a whole lot of pleasant, warm memories.
   
donna-david-christmas-2009-
 
See you next year, Santa!!!! We'll miss you.

christmassleigh0_santa32c4





______________________________________________________________________

December 2009

Spending the holidays at home is giving us time to catch up with friends.

donna-david-angeli-mike-12
donna-&-angeli-3-december-
Angeli and Mike came by for a few hours this morning -- for a much needed visit. We talked as fast as we could while we had breakfast together.





    


   


 
I AM getting into the spirit early this year. If I didn't know better I'd think I was getting into the "spirits," but that can't be true. Anyway, I hope you enjoy my holiday antics with all best wishes. Be sure to click on the link below for some fun.

santa-donna-2009

Wishing everyone a very happy holiday season.

Happy New Year 2010

Best, Donna




Ho! Ho! Ho!Check out this Dancing Donna Santa.

 
(August 2009)

Here's a letter I wrote to my granddaughter.

         Hi Treska,

     You are amazing! I am so proud of you. As a fellow writer, I must tell you how excited I was when I saw your article, "Learning to Live Off the Land" in Mother Earth News. treska-mother-earth-news-c(Don't forget to click on the image gallery to see more pictures.) It was beautifully written.
     After spending two weeks on the farm with you this summer, I realize what a joy it is. The calm, peaceful time in the field picking onions, radishes, kale and sugar snap peas was so refreshing.
     You had a dream and you are living it. What more can anyone want? I know you have a lot of dreams and I know that you will make them all come true.
     Follow your dreams always.

     Love, Granny

Treska, a beautiful 13 year old dynamo, is following many dreams. Pluck her out of the treska-farm-3field, surrounded by onions, broccoli, tomatoes, and corn and plop her onto the floor of the dance studio and she will transform in front of your eyes -- a beautiful ballerina. In her African dance class, she is a whirl of color.

Treska's short list of career dreams include ballerina, of course, pediatrician, midwife, and super model. The beauty of it all is that she can accomplish any one of these dreams.


Here are the comments that family and friends have sent to Treska. I thank them all dearly for their lovely sentiments.

Pat  Streips (my best friend)

You should be proud - great article - love that they are so interested in caring for the earth and living off the land.  I want to live there and garden with them.
______________________________

Len & Helen Andrew (Kiersten's very close friend -- Marcy's Parents)

You should be very proud of Treska and Kiersten, as well as the rest of the family. Having them as neighbors has changed Marcy's life and has been a blessing.
______________________________

Nancy McDonough (friend and mentor -- Nancy was my student teacher mentor when I was learning to be a teacher. She is a 2nd grade teacher and a book reviewer for NSTA National Science Teachers Association.)

"What a brilliant piece of writing--fresh, personal and engaging, with not a wasted word!! This praise comes at the same time I am reading over 200 books vying for inclusion of the list of Outstanding Science Trade Books of 2009, so I know of whence I speak!!"
______________________________

Marliyn Singer (friend and author of more than 80 books)

What a great article!  I loved it!  You and David and Treska's parents must be so proud.

Love,
Marilyn
______________________________

Bryce Williams (cousin and friend)

Donna,

Another writer in the family! Great article! You should be very proud. Of course, I'm sure David is taking the credit for her writing talent as well as her farming abilities. He sees it as lab work.  Aren't grand kids great?

Bryce
______________________________


Meish Goldish (friend and author of more than 100 books for children and teachers)

Donna

Thank you for sharing your (grand)daughter's article. It is so well written! I see the apple doesn't fall far from the tree!

Take care,
Meish
______________________________

Judy Thau (sweet friend and fellow traveler on the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) train)

What a beautiful, smart, enlightened granddaughter you and David have. You must be bursting with pride over this. I have shared it with my kids, my two oldest grandchildren and a very dear friend that teaches special needs children (around Treska's age). Please let her know she is an inspiration.
Both girls are lovely..... just like their Grandma!

Much love,
Judy
______________________________

Monique (our German friend)

"WOW, great article! I loved reading it! The carrots looked delicious..."
______________________________

Christine Hayward (Aunt Patrice's sister)

Thanks for sharing the article.  What a wonderful experience it sounds like she is having.  She has found her passion and so beautifully shared it with us all.  You must feel so proud of her insight and ability to articulate it with others.
______________________________

Barbara Seuling (author friend who has written more than 100 books)
 
Donna,

Thanks ! You must be so proud! I'm looking forward to reading this.

Barbara
______________________________

Kiersten Figurski likes this.
______________________________

Maureen O'Donnell Kobierowski  (niece)

This is fantastic! Way to go Treska!!! = )
______________________________

Kevin Scully    (old high school friend)

Donna -- fantastic -- thanks!
______________________________

Saul Silverstein (Columbia Professor and friend)

You are just such a jewish mother, nice work on their part, nice
quelling on yours.

Best,
Saul  
______________________________
 
toy-train kiersten-weighing-a-baby







Here's Kiersten -- weighing in a brand new baby who she just delivered. Kiersten is a home birth midwife and she loves it!
February 2009
 
BROTHERS' BREAKFAST
July 1, 2008

It happens once a month in Erie Pennsylvania. Six brothers, a few cousins and many wives, all more than 70 years of age, converge on Peggy's, a storefront restaurant in the Liberty Plaza. They meet to talk politics. They talk about their children and grandchildren. They talk about their latest surgeries and who has the newest knee or hip. They talk about days gone by and days to come. They share brotherly comaraderie for two hours, then promise to meet again the following month.

Eggs and bacon, cheese omelettes, short stacks and high stacks of pancakes with butter and hot maple syrup, and hash browns and toast, glasses of orange juice and tomato juice cover the table. YUM!

I'm talking about the Figurski Brothers and here you can meet some of them.
ben-&-phyllis-2008





Here are Ben & Phyllis Ferguson.





 
David & Donna
My Best Friend!

Jared's House in Santa Cruz, California
 
 
David and I met when I was 16 years old. I won't even tell you how many years ago that was. He is my husband and best friend. We have lived in may places across this nation, including Erie, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Rochester, NY; and my absolute favorite, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, CA. I would follow him to the ends of the earth. Oh . . . I already did. We live in New Jersey.

Maybe, someday we will move back to California, or move to Mexico, or to New Zealand, or Spain, or Portugal, or Scotland, or Wales, or England, or Italy, or France. I love them all.
 
THE DAVID & DONNA FIGURSKI FAMILY
THE DAVID & DONNA FIGURSKI FAMILY
In Order of Appearance
David, Donna, Kiersten, Jared
 
Because we live so far away from each other, we rarely get together. So when we do, they are treasured memories. This memory was courtesy of my niece, Maureen, who married her friend, Rob, in Phoenix, Arizona.
 
 
Kiersten & Falko
My beautiful daughter, Kiersten and her husband, Falko.
 
Kiersten went to Bard College in Annandale-on-the-Hudson in New York State, where she did her senior thesis in German Women's Studies. During the summer between her junior and senior year at Bard, she studied in Germany at the University of Heidelberg and developed a great love of the European culture. So it was no surprise when after graduation, with a grant from the DAAD, Kiersten headed directly to Germany. And it's a good thing she did, too. There she met Falko . . . and the rest is history. They are now happily married with two beautiful daughters.

Kiersten lived in Germany for almost eight years. Four of those years were spent in Leipzig, Falko's hometown. Then, with their daughters in tow, they packed up and trekked across the ocean, and across this wide land to New Mexico. Kiersten had a burning desire to become a midwife. She began her training in Germany in 1998 and finished in Taos, New Mexico at the National College of Midwifery and the Women's Health and Birth Center. She graduated with an Associate of Science in Midwifery (ASM) and became licensed as a CPM and LM in 2002. She is now a home-birth midwife and is "catching" lots and lots of babies. She loves every minute of it . . . even the middle of the night phone calls and the long, unending hours.

Falko, who was the layout editor for The BILD, Germany's largest newspaper, gave up his career to travel to a new land and follow new dreams. He loves the beauty of New Mexico and hopes to begin a business of constructing new homes in the foothills of the mountains. During the winter, Falko works in a Bavarian restaurant in the ski valley. And he is the REAL thing.
 
jared-&-salmon
That is one big salmon!
 
 
I knew when Jared was four years old what he was going to be when he grew up. It was pretty apparent on that day at the stream behind my father's house when he caught his first fish. He caught it with a piece of string and a paper clip. His exuberance revealed his deepest dreams. As he grew up he was always near water, usually the resevoir near our home in New Jersey. His bedroom housed about ten fish tanks of varying sizes, and he always had some kind of experiment going. My favorite was the brine shrimp "contraption." Somehow with 2 two liter soda bottles and a lot of tubing he constructed a safe haven for the babies of the brine shrimp. If the babies weren't removed from the mother they would not survive, and he developed a way for them to survive. That was the begnning of his research career.

During high school summers Jared worked at the Maria Mitchell Aquarium in Nantucket. He helped to maintain the aquarium and regularly took the zodiac out into the Atlantic Ocean to gather new specimens to replenish the tanks. He gave tours and taught about the ocean animals to anyone who would listen.

After high school, Jared went to UCSC, the University of California at Santa Cruz. He earned a degree in Marine Biology . . .no surprise there. Jared now works and dives for the University and is the captain of the PARAGON, a research vessel. He holds many diving certificates, including research diver and rescue diver. In additon to working for the University, Jared is also a graduate student. During the summers between terms, Jared has been involved in research projects in Alaska, Ecuador, and Tahiti.


 
Free To Be!
Free To Be!

Today we will be cowgirls
with the wind blowing
through our hair.
 
I Can Read the Whole Book!
I Can Read the Whole Book!

I love to read and read and read and read.
Just give me a good book,
Working on her next novel.
Working on Her Next Novel.

I bet she takes after her granny.
She's always working on a new
book, too.
 
Look at MY New Boots.
Want to know how I got them????
Look at MY New Boots.

Want to know how I got them????
Well, you see my Grandpa was visiting.
And, I thought that my little sister would
really like a pair of pink cowboy boots.
And . . . well . . . so did Grandpa!

He's kind of a "pushover." but don't
tell him I said that. ;)
Writing in Her Journal.
Writing in Her Journal.

This is serious business.
I have to get down ALL my thoughts.
Before Sundown!
 
The World is MINE!!!
The World is MINE!!!

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For purple mountain majesties
America the Beautiful!
A Flower Among Flowers
A Flower Among Flowers

Can you tell which is the REAL flower?
. . . the one with the smile on her face.
 
.............Here are some very special people in my life . . . being very SPECIAL!...........
 
kayaglassesfeb2007Kaya with her new glasses.

She says, "Guess what.

I got my glasses!!!!!!!!.

Isn't that great?

It seems like the world's opening up because I can see everything
much
       more
                clearly.

 
 
COUSINS COUSINS COUSINS
Trish (Patti) and her husband, Bryce


COUSINS COUSINS COUSINS
Kathy (Ses) and her husband, Sam
and their daughter, Kayla
 
COUSINS COUSINS COUSINS


I have tons of cousins. My mother had eight sisters and brothers and each of them had at least four children. Some even had six or seven. So if you do the math the cousins really add up. My father had only one sister who only gave me three cousins, but add them to the bunch and I have tons and tons of cousins.

Unfortunately, though, all but two of my cousins live far away. The whole family started out in the Pittsburgh area many, many years ago, but everyone escaped. They moved to places with names like Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, California, and Michigan to name a few, so we don't get to see each other. In fact, I could probably walk by a cousin on the street and not even know who he or she is. So, it makes me feel really happy that I have two cousins who live near me and we are very good friends.

Meet my cousin Trish (Patti) and her husband Bryce and my cousin Kathy (Ses) and her husband, Sam, and their daughter, Kayla. I am so glad that they are family.
 
My Cousin Eddie
My Cousin Eddie
Ed Pavlik and his wife, Tammy
 
 
LONG LOST COUSINS

You surely have heard the saying" Long Lost Cousins!" Well, here are some of mine. This is Eddie Pavlik and his wife, Tammy. I haven't seen Eddie for almost three decades. He last visited me when I lived in San Diego . . . another life, so, so long ago. We finally met up again this weekend at my cousin, Kathy's house. (That's Kathy and her husband, Sam and their daughter, Kayla just above.) Kathy is Eddie
 
MORE LONG LOST COUSINS

I introduced my cousin Eddie and his wife, Tami, above. Linda, Melanie, and Lisa are three of Eddie's sisters. They are long, lost cousins, too. I re-met Linda and Melanie last summer (2006) when they visited in Erie. This summer Cousin Lisa joined the picnic my sister, Judy and her husband, Bob organized at their home. Michelle and her daughter made the trip, too. It was fun to take trips down memory lane -- trying to remember--yes trying to remember.

Kathy Spinelli (also above) is another Pavlik sister. The only missing sister is Diane in Florida. Hopefully, someday, I will re-meet her, too.


 Hi, I'm Linda. cousinlinda-  I'm Melanie.cousinmelanie  Call me, Lisa.cousinlisa

cousinmichelle









    I'm Michelle. Linda is my mom.
PAVLIKS -- one way or another.  cousinjessicaMy name is Jessica. Michelle is my mama and Linda is my grandma.
 
Relaxing on the Deck
Relaxing on the Deck
 
 
Hank Figurski
Father-in-Law
Hank Figurski
Father-in-Law
 
I have known Hank almost as long as I have known my husband, David. I joined the Figurski family a very long time ago. He's a cool father-in-law. I'm lucky he's in my life. AND . . . he's a good dancer, too.
 
THE TOM & KATHY FIGURSKI FAMILY
In Order of Appearance
Eric, Kathy, Matt, Caitlin, Tom
THE TOM & KATHY FIGURSKI FAMILY
In Order of Appearance
Eric, Kathy, Matt, Caitlin, Tom
 
Tom and Kathy are not only family, they are friends. Tom is four years younger than David . . . his brother, my husband. The funny part was that everyone always mixed them up when they were younger. Even Tom's, new bride, Kathy thought David was her new husband, Tom, when at her wedding, she came upon David alone in the reception hallway and said, "Kissy! Kissy! Kissy!" You should have seen Kathy's face when David turned around and said, " Well, let me check with Donna first." That has been a family joke ever since.

 
Caitlin
my 
Niece & Godchild
Caitlin
my
Niece & Godchild
 
Eric
my 
Nephew
Eric
my
Nephew
 
Matt
my 
Nephew
Matt
my
Nephew
 
Now Tom and Kath have three children, who are all getting pretty old by now. Caitlin just graduated from college and is working on her Masters in Sociology. Matt just began his first year of college. Eric is not far behind. Although they all live in Michigan, which seems like a world away, we are very close in heart.
 
Tom 
my 
Brother-in-Law
Tom
my
Brother-in-Law
 
Donna & Kathy
Donna & Kathy
Two Brothers
David & Tom
Two Brothers
David & Tom
 
Kathy
my 
Sister-in-Law
Kathy
my
Sister-in-Law
 
 
Pat & Patrice
Pat & Patrice
 
That's Pat and Patrice
with their 
Three Sons
Stefan, Keaton, Ryan
Patrice, Pat
That's Pat and Patrice
with their
Three Sons
Stefan, Keaton, Ryan
Patrice, Pat
 
Pat is David's youngest brother and Patrice is his wife. It's great having them as friends, too. They have three boys but they only had to go through pregnancy twice to get them. Stefan and Ryan are twins and they are getting up there in their high school years. Keaton is the youngest son. They all live in Detroit. Wonder what Detroit has that keeps drawing the Figurskis to it.
 
Stefan
Stefan
 
Keaton
Keaton
 
Ryan
Ryan
 
 
My
My "impish" Brother John
(aka Jackie)


Carol
Sometimes 
Known as Bertha
Carol
Sometimes
Known as Bertha
 
 
This is my younger brother, Jackie or Jack-o, as I often call him, but, I am the ONLY one who can get away with it anymore.

When Jackie was growing up in Erie, Pennsylvania (four years behind me) everyone called him Jackie, but when he turned eighteen, he decided to use his more formal and grown-up name, John. But, come on . . . look at that impish grin, does he look like he ever grew up? He still has the devil in his eyes and I promise you his sense of humor matches his grin.

Here's Carol . . . my sister-in-law . . . my warm weather sister-in-law. She lives in Phoenix and loves it there. Who can blame her? She used to live in the snow belt . . . Erie, Pennsylvania. That is one cold burg!

Carol and I love to go shopping together -- for nothing. It's just fun to walk and talk, and talk and walk. It's a "girl" thing. We also love to put the top down on her little white Miata and head out to nowhere. Driving in her Miata makes me miss mine. Mine was white, too. Really cool car!

Jackie and his wife, Carol, have become fun friends these past years. We call them our PPPals. That is our code for Puerto Penasco Pals. Once or twice a year we travel with them to Cholla Bay in Mexico, to sip Margaritas at happy hour on the deck of one of the local hotels; to walk on the beach marveling at the gorgeous sunsets; to pore over the silver jewelry so often that we've become fast friends with many of the vendors. Once, I found a frog ring. I tried to barter for it, but the vendor held steady on his price . . . a little too much for the ring, I'd say, but I bought it anyway. I think he knew I would. The glint in my eyes assured him it would be a sure sale. Speaking of "sale," one April for my husband, David's birthday, we all went para-sailing. Now that was a trip . . . literally!

 
Meet my sister, Judy,  and her husband, Bob.
January 2009judy-&-bob-2009
 
 
John O'Donnell IV
One COOL Dude!
John O'Donnell IV
One COOL Dude!
 
Now here's one really cool dude! This is my nephew, John. Everyone always called him "Little John", in fact, they still do, but . . . there's nothing small about him. The greatest thing about John is the twinkle in his eyes and his great sense of humor. His sense of humor and his new found sense of determination is what is getting him through one of the most trying times of his life.

In December of 2004, at 24 years of age, John suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). It almost took his life and literally took him back to zero. John had to learn to walk and talk all over again. One year later, he is making good progress, and though he still has a long road to travel to get back to good health again, I know he will make it. With his perserverence and positive attitude, someday this will be a fading memory. I am right behind you, John . . . cheering you all the way.

 
 
My Brother, Mark
My Brother, Mark
 
MY BROTHER, MARK

Okay, so I have another younger brother. Actually, everyone in my family is younger than me, except my parents, who, of course, are not and never were younger than me. But, I guess that is no different than any other parent/child situation.

This is my brother, Mark. I call him Mark-o. See a pattern here? I call my other brother Jack-o. Don't even ask me why. I couldn't tell you -- not because I don't want to . . . I just really don't know.

He used to be this little twerp that would run around the golf course when we were little. He still does, but he's not a little twerp anymore. He's kind of a nice guy.
 
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