Travel – Labor Day Weekend

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Labor Day weekend begins the day after tomorrow. Some people are returning home from their end of summer vacations, some are beginning their getaways. Our family is traditionally back by Labor Day weekend. This year we didn’t go away – car and house repairs made that cost prohibitive but we did manage to do an overnight trip that, to be honest, had its ups and downs. We’re spending this week of vacation getting together for dinner and mini-golfing at the end of the week, and then back to school and work for most of us. Middle child started college so he’s been attending classes while the rest of us have been sleeping late and eating potato chips for breakfast or something equally healthy!

New York has a vast amount of wonderful things to do and places to visit. I truly love living in New York. Even at the height of Covid, we were still able to travel within the state safely. Staying in a hotel and eating at restaurants, we felt very safe.

Here are a few of my recent recommendations:

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Inspire. August.

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I’ve often talked and written about how profoundly life-altering it was when I returned from my first (and at the time I thought only) trip to Wales. It was barely forty-eight hours and yet it left an indelible mark on my soul. It led me down new paths that branched off and created new adventures and journeys within these past thirty-five years. If I recall correctly, that first summer was spent working at (the now defunct) Waldenbook’s bookstore, where as an employee I received a 33% discount, and folks wonder why I had less money at the end of the summer than I started with. I was straightening and dusting books, and performing an additional wide plethora of mindless tasks when I noticed a small mass market paperback book high on a shelf. It was the title that drew my attention: Here Be Dragons. I thought it would be fantastical and in line with my hobby of playing Dungeons & Dragons, but I was to be disappointed in that, and extremely gratified to discover that it was a novel based in medieval Wales centering on the life and world of the Prince of Wales, Llywelyn Fawr.

I was drawn into this story quickly. This is the only book that I’ve owned three copies of: one that I read several times and gave to someone to read, a new copy to replace that one, and a digital copy for my Kindle. There were two subsequent novels, Falls the Shadow and The Reckoning, now know more or less as The Welsh Trilogy. I was all in.

The author, Sharon Kay Penman had a way of bringing me into the medieval age, and I read the rest of her books – all of them – voraciously. Not one was a disappointment. One of the things that drew me so deep was Penman’s Author’s Notes, where she discussed and explained her researching process and she defined some of the things that seemed implausible but that had in fact actually happened.

  1. Lady Joanna’s affair, the burning of the prince’s bed, and the execution of her lover. True.
  2. Gruffydd ap Llywelyn, the prince’s son was held hostage by King John and the terms of his release were detailed in the Magna Carta; yes, THE Magna Carta. True.
  3. Eleanor de Montfort kidnapped by pirates. True.

And much more.

Earlier this week, I discovered that Ms. Penman died in early 2021. I am heartbroken, but I’ve discovered her last published book, The Land Beyond the Sea, which I began this afternoon. The memories of reading her well-researched and well-developed books will continue to inspire me as I continue to gain insight into the process of writing and the joy of reading.


“We’d become aliens in our own land,” he’d warned, “denied our own laws, our own language, even our yesterdays, for a conquered people are not allowed a prideful past. Worst of all, we’d be leaving our children and grandchildren a legacy of misery and loss, a future bereft of hope.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, The Reckoning

“But in all honesty, I do not find it so peculiar a notion, that a Welshman should rule Wales.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

“Poor Wales. So far from Heaven, so close to England.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here Be Dragons

“Fretting about time’s passing will not slow it down one whit.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Here be Dragons

“for each age interprets the past in the light of its own biases.”
― Sharon Kay Penman, Falls the Shadow

Dolwyddelan Castle, built by Llywelyn Fawr (the Great) in or around the 13th century. Dolwyddelan, Gwynedd, North Wales. (I don’t imagine it looked much different in his time, especially from this angle.)
(c)2022

World Photography Day

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I have always loved taking photos. It took me quite some time to switch from film to digital, and more recently have I forgone using an actual camera for my cell phone. As the online world is more interactive and visual I try to take photos to accompany my writings. I think it adds to the layers of my writing life as well as much of my spiritual life. In looking for photos to include on this day, I did some googling and research into photography. Living in New York, I’m partial to Kodak and the Eastman-Kodak company, not to mention their connection to Paul McCartney and his family.

In reading up on National Photography Day from the National Day website, I was reminded of a postcard that I carried with me for the longest time. It is one of the few pieces of artwork that I recognize immediately and draws me into the black and white mysteries of the art world as well as a bygone past and of course the romanticism of Paris.

The Kiss by Robert Doisneau

Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville, photographed by Robert Doisneau. Fair Use. (c)2022

There is so much going on that it inspired me throughout high school and college in creating characters, writing their stories, and including myself in the background of the photo, perhaps in the lobby of the Hotel de Ville.

A picture is worth a thousand words as the saying goes, and in many cases more than a thousand words in descriptions, feelings, dreams, and spirit. Although not all of them need a caption; the picture is often enough. Here are a few of my own:

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Bad Poetry Day

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I don’t know who decides these things, but today is bad poetry day. I am not a great poet, but sometimes I try. Below the cut is some artwork with a haiku that I did for last year’s GISH. Tokitae is a whale at the Miami Aquarium who was taken from her pod decades ago. She still sings and recognizes the songs of her pod. I believe she has since been returned to her natural habitat.

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Election Connection – 85 Days and Counting

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Wednesday marks eight-five days until Election Day – the all important mid-term elections.

A few things happened today that I want you to be aware of as we head into these mid-term elections. (Unfortunately, I do not have links, but this are easy to google.)

First, thanks to a commited Democratic party, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act, which goes a long way to meet our climate goals as well as reducing the deficit whlie providing help to families.

Second, the FDA is making hearing aids available over the counter (probably by mid-October). This is crucial, and not just to people on Medicare. I have been using hearing aids since I was 52. It should have been longer than that but we weren’t able to afford it. To get them, I had to see my primary doctor, an ENT specialist, have an MRI, get signed off by the ENT, then go to a hearing aid place to be fitted with hearing aids. The aids themselves were over $5000 without the doctor’s visits and the MRI. We were “lucky” because that year my son was in the hospital and so we reached our deductible in March rather than at the end of December (like usual) and a close relative died.

Third, a 16 year old in Florida has been told in a ruling by a court that she cannot have an abortion. The reason? She is not mature enough to make that kind of life altering decision. But raising a baby, she’s mature enough for that? GTFOH.

Fourth, Liz Cheney lost her primary to a MAGA lunatic, and I’m being somewhat generous by using the term lunatic. Look her up. I’m not a Cheney fan, but at least she’s not part of the conspiracy theorists. She has been an admirable Vice-Chair for the Jan. 6 committee, and perhaps Chairman Benny Thompson can include her as part of the legal staff or committee spokesperson after she can no longer serve in January.

These four examples are only four of the very many reasons that everyone needs to vote in the Election on November 8th. Vote all the traitors, Q-anons, and corrupt Republicans out of office. Vote Blue.

We have the opportunity to turn things around. It will take time, more time than we’d like, but it will happen if everyone buckles up and does their part. Democracy is at stake. Our futures and the futures of our children are at stake.

Visit Vote Save America for ways to help your candidate and Democracy Docket.

Mental Health Monday – Where has August gone?

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At least once a week, I’ve sat myself down and wanted to write and publish here, and more than once a week, I’ve failed. I checked online to see my last publication, and it was way back in July.

Where has August gone?

I stopped subscribing to more is better, so while I do track my writing and word counts, it’s for my own accountability, but I still do not like when plans go by the wayside.

Although last week was a bit of a dip for things.

My priest died nine months ago. My oldest moved after some personal stuff that we’ll call a setback. My middle son is moving out when he starts college. My daughter hates me. Fall memoir workshop was cancelled. And my therapist is retiring.

Okay, let’s be fair: My daughter doesn’t hate me. It’s really just the normal teenage daughter – mother tension, and I did tell her that I’d be writing this, so we’re good. But everything else? I guess I’d say I’m coping.

All our money went to car repairs, house repairs, gas, and groceries. At some point, we know that our kids are not going to want to continue going on vacation with us, but until that day comes, I’m here for it. We’re just doing an overnight in the Finger Lakes and making memories.

I’ve got a master list that I’m working through, and one (or twelve) of those items is publishing a few pieces before we go away, instagramming for the two days that we are away, preparing for the class that I’m teaching in the fall, and reorganizing myself. Not my stuff. Not my writing. Not my clutter, but myself. Where do I want to be in six weeks?

I will let you know sometime in the next week or so, but I am here to also remind you that there is no right way, there is only the way you choose to move forward.

Onward!