Admit It: This Country is Anti-Women

Standard

Overturning Roe v Wade isn’t pro-life; it’s anti-women.

In addition to being an issue of the 14th Amendment, it is also a First Amendment issue as it violates religious freedom and unconstitutionally imposes what amounts to a “state sanctioned religion” on the rest of us. It violates the establishment clause and it attempts to control women’s choices and their economic independence as well as their basic human rights.

Native American Heritage Month (3)

Standard

Many people question why we need to focus on the diversity of our nation and celebrate heritage days and months; why can’t we simply celebrate our sameness as Americans.Also questioned is why we look back on the way we treated the indigenous peoples who were already here at our country’s very beginnings.

People want to forget the bad parts of our history.

The racist parts. The genocide. The meanness and the bigotry.

We can’t let those memories fade. They are a part of our history, and as we saw earlier in the year in British Columbia, Canada, it is part of the collective history of this continent.

While we were on vacation in August, we couldn’t help but notice the signs, the memorials for the two hundred fifteen First Nations children found in unmarked graves in Kamloops, British Columbia.

The articles read and linked below, as well as others were difficult enough to accept and they are still being processed emotionally by Native and non-Native peoples alike. However, happening upon one such memorial in Kanawake, the Mohawk tribal lands in southern Quebec tugged at emotions I was unaware of. The sight of the small shoes, representing the dead and unremembered 215 children, some as young as 3 was a lot to take in. It left me with a profound sadness, but also an emptiness that even the sadness couldn’t fill.

I leave you with links to read and photos to meditate on.

Horrible History: Mass Grave of Indigenous Children Reported in Canada

Canada Mourns as Remains of 215 chiildren found at indigenous school

A Burial Site for Indigenous Children was Found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States?

The emtpy shoes representing the 215 Indigenous children found in Kamloops. My presumption is that the ashes are from a First Nations religious ceremony in memory of the children. (c)2021
The above shoes can be seen at the St. Francis Xavier Mission in Kanawake, Quebec. This is also the site of the St. Kateri Tekakwitha Shrine where her body was brought. She is the first Native American Catholic saint. (c)2021
Signs we saw at various places across Quebec and Ontario, Canada. (c)2021

Celebrating Interfaith

Standard

Today is the first Sunday of Advent. Accordingly we light the first purple candle.

Today is also the first night of Chanukah. We light the shamash and the first candle.

Tonight is also the anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s been seventeen years. Some days it still feels like yesterday. I’ve lit the yartzeit candle to commemorate the day.

So many things have come together tonight that it reminds me to be still, to meditate, to remember, and to wonder.

Candles. Interfaith. Advent. Chanukah. Yartzeit. (c)2021

Native American Heritage Month (2)

Standard

When we travel to places with Native American distinction and I plan to buy something to remember my visit, I look to see if the object is Native made. There are so many knock-offs and items appropriated out there that I feel that if I’m going to buy Native crafts, symbols, and jewelry, it should be genuinely made by Native peoples and the income should benefit them.

The picture below highlights my three most recent crafts:

(c)2021

The photo on the left is a dream catcher. I have had one in my bedroom for decades. I had received a small one but it has been mislaid. I chose this one while we were in Montreal. I didn’t realize it at first but it is a necklace. I have hung it over the lamp on my bedstand to keep away bad spirits and dreams.

The top right is a simple lapel pin that I purchased at the St. Kateri Shrine in Fonda, New York. It is the flag of the Iroquois Confederation. These flags can be seen flying in many places across New York State and lower Canada.

The bottom right picture is a pair of earrings I discovered in Niagara Falls, Ontario. I was drawn several times to the three colors – the silver, the bronze, and the turquoise. While this design could easily be Native American jewelry or ancient Egyptian, and I was so happy to find that they were indeed Native made. As my birthstone is turquoise, I am often drawn to the stone and color.

We Give Thanks

Standard

The Thanksgiving holiday is full of disharmony as we come to grips with our historic (and recent) treatment of the Native American peoples who were here before we arrived from Europe.

A few personal thoughts:

Growing up Jewish, this was always my favorite holiday. We didn’t need to explain our religious holidays and we weren’t excluded from the mainstream Christian holidays. This was an American holiday, one that everyone could participate in, both as a harvest holiday and as a day of gratitude. It brought our family together as well as allowing us to be a part of the greater family of our community.

This year comemorates the 400th anniversary of that traditional first Thanksgiving hosted by the Pilgrims who survived that first harsh winter. The basics of that first holiday, a gathering in gratitude brought two different communities together to share what each had. The helped each other and maintained a friendship against great odds. In modern days, we have much to be thankful for. I won’t list mine, but take a moment to reflect on your own blessings.

At mass this morning, we continued a tradition at my parish that I have always loved. Instead of a collection, we bring a bag of non-perishable food to the altar (for our food pantry and Christmas baskets), and at the end of mass, each family is given a small loaf of bread that has been blessed to share at our dinner table. We are called to pray and to break bread.

Give us this day, our daily bread…

(I apologize for the blurry picture) (c)2021

Last year while visiting Niagara Falls, New York, we learned of a nearby monument in Lewiston that commemorates the Tuscarora Indians coming to the rescue of American citizens during the War of 1812. The British invaded from Canada to the north and were mobilizing an attack on the village with their Indian allies. The Tuscarora, being outnumbered gave the appearance of greater numbers and were able to give the Lewiston families time to escape the inevitable horrors of death and watching their loved ones brutally murdered.

This monument is breathtaking in its emotion. The sculpted faces of both the mother and child fleeing and the Tuscarora helping them is so vivid, it tells the story in deeper and more profound ways than reading about it could ever do. I stood in awe of it for several minutes, even though it was pouring rain for much of the time.

Tuscarora Monument, Lewiston, NY. (c)2021
A closer look, Tuscarora Monument, Lewiston, NY. (c)2021

Enjoy the day with family and friends or alone, in peaceful quiet or boisterous noise, with turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce or whatever your family traditions call for.

Native American Heritage Month

Standard

I want to acknowledge that my family and I live on the traditional territory of the Haudenosaunee. I grew up knowing them as the Iroquois, which is the French name. Haudenosaunee means People of the Longhouse and they have a rich history in New York State. The map below shows the other tribes traditional to New York. The Haudenosaunee Confederacy is the oldest, participatory Democracy and our US Constitution is said to be modeled on theirs.

Credit: Aaron Carapella (c)2021

Some links to check out about Native American Heritage Month:

Beyond Each November from First Nations

Native American Heritage Month Information and Activities


I’ve mentioned my affinity for our local saint, Saint Kateri Tekawitha (pronounced “gaderi dega-gwita”). She is the first Native American saint to be canonized. Her official elevation was in 2012 and her most recent miracle was in 2006. St. Kateri was Algonquin on her mother’s side and Mohawk on her father’s.

Since I was going to visit her shrine in Quebec, I wanted to have her chaplet to pray with while I was there. I wasn’t able to acquire it until after so I drew one and used that for my prayer. Here is a photo of both of them:

Chaplet of St. Kateri Tekawitha.
(c)2021

HashtagNANO, Day 13

Standard

What can you do if you just can’t write? This has been my struggle this Nano. I usually have a time getting started, but this year is different. I have no doubt that part of it stems from our October difficulties.

However, there are other things that can be done to keep your project (I say project rather than novel because my work is primarily non-fiction) moving forward. Here are five.

  1. Outline. What do you have? What do you need? Is there research that needs to be done for your project?
  2. Write vignettes. Get the scene out of your head. No transitions, no history, just stream of consciousness that can be incorporated later on in your project.
  3. Study the history of your subject. My particular book offers some historical perspective and learning the history of the place can give you ideas for storylines in both fiction and non-fiction.
  4. Edit. Re-read. Revise. I know that Nano is for writing and not editing, but if you can’t write…re-read. Something may come to you.
  5. Take a Break. Light a candle, have a cup of tea, read a book. Set a timer for ten minutes and just sit with eyes closed and mind open. Or twenty minutes.

Take the pressure off of yourself. What are some of your suggestions when you’re blocked?

Friday Food. November.

Standard

My daughter came up with this recipe. It is excellent for those in your life who prefer their vegetables crunchy and just barely the other side of raw as she does. I was complaining of her lack of vegetables in her cooking and she decided to show me up by frying up some apple slices and baby carrots in what was left of the chicken tenders in the pan. We ate it over rice, and it was not only very good, it was refreshing as well.

Chicken tenders with sauteed apples and carrots over rice.
(c)2021

Later on that same weekend, I made a similar dish with fried chicken breasts and buttered egg noodles. My veggie combo consisted of: apple slices, grape tomatoes, and dried cranberries sauteed in about a quarter stick of butter with a tiny sprinkle of fresh ground pepper and a pinch or so of apple pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice).

Fried chicken breasts with buttered egg noodles with a side of apples, tomatoes, and cranberries.
(c)2021

My apples were not crunchy at all (and that was how I liked them) and unfortunately, I was the only one who liked the tomatoes and cranberries, but experimentation is at the heart of cooking. Had I mashed them, they would have made a nice chutney.

Try something new. That’s been my husband’s refrain for the last couple of years: TSN! (Try something new.) I wonder if chopped pecans would have improved it a bit. Ah, but next time.

What would you have added to my sauteed apples that would have been better?

Inspire. November.

Standard

I am grateful for what I am and have. My Thanksgiving is perpetual.


– Henry David Thoreau

November is full of thanks and gratitude. If only, we held onto these sentiments throughout the year, what a wonderful world it would be. I don’t know that I can show gratitude for the difficulties I had in October, but I can offer thanks for the inauspicious start to November. Somewhat quiet and subdued. While we will not see our cousins for Thanksgiving, we will see my brother-in-law and hopefully have a nice get-together later on with my son’s girlfriend and something quiet for my birthday. I am hesitant, but cautiously optimistic.


Sitting in front of the typewriter/keyboard, I am clacking away at the keys, and while I still haven’t taken hold of my Nano projects, I have been jotting things down on all matter of things.


I still have hope to take Thoreau’s words to heart, and be grateful for who I am, for what I have, and remind myself perpetually of all that I have to be thankful for. Every day can be thanksgiving if given the mindfulness to quietly look around and take in the life around me.


The picture below is a reminder that not everything is expected. About once a week, my family goes to The Fresh Market chain. They have what they call a “little big meal”. It feeds a family of four for $25 and usually comes with five or six components. The most recent one was a chicken roll up dinner and surprisingly one of the items was a bouquet of flowers. I thought it strange since they are not edible, but instead they fed something that was missing from me recently. The brought on a quietness, a contemplative series of moments as I trimmed the stems and arranged them in my vase. I smelled each one, adding water and a bit of the powdered food daily. We got them Sunday and they are just as strong, just as beautiful as when I brought them home. They are a welcome addition to my work space. I didn’t know I longed for them until I received them.

(c)2021


Sometimes looking past the expected brings us from the ordinary to the extraordinary.

HashtagNANO, Day 9

Standard

While this is Day 9 of National Novel Writing Month, for me it is more like Day 1. To begin, get any information at the Nanowrimo link. It will introduce you to the organization, its philosophy, and how to sign up and keep track of your word counts, daily as well as in totality.


While Nanowrimo focuses on novel writing, I think its pep talks, write-ins, and exercises work with any writing project, and I do use it extensively for my non-fiction writing.
Currently, I am working on four books, in various stages of writing.


The two big ones are (the simply known as) the Wales book and a Labyrinth prayer book.

While both have some bits written, they are really in need of outlining and focus. That is what I plan to do this week. Sometimes writing the goal down leads to its completion; or at least its beginning.


What projects (writing or otherwise) are you working on at the moment? How’s it going?