Inspire. August.


August can be a tough month. Summer is both at its peak and winding down. Back to School is far off, and yet just around the corner. It’s too hot for home maintenance especially in the garage and basement as my husband wants to focus on. For our family, it’s time to get ready for our annual vacation as we stress about covid – getting it and not getting it but having our vacation canceled as so many others are having happen. There is also GISH. The annual, Guinness Book of World Record-holding scavenger hunt is about a third of the way complete, and while I can’t share actual items, I have four things that you can do at your own home that are inspirational and GISH-adjacent. But first:

“Education must, then, be not only a transmission of culture but also a provider of alternative views of the world and a strengthener of the will to explore them.”

Jerome S. Bruner

This photo will be added to my post about my recent visit to a labyrinth. I went back and found these newly painted rocks as well as a new plant, a rainbow flag, a fallen tree branch, and a basket of bubbles.

It is a good reminder to revisit places because even in the shortest times, they will change; some for the better (new rocks) and some not so much (a bit of overgrowth).

However there is always something new to see if you just open your eyes, your heart, and observe the world around you.

Those four things I mentioned above:

1. Find a cloud in the sky that you like. What does it look like to you? Take a photo. Or draw it. Whatever you do, enjoy it.

2. Write a poem. Any topic.

3. What direction do you want to travel in today? Draw a compass and make a map, like a treasure map, but all your own. What (and where) is your buried treasure?

4. Do some good. Donate time or treasure. One good organization is Random Acts and a second is the ACLU.

Make good choices. Do good. Be kind. Create.

Inspire. August.


August’s inspiration posts were delayed by the entire month, but I am determined that this post tonight at the latest. It is the last day of August and there is still inspiration to be had.

August began with my being sick, some days quite ill, and I went to the Department of Health to take a covid test, which fortunately came back negative.

We’re still receiving updates from my children’s school and they are almost ready to return; one virtually and one in an in-person hybrid model.

We also were able to take a much needed family vacation, which we understand is a privilege in these uncertain times. I credit that to many things, not the least of which is the seriousness that New York State took in combatting the coronavirus. We remained in New York, and that gave us the ability to travel and to do so without a fourteen day quarantine anywhere else we may have gone. It wasn’t our original plan, but we were all together and we had a great week.

I mention this because the one thing I want to share with you for the August inspire post is a museum that we visited that I would encourage everyone to visit. I will write more about it in later days, but here is a small glimpse:

The Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center is located at 825 West Depot Avenue West in Niagara Falls, New York. It has only been open for about two years, and was reopened on July 18th after Covid closures.

It is very reasonably priced: $10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors (62+), $6 for children 6-12, and Free for children 5 and under.

There is limited parking shared with the Amtrak station and it is on the Discover Niagara Shuttle, a free service in the city of Niagara Falls that operates May through October. They’ve recently reopened after Covid closures.

The Heritage Center is a beautiful balance of the heartbreak of slavery and escape from bondage and the people who helped them flee. It is at once inspiring and emotional. In one instant, a story caused me to weep while others made me feel joy at their new lives in Canada.

It is a small venue, but well worth the time. I would return again to enjoy the few things that were not available due to covid restrictions.

Inside the Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. (c)2020
We are *this* close to freedom.
Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center. (c)2020

August: Vacation/Staycation: Recipe


This isn’t quite a recipe, however…

Whether traveling to somewhere new or visiting somewhere you’ve been before, snacks are important. Here are five Snacks to Pack!

Snacks to Pack!

1. Craisins or Raisins. These come in individual packages or you can share them using Ziploc snack sized bags.

2. Pretzels. My kids always want cheese doodles. Orange fingers in the car? Absolutely not!

3. Bottles of water.

4. Granola Bars. They come in all kinds of varieties; my favorites are Nature Valley’s Pecan Nut Crunch.

5. Cereal in Ziploc bags. Cheerios, Kix, Lucky Charms are great for this kind of traveling snack.

Enjoy your summer, whether you’re traveling far or staying near.

August: Vacation/Staycation


August comes in like a lion and out like a lamb.

That’s April.

That’s not right.

March is the lion and the lamb.

August is hot.

It has no personality of its own.

It’s school supplies already gathering dust.

It’s vacation.

It’s my wedding anniversary.

It’s an oven that doesn’t work, but if it did work, I’d complain that I’d have to turn it on in August.
It’s lazy and hazy and the air is muddy like April’s boots.

It’s melancholy and lethargic.

Or is that just me?

But it’s not all that bad, I suppose.

The birds are noisy, the grass is green.

The spices are fragrant.

The whirr of the air conditioner.

The hosta petals on the ground, and bunny prints in the drying rain.

I guess we’ll give August a chance.
Let’s go.

27/52 – August


August is a many headed beast.

It is still summer, so we’re trying to fit in everything we can possibly fit into a month when we should have really started in June. The  month’s only begun, and I feel as though I’ve lost the fight.

On Monday, my daughter had a doctor’s appointment, and while we were “in the neighborhood” we decided to go to the orchard to find some local jams and such for the hostess gift for my mother in law’s cousins who we’ll be staying with in a couple of weeks. Our summer holiday is coming soon!

Wednesday was a spur of the moment visit to the capital to see the painted dogs. (I’ll share more details next week in a travel post.) We spent the whole day driving around the capital, looking at a map of dogs, and taking pictures and selfies of and with the dogs, replicas of the famous RCA Nipper. This is a good addition to our photo collection of cats, horses, and ballet slippers.

Thursday is therapy and getting my hair taken care of.

Friday, we’ll be driving two hours one way for visiting hours for my cousin’s father who just died.

And then the real busy begins: VBS for the little ones, work for the older one, mass, reconciliation, gishwhes, ministry meeting, interfaith meeting, vacation, geocache meet up, my 23rd anniversary, Marian retreat day, school supply shopping, and a quick family visit.

It’s also hot.

Very hot.

But right now, at the very beginning, it feels endless, and so, so busy, but I know that it will fly by much too fast, especially the vacation and the family visits. We will take a ridiculous amount of pictures, and it will be too many, and still not enough.

I think August is the tangible of time is fleeting.

It’s slow and daunting and never ending until it’s over, and then there’s so many things that didn’t happen or get done, and we wonder where all the time went, but it’s right there on the calendar. I don’t think any other month moves in the waves of heat and smog and thunderstorms that August does, ever cloudy and hard to see through, but then the other side is just there.


It ends before it begins.

I’m thinking of a quote from Carrie Fisher‘s most recent book, The Princess Diarist; the one she published close to when she died. Actually, I’m thinking of two of her quotes among a million equally meaningful and  memorable, insightful. There was so much in that book. The voice of forty years in between was full of humor and sadness, and understanding while that forty years passed by like all the Augusts do. The quotes were about looking ahead, being yourself, and letting others judge you, or rather not letting others judge you. Why do we let others judge us? Why do we care what the world thinks? 

She was Carrie Fisher, and she did. What chance do I have?

“I was always looking ahead to who I wanted to be versus who I didn’t realize I already was…”

“Do not let what you think they think of you make you stop and question everything you are.”

August Month in Review


Well, overall it looks like August sucked. Nothing like proof that your brain is in a fog. Some good things – we did our summer taste tasting (hate anchovies), went to Chuck E. Cheese to round out the summer vacation, took the family to the movies (Labor Day weekend).

Midway through the month I was able to attend a spiritual retreat with about fifteen other folks, directed by Brother Mickey McGrath. I will write more about this later on, so for now I will just say that I don’t draw, and I did draw, and I continue to draw. I don’t kid myself: I’m not an artist, but it’s not terrible, and I don’t mind sharing it. It’s an outlet for quiet contemplation that I had never considered before. I really only went for the retreat part and because I’d heard so many things about Bro. Mickey. I found so much more and am planning on attending his next retreat in February (money and scholarship pending).

My daughter and I had a Fangirls Night Out sponsored by our comic book store. There were raffles (we won Willow from Buffy!), cupcakes, a raffle and of course other like-minded fangirls. NO BOYS ALLOWED! Even the store’s owner was kicked out! It was great fun and she and I had a great time together!

My husband and I also celebrated our twentieth anniversary. With money being a problem we really couldn’t celebrate in a big way, but we decided (I thought of it – I can’t believe it, I never come up with anything good!) to go to dinner (sans kids) and a movie, like our first date. We saw Guardians of the Galaxy. I highly recommend it! Fantastic movie! And dinner was amazing. A local, rustic place with a pretty fireplace. The site has had a tavern on it since the 1700s. A nice night.

Thinking back, it’s kind of ironic that we went to Williamsburg, VA on our honeymoon when many of my fandom friends live down there now including my bf, who I obviously didn’t know back then. I think that half of them may have still been in diapers when I was there (and they were actually elsewhere). I’ve written before about Williamsburg being one of my special places from childhood. I’ve always been a history buff, and much of that came from my parents and the vacations they took us on as children, only one of them being Virginia.

I distinctly remember Williamsburg (among others) and having as much fun as we were quietly learning. Everywhere my parents took us, and later on vacations with my husband, I was always looking for and visiting the one room schoolhouses. Something about that entranced me; probably it’s Little House on the Prairie feeling.

It was neat that my husband and I chose to go there for our honeymoon: Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens, shopping (one of my favorite things to do back then; now too, but we had more money back then). We rented a car, a Cougar that went 90 miles an hour if you breathed on the accelerator. We traveled the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel, something that still makes me queasy and that I’ve sworn never to do ever, ever again. (Much like driving in Wales.) I still shudder to think at the memory of being in the tunnel for so long, under the water. Recently, I’ve been lucky (with the generosity of Andy, Jenn and my husband) to have been able to get back there to see my friends for fandom fun. I’ve talked about how I used to hate being alone, but I really enjoyed those two trips that had me traveling alone-ish, and this trip down memory lane is reminding me that I wanted to write about those travels. I’ll put it on the list.

So while the written word eluded me, I’ve been drawing and this was probably the best family summer we’ve had in a long time. I welcomed back to school, but I wasn’t counting the days (hours) like I was last year.

Don’t forget that October 18 is E4K and I will be taking pledges.

I also have a couple of things that should be completed today and tomorrow, so wish me luck for more words in September.

Word Count: 6771 (wow, that sucks)

365s: 7/31 (wow, that sucks)

Movies: Defiance seasons 1 and 2
The Birdcage
Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction
The Italian Job
Babylon 5 – season 5
Amazing Spiderman 2 – reboot
Crusade – partial season
Guardians of the Galaxy

Books: A King’s Ransom – Sharon Kay Penman
Paper Towns – John Green

Posted/Published Topics: depression, suicide, Gishwhes, medical, health, cancer, religion, spirituality, social issues, summer

WIPs topics: Retreat wrap up, Gishwhes wrap up, fan vs. fandom, memoir homework, vignettes for stuff