All Was Well


That title has dual meaning. After a prolonged absence, I expect it will take me a bit of time to get my bearings again as we greet a new season. Our travels to Ireland and Wales were more than I could have expected or hoped for, and there is so much to write about. Not only travel pieces, but I encountered so much in way of soul-seeking, and the blessing of findng spirituality and pilgrimage in several unexpected things and places.

However, I couldn’t let today pass unnoticed.

Today is the First of September, the traditional beginning of the Wizarding School Year. Today all the young witches and wizards who received their attendance letters from Hogwarts are busily arriving at Kings Cross Station in London to catch the Hogwarts Express.

Today’s Express is a little different, though.

This is the last day – the official last day of the original Harry Potter series.

1 September 2017

Nineteen Years Later.

Harry, Ron, and Hermione, Ginny, and Draco all arrive to put their children on the Hogwarts Express. They give parental advice, hugs and laughter abound among the childhood anxiety of something new, a nod here or there to their old classmates.

Nineteen years ago I read the first book, and I was entranced. It was everythng I wanted in a book. My oldest son was a baby, and it was my reading material for that year’s Rosh Hashanah.

When I finished the last book, the seventh book, The Deathly Hallows, I remember sitting in my cozy overstuffed chair, my mother-in-law on the sofa across from me. We’ve just returned – it’s barely been a week – from spending the last two weeks visiting my mother-in-law’s home and family, and putting her ashes to rest in Belfast. Time is a delicate mistress. I remember that day relatively clearly, or at least a moment of that day, trying to keep myself composed as the book took over.

No spoilers, but Fred.

This could not be over! What do you mean all was well? I wanted more.

I needed more.

And through some googling, I found Live Journal, and that opened up an entire world of reading, and then writing fan fiction, and brought me into this amazing, exciting, creative place called the Internet. It began another chapter in my life that is continual and continuing today.

Nineteen years later…all was well.

First Day of School


I titled this week’s theme, Artistry and Spirituality. I’m a little behind on my posting (and writing) because of yesterday’s Rosh Hashanah holiday. I have a few posts planned for this week that include aspects of either or both. The combination of artistry and spirituality really appealed to me. I was lucky enough to be able to attend two drawing retreats. The mix of prayer and coloring and unusual perspective drew me out and stayed with me. I’ve always photographed odd angles, through windows, under tables, tops, bottoms, half of this or that.

When I was putting my kids first day of school pictures up on Facebook, I found these that I also took that morning while we waited for the bus, and I liked them better finding them than taking them.











A First Day of School Reflection


This morning at Mass, our priest spoke during his homily about the nativity of the Holy Mother, which is today. Would that be Marymas? One of the things that he mentioned is that in the today’s readings and Gospel, instead of talking much about Mary’s birth that we are commemorating today, it’s all about Jesus. It’s about how she’ll be bringing the Christ child, the Lord, Jesus into the earthly world that she, and we, live in.

That struck a chord with me as I sat down this morning to write about the first day of school. I thought I was going to write a few hundred words about my feelings on returning home to an empty house; the quiet, the little sounds in the basement of the furnace that I can hear so clearly now that the television is off and the summer screeching has stopped. I thought it would be lonely, but would still give me that renewal that I tend to get in the fall when everything starts up again.

It was supposed to be about me; my coping with what to do for the full days, getting re-organized, and catching up on the summertime neglected me.

Instead, like Mary’s birthday, it’s all about the kids.

And today’s that day. The first day of school in our neck of the woods has finally arrived. From what I’ve seen, we’re one of the last regions to return for the fall session. My nieces went back last week, my nephews the week before that. My Colorado friends even started in mid-August.

Here and now, though today’s our day.

Last week, my middle son went to middle school orientation; my oldest went to college orientation and attended his first day of classes.

My little girl got on the bus alone for the first time this morning, mere hours ago. No big brothers to lead the way; not that she needs any more independence. Yesterday’s argument was if your lip balm is colored it is still lipstick and you’re not allowed to wear it. Because; that’s why.

They’ve all had their moments when the toddler disappeared even if for only one day. It’s a long transition for everyone; two steps forward, one step back.

One day my baby is cuddling in bed and the next she’s painting her toenails. I don’t want to let her grow up. She screams like a banshee, in happy times and angry, but she’s barely above a whisper when my priest says hello to her.

My oldest seems to have crossed the threshold from confused to his family standing to a comfortable big brother. He’s asked for help and advice more times in the last two weeks than in the last two years. He’s reached that trusting place where we’re becoming friends; kind of. He’s eighteen, he drives his own car, he’s a firefighter, he’s in college. He runs errands and cooks dinner. He babysits, which means if he can’t hear them and they don’t blow up the house, it’s all good. He waggles his eyebrows and smirks when he’s trying not to laugh.

About a month ago, my husband tried to clean his room. My son got angry and yelled at him, “Don’t! Leave me alone!” He forgot to pause between ‘don’t’ and ‘leave’ and so it came out, “Don’t leave me alone!” I was in another room laughing and even child#1/adult#3 couldn’t help but laugh. He also forfeited a hug. Much like the one he gave us this morning as he left on his second day of college classes.

My middle guy loves Lego and Minecraft, Star Wars and Batman. He is the curator of my husband’s comic book collection and the comic shop clerks know who to talk to about delays or up and coming specials. He’s very organized and doesn’t like change. He needs timely warnings to prepare him for weekend adventures. Don’t ever tell him something will take five minutes if it will take six. He doesn’t mind waiting if he knows how long the wait will be; exactly how long the wait will be.

It’s taken almost eleven years for him to barely get used to the fact that we do not eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the weekends. Sometimes it’s barely one real meal. This used to take a change in our expressions and a visit to my lap for a hug and whispered explanation. If I want something done properly, however, he’s my man.

#3 is the girliest girl to ever girl. She loves pink and lace, tights and leggings, hats and fancy shoes. She polishes her nails and designs her clothes. She sings and dances, takes care of her babies, and does her hair about about ten times a day. She wants long locks like Rapunzel. She was enamored when I showed her a picture of Crystal Gayle. She works that messy ponytail so well that she puts Scarlett Johanssen and Kristen Stewart to shame. And her feet and hands are the dirtiest I’ve ever seen on anyone. She wears that lacy pink dress and climbs trees. She kicks off her flip-flops to go kick a soccer ball across the yard. She’s got the personality of an entire theatre troupe. She’s a special one.

They’re all special in their own ways and watching them grow into themselves is a double edged sword of privilege and pain.

They are more than my legacy; they are their own. Picking and choosing from their parents and grandparents, their friends and television friends.

They’re becoming.

As they watch their mom, me, in the last few years, converting to Catholicism, finding my way as a Christian and as a writer, adopting compassion, speaking out on all manner of things, and having fun at my “advanced age” I hope they see that their becoming never ends. It grows; it ebbs and flows, it continues and the path darkens and forks, but we are always changing, and whatever path we start on, there are many detours and many opportunities to change our path if the one we’re on doesn’t work out the first time.

The most important thing I hope I’ve taught them is that their lives are not etched in stone, but in sand. One swipe of their palm, one grabbing up of a stick or use of their finger and they are able to draw a new future. Tear the page and throw it in the fire. And most importantly, be you.

Who you may be, become you, my babies.

Movie Wednesday – Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone



As today was my middle son’s middle school orientation and yesterday was September 1st, the day the Hogwarts Express left Kings Cross, taking Harry Potter and friends to the Scottish Highlands to the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry for the first time with the publication of the first book in 1997, I thought this was a good choice for today’s movie day.

In real time, Harry’s oldest son got his own letter and left Platform 9 3/4 yesterday. Good luck, James.

Have you received your letter?