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

Inspire. July.

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I’m not feeling particularly inspired this month after last month’s partisan, rogue display by the Supreme Court, so I will leave you with two quotations that I listened to today on Jon Meacham’s podcast, Reflections of History, both by Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall:

We must never forget that the only real source of power that we as judges can tap is the respect of the people. We will command that respect only as long as we strive for neutrality. If we are perceived as campaigning for particular policies, as joining with other branches of government in resolving questions not committed to us by the Constitution, we may gain some public acclaim in the short run. In the long run, however, we will cease to be perceived as neutral arbiters, and we will lose that public respect so vital to our function.

Thurgood Marshall, 1981

I do not believe that the meaning of the Constitution was forever ‘fixed’ at the Philadelphia Convention. Nor do I find the wisdom, foresight and sense of justice exhibited by the Framers particularly profound. To the contrary, the government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today. They could not have imagined, nor would they have accepted, that the document they were drafting would one day be construed by a Supreme Court to which had been appointed a woman and the descendant of an African slave. ‘We the people’ no longer enslave, but the credit does not belong to the Framers. It belongs to those who refused to acquiesce in outdated notions of ‘liberty,’ ‘justice’ and ‘equality,’ and who strived to better them.

Thurgood Marshall, on the Bicentennial of The Constitution, 1987

Inspire. May.

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I know we’re a little late with our inspiration, but May has been both inspiriing and challenging. When I decided to share my inspiration received from St. Hildegard of Bingen, I needed some quotes. Then I went to a workshop about her. Then I thought I’d add a picture, and here we are.

Friday Food will continue to be delayed but I expect it to be published within the next seven days, despite the end of May creeping upon us.

“To sense each creature singing the hymn of existence is to live joyfully in God’s love and hope.”

Pope Francis, Laudato Si

“Humanity: take a good look at yourself. Inside, you have heaven and earth and all of creation. You are a world. Everything is hidden within.”

St. Hildegard of Bingen

Last week I had the privilege of attending the first of three explorations of Catholic mystics, Hildegard of Bingen; the other two are St. Catherine D’Ricci and St. Julian of Norwich. I have long been intrigued by St. Hildegard, both because of her strong personality at a time when that was frowned upon in women as well as her body of work in a plethora of fields.

“We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light.”

St. Hildegard

Her words from the 16th century are equally true today for us as they were then; perhaps moreso. Her words of advice remain a strong reminder that we remain brave and strong, and in control.

“Even in a world that’s being shipwrecked, remain brave and strong.”

St. Hildegard
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Inspire. March.

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Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accesible and wisest of counselors, and the  most patient of teachers.

Charles W. Eliot

One week ago was World Book Day, although everyday is a good day to read a book. This is proved by the fact that this is one week late. Things happened, one of which was laziness, but not entirely. Last week was a particularly not great one, but nothing that can’t be overcome.

This is the list of books I read since last Monday. The ones with the asterisk are the ones that I completed before tonight (although most were not read entirely in seven days.)

  • Daily Reflections for Lent: Not By Bread Alone 2022 by Amy Ekeh and Thomas D. Stegman, SJ
  • Thirsty and You Gave Me Drink from Clear Faith Publishing, various authors
  • Quantum by Patricia Cornwell *
  • Learning to Pray: A Guide for Everyone by Rev. James Martin, SJ
  • Spin by Patricia Cornwell *
  • The 1619 Project by Nikole Hannah-Jones, The NY Times Magazine *
  • The Book of Gutsy Women: Favorite Stories of Courage and Resilience by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chelsea Clinton
  • Never Tell by Selena Montgomery (Stacey Abrams) *
  • Search Me: A Way of the Cross in Solidarity with the LGBTQ Community by John T. Kyler *
  • Where the Deer and the Antelope Play: The Pastoral Observations of One Ignorant American Who Loves to Walk Outside by Nick Offerman


It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. –

Confucius
Sunflower. (c)2022

My thought daily are with Ukraine, each morning and throughout the day checking on updates. My thoughts have also been with my parish (and selfishly myself if I’m being completely honest) as the search continues for a new pastor. I wrote a short reflection on Facebook a day or so ago, and I do feel a slight weight lifted as the parish trustees announced on Sunday our new incoming pastor (who will start at the end of April).

A friend described her feelings as “being at ease with the decision” and I would agree with that sentiment. I’m not anxious although it helps that I’m acquainted with the new (to us) pastor and looking forward to his ministry, but of course, my feelings are bittersweet. Fr. Jerry, my only priest so far in my journey would talk during his homilies at funerals as the bittersweetness of the Christian journey: we who are left behind are sad, but the one whose gone home is with Jesus and so how can we resent that.

I’ve written before about my struggle to move forward in my faith and my practices and I’m reminded of something else that Father Jerry so wisely said during funerals.

He has also talked about a life that’s not ended but changed, and I think with this new pastor announcement, I feel that my Catholic journey isn’t ended, but it has changed, and with this resolution, I may be able to be changed and follow this new path. I also feel more reflective things to say on this subject, but my words need a bit more study and discernment.

At the moment as I look around at my messy table and my busy calendar, I hope that I can spend some prayer and meditation time to get back on track for Lent. There are other challenges ahead, and I need to organize myself for them. It may be time for a list; a very, very long list.

Inspire. January. 2022.

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They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

Andy Warhol

…any writer who waits for “inspiration” to strike will never finish a book. Inspiration is all very well, but it will never replace sheer dogged determination.

Author Elizabeth Peters in an interview that appears at the end of The Golden One, one in her Amelia Peabody series.

Pointsettia. (c)2022

Every year, just after midnight on January 1st, I take out my new calendar/blog planner. It is perfectly even. No bent pages, no stray marks, no correcting tape, no bookmarks, no stickers. Empty pages and I never go to bed until I’ve filled in the dates that have been piling up in lists at the back of the old planner. New appointments, new school days, new writing assignments and ideas. Over the days and weeks, it will fill in and be the guide that I use throughout the year.

Resolutions get broken. They start out with good intentions, but often they fall by the wayside. I try to set goals; to have determinations; to focus. I do this a few times a year beginning in the fall and adjusting and re-adjusting what I want to accomplish.

I have a few writing series that I will continue including this Inspire series. It may have a change of name, but all in all, it will continue in the same format.

I am continuing the new Instagram and Spotify compilations; Instagram as the mood strikes and Spotify during the last week of the month.

I would also like to begin a more definitive travel section, including places of interest as well as giving more time to my book writing.

So much to do, but I am determined to take those two quotations to heart and simply keep moving forward.


Inspire. July. Road Trips.

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“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote, To travel is to live.”

Hans Christian Andersen

NEW Spotify Playlist: Road Trip


“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”

Lawrence Block

During the pandemic and continuing through the last few weeks, our family has broken up our weeks of isolation pouring [th] into the car and taking road trips. North, east, and west; south is still on the list, and while they don’t have the stress or monetary expense of a full blown vacation, they do tend to get you out of your own comfortable neighborhood and out into the world, taking time to de-stress and see new sights (and sites). Even a day trip can be a fun adventure.

In the photo below are some of the places we’ve gone in the last few weeks. I’ve included links so you’re able to check out new and interesting places in the northeast, but some things – like that Mater Truck and the dragon outside a comic store – are just things we passed by and got a kick out of.

Take some time in your car and see what’s around you. It can be even cheaper if you pack a picnic lunch to bring along.

BBQ place, comic store, EA-Teriyaki Japanese at Holyoke Mall, Mater, St. Kateri Shrine, BatCycle (from the TV series, signed by Burt Ward) at comic store at Holyoke Mall, Springfield Museums, MA.
(c)2021
Guess the characters!
Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden at Springfield Museums, Springfield, MA.
(c)2021

Boneyard BBQ, Utica, NY

Holyoke Mall, Holyoke, MA

St. Kateri Tekawitha National Shrine & Historic Site, Fonda, NY

Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, Springfield, MA

Not Pictured:

Martha’s Dandee Creme, Lake George, NY

Samuel’s Sweet Shop, Rhinebeck, NY

Big Moose Deli & Country Store, Hoosick, NY

Ben & Jerry’s Factory, Waterbury, VT

Inspire. May.

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Start where you are.

Use what you have.

Do what you can.

– Arthur Ashe

Bird. (c)2021

This wooden bird was bought on clearance at least two years ago. I wanted to say last year, but we really didn’t do a lot of shopping last year. Now, if I want to say last year, I just automatically add another year to it.

We’ve had it in the house, in the way, wondering where it should go. For the last dozen or so times that I’ve come across it (or moved it to get to something under it), I kind of regretted buying it since I had no place for it. The place it’s pictured is exactly where I didn’t want it.

But then months passed. And at least a year, probably just over two and I saw the bird in a new light. The green of the bird complimented the green of the kitchen walls. When I eyeballed it, it looked like it would fit perfectly in that space above the fan.

We cleaned the fan (and by we, I mean my husband), we put it up (and again, by we I mean my husband). Just below the fan, if you can picture it, is a wrought iron pot hanger. It makes a nice composition.

The bird reminds me that even if I’ve waited for what seems like too long, it’s never too late to embrace something new, to hang something up (or take something down), to change styles, to experiment. We’ve spent so much of the last pandemic year in our houses that for many of us, we grew to either love them or hate them. I like my house a lot better than I did a year ago, and this bird will tell me that whenever I glance over at.

Black History Month – American Hero, John Lewis

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You must be bold, brave, and courageous and find a way… to get in the way.

– Congressman John Lewis, 1940-2020

A few years ago, I bought the book, The Children by David Halberstam, but I only read it recently. As an aside, David Halberstam was the commencement speaker when I graduated from college, so I always took a second look at his books.

I looked at this one often in my kindle library, but was never quite ready to sit down for such a serious book. In the last four years, I’ve been engulfed with politics, including racial justice, but I wasn’t ready for a history lesson.

I finally started it last summer, soon after George Floyd’s murder, and with all of Halberstam’s work, it did not disappoint.

I had misinterpreted the title to mean the literal children of the civil rights movement, the young people growing up in that time and after. What I discovered is that Halberstam’s implication that the civil rights movement was left to “the children” – the young adults who risked everything, including their lives to march, to sit at lunch counters, to register to vote, to do many of the things we take for granted, even today.

One of the very surprising things that stood out to me was the level of participation of John Lewis. John Lewis was a hero of mine, but more in an abstract way listening to his modern, inspirational speeches rather than his history, and I wondered why I hadn’t learned his name as readily as I learned about Martin Luther King, Jr. In school. I didn’t realize they were contemporaries, and met and worked together to build what they called the “beloved community.” As I thought about this missing piece in my childhood education, I realized that growing up in the seventies during busing, and my really formative years of middle and high school in the eighties, John Lewis wasn’t part of “history” as we think of it; for that matter, neither was MLK. Lewis’ beating on the Edmund Pettus Bridge was in 1965, one year before I was born, and King was assassinated in 1968 when I was a toddler. These events, and the bulk of the civil rights movement occurred a mere twenty years before I graduated high school; nineteen years to be more precise. In the time between Lewis and King’s assault and assassination, I hadn’t even reached adulthood. This book really brought that home to me. John Lewis would live in my kids’ history books, but for me, he was in my now.

I hadn’t even made it halfway through the book when John Lewis died, and I thought for several days of putting the book down and reading something else, but I didn’t. I finished the story, cringing and welling with tears, and sometimes gasping for air at the horror of it all and the idea that while we’ve come far, we have so much farther to go. When I finished The Children, I immediately read Jon Meacham‘s new book, His Truth is Marching On, and that bridged the short gap between Lewis’ civil rights activism and his congressional career all on that path to the beloved community.

Learn more about John Lewis and his role in the civil rights movement by reading John Lewis in hhis own words in his memoirs, Walking With The Wind: A Memoir of the Movement and Across That Bridge: Life Lessons and a Vision for Change as well as his graphic novel trilogy beginning with March: Book One.

One of the things that I found somewhat amazing, miraculous even, was the number of long-lasting activists all being in the same town at the same time. They didn’t travel to Nashville; they were already there from around the country attending school. John Lewis, Diane Nash, James Bevel, CT Vivian, James Lafayette, Kelly Miller Smith, Rev. James Lawson, who learned the non-violent method he taught them from his trip to India and learning from Gandhi, and of course as witness, David Halberstam, a local journalist with The Tenesseean in Nashville. Reverand Lawson described it as providential during his eulogy for John Lewis in 2020, and that just gave me chills.

If you do one thing, watch the Reverand James Lawson at the funeral of John Lewis in Atlanta, Georgia:

(c)2021
Wearing a Mask is Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble.
(c)2021

Inspire. February.

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With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts.

Eleanor Roosevelt

What you do today can improve all your tomorrows.

Ralph Marston
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY
(c)2021
Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, Buffalo, NY
(c)2021

Despite the new year’s beginning in January much like the old year had ended, we got through it. We inaugurated Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our President and Vice President, and they hit the ground running.

Using Executive Orders to reverse some of the most heinous Trump Admin policies, reorganizing the Covid relief response so that it works for the American people, the Press Secretary giving daily briefings, answering all questions without lies and hedging, avoiding talking points and giving out real information has been a wonderful change of pace.

See the previous post for many of the Biden Admin Twitter follows to keep up on their news!

I’m optimistic as we head into the shortest month.

Lent is early this year, at least it seems that way, and so I’m already thinking about those forty days in the desert. You don’t have to be Catholic to think about the things that Lent brings out in many of us. Choose a random day, and begin your own forty days.

Change a habit.

Start a hobby.

Write a journal.

Take a breath.

Be inspired.

Supernatural Lists: Catch-Phrases and Pithy Sayings

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This is the second of seven in a series of Supernatural list posts celebrating the conclusion of their record-breaking series run of fifteen seasons.

I’m sure our house isn’t very different from other families. We have our own idiosyncrasies and short hand for expressing ourselves. For me, my go-to for commentary is almost always one of three places: Seinfeld, Supernatural, and Hamilton. Even my kids, who have never seen Seinfeld, are familiar with several of the pop culture vernacular: yada, yada, yada, not that there’s anything wrong with that, Newman, TWIIIIIX. Low talkers, close talkers, anti-dentites, big salads, baby eating dingoes, as well as why we don’t lick envelopes.

Supernatural is one of those wonderful shows where the actors love to go to work. It’s evident, and after fifteen completed seasons, they often harken back to previous seasons and episodes and call out fanon, continuity, plot holes, and just plain call back fun. For fans who love the meta, and I am one of them, it is a laugh, a private moment between actor and fan, an inside joke; a fourth wall broken. My sister just binged and completed the series, and she’ll make a comment to me, and I’ll smile because I know something she doesn’t, mainly because I’m on tumblr and read many of the convention accounts, and participate with the Supernatural family and on social media.

Here are a few of those out-of-context quotes that might or might not make sense to you, but for the SPN family, trust me, they are hilarious. They are not in any particular order, and I’m sure I’ve left out a few, but come on, it’s been fifteen seasons. (Warning for some language.)

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