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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Inspire. October.

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New Experiences from Summer. (c)2020

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

“Try new things and discover yourself every single day.”

– Bhavya Choudhary

“TSN”

(Try Something New) – My Husband

For the past two years, my husband has been offering this mantra: TSN, which stands for Try something new. He tries to try something new at least once a month.

I do like to try things, but I try them hesitantly.

I am inherently extraordinarily polite. If I am at someone else’s house and they offer me something that I’ve never had before or am even lukewarm on, I will take it, eat it, and thank them for it.

When we go out to dinner, I prefer tried and true food for the most part, but when I’m on vacation, I will beeline for the local specialty as well as trying new things.

Examples of this are poutine in Canada, tea in the UK, a proper British breakfast in Wales and England, Welsh cakes in Wales, chicken wings in Buffalo, cheesecake in NYC, pretzels and chocolate in Pennsylvania, lobster in Maine, crab cakes in Maryland, beignets and gumbo in New Orleans. Anywhere you go will have a specialty food to try.

On our recent visit to Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Plattsburgh, New York, we tried many things that were new to us, but were common to the North Country and Western New York.

In the above photo, you will see:

  • Pizza Logs (from Anchor Bar in Buffalo, NY)
  • The Mighty Taco, chicken quesadilla
  • Chicken Caprese Mac & Cheese (from Our House Bistro, Plattsburgh, NY)
  • Amazing orange peeler for 69¢ (at Vidler’s 5 & 10 in Aurora, NY). I’d never seen this before and it worked like a dream. If I had known how well it worked, I would have bought a dozen and given them out for Christmas!
  • Sponge Candy (from Platter’s Chocolate in Niagara Falls, NY)

This pandemic has given us many things that are new, not all of them exciting and wonderful, but we’ve hopefully taken them in stride, and will try to move forward embracing the new, the different, the exciting, and even the challenging.

Election Connection: 15 Weeks: Civil Rights Icon, John R. Lewis (1940-2020)

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“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

John Lewis, Twitter, 2018
John R. Lewis, House of Representatives. Public Domain. (c)2020
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Inspire. February

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Abraham LIncoln as taken by photographer Matthew Brady in NYC, circa 1860. Public Domain. (c)2020

I share three quotations from President Abraham Lincoln on this, the day after his 211th birthday. The first is in his belief that people are inherently good; that if faced with a truth, they will acquit themselves honorably. I still think this is possible. The second is his reliance on faith, and that Right Matters. We may have heard that phrase recently. We are reminded to dare to do our duty, whether militarily, governmentally, or as a citizenry. The third has been referred to subtly in the last two weeks especially in reference to this current Presidency as the President is emboldened even more. If this isn’t wrong, what is? Retaliation against witnesses? Interference in criminal cases and the jury system? Profiteering from the job of president by him and his family. Bribery? Which is less wrong? Which will someone stand up and say, Enough. Here are Lincoln’s words:

  • I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.
  • Lets have faith that right makes might; and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it.
  • If slavery is not wrong, then nothing is wrong.

This is the most important election year of our lives. There is something that each of us can do in addition to voting in November. Find your something.

Feast of St. Francis de Sales

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Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales. He was born in Chateau de Sales to a noble family in 1567. He enjoyed a privileged education, eventually becoming a Bishop and a Doctor of the Church before his death in 1622.

He was canonized in 1665.

His motto in Latin is Non-excidet which translates to He will not fail or He will not give up, either appropriate for his patronage of writers and journalists.

Some of his words of wisdom may be found here, but I include some of my favorites below:

Be who you are and be that well.

Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.


Such simple advice, common sense thoughts, and yet…so much more, so much to contemplate.

Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with him until meeting my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath who is a Salesian Oblate. He is also an artist. This is his most recent offering. Clicking it will direct you to his website where you can see his other works including his books on variety of spiritual/religious topics, saints, and Popes. It is well worth your time.

Lakota Mary & Jesus with Dr. Martin Luther KIng, Jr. quotation. All rights reserved Mickey O’Neill McGrath. (c)2020

Patriotism Reclaimed

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One of the things I’ve thought about as I’ve witnessed the Republican Party implode and become who many of us already thought their politicians were, proving their cravenness, selfishness, greed and lack of moral character, I’ve wondered how the rest of us, the Democrats, the Progressives, the Resistance, the AMERICANS can continue to have the strength to speak out and to do whatever we can to bring our democracy back for everyone, and this statement from Jon Lovett last week said it perfectly:

“We had to figure out how to love our country enough for them too.”
This is what we’re doing because this is who we are.

The next statement of his that I’m sharing summed up how I, and many more, felt after the 2016 Election:

“I think we’ll look back on this as the moment where we decided that we weren’t participating because we were patriotic; we were patriotic because we were participating.” – Jon Lovett


I start every Saturday morning (whenever that mysterious time is) by listening to Jon Lovett’s Lovett or Leave It podcast from Crooked Media. Oftentimes, he says what I’m thinking. Last week I wasn’t able to listen until Monday morning because of some family obligations, and his last rant on the rant wheel was so profound, so relatable, so needed, that I listened to it twice. Then I posted the link on my Facebook, and added one of the two comments above that really got me in the feels, and I went on.

But I didn’t delete that podcast as I would have normally done. I don’t know why I kept it in my dowloads, but I did, and each time I listened to something else and deleted it, I saw it there, and I thought, in passing, it’s time to delete it, but I didn’t. Even this morning, his new podcast for the week dropped (I haven’t listened to it because I’m on retreat and in a different mindset, but will probably listen tonight because I can only go so long without Jon Lovett’s words of wisdom) and I still have yet to delete last week’s.

I’d recommend listening to the whole thing (and subscribing to hear each one), but I’ve queued this one up to that moment he spoke directly to me, and I think he’ll speak to you as well:

Lovett or Leave It, timestamped for his rant on Patriotism