November – Gratitude – Reflection

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The last two years have been clouded with so many political things, and the next two will also have much more to come, but I am grateful for the outcome of the election, the blue wave, and the thoughts that maybe we can work our way back to where the country not only should be, but where the majority of the country wants it to be. I’ve been inspired by so many new faces and listening to many intelligent voices on my new passion of podcasts that I feel cautiously optimistic that we can get through this time.

While I haven’t written that much for Nanowrimo, I have still done a lot of writing for my space here, reading my good morning journal as often as necessary, and have some other ideas and writings plotted out in the bare bones.

I went on a beautiful retreat for Thanksgiving reflection and am looking forward to another on Mary the day after my birthday. 

I am grateful to be hearing better than I have in a few years. The number of times that I say “what” have gone down exponentially thanks to a pair of hearing aids. I’ve also gotten a lot of medical things taken care of with more to come in the coming weeks, including at a ridiculous early time tomorrow. I am still seeing my therapist and trying to use all the tools in my basket; my mental health is definitely stable and good. My kids are healthy and happy in school, and we have a home, heat, and food and with the snow starting early that is indeed appreciated. Whatever else we may want, our needs are well taken care of.

Looking forward to Thursday with our family and thinking about the family not there, whether too far away or no longer and especially that whether together or apart, we are still a we.

Wishing you many blessings at this holiday season, and grateful that you are all in my life.

November – Gratitude

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November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints and finishes with the beginning of the liturgical year and Advent. In the middle are parent-teacher conferences, Veteran’s Day, Morning of Service volunteering, church breakfasts, health insurance open enrollment, medical procedures, a court appearance for a traffic ticket, the premiere of Fantastic Beasts, and  Thanksgiving.

I’m sure I’ve left things out, and I can hear all of you readers going over your lists in your heads and groaning. I know, I know. I’m sorry I brought it up.

First and foremost, November is about colors. We’ve been very slow at leaves changing colors. They seem lazy and slow to change, and they seem muted with the grey, cloudy, dreary-ish days that have started today, but they’re still beautiful, and mesmerizing as well as introspective.

Second for November, is gratitude. We need to slow down, and remember how lucky we are, and in reality, while things aren’t perfect for anyone, we are still very lucky in so many ways. Now is a good time to think on our blessings and remind ourselves of what we have and simply be grateful.

Third, November is National Novel Writing Month. I have signed on to participate again, and I’m hoping to settle into a rhythm of both updating this website and writing for Nanowrimo, and other writings and creative plans. Look for my daily, 30 Days of Nano column, offering suggestions and tips for a successful writing experience for Nanowrimo or your own writing endeavors.

Moon Shot

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​In 1995 when we moved into our second apartment the moon always found its way to my pillow. It was most prominent in the winter, but it always managed to be there sometime through the nights of the full or nearly full moon.

The window faced northwest and because we were on the second floor we hadn’t put up curtains and the windows were always kept open.

I’d wake up in the middle of the night and feel the moonlight shining. I’d open my eyes and stare. I’d reach my hand out until it bathed in the light reaching out to me from space.

We’ve been in our house for twelve years. Our bedroom window still has no curtains, but it is smaller, about half the size or less of that first window. It faces southeast.

I can sometimes see the moon, but it doesn’t shine as prominently on this side. I try to reach out to it, but it is far away, almost never shining on my bedcover.

When it does, I reach out and touch the light. It is a rare occurence.

This photo was taken just a few weeks ago. I woke up and I was a bit shocked at how clear the moon looked. How bright it shone the through the window, touching my face. I squinted.

I knew the picture wouldn’t come out, but I took it anyway.

It was a memory.

It was a held hand.

It didn’t actually come out that badly.

My light. Moon light.

October – Fall into Halloween – Reflection

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​I mentioned in my initial blurb earlier in the month that October is my favorite month. The leaves are changing colors, the pumpkins are in full force in the neighborhood, the kids are talking about their costumes, I’m preparing my own costume, my son’s birthday is happening, we go applepicking, there is usually a one day retreat, comic store activities, the return of The Walking Dead, my parish’s anointing mass, the Living Rosary, and a host of other motivations and inspirations for writing and centering.

This year, however…

Ugh.

It is 15 days before the midterm elections. Most years I vote, but I don’t pay that much attention. I trusted President Obama and even President Bush, who I did not vote for, to keep the country steady. I trusted Congress, even in its usual disfunction to keep a check and a balance on the President, although the Republican Congress during the Obama years went a little crazy on the obstructionism. I trusted the Supreme Court to follow the law. Even Scalia, who I didn’t like and disagreed with on almost everything, had a moral compass.

But this year….Good Lord. The hyperbole is strong – this may be our last free and fair election. Vote now, you may not get another chance. This is the most important election of our lifetimes.

And you know what?

It is all of those things.

In early 2017, I re-read 1984, and i was kind of amazed at how much of it I had forgotten, and also amazed, and petrified at how much of it seemed to be coming true with the new Trump Administration. I hesitate to call it a Republican administration, but the Republicans in  Congress seem to have forgotten their function in favor of…I don’t know what it’s in favor of.

So, yeah, long story short, tl;dr, yell, scream, run, don’t walk to your nearest polling place, and VOTE!

We also were not able to go applepicking this year. This is the first year since we’ve had kids that we haven’t gone. Even when my son was nine days old, we still went applepicking. I’m so torn about this.

My oldest child is moving out.

I know; it’s time. He’s ready. I’m not, but I probably would never be, but he’s ready. He also has two jobs, a car, and has been feeding himself for mostly a year now. He’s ready. I need to keep telling myself that.

I was late to my doctor’s appointment this  morning, and I would have only been less than five minutes late. Except for the speeding ticket. I can’t even.

I was going to go as a Hufflepuff professor for Halloween. I just needed a witch’s hat, and then Jamal Khashoggi was brutally assassinated in Istanbul. In 2016, I went as a journalist because of all the attacks on the media by the Trump campaign. Back then, I had no idea how bad it would get for the journalists and their colleagues. I would have never expected any President of the United States calling our free press an enemy of the people. I even less expected that after the murder of a US Permanent Resident, writer for the Washington Post, that any President would take the side of the murderers and make excuses akin to covering up that murder. So I’m recycling my journalist costume, both in honor of the free press and in memory of Jamal Khashoggi.

Let me try and think of three positive things before I go.

My brother may come for a visit for a few days. The kids are excited and it would be nice to see him. We’ll have to come up with something interesting to do. We’re a boring group, but I think we can fake it. We’ll need to start cleaning now. Like right now.

I’m planning on doing Nanowrimo this year. I loved how last year it gave me focus and motivation. I need that again, and am very much looking forward to it. It begins in ten days!

I got hearing aids this week. I’m still getting used to them. Some things are a little too loud, but the amount of times I say “what” and cup my hand over my ear has gone down by about 99%, so that’s a bonus. I’ve noticed a real difference in church, hearing the kids talking to me from the backseat of the car, talking to a waiter or waitress in a restaurant, and I’m more disturbed by the rattling that I can now hear my car making.

September – Back to School – Reflection

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​It’s not so much the month of September that I love but what it brings combined with the back to school season. While October is my favorite month (more on that tomorrow), ultimately this is my favorite time of the year from September and Back to School until the end of the year. I find it more of a renewal time of year than the January new year or spring when we all come out of our winter cocoons and spring clean.

We have a much more focused energy on fall cleaning, getting ready for the rest of the year. Clearing out the clutter for homework spaces and new school supplies (one of my weaknesses), earlier dinner and groceries in the house, bath schedules, physical, but also mental space.

It’s time to settle down and ease into our semi-hibernation.

We’re also getting ready for the holidays. Getting it clean and straightened and maintaining it for the myriad of family gatherings that are happening between now and the end of the year. Our outside gets decorated for Halloween with pumpkins and caution tape, spiders and witches. We move our decorating talents inside for Thanksgiving. Cornucopias, squashes, oranges and browns, table runners and lap blankets. Fall is applepicking, apple pie, chutney, tarts, or just a cold, crispy snap of an apple in the orchard.

I always find the Jewish New Year a time to reflect, think, and read. No work means settling down with a cup of tea, a buttered slice of challah and a pile of books. Yom Kippur brings the fasting and the prayer; time to atone and forgive; asking for forgiveness and offering it. Forgiving ourselves.

For us politicos, especially this year, we’re gearing up for an election, getting out the vote, promoting our candidates and our values.

School supplies, the Hogwarts Express, leaves changing colors and falling gently to the browning grass, Christmas card lists, buying stamps, printing return address labels, designing Halloween costumes and cosplays, Thanksgiving shopping and organizing recipe cards.

If we could carry fall with us all year, the world (and our worlds) would be a better place.

And Here’s To Twenty More!

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​Twenty years ago last week, the first in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (a slight name change from the UK version) was released in the United States. I was unaware of its existence until sometime later when it was recommended to me by a teacher friend of mine. I have always been a fan of fantasy, played my share of D&D, written my share of worldbuilding. I was a little envious of JK Rowling. This was perfectly in my wheelhouse. One of the things I loved about Harry Potter was its multi-genre layers. The magic world but set in the modern world. Magic for stirring sauce and knitting. Friendships, and others, misfits but still finding your tribe, and right and wrong. It was everything at once.

And so, I read the first two books.

And then the third at the library. Continue reading

Travel – One Year Ago Today in Wales

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​One year ago today, we were winding our way back from Wales, over hill and dale, across the Irish Sea to stay overnight in Dublin, and then return to our home base and our cousins in Northern Ireland.

When I first went on my solo adventure to Wales in 2009, upon returning I was asked if I wanted to bring my family to see what I saw. My immediate answer was no. I didn’t want to share it with anyone, but the reality was that I also didn’t want them to spoil it for me.

Like when you set up a movie night for your best friend to watch your favorite movie, and while they’re watching the movie you’re watching them to see that they love it as much as you do…but…they don’t, and it kind of ruins the experience for you, and now every time you watch that movie again, you’ll think of your friend who didn’t like it, and wonder why they didn’t like it.

Wales could not impress them as it did me, and I did not want to see the looks on their faces of huh, so this is it.

I knew that if I wanted to visit Wales on this trip, and I did, not only to pilgrimage to my saint’s holy well, but also just to feel the land under my feet, the rocks under my fingertips, then I would have to bring them along. This was a family adventure and I couldn’t leave them behind for three days. I resigned myself to whatever they would feel, and I made peace with it.

From the ferry, we began the drive across Angelsey to cross the bridge into mainland Wales and the hour or so drive to our hotel, adjacent to St. Elen’s Well. Winding hilly roads bordered by stone walls, and there was finally a pull off to see the view, right before the bridge.

Leaning on the cold stone wall, looking out across the field that met the dry bed that met the water, seeing the Menai Bridge across the way, the mountain ahead and to the left of us, I turned to see where my family was, and there I saw it.

Their looks.

Even the kids.

They may not have had the spiritual connection or the hiraeth of homecoming, but they had amazement. It was about to drizzle, and it was grey, but judging by their faces and their eyes sweeping across the landscape, it was the brightest, sunniest day they’d ever seen.

And as we drove deeper into the towns at the base of Snowdon, their eyes only got wider. We got out several times between that first time and reaching our hotel. There were rivers to see, stone buildings, mountain views, sheep and cows, but oh the amount of sheep defying gravity on the side of the mountain.

I was glad I brought them.

They could maybe kind of understand my obsession connection.

I wasn’t even mad when they unintentionally one-upped me. It was at the point when I couldn’t do anymore climbing, so when we passed through Llanberis on our way back to Holyhead, they went up to see and take pictures for me of Dolbadarn Castle, one of Llywelyn Fawr’s. Actually, I believe that his grandson, Owain Goch ap Gruffydd was kept confined there by his brother Llywelyn the Last. So I was a little jealous, but I was still okay with it. Mostly. Now, they’ve been to a part of Wales that I haven’t. 

Maybe one day I can rectify that.

Dolbadarn Castle. Llanberis. North Wales. (c)2018


On the path to Dolbadarn Castle. Llanberis. North Wales. (c)2018