Stuff and Things – Rosaries

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My First Rosary

Growing up Jewish, rosaries were as unfamiliar to me as the Chinese language. I’m not sure I ever saw one outside of a television show, and even then it would have been a fully habitted nun.

When I first began attending Mass, the woman sitting in front of me prayed her rosary before the mass. Every morning I would walk in, sit behind her, and glance over her shoulder as she worked the beads. It was both equally intriguing and foreign to me.

In the Fall of 2013, I traveled to Williamsburg, Virginia to participate in a LARP (think dinner and a show except there’s no audience) and Premiere Viewing of Supernatural. I was staying with a friend who was working on props for the event. Among her prop work, she gave me my first rosary, the one in the second picture, that she made for me by hand. It’s beautiful. It is in my two favorite colors: greens and silver. I was touched that she would spend the time and honor me with her gift. As soon as I returned to New York, I brought it to my priest to bless it. It is primarily the rosary that I use. It not only brings me closer to G-d and Jesus and the Blessed Mother, but it also ties me to friendship and love here on earth.

In the first picture are my other rosaries. These were lovely gifts from special people who helped foster my Catholic education.

In the first photo, from left to right:

This gold rosary is very shiny and has the delicate features of a necklace. It was sent to me for Christmas after my baptism from my dear friend and godfather. He stood up for me as a witness at my Easter Vigil, but more importantly, he introduced me to the practicalities of knowing Jesus: compassion, forgiveness, and loving one’s neighbor no matter what. Those three things, those ideals, changed my heart and my life forever.

Second in line is the rosary I’ve already spoken about.

Next is the white one. This is from the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. I was given this by the RCIA teachers who taught me the class on Mary. They are a couple who I know from my memoir writing workshop, and they have a large devotion to Mary. They collect Mary statues and pictures/icons from all over the world, and they are magnificent. This rosary comes in a little clear box with a gold picture of the shrine/Fatima icon.

The fourth is not actually a rosary, but a chaplet. Chaplets have less beads than a rosary, and are personal prayer devotionals. This one is the chaplet of St. Anne’s, and was a gift on my baptism day from another couple who taught me during the RCIA program.

I don’t pray the rosary daily, but I will often be called to at the oddest moments, and I try to stop, take a breather, and pray.

Stuff and Things – Y Ddraig Goch

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For those of you who don’t speak Welsh, the subtitle translates to The Red Dragon. The Red Dragon, Y Ddraig Goch is the national symbol of Wales, and in addition to being pictured on the official flag, it is pretty much on everything else in country.

When I was there, I picked up stuffed red dragons for each of my three kids, but for myself I got this little keychain. For the longest time, I had it clipped to my pocketbook, and it went everywhere with me. His tag fell off, but the plastic hangy thing is still attached to his ear. On his left side, as you can see if you squint and zoom in, he has a patch of the Welsh flag attached.

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A few years ago, I was in the post office, my purse slung over my shoulder with the red dragon hanging in the front. I finished my transaction, and the postal clerk asked if I went to college at Oneonta. It is a state college in upstate New York, and I had in fact graduated from there.

I was confused how she knew that, and she pointed at my red dragon. My response was that it was a Welsh dragon, not an Oneonta red…

And then I realized, and it hit me that I hadn’t realized it before, but the coincidence was ridiculously obvious to me and I chuckled. I might have said that I guessed it was after all.

At college in Oneonta, our mascot was a red dragon. I lost that in the twenty-five years and I’d been carrying around my Welsh dragon and never once associated it with my college mascot.

So in the 1980s I had red dragons, and in 2009, I went back to Wales and got a different red dragon. It only cemented my connection to Wales. There are many threads attaching me to the land, and their only connection is me. In my mind, it makes sense. It’s a faith thing.

Stuff and Things – Green Glass Lamp

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I’ve seen lamps like this growing up. I think my grandmother may have had one in her basement. She had a weird, spooky basement that had shelves and books and a round table in the room. I used to read Nancy Drew down there. Maybe that’s why I remember it as spooky.

Other than that flash, I hadn’t remembered which family member had the green glass lamp, but I hated them. I don’t even know why I hated them.

And then I forgot about them.

Last year, we were staying with my mother-in-law over the Thanksgiving holiday and I noticed this lamp in the bedroom where we were sleeping.

I wanted it!

It’s not a bedroom lamp; it’s a desk lamp.

It’s like the lamp on the desk of a great detective or private eye, two of my dream jobs as a child. It reminds me of the table lamps in the bunker on Supernatural, and I was immediately drawn to it.

My mother-in-law gave it to me and it’s been a centerpiece of my office ever since. It makes me feel like a real writer. I try to surround myself in my writing space with things that inspire me, and this lamp has definitely fit the bill.

It’s a writer’s lamp!

I kind of love that as a young person I hated this type of lamp because I think it can stand as a symbol of life’s changes. It shows how far I’ve come. It’s not just growing up; it’s growing out.

Stuff and Things – Transistor Radio

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This is my Jimmy Carter peanut radio. It’s just one of those things that I can’t remember getting, but I’ve always had. I imagine that it was given to me early on in the Carter Administration or while he was campaigning for President. I know that my brother and sister also had one.

The battery cover is missing, and I think one of the wires has come out, so if I put a new 9 volt battery in it, it wouldn’t work, which is sad. I have some good memories listening to this radio.

No antennas, no plugs. The radio stations broadcast. If I recall correctly, it got FM. Not all of the radios that we had could pick up FM, so this was a big deal. FM had the cool music.

He’s also missing a top hat. He must have been modeling after Mr. Peanut. There were so many ways that politicians were good naturedly parodied and teased, but I kind of think that President Carter would like this. It shows his friendly, if toothy grin, the twinkle in his eyes, and of course, a homage to his peanut farming and farm life and family ancestry.

This is one of my childhood treasures along with a stuffed astronaut doll from the Kennedy Space Center. I will look for that later in the year, and share it with you when I find it. We discovered it again when we were cleaning my mother’s house out several years ago. It was a bit moldy, but I know we have it either in the garage or the basement.

Stuff and Things – Tea Things

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I’ve decided to pick up a project this week that I’ve mentioned before. A few seasons ago in my memoir workshop we wrote on the theme of stuff; our stuff. I thought that I would choose a few of my things that I’ve collected and write a little about them as a writing exercise.

Today, I’m starting with my tea things. These are a few of my favorite tea things

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Despite how it looks in the picture, I really don’t collect a lot of things related to tea. I picked those up at Cracker Barrel; they’re little salt shakers. The tin holds loose tea – Lady Londonderry. It’s wonderful with milk and sugar. For birthdays and Christmas, my friend and I exchange teas that we like so the other one can try them. This was one of those teas. I think I sent him Mexican Chocolate, which was a really lovely blend. We have a local store that has dozens of varieties and tea accessories, like that tin and my unpictured strainer.

The mug in the center is from a fundraiser at my kids’ school. The kids do artwork specifically for this project, and in the spring, parents can order their art on a variety of things. This particular one is from my daughter. I just loved how it was put together with the colors and the birds visiting the bird feeder, blue sky and sunshine. I feel happies when I have my morning tea and this is the mug that I use almost exclusively.

Drink.

Rinse.

Repeat.

I’ve just begun using that travel tumbler. I use it for both loose tea and bagged tea, and I’m always amazed when I pour the boiling water in that the cup doesn’t crack. It keeps it hot all morning when I’m at my workshop. It’s the perfect size for library and workshop writing.

For today’s project, and the picture, I’ve included only three varieties of tea that I love.

Stash’s Ginger Breakfast Black Tea was my first “exotic” tea that I really enjoyed. Most gingers are tisanes, no actual tea leaves in it, but herbals and other flowery “teas” steeped in hot water. I prefer a black tea. This is perfect with milk and sugar. I use the word exotic to distinguish between black and orange pekoe tea (the kind you would find in Lipton) and some of the more unusual varieties. Tea, coming from the Far East, is already exotic for want of a better word.

Prince of Wales is a black tea, but it’s a bit lighter than the typical tea that Americans tend to drink. This is similar to PG Tips and reminds me of the tea that I had when I visited Wales.

My new find is Twining’s Honeybush, Mandarin and Orange tea. At first glance it sounds like a tisane or herbal tea, but it is in fact, black tea. One of the reasons that I hadn’t often had citrus teas is because I put milk in all of my tea, not realizing that citrus isn’t really made for that. Once I stuck to sugar, this was a very relaxing cuppa. One of the surprises of this tea is that if you let it sit too long (which I am guilty of on occasion), and let it get cold, it still retains a very rich and flavorful taste.

Not pictured are PG Tips, Chai Spice, Moroccan Mint (black tea), and Scottish Breakfast. I tend to lean towards Stash and Twining’s if I’m not getting the teas from my friend or from my local tea shop.

Let me know in the comments what your favorite tea is or any other favorite drink.

Happy Tea-ing!