Cosplay – Candy – Creepy Crawlies

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Yesterday was Halloween, and for those of us with children this is second in planning and importance only to Christmas. I’ve always loved Halloween. I like getting dressed up, I like decorating, I like theme desserts and meals, and the specialness of the different time of the year.

I have been somewhat lazy in the last couple of years, and my daughter discovered my holiday boxes. She has taken it upon herself to drag them up from the basement, and make the house, inside and out, look magical and perfectly balanced for the holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas. And I hate to admit, because I was really good at it, but she is better. She’s faster, she’s creative, she thinks outside the box, and it’s just a beautiful display.

Outside lights and pumpkins, decorated for Halloween. (c)2018


This year, her costume was the the 13th Doctor as portrayed by Jodie Whittaker. There were some things that she wanted, and needed to buy, but there were others that I just refused – no to $20 yellow suspenders (“but I’ll wear them more than once,” and she probably would) and I said no to the $30 new sonic screwdriver, and she borrowed my boots that coincidentally are almost exactly the same at the Doctor’s. For the sonic screwdriver, she spent $2 on orange sparkly lights from Target and used aluminum foil and built herself a sonic screwdriver, pictured below.

Handmade/homemade Sonic Screwdriver (belonging to the 13th Doctor). (c)2018


The Doctor. (c)2018


My son grabbed his Flash t-shirt and ring, and went to school as Barry Allen, the Flash’s alter-ego. He has his own wonderful way of being creative and creating costumes and decorations from what he already has. I’m glad that they’re both so independent minded and creative.

Barry Allen (The Flash). (c)2018


(c)2018


My cosplay was a riff on the one I did in 2016. In 2016, I saw an everwidening chasm towards the vilification of journalists, and it concerned me. I’m a strong proponent of free speech and a free press. They are so important to our country, to our ideals, to our democracy. This Halloween I had intended to be a professor from the Harry Potter world, a Hufflepuff, of course. And then the President continued with the enemy of the people rhetoric, Gianforte is running for re-election (google Ben Jacobs, journalist), Bob Woodward published a very frightening look at the Trump White House (and he and Carl Bernstein are personal heroes of mine), and then The Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi walked into a Saudi Arabian consulate in Turkey, and never walkied out. He was murdered, assassinated, but not just that, the level of response from the White House and from the Republican side of Congress appalled me, so I thought it was important to take a stand, especially this week before Election Day.

My Pin Collection – 1

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This is post 1, but it is only a small selection of the pins that I’ve collected over the years.

L-R, Top to bottom: Supernatural’s Devil’s Trap, prison food, The Walking Dead’s Michonne, Supernatural’s Anti-Possession Symbol, Just one more episode, Star Labs from The Flash, piss me off, not nailed down, Harry Potter’s Hufflepuff House. (c)2017

L-R, Top to bottom: Green Lantern symbol, Free Comic Book Day Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Doctor Who’s The Tardis, Guardians of the Galaxy’s Groot, Batman, GOTG’s Groot, Green Lantern symbol, The Flash symbol, Doctor Who’s Starry Night Tardis. (c)2017


Clockwise: Green Lantern Emerald Warrior, Vote DC, Last Action Hero, MCA/Universal Home Video, T2 (Terminator 2: Judgment Day), RIP Superman. (c)2017

The Fall TV Season Returns!

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Warning for minor spoilers from both last season and shows that have already aired this season.​ Continue reading

Fandom Merchandise and Where to Find It

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​As I look at my Christmas gifts, and my recent birthday gifts before that, I am struck, but not terribly surprised by how much relates to the variety of fandoms and pop culture things I am involved in. Many of these things have stayed with me since my teen years, to the point that I no longer participate, but they still hold an important place in my heart. The one example that comes to mind was my getting a new messenger bag: ThinkGeek’s Bag of Holding. It’s so glorious that I’ll be writing a separate review of it. My son was a little annoyed that I would be getting it – it was a little expensive, but with the thirty percent discount that was offered, it was well worth it. He was still a little annoyed and exclaimed, “You don’t even like Dungeons & Dragons!” I think I may have snorted. I was momentarily speechless.

I don’t like Dungeons & Dragons?! Do you even know me?! I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons since high school. In our school cafeteria, we would use the half-pint milk container as a six-sided die. Every weekend in college, we’d get together in the blue room to play. Dave, our DM (dungeon master) would not let us have any alcohol. We got stupid. We were probably the only group on a Saturday night not drunk. We would play all weekend, talking time only to sleep before the next night’s game.

I met my college roommate in a study hall through a conversation about character sheets.

My oldest son used my original books when he and his friends played Dungeons & Dragons.

Not a fan?! Harumph!

Glancing at The Walking Dead trivia box, the Hufflepuff necklace, the Supernatural zipper bag, the Star Trek 50th anniversary gold ornament with sound, I saw just how many fandom things there are, and I also realized how difficult it was to get some of them.

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50-40 – Collections

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I have always been a collector. I’m not quite at the hoarding stage yet, but it’s not that far off, so I need to be ever vigilant and aware so I don’t end up on the nighttime news when they come with a shovel.

Our whole family collects something or other. My oldest son collects fire department memorabilia and history, books and pictures. My husband and middle son collect comic books and action figures. My middle son also collects Lego. He loves to build them and display them. He also continues to play with them. My daughter collects clothes. She wants to be a fashion designer and she loves putting new outfits together and seeing how she can make something old new again.

In my basement, I have videotapes and newspaper articles, magazines that I wanted to keep forever. I have the newspaper when NY Yankee Thurman Munson died. I have magazines when Princess Diana was married and I saved the newspapers somewhere for President Obama’s inauguration.

I have a collection of pewter pieces, primarily on the medieval theme, but also groupings of griffins, my favorite animal. Yes, of course, it’s a real animal.

I collect some stamp sets and sheets, usually the ones that my kids would want to have when they’re older. I’ve showcased some of them on here recently.

I collect coins. Not anything really worth much, but just a remembrance of where I’ve been or gifts that I’ve been given. I’m not sure where they all are, but I have German marks and French francs. A shekel and a Scottish paper pound. My friend sent me New Zealand money from his home and my husband brought me coins from the Philippines when he was there for his work. I almost always have Canadian money on me somewhere. We just went over the border this past summer for a couple of days vacation.

I also collect Hufflepuffs. They are a rare find, so I’m pretty sure I’ve got everything sold in our local stores, including Hot Topic.

My biggest collection is my pins. I love pins. I buy them wherever I am, and I am sent them by frineds, although I usually have to ask. I have San Francisco and Las Vegas from a friend. I have a Hello Kitty from Japan and my son brought me an Eiffel Tower pin from Paris. He recently went to the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and he brought me my newest pin from there commemorating the fire department. Another new pin is my 50th anniversary Star Trek pin that a friend got for me at a convention. I have loved Star Trek since I was a little girl, and I thought that since I was also turning 50 this year, I’d really like the pin. The picture below is what my jacket looks like currently, but I display my pins on corkboard and need to get a few more squares of it to get the rest of them on.

My collections remind me of things, whether they’re what’s depicted on the pins or they remind me of the person who gave it to me, or the adventure I had when I got the pin. That’s especially true of my Gettysburg Bike Week pin.

All of my collections remind me of who I am and the important things I’ve done and want to remember.

The pins currently on my jacket: from the top, clockwise: my RCIA cross, trio of crosses from the Shrine of the North American Martyrs, rainbow Pride, Gishwhes, safety pin, Niagara Falls, 9/11 Memorial, 50th anniversary Star Trek, Hufflepuff, Supernatural anti-possession symbol, Star Labs, Michonne and Daryl from The Walking Dead, Wales, Niagara Falls/Hard Rock Cafe, 9/11 Memorial larger version. (c)2016


Pewter, Top, clockwise: Griffin hatching out of an egg, Griffin, Ceirdwen, griffin, medieval table, Ladron, griffin. (c)2016


Hufflepuff, Coins, Stamps. Left, then top to bottom: Hufflepuff pin, Hufflepuff key chain, coins from Canada, UK, and US Bicentennial, Repeal of the Stamp Act stamp sheet. (c)2016

Star Trek 50, Pop Culture, And Us

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This is me, probably in 1991, celebrating the 25th anniversary of Star Trek at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC at their special Star Trek exhibit. I am sitting in Captain Kirk's actual captain's chair.

Thursday’s milestone birthday of the beginnings of Star Trek reminds me of the influence pop culture has on all our lives. Star Trek simultaneously showed us the future as well as holding a mirror up to ourselves and our society of the time. I’m not sure that was recognized as much at that time. Like many things, we don’t realize its value until it’s gone. Another lesson of Star Trek is to aim high and keep trying. The pilot was rejected as too cerebral, and they came back as cowboys in space while keeping its special-ness. Star Trek: The Motion Picture was a not-very-good-movie, but they forged ahead and the second one is remembered by everyone, reuniting the original guest star Ricardo Montalban as Khan Noonian Singh. The original show was cancelled after seventy-nine episodes, but has been and continues to be well-loved on the convention circuit and in movies, spawning spin-offs, fan fiction, and is known for its very cerebral fans.

In the reboot/non-reboot, Kelvin timeline, the first thing that fans said were how well the new cast held up visually and in temperament to the original cast. I recently saw Star Trek Beyond without knowing it was co-written by Simon Pegg and I loved the references to original moments of Star Trek from McCoy’s claims to be a doctor to the subtle looks between him and Mr. Spock and the underlying respect each has for the other despite McCoy reaching past his unconscious bias of the green-blooded, unemotional Vulcan, something prevalent [racial bias] in the world of the 1960s, sadly as much as it is today. Star Trek speaks a universal language that we understand regardless of our native spoken language.

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Fall Television, Mondays, and October

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I mentioned last week that I was out of town, and so I missed a few days here. My plan for the fall is to have new posts Monday through Friday, and see how that schedule goes for me, as, a writer and you, the reader. I’ll be putting up a poll later to see which of those daily features you’d like me to continue this season.

Each week, I have tried to choose a theme and keep it in mind to focus on. October is one of those extremely busy months in actual activities in my life, and monthly awareness in the world. World Mental Health Day was just a few days ago. October recognizes awareness and celebrations of:

Breast Cancer
Domestic Violence
Fire Prevention and Safety
LGBT History
Black History in the UK
Literacy
Pregnancy and Infant Loss
The Holy Rosary

Yesterday was National Coming Out Day and today is Columbus Day in the US, Thanksgiving in Canada, and Day of the Race in Mexico.

October is also ridiculously busy for me with family fun and stuff going on at the schools with fall festivals, back to school nights, recreation nights, eight week writing workshop, applepicking, my son’s birthday, Halloween, and this year, our school district celebrated its Centennial.

Busy.

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Recs – New Series

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The Flash began on The CW network in the fall of 2014. Our family is avid comic book readers, and Flash is one of their favorite characters. I knew they were going to be watching this new series, and I gave it a try.

This is one of our favorite shows, and the one we watch live as a family. There is something for everyone, and you don’t necessarily need to have read the comics to enjoy the television series. (I’ve never read the comics, and I love this program.)

I think they’ve done a great job with the characterizations. They’ve made it superhero-y while retaining some of that reality I like in a fantasy show. I like the blending of real world and fantasy world. The Flash does this really well. It has family dynamics, a love story, a nemesis, and the supernatural sci-fi effects and story fit right in. The Allens and the Wests could be your next door neighbors.

They have a great cast, and span an age range and gender balance that is admirable. Whatever demographic they were going for, I think they’ve hit on all of them as fans. I like it just as much as my ten year old son, and we are equally talking about the plot and speculating. As I said, a great family show!

After watching Tuesday night’s finale, I was surprised by some of the events, which is always good for a season finale, and it left me wanting more. I, for one of many am definitely looking forward to season 2.

Give it a try. You won’t regret it!

The CW is showing the entire first season through the summer on Tuesdays. This will catch you up before the fall start. Check your local listings.

As Holy Week Ends

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It’s full of run on sentences but that just adds to the breathlessness of writing about Wales. I’m really happy with what I did in my travel writer’s class in the twenty minute exercise. Like, really happy with it. Homework is to continue the piece, which I’m very excited about.

Excellent Walking Dead finale! Can’t stop thinking about it. I’m writing great meta in my head, but it won’t transfer to the page. Still working on it. I also loved the April Fool’s from Stephen King about writing an episode. It’s funny how I don’t read his books, but I like everything else about the man.

Excellent Supernatural! Loved every bit of it. Cas jumping into the playground door to heaven was badass. Crowley standing up to Rowena. Rowena’s face when she didn’t kill Dean. Dean and Crowley having a drink together. The séance. Bobby. BOBBY!

The Flash (SPOILERS) had the best moment on so many levels with Mark Hamill playing The Trickster. He leans down close into the copycat’s face and in telling him why he chose him, had a longish pause, and then says slowly and pointedly (and what I guessed was coming), “I am your father.” It was the perfect homage without the shark jumping cliché. I find that’s the best thing about The Flash. It’s really the one thing we love to watch as a family. It has a great pace, full of humor and adventure. Great cast, great story, and as I am the non-comic book reader of the family you don’t need to read the comics to really enjoy this show.

The Easter Vigil is tomorrow night. All throughout this week’s services and masses, people keep coming up to me, asking how I feel, patting my shoulder, hugging me, reminding me that it’s my first anniversary. I’m both excited and non-plussed as I don’t feel that different today than I felt a year ago after the vigil. This church is only becoming more of a belonging space for me. I’m asked to hand out papers and cards after mass. The ongoing support is continuing and welcome.

My son is on his school trip overseas, to France. Several of his close friends are also on the trip. It’s hard to believe he’s already 18, and he’s graduating this spring/summer. He’s just a wonderful person in so many ways.

The other two are fighting like cats and dogs and today is only the first day of spring break!

Last fish on Friday til next year and then turkey dinner for Easter. What should I make for dessert?

We’ll be visiting my mother in law next week. Many of you know that she was hit by a car in 2013 and has been recovering ever since. She is back in the rehab because of a slight set-back, but she is strong and feeling better. This rehab center gives her confidence; they are a good caring place.

I was originally going to write a reflection here on how I was feeling this Holy Week, but when I began to write this (more or less) social media update, I realized that it really spells out how my Holy Week is going and how it’s making me feel. While I didn’t do as much introspection and meditation as I would have liked this Lent, I think that was my own fault for committing myself to a daily reflection. Instead of being a spiritual release, on some days (not many), it became a burden, which was totally not my intention. I’ve never been a questioner about my conversion, but this Lent felt much more comfortable for me with a better direction and reasons for doing things. I found it easier to talk to my kids about Jesus and being Catholic, which was not something that I found stress-free in the past. This morning when I said that I wanted to bring them to the Good Friday service, they didn’t want to go, but when I explained that it was the day that Jesus died and I really wanted to attend, they understood the importance of that, and agreed to go with very little disagreement. They were also very well behaved and my son in particular joined in the group readings and sang along with the hymns. Not exactly something he does, so it made my heart warm. My daughter took out her Kindle and began drawing pictures of churches, steeples and crosses. That was her way of showing her respect and I thought it was right for her. (When I saw her Bike Race app however, I told her to put it away.)

The Supernatural family is still my family and The Walking Dead has sparked my creativity as has this new workshop for travel writing.  Currently, the television is off, although the kids are on tablets, but the house is quiet, which is always a good thing. I did one weekend retreat in February, one day retreat in March, and in May I have plans to do an overnight at the same retreat house. They are very welcoming and accommodating with my money situation. I am also hoping to go again to Spring Enrichment with the Diocese.

I know it seems as though my little world revolves around my church, but the church seems to have brought all of the me’s together to form the birth (or re-birth) of an authentic me, a genuine me, a me who I should be. Add into that my writing, my travel, my faith, history and advocacy, justice and beauty, motherhood and mothering, family and camaraderie. All of my belonging spaces coming together to create my loft house in the woods where I am the only one who can see how the paths converge and spread like the threads of a spider web, catching all of the ideas, all of the wants, all of the being that I long for.

I wasn’t looking for a new religion when I went into my church initially. I wanted quiet; and comfort. Receiving both of those I looked for nothing else. My skepticism held fast, but when Jesus came to me in a bright light, no words were needed; indeed the words are already there through the Gospels. He needed no words to lead me to His salvation, or mine I suppose; the light was enough to open my eyes.

For me, the first half of this is no different from the second half. What I do in my daily life, whether important or insouciant, it is all with the basis of faith; with the foundation of belief; with the heart of Jesus.