Saturday, October 31, 2009

Samhain Blessings to All

A blessed Samhain to all. This day marks a remembrance for those who have passed on. The growth season has ended and the frost will soon begin. And it is during this night of Sanhaim that the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest making this the ideal time to pay homage and to communicate with those who have passed over to the Otherworld. During your Samhain celebration, allow yourself to enter into a meditative state. Think about family, friends, and pets who have passed on. Bring to mind your fondest memories of them and speak aloud any messages you wish for them to hear for they will, in fact, hear what you have to tell them.

Leave them offerings of food, drink, and incense and allow your energy to merge with theirs enough to say 'hello' and 'blessed be.'

Tonight spend as much time with them as you want. Tell them the things you have always wanted to say, but never had the chance. Let us toast our loved ones who have passed on to new lives and dance one more time with those who are no longer physically with us. Part of them is living on in our hearts; embrace and touch the mystery that is beyond all mysteries.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Mischief Night

Today is known as "Devil's Night" or "Mischief Night", a tradition involving pranks and minor vandalism which takes place every year on the eve of Halloween, October 30th. The tradition is often attributed to the Irish and Scottish immigrants who arrived in the United States during and after the "Irish Potato Famine" of 1845. And along with the tradition itself, they also popularized the folklore that the night's pranks and tricks were the work of faeries, goblins, and other mystical creatures.

Mischief Night activities are some of my fondest childhood memories, and I am grateful that I had the opportunity to participate. The world had changed by the time I had my boys, and they were never able to experience what I had. I remember this night as being such a fun night when I was a kid, and although I now realize that my mom must have known what was going on, she never once tried to stop me from participating in the festivities with my friends. This night was just as much fun as Halloween itself, and it was agony for a child, waiting for the darkness to come; time seemed to move so much slower when I was young. Now it seems that a year has passed in the blink of an eye.

I cannot help but smile as I remember how much fun it was going about the neighborhood, ringing the doorbells and running away....that thrill of the chase. Of course, no one ever 'really' gave chase, but it was fun to think they would. And I do believe that many of them answered the doorbell just to give us kids that thrill. One thing Mom would never let me bring was eggs...and neither would the other moms...and the stores wouldn't sell eggs to us kids on mischief night, but every year at least one of my friends would always manage to finagle a few precious eggs from somewhere. No matter what, we kids always managed to come up with a bar of soap. I feel badly about that now, but as a child, soaping up the cars seemed like so much fun, and naively, I never realized how much work I was inflicting on my unsuspecting neighbors by soaping up their least not until I grew up and hubbie got his car.

And who could possibly forget about the most notorious stunt ever played on Mischief Night was on October 30, 1938 when Orson Welles radio adaption of "War of the Worlds" created widespread panic as people thought the broadcast was for real, and the Martians had landed.

So, what are some of your Mischief Night memories?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

At the Mid Hour of Night

At the mid our of night, when stars are weeping, I fly
To the lone vale we loved, when life shone warm in thine eye;
And I think oft, if spirits can steal from the regions of air
To visit past scenes of delight, thou wilt come to me there,
And tell me our love is remember'd even in the sky.

Then I sing the wild song it once was rapture to hear,
When our voices commingling breathed like one on the ear;
And as Echo far off through the vale my sad orison rolls,
I think, O my love! 'tis thy voice from the Kingdom of Souls
Faintly answering still the notes that once were so dear.

By Thomas Moore (1779-1852)

I found the above poem in my pile of papers. It is such a beautiful poem that I had to share.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What is Halloween Without the Bats?

I don't like bats. As a matter of fact, I am terrified of them. When I was five years old my parents bought their first house in one of those cookie cutter neighborhoods where all the houses looked the same...and everyone knew everyone else's business. It was a great place for a kid to grow up, though....because this was one of those neighborhood's of "first homes". And for that very reason I grew up with lots of a safe neighborhood where Halloween was loads of fun, and kids could be kids. I am blessed to have lived in such a time and place...and to have experienced the fun things of childhood that sadly seem to have passed to the least here in the city they have. But, chatting about my childhood Halloween's was not my purpose today. Today, I wanted to talk about bats...those lovely creatures of the night.

When I reached my early teens, my parents bought a new house. By then, most of the kids I had grown up with had already moved away...and a new group of first-time home owners with their young babes had taken their place. Life is a cycle you know...birth, death, and regeneration. Even neighborhoods go through it. So, my parents had bought this big, old house way back in what we used to call "the sticks". Don't know what it is called today, but in those days it was living far away from the rest of civilization. There were a few homes nearby, but nothing like what I was used to. And because we were in "the sticks" there was lots of woodland around us and few streetlights. Going out for a peaceful walk in the evening was just about impossible...if you were afraid of bats, like me. Because they were always there from the dusk on. Whenever you looked up, they were soaring above. Oh, what a scary sight! I remember that I couldn't walk on the street at night without covering my hair...always afraid that they would get tangled up in there...and then what? I was literally terrified to walk the streets at night.

But, bats, just as everything else in this world, have their place and their day of fame---Halloween-- for what would the night be like without those nasty little critters fluttering about in the skies...always alert and eager to zoom down upon their unsuspecting victims and suck their blood. But, did you know?????....

That if a bat flies into your home, it is a sign that the ghosts are about....and come to think about it,...maybe it was the ghost who let the bat in.

If bats come out early and fly around playfully, it is a sign that good weather is in the forcast.

Bats hitting a building are an omen of rain.

Bats flying near people means someone is trying to bewitch them.

Early Christians believed that the devil turned into a bat to harass people and that witches shapeshifted into bats.

To most Orientals, bats are good luck and bring happiness and peace.

The Scots believed that when a flying bat rises and descends, it does so near a witch's home.

Ancient Native American tribes believed that the bat's power was strong medicine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

My Very Special Lady

I wanted to take a few minutes this morning to introduce you to a very special lady in my life...Miss Minga. She has been my closest friend and confidante for 17 years now. I am able to tell her things that I cannot tell another human being...and she always has the patience to listen...and NEVER tries to push her own opinions on me. Sometimes, though, I have to say she can be rather demanding...especially in the wee hours of the morn when she wants my company...and she hates to take "no" for an answer. But, it's allowed; she's earned it...because no one has ever been such a loyal and loving friend to me. We've grown old together, my Minga and I. My son hates me to say that we're getting old, but life happens...And, although both of us now a little stiff when we arise, we're dealing with it...because aging is a part of life.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Honoring the Ancestors

Our ancestors are the root of who we are, and a good time to pay homage to those who came before us is just before Samhain. One very special way to remember them is to create an ancestor altar. It can be a part of your personal altar or a separate one which is dedicated only to your ancestors.

To set up the altar gather pictures of those ancestors you wish to honor and any momentos of your loved ones you wish to add for a deeper connection. I don't have a picture of mine, but I include a potholder crocheted many years ago by my beloved grandmother, a vase that had once belonged to my maternal grandmother, fresh flowers, photos of my ancestors, copper candle holders that belonged to my mom, candles, a bowl of water, a feather and a stone which came from Ireland.

Arrange the photos and other objects in the middle as you chant "May my loved ones touch me again. Spirits of the air, fire, water, earth, please bring my loved ones close again."

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Ten Signs You Are Too Old For Halloween

Still here cleaning and sorting. I am amazed at the amass of paper I have collected...especially since I messed up my home printer and use the one at work. Funny, you would think it would be the opposite, but here is what happens. When I am surfing on the weekends, I come across something I would like to keep, but since I don't have a home printer, I email it to myself at work; then, I get to work and have tons of messages to I print everything so I can delete and make the inbox more manageable, but in the meantime some of things that seemed so important never get looked at again....instead ending up in a huge stack of papers. Eventually, the time comes to sort through the stack, and there it is...the item that had been so important to me at the time. So, now I am at that sorting stage and coming across all kinds of stuff; hence, the following. Enjoy.

You are too old for Halloween when:
1. You get winded from knocking on the door.
2. You have to have someone chew the candy for you.
3. You ask for high fiber candy.
4. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.
5. When the door opens you yell, "Trick or...." and forget the rest.
6. By the end of the night you have a bag full of restraining orders.
7. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hair piece.
8. You are the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood with a walker.
9. You avoid going to houses where your ex-spouses live.
10. People say, "Great Keith Richards mask!" and you are not wearing a mask.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Back in the Old Days

I am one of your typical baby-boomers...born in 1947. I can also call myself one of America's first teen-agers. Did you know that prior to the 1950's the word was rarely heard, that us teens of the 50's were the first to stand out as a distinct age group with our fashion interests, music, and interests? Well, technically I didn't become a teen until 1960. I entered my teenage years the same year I entered high school. There was no such thing as middle school. I also have the honors of being one of your first latch key kids. Not that we were poor, we were middle class back in the day. But my mom worked for as long as I can remember, and I like to think that she was woman ahead of her time....and I remember that by the age of 11, I was letting myself in when I got home from school.

Yesterday a fellow blogger wrote and said that her school was in lockdown. Lockdown? Sounds more like a term that belongs in our prison system rather than our schools, doesn't it? Sadly, that is the sign of the times. Here in New York City some of our students find themselves guarded by armed police officers after they pass through the metal detectors to get in. Why can't youth just be youth without all these worries? But, when you really think about it, we had our worries in my day, too.

I grew up in the days of the arm's race. The early 50's saw the Korean War and the 60's saw the escalation of Viet Nam...and during the midst of it all, was the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union. We lived with this constant gnawing fear that any day our world would come to an end; we wondered if we were going to grow up. We didn't have metal detectors in our school, but we did have those whistles that alerted us that it was time for an "air raid' drill. In some schools kids got under their desk when the whistle blew, but in my school, we lined up in single file and moved out into the hallway. There, with our backs against the walls we sat, knees up, heads arm under our head covering our eyes, the other straggled atop our head. As I think about it now, I have to wonder...did they really think that was going to save us? But, the Cold War ended, and it didn't have to. But, not all of my youth was doom and gloom. I have some seriously happy memories.

Just as today's teen will also have their fond memories, I have mine...hanging out with my friends at the malt shop, gathering around the little 'black and white' television and watching shows such as "I Love Lucy" and "Ed Sullivan" with the family, swooning over idols such as Troy Donohue and Fabian, Frankie Avalon, the junior and senior prom. And I'd say, as a whole, we boomers turned out pretty darned good.

After all with songs such as "Does Your Bubblegum Lose its Flavor on the Bedpost Every Night?" how could things have turned out differently.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Ode to Autumn

Lately I have been trying to take care of some much need filing at home and have been coming across things that I like to share. The following is a poem I found by John Keats. Hope you enjoy.

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees,
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
To swell the ground, and plump the hazel shells
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease,
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells.

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep,
Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers;
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings, hours by hours.

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are there?
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
Then in a wailful choir, the small gnats mourn
Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft,
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

John Keats

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dear Ancestor

( From The Old Settlers Burial Yard in Lancaster, Massachusetts "Here lies the body of Mr. John Prescott who Died Oct ye 11 1749 in ye 77th year of his age")

The above is the grave of my 10th great grandfather, John Prescott, the founder of Lancaster, Massachusetts. For anyone interested, there is a wonderful website which is run strictly by volunteers. It is called Find a Grave. Here you can find the graves of your ancestors in not only all of the states, but also several other countries of the world. Now, it you happen to find your ancestor's grave, and there is no photo of the stone, you can write and ask a volunteer to take a picture for you, and they will. I did for my great great grandmother and not only did they have the photo on the site the next day, they also had the stone of her son, also. And, they have what they call a virtual memorial where you can place flowers and jot a note in rememberance. Great, highly recommended site to anyone interested in genealogy...and free.

Today I wanted to share something with you, a little poem I had found a few years ago. I refer to this poem often. As a genealogist, it has a special meaning to me. Hope you all enjoy it as much as I did. This poem never fails to send shudders through my body and tears to my eyes. If you've read it before you know what I mean. If not, please enjoy.

Dear Ancestor

Your tombstone stands among the rest;
neglected and alone
The name and date are chiseled out
on polished, marbled stone
It reaches out to all who care
It is too late to mourn
You did not know that I'd exist
You died and I was born.
Yet each of us are cells of you
in flesh, in blood, in bone.
Our blood contracts and beats a pulse
entirely not our own.
Dear Ancestor, the place you filled
one hundred years ago
Spreads out among the ones you left
who would have loved you so.
I wonder if you lived and loved,
I wonder if you knew
That someday I would find this spot,
and come to visit you.
(Author Unknown)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Grandpa, the Heathen

My maternal grandpa was a truly amazing man, and although Sadly, although I have no pictures of him (burned in a fire), I am blessed enough to have my wonderful memories. Every Friday evening, my mom would drop me off at my grandparent's house, and I would spend the weekend with them. My special grandpa times were on Saturday mornings. Grandma would stay at home, and grandpa and I would climb into his beaten up old jalopy and head into the town. Once there, he would give me a dollar, and each week while he took care of whatever business was at hand, I would go into the same store to buy the same thing--a cutout childhood addiction. Gosh, it always amazes me the things that stay with us from our childhood. To this day, I can close my eyes and sense everything about that store--the musty smell, the rows of tables stocked with a variety of products, the creaking wooden floor, the upward slant as you walked to the back to the land of the cutouts. Oh, what wonderful memories of days gone by!!!

Somehow, with that story I fell totally off track about what I had planned to write about...the importance of knowing who we are and where we came from. This came to me the other night as I was doing a little work on my family tree....I realized that I knew so very little about grandpa and his family. Oh, thanks to social security I learned the names of his mom and dad (for $25 you can obtain a copy of an original application which gives the names of parents). I learned that his dad's name was John and his mom's name was Mary. I learned that Mary came to America from Preuben. Germany in 1891 and that John's great grandparents had come from Baden, Germany in the 1840's. I learned that John was a fireman and had a brother, Otto, who was a New York City Police officer, and that they lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn...not too far from where I now work. And in the 1900 census I found John and Mary...but my grandpa, born in 1894, was not there. I 'did' find him living in Staten Island with his aunt, Catherine. That was the first time I became aware that my grandpa had not been raised by his parents...who, by the way and according to the 1910 census...were divorced. Unfortunately, I have been unable to trace Mary, but I did find John in the 1920 census living in Long Island with his new wife and daughter,Ruth, who I do remember as Aunt Ruth and her husband, Harvey.

And as I pondered the history of grandpa's family, a sobering thought occurred to me. I'd become so enamored with my Celtic line, that I had totally ignored another, equally important lineage--my Germanic ancestry...the heathens of my family tree. It's easy now to see how I could be tempted to overlook it. Celtic seems so full of wonder and awe while heathenry has almost come to be thought of as a derogatory term. But that is only a "perception" of a "word" and not the people's themselves. From a short course I took on Asatru, heathenism is a fascinating belief system filled with gods and goddesses and wonder and awe...who doesn't love the story of Odin, and Thor, and the goddess Freya?...and with very similar beliefs and practices as the Celts. I believe it is so important that we spend time learning about "all" of our lineage...not just those that we consider the glamorous ones.

Now, I am beginning to ramble, I know. Sorry, that is one of my little indiosyncracies. I guess what I am trying to say is this....We all have a fabulous history...full of ancestors and tales and belief systems and only by digging into the past, the entire past, can we learn about the present. Who are we, and how did we get here? What important questions they are!!!!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Broom Superstitions

A broom dropping in front of the door means company before the day is over.

It's unlucky to sweep on Monday.

It's unlucky to borrow a broom.

Sweep after dark and you will never be rich.

When someone is hit by a broom, he/she should spit on the broom and take ten steps backwards so that he/she will neither have bad luck or be arrested.

To step over a broom will start a quarrel in the house.

To brush your boot with a broom while you are sweeping will bring you bad luck for a week.

To avert bad luck after you have walked over a fallen broom, step backwards over it.

The person who is hit on top of the head by a broom will be arrested. (Funny, I should think it would be the other way around.)

Sweeping under a chair which someone is sitting in will bring you bad luck.

Sweeping on New Year's Day means that you will sweep out all the money you make in the coming year.

Never sweep before sunrise, or you will have bad luck.

Sweeping a porch at night brings bad luck.

It is a good sign to let a broom drop in front of you.

If you let a broom drop and don't immediately step back over it, someone dirtier than you will arrive.

If you wish to get rid of unwanted company, pick up a broom in front of them. This is a sign that you want them to go home.

For luck, always pick up a broom that is lying down.

What can I say? I am a wealth of information. I guess that comes with age. Hope you enjoyed these little superstitions.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Revelation # 7 and More Kreativ Bloggers

And now for my last revelation...and that is "I hate housework, cooking, and ironing, but do them nonetheless.

Now, my next step is to nominate others for the Kreativ Blogger Award. But first, let me recap the rules.

1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
3, Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know that you nominated them.

And the winners are: (Drum Roll Please)

Victoria at Dancing Beneath the Moon

Miss Sandra at Musings from Harmonie House

Beverly at So This is Wonderland

Monica at Amethystiana

Elise at Being Pagan

Sobeit at A Witch's Way

Sloan at Whisper Wood

Sorry. I have tried over and over again to establish the links. Must be doing something wrong.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Revelation # 6 Some of my More Famous Ancestors

You never know who or what family secrets you are going to turn up when you start working on your family tree. Here are just a few of mine. One day I will share some of the family tales.
(Anna Symes Tuthill Harrison, wife of President Harrison)

(Lillian Gish)

(Norman Rockwell)

(Robert Frost)

(Clara Barton)

(Hugh the Great; Leader of the First Crusade)

(King Henry 1st)

(The Emperor Charlemagne)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Revelation #: 5 I Saw A UFO

Growing up in the country, I had lots of opportunities to see strange things which city folk can only see at the movie house, and most will say they are a figment of someone's over-active imagination. But, do UFO's exist? Do your believe? Well, I can tell you from first-hand experience that they do indeed exist.

One night my friends and I (I was about 18 at the time) gathered into the car and drove up the mountainside and down a small windy road until we came to what we used to call "The Haunted Barn." We were determined that we would go inside that night and face our fears. Actually, the haunted barn wasn't really haunted; I don't even think was a barn. It was just a broken down old building that had belonged to a family who had closed up shop years before and moved to on another state. But, to a group of teenagers, it was haunted; that is what made it a special place to go.

I think it is important here, at this point, to give a brief description of the landscape so that you can fully get the full gist of the tale. The Haunted Barn was situated atop a mountainside and sat back about 30 feet from the edge of a sharp cliff. The cliff was so high and so sharp that no one could climb up it unless they were using climbing gear. At the foot of the cliff there was a cornfield and off in the distance you could see the barn and the farmhouse.

I can remember that this was a night of a New Moon for the only thing visible in the sky were a few stars. We had specifically chosen this night because we had wanted it as dark as it could possibly be. So, to get on with the story, my girlfriend and I got out of the car first. It was so, so dark. We took a few steps and saw something long and dark lying on the ground. And, it scared the heck out of us. We screamed at the top of our lungs until we realized it was nothing but an old wooden pole lying there. By, then the others left in the car were hollaring for us to get back in the car, but all we did was laugh and chide them to get out of the car. At the time, we thought that it was our original scream that scared them. They kept on hollaring for us to get in the car, and I heard the driving revving up the engine.

Suddenly, my girlfriend screamed so loudly that she momentarily deafened me and said, "Look, look at the side of the cliff." I did, and I will never forget what I saw. There was a light, and the light was slowly rising as if someone with a flashlight was climbing up the sides of it, but we knew tht wasn't happening...and besides, the light was so expansive...and much to bright...far too much light to be a flashlight. At that, I let out a scream of terror and the two of us flew back into the car. The driver put the car and gear, and we drove out of there backwards that night..all of us in a state of fright that I had never felt before or since.

Eventually, we backed out onto the main road and took off like the wind. Some of us were in tears. All of us were trembling. The last thing I remember seeing as we sped off was that the light had almost reached the top. Today, when I read about UFO's, I think about that night and wonder what would have happened if we hadn't made it off that hillside. Would I have been another inductee, another statistic? I'll never know.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Where Has All the Chivary Gone?

The other day in one of my other blogs, I posted the 12 Basic Rules of Chivalry for the Knights of the Round Table, and someone responded that it is shame that the world no longer lives by these rules...and I have been thinking about it ever since. It is so true, and our world would be such a better place if chivalry was still practice...not just chivalry but some of the little considerations for your fellow man.

I consider myself one of the lucky ones...for I was born and raised during a time when thoughtfulness and consideration for your elders was not only taught, but expected. I, too, took public transportation to school, but there ws a difference. I can still remember clearly, how if the bus was full and an adult got on...any adult, age didn't matter...just that they were older than of us had to give up our seat or the bus driver would pull over to the side of the rode and stop until someone did get up. Fortunately, someone always did so we never got to see what would happen if everyone refused. And this wasn't just "a" bus driver; this was all bus drivers. This was an unwritten law in those days.

Now, we most certainly cannot expect that out of our bus drivers and train operators today so it is up to us as parents to teach our children...but sadly many do not. In one of my job, I used to have to take the "F" train to Jay Street and then pick up the "A" train to go back into another part of Brooklyn. During the school year there would be a mother there with her 5 children waiting for the train when I arrived. These children ranged from about age 8 to age 15...certainly old enough to stand if need be. But, every morning, when that train rolled in and the doors opened, that mother would scoot her 5 children in past me allowing them to run and grab whatever seats were would even take up two seats so her mother would have one...and then they would all watch me stand. Awful, isn't it? But this happens so frequently. Why?

Some say it's all the different nationalities here in New York who bring with them their own different customs and ways of doing things. Hogwash, I say!!! Asian people are known for their deep consideration and reverence of the elderly. So, why are they grabbing the seats and making an old woman stand? A male friend once responded when I asked about this, "Well, you women wanted your women's lib. This is what you get." More hogwash, I say. Nowhere was it ever written in women's lib that young, healthy males would be able to just about knock down older women to grab a seat on the subway. Women's lib had to do with women's rights...and no way did it excuse males from the gentlemanly duties...And, besides, if this is our fate from women's lib, why do elderly men still have to stand, too? And what about pregnant women? At 61 years old I was the only one to give up my seat for a pregnant women even though I was surrounded by young businessmen and women.

I've heard people say that "Well, that's the way New Yorkers are." Not true. More hogwash. About 12 years ago I managed to slip 3 of my discs and was in tremendous pain. Six months it took me to heal. Well, one time I was on the subway with my cane, and there were no seats. There were three young men (I'd say in their mid-twenties) seated in front of me, and they were talking excitedly about all the things they had planned on their trip to New York. These men actually saw me wincing in pain, tears welling in my eyes it hurt so bad, but not only did none offer me a seat, but one actually had the NERVE to ask me directions to someplace.

No, this lack of chivalry doesn't start in New York; it doesn't start in some other country; women's lib didn't bring it on. Parents did. I raised my boys just as I was raised, and today they are two of the few New Yorkers who will give up there seats to someone older. Parents have to teach their children respect...respect and consideration for those who are disabled or older than them. This begins in the home...nowhere else. Instead of that mother at Jay Street teaching her children to almost knock me over to grab the seats, she should be teaching them to offer it to me. When I see something like that, or young, healthy people monopolizing the seats, that "One day you will be me, and I hope someone gives up their seat for you.' or "How do you feel when someone makes YOUR mother stand?"

Still another time I was on a crowded train, and some teenage girl had a seat and was talking to her buddies who were standing. I suffer from fibro so I am almost always in some sort of I watching this girl to see if she would get up...but, of course, she didn't until it was her stop, and as she was leaving the car and I was edging over to the seat, I heard this girl laughing "I knew that lady was gonna grab the seat when I got up. You should of seen the way she was watching me." What, my friends, was so funny about that? The last laugh was actually on her.

In closing, and sorry for the rant, I'd like to say that I have been raised so well that I still feel uncomfortable when someone gets on the train who looks up in years. And then I think to myself, "You know what? You are older than she is." That's how well it was drilled into me.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Revelation #4: The Night I Snuck to CBGB's

CBGB (Country, Blue Grass and Blues)
OMFUG (Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers)

This was the inside of CBGB's. The walls were covered with posters.

The old days when the cars pulled up and dropped everyone off.

This is a revelation to shock you all. This little old lady was once into 'heavy metal." I first came to the Big Apple in the late 60's. The hippie era had was dwindling, but hadn't yet ended so I found myself in coffee houses and spending endless hours wandering through Washington Square Park. I'd found a little job in one of those little hippie shops that were so prominent back then. Folk music was my thing--Bob Dylan, Mama's and the Papa's, Arlo Guthrie. Oh, wow, those were the days...the days when you could walk into one of those decrepit looking coffee shops and find yourself seated six feet away from your idol. It didn't cost a bundle in those days to hobnob with the up and coming stars.

But, all good things must come to an end, and the 70's brought many changes. Folk music died out and a new music was born. The disco and its music was in, and heavy metal was on its way. I was never able to 'get with' the disco craze, seemed too tame for me. Hippies just didn't fit in there; hippies fit in with the new heavy metal craze, so on weekends this is where you find some club that featured this wild, reckless music...and CBGB's was one of my absolute favorite places to go. It was a small, dank, beer soaked club where the music was loud and the lights were glaring.

But, all good thing must come to an end. I married, had my sons, and settled down into a life of motherhood, neighborhood gossip, and part-time employment. Then, when the boys finally started school, I began to work full-time...several odd jobs through the 80's and eventually ending up at the expediting agency. Now if we fast forward to the 90's, my children are grown, I've changed careers at mid-life, and I find myself working at a halfway house for recovering alcoholics. I betch you can't guess where it 312 Bowery...right across the street from the infamous club.

Now, when I used to work evenings sometimes on the weekends, I would sit outdoors and watch as the cars dropped off party-goers and lines started to build at the club...and I would feel a great yearning. "If only I could just experience for one night the excitement of my youth." So, one night, on a Saturday, my relief came in at 11 pm, and I started to head for the train. But, the music blasting from the club was so overwhelming that I couldn't help myself...and the next thing you knew, I found myself in the club. I didn't stay long because once inside I realized that my day had come and gone. I just didn't fit in anymore. I was older than the rest and actually quite matronly whereas they had their purple hair and nose rings. So, I slunk on out of there and headed home.

No one knew that I went to the club that night. But I am so glad that I gave myself the opportunity to be there....just one more time. CBGB's closed its doors forever on October 15, 2006. No one can say that the club didn't have a nice long run...and ironically, today I work for the company that owns the building.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Revelation #3: How I Got to the City

Beautiful picture of the city, isn't it? Look at the beauty of the moon, the red sky in the distance. What a place to live! Within a few short blocks you can sample food from almost every nationality on the planet. You can get from the furthest outpost in the Bronx and Queens to the far end of Brooklyn without even getting into a car. It is really something special; you have to live here to know what I am talking about. So, how did a country bumpkin who didn't even know what a bagel was end up in the greatest, most exciting city in the world?

Now, I was born in a different time and place. The world was safer back then...or maybe I was just too naive to know any better. In my neck of the woods in New Jersey farm country kids went to school, married, and had their own children. Husbands worked on farms or factories. So very few went on to college that they weren't even counted. If females worked, it was as a secretary or in a factory...and that wasn't for long because you "didn't want to be an old maid."But, that wasn't what I wanted out of life. I wanted more. My parents always told me I was a rebel; I guess I proved them right.

One night a girlfriend and I were out at a party, and we began discussing what the future held for us...and neither of us were very happy, so we made our plans that night. We were going to the big city and we were going to make it. So, the next day...and despite our parents pleas...we set out with two outfits of clothing each and $200 in our pocket...and we hitchhiked to New York. Yes, we hitchhiked. We were used to it. We hitchhiked everywhere back in those days. We found ourselves a cheap hotel room in a flophouse just across from Washington Square Park...The Hotel Earle. Some famous people actually stayed there...Bob Dylan, John and Mary Phillips of the Mama's and the Papa's to name a few.

Well, my friends, that was 38 years ago, and I am still here. My friend and I parted ways years ago, and I often wonder what became of her. But, with so many young people coming here to the city to fulfill their hopes and dreams only to end up on drugs or on the streets, I was one of your success stories. I never faltered, no matter how bad it got. Here I am world!!!!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Jack-O-Lantern

Sorry to disappoint you. I know you are all on pins and needles waiting for the next revelation. But, ya know, the old brain begins to play tricks on you when you become a 'woman of a certain age', and all of the stories that were just sitting there waiting to be told have somehow taken the day off. So, bear with this old lady. More revelations will come, but following is a little appeasement for you. (Somehow these little tales are always fondly remembered)

There was once a stingy drunkard of an Irishman...Jack was his name....and Jack is credited with tricking the Devil into climbing an apple tree. Then, Jack quickly cut the sign of a cross into the trunk knowing that the Devil would not be able to climb down. Jack made the Devil swear that he would never again come after his soul or claim it in any way....but this didn't stop Jack from dying and because of his life of drinking and being deceitful, he was not allowed in Heaven. And, because of the oath he had made the Devil take, he wasn't allowed to go to Hell either.

"But where can I go?" asked Jack.

"Go back the way you came." replied the Devil.

The way back was so dark and windy that the Devil, in a final gesture, threw a live coal at Jack...a coal that came straight from the fire of Hell. And, to light his way and keep it from blowing out in the wind, Jack put it in a turnip which he had been eating. And ever since that day, Jack and his trusty 'lantern' have been traveling all over the earth in search of a place to rest.

Information that you may or may not find helpful:

Did you know that bats always turn left when exiting a cave?
Or that Phasmophobia is a fear of ghosts?
Or that Wiccaphobia is a fear of witches?
Did you know that bats are the most important natural enemies of night-flying insects?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Revelation #2: I Really Don't Make My Pumpkin Pies

Every year my job has a big Thanksgiving Party for our clients and a private one for us workers. The staff party is usually held on the Thursday prior to Thanksgiving, and each staff member is expected to make something and bring it in....sort of like Potluck Thanksgiving. Well, my problem is that Wednesday and Thursday are my late days, and I don't get off work until 7:30 pm and home at 8:30 pm so who wants to cook then? And who wants to cook in the morning and then go to work? So, for every party I began buying those frozen pumpkin pies that are already put together, and all you have to is bake them. I get up in the morning and put two of them in the oven which gives them time to bake and cool off for me to carry them...and no one knows the difference.
The way I look at it is that I am NOT lying. I don't tell them I made the pies, just let them assume. And when someone tells me it tastes good, I say a simple "Thank you."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Revelation #1: How I Passed Math

First, before everyone starts wondering why a 55 year old woman has to pass math, I figured I would offer a little background. For many years I had a fairly good position with an expediting agency. We got passports, visas, car registration, etc. for stars and other rich people who either didn't want to go themselves or couldn't go themselves. Some of our customers were Ralph Lauren, James Taylor, Donald Trump, Wall Street you get the picture. For awhile it was a really exciting job to me, and I loved meeting all these people. But one day, things started to change for me, and it wasn't exciting and fun anymore. As a matter of fact, I was just pretty darned unhappy. My life was lacking something. I realized that I had always wanted to help high school I either wanted to be a lawyer or a psychiatrist...but things never seemed to work out as I had planned. I was kidding myself into believing that I was in a 'helping profession' because the people I was working with weren't 'needy', they, in fact, felt as if they were 'entitled'. A big difference and please, don't get me wrong. I am not demeaning any of them in any way. That wasn't my intention. I've worked with some really, really super people and wouldn't trade the experience for anything...but it was time to move on.

Well, as I soon discovered it is not that easy to move on...especially when you are in your late 40's and only armed with a GED. I knew I had to return to school, so I took an entry level position in an agency that worked with mentally ill clients while I went to evening classes to become a substance abuse counselor. Then, once I completed the required course hours, I moved onto another entry level position in a halfway house for recovering alcoholics. The company I worked for also had a parole program, and I was hoping for an opportunity. If you look back at my high school goals, in a way, I would be fulfilling both of them.

I decided that it was time to go back to school for a degree. I chose to get a bachelor's in criminal justice since I wanted to work with parole. But by now, there was no way I was going to sit in a classroom for this degree so I got my credits from correspondence courses and exams. I enrolled in Excellsior College which is an accredited college in New York State, totally off-campass. You amassed your credits and they, in turn, transformed them into a degree. It was the cheapest way, and I tend to learn more when I have to do for myself.

There was one problem, though. I was still expected to fulfill the core requirements of a degree...and that, my friends, included math. Now, may I say that I am 62 years old and went to high school in a small town where all you had to know was adding, subtracting, dividing, and multiplying...none of this other stuff like algebra, trig, geometry, and logic. Personally, I don't see much sense in all that unless someone wants to go on to science or something. I wouldn't think of using algebra to balance my checkbook. So, what was I to do? Without math, I wouldn't get my degree. I was working full-time and wasn't about to enroll in college for one course which would cost me over $1,000. So, how did I manage to pass.

I enrolled in a correspondence class on basic math which included all of the above and was detailed enough to fulfill my credit requirement. Then, I went online surfing until I found a great math homework help site. I just couldn't seem to get even the way to set up the problems so I would write the problem into this math support group, and some kind soul would help me to set up the problem. Once in awhile someone went all the way and gave me the answer, but that was never my intention because I could figure the problem myself once I learned how to set it up. That was all I wanted. Show be how to do it, and I will do it.

One night, one of the group members yelled at me and said, "I know you want us to do your homework, but that's not what this group is for. Start doing your own homework." Well, everyone else there jumped to my aid. She HAD been rather fresh. To make a long story short, I passed with a 'C'. Not the greatest grade, but I passed with that groups help, something that I will be forever grateful for. I never told them I was old enough to be their grandma. They always thought I was one of them. And
it surely felt good to be a teenager for awhile.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My First Award

I got my first award yesterday, and for the first time, I am speechless. I'd like to begin by thanking Debra She Who Speaks for nominating a newcomer like me. I've only been blogging since August, but I must say, the blogging world has taken me by surprise. I've been like a little kid in a candy store...cannot seem to get enough of my own blogs or join those of others. I'd never even thought of blogging until a friend turned me on to it. Prior to that, to me it was just something else like Facebook...which I do not have nor want...and Twitter...which I don't even know what it is. But blogging. There is something so magical and creative about blogging. It was an instant addiction to me.

The 'official rules' of this award are as follows:
1. Thank the person who gave this to you.
2. Copy the logo and place it in your blog.
3. Link to the person who nominated you.
4. Name 7 things about yourself that no one would really know.
5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know you nominated them.

After giving this a lot of thought, I have decided to do as Debra and take my revelations one at a time. So, tune in if you want to know my secrets. Hopefully, my mind won't remain as blank as it this moment.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Halloween Lore

I have to say that Halloween has become my favorite day of the year. So, prepare yourselves to hear a lot about it up until then...and maybe afterwards, too. I do believe this comes from my ancestors. For the Celts, Samhain was the biggest and most significant holiday of the year and it was celebrated with the drinking of some very rough brews and the chucking away of food and other goodies to please the gods. This is because they believed that this was the time that the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living...and the souls of those who had died during the previous year would travel to the Otherworld. As a celebration of nature's never ending renewal of life, Samhain celebrated the impending darkness after the light and harvest of fall after which life would re-emerge again in spring.

Halloween is a contraction of the words "Hallowed Evening", and it retains much of the original from and meaning that it had during the Celtic times despite the Church's efforts to destroy it as a pagan holiday.

To the Celts, Samhain was a great time to foretell the future. The Druids believed that the apple contained the seeds of Life and Death due to the pentacle that appears when you take an apple and splace it on its side and instead of cutting it from stem to flower, cut it through the equator... and they used the 'sacred apple' for this for a glance into the future. Today we bob for apples.

The carved pumpkin or 'Jack O' Lantern' was adapted from the old British practice of carving out turnips or other vegetables to make lanterns. Pumpkin carving has now become as essential to Halloween as mistletoe is to Christmas.

If you hold a mirror on Halloween and walk backwards down the stairs to the basement, the face that appears in the mirror will be your next lover. Please be careful if you try this at home. LOL!!! A less dangerous way of getting a glimpse of your spouse was believed to be to peel an apple in front of a candle--a lit candle.

And here is yet another one. If you walk backward into a dark room while looking into a mirror and eating an apple at the same time, you will see your future mate's face in the mirror's reflection. What can I say? At least you are not walking down steps.

Special foods and meals were often made for the souls of the dead and for deceased ancestors. In England, "soul cakes" were made for these wandering souls, and each person went 'a' soulin' for these at Halloween.

If you pare an apple all in one piece on Samhain night and allow it to fall to the ground unaided, it will spell out the initials of your future mate.

Hang an apple from a string with a coin pushed deep inside and try to bite out the coin without using your hands. Succeed, and your pockets will be full throughout the coming year.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

More October Apple Lore

Oh gosh, don't they look good. It's been years since I had a candy apple, and sadly, I probably never will have another one, but I will always have my memories. You'd never believe that I used to absolutely LOVE apples to see me now. Matter of fact, I have no recollection when I had my last one. That's how long ago it was.

But even though I am unable to munch on a nice juicy apple, they are still magically important to me. My Celtic ancestors wassailed (saluted) their apple trees with a hearty wassail made of a good hard cider which had been heated with spices and and apples which floated on top. This was to insure they had a good harvest in the coming year. The apples, once they were heated enough, would burst their skins and the white flesh frothed on top of the wassail. (Doesn't that sound good?) And, wassailing was also performed at Samhain as well as at Yule. Samhain was the original New Year on the Celtic calendar, but several of the traditions, such as wassailing, was shifted to Yuletide when their calendar was changed.

Apples also have quite a history of being used for healing. As the old saying goes, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." Apples have been especially beneficial and curing warts. Slice the apple in half and rub both halves over the wart to be cured. Then, put the two halves back together again and bury them within the earth while reciting an spell to the effect that as the apple wastes away, so will the wart.

When I lived in my other apartment where I had my magical garden (yes, a magical garden in the midst of Brooklyn, New York), I had an apple tree which was truly overwhelming to me since I hadn't had one since I was a child, we would harvest the fruits, (there wouldn't be much) and then complete the day with a meal that featured apples...such as apple sauce, apple pie, steamed apples with cinnamon.

And, before I close, one last little childhood tale to share with you. It was Halloween night, and my friends and I had been out 'trick or treating'. I had a quite a full bag of candy and other treats. I was so tired, I didn't even bother to sort the loot, but went straight off to bed with my bag of treasures. Now, there is no way a child is not going to want to taste his/her treats on Halloween night, so after mom put out my light, I got up and reached into the bag and took out a nice crunchy apple. Imagine that. Not candy, but an apple. Before the eve was done, I'd eaten 7 of them and had an upset tummy that kept me home from school for two days. The lesson learned was, "Your greed always catches up to you."

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Biddy Early

I was cleaning out some my files last night and came across the following. The story of Biddy Early has always been one of my very favorite tales, so, if you don't mind, I would like to share it here today. Biddy, a wise woman from the County Clare, was absolutely the most famous of the Irish country witches. She was well-known as a healer, and many traveled from all over the country to meet with Biddy in her cottage on Kilbarron Lake. Much of what we know of her has been passed down from oral tradition or blended into myth and folklore.

Biddy O'Conner, the daughter of a poor farming family, was born in 1798 in Kilanena, Ireland. Biddy's mom, Ellen Early was well-known for her herbal cures and taught her daughter many of her secrets. Biddy was 'different' than the other kids, and they poked fun of her. Therefore, the story goes that Biddy played with the faerie. By the time she 16, both of her parents had passed away. She was evicted from her home and wandered about the countryside with no place to hang her hat. Little is known about this part of her life, but it is said that she earned her keep as a serving girl. In 1817, she moved to Feakle where she met and married widower, Pat Malley. He died a short time thereafter.

Biddy then married his son, her stepson, John, and they lived in a little three room cottage and had a son, Paddy, who died when he was only 8 months old. This is were Biddy first began to earn a reputation for her cures. Sadly, John died in 1840, and Biddy found herself a widow once again.

Her third marriage was to a man named Tom Flannery, and the couple moved into a little cottage near Lake Kilbarron which came to be known as Biddy Early's Lake. By now, Biddy's reputation as a healer was spreading, and the road to her little home was always filled with travelers who were seeking out her help. Her cures not only involved applying herbs to a wound or a recipe for the sick, but she was also intuitive and was able to recognize and understand other people's needs.

At some point, no one knows when or how, Biddy acquired her famous 'blue bottle' which was said to be magical. By looking into the bottle, she would be able to see what ailed those who sought her assistance and even view the future...under one condition..that she would never receive any monetary for her services. She was allowed to accept gifts, however, but was instructed to give away whatever was left over from her own needs. Others were never allowed to look into the bottle.

Now, in Biddy's time, superstitions involving faeries and all things supernatural were very strong, so when something occurred that appeared to be miraclulous...and without the aid of the was usually attributed to witchcraft and the devil...and because of this, the local church viewed Biddy with a great deal of suspicion, and the priests were totally opposed to her. Furthermore, as her fame began to spread, they even tried to warn off the people from visiting her. In 1865 she was accused of witchcraft under a 1586 statute, was brought before a court in Ennis, but her case was dismissed due to lack of evidence. The few who had agreed to testify against her backed out, and many of the local people stood their ground against the clergy.

Her husband, Tom, died in 1868 and Biddy, now 70 years old, married her fourth husband, a man named Thomas Meaney, but he, too, got sick and died within the year. After his death, Biddy's health began to deteriorate, and she died in April 1874 with a rosary around her neck and her mysterious blue bottle wrapped in a shawl beside her. According to the legend, a priest who Biddy had befriended picked up the bottle and hurled it into Kilbarron Lake as per her request. Since then, many have trawled the lake in search of the bottle, but it has never been found.

I know what you are all many husbands dying...this just doesn't sound right. But, the fact is, that most of Biddy's "gifts" consisted of whiskey and other strong liquors, and because Biddy provided for everything with her healing work, it is believed that her husbands, having nothing to do, drank and died of alcohol abuse. Did Biddy really exist? Absolutely she did, but because she lived in age where most of the folk were illiterate, nothing about her was written down, so all we have are the stories of her life which were passed down by local oral traditions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

How Beautiful was that Moon!!!!

Last night as I was seated at my computer, I turned to look towards the window. If I hadn't known better, I would have thought the sun was shining. The Moon was so big, so beautiful...a powerful Moon it was. Well, it was just more than I could take. Off went my computer, and moved out into my backyard to enjoy it. Actually, I had wanted to get out there earlier, but when you live in the city...and in an area where your neighbors do not understand your pagan ways, you try to avoid anything that would cause any kind of a stir.

Our night began with a chicken stew made with plenty of harvest veggies and some cornmeal bisquits ...not homemade as my baking days are over. I always like to sip on a little apple cider, but because I was unable to find any, apple juice would have to do. Then, I waited...and I waited, and I waited some more. My neighbors out in their backyards celebrating Yom Kippur so I thought it best to wait. They were still out there in the midst of their celebration when I finally went out, but I did a really quiet and short ritual. Actually, as a solitary, there is no need for me to do any more more than that so most of my rituals are quiet...and you don't have to speak out loud to commune with the Goddess. And then, I just sat outdoors , drinking in the beauty of the sky above me, the harvest Moon shining bright and luminous. What an amazing picture it was, and I marveled at the beauty and peacefulness of nature.

And as I went back indoors and prepared for bed, I gave thanks for Nature's bounty and gifts. It sure was a wonderful day to be alive, but I have to sure wasn't easy getting up for work this morning. LOL!!! But, as I waited for my train, I looked up in the sky, and there she was...the Moon in all her glory...the gibbous Moon had come.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

The Good Olde Days

(Remember this?)

I just had to share this one with you. What an afternoon I had yesterday!!!! It took all I had to keep in control of myself. My hubbie bought me this computer Christmas, 2006. Until that time, I had an old computer from the Board of Ed, Windows 95. When you turned it on, you'd swear a car engine was revving up. Okay, on with the story. I do tend to get sidetracked, and I apologize if I leave anyone lost. So, when he bought me my new computer, everything was on there with a 30 day trial period...including the Norton Anti-Virus program. Well, I one thing I am is petrified of getting a virus and losing my computer...which means the world to me. After all, how else would I have met all you wonderful people.

So, on with the story. Just before the 30 day trial period was up in January, 2007, I purchased my Norton program and signed for the automatic renewal which meant I was renewed again in 2008. No problem. Then, in early October, 2008, I received an email advising me that my subscription was to be renewed on the 29th? Huh???? Where I come from a year is 12 months, not 9 months. That one was easy to take care of. I was able to log into my account and check my subscription dates. All is well until October 1st of this year when I receive an email from Norton that my subscription is running out. Well, because of last year I knew exactly where to go to check on my account, but guess what??? When I press Order History, nothing comes up. I know for a fact I re-ordered in January, 2009, but there is absolutely no proof of that.

Next, I called the phone number Norton gives for subscription problems. After pushing almost a dozen buttons, I hear a voice on the other end telling me that I have at least a 30 minute wait in front of me and that I should try back at another time when it is not so busy. My friends, it is 4:10 on a Saturday afternoon. I should think THAT would be one of their quieter times. Do I really want to spend 30 minutes on the phone? On my Saturday afternoon? I think not, and I do believe that is what they are hoping for. Sometimes I wonder if I did hang on to one of these phone calls, would a live person ever come on the line?

The next best thing was to contact customer support online. Well, take heed everyone. That's not much better...but in time I did manage to speak (LOL!!!) with a representative. I did not complete that transaction until 6:10 pm...with no satisfaction no less. They say that their records show that I ordered a new program in October of 2008. Now, where would the logic be in that when I already had the program? Needless to say, for some unknown reason my order history has been removed from eyes, and I am at their mercy. Why is it that these email receipts seem to disappear when you need them the most? I did manage to get the subscription renewal date extended to 12/15 which is a little less than a month early.

Oh, how I long for the days when a real live person picked up the phone when you called....when you didn't have to get lost pushing so many buttons just to find one. Isn't it ironic that in these days of modern technology, a simple issue can take you an hour or more to resolve...while back in the days it took less than 15 minutes? All this got me to thinking about the good olde days of telephones.

At 62, I am often questioned about how the world used to be when I was young. As our conversation is then rudely interrupted by the ring of the questioning parties' cell phone, it is telephone technology which comes to my mind. Oh, how I remember how excited I was when we got our first telephone. Today, we have our choices of color, shape, tone, name it, but back then? The only choice we had was a heavy black phone like the one above. Mom was so proud of her newly purchased telephone stand which had prominent easily reachable place between the kitchen and the living room. And I remember how proud I was when I went to school bragging about 'my new phone." Phone numbers then started with a word, and 50 odd years later, I can still remember our first phone number began with Justice 4.......

Now, you must remember that back in the day, not everyone had a I really didn't have that many people to call. And, of course, it took a little more time to make a call since phones all had a rotary dial; buttons hadn't come out yet. Oh, and before I go, who could forget the party line? Phone lines were shared back then, so several people had the same line, and you had a special ring that meant the incoming call was yours before answering. Sometimes when you picked up the receiver to make a call, you would hear people talking, and you had to wait your turn to make a call...but somehow, that was easier to do back in those days. Nothing was as rush, rush, rush as it is today. If you were really careful not to make noise, you could listen in on the conversations, but most of respected each other's privacy.

Yes, telephones have changed a lot, but sometimes I wonder if it's for the best. Personally, I don't care to hear someone's personal conversation as I am waiting for my train or walking down the street. And what happened to list making? One of my pet peeves is the person who does their food shopping all the while talking on the cell phone finding out what the person at home wants from the store. No, I don't have a cell phone, and I don't much want one....never did and most likely never will.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Change and Moving Forward

Autumn has always been a time of change for me...much more than spring which is more of a time of beginnings. There is something about the cool, crisp air...the leaves in their fabulous shades of gold, orange, red and brown...drifting off the trees with slightest breeze. I love everything about it...packing away summer clothes, rinsing out the fall sweators, fall cleaning, fall name it, I love it. Was I a fall baby? Actually, no, I was a spring baby...but fall is where my heart is.

Fall is also the time we become introspective...we seek to go within, to identify changes we need to make in our lives...and change is inevitable. There is no avoiding it. Just as the world changes and the seasons pass, so must our lives. However, many of us do not take well to change. I know that personally, I've not done well with change. Not while I was younger and only after a good long fight. But if age has taught me one thing it is that the most important point to make about change is that it is not what you are facing that is the problem. It is you and how you react to change that is. Had I learned this lesson a long time ago, I could avoided a lot of inner turmoil and pain in my life.

The truth is that how you react stems from how you perceive the particular change. Speaking for myself, I spent many years in a go nowhere, dreadful job because I was afraid to embrace the change of starting over elsewhere--new job responsibilities, new people, loss of my sick and vacation time...virtually starting over in my fifties...but when I finally did, I found myself shaking my head. Why hadn't I made this change sooner? Well, at 62 years of age, I am still kind of set in my ways, but I feel that now I can call myself a wise old crone... Well, maybe not totally as wise as I would like to be; there is always more out there to learn. But, here are a few things that have worked for me when faced with the fear of change.

Take some quiet time to yourself to think about how the change will effect your life, how you are going to LET it effect you. What do I have to do to get through it? In my case, I knew I had to seek out more schooling before I could make a career change so I enrolled in an online college course to get my degree. And, I am a list maker. Whenever faced with the choice of making a change, I make a list of the pros and cons. What will I gain from staying put...and what will I lose?

When stressful changes seem overwhelming, take it one day at a time. Allow yourself to take all the time you need. Meditate. Breathe deeply. Seek the support of others. And above all, love yourself. Only then will you be able to live within yourself and be at peace.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Remembering October

October. Already. It's hard to believe, isn't it? This is the time of the year I get melancholy...and more so than at Christmas. There has always been something special about this time of the year...even to a little girl. I was blessed to grow up in such a beautiful countryside....although you couldn't tell that to an 18 year old who was anxious to spread her wings. Now that I have grown old, I realize what I have missed all these years...and long to go back home. I've included some of my memories here...the memories of the little girl me...when all was at peace with the world. Please, bear in mind that I have no pictures of my childhood...only one that I received two years ago from a cousin I met online while doing my genealogy. We'd had a fire when I was about 16 years old, and all of our treasures were destroyed.

The above picture of the beautiful countryside I grew up in.

Trick or Treat. Wow!!! What an exciting time that was for a little girl. Times were different back then. I remember mom would never let me out until dark, and then we were always allowed to go by ourselves because those were the times when children were safe. Dinner was usually such a chore...and mom would make me clean my plate. Then, I would dress in my costume and nag...and nag....and nag. And mom would always say, "Ask me one more time, and your going up to bed instead." But, little girls know different so, of course, I would nag some more....until darkness finally set which meant it was time for "Trick or Treat." Me and my friends would be out for hours...going from house to house. Of course, we had to move swiftly for in those days, there was a 9:30 curfew...and once that whistle blew, everyone under 17 had to be in their homes, or they went for a ride to the police station.

When this time of the year rolls around, I think about what the children today are missing out on. It's not safe to go out after dark anymore, so by the time I arrive home from work the trick or treater's are already back in their I don't even have the joy of giving out the candy. And, with what people are putting into the candy, children nowadays basically only go to the stores. It's not safe to accept from a stranger anymore. It's just so, so sad.

Another fun part of October was the harvest. Some friends of my parents had a cornfield up in Sussex County, New Jersey, and they used to allow me to come at harvest time...and allowed me to think I was helping out. They really didn't need me, but they knew how much I loved it. When I wasn't helping with the harvest, I was getting lost in the cornfield.

Another yearly favorite. My neighbors always took us to the pumpkin farm to choose our own pumpkins for the festivities. Oh, choices, choices, choices. I wonder now where all of their patience came from. We'd spend what seems like eternity pacing back and forth, admiring the same pumpkins over and over again...until finally we were forced to make our choice. From there, pumpkin in hand, it was off the the roadstand where we'd have a grilled hot dog and a chilled root beer in a mug. Then, on to our homes where we would then proceed to mangle the poor pumpkins we'd spent the whole day searching for.

One of my fondest memories of Autumn was raking up the leaves into a huge pile, then throwing ourselves into them and spraying them all over the ground to be raked up again. Hours were spent engaging in this activity until finally our parents would come out, have us rake the leaves into a pile one more time, and then they would light them on fire. The entire neighborhood would smell of smoke.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Healing Power of Tears

I cried today...something I haven't done in such a long time, I had forgotten how just how healing tears could be. I remember back with my grandma died...about 40 odd years ago. I was a teenager at the time, and before we went to the funeral, my mom told me "Now don't you dare start crying. You'll get everybody else there going." And I still remember to this day what a struggle it was to sit there, holding in my grief...and I never understood why she wouldn't let me cry. Now, don't get me wrong. I've cried many a time since then. As a matter of fact, there was a time when I was so emotional that I would cry at the drop of a hat...but it took me a long time to feel free about it.

It is a scientific fact that tears shed in grief, anger, and hopeless contain significant toxins whereas tears shed in joy and awe do not. Now, isn't that an interesting fact? These findings show that not only do our tears have the capacity to cleanse our bodies, but also to cleanse our souls. There are times we need "a good cry"...especially when we feel that buildup of energy and intuitively know that our only release can be found in our tears. If we allow ourselves to weep, we will feel refreshed and revitalized.

When you find yourself alone with a few undisturbed minutes, gently place your hands near your heart and breathe in the words, "I love you" and "I long for your healing." And, as you take some deep breaths, give yourself permission to let the tears flow freely if they want to come. It isn't necessary to know what they are about; the important thing is to release them. For years I suffered from unresolved grief over the loss of my grandma, and it wasn't until I entered counseling myself...and was taught how to allow myself to release the grief...that I was able to get over it. I'll never forget my grandma, but I am glad that I was finally able to say my goodbye.