Friday, November 29, 2013

Friday Roundup

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow. 

 Melody Beattie 


Greetings on this Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.  I had a wonderful time yesterday. We had a great meal and I enjoyed spending some  real quality time with my sons who I rarely see.  I've been through some stressful situations this past week, but for today, I want to savor the joys of yesterday.  

Miss Minga was just as I expected.  She carried on from the time I put the turkey into the oven.  Every time I went into the kitchen I heard it.  It amazes me how she knows, although it really shouldn't.  After 21 years it is natural to know the difference between a turkey and a roast.  Well, after two servings of turkey liver, she continued to beg and feasted on bits of turkey that my sons felt compelled to feed her.  It was too funny.  She could have gone on all night if we let her, but that is another thing she knows.  When lights, candles, television, etc. go off, it's bed time, and she curls up in her respective place and goes to sleep.

 The rest of our feast, followed by.....


Did you see those shoppers and their gray Thursday shopping?  Disgusting.  Thanksgiving is family time, a time to give thanks and show gratitude, not to be pushing and shoving each other to find the best bargain.  Greed, nothing more.  Wouldn't see that when I was growing up.  We have become  so materialistic.  

In the late evening, after my sons had headed back to their respective homes, I found some quiet time for me, took out my journal, and listed  all the things I have to be grateful for this year... 


...I am grateful for my loving and supportive family-- a husband who loves me and my two amazing sons.

...I am grateful that Miss Minga was still here to celebrate another Thanksgiving with us, her 21st, and I was grateful to hear her cries as she rather impatiently awaited her Thanksgiving treat...the liver.

...I am grateful  and blessed to have such wonderful friends in my life.

... I am grateful for tradition and how it is all coming back to me. 

...I am grateful for my memories that remind me of times' long ago and those people who meant so much to me.

...I am grateful that I am no longer hungry and a home that is filled with love and warmth

...I am grateful to have blessed with strength during my times of adversity. 

...I am grateful for my guardian angel who has stepped into save me many times during my life.

...I am grateful for retirement and the joy and happiness that now comes into my life every day. 

...I am grateful for good times, laughter, and joy.

..I am grateful for the blessing that is life. 

Wishing you all a weekend filled with joy and laughter.  See you on Monday.




Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.
Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway ---
Thanksgiving comes again!

Old Rhyme

Let us cherish family
and friends throughout
this holiday season.  Wishing you all a day filled with love, laughter, and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Desiderata

On this, the morning of the eve before the holiday, I want  take a moment to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and could not think of a more perfect day to repost the following famous poem.  May the following lines act as a beacon of light for each and every one of us.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they, too, have their story. 

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others you may become vain and bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let not this blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars, and you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore, be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be; and whatever your labors and aspirations in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy!


Max Ehrmann

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tuesday Ramble




No one likes having offended another person; hence everyone feels so much better if the other person doesn't show he's been offended. Nobody likes being confronted by a wounded spaniel. Remember that. It is much easier patiently -- and tolerantly -- to avoid the person you have injured than to approach him as a friend. You need courage for that.

Ludwig Wittgenstein


 (My kitchen.  Won't be looking so neat on Thursday)

Yesterday, a very pleasant Asian  couple was assigned to sit with us at our lunch table.  We are really supposed to be switched daily, for socialization purposes, I guess, but some of us regulars have been allowed to sit at the same table every day.  At our table two seats are empty and different people sit there every day. The Asian man could speak no English and the woman spoke with a heavily broken accent.  And, as often happens, it turns out she understood more than she spoke.  

The regulars at my table include a very nice Spanish woman and a lovely older woman and her husband.  She is 84, he is 88, and it amazes me how they get around.  The energy vampire appears to have flown the coop. (Sigh of relief). I love the two women I sit with, but the husband has a  'biting' tongue at times. I don't like it, but I am used to him.  For example, one time I was running a wee bit late and said good morning, then put my things on the table,  "I'll be right back" and hurried to put in my dollar for Bingo.  As I took off I heard him say, "Don't hurry", to which the Spanish woman responded, "That wasn't nice.  She doesn't do anything to anyone."  I would like to believe it's his age, but I am inclined to believe that he has always been a miserable person. 

And generally, I have learned that someone says hurtful things to somebody else because they are  feeling insecure.  I have seen the way he is with his wife.  He is resentful of her having friends, and truth be told, he doesn't even seem to notice it. It is a sad relationship, indeed.

So, why don't I move to another table, you may ask?  Good question, and one I have asked myself as well.  I guess I might say that I am a 'creature of habit'. I was seated at table 13 on my first day at the Center and have stayed ever since. And I so love the number 13.  Besides, after that one episode, he's not said anything unkind to or about me...at least not that I heard...and I do so love the two ladies at the table. I'd hate to be put in a position of giving  up the friendly conversations we share.

Now, back to the Asian couple.  I didn't mean to veer off topic as I always seem to do, but I did want to explain a wee bit so that it wouldnt surprise you when I tell you that the man greeted them with a "They should all eat downstairs with their kind." (Most of the Asian clients stay on the second floor, not because of any discrimination, but because most of the activities they enjoy are located there.) The couple just sat there, seemingly oblivious to what he had said. I looked over at the woman, smiled, and said "Welcome".  She smiled back in return.  

I had assumed that she had not understood what he said, so you can imagine my surprise when, as we were discussing our Thanksgiving plans, she said very clearly, "We always have a turkey on Thanksgiving."  I was not only taken aback by her remark that they celebrate the holiday just as we do, but I then realized that she must have understood the husband's hurtful words. I shuddered when I remembered how badly hurtful words had made me feel. 

So, why did I remain silent, you may ask?  Why didn't I speak up?  Well, it would not have done any good, and perhaps would have made it worse. The Asian woman took his remark in stride.  For me to step in would only have caused further harm to everyone at the table.

Words can hurt or words can heal. They are powerful. When we were children one of our favorite sayings was 'Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me." So untrue, for, contrary to what the saying says,  unkind words can hurt just as much as a slap in the face and hurt so much longer. Think about the words you use because what you say does matter and words do make an impact. Take it from someone who knows.

Drop a pebble in the water: just a splash, and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Spreading, spreading from the center, flowing on out to the sea.
And there is no way of telling where the end is going to be.

Drop a pebble in the water: in a minute you forget,
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And those little waves a-flowing to a great big wave hove grown;
You've disturbed a mighty river just by dropping in a stone.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on.
The keep spreading, spreading, spreading from the center as they go,
And there is no way to stop them, once you've started them to flow.

Drop an unkind word, or careless: in a minute you forget;
But there's little waves a-flowing, and there's ripples circling yet,
And perhaps in some sad heart a mighty wave of tears you've stirred,
And disturbed a life was happy ere you dropped that unkind word.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: just a flash and it is gone;
But there's half-a-hundred ripples circling on and on and on,
Bearing hope and joy and comfort on each splashing, dashing wave
Till you wouldn't believe the volume of the one kind word you gave.

Drop a word of cheer and kindness: in a minute you forget;
But there's gladness still a-swelling, and there's joy a circling yet,
And you've rolled a wave of comfort whose sweet music can be heard
Over miles and miles of water just by dropping one kind word.

J.W. Foley
 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday This and That



“A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves.” 
Marcel Proust


Happy Monday of a holiday week...an extra happy Monday to all you workers since for many of you it means a three day week.  When I was working, the long Thanksgiving holiday was always a welcome reprieve for me, but somehow it never seemed long enough because I always so busy.  It was time to dig out the tree and ornaments, and on Thursday, I would decorate the tree and then spread out the rest of the decorations over the weekend.   This year there will be no changes except that someone will have to place and tighten the tree stand for me.  I can't do it anymore.

Brrr!!! It is cold out there this morning, and there is a part of me that would love to stay in. Broke a 1949 record yesterday.  Alas, though, there is some last minute shopping to do.  My youngest begged me to make my mint brownies, a long time tradition from when they were children, but one that I have not done in several years.  I was always so busy with work that I had no time. No excuses now.  Besides,  I love tradition. Now, if my boys would only give me some grandchildren to pass them down to.


Despite the showery day, I did do my food shopping on Friday.  I figured that being the weekend before the holiday, the supermarket will most likely be packed on Saturday...and I have a thing for crowds.  I guess one would say I experience panic attacks.  My stress level shoots sky high, I begin to sweat, and at times I have even begun to cry. So to avoid all that necessary strain on my health, I headed out in the rain. It wasn't cold and actually, it was rather comforting.  Miracles do happen, and despite the rain, Friday turned into a relatively pain-free day for me, and I thoroughly took advantage of it. 

Just when I thought that  the aura of my old neighborhood could not get any darker,  it seems that it has.  I'm sure most of you have heard of the new teenage craze, 'the knockout game'.  Well, it seems to have struck in my old neighborhood.  I was watching the news on Friday night, and almost fell out of my chair when I saw that the latest attack in Brooklyn happened right in front of the bank I have my account in.  I was just there last week. 

We live in such an increasingly frightening world over which we seem to have no control.  Not only do we see countries attacking each other, but they attack each other in their own country.  And, many of today's teens find 'fun' in attacking and hurting others for no reason other than hurting someone. They call it a game, but it is far from it.  These kids are hurting everyone from elderly people, women, and even children.  They aim for unsuspecting, weak people who they believe can be knocked out with a single sucker punch....and people are dying. This is the only thing they have to do with their lives? When I was 14/15 years old we would 'never' have thought of hurting someone for the fun of it.  The worst we did were crank phone calls or ring doorbells and run away.

What are the answers?  I don't have any. Admittedly, it is tough to defend against a sudden attack, but each of us must be cautious when we leave our homes. The whole point of this so-called game is to catch one unaware, so if they see that you are on to them, you should be fairly safe. 

It is so sad that we live in a world where one has to constantly be on guard, but it is best to border on paranoia and be safe. Take my Sunday trip to the fruit stand, for example.  An innocent little trip that I have taken so many times without fear, yet when I crossed the street and saw a couple of young men milling about, my intuition kicked in and told me to be aware, so I looked right at them as I walked along.  They had probably just innocently run into each other and having a chat, but one cannot take chances nowadays.  

Be safe, be smart. Remember...

A ship in harbor is safe -- but that is not what ships are built for.
John A. Shedd
There is more danger in taking a ship out to sea but it is still worth it. 


Friday, November 22, 2013

Friday Roundup



Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude.

E. P. Powell

Wow, another week to put in the books. Time is moving far too fast for me. I just can't keep up anymore. On Thursday Thanksgiving will be here, and I have made no plans nor bought a thing towards dinner. Unusual for me. Usually I have a shopping bag of Thanksgiving foods by now, but it is different for me this year. This year I am a retiree, and it will be the first Thanksgiving in more years that I can remember that I didn't have to rush home from work on Thanksgiving eve and rush to get a few things done.  This year I have the gift of time.  And if I should happen to forget something?  I am surrounded by stores.  

I am beside myself with glee. Hubby has finally sorted through a few bags of his clothes and took two bags to the Goodwill.  He almost backed down, but then I reminded him that that part of his life is over, and it is time for a new start.  He's such a hoarder, that man.  He's got bags of work clothes in three different sizes.  'One' was his normal size, 'two' was when he gained a ton of weight, and 'three' was for when he was on the regiment of medication for his liver and was so sick for the year.  He was like a toothpick. It broke my heart to see him that way.  His response when I bring up this fact is "what if I....gain...lose?"  My response is, "whatever, you are not going to return to work so at least get rid of your work clothes." Well, at least he made a start.

I really don't want it to sound as if I am a terrible nag.  I'm not.  In fact, he is the one who is always carrying on that there is no room for storage.  Well, he is right in that respect, but, truth be told, the reason we have no room for storage is that a huge closet and above closet built-in storage is being taken up with clothing that is never worn.  Anybody else out there with a hoarder for a hubby?  If so, I would appreciate some tips on how you handle it.

Woke up this morning planning to do some shopping, but they are forecasting rain throughout the day.  Do I want to go or what?  Doesn't matter to me, but I think of the poor delivery man who has to walk in it to deliver my groceries.   And then tomorrow is the Saturday before the holiday, and the store will be packed.  Not much choice but to go today.

So, what are my plans for this weekend? Well, the two most important things are a trip to the supermarket today and Church on Sunday.  If I am feeling better, I may have hubby dig me out the tree and decorations.  I always love to decorate it on Thanksgiving Day.  Digging it out now gives me time to replace whatever no longer works. And now, since I seem to be rambling on and saying nothing, I'll bow out now before I continue to bore you any further....

How do you plan to spend your weekend?  Have you started to decorate yet...or is it too soon for you? 

Ah! on Thanksgiving day, when from East and from West,
From North and South, come the pilgrim and guest,
When the gray-haired New Englander sees round his board
The old broken links of affection restored,
When the care-wearied man seeks his mother once more,
And the worn matron smiles where the girl smiled before.
What moistens the lips and what brightens the eye?
What calls back the past, like the rich pumpkin pie?

John Greenleaf Whittier 
Wishing you all a fabulous fun and rest-filled weekend.  See you on Monday.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Wee Bit of Thursday Whimsy

 “You must not ever stop being whimsical. And you must not, ever, give anyone else the responsibility for your life.”

 Mary Oliver, Wild Geese 

Whimsy has always been a part of my life.  I refuse to grow up.  In fact, my house is cluttered with whimsical characters, and  I am forever finding little items of whimsy to add to my menagerie.  Since today I seem to be undergoing a wee bit of writer's block, I figured it would be a great time to introduce you to some of my new friends...

Freddie the Frog

It is better for a girl to sleep a hundred years and be kissed and awakened by the right prince than to stay awake and be kissed a hundred times by the wrong frog.
Unknown 
Myrtle the Turtle 

Try to be like the turtle - at ease in your own shell. 
Bill Copeland 

 
Wherever they may have come from, and wherever they may have gone, unicorns live inside the true believer's heart. Which means that as long as we can dream, there will be unicorns.
Bruce Coville



This is Millie and Marty Mouse.

A mouse never entrusts his life to only one hole. 
Plautus
 
Petunia and Peter Pig

 I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.
Winston Churchill


I found all these items in the thrift shop at the Center.  Best part of all was that they only cost me $3.  I enjoy checking out the shop at least once a week.  Never know when I will find a real treasure.

Have a great Tuesday everyone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wednesday Blessing

May the sun
bring you new energy by day.
May the moon
softly restore you by night.
May the rain
wash away your worries.
May the breeze
blow new strength into your being.
May you walk gently through the world
and know its beauty all the days of your life. 

Apache blessing


Wishing you all a fantastic 'hump day'.  

"Hump Day." I love that commercial, but do have to confess, it did take me awhile to get what it meant.  Some things my brain picks up on right away; others my brain is slow in registering.  However, in my defense, I was always so busy paying attention to the camel that I neglected to pay attention to what he was saying.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Rant...Sorry, Just Have to Get it Off My Chest

Tens of billions of dollars could be saved in Medicare and Medicaid alone by eliminate fraud and improving patient care. Not only would this save money, but it will save lives.

 Tim Murphy

It has been quite awhile since I posted a rant so I guess the time must be right. I am still in the up-in-the air stage of choosing a secondary health plan, and no one seems to care.  The social worker at the program had assured me that when it came around the time to sign up, I would be bombarded with information.  I've received nothing.  Even Emblem, my old work plan, has forsaken me. I was used to them and really wanted to stick with them if possible.  A worker was scheduled to meet with me in my home; she never showed.  When I called the company to complain, they offered to send me information.  That was a few weeks ago.  I am still waiting.

I did manage to get my medications at quite a discount by joining the Pathmark Prescription plan.  With that and Medicare I 'should' be okay, but I got to thinking,  what about dental?  It was dental that drained me of my entire savings several years ago.  And while I do understand that whatever dental plan I may get with my secondary insurance will only cover some of the bill, anything is better than nothing.  Besides, I do have medical issues that must be taken care of.  I have to get something, but I am so confused.  Medicare already takes money out of my limited income; a secondary plan will take more.  I can't leave myself broke.  And with Obamacare, who knows what I can expect?

I shouldn't have to be faced with these decisions.  I shouldn't have to chose between an occasional movie or a trip to Atlantic City or health care. Granted, yes, had I not been so frivolous when I was young, I might have a savings, but it seems every time I tried, something came up--school, dental, my ex draining my account as well leaving me thousands of dollars in debt, etch. And this past year, with hubby not working and denied social security, everything has fallen on my shoulders...and once I retired, I ended up laying out more than I was bringing in.  

I held my first job while in high school.  I was 15 years old and worked after school and on Saturdays in a diner in my neighborhood.  My only day off was on Sunday, and that was only because back in those days, most businesses were closed on Sunday. And ever since that time, I have been working. I worked when I was pregnant and worked when I went to school.  In all, I worked 51 years. And now this is what I reap from it.  This is my reward. 

I think what really gets to me is that some seem to be rewarded for 'never' working.  Yes, I do understand that there are those who are too sick--physically or mentally--to hold down a job, and this is not geared towards them in any way.  My rant is directed towards those who simply chose not to work.  In fact, I have worked with hundreds of clients and I would venture a guess that only ten percent had ever held down a job. I am not going to point out all the other benefits they receive, but their Medicaid is the best insurance in town...and they get it for free.

Perhaps if the system didn't make it so easy for them they might be inspired to hold a job.  I'll use my employers as an example...as well as their funding sources.   The run a number of shelters and housing for the homeless.  Everyone in the shelter must apply for social security, and there are workers there that make that happen.  So, a 26 year old drug dealer who never held a job is eligible for SSI, but my husband was not.  And along with their social security comes free medical insurance which many of them find a way to abuse.  What happens is that clients get 'so much' for free they see no reason why they should go out and work.

Meanwhile, here I was, 66 years old, struggling to make it to work every day, sometimes in so much pain that tears would literally spring from my eyes....and money was taken from  my check to help support these young, healthy men.  I took it for as long as I could, and then my body really began to break down, and I couldn't work any longer. So now, here I am.  Lost.  Afraid of the future.  I know many of you have offered your advice and assistance and for that I am forever grateful.  But, I am such a dunce when it comes to all this, and time is really growing short. All I want is a plan that will not eat up much more of my money, but will take care of my needs. They all promise that, but we all no about broken promises in health care, don't we?  

Traditionally, Medicare's assurance has been that for the elderly and persons with disabilities that they will not be alone when confronted with the full burden of their health care costs.


Mike Fitzpatrick 

So, why do I feel so alone?  We have paid our dues.  It should be easier on us.

Thank you for listening. Didn't mean to put a damper on your day.



Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday This and That

Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.

John Ruskin 

My Building According to Season
 
(Mid-September)
(End of October)
(Yesterday)

Happy Monday, everyone. Hope you all had a great weekend. I know I did. Got everything accomplished that needed to be done and still had plenty of time for reading and looking online for some Christmas ideas.  It's kind of stormy outside this morning, so I've decided this would be a great day to play a little hooky and extend the weekend a bit. It's not that I don't like rain.  I actually love rainy days.  I guess I am just aching for a day to stay in.

I had to go back to my old neighborhood on Friday...and talk about a ghost town.  There is nothing there anymore. What once was a lively neighborhood appears to be decaying like some of the old neighborhoods of Brooklyn. And while those old decaying neighborhoods are being rebuilt, my once thriving neighborhood appears to be falling by the wayside with its row of vacant, boarded up stores   Not that my old neighborhood is turning into a slum, by any means.  In fact, it is actually undergoing its own transition  as a new ethnic group continues it's takeover, but that is the story of Brooklyn. It is a borough of change.  

Had quite a fiasco here on Saturday.  On Friday evening the new super came to put in a new fire and carbon monoxide alarm.  That's good.  My bedroom is in the back of the apartment, and it makes me feel safer knowing there is a warning system in the front.  However, the alarm seems to be a wee bit too sensitive.  Saturday afternoon I decided to sage my house.  Big mistake.  Not only did that dreadful high-pitched beep start going off, but the darned thing started yelling, "Fire, fire, fire",  and wouldn't stop.  I have 14 foot ceilings, and it is far too high for me to reach so I began beating it with a broom.  No luck.  I opened all the windows wide.  I opened the door.  I called for the super, but he wasn't around.  It went on and on and on.  I was sure the fire department was going to pull up any moment.  Eventually, it did stop, but not before it had all the neighbors popping their heads out.

Something I discovered this weekend made me feel very sad, but then I realized that I have to stop taking things so personally. Blog friends come and go, and I have several friends who no longer post on their blogs, but we are still friends and are there for each other even though we are not in regular contact.  But, this person just totally cut me out of her life.

I had begun following a blog in the early days of my blogging, and she began following mine.  Then, one day she stopped blogging.  I emailed her to check on her health because she was up in years, but she never responded.  Worried now, I emailed again.  No response. It was then that I saw that she had removed her name from my list of followers.  I really didn't think much of it.  After all, some people do choose to follow anonymously. We were friends, weren't we?  Then, on Sunday I accidentally discovered that she had gone back to publishing her 'old' blog and that it was only for those who had been invited...and I wasn't one of them.

Immediately I began racking my brain trying to figure out what "I" had done to sabotage our friendship.  I must have said something.  I even went back to her last post and my comment.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  In fact, my comment was very warm and friendly.  I just couldn't get it out of my mind.  Later it hit me that just because someone isn't happy with me doesn't mean that I have done something wrong. In fact, self-blame is a pattern that has been with me since childhood.  Some people blame others for everything that goes wrong; I blame myself. And just when you think you have it under control, it rears its ugly head again.

Needless to say, not inviting me to participate in her blog was not about me; it was about her and what she seeks in a friendship, and, the truth be told, we really did have little in common. We meet many different people as we pass through life.  Some are like 'ships in the night'.  We meet for a short time, share a few words, and then they move on and continue on their way.  And none of it has anything to do with us.  It's just something that was meant to be.
me
Dear to us are those who love us, the swift moments we spend with them are a compensation for a great deal of misery; they enlarge our life; but dearer are those who reject us as unworthy, for they add another life: they build a heaven before us, whereof we had not dreamed, and thereby supply to us new powers out of the recesses of the spirit, and urge us to new and unattempted performances.''  

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, November 15, 2013

Friday Roundup

"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time."

Sir John Lubbock

(Purchased at the Thrift Shop in the Center for 25 cents)

As another Friday rolls around, I find myself wondering what to do this weekend.  Today is my day to run my  errands, and so far I have  nothing on the agenda for the weekend.  It's kind of nice to be able to say that.  When I was working, I rarely had a free weekend.  I know I have said this before, but I love having time to do the things I could never do, but, the there is one thing I can say...when I was working, I was able to keep track of time because...

...boy, did I lose track of time this week!  The Monday holiday really threw me off.  I publish a blog for us 'oldsters', and Monday always starts out with  joke.  Well, seems like this week I had two Mondays.  None of my dear readers mentioned it so perhaps no one took notice...or perhaps they thought I had really lost it and were just being kind.  

We had our first 'real' touch of winter this week.  I absolutely love the cold. It is invigorating.  Opens up my sinuses.   On Wednesday we even have some snow, and even though it didn't stick, I absolutely loved waiting for the bus with the snowflakes swirling all about.  Oh, how I love the winter months!!!

Speaking of the cold....last night my house was smelling like Christmas.  I was checking out a Christmas candle.  I love Yankee Candle, but all the store in my area carries are the summer scents, and I just cannot afford to be placing orders for candles despite their sales.   So, in Pathmark I found another brand, Village Candle which smells just as good. As a test, I bought a Balsam Fir scented candle, and you would swear I had a tree in my room.

Chalk up an accomplishment for this week. I finally think I talked hubby into getting rid of a few things.  It wasn't easy.  I've been after him for months...for years, actually.  The other day he was complaining about lack of closet space, and I once again pointed out that there is no need for him to hang onto all his work clothes and finally got him to see that he would NOT be returning to work again.  Somehow this time I was able to get my point across, and he agreed.  Of course, I am not going to count my chickens yet. Agreeing on something and actually doing it are two very different animals.  

Well, that is about it for this week's roundup. My life is not very exciting, but I love it and would not change a thing.  And so, with another week under our belt....

I wish you all a weekend filled with laughter and joy.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Monthly Book Review



I just completed reading the most wonderful book. Since the book's title and cover instill a feeling of a quiet homespun Christmas, I'd planned to read it closer to the holiday, but I just could not wait any longer, and was so glad I decided not to wait. It turned out to be the perfect companion for this time of the year.


"The Old Magic of Christmas: Yuletide Traditions for the Darkest Days of the Year" by Linda Raedisch is not only filled with great old myths and legends from the past--tales of witches, elves, ghosts, fairies, and household sprites-- but the author has also included some great recipes and crafts, including easy to do directions, for the holiday season. Within its cover we are treated to tales of characters such as St. Nicholas, Frau Holle, and Berchta as well. Indeed, this book offers the reader a fascinating journey back in time, to a time that our European ancestors gathered around the hearth  on those cold, dark winter nights and told stories of the gods/goddesses, creatures, and folk magic practices that our Pagan and early Christian ancestors believed in. There is also the added benefit of a complete

According to the book description....

'Not so very long ago, Yuletide was as much a chilling season of ghosts and witches as it was a festival of goodwill. In The Old Magic of Christmas, you’ll rub elbows with veiled spirits, learn the true perils of elves, and discover a bestiary of enchanted creatures. Rife with the more frightful characters from folklore and the season’s most petulant ghosts, this book takes you on a spooky sleigh ride from the silvered firs of a winter forest to the mirrored halls of the Snow Queen. Along the way, you’ll discover how to bring the festivities into your home with cookie recipes and craft instructions, as well as tips for delving more deeply into your relationship with the unseen.'

I turned  the lights out, lit a few candles, settled in my chair with Miss Minga at my feet, and my trusty Kindle White.  Couldn't stop reading.  By the way, this is the same author was the same who wrote "Night of the Witches," another totally awesome book.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Be Careful What You Wish For


It is great to have friends when one is young, but indeed it is still more
so when you are getting old. When we are young, friends are, like
everything else, a matter of course. In the old days we know
what it means to have them.

Edvard Grieg


I've not had a best friend since just before I entered high school.  Her name was Kathy Anderson, and she'd been my friend since I was five.  (Maybe I keep mentioning her name in the hopes that she may one day read my blog). But, she and her family moved away, and although we did try to keep in touch for awhile, we eventually both moved onto our own separate paths.  Since that time, I've had acquaintances, but no 'best friend'. Then since I read 'Soul Sisters' by Pythia Peay and I've been wanting a friend ever since--someone to fill that purpose, someone I  can sit have coffee with, laugh with, cry with, share secrets, and basically just pal around with. Actually, she doesn't even have to be a 'best friend'.  I just want a friend. I've spent too many years of working with no time for socialization.  Today I want more.

Then, when I retired I began attending the Senior Center I began meeting so many wonderful people, but I didn't find any that I felt I could build that special relationship with. At work, I was always the elder of the group, the Crone, so to speak, who had nothing in common with her co-workers because they were, at a  minimum, were 20 years younger than me, a generation, and we really had nothing in common. Now   the tides have turned. In fact, today I have become the baby of the group. Most of the people at the Center are at least 20 years older than me. Again, another generation stands between us. So, while we may have a great time together at the Center, after it is over, we each go our separate ways.

So, when the new woman was seated at our table during lunch, I thought I may finally have found that friend I had been searching for.  Maybe not a best friend, but someone I could pal around with, someone I could do things with. On the first day it went well.  We just chatted about our lives and learned that we had much in common.  We were close in age (she is 64), have the same degree in Criminal Justice, and  had similar careers before we retired. Afterwards, she walked me to the bus stop and invited me to visit her when I had time.  I went home beaming, happy to have finally found a friend.  But, sadly, all that was to be short-lived.

Turns out that we both have similar ailments as well and that it was our health issues that drove us to retire.  And we both live our lives in severe pain...and that is where the difference between us lies.  I never mention mine, not even to you, but that is all she talks about. She talks about it before Bingo, during Bingo, and after Bingo.  She talks about between every mouthful at lunch.  She follows me to whatever groups I attend and monopolizes the whole group talking about her issues.  Why, she even followed me shopping last week.

If not talking about health, she is rambling on and on about what a great worker she was, how important she was on her job, her husband's health, etc.  She doesn't want to hear what you have to say.  No, it is  all about her.  It has gotten to the point where  I breath a sigh of relief when she doesn't come to the Center.  Yesterday, I played a game on my phone before Bingo and totally ignored her at lunch.  She didn't even seem to notice because she was so busy 'yapping' to the next person about all her woes.  I couldn't help but chuckle when I heard the other woman rather impatiently say "At our age, we all have pain.  We just have to learn to deal with it." And still she went on. She just didn't get it. And, of course, her pain is worse than anyone else.

I find that now I must admit that I have drawn another energy vampire into my life.  She takes way more than she gives. (Sigh) These vampires seem to find me wherever I go.  Why me?  Why do I draw them to me?  Is it my aura? Do they sense that I am an empath? I have to stop letting my shield down, but I thought I was safe. After all, I'd left all the negativity at the office, hadn't I?  I guess I was wrong. Now it is time to back off without without hurting feelings if possible, but I cannot let her take away the joy that I find when I go to the Center. I guess you can say I took the first step by ignoring her and playing my game.  Perhaps she took the hint.  Perhaps not.  Tune in for further results.

Surround yourself with positive people, there are too many energy vampires out there, all to happy to steal your shine.

Unknown 
  she talked about her aches and pains before bingo during bingo and after bingo shygirl talked about it during lunch.
  I understand that at 63 hard for her to deal with this. gosh knows I've been through it myself.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Tuesday This and That

Usually this is a Monday post, but seeing that yesterday was Veteran's Day, I saved it for today.  Veteran's Day was a very solemn and quiet time for me as I honored my veteran ancestors in my own way.  Each year I light a candle and go online to 'Find a Grave' visiting each of my ancestors who fought to keep me free.  This year I placed little flags on their graves and spent time visiting with each one.

Every once in awhile something happens that makes me become aware of the role 'time' plays in my life, and that although it appears to be moving quickly now that I have entered my Cronehood, that doesn't mean that I should be moving quickly as well.    For example, I never go to the Center on a Friday.  Not only do they  always serve fish (Yuk) , but I also need at least  one day a week to run my  errands.  This past Friday was for food shopping, and even though l shop for about two to three weeks at a time,  I no longer cook it all in one day. 

So, getting back on track, here I am in the kitchen rinsing my cup, and I glance at the clock.  7:40 am.  It's getting late.  I have to get a move on.  Have to get this done.  Buy, why, I then ask  myself?  I am not working anymore, so it is not like I have to come home and cook it all up like I used to.  Today my time is mine. I am free to do whatever I  choose and when I choose.  But those nagging habits from my working days continue to haunt me.  I NEVER leave the house in the afternoon.  If I haven't gone in the morning, I don't go at all.  And that all stems from my work days when everything I did had to be at a set time.  

That is perhaps one of the reasons I gave up keeping 'to-do' lists. I allowed myself to become so overly depended on them that there was no room for unexpected occurrences.  I think the last time I kept a list, aside from a Christmas list or a shopping list, was a list of things to do for my son's birthday party.  I'd planned a huge shindig for him and was in the midst of cooking when one of the pipes under the kitchen sink burst, and I had to have the plumber come on an emergency basis.  The ziti was done and in the oven, the salad prepared, and the house pretty well in order.  Basically all that was left was putting together the cold cut platter and putting the icing on the cake.  But, I my list had been thrown off by the plumbing incident that I could no longer function.  It was then and there that I realized that, although they were good for some, lists were not for me.  Now if only I could rid myself of  this drive to rush, rush, rush, and get everything done. 'Superwoman' I am not...at least not anymore.  

This weekend when I was filling out the application to retire my OASAS credential, I became overly emotional.  Before I knew it, the tears were flowing freely.  It's not that I am unhappy with retirement, but filling out that form was visual proof that that part of my life was over.  I recalled  how proud I was the day I discovered I had passed my exam. I literally screamed in my office, and everyone came running thinking something had happened. I'd worked so hard for it--working until 5 pm, getting to class by 6 pm, heading home at 8pm, grabbing a quick bite, homework, then sleep to start all over again early the next day. Those were such trying times for me, but when you want something bad enough, you are willing to sacrifice for it. And now, here I am, almost 20 years later, taking that last step needed to close off that part of my life forever. In return, my credential will be stamped “Retired in Good Standing.”

Now I am no longer just seeing the spirits as they move through my home; I am now smelling them as well.  It's been a little over a week now, and it always happens in the evening.  I'm sitting in my chair reading or watching a favorite show on television when suddenly I am overwhelmed by a strong, sweet perfume smell.  I'd immediately ask hubby what he had sprayed, and his response was 'nothing'.  I've even gone to investigate myself (just in case he is putting me on) but no, there is no scent of it in the back of the house.  In fact, the scent only hovers near me in the living room.  

On the same note, on several occasions in recent times I have, to put it bluntly, been overwhelmed by the scent that someone had just 'passed gas'.  And, just as with the cologne, I searched the house to investigate.  Nope, it wasn't hubby.  Not Miss Minga either.  I do recall that grandma was always passing gas.  She couldn't help it.  Makes me wonder, but much as I would love making contact, it would be nice if she found another way to make her presence known.

I have been feeling that the walls between realms have been thinning for awhile now...and not just for Samhain.  It started for me some months ago when I stopped seeing  shadows out of the corner of my eye that disappeared when I looked and began seeing a full female apparition moving about. Hard to know at this point whether or not this is an ancestor trying to reach out or the spirit of someone who lived in this building who passed on.  No matter what or who it is, I am finding it very  exciting that my senses really appear to be awakening.

Can you feel it?  Can you see it happening? I'd love to know.











Monday, November 11, 2013

We Remember

 "We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." 

Cynthia Ozick

Thank you for your service.


In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.


We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

-Lt. Col. John McCrae- 

An American, Moira Michael, received inspiration from  "In Flanders’ Fields" and penned this reply entitled "We Shall Keep the Faith":
 
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.

We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.

And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
In Flanders Fields we fought
(These poems bring tears to my eyes every time I read them.)  

Friday, November 8, 2013

It's Friday

Weekends are a bit like rainbows; they look good from a distance but disappear when you get up close to them. 

John Shirley

As another Friday rolls around, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fantastic, fun-filled weekend. See you all on Monday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

My DNA Results Are In

We all grow up with the weight of history on us. Our ancestors dwell in the attics of our brains as they do in the spiraling chains of knowledge hidden in every cell of our bodies.

Shirley Abbott

Old Settler's Graveyard in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Many of my ancestors are buried here.

Received the results of my DNA testing yesterday, and I have to say there is a tiniest part of me that is  a wee bit disappointed. Not that the test wasn't worth it. Indeed, it actually confirmed that all the work I have done on my family tree is correct. I'd always been quite sure of my Celtic background, but I have to admit that I was surprised that Ireland is such a small part of DNA. Of course, that all fits. In actuality, many of my paternal and maternal ancestors are from Great Britain, while only my paternal great grandmother and her ancestors are from Ireland. 

I guess I was hoping for something that would 'blow' my mind, something totally unexpected. Alas, it wasn't there. One thing I am definitely excited about is that they identified several distant cousins whom I have already sent an email out to.  This may help me to identify family members who are lost...brick walls as we say in genealogy. 

Europe 100%
    ...Great Britain 45% (primarily located in England, Scotland, and Wales)

    ...Europe West  37% (includes Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein) Can also be Celtic as well as Germanic. So this also covers my ancestors from my maternal grandfather's side, as well as my early Dutch ancestors, including my 9th grandmother Margaret Stuyvesant,  who settled in New York, then called New Amsterdam, and the Elizabethtown colony in New Jersey.

    ...Ireland  11%  (Somehow I thought this would be much higher)

  ...Iberian Peninsula 4% (primarily found in: Spain and Portugal) Well, they say there is a lot of genetic similarity between Irish and Spanish people. It is believed that the ancient Celtic explored these regions a long time ago between 600 and 100 B.C. 

  ...Europe East 1 % ( primarily located in Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Ukraine, etc.) Not enough DNA to really count.

  ...Scandinavia 1%  Finnish/Northern Russia 1%  (Both are less than one percent.  Not even worth counting.  Guess there goes my Viking heritage, huh?) Oh well, my German ancestors can account for my interest in heathenism.

Amazing facts.  Every time I see that Ancestry.com commercial on television where the woman said, "I was lost, but then I saw you coming home" I am reminded that just  a few short years ago that was me.  I didn't have any idea who I was. An only child, my mom and dad had passed, and I'd never met any of my father's family.  My mom's family was so small that when my grandparents passed away, all contact was lost. I felt so alone in this world.  Now I not only have an amazing family tree, but I have also chatted with cousins I never knew existed.  And, through my maternal mtDNA I have learned of Ursula, my first mother who lived about 60,000 years ago. Indeed, I am no longer alone.

*Your maternal DNA results are relevant all along your maternal lineage and apply all the way down the line.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Shall we compare our hearts to a garden —
with beautiful blooms, straggling weeds,
swooping birds and sunshine, rain —
and most importantly, seeds.

Terri Guillemets

It is a  little late in the season, I know, but I have talked so much about my magical garden that when I came upon a few pictures, I tried something new.  Before I ended up misplacing them again, I took a picture of the picture, and it worked.
 My tomato plants can be seen in rear.    In the middle I had planted my cabbage, kale,  and eggplants.  Beyond that and not pictured was my herb garden--mint, basil, oregano, and parsley.
My cucumber plants, a wee bit of the kale, and a partial view  of my herb garden. Aside from the cucumbers, morning glories also cover the fence. They were so beautiful at dawn when they were decked out with all their glory.
That's me admiring my watermelon plant.  One evening at dusk I sat outdoors eating a slice of watermelon to cool off and  dropped a few pits Before we knew it, they had taken off.  It was such a magical place.  (This was me in 1994) How dark my hair was!
Summer was about to close, and the plants were growing yellow and thin. This is one of my eggplants. I had many that grew much larger.  If only I could find those pictures.
This is that famous sunflower I've mentioned so often.  Note that the window it reaches up to is the second floor of my house.
My mother-in-law planted this bush the first summer after our move.  She said it is a 'spirit plant' which will keep evil spirits from our property. I don't know the name of the plant, but it sure took off and grew like wildfire.  One of my pepper plants sits nearby.  

This garden was a part of our first apartment, a three-room basement apartment, and to get to our little haven, one had to go down a long flight of stairs.  It wasn't much, but I loved it.  I was devastated when the landlord came and told us he had sold the house, and hoped against hope, that the new owners would ask us to stay, but they had plans for the apartment, and we had to go.  I cried when I said good-bye to my magical place, but I have so many fond and beautiful memories...

My precious little Twinkie was born there.  She was Miss Minga's daughter.  She chose not to come with us when we moved so she ran away.  We tried going back for her several times, but it just wasn't meant to be.  Twinkie had often disappeared for days and would return well fed and groomed so I know someone else in the neighborhood must have loved her as much as I did. I comfort myself with that thought.

We were living  there during the blizzard of '96.  I remember rising in the morning and opening the back door for my kitties to go relieve themselves.  The wind had blown all the snow against our door, and it was over my head.  Needless to say, neither kitty was going to try it.  Thankfully I had some litter in the house to use for ice, so I poured some in an aluminum baking pan, and that was their potty for a week.

My mother-in-law, bless her soul, used to take dried beans and toss them about the garden.  As soon as hubby and I saw their shoots start to bud, we pulled them up.  She never could understand why everything but her beans grew, but we were afraid they would take over and strangle off all our other plants.  Today when I think about it I feel a little guilty and wish I had given her her own little plot of land, but there really was no room.  In the far back of the yard was the strawberry patch and the apple tree. And just in front of that we had planted the  different kinds of lettuces, the watermelon, and the honeydew. 

There were cookouts, good neighbors, laughter, and love.  We celebrated our first Christmas together in that apartment. That was the year that my sister-in-law became foster parent to a young boy with AIDS, and we made that holiday so special for him.   But mostly I remember my quiet evenings in my magical garden when it seemed as if I had been whisked off into another place and time. Quiet times, surrounded my quietude and darkness. Lightning bugs flashing, or were they fairies?  The only sound was the crickets.  The racoons knew enough to stay away.  They knew that was a magical place and should not be disturbed.

It is hard to believe that so much time has passed since we left that place, and, in all honesty, I'd move right back in if given the opportunity. I know that will never happen, and even if it did, it would never be the same. I have changed; my body has changed.  I could no longer tend to that yard as I once did. My body won't allow it.  That was  a part of my life that is over now. It was a stage of my life, a time of joy, and  I will forever have my memories. 

It is good to be alone in a garden at dawn or dark so that all its shy presences may haunt you and possess you in a reverie of suspended thought. 

James Douglas