Dec 20, 2014

BB is just singing in the rain (sorta)



(Click to biggify so you can get the full effect of his gorgeous eyes)

Dec 1, 2014

Winged Windows

I've been saving these photos since last week and I am so excited to show you.

We have 18 feet of window across our livingroom/dining room - window wall. We also have a lot of trees hence we have a lot of birds and occasionally they bump into the window. It's a little scary - bird coming right atcha' and then thump.

Last week I noticed a rather large smudge and figured the window washers, who had been here recently, did a piss poor job again. When I looked at it close up I was amazed. The 'smudge' was the outline of feathers!

Here is an original pic, just ever so slightly enhanced - note in the upper right corner there is some feather 'smudge' as well...

Then I enhanced the photos a bit more using lots of contrast and I think they are flipping amazing...


If you click on a photo it will biggify and you can see more details. Isn't this wild?

Nov 19, 2014

Sometimes you find a bit of wisdom in the most innocuous place

From the television show "Bones" -

THIS:

Aubrey: "How did you get over it?"
Brennan: "I didn't."
Aubrey: "So this isn't a comforting talk."
Brennan: "No. The pain is always there; the challenge is to not try to make it go away."
Aubrey: "Really not comforting."
Brennan: "Fighting it is the problem. We fight to try and change the past or push it away, but the pain is part of who we are. It's not easy, Aubrey. Nothing of value is."

And some of you will get that, and some won't. 

Nov 12, 2014

Change

Not something I liked when I was young. I always stayed too long - places, jobs, relationships. It was a matter of the devil I knew. It was about being afraid of the unknown. Afraid of success and afraid of failure. Afraid of mistakes. I do not know how I lived that way for so long. Dreadful.

When I did make a change, especially a BIG one, an irrevocable change, it was after much thought - 3 years of thought in one case; 4 in another. A friend said "How can you make snap decisions like that?" He didn't know that snap decision was so many years in the making.
 
I started to change that about 30 years ago - big changes, small changes, important ones and frivolous ones. Often change for the sake of change. New, even when the old was just fine. Yes, I still thought out the big ones  - but not for so long. Some decisions seemed snap-like but once I decided it must be done then it was DONE.

Four miserable years living in Philadelphia - once I decided I was going, we made plans to go. Well thought out plans that were put into immediate action. It was easy. Moving there in the first place, not so well thought out, of course it wasn't my idea in the first place - but, water under the bridge.

I'm a planner, always have been. It's easier to do that now with the wonders of the interwebz. I've got lists; I'm ready to roll. I still drag my feet a bit. It took me 2 years to do the up-dates on this apartment. But it took me only 3 months to decide to get new dining table chairs. And once decided they were ordered the next day (and I'm still waiting for them, six week delivery is going into it's eighth week.) And these are just little things, I'm prepped for the big ones.

On the one hand, I think I have a future. On the other hand, I know all I have is a past and I'm just treading water. The only real plans for the future should be (and are) for comfortable maintenance.

Yet, I crave change. It's not so much that there is bigger and better out there, it's just that there IS an out there.  I have to be content with smaller and safer. I don't like small and safe, not anymore I don't. But there is that practical planner me off-setting the new and improved(?) go-for-it gal.

So, little changes - better than no changes at all.


Nov 11, 2014

Try to remember...


Today is Veteran's Day and there are many postings about it. Vanilla referenced the art installation at the Tower of London - thousands of ceramic poppies - one for each fallen British Commonwealth soldier of WWI.  Of course that led my mind to In Flanders Field by John McCrae.

We had to memorize that poem in school. In fact throughout the lower grades we had to memorize a poem a week and each week several students were required to recite it in class. It was a teaching tool on several levels - train the brain, literature, public speaking, and in the case of "In Flanders Field", history.  All of that rolled into memorizing and reciting a poem.

Of course that is no longer done - waste of time. Have to teach to the test and then test. No time for education. (Okay, do NOT get me started, my head will explode. Some states have so many required tests that 60-80 out of 180 school days are used for testing. Ow, ow, ow - my head!)

My way of thinking is such that everything is a reference to something else - that something else being a bit of flotsam and jetsam that crossed my path. The problem is often I can't remember the original source. A line from a poem haunted me for years. Could not remember the exact poem. I swore it had to be Wilfred Owens, Rupert Booke or Sigfried Sassoon. I could have sworn it was a war poem. I spent decades - DECADES - trying to track that poem. Part of the problem was my mis-remembering the line. I had one extra word in it. I googled my little fingers off - nothing. I finally came up with a search term that elicited the answer - William Blake. William Blake? Yup, a poem called "London".

This morning I once again tried to recall the name of that poem. I remembered it was Blake - and I remembered I first read it in my Norton Anthology Vol. II - thankfully that old college textbook is still on my shelf. Easy to find when you know what you are looking for.

Sometimes I recite poetry in my head as I do mundane tasks - because I like poetry, because I can, because it is soothing, because it reminds me of something or other that pleased me then. Because it is probably a good thing to do to keep the little grey cells functioning.

Song lyrics are poetry - I know a gabillion of those. I suppose if young people today memorize song lyrics then that is somewhat analogous to memorizing poetry - tho I really don't think today's lyricists compare with even - oh, hell they don't compare favorably to anyone with a brain and reasonably decent language skills. 

Ouch, ouch - I am doing 'in the old days'...Okay, I'll go quietly to the home now.

Oct 8, 2014

Pumpkin Madness - None for me thanks

A few years ago I ordered some tea as a gift for a friend and since then every month I receive the latest catalog and a free sample from The Republic of Tea.  Tea is a benign substance that appears happy to accommodate every odd fruit, vegetable, herb and flavor known to man.  In all the months of free samples I have yet to encounter one that is just tea. I must admit to some guilt in this area because my tea of choice is Earl Grey, which is black tea infused with oil of bergamot.  And no, despite all the health advisos, I do not drink green tea because it tastes like something you should not be drinking...nuff said.

October, the grandest of all the months of the year, not least because it is my birth month, seems to have been designated 'pumpkin month' resulting in every conceivable food being infused and combined with pumpkin or its flavor, natural and not.

This month's tea sample was pumpkin spice and I thought I'd give it a whirl, or rather a steep. What a waste of good water.  I tried to like it. I tried to drink it. I was unsuccessful on both counts.

Then there is that bastion of bad coffee, whose beverage offerings can only be compared to Jim Jones' kool-aid. They seem to have a count-down to the day you can obtain their pumpkin flavored potions.

Scroll around the interwebz this month and you will discover that pumpkin and its perceived flavor has been added to anything and everything even remotely edible, drinkable and smellable.

I like pumpkins. Cunningly carved or prettily painted. They are cute. They are festive. They are fun. But aside from pie - Stop the pumpkin madness.

Oct 3, 2014

Silly Stuff



I've never quite understood what they mean when they say "Live each day as if it is your last" I would like to spend the last day of my life stuffing my face with jelly donuts and having hot jungle monkey sex.  The last day of my life will probably be spent in a hospital bed, pooping in a diaper and gasping for breath.  Truth to tell I'd rather not spend each day doing either of those things...enticing as the first may seem.

My husband has an insanely high IQ. He is a high school drop-out (the high school he dropped out of was Boston Latin and he left because he was bored) who took the LSAT on a whim, studied for it by reading through the study guide they provide, while on a bus from Burlington VT to Boston, MA, made it to the test site barely on time and then scored in the 98th percentile.   On the other hand he needs detailed instructions on how to boil water.

One of the side effects of anti-depressants is suicidal thoughts.  At least you will die happy.

It seems silly to me but here I am, almost 68, somewhat of a gimp, living pretty much as a recluse and I have never been happier in my whole life. Joy is an every day thing in my world.

Oct 1, 2014

Oh for craps sake...

I was reading Vanilla's post about how he finds certain plants a bit off putting. It started me thinking about my own relationships with flowers and plants, likes and dislikes and how I got this way. Which of course led to my mother, and I was thinking of writing about her preferences and whether mine, which mirror hers, are just part of shared DNA or whether they were acquired through osmosis.

I don't spend a lot of time thinking about my mother - she was/is not a nice person. Whether she was born that way or her life made her that way, I do not know. I don't think she had a very nice or happy life and she seemed to want to pass that on. She certainly made my life a misery even after I walked out of hers after 48 years. Actually she did the walking, I just never bothered to go after her.  But the effects of her 'nuture' still bedevil me at times.

So this while thinking about floral preferences and from there perfume preferences, I got a little creeped out about whether it was nature or nurture, our similarities. I don't want to be anything like her. I don't want to follow her footsteps through hell, neither the one she occupies nor the one she visited upon other people.

As I was sitting down to type up this post, which was going to be more about flowers than mothers, she was still on mind. Memories of her still pricking my brain, upsetting my soul.  I don't do this often, if ever, if at all.

Then my eyes drifted to the top of my computer screen and today's date caught my eye. October 1st - my mother's birthday. If she is still alive she is 98.

If she is still alive it's because neither Heaven nor Hell wants her.




Sep 28, 2014

Less is more

Not only in a material way but in an emotional way.

Lately I have found myself not only happy in my reclusiveness but happy in my pulling away from personal attachments and emotional and psychological attachments.

It hasn't been a conscious effort. It hasn't been any effort at all to tell the truth. It was just there one day. I was thinking about family. I don't have one. I never had one. I think I only missed having and or being a part of a family because I thought I was supposed to. This troubled me. The not caring part, not the 'not having/being' part.  The feeling unnatural part when I knew that for me, it was not unnatural.

Running this through my mind, trying to find some reason why what is so important to others has no meaning for me. And why is this so? And why am I made to feel like there is a part of my psyche missing because I don't miss having a family. Or feel a need for family. What is wrong with me, I thought.

'Family' was just one of the normal attachments I've never had, and struggled with understanding why I didn't. I never felt I was missing anything. I never wanted the attachments that are considered normal. I never felt a need for them. I loved and was loved, yes. I gave and received affection, friendship but when it was gone, it was gone. And not mourned, perhaps missed in a nostalgic way. Good times and all, you know.

But then I laughed out loud. A warm laugh. A laugh of acceptance. There is nothing wrong with me.

My non-attachment is just who I am. I am not attached to material things; I accumulate them for their use, chose what pleases my senses AND my practicality. When a material thing is no longer useful, nor does it please my senses, I get rid of it. It is just a material thing and carries no emotional weight.

And when people leave my life, or I leave theirs, there should be some sort of emotional distress. My only distress has been that there hasn't been any distress.

I've spent a good portion of my life trying to fit my emotional/psychological life into what I have been told is the norm. It hasn't ever suited me. It hasn't ever felt natural and real to me.

It is not that I don't love. I do. It is not that I don't have real affection for the people in my life. And it is not that I no longer get angry at the ways humans mistreat and hurt other living creatures. I do. And I cry for others pain and joy. I am moved by a certain kind of sentimentality, or by any kindness to me.

Maybe it is a matter of getting older and becoming who I really am. Becoming the essence of myself.  The self that was burdened and smothered with trying to mold itself to the norm and the expected.  I no longer feel the need to fit that mold.

I don't feel that I am making myself clear. If I could draw then I would draw pale warm light. I would draw gossamer wings. I would draw oneness. I would draw all encompassing arms.

I am both solid and ephemeral. I am filled with this crazy joyousness in nothing and everything.

I am wondering whether I am at the end of a journey or at the beginning of one...

Sep 22, 2014

Not for me thanks but you go ahead-

Enjoy.

Happy people make me happy. I do not covet your happy-thing, whatever it may be - house, home decor, job, talent, vacation, kids, family.  I probably don't even understand why your happy-thing makes you happy. You smile, I smile - but I'm smiling at you, not your thing.

Perhaps there is a little covetousness for your homemade jams and jellies. I suppose I could learn to make jams and jellies but it's not my thing, I'd rather have some of yours.

In my wildest imagination I cannot see me canning fruit.  Or decorating my house with symbols of the season, or having 27 pillows on my bed, or collecting toast points. Or having children.  Or having a bunch of people at my home for dinner.

I don't think my enjoyment of your enjoyment could be called vicarious - I'm not enjoying something through  you, I am enjoying you, being you, being happy. Unless it is those homemade jams and jellies - then my pleasure may just be vicarious especially if you describe them in such a way that I start to drool.

I can admire something without wanting it, or for that matter, even liking it. Creativity, skill, workmanship - I can look at those aspects with admiration and appreciation but not care at all for the final product.

What got me started thinking about this was a blog post about a newly refreshed kitchen. Nothing in that kitchen appealed to me but it is a very well done kitchen. The writer of that post was clearly happy as a clam at high tide and I smiled at her happy but certainly not at the kitchen itself.

Or our dear friend Lin, parent extraordinaire. She loves being a parent and she and her husband seem to have done a superb job with their children. She has written often about her family and their activities, and while I do not for one moment, wish any of that for me, I've have to smile at her pleasure and the happiness her family brings her.   I can honestly say I don't even understand her happy but it always makes me smile.

This is all very commonplace, right? A smile will engender another smile, right? Happiness is infectious even if we don't know why the other person is happy. Even if we don't understand why that person is happy.

I do not expect anyone to like what I like. I also do not expect people to feel criticized if I don't like what they like, and they ascertain that by my adamant DIS- liking. 

So if you like mayo and provolone on a sandwich, I say 'None for me thanks, but you go ahead and enjoy"

Sep 1, 2014

Idle thoughts on Monday

As I was getting dressed I once again thought how much I prefer dresses to pants, and always have. Perhaps it was just the time I grew up in that drove my preference but when the option to wear pants everywhere and anywhere was available, I didn't. I stuck to my dresses and skirts. Someone asked me why I wore dresses even on a casual Saturday outing and my answer was - they're more comfortable; I have more freedom in a dress than in pants.

Jeans, anything denim except for my short jacket with the appliqued butterflies (oh 60's where art thou?) were on my 'Do Not Wear" list. I think I have owned 3 pairs of jeans in my whole life - hate jeans, hate denim. Too confining. And that is the crux of the matter - confinement versus free flowing freedom.

I had an epiphany some 15 years ago about why I have a near hysterical reaction to anything constricting or confining. I have wonder why my therapist and I never explored that aspect of my personality, he was well aware of it.  As in, when I described a fantasy I had of going into work with an uzi and walking into the bullpen and calling each person by name and when they popped up from their cubicles, gunning them down. (I think I envisioned a game of whack-a-mole with guns and real estate agents). My dear and darling therapist said, with great concern "But Grace then you would go to jail, and you know you can't bear to be confined" I did explain to the dear, darling man, who often struck me as being a bit naive, that it was just a fantasy. Or maybe I was in worse emotional shape than I thought and he really believed I might do something like that. New York City in the early 80's - how hard would it have been to get a machine gun?

Oh, did you want to know why the thought of being constricted or confined sends me into hysterics - ah, it seems when I was a toddler the mother would tie me to the radiator when no one else was home. I don't know why because I learned early on to stay out of her way and to stay quiet. I wasn't nick-named the mouse for no reason. But that's something else.

I did wear pants to work on occasion but they were more costume than  clothing - men's suits custom tailored to fit me; over-the-knee hi-heel boots with skin-tight stretch pants, turtle neck bodysuit and suspenders. Carefully coordinated costumes, worn to make a point, I think. I don't recall what the point might have been but certainly not my usual attire.

And my usual attire? Silk suits with silk t-shirts; anything made from soft flowing material but yet very simple and tailored. And always my beloved high-heels and fancy stockings - that was how I dressed for years and years and...

So now, fat, old and disabled, I still wear my soft flowy dresses in the house and when I venture out into the world I wear soft cotton-knit yoga pants that drape down my legs paired with a silky-knit t-shirt. My shoes are clunky black non-slip monstrosities that help me stay up-right and balanced.

And every morning as I slip my soft dress over my head, I remember when I was hot-shit in silk and suede...

Jul 18, 2014

Connotation

Con·no·ta·tion: noun:  plural noun: connotations
      an idea or feeling that a word invokes in addition to its literal or primary meaning.
     "the word “discipline” has unhappy connotations of punishment and repression
"

I learned about meaning and connotation in Mrs. Forlano's 6th grade class. Connotation is more a force in my reactions and understanding than meaning. Words are more than just 'words' to me and I've wanted to talk about this for a long time and yesterday's post give me the perfect excuse.

When we talked yesterday about the word 'content' I said it carried a negative meaning for me. Connotation. So much so that I couldn't state it's literal meaning. So much so that it has no literal meaning for me - only it's connotation.

Sharla saw the word and thought not of a literal meaning but defined 'content' by what she feels, and mentally sees, when she hears/reads the word. Connotation.

Connotation, or a form of it, applies to names - and this always amuses me. How often have you said to someone "But you don't look like a Seymour". Honestly how does a Seymour look? You hear/see the name and an image pops into your mind. If it is a pleasant image then you are amenable to the person carrying the name. If it is an unpleasant image you have a negative reaction. You've already made judgements about a person based on their name alone.

I can get freaky weird about names. There are names I simply cannot get out of my mouth I dislike them so much. Like the name "Ronald" - I can not say that name. And Ron doesn't come all that easily. I have no idea why. I don't recall having known any Rons growing up but I do know one thing that annoys me about this name - Italians named Ronald - NOT an Italian name by my lights. And yet I know of a lot of Italian Rons. What the heck?

Oh wait - how about 'Anthony'. In my head I hear that as 'Ant-a-knee'. Oh yes I do. Sometimes I hear a woman's high pitched voice shouting 'Ant-ahh-kneeeeee'. Yup, you want to stretch out that last syllable as long as you can. I also see this same woman hanging out a third floor window while shouting; I see that unfortunate fellow in 8th grade - overweight, greasy hair, terminal acne.  The name Anthony either makes me laugh or cringe.

Grateful, gratitude, thankful, thankfulness - these words have no literal meaning for me - just connotation. I hear/see these words and I grit my teeth and clench my jaw. They mean submission, subjugation. These words mean I am 'less than'.  I get a picture of being forced to my knees. I bend my knee for no one and nothing. Powerful reaction, yes?

So - words have literal meaning and personal connotation. And it is the personal connotation that makes words the most powerful force in the Universe.

Jul 17, 2014

Compromise and contentment

When I was a world and life weary 55 year old, a friend who had know me since I was an annoying, idealistic, high-minded 23 year old, said "So you finally learned to compromise - just like the rest of us."  A depressing realization.  Compromising, practical and pragmatic were not traits I had ever aspired to.

I am okay with practical and pragmatic - I don't have the time or energy for doing things the hard way; no patience for ifs, ands, buts, excuses, or woulda, coulda, shoulda. Suck it up and shut up or do something about it.  Oh wait, you say I am guilty of all of these things? Yes, I'm only human after all. I try to get passed it as quickly as possible and move on to 'do something about it'.

That is where the dreaded compromise comes in. Doing something about it. The doing is not always easy, or even possible so you have to compromise and be content. I'm not talking about high-flying notions here, I can't save the world and I wouldn't even try.

I hate 'content' - it carries such a negative meaning for me.  To be content is to be satisfied with less. It's okay; It'll do. Maybe. So the cake is a little lopsided it still tastes good. I'll give you that one but next time? Perhaps a little more effort and a not so lopsided cake?

What about what you really want - in a practical sort of way. I'm not talking about ridiculous airy-fairy (I want to be a singer in a rock 'n roll band) - I'm talking about doable if you put in the effort as opposed to not a snowball's chance in hell (I want to be a singer in a rock 'n roll band).

I've learned to compromise, choosing the best of all the practical, possible possibilities but I will not be content with it. Contentment means defeat to me. It means I have stopped trying; stopped dreaming practical dreams. Yes there are practical dreams, the ones that with time and effort are achievable.  Or you can just be content with who you are and what you have. Yes, know your real limitations but don't give up on your potential; what you can be, what you can have.

"Grace, why do you always want more and better, can't you be content with what is?" I am asked. And no, I can't. Not with everything.  I do not want to die content. I want to die still trying to achieve some practical dream. Still plotting and planning and working towards better and more.

To be and do to the very best of your abilities and be good with that - maybe that is a form of contentment - and that kind of contentment I probably could be okay with...but if there is any chance of more and better - then I want it.

I refuse to stop bouncing in my seat. I refuse to stop getting hot under the collar. I refuse to say it'll do, when I can do better. 

While I am not totally inured to compromise, that is something I want less of.  I refuse to be content. I refuse to stop looking up and onward.  So there...

Addendum number 543 kabillion: What is the difference between satisfied and content? The dictionary says they are synonymous but they aren't - not to me. But I did find this: "To be content does not necessarily imply "happiness" or "satisfaction" - it means that you are at peace with the circumstances."  I would add 'at the moment'. If I think about this long enough I will drive myself crazy.

Jul 1, 2014

Tuesday, 6:15 pm

It was very quiet, just the hum of the air conditioner.  The sun was strong and warm. I looked up from my book to notice the time - 6:15, getting late. I hadn't fluffed the bed yet and it was getting on time to start dinner.

I looked around the room - two cats sleeping on their cushioned bench under the windows - curled in semi-circles, inches apart, tail to head.  Warm on their blanket, warm in the sun.

I looked across the room and husband in his over-stuffed recliner was oblivious to all, reading.

And all is as it should be - the quiet, the artificial coolness warmed to comfort from the sun; the cats sleeping in truce for the comfort of their sensual little selves. My husband in his place,  and me in mine, the place I have read at my entire life - the kitchen table.

Yes, all was as it should be.

Jun 27, 2014

Essential Self

Both of my grandmothers spoke Italian as their first language. One Grandmother was an entrepreneur and spoke without obvious accent; the other Grandmother never left the Italian neighborhood and her accent was thick and her English poor. As they aged into their 70's they started speaking more Italian and less English, by the time they reached their 80's they spoke almost no English all. They reverted to their essential selves.

My father's case was a bit different. During the last week of his life, each time he woke from sleep he had slipped further into his past. It wasn't all that remarkable until he he reached his teen years - before he had met my mother. He didn't recognize her. He spoke as if he was 15 and it was 1930.  Finally, he woke as an infant. At that point he was transferred to a hospital and less than 24 hours later he died. He regressed to the ultimate essential self.

It occurred to me recently that I am reverting to my essential self. Until 2008, and despite my disability, I was engaged in the wider world. I had a job, friends, I was always out and about. A busy normal life. That all changed when we moved to Filthadelphia.

The first few months we were there I explored my new surroundings to the best of my abilities and then the depression set in and got deeper and darker. I was isolated, lonely and hated everything about where we lived.

When even my husband understood that our living situation was going to be the death of me - literally - it had become a real concern - we moved back to Northern Virginia.

And my life here? Insulated, solitary, reclusive. Aside from a weekly trip to the grocery store, I don't go out.  The only people I speak to are my husband and the cats, on rare occasion the front desk person or someone I bump into in the laundry room.

Yes, the first 6 months here I was out and about a bit - exploring the new neighborhood, a trip or two back to my old stomping grounds. Friends visited. But then nothing. This area is very residential - really nothing to do and nowhere to go unless you want to drive. And I don't drive. The buses run infrequently during the day and my friends got tired of the long drive to pick me up and drop me home. My disability has worsened.

BUT - I am not depressed. I am pretty happy most of the time. More happy than not happy.

It appears that I am reverting to my essential self. I was a child of solitude and quiet. Even as an adult, I would spend 3-day weekends locked in my apartment with the phone turned off. I NEEDED that quiet and solitude.

My solitude is my choice. My isolation is my choice. And even my happiness is my choice. (My shrink once told me that I was basically a happy person, and I think I am.)  Easy choices because they constitute my essential self.

I love my home and everything in it (except the bathrooms - but never mind about that.) I have less and less need for people and relationships. Especially people and relationships.  I have my internet friends and they fill my social needs.

It's good for me to know this - to realize that I am fine the way I am; the way I used to be.  My essential, solitary, self.

May 19, 2014

Monsters under my bed

I was told, that even as an infant, I did not sleep at night. Neither did I cry.

I was told that I would be found at the foot of my crib, under the covers, as if I was hiding.

Later I learned, without being told, that indeed I was hiding. But I wasn't afraid of the dark; I was afraid of what hid in the dark.

I'm all grown up now.  I love the dark, I love the night. I can take refuge in the dark and the night covers me.

But I still fear what comes in the night; who hides in the dark; the monsters under my bed.

I don't like to sleep with a lot of covers. I kick the covers off my feet, and my feet dangle over the side of the bed.  But not for too long.  As I sense my toes almost touching the bed frame, I quickly pull them back. Because there are monsters hiding under my bed. Waiting to pull me down; and under and then...

Unlike the little girl in this video, my monsters and I never became friends.



Apr 21, 2014

Traditions - I have none.

"A tradition is a belief or behavior passed down within a group or society with symbolic meaning or special significance with origins in the past."

Italians have a lot of food traditions, once I left home I never replicated any of them. I remember them fondly - hey, food! - but I never bothered with them. There are no cultural/family traditions that I maintain.

There are all the religious/secular holiday traditions, like Christmas. I don't do Christmas tho it is a perfect excuse to give people gifts. I'm for any excuse to give someone a gift. "Oh, hey - you got up this morning - here's a present". I surely do love giving gifts. One of the great pleasures of my life, but hardly a tradition.

Easter baskets were not a part of my childhood but I made them a part of my younger brother's. I saved my allowance and bought all the stuff to make him a basket every year.  He's 60, I still send him an Easter basket every year, so I guess that is a tradition. It's just that I never got one.

I've been trying my darndest to think of any traditions or traditional things (aside from you know,  like paying the bills) that are a part of my life and I am at a total loss.

The only thing that comes to mind, in the nature of family/cultural traditions, is a superstition. And that is: Never put shoes on the table.  I have no idea where that comes from but I remember when I was a kid, you come home from a shopping trip, unpack all your purchases, including your new shoes, and start to lay everything out on the table -"STOP! Do not put shoes on the table."  I never asked why. I could google it but I don't want to know.

Come to think of it now, all of my traditions are superstitions. Maybe all traditions ARE superstitions. Or maybe I have used the word so many times now it has ceased to have any meaning at all.

How long do you have to do a specific thing, at a specific time, for it to become a tradition? I make my husband a chocolate cake for his birthday every year. Is that a tradition? I've only been doing it for 2 or 3 years, and it's not my tradition, it's his. I just bake the cake because he likes it. Doesn't really mean jack-all (except that I'm a nice person, a-hem).

So what is it you do just because it has been done, traditionally?

Apr 3, 2014

Names

I don't know if I ever told you the 'names' stories and quite honestly I think those stories are more fun when told in person. I once entertained a large group of people with those stories - I had 'em rolling in the aisles. Or since this was at a backyard bbq/pool party - had 'em rolling in the grass...

Anyway, for  years I wanted to know my maternal great-grandmother's name. I never thought to ask my mother - stupid me. I had a session with a medium and he said that she said, I could call her 'Grace". That sound a little odd to me because her daughter, my grandmother was originally named 'Grazia" and I was named for my grandmother.

Italians, or at least the Italians I grew up around named the kids this way; first son after the father's father; first daughter after the mother's mother; second son after the mother's father and so on. You get the idea. Many times the middle name was after the other grandparent. There was also the tradition of naming the first son after the father leading to many 'juniors'. I don't know the thinking behind that one - it only appeared on the maternal side of the family.

Anyway, I recently discovered that my maternal great-grandmother's name was Josephine Grace Vullo - that's the way it showed up in census records, obviously since she was from Italy that is the English version. Which means she used her middle name for her daughter; actually there is no Italian word for the personal name 'Grace". It is most used as 'Graziella' which is considered a nickname. Are you confused yet?  'Grazia' would also be a nickname for 'Graziella' and my grandmother shows up in the records as "Grazia".

It doesn't really matter what my grandmother's birth name was because she changed it to Frances because the kids teased her about her Italian name.

Hoo-Boy.

On my father's side of the family, his name is pretty straight forward, Gennaro, named after his paternal grandfather but his sisters are another story. I know what they were called in English and the census records show their English names but their 'real' names are a mystery to me.  I could go to New York City and access their birth certificates to satisfy my curiosity, it would so be worth the trip.

One of my father's sisters, born in 1908, was called 'Jean', sometimes 'Jennie' - her real name? who knows. BUT BUT BUT...

My niece started a family tree on Ancestry and entered my Aunt Jean's name as 'Jennifer'. Jennifer? Seriously? In what universe does she think that immigrant Italians in 1908 would name a daughter Jennifer? THIS ANNOYS THE CRAP OUT OF ME.

Jean could be the Americanization of "Giovanna" which is the feminine form of Giovanni which is John. And since my grandfather's name was Giovanni/John perhaps that was the original name. There is a convoluted way back to Jennifer - from the Cornish Guinevere which is, maybe, Ginevra in Italian which could become Jean but Eugenia could also be 'Jean' or 'Jennie'.

Plus there is no "J" in the Italian alphabet. 'J' is only used in loanwords and foreign names.  In 1908 - with all the other children given Italian names do you seriously think Italian immigrant peasants were using the name Jennifer? It wasn't even a popular American name at the time. Sheesh.

And here endeth today's rant.

Feb 24, 2014

(Susurrus of the wind)










I love the sound of the wind...the whistle, the whoosh, the howl, the sough, the susurrus of the wind. It is wild and soft and calm and crazy and it delights me in every way, in all it's incarnations....




Feb 19, 2014

It's not just a matter of

having a room of one's own but also having time of one's own. I sorta, kinda have the room but I don't have the time and it's starting to get to me...

I never had children, I just kept marrying them...

Twisting Shakespeare to my own use - "The fault, dear Grace, lies not in your stars but in yourself"

Reality sucks...

Feb 7, 2014

With each passing day

I feel more and more alienated. I mentioned the other day that I feel a generation gap with every generation, especially my own.

There is a big media brouhaha about this being the 50th anniversary of the Beatles performing in the United States.  Huge shoulder shrug from me. Why would anyone care? Why is this in any way noteworthy?

I was a senior in high school in 1964 and while I listened to the Beatles I didn't think they were all that and a bag of chips. An opinion that wasn't shared by most of the other teens around me. There was a girl in my home room who was crazy mad about Ringo Starr - really over-the-top crazy. The day they were in NYC she received a telegram (yes, yes - a telegram) inviting her to the Ed Sullivan Show and signed Ringo Starr. Obviously this was a prank but she got so hysterical that she passed out cold and they had to call an ambulance.

People have always gone overboard in their appreciation of celebrities, of any stripe, and I don't get it. The Beatles were okay. The Rolling Stones were better. The Dave Clark 5 stunk.  But music is subjective. You like it or you don't.

Does anyone know anyone who likes all the same things that they do? Seriously, if anyone reading this can answer yes to that question I want to hear from you.

Aside from my husband, I know no other person, in real life or on-line, who shares my taste in home decor. I am always trolling home design/architecture/interior decor sites for someone who likes what I do. No luck so far.

I have very few friends on-line who are my age. I have no friends in real life who are my age. Younger by at least 20 years, and more, while I don't understand the music they grew up with, I do share a certain sensibility with them. A sensibility I don't share with my own age group.

Of course, if I would bother to lift my gaze from my own navel, I would see that this is the norm. That most people have wide-ranging interests, likes and dislikes. That these ranges over-lap to greater and lesser degrees with the people in their lives. On the one hand, I would like to spend time with people who like the same things I do, and on the other hand, I really enjoy hearing about, and learning, things I never considered before.

So, no, my drum isn't so different from anyone else's.

Let's dance.

Jan 7, 2014

I don't care what you call it...

 Lucky? I'm not too sure I believe in luck - good or bad. Good luck is just happy happenstance - something that happens without your active participation.

And bad luck? Most of the time that's probably under our control...not so much an UN-happy happenstance. Pure chance, either way, like winning the lottery.

Tho both good luck and bad luck can be attributed to...


Smart and practical, or not-smart and not-practical. And by that I mean smart-practical - Not one or the other but both together. A way of being smart; a way of being practical; the opposite of penny-wise, pound foolish.

Bad luck about your car breaking down. Really? When was the last time it was serviced? Bad luck about the roof leaking - once again, really? When was the last time you had it checked? I'm sure you can think of other examples of bad luck that were simply a matter of not being smart-practical.

Good luck works the same way. Got the great new job - what luck! And luck probably had nothing to do with it. Prior experience, skills, education, great references, terrific presentation of yourself...all things under your control and the result of being smart-practical.

And sometimes it's just a crap shoot. And then there is...

Blessed.  Which begs the question "Why do bad things happen to good people?" I don't know - maybe just bad luck?

These are concepts that can be argued and debated, going in circles, exceptions to the rule, "let me tell you what happened to me" - lots of ways to look at it or justify it or explain it. But this is my take, you have yours no doubt.

Blessed. Yes I do believe in a super-natural force that has an affect on my life. Why? No rational explanation. I just do. I think that is called 'Faith".  Or delusion.  Or something so true that no matter how hard I try to not believe, I am never successful.

So - I am mostly smart-practical. Any bad luck I have had is because I made the wrong choices, ignoring my smart-practical side.  Any good luck I have had is because I used my smart-practical wisely.

As to why I am blessed, beats me. But I know I am. And every day, EVERY day, I am made aware of it, even in the smallest of things.

And every day, EVERY day, a nod of the head, a tip of the hat, goes out to that WHICH IS.  A sigh of relief thank you. A happy thank you. A just because thank you.

Am I grateful? No. Am I thankful? No. I have problems with those words. I find them demeaning to both me and that WHICH IS.  But thank you is all I have in my word arsenal.

So thank you it is. Every Day.