Image

SHARING MY WORLD – PARADES, TRADITIONS, AND A JOKE – WEEK 28

Share Your World – 2014 Week 28

Have you ever been a participant in a parade? What did you do?

In 1992 and 1993, Garry and I were the honorary “King and Queen” of the Shriner’s Rodeo. I loved it. Wish we could do it again. We got to ride out at a gallop, then ride around the arena. The hardest part was controlling the horse and not falling off.

It was what got Garry interested in riding and for the next several years, we took lessons and went riding every chance we got.

ADJ150-RodeoGarMarHorseback

If you were handed free opera tickets, would you go or sell them? Why?

I’m not fond of opera, though I like operetta, especially Gilbert & Sullivan. I wouldn’t sell the tickets. I’d give them to someone who likes opera. Ballet I would go to see. I originally planned to be a ballerina, but it didn’t work out.

Why did you start your blog?

Like so many others, as a place to show off my thousands of pictures … and maybe do some writing that someone other than family members and friends might read it. It turned to be a lot more than I expected.

What is your favorite tradition? (family tradition, church tradition, whatever)

Pretty much all our personal traditions revolve around movies and shopping.

We watch “The Quiet Man” on St. Patrick’s Day. It reminds us of our honeymoon in Ireland, when we hunted down the locations where John Ford shot the movie. We watch the fireworks at the Boston Hatch Shell on the 4th of July (these days on television, in the old days from our balcony in Boston), then watch “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

From Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, we watch our favorites holiday movies including “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “A Christmas Story,” and “Miracle on 34th Street.” Our own private film festival until we run out of holiday-themed movies.

96-ChristmasCommons-12-9-12_134

When Christmas is over, we go shopping. Got to love those post-Christmas sales. We get what we want at half price or less. It’s fun, something we can do together.

We also try to get into Boston at least once during December to see the Boston Pops concert and I can take some night shots of the city.

96-Pops2013_065

Speaking of traditions, we like to shop together at seasonal sales. Like we did yesterday for the big “end of summer” sales. Maybe you didn’t know summer is over, but in retail, it’s already autumn.

We didn’t buy much, but got stuff we like. We will enjoy using it especially because we paid 75% less than regular price. Garry and I were brought up to believe only fools pay full price. W exalt in our bargains.

AND NOW, IT’S TIME FOR A FUNNY STORY

Herb’s buddy George comes up to him after work and says “Hey, Herb! Have I got a deal for you!”

“What’s the deal?” Herb asks.

“I can get you an elephant for $100!”

Herb looks baffled. “George, buddy, I have no idea what in the world I would do with an elephant. What, ride him to work? Let him graze in the back yard? Don’t be ridiculous.”

And George says: “I can get you two elephants for $150!”

“NOW you’re talking,” says Herb.

Image

CHRISTMAS – 2012 – AND THE NEWTOWN MASSACRE

Lest we forget – Just a little more than a year ago, there was a massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut.

- – - – -

I was shocked to realize that Monday is Christmas Eve. I admit that it’s pretty weird at this time of year to not know what day is Christmas, but I am a disaster in every possible way. Trying to do everything is not merely difficult, it’s impossible. I’m stretched thin enough to be transparent. I’m sure the massacre in Connecticut contributed hugely to my fugue state.

For about a week, we couldn’t even think about holidays. I’m not sure we were thinking about anything. Psychic overload. Plus, there are other issues, stuff I had to deal with that falls under my purview because the end of the year is not only a time for holidays, but the period when we wrap up the business of the old year and get everything in place for the next.

Unless the world ends later today, in which case all I can say is “oops.”

Christmas Cactus

I am changing health care insurance carriers as of January because I can’t afford the program I’ve been using, much as I like it. Changing medical insurance is always hard, but when you are older and have a variety of physical conditions and work with a lot of specialists, it gets wildly complicated and a bit scary.  Moreover, I have a project to which I committed last summer that has a hard deadline just after the New Year.

And at the beginning of last week, I realized my husband needs a new cell phone. It never crossed my mind that upgrading a mobile phone could entail endless hours of calls to AT&T and turn into a Cecil B. DeMille production with thousands of extras and a full orchestra. Getting the phone ate most of a week … and I fear it’s not over yet. We don’t actually have a phone yet. Anything could happen.

When I have a little time and am over the hump of holidays, I’ll tell you all about it. You can’t make this stuff up.

My deadline isn’t flexible. I’ve never missed a deadline and I won’t this time either. I will meet it or die trying. But it leaves Garry to take care of everything I haven’t already done. It’s nothing outside his capabilities … it’s just that he too had lost track of time.

When I told him Christmas Eve is Monday, he didn’t believe me. We had to stand in front of the calendar, proving beyond doubt that somewhere along the way, we lost a week.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

What happened to December? In all the years I can remember, I have never been so completely unready for the holidays as I am this year and what’s weird is that so many other people I know seems to be caught short.

My theory is that the Newtown Connecticut mass shooting affected many of us the same way. Vietnam vets started having flashbacks again. It made my husband remember too many similar things he had to cover during his years as a reporter … and had the same effect on his colleagues, both those still working and those now retired. For a while, it seemed somehow wrong … inappropriate … to be worrying about gifts and wrapping paper.

We didn’t feel festive. We didn’t even feel like we should feel festive. Between events outside our control and a lot of things that just came together to eat our time, Christmas seems to have appeared, popping up like a jack-in-the-box. Friends who normally go all out for the holidays haven’t even bought a tree, much less put it up or decorated their home and property. A strange Christmas, this one. Somehow, it has happened, though with less ceremony than usual.

While I spent the afternoon at the oncologist, my daughter-in-law and granddaughter put up and decorated the tree. They acquired wrapping paper and the appropriate stuff to go with it … ribbon and bows and tape and labels and all. Meals are planned, though groceries remain to be purchased.

In the middle of all of this, my two Christmas cacti are blooming. They, at least, are in tune with the season. The tree is lit. There won’t be wreathes this year because I forgot to buy them and now, it seems too late.

Next year I’ll try to make up for it. I did take pictures this morning to prove, despite obstacles, we shall have Christmas. We may not deck the halls, but it’s still Christmas.

WHEN CHRISTMAS KILLS YOUR CHRISTMAS SPIRIT

For twenty Decembers in a row, I maxed out my credit and emptied my bank account buying gifts. A lot of the gifts were items no one really needed or wanted, stuff that just caught my eye. Or because anything the recipient wanted or needed, I couldn’t afford. And worse, they didn’t want the stuff I gave them either. I also got a lot of junk gifts, stuff I didn’t want, had no use for. Felt obliged to keep anyhow, so it cluttered up my house and made me feel obligated to keep the giving and getting cycle going against all logic and reason.

96-christmas2013_19.

After Garry and I had to stop working in 2001, our financial situation went downhill. At some point in that long, painful slide, I realized I had to do something to stop the hemorrhaging. Christmas was killing us.

It was 2007 when I finally stopped exchanging gifts with everyone except my best friend and her husband, and my immediate family. Immediate family was defined as my son, his wife, my granddaughter, my husband and his brothers.

I tried to think of a subtle approach to handling this, but there wasn’t any. Finally, I simply called everyone. I told them I wanted to stop exchanging gifts. Explained I couldn’t afford it and in any case, anything they really wanted or needed was outside my means. We all wound up buying junk, so what was the point?

At first there were a lot of objections. In the end, though, everyone agreed I had a point and I think they were relieved. Because unless you have unlimited resources, Christmas can wipe you out. After initial objections were overcome, everyone settled down and the idea began to gain traction.

Now, especially with so many of my friends retired and living on fixed incomes, most of the people I know limit gift exchanges. There’s no viable alternative. If Christmas spending is killing your Christmas spirit, you have to talk about it. People will understand.

Set spending limits even (maybe especially) with close family. Even with your spouse. Garry and I have a $50-75 “under the tree” limit for each other. After Christmas, if we have a bit of money, we go shopping together. We hit the post-holiday clearance sales where we each get stuff we really want. I know a lot of couples who do the same thing. It works and it’s fun.

There’s no law that says you have to bankrupt yourself every December. I used to do it because I love buying presents. As much as I had to set limits for everyone else, I had to discipline myself too. I’ve learned to stick to my own rules —  a lot harder than I thought it would be.

The end result has been good all the way around. If Christmas has become something you dread rather than look forward to, you might want to restructure your holiday. Try a new approach. More celebration and less shopping. It might save Christmas for you.

CHRISTMAS FROM THE OUTSIDE

Being a non-observant Jew is effectively no religion. It isn’t like being an atheist because it doesn’t imply a belief in no god. My mother was an atheist. I understand what it means. To me, atheism requires as much certainty as any other faith. You have to know something you can’t really know. It’s faith, even if it’s faith in nothingness.

75-PosterCommons_091

Given my upbringing and personal preferences, I’m mildly uncomfortable celebrating all religious holidays, including Jewish ones. I feel as if I’m wearing someone else’s clothing. Even when they fit well and look good, I know they aren’t mine. Every year when Christmas rolls through town flattening everything and everyone in its path, I bow to its power and supremacy. I enjoy the lights, music,  gifts and season while remaining aware it isn’t my holiday. When everyone is sharing their warm fuzzy memories of Christmas as a child, I have no equivalent memories to share. Not of Christmas or any holiday because my mother, atheist that she was, celebrated nothing. As a kid, I yearned to be part of Christmas. All my friends had trees and got a zillion presents. I would wander around to my various friends’ houses, stay a little while, aware I wasn’t really welcome. Then I would go home. I felt so left out.

When I married my first husband, his family was almost as religious as mine. They were pretty sure they had been — at some point in the past — something, but they weren’t sure what. They celebrated Christmas with enormous energy and enthusiasm, without any bothersome religious overtones. It was an alcoholic’s dream holiday featuring eggnog that might actually kill you. And very tree-ish. My father-in-law hauled in the biggest trees I’ve ever seen in a private home. Paul Bunyan would have been impressed.

That first Christmas (1965), they pulled out all the stops. They had a Jew to entertain. How exciting. A new audience. Jeff passed away twenty years ago, but his mother — she will be 104 in February — still sends a Christmas present. I have one in the living room right now waiting to be unwrapped.

The nine years I lived in Israel gave me perspective. There was no evidence of Christmas. Chanukah was a holiday, but not like Christmas. Passover and Sukkot were big festivals. It was comfortable to be a Jew in Israel. That sounds redundant, but the freedom to live by a Jewish calendar was no small thing. Even if you were entirely non-religious, you didn’t feel the pressure to be involved in what is — theoretically — a Christian holiday, but is — as practiced — Pagan. I like the Pagan part.

Basically, I have no religious affiliation. Jewish by ethnicity and history. And I know a lot about Judaism, admire it, but I don’t practice it and never have. I thought seriously about practicing it but it didn’t fit better than anything else. I’m skeptical of everything, certain of nothing. I have no answers.

So to all of you, Merry Christmas. Have a cool Yule and a grand Solstice. Whatever you celebrate, please — enjoy it! I’ll sing along because I know all the words.

Image

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: DANCING IN THE DARK

Dancing Dark 5

It was very cold. A light breeze riffled the naked trees wrapped in lights. Music was playing by the exhibit building. Alone, in the dark and cold, by the glow of thousands of Christmas, one couple danced.

Dancing Dark 1

Not so long ago, that would have been Garry and I. Not that we are such great dancers (we aren’t) but because we were so happy to dance together.

Dancing Dark 3

But this night we are not so young. Our backs hurt and the cold is nipping at our feet and fingers. I had a sentimental moment … and then I knew we needed to warm up, inside, away from the starlight and music. But it brought back happy memories and the young couple made me smile.

Dancing Dark 2

Related articles

FOR EVERYONE, A PUMPKIN

Pumpkin Church

When you drop by my little site, please leave with an armful of bright orange pumpkin. Carry it, cradle it, hug it to your breast. It is yours to do with as you will. You can do no wrong as long as it brings you joy and makes you smile.

Carve it or cook it. Stand it on your doorposts with a painted scowl or a sunshiny smile. Celebrate the growth of the earth or the remembrance of the dead.

Dress your pumpkin as dreadful death. Or leave it naked to the elements. A pumpkin can be food for your body, a pie of total delight and a scent rising to heaven. May I share? Or it can be candy for all eyes, the richest color plucked from a season of rich colors.

Come to my place and take your pumpkin. Pumpkins, pumpkins for all the world. Pumpkins are waiting for you. You may pick the best or the least of the bounty I offer.

Image

HAPPY WHATEVER

75-PunkinsZS19-MAR-24 It’s not Halloween yet, but the posts are up on Facebook proclaiming that “Merry Christmas” is the only correct way to greet people during this season of fellowship and good cheer. To say “Happy Holidays” is anti Christmas. Anti Christian. Part of an international plot to destroy Christmas. What, you didn’t know that? Well, neither did I but I have been recently enlightened. I had to restrain myself from buying the book. It was on sale on (where else?) Facebook, called something like (I should have saved the link) “The Conspiracy (Plot?) to Eliminate (Eradicate?) Christmas.” Clearly there’s more to the story, but I leave it to others to fill in those blanks. Or not.

Happy Christmas, painted by Johansen Viggo

If ever an argument was perfectly designed to suck the joy out of the season, this is it. Sure, let’s make everyone feel self-conscious about wishing someone else a happy whatever. I’m pretty sure these are the same people who complain about excessive political correctness and/or the continued (obviously) anti-Christian separation of church and state. I never cease being amazed how some folks can hold completely contradictory opinions without noticing the irony, much less the illogic. But, as usual, I digress.

Call me insensitive, but I don’t see how a greeting as bland as Happy Holidays can be anti anything. It is neutral and inclusive. For those who haven’t noticed, there are a lot of holidays bundled into this short season. Christmas is just one of them so whatever you say in greeting is fine with me. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the thought that counts.

Two red chairs Why in the world does it matter to anyone what holidays I celebrate or how I celebrate them? If I’m not preventing you from doing whatever you want to do in your own home, your own church, what is your problem? Celebrate Christmas. Deck the halls. Decorate trees. String lights. Dress up as Santa. Go caroling. Put a manger with baby Jesus on your front lawn. I’m not Christian, don’t want to be, but that doesn’t mean I’m against you.

But. Please don’t put your crèche in my yard or the middle of my town. There are plenty of churches in town. They put up lots of Christmas displays. If that’s not enough, sorry, but it’s my world too. I’m not anti Christian and I’m not persecuting you or anyone. I’m merely trying to enjoy the season. My way. I won’t be offended if you wish me a Merry Christmas. Feel free to wish me happy anything and I’ll be delighted to wish you a happy whatever in return.

96-SantaPops-12-9-12_121 I think every person of every faith or no faith is entitled to celebrate — or not celebrate — the season however they want. Stop prating how others are disrespecting your faith while you trample roughshod over theirs. A lot of Christians are an embarrassment to Jesus, who was a proper Rabbi and a good Jew.

So what’s it to you if I want to celebrate the Winter Solstice while you celebrate Christmas? Let’s have more parties, more festivals. More happiness. Be of good cheer. We don’t need more acrimony.

The holidays are coming like a freight train on a long downhill run, stopping for no one and nothing. It doesn’t matter to me how you express your joy in the season. Just be happy. For yourself. For all of us. Stop being petty and mean-spirited. Christianity isn’t the only or oldest faith. No one owns the franchise on holidays. Show some of that Christian spirit and love your neighbor. Or at least pretend.

And have a wonderful season! 96-ChristmasCommons-12-9-12_134

MAO AND A TURKEY

Long ago in a land far away, we had a Siamese cat. Mao — “cat” in Chinese. I don’t know if that’s Mandarin, Cantonese or some other dialect, but it was a good name.

English: A two-year-old seal point "tradi...

We got Mao as a tiny kitten. From day 1, he was a feisty, chatty cat.  Our first cat, which his name reflected. Mao Ee (Cat 1). There were, of course, many others over the decades in all the places and houses in I’ve called home, but there’s never been another cat anything like Mao.

When we traveled, friends took care of our house. I was a great grower of plants back then. Feeding the cats was one part of the job … but watering the 200 plus plants was — or should have been — the bigger task. Frank — best friend’s husband — was often tasked with house care in our absence. Mao was a thinking cat. A logical cat. He decided we were gone because Frank had driven us away. Thus if Mao could drive Frank away, we would come home.

Thus, when Frank came to the house to feed and water cats and plants, Mao attacked him. I don’t mean a little pounce, a playful swat. It was all out warfare. Mao crouched in shadows and attacked, all 20 claws outstretched, going for gore. Poor Frank loved cats and he and Mao had always gotten along fine. He had no idea why Mao was out to get him.

The moment we came back, Mao was back to normal, friend to the world. He had obviously been right because we were back … ergo, it must have been because he drove The Invader (Frank) away. Logical, yes? After that, Mao attacked everyone who took care of the house in our absence. He was the terror of Our Crowd. It got increasingly difficult to get someone to take care of things while we were gone.

The years moved on and Mao moved with us. There were children, jobs, bigger houses, dogs. Life. We held celebrations … big Thanksgiving dinners. One memorable occasion, we had a full house including a dozen and half people and featuring a huge turkey. When the turkey was roasted, I put it out on the counter to set while I moved food in the dining room and greeted arriving guests.

Thanksgiving006

I wasn’t gone 10 minutes. When I got back to the kitchen, Mao was on the counter, finishing off a drumstick. Its remains were still attached to the turkey — a ragged, conspicuously gnawed hole. Not the presentation I had in mind.

The husband and I consulted. We agreed and served the bird as it was.

“What happened to the turkey,” asked the friends and family.

“Mao got to it,” I said.

“Oh,” they said. “Pass the bird.”

It was a good Thanksgiving. Mao was some cat.

Image

Hunting for Springtime

Hard to see any evidence of springtime by the river.

Hard to see any evidence of springtime by the river.

And so we went out to see if spring was coming. There’s no sign of leaves on the trees, nor any flowering shrubs heavy with buds. Last year, everything was early and blooming by now. This year, it looks much more like November than April.

Kaity looks for something to shoot ... a bird, a flower and finds ... not much.

Kaity looks for something to shoot … a bird, a flower and finds … not much.

Yet there are signs. Small signs and not easy to find, but they are there. The grass is beginning to show green. The twigs on bushes are red with fresh sap. There are buds, still small and far from ready to burst, but Spring will come. Late this year … early last year. It evens out, I guess.

A bird stopped briefly by, but did not stay long enough to capture an image.

A bird stopped briefly by, but did not stay long enough to capture an image.

It’s odd not having flowers at Easter, but at last we have some crocuses. I thought we weren’t going to have any at all this year, but though delayed, a few have struggled through late snows, ice, and hard frosts and are blooming in our garden.

As if the benches too are waiting for the air to finally warm.

As if the benches too are waiting for the air to finally warm.

The forsythia would usually be blooming by now, but it isn’t and looks to be at least a week or two in the future.

A classic case of better late than never!

Daily Prompt: Local Flavor: Hot Time In The Old Town Tonight

I live in a small town in the middle of a lovely valley. Someone asked me what there is to do around here, which got me to thinking about all the cool things there are do in our town.

Beyond - Benches

I realized this was going to be a very short post.

Here’s the list of cool things to do in Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Note: Everything except number 2 are warm weather activities.

  1. Walk the to the middle of town. Watch the water flow over the dam on the Mumford River.
  2. Attend a pancake breakfast at the fire house.
  3. If it’s not winter, go to yard sales. Find bargains. Buy some.
  4. In summer, go to a drive in. Bring lawn chairs. Sit outside and watch a double bill.

That’s it. But the scenery is  really lovely everywhere in all four seasons, so it’s a great place to take walks and photographs. We have a lot of churches. And you can go to orchards, pick your own apples and even cut down your own Christmas tree. Sometimes, you can watch the wild turkeys attack your car. You can’t do that in a big city!

OldJail-300-72

-

Blog of the Year – 2012 … And now we are five!!


I just got my fifth star from Eunice at Living and Lovin:Living Life surrounded by all I love. PEACE. Thank you I am extremely grateful and touched. I didn’t expect it and I’m not sure I deserve it, but it’s great to have it!

I also received the Blog of the Year Award  from Tyson at Head in a Vice , then from Sharla at CatnipOfLife, another from Bette Stevens at 4WRITERSANDREADERS … and yet one more from Sharla via her second blog (talk about ambitious, I can barely keep up with one blog, much less two), Awakenings  … I’m all the way up to five stars. 

It’s amazing to me to  have gotten any awards, but a fifth star is really special and deeply appreciated. I’m not sure I deserve it, but it has turned out to be the high points (five high points) of this otherwise rather difficult holiday season.

Today was the day the world was supposed to end, but it being the Winter Solstice, it actually was the shortest day of the year, which is not the end of the world, just the official beginning of winter … and ironically, the beginning of the lengthening  of the days, the shortest day, the longest night … but also, the beginning of the return of the sun and a hope that spring will come again.

It’s no coincidence that Christmas … Yuletide falls approximately on the Solstice. Every religion, every culture celebrates the solstices as well as the equinoxes. Christianity, as it was developing, adopted an “easier to join them than fight them” attitude … as had every other religion and culture before it. It doesn’t make the holiday less meaningful, it just lets people celebrating at a time that feels familiar, comfortable.

I still have a lot to do. All the wrapping, the grocery shopping. Our trip to visit friends after Christmas just got called off due to illness … hopefully just delayed.  I find myself not feeling the magic. Not feeling festive. Tragedies in the news, close friends sick, one family member passing … and a serious scarcity of money have all combined to make this a dreary excuse for what is usually a fun time of year.

75-Choir_HP-23

And then someone gives me a little star … a bit of recognition … and the world is just that much brighter. Thank you again.

There is definitely something to be said about this virtual world of ours: it is a world of sharing, caring and preparing: Sharing around the world, Caring for others, Preparing for the future. Whatever endeavor you are engaged in at the present moment or seek in days to come, there is always someone willing to tell you his or her story which will in provide a beacon of light down a sometimes dark highway.

The ‘rules’ for this award are simple and easy:

  1. Select the blog(s) you think deserve the ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award.
  2. Write a blog post and name/tell us about the blog(s) you have chosen – there’s no minimum or maximum number of blogs required – and ‘present’ them with their award.
  3. Please include a link back to this page Blog of the Year 2012 Award and include these ‘rules’ in your post (please don’t alter the rules or the badges!).
  4. Let the blog(s) you have chosen know that you have given them this award and share the ‘rules’ with them.
  5. You can now also join The Facebook group – click ‘like’ on this page ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award Facebook group and then you can share your blog with an even wider audience.
  6. As a winner of the award – please add a link back to the blog that presented you with the award – and then proudly display the award on your blog and sidebar … and start collecting stars.

_______________________________________________________

Because this is an award that you can “collect” and get many times, I’m going to give it back to people who I know have gotten it before, but who I’m reasonably sure don’t have all six stars yet. I may be wrong, but I think so.

You are people whose work I follow. You mean something to me. You make me laugh, make me feel, make me think, teach me stuff. Some of you suggest ideas, movies, or books to read, watch, or learn, technology, cameras and accessories I might want. Some of you champion causes important to me … and some of you are living lives I wish were mine. Many more of you are living lives a lot like mine and I empathize and sympathize with you. You make me feel less alone.

All of you have touched me. It may not matter a lot to you, but it makes a big difference to me.

For those of you are getting this award again and need one of the other versions with a different number of stars, I’m including (thank you again Sharla) all six of the award medallions at the bottom of this post.

Since I got this fifth star today, I’m going to pass it along to people who to whom I gave it before, but who I’m pretty sure don’t yet have their sixth stars (no, not me … I can’t give it to myself and I wouldn’t if I could … Jeez):

_______________________________________________________

Feel no obligation to do anything beyond your comfort zone. I know the holidays are on us and if you are anything like me, you don’t have time to spare. Do whatever feels good to you and don’t feel obliged beyond that. I may take a week off blogging altogether after this: I’ve got so much to do, I finally feel like if I don’t give myself a break, I’m going to break.

May your holidays be bright, may all good things come to you and yours. May we all move into the New Year with joy and purpose, overcoming all the problems that assail us and coming out the other side.

Revel in the season! Be happy whatever it is you celebrate … and may you enjoy everything you can in any way that brings you peace and joy.

“VERY INSPIRING BLOGGER AWARD” – My Cup Overfloweth

Very Inspiring Blogger award

Tonight I went with my husband to Sutton’s Congregational Church. They were having their Christmas Concert and Garry and a friend of his had produced a documentary about the concert … how it was put together, how the choir family pulled together to create this every year. It’s playing now on local cable stations around the valley.

75-Choir_HP-17

This was the official Christmas concert performance. Considering how trying these past few days have been, a trip to church to hear Christmas carols was exactly what we needed. It was a nasty night. When we got out of the car at the church, the entire parking lot was covered with black ice. It was drizzling, but just cold enough so that the drizzle froze instantly on all the paved surfaces. I barely made it the 20 or so feet from the car to the church without falling and the minister did fall on her way out of her house.

The concert was lovely. Good singing, lots of smiles. And I took pictures and by the time we left the church, it had warmed up just enough so that the ice was gone. As the minister said, we had been blessed.

And now, blessed again by yet another gift of a Very Inspiring Blogger Award, courtesy of  Dear Kitty. Some blog: On animals, peace and war, science, social justice, women’s issues, arts, and much more. This is a woman whose causes are my causes, whose passions are also mine, a woman who I greatly admire. I am touched and honored to receive this award from her.

I often don’t feel particularly inspiring, but inspiration comes from many sources. I am glad that my words and pictures … and the other posts I find and reblog because I think they are important and worthwhile … provide inspiration for others. It makes the effort worth it to know that there are people “out there” who read the words and it means something to them.

That somehow I’ve gone in less than a year from “who’s that?” to getting more awards than I imagined possible leaves me a little breathless. Awards are always given by people who do not know us intimately. I am sure if people knew me better, they’d be incapable of giving me an award because they would, as my old friends do, remember that time I had one Mai Tai too many, fainted dead away and had to be dragged home by three big guys in a fork lift. People who know you very well may love you, but they don’t give you awards. Moreover, anyone who met my second husband or first boyfriend would never find me inspiring, although I might serve as a cautionary tale … if that could be considered inspirational.

The difference between something that gives me a migraine and something that inspires me can be razor-thin. This last week, full of tragedy and madness has been inspiring … but not in a way I would ever have chosen. It’s been a grim week. I only hope that from this something positive will emerge. I guess we’ll see how long people remember and if all the talk turns into some kind of action.

Being told that I’m an inspiration is an inspiration. It means I have not become irrelevant and maybe the experience of a lifetime is was not entirely wasted. All of you in my blogging world inspire me. I read your stories and poems. I admire your photographs and art. You change my view of the world, the way I do things, give me food for thought. If I do a bit of the same for you, I am glad.

Keith and St. Nick

Happy whatever you celebrate. Celebrate everything, why don’t you? Rejoice that you are alive, because you have a friend, a roof over your head, and maybe something to eat. Forget for a while all the problems and craziness because it won’t forget you … it’ll be there, waiting, when the party’s over. Love you all!!

The rules of this award are:

  • Display the award logo on your blog
  • Link back to the person who nominated you.
  • Tell us at least seven things about yourself that you would like to share.
  • Nominate other bloggers for this award and link to them. I am not going to set a specific number. I know how difficult it can be to keep coming up with nominees and rather than burden you all with having to find everyone all at once, you can keep a few awards in your back pocket and pass them along when the time is right. The holidays are upon us all, so please don’t feel pressured to push beyond your comfort zone.
  • Notify your chosen bloggers of their nomination and the award’s requirements.

Seven things about myself that I haven’t explicitly said before (at least not where anyone could hear me) are:

  1. I was a music major in college, then finally graduated as a drama/broadcast dual major. I would have stayed for a third major in social science, but they told me I had to graduate.
  2. My favorite movies are comedies. I love to laugh.
  3. I have owned so many cats and dogs that I really can’t remember all of them any more.
  4. I’m a good cook, but after more than 40 years of dishing up meals, I’m very happy to eat other people’s cooking.
  5. If the mother ship comes and offers me a ride, I’m outta here.
  6. I learned to read in about two hours when I was five.
  7. I believe that anyone could write well if they would just remember that writing is just talking through your fingers. Good writing should sound as natural as speech. Most people try too hard; others don’t try hard enough.

My nominees (the envelope please):

  • Lust and Rum: New York, thy name’s “Delirium” — because I grew up in New York and  Anton Brookes’ photography and commentary reminds me that I still love it. His pictures are touching, evocative, the kind of photojournalism you rarely see any more.
  • Wessays – by my old friend Wes Richards whose writing is so good  that every time I read one of his posts, I immediately feel inadequate.
  • Awakenings: Awakenings from Then ’til Now allows you to Embrace Your Past, Empower the Present, Enrich Your Future. Because Sharla inspires me every day in more ways than I can count.

For all of you to whom I’ve already give awards, know you are likely going to get more. I like you, I like your websites, your thoughts, your pictures, you opinions … so you’ll have to cope with getting a few awards now and again. There are worse fates!