Jingle All The Ways???

I’m too lazy to write a Christmas post this year so here’s a reblog of one from a few years back.

Stop Along The Way

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused at Christmastime Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused at Christmastime

It’s a hallmark (pun intended) of this season to say “I can’t believe it’s holiday time again already!” I know it always seems to come around more than once a year to me! Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through a lot of them and I’ve done Christmas (which is my family’s tradition) in every way possible.

It started after I had my first kid and I wanted to teach her the true meaning of the holiday. It was one of the many mistakes I made while child rearing. Anyway, in my search for a way to “authentically” celebrate the holiday I’ve tried a lot of different approaches , the first of which was,

IMG_1096The Purist Way: It involved a real tree with only wooden ornaments and strung berries. I wanted to put candles on it but my husband grumbled something about our…

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Blue Blazes

Is it me? Man, it feels hot! As I’ve written about before, one of the reasons I moved to Virginia from Massachusetts was for the weather. I don’t like cold and I love the heat but man, it’s been hot here lately. When I came here in the summer of 2012 I relished the 90 degree days. I’d compare temperatures on my Yahoo Weather app and then call my sisters back in New England and ask them with stifled laughter if they were chilly. There were fifty 90 plus degree days that year and I rejoiced. So far this year there have been 52 and I’m uncomfortable.

Is it me? What’s different this year? Is it because 2013 and 2014 weren’t as hot? Did my Boston bred body reboot? These last couple of days, I thought my car thermometer was broken because it read 90 every damn time of the day and night. That was until yesterday when it read 93. And today it read 95!  I was actually annoyed to see a group of high-school students, during only the second day of the new school year, practicing band OUTSIDE, laughing and dancing. How dare they look fresh as little daisies while I look like a wilted brown-eyed susan, bent over in the heat.  And I’m tired of seeing skinny, good-looking young women in cute sundresses and Michael Kors sandals. I need for them to need to cover up.

Every morning for what seems like a month, as I sip my morning coffee (ice coffee), I hear the words “hazy, hot and humid” coming from the local TV meteorologist. I’ll give it to her, she has tried to change it up a bit lately by using expressions like, “trending above normal” and “summer continues” but we all know it just means it’s hot as hell. As a matter of fact, there was a fire in a field nearby a couple of days ago and the combination of the heat and red glow made me wonder if I’d slipped, bumped my head and now… Anyway, I’m not tolerating it well. I feel as if someone soaked a lead x-ray apron in water and threw it on my chest. The only consolation is that I’m not the only one. I’ve seen other folks huffing and puffing as they push grocery carts to their cars in supermarket parking lots under the blazing sun. And I was behind a man in FedEx today whose shirt back was completely wet with sweat even though the AC was on full blast. Earlier this afternoon,  I was stopped by the neighborhood dog walker who told me he’d never understood the term “hot as blue blazes” until today. Speaking of the neighborhood, I’m just moving in this week, this incredibly hot week, and three of my boxes collapsed  from the sweat on my hands. I’ve already written off the 3 new neighbors who asked, “Is it hot enough for ya?”

The forecast is for cooling in the next few days, a quick change which is good, I guess.  I thought I’d remembered there being a transitional period in August, a cooling off period, a winding down time between pool days and apple picking days. But that’s probably a memory created by classroom posters. When I was in elementary school I more than likely I went to the first day in shorts gratefully washed by my mother just like every other kid in my grade. So, right now I’ll wait with heavy, congested breath for the cold front I hear tell is about to pass through. Now watch, I’ll post this and tomorrow I’ll be looking for my sweater.

How about where you are? Has it been devilish hot where you live? Do you see a change in recent weather patterns?

Why You Won’t Be Seeing Us Real Soon

 It’s been a little while since I posted.  I have a few pieces in the pipeline so I  hope to post more during the summer. But there’s been a lot going on around here, the best of which was finishing the first draft of my first novella, “Ties That Bind”. I ‘ll talk about that experience on my other blog,  BusyWritingLife.

The other stuff is mainly around family, some good, some bad which are the subjects I’ll be sharing this summer. And speaking of which;

 

Yeah, Disney, about that…..

Wikimedia

We’ve been thinking about doing a family vacation this summer. There are young’ens in our clan so, naturally, when I threw out the vacation idea, Disneyland was mentioned by their parents as a possibility. I grew up in the counter-culture days and tend to think of myself as a social reform type so at the Disney suggestion the only response that came to my mind was, as one of the other family members says, “hashtag, I can’t”. But I was pointedly reminded by one daughter that as I was bringing her up, I pushed Disney like a Oxycontin dealer.

I admit it’s true. I enjoyed a lot of Disney movies, both as a child and as an adult. When I became a mother, the memories of feelings I had as a child for Snow White and Cinderella overcame my supposed highly developed social sense. My emotional need was to share those memories with my kids. I wanted them to give them what I thought I’d gotten out of the films. It was a knee-jerk response to parenthood. And, truth be told, I continued to get with the Disney program. As a matter of fact, The Little Mermaid was a special bonding experience for me and that same daughter. Her favorite song was Part of That World and mine was Under the Sea. Some things never change…

…And some things do. So, I changed my mind. Sue me. (Oh that’s right, daughter can because she’s an attorney now. Take that Arial!)  It was right around the Aladdin years that I noticed a change in my attitude toward Disney films. I was starting to become bothered by the things like historical contexts and language. Why is a princess using an expression like, “at your service?” And why a princess? Why always a princess?! By the time Pocahontas was released I was suspicious of all the basic Disney themes. (Actually during one point in that movie, in a theater, my sister and I both stood and shouted, ‘Oh c’mon!”)  I started questioning what it was I actually did get from those old “classics” in terms of gender roles, class distinctions and cultural perspective. I realized that as an evolved, modern, African-American woman, I needed a new cartoon vision that matched my mood. (Haha.) That’s when I started boring my kids with “responsible” TV shows like Captain Planet. We stopped going to Disney movies and instead I brought home videos like Ferngully, The Last Rainforest”. The only Disney distributed movie I let into the house was The Brave Little Toaster. It scared the shit out of them and began the “reading era” of their childhood. As a result, when they criticize me about that time, as they still do, it’s in very literate terms.

Did I do the right thing by casting a jaundice eye on Disney and sharing my misgivings with my kids or was I the throw back hippie hypocrite they feel I was? I’m not sure but I’m still going to take a pass on dunking the grandkids in the Disney kool-aid as our summertime fun. Maybe I’ll suggest a hiking trip in the mountains instead. Now, please excuse me. We have a birthday party this afternoon and I have to go wrap an Elsa’s Frozen Palace play set.

I Can Get There From Here

Things got out of hand in February
Things got out of hand in February

It’s been a while since I’ve posted. I didn’t mean for it to be so long. I’d been doing so well too. I’d been reading and writing everyday. I’d gotten up to going three days a week to my library “office”. I was going to my writers group meetings regularly and loving it. I’d even started taking on the WP daily prompts, not to publish but just as an exercise. The last one I wrote was the 2/22  “Seconds….describe your most satisfying meal”. I wrote the description with a sharpened literary sensibility and developed a grandiose plan for pairing it with a recipe for the soup I described.

But then the weight of February fell on me and stopped me in my tracks for a while. The photo is real. Things got out of hand in February. I had to get the tax papers together. I use the word “together” loosely. (On April 16th of every year I erase all memory of how much work goes into tax preparation so I’m always surprised and inadequately organized the following year.)

And the vacuum broke. Like most appliances made these days, my vacuum’s too cheap to take to be  repaired. (Take it where?) I can’t afford another cheap one so I took mine apart and put it back together. It was time consuming and I don’t know which one of the many parts was the problem but it works now.

And of course I had to make the choice between writing and the mounting number of projects related to  the imminent appearance of our newest family member.  I have to keep the phone on even in the library so I don’t miss The Call. That decision was a no-brainer since the little person and I have been waiting for this baby for months. (There’s been talk of forming a girl group.)

And I can’t find my pants.

This kind of complexity and confusion in everyday details used to frustrate me. In the past I’d give up on trying to write everyday if I missed a few days and blame myself for lack of organization. We all know that life throws curve balls.  The challenge for me has always been accepting when the curve balls don’t roll down my straight path of plans. I still make plans but I don’t set them in stone anymore. These days I’m confident  I can successfully make my way on my journey because I don’t feel as though I have to take any particular route. I just need to pick the right one for the right time. I finally get that it’s great to be efficient but it’s also great to be attentive, appreciative and active in the right now.  It’s March now and I’m going to post that recipe today even though it feels like it’s a month late. I’m going to add the beautiful description with it too… And I’m ready to go when I get The Call, but I’ll have to wear a skirt.

Please go to the Heaven’s Menu page for my Pasta Fagioli Soup recipe.

Butterflies Ain’t Free

How should I tag this post, who knew, never again, don’t let this happen to you?

IMG_1290That little person I play with 4 to 5 times a week told me she likes butterflies. We’ve laughed and pointed when we’ve seen them in the park, flying their colors while weaving back and forth in the air. So who would have blamed me for thinking a trip to the Butterfly Pavilion at the National Museum of Natural History would be a treat for both us. It seemed to me that seeing live butterflies up close and personal would be big fun and educational.

You have to understand, that person doesn’t take trips easily. She can be squeamish and demanding. It turned out she needed TWO pairs of arms to reassure her that the museum was a good idea, because of the butterflies, which she likes. She decided she would be happy to go although she seemed to have some reservations.

IMG_1286So off we went yesterday to the exhibit (I thought it was last week but then I realized it was just that yesterday seemed like it was a week long.) Anyway, I paid and we went. We had to go through the butterfly airlock. It’s to keep the special butterfly air and the butterflies from escaping into the rest of the museum. We emerged from the airlock into the beautiful terrarium-like butterfly space where they have lovely blooming plants and pretty butterflies everywhere. That was supposed to be the major pay-off for packing up all that person’s belongings and walking them and her 2 long city blocks while she gasped for breath in the cold wind. I wanted to see the look of wonder and joy on that face. I had my camera open and ready. Don’t get me wrong, the little person seemed interested, amused even, by the butterflies as long as the weren’t too close and she could look at them from someone else’s shoulders. Remember the special butterfly air I mentioned? They keep it special by blowing mist into the room through pressure hoses. That person didn’t like the mist at all. It came on every three minutes. So the butterflies heard three minutes of screaming followed by three minutes of laughing followed by three minutes of screaming followed by three minutes of laughing. You get the idea. For the sake of the butterflies we cut our visit short. (Do butterflies have ears?)

2011 Natures Best Photography mnh.si
2011 Natures Best Photography mnh.si

After that the little person found the room with all the big color photos of animals. She enjoyed that much more (even though she swore to me she likes butterflies). She ran in her silver pretty shoes from photo to photo identifying the animals. There was a Ba and a Ca and even a Ma and she knew them all. There was a bench where she could also sit and watch a little animal TV, an activity she knows well. She felt very comfortable in that exhibit so who cares that we could have seen it for free at anytime beside the very early morning appointment we had to keep with the butterflies.

I’m going to go ahead and call the trip a success. That little person took a really, really long nap when we got back home, I’ve dropped the big idea of dressing up as the Easter Bunny and that special mist did wonders for my complexion.

IMG_1304

Seriously, the Butterfly Pavilion is a fabulous place (http://www.butterflies.si.edu). One of the volunteers told me that many kids react to the noise of the environment maintenance system so if you want to take a little one, consider their sensitivity level before you go. The Smithsonian museums are unbelievable national resources. I’m having the best time checking them out. 

Jingle All The Ways???

Sometimes it's hard to stay focused at Christmastime
Sometimes it’s hard to stay focused at Christmastime

It’s a hallmark (pun intended) of this season to say “I can’t believe it’s holiday time again already!” I know it always seems to come around more than once a year to me! Maybe it’s because I’ve gone through a lot of them and I’ve done Christmas (which is my family’s tradition) in every way possible.

It started after I had my first kid and I wanted to teach her the true meaning of the holiday. It was one of the many mistakes I made while child rearing. Anyway, in my search for a way to “authentically” celebrate the holiday I’ve tried a lot of different approaches , the first of which was,

IMG_1096The Purist Way: It involved a real tree with only wooden ornaments and strung berries. I wanted to put candles on it but my husband grumbled something about our homeowners insurance. I wrapped our homemade gifts in brown paper. I insisted that the only bought gifts were given to the poor. My family didn’t see the virtue in this approach, especially my kids who were in elementary school at the time. Everybody ridiculed me for months which prompted me the following year to try,

The All In Way: That was the year I got a six-foot tree and decorated it with so much stuff it took until February 1st to take it down. I also watched as many holiday movies as I could, left my car radio on the all-Christmas-music-all-the-time station, tailored the gifts to the individual recipients and baked like it was my job. Strangely, it was also the year I suffered from a severe feeling of emptiness and had to be prescribed an anti-depressant. My mood was stable but very serious after that which led me the following year to,

The Religious Way: I refused to put up a tree and limited the decorations to an antique crèche on the mantle. I researched the history of all the secular traditions associated with Christmas. I “shared” the information with my family at the annual Christmas breakfast and I admonished them for not keeping to the true spirit. I then led them in a very long prayer while the food got cold. That was the year they banished me to a tray table in the corner and threw my gifts at me.  After that I lost my mind one year and tried,

IMG_1099The Martha Stewart Way: I maxed out a credit card and risked divorce trying to look like someone I’m not.  Now I have pink and purple plaid ornaments and oh so tasteful bows along with a hostess gown, matching apron and oven mitts that are useless. I started an eBay box with them.

There were other years and other approaches; the Give Till it Hurts year, the Who Cares year etc., but now I just go with the flow.  I’m grateful when I get to see another holiday so I try to enjoy them. I’m grateful for the family members still here and I love the excitement in the eyes of the new members who have joined us recently around the tree. I want for nothing and use the last few days leading up to the holiday as an excuse to drink hot chocolate and eat cookies, guilt-free.

So, here are my very best wishes for a very merry Christmas to you and yours if it’s your tradition.  If it’s not, a very happy, blessed New Year.

BTW– There are some gift idea ads I haven’t seen on TV this year. I miss them for their entertainment value and I wonder what happened to them. Where are the ads for; the Ov Glove, Isotoners, Chia Pet and Norelco (with Santa riding the razor)? Have you seen them?

Super Moon Mania

Super moon maniaI’m so excited about tonight’s full moon. If you read this blog regularly you know that I have what I call “moon mania”. (I’m a moon maniac?) And as you’ve probably heard, this month’s full moon occurs on the perigee side which makes it a super moon! At the bottom of this post is a link to a great article on NASA’s website about it. Anyway, I’ve got my seat and snacks picked out for the viewing. (Who am I kidding, I’d have snacks moon or no moon.) I’ll be there from 7:30pm on to take advantage of the unusual sight.

There’s something special about the moon for me (Please see my other moon posts). Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m a nature lover exactly. I don’t have an affinity for tree hugging, although a hike in the wood would go a long way in trimming off the snacks. No, it’s that I’m a wonder lover. It’s the wonder of the moon that affects me. It makes me mindful and sometimes it’s a struggle for me to be mindful. The moon makes me mindful that we live on a big ball made of elements that are hot and cold and wet and dry and hard and soft. It makes me mindful that the ball that we call our planet shifts and rotates. And that it is moving around with other planets in a largeness and a vastness that I can’t begin to imagine. It makes for a mindful perspective.

So, I hope you’ll join me tonight in mindful meditation on the wonderful moon. Let’s sit in gratitude snacking on Milky Ways and Moon Pies.

(http://science.nasa.gov/sciencenews/scienceatnasa/2012/02may_supermoon)