Archive for the ‘Musings’ Category

I have been visiting a nursing home each day in a nearby town. Just before Thanksgiving, in support of the residents, there were tables lined with many theme-styled gift baskets/hampers. Sports, pets, wines, spas, games and lottery were some of the themes. A person could buy tickets and then put their stubs in a tin can associated with the basket. The staff would pull the winning tickets on December 16th.

So, I thought I’d show my support. Bought a string of tickets and plunked them down in the various tins. Baskets that appealed to me.

Well, December 16th rolls around and I am making my daily visit. The receptionist sees me and exclaims, “Mary, you won!”

“TWO baskets!”

Funny, it just happened to be one of those days. God must have thought I needed a little pick-me-up.

One was a “Pot of Gold.”It had fifty scratch-off lottery tickets.

The other was a “Family Games” hamper.

I brought them home and under the Christmas tree they went. Thought it would be fun to have my adult children open them on December 25th.

Christmas morning arrives. After exchanging gifts, we all furiously scratched the fifty tickets. Some small winnings here and there. No big jackpots.

No one seemed interested in the “Family Games” basket so I opened it later in the day.

Table tennis, whiffle balls and more!

Wait, one box contained a juggling kit. Something new to learn! To hell with the on-line Latin course!

Donum cape! Seize the gift!

But what’s wrong with the following photo?

I cannot lie. The word “video” on the box didn’t capture my attention. Too intent on the contents.

I opened the box and noticed a few things not quite right. The leathery balls in bright, primary colors seemed to almost flake in my hands. I quickly put them back in the box before they disintegrated. There are already too many messes to clean in the house.

The other thing was that there was a musty smell coming from the box.

There was also a video. A video??? It’s been ages since we have had a VCR in this home.

So, yes, this particular box in the basket was quite dated.

Was I disappointed? No. I thought it was funny.

I totally understand how this happened. These were all gift baskets donated by friends and families of nursing home residents. While some folks went out and purchased items I am quite certain a few donors looked around their houses, attics and garages to happily contribute/compile a theme basket.

There are some lessons here.

If you are hanging on to something?

Let it go! Let it go! Let it go!

It does not even have to be a material, physical thing.

Give your gifts while they are fresh. Current. Useful. While you are fresh. Current. Useful.

Do not save your gift giving for a rainy day. Or a rainy year. Or a rainy decade.

It might not serve any purpose.

There is no time like the present. A purpose driven present.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy new year! A purpose driven 2023!

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Hello, there! It’s been awhile since I’ve written. My apologies. Started many times-so much to say! But, oh, that pesky side-tracking business.

Today I must! I will keep it short and simple.

This season and day can be difficult for folks. I know, not exactly a news flash.

Many families are experiencing the loss of a loved one. Some have plans that will not materialize.

Due to finances. Or a sudden bout with Covid. Foul weather. Illnesses. A host of other reasons.

Sometimes things do not work out as planned. And it can be utterly disappointing.

Instead of wishing away the day (because, in fact, by doing this you are wishing a day of YOUR life away) take the time to reflect or begin a new tradition.

Or just peacefully be.

Each and every day is truly a blessing. The older I become the more I realize it.

Don’t squander the gift.

Today, I wish you all a peaceful day.

Catch my hug.

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So, I recently began my fifty-ninth year on the planet. As my birthday approached I pondered on how to auspiciously mark the occasion.

What I did was this. I donated fifty-eight items. Things that I already had in my possession. I know it sounds big but it’s not. For me, anyway. And, going out on a limb here, probably not for you.

I have a lot going on at the moment, so probably putting more pressure on myself via lofty goals/challenges has a tinge of masochism to it. But that is how I roll. Remember when I did the 100 book a year challenge? Yeah, that was sick. That had me reading the last book on New Year’s Eve!!

Routinely, I cull the inventory in the home. I’m pretty good about it. But there is always more. When different charitable organizations (who pick up at your door!) ask for donations, I usually say, “Yes.” Because then I am totally committed. So, when they contacted me just before my birthday, it was a well-timed call.

I like giving. And I don’t like clutter. I also don’t want to leave messes for folks to clean up in my absence.

For my birthday, I gathered books already read, games not being played, supplies not utilized, clothes not being worn, vases, dishes, kitchen items and more. All things that someone else can use and enjoy.

Totally met my number of fifty-eight. Surpassed it actually. Easier than one would think.

Enjoy your weekend. Keep safe and healthy.

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Well, tomorrow is my birthday. And although tomorrow is not promised to any of us, if I wake up to greet another day then I will be fifty-eight years old. I did the math. It’s true. It feels strange to write that. The fifty-eight part.

I actually took a minute thinking about what I want for the special day.

I do not want cake. And I do not need candles to make wishes.

My preferred method of making wishes is blowing on dandelions that have gone to seed.

A month or so ago, I was chatting with the groundskeeper on the front lawn of a local church where I volunteer. Small world. His late Uncle was my English teacher in high school.

In the midst of the conversation I crouched down, plucked a dandelion and made my wishes. And in the process, most likely made this guy’s future work a bit more difficult by spreading more weeds.

He laughed and said, “I just knew you were going to do that.”

Now, I didn’t even know I was going to do that.

But I do it often.

When I visit my father’s grave there is always an errant dandelion.

I could look at it like, “Mary, you need to do a better job of tending this area.”

Or like I actually do, “This is a moment of solitude, conversation with my Dad and a time for wishes.”

Common folklore that has been attached to dandelions. In addition to granting wishes, many people believe that dandelion seeds will carry your thoughts and dreams to loved ones when you blow them into the air.

So, my birthday wish is to send my thoughts and dreams to my loved ones. Wishing only good health and time that is worry free.

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A couple of years ago I was perusing the newspapers. In the span of eight days three deaths were reported. Two of the men were one time notables from my small state. The third was a celebrity who was well known in the United States and beyond.

Here goes.

The man who married me passed away. No, not my husband.

It was the judge who married us thirty-six years ago at an intimate gathering which took place in my aunt’s living room on a chilly November afternoon.

He also happened to be the Chief Justice of Rhode Island’s Supreme Court. Due to ethics violations he would resign from that position in 1993.

So, this is what happens when someone who has experienced a state of disgrace dies. The crimes and misdemeanors are unearthed and once again splashed across the front page.

Their death appears to be a perfect segue into a rehashing of past sins.

In that same newspaper, as one slowly thumbs their way toward the back pages where the obituaries reside, another story awaits. An entirely different rendition. Parentage, place of birth, education, family, hobbies, organizations and religious affiliation. A listing of beloved survivors left to mourn the loss. Nowhere is there even a whisper of any wrong-doing. Nor should there be. The family pays for the obituaries. By the line!

That same week another Rhode Islander, of a good age, also died. A fellow who embezzled, destroyed evidence and ended up serving prison time. That was back in the 1980s. But we were reminded (although we already remembered) of his dastardly deeds when we unfurled the newspaper that landed on our front step. Informing us of his passing. When we finally make it to the back, once again where the obituaries rest, another description emerges. He was a World War II volunteer at the age of eighteen. Had a strong faith and believed in supporting Catholic education. Was a community leader. Worked until he was ninety-two years old. Missed by so many. Is this even the same person described on the front page?

Yes, it is.

Front page. Back page.

One more death occurred during that span of eight days. This one received non-stop national news coverage. It was a tragic accident. He was a sports superstar. A breaker of records. In the prime of his life. A loving husband and father of four. Beloved by fans and celebrities alike. His front page story did not allude to any misdeeds. Not one.

It only focused on the tragedy and loss. The shock that his family, friends, fans and others felt. Story upon story of his accomplishments filled newspaper and magazine pages. His role as a loving father and concerned community member.

He also was accused of a crime many years ago. A very public apology and a cash settlement. Yet, when that was even mentioned, tweeted or discussed it was immediately squashed. People got ugly and threats were unleashed. Fury. People were afraid to talk or write about it.

Why? Was it the tragic circumstances of the death? The age of the deceased? The national stage versus the local stage?

None of us are saints. All of us are sinners. There is absolutely no doubt about that. But no one should be on a pedestal. We all have our own front and back page.

Each of those three men already paid for their crimes-literally and figuratively.

If the front page is a listing of failings then shouldn’t it apply to all? Shouldn’t it be a fair and honest reporting across the board? No matter the level of stage presence?

Or why don’t we just delete that front page and enjoy the scrubbed up version. Hidden somewhere on the back page.

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You can see that I am cleaning house. I have 118 unfinished drafts in the WordPress folder. So this one is a few years old. But important messages don’t change. 

There have been a couple of deaths lately which have me thinking about things. Yes, about the afterlife. But also about the life experience on earth.

If I had that special wand I would make it all just slow down a little bit. I know that is not reality. But I haven’t always been a fan of reality either.

So, I will be writing, I think, on the subject of these deaths.

My sister-in-law’s father died in March. Without going into an old family history thing I need to explain that before the two families became one, Jim had already been a friend to our family. The friendship goes back generations in Ireland. Neighboring farms, ancestral village and all that.

One thing I am a big fan of is family and friends. I was tickled that the children of two old friends would marry each other.

So, I was a little sad at one more member of the old guard passing.

My sister-in-law has been sharing little stories about her Dad. And when I read them I smile. Or my eyes fill.

Here is one. This is important.

After Jim’s funeral we were gathered for a brunch at a nearby hotel.

It was lovely. Patty (my sister-in-law) spoke about her Dad. In a nutshell it goes something like this. She said he always repeated stories that she already knew. So this one time, she asked him to tell her something she didn’t know. It caused a pause.  In a sort of a “What do you mean?” moment. Anyway, he shared a childhood experience. About returning to Ireland as a young boy with his mother. His father saw them off at the harbor in New York.

Okay, my eyes were filling. Again. Like they did in the church. I know. I know. He was nearly ninety. But someone lost their dad. Doesn’t matter how old. I kept thinking happy thoughts to dry up the tears as I didn’t want anyone thinking I was a snuffling, secret love child of this man.

The important thing of the story is this. We tell the same old stories because they’re comfortable. They might be triggered by surroundings, experiences or holidays. We know our partner’s stories. We know our friends’ stories. We know the stories of our children.

But we really don’t know it all. And it is up to us. To ask the right questions. So, it’s not the same old stories.

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A memory of my time in New Delhi, India.

One day, when I first began walking in this particular park, I noticed groups of folks. They were mostly men and just lounging around on the hills or on the flat areas. Some were even catching some shut-eye.

Apparently, they did not have the need to stroll around the park trying to shed a few pounds. Like me.

pakistan1

My first thought was that they were Pakistani men.

Then I thought, “Oh, Mary, what do you really know? You knew a little until you actually arrived in India and then realized you hardly know anything at all.”

There are so many different people in India it’s enough to boggle the mind.

Anyway, whoever they were, good on them for just enjoying the afternoon.

A few days later, I was on a three hour walk around Delhi and its embassies. Ended up on a side street by the park. As I was strolling toward my destination (the park) I noticed crowds of people on the sidewalk near an embassy to my right.

Lo and behold, it was the High Commission of Pakistan.

So, if I were them, and waiting all day on a visa, I would most definitely go across the street and lounge around in the park.

I know. You are probably like, “Who cares?”

My point is that I saw something on the sidewalk that I hadn’t seen in a very long time.

pakistan2

This is a terrible photograph. My apologies. Cameras are not allowed near the embassies so I didn’t want to get busted.

So let me explain it to you.

One man had set up shop on the sidewalk. His customers were sitting on stools. And he was pecking away at a typewriter!

I had to do a double take. I couldn’t even swear that my kids would be able to correctly identify a typewriter in the wild. But I could.

I was curious so had to do a little research.

People who live in India but want to visit their family in neighboring Pakistan need a visa. The only way to do that is making the long trek to Delhi in order to apply for it. Folks from far away villages. Illiterate men and women.

This fellow arrives, who pays a fee to lease space on the sidewalk, and types the visa information for his customers. Page by page.

In this modern age of computers and mobile phones I was truly transfixed. Totally taken back in time and truth be told I appreciated it. All of it.

What’s old is new. What’s old is old.

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I learn something new every day. And I am aware.

My husband is amazed at the things I see and hear. “How can you be so aware of some things and yet……?”

Could be big stuff but most often it’s just the little things.

Like I was curious about some parsley I planted in my front garden which is usually reserved for flowers. It was not a thought out plan. I just ran out of space in my pots. Plunked it into the bed. This plant actually flourished. More so than any parsley plant in the backyard or the patio pots.

Life is truly a mystery.

I had a look at the mound of green and noticed a bunch of caterpillars. Upon closer observation I saw them chomping away at the leaves. Going at a good clip. Sort of eating like I do when I have a favorite meal in front of me.

These suckers are Parsley Caterpillars aka Black Swallowtail and they stink. Literally. If provoked they instantly release two bright orange antennae. Like a little snake with a forked tongue. Accompanied by a rotten smell. Yep, these little guys cause a stink. That’s what keeps them safe from predators.

Don’t worry. I didn’t send them to an early demise. I appreciate a good pollinator just like the next guy. They are safe and sound. And so is the parsley plant.

The moral of the story is this. Cause a stink, stay protected and eat your greens.

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A couple of years we were having a visit and some drinks on our friend’s docked boat in the harbor. As it grew darker there was a bit of a commotion around the corner of the pier. An old beat up fishing boat captained by a couple of guys who were struggling to get it into the Bay. Hitting the pillars. Back and forth. Curses and clamor. Think parallel parking woes in reverse for a visual. Laughs and apologies for the foul language when they noticed us there. The struggle was, I’d say, because they had their fair share of drinks already in them. That’s my opinion anyway. It was comical.

I asked my friend, “Where on earth are they going at this time of night?”

He said, “They’re fishing for shrimp.”

I countered, “At night?”

“Yes, the shrimp are burrowed in the sand and these guys will cast a big chain. The disturbance will cause the shrimp to rear their tiny little heads to see what’s going on and then they’re caught in the net. Bam, that’s it.”

“What happens then? Are they sold? Are they tasty?”

“Nope, they are not tasty at all. Not good shrimp. This is stuff that gets sold at the dock to be bought by local Asian restaurants.”

What???

That just raised more questions in my mind.

He continued, “So, Mary, remember this. Curiosity kills more than the cat.”

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Transition

I enjoy the four seasons of the Northeast. I honestly do. It was something I always missed while living away from New England.

But I’ve never been a fan of the actual transition to Autumn. I love this time of year once I am immersed in it and appreciate the beauty. That transition, tho’? It’s for the birds.

Literally.

The osprey heads for its long journey down to South America and I just think, “Yuck.”

Or, “Please don’t leave yet.”

In the past I associated the Fall with my children going back to school or the summer visits from family and friends ceasing. It used to be sad for me. It doesn’t mean I am happy now but the events are different. They change with age and life.

I do wonder what happened to the summer. Where did it go? How did Autumn sneak up on me? And why so quickly? What did I accomplish?

Recently, I saw a meme, “Summer really clocked out at the end of its shift.”

Seriously.

These early sunsets. Leaves starting to swirl. The need for jackets first thing in the morning. Getting stuck behind school busses. Adults claiming Halloween as theirs. Folks preparing their snowbird schedule. The ugly heads of politics reared and ready for battle. Consumerism on steroids.

Ah, the fun of it all!

I will look beyond these things and find the beauty.

Eventually, people will gather around tables and give thanks.

It just happens so abruptly.

Wishing you a weekend of slow transition.

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