Archive for the ‘Women’ Category

Happy Father’s Day.

My dad died five years ago and I think of him all the time. Many folks are experiencing the first Father’s Day without their Dad. It’s tough. And a lot of us know exactly how you are feeling today. Sending big hugs.

One of the many things I miss about Dad is our frequent conversations about family history and genealogy.

I became obsessed with genealogy more than a decade ago. Mine and anyone else’s family history! I was completely fascinated with so many narratives. Reading old newspapers and veering off into the stories of strangers. As a result I learned. So much. Still learning.

Came across this story during my research.

It’s about a woman named Charity Palmer Southgate who lived in Falmouth, Pendleton County, Kentucky. Not a story you hear every day in the African-American narrative.

Most of the Black population of Falmouth descends from Charity. I was fortunate to correspond with one of her descendants who is an African-American playwright and author.

I copied the following excerpt from a history site.

The story of Charity Southgate is based on information compiled by Pendleton County Circuit Clerk Marvin Sullivan.

The story starts about 1806 or 1807 in Louden County, Va., where a woman named Patsy gave birth to a daughter.

Patsy, whose last name was spelled various ways in legal documents as Parmer, Palmour and Palmer, had been living in the home of her brother-in-law Robert Foster.

The birth was treated as a family disgrace. Not only was the woman apparently not married, but the father of her child was apparently a black, a house servant of Foster.

The family moved the child, named Charity, to Bardstown when the girl was 2 or 3 years old. She lived there with the family of a man named Asher Pullen until about 1822 when Jonathan Reid appeared, armed with a power of attorney papers signed by Philip L. Palmour. The letter authorized Reid to take possession of the girl, which he did. He moved her to Falmouth where she was placed in the custody of Samuel Wilson.

The girl, who apparently had not been treated as slave up to that point, was treated as a slave by Wilson. With the aid of a friend, Joshua Powell, Charity filed suit in 1824 asking the court to declare her a free woman.

That began a 26-year court battle with several legal issues raised.

Among the legal issues was the question of exactly who her parents were. If the accounts of second-hand witnesses were true about the birth to a white woman than the issue was raised as to whether Charity was born a free woman because her mother was white.

It was fairly common at the time for children to be born with a white slave owner as the father and a black slave woman as the mother. In those cases the child was usually considered a slave because the mother was black. But the situation was reversed in Charity’s case.

If Charity was legally a slave, there was the question of testimony that her “owner or guardian” had declared Charity was to be held as a slave only until she reached the age of 28.

While the court battle waged, Charity apparently was sold twice – once to Andrew S. Hughes and then by him to Martin Willett. Records also mention a daughter, Lucy, who was sold as a slave.

Charity apparently had another daughter by a black man and a son by a white man. Then she apparently married a black man named Allen Southgate, with whom she had several children.

Those relationships explain the differences in the way some of her children are listed on a 1850 Pendleton County census.

In that census her oldest daughter living at home, Rebecca, 25, is listed as black; the oldest son, Elsey Hughes, 23, is listed as a mulatto like his mother; while the other children, all with the last name of Southgate, are listed as black like their father, Allen Southgate, who was identified as a 45 year old laborer. Charity at the time was 42 years old.

The Southgate children were listed as Charlotte, 20; Amy, 18; Lucinda, 16; Polley Ann, 14; John A., 12; Abraham, 10; Edmund, 6; and Minerva, 4.

Also listed as living with the Southgate family in 1850 was a white man, John Morgan, who was 70.

The records are confusing but the courts apparently eventually declared Charity a free woman. She died in the spring of 1868.

Next two paragraphs were written by her descendant.

Charity was born a free woman of color (she was sold into slavery (illegally) at the age of 16 by someone representing her white maternal family. (Charity was the daughter of a white woman and a man of color).

Charity (with the help of a white attorney friend) pleaded her “legal free status” for years until she won. She won the case because it was proven she was the daughter of a white woman in Virginia. (Not that she was simply half white). Charity knew that children of color born to white women, by law, were considered free because white women were free. Charity got her freedom back because she was specifically the daughter of a white woman.

Very interesting case.

History matters and while much of it can be painful every one needs to learn it.

Right?

There is, in my state, a curriculum on African-American history that was created by a commission five years ago. Just sitting there waiting.
The curriculum is not just about slavery although that is how the story begins for African-Americans. I have written, as others have, to my Representative in the House, asking for support. It is just a matter of providing legislation to authorize RIDE (Department of Education) to include this. The Representative has already responded and said she has taken the issue up with another House colleague. A woman of color and a Providence teacher. Will keep me posted.

History matters.

It is really difficult to hear so many ugly things being said in this current environment. I am here to tell you (no surprise) that racism is definitely out there. Make no bones about it. Everywhere. North. South. East. West. So there needs to be a change.

But can racist adults change their way of thinking? One person told me there is absolutely no way racists can change. 100% guaranteed me. I don’t know if that’s true but….

If not-then how do we combat this? So people do feel safe. So their children feel safe. So they feel like valued members of their communities.

Maybe, just maybe, teaching every child in our Public School System the history, trials, tribulations and contributions of African-Americans will allow those little people to grow and embrace (not just tolerate) our differences. And be adults who appreciate inclusion and not divisiveness.

Here’s hoping!

It’s definitely worth a shot.

Note: My support of the curriculum was as a result of listening to the voice of someone who was on the commission that created the curriculum.

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How can I (or anyone) take action, to help my fellow countrymen/women, in a positive way?

First of all we need to be honest. And that is really, really hard.

Racism is alive and well in the United States. I don’t have to tell you that. Just turn on the television.

Someone asked me, at a socially distanced barbeque, what percentage of Americans I thought are actually racist. I quickly pulled out a 99% and I included myself in that number. The person who asked the question-along with my husband-did not agree with me.

Maybe I should use the word biased and not racist. Everyone has some bias. Not our fault. It’s in our politics. In our growing up years. In our society. Inherently. We don’t even notice it.

There lies the rub. We don’t even notice it.

We need to notice it. In order to create change we need to take notice and start questioning.

Not too long ago there were only white males in power or positions of authority. We (white people) didn’t even think about it. Until we did. And made changes.

I will share a story from my beloved father’s own mouth. He wasn’t telling me out of pride.

My mother, a bright lady, was a Registered Nurse. She skipped a grade in elementary school, graduated high school and was soon in the nursing program at a Rhode Island hospital. She loved her job and her nursing friends. I can still remember one evening, while I was upstairs in bed, hearing them while they laughed and smoked. I think that is probably the first time I also became aware of someone who was gay. One of Mom’s nurse friends.

Mom worked on the first heart/lung machine in Rhode Island. She also taught others. Pretty cool stuff.

My Dad was always so very proud of her. Almost to his dying day, if he was at a Drs. appointment-hers or his, he always mentioned that she was a nurse.

In the 1960s, when my parents married, three kids quickly arrived on the scene.

So, back then, life gets a bit tricky. And my mom was going to have to quit or cut back hours.

Dad told me, that a male Doctor from the hospital actually called him on the telephone. Asking if Mom could still work. Dad nicely and respectfully told the Doctor that they had a growing family.

When I was listening to my Dad tell this story I was sort of shocked. My stomach kind of lurched. I felt terrible for my mom (although she did work as a nurse part-time for years before going full-time again) -that the decision was not really hers.

I appreciated my father sharing that with me across their dining room table. I also appreciated that in the 1950s and 1960s things looked a whole lot different for women.

Did my Dad’s views change as he got older? Of course, they did.

Why?

Because people took notice and things changed for women.

But how many years had passed before someone noticed?

Now is the time for all of us to pay attention and listen.

Most importantly it is time to take notice.

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I recently received a “Happy 11th Blogging Anniversary” message from “Wordpress.” It’s a yearly occurrence and it always causes me to reflect.

What has happened in the last year? What has changed in the past eleven years?

Quit smoking. Lost my dad. Moved half a dozen times. Embraced new friends. Explored exciting places. Mother-in-law passed away. Tried different hobbies. Accepted unique challenges. And so much more.

That’s sort of what I usually share each year with the folks who follow my blog. Of course, with a big thank you attached.

I had a lovely year. Wonderful Fall. Was looking forward to a lot of new things and celebrations in 2020.

This year’s 11th anniversary update was going to go something like this.

I was going to share that I started Weight Watchers the week before Christmas. Like who does that? Everyone knows that you wait until January 2nd! But I went with a friend.

That I completed my 2019 book challenge (100 books) on Goodreads. Like who does that? To be honest though, I was still reading the last pages on New Year’s Eve. But I did it. Won’t do it again.

I was going to share my attempt to sign up for a writing workshop this past Fall. The librarian said the class was full but took my name/email and said she would pass it along to the instructor for the Spring class. I then totally forgot about it. Apparently my request was buried deep in a pile somewhere until the workshop leader contacted me just before the new session began.

That I tried something for the very first time. Tamarind. I lived in Malaysia for five years and never tried it. Resided in India for a year and it never passed my lips. Just for the record- it’s delicious. Tastes like a date. Also supposed to be super good for you. I also tried Husk Cherries at a local outdoor Market. They look like cherry tomatoes in a husk but taste like pineapple. Amazing.

husk

I was going to share that I started a Women’s Walking Group. Because I met a woman in the deli line who was new to Rhode Island. Knew nothing about the area. I asked if she liked to walk. She said, “Yes, but I don’t like to walk alone.” I told her that we would accompany her after the holidays. She wrote her contact information on a piece of paper. I finished my shopping and when I reached in my pocket for the paper it was gone! Back into the grocery I go. Retraced my steps. and spied the paper on the floor in aisle 5. A seed was germinating. So I contacted a handful of women I knew to gauge interest in a group walk. Everyone responded happily. But then something got in the way after only one walk.

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That I did my first Alzheimer’s Walk with a group of friends. To raise funds for a cure. My friend has early onset Alzheimer’s and I pray that someday soon it will be eradicated.

alz

I was going to share that I am making an effort to explore locally. Walking, shopping and supporting small local businesses. I’ve lived away for so long I am appreciating being close to home. I am enjoying the peacefulness of nature every day.

That I am trying a new aluminum free deodorant. Keep you posted on that one.

I was going to share that I am trying to be more focused on reducing packaging. We are great recyclers and compost kitchen scraps but there is just so much more to be done. Maybe I should buy more in bulk. Like toilet paper.

That I was on Grand Jury duty for six weeks beginning in October and I would do it again in a hot minute. Murder, madness and mayhem. I would have paid them.

I was going to share that I saved up my pennies and finally made an appointment to see if I was a candidate for Lasik. I was scared stiff (these are my eyes!) but had the procedure. I no longer have to wear glasses for distance. I did not like having to be so careful with them. I could never get over the cost of prescription eye glasses (or the horrible decision making process in choosing the perfect specs. Absolute hell for a Libra)and wondered why one Italian company basically owned all the glass companies in the entire world. I am now back to the cheap cheetah cheaters (or any print I want) for the fine print.

That I was thinking of starting a community day or project to assist folks that needed yard work or simple chores done. Something I had the pleasure of being involved with when my eldest was in university. Within a month of me thinking this my town (and the neighboring town) hosted an event called “A Day of Giving. Like it read my mind. Like Facebook and the government. lol.

dayofgiving

I was going to share that I had a lovely Fall visit with my youngest in Burlington, Vermont. I happily attended two of her classes. One was taught by a professor who is also an author. Had coffee, a chat and got my book autographed. The title is <"Black Is The Body" by Emily Bernard. Visited a farm and hiked to the top of the hill to take in the glorious colors. Finally ambled out to the whale sculpture on the side of the highway. It’s called “Reverence” and symbolizes the frailty of the planet.

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That I had a fabulous time visiting my eldest in Oakland, California in January. Saw a wonderful play (Becky Nurse of Salem) at Berkeley Rep. Ate fabulous Ethiopian and Indian food -how I missed it! Watched “Queen and Slim” at a cool neighborhood cinema. The movie is “edge of your seat” material. Went on a hike with views of San Francisco Bay. Attended two law school classes. Visited Oakland Museum and enjoyed everything. Their “Burning Man” exhibit was fascinating.

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I was going to share that I had a business idea. Something fun and right up my alley.

That the youngest and I were going to Florida to visit my brother for Spring Break.

You’d be totally caught up with me.

Then everything changed. Went sideways very quickly.

We were beginning to hear about this virus. Cruise ships. Passengers stuck off the coast of Japan in quarantine. It still seemed so far away. Literally and figuratively. I start to think, “Is there anything good that actually comes out of a cruise?” Honeymooners throwing their new spouses over the side. Airborne illness again and again. People missing from the manifest. Then the big one. The
Corona Virus. But it’s not just the cruise lines.

My husband said, “Why go if you don’t have to?” Truth. Plans canceled.

The youngest, a junior at university and an RA, arrived home two days before Spring break was due to commence because she was ill. While at home her campus closed. On-line classes only.

The oldest, a law student in her final year and also a TA for undergraduates, had all campus courses canceled. Then the entire Bay area was directed to “Shelter in Place.” Graduation ceremony canceled. Even the Bar Exam pushed to the Fall. It’s unbelievable. Trying to figure what the best way (and when) to bring her back to Rhode Island.

Each and every day there is something new. We are glued to televisions, computers and phones. Looking at numbers, graphs and trends.

Schools, libraries, restaurants, businesses, cinemas, salons and more begin to close. Advised to stay close to home and stay far from others. If you are elderly do not leave home! Always ensure six feet between you and another person. Six feet apart or you’ll be six feet under! Practice social distancing. Wipe down packages. Wear masks.

It’s so, so, so surreal.

I received (and so did you) emails from every company I ever had contact with in the last two decades. Theaters, restaurants, utilities, schools, churches, cemeteries, genealogy sites, on-line shops, doctors, banks, car shops, etc. All letting me know the steps they are taking because of the Virus.

This week I had a look at some old blog postings from the Winter of 2018-2019 when I was listing/sharing ideas on ways to avoid the winter blues. I will update them, if necessary, and share them again for the days ahead. And any new ideas that pop into my head to combat the Virus blues.

You are now officially caught up.

We are all in the same boat. We are all in the house. We are all in this together. And we are all going to get through this.

gethrough

We are all just walking each other home.

Stay safe and thank you for reading!

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Finally I will write this one. It’s long and windy. Not windy like the wind. Like lots of bends. So strap yourselves in and enjoy the ride. Grab a glass of wine (or water) and sit back.

Sometimes I wonder why my head doesn’t explode with all of these stories just sittin’ and fermentin’ every day.

On Mother’s Day weekend I was up in Vermont. Met the youngest daughter at her university dorm room on the Friday and we loaded up the cars (hers and mine) with the boxes. Another school year in the books. Lol.

I planned to stay for the weekend. So Saturday and Sunday was ours. To do whatever we wanted.

Our destination was the Northeast Kingdom.

I had never heard of the Northeast Kingdom. It sounded like something out of a movie I probably wouldn’t even like. Shivers. But it is actually a region in the Northeastern part of Vermont-wriggling its way right up to the border with Canada. A natural, rugged beauty. Protected areas. Lots of wildlife. Not a ton of people.

Lake Willoughby, our final destination on this trip, was lovely. And empty since lake season had not quite arrived yet. We walked and stretched our legs. Had a good look around and took in the glory of nature.

Here are some of the photographs taken that day.

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We were soon on our way back to Burlington, Vermont. No rush. Enjoying the scenery and the company.

Like all long road trips sometimes a rest stop along the way is a necessity.

And like most small towns all over New England there isn’t much to distinguish one from the other. Quaint main streets, charming historical brick buildings, lovely flower arrangements hanging in baskets and window boxes. Always a train depot. Defunct or not. Mostly defunct.

So we stopped in a place called Lyndonville. Pulled in a parking spot curbside-in front of a cafe. Perfect. My daughter, Hannah, wanted a coffee or tea so we popped inside the shop.

I felt like I was walking onto a movie set. No joke. The place was filled with females with pointy ears and elaborate makeup. I didn’t know what to think. We were in the company of fairies. I honestly (no joke) started thinking to myself after a few minutes, “Fairies are real?”

Oh my gosh. Wait, are unicorns real??

Hannah orders her coffee and we ask the woman behind the counter what exactly is going on in the shop.

It was actually a “witches’ high tea.”

Okay. Not exactly what I was expecting but okay.

She went on to explain that they had hosted different workshops that day. She shares that the last event will be in a half hour. We ask for details.

It’s a spirit gallery with a psychic named Salicrow.

My daughter and I looked at each other questioningly like,”Want to?”

“Why not?”

It was currently 3:00pm and the event was scheduled to begin at 3:33. Not 3:30. But 3:33pm. Would end at 4:44pm.

I figured there would be safety in numbers instead of a one on one. So I’d be protected from any haints gone rogue.

You pay for a ticket and your number goes in the jar. Salicrow will pick out maybe five or six names in the hour. If your number is called then you up and sit in a chair next to her. The spirits will use her as a conduit for communication.

You could buy more than one ticket and increase your chances of being chosen. I declined.

We purchased our tickets.

Had some time to kill so we checked out the bookstore on the corner. Lovely spot. Crammed with lots of reading material. We scored. Hannah found a book that was on her “to read” list. The last one on the shelf! The author, Emily Bernard, is a professor at Hannie’s university and on her radar. As an aside- the title is “Black Is The Body.” Great read!

Then I found a children’s book I had wanted to read. Miss Rumphius. A story about making the world a little more beautiful. Also the only copy left on the shelf.

We both felt good and ambled back to the cafe.

Chairs were positioned in the rear of the cafe space. To be frank, it appeared to be mostly middle-aged white women. A few younger ones. There was one young fairy girl breast-feeding her baby who I assume was a next generation lil fairy. I think just two men were present.

So Salicrow is cool. I like her.

One of the guys asks at the beginning why we are starting at 3:33pm. She said numerology is her thing and gives some explanation. Doesn’t bother me none.

She starts pulling out names and has the person sit beside her and asks them who they want to hear from today-someone special or the strongest spirit?

A few ladies want to talk to Dad or Mom. I guess that’s normal. We will always want to hear from those who gave us life/a life-especially if we loved them. No matter how old we are.

She calls out another number and a young, blond woman with red-rimmed eyes takes the chair next to Salicrow. Obviously going through an emotional time.

Salicrow says something about the woman and why she is upset. I then realize that we (Hannah and me)are probably the only two people in the room who are not from the area. We don’t have a clue as to what/who she is talking about when she mentions the case of the school teacher. But we didn’t just fall off the turnip truck so quickly figured out that something very bad happened to a beloved local woman and that this blond woman was a cousin of the victim. Wanting to connect with her.

It was hard to watch. To see a young woman crying her eyes out because her cousin died as a result of a vile crime. Wanting to communicate with her-letting her know that she was advocating for her son (who was a two-year old, strapped into a car seat, during the actual crime). Yeah, none of that was easy to hear. Except that she was hearing what she wanted from her cousin’s spirit.

Once again, reminded about the unimaginable horrors inflicted upon women. The perpetrator (as I would later read) told police, “I wanted to get a girl.”

Let that sink in for a bit.

A woman living her life. Teaching at a private school. Caring for her little two-year old son. A good life.

And some evil person says, “I want to get a girl.”

I am sorry for the darkness. But I didn’t create it. I am just sharing it.

There is a whole lot of light in the world. But don’t forget that the darkness exists. We don’t need to be paranoid but we do need to be aware and vigilant. Be kind but be careful.

I told you this story was going to be longer than usual. Leaving off for now. Will finish this story in my next posting.

Bless you all. Stay safe.

 

 

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So many books. So little time. Still working on my 100 book challenge!

But it’s all good. I always learn something. Even if it’s not a great read.

Just recently I was reading another book about Edna St. Vincent Millay. I was, once again, reminded of her brilliance. And her care for women and human rights.

There was one quote of hers in this book that touched my heart.

Her beloved mother had just died. A friend was offering an expression of sympathy.

Vincent replied, “But there’s nothing to say. We had a grand time. But it’s a changed world. The presence of the absence is everywhere.”

Touched my heart.

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Woke up to snow on the car this morning. Not much. Just enough to remind a person not to get too cocky when it comes to New England weather.

Here is number 15 on the “We Will Get Through This Cold Spell” list.

Grab a pencil. Or a laptop. And start exploring/researching three places you would like to visit when the weather starts cooperating. Doesn’t have to be a big, expensive trip. Might be in your own backyard. It usually is.

Could be a hike. Or a restaurant. A farm. An ice cream stand. A festival. Wine trail. Antique show. A picnic area. Cheese trail.

Write them down and then post the list where you will see it. A visual reminder of sunny days! And let’s face it, we both know that lists are way better than our memory banks when it comes to actually bringing a thought to life. Getting it done!

I have TONS of things I’d love to do. Places to visit. I hope to get a few of them crossed off my spring/summer list.

Latest addition that I just have to share with you.

It’s a lavender farm. Only a few years old. Looks gorgeous. As lavender fields are wont to do. Located in Connecticut. What a great excuse for Northeast folks to take a day trip and lap up some beauty!

Supporting farmers. Buying local. Soaking up the scent. Being outdoors.

Have a look at Lavender Pond Farm if you are interested. Share with any friends that might also want to put this on their own “To Do” list.

While you are on their site have a look under the tab “About” and read “Our Story.”

A line from a children’s book, “Miss Rumphius” written by Barbara Cooney becomes a part of this family’s journey.

“What have you done to make the world a more beautiful place?” 

A shared favorite of the owner and her mother. Often read and enjoyed. Especially during her Mom’s final days before she succumbed to cancer. After having lived with it for more than a decade. She sounded like a very brave and special lady.

This lavender farm is not just paying homage to the farmer’s memory of her beloved mother. It’s also this family’s way of making the world a more beautiful place.

Totally on my list.

All of it.

 

 

 

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#11 on the list. To fight cabin fever this winter.

Challenge yourself. 

Recently I mentioned being exhausted and that I would soon share the reason.

Exhausted might have been a slight exaggeration. I was being a tad dramatic.

But here’s the reason.

I challenged myself at Goodreads. My personal goal is to read 100 books in 2019. I know, right?

This is a great site, by the way, for those who enjoy reading. Has suggestions, reviews, etc.

As an aside, since I am in sharing mode, this is also a fabulous site Reading Group Guides. loaded with so much for a reader to digest.

Since I’ve avoided any weight loss challenges that might be beckoning I figured I would go for something that was actually doable. My friend, Nancy, thinks that it’s a bit aggressive. She’s probably right.

I do enjoy reading and learning. So, I am not doing it just for the challenge. But it will help me to stay on track and not veer off with pesky distractions. While still somehow putting a little healthy pressure on myself. Not necessarily a bad thing if it’s keeping me off the streets.

Now I’m like an anteater sniffing around the house. Reading everything.

Hannie, my youngest who is away at university, is sort of uncomfortable with me grabbing books from her room and devouring them. Because, along the way, I’m taking photos of her neon colored, sticky post it notes and personal hand written observations  in the margins while also lending my own running commentaries.

My accompanying texts, “Yes! I agree!” Or, “Really? You thought that?” Like a virtual book club. In my mind anyway.

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So that is number eleven on the list “Fighting Cabin Fever.”

Challenge yourself.

Maybe lose the twenty pounds that appeared out of nowhere once you found an empty nest with no cigarettes. Okay, sorry for that ramble. That was totally for me. All me. 

Could be an on-line course. Or listen to a daily podcast. Do one nice thing for someone else each day. Pull out a jigsaw puzzle. Read more books. Go for regular walks. Learn new recipes to shake things up.

A friend from Malaysia joined the 100sareepact in 2015. This involved a pact between two friends to wear their saree (sari) one hundred times while sharing their saree stories. It incorporated photos of celebrations, heritage, joy, love, cherished memories and more. Very cool movement.

Maybe you could create your own friend pact/challenge?

Whatever you decide to do it will result in a lovely feeling of accomplishment. You will have achieved your goal while keeping busy waiting for the change of seasons.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

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I am feeling the pressure to crank out these babies and I’ll tell you why.

Babies, of course, referring to items on the list. Not actual babies.

“Avoiding doldrums of winter” is the list. Refer to past postings for the other seven.

The reason I am feeling pressure is because the winter is flying. In about eighteen days the clocks in my house will “Spring Ahead!” by an hour. We will blink and there will be crocuses popping out of the ground. It will be Easter and then it will be the Fourth of July.

That sounds like good news. Besides the fact life is going by quickly.

So is my list even necessary?

Probably.

Because some winters are longer than others. Some are colder. Different regions experience different weather.

So here goes.

#8

An eye catcher. 

Usually that’s me. But for the purpose of this list I will stick with inanimate objects.

Have something that brightens up the joint. Something visible that catches your eye. Lifts your mood. Each and every time. Acts like a dopamine drip.

We surround ourselves with furniture and a lifetime of dust collectors. How often do we actually acknowledge them? Even notice that they are there?

Yes, most of us are generally happy with our space. The overall feeling when you walk in the front door. Believe me, some days that feeling of contentment and “I’m in the comfort of my own place” vibe is enough for anyone.

Maybe looking for something more is asking too much?

Nah.

We have to continue working on the “shaking the blues” list! Something more than the same old thing is necessary.

This always works for me.

thumperwatching

But not everyone wants or is able to have a pet and I promised to stick with inanimate.

There are a few things around the house, other than husband and dog, that I really like and always seem to brighten my moments.

I’ll share one today.

painting

This is a small painting by a local Rhode Island artist named Kathy Weber. I have it displayed on a wall in a high traffic area near the front door.

Different things appeal to each of us for a variety of reasons. That is what makes the world go ’round.

When I look at this piece of art I am immediately transported to the town where I was raised. Sure, this could be a winter street scene from any New England working class neighborhood. But it looks exactly like mine. I also love the colors Weber uses in her work.

I found it at Neville Fine Art and Framing in Warren, Rhode Island. I chatted with Donna, the owner, back in the summer while admiring the shop and its nicely displayed pieces.

This little gem caught my eye and then I left without buying it.

I don’t know why. What’s wrong with me? It’s probably because I am a Libra and any decisions I ever need to make practically have to involve a congressional hearing. It’s no joke. So hard for me.

Then I started having these pangs of what I guess could only be described as the opposite of buyer’s remorse. Non-buyer’s remorse.

I knew then I just had to have it.

So a few days later my friend and I headed to the shop. Of course, we showed up after business hours.

The following week I was with another friend and drove to the shop. Had every intention of arriving home with my new bundle of joy. Nope. Didn’t happen. The place was not open on this particular day.

I was about to go down another road. You know the one. It’s called, “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be.”

But I didn’t.

The third time was the charm. Whew!

Okay, I can’t make decisions to save my life. But once something gets stuck in my head it’s going absolutely nowhere until I deal with it. If a person looks up the definition of “dogged” in the dictionary my eye catching face will be staring right back at them. My Dad used to say, “Watch out when she gets a bee in her bonnet.” He wasn’t lying.

Thank God it’s only the small stuff with me.

Imagine how tired I would be if I was going for world peace? Or bringing down the number of mass killings in the U.S.?

As a side note. It won’t take you three times to gain entry into Donna’s shop. That was just me, flying by the seat of my pants, without checking business hours and days of operation before hopping in the car. Expecting the world to revolve around my whims. 

If you are in the area stop by and see Donna. You’ll be glad you did. Tell her I sent you. Just say, “Mary, the lady who loves that your shop smells like Christmas all year round.” She’ll know. 

I bought the painting and I love it. It is a bright spot on a winter’s day.

Obviously, a painting is not going to do it for everyone. But there will be something. You’ll find it.

The eye catcher.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my last post, I promised to share more information about a couple of the books that are in this photo.

bookslibrary

Going to the neighborhood library and appreciating your tax dollars at work was #5 on Mary’s “Wintry Mix” list.

In that same vein (sort of) I respectfully piggy back on the reading theme in this post for #6.

Go local.

Okay, I really wanted to type “Go loco” above instead of Go local. But I didn’t.

Support not just your local library but the local authors and bookstores. And authors who write about your locale or community.

Honestly, not sure why but I always feel like I’ve got some skin in the game when I’ve got one of those books in my hands.

Like I get all, “That’s my neighborhood. My town. My state. My people.” You can just imagine me with a puffed out chest. And not a puffed out post menopausal belly. Full of pride.

About two months ago I met Jeanne Mc Williams Blasberg at this literary event in Providence. She was on her own so there were a couple of extra chairs begging for middle-aged occupants. Jeanne was kind enough to allow me (and a friend) to sit at her table.

Got chatting, as one does, and I absolutely did the whole Rhode Island thing. That is to relentlessly dig until you find out what or who we have in common. I usually have the energy for it. That night was no exception.

Well, we are both mothers, both lived in California and both did the expat overseas gig. Okay, sure, that could be enough to keep a semi-decent conversation going between people who just met- before the event and during intermission.

Then I found out she was an author.

Wait, what?

She has a book “Eden” floating out there and a new one being published soon.

Truthfully, between you and me, I think I might be an authorphile. You could put me in a room with Tom Brady and a writer and I be like, “Tom, I will totally hook up with you in a few. I swear. Just gotta catch up with Jeanne here.”

Tom Brady dropped like a hot potato by JBM. True story. Ain’t gonna lie.

I’m always curious about every human being but now I have questions galore for this stranger at my table. Her table. She was there first.

“Wait, how do you spell your name? Plasberg? Is that with a P? What’s it about? Where does it take place?”

Blah. Blah. Blah.

I might have been a little loud because, well, I am loud. That’s who I am. And it was in a dark bistro (I know that dark should not matter for sound but neither should immediate radio music turn down when looking for a house number while driving) with a crowd of other ladies all excited to be at a watering hole with their ilk. So their noise level didn’t help mine.

“Eden” is set in my home state of Rhode Island. A fictional coastal town many natives might recognize. A novel about a family and secrets. How the lens might originally be black and white but gets a little grainy and gray (Thank you, Jesus!) with each new generation.

I really enjoyed it. Jeanne incorporates historical events-whether economic collapse or a world war-as a back drop to give the reader a feel for the time and its social mores.

Okay, Jeanne is not native to Rhode Island but she has a place with us now. Not everyone can be born here. We just don’t have the room. But as people leave or the older folks depart then spaces open up and we need to be welcoming. And then supportive.

When I was at the library poking around I noticed they had a section, by the check out desk, that had books written by local authors or about the area.

Well, why wouldn’t I read them?

I brought home Mary Cantwell’s “American Girl: Scenes from a Small-Town Childhood.” Mary was an editor and columnist for the New York Times but grew up in Bristol, Rhode Island. This book is filled with lovely memories of her childhood in this seaside town during the 1940s and 1950s. It’s like finding someone’s diary. I feel like everyone has a story. Hers was a pleasant one. Added bonus was I had a better understanding of the town’s history after reading this simple, old-fashioned memoir.

As you can see in the photo I had also grabbed Bernie Mulligan’s, “I Made It.” A story set in the town of East Providence where I was raised. I didn’t read it yet but I will. I had too many open books at the time.

This book is about a woman who was fully paralyzed from polio. She also had four sons under the age of seven when it happened! Can you even imagine?

I am so surprised I never knew about this. It’s a story of family love and commitment. Her husband fixed up an old bus so that she and her family could travel. When he passed away the neighborhood kids collected 6000 books of Green Stamps to buy a Winnebago. Or a caravan for my European readers. The newly licensed young neighbors all took turns driving her across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Oh my gosh. That’s God’s work right there. Makes me proud to be a Townie. I definitely have to read this.

Couple of books from Ann Leary in that photo. Northeast girl living in New England. I love her books. She just gets me. LOL I mean, I just get her. She’s married to comedian Denis Leary but I feel like she actually might be the funny one in that relationship. These two books (in the photo) were good but I loved, “The Good House.” I remember laughing out loud while reading it. Very few authors make me LOL. I also really liked her book “The Children.”

Not in the above photo but here is another book I recently enjoyed. Staying with the local vibe.

tenemental1

When I was born my parents lived in a tenement. I get it. When my husband and I bought our first home it was in Providence. A condo on the East Side. In a freaking tenement! I still haven’t heard the end of that one. But when I walked in, after the Boston group that owned it did their rehab and tagged the three floors as condos, I fell in love with the original wood floors gleaming on a sunny day. I coveted the fireplace that had been there for ages.

We’ll take it!

What I didn’t consider was that the bathroom had no heating. At all. That original, like the drafty windows we could barely open, wasn’t always a good thing.

Still. So many fabulous memories in that place. No regrets.

Anyway.

I consider the purchase of this book a trifecta. I supported a local book store Twenty Stories, a Providence author and really enjoyed this memoir. Filled with quirky tenants, boyfriends and lore.

That’s it for my #6 on getting through winter! Enough about books already. I’ll lay off bookspeak for awhile. I’m exhausted. Yes, it has to do with books. I will tell you why in another blog posting. Not the next one. But someday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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