Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Is For Children

"Oh, I wish you were coming home for Christmas, I'm really having a hard time with it this year," sighed Laura.  "Everything is different and I just want the Christmases when we were little.  Driving home in the dark from your house on Christmas Eve, I looked out of the car windows and hoped I'd see Santa in his sleigh.  I loved those Christmas Eves with you.  The pretty white tree upstairs and the the fun colored lights on the tree downstairs.  Sean and I loved being with that tree and watching television while we listened to you all laughing and talking upstairs.  I just want my white pizza and caesar salad and the same foods we always had.  Your tiny house on Falkirk Road and all the same people who are so close to us!"

She gave me the very best Christmas gift when she said that.  Really.  Because isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Working and planning to see the wonder and light in a child's eyes?  Creating the magic that is such a part of it?  And, really, who doesn't yearn for the holidays of their youth?  Don't most of  us wish that we could keep the traditions alive and unwaveringly the same?  We might be able to cope with the changes that life throws at us all the rest of the year, but in December...in December we want to hold things in crystalline perfection.  The Christmases of our childhood... 
Big Brother Glenn & 1, 1957


When I was a little girl, I would go to bed on Christmas Eve and wake in the morning to a house completely and magically changed.  In the corner where the wing chair had been was a huge Christmas tree with the large colored lights and tinsel and presents wrapped under it.  Does anyone do that anymore?  Do children still get the thrill of seeing the magic Santa brings when he creeps into the house for all the good boys and girls?  I hope so...but considering that we have pushed Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas into one big mashed up marketing mess, I doubt it.  And, that makes me sad.

Remember, since my father was incredibly physically disabled, it meant that somehow, he arranged for other adults to take time away from their Christmas Eve to come to our address to put up a tree and make the magic happen for his child.  One year, so I've been told, the Shift Sgt. of the Northern District Police Station wrapped on the apartment door.  When he came in, he found several burly cops with their tunics off, sleeves rolled up and in the middle of erecting a Christmas tree.  He just leveled a look at my father and them and asked, "Do you know that I don't have one cop on the streets in this part of the district?!  When you are finished being elves, get back to your duties.  Merry Christmas, Jimmy," and with that and a smile, he left. 

As a child grows, it's with the background of our traditions-  of dinners at a particular home and visiting with those who you don't see as often as you like.  The frantic ripping of paper and bows gives over to the art of sharing time and stories over dinner and dessert.  That's when you begin to learn the beauty of sharing the gift of your Presence as being more important than the presents that come with this time of year.  For our family, it meant making the trek to Aunt Katherine's house.  She always had it decorated so gloriously with flower arrangements and treasures from her Christmas collection.  Dinner was always a feast.  And for me, the drive to and from just Dad and me, was my favorite time of Christmas day.  We'd talk about everything and nothing.  The quiet allowed us to decompress from the hectic, and let's be frank, sometimes stressful hours of La Familia being together.  If we saw pretty lights in the deep dark, I'd slow the car so we could take them in.  Peaceful and meaningful was this time with my Dad.

The King & I chatting at Christmas Dinner, 1978
When Doog and I moved into our tiny row-home on Falkirk Road in 1979, even though it was only 18 feet wide, we knew we wanted to share it with others for the holidays.  Sean and Laura were at the age when they simply couldn't wait to open gifts.  The notion that they might have to wait for a couple of days after Christmas until we could all get together was just crazy!  So, that's when my idea of having them over for Christmas Eve started.   Our intimate gathering included friends Carole & Al and Jim. Others would stop by, but for the most part it was just the closest friends and my brother's family.  The meal?  White pizza and Caesar salad made in my galley sized kitchen with lots of tasty hors d'oeuvers and cookies.  Each person brought their favorite and that was our Christmas Eve meal.

Presents were shared.  We laughed a lot.  And we talked until the childrens' eyes drooped.  I looked forward to that night every year.  To learn that they mean so much to Laura, is truly a gift.  Over time, the address changed, but the tradition continued.  My home on Long Green Road was the Christmas Eve spot for many years.   Two children were the reason for all those years of holiday get togethers.

My Brother & Sister-in-Law, Linda
My house was larger and more people came to be part of the annual celebration, but we were lucky to have those same core merry makers there, too.  I still did two trees and the meal remained the same.  More people could cram in my kitchen as pizza was being made. The laughter and the chatter still a major focus. 

Laura, Linda, and Yours Truly
I worried as Laura and Sean got older, that Christmas Eve wouldn't be as important to them as it had become to me. I shouldn't have because, even when they started dating and being independent, they still made their way to my house to share 'their' night.  So the years passed and the Christmas Eve celebrations merrily continued.

When Michael and I moved away, I turned over the Christmas Eve celebration to Laura and Linda.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I wish that I was still the hostess for that special night.  Some years I am with them and other years, like this one, I am with them in spirit.  Laura and Eric, (Eric loves hosting parties,) have become the Christmas Eve house.  And, here at our home, Michael and I share the day with the love of Melissa who will be here with Pete for Christmas Eve.  The traditions we have made as a new family are different from those I knew; we will be having a standing rib roast instead of pizza for our special dinner.  Evan will call from Florida and we will wish that both of our children were with us but understand that life has changed and so must our celebrations.  I cherish these new traditions with my new family.

Hostess with the Mostess, Laura and Ava



 I suppose it's what we learn about our traditions; they must flex with life while still exerting their magical ability to remain fixed,  reminding us of what we value, what we cherish, what is meaningful and good about life.  The address may change.  New people may join the group.  And, we remember those who are no longer with us, often smiling and tearing up while doing so.  The magic is that they feel so much closer to us at this time of year!  We realize that they are now part of the traditions that mean so very much.  We take the time to let those we love know how incredibly important they are to us.  We hug a second or two longer, handshakes are stronger and we are more free with our kisses.  For those of us who are grown, this is the magic of Christmas. 

My Beloved Brother
We value the moments that make us rejoice in the power of our festivals of light and love.  We need them.  So, we must invest in them and never take them for granted.  As I explained to Laura, "If you love your Christmas Eves, don't be sad that they've changed because the traditions we started with you and your brother are yours, now, to share with your girls.  Honor the memories we made for you by building traditions for Livy and Ava.  It's now your turn to make Christmas magic for them so that they will always look back at the Christmases of their childhood with the same love and longing that you look at yours and I look at mine.  It's time to do it for your girls."

The idea that she can take the magic we made for her and spread it to her girls seemed to help both of us.  It takes away the sadness of  inevitable change and gives power to the fleeting days of  our Yuletide.  Because Christmas, after all, is for children...

My Lion and Olivia
...and since we are all children of The Creator who loves and adores us, it means that Christmas, and all our tradition, continues to be for all of us no matter how far away we are from each other or how long we have lived.  Merry Christmas to My Daughter of The Heart.  I love you very much.  Thank you for making Christmas so meaningful for me.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Aunt Holly, Great Aunt Holly, New Guy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Many Faces of Love

This is the chair in my office.  As I sit here typing to you, it's directly behind me.  That's Argyle laying there taking a snooze.  I generally never know if he's there because he's very quiet and sneaks in to rest.  He's allowed in the chair, so it's not as if he's trying to pull one over on me, he's just very quiet in the house.  The only time he's acting The Wild Highlander is when he's outside being part of the Midnight Bark or returning salvos of information down the long country road to tell the farm dogs what's going on up here on his end of the road.

I notice as time goes on, he's been with us two years now, he's very often here in the office with me.  It makes me happy.  And, it makes me feel safe.  But, today as I sit here listening to Christmas songs, it occurred to me that it also makes me feel loved.

Now, you need to know something about terriers: they are not, let me repeat, are NOT lap dogs.  They aren't necessarily all that cuddly.  If you want a dog who needs, wants, demands to be with you all the time, you'd best consider a Pom or a Poodle, or any number of breeds, just not a terrier.

It's not that they aren't social or pack animals because terriers certainly are, it's just that they're not needy that way.  Let me see if I can tell you how it goes with them:  A terrier goes about its day and every once in awhile they realize they should check to see where you are and if you are where they left you.  Once they determine that all is the way they want it, they go about their business and allow you to do the same.

This part of the terrier personality is one of the reasons I've always been drawn to them.  But, I will admit, there are times when I wish that I had a snugly, lovey dog who just wants to curl up with me all the time.  Times like now, when Christmas is here, and sentimentality takes on a life of its own and can swamp me with emotions.  Just having a wee soul that thought of me as the center of its universe and that could take the place of those I wish I was with for the holidays but will only be with in spirit.

A dog to curl up on me when I'm sitting exhausted from all the doing that the holidays brings on the ribbons and bows trailing through our lives.  A quiet presence that makes me relax as we sit together and just rest. 

But, alas, I have terriers.  And, it's just not their way.

So, when I turn around and see Argyle, it occurs to me, that I feel loved when I spy him there.  Even though he's doing his thing, he's doing it in the same room.  And, it reminds me that he likes resting with me someplace close by.  He's deliberate in his choice of where to be...  he loves me in his way on his terms.

And, that's what I wanted to say today.  Love, comes in many different aspects and is presented to us in ways some subtle and some overt.  But, love, like most profound emotions generally doesn't shout; instead it slips in and fills us up.  Like Argyle quietly slipping up into the chair to rest as I work.

This holiday season, I hope you have the gift of awareness to discern and accept the aspects of love that are in your life, especially if you are struggling with feeling loved or are missing special folk.  I hope you can let go of the ideas you have about what love is and is not, and instead, open your hands and hearts to the love that is there, all around, subtle, quiet, waiting.  Love that is yours as a gift from The Creator who sends out the very best for all us, especially at this holy and profoundly moving time of the year.



Thank you, Argyle, for reminding me of the many faces and facets of  love.  We brought you home, two years ago for Christmas.  You continue to be a wonderful gift who makes me smile.  I love you, too. Yes, I understand you're trying to rest here.  I'll be quiet now.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Argyle's Mommer

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

A few short years ago,
Seven to be exact,
I married my best friend.
I am blessed.
Hope you can recognize that you are, too.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Mrs. Michael Frock

Friday, November 1, 2013

All Treats- No Tricks!

"Perhaps on Thursday," suggested Melissa, "We should put on our pointy hats and finest gear and go to lunch!"  A Samhain lunch with my girl?  I'm in!  So that's what we did.  And, can I tell you?  We brought so many smiles out of people and the conversations?!  Oh, yeah, we had tons of people talking to us. Starting with our waiter who got a real kick out of us and then started asking questions about the pagan community in the Pittsburgh area and all things Hallo'een.  And he concluded with, "I'm just a hippie! But you two are cool; have a great day and Happy Halloween!"


All through our leisurely stroll through Home Goods and then Target, we got so many compliments about our hats and we felt that we had done a very good deed by bringing some momentary joy to others as well as really tickling ourselves!

Meanwhile on the other side of the state, Sebastian the Crab, aka Ava, and the Butterfly Princess, aka Livy, were all ready for their evening of dancing and running with all the goblins and creatures who infiltrated their neighborhood and ran door to door yelling and squealing with delight! Laura says, "Yeah, this is a pretty cool neighborhood to go trick or treating!" Sadly, we had rain and wind which put a damper on the evening here in the Laurel Highlands, but still, I was ready with the candy and some conversation. People, please tell your little monsters that they're supposed to cry, "Trick or Treat!!!," when the door is opened to them. I thought it was just me, but lately I hear a lot of people saying, "These kids don't even know to say it anymore!" I mean seriously, if they don't say it, it's just basically begging for candy! C'mon, work to keep the traditions alive!!!


So, despite the weather, this Crone had the most wonderful and blessed start to the New Year and a great start to November which is the month when we all try to count our blessings and give thanks.  So I'll start today on this Feast of All Souls and Saints by saying how thankful I am for all the wonderful Mothers, Maidens and Crones in my life.  Thank you for making me rich with all the gifts your bring to my life!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka The Good Witch of The Laurel Highlands





Sunday, October 13, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Ava & Olivia


My fashion forward girls want to remind you
This week,
Stay on the sunny side of the street!


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Lessons From The School Bus Driver

 This morning the door bell rang and I opened the door to see Jack standing there with a smile.  Jack and his family are the great gardeners that do jobs for me that I can't manage by myself anymore.  Especially since I don't have any place to let the clippings and cutting compost.  He takes all that away with him to his farm. 

He's such a great person, as is his wife Olive and son, Eric.  So very easy to deal with and talk to; as a matter of fact, we can get into such great conversations that I sometimes feel guilty for taking up their valuable time, but they seem to enjoy this aspect of service just as much.  So, being able to spend some time in the company of kind people is a bonus.

Today, when I said, "Jack, the door's open if you need anything or if there are questions," he responded, "No questions.  Just wanted to let you know we're here and will get started and see how far we can get.  You know school's back in session and I'm the bus driver again."

I asked how his bus is this year; you often hear stories about how some unfortunate drivers end up with Satan Spawn as passengers.  He said, "No problem.  They're good.  I set the rules with them from the very first day. I think kids need to be allowed to be kids, but they have to be respectful."

It was then that Jack the Gardener/Bus Driver taught me a great many things in the conversation that followed:  Jack says "Good Morning," to every child who gets on the bus and waits for them to wish him the same.  If they don't, he makes a joke out of it by saying, broadly, "Why good morning to you, too, Jack!"  He says he only has to do that one time and then the kid remembers he has to return the greeting.

Each afternoon, as they exit his bus, he says to each one of them, "Good evening," and waits for them to respond in kind.  And, they do.  Many of them say, "Thank you."  That's a bonus!

If a child addresses them as, "Bus Driver," he kindly corrects them and say, "My name is Jack, I drive a bus.  If you need me, please use my name."  They do.  He doesn't require that they call him Mr. Jack, but many do, and that's also a bonus.

He tells them, "You all will be many different things in life.  Some might be surgeons, or farmers, or lawyers, or bus drivers.  You'll all be different, but the one thing you all must know how to do to be successful is know how to recognize and acknowledge another Human Being."

So, he sets about teaching them that through the daily expression of a simple courtesy.  On his bus, in the average day, without a big deal, Jack is teaching these little plantlets how to grow into fine specimens of Human Beings.

And it happens just by getting on Jack's bus.

It seems to me, that if each one of us, through our usual routines and jobs, remembered to extend those sorts of lessons quietly to each child or person we encounter, we could collectively make a huge difference in turning this increasingly graceless world back into one that is kind and good.

Thanks, Jack!  For teaching me something today, especially since I never rode a bus to school.  Have a good day!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

Monday, September 30, 2013

He's Become So Important To Me

 It's funny how some people have a way of entering into you thoughts and even heart almost as soon as you meet them.  He's one of those.  I knew straight away during the first meeting that this is a man who has lived his life as fully as possible, holds few grudges, loves to laugh and make others laugh.  He is the sort who wants you to feel comfortable when you sit with him.

Oh, he is the consummate sales man; was a traveling salesman for years and years before being offered a big job with Hanover Shoes.  Many of the people in Hanover owe him for giving them their first and perhaps only job.  He's well known, and well respected.  He loves the ladies, likes to make them feel special, pretty, necessary.  Likes to flirt, but not in the smarmy, icky way.  He's just the sort of guy you want to give a hug even if you don't know him very well.

He is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination. He's had his demons and issues with which to contend. And, as he has grown older, he's grown up and expanded his views on things.  He successfully raised eight children, survived the death of one of them way too early, and now listens to the stories of grand children and now the start of great grand children.

He's battled a significant battle with cancer that has ruined his jaw, stolen his eye, and marred that adorable face.  He's always been a bit vain about his looks; so now he doesn't like to go out much and he feels less than because his looks have been changed.  He is sad about all that he's lost through this fight. But most days, you can still easily see that twinkle in his good eye and he still loves to laugh.  Watching him go through all of this really has been an example of the tenacity of the Human spirit to thrive.  I have come to admire him a great deal through this long, hard ordeal.  And, my sister-in-love, Theresa who has been there every day for him truly gets my applause and admiration for all she's done to bring him this far.  It's been no easy feat for her and her family. 

He admits that he's becoming tired and ready to give up the fight.  He's all right if the Creator calls him home, and proud of all his children have done and become.  He classifies his life as a 'great one.'  And, I think he's proud of how he is still so very important to all of us.


Today, Michael is in Hanover with Dad while he undergoes a major cancer surgery.  This is a big one. It will require extensive removal of his scalp and perhaps part of his face. If we're lucky, the surgeon will be able to do the skin graft at the same time.  If she can remove all the cancerous tissue and get clean edges.  IF.  And, I am here praying and supporting from a distance.  The fact is, while he might be all right with leaving, I'm not.  I've come to think of him as Dad.  He's slipped into the void that was created when my beloved father left the world. 

I'm not usually a selfish person.  I try to put the needs of others ahead of mine.  But, today I can't do that.  Today, Dad, sorry to tell you, I'm going with my wants ahead of yours.  You need to come through this surgery.  You still have stories to tell me, and teases to make.  I need to hear you laugh again a thousand more times and watch that twinkle in your eye while you do.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Carroll Frock's Daughter-in-love

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday


May your Sabbath and week ahead be peaceful.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Fiona's Mum

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday


May your Sabbath 
be restful
to ready you for the week to come.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly & Scotties

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Dates That Define and Remind Us


Whenever December 7th rolls around, I remember that it is Pearl Harbor Day.  I stop for a second and send a prayer to the valor and bravery that was exhibited, and I also pray for those who lost so much on that terrible day.


 I do this because it's part of being an American, not because it's part of my personal history.  It happened before I was born.  But, I know lots of people who can recall that terrible day as though it was yesterday.  For them, this unexpected attack is seared into their brains and they cannot, nor would they ever wish to forget.  It's part of what has forged their identity...it's part of what makes them an American.  It's part of the package of grit, determination, an unwillingness to give up their way of life or the demands that living free often requires.  It is how they define the spine and courage of being an American.  Time passes and the rawness covers over.  Life moves on and horror becomes history


 
Whenever September 11th rolls around, I remember that it is the day that America was attack by Muslim Terrorists.  I remember exactly where I was, what I was doing, and the effort required to try and wrap my head around all that I was hearing.  The effort that was needed to not run around in fear.  The silence of the skies devoid of all planes for several days. I stop now, and send a prayer to the valor and bravery that was exhibited, and I also pray for those who lost so much on that terrible day.



 I do this because it's part of being an American, and sadly because it is a major moment in my history.  I know lots of people who can recall that terrible day as though it was yesterday.  And, for many it is as if that terrible day was just yesterday.  For many life stopped on that day.  For them, this unexpected attack is seared into their brains and they cannot, nor would they ever wish to forget.  It is part of what has forged their identity...it's part of what makes them an American.  It's part of the package of grit, determination, an unwillingness to give up their way of life or the demands that living free often requires.  It is how they define the spine and courage of being an American.  Times passes and the rawness covers over.  Life moves on and the horror becomes history.

Now, 12 years later, the day makes me sad but proud.  The horror of it, while still there if I concentrate is dimmed.  Mostly, what I can still feel is the shock of the day and why anything like it would ever happen.  Still, I can wonder how people can hate enough to do something so terrible.

And, 12 years later, I also realize that there are now hundreds of children who have no emotional tie to this day, just as I have no actual tie to the December 7th date.  For them, the attacks of 9/11 may or may not be something they discuss in their history classes.  It may be something they ask their parents about to gain a bit of perspective.  For most, though, it will simply be something that seems sad or confusing.  It will be part of the background of history for them, not an active part in how they define themselves as Americans.


 Little ones like our Ava, who just turned two, won't know a thing first-hand about this awful time. I hope we find a way of making it part of who she is as a proud American.  I hope her family finds a way to take a few moments on days like this one to discuss it; to have a few moments of silence and a prayer for all who have witnessed these events.


And, today on this 9/11 anniversary, I'll pray that sweet children like our Livy, will wonder about such cruelty, but hopefully will never know it directly as part of their personal history.

Some might think I'm wrong about this; they'll say we should remember every single day about these horrors so that we remain vigilant.   That is also a way to view the world.  But, I think I'd rather we teach our children about the love that was witnessed after those terrible acts, rather than the hatred that caused the execution of them.  I'd rather we glory in the non-stop work that was done to care for each other and set things right again.   I believe that it is this positive energy that defines us as Human Beings and Americans and that is what I want our children to learn.

December 7th and September 11th will not be days our young children concentrate on very often.  And speaking as a Human Being who has one of those days branded into the fiber of her being, I'm all right with that.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Witnessed 9/11

Monday, August 26, 2013

Racism 50 Years Later: Where Do We Go From Here?


This Wednesday, the 28th, marks the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s march on Washington and the broadcast of what is now called his, "I Have A Dream," speech.

I find it interesting that, just as we are going to pay tribute to that monumental moment, we are facing some upheaval in the United States that makes one wonder: how far have we really come in terms of race relations?  The media coverage of the George Zimmerman trial turned it into a race bait, even though it is a tragic case of a man and a younger man getting into a street brawl with one of them ending up dead.  It should be about a lot of things that would help us make better choices and better legislation but it didn't.  Instead it became about the color of skin.  It became about a white man killing a black man. Although, what you did not hear very often was that Travon Martin was unfamiliar to a neighborhood watch man, in a neighborhood being plagued by home break-ins and other issues committed by black youths.  The color issue seems to be one of those things that distracts us from the facts and turns a very sad case into something hateful and inflammatory.  Should the black man have been thought of as suspicious by the white man?  In a perfect world, no.  But, in a perfect world, black men wouldn't be committing the crimes that tend to make everyone suspicious of someone they don't know.  Since it was a white man who did the shooting, the media wanted to make this one about race.

Just last week in Oklahoma, a good looking Australian exchange student was murdered by two teenagers.  Why was he killed?  Was it because he was in a neighborhood in which he should have known better not to be?  Or because he was in a brawl?  Or because he said anything hateful?  No.  He was murdered while out for his regular run in a quiet neighborhood.  Why?  Because the ass-hats who did it proudly crow, "We were bored,"  while one danced around and carried on like a fool during the booking process. It may not have been race related, but when you read some of the stuff the shooter posted about hating most white people on his FB and Twitter, it makes it very frightening that a young person would feel these things and act on them.

Are you freaking kidding me?  We had a young man murdered as the result of boredom?  How incredibly awful.  The perpetrators are reported to have been running wild in their neighborhood without supervision of any kind for quite awhile.  The mother is in jail.  A father?  Nope, not around.  It's like these kids had gone feral.  It's interesting, however, that different from the Zimmerman coverage, since these criminals are young black men who killed a man who happened to be white, the media really do want to make certain we don't immediately jump to the conclusion that this was a racist hate crime.  Interesting.

What do these two incidences and how the news covered them, have to do with the 50th anniversary of Dr. King's famous speech?  I'd say everything.  I am a 58 year old, white woman who was an impressionable eight year old when The March on Washington happened; I remember it.  And, as a white woman, having the Civil Rights Movement as part of my history, I have always believed it is my moral responsibility to never judge individuals because of the color of their skin.

That hasn't been necessarily easy; I was born in the mid-50s, grew up in downtown Baltimore in the 60s when serious race riots happened in many major cities, and came of age in the 70s when peace and love were important and so was making race a non-issue.  In those early years, although the beginnings of awareness that racism is anathema, names like nigger, spick, cracker, honkie, kike, wop, guinea, dago, mick, bo-hunk, etc, were still used without a trace of discomfort.  They were part of our world.  Hell, we even used phrases like, "jewed him down," when we were crowing about getting something for absolute bottom dollar!

But thankfully, even though it seems slow, we are a long way from those days when how we thought about someone was decided by their color or nationality.  Are we where we should be?  No, but we are far better than we were.  And, with each generation that comes along, color becomes less and less important until it would seem that our children are becoming almost color blind when it comes to people.  Pretty amazing when you consider it.


So, here we are 50 years after Dr. King's speech and I'm really questioning. After all the affirmative action, and social programs, public housing, education, discussion, and now political correctness, are we any better, a half century later?

I say yes and no.  And,  I'm going to be totally Politically Incorrect and add, I am sick to death of  the continual suggestion that white people are racists and that race relations in the U.S. are still awful. Even more, I reject the notion that most white people are racists who have simply learned not to share their thoughts out loud.

I'm also sick of feeling as though race relations rests completely on the white race changing the way we are, the way things are.  We all play a part in the success, or failure, of this issue.  Why don't we spend as much time talking about what people of color should be doing about this issue?  Where are they in meeting whites somewhere in the middle to help things change instead of standing back and waiting for miserable whitey to finally get it?  And, why does it seem that when an African American of notoriety, like comedian Bill Cosby, calls out his own about their behavior, he's called an Uncle Tom or completely dis'd by the black community?

Dr. King, a black father, movingly said, "I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."   What a beautiful wish for his children!  All children should have a passionate parent who would dream such huge dreams for them.

Dr. King, I completely agree with you.  And, even though I grew up in a world that didn't always recognize the correctness of this sentiment, I have always tried to meet each Human Being with this in mind. I think the average person does as well.  But lately?  Lately, all I am is very frustrated.

Lately, I am left to question the increasing sounds of people telling me I don't like them simply because I am white and they are not.  IT'S NOT ABOUT YOUR COLOR!  IT'S ABOUT THE WAY YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE!

While I do everything in my power to not judge you by the color of your skin, it's up to you to live your life in such a way that I can only judge you by the content of your character!  You must do the hard work to live your life in a way that requires that others immediately recognize the content of your character.


If you are a woman and have a a child out of wedlock, I think you have chosen a hard life, but I support you in that choice.  I support you having a child and raising it.  I don't insist you be married.  But, if you continue to have children with different men and they don't even know their fathers or share their last names?  What would make you think that is correct?  Currently, the statistic is that 75 per cent of black children are born out of wed-lock or into broken homes. More and more white children are homeless or in terrible situations. More grand parents are becoming the guardians of these children as drug addicted or absent parents drift away.  That is not all right.  I don't care what color you are...it's wrong.

If you are a man having sex without using birth control and your children are scattered all over, who you do not financially and emotionally support, who wouldn't know you were their father if they bumped into you, that's not all right.  I don't care what color your are...it's wrong.

If you decide that it's all right for you to call each other nigga because you are black, but want to hurt a white person who uses the word, it's wrong.  You don't have the right to use that word in songs and in public if you have determined it's hate speech.  I don't care what color you are, if the word is hateful, it's wrong to use it.

If you act out in public with your pants down around your thighs so that your ass is out and I see your underwear, you act in a way that is disrespectful to yourself and those around you.  It is not a fashion statement, it's stupid.  I don't care what color you are, it's wrong.

If you find yourself in school and you don't do everything you can to maximize the opportunity you are being given, it's wrong.  If the school you are in is broken or not teaching you, go find a mentor, go find a tutor, go find an adult who will help you.  Don't sit there and say, "It's not my fault they're not teaching me anything," go look for someone who would be more than happy to help you!  Hell, call me, I'm happy to tutor you!

If you can do something to help your neighborhood come together and begin to regain its peace and sense of community, but instead you run in gangs, take part in drive by shootings that kill innocent children, sell drugs, and terrorize people, it's wrong.  If you don't help people in need, beginning with your family and extend a helping hand to those around you,  I don't care what color you are, it's wrong.

If you have the opportunity to form a committed relationship and a secure family instead of using each other like sex toys and spreading unwanted children all over the place, and you don't do it, it's wrong.  I don't care what color you are, it's wrong.

If you don't look for a connection with the God of your understanding, and instead act in a godless, miserable way, spreading hate, fear and crime, I DON'T CARE WHAT COLOR YOU ARE, IT'S WRONG!!!!

And, I'm not racist expressing these ideas.  Nor am I wrong to call "Bullshit," on those insisting that I am intrinsically racist simply because I was born white.  If you believe that, aren't you acting in a racist way, or am I missing something?!

So, as I see it, here's the challenge, (and the liberating thing is that this whole racism issue is no longer just the white race's issue to correct,) because...

...I can very successfully not judge you by the color of your skin.  Thanks to Dr. King and other people who were part of the Civil Rights Movement who helped us all to understand the importance of this.  BUT, only you can decide to live your life in a way that compels me to respect you, by the content of your character.


We have a lot of work to do in this country, but it's the work of all.  It's no longer enough to point a finger at Whitey and say it's their work alone.   If we want racism to vanish so that we're not having this same conversation at the 100th anniversary of Dr. King's speech, it's not enough for only white people to hold themselves accountable.  People of color must also work within the framework of our collective society to bring about the change that is needed.  And, if we really wish to eradicate racism, we must teach children that it's not enough to be color-blind; they must live their lives justly so that the content of their character is the only measure.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly 

Monday, July 1, 2013

July Jots And Musings


It's finally July again.  It is a month with lots of moments that mean something to me.  I wish I liked it more, but it falls right in the middle of summer and is always blistering hot.  And, hot and me?  Not a good combination.  I hate to be hot.  Hate. To. Be. Hot.  But, it's such a big month.  Birthdays for certain.  Canada Day and Independence Day here...major celebrations, parades, picnics, fireworks, (which by the way, Rory absolutely is phobic about which is another reason that July can work on my nerves.)

My next door neighbor Allen and I share the same birthday which is fun.  We generally get together for drinks and a "Cheers to us and our new year!" 

Vacations are a big part of July...and one can always look forward to that.  This year My Lion and I are headed to the New York Finger Lakes area.  We'll stay in a bed and breakfast and tour around on The Spyder seeing a new part of the country.  I am sure it will be fun.

I turn 58 years old on the 12th.  I  try reading that number and not wonder how I can be 58 when I'm certain that I'm really only 28.  There's a 30 year disparity there.  30 years....30 YEARS.  I know by today's standards that's not 'old' but it's mind altering to realize how different reality can be from the image and vision one holds in their head.

58; it's not old, but pretty substantial.  And yet, older as I am, I still remember Julys most clearly from my days as a kid on Howard & 27th Street in Baltimore.  The heat from all the concrete and asphalt.  The people coming out of their homes to sit on their front porches under the yellow glow of the many street lights.  Sitting and rocking, hoping to catch an errant breeze, talking over the low walls or rails that separated their porch from their neighbor's porch.  Rails low enough that you could throw a leg over to drop something off to them or borrow a cup of sugar.  Easily chat over if both were inclined. Large enough to respect the need of the other to simply sit and not talk.  Not eavesdrop on conversations that might be easy enough to hear but had nothing, whatsoever, to do with you.  Short enough to be neighborly; tall enough to be respectful. Such is life in row-homes.

Flower boxes on wide porch walls growing petunias or other mundane flowers that could withstand the heat of high summer in a city.  Or, in the case of my pragmatic grandmother, basil and herbs grown in an aluminum wash tub.  The sound of conversations or laughter more easily heard after the roar of rush hour cars had faded away.  Kids standing on the street corners in groups, laughing and being kids.  Until their noise got too big and then an adult would yell at them and tell them to move off.  Sometimes they did; sometimes they'd stand there in defiance.  At least until the beat cop strolled by and then they'd scatter.

For me as a kid, the 4th of July was a prelude to the much more important date of July 12.  My birthday was always way more important to me.  But one year, the year I was to turn 9, the 4th of July changed everything for me.

My Grand Pop got up and started his day as he always did, except for some reason, he decided to put on one of his good suites.  And, Nanny The World's Meanest Woman, chuffed at him for putting on his good clothes.  She strongly suggested he go change into something else because we were having a family picnic later and he was sure to get food on it.  But, he waved her off and went to sit out on the front porch.  He sat and waited for the time to pass until it was time for all of us to leave.

Nanny was on her way down the steps to get something out of the cellar when she felt as though she really needed to go check on Nick.  She thought it silly and started down the steps again, only to feel as though something was pulling at the back of her house dress.  She'd felt that before, when one of her six children turned out to be in serious trouble, but not for years.  Following her instincts she went back up and through the long house out to the porch.  She stood next to Pop who looked up at her and said quietly, "Mom, I don't feel so good," and he slumped into her.

Across the street Uncle Joe, Nanny's brother, happened to be sitting on his porch, a rare day off.  It being a holiday, his green grocery located across the alley from the back of our home was closed.  All the beautiful produce normally out on the steps locked tight inside.

Joe, saw and rushed across the street after yelling for Aunt Rose who raced out of their house.  Neighbors gathered and someone called an ambulance.  It came quickly.  But it drove away slowly to Union Memorial Hospital; no lights, no siren, no need because Grand Pop was gone.  Just that quickly.  Gone.  And the world changed for all of us.


Typical of a kid who has the myopic vision of one who has only been alive for a short time, I was totally angry with Pop.  His dying certainly meant the end of my birthday plans!  And, I never said a word to anyone about how disappointed I was in him for ruining my birthday, not to mention what I would always remember about The 4th of July!

I couldn't stay mad at him long.  Very shortly, my sadness over his leaving overtook any other thought or feeling.  I loved him.  And, his death was the very first one that I had experienced.  I knew other people had died, but he was the first person whom I loved and cared about that I had to process.

Shortly after his death, the family decided it would be better for Nanny if Dad and I moved in with her.  I didn't want to do that.  I liked our apartment over the restaurant!  We were just across the street from her, why did we have to move in?  But, I was a kid and had no say so we moved.  I had been all right with visiting with Nanny and Pop whenever I felt like it.  It was good to have another home to visit, like visiting with Aunt Rose and Uncle Joe across the street.  Or visiting with Aunt Rose and Uncle John on the other corner.  But, I sure didn't want to give up my home to move in with Nanny! 

Life went on again.  It always does.  And so many more Julys and Independence Days have come and been celebrated in my life.  Along with many more birthdays.  Now I'm glad that Pop went out with a bang on the 4th because I never ever forget him on that holiday and always stop to give him a thought and I love you.

But, this year it occurs to me that one of the reasons I don't always like the coming of my own birthday is colored by that 4th of July so very long ago when Grand Pop changed the world for me.  And, while I'm no longer sad over his passing, having the wisdom and experience to process it correctly, somehow, my birthday has never been as joyful for me.  That, I've never really been able to change.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Nicholas Dituri/Dietor's grand daughter

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

The Creator who breathed life into you,
Did not intend for you to walk through life
With your head and back bowed from worry and care.
Look up!  Look up!  Breathe and drop your head back.
This week, very often, look up!


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly  aka She Who Looks Up
This image from the Internet because when I was in Russia in 2000, interior pictures were not allowed of this miracle of the Church of The Spilt Blood which was just newly reopened after 45 years of renovation.  When the Nazis over ran St. Petersburg, they destroyed all the interior mosaic work.  That's not just paint, it's tiny pieces of glass you're seeing.  And with love, and determination, the Russians restored the splendor of the interior to match the amazing building's exterior. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday


Life transpires in the gray places
between the absolutes of black and white.
If you seek certainty,
give love.
If you wish peace,
find it in the conversation, the communion,
with the God/Goddess of your understanding.
And remember that you are the Face of God in the 
misty gray.  
So smile often and kindly.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly
Image from the Internet: Stotebury, WV~ St. John the Baptist Church by Victoria Bowden

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

"Yahweh, the God of Israel, there is no God like you..."
~ 1 Kings 8:23

Again, I'll break with the Silent Sermon tradition to add a few words.  This picture is one I took while sitting in the corner of the White Synagogue  in Capernaum, the town on the northern shore of the Galilee, the home of Jesus and Simon Peter, Andrew, and Matthew. 

The sun was glaring and the day desert hot.  I listened from the small corner of shade to our guide explain that we were standing in a synagogue that was built in 4th Century A.D.  Imagine!!!!  Sitting in the shade of a spot so old.  And yet, this White Synagogue was built on the exact spot of the Synagogue that was there in the time of Jesus.  The place of worship for the Son of Man.  Once again, my mind reeled trying to take in the ancientness of this part of the world.  All I could do was shake my head as I attempted to breathe it in and be grateful for the opportunity to be in such a place.  I felt as if I had been there before, a feeling I experienced several times throughout our pilgrimage.

As I listened to the murmur of people and the words of our guide, felt the deep heat and shaded myself in a small corner against the glare, I casually snapped a picture over my head of the few standing columns...these are nearest to the the alter and where the Torah would have been housed.  And when I looked at the picture, the remarkable streaks of light were there, magickally confirming that I sat, a small spec of humanity, in a very holy place.  A place that has held and witnessed the prayers, wishes, secret longings and thoughts of countless people.

This world of ours...this amazingly complex, ancient world of ours.  It is harsh and difficult.  Mean and cruel.  And yet, there are rare moments of grace when you realize how blessed you are to be a part of it all.  A day like one spent in Capernaum, where The Christ lived and worked along side his friends.  And went to Synagogue to talk with his God.

May your week give you a moment of Grace.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Solomon's Wall
by:
Jean-Leon Gerome

For this one Sunday, I'm breaking with the "Silent Sermon" part.  Because I want to let you know that in a few days, My Lion and I will be departing for Jerusalem.  I will have lots to share with you when I return here.

Israel, I admit, has never been on my list of world places I've longed to see.  But, it is at the very top of Michael's short list of places he's always wanted to visit.  I am beyond thrilled for him to have this wish answered.  I know I will be more than delighted by all the history and sights I will encounter over the eight days.

How can one not be fascinated to stand in a part of our world that has such ancient energy and humanity?

So, to that end, I make you an offer.  If you have a special intention, or you have a special prayer that you would like me to include at my time standing at The Wall, please let me know.

I promise you that it will be included in the small paper I leave in a crack of The Wall....it will join the millions of prayers that have now become part of that sacred place.  Carrying it for you will be an honor.

The ancient cry of the Jews is always the hopeful, "Next year in Jerusalem!"  Somehow, I feel especially fortunate to live in a world that means world travel is so easy to actualize.  Somehow, I know I am especially  blessed to be able to say, "This year in Jerusalem!"  And, I am especially blessed to have wonderful people like you, with whom to share this Mitzvah.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

"Knock and it will be opened to you."
That's the promise, but you must knock.
Don't let fear keep you from knocking.
This week, just knock!
 
 
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka, She Who Hesitates On The Threshold

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Dundyvan church, Scotland

Spend time in the sacred space where
the God of Man
and
the God of Nature
Meet.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly
photo by Mark Leslie   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Budding Hosta by Holly


May the light of the Lord shine from your eyes,
Like a candle in a window,
Welcoming the weary traveler.
~ An Irish Blessing

Happy Saint Patrick's Day


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly
Image from my garden

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Eastend House, Scotland


When, through the power of your prayers,
 a way 'in' presents itself to you,
Summon your courage and walk through.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly
Image courtesy of  Abandoned Scotland,

Sunday, March 3, 2013

SIlent Sermon Sunday

A Unexpected Gift from Colette & Toni 


Of all the gifts we gain by our 'spin' through life
Friends are one of the most unique and special.
Be sure to thank one of yours this week.


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Blest With Friends    

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Girl Power!

It's been awhile since I've posted about my sweet girls.  And this recent pic sent by Laura is a great time to stop and take a moment to ponder how things are going.

Olivia is no longer a baby...and at four she's well on her way to being a young lady.  The colorful character standing in front is our Ava! 

What strikes me about this snap, isn't the cuteness of the girls so much as it seems you can see a relationship has developed between these two individuals.  It's the magic of the bonding that I find so interesting.  These two have become sisters in spirit as well as by genetics.

How does that magic happen?  Through daily interaction.  Through guidance by the individuals around them.  But mostly by the threads of connection we all share when we agree to come to this earth and share a lifetime with each other.

What I also like about this pic is the sense of fun and attachment to each other the girls exhibit.  But mostly what I like is the chance to share them with you and hope they bring a smile to your face as they did to mine.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Livy & Ava's Great Aunt Hol

Monday, February 25, 2013

And They Ask Me Why I Drink!

Ring.....Ring....Ring.... "Good morning, Lakeview Animal Hospital. How can I help you?"
"Do you know Who this is?"
"Ohhh...why certainly, Princess Fiona, how may I serve you?"
"Please ask him to come to the phone."
"Your Highness, I'm sorry he's with a client at the moment."
DEEP ROYAL SILENCE and then, "HUMPH!"
"Of course Princess, forgive me, I don't know what I was thinking, I'll get him right now!"
Scant seconds later...
"Princess Fiona, I am here, how can I serve?"
"Good Day Doctor Ro, We wish to let you know that We have, once again, done our part.  We believe you have a child who is in need of a college fund, is this correct?"
"It is indeed, Highness!"
"Well, we have taken care of that.  Be ready when we come in to see you yet again."
"Princess Fiona, how would my family or I ever live without your grand patronage.  We are so very grateful!"
"Of course you are.  That will be all."

That toy?  The one at the top?  It languished in the toy box for months.  No one bothered with it.  Last night, we watched as Fiona ferreted it out and began softly gnawing on it.

This morning, Michael says, "You know that ring Fi got out of the box last night?  Take a look at it now."
"Holy crow!  Where are the pieces," I ask.
He just looks at me, "What pieces?"
And, if anyone asks me why I drink?  This would be a good example...very good example.


Thanks a heap Fiona.  I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm hoping that poop patrol this week will be a very pink and colorful event.  Because I sure don't need another vet bill.  You and Doctor Ro are spending way too much time together of late.

Namaste' TIll Next Time,
Holly aka Fiona's Handmaiden

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Silent Sermon Sunday

Rory shows baby Argyle the garden wall...
 
Whenever possible, take time to help another find their way.
Take time to help another learn.
Take time to care through sharing.
 
 
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly

Friday, February 22, 2013

It's A Door, Not Effin' Rocket Science!

 My Lion, the other night, declares, "That's IT!  I am going to Lowe's tomorrow and buying a pet door and we're going to pay to have it installed.  I'm heating the entire outside leaving that door ajar so we don't have to act like the doorman at the Ritz so Argyle can go in and out and in and out!" 

"Fine by me," I think.  I get weary trying to keep up with Argyle.  He's one of those dogs who doesn't really wish to be out or in.  What he likes is the process of going out to in and in to out.  Over.  And over.  And over again.  What he really needs is a revolving door but we opted to the pet door instead, which was successfully added to the back door a few days ago.  It's not the most comely thing I've added to my decor, but if it keeps me from opening the door a million time a day, hey, I'll get over it.

Fiona and Rory watch me closely while I explain that this new door is the bomb and will make their life so much better.  "You can go out anytime you want to now and you can jet in when you'd like!  This is going to be great!"  As you can see by their faces, they're not really buying in to my enthusiasm.

 Even Argyle, who was the instigator of this purchase looks a little excuse the expression, hang dogged, when I take him to show him his new escape hatch.  WTF, what do you mean you're not sure about it?!

The directions that came with said wonderful invention explain that you need to use treats to lure your dog through it the first few times so it can catch on to how it operates.  Okay, I figure I'll use the one thing I know that will entice....liver treats!!  Rory, who is the most finicky eater ever, will never turn down a liver treat.  Hell, he'd stab Fiona to get to one of these things.

I don't wish to tell you how many of these things were ingested those first hours of training.  Let's just say that I'm afraid my fingers may well smell like this forever....eww....

 And, still, this is how the door looks most of the time.  Not because the dogs don't want to go out, oh no, they'll sit there and whine for me to come and do my Humanly duties.  I was saying on FB, "Come on, Rory, just use the effin' door!!!"  To which a friend of mine retorted, "Rory is most likely saying the same to you!"  Thanks a heap.  Okay, I admit that was funny.  Rory, it's a door...just go through it; it's not rocket science, there's no secret code, just push it with your nose and go!

At any rate, as the time ticked on, Argyle the youngest and most energetic, figures out that he can go outside and bark his butt off anytime he feels like it.  So he's taking to it; every morning, though, he sits at the door and looks at me waiting for it to be opened.  I go over and push the flap and it's like he recalls "Oh yeah, that's right, I can do it this way now," as he pushes it and jets out.  He's learned the secret-  NO HESITATION!  Don't stop half-way, just go;  done that way, and the flap doesn't press down on your head.

Fiona, the Princess, is not as amused by it all.  However, if Argyle is out barking, Bossy Bess simply must go to supervise so she'll push and not very gracefully stumble out barking the entire time.

Rory? You have got to be kidding.  No way he wants anything to do with it.  Rory is 'head-shy' and he ducks if you put your hand over his head.  He's been this way since he was a pup; he hates anything to press down on his head.  The flap made of heavy, flexible plastic, is meant to bend easily as the dog pushes on it.  That means it will touch his head!!!  He looks at me as if to say, "Tis a bleedin' death trrrrap!  If tis all the same tu ye, ah wheel juz let me kidneys burrrst.  Ah wheelna use the fashing thing!" 

If you look up the word, 'stubborn', there's most likely a picture of a Scottish Terrier next to it to illustrate the definition.

Rory, you're going to become the poster child for the axiom, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks,"!!!  This leads me to consider, "Am I like that?"  When something new comes along, a way that could make my life easier and more in my control, do I dismiss it out of hand because it's not the way I've always done things?

I hope not, but I'd have to be honest and say that I know I do it more than is good for me.  Just because it's the way I've always done it, doesn't mean it's the way I should do it going forward.  I think that is true for anything, including relationships.  When new and credible information comes to you, allowing you to reconsider your circumstances, at the very least, give it a good consideration.  Maybe you'll decide that you're too old a dog to change, but at least you'll make a conscious decision. 

Do not say a word.  Not one single word!!  Sometimes a parent or owner or senior Human Being has to do what it takes to help another move past their trepidation.  I'm not a saint.  I simply am not going to waste the money invested and I'm giving up my doorman's great coat.  That dog is going to learn to use this door or this old dog, (by that I mean me,) is going to die trying.  Lead by example, I say!

And, sometimes, being brave enough to set an example of the willingness to try new things is all that is needed.  Good boy, Rory, I KNEW you could do it!


Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly  aka Mum
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