Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Few Precious Moments

I haven't been ignoring you. I'm still very much here. It's just that my days are taken up following this intrepid wee one around and making sure that Rory and Fiona don't stuff him in the dust bin.

Argyle has taken over the house; much like any new baby seems to do. And, much to the dismay of the orderly routine that all here had established. But, each day I see progress. Tiny steps to match his tiny paws.

While he catches a few minutes to re-charge his devilment tank, I want to use the time and make certain to wish all of us a Happy New Year. Truly, I do.

I don't make resolutions anymore. Well, let me take that back, I do make only one resolution: I resolve to stay open to the possibility of all that a year might bring me. That's the best that I can do.

But, I do make wishes and hopes for all that I know and love, so for you, I hope:

May you find the 'old' in the new
Hold those well loved, close to you.
May you find grace to say, 'Amen'
If times seem difficult, you'll know when.
May you always laugh and smile
And remember to rest awhile.
May you find the comfort in tears
When sad times appear.
May you learn to greet each new day
With expectations of good your way.
May you love, and like, and grow
And remember that Spirit loves you so.
May your wisdom grow through your living
And our world expand through your giving.
May others brighten your life's course
As you live in Light with no remorse.

Happy New Year and may this one bring so much more than you expected and bring with it the grace to live in hope and expectation of loving all of our lives, the salty and the sweet. See you all next year!

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Out of the Dark and Into The Light

It is Yule. The longest night and shortest day. The time to bring light into your home to scatter the dark spaces and places. A time to illuminate the dark corners of our thinking. To scatter our fears and concerns.

Tomorrow, the day grows by seconds and the night shrinks by those same seconds. The scales begin to tip into our favor of longer light and less dark. Tonight begins the New Year.

If you don't have a Yule log, that's all right, simply light a candle and watch the flame. Set your mind to the quiet of it and remember the gifts you have been given, and those who are still here to love you. Remember and smile at the ones who you love who left this life as well. They are still part of you even though it is now in a different way. Most likely you will feel them closer tonight as you do.

Being thankful for all you have and have experienced, opens the door to the new and sets the stage for good things to come to you in full measure.

I am grateful for the gift of love we have shared this year. See you in the New Year! A blessed Yuletide to you and yours!!

"See the blazing Yule before us...quickly now the old year passes...Fa La La La, La La La La!"

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Small Gift

You have to click on this image to get the full impact of it. When Michael and I were driving around in a neighborhood, we came across this tree in a corner lot. This is a tree that one individual took hours to complete. There were no wires that could be seen. I can't imagine how many thousands of lights this is...or how much patience it took to do this.

And, it was done to bring a smile and an "Ohhh!" of holiday magic to anyone who drives by. Freely given to all.

I do not know the people who did this, just that I'm glad that I happened upon the gift, sitting out in the yard, free for the taking.

Thank you, Sir, for your gift of light. The image that makes this year's holiday for me.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Amazed

Monday, December 5, 2011

What Child Is This?

This is my Nativity village. Please, click on the image to see it larger so you can enjoy all the people who live there. When I was about six or seven years old, Nanny The World's Meanest Woman, took me downtown during the Christmas season. She was on a very specific mission that trip.

She had decided that I should have a Creche. She didn't tell me what she had in mind until we got to the floor where there was a huge array of Nativity scenes all clustered together. Some were large, some very small. Some were simple and others grand. All brightly colored. The figures of some looked like works of art. I was amazed by all the people and all the baby Jesus and Marys and Josephs and shepherds and wise men. It was a sight and all these years later, I can still remember it clearly.

Nanny and I walked slowly, stopping to admire the figurines. When we got through all of them, it was then that she announced that she wanted to buy one for me. I could pick whichever one I wanted. Her only wish was that I pick one made in Italy, of course. I was absolutely thrilled; then I was overwhelmed. So many pretty ones to pick from. I took quite awhile deciding.

I finally rested on the manger with the deep blue background and the gold figurines. They seemed so rich and regal. I liked that they were different from all the other brightly painted ones. The angel watching over the baby was tall and stately. The baby's face was sweet and Mary seemed beautiful to me. A face that I imagined my Mother's might be, or hoped. I was still young enough to dream that my Mom would come home and we would meet.

We wrapped it up and took it home. I was thrilled to show Daddy. We put it under the Christmas tree and I remember sitting and gazing at it. It wasn't until the next Christmas, that I realized that my set didn't have any shepherds with it; just the three wise men! That was a bit disappointing. After all, it was the shepherds who welcomed the new baby; the wise men didn't get there until three years after!

Over the years, I rectified that shortage by purchasing town's people and shepherds and animals to come and question, "What Child is this?" And each Christmas season, I looked at it with new eyes as I unpacked the pieces and set it up in a major spot of each of my homes. Each Christmas Eve when the clock struck midnight clear, I placed the Baby Jesus between Mary and Joseph and stopped to offer a prayer to the season and whisper my wishes for the year to come.

And, that Nativity has been part of all the Christmas Eves that Laura and Sean and all my friends and family shared in my home over the years.

Now that Laura has Livy and Ava, I decided it is time to pass it to her so she and her girls can have it as part of their Christmas traditions. So, I packed it all up and when we were down to visit a week or so ago I gave it to her, telling the story of Nanny taking me to pick it out. She was delighted and said, "Livy will love this, Aunt Holly! Are you sure you want to give this to us now? Don't you want to keep it?"

And, the answer is yes; yes, I want to keep it. It's been part of Christmas for the past 50 years! But more than wanting to keep it, is the feeling of happiness I get when I think of Livy and Ava helping Laura unwrap the pieces and setting it up in their home. I've always known I was going to give it to Laura...and it seemed a good time, this year I am 56, to do it now.

But, as much as I might feel a twinge at having passed it along to my beloved girl and her girls, I won't feel sad. Because the trick of living life well is to learn to find the new in the old. And the need to begin new customs that turn into traditions. And, that's what Michael and I are doing as we experience each passing Christmas with each other.

So, this is my nativity now. Simple and serene. With only the central figures from the story to remind me of the beauty of the season. Michael and I picked it together and the crystal stars, one for each Christmas we've shared, glitter over their heads.

The representation is different, but the Child is the same. The story still has deep meaning. And, now as I build memories with My Lion, I know that another important part of my Christmas past will continue through Laura, Eric, Livy, and Ava.

After all, that's really the meaning of the season, isn't it?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Louisa Dituri's grand daughter, aka Great Aunt Holly

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

In the peace of the night, the owls called.
The sign that winter is here once again.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I Swear I Didn't Peek!

I already know what I'm getting for Christmas, but I swear I didn't peek and go searching for the box.

I already know because my Christmas gift is also my 5th anniversary gift. It is too big to be just for one special occassion. And, I had to agree that I wanted the present before Michael finalized his surprise.

Because, well, after all, I will have to work hard to keep it in good working order. And, well, My Lion just wanted to make certain I would be totally delighted. And, it's one of the most surprising and wonderful gifts I've gotten since, well, since he surprised me with my diamond engagement ring on New Years Day six years ago!

Want to see it? Okay...

I am pleased to introduce Argyle MacPiper, my new brindle Scottie! He is one of the Rocky Creek Scotties and Holly's brother. I am so thrilled and I can't wait until we pick him up later this month. I'm not sure how Rory and Fiona will like this notion, but I know it will all work out.

Don't be surprised if Fiona renames him, Stuffie...

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Look! Up In The Sky.... It's A....

I'm laying in bed this morning, still involved with my post-Thanksgiving, turkey induced comma....minding my own business and luxuriating in the warmth and softness of the flannel sheets. Having a love affair with Morpheus.

The bedroom door creeks open a wee crack and then next there is a Scottie presence anxiously standing next to the bed. And, it goes like this:

Rory: Mum! Mum! Ye mun wake now!
Holly: Boydog, no, go away. Mum is resting...
Rory: MUM! Ye mun get up ast ah need ye strrraight away!
Holly: Go play with Fiona, I'm meditating...
Holly: Oh for heaven's sake, Rory, what is it?!
Rory: Gae and get yer picsturrre taker now! Ah need ye tu capture the mirrracle that Sirius has sent tuday!
Holly: What the heck are you talking about? What miracle??
Rory: (As he noses the curtains at the bedroom window aside,) Luk at the sky!!! See it?!
Holly: Oh my goodness! Yes, I see it...
Rory: Quick like Mum aforrre it gaes away....

I jump out of bed,run for the camera, and come back to the window as Rory is anxiously hopping about. And, this is what had him so excited. Can you see it too?

Click on the picture to make it bigger if you can't see that, in the sky hangs a Cross of St. Andrew! Yes, that is Scotland's flag done in nature's colors.

St. Andrew's day in November 30th, so this is a wee early, but Rory and Fiona are thrilled that Sirius sent them a living sign of their homeland heritage. Now that is a site to earn an ARRROOOOO! We stood there wondering about it and then Rory whispered, "Ack, tis grrrrand, aye?" Me, "Yes Boydog, it is indeed."

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka MUM

Sunday, November 20, 2011

May your day of rest be as restful.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Thursday, November 17, 2011

90 Whole Days And Counting

Well, here is Ava and her three month picture. Laura wrote, "Ava is now three months and I asked Livy to help me by holding the sign. Needless to say she was quite excited by that and wouldn't stop waving it around!"

I couldn't help but laugh when I look at Ava's expression. Is it just me or do you, also, hear her pleading, "Someone please, please help me!"

When I look back on Livy's series of monthly birthday pictures that I've shared on the blog, I get an immediate feeling of serenity and calm. Love in quiet motion captured in a quick click of a camera.

Somehow, now, when looking at photos of Livy & Ava together, I get the distinct impression that things at the Gonzalez house have changed and life as we knew it, will never be the same. Let the wild rumpus begin!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly x2

Monday, November 14, 2011

What Can You Say?

Saturday evening, Michael and I were standing on line in the men's department at J.C. Penney, waiting for our favorite sales man to complete his business with an elderly couple.

We couldn't help but hear Gary as he said all the usual things, such as, "Oh, yes, I think the tie you've chosen will go very well with this suit and a white shirt. You will look very nice."

Then a bit later, he said to the woman, "Aren't they twin boys? Played football for Franklin? Yes, I waited on them a couple of years back when they needed suits for home coming!"

The woman smiled and said, "Yes! You have a great memory. Those are our grandsons and they're in their last year in college now. She was their older sister."

And, then Michael and I turned to chat with each other and waited patiently while Gary demonstrated once again why he's so good at his job.

When it was our turn, he answered our questions and chatted. Then he said, "That couple came in tonight so he could buy a suit for a funeral. Did you hear the news about the Pittsburgh couple who were killed while they were on honeymoon? Well, that's their Granddaughter. They were only married six days and it sounds like everyone really loved them. So very sad."

And, I know we live in a small town, but even so, I couldn't help but wonder, "What are the odds, that we'd have an opportunity to put a human face on a tragic news story like that?" On a Saturday night at the mall, we run into a couple who, just a few short weeks ago were gathered with loved ones and celebrating the happy marriage of two young people full of promise and joy. What can you say?

I don't personally know any of these people. But, that few short moments brought me in touch with this on a personal level. It reminds me to be kind when I am out and about, because you never, never can know what sadness can be walking around with a person as they carry their packages through the mall.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Photo by Joe Appel Photography

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

A quiet Sunday morning...such a blessing.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Like Oil & Water

This critter is a vole, sometimes called a meadow mouse. I looked hard to find an image that make it look less icky... trust me, when you see them, they aren't cute at all.

This critter is, of course, Rory. I don't have to look hard to find an image to make him look cute because it's just not possible for him to look any other way.

Once again, he reminded me that voles and he simply do not mix. As of this morning, it's: Voles/0 : Rory 12. You go Boydog.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka The Great White Hunter's Mommer

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

They Grow Up So Fast!

Ahhh....isn't she adorable?! That's little Holly Dolly with her eyes open and sporting her new red collar. Oh yeah, you know you want to cuddle her. Go on, admit it! After all, she's getting used to it.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Dogmother Holly to Holly
Photo courtesy of Lynn Jennings Spencer

Monday, November 7, 2011

Same Face, Different Perspective

One of the things that cousin Val and I came across in this summer's cleaning out of my aunt Kat's apartment, were photos that she treasured and kept. This one of her parents, must have been a favorite because it was sandwiched under the glass of her dresser. A place that she was sure to see every day when she stopped to grab an under garment or dab some perfume behind her ears.

I was unfamiliar with this one. I don't know where it was taken, or what was the occasion. It must have been a special one, for Nanny is wearing her jewelry. I've seen other photos of Nanny, The World's Meanest Woman with her husband of fifty-plus years, but this one is new to me. And, I don't know if it's because it is now mine through the poignant process of losing my last aunt, or that I'm simply older now, but for whatever reason this photo has become quickly special.

I've shared bits and pieces of my life with Nanny and Grandpop in stories like Going Downtown and In English Please, but when I look at this photo, I know there are tons more stories that I have locked inside that I hope bubble up to the surface.

As an adult child when I look at this photo, I realize that as much as I might know about these two mainstays of my childhood, there's so much I don't know about them. Will never know about them.

I remember my Grandfather as pleasant, dapper, laughing and smiling easily, flirting with the ladies, welcoming to the patrons who came to our restaurant, who spoke English with his quaint broken accent. He hugged frequently and patted your back. I don't ever recall him in 'casual' clothes, he always wore a button down shirt and suit pants. He very often wore a carnation in his lapel when working the dinner service at The Town House. He liked his Old Grand Dad and water each night before dinner. He hated rigatoni, calling them "blankets," whenever Nanny made them for dinner. And, the picture confirms my memories of him.

What I find to be the most interesting, however, is the genuine smile on my Grandmother's face. That's not something I remember about her. I recall occasional smiles...occasional bouts of laughter when she was speaking with someone in the family about some experience or memory.

But mostly I remember her as quiet, stern, opinionated, cutting, organized, capable, determined, reserved around anyone not part of the family, cool. And, in a word- mean. I also remember her being an excellent cook, home maker, captain of the restaurant kitchen, the woman who kept us warm, clean, fed.

Her English, as I remember it, was not so smooth as Pop's. Her dialect came through much stronger. She had hair that was quite long and worn in a controlled bun at the back of her head, under a fine hair net that often had tiny beads of various colors throughout. Her hair was silver in the front and sides, but very dark at the crown and back of her head. An odd juxtaposition, just as many parts of her were juxtaposed.

When I look at this picture, I can see she is wearing the gold bracelet that she left to me. I wore it every day until the finish wore in places and the hinging mechanism broke beyond repair. I loved that bracelet, and now realize, that what I really loved is that she left it to me. It's long since gone...but my memories of Nanny are still very much here.

When I look at this picture, I see a smile that she obviously possessed but hid. It's almost startling to me. Where did she keep it? Why didn't she bring it out more? Did she use it only on certain people and in certain situations? And, if so, why don't I remember it as clearly as I can remember the color of her hair and that she used Pond's Cold Cream every night before bed?

It's not as though she saved them all for Pop. He used to aggravate her most days. She was constantly telling him what and when to do things. Just as she did all of us. They could be very sparky with each other. Mostly, Pop ignored things and just quietly went about his day. But, there were times when the Albaneze was quite voluble at 201 W. 27th Street.

When I see this picture, now as an adult, I see a woman who seems to know joy. Knows how to smile. Knows how to be in relationship with another Human Being. And, I'll always wonder why she didn't or couldn't share that with me. Or why that is not my recollection of her. Did she love me? her way. Of this I have no doubt. I just don't have the sweet memories of her like so many do of their Grandmothers.

And, I suppose that while I will always call her, Nanny The World's Meanest Woman, what this picture gives me is a new perspective of a familiar face and forces me to consider that most of us, no matter how well someone thinks they may know us, are so much more and complex. And often require us to open our minds and hearts to consider them further.

When I look at this picture, I am compelled to say, "Hello Nanny, it's so good to meet you."

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Louisa Dituri's Grand Daughter

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

We are grateful for the signs of bounty & friends in our lives.
Thank you, Rebecca, for a wonderful day working together!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka The Applesauce Maker

Monday, October 31, 2011

Charity vs. Socialism

I suspect that this blog post may lose me a few readers; I'll have to live with that. Because this is such an intensely emotional topic, I've stayed silent for a very long time. Not because I don't have my opinions, but more because I couldn't clearly articulate my thoughts.

I am liberal in my views about people being happy in their lives and life-styles, but I admit to being fiscally conservative and worried that there is way too much government involvement in my personal life. Trust me, I like money as much as the next guy; day to day living is made easier with it. And, one of the best lines I ever heard about money was from my friend Bernie who said, "While it's true that money can't buy happiness, try living without it!" Amen, sister, Amen.

But as it relates to current affairs, I can't in good conscience not weigh in. Not especially after a flip cartoon has gone viral on Facebook and other places. For me, it's the last straw. So get ready. Read at your own peril.

The cartoon I'm talking about is one of a man speaking with Jesus and he is saying, "But, Jesus if we feed all these people, won't that be!!!" Kill me now. Really? Really?? Now we want to bring Jesus into this? Shame! Because most of those who use this cartoon to prove a point against the Unfeeling, Uncaring Economic Establishment, also believe religion is the opiate of the people and will have none of it!

You are hereby put on notice: You can't have it both ways!

Okay, I'll play your silly game: Going along with the notion of "What would Jesus do," this man who fed the masses with the loaves and fishes is also the man who preached very clearly, "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." Meaning, these two states are clearly separate and both must have their due.

He's also the man who was reticent to do this miracle of the loaves and fishes just as he was to call attention to himself by changing water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana. He did not see it as his place to make global, sweeping changes to the state of things. He did preach that we should all examine our conscience and act on a situation presented to us in order to deepen our sense of understanding and compassion.

The Christ was NOT a socialist; he was not political in any way, (much to dismay of many of his disciples, like Judas, who were hoping he was going to liberate the Jews from the Roman occupation.) What The Christ was, is a highly evolved thinker, and an active thread of Spirit who understood the soul-stretching qualities of compassion, faith, and charity. He taught us that the earthly body and life should not be our only concern and what we should really be doing is expanding our connection with Spirit.

He appears to have been an individual who lived in the world as it was while hoping to grow spiritually from the experiences it offered. He did good works, cured many, provided us with miracles to consider our potential, but he did not insist that the good works be mandated by an governing body. He also said, "The Poor will always be with you." Which means that he understood that all of us at one time or another will be poor, either in spirit or physically. It also means that The Poor are our opportunity to grow our sense of compassion and love by addressing their needs as we can. Or not; it's our individual call.

But, before I go much further let's make sure we're all working with the same understanding of the words socialism and charity.

As defined by Webster's Dictionary:
Definition of SOCIALISM
1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods
2: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property b : a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state
3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

To my mind, the third definition is what's afoot here. And, if I had not spent time in Russia, I would not understand the impact of that sort of transition. But I did spend time there, and I did see what the years of Communism did to the country. I did hear the tales of what is was like to live in a place where Socialism leads to misery.

As my one Russian friend said, "Yes, the notion of equality for all meant that we were all equally miserable. Contrary to what we were told, it did not make for an elevation in our status as citizens; Socialism lead us all to our lowest common status. Marx and his people were exempt from the horrors of the system they started. They lived well while most of us starved."

When I asked Kira to explain further or give an example she said, "Dalink, do you know why Russians starved and suffered through bread lines? Look around at how vast our country is, there is farmland everywhere. But, we had no equipment and no one would farm it because the Government came and took what the farmers produced, "For the People," and did not pay them. They told the farmers what crops to plant and how much and regulated all parts of their living until the farmers couldn't farm or wouldn't farm because they could not make a living."

She continued, "So the farms went fallow and there was none who would take it up because there was no way to make it work. Now my country must start over again. Almost from the beginning, but there still are few farmers and much more land than farmers to tend it."

Another friend of mine, Ludmilla, still shared her family home with a man who had been placed in it during the Communist regime. I absolutely couldn't get my head around that as she explained, "I cannot get him to leave. I have slowly bought my flat back but he doesn't care because he has lived there for years and has no intentions of leaving. I must pay rent and for food and utilities and all the things that the Communist said they would take care of. Thank goodness Communism is ended, but now I must buy these things and the money is not there. It is very hard to make it work. This man, I have no legal recourse to remove him. If he does not wish to go, I will have to wait until he dies."

Yep, the third definition is the one you should be worried about the most...

Because let's be clear: Charity that is mandated by a government is not charity; it is socialism. A government established program that makes certain that everyone has equal status is not Nirvana, it's Socialism.

As defined by Webster's Dictionary:
Definition of CHARITY
1: benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
2: a) generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering; also aid given to those in need, b) an institution engaged in relief of the poor, c) public provision for the relief of the needy
3: a) a gift for public benevolent purposes, b) an institution (such as a hospital,) founded by such a gift
4: lenient judgment of others

The word most often associated in these various definitions is, gift. A gift is something that you decide to give to another. It's not a mandate. It's not a requirement. It's not a legal or governmental parameter. It is your choice.

While it might be expected, such as someone might expect that they get gifts on their birthday, if no one gives them a gift, the birthday boy or girl cannot go to the government and insist that they make amends and/or make us give them a gift.

Okay, so now that we're clear on the difference between these two words, let's keep going with this discussion. Feel free to give me your thoughts on all of this, so we all can learn by sharing.

Currently, with the whole Occupy Wall Street efforts, people are attempting to bring into clear focus the growing divide between the Haves vs. The Have Nots. I get it. While I don't agree with the tactics, I'm sure parents felt the same way when I and my friends were out protesting the Vietnam War.

The need for change is always brought about by civil unrest, it seems. Protesting and making public statements is also part of that. So for those who are genuinely there to express their concern and the need for change, good on you. But, let's face it...there are hundreds who are there just because it's a way to vent anger and hatred toward who and whatever. Some aren't even sure why they're there except that it's a happening. Some are there because they don't know what else to do to impact this issue and move things in a positive way.

But, mostly it's about fear and frustration. It's about seeing that others seem to have way more than you do and thinking that's not fair. It's about feeling like David facing off against the Goliath of big business and banks. It's about worrying how you're going to find a job in this crappy economy. It's about bills you can't pay. Or being in debt that you don't want to take responsibility for now that you're drowning. It's about being strapped with a home that's lost a significant part of its value and/or being upside down in a mortgage. How are you supposed to survive? Why doesn't someone do something to help you? What's to keep you alive body and soul?

AND ALL OF THESE ARE VALID CONCERNS, but they're not going to be answered by taking money from those who have it and giving it to those who don't. They're not going to be answered by impinging on the ability for businesses and individuals to make as much money as they can. It's not going to be answered by more government involvement and regulation. They're not going to be answered by the Liberals' insistence that the government Level The Playing Field and give to those who don't have money from those who do.

Don't you understand that when the thought, "The government is just going to have to pay for this because I/we need it," what you are doing is forcing your needs/wants/ desires onto every other citizen? WE are the government. Our taxes are the funds for all of these programs, bail-outs, welfare, student loans left unpaid, bankruptcies, and mortgages that are foreclosed upon.

If you need help, it should be my choice to help you! It's not your right to expect that simply because you need it, it should be provided!

It's about you becoming right with the idea of money and understanding it for what it is. It's about more of us becoming better educated about how money actually works. It's about seeing how the money is made by individuals and organizations. And it's about following the American dream of doing the same. It's about the opportunity to rise UP to affluence and success.

It's about adjusting our thinking about what are truly personal rights. It's about taking responsibility for the financial choices you made and honoring them. The government is not the answer. You are the answer. If you want to be the master of your own destiny, you can't ask the government to step in and micro-manage your destiny when you don't like how it's going. The United States of America was founded upon the principles of opportunity....all of us have opportunity. Some of us run with it and some of us don't. It has little to do with how hard someone's circumstances are and how easy someone else's might be.

If we are so concerned that we no longer understand how to be charitable and seem to be cold and uncaring, I'm with you on that. We, as a nation, are forgetting what it means to be charitable. ALL of us are forgetting it. Not just the ones who have the money, as the Liberals would have you believe. In fact, it's still true that the wealthiest of Americans are giving record amounts of money to charities and causes. But the rest of us? Not so much. "I don't have enough money to take care of myself in this economy! You can't expect me to give money to others!" It's time to rethink this comment.

While money is often the indicator of charitable behavior, it is not the entire answer. Charity of spirit and willingness to extend ourselves to others in any way possible is also part. By volunteering our time. By being a mentor. By being neighborly. By checking on an elderly person who lives near and seeing what you can do to help them. By offering to help a young mother with her children. By offering a neighbor who doesn't drive if they would like to go with you when you go to the grocery store. By hosting a pot luck dinner where everyone brings what they can and many are fed for just a small investment. By doing unseen acts of kindness. By becoming an active member of your community.

We say, "Charity begins at home." That's so very true. For those of us who are loved, we first learn to be charitable by how we deal with those who occupy our home space. We have our parents then teach us what it means to be charitable to those who live near us. We join civic groups; we go to houses of worship; we become a good neighbor.

Oh wait, most of us don't do those things anymore. Religious custom is fading for a vast majority of us. That's fine with me, if you don't want to go to a religious address, but each of us must find an alternative means of connecting with others and become aware of those who are in need. We must find a way to become a charitable part of community.

You have to find a way to develop a charitable nature, not just fixate on financial concerns. We must teach each other what charity means by our actions, not by Occupying Wall Street. And, please, stop looking to the government to mandate your financial security.

This little girl is Merlin. She is Michael's foster child. About nine years ago, a speaker came to the church he attended to talk about their charitable work with children. He decided he would make the monthly contribution to their efforts. Merlin is his assigned child. Very few people, up until I just told you, even know he has done this.

On a regular basis, we get a letter updating her situation. When she was very small, her aunt wrote these letters which are translated into English for us. They are full of small details about how Merlin is a good girl and likes school, etc.

Now, Merlin writes to us about her days and sometimes sends a drawing. It's very sweet. In all cases, the letter is full of statements of gratitude to, "Godfather Michael" for his support and care. In the letter that held this picture, she talked about being excited with her new school clothes!

And, here's the thing that illustrates true charity to me. Michael started this when he was making next to nothing as a new funeral director, (this industry, sad to say, pays terrible wages in general,) and he was paying a mortgage, child support, the rent on his apartment, and all that goes with life.

Still, he decided that he wanted to help a child thousands of miles away because, as financially strapped as he was, her circumstances were much more dire. We are spiritually richer for his decision. Even the months in this economy, when we aren't sure how we'll pay all of our bills, he still honors his commitment to this girl.

The poor will always be with you. It's time for all of us to decide if the fact that we might be economically poor means that we are also going to be made poor in spirit.

Bad economies and world crisis come and go. Your spirit's richness and depth depends entirely on you and your willingness to grow it. No government can make your life better if you aren't willing to understand that being rich has little to do with economics, and everything to do with your ability to care and reach out to others. And, most importantly, your willingness to reach for more and better for yourself, despite the odds that seem against you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Rich

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Dear Spirit,
That was a good trick you pulled.
Now, can I have my treat?

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Fairy Dogmother

Is this not the cutest wee Scottie you've seen in awhile? She's so new her eyes aren't even opened yet.

She is one of five healthy Scots delivered recently over at Rocky Creek Scotties. She was the first to be born.

And, in honor of me, she's been named Holly...

How cool is that? I'm not certain that her family will keep the name or not. But I will always know she was named after me.

Even if I can't talk My Lion into a third Scottie in the family, knowing she is there and making someone delightfully happy is still pretty good.

Oh, Holly, you are so adorable! Thanks Lynn for the huge honor!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Even the worn, the brittle, the spent among us add beauty to the landscape.
If only we develop the eyes to recognize this.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My Three Suns

No, that's not a type-o in the title...I'm a lucky woman, I have three suns to brighten my galaxy.

Yesterday, Evan left to visit the east side of our big state and spend time with some of his pals before heading back to the base. He was going to also visit with his Grandfather and drop off a gift from his tour overseas.

We decided it would be a nice thing to do, to take the journey with him. So, even after Michael drove 680 miles in two days for a business meeting, we hopped in the Santa Fe and made the journey. The tripometer turned over 1000 miles about 20 miles from home. That's a lot of driving in 72 hours!

It was fun to be on the road with Evan's car following along. Now, that takes a great deal of restraint on the part of my boy because he has a 400 horse power GTO, and well, he could have been in Hanover by the time the Santa Fe was out of the driveway. Okay, that might have been a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

I look at it this way, we saved him from getting a speeding ticket. We are good parents.

Dad Frock was delighted to see us. Even Rory & Fiona were part of things as they ran out on his tiny balcony and announced to the world that a Frock reunion was in session. Sister-in-love Theresa was there and friend Joan stopped by, too.

Some laughs, sharing of stories and adventures and it was back in the car to head west again.

But, not before I gave Evan a big hug and told him how wonderful it was to have him home with us for a short while.

Today, as Michael and I go about various chores that "need done," as they say here in Western PA, (for some reason the words, to be are never used here,) the house seems a great deal more quiet and less lived in.

Yes, some people leave a big hole in their leaving. It must be a sign of how much they mean to you and how much love is shared. It leaves you more than a little blue, but you know you're lucky to feel the blues.

Safe travels there and back again, my Boychic!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka WSM, aka A Member in good standing of the Frock Club

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Summer Yields Her Last

That's the last of it. The garden has been put to bed and this is all that is left. It's pretty, the shapes and textures. I suppose I'll have to see if I can successfully fry the green tomatoes.

My neighbor, Cindy, and I did not have a lot of luck with our garden this year. The cucumber vines and the squash plants turned brown and stopped producing. They went very early. The tomatoes produced fruit that split quickly and damaged. And not near as much yield this year. Even the cherry tomatoes were stingy this year.

The second planting of green beans did produce a heavenly small yield of sweet and tender bits of green heaven, but the peas and snap peas hardly posted at all this year.

Always the one to think I've done something wrong, I really fretted over my green thumb turned black, but I heard from other 'farmers' that their back yard plots didn't fair much better. So that's left me wondering what may be going on. I'd appreciate any insights you can share.

How did your garden grow, Mary Mary Quite Contrary? Mine, no so good. How about yours?

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Farmer Dietor

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Final Drive

This handsome Greyhound is Drive. I do not know all the details; I simply know he is gone. And, like a great many people, I am heart broken. His owner is someone who I have come to know in this crazy cyber world of ours, via Facebook. Alisha and I have never met. I don't know if I'd recognize her in a crowd. But, I do know I'm pretty torn up for her and her family.

It happened yesterday. Drive was lounging on the sofa; it may have been a stroke. I can only imagine the sense of absolute hysteria and desperation Alisha must have felt. She tried to lift Drive and get him in the car to rush him to the vet. But, he was way too big and she was way too small to do it on her own. If love had been enough to move Drive, he would have been in that office the second it happened.

Her husband raced home and they sped to the vet's, but the damage was too complete.

For LOVE, Drive, she did. And that love showed in every act of care and kindness she freely gave him. She did a great deal, by first adopting him and then daily showering him with affection. Or as the Greyhound community likes to pun, a Greyt deal. Alisha would tell you that what Drive gave her in return is beyond measure.

In the end, Alisha did the only thing she could do for her beloved boy, they took him by stretcher outside into the bright autumn afternoon...she held him in her arms on the grass, in the sun while he left her. In the end, she did the best thing an owner can do for a pet; she was there with love. His Facebook page, today, is steeped in post after post of tributes and thoughts from all of us who came to see what Drive was up to and saying. It's heartwarming to see the out-pouring of feelings.

Quite the photographer, Miss A has taken some beautiful pictures of her houndies. She's also very witty and when she wrote in Drive's voice, you could hear his droll personality so clearly. She penned the now famous Drive line, "Whut I em duin' here is," as she captioned a photo of Drive in action. Many, many times these could make me laugh out loud. But mostly, they gave me a smile and a moment of quiet when I could just rest in the beauty of a love affair between a woman and her rescue dog.

On many levels, Alisha and I are unlikely 'friends'. Our points of view are vastly different. Our world views are miles apart, as are our politics, life experiences, and ideas of Spirit. But, what we do share is being writers, a keen sense of humor, a willingness to share the important things in our life for the enjoyment of others, a strength of character when facing life challenges, and our deep love for our animal kin. I think the things that we have in common are the more important things.

Especially our love for our animals. And how we struggle to gain our equilibrium in the emptiness that follows their leaving. Especially when one as special as Drive has gone. For reasons we can't even explain, some bonds are tighter and the loss is more heart-wrenching.

So, Whot I em doin' heer is sayin' how very sorry I am for your huge loss, Alisha. Thank you for sharing Drive with us and giving us so many greyt moments of laughs, smiles, and images to remember. And, until we meet again, Drive, run free and fast.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka A Drive Fan
Images by Alisha Berry

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Many Faces of Love

Ava looks a bit bemused by this picture business....and well, she may not take to having a camera flashed at her as much as Miss Livy seemed to take to it. However, we will have our monthly pictures for her first year! Laura is good like that, making sure from the very beginning that both of her girls feel loved in equal measure.

As to whether the girls feel that will be on them, not for Laura and Eric's efforts to do the right thing. It took me a long time to understand that how loved one feels is not always an exterior thing. Meaning, no matter how much or little love one feels from another is very often a product of what we allow; what we recognize; what we will accept; what we choose to feel. We have to be emotionally healthy enough to recognize love in all of its multiple forms.

Admittedly, it's easier to sense love when you are around loving, kind, caring individuals. The sort who are obvious with their affection. But, the more emotionally mature one is, the more one is able to identify love in action, as well as love in words and romantic ideals. Like, all these years later, I know that Nanny, The World's Meanest Woman, loved me and her family. But, she showed that love in the way she kept us warm and clean and well fed. It was not in her to talk about love or even saying, "I love you." Her life in the Old Country was too hard and dire to have learned the gentle, flowery parts of love.

If you want to know what I'm talking about, this ability to be open and ready for love, think about some that you know-- No matter how much you do for them, or say to them, or attempt to let them know they are loved, it's never, never, ever enough. After awhile you get worn out in your efforts to make them feel loved and part of the important parts of your life. Finally, you get to the point where you just can't give anymore. You won't give anymore. You just can't.

People like that have internal work to can't love them into lovability. You can't love them enough to ever make them understand. You can't make them feel love. You can't explain to them that there is a vast difference between being lovable and being needy.

It's not until we learn to fall and be in love with ourselves that we can be open and receive love from external sources. And for most of us, that takes years of struggling until we finally get it. If all other forms of love vanished, would you still understand love because of what you give yourself? I hope so.

I'd like to think I've worked hard to understand that it's my willingness to be open to love that has made me feel more loved. I've stopped expecting that love will come in a form that I can easily comprehend or digest. All forms of true love are worthy and welcome. Because love is, after all, love. There will never be enough of it. Who am I to turn it down if it's not the color I like best?

Also, I've learned that you can't chase love or demand it. You can't go to a dry well to find water; likewise, you can't expect love from individuals and situations that aren't right for you, aren't meant for you. You have to have the courage to move on to the places and people who are supposed to be in your life. And you must be willing to learn the art of loving yourself so that it remains the one constant in a life which is constantly changing.

Feeling all the forms of love requires that you accept an individual just as they are in your life. You must give them the latitude to love you in their way. Be grateful for it as it comes and continue to expect more love in life.

And, following Nanny's example of Love In Action, I made Thanksgiving dinner yesterday. The whole kit 'n caboodle. Yep, right down to the cranberries. While Evan is here and Melissa could be here, too, the whole Frock Family sat down and was grateful to be together and share a meal of thanksgiving. It's more about a state of mind than a date on the calender, don't you think?

I have to go now. Rory just walked in and stood up on my chair. He only does this occasionally and it means he wants to sit on my lap and give me Scottie smooshies. Who am I to turn down puppy love?! My wish for you is that you feel Love today. And, if no one is around to make it easy for you to sense that love exists, please, whisper, "I truly Love YOU," to yourself and really, really mean it.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Loved

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Evan has made it safely home from his tour of duty.
He is home with us for a few short days.
We are blessed; so are you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka WSM

Monday, September 19, 2011

Just So You Know...

There is a good possibility that I said a prayer for you this day, or sent a thought {{hug}}, or deliberately smiled when your name drifted through my thoughts. And for those of you, of whose belief system I am sure, I've said a prayer in that vein. It is said that praying for a person, 'by name,' is the most powerful form of prayer. I like the notion of being able to amp up a simple good thought into something that supports and nurtures.

If I dreamed of you in the night, when I awoke I sent a blessing. If your name comes to me during the day, I stop and send you a specific good thought. If you are dealing with a physical issue or energetic imbalance, with your permission, I have sent Reiki. Because, I think we all need this.

I haven't been awake all that long, but for some reason today, if I were to post all the names that have stopped to visit with me, the list would be quite long.

So, please know that I 'heard' you and sent a positive thought spiraling up and out with your name attached like a card on a balloon released into a clear blue sky.

All these years attempting to understand the nature of the relationship with Spirit means that now I am certain of some things but honestly, prayer isn't one of them. I can't say with a certainty that I understand what constitutes prayer. I just know that being in contact to all that is good seems like a definition.

So just so you know, I heard you and sent a 'prayer'. Or, loving experiences I've shared with you crossed my mind and I whispered, 'thank you.' Or, if you are scared and worried or dealing with a hard issue, your need has been acknowledged and supported.

Or, for any of another reason and causes...just so you were thought of with positive energy and love this day.

Namaste' Till Next Time,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Blessings on you wee Ava, you are a miracle.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Commence The Giggling!

There are few things that I will miss about summer when it's gone. One of them is fresh corn. Livy would agree. Don't fret about the fact that the ear of corn is as big as her head. She can tackle it!

Each season, just like each person, has virtues and delicious parts. Hope you have the opportunity to experience that today. Yum!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Welcome Home

"I do not understand the mystery of grace--only that it meets us where we

are, but does not leave us where it found us."

~ Ann Lamont

I hope today, you have a chance to rest in the light and feel the grace all around you. It's cool, gray, and rainy as I write this. Autumn is definitely dancing closer. There is a sense of relief and quiet that follows the blaze of Summer days.

Namaste' Till Next Time,


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Because Americans will and can never forget...but more miraculously, they move forward from tragedy and build it to triumph.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Remembers
image of the Freedom Tower Fountain thanks to the Internet

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Forgive Me A Little Pout?

Please understand that I am very aware that thousands have lost everything thanks to Hurricane Irene and her flooding aftermath. The pictures are awful and now the east coast is getting pounded by the left-overs from tropical storm Lee. And adding insult to injury, Hurricane Katia is swirling her mischief in the Atlantic.

Michael and I were scheduled to leave Friday for a vacation that we've planned for almost a year. The dogs had reservations at Camp Scanlon- (We have the greatest neighbors who actually look forward to Rory and Fiona staying at their home. I believe their enthusiasm runs along the same premise as that regarding grandchildren-- all the fun AND they eventually go home again!

At any rate, My Lion and I were all ready to meet my brother, sister-in-law, her mom, Laura, Eric, Livy, Baby Ava, and our dear friends Carole & Al for a beautiful week in a spectacular beach house in Rodanthe on the Outer Banks. Years ago, this is the crowd who used to get together and rent a house at various beach paradises. We always had a blast! I was so looking forward to introducing Livy & Ava to our sandy adventures.

The problem is that Hatteras Island remains under a mandatory evacuation until September 17; the day we were supposed to come HOME!


So, I hope you can forgive me while I pout for a bit. I'll get over it long before they get the Island reopened. Blessings on the people trying to pull their lives back together.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Thanks to Flkr for this adorable image of a toddler named Dova

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

Even in the worst of storms, you are never alone.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Thinking of Hurricane Irene

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Now I'm Not Sure...

I've always been considered funny. Some think I'm hysterical. Occasionally I'm described as droll. I can go on've read them here if you follow the blog and find them amusing. I used to be the Queen of Sarcasm. Not so much any more. Every once in awhile, I'll get that blinding flash of the absolute ridiculousness of a moment and have to share it, but for the most part, my sarcasm stays closed up in the odd box which is my mind.

This guy is one of my all time favorite comedians. This is Lewis Black.

I once had some students ask me if I was his sister; a high compliment, indeed. This guy makes me laugh so hard sometimes that I can't breath. Really. I thought I would pass out one night when something he said sent me into convulsions.

He's made a good living pointing out the never ending stupidity of the world around us. And, he plays the part of a man on the edge of committing an angry killing very, very well. But, I'm pretty sure it's a highly crafted personae played for his audience's mirth. I don't think any person who is as intelligent and spends so much time studying the Human condition can be an angry, mean person. Not that they're mutually exclusive states of being...I just don't 'feel' that about Mr. Black.

Sarcastic? Oh hell yeah...he's sarcastic. A great, great master of sarcasm. Perhaps that's why I find him so have to be a really intelligent person to be good at sarcasm. Why? Because you have to be able to see things as they should be at the same time you are shaking your head at the stupidity of how it is in the current moment. You have to be smart enough to see the irony in the disconnect.

But, as I've gotten older, I've noticed that my particular brand of humor and sarcasm has really been dialed back. Well, not the humor because I can generally find something funny in any given day, but the sarcasm? That one I'm not such a practitioner of any longer. Now I'm not so sure that sarcasm is all it's cracked up to be.

I have started to view sarcasm as a passive aggressive mechanism used by most people. And, we all know how much I detest that sort of behavior. For gawd's sake, be brave, stand up and say what you think and feel and own it!

For the average person, being sarcastic is simply being mean and using humor' as a deflection tool. "Oh, he/she's not really mean, just sarcastic." Uh.....I'm not sure about that anymore.

I do believe a lot of people who use sarcasm are hurt, wounded people who hope to be liked because they're funny or amusing. That's not a new concept. Many would tell you the same. But as it relates to the people around me, I've been considering how we use our particular styles of humor in order to make the world around us better because we've shared a belly laugh, or use it as a weapon.

Michael's dad tells the best stories. Often they're about him and the craziness of raising eight children or something he experienced during his long career at Hanover Shoe or as a traveling sales man. Absolutely hilarious! My dad was the same way; he was a superb story teller and he would bring the entire room to hysterics over the Dietor Kids' antics.

My Lion can make me laugh so hard, I snort. I love that about him! He often catches me off-guard with a sarcastic comment that makes my sides hurt! The things he says are so incredibly spot-on and such a fantastic observation, that I have to admire that mind of his. Because I know him to be a kind man, I very rarely ever have that split second of thinking, "That was funny but mean!" It's just not in him to be mean.

However, I have a young friend who is very, very sarcastic. And, her sarcasm makes me cringe more than it makes me giggle. I don't have the courage to say, "You know, you might think you're being funny, but actually that's pretty snide what you just said." So I just remain silent. I l like this person very much and know she's having a hard time in life, and I suppose I just don't want to be one more ripple in her pond of crap. And yet...

I wish this person could begin to understand that just because you are smart doesn't mean you have to be a smart mouth. Just because you're very intelligent doesn't give you the right to point out all of those around you who are not as bright. Being smart doesn't give you the right to to categorize and advertise that someone is stupid. Being quick witted doesn't give you a free pass at being snarky. Being smart gives you the opportunity to be grateful for your gifts and abilities, not a verbal bully!

Being gifted doesn't mean you have the right to point out the foilbles of those less gifted. It doesn't give you free reign to tattle the short-comings and failings of those you must deal with and live with each day.

It's a huge mistake to think those individuals you think of as 'stupid' don't know they're not very bright. Many times they do. And, just because they're not very bright, cultured, worldly, erudite, doesn't give you permission to make them feel 'less-than' by how you react to them or respond to them or treat them. You do not have that right to use public forms of communication to post their latest example of dumb.

And, you do not have the right to use those individuals and your experiences with them as fodder for your sarcasm and your 'humor'! That's not funny....that's just mean. And, while you might think your friends find you funny when you do this- trust me, while they might laugh, they simultaneously experience a slight pull-back. At least, if they're nice people they will; nice people don't appreciate 'humor' at another's expense.

I wonder, if every time we thought we were being funny when we were actually being hurtful, if we had a slight heart attack, how often do you think we'd be so free with our 'jokes'? You know, nothing serious, just one of those quick squeezing pains in the chest...just enough to let us know we're not playing fair.

Well, I'm starting to think we do have the heart attacks. But, they're emotional and spiritual and take a bit longer to feel and recognize them. When you're going for the punch line and you feel a little uncomfortable because you did it...most likely that's your moral compass giving you the sign that it's not funny. You just have to start listening instead of shooting off at the mouth.

Why do we have those signs? Because we've all lived through being the butt of someone's 'joke' or sarcasm. We've been wounded by the flip back-hand of someone using our life as the stuff of their stand-up routine. And, knowing what it feels like to be the ass-end of an off-hand comment feels really, truly crappy.

You know what it feels like and you hate it! So why would you ever do it to another Human Being?! Do you do it to feel powerful and vindicated? Do you do it to get back some of your own? If so, I promise you that it doesn't last. And those around you who've listened to you cry because you've been hurt begin to wonder about you when they hear you being so snide and sarcastic. They begin to think, "Wow, if they'll do that to someone else, sure as hell, they'll do it to me, too!" You find out you're the King or Queen of Sarcasm without an audience as more and more people begin to steer clear.

If it truly was a perfect world...the world that I, The Queen of The Universe ran, I'd make sarcastic people wear anti-bark dog training collars. Yeah. That's what I'd do. And, every time they shot off their mouths at some one's expense... JOLLLLLTTTTT!

Now, THAT would be hilarious!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Still Has A Funny In Her

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Ask You...

...when was the last time you saw something this adorable? I love this new picture. What? You want to see more? Okay, but just a wee bit...

...because as you can see, Ava is extending her beauty sleep.

Hope you find some adorability, (I don't know if it's a word, but if it isn't it should be,) in your day today!

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly

Monday, August 15, 2011

To Love This Date

Michael and I were in Hanover with his father this past weekend. Dad turned 82 years old. He agrees that's no small feat considering that we were deathly afraid we were going to lose him to cancer two years ago.

The cancer and the subsequent treatments took a toll on him, but he still enjoys his life. Michael's brother, Tony, was there from Hong Kong and his brother John came in for a visit from Virginia. Phone calls from the rest of the kids scattered around the country were received and news shared. We took Dad to dinner and really enjoyed a swell night of laughter and sharing stories.

Today, is a bitter sweet day for me. Today would be The King's birthday. Some years the day comes around and I am really melancholy about not being able to share it with Daddy. Some years, I simply smile and wish him Happy, happy day to you! This year the day started a wee bit sad for me.

But, how fast the world can change in a few short hours. Because, no matter how many years I now have when August 15th reminds me of a significant lose in my life, it will now fill me with joy as I celebrate another lion in my life.

For, just a short time ago, at 2:47 in the afternoon,

we welcomed Ava Gabreille Gonzalez into our family. Mom and Dad and Livy are fine and little Ava? Well, she's not so little arriving safely weighing in at 9 lb., 8 oz. and 21 1/4 inches long!

My father would be so thrilled! He'd love that Ava shares his special day with him.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Great Aunt Holly x 2!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

On days when life is hard, I stop and recall the days
when love was so easy to feel.
And, that makes all things possible once again.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Aunt Hol, Great Aunt Holly

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Silent Sermon Sunday

"Rest; be still, I am with you, and you are never alone."

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Photo of Rory in our Garden taken by My Lion

Monday, July 11, 2011

A Life Well Loved

Katherine V. Marks
We will miss you.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Kat's Niece

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Saying Goodbye

Goodbye...the word is a contraction of the phrase, "God be with ye." We say it all the time. Except, I don't. Not ever with people when they are going or I am leaving, do I use that word. Generally, I say, "Love you! Talk with you soon! See you later!" Anything but goodbye.

In other languages, there are more subtle but specific delineation between, goodbye and farewell. We aren't that lucky with English; those two words are so tightly intertwined as to be one in the same.

Adios...the Spanish goodbye, literally translated is, 'of God/with God'. Via con dios.... farewell, as we think of it, really means, Go with God. When you consider the literal translation, suddenly these casual words take on a deep and solemn meaning. The Japanese only say, 'Sionaro,' when one will not see the other person for a very long time or ever again. Some words are meant to be uttered only when the finality of a relationship's passing is recognized. For me, Goodbye, is one of those.

This has been an emotionally difficult week for me. Exhausting.

I met up with my cousin, Val from Florida to help her empty out my Aunt Katherine's apartment. You might have read about Kat in "Life Is What You Make It"; she is a remarkable woman.

Never having children, it falls to my cousin, who is her power of attorney, and me to dismantle her apartment. This ain't our first rodeo; Val and I have had this sad task before. She helped me dig through my father's things and when her mom who lived with Dad had to go to a nursing facility, we dismantled their home yet again. It was Val who dismantled Kat's home 12 years in order to move her and her husband into the continuing care community.

Doing this for Kat was a daunting task that had to be completed in three days. During the frenzy of activity, I stopped and looked at something in my hand and couldn't help but think, "How effin' sad; a lifetime of collecting treasures and making a home comes down to people cramming things into boxes and wondering how we will ever get rid of it all. How incredibly sad." Turns out all of us had the same thoughts when we sat down exhausted that first night and talked it out.

Had Michael not decided to rearrange his schedule and come with me, I don't know how Val and I could have done it. I'm fairly certain we wouldn't have and all I can do is thank him over and over for all he did. An advantage he had over Valerie and me is not being bound to the emotional charge of seeing a beloved item that held memories for us. He was able to keep emotional distance. Val and I are very pragmatic as well, but for us it was more difficult.

We divvied up furniture with Val's son, Clay, and I'm so happy some of her quality furniture will stay in the family. We shipped her nativity scene off to Val's daughter, Whitney. We shipped a few items to Val's home. Michael packed some artwork and small pieces to come home with us. I will admit that a few small items have come home with me, not because I necessarily like them, but because I recognized them over a lifetime of visiting her home and just couldn't let them go to a stranger. And yet, I know that's eventually what will happen to them when my time comes.

But, not today. Not today.

All the rest went as a donation to Goodwill Industries. All of it. And that was not the goodbye of which I speak.

Aunt Kat is in the care center now. We've called in Hospice because she is, 'actively dying' and needs the additional comfort and care as she eases out of this world. She is confused, while at other times she is surprisingly lucid. She whispered to Val, "I need some boxes, I am going on a trip." Val asked, "Who's going with you?" "No one; I'm going alone." We looked at each other...she said to Kat, "Okay, we'll make sure you have what you need."

Val has been a hospice volunteer coordinator as part of her professional life; I have been a social worker. We both know it's really very usual for the departing soul to talk of journeying. Kat's confirmed what we all know.

Later she said to me, when I bent to give her a kiss, "Your face looks like a Christmas tree!" I laughed, "Well, that can't be very good!" She whispered, "Oh no, it all lit up and very pretty!" I believe we begin to see the aura of the spirit when we are leaving this world...perhaps that's what she was seeing.

No, the Goodbye came when Val left to catch her flight home. The goodbye came when I had to travel back to Pittsburgh with Michael the next day. Goodbye was whispered as she slept and I know I was seeing her alive for the very last time. Goodbye was said with sadness when Val and I have to deal with the notion that we have to leave her in the hands of others who will watch over her and care for her in our absence. Goodbye comes when we have to stop the small twinges of guilt that are part of the process for us...

I Reiki'd Kat while we were visiting. This was the first time I have done energy work on a person who is leaving this world. It was a remarkable feeling. I struggle to put it into words.

When I was attempting to bring her energy down into her feet, it was like feeling a window shade suddenly rolling up. I got the image of wispy smoke quickly rising through a is the energy leaving her body and going up through her crown chakra. The only way I could describe it to Michael and Val who watched as Kat began to twitch and move her feet was, "Imagine standing at the edge of the ocean when the tide is going out. The wave washes in against you legs which feels usual, but the tug against your calves is much stronger and quicker as the wave goes out with the tide's turn."

They could understand that. It is a miracle to feel the spirit rushing homeward. I am blessed to have experienced it.

And, on Friday I said a hurtful Goodbye to Albie. We buried him and paid tribute to my beloved friend of 40+ years. It was a beautiful service as he would have wanted and been proud to have been a part. He loved productions and was the master of beautiful events.

I have had enough of Goodbyes for one week. So I think I will leave you with this helps me to remember Kat this way...not the way I saw her when I whispered "Goodbye, dear one, I honor you for all you gave taught me; I love you for all you have been to me."

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Katherine's niece & Al's friend

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Until We Meet Again

The man in this picture has been a key figure in my life since I was 14 years old. He means as much to me as my father. After Dad was gone, he moved without my even being aware of it, to the position of fatherly love and guidance.

He left this world last night. Quietly. Peacefully. The way a good man deserves to leave this world. Leave, with those of us who adored him left to remember him and grieve his loss.

But mostly, he is a man who we will remember every day with a smile. We will remember his gifts of sharing, caring, generosity, stern love, deep friendship, support, nurturing, and laughter. We will never have another teacher like him, but we will live our lives to make him proud of all he taught us and shared.

Albert C. Fields, I will see you again and when we meet I can't wait to feel your kiss and hug once more. I love you, Albie.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Is Grateful
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