My father grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts, although he lived the last sixty years of his life in Atlanta, Georgia. He often talked about the Berkshires of western Massachusetts and the Adirondacks in eastern New York. I must have inherited his love of mountains, because even the glimpse of mountains from campus makes me smile. I have assiduously visited all the places he mentioned having seen or wanting to see in this area, and delighted in describing the trips to him.
Want to join, or see the entries, in the First Friday Photo Blog Hop, which is the brainchild of Eden Mabee? Click here!
This post for First Friday Photo is quite late, but I wanted to post even so. Eden Mabee’s brainchild blog hop of photographs is here, so please feel free to join in, or at least visit everyone’s link to see their photograph.
I had a rough week, so I don’t have an outside photo to share, but I am very proud of my entry this week. Jan Dobbs, a dear friend of mine who lives in Bristol, UK, painted this gorgeous Rananculus, as my mother would have named it. I went back and forth about having it sent across the pond, but well, it was so nice and in my favorite colors, and . . .
Finally, I decided that I deserved to have a real painting, having left graduate school and its shabby chic behind. It is displayed in a corner of the dining room where I see it often. Now you can enjoy it as well. Her website is here, so you can enjoy more of her work.
After a far, far too long hiatus, I’m coming back to this blog. My offering today is part of Eden Mabee’s brain child, the First Friday Photo. I was returning from New York City on the train on a winter evening. The tracks run along the Hudson River for the majority of the trip, offering stunning views of the Catskills and rolling countryside. We were in lower altitude environs when the sun set.
Many websites are blacked out today to protest proposed U.S. legislation that threatens internet freedom: the Stop Internet Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). From personal blogs to giants like WordPress and Wikipedia, sites all over the web — including this one — are asking you to help stop this dangerous legislation from being passed.
Finally, I would like to finish thanking the people who follow my blog. This post will catch me up, so I can copy L. S. Engler from now on, thanking followers as they add themselves to my blog. I’ve included some information about their blogs, if they have one.
My mother’s sister was nine years older than my mother, with no intervening children; my mother always looked upon her as a mother, and I saw her more as a grandmother. A big believer in idle hands leading to devil’s work, my aunt taught me how to knit, crochet, embroider, and tat when I was very young. She was teaching my oldest sister, and I hung around like a pest and learned as well. She came to see us every month or so; we were always glad to see her, because she knew all sorts of stories and could bake the best pies and cookies I’d ever had.
Even though she always made me keep my hands busy with knitting or tatting while we talked, I looked forward to her visits. I felt as though she could see me, when very few other grownups could. She despaired when I became a perpetual student, often shaking her head at my explanations of why I studied all these things. When I finally got married and settled down with my instant family, you would have thought she had been the matchmaker, she was so proud. And when we added more children, she was ecstatic that I had given her more children to love.
Two days before my youngest son was born, Aunt Ellene felt ill, somewhat like indigestion, but worse. The hospital gave her heartburn medication and sent her home. Three hours later, she passed away from a massive heart attack. My mother debated delaying her planned trip to help me with the baby, but she came the day he came home from the hospital, missing her sister’s funeral, because that was what my aunt would have wanted. My son is eighteen now, and I still miss talking with Aunt Ellene over our knitting or embroidery.
My brother didn’t become a human being until I was 11 and he went to college. He actually corresponded with me; when he was home on vacation, he still acted like a jerk sometimes, but that behavior diminished through the years. He married into one of those huge families that gets together for birthdays and holidays and weddings; I have never asked him directly, but I suspect he felt the same kind of attraction/curiosity at the concept that I did when I first saw this unaccustomed behavior. No matter, he threw himself into it wholeheartedly, leaving my father to shake his head in consternation at how he and his wife travel cross country to see their kids and grandkids. I stand back in admiration.
Last year, my brother was diagnosed with lung cancer, and had one lung removed. I had not realized until that point how much I thought my siblings were immortal, nor how hard it would hit me. He is still fighting, but it is a long path through the woods. He cannot fly anymore, but he and his wife pack up the car and still travel hundreds of miles to see their families. I am so grateful that he has tried valiantly to establish the sort of relationship with me that his wife has with her siblings. I am thankful to them both for showing me that it could work when I was still young enough to do for my own family.
One of my sisters is four years older than I am; reportedly she told my father that I was not the fun kind of baby doll, and would he please take me back. No luck, sorry! After this bumpy start, my sister and I started to bond her senior year in high school. I stopped being the “fairy child” who did not seem connected to the world, and started being able to see her. During her college years, we shared hopes and dreams, despite long periods where one or the other of us would pull away to nurse our wounds in private–she, an abusive marriage; me, an early failed marriage, the abyss of graduate school. Even now, she calls me regularly; I promise to call her, and forget (I am a very bad sister). She and I are so different in so many of our world views, but we get each other, especially given the history of our family. I am grateful that she continues to knock on my door and pull me out of my little world now and again.
In my last Gratitude post I included a partial list of the people who follow my blog, as some small measure of thanks. I’m continuing that list with this post; I’ve included some information about their blogs, if they have one.
http://thewriteproject.wordpress.com/ blogs about getting back into the practice of writing
http://studyingparent.wordpress.com/ chronicles the “learning journey” of a midwife who has gone to graduate school to study literature
C. M. Cipriani is an author who blogs about several topics:
http://onesmallpiece.wordpress.com/ is her blog about raising her autistic son
http://theoutlandishavocado.wordpress.com/ is her writing blog
http://theprimaltribe.wordpress.com is her blog about moving her family onto a paleo diet
My mother and father met on a blind date and married within a year. Because my father was an Irish Catholic from Massachusetts and my mother a Southern Baptist from Georgia, both of their families summarily disowned them. My mother’s family went so far as to obliterate her name from the family Bible, because she had abandoned her mission to stay with her parents and not marry until after their demise. Eventually, some members of both families had some contact with our family, but for most of them, it was limited in both time and warmth. It left a legacy of a real lack of warmth among my own siblings, which is something I realized only in contrast with other families.
Also, my parents seem to have very little tradition to call upon. My father has resisted all my questions about holiday family traditions; my mother has been only slightly more informative, saying that she often got nothing but an orange for Christmas. Because my mother then spun into her “you ungrateful children” speech at that point, I never asked for more details. Given these deficits, my parents tried to give us children the American dream holidays. We rarely had a turkey for Thanksgiving, due to the cost, but my father did relax that day. Christmas Day was a bigger deal, with presents under the tree for the four children. I did notice we never had any other family around, like all my schoolmates did.
Due to this upbringing, I really didn’t bring any holiday traditions to my married life; in my first marriage, I played along with traditions I didn’t feel inside. When I married my second husband, we worked to create traditions together, melding his traditions with my dream holidays. We went through the common tug-of-war between the families, whom to visit when, whom to eat with, whom to stay with if we had travelled. The situation was complicated by my daughters having their own traditions, as well as another set of grandparents, aunts, and uncles to visit. Thankfully, it got much easier as the girls became older and made their own decisions about the scheduling, rather than being pulled so many different directions. Even when they spent less time with us, I felt better knowing they were making the decisions.
Perhaps because of my background, family is very important to me. I don’t tell them often enough how important they are to me. Some of that reticence is due to my teenage sons, who flee emotion as if it were hydrofluoric acid, but sometimes I take all of them for granted.
I am grateful for my sons, who defied all medical opinion to exist, appearing after three doctors had told me I could not have children. They helped me learn how to be a mother to alien creatures, who didn’t act at all like their sisters. Furthermore, I had met my daughters when they were 5 and 3, so 0-3 was uncharted territory. My sons laid to rest any nature versus nurture discussions I had in my mind; their drive and fearlessness taught me how to take risks, while making my face pale with fear. They put up with my inability to help them with math and physics homework, as well as my crying through nearly every movie I took them to see. Well, not Pokemon 2000.
I am grateful for my daughters, who accepted me as a second mom, and weathered my learning to walk the tightrope, and how to be that second mom. Recently, one of my sons-in-law paid me one of the best compliments I’ve gotten. He told me that the way I accepted and loved my youngest daughter showed her how to love and accept his two children. He said she might not have married him had she not grown up with me. It brought me to tears when he told me, and it does so now while writing it.
And I am grateful for my husband, who puts up with my weird mental glitch, where I point right and say left, especially annoying when giving directions in the car; follow the hand, not the voice, is the trick. He accepts my ADD as well as my Irish temper; he glories in my nerdiness, and thinks I’m still as interesting as I was when he met me so very long ago.
To all of you, thank you for keeping me sane, human, and giving me the time and the material to write.
And now for the envelope. . .
Lena Corazon honored me several weeks ago with the Versatile Blogger award. I also received this award from L.S. Engler several months ago *blush*, and I am finally thanking them both publicly for the honor. I am supposed to divulge seven random facts about myself, as well as pass the award on to fifteen more bloggers. I have been waiting for inspiration on the 15 bloggers, and it is not forthcoming, As this is the season for gratitude, I am going to tweak that last part a bit.
First, thank you so very much for the award, Lena and L.S. I am honored that you think that I am a versatile blogger. My Shakespeare professor in college called me “scattershot”; I do prefer “versatile.”
The seven random facts about me, in no discernable order, except that the sixth leads to the seventh:
1. I have always wanted to learn piano.
2. I always wanted blue eyes, like my father, so that I would look Black Irish.
3. I sing tenor, but only when I’m alone. During the holidays, I listen to Handel’s Messiah, and sing all the parts, even the basso. Actually, I can handle the basso better than the soprano.
4. I can remember numbers far better than names.
5. I used to knit during classes in college, until one professor told me to stop; now I knit at work meetings and conferences.
6. I grew 10 inches taller in eight weeks the summer between fourth and fifth grade.
7. Because of the above, I still think of myself as tall, although I’m 5’3”. I often catch a glimpse of myself in windows while walking down the street and wonder who that short chick is.
Next, I would like to thank the people who follow my blog. I noticed L. S. Engler doing this, and thought it was a nice way to thank my followers. Since I am starting several months after beginning a blog, I won’t do an entire list in this post, but I will mention everyone during the month of December. I’ve included some information about their blogs, if they have one.
Thanks to all of you for your interest in my blogs!
P. A. Woodburn is concentrating on writing her novel, not blogging, at the moment.
I know it’s not Sunday, but I posted non-fiction yesterday, so I’m plunging into the deep end with some fiction today.