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Invictus

 

My grandmother who is pictured above, Jean Castrovinci, asked me to memorize this poem by William Ernest Henley. It was one of her favorites, and she said to me. “You will need these words, one day.”  Oh, how right she was. This poem has served me well in many instances.

The photo of my grandmother was taken in the 1920s.

INVICTUS

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole.
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced, nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody but unbowed. 

In this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me unafraid. 

It matters not how strait the gait
How charged with punishment the scroll.
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul. 

Gilding the Silver Lining

Dad and Greg July 2017

When you look at this photo, you see two men dressed to hop on a surfboard and ride a wave. My father-in-law is on the right, and my husband is on the left.

I just want to say, being a caregiver to my husband’s parents is an honor and a privilege. It’s also hard, frustrating, and exhausting.

To all caregivers — I salute you. You may ultimately find me asleep in the laundry room. There’s a little bit of room if you need to join me… just no cell phones allowed. You know why.

One Step Forward…

 

Last Thanksgiving Day, I was putting several heavy dishes up onto a high shelf with my right hand. All of a sudden, it felt like a small explosion took place in my elbow.  I had a houseful of guests, and I thought I just “tweaked” a muscle, and it would calm down, so I plowed through the day. And the days after that.

December came and went, and then January, February, and then, in March I finally couldn’t stand it anymore and saw my doctor, and she referred me to a specialist. As it turns out, I hadn’t strained a muscle, I had torn a tendon in my forearm, (which explains why I had to have a friend and colleague carry my computer bag on and off several planes because I couldn’t lift it). The specialist gave me a cortisone shot and said come back in a month for the second shot.

Fellow procrastinators, you know what happened after that… my elbow felt better and I figured I was good.

Nope. Not by a long shot. I’ll be making that appointment for the follow-up shot tomorrow.

I took the photo above from my hotel window in Boston a few days ago. I could actually lift my arm high enough to (just barely) make the shot.

Almost the Spring I Feared the Most

Almost the Spring I Feared the Most

It was really balmy here in Southeast Virginia a few weeks ago, and it made me a little bit nervous. Where I grew up, March was the trickiest month of the year. It really could “come in like a lion and go out like a lamb.” In other words, March could be damn cold–cold to the bone. And God help you if you didn’t have shoes that could keep your feet warm or a coat that couldn’t keep the wind from blowing right through! The ice settled in your back, arms, and shins, and made a left turn into your consciousness.   

As a kid in Northern New Jersey, when we had the one-off day in late winter that felt like spring, I worried about the forsythia that bloomed popcorn yellow on Route 287 on my way to and from Rutgers-Newark and the crocuses that poked up through the snow. What would happen if all the plants and trees thought it was spring and bloomed unwittingly, only to have the frozen Alberta Clipper descend upon the land once again? Yes, I worried about that. Because back then, the seasons were much longer than they are now. Back then, a month was a very long time, a season: Forever. 

That spring of falsehoods never occurred in my younger years, but this year came close. It began to warm up in February. It got warmer and warmer. Soon, none of us at work were wearing our coats. We had sweaters, and what I now know to be a Southern phenomenon, the men in the office began to wear shorts and “tennis shoes.” In New Jersey, we called them “sneakers,” but I’ve gradually come around to the Southern way. (Although I will never say “buggy” when I mean “shopping cart.”)

The trees began to swell with buds, and my now beloved tulips, yes, all 20 of them, began to make a showing. 

April Fools have come and gone, and I will make these observations: Last year, I had variegated tulips–red, white, bright yellow. This year, they are all white, with the exception of one yellow tulip. Also, the trees that are usually the palest of greens and reds, are all a dull brown. 

I felt somewhat somber until this week: The cherry blossoms and the redbud trees are in bloom, peonies abound in their vivid multi-colored splendor, and yellow pollen coats the cars and the lining of my lungs. Fellow allergy sufferers, I feel your pain. Fellow optimists, Oh, God, what glorious days lay ahead! 

An Early Southern Spring

An Early Southern Spring

It’s barely March, and already the daffodils are blooming, the Bradford pear trees are ablaze with white blossoms, my tulips are pushing green leaves up through the ground, the redbud trees are buzzing, and periwinkle carpets the hill with their tiny blue blossoms. 

I can’t remember spring ever being so early. In the Northeast, where I lived until I was beating down the door of middle age, March still held one or two gut-punches of snow, wind, and rising damp. I was always cold. Until I moved to South Florida, and there, I was always hot–I’m entirely unsure which was worse. 

So, here, in Southeastern Virginia, the moderate climate never ceases to amaze me. If it snows, the scenery outside my window is magical…and then the snow is gone a few days later. The languid summer days drift by, and the fall is gentle. I will say, we do have our stretches of gray skies and drizzly days, but I don’t mind. 

Like Goldilocks, I’ve finally found my “just right.” 

The Time to Take A Stand is NOW! – Re-post

I’ve never been very good at publicizing my blog, but in looking back at this post, I realize I have to do better. I stand for democracy. I also stand for kindness, compassion, and living by the Golden Rule. This was first published on Jan. 28, 2017. I’m reposting it because I believe in its truth. If you also agree, please share with your network. 

 

To say I’m disappointed in this past election cycle would be an understatement, but I am choosing to live my life, as I always have, based on kindness. Many of my friends and neighbors supported as J.K. Rowling would call him, “You-know-who,” and I don’t fault them. That is how a democracy operates. You get to vote for the candidate you choose.

That said, I will remind you that the United States is a nation of immigrants. Our greatest successes have come from the hands and minds of people from other shores. Immigrants are welcome in my America.

Refugees are welcome, too. Many countries, including the United States, refused to take in refugees from the Nazi regime, and 6 million Jews died, and hundreds of thousands of other not-particularly-lily-white-looking people were likewise murdered. It wasn’t that long ago.

In my America, healthcare is available to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

We are all entitled to protect our earth, and especially our water supply from those who would destroy it to line their already cash-bloated pockets. So, yes, join me and #StandWithStandRock and oppose the North Dakota Pipeline which will eventually leak oil into the water supply. And insist on the end of the violence being perpetrated upon our First Nation Water Protectors who are being shot with rubber bullets (which cut through cloth and skin), hit with water cannons, and tear-gassed on a regular basis. BTW, You-know-who has a financial stake in this project. 

In my America, education is a right, not a privilege. And it’s not okay to be a racist, woman-hating, violence-advocating asshole. Nope. Not okay.

For our veterans, WE MUST TAKE CARE OF THEIR MEDICAL, EMOTIONAL, AND SOCIAL needs. We owe them more than that. Step up, America.

So what are your plans for the next four years? I suggest you join me and #RESIST. If you’re an ordinary person like me, this is not a comfortable position to be in. I made my first phone call to the US Senators who represent my district this past week to tell them the North Dakota pipeline must not continue. That was a big deal for me because all the people in my real-time life know how I hate using the phone. Just a quirk, but still, I did what I believed was necessary. So, ordinary folks, get brave. Stand up for what is right, but more than anything, practice being kind. To the cashier at Wal-Mart, to the co-worker who irks you, to the asshole who just cut you off in traffic. Now more than ever, kindness will save the day, because at the end of this and every day, this is what democracy looks like.