a note of thanks

I am somewhat shocked to discover that I have reached 750 followers, including just over 600 from WordPress alone.

I am immensely grateful to all followers, readers, and commenters who are visiting Top of JC’s Mind these days as I continue my less-than-ideal blogging practice.

When Grandma died unexpectedly in March, I knew there would be some disruption in my usual routine of posting and visiting/commenting on other blogs, but I couldn’t know at the time how draining the aftermath of that loss would be or how many other losses, changes, and complications would ensue.

The current state of affairs in the world hasn’t helped.

I have struggled to get back to posting on a somewhat regular basis. I am doing almost no reading and commenting still, which feels odd. It isn’t that I can’t come up with the time; it’s more that I can’t muster the brainpower and concentration.

I thank you for your patience and understanding. I have given up projecting when I may be back to visiting you all and re-engaging.

Some of you have assured me that it is okay to take my time, to do what I need to do, that everything will work out eventually.

Please continue to save a little room for me in a corner of WordPress.

Someday, I’ll be dropping back in.

 

Revenge of the Fitbit

For months, I have been wearing a Fitbit Flex fitness tracker.

I am not obsessed with it.

I do keep track of my step goal, which is modest so as not to be too daunting.

It does point out that my sleep really is a pathetic as it seems.

A few days ago, though, I had to take a break from wearing it. My wrist broke out in a rash from the band and I needed to let it heal.

Fortunately, I was able to find a stretchy cloth bracelet to put my tracker in, which is much more comfortable to wear.

Unfortunately, it is hot pink, which is not a favorite color of mine.

At least, people will be able to see me coming…

Independence and the art of compromise

Today is celebrated as Independence Day in the United States. July 4, 1776 is the date on our founding document, the Declaration of Independence, written by future president Thomas Jefferson and edited by committee and by Congress.

It contains many stirring passages such as this:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

Then, you realize that “men” meant adult males, excluding women, and, furthermore, that ownership of people through slavery and indentured servitude was still permitted.

Two hundred forty years later, our country still grapples with the legacy of those exclusions.

Why were they made? Despite Abigail Adams’s admonition to her husband John to “remember the ladies,” the declaration was totally silent on the matter. Jefferson’s original text would have abolished slavery, but the slave-holding colonies refused to vote for the declaration until that statement was removed.

The final document was a compromise, giving up freedom from slavery to create a new nation of all thirteen of the British colonies. I leave it to historians and social scientists to argue if the compromise was appropriate.

What I do know is that the art of compromise has been severely hobbled in the present day and the consequences have been disastrous, leaving the United States with a Congress that has not been able to pass a budget and all the requisite appropriations bills in years; a judicial branch struggling with too few judges, including being down a Supreme Court justice, due to refusal of the Republican majority in the Senate to hold timely hearings and votes on nominees; a similar problem in the State Department with ambassadors waiting months or years for Senate approval; and a general refusal by the Republican majorities in both houses to bring up a vote unless nearly their entire delegation supports it, giving enormous power to their most conservative members and precluding bipartisan consensus bills. The amount of gridlock has caused damage to both the public and private spheres and has made recent Congresses the most unproductive in history, undermining the purpose of government for the common good that Jefferson outlined.

This inability to seek consensus and compromise has infected large segments of the population as well. Some people will not support a candidate unless s/he agrees with their views 100% of the time, which is an unrealistic standard. Worse, some people can no longer even engage in a reasoned debate, preferring to follow the example of those in public life who dismiss all other viewpoints than their own and resort to name-calling, character assassination, bullying, and threats.

Enough.

It is time for the governed to withhold their consent/vote from any officeseeker who is not committed to governing for the common good. This entails educating ourselves about all sides of the issues and engaging in respectful inquiry and debate. It also entails compromise so that we can move forward together.

It is our duty and honor as citizens to do so.

There is no better day than July fourth to renew our commitment to our country and its highest ideals.

Wounded

Sharing this thought-provoking, heart-breaking post from Nancy of Marginalia.

It is hard not to lead with our wounds. We all have them. Some are personal. Some are from childhood. Many are cultural. Every day we step out into the world

Source: Wounded

Let’s cook up a party – Party Live Link. ๐Ÿ’ƒ๐ŸŽถ๐ŸŽน๐Ÿฐ๐Ÿก๐Ÿ—๐ŸŽ๐Ÿบ๐Ÿธ

Jacqueline is having a blog party this weekend! Scoot over and introduce yourself!

a cooking pot and twisted tales

Come on in, letโ€™s get this party started.

You are most welcome. Do make yourself comfortable and join the fun.

Some of you are used to the party mode, but just a quick run through on a few party etiquetteโ€™s for the new oneโ€™s in our midst; nothing tedious.

Refreshments are nicely arranged down the page: Drinks, Chocolates, Cakes, Donuts, freshly squeezed juice, Coffee, Tea and so much more. :-)

We have our ownย Intercontinental Chef in the house, just place your orders๐Ÿ˜‰The little rules of play:

  1. You must mix and mingle with others. Donโ€™t be a wallflower. Go say hello to someone and you can participate in the Tag a poem/story below, riddle and do tell us where you are partying from:-)
  2. ย Please leave your blog link or post link in the comment box below along with an introduction.
  3. Itโ€™s one link per comment, but come back asโ€ฆ

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SoCS: what I long for

Things I long for – or long for more abundantly:

peace
sleep
more hours to write
more hours when my brain is operating clearly enough to write
love
good health for my family, friends, and everyone else, too
co-operation for the common good
caring about important things
for public sanity and good will in the face of so many challenges
unity
an end to hunger, oppression, and deprivation

*****
This short and impossible list is ย brought to be Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday. This week’s prompt is “long.” Come join us! Find out how here: ย https://lindaghill.com/2016/07/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-july-216/

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SoCS: drinking problem

I have a drinking problem.

But probably not the kind you are thinking of…

Because I have a condition called interstitial cystitis, also known as painful bladder syndrome, I can’t drink a lot of things that most people do.

Some, like coffee, are not a hardship for me to not drink because I don’t really like them. Same with black tea.

I do wish I could drink green tea, though. I can drink some herbal teas.

Soda and other carbonated things are no-nos!

Fruit juices are problematic as they are too acidic. I need to dilute them or take pills to counteract the acidity.

I do drink milk sometimes, but have had to give up one of my favorite drinks, hot cocoa, as chocolate is another irritant.

What I drink most of the time is water.

Which is safe, but a bit boring.

Oh, well.

Wells do bring us water…

(And, for the record, I don’t drink alcohol.)
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “drink.” Come join us! Find out how here: ย https://lindaghill.com/2016/06/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-2516/

 

SoCS badge 2015

 

Strawberries!

The Algonquins who were native to my region named the full moon this time of year the strawberry moon.

Usually at this time of year, we are enjoying plentiful local strawberries. For many years, I would go to a local farm to pick quarts and quarts of berries. We would share some with family and then I would put the kitchen in full-blown strawberry mode. Strawberries on cereal or with yogurt for breakfast. Strawberries on fresh leaf lettuce or baby spinach with pecans and goat cheese. Strawberry shortcake. Fresh strawberry pie. Strawberry rhubarb soup. Strawberries on ice cream. Strawberry-rhubarb pie, crisp, or cobbler. Just eating them and enjoying their sweet fragrance.

The last few years, I haven’t been picking myself, but buying them from the local farmstands. We don’t often buy strawberries other than when they are local. Supermarket strawberries from hundreds or thousands of miles away just don’t compare to what our local berries taste like.

I know that the farms will have berries when the wild strawberries that grow in our yard ripen.

This year, the berries are late.

After a mild winter, the spring was chilly. While we had some wet weather in the earlier part of the spring, we are now in a dry spell. It’s all combined to make the local berries late to ripen.

Last week, I was able to find some berries from a farm about sixty miles from here and, yesterday, I finally found some from Broome-Tioga.

There is a fresh strawberry pie setting in the refrigerator. After supper, we will bring it up to Nana and Paco’s to share with them.

It’s best to eat it the day it is made.

It won’t be a hardship for the five of us to finish it.

 

the demise of More

I was perturbed a couple of months ago to receive a copy of Everyday with Rachel Ray when I had been expecting More magazine. There was a letter enclosed, saying that More had ceased publishing and that my subscription had been transferred.

I was not amused.

I didn’t feel that Rachel Ray was a a good substitute, so I contacted the publisher to cancel it, but the larger upset was the loss of More.

Moreย was designed for middle-aged women, featuring articles and interviews on more serious topics than most similar magazines. While there were also pieces on fashion, they acknowledged that women in their forties, fifties, and sixties should be themselves, and not try to emulate the look of someone in their twenties or thirties.

It was refreshing.

Maybe I cursed it, though.

I had submitted a personal essay to them which I had submitted to several other magazines over the course of years. I think Moreย makes the fourth magazine to which I submitted it that stopped publishing, three of them before they officially rejected my manuscript.

Perhaps, someday, I’ll give up and post my essay here, instead.

At least, I have control over the content – and possible demise – of Top of JC’s Mind.

adding up

This has been a spring of losses and endings and changes.

It’s getting to be a lot to handle at once.

The most difficult was Grandma’s death on March 22nd, just as spring began. We have been grateful for the support of family and friends and are especially grateful for the committal service that we were able to celebrate last week. There will continue to be a lot of work in the coming months – emotional work, certainly, but also physical work as we deal with the rest of the things she left behind and with decisions and paperwork that come with settling her financial affairs.

The week before Grandma’s committal, T and I were singing at the funeral of Father James, ย a loss that brings echoes of the loss of our parish years ago.

And just after we returned from the committal, we received news of the death of Paco’s only remaining sibling after years of decline with Alzheimer’s disease. He was the third of Paco’s siblings to die from Alzheimer’s as their father had; three other siblings died too young to have developed it. At 91, with no symptoms, Paco is well beyond the age when any of his affected family members developed them. Still, it is bittersweet to have lost all of his brothers and sisters.

There are other changes happening, too, with T moving home to job search after finishing her master’s degree and with continuing family medical issues.

Although it is difficult and stressful, I am okay.

Most of the time.

I do rely on family and friends for support. Recently, when I was feeling overwhelmed, I called my college roommate, just to talk things through. It helps so much. Another thing for which to be grateful.

Eleven years ago, I experienced another spring of loss – the death of my friend Angie, the loss of our long-time parish, and the final months of my father-in-law’s battle with cancer. The aftermath of these losses has continued through the following years and this spring’s losses echo and intensify them in complex ways.

I know that, despite the pain and difficulties, there is the opportunity to grow in wisdom, compassion, and strength in response.

I hope to do that.

Meanwhile, I am trying to be supportive of others and gentle with myself. I am trying not to feel guilty about all the things I am not doing as I would like, including blogging and poetry.

Personal growth can only help my poetry.

It’s possible that my blogging practice may evolve, too. I am spending nearly all my blogging time for now on writing. It feels strange not to be spending hours reading and commenting, but limits of time and brainpower make that the way things have to be. I had thought this would be a short-term mode of operation, but am discovering that this constellation of losses and new responsibilities is likely to cause some lasting re-organization of time, effort, and priorities.

I don’t know where the path will lead or how many other detours or derailments are in store. I remain profoundly grateful to all who are accompanying me along the way, whether personally or digitally.

I would be adrift without you.

 

 

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