Faceversary

Facebook helpfully told me today that I joined ten years ago.

I initially joined because the Smith College Alumnae Chorus was planning to use it as a primary means of communication among our far-flung membership. It didn’t work out that way, but it did get me to join.

I admit that some things about it really annoy me, especially that my newsfeed leaves out so many posts that I would like to see from my friends. I also, of course, am appalled that Facebook was co-opted in the misinformation attack by Russians and others in the lead-up to the 2016 US presidential election.

Still, I am sticking with it to stay connected to in-person friends and relatives and a handful of friends that I made through Facebook and feel close to, even though we have never met in person.

I also appreciate the chance to have a Facebook page for Top of JC’s Mind. I recently (finally) got to 100 likes. Okay, I only have 101 now, but I would appreciate some more if anyone wants to pop over there using the link. 😉

Will Facebook be around in another ten years? Will I still be a part of it if it is? No one knows…
*****
Join us for Just Jot It January! Today’s pingback link is here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/22/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-22nd/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

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SoCS: art from friends

SoCS: Words with Friends?

I’ve run into a bit of a hairy situation with Words with Friends.

I’ve been playing for years with both in-person and longtime Facebook friends. Occasionally, I also play with some friends of friends who challenge me. WWF lets me know in those cases with whom these new challengers are friends.

Lately, I’ve been getting challenges from people I don’t know.

They are all men.

Some of them have a much lower word strength than mine. My average word is 21. Some have no average word strength listed.

I start to send moves and then these guys start to chat. It tends to start with “Hi.” Then they may ask where I am from or start calling me “dear”.

I don’t answer. I don’t talk to strangers online. I’m perfectly willing to play a game but I don’t want to divulge any personal information to somerandomdude27 or whomever.

After a few moves back and forth without my answering the chat, these guys stop sending moves.

And then I win!

This has all happened since I changed my Facebook profile picture back to a picture of me (and a suitcase) after several years of using a photo of me and B on E’s wedding day.

Is it a coincidence that men started to try to chat me up on WWF after I changed to a solo pic?

Probably not…
*****
Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “hairy.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/14/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-dec-15-18/

Four generation Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving four generations
a post-dinner four generation photo of me, Nana, daughter E, and granddaughter ABC

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. We were able to bring Nana from the skilled nursing unit over to the dining room in the Village Center for Thanksgiving dinner, which was delicious.

For years, Nana had been the unofficial goodwill ambassador of the retirement community. She used to make the rounds of the tables after dinner, visiting with everyone and catching up on them and their families. After she went into hospice care in early summer 2017, she wasn’t able to be out and about. Now that she has been decertified by hospice and has done some rehab, she was strong enough to come over for an hour using a wheelchair outfitted with portable oxygen.

A number of people stopped by the table to say hello. There was lots of good food, conversation, and warmth, all of which counteracted the blustery day outside.

Last year at this time, I hadn’t thought it possible that we would have the privilege of another Thanksgiving with Nana and Paco. I am so grateful that we had this day together.

December writing

This year, I offloaded a lot of my traditional December duties to concentrate on writing tasks. The first order of business was to finish a chapbook draft for a contest at QuillsEdge Press. I have now submitted it and am pondering submitting it to a second contest, which closes on January 15. I’d just need to write an acknowledgement page to get it ready.

The next task was to send out a Christmas letter on behalf of my parents. For years, my mom faithfully sent out cards to friends and relatives, but this will be the second Christmas that she hasn’t been up to doing it and I wanted to make sure that the people on her list know their situation.  We enclosed a photo of Nana and Paco with granddaughters E and T and six-month-old great-granddaughter ABC.  E helped out by addressing the envelopes.

With all of my parents’ letters safely mailed, I turned to my own card list. I composed an enclosure letter and battled with my printer to get enough copies ready. We decided to put in two photos, the one that we used for my parents’ list and a second favorite photo of ABC taken when she was four months old and visiting her father and family in London. With my stacks of photos, letters, cards, Christmas seals and stamps on hand, I spent hours signing and addressing over the weekend and today and just brought the last batch to the mailbox for 5 PM pickup.

I am happy to have our greetings sent on their way, knowing that we will be connecting with relatives that we aren’t able to see often and friends from various phases of our lives, many with whom we only correspond at the holidays. 2017 has been such a roller coaster that I especially wanted to make sure to share the story.

And now, I am finally writing this blog post! I’m hoping to get a few more in before the end of the year, although the next week will be very busy. Son-in-law L arrives on Wednesday and the tree still isn’t decorated, other than lights and treetop angel. There will be more shopping and baking to do, although the bulk of it may be done by the other adults in the house.

The most important thing this year is spending time with family and friends. The holiday correspondence was part of that effort. The in-person part already began with a lasagna dinner at Nana and Paco’s apartment with my sisters and their families and early-Christmas gift exchange. More to come about ABC’s first Christmas, which she won’t remember but the rest of us will…

finding hope in impossible times

I had hoped that my next post would be about ABC’s baptism and the family visits around that, but I haven’t been able to get organized to write it.

There has been a lot going on and a lot swirling in my head, so maybe this post will help…

My parents raised me to always do my best. I was fortunate that my best generally also stood me in good stead in school and in life experiences, as I juggled my various roles and tried to do good in the world.

When my children were young, there was a book about being a “good enough” parent. I remember bristling at the concept, because I was geared to be a “best I could be” parent – and daughter, spouse, sister, friend, citizen, Catholic, volunteer, committee member, musician, person.

The current roster of roles now includes grandparent, blogger, and poet.

And it doesn’t feel as though my best, even when I am able to muster it, is good enough.

Not even close.

With my mom in hospice care and granddaughter ABC in residence, there has been massive re-prioritizing, which is necessary and good and understandable. Some things in which I was accustomed to being very active, such as public policy and social justice advocacy, have been sharply curtailed, unfortunately at a time when my country is coming apart at the seams. I am keeping some of my poetry and blogging activities going, but in a scattershot way as I have time/brainpower available.

(It is not especially helpful to have Facebook reminding me how many days it has been since I posted to the Top of JC’s Mind Facebook page.)

I think, though, that the root of the problem is that nothing I do, whether it is my best or not, can change the fact of the mounting losses. Illness and decline and death and people moving away and rejection and running out of time and all manner of losses, anticipated or unforeseen, will keep happening, no matter what I or any of us do, think, or philosophize over.

And, yes, I know circle of life and faith and recommendations to take care of myself notwithstanding, some days are just difficult to get through without tears.

Sometimes, those days with tears string together.

I am blessed, though, with people who bring me as much support and comfort as they can when I am struggling. B to talk with and give me hugs. The warmth of ABC snuggling in my arms. E and L to step in and make dinner when I can’t wrap my head around the concept of eating, much less shopping and cooking. My sisters with calls, notes, and visits. Friends who are sending thoughts and prayers and who understand my sporadic contact.

Earlier this week, I was looking for a bell for Nana to use to call her nighttime aide. Unsure where to look, I went to a dollar store near the pharmacy where I was picking up one of Nana’s prescriptions. I don’t often go to dollar stores, so it was a bit difficult to figure out where to look. I had started to check out some possible aisles when I heard the unmistakable sound of a bell. I followed it to find a girl carrying a little bell toward the checkout where her grandmother was waiting for her.  I waited until they had finished their transactions and asked where they had found it. (The grandmother told me that the bell said “Ring for Beer” on it and that they were getting it for a beer-loving dad.) The girl cheerfully led me through the store to the shelf in the gifts aisle that held the bells. I thanked her. I chose a bell that said “Ring for Service” on it, paid $1.08, and brought it up to my mom’s, who was surprised that I had been able to find a bell so quickly.

(Feel free to insert your favorite It’s a Wonderful Life, serendipity, answer to prayer, etc. thoughts here.)

For me in that moment, it was a reminder that hope and help can appear unexpectedly in the midst of sadness and confusion and uncertainty.

I just have to listen and allow myself to be led.

 

 

thanks

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. Despite the difficult year, I have much for which to be thankful.

One of them is you! I am thankful for my readers, whether you visit once or on a regular basis.

As regular visitors know, 2016 has been a difficult, complicated year for me and I have not been able to read and comment on other blogs on a regular basis, as good bloggers do.

Despite that, I have now surpassed 800 followers. Thanks! I so appreciate your support.

The follower number is not the whole story. I am also surprised at the number of in-person or Facebook friends who tell me that they read my blog, even though they never comment, follow, or like, which tend to be things that other bloggers are inclined to do. I so appreciate your support, especially during this busy time when personal correspondence is among the many things being set aside in deference to tasks that must be done in person. (A reminder to Facebook users, you can find my FB page here.)

I wish everyone a wonderful day, whether it is a holiday for you or not.

All days are better with gratitude and thanksgiving.