Capturing the moments.

Tric is a blogger from Ireland who writes beautifully about the full spectrum of life. I was especially moved by this post today and want to share it with you.

My thoughts on a page.

Growing up most of our photographs were of holidays, birthdays, gatherings or special occasions. If I were to have taken a ‘selfie’ as a teenager, people would have questioned my sanity. Nowadays, I rarely pose or share photos of myself and often forget to take my camera out during special occasions, but that doesn’t mean, I don’t like photos. I do, and rarely a day goes by without my taking at least one. You might be surprised to know, I don’t use a camera to take these photos nor in fact do I tell anyone I am taking them. I do it with the blink of an eye, capturing the moment and filing it away in one of my many albums in the far recess of my mind.

I began to take these photos twenty years ago, when a lovely friend of mine was facing the sad reality that her…

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One-Liner Wednesday: fear and understanding

“Nothing in life is to be feared, only understood.  Now is the time to understand more so that we may fear less.”
~~~ Marie Curie
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Please join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/11/06/one-liner-wednesday-essential/

Badge by Laura @ riddlefromthemiddle.com

a parade and complexities

On Sunday morning, I went to early mass at St. Elizabeth of Hungary, just across from MASS MoCA. It’s the building I knew as St. Anthony’s – and the church where we held the funerals of my mom’s parents. At that time, it was mostly people who, like my grandparents, were ethnically Italian. At the time, North Adams had five Catholic churches; over the years, they have combined into a single parish, which took a new name. Vestiges of the original churches are represented by statues and such taken from the other churches, but it always strikes me, when I look at the dedications of the windows and the pews as I walk to communion, that the building is still centered in Italian heritage.

I exited through one of the back doors and was surprised to find a new memorial tucked into a small lawn between the driveway in the parking lot and the entrance to the parish hall. It’s a replica of the top of the steeple of St. Francis church, the mostly Irish-heritage church that had to be demolished when its structure deteriorated to a dangerous degree. Built into glassed-in alcoves on its sides is a memorial to the church with various memorabilia are twenty pieces of slate that had been salvaged from the wreckage and given to twenty local artists to create remembrances. Some are painted with scenes or designs, but some have text.
St. Francis memorial - North Adams
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This is probably how the nostalgia/memorial spiral that I had feared started.

I had decided to attend the Fall Foliage Parade in the afternoon. I grabbed my box lunch from the museum cafe and found a spot on Hadley Overpass near City Hall, the last stretch before the turn onto Main Street and the reviewing stand. I had written poetry about the parades of my youth and the one I had attended a couple of years ago, but I wanted to see how people interpreted this year’s theme, “There’s no place like home in the Berkshires.” As I ate my sandwich and waited for the parade to reach us, I watched the vendors going by and, because I was near some families with young children, stopping to sell their wares. Most of the things were expected – various inflated toys, stuffed animals, plastic horns – but a few were jarring. The most puzzling combination was the vendor selling Trump 2020 flags alongside a green marijuana flag. I can’t say that I remember either political or drug-oriented flags at Fall Foliage parades before.

I was happy to see that, while there were only a few high school bands, they were larger than the last parade I had seen. I could have done with a lot fewer emergency vehicles in the opening section. I might not have minded so much if they hadn’t all felt compelled to blare their sirens all the time. I also could have done with fewer Oz-themed floats and costumes. You know your grand marshal is a good sport when she is waving from the back of an open convertible dressed as Glinda.

My favorite floats and signs had more pertinent interpretations of home. The young baseball and softball players doing variations on there’s no place like home plate. The signs which read, “There’s No Place Like a Safe Home” and “There’s No Place Like the Headstart.” Even though it was partially advertisement, the Grand Marshal’s Award went to Mountain One Bank with the theme “There’s No Place Like Your Hometown Bank.” The float that was closest to my heart, though, was the Hayden Award winner from Greylock Elementary School, “North Adams Is Our Emerald City.” Beyond being incredibly sweet, I was also touched that Greylock is continuing to be very active in the city. My father-in-law was principal there for decades, long enough to have been principal for three generations in some families, and I was moved to see that his spirit is still alive there.

Later in the afternoon, I workshopped one of my North Adams poems with the Boiler House Poets before heading to a high school friend’s home for dinner. Her husband made us a delicious dinner as I knew he would; he was a chef for many years and we ate at his restaurants many times. After dinner, my friend and I talked for hours, sometimes about current events, but mostly about our families with the array of illnesses and losses and moves and growth and letting go and plans and sorrows and disappointments. We hadn’t been able to see each other for a year, so there was a lot to catch up with, but all of Sunday put me in a vulnerable place for Monday, the last full day of our residency.

I had been workshopping North Adams-oriented poems, but decided to edit a poem which may end a revision of a chapbook I am working on about my mother’s experiences with congestive heart failure. She passed away in May and I thought I was ready to work on this poem, but I probably was not. I managed to do the edits, but it was stressful enough that I slipped back into my brain-full-of-holes, unmoored state that has been affecting me more often than not these last months.

I went back to my room in the apartment to rest for a while, but headed back to the museum for our usual 1:00 lunch. We had to make some plans for the rest of our time, but I was feeling indecisive and scattered. I knew I couldn’t write. One of the poets had told us at lunch that she had read one of her poems at the artwork about which it was written. I decided that I would follow her lead and read a poem in the place it belonged. In my case, though, it wasn’t about an artwork, but about a building.

Building 6 is the largest in the museum complex. It is located where the two branches of the Hoosic meet, so it is shaped somewhat like a wedge. The renovation created a shape in the narrow end of the building called “The Prow.” It is one of my favorite spaces in the museum and the subject of a poem I wrote about looking out its windows. I found a copy of it and went to read it there, except that I forgot to put it into my pocketbook to bring with me. I managed to find it on my phone, though, so I was able to read it there as I looked out at the river and the street and the hills. No one was there to hear it, but that was better. I might not have been able to gather the gumption needed to recite with an unsuspecting audience.

Despite my misgivings, I was able to workshop my poem when we met in the late afternoon. I have some more edits to make and some more things to mull. I’m not sure when, but maybe in a few weeks.

I know this month is going to be incredibly complicated.

One-Liner Wednesday: what the world needs

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it, because what the world needs is people who have come alive. —Howard Thurman
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/09/04/one-liner-wednesday-like-one-of-your-french-girls/

Badge by Laura @ riddlefromthemiddle.com

One-Liner Wednesday: stories happen

“I hope you will go out and let stories happen to you, and that you will work them, water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom.”
– Clarissa Pinkola Estés
(Trying to remind myself of this today.)
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/03/20/one-liner-wednesday-i-take-it-back/

balance

I’m opting to use the Just Jot It January prompt today, which is “balance.”

A large company in our area used to promote the concept of work/life balance.

They don’t anymore.

Now it is work/life “integration.”

This seems to mean that the employee is supposed to squeeze the rest of their non-work life and responsibilities into gaps in their work life. It also means that work can lay claim to what used to be personal/family time, such as evenings, weekends, and vacation, expecting monitoring of work email and helping to address problems over the phone.

I don’t think this is good for the employees, their families, or the business. It’s easy for workers to burn out and that is not good for anybody.

Let’s try to get back in balance.
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Join us for Just Jot It January! Today’s pingback link is here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/25/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-25th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

Why Top of JC’s Mind?

When I wrote about Just Jot It January on New Year’s Day, I said that I didn’t usually use the #JusJoJan prompts from Linda’s blog except for One-Liner Wednesdays and Stream of Consciousness Saturdays, but I decided to set aside what I had planned to post today in favor of Linda’s prompt, which was to write about your blog.

What blogger would ignore the chance to write about their own blog?

I started blogging after several friends suggested that I should. At the time, I was writing a lot of comments on articles about fracking as part of the fight against fracking in my home state of New York, our neighbor Pennsylvania, and in the US and around the world. I also would post on Facebook about a range of other topics, including feminism, progressive politics, and (also progressive) Catholicism. I knew I couldn’t contain myself to write about just one topic, so I decided to be eclectic and name my blog Top of JC’s Mind. I set up on WordPress in September 2013.

I am not particularly tech-savvy and hadn’t really studied blogging, so I didn’t know what I was doing at first. I learned a lot from Opinionated Man and through him, connected with our beloved Linda. While never one to obsess about stats, for a while, I managed to spend a considerable amount of time on blogging – writing my own posts, reading other blogs, and writing comments. I was slowly but steadily gaining followers and enjoyed reading a number of blogs on a regular basis.

Then, life happened and I wound up in maximum sandwich generation mode without much time or mind leftover for proper blogging etiquette.

While I have kept Top of JC’s Mind alive over these past many months, I haven’t been able to read or comment at anywhere near the rate that I used to. I am very grateful to the stalwarts who continue to visit Top of JC’s Mind, even though I only sporadically visit them.

Linda asked in her prompt for today if blogging had changed your life and I think it has. I have met and interacted with many people, both bloggers and commenters, that I would not have otherwise. It has also encouraged me to write more often and given me a platform for sharing poetry. I started blogging near the beginning of my re-engaging as a poet after not having written for decades, so the two writing disciplines have intertwined.

While I think that blogging has changed my life, my life has also changed my blogging. I didn’t think I would write so often about my family, but, because that is where a lot of my heart and time reside, I have written a lot about them here at Top of JC’s Mind and also in my poetry.

As the political and social divisions here in the United States have intensified over the last several years, I have tried to preserve my blog as a respectful place to exchange ideas. I don’t name-call or slam groups of people; I will, however, delete or edit comments that do because it is important to me to keep Top of JC’s Mind a civil space. I don’t delete comments if someone disagrees with me, but will dialogue in comments and use supporting links for backup, as needed, something I learned to do when I was writing commentary about fracking, renewable energy, and climate change. I admit that I get annoyed when people misunderstand science, misuse statistics, or deny facts and history, so I always try to be as accurate as possible with data and be clear when I am giving opinions.

See what happens when you invite a blogger to write about their blog? They go on and on…

Okay. Time to do categories and tags and hit publish before January 3rd turns into January 4th. Thanks, Linda, for the opportunity.
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Join us for Just Jot It January. Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/02/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-3rd/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

One-Liner Wednesday: fortune cookie

“Good work, good life, good love, good-bye oppression”
~~~from my fortune cookie
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Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays and Just Jot It January! Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/02/jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-2nd-and-one-liner-wednesday/
More information on JusJoJan and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/

 

SoCS: High/low

Serendipity is a wonderful thing. When I saw Linda’s prompt for this week, I knew I had to take a few moments to post.

My life has been all about highs and lows lately.

There is this post, “High/low“.

And this post, “Low/high“.

And life is continuing in that vein. Baby ABC is thriving, as Nana becomes more tired and weaker. Nana does have some times that are higher energy than others, though, and it is a huge blessing for all of us to be able to visit often. Of course, ABC steals the show whenever she is there!

Everyone needs a high and spending time with a precious new life is one of the best highs there can be.

It makes the lows more bearable.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is high/low. Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/04/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-517/ 

 

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