Karens

Lately, some people in the US have taken to referring to a white woman who calls 911 on a black person without cause as a “Karen.” Sometimes, this broadens to any white woman who tries to leverage her white privilege.

While I think it is legitimate to call out destructive behavior, I wish people would do it directly, not by name-calling. If one is referring to a specific incident, use the name of the person involved. If it is a more general comment about white privilege or entitlement, call it that.

There are lots of people named Karen and they don’t deserve a negative connotation being attached to their names. Some of them are men. Some of them, like Congressmember and potential vice-presidential nominee Karen Bass, are black. Karens are our neighbors, teachers, business owners, and friends. Karens are beloved members of families, including mine.

So, please, think twice about turning a name into an insult. Use a few more words and say what you intend without resorting to name-calling.

SoCS: after

Silence takes on new meaning after the death of a loved one. Perhaps it is in that silence that we can still hear our loved one in our hearts.
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “silent/silence.” Learn more about SoCS here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/05/31/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-june-1-19/

blue Christmas

Several years ago, I attended a Blue Christmas service, led by a pastor-friend. It is a service during Advent to help those who are experiencing loss or struggles, acknowledging that the Christmas season is difficult in their circumstances.

It would have been beneficial to attend such a service this year.

I have been preoccupied with caregiving responsibilities and concerns over these last months, which don’t pause just because it is December. I outsourced nearly all the Christmas preparations to my family, even sending holiday cards and letters, which has long been one of my highest priorities. I couldn’t make myself try to sum up what has been a complex year, so spouse B and daughter T wrote a letter instead.

One of the blessings of this year, though, has been that our Christmas celebration has been elongated, starting with St. Nicholas Day on December 6th, which we observed so that we could celebrate with daughter E and granddaughter ABC before they left to spend several weeks with son-in-law L and his family in London. My older sister and her husband came to visit weekend before last. T and I attended Christmas Eve mass at 6:00 last night, with the instrumental ensemble and choir and the handbell choir. T loves handbells and ringing, so it was wonderful to hear them, especially with the new addition of handchimes.

On this Christmas morning, we opened stockings and a few presents, given that we already did stockings and gift exchange for St. Nicholas Day. We will have dinner at noon with Nana and Paco, bringing Nana over from her room in skilled nursing to the main dining room for the holiday buffet, as we did at Thanksgiving. Tomorrow, my younger sister and her family will arrive for a couple of days.

Still, it is difficult for me to feel festive. It’s hard to marvel at the wonder of the Incarnation while thinking about logistics and everyday details.

Perhaps, that is the message, though. The wonder of the Incarnation is that it arrived by everyday means, the birth of a child in complicated circumstances, something that happens around the world every day.

Perhaps, I can take that message into my own heart today, reminding myself that the spirit of Love is within and around us in our everyday experiences, if we only reflect and notice.

Wishing that spirit of Love to each of you,
Joanne

strawberry pies

In my region, it is strawberry season. While strawberries from far away are available in supermarkets year-round, we almost never buy them, preferring to wait for the short but sweet local strawberry season.

When the wild strawberries in our lawn begin to ripen, it is time to head to the farmstands for quarts of flavorful, ripe berries. (It used to be time to head to the pick-your-own farms in the area but lack of time and an aging body have put an end to spending some early morning hours picking berries and avoiding slugs.)

In the early part of the season, I always make a fresh strawberry pie, using a recipe that my mom, known as Nana here at TJCM, made. It originated in a leaflet from the farm that we used to visit with her during childhood to pick strawberries. My copy was written out in Nana’s elegant cursive on a recipe card among those that she gifted to me when B and I married. We shared this year’s fresh strawberry pie topped with whipped cream with her and the family over at Mercy House, the hospice residence where Nana is now living.

As the season progresses and the berries need to be used more quickly, I move on to recipes that involve cooked berries. Last week, I made one of my favorites, strawberry rhubarb pie. I tried something different this time, using pastry cut-outs instead of a full top crust, hoping that the filling in the extra-deep pie plate would cook through without soaking the crust.
36427111_10212160706838382_6712770018037202944_n It worked! Again, the family gathered at Mercy House to enjoy pie with Nana and Paco.

Strawberry season is always a blessing, but this year even more so. Making more sweet memories is a precious gift.

SoCS: white words

When the horrific alt-right rallies and violence came down in Charlottesville, there were a lot of interviews with various alt-right leaders.

They were difficult to comprehend.

As anyone who has visited my about page knows, I am white. I am also an American. But I don’t understand terms that the alt-right uses, such as “white culture.”

I know that I belong to American civic culture, but that includes people of all races, ethnicities, faiths (or not, because atheists and agnostics are included, too), philosophies, etc. Everyone who embraces the rights and responsibilities outlined in our Constitution and laws. We all join together in working for the common good.

I don’t know what “white culture” is meant to mean. When my grandparents came from Italy and my great-grandparents came from Ireland, they were not seen as part of an American “white culture.” They were seen as “other”; their children and grandchildren were able to join in the American civic culture into which they were born. That still, though, does not define a “white culture” in the United States, as we participate in that culture with a diverse group of millions.

I also heard alt-right people speaking about “white genocide.” Genocide means the killing of large numbers of people because of the group that they belong to. Rwanda had a horrible genocide between the Hutu and Tutsi, with many men, women, and children slaughtered. Sadly, there are numerous other examples of genocide, but there is certainly no mass killing of white people in the United States for being white.

I did hear one alt-right leader explain “white genocide” as whites no longer being the majority of Americans, ostensibly due to immigration and interracial relationships. To be clear, this is not genocide. Genocide is about hate and death. Children being born is about love and life. My granddaughter is not part of any “genocide”; she is a beautiful expression of love.

Okay. Time to get this published before we have another power bump or internet outage. (So no one is concerned, we are just having some system problems locally. We are far away from the Hurricane Harvey area, to which we send our thoughts and prayers as they brace for up to 40 inches (1 meter) of rain over the next several days.)
*****
Linda’s prompt this week for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is to being with the word “When.” Join us! Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/08/25/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-aug-2617/

 

 

Finding Dory, family, and memory

I love Pixar.

I love that they have a short before the feature film. Before Finding Dory, there is Piper, the wordless story of a young sandpiper learning to find food on its own. The animation is so stunning that in the first moments I thought it was photographed rather than animated. The story is also incredibly endearing, which is another Pixar trademark.

I love that there are bonuses, like references to other Pixar films and little final scenes after the credits. It was a shame we were the only ones left in the theater to see the special Finding Nemo flashback scene at the end of Finding Dory.

What I love most, though, is the richness of the storytelling. All Pixar movies work on multiple levels. They certainly appeal to children and impart life lessons as all worthy tales do, but they also appeal to adults across the age spectrum with further layers of meaning.

Finding Dory is about finding family, both in the sense of family of origin and the family that we can make for ourselves through deep friendship. The resilience of family bonds in the face of great challenge is on full display.

For me, there was an additional family connection. One of the key elements of Dory’s character is that she suffers from short term memory loss.  In this film, there is an added element of vivid distant memories that re-surface.  It reminded me of the stage of Alzheimer’s disease where the person can’t remember what happened a minute ago but can remember what happened many years before.

It was especially poignant because my 91-year-old dad just lost his last sibling, who like their father and two other siblings, had suffered with Alzheimer’s disease. We have also known other people with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia and are familiar with the frustrations, fears, and dangers it causes, both to the persons with memory loss and the people around them.

There isn’t a cure, just ways of compensating and adjusting as best one can, moment to moment, trusting that , somehow, the bonds of family will be strong enough to draw us together and back to ourselves.

 

the original Mother’s Day

Yesterday, for Stream of Consciousness Saturday, I posted about personal Mother’s Day.

Today, I want to post about the original meaning of celebrating Mother’s Day.

It was actually Mothers’ Day for Peace and was not about personal sentiment, but about global peacemaking.

Julia Ward Howe wrote the original proclamation in 1870:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise all women who have hearts,
whether our baptism be that of water or of fears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by
irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking
with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be
taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach
them of charity, mercy and patience.

We women of one country will be too tender of those of another
country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From
the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own.
It says “Disarm, Disarm! The sword of murder is not the balance
of justice.”

Blood does not wipe our dishonor nor violence indicate possession.
As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons
of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a
great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women,
to bewail and commemorate the dead.

Let them then solemnly take counsel with each other as to the
means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each
bearing after their own time the sacred impress, not of Caesar,
but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a
general congress of women without limit of nationality may be
appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at
the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the
alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement
of international questions, the great and general interests of
peace.

(Source and more info:  http://www.peace.ca/mothersdayproclamation.htm)

At our time in history, we are still desperately in need of world peace. Today, let us re-commit ourselves to building that peace.

the t-word

I’ve written before about my support for Bernie Sanders as the presidential candidate whose views most closely resemble my own.

I have not been writing about my opposition to the ideas and the tone of the Republican campaign, particularly those of the frontrunner whose name I use sparingly, if at all, so as not to spread the hatefulness.

This finds me avoiding using a word that I tend to use when speaking and, more sparingly, when writing.

The verb “trump” means “to be more important than.”

I can’t use it without clarifying that I’m not being unduly ironic.

I resent not having use of a perfectly good word, but not as much as I resent the way our Constitution, our values, and common decency are being trampled this election season.

 

Poem: Becoming Joanne

I wrote this poem in response to a prompt from Silver Birch Press for their “All About My Name” series. They kindly included it in their series and I posted the link, so some of you may already have read it, but I know some people don’t click on links, so I am posting the poem here today. I hope you like it.

Becoming Joanne
 – by Joanne Corey

If my grandfather Giovanni
had not fled the Old Country
before the Great War,
I might have been Giovanna
or piccola Giovanina.
Born in 1960s New England,
I was Joanne —
one word —
small a —
with an e —
to avoid confusion with four classmates
who answered to that common name.

When I was eighteen,
my Latin teacher derived and gave
meaning to my name:
Joanne —
feminine of John —
from Hebrew –
variously translated as
God is gracious- —
Gift of God —
God’s gracious gift.
A daunting aspiration
as I began adulthood.

After decades of striving
to fulfill the promise,
to be worthy of my name,
in my sixth decade,
wisdom dawns.
God freely gifts grace.
I AM,
have always been,
will always be
Joanne —
God’s gracious gift —
living out a universal call.

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