Thanksgiving 2020

The fourth Thursday of November is celebrated as Thanksgiving Day in the United States. It’s traditional to gather with family and friends for a big dinner, usually turkey with lots of side dishes.

This Thanksgiving will be quieter for many of us because of the pandemic. Cases are rising across the country and in many states are already so numerous that hospitals are running out of space for patients. Frighteningly, millions of people are not heeding the advice of public health experts and are travelling long distances and/or gathering in groups larger than ten or with people outside their household, thus increasing the danger of even higher case counts in December.

Our plan for the day is for spouse B, daughter T, and I to go to Paco’s apartment in his senior community where we will have a Zoom session with my sisters and daughter E. In that way, Paco will get to see his great-granddaughters ABC and JG who will be celebrating American Thanksgiving on an ordinary (lockdown) Thursday in London, UK. B,T, and I were supposed to be in London with them near the end of a month-long visit until the lockdown there cancelled our trip. Once I have Paco set up with the Zoom session on this laptop, I’ll go to another room with another device so he can take his mask off.

After our video chat, Thanksgiving dinner will be delivered to the apartment and we will eat with Paco on one side of the room and B, T, and me on the other as we will need to take our masks off to eat. We will leave expeditiously after dinner so as to limit our contact time.

It won’t be the usual Thanksgiving, but it will be special in its own way.

The point of the holiday is to give thanks but the gratitude this year is tinged with sorrow and regret. I am very grateful that our family is weathering this very disrupted year. B is able to work from home and we are able to stay safe at home for the most part. We certainly miss being able to visit Paco every day and are sad to not be able to travel to the UK to visit for all of 2020, but it would be so horrifying and dangerous to have inadvertently exposed someone to COVID that the separation is necessary.

I am grateful for Governor Cuomo and all the medical personnel and other essential workers who have worked so hard to keep as many of us safe and well as possible. At the same time, I mourn the millions of people in the US and around the world who have been impacted by the coronavirus, either by illness or death of themselves or a loved one or loss of work, shelter, food security, medical care, etc. I am also dreading the coming weeks, which are projected to see a steep rise in cases on top of already soaring rates in the US. There have already been over 12.8 million confirmed cases and 261,000 deaths and the thought of millions more is overwhelming.

I am grateful that the Biden /Harris administration is starting to take shape with the announcement of well-qualified people to key posts. At the same time, I’m sad to see so many not accepting the facts of the situation and not being willing to join in the efforts to come together to fight the pandemic, revive our communities, and unite as one nation.

I’m grateful for the ideals of our country but sad that we are so far from embodying them.

I feel similarly about the Catholic church. I’m grateful for the moral grounding, social doctrine, integral ecology principles, and primacy of love that it has taught me, but sorrowful and penitent about the many abuses of power done in its name, including war, torture, colonialism, racism, sexism, clericalism, sexual abuse and cover-up, and oppression of other religions and peoples over centuries.

So, yes, a very different Thanksgiving. With widespread vaccine use possible by November 2021, maybe next year will be more “normal.”

Or, maybe, there will be no going back to what used to be considered normal.

I pray that we can finally build institutions that live up to their high ideals for the good of all creation.

7th blogiversary!

WordPress has helpfully reminded me that today is my seventh blogiversary!

Sending out a big THANK YOU to all my readers, including my 1,400 followers!

Okay, it’s time to calm down and not end every sentence with an exclamation point.

Over these past seven years, I have published 1,383 posts and had over 24,000 visitors from 119 countries. It boggles my mind. I hadn’t really thought about stats seven years ago when I started. Truth to tell, I don’t think about stats that often now, either, but I do appreciate sharing my thoughts with so many people around the world.

I also appreciate that I have been able to keep my blog eclectic. I knew starting out that the recommendation was to target a blog to a specific topic with a regular posting schedule and a plan to build followers, but I chose to take a path that fit my personality better. I have wide-ranging interests and like to be able to bring them up as they become “top of mind.” Circumstances have arisen that have had me writing more about my personal life than I had originally expected, but having an intentionally eclectic blog accommodated that.

For millions around the world, 2020 has been hard to navigate in terms of time. People’s schedules have been disrupted to such an extent that a week can simultaneously feel like forever and a flash. For me, most of the past seven years have been like that, as I’ve lived in a web of intergenerational health problems, moves, on-site and long-distance caretaking, and lots of unpredictability. I didn’t know seven years ago how important writing poetry would become in my life. I didn’t know that we would lose both my mother and mother-in-law. I didn’t know I’d now have two precious and faraway granddaughters.

Sometimes, in writing a post, I need to look back into my post archive to refresh my memory on when something occurred. In reading older posts, I am gratified to find that, in most cases, the writing has held up pretty well. You all have an open invitation to stroll through the posts from prior months and years. You might stumble across something that interests you.

I have never kept a diary or journal going for any length of time, so I am glad to have Top of JC’s Mind as a keepsake of these past seven years.

Which reminds me, I really need to figure out how to do a proper back-up…

One-Liner Wednesday: gratitude on a sad day

Thanks, Mom.
(something I just wanted to say today, the day of my mother’s funeral)
*****
Join us for Linda’s One-Liner Wednesday. Find out how here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/05/29/one-liner-wednesday-reason-27-why-sign-language-is-our-friend/

1000 followers!

Today, I reached 1000 followers!

And, yes, usual caveats of how followers does not equal readers, and some people are counted twice if they follow by email or on WordPress and also like or follow my Facebook page, etc.

This does give me an opportunity to thank all the visitors to Top of JC’s Mind, whether you visit once or often, follower or not, commenter or not.

For the record, 1,023 posts since the first on September 13, 2013. I know many bloggers would find almost five years to reach 1000 followers unconscionably slow/lazy/unacceptable, but I am more shocked to have made it this far. I am not one to check stats very often. Or someone who has been able to blog the “right way.” While I have had periods of diligently reading, commenting, and following other blogs both for edification and to garner more readers myself, as life has gotten more complicated, I have had to concentrate on posting myself and haven’t even been able to do that as consistently as I would like.

All this makes me that much more appreciative of my readers, especially the handful that have reached out and told me that it is all okay, that they believe I am worth waiting for. So, I will keep blogging, however imperfectly, with your encouragement.

With thanks,
Joanne

poetic pondering

When I was at the most recent Boiler House reunion residency, I wrote a poem that had been percolating in my head for a while and workshopped it with the group. Unlike most of my poems, this one was more than a page long – two and a half pages – and I was very grateful for the input of the Boiler House Poets which helped me to re-craft it to a more manageable page and a half.

Earlier this month, I brought the edited version to workshop with Grapevine Group, my stalwart local group from whom I have learned so much. As it happened, that session marked the return of the elder-statesman poet of the group, who had been unable to be with us for many, many months due to health issues. I will refer to him here as M. I had been in workshop with M only a few times when I first joined the group and have always been awed by him. He is the one among us who has been published most frequently by the big name journals and who tends to ask if we are all submitting our work, a question which always stings a bit because that is the part of the process that I most often neglect.

So, along with being nervous about presenting this poem to Grapevine because it is particularly close to my heart, I was nervous because this accomplished poet who is a founder of our group was there.

…And everyone liked the poem. I was relieved and grateful – and happy to accept comments that give me a few more things to think about for the next round of edits.

I was especially humbled because M was very complimentary to my poem, saying that he could not have written it. Which, I and the other poets in the group know is true only in the context of M could not have written it as it was my personal experience, as he has certainly written poems that were more finely wrought and effective. Still, I was deeply touched by M’s compliment and specific comments on lines and techniques that he liked. Of course, it helped that I used repetition as a poetic technique in the poem, as that is one of his favorite devices. M asked if he could keep a copy of the poem and I was happy to comply.

We met again last night and I was surprised that M brought up my poem from last time. It’s very flattering – and enough to give me butterflies for fear of being disappointing, although my critique did go well again.

As most of my poet friends – and probably a few of my regular readers here – know, I struggle to have confidence in my poetry. On the one hand, this helps me to accept criticism and make edits that make my work stronger. On the other, it keeps me from putting my work out there as much as I should.

I admit that I will probably always feel that I am behind other poets in my knowledge and experience, given that my academic background is scant and I didn’t being to write seriously until I was in my early fifties. Still, I should more often reflect on how far I have come and how much I have grown and developed as a poet over the last several years, even though, for more prosaic reasons, I have not been doing much submitting/publishing in the last couple of years.

So much of that growth is due to my various poetry circles, so I offer my profound gratitude and love to the Binghamton Poetry Project, Grapevine Group, Sappho’s Circle, and the Boiler House Poets. I literally would not be the poet I am today without you – and perhaps not a poet at all.

Fourth blogoversary!

WordPress has helpfully informed me that today is my fourth blogoversary.

Sorry that I won’t be hosting a big blog party, but my in-person commitments are too heavy right now for the organizing and tending involved in a digital event.

I am not entirely sure what I expected four years ago when I started Top of JC’s Mind at the encouragement of some friends, but 918 posts later, I’m glad that I stuck with it, however haphazardly.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my 909 followers and over 10,000 other visitors over these four years. I so appreciate your support and encouragement as life has taken so many twists and turns that I had not anticipated.

…which reminds me that I really need to update my About page one of these days…

I especially appreciate my stalwart regular readers who have continued to visit despite my now months-long lack of reciprocation in blog visits and comments.

Baby ABC is waking from a nap and I am on Nana duty, so I’ll end here.

Thank you all so much and stay tuned!

Joanne

Valentines

Happy Valentine’s Day!

As I write this, I have a dessert treat in the oven for this evening and E and L are sharing a Valentine’s Day tea in London. We are happy that they have a chance to spend Valentine’s Day together in this year of being separated by an ocean most of the time.

It is also the birthday of one of my cousins. His mom, one of my dad’s sisters, always wanted a son born on Valentine’s Day and she got her wish.

Unfortunately, she couldn’t have another child because she was Rh negative and her son was Rh positive. Because she was now sensitized to Rh factors, her antibodies would have attacked the blood of another Rh positive child. If the baby survived, it would have needed an immediate total blood transfusion. Most couples in those circumstances chose not to risk a second pregnancy.

Like my aunt, I am Rh negative, but I was fortunate to be pregnant after the development of RhoGAM. I had one shot during pregnancy and a second after I gave birth to E, who is Rh positive, so that I would not develop antibodies to Rh factors. This enabled me to later have daughter T without risk to her blood.

Valentine’s Day is another day to be thankful for family and for good medical care.

One-Liner Wednesday: family and country

After watching President Obama’s farewell address last night, I want to thank him, Michelle, Malia, Sasha, and Grandma Robinson for their example of familial love and service to the country and wish them all well in their post-White House years.
*****
This (somewhat sappy) One-Liner Jot is part of Linda’s One-Liner Wednesdays and Just Jot It January. Double dip! Join us for one or both of these series. Find out how here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/01/11/one-liner-wednesday-jusjojan-1117-prompt-shovel-buddy/

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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.

Thanks to the Department of Public Art

When I revealed my secret poetry mission, I promised to share the text of my poem “Thanks to the Department of Public Art” after it was published in the fall anthology of the Binghamton Poetry Project.  The anthology is available tonight at our reading, so I am pleased to share the poem below. Here is a recording of my original reading at the 2016 Heart of the Arts Awards dinner.

Thanks to the Department of Public Art
~~ by Joanne Corey

 for Emily Jablon, Peg Johnston, and all whose hearts are in the arts

Stencils and murals
on descending levels
of the Water Street parking ramp
time-travel through that historic corner –
Link Blue Box flight simulators
evolve from pipe organs –
punching in on Bundy
time recording machines
in the days before IBM
and the move to Endicott –
on street level
“Welcome to the birthplace
of virtual reality”

We walk back
walk through
move forward
cover
recover
remember
build
rebuild
renovate
together

Walking along the Chenango
more murals –
diverse faces
in shades of gray
with colorful songbird
overlay –
hot air balloons
float over green hills –
BINGHAMTON
in bold letters
filled with landmarks
proclaiming their location

We draw
paint
photograph
digitize
share
write
read
view
review
create
recreate
together

Across Court Street
a riot of mosaics
flowing around curves
moving through the spectrum
patterns
shapes
florals
the clear message
“BE  INSPIRED,
BE BINGHAMTON”

Broken shards of glass and lives
re-order
re-assemble
tessellate
shine in the sun
glisten in the rain
reflect
renew
touch
together

We sing
play
listen
dance
act
react
interact
applaud
together

We live
breathe
eat
drink
laugh
sigh
smile
artfully
thoughtfully
cooperatively
with heart