Today is a day set aside to honor Martin Luther King, Jr. and his accomplishments. It is also a federal holiday dedicated to a day of service.
Dr. King’s attitude on service was clear.
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
King’s words offer introspect and inspiration to find a project that forwards his vision and participate. While today’s coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns disrupt plans for many in-person celebrations and volunteering efforts, there are plenty of safe virtual activities available.
This NYT article has suggestions from several different areas of the country. A Google search using your locale will bring up local opportunities.
If you’re into parades, Houston offers their annual parade virtually on January 18, from 10 a.m. to noon on HTV and via Facebook on the Original MLK Day Parade page.
Dr. King’s nonviolent activism during the civil rights movement changed things. He passionately believed
“We may have all come on different ships, but we’re in the same boat now.”
MLK, Jr. Day offers an opportunity to reflect on the past, think about the present, plan for the future, and remember what is truly important–We are all in the same boat now.
2020 is gone at last. It’s time to face a new year and make new year’s resolutions.
Resolutions to do this or that, don’t do well for me. BUT I do like goals. Goals solidify intangibles into tangible. To-do lists have always governed my personal life.
When I taught, goals, called lesson objectives, were an integral part of my days. Once I quit teaching, transitioning lesson goals to my writing career was a logical, easy progression.
A pandemic and civil unrest in our 2020 world caused my goals to fluctuate, some to fail. There were days I struggled to simply focus. I think we all did.
We’re a week into 2021 and it’s been a doozy of a week. While I didn’t expect what used to be normal would magically materialize on January 1, I did hope for a better year. Unfortunately, this first week was a reminder that we –you, me, this country– still have a bumpy road ahead.
As a writer, I view 2021 as a book with blank pages to fill any way we want. No goal plan required, but it could help. Whether you choose to write resolutions or specific, measurable goals or fly uncharted ahead with nothing at all planned, that’s up to you.
Me, I’m setting writing year goals/objectives. Personally, I’m determined to hang onto hope.
Hope fuels creativity.
Hope motives through the dismal days.
Hope is a choice that requires courage and action. With hope, we find a well from which to draw grace and kindness for daily living.
Juliet Marillier’s 2013 New Year’s blog post, directed toward writers, is filled with ideas for finding focus. What she labels focus, I’m calling hope. I especially like her #9:
Step away from your screen regularly. Go outside, look at something beautiful and breathe slowly for a few minutes. You live in the real world; it is the source of your inspiration. Honour and respect it with all its flaws.”
Your faith can be a strong ally in holding on to hope. Sometimes your faith offers the support of not being alone and trusting that a higher power is with you. If you are questioning your beliefs, then talk with someone in your faith whom you respect. Others have encountered difficult times, and they will understand. Voicing your questions is a step toward resolving your confusion and also a step toward hope.”
I believe grace and kindness are what we’re gonna need to weather this new year 2021 . It’s starting out to be another 2020-version 01. Find your well of hope.
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade signals the beginning of Christmas preparations and traditions around our home. The Advent wreath also triggers the start of our Christmas celebrations too.
If you attend a traditional liturgical church, you lit the first candle of an Advent wreath yesterday. Or, under COVID-19 quarantine, watched the lighting via video like I did.
Unfamiliar with the tradition of Advent? Let me explain.
Advent comes from adventus meaning “coming” or “visit” and includes the four Sundays before Christmas ending on Christmas Eve. Advent also serves as the beginning of the liturgical year for churches.
Modern-day Advent services feature a garland wreath with four candles.
First candle, the “Prophet’s Candle,” symbolizes hope. The prophets of the Old Testament foretold the Messiah’s arrival. The purple color symbolizes royalty, repentance, and fasting.
Second, the “Bethlehem’s Candle,” represents faith. The prophet Micah foretold the Messiah’s birth in Bethlehem. The second candle is also purple to symbolism preparation for the coming king.
Third, the “Shepherd’s Candle,” symbolizes joy. Angels announced the Christ child’s arrival to shepherds. The rose (pink) color rose signifies joy and rejoicing.
Fourth candle, the “Angel’s Candle,” signifies peace. The angels announced that Jesus came to bring peace. It’s also purple to represent the culmination of love through the Messiah.
The (optional) fifth candle, “Christ’s candle,” stands in the middle and represents light and purity of Christ. It is lit on Christmas Day.
You can read more about the symbolism of the advent wreath here.
Individuals sometimes incorporate advent activities into their home holiday traditions when their church does not formally recognize a season of Advent. You can purchase wreath rings and candles. Or, with our COVID-19 holiday restrictions, you might consider constructing your own Advent wreath. Here’s a how-to video.
Observing Advent with an advent wreath is a great way to remember the true meaning of Christmas.
Winnie the Pooh was a favorite of my youngest daughter, the older edition, not the Disney character. At nap time we read a chapter from A.A. Milne’s book and then at bedtime we re-read the same chapter.
The stories never got old. Ernest H. Shephard’s illustrations always brought the tales to life.
The wisdom of Pooh and his companions was sometimes beyond her young experience, but Milne’s never failed to impress me with the compassion and insight his characters imparted with humor.
In the midst of this coronavirus pandemic and election mess, I needed something to cheer me up and thought about those Pooh books I’d read to my daughter. I decided to dig out the books.
My daughter’s a grown woman with grown boys herself now. I’m grateful I saved them all these years. I’m also grateful A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh. Reading it again has sure perked up my attitude.
You know what I discovered?
Piglet’s wise words about gratitude are just as true today as all those years ago.
In fact, in this chaotic world we’re living in right now, I think filling our hearts with gratitude can be key to getting through the days.
It’s November. Time to change our clocks off daylight saving time. Did you remember or were you an hour early to church or work or wherever you needed to be?
I’ve been an hour early or an hour late more than once myself. To help remember we change our clocks on Saturday evening after supper. We have lots of clocks and it’s a pain, but we haven’t been late since we started making the switch early.
The whole process makes me grouchy. One more irritation in a 2020 filled with irritations.
To me, the whole idea of daylight saving time is a waste. We’re not saving daylight. The hour we lose is gone forever. The sun rises and sets the same way it always has no matter what we do with our clocks.
Katherine Dutro, spokesperson for the Indiana Farm Bureau, says, “It is a gimmick that changes the relationship between ‘Sun’ time and ‘clock’ time but saves neither time nor daylight.”
I agree and I don’t think I’m alone being anti-DST.
These mandated time changes make our body and brain sluggish unnecessarily because our internal circadian clocks synchronize based upon the natural cycles of sunrise and sunset. Not some legislated time ordinance originally designed to make better use of natural daylight.
Statistics back up the concerns about DST changes. A rise in suicide happens around the changes whether we’re springing forward or falling back. Risk of heart attack rises 5% to 15% during the shifting days, and a walloping 24% risk increase the day after the big switches. More car accidents and more ER visits are also reported.
DST was established to save energy. In the 21st century we use energy 24/7 not just during daylight hours, the case when DST was initiated. Saving energy, I don’t think so.
A Lakotah chief once put it more succinctly: ‘Only a white man would believe that you could cut a foot off the top of a blanket and sew it to the bottom of a blanket and have a longer blanket.’
Crazy isn’t it? I’d vote to do away with DST and go back to sun time. How about you?
This time of year, pumpkins with carved faces appear on porches and steps.
Ever wonder why we carve pumpkins on Halloween?
The tradition originated from an Irish myth about an old drunk called “Stingy Jack.”
It’s easy to guess why he was called stingy. He never wanted to pay for his drinks and always tricked his drinking partner into paying. And that little habit got him into big trouble when Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink.
Here’s the story…
Pumpkins replaced turnip jack-o-lanterns when waves of Irish immigrants came to America in the 1800’s to escape the Potato Famine. They quickly discovered that pumpkins were bigger and easier to carve out.
And, that folks is how the tradition of carving and lighting pumpkins for Halloween began.
~~~A longer version of this blog appeared on View from the Front Porch on October 12, 2013
Our morning walks are getting spooky as neighbors began to decorate for Halloween.
This yard decoration is not my favorite.
Not a fan of spiders period. Especially giant eyed spiders surrounded by ghosts and blinking jack-o-lanterns.
The yard pictured below with a recreation of Washington Irving’s 1820 “Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is more what I think of when I think of spooky and scary.
I love how the short story about a headless horseman who terrorizes the real-life village of Sleepy Hollow resurfaces at Halloween every year. It’s America’s first ghost story—and one of its scariest.
This doozy 2020 is scary enough on its own. Not sure we even need a Halloween this year, and I know the CDC will not be encouraging us to knock on random doors and share treats with strangers.
We don’t celebrate Halloween at our house. With only Buster and Finn around, it’s like a repeat of all the fireworks on the Fourth of July, too much noise.
But for those of you who do celebrate and need some social distancing ideas for this year, let me suggest four.
Plan a spooky dinner with things like spaghetti eyeballs, Jack o’ lantern quesadillas, witch’s hair pasta, Dead Man’s Finger hot dogs. Or a breakfast of Vampire doughnuts. Have everyone—mom and dad included—dress in costume!
Like Easter egg hunts, hide individual pieces of candy around the house or yard and let the kids fill bags or plastic pumpkins with the bounty they find.
Or provide hints to follow for a spooky scavenger hunt to search for a pre-filled plastic pumpkin for each kid. Mom or Dad can hide and jump-scare older kids along the route.
Spend an evening watching spooky movies
Turn the lights out and have plenty of popcorn and candy treats available. Movie choices are almost endless from tame (It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!) to terrifying (Annabelle) and lots in between (Hocus Pocus).
Labor Day celebrates our workforce as this vintage postcard suggests. It also signals the end of summer though the fall equinox won’t actually happen for three more weeks on September 21. Still we consider summer gone after Labor Day.
Labor Day celebrations look different this year thanks to COVID-19. No skipping town for faraway places. No firing up the backyard BBQ for gatherings with friends and family.
While pandemic separation may make us miss catching up with cousins and neighbors with hot dogs in hand, it also means less effort preparing for the day. No rushing to cut the grass or clean the pool, or all that other prep that goes into entertaining. That’s kinda a plus.
Bonus: we didn’t have to deal with Cousin Will’s ultra-conservative (or ultra-liberal) political outbursts or the next-door neighbor’s comparisons of yards.
Labor Day does offer a break, a change from daily routines. No school. No Zoom meetings. A day to relax. To slow our pace.
And, trust me, relaxation of any kind for any length is more important than ever in these times of increased stresses.
I like what Brian Basset suggests in a recent Sunday funnies.
As we head into days with all the back-to-school uncertainties and pre-election day chatter and other things that are sure to increase our stress levels. Let’s take Red & Rover’s advice to heart and embrace the fact that slowing down can lower stress.
Turn off the news.
Skip social media.
Sit on the porch and
Focus on the little things like cooler temperatures, changing leaves, and sitting by the lake with a fishing pool.
Remember how we learned the parts of speech for different words in school?
Nouns: a person, place, thing, or idea.
Pronoun: a word used in place of a noun.
Verb: words that express action or being.
Adjectives: words todescribe nouns or pronouns.
Adverbs: words to describe a verb, an adjective, or another adverb.
Prepositions: words placed before a noun or pronoun to form a phrase modifying another word in the sentence.
Conjunctions: that join words, phrases, or clauses.
Interjections: words used to express emotion.
And we thought that covered all the word groups. Well, we were wrong. I’ve discovered there are many more words to describe the words we use.
Retronym: a modifier added to describe what was once its default meaning, i.e. cloth diaper since most diapers now are disposable, snail mail because, you know, email, whole milk because almond milk and other flavors, regular coffee, plain M&Ms also because of the additional flavors now. Get the idea?
But be cautious, a retronym is not always merely adjective/noun combinations. It’s a word with a qualifier to refer to the original meaning of the word. Thus, chocolate chip is not a retronym, neither is cellular phone.
Tmesis: a new word formed by placing one word in the middle of another.
Not a new concept, Shakespeare used one in “Richard II”—How-heinous-ever. So did George Bernard Shaw in “Pygmalion”: Fan-bloody-tastic or abso-blooming-lutely.
Capitonym: word that changes meaning, and sometimes pronunciation, when capitalize, i.e. mobile meaning moving or Mobile meaning the city in Alabama. Others include August, the month, or august the adjective meaning respected and important.
Bahuvrihi: just saying this correctly should earn you points. If you want help, try here. The word is Sanskrit and a bahuvrihi itself. The word means “much rice” but refers to a rich man. Examples would be barefoot, graybeard, redhead or blue-collar/white-collar or old money.
Embolalia: words or sounds added into speech. It’s stammered speech as we arrange our thoughts. Examples: well, but, I guess, um, you know.
Metonym or Metonymy: using the name of one object or concept for that of another to which it is related, or of which it is a part, i.e. the bottle for strong drink, count heads (or noses) for count people, hoops for basketball, Capitol Hill for US. Congress.
Mondegreen: is a mishearing or misinterpretation of a phrase in a way that gives it a new meaning. Mondegreens are generally understood not to be intentional.
Around our family the song “Elvira” is forever called It’ll fire up. Other examples dawnzer lee light for the mishearing of “dawn’s early light” lyric of the “Star- Spangled Banner” or The ants are my friends for “The answer, my friend” in “Blowing in the Wind” by Bob Dylan.
Portmanteau: two or more words are joined to coin a new word, which refers to a single concept, i.e. education + entertainment = edutainment, fan + magazine = fanzine, motor + hotel = motel, spoon + fork= spork
Slurvian: basically, this is a portmanteau that is slurred together. Examples d’ja slurred form of did you, wanna for want to, and the ubiquitous y’all for you all. Of course, that last example of a slurvian is standard English where I live. 😊
I’m a wordsmith and a word game player. I love learning new words.
Now you, too, know a few new words in case you want to wow your next Zoom meeting and drop one in. I’m not sure they’ll appreciate them as much as I do, though.
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