Sunshine Blogger Award for Me!

Dear Reader,

I’ve been tagged! I want to thank Angelica @TheBookCoverGirls for nominating me to answer the following questions as part of the Sunshine Blogger Award 2.0!

Angelica is very curious about me! Here are her questions and my answers:

What is your favorite book cover of all time?

 

Aside from reading, what is your favorite pastime?

I like to write and to eat, drink and be merry.

Who are your favorite authors of all time?

I admire Joan Didion and enjoy Nora Ephron. The children’s/YA author, Cynthia Rylant, holds a special place in my heart; I’d love to meet her.

What is the hardest thing about blogging?

Well, I had to overcome my fear of technology!

What is your favorite thing about blogging?

I love the feeling of personal satisfaction when I feel I’ve nailed a post and I love the friends I’ve made.

What is your favorite piece of bookish merchandise that you own?

My coffee mug with the T.S. Eliot quote: I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.

How many books do you own? (Physical, audio, ebook, etc.)

OMG! I refuse to answer this one! Let’s just say: I love books and I’ve been alive/collecting for a long time!

Where do you usually read? Is there a specific spot in your house?

I read pretty much everywhere: on the couch, in bed and, of course, in the pink shed.

What is your favorite book to movie adaptation?

Loved the books first and then the movies: Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird and Silver Linings Playbook (I read the book after seeing this movie, because I loved the movie so much).

What is your least favorite book to movie adaptation?

Eat Pray Love was so disappointing.

Write down the first animal that comes to mind. Ready, set, go! Tell me something cool about it!

Surprise (not) ….a dog. I have three on the couch with me now and they are keeping me warm on a cool autumn evening!

Thanks for reading, as always…

Michele

 

How does it work…

  • Thank the person(s) who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions sent by the person who nominated you
  • Nominate new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo on your post and/or on your blog

My Nominees:

My Botanical Garden||Busy K Blog||Milly Schmidt||Gardening Nirvana||Marie McLean||silkannthreades||

My Questions:

  1. Why did you start blogging?
  2. Why do you continue blogging?
  3. Do your family members and close friends follow your blog and, if so, do you moderate yourself?
  4. What is your earliest memory of being read to or reading yourself?
  5. What is your favorite children’s book and why?
  6. Who are your heroines/heros?
  7. What publications do you regularly read?
  8. Do you still go to bookstores? If so, do you have a favorite?
  9. Pick one:  coffee or tea?
  10. What is your favorite travel destination?
  11. Who are you in three words?

Dia De Los Muertos

 

 

Dear Reader:

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a misunderstood holiday celebrated in Mexico, and in my home, on November 2. Given the timing of the holiday and the macabre imagery and costumes, people assume it’s simply “Mexican Halloween.” But, the meaning of this holiday is so much greater.

In the year 2000, my 35-year-old brother was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and I did what I always do when presented with a major life challenge; I researched and read about the topic of death. Books have always been my saviors. During the toughest year of my life, as I watched Matt die, the accumulated wisdom of others brought me comfort. It was during this time that I learned about Day of the Dead.

The holiday takes its origins from the Aztecs and was celebrated around the end of summer like Halloween. With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, Catholic influence led to the combination of the holiday with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. Dia De Los  Muertos follows the same two-day structure. In the Catholic tradition, All Saints’ Day calls us to reflect upon how we should live; All Souls’ Day is a celebration of those we’ve loved and lost. In the Mexican tradition, November 1 is the day to remember the loss of children and November 2 is the day to remember adults who have left us. The most important aspect of the holiday is the belief that the spirits of the dead join the living for the celebration.

In preparation for the party, altars are created that contain remembrances and offerings to our departed loved ones. (Sugar skulls are often included for children and alcohol for adults. You may have noticed KAH tequila in my display.) I love arranging my tribute each year and I love talking about my altar to visitors in my home. Those who are represented are gone but not forgotten; that truism is comforting to me.

I remember:

  • My grandmother, Rose Carmella Bartucci. She had a big heart and memories of her make me smile. My daughter never knew her, but her middle name and nickname (Rosebud) are in her honor.
  • My brother, Matt. I miss you so much.
  • My father-in-law Jim. My husband inherited all your best traits and my daughter adored you.
  • Bart, my faithful four-legged companion. The pink shed isn’t quite the same without you.

During the time that my brother was sick and following his death, I often felt very alone in my grief. It’s not easy or natural to speak of death and dying in our culture, but I believe very strongly that we should. What better way to start a conversation than by bringing the departed back into your living room?

I’ll end this now as it’s time to toast my loved ones.

Cheers,

Michele

 

 

Dia De Los Muertos

IMG_5531
My altar
IMG_5513
Catrina draped in my grandmother’s rosary beads
IMG_5511
A lamp made by my brother

Dear Reader:

Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) is a misunderstood holiday celebrated in Mexico, and in my home, on November 2. Given the timing of the holiday and the macabre imagery and costumes, people assume it’s simply “Mexican Halloween.” But, the meaning of this holiday is so much greater.

In the year 2000, my 35-year-old brother was diagnosed with an incurable form of cancer and I did what I always do when presented with a major life challenge; I researched and read about the topic of death. Books have always been my saviors. During the toughest year of my life, as I watched Matt die, the accumulated wisdom of others brought me comfort. It was during this time that I learned about Day of the Dead.

The holiday takes its origins from the Aztecs and was celebrated around the end of summer like Halloween. With the arrival of Spanish conquistadors, Catholic influence led to the combination of the holiday with All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day. Dia De Los  Muertos follows the same two-day structure. In the Catholic tradition, All Saints’ Day calls us to reflect upon how we should live; All Souls’ Day is a celebration of those we’ve loved and lost. In the Mexican tradition, November 1 is the day to remember the loss of children and November 2 is the day to remember adults who have left us. The most important aspect of the holiday is the belief that the spirits of the dead join the living for the celebration.

In preparation for the party, altars are created that contain remembrances and offerings to our departed loved ones. (Sugar skulls are often included for children and alcohol for adults. You may have noticed KAH tequila in my display.) I love arranging my tribute each year and I love talking about my altar to visitors in my home. Those who are represented are gone but not forgotten; that truism is comforting to me.

I remember:

  • My grandmother, Rose Carmella Bartucci. She had a big heart and memories of her make me smile. My daughter never knew her, but her middle name and nickname (Rosebud) are in her honor.
  • My brother, Matt. I miss you so much.
  • My father-in-law Jim. My husband inherited all your best traits and my daughter adored you.
  • Bart, my faithful four-legged companion. The pink shed isn’t quite the same without you.

During the time that my brother was sick and following his death, I often felt very alone in my grief. It’s not easy or natural to speak of death and dying in our culture, but I believe very strongly that we should. What better way to start a conversation than by bringing the departed back into your living room?

I’ll end this now as it’s time to toast my loved ones.

Cheers,

Michele

 

 

The Comfort of October

IMG_5415.jpg

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

—L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

Dear Reader:

There’s something so comfortable about October. It’s a month to simply enjoy. It doesn’t ask much of us, unlike November and December that bring with them expectations and responsibilities.

This month I’ve enjoyed:

  • artichokes in balsamic with sun-dried tomato aioli (bubbles on the side)
  • a visit to a pumpkin patch with three lovely Cal Poly students
  • hot chocolate with whipped cream on top
  • cozy sweaters, warm socks and dachshunds in my lap
  • pumpkin bread, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin everything

I  ask only a couple of things of myself every October:

  1. I begin my holiday shopping! It gives me such pleasure to find the perfect gift for everyone on my list. (My daughter’s birthday is December 20th, so I get to buy twice as much for her!)
  2. I fill up bags of food and warm clothing to donate at my local food bank and homeless shelter. It is somehow even more rewarding to help others as the holidays approach.

And every year I find myself, quite unconsciously at first, reflecting on the year that is drawing to a close and the year ahead of me. The chill in the air and my plans for the future exhilarate me in a way that the month of January does not. I love October!

Hope you’ve had a wonderful month, too.

Michele                   

 

 

 

The Bouquet on my Desk

IMG_5383.jpg

Dear Reader:

I wore my first sweater of the season last week; it was a chilly 68 degrees. It’s fall in California, but I have a summer bouquet to enjoy every day.! It was created by my blogging friend, Tamara Jare at My Botanical Garden. It was spring when I selected the lovely watercolor and I was anticipating summertime as I always do. I framed the small piece and it sits on my desk in the pink shed. I can almost smell the peonies, roses, grasses and spirea in full bloom.

As Tamara said, “It’s a special arrangement in the same way that each summer is special.” It’s particularly meaningful to me because it’s a reminder of one of the first friends that I made after creating my blog. I have a friend in Slovenia! I never thought I’d be able to say that!

Tamara found my site just two days after I established it and became one of my first followers. I was glad, not only to have her as a reader, but also to discover the beauty on her site. We developed a connection over the past months and have continued to communicate through e-mail.It was fun to discover how much Tamara and I have in common. We are about the same age and happily married with grown children. After she read my post  about aging, she shared that Oil of Olay (tanti anni fa) was the secret to her youthful good looks, too! We agreed that they must have a good advertising company!

We are both creative women who feel happy and complete in our lives. Tamara began her blog when her mother was terminally ill and the artistic expression helped her through that very difficult time. I started my blog when my one -and -only left me to go to college. If one could bottle creative expression, it would be truthful to state that it is a potent remedy in times of loss or change.

I’m sure that I will sound my age when I say that I am amazed to find women who are so seemingly like me in all parts of the world. I’m an “old dog” who learned a “new trick” and I’m grateful to be part of a blogging community with no boundaries.

I am hopeful that someday I’ll meet my friend in Slovenia, but, until then, her art keeps me company while I pursue my creative side.

Thanks Tamara!

Love,

Michele

A Band-Aid for My Bleeding Heart

Dear Reader:

Never say never! How many times have we all heard that expression? At the ripe age of 57, I’ve learned just how true those words are. During the past week, my bleeding liberal heart has been assuaged by …Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker and John McCain. Surprising? Yes! But simply shocking:  I was also comforted by the thoughtful words of President George W. Bush!

I strongly disagree with the politics of all four of these men. But, they voiced what I have wanted to scream from the rooftop since POTUS entered the political arena. This is not normal! This is dangerous! This is sad! This is demoralizing! And, this is embarrassing!

Way back in the 1990’s, Mark Singer of The New Yorker wrote an in-depth profile of a real estate mogul . He concluded that the man had achieved something remarkable:  “an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul.” Alas, that man now resides in the White House. I do not sleep well.

Another truism…my least favorite:  life is not fair. I’ve always had trouble with this truth. I can not wrap my mind around the fact that a man with no honor has been rewarded with the highest office in the land.

Pundits are quick to point out that President Bill Clinton did not behave in an admirable way, at all times, in the Oval Office. History has chronicled the exploits of President John F. Kennedy. Ken Burns just brought a recording into our homes of President Lyndon Johnson acknowledging that the war in Vietnam could not be won many years before he sent more troops in to fight and die. We are still suffering the aftermath of President George W. Bush’s unjustifiable and unnecessary “crusade.” Politics is an ugly business and history is as imperfect as the worst of us.

And yet, we learned of the sins of past presidents after their actions. Our current president did not even attempt to hide who he is. He clearly, loudly and proudly told us all that he is a bigot, a misogynist, an ignoramus and an egotist. Then we elected him.

I like to imagine I have a crystal ball and I can see the future. It allows me to write history. In my book, the couragous women and men save us from the lies and hate and insanity. I’ll just keep telling you, dear readers, as a way of telling myself:  Truth will be told. Democracy will survive.

Michele

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lazy Post

412MWFS93SL._SY473_BO1,204,203,200_
I’ve had this book for years; apparently I no longer need it!

Dear Reader:

I am feeling very lazy. I can’t seem to make myself write or clean or anything. (Oh, that rhymed!) I went to the grocery store yesterday; today I’ve cleaned up after the puppy. That’s it. I’ve felt this way all week. It’s been ten days since I posted anything despite the fact that I have a half dozen drafts that I could finish.

I’m not depressed; I know how that feels. I’m not ill. I’ve got nothing to complain about.

It’s times like this that I remember a line from a very helpful counselor I saw twenty years ago. “Make friends with the feeling,” she’d say over and over again. I’d say this psychologist earned her money, as I pull that advice out of my pocket often. Here’s the reasoning: feelings can not be wished away. Feelings exist regardless of our desires to manipulate them.

Sometimes, there’s a clear reason we feel the way we do. If we’ve suffered a loss of any kind, we feel sad, alone and lost. How should we feel? Exactly as we do. But, there are times when it may be hard to determine why we feel what we do. It is these times when we must be patient with ourselves.

Perhaps, I just need a rest. Or maybe, my seasonal allergies are tiring me. It could be that the news has overwhelmed me (fires and floods and Weinstein and the POTUS). Then there’s the coastal fog that’s pushed out the sun most of the week. Whatever the reason, I have no ambition this week and I am going to make friends with the feeling.

How are you feeling, dear reader,

Michele

P.S. I’ll be back next week…I think!