Category Archives: Customs

Halloween


My audiobook recording published by LibriVox.org

Hallowe’en
by Virna Shear (Canadian poet)

There is an old Italian legend which says that on the eve of the beloved festival of All Saints (Hallowe’en) the souls of the dead return to earth for a little while and go by on the wind. The feast of All Saints is followed by the feast of the dead, when for a day only the sound of the Miserere is heard throughout the cities of Italy.

Hark! Hark to the wind! ‘Tis the night, they say,
When all souls come back from the far away—
The dead, forgotten this many a day!

And the dead remembered—ay! long and well—
And the little children whose spirits dwell
In God’s green garden of asphodel.

Have you reached the country of all content, 0 souls we know, since the day you went From this time-worn world, where your years were spent?

Would you come back to the sun and the rain,
The sweetness, the strife, the thing we call pain,
And then unravel life’s tangle again?

I lean to the dark—Hush!—was it a sigh?
Or the painted vine-leaves that rustled by?
Or only a night-bird’s echoing cry?

This poem and its cover image are in the Public Domain.

Infinity Dreams Award

Wendy notified me of a blog post that was so inspiring, I couldn’t resist the urge to update you on what I’ve been up to. Thank you Wendy!

Rules for the Infinity Dreams Award:

Please note: nominees are not obligated to accept this award. You may simply accept the nomination with a note of appreciation. However, if you want to accept the award, please follow the rules.

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and make sure you link back.
  • Post the award badge and rules.
  • Tell 11 facts about yourself.
  • Answer the questions that were set for you to answer.
  • Nominate 11 other bloggers and set questions for them.

The Requisite 11 Facts About Myself

  1. Like Wendy, I love to dance. When I was little, my favorite stage was the silver screen of the portable black-and-white TV reflecting my moves. My body always moves when I hear music, and in my head I see exciting choreography.
  2. Like Wendy, when I was a kid, my shower was my favorite stage for singing. I held variety shows with (myself as) many guests. Then, I hosted fashion shows in my medicine cabinet mirror, using my big bath towel. I went on to sing, act, and dance in school and community theater performances.
  3. My dinnertime routine is to watch a movie with my husband. The only live TV show that we watch is the presidential debates. Our library includes old horror flicks, BBC historical dramas, documentaries, West Wing, Newsroom, Neil Simon, Gilbert & Sullivan, opera, concerts, ballet… No blood or crime. We are always looking for more good ones, especially that are inspiring. Please share titles of your favorites in the Comments box at the end of this post.
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  4. My resume could be as long as the title of this award implies: infinite dreams. It includes (roughly in chronological order) managing weaving studios, sales in a variety of businesses, costume design, resort management, waitressing, beekeeping, assisting rehabilitation therapists, career counseling, high-level customer service for a huge international corporation, website and database development, income tax preparation, licensed financial advising, and laboring at an organic farm. I enjoyed every job, and only moved on when I couldn’t see any way to stay.
  5. A year or so ago, we took shirts to a tailor for altering. Even after I returned them three times, they were still poorly stitched. I had stopped sewing before CDs, PCs, cell phones, and camcorders existed. My husband took me to look at sewing machines, and I fell in love with one. During this past year, I have been getting up to date on new sewing technology, e.g., my new electronic machine, rotary cutters, .pdf patterns, and a custom-padded dress form. I am delighted by the generous sewists sharing online. I am anticipating discovering serging and software. Now you know where I’ve been since you last saw me here.
  6. I think that I have resolved my lifelong love/hate relationship with art. I always saw it as taking away resources from feeding the world. This summer, I realized that art has a huge impact on people’s environments, which affects health and productivity. I’m wondering what your relationship is with art.
  7. I used to feel equally at home in New York City as I was in the wilderness of National Parks, but now that I’ve been living in a rural area for over 15 years, this is home. Its woods brings back fond memories of my first camping experiences as a Girl Scout.
  8. My latest greatest discovery is Andrew Johnson’s mp3s, Android apps, and videos. I also found his work on Spotify, Amazon, and iTunes. I hope that you will share in the Comments (below) any meditation practices that you recommend.
  9. Because I’m so focused when working on a project, I don’t hear when someone is talking to me.
  10. My husband says that one of the first things that he discovered about me was that everything that I do is deliberate.
  11. (I deliberately avoided this item.)

My Responses to Wendy’s Questions:

  1. Do you love your career or work?
    Yes. See Fact #4.
  2. Name your favourite author or book?
    My favorite one is usually the one that I’m reading, and I’m always reading several. I most recently began reading Sandra Betzina’s Fabric Savvy.
  3. What’s your guilty pleasure?
    Binging on snack food when I’m tired. Usually, I eat healthier than almost anyone whom you have heard of.
  4. Who inspires you and why?
    Wendy inspired me to return to WordPress to accept this award.
  5. Favourite food?
    Freshly-picked organic vegetables from our garden.
    Fresh-picked from our organic gardens
  6. Relate your good or disastrous travel experience.
    When I took my first college English class, I tried to tell my disastrous story about the first time that I went to Girl Scout camp. I got a bad grade because it was “anticlimactic”. I’d love to figure out a way to tell the tale in a more engaging way.
    One of my best travel experiences was being the youngest kid in a YMCA tour bus full of young teenagers going across the country, staying at college dorms and campgrounds.
  7. Sunset or sunrise?
    Sunrise. I don’t like staying up late enough to enjoy a sunset.
  8. Your favourite pastime.
    Right now, sewing, but I hope that writing will regain its place in my life.
  9. Who would you like to accompany you on any adventure?
    My husband. He is the best friend I have ever had.
  10. Something you did that your parents don’t know about.
    Lots. I can tell you now that I wished that I had accepted my father’s offer to use his influence to put me in a position at Lincoln Center’s theater, but if I did that then I probably wouldn’t be where I am in life, and I love where I am.
  11. If you were the President/Prime Minister/King or Queen what particular policy would you change in your country?
    I am loving what I’m hearing Bernie Sanders saying (during the U.S. Presidential debates) about everyone receiving health care, education, fair wages, fair trials with appropriate consequences, citizenship… the American Dream.

My Nominations for the Infinity Dreams Award

Wendy’s nomination brought me out of the woodwork. Therefor, for this award I selected some of my favorite bloggers who haven’t been posting lately. (listed in the reverse order of their disappearance)

Let’s see if we can bring these bloggers back with our visits, Likes, Shares, and Comments.

The Zombies Ate My Brains Maggie last posted on September 27, 2015. I miss the adventurous stories of this darling person.

Spirit In Action Ohnwentsya last posted on August 11, 2015. I miss the weekly digest of important stories from across the web.

The Truth Shall Set You Free Sydney last posted on June 23, 2015. I miss the insights into Social Justice in post-Apartheid South Africa.

Passing and Failing in Paradise Last post: June 3, 2015. I miss the insight into gender issues.

Unload and Unwind Jennifer last posted on May 10, 2015. I miss the stories, and perspective on social justice in Australia.

TG or Not TG? That Is The Question Rachael last posted on April 6, 2015. I miss the perspective on gender issues.

Yesterday Unhinged Aaron last posted on March 22, 2014. I miss the perspective on history.

Graphomania William last posted on February 11, 2015. I miss the poetic perspective on issues that we all face.

‘Ritings, Ramblings… Ronda last posted on November 12, 2014. I miss her serial novel titled, “Amigarumi”.

Three Dancing Flowers Last post: July 22, 2014. I miss reading about the experiences with Bipolar Disorder.

Greyling Falah last posted on May 16, 2014. I miss the inspiration.

JMGajda I think that I last heard from Jessica over a year ago. I miss the friendship, and stories of dystopia and social justice.

My Questions for My Nominees

What is one goal that you want to work on in 2016? What is your plan for accomplishing it? Why is it so important? How can we readers help?

I hope that you, readers, will also consider answering this question in the Comments section.

Wrap-up

My most recent post to my blog was half a year ago, when I shared my latest excerpt from my River Novel. My characters continue with their lives, and I look forward to continuing to share them with you.

In the meantime, people still stop by my blog almost every day, and I continue getting new (legitimate) followers!

Thank you to all of you who helped me get my blog up and rolling, and who have been keeping it alive with visits, likes, comments, and shares. Remember to share that attention with my nominees.

Weighing In on New Years Resolutions

Now that the new year is under way, you might be putting your resolutions to the test. This weekend, I noticed that a nearby grocery store had expanded its produce department, even though we are having seasonal temperatures around 0o F, and none of these foods could grow nearby now. I imagine that they are feeding people’s new habits.

Expanded produce department

But how long do new habits take to form?

I grew up during the era when everyone “knew” that it took 21 days to establish a new habit. Imagine my surprise during dinner last night when my daughter told us that she is on the 17 Day Diet, and my son protested that new habits take 30 days to form. So, I did what I love to do: I looked for reasons behind our various expectations.

I found that I grew up after a doctor published that his patients took 21 days to begin to adjust to their cosmetic surgery. Paperback best sellers retold his story by stating that it takes 21 days to change a habit.

A few years ago, the European Journal of Social Psychology published an article that states that it takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. Media is reporting that the researchers found that habits take 66 days to establish, so a new myth is born.

You might want to join Matt Cutts as he challenges you to try something for 30 days instead.

If you’re looking for support while you’re turning over your new leaf, or know someone who is taking on an awesome challenge, let us know in the Comments section so we can cheer along and be inspired.

The Longest Night

Thank you Liza for reassuring us that we can bring back and expand the light.

photo: Candle in the dark, by Andy Hay

Like Liza, I have been sifting through memories of my Christmas Pasts, to find ones that nourish new possibilities. I am so content with what I have, my seasonal joy is now from gifting things to people who are in dark times, to surprise and delight them.

When I studied Psychology, I learned that people collapse under crises just after the worst is over. Forget the common idiom, “the darkest hour is just before dawn”; the darkest hour is the one just after dawn. People tend to give up just as things start to get better. That is one reason to appreciate that Christmas and New Years are after the Solstice; after the darkest, longest night. That means that the most important time for action is now.

What is making your days merry and bright? How are you brightening the dark times of others?


(This might be especially true for people close to the North Pole. I have not found a comparable tradition for Southerners; short days are less drastic for them.)

Deeper Roots

Tonight is the longest night. At 5:03 the shortest day of the year ended and the winter solstice, the longest night began.

My family lit candles – six candles on the menorah for the six (thus far) nights of Hannukah and four candles on the Advent Wreath for Peace, Hope, Joy, Love. We won’t light the Christ candle until Christmas Day. My family gathered in the flickering flame. The light looked so fragile, the shadow and the darkness beyond so vast and enclosing.

It feels like it is the longest night in our nation as well.   The President of the New York Police Department Union said “There’s blood on many hands tonight….That blood on the hands starts on the steps of city hall in the office of the mayor.” In fact there is blood on many hands. There has been for many generations. Since the first Native was murdered, since…

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