Monday, December 28, 2009

In the Air . . .

I have that Phil Collins song in my head tonight for some reason . . .

There seems to be so much going on at this time of year for so many people, and I've had so much on my mind as 2009 draws to its inevitable close.

What is coming in 2010? I believe great things are coming - at least in my own life :-) I also believe that we are responsible for our own realities and for creating joy and purpose in our lives every day. So, as I think about the days to come in the new year, I think about all the wonderful things that I will be manifesting in my life. Because I'm big believer in what our minds can conceive we can bring to bear in our lives. It's about releasing all those excuses that I talked about last month here.

Still - you can visualize and dream (and you should!) - but life calls for action in the present. The here and now is all we have, for tomorrow is promised to no one . . . that's not to say that we shouldn't be dreaming and manifesting for the future, but the future is now. Act as if. Act as if it's all here, now. That's how it gets here. :-)

So take back your power, my friends. Take back your power, and Dance Like No One Is Watching. Find what it is that makes your own heart sing, and nurture it in your life. And may 2010 be filled with all the joy and love that you need.

:-)

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's Not What You Think . . .

Did you see me in the back of a police squad this morning? Probably not, but that's where I was - and no, I didn't get arrested. :-D

I take an electric train into the city every day. When it's icy, there's often trouble on the lines. Usually just slow trains.

Today, however, was worse than usual. There was a real ice storm here last night. We have at least one a year it seems. But I got ready to go this morning, and put my cleats on the bottom of my hiking boots. I managed to NOT clear my driveway when it was still just snow and would have been easy . . . so now it's a big fat mess, but that's another story.

I walked down to the train and got on the first one that came. Which, after the doors had closed and we were past the platform, announced that the train had no power and we would be moving very slowly, making EVERY stop, all the way into the city.

Great.

I left the house without a book and without my knitting . . . not usual for me, but I changed bags twice this week and stuff just didn't get back together.

So. I'm on the train.

And it stops, about 2/3rds of the way to the next stop.

It stops - and we sit.

We sit and watch four other trains pass us on the other track, headed downtown. The conductor tell us that six other cars are coming from the yard to push us all the way downtown . . .

We don't move for over an hour.

I see a lot of men with hard hats on.

The conductor tells us that all the trains that were traveling on the other track are dead in the water further up the line. So there goes that idea (to get out if we ever get to the next stop and get whatever train comes next on Track 2).

We make it to the next station, but in the mean time, I have run in to the mayor of my town, who asks me what I'm going to do. I could walk over to my cousin's house, or I was thinking of waiting for another train and trying again, because I'm out of leave for the year, but since they are jammed up further up the line, there's probably no point. And he said that the chief of police was waiting downstairs and they would take me home.

I debated but I'm not stupid. It's a day without pay for me. I was bundled into the back of a police squad, and I'm home now, contemplating clearing the driveway, although, once again, they are saying it should melt . . . Hmmmm.

I'm hearing trains behind the house - so I don't really know what's going on, but I'm home, taking a day without pay.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Grown-Up Christmas List . . .

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

It was written by David Foster and Linda Thompson. A million artists have covered this song - probably most famously Amy Grant (she even wrote and added a verse). Michael Buble's cover is my favorite (but there's no YouTube for his).

Pretty timeless, if you ask me . . .

I'm having a hard time believing that Christmas is next week. The time has gotten away from me again . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

My Trip Photos

In the post just below this one, you'll find a Shutterfly link to the photobook I just created from my recent trip. You do not have to be a member of Shutterfly to view the book - and I recommend that you go with the "view larger" choice.

This is the first time I'm trying this way to share the photo book - I hope it works!

A :-)

My UK 2009 Photos

Click here to view this photo book larger

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Brrrrrr!

I was only kidding before when I said it was cold.

NOW it's cold. The wind chill this morning in Chicagoland was gusting to 20 below. Yikes!

Autumn lingered for so long that I never changed the screens out on the security door. So, it warmed up a couple of degrees tonight, so I hurried up and did that before more snow could blow through the screen onto the mail and against the wooden door.

Because it rained like mad before the temperature dropped like a bomb, my garage door stuck closed. I managed to get it open, and put salt down under it. Once I got the salt bucket open, that is. That entailed a pair of needle nose pliers and considerable effort.

But it's all done now - and the best news is that my car started right up. I've been thinking I need a new battery - and since I rarely drive during the week, the car can go for days without being started. Not a good plan in this extreme weather. Even though it's in the garage, the garage is not heated, so it pays for me to go out and start it up every other day at least.

Winter is here, for real.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Belfast . . .

I've had a lot of nice comments on my new photo. Thank you :-)

It's cold here in Chicagoland. Yesterday the temps were about 23 - 26 degrees Fahrenheit, with a wind chill in the teens. No snow that sticks yet, at least not where I live, but I'm sure it's not too far behind. My roof had a dusting yesterday morning as I left for work.

I've been back about a month from my trip and am still sorting out the photos, but I have not stopped thinking about Belfast.

I'm a first-generation American. Not so common anymore. My mother was born in Belfast on a street called Damascus in a neighborhood known as The Holy Lands. My grandfather was Roman Catholic and my grandmother was Presbyterian. They lived in a time that most of us cannot even imagine - in a civil war that split their country. They left shortly thereafter, in 1922.
My mom came to the United States as a baby - my grandfather came through Ellis Island and wrote back to my grandmother and said, "don't come this way." So my grandmother and her sister came on a ship with a 2-year-old (my late uncle), and a babe in arms (my late mom). They came up the St. Lawrence Seaway and their port of entry to the United States was Detroit, Michigan. Everyone else in the family went to Canada except my grandparents.

According to my mom, my grandfather always wanted to go back, but my grandmother never did. And so they stayed, and built a life here. My grandfather worked for the railroad. He died before I was born, but I understand he had a marvelous singing voice and I can tell from the photos that he was very handsome. Of all my cousins, I'm the one who has the most and best memories of my grandmother because after my father died, my mom moved back home, where we lived with Grandma until she died when I was nine years old.

My other cousins who are around my age mostly remember her as mean, which always surprises me. She wasn't mean at all. I've come to the conclusion that they were all naughty when they were little ;-) and she was in her 70's and probably couldn't chase after them. My oldest cousin's (that would be my crazy cousin, D) most vivid memory of Grandma was of her saying to him, "You! Sit in that chair and don't move!"

But I spent many happy hours in her company. Here we are at a Chicago park (yes, that's me!), probably in South Shore, where we lived before my dad died. Going to the park (any park) to play was always a favorite pastime for me and my cousins for our entire childhoods. Grandma looks old to me in this photo, and I think she was just in her early 70's, but her hands look just like my mother's hands (I got my dad's hands), which is very comforting, even now. I had tea with Grandma every afternoon. Well, I had just enough of it in my milk to make me think I was having tea, I guess :-) To this day, whenever I put the kettle on, I think of her.

I'm a knitter because of her - she taught me. So two of the things I enjoy the most, music and handwork, came from my Irish grandparents. I say that because although my mom had a lovely singing voice, she liked to say that the handwork skipped a generation. She knew how to knit, but she never enjoyed it as much as I do.

So - this trip of mine - I had always wanted to go to see where my mother was born, and I finally had the chance, so I took it - and I wish I could have stayed longer. This is the house on Damascus Street. That's my Great Grandmother standing there. I would guess that this is in the early 1900's - maybe 1910?

And here it is today. Except for the hedge instead of the metal fence, it looks exactly the same. It has likely been converted to student housing - many of these row houses have been converted, and from the limited conversations I had with locals, not everyone is happy about that. I looked for buildings that I could tell were standing when my grandparents lived there - places they might have walked, sites they might have seen. That their home is still there, not bombed, not torn down is really amazing to me. I imagined them there - I touched the stones at the door, knowing that my grandparents and Aunt Lily had touched them, and I walked down the street to the River Lagan, knowing they must have done that so many times.

I rang the bell at the house, but no one answered. The Holy Lands neighborhood is now mostly student housing for Queen's University, and on the blustery wet day that I was there, no one was stirring on the street.

I had two days in Belfast, and I could have stayed the whole week there, I think. I walked everywhere, I took a double-decker bus tour, I rode The Wheel at City Hall, I saw City Hall, and yet, I know that I only scratched the surface of this fascinating city. Perhaps it's only fascinating to me because of the history that ties me to it - but I don't think so. Belfast seemed to me to be a city of contrasts in pretty much every area.

Clearly affected by the current economic conditions, and yet very, very vital in so many ways. I wished for more time to just talk to people, to experience more of the culture of the city, and just get to know it. Still many signs of a country at war with itself - peace walls, and gates that still close at night in some areas, unionist and loyalist murals, and yet that was only in one or two areas of the city.

I was walking around on a Monday - and I saw mostly young people and older people - very few middle-aged people. I'm assuming they were all at work :-) There is more here for me - and I will be back. I don't know when, but I know it will be.

Once I left the city and headed up the Antrim coast, the scenery was very different . . . but I'll save that for another post :-)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

!!!

It's flurrying out! The first snow of the season!