back to ebenezer…again…

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Ebenezer December 2019

I received an e-mail today from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

Preservation is about community.

Now is a time for us to come together as we have so many times before, but with a new sense of urgency and inclusion, and in ways that will last beyond the coronavirus crisis. As important visual and cultural clues, the places we preserve hold promise for the future we seek to reclaim, and each site stands as an historical indicator of our complex present. We need old buildings as much as old buildings need us. They prompt us to remember who we are.

The COVID-19 virus has devastated many across the country, but due to disinvestment and systemic policies, African Americans and communities of color have been disproportionately affected. Our nation is again reminded that this disparity mirrors and reflects historical and racial inequities. We are being reminded to face the truth about our past.

As a movement, preservation has also mirrored traditional social values. Yet, if we lean into hope and take time to self-reflect, we can be the change we seek. We can draw lessons from the past to create a prosperous future, while also reflecting on the promise of preservation as an equity-driven movement. In our individual moments of stillness, we should ask ourselves: Can we confront the economic challenges of COVID-19 and ignite a contemporary preservation movement as a force for positive social change? How can we weave a tapestry of places and stories to tell our full, shared history? Can we challenge ourselves to realize equity-driven outcomes that benefit all Americans? Because when we collaborate, we have the capacity to create a national identity that reflects the country’s true diversity.

In the spirit of envisioning a more prosperous and inclusive future, I invite you to join me for a special Virtual Preservation Month event with Ms. Phylicia Rashad, co-chair of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund on Friday, May 22, at 1:30 p.m. ET. (Register in advance for the webinar.) In our conversation, we will discuss the power of preservation, the work of the Action Fund, and the historic African American places that inspire all Americans to build a better world.

Our forebearers responded to earlier preservation threats and injustices with dogged leadership, tenacious thinking, and community organizing. From the foundational work of Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association, to the groundbreaking activism of Mary B. Talbert and the National Association of Colored Women, our ancestors ignited our movement by honoring the cultural memories of George Washington and Frederick Douglass. Just like these trailblazing women, we have the fortitude to walk in their footsteps and prove that by cooperative agreement we can measure up. As social critic and author James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

The African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund will continue to examine and eliminate inequities through new forms of partnership, interpretation, and funding. Our leadership is about pursuing an idea, something yet to be seen, and a culture of learning to increase our relevancy and impact. We promote preservation as economic and social justice. We partner with humility in service of African Americans whose overlooked stories and contributions provide strength and examples of overcoming impossible-seeming odds. We draw inspiration and resilience from African American historic places.

Historic sites that bring forward a diverse and inclusive national narrative are playing a crucial role in redefining our collective history and, meaningfully, expanding the preservation movement in equitable ways. These cultural assets help us all walk toward a new era of justice. May our nation face its past to create a more just American culture with preservationists on the front lines protecting and preserving our diverse historic places and communities.

Be well and thrive.

 


Brent Leggs
Executive Director
African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund

  

I immediately thought of Ebenezer sitting all forgotten and forlorn on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, and it annoyed me. So I sent the guy who wrote this email a note:

You know what irritates me about this email? It is that I have been trying to contact people in preservation for years about the ruins of one of the oldest AME cemeteries in the country, in the history of the country, is in the township in which I live.  Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Rd in East Whiteland Chester County PA.

Every time I contact anyone that has to do with African-American history or the AME church I get crickets. 1832 is the deed date.  The land was donated by a quaker named Malin. It used to sit amongst one of the oldest free black communities in Chester County. Development and everything else is making it all disappear and there are Civil War soldiers black Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery. You can Google it. My blog will come up with all the coverage that I have done and things I have tried to do to save it over the years.

Richard Allen was not dead yet when this church was planned But not built. He died in 1831. From my research I think originally it was planned so there would be a burial ground for mother Bethel outside the city. And it’s either the AME Church or mother Bethel which holds the deed to this and like many other historic AME church is it rots.

So add this to your list of endangered places.

Read the Inquirer article from a few years ago

Visit the Facebook page devoted to the history and preservation of this site

Much to my surprise, he wrote back.

On Wed, May 20, 2020 at 10:06 AM Brent Leggs <BLeggs@savingplaces.org> wrote:

Good morning,

Thank you for emailing. It’s regrettable that you are irritated by my message of hope. I also regret that you’ve had difficulty securing support for the preservation of this historic AME cemetery. I have copied my colleague Lawana Holland-Moore who you should speak with about this site.

Best wishes to you,

Brent

BRENT LEGGS | EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURAL HERITAGE ACTION FUND
P 202.588.6185 

NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION
The Watergate Office Building

2600 Virginia Avenue NW  Suite 1100  Washington, DC 20037

SavingPlaces.org

So this IS hopeful. I sent one last email back:

I get irritated because you know as well as I do, that in preservation, especially in places like PA where it doesn’t seem to matter much, hope can be quite selective.  I fell in love with this cemetery when I discovered the Civil War Soldiers and freed slave(s) who built some houses that STILL stand on nearby 401 (Conestoga Rd). I also have spent years being told my skin was the wrong color to care about this place which is enough to make me cry. Every time we have gotten people to clear out the weeds, the place is happy. I can’t explain it.  You feel welcomed there. I also had a structural engineer look at the ruin a few years ago.  It could be cleaned out (by hand) and capped but the AME church has never seen fit to do much of anything.  I have done some informal tracking and this is the case with a great deal of their sites.  The walls are bowing on the ruin so time is of the essence.  There is also development going up around it so I fear for it.

So dear readers, we are home with more time than we want still on our hands. Can YOU send these folks an email asking them to save the ruins and cemetery of Ebenezer on Bacton Hill Road in Frazer, Chester County, PA? After all #ThisPlaceMatters

LHolland-Moore@savingplaces.org (Lawana Holland-Moore)

BLeggs@savingplaces.org (Brent Leggs)

Thanks and have a great day!

ready for life again

The great masks my friend Ginny Kerslake made for me and my family.

We have been at this since March. I admit it, it’s getting old. Our birthday is in a couple of days and never in a million years did I think my husband and I would be celebrating a stay at home birthday. It’s not like we are party animals, but we always do something like have dinner at Fiorello’s Cafe in West Chester. I miss going to Fiorello’s.

We don’t go out tons and I am a homebody, but I am starting to miss the world around me. I talk to and FaceTime my friends but I miss seeing them. It’s spring and I miss treasure hunting with one friend. I miss having “Fran Days” with another. And I miss the Brunch Bunch. It feels like forever since we were all together.

I miss my parents . I haven’t seen them since before Christmas because everyone was sick and my knee surgery was the day after Christmas, so we all weren’t together. Which was weird.

So here we are in COVID19 land now until June 4th. I think we are extended in part because of all of the people not doing their part. There are so many people bitching. It’s enough to make you want to scream.

Do these people think we all collectively love what is going on? Hell no. But we’re a long time dead.

I will admit I am anxious. About money, security, paying my goddamn overpriced health insurance. I have had nightmares a couple of times a week for two months almost at this point. It happens every damn time I watch the news. The news is overwhelming over-saturation and it’s rather repetitive and gloomy. I stopped looking at Chester County’s statistics website. I no longer want to know how many are sick and how many have died.

June 1st is my 9 year anniversary of my breast cancer surgery and I am terrified of getting my mammogram. Not because of the mammogram, I am afraid to be around sick people. I am afraid to get sick. It’s ridiculous. I am feeling ridiculous.

I keep thinking about two of my neighbors’ kids. Seniors in high school. They should be going to prom and celebrating all their hard work. Instead they are just soldiering on being really great kids.

Dreams. Is anyone else having really screwy dreams since this whole Coronavirus started? I have had dreams about the places I have lived since I was a really little kid. It’s bizarre, strange, and comforting. It is also fascinating what your subconscious remembers after decades that you think you’ve long forgotten.

Assholeism. There seems to be a lot of that going around. There are a lot of people out there that should be ashamed of the way they are behaving. I’m not saying my behavior has been perfect. But this global pandemic has in a sense brought out the worst in a lot of people. And it’s like because we’re in the situation they have the perfect excuse to be their worst possible selves. I’m not buying it.

Also to be commented on is the political B.S. I am watching friends who take public service seriously getting the business put to them way too much.

It’s the political status quo. The do nothings are miserable and threatened and we can’t tolerate that crap as voters any longer. They all look so fab posing for photos on Facebook but they are still duplicitous jerks who are utterly self focused.

School districts. Like everyone else they are freaking out. But are we really going to have to watch them like hawks to make sure they don’t raise the hell out of our taxes? We are living in uncharted and unprecedented times in this global pandemic known as COVID-19 or Coronavirus.

People are out of work, they have reduced hours, reduced salaries. Now is not the time to raise taxes on the residents. Now is the time for school districts to tighten their proverbial belts and cut expenses. And don’t tell me it’s not possible, in every business and school district it is possible if you have to do it. They cannot ask all of the residents, many of whom are on very fixed and limited incomes, to pay more right now. Some are already choosing between things like food vs. medicine.

And oh my gosh if you dare say any of this out loud you are a very bad person who is anti-schools and anti-teachers which is crap. I reject that. It’s not fair.

People are stretched so thin. We all feel some days like a boomeranging rubber band with our literal nerves. How can we not? This is kind of crazy like a made for T.V. suspense movie masquerading as real life.

Today is one of those days I feel the weight of the crazy world we live in. My realistic mind knows the end is in sight, but I worry about what comes next. And we can’t predict the future and shouldn’t borrow trouble, but today is one of those days. The glass is not half empty per se, but I feel cranky and intolerant today.

This is when I need to count my blessings and take a deep breath. This too shall pass. And some day in the future, we will look back and talk about surviving a global pandemic.

We can do this. We can. But in the meantime I will keep on gardening and learning how to bake bread. I also might finish repairing two vintage quilts.

The thing about life is situations always teach us more about who we are as human beings. The good, and the bad. The imperfections which seem ridiculously magnified given what we are all living through right now. But love and caring? That grounds us, that anchors us. And the last part is faith. Faith in a higher power, God, each other that we will get through this.

Tomorrow is another day, Miss Scarlett. Tomorrow is another day.

Be well and stay well.

Thanks for stopping by.

sourdough day 2

So this morning I got my sourdough starter out of the refrigerator and mixed up my first batch of dough ever. I wrote about day 1 yesterday. So welcome to day 2.

I will remind everyone that this is not my recipe, the recipe and instructions come courtesy of Tracey Deschaine who owns Dixie Picnic a marvelous scratch kitchen in Malvern/Frazer. If you live locally I hope you will patronize her business and she has been one of the bright lights in this whole stay at home of it all during COVID-19 by gifting starter and selling flour to those who wish to try.

I will be honest and say it took me almost a month to get fresh flour. Everyone has been sold out of it and even King Arthur is on a backlog for catalog ordering. But because of the generosity of Tracey some of us have been able to buy it when needed.

I actually have made bread before. Even focaccia. I took a baking class with Patricia Polin the pastry chef at The Master’s Baker. But I didn’t venture into bread making solo until now. Bread is like a fun science experiment!

So I used the food scale just like Patricia and Tracey taught me and measured out:

10 oz. of sourdough starter

8 oz. warm water

1 lb. bread flour

1.5 oz. of canola oil. (Tracey calls for Crisco but never use it so I don’t have it)

1.5 ounces of oil ends up being 9 teaspoons.

So I followed Tracey‘s instructions and first I mixed the water and starter and then I added the rest. I mixed the dough until it came together and was smooth and pliable in the bowl. I then let it rest covered with a linen towel at room temperature for about 10 minutes.

Then Tracey‘s recipe asks for 0.5 oz (0.8 TBSP) of salt. That’s roughly 2.4 teaspoons. I mixed the salt into the dough and kneaded until the salt was all incorporated and the dough was once again smooth. You can feel the little granules of salt and when you stop feeling them it’s mixed.

I then took my dough and put it in a clean lightly oiled second mixing bowl and covered it with saran wrap. It will sit there and rise at room temperature for about eight hours until I take the next step.

I also decided to grow my starter again today so I could just bake next week again. The last picture in this post will show you that my bread is already starting to grow in size.

What I will do later is shape the dough and de-gas it, i.e. punch it down to remove large air bubbles. Then it will rest on a cookie sheet covered with the saran wrap I use to cover the ball this morning until tomorrow in the refrigerator. Then I bring it out to start the final process before baking.

So stay tuned and fingers crossed that I can do this right and make Tracey proud!

sex, lies, and lawn signs: don’t we have bigger fish to fry in chester county?

blah blah

 

Sigh. I knew Incumbent and Invisible State Rep. Kristine Howard (D-167) was feeling threatened, but I had no idea that she would stoop to such lows (or allow her campaign to.)  Especially as a female candidate and current elected official.  But she has.  She is coloring outside the lines, waaaay outside the lines to the point of wondering what she gets by doing this or allowing it to be done? And she is always when anything ever comes out, a pathetic apologist.  Case in point is this latest missive to the Democratic Committee and whomever wrote this needs a lesson in writing in general:

hatchet 2

hatchet 3

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hatchet 5

 

What is that smell? Ahh yes political puffery and bull twaddle.  Why? Because she and her campaign are TERRIFIED of my friend Ginny Kerslake who is running for her State Rep seat as a BETTER Democrat.  She’s too silly to realize that she should actually be terrified of my other friend who is running as the Republican candidate, Wendy Graham Leland. (But I digress.)

Everything that comes out targets Ginny Kerslake because well, that is ALL Kristine Howard has done.  Other than that she is invisible.  She started doing newsletters I think to prop up her sagging campaign.  And her campaign deserves to sag. But her campaign is behaving more and more like a Bravo Real Housewives franchise they are so pathetic. We might watch the Housewives shows for entertainment value, but we certainly wouldn’t elect them to public office, would we?

Her opportunistic boyfriend sidles up to husbands of former county commissioners and others who don’t even live in Chester County to slam and attempt to denigrate anyone who isn’t high stepping like a Rockette alongside them, Tom Wolf, or who is NOT pro-pipeline, correct? They have multiple fake social media news pages up and that’s how they are running this campaign: lies, innuendo, harassment, fake news. You know the political campaign equivalent of sex, lies, and videotape.

And at the heart of the matter are the pipelines, aren’t they? That is why Ginny Kerslake and Danielle Friel Otten are so feared. They aren’t them, they are us.  Being normal and hard working is the world’s oldest and biggest threat to political chicanery.

Rep. Kristine Howard allows these things to continue, turns a blind eye and is mute, so why would anyone want her in Harrisburg? Doesn’t she know right from wrong? Is allowing political crap like this to persist outside the bounds of being ethical? Or just being devoid of a strong moral compass?

Rep. Howard remains mute while others speak and write for her.  Just like with the last election when she was also invisible and mute to the point that even door knockers campaigning on her behalf knew nothing about her or what she even looked like.  And she used a couple of photos then that were like a decade or better out of date so when you did finally see a photo of her today most of us had no idea who it was.

Rep. Kristine Howard is also a Tom Wolf marionette.  Whatever Govie man says, she swoons. Swoons. How high can she jump for him? Very high.  Take last summer when her constituents adversely affected by pipelines quite literally begged her in tears to tour their neighborhoods with them. She ignored them but later showed up for a photo op with Governor Tom Wolf….and Rep Carolyn Comitta.

Back to her missive to Democrat committee members. Why is she targeting Ginny Kerslake and Ginny Kerslake alone over lawn signs? Other Chester County candidates have lawn signs out? Take Don Vymazal, for example. His signs are out.  Other signs are out. But no, all she targets is ONE person, Ginny Kerslake.

Rep. Kristine Howard also has her angry gal pals.  Like West Whiteland Supervisor Theresa Hogan Santalucia.  But they share a common dislike for Ginny Kerslake, don’t they?  When the good supervisor isn’t shilling for Howard she is the mouthpiece of her sister Rose Hogan Danese, who is running (or trying to run) against Rep Danielle Friel Otten.  Danielle is another target in general of these people.  And a friend of Ginny’s. (See the pattern?)

suck up emoji

So back to this whole #SignGate.  Ginny Kerslake is not breaking any laws and quite frankly contactless delivery is contactless delivery.  Rep. Kristine Howard should have better things to do.  But she and her campaign and her camp followers apparently do not have anything better to do.

It’s like the rumors they have been spreading about another friend of mine who was campaigning for Ginny before all the #COVIDmadness ensued.  Accusing her of having the virus and spreading it.  Have you heard of anything so hateful in the time of a global pandemic? And a little fact checking is in order because Ginny’s team hasn’t been canvassing since we were all told to stay the hell home.

And other things they made a mountain out of a molehill on was they claim Ginny Kerslake voted for Duane Milne in 2018. Ummm, who cares if it’s true?  I mean really? Aren’t we allowed to chose whom we wish to vote for regardless of political affiliation? And does that mean they know who every resident of Chester County has voted for? Are they in fact violating the supposed sanctity of the voting booth?

So every few days it is something else. But the signs thing is just so pathetic it was time to speak out about it.  I am sure they will attack me next.  And State Rep. Kristine Howard will stand mute when that happens, won’t she? After all where is her moral compass if she thinks this is the way to win a primary, right? Maybe she should stand on her record, but then that makes you wonder what has she actually done since taking office? The answer is photo ops with Wolf and other Wolfettes and not much else.

I ask you primary voters in the 167th to vote Rep. Kristine Howard OUT of office on June 2nd.  Any woman that stands by and allows her campaign soldiers to behave the way they have does not deserve votes.  She does not have her own voice. She is a political puppet, a marionette.  I find that equally sad and pathetic. I don’t think this is what State Rep. Kristine Howard set out to become, but it’s too late, she’s there and it’s done.

In general, the Chester County Democratic Party needs to get it together. They say power corrupts and I have to marvel at how it hasn’t taken that long for them to start acting stupid? And they criticize the Republicans? Come on now.

I close with a positive.  Please read former Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge‘s recent editorial.  It is very powerful.  CLICK HERE.

 

caspar whiner

 

 

 

news you can use: you CAN vote by mail and ballots are starting to flow through the mail

Like many others out there, I am choosing to vote by mail this coming primary election. The date for the primary election is now June 2nd.

When I found out in mid-March that we could do this, I registered online for my mail in ballot. I am someone, who as a cancer survivor and still active cancer patient, is considered immunocompromised.

After I registered online at https://www.pavoterservices.pa.gov/OnlineAbsenteeApplication, I first received a confirmation letter acknowledging my application. Then a couple weeks later I received an email that I mistakenly thought was from Chester County telling me my ballot was being mailed out. Only I never received anything. And because my mail sorts through Wilmington, Delaware before coming back to Chester County, I tried to contact Chester County Voter Services.

Because of the coronavirus world we live in I wasn’t successful at first in contacting the county. So I completed a second ballot application. I still received nothing. So I reached out to Chester County Voter Services again. This morning a lovely lady called me back.

Apparently the acknowledgment email we receive along with the additional email that tells us our ballots are being mailed out are generated on a state platform and not a county level. I mistakenly thought the notification of ballots being mailed out came from the county. Apparently I am also not alone in that misperception. This has created some confusion, as have a lot of things quite frankly being issued from the state level these days. (This is all uncharted territory in a global pandemic and health crisis, so for once in my life I’m actually trying not to be hypercritical.)

Chester County IS mailing their ballots now. BUT if you filed more than one application with the state (like I did) because you were afraid your ballot was lost it’s gumming up the works quite literally. Every time you do a new application it sounds like it kind of voids the other applications, so what is happening is it’s essentially a stop check in the system so people don’t get more than one ballot. Basically we’re slowing ourselves down if we’ve done this. And while I only filed a second application, there are a lot of voters who have filed multiple applications.

If you think your ballot is late but you have the email that proves that you successfully completed the application, DO NOT complete additional applications like I for one did. Contact voter services. They are essential workers so a lot of the time they actually are in the offices but the phones are restricted sometimes because I don’t think there are as many people in the officers to answer them. The phone number is 610-344-6410.

Below is a screenshot of what the online request for mail in ballot looks like. Please note if you want to vote by mail, your county office MUST have your application NO LATER THAN 5PM on May 26. Please make sure you complete and mail it ASAP when you receive it because it has to be received by Election Day which again is now June 2nd.

Thanks for stopping by.

what’s that about NOT suffering fools gladly?

Martin Marty on Suffering Fools Gladly – Persona

It is no surprise that people have always said of me that I do not suffer fools gladly.  I don’t.  I try to keep it to a dull roar but Coronavirus has created entire legions of #CovidIdiots.

Why do these people have to go out of their way to make things more difficult?

Yesterday in a local group, someone posted a PennLive article about the number of Coronavirus deaths and cases in Pennsylvania.   This odd woman whom I do not know posted crazyniess in return. “LIES” she kept posting.  Like it’s not really happening.  She was asked to not deliberately try to stir people up with that and behave in a NON-inflammatory manner.  By me as a group administrator.

Instead of dialing it back this woman decides to start messaging me (quoting directly):

I am sorry that you can’t believe that this entire situation is a political tool.
I am a 2 time cancer patient with only one lung and i had this virus. I am just fine.You may remove me from your group since it seems like it is mandatory for all to accept LIES. Shame on you.
God bless you and your family.

For real? Was I supposed to put up with this on a lovely Sunday afternoon while sitting in my garden?

Shame on me? Up hers. I am also a cancer survivor. Two cancers.

If she survived the virus then she is TRULY blessed, but it doesn’t make everybody else “liars”.

Bless her heart as I reject blessings from faux Christians like that.

As one would expect, she continued to message me.  According to her I am a “TRAITOR”.

Traitor of what? Is this Nazi Germany? Sorry not sorry I am watching this amazing series World on Fire on PBS, and last night’s episode featured a Nazi zealot. A woman ironically who seemed all busy accusing people and co-workers of imaginary transgressions.  It made you think of the zealots we are encountering today.

I love the blocking functions available.

Next up on the hit parade is someone I knew a little but not a lot in high school.  Their burning question on COVID-19 was:

Something to ponder: why hasn’t the COVID-19 ravaged the homeless? One would think that the tent cities would be rampant, given the close quarters….

Hmmm. So no, this isn’t someone who volunteers at local homeless shelters or volunteers for an advocacy group.  They went onto say they missed wherever they used to live but (paraphrasing) was uncomfortable in such a “permissive” area and oh yeah (direct quote)  “Legalizing recreational weed was a stupid move and it will never be retracted because the gov makes too much money out of it.

HUH??? What in the Sam Hell does legalizing pot have to do with Coronavirus?  The answer of course is nothing, but the born again pious have to get all the political witch doctoring in at once.  Would that they were so innocent way back when and that much I do remember. And I think that is what galls me the most, the utter hypocrisy of it all.

Also, how do they know virus is not rampant among the homeless? One of the larger problems as I see it is stuff is being under-reported everywhere and if a homeless person dies on the street they go to the morgue and a lot of morgues have a backlog. These are the people without doctors so you don’t know unless populations have been tested in certain areas. These are the invisible in the world, so are they counted first? Probably not.

This virus is a huge inconvenience to everyone but we’re all a long time dead. This virus is a real thing it’s not some giant conspiracy theory. I just don’t get people.  Especially people who are stay at home whatevers normally anyway.

And then there is an older lady I know peripherally locally.  She is a firm believer that the Coronavirus is a fake and everyone is out to restrict her civil liberties. She posted a photo of herself on a SEPTA train wearing a mask covering her EYES.  And some comment about how SEPTA “urges” people to wear masks.  Did I mention she is in an age demographic who is highly susceptible to Coronavirus?

Do I like wearing a mask on the random TWO times I have been out since this started? No. It’s hot and my glasses fog.  But we are supposed to do it right? What is the point of being a rebel with a #COVIDidiot cause these days? Wouldn’t everyone like to get on with life?

We are NOT experiencing communism, Marxism, or socialism.  We are experiencing a GLOBAL pandemic.  I mean GET A GRIP.

I am really losing patience with people who have this crazy myopic perspective.  It is of course their right to be #COVIDidiots but this is why the virus will flare up in areas and/or we will be longer getting back to normal.

So nope.  I definitely do not suffer fools gladly.  Especially now. And I say that as someone who is not perfect, but who is trying.

 

happy may day in coronavirus land

May Day 2017 St. Peter’s School Philadelphia, PA

It’s May Day. Some are scratching your heads. Beltane. Still scratching your head?

From the History Channel:

Beltane
The Celts of the British Isles believed May 1 to be the most important day of the year, when the festival of Beltane was held.
This May Day festival was thought to divide the year in half, between the light and the dark. Symbolic fire was one of the main rituals of the festival, helping to celebrate the return of life and fertility to the world.
When the Romans took over the British Isles, they brought with them their five-day celebration known as Floralia, devoted to the worship of the goddess of flowers, Flora. Taking place between April 20 and May 2, the rituals of this celebration were eventually combined with Beltane.
Maypole Dance
Another popular tradition of May Day involves the maypole. While the exact origins of the maypole remain unknown, the annual traditions surrounding it can be traced back to medieval times, and some are still celebrated today.
Villagers would enter the woods to find a maypole that was set up for the day in small towns (or sometimes permanently in larger cities). The day’s festivities involved merriment, as people would dance around the pole clad with colorful streamers and ribbons.

May is named for Maia, the ancient Roman Goddess who was the incarnation of the earth mother and goddess of spring.

Those of us who went to St. Peter’s School at 4th and Pine in the Society Hill section of Philadelphia will always remember May 1 fondly. Heck if you lived near the school on May 1st you will always have May Day memories. Which is why I was a little wistful this morning when I realized there would be no Maypole or dancing at St. Peter’s today.

May Day, early 1970’s St. Peter’s

May Day was so awesome. We donned our spring best and we did many traditional Celtic things including dancing around the Maypole. The multi-colored ribbons being woven in and out as we danced. (Here is a video from the School in Rose Valley so you can see.) There were also pipe dancers over clay pipes.

May Day was one of the best things about being a kid back then. Ribbons and balloons and music. All your friends and parents were there. It was so joyful. (St. Peter’s photos found here – not mine.)

So Happy May Day to my childhood friends! Happy May Day to all of you!

May Day Maypole Dance Early 1970s (circa 1974 maybe) St. Peter’s School Philadelphia PA

the gratitude jar…2020

A few years ago I started a gratitude jar. It’s about positive affirmations. It’s about being grateful.

It’s nothing complicated. You write down little things in your life you’re grateful for onto little pieces of paper and you put it in the jar. Some people empty out the jar on an annual basis and start fresh, others let the little slips of paper accumulate. I don’t add to it as often as I should, but I have let all my little slips of paper accumulate and once in a while I read them.

Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”
Lao Tzu

Feeling grateful as a powerful emotion. An hours a time where as hard as it is we also have to be grateful. Grateful that we are alive. Coronavirus and COVID-19 is separating so many people from their families. Coronavirus and COVID-19 are killing people in our communities every day.

Our new decade has started with a global pandemic and that has a lot of negatives to it. But if we’re doing our part and we’re staying home and we’re with our loved ones, that’s something to be grateful for. Even if we’re all separated and we’re all OK it’s still something to be grateful for.

Small things matter. Giving thanks matters. Do you keep a gratitude jar?

coronavirus breeds hate

I actually think angels are weeping over the behavior of humans. Some days in this land of coronavirus in which we live it is hard to be anything but repulsed by fellow human beings. People keep saying over and over that this virus brings out the best and worst in people. Over the weekend I saw the worst again.

NextDoor is a social media platform that a lot of people who are on it for some reason don’t think it’s actually a social media platform. The end result are things that you wouldn’t even see on Facebook at times. Sociologically and psychologically it’s fascinating even when it’s terribly sad.

A conversation thread went up over the weekend of someone looking for literally Chinese takeout food. A lot of the restaurants are closed, one in particular may have lost their lease but no one is sure, and because of the horrible nickname COVID-19/coronavirus has been given, I think a lot of these places are closed because they’re scared of peoples’ reactions to their nationality.

The thread was humming along with people posting restaurants open and closed here and there and then boom! All of a sudden up pops this one woman who says something to the effect of she couldn’t believe anyone would want to patronize Chinese restaurants. this person goes on to write other things that can only be described as both prejudiced and racist.

Then a separate post pops up. From a gentleman who ironically claims to have an Asian descended wife. And it’s basically why would anyone want to have Chinese food they caused the virus and my Asian wife agrees with me. I am paraphrasing, but that was the gist of their post.

I sort of sat there gob smacked looking at it because this is a person whom I know to be intelligent and can be quite thoughtful. But sometimes they go off the rails and I guess this is one of those occasions. But to take an entire nationality to task over a virus that may or may not have originated in a particular country is just repugnant. I say originated because I don’t think anyone has determined the ultimate point of origin for coronavirus/COVID-19. And I think starting and originating are two different things.

It’s also the whole sick argument of if people look different so they must be different, therefore they must be bad and I just can’t stand it. And I just am amazed at the hate that is fomenting in this country even more so than before the virus took over our lives.

I am descended from people who were discriminated against in this country because of their nationality. Irish, Italian, and German. And don’t forget the religion – I’m Catholic. That’s been a huge problem here and there in this country as well. And not just today because of the issue of pedophile priests.

I have a step sister-in-law who is Taiwanese by birth. I have another good friend who is Taiwanese by birth. I have an honorary Chinese mother who is also actually Taiwanese by birth. These three women are all important to me and I feel very lucky to have them in my life.

I have other friends who are Indonesian and others who are Korean and Vietnamese. I do not look at any of these people with descriptive tags attached. Their cultures are unique and beautiful and they share them openly and generously with all of us. Just like my friends of other cultures like Poland, Romania, the UK and Ireland, France, Germany, Spain, Latin America, and so on and so forth. My friends come in many different races and nationalities and isn’t that part of what being an American is about?

We are a country born of immigrants and founded of immigrants. Yet we seem to be devolving into a country of pig ignorant people. Racism and prejudice seems to be rampant right now. And why can’t we just take a breath and pause? Why do we have to be so hateful to one another? We are all affected by what is happening because of COVID-19/Coronavirus.

I also know people who have adopted children of different nationalities and even different skin colors than their own. These sentiments for lack of a better description terrify them. They worry how it will affect their children, if their children will be safe in this world in which we live. And can you really blame them?

We (again) are a nation born of immigrants. It’s our literal history. This country was formed because people wanted a better life and less persecution and religious freedoms.

Yet here we are.

Every time something goes wrong in this country instead of dealing with it you have some faction that goes off and place the blame game with races and religions.

My wish, heck my prayer for this country, is we stop and pause and use this time out of our control to better our country, to stop the hate.

Yes it’s a tall order. But we never seem to learn from our history how to deal with our mistakes. And among those that are the most grievous are racism and prejudice.

I’m far from perfect, you all are far from perfect. To be human is to be imperfect. But we just have to try to do better.

Please. We are stronger together than apart. And that is a big component of why things are so agitated right now. You have the whole economic fallout from coronavirus/COVID-19 and then there’s the emotional component. But we have to stay the course.

Pay it forward when you can. If you can’t just do your part and stay home. And try not to blame other races and nationalities for something that is beyond the world’s control at this point.

I wish you all peace this week.

coronovirus emotions are high…can we pause a moment?

Gardens in the Rain : abstract serene rainy garden painting ...

 

We are ALL struggling to varying degrees on some days because this is not an easy thing we are going through.

The world of Coronovirus / COVID19 sucks.  There is no other word for it. We all need to be able to hit the pause button, or should hit the pause button, but so many aren’t, are they? And so many can’t.  Their head is stuck on a loop of uncertainty.

I have not cried at all over this thing we’re all stuck in… until this morning.  CBS This Morning honored some of the dead. Yes, those who died from Coronovirus.  A young firefighter from Chicago.  And the one that really got me? A mom who was my age who died and her son with Down’s Syndrome a few days later.

Did I know any of these people? No, but I cried just the same.  This could be any of us right now.

This crapola is real, people.  And no, Lysol isn’t going to save us so for God’s sake ignore that suggestion from our President to inject disinfectants.  And no, it’s not fake news. Just the verbal meanderings of an utter narcissist.

I know people are delaminating, and rainy days don’t help.  But there are people with real troubles so I have a problem with the attention seekers.  These people are popping up on social media.  They are freaking out friends and acquaintances.

Suffice it to say, things I do not respect include people threatening to harm themselves… just for attention.

Please do NOT cry wolf for attention.

Why? Because it means when someone is truly in crisis, help might not get there in time.

I have seen it happening and the other day someone who is not someone I personally know freaked a lot of people out.  Not very nice. And very, very selfish.

 

 

Maybe I sound hard-hearted here.  I am not.  I think this person probably really needs help.  I hope they get help.  But I have lost people in my life who were friends to suicide.  They didn’t warn us.  They didn’t announce anything on social media or elsewhere. They just did it.  And left lots of people to pick up the pieces.  It’s a heartbreaking thing that haunts those left behind.  But I think in a time like this to cry wolf is perhaps even more awful.

 

 

So again, please don’t cry wolf.  Please.  We are all having good and bad days right now.   I have a friend who is living with a man whom I know is delaminating.  This person has been completely irrational and I am worried about my friend.  Part of me wishes he would just pack up and leave.  He is creating a verbal and emotional reign of terror.

Whether we have families we are home with or even if we are living alone, this COVID19 existence is lonely.  I for example hate the hashtag #TogetherApart because in my head it’s #TogetherAlone, which is so depressing.

 

 

Even a homebody like me wants to get out of the house. But I know I have to stay home. I miss my friends and my family.  I miss my routine.  I miss normalcy.

Except I can’t help but wonder what normal will mean and what normal will become when restrictions are lifted?  What will be our new normal going forward? Going back in time to the last global pandemic, don’t you wish we had some survivors of that to talk to?  To learn what their lives were like and what changed?  What became their new normal?

 

History seems to go on a loop.  Just when we think we’ve learned, history repeats itself.  How can we actually learn from history so it sticks?

A friend of mine said today that her emotions are very close to the surface these days.  That resonates.  We all are living a heightened emotional existence to an extent  because nothing much is normal.  And some days I think we all do have to dig deep to stay positive and to be present.

I wish personally some days I could turn my head off.  But I have to remind myself we don’t know what is next, and not to borrow trouble.  We have to believe. I am grateful my family is alright near and far.  I am grateful I have a garden I can tend and a home I can nest in.

The song videos? Just songs I have listened to this week on Spotify playlists. You have to have music in your life. No particular underlying meaning.  Just songs I like that appeared on playlists this week.

Hit the pause button. Listen to some music.  Remember the blessings we do have all around us even in a world full of turmoil and uncertainty.

I will close with a quote a friend of mine put up:

He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to his heart.
Isaiah 40:11a