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Completely Charmed

bees-breakfast

Photo by Professor Thorne

You guys. My parents just spent a weekend at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, NY, where my father took a course with GNII, called “Journey Into Wholeness.” He had an incredible experience. Check this out:

This weekend we learned an ancient wisdom practice, which in Hebrew is called Hitbodedut.  Similar to the Buddhist practice of walking meditation, or  “aimless wandering,” it involves taking a solitary walk while voicing aloud one’s present pressing concerns. I’ve always been a big fan of the character Tevye, from Fiddler On The Roof, and recall his tirade to God concerning his birth as a poor man, and how he would have enjoyed life as a rich man.  I didn’t realize that this is an example of Hitbodedut. The ancient practice involves conscious conversation, listening, reflection, and discovery.

You can read the rest of it here.

Then, for his birthday I took him to revisit the Statue of Liberty and he wrote about that, too.

Curious footnote: The artists chose a woman carrying the Torch of Enlightenment to represent Liberty, and yet, not one woman was allowed on the island for the statue’s inauguration. Boats of women protesting the discrimination circled the island and the women cried out, “If She were alive, She would be banished from the island!” These women helped strengthen the focus of Women’s Suffrage in America.

How awesome is that?

Happy Friday to all, and to all, Happy Friday.

It’s Thursday

You guys. It’s Thursday, it’s my brother’s birthday, – HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DEAR BROTHER! – and it’s eleven days until we pack up our truck.

Totally unrelated: Can anyone tell me why I suddenly have 70,000 spammers flooding my site with comments that say things like:

“Thank you for special advice. Thic post was ecactly what I researching. Good news!”

It’s interesting how these comments always include links to websites for electronic equipment, discount designer hand bags and car parts. Seriously. Annoying.

It’s been a week since I last wrote, but I’m sure you understand because you are very understanding and you know we’re getting ready to move and training our replacements at work and yesterday we sent our cats off to Los Angeles, in the care of my super-patient parents. But amongst all the wild and crazy, (because when you’re buying plane tickets for your cats it is both wild, and crazy), there’s also been some really great fun.

like father like daughter

On Liberty’s pedestal, the shores of NYC and New Jersey behind us.

My folks were in town for a conference in Rhinebeck, NY and their visit happened to fall on my father’s birthday, so I took him to visit the Statue of Liberty. He’d been before; he visited in the sixties and in the nineties, but since her crown opened back up, he’d been eager to visit again. Unfortuantely her crown sells out many, many months in advance, so we didn’t make it up there. But we did make it up to her pedastel and the museum, thanks entirely to my father, who befriended a park ranger, who then scribbled on our tickets so that “NO MONUMENT ACCESS” became “OK for 2. Mark.” and up we went!

This is what Lady Liberty looks like on the inside:

Liberty's skeleton

This is Lady Liberty’s second torch:

original torch

The first one was made like the rest of her, thin copper sheets over an iron framework. After she’d been around awhile, some BigWigs thought Liberty should function as a lighthouse, so they cut a bunch of holes into her torch, stuck in glass plates, and put fifty-two lightbulbs inside. Fifty-two lightbulbs. At the turn of the twentieth century. (And they were surprised when no one could tell the torch was lit up at all.) The artist, Bartholdi, kept suggesting they gild her torch, that way the sun or moonlight could flash off it’s golden surface. But no one listened to the artist. Over time, water leaked through the cut-up torch and ate away at Liberty’s insides. It wasn’t until the big restoration project in the eighties that Bartholdi got his wish and Liberty got a brand new, gold-guilded torch.

broken windows

This is a fantastic abandoned building on Ellis Island

the tablet

An alternate view of The Lady

illustrated newspaper

A newspaper headline decrying the murder of thousands of birds by the light of Liberty’s fifty-two lightbulbs. The illustration is brilliant.

view from ellis island

The Lady, as seen from Ellis Island

NYC and NJ

New York, I will miss you when I’m gone. But not enough to make me want to stay.

Thursday Night Family Dinner

family party 2006

A family gathering, November 2005

One of the reasons I am so excited to move home is because finally, finally after three-and-a-half years, finally I get to participate in Thursday Night Family Dinner. My mother always spends Thursday afternoons with my niece, and then my brother and sister-in-law come over for dinner, and often times, at least when I’m in town, most of the other siblings and their partners and various off-spring come over, at least whoever is free that night, and we all sit around the dining room table and eat something wonderful and talk about our day and what’s been going on lately, and sometimes we end up reminiscing and telling family stories, and those are my favorite times of all.

Other times we have a big family fight and someone stomps out of the room and everyone whispers in hushed tones and the person who said something to make the other person mad goes upstairs to apologize and then the mad person and the apologetic person come downstairs and we all eat ice cream. Or graham crackers with peanut butter and honey.

When I was growing up, my parents and I sat around the dinner table every night, ate a meal my mother cooked, and talked about our day. Which usually led to us talking about other things, like something great that happened, or something that was bothering us. Dinner time was our time to reconnect as a family. When I was really little, I would get sleepy listening to Mama and Papa talk and I’d crawl into Papa’s lap and lay my head on his chest and the deep rumbling of his voice would lull me to sleep.  Later he’d carry me upstairs, say my prayers with me, and tuck me in. In the mornings Mama would wake me up singing, she’d fix me breakfast and pack my lunch and Papa would walk me to the bus stop so we could spend a little extra time together. In the afternoons I walked home with the other kids and Mama would be waiting at the kitchen table reading the newspaper and we’d sit and have snacks and visit and then I’d do my homework while she cooked dinner and when Papa came everyone smiled and laughed and kissed and hugged and then we ate dinner and talked about our day. Family dinner made my childhood better.

Mike and I eat dinner together at the table every night we possibly can, which for the last year and a half has been nearly every single night. I adore our dinners together. Next to when we finally curl up at the end of the day, dinner is my favorite time of day. Dinner is when we reconnect, talk about our day, the great things that have happened, something that’s bothering us. It’s our one guaranteed hour of quality time in the day. It’s a gift from one to the other.

When something is bothering me I need a little time to warm up before I can talk about it. I can’t just pin Mike down at the end of a busy week and dump my heart out. I’ve got to spend a little quality time with him, talk about the weather, the dogs, something stupid, anything. I’m slow to warm. Which is not to say I don’t feel safe with Mike, because if there is anyone I feel safe with, it’s him. That man has known me through some of the ugliest moments of my life and he has always stood next to me, arms open and ready to catch me the moment I fell. I’m no psychologist, but I believe that open and honest communication is the only way to have a solid relationship. And open and honest communication only comes when you are able to communicate on a regular and frequent basis, because communication = human connection. Therefore family dinner = human connection = happy marriage = happy family.

I was not at all prepared for the loss of connection with the people I love the most when I moved to New York. Of course we’ve all made the best of it, found ways to connect through social media and lengthy emails and photos and regular visits. But it’s going to be so much better when I’m not so far away! And also more annoying, probably. There is nothing like seeing someone on a regular basis to make you feel like they’re driving you crazy. Even that considered, I’m really excited to go home and take part in Thursday Night Family Dinner. I can’t wait to hear about everyone’s day, what’s on their mind, what’s going on. I can’t wait to be a part of their lives again, and have them a part of mine. I can’t wait for everyone to get to know Mike better, and for me to get to know his family better. And also? I can’t wait until the day we get to bring our own off-spring to dinner, Thursday nights and every night.*

*That’s at least twenty-two months away,** so don’t get excited.

**Not that I’m counting or anything.