inside the mind

Today's Christmas song...

Blog 365...
17. What is the first thing you saw when you woke up this morning?
My son-in-law, telling me that I'd overslept.

In my life...
Money's tight enough that I'm starting to worry about Christmas.

I just finished reading "One Snowy Night Before Christmas" by Pamela Fryer. A quick read novella about a Grinchy young woman who has had nothing but bad luck at Christmas time. When she - a tow truck driver - is driving a man and his six-year-old daughter back to town after he ditched his car in snowstorm, she accidentally hits a vagrant. The little girl is convinced that the old man with a white beard and red shirt is Santa. But he couldn't be, could he?

I just couldn't get into the story. I didn't find the characters to be very realistic. However, I did like the message of hope and faith that centered the story.

I joined the 2015 Witchy reading challenge. We'll see where that takes me.

I also signed up for "Book for a Book."

In the world...
  • Apparently there's been an outbreak of mumps in the National Hockey League over the past month.
  • The Curiosity Rover has detected spikes of methane on Mars. This after finding water.
  • Norman Bridwell, the author of Clifford the Big Red Dog, has died at the age of 86.
  • American Alan Gross has been released from captivity in Cuba after five years. President Obama wants to "normalize" diplomatic relations with Cuba.
  • Theaters showing the movie "The Interview," a comedy which centers around journalists recruited by the CIA to kill Kim Jong-un, have been threatened by North Korean hackers. According to the threat: "“Warning…We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” reads the message posted on Tuesday. “Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made. The world will be full of fear.”
  • Two blasts have been heard near a women's college near Peshawar, Pakistan, where yesterday 132 children ages 10-20 were gunned down at a school.

Makes me smile...

You Are Charming and Unique
You are attracted to the counter culture. Mainstream culture doesn't have a lot to offer you.
If people want to think you're flakey, that's fine. You're getting more done than they are.

You don't need much in life. You just want to be seen and appreciated for who you are.
You can be a bit too honest at times. And most people find that refreshing.

Something beautiful... 

2015 Witches &a Witchcraft Reading Challenge

I'm joining in the 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge by Melissa of Melissa's Eclectic Bookshelf.

The Rules:
  • This challenge will run from Jan 1, 2015 – Dec 31, 2015. Melissa will be posting a place to link up a sign-up post, reviews and a wrap-up post. (Note: You do not have to review the books to participate, but only those who link up reviews will be entered for the prize) 
  • Grab the reading challenge button and post this reading challenge on your blog to track your progress. Please include a link back to this sign-up post so others can join the reading challenge too. 
  •  You do not have to be a book blogger to participate- you could track your progress and post reviews on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc. 
  • Any full length book that includes a witch as a main character or includes major witchcraft elements counts. They may be fiction or non-fiction. However, they should not be reference books which are not read cover to cover-I will leave this to your discretion. 
  • Books can be any format (bound, eBook, audio). 
  • Re-reads and crossovers from other reading challenges are allowed. 
  • You can list your books in advance or just put them in a wrap-up post. If you list them, feel free to change them as the mood takes you. 
  • When you sign up in the linky put the direct link to your post about joining the 2015 Witches & Witchcraft Reading Challenge, not just a link to your blog. 
  • You can move up levels, but no moving down. 
  • Sign-ups will be open until Dec 15, 2015, so feel free to join at any time throughout the year. 
  • Have some Witchy Good Fun !!! 

The Levels: 
Initiate: Read 1 – 5 Witchy Books
Maiden: Read 6 – 10 Witchy Books  (I'm going for this one)
Mother: Read 11 – 15 Witchy Books
Crone: Read 16 – 20 Witchy Books

The Prize: 
Witchy book of choice up to $10 from The Book Depository! Participants who have officially signed up by linking up a sign-up post declaring their level will be given one entry for every review they link up. The more reviews you write and link up, the more entries in the contest! Link up your reviews on that month’s Review Link Up Post. Winner will be chosen on Jan 11th 2016 to give everyone a chance to link up their end of year reviews. All Review Link Up Posts can be accessed from my menu bar under my header!

Christmas song of the day...

Blog 365...
13. How much of your day did you spend completely alone?
None at all.

14. How are you expanding your mind?
I attended a religious service, which is not something I usually do.

15. What word are you using too much today?

16. How was your day today?
It's too early to tell, but it promises to be a good one.

In my life...
The weekend was dedicated to three big events. It was Peppy's baptism, and Pappo and Wren's birthday. My parents, sister, brother in law and two of their kids came up for the event. It was a short but nice visit. Everything went off well, and we came home tired but triumphant in our ability to keep two birthday children happy at the same time. It's a delicate balance, since one turned 8 and the other 2.

Today's the office Christmas party, which is actually lunch. I'm usually in charge of where we go, so I like to check out new restaurants each time. This year it's Twin Oaks.

In the world...
More children and other civilians have died in the political/religious/cultural upheaval in the Middle East. About a dozen school children were killed when a car bomb went off. It was likely al Qaeda. The Taliban attacked a school in Pakistan, currently the number of dead is 145, most of them children ages 14-18.

Makes me happy...

Something beautiful...

Christmas song of the day...

Blog 365...
9. What are you passionate about?
My family, and making a difference in the world.

10. I realize tomorrow...
Is Thursday. My daughter's family will meet with the pastor about Peppy's upcoming Christening.

11. Are you holding a grudge?
A couple, I think. It may be small, but they remain unresolved and unresolvable.

In my life...
After two blowups in 3 days, the adults in my household agreed (at my insistence) that we are putting the holiday first this year. We're going to try to get over ourselves and each other, and maintain the Christmas spirit for the sake of peace in the family and so we can truly enjoy the season.

Papi got a call this morning to say that his grandmother is in the hospital after a fall. 

So. Tired. It's been hard to wake up in the mornings, and hard to get through the days.

Lots of rain on Tuesday, lingering rain yesterday, but not nearly as severe. It was snowing very lightly when I left the house this morning.

I've decided on two goals for New Year: get my financial house in order, and give back more to the community. I'm reading a book called "How to Be an Everyday Philanthropist," and taking ideas from there. I've already decided that the focus of my community efforts will be anti-violence: domestic, sexual, gang, crime.

In the world...
The CIA has released its "torture report," a sickening and depressing admission of the trauma inflicted on human beings to extract information. I understand the need to gain information in order to prevent terrorism. But I thought the Burning Times taught us that eventually people will say anything, admit to anything, to get pain to stop. Information gained under torture is unreliable.

California is bracing for the "storm of the decade." I hope C will be okay.

Something beautiful...

Moon Goddess by Joanna Bromley

Today's Christmas music...a little genderswap for Baby It's Cold Outside, with Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Lady Gaga.

Blog 365...

6. What makes you sweat?
Heat. I have little tolerance for it.

7. What do you wish your job was? 
Chief Pinner at Pinterest.

8. What relationship did you nurture today?
It's early, so I really haven't. I've been holed up at the office.

In my life...
Baby it's cold outside! It's below freezing, spitting little needles of snow. Tomorrow we expect 2-3" of rain through the day, with wind gusting to 45mph. Flood watches already.

Just finished reading The Old Magic of Christmas by Linda Raedisch. It's a fascinating recounting of ancient European winter holiday traditions, some of which pre-date Christianity, and some of which are still in practice today, however modified in form. It's a bit scattered, but told in a friendly storyteller's voice. It even has crafts and recipes to help you adopt some of the traditions, if you wish, and a calendar list at the end to organize the festivities. I expect I'll be trotting this one out every December.

Friday night I went to Cirque Dreams: Holidaze. It was a very impressive acrobatics show with a holiday  theme. Beautiful costumes and impressive acts. It was a lot of fun.

A rollercoaster weekend. Saturday, after a major blowup with Mommy, I left the house, determined not to let it ruin my St. Nicholas Day. We'd had plans to go downcity to Aurora, watch some kiddie Christmas shows, have a bloody Mary, enjoy the bagel bar, see Santa and a snippet from Festival Ballet. I would keep those plans, and avoid the household strife by strolling the mall or getting on a bus and letting it take me away for the day. Maybe Newport, or Woonsocket. Just away to decompress.

Instead I ended up running into them at Aurora. Them being Bear, Mommy and Wren. It was awkward at first, but I wasn't going to continue the drama in front of the little one. I helped her to see Santa, we shopped some of the downcity stores, and even went to lunch together. It was a pleasant day.

Traditionally, we put up the Christmas tree on St. Nicholas Day. This year we had to wait in order to let the tree settle in and let down its branches. We decided to let St. Nicholas provide our tree for this year, which involved bribing a coworker to take me to WalMart (have I mentioned I'm not a fan of WalMart?) to buy the tree, drive it and me home, and hide it in the garage Friday night. That's the part that went off without a hitch. Our Christmas tree is "too short. dead. dropping leaves everywhere. brown. bare. obviously chosen by St. Nicholas' drunk donkey companion." Two days, and I've heard enough about this tree to go artificial for the rest of my life.

Sunday I was informed that I was accompanying Mommy, Bear, Pappo and Peppy to Newport. Nevermind that I had plans for my day. Well, Newport mansions at Christmas are worth seeing, and I didn't want to disappoint my grandson. Sadly, I underestimated the cold and under-bundled for the day. The trip down, the mansion itself, and even lunch/dinner were very nice. Being outdoors waiting for transportation and getting from one place to another was miserable. When we got home, it was relatively late, I was tired and chilled. Then we decorated the tree. I think it looks quite nice, loaded down with lights, ornaments and silver beads in place of garland (I hate tinsel. and Easter grass. So. hard.).

In the world...
Protests all over the country - including in Providence - continue against the acquittals of the white police officers charged with killing unarmed black men. Several of the stores downcity sported "Black Lives Matter" posters. I don't like where this is going. All lives matter. That's been the point all along.

Boko Haram is suspected in the escape of 200 prisoners from a Nigerian jail.

There was a huge fire in downown Los Angeles that shut down 2 freeways.

There were Israeli airstrikes in Damascus.

Learn something new...
I finally learned the definition of "fine art." It has nothing to do with style or quality. It has to do with being created for aesthetic value, as opposed to applied art.

Something beautiful...

I am participating in a challenge that I saw on Kwizgiver's blog, (she got it from Cynthia) which is hosted by Roof Beam Reader. A bonus incentive: everyone who completes their challenge will be entered to win a $50 gift card from Amazon or The Book Depository! If you are interested in joining the challenge as well, just head over to Roof Beam Reader!

The Goal:
To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).

The rules are simple:
Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list for AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2014 or later (any book published in the year 2013 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – publication dates will be checked).

Caveat: Two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

My books: 
1. The Culture of Calamity: Disaster and the Making of Modern America by Kevin Rozario
2. Tribute by Nora Roberts
3. The Plague by Albert Camus
4. Gilded: How Newport Became America's Richest Resort by Deborah Davis
5. The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone
6. Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination With the Afterlife by Lisa Miller
7. The Girl With Glass Feet by Ali Shaw
8. The Simple Faith of Mr. Rogers by Amy Hollingsworth
9. Reading Nora Roberts by Mary Ellen Snodgrass
10. How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith
11. Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919 by Stephen Puleo
12. An Edible History of Humanity by Tom Standage

1. What Alice Knew: A Most Curious Tale of Henry James & Jack the Ripper by Paula Marantz Cohen
2. A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg

In honor of my annual attempt to create a virtual Christmas Countdown, I'm going to put up a Christmas carol per day until Christmas. First up is Johnny Mathis singing "We Need a Little Christmas." I like to hear this very early in the season, and Mathis' is my definitive version.

Another favorite for early in the season is "O Come O Come Emmanuel." It's a haunting song, and the very definition of Advent. I like to hear it in Latin, preferably a capella. This is a great version.

Blog 365... 

3. Who is the first person you saw today? 
As with most work days, it was my son-in-law. We both get up early and leave for work together.

4. What memory do you want to keep from today?
Tonight is the Hope Street Holiday Stroll. I'm looking forward to experiencing the holiday cheer with my daughters and grandkids.

In my life...
Chilly today, and more like we expect December to be.
I'm really enjoying the book I just started reading, The Old Magic of Christmas. It's a fascinating recounting of myths and traditions (some pre-date Christianity, some do not) of the Nordic cultures. I've just started, and it's "just the thing" for the holidays.

In the world...
 Another white male police officer, who put a choke hold on a black male suspect, leading to the suspect's death, has been found not criminally responsible for the death.
Providence had its 19th murder of the year over the weekend.
Anthropologists on Wednesday said they had found the earliest engraving in human history on a fossilized mollusc shell some 500,000 years old, unearthed in colonial-era Indonesia.

Something beautiful...

Vincent Van Gogh "Blossoming Almond Tree"

Playing catch-up again. I really have to start just planning to be off on the weekends.

Finishing up the Month of Gratitude
via Kwizgiver...
26. Stillness.
I don't even know what to say about it. I miss stillness. I'd be so grateful for a little of that.

27. Kindness.
I try to always be grateful for kindness. It's a precious thing, but easily overlooked.

28. Letting go.
Bear will be 19 in December. She's finishing high school, and already planning a trip to Paris next fall. She has her eye on one of the microlofts downtown. I've been letting her make her own decisions, offering advice and guidance, but not providing hard answers. She has to let go, too. It's hard for both of us, but I'm grateful that it's something we're both able to do. That we can let go of the mother-child bond, and still maintain mother-daughter closeness.

29. Self-care.
Since the family moved in, it's been hard to do self-care. I settle for getting to bed within an hour of my bedtime. I'm grateful for those little moments of downtime, where I can rest my mind.

30. Myself.
I'm grateful to be where I am, who I am and what I am. It took a lot to get to this place, but I'm largely satisfied with my life and the direction it's headed. Would I change some things? Absolutely. But I'm grateful to know that the things I would change are within my ability to change or endure.

Blog 365...
26. Do you feel appreciated?

27. My body is _____________.
The result of my behavior.

28. Today I had too much _______________.

29. What worries you?
How long it will take to get my house back.

30. What did you get to do today?
I got to take a nap.

Dec. 1. Who is your best friend?
Probably Mark.

2. I really wish ______________.
I had a car.

In my life...
I feel like we're going spend-happy already on Christmas presents. My youngest granddaughter is getting baptized on the 14th, and the family is coming up for the event. I'd like to purchase the gifts that are going back with them, to save on shipping. Mommy seems intent on blowing everything on gifts for the immediate family.

Today is Give Back Tuesday, and I can't wait to take the grandkids shopping for Toys for Tots and canned goods for the food pantry. I donated to our local domestic violence shelter, too.

Yesterday was unseasonably warm, nearly 60. Today the temp dropped to below 40. I hear tomorrow will be hovering around 55-60. 'tis the autumn weather roller coaster.

Something Christmas-y...

Daily gratitude challenge
via Kwizgiver...
25. Movement
My movement's been a little restricted for the past few days, since I pulled something in my back. Even so, I'm grateful for mobility.

Blog 365...
25. What sound do you hate hearing?
My granddaughter's high-pitched scream when she doesn't get her way. (Ah, the terrible twos).

In my life...
The Great Secret Santa Debate rages on. Oy.

On my morning commute these last few weeks, there have been a pair of... individuals... who sit across the aisle from each other and discuss politics. Conservative politics.  "Obama is out to ruin this country and take our guns" politics. They're loud and opinionated, so it's nearly impossible to overhear them. Last week I was sadly not surprised to learn that one of them has a KKK robe at home. "It's not what people think," he explained. "I love everybody. It's just for marches."
This morning on the bus, he was explaining why it was necessary to impose martial law on Ferguson, Missouri to quell the post-grand-jury-verdict rioting. "They do it in Iran and Iraq!" Even Other Conservative Guy disagreed. I'm so glad I haven't engaged with these guys.

image credit: Lynn Bonnette

endomental: Inside the mind

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Savor the MomentHow to Be President: What to Do and Where to Go Once You're in OfficeBeyond the Miracle Worker: The Remarkable Life of Anne Sullivan Macy and Her ExtraordinaryFriendship with Helen KellerBlack HillsThe quahog stops hereFounding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation

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