Monday, December 24, 2012

Blessings and a Rant

There is so much on my mind these past days. I suppose I really need in some ways to curtail my activities online, much as I have curtailed watching the "news" on television. Going back to July, take a retrospective with me. We saw a big gay rights / same-sex marriage brouhaha. That took us through to August, then it was time for the presidential election. Oh the debates, the controversies, the vile vicious hatred that flowed like water from all ideologies and directions for week after week after week. During the Election Season we saw a terrorist attack in Libya and a truly horrendous hurricane that decimated the northeast, especially New York and New Jersey. 

One would think the atmosphere would ease, clear once the election was over ... nope. We just carried on as usual. The big news/controversy going into December was the looming "Fiscal Cliff", which to be honest I would be more concerned over if it were not the same song just a new verse that we hear year after year after year. Lots of recriminations and no solutions. Then the unimaginable happened. 

December 14, 2012. Tragedy and loss almost beyond comprehension. Twenty children dead. Six school personnel as well. A mother murdered in her bed by her youngest son. And the perpetrator taking his own life, along with the answers to the wailing sobs of "Why?!?!?!" heard throughout the nation. 

The dead were barely identified before the new uproar began. Gun Control. Second Amendment rights. Identification and treatment of the potential nutjobs walking among us. Conspiracy theories. 

Then we have the "Mayan Apocalypse" "Great Shift" for December 21, 2012. I am so tired of it all. Really really tired. 

People are not going to change. People are greedy, selfish, power hungry, money grubbing, self justifying animals. I feel so over it all.
I tend to be unconventional in many ways, and do not *do* Christmas per se, except to the extent that is needed for family gatherings. I do not send cards any more, and gifts are not part of my MO either. I just wanted you to know that for me the spirit of love, community and fellowship that most people try to drag out of the mothballs for six weeks out of 52 each year should be more than that. For if we cannot embody a love and appreciation for our lives, families, friends and fellow creatures every day we show disrespect by doing so on demand.  

There is a greeting I routinely send to people on my Facebook friends and family list. I tweak it from time to time to suit specific personalities and/or relationships. Here is my greeting for all year, not just for the current season:

Brightest Blessings to you on this day. May you have more happy than sad, more laughter than tears, more love than hate, more friends than enemies, more sunshine than rain, more light than dark this day and all days to come.

Love, Light and Blessings Always. Ellen

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

A December to Remember - and Mourn

This has been a difficult month thus far.

I believe most people identify with that statement on an individual level most months. Things happen, life happens. Much of what sticks for us is the difficult, the painful. The good, the easy, the happy - these melt into the background. We expect as our due the good in life. 

But life is not always good, or easy or happy. There is chaos and pain and turmoil at every turn. We are constantly challenged by life. Challenged to rise to the occasion, to overcome the obstacle, to accept the unacceptable. It is those times that we remember, that we memorialize. The Pearl Harbor Memorial has been a common December remembrance for decades.

We also remember John Lennon 

at this time of the year.

Sadly, we now have another image that will permeate our collective memory for December, that of Newtown, CT.

There are no words, no wisdom or musings I can add that will change or ease what has happened. As a nation we are reeling once again at the actions of one person that have altered our lives in inexplicable ways. Hundreds of friends and relatives have had their understanding and appreciation of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" altered forever.

Once more we are forced to ask some difficult questions of ourselves and those we look to as leaders. Many questions with no clear answers, much pain and anguish that has no ease. 

There are countless families that will savor their times with friends and family at a more intense level this year. Children will continue to add to their memory bank another holiday season. The adults and older children will have perhaps a sharper appreciation of the intangibles that we strive for in life. 

My birthday has always waged a battle with the holidays, as it is a mere 9 days before Christmas, 7 days before Yule. This year a pall I am not sure will ever lift was added, because in my mind December 14 will loom larger that December 16, 25 or 21. 

We need something to change. Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora, Newtown ... How many places will be added to the list?  I do not think there are any easy answers. There are most definitely a great many difficult questions. 

Blessings to all who read these words.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

What do you remember about your mother?

I am not sure how you go about crediting photos, but the above image is from

I posted this to my Facebook wall, and the following conversation developed. My Facebook name is Ellen WhiteOwl Smith-Apple. Rhiannon Smith is my niece.

I posted the first comment with the picture
You think Mom would go for this? I giggle just thinking about the look on her face. I am so mean ...
Rhiannon Smith She might like it :)

Ellen WhiteOwl Smith-Apple She would say Wheeeeeeeeeee!!!!! When we were young we tried to teach her to ride a bicycle, and hula hoop. Get her to tell you about it. She was so much fun as a mother.

I have thought a great deal about this over the weeks since I had this interaction. My mother was 25 years old when I was born, and throughout our childhood she was one of the fun mothers. I am not real sure I appreciated that aspect of her personality. There was a lot of laughter in our house. My sister and I would roll on the floor laughing at times.

When we (my sister and I) were about 12 and 14 she went to work at the elementary school as an aide in a kindergarten class. She loved children so much, and would wipe their tears and give them hugs as needed. I suppose that would not be allowed in schools today. She made it a personal crusade to assure that there were sufficient funds for all the children to participate in all activities. No child went without ice cream. All children went to paid activities like shows and plays and field trips to farms. Each child had at least one book to take home from the book fair. Those with less always had enough. She took socks and gloves and underwear and soap to school on a regular basis. She unabashedly harassed her clubs and ladies groups for monies to help the children at her school. All of this was done in a manner as to not belittle or call attention to those in need.

We were not well off. We were not even middle class. I cannot ever remember having surplus, except for laughter and family and love.

She and my father did well, they loved us and helped us grow into pretty decent people. She usually but not always let Daddy do the physical discipline. We were rambunctious kids.

They played with us, games and cards and outside. They welcomed all of our friends, often feeding 3 or 4 extra at mealtimes.

Just a few memories of my mother on the eve of my 54th birthday.


Seen from the truck, a barn and pasture on New Garden Road
This was in October, 2012. Photography by Roger Apple, using a Kodak Z915.

Pretty scene, is it not? This is on the road that we drive if we go from Nashs Ford to Honaker. Not abandoned, part of a working farm.