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Celebration & Gratitude

my favorite gift: sweet new plants
and something I can never have enough of: olives!

The other night my daughter and her boyfriend had my husband and myself over to celebrate my upcoming birthday. It was a great evening, with wonderful food, fantastic music, awesome conversation, very fun tabletop gaming, and much love. In my typical weirdness, I felt then and still feel now that this was not deserved, the big, positive, warm attention.

My daughter knows me well, and her gifts to me (in addition to the above food, music, conversation, and gaming) were a jar of kalamata olives, and a beautiful little plant. I also received a cool-looking new game, Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein, which I’d seen highly recommended in recent reviews. As we didn’t want to dive into an hour long read of the instructions for a new game, we played a long-time favorite, Betrayal at House on the Hill.

Betrayal at House on the Hill,
and Abomination: The Heir of Frankenstein

I’ve never spent this much time or energy contemplating any particular birthday or age. I am not sure why fifty is doing it, but I guess that is not so uncommon. But so far, this one has actually been one of the best.

I’ll know soon enough if fifty feels any different from any other age, but regardless, I’m letting go the worry, and just allowing the astounding gratitude I’m feeling for having made it this far, and with this much love in my life.

Challenge

December 6, starting here

Well, we’re through November… a month that some years drags me down (see previous posts if you’re curious), and this month, in just over a week, I’ll be turning 50. I’ve always been one of those people who didn’t feel much of an awareness of her age, sometimes having to actually think for a few minutes about how old I was. Heading into 50 it’s hard to forget, and after the past few very tiring (physically, mentally, emotionally) years, I am currently most definitely aware of that age.

So I’m embracing the narcissism that seems to be prevalent in our culture these days. Beware if you’re reading this, all of these posts are basically fluff, but this one will likely be particularly superficial.

Ugh, side view.

What might not be obvious about me (except to those who know me well), is that in addition to being a rather introverted writer and artist and a total nerd and weirdo, I’m also really into being relatively fit and healthy. I love getting outside, banging myself up on rocky mountain trails, taking risks for the sake of exhilaration, and also, trying new things that bring that sense of exhilaration.

One of my favorite approaches to working out is in the street workout style, which I discovered earlier this year, and find exhilarating. Yeah, I live in a rural town where there are no actual constructs to do such workouts outside, as they’ve organically been developed in urban areas – and in fact, there are hardly any “streets” at all. But, I have some equipment at home and use whatever I can of the house itself, as well as the big barn on the same property. Plus, I have this amazing husband and best friend who’s promised to build me some equipment out of pipes and connectors, and whatever else it will take.

Since injuring my wrist this summer and going for several months of physical therapy, I hadn’t been able to do any of these workouts. My main exercise was in walking and hiking. I’m now feeling somewhat soft, flabby, and like I’ve lost much of my strength. I’m thrilled to have been able to get back to this just this past week or so, and was discussing it with a friend who had asked what kind of workouts I do. It didn’t take long for the conversation to inspire me to create a challenge for myself: get ripped! Joking… I don’t need to be ripped (and I don’t think I could actually get there), but if I can have fun with a challenge like this, it will help to keep me motivated. I just mostly want to get strong (I mean, sure, thinner would be nice too).

Nell Strength Challenge

So, here, a little over a week before my 50th, is where I’m at now. Putting this in writing, and in pictures (I must be crazy), might keep my focus on actually accomplishing this. That’s what people do these days, right?

It’s just about giving thanks

26 November… not spending my day baking

In two days it will be Thanksgiving, and if everything goes as planned I’ll be hanging out with the love of my life, enjoying a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. This year the family is dispersed, so it’s me and him, on our own… no big cooking to do, no feasts to time perfectly, no desserts to bake one after the other… Of course I’ll miss the family (and we’ll be getting together over the weekend anyway), but at the same time, I’ll enjoy the day off together (as long as he doesn’t get last-minute, panicked emails from clients that drag him away).

Thanksgivings don’t rate highly for me anyway. I have too many memories of bleak-spirited, poorly-funded, inadequately-fed Thanksgivings. I think this may have had something to do with the fact my 32 year-old mother had died and been buried so soon before the holiday, why on earth would my father have felt like celebrating gratitude? I’ve also had my share of very weird, very awkward, and terribly uncomfortable ones… the ones where you’re not personally invited, you’re only attending as someone’s guest, and in some cases, you’re the only “ethnic” (being Polish and Italian) one there.

Nah, I’ll be okay without Thanksgiving this year. Thanks, yes, those I give, every single day. I am grateful for my life and for everyone in it, and for this amazing world, as terrible as it can be sometimes.

Center Street Cemetery

Center Street Cemetery
Center Street Cemetery

Last month my dad was in and out of the hospital several times, and I ended up spending quite a bit of time in my hometown of Wallingford, Connecticut. Though I visit often throughout the year, I don’t usually visit my old stomping grounds from when I was a kid. While I was there last month I ended up having some time to kill, so I took the opportunity to stop by a very old cemetery I used to frequent when I was growing up, Center Street Cemetery.

Center Street Cemetery Big Tree
One of the many big old trees

It isn’t the cemetery where my mother is buried, in fact, I’m not sure I know any of this cemetery’s inhabitants…

But, as a teenager I would often stop by Center Street Cemetery in between school and work. I would head over from where I lived a few blocks away, stopping on the way at the New York Bakery (as it was called) for a pastry, and then through the entranceway on the corner of Orchard and Center Streets. I would find a place to sit for a few, underneath one of the many big old beautiful trees. After, I would head off to work feeling relaxed and recharged. It was a very quiet place, despite being located on two of our town’s busiest streets.

1980s

This was the first cemetery I ever took photos in, for a high school photography class; I still have the negatives and contact sheets. It started a since life-long love of mine, combining my reverence for cemeteries with my love of photography.

Center Street Cemetery

Center Street Cemetery started serving the area as early as 1670, was formally established in 1683, and has a pretty intriguing history. I wasn’t the first or only person to enjoy sitting and having a bite to eat amongst the gravestones… the cemetery has twelve full size stone tables, where visitors in the 18th century would lunch while paying their respects. The last woman tried for witchcraft in New England – and eventually acquitted, Winifred King Benham, is reportedly buried there. The paths are well worn from genealogists and historians frequenting the place now; while I was there, at least two others were there taking close-ups of stones.

I have the most fun with graveyard photos when I get to work altering them; these are just a few basic pics from the hour or so I spent there… It was a beautiful, very bright sunny day. It was nice to be back there, and it again offered a bit of peace during a difficult time.

Center Street Cemetery, Wallingford, Connecticut

New Beginnings

Finally, I’m updating this site!… I have had a hell of a time with the previous WordPress theme, and just installed this new, much more basic one.

late October 2019, Vermont

Yesterday was Halloween – or Samhain, which is the mark of the New Year in some Pagan traditions, and the new moon was just a few nights before. I feel like this is a good time to make a better start with this portfolio, and a real start with this blog.

Art has been important virtually my entire life… after my mother died, a counselor told my dad I would express my pain through art. Whether or not that was indeed true, I don’t know – back then I drew pictures of my mother as an angel, and I drew birds and animals, and the sorts of things little kids drew. But it was such a constant for me growing up (and my dad being an artist himself was a huge influence as well). As I got older I discovered cameras, and how much I loved taking and working with pictures as well as drawing them. So I’ve been doing that a very long time as well. And writing, well… Mercury is conjunct my Ascendant in the 12th house… seems rather fated 😉

So this is me anyway, with my little inconspicuous site. If you’ve happened upon this page, hi there.