Lost truths of history

Image courtesy of NativeVillage.org

Last year I learned the truth of Thanksgiving for the first time. The truth of Thanksgiving bares almost no resemblance to the “fairy tale” I was taught in elementary school. What I learned and what they still teach children today does not properly honor the Wampanoags, the Native American people who aided the Pilgrims of Plymouth. This lack of knowledge about the true story of this American “holiday” has to be corrected.

I do not believe that my words can do the true history justice so I implore you to read the articles I have linked. Then you too will know one of the many lost and mis-told truths of history regarding Native Americans. The more education there is about the true past, the better everyone’s future will be.

How Do Native Americans Really Feel About Thanksgiving?

Exploring Thanksgiving History in Massachusetts

Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Captured: 1614 – New Exhibit Focuses on Wampanoag Story

THANKSGIVING: THE NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians

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Tis the season for sappy holiday movies

It seems like the holiday season starts earlier every year, but I don’t particularly mind. Christmas decorations at Halloween are excessive but I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t notice it that much anymore. It also helps that I only leave my house to get groceries and other necessities and avoid the busy malls as much as possible. I’ve been buying my gifts online for years now and it’s ideal for me and anyone else who has ever worked retail and loathes the thought of holiday crowds.

There’s one particular aspect of the holidays that I didn’t realize started so early until this year and that’s the showing of sappy holiday movies. There was a time when I’d grumble and huff about them starting so soon, but not this year. For various reasons, I’m okay with kicking off the holidays sooner than usual. In fact, I already have a string of colored lights up in my living room at the request of my youngest daughter and I rather like the soft glow of them in the evening.

It’s by the soft glow of those holiday lights that I’ve been watching the sappy holiday movies in the evenings when I don’t have my girls. The movies are predictable to put it mildly. They’re filled with attractive single people who can’t find love or who have been scorned by love and then poof! The holidays happen and there’s magically someone new in their lives that they fall in love with. The blossoming relationship hits some sort of snag about a half hour before the movie ends but then everything works out happily within the last 5-10 minutes. Despite the fact that such a sappy holiday movie plot has yet to come true in my life, I still believe in love and don’t mind watching happy holiday endings.

I don’t expect Hallmark or Lifetime to make a sappy holiday movie that even remotely mimics my life. The plot would revolve around a single mother in her late 30’s who lives in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere), spends her days as a semi-recluse writing freelance from home, has two crazy kittens that alternate trying to snuggle up her nose with climbing the walls, has a dog as her constant shadow, trips over a bowling ball black cat named after a bird, and has basically no social life. Not much of a plot because it wouldn’t go anywhere interesting. No big holiday parties to attend, no social events in town, and no local friends to throw fun bashes..equals a most boring plot.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Nighty night, Mama!

Nighty night, Mama!

Last year I was able to go out to New England a couple of times over the holidays but that’s not in the cards this year. I enjoyed the holiday parties I went to out there and relished in the feeling that I was part of something outside of my little “cave” in Upstate NY. I’ll get back to New England in the New Year and will definitely make more holiday parties out there part of my 2015 plans. Nevertheless, for this year, it will just be me, my girls, and my small family or just me and my crazy household of animals. Perhaps someday I’ll know romantic love again or maybe I’ll just become a “crazy cat lady” 😉 but no matter what, I know I have many blessings to be thankful for!

The kittens love using each other as pillows. :)

The kittens love using each other as pillows. 🙂

Foggy flurries and furry fluffballs

My snowy house this morning.

My snowy house this morning.

Today marked the first substantial snow for the season here. The calendar may still say it’s fall, but Upstate NY has never been a place that abides by such silly notions. I don’t mind snow when it first begins and my girls both seem to love it. I remember loving it when I was a child, but once I became an adult who had to drive in it, snow lost a lot of its magic. The “magical first snow” today started overnight and hasn’t let up since. It’s not accumulating fast but it’s heavy, wet, and perfect for making snowballs.

And make snowballs I did! When I took Jazzmin out this morning, I made a couple snowballs and tossed them at her. She happily caught them in her mouth before spitting them out when she realized they were strange, cold tennis balls. I then took a snowball in to show the kittens and they were fascinated by the cold, white, balls of water. They love water and I’m always plucking them out of the sink, bathtub, and dog’s water bowl. I eventually plopped the snowball in their water bowl and Daisy watched it intently until it melted.

Once the girls were off at school, I did a bit of freelance work and then settled on the couch beneath a blanket to begin some new beading projects. I’d reviewed a new set of instructions for making earrings this morning and I was eager to try them. What I created came out better than I expected, but I discovered I need to start using a thimble to avoid poking my pointer fingers constantly. Thank goodness fingers heal quickly! It’s worth it though because I’m so pleased with last week’s creations that I need more hours in the day to create all the jewelry designs that have popped into my mind.

Modeling last week's beaded earring and pendant creations.

Modeling last week’s beaded earring and pendant creations.

The snow never let up so there was no point in waiting for it to stop before taking Jazz for a walk. I bundled her up in her booties (which she hates) and warm, blue sweater and I bundled myself up similarly in my winter jacket, boots, and earmuffs. It wasn’t exactly frigid today but there was a breeze and I wanted to keep my ears warm. Our walk wasn’t very long but Jazz was happy to be out and we both became thoroughly coated with snow. As we were heading back home, fog began to roll in from the top of the hill which detracted from the beauty of the first snowfall.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

Jazz in her sweater and booties.

The snowy trees.

The snowy trees.

Jazz smells something...

Jazz smells something…

Yuppers, it's snowing!

Yuppers, it’s snowing!

The fog rolling in down the road.

The fog rolling in down the road.

Jazzmin and I were both happy to get home and thaw out. The kittens were fascinated watching the falling snow and took turns looking out the window or hogging my desk chair because it’s so cozy.

Daisy looking out the window.

Daisy looking out the window.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

Angel hogging my desk chair.

I had to get my snow shovel out of the shed to clean off my deck steps and create a path to the door and it’s now resting beside the door, ready to be used again. Winter has definitely begun but with the combination of foggy flurries and furry fluffballs, I know it will be anything but dull!

 

A day of surprises

The first surprise today was the amazingly nice weather for November. Yes, the weather forecast had said it was going to be almost 60 and sunny, but anyone who lives here knows not to believe such an optimistic prediction until they actually experience it. Thankfully, the crystal ball-reading forecasters were right today and the sun shined warm and bright.

I shined almost as bright and warm as the sun today when I checked the SNHU connect app and discovered that I’d won the Most-Liked/Commented Halloween Costume contest for my picture as a Swashbuckler Sith. I was shocked! I’ve never won a costume contest (not that I’ve been in many) and I don’t win many things in general so I was ecstatic. The physical prize is some SNHU swag which is very nice, but the real prize is much deeper than that. For a girl who was either not seen in high school or viewed as weird, a witch, or worse, feeling a small taste of popularity was a surprising self-confidence boon!

The announcement of the winner. :)

The announcement of the winner. 🙂

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith.

The winning Halloween selfie. Swashbuckler Sith 😉

In all honestly, I’m a Jedi Master and not a Sith, but I dressed up as a Sith just to see what it felt like. Apparently, I wear it well, but that I’m still a believer in the positive, perky, and sunny side of the Force.

To partake in the sunny side of the Force, my girls and I headed down to the school playground for some fresh air fun. The playground is rather nice, well-built, and very familiar to all of us as I’ve been taking my girls there since they were little. Jaycie usually spends the entire time on the swings because she loves swinging but eventually Jordan and I were able to convince her to join us exploring the “towers” of the playground. The surprising thing was that once we got Jaycie off the swing, she didn’t want to get back on and she was more than happy to chase around with her older sister. I know how truly blessed I am that my two daughters play so well together, especially since there’s a 4 year age difference between them. It felt wonderful playing around with my girls and pretending I was a kid again!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Sign at the playground. Yes they do!

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Jaycie swinging as usual.

Yay! She's off the swing!

Yay! She’s off the swing!

My girls on the playground bridge.

My girls on the playground bridge.

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Jaycie conquering the bridge!

Awww! They're playing together. =)

Awww! They’re playing together. =)

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

I am queen of the sunken half-tire thingies!

Tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be even better than today’s and I’ll happily take it considering how awful November was last year. Every nice day is one less icky, winter day and no matter the weather, each dawn brings the potential for miracles, gifts, and surprises.

The best kind of crazy!

Staying warm with my pets on the couch.

Staying warm with my pets on the couch.

More than once in my life, I’ve been asked if I’m crazy. My usual reply is that I’ve discovered being a little bit crazy keeps me sane and I honestly believe that. If I was 100% sane, I’d be extremely boring and I’d never do anything exciting or fun! What a waste that would be. 😉

My particular kind of crazy struck me at a rather odd, but useful time today. It snowed today and it was the first undeniable snow full of big, fluffy flakes that blew about in the frigid temperatures. I stayed warm by working at my desk where there’s a heat vent right underneath it and an Angel on my lap keeping me cozy. At one point, she was using the spacebar as a pillow so I had to slide my keyboard over to a more accessible spot, but enjoying her warmth was worth the minor adjustment. Certainly nothing crazy about seeking warmth on a cold day.

During my lunch break, I snuggled on the couch with Jazz by my feet and Angel by my head. Well, she was actually sleeping in an odd position on my collarbone at one point because she was weary of getting too close to the dog. Jazz and Daisy seem to get along okay now but Angel is a bit more persnickety and still swats at Jazz if she gets too close. The balance of power will settle into its proper place eventually…

This was not what I'd call comfortable.

This was not what I’d call comfortable.

After lunch and a bit more work, I decided a short nap was in order since my sleep last night was plagued with dreams of being chased by dinosaurs. I should know better than to watch Jurassic Park 3 before bed, but obviously, I don’t. As soon as I settled into bed, Angel and Daisy came and snuggled right up against me creating instant warmth. I can say with great certainty that I won’t be cold in bed this winter as the little furry hot pockets keep me nice and toasty!

Feeling refreshed from my nap, I went back to work at my desk and had just finished an article around 4 p.m. when I looked outside and realized it had stopped snowing and almost appeared to be clearing up. It was a balmy 27 degrees out and the sun was going to be setting soon, but I was suddenly struck with the overwhelming urge to take Jazz for a walk. I didn’t do so well walking her last winter. In fact, there were entire weeks when we never got out walking because I couldn’t stand the thought of being cold. Unfortunately, that lack of walking made me squishier than I like, so this year I’m determined to get back out there come snow, sleet, rain, or yetis!

Now this is where the crazy part comes in. A totally sane, warmth-loving person wouldn’t decide near sunset on a frigid windy day that it’s the perfect time for a walk. But I’m the best kind of crazy, so I changed into my walking gear, put on my warm winter walking boots, saddled Jazz with her backpack, donned gloves, and headed out the door. Jazzmin was thrilled! Until she almost fell down the deck stairs from slipping on the ice. After that, she remembered what winter was about and paid better attention.

The wind was still stirring the cold air as we walked and within moment my cheeks were frozen but I really didn’t mind. I was out in the fresh air and Jazz and I were getting much needed exercise! The nice thing about walking in the colder weather is that we never encounter other dogs because we’re the only ones crazy enough to be out. Another bonus is that I figure shivering burns more calories and it certainly makes me walk faster to keep the blood circulating!

The sky during our walk tonight. Yes, there's snow in those clouds.

The sky during our walk tonight. Yes, there’s snow in those clouds.

Though our walk wasn’t very long, it was a great first step toward a winter full of outdoor exercise. Eventually I’ll need to put Jazz’s booties on her and wear a thicker coat, but for this evening, we made do with just her backpack and my thick fleece hoodie. When we returned home, I was so proud of us and I felt like I’d kicked some serious butt, even if it was just my own. To warm myself up, I did the Zumba abs workout and the fun, 15-minute program on a chair thawed my icy bones and had me sweating in no time! It certainly might be more sane to spend the winter snuggled up on the couch covered in kittens, but I prefer to be a bold, brave, and a smidge crazy.

Love and Football (continued)

My little treat tonight.

My little treat tonight.

As last night’s entry on my “love affair” with football turned out longer than I intended, I couldn’t truly say everything I wanted to about the subject. Watching football holds nostalgic significance for me and perhaps that’s another reason why I don’t watch it much anymore. That statement doesn’t seem to make much sense, but hear me out.

While I did watch some high school football games, most of the football I watched was the NFL on television. I also remember watching some arena football games when they tried to make that big on TV for a brief period. Growing up, I remember football on Sundays being about enjoying yummy snacks and listening to my father grumble about his team, the Buffalo Bills, not doing so hot. The Bills did okay for a few years, but overall, I don’t remember them doing exactly stellar. I didn’t really have a favorite team when I was a teenager, I just liked watching the games and I’d root for whatever team or player happened to be running an exciting play at the time.

Another way I remember watching football is not actually watching it, but falling asleep during it. You see, my horseback riding lessons were on Saturday mornings and in the winter, I’d come home almost frozen solid from riding around in a barn for an hour and sometimes helping out afterward. I remember coming home, curling up under a blanket on the big, marshmallow couch in the family room, turning on whatever Saturday game I came across first, and being lulled to sleep by the sound of the commentators. I’d eventually wake up all thawed out and cozy again and by then the TV would be showing the next game. Nowadays, I still almost nod off just listening to football commentators.

When I moved out of my parents’ house to live in an apartment, I finally found a team I wanted to root for. Though I’ve received much ridicule and eyebrow raising for my choice, I still stand by it. The team I chose as my favorite is the Detroit Lions and I’ll explain why. One fall day in 1998, I was watching them play on the TV in the apartment. I remember being impressed by their young quarterback, Charlie Batch, as he took risks that the commentators didn’t agree with. Perhaps I was attracted to the quarterback’s rebellion or just the whole underdog feeling of the team or a combination of many factors, but right then and there, the Lions became my team. I remember talking to my father about the Lions and he’d always tell me that they did really well in the 1950’s. I think the memory of him always saying that is another reason why the Lions still are and always will be MY team. Add into that the fact that my girls are both Leos and that I’ll always be able to watch the Lions play on TV at least once a year, and it’s all good. =)

I admit that I haven’t watched the Lions play or any football really, in at least a year. I don’t even know how my team is doing this year. They’ve had some decent years but they always seem to blow it in the end. Why haven’t I watched? One reason is that I’m usually too busy to watch TV for that long and if I do, I prefer watching a movie. Another reason is that it’s not as much fun anymore. Watching football alone now doesn’t give me the warm, fuzzy feelings it did in the past. My daughters have no interest in watching it and without a reason to have a table full of snacks for everyone to snarf as we watch, I kind of forget it’s still on. I’m sure it doesn’t help that the men I’ve had in my life have always seemed to rank football as a higher priority than me, which dampened my enjoyment of the game considerably. I’m sure I’ll enjoy watching it again someday, snuggled up on a couch with the right man, who even if he rolls his eyes at my choice of teams, thinks it’s awesome that I love football. Because I do still love it, but it just doesn’t fit my life right now. Someday…

Love and Football

Image courtesy of Whattoexpect.com

Today was a warm (for November in NY), blustery, and sunny fall day and it felt like perfect football weather. I’ve never played football outside of gym class in school 100 years ago, but I have watched many games on TV and some in person, specifically the games played by the school football team when I was in 9th grade. That year was when I really took an interest in football and made an effort to learn more about the game.

The reason I took such an interest in football during junior high was, not surprisingly, that I had a crush on a few of the football players. I admit that I’m a girl who likes males who are in good shape and athletic. My desire for athletic men isn’t because I’m so athletic that I need a comparable man to keep up with me. Honestly, I’m not personally very athletic or overly coordinated.

What do I mean by not overly athletic? Well, I throw balls like a girl (because I AM one), I rarely ever connect a bat with a ball if there isn’t a T involved, my basketball layups are ridiculous to watch, and I’m more likely to say “don’t got it” in volleyball than “got it” for starters. Back in school, I’d stand in the outfield praying the ball never came anywhere near me, I never chased the ball in soccer, I thought field hockey was an excuse for girls to hit each other’s shins with wooden sticks (so I avoided the ball at all costs), and I played tennis against the wall more than actual opponents. The only gym sports I enjoyed playing were badminton and floor hockey, and riding horses was as athletic as I ever got. I do however play soccer, basketball (I don’t have a hoop), Frisbee, and football with my girls because it’s fun. Maybe I like athletic men because I believe that a bookworm like me winning over a “jock” is a major victory for bookworms everywhere! I also entertain the hope that an athletic man will be willing to teach me how to play sports better, or at least think it’s cute that I’m a klutz. On the other hand, maybe it’s just because I’m shallow and love muscles; nobody is perfect. 😉

Where was I? Oh yes, 9th grade! That year I was crushing on one football player in particular. He was in my French class and he actually seemed to know I existed, unlike a majority of the other boys in the school. I’d moved to the school a couple years before from a much smaller district and I never really felt like I fit in there. Regardless, this football-playing boy seemed like a genuinely nice person and he was easy on the eyes. I remember I’d walk the family dog Cassie down to the nearby park some afternoons and he’d be there with other local boys playing football on one of the fields. I’d sit on the bleachers, listen to them call plays, and watch them run around with the pigskin. One day in particular stands out in my mind because on that day amid their play calling, the boy I liked called out “Hut, hut, Julie, can you hear me?” I’m surprised I didn’t die of embarrassment/shock/elation right there on the bleachers! He and I had never said a word to each other but he’d just called my name out across the park!

Had I been a bolder girl, I would’ve walked up to him after the game and started a conversation. Alas, I was not a bolder girl; I was a shy, semi-introverted bookworm, so I just watched them finish playing and then walked the dog ahead of them as they left the park. Mind you, he could have come up to talk to me too, but he didn’t. Regardless, I decided it was past time I learn more about football! For purely research purposes of course…

To further my football education, I went to the local library and checked out a book explaining the rules and plays of high school football. It wasn’t a very long book, it had several helpful diagrams, and I recall reading it cover to cover. Amid my “research”, I would also hang out on the hill behind the school football field and watch the team practice after school. I daresay that was one of my bolder moves at that age, but I’m glad I did it. I also attended a few Saturday afternoon home games and stood right on the sidelines to watch. I don’t know why someone didn’t tell me to get my butt somewhere safer, but I learned after a few close calls to keep my eyes open and my feet nimble to avoid being run over by out-of-bounds football players.

Unfortunately, the football-playing boy in question and I never actually had a real conversation. I remember we’d exchange looks now and then and I’m sure I blushed, but that was it. I couldn’t comprehend/accept that such a cute, athletic young man would be interested in mousy little me. The following year, he enrolled in a private school and I never saw him again. Regardless, that experience was enough to pique my interest in football and I continued to learn more about it over the years. That knowledge is lost in rather thick cobwebs these days as I focus on so many other things in my life, but I’ll never forget those breezy fall days full of “love” and football.