Thursday, November 25, 2021

So Much to Be Thankful For...Including YOU!

I can't even begin to express how much your comments have meant to me this past week. I was very down when posting my tale of health woes, and then things got worse: A torn meniscus, again, and sciatica, again, different leg than last time, though! 

At first, I was angry at myself for posting when I was down. It seemed weak, unworthy. And of course, I am weak and unworthy, yet I have the love of the Holy Trinity, and all the angels and saints! It was good to be reminded and to strike down false pride. I have such an unfortunate tendency to false pride. Ugh.

Flowers, a palm-tree, and turning leaves, all at the same time at the little park I like!

So, I've been down, but not out! In fact, the worse I feel, the more often I pray, the more often I go to Mass, and the more determination is given me to carry on! Because although I am just a shy, puny person, with no great credits to my name, I can still be an instrument of the Lord, and light my little candle to brighten someone's day, be they human or animal! 

I used to sing that song at summer camp: "It is better to light, just one little candle, than to stumble in the dark...and if everyone lit, just one little candle, what a bright world this would be!"

Thank you for "lighting a candle" for me with your kindness.

Yes, much to be thankful for this year! And every day! Yesterday I was determined to run errands, leg or no leg, so to speak. I just could not delay any longer, and be able to make Thanksgiving dinner. And God placed me to see an altercation with a disturbed man attacking a woman, and call 911. And I saw a loose dog (a chiweenie), but sadly was unable to catch him. But I did alert our wonderful local rescue that just swarms like a SWAT team when a dog is reported running loose, and I got a message he had been captured. And I found a "blow mold" (those light-up hard plastic snowmen and Santas and so forth that folks put on their porches and lawns) that I could afford! I put him (it's a snowman) in my room and had him lighted all night, I was so excited. At the thrift store where I got the snowman, I was also given a big bag of leftover Chick Fil-A cooked pieces, free! There was 8 quarts of frozen chicken in there! And I put out the trees!

This year, feeling puny, I just put up a few ornaments on the turquoise tree to make a "fiesta tree" to fit our Southwestern area.

Can you see my German good-luck pig ornament on the old-fashioned tree?

And I reread all the wonderful comments, as the icing on the cake.

I can smell my turkey in the oven, hooray! And I hope you are having a sweet day. My son decided not to visit after all, and my husband doesn't celebrate any holiday, but I hope you have someone to share the day with. And if not, know that you are not forgotten, and that all the angels and saints, bidden or not, are all around you and concerned for your happiness! And remember that God's eye is on the sparrow! 

These fine fellows wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!

Much love and kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame


Friday, November 19, 2021

Not So Fast

I have been out-of-pocket because of a very bad flare-up of my arthritis and my liver problems. My diabetes went bonkers, too.

For years, I have tried to find something that would return my life to nearer normal in terms of health. I searched and searched for a doctor, a medicine, a method, an herb, something to return me to normal, to end the pain, to end the inability to stand or walk for long, to end the diabetes, to fix the liver. My friends, my family, my husband all impatiently wanted me to "be fixed." Not for my benefit, but for theirs. 

Despite that, I no longer pray simply to be "fixed," but to be at peace with God's will. I pray for strength, for grace, for "oomph" in the face of my medical problems. When I taught grade school, my classes always knew my mantra when handing out treats, coloring pages, and so forth: "You get what you get, and you don't throw a fit." 

It's hard to "keep in life" with medical problems. But I'm trying. I'm trying to stay in the game. I saw so much beauty, so many interesting things this past week! Yes, I regret I can't walk around much, but I do walk around. Better 100 steps than no steps!

hot chile peppers bright peppers getting ripe

I don't want to stop trying to get better, but I want to stop feeling ashamed that I can't be 100% again. It's a fine line, to accept that some things are simply God's will, and to keep trying. I think there is a lot of blame in our society, for those who have medical problems. There's suspicion that they "caused it," that they don't try hard enough to get better, that they're lazy or unworthy or something. That they are flawed. Oh, God forbid someone is flawed in the time of Instagram and Facebook!

red autumn winter berries ash tree

I went to the botanical garden here almost every day this week. I looked at the plants. Some aren't doing great. Should they feel ashamed? Should we question God's handiwork? Some have broken limbs, or their trunk is twisted, or their flowers small, or their berries not as bright as others' are. And they are all beautiful to me! To be growing in the harsh desert! All are intriguing and amazing!

twisted weeping mulberry

My main mantra is, "Keep on keepin' on" and in that spirit, I am! I heard about a possible way to help my liver and help my inflammation, maybe help the high blood pressure and diabetes: Fasting.

I am fasting and eating a small amount once a day. I am going to have some 48-hour fasts, too, after these first five days of 24-hour fasts are done. I think every religion on earth has a lot of fasting involved, at least in olden times. I know our priests fast every Friday, but they do not mention it.

autumn leaves and palm tree in desert new mexico

My first day of no food until 9 p.m. was tough. I had a small bowl of soup and six green olives and was still very hungry. The second day, better. I had more soup and some crackers, and was still a bit hungry. The third (today), better. I had half a hamburger and felt full. I hope tomorrow and the following day will be better still! And then the two-day fasts: That's where the real benefit to health is supposed to kick in. I'll let you know! 

Have you ever struggled with the expectations of others towards you? Have you ever tried fasting?

last roses of autumn 2021

Sharing "the last roses of autumn" with you!

Remember this in times of doubt:
Your heart's like a ruby,
Your mind's like a pearl.
Your faith's like a diamond:
You're a gem of a girl!

Kind regards,
Olde Dame Holly

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

It's Beginning to Look...

...a lot like Christmas downtown! 

downtown las cruces christmas tree 2021

I am noticing that all around, decorating seems early again this year! I don't know if it's from the COVID shock or just what, but lights are going up, garden flags with Christmas motifs are flying, some wreaths are on doors and gates, and some trees are up!

Pretty Christmas deer 2021 las cruces

I am spotting the trees in coffee houses, cafes, and gift shops. I have not seen one in a home window yet. And I'm seeing Santa here and there, too! I love what they call "blowmolds," like the ones above and below. I remember a lot of them from my youth.

Santa and reindeer 2021 las cruces

Aw, our town is so poor that Santa can have only two deer. Luckily Santa seems a bit undersized so it won't be too hard for them to pull him. Remember in the poem "The Night Before Christmas," when Santa is described as "a right jolly old elf?" He used to be kind of small. The poem also says,

Now what to my wondering eyes did appear,

But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

Now he's big and rather rotund. Inflation, I guess. And two of those big-sized deer must be equal in deer-power to the original eight.

I am happy my cattycorner neighbor has a big light-up turkey in the front yard! We must give Thanksgiving its due! Of course, a lot of folks mingle Thanksgiving with Christmas, and I do love a jumble of holidays. 

The dogs have a special perch right in the front window, so they can reign over the street. They do not like the big glowing turkey at all. Bark-bark-bark. Bark-bark-bark.

Driving downtown, I stopped and asked this artist if I could take his photo while he worked. And assured him that "no" was perfectly acceptable. But he was happy to oblige. We have some really good artists in town. Some of the students at the university are really talented, too. I love when the businesses paint pretty scenes on their windows at holiday times.

Lo Brau Art painting a window in Las Cruces 2021

He also has a little baby polar bear cub looking out of the window next to this one! It's going to be really cute when finished. Did you know that polar bears have transparent fur? And that their skin is black? 

Have you seen any Christmas trees or blowmolds up around your area?

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Indian Summer? And Swept Paths and Yards

It is suddenly much milder than it was during the last days of October. Last night was "supposed" to have a low of 39, which is, as my husband likes to say, "Only 7 degrees above freezing!"

But instead, the low was only 50, and today had bouts of clouds but ultimately cleared in late afternoon, and was very mild and pleasant.

I went to the very old cemetery, San Albino Cemetery, I wrote about on the blog before. (<---Link) Many people were there, and many of the graves had been cleaned, and new flowers and decorations placed. 

Beautiful San Albino Cemetery, All Souls Day, 2021

Some of the graves had simply been "swept." 

"Swept" grave in San Albino Cemetery, Mesilla, NM 2021 All Souls Day

[An aside: Did you know that in Colonial times, "swept yards" were de rigueur? Yes, no one of any account would have had grass in their yard or along their garden paths. I can remember, as a very small child in Arkansas, helping smack wetted clay soil into a hard, smooth surface along the garden paths. We always put a "slip" of clay on our paths, and raked the loose soil around the paths constantly. I have something of a "swept" yard here, too, in parts.]

This family is taking no chances. Not only is there a lovely old statue of Blessed Mother Mary gracing the grave, but a smaller statue of Mary as she appeared as the Virgin of Guadalupe has been wired onto the iron fence in front. Do you see the rotund little "mariachi" musician playing his horn to the lower right? 

Blessed Mother Mary statues and mariachi statue in San Albino Cemetery 2021

I am still not used to these ground-level graves. In New Orleans, everyone must be buried in vaults above ground. I was very frightened of the idea of being below the ground! But my sister-in-law, and many visitors to New Orleans, were uneasy with all the crypts, like a stone maze, a stone city, in those old cemeteries. 

During my visit to the cemetery, I sat on a bench next to a little sign that said, "Welcome Steelers Fans." I am unsure about who the Steelers are exactly, other than being a football team, but I felt they would not mind if a neutral party sat on the bench to pray. 

steelers fans San Albino cemetery 2021

I keep seeing a television advertisement with a frail-looking Joe Namath hawking some kind of Medicare supplemental policy. I was astounded: I recall him as "Broadway Joe," the good-looking, vital, sinuous quarterback of the New York Jets. Now, I could easily tackle him. 

I brought along Rosaries with me, and my favorite Rosary to pray, and on as many of the neglected, worn crosses as I could, I placed a Rosary. I chose the graves where no trace of a name remains. Sometimes families die out, even our great Mexican-American dynasties here. I had both beautiful Rosaries, and the free Rosaries from the missions. I need to get more Rosaries because dozens of plain crosses remain unadorned.

I said the Rosary many times because there are so many to pray for, so many to remember, and of course, we must remember the unremembered, if that makes any sense. Of course, God remembers us all, down to our last atom! What a comfort!

On the way home, I saw this arched gate, which I just love. It is pretty no matter the season. A "ristra wreath" adorns it this fall.

ristra wreath old mesilla 2021

Do you have unusual cemetery traditions in your area, or strange gardening traditions, like "swept paths?"

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame

Monday, November 1, 2021

Welcome, November, You Blustery Rascal

And so the year rolls along, and now we are in November. But we are not done with "witches," oh no. For now comes the time that sees storms known as "witches" in the Great Lakes area -- The Witch of November. You may recall the storm that sank The Edmund Fitzgerald referred to in the Gordon Lightfoot song thusly - "...when the Witch of November comes stealing!" 

There will be bluster. There will be leaves down and underfoot, crunchy or sodden by turns. There will be sad-looking gardens that you'd swear were neglected for years, after just a single blast from November's weather cannon. 

fall leaves changing color 2021 pecans yellow golden

Here in the southern desert, the leaves will finally change. It has begun!

pecan leaves changing color in fall 2021

For Catholics, November is the month to pray the Rosary daily and help the souls in Purgatory. It may just be here in the very different borderlands area, but Rosaries said on All Saints Day (today, November 1st) and most especially on All Souls Day (November 2nd), if said in a graveyard, have tremendous oomph, and can lift a soul right out of Purgatory, one per Rosary. If that doesn't get a good Catholic busy with the beads, I don't know what will. Of course, you will find me at the cemeteries today and tomorrow, favorite Rosary in hand. (I know Rosary is not usually capitalized, but I'm capitalizing it!)

pecan tree yellow golden leaves 2021

November will bring us Thanksgiving Day, a holiday I remember with especial joy, and with such bittersweet feelings. I found a YouTube video by someone who calls herself "Little Poet," and in the video, Little Poet sings a song she wrote, "Thanksgiving Day." It's very evocative of those bittersweet feelings!

I never used to watch YouTube videos except for do-it-yourself type of things, but now I watch Little Poet as well as a woman who found herself without much of a retirement, Dee Burks. Dee is sharing how to have a better retirement. Dee is no-nonsense but enjoyable and kind. Little Poet struck me as sugar-sweet at first, but I enjoy it. Take a look at her "channel." All these terms are new to me, and I don't seem to be finding many other "YouTubers" I like, except for those two, but I am sure there are more good ones. And many more bad ones!

I hope your November will start off beautifully, continue contentedly, and finish fantastically! 

Hallowe'en Roundup: At least 170 trick-or-treaters! I made 170 little bags, that's how I know it was at least that many kiddos. I also had two large bags of Smarties and one of Reeses Peanut Butter Cups "just in case" and boy am I glad I did. But it wasn't just kiddos. The demographic changed during the 2-hour window, which is really 3 hours long because the late-comers are swarming until 9. 

At first, while still not full dark, it's the neighborhood moms with very little kids, and some with their dogs, too. I have special dog treats handy for them. The cutest thing was when I handed two dog treats over, and the family looked like they were going to just burst. Finally one child spoke up, saying, "There is a chihuahua in the wagon." Oh my, the poor chihuahua was getting overlooked! He got a treat, too, and the relief was palpable. 

Then, when fully dark, it's neighborhood elementary age and tweens thronging the street. And this is also when very young parents with their new babies in strollers come. The parents are dressed up, as they are barely out of their teens themselves, and the baby always "matches" them. It is SO sweet, and they are SO proud of the baby.

As it gets later, the teens arrive, and are boisterous, but not bad. Sometimes I give a good shriek at their gory costumes and feign fear, and they love that, but anxiously ask if I'm too scared. 

Then there is a definite change, as very little kids start arriving again, this time with parents also carrying "calabasas" for candy. The costumes are pretty threadbare all around. These are our regional neighbors from the El Paso and Juarez area, as evidenced by their license plates.

Some people in our area get angry at these families for coming up from El Paso and Mexico, but I give the parents a lot of credit for bringing the children to an area they know is safe and that will let them enjoy a bountiful amount of candy. The shy smiles of the parents, too, is heartwarming. Unaware I can tell what they are saying, I hear many touching things. Few outside of this area understand the abject poverty of Juarez.

Not one child, not one adult, failed to say "thank you" for their treats! 

The candy necklaces and the glow sticks were the hits of the night. Next year, I am getting more glow sticks, because I ran out.

I hope your Hallowe'en was as fine as mine was!

Kind regards,

Holly, The Olde Dame