Wednesday, November 30, 2016
November 30, 2016 - "The Word"
The cover of my "new" Holy Bible.
I say that it is "new", in that it is new to me - though it was actually printed over two decades ago. It's a large, leather-bound Fireside Catholic Parish Edition of the NAB. I've wanted to get one to have as a large "family Bible" for quite a while now... but new ones cost $100 or more. I decided to look for a used one that was still in very good condition. Unfortunately most of the ones I found, over the last several months of looking, have either been much older editions, have been written in, are in "obviously used" condition - or, are still too expensive... $50 or more.
Finally I found this one - which is in "like new" condition... and cost less than $15 with shipping - so it was very much "meant to be".
Next step? A wooden Bible stand to display it on... which I just ordered today. Together they are sort of an early Christmas present to me, from me!
* * *
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
November 29, 2016 - "Abstract (Improvements)"
Construction continues in our neighborhood.
Leaving well water behind for city water lines...
Leaving septic systems behind for city sewer lines...
Improvements are a good thing... I just wish they didn't have to be so, well, "messy". Our yard has been dug up, filled in, dug up again, and filled in again at least a half-dozen times over the last year!
Still... it's a small sacrifice... only a minor inconvenience in the great big scheme of things. There are so many people in the world without access to clean water, let alone running water with consistent water pressure. There are so many who do not have a sewage system to properly dispose of waste, and therefore live in conditions none of us would ever be willing to have to suffer.
As I stand watching the improvements occurring in our neighborhood, I can't help but think of those people... and I pray for them as I give thanks for all that I have been blessed with in life.
* * *
Monday, November 28, 2016
November 28, 2016 - "Abstract (Upgraded)"
First I said I was going to do it as soon as it was available for pre-order...
Then it was available for pre-order and I said, "No... I'll wait."
Well... apparently I'm not too good at waiting. I only lasted two months before caving in and upgrading to the iPhone 7 Plus.
Now I have over 20,000 songs sitting in my pocket at all times... and I still have almost 100GB of free space left on my phone! I find THAT absolutely incredible!
* * *
Sunday, November 27, 2016
November 27, 2016 - "Abstract (Neglected and Exposed)"
Walking around just a small portion of downtown Danbury this afternoon, and it amazes me how much of the town has become either neglected or completely abandoned. Once thriving restaurants, nightclubs, bars and stores sit empty. Even buildings that do still provide a home for businesses are falling into disrepair.
Gone is the art and music scene that once blossomed here. Only the ghosts of the past remain... and if you sit quietly you can almost hear their voices echo in the alleyways.
The shiny finishes of the past are crumbling away... exposing the indifference of our community (or, rather, our "lack of community").
It is a sad scene.
* * *
Saturday, November 26, 2016
November 26, 2016 - "Colony Grill - Myrtle Avenue"
Some places just feel like "home"...
THIS is one of those places for me.
* * *
Friday, November 25, 2016
November 25, 2016 - "Abstract (Vintage Blue Flowers)"
Have I mentioned lately how much I love tag sales?
I really love tag sales!
There. That's it.
* * *
Thursday, November 24, 2016
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Tuesday, November 22, 2016
November 22, 2016 - "Abstract (Decanting Colors)"
Have I mentioned lately how much I love tag sales?
I really love tag sales!
There. That's it.
* * *
Monday, November 21, 2016
November 21, 2016 - "Abstract (Pointy Nostalgia)"
When I was a little kid it actually hurt to try to put strands of lights on the Christmas tree.
Thanks to my extreme sense of nostalgia and an online seller of vintage Christmas items, this year it'll hurt again!
* * *
Sunday, November 20, 2016
Saturday, November 19, 2016
Friday, November 18, 2016
November 18, 2016 - "Abstract (Found)"
I finally found what I had been looking for.
Some people claimed that there was a woman to blame... but I knew it was my own damn fault the whole time!
* * *
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Wednesday, November 16, 2016
November 16, 2016 - "Abstract (Thank You)"
A good chunk of today was spent writing out "Thank You" notes for all who sent cards, flowers and gifts - and showed other kindnesses after the death of my Dad.
It STILL seems too surreal to be real!
(I love and miss you Dad!)
* * *
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
November 15, 2016 - "Rainy Evening Sky"
It's not even 5:00PM, but the sky is darkening and it feels more like 9:00PM.
No... Wait... Actually it's more like "misty".
I'm sitting in the car in the parking lot of a doctors office... waiting. This doctor ALWAYS runs at least 45-minutes late... which is extremely frustrating, especially considering that most of the patients he sees are dealing with anxiety issues!
It's dark... It's cold... It's quiet.
It's actually kind of nice!
* * *
Monday, November 14, 2016
November 14, 2016 - "Abstract (Surprised)"
Today the mailman brought me a wonderful surprise from my very dear friend Brooke: A package of gifts! MoonPies... a Starbucks coffee mug from Atlanta... and several beautiful shells that she collected from Tybee Island and St. Simons in Georgia. These gifts brought a very much-needed smile!
And now I'm making the shells pose for my camera!
Thank you so much, Brooke! I love the gifts... and I love you, my friend!
* * *
Sunday, November 13, 2016
November 13, 2016 - "Abstract (Remembering)"
This morning we were in Stamford for Mass in the Chapel at the Catholic nursing home where my father spent the last years of his life. They celebrated their daily Mass for the intentions of my Dad - thus allowing all of the residents who knew him well and were his friends to be there, as they were not able to attend any of the services we had for him.
It was a very fitting and emotional experience. Today is the Feast Day of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini - also known as "Mother Cabrini". Why is that fitting? Because by the late 1930s my grandparents had already lost quite a few babies. My grandmother prayed to Mother Cabrini - who was the patron for Italian immigrants - promising that if she were to have a baby she would name the child after her. If it was a girl it would be "Francesca Xavier"... if a boy, "Xavier Francis". Well... my grandmother soon became pregnant... and in February of 1941 gave birth to my father. Keeping her promise to Mother Cabrini, she named him "Xavier Francis Pia".
Making today even more fitting was the fact that the priest who celebrated the Mass - Fr. Matthew Mauriello, who knew my Dad quite well - has a special devotion to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini. He took a framed photo of the St. Cabrini and placed it beside the framed photo of my Dad during the Mass. For his sermon he talked about Mother Cabrini's work... and told the story of my Dad's birth and naming.
It was very emotional... and you could tell that Fr. Matthew had a lot of love and caring for my Dad. It was quite beautiful!
Later in the day we went to the cemetery. It was my first time there since the burial a couple of weeks ago. It all seemed so surreal. The ground looks barely disturbed... and the year of his death has not been added to the stone yet. It was almost as if it hadn't happened... and there was this hint of hope that it had all just been a bad dream...
... but it wasn't.
We placed flowers on his grave... as well as on the graves of my grandparents and my sister-in-law and nephew. The flower that is in today's photo is from one of the arrangements from my Dad's funeral... which still looks as fresh as it did on that day over two weeks ago. It was a hint of life continuing, even when surrounded by death.
I knelt in prayer beside my Dad's grave... and as the sunlight beamed down from the sky I offered a prayer of thanksgiving to St. Frances Xavier Cabrini for answering my grandmother's prayers over 75 years ago.
St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, pray for us!
* * *
Saturday, November 12, 2016
November 12, 2016 - "Rake N' Bake"
This morning our little family joined 1,000 other volunteers from the Greater Danbury Area for the 17th Annual "Rake N' Bake" community volunteer project.
Over 75 teams of volunteers met at Brookfield High School early in the morning... and after a blessing led by Fr. Silva of St. Joseph Parish, left the school to rake the lawns of members of the community who are not able to do so themselves due to age or disability. After several hours of raking we all gathered at the school again for lunch.
It was a wonderful experience which our family fully intends to make a yearly tradition from this point on.
* * *
Friday, November 11, 2016
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Wednesday, November 9, 2016
November 09, 2016 - "Abstract (Empty)"
Except for the remnants of water from rinsing, the can is empty.
I don't know exactly "why" or "how" - but somehow that seems to sum up the feeling of today quite well: "Empty".
* * *
Tuesday, November 8, 2016
Monday, November 7, 2016
November 07, 2016 - "The Last Gift"
Living in a Catholic-run nursing home without any sort of income for over half-a-dozen years, my Dad didn't have much in terms of possessions. He entered there with next to nothing... and what he had at the time of his death was primarily things that were gifts to him from family and friends. He had a closet and dresser full of clothes - most of which he never wore. (There were a few outfits he felt very comfortable in... and didn't feel the need for much else). His most valuable possessions were the family photos he had spread all across his side of the room... and several little religious items he had been given.
Despite not having much to give, my Dad loved being able to give things to people. Sometimes he'd be given religious items like Rosaries or Saint Medals from visiting religious... and, being as these were the items he had that he could give, he usually ended up giving them as gifts to other people. One day he gave me a small wooden desktop Crucifix, which he said he really wanted and needed me to have. It has been on my prayer altar ever since. A few visits later he gave my son a St. Benedict medal... and gave a small gold single-decade Rosary to my daughter.
This particular item, however, was the final gift. It's a brass wall cross with a figure of the Risen Christ, instead of the Crucified Christ. Once again he felt that he really wanted me to have it... that he "needed" to give it to me. It had been given to him when the priest who he had come to know quite well was transferred to a different part of the Diocese. It had hung on the wall in the priest's office... and he chose to gift it to my Dad when he left. My Dad, in turn, chose to gift it to me... and it has hung on the wall beside my desk ever since.
It's not only a daily reminder of my Dad and my faith - it's also a reminder of true charity and love to me. It reminds me of the story of "The Poor Widow's Contribution" from the Bible. It is told in both the twelfth chapter of the Gospel of Mark and the twenty-first chapter of the Gospel of Luke:
"He (Jesus) sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, "Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood." - Mark 12:41-44.
My Dad did not have material wealth... but what he had was far more valuable. He had love... and the willingness and desire to give all of himself and what little he did possess, out of that love. It was what he had... and so it was what he gave.
This cross will forever be a reminder to me of what is truly important in life: "Love". Personally, I cannot think of a more perfect "last gift" for my Dad to have given me.
* * *
Sunday, November 6, 2016
November 06, 2016 - "Cold-Filtered Nostalgia"
It wasn't the first beer I ever had, for in all honesty that beer came many years earlier. It was, however, the first beer I ever had with my Dad. Just a day or two after my 21st birthday... sitting at the bar in Colony Grill on Myrtle Avenue in Stamford, CT - we ordered a couple of bottles of MGD and sat and chatted, sipping our beers as we waited for our to-go order of pizzas to be ready.
It was a simple moment... nothing very extraordinary. It was incredibly meaningful to me, though. I basically grew up in this place. Countless times my Dad and I had sat together in one of the booths along the wall opposite the bar... eating pizza and drinking sodas. I would watch the old guys sitting at the bar, and listen to them talking about their "remember when?"s. I heard conversations about wars and conversations about baseball games. I heard jokes I was way too young to be hearing and arguments about things of which I had no clue. I was in awe... and couldn't wait for the day I'd get to sit there with those guys.
Now - there I was - finally able to (legally) drink... sitting at that very bar with my Dad... nursing a beer and chatting about nothing in particular. I don't even remember the conversations... but I remember the moment... and the feeling of that moment.
Today marks two weeks since I lost my Dad. I'd give just about anything to be able to sit at that bar with him and chat over an ice-cold crappy beer just one more time.
Instead I'm sitting at home... thinking of him... tipping my bottle in the air in his honor.
I love you Dad!
* * *
Saturday, November 5, 2016
November 05, 2016 - "Abstract (Quickly Bundled)"
I only had time for one photo today... and even then it was a rather rushed photo taken with my iPhone as I made my way toward the entrance of a grocery store just to pick up an Entenmann's Coffee Cake for a late-morning meeting.
OK... That's it. Got to run!
* * *
Friday, November 4, 2016
November 04, 2016 - "Surreal"
One week ago today I was standing at the lectern, giving the eulogy at my father's funeral mass.
This Sunday will mark two weeks since his death. Two weeks. That's half of a month! How did that happen?
Today also marks sixteen years since the death of my sister-in-law and my nephew. Sixteen years. How did that happen?
It all still seems so surreal.
* * *
Thursday, November 3, 2016
November 03, 2016 - "Abstract (Accidental)"
Today I've got the light box and lamps set up and I'm photographing lots of stuff to be listed for sale online. I've taken so many photos of objects today, that I'm not really feeling up for doing much else - photographically-speaking, that is. So this "accidental photograph" will just have to do because, for some reason, I'm actually kind of liking it.
* * *
Wednesday, November 2, 2016
November 02, 2016 - "(delete)"
As many of you already know, I do NOT support either of the presidential candidates. Actually, even before the primaries, there wasn't a single candidate with either party that I felt I could give 100% support to.
After the primary elections were over, I wrote to all of the candidates for each office that is up for election. In addition to President of the United States, my little corner of the state will be voting for one of our two U.S. Senators... plus our Representative in the House as well as the State Senator and State Representative for our district. That makes for a total of five offices and twelve candidates (including the Vice Presidential running-mates, that is).
I sent each and every one of them letters expressing concerns over certain issues and criticizing certain voting records and/or political positions they have taken. The responses were quite surprising!
Out of the eight candidates for the four state-level offices, I received a total of six responses - two from Democrats and four from Republicans. All four of the Republican responses were form-letter replies which said pretty much the same thing: "We've received your message and appreciate your bringing your concerns to our attention." That's it. No real interaction. No "agreeing" or "disagreeing" with anything I wrote - yet no indication that what I wrote would have an impact in any way, shape or form. Both of the Democratic responses were also form-letter replies saying pretty much the same thing as each other - yet this time it was a justification for their position and how they felt it would be "wrong" for them to vote against the 2016 Democratic Platform.
Out of the four candidates (including running-mates) for the Presidency, I received responses from only two. On the Presidential-side I only heard back from the office of Secretary Hillary Clinton. On the Vice-Presidential-side I only heard back from the office of Governor Mike Pence. With Gov. Pence it was, once again, a typical form-letter response... again basically saying "Thank you for your message and your concerns." Not much else to it. With Secretary Clinton, however, the response was "Thank you for your support - and welcome to 'Team Hillary'!". This kind of confused me, because - just as with my letters to all of the other candidates - there was absolutely nothing in what I wrote that would even remotely suggest that I was supporting that campaign. Actually, it was quite the opposite. My letters were more along the lines of: "Here's why I currently feel that I cannot bring myself to support you. Please point me towards information that you feel would convince me otherwise." At least the Clinton campaign responded, though... which is more than I could say for Mr. Trump, who apparently couldn't even be bothered to set up an auto-reply!
The thing is that out of the eight candidates whom I received responses from, I never received any sort of follow-up response from seven of them. On almost a weekly basis, however, I've received e-mails from the Clinton campaign - the contents of which seem to suggest that the campaign assumes that I am a supporter who wants to be kept up-to-date on their goings on.
I still cannot bring myself to support either of the candidates for President of the United States. What will I do once I'm in the voting booth next Tuesday? I don't know. I might just write in a vote for my dog, because she is certainly more qualified and would do a much better job than any of the current candidates (and that includes the third-party candidates as well).
In the meantime - despite repeated attempts to "unsubscribe" - I keep getting e-mails from the Clinton campaign... and I just keep deleting them, because I figured that's what she'd want.
(God help us!)
* * *
Tuesday, November 1, 2016
November 01, 2016 - "Still Smiling"
A while back - maybe three or four years ago - my Dad was rushed to the hospital. As soon as we got the call that he was there we rushed down to Stamford from Danbury. I can't remember the exact reasons why, but for whatever reason he was not allowed to have flowers in his room... and couldn't have any snacks or treats. He was absolutely miserable! So, before making our way up to his room, we stopped off in the gift shop and bought him this brightly colored plush smiling-face flower... and a little football. The flower was to make him smile... the football was so he could play catch with the pretty nurses. I don't know if he ever used the football... but he did smile when he saw the flower. When were cleaning out his room last week I found both the flower and the football, together on the corner of his dresser - surrounded by photos of his seven grandchildren - and other little mementos he collected over the years. After all this time the flower was still smiling... and still works too, because seeing it there on his dresser brought a little smile to my face as well. Now the football rests on my dresser... and the flower is tucked in the corner of my prayer altar, so I will see it every single day and remember to smile.
* * *