The road ends, but the journey continues...

Category: Home Sweet Homeless People (Page 1 of 4)

We all need more Christmas

(this year especially)

The fresh-cut tree stand down the road from us always sets up shop around November 11th and sells out of ‘fresh’ stock (highly contestable IMHO) around Thanksgiving. This has always confused me as the thought of needle drop before Christmas proper and indoor dry tree syndrome does make for a huge holiday fire hazard, if not messy house.

After living in the deep south for almost a decade, I’ve learned it’s common to start with the tree-in-the-house aspect of Christmas decorating to begin not the day after Thanksgiving – which has always seemed strange to me, too – but instead often several days before Thanksgiving. I’ve gotten used to this and kept my thoughts about this seemingly local quirkiness to myself – to each his own, right?

This year, that same stand began displaying its wares around the 17th of November. A tad later than usual. And, those trees did indeed sell out several days before Thanksgiving – after two full tree-lot re-stocking of product!

Meanwhile, I found myself spontaneously delighted to see the emergence of such local ‘normalcy’.

Perhaps it’s just me grasping at snippets of Joy. But why not lean into Joy – however seemingly small or passing?

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it . . .

. . . Joy is not made to be a crumb.

from: don’t hesitate, by Mary oliver

Hubby and I agreed that maybe this year we’d get going with Christmas decos earlier than usual for us.

Almost two weeks ago, as I tidied the house up for our Thanksgiving ZOOM family feast, I also cleared away the place where our new 4ft, pre-lit, artificial tree would be set up for this year’s Christmas.

Why?

It felt good.

It made me happy and expectant.

Because:

We all need more Christmas.

This year, especially.

Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.

Nehemiah 8:10 niv

Snowman table topper pictured in the featured image made by quilt-buddy Roseanne. (Flash wanted his picture taken, too!)

Thanksgiving 2019

– A mini spur of the moment gratitude list –

T – Terry, the love of my life.
H – Home. Wherever we alight if we’re together, it’s home.
A – All Creatures Great and Small, the Lord God Loves Them All.
N – (Finding) Neverland – childhood is precious.
K – Kindness. A little goes a long way but why be chintzy?
S – Snow. On Thanksgiving. The best.
G – Grumpy family. It’s okay to get grumpy sometimes, that’s when the Family gets to show you (me) love when you’re (I’m) the grump.
I – Interest/engagement in the world outside (y)our personal realm makes for a fuller life.
V – Vistas. The views from the peak of our Family’s mountain are the ultimate 360-degree surround sound/visual. Thank you Ma & Dad for preserving its wildness.
I – Inspiration. Found in such vistas and meant to be shared via our (he)art.
N – (Mister Rogers’) Neighborhood – childhood is precious.
G – Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

— How about you? Please feel free to add to this mini gratitude list below —

Keeping you in my heart for awhile…

Note: Something triggered this nostalgic moment and while more on the rough draft side, I thought I’d use it for day three of my “6 years on WP.org” posts.

Denver Mandolin Orchestra Laura Bruno Lilly, Paul Drury, others

Detail of Denver Mandolin Orchestra group photo (circa 1999?) Laura Bruno Lilly (me) – kneeling in front, Paul Drury – tall one in the back


One of the joys of being a performing member of the Denver Mandolin Orchestra was the sense of generational genesis. The turn of the 20th to the 21st century marked my introduction and induction into this motley crew of musicians. A group ranging from violin virtuoso Thereza Stephan doubling on mando; mando greats Eli Karasek, Charlie Provenza, Drew Horton; to mother-daughter and father-son mandolinists sharing music stands during rehearsals and consequent performances. And then there were us guitarists headed by Ron Grosswiler whose collection of historical American classical guitar scores along with Mandolin Orchestra Repertoire from then till now was legendary and not fully revealed until after his death in 2010.
Peppered throughout the DMO’s 23+ musicians, amateurs and professionals alike, we all contributed to the awareness of this largely unknown type of accessible American music. Plus, those like myself who just wanted to play in an ‘orchestra’ with instruments not normally associated with conventional orchestras.
But what I remember most vividly is the memorial service Swallow Hill hosted for one of its own volunteers, and for one of our very own DMO members, Paul Drury, sometime in 2004 (?).
Living within modest means, and one who knew hardship as well as gritty challenges, Paul cared for others. He made sure everyday people got to enjoy simple pleasures – like music. Often, he’d pass on Swallow Hill concert tickets he purchased himself to people he knew marginally (often a little lost in life) – just so they could bask in the healing that is music.
One evening, he died suddenly due to an unperceived advancement in symptoms of diabetic shock…
I hadn’t been a part of the DMO for several years, but was contacted about the jam-session memorial to be held in his honor…an invite to bring my instrument and pluck some of the corny rep we played as a group. And yes, he had a proper musical tribute played by a smaller version of the DMO.
However, it wasn’t until the first strums of Warren Zevon’s Keep Me In Your Heart drifted through the auditorium sound system that the crowd got silent…Paul’s wish for all, sung for the one we had all come to honor that night.

Giving Voice: Homelessness due to housing crisis

Fact: In Ireland, the number of families made newly homeless rose from 39 in January 2017 to 113 in August. A total of 1,698 families are now estimated to be living in emergency accommodation across the country, the vast majority of which were either evicted by private landlords or were unable to afford a rent rise.

Released in October of 2018, the film Rosie “tells the story of a young couple and their four children forced out of their home when their landlord decides to sell the property. Over 36 hours, we see Rosie glued to her phone, juggling normal family life while trying to find a room to sleep in.”
Based upon real life accounts, Irish novelist, dramatist and screenwriter Roddy Doyle put pen to paper giving voice to the increasing number of everyday lower/middle class families being squeezed out of their rental homes into homelessness.

“The potency of the film lies in showing us that the “homeless” are not a caste or tribe whose condition has been ordained at birth, and their situation is not a cosmic punishment for laziness – they are people like everyone else whose situation has been created by economic forces.” From review by Peter Bradshaw

Oh Happy Day – It's a Done Deal!

On Monday, September 17th, my bro and I signed over our folks’ house to a buyer who said, “I fell in love with this house the minute I set foot into it.”
In celebration of this event, I bring you a jam session of a favorite gospel tune, Oh Happy Day, in the spirit of my JazzMan Dad
(jump to 3:05 if you’re not a musician interested in the creative process)

Context of this piece is as follows:

Original youth group recording

This is track 5 from the 1968 album “Let Us Go Into The House Of The Lord”. Lead by Dorothy Morrison-Combs Written by Philip Doddridge Arranged by Edwin Hawkins. Edwin Hawkins was a pianist at Ephesian Church of God in Christ in Berkeley, California when he came up with the popular Latin/Soul version of the song “Oh Happy Day” in 1968. In an October 23, 2009 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, he explained that “Oh Happy Day” was one of eight arrangements he put together for the Northern California State Youth Choir, which was made up of 46 singers ages 17 to 25, and the plan was to sell an album of the songs to finance a trip to a church youth conference in Washington, D.C. The tracks were quickly recorded live in church on a two-track tape machine (industry standard at the time was eight-track), but the records weren’t pressed in time for the trip. They did attend the conference, and the choir placed second in a singing competition, where they performed 2 of Hawkins’ arrangements, but not “Oh Happy Day,” which Hawkins said was “Not our favorite song.”

Me: the bassline beginning at 2:40 through to the end is fantastic! – this is a stellar example of the vibrancy of live performances regardless of the limitations of available recording equipment…wow!

And the performance you might be more familiar with:


Me: this one is a vocal improv that is relatable to the Jam.

Oh happy day (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
When Jesus washed (when Jesus washed)
He washed my sins away (oh happy day)
Oh happy day (oh happy day)

He taught me how to watch, fight and pray, fight and pray
And live rejoicing every, everyday

Oh happy day…

Two years ago on the 17th, I was scheduled to fly back to SC after a Summer of Dad visit. He, instead, changed my plans the day before by having a mini stroke. Hubby quickly cancelled that flight and rescheduled for another flight for the following week.

Dad passed away Sept 22…

September 17th, 2018 we closed on Ma & Dad’s house. Two nights before that, hubby and I slept in Ma & Dad’s empty house for the last time on our faithful air mattress.

A different sort of closing…

Ramblings in the manner of a NaNoWriMo word war

Been back from CO since Saturday the 4th
My folks’ house got listed Thursday the 2nd, then officially on the market on Friday the 3rd  with a Saturday the 4th Open House which yielded lots of foot traffic and 2 possible offers leading to an all cash offer on its 8th day on the market!
On the phone with my cousin a few days before returning to SC, I mentioned I was looking forward to sleeping in my own bed…and then when we finally rolled into town a little after midnight, we discovered mice had been at play while we were away – leaving calling cards in that very bed…AIEEEEE!
All this after admitting to my baby cousin that ‘Home is where your bed is!’ (a major positive affirmation to where we are currently sojourning)…talk about a humbling re-entry into life back in the swamplands.

MamaCass & Naomi on our front porch

MamaCass & Naomi on our front porch


Previously, leaving our little rental house in SC for any length of time, MamaCass stood guard on the porch; grabbing the critters, both rodent and insect, for snacks before they could saunter inside. Now that our beloved porch cat has a permanent home on the other side of town with a proper cat lady, we came home to an empty porch ‘non-greeting’.
And, with our little rental’s insides newly discovered by resident rodents.
Since our return, we’ve been busy de-mousing the premises and trying hard to not skimp on those necessary procedures even if we’re tired, sleepy and needing to clean and dry clothes/bedding/rags with a non-functioning dryer no less. Read: wash at the house then take it all to the laundromat to dry (new dryer installed Wednesday the 8th).
Really things are okay, just that this place that never ever felt like home is even less so without MamaCass on so many levels.
And on so many levels her life reflects our own since moving here:

  • Up and out after our 3 years between homes; her life of producing litters of kitties after kitties – rescued and put on a more healthy life path.
  • Trusting that where we are is where the Lord wants us regardless of it not being the best fit for our true needs/desires/way of life; her trusting us to give her a place of refuge on our porch, even though she wanted to come inside – a time of healing and reconnection, regrouping for what is next.
  • Giving support and caring for each other as a ‘purpose’ during the interim – our commitment to moving on only when our newest responsibility had a real home (our landlord forbids pets, so we could never formally adopt MamaCass, even though we captured her and got her snipped after her second litter appeared on our porch). She is a true South Carolina MamaCat and would not have done well moving with us across country when the opportunities for us opened up.

The fact that she’s finally got a forever home and moved on in her life gives me hope we are close to moving on with our own lives, too.
God’s speed, MamaCass – wish us luck!

“The righteous care for the needs of their animals, but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.” Proverbs 12:10 NIV

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