Four years later…

If trying to find a way when you don’t even know you can get there isn’t a small miracle; then I don’t know what is.

Rachel Joyce
Desk View
February 26, 2022

Four years ago today I held my breath and tapped the Publish button on my newly launched blog. I had no idea what to expect, but thought…why not? And Oneletterup was born. It began as a safe place for exploring & sifting through memories…flipping through musty diaries and the creased pages of letters from loved ones. And not-so-loved ones.

Then I discovered blog “challenges” which encouraged me to go deep and push through to write my truth. I had been in various writing groups over the years so it wasn’t an entirely new type of experience, but this time was better. I was inspired by VJ and Heather and Martha and Sandy and Shelley and Ellen to name just a few. Photography took off for me because of the Tuesday Photo Challenge (Frank offered excellent advice for choosing my new camera!). I was again inspired by fellow bloggers like him and Becky and Cee and Manja and John and the Lens Artists.

Of course everything went off track once the pandemic hit 2 (!) years ago, but blogging reinforced that I was not alone. It was also a place to try to make some kind of sense of what the hell was happening. I have been one of many…sharing and commenting in common disbelief at how upside down everything was/is.

I’m the type of person who diligently (and joyfully) marks anniversaries and rites of passage with photos and journal entries. Tell those stories! Birthdays (must have cake & candles!). Graduations (cake!). Weddings (cake!). First Days of School. Last Days of School. The First Year of Life in weekly photos. I am not sure how to commemorate my 4th year blogging anniversary except to be glad I’m still at it…and grateful to those who have hung in there with me. We’ve had comforting conversations and thankfully sometimes a few laughs.

When I started this blog 4 years ago, I was retired with more free time and now I’m not. Well…yes and no. My current full time volunteer “job” is running a condo board which usually chases out/squashes/silences the writer and photographer in me. Maybe someday that will be subject material for an essay (“I thought High School was over 50 years ago”) or even a memoir (“The Old and the Ornery”) but when you’re in the middle of you-know-what, it’s not the time to pick it apart and discuss.

I’m glad to be here…literally and on WP. Thanks for all your support.
Here’s to better days ahead!

Andrea

November, 2021

Happy New Year….

Thoughts…hopes…for 2022…

Poem by Charlotte Tall Mountain
Art by Melinda Matzell

I was searching through a box of notecards yesterday, looking for something suitable for writing thank you notes when I found this beautiful postcard wedged between 2 envelopes. I had bought it many years ago (probably while on vacation), tucked it away and forgot about it. Somehow it had made its way out of the postcard section and ended up with the notecards. Mmmm…Why was that?

The older I get, the less I believe in coincidences. These days I am always hoping there is a reason for why something is out of place or not quite right or not as it has always been. If there is a reason, there might be a solution. The curse of a fix-it mentality.

So, I took the brand new unsent postcard out of the box and read it. And read it again. And again. I found it to be a comfort…on January 1st…when everyone is saying Happy New Year.

Let’s make that happen.

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Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Four Colors or More

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 5th

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: November 5th

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published on November 5, 2018 during my first year as a blogger. Back in the days “before.” Before life morphed into the relentless surreal swirl that it is now. I probably could have written this today…but in a much different context.

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Quote of the Day…

The idea of perfection always gives one a chance to talk without knowing the facts.

Agnes Sligh Turnbull
kites

The pursuit of perfection.
A perfect plot for the impossible.
As the first few words
Slip out flawlessly.
A fateful pause. Phrase suspended.
Cloudy with doubt.

Rewind.
Breathe.
Begin again.

New words form.
Slightly bent.
Frayed. Rough.
Slowly emerge
One by one
Scraping. Sweating.
Squeezing their way out.
And stick this time.
Flying together.

Ya think we’re related?

Family faces are magic mirrors. Looking at people who belong to us, we see the past, present and future.

Gail Lumet Buckley

~~~

BeckyB’s Squares Challenge: PastSquares

Family blasts
from the
distant and recent
past…

Three baby girls…one generation following another.
From the 1950s to 2021.
Bright smiles. Bright beginnings.
Stories still unfolding.

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 9

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: April 9

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published April 9, 2019 as an entry to a Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. A year later – at the beginning of the pandemic – I was back to watching the nightly news. It was my only connection in real time to what was going on. And that what was literally a matter of life and death around the world. The horror of what unfolded – and I won’t summarize here as I (and probably many of you) don’t need to revisit those images. Now, in 2021, I still watch the news and maintain the hope that I will begin to see less negative and more positive. That has not happened although vaccination sites and listings of how many people got “shots in arms” is often the lead story. I’ll take that as a positive, although there is a still a long way to go. One thing hasn’t changed…I am still looking for kindness to get more than 2 minutes at the end of a broadcast.

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Path

If you stop to be kind you must swerve often from your path.

Mary Webb

I have stopped watching the nightly news. Which is totally unlike me. Usually wanting to know…What Is Going On. The importance of being informed and up-to-date was always at the top of my list. Part of being a responsible citizen.

It seems to me there used to be more balance. The good and the evil. The positive and the negative. Now all I do is wince. Our leaders fighting. Shouting. Accusing. Deaf to the voices of reason…or fairness…or empathy. Especially empathy. Unwilling to even pause and consider a different path.

Nightly Breaking News punches story after story. Announcements line up in 10 second sound bites. Assault…Abuse…Cheating…Lying…. Young child missing…young child found in a shallow grave. Inconsolable parent. Another shooting. Blurry security camera video. One more senseless loss of a sister, a brother.

The news anchor drones on, his face barely changing expression. Night after night.

Rarely would I see kindness…until the final 2 minutes of the broadcast. Showcasing an act of generosity. Compassion. Selflessness.

Good to know there are people still out there…
On a different path.

They deserve more than two minutes of air time.

walking trail

CFFC – Walks, Trails, Sidewalks

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 12

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: March 12

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published March 12, 2019. It’s been 2 years and what feels like a lifetime since I detailed what it was like to vote in our small town election. The 2021 Town Meeting took place this past Tuesday March 9th and, as you might expect, was night and day different from 2019. Arrows taped on the floor directed voters to entrances and exits. Plexiglass barriers separated poll workers and voters. Signs were posted on walls and doors with familiar messages…Masks Required. Hand Sanitizer here. Stay Six feet Apart. Not as shocking as in 2020. By now we’re used to it. At least I am.

By the way…the middle school expansion was voted in…and due to the pandemic…construction proceeded ahead of schedule.

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Give Peace (and Education) a chance

Establishing lasting peace is the work of education; all politics can do is keep us out of war.

Maria Montessori

IMG_8175

Vote YES for the middle school expansion!

Today is voting day in my small town. Or…as it was formerly known…Town Meeting Day. Or, more specifically, Town Meetin’ Day.

Many years ago, it was actually an open meeting for all town residents. Who assembled on folding chairs set up in the town hall. Votes were cast on various budget items and for the election of town officials. Attendees were given an opportunity to stand and voice support or opposition to the matters at hand. Sometimes a paper ballot. Sometimes just a voice vote.

Now, as the town has changed – and the population has increased – we vote in voting booths. In the former high school’s gymnasium. Exactly the same way we vote in the general elections.

Some may say these local elections are not all that important.
I disagree.
We are choosing the individuals who will sit on the School Board. We are voting for the members of the Board of Selectman, which governs our town. Making crucial decisions. Rules affecting how we live, where we live, where we park. Public safety. Fire trucks. Street signs. Police activity.  Water quality. Local businesses also absorbing the direct and indirect ramifications.

Today there are over 20 individual budget items to consider, including the annual operating budget. One item on the ballot – for the 3rd year in a row – is all about education.

The middle school desperately needs to be expanded and renovated. Each yearly proposal has slashed more of its requests to reduce the cost. Letters to the Editor in the local paper shout out We Need This! or A Waste of Money!  Often implying that the senior citizens…or those without school age children…are the reason this hasn’t been approved.

The financial burden of property taxes (which is how our schools are financed) is real. I get that. But I also know that the dollar increase due to this ballot item is not extraordinary. It averages out to a few monthly meals at the local bar and grill over the course of a year. Maybe. Or a weekly latte at the coffee shop.

So I ask myself…why don’t people understand the significance of educating our children to the best of our ability? Why do they want to keep class sizes large and cram kids into a too-small cafeteria? No music room? Art on a cart? Educating the whole child…what happened to that, I wonder….and its ramifications if not done with care. And, yes, with some sacrifice.

As cliché as it sounds, it remains a fact: (Everyone’s) Children are the Future.

My children were raised in a different town than where I currently live. I will always be grateful to the citizens who voted in favor of school improvements and supported the teachers with the salaries they needed and deserved. Despite the sacrifice. I know many of those voters were senior citizens. Who had the foresight – and wisdom – to understand the need. And the significance.

Our children and their education is important.
Voting is crucial.
Let’s not take either for granted.

IMG_8173

Sun Soaked

What a desolate place would be a world without a flower.

Clara Lucas Balfour

~~~

Very much inspired by Dutch goes the Photo’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: Renewal

…please share what brings renewal to you

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While scrolling through my plethora (I love that word) of photographs looking to complete a project, I happened upon this one image (amongst many) of a sunflower. Frank’s prompt for this week immediately came to mind. I stopped scrolling…Renewal!

I remember that beautiful day last fall (last fall? seems like years) wandering through a local apple orchard, but being much more interested in the rows of sunflowers nearby. Many had already been cut away and sold, but a few remained. A singular flower with its face to the sun in particular caught my eye and made me smile.

It still does.

Cee’s Flower of the Day

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: February 5

Fandango’s Flashback Friday: February 5

Wouldn’t you like to expose your newer readers to some of your earlier posts that they might never have seen? Or remind your long term followers of posts that they might not remember? Each Friday I will publish a post I wrote on this exact date in a previous year. How about you? Why don’t you reach back into your own archives and highlight a post that you wrote on this very date in a previous year?

~~~

This post was published February 5, 2019 as an entry for V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #34.

When I wrote this post two years ago it was almost the Superbowl (same quarterback, different teams) – just like it is today. This morning…strangely and coincidentally…I also happened upon a news clip featuring the current “kid correspondent” interviewing the same quarterback.

The hope of the day still remains…inescapably…the same.

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Quote of the day…hope of the day

light in forest

I have a certain way of being in the world, and I shall not, I shall not be moved from doing what I think is right by jealousy, ignorance, or hate.

Maya Angelou

When recently asked about “the haters” by an 8 year old boy, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady responded with a smile.

…the haters? We love ’em! We love ’em back!
Because we don’t hate back.

Just about knocked me off my feet getting dressed one morning last week. While watching Good Morning America’s “kid correspondent” interview football players at the pre-Super Bowl media events.

No matter what you think of TB12 or the Patriots or even football, that answer shines a bright light. What a concept: Love them back.

Perhaps easy for someone like Brady, who is privileged and insulated from those aforementioned haters. Who troll on his Instagram feed and who knows what else.

However…
What a concept for a child to hear from a public persona. A role model even.
And…dare I say…for adults to hear as well.
ADULTS.
Who, it seems, in the last couple of years have grouped themselves into political camps of haters…on one side or the other. Who is in charge in the USA. And who isn’t.

Notice I don’t say haters and non-haters. There is too little visible love on either side. There is just hate, distrust and fear for the “other.” Whether it be the other political party, the other politician, the Other who looks nothing like you or sounds nothing like you. Or doesn’t think like you.

In many cases, this fear slips out…crossing that invisible line…morphing into hurtful anger directed at those you profess to love. Your partner. Your parent. Your sister. Your brother. Your best friend. Your child. Because they disagree with what you hate. Or don’t hate.

How could he believe that?
How could she vote for him?
How could he vote for her?
I just can’t visit them anymore.

Is it fear…or ignorance…
Or perhaps inescapable helplessness.
Doors slamming
As reality tilts and shifts.

Right becoming righteous
When grounded in hate…
Blindly insisting on one way.
Shades of gray disappearing…
Crowding out space for understanding why…
And where do we go from here.

In the end
Reaching for what
is right
begins with
tolerance
respect…
for our shared humanity.

With empathy…
somehow…
someday…
hopefully
we will
inch
closer
to
loving the haters.

At least it’s a start.

IMG_7813 2 copy

This post inspired by V.J.’s Weekly Challenge #34: Reaching
and An Upside Down World

Monday Musings

When you get into a tight place and it seems you can’t go on, hold on, for that’s just the place and the time that the tide will turn.

Harriet Beecher Stowe

Powering through these last weeks of 2020 is proving to be more than I can handle very well. Even though powering through adversity is an often used tool in my skill set drawer, it’s not working right now. Apparently it has gotten rusty.

Writing…amidst the exhausting news of rising pandemic horror, political uncertainties, isolation and various personal conflicts…is just not happening. Life has become more of a free-fall overwhelm into Twilight Zone territory. Last week’s Snow Day post made me realize where I was headed. I know I have plenty of company, but still. So my point today is that I will be taking a break from my presence here, but hope to be back with all my blogging buddies soon. You are all very important to me.

Take care, stay safe and I hope you can enjoy your holidays…whatever they may be.

Dream Big

Every time a woman runs, women win.

Geraldine Ferraro

~~~

Did you see the news? Kristi could be president someday!

The phone tucked under my chin, I had the long coiled cord stretched tight as I stood in the kitchen…as close as I could get to a 12″ television in the corner. I had the news on that July day in 1984 when Democratic Presidential nominee Walter Mondale announced his choice for running mate.

For the first time ever, the Vice Presidential candidate was female. It was blowing minds everywhere. Mine included. Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro of NY was joining former Vice President Walter Mondale on the Democratic ticket for the November election. My mother was the first to call me.

I did see the news! I can’t believe it…Yes she could!

I was as excited as Mom was, if not more so. My daughter Kristi, then just 2 years old and covered with remnants of lunch, was smiling and banging a spoon. A long way to go to the White House, but now it seemed possible. In my opinion, she showed great promise.

I’ll never forget that moment. It triggered my involvement in politics. Parenthood is a powerful motivator for action; but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine a woman being elected President…or Vice President. Not that I ever doubted a woman was capable of doing the job and doing it well. That was never a question – in my mind at least. Perhaps I didn’t dream big enough – or didn’t know I could – but that day in 1984 opened the door of possibility in my mind. And in the minds of many others.

I worked on the Mondale/Ferraro campaign in NH and, when possible, on future campaigns for candidates I believed in…for my daughter and my son who came along 3 years later. For children everywhere. We all know how the 1984 election turned out, but ground had been broken.


I have a box of both local and national political tidbits and swag going back to 1984…

1984 Presidential election collectibles

And then yesterday…36 years later…it happened.

Breaking News…

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be our next President.

Senator Kamala Harris will be our next Vice President.

A highly qualified woman.

Finally.

But while I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last. Because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities and to the children of our country regardless of your gender, our country has sent you a clear message: Dream with ambition, lead with conviction and see yourselves in a way that others may not simply because they’ve never seen it before.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris
November 7, 2020

Peaceful groups of joyful citizens gathered throughout the USA yesterday. Mask wearing was evident in Portsmouth, but even so, I could tell everyone was smiling.


Ragtag Daily Prompt: Tidbit