Read any good books lately?

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I love books. I think I have a book gene. Bookstores are one of my favorite places. Libraries also rank high on my list of great places to be. The first time both of my daughters were in school full time and I didn’t have to work I went to the library by myself. I know that is sad but it was exciting to me. My Dad had an extensive library with books on many different topics. Many of his books had post-it notes attached to the pages. His soft covered books had sentences or entire paragraphs underlined in pencil with notes written in the margins. Sorting through his books when he died was a huge undertaking but my sister and I did it. More than once in our frustration we commented we were never going to buy another book. Of course that didn’t happen. I mean how could it?

I read real books but I also read e-books. I enjoy highlighting paragraphs using the various colors or looking up the definition of a word with a tap of my finger. I haven’t mastered finding things after I underlined them but I think that is my lack of me being techno savvy.

The little bookmark icon in e-books is helpful and cute. I have used store receipts, clothing tags and even a tissue when I can’t find a bookmark for a print book. Folding the corner over isn’t something I do. My favorite bookmark is one that belonged to my Dad. I actually gave it to him. It is currently marking my place in my guilty pleasure book by James Patterson – The People vs Alex Cross.  There is nothing worst than when your bookmark falls out. Well, dropping your book in the bathtub or leaving it somewhere isn’t great either. Really not good if it is a library book.

Over the past few years, I have talked about writing a book. Since last fall I stopped talking and started writing. Below is a brief summary of my work in progress:

Once a month, my firefighter husband and I sat down with our calendars to coordinate life. We negotiated, adjusted and agreed on our schedules. Each month, I ended that conversation with “No Surprises, let me know if it isn’t going to work but no surprises.” Most mornings I reminded Bruce and our daughters of the plan. Then one day it all changed.

No Surprises is the story of my husband’s line of duty death and my journey as I navigate a national tragedy with faith, family and the FDNY. The book is set within the framework of The Pile, The Pit and The Plaza – the names of the World Trade Center since September 11, 2001. The WTC and I traveled together on remarkable journey which I believe offers a context for many of life’s experiences. First there is the incident. The incident that sets your life in a direction you never expected –  a diagnose, an accident, words spoken in haste, job lost, betrayal, death of a loved one, a terrorist attack. The event that shakes you to the core. In the aftermath there is a massive pile. A pile of things that need to be dealt with – options for treatments, decisions about the everyday, paperwork to be completed, plans to be canceled or rearranged, funerals to be planned, keepsakes to be shared, memories to be cherished. Where do you start? The immediate replaces the important or maybe the important replaces the immediate. Eventually maybe after days or months or even years the pile is gone, and you recognize there is a pit. A void left by what was taken, a hole left by finally sorting through the pile. Now what? How do you fill the hole to make it whole? How do you move forward now that the pile is gone? How do you move from the pit to the plaza?

Blog posts have been few and far between because of my work in progress but I hope to share sections of the work in progress and other thoughts right here so stay tuned.

So to answer my own question, read any good books lately?

Yes!

  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain
  • Judas by Amos Oz

 

How about you?

12 in 2017

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I decided I would do my end of the year recount using twelve photos of mine from 2017.

One of my 2017 favorites on multiple levels. First it is a great photo of my daughter. Second I love the little girl  statue standing up for herself being fearless. 2017 was a year of women doing that – standing up. And to me the best thing about women standing up was they were standing up together. Women backing up and coming along side other women. We need each other. We are stronger together.

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Visiting the Ringling Circus Museum in Florida with friends was a highlight but bittersweet with the reality that the days of the Ringling Brothers and Barnum Bailey Circus were over in May 2017.  Travel Tuesdays – The Ringling

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My second grandson was born on March 30, 2017.

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My first grandson turned two years old on April 29. He has decided my name is mommom.  I am fine with that. I babysat both of my little men on Mondays and Tuesdays for June – end of August 2017. It was fun and I slept well.

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Family vacation with my girls and their guys was a delightful week at the end of May. We rented a house in Annapolis, MD with day trips to Baltimore and the National Zoo in Washington, DC. Best part just being together. Added bonus being together for both of my daughters’ birthdays – 5/31 & 6/3. Fun moment was the Memorial Day parade. I love a parade. When was the last time you watched a small town parade? Add it to your to do list for 2018 you won’t regret it.

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The 9/11 Tribute Center grew into the 9/11 Tribute Museum in June 2017. Our new location at 92 Greenwich Street has the potential for educating large numbers of people but has not been without challenges as we settle into our new space just a tad further away from The Plaza. Still telling my story whether to school groups or on walking tours or in the galleries. Blessed to volunteer with the most amazing group of people.

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June 14, 2017 was my Mum’s 85th birthday. A few weeks later we gathered with old friends and family to celebrate her.

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I have seen Come From Away four times and I would see it again without hesitation. If you only see one Broadway show in 2018, make it Come from Away. If you plan to see more than one, add it to our list.  Come From Away

“We honor what we lost. But we also commemorate what we found!” Come from Away

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I have been to Seattle, WA many times. My daughter and her husband lived there for nine years. September 2017 was the first time I went to Seattle to visit Seattle. After my trip, I told Emily I understood why she loved Seattle. Had a great trip with good friends.

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On the way home from Seattle, I spent the weekend with family in Denver, CO.  I hope to spend more time with extended family in 2018. Aunts, Uncles, all manner of in laws, cousins, nieces, nephews and great nieces and nephews are blessings.

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Family and those who are family through years of friendship came together to celebrate and remember my Mum.

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S.Lewis

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This is my number one photo for 2017. My daughter introducing her son to her grandmother, my Mum aka Nanny. Neither of my daughters could make it to my mother’s party in June. They decided they would both visit her on the Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. My sister graciously opened her home again for a mini get together that day was my mother’s last good day she died less than a week later on September 8.

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”   Dr. Seuss

 

Travel Tuesdays – The Ringling

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Recently while I was visiting friends in Florida we spent the day at The Ringling (ringling.org) in Sarasota. The Ringling includes Ca’ d’ Zan – the winter residence of John and Mable Ringling, the Circus Museum and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art as well as beautiful grounds and a performing arts center. 

John and Mable Ringling had no children. Mable would predecease John and so when he died in 1936 he left the mansion and art collection to the people of Florida. It is worth a visit.
 Ca’d’Zan means House of John in a Venetian dialect. “The couple hired Dwight James Baum, an acclaimed New York architect, to create their mansion in the Venetian Gothic style. Begun in 1924 and completed in 1926, the house cost $1.5 million to construct, or approximately $20.9 million today.” You can only enter the house on a guided tour. The mansion is lovely. Mable’s attention to detail as mentioned numerous times by our docent is everywhere. Mable even had the back of the medicine cabinet doors painted with scenes of nature. The ceilings have beautiful sometimes whimsical murals and the chandeliers are exquisite. The chandelier in the main living space, The Court, hung in the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. John and Mable bought most of their furniture and fixtures from auction houses in New York. The mansion is decorated with the original furniture. Having taken quite a few tours, I can tell you a house still containing the original furniture is not the norm. Throughout the house there are stands with photos taken by Mable that give an additional insight into her daily life at Ca’d’Zan. 

After the tour, my friends said “it’s your choice – art museum or circus museum?” I responded “oh, that is tough. Should I go with my inner child or be a grown up?” My friends commented they were confident that they knew what I would pick and they were right – Circus Museum. As much as I enjoyed the beautiful gardens and learning about the mansion, the Circus Museum was my favorite. It brought back memories of attending the circus as a child. The smells, sounds and sights all came flooding back with wonder and awe. Things I hadn’t thought about in years. It was interesting because I had taken my children to the circus but the memories that bubbled up were from childhood. The fear that someone would get eaten by a lion or that the guy would fall off the tightrope. My delight when the little dogs jumped over each other or my amazement at how the performer could stay balanced on the galloping horse. The sight of elephants parading and the silliness of the clowns. The Circus Museum has a wonderful “train set” display that depicts the circus coming to town and explains the process. It was fascinating. There was a certain sadness that hung in the back of my mind has I explored the Circus Museum. The knowledge that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus was no more.

Check out my photos below. And if you are in the area, plan a visit. It is a little pricey but worth it. Thank you to my friends who “treated me” to a great day.
    

In this nation

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This photo is of a sign that hangs in my daughter’s living room. I have read it numerous times and often thought won’t it be great if  it was true not just for her house, or even just my house but what if it was true for our nation. What if we could say:
In this nation

We work hard & help others

We tell the truth

We practice patience

We smile

We say I’m sorry

We keep promises

We laugh

We speak kindly

We show respect

We love one another

There are days we would miss the mark but couldn’t we at least try.

Remedial class

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I have often commented to friends that I am pretty sure I am in the remedial class when it comes to learning life lessons. Seriously if there is such a class I am in it. It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It is just the way it is. For example, last year in Children’s Bible Quizzing we studied the book of Exodus. The story of Moses with the burning bush is one of my favorites. Moses out in the wilderness doing his job of tending sheep and God shows up. Take your sandals off. Holy ground. “I AM WHO I AM” All great stuff.

What stuck with me last year was Moses asking “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God responding “I will be with you…” I loved that response. God didn’t say “Moses, you were the Hebrew baby in the basket, you were the young man in Pharaoh’s court, you are a murder, the shepherd.” He says “I will be with you.” This was an aha moment for me. Really that is what it is all about God is with us. Immanuel means God with us. I mentioned it to friends. In conversation with my pastor, he commented that Moses actually asked the wrong question. Moses should have asked “who was God?”  Yeah, right. That is worth pondering, too. The main thing still goes back to God saying “I will go with you.” I was passionate about this. I pondered it  I excitedly  shared this new understanding when I spoke at Le Tourneau and College of the Ozarks. Good stuff.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. I have been invited to share my September 11 at a hearing on terrorism. Did I mention the hearing is in Brussels, Belgium at the European Parliament? An amazing opportunity but I am pretty sure they have the wrong person. No, a real invitation to speak arrives via email. Then a telephone call. All confirmed by September 11 Families Association. This is legit.  I am humbled by the opportunity but remember I am the ballet teacher. This is a “running with the big kids” event. I am a sit on the floor with kids person.

Yesterday I emailed some friends to ask them to pray for me as I embark on this amazing adventure and as I sat in my study I thought “who am I that I should speak at the European Parliament.” And then it clicked! I asked the wrong question but answer was still the same – “I will go with you.”

 

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getting back in the groove

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groove

Sometimes with writing (blogging) as with other things in life you just seem to fall out of step. A new commitment to babysit my grandson two days a week, add to that a couple of speaking engagements and interviews, increased travel to visit my mom and blogging fell to the bottom of the pile. I missed blogging (and I have some other writing I need to work on) so here is my public announcement that I am picking up my pen (well not really because I type) and putting my random ramblings on paper (screen) on a more regular basis. 🙂 I am getting back in the groove.

First up is a few quick recommendations for visiting the September 11 Memorial. Recently people from all parts (former high school classmates, pastors, etc.)  of my life have been asking “can you explain the difference between the Memorial, Tribute Center, One World Observatory and Museum to me?”

So here goes:

  1.  9/11 Tribute Center, 120 Liberty Street is 5 small galleries and walking tours of the September 11 Memorial Plaza. The daily walking tours are the crown jewel of the Tribute Center. Survivors, downtown residents, family members, first responders and volunteers during the rescue/recovery give 75 minute walking tours that include the history of the original World Trade Center, timeline of the attacks, rebuilding, symbolism of the Memorial and most importantly their personal story 9/11 Tribute Center tours started in 2005 and the galleries opened in 2006. This is who I volunteer with.  tributewtc.org
  2.  The National September 11 Memorial is open daily from 7:30am – 9:00pm. It is an open plaza. You don’t need tickets to visit. Take the time to walk around at least one of the pools so you can experience the size of the buildings. Pools are within the original foot[print of the building. The row of trees behind you when you are at the pool marks the walls of the original buildings – you are standing in the original buildings. The Memorial opened on September 11, 2011.  911memorial.org
  3. The National September 11 Memorial Museum is open Sunday – Thursdays from 9:00am – 8:00pm and Fridays – Saturdays from 9:00am – 9:00pm but last entry is 6:00pm/7:00pm respectively. You need to purchase tickets online. Allow at least 2 hours to visit and be kind to yourself. The museum has a lot of amazing artifacts. It is arranged with a in memoriam section and a historical section. Don’t miss the video from NASA. The Museum opened in May of 2014.  911memorial.org
  4. One World Observatory is open daily from 9:00am – 8:00pm with last entry at 7:15pm. One World Observatory is the observation deck of the new 1WTC. You will need to purchase tickets. It opened in May of 2015. oneworldobservatory.com

 

My thoughts:

You will get more out of visiting The National September 11Memorial if you do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour.

If you are not from “around these parts”, do a 9/11 Tribute Center walking tour of The National September 11 Memorial and go to One World Observatory.

If you have children do a walking tour and then decide if The National September 11 Museum is appropriate for your family. Remember to your children September 11 is history, to you it is current event.

All four places are worth your time and money but you need to pace yourself so do a walking tour (& galleries) your first visit, the museum another visit and the observatory another time.

The Museum is artifacts and information.

The walking tours are stories and inspiration.

The Observatory is cool views.

 

 

https://missannsays.com/2014/05/18/national-september-11-memorial-museum/

https://missannsays.com/2014/05/13/travel-tuesdays-s2e2-911-memorial-museum/

 

 

 

 

countdown

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last column bearing Squad 41 where they found Bruce's body.

This is a reprint from a blog this time last year. I felt it is worth saying again. This anniversary is fifteen years so the “activities/hype/coverage” will be even greater than a normal year – 3rd, 7th, 13th… I did watch a good documentary on CBNC called “Ground Zero Rising: Freedom or Fear”  Lee Ielpi, founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center, was featured as well as a fellow docent, Matt Crawford. Another documentary being shown on PBS on Sunday September 11 is “The Trees” by Scott Elliott. I was interviewed for that film. I will say the thing that makes the countdown even more difficult for people I know is when the days line up and September 11 is a Tuesday. Thankfully this year it isn’t. Side note: September 11 and Christmas always fall on the same day of the week. I know that is a weird thing to know but I do and I would not be surprised to learn that other members of the September 11 community know that as well. Be kind to yourself and be kind to each other. 🙂

 

For many, September 1 means the countdown to September 11 has begun. The countdown actually starts much early for members of the September 11 community. Maybe it is in July when the letter to participate in reading the names from the National September 11 Memorial Museum arrives in the mail. Or when the emails from various September 11 organizations announcing their September 11 ceremonies start showing up in my inbox. Or when the actual invitation/credentials to attend the ceremony arrive. There is no escaping it.

So I will limit my TV watching until September 12. I won’t be surprised when my husband’s photo randomly shows up on my FB feed. I will listen to the radio expecting to switch channels at anytime. I will pray for those who saw things on September 11, 2001 that no one should see. I will pray for the families of those who were killed that day and have died since from illnesses caused by their efforts in the rescue and recovery. I will decide to participate in the things that help in my journey. I will put one foot in front of the other. Don’t get me wrong I am grateful that “we don’t forget” but for many people myself included there is no way we could forget. Oh and in case you were wondering the countdown for us begins on September 12