Category Archives: U.S. Citizenship

November: Sensing Grace and Showing Gratitude


Every month seems to come a bit faster! Closing a door on one vibrant and exciting

month of October. Opening a door on the more serious month of November with

moments full of gratitude, sensing persons who exude grace and giving thanks for

all we have.

Looking at my Halloween decorations and wishing that Jack o’ Lanterns, ghosts,

goblins, the Ty teddy bear in its adorable pumpkin costume, the black glass bottle

with the words, “Love Potion” on it and the owls could all stay up. I take them down,

slowly placing each item in a large orange tub, automatically trying to wrap some of

the glass, ceramic and wooden treasures with newspaper, I layer the embroidered

October cloths, fall handkerchiefs and needlepoint given to me by my aunt and my


Next come the September lingering ‘culprits.”

The little scarecrow figurines, sunflower basket and gold candles are no longer



I like a simpler decorative theme in November. The month deserves a less crowded,

less busy appearance. The Pilgrims and their first Thanksgiving come to mind and

make my mood more respectful and subdued.  My decorations reflect this traditional

look. I have a few pumpkins that fit in and around the metal cornucopia with yellow

woven reeds along the edge of the opening. I leave the ‘fake’ bittersweet vine wound

around and inside of a basket on my coffee table.


Putting the burgundy candles into the pewter candle sticks from 1978, gifts from my

first wedding, I think of the Turley’s from Oak Ridge, Tennessee:  I feel gratitude.

There is also a pewter creamer, sugar bowl and a little tray to keep them on, which

remain in my little apartment kitchen.


I will never forget this lively family using washboards, zithers and guitars, their melodious

voices singing Blue Grass music. Afterwards, Jim telling Scottish tales and Helen telling

old Greek folktales. Their combined heritage made their three boys’ lives rich with the

knowledge of distant lands. Our family has some history, the half from my father’s side

not really detailed but his family tree with Scottish and English roots. Mom’s side is more

interesting, since her parents had stories to share with us of Germany and Sweden.

I would get excited when we drove up through Pigeon Forge, to get to their house built

from the local rocks. My Dad had met Jim in his work at Oak Ridge Nuclear Reactor (in

the state of Tennessee.)

Once they came North, went to see Plum Brook’s reactor in Sandusky. But mainly,

they were the overnight, genial and entertaining stop for our family along the way

to our grandparents’ trailer park in Clearwater, Florida.

Waves of memories, longing and nostalgia take over me.


Does this happen to you when you change seasons and decorations?

Is there an old memory that comes forward to be fondly remembered?


New chores and tools are needed with snow coming.

I will take my portable shovel out of the closet and put into the trunk of the car.


The songs that come to mind for this month are:

“November Rain,” sung by Guns N Roses


“Peace of Mind,” sung by Boston.




Birthstone:  Topaz

Flower:  Chrysanthemum


National Animal Appreciation Week goes from 11/1-11/7.

Local animal shelters or humane society have their needs suggestions posted.


1st- All Saints’ Day

(Catholics, Episcopalians and others celebrate this day)


2- Daylight Savings Time

(where applicable)

We set our clocks back one hour.

The old saying goes, “Fall behind.”


4- Islamic New Year.

Wishing all those who practice the Islam faith a Happy New Year!


Election Day in the U.S.

I encourage you to use your citizens’ right to vote!


6- Full Beaver Moon

Native Americans call this month’s moon the Beaver Moon,

but it is also called the Frosty Moon.


11- Veterans’ Day in the U.S.

Honor those who served and gave up their lives during wars.

Respecting those who are continuing to serve and put their lives on the line

for their country.

Remembrance Day in Canada.


14- Last 1/4 moon.


22- New Moon.



Thanksgiving Holiday (U.S.)


“Black Friday”

One of the biggest shopping days in U.S.

Some consider this part of their family’s traditions.


29- First 1/4 moon.


Looking at my cornucopia filled with fruits and leaves, with pumpkins spilling out of it,

colorful and familiar, I think it is as beautiful as a bouquet of flowers to me.

The words of Thomas Kinkade (2001):

“The color within us

can color the world around us.”


With Thanksgiving and gratitude:

“A thing of beauty

is a joy forever:

Its loveliness increases,

It will never pass

into nothingness.”

(John Keats)


Those who bestow Grace upon us, as a gift:

“A friend is as it were,

a second self.”



Freedom to express our Faith:

“Were there no God,

we would be in this glorious world

with grateful hearts

and no one to thank.”

(Christina Rossetti)


“You have possibilities. . .

so celebrate that you are

who you are,

where you are,

and affirm the


goodness of


by saying,

‘Thank You.'”

(Thomas Kinkade, 2001)








September 17th is Doubly Worth Celebrating


September 17th celebrates two special days for everyone, especially Americans.

Both of these events can be loosely based on the fruit of an apple. . .

First of all, on this historic day in 1787, our Constitution came into “fruition.”

Sometime much more recently, we have delegated a day that doctors ‘approve

of,’ while teachers are happy for their pay ‘bonus.’

I am stretching this ‘fruity’ tie a bit, aren’t I?

Today is known to as both, “Constitution Day” and “Eat An Apple Day!”

There have been some politicians from both parties making the rounds

in the news and in a wide variety of locations, celebrating the United States


Teachers may have planned to serve apple cider, discussing how apples are

pressed to make this delicious drink. Or maybe they had children or middle

school aged young people chopping up apples and serving them with some

caramel dip or sprinkling cinnamon on them. They may have ‘gone all out’

in their celebrations of the apple, by having some students learn how to

make pie crust. I remember as a preschool teacher, finding this to be as

good as making play dough.

Since many people get the Constitution confused with the Declaration of

Independence, I will give you a ‘third grade’ review of this fine document.

The Constitution of the United States is the ‘supreme law’ of the land in the

U. S. of A. It is a set of rules that are enforced by the three levels of the

government. We have the Branches of the Legislative, Executive and the

Judicial levels.

The Constitution was originally written and created in September, 1787 but

did not get accepted, approved or ‘ratified,’ until June 21, 1778. In 1789, what

is called the “Bill of Rights” was added.  There are 7 articles with the #s 4, 5,

and 6th ones discussing the relationship between the States and the Federal

Government. This includes the rights and responsibilities of the now fifty

States. It discusses or defines the concept of Federalism in the articles.

Unlike other countries’ forms of Constitution, our amendments are not

inserted into the original document but are added at the end.

Here are some fun books to look up and read to children from Grades

Fourth through Eighth Grade:

“Our Constitution Rocks,” by Juliette Turner.

“We the Kids:  The Preamble to the Constitution,” by David Catrow.

“Shh! We’re Writing the Constitution,” by Jean Fritz.


Here are some fun songs, starting with one that is a ‘chant,’ using

arms and hand motions:

1. “Apple Tree”

“Way up high in the apple tree (Raise your hands up in the air.)

Three little apples looked down at me. (Hold up three fingers and can be dramatic

using your eyes and eyebrows lifted.)

I shook the tree (Pretend to shake your trees!) as hard as I could

Down came the apple. . .



It was good!” (You may rub your tummy to demonstrate!)



2. “Apple Tree”

(You may listen to this on a 4 minute ‘track’)

“Swing with me,

Underneath the apple tree.

We will swing,

We will sing,

Till the dinner bell.”

(Doesn’t it seem to need ‘ring,’ here?)

To and fro we will go,

flying to the sky.

Happily, merrily,

Up we swing,

With the birds we fly.”

(Author Unknown)


Now for some adult versions of songs with the name of apple

in the group or song. You will recognize most of these, which

you may be excited to know there are plenty more in a list on

the internet!

3. Doris Day’s lovely song, begins with a stanza about her true

love, Johnny leaving her and she is sitting by her lonesome:

“The apple tree

The apple tree

The apple tree,

Still sitting under the apple tree

With nobody else but me.”


(Why do I remember this as, “Don’t go sitting with nobody else

but me;  under the apple tree?” Memories play ‘tricks’ on me!)


4.  Louis Armstrong’s song, “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.”


5.  Dionne Warwick’s song, “As Long As There’s An Apple Tree.”


6.  The Ink Spots’ “In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree.”


7.  Alice Cooper’s song, “Apple Bush.”


8.  An American Country Music Band in 2002 was called, “Hot Apple Pie.”


9.  Bob Applebaum’s song, “The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree.”

(Isn’t this guy cool, has apple in his name, too!)


10. Jake Owens’ song, “Apple Pie Moonshine.”


Which is interesting, since this Friday, to ‘kick off’ our Fall weekend, I have written a post about

fermented apple cider. I really enjoy the flavor of “Angry Orchard,” hard apple cider made in

Cincinnati, Ohio. There is a new trend brewing apple cider, although the practice has been around

since the Mayflower ship brought the Pilgrims here, and even before then. . .









A Wonderful Celebration


I was very impressed with our Human Resources person, Jenny, who

managed to add a wonderful piece to our Quarterly Meeting.  We are

informed of various pieces of  business news at these meetings. We

gather around 200 people in one large conference room, most of us

sitting close to our boss and cluster together in our own groups. We

also find out which employees have reached a landmark in time

working at good ole’ Advance Auto Distribution Center # 23.

We like to see who receives their anniversary plaques and awards,

clapping for members in our group. One of “us” got a plaque along

with her fifteenth anniversary year packet (you get to order a gift for

yourself from a brochure. I chose for my fifth year this Spring, an

Electrolux vacuum cleaner.) This was my friend, Sandy, who once

upon a time was an EMT, that became an Advance Auto worker. She

is my coworker who also was raised in Cleveland, Ohio. I wrote

about her and her partner, Suzie in “Another Love Story.”

I admire their longterm relationship and have been friends from when

Sandy had worked at the nursing home where I was the Activities

Director. Oh, Suzie doesn’t work here. Well, check out their story, if

you get a chance sometime! We all stood and yelled out, “Sandy, Sandy!”

It is a little like the auditorium in high school during different awards

ceremonies. We are sort of “juvenile” at our workplace!

At this meeting we discover if, or when, we will have a quarterly bonus

check based on our group performance rate and we sometimes have

other announcements.

This time the announcement was an awesome one!

Our fellow employees, one who is very close to me, Mary Jane, and

Robert (who I see more as  we are “ships that pass in the night” since

he is a night shifter and I am a day shifter) were next told to come

forward. We all were wondering what was going on!

These two are part of our international group of fellow employees.

Mary Jane, married to state employee, David, has been in a few of my

stories that include the happy trio of women from the Philippines.

Robert, I have gotten to know from his friendly nature and on Fridays,

my group’s early days, I am there at 6 a.m. and he is leaving at 7 a.m.

We have only one day a week where our shifts overlap. Our group of bin

order fillers work usually, four days a week, from 7 a.m. until whenever

we finish our orders.

Robert has shared with me about his studying Business Administration

at the Columbus, Ohio branch of Ashley University. He has advanced to

taking his Master’s Degree coursework recently. He was born and raised

in Ghana, Africa. I have expressed encouragement and pride in his school

accomplishments. He has a wonderful, deep English sounding voice,

which reminds me of Morgan Freeman’s voice.

These two proud individuals stood up and walked to the front of the

room. They were then given the chance to tell us why they were there.

Both of them passed their United States Citizenship tests and are now,

American citizens!

I was so completely surprised since Mary Jane shares so much with me,

and she is the “mother hen” of May and Felda. None of these three had

told me about her taking the test. I knew awhile back that she was

studying but I had been remiss in not inquiring and she had not offered

her fine news!

It really helped all of us to cheer and congratulate them. We had a nice

Autumn reception after the news about our health care coverage going

up, our quarterly bonus may not arrive since we are not making the

best rate possible, that we have added a new business acquisition of

a company called “A.I.” (autoparts international) and around here it

is called “Carquest.”

Mary Jane, “M.J.” known affectionately in our department, was given

many hugs and handshakes. She said the test was very difficult. I was

surprised when I asked Robert in his receiving line how the test was

and he replied, “A piece of cake, Miss Robin!”  Maybe he has more

test acumen or maybe he studied harder? Both were also given the

first treats from the fall decorated table with huge boxes of delicious

donuts and a choice of bottled water or poured apple cider.

I chose a wonderful maple long john (cream filled) and a cup of apple

cider after I warmly embraced both recipients of their citizenship and

wondered to my friend, Tammy (from the Fence Post Buddies story),

if my own grandparents were treated to such a nice and pleasant

reception? They both went through their naturalization process while

teenagers and met on a New York street corner, one from Sweden

and the other from Germany. It made me wish I could call them or

write them to ask how it felt on that proud day they became citizens!

Do you have a family member or friend who has been naturalized

and passed their United States citizenship test? I would love to hear

which countries they have come from. I am sure there are lots of

stories out there… Please share!