About The Girl

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California, United States
Not-so-silent observations that splinter my conversations. Harnessing the steady flow of random thoughts and musings that continuously interrupt my daily conversations. Paired here with my artwork and photographs from recent adventures. Non sequitur (pronounced \ˈnän-ˈse-kwə-tər\)- a response which, due to its apparent lack of meaning relative to its context, seems absurd to the point of being humorous or confusing.

Thursday, August 20, 2009


"Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire."

Gustav Mahler

Our family history is filled with quirky superstitions and time honored traditions.
Sometimes it feels like ashes are all that's left. And here I sit, foolishly pumping the bellows trying to restart a pile of cold, dead ash.
One person doesn't make a tradition. These are the makings of communities and families. Nostalgia infuses our memories with warm thoughts of traditions long lost.
What Makes Tradition?

What qualifies something as a tradition? Is it years, generations or multiple family members recollecting and reproducing the same event over time with a story? What makes a tradition distinct from other regular occurrences or routine habits? There is something unusual and playful about our family traditions. Typically, these traditions have been passed down among several generations and their origins are no longer traceable. A verbal retelling of the explanation is all that remains. Holidays especially tend to have family traditions intertwined among the festivities.

Highway Pieway:

The act of stirring one's ice cream together to create a malleable soft-serve-like consistency. Then patiently smoothing, digging and texturing to create roads and geographies. We would draw out the experience of dessert, carefully molding a unique frozen landscape.
Two Sides
Strangely, many of them were passed down by my father's side...Do the Irish tend to have more prevalent traditions than the Germans? Might some traditions verge on behaving like genetically recessive traits? Some families simply nurture more traditions, passing them along, over time helping them to grow and thrive.
Harmless Tradition or Superstition?

Bayberry Candle:
A bayberry candle burned to the socket means health in the family and wealth in the pocket. In our daily lives tradition verged on superstition. When does tradition become obligation? I would fear to forget to light a bayberry candle on Christmas Eve. I would be too concerned that the result might be a year of poor health, little wealth and general bad luck.

Please Pass the Salt:

A salt shaker must be set down on the table, rather than passed hand-to-hand. Am I willing to pass the salt shaker directly, hand-to-hand? I'd rather go through a lengthy explanation of this unusual family tradition of unknown origin. Otherwise, who knows what misfortunes might ensue?

Shedding Tradition

At what point does tradition no longer serve us? How do we determine this? Is a tradition something of value to preserve or simply a means of spreading ashes across the generations? When does the tradition enrich the experience? When we lost my father I found myself clinging to memories and traditions. As time passes, some of this naturally falls away. Hopefully we willingly shed that which is unnecessary and no longer authentic for our family.

Kindling Traditions

My daughter and I have begun a few of our own traditions. Thanks to a lovely dinner a few years back at a dear friend's home (The Boyle's), we now include Family Peace at the end of our pre-meal grace.

On lazy mornings we always enjoy playing the Under-the-Covers game.

We still enjoy Highway Pieway. Only our variation is with non-dairy ice cream and frozen yogurt. Yogurt Escape is our recent favorite!

Natural Selection

Some traditions fade over time. Others we adapt and redefine to fit our changing lives. I only sincerely hope that I am present enough to judge when it is time to let go and shed the traditions and routines that no longer serve us.

"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."

This is a wonderful quote as it has many facets to it. Here, I am introducing it to elaborate that I truly believe that we are all a bit insane, especially families. We create roles for one another. Ultimately we often practice the same scenes over and over again, all the while expecting a different outcome. These are the traditions it would best serve us to leave behind and shed.

There is a fine balance between diligent practice and foolish perseverance. If we are willing to listen and to learn, evolution will help us to identify the flame worth preserving.