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The Sunday before Halloween was jam-packed for me. I spent the bulk of that day at my church. First I attended a special all-ages intergenerational Sunday service that dealt with Halloween/Samhain. Many people in the choir were dressed up in costumes and there were appropriately spooky decorations at the church as well.

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Someone brought this really cool looking Halloween cake that tasted delicious as well.

Halloween/Samhain Service, October 29, 2017

Here is how I decorated my car trunk for Trunk or Treat.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

The only thing I regret not photographing is what I gave away. I purchased one package containing 24 small boxes that had temporary Halloween tattoos. The other were a bunch of tiny notepads that were shaped like mummies, witches, frankensteins, ghosts, and other Halloween creatures. I purchased them at Target for only $10. They were such a hit at church that I ran out and I ended up having to buy Halloween pretzels so I would have something to give out to the trick or treaters on Halloween itself. Oh well. In any case, here is how other people decorated their trunks.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Someone brought a portable sandbox for children to play with.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

There were games and face painting that the kids could participate in. Plus there was plenty of food to munch on.

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

Trunk or Treat at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church, October 29, 2017

I also shot a short video that included people dancing the Time Warp (yes, they played the song from The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and children engaging in a wheel-type race.

If all that weren’t enough, I stayed behind after the party because, this fall, I’ve been serving as a volunteer teacher of English to recent immigrants as part of my church’s social action program. The class runs from 1:15-3:15 p.m. so I was definitely tired by the time I finally returned home.

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My Unitarian Universalist congregation threw a pizza party in the glen after Sunday service on July 2. Since it was held during the throes of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend it was lightly attended. But the people who were there had a great time. I took a few pictures with my camera.

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Pizza Party at Paint Branch UU Church, July 2, 2017

Ramadan

A few months ago I went on the annual Women’s Retreat that was held at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church in Adelphi, Maryland. During that day-long retreat I learned that the church has an extensive yarn stash.

Here’s some background information. When I first joined that congregation years ago, there was an elderly woman named Ottille Van Allen who was in her 80’s at the time but she was incredibly active. I could write a whole series of separate blog posts about the stories she used to tell me and others in that congregation over the years from being born in Germany when Kaiser Wilhelm II ruled that nation with an iron fist to immigrating with her parents to the U.S. because her father was a socialist and the Kaiser took a dim view of people like him to how she was immediately placed in an English-only class at school because there was no such thing as ESOL at the time.

Ottille Van Allen was a very avid knitter and she would spend much of her time knitting hats and mittens. (She was a retired schoolteacher.) She would sell her hats and mittens at a table during the church’s annual auction in the fall. She would continue to sell her inventory after regular Sunday service until mid-December. Whatever inventory didn’t get sold was donated to homeless shelters and various groups that serviced the poor in Prince George’s County, Maryland.

As Ottille Van Allen’s age increased, she had a harder time keeping up with her knitting. By the time she reached her mid-to-late 90’s, she wasn’t able to handle it any more. (She would die at the age of 103 or 104.) Other church members were moved by her plight and they wanted to continue the tradition she started of selling hats and mittens so a Handcraft Circle sprung up where people would gather after Sunday service a few times a month with their latest knitting or crocheting projects as they made hats and mittens for sale. (I have to note that this Handcraft Circle came into being long before it became trendy for women to form Stitch ‘N Bitch knitting circles that meet in libraries, coffeehouses, and other public places.)

Over the years as people involved in the Handcraft Circle moved elsewhere or died, either they or their families would donate extra yarn to the church for the Handcraft Circle to use for the hats and mittens. When I was at the retreat I found out how much yarn the church has amassed over the years. I saw that there were at least 10 large bins full of yarn of various colors and thickness and I was told that there were more. The church had so many yarn skeins that it could easily open its own yarn store as a side venture if it wanted to do so.

Basically the church would like to get rid of the excess yarn. So I took several skeins home with me. I purchased a circular knitting loom at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics & Crafts and started making hats. I found that using the loom is easier than the traditional needles because I don’t have to count rows and stitches nor do I have to worry about how many stitches should be knit and how many should be purl. The only thing I have to do is to periodically measure the length of what I knitted in the loom so the hat would’t be too big or too small.

Here are the photos of what I’ve knitted so far.

Last November my Unitarian Universalist church joined the many other houses of worship across the United States in putting up a Black Lives Matter sign.

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My congregation did one better with this sign. It also added the heart logo of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Standing on the Side of Love campaign and a rainbow banner indicating that it’s a welcoming congregation for the LBGTQ community. My congregation voted to erect this sign despite the fact that other houses of worship who have put up Black Lives Matter signs and banners have had them either defaced or stolen outright.

This morning I learned that my congregation has had the sign stolen. Yes, it’s distressing but, no, my congregation is not deterred. The word is that we will get a new identical banner and put it up. My congregation refuses to cower to the forces of racism, homophobia, and other types of ugly prejudice that has especially sprung up in the wake of President Donald Trump’s election.

I shot a short video featuring the Chalice Dancers at Paint Branch Unitarian Universalist Church right at the beginning of Sunday service. They did a Hawaiian dance to Hawaiian music.

I attended a Valentine’s Dance that was held at my church on the Saturday before Valentine’s Day and I took a few pictures while I was there.

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Fast Eddie and the Slowpokes performed their blues at this dance.

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Naturally there was plenty of dancing.

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

There were some nice romantic decorations as well.

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

Valentine's Dance, Paint Branch UU Church, February 11, 2017

I know I’m pretty slow in posting my own experiences with the Women’s March on Washington. With so many other people spending the past week writing their own experiences with the march on various blogs, websites, and social media, I felt like I could take the luxury of delaying my own report. (Besides, this blog is NOT a news site.)

This post has only my own personal experience with this march. It will include my opinions based on what I saw. It’s possible that you may disagree with my perceptions based on what I saw and did at that march. That’s fine. I’m only writing this to add to what has already been posted about this march. I’m hoping that one day in some distant future some historian will read what other people have posted online, including this post, to gain insight as to what happened and write some kind of a definitive account of this march.

Here is my account of what I saw and did at the Women’s March on Washington on January 21, 2017. It was a very dreary cloudy day, which is reflected in all of the pictures I took of the march that day. The ground was wet because it has been raining off and on for the past few days (including President Trump’s Inauguration the day before). Despite the gloomy clouds, it didn’t rain once. I was still glad I brought my folding chair because it was too wet and muddy to sit on the ground.

Participants were encouraged to wear knitted pink pussycat hats. I didn’t have one and I really didn’t want to knit a hat on such short notice because knitting can be such a time-consuming effort. (That whole march was announced just a month or two before.) I ended up wearing my Grumpy Cat hat that I originally purchased at Party City for $10 for a Halloween Party that took place at my church back in 2015.

Women's March on Washington

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I had a number of people praise my hat, including a Metro security guard, which was pretty cool. One little girl at the march who admired my hat told me that she has recently gotten Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book that she loves very much.

I drove to the nearest Metro station on my own because I live pretty close to that station. I originally met up with some people from my Unitarian Universalist church congregation outside the Greenbelt Metro station at 7:40 a.m. (which was the agreed meeting time in advance).

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Even that early in the morning it was pretty crowded. I later learned from other people via Facebook that by the afternoon one had to wait up to two hours in order to enter the Greenbelt Metro station.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

We all boarded the Metro. The train we were on was pretty full. I saw two of the women sitting underneath this ad that was pretty appropriate given where we were headed.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Once we arrived at the L’Enfant Plaza Metro station I got separated from my church friends because of the crowd of people, as you can see in the next few photographs.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I eventually went over to the Department of Health & Human Services building because people from my church decided to march with the larger Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) they were all meeting there.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

So I caught up with my friends again. But that reunion was short-lived once the UUSJ started marching because I was separated from them again because of the throng of people and I didn’t see them again for the rest of the time that I was at the march.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I managed to make it to the Mall. At first it was pretty roomy and I was able to set up my folding chair so I could rest in it and eat my lunch (which I brought with me because I know from previous experience that the food vendors tend to draw long lines at large events like this). I set up on the perimeter of the Mall just across the street from the Native American Museum. I folded up my chair after lunch because I needed to use the Don’s Johns port-a-pottle that was set up on the Mall for both yesterday’s Inauguration and today’s Women’s March. I went in this long line just so I can relieve myself.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

After the bathroom break I walked around some more and snapped some pictures. I noticed that the Mall was filling up with more and more people while I was walking in the center of the Mall. For the record, I didn’t see or hear any of the people making speeches because I was so far back on the Mall. (The stage was set up closer to the Washington Monument and I was mostly at the end that is closer to the U.S. Capitol Building.) There were so many people that there was no way I could even think about making my way closer to the stage. I saw a jumbotron at one point but that was crowded with people as well and it was partly obscured with trees so I wasn’t able to see or hear anything.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

I became so tired of walking that I decided to go back to the perimeter near the Native American Museum in an effort to open my portable folding chair again and sit down. Except I found myself trapped among the crowds that I literally could not go in any direction. I was stuck like this for at least an hour or more. I later saw this video that the British TV station Channel 4 had posted on its Twitter feed giving an overhead shot showing how packed the Mall became that day.

I learned through the rumor mill that people were busy speaking on stage and all the speeches ran overtime so the march to the White House didn’t even begin at its originally scheduled 1 p.m. time. People were pushing and crowding in all directions and I was afraid that there would be a disaster similar to what happened in the U.K. nearly 30 years ago when people at a soccer match were literally crushed to death. People near me kept on chanting “LET US MARCH!” and “LESS TALK, MORE WALK!” to no avail. It was almost like the people on stage were the 1% and the people being crammed like sardines on the grounds of the Mall were the 99% and the 1% could’ve cared less about the safety of us 99% plebes.

At one point a person near me literally fell to the ground and other people managed to lift him up back on his feet. If it weren’t for these helpful people, there’s a chance that this guy would’ve been trampled and crushed to death. It was literally so harrowing at times that I kept on thinking that if I had fallen down to the ground, I might as well say good-bye to this life because I would’ve been crushed and trampled to death.

The only other time I’ve ever seen the Mall get this crowded was at the 2010 Rally to Restore Sanity and March to Restore Fear that was put on jointly by Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Except that rally had areas around the perimeter of the Mall where people who got tired of being crushed by the crowds on the Mall could walk towards the edges and take a breather. The Women’s March didn’t even have that convenience because I saw the perimeter across Independence Avenue being just as crowded as on the Mall itself.

Eventually it filtered down that the organizers on stage had decided to start marching to the White House. Hordes of people began to quickly empty out of the Mall. Once again there were empty spaces on the Mall so I decided to pull out my portable folding chair and rest again. I was exhausted as hell. I decided against following the crowd to the White House, look for the nearest Metro station, and just go home.

By that point both my smartphone and the back-up battery recharger had both run out of power so my smartphone was dead. I tried to retrace where I had walked until I found a sign pointing the way to the Federal Center Southwest Metro station. On my way to that Metro station I walked along a section of sidewalk near the Department of Health & Human Services Building that had the giant cobblestones instead of the usual smooth sidewalk. I literally tripped an landed on my knees. Some helpful bystanders helped me get back on my feet and asked me if I was okay. The good news was that I was still able to walk. The bad news was that I ended up with a bruised and stiff right knee. (My left knee somehow escaped being unscathed.) I spent Saturday night at home applying a heating pad to my knee until bedtime when I put on one of my compressing kneepads. This is what my right knee looked like the following morning.

Women's March on Washington, January 21, 2017

Once I made it back to Maryland, I drove away from the Greenbelt Metro station parking lot and I noticed a lot of people walking outside of the parking lot. I saw the cars parked at a nearby business park and an apartment complex, which was reminiscent of the 2010 Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally when I also saw cars parked at a distance from the Metro parking lot. I decided to drive to Three Brothers Pizza in Beltway Plaza where I order two slices of cheese pizza and a medium Diet Pepsi to go. I really wasn’t in the mood to cook anything for myself after spending a full day that that march. At least I was still able to walk despite my injured knee (which became stiff and sore) and the food line was relatively short so it was no big deal.

As I look back on this, I have to admit that I’m of two minds about my participation in the Women’s March on Washington. On the one hand, I thought it was great that I took part in something that literally broke all previous records for other marches and rallies. For years I had to deal with elders both in my church and in my neighborhood talking about how they took part in the 1963 March on Washington (where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech) and I envied them because my parents didn’t go and, if they had, I would’ve been way too young to remember. So the next time I hear an elder talk about hearing MLK give his “I Have a Dream” speech in person, I can reply, “Well, that’s nothing compared to going to the 2017 Women’s March on Washington and being among the throngs of people who broke all attendance records for a large political rally of its type.” (And that’s not to mention that the Women’s March took place just five days after the MLK holiday.)

I was thrilled to see the comparison pictures between the Women’s March and the Inauguration that was held on the Mall the day before and seeing that the protesters definitely outnumbered the Inauguration attendees. I heard that President Donald Trump’s thin-skinned ego received a serious blow over that fact. He deserves it for the way he ran his campaign where he catered only to white heterosexual Christian men with no disabilities at the expense of everyone else. In a way, it was worth it for me to take the time to do something that probably has seriously hurt The Donald’s feelings and if I had to endure being packed in like sardines on the Mall and suffering a bruised right knee as a result, well so be it. I’d rather suffer with a stiff knee than have The Donald’s thin skin and fragile ego that results in him frequently making an ass of himself on Twitter.

It was super cool finding out hours later after I was back home that this particular march was one of many marches that were literally held all over the world and many of those marches (particularly ones held in places like Boston, Chicago, London, and Paris) were just a huge as the one in DC.

On the other hand, it was harrowing as hell given the throngs of people who literally crammed into the Mall like sardines. It was a miracle that no one got crushed to death. I wished the organizers had been more flexible and practical in cutting the stage presentations short so people can march sooner and clear out the Mall. I know that famous people spoke on stage and doing something like this would’ve bruised a few celebrity egos. But I’d rather see bruised celebrity egos than risk innocent people getting crushed and trampled to death on the Mall.

I’ve read some of the progressive criticisms of the march online saying that it was organized mainly to highlight the concerns of upper class white heterosexual women who supported Hillary Clinton for president. I saw plenty of people wearing Clinton campaign buttons and t-shirts. I even saw a couple of people schlepping life-sized cardboard standees of Hillary Clinton. I found it interesting to note that Bernie Sanders not only attended the march in his home state of Vermont but he also spoke that that march as well while his one-time Democratic primary rival, Hillary Clinton, was nowhere to be found at any of the women’s marches anywhere in the world.

But the majority of protesters I saw did not indicate their support of Clinton at all. I saw people wearing Bernie Sanders buttons and t-shirts. I saw people holding “Black Lives Matter” and “Trans Lives Matter” signs. I saw Muslim women and Latinos holding signs indicating their fear of increasing anti-Islamic and anti-Latino sentiment coming from the Trump Administration. I even saw the occasional “We are the 99%” slogan that originated from the Occupy Wall Street movement.

While the march in DC was overwhelmingly white, I saw plenty of people of color who also marched as well as people who didn’t support Clinton or Trump at all. I know the march wasn’t perfect. I personally would’ve preferred more speeches made by non-celebrity activists representing ordinary everyday Americans and less speeches made by Hollywood celebrities because this march was supposed to represent the interests of everyday ordinary Americans who lack the wealth and privilege that the Hollywood celebrities enjoy. But you’re never going to get 100% perfection out of anything in this life and I have to admit that this march seemed very promising in that it hinted of the potential rise of a genuine alternative opposition movement against the Trump Administration. Whether that potential gets realized won’t be known until later this year.

The next day I actually watched videos of the speeches that I found on YouTube. Every speech I watched were inspiring and powerful. I’m only sorry that I wasn’t able to hear any of it on the Mall when I was actually there. I am glad that YouTube exists so I can hear these speeches in their entirety without having them be edited by some broadcast network news organization.

At this point only time will tell whether this march will have a long-term impact on average people in the U.S. I hope something good comes of this. Otherwise I will feel frustrated that I spent a huge amount of time being nearly crushed to death on the Mall while suffering with a bruised knee for nothing.

Each month my Unitarian Universalist congregation holds an all-ages gathering after Sunday service where people eat pizza and cupcakes, play board games, and learn about famous UUs who celebrate birthdays that month. I finally got around to photographing one of those gatherings because someone brought this really cool looking Harry Potter dollhouse whose details are amazing.

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Harry Potter Dollhouse

Here are the rest of the photos of that all-ages gathering that I took that day.

Playing Board Games

People Eating Pizza and Playing Board Games

Cupcakes

Pizza

Board Game

Playing a Board Game

Playing a Board Game

Playing a Board Game

Santa Claus

This year New Year’s Day fell on a Sunday so my Unitarian Universalist church decided to schedule its usual Sunday morning service. Since New Year’s Day is also the last day of Kwanzaa, the theme of this service was on Kwanzaa and how this congregation’s observance of it is more important now than ever before (especially since my congregation is among the houses of worship that has put up a Black Lives Matter banner on its property).

There was a special Kwanzaa feast following the Sunday service. The special Kwanzaa altar remained up after the service ended so I took a few photographs.

photo1

photo2

photo3

photo4

I even got pretty silly and took this last photo using the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone.

photo5

I had a busy day that Saturday on December 3. First I headed over to the Takoma Park Public Library where I was helping a friend with a project. (During my time there I took these photos for this blog post.) Afterwards I headed over to my Unitarian Universalist congregation, which was having its annual Holiday Warm-Up Party for all ages. Generally we decorate the tree as we bake and eat cookies and we also sing Christmas and Hanukkah songs. Here is what the tree looked like after everyone finished decorating it.

1-tree-featuring-my-gods-eye-ornament

This year someone brought supplies to make God’s Eye ornaments. Here is the God’s Eye I worked on. I used a multicolored yarn skein, which had this cool result.

2-gods-eye-ornament-i-made

Someone had also brought these small kits where you could create your own winter-themed bookmarks. Here is the bookmark I made.

3-bookmark-i-made

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