Category Archives: Africa

Bits and Pieces

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There have been a few odds and ends that have been rattling around

in my mind. Some are not worthy of an entire post, some I could in

the future, expand and expound about them. There are interesting

little tidbits that I heard recently on the news or read in a magazine.

 

One article of interest was found in “University of Dayton Magazine,”

which was about the UD Flyers’ football team in 1939,  going out to

California and visiting a famous alumni. I love any kind of ‘archive’

photographs, this one with the dashing movie star, Tyrone Power,

and the football team, all in their coats, ties and dress pants caught

my eye.

 

My favorite Tyrone Power’s movie is called, “Witness for the Prosecu-

tion.” It turns out this was one of the last movies he ever made. Sadly,

at age 44, the action movie star was battling with a sword, had a heart

attack and died on the way to the hospital. The movie he had been

acting in was called, “Solomon and Sheba.” I have never seen this one

nor his beginning two either.  “Merchant of Venice” was his first film

and his second movie, which earned him popularity and a place on the

billboards was, “Girls’ Dormitory.”

 

I believe we need to have a new version of this, a ‘re-make’ of this

light-hearted movie. I sense this would have innocent humor, with

sly innuendos. Nothing like the current R-rated comedies which rely

so much on stupid jokes and mean acts.

(Yes, this comment is a little ‘tongue in cheek.’)
Anyway, Tyrone Power originated from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was

the son of an actor and grandson of a comedian. He had, as they

frequently say, “acting in his blood.” He was born in 1914 and the

sword-fighting scene which ended his life, was in 1958.

 

A quote from the “UD Magazine,” uses the source of an Arizona State

University Assistant Professor of Film and Media Studies describing

Tyrone Power as:

“Mystical, darkly handsome, a glorious matinee idol and a rather

‘forgettable’ actor.”

 

Although this comment is rather harsh,  Tyrone Powers was chosen

in an actor’s popularity poll taken of University of Dayton students

and he was found to be number four. The university newspaper took

one of their students from ages 17-18 up to ages 22-23. This poll was

conducted after the UD football team had visited 20th Century Fox.

The tour had contacted and was led by Tyrone Power, an alumni.

 

Tyrone Power may have ‘grown’ more serious over the years,

following several ‘good looking’ and ‘attractive’ stars and starlets

choosing parts with more depth in the characters and plot lines.

 

Here is the list of the Top 3 Actors ahead of Tyrone Powers

(from the UD newspaper poll, taken in 1939):

1. Errol Flynn

2. Jimmy Stewart

3. Gary Cooper

 

While he led a short life, Tyrone Power ‘lived large,’ in my mind.

Here are a few examples of Power’s personal adventures:

1. Served in the military, as a United States Marines, as a pilot.

This was in 1942, during WWII and one particular exciting time

was during transporting materials to Iwo Jima. Next month, on

my February calendar, I make note of the famous day when the

U.S. flag was raised on Iwo Jima.

 

2. “Wild” in his love life, dating co-stars while the movies were

being filmed, just to move on to the next movie and starlet.

 

3. Like James Dean, he enjoyed riding a motorcycle.

 

4. In his 44 years on earth, he was married three times.

 

5. Rather ‘scandalous’ for his time, he relied upon the income of

his second wife. Financial support in the acting world, sometimes

did have the “leading woman” making more than her husband.

 

6. “Mark of Zorro,” was a favorite movie and the poster is still one

of my favorites of all time. His work as a ‘swash buckling’ leading

character and dangerous criminal were displayed in, “Jesse James”

and “The Black Swan.”

 

February 27th- Coming up next month, another famous actor and

director, a genius of his time, is going to be featured at the Gateway

Film Center. This is called an “Independent Cinema in the Heart

of Columbus.” I love the catchy title, “Magician: The Astounding

Life and Work of Orson Welles.”  I am going to see if my friend,

Anna,  or my guy friend, Bill, will go with me to check out one of

the films presented there.  I would like to see the documentary of

this famous Hollywood legendary star and director.

 

A small little ‘bit of wisdom,’ which could be used in so many

different ways is the expression,

“Pachoko Pachoko,”

which in the Lake Malawi area of Africa means,

“Little by little.”

This conjures much meaning in such a succinct form.

 

The CBS Morning has a great feature every week on their Sunday

program which is called, “The Week at a Glance.”  I noticed the

Hall of Fame Awards for Theater were going to be presented on

Monday, January 26, 2015.

What makes this interesting to me is that I watched, “Amadeus,”

on Saturday after Micah went home. The main antagonist of the

film about Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was Antonio Salieri. In the

movie, this character is played by F. Murray Abraham. Definitely

nice to have this coincidence, seeing an actor I admire and it would

be a great awards show to be able to attend.

 

There is an anniversary of the German “Death Camps,”  Auschwitz

and others this week; January 27, ’15. A day of memorial and tribute

to those who either died or survived their horrendous experiences

there.

 

All those Star Wars fans, who have money to splurge on memorabilia,

there will be a major auction on Wednesday.  Hope you have a fun

and happy mid-week celebration. If you don’t have money saved for

buying souvenirs, you can always indulge in watching one of the “Star

Wars” movies.

 

Thursday, Amy Poehler is being given “Woman of the Year” award by

the Hasty Pudding Theatrical group. She is best known for her comedy

skits on “Saturday Night Live,” along with her “Parks and Rec” t.v.

show.

 

Harvard University’s group is simply called, “The Pudding.” In 1897,

John Wheelwright described the cross-dressing theatrical group as:

“A kindly association of men of all ages in a gay evening of simple

enjoyment.”

 

I am sure Amy will have a ‘ball’ and she will fit right in, too. I hope to

check this out ‘after the fact,’ on YouTube. I enjoyed when Neil Patrick

Harris’ was given his Roast for “Man of the Year” another year.

 

At University of Cincinnati, there will be a police enforcement

symposium, incorporating all aspects of agencies, beginning a

meaningful ‘conversation’ about their performance in the pursuit

of justice. This will be held on Friday, January 30, 2015.

 

The other activities, on Saturday and Sunday, were so quickly

spoken that I did not catch them. They said something about what

President Obama was going to do and something about the “Annie”

awards show is for. Keep your ears open for these two upcoming

subjects in the news. . .

 

Tonight, there will be a spell-binding special mini-series about the

Revolutionary War. It is titled, “Sons of Liberty” and ironically it

has mainly actors who are not American.  For example, George

Washington’s character is portrayed by Irish actor, Jason O’Mara.

John Hancock is played by British actor, Rafe Spall, in a sort of

flamboyant performance. (Interesting; hm-m!) The British actor,

Marton Csokas will play General Thomas Gage.

 

I am looking forward to checking out this television event on the

period of time historically where we were “enemies” with the Brits,

while seeing them portray the leaders of this revolution. Interested

also, in who they have playing Benjamin Franklin. The British actor

who portrays Samuel Adams is Ben Barnes. This presentation

will be on the American History Channel.

 

“Sons of Liberty” is n conflict with my S.A.G. awards ceremony,

though. The Screen Actor’s Guild show will be tonight, also. May

need to ask Jenny to ‘DVR’ the other show, or just pop in on it,

during commercial breaks. I just love award ceremonies, along

with the Red Carpet pre-shows.

 

In our brains, scientists, researchers and physicians have studied

many things. The newest findings of where ‘happiness’ can be

found through the measurement of the area of the brain called

the “striatum.” There even is a new numerical formula which is

able to ‘measure’ happiness by our brain’s reactions to rewards.

The formula, though, relies on our reactions to our expectations.

This was also featured on CBS Sunday Morning, January 25, 2015.

I am sure this combination of numbers and processes can be

found somewhere on the CBS coverage, it was shown written in

numerals and I could not write it quickly enough, nor would I

have been able to comprehend this.

Apparently, if you have high expectations, as so many positive

people walk around and hope for the best do, than the way

the numbers may reflect lower amounts of happiness. This

brought up a commentator’s valid question,

“If you go into your day with little or no expectations are you

more likely to experience a measurable amount of happiness?”

This portion of the program was titled, “Not Great Expectations,”

should you wish to examine the research and reactions to this

new equation.

 

I have featured another article or post about brain studies, which

used endorphins and other information to measure happiness.

 

I will still head off every day, ‘into the world,’ with lots of hope

and high expectations. I tend to believe you will receive more

and will acknowledge more simple acts and things which will

give you bursts of endorphins and fill your life with happy

moments. I could not go out, seeking nothing and expect to

find happiness. This just goes against the ‘grain’ of my brain!

 

What did you read today that gave you ‘pause’ or something

to think about?

 

Have you any new information or something you may not wish

to fill a whole post about, but wish to share here?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trio of 2014 Children’s Books

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When parents get book order forms from school, sometimes it can be overwhelming

and also, stressful when they have a limited budget. I remember my three kids bringing

home their school picture order forms, their sports group picture forms and then, on

top of all this, Scholastic book order forms. Of course, all school book fees, new clothes

and shoes, sporting equipment also came during the same time of year.

Occasionally, my Mom and Dad may have dropped a check off in the mail, which would

cover some of the items mentioned. I had child support for two of three children, along

with a carefully budgeted babysitting fees from my clients’ list. All of the five children

I watched stayed with me for the seven years I watched them, who were from parents

whose careers were either as professionals or a combination of positions. I could count

on them paying me regularly on Fridays. I had typed up a babysitting contract which

included paying me for sick days or times their children stayed home. Also, for vacations

they chose to take. If I ever needed to call them to ask them to use one of my  ‘back up’

babysitters then I would not get paid, same if I chose to take a rare vacation. I think I

‘called in sick’ on only three occasions in the  7 years, 9 summers  watched their kids.

When we were closely tied like we were, they would tell me when their vacations were

planned. We also would try to have seasonal family gatherings where we would get

our schedules in ‘synch,’ planning sports, extra curricular activities like gymnastics

and jazz dance classes, karate for the kids who chose this outlet. All 8 children, mine

included, took swimming lessons the same 6 weeks, usually in August, hoping the

water would be nice and warm in the morning.

I am rambling a bit, to tell you that my own children fit a lot into their budget.  I did

not expect to receive 5 x 7″ school pictures nor have the joy of seeing the choices of their

Book Fair. My oldest daughter pointed out that the Book Fair is during Parent-Teacher

conference time so you have extra time on your hands. Also, a little bit of pressure to go

wandering around with the kids to check out the books. I reminded her that the boys

have library cards like the three of ‘them’ (my own children) had from early years on.

I also would tell their teachers this, including what I thought was a valuable lesson,

which was to choose books and return them regularly allowed my kids to have many

more books, choosing far more than what we would need to have in our home. She

listened and told me they each were told they could choose one nice book to keep.

The boys, Skyler and Micah, already have a nice collection of hardback books in

their bedroom.

My daughter in law has the children’s book shelves in the play room, which means

they can sometimes need to be reorganized and cleaned up. She allowed the four

children to choose a book, with the two oldest, Lara and Landen, picking chapter

books.

The two little girls, M & M, each chose a book. I felt the ones I was most interested

in viewing would also be the ones you would be curious to hear about. I will include

Micah’s to round this out with a boy’s choice. This ‘trio’ of enjoyable selections is

a collection of picture books that were so endearing and entrancing. Along with one

that is quite dramatic!

 

1. “Flora and the Penguin” is a 2014 book with 40 pages, written and illustrated  by

Molly Idle. Last year, she won the Caldecott Honor for a wordless picture book called,

“Flora and the Flamingo.” The flamingo and little girl dancing in the different scenes

was quite beautiful and artistic.  Makyah chose the newer book since she loves the

movies, “Happy Feet,” and “Happy Feet Two.” It is one which will appeal to both boys

and girls, ages 3-5 years old. The author, Molly Idle,  mentioned the quote, “Actions

speak louder than words.” Since Makyah is the ‘baby’ in her household at age 3, I felt

this was a wise choice. She can tell adults or her siblings, what the pictures mean to her,

using descriptions and  her vivid imagination, to tell her own story about Flora. At her

preschool, Kyah is learning how to find her own voice, letting others know what she

thinks.

 

 

2. “The Iridescence of Birds,” a Newberry Medal winner, written by Patricia Mac Lachlan,

was chosen by 5 1/2 year old kindergartner, Marley. This is a 40 paged hardback book

which has a wonderfully illustrated story about Henri Matisse. The book has the small town

in Northern France, where the little boy and young artist grew up. It is winter and Henri

feels it is cold and dreary. The pictures show shades of grays in the gloomy scenery.  In the

true story of his life, Henri’s mother paints plates. Henri’s mother has him help her to set

out plates which radiate colors. His life brightens up when he puts fruits and flowers out to

inspire her painting. Rainbows shown in the book are like a prism (to his life) has been

added to every scene. Glorious!  This story of Henri Matisse’s young childhood is like an

‘ode’ or warm ‘homage’ to his mother. It is like we should give credit to her for inspiring

Matisse to create his impressionistic masterpieces of color. Of course, I love the birds.

Hadley Hooper is the artist who has brilliantly illustrated this book to match the tone

of the story told in simple prose.

 

3. “Draw!” by Raul Colon was chosen by Micah, my 5 year old kindergartner. I am sure

his eyes were attracted by the bold and vibrant illustrations done by Raul Colon. This

book is 40 pages long, which begins with a boy in his room with a sketchbook. He had

read a large book about Africa. He becomes immersed in the world of being on a safari.

He uses paints and an easel to create drawings from his imaginations. They are of very

lifelike animals- elephants, zebras, lions and a very angry rhino. The scenes seem to come

alive and seem inter-active. He ends the book by showing his drawings to his classmates

in school. This book is appropriate for young adventurous children of  ages 4-8. I also

was excited to find out that “Draw!” is not about guns being “drawn” since over the

phone, I had heard its title, mistakenly picturing it to be a Western.

 

What are some of your favorite children’s books that are more recently published?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Identifying ‘Songs’

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A West African tradition that fascinates me, is that when every

woman in their tribe of “Griots” is expecting a baby, they take

time to think and contemplate giving the baby, a ‘song.’ They go

off to meditate and come up with what they feel would be the

specific identifying chant or ‘song’ that will follow the upcoming

baby, throughout his or her life.

Have you ever heard of this tradition? I was so interested in this

and wished to share my source, the May, ’14 “Natural Awakenings”

magazine.  The article’s title is “Live  Your Song: Each of Us

Carries a Unique Inner Tune that Affirms Our True Nature.”

In this article, it explains that each person has a soul, in their

belief system. Each soul has a certain vibration that expresses its

unique and special purpose. It has a ‘flavor’ or ‘essence’ that can

be ‘heard.’

The baby’s birth is greeted by its song, giving it meaning and worth.

The times in the child’s life, where the song plays an important

part are when born, when getting ready to attend school, initiation

into adulthood and the time of marriage. The loving embrace of its

tune and melody is to keep the child feeling valuable and included.

If the child, young adult or grown adult should happen to break the

tribe’s rules or even worse, break a law, the tribe will circle the one

who has fallen away from them, chanting and singing their song.

The hope is that the community’s love will overwhelm the individual

and help them to find their way back to their original path. The final

time the Griot tribe, in West Africa, sings the special song is as family,

friends and the community gather at their bedside, helping them to

pass onto the next world, with the memory of their past life’s song.

I like the idea of a song, that our friends would know and recognize

it as ours. I would hope that we would always feel ‘in tune’ with our

family and friends. When we should ever wander away, move or

change our life’s direction, it would be so comforting to know that

our ‘song’ follows us, wherever we go.

Our ‘song’ would help lead us back home again, knowing the true

love, friendship and sense of belonging is waiting for us.

I had not realized that there are others, scientists and researchers,

who have studied this philosophy and practice of finding one’s ‘song.’

The persons considered “modern pioneers in vibrational energy,”

are Sharry Edwards (bio-acoustic biologist) and Donna Eden (energy

medicine field). They have independently detected that each of us has

a “fundamental signature frequency that can be equated to our unique

song that persists throughout our life.”

Some would say the ocean ‘calls to them,’ others would think that the

railroad train is their sound, with the thumping wheels along the track.

Natural songs can include birds. (That is my ‘song,’ not just because of

my name but the story about my Grandfather’s message sent through

the cardinal’s song).

The two women mentioned, Sharry and Donna, feel we innately seek

certain natural sounds that reinforce and strengthen our song.’

Other examples I read about were the sound of the surf, wind, rain or snow

falling. I could ‘hear,’ or imagine, someone’s ‘song’ in the trees shaking

from the breeze, the shivery feeling of the night sky filled with stars and

the moon. I think that some crave and need the sun’s warmth upon their

skin.

Your ‘song’ can be described as, “cell-to-cell vibrations” within ourselves.

We intuitively feel this these vibrations or rhythms as almost magical.

 

I found this sentence/quotation from the article to be meaningful:

“At one with the universe, our song contributes its part in the infinite

chorus of creation.”

 

(Quotations and research provided by Jill Mattson)

Please share if you feel you have a ‘song’ and let us know what really

‘moves’ you, intuitively.

 

Follow Your Bliss

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Andrew McCarthy was one of my ‘heroes’ in movies of the 90’s.

He was a quiet, unassuming young man in some of them, the

best friend in others, along with being the love interest

in “Pretty In Pink.” (My daughters grew up watching him and

I was always glad he kept his actions, for the most part,

clean cut and decent. There were several including “St. Elmo’s

Fire” where he was included in a group that was called the

“brat pack,” which was different by a generation from the

“Rat Pack” which included Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

In both groups, carousing and drinking was an element, for

some, they were mostly going through a phase but Andrew

McCarthy admits to being an alcoholic and becoming sober in

1992.

Andrew made his ‘fortune’ in movies, then went on to become

a director, along with his new pursuit of being a travel

writer for “National Geographic Traveler.” It has been a

year since he had his book published, “The Longest Way

Home: One Man’s Quest for the Courage to Settle Down.”

In this book, he uses an unusual approach with his travel

writing, going through his anecdotal life’s journey up

until he took off to explore the world. He uses his varied

experiences as actor, director and writing production

scenes to look at the way nature, history, and landmark

places fit into his world view.

He likes more the idea of the journey, rather than the

outcome. He likes meeting varied peoples, like when he

rode along with hundreds of Brazilians in hammocks,

their scenery the length of the Amazon River.

He enjoyed a two month long trip through 7 countries

to see, from South Africa through to Tanzania. There

are photographs, for readers that like visuals, in his

gorgeous book. In 2005, he took his 8 year old son to

the Sahara Desert. The vastness of the sand, his seeing

the distinctive mountains of sand, had an impact on his

life.

Another wonderful and life-changing trip was on the

“Camino de Santiago,” which begins in France and crosses

the Pyrenees Mountains, and ends in Santiago de Compostela.

He felt that trip ‘changed his life,’ probably the most.

(Read more about this, and other travels in his book or

in book reviews!) His discoveries in Laos, Cmabodia and

Viet Nam ‘thrilled him.’

In a quotation that reveals Andrew McCarthy’s world view

and philosophy:

“People don’t travel because they’re afraid. I don’t think

it’s (about) time. I think it’s fear. If we traveled the

world, we’d be less fearful of people, and if we were less

fearful then, the world would react to us less fearfully.

My goal is to change the world, one trip at a time.”

Andrew’s “hero” and mentor for his trips goes back to Mark

Twain’s cross country, American journeys in his lifetime.

Here is one of McCarthy’s favorite Twain quotation:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.”

Andrew McCarthy, also a husband and father, sometimes feels

‘lonely’ at home. He tries to explain ‘loneliness’ to others

by saying it is like missing opportunities and adventures.

Compared to being on the road, where he never feels ‘alone.’

Because of seeking and finding others in places that he will

learn more about, loneliness is different during his travels.

There is an expectancy and excitement to being away from home,

in an unfamiliar place. Although I did not see the word ‘bliss’

anywhere in his reviews or interviews, I feel Andrew McCarthy

has found just that.

How will you find your ‘bliss’ in this new year of 2014?

Abundant Gifts

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This title suits the enormous pile of gifts that

I received, along with the tremendous feelings of

love and admiration for my family’s varied gifts.

We are definitely blessed with a wonderful family

and hope that you had many moments where tears

were close to springing forth, for either your

‘laughing till the tears came’ or because you feel

this also, about your family being so meaningful.

You want to be like Norman Rockwell, but sometimes

your family is like the one in “Christmas Vacation.”

Much of the joy flowing at my brother, Rich, and

sister in law, Susan’s house was due to the one and

only grandchild present when Mom, youngest daughter,

Felicia, and I arrived late on Christmas Eve.

We had seen said California Theo valiantly portraying

a solemn shepherd at the Bay Village located, St. Barnabas’

Episcopal Church.

Theo, his grandparents, Rich and Susan, along with his Cali.

parents, Dorothy and Jon stood up in front, by joining the

adults singing in the choir. Theo and Grandpa Rich had

practiced with the children’s choir for the Nativity portion

of the program,during the week Theo had been there.

Why was Theo valiant? Because his mother and he had had

a horrible bout with either food poisoning or a strong

and fast flu, along with half of Jon’s side of the

family. They were queasy and pale, but stalwart along

with some joy and jubilation once they got through the

sweet children’s “early Christmas Eve service.”

Theo tooted on a long and unusually decorated South

African horn, while we ate and savored turkey, homemade

corn bread stuffing with mushrooms, cranberries and nuts

along with grilled asparagus and other side dishes. We

are much more ‘mindful’ now of our health since Randy’s

quadruple bi-pass surgery and Felicia’s health and

wellness accreditation added to her marketing and

communication degree from UD. She is trying ‘gluten-

free’ due to her aggravated RA which started as a

pre-teen as JRA.

Now, there is never a reason to ‘brag’ about actual

gifts, but I am so pleased with the variety and scope

of the gifts, I hope you will just skip down to the

comments area and add your own favorite gifts you

received. I will be including some my family received

to add some ‘unselfishness’ to my listing gifts!

My friends at work and I exchanged gifts at work on

Monday, along with bringing a snack to share, too. I

am always amazed that I would never have met these

hard working and more manual labor workers than I may

have met through teaching. They are definitely the

light that keeps me going when I am exhausted while

lifting repetitively 30-50 pound hampers!

My friends from the Philippines shared food, of course.

I had given Kridia a Mary Poppins Madame Alexander older

doll right in her precious box. I was happy with Felda’s

gift of saying that not only had they watched the old

“Mary Poppins” movie, they had enjoyed the older version

of “Sound of Music,” but Kridia “votes” for the newer one

with Carrie Underwood. They are planning on taking her to

see, or maybe due to little restless ‘Zachie Poo,’ may

wait to see “Saving Mr. Banks.” That movie is the one

based on the “real” Mary Poppins and “real” Banks Family.

I am anxious to get a chance to see that one, too!

Tammy brought a red, green and white swirled cake with

vanilla cream frosting with coconut and it was in the

triangular shape of a tree! It had red and green M & M’s

on it, too.

Melvin caught me in the parking lot, giving me a German

wine that had spices and tasted like a hard mulled cider,

but was 10 % alcoholic content. I drank this with my family

up in Cleveland, warmed and yummy. He said when he had

heard me talking about my immigrant grandparents, he had

thought of me, then while at the Rickenbacker Air Force

Base commissary, had purchased it to give to me. I cannot

pronounce nor write the name of the wine, but you may

look up holiday German wines and find it! Melvin was once

stationed there, so he says that carolers travel around

the small towns, shops have tables outside their doors,

enticing shoppers by some of their wares and little cups

of this heated wine. I kept the bottle, but did am not so

great at reading the ornate lettering on it, so am not

totally sure of the name of that wine!

Susan had put the South African gifts unwrapped under the

tree, we opened them, since Felicia and I would be leaving

on Christmas day to travel almost 2 and 1/2 hours back to

my son’s ‘party’ and family gathering with the 6 grandies.

I took Trista the giraffe printed purse that was a cloth

tapestry material with a sling kind of strap. It will be

a great “Mommy” purse. I took Jamie a polar bear mug and

its little goodies from Mom, along with hot Cheetos. He

used to get tins of sardines, herrings and tuna fish from

my Dad, my Mom tried to continue this tradition for

several years, but had decided to downsize her gifts, more

out of having to haul them from the bus to her apartment,

than a budgeting issue. My daughter got a snowman mug with

dark chocolates from Mom, I received a card with $10 and

a big hug, along with her little saved cookies from the

dining room to take home. She also ‘re-gifted’ for Jamie

and Trista, a big box of Fannie Mae chocolates. Felicia

and I had both given her boxes of dark chocolates, and

Randy had gone to the Cleveland Malley’s chocolate shoppe,

where he had given us all yummy and great quality candy.

Susan gave my oldest daughter a Cape Town calendar. (These

gifts for son, oldest daughter and daughter in law were

taken to them. Son and family had gone up for Thanksgiving,

daughter more than once had brought the two boys up, too.)

I received, in the mail, a wonderful book that I have been

reading and studying about writing. It is called, “On

Writing Well,” by William Zinsser. It is a 30th Anniversary

Edition, given by my friend, Gary, who is the man I kept of

the match.com group of men, who writes for the sports section

of the Columbus Dispatch. I was thrilled with the UPS package

on a few days before Christmas. I have read and recommend the

forefather of this book, “Elements of Style,” written by E.B.

White with his English Professor friend and colleague, William

Strunk. Strunk and White’s book was one I read in college about

writing.

Bill had taken me to eat, twice in December, although both times

I offer and he accepts money for a hefty tip or the whole meal,

in the case of the salad bar at Ruby Tuesdays. His gift is always

a big dose of philosophy, analyzing our lives so far, cheerful

talks about his Heather and my current ‘love,’ at the time.

I thoroughly enjoyed and reveled in the Christmas concert and

meal with that special friend. I loved the fact we walked from

my apartment, across one of the three bridges and up the steep

and slippery hill and steps to Gray Chapel, Ohio Wesleyan Campus.

Although there was a constant attempt to keep the salted sidewalks

from getting slippery, the walk was a little treacherous, as I

wore a nice pair of heels! I wore an attractive “ensemble” and my

old, herringbone woolen long coat and gray cashmere (previous year’s

gift from youngest daughter) scarf. This was what I had worn when

I met up with my ex-husband on First Friday of Delaware with a green

cashmere sweater, that gift from a friend, and jeans, that night.

There was Chaos! upon arrival at my son’s but the children were

overall very well behaved. There is always a long table set up with

the munchies that I adore, pineapple slices, veggie tray with ranch

dressing, a relish tray with my sweet gherkin pickles, along with

my bringing two balls of the chipped beef cream cheese ‘logs’ with

100% whole wheat crackers and Triscuits. My youngest daughter

ignored the beef part of the logs and ate it anyway, since the

cream cheese and chives interior is basically healthy and gluten-

free. She ate all the veggies, the pineapple and watched herself

by eating a bite of the famous 3 cheese mac n’ cheese, Trista

makes for all family gatherings.

I was able to get photographs of most of the children with

their opening the gifts (I gave school and play clothes)

while my brother’s gifts of toys were a welcome relief!

Too bad he could not have seen the hour long play with the

two girl cousins (Jade and Makyah) with the wooden painted

and unusually shaped beads and strings. Randy gave some

awesome gifts of coffees to my girls and also, Mod Podge

in two big jars, to my oldest artistic daughter. He got

a great Crock Pot for the main meal planners, Jamie and

Trista, along with some candies to share at the party.

You see, at Jamie and Trista’s house, they have two

rooms, the play room and the kitchen set up with food!

The revelry and comraderie, includes Trista’s father,

Jerry.

He seemed, understandably, lost and saddened by his

wife, Chris’ passing, her son and his wife, Jerry’s

son and wife, friend, Alan, Theresa and Hailey, Zena,

Emily and Jason, along with my three children and six

grands.

There is always an atmosphere of joviality with the

men sometimes imbiding some ales or beers, the women

having a glass of wine, too. The children ‘munch and

run,’ or grab and take on the go snacks but they are

required to stay with food in the kitchen or playroom

areas. The little girls, Kyah and Jade, were using

water in their tea cups and using the play tea pot

in the living room, before being scolded and sent

back to the playroom. The boys were having fun with

their tablets or DSL’s? is that what they are called?

Nana never looks at those games nor tries to play

them, unlike Wii games of bowling or other fun things

on the big screen television in the family room. I

was once a Donkey Kong “Queen” amongst my son’s

group of Nintendo friends. That is the last time I

attempted that sort of game!

Children everywhere, the tree lights glowing and the

atmosphere was warm and toasty, filled with the

abundance of love flowing all around us. Such a gift

that is beyond words…

A final quotation that pertains to “abundance” by

Thomas Kinkade:

“Perceptions of beauty vary. We should delight in the

diversity of taste, just as we rejoice in the

abundance of experiences that life has to offer.”

Although, I attempted, really tried to shorten this!

A Wonderful Celebration

Standard

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!