Category Archives: Chinese

Premio Dardos are like Cupid’s Arrows sent to me

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This gift from Kim was extraordinary, since I had been feeling a bit

behind on my reading, posting and keeping up with my blog. It just

seemed like the familiar friends had all produced so many pieces of

literary genius, I was not ever going to get through all of their posts.

So, being nominated for the Premio Dardos just made my day, my

week and my Valentine’s Day, too.

 

The meaning behind this award nomination is to give people awho

form of recognition to fellow bloggers who are striving to touch the

world through their writing. The word, “premio” means prize or reward.

“Dardos” means darts. Spanish spells it one way, while I believe the

Italian form would be “primio.”

 

How easily I could picture my friend Kim playing Cupid sending me

darts of Love into my heart. This act of kindness warming my heart

to accept and include everyone with this radiance and light.

 

“Chronic Conditions and Life Lessons” is the title to Kim’s

blog but there are so many layers to this lovely woman who is

a blessing to all who meet or read her. Please check this out:

http://kimgosselinblog.com

 

You know those candy hearts that have messages?

 

The Necco Company has been making Sweetheart candy hearts

with imprinted messages since 1901!

 

Instead of passing candy through the imaginary internet

connection we have made through our blogging, I would

like to share my ‘fortune.’

 

I chose four Chinese fortune cookies at the International Film

Festival, celebrated on Baldwin Wallace University campus over

last weekend, to nibble on during the movies.

 

Don’t you love how these little folded bits of  crunchy sweetness,

provide you with the Chinese characters for words? I think this is

such an interesting part of the paper inside your fortune cookie. I

am not sure you could learn the language through this process of

eating cookies though.  One of the four words I could have learned

to copy the intricate letters or characters was:

“Cucumber.”

 

The little slips found tucked into your dessert cookie display

‘your lucky numbers’ and then share a piece of philosophy

with you.  I used to save these and put them in one of my

Chinese bowls with designs of flower gardens and pagodas

painted in pretty blue and white. These little bits of wisdom

may remind you of the old movies with the Chinese detective

who would intone the beginning words of what he had deduced

to be the crime’s solution,

“Confucius say . . .”

 

Just a short ‘sidebar’ about Detective Charlie Chan, who was

created in fiction by Earl Derr Biggers after a trip to Hawaii.

Biggers was inspired by an actual Chinese police officer who

served in Honolulu and loosely based his character on a man

named Chang Apana.

 

Biggers’ first book was called, “The House without a Key.” The

first Detective Chan characters were portrayed by Asian actors

from 1926 until in 1931. These films were not as popular as the

next ones produced with a Swedish actor named Warner Oland

who played the benevolent, wise and intelligent detective. The

movie series Warner Oland performed in continued until 1937

when he passed away.  The parts of his last movie  had already

been filmed also included the character of Detective Chan’s son.

The actor who played his “Number One Son” (as the character

would call him) in many of the movies, Keye Luke, completed

the movie which had scenes already filmed with Oland. If you

wish to learn about the next series of Chan films that started in

1942, which actor portrayed him,  along with any Charlie Chan

television series, you may investigate further on your own.

 

I would like to share some choices for you to consider your

‘future’ or fortune from. Instead of the candy hearts saying,

“You’re Sweet,” “Be Mine,” or  “You Rock,” I found each of

these to be particularly meaningful to me.

 

Aren’t these ‘fortune’ forecasts wise and wonderful?

 

1. “When it gets dark enough, you can see the stars.”

 

2. “Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.”

 

3. “You will always be prepared for the future, but never forget

what you’ve learned from the past.”

 

4. “You are a person of culture.  Cultivate it.”

 

I used to love the white and yellow candy Sweethearts the best. The

yellow tasted like bananas and the white tasted like cinnamon.

 

Here is a List of  the Nominees for the special Premio Dardos Award.

I call them my “Baker’s Dozen” (13 fine blogs). You are special since

you are new, haven’t been awarded by me before and like my posts!

1. Priyan for new music:

http://priyanrocks.wordpress.com

2.Khorhmin for social commentary and prose:

http://projectprose.wordpress.com

3. A mixture of thoughts and pictures. I liked the funny parts,too:

http://oh2bhuman.com

4. I liked the different emotions shown in she writes of life:

http://myselfexpressions.wordpress.com

5. Holley tells it like it is at:

http://chasingdestino.com

6. Photography with prose at:

http://michaellarose.wordpress.com

7. Fun and makeup tips at:

http://misssophiablog.com

8. Shelley has been around the world and into some ‘fine messes,’

showing humor at all times:

http://honeydidyouseethat.wordpress.com

9. Everyday Zen, meaning simple and deep messages given:

http://rainbowsutra.wordpress.com

10. Yolanda has deep discussions generated by interesting subjects:

http://ygmcadam.wordpress.com

11. Leslie is writing music, always sharing a good time at:

http://swo8.wordpress.com

12. Sheila shared recently her personal romantic story about her life

but I go visit her for the dogs, especially Red:

http://redrantsandraves.com

13. It is nice to finish this baker’s dozen with an international woman

named Lis. You will find photography, art and poetry on her blog at:

http://liska11.wordpress.com

 

Those who are nominated are not expected to write a post if you are

not interested in this process.

I just wished to share my “Premio Dardos”with some bloggers who

I haven’t awarded before.

Kim who nominated me, suggested giving 15 nominations away, along

with finding the logo of the award located on her blog site listed above.

 

Thanks to all those who picked up a ‘lucky fortune.’

Let me know if you have any of the predictions come true or if any of

their messages meant something special to you.

 

Hope your Valentine’s Day is spent with someone special and if you

don’t celebrate, hope there is a treat of some kind for you very soon!

 

You Are Special to Me!

Baldwin Wallace site: 2015 International Film Series

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You better believe I was excited to be asked by my sister in law,

Susan who is a Dean at Baldwin Wallace University to attend

two of the many diverse international films shown over this

past weekend. The series was held from February 6 – 14th.

The two movies were so disparate they don’t even seem to

belong in the same world we live in. One was more factual

and sad in its depiction of culture, class structure and society.

The other was one that left you feeling strong, independent

and yet vulnerable to feelings about relationships. Both had

a similar thread of how choosing the ‘right path in life’ can

make a difference in life’s outcomes.

 

The Chinese film was called, “Tian Zhu Ding,” which translates as

“A Touch of Sin.” There were four ‘acts’ with true stories embedded

within the plot. The news stories were results from tragic incidents.

The film ends by circling back to a few of the main characters. Each

individual portrayed a character who either committed violence or

were affected and changed by the actual happenings.

 

The countryside setting in the beginning of the movie displayed

beautiful snow-capped mountains and the outside of a coal mine.

There are many struggling people in this remote town. Someone

is offended, and ultimately angered, by the owner of the mine.

You do not find out until another section of the movie how far

this man will go as he takes out his revenge.

 

Part of this true story includes two men being shot and killed

going down the mountain on their motorcycles. It looks to the

observer to be a possible ‘hit job.’ I think this part of the first

story gives the viewer the sense of,  “Life is futile.” This random

act of violence against the two men just made this section of the

film feel more desolate.

 

The town tries valiantly to display a friendly and positive reception

for manager and his wife. A noisy, discordant band, cheerleader-like

people wearing costumes and one loud, angry and discontented man

await the arrival of the mining company boss, who is also part of the

royal family. The main problem making the miner seethe and stew

is that if the family can afford a plane which arrives on the runway

where the gathering is prepared to entertain them, then he feels the

manager should pay the workers better. The disparity between the

classes seem to be the root and meaning behind this part of the film.

 

Later after the film, there was a reception where one of Baldwin

Wallace University professors said they do have unions in China.

She speculated possibly not in the rural provinces, though.

 

The small town’s welcoming committee and reception is declared

over by the manager and the crowd disperses. There were a few

people who shook hands with the manager and tried to ingratiate

themselves with him. His wife doesn’t shake hands but smiles and

appeared aloof. The royal manager of the coal mine ends up beating

the upset man with only his wife and his pilot as witnesses. This

is due to his having embarrassed the royal manager by expressing

his disapproval of the way the mine was managed.  Being ‘called out’

by a subordinate on his wealthy habits in front of the group threw

him into a rage.

 

This poor soul is so badly injured he must go to a hospital.

 

The second story is one where the injured, malcontent man visits

a woman who he has loved since he was young. You can see from

their facial expressions how much they care about each other. She

has been married for some time. She stops preparing dinner and

leaves one of her sons in the kitchen doing his homework. The

film never shows the two in any of unfaithfulness. The viewer

assumes it is unrequited love.  It appears they have never followed

through with a physical affair. The woman won’t leave her husband

but does explain to the man she has known her whole life that she

has loved him since young. She would go with him, if only he would

change. She says he will never amount to anything, only in Chinese

translated into English subtitles.

 

There is a possible theme of redemption in the beginning of this

story. The audience may feel there could be hope for this man who

is distraught and not taken seriously in his coal mining job. It seems

like the man is thinking about changing his ways. He does have a

wife, it is revealed and she is going to have to live with the haunting

vengeful acts he chooses to commit.

 

Unfortunately, he is angered by this hardened  position of his

childhood sweetheart. He goes on to commit atrocities, killing

more than four people. The scene where he gets his rifle and goes

to the royal palace is almost unbelievable. It made me feel like I

was watching a Quentin Tarantino film. This true news story is

not given a date or time but the review and article about the film

describe this as an actual murderous series of events.

 

The married woman in this story will re-appear in the fourth story.

 

The third story is one with a couple of young people. The central

character in this ‘act’ is one young man who is trying to get out

of the coal mining town. He has a friend he contacts using his cell

phone, who affirms there are more jobs in the big city. The friend

upon his arrival calls a man who comes to pick him up in a fancy

car. He is taken to a place of entertainment where young people,

both men and women, are given costumes to wear.

 

They are paraded in front of potential ‘buyers’ of their ‘human wares.’

One strange element is a shortened version of an Army uniform with

the bellies of the young girls displayed and they do ‘march in’ and

the visitors sit on rows of couches ogling them.

 

The clients may buy ‘time’ with the youths or buy ‘acts’ performed,

(implied but not seen.) This becomes sad since the two attracted to

each other, spend time while they have a day off from work. They try

to act like a normal couple on a date. There are smiles and moments

where you have the belief, or hope this may be the first happy ending

of the three stories shown so far. They spend time looking at things at

a local market, see statues of Buddha the young woman is interested

and the ‘boy’ purchases one about a foot tall.  They go to a parking lot,

where they sit in someone else’s car, kissing while the Buddha is shown

left on the hood of the car as rain begins to fall upon the windshield.

There are symbolic meanings to several parts of each story.

 

The girl reluctantly tells the young man she has a three year old

daughter. She poignantly express when you work in the ‘sex trade’

you really don’t believe in love anymore. Her mother is raising the

little girl.

 

This ends the first half of the 3rd story. . .

 

There is another young woman who is working in a public sauna.

This place is where sexual favors can also be bought. She is ‘only a

receptionist’ she tries to explain her employment position three

times to a couple of men who are trying to persuade her to engage

in paid sexual favors.

 

Both these stories come to violence. In the first one, the young

man throws himself over a balcony many stories high in the city.

He had just gotten off the phone with his mother complaining he

had not sent money since he left the coal mine. You sense he had

hoped to find a good job and make enough money to send home

to support his mother. This compounded with the disenchantment

with the city, the reality and rejection of the young girl sends him

into making his final choice.

 

The second story in this section of the movie, has the accosted

young woman lashing out with a knife and attacking, defending

herself against the two male potential rapists. The word, “no” and

slamming the door three times against them did not stop their

attempts to change her mind.

 

Once the man is bloody with several stabs into his chest and arms,

the other man runs away. She leaves the establishment in bloody

clothing and is seen wandering out on the road leaving the city in

the dark.

 

The last story shows the woman from story number two having

left her husband to become a ‘preacher,’ in the form of a street

performer. She must have decided the violent rampage of her

childhood love was a turning point. There aren’t any explanations

for the film’s character’s actions.

 

Sometimes, there was silence in many scenes.

Conversation seemed more to move the pieces of each story

along rather than connect people together.

 

The performance play has a religious revival tone to it. The main

female entertainer is asking members of the audience to come

forward and ask for forgiveness. The message in this seems to be,

‘Your actions will help you to find your path in life.’

 

The wife of the disgruntled coal miner who killed the royal couple

(who also managed the coal mine) in their palace is present. Along

with the young woman from the sauna. She had just come from a

“Fortune 500”  company (displayed on the sign by the tables of

job interviewers). In this scene, the young girl has shorter hair,

wearing a simple outfit. This is not thread bare, but the attitude

of the female interviewer shows disdain towards her. She didn’t

have the necessary qualifications, both educational and experience,

to get the position. She walks dejectedly with her head looking at

the sidewalk out of the building and heads towards a park.

 

Following the sound of the play leads the unemployed woman to

come across a performance upon a small stage set up in the park.

 

There is a feeling of hope amongst the participants in the play.

Their exuberance is catchy and they seem to impart a purpose to

their presentation. Several aimless people have wandered upon

the colorful scene.

 

The city onlookers listen to the motivational messages given.

Those who have felt like life has become too daunting and

overwhelming. It ends with an open-ended optimistic sense

of well being.

 

I would say the fourth story’s theme is about redemption.

 

This Chinese film was every bit as violent as any of ones made

in the United States. I had a preconception that it would show

resolutions made and more detailed explanations given for the

intense situations in the four stories. The outline of the plot lets

the viewer know there will be “four shocking and true events.”

 

The way the stories are ‘strung together’ doesn’t make it easily

understood.  If you don’t play close attention, it might be hard

to determine each character as they are not always wearing any

distinguishing clothing.

 

If I had been at home watching this on a DVD, I would have

rewound it more than once.

 

If any movie is possible to remind you of this film to one of ours,

I would say, “Crash.” That film took several story lines where they

converge into situations. Characters were loosely drawn and then

acted and reacted to the events in each movie. This Chinese film,

“A Touch of Sin,” is reminiscent of the way lives unravel and

become disconnected.

 

The director named Jia Zhangke has written and directed two

other films that a reviewer considered, “Masterpieces.”  They are

called, “The World” and “Still Life.”

 

A movie reviewer for the magazine, “The New Yorker,” Richard

Brody says, “This is one of the best and most important directors

in the world.” In a brochure for the film festival, others label it as

“daring,” “poetic” and leading the country of China, after the real

life crimes, into a period of “self-examination.”

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese reception with various dishes of

noodles with vegetables, sushi rolls, egg rolls and fortune cookies.

There were some kind of custard wrapped desserts which some of

us wondered if this were a contribution of ‘cannolis’ representing the

Italian food.

 

Since the last movie we saw was from Italy.

 

I listened and was humbled by deep thoughts the Chinese movie

drew out of professors and visitors.

*I would not recommend watching this powerful movie due to its

feeling of hopelessness and despair.

 

Here are a series of thoughts I wrote down before I compiled

this into a ‘review’ on “A Touch of Sin:”

1.  A diabetic injects himself with insulin and proceeds to eat

noodles.

2.  The only two pieces of art work were a beautiful Tiger and

the Mother Mary holding Jesus. The costumes of the band

players and the different plays within the film were gorgeous.

3. Taking justice into his own hands, the one who was beaten

by the royal who managed the coal mines, was accompanied

by waving a wall hanging of a tiger over his rifle.

4. Discontent/Dissent/Inequality of the masses was a recurring

theme throughout the film.

5. A “Fortune 500” company is in the 4th section of the film

and it is titled, “Oasis of Opportunity.”

6. The three languages spoken in China are given as Mandarin,

Shanghai and English.

7. Everyone, at every level in the film, has a cell phone and

modern technology is apparent throughout despite poverty

in the mining village.

8. The scene with a man whipping his horse was upsetting.

9. Taking justice in their own hands seems to be the way

those who felt their lives were unfair was their only way

of equalizing their lives.

10. Smoking occurs in buses, trains, restaurants and hotel

rooms.

11. Men dress as women to entertain in the fourth story.

12. The movie left me feeling very dissatisfied and discontent.

*No violence was taken on my part.

 

 

“Viaggio Sola” is called, “A Five Star Life.” It actually is not the

same meaning as the Italian title would be, “Traveling Alone.”

This is a fun spirited Italian movie about a woman who is one

of those ‘mystery shoppers’ or ‘customers’ to elegant and formal

hotels around the world. The time she is in an Asian country

watching on the veranda a lovely belly dancer while sipping wine

and looking across at a man also a guest at the hotel is an example

of escaping reality.

Her own apartment is sparingly decorated.  Her sister is married

and has two girls. Her brother-in-law plays for the Italian symphony.

She takes her nieces out to eat once in the movie, along with making

reservations of adjoining rooms for their accompanying her on a

special trip.

The girls like checking the mattress for bed bugs, counting towels

and the other parts of the reoccurring list the women orally goes

over as she types the answers into her laptop.

The girls ‘act up’ and use toilet paper in the bathtub which brings

out the character’s lack of understanding children’s impulses. She

yells briskly at the girls, which later one of them can’t go to sleep

and ‘wants to go home.’

The voice over narrator throughout this film is telling the elements

of a proper “5 star” place.

There are amusing times when the main character is disembarking

from a trip to greet a good guy friend at the airport,  where she offers

to ‘cook dinner,’ which he makes a disdainful expression which is

comical, like a, “You know you don’t know how to cook!” look.

While at his apartment, you notice he has candles and nice cooking

utensils as he prepares her a meal.

 

There are a few monkey wrenches thrown into the Italian film’s

plot line, which I won’t reveal because I do recommend this film.

 

It is beyond the simple story drawn here. It is not at all negatively

completed as the similar George Clooney film, “Up in the Air” was.

That movie ending was quite disconcerting, since I saw a future in the

romance being shown between George’s character and an airline

hostess.

 

In the Italian film, “A Five Star Life,” you will see gorgeous scenes of

the following international cities:  Paris, France, Gstaad, Morocco,

Berlin, Germany and China. Each has lavish hotels and delicious meals

displayed to wish you were the person hired to critique and be pampered.

 

 

 

Hearts Among the Treasures Found in February

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February has so much to enjoy and appreciate, despite some of us

who have to endure such cold weather.  I have fun thinking about

what will good ole’ Punxsutauney Phil do on Groundhog’s Day,

how will we celebrate each of the Presidents, along with will any

of my grandchildren make me handmade Valentine’s Day cards

or will they give me a Sponge Bob Square Pants, Batman, Frozen

or Angry Bird valentines?

February is “Wise Health Care Consumer Month.”

There are choices in your reducing health care costs

and making good ones in your physicians, too.  Learn

more about over-the-counter and the prescription

medicines you take, asking what dosage is the least

you need to be the most healthy. Although it is not

always suggested, I like to take nutritional supplements

to ‘back up’ the fresh vegetables, fruits, fiber and protein

sources I choose to consume.

I take out a few decorations for this festive month, including a

couple of American flags which I put two on my door, along with

Cupid, a heart and a laminated Snoopy giving his pal Woodstock

a Valentine. This about covers most of the main ‘holiday rituals.’

I have had the cupid and “Peanuts” laminated pictures, ever

since my years of teaching middle school in the 80’s.

Amy Poehler, comic, actress and “SNL” show alumni

gives us good, comforting advice for February:

“I think sleep can be really magical

because sometimes Balance is only

a day away.”

FEBRUARY

Birthstone: Amethyst

Flower: Violets

Purple is a beautiful color echoed in both the gem

and the flower of the month.

Feb. 1-

“National Freedom Day”

“There is one thing stronger than all the armies in

the world and that is an idea whose time has come.”

~* Victor Hugo.

It is Super Bowl Sunday!

Are you rooting for the New England Patriots or

the Seattle Sea Hawks?

What snacks will you serve? If you wish to read

about the history of hot sauce on chicken wings,

you can push your clicker on the side panel of

my topics to read about. Recipes included from

past posts, too.

Feb. 2-

“Candlemas”

“If Candlemas be dark

with clouds and rain,

Winter is gone and

won’t come again.”

(“The Old Farmer’s Almanac,” 2015 edition.)

Groundhog Day.

You know the results, don’t you? If he sees his shadow,

he will run and hide, means a longer time until Spring.

If it is a gloomy day, and he doesn’t see his shadow, we

are that much closer to warmer weather.

Another special occasion is “The 14th Annual AARP

Movies for Grownups Awards.” Kevin Costner will

be honored to receive the career achievement award.

I would like to see his newest family movie that deals

with his character raising his bi-racial grandchild.

Viola Davis plays the other side of the family’s

grandmother, scenes look funny and uplifting.

It is called, “Black or White.” (Nothing ever is. . .)

Feb. 3-

Full Snow Moon.

On February 3, 1913 the U.S. Congress was

authorized to impose a federal income tax

under the 16th Amendment of the U. S.

Constitution. The beginning of our tax ‘woes.’

Feb. 5-

Personal special day, will go to see my Mom if the

weather is good the weekend after this day. It is

the 60th anniversary since my Mom and Dad got

married. In only 9 months and a week, I will be 60.

So many family members of my parents counted

back to make sure I was “legitimate!”

Feb. 9-

Family Day in British Columbia.

This is the beginning of a great week titled,

“Random Acts of Kindness Week.”

Feb. 11- Last Quarter Moon.

Feb. 12-

Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday.

The way he read books by the fire and the “Honest

Abe” nickname, made this President special to me,

as a child. Later, when his assassination was more

emphasized in Social Studies, I felt sad to have lost

this fine hero.

The military services always wish for U.S. citizens

to fly their flags for past presidents.

Feb. 13-

This is Friday the 13th… ooh! Some people

believe you may wish to be more careful.

Are you superstitious?

Feb. 14-

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Flowers or candy? Special jewelry or friendly

exchange of Valentine’s Day cards, however

you celebrate, hope it is a fun day for you.

I happen to like heart cookies with vanilla

frosting, what is your favorite ‘treat?’

Flavia quote:

“Love lives forever and belies the passage of time.

It is what we take with us wherever we go.”

The shiny ‘heart shaped’ flowers of the tropical

anthurium are perfect fir a romantic bouquet,

suggested by “Old Farmer’s Almanac,”

2015 edition.

I happen to like peach roses or pink-tipped

carnations. The scent of the roses is sweet

while the carnations smell ‘spicy’ to me.

Last but certainly not least, this is also our

“National Have-A-Heart Day” where the aim

is to raise awareness of healthy eating and

taking care of our hearts.

Feb. 15-

National Flag of Canada Day.

Susan B. Anthony’s birthday.

In 1808, on this date in history, the U.S.S. Maine sank.

Remembering veterans and servicemen.

Feb. 16-

Presidents’ Day observed, United States.

The American Veterans request you proudly

fly your flag.

President George Washington’s birthday is on

February 22nd, but most calendars say we

“observe” his and all other presidents’ today.

Celebrate the tale of young, honest George,

who said, “I cannot tell a lie, I chopped down

the cherry tree,” by having a piece of cherry pie

with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

Yummy! I suppose if you were dieting you

could simply eat some fresh cherries or

have cherry yogurt.

A book recommendation from “AARP Magazine” is

of Robert Middlekauff’s “Washington’s Revolution:

The Making of America’s First Leader.”

Celebrate “Family Day” (Alta., Ontario, and Sask.)

The mid-month “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” 2015 suggests

planting winter beets. They are hardy, which surprised me

that they can be planted in the winter time. (Should your

ground not be frozen solid.) They suggest harvesting beet

greens when they are a couple of inches tall.

Did you know the ‘new green sprouts’ can be added to a

salad and are considered delicious?  I learn something

new every time I open and read the almanac. They are

most tender before they reach 6″. This will not disturb

the growth of those red or purple beets, which provide

sorts of healing powers, through their nutritiousness.

Feb. 17-

“Fat Tuesday”

or “Mardi Gras.”

Celebrating the last day before you go on a ‘fast’

for Lent. This seems early and I re-checked this

fact. We have forty days of Lenten Season, before

Easter, should you be Catholic or another church

which celebrates the ‘walk’ of Jesus’ last days by

not indulging in what you crave.

I like the idea which my friends and coworkers do,

eating pancakes with sausage, bacon and eggs. The

Filipino coworkers have a traditional feast full of

a variety of savory and spicy foods.

What I remember from my childhood was receiving

those Lenten “fish” cardboard boxes where we would

put our leftover lunch or allowance money into. On

the last Sunday before Easter, (Palm Sunday) we could

turn them in and they would go to a needy cause.

These days the church I am affiliated with uses the

money for preparing and serving twice a month free

meals for those who wish to come. We also collect

products once a month for local humane shelters,

the battered women’s shelter in Marion (“Choices”)

and  P.I.N. which stands for a food pantry that is

called, “People in Need.” If you wish to do something

extra this month and the next, check out local centers.

You may make a big difference, “in the spirit of Lent.”

Feb. 18-

“Ash Wednesday” is the first day of Lent. Some

Catholic and other churches use ashes to form a

cross on a person’s forehead denoting the start

of the Lenten Season. Mass or communion is

usually served on this day at churches.

New Moon.

“The February sunshine steeps your boughs

and tints the buds and smells the leaves within.”

~*Written by William C. Bryant

(American Poet,  1794-1878.)

Feb. 19-

HAPPY CHINESE NEW YEAR!

This calls for my going to our local Chinese

restaurant and ordering Sweet and Sour Chicken or

Shrimp, or if I am in a spicy mood, General Tso’s

Chicken or Pork. I will ask for a fortune cookie

should they forget to throw one in. I will let you

know my fortune, hope you will let me know yours.

Feb. 20-

Heritage Day, (Y.T.)

Feb. 22-

If you still have some leftover cherry pie, you may

wish to celebrate George Washington’s ‘real’

birthday today!

This is the Academy Awards or Oscar’s night.

If you are one who likes the Red Carpet, the

guests and singers who will perform the “Best

Song” nominations, or just like to have a fun

time watching all the famous people, this is

one of my favorite nights of the year! I get

some snacks, popcorn or chips and dip, some

nuts and a piece of fruit, sometimes if there is

any leftover wine, or if I need to stay awake,

(more likely) I drink some flavored coffee.

Feb. 23-

The infamous photograph represents this real

event in history today, 70 years ago today:

The flag was raised on Iwo Jima in 1945.

Feb. 25- First 1/4 Moon.

Feb. 27-

Battle of Java Sea, 1942.

Here is a pray or words to consider for February:

“Extra Things

We thank thee, God (or Higher Being) for extra things

You send along our way,

Both when our days are sunny bright

And when our skies are gray.

The little planned surprises dropped

From Thy great, loving hand,

Like unexpected showers on

A parched and desert land.

The meeting of an old-time friend,

The lifting of a care,

And sunlight breaking through the clouds,

To tell us You are there.

Just why You do these extra things

Our finite minds don’t know;

It must be you delight in them

Because you love us so.”

~*Written by Alice Hanche Mortenson.

The above prayer could be just pleasant thoughts sent your

way, as if someone sneezed and you say automatically,

“Bless you!”

What special things do you do to celebrate the month of February?

Waffle Mornings

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Throughout my childhood, there were moments in time which are

treasured. Seems a little ‘simple’ or holding little ‘value,’ but our

mornings where my Mom and Dad were not going to work nor

preoccupied with their lives, were extra special. The old waffle

iron being pulled out, placed on the counter, close by to the sink

and all the ingredients of flour, sugar, baking powder and soda,

milk, butter and eggs being lined up meant this had the glowing

potential of becoming a morning of serendipity. Those mornings

are permanently engraved in my mind with the cross-hatched

imprint of homemade waffles. Mmm! My Aunt Amy always sent

us a nice bottle of maple syrup from Chardon, Ohio.

This past Thursday morning, while many families were finishing

their preparations for their Thanksgiving meal and others were

on the road traveling on crowded byways and arriving at their

destinations Mom and I were getting our breakfast prepared.

We cooked up in the toaster, four store-bought frozen blueberry

waffles, put butter  on each one, allowing them to melt into those

little square pockets and poured some real maple syrup over them.

Mom and I settled in for a huge treat, it was the morning of the

annual event:

The 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Mom and I enjoyed so much of the floats, musical presentations

and the marching bands. She is often amazed and surprised with

the unique balloon floats, which she exclaims and pronounces so

many of them, “my favorite one of all!”

I have a few notes down, which Mom supervised, since she felt she

should have her hand in their choices. After all, she probably has

seen a few more than I have over all the years. Although, I did remind

her that her treats on Thanksgiving morning were baking up some of

those orange glazed and vanilla frosted cinnamon rolls by Pillsbury,

not usually did she have time for waffles on Thanksgiving. Although,

there was one year that I got rather annoyed at my brother, Randy,

my Mom and Dad for being side-tracked by the Waffle House on a

Thanksgiving Day… but that is all in the history of our family, no

real need to dwell on that!

It has been 40 years of having Hello Kitty in the Macy’s parade. It

has been 45 years since Royal Caribbean has been part of the parade.

We took a moment to discuss and remember my Mom’s father and

her step-mother, who we were told to call “Aunt Vergene,” having

their honeymoon on a Royal Caribbean cruise. They has quite some

adventures with trips to places all around the world, their favorites

possibly being the Alaska trip and the Scandinavian one where my

Grandfather was able to see the fjords. (My Grandmother had passed

away long before their marriage and trips, since this is important to

my family history and the fine example of love shown by both of them.)

Mom liked the Peter Pan musical presentation, with children from the

Broadway production. There also was a commercial about the current

upcoming television production to be seen on December 4, 2014. The

cast includes Minnie Driver and Christopher Walken. I thought the

previews looked quite good and think J. M. Barrie’s tale of Peter Pan

is always a timeless treat to watch.

Mom worried about the underdressed New York City Rockettes and

yet, thought their little ‘bathing suits with gift bows’ were ‘cute.’

I am not sure what Meghan Trainor sang, need to go check: “Lips

Are Moving.” Mom said she liked that Meghan looks like a ‘nice,

healthy girl,’ and she also did not ‘mind the style of her singing.’

It was a rocking and rapping song, which was pleasant sounding.

In the little bits of her comments, she told me,

“I always love pink flamingos, they make me smile!”

“I remember the Sea World in Florida, this float captures all the

colors and beauty of the sea.”

“I love the movement and impressive activity of this band, along

with its music.”

“I remember this group, what are they called?” I answered her,

“This is the KISS band with Gene Simmons as the lead singer.”

“Oh, this is nice to hear their songs.” (The medley was a nice one,

which I may add, I was impressed that there was only one tongue

presentation. I read in the papers, the next day, there were ‘no rules

or restrictions formally given to the members of KISS.’)

 

We were both surprised that Paddington the Bear had his first time

appearance in 2014. This British icon so sweetly floated as a balloon

with his familiar blue coat, big, red hat and suitcase in hand. He looked

like he was ready to rush off and enjoy a wonderful day in England.

Paddington is one of the most recognizable children’s book characters.

It was fantastic to see him join the Parade. Next year, in 2015, will be

released the bear’s first full-length animated movie, produced by the

Weinstein Group. Not only fun and sweet memories attached, but it

never hurts to have some advertising for the upcoming movie.

During the commercials, Mom was enthusiastic about the upcoming

holiday release of Stephen Sondheim and others’ “Into the Woods,”

movie musical. With Meryl Streep, Emily Blunt, Anna Kendricks,

and Johnny Depp playing the character of the Wolf, she was wishing

to go to see this at the theater. She waited about five minutes, with

a serious look on her face, which usually accompanies an abstract or

somber thought. I could relate to her fears expressed in this comment,

“Although, I am not sure I could sit for two or more hours without

having to use the bathroom.”

We decided we could wait until the library has this, possibly in time

for my July, 2015 vacation. We have been making a rather long list of

current movie releases, hoping to be able to watch them next summer.

The most outstanding and magnificent dancers, we felt were the Beijing

Traditional Dancers. Their float was financed and backed by the “Sino-

American Friendship Association (or Organization). It included lots of

color and the Great Wall of China in the design of the float.

I would say the ‘close second’ place Float of the morning was the one

which held the Cirque D’ Soleil crew of jugglers, athletes, dancers and

performers called appropriately: “Dream Seekers.” This float was

touted as the ‘biggest float of the parade.’

Sabrina Carpenter sang on the Pirate Ship with playful words, “I’m

Ready to Fly,” which is a beautiful song with her voice exhibiting

dulcimer tones. I will need to check her out sometime soon, to see

or better yet, hear her other songs she sings. She is young and was

born on May 11, 1999. I am giving you a prediction:  Sabrina will

go far in the musical world!

A funny but serious group of “48 Mammas” were dancing to the

song, “We’re Not Going to Take It.” They were promoting the great

message of being Against Ageism. They were all representing the

controversial subject of age discrimination. There were some dancers

who had walkers, others who had canes but they were a lively group.

Mom leaned over towards me saying,

“They may be representing those who are disabled but they would

not be able to endure the pain of walking the whole course of the

parade, if they were truly ‘handicapped.'”

There is a group I hope you have not heard of, but you may already

know of this extremely ‘cute’ and ‘popular’ British singers: The Vamps.

We thoroughly enjoyed this pleasant singing young band. The young

people along the parade route were screaming, as if they were the

famous Beatles of the 60’s. Since they are out of England, they have

not appeared, as far as I know, on any of our 2014 award shows. Not

yet! Their float was futuristic, with a Hess brand truck launching a

rocket.

The newest balloon float, the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger,

along with the Spiderman entry would be so fun to go and see the

early morning balloon ‘blowing’ pre-Parade moments. I think if I

lived closer to New York, (oh, and had extra money to ‘blow’) I sure

would take my grandchildren to this special ceremony and watch

the preparations. This was mentioned by the announcers of the Macy’s

Thanksgiving Parade as a valuable and memorable family time.

 

Of course, many children get excited each year to see the final float

with reindeer and Santa Claus. It means it can’t be long till Christmas!

 

It may seem rather strange to celebrate holidays with television events,

but those mornings where my own three children and I would get all

wrapped up in blankets, eating waffles or sweet rolls, while watching

the annual parades are priceless memories.  After all, television was

something that kept my generation, the first to be able to really watch

all the parts of the world right out of our own living room, happily

entertained. It is hard to explain this phenomena, where many of my

grandchildren take for granted their ability to view the world from

their computers and cell phones.

 

It was very enjoyable to see the 88th Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade with

my Mom this year through her ‘fresh’ older eyes. Along with pleasant

promises of the next event to celebrate:  the Annual Parade of Roses.

 

 

 

Healthy Everything!

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I will be throwing a surprise healthy note in amongst a few recipes and

hope you will enjoy this simple post.

I used several sources, including “Prevention” magazine (April, 2014 and

December, 2013) and “Natural Awakenings” (May, 2014 edition of our local

free “magazine.”

First of all, seasonal allergies are the worst! I hear several of my friends and

coworkers who have these problems and wished to share a few suggestions,

using natural and healthy choices.

A moderate intensity workout, a ‘jog,’ can actually help your symptoms!

Who would have thought, since you will need to be outdoors to jog around?

Thailand did this study, exercise may decrease the body’s release of irritating

histamines and other biological mediators. So, this means you can’t use the

allergies as an ‘excuse’ until you have seen if this helps your symptoms!

Another way to naturally ‘cure’ your allergies is a traditional Chinese way

of handling many ailments: Acupuncture has been known to decrease

patients’ dependence on medications, even with allergies. I always like

the way the Chinese say, “Acupuncture brings the body into balance.”

Checking out your intake of fruits can actually help you. Your diet can be

making your allergies worse.  1/3 of patients with seasonal allergies, have

immune systems that react to the proteins in foods, in a similar fashion as

the grass, dust and other things that set you off. People with ragweed

allergies typically have reactions to watermelons, cantaloupe and honey

dew melons. People who have found to be allergic to ‘birch tree pollen’

(pretty specific, huh?!) have been found to react to kiwifruit, apples, pears,

peaches, plums, coriander, fennel, parsley, celery, cherries, carrots, hazel-

nuts and almonds. My mother is allergic to grass and some weeds, but liked

gardening so much she would try so hard to just use the next method of

handling her allergies.

Pollen clings to clothes, our shoes, skin surfaces, hair, even eyelashes.

When you have hiked or worked in the yard, your common sense may

tell you to go ‘rinse off,’ but you may dilly dally, sit and have a drink of

pop, water or iced tea. By sitting down, you have created a pollen transfer

to your furniture. This is so fascinating and an easy way to picture this!

So, this is described in the April, ’14 “Prevention,” like this:

“Taking a shower at night, in addition to in the morning washes the stuff

away and helps you avoid allergen torture while you sleep. Gross but

true: Pollen also clings to the mucus in your nasal passages, so you should

rinse your nose.”

The “Neti Pot” is known for helping people stave off colds and also, to clear

mucus passages, with a saline solution. This is another ‘new’ cure, that I

thought some of you had not tried with allergies.

I liked another passage’s descriptive powers, in the same magazine:

“One route to relief is to treat pollen like a nighttime bandit. Keep your

windows and doors shut tight.”

You may already know about the ‘magical’ powers of ‘butterbur’ as a potent

herb, which contains compounds that block the chemicals released when

you are getting an allergic reaction. A Swiss trial was conducted, using the

amount of 8 mg. tablets of butterbur extract 4 times a day did relieve

the allergic symptoms, just as well as the antihistamine cetrizine. You

can find this in “Zyrtec” and other products similar in its content.

Other natural plant-based treatments include stinging nettle, quercetin

that is found in a number of foods, like grapes, tea, onions and tomatoes,

along with spirulina. This is a nutty tasting nutrient rich, type of algae.

You can take this as a supplement or throw it into a smoothie, as it

can be purchased in powder form, one scoop will do the ‘cure!’

Probiotics have become a popular topic, but even while fighting

allergies, guarding your gut, can really help your system manage

better. Scientists and researchers feel that by regulating your immune

system, through the use of probiotics, found in some food products,

like Activia yogurt and you can also purchase in a supplement form.

They have been found to counteract the inflammation in your body,

that causes allergic symptoms.

I hope some of these natural ways to handle your seasonal allergies

will help you or your family members.

 

I found out that you can use oil from your pantry as a ‘cure’ for

vaginal dryness. Plant-based oils are safe and non-irritating to

use as lubricants, if needed in a ‘pinch.’ This is from Dr. Mary Jane

Minkin. For longer term relief, use a gel or cream moisturizer. An

alternative is coconut oil, but check on a small surface, just in case

of allergies.

 

Now, for some simple ‘cures’ for stomach stress!

If your stomach is in ‘knots:’

Try valerian root extract.

If you are feeling ‘bloated:’

Drink hot water with lime.

(I have tried this, since I read it, and it works!)

If you have an upset stomach and/or

indigestion:

Chew a handful of fennel seeds.

(But not if you have ‘birch tree’ allergies. See above!

I cannot eat foods with fennel seeds, I have found, but

as far as I know am not allergic to any trees! Smile!)

If you feel nauseated:

Try ginger slices.

(I like to drink ginger ale or ginger tea.)

If you ate too much:

Sip fresh lemon balm tea.

(I like to include a slice of lemon, often with just

hot water, if I feel like I am ‘too full’ and need to

get my tummy feeling better, or the lime slice.)

 

Here are just a few simple recipes I culled for this post:

Strawberry Peanut Butter Toast

Top 2 slices of multigrain or whole wheat toast with 2 T.

(tablespoons) of peanut butter. I have recently been liking

the Natural Peanut Butter, with simply peanuts and a little

bit of salt in the recipe. The recipe suggests you try an Organic

Peanut Butter.

Layer with sliced strawberries and for a ‘twist’ add chia seeds

(1 tsp. teaspoonful)

The “Healthy Elvis” Sandwich

This serves 2 people.

4 slices of multigrain or whole wheat bread

3 T. (tablespoons) of almond butter

4 tsp. (teaspoonsful) of crumbled crisp bacon

(about 2 slices were used, the brand given, “Applegate.”)

1 T. (tablespoon) of honey

1/2 tsp. (teaspoon) cinnamon

1 lg. banana

1. Arrange bread in even layer on a clean work surface.

2. Stir together almond butter, bacon, honey and cinnamon

in a small bowl.

3. Spread this concoction on bread, dividing it evenly on the

4 slices.

4. Slice banana and put on top of two of the slices of bread.

5. Put sandwiches together, the ones with bananas make the

bottom of each sandwich, (don’t want to tip them over!)

6. Put the two sandwiches on a heated grill, I used a little olive oil

or you could splurge with a touch of butter on this! Grilling this

will make amazing sandwiches. Scrumptious!

(If you must know the calorie count is 418 calories for just one

of the sandwiches.)

And, I really missed the idea of marshmallow fluff, which my Dad

always included in his pretend “Elvis” sammies.

 

 

 

 

 

The Week’s Winding Down…

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Although I think that we are almost all glad that it is coming

closer to the weekend, I do feel for those who work ‘weekend shifts’

and also, have to do second jobs, that begin on Friday. I thought I

would indulge you in another ‘play on words’ by using the words,

winding down. In this context and use of winding, the definition

almost means to ‘unwind.’ I won’t be able to carry on a long and

fun song list, like I did when I used two weeks’ of Monday’s to

incorporate the words, “rain,” “rainy,” and storms…

One song comes immediately to mind, “The Long and Winding Road,”

by the Beatles. I do so love that song!

On the subject of weather, it is a little S T R E T C H, but I would

like to have fun with songs with weather in them!

The first song with wind in it, of course would be Bob Dylan’s 1962

“Blowin’ in the Wind.” His distinctive voice lends a touch of character

and sensitivity to the song. Time does not change the remarkable lyrics,

that begin with the words,

“How many roads must a man walk down, before you call him a man?”

It talks about doves who sleep in the sand and it gets to the impact

of guns and bombs…

“How many cannonballs must fly, before they are forever banned?”

And the chorus,

“The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind…”

I think it became a peace anthem and anti-war one, too. I enjoy the

trio of Peter, Paul and Mary’s version, the best! Their blended

voices, in unison, form a perfect edition.

You may discover several famous artists who have performed this

song, over the years.

I heard the old song, “Windy,” on the radio station that plays out of

Mansfield, Ohio. I was driving on my way home from Mom’s over the

weekend. I could not help being taken back to a special memory far

in the depths of my brain… and long ago. Songs sure do take you

places!

The song, “Windy,” was recorded by a group called “The Association,”

and released in 1967. The song was sung various places, including

the Ravinia Festival. Ruthann Friedman wrote this ‘catchy’ little

popular song about a man. The groups who recorded it were all

male, so the character, “Windy,” became female.

Here are just the first two verses, you may remember the chorus,

by the time you start singing it!

“Who’s peekin’ out from under a stairway,

Calling a name that’s lighter than air?

Who’s bending down to give me a rainbow?

Everyone knows it’s Windy.

Who’s tripping down the streets of the city,

Smiling at everybody she sees?

Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment,

Everyone knows it’s Windy…”

This song has played on Top 100 lists and is one that my dear

parents would sing along to, in the car on long road trips.

It has some pleasant memories attached to it for me, lying on a

stack of pillows and blankets, with my two sleeping brothers, in

the back of a station wagon. Mom said, “I love you, Bob,” when it

was finished.

Have you heard this song before? I wondered about its familiarity

and age, if young people will recognize it. Any romantic thoughts

attached to this song for you?

The song, “Windy,’ has been presented in different ways. It

was incorporated into a “Breaking Bad” episode, lending it a kind

of ‘creepy’ vibe for me, (2011). It is played in a January, 2014

television show called, “Mike and Molly.” It is when Molly goes to

see her stepfather at a warehouse.

It has been included in a long list of romantic songs, with the

likes of “Cherish” and “Along Comes Mary.” The singers who have

recorded this in their albums have been diverse. Andy Williams,

Barry Manilow and others. I remembered the group, Gary Lewis and

the Playboys, but had forgotten their rendition of the song, “Windy.”

It has also been recorded as an instrumental song, played more in a

jazzy way, than its original sensitive, ‘pop’ song style.

Another interesting fact is that the song is in a Charlie Chan movie,

(1930). A male character in the movie, whistles in a similar tune

and rhythm as the song, “Windy.” He is gazing at a mirror.

This is utilized as a sweet serenade, in that it has no purpose but

to create a carefree moment.

There is a deeper message in the “Colors of the Wind,” by Stephen

Schwarz and Alan Menken. The children’s animated film that featured

this song, was called “Pocahontas.” Judy Kuhn voiced the character,

but later Vanessa Williams sang the song. It won Best Original Song,

at the Academy Awards, Golden Globes and at the Grammy’s in 1995, it

won Best Song Written for a Film. It is talking about Mother Nature,

Native Americans and our need to become careful inhabitants of the

earth and planet. I like the way the person singing it says, they

know every rock, tree and creature on the Earth. Each has a life,

a spirit and a name.

This is the chorus with wind included in it!

“Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon

Or the Eagle tell you where he’s been?

Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains?

Can you paint with all the colors of the wind?”

It is the same channel that featured the Rod Stewart “Classic”

called, “Maggie Mae.” I love his whiskey, gruff sounding voice,

that can give me chills with his emotional expressions.

It is almost May, which makes me happy that April is coming to

a close and excited about what is just around the corner.

I found a lovely quote by Helen Steiner Rice, who graces many

beautiful cards in Cracker Barrel, with her sweet messages.

The cards usually look like misty mornings, fiery sunsets or

floral arrangements. I like when they pair H. S. Rice’s words

with a country scene, possibly dandelions or daisies in an

overgrown grassy, dormant field. I like to picture dragonflies

and pretty butterflies, dancing in the warm, hazy sunshine.

“There’s Sunshine in a Smile”

Life is a mixture of sunshine and rain.

Laughter and pleasure, teardrops and pain.

All days can’t be bright, but it’s certainly true,

There was never a cloud the sun didn’t shine through~

So just keep on smiling whatever betide you.

Secure in the knowledge God (or your Higher Being) is always

beside you.

And you’ll find when you smile your day will be brighter

And all of your burdens will seem so much lighter~

For each time you smile you will find it is true

Somebody, somewhere will smile back at you,

And nothing on earth can make life more worthwhile

Thank the sunshine and warmth of a beautiful smile.”

Take a ‘bow,’ Helen Steiner Rice, nicely expressed!

“Let’s Go for a Ride!”

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When the word, “bicycle,” first appeared in print, it

was in an article in the English newspaper, “The Daily

News.” The writer spelled its variations as, ‘trysicles’

and ‘bysicles.’ This was in 1868. To put this into time

sequence and add perspective, the first car was invented

in 1886. Bicycles were around only 18 years longer. This

is rather hard to believe!

Original bicycles were totally different looking and the

foot-powered bikes were somewhat like hobby horses.

Their nickname, coming from the odd word combination

using a hobby horse, was “Dandy horse.”

In 1897, magazines advertising for ointments to ease

aches and pains, included women in these loose items of

clothing. They looked like “pantaloons” or as my friend,

Luanne suggested, “bloomers.” These women wore their hair

swept up into buns, with a hat held onto their hair, using

hat pins. The smaller hat, could have been replaced with a

wider brim, with netting to tie under the women’s chins.

The women, in the old fashioned ad, were preparing to ride

on bicycles.

To still look like a ‘lady,’ this clothing design makes

me smile. It accommodated women’s ‘right’ to ride bikes.

They could disembark from their bike, having the look of

wearing a longer skirt.

An author of a recent book, Thomas Ambrose, includes a

long passage about the impact of bicycles on women’s

equality. Here is part of that passage in the quotation

about women’s bicycling:

“As women got ideas that they wanted more social liberty,

this” (the fact that cars were expensive and they were

not able to purchase them) “became irksome. The coming

of the bicycle gave women freedom…the lady’s bicycle

is probably an emblem of emancipation.”

“The History of Cycling in Fifty Bikes,” (224 pp.),

by Irish author, Tom Ambrose. He rode bikes as a boy

in the 50’s and 60’s. Now, currently, as a grandfather

rides a ‘sporting amateur’s bike.’

When people while courting sometimes would say,

“Do you want to go for a drive? (or road trip?)”

this would sometimes include a stop at “Lover’s

Lane” before going home. If one were not able to

afford a car, you could travel with a bicycle with

your sweetheart. Another choice, you could have a

bicycle built for two, called a ‘tandem bike.’

The song with the chorus of “Daisy, Daisy, tell

me your answer true…” originally contains the

words, ‘bicycle built for two.’ It was written

in 1892 by Harry Dacre.

After all, you could still stop to have a picnic

or have a romantic moment under a tree.

There is a recent trend of using bikes to travel

as families, with the adults in the lead and they

have attached a wagon with a netted canopy-sort of

thing. The children are safely strapped down inside.

These are called, “cargo bikes.” I sometimes wonder

how those children feel, as they look out upon the

world, whisking briskly past them. Do they have any

focus to their views on nature, if the parents’ travel

route is on a bike path in a park? Do the children

have any thoughts on the lack of clarity of their

scenery? Is it rather blurry, once the bikes start

going down the paths quickly. Maybe they love the way

it feels going ‘fast’ through life?

In the 1960’s and 70’s, the new trend then, was to be

more conscious of the environment. The gas prices then

and other areas of society were soaring (just imagine

if we could go back to what the rising prices were

then! Smile!) I can picture someone who was a hippie

then, saying ‘ride on’ instead of ‘right on!’

Anyway, being aware of the natural resources brought

about the movement to cycle to work.

In some big cities, they started adding a cycling

lane. Of course, in Eastern countries, this was an

older pattern, from rickshaws to bicycling in China

and India, along with other countries whose cities

were getting engorged with traffic jams.

The low cost and community sense of bikes, also was

apparent while I was growing up. There were more

‘fix-it’ or bicycle repair stores around back then.

In communes, if one weren’t walking or riding a horse,

you may have a bicycle to get from the country into

town.

Racing bicycles became popular and the biggest race

of this sort, was the Tour de France competition. This

came about in 1903.

Some different, unusual advancements in the bicycling

world that are notable are:

The Lucas bike lamp, an early oil lamp, made night time

bicycling safer.

Inflatable tire, thanks to John B. Dunlop’s invention.

Wire spokes, kudos to James Stanley’s creative usage.

In the Viet Nam war era, North Viet Nam bikes were

painted in camouflage, allowing many dangerous and

silent war events of bombs and shootings to occur.

Gears, derailers, carbon filters and more improvements

have been made over the years.

There was a Spring in the past eight years, while I

have been single when I dated a man, casually. After

we had been together a year, I had a moment where I

visualized the movie with Tom Crew, Renee Zewelleger

and Cuba Gooding. No, it was not, “Show me the money!”

It was that romantic line delivered by Renee Z. to

Tom’s character:

“You had me at, ‘Hello.'”

The man I was dating said,

“I would like to buy you a bicycle and keep it in my

garage for us to ride in different Central Ohio Metro

Parks.”

The line redone could have been, “You had me at buying

me a bike!”

That was ‘as good as it gets!’ I really don’t need a

sparkling diamond ring nor a proposal!

It meant something, it meant some future good times.

We bought a nice red “cruising bicycle” with red and

white Hawaiian pattern. It was a reasonably priced

Schwinn bike. It had a bell! It had a light! I was so

thrilled! I had called my brother, Rich, for some

shopping input, since he is a triathlon racer and

uses a racing bike for one of the ‘legs’ of those

races. He told me the three speed bike, with hand

brakes, would be an ‘easy adjustment’ for me.

We went on a short bike ride that weekend. I headed

home, ready to call my best friend (or two) to brag

that I finally had reached a sort of commitment with

this man.

The following weekend, I headed over on a sunny day,

anticipating a wonderful afternoon of riding our bikes

together. That just seemed, to me, one of the most fun

and romantic pastimes ever!

When we opened this man’s garage, he was pulling his

bike off its hooks on the wall, while I approached my

bike which was leaning against the wall. I dragged it

out into the sunshine. It was hard to roll. Oh no!

Both tires were flat. While the man looked up the

weight of the tires and got his air pump out, I had

a weird sense of doom. I know, you will call it some

kind of intuition. I was starting to babble, showing

frustration. I was flabbergasted:

“How could this have happened in one short week?”

I verbalized my fears:

“Is this a sign or something?”

I could not stop my heart from sinking, as I sat out

in the yard, looking up at the bright blue sky and

pondering the significance.

I heard what sounded like a gun shot. It was the stupid

inner tube exploding inside the tire. That sinking

feeling sunk more. He had simply over-inflated it.

I don’t know why I was being so anxious, but I was!

I tried to breathe deeply, tried to allow calm to fill

me up.

When he emerged from the garage, he had ‘accidentally’

exploded BOTH inner tubes. I don’t know why, but I

realized this may have been on purpose. I reflected

back upon the purchase the past weekend, how he had

exclaimed. as we passed a park,

“That is the park I used to ride all the time with

my ex-girlfriend.”

You may think I am crazy, but when he asked me, note

that he did not tell me,

“Do you want to take the bike back and get another one?

We could say we didn’t notice that the bike’s tires

were flat…”

I noticed that he did not say,

“Let’s go buy new inner tubes.”

I sighed and replied,

“Just take the bike back.”

He looked at me,

“Are you sure, Robin?”

He didn’t argue or try to talk me back into this

decision.

I then knew that the bike represented ‘too much

commitment.’ The relationship went downhill after

that. Weeks later, he was back with his ex, probably

riding those same paths with her.

When I talk about a bucket list, plans to travel far

and wide. I would be happy to have a bike and a man to

ride, here in Ohio. This is not that much to ask for!

I have many fond memories of bike rides with friends,

brothers, Science Club and loved ones. I hope that I

did not detract from the positive opinion I have about

bicycles!

This Spring and Summer, if you have a bicycle, get it

fixed up and ready to go on a marvelous ride! There

are many reasons, to enjoy scenery, move up and down

hills, pump your legs for exercise and for the special

way it feels to be on a bike! Some people who feel

hiking is overwhelming or hard on their feet, will

enjoy getting on a bicycle. It is still a rather

reasonable purchase, comparatively speaking, to

other sports equipment.

Don’t worry, it is not like you will have forgotten

how to ride!

It is like that old adage, “Get right back on that

horse and ride it.”

By the way, I think that would be an equally fun way

to travel around parks that accommodate horses. But,

what I really meant to say is,

“Get your bike out and enjoy the ride!

… and don’t forget your bike helmet!”