Category Archives: Europe

Mystery about a Sister

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Be prepared to read about a woman’s story, one which may or may

not have been relevant and meaningful to the musical world. I feel

there is a true basis and possibility that she made a big difference in

how her famous brother became who he was. I have to admit, I was

on my  own personal “movie fest” over the weekend. Originally I was

thinking, I would just post some of my favorites and give short film

critiques.

 

Somehow, this evolved into something ‘bigger’ than I expected. It

was time-consuming and yet, I felt like a private investigator with

her mind open and ready for understanding and analyzing the facts.

I looked up, using different sources, to find out more about this

fascinating woman.

 

Now that I may, or may not, have your attention, I will tell you the

riveting movie that led to my research.

 

MOVIE REVIEW:

“Mozart’s Sister,” a French film which needs you to read the sub-titles.

 

In the movie,  which came out in 2011, Rene Feret is the director

and a young actress who is his daughter, Marie Feret, plays the

sister to her character’s famous younger brother. Historical details

that were  discerned through research shall follow this summary of

this fine movie.

 

First, here are three splendid comments from famous reviewers,

starting with one who’s deceased.  Roger Ebert, “Chicago Sun-Times,”

was always one of my favorite reviewers. He is such a trustworthy

man to recommend movies.

(Of course, many of you will recognize his name and the television

show which I used to enjoy- “Siskel and Ebert at the Movies.”)

 

Here is what Roger Ebert said of, “Mozart’s Sister:”

“Marie Feret is luminous.” (in this role.)

 

David Noh, “Film Journey” says:

“A triumph!”

 

Ronnie Scheib, “Variety” Magazine:

“A treat for classical music lovers and cinephiles alike.”

 

What was a turning point in this movie which motivated me to

investigate and research?

What happened to make me seek the truth?

 

When Leopold Mozart, father of Maria Anna (also referred to as

Marianne and affectionately known as, “Nannerl”) tells his only

daughter when she is interested in writing musical compositions,

“Harmony and counterpoint are not understood by women.”

 

Of course, this caused me to say indignantly to my television screen

which was innocently displaying the film,

“That’s outrageous!”

 

Big sister, “Nannerl,” is helpful to toddler brother, “Wolfie,” and

helps him practice his keyboard lessons on a harpsichord. This

baroque instrument is lovely sounding. The scales and other early

beginning lessons are closely supervised by their father.

 

At age 5 or 6, “Wolfie” is paraded in front of wealthy families and

is also given an audience with royalty. He is a cute boy and shows

great potential and musical aptitude. The film shows Wolfgang

using creative interpretation of the music and dramatic arm

flourishes. He was supposedly beginning to write his own musical

compositions at age 4 or 5.

 

In the beginning of the movie,  their coach’s wheel breaks after

going over a rut in the country road. It is late and the Mozart family

stays in a nearby nunnery. It is interesting to note that there are

two sisters living there. Their story emphasizes the difference in

the way male and female genders were treated in this period of time.

The two girls have been shuffled and taken away from the palace,

being raised by nuns.

 

At one point, there is a name mentioned of the two girls’ brother,

who is being raised to be a ‘Royal.’ The part that Maria Anna plays,

and is asked to carry out a charade, is to transport a letter to their

brother, if the Mozart family should be ever happen to appear at

Court. Anna Maria treasures this new friendship and promises to

keep the letter safe and take it to their estranged brother.

 

This movie would engage someone who has been enjoying the inner

workings of the staff and upper class levels or tiers of British society

on the PBS show, “Downton Abbey.” Although this is a whole other

period of time, there are still the ideas of class structure and family

expectations being expressed. Definitely, it is an eye-opener in both

the film about the late 1700’s and the television series of the 1900’s.

Traditions and historical details about clothing, customs and roles

women and men played also are featured in both of these storylines.

 

At the end of the film, there is not much said about Nannerl’s  being

anything but helpful to her brother.  There are no illusions that she

may have helped Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart compose his greatest

works.

 

In the movie’s middle,  there is a nice romantic interlude, where

Maria Anna disguises herself as a boy, in a white-haired wig, to give

the hand written letter to the young Monarch from his sister. They

use the young man’s title in the film as ‘Louis XV.’ This story becomes

a very sweet part of the movie. I will not tell you about how it unfolds,

hoping you will someday pursue viewing this one. I will say it depicts

Nannerl’s character as having spunk, showing independence and also,

her romantic side.

 

Before the credits roll, there are a few sparse details given. The written

lettering after the movie ends mentions Maria Anna helped to write

some of her own sonatas as a young woman. It mentions she helped

Wolfgang transcribe his first writings, since he scribbled them. There

is a subtle undertone of the possibility that she was his ‘muse.’  As his

sister, she may have written (created) some of his early works.

 

The movie has places that explain traditional upbringing of “fine young

ladies.” The women are encouraged to wait on men, not to further their

education. Maria Anna tries to ‘rock the establishment.’ Her mother has

disappointment and her father shows anger for her independent streak.

She doesn’t wish to follow the social order of the period. I was rooting

for her, all the way!

 

RESEARCH:

If you enjoy history and reading about a famous person’s family,

you may enjoy this part of the post. . .

 

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived from January 1756 until December,

1791. There is confusion about why he died at such an early age of 35.

 

He was the son of a musician and teacher of music, Leopold Mozart.

His mother was named Anna. He was born in Salzburg, which later

became part of, or known as,  Austria. Wolgang’s father and mother

had seven children, only two that lived beyond infancy. The oldest

living child was a daughter named Maria Anna, nicknamed, “Nannerl.”

There were four years between the two children, sister and brother.

 

When Wolfgang was 3 years old, his sister was learning her lessons,

which included language, music and reading. She was practicing

with her brother close by her side. Later, she would be by his side,

while he was the one leading the lessons. This relationship lasted

probably all of their childhood. “Wolfie” was her little shadow,

trying to do everything she did.

 

There is a notebook that Leopold made for Maria Anna, which is

known as “Nannerl’s Notenbuch” or also written as, “Notenbuch

fur Nannerl.” In English, this was “Nannerl’s Music Book.” This

amazing composition book demonstrated the first lessons that

Leopold gave to her, along with her brother. It consists of only

(originally) 48 pages, now only 36 pages remain.  This book has

her father’s exercises for her practicing beginner harpsichord

pieces. This also included anonymous minuets and some of her

father’s  original  works.  Two composers,  Carl P. E. Bach and

George C. Wagenseil, had their pieces transcribed as passages

in this musical exercise book.

 

In 1982, a man (just a coincidence) named Wolfgang Plath

studied the handwriting within the Notebook and attributed

the variety to consist of five different handwriting samples

or sources. There are evidences of the collaboration between

Leopold, the father, and his son, “Wolfie.”

 

Leopold took his family touring around countries and the cities

of Vienna, Austria and Paris, France. Maria Anna Mozart was

born in 1751 and lived 78 years, until 1829. When she became a

young lady, it was considered inappropriate for her to continue

to publicly play the harpsichord, piano or sing. Up until she was

18, Maria was part of her musical touring family. A biographer

considered her to be a great singer and an,

“Excellent harpsichord player and fortepiano player.”

 

Sadly, there is no mention about Nannerl being a conduit, or

letter transporter, between the sisters raised in a nunnery and a

member of Louis XV’s “Court” or “Royalty.”  This was the main

part of the plot I enjoyed in the movie I reviewed earlier.

 

At age 18, Maria Anna went home to Salzburg with her mother,

to teach musical lessons and stay at home. The following reason

was mentioned in one source,

“This was due to her being of marriageable age.”

 

Wolfgang and his father both wrote letters to Maria Anna which

some have been saved. Wolfgang during the 1770’s, was touring

in Italy and mentioned Nannerl’s writing musical compositions

and Wolfgang goes so far as to ‘praise her musical works.’

 

There are no references in her multiple letters from her father

to any of her own musical compositions in his correspondence.

 

An interesting note (and slightly salacious fact) is mentioned

in some of the biographers’ notes about Maria Anna’s and

Wolfgang’s close, intimate relationship. When they were young,

they developed a “secret language” and they had an “imaginary

kingdom.” They pretended they were married and carried out

their positions while playing together, as “Queen” and “King.”

 

There are a few indications and there is evidence of Wolfgang’s

using sexual wordplay which he used in other letters to his

lovers or girlfriends. This can be found also in the words he

chose and were included in his writing to his sister. One

historian considers this to be a ‘strange relationship’ for a

sister and a brother.

 

As an aside, my two brothers and I would play ‘house’ but

we would not have myself be the “mother” and one of my

brothers be the “father.” We would instead play that one of

the brothers was the “father” and other brother and I were

his “children.” Like the old television show, “Family Affair,”

where the uncle has “Buffy” and twins “Cissy” and “Jody.”

(I used to love this show, with Sebastian Cabot playing the

butler/nanny and Brian Keith playing the bachelor uncle.

did you know it ran from 1966 until 1971?) Or I would play

the ‘mother’ role and the brothers were my ‘kids.’ We usually

had company or neighbors over.  Once in awhile, they would

‘marry’ one of my girlfriends, or once in awhile, I would ‘marry’

one of their guy friends. I mention this to confirm that I would

also think it strange that the siblings played ‘Queen and King’

together over a Kingdom.

 

A sad note about Maria Anna’s independence shown in the

movie, “Mozart’s Sister.” This is not to be found anywhere in

any biographies or any letters. She is shown to be subservient

to her father, allowing him to forbid her to marry a man named,

“Franz d’Ippold.”  They were both young, he was a Captain and

a private tutor. When he proposed, there is an implication she

would have liked to say, “Yes.”  There is a letter in the family’s

collection where her brother, Wolfgang, tried to persuade her to

stand up to her father. Ultimately, Maria Anna was ‘forced’ to

turn down Captain Franz d’Ippold’s proposal.

 

Years went by, Maria Anna was allowed to marry at age 32, when

asked by a man named Johann Baptist Franzvan Berchtold  “un

Sonnenburg.” They were  married in 1783.  Listen to the “fun” life

Maria Anna participated in:  She became the wife of a widower

with five children she helped to raise. She had three more of her

own children with Johann. When she had her first born son,

she named him Leopold. Her father insisted on taking the her

only son to raise him in Salzburg at his home. The biography

doesn’t mention her mother’s role in this drama. From 1785

until he died in 1787, Leopold Sr. wrote letters and in a journal

telling about his toilet training Jr. and teaching him how to talk.

 

There was no mention of the boy’s illness nor a reason why he

should not have been raised as a baby until age 2 by his own

mother.  There is some speculation for her father’s thinking he

would raise another musical prodigy. Since he felt he was the

reason Wolfgang A. Mozart turned out the way he did.

 

After all, Leopold Mozart, Sr. did write and publish a violin

music textbook.

 

SUMMARY:

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was known for his classical

musical compositions, which included over 600 works.

They include symphonies, concertos, operas and choral

music.

 

Beethoven, while young, lived in the shadow of Mozart.

During his early years composing his own original music,

he was constantly compared to Mozart’s body of work.

 

Composer, Joseph Hayden said of Mozart’s legacy:

“Posterity will not see such a talent in another 100 years.”

 

Wolfgang A. Mozart married Constanze and had two sons.

He died at the early age of 35 years old.

His magnificent “Requiem” was never completed.

His music is still revered and considered the best in classical

music.

 

Maria Anna was never given any credit (that I could find out

about) for her influence on her brother’s music nor were any

of her musical compositions published. The book, “Nannerl’s

Notenbuch” is not considered to be anything but her lesson

book to practice and play music using the hand written

exercises.

 

I need to see the movie, “Amadeus,”  (again) to see if there

are any musical or notable references to his sister. If you

have a good memory or recently seen this, let me know in

the comments whether there is mention of Anna Maria

Mozart please.

 

I strongly recommend, “Mozart’s Sister” as a film to savor

and enjoy, while wishing the story line really happened.

 

Truthfully, being an older sister myself, how could “Nannerl”

NOT have had an influence upon her little brother, “Wolfie?”

 

Either way you look at this famous musician’s life,

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart made a huge impact

on the musical world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rolling with Laughter

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Coworkers are my source of humor and constancy in my daily routine.

We tend to miss each other over weekends, sometimes I feel it is due

to our being ‘displaced’ from our lines of preferred professions. All of

my fellow table mates at lunch and break were in other jobs before they

came to work at the warehouse.

When Melvin went off to Massachusetts, the week seemed to drag

forever.

 

This week, just the first three days already, have been hysterical. He

regales us with tall tales of lobster 3 or 4 times eaten daily. He is also

teaching us more and more about the Army life he led.

 

You may remember a long ago post about Melvin being raised by

parents from an island. By the time they came to America, they had

chosen Massachusetts as their home. I think the link, “cous cous” may

connect you to that story. . . We feel this is an interesting ‘thread’ that

connects the two of us. Since my Mom’s parents were both immigrants,

meeting on a street corner in New York City, but choosing to live in

Connecticut. My Grandpa’s father had chosen Massachusetts, where

my Grandpa went to school and his sister lived there, once adults.

Grandpa had moved away from there to go to the engineering or

‘technical college’ in New York City. He knows we both like many of

the New England specialties, too.

 

Melvin had been a good student in school. He decided to go into the

Army to get a ‘free education.’ Instead, he found his true interest or

“calling” in cooking. He did not go to culinary arts institute. He went

to Germany while in the Army, where he had an amazing time learning

about German food preparation. Then, he followed this with his next

tour of duty being spent on the Army base in Hawaii. Where native

fresh fruits are part of the daily Army diet. He excitedly described to us

at break today, they are also cut specially into shapes like lotus flowers

and birds, presented on the platters as ‘garnishes.’

We pursued this culinary specialty subject awhile, “Not in Officer’s

Club, but Mess Hall grub has garnishes?”

“Yes,” Melvin intoned then elaborating, “The different things you

can create varies from vegetables to fruits. A large melon, zucchini,

radishes or apples you make sliced criss-crosses, blanch them in

boiling water and quickly place them in icy water. The hot water gets

them to open up like a lotus blossom.”

He added, “Did you know that the Army never adds new amounts

of a food to an older dish?” (You know how while at a buffet or a

salad bar, they add more potato salad to the old? Nope, this NEVER

happens in the Army dining room!)

 

So, Melvin brought me the delicious German wine last year, which

he mentioned that in Germany at Christmas, the shops downtown

have little tables of treats and ‘shot glasses’ of drinks. They also warm

their wines and give out tastes of these. He contributed to my sense

of ‘culture’ while I shared this with my Mom and family last year.

Mom said a toast in German, which was one about health and love.

(My Mom’s mother was born in Germany. She told me to thank

Melvin. He had bought this on the Rickenbacker Air Force base,

as a gift to me. So thoughtful, you can see why he is a ‘keeper,’

when it comes to friends!)

 

Another morsel he shared with us was of an Army skill he acquired

while in Germany. He informed us they would bring in huge blocks

of ice and there would be one skilled ice sculptor who would create

lovely centerpieces for Army banquets at holidays. He apprenticed

and learned this amazing skill.

Again, we asked Melvin, “Do you mean ordinary Army enlisted men

would have banquets with carved ice decorations on their tables?”

We were incredulous. I am hoping there may be some enlisted men

from the past, who will confirm this outlandish ‘story.’

Really, please let me know. . .

“Yes,” Melvin looked and sounded like he had the Bible and would

“solemnly swear that this was the truth, the whole truth, so help

him God.”

Melvin then proceeded to tell us about mountains, ski cabins and

other etchings in his German ice sculptures. Then, he decided to

mention how he created elaborate Hawaiian ice sculptures with

volcanoes, trees and ocean waves along beaches. He had learned

how to, sculpt detailed floral arrangements out of ice. We wished

he had photographs but we believe his stories.

 

So, when Melvin got back from Massachusetts, we listened to how

he and his ‘my lady’ had lobster omelets, lobster rolls and lobster

linguini. He emphatically repeated this annoying part (we were

jealous, that is why we were annoyed), “I ate lobster 3 or 4 times

a day!” Upon repetition,  we still did not roll our eyes, since he was

entertaining us quite brilliantly. Never a dull moment at the good,

old warehouse with Melvin around.

 

Melvin’s accent had changed over his one week “Back home, out East.”

He vocalizes the sound of his “r’s” to “h’s” so his car was a “cah.” You

could close your eyes and imagine a Kennedy speaking. He sounds so

“cultured.” We tell him he should take his “lady friend” to England

and get their full ‘edification.’ Come back with a British accent. Then,

being the dramatic ‘ham’ that he is, he put his little pinky out and

pretended to hold a tea cup and saucer. He attempted an imitation

British tea party, exclaiming “Cheerio, my deah ones, we need to

order some crumpets and scones.”

 

Melvin told us how offended he was McDonald’s thinks “frappes”

sound like “frapays” while most New Englanders know “frappes”

rhyme with “wraps.” The real ‘frappes’ are delicious old fashioned

milk shakes made of real ice cream and whole milk, with flavors with

real chocolate syrup or real whipped cream. It makes me think of the

rants that began with this funny question, “Don’t you understand the

words that are coming out of my mouth?” from the two movies, with

Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in “Rush Hour’ (one and two.)

 

Whenever Melvin opens his mouth, we laugh. He is full of spirit, likes

to tease and pull your leg. There is always a chance,  at any moment,

for his voice to  become high-pitched and indignant about something.

This is what he calls his “Ohio homey’s” slang and attitude.

 

The story Melvin finished with was about his days of being the Head

Cook at the Marysville Penitentiary. He claims that at any point in

time, you could run into a sister of a male inmate, while she is in

the female cellblocks. Or a mother! There was a special occasion,

where the Warden had arranged for a comedienne named, Monique,

to entertain the inmates. She is a known African American stand-up

comic, who uses ‘blue’ (vulgar) humor in her sketches and anecdotes.

Melvin smiled wide, snorting while remembering some of the skits

or jokes she told.

Melvin finally stopped laughing and  said, “The Warden got up from

his seat in the front of the room, apparently unaware of her type of

humor, with a bright red face, looking down as he walked to the back

of the room, quietly exiting. Everyone clapped and hooted, encouraging

this Monique to ‘carry on,’ with her crass jokes.”

 

I had a chance to change the subject at second break and told my

good friends that yesterday was the 51st anniversary of Push Button

Telephones. (I had already decided to post about the serious subject

of Malala and her Nobel Peace Prize.) So, you are finding this fact

out a day later than my coworkers!

 

ATT first presented these new phones to Pennsylvania residents on

November 18, 1963. The original Push Button phones had only ten

buttons, while in 1968 they added two more buttons (#) and (*). This

squared off phone replaced my favorite old fashioned  rotary phone.

Going along with the raucous humor and our improved mood, since

it was our Melvin’s long-lost return, we used our fingers to squeeze

our noses, to make our vocalizations to sound nasal and together

we imitated one of the greatest comedians ever, Lily Tomlin, by

chanting:

“One ringy dingy, two ringy dingy” and so forth, making the funny

character of the old time operator from variety shows of the 60’s

of “Ernestine,” come back alive. Tammy and I were rolling while

Melvin, who is a great imitator of voices, was pretending to be

the character.

 

In honor of Melvin, though, I will tell you his favorite singer is not

who you would expect. If you remember my post, “Someone Saved

My Life Today,” you may remember Melvin loves Elton John, so

does his girlfriend. The songs he says are ones that get him up and

dancing are:

“Honky Cat” and “Crocodile Rock.”

Melvin is one ‘hep cat’ who knows how to ‘jive!’

 

“Raise Your Glass” to Hard Cider!

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I have eclectic drinking tastes, which include some of those malt-flavored

drinks that resemble ‘wine coolers,’ from the seventies. I have an occasional

beer, support Fatheads’ micro brews, since they help my brother’s artistry in

their logo-painted walls. I enjoy wine, savoring the layers of flavor, such as

can be found in Lake Erie wineries. I enjoy the reds like Cabernet Sauvignon,

Merlot and Pink Catawba wine made from Catawba grapes. Recently, though,

I have ‘discovered’ the Cincinnati, Ohio company of Boston Beer Co. which

produces the biggest hard cider in the U.S. I think you will recognize, even if

you are not a hard cider drinker, the name of “Angry Orchard.” Business in

the hand-crafted apple cider area of beverages is booming! From 2007 until

last year’s total sales of hand-crafted hard cider, it went from $200 million

dollar business to a tripled amount of $600 million!

The largest areas producing hard cider can be found in New York, Michigan,

Washington and Oregon. Great locations for apple orchards and to create

this hard cider, you need to be close to where they grow. A man named Peter

Moon, used to have a shop in Columbus Easton Town Center called, “Color

Your World.” He has been working on his own personal recipe for hard cider,

seeing great potential in the Central Ohio area.

Historically speaking, we may consider the American apple pie an icon for

our country, but apple cider made into hard cider came over on the Mayflower,

with those Pilgrims. We can find records of barrels of fermented apple juice

packed along with all the other necessities needed to start a community in

America. This makes sense since apples were readily available to farmers and

the Pilgrims needed to ‘brace’ themselves, so to speak, for a whole different

World! This could be considered America’s first ‘drink’ they toasted safe arrival

here…

To go even farther, this article I found discussing apples being fermented into

hard cider, it is totally possible that the signers of the Declaration of Independence

had pewter goblets of this ‘brewed’ cider.

I am happy to soon ‘ditch’ the Angry Orchard brand of hard apple cider for a new

‘brew’ made by Peter Moon who is calling his cidery, “Mad Moon Craft Cider.” You

know my fascination with the moon? This means it is ‘fate’ that I travel southward

and check out this new place he has. I need to try this!

In a recent Columbus Dispatch article, introducing this new company, it mentions there

is a humble organization and simplicity in the Mad Moon company’s headquarters.

There is a sign hanging by the office,

“Cider for the People.”

It is representative of the company’s signature. These 4 words are a ‘take off’ of a Populist

slogan and sentiments from William Henry Harrison’s 1840 Presidential campaign. W. H.

Harrison was known to be a ‘hard-cider-drinking frontiersman.’ (Sept. 12, 2004 Columbus

Dispatch article.)

When Prohibition came along in 1920. hard cider lost its’ place in the people’s popularity

of beverages to imbide in. There was moonshine and illegal brews, but when Prohibition was

repealed, beers were the most popular drink.

Today’s society is always looking for something ‘new’ to discover and try. There are many of

the population trying homemade beer and apple cider brewing, along with winemaking.

They ‘crave’ unique beverages and as hosts and hostesses, offering a variety of choices.

In Columbus, Ohio we have around 13 beer breweries, some hobbyists and home brewers

are now opening ‘cideries.’ It is just a small beginning, the tip of an iceberg of beverages and

there is an ‘open market’ for this here.

Starting at the ground level, Peter Moon, has 750 gallons of apple juice fermenting in three

of Mad Moon Craft Cider’s 10 large tanks. The labels are still in ‘rough draft’ stage of the

business. I liked the bottle’s design in the photograph accompanying the Dispatch’s article.

Apples need to be originally grown from European seeds, what is considered “old seeds.”

They are stronger flavored apples, with savory and distinct ‘tones’ to their taste. Ohio farmers

find them to not be able to resist fungi and diseases. This seems to be a concern and a ‘work

in progress.’ So far, one of the farms that is selling their apples for hard cider has been able

to recommend the strength of ‘gold rush apples.’ I can relate to this search, when I make my

homemade apple crisp I like the softer apples of Rome, Gala and have tried others, too.

In Licking County, (Ohio), there is a hard cider being sold as, “Legend Valley Cider.”

This company has 50 accounts on their ‘books,’ so far. They await the end of the apple growing

year of crops to start their second year of production.

This is a stretch of my imagination, but I think Benjamin Franklin would have been proud of

the return to apple cider fermentation. It is what Early Americans would have respected. Freedom

to consume and continuing in the independent spirit of free enterprise, too.

So,  “Raise Your Glass” to toast the return of hard cider!

(Thanks to Pink, (2010) song, “Raise Your Glass!”)

 

What are you drinking?

If you don’t like alcoholic beverages, do you like apple cider?

I sure do associate apple cider with Fall or Autumn.

Pause to Reflect

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I have had a wonderful day, half of it working. It went by quickly! The other half

of this beautiful June 6th day,  I spent walking around the unique and incredible

“Schnormeier Gardens.” This is a place to feel peaceful and harmonious with

nature. The owners allow people to visit only a short time every year. They have

a lot of Asian influences in their sculptures, the beautiful gardens and pagodas.

There is a Japanese garden house, a Chinese pavilion and 75 acres to explore!

Ted and Ann Schnormeier say this simple welcome to people,

“It has been said that a garden can have a soul… but only if it is shared with others.”

While my friend and I sat and reflected upon D-Day today and its being 70 years

ago, we thought: we are so lucky. We don’t have this drama, the horrors and

conflict of that particular WWII to live through. The honest, serious show of

strength that young men and women who were participants in this war is

amazing.

The fight to save our integrity and defend our freedom from the tyranny of

Adolf Hitler is one that cannot be easily comprehended.  The French people

still praise our efforts in the invasion of Normandy. We left a positive mark,

at least in this corner of the world!

Out to eat, with my good guy friend, Bill, he mentioned that I should include

President Eisenhower, then General, during this period of time. Bill considers

Dwight D. Eisenhower the ‘mastermind’ behind the WWII invasion of Normandy.

When I asked my good friend who had driven me to the special gardens

what she would have done, had she been alive during this time.

We were silent, watching the fountains of manmade waterfalls, splashing and

filling the air with its negative ions.

Breathing deeply and serenely relaxed, despite the serious subject at hand.

When the silence had lingered on for quite some time,  I decided to say,

“I would have volunteered to work on the home front, making factory life

my choice of supporting the war effort. I don’t think I have the fortitude or

inner strength to fight and kill people, even if my family’s lives were in danger;

or my own. I would try to talk my way out of death. I would have wanted

Peace to be the result, but not been brave enough to fight.”

While at work, I asked Melvin what his favorite movie about the D-Day part

of history would be. He reminded me that his overall favorite movie with

war is, Clint Eastwood in, “Heartbreak Ridge.” His second favorite is,

“Flags of our Fathers.”

After thinking for a few moments, Melvin replied, “Patton.” He reminded

me of some of Patton’s character and personality traits were. He also

explained that Patton had a grasp on historical wars, including the Romans.

He also said that while stationed in Chicago, he saw at Fort Sheraton,

a huge portrait of General Patton. He felt that George C. Scott did an

excellent acting job.

He also introduced me to another fact I did not remember or comprehend

its significance. This was that Omar Bradley was the last of the Five Star

Brigadier Generals. There had been only eight others. He led millions of men,

been the head of the United States Army and was a fine and outstanding

example of service to our country. He lived to age 88 years old, a life well led.

The two Generals , Patton and Bradley, had been important to WWII in so

many ways, but hearing Melvin wax on about them, filled my own pacifist

heart with pride.

I am so glad that Melvin was able to remind me, on a personal level of

the impact that having good men to lead the armed forces, meant the

difference in winning the war!

Melvin,  having met General Bradley, when he was older at an Army event

said he took the time to shake many men’s hands.

Melvin also told me that he would have liked to have been involved in

the war in Europe. He was blessed to have been a cook, in many places

traveling the world, from Hawaii, Germany, other jaunts in Europe with

day passes, along with asking to be in a quiet place in the Mid West to

complete his Army time, before retiring.

As we were on the subject of military service, Melvin shared that his older

brother had served during the Viet Nam War. He had been stationed in

Thailand, where his mail was postmarked. But, later, the family found out

he had been in Cambodia, in the ‘thick of things.’ It was not a pleasant time,

not many memories have been shared between the brothers. Melvin has

asked him to tell him more, one retired Army man to another, brother to

brother.

Melvin was so surprised that he and his family were never allowed to know

exactly what his brother’s experiences had been.

Melvin says that his brother was in Special Operations, in the Army. He

had sworn an “Oath of Secrecy.” The fact that he continues to be silent

about his participation in the Viet Nam War, along with being vague about

where he was during most of his time, impresses Melvin.

It also made a big impression on me! I know, for a fact, that I would not be

able to make a promise of keeping a secret from my loved ones, like his brother

did!

I would not recommend “Celebrating D-Day.”

The word “celebrate” doesn’t seem like the right choice.

I would hope that you would take time to pause and reflect.

If you were active in any military service or married to a member of the

Armed Forces, I salute you!

I hope and pray you did not lose a member to any war or skirmish.

In that case, I sympathize and honor the dead.

And, sincerely thank you.

All Kinds of “Fixes”

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In their third album, “X & Y,” songs and lyrics by Coldplay, there

is a lovely song called, “Fix You.” The British rock group was

founded in 1996. Two college friends, Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland,

started together having met at University College, London, England.

Their group, also, includes Guy Berryman and Will Champion.

The breakdown of the musical group, Coldplay’s talents goes like this:

Guy Berryman is on acoustical guitar, Jonny Buckland plays percussion

instruments, Chris Martin is talented on the piano and Will Champion

plays the piano, also. They have contributed to the writing of many

of the group’s songs together.

The song, “Fix You,” has a slow, sweet pace with some sadness in the

lyrics. It is about someone who is broken, who doesn’t ‘know their worth.’

The singer is expressing the desire to fix that person. I find it a song

that ‘haunts’ me.

I almost included this song in my “Homeward Reflections” post. I felt

that my poem, partly inspired by the Simon and Garfunkel song, “Homeward

Bound,” could have been a ‘bookend’ to “Fix You.” (The album, “X & Y,”

came out in June, 2005 in the UK and Europe.)

Only the lyrics held me back. . .

I was a little bit disturbed by the implied arrogance of the title.

Also, the idea that someone felt capable of ‘fixing’ anyone other than

themself.

Probably, I was a little brought ‘down’ by my own personal inner feelings

of having possibly chosen, in past relationships, ‘broken people.’ Some

sense of inadequacy naturally derived from several failed marriages.

Was I saddened because this made me examine these feelings again?

Am I one who likes to play God and “fix” others?

I wanted that post to be positive and upbeat, so I left the Coldplay

song, “Fix You,” out of the post.

While talking to others, since that ‘home’ post, I found they thought

that I may be misinterpreting the words of the song.

I am also intrigued with analyzing the different ways that we use the

words, “fix,” “fixing/fixin’s,” and “fixed.” I have upon reflection,

decided I don’t like the lyrics, but still absolutely adore the song

by Coldplay’s artists, Chris Martin, Jonny Buckland (and others) in the

lyrics’ credits.

My favorite parts are the beginning stanzas and the repeated (3 x)

refrains.

Here are those ‘pieces’ and help me to understand what “fix you,” means

in this song:

“Fix You

“When you try your best,

but you don’t succeed.

When you get what you want,

but not what you need.

When you feel so tired,

but you cannot sleep.

Stuck in reverse…”

(“Tears” stanza)…

(“You’ll never know what you’re worth” stanza)…

Refrain:

“Lights will guide you home

And ignite your bones

And I will try to fix you.”

The definition of “fix” includes the ideas of

Repair,

Mend,

Prepare,

Make whole,

and many more definitions.

In my favorite part of looking at a word, I like to engage in ‘word play.’

It helps me to think in terms of lists of uses of “fix,” “fixing,” “fixin’s”

and “fixed.”

This may be challenging to understand if you are used to another language!

This also may confuse you, but variations of the word, “fix,” can be shown

in both negative and positive connotations.

POSITIVE uses of the words that have a root word of “fix:”

1. “fixer-upper” house- one that someone would purchase, make it better by

putting their hard efforts into. It is usually a first home, but sometimes

fixed up to become a rental or ‘turn around’ home. (Real Estate.)

2. “Fix-o-dent” can be quite helpful to keep elderly (and toothless) persons’

dentures in place. (Personal Hygiene.)

3. “fixin’s”- In the south, sometimes in the ‘hills’ people consider this

the delicious side dishes that go with the main meal. Cracker Barrel had

a section with this label for quite some time.

I especially like the expression, “all the fixin’s.” (Food Preparation.)

4. “fix up”- When you are getting fixed up to go out, your appearance

usually is improved!

Example: “My, you certainly look ‘fixed up’ for the party!”

Other variations can include, fixing one’s hair, makeup, and adjusting

your clothing.

Example: “She ‘fixed’ the length of her dress to cover her knees.”

5. “fix”- To prepare a dish or dinner.

Example: “My friend ‘fixes’ a great lasagna!”

6. “fix”- To set up a date, match-make a friend.

Example: “I ‘fixed’ my brother up with my high school friend.”

7. “fix”- To mend or repair, in the way of making whole.

Examples:

a. “I will do whatever it takes to ‘fix this’ and make you feel

comfortable.”

b. “He told her that he would ‘fix’ their relationship by building

her trust.”

8. “fix” or “fixed”- To have won the lottery or inherit money. Be ‘set.’

Example: “That family if ‘fixed’ for life!”

9. “fix” or “fixed”- To be focused on a goal. (Personal Development.)

Example: “He was ‘fixed’ on the Prize.”

10. “fix” or “fixed”- Body parts replaced or repaired. (Personal

Appearance.)

Examples:

a. “She had her eyes ‘fixed’ by laser surgery.”

b. “The famous actor had his facial structure ‘fixed’ after

the accident, through plastic surgery.”

11. “fixed”- A short term used when an animal is neutered,

spayed or castrated.

Example: “I had my dog ‘fixed.’

12. “fixin'”- When one is planning to be married or do an action,

they may express this as, “I’m fixin’ to get hitched!” (Slang.)

My personal bias, interpreting this definition, is that we should

have animals fixed, if we are to help with preventing over-

population of animals. Breeders are allowed to interpret this

usage as negative, since they may wish to produce champions or

make money selling ‘pure breds.’

NEGATIVE uses of the words derived from the root word, “Fix:”

1. “fix”- A person may use this word when ‘in a jam,'(or bind) or

otherwise need someone to bail himself/herself out of a bad situation.

Example: “I’m in a fix.” (Personal Behavior.)

2. “fix”- To repair something broken, attach two parts together with glue,

other things that “need to be fixed.” (The positive result of fixing,

done well, is its counterpart, the whole item.)

3. “fix”- To comply with a teacher or employer’s request to “Fix this.”

This means a mistake or problems lie in the presentation. (The positive

result of fixing this, may mean a better grade or a raise!)

4. “fix”- Need to have a drug, caffeine, sugar, tobacco or other mood

enhancer.

Example: “I need my caffeine ‘fix’ or I won’t be very productive.”

(Slang term, “I need a fix,” can be very negative…)

5. “fix”- This takes on a sinister meaning, in politics, hidden agendas

and mobster movies.

Example: “You better ‘fix’ this!”

(Interpersonal Relations.)

6. “fix”- In certain situations, meaning to change or ‘throw’

something.

Examples:

a. “The fight was ‘fixed.’

b. “School test scores have been found to be ‘fixed’ and may have to be

retaken.”

c. “The player ‘threw’ the game by fixing the bets based on a losing

score.”

7. “fix”- In slang or colloquial usage, can mean revenge or vengeful

thoughts or behaviors.

Example: “That’ll ‘fix’ her!” (Personal Behavior.)

8. “fix”- To adjust an item of clothing that needs to be.

Examples:

a. “Fix your fly!”

b. “Her bra straps would not stay up, so she had to continually

‘fix’ them.”

Both examples are easily turned into positives, when the person

adjusts their clothing item! (Personal Appearance.)

As far as the song, “Fix You,” goes, I feel that no one should think

they are solely responsible for another person’s decisions. I found

this out, through Al-Anon and also, marriage counseling. Accepting

and adjusting to the choices your partner makes, will help you to

stay together. Only when you feel that you cannot do so, then if

the other person doesn’t want to change and adapt to your ways,

then you may need counseling or separation, to reflect on whether

or not it is worth changing for the other person.

Certain phrasings don’t go over well with me, since I feel that in

most relationships the couple needs to work together to make decisions.

I prefer Kahlil Gibran’s image of two cypress trees, neither in each

other’s shadow. Here is a passage from the 1923 book, “The Prophet.”

This is how to be part of a couple, in marriage:

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you…”

(Several passages follow)…

“And stand together, yet not too near…”

“The oak and the cypress grow

Not in each other’s shadow.”

When you leave a comment, please let me know if you think the intention of

this song, is positive or negative. Is it just me that worries about an

unspoken sense of negative control of the other’s being?

Slurred Speech

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The Dark Side of Comedy

While laughing and coming up with a wide selection of old time shows

that were either variety and/or talk shows, we came upon a somber

moment. My coworkers and I had listed The Jackie Gleason Show, which

included a funny character named, “Crazy Guggenheim.” We had also talked

about how many of the talk show ‘hosts’ or ‘hostesses’ held cigarettes

in their fingers or had a amber colored beverage in their glasses.

Who doesn’t remember Dean Martin, for example, having a drink in

his hand?

By the way, Frank Fontaine portrayed Crazy Guggenheim on both the

Jackie Gleason and Jack Benny shows. He died of 58 years old, about

to donate a check for heart disease studies. His heart attack was

a shock to those who loved him. He knew how to sing well, having

filled a whole album of the songs he sang, while Jackie G. portrayed

his famous alter ego, “Joe the Bartender.” Frank F. was famous for

his slurred speeches, his drunken behavior and his bug-eyed look

and facial expressions.

We thought that it was interesting how times ‘had changed’ and

decided there were “pro’s” and “con’s” to the past.

Let me insert a famous line from the movie, “A Night at the Opera,”

(1935):

“Let there be dancing in the streets, drinking in the saloons, and

necking in the parlor.”

This line was spoken by Groucho Marx, in his portrayal of the film’s

character, Otis B. Driftwood.

We know now that famous people are just like us, in many ways.

We also realize that, although there were “Time” and “Newsweek”

magazines trying to bring to the forefront of the population,

the downfalls of alcohol, drugs, gambling and smoking, there were

many disregarding the after effects, side effects and we did not

have such a stigma attached to these ‘bad’ habits. Two of us at my

lunch table on Thursday, became rather sad and quiet. They were

reflecting on recalled deaths of family members due to smoking and

cancer. One of us had experienced abusive, “mean drunks” for parents.

We decided that addictions, such as these, are still not considered

as ‘big of a deal.’ Society, in some ways, continues to ‘brush them

under the table.’

Even the subject of rehabilitation has had its lighter comedic film

moments. People either laugh, due to the antics and situations that

don’t seem real or out of being uncomfortable. It is hard to explain

why we laugh when someone runs into a wall, falls off a roof, or

trips and does a pratfall.

Treatment for the addictions, in the form of actually facing that

these ARE diseases, is important. Still, we felt a little sad

about the fun we had, when young and felt ‘invincible’ and our

lives, for the most part, had been impermeable to the aging

results of sometimes almost impossible challenges.

Slurred speech, in the ways a person sometimes cannot help it,

while in persons who have had a stroke, live with the challenge

of disabilities and speech delays are NOT FUNNY! We would not

laugh, hopefully, when someone has a speech ‘impediment!’

We still felt a little ambiguous, as we thought back upon the

variety of comedy skits that made us roar with uncontrollable

laughter. Melvin admitted to sometimes, while in the armed

forces, being drunk and thinking it was funny when his buddies

and he pulled pranks while drunk. It is considered a serious

offense, and if caught, these days, you could be court-martialed!

Melvin remarked, that in the ‘old war stories’ of the past, often

there would be stories of men ‘letting off steam.’ We also agreed

that the Viet Nam war movies, seemed to include a prevalent use

of drugs.

Who can forget Crazy Guggenheim’s humorous lines, his leaning

into a person, while breathing out his alcoholic breath? Who

cannot forget when there have been famous movies, with drunken

scenes, sometimes with innocent types of sloppy behaviors?

Who can forget the drunken orgies in “Animal House?”

Who has seen and enjoyed some teenaged or college-aged

movies (or personal memories) where it was very funny being

drunk or being around people who were high?

Who did not laugh (if they are above 40 years old) at Cheech

and Chong’s movie, “Up in Smoke?”

Adding, “Arthur,” with Dudley Moore and The Benny Hill Show,

to the mix, we had international connections of drinking in

movies and television shows.

I have seen Doris Day, Sandra Dee, Humphrey Bogard, Elizabeth

Taylor, Richard Burton and other classic actors and actresses

who have done scenes where they portrayed alcoholics. Some

were quite dramatic and serious roles with “mean” and “sloppy”

drunken roles as their focus. Yet, some were fun ‘romp’ movies

where the drunks were silly.

A lot of comedies include either drugs, alcohol or addictions,

going over the top in their portrayals.

There are also famous movies with the dark and angry side of

the picture:

“Days of Wine and Roses” and “Leaving Las Vegas” come to mind.

We have moved forward in some ways, then stepped back, too.

After all, we still have three “Hangover” movies…

I still will watch comedy sketches with the Saturday Night

Live crew, some who are great at making me laugh, acting

silly while stumbling around and falling down drunk.

May Flowers

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May, 2014

Monthly Calendar Time is Here Again!

Sending you bunches and bouquets of May flowers.

Flavia, poet and artist shares these words with all of us,

“Our time on earth is woven of infinite moments,

Each holding a promise and its own exquisite beauty.”

The flower for May: Lily of the Valley

The birthstone of May: Emerald

How appropriate that one of the sweetest, yet most delicate

flowers, with its tiny cups give us the fragrance for the

month! The color of green, is bursting in every direction

which makes the gem of the month, Emerald, also appropriate.

May 1st-

May Day is celebrated with live flower baskets or little

braided, woven paper baskets with tissue flowers, placed on

the porch of someone, a neighbor, possibly elderly… then,

press the doorbell or knock on the door and run! If you are

old enough to have been taught this custom, let me know!

(Oh, did you ever wrap ribbons around a May Pole?)

This is also, National Day of Prayer.

Also, in Mexico, it is considered their celebration of

Labor Day.

May 2nd-

This is in memorial to the first major protests of the

Viet Nam war or skirmishes. This took place 50 years

ago, today in:

New York Times Square, over 1000 people gathered.

San Francisco, Calif. over 700 protestors gathered.

The other locations where there were reports of this

were in Boston, Mass., Seattle, Wash. and Madison, Wisc.

May 4th-

Orthodox Easter

May 5th-

Get out and celebrate with a margarita, Sangria

or Cerveza!

!Cinco De Mayo!

The Battle of Puebla Day (Mexico) remembered.

May 8th-

Victory in Europe.

Veteran’s, we salute you for your service!

May 11-

Happy Mother’s Day!

I have composed a humorous, but respectful list

of what some may consider qualities or ‘jobs’

or the many “hats” that mothers wear:

1. Sit down at the kitchen table and ‘shoot the breeze.’

2. The kitchen smells like “home.”

3. The beloved story teller and keeper of traditions.

4. Lunch, snacks and dinner-maker.

5. Chief ‘bottle washer.’

6. Big giver of hugs and kisses.

7. One who gets ‘away with’ licking her fingers and

smoothing your hair!

8. Singer of bedtime songs, teller of bedtime prayers.

9. Source of unconditional love.

10. Hemmer, mender and sewer.

11. Nagger: “Don’t forget your boots, lunch…”

A nicer way of putting it, “Reminder” of things.

12. Rules maker and enforcer.

13. Chores list maker and giver of allowances.

14. Tooth Fairy and other magical moments.

15. Phone home.

16. Homework Officer.

17. Schedule Secretary.

18. Nurse.

19. Taxi service.

20. Knows our flaws and bad habits, but would

be our defender till the end!

May 14th-

Full Flower Moon.

May 17th-

Armed Forces Day.

Raise your flag, salute veterans and our current Army,

Air Force, Navy, Marines and other Armed Forces personnel.

Delaware Arts Festival. Downtown, for about

four crossroads and two blocks, art, music,

fun and neighbors circulate, purchase and

admire original artwork. Creativity abounds!

Festival food is also available! Yummy!

The Delaware County District Library takes

advantage of the large crowds and has their

Annual Book Sale, fundraiser on this day, too.

May 18-

Whit Sunday, Pentecost.

May 20-

Victory Day in Canada.

Victoria, Canada.

May 22- National Maritime Day.

May 26- Memorial Day

In the United States, we celebrate by having a three day

weekend, filled with parades and memorials for the ones

who have gone before us. We honor not only the military,

but go to the gravesites of our loved ones who have passed

away. We place plastic, silk or living flowers on those we

have loved’s graves. We put flags on the graves of ones who

served our country. I remember enjoying being in the Marching

Band, playing John Phillip Sousa marches. The song, “Taps,”

sometimes is the final, somber song at the cemetery played

on this Memorial Day.

In the United Kingdom, they celebrate with a Spring

Bank Holiday.

In the small book, with precious illustrations by

Joan Walsh Anglund, called, “Love Is a Special Way

of Feeling,” (1960, Harcourt Brace and World, Inc.)

“Love is a special way of feeling.

It is the safe way we feel

when we sit on our mother’s lap

with her arms around us tight and close.”

Flavia adds a quotation,

“Love lives forever and belies the passage of time.

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

I like to include a few thoughts along with the calendar,

which I hope makes this post both meaningful and interesting.

I also am aware that the world celebrates many more holidays

and welcome some suggestions or additions in the comments’

section. Thanks for contributing to May’s Monthly Post!