Category Archives: German

Unique December Facts

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“The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”

The good news is December has been declared Bingo Celebration

Month! I used to love it when my family would play this, with

guests. Sometimes my cousins, sometimes neighbors, we would

be out on the picnic table with our chips and our Dad would be

the one to spin the wire caged wheel and pull out the wooden

balls with the letters, “B,I,N,G” or “O.”

Did you know this is an ‘ancient’ game? It has been around since

the 1500’s.

I used to love being the “Caller” for Bingo at the Arbors Nursing Home,

while my residents were always happy to call out, “Bingo!” The young

volunteers would run over and give them their quarter. When the whole

card got filled, we would start all over again. The reward for a filled card

was one dollar bill. This was a big exciting reward to the folks who lived

there.

 

On a much more solemn note, December 16, 1944 was the day the big

“Battle of the Bulge” was carried out.

 

The Official End of WWII was on December 31, 1946.

Peace on Earth, Good will to Men.

 

Did you know every day of the month has a food item?

 

DECEMBER DAYS OF FOOD (Beverage or Other):

Dec. 1- National Pie Day.

Eat A Red Apple Day.

 

Dec. 2- National Apple Pie Day.

 

Dec. 4- National Cookie Day.

(Every day is this one for me! smiles)

 

Dec. 5- Repeal Day ~ Prohibition Day (U.S.).

National Sacher Torte Day.

(In Vienna, Austria a man named Franz Sacher created this

delicious chocolate, light cake or torte, in 1832.)

 

Dec. 6- National Gazpacho Day.

(Associated with Andalusia, part of Spain, but its roots go back

into Arab and other ancient times. Cold, savory soup, made of

raw vegetables.)

Also, National Microwave Oven Day.

(I do appreciate this electronic invention.)

 

Dec. 7- National Cotton Candy Day.

(Why is this in our winter? Is this for places who have fairs and

festivals in December?)

 

Dec. 8- National Chocolate Brownie Day.

Dec. 9- National Pastry Day.

Dec. 10- National Lager Day.

 

Dec. 11- National Noodle Ring Day.

(This is hard to find its roots, but mainly described as

a circle of noodles with a cheese incorporated into it,

attributed to Germany.)

 

Dec. 12- National Cocoa Day.

 

Dec. 13- National Ice Cream Day.

(Why, again, are we eating ice cream in the cold weather?

This must be made up by people in warmer climates.

Also, National Violins Day.

 

Dec. 14- National Bouillabaisse Day.

(I enjoy this savory, warm soup. It originated from fishing

villages in France. Marseilles may have been its first place

of origin, with three kinds of fish and Provencal seasonings.)

 

Dec. 15- National Cupcake Day.

 

**Dec. 16- National Chocolate-Covered Anything Day!!**

Woo hoo!

 

Dec. 17- National Maple Syrup Day.

(This would be the perfect day or excuse to make pancakes

or waffles!)

 

Dec. 18- National Suckling Pig Day.

(This comes from mainly Chinese cuisine, but there are some

references going back to Roman times. This is a very young

pig, which has a lot of collagen in its skin, hard to ‘crisp up,’

while it is considered a delicacy.)

 

Dec. 19- National Hard Candy.

(What is your favorite hard candy?

My Dad’s was either horehound or cinnamon drops.

Mom’s was butterscotch drops. My favorite flavor is found in

either the caramel flavored Nips or Werther’s candies.)

 

Dec. 20- National Fried Shrimp Day.

(This makes me think of Louisiana cooking with crawdads or

prawns. This would be prepared as Shrimp Creole. I enjoy

the butter sauce with garlic infusion:  Shrimp Scampi.)

 

Also on the 20th- National Sangria Day.

“Ole!”

(You probably already know this is my Mom’s favorite wine

to sip on at bedtime, using a small juice glass. I have a

Spanish toast on another post…)

 

Dec. 21- National Hamburger Day.

Going from the red meat to fruit…

National Kiwi Fruit Day.

 

Dec. 22- National Date Nut Bread.

 

Dec. 23- National Pfeffernuesse Day.

(This traditional German spice cookie covered with powdered

confectioner’s sugar is one that takes me back to my Grandma’s

kitchen. It reminds me of the flavors of gingerbread cookies.)

 

Dec. 24- National Feast of the Seven Fishes.

(This comes from Italy, which celebrates the Wait or Vigil for

the Baby Jesus, by serving fish from the Mediterranean Sea.)

 

Also, National Egg Nog Day.

(I like this use of nutmeg, heavy cream and Irish whiskey or

other alcohol. Mom likes the non-alcoholic milky drink from

United Dairy Farmers.)

 

Dec. 25- National Pumpkin Pie Day.

(Just in case you didn’t get enough of this holiday pie at

Thanksgiving.)

 

Dec. 26- National Candy Cane Day.

Dec. 27- National Fruit Cake Day.

 

Dec. 28- National Chocolate Candy Day.

(Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Easter also celebrate

this national holiday- just being ‘facetious.’)

 

Dec. 29- National Pepper Pot Soup Day.

(There are recipes for this Jamaican cuisine along

with one from Philadelphia.)

 

Dec. 30- National Bicarbonate of Soda Day,

(Thank you for this Baking Soda Day. I like to use this

special rising ingredient in many baked goods, but can

taste it the most in homemade biscuits.)

 

Dec. 31- National Champagne Day.

(Say a toast to “Auld Lang Syne”  and Happy New Year, 2015!)

 

The research on some of these food items is not complete, but I did

look up the ones I did not know where the foods originated in. If

you would like to share a favorite family traditional food item in the

comments section, we would enjoy hearing about them. Thank you!

 

 

 

Roses, roots, and thorns

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The letters in the word, “rose” can be rearranged to spell “Eros.” How appropriate

that one of the most beautiful flowers has the letters who form the Greek “God of

Love.” The Peace rose was named 50 or more years ago. It is a pale yellow-tinged

rose with pink tipped petals.  Thorns can also help you to reach another letter

combination: “sore.” You may be sore from the needle-like thorns or you may be

sore, filled with heartache. While the rose still gives us light and lovely radiance

in its flowering.

 

In the 15th century, Henry VI declared a War of Roses. How sad and upsetting to

label anything that is filled with death and killing, with the word, rose, in its title.

 

In Medieval times, a white rose suspended from the ceiling of a room meant there

would be ‘secrets’ shared or imparted. It designated conversations which must be

totally private. The term, “subrosa,”  means “confidential.”

 

Roses have been found much longer ago than Medieval times. There were drawings

of flowers on cave walls. Particularly, historically discovered on cave walls, was

a five-petaled “rose” drawing found in Crete during the period of 1450 B.C.

 

Traveling even farther back in time, roses have been discovered by archaeologists,

in fossilized form. The rocks have been preserved and photographed have come

from the beginning of Earth’s plant life, possibly the oldest ‘flower’ ever. This is

dating back 30 million years ago. One could almost, truthfully, exclaim that roses

have been around forever.

 

In 76 A.D., the Roman writer named, Pliny, included 30 different remedies and

medicines derived from roses. Roses were used in ancient times for healing wounds,

treating insomnia (rose tea), stomach disorders and “toothaches.” Rose petals also

helped to cover the awful smell of death or illness. By scattering rose petals around

enclosed spaces, you could tolerate the odor of diseases, including the Plague.

 

 

 

In the Talmud, it is written only pink roses were allowed to bloom in Jerusalem.

The city’s name means, “Paradise,” which makes sense the pink roses be there

to fill the air with their aromatic, floral scent. Visually and using senses of all kinds,

to be immersed in Paradise. This is how some gardeners feel in their gardens.

 

The 13th century rose was brought back to Europe, from the Holy Land crusaders.

This is considered “the Old European” traditional rose. Another ‘root’ history of

the rose is it may have come form Italian travelers, from the Gulf of Salerno. The

trail of the rose, also has possibilities with the Roman Emperors cultivating them

after bringing them back from their Middle East travels.

 

The Chinese have incorporated roses in their artistry and have been given credit

for those beautiful “tea roses,” since they have for 1000’s of years compared the

scent to the aroma of the hearty tea leaves.

 

Explorers of the 1800’s, also have been considered ones who brought the first

seedlings of roses from Asia. These explorers brought these to Europe, which

then American settlers brought seeds of all kinds of plants, including seedlings

of roses to our continent. While traveling across the ocean, in 1692, explorers

discovered roses prevented sea-sickness.

 

The belief of the rose as an aphrodisiac is more than just a romantic novel’s

idea. The appearance of this belief goes back centuries using rose hips as

part of a mood enhancer. The rose hips are also known to have Vitamin

C which is considered a natural way to help prevent depression. It is also

considered to be a way to prevent ‘apathy’ and ‘resignation,’ in books of

old folklore and medicinal texts.

 

Marie Antoinette’s good friend, Pierre Joseph-Redoute, was a wonderful painter

and artist, along with being one who enjoyed gardening. One of his famous rose

paintings is hung in one of the French Art museums. The artist is known for his

botanical paintings, which have become made into prints for decorating homes,

along with the Palace. In France, roses are included in 12th century cathedral

stained glass windows.

 

In the story, “Sleeping Beauty,” the rose vines with their thorny protection make

it very difficult for the Prince to wake Beauty from her sleep. The vines grow and

surround the castle while she is deep in slumber.

 

Withering roses mean that love is transitory and love can fade. There are many

ways the flower is used as a metaphor  in books, poetry and stories. Blue roses

come from a gene from a blue petunia injected into a white rose. I think you may

remember in the play, “The Glass Menagerie,” the brother calls the invalid sister,

“Blue Roses,” which indicate the possibility that she has pleurisy.  Australia was

the country given credit for having the clever horticulturalists and scientists who

managed to ‘create’ this blue rose. Symbolism of the rose would take many pages

of writing, along with intensive research.

 

When Carl Jung analyzed a rose depicted in a church stained-glass window with a

magical circle surrounding the rose, he described it in quite mythological terms.

Jung said the rose symbolized,

“Our mortal yearnings for Union with the Cosmos.”

 

Dreamers sometimes are accused of looking through “rose colored glasses,” which at

times, sometimes I prefer them.

 

The expression, “second hand rose,” may have its roots from the days when Henry II’s

mistress (who would have been considered ‘second class’ or less worthy of his time,

since the wife was given preferential treatment) died an early death. Poor Rosamunda.

 

Tough times or parts of our life that are challenging make our lives, “No bed of roses.”

 

“Rosy” cheeks may depict a ‘picture of good health,’ as the children in the Campbell

Soup advertisements display round, rosy cheeks  while they entice us to warm up with

their product.

 

The oldest living rose bush is the size of a tree. This may be found by a cathedral in

Hildesheim, Germany. There is a historic document which provides proof of it dating

back to possibly 815 A.D. It is considered, “The Thousand Year Old Rose Tree.”

The story or legend of the Lower Saxony, Germany tree, is that during WWII, the

bush caught on fire from Allied bombs. The root system was removed, undamaged.

It is still flourishing and flowering in Hildesheim, Germany.

 

From the history of roses through the ages, it seems that they are meant to continue

to grow against all odds. While we are meant to benefit not only from their beauty and

romance, but admire their longevity and endurance. The Peace rose radiates its power

of Hope to us all. The rose holds a special place in our lives and it is amazing to learn

from its very existence.

Roses have flourished from the beginning of time and will continue to do so,

until the Earth stops spinning.

~reocochran 2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing Wonders and Creature Marvels

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“Across the sea of space,

the stars are other suns.”

(Carl Sagan)

In August, a 440 pound Galapagos Island, wild-born tortoise joined the Toledo Zoo.

This tortoise, Emerson, is estimated to be 0ver 100 years old. His acquisition caught

my Mom’s eyes, in the friendly photograph she found buried in the mound of papers

she calls, “blog-worthy.” While reading about the history of tortoises, you find out

the horrible reason why sailors kept them in their ships while on long sea journeys.

These amazing creatures can live for almost a year without food or water, delicious

in soups, when there is no ‘meat’ available.

This made me sad, since the carefully cut out article that my Mom included in her

letter this week, had written in the side column by Mom, “Why didn’t the sailors

just eat fish?” Really good point! I learned that Emerson had a first negative

impression of his new environment, so his head was in the corner, not at all

interested in ‘making friends.’ But within hours, he had turned around and was

slowly, methodically moving towards people. He wanted to know about this new

location and nibbled on fresh vegetables. The photograph has him eating a carrot.

Somehow, the fact that he had his head in the corner, showing his reaction to a

new place to live, made me visualize human reactions to our own having to make

moves or transitions in our lives. This human feeling can be turned around with a

new food offered, a person warmly greeting him and calling him by name. I like

the way the journalist, Alexandra Mester, mentions that when he gets up in the

morning, he seems “to pause and soak up the sun”. They further made me ‘like’

Emerson by explaining how he likes his neck rubbed, shown by the way he stretches

his neck out for this daily affection given him.

Sadly, statistics given from the 1800’s when an estimated 100,000 to 200,ooo

tortoises lived in the Galapagos Islands have shrunk in species to 10,000 to

20,000 left. There are 4 of 14 sub-species now considered extinct.

 

Speaking of extinct subjects, Rachel Feltman, for the Washington Post, wrote

about the Spinosaurus. This is possibly the only know ‘swimming dinosaur.’

This is also the dangerous dinosaur that may have ‘chomped down on sharks!’

My grandsons were fascinated by this story, passed on by my mother in the

mail. They still like the variations of the animated children’s movies called,

“The Land Before Time.” New fossil evidence may be found in the September’s

copy of, “Science” magazine.

The speculation of the dinosaur out-ranking the T-Rex in size is also amazing.

It may be a record-breaker, largest predatory dinosaur to have existed on Earth.

Scientists believe that it was mainly a water creature, due to these facts or clues:

1. Tiny nostrils placed far back on the middle of the Spinosaurus’ skull. This

makes it appear like the water-crawling and swimming alligators and crocodiles.

2. The skull’s head has teeth that have interlocking connections that can be good

for catching fish, while trolling in the deep oceans.

3. The hook-like claws would be ideal for catching slippery prey, in the water.

4. Big flat feet- bones that could have connecting skin, making them ‘webbed feet.’

5. Legs and pelvis were unlikely ‘built’ or connected to land animals, more likely

resembling water creatures.

6. It would be easier to carry their own weight in water, paddling around, than

on land.

Over one hundred years ago, a German paleontologist, Ernst Freiherr Stromer

von Reichenbach, found giant “Spinosaurus” fossils. He found them in the Sahara

Desert, where from current satellite’s far out in Space, can determine rivers existed.

Unfortunately, records on paper exist but the “Spino” bones were destroyed during

WWII. I would like to look at the river channels from Space. Wouldn’t you?

I think the greatest part of this story is, you may go to the National Geographic

Museum in Washington, D.C. There you can view the fossil bones structured into

what the researchers and scientists believe to be the ‘spino-saurus aegyptiacus’

in all of its marvelous glory. This is available for the public to see until 4/14/15.

 

Speaking of satellites and Space. . .

NASA’s Mars land rover discovered in 2012, rock-eating microbes. This Mars

rover named, “Curiosity,” had  new details released to the public recently.

It has reached the layered rock area known by scientists as Mt. Sharp on Mars.

The exploring vehicle is getting a little rickety but had been able to begin

drilling into the rocky location. Samples may be soon analyzed by the unique

ability to transfer information back to Earth.  I am very interested in this

further details, since we still have hopes of finding a compatible environment

for human life to exist in the future.

On December 4, 2014- a new gumdrop shaped capsule known as, “Orion,”

will be launched 3600 miles  from Earth. This is four times farther than our

International Space Station and will ‘careen back’ into our atmosphere at the

incredible speed of 20,000 m.p.h. Why? Because this is testing the thermal

dynamics. This would be considered a possible future human (astronauts-

bearing) space ship. It looks like a huge coffee thermos to me, in its drawings.

If it ‘bears up’ in entering our atmosphere without burning up, this would be

a future manned flight that managed to have a strong protective shield. I am

always pleased when NASA is making progress in going farther into the unknown

in Space.

 

“A blade of grass is a commonplace on Earth,

it would be a miracle on Mars.

Our descendants on Mars will know the value

of a patch of green.

And if a blade of grass is priceless,

What is the value of a human being?”

Taken from, “Pale Blue Dot:  A Vision of the Human Future in Space,”

written by Carl Sagan.

Tony Came and Left Me Breathless

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The 68th Tony Award Ceremony held plenty of outstanding, shining exhibits

that were thoroughly satisfying entertainment. Some name-dropping and

my overall impressions will ensue, if this is not your ‘cup of tea,’ don’t worry,

skipping this is totally understandable!

Hugh Jackman utilized comedy and hopped, literally, from one famous person

to another, on his path into the auditorium. He passed, “Sting” along the way.

He was one of a few that got singled out, in performances, since he ended up

sitting in the front row.

The scene shown from the musical, “The Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,”

was exhilarating and you would have enjoyed this trio. The man caught between

a blonde haired woman, who he would like to marry, and a brunette he enjoys her

company, standing in a hallway, leaning into one room to sing and then the other,

was quite amusing. Juggling two women, reminded me of the way Shakespeare’s

“Comedy of Errors, ” can bring the audience to roaring laughter.

From the audience, Tyne Daly, never looked more radiant. She has chin length

blonde toned white hair with her smile lighting up the room along with her golden

dress.

Set designs and costumes were all presented beautifully.

The man who played, “Genie” character in the musical, “Aladdin,” won and his

show-stopping performance on stage showed he truly earned “Best Supporting

Actor” in a musical production. He had the audience clapping to the song, giving

the rhythm and capturing the man’s enthusiastic energy.

The scene from “Cabaret,” was bawdy and well-choreographed. The image of Joel

Grey’s portrayal of the “Host” that ‘welcomes you’ to “Cabaret,” floats into my mind.

The actual line is done in German, so it is “Wilcommen…” In the reprisal of this

musical, Allan Cummings performed in the position of “Host,” on Broadway.

“Best Supporting Actress” was earned by an actress portraying a character in “The

Raisin in the Sun.” Sophie Okonedo made a joke about her cultural heritage and ‘the

chance’ the director took on her being able to play an American woman in that

period. I have seen the movie and also, the play on stage. It was remade recently,

for a television version. Always a thought-provoking period piece that depicts a part

of American history.

The “Best Actress” Tony was given for the sixth time to the same woman, making

Audra McDonald a ‘record breaker.’ She was playing Billie Holliday, in “Lady Day

at Emerson’s Bar and Grille.” Her singing is effervescent and gives me chills. After

I listened to her singing, I feel she certainly deserved to take home “Tony.” I loved

the credits she gave to her family and the memorable female singers, actresses, and

poetess who came before her. This is the essence of Audra McDonald’s speech:

“Thank you to my parents who did not medicate me for being hyperactive, but

instead persuaded me to explore acting in the theatre. I give honor to the women

who I am standing on their shoulders: Lena Horne, Maya Angelou, Dionne

Carrole, Ruby Dee and of course, the legend I was fortunate to portray, Billie

Holliday.”

The competition was thick for both the best actor and actress roles. The “Best

Actor in a Dramatic Play” went to Bryan Cranston. I predicted this one! So far,

this is the only one that I felt I knew ahead of time, I just ‘knew’ he would win,

if you have not seen a clip of his portrayal of LBJ in the play, “All the Way,” please

check him out! Awesome job and it is a fascinating piece of history, where he

had to take the Presidency, immediately after JFK was shot. He was the one

who should get a lot of credit, for getting the Civil Rights Bill passed, among

other great accomplishments. That Texan drawl that Bryan Cranston does

is very similar to the original.

Ru Paul, as a man, introduced “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” scene. He looks

great these days, he is one of the most famous trans-gender, cross-dressing

men in theater. Ru Paul says the play encompasses ‘love and acceptance’

for all choices in lifestyles. He has probably won a few awards in his lifetime.

This scene incorporated a pulsing, fast-paced rock ‘n roll beat, “Sugar Daddy,”

sung by Neil Patrick Harris, looking unrecognizable in his long blonde wig, his

short skirt, hose and tall pump shoes. N.P. Harris engaged actively with the

front row audience, taking Samuel L. Jackson’s glasses off and leaning into

Sting and then, bouncing on his lap!

Kenneth Brannaugh, the fine British Shakespearean actor, announced the

nominees for “Best Playwrights.” I liked Kenneth Brannaugh in the movie

leading role in “A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream.”

The dramatic play, “All the Way,” won for “Best Playwright.” The actual

play writer was not there to accept the award, so the two producers, including

Robert Shanken accepted it. He reminded the audience of the tense political

atmosphere in 1964. He called passing Civil Rights bill,” seemingly impossible”

and  gave his own personal summary of the way he felt about class structure:

“Those people who have more money take, at the expense of those who have

nothing and feel good about it.”

There was humor shown in the two plays that showed scenes from, “Casa

Valentina,” and “Mothers and Sons.”

Wayne Brady, comedian and also, improvisational artist, introduced, “Violet,”

with a riveting and rhythmic song, “As I Travel On.” It had the pulse and

emotions of the “Gone, gone, gone” song and the “Cups” song sung by Anna

Kendricks. This had a really ‘current’ sound to it, which would carry over

well on the radio. This led into a revival and rousing gospel song. The story

line is intriguing about a young woman, Violet, who has a disfigured face,

due to an accident, seeking a ‘miracle’ to help her with her face and life.

The scene from “Wicked,” which has the two sisters, Glinda the Good Witch

and the Wicked Witch singing a duet was quite touching. I had seen some

clips of the musical but truly had never heard the entire song before. It

is the ending song, “Because I Knew You,” which includes the line,

“I have been changed for the better”…. then after it has been sung several

verses later…”I have been changed for good.”

I read that huge volume called, “Wicked,” which I passed on to my oldest

daughter and she still takes it out and reads a chapter or two. It is longer

than almost any book that I have read, including, Tolstoy’s, “War and Peace.”

Well, I may be exaggerating a bit. But there is a LOT of story about the two

sisters, years in the making, until the happily ever after conclusion that has

this lovely song, with two excellent women singing it. The musical, “Wicked,”

celebrated its tenth anniversary.

Carole King came out and joined the singer, Jessie Mueller, who portrays her

younger self. I am very pleased to tell you that Carole King impressed me with

her “natural woman” look; her curly, blondish-white hair, her medium build

in a white silk blouse with black trim and black slacks. No plastic surgery, not

even sure her hair has dye in it. She looked amazing for her age! The musical

play, “Beautiful” incorporates Carole King’s life and her music.

She mentioned before her performance, that she did not go to the opening

nor was she ‘too crazy’ about seeing someone portray her.  She says the story

has heartbreak in it, which she was uncertain she wanted to ‘relive this.’She

finally did go to the theater and expressed gratitude for the way the play was

written, her character was portrayed and the presentation of the songs, too.

She highly recommends the musical, of course!

The best performance of the night, for me, was Carole King with Jessica

Mueller singing, “I Feel the Earth Move…(under my feet)” The audience all

stood up, clapped to the rhythm and several famous people were singing

along, their lips moving and showing smiling faces, too. Loved this so much!

(I still have my “Tapestry” music engraved in my head, too!)

A clever and playful rap from the revival of “The Music Man,” was first

introduced by Hugh Jackman. He could do it all from memory, he said and

it is to a fast beat, too. Then, out came LL Cool J and “T. I.” to join him,

turning it easily into a very groovy rap song. This was another timeless

musical, many high schools, across the country, Hugh Jackman reminded

us, put this play on their stages. It is the song about “River City.”

The song that Sting sang, “The Last Ship,” was eerie and haunting, with an

Irish melody. It is telling a mournful tale that includes these snippets of

words, “dark, unholy sight,’ ‘halo of light,’ ‘Calgary Hill,’ and ‘May angels

protect me when the last ship sails.’ Also, describing the ship, ‘mountains

of steel makes its way to the sea.’

This was one of my top three favorite performances. Sting’s ship song was my

second favorite and my third would have to be the rap between LL Cool J,

Hugh Jackman and “T. I.” playing “The Music Man.”

The Carnegie Mellon School of Drama awarded it first Tony for an Arts educator.

This seemed appropriate since many of the acceptance speeches recalled the

teachers in drama, arts and music that had led them to seek their calling in

musical or dramatic theatre. One who had done this, Neil Patrick Harris said,

“When most people in my high school thought that sports were the way to

become popular, I had a special theater teacher, in New Mexico. For her, I

will always owe an extreme debt for her love of teaching and her love of drama.”

(He listed her name, if you look up speeches, I am sure you will find it out.)

Rosie O’ Donnell was recognized for her philanthropic donations to the Arts.

Best choreography went to “After Midnight.”

Best Orchestration went to “Bridges of Madison County.”

I enjoyed the scene with fighting from “Rocky” and the way, the actor yelled

out for “Adriane!” It was a very pleasant evening with the best times being when

I knew the songs and recognized the famous people in the audience.

Did anyone see the Tony’s Award Show?

What were some of your favorite moments?

 

 

 

One Who Served and Many Who Serve

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Today, May 21, 2014 is a day set aside for “Wait Staff Apreciation.”

By celebrating servers in the food industry we may improve their

self images and produce great service. It is always a wise choice

to be friendly to the ones, going in the kitchen to pick up your food

orders! Smile!

So, please appreciate all those men and women who try valiantly to fill

your food orders. They do, most of the time, try to act pleasantly and

give you time to look over the menu!

Tomorrow, is a day to remember Mr. Rogers. Fred started his long run of

being a kind neighbor to the younger ones in our world, back on May 22,

1967. Now, Wikipedia doesn’t have the correct date, as I found this in a

reliable source!

His show, “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” continued until 2001. Fred

passed away in 2003. In his lifetime, he received the Presidential

Medal of Honor, over 40 other special awards and the Peabody Award.

I felt Fred’s gentle soul, soft spoken ways, his daily routines were

quite soothing and comforting to my toddler children. I realize that

these days, with high technology and such fast-paced lives, most of

the small ones would find his show, “Boring!” I liked his changing

his jacket into a sweater, his puppets in the Land of Make Believe

and his male role model in a society, that even when my children

were little, did not have many male adults on television that tried

to ‘reach them.’

Another man who served his country well, is my good friend and coworker,

Melvin. He was walking out of the building today, telling me a funny

story about the Jack Russell terrier that lives next door to him, out

in Delaware County. It was a great one, where I wished (and he does, too)

that he could have captured this on film!

The story of his neighbor’s dog, “Ignat” is interesting and such an

amazing story that you may not quite believe it. I would not, if I

didn’t know this fine man, Melvin, who served his country from 1975

until 1997. His Army days have been fun to listen to, including his

serving in Germany, (maybe you remember he bought me a special wine

that they serve on the streets of Germany, warmed up in little cups

for the shoppers at Christmas?) You may remember his annual trips to

meet his Army buddies and the time he paid for a bunch of them to

have lobsters and crabs in Massachusetts. Also, he is the man who I

‘chase’ and he ‘chases’ me, around the area on the second floor of

our warehouse, called the Mezzanine.

Before you ask, ‘Why aren’t you thinking about Melvin as a future partner,

Robin?’ I will tell you that he is a very devoted boyfriend and lives

with a woman who has had serious surgery, sometimes he has cleaned out

colostomy bags or helped bathe her.

The best parts of Melvin, are his incredible patience and heart!

Oh, and having served as a cook, he is an outstanding guest at our work

potlucks! Melvin is getting geared up to be the caterer of a good pal’s

daughter’s high school graduation. He was out, recently, pricing pork.

I may or may not have told you, a weird thing is, most places don’t

keep the skin on the pig! So, he had a ‘heck’ of a time locating one

that he could put on a pit!

Another part of my ‘verification’ of his abilities to not only work hard;

but be truthful is that he has always ‘called them like he sees them,’ no

matter what. In any conversation, whether it is about “Duck Dynasty,”

musical tastes or whether or not he likes a certain movie or song, he

will impart his ‘wisdom.’ I sometimes will include him in my ‘lunch time’

survey of opinions to include in my stories about work.

Anyway, Melvin was out in the yard, looking around the barn where he had

seen a large, lumbering raccoon go into. He also was looking out at the

field, where he had just seen a young doe. He was smiling, while recounting

about seeing the white tail bobbing up and down, as it leaped over some of

the remains of weeds that had grown up in the neighboring farmer’s fields.

He says, that he shouted to “Ignat” (possibly the shortened name for

Ignatious?) We cannot figure out why this dog has this name and Melvin

is sure of it, since he has bent down to feed him a dog biscuit and

read the little brass circle that holds his name. Melvin calls him

“Little Big Man,” in remembrance of Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of a

wizened, stooped version of a Native American and why that makes him

think of that, I am not sure…

Anyway, I digress again!

Back to the rest of Melvin’s story, he whistled to the neighbor’s

roaming dog, and he would not come to him. He was gazing off into the

distance at the doe, sure enough, there was a blurring motion of the

dog, as it took chase after the doe. Melvin says that they would go

‘aways,’ the dog’s energy would start to wane, and “Ignat” would slow

down. The doe, he insists, would slow down to ‘wait’ for the dog to

catch his breath. Melvin insists that the doe even stopped from entering

the nearby woods, turning her direction to head a different direction!

“Ignat” would then zigzag and head off, speeding up to catch the doe!

Melvin says he would ‘swear on a Bible’ that this was a true incident!

When he got tired of seeing if “Ignat” would catch the doe, he looked

up at the window of his barn and lo and behold!

Another ‘minor miracle’ occurred!

Melvin saw four little baby raccoons with their tiny little paws up

on the window pane! He did not see that for too long, since the Mama

Raccoon must have ‘shooed them away from the window.’

“Melvin, are you sure, double sure, that you aren’t pulling my leg

now?”

He repeated the part about ‘swearing on the Bible.’

Wasn’t this more than enough to entertain me,

and you, today?

A Dip into Serendipity

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A journey that once had begun, had gotten swept

under the table. The story had included exciting

beginnings and abrupt endings. It could have been

a nice, safe trip along smooth railroad tracks in

a predictable direction. Instead it had been quite

dramatic.

The way it all began was discussed, along with

where it had become derailed. It seemed suddenly

urgent to get the passengers united to head into

the future, reconnecting ties that had been torn

and broken.

Seemingly impossible reasons, years ago, to ever

be healed, were forgotten and forgiven.

Ice cream was delicious at Graeter’s in Upper

Arlington, Ohio last night. The ice cream place

is a franchise started in Bexley, Ohio, in 1870.

The relationship had started in 1980, between four

close friends, two couples who were into natural

foods, a Lancaster co-op and a business together.

From friendship, sharing stories, then traveling

a long and winding path that took both couples in

different directions.

From the traditional beginning, which had led

into separated, fractured lives, arose a child.

It was an unplanned and unexpected event. It

would leave a lasting, hurtful impact on all,

from 1985 until 2014.

The strange story would include heartbreak and

some moments of crying. The redemption, found on

3/21/14, would heal most of the wounds.

Who would have thought the woman with the ‘white

picket fence’ background would have held such a

wild story behind her outwardly quiet demeanor?

The serendipity was the ties that brought someone

from a far distance, of St. Louis, Missouri, back

to Ohio. The trip originally had nothing to do

with the woman nor her golden child.

A letter, sent out like a beacon, had been mailed

over cyber-space. Previously sent, hand written

letters, over the years, had been met with

silence.

No answers.

A coincidental trip to a gravesite in Cincinnati,

was fortuitous for the people to be reconnected.

Death had been over a few years ago, it was in

the memory of that loved one, the journey had

been made back to Ohio.

Tears of happiness flowed. Sweet memories of a

happier time embraced the four people sitting

across from each other.

Stories of the past, including similar family

histories of international immigration; one

generation ago for the father and two generations

for the mother. Unknowingly, both parties had

heritage from Germany. This shared lineage filled

the minds of the people with wonder. Over twenty

or more years ago, they had not asked each other

such questions.

Other kindred moments, included a love of music,

one for an accordion, another for a clarinet.

Two hands that reached out, were held, showed

dryness of skin, smallness in size and arthritic

joints. Family physical traits passed down.

Personality traits, such as independent streaks,

with some admission on both parties, of being

rather self-centered between child and father

were exchanged.

Faded, tarnished memories of the Lancaster days

were renewed and explained. They lost their

rusty feel and became polished, smoothed over.

Time truly heals all wounds.

The ties are now beginning and reaching out.

They are beautifully becoming braided into a

circular wreath where the child now knows of

another family. Intertwining, growing and

letting go of the hurt and regret.

The family was a gift well received.

The failed attempts to have connections had been

shared with the child, over the years. The way it

disappointed her, had recently come to light.

The other family is filled with aunts, uncles and

cousins who long to know the estranged member.

I indulged in my favorite choice of butter pecan

ice cream, covered with Graeter’s ‘homemade’ recipe

sauce of butterscotch, real whipped cream and a

cherry on top.

The symbolism of a cherry on top was the real,

relieved feelings, bubbling to my soul’s surface.

My family member had a simple scoop of butter

toffee chip, while the father ate chocolate chip.

The fourth person had an ice cream cone with a

cup of freshly brewed coffee.

He was the observer, the in-law, who would be the

recorder of the tale to regale the Missouri folks

back home. He had captured all parties in photos,

sent via telephone, as soon as taken.

The observer was warm and welcoming and through

his part as the ‘new’ uncle, he introduced one

of the first cousins into our conversation.

A girl named Brianna, age 12, who will be part

of my child’s life forever.

One of many new connections…

The wise, well humored observer asked if this

would be included in the title of my next post

on my blog: Serendipity.

I was not sure, at that moment, if I would indulge

in another post. Sharing this may be too much.

I mentioned that I had written a “Carry On” post,

earlier in the week. After much reflection last

night, I chose to share this story here.

Albeit in a bare bones, no details’ way.

Pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

The ‘once upon a time’ heavy weight was removed,

thrown out the window, for good.

By myself, I drove up the road on 315, a curving

tree-darkened route that led to my adopted home

of Delaware.

I had fled from another small town, almost 28

years ago.

The last remnants of the weight, the ‘chips on my

shoulder’ were lifted.

Its breadth and depth, unable to fully explain

to others who had known me.

All I know this was no longer needed to be held

on to. The baggage had no necessary purpose or

reason to be kept anymore.

There still is a chance for this ‘white picket

fence’ woman with the ‘solid core’ and deep roots,

to have her happy ending. Her child could now

proceed with new ties that bind.

Not the way she had visualized from her childhood,

but still a fantastic way to close the book.

Bad Art!

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I am fascinated by this story about an art museum that

displays ‘bad art!’ As my Grandmother Oldrieve had an

uncle, so he would be my Great Grand Uncle, with the

well known name of Alexander Calder. I am often asked

about this truly simple, huge, ‘numbered print’ on one

of my apartment walls. I mean, it takes up a lot of

space. It is the size of a movie theater poster.

Almost everyone thinks,

“A child could have drawn that!”

or

“Why on earth, Robin, do you have that ugly thing on

your wall?”

If you will please imagine six circles, black, red and

blue, with long straight lines coming from each of them,

some straight and a couple crooked. That is the fine

art print, worth over $1000.00 (at last checking in the

70’s) of my distant relative, Alexander Calder. It is

the size of a movie theater poster. Huge!

You may know that Calder ‘invented’ or ‘created’ the

idea or concept of statues and mobiles blended together

to become, ‘stabiles.’

Many famous examples of this are displayed outside of

museums and in downtowns in cities across America and

internationally. The cities of Stuttgard, Germany and

the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art have fine

examples of these combination statues and mobiles.

The other international museums that feature Calder

are in Venezuela, the Netherlands, Paris, France,

and Madrid, Spain.

Closer to home, can be found in the city of Grand

Rapids, Michigan and Montreal, Quebec. Our National

Gallery of Art, in Washington D.C., has a whole room

of Calder’s creations. I don’t feel his paintings or

prints are really interesting but the larger pieces

are very exciting and unique. My family saw the one

in Chicago, Illinois when I was in middle school. My

artist brother, Randy Oldrieve, has made a living

creating sculptures, paintings, murals, logos and

prints.

My oldest daughter, Carrie Crain, is also a gifted

artist.

I have my own style of ‘dinky art,’ which I am hoping

would not make it into the MOBA.

The idea or thought behind the Calder print, I have no

clue.

I have told people that my numbered print may increase

in value or not. I think it looks like circular balloons.

I wish they were ovals. I wish there were squiggly

lines instead of those odd straight lines! If it has

to be simple, let it be ‘cute,’ I think!

Anyway, the Museum of Bad Art, or MOBA, may have wished

to include this print, since unless you saw the ‘Calder’

signature at the bottom, you would think it was ready to

go into a dumpster.

Which the curator, Michael Frank, of MOBA, says many of

their displays came about from trash pickers saving the

homemade art pieces. Others came from donations, garage

and yard sales and thrift stores. The critique or type

of verification for ‘bad art’ is all rather depending

on the viewer. After all, “Beauty is in the eye of the

beholder.”

Where is this MOBA to be found? In a sunny-sounding

place called, Summerville, Massachusetts. There is a

movie theatre on top of this museum of art. Yes, makes

sense to delegate the artworks considered ‘bad’ or ugly,

to the basement!

Most people would not want to buy or look at these

paintings or other pieces of artwork regularly.

In fact, the museum’s reason for existing, since 1994,

is given as:

“To celebrate the labor of artists whose work would be

displayed or appreciated in no other forum.”

A tour guide or ‘docent’ gives further explanation:

“Bad art is still art. It is sincere. It is one of a

kind.”

They will not accept the mass-produced artwork, such

as paintings on black velvet, no attempts to reproduce

famous artists’ pieces, and no dogs playing poker!

There is a display of diverse subject matters, unique

perspectives and really strange depictions.

Why do they feel this art is valid? Because artists

are trying to communicate. This MOBA is to celebrate

the expression of people who are yearning to be artists.

They may even pour their hearts out on their creations,

not realizing they are not attractive.

Sometimes: Not to anyone!

When people try to donate paintings or pieces to the

museum, the ones who are in charge, including Michael

Frank, determine whether it is a ‘fake.’ If it is

intentionally produced to be ‘bad,’ they feel they can

‘see right through those.’

Interestingly, their stored art pieces are quite large,

enough to share the wealth of bad art, sending exhibits

as farflung as Taipei, Taiwan. The circulating exhibits

are quite popular. Murals, collages, some that need

repaired, adding Christmas lights that have burned out,

all can be part of someone’s idea of a fun day at a

museum.

In my own mind, I came up with an explanation for why

I would be interested in going to Summerville, or if

a visiting exhibit came to the Columbus Museum of Art.

I think we all are like ‘deers in the headlights’ or

viewers of accidents on the side of the road, we just

cannot tear our eyes away. The art may be like a “train

wreck” but we may still be curious to see the contents.

The bad products of sincere people, may just be your

‘cup of tea.’

At the very least, you may wish to view the strange

and imaginative pieces online…