Category Archives: guns

Baldwin Wallace site: 2015 International Film Series

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

Susan who is a Dean at Baldwin Wallace University to attend

two of the many diverse international films shown over this

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

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

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

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

The other was one that left you feeling strong, independent

and yet vulnerable to feelings about relationships. Both had

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

make a difference in life’s outcomes.

 

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

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

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

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

individual portrayed a character who either committed violence or

were affected and changed by the actual happenings.

 

The countryside setting in the beginning of the movie displayed

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

There are many struggling people in this remote town. Someone

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

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

this man will go as he takes out his revenge.

 

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

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

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

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

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

film feel more desolate.

 

The town tries valiantly to display a friendly and positive reception

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

people wearing costumes and one loud, angry and discontented man

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

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

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

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

manager should pay the workers better. The disparity between the

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

 

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

Wallace University professors said they do have unions in China.

She speculated possibly not in the rural provinces, though.

 

The small town’s welcoming committee and reception is declared

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

people who shook hands with the manager and tried to ingratiate

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

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

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

is due to his having embarrassed the royal manager by expressing

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

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

him into a rage.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

translated into English subtitles.

 

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

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

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

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

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

vengeful acts he chooses to commit.

 

Unfortunately, he is angered by this hardened  position of his

childhood sweetheart. He goes on to commit atrocities, killing

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

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

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

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

describe this as an actual murderous series of events.

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

both men and women, are given costumes to wear.

 

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

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

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

the visitors sit on rows of couches ogling them.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are symbolic meanings to several parts of each story.

 

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

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

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

little girl.

 

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

 

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

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

receptionist’ she tries to explain her employment position three

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

in paid sexual favors.

 

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

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

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

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

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

to support his mother. This compounded with the disenchantment

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

into making his final choice.

 

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

young woman lashing out with a knife and attacking, defending

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

slamming the door three times against them did not stop their

attempts to change her mind.

 

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

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

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

the dark.

 

The last story shows the woman from story number two having

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

performer. She must have decided the violent rampage of her

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

for the film’s character’s actions.

 

Sometimes, there was silence in many scenes.

Conversation seemed more to move the pieces of each story

along rather than connect people together.

 

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

female entertainer is asking members of the audience to come

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

have the necessary qualifications, both educational and experience,

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

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

 

Following the sound of the play leads the unemployed woman to

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

 

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

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

their presentation. Several aimless people have wandered upon

the colorful scene.

 

The city onlookers listen to the motivational messages given.

Those who have felt like life has become too daunting and

overwhelming. It ends with an open-ended optimistic sense

of well being.

 

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

 

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

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

resolutions made and more detailed explanations given for the

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

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

 

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

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

to determine each character as they are not always wearing any

distinguishing clothing.

 

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

rewound it more than once.

 

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

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

converge into situations. Characters were loosely drawn and then

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

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

become disconnected.

 

The director named Jia Zhangke has written and directed two

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

called, “The World” and “Still Life.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

I thoroughly enjoyed the Chinese reception with various dishes of

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

There were some kind of custard wrapped desserts which some of

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

Italian food.

 

Since the last movie we saw was from Italy.

 

I listened and was humbled by deep thoughts the Chinese movie

drew out of professors and visitors.

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

feeling of hopelessness and despair.

 

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

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

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

noodles.

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

the Mother Mary holding Jesus. The costumes of the band

players and the different plays within the film were gorgeous.

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

by the royal who managed the coal mines, was accompanied

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

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

theme throughout the film.

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

and it is titled, “Oasis of Opportunity.”

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

Shanghai and English.

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

modern technology is apparent throughout despite poverty

in the mining village.

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

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

those who felt their lives were unfair was their only way

of equalizing their lives.

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

rooms.

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

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

*No violence was taken on my part.

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

watching on the veranda a lovely belly dancer while sipping wine

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

of escaping reality.

Her own apartment is sparingly decorated.  Her sister is married

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

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

reservations of adjoining rooms for their accompanying her on a

special trip.

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

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

over as she types the answers into her laptop.

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

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

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

and ‘wants to go home.’

The voice over narrator throughout this film is telling the elements

of a proper “5 star” place.

There are amusing times when the main character is disembarking

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

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

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

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

utensils as he prepares her a meal.

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

romance being shown between George’s character and an airline

hostess.

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

Teddy Roosevelt’s Hiding Place

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It is amazing to read another side of a person you may have studied

in Social Studies or in American History classes. Theodore Roosevelt,

Jr. faced horrible losses and a singular joy all in a short period of time.

The pain was so much he needed to get away. He needed to ‘wallow’

in his sorrow and be alone while grieving.

 

“The Light has gone out of my Life.”

 

These words were found in a personal journal, carrying the weight of

true sadness. Theodore Roosevelt’s wife died and in a short amount

of time later, his dear mother died.

 

Both women died in the same house.

Both loved ones died on the same day.

 

The joy was his daughter, Alice Lee.

 

The cause of his wife’s death, as so often happened in the past, was

due to this precious baby. I remember seeing this in movies, in books

and my mother mentioning how common this ‘death during childbirth’

occurred. He was 26 years old, handling the baby by himself. We don’t

hear about the details, except that he chose to escape. His family must

have taken care of baby Alice, while he was gone.

 

“The Elkhorn Ranch” became his place of healing and solitude. This

is place is in North Dakota.

This journey is an incredible story. One where Theodore Roosevelt

sought nature for his grief counseling. This led him to incorporate

the idea of preserving nature into his future plans. Taking care of his

country had not been originally part of his political plans. Teddy

himself said this (paraphrased):

“I would never have been President if not for my experience in

North Dakota.”

Once renewed, he came back to New York and ran for political

offices. . . all leading up to his saving land for National Parks.

 

When the story was mentioned in a brief account on CBS Sunday

Morning, I noted that this story originated from February, 1884. It is

approaching 131 years since Theodore Roosevelt retreated from the

dual deaths, the birth of his daughter and got out of the public eye.

While rustling cattle out West in the Dakotas, he again met death.

Freezing wintertime caused sickness and his herds of cattle died.

 

The image of the sole remaining rock, the only remaining part of

the Elkhorn Ranch’s foundation that is left, was shown. A historian

leaned over the rock, as if studying all of the details of Theodore

Roosevelt’s rocky, rugged path in life.

 

The beautiful miles and acres of land surrounding this place, still

are pristine. The cottonwoods glistening in the sun while shaking and

making a hissing sound captured my attention.

 

But the personal tragedies that Theodore Roosevelt endured is what

really held my interest.

I had to know more. . .

 

As a child, Theodore was a sickly, asthmatic boy. His family was well-

to-do and had him home-schooled. Something in Teddy’s spirit made

him a fighter.  This gut instinct would carry out throughout his life. He

joined athletics, hiked often in the outdoors, and embraced the idea of

trying to strengthen his body.

 

As if he were laughing at the ‘fates’ and was challenging them to a duel,

Teddy wanted to overcome his childhood weakness.

 

Theodore successfully graduated from his home-schooling,

proceeding onward to Harvard for his undergraduate studies.

He successfully went on to Columbia Law School. He met and

married the wealthy Alice, who he lost.

 

Theodore came back from his escape in the Dakotas, having spent

a wild time there. He had ‘licked his wounds,’ found solitude and

regained his determination to make an impact on the country.

There were several steps, you may read about, that led him to

become a politician running for different offices. He rose through

the ranks, showing his acumen for politics.

 

The road to Theodore Roosevelt becoming President was an

interesting political story but I am more interested in his life’s

choices.

 

Again because of a death, President McKinley’s assassination,

Theodore’s path got altered.  Through tragedy he rose to this

place of  leadership, being sworn in shortly after the death.

 

 

Six years later, he met and married his second wife, who he had

five other children with.  His family life is not detailed in the

articles I read, but may be found in historian’s accounts and his

family stories. There are surely many biographies about Theodore

Roosevelt to fill in some of the gaps I have left open.

 

Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60, somehow this makes another

impression on me, one of sadness. I will be 60 this year.

Teddy’s life just seems like it was too short.

I feel his brief life was one filled with great contributions.

One that may be considered “a Force to Reckon with.”

Here’s how he made a difference. . .

~Created the “Rough Riders.”

~Won the 1906 Nobel Peace Prize due to his successful negotiations

and mediation between Russia and Japan, ending the war.

~Appointed the first Jewish man to his Cabinet.

~Talked about different races, if they were to be admired or disdained,

he believed each one should be taken individually and considered on

their merit. His open-minded comments sometimes were muffled by

his outspoken, out of context, racist comments. (See what he said

about Indians, for example.)

~Open door policy about Immigration, but again stressed that

the individuals needed to become American and respect the

country that became their own, leaving behind the country they

left.

~Created “Square Deal” and its unique way of political thinking.

~Went on safaris where the hunted animals were made part of

the Smithsonian Museum’s exhibits. Some have not been as sure

that this was a scientific or worthwhile project. These days, it may

be ‘frowned upon,’ by animal protective league members and

preservationists.

~Spoke out and acted for Conservation and Preservation.

~Directly responsible for Congress approving Eight National

Parks.

~”30 million National Parks and Forests” are his unspoken legacy.

(This high number was mentioned in the news essay, I am wondering

if this is meant to include international park numbers influenced

by his great works.)

 

The above interpretation of Theodore Roosevelt’s life

was written by Robin O. Cochran, (1/6/15).

 

 

Two famous quotations by

Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. :

1.  “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do

is the right thing.

The worst thing you can do is nothing.”

 

2.  “Courage is not having the strength to go on,

it is going on when you don’t have the strength.”

 

Nature thoughts:

 

“Between every two pines

is a doorway to a new world.”

John Muir.

 

“The wonder is that we can see these trees

and not wonder more.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson.

 

“Plant trees.”

J. Sterling Morton.

 

A book to read, newly written:

“The Art of Stillness,” by travel writer Pico Iyer.

It highlights a wide variety of people, including

famous rock stars, artists and ‘thinkers’ who have

found solace in solitude. It also features yoga,

meditation and how being ‘still’ can lead to

success.

“By slowing down and sitting still one can

spark creativity and even adventure,”

“Men’s Health,” January,2015  issue.

 

 

Resolve: January Monthly Post

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Resolve: it means a few different things to each person. Sometimes,

it means what will get you to keep a few of your January “New Year’s

Resolutions.” I also like the meaning of being strong and sticking to

one’s convictions. This definition fits this the best: “Decide firmly on

the best course of action.” Following through is implicit in this one.

Great attributes to pass on to your children, while others around you

may see this outstanding characteristic in yourself. It is not pointless

to set goals, I believe. It means you are going to try something new,

let others know your choices for change and set personal expectations

of your goals.

This ‘resolution’ can be something you have added to your resolutions

annually or can be a brand new one. Life is busy. Never so much so to

not fit one more activity, exercise, habit or ‘tradition’ into your routines.

After all, you may have doctor appointments and job responsibilities, but

you may just open and see your  2015 calendar  as a ‘blank slate,’ ready for

exciting and new possibilities.

 

JANUARY, 2015

Flower: Carnation           Birthstone/Gemstone: Garnet

Already, I like the month’s flower, which has such a great and unique scent.

The color of garnet is red, which is also vibrant and snappy for this colorless

month we are facing in our Midwest. Hope your corner of the world will have

both color and beauty in it.

 

January 1-

Happy New Year!

 

January 2-

Bank Holiday (Scotland, England/UK).

“Statutory Day” or “Stat Day” for New Zealand and possibly Australia.

 

January 5-

Full Wolf Moon.

 

January 6-

“Epiphany” or when the Three Wise Men reached the manger to see

the King of Kings, some who worship Jesus Christ will find this day

a special remembrance. Thanks, Doris, for the important reminder!

Feliz Navidad!

 

January 8-

If Elvis Presley had lived, this would be his 80th birthday. I listened

to several of his Gospel songs, some with Christmas in them, over the

holidays. He was a fantastic singer with a lot of heart. If you happen

to live close to Tupelo, Mississippi, you may go enjoy a piece of

Elvis’ birthday cake, served at 1:00 p.m. This was where Elvis was

born.

If you live closer to Graceland, you may go there almost all day, to

receive a piece of his 80th birthday cake, starting at 9:30 a.m. when

the cake-cutting begins! (You may enjoy this live streaming from

http://graceland.com )

 

January 10-

Celebrate Rod Stewart’s #70 birthday. Happy Birthday, dear Rod!

Last year, 2014, while on his world tour, an interviewer asked him,

“Do you ever tire of singing some of your classic songs?” (I still love

listening to ones like, “Maggie Mae.”)

Rod answered,

“I still love to sing ‘Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?’ and added: ‘It’s so joyous.'”

 

January 13th-

Last 1/4 Moon.

 

January 16- The Persian Gulf began in 1991.

 

January 17-

Benjamin Franklin’s birthday.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests in celebrating Ben, to purchase a

Benjamin fig plant/tree, which helps to remove toxins from indoor air

spaces. (Ficus benjamina).

 

January 19th-

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Schools, public offices, the Post Office and libraries are usually closed

on this day in U.S. I have attended city and town breakfasts which give

the money for the meal to needy causes, in MLK, Jr.’s honor.

 

January 20-

New Moon.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, (2015) suggests this month to “plant bulbs

and destroy weeds during full moon times,” then during new moon to try

a different kind of house plant during the winter months. This month’s

featured plant, the air plant. This is like Spanish moss in its ability to

survive without much care of nutrients. Plant nurseries and some shops

have glass globes which can be suspended in small offices, along with

homes on clear plastic ‘threads’ of varied lengths. This creates a very

decorative and appealing January sight. Care includes, ‘light misting’

and feeding using a folian fertilizer, along with placing where it will

receive bright, indirect light. (Fluorescent offices are perfect in this

respect, while you may separate ‘offspring’ to create more plastic or

glass globes, helping spread positive oxygen into spaces.)

 

January 21st-

Evil Squirrel reminded me this is Squirrel Appreciation Day,

wherever you live in the world that has squirrels!

 

 

January 27-

Australia Day.

Celebrate with the Aussies you know!

 

January 29-

Celebrate Tom Selleck’s #70th birthday, with a viewing of one of

his older performances in “Magnum P.I.” (television series), one

of his ‘new’ performances in “Blue Bloods,” with a fine and well

rounded cast of policemen role models, along with a character

that plays his father as a past Police Commissioner and his

‘daughter’ is the District Attorney. This television show is one

which has a huge following, among whom are police around the

country. Tom’s fun character in “Magnum” made him a fixture

in our household television shows and now, “Blue Bloods” is part

of my Mom’s (and when I am home on a Friday night) my own

favorite shows. You may have followed Robert Parker’s mini-series,

where Tom played “Jesse Stone,” from R.P.’s past books. Sadly,

the author, Parker, died so the series must end. This can be found

at the library, in individual. Jesse Stone releases. I like the setting

of New England and there are a couple ‘bizarre’ murder mysteries.

In his personal life, you rarely hear anything about his life, since he

married his wife (Jillie Mack) in 1987. He is not known for too many

controversies, although, he has stood up for the N.R.A. which means

he supportsgun rights.

As far as movies with Tom Selleck go, my all time favorite has to

be the fun one he made with two other special men, Steve Guttenberg

and Ted Danson, called, “Three Men and A Baby.” My children and

grandchildren are very amused with this wild and unbelievable plot

line, but it is also heart-warming and sweet. I liked him in the comedy,

“Her Alibi,” while “Lassiter” and “Quigley Down Under” are good

action movies. (This became a rather long monthly tribute to the actor,

Tom Selleck!)

Happy 70th Birthday, dear Tom!

 

As always, you may add some dates that mean something to you or

your country in the comments for the month of January.

Thank you for making this monthly visit a fantastic one. I enjoy

all the additions I received last year to this monthly post.

 

Sir Basil the Great quotation:

“He who sows courtesy, reaps friendship.

He who plants kindness, gathers love.”

(Greek Bishop who lived from 329- 379 A.D.)

 

What challenges will you set out, for you or even your family?

Help get us motivated by sharing this with us, please.

 

I will make a friend out of an ‘enemy’ or one who I have had past

disagreements with.  I will give to a new, special charity, along

with continue to find more positives in my life than negatives.

 

A time of new beginnings, promises and resolutions is emphasized

in this Flavia, (poet and inspirational writer) 2003 quote:

“Our time on earth is woven of infinite moments,

Each holding a promise and its own exquisite beauty.”

 

In honor of the New Year of 2015,

Thanks to T. S. Eliot:

 

“Not fare well,

But fare forward, voyagers.”

 

 

 

Letters from Our Soldiers

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A man who collects letters from those wartime men and women

who died, gathered them together to donate a huge amount to

a university. Andrew Carroll, editor of the New York Times

best-sellers, “War Letters” and “Behind the Lines,” donated

his collection of 100,000 letters to Chapman University in

Orange, California.

For those of you who liked “Reader’s Digest” magazine and

their equally valuable reading place, “Reader’s Digest

Condensed Books,” I would like to share that I dreamed of

having a position and getting paid for working for one of

those highly esteemed reading sources. I always thought

what an interesting job it would be to ‘cull’ and ‘sort’

through newspapers, magazines and newly published books to

discover which ones would be worthy of being condensed and

read by millions of readers.

After all my days in doctor’s offices and hospitals with my

youngest daughter, (who has lived with JRA since she was 11,

diagnosed at age 13) I would like to nominate those special

and easily read magazines for some kind of Pulitzer Award!

The books were ones I could take to a babysitting job, while

12 and up, read one or two of the ‘books’ encased in those

esteemed volumes and feel I was ‘in the know’ for a time, on

what was considered popular literature, nonfiction and other

kinds of writings. They sometimes led me back to the library

to get the complete book, wanting more details.

What I am doing today is presenting you with an article and

a lead on some books, which may ‘whet your appetite’ for more!

I am considering myself, ‘duly elected’ to this position and

consider finding these ‘gems’ to share with you. In each letter,

there is a story.

Had my cousins written during their Viet Nam War experiences and

shared the letters with my mother, she would have kept them. I

wish I knew more of their experiences.

I will always remember when my twin second cousins, Johnny

and Eddie, came back from the Viet Nam War. My cousin, Ed, went

back to being a pharmacist at Tuck’s Pharmacy, located in the

small, notable town of Rockport, Massachusetts. My cousin, John,

came back to California, briefly found out that his wife had

been unfaithful, and left the West coast permanently. It was my

16th summer, the one my parents let me go work at the candy

counter, learning how to be independent since my Great Aunt Dot

and Great Uncle George, gave me working hours, dinner hour and

the curfew of 10 p.m. during the week, 11 p.m. during the weekend.

I learned firsthand about PTSD, through deep and dark discussions

with Johnny. He was not happy with his war experiences. I wish now,

that I had written notes down, during that three month period.

His life irrevocably changed, whereas his twin brother, who had

been in the ‘medic’ field tents and not in direct contact with

weapons. No, he just handled their aftermath results, seemingly

unscathed.

Andrew Carroll has collected letters from the Revolutionary War,

the Civil War, WWI and WWII, Korean War, the Gulf, Afghanistan and

Iraqi skirmishes, too.

1. A Revolutionary War letter~

Writing from father to son, James Williams began a letter to Daniel,

on June 12, 1779:

“This is the first chance I have had to write you. I am, by the cause

of Providence, in the field in defense of my country.” He describes

missing his children and wife. I love the way he shows his emotions

about her,

“Your mother, who sits like a dove that has lost its mate, having the

weight of the family on her shoulders.”

Sadly, James died at the Battle of Kings Mountain in South Carolina.

He had written these foreboding words,

“The uncertainty of life ought to induce every man to prepare for

death.”

2. A Civil War letter~

When a soldier has been mortally wounded, their words are even more

heart-breaking, since time is slipping away from them. Here is a part

of a letter from John Ross Wallar, who volunteered to be a drummer boy,

in the Civil War. This is most sad, since he was only 15 years old.

He dictated these words in a short letter, sent to his family:

“Dear Sister, Father, Mother and Friends,

I received your letter, but I don’t think I ever shall see another

that you write. This is Friday night. But I don’t think I will live

to see morning. But my kind friends, I am a soldier of Christ. I

will meet you all in Heaven. My leg has been taken above my knee. I

am dying, at this time. So don’t mourn after me. For I have bled and

died for my country.

May God help you all to pray for me. I want you all to meet me in

Heaven above…

My wound dresser is writing this letter.

Write to Alexander Nelan, for I won’t live till morning.

So goodbye, my friends. May God be with you

all. God bless my poor Soul.”

3. A WWI letter (in France)~

On September 11, 1918, a Columbia University student who had volunteered

for service, leaving school. Sgt. David Ker sent a letter to his mother

the day before the attack on Saint-Mihiel, France. He wanted to keep his

family’s spirits up:

“Tomorrow the first totally American drive commences, and it gives me

inexpressible joy and pride to know that I shall be present to do my

share….Should I go under, therefore, I want you to know that I went

without any terror of death and my chief worry is the grief my death

will bring to those so dear…”

4. A WWII letter~

Tommie Kennedy, 2nd Lt., only 21, knew he would not come home alive.

He was captured by the Japanese at Corregidor and spent nearly 3 years

as a P.O.W. He was ‘fatally malnourished and incarcerated on a ship.’

Kennedy scribbled a farewell message to his parents on two family

photographs:

“Momie & Dad:

It is pretty hard to check out this way without a fighting chance

but we can’t live forever. I’m not afraid to die, I just hate the

thought of not seeing you again.

Buy Turkey Ranch with my money and just think of me often while

you are there… make liberal donations to both sisters…

I guess you can tell Patty that fate just didn’t want us to

be together…

Hold a nice service for me in Bakersfield and put head stone

in new cemetery…

Loving and waiting for you in the world beyond.”

This letter was smuggled from one POW to another and it was

finally mailed, getting there in late 1945. Four years after

Tommie had left home to be in the service.

5. A Vietnam War letter~

Lt. Dean Allen wrote to his wife, Joyce, on July 10, 1967.

“…Being a good platoon leader is a lonely job…” Pondering his

position and not being able to discuss things with her, he said,

“I guess it (writing a letter) helps a little though because you

are the only one I would say these things to. Maybe sometime I’ll

even try to tell you how scared I have been or now… Sometimes,

I wonder how I’ll make it. My luck is running way too good right

now. I just hope it lasts…”

He tells his wife, “I love you with all my heart.” Four days later,

Dean stepped on a land mine.

6. An Afghanistan War letter~

Mainly during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, service members have

usually ‘Skyped’ or emailed letters. There have been some exceptions,

for which it helps for posterity’s sake, to have them as examples of

this period in wartime. Sgt. Josh Harapko, with the 10th Mountain

Division, preparing to be part of coalition forces, for Operation

Anaconda, was 23 years old. A major assault on the Taliban and al-Qaida

was planned, before advancing into one of the worst Afghan campaigns,

he wrote this letter to his mother dated March, 2002:

“Dear Mom,

I’m writing this letter before I leave. I couldn’t say what I

wanted to over the phone. First I want to say I love you so much.

You were always there for me even though I would never talk about

my problems.

Second you gave me the options to be a man, giving me slack in the

rope to try to make the right decisions. No matter what you always

believed in me, no matter how much of a punk I was to you…

I don’t want you to worry about me. (I know you will cause I’m your

son.)

Mom, I’m not afraid to die for something that is right… I just hope

that I made you proud… I’ll always be with you…”

This young man, Josh, survived combat in Afghanistan but died exactly

one year later, on March 11, 2003. His Black Hawk helicopter crashed,

during a training mission at Fort Drum, N.Y. Shortly before he died,

he had given his mother this letter. She cherishes it.

The words of the nearly dying and the ones who fought for our country

are very brave and sure in their convictions. I am in awe and amazement;

there is such selfless-ness through their written correspondences.

Andrew Carroll’s words are good ones to close this article and to give

a summarization:

“On a more personal level, these correspondences provide a tangible

connection to the past and humanize our men and women in uniform,

capturing their distinct personalities, experiences and aspirations.

Through their words, we see them as more than just soldiers, Marines,

airmen and sailors. They are a parent, a sibling, a child, a spouse,

a fiancé or a best friend.”

May this fine and early tribute, through Andrew Carroll’s words,

to all of our servicemen and women, living and gone ahead, a week

early…

for Memorial Day, 2014.

A Flower Cart Vendor and a Queen

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Today, May 20, 2014, we honor a character from a musical play and a

Queen of England! (Okay, maybe a day late for her!) Yesterday, May 19,

2014 was a federal statutory holiday called, “Victoria Day,” in Canada.

On my home calendar, they accidentally had it on the 20th! This extra

special day first came about for the celebration of Queen Victoria’s 35th

birthday.

That historic day had begun at midnight, with a ‘gun salute.’ I wonder

now if it was to wake everyone or maybe the party goers cavorted all

night and were already awake?

Annual celebrations included ‘pre-dawn serenades,’ athletic contests

or competitions, ‘torch-light processions,’ picnics and all-out 19th

Century revelry. This Canadian Patriotic Holiday makes it sound like

the United States’ Fourth of July celebrations!

There were two names listed, both French for Quebec’s celebration of

“Victoria Day:”

“Fete de Dollard” which lasted from the period of the “Quiet Revolution”

until 2003 and “Fete de la Reine,” (party for the Queen) which continues

to this day.

Also, there is another fascinating woman who really is ‘featured’ today:

“Eliza Doolittle Day!”

Both these notable women could be considered ‘heroines,’ of sorts.

One who was the creation in the imagination, originally, of George

Bernard Shaw in his play, “Pygmalion.” In 1938, a film adaptation of

the original stage play was produced.

When it was revised to become a musical, in 1956, Lerner and Lowe

had collaborated on the lyrics and plot line. It became a very well-

respected and beloved Broadway musical. It still circulates among

high schools, colleges and independent acting theaters.

When in 1964, Lerner and Loew’s musical was transferred into movie

form, it “shone” with the star, Audrey Hepburn. I think that I may

have written in a former post, awhile back, that Julie Andrews was

dismayed not to have been asked to be in either “My Fair Lady” or

“Camelot’s” film versions. Both had directors who chose ‘non-singing’

female leads in Vanessa Redgrave and Audrey Hepburn.

Just for your information, Marni Nixon was the young woman who voiced

all of Eliza’s songs, in the 1964 film adaptation, “My Fair Lady.”

I love how she delivers the song, “Just You Wait (Henry Higgins).”

Audrey Hepburn, as an innocent waif, did an excellent and well-received

portrayal of the character simply described as ‘the flower girl.’ Her

name was Eliza Doolittle.

So, this is the character for whom we celebrate today!

The male lead, playing the character of Professor Henry Higgins, is Rex

Harrison.

The part of Colonel Hugh Pickering, was played by Wilfrid Hyde-White.

Another fine actor and singer was Stanley Holloway portraying Eliza’s

father. He belts out the song, “I’m Getting Married in the Morning”

in his full blown version of a ‘cockney’ accent.

The songs are lovely memories for me, hopefully for some of you.

The whole concept of the transformation of Eliza, ‘the flower girl,’

into a fine lady of ‘high society’ in Edwardian London came from a bet

or a ‘wager’ between the two men, Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering.

They happen to be ‘phoneticists’ or linguistics. They study phonics and

dialects.

Higgins is the one who thinks he can change Eliza by using phonetics

and recordings to eliminate her ‘cockney’ accent. She is able to complete

this transformation into a refined and formal lady by a set time, to

attend a Ball. She falters as a stilted, yet genteel, lady at the Ascot

Racecourse.

I remember, at age 9, going to see this “breath-taking” movie at the

theater with my family. It really enchanted me with the way the whole

story went, along with the costumes that were lovely. Not only for the

Ball, but the race track, too. My brothers and father did not complain,

it is funny, thinking back to that time. Sometimes, I think about the

many action movies we would go to where I would not say that I didn’t

really want to go. As a sign of the times, there were less choices

and one did what their parents ‘told them to do!’

Another amusing thought is that if “Eliza Doolittle” met the Queen

Victoria, what those two minds would have come up with! Especially

with one who was considered one of the longest reigning Monarch’s

of the British colonies and a simple ‘street urchin’ who had spunk

and a feisty nature indeed. I imagine there may have been some mutual

admiration for their strengths of character.

Now go on!

Celebrate with birthday cake and British tea or have a glass of wine to

cheer these women on!

“One More for the Road”

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I cannot help myself, this one is too funny not to

share:

Another funny post… (even funnier if you are a

fisherman or hunter!)

“My Trip to the Bass Shop this Morning”

It has already started at Bass Shop Sporting Goods

Store. The world is getting very serious about their

need to protect us…

There was a bit of confusion at their store this

morning.

When I was ready to pay for my purchases of gun

powder and bullets, the cashier said,

“Strip down, facing me.”

Making a mental note to complain to the NRA about

the gun control wackos running amok, I did just as

she had instructed.

When the hysterical shrieking and alarms finally

subsided, I found out that she was referring to how

I should place my credit car in the card-reader.

I’ve been asked to shop elsewhere in the future.

They need to make their instructions to us seniors

a little more clear!

And I still don’t think I looked THAT bad!

Hope this brought you a couple of chuckles, but no

cola or coffee snorts, though!