Category Archives: immigrants

Fond Memories of a Red Wagon

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The English proverb or saying,

“Necessity is the mother of invention,”

certainly applies to the life of an Italian

immigrant named, Antonio Pasin.

This post was written before the

newest part of the post was imagined.

Radio Flyer is coming out with a

new “riding toy,” an Italian car:

What will children think of a smaller

version of a Tesla Model S? ūüôā

Their daddies, uncles and other fancy

car aficionados will be pleased.

Antonio Pasin came to America from

Italy, in 1914, at the age of 16.

He was the son of a cabinetmaker,

whose family settled in

Chicago, Illinois.

Antonio started a business of making

wooden cabinets for phonographs.

The wooden cart or wagon he built to

carry his tools in was a creation that

became popular among parents who

saw it as a place to put children and

pull them along behind them.

This is the story of the creative

development of the Radio Flyer

wagon business.

In my family, we had a red, metal

wagon with wooden slats which were

inserted into their places to hold the

three of us while going through a fair

or park. When we grew older, if my

memory serves to remind me, how

useful this was to carry a cooler of

food, beverages and blankets.

I remember a few times taking my own

children to the Fourth of July fireworks

in a large red wagon.

My grandchildren are lucky to have

seats in their heavy and durable

plastic Little Tikes’ brand wagon.

The tradition of having a wagon to cart

children or stuff in, continues in our

family. A wagon is so handy:

sometimes a place to put jackets,

snacks, diaper bags, and prizes won

at the Delaware County Fair.

Here is a recent memory:

My oldest daughter, Carrie, came by

with their yellow and orange Little

Tike’s wagon to collect me for the

late September’s All Horse Parade.

We stuck a large blanket, sweet and

salty snacks, water bottles in a

lunchbox with one of those blue

frozen blocks, toys and Micah in it.

While coming across this saved article

in my notebook, kept since the Summer,

2012, it brings smiles,

fond remembrances

and nostalgia for times

long passed by.

One of my favorite memories is my

father pulling us all down the sidewalk

in our Radio Flyer wagon to a

‘progressive dinner’ in our suburban

neighborhood in North Olmsted, Ohio.

I am holding a tray of hors d’oeuvres,

on my lap while brothers are

trying to sneak a few.

Antonio Pasin’s original name for his

wooden wagons was,

“Liberty Coasters.”

He had felt the influence of Liberty

(from his new homeland and the

Statue of Liberty) along with the

forward-thinking concept of wagons

“coasting” along city and much later,

suburban sidewalks.

Once Antonio Pasin started getting

larger orders, including one that was

for 7,000 wagons, he opened their

factory in Chicago.

He began making the wagons from

steel. He used some borrowed

techniques and scrap metal from the

auto industry. He also chose to name

his first steel wagon, “Radio Flyer.”

This was his homage to the invention

of radio and also how airplanes,

and the flight industry, were taking off.

In the middle of the Depression, Pasin

decided to expand his business,

against all sensible advice.

He took out a $30,000 loan,

risking his existing business

and family home.

He also used the money to produce a

statue of 45 feet height, of a boy riding

a wagon, to become part of the exhibits

at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.

He sold beneath, “Coaster Boy,” little

miniature souvenir wagons for a

quarter apiece. The souvenir sales

repaid the loan and the statue

created “quite the buzz”

increasing company

sales.

When Antonio reached his 70’s, he

allowed his son, Mario, to rename

company Radio Flyer.

To branch out and adapt the business,

they included in new lines,

wheelbarrows,

garden carts and

outdoor furniture.

This is a good example of how

businesses expand and adapt

to the times they are in.

In 1997, Antonio’s grandson, Robert,

son of Mario, took over business.

This family business has expanded

from those reliable and durable wagons,

carts, wheelbarrows and lawn and patio

furniture to embrace current fads.

Introducing new products such as

scooters, tricycles and training

(exercise) bikes.

Still a modern financial success story.

Customers may design wagons

online, adding canopies,

padded seats and

engravings.

Robert emulated his grandfather

by creating his own, “Coaster Boy,”

so to speak. He has a 15,000 pound

replica of the original Radio Flyer,

outside the Chicago headquarters.

This is where the offices are located.

The sad part of the story, (don’t

get me wrong- I am not judging this

business), is that the Chicago factory

has closed. Competition in pricing and

wages, led to this move. They became

outsourced in their production since

2004. The proceeds climbed to

$76 million in 2012.

Following up on Antonio, he passed

away at the grand age of 93 and as of

2012, my source at this time of writing,

his aged but still living wife, Anna,

was 104 years old.

I hope she is still

living.

The business story mentions Anna still

kept a little red wagon on the porch of

their home in Chicago suburbs.

I also believe the Pasin ancestors will

appreciate the sacrifices and stretches

of budgets Antonio and Anna

made along the way.

This is an incredible story of

‘rags to riches.’

How practicality in Antonio’s choice

of a wagon, to cart his tools from

carpentry job to job, led to one of the

most memorable ‘icons’ of the

1950’s and beyond.

Are you ready for a child-sized

Tesla Model S?

Wonder if they may

create someday a

red Lamborghini?

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.

 

 

Celebrate Global Advocacy

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Today is World Humanitarian Day, declared by the United Nations in 2008, to give

tribute to ones who died in the 2003 bombing of the U.N. Headquarters in Baghdad.

On that day, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General to Iraq was killed,

Sergio Vieira de Mello and 21 others who were not in any military personnel duty,

but were public servants. These ‘voiceless victims”¬†gave up their lives. This honors

all those who are negotiators, compromisers, and humanitarians who chose such lofty

goals as World Peace as part of their life’s¬†purpose.

 

World Humanitarian Day, August 19th,  is a wonderful result of collaboration

between countries. The country where Sergio Vieira de Mello originated, Brazil,

along with Switzerland, France and¬†Japan helped to steer, then ‘table’ the draft

of the resolution. International foundations worked tirelessly to promote this

and it came about six years ago.

 

Donations, to UNICEF, an organization that has Sudan at the top of their ‘needy’

countries’¬† list are welcome. They¬†ask this to be done in honor of this celebration

for the victims of crimes against humanitarians and their families.

 

A meaningful expression that I found while looking this up was:

“Light up your map” by supporting and sending money to UNICEF, with “our global

advocates” in mind.

 

Humanitarian. What an inspiring and amazing kind of person.

 

I hope this post will encompass this theme, along with including my own

observations and something recently discussed among my grandchildren.

After¬†we watched Fievel, in his original role in the animated children’s film

from 1986, my grandsons were talkative. Lots of subjects came out of this

movie, my introduction to the fact that they had immigrants in their family

tree, from my side of the family, (their mother’s side) from Germany, Sweden,

Scotland and England. Then, one of the two boys, has African as one fourth

of his blood, while the other boy has many overlapping countries from his

Daddy’s and Mommy’s sides, of the German, Swede, Scot and English tribes.

While we were happily going all over the subject, they mentioned that their

Mimi and Poppy had the song, “Somewhere Out There,” as part of their wedding

music. This is the theme song from the movie, “An American Tail.”

In my oldest grandson’s memory, he came up with “Coming to America,” as a

song he had learned from his music teacher at school. I was amazed, that he put

these two songs together. Since this song is also about immigration. I mentioned

that it is one of my all-time favorite songs, sung by Neil Diamond.

They, of course, said, “Who?”

I didn’t even¬†try to get them to recall who he was, since that would mean a whole

other discussion.

Just for your information, this song came out before, “An American Tail,” the

children’s film about immigration. “Coming to America,” was on the soundtrack

for the movie and album, “The Jazz Singer” (1980). The album’s hit single, made it

to the top of the charts, in 1981, making Diamond’s sixth ‘hit single’ at the time.

The theme of the song is to embrace the history of immigration, starting from

the 1900’s up until today. Interestingly, one of the lyrics’ passages includes his

repeating, “They’re coming to America… Today! They’re coming to America…”

When Neil Diamond performs this song live, he substitutes this audience

participation phrase, “Stand up for America… Today! Stand up for America…”

 

When we talked about their own heritage, my oldest grandson asked why is it

that he had overheard this question while recently at the zoo,

“Why don’t people talk English? If they can’t talk English, they should go back

to where they came from!”

I was looking at him, hoping and praying he would not reveal that it was

anyone he knew that said these rather ‘hateful’ words.

The next thing Sky said surprised me. He had apparently been thinking for some time

about the comments. This was only two weeks’ ago, when his parents had taken¬†both

boys for an employee appreciation day at Zoombezi Bay, part of the Columbus Zoo.

Skyler¬†said, “If people feel more comfortable talking to each other, then it should

be okay to use their country’s language, don’t you think, Nana?”

I smiled and said,

“My Filipino friends talk English with their spouses and almost always with

their children, too. But you know Felda and her two children, Kridia Dawn

and Zachary?”

The boys looked serious and nodded.

The youngest one piped up,

“Maybe they like to hear their Mommy speak her language if she sings songs.”

(Felda does have a beautiful voice, they had heard it at one of their many parties,

because part of the ‘games’ is to sing karaoke, adults and children, too.)

“Exactly! Good job, Micah!” I exclaimed.

I continued to explain why my good Filipino friends use their ‘homeland’s

language:’

“Felda wants her kids¬†to know what her language was, so they will recognize

some words, each time they travel back to see their grandmother there in the

Philippines.”

Skyler got pensive again, my ‘serious thinker!’

“I am so glad you live close to us. By speaking Filipino with their grandma,

this would¬†make¬†her so happy, wouldn’t it? Do they talk on the phone or

Skype with her?”

I think my grandkids are all so ‘tech-savvy’ I forget about this new ‘age’ stuff.

“Yes, I am sure they do. But I will ask about this, I have seen them Skype at

work, for Felda’s or Mary Jane’s mother’s birthday together. I¬†don’t know why

they would not Skype with the children to see her and share with her, at home.”

I was winding down on this subject and added this comment,

“They sit separately at work, while eating lunch and on their breaks, to

chatter happily and quickly about their personal lives.”

Skyler mentioned that it would be ‘cool’ to be able to have a hidden spy code

language, to talk to your friends in.

I agreed,

“So, when people say these things, I think they may be misunderstanding why

the ones who are using another language are doing this. A different reason may

be,¬† they are overhearing visitors from another country or ‘foreigners.’ Just like

we like to travel, someday I hope you will go to another country. You may wish to

use the language of that country but you may look for someone who understands

English. When foreigners visit, they seek out our cultural places, like museums

and zoos. Sometimes, there is no one who knows their language but there are

special headphones and language tapes, to help them to understand what they

are seeing. ”

 

It was funny how Micah was taking this all in, which is unusual. He interrupted

my final statement to interject,

“What do you think about when people ask me if¬†my Daddy¬†is a terrorist? Are

they trying to be funny? It makes him so mad!”

Micah’s Daddy’s father is black. For some reason, even when he wears his hair

in an ‘afro’ or braids, people think he looks like someone from Iraq or Iran. I

tried not to smile because he’s made some jokes about trying to go to the airport

and being held back, if he were ever wishing to travel internationally. He will use

a Robert¬†Kline kind of comment, “I just picture the guards taking me down, then

I am lying on the floor using my Ohio accent, telling them I was born here!”¬†I know

he doesn’t think it is funny and¬†under the comic words, he is hiding his pain.

“It is not meant as an insult. If anything, the best way to answer people about

this, is to say, “Of course not! That’s my Daddy!”

I also told Micah that being able to see humor in such things and make light of

them, will carry him far in life.

 

Skyler summed this all up in one fantastic phrase, which he admits may have

come from the children’s animated movie, “Tarzan:”

“They are part of us. We are part of them.”

 

Referring to the song Phil Collins wrote for “Tarzan” (1999):

“You’ll Be in My Heart.”

“Why can’t they understand the way we feel?”

(The gorilla mother singing to human baby, Tarzan)

“They just don’t trust what they can’t explain.

I know we’re different but deep inside us,

We’re not that different at all.”

 

 

As far as language, it is true that~

I wish my Grandmother Mattson had taught me some German.

I wish my Grandfather had taught me some Swedish.

I watch that one television show, “Welcome to Sweden,” just to learn a few phrases.

I¬†know my Dad learned a little Scottish and used a few phrases that are more ‘slang’

than anything else.

 

Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they will be called Children of God.”

 

Who do you consider a great humanitarian?

Do you feel we need to be more or less understanding to others, when it comes

to language barriers?

Be honest, we can learn from each other’s points of view.

 

 

 

Book Review: “Pioneer Girl”

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A woman who wrote a memoir, titled, “Stealing Buddha’s

Dinner,” (2007) has used what is called the ‘working

title’ from “Little House in the Prairie.” Originally,

Laura Ingalls Wilder had written “Pioneer Girl,” on

her rough draft of her first book to be published.

There is a former Purdue professor, Bich Minh Nguyen,

born in Viet Nam and who immigrated to Grand Rapids,

Michigan who has written her second book, this time

a novel inspired by the life of Rose Wilder Lane.

When Ms. Nguyen discovered that Rose had traveled to

Viet Nam on an assignment for a magazine to put a

feminine perspective on the Viet Nam war, she felt

a common bond with Rose. Ms. Nguyen was compelled to

write about a fictionalized part of Rose Wilder Lane’s

life. She incorporated some details, by having the main

character and narrator, named Lee Lien, discover the

common ties between the real journalist named Rose and

the fictional character named Lee.

I found that this book has a fascinating way of drawing

you into Lee’s life. She has completed her education,

but comes home to live with her mother and grandfather.

For the time being, Lee Lien has decided to help run

the fictional Lotus Leaf Café.

This restaurant is an Asian, mixed with fusion, place

in a strip mall in Chicago, Illinois. Lee’s mother is

portrayed as a pushy and domineering woman, while her

grandfather is given a gentle, sympathetic personality.

In an interview, Ms.Nguyen, the author, says that it

was quite a challenge to mesh the real life character

with “an alternative reality.”

I have found myself drawn to immigrants’ stories. I

have shared that my own mother’s parents met in NYC,

one a Swedish immigrant and the other a German one.

The way Ms. Nguyen shares that she never felt very

comfortable in Michigan and always wondered why her

parents stayed there, since they could have sought a

different part of the country. She did finish her own

education in Indiana, part of the Midwest, but has

moved in the past year to the San Francisco Bay area.

Here is a quotation from Ms. Nguyen,

“I’m a Midwesterner. We sort of believe you should

grow where you’re planted. So it was hard to leave.

It took me and my husband a long time to make this

decision.” (She, her husband and two children, ages

two and four years old moved in July, 2013.)

She feels that moving to the West coast is like a

dream and it is more home to her now, too.

I felt that this book would be a great one to share

with people who don’t feel like they belong, if they

were Asian descent, if they were adopted and to help

come to terms with becoming part of American culture.

A great part of researching Rose Wilder Lane, beloved

character and daughter of the “Little House” books

series, was to discover that she became such a

renowned journalist and novelist that her numerous

publications have become enshrined in the Herbert Hoover

Presidential Library!

What a fantastic legacy, as the daughter of Laura Ingalls

Wilder, to become a famous journalist and author, in her

‘own right.’

I think this meant a lot to me, having been such a fan of

L. W. Ingalls’ books, to know what happened to her daughter,

Rose Wilder Lane.

As a last explanation for combining her own roots with the

life of R. W. Lane, author, Bich Minh Nguyen states:

“I was interested in the idea of mythmaking and the idea

of trying to find one’s story.”

As writers, we all try different ways to combine our own

lives, weaving them into our stories, along with wishing

to create ones that are mythical and meaningful.

You may find your “muse” in another person’s life story.

Hope this book will inspire you.

An International Love Story: Shanika and Anthony

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Just in time for the week leading up until Valentine’s

Day, Shanika and her husband are sharing their love

story. It began while they were interns at a Cleveland

hospital.

They were ‘study buddies’ and took many different late

night ‘breaks’ from the challenge of learning their

physiology, molecular biology and medical training.

They had ‘all nighters’ and clinicals to struggle

through, depending on each other, learning how to work

together as a ‘team.’

Shanika had come from Sri Lanka, while Anthony had

come from the Philippines. His background, parentage

consisted of Filipino-Chinese. Once they shared their

private conversations for a few years of being close

friends, they knew their commonality in the Roman

Catholic church and beliefs. They also knew both their

families held education and traditions as important

values.

They had good friends that also shared these close

values and philosophies. When they would gather to

celebrate good grades or a successful step in their

futures, they always produced a meal that combined

their different cultures. It sounded like a feast

to me!

When Anthony asked Shanika to marry, he had already

met her father and mother. He had travelled with her

to her ‘homeland’ and made the decision on their next

trip there to ask her father for her hand in marriage.

What a lovely tradition and this is sometimes the case

in American weddings, a focus in romantic comedies, too.

They had started to, unconsciously, show preferences

for some of their favorite foods from each of their

families’ recipes.

The couple had also begun to have premarital counseling

with their priest, who would guide them in expressing

their feelings more easily and helping to choose what

were going to be priorities in their home life and

future family. Both Shanika and Anthony agree that

they hope someday to have children.

Melding the two cultures and the varied customs,

meant so much to this couple!

When Shanika’s father ‘gave his blessing,’ they were

much relieved to be over that hurdle!

When their two best friends and marital role models

accepted the role of being their ‘sponsors,’ they were

relieved and thrilled!

International weddings are even more important to have

understanding of each other’s familial and cultural

backgrounds.

Whenever they attended a wedding together in the past

two years, they came home and started to make lists

of what they had taken part in, as guests. They would

discuss and agree which parts of the ceremony and

reception they enjoyed and meant more to them, too.

Both Shanika and Anthony are very considerate and

almost self-effacing people. If you ever met them,

you would not necessarily guess they were both

doctors!

They were told, in their premarital counseling, that

part of searching their backgrounds would help them

discover what would become part of their own personal

traditions.

While some of us may want as a future bride to have:

“Something new, something old, something borrowed,

something blue.”

One important part of the bride’s wardrobe was her

wedding dress reflected her mother’s own choice of a

white sari. This is traditional of Sri Lankan heritage.

Anthony felt an American tuxedo, like the many movie

stars and actors wear, was his desire for ‘appropriate

attire.’ He chose a black tuxedo, a white vest and tie.

They made compromises on the menu but Anthony wanted

to ensure that his family would be pleased, thus the

appetizers included ’empanadas’ served at the reception.

Their eyes and souls were filled with a lovely vision,

while attending an Eastern wedding. They both knew one

element of the ceremony would ‘have to be part of their

own’ wedding!

When they saw the centuries old tradition of something

called, “Cord and Veil Ceremony.” There was excitement

when this caught them, helping the planning to all fall

into place, after that serendipitous attendance of a

close friend’s wedding.

To explain this, while the couple hold hands and are

on their knees in front of the Priest or Father who

is leading the marriage ceremony, the sponsors place

a long, sheer, intricately designed rectangular veil

across the shoulders of both the bride and groom.

This custom is to represent or symbolize, “Purity.”

Then, once the pronouncement of their vows and the

priest has nearly completed the service, they have

a cord, it can be white silk, that is placed over

their heads, this connects them and it signifies

their “New Bond.”

Having gone through the many steps to reach this

special moment, the beauty in the presentation of

this couple was captured on film. Their silhouettes

of their backs on their knees, with the veil across

both their shoulders and the cord loosely laid

around both their necks shows a different kind of

wedding photograph. I could say it compared to

ones where the couple are on their knees up at

the altar, being blessed by their minister or

their priest.

I studied their photograph, their faces looking at

each other, adoringly, and I believe this marriage

will last.

I know their families, coworkers, patients and their

two sponsors will hold them in their prayers.

I think all the ‘work’ it took to get the complete

ceremony, with their giving and taking, their choosing

special parts, and debating which parts to include and

dismiss became a great beginning to how to overcome any

future challenges. They have created the foundation of

a lifelong partnership and their bond of marriage seems

strong.

When the couple entered the reception, they were treated

to Sri Lankan dancers. They were also led into a pathway

to their table, where there were little tea candles.

These candles, flickering and shining, led their way to

the special places they were to sit for the reception

meal.

I imagine this, more than have seen it. I have only

seen the one photograph, taken by a friend of the

family’s.

It is that of the traditional cord and veil positions

of Shanika and Anthony, heads turned towards each other,

their shoulders together, their hearts intertwined in

love.

It could almost bring tears to my eyes, as if they

had been my own children.

Wouldn’t this make a great fairy tale ending?

Sochi and Mom Visit

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Mom, my two brothers, one sister in law and I headed

out for dinner over by Crocker Park, in Westlake, Ohio.

We had decided that Max and Erma’s was going to be our

destination. Fun times, consoling and warm thoughts, along

with our being able to watch the Olympics Opening Ceremony,

in Sochi, Russia were all reasons for our choice.

Max and Erma’s is a busy, pleasant restaurant which features

good food, friendly atmosphere and television screens.

One of the first topics, our little ’roundtable’ tackled

was the subject of my AWOL post. We talked about losing

someone special and the way our hectic, frantic lives and

sometimes just the winter season pressing down on us can

push us over the ledge. Susan, a professor at Baldwin Wallace,

mentioned several times in her college teaching years where

the subject of depression and suicide has been on her students’

minds. Students feel pressure, besides everyone’s outside view

of college being just for parties…

Rich mentioned how he has encountered this in his teaching

both elementary school (parents and family members being

the main ones who were overcoming challenges in his twenty

years of inner city teaching, special education.)

Randy and I talked about former classmates at our high

school, one a part of set of twins and another man who was

a brilliant genius, along with being a gentle and humorous

man. Andy C. had been on my list of ones to remember and

commemorate. His Science Club participation in recycling,

along with the way he chose a project in the 70’s to put

solar panels up on the top of the high school to ‘warm the

water’ were part of our memories. His sister, Alice, had

been in my class and Andy in Randy’s class. His death in

his fifties surprised and upset us both.

Mom told us of someone, in her family, who came back from

Viet Nam changed by his experience. Nowadays, she said,

they would consider it post traumatic stress. Her cousin,

Johnny, was an artist and a sensitive member of a set of

twins, too. He did not ever fully emotionally recover from

his war times, but did not kill himself. Family members had

wrapped him up, deciding to insulate him, and offer him

some security. His father had funded several business

opportunities and Johnny continued living ‘hand to mouth’

by creating art pieces. Some reflected depth and darkness

and others were of the Rockport seaside town he lived in.

We chose food that sustained us, but the ‘food for thought’

was what I needed and nourished on more. My brother asked

me about that ‘matchmaking deal’ that Felicia had done

with the political analyst. He wanted to know more of the

details than my blog had shared and wondered why I did not

get up and leave immediately.

First, I did feel that the man, Bill, needed to see what

he had done, realize after he spoke with me, that he had

made too quick of judgments on my family and other subjects.

I reasoned with him, filling him in on my background, which

I am never bragging about, really just proud of my parents

and brothers. I have succeeded in a few things, myself, I

wished to share. I didn’t want to let Bill ‘off the hook.’

Susan asked me why I didn’t throw a cup of Panera coffee

at him, regarding his remark about my children’s kids. I

told her, I responded back, “Well, for a Democrat you seem

to be not following the party line. Would you rather my son

not have married a single woman with 2 kids?”

We laughed about some other subjects, we grew pensive and

appreciative over our family unit that has a lot of good

qualities within it. I felt comforted and lifted up by

their presence in my life. My Mom was very witty, at times,

saying funny comments about men and women’s relationships

and politics. She also said she hoped we would stay out

long enough to see the Olympics. She expressed a wise

and simple thought, “Being the daughter of two immigrants

makes me especially proud to be an American!”

The lighting of the Olympic torch, with the ones who

were chosen to run with their own torches, moved us all.

The grand entrance with the Olympics’ theme music (or

Official Olympics’ Anthem) playing caught the table next

to ours, that had two little boys’attention, with bibs on,

eating a very late dinner!

We enjoyed the Swan Lake spectacle, the spinning dancers

with the beautiful music playing. We were very excited

when we saw the huge gathering and parade of U.S. Olympic

team members, with our flag waving. We thought the U.S.

(we don’t know what her name was but we called her this)

“Ice Angel” leading with her appearance of being a living

Statue of Liberty was very nice part of the group.

Mom and I got up early on Saturday, to get her grocery

shopping at Giant Eagle (also located at Crocker Park)

completed. The regular list always includes a certain

amount of chocolate, which had to be ‘amped up’ due to

her making bags for all the servers, mostly teens, in

the dining room. (There are about 25 different teens,

some who start with the breakfast serving and others

who run the café or dinner serving.) All have been part

of my Mom’s “emotional and well being therapy.” It is

about two full years of being at the senior living apts.

We also had to buy some Sangria, sharp cheddar cheese

and wheat crackers. We lingered around the Valentine’s

Day decorations and she was very happy that I had chosen

a singing dog, which is white with red spots that pops

out of a pink Valentine’s Day box, to be on her decorative

shelf outside her door. I asked her if she wanted a wreath

but we finally decided that the red berry decorated one

that has vines and she had stuck a President’s Day flag

in it, was adequate decorating for her simple door and

shelf. We each purchased a box of the childrens’ valentines,

mine being wacky cats and dogs and hers being Mickey Mouse

themed.

While watching the exciting and exhilarating snowboarding

later in the afternoon, we were busily writing notes to

my grandchildren (her great’s, of course) along with some

for her neighbors. She was not up to the task of bagging

candy in huge amounts but said she had almost a week to

go, and not to worry about her getting it done. We held

our breath when Sage Kotsenburg did his fantastic and very

artistic snowboarding run down the manmade slopes at Sochi.

We knew he had made it to Gold, before the scoreboard told

us, since his 4 1/2 rotations and magnificent flips were

just ‘mind blowing!’ Congratulations of the first Gold

medal for the U.S. team!

Later, after dinner, I think it was, we sat and watched,

Meryl Davis and Charlie White in their team ice dance

performance. It was part of the short dance skating

competition. Canada had a wonderful presentation, along

with France and Russia. We missed the others, having gone

to pick up our dinners “to go” from the dining room. It

consisted of chicken stir fry, mashed potatoes and

cheesecake. I liked the mushrooms, celery and carrots

in the stir fry and added more sweet and sour sauce from

Mom’s fridge.

My favorite part of the Meryl Davis and Charlie White part

was their loose and carefree style. It held tight turns,

precise movements but a commentator noticed this and called

their mood, “joie to vivre.” Their energy and passion shone.

Mom liked the fact they ‘danced/skated’ to “My Fair Lady.”

The two songs, “I Could Have Danced All Night” and “I’m

Getting Married in the Morning” were woven into their

poetic performance. I also thought that Meryl’s pink

high necked fluffy, floating short gown was beautiful

and Charlie’s longer styled blonde hair and tuxedo

clad clothing was excellently chosen, as did Mom. We

did like the all black on another couple and the way

all the teams danced/skated so well. So far, Meryl

and Charlie have ‘won’ the first part of the competition

and hope that their great ease and graceful fluidity will

earn them an Olympic Gold medal also.

There is an upcoming part of the Olympics I am looking

forward to, which includes a young woman with roots in Ohio.

She has spunk, grit, shockingly bright red hair and an

indomitable spirit!

This would be Katie Uhlaender, a member of the U.S. team of

“skeleton athletes.” They slide head first on a track built

for bobsleds! Talk about taking your life into your hands!

Her father was Ted Uhlaender, who died on Feb. 12, 2009.

He played for and coached the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati

Reds. He was also the Columbus Clippers coach and manager.

When Katie was only 15 years old, she developed a crush on

the player named, Jim Thome. I heard about this man often during

the period of the early 2000’s. Katie was born in 1984, while

my youngest daughter, who was an Indians’ fan was born in 1985.

I remember my brothers saying Thome was a great player, but my

daughter called him, “hot.”

This memory comes to me, since I look at Katie’s bright red,

short styled hair and think that she is cool looking. She has

been through a lot, including the loss of her father. The many

obstacles include a 2009 snowmobiling accident that shattered

her kneecap. She also had to have hip corrective surgery in

2011. In last October, 2013, Katie suffered a concussion while

practicing her extremely difficult Olympics’ skill. She gave

a verbal explanation that was rather poetic, saying she has

made a ‘mosaic’ of putting shattered pieces together. Katie

has come in 6th and 8th in this years’ two training runs. She

had placed in 2006, before her father had passed away of a

heart attack, after a difficult time with cancer, #6 in the

World Olympics. In 2010, only one year after her Dad’s death,

she placed at the Olympics, 11th place overall. In 2012, she

won the World Championship of skeleton sledding. She has the

Silver and Bronze medals and now, is “Going for the Gold!”

On her person, during every competition, she wears a combination

of her father’s baseball card, his 1972 National Championship

ring, (when he played for Cincy. Reds’ baseball team) and a

bit of his ashes held in a small, silver baseball.

Katie says her father was a great supportive person in her

life, “He would give me this undeniable sense of purpose.

That’s what gives me the drive of a warrior.”

Look up on Thursday and Friday, (Feb. 13th and 14th) Olympics’

schedules to watch this motivated and courageous U.S. athlete

in her Skeleton Run Competition and hope she wins the Gold!

Chop Suey

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I remember a bygone day of listening to musicals

on my parents’ stereo. There was a Chinese love

story, called “Flower Drum Song.” This was taken

from a book written in 1957, made into a musical

by the famed duo of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The

film version was done in 1961, with Gene Kelly

playing a stage director. Themes of assimilation of

Chinese immigrants into our American culture, a

teenager’s rebellion, and an intergenerational

family living in China Town was popular on Broadway.

As time passed, it left the stages of Broadway and off

Broadway, until it was rewritten and made into a newer

production in 2002.

The same songs were kept with ‘tweaks’ in the character

development. It has been awhile since I have heard this

musical but some of the songs were very enchanting!

I sometimes wonder, how this would hold up to the

test of time!

Does anyone remember “Flower Drum Song?”

The real recipe for a Chinese dish of Chop Suey may

include meat(s), eggs, a starchy sauce, with vegetables.

These can include thinly sliced carrots, celery, bean

sprouts and other Asian vegetables. I would like to

have a bowl of this right now!

Another musical I was captured by the story behind

the book,”Anna and the King of Siam.” On stage, it

became “The King and I.” Yul Brynner did a wonderful

acting job in this, as did Deborah Kerr, in the movie

version. This was based on the autobiographical story

about a nanny for the king, who does fall for her over

time. They never ‘consummate’ their relationship but

are friends, conversationalists and until he passes

away, the one woman the King admires for her ‘brains!’

Anyway, “Chop Suey” was a fun loving song in the first

musical that I listed. This is going to be a post that

includes the many ways ‘chop’ or ‘chopped’ can be used.

This began, on a winter’s night, while my two grandsons

were over visiting. I was watching on my tiny, old t.v.

(it has a VCR unit in it!)on one side of my apartment the

show, “American Idol.” I enjoy watching this more than

“The Voice,” “The Singing Bee,” and “America’s Got Talent.”

This year, with Harry Connick, Jr. playing a bit of the

‘tough judge’ role, Jennifer Lopez and Keith Urban, is

going very well! I have seen at least three young singers

who I would choose, without further training or coaching,

to be my “next American Idol.” There is a lot of raw

talent out there in America (and the world, too!)

While watching this, my two grandsons were across the

room watching on my bigger flat screen television two

shows. They were alternating between Nick, Jr. (which

has some of the younger one’s favorites like “Diego,”

“Blue’s Clues,” and “Bob the Builder.”) He will honestly

watch other shows, like “Dora,” and the girly ones with

me, too. The older one is starting to like Disney’s

‘teen-oriented’ shows and will study how to date, how to

tip a bucket over a person’s head and she will still

like you. With other silly premises and pranks that

those shows have. I wish I could tell you that it is

above his head, but I do remember my brothers and I

watching, “Beach Blanket Bingo” and other Annette

Funicello with handsome actor, Frankie Avalon movies.

We seemed to enjoy the rather silly plotlines and the

innocent sexual innuendoes, along with the flirtatious

atmosphere of people barely clothed. (That was made back

in 1965!)

I exclaimed about one of the younger female singers

who had done an excellent performance of singing

Adele’s song, “Chasing Pavement.” I said,

“That young girl has some ‘chops’ on her!”

When Skyler came over to see what I was talking

about, he half kiddingly said, “I like pork ‘chops,’

but what are you talking about, Nana?”

I came back with,

“Well, in Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts

says, “‘Chop’ off her head!”

And Sky, teasingly went along with this word play,

joining in with more,

“My Mom ‘chops’ apples and my Dad ‘chops’ onions!”

Micah came over and noticed our voices being animated,

wondered,

“Do you mean that ‘chops’ can be for food? I thought

you were talking about karate ‘chops!'”

Skyler says, “I wish you could make us some ‘chopped’

steak and enjoy it with some ‘chopped’ peppers.

I replied,

“In the month of February, you will learn about George

Washington who was so honest he confessed he was the

one who ‘chopped’ down the cherry tree.”

He scoffed and shook his head,

“I already knew that, Nana!”

I thought a moment and said,

“I bet you didn’t know that a ‘chop shop’ was a

car garage that takes stolen auto parts and fixes

cars up to be resold for a profit!”

The all knowing Sky answered,

“Since you never play video games, you probably

don’t know about Grand Theft Auto!”

I came back with a feeble attempt, I was losing

this battle of words…

“When I used to want to get my hair cut, a botched

up job would make me say my hair got…” (pause)

and Sky finished the thought,

“‘Chopped!'”

I told Skyler since my show was back on, that the

only way I had heard of ‘chops’ in the musical

world was when someone really belted out a song,

gave it their all and it came out sounding wonderful.

That the use of ‘chops’ was a compliment. I promised

I would check Wikipedia to give him the root meaning

of how this word came about…

On Urban Dictionary, the slang term, ‘chops’ means good

singing ability or singing talent; he/ she can truly

sing. Here, I thought that there may be a little bit of

a reference to the fact that in the olden days, when

men grew their sideburns out, they were called, ‘mutton

chops.’ Thinking that almost went with the throat area

where belting a song out would come. I did find that

this did get included in the free online reference

dictionary where the jowls of a person are meant to

indicate the ability of a jazz artist or musician to

sing loudly and well. There was another reference to

Louis Armstrong, who could sing well and use his

musical ‘chops’ in playing the trumpet, too.

Lastly, as I will call my grandson tonight to tell

him my findings, I thought of my youngest brother

pecking away on the piano, practicing (you may have

guessed the ending!):

“‘Chop’ Sticks!”