Category Archives: work

Announcements

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Just making an informative post today. No special editing or elaborate

historical references. A plain old piece where I tell you some things and

hope something new or needed will give you a smile or help you to be

informed.

 

Tomorrow, Monday February 16, 2015:  There will be a Grammy’s

Tribute to one of my favorite uplifting singers of all time:

Stevie Wonder. The famous names and artists expected to be there

at this live performance are remarkable and legendary. Just in case

you didn’t know this wished to fill you in on the musical evening.

 

Yesterday, Saturday Februrary 14, 2015: I went from the library into

a white out storm, which was totally unexpected. I stopped by the

local Strand theater and checked to make sure they would be open

at the 5:00 p.m. show time. Yes, they were surprised Delaware, Ohio

was on a Level Two Snow Emergency and that the library, as was all

the city agencies and offices were closed.

 

I went to see “Sponge Bob Square Pants: Sponge Out of Water”

children’s animated film with my grandkids and my oldest daughter.

Marley, Makyah, Skyler and Micah, with Carrie, all thought the film

was funny. Especially, since we have all seen the regular cartoons on

television. There were at least ten other adults there, 5 couples, who

were not there with children who showed signs of amusement and

one couple lingered through all the credits, as my family so often

does this.

 

It has Sponge Bob’s regular voice, which critics have complained of

his whiny, high pitched voice. The kids don’t mind his voice and did

the critics expect him to lower it for a full length feature film? I laughed

at Antonio Banderas who plays a pirate during the real people sequences.

I was also smiling at the seagulls who sing the song from the t.v. series,

which drives the pirate crazy.

 

The funniest and best part of the film was that Sponge Bob could not

count on his friends, Patrick and his boss, but became a ‘team’ with the

little guy, Plankton. He is usually his enemy but showed a ‘softer side.’

The movie emphasized ‘teamwork’ and Plankton, throughout most of

the time he was working together with S. B., called it “T.M. work.”

 

At the end, everyone goes back to their original character roles. I wanted

to tell those who love squirrels, Sandy is usually a squirrel under water

with a scuba diving helmet on. She is a positive, friendly squirrel friend

of all the show’s animated characters. She goes a little berserk when the

Crabby Patties aren’t available at the Bikini Bottom restaurant. Up on

land, with real living people, she becomes a real squirrel breathing air.

There is a weird role of a dolphin and time warps and time traveling but

I liked the film. My oldest daughter liked it, too. The couple who were in

their thirties, no children, next to me were roaring! They were literally

and repeating some of the corny jokes and lines of the movie, too!

 

Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of Sponge Bob Square Pants was a

Marine Biologist with a sense of humor when he started the series,

writing most of the original stories in 1999. He now has a team of

comedic and creative members to keep the stories interesting, as

well as relevant.

 

 

As far as the little M & M girls spending the night, we had dress up

with crowns, bumblebee outfit, jewelry, make-up, and the flower girl

dress. We read a whole collection of six Beatrix Potter books, along

with a few of the Christmas books. We ate Cutie oranges/tangerines

and snacked on chicken nuggets and french fries. We had pancakes

for breakfast and they didn’t like the vanilla yogurt with the kiwi

slices, blueberries and strawberries in it.  Even when, I Nana tried to

rinse the fruit off.

 

I will keep you all informed about work. My ophthalmologist is still

going to be working on my excuse letter. I will call them during the

week to see if the final draft is completed if they don’t call me soon.

 

My son and his coworkers had a busy night on Valentine’s Day, with

several people like I was, driving through the snow to pick up the kids

and then, we walked downtown through the snow to the theater. My

oldest daughter gave me a delicious meatball wrapped with a biscuit

treat, which my M & M girls weren’t the least bit interested in trying.

So glad the restaurants and theater were allowed to stay open, for

their Valentine’s Day customers.

 

By the way, the Strand was showing “Fifty Shades of Grey,” and I

think it was sold out. A perfect way to celebrate love and romance,

if you liked this book or the theme of the movie. Kids and I were

just fine enjoying silliness and nothing too upsetting at the kids’

movie.

 

Hope you all have a great week.

Take care and God bless you

for all the kind and thoughtful comments.

 

 

 

 

All in One Day: Thank God for Small Favors

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From being called, “honey chile'” (which is a short cut for “honey

child,” with a Southern twist) to “m’am,” Wednesday was quite a

unique day. I expressed myself, much to the chagrin of my boss

and boss’ boss about work and it seemed like I might have to be

looking for another job.

 

It was “one of those days!”

 

The upswing were the nice labels given to me, they brightened

my mood and took me outside of my own discomfort and nervous

feelings, too. But. . . this didn’t happen to me, until the end of an

extra long day.

 

This would have been nice to have landed on February 2nd, where

the imaginary day would have played out like the actor, Bill Murray’s

day did in the movie, “Groundhog’s Day.” I would have loved to have

been in the young woman’s shoes in the fun and new Hallmark film

shown on television, “I Do, I Do, I Do.” The woman gets to have so

many ‘do-overs’ that she learns to dance, a foreign language and

manages to marry the ‘right’ man in the end.

 

No, my week started with us paper-picking, which is a tedious

process that you fill hampers with car products which normally

you get to see lights lit up which I smile and say, “Pick 1- A” and

then put one of the products under the light into the “A” tub.

 

The ‘system’ was down. It was a long day. As I was turning in my

indirect time sheet which is like a daily log of the up’s and down’s

of my workday, explaining ‘time gaps’ by saying I was ‘cleaning’

which may entail drying a stack of wet, snowy hampers before I

could use them or ‘research,’ which means checking if the stocker

put the right products into the correct slot.’ My most used one is

called, ‘warehouse,’ while I may have to open packaging of eight

scented air fresheners to place one in the bin, or may have to

count out sets of 24 that the stocker dumped out of the boxes,

which is a Royal Pain, when the stores are having rush orders of

asking for 72 or 96 in my six hampers I am pushing along, while

filling on a line.

 

Anyway, after handing in my answers to the ‘Essay Test,’ I was

told I was going to have to start using a wrist computer with a

Blue Tooth feature, which would tell me orders across a screen

and it weighs between 5 and 6 pounds. This may not be a big

deal with some of my younger and possibly bigger coworkers,

but it is strapped onto my left forearm and there is a gadget

which you attach to two of your fingers to scan with. This is used

in a work area that I often mention is not “Pick to Light” but it

involves pushing a cart where you place four hampers up and

down rows in a place called the “Mezzanine.” I have used in this

area for the past six years a Tablet with a scanner. I like this,

since I can play imaginary ‘store keeper,’ scanning products and

placing them into bins.

 

The Tablet, unlike the arm computer, is put on a rack attached

to the cart and has large writing,. You can see the next product’s

location, as you push the cart down the aisles. This is one of

the ‘fun’ places I finish many of my days in a few of the zones.

On our short Fridays, Melvin and I try to beat each other by

running around corners.

if you have ever read, (yes, Mike Lince has often said this is

like a Lucille Ball show, where the center character is me!)

 

I was upset, but managed to say, “Okay, if I must learn this

new tiny printed screen and heavy weighted thing placed upon

my arm, I will try my best.”

 

Two days later, since I did adapt emotionally well to the blue

tooth computer (not so well to the numbness of my thin arm and

wrist area) and was doing fine in what companies consider MOST

importantly: My performance rate was at a 95%.

 

The manager decided to burst my newly found ‘bubble’ and add

on Wednesday; a FEAR. Yes, folks, Robin is afraid to go back to

Heavy Bulk.

 

I am one of three people left in the Bins Order Filler position since

I arrived six years ago. When others have been used and abused by

being asked to daily “cross-over” and “help” heavy bulk, I had done

my eight weeks’ training, failed by running into racks and tipping

pallets of stock over by bumping them in the shipping lanes and had

to be written up with three warnings.

 

My old boss, Jake,  the one I have declared “my very best boss ever,”

(over any teachers, principals or superintendents) due to his ability

to stay calm and be such a patient leader to a variety of people.

He is gone, off to a better position, but he was there during that

disastrous summer fiasco!

 

Jake had finally written me up for the third time, taken a photograph

of the ‘ding’ in a metal rack left and let me stay permanently in the

area of Bins. Now, if you stayed with me through that Hemingway-

esque description and length of run-on sentence, I will tell you I said

to my current boss, and then my boss’ boss,

“I hate my job!”

 

As I dragged my feet down the long walk from Building One to

Building Three later in the day, my coworker, Nick, slowed down

on his center riding pallet rider, the very one I never hoped to

drive again to say,

“Hi Robin! What’s going on, I never see you looking at the floor

as you walk. “(I am not making this up, he is such an intuitive

and kind young man, I have really asked him more than once,

“Do you have a divorced father or widowed grandfather who

would like to casually date me?” He always smiles at this kind

of compliment to him, too.)

 

I rolled my eyes and told him,

“They are really pushing me to cross-train or retrain again and

thinking about placing me in Heavy Bulk with the likes of you!”

 

As I talked to him briefly, I went into my plastic Zip Lock bag

and found the new Juicy Fruit Starburst Gum with tangy cherry

flavor to hand him three pieces. This is an ongoing ‘help keep

the young people around,’ ploy and he gave me a broad smile

in return,

“Thank you so much, Robin!”

 

When I mentioned my appalling and inappropriate employee

behavior to my best friend, Jenny, after work on my cell phone,

she said,

“Oh no! Robin you cannot talk to your bosses like that!

You will get fired!”

 

I answered her, my best friend and retired teacher I dearly love,

“Jenny, you would not last a day in this job. I have adapted, I have

stuck with each request for six long years and I am going to try to get

a better work excuse out of Heavy Bulk from my ophthalmologist.”

 

She replied, “This will just get them to start writing you up over

and over again, until you have enough ‘Points’ (you can get up

to 10 before being fired) to get legitimately fired. Your talking

in such a disrespectful way will get you terminated.”

 

My attitude to the whole thing was to say in response to my

long-time friend of over 20 years, approaching 25 was to say,

“I don’t care anymore.”

 

So, I went above my boss’ boss to the newly positioned CEO

on Wednesday. Ted was someone we have all known who has

risen from the ranks of Order Filler in Florida, having taken

business courses and getting a Bachelor’s down there. To be

finally receiving a Master’s degree (online coursework) and

being recognized for his leadership and good work ethic.

 

I asked Ted a simple question:

“How do I get my eye doctor to write me a prescription you

and others will understand? I have submitted one that has

explained I had narrow eye glaucoma, have had laser surgery

and now wear contacts to help me see the tiny bar codes on

the products and to the best I can with these, see far down

the lanes in the Pick to Light and the Bins area in the Mezz

and the Green Bins areas. It says plain as day in my files,

written with the idea of driving a fork lift and pallet rider,

that I cannot see out of one of my eyes well enough to back

up into shipping. It expresses these two elements: Robin

lacks depth perception due to her monovision.”

 

Ted studied me, he is a fair man, after all. He then put his

hands into a prayer ‘posture,’ and asked,

“Could you get your ophthalmologist to write a clearer

prescription which describes our different equipment?”

 

Exasperated, I told Ted that I would try but added that

he could look up My Summer from Hell, that I spent in

the Heavy Bulk radiators, struts and tailpipes area and

how I was ‘wrangling stuff far bigger than I was’ and how

I lost my Summer bonus, because I was not able to drive

backwards in the narrow lanes on the shipping floor.

 

Ted listened, I give him that.

Again he repeated that I needed a more specific excuse since

“everyone” was being cross-trained back into Heavy Bulk.

 

As I left, I mentioned this fact,

“When I interviewed for this job, I was told I would just

be in the area of the bins and never drive abt equipment. I

did give this a ‘shot’ and failed miserably. How is it that

two of the last older colleagues may use knee surgery and

shoulder surgery to count as good excuses but when I

am afraid of hurting others, using equipment I am not

very capable of handling, due to the safety concerns you

would think that my eyes would be every bit as ‘good’ an

excuse as theirs. . .  I will call Dr. Pappas, leave a detailed

message and hope for the best.”

 

When I left work, I was discouraged. I have really tried

there. I went into the library this time driving directly

there and not parking in the front lot of my apartment

building, trudging here and back by foot. I just wanted

to read and post an upbeat message on Thursday or

Friday. No complaining or ranting.

 

Into my second hour of writing my Premio Dardos post,

I was asked while immersed in my writing by two young

men a question. I had to ‘shake off my dream world of

blogging’ and listen. They looked rather upset and worn

around the edges. One was in a ball cap and the other was

holding two skate boards,

“M’am, would you be able to give us a ride?”

 

I glanced at my neighbor, a woman who is a nurse who is

doing online training, often in the library. She looked at me,

raised her eyebrows, her head turned towards me, back of

her head towards the ‘boys.’

 

I told them I was blogging, needed to be here about an hour,

but afterwards I could drive them. I pointed outside through

the glass partition that separated the computer room from the

lounge chairs and cubicles that people tutor students in and

also, set up their private laptops to do their work,

“If you want a ride, I will try to do what I can as fast as I can,

so you may only have to sit out there for 45 minutes. Where

am I taking you?”

 

Their response reassured me it would only take me 15 minutes

out of my way and it was an older, more familiar territory to

me. Sometimes I just use my ‘gut’ and I did this time. I used

to live there on this street, where the corner had a bakery and

a hair dresser, side by side with a leather works shop. It was

more of a positive way to end my day, than to focus the whole

time on my dumb job problems. I probably wrote distracted

and shortened comments on Wednesday to my fellow bloggers,

since I was really fuming inside. (The repeated rant I kept

carrying in my head, interrupting my writing flow was,

“How much more of this can I take, Lord?”)

 

As the young men walked away, I noticed one has droopy

drawers, which is what is still considered fashionable among

some of the teens around Delaware. It looked like Kanye and

sometimes other rappers still think it is okay to wear, too.

 

The nurse looked at me and asked pointedly,

“Do you KNOW those boys?”

 

I replied, “No, but my son used to ask people for rides,

sometimes still relies on others for them.”

 

She grabbed my arm, not too tightly but more of a warm

touch,

“Honey chile’ you should not give boys or men you don’t

know rides. I will pray for your safety tonight.”

I looked at her computer and saw she was finished with

her program and she handed the headphones back into

the computer room aide. I told her thank you and I did

appreciate her caring about me.

 

I decided to finish up and leave the computer room, go

to the bathroom and give the ‘boys’ a ride. I looked at

them with the one boy having his cap pulled over his face,

slouching in one of the leather chairs while the other, who

had asked me looked up expectantly, asking, “Are you ready

now?” He nudged his skate boarding partner and told him

to get ready to go. I found them waiting outside the women’s

restroom, probably figuring I was making a ‘go at leaving

without them, ‘ but I never purposely go back on a promise.

 

I went to my car and they stood outside while I unlocked it,

asking if I minded their smoking one cigarette while it warmed

up. I didn’t mind and made a joke telling them I had to take a

few moments to clear a seat in the back of the car, adding that

when I had gone to Cleveland to my Mom’s I was given a few

odds and ends to put into my own crowded apartment. I tell

many people about my using the trunk as a kind of ‘shed.’

 

When they got into the car, the one who has asked for the

ride and had been in ‘charge’ of the skateboards said such

a nice compliment,

“Thank you, m’am, we asked probably a dozen people, men

and women in the library and finally were about to give up

and we saw people in the computer room and there you were,

being so kind to us. We would have waited, it got so cold all

of a sudden. Hope you didn’t rush on account of us?”

 

I asked their names, the one who was the speaker of the two,

more outgoing and friendly said,

“My name is Hudson and he is Shane, we went to high school

and have also gone to the JVS. (This is shortened version of

Joint Vocational School, where high school students learn

a variety of skills.)”

 

I told him, “I paint children’s names but have only painted one

‘Hudson’ for the past thirty years and never painted a ‘Shane.'”

 

Shane perked up in the back, looked at my eyes on him through

the rear view mirror. He told me that it was taken as a nickname,

from a movie his grandmother liked, that his real name was

Richard and that Hudson was really named William.

 

I told him I loved the movie, “Shane,” had he seen it?

 

Shane told me he had more than three times watched it with

his grandparents and had made his friend Hudson watch it, too.

 

When I told William that his name was really a nice one and

that Kate and William are making their royal rounds in the

world. Why didn’t he stick with this name? He responded by

saying he ‘hated’ to be called, “Billy” or “Willy.”

 

I told him Will Smith was a cool guy and he carries his name

well.

When I asked what jobs they were going to work in or what

were their hopes for the future, William/Hudson told me he

had learned to cook at JVS and that Richard/Shane had taken

computer classes and was having a hard time finding a job in

that area.

I told Hudson that my son is a morning kitchen manager and

cook at Son of Thurman and it is a great paying job with a good

work environment setting. Explained how James has been in

wonderful places after he finished JVS, like learning how to

be a ‘sous chef’ under a European, German chef and has been

a kitchen manager for another restaurant, as well as plenty of

other ‘worse’ paying and poorer atmosphere places, too.

 

Hudson exclaimed excitedly,

“I know I have heard of James! He is a friend to one of my

older brothers!”

 

All of a sudden, this was a ride meant to be had. It was one of

the best moments of my week. I am getting teary eyed as I type

this, just thinking if I had said, “No, I don’t give rides to strangers.”

 

When I got into my darkened one bedroom apartment, I turned on

ivory colored decorated warmer of scents that my friend Jenny gave

me for Christmas, switched on  the lights on my little tree with birds

and nests, with red and white calico ties on the branches and gazed

at my dining room table in the living room with the burgundy runner,

burgundy covers on my chairs and the lovely pewter candle sticks, with

three large Valentine’s Day cards and several small ones

from the grandies on the table, suddenly. . .

 

“all was right with the world.”

 

 

 

 

* Musical selections:

Here are a few songs which crossed my mind later.

1. “These Days,” by Foo Fighters.

2. “One of These Days,” sung by Emmylou Harris which

talks about being a woman and finding peace.

3. “One of These Days,”  Tim McGraw’s version is about

being bullied and finishes with such a poignant, touching

line, “some day you’re going to love me.”

4. “One of These Nights,” by the Eagles.

5.”These Days,” sung by Rascal Flatts.

6. “These Days,” performed by Jackson Browne.

7. The way people connect in our small town of

Delaware reminds me of John Mellencamp’s song,

“Small Town.”

 

*Art suggestion:

If you would like to see an adorable drawing of a child

throwing up fallen leaves illustrated by Mary Englebreight,

check out this by writing, “Thank God for Small Favors,”

it comes up with a special picture.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

Mark My Words

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There are so many ways we leave our ‘marks’ upon others’ lives and

upon some small part of the world itself. It may be through your

writing, you have touched someone’s mind and heart. It may be by

your creating a painting, taking a photograph,  preparing a special

food dish, making something old, ‘new’ again for someone or. . .

I found the word, “mark” in the dictionary and would like to share

what meanings it has, along with a few expressions that include

various forms of the word, “mark”in them.

 

The definition for ‘mark’-

noun:

1. A visible trace or impression, (line or spot).

2. A symbol, name or other identifier.

3. A name, logo or other indicator.

 

verb:

1. To mark a visible trace or impression, (spot, line or dent).

2. To form, make or depict by making a mark.

3. To supply with natural markings, (a tiger is marked by stripes.)

 

My favorite use of ‘mark’ is the one I used in the beginning. It means

to contribute to others by making our ‘marks.’ This means leaving

our legacy and how we helped make an impression upon another’s

life. There are many books in the library which are ‘marked’ as either

psychology or philosophy. They contain the current meaning and

suggestions for leading a ‘purposeful life.’

 

I enjoyed a pastime in high school and college, along with many

years of going to my youngest brother and  later in life, my two

daughter’s races. The excitement and anticipation of the races,

builds almost like a ‘frenzy,’ when I picture their putting a foot

into a wooden block to ‘mark’ their place.

 

Then, an announcer says these dramatic words:

“On your mark. . .

Get ready,

Set,

Go!”

There are other races, such as cars, horses and drag racing, where

the word, “Go!” are accompanied by a gun shot given to ‘mark’ the

beginning of the race.

 

I have had many dogs in my life, both female and male, ‘mark’ their

territory. This was especially noticeable with my parents’ male dog,

Nicky, who would do this while we were walking in the woods, once

we ‘disembarked’ from their small RV, (actually a Transvan). Nicky

would like to sniff all the other places animals had been ‘marking’

their own parts of the woods.

 

In concert and symphonic band, our musical teacher and director

would ask us to use a pencil to ‘mark’ our parts. Where I sat, I was

in the woodwinds area, with the clarinet section.

 

Since I was always a ‘second row player’ I needed to ‘mark’ a harmony.

Rarely was I able to ‘mark’ the melody.  In marching band, we would

have to count our steps, playing different marching songs, along with

a few popular songs peppered into the mix. We would find our place

on the field or our ‘mark’ before we would perform or make a pattern.

 

If the truth be told, I rarely played the first two games of the season.

I would march trying to be accurate in the precise places I needed

to be. Finally, in the third football game I would be confident in the

way I marched and could play my clarinet.  Two guys, Armin K. and

Mike C., were the only players who ever commented or noticed. Of

course, I had my clarinet in my mouth and looked like I was playing!

 

A side note, I love details about grandparents, so hope you will

appreciate my Grandpa Mattson who would call my clarinet, a

“licorice stick.” This is a popular slang term which some in other

countries may never have heard! I want to tell you I still have my

wooden Selby clarinet and can ‘wet my reed’ and perform simple

songs and scales.

 

If you have a story about music and remember ‘marking’ your place

or listening to the metronome during piano lessons, please share.

 

The younger Mark Ruffalo, with Jennifer Garner was one of my

youngest daughter’s favorite Mark’s in the film, “13 Going on 30.”

My oldest daughter followed, “New Kids on the Block,” band for

a short ‘minute’ and liked Donnie’s brother, Marky Mark (also his

claim to fame was wearing Calvin Klein jeans. We listened to his

band, “Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s” version of the Beach

Boys’ song, “Good Vibrations.”

 

There are countless other “Mark’s” such as Mark Harmon who

was a ball player, actor in movies and continues to be in “NCIS.”

 

There was “Mark Anthony,” who Shakespeare focused on, as

well as his being a part of history.

 

Our great American author, Mark Twain left his ‘mark’ upon our

country’s literature. He shared remarkable stories of life upon the

Mississippi and going out West. His wry perspectives of the times

he lived in, along with honest character portrayals made a ‘mark’

upon my thoughts and writing, too.

 

I am sure you can think of other famous Mark’s to add. . .

 

There are many who enjoy the dramatic colors and designs of a

young teenager’s graffiti.  They leave their own distinctive ‘mark’

under bridges, overpasses and other cement or brick walls. I don’t

mind graffiti, as long as it is not upon a historical monument, in

a cemetery where respect should be displayed or designations of

being a member of a  ‘Gang.’

 

I enjoy when my grandchildren take colored chalk and leave their

less than permanent ‘marks’ on sidewalks and the driveway. They

may ‘mark’ their place while playing hopscotch, by putting a rock

down on a square.

 

I did not see this in the definition but do think that ‘marking time’

can be a little like ‘sitting a spell.’ It could include putting slash

‘marks’ on a piece of paper, wall or even ‘marked’ by etching into

a stone wall. The ‘marks’ in prison or concentration camps can

make me weep.

 

When I buy a paperback book at a garage sale or the library

book sale, I don’t ‘value’ some of them as I should. If it is one

of those ‘beach’ or summer reading books, I may ‘mark’ my

page I left off reading by bending back a corner of the page.

Are you guilty of this ‘bad habit?’

 

In our ‘defense,’ sometimes it is easier than getting up to

find a piece of paper or a classy bookmark.

 

Book ‘marks’ can be such lovely decorative gifts. I have my

favorites in my ‘good’ books, which hold or ‘mark’ a special

passage I will read and re-read again. I have a silky one,

a cross-stitched bookmark, a metal one with a pearl-like

decoration and I have one which is in the shape of a paper

clip with a butterfly on the tip.

 

I have marked many passages in my Bible, since I received

it upon my high school graduation. The book has ‘marks’ and

underlined places. Tucked into the pages, there are several

pieces of paper with scribbles made by my children during

church.

 

One is quite funny, a ‘bunny ballerina’ by my oldest daughter

when she was 4 years old. The other is quite serious, drawn

carefully by my youngest daughter at around 8 years old of

Jesus on the Cross.

 

Although it is a name and therefore capitalized, I do like another

part of the Bible, which is in the New Testament which goes like

this: “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.”

 

I have to close this multiple usages of the word, “mark”

with something I really enjoy.

 

Are

you

ready

for

the

BEST

use

of

‘mark?’

 

I absolutely love going to a store where it has many large signs

after the ending of each season.

These all say, “Mark Down Prices.”

I like the neon yellow, neon orange and even neon green signs

found in different departments.

 

Now, even better than the ‘Markdowns’. . .

are the ‘Slashing Prices!’

 

 

Celebrating with Buckeyes

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I could ‘subtitle’ this post: “Partying with the Younger Crowd.” We

were going to a big Sugar Bowl party.  I was excited to be included

by my youngest daughter. I would be rooting for Ohio State Buckeyes

to beat the Alabama Crimson Tide. Both my brother and my friend

who works at the Columbus Dispatch at the Sports Desk felt we had

little chance of winning but both texted me frequently over the eve.

 

I was the D.D. for the after New Year’s Eve party celebration in the

basement of a fun, pizza serving bar called “Zeno’s.” My youngest

daughter and I were coming off a high from just having watched a

finely written and acted movie called, “The Imitation Game.”

 

We had followed my junk food movie snacks up with a stop at Ruby

Tuesdays for a nice, healthy salad bar.  She is one of the healthy,

gluten-free, fresh ingredients, low sugar, group of smoothie-drinking

vegetarians who sometimes include fish or eggs in their diets.

 

We found first rate Columbus parking, in a No Towing area. Unlike a

late arrival friend who had to literally walk a mile to the bar!  (Later,

we drove her back and discovered she was not kidding!) We waded

through the first packed floor of varied ages. I noticed there were a

couple of men I would have to stop with me and flirt with them. We

sallied forth to our destination. There were only a handful of fellow

workers from the restaurant. I was the one who spotted the string of

white Christmas lights and plugged them in, I checked out the three

steps in the women’s bathroom, leading upward from the sink to sit

on a ‘throne.’ When I later reported this bizarre restroom, I was told

by a tall, lanky man that the same situation is set up in the men’s

room.  He had me imagine men stooping down to not hit their heads

on the short ceiling level. Standing up has its down sides, at times.

 

I ordered a seltzer water with a slice of lime in it from Jessie, a

patient barkeep. We were amidst the fellow servers of an upscale

restaurant, where they had all worked New Year’s Eve. Their one day

off having planned and gathered extra money to reserved their own

‘place under the sun’ or ‘spot under the rafters’ of a stomping and

exuberant crowd of Buckeyes upstairs. We became more excited as

our numbers increased. I like to develop characters and watch other

people so here are some of my impressions of the young people.

 

There was one older woman who had had no children and was their

appointed “Mother Hen” named Mary Beth. There was a man in his

forties with a nice head of hair, a Steve Martin look-alike. Barry stayed

involved in the Beer Pong activities, writing competitors’ names and

scores on a paper taped to the painted cinder block wall.

 

Here is a list of real names, inspired by Famous People:

1. Mariah- She is wispy and sweet, telling people about their ‘aura’s’

and their ‘spirits.’ Wait for the most unlikely love story to be shared

by her and a man named, Grant. Mariah says the surprise ending was

more on her part, than his. They have plans to marry next year, 2016.

 

2. Whitney- She is a petite, blonde young girl who is also matched with

an equally unlikely man who is possibly the polar opposite of her.

She is so open and forthcoming, hugging me immediately upon being

introduced by youngest daughter. Whitney is a server who brought the

next party-goer who sounds like he walked out of a soap opera. . .

 

Chance- This thirty year old man is tall, has his head shaved close in

a nice way like a service man. He looks like he belongs in a computer

lab. He was quiet and polite, his conversation and stationary stance

unusual amongst the sports fans. In over four hours, he spent barely

moving except to jump up and down for joy at any progress the Bucks

were able to make. He stood still and tall, his shoulders slim and his

waist narrow, hands in his pockets. He probably is composing a musical

or writing a book in his head. I was unable to break his ‘code of silence.’

Imagine this, who can get almost anyone to blab their life’s secrets.

 

4. Gabriella (aka “Gabby”)- Dark wavy hair, engaged with the ‘boys’ in

Beer Pong, winning at least two rounds. She was bubbly and warm,

hugging many people in the room. She appeared like a soccer player

in her build and like several of my daughter’s outgoing friends.

 

5. Grant- He shared a funny love story which melted my heart. I sure

do love men who are open and not guarded. He did describe himself

as a ‘geek’ or a ‘nerd’ in high school. I shared about my Science Club

group and my view of being rather ‘nerdy,’ too. He has thick wavy hair,

was wearing a sweater. Not the typical red or gray OSU t-shirt party-goer.

 

 

Now, for the Exotic Names:

1. Yonida- born and raised through her toddler years in Albania, she is

very “American” in her word phrasings and her appearance. She is a

close friend of my youngest daughter, the two of them meeting at a

Fourth of July (2014) party. Although Yonida works at another upscale

restaurant, everyone in this crowded basement with the big screen t.v.

and one woman bartender bar had invited a few extras. Yonida liked

the idea of my getting them in the tunnel, Whitney, Yonida and Felicia,

to take a picture. Since the hallway was brick with wooden paneling

and held a few photos of OSU greats, including Woody Hayes.

So, as most young people do, they decided to ‘look tough’ and pose in

this rugged setting. It is the hall directly under the Zeno’s bar.

 

2. Jose- The older bus ‘boy’ who helps the waitstaff by clearing tables

and makes jokes that get the servers rolling. I think it is the Spanish

accent, we had a long and convoluted conversation with my usage of

Spanish phrases interspersed with English. How do you say, “party?”

Fiesta!

 

3. Zeke (Ezekial) came from New York, learned from one of the best,

(the upscale restaurant’s owner of several unique and individual

restaurants) how to be a hand-crafted, fresh-flavored Chef. He reminded

me of my son, the one who cooks for Son of Thurman, here in Delaware.

Zeke admitted to two of Felicia’s friends and to me, “I have a crush on

your daughter.” He is not Italian or Greek but has the dark, brooding

look and is actually Jewish in descent, but not in practice.

 

4. Jade- She does not want to be a server forever, she proclaimed this

as soon as we started chatting. She is a petite, long-haired sensitive

young woman who thinks she wants to be a teacher someday. She has

two years of art college and has a Yoga Instructor license. She is one who

admires my youngest daughter’s business acumen and wished she had

completed her art college. She will go back and get a Bachelor’s degree,

she says in teaching Art. I believe in her, I can see the potential of her

truly making her ‘mark’ in the world. I told her there are many children

who need art, since it is one of the most fun places to be, especially those

who don’t ‘test’ well or are floundering in their reading skills. She told me

that she is worried (as so many of my fellow bloggers are) at the way that

schools take funding away from worthy projects and subjects such as Art,

Music and Gymnastics. Literature is not always valued as it should be.

You can tell, I spent a lot of time talking to Jade! She was an ‘old soul.’

 

Love Story:

“First Impressions Mix-Up”

 

Grant led with the simple truth of, “I guess you must believe in the fact

that people should not judge a book by its cover.” He went on to say that

Mariah seemed very confident, ‘clique-ish’ and ‘snobby.’ Grant gave me

what he considered a ‘valid’ example,

“I sat beside her one entire day of orientation and she did not even turn

her head in my direction. Not even once.”

 

Grant told me, when I told him I had a smart, funny son who sometimes

was like him. I mentioned that Jamie is quiet until you get to know him.

This helped Grant to open up more to say,

“I guess it is true, we sometimes ‘carry a chip on our shoulders,’ maybe

due to actions of others, that remind us of someone from our past. I

was predicting and stereotyping since she is ‘drop dead gorgeous.'”

“Mariah seemed to look right through me,” was another response,

he shared with me.

 

Before I share how these two got together, I will contrast Mariah’s image

of Grant. Mariah felt he was,  “stuck on himself” and “almost arrogant.”

She does not remember ever sitting next to him at orientation. She is a

little embarrassed to be asked about her memory of their restaurant

orientation. It is part of what people ask her now that they are engaged.

She admits, she may have been ‘distracted,’ since she was ‘getting over

someone else.’

 

Mariah is an out-going young attractive woman, who may have intimidated

Grant. Grant is also a nice looking young man who is very intelligent but may

have a negative self image.

 

It was funny since Grant also exuded confidence and was polite as to call me,

“Miss Robin,” along with calling the other older server, “Miss Mary Beth.”

 

So, here is the hilarious and simple way the two young people found each

other as told by Mariah:

“Three months after we had worked together, Grant was standing by the

coffee station, cleaning all of its parts in boiling water. It was the end of the

shift, I approached Grant and said verbatim,

“Hey Grant, do you want to come to our rolling party in the PDR?”

 

“Grant stopped what he was doing, looked at me intensely (Mariah still talking)

and said,

‘Did you say ‘robot party’ because I am IN!!  And where is the PDR?'”

 

Mariah rolls her eyes, glancing at Grant who is talking to Zeke.

“Honestly, how can a man work as a server for OVER Three Months

and not know about rolling silverware or the Private Dining Room? I

was just using a fun tone trying to get him back there to join us in

rolling silverware!!”

 

Grant told me his version,

“So, I am already cleaning an area, while the girls are supposed to be

rolling silverware, and Mariah asks me to a party. What was I supposed

to think? I got excited, maybe she was into science fiction and would be

having a robot party. I was serious. No, I had no clue about when they

go into the Private Dining Room their abbreviated way of saying this. Nor

did I know about their calling this process,  a ‘party.'”

 

Grant felt she was so friendly and cute, standing there that he went

back to the PDR and sat right next to her, asked her several questions

about where she grew up and her high school, this helped finally to

‘melt the ice’ between them. They fell for each other after that.

 

Mariah saw him as a very articulate and interesting man, someone

who would be a nice change from the athletic guys. She felt ‘bossed

her around’ and were ‘very pushy’ in their personal behavior. She

finished the story with her own warm summary to me,

 

“It’s a shame because we lost three months to spend time together.

But, for me (Mariah), the lessons are:

‘Everyone has an interesting potential,’ and ‘Don’t be closed to

opportunities to connect.'”

The end or beginning of Grant and Mariah’s Love Story.

 

The end of my well spent four and a half hours can be summed up as

having been engaged in lively discourse and rowdy team spirit. I had

eaten six (or 8?) wings, half were medium hot wings and half were

pineapple teriyaki.

A young man, not named above, had a few so I lost count of my basket

numbers.

I had a few sips of my youngest daughter’s mixed drink, but had a 2nd

water with lime and hydrated. It was surprisingly hot in the basement.

Some were playing beer pong, some were swearing, others were shouting

in their excitement (we won by a very close score) and when a manager

stood by me, I exclaimed,

“You have an incredible work group gathered here, this shows such a

great team spirit. I get the feeling you all become ‘family’ and a lot has

to do with the leadership, an equal amount has to do with such amazing

people you chose to be employees.”

He smiled and nodded. Then Greg said,

“The corporation is run by someone who worked his own way up through

the ranks. He is very encouraging of self-growth and hopes everyone will

find their own paths.”

 

I hope you had a fantastic New Year’s Eve! The sports ‘after party’ was

a great outing. I enjoyed the time with family, friends and Mom this year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bidding Adieux to the Old Year

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As we bid ‘adieux’ to the Old Year, 2014, we may reflect on this past

year and see some great things happened in the world, along with

our personal lives. This post won’t dwell on the many negative news

items that took place across the world. My recent conversation I had

with my good friend, Patrice, where we discussed the economy was

full of hope. She is a moderate Republican but found Pres. Obama

has “helped the economy,” citing some personal ways it improved.

Especially for the businesses of her family, who saw an upswing in

purchasing pizzas at her brother in law’s pizza chain, along with her

sister’s Castle Farms in Charlevoix, Michigan having much continued

success. Pat shared good news with her family’s investments in stocks

and bonds, showing profitable and significant increases. The U.S. stock

exchange and business world has not been this secure since Clinton’s

administration. (This can be confirmed in the business pages of the

New York Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer and Columbus Dispatch.)

 

I don’t really wish to quote statistics, just the positive slow, gradual

upswing in the economy as something good to report.

 

While talking with members of our warehouse, several mentioned

the Obamacare (health care and insurance) situation seems to have

‘finally straightened out.’

 

While talking with my artistic brother, Randy, we were on the ‘same

page’ thinking that the renewal of ties with Cuba is a positive way to

bring trade. Also, influencing the political climate of country south of

us, which we have had past problems with. Hoping this will lead to a

better future connection. While this may be ‘common knowledge’ I

found the fact the leader of Cuba is one who has chosen to lead a ‘gay

lifestyle’ hopeful,  since this may mean that there will be less civil unrest

and hateful reactions to people of different life choices.

 

It also seems to reflect a ‘gentler’ means of controlling his country, less

than we had from Fidel Castro. Back in 1963, Fidel Castro had made

quite a mean statement about Cuba’s gay community and their ‘tight

pants’ and wishing to display ‘girlie’ acts in public. Since 2012, there

have been annual Cuban “Kiss-In’s” which is the gay community’s way

of standing up to the controlling leadership in a non-violent way. Even

getting a positive ‘nod’ from the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro,

for the United States reaching out to Cuba with an olive branch.

This was all compiled by myself: having attempted to confirm various

sources of information.

 

I will hope Fidel’s brother, President Raul Castro, will help lead his

country from communism into socialism. They may label themselves

‘socialistic,’ but the cruel army regime exists there still. I can ‘dream’

of Cuba’s someday becoming a Democratic country, where people’s

votes will be counted.

 

It is totally fine with me, if this positive outlook is challenged with

big doses of reality. I am “open for debate” in my comments section!

 

Thomas Kinkade, 2001:

“I believe that adding light to the canvas of our daily existence is a

simpler process than we often make it out to be. I believe it really is

possible to think and act in ways that shine more radiant joy in our

lives and the lives of those around us.”

 

From my old Children’s Anthology, which featured ‘brownies’ who are

like little sprites in the night:

“In January, when the snow

Lies on the hills and valleys low

And from the north the chilly breeze

Comes whistling through the naked trees

Upon toboggans long they ride,

Until the broadening light of day

Compels them all to quiet their play.”

(Written and Illustrated by Palmer Cox.)

 

My post-Christmas special memories of this year, 2014:

*~ I loved having my Mom be happy and healthy in body

and spirit. She was entranced by the Elf doll which was

a bright and cute girl, with red ‘velvet’ skirt with white

trim, with green and white striped hose and red pointy

shoes, with bells on each toe. She exclaimed each time

she spied it up on the edge of a rocking chair back.

*~ I found the most giving souls were the two six year old

Kindergarteners, among my grandies.

Little Marley could not open her gift before I opened her

purchase of a white painted sleigh bell with its top hat and

cheery face, making it a cute little snowman ornament.

Marley slipped a bracelet into my coat pocket, which she

had made from a craft kit given to her by Santa. I did not

‘discover’ this string of red, black, pink and yellow stars until

I got home, putting my mittens back into my pockets.

 

Micah had used his Secret Santa school “pocket savings”

from his home piggy bank to purchase a wide variety of

little dollar gifts. Mine was a head band which had a pair

of reindeers on the ‘antennae.’ This was the first time I had

seen this head adornment; usually the two ‘antennae’ are

antlers! I wore it proudly around to both families’ Christmas

events. I also had two children request a photo taken with

them on. Quite a thoughtful and fun gift, Micah!

 

The ‘true spirit’ of giving was in both these little ones’ hearts.

 

Do you have any thoughts about the political climate or post-

holiday memories you wish to share?

 

Joyful, Cheery Sounds

Standard

On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my

windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once

again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming

out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery

songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was

using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s

all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”

The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by

Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.

 

While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and

the door opening on London Road,  to admit busy and excited

high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in

my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of

the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school

bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the

longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to

wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing

out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching

and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack.  That is how I

would describe the repetition of the sound.

 

Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some

who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my

own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses

had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half

day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.

This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!

 

At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda

Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way

it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has

been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s

Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on

Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into

her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl

Ives.

I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were

talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal

favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the

holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along

with some coworkers’ suggestions:

SONGS:

1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the

words,

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,

Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)

 

2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”

which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.

 

3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This

makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who

may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s

USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers

me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the

USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some

military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot

of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would

wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”

Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be

entertaining the troops:

Dec. 7-16, 2014:  Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys

Cheerleaders.

Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base,  Oklahoma.

Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Jan. 3 – 9, 2015:  Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.

(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope

and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)

 

3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I

Hear?”

(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but

I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )

Here is a bit of the history of the song:  It was written in 1962, by a

married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets

of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have

heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile

Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.

The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by

his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.

 

4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which

begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,

with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam

War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and

what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.

(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)

When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic

Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir

were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was

called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’

looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,

included on it.

This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on

December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.

*This is one of my own personal favorites.

 

5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written

in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.

*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.

 

6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is

Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was

written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented

for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was

also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this

version on the stereo and radio.

*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’

 

7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs

in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by

Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time.  This hymn was written

by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,

Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his

moving words.

Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:

Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who

died in Connecticut.

Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of

the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.

Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.

The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in

1987.

Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.

Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple

and beautifully done.

Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in

2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”

 

Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,

since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he

was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She

likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”

Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a

short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s

fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way

we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who

cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of

President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,

“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her

grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both

a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year

old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student

will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes

comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and

had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family

ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.

 

Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own

memories:

1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they

fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.

2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs

on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.

3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast

is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get

the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.

4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,

announcing the arrival of guests.

5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying

to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture

to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one

day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with

the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”

Trust me on this.

6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,

“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping

noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.

7. Hearty yells.  Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other

across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you

running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).

8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The

sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.

9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem

to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the

early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)

10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now

on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of

loved ones (grandparents) far away.

 

Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us

know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?

You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .