No Man’s Land

Cheshire_Regiment_trench_Somme_1916

I read somewhere recently that you are to write what your readers want to read. Further, they noted that if you do not, then you might be the only one reading your blog. But, who out there knows that I love World War II history? I said all of that to say, because of this WWII thing, you have to know that if at any time I learn any new information, or find a new show on television I have to share. Well….did I ever find a new series. It’s on the History Channel entitled “World Wars,” have you seen it? Since I just found it, I have to play “catch up.” Last Sunday, I watched the first episode which began with WWI in 1914. Were you aware that although many countries were to blame for beginning this war, Germany too, played a part. What I learned in this show, and the fact I need to share set my head spinning. Of course, this is concerning the most infamous monster of the early twentieth century, Adolph Hitler. Unfortunately, I do believe this had to serve as the very first incident that proved providence in this fiend’s mind.

Have you heard the name Henry Tandey? I had not, because I’ve never watched, or read anything really with regard to WWI. I did read A Farewell to Arms, but that had nothing to do with history. This Ernest Hemingway story simply involved a love affair, with WWI as a backdrop. Moving on, Mr. Tandey served as a foot soldier in a British regiment, and received a Distinguished Conduct Medal, and a Victoria Cross for his service. I sat, mouth agape as I listened to the happening involving Hitler and Tandey. Hitler, in case you didn’t know served as a messenger during this war; having to run notes, and orders, or what have you to the different stations in an elaborate labyrinth of trenches. These ditches served as sleeping, and eating quarters for the soldiers – foreign as well as for the allies. The grounds up above, and between the two canals were called “No Man’s Land.” Hitler moving through No Man’s Land carrying a message, runs into Henry Tandey. Henry had his rifle aimed, and from what I understand, Hitler never raised his gun. After a few seconds, what did Henry do? He lowered his rifle, allowing every future event we know of, fruition. The historian explaining the event said, “Imagine how history would have been changed if he (Henry) had only pulled the trigger.

Then, my brain began running all of the different scenarios on just how everything would have been different, and wondering what he thought later on once the atrocities began. Think about it. I would love to know if there were any journals, or letters belonging to Henry putting his emotions to paper. I have to say, put yourself in his position. Would you get to a point where you couldn’t even turn your head to peek as you walked by the mirror? Would you have this conversation with yourself on a daily basis,

“Could I have prevented this? Why didn’t I pull that trigger? But, how could I have known? What made me spare his life? Could it have been divine providence? But, how could a direction of human affairs by God involve such violence?”

Unfortunately, none of us will ever know, and I must say – I am very happy I never had to live with something of this magnitude on my conscience. Can you imagine? But, as I think more about it, could Henry have not known? At first I thought there may have been the possibility he didn’t connect any of this. But, it had to be him that informed someone – yes? So, he had to have known. Which takes me back to my original observation. In some way, I would have almost experienced guilt as though I had a small part in all this, wouldn’t you think? Like the driver of the trains, almost. All I can add here is the old adage, “Sorry it was you Henry, but glad it wasn’t me.” Any thoughts?

Info courtesy of History Channel, Wikipedia & Amazon

Cursive Threatened to Become Hieroglyphic

12488847_sI heard this question asked of someone the other day, which made me shake my head back and forth. Then, when I did the research for this piece, I wagged my head even more. Back in 2011 there had been much talk of cutting cursive writing from the curriculum by many school districts. We older people may have the biggest problem with this, since we couldn’t pass from one class to another without the knowledge of said art. Although, in speaking to a sixteen year old, she also finds this ridiculous, since she mandatorily had to be able to write before she could be promoted. But, I’m left asking, will the absence of this teaching turn our young people into the new pioneers? Having to sign documents with a simple “X.” I still have that special note paper tucked away that I’d use on occasion to drop a friend a note; just to let them know I had them on my mind.

I read of two young people having difficulty reading a journal belonging to their deceased grandmother. One of them said, “It was kind of cryptic,” and they had to decipher it by reading the passages back and forth between each other. A Director from the University of Central Arkansas taught a class last summer. He asked the students in that particular class to raise their hands if they wrote in cursive. No one did. The two students with the deceased grandmother were a part of this class. Have we gone that far in the future where a simple found note to someone’s friend, has become like hieroglyphics on a stone wall? A few weeks ago, I asked a question in a tweet, and I also posted it to facebook. My question – Who kept a journal? Not surprising, most who responded in the affirmative, were my writing buddies. Yes, I know, when you’re driving, and you have a thought, you can speak it into your devices nowadays, but journaling my thoughts, fears, and aspirations by typing on some computer screen, is definitely unnatural for this writer.

I have one reader who homeschools her children; Marilla Zerbert of RillaWriter. Depending on which state you live, there is a part of the school program you are required to follow. However, there is also a rule exempting a family from this. I know of the law, because the attorney I now work with helped write it. I don’t want to be labeled as “old” because of my thinking, but aren’t there some things that are seriously mandatory? Uh…I don’t know…’reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic? How can a society believe there is no need for, or see cursive writing as archaic? I would also think the art would assist in the development of fine motor skills, wouldn’t you think?

I don’t have any young people around constantly, any longer. Therefore, all I know is basically, from what I catch on t.v. But, honestly, I might lose my mind if I had a youngster around, and they were always on their phone. Yes, that alone would probably label me as ancient. As a parent, I say you really need to draw a line. Now, throw texting in the mix, together with e-mailing, and all personal interactions have been removed. We all e-mail. I will honestly admit – it has made life so much easier. But, again, it’s about drawing a line. However, I don’t believe we should trade cursive for texting, or swap hand written signatures for electronic ones, making that the norm. Can a nation be in that big of a hurry? I’d like to think of it this way. The citizens of other countries speak their own native tongue, as well as English, which I believe gives them a bit of an edge. Once the art of cursive writing is removed from the school curriculum here, that will simply be another “minus” for our future leaders, don’t you think? Share your opinion, won’t you?

Information from PBS Newshour & The NY Times

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

Mr. Smith Goes to LaGuardia

22874302_sBefore I got married, like most of us, I dated men from varying professions: a paratrooper, stock broker, a musician. As a young person I had a voracious appetite for tennis. In fact a friend and I would, now I say this shamefully, but we’d play hooky from work just to spend time on the court. One day on the wall, as I practiced my serve, this extremely handsome young man walked over to offer his assistance. Of course, I allowed him to help. That is, I gave him the illusion I needed help, even though I truly did not. Also, if you’ve been reading along over these three years, you know me as a woman of discernment, and to have very little tolerance for pick-up lines. In any event, our morning at that wall turned into something that had to end sooner than not. Let me preface this story with a short admission. As a child, teenager, and young woman, I had a terrible – almost psychotic fear of the dead. So, when I say the relationship ended to soon – his profession as a funeral director certainly took care of that.

On one visit to my home, while on a break from work, he sat on the sofa in the living room, while I went to the kitchen to get him a beverage. When I reached the doorway of the next room, I stopped to answer a question he asked. As I turned, there he sat in his black suit, white shirt and black tie with his arms outstretched, appearing almost as some sort of dark character from a horror film. Personally, that particular gesture may have been the finger that set the brevity clock on this friendship. Not long after, is when it all fell apart. When this specific incident, of which I speak took place, I had been alone the entire week – my mother had taken time to visit her mother. I answered the door, and there he stood.

“I have to make a run to LaGuardia Airport. Would you like to go with me?” he asked.

“Sure, just let me get a jacket and my purse,” I responded.

Now, I never asked about a vehicle – I didn’t even lift my head to focus my view to the street where he parked. He waited on the porch as I gathered my things. I closed the door to the house, and took time to lock it.

Afterward, I made my way down the steps, while he walked a bit ahead of me. He then, opened the door to the vehicle. A low, dim light caught my attention, and made me suddenly aware. The light reminded me of a small, faint porch light. Once I focused, the entire picture came into view. There, parked right in front of my house; a station wagon – the one they use to transport bodies. The soft lighting adorned the side doors, the space under the dash and the back area of the car. Although the blinds were closed, Mr. Whomever flashed a corner of his covering, just enough to let me know he occupied that spot. What did I do? I didn’t have to think, my brain acted apart from my body. It involuntarily eased me backward. In my mind’s eye, the whole thing plays out as if it were yesterday.

“What’s the matter. I only have to take Mr. Smith to LaGuardia,” he said. “I was sure you’d want to take a ride with me.”

I could not speak. I guess because my brain had been to pre-occupied with getting out of harm’s way. Before I knew it, I had made it all the way back to the porch.

“So what, you’re not going?” he asked, sounding irritated.

“Uh, no I’m not,” I answered, finally able to form a sentence.

“Fine,” he snipped. He slammed the door closed, and marched around to the driver’s side without another word.

I stood there in complete disbelief, unable to comprehend what had just happened, as he drove off. Did our involvement change after that? You bet your sweet petuddy. When my mother returned home, I told her of the evening. As insightful as all mothers are, mine explained, that little production had been purposeful. He wanted to get a glimpse of my reaction. This way I guess he’d know if he wanted to move this whatever we were in, to the next level. But, I’m left asking – who’d he ask for advice, the Grim Reaper himself? And, it’s the same old question all over again. How many frogs do you have to kiss before you get to the Prince, right?

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

In Sickness and in Health

2522105_sLast week I read an article, I don’t remember where, on the difficulty of caring for an ill spouse, which set my mind wandering as usual. Funny, because the very next day I noticed another article on the exact same issue. This second piece offered research information, which indicated it is more difficult to care for a spouse than a parent. Basically, because the spouse does what nurses usually do such as bathing, and administering medication. Nowadays, finances do not allow for these luxuries. Hubby thinks this piece is dark and depressing, and that may very well be, but in reality this is what happens. So, let’s begin at the beginning. You’re a young couple, 25 and 29 or 24 and 26 – that age where you believe you probably won’t even be around at the age of 50 – that’s just how far in the future you believe that number to be. The two of you are pretty familiar with the medical history of each family, but hey, at 26 you are both invincible.

Together you do everything needed to put on a wedding; paper work, blood tests, reception venues. When you stand beside each other, and repeat those vows – for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health – you understand them, the words come from the heart, you don’t even stutter when they come across your lips. However, again, that is the indestructibility of the age; the strength of you two as a couple. We would be labeled unstable if we stood there peering that far into the future, am I right? I don’t think there is anyone who has gotten married, and while standing before the minister/priest confess to thinking of gray hair, osteoporosis, and heart disease. Or, let’s just say, I don’t think anyone would admit to that. To paint a clearer picture, I remember being a young newlywed. I can’t recall what hubby and I were discussing, but he mentioned something to the effect, “You know, when I pass away. None of us are gonna live forever.” Well, can I just say how that comment upset me. But, we all grow up and mature in the process, yes?

I would liken it to a child who has been away from home for a while, or even at three-month clips. Each time he/she visits they notice the aging parent. As a couple, every once and again, when you walk by the mirror you’re halted in your steps. You wonder who that is gazing back. Your brain still thinks; continues to sum up scenarios the same as it did when you were 30, but in some shocking and accelerated means the body has not remained behind with that still young brain. Yes, most mornings, you go through the ritual – brush your teeth, shower, wash your hair, powder, lotion, what have you, and get on your way. However, every now and again, maybe once a month, that not so young person hiding behind the 30-year-old brain runs into, and has to acknowledge the seasoned body. And, can I just say, it’s like being smacked in the face by a three hundred pound Sumo wrestler.

With all of this in mind, no one is privy to which body will begin to fall apart first – you each just go about your day-to-day chores. My co-worker told me a heartbreaking story of a senior, in his eighties belonging to her church. One Sunday, after service, he broke down sobbing in a back room. He had a wife with dementia, and he had been the sole caregiver. Unfortunately, this poor gentlemen had reached his end, and just had to let it all out – for better, for worse…..in sickness and in health, remember? Where am I going with this story? Couples get married everyday. They begin their lives together, but no one is able or thinks or cares to peer that far into the future. Whatever life hands out, you have to take. Once the medical issues begin, no one gets divorced or runs away, because they’re afraid of what may happen next. You “buck up” and deal with it all, no matter how minuscule or how serious. Usually, by this time, you’ve been married so many years, one cannot think of life without the other. What made me want to expand on this topic? Because, like most of my friends, we are right around the corner from this situation, and I do not know if I’m ready. But, as I said before we all have to take what life hands out. What is it that I believe works best in all of this? An attitude of positivity.

Photo courtesy of 123rf.com

Memorial Day 2014

f02b5943e8bd6bf0b0ae8cb01dfbf543[1]It’s the unofficial beginning of the summer season. We will all make our way to our back yards this weekend to fire up the grill that has been waiting for our attention since, at least, October or November of last year. However, as we do, let’s all take a moment to remember the deceased Americans who fought in the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Marines. Over these three days, we attend memorials, parades, and some volunteer to place flags on graves in cemeteries, even at Arlington National; all as a way of saying, we didn’t forget. We mourn the loss of these great men and women, but let us pray for the left behind loved ones. Let us follow the proclamation of our President who has asked every American to use May 26, 2014, as a day of prayer for permanent peace. He has also asked that we observe the National Moment of Remembrance beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time today.

If you have a flag, begin it at half-mast until Noon, then raise it to full post and fly it high, proclaiming you are a proud American. By way of history, Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. But, since that time, there have been many wars and many more lives lost. I do believe that as long as the earth stands there will unfortunately be wars, even the bible speaks of this: “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars…” Matthew 24:6. Yes, it is a regrettable fact. Therefore, it is up to those of us left to continue speaking the names of the ones lost, and memorialize them. Let us also keep in mind our President’s suggestion, and pray for peace in this land. Wishing you all a safe, and enjoyable holiday.

Information from Wikipedia

 

Cabin by the Lake

2834130_sI’ve been thinking about locating some far off place, or a spot as the old folk use to say, “Up the road a piece,” where a writer could take her or himself to settle in, completely alone. Personally, I have never been on my own in life, so I don’t know what that’s like. Does your muse need isolation and total quiet before she gives of herself? I’m remembering a writing clinic back in 2008, I think, where the group spent a weekend in a secluded getaway in hopes of prodding these goddesses. There are many refuges that proffer themselves for this use. Recently, I even found Amtrak offering some type of writer escapes on the train. Crazy right? Does it mean you’re more serious about your craft, if you crave seclusion? Again, I don’t know if this type of setting would satisfy my creativity, or simply stifle it.

Speaking of muses, as a teenager and in my early twenties, I had a ravaging fascination of Greek Mythology, which spilled further into the arts with that first movie, Clash of the Titans. And yes, even though I left this behind with my youth, I had to watch the new version, just to take a peek at the special effects. Random House Webster’s College Dictionary’s definition of the word muse is: One of the nine Greek goddesses, daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who presided over the arts. There names were as follows: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyric poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (religious music), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy). These idols have also been labeled as water nymphs. What impressions the Romans left on civilization that hundreds and hundreds of years later we continue to speak of, and many still rely on their teachings, huh?

Moving on – would I have the chutzpah to give up everything I know, and move off to some nearly deserted area to write? As much as I love the art, and even though I’ve done it since childhood…”Aaaahhh, I’m not sure,” she said, shaking her head back and forth. If you watch the movie Cross Creek, supposedly on the life of Marjorie Rawlings, or Funny Farm, which is a comedy, but Chevy Chase is still in search of remoteness, it makes one wonder. Some time ago, I do believe there were even ads in the New York Times Magazine under the heading “Writing Retreats.” They listed hideaways a person could rent over an extended period of time – a place tucked away beneath the trees, next to a lake, or a cabin in the middle of the forest. Or, would you call this simply idealism? You get out there, and not one word would come to mind. Why? Because your muse requires the noise from the elevated train. In my case, however, I’d be afraid of being alone. I’d have to drive myself to the nearest general store everyday, just for human contact.

Not to mention, I’ve never been one for off hours. You know, write until 3:00 a.m., sleep until 11:00 a.m., or rest in four-hour clips, and work in between those times. I’ve always been regimented when it comes to any labor – begin in the morning – work all day, and the evening and night hours are mine to do with as I please. If you follow my blog, you know I love to listen to music as I write. I guess I could connect my iPod to some top shelf sound system; one that rushed the loons to flight the moment I hit play. I know though, that is the perfect condition for me. But, as I put it all together, and knowing myself – my ideal conditions would have to include the cabin by the lake, or at the beach. It also, could not be that far from civilization, because to keep my sanity, I would definitely have to have my family return to me at the end of the day. Do you think solitude would step up your creativity?

Information provided by Amtrak, CNN, IMDB & Wikipedia

Image courtesy of 123rf.com

#Bring Back Our Girls

19101653_sWhen this story broke I had no intention of writing about it, because it had too many heavy political overtones. However, over the past few days, all of this has reached a new light, even hitting the White House. First Lady Michelle Obama, many actresses, news people and others have stormed twitter with #BringBackOurGirls, as well as other social media avenues. All of this definitely gave me the “green light” to comment on the issue. Will doing so make a difference? Singly, as one person, I don’t believe so, but as a whole – maybe. I say America is way overdue in becoming involved, and to speak out with regard to incidents taking place on the continent of Africa. When it comes to the abduction of over 200 young women it is time for the world to play a part. So, even if in some small way this post raises just one person’s consciousness, then I have done my part.

Who is the “Boko Haram?” Your regular everyday person walking the street does not know. Actually, this is the first time I’ve heard of the radical group. Since the breaking news of this event we’ve learned they want stricter enforcement of Sharia law, and we’ve found the name means “Western education is forbidden.” Of course, that is an approximate translation. Certainly, we in the west are well aware of this. According to Bronwyn Bruton, an African scholar at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., in an interview with the New York Times said, “The violence most of the African rebel groups practice makes Al Qaeda look like a bunch of schoolgirls.” Being African-American, understanding my people, and remembering the atrocities of the Rwandan Genocide, none of this surprises me, in the least.

In this country, we proudly send our young women off to college and universities year after year; here it is a right of passage. Also, it is obvious that when boarding schools are mentioned here, an entirely different picture comes to mind – never a scenario such as what we’ve heard about over the last few weeks. Sex slavery is the fastest growing criminal movement in the world. Equality Now, is an organization working for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women and girls around the world. They indicate women and girls make up 98% of the victims trafficked. This problem gained such attention that even Hollywood has made movies addressing the issue. And although, I would be one of the first to complain that America cannot be the World Police, this concern is far too important for any country to, forgive the cliché, “turn a blind eye.” Since this is such an important topic I believe no nation can stand on the sidelines and simply listen, as mothers and fathers plead for the return of their girls.

I’ve learned over time, and I will always be the first to say, change places with the victim; put yourself in the shoes of one of these parents. I cannot imagine the heartbreak and pain of having my daughter abducted, knowing in the back of my mind what could happen. One mother interviewed, undoubtedly had no words, she could only respond with tears. What I fear most, however, is that all of the publicity will give rise to a sense of having more power, which in turn, will cause the group to tighten their grip. As I mentioned earlier, the cries are not only coming from the White House, other politicians are also speaking out. Will the world stand by and continue to watch, and listen only? You will never make me believe there is nothing that can be done to remedy this atrocious act. Let me join the other voices, and cry…please, bring back our girls.

Information courtesy of NY Times & Equality Now

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