Mothers Then and Now

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There’s only so much one can do with a sixty-five year old picture pulled from an old photo album. In this case, I laid it on a meat board where the light would shine on it, took a picture of it with my cell phone, pushed it through to Photo Shop Elements, and cleaned it up a bit.

So who are these smiling people? Who else but mothers in my family being remembered on Mother’s Day. The couple on the left are my grandparents, the couple on the right are my parents, and the beauty in front is my aunt.

So what is a mother? Not a beauty flashing a big smile, which these women are. It’s a little more complex than that.

A mother is a woman sometimes right and sometimes wrong, but someone never meaning to maim with her words or actions. She is motivated by caring and sharing, shifting priorities, and love. She passes out cookies and band aids with a smile, cries when she receives a painted rock for a present, and prepares her child or children for adulthood dreading the day when it arrives. Merely, she is a woman trying to be the best mother she can, and if she falls short of expectations, she gets up and gives it another try. She is not perfect, does not want to be put on a pedestal, and as this picture proves, no matter what she will always be a mother. Now then and forever.’ 

Roses Don’t Grow In Havana

flowersThe cruise ship Adonia, operated by Fathom Travel, a unit of Carnival Corporation, docked in Havana, Cuba on Monday with 704 passengers aboard. At any other seaport anywhere in the world, this would hardly be a newsworthy event. Because the ship had traversed the 90-miles of ocean between Miami and Havana, it was a sight that had not been witnessed in forty years due to the severance of diplomatic ties between the two countries. To those younger than forty, it was a spectacle they had never witnessed, and they gathered at the dock with cell phones to snap pictures of the historic landing.

Because I had previously spent three years in Havana, I was not aboard the Adonia nor did I want to be, but I can tell you this. As Havana is located on the waterfront, it smells like Lake Michigan, and because the water is the Atlantic Ocean, the air is damp and salty. The climate is tropical and muggy, and hurricanes are frequent. Due to these factors, one cannot beg, borrow, steal or buy a rose bush in Havana. Palm trees are everywhere and flowering shrubs that thrive in acidic conditions do well, but alas, no roses. To circumvent this ghastly shortage, I painted  these while in Havana, and put them by the front door least I forgot what a rose looked like.

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Only this left to say. I will never be on that cruise ship because not only do roses not thrive in Havana, it hurt my heart to witness people living without personal freedoms.

Prince: A Case Study In Safety Zones

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Sociology is the study of social behaviors in a society that defines the social norm. Sometimes referred to as Social Studies, I tend to think it’s not currently part of the school curriculum, but has been replaced with sensitivity training, political correctness, the importance of one’s self, and the preservation of  personal safety zones. Simply put, it’s not about acceptable social behavior anymore but about personal entitlements.

A concrete illustration of this was the college students whining on television because someone wrote ‘Trump’ on the sidewalk in chalk, which according to them, violated their peace of mind and the sanctity of their personal safety zones. It is unclear what will happen to those poor disillusioned babes after leaving the shelter of academia, because there are no safety zones in society other than the ones you create for yourself.

Recently the world lost a very talented performer who apparently was gravely ill for quite some time, and suffering intense pain for a variety of reasons. By all accounts, he was surrounded by a circle of staffers and relatives to tend his every need. Therefore, it seems rather strange he died alone on an elevator floor and no one knew until the next day. How can it be that not one person in that circle seemed motivated enough to get him safely to his private quarters, or better yet, take him to the hospital?

Those college students crying about a name written on the sidewalk need pay heed to this lesson because when they stumble and fall, they cannot count on a safety zone to protect them. Inevitably, a whole barrage of people will storm their tent with hands out demanding personal entitlements.

Is this what we have come to as a society; walking over dead bodies to find the mother lode?

Serenity At The Bird Feeder

woodpecker-1186209_960_720They numbered many, and came as pairs to the tree with the feeders; two Woodpeckers, four Blue Jays, and two Cardinals, as in they flew.

Sharing without a leader not knowing about the food, except that it was there, and seemed not to  worry soon it might be gone, but were content to sing and share.

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Showing no indication of haste or fear one might get more. Watching it seemed somewhat sad that multi-colored birds, had learned to sing and share when many people had not.

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Diva of the Silent Screen

Annex%20-%20Johnston,%20Julanne_01SOnly one word adequately describes this beauty, and that word would be diva with a capital ‘D’. This particular beauty was Julanne Johnston born 1900 in Indianapolis, Indiana and died 1988 in  Grosse Pointe, Michigan. She was either interred in her husband’s family plot at Woodlawn Cemetery in Detroit, or cremated and scattered in the rose garden of Chapel of the Pines, Los Angeles, California.  As she is listed in both places, it must be reader discretion to decide which is accurate.

Julanne was an American silent film actress whose most notable role was starring opposite Douglas Fairbanks in ‘Thief of Baghdad’; however, she is best remembered for being on William Randolph Hearst’s yacht during a fated outing in November 1924 when the film director and producer Thomas Ince died of heart failure.

The other thing Julanne is remembered for is that during the zenith of her career, she stepped from a train in Grosse Point, Michigan to meet some friends on her way to New York City, but met the love of her life while there, David W Rust (1899 – 1962), and never left. They had one son, and father and son are definitely interred at Woodlawn Cemetery, Detroit. She took her lovely self to the Detroit Institute of Arts, and did volunteer work.

Why should anyone remember this diva or any other star of the silent screen? Aside from being the vixens they were, these women were trailblazers. In a time before women could vote, they walked away from family farms and cities to make their way to Hollywood in search of stardom. Every now and then, as in this case, they found it.

‘The Thief of Baghdad’ is still available at Amazon.com, and makes for good viewing.

Serving Your Breakfast Table

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Moline, Illinois has been in the News recently because the plane carrying Prince, the entertainer and musician extraordinaire, landed there for a medical emergency. However, Moline is more than a city that represents the beginning of the end for a legendary icon.  

In 1837, it was home to a blacksmith named John Deere who fashioned a Scottish steel saw blade into a steel plow. In the process, he transformed the prairie into the most intense agricultural region of the Midwest. Referred to as the corn belt, this area includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan, western Ohio, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southern Minnesota, and parts of Missouri. Four of those States, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, produce more than half of the corn grown in the United States, and collectively the corn belt produces 40% of the world’s corn crop yearly. John Deere and its administrative center are still located in Moline, Illinois. Annual_catalogue_(16785873531)

This may not be the original Deere steel plow, but this is what it looked like. It was hooked to a farm animal, and for the first time ever the dense prairie soil could be cultivated. Once plowed, seeds were laid, and crops sprang forth. Over the years, the design was modified, tractors came into existence and not just John Deere tractors but all kinds of tractors.

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We bought the above Deere thinking it the greatest thing ever, and wouldn’t you just know it? The farmer who leases our land rolled this monstrosity into our field and begin running around. Such is progress.V

Love On A Rainy Day

boat I worked all day, and I worked all night. I would not stop, could not stop because I was building a boat. I built that boat, that I hoped would float, to carry me far away. I gave the boat to my true love hoping for the best. From our boat, we sailed away unsure where we would go. The strange thing is, the boat was sound but it sailed us right back home.

My Dogs Keep Me Grounded

The golden girl is a Labrador Retriever who struggled through the wetlands, and collapsed on my doorstep unable to go any further. Instinctively, she knew she had found a home. Malnourished, dehydrated, flea bit and tick infested, and being eaten alive by intestinal parasites, the battle begin to save her life. Weighing a mere seven pounds, I wasn’t so sure my trusted veterinarian could. The fluffy dog, I rescued from beneath a bush in Havana, Cuba where she was sheltering with her starving mother and six sisters. Knowing I would be able to probably get one back to the States, I petted each and assessed them for completeness, spoke to the mother, and stepped from the bush into a cold December Cuban rain that was falling. I took the one that was willing to leave the pack for nothing more than a soft touch.

One prairie dog and one Havana Hound, both weighing in at around 45 pounds, they keep me grounded, literally, because before I can go anywhere I have to figure out what to do with the dogs. Raised as house pets, they’re not fond of kennels, crates, being left alone, or sleeping on the floor.  One won’t go out in the rain, while the other won’t come in from the rain. The Havana Hound loves the car and jumps from seat to seat while the retriever throws up on the floor boards. Being reared on the prairie, neither wear collars because they stick their heads in the weeds and get tangled in the briars making self-strangulation a real possibility. Because they don’t wear collars, it’s difficult to get either on a leash. If I can accomplish that feat, one dashes herself to the ground while the other runs to the car. Being the uncivilized mutts they are, I can’t take them anywhere so I sit in the car with two dogs trussed up like Christmas Geese, knowing in my heart of hearts, they will neither eat, sleep or drink until I pick them up from the vet’s and bring them back to their prairie home.

Why do I subject myself to this lunacy? The thing is, these dogs, be that as they may, are not judgmental, don’t understand about prejudice, don’t care what possessions I do or don’t own as long as they have beds and food, and never argue with me. When it comes right down to it, they are there for me because when they needed it most, I was there for them.

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Is Purple Rain Real?

A man gave a television interview where he was talking about ‘chemtrail flu’ which is a conspiracy theory concerning high flying planes dropping toxic chemicals that cause flu like symptoms and possible death.   He also maintained two days after Merle Haggard made the same public statement he died suddenly from respiratory complications.

This man was many things including a dazzling performer, and I’m wondering if he knew something the rest of us don’t because it seems rather bizarre that a 57 year old man can walk upright into his house on a Wednesday night, but on Thursday morning someone makes a 911 call saying there is a man down in the elevator but cannot tell the operator who the man is or the address he is calling from.

That man was Prince. Home alone and dead in an elevator. Autopsied the next day followed by cremation, and a private ceremony with the ashes being held in an undisclosed location. What really happened in a two day period that made an icon vanish? Could it be that Prince found that purple rain he sang about?

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Prince Nelson Rogers (1958-2016)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, from Madame Tussaud’s House of Wax, Amsterdam

Lessons Learned From Eccentric Blogging

 The lovely lady seated at the typewriter is Amelita Galli-Curci one of the most popular Italian operatic singers of the early 20th Century.  She was born in Milan, Italy in 1882, and died in La Jolla, California in 1963. She was self taught, and her voice can still be heard on 78 recordings and LP and CD reissues.

pic It’s impossible to know what Amelita might be typing, but I expect fan mail because she is smiling. Although, she probably portrays the height of fashion for 1910,  she has that eccentric quality about her. Who sits down to type in a full length fur coat and hat? But she’s a dish, and I was quite smitten with the image. However, this is not a post about the eccentricities of Amelita, it is about the eccentricities of readers and writers.

I started a blog, firstly to write because I can, and secondly to determine what is currently being read and trending. The results after two weeks, are rather puzzling and quite shocking.

To date, the article that gained the most attention was a commentary on abortion, not that I believe in abortion but I am pro-choice because I remember a time when abortion was illegal and girls I went to school with were dying from illegal abortions.  Then readers went gaga over an obscure scratched black and white picture of the poet Emily Dickinson. I’m not so sure they were interested in the accompanying story, but they loved the picture.  By contrast, I wrote a article ‘The Great Poetry Disconnect’ that lamented that although poetry was once a loved literary genre, people have very little use for it these days. That article brought in readers from China and India. Then there was a article that was actually a tribute to my aunt, ‘Angels Cry When Teacher Die’. It seems readers have an affinity for teachers, and every family has one.

So where does this leave me, and where should I go? Something tells me I have accidentally connected with a bunch of Millennials who are eager for new information that is really old information, or people will reach out and read anything if it’s interesting.  It’s actually hard to tell as I sit in my favorite Amelita pose, but I’m having a  great time.

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(a gramophone for 78 rpm records and Nipper the dog 1899)

Photos: Creative Commons (Wikimedia Commons)