Happy Thanksgiving

I am listing to pleasant instrumental music as I sit here. The turkey is in the oven and the pumpkin pie is cooling. In another couple of hours, I will sit down with my children at the table and enjoy the feast.

thanksgiving-1058682_1920

My brother should be at my mom’s soon with my sister-in-law and his friend Bud in tow. I love whenever he brings Bud over. Bud is an elderly gentleman in his 90’s. He fought in WWII and often shares his memories of that time as well as how things were when he was growing up. This first-hand look at the past through the eyes of someone who has lived it is always a blessing.

Normally I would have baked a couple of pies and headed over to my mom’s by now too. However, my mother reminded me that kids grow fast. She said that sometimes it is important to slow down and savor these holiday moments while I have them. I am of course welcome to join her, my dad, and the rest. I may even stop by later just to visit but I am also taking her advice.

Often we get caught up in obligation and rushing from one place to the next that we don’t get to enjoy the holiday. We get wound up and stressed out from travel logistics and traffic. This is a time for reflection. It is a time to count your blessings. Yes, it is a time for families to come together as well but love doesn’t care about miles. It is there between people if they live in the same house or in another state. Love stretches great distances.

My love for my family is always there. So while I might not be part of the busy bustle at my mom’s table in person, my heart is there with everyone and it is also here at my home with my children. That’s another thing about love, it can be in multiple places at once. It’s not limited to Thanksgiving dinner.  And that is something to be thankful for.

thanksgiving-3738922_1920

Advertisements

Back to School and Bad Days

road-sign-940644_1280I’ve had a couple of unpleasant days in a row.  An inability to sleep at night has caused me to oversleep the past couple of days. Which means I have woken up late and the dog didn’t get to go out to do her business on time. So I have quite literally woken up to shit for two days.

As you can imagine cleaning up such a mess isn’t something I want to do before coffee. However, it is necessary. It isn’t the dog’s fault.

I am not sure if it is this unpleasant chore that sets my mood for the day or the lack of Exhaustedproper sleep but I have definitely been a grouch. Fighting the crowds to get the kids ready for school hasn’t helped. My youngest is in middle school and on the autism spectrum. He is high functioning so when he is having a good day you can hardly tell. But he is always very particular about things

For example, he will only wear khakis and shirts with Sonic the Hedgehog on them to school. It is his self-imposed uniform. Finding Sonic the Hedgehog shirts, until recently, has been an issue all on its own. Finding them in his size is an even greater challenge. Fortunately, he has a grandmother on his dad’s side with an embroidery machine.

doomSchool starts tomorrow. I am as prepared as I can be. I will be up by five in the morning because I know that if I want him to school on time that is when I must begin the day. I had nightmares all last night about being late and losing things.

Today I am trying to relax. There is a Native American thing going on at a local park that I want to go to but I am honestly peopled out. I also don’t have money to spare. School supplies and fees took more than I was expecting and I have to come up with a new way to juggle bills.

Right now I am watching a documentary series called Underworld At War. It is all about crime in Britain during World War II. The second episode was an account of Neville Heath; a conman and killer. It also covered the thoughts and challenges facing a school girl named Daphne, who fought to get an education during the turbulent times and realize her dream of becoming a teacher.

The now-retired Headmistress read excerpts from the diary she

vintage_childrens_reading_collection_poster-re1e1e6aba9b4490db9a80226b548ae57_26gc_400

kept during 1940. She spoke of doing homework during air raids and by oil lamp. She mentioned the time a bomb went off just as her father opened a door and how the blast blew him back onto the stove.

It made me think about how valuable that once school girl’s diary is to history and how it now gives us a more complete picture of the era. Of course, that wasn’t why she kept her journal. She just used it to record her thoughts. She probably never intended to share those thoughts with anyone else.

Today we write blogs and share them with the world. We keep online journals that are accessible to people in countries we will probably never see. It is an immediate transfer of information on daily life.

My ramblings of a couple of bad days don’t hold a candle to watching your father get blown back by an enemy’s explosive device. The information I am sharing isn’t all that useful from my current standpoint. I share it anyway because it allows me to get thoughts and worries out of my own head. I doubt they will even be of any use to future generations, but it does make you pause to think. Daphne didn’t expect her words to hold much value either.

o'connor

First Steps

This past Friday, July 20th, marked the 49th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. However, not much was said to remember this historic event. Even in Huntsville, IMG_20170729_144116378Alabama, nicknamed The Rocket City, the local news was silent to the passing of such a historic anniversary. Huntsville is where the Saturn V rocket that launched the Apollo 11 mission into space was made. It is the home of U.S. Space and Rocket Center.   So why the radio silence?

Honestly, people just forgot and I find that incredibly sad. 49 years ago Neil Armstrong, representing us all, Neil Armstrong took a step onto a place no one from our planet had ever been. Twenty minutes later Buzz Aldrin followed him. They spent two hours exploring and gathering rocks. But today we just shrug something like that off.

We carry around more advanced tech on a daily basis than NASA had when they launched Apollo 11. Yet, we’ve not been back to the moon. I am sure there are many economic and political reasons that could be cited by those in charge. Funding, lack of significate investment return, etc.

IMG_20170729_153807269I suspect once people figure out how to make a profit of the moon, without completely messing up the Earth, then there will be trips once a week. However, I worry that one of the main reasons we have forgotten this monumental first step and have yet to repeat it is because so few of us look up any more. The stars are always there, whether we can see them or not.

Once we looked up to the stars and wondered. We looked up at the clouds during the day and dreamed. Now our view is often blocked by buildings and light pollution. Our attention is taken away by struggling through the day to day and beating that next level on Candy Crush Saga. There is so much going on in this world, but there isn’t enough dreaming. There isn’t enough looking up and letting your mind wander.space

The dreamers and the stargazers haven’t gone extinct. They are still out there or we wouldn’t be planning a mission to Mars, but they have dwindled in numbers. Maybe it is a good thing we haven’t been back to the moon. Damaging the moon could potentially destroy the Earth. Humans have made bad decisions about things in the past and will continue to do so.

Maybe leaving the moon alone is a good idea. But we should not forget we’ve been there. If everyone took just five minutes once a week to stop and look at the clouds or stars, we still might not go back to the moon, but imagine how far we could go.footsteps

From Japan to Greece

IMG_20160409_122329794_HDRSaturday the kids and I drove up to our state capitol in Nashville for a Cherry Blossom Festival. We had a good time. My son learned how to make an origami throwing star, we watch some martial arts demonstrations, and we ate too much. I also learned about taro when I bought a strange white and lavender muffin.  (It is kind of like a potato.)

We left the festival around 3pm and were on our way home when we decided to change direction. It was our first trip to Nashville and even though we had a three-hour car ride to look forward to, it seemed a shame not to explore just a little more. That was how we went from celebrating Japanese culture to exploring Ancient Greece. (Well, sort of.)

In 1897 Nashville held an Exposition to celebrate Tennessee’s 100th anniversary as a state. For six months crowds flocked to hear speeches, play games, and watch parades. They also came to see a massive replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. Sadly, that replica was built of plaster and did not withstand time. By 1920 the structure was crumbling.IMG_20160409_144243004

However, the city of Nashville decided not to let the fascinating building die. Instead, the created a complete replica, inside and out, of the Greek temple using more permanent materials. While the Parthenon in Nashville isn’t made of marble, it was built to the same dimensions and inspires a similar sense of awe. IMG_20160409_153927995_HDR

It is home to a statue of the goddess Athena that stands over 42 feet, with a smaller 6-foot representation of the goddess Nike settled on her hand. (The original statue this one was model after has been lost to time and greed.) Standing at her feet it is nearly impossible not to stare up at the intimidating goddess and imagine her taking a step off of her carved pedestal.

IMG_20160409_145818225.jpgThe Parthenon also houses art exhibits on its lower levels, as well as a historical exhibit detailing its creation. The Cherry Blossom festival was fun. The Parthenon was fascinating. We all slept well once we reached home.

A Historic Weekend

jonesboroghHistory seems to be a running theme with me lately. Mostly the mid to late 1800’s through the mid 1900’s. This Saturday I went to Jonesborough, Tennessee. It is the state’s oldest town and the storytelling capital of the world. Every year, during the first week in October, Jonesborough hosts the National Storytelling Festival.  I have never been but I have heard that it really is something special.

We took the walking tour of Historic Jonesborough and learned a lot. Jonesborough was the birthplace of one of Roosevelt’s rough riders, and at least three U.S. presidents stayed there for awhile. In the 1800’s it was the last post of civilization west.

The old Inn still stands, where men were packed as many to a room as would fit. That teameans in the bed and in the floor. You didn’t get a room to yourself or even a bed. We were able to look around upstairs at a few of the rooms that had been restored to the Victorian era. I knew about the Victorian fondness for wallpaper but it is different seeing it up close; with the bright blue patterns on the wall and the pink circle patterns on the ceiling.

Jonesborough is a place of interesting shops like Paul’s Pens Odds & Ends where I bought a new writing implement. I can’t call it just a pen because the cartridge is removable and has pencil lead which can take its place. Each item in the shop is crafted with awe inspiring talent. I loved the dragon pens and the ones made from 30,000 year old wood.

Jonesborough was a interesting trip through time. However, on Sunday I took another trip which was just as interesting. The kids and I drove over to Red Clay State Park which was the last seat of the Cherokee national government before the Trail of Tears. This weekend for the first time in 176 years, three of the recognized tribes met at the ancestral council grounds.

cherokee 2015My children got a chance to see a piece of the past. Like many in the area, we are descended from Cherokee. The Irish and the German in our bloodline hides the native blood behind blue eyes and light hair, but it is still there.

My son really enjoyed it. He got to hear how the water spider brought fire to the Cherokee basketspeople and how the Eagle carries prayers to the creator. He got to touch soap stone and see how it is carved. He got to see baskets being woven. We had a fun weekend and we all came away with a bit more knowledge.

Digging Up Story Bones

Recently I started looking into an old legend. You can read that post here. I ended up side tracked. I still intend to investigate further but right now I am temporarily distracted by the story of my family.

My daughter had to write a paper about something the happened in our family’s past that was relevant to history. So I told her an old family story that had been told to me. Then I began to wonder. What year did that happen anyway?

So I looked up my great-grandfather on line to see when he died and discover his first name wasn’t what I thought it was. He didn’t go by his first name. His parents were listed and I found out that my great-great-grandfather was named Napoleon. (Not that one.) That was intriguing enough that I dug deeper.

Before I realized it I had unburied bones and skeletons from the family closet left and right. One many times great grandsire was apparently a bit of a womanizer, judging by how he traded in wives. Another many times great grandame like one particular family so much that she picked a brother and just kept going down the list whenever she lost one.

It made me think about how much family history is lost. While reading up on local stories for my vampire legend, I came across tales I recalled hearing from my grandparents when I was a child. Now I am considering writing a book of tales myself. Rather than the usual way I go about making thing out of whole cloth, I will tell the tales I heard growing up.

I can put into print the story of how my uncle cut the tale off of my great-aunt’s cat. Or how my cousin used to chase me around our grandparents yard with the foot of a chicken, while the adults plucked the rest of the bird on the porch steps. Maybe even how my dad found a baby ground hog and brought it home one day. My mom had to feed it with a baby bottle until it got big enough for carrots and things.

There are a lot of stories. I bet my cousins have a few too. Maybe even some of the same ones from a different perspective.

In The End, Everything Is A Tale

Watson Story Quote-800wiI love to learn new things. I think that is why I like to read so much. Even in fiction, there are truths to cherish. History and Science fascinate me the most. One is a story of what was and the other is an unraveling tale of what will or could be.

History and Science don’t always give us happy endings but there is still the encouragement to keep dreaming. We know if things didn’t work out well in the past when we did this or that, then that thing is to be avoided in the future. If we experiment and the experiment doesn’t do what we expected, well that experiment failed but what else can the end result be used for?

Shakespeare said:  “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players;” 

This is true only because a play is another way to spin the yarn and tell the tale. Sanderson Quote-800wiWe are made up of words and colors, but that is just the medium used to impart meaning. Storytellers are amazing people because not only do they share stories but, because on some level. they realize that we are all connected by the tale.

Writers, poets, artists, actors, playwrights, historians, scientists; they could just as easily be called monks or priests. History tells a story. Science tells a story. We are all just one paragraph in a giant universal tale.

…And that is my deep thought for today.