falling leaves…life?

In 2004 I discovered an author who has become a favorite…of mine…and my daughter’s. 

Cover of

Cover of The Fall of Freddie the Leaf

While decorating my daughter’s room for Christmas, I came across the Fall of Freddie the Leaf – A Story of Life for All Ages written by Leo Buscaglia. The story is appropriate for this time of year…winter, but its message seems only too fitting in view of what transpired in Newtown a week ago.

For young and old alike…

Spring had passed. So had summer.

Freddie, the leaf, had grown large. His mid-section was wide and strong, and his five extensions were firm and pointed.

He had first appeared in Spring as a small sprout on a rather large branch near the top of a tall tree.

Freddie was surrounded by hundreds of other leaves just like himself, or so it seemed. Soon he discovered that no two leaves were alike, even though they were on the same tree. Alfred was the leaf next to him. Ben was the leaf on his right side, and Clare was the lovely leaf overhead. They had all grown up together. They had learned to dance in the spring breezes, bask lazily in the Summer sun and wash off in the cooling rains.

But it was Daniel who was Freddie’s best friend. He was the largest leaf on the limb and seemed to have been there before anyone else. It appeared to Freddie that Daniel was also the wisest among them. It was Daniel who told them that they were part of a tree. It was Daniel who explained that they were growing in a public park. It was Daniel who told them that the tree had strong roots which were hidden in the ground below. He explained about the birds who came to sit on their branch and sing morning songs. He explained about the sun, the moon, the stars and the seasons.

Freddie loved being a leaf. He loved his branch, his light leafy friends, his place high in the sky, the wind that jostled him about, the sun rays that warmed him, the moon tht covered him with soft, white shadows.

Summer had been especially nice. The long hot days felt good and the warm nights were peaceful and dreamy.

There were many people in the park that Summer. They often came and sat under Freddie’s tree. Daniel told him that giving shade was part of his purpose.

“What’s a purpose?” Freddie asked.

“A reason for being,” Daniel had answered. “To make things more pleasant for others is a reason for being. To make shade for old people who come to escape the heat of their homes is a reason for being. To provide a cool place for children to come and play. To fan with our leaves the picnickers who come to eat on checkered tablecloths. These are all reasons for being.”

Freddie especially liked the old people. They sat so quietly on the cool grass and hardly ever moved. They talked in whispers of times past.

The children were fun, too, even though they sometimes tore holes in the bark of the tree or carved their names into it. Still, it was fun to watch them move so fast and to laugh so much.

But Freddie’s Summer soon passed.

It vanished on an October night. He had never felt it so cold. All the leaves shivered with the cold. They were coated with a thin layer of white which quickly melted and left them dew drenched and sparkling in the morning sun.

Again, it was Daniel who explained that they had experienced their first frost, the sign that it was Fall and that winter would come soon.

Almost at once, the whole tree, in fact, the whole park was transformed into a blaze of color. There was hardly a green leaf left. Alfred had turned a deep yellow. Ben had become a bright orange. Clare had become a blazing red, Daniel a deep purple and Freddie was red and gold and blue. How beautiful they all looked. Freddie and his friends had made their tree a rainbow.

“Why did we turn different colors,” Freddie asked, “when we are on the same tree?”

“Each of us is different. We have had different experiences. We have faced the sun differently. We have cast shade differently. Why should we not have different colors?” Daniel said matter-of-factly. Daniel told Freddie that this wonderful season was called Fall.

One day a very strange thing happened. The same breezes that, in the past, had made them dance began to push and pull at their stems, almost as if they were angry. This caused some of the leaves to be torn from their branches and swept up in the wind, tossed about and dropped softly to the ground.

All the leaves became frightened.

“What’s happening?” they asked each other in whispers.

“It’s what happens in Fall,” Daniel told them. “It’s the time for leaves to change their home. Some people call it to die.

“Will we all die?” Freddie asked.

“Yes,” Daniel answered. “Every thing dies. No matter how big or small, how weak or strong. We first do our job. We experience the sun and the moon, the wind and the rain. We learn to dance and to laugh. Then we die.”

“I won’t die!” said Freddie with determination. “Will you, Daniel?”

“Yes,” answered Daniel, “when it’s my time.”

“When is that?” asked Freddie.

“No one knows for sure,” Daniel responded.

Freddie noticed that the other leaves continued to fall. He thought, “It must be their time.” He saw that some of the leaves lashed back at the wind before they fell, others simply let go and dropped quietly.

Soon the tree was almost bare.

“I’m afraid to die,” Freddie told Daniel. “I don’t know what’s down there.”

“We all fear what we don’t know, Freddie. It’s natural,” Daniel reassured him. “Yet, you were not afraid when Spring became Summer. You were not afraid when Summer became Fall. They were natural changes. Why should you be afraid of the season of death?”

“Does the tree die, too?” Freddie asked.

“Someday. But there is something stronger than the tree. It is Life. That lasts forever and we are all a part of Life.”

“Where will we go when we die?”

“No one knows for sure. That’s the great mystery!”

“Will we return in the Spring?”

“We may not, but Life will.”

“Then what has been the reason for all of this?” Freddie continued to question. “Why were we here at all if we only have to fall and die?”

Daniel answered in his matter-of-fact way, “It’s been about the sun and the moon. It’s been about happy times together. It’s been about the shade and the old people and the children. It’s been about colors in Fall. It’s been about seasons. Isn’t that enough?”

That afternoon, in the golden light of dusk, Daniel let go. He fell effortlessly. He seemed to smile peacefully as he fell. “Goodbye for now, Freddie,” he said.

Then, Freddie was alone, the only leaf left on his branch.

The first snow fell the following morning. It was soft, white, and gentle; but it was bitter cold. There was hardly any sun that day, and the day was very short. Freddie found himself losing his color, becoming brittle. It was constantly cold and the snow weighed heavily upon him.

At dawn the wind came that took Freddie from his branch. It didn’t hurt at all. He felt himself float quietly, gently and softly downward.

As he fell, he saw the whole tree for the first time. How strong and firm it was! He was sure that it would live for a long time and he knew that he had been a part of its life and it made him proud.

Freddie landed on a clump of snow. It somehow felt soft and even warm. In this new position he was more comfortable than he had ever been. He closed his eyes and fell asleep. He did not know that Spring would follow Winter and that the snow would melt into water. He did not know that what appeared to be his useless dried self would join with the water and serve to make the tree stronger. Most of all, he did not know that there, asleep in the tree and the ground, were already plans for new leaves in the Spring.

 

The Beginning.

Postscript:

Leo Buscaglia approached life with joy and enthusiasm. He pursued a path of perpetual learning that took him to places of wonder, excitement, and enlightenment. His sense of urgency to live life now and explore all that is possible was contagious to all who knew him. His life was dedicated to the single concept of “Love” and all the beautiful and positive elements that it encompasses. 

He died of heart failure on June 29th, 1998, at his home in Lake Tahoe, Nevada at the age of 74. A note was found on his typewriter the next day. It read, “Every moment spent in unhappiness is a moment of happiness lost.”

 …make merry…while you may…leave tomorrow…to…

…tomorrow!

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads

Autumn Leaves on the North Carolina back roads (Photo credit: Visualist Images)

Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Autumn leaves in Gekū

Autumn leaves in Gekū (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

………hugmamma.

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withdrawal…???

That’s my husband’s take on how I’ll respond to the day after, i.e. November 7. 

President Obama @ UNC

President Obama @ UNC (Photo credit: mehlam786)

Today is Election Day.

Washington’s movers and shakers for the next 4 years are being decided upon today. Even as I write.

I actually left the gyrations of politics behind a few days ago. The nonstop spin of media pundits and the constant polling wore thin.

For me, the die was cast when I mailed in my vote for President Obama. Nothing anyone could say or do would make me reflect upon my decision. That is until SHE happened along.

Sandy.

Two major American cities were brought to their knees by Mother Nature. She reminded us that in the end, we humans must look to each other for comfort, solace, and resurrection.

Watching high winds and swollen waters overwhelm our puny structures was humbling. To this day, I have difficulty dispelling the notion that our existence is, at best…whimsical.

Running parallel is my feeling that what does matter…is us. In the blink of an eye, we could cease to be.

Cole's Restaurant Hit by Hurricane Sandy in St...

Cole’s Restaurant Hit by Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island, NY. (Photo credit: bozer★)

And in that same blink what’sapparent is that we can’t take it with us…stuff, that  is.

Governor Romney promises, with him as President, we will be able to have stuff..to buy stuff.

In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing. It’s how Romney plans to do it that threatens our already tentative existence.

To do that, he guarantees 12 million new jobs. It’s certain those jobs will involve fossil fuel, the primary pollutant affecting climate change.

Short term solutions are the life blood of a corporate raider. A career for which Romney takes pride, having made millions for himself and investors while at Bain Capital.

Romney’s business mentality…taking care of the now, squeezing as much out of the moment as possible, getting out before the tide turns, hoping for the best, not looking back, and above all…having no regrets.

In contrast, President Obama has deliberated the long term effects of his actions. A sign, perhaps, of his professorial background. He has made value-based decisions, including ones to do with climate change. Not all have been politically correct. In some instances the President has lost favor with one group or another, even his own liberal constituency. But at the end of the day, he remained true to his own moral compass.

The President made the last campaign speech of his political career last night in Iowa.

He reminded the audience, those standing in the cold with him and we who watched on TV while comfortably ensconced in our warm homes, that he and his wife were catapulted to the national stage with their first win in that state during the last election. He spoke of local meetings with only 20 folks in attendance…of backyard barbecues…of meet and greets in community centers and church halls. Small town folks…with small town values.

As I watched the President and the First Lady embrace to the raucous applause of cheering Iowans, I identified with the unassuming couple at the center of the crowds.

President Barack Obama embraces First Lady Mic...

President Barack Obama embraces First Lady Michelle Obama as she prepares to leave for her return to the United States April 5, 2009, as President Obama continued his overseas travel schedule. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack and Michelle Obama hail from families who struggled to keep food on the table, clothing on their backs, and rooves over their heads. Education was a priority in both their households. And as a result of having been raised by loving and supportive parents and grandparents, Barack and Michelle continue to display the same for all those in need of that same love and support.

Like the Obamas, my worldview embraces all those who struggle in their daily lives. I’ve been there. To some extent, I’m still there. Retirement looms on the horizon for my husband and me, and my daughter, an artist, will always live frugally.

Knowing that I am part of a larger human community makes Mother Nature’s whimsy more bearable.

I am not alone.

When I die I won’t care about the stuff I leave behind. I will take my leave of this transitory existence knowing that I share the love and support of all those with whom I have aligned my life.

…love thy neighbor as thyself…

…he’s not heavy, he’s my brother…

…do unto others, as you would have them do unto you…

…no man is an island unto himself…

…share and share alike

…verily I say to you, inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me…

…the obamas…my kind of people…

………hugmamma.

English: President Barack Obama, First Lady Mi...

English: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Green Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2009. Français : Le président Barack Obama, la First Lady Michelle Obama et leurs filles Sasha and Malia, assis dans la Green Room de la Maison Blanche pour un portrait de famille, 1er sept. 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

undecided?…or…independent?

Politics are personal.

Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa

Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most of us don’t like revealing our voting choices. We like to keep them…close to our vest.

So it was a nice change to read the following by an Iowan, who claims to be an Independent voter.

I know about Independents…I’m one myself. I voted for George W. Bush the second time around.

What I hadn’t a clue about…were Iowans. Now I know them…a little better. And I like what I’m hearing.

On the college campus where I write and teach in Iowa, the trees are aflame with red and yellow leaves and the students — more than 90 percent of them if 2008 numbers hold strong — are ready to vote for Barack Obama. With early voting, many students cast their ballots before they headed home for fall break, to far-flung states where their votes may not matter quite as much.

Still, at least according to the media’s incessant reporting, a large segment of Iowa voters are still independent and undecided. And they’re getting a lot of attention. I’m a registered independent, and I’ve spent my whole life in the Midwest — MichiganWisconsin and now Iowa — so I’ve gotten a lot of calls from pollsters over the years. And every time they ask me whom I plan to vote for in November, I always tell them I’m undecided.

It’s always a lie.

I always know whom I’m going to vote for months before the election, though I’ve cast votes for at least three different parties over the years. For many Midwesterners, saying I’m undecided is akin to saying it’s none of your darn business. In Iowa, it’s often hard to predict how people will vote, largely because it’s a fairly private place (there’s plenty of elbow room) and it’s an awfully polite place, too. We try to get along despite our differences. Bumper stickers and yard signs go away swiftly once an election is over.

Defying Convention

While I can sort of guess whom most of my students will vote for based on their T-shirts and the Howard Zinn books sticking out of their backpacks, I’m less certain about the political leanings of my fellow bowlers on Wednesday nights or my fellow worshippers on Sunday mornings. Last week, at the same stoplight, I saw a Romney sticker on a Prius and an Obamasticker on a massive Dodge pickup. Iowa defies convention. Still, I believe these mythical swing voters will once again go for Barack Obama in 2012. Here’s why:

— We don’t like to change horses in midstream. Here in the Midwest, if we hire someone to do a job, we try to stay out of the way and let him or her finish it. It’s stoicism common among the farmers and laborers of the region. Good work takes time. You can’t solve a problem overnight. You plug away a little every day.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presi...

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, strolls the Iowa State fairgrounds Aug. 16 in Des Moines. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, I think, a big reason George W. Bush won Ohio in 2004 and why Wisconsin GovernorScott Walker staved off a recall attempt earlier this year. It’s simply a matter of respect. Iowans remember, acutely, the economic collapse of 2008 and understand a community doesn’t recover from disaster overnight. Federal assistance and federal subsidies have helped Iowa recover from many unforeseen disasters in the past; while we don’t trust the government to do everything, we understand that effective federal programs, such as Obama’s economic stimulus, student-loan and health-care plans, can steadily help a nation work toward recovery. If we see some progress, we are patient people.

— Iowa’s a “live and let live” kind of place. I recently learned that a well-educated gay man from the East Coast, now living in rural Iowa, whom I met at a cocktail party, is probably voting for Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, an insurance company employee I met at church, a married father of three who dresses in khakis and polos, turns out to be one of the fiercest liberals I’ve ever met. I know a small-business owner who is still undecided, but he’s wavering between Obama and theGreen Party. A former student of mine in Ames, an Iraq war veteran, will probably vote for Obama, but may very well go for the libertarian Gary Johnson or write in Ron Paul.

Few Converts

He doesn’t trust Romney on foreign policy or civil liberties. Simply put, for those coveted independent voters, Romney-Ryan’s hard turn to the right on social and military issues is disconcerting. Most Iowans don’t like to put their noses in other people’s business, whether it’s a neighboring home or a distant nation. Divisive social issues and jingoistic nationalism, which Republicans are pushing hard in Midwestern swing states, may mobilize the party’s base but they do little to create converts to conservatism.

— Wall Street is very far away from Iowa. In the Midwest, we don’t trust fancy. And while those on the far right have long tried to paint Obama as the elitist in this race, in Iowa, Romney is going to have a hard time hiding the silver spoon that’s been in his mouth since birth.

It’s not that Iowans resent wealth; it’s more that they resent the kind of wealth that Romney has accrued in his life, most of it “unearned” income — wealth that seems to grow through the manipulated magic of Wall Street rather than the pluck and perseverance we prefer. Wall Street’s recklessness in the past decade has had a profoundly destructive effect on Main Street and the fields that surround it. It’s hard for Iowans to forget that Romney made his money in a system that exploited, in multiple ways, the modest resources of the average American family.

In Iowa, we tend to follow our strong opinions with a polite disclaimer: Well, I may be wrong, you know. And I may. Yet one thing is certain. No matter which way Iowa goes this year, it won’t be long before the pollsters come back to us, looking toward the 2016 caucuses, asking us whom we will support the next time the presidency is at stake. And we’ll get everybody excited, by letting out a low whistle, shaking our heads and muttering, “Well, gee, I don’t know yet. I’m undecided.”

Have a nice day.

English: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in O...

English: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Onawa, Iowa on March 31, 2007. Onawa Public Library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

(Dean Bakopoulos teaches at Grinnell College. His most recent novel is “My American Unhappiness,” now out in paperback. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Dean Bakopoulos at bakopoul@grinnell.edu.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net.

NYC…underwater

 

New York City

New York City (Photo credit: kaysha)I worked in NYC for nearly a decade, from the 70’s to the 80’s, and lived on the east side for almost a year.

It’s hard for me to fathom The Big Apple coming to a screeching halt. Can anyone recall the last time NYC was brought to its knees?

The Great Depression?

After Sandy takes her leave…how long before New Yorkers are…up and running?

…my thoughts and prayers…are with them…

………hugmamma.

“sandy”…nature’s equalizer

Those of us not impacted by the monstrous storms pelting the east coast, can only offer our heartfelt hope for everyone’s safety.

Mother Nature has a way of eliminating barriers, both of her own making…and of mankind’s.

She forces us to come together. 

She forces us to set aside our differences. Those endowed by God…and those we imagine.

Since man has been allowed to run amok with earth’s resources, perhaps Mother Nature is finally stepping in to put a halt to our destructive ways.

Her wrath shows no favoritism. Mansions and shacks alike fall prey to the winds and flood waters.

There is no escaping Mother Nature’s fury. 

We can only ride it out. And hope for the best.

Might we also rethink our use of her gifts?

Or shall we continue to pillage and plunder…until…

…we are…no more?…

………hugmamma. 

women…and the world…

Women have a way of softening the edges around acrimonious debate in which men often immerse themselves…and our world.

Would a woman…a daughter, wife, and mother…make a better President than her male counterpart? An intriguing question, which I hope will one day be answered.

Until that day…let’s continue to do what we do best…bring people together.

…couldn’t have said it…any better myself…

………hugmamma.

a little odd…

The hostile environment surrounding our elections seems to eat away at one’s core. In order to prevent such an occurrence, one has to step back, breathe deeply, and take a broader view of the picture.

The political landscape has disintegrated into millions of dollars worth of negative ads…running 24/7. And, of course, there are the media pundits only too ready and willing to guide us through the maddening maze.

I’ve made my choice…I voted for President Obama.

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is s...

With his family by his side, Barack Obama is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr. in Washington, D.C., Jan. 20, 2009. More than 5,000 men and women in uniform are providing military ceremonial support to the presidential inauguration, a tradition dating back to George Washington’s 1789 inauguration. VIRIN: 090120-F-3961R-919 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

These next few days are just gravy.

My brain continues to sift through all the lumps, so that what’s being dished up is…more palatable.

Through all the noise, the media has offered snippets of this Administration’s accomplishments.

To name a few.

Equal pay for equal work…insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions and for dependents until age 26…tax cuts for the middle class and small businesses…the elimination of terrorist leaders, including Osama bin Laden…repealing “don’t ask, don’t tell”…temporarily allowing children of illegal immigrants to remain in the country in which many were born, until more can be done.

Granted, the President has not done all things…for all people. What President has?

What’s disturbing is the ugly rhetoric that has been allowed to surface.

Former New Hampshire Governor John Tsununu has no qualms about slinging racial eptithets in the President’s direction.

One of the most frequent offenders along those lines from Democrats’ point of view, former New HampshireGov. John Sununu, stirred the pot again Thursday night. Appearing on CNN, the national co-chair for the Romney campaign told host Piers Morgan that he believed Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama was essentially based on race. 

Mr. Sununu said: “I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being president of the United States – I applaud Colin for standing with him.”

He later walked back his comments, issuing a statement saying he believed Mr. Powell’s endorsement was based on “his support of the president’s policies.” But Sununu has previously come under fire for other remarks perceived as having racial implications, such as calling the president “lazy,” and saying he wished he would “learn how to be an American.”

Then there’s the abominable Donald Trump who, from time to time,  has interjected himself into this presidential election. Seemingly to draw the conversation away from serious issues, allowing him to momentarily bask in the spotlight, usually…to his complete embarrassment.

It’s not difficult to locate further YouTube examples of right-wing disdain for the Blacks, dating back just a few years.

There’s conservative FOX Channel TV’s Glenn Beck who tends to run off at the mouth…but when confronted about his deep-seated beliefs…refuses to own them.

And then there’s a member of Governor Romney’s church, who clarifies the Mormon viewpoint of Blacks…as being the descendants…of Cain.

So it makes one wonder, why…in spite of President Obama’s accomplishments and an economy that is on the upswing…whites are lining up in droves to vote in favor of Romney. In particular, white men.

…a curious phenomenon…or not?…

……..hugmamma.

comedic relief…maru

Just reciprocated a visit to blogger friend Beneath the Tin Foil Hat…at http://tinfoilhatman45.wordpress.com . I’d not heard from him in a while so I thought perhaps he’d taken a break. I was very glad to “hear” from him.

The visit reminded me of how cute our furry friends are when they’re just being themselves. It prompted me to go in search of my favorite Internet cat…Maru.

Japanese, Maru is photogenic and loves being in front of the camera. He does whatever he wants, satisfying any urge that happens to strike his fancy.

Too, too, too cute for words. So I’ll let Maru show you himself.

…have to get my grandkitty on video…he’s a laugh a minute as well…

………hugmamma.

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a book…a movie…life

War and Peace. 

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, posed in costum...

Audrey Hepburn and Mel Ferrer, posed in costume, while filming War and Peace. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sadly I neither read the book, nor was I able to sit through the epic film starring Audrey Hepburn, her husband at the time…Mel Ferrer, and Henry Fonda.

Despite this failing, I know one thing for sure. Peace is preferable to war.

College students during the Vietnam War, my husband and his brother, along with thousands of other students, were registered in a nationwide draft lottery. Fortunately, both had high numbers which, in the end, kept them from having to serve.

Family and friends mouthed a collective sigh of relief.

Two of my brothers weren’t so fortunate. One served in the Korean War; another was drafted into the Vietnam War.

I never learned about the war fought in Korea. My brother, so much older than me, had long since moved out on his own. We saw one another from time to time, but our chats were limited to the weather and other pleasantries.

By contrast, my brother Ed, just a few years older than me and still at home when I was growing up, shared horror stories about his stint in Vietnam.

The worst was when his buddy was blown to smithereens…within inches of my brother.

Long after he returned home, married, and had children, Ed continued to sleep with a gun under his pillow.

He’d awaken to nightmares, sweating in the dark as he recalled the horrible war years.

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on 4th July 2002

A Marine at Vietnam Memorial on 4th July 2002 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I toured the Vietnam Wall with Ed when it was first built. My husband and I happened to be visiting with my brother and his family at the time.

In those days there was no end to the controversy that swirled around The Wall’s selection as the nation’s memorial to the Vietnam War. Even my brother weighed in, favoring a more traditional monument. Perhaps something more typically representative of soldiers.

So I watched in wonder, as my brother underwent a quiet transformation…standing just inches from The Wall.

Tears welled in my eyes as Ed gently fingered the names of men with whom he had served…soldiers who had died for our country…young men in their prime.

Standing steadfast, my brother wiped a tear from his cheek.

This is what I know of war.

Information relayed from one who was there.  Second-hand, but nonetheless…powerful.

I am for peace.

I am for working with others to ensure a world in which we can live side by side, with respect for our differences.

I am for life…quality of life.

I am for equality…of persons…and nations.

I am for sharing in the bounty of this earth…as well as in its preservation.

I am for helping to shoulder the burdens of the less fortunate.

I am for all of us…being One Nation Under God.

…for no man is an island…unto himself.

………hugmamma.

Vietnam War Memorial

Vietnam War Memorial (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

there are bosses…and then there are those who care…

As I walked through the automatic doors at our local QFC supermarket a couple of days ago, the first thing that caught my gaze was a brightly colored balloon that said “Happy Boss’s Day.”

“There’s a boss’s day?” I asked myself.

I was aware of  secretary’s day, or in more recent times…administrative assistant’s day. Not a boss’s day.

The moment passed quickly and I didn’t give it another thought. Until last night that is, when my daughter expressed deep admiration for her dad…as a boss.

When my husband left for work this morning, we exchanged our usual bear hugs. Kissing him goodbye, I told him what our daughter had said. I added that, indeed, he was a boss who cares very much about his employees…and always has.

In his usual, humble manner my husband said he hoped he could convince some uneasy workers of that today.

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a woman who had worked for my husband several years ago. She use to arrange our family’s travel, for which I was always very grateful.

It was nice catching up with Chris.

Before we hung up, she mentioned an incident that remains the most memorable of her career.

One day when the company’s owner and a couple of his top executives were visiting with my husband, they happened by Chris’s office. Instead of continuing on his way, my husband ushered the gentlemen inside to meet her. Explaining how valuable she was to the operation, my husband turned the spotlight on Chris.

Years later, she has never forgotten that incident.

As Chris explained it…hierarchy didn’t matter to my husband. Without reservations, he introduced his supervisor to the company’s Owner and Chairman of the Board, and Chief Financial Officer.

My husband is a man of tremendous integrity.

Early in his career, a very grateful client sent my husband a Christmas card containing a check for $500. I immediately set about spending the money, figuring we could buy this, that, and the other. My fantasy evaporated seconds later, when my husband explained that he couldn’t accept monetary gifts for what he’d done as part of his job.

These days we get Omaha Steaks delivered to us…from another, satisfied client. I can’t recollect the last time I bought red meat.

A corporate man, my husband was inclined to vote for Governor Romney as the next President. But as the campaign unfolded, and Romney showed himself to be a man easily persuaded to retrofit his principles to fit his audience, my husband began rethinking his choice. And with Right-Wing attitudes about social issues playing over and over again in the media, my husband is even more convinced that he will re-elect President Obama.

…a boss with principles…who cares about his employees…let’s celebrate them…

………on boss’s day………

women rule…no matter what…men say

A poignant reminder for all of us…sisters in spirit…from one of mine.

Listening to Each Other: a Multigenerational D...

One Flaw In Women

Women have strengths that amaze men…They bear hardships and they carry burdens,but they hold happiness, love and joy.

They smile when they want to scream.

They sing when they want to cry.

They cry when they are happy

and laugh when they are nervous.

They fight for what they believe in..

They stand up to injustice.

They don’t take “no” for an answer

when they believe there is a better solution.

They go without so their family can have.

They go to the doctor with a frightened friend.

They love unconditionally.

They cry when their children excel

and cheer when their friends get awards.

They are happy when they hear about

a birth or a wedding.

Their hearts break when a friend dies.

They grieve at the loss of a family member,

yet they are strong when they

Think there is no strength left.

They know that a hug and a kiss

can heal a broken heart.

Women come in all shapes, sizes and colors.
They’ll drive, fly, walk, run or e-mail you

to show how much they care about you.

The heart of a woman is what

makes the world keep turning.

They bring joy, hope and love.

They have compassion and ideas.

They give moral support to their

family and friends.

Women have vital things to say

and everything to give..

HOWEVER, IF THERE IS ONE FLAW IN WOMEN,

IT IS THAT THEY FORGET THEIR WORTH.

Please pass this along to all your women friends and relatives to remind them just how amazing they are.

(from one of our own…Wendy Gibson)

It’s good to remind ourselves of our worth, especially in light of what’s been said recently by U.S. Senatorial candidates Todd Aiken and Richard Mourdoch.

Earlier this year, the Missouri senate race between Todd Aiken and Claire McCaskill gained the attention of a lot of the nation when Aiken said he believed a woman’s body had ways of preventing pregnancy in the case of “legitimate rape.” Aiken’s comments called for many from his own party to call for him to drop out of the race. He did not.

and…

Half way through the debate Tuesday at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany between the three candidates vying for U.S. Senator Richard Lugar‘s seat, Republican candidate Richard Mourdock was asked about a woman’s right to choose an abortion in the case of rape. 

Mourdock said, “I just, I struggled with it myself for a long time but I came to realize that life is that gift from God and I think that even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Women’s Equality Day – celebrating women’s rig...

…women have come too far…to go back to being…dominated…and subservient…

………hugmamma.

i have my memories…

It’d been several years since I was home to visit family in Hawaii. With my mother in-law’s passing, my husband, daughter and I made the trip to Honolulu with a mixture of sadness and joy.

We were fortunate to rent a condo near the hub of tourist activities, Waikiki Beach, without being in the midst of all the traffic…pedestrian and automotive.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA.

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To say I felt rejuvenated as the days unfolded, is an understatement. The sheer pleasure of walking out the front door, hand-in-hand with my hubby, and having the warm, tropical breezes softly brush both cheeks was simply…heaven on earth.

Our walks rarely varied. We’d stop to breakfast at a small cafe in a nearby hotel, before leisurely strolling along the beach.

Thinking healthy, we’d order scrambled egg whites, oatmeal, and island must-haves…a few pieces of Portuguese sausage and a couple of macadamia nut pancakes. To the surprise of the young waitress, hubby and I would share our bountiful meal. Explaining our desire to live long, happy lives…she’d smile, nodding her approval.

Sitting among planters brimming with colorful varieties of orchids, and gentle trees whose limbs directed our eyes toward the sand and sea…we felt at peace with our surroundings…and life in general.

This was the Hawaii of my childhood, only better. Carefree…bellies full…dreams realized.

Wandering the length of the beach, we were amazed at the expanded shore line. It literally took my breath away.

The last time I saw this section of Waikiki Beach, much of the ocean was walled off by a long, winding stonewall. What water was free of obstruction was literally lapping at my feet.

View of Waikiki Beach area hotels. Halekulani ...

View of Waikiki Beach area hotels. Halekulani is in the center, to the left of the large curved building (Hotel Sheraton). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I liked what I was seeing this go round.

Sand as far as my eyes could see. The beach front of my childhood. Nothing between me and the Pacific, blue waters…but glistening, white sand.

One day when my daughter and I sought to spend several hours basking in the sun, we made our way down to the beach. I opted for laying our towels in the immediate vicinity of a manmade lagoon which sat between a hotel and the ocean.

Dropping myself onto the towel, my bottom literally went…kerplunk! The sand felt as hard as a wood floor. Wasn’t it suppose to be cushiony?

My daughter laughed, her eyes twinkling in the sunlight.

She reminded me that my brother-in-law, her uncle, had told us the beach front had been a creation of man’s ingenuity.

All of the sand we beheld had been brought there, tons and tons of it. The shoreline had literally been swallowed up by the ocean. As a result, the city and affected businesses had to pay for its reconstruction. Otherwise, where would the tourists go? Elsewhere, obviously.

I remember an older sister telling me long ago, that the beaches were disappearing inch by inch.

A teen, too young to care, I didn’t put much stock in what she said. But after thinking about this situation recently, I can remember how surprised I was when I visited Kihei on the island of Maui over 20 years ago. My favorite beach bore no resemblance to the one I loved, growing up.

Kalama Beach Park was a regular weekend destination for my family. As soon as my mom pulled into the parking lot and stopped the car, my brother, sister and I flung open the doors and raced one another to the beach.

Digging our toes into the hot sand, we’d plop our bodies down…reveling in the openness and the breathtaking beauty that surrounded us.

Never could I have imagined that sweet memories of childhood days frolicking on the wide open beaches of my birthplace…would be all that remained.

When I hear and see, as I did last night when watching the PBS FRONTLINE documentary, of the effects of global warming, I’m saddened to know what has happened in Hawaii has occurred elsewhere, and is continuing to take place…now…in areas of our country such as North Carolina.

I believe we have tampered with Mother Nature.

Anyone who contemplates all the changes that have occurred within recent decades to the weather and to the earth itself, cannot explain away our impact upon these events.

We are not invisible.

We have used all available natural resources to indulge ourselves. Meanwhile, we have put very little effort into ensuring that these resources will be available long term…for our children, grand-children, great-grand-children…and their children, grand-children, great-grand-children.

I have my memories. You probably have yours. What kind of memories will our loved ones have?

Unless we invest in our environment, our beaches…may altogether…disappear. …and so it begins………hugmamma.

 

Kihei, Maui, Hawaii

 

Alzheimer‘s robbed my mom of her memories…and her life. This artist’s visual depiction of the disease is uniquely poignant.

………hugmamma.

artful intuition

Our memory is like a shop in the window  of which is exposed now one,  now another photograph of the same person.  And as a rule the most recent exhibit remains for some time the only one to be seen.  ~Marcel Proust

Vanishing Point, completed as a limited handmade edition in 2009, explores the mutable, and sometimes unreliable, nature of the human memory.  The images are drawn from several decades of family photos of my maternal grandmother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s in the last years of her life.  The tunnel book format was an ideal one to express the passage of time.  Photographic images are the remembered experiences filed away by the mind.  Insect channelling, like that seen rare books and manuscripts, represents the disease eating away at one’s recollections of times past.  These lacunae grow larger and larger as one moves forward in time.  And contrary to Proust’s description, the most recent experience, and point at which the…

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through others eyes…

A number of my posts have referenced my cultural heritage…I’m Hawaiian.

I’m also half-Chinese, although I know very little about the culture since my father died when I was one, and my mom was never accepted by her in-laws because she wasn’t Chinese. What I do know was gained from having lived among the Chinese, whose numbers figured large in  Hawaii‘s “melting pot.”

You’ll agree, I’m sure, that who we become is influenced by the environment in which we have been raised. By osmosis, we absorb the good, the bad, and the nuances…of our surroundings.

Born in 1949, I was a Hawaiian on the verge of becoming an American. Once a monarchy, Hawaii became a state of the union on August 21, 1959. I turned 10 that same month.

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Repu...

English: President Sanford B. Dole of the Republic of Hawaii, his cabinet, and officers of the United States Army, reviewing from the steps of the former royal palace the first American troops to arrive in Honolulu, in 1898, on their way to Manila to capture the city, which Commodore Dewey held at bay with the guns of his fleets. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the lead up to becoming an American, I was not allowed to speak my native tongue nor learn about the history of my island home. Instead, I was formally educated in the English language and in American history.

My mom, widowed with 9 children, supported us with her meager earnings as laundress for a Catholic orphanage run by Maryknoll nuns from Boston, Massachusetts. She inferred from them that she should only speak English, and she should abandon her superstitious, island traditions.

As a result of my family’s experience with having to adapt to become  Americans, I am sensitive to others who view America as wanting to usurp their uniqueness as a people…with their own cultural beliefs and traditions.

Despite the Birthers who refuse to acknowledge President Obama’s American citizenship, he was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961 at 7:24 p.m. at Kapiolani & Gynecological Hospital in Honolulu. His father, 25 at the time; his mother, 18.  You can view the long form of his birth certificate at http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/rss_viewer/birth-certificate-long-form.pdf

President Obama and I share a commonality…we were born in Hawaii. Me, 10 years before it became a state; the President, 2 years after.

I think most will agree that the first years of a child’s life are the formative ones. They were for me.

English: President Barack Obama signs H.R. 847...

I don’t profess to know all about President Obama, but I sincerely feel he is imbued with the Aloha Spirit so closely identified with the islands we both call home. In fact, he has said as much.

Reflecting later on his formative years in Honolulu, Obama wrote: “The opportunity that Hawaii offered—to experience a variety of cultures in a climate of mutual respect—became an integral part of my world view, and a basis for the values that I hold most dear.”[38]

President Obama’s approach to foreign policy is reflective of his upbringing.

He stands tall for American values, all the while recognizing that others have the same right to take pride in who they are and in what they believe. In attempting to bring them around to a more democratic outlook in how they govern, the President does not see the need to annihilate the essence of who they are as a people.

Respecting other nations and supporting them as they take the lead in pursuing their own democracies, President Obama acknowledges that America can no longer act  as the imperialist nation it once was.

America remains the most powerful nation on earth. We still “speak softly and carry a big stick.” It’s just that others are more inclined to call our bluff…namely the terrorists…and China.

We need more in our arsenal of weapons than just bullying postures and empty threats.

First and foremost the President is opting to sit around the table with our allies, and other nations important to the stability required in these very uncertain times. He has made every effort to effect what he has said. That he hasn’t done it to everyone’s expectations might be credited, in part, to the rapidity with which events unfold. And the need to remain flexible, feet grounded, but not immovable.

That America must assert its authority as it once did in previous eras, such as during the Cold War, is not seeing where we are today.

The Middle-East is comprised of such divisive factions. There is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution to the problems that exist there.

Governor Romney’s vision of American leadership in the world is a throwback to what prior Administrations have held. Perhaps appropriate to some degree then, less likely today.

President Obama’s’ visits to leaders of the Arab world had been viewed as currying favor with those leaders.

My view has always been that the President was reaching out to people who have always been demonized by us, just as we have always been demonized by them. He was trying to build a bridge. A conversation between perceived enemies, if you will.

The world is not black and white. It is colored…textured…multi-faceted.

We need to live outside of ourselves, in the real world where others are trying to do the same. Realizing that how we expect to be treated by others…is how they would like to be treated by us. Sound familiar?

…i invite you to step back…and see the world…through others eyes…

………hugmamma.