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April's Perspective

looking at news and our lives

Meeting an Idol

I’m not really a fan, of sports, actors, musicians, or singers.  I appreciate anyone at the top of their game, but I never think I will actually meet and work with them.  Play a pick up basketball game with Michael Jordan?  Be in a production with Johnny Deep ?  Be on stage with Mick Jagger?  Asked to sing back up for Aretha Franklin?  It could never happen.

Except that, once, I shook the hand of a great composer and conductor and took my place in the chorus to perform one of the most beautiful works , sacred music ever created.  Our church in Kent, Ohio, invited John Rutter to conduct our choir.  The choir I was in.  I don’t know any of the details, but  for several weeks we practiced John Rutter’s Requiem.

We thought we were ready.  We sounded good!  But Rutter immediately stopped us, and instructed us on how to breathe.  Starting and stopping again, we worked on phrasing, on timing, on clean cut-offs, on controlling vibrato, on creating a soft yet forceful sound.     After 15 minutes, we were ready, and our sound was transformed.

It was an experience I will never forget.  Enjoy this Christmas music, by John Rutter.

Making Christmas

 

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Shadow loves Christmas

Here we are again, making Christmas.  It may not be about roast beast, bobbles, and packages tied with bows, but it is something special, and Shadow loves it all, from wrapping to unwrapping.  Shadow is totally unimpressed with the panoply gifts stacked up around the tree, except as it affords her places to hide.

Today was about buying presents for others, something Shadow knows nothing about.  The cats do bring home the occasional mouse or other gift to keep us all well feed.  Shadow doesn’t know the stress of going to a store for the perfect gift, only to find out it is sold out, everywhere, until mid January.  Shadow doesn’t know anything about finding the perfect gift for someone you love.  Shadow gifts me with a chance to pet her, and knowing we are both content is all we need.

So I can’t give you details, but let me just say that I have the perfect games, toys and art supplies an Oma can find.  I am so excited just thinking about the look of delight on the faces of my grandchildren as they tear into their packages.  That is what gift giving is all about, the excited smiling faces of the children.  Their smiles are all the gift I need from them.

It is a good thing I didn’t find those sold out items I had been looking for.  Instead, each child will be given the perfect gift of love.  Not pricey items, just the perfect gift for each one.  You know what I’m talking about.  The educational gifts, underwear and socks.  (That is what I always tell them they are getting.)  I can’t wait to play with my grandchildren and their gifts at our holiday party.

Now, Shadow and I have some work to do. Some lucky grandchild could end up with a playful cat for Christmas!  Paper and ribbons are Shadow’s favorite things.

Dealing with Disruptions

The best plans often go awry.  My plans to post a blog every day, for example.  I start with the best of intentions, but then I go on a trip and off the net, attend family gatherings, come down with illness, or fall into emotional chaos.  Looking ahead, I see the December calendar, complete with back to back social engagements, including a couple of travel days, and holidays.

While I agonize over the difficulties of posting once a day, several people post more than once a day.  Multiple posts may be a picture, or a quotation, a three or four line poem, a re-blog of another person, or even a re-blog of their own work.  No reason the rest of us can’t use these same techniques, at least to fill in during times we are crunched for time.

So I now construct a plan for December!  I am so excited to share this plan with you.  Feel free to use this plan as your own.

  1. Spread the love by sharing the blogs of others.  So many talented people, and I’d hate for you to miss amazing bloggers.  I would be delighted to introduce readers of my blog, to the blogs I love.  If you have a blog you would like me to share, just let me know.  I’ll do it as my Christmas gift to you, no charge.
  2. Re-blog favorite blogs from the past.  I have been reading my old blogs, and I have many new readers.  This sounds like a win/win to me.
  3. Post a holiday picture.  Happy Holidays.  Our own holiday pictures are totally free to share.  Paired with a short poem, it’s a perfect post.
  4. Share a quote or season greetings.

Okay.  That is my plan.  There is one other thing I need to do for this plan to be successful.  I need to plan ahead.

Medical Privacy

You receive an identification bracelet when you go to a hospital.  Before you leave the hospital, that bracelet is supposed to be removed.  Do you know why?  You might think the ID bracelet is just not needed anymore.  The reason it is removed, is you might forget about the bracelet, and removing the bracelet protects your privacy.

Your privacy is protected even when you receive a doctor’s note to allow you to go back to school or work.  The only information the note contains is that you have been under the care of a doctor.  Why you have been under the care of a doctor is not their business.

Whether you share your medical information, or not, is under your control.  If you want your spouse, or other family member, to be given information regarding your condition and care, you must authorize specifically in writing what type of information can be shared and with whom.  Your employer is not entitled to your personal health information.   Your neighbors are not entitled to your personal health information.  You do not need to share any personal health information on the internet to receive prayer (just ask for prayer).

Yes, there are laws in place that if you have a condition that directly impacts another person, such as a Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) or other disease spread by person to person contact, those people who may have been exposed must be notified.

If you have a heart condition, diabetes, depression, anxiety, cancer or other condition, you don’t need to advertise the condition to anyone.  You do not need to share the information with your boss, clients, or co-workers.  You don’t need to tell your aunts, uncles, or cousins.  You don’t even need to tell your brothers and sisters,  and you may not even want to share all the details with your spouse.  Even if your condition is protected by the American’s with Disability Act, you don’t have to tell anyone about it, not even your employer.

We know that relationships can be affected by knowledge of our health, so sometimes we keep the news to ourselves.  We don’t want others worrying about our job performance, because of an illness.  We don’t want our friends and family to treat us differently, so we keep quiet.

Some conditions come with a stigma attached.  Remember two years ago, Aid  Doctors were kept in isolation upon returning home, after treating Ebola patients.  There were questions about whether they should even be allowed into the country for treatment.

Being private about these matters does not mean you are ashamed.  It does mean that you can get on with the business of living.  You can go to your job without your employer or co-workers fearful that you can no longer do your job.  You can interact with your family and friends without questions and expressions of sympathy.  You can be free of people watching you, waiting for whatever happens next.

You get to be you, not just a disease.

Tragedy Strikes on the heal of Thanksgiving

Outside a Mosque in Huntington, West Virginia the morning after the Presidential Election.

Freedom of religion doesn’t exist in every country.  Most Americans take their religious freedom for granted.   If Americans participate in a religion, it is their business.  If they want to drape snakes across their shoulders while they pray, or kneel before a cross or not before taking their seat in their chosen house of worship no-one really cares.

There is a very small minority of Americans who see it as an attack of their religious freedom to be forced to tolerate a Christmas tree, and a Menorah side by side in a public display, but even worse is to be denied these displays of faith.  (I know of no Islamic High Holy days that occur near the time of Christmas or Hanukkah.)

American freedom of religion is the bedrock of our American culture.  The first school lessons on our history, is of people coming to the Americas for religious freedom, and joining in prayer with the native population in Thanksgiving.

A country may not be able to prevent its citizens from quietly following their religion under the radar of authorities.  Most American residents can’t imagine living in a country where they can’t freely and openly worship in a manner of their choosing, and would be outraged at such treatment.

We have just been through a very divisive political season.  Muslims, a religion, not a country, was named as the enemy.  Harassment of Muslims has reached an all time high.  What difficulties Ohio State attacker Abdul Razak Ali Artan may have had is not the point.  He lives in a country where religious freedom is promised, and Artan felt he could not pray without fear.  Eleven people were injured, and the country is frightened.

Deportation and confinement of Muslims are methods of control that have been promised. The candidate that wanted to partner with Muslims in America has lost the election.  President Elect Trump has asked for the violence against Muslims to be stopped the news reports, but many more tweets are coming from President Elect Trump regarding the voter fraud that has resulted in his loss of the popular vote.

Obviously Artan was a very disturbed young man, but does not meet the definition of a warrior.  My friends and I watched the news of the Ohio State University tragedy with sorrow while having lunch.  Thank God it wasn’t worse.

ISIS is taking credit for this tragedy, but I don’t think they had anything to do with it.  How about you?

 

The Perfect Word

Hubby and I have many conversations (some say arguments) about the perfect word.  We discuss the connotative and denotative meaning of words.  The grandchildren have been known to say,  “Opa, you use such big words.”  Hubby does tend toward the fustian*, but if left to him, the grandchildren will be more than ready for their college entrance exams.

My words tend away from the ostentatious to the common, and I find little need for vulgarity, although I will admit that when I burned my hand recently something vulgar may have passed my lips.  As one who aspires to be a professional communicator, I have no prejudice against certain words.  The words that communicate your message in the way you would like it to be received are good words.

So many people just don’t realized that what others hear, sometimes bears little resemblance to what is meant.  Toss in words few are familiar with, and your listener could lose your meaning.  Before you jump to the erroneous conclusion that am advocating talking down to your listener, rest assured that is not at all the case.

It is as Hubby, once a technical writer, always tells me about writing.  “Write so that you cannot be misunderstood.”  The same is true of speaking.  Build a little redundancy into your communication, so that new words can be understood, rather than out of reach of some listeners understanding.  It just isn’t a perfect word, if you leave your listener (or reader) wondering what the heck you mean.

I agree with T.S. Elliot.  Toss the “complete consort” of words into the salad, combining the old and the new.

* It is interesting to note that upon checking the spelling of the word fustian, and stopping to read the definition, that the word original denoted a course woven cotton or linen, and has come to denote a thick cotton fabric such as corduroy or velveteen.  Nice fabrics, but hardly fustian as in pompous or pretentious.  

Name Day

Ancient ruins Temple of Athena Stock Photo - 40330649
Temple of Athena.  copyright plrang

Continued from:  In Waiting

Name day at last.  All day family had been gathering in the country home, helping with the preparations.  The home would pass to the little one, when the time came. The floors of the house and every wood surface gleamed, mirrors were polished, cobwebs swept away, fresh bedding laid out and blankets aired out.  Flowers were brought in from the garden, and the curtains were thrown back to welcome in the light.  The old girl cleaned up good.

One last check in the mirror told her she was old, but today she didn’t even feel the normal aches and pains of her age.  Her happiness was the only medicine she needed.  Today she wore her ‘hair’ naturally, after all this was a family gathering.  No need to put on appearances for others today.

Her daughter opened her door and announced, “We are ready.”  Her daughter walked near her, ready to provide support if needed, letting her set the pace.  She entered the room, filled with family, surrounding her granddaughter and the beautiful baby girl dressed in the gown passed down from her mother and grandmother.  Each member of the family held a glass of wine from the grapes of the estate.

As she approached her granddaughter, she stopped to greet family members who she hadn’t seen in a long time, who traveled far to be here.  She sat in a chair, the family around her, and the baby was placed in her lap.  Her “hair” straying into her face, falling on the baby girl.

Her voice sounded strong as she gave the baby her blessing.  “May you experience everything life holds.  May you grow in knowledge and wisdom throughout your life. May you grow in love and compassion.  May you know your strength, but never abuse your strength.”

The moment was upon them.  “My precious girl, may you carry our name proudly.”  A tear fell from her eye as memories crowded her thoughts.  Memories of loneliness, of people being unkind and suspicious, but also memories of kindness and love filled her thoughts.  Yes, all the things life holds, the good and the bad filled her thoughts.

“From this day forward your name will be Medusa, not mythical, but a blessing of strength and power to the world.”  The toast to Medusa was given, and each member of the family took a sip of their wine.

She heard a soft hissing from her ‘hair’ in recognition and a tiny hissing in response from little Medusa’s ‘hair.’  Outside the window, in the clearing of the lawn, gleaming in the sun was a unicorn, pawing the ground impatiently.   Handing the little one over to her mother, she instructed her to take little Medusa out to the lawn so the unicorn could greet her.

Medusa watched from her chair as the unicorn nuzzled her namesake.  Life could be hard for anyone different, but it would help little Medusa grow to be both strong and compassionate.  For now, there was nothing to do, but to enjoy the family.

 

The Sociology of Change

Change doesn’t come easy.  Change comes in fits and starts.  Sometimes bubbles of change rise to the top.  For one shining moment, it looks like change is everywhere.  The bubbles pop.  The evidence of change passes away.  Below the surface, change simmers. Change continues to percolate.  Throughout the land thoughts change.  You can try to cling to the past.  You can try to turn back the clock.  You can dress things up to look the way they were.  Below the surface, people still want to live their lives in freedom.  Below the surface, people still want to live their lives in harmony with others.  Below the surface, people still want to protect the natural world.  Below the surface, people want friends rather than money.  Below the service we fight for inclusion.  Below the service we fight for justice.  Below the service we fight for security.  Below the service we fight for change.  Your mandate is marred by a million tiny bubbles of change.  Tiny bubbles will join into larger bubbles and float to the top.  Change is unstoppable!

Genteel

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I hate filth.  Filthy hands are horrible.  Some would even say I was prissy, and as a girl I certainly was.  You might think I would be a clean freak, but no.  Being organized is only possible in spurts, and then entropy relentlessly takes over.  If it were not for gloves, I would never clean a thing.

Some family stories have come from this trait.

As a baby, if I got anything on my hands, I immediately started crying and wanted to have my hands washed.  So imagine my horror when a macadam road (blacktop) was being poured, and I got my hands in the tar.  I had been warned to stay away from the road, but I was five.  I wanted that tar off my hands, immediately!  I was sent to the bathroom to wash my hands, but that did not work.  Dad eventually did get the tar off of my hands.

As a child of 13 years, I was taught to clean the fish a neighbor caught and gave to us.  The smell, the feel on my hands, the scales flying all over the place, and the mosquitoes that were attracted.  Yes, I was a baby about it.  I didn’t care.  I would do it, but I would not be happy about it.  Eventually we took the fish to the basement tub to clean, still gross, but no mosquitoes.

As a teenager I was expected to rake leaves, which included cleaning out the window wells of partially decayed and slimy leaves.  Again, I did the job, under protest. Working in the garden was traumatic.  I hate getting dirt on my hands.  I have been told that there is a difference between good clean dirt, otherwise known as soil, and filth.  I can see the difference, I would just like to avoid either.

As an adult, I stopped trying to just get over this aversion and came up with another solution.  It was remarkably simple.  It was so simple.  I was surprised that my very intelligent parents never came up with my solution.   Gloves.

Cotton gloves for dusting and other household tasks.  Rubber gloves for dishes, pots, and pans.  Outside I have gloves for different tasks.  When my own children would complain about yucky chores, I was ready with the solution.  Gloves!  Without gloves, I would require a staff of housekeepers and gardeners.

It’s a shame I wasn’t born rich.

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