Friday, February 29, 2008

There’s rain … and there’s RAIN !

Last night’s rain started in the wee hours of the morning. I have a tin roof on my little house and I awoke to the music of wet drops drumming a hearty tune. It was a comfort and a relief since our area has been in drought conditions for almost a year.

I drifted back to sleep and when I woke for the second time it was 7:30 and I realized that it was still raining, but very softly. This is unusual for our part of the country. I come from New England where 2 or 3 days of a gentle, steady rain is common. Here, in the South, however, we are more apt to get heavy downpours that last for a few hours, followed by a quick return to sunshine.

I noticed this difference when we first moved here 30 years ago. I was in my car with the radio on and I saw a sprinkling of rain on my windshield. All of a sudden the music stopped and the DJ announced that we were in for a torrential rain and to pull over and stop if we were driving.

I couldn’t believe my ears. What sort of wimpy place was this where people were actually stopping by the road sides rather than drive in a little bit of rain? Those were my thoughts just seconds before the heavens opened up and I was awash in so much water that the windshield wipers were useless. NOW I understood and I carefully pulled over to join the rest of the “wimps” in their stopped cars.

I’ve never made light of rain storms since that day and “caution” has become my catchword. I even came to understand what my young co-worker meant when she said, “I used to jump into bed with Granny when I saw a ‘big black cloud’ coming up”. She was referring to that ominous blackish-gray sky that precedes a storm.

Even as I write this I realize that the quiet “New England” type rain that I was enjoying this morning has stopped. I live in an area called “The Sandhills” so it won’t be long before the moisture is absorbed and we’ll be back to our usual dry state.

I love the rain, as do many poets and lyricists who give homage to it. Remember Shakespeare‘s famous lines from The Merchant of Venice? “The quality of mercy is not strain’d, it falleth as the gentle rain from heaven upon the place beneath; it is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes”.

A fine note on which to end this post. Thanks for your company.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

“THE BOOK THIEF”… an amazing read

This is one of those wonderful books that I couldn’t bear to put down. I’m sure I must have done the usual house-keeping things in between chapters but I don’t remember doing them.

“The Book Thief” takes place in a small town outside of Munich, Germany around the time that Hitler was becoming a force. The story is narrated by “Death”, a collector of souls and a lovable strange as that may seem.

As a matter of fact, the whole story is very strange and compelling and I will leave it at that. I hope I have whetted your appetite enough that you will give it a try. I enjoyed it so much that I was anxious to find out if the author, Markus Zusak, had written anything else. I did some research and found that he is from Australia and has written four novels for young adults.

In 2006 he received the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year Award for “I Am The Messenger”. Even though it was considered a “Young Adult” book I read it and was, once again, captivated. I couldn’t believe that someone so young could write with such compassion and authority.

I seldom write to authors but I found the address of his publisher in Australia and I sent a laudatory e-mail to him. That was a few weeks back and I was thrilled to receive this wonderful answer.

Dear Virginia,
Thank you so much for your kind message about The Book Thief and I am the Messenger. I just received it through my publisher and I am very grateful. The Book Thief, especially, means everything to me, and the fact that my writing has also meant something to you is something that can never be taken for granted. You write and think no-one will read it, let alone be compelled to write to you about it.
Thank you again. You’ve made my day!
All my best,

Isn’t that a nice note? I hope he will retain his down-to-earth warmth and humility as he continues to age. I have the feeling that he will become a household name in the not too distant future and I’m so glad that I made contact with him at this time.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In 1933 gasoline was 18 cents a gallon…

The Twenty-first Amendment repealing Prohibition was ratified, the World’s Fair opened in Chicago, IBM entered the typewriter business, the first drive-in movie theater opened in Camden, N.J., Willie Nelson, Jayne Mansfield and Larry King were born, the Chicago Bears beat the NY Giants for the first NFL Championship and “your’s truly” was born on February 15th.

Recently I’d heard someone say that “the 40’s are the old-age of adolescence and the 50’s are the youth of old-age” that puts me on the down side of old-age and I had figured that it was not much cause for celebration. However, my family thought otherwise and I was completely and totally surprised when they threw a 75th Birthday party for me last Saturday. About 35 friends and family showed up and a grand time was had by all.

There were cards and gifts galore and I loved the sentiment that my friend Bill wrote...”75 is not old...if you’re a tree!” How true.

My three children teamed up to buy me a new stove and a new washer/dryer. They know that I am still part of the “want not, waste not” generation and I would have gone to the grave with my old appliances ! However, I love my new ones. They are state-of-the-art and seem to have a button to handle any situation.

Gift cards are always very welcome and I received quite a few (Panera’s, Starbuck’s, Book Stores and Olive Garden), as well as an array of toiletries and remembrances. However, my most original gift came from my blogging friend, Bud. He actually had the name of my blog “Goldendaze” fashioned to hang on a lovely gold chain. (That’s the necklace you see and the other picture is Bud giving me the gift.)

My daughter Jody had the inspiration for the party but everyone chipped in. There were no formal invitations sent out...just word of mouth...but the company, the food and the feeling of comradeship couldn’t have been better if it had been choreographed.

Now it’s up to me to revise my thinking...75 is just a number, not a doomsday prediction. With friends and family like mine I am truly blessed.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If you think this sign is “squirrelly“…’s nothing, compared to the way I feel when I am “tagged” to write out a “meme”. Please don’t get me wrong. I know it’s a compliment to be chosen (as I have been tagged today at “Shimoda’s Dream”). The dilemma for me is that I use my blog to tell my life’s experiences and my thoughts. This is a one-way procedure. It’s fun and it’s easy for me to control.

Being tagged for a “Meme” is an entirely different experience. It means that I’ve opened a line of communication that is very time consuming if I’m to do it well. I know that many of you enjoy this but I simply don’t have the time or stamina to spend that much time on the computer.

As you all know, the “meme’s” are a list of questions that I am expected to answer. To be honest, I find most of them very boring. I can’t, for the life of me, imagine why anyone would be the least bit interested in what I had for breakfast or my favorite color, etc. If there were a story attached to the experience then it makes sense to me that it would make a good blog entry and that’s the venue I would pick to express it.

Of course, I am then asked to pass it along to 5 others and that’s where I really balk. I, literally, can’t ask others to do what I am unwilling to do myself.

I have to admit that the “meme” from “Shimoda’s Dream” is much more thought provoking that most others. The instructions read:
1. Grab the nearest book (that is at least 123 pages long). 2. Open to p. 123. 3. Go down to the 5th sentence. 4. Type in the following 3 sentences. 5. Tag five people.

So, here goes, folks. I’m following all the instructions except for the “tagging 5 people”…so, if you want to join in, please do so and consider yourself “tagged“.

“They knew well enough what was happening. But, even to themselves they pretended that all was well, for the food was good, they were protected, they had nothing to fear but the one fear; and that struck here and there, never enough at a time to drive them away. They forgot the ways of wild rabbits.”

Can you guess the book and who wrote it? Good luck and I hope I haven’t ruffled too many feathers, or fluffy tails, as it were.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Memories of my grandfather……HARRY LEE

Papa Lee, as we called him, was a gentle, almost child-like man who lived with my Grandmother, Mary, in Plainfield, NJ. He was a writer and his head was often in the clouds. That may have been of concern to his stoic and hard working wife but for his grandchildren he was a delight. One of my fondest memories is from 1940 when he took me to see the movie “The Strawberry Blond” (I was 7 years old) and we danced and sang “And the Band Played On” all the way home....

“Casey would waltz with the strawberry blonde, and the band played on. He'd glide cross the floor with the girl he adored and the band played on. But his brain was so loaded it nearly exploded, the poor girl would shake with alarm. He'd ne'er leave the girl with the strawberry curls, and the band played on".

Papa worked for Warner Brothers, writing movie reviews. His column was in one of the NY papers of the time (in the thirties) and he was also a published author. His first book, written in 1920, was titled “High Company”, and was a book of poetry portraying courage and comradeship in World War 1. The picture above shows him as a medic standing behind a soldier in a wheelchair.

Shortly after “High Company” came out he produced a play that depicted the life & times of St. Francis of Assisi… “The Little Poor Man” (“Il Poverllo”) It was published in 1920 and actually had a short but successful run on Broadway.

Papa’s best known work was “More Day to Dawn” written in 1941. It is the biography of Henry David Thoreau, written in prose and poetry...dedicated “To Mary”, (my Grandmother) and with a forward by his friend Brooks Atkinson. I love the last page of that book:

"The Sixth of May, 1862. May and morning...winds that sigh in cool trees yearning toward the sky. A couch that pillows a weary head. “Have you made your peace with
God?” one said. Silence...and then the calm reply: “We have never quarreled…God and I”.

Papa spent a lot of time volunteering at the Henry St. Settlement House in NY City but he rarely spoke of that. I have often wondered if a tempestuous youth was a fore-runner of the gentle man that I knew. No matter……..he was my Papa and he enriched my life immensely.
P.S.(I have originals of all of Papa's books and just recently did a book search to see if I could get "High Company" for one of my sisters. I was amazed to find that a company named Kessinger Publishing, LLC. has printed this book in paperback form and is currently selling it "new" for $18.51. I was outraged but find that the copyright has run out and I don't have a leg to stand on. I guess they are free to do as they please.
This computer age certainly has it's benefits and drawbacks!)

Sunday, February 03, 2008

In Defense of “Simple” Pleasures

“Knock, knock”…. “Who’s there?”… “Apple”…. “Apple Who?”

“Knock, knock”…. “Who’s there?”… “Apple”…. “Apple Who?”

“Knock, knock”…. “Who’s there?”… “Orange”…. “Orange Who?”

“Orange you glad I didn’t say Apple again?


Now, that’s about as simple as it gets! But just look at the joy that it gives to this happy little 7 year old. She revels in the fact that she’s been so clever and howls with delight.

The older I get the more I wish I could go back to that time of my life. I’ve just about had it with this crazy world of ours, where greed reigns supreme.

I can’t imagine growing up in this day and age...and WE are the ones who have allowed it to happen. The lessons that we seem to have taught our youngsters are “the bigger the sins, the bigger the rewards”. How can we expect them to react differently?

I know that I can’t change the world but I can certainly try to improve my small part in it. I’ve decided to cut out all the “stuff” that seems to run my life...all those extras that I thought I couldn‘t live without. I find it's a very liberating exercise. The more I cut back, the greater freedom I feel ... an exhilarating experience.

So, here’s the deal for live simply and to take each day as it comes. To share what I have with others and, above all, to be thankful for what I have.

Oh, yes… and to keep on being silly. “Knock, knock” ... “Who’s there? ... “Repeat” ...“Repeat who?” ... “Who, who, who.”