Friday, August 30, 2019

Can you guess where this is?

It's the town of Plovdiv, the second largest town in Bulgaria. My niece Wendy is attending an art seminar there for a week and these are two pictures that she took of the “old town”.  I am intrigued and green with envy.  I can't wait to have her send more pictures .

She writes: "It's a great group of people, interesting lectures and workshops and tomorrow we go to the opera 'Orpheus and Eurydice' by an Italian group in Plovdiv's ancient amphitheater." Of course I had to find a picture of the theater and now I am even more intrigued.  

I hate that my traveling days are over but at least I can see it through Wendy's eyes !

Sunday, August 25, 2019

A question from the audience ..

Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) held a Town Hall meeting last week and, not surprisingly, the subject of guns was front and center. The audience was divided and quite contentious as Ernst started in on the line that what was needed for gun control was more attention focused on mental illness. She acknowledged that the country had been through some “difficult moments” related to shootings and at that point the shouts of “do something” came from the crowd.

I was about to turn it all off but they announced they would open the floor to questions from the audience so I decided to listen. A lovely middle aged teacher from Johnston named Ellie Holland came to the mike and, in a soft and emotional voice, she said: As part of my teacher training this past week, I was asked to listen to popping sounds and then determine if they were gun shots or not. I was then asked to be trained to man a family reunification center to provide counseling to parents seeking their children following a catastrophic event.” And then, as her voice choked she said, “So my question to you today Senator is...when can I plan to get back to trainings that simply teach children to read and write?”

Practically the whole audience broke into a cheer for what she'd said but it left Joni Ernst without an answer.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Italy's Cinque Terre 2001

In 2001 my friend Douglas and I spent a month in Italy. We visited Rome, Orvieto, Bavagna, Gubbio, Cortona , Florence and Venice. Of course they all differed and were wonderful but we’d saved the last week for a special treat. We had decided to visit the Cinque Terre, the five small villages clinging to the coast of the Italian Riviera. It was the one place where we had no reservations but we’d read that all you needed to do was show up and someone would appear with rooms to rent so we decided to give it a try.

After a full day’s train ride from Venice we arrived at Montrose al Mare the uppermost village of the 5 and the one in the picture above. As had been promised we’d barely put our luggage down when a lady on a bike approached asking if we were looking for a place to stay and we were able to rent a wonderful villa at an amazingly low rate.

Everything seemed magical at the Cinque Terre but a favorite memory was when
Douglas stopped dead in his tracks and said, “Oh, my …” and I turned to see a young woman approaching. She wore no makeup and her dress was modest but she was regal enough to be a queen and on top of her head was a huge wicker basket filled with lemons. I knew she was real but it felt like she’d just walked out of a painting !

A lot of our time was spent trekking the rugged, steep paths that separated the 5 villages and it was fascinating to see how they differed. Here is Douglas taking a rest between villages.

On our trip home to the States Douglas and I agreed that we traveled well together and we talked of future adventures. Unfortunately he passed away about a year and a half later and our plans died with him. However his friendship and the month that we shared in Italy will always be one of my most cherished memories.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Blogger friend “Big John” sends greetings from London.

I am thrilled that so many people seem to be enjoying my memoir "My Halcyon Years" that I published last month.  It begins in 1943 with WWII in full swing.  My family and I are living outside of Boston and have become a Host Family for the British sailors who are staying at the Union Jack Club awaiting repairs to be made on their ships.

"Big John" is a long time blogger who, for years, has entertained us with his very British acerbic wit and opinions.  I was so happy to hear from him after he read the book and happy that he could relate to the part about the sailors.  Years back, in one of his posts, he included this sweet picture with the caption "Miserable Tykes" ... 

Yesterday, in his email, John reminded me of that picture and he wrote ..."the little boy in the centre of that scruffy group was my uncle 'Charlie', who during WW2 served in the Royal Navy.  He had a pretty rough time in the North Atlantic and spent some time recovering in the USA.  I like to think that, if he wasn't one of your "British boys" that some other 'Yanks' made him feel at home."

                                                              Uncle Charlie

I mention in “My Halcyon Years” that my mother made a quilt during those hosting years and she cross-stitched each boy's name on it. My sister Barbara received the quilt after mother died and she had it framed. Now it resides on the wall of my nephews vacation home. Wouldn't it be amazing if Uncle Charlie's name was there? 

My blogger friend John sent me his Uncles full name but I won't put it here since he never uses identifiable family names on line.  However I will see if, by any extraordinary chance, his name is one of those on the quilt.
(I'll let you know as soon as I get the answer … fingers crossed.)


Saturday, August 10, 2019

"We lost a national treasure this week”

Those were the words of President Obama as he mourned the loss of Toni Morrison who died this past week at the age of 88.    He went on to say that "her writing was not just beautiful but meaningful, a challenge to our conscience and a call to greater empathy."

His use of the word "empathy" made me realize how litle we see of it since he's been replaced. Toni Morrisons amazing acceptance speech in 1993 when she was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize spoke of the power of words and one line seems eerily to fit what is happening today.  She said, "Oppressive language does more than represent violence, it is violence."

Monday, August 05, 2019

“Mr. President … this is your Higher Power speaking ...

It isn't enough for you to say you are not a hate monger. You need to prove it.

On behalf of the country I ask you to instruct Congress to forge a bill that calls for a total and complete shutdown of the inciting and racist rhetoric that comes out of your mouth on a daily basis.

Unhappily I fear it is beyond your comprehension but I ask you nonetheless.”