Saturday, May 7, 2016

BUSHY AND BEWHISKERED - NOT AT ALL BEWILDERED

While watching the news on TV, I was shocked to see a brief video clip of David Letterman and Jon Stewart (two of my favorite comedians) at a USO event. I don't recall seeing them since they retired. 

It wasn't shocking to see them together after their retirement, what was shocking was their appearance! It brought to mind an article I had read in the past few days about the discovery of a series of articles written by Walt Whitman in 1858 under the pseudonym Mose Velsor. In 13 weekly newspaper installments, Whitman wrote "Manly Health and Training" -- how to be a "real" man. 

When I first read the article, I immediately forwarded it to my granddaughter Audrey and her love interest, Rob, who sports a lovely beard. You see, one of the articles Whitman wrote was about beards. The news item I read was an online NPR article, which included the audio. Audrey said they got a kick out of it as they listened to it over morning coffee. 
In case you missed it, here is what Whitman had to say about beards:

"The beard is a great sanitary protection to the throat — for purposes of health it should always be worn, just as much as the hair of the head should be. Think what would be the result if the hair of the head should be carefully scraped off three or four times a week with the razor! Of course, the additional aches, neuralgias, colds, & etc., would be immense. Well, it is just as bad with removing the natural protection of the neck; for nature indicates the necessity of that covering there, for full and sufficient reasons."  (I wonder what he would think of all the young men who shave their heads today?)

Of course, in Whitman's later years, his beard (and hair) were more on the order of Letterman's. In fact, Letterman told a funny story about someone mistaking him for Whitman. Not sure how true that is, but the resemblance is uncanny.
(Getty/Canva)

I got to thinking how beards seem to be cropping out everywhere nowadays. My older son, Craig, has sported a beard most of his adult years. He did shave it in order to look younger when applying for a new job. I had to admit he looked a lot younger clean-shaven, but I was happy to see the familiar fuzz back on his face -- even if it did make me look older.

The baby of the family, Matthew, has grown his own beard intermittently through the years. Usually, he waits until the colder winter months, as in this photo taken six months ago. I was shocked to see how much gray his beard now contains. The hair on his head remains black as coal, with very little, if any, gray. Hmmm. Matt's at the age now he may wish to look younger, too. Off with the beard? Or maybe a little touch-up?




The only one of my three grandsons with enough facial hair to grow a beard, is Cameron, who is Craig's son. Like father, like son. He has even grown his hair long, which is something his dad did when he was still a teen.


All of this attention to beards brings to mind the latest heartthrob I've noticed on TV. I am a big fan of "The Good Wife". Julienna Margulies' love affair with "Jason", her firm's private investigator (who also holds a law degree - I think they put that in there for the elitist viewers who thought his occupation might be beneath her), makes me want her to run away with him. He -- and his beard -- would be hard for any woman to resist. Agree? (Come to think of it, he looks a lot like my son Craig!)
(Jeffrey Dean Morgan)
In researching the images and articles for this post, I ran across a series of naked photos of Whitman, taken when he had a full head of gray hair and beard. (And I have Safe Search on my computer!) This was a scholarly article, too. Needless to say, that was much more than I wanted to know about good old Walt. 

Got a hirsute man in your life? According to Walt Whitman, that beard may keep him healthy. At least it will protect his neck.

Peace,
Marilyn

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

TIME AGAIN FOR KUDOS AND RASPBERRIES

KUDOS to some of the news recently. Among them are the following:

* Number One has got to be the news that Ted Cruz has dropped out of the presidential primary race! Now if there were only a way to get Trump to drop out as well, just think of all the campaign money that could be saved. Nothing about the current campaign has been ordinary so far. Anything is possible. So many folks I've talked to say they don't think Donald Trump ever really wanted to be President. He must be as surprised as everyone that he's come this far. 

* Obama deserves a lot of credit for the US tax rule that caused Pfizer and Allergan to scrap the $160 billion deal that prevents companies moving overseas to save on taxes. Pfizer would have saved $1 billion annually by "domiciling" its business in Ireland, which has lower tax rates. Why don't more companies come back "home" to the country that presented them with the opportunities to establish their extremely profitable businesses in the first place? Is it too much to ask them to pay their fair share in taxes for the possibility granted them to become so prosperous? It seems that greed is rampant in America - especially among pharmaceutical companies.

*This video tickled my fancy. Have you ever felt such joy? Animals are not so different from us after all, are they? Nonprofits like AnimalsAsia deserve more than just kudos. If you are interested in their work, please look at their site AnimalsAsia.

(Watch Tuffy jump for joy in his first days outside after being rescued from a bear bile farm where he’d spent years of torture in a tiny cage.) 

*More joyful news was the rescuing of the 33 circus lions who were then taken to a new home in South Africa. Some had never felt the earth beneath their feet, as witnessed by this lion's first experience outdoors.


Can't you feel his joy? Hats off to the group Animal Defenders International for the undertaking of such a humane - and expensive task.

*This past week also saw the rescue of circus elephants. Ringling Brothers was the largest circus to retire them to a preserve in Florida. If any of you read the book or saw the movie "Water For Elephants" you have an idea how many of them were abused in captivity. Elephants are known to have emotions similar to us humans. How they could be held and treated so poorly for so many years is hard to believe. Thank God for all the people who worked so diligently to put a stop to their captivity in circuses in the United States.

The wave of compassion for animals around the globe has grown so much recently that it is indicative of a change in the consciousness of mankind. It must mean that we are evolving into a kinder, gentler species on Planet Earth. As such, this new consciousness must soon reach those who are still perpetrating such violence on our own kind, and help to bring about peaceful resolutions to the wars that have been ongoing for too many years. If we can love and care for the animals, can we not extend that same loving care to our brothers?

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RASPBERRIES

Number one on the following list should be the story that broke on "60 Minutes" recently  about our elected officials in Congress putting in as much as 30-hours a week making telephone calls to seek campaign donations for not only themselves, but also for their respective parties. It has been rightly compared to telemarketing. We, the American people, pay these Representatives $174,000 a year to work for us -- not to spend more time raising money than they do legislating! If you didn't see this segment, watch it here Dialing for DollarsBe prepared to have your blood boil. This "do nothing" Congress has been busy on their own behalf not ours!

Florida Representative David Jolly has introduced a bill called "The Stop Act" that would ban all federal elected officials from directly soliciting donations. Needless to say, the bill is not expected to pass. I suggest we each contact our own representatives, and sign the petition to get this bill passed through Congress. Just go to the site Stop Act to add your name to the petition.

reverse diabetesThe number of adults with diabetes has quadrupled worldwide in under four decades to 422 million, and the condition is fast becoming a major problem in poorer countries, a World Health Organization study showed recently. Changing diets and obesity are the main culprits. Even in many poorer third world countries, American products full of sugar -- such as soft drinks by major manufacturers, have made their way into the local economies. American corporations' greed extends to those countries most susceptible to their products. The damage these sugary products cause to the health of these nations may not be well-known, due to the lack of information technology in many of the areas targeted.

*  Kids Need Vaccines "As many as 2.1 million American children aren't getting timely vaccinations because of holes in the public health system. That's because a sizable segment of the population -- the working poor -- makes too much money to qualify for federally funded vaccinations but has health insurance so meager that it won't cover some or any immunizations or booster shots. (My emphasis.) This is particularly true of new vaccines, the experts say." Something must be done to fix this problem in our health care system. World health organizations provide these vaccines for free in many cases. Why do so many impoverished children in the U.S. have to go without these important disease prevention vaccines?
(PegIt Board)
The intentionally unvaccinated children in the U.S. and abroad by philosophically or religiously anti-vaxxer parents, not only have their own lives placed at risk of catching diseases that were once almost eliminated, but also put the lives of others -- particularly those infants too young to be vaccinated -- in danger. Many die from these preventable diseases. Some sad stories of these tiny, unfortunate victims can be read here Shot by Shot.

There are so many, many stories coming to light that can delight or dismay us. It's up to us to do something about the ones that deserve our condemnation. And it's also up to us to share the good news and uplifting stories. After all, "What we focus on increases."

Peace, love, and joy,
Marilyn

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Keeping Up With My Family AND The Campaign

As a proud grandmother, I was thrilled when my son Matthew asked if I wished to see my youngest grandson, Travis, play in a South Texas PGA Junior Tour tournament that was held recently in Lakeway, Texas. He is 13-years old, and has been playing tournament golf for four years now. This past year he's been taking golf lessons once a week from a golf pro at a local Country Club. He plays mostly against 14- and 15-year-olds, who are larger than he is. However, he has placed in more than one tournament.. I believe he will eventually win a big one, as he keeps improving. I only saw the last 9 holes of his tournament. Even though his dad said he was a little off his game, I enjoyed every minute of watching him. He was so professional and serious about it, it was hard to remember him as the babe in arms I held once upon a time.

Here is a short video of Travis playing in the last tournament held in March at Berry Creek Country Club in Georgetown, Texas. His Uncle Craig said, "I wish I had his swing!"


Audrey & Rob

Granddaughter Audrey recently interviewed for what her mother called "her dream job" in Lake Tahoe. It is with an environmental firm, and if she gets the job, she will spend her first year in Lake Tahoe. Next she will be sent to Denver. Audrey's enthusiastic about it, so it must mean she will be doing a lot of field work -- which she really enjoys. The mountains will be big adventures as well! Here's hoping this works out for her. If she accepts it, she will be moving in May. I will miss having her close, but she's one of the millennials who is making a difference in our world. You go, girl!

Since moving to Austin, Audrey has played with the Central Texas Medical Orchestra, First Chair, Second Violin. Her mother came to hear her play in concert in February, and said it was magnificent. The proceeds from the concert went to the charity Wonders & Worries, which provides professional support for children through a parent's illness.

Audrey is to bring Rob for a visit next weekend. I have heard great things about him from her family.


Allison & Cameron

Grandson Cameron and "best friend" Allison performed a musical revue together at the Songbird Live theater in Cleburne, Texas this past Saturday night. They sang Broadway tunes for about an hour and a half. Allison, besides being beautiful, has a doctorate in music, teaches music in high school, and is planning to teach at the university level. She has sung professionally in operatic productions. What a perfect couple they make. I'm looking forward to Cameron bringing her to meet this Grandmama. In the meantime, Cameron continues to serve the Fort Worth Unitarian youth with exuberance. I know they are having a great time with the classes and outings he plans for them.

...


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Some of my readers might have noticed that I haven't posted anything on this blog in quite some time. I have been so upset over the campaign for the Presidency that every time I tried to write, something else disturbing would happen. I'm talking about the GOP campaign. Of course, I'm not the only one in the country who feels this way. Donald Trump is an embarrassment to our great nation. I don't feel he could ever win the Presidency, however, the fact that so many people are supporting him says something almost as disturbing. What kind of people would believe all the nasty, bigoted, downright stupid opinions he raves on about? Do they really believe as he says -- that he will build a wall to keep the Mexican immigrants out and make Mexico pay for it? How do they feel about repealing the Affordable Care Act? Many of these same voters were uninsured until its passage. On foreign policy, he says he "will totally dismantle Iran's global terror network".. He wants to bring back waterboarding and other means of torture.. He wants to ban all Muslims from entering the United States.. I could go on, but if you have a television you cannot have missed any of his narcissistic ravings.
(Getty Images)
But then, there is Ted Cruz. Senator Lindsey Graham hit the nail on the head when he said having to choose between Trump or Cruz was like choosing between "being shot or taking poison". Cruz and his followers are much more dangerous than Trump. His father Rafael, an evangelical Christian pastor who believes in a form of Christianity known as Dominionism, believes that "anointed Christians are destined to take over the government and create in practice, if not in official terms, a theocracy. Rafael Cruz also endorsed the evangelical belief known as the 'end-time transfer of wealth' - that is, as a prelude to the second coming of Christ, God will seize the wealth of the wicked and redistribute it to believers." "In 2013, several prominent Dominionist pastors at a ceremony in Iowa blessed and anointed Ted Cruz, rendering him, in their view, a 'king' who would help usher in the kingdom of Christ." Mother Jones      King Ted Cruz?

I'm sorry, but I have a hard time not thinking that the above two candidates for the most important job in the world are both a little nutty. And what does that make the many folks who vote for them?

Bring on Bernie or Hillary!!
(Nat'l. Progressive)

Peace,
Marilyn

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

A REPEAT POST

In light of the current political climate, and the campaign rhetoric we are bombarded with daily, I thought this might be as relevant (or more so) today as it was in 2014 when I published it on my other blog. So, here's a repeat of "When Did Liberal Become a Dirty Word?:

"..Jesus was the ultimate liberal progressive revolutionary of all history. The conservative religious and social structure that He defied hated and crucified Him. They examined His life and did not like what they saw. He aligned Himself with the poor and the oppressed. He challenged the religious orthodoxy of His day. He advocated pacifism and loving our enemies. He liberated women and minorities from oppression. He healed on the Sabbath and forgave adulterers and prostitutes. He associated with drunks and other social outcasts. He rebuked the religious right of His day because they embraced the letter of the law instead of the Spirit. He loved sinners and called them to Himself. Jesus was the original Liberal. He was a progressive, and He was judged and hated for it. It was the self-righteous religionists that He rebuked and He called them hypocrites.." This is an excerpt from an article on The Christian Left blog written by Gary Vance, (a Christian evangelical minister)Wasn't Jesus A Liberal?
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Excerpt from Bishop John Shelby Spong's (a retired Bishop of the American Episcopal Church) Manifesto:

(2006)
"..I do not debate any longer with members of the "Flat Earth Society" either. I do not debate with people who think we should treat epilepsy by casting demons out of the epileptic person; I do not waste time engaging those medical opinions that suggest that bleeding the patient might release the infection. I do not converse with people who think that Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans as punishment for the sin of being the birthplace of Ellen DeGeneres or that the terrorists hit the United Sates on 9/11 because we tolerated homosexual people, abortions, feminism or the American Civil Liberties Union. I am tired of being embarrassed by so much of my church's participation in causes that are quite unworthy of the Christ I serve or the God whose mystery and wonder I appreciate more each day. Indeed I feel the Christian Church should not only apologize, but do public penance for the way we have treated people of color, women, adherents of other religions and those we designated heretics, as well as gay and lesbian people."..

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We need more folks like Bishop Spong, et al, and fewer folks like Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. The candidates who espouse their Christian beliefs would do well to read what Bishop Spong has to say, and go back to their Bible and study the life and teachings of Jesus, as well as those he championed.


Some of the words and actions of my fellow Christians make me ashamed, and I am not the only one. I hope more of my LIBERAL friends will step up to the ballot box and change the face of this country. We no longer act like a "Nation Under God".

Proud to be called a liberal (I am in good company),

Marilyn

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

ON "SHELFIES"


"Selfies show the body. 'Shelfies' show the soul." ..Maggie Galehouse

I recently read a wonderful article Shelfies - I'll Show You Mine.. by dewtx on Daily Kos that reinforced my intention to keep all of my books. Having moved five times in the past 15 years, I had to leave a lot of books behind. Most of those were fiction.. (I really love crime fiction.) A lot were books from a book club that I discovered were not worth what I paid for most of them when I tried to sell them to a used book dealer. In recent years, when I wish to read fiction, I usually visit my local library. Recently, I sometimes turn to e-books. My older son has generously gifted me with gift cards to Barnes & Noble, so I will be adding to my cache of nonfiction.

The bookcase above is in my office/guest room, and the one to the right is in my bedroom. All of the books in my home are accompanied by many "little treasures" on the same shelves -- photos of my loved ones and often small gifts from family and friends. Like a lot of people, the little table beside my bed has more than a few books that I have not yet finished reading or that I am reading again.

In the article I mentioned at the beginning of this post, was the following quote by J. Frank Dobie that was published in a column in the Houston Post, Sunday, November 1, 1959:

"For me, no mere design in paint is as beautiful as a wall of books, some old, some new, some with paper jackets still on, some without jackets. The colors in a whole wall of books are multitudinous: the arrangements, infinite. A house without books is as undecorated as a Hollywood decorator could make it. ... It doesn't matter to me that I can't read all the books. I can only read an infinitely small fraction of them: indeed, only a small fraction of them do I want to read. But it is wonderful to have hosts of good books around, and it's wonderful to look at walls solid with shelves of books, books, books."

I have to agree with Mr. Dobie with an exception. I have read most of my books. The big coffee table books in my living room, shown at the right, are some I probably have not read completely, however, I obtained them mostly for reference. That I have done, especially when creating Indian art work.

The invention of the Internet has sadly put an end to reading by the younger generations. All three of my children are extremely well-spoken, and talented writers (when I can coax them to write!). I read to each of them when they were very young. Consequently, my oldest, Craig, taught himself to read at age 5. I started when the youngest, Matthew, was a babe in arms. At nap time, as soon as he could walk, he brought me a stack of his books he wanted read to him while I rocked him. My mother bought sets of books that he received once a month for years. By the time he was eight years old, I was told he had the vocabulary of a sixteen-year-old. He was winning spelling bees consistently as well. 
When his son Travis was about a year and a half, I visited frequently. He did the same thing with his books -- bringing them to me to read to him. I have to admit the reading had to be interspersed with watching DVDs of Nemo and Monster, Inc.  An eighth grader now, he and his little sister are both good students and read very well.. especially on their computers.
As the old saying goes, "Children will not always do what you say, but they will always do what you do." I hope the children of my grandchildren learn to read something other than the emojis on their smart phones, or posts on their Facebook page!

You can tell a lot about a person by the books or lack thereof in their homes. It can be fun to sneak a peek at the titles.

Love and good reading,
Marilyn

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year


And to all my family!




So many New Year toasts, wishes, and resolutions seem so commonplace and trite. I tried to think of something I haven't said or heard before. I found a site on the internet called Living Life Fully that contains much wisdom. I found this quote particularly meaningful and a challenge to me:

"Every new year people make resolutions to change aspects of themselves
they believe are negative. A majority of people revert back to how they were before, and feel like failures. This year I challenge you to a new 
resolution. I challenge you to just be yourself."

Sounds easy, doesn't it? However, how many of us know who our "real" self is? We wear so many faces and labels, depending upon different situations or people with which we find ourself or stories we might be telling, that sometimes it's difficult to define who we really are. Maybe that should be our New Year's resolution this year -- to find out who our "real" self is in all its intricacies, and love them all. 

Personally, I plan to get back to journaling on a regular basis. That and meditation. Both reveal aspects of yourself you may not know exist -- or have forgotten. While I'm at it, I think I'll drag out the box in my closet that's labeled "Journals" that go back to the 80s and 90s. They should contain some insight into the person I have become. I remember reading a book during the 1980s called "I Love The Person You Were Meant To Be". I don't remember the content, but the title alone is intriguing. I wonder if my old journals might show me how far I've come. Or how far I have to go to discover who I was meant to be. 

Or maybe I will discover that the "real" me wears those many faces and labels -- and it's okay.

Love and peace to you all in the coming New Year 2016,
Marilyn

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

For The Sake of Peace

Those of you who are, like I am, a fan of the TV series "Homeland", are also familiar with the actor Mandy Patinkin. A while back he was on my favorite morning "news" show, CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose. His views on the condition of what he calls the "world on fire" today were mesmerizing. One of his suggestions for a solution to the violence and many problems humanity faces was "what if we bomb these people with hope and opportunity" captured my attention... I believe you will be as moved as I was. His comments at about 5 minutes to the end will make you cry. I did.



Back in October I wrote on the blog The Impact of the Pope a list of religions represented in both houses of Congress. The majority were Christians, followed by Jews. Only a total of 18 called themselves as "other", "unaffiliated", or refused to answer. All religions of the world contain prayers for peace. Why is it we hear more politicians, and would-be politicians crying out for war..?

Our Christmas prayers nearly always contain prayers for "peace on earth". Here are a couple more beautiful such prayers.

Baha'i Prayer For Peace

Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the Real.
Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.
Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.
Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto all.
Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions.
May there be peace on earth.
May the waters be appeasing.
May herbs be wholesome, and may trees and
plants bring peace to all. May all beneficent
beings bring peace to us.
May thy Vedic Law propagate peace all
through the world.
May all things be a source of peace to us.
And may that peace come to me also.

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Zoroastrian Prayer for Peace

We pray to God to eradicate all the
misery in the world:
that understanding triumph
over ignorance,
that generosity triumph over indifference,
that trust triumph over contempt, and
that truth triumph over falsehood.

(FB.com)
Maybe all of us know one or more atheist. Like me, maybe you even pray for them. Many are kind and good-hearted -- more so than a lot of religious people. Even if they don't believe in prayer, many send out "good thoughts" when hearing of pain or sorrow in the world, and for the individuals who are caught up in such suffering. They volunteer and donate out of the goodness of their hearts. I like to believe that their kind, loving thoughts are just another form of prayer, which add to the positive energy of all the prayers we are sending to our Creator. I also like to believe that if enough of us do so, we will someday reach critical mass in the consciousness of all people in the world. Then there will be "peace on earth".
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Mystery Flowers

Last week I had a delightful surprise. The flowers pictured below were delivered to me with a sweet, sentimental note saying this person would be thinking of me and my family during the Christmas holidays. However, there was no sender's name. A call to the florist was of no help to me. They not only did not have the sender's name, but they also could not say if the order came from another city or state.
I just said "thank you" to the Universe, and enjoyed my colorful arrangement. Sadly, two days later one of the two lovely hydrangea blooms was drooping, and soon to die. I sent an email to the florist explaining that I thought it should have lived longer than two days. Shortly thereafter I received a call from their customer service department. The friendly young woman offered her apologies and asked if I would be home the following Monday so that they might bring a replacement. I was delighted, and never expected this result. I assumed they would be bringing me another hydrangea. Lo and behold (I must have been a very, very good girl this past year!), Monday morning I answered a knock on my door, and to my amazement, there was another beautiful little floral arrangement! (Freytag's Florist is the company.)
What a surprise! I now had two containers of gorgeous flowers to grace my dining table! I wish my next-door neighbor were at home. One of these might be perfect to share. As she lost a son a couple of months back, they would be a little bit of cheer.
Amidst all the tinsel, lights, and brightly wrapped packages, I hope you all have a bit of nature in your home this Christmas -- a live tree, poinsettias, or beautiful floral arrangements sent to you with love. And if you happen to be the generous person who sent these flowers to me, please let me know so I may thank you personally.

May your Christmas be merry, and full of

Love and Peace,
Marilyn