Monday, November 27, 2017

HERE WE GO AGAIN

In light of the imminent vote on the latest GOP tax plan, I remembered a blog post from 2014 that brought on a case of deja vu. Even though we have changed presidents, so much still remains the same. One difference is that there are probably more congressional members who are now millionaires!


What do you think? Have we changed much since then?


You know for what I was most thankful this past Thanksgiving? That Trump at least hasn't caused a nuclear war. Yet.

Peace,
Marilyn 

Saturday, November 18, 2017

SIMPLIFY


"Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind." — Thoreau

THE "BARN"
I have written many times about my many years living in a little two-room "barn" in the woods. It was a very simple, although sometimes labor-intensive, lifestyle compared to most of my other years. The first four years I cooked on a two-burner hotplate and a very small microwave oven. For some time I washed dishes in my bathtub. I know, yuck!  This did not deter me from having friends and family over. I'll never forget the day my sister Jean walked into the back room of the Barn and I heard her exclaim, "Oh! Goody, you have a kitchen sink!" (She always helped with the dishes when she visited.) Yes, I now could wash dishes without bending over my clawfoot bathtub. 

A few years down the road, someone donated an aging gas furnace, so I no longer had to depend on the small pot-belly woodburning stove and a kerosene heater for heat. As the house we were building at the front of our acreage was taking longer than we anticipated (and our love for one another was beginning to wane), I eventually had a secondhand washer and dryer installed as well as a gas stove to cook on. Many years down the road, my children gifted me with my first computer -- of course, I had dial-up internet service. Next came the time my son Matthew was frustrated at my old rotary dial telephone. He said I must be the only one in Texas to still use one. Of course, that meant I had to have a "push-button" telephone so he could check his messages on his new "cell" phone! (I'm not sure if that was the real purpose, as I can't figure out how that worked.)

Was I happier with a few more modern conveniences? No, although I was much happier without the husband when we split! 

"Too many activities, and people and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives, but the important as well."--- Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I acquired more, and was gifted with more, adding to the family "treasures" I had to keep in a storage building. When I moved out of my wooded refuge, I began to feel the pangs of "too much stuff". My current home - which I vow to be my last one - is bursting at the seams with all of my accumulated stuff.

My son Matthew had nearly all of the Christmas decor I had saved through the years stored in a unit he had filled with his late father's items. The rental recently got so high ($200 a month!) that he insisted he had to bring my "stuff" to me to go through or he would take them to Goodwill. Aaarrgghh.. I suffered withdrawal pains at that thought. The stack of containers and boxes sat in my kitchen/living room area for two weeks until Carajean generously offered me two "workdays" to help with their disposal... (Oh, I hated that word.) These items had been stored for nearly 5 years, but they were valuable to me.

CJ helped me go through all of the containers. So much I forgot I had - or why I kept them. I mean, who needs twenty cookie cutters -- many of which are duplicates? Goodwill received a huge donation just in time for holiday shoppers. I no longer have room for a large tree.. and can no longer climb to put  garlands and lights around the room. There were too many sentimental items I had to keep though. Like the Wise Men my mother made.. the little stuffed teddy bear and rocking horse ornaments I made (my kids already have a plethora of things I made).. and of course, my Santa Claus collection! Believe it or not, we went through that mountain of boxes, tossed, gave away, and combined them enough that Carajean was able to fit them into my already full storage closet! Now, if I can only dig enough out of there to decorate this Christmas!

The second workday was probably just as hard on Carajean, as she worked on plants she brought me, potting and repotting, sweeping, and positioning everything "just so" on my front porch. Not only did she brighten a little corner of my world physically, but her company for those two days brightened my life spiritually and emotionally. There is nothing to compare with spending time with your adult children as you are growing older.

As we approach the holidays.. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year, try to simplify your life by putting aside all of the "stuff" that takes up all of our time these days -- computers with high speed internet, cell phones, television and of course Netflix binge watching. Try doing less shopping, decorating, and party-throwing. Quality time spent with our loved ones is worth so much  more than all of the high-tech entertainment money can buy. You might just find that they are very interesting people.

And you don't need a cabin or barn in the woods to enjoy the simple life.

Peace and love,
Marilyn

Saturday, November 11, 2017

VETERAN'S DAY aka ARMISTICE DAY

Today is Veteran's Day, and also my birthday. When I was growing up, it was called "Armistice Day". In my younger years, if it fell on a weekday, I thought I got to skip school just because it was my birthday. Holidays were acknowledged on the actual date back then. Boy! my age is showing.

The following post I published on my high school class blog in 2008. Since that time things have changed in my life. I've made two long distance moves, and most importantly, I also lost my Dad in 2015. 

I still remember the day he shared his stories with me on his 90th birthday, as we sat in that Long John Silver cafe. I got to see a side of my Dad he'd never shown me before. And heard stories he never told me before. 

I remember following him around in our back yard when the war was over and he returned home. Not really understanding war, I pestered him with questions. He told me about a little Japanese girl about my age who had to take care of her baby brother. She carried him around in a bag on her back. Curious, and just knowing enough about war and guns, I asked him if he ever shot a Japanese child. I was only about 7 years old at the time, and it frightened me when he got angry at that question, and told me to stop asking questions and leave him alone.

I don't believe Dad ever got over the things he witnessed during the war. Especially the times he spent in Okinawa and Japan.

********************************




J.F.Moragne (2nd from left) May 1952
San Antonio, TX

November 4th ~ Election Day ~ happened to be my dad's 90th birthday. I made the 3-hour drive to Mineral Wells to spend the day with him, and to reminisce about his 90 years on this earth. My daughter wanted me to take him to lunch on her credit card, so I asked where he would like to eat. Of all places, his favorite is Long John Silver in Weatherford. As we got settled into our booth to eat, we chit-chatted a bit. Toward dessert, I made the comment that I don't know how he keeps from being a butterball the way he eats anything he wants -- especially fried foods, and never gains weight. He informed me that he weighed the same now that he did when he was 18 years old and boxing for the Army. 137 pounds!

That started my questions. I knew he had some kind of title, but not what. It seems he was Lightweight Boxing Champ for his Regiment at Ft. Sam Houston. Somewhere in all my boxes of photos and memorabilia are some better pictures than what I have put on the blog this time, but these will suffice. Sorry, Dad. Wish I had planned this sooner. The pictures below were taken during his first tour of duty with the U.S. Army. He joined when he was only 17 years old. I'm not certain what the "uniform" on the left was for, surely it was not regulation! During this time, Dad said he weighed every morning. He couldn't afford to gain a pound. He did not want to be bumped into the Welterweight Division! Those guys were big! 

He finished that three year stint, then married my mother and they had me and my sister before the Big War, WWII.

 
1st Tour of Duty ~ Ft. Sam Houston ~ Regimental Lightweight Boxing Champ

One thing led to another, and I remembered photos like these below from World War II. I think I mentioned in another blog that Dad never really wanted to talk about his war experiences when we were youngI thought this was a good time to ask. I knew he was a paratrooperbut didn't know the whole story. Really funny incidents took place when he was sent to Ft. Meade, Maryland waiting for deployment to the South Pacific. To entertain the soldiers, they held boxing matches. The winner would get a 3-day pass. Well, Dad's experience when he was a young soldier champion boxer served him well. He said he kept winning matches. He would have weekends off, then add on the 3-day pass for five days in a row. When he returned, he boxed for the next couple of days, won again, and again. He said the whole time he was there all he did was box and take leave.

Although Dad's Unit never made a combat jump, after paratrooper training in New Guinea they made a jump onto Okinawa, where they did a cleanup action on the caves in the mountains. Looking for anti-aircraft guns. They were there when the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Japanese surrendered. His Unit was the second one sent into Japan for the Occupation.
  
With Occupation Forces ~ Japan 1945
First Sergeant Jarvis F. Moragne

At this point Dad was naming the villages they covered in the mountains. Good memory for 90 years old! I really wished I had had a tape recorder so I could get this straight. They sent patrols into the villages to destroy all the guns. As Dad was the oldest in his group of men, he was given the noncom rank of First Sergeant.   Dad started grinning as he remembered how the Japanese didn't show any respect at all for the military unless they were officers. Noncoms didn't count. In order to get the cooperation of the villagers, the sergeants like my dad were given lieutenant bars to wear. He said as soon as the Japanese spotted bars on his shoulders, they began to bow and nod in deference to his "rank".

As you can see from the pictures, it was snowing heavily at the time they were there. At one village they met with the villagers at the public school. The village officials adamantly denied they had any guns at all. However, tracks in the snow led Dad and his men to the huge anti-aircraft gun they had just moved to hide from the Americans. He still laughs about that. The Kamikaze glider pilots trained in these same mountains, so another one of Dad's duties there was to destroy any of the gliders still around. They also went into the schools and looked for books on aerodynamics and destroyed them, too.

Suddenly Dad looked at me and said, "You know there were concentration camps there, too." Yes, I knew, because as a young child I had seen lots of photographs in his scrapbook of piles of pitiful looking bodies as well as bones and skulls. There were mass graves being dug in these pictures. Dad said only one of the camps had American POWs, and the first Unit to go into Japan released them and they were already gone when Dad's Unit arrived. There were four more -- all containing Chinese and Koreans in terrible physical condition. (Images of the Holocaust came to mind.) I said that must have been horrible! He looked at me and said, "Yes, but we had a job to do." (They had to release the prisoners and bury bodies.) I said, "What a terrible thing to witness at such a young age".. He proudly said, "I was 26 years old!" At that moment, I knew it was that young 26-year-old man in charge of men in their teens that spoke to me. "But Dad, think about it. Your grandsons are all older than that! You were just a kid!" He lowered his head, and those frail shoulders began to shake. I think for the first time, in that near empty fast food restaurant, my father allowed himself to feel what he really must have gone through at that terrible time. He and I both shed silent tears for that young man, who was strong and courageous for the sake of the younger men under his command at the time.
(Below) Master Sergeant Jarvis F. Moragne ~ 4th Army HQ ~ Ft. Sam Houston, TX
Exercise Long Horn ~ 3 April 1952


Dad was called up to serve his country one more time during the Korean Conflict. A small Army Reserve Unit in Bronte, Texas got him to join them - really against his wishes. Naturally, they were the first to be called up when fighting broke out. This time he spent his tour of duty at 4th Army Headquarters in Ft. Sam Houston, Texas. Although most of his work was Top Secret, I did learn many years later that he was one of only three Master Sergeants that General Eisenhower recruited to be on his staff when SHAPE was formed in Europe in 1951. My mother threw such a fit because we couldn't join Dad for a year (I think it was in Paris), that he turned it down. Of course, it also meant he would have had to sign on for more years of duty. He was anxious by now (at 33) to start his own business.

I know you all could tell stories of your fathers' military service to our country, and many of you have your own stories to relate. Here's a salute to all of them and all of you! We honor you. We love the soldiers, but I think we all can agree, we hate the wars!



HAPPY 90TH BIRTHDAY, DADDY!

I'd like to close this with a quote I stole from my son Craig's blog:

"The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood." ~ Molly Ivins

Nor our husbands' nor our fathers'..
Marilyn

Thursday, October 26, 2017

A PERFECT FALL DAY

Sometimes it takes so little to feel joy bubble up. A short trip to the hairdresser to get my hair cut for the first time in months left me feeling pounds lighter. In the company of my daughter, I relished the Mexican food lunch at a nearby restaurant.

Going to and from these places we both commented on the large splashes of yellow along the roadside. I was missing all of the wildflowers I used to have when I lived in my "barn" in the country. In season, I always had them brightening the interior of my little home in the woods. Carajean delighted me by pulling to the side of the road and gathering enough flowers for a bouquet, which she arranged along with some mountain laurel leaves from the bush outside my front porch. Two days later, these tiny yellow drops of color cheer my kitchen area.

As we approached my road to home, I told her to go straight instead of turning as usual. She had not been to the low water crossing bridge beneath the dam. We stopped on the bridge and there in the middle of the water sat this glorious bird on a pile of rocks. I at first thought it was a crane. CJ pulled out her handy iPhone and snapped a photo.  I cannot explain the feelings of awe at the wonders of nature I experienced that day. (My granddaughter, Audrey, later informed us this is a Great Blue Heron.)
Such a perfect day so far. Not ready to end our visit, Carajean suggested we play a game of 5-count dominoes. As we began our game, she pulled out the best surprise ever -- the most decadent chocolate candy bar. We both indulged, and I suppose my joyful mood assisted me in winning the game. (She assured me later that she did not let me win!)

We had a little lesson on Native American spirituality as well that afternoon. It will be so fun to be able to share this with her in the future as she explores the books I sent home with her. Her best friend is also interested in some of the teachings, so this will be something new for them and us to experience together.

I never asked CJ if she enjoyed the day as much as I did, but I certainly hope she did. We haven't lived in close proximity in many years. I am looking forward to more Mother-Daughter days like this. 

Enjoy your family!

Peace and love,
Marilyn


Sunday, October 15, 2017

GUNS IN AMERICA

Long-time good friend, Jack Garner stays so busy writing letters to the Editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle they ought to give him his own column. After the recent deadly massacre in Las Vegas, he wrote this which they published:
"Addictive Sense of Power"
Fifty-nine people dead; over 500 injured. Even in your worst nightmares, did you believe such an occurrence could materialize? Fifty-nine people dead and more than 500 injured.

Did this horror melt the icy hearts and bulging pockets of the Washington political establishment? How heartrending that elected House and Senate members have declared this is not the time to publicly discuss gun control!

If the NRA has them in their money-lined pockets, there will be no political discussion of gun control.

While they wait for that mythical time, bump stocks that allow semi-automatic rifles to fire like fully automatic rifles are selling faster than Trump can commit another political faux pas.

After all the bloodletting in Las Vegas, why would a sane person pay triple the price that bump stocks have jumped to after their potential power was publicized with the eradication of innocent life.
Truth is, the "gun nut" who will spare nothing to raise the cash to turn weapons in their  collection into the equivalent of a submachine gun, may have a mental problem.

He does not intend to hunt deer, rabbits or squirrels with a fully automatic rifle. He releases their destructive power at gun ranges.

"Jack"
Perhaps you have a mental problem if the sound of guns popping, the smell of gunpowder in your nostrils, and the recoil digging into your shoulder gives you an addictive sense of power, which in turn makes you feel more like a man.

John Nance Garner, V

If not now....when? Gun control for a safer America!

Peace,
Marilyn

Thursday, October 12, 2017

1984 or North Korea?

I was shocked to learn that The Wall Street Journal is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. Not that I read its online news that often, but occasionally I find a particular story interesting. I have always had a nagging feeling that their views were more than a little biased. In recent months it has been quite obvious to me that many of their articles sound like FOX News. Thus, I did a little research and found out why. Rupert Murdoch. They are a bit more subtle than FOX, however, that tends to be dangerous in my estimation. I nearly always check on new sites I've never heard of before, as well as those that sound too biased one way or the other.

The older I get, the more set in my ways I become. I have favorites of everything from my brands of coffee and creamer to the television programs I watch. I almost memorize my favorite channels and their lineup of shows. As I no longer get out and about like I used to, I am always home on Sundays. Consequently, I have watched the same programs on the same network channels for several years now. A few months back I was shocked one Sunday morning when a favorite religious program I normally watched was not on. I switched channels to see if I had inadvertently hit a button that changed it. No.. I listened for a bit, and thought my gosh! I was listening to a FOX News commentator. Not possible. I immediately got online and searched the TV Listings. Sure enough, my regular program had been displaced. This irritating woman named Sharyl Attkisson had her own conservative-leaning, thirty-minute show, pushing my regular, positive speaking, uplifting church service to the next half hour. I angrily muted the audio and vowed to research online later that day to find out what was going on.

Image result for you ain't nothin but a hound dogMost of my readers know by now that I am a progressive liberal in my political views. It took many, many years for my "progression", as when I was young I called myself a Republican -- and voted that way as well. Nixon's humiliation and downfall was the beginning of my disenchantment, although it was still several years before I finally admitted I was not aligned with the GOP. Having been fooled into believing a lot of nonsense (most put out by The John Birch Society) when I was very young, and since now having such wonderful access to many, many differing opinions on the internet, and ways to check from whence they come, I can now recognize extremist views like a hound dog on a 'coon's trail! I gave up cable news long ago, and now get only broadcast over-the-air news as well as online news.

It turns out that the local CBS station had been sold to the second-largest television station operator by number of stations in the U.S., and the largest by total coverage. Wikipedia on Sinclair Broadcast Group. Their reach is magnified by the number of digital multicast networks, one cable network, and four radio stations. 

I wrote my first draft of this post when I first noticed the change in my TV programming. I next began to see messages in my local CBS newscast that again sounded like FOX News, with a very definite right-wing slant. One of the commentators I discovered was Mark E. Hyman. Back to the internet again. FOX News Rival Seems Mr. Hyman was a former Sinclair Broadcast executive who now is a commentator for the segment "Behind the Headlines", shown on all Sinclair outlets. I was angry to hear his conservative propaganda. More research and more editing of this post followed.

Sometimes, as most older women do, I wake in the middle of the night. After the obligatory trip to the bathroom, I often cannot go right back to sleep, so I turn on the TV in my bedroom. Imagine my surprise to find that not only was the "Behind the Headlines" segment shown on late night, but once I found that they were repeating the entire 30-minute program of Sharyl Attkisson's that airs on Sunday morning. (I later read somewhere that, although Sinclair demands that his "propaganda" pieces like the above, and the fearmongering "Terror Alert Desk" be aired so many times in a day, some stations sneakily air them late at night or other "low viewer" times like 2- or 3-AM. I have a feeling they won't get away with that forever.)

When I read that Sinclair was attempting to purchase the Tribune Media Company, it would increase his holdings to 233 stations in 108 markets, of course, I went back to the internet. When I found the following video, I felt I wanted to share this. It's rather lengthy, so if you want to save it until later, be sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post.  (NOTE: I'm sorry to say that I did not watch John Oliver's video to the end before I posted it here. Unfortunately, profanity of the worst kind is now considered acceptable in our society -- especially since we have such a profane president. Even though Oliver's segment on Sinclair was absolutely correct and necessary, the PBS video at the end of this post covers part of his tirade without the profanity. Their coverage of what I consider a very important subject for the American public is complete and accurate. You can watch the entire Oliver video on YouTube.)           John Oliver on Sinclair Group

"If completed, Sinclair will control a whopping 233 TV stations that reach 72 percent of U.S. households. The transaction, which includes Tribune Media's 42 stations, radio station WGN-AM and other assets, is being reviewed by the Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department's antitrust unit." Big Problems with Sinclair-Tribune Deal

The news reports online state that the chairman of the FCC, a January Trump appointee, Ajit Pai, has been shaking up the department and making it easier for corporations to command a majority of stations by eliminating many initiatives from the past. The Sinclair Group announced its intention to purchase the Tribune shortly after the relaxing of the rules.

Green dots: Stations owned  by Sinclair
Orange dots: Stations owned by Tribune
Sources: Company websites | Note: Only primary TV stations are counted. NYTimes

My kids often tease me about being such a worry wart. When I first noticed what was going on with the Sinclair takeovers, I felt maybe I was being a little paranoid. However, the more I researched, the more I found others were feeling the same as I do -- that our freedom of the press is in danger. Sinclair's monopoly, control, and methods of assuring his conservative (pro-Trump) messages are given priority wherever possible sound more and more like an attempt to control the media as it is done in totalitarian governments around the world.

I nearly always watch the 5 o'clock local news followed by network news. As soon as that hour is passed, I tune in to my most trusted news source, The PBS Newshour. As the hour progressed, I was playing a game of solitaire when my ears perked up as I heard the following segment. I was thrilled to hear everything I had been researching being validated by so many reliable sources. I am not alone anymore. (By the way, this is not the same as the John Oliver video above, although it shows a brief portion of it.)


With everything the Trump administration, along with the GOP-controlled House and Senate, has been eliminating it's hard to recognize the democracy we once knew as the United States of America. 

If FOX News and the Russian Facebook ads truly did sway the election - especially targeting the vulnerable states, what would the takeover of the content of so many other outlets do to those who only listen and not do the homework to discover the who and what motives are behind it?

What to do?

Peace and awareness,
Marilyn

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Open Your Hearts

In light of the recent terrible losses of people who lived in the path of both Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, it helps to remind ourselves how fortunate we are if we are among the lucky ones who escaped their fury. 

As I saw the total devastation of so many homes and businesses in Texas, in Florida, and on so many Caribbean islands, all I could think of is how much the people still have to suffer to regain some semblance of a normal life. The lack of basic needs such as food, water, and utilities only make more complicated the work of cleaning out, rebuilding, and replacing their personal belongings. Governments can only do so much. These people need our help. If you wish to donate and are not sure where to start, this site, Charity Navigator, will point the way. It not only lists the organizations already in existence and onsite in most cases, it rates them according to their efficiency. You will know how wisely your money is being spent. 

As we view our many blessings, let us open our hearts and pocketbooks to help the victims.


Oh God, when I have food, help me to remember the hungry;
When I have work, help me to remember the jobless;
When I have a warm home, help me to remember the homeless;
When I am without pain, help me to remember those who suffer;
And remembering, help me to destroy my complacency and bestir my compassion.
Make me concerned enough to help by word and deed; those who cry out for what we take for granted.
Amen - -Samuel F. Pugh


Love our neighbors,
Marilyn