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

Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Triumph of Evil?


The recent actions in Charlottesville and the subsequent comments by our President have created so much backlash that it is difficult to say anything more without it being repetitive. One thing in particular I didn't hear - of course, I may have missed it - is that if the rally had not been so highly publicized in advance, there would not have been anyone there to protest against the hateful groups. Of course, the KKK, the neo-Nazis, and the White Supremacists wanted the publicity. That way, their numbers might increase each time they congregate. With their current seeming acceptance, if not encouragement, by the President they continue to get bolder and more military-like in their appearances. I also think the huge media coverage of their events encourages them as well. 

I was reminded of an incident in Denton, Texas in the summer of 1993 or 1994. My best friend Carol and I met at my Barn, along with her gentleman friend at the time. We had heard there was to be a Ku Klux Klan rally in the Civic Center Park (later named Quakertown Park) that afternoon. We made our "peace" and "love" signs, stapled them to wooden posts, and set off to show the Klan that love could overcome their hate-filled rhetoric. I ran across an article presented for a Master of Science Thesis by a University of North Texas student, Gary Ray Webb in August 1994. In part, he wrote about the Klan rally:
"Female keynoting significantly differed (from the males). As the rally began, a group of 4 protestors, 3 of them female, arrived with signs in hand. Two of the females, dressed in clothing reminiscent of the 1960's, stood near the center of the crowd, singing peace songs. At one point during the rally, 6 of the 8 people bearing anti-KKK signs were female." 
Quakertown Park by Glenn McLain
It was a large crowd, considering one they held earlier in Grapevine was cut short due to lack of interest. There were enough angry, aggressive anti-Klan people attending that if it were held today, there would probably have been some sort of violence. The speakers were often completely drowned out by not only shouts from some in the audience, but my friends and I got others to join in singing loudly with us, "Let There Be Peace On Earth" and "Love is the Only Power". I don't think all of the speakers had their chance to be heard before they gathered themselves together, looked at us with disgust, and with their police escort exited the area. Police had the foresight to have them park very close to the rally space, so they didn't have to walk the gauntlet except for a short distance. The only violent acts we witnessed were one young black man hit one of the Klan members in the face before he was stopped by police, and another one spit a huge amount of something red on a Klansman's white shirt. We continued singing as they drove off. 

Some churches in the area chose to hold a type of peaceful prayer service rather than attend the rally. Their thinking was that it was better to ignore them. I fear that that way of dealing with the Klan and other hate groups has been instrumental in the growth of such groups in recent years.  A good article regarding "Silence=Complicity" was written by Kevin Curry, a blogger at The Admitted Liberal . I urge you to hear his voice on the subject. I'm not advocating violent resistance at all, but there must be a way to show their rallies are not welcome other than resorting to violence. I like to think that a loving presence such as the one shown by many of us, kept the aggressiveness at bay.
(ABC News)
The Klan members who spoke that day had done their best to appear like ordinary, upstanding citizens. The men were dressed in business suits, and the women in dresses. They were not accompanied by anyone carrying signs or flags.. or dressed in any kind of uniform. There were young, clean-cut men handing out brochures of some kind to those who would take them. Looking back, this seems scarier than the marchers we saw at Charlottesville.. armed and carrying Nazi and Confederate flags. At least one was able to tell who the "bad guys" were.

There was an element of religious leaders present in Charlottesville holding the peace -- and probably praying during the rally. And last night, thousands of people gathered to hold a peaceful candlelight vigil, marching along the same route as the white nationalists, carrying torches, had used days before. They were "showing up" against racism, bigotry, and hatred. Sooner or later, this kind of resistance will surely make a big difference. And we will triumph over evil.
("Blessed are the peacemakers.." Matthew 5:9 KJV)

Let peace begin with me... and you... and you... and you!
Marilyn

Thursday, August 3, 2017

PLANNING HER FUTURE

The older my grandchildren get, the harder it is to keep up with all of their activities. I'm always curious about the ones in high school or college. They can change their minds frequently about their plans for the future, and this grandmother likes to be "in the know". 

Ashlyn is the middle child of my daughter Carajean and her husband Branch. She has been something of a social butterfly most of her young life. I could always count on a good story from her mother about her antics. I also resort to questioning Carajean about Ashlyn's college life and courses. This time I enlisted her help in getting Ashlyn to slow down long enough to let me know about her busy, busy life. She will be a Senior at Oklahoma State University this fall, and has been working most of this summer. I was thrilled when I got the following. The first part is a speech she gave at her best friend's wedding. I would have loved to hear this in person.

Maid of Honor Speech
"First off, I’d like to say how happy I am to be here to celebrate this beautiful couple. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Ashlyn, and 16 years ago I met a really loud, crazy little girl whom I didn’t know at the time, would be my lifelong best friend. 

The first time Channing ever came over to my house, my mom had made us dinner. She asked Channing what she would like to drink and Channing, being the impressionable little 5-year-old that she was, responded in her raspy voice, “I’ll have whisky on the rocks”. Obviously, she had no idea what whisky on the rocks was, and of course my mom gave her orange juice. This is just one of many examples of how she has brought my family and myself endless laughter and joy over the years. 

Channing and I have been through many phases of life together. From my parents saying we weren’t allowed to be friends anymore (for reasons some of you may know and some of you should be glad you don’t), to being the most loving and supportive friend I could ever ask for during all kinds of change, loss, and heartbreak. I am extremely lucky to know Channing. Ever since we were kids she has always shown so much compassion for people, whether she realized it or not. It has always been in Channing’s nature to care for people, but just in this past year, the amount of change I have seen in her is incredible. 


Ashlyn, Nimbus, Channing
There was a time when I felt like I was out of touch with myself, and I felt like I was drowning in a sea of self-doubt. Channing looked me right in the eye and told me 'Ash, I know who you are. Don’t think for a second that you are alone, because I am here. It’s okay to not be okay, but just know that this is not forever.' This was a defining moment in our friendship, and in my life. Those words were so comforting, and impactful.

They say that you are friends with people that you want to be like, and I can 100 percent agree with that statement because not only is she the life of the party and can light up any room she enters, but because she is the most intentional person I know. I believe there is something we can learn from everyone, but I think there are so many things we can learn from Channing. She knows herself, and inspires people to get to know themselves. She unknowingly shows God’s love by example every single day, and I can honestly say she started a change in me ever since that day she spoke.

I remember when she met Josiah, Channing told me, 'Ash, he might be the one', and I have to admit, I thought 'oh that’s just Channing being Channing... she will be over him in a couple of months' (sorry Josiah). In my defense, Channing has always been intense... she feels intensely, she loves intensely, and I had to learn to take what she said with a grain of salt at times. Boy, was I wrong. Ever since she let herself love and be loved by Josiah, I have never seen her any happier. I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but the girl glows… As if she could be any more beautiful. Their love is so real, and so contagious. Seeing them together has given me the courage to refrain from settling… both in love and in life. 

I’ve had little time with Josiah, but it didn’t take long for me to know that he loves Channing. People say that it is important to marry someone that brings out the best in you. I believe it is evident that they bring out the best in each other, and I have complete faith that God molded Channing and Josiah for each other. I couldn’t have picked anyone better for us to spend the rest of our lives with. And I say 'ours', because we are a package deal. They don’t know this, but I’ve been looking forward to our trip to Cancun for weeks now. I wish I was being serious... unfortunately, I have to let her go, but I know she is in good hands. 

Congratulations Channing, and Josiah. I wish an endless amount of happiness, patience, and love for the both of you."

************************************
Ashlyn continues:
"This summer has been one of my favorite summers that I have had in a long time. I spent 4-weeks shadowing various PAs (Physician's Assistants) and nurse practitioners in different departments throughout the BSA Hospital system. I am also taking two online classes one of which is forensic psychology, and the other is one that monitors my shadowing hours. I really enjoyed shadowing, and have made the decision to officially pursue a career as a PA. I really enjoyed working in the ER. I think I need something fast paced, and more hands on than clinical work. A couple of months ago I was really upset because I didn't know if I wanted to be a PA, and had the urge to get my Masters in Psychology. I wanted to be a therapist. I thought my personality was better suited as a therapist, because all of my friends tend to come to me if they need someone to listen, but I quickly realized that I don't think my heart can handle being a therapist.

Kappa Alpha Theta
I leave next Friday for Stillwater. (She attends OSU). I have rush for my sorority a week before school starts. I am going to be in 16-hours next semester, so it definitely will not be easy. I'm in Nutrition Pathophysiology of Chronic Disease and Human Metabolism I, which will be my toughest classes.

I am planning on graduating in May 2018, and moving back to Amarillo to work for a nurse practitioner I met here in Amarillo. I want to be a CNA, which is a Certified Nursing Assistant. I am doing this instead of jumping into PA school, because they require hands on experience, which I thought was stupid at first, but I am actually beginning to appreciate. I want to love what I do, and don't want to jump into anything too fast. 

These are just future plans, but I've realized that there are just some things in life I can't control, so who knows what will happen. I'm just going to try the best that I can, and go from there. I'm really nervous/excited for the challenges I'm about to face. My life is about to change a lot in this next year, but I'm going to try my very best to just embrace the change, and see that so much good can come out of change. I've always known I am very blessed and live a great life, but this summer I have realized that I am so extremely thankful for my family and friends. My parents have provided a life for me that a majority of people don't get, and I am going to do everything I can to make them proud."

*****************************************************
Oh, my sweet Ashlyn, you have already made them prouder than you can ever imagine. You make your "Fancy Grandmommy" pretty darn proud as well! I see a wonderful life ahead of you... You can do anything you want to with your many gifts and talents. The speech you wrote is so moving and beautifully written, you might even do some writing in your future.

Love, pride, and gratitude for all the children in my life,
Marilyn

Thursday, July 27, 2017

IMAGINATION

Audrey
Two little girls were playing in the yard. One was holding a tin can, stirring small pebbles in it with a stick. The other little girl asked her what she was stirring. She answered, "Beans." "Those aren't beans! They're rocks," said the other little girl. "Just use your imagination," answered Audrey, my oldest granddaughter.

She had a wonderful imagination as a child. While I don't think she was in need of "beans", she was probably manifesting other parts of her future with her delightful antics. Always eager to put on a "show" for the adults in her life, she often danced and acted out her favorite songs and videos of the day. I will never forget the time when she was about three years old. She picked up a small brass horn I had, and using it as her microphone, climbed to the middle of my bed, began jumping, and started singing "Ten Little Monkeys Jumping On a Bed".

Audrey is all grown up now, and working with EDF (Environmental Defense Fund) as a Habitat Exchange Program Specialist. She is also extremely talented as a musician and dancer. These are not her profession, but they still bring much joy into her life as she performs in an orchestra as well as enrolls in dance classes as time permits. I'll bet her tender heart also played a huge part in choosing her profession in environmental causes.

Imagination. What a wonderful tool to have if we know how to use it properly.

One night this week I heard Stephen Colbert interview an actress who has won two Tonys for her acting on Broadway. (Sorry, I don't remember her name.) What caught my attention was her answer when he asked her if she always expected to be a winner. She told him that when she was young, she aspired to performing on Broadway. At age 15, she would use her hairbrush as a microphone, stand in front of her mirror, and practice a speech thanking everyone for her Tony award.

 A couple who attended Unity with me many years ago had married after 
meeting at church and dating for awhile. The woman told me that she was envisioning the "love of her life" for quite some time before they met. She said she would dance alone in her living room, holding her arms up as if she were holding onto a partner. When they met, and when they shared their first romantic dance, she knew her vision had materialized. Sounds a little crazy, huh? Read on.


Someone very close to me.. my late sister Jean, did something similar when she was young. She told me that when she was unhappy, she would dress in something very lovely, pour Tab (a diet Coke at the time) into a champagne glass, and pretend she was sipping champagne, and waiting on her date with a man who would love her and shower her with all the good things she wanted out of life. And you know what? She realized that dream when she met and married her husband, Mike. They had a wonderful life together. Early on, he was so in love he asked her to make a list of everything material that she wanted out of life, and he promised to fulfill it. He did that and more. The list even included frivolous things like a mink coat. I don't know if she ever wore it. Mike never knew about her pretense of being well-off and in love with someone like him when she was younger. It took quite a few years for that to come about, but it did. Was it magic?

It is nearing the anniversary of my sister Jean's death, so stories and pictures of her keep coming to mind. This one is at what we always called The Barn - a structure my former husband built for us to live in temporarily while he built our permanent home on the same property. It was built with a package of lumber from Payless that they termed a barn. Little did I realize at the time that it would be my home for nearly 20-years, thirteen of those years I lived there alone with my little dogs and many cats to keep me company. During that time I often referred to it as my Walden Pond -- without the pond. Lots of happy memories of those years spent in The Barn.

The two-room Barn was filled comfortably with antiques, a wood-burning stove, and lots of furniture and family mementos collected through the years. The one thing it didn't have that I really wanted/needed was a real desk. I fashioned one out of a couple of two-drawer metal file cabinets (white - this is important) and the rectangular-shaped top to a card table (blue) I laid across them. This was positioned in the large back room of the Barn so that each time I walked to the door, I would glance over and look at it. I used this for several years, always thinking I needed a real desk.

One day my son Matthew called and said, "Mom, how would you like a desk?" It seems the apartment manager where he lived was getting rid of furniture that had been left behind by tenants. There was a small desk, and Matthew brought it to me. As he got out of his car he told me I might not like the color, and he would take it back if I didn't. I knew immediately what it would look like. I said, "It's blue and white, isn't it?" He looked surprised. And, of course, that's what it was.


The small desk indeed had a blue top with two white drawers down one side. The only difference was my makeshift desk had two file drawers on each side. We both got a big laugh at this. I realized that my constant viewing of the old desk was accompanied by the thought, "I've got to get a new desk". The picture in my mind was very close to the manifested new desk. I told myself that I should have pictured a pretty antique oak desk!

By now, you might be familiar with the Law of Attraction that I am writing about. We've all heard the expression, "Be careful what you wish for." That's easy to do when we are consciously wanting certain things in our life -- a new car, perhaps a new home, or even a new baby or pet. However, it's the unconscious thoughts or wishes we must be careful to control. Especially our hateful or negative thoughts. If we are constantly thinking of things or people or experiences we do not like or want, the energy we put into those thoughts can, and often will, manifest those very things in our lives.

(Sometimes I believe it was the collective thinking of millions that got our current President elected. Maybe we should be concentrating on having someone new - and saner -- in the White House. All together now... )

********************************************************
When my daughter Carajean's son, Tanner, was about 11-years old, his imagination took the form of homemade videos. As he showed a talent for it, his dad Branch took him one summer to a week-long seminar on the art and techniques of making videos. The ones that he created afterwards were so good that it was hard to believe someone that young could have made them. He cloned himself in many. Because I loved them, I often shared them with friends, and bragged on him.

Tanner just graduated from high school in May, and for a Senior English assignment, he and some of his cousins and friends made the following "film noir" of Shakespeare's classic "Hamlet". I was so impressed, I asked for permission to post it.


This was filmed in my daughter's home, and the cast of characters is as follows: 
Ace Detective Prince Hammy - Jorden Hix
Polonius and referee- Tanner Archer
Claudius and Ophelia- Race Schaeffer
Horatio - Holden Archer
Gertrude - Jewel Goodfellow

Tanner wears the plaid hat and mustache very well! Oh, and by the way, it's not surprising that they made a grade of 100 on this project, is it?

Tanner will attend the University of Texas this fall. Even though he is very interested in the environmental sciences just like his older sister Audrey, I wouldn't be surprised if he is enticed by Austin's artistic, musical, and filmmakers' venues. (He is also a very talented cellist.) Who knows, maybe he will someday be another Al Gore, and make wonderful movies that will be instrumental in saving the environment as well.

********************************************************
If you will look back over your own life, you might be surprised at the things that happened to or for you that were something you had desired or dreamed of at an earlier time.  Tell me about them.

Peace, love, and sweet dreams,
Marilyn

STAYING CONNECTED


I love hearing from friends via email. No matter the distance, time seems to collapse as I read their messages, and we are once again together, chatting over things important or insignificant. I am blessed with communication from family and friends near and far away. Some I haven't seen in over 35 years, but the memories of their friendship are still fresh and alive. I may not remember all the little details, but I always remember the loving, joyful emotions that accompanied us on our friendship journey. And what fun continuing these friendship connections through modern communication means.

In one of my recent devotionals, the subject was how "every particle is connected to every other particle in the universe." That reminded me of an experience I had when I first started studying metaphysics and learning to meditate. One night I was awakened from a dream that stayed with me to this day. In my dream, I was walking among a large crowd of people. I was amazed to see what looked like white arcs of a cloud-like substance that connected all of us from the tops of our heads! Most seemed oblivious to this phenomena, however, I thought I was supposed to see this as a teaching experience. Proof of our connectedness?

 (Claudia Rogge - a famous photo artist from Dusseldorf)

Needless to say, no photo exists that shows the arcs that connected us in my dream. However, this artist has some remarkable photos that demonstrate our connectedness in unique ways. I found this on a Russian site, believe it or not. All Day Plus The site really looks interesting. When I have time, I will go back and review it.

When I really want to get "woo woo", as my son Craig calls it, I like to think that not only are we all connected to each other, but to everything on this planet, and everything's made of the same "stuff". I don't mind having the same quantum level makeup as a vegetable. That's why they are so good for us. By the same token, if I am the same as the animals on this planet, would that make me a cannibal for eating meat? (Oh, no, my vegan daughter will jump on this observation.) Sometimes I feel like I have the same quantum level makeup as a rock. Do you ever feel that way?

I realize that this is a screwy - and probably inaccurate way to speak of quantum anything. But recently I sent off for my DNA testing to get a better idea of just "what" it is that makes me me. Can't get much more quantum than that!
*********************************************************

In today's world, if one is as blessed as I am with almost everything in the electronic world that I can possibly want - or understand, it is easy to maintain various connections with others, but difficult to find enough time in the day to make use of all our "toys" that do so. I've had a desktop computer for many years now. Although it has been tedious at times to learn enough to do the things I wish to do with it, I can now:
  • Search the web for anything under the sun that I wish to know.. the world's largest encyclopedia of knowledge at my fingertips. I have a great Ad Blocker that Matthew installed, but I also know how to search "incognito", thus fooling the advertisers or any other nosy entity who wishes to snoop on my viewing habits. Not that I view anything I wouldn't want found out. I'm too prudish for that!
  • Print out any texts or photos with my laser printer...from recipes to family history, newspaper articles, emails, and letters to keep.
  • Scan and save photographs from my own or others' collections in my possession, and save them to one or more places on my computer. The scanner is another electronic time consumer of mine that I wouldn't want to do without.
  • Create and maintain two blogs that I publish when I have the time and the inclination/inspiration.
One can always watch movies or listen to music on a PC. However, my children have gifted me with better options. First it was ROKU, which allowed me to watch Netflix and other movies, TV, and news programs on my television. Most are viewed without annoying commercials. (It came with its own "box" and remote control.) I could also choose the kinds of music I want to listen to on Pandora through my ROKU. I connected my old stereo to the TV in the living room to enhance the music through the speakers.

Image result for Amazon Fire Sticks
Last Mother's Day son Matthew gifted me with two Amazon Fire Sticks that take the place of ROKU. They do everything and more that ROKU did - plus Amazon's and Hulu's original TV shows and movies. There is so much on there one could subscribe to, it takes forever just to scan through the lists! I have one in my living room and one in the bedroom. One even has the feature like Alexa that lets me ask for whatever I want to view. If they have it, it shows up! These plug into the television sets, come with remotes, and use WiFi to work. (Of course, one must sign on to Amazon Prime to use these. Another gift from Matthew, I am on his account.)

As a home telephone, somehow Matthew hooked my phones up to a system through my WiFi and Google for a low price of around $10 a year. This does everything a regular landline does.. voice mail, unlimited calls anywhere in the world (I think -- haven't tried international calls yet), and more. Missed calls, voice mails, etc. are transferred to my computer and stored there. The only drawback - if my internet connection drops, which it does frequently lately with the new service provider Spectrum (don't use them if you have a choice!), you might lose the call. As I don't use the telephone very often, that isn't much of a problem. I also have a small (free - my sons tease me and call it an Obama-phone) cell phone to use in an emergency or when I was driving. I can even text on it if need be. I have adamantly refused an iPhone.



Related imageMy favorite electronic "gadget" is the small android tablet seen here. It is a little larger than a smart phone, and I can do nearly everything on it that I can on my PC. There is even an app that allows me to take telephone calls "face-to-face" if I wish. I don't use that as I'm often in my pajamas nearly all day. And vain female that I am, since I no longer wear makeup every day, I certainly don't want to let anyone see my face that close up! Therefore, I use the text option more often. I can take and send and save photos and videos with it. Record voices or sounds. View and answer emails, search the web, and my favorite, read the news sites throughout the day. As I don't have cable TV, I can stay up-to-date with the latest. There are apps for everything (but could quickly put way too much data on there), and I play solitaire when commercials come on my broadcast TV. My favorite pastime throughout the day and night is to play Words With Friends - a type of Scrabble. The tablet has sounds to alert me when messages or games appear ready for me. It also has a Google feature that will answer questions similar to Alexa.

If I need to type something very lengthy and don't have access to my PC, my granddaughter Audrey bought me the neatest "keyboard" that I can rest the little tablet on, use blue ray, and !voila! - a miniature computer!

How's that for staying "connected"?


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Before closing, I want to share the following award that was issued to my
youngest grandson, Matthew Travis Rider, who turned 15 last month. Not only has he thrilled us with his accomplishments in golf in recent years -- making the high school golf varsity team this coming semester,  making the A and B Honor Roll consistently, but he also participates in volunteer work with both his church group and the Young Men's Service League, the Viper Chapter.

(Update, July 28: Travis's dad Matthew informed me that it was only 70 hours of volunteer work. Sorry.) Travis put in over 70 hours of volunteer work last year. This is "The President's Volunteer Service Award", issued under the Points of Light Award program, started by President George H.W. Bush in 1993. It celebrates "The power of the individual to spark change and improve the world". Way to go, Travis! Another of my grandchildren on his way to changing the world for the better. God bless.

Peace and Love,
Marilyn