Monday, July 27, 2009

Literary Critters?

"What's that racoon, mommy?"

My 8 year old daughter was working at her little desk beside me, when she uttered this question very quietly. I got up from my desk and walked over to look at her artistic creations displayed across her work space.

“What’s that, honey? What did you say?”

“That racoon...I am trying to remember it because I want to put it on this paper.”

Completely confused, I just stood there looking at her colorful papers, the cut-outs, the glitter, the stickers, looking for some clue as to what she meant. The only thing I could think of was a conversation we had recently:

“The racoon? Do you mean the little racoon that Aunt Jenny raised years ago? Are you doing a story about it? Her name was “Cootie”.

Frustrated at my lack of understanding, her irritated voice said, “No ...not that. The racoon! You know, those words.... I’m trying to remember if it’s seven five seven or five seven five. “

My mind was searching, trying to focus on those key words... five, seven , five..hmm

“Oh! You mean a haiku! “

Her face beamed. “Yes! That’s it! Is it five, seven, five?”

“Yes, it’s five syllables, then seven, then five.”

I smiled, happy with myself for solving the puzzle and relieving her frustration...and even happier to read her creativity:

Joy to you and me!

Springtime is the best of all!

Snowflakes fall down fast!

She inspired me to write one of my own:

Sweet evening sunshine

It must be a blessed cure

For sorrows untold

Racoon portrait is by Ryan Berkley

Monday, July 20, 2009

Anti-American = Anti-Humanity

Hats off to you, Mr. Hannan. It's nice to know at least one European who appreciates the USA. I concur with the airport lady; I'd vote for you too!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

She Tended the Roses

I don’t watch much t.v., but one show that does draw me in is Extreme Makeover; Home Edition on ABC.  In case you aren’t familiar, this likeable crew of home renovators & designers selects a deserving family every week to grant a dream come true, a brand new home.  

A family may be deserving in a number of ways but most often they are recognized by their community as selfless people who give much to their family and neighbors and ask little - if anything- in return.  They may have suffered devastating losses from natural disasters or accidents.  In some cases it might be a single mom who is caring for a special needs child and is barely making ends meet.  It’s about individuals who make a positive difference in this world by giving and helping others and then, for a variety of reasons find themselves in need of a functional living space.

Enter Ty Pennington and crew from Extreme Makeover; Home Edition.  In one week, with help from hundreds of local volunteers, the current home is demolished and a new one, complete with all the furniture and trimmings, inside and out, is built in it’s place.  In one week.   The week not only honors the deserving family, but it brings a whole community together in goodwill, not so unlike the spirit inherent in a good ole barn raising found in Amish communities.

All episodes are moving, but one scene is etched in my mind, as lovely and rich as the stained glass windows at St. George Orthodox Cathedral.  

The crew was working on a home in Kansas, owned by the Tutwiler family, which had been destroyed in a tornado. Prior to this, Army Spc. Patrick Tutwiler had been injured in Iraq (read the full story here) and his wife was battling cancer.  

As the crew toured around Chapman, KS, to see the extent of the damage from the tornado, compassion moved the network to donate more to this community than just one new home.  During one segment, I watched an elderly woman kneeling over the dirt in front of her once charming home.   Her voice was weak and her eyes, kind.  This gentle soul had been making the trip from her apartment to the devastation of her former home in order to tend the roses there.   They had survived the storm and she would not abandon them.

What selflessness...what a rare and precious beauty seeing those frail hands nurturing life.   I hope this mental image will serve to remind me to look for beauty in all places and persons, especially devastated souls.  

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God., -from St. Matthew 5

In the end, “Extreme Makeover” completed many projects for the community of Chapman, such as bringing joy to this elderly woman by transplanting her rose garden to her new apartment.   

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

John Adams, the miniseries

We’ve recently finished watching the entire 501 minutes of John Adams, the miniseries originally featured through HBO, now available on a three part dvd set.  Although it took us a few months to squeeze in those minutes, it was worth it.  

The series, which spans America’s first 50 years, was directed by Tom Hooper with the screenplay  based on the book, John Adams, by David McCullough.   Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney were outstanding in their portrayal of John Adams and Abigail Adams and the love story between the two was an unexpected delight. 

I don’t know my history well enough to say if the series was 100% accurate with regard to historical events, but then I love a movie that spurs my interest in historical figures I previously thought dull.  I’ve done some light reading on the John Adams family since watching the epic and marveled at the story of his daughter, affectionately known as Nabby.  

Aside from being reminded of the wonders of our advancements in the medical field, particularly anesthesia, my appreciation increased for our founding fathers as a whole.  Their intellect and vision for this nation is something that seems altogether lost in our modern age.  I couldn’t help but wonder what Thomas Jefferson and John Adams would think about our current state of affairs.  

My only criticism of the miniseries is that on the 2nd dvd, which includes the time period when Adams was away in Europe as Minister Plenipotentiary,  the story is continually far removed from the action of the Revolution.  It probably seems absurd to say that a series over 500 minutes long could be fleshed out, but I would’ve enjoyed fewer scenes of Adams and Franklin in Europe and more of General Washington on the battlefront.  David Morse was excellent as George Washington and I enjoyed the nuances that his part brought to the credibility of the story.  

The ending was marvelous, a perfect way to conclude the story of his life and legacy.  It’s a blessing that so many of Adams’ words were recorded for posterity, especially those written to Abigail, his beloved friend, counselor and wife of over 50 years.  

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