“To this day, I have serious doubts that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.” ~ John Kerry, in an interview with Tom Brokaw

” . . . the shooting itself still has enormous cultural resonance. In this telling, it marks a wrenching transition from a calmer age of trusted verities to our vortex of post-modern angst.” ~ John Cassidy, from “A Word In Favor of J.F.K. Conspiracy Theories”

Today is the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, a day ripe with excitement and theorizing among die-hard Whovians. However, another important anniversary has just passed: the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination in Dallas. I don’t know that I’m a conspiracy theorist, but I’ve never believed that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Grassy knoll shooter? I don’t know. But to my mind, something still doesn’t add up when it comes to disseminating the truth about November 22, 1963.

 President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at Dallas. President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, others. Dallas, TX, Love Field., 11/22/1963 Fifty years ago today, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy arrives in Dallas, only a short time before he was  assassinated. via the National Archives at Kansas City on Twitter

President and Mrs. Kennedy arrive at Dallas. President Kennedy, Mrs. Kennedy, others. Dallas, TX, Love Field., 11/22/1963

Fifty years ago today, on November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy arrives in Dallas, only a short time before he was  assassinated.

via the National Archives at Kansas City on Twitter

Juxtaposed JFK Assassination Photos with Contemporary Dallas

Today, November 22, 1963, is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in Dallas. Photographer Doug McCluer has created a striking series of photographs in which he recreates scenes from the assassination in contemporary Dallas.

McCluer has taken original snapshots from the JFK assassination and juxtaposed them with in their original locations. In the first photo, McCluer holds up a black and white image of Jacqueline Kennedy climbing up on the presidential limo after her husband was shot in Dallas on November 22, 1963 — exactly 50 years ago today.

The comparison between the events of that tragic day with the quiet Dallas street scenes fifty years later creates striking images that are both poignant and heartbreaking. It is considered one of the most important events in the United States as it changed the course of history forever.

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“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“Our holiday food splurge was a small crate of tangerines, which we found ridiculously thrilling after an eight-month abstinence from citrus…. Lily hugged each one to her chest before undressing it as gently as a doll. Watching her do that as she sat cross-legged on the floor one morning in pink pajamas, with bliss lighting her cheeks, I thought: Lucky is the world, to receive this grateful child. Value is not made of money, but a tender balance of expectation and longing.” ~ Barbara Kingsolver, from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
                   

So here are a few shots of our Thanksgiving feast. Food courtesy of yours truly. Photographs courtesy of Corey’s sister Alana. Hope you had a wonderful holiday. We are very grateful that we had such a bountiful dinner and that we had the company of family.

Thanksgiving
Corey Serving

“If the earth needs night as well as day, wouldn’t it follow that the soul requires endarkenment to balance enlightenment?” ~ Tom Robbins from Jitterbut Perfume

Abstract: Branching Dream in Blues, by russell.tomlin
                   

“Where do colors go at night, before they are returned to us at dawn?” ~ Lorenzo

Sunday evening. Clear and chilly.

"Un Parc la nuit," by Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (ca. 1892-1895, Musee d’Orsay)

Last night I dreamed that I was fighting a dragon, a huge, purple dragon that swooped down over the meadow I happened to be in, and somehow, I escaped, only to fight a wolf with my bare hands. Weird, huh?

I love my husband; he shares everything me. For instance, his winter cold—clogged ears, cough, aches, and all. His symptoms began about four or five days ago. Mine hit their high point yesterday, so another day in bed for me. How does one repay such generosity of spirit? I’ll find a way. Trust me.

 I didn’t come near the computer yesterday, which should give you an idea as to how low I felt. Instead, I read another book, this one by James Rollins. Please don’t ask me the title as I haven’t the foggiest idea. I just breezed through it in between napping. It possessed my little grey cells only for as long as I was actively reading. Sometimes those are the best kinds of books: formulaic plots that don’t tax the mind too much but manage to pass the time suitably, i.e., smart, independent woman, strong man, mad scientist/curator/military leader, possible end of the world scenario.

In other news, I think that I have finally, finally gotten my health insurance fiasco fixed. My last e-mail exchange with the HR rep at GW seems to confirm this, which makes it less fantasy and more possible reality. I know. Stupid isn’t it when wishing that you had health insurance that you are paying for actually worked? So if everything goes as hoped, I can make appointments with all of the specialists that I need to see: the neurologist, the gastro guy, the gyn, the eye doctor, and the mood doctor. Oh, and the breast smashing-people.

I have so much to look forward to.

“. . . Man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.”~ John F. Kennedy 

Tunisian Demonstrators Place Flowers in the Barrels of Soldiers' Guns from the majalla.com

On to other things . . . Corey has an aunt and uncle in Egypt. I’m not exactly sure as to their location, but I do know that they live in an American compound. Still, it’s a situation fraught with dangers. I will admit that I am not as up on the background that led to the current uprisings. My ongoing headache has greatly affected my usual perusal of news sites. But I did come across the following on my tumblr dash:

“The current popular unrest in the Arab world has a lot of lessons for Washington. Undoubtedly one of the most jarring is this: The leak of a simple series of cables from a U.S. ambassador in an obscure country — officially condemned by Washington — may have done more to inspire democracy in the Arab world than did a bloody, decade long, trillion-dollar war effort orchestrated by the United States.”

Michael Hirsch of The National Journal was referencing Tunisia in the above passage, which many feel has a direct link to what is happening now in Egypt. According to The Daily Mail, “A 2008 diplomatic cable leaked by the WikiLeaks site outlines how the U.S. State Department supported a pro-democracy activist and lobbied for the release of dissidents from custody.” The article goes on to state that “the protests were triggered by the overthrow of Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Al Ben Ali. Street protests in Tunis focused on similar issues, including poverty and political repression.”

I must take the time to research the situation more thoroughly. If anyone has any good links, I’d appreciate the info.

“The trouble is, you think you have time.” ~ Guatama Buddha

Grass on Water by Russell.Tomlin

In less world-shattering news, I have decided to enter an informal poetry contest that one of my fellow tmblrs is holding (A Poet Reflects).

Now, I should probably explain a few things here for those of you who think that entering such a contest is old hat for me. First, and probably most importantly, to enter the contest, I must submit my work. This means that someone other than my computer and occasionally a few family members will see my poetic attempts. The idea of such a thing scares the ever-loving bejeezus out of me.

Second, I don’t practice my poetry often; dabbling might be stretching the reality a bit. I am much more comfortable in prose. But occasionally, a poem comes to me out of the blue. You would think (well, most logical people would think) that such flashes would inspire me to hasten to some writing utensil to put down the words that are bouncing around in my head so that I can work with them more. Nope. Don’t do it. Too scared.

Too convinced that my poems are hack. Too certain that there is no point. So after reading about this contest, that night in bed the opening of a poem came to me. I went over it several times, rearranging words, deleting some, inserting others. By the time I was finished with my musings, I probably had eight or ten lines. Now anyone else might get out of bed and write these lines down so that they could be revisited in the morning. Did I do that? No. I told myself, ‘self, surely you will remember all of this mental gymnastics in the morning. Go to sleep.’

And so I did.

“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson

"Chinese Lanterns at Night," by Thomas Watson Ball

 Of course I did not remember. This is the third thing in the list of things you should know about my poetry, and/or writing in general: I am my own worst enemy.

The next day, after bemoaning the fact that I could remember not even one line, I took a pad of paper and pen and sat on the bed to begin again. (I prefer to draft poems with pen rather than computer—probably the only kind of writing that I do with pen any more.) I was rather pleased when I drafted eight quatrains, rapid-fire. Rather surprised, too. Then I reread them and promptly put down the pen and paper and thought to myself, “Crap. Crap. Crap.” A few hours later, a totally new opening came to me, and having learned my lesson somewhat, I wrote down the new opening. Then I left everything alone so that I could mull and stew a bit (I view poems a lot like my homemade spaghetti sauce: it needs to simmer to reach its optimum flavor).

Okay, now here is the kicker: I put the three pages of pen-written draft in my book basket next to my side of the bed. At some point during the evening, I knocked over my cup of tea. Where did most of it land?

Do I really need to tell you? On my draft. I spread the soaked sheets of paper on plain white paper (one was written on both the front and back, something I rarely do) and left them to dry. It’s been two days. Have I looked at the pages to see if they are readable?

Of course not. Will I finish this poem in time to submit by the deadline? Who knows.

Perhaps the more interesting aspect is the journey that I have taken to write the poem rather than the poem itself. Then again, that just might be more of my self-justification for not doing what I need to do. Did I mention that a book of Pessoa’s poetry is the prize? That alone should motivate me to enter the contest.

I’ll let you know what I do when I know what I’m going to do.

More later. Peace.

Music by Jenny Lewis, “Godspeed”

                   

From “Silence,” by Edgar Lee Masters

I have known the silence of the stars and the sea,
And the silence of the city when it pauses,
And the silence of a man with a maid,
And the silence for which music alone finds the word,
And the silence of the woods before the winds of spring begin,
And the silence of the sick,
When their eyes roam about the room.
And I ask: For the depths
Of what use is language?
A beast of the field moans a few times
When death takes its young.
And we are voiceless in the presence of realities—
We cannot speak.

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

AWARD--Honest_Weblog_Award

Me? Seriously? You Shouldn’t Have But I’m Glad That You Did

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

This is a little late in coming, but I would like to thank Zirgar for bestowing upon me the Honest Weblog Award. I have been told by several people that one of the better qualities of my writing is its honesty; I know that I do write from my heart, which is not always a good thing, I realize, but it is my way of being true to myself. So many thanks Z and all of the other wonderful regular readers who stop by here to read and sometimes comment.

Chesapeake Bay
End of the Day, Chesapeake Bay, Virginia

As we all know, no award comes without a few strings, and the Honest Weblog Award is no exception. Here are the rules: 

  1. You must brag about the award.
  2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to that blogger.
  3. You must choose a minimum of seven blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
  4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with the Honest Weblog Award.
  5. List at least ten honest things about yourself.

Then pass along the award with the above instructions.

Top Seven

So here are the blogs to which I have chosen to pass along the Honest Weblog Award. The blogs are listed in no particular order, and their content is as varied as their owners. I try to visit these blogs daily or as often as possible, and my interest in each of them is evidenced by the fact that you can find them listed under the different categories of blogrolls to the left of my site.

  1. White Orchid: This blog is written by one of my dear online friends, Maureen, who lives in Australia. Maureen’s blog covers a wide range of topics—family, friends, work, Australian politics, and much more. Maureen has a very loyal group of followers, and she is diligent about responding to comments and e-mails.
  2. Supersense: Written by Bruce M. Hood, the Director of the  Bristol Cognitive Development Centre in the Experimental Psychology Department at the University of Bristol in England. Bruce recently published Supersense: Why We Believe in the Unbelievable, an incredible book that I found immensely enjoyable and informative (I promise that I’ll get around to posting my review soon). Part of what makes Bruce’s blog so interesting is the comment section: His regulars are a diverse bunch with very strong opinions.
  3. Floridana Alaskiana v2.5: This blog is written by Janson Jones, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska. If you appreciate fine photography, then you definitely need to visit this blog. Janson, who recently celebrated the birth of his daughter Aurelia, fills his posts with beautiful images of landscapes, wildlife, and people. He also comments occasionally on political issues in which he is interested.
  4. Islamorada Florida by JJ
    Islamorada, Florida by Janson Jones
  5. My Sweetest Downfall: This pseudonymous blog is beautifully written by a woman with incredible wit and enough sarcasm to keep me entertained. She doesn’t post daily, but the content of her posts makes up for the wait between. I think that what I probably enjoy most about JaneyLynn’s blog is that I can totally relate to it, to the craziness of her life, and to her occasional funks.
  6. Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezins: Zirgar, who presented me with this award, describes his blog as “a place to vent and find catharsis.” Very left of center, Z takes on Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the whole Fox circus, as well as most far-right politicians and politicos. Be warned, he doesn’t censor himself, so if you are offended easily, then this isn’t the blog for you. That being said, I greatly enjoy his rants and screeds on closed-minded racists and bigots, as well as the regulars who comment on his posts. Very glad I found this particular blog, and many thanks again Zirgar for remembering me.
  7. Leaving Lilac Sky: Another pseudonymous blog written by a very talented poet. I have been following this writer’s blog for almost a year now. As with most poets, she has her dry spells, and then she goes into periods in which she is incredibly prolific, turning out a poem a day. A confessional poet, her poems deal with heart-rending emotions, but at the same time, she celebrates life.
  8. Willpen’s World: This is another blog that I have been following regularly since I began blogging last year. Another kindred political spirit, WP is not afraid to voice her opinions about the state of affairs in this country. Worth noting: Several of the blogs that I now read regularly I found through the comments section of WP’s blog.

A few honorable mentions: November Fifth (intelligent, articulate, and a college-level English prof), Really . . . Really . . . Seriously (music and movies), David Bridger (writer with a lot to say about writing, life, and lots of other things). There are a few other blogs that I read as much as possible, but these are the highlights.

Ten Honest Things About Myself

  1. I am hypersensitive, although I try very hard not to be. Just how sensitive I am depends upon the state of my life, which means that currently, I can tear up upon hearing a song or watcing a commercial.
  2. I believe in reincarnation. I know that this is not logical (Bruce), but it is something that I have felt very strongly about since I was very young. No, I was not Marie Antoinette, but my affinity for and knowledge of things that I don’t have a logical reason for knowing has to come from somewhere.
  3. I was a daddy’s girl. As an only child, I was spoiled, and my dad labeled me as a “Want-Whiney” when I was a little girl. If I am to be completely honest, the label still applies. 

    Sailing on the Chesapeake Bay
    Catamaran on the Chesapeake Bay, Virginia
  4. I love to wear boots, long skirts and sweaters. I should probably live in a cooler climate as this is how I would clad myself everyday if I had somewhere to be.
  5. My biggest personal regret is not going for my doctorate in English.
  6. I am a collector: books, stuffed bears, boots, office supplies, and watches probably being the top five.
  7. I don’t do things half way. It’s either all in or nothing.
  8. I have become too much of a recluse in the past two years, and I really need to get out of the house more.
  9. I love words. I love to find new quotes by writers I have been reading for years. I love to find new writers. I love to put words together and push them around until I have created something of which I can be proud.
  10. I love the man who has been the biggest part of my life for the past 10 years unconditionally and completely, and my children are my joy. Never try to come between me and my family.

Okay, a couple of other tidbits: I am not afraid of spiders, but am terrified of snakes and centipedes. I love the colors red, black and purple. I really enjoy nature: backyard birding, mountains, waterfalls, and sunrises and sunsets. I am very insecure about the way that I look. I do not have tons of friends, rather, a select few. I love them and miss them every single day, and there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for one of my friends.

“Gratitude is when memory is stored in the heart and not in the mind.” ~ Lionel Hampton

So, gentle reader, this ends my conferring of the Honest Weblog Award upon some of my favorite online sites. I hope that you take the time to visit a few of these worthwhile and diverse sites.

More later. Peace.

The Art of the Thank You Note

Thank You cards from PaperCrave

Sample Thank You Cards from Papercraft.com

 

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” ~ Cicero

I haven’t had time to post anything new in several days, but by this time tomorrow, 11th grade will be over for Brett. Can I get a big hallelujah from the chorus?

Next big item: Graduation for Eamonn at 3:00 on Monday. His announcements finally arrived a couple of days ago, and I got all of them addressed and mailed yesterday. The deal is that he cannot have (as in take possession of) any graduation presents until the Thank You note has been written. I hope that he realizes that I’m serious. He needs to learn that thank you notes are a must.

I still remember that Alexis never sent out all of her thank you notes for her graduation gifts, which I was very unhappy about, but that was a very bad time in her life, so I suppose that I should just be grateful that we made it out of that dark period. But I’m a firm believer that sending out a short note is the least that you can do when someone takes the time to think of you, to remember you, regardless of the circumstances as to why they are thinking of you.

I was appalled when I read in one of those advice columnists about how someone had received a generic e-mail as a thank you for a wedding present. The writer wanted to know if this was the “new way of doings things.” Not in my world. Maybe I’m old fashioned, but weddings are a significant event, and the people who buy wedding presents usually (except for regifters, of course, but it’s still a gift) put a lot of thought into getting something special for the new couple. To send out an e-mail thank you is better than nothing, but not by much. To send out a generic e-mail to an entire list of people is just plain lazy, and boorish to boot.

Yes, our lives are full and busy, and there never seems to be enough time to do all of things that need to be done. But taking pen in hand and writing two to three sentences in a card does not take more than a few minutes at the most. And a handwritten thank you note or card still means more. At least, I think that it does.

Perhaps I am really revealing my generational influences here, but it pains me that we are raising children who rarely put pen to paper. From the moment that children begin to write, they are on computers. Now that part I agree with. Keeping our youth up-to-date on technology is good for them and good for our country.

But learning how to form letters, how to write words—nothing can replace that.

Besides, how did those newlyweds respond to people who don’t use e-mail? There are still people out there who don’t, anachronisms though they might be. There is a generation that for the most part knows little to nothing about computers. I’m thinking of my mother’s generation. My mother doesn’t even know how to turn on a computer, let alone open an e-mail.

Did the tech-savvy couple just ignore the people without e-mail addresses, or did they deign to send along a one-size-fits-all form letter?

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” ~ John F. Kennedy

I love that we are connected to people everywhere through today’s technology, but I hate that we have an entire generation of young adults who don’t know how to write letters. It concerns me.

Just think of all of the wonderful revelations we have had throughout the years when someone stumbles upon a box of letters written by someone of note: Hemingway, Kennedy, Whitman, Woolf . . . Personal letters reveal so much about the letter writer, and they are a wonderful piece of history. I, for one, am always impressed when I see the penmanship of past generations, the swooping cursive capitals, the care with which the writers crafted their missives.

 I suppose that it is my romantic self that cannot abide electronic communication, but of course, I am just as guilty as everyone else of using e-mail all of the time because of its convenience. But nothing beats receiving something in the mail with a cancelled stamp. And few things beat a thank you note, handwritten and full of gratitude.

The ability to say thank you to those who have given of themselves for our purposes: that is a talent that every child should be taught as soon as he or she is able to write.

Much more later. Promise. Peace.