Thursday, December 18, 2014

Metamorphosis Of The Season

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As I've said before, I'm a touch on the frugal side. Don't misunderstand, I don't hoard cash and deprive myself by limiting my diet to nightly broth and bread the way a certain Dickens character did. I like to eat well and enjoy life, but I hate to waste money in silly ways. Mass produced Christmas cards are things I hate spending money on, especially with the knowledge they'll be stuffed in boxes or thrown in trash cans just after the beginning of the new year. Yet, I feel its important to remember the people in my life during the holidays.

Fortunately, I'm creatively inclined. Thus, for the past 20 some years I've been making my own Christmas cards complete with a new Christmas poem. Last Saturday, I finished the poem for this year's card. Hope you like it.

Candle Candle


Metamorphosis Of The Season

A tiny star once hung against an ebony night sky,
Three kings caught the glimmer from the corner of their eye.
Upon camels they followed the light to stalls of sheep,
And found a new baby lying in hay, fast asleep.

An angel came from on high and blew a mighty horn,
To let bystanders know the king of the Jews had been born.

Today crooners sing of jolly times and cold weather,
As hordes brave traffic bringing families together.
Roasted chestnuts and eggnog wait for us by the fire,
Wrapped packages sit beneath the tree for us to admire.

What began with a birth, a holy gift from above,
Morphed into a season of joy, merriment, and love.

Candle Candle




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Saturday, December 6, 2014

I Don't Wanna Grow Up

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This week I watched NBC’s live presentation of J.M. Barrie’s classic tale, Peter Pan. Sadly, I cringed every time a character stepped across a “body of water” on the cartoonishly

Photo courtesy of Amazon's Affiliate Program.
painted set, and scoffed at the silliness of a poison cake. Every time Christopher Walken, as Captain Hook, ordered someone to walk the plank, I pictured him helping Robert Wagner give a similar sentence to Natalie Wood in 1981.

I was mid eye roll when I caught myself being hyper critical of the play. It was SUPPOSED to be a cartoon-esc fantasy for children, and I was knocking it for being what it was supposed to be. I was acting like a closed minded……. well, like a closed minded grownup.

I remember thinking, “I’m not like this, when did I get old?” Considering that fact that my home office looks like the inside of a comic book shop, my cantankerous reaction to the expertly choreographed and performed presentation was baffling. Then, I watched the NEWS.

Reports of; anti-police protests, ISIS perpetrated violence, and people stealing UPS delivered Christmas presents from porches; flickered across the screen. I realized I’d allowed such stories to rob my spirit of some of my youth. I’d allowed being informed to make me jaded.

Perhaps, I should take a lesson from Peter. Sure, we need to be responsible, but maybe there’s room for the magic, especially during this time year. Perhaps, if more of us believed in fairies, and embraced a bit of silliness, we wouldn’t be putting people in illegal choke holds and stealing packages from porches.

Do you believe in fairies?
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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Don't Forget THANKSgiving

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The candy has been eaten, store bought costumes have been boxed up, and Jack-O-Lanterns have been composted.   Halloween is over, and the masses have turned their attention to Christmas.

Wait a minute.  Halloween…  Christmas…  Halloween…  Christmas…  There’s something between those, right?  Oh yeah, Thanksgiving is November 27th.

As soon as we doused our porch lights, and quit handing out candy to tot sized superheroes, Target began airing jingles about, “A Marshmallow World,” and stores were decked for Santa’s visit.  While I can’t fault advertisers for borrowing jingles from the Rat Pack, it bothers me that we don’t take time to focus just on Thanksgiving.

This annual oversight may be due to the trappings of the surrounding holidays.  Halloween delivers costume based fantasy, parties, and mounds of candy.  Christmas gives us presents, carols, cards, decorated trees, and is a chance for Christians to observe the birth of our savior.  Thanksgiving doesn’t offer the same trappings and excitement.

 photo Scampi served
Description: Tender, juicy roast turkey - the main attraction - with old-fashioned gravy, cranberry sauce, smashed potatoes, baked green beans, sweet and sour cod, steamed rice, pickled green papaya relish, flan, pigs in a blanket... | 
Date: 11/23/2005 | Photographer: Ms. Jones from California | This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.
OK, foodies, like me, really get into the meal of roast turkey and stuffing with old-fashioned gravy, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, baked green beans, warm buttered biscuits, wine, pumpkin pie, and coffee.  Likewise, football fans looks forward to televised games from Dallas & Detroit.  Beyond the sports and the meal though, there’s very little sense of what the holiday is actually about.

Most people agree it has something to do with Pilgrims and Native Americans sharing a meal.  However, Thanksgiving wasn’t declared a holiday until 1863.  Sarah Josepha Hale, the editor of Godey's Lady's Book, spent 17 years writing letters to five Presidents of the United States: Zachary Taylor, Millard Filmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, and Abraham Lincoln; urging them to designate a nationally recognized day of Thanksgiving.

Some say, Lincoln saw the holiday as a tool to unite the country during a bloody civil war.  Others claim, he capitulated simply to end the barrage of letters.  In any case, President Lincoln finally responded to Mrs. Hale's repeated requests by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise.

The day stores use to boost Christmas sales, was originally intended as a day to give thanks.  Giving thanks may not be as exciting as trick-or-treating, or opening presents under a tree, but it may be more important.

I must admit, my bodily aches & pains make it hard to count my blessings sometimes.  Nevertheless, I’m; surrounded, encouraged, helped, and loved; by terrific people everyday.  Thus, I plan to show them my gratitude this Thanksgiving, before I think about what I want for Christmas.
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Friday, October 31, 2014

I Voted - Now Shut Up

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Here in Oregon, we vote by mail.  Last week I received my ballot, dutifully filled it out, and sent it in.  While I've made my series of educated choices, and signed on the dotted line, I still find myself inundated with fact bending campaign commercials every time I watch TV.

 A voter returns his vote-by-mail ballot in the 2006 General elections in Lane County, Oregon.
Subject: A voter returns his vote-by-mail ballot in the 2006 General elections in Lane County, Oregon. | Date: 10/22/2006 | Photographer: Chris Phan | This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
If I'm not being subjected to mixed messages about "genetically engineered foods" I'm being forced to watch mental tripe from people who want registered independents to be able vote in party primaries.  If Ballot Measure ads aren't annoying enough, I have to watch political candidates distort one another's history and views.

OK, I turned the TV off, turned my computer on, and found the following email from Senator Wyden's office.

"James,

Here in Oregon it's easy to vote. You can do it at your own kitchen table, at a time that works for you. It’s another reason Oregon is different.

Now, with just 4 days to go, if you haven't already, make a plan to vote. With less than a third of Oregon ballots returned so far, it's important to get your ballot in quick."

Keep in mind, I'll vote for Senator Wyden every single time he runs, but he's not even running in this election.  His co-Senator, Merkley, doesn't need the assistance; he's running against a crazy person.  Senator Wyden is, as near as I can tell, campaigning to campaign.

I don't think my election overload would as extreme as it is, if the ads were informative and honest.  However, the ads are designed to be emotionally provocative rather than fact based.

For example, in the debate over labeling "genetically engineered foods," one side is showing pictures of blue dyed corn and men in lab coats, trying to conjure images of Dr. Frankenstein, while the opposition is basically saying, "Those dirty liers are lying.  Uh, stop it."  Nobody is explaining that the hybrid fruit, tangelo (mandarin orange + grapefruit), and mating the best cow with the best bull to get the best next generation of beef are time honored examples of "genetically engineered foods."

I could say similar things about each contest.  Since watching such ads, and reading campaign materials, won't educate voters in any meaningful way, I'd rather see commercials for cars and beer during Grimm tonight.

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