“Warren Piece.” I distinctly recall my mother uttering those two words as she ushered me out the door with my brothers on our summer afternoon trek to the library. Our visits to the public library were a regular occurrence in those days, and on occasion, we walked the mile+ distance sans adult supervision.
We had specific, unalterable instructions: stay together, follow the usual route, be home before dinner, and never, ever, ever talk to strangers! We had a tight camaraderie, the three of us. Brother Eric (two years older than me) and brother Kevin (younger than me by eighteen months) might run ahead or dawdle behind from time to time, but being voracious readers, our expectation of new adventures hidden in books on the library’s seemingly endless bookshelves kept the three of us on course to our destination. Continue reading “Warren Who?”→
There’s a curious film I recently discovered on the Internet Archive. It’s a silent Danish film from 1918 entitled A Trip to Mars. (The original title was Himmelskibet.) Ten years ahead of Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, A Trip to Mars captured the imagination of early 20th-century earthbound film-makers and viewers.
Given the founding of the private corporation SpaceXin 2002, an organization whose stated mission is “to enable the colonization of Mars,” space travel to Mars has taken on early 21st-century currency. In May 2020, SpaceX was the first private company (i.e. non-governmental) to send humans to the International Space Station. Continue reading “A Trip To Mars”→
As a child, reading was one of my favorite pastimes. I couldn’t have been very old – maybe ten or eleven – when my imagination began feasting on the classics. (If you’re familiar with any of my posts in 2013, it should be clear my reading tastes tend to be eclectic.) What I especially enjoyed were adventure tales where seemingly ordinary people performed heroic deeds.
As a tribute to my dear mother, I’ve been compiling certain documents in my possession that add depth to and understanding of her life. A separate section of this blog is titled Blood Type / West and under that heading, I’ve attached a couple related documents. (More documents will follow in time.)
In 2006, we celebrated Mom’s birthday with much more fanfare than usual. We threw a party, Hats Off For Ruthe, and as part of the celebration, I created a book about her life. Given she lived another 14 years, the book is somewhat dated as regards her children and grandchildren. Still, it’s a good record.
Another tab in the Blood Type / West sub-section offers some background information about the boarding school my Mom attended. It was an amazing place for a young girl who came from a modest background and was suddenly bereft (having lost her father) while her mother was thrust into the workforce.
A couple times, I had the privilege (with my Mom) to visit the location of this school (in Newtown Square, PA) which shuttered its doors to students in 1977. The buildings are still there, repurposed. We were able to enter the imposing administration building as well as the inviting stone cottages where students lived under the oversight of a dorm “mother.”
A previously coddled child myself, it was difficult for me to imagine my mother as a six-year-old being brought to this cottage and entrusted (by her own mother) into the care of strangers. It was (no doubt) a crucible for the development of strong character. She could have felt the bitter sting of abandonment; instead, she learned gratefulness for God’s unique provision. She also learned the value of self-reliance.
In large part, the person my mother became reflects the transformation of tragedy (the death of her father) into beauty, as she received an excellent education within a safe environment where multiple benefits (usually reserved for wealthy families) were available to her. Thanks to the generosity of an unknown philanthropist (who’d been dead 20 years when my mom was born), young fatherless girls received a wonderful start in life. Though I wasn’t one of those girls, I’m certainly a beneficiary of aforementioned philanthropy … and how thankful I am.
Stir-crazy yet? Some people have more tolerance than others, I know. Still, more and more people are expressing similar frustration: how long must this go on?
As I read back through old posts, I was reminded we’ve been here before. Back in October 2014, it was Ebola, another virus of considerable risk. At that time, my concerns centered on my elderly mother as well as my mother-in-law who passed away in 2017. Right now it’s my mom (now in her 94th year) who remains foremost in my thoughts. Continue reading “Been There, Done That”→
In mid-March, a group of celebrities posted an online video singing their rendition of John Lennon’s classic song Imagine. The stated purpose was to “raise morale” as the Covid-19 pandemic spread across the globe. (Their effort was not well-received.)
In the midst of this situation, imagination isn’t our primary aim. Reality reminds us daily we’re smack-dab in a real-life global pandemic. Things changed overnight. People died and countless others have been hastily quarantined. We don’t have to imagine grocery shelves picked clean nor the bewilderingly low supply of items like toilet paper and paper towels.
With amazing prescience, Netflix released (on January 22, 2020) a 6-episode docu-series titled, Pandemic: How to Prevent an Outbreak. Though I haven’t watched it yet (too soon), I’ll probably do so eventually. One reviewer called it “visually stunning” and “a great piece of storytelling.” The series features caregivers who work the front lines when crisis occurs.
Since the dawn of time, mankind has faced disasters, some caused by disease, famine or flood. However, if there’s anyone with personal experience in dire circumstances, the biblical record of God’s prophet, Elijah the Tishbite, lays it out perfectly in I Kings 17. Continue reading “Imagine”→
If you’ve been stuck on a cruise ship in the mid-Atlantic (or alternatively, locked in video-game-quiescence), you may be blissfully unaware, so I’ll break it to you as gently as I’m able:
APRIL IS CANCELLED
Thanks to suspended schedules and cancelled seasons, sports fans may find their only social-distancing alternative is Tiddlywinks. Concert-goers don’t get a pass. Business owners won’t be conducting business as usual. Conferences? Nope. Spelling Bee? Nope. Any pretense of normalcy? Are you crazy?
No matter who you are and what your areas of interest, it’s safe to say the time has come to crawl back into the groundhog hole now and make yourself as comfortable as possible. We’re in this for the long haul.
It’s not a question of seeing one’s shadow. Despite the arrival of Spring-like weather assuring us of Winter’s end, it’s contrived. It’s a cruel fiction. The lush and exhilarating month of April is officially, unceremoniously cancelled. Continue reading “The End of the World Has Arrived”→
Imagine you’re standing in a gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Artsin Philadelphia. As an ardent student of history, you’re transfixed by Benjamin West’s 1772 masterpiece The Treaty of Penn with the Indians (shown below). This work seemingly invites you to step into it, to hear the speakers and to witness the Quakers and Indians reach agreement.
Now … imagine it’s possible to virtually step into the painting! Your eyes dart to the left and the right, noticing what’s beyond the picture’s frame. In fact, you have a 360º virtual view of the scene! Are there boats on the river to the left? Are there buildings to the right? What else did the artist see (and choose to leave out) that your virtual tour permits you to view? Continue reading “Mad Indulgence”→
When our five-year-old grandson is here for the day (as he was today), he’s always anxious for the male members of the family to show up at end of day. He looks forward to playing video games (XBOX) with our oldest grandson … and he can’t wait for my Beloved to arrive home so they can “drive” the big white truck (a Ford F150) together. The child hops onto his granddad’s lap and they motor around our 3+ acre lot. (The other grandchildren are equally thrilled when they’re given opportunity to get behind the wheel.)
If this little guy were allowed to drive a truck like the one pictured above, I think he’d be more than pleased to give it a try! He has been interested in vehicles since he was a baby. The other day he showed me one of his Matchbox cars, which I immediately identified as a fire truck (it was red, had a fireman insignia painted on the side) and he respectfully (but adamantly) corrected me: “It’s actually a tanker truck.” (Yes, he uses the word actually.) Continue reading “Don’t Move Me, Bro!”→
The saga of my garden continues. A couple weeks ago, I posted about my concern that last year’s raspberry canes I pruned (drastically) back in February weren’t going to sprout new canes. There’s good news to report on that front! Not only have they sprouted nicely but they look to be thriving! I can’t tell you how excited I am to have a partial victory on this! See the picture below.When my Beloved announced over the weekend he was going to purchase tomato and green pepper seedlings and maybe a few other vegetables for planting, I was both surprised and goaded into action! Until now, he had more or less ceded the raised-bed garden space to my care … but I wasn’t going to refuse his sudden interest, no, no, no! So I knew I had to take immediate action! Continue reading “Eradication Meditations”→