Friday, May 29, 2009

Hawaii Lantern Festival 10th Anniversary

Reflection on the original Memorial Day,as May 30th approaches, leads my thoughts to the recent Hawaiian Lantern Festival’s 10th Anniversary, May 25, 2009, that was also our current Memorial Day. Extensive videos of this year’s Festival can be viewed now at this KGMB link.

The 2009 Lantern Festival “Streaming Video” will be aired by television station KGMB 9 on May 30th, and again in early June.

Memorial Day commemoration for most of my life occurred on May 30th, but a few years ago the date was moved to the last Monday of the month in order to provide a long three day weekend. I’ve sometimes wondered if this change has resulted in many people gradually forgetting the true significance of this special day as they focus more on that day off work and social activities. I do respect the new date, and wrote a brief post here, but the 30th still automatically enters my mind as Memorial Day even though I know the legal date is past.

I recall as a small girl selling Buddy Poppies for the American Legion to raise funds for the Veterans. I was so proud the year I received the most contributions for I had an older loved one fighting in a foreign land during WWII at the time and this made me feel as though I was helping in some small way. My family member returned home safely from that war, but many did not. They join our ancestors who are remembered in the Hawaiian Lantern Festival that occurs on the new Memorial Day (25th this year) as I now commemorate the 30th date, too.

Another loved family member first acquainted me with the significance of the Hawaiian Lantern Festival in May 2007. Subsequently, I wrote a piece here including:

“The Hawaii Lantern Festival is in progress as I write this. I imagine the evening with darkness falling, the lanterns slowly floating out to sea honoring the spirit of those no longer living. On this particular evening, for our family, the names of loved ones, so recently with us in body and spirit, will be launched from the shoreline to ebb seaward.”

A 2007 Festival video was not available at that time but now is from YouTube:

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day Remembrance '09

On this Memorial Day we remember the men and women who have sacrificed their lives in the service of our country.

This Taps Buglers at Arlington National Cemetery YouTube video (about 4 mins. duration) concludes with sounds, pictures and words that always bring tears to my eyes. I always think of how each of those individuals lives might have been different had they lived, as would the lives of so many others.

I long for peace with freedom.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Movie Title Coincidence

“Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”

Coincidentally just before I published my previous post, "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow," I discovered an older movie with the same title prominently displayed at my favorite video rental store. I noted Italian cast names I immediately recognized -- Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni; director, Vittorio De Sica. Prominent film producer Carlos Ponti had earlier discovered Loren,promoted her career,then later married her after divorcing his wife. Ponti’s and Loren’s marriage was not recognized in Italy and by the Catholic Church creating international news headlines in the Sixties. A few years later he married her again in France where the marriage was recognized.

This Italian color movie was originally released to theaters in 1963 ultimately catapulting Loren and Mastroianni onto the European and American movie scene. Awards were received and also notoriety for one Loren visually sensuous striptease scene considered quite risqué at the time. The year was significant in my love life, so I wasn’t giving much attention to movies. I don’t recall ever seeing this movie until now, though I do remember the Italian marriage controversy.

I viewed this color DVD movie and enjoyed the humor this past weekend. I was most intrigued with seeing these then-young actors at the beginning of careers that resulted in each of them appearing in some classic movies later for which they are better known as is their director. Here’s the movie's recap from my point of view.

This light comedy consists of three short stories in Italian language with English subtitles. The New York Times reviewer, Bosley Crowther, writes “…the title Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow has absolutely no relation to the film…” with which I disagree. Perhaps he has no historical reference for the temperament and prevailing attitudes during the times represented in each of the stories. Certainly the movie isn't resoundingly heavy and deep for analysis, but I see a variety of associations to the title though I mention only a few here.

The first story occurs “Yesterday” when women’s primary function is to bring many children into the world. Loren’s character is busy doing this, trying to tweak her husband’s waning participation as he becomes increasingly physically exhausted with each addition to their growing brood. She has good reason for wanting to remain pregnant in order to avoid going to jail for a few months due to an infraction of the law.

Next is “Today’s” story (1963) reflecting the materialistic attitude building then in various societies of the world. Loren’s very affluent character drives a Rolls Royce and casually wears a fur coat she nonchalantly literally tosses and drags around. Her wealthy husband is out of the country on business. She openly pursues and casually flaunts a developing relationship with a man of lesser means, Mastroianni's character. He is incredulous that she doesn't exhibit a bit more discretion. Social mores of the time are changing to more liberal freedoms for some women. We do learn the depth of Loren’s character and what she truly believes based on her actions when there is an incident with the Rolls at the stories end.

The final story, “Tomorrow,” showcases Loren’s character as a high class call girl. She’s the truly sexually liberated woman seeking independence and self-sufficiency but not immediate marriage. Mastroianni’s character is one of her regulars who visits whenever he’s able to plot a trip to her city for his father’s business. She flirts with a young man intensely attracted to her who is visiting his grandparents apartment. Their outdoor patio adjoins Loren’s. She is startled to discover he’s a seminary student preparing for priesthood’s celibate life. Ultimately these characters lives become enmeshed trying to preserve his chastity. Mastroianni’s character becomes increasingly frustrated he’s not receiving attention he desires. This is the story containing the scene that aroused so much notoriety when Loren seductively strips down to a skimpy black bra and panties. Here’s a somewhat fuzzy YouTube link.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow

Two days ago my Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow bushes were in full bloom covered with a multitude of blossoms in lavender shades joined by white flowers. Their airy fragrance was light and delightful. Two of the three plants I had rooted from the original bush. They have since grown considerably taller than my over mid-five feet height.

I went outside this morning to take the flowers pictures only to discover they had reached the end of their blooming season this year. The pictures that follow are among the few remaining lavender blooms though the white blossoms remain as the last flowers. Perhaps the flowers condition is appropriate for this particular piece.

You may note the flower bushes name is the theme of this blog – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. At the end is a poem by an unknown author with the same title as the bushes. I’ve enjoyed reading the poem through the years – Along The Way.

Yesterday …..

Hard to believe the time that has passed since my husband of almost 43 years died. That unexpected occurrence sometimes seems to have happened yesterday, which it actually did three years ago. Other times that day seems to have been long ago, enveloped in an unreal world. I’ve intentionally wanted to avoid giving undo reference to the day in the following years, but the date unconsciously resonates in my mind. Unbidden memories of our life together have trickled forth into my consciousness. I recall now the busyness of my activities after his death beginning that morning and continuing well into the evening hours.

I must have set the pattern then, since for the next year or so I kept myself so occupied variously I often became over-involved and driven. I could sometimes feel a burden of guilt if I did not perform certain aspects of my self-imposed new activities that I thought I should. In retrospect I was rather like the squirrel I recall from my childhood. He was a neighbor’s pet allowed to exercise periodically in a caged large wheel he turned at an increasing rate as he ran in place faster and faster. I wonder if that handsome red squirrel with the elegantly fluffy tail was aware he wasn’t going anywhere? Or, maybe he knew, and he was going somewhere -- in his mind.

In my case, after long hours, days, weeks of absorbing perpetual CD music at home, I had periods of time when I immersed myself in reading. I spent exorbitant amounts of time with the computer, much of it in the blogosphere and some with some of you.

I thought I was coping quite well and very much in control of my situation – except I wasn’t taking care of much day to day business. I could always do those things another day, I thought. Inadvertently I allowed some personal business to slide past which had not occurred before. Somehow such matters seemed so insignificant and unimportant any more, yet I knew they were. This was the time to cater to my whims I had concluded. I did, maybe, over-indulge myself. Considering some of the alternatives I considered, dabbled with and could have adopted, perhaps everything I was choosing to do despite how imperfect an answer was the better choice.

My plans had for so many years been influenced by necessary considerations for my life companion and suddenly, in an instant, that was no longer true. I took classes. I was mentally and emotionally prime to attach myself to a project that was fresh and held promise for the future as I became immersed in computer related activities.

So much of what I did had a sense of urgency component for me to accomplish whatever it was, now. Yet I often spoke of patience. Still I recognized changes I desired even for myself were probably long term evolutions. I had such contradictory thoughts that occasionally were at war within myself. Words I used describing my state of being were often what I wanted to be the case, but the words did not make it so. This was likely a reflection of my strong belief in the power of words within me -- the messages I gave myself and others – an honest effort to convince myself all was well.

I functioned as though new friendships needed to be cemented now, since time had come to have a very limiting finite quality for me. By contrast I talked of living to one hundred years of age. On some level I recognized what I was doing. On the day to day level all I did seemed quite rational and logical to me.

For months I was restless in my own home. I would reach a point where I just had to leave the house. In fact, I often left the premises for many hours of the day into the night. Had I lived near a lake some sunset hours or moonlit nights I would likely have sought a boat to embrace me while rocking ever so gently on a calm water’s surface.

I was tempted at times to drive in the car and just keep going to some unknown destination, but quelled that impulse with the belief I must return home for the beginning of each new day. I wished I knew a private pilot with whom I could fly away just for awhile. I thought about trying to make one’s acquaintance by visiting one of the two nearby small local airports hoping I’d be offered a flight. Years past my husband and I sometimes ate at one of their restaurants, watched the touch and goes, the air traffic, and remembered our mid-west flying years.

I wanted to be alone with my thoughts, but there were erratic inconsistent limits to my tolerance of the uncommonly quiet of my own home. I could be loading the dishwasher, making the bed, reading the newspaper or performing a multitude of other ordinary tasks. An indefinable feeling would subtly spread through my body much like during early spring after a winter’s freeze when a maple tree’s life-giving juices, having been confined, gradually begin to flow from the trunk toward the barren branches.

I became uneasy not knowing how or why the restlessness started since my mind would be engaged with matters unrelated to my loss. The escalating feeling resulted in my sensing I needed to leave the house. Ironically, on other occasions when I was away from home, often driving purposefully in the car, I had an overwhelming sense I no longer wanted to finish my planned schedule and I must go home.

Sometimes I would spend excessive time in a book store’s big leather cushioned chair. Strangely, I could enjoy being alone in the semi-quiet of the crowd there. Ultimately I did not mind my quiet periodically interrupted when one of the friendly young clerks became casually attentive. I was surprised to eventually learn he was a musician about to embark on a short tour with a successful newly re-formed Indie/Pop/Rock Band. More memories of my husband’s music life were stimulated.

I sought out live jazz performances here and elsewhere,sometimes alone, sometimes with friends. Finally, I discovered I had a saturation point listening to numerous jazz groups performing in those various locations. I settled into attending less frequent performances focusing on one particular talented group with an equally gifted female vocalist. I added other music genres from folk to classical with much in between at concerts I shared with friends, old and new.

Today …..

Those erratic days became weeks that turned into months, then years. Along The Way – I have become content. My solitude is not only comfortable but welcome.

Tomorrow …..

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me, but I look forward with great anticipation to that future day by day.

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
There are two days in every week that we should not worry about, two days that should be kept free from fear and apprehension.

One is yesterday, with its mistakes and cares, its faults and blunders, its aches and pains. Yesterday has passed, forever beyond our control.

All the money in the world cannot bring back yesterday. We cannot undo a single act we performed. Nor can we erase a single word we've said - yesterday is gone!

The other day we shouldn't worry about is tomorrow, with its impossible adversaries, its burden, its hopeful promise and poor performance. Tomorrow is beyond our control.

Tomorrow's sun will rise either in splendor or behind a mask of clouds - but it will rise. And until it does, we have no stake in tomorrow, for it is yet unborn.

This leaves only one day - today. Any person can fight the battles of just one day. It is only when we add the burdens of yesterday and tomorrow that we break down.

It is not the experience of today that drives people mad - it is the remorse of bitterness for something which happened yesterday, and the dread of what tomorrow may bring.

Let us, therefore, live one day at a time!

Author Unknown

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Memories of Mother

Memories come to mind of my Mother born into the predominantly agrarian nineteenth century and her transition into the twentieth century industrial world. I wrote about some of her world last year on May 11th in “Mother’s Day Thoughts.

These days when so many experience difficulties encountered as a consequence of a nation and world economic upheaval unlike any in my lifetime, I often wonder what my mother would have to say on the subject. She had become a young married woman during the twenties heydays preceding the Great Depression. I recall her descriptions of a none too easy early married life that evolved into a more prosperous existence in later years as occurs with many couples.

She said the hardships during that financial downturn did not directly adversely affect our family. They occurred before I was born later in her life. Our immunity to severe hardship was primarily because my father’s work was associated with the newspaper business. Newspapers were the primary source of news, so were in much demand by almost everyone regardless of their financial situation. In fact, two of the most prominent state newspapers were vying for his services.

Radio was just beginning with unprecedented broadcasting power thanks to Powell Crosley and the ultimate “Nation’s Station” WLW in Cincinnati, Ohio.

There was no TV yet, much less computers and the Internet of today. Newspapers were a primary source listing employment opportunities for those seeking work. People placed ads to sell belongings so they could raise some desperately needed cash while others with limited cash sought bargain prices as they needed these items but had little cash themselves. Everyone wanted to subscribe or at least access a newspaper. This is hardly the situation that exists today in the newspaper business.

During the Depression my mother continued to be active in her womens religious group. They devoted themselves to helping others in need, an activity in which she engaged for many of those years and throughout her lifetime when she was able.

A few years after I was born our fortunes changed and my mother became a single parent in a time when a woman raising a family alone had a very difficult time. My immediate family had never lived extravagantly, but as I entered my early childhood years I was absorbing from my mother the lessons of needing to be even more practical and frugal.

She was a remarkable woman who in her later years in the face of adversity when she became legally blind and limited in visual activities created unique hooked rugs that became unexpectedly desired by others. This is a one-of-a-kind small rectangular throw rug which she experimented hooking before her vision deteriorated even further necessitating larger different geometric patterning. My photography does not do the colors justice. My mother would be amused the tips of my shoes appear.

My mother had an amazingly optimistic and positive attitude toward life. She made multiple transitions and adaptations to her varying circumstances. I marvel at how well she coped as she lived happily independently most of her remaining almost 90 years. I miss her.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Propagating Remote Control Units

(BTW everything is not as it appears in the photo.)

Following-up on the theme of some of my previous posts the past two months . . . .

One other tech change at my house especially pleasing to me occurred when the many remotes required to operate my television, recording and playback units were consolidated on to one universal remote. The addition of the digital converter box suddenly made me realize just how many of these remote gadgets had to be used for various functions. I wondered, where had all these remote control units come from? Similar to people, they seem to exist in all shapes and sizes. Confronted with so many I imagined when no one was around a covert coupling had occurred creating another remote unit. I have been assured this fantasy did not occur but still I wonder.

When the remote consolidation process began I watched with great trepidation when two remote control units were placed end to end, buttons were pushed and occasional light flashes could be seen. This additional similarity with human beings seemed uncanny. Perhaps, contrary to what I had been told, this was how remotes propagated and I would end up with even more units, not just the single one? No doubt others have been subjected to remote control propagation in their household and have had to cope with my same problem. I continued to experience some anxiety while observing this procedure, wondering what might occur. I was greatly relieved when the transfer process completed and I could see there were no additional remotes. Gloriously my need to use so many remote control units actually diminished in number.

I am concerned that one remote has assumed rather over-sized proportions as you can see and this isn’t trick photography. What are the implications of this and what does that portend for the future? Perhaps I need to install a secretive video system throughout the house just to keep track of what those remotes are doing. Maybe I should just take their batteries away.

Still an escalating number of batteries still seem to be required despite my remote consolidation process since other energy using gadgets keep invading my home. Imagine if more people shared my home bringing their own devices how many additional batteries and remotes there would be. Now that I think about it, as I get older maybe I should have more batteries. Life often seems to increasingly be filled with my trying to keep charged. So, make of that what you will.

Why doesn’t some engineering tech genius invent a small inexpensive portable solar unit for various size rechargeable batteries? I want a unit I can periodically set outside on a sunny day to fully charge, then have at the ready to recharge my various batteries as needed. Someday … maybe sooner than I realize … this will be possible. Someone somewhere is probably working on such a solar battery as I write this. Or, maybe such a charger and battery has already been invented and I simply haven’t learned about it.