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Memorial Day, a Poem by Alfred Joyce Kilmer

Memorial Day, Fallen soldiers

Memorial Day
By Alfred Joyce Kilmer

“Dulce et decorum est”

The bugle echoes shrill and sweet,
But not of war it sings to-day.
The road is rhythmic with the feet
Of men-at-arms who come to pray.

The roses blossom white and red
On tombs where weary soldiers lie;
Flags wave above the honored dead
And martial music cleaves the sky.

Above their wreath-strewn graves we kneel,
They kept the faith and fought the fight.
Through flying lead and crimson steel
They plunged for Freedom and the Right.

May we, their grateful children, learn
Their strength, who lie beneath this sod,
Who went through fire and death to earn
At last the accolade of God.

In shining rank on rank arrayed
They march, the legions of the Lord;
He is their Captain unafraid,
The Prince of Peace . . . Who brought a sword.

 
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Posted by on May 30, 2016 in Celebrations, Memorial

 

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Basic Instincts: Taking a Page from Nature

spiderweb, nature

How did you react when you first unknowingly walked into a spider web? Trying to get that sticky web off of your face is tangled, uncomfortable mess. I watched a spider painstakingly weave its web as the rising sun hit the glistening threads between the leaves of two neighboring trees. I observed this spider working tediously back and forth along this invisible line of finely woven threads and wondered how in the world can it see these transparent strands to make an amazing net to catch its bounty of food in.

Every morning I rise early to walk outside and breathe in the flow of new air. I listen to the sounds of birds peacefully harmonize without some critic telling them to stop. I look at new leaves begin to unfold or a brand new bud getting ready to burst forth into a colorful flower blossom. I watch, listen and smell, and I think “That is good!”

Nature, ButterfliesIncredibly, nature knows its basic instincts for surviving, growing and embracing the gracious gift of life that make each animal, insect, fish, fowl, flower or tree flourish each day. I notice how squirrels leap from an oak tree and onto the ground digging quickly for a snack. I marvel at butterflies and bees landing on my butterfly bush enjoying the sweet nectar it is producing.

I see the shell of a turtle whose neck is steering straight ahead as it slowly makes its way towards an embankment. Every so often I see a fish somersault out of the lake and splash with intentional and carefree folly like a whale splashing in the ocean. What do I learn from all of these observations? I learned that all of these creatures use their basic instincts to celebrate life. They don’t make things complicated like humans do. They don’t worry or over-think, but they follow their natural instincts to do what they were created to do. They survive and bask in the present moment of what life presents to them.

We don’t have to be like the insects, animals, flora or fauna, but we can certainly take a page from their basic instincts book and be the people God created us to be, with the courage, nurturing, loving and empathetic spirit that we were all given at birth. That’s what our basic instinct is all about.

 

 

 

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Poetry on a Rainy Day?

When it’s raining, everyone is in a rush to get where they are going as quickly as possible. In Boston, Massachusetts however, many sidewalks are beaming with poetry in the rain. In honor of National Poetry Month, Mass Poetry, in partnership with The City of Boston, presented Raining Poetry.

Using a biodegradable water-repellent spray and stencils made by local artists, the city’s Mural Crew placed poems throughout the streets of Boston. The spray vanishes once dry, making the poems invisible – until it rains that is. Once wet, the area around the poems will darken, and as Bostonians walked around the city, they were treated to short poems by Langston Hughes, Gary Duehr, Barbara Helfgott Hyett and Elizabeth McKim. Boston’s Poet Laureate, Danielle Georges, selected four poems for the initial art installation, including three by Massachusetts poets.

According to their website, Mass Poetry was founded in 2009, after Mass Humanities and the Mass Cultural Council backed an effort to investigate the “state of poetry” in Massachusetts. Mass Poetry’s founder, Michael Ansara, and former Congressman Chet Atkins felt that while the Commonwealth has as many talented poets as any state, there was little recognition or support for poets and a huge disconnect between the larger public and the wealth of poetic talent.

If you’re ever in the Boston, Massachusetts area, especially when it rains, be sure to check out Raining Poetry! How poetically mysterious!

 

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Funerals: The New Family Reunion?

Funerals, Family Reunions, From Behind the PenWhether the day begins with rain or sunshine, the emotion of joy, pain and laughter will resonate throughout the sea of family members as they gather one more time on a sad occasion. Listening to the eulogy, standing at the gravesite as the remains are committed back to the earth, and sharing a meal and a memory at the repast, some of the faces who are present and the person who has passed away are the different characters in this play.

As I prepared to attend my first cousin’s funeral over the weekend, I said to my husband and a few of my family members that funerals have now become the new family reunion. I don’t mean to sound morbid, but this is becoming all too common of an occurrence. Memories of when we were younger painted a different picture of family gatherings, regardless of whose house we visited, ate or slept at. We were all very close, and we knew who our blood family members were and where our family members by marriage fit in. Most of the family lived in a relatively short travel distance from each other, so our visits were more frequent back in the day.

Not having seen so many of my relatives in 40 years or more, the dynamic of reunions for many of us who have moved further away from our birthplace and family homesteads, are blurring the lines of our memories. We are losing traction of the grasp we once had on the tribal community that was filled with some crazy swashbuckling uncles, carefree cousins and aunts who made sure you ate until you were as full as a tick. Things didn’t seem so complicated way back when, but I wonder what our foreparents would say right now if they could speak beyond the grave about what is becoming of our modern family unit.

We grow up and move to locations that attract us or is to our liking, due to marriage or to seek new opportunities for growth. This relocation by so many only loosens the familial tapestry as the ties that bind us weakens. While we acknowledge that our family embodies many highs and lows, many trials and triumphs, many dysfunctions and normalcy’s, there is something almost surreal yet spiritually enlightening that I am experiencing right now. I look at what has become of us. A lot has changed and a lot remains the same. Behind many faces there is wisdom, while others still hide a myriad of emotions whether good, bad or indifferent. The eyes don’t lie, no matter what the mouth says.

Yet we try, starting all over again with a few in number and then adding on to that tribal total. We promise to do better by staying in touch and we must keep those promises. I and my first cousins have now become our parents’ generation and there are two generations that follow (in a few cases 3). With the advent of social media, I have been able to connect to two generations of relatives and many dear friends who are like family to me. But when I reflect on all of those loved ones who tragically left us, whose voices we will no longer hear, I think about how they may be looking down at us, gathering around the big screen with God, wondering what we’re going to do next to resolve this separation and alienation.

“Life” has happened and for the most part, we all have endured one challenging thing after another that made us examine our lives in a deeper and spiritual way…challenges that have either strengthened us or weakened us…challenges that we grew from or succumbed to…challenges that change us somehow. We continue the same reverberation at every funeral or memorial service, “We must do better as a family and get together, but not at the next funeral.” As easy as it sounds flowing from our lips, it is not an easy task to accomplish. What ends up happening is another funeral…another sad reunion. How will the generations that follow know their genealogy if we don’t tell them just as our parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles told us? You won’t know where you’re going to if you don’t know where you’re coming from!

So here we are once again, at a family reunion because another family member has transitioned to another dimension. Everyone’s pain is felt differently and processed individually. Even members of the same family feel and express their genuine sorrow differently. Realistically, we know that everyone will not have that warm and fuzzy feeling for each other and that’s ok. All I can say is, we have to first be divinely connected in order to understand how to divinely reconnect. I don’t mean religiously, I mean spiritually as blood binds us. And as Forrest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that!”

 

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2016 in Reflections

 

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Grab a Basket and Celebrate Pick Strawberries Day

Pick Strawberries Day, Strawberries

Today is Pick Strawberries Day! That’s right! What a great day to find your local strawberry farm or business and pick a basket or two of fresh strawberries.

Pick Strawberries Day, StrawberriesDid you know that the strawberry is widely appreciated for its aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness? It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in prepared foods such as preserves, salads, fruit juice, pies, tropical beverages, ice creams, milkshakes, and chocolates.

Strawberries are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They are also a good source of folate and potassium, and a very good source of dietary fiber, and manganese. What are your favorite recipes when you use strawberries as your primary ingredient?

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2016 in Food

 

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Museums and Cultural Landscapes

ICOM, Museums, International Museum Day

Image Credit: icom.museum

From the world museum community, today we celebrate International Museum Day. The theme for the 2016 International Museum Day celebration is “Museums and Cultural Landscapes,” which is also the theme for the General Conference of the International Council of Museums (ICOM), to be held in Milan, Italy from July 3-9, 2016.

International Museum Day helps to raise awareness on how important museums are in the development of society. Over the years, ICOM has evolved in accordance with international museum professionals’ needs worldwide, keeping in mind its main mission. More than 60 years after its creation, the organization continues to represent the global museum community.

In celebration of International Museum Day, go out and visit your local museum. Learn more about this commemoration of archives, artifacts and docent-led tours by checking out ICOM International Museum Day!

 

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May is National Scrapbook Month

Scrapbook, Scrapbooking, National Scrapbook MonthWhat do you use to enhance your favorite memories? For that crafty side of us, we tend to preserve our personal and family memorabilia in a scrapbook. These creative albums go beyond the typical photo album. They are often decorated and contain postcards, letters, photographs, newspaper clippings, invitations, cards, poems, recipes and other things unique to the collector or creator of these albums.

Scrapbooks tell a story about a person’s or family’s history. It’s an interesting customized slideshow of artifacts and souvenirs that depict some important moments of the scrapbook maker’s life. Sometimes people think that scrapbooking is strictly a hobby older women engage in, like quilting for example. If you look closely, you will find that scrapbooking has a number of fans among young people and even men.

Although many people love digital scrapbooking, it just doesn’t carry the same type of spirit that a handmade scrapbook can carry and that can be passed down through generations. It’s also interesting to see the types of materials used when the memory book was created.

Are you a scrapbooker? Are you a member of a scrapbook community? What interesting things do you use when you create your scrapbook masterpiece?

 
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Posted by on May 16, 2016 in Books, Leisure Pursuits

 

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