Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2017

Archive for the tag “Family”

A Reblog from “I Didn’t Have My Glasses On” – “a waking dream.”

A Reblog courtesy of:

I didn’t have my glasses on….

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

 

a waking dream.

a waking dream.

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Refugee children have written a book of fairy tales and it's just awesome

 Refugee children have written a book of fairy tales and it’s just awesome. Travelling Tales features chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.

A collection of fairy tales written by child refugees in Greece has gone on sale to help those like the book’s authors.

Travelling Tales features a rugby-playing dog, a king who grew to love animals and chickens fighting an alien invasion among its eight stories.

The book is the brainchild of Brazilian journalist Debora de Pina Castiglione and her sister Beatriz. The two combined their love of words and illustrations to create the book but the ideas came directly from the children.

Debora ran workshops with Syrian and Kurdish children aged between four and 14 years old, at three refugee camps close to Thessaloniki in Vasilika, Lagadikia and Oreokastro.

Front cover of Travelling Tales

It gave the children something to do without focusing on their own lives.“The idea was not to have the children talk about their journeys or experiences fleeing war, at least not directly,” Debora said. “It was to let them tell the stories they wanted to, in ways they chose themselves.

“I think it’s important for young people to engage with one another. Children all over the world are watching the refugee situation, or hearing it on news programmes their parents watch and listen to, and as well as hoping it would be an interesting project for the children at the camps, I wanted to do something so the children outside of the crisis could see the children caught up in it on their own terms, as children with fun and interesting stories, just like they are.”

And there is something entirely captivating about the stories. In The Travelling Princess, Amira shuns her royal title to live as a poor person who goes around giving away gold she found as she explored the world.

In Aliens vs Chicken, Earth is under attack from extraterrestrials who want to steal all the chicken eggs in the world. While humans are relieved about the aliens’ demands, the chickens are not happy and fight back, reclaiming the eggs.

The story was written by nine-year-old Shahd who lives in the military camp of Lagadikia. Debora describes her stories as “full of adventure. Her creativity reminds us that there are heroes even where we least expect to find them.”

“We spent four months with the children,” Debora added. “In some cases, the children spoke English very well, and had quite clear ideas of their stories. In others, we worked with a translator, and also spent time with them to help them develop their ideas, to make the stories hold together better.

Illustration from Travelling Tales

“But the point was that these are the stories of the children, so we didn’t change their words, or add anything they did not include themselves.”

Five professional illustrators helped to bring the stories to life, including Beatriz.

The book was published last month and is available in English as well as Greek, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German and Dutch. It is for sale via Amazon priced at £10.

Money collected from the sale of the book will be used to help support projects that look for alternative housing solutions to the military camps.

“hope is a waking dream.”

-aristotle

credits: the irish news, Debora and Beatriz de Pina Castiglione, child refugees in greece

#teachers for refugees

A thousand Thanks to KSBeth for allowing me to share this with you.

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Pass The Croutons 

WE, MEANING MYSELF, MY WIFE, THE LOVELY AND COLLECTIVELY WONDERFUL, DAWN, OUR EVER YOUTHFUL BOY, ALEX, and whichever of our friends will go with us, enjoy lunch together every Sunday.

Where we go to eat changes weekly. Some weeks we go out for pizza. The next week we might hit one of the 70,000 chain restaurants that have found a home in Terre Haute (That’s French for “What’s your soup today?”). You name a franchise eatery and it has a store here. Good, bad, or ugly, if they have a plastic menu they can make a buck feeding the residents of the Hautian Ocean.

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Swat! Slap! I Got Him! Aw, He Got Me.

MY SKIN LOOKS LIKE A CLOSE-UP OF THE SURFACE OF AN ORANGE. I am covered with mosquito bites. Why me, Oh Lord?

“Because you are a warm blooded creation that makes mosquitoes go ‘Yum,’ My son.”

Well, that explains it all. Thanks, God.

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey a Gazillion mosquito larvae erupted into the air, all looking for lunch and I must look like the buffet at the Golden Corral Restaurant.

Welcome to post-hurricane Texas.

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Look! Up In The Sky!

Sunday afternoon, 8/27, about 4:40 PM:

Blue Sky! I saw a patch of blue sky. It was about the size of a kindergarten classroom chair, but it was there for a few fleeting moments. It’s a good sign. Not as good as a dove with an olive branch I admit, but it’s still pretty good. I saw that bit of blue through the raindrops.

I saw this when we were on our way back after taking part in a frenzied shopping trip to the only big supermarket that is open between here and France. France – The one in Europe.

The market was wall to wall people, all looking for something they can eat and drink. The town where that market is located still has no power. The store had its own generators going from the get-go to keep everything edible. There were police officers at every door just to keep some semblance of order. If I wasn’t so tired and in need of a shower I might have given in to my urge to stand at the front door and yell, “Soylent Green! It’s people! Soylent Green is made from people!” Only folks over 40 would know what I was talking about, but even they wouldn’t care under the circumstances. It was marked down 40%.

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Hurricane!

Saturday morning – 8/26/17:

The wind and rain continues without let-up. Our cell phones are still connecting. Dawn’s brother who lives a couple of blocks away has measured 4.5 inches of rain. The storm continues to move onto land, but slowly. The folks at the other end of this county are getting hit the worst and they are very close to sea level.

What reports we can get are putting the winds peaking at about 132 mph. A nursing home directly in the path of the storm has collapsed. We learned later that one person died there.

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Hold On Tight

8/24/17:

Not Harvey, but his older brother

LESS THAN A MONTH AFTER RETURNING from Texas we are back in the Coastal Bend Country on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico. This time for a funeral…and just in time for Hurricane Harvey.

We landed at the Corpus Christi airport on Wednesday afternoon and the hurricane warnings went up on Thursday morning. Timing is everything, ain’t it?

This is my first hurricane. For my wife, the lovely and meteorologically experienced, Dawn, this is not her first rodeo. She whipped into action along with everyone else in the possible pathway of the storm.

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Do You Know The Muffin Man ?

THE TIMER IS COUNTING DOWN. Tension fills the air. The crowds are a-buzz with antici…….pation. I am on Muffin Watch.

It is Saturday morning at Gramma’s House. We have all had our tea so our hearts are once again beating.

My wife, the lovely and culinarily adept, Dawn, has put some muffins in the oven and handed me the responsibility of keeping watch on them. Everyone seems to be a bit nervous – no – they are scared. They are fearful that I will drop the ball on this and instead of hot steamy muffins dripping butter or jam we will have charcoal briquettes. I mean – really now! I am a college graduate.

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A Basket Of Brisket

WELL, HERE WE GO – OFF TO TEXAS! Surprisingly our flights were uneventful – which is what you want. Eventful airplane flights make the news and that is never a good thing. Things even went smoothly in our dealings with the TSA aerobic organisms. I think they were having an “On-The Job Slumber Party. They were just waving people through without even looking at them. I bet I could have walked through there toting a Howitzer and Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. It always makes me feel so safe.

Once we got to our ultimate destination (Corpus Christi) we did what any sensible person would do – we stopped for lunch at Whataburger. It’s a tradition that goes back to the days of the Alamo and Davy Crockett I think. A Family thing, you know.

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I Am In The Upright And Locked Position

HERE WE GO AGAIN. We are barely home from our trip to Georgia and we are packing up for a visit with the family in Texas.

By the time this moves to the head of the queue we will probably be back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “We left the TV on.”). Such is the miracle of scheduling the posting of blog entries ahead of time.

There is a time difference to deal with when we go to Texas – it will be 1 PM in Indiana, but it will be High Noon in the Furnaces of Hell in South Texas. It gets HOT there in July. I like things on the warm side, but when we go to Texas in July I don’t feel like I’m sweating. It’s more like I’m being basted.

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Happy July 4th !

 

Today is the Fourth of July, the birthday of our nation.

 

 

It is a day to be spent with family and friends, so go do that and I’ll see you all tomorrow!

Be Thankful

A Treasure

YESTERDAY WAS JUNE THE 6TH AND I WROTE ABOUT D-DAY AND WORLD WAR TWO, but that date holds additional meaning for me.

June the 6th was also my mother’s birthday. It was and, in my heart and mind, always will be.

I’m an old man now and my parents passed away a long time ago. Both of them were born in 1911. Yesterday would have been my mother’s 106th birthday.

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It’s Not About Cats

MEMORIES? WHERE DO THEY GO TO HIDE? Why do they pop back into your conscious mind after a lifetime stored in the folds and wrinkles of your brain?

I had such a memory bob back to the surface the other day and, when it did, all of the details were as fresh as if it had just happened yesterday.

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If A Tree Falls In The Woods…

fam1FAMILIES ARE AMAZING INSTITUTIONS. Some people can trace their “tree” back centuries into the shadowy mists of time while others seem to have popped up with the most recent rainfall. I think it all depends on how much research you want to do and how much fertilizer you are willing to spread.

Today’s world is one where our lives are very fluidic. People move from one place to another as easily as a mountain stream. Town to Town, City to City, Continent to Continent. Immigration and Emigration are words we hear every day.

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Happy Birthday, Momo

stevie-wonder-surprisedIT’S A BEAUTIFUL DAY FOR THIS EARLY IN THE YEAR. The sun is shining and the temperature is in the low 60s. If I didn’t know better I’d call it a Spring Day. I like it.

The only dark cloud on the horizon seems to be that it is getting to be time to take the Toyota in for its 30K mile checkup and an oil change.

“Open your hood, stick out your air filter and say ‘Ahhh’.”  The mechanic grabs the fan belt and says to hit the turn signals and cough. Rotate those tires.

I don’t expect there to be any major problems. It seems to be running just fine. It goes forward when I step on the gas and it stops when I hit the brakes. Beyond that I don’t ask for much. It’s a car – not a financial advisor or a podiatrist.

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Throwback Thursday From January 2015

Throwback Thursday from January 2015

The Last Biscuit Protocol

last biscuit

 

BY AND LARGE we are a polite society. Of course, the exceptions to that are loud, obnoxious, and to be avoided at all costs – particularly around dinner time.

Whenever the family gathers, like at Christmastime, or other major events, we can have a considerable number around the table. And, for the most part, they are members of that polite society. But that politeness can lead to some interesting observations. Let me explain.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2015

Throwback Thursday from January 2015

Don’t Blame Me

Sled

I LIKE SNOW LESS than I like going up and down flights of stairs. I like snow less than I like going up and down flights of stairs that don’t have handrails on both sides.

I like snow less than I like Jeff Bridges movies – and that is saying something.

But why do I feel this way? Is there some deep, dark, pseudo-psychological, brain cell tweak memory that has made me feel this way? Could be.

Reaching back into the musty attic of my memory I am sure that, up until the age of ten or so, I was really into winter and snow. There were snowball fights defending the snow-fort we constructed in the back yard. And there was sledding down the sloping streets in the neighborhood. We did that, ignoring the fact that we lived two blocks from a steel mill, which had heavy duty semis going up and down the streets twenty-four hours a day. We rode our sleds down hills where the streets were under construction from dirt to pavement. I think that that might be the when and where that my feelings toward snow may have changed.

I was about nine or ten years old and just one block away from our house was a street that went downhill for three whole blocks until it hit the railroad tracks. There was a lot of work going on along the way downhill. Huge storm drain pipes were being installed and they sat along the side of the street waiting to be buried come spring.

To get a really good rate of speed downhill you would get a running start, then throw yourself down onto the sled and hold on. Steering was accomplished mostly by dragging one foot or the other into the ice. On the day in question, when my love for snow disappeared, I was just flying down that hill!

From what I was told by the other kids, I have no direct personal memory, I was going downhill at a good clip when another kid lost control and swerved right into my path. By reflex I dropped my left foot into the ice and made a sharp right turn right into a huge section of the storm drain pipe by the side of the street.

The next thing I actually recall is being carried by several kids back to our house and my mother screaming. It seems that my face was covered in blood and already swelling up to resemble an overripe cantaloupe.

After a quick preliminary inspection somebody drove us to the hospital emergency room. This was in an era before Paramedics came to you.

The immediate end result was three stitches under my left eye, a face so bloated that I ate soup through a straw for a week, and parental confiscation of my sled. They failed to appreciate my quick reaction time, avoiding a potential collision with another kid, and only saw my failure to choose the lesser of the two collision targets. There were few soups available that could be navigated successfully through a soda straw.

Yup. I think it was then that my love affair with winter and snow ended in an image seared into my brain of scar tissue and sucking up broth through a paper straw.

So, don’t blame me if I grumble and moan about winter. Blame that other kid who couldn’t keep his own sled under control.

I Intend To Rock Their World

front-deskTHINGS WERE GOING SMOOTHLY… TOO SMOOTHLY.

All we wanted to do was get on the airplane to Texas and do the whole Christmas thing. Perhaps we were asking for too much. To put it in just a few words – “Anything that could go wrong did go wrong.”

We had a scheduled flight to take us from Indianapolis to Houston. Our liftoff time was 7:45 AM. Rather than get up at 2 in the morning to pack the car and drive to Indy we did our usual thing. We went up the afternoon before, and checked in at a hotel near the airport. That way we could get a good night’s sleep, leave the car at the hotel, and take the hotel shuttle to the nearby airport. We have done this a dozen times without any problems.

Our shuttle was set for 6 AM.

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Merry Christmas To You All!

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

A Postponement

burns

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft a-gley,
An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promised joy.”

— Robert Burns

Translated into modern American English:

“Let’s take a look at Plan B.”

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Knock, Knock. Who’s There?

highway-sign-jpg-1WE ARE GOING TO BE TAKING A TRIP DOWN TO TEXAS the day after tomorrow. A surprise visit. A complete surprise. Nobody in Texas knows that we are coming.

Surprise visits may be a cute idea, but I’m not so sure that it is so cute to pull a surprise like this on Dawn’s 95 year old Mother.

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