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 – 2018
TWICE IN THE LAST WEEK I HAVE WITNESSED A CLICHÉ COME TO LIFE. My head is still shaking in disbelief.
A few days ago over coffee I was having a conversation with a recently retired school teacher. After about six million years in the classroom he is now taking it easy and enjoying life. One of his pastimes is collecting and restoring antique cash registers.
TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “We have returned”…from Texas that is, and we are now going to reconquer Terre Haute (That’s French for “Hey! This ain’t the Philippines.”).
Christmas and New Years in South Texas (Sinton – Population about 5500) should be relatively warm – mid 70s or so, but not this year. There were days in the 30s and 40s and always damp. It felt like we were living inside a Styrofoam beer cooler. Then we had to return to Indiana to be greeted with minus 9° degrees. I haven’t been warm since July.
NOT LONG AGO I WAS CHATTING with one of the younger members of the family. She is in the sixth grade and turning into an interesting human being. She is past that Baby stage and is thinking about her future.
I asked her if she had given any thought to what she would like to be when she grows up. She answered me.
BACK TO TEXAS – FOR THE TIME BEING. We have been home for Thanksgiving, but we will be lining up for flights heading south again for Christmas.
Ho. Ho. Ho.
As anyone over the age of 12 can tell you, family trips are no vacation. That’s just a law of Nature. Not that I don’t enjoy seeing and being with the fine members of the family. It is that “grown-up matters are the primary function of such trips. Life.
I CAN AND WILL CONTINUE TO SLEEP just about anywhere. I can sleep on airplanes. I can sleep on a crowded bus. I even fell asleep on stage one time. I’m good at sleeping.
As I write this we are down in Texas once again. Family business brings us to the Corpus Christi area for the fifth month in a row and Christmas will send us south once again. This means a lot of sleeping in strange beds and some strange sleeping.
WE CONTINUE TO BE DEEP IN THE…no, it’s not the heart. We’re down further than that. …Deep in the Pancreas of Texas. The weather is pleasantly warm once again and, Thank God, pretty much mosquito free.
We are staying in the old family home which is right across the street from the “Bonecrusher Arena” – the football field of Sinton High School. There was a game there last Friday night. The hometown boys lost 54 – 0. “Bonecrusher Arena,” indeed. At least they are showing improvement. The week before they lost 60 – 0.
WHENEVER I AM DRIVING AROUND TOWN lately I’m seeing something that makes me wonder a bit. Not a lot, just a bit. What I’m seeing are those stick figure decals on the rear windows of cars. In the beginning these decals or stickers were showing just your basic nuclear family: Mommy, Daddy, and a couple of kids.
It didn’t take long before someone added the family dog to the lineup. After that the floodgates were opened. More kids, Granny and Grandpa. If there had been a divorce the decal would show a space with a Vacancy sign.
I spent most of a quarter hour doing extensive research into this and about all I learned was that some people have incredibly bad taste.
THERE ARE ONLY TWO TIMES when families get together en masse – weddings and funerals. Nobody got married this week. After the departed is laid to rest everyone gathers together and tells stories. They also try to figure out who are those little ones who have grown so tall since the last gathering.
There are always new babies to look at and questions asked about anyone who isn’t there. There is also someone trying to explain how and who is related to whom.
“Hiram over there is your third Cousin, twice removed, and married to Lulubelle who is actually the sister in-law to your Aunt Fedora Mae. Got it?”
“But who is that man sitting over there by the potato chips?”
GREETINGS, YET AGAIN, FROM TEXAS. South Texas where for the last two days it has been colder than it has been back in Terre Haute (That’s French for “Ay, Caramba, hace mucho frio!”) I did not plan on this. I did not pack for this. I do not like this. The solution is: Go to Wally World and buy a sweatshirt or twelve.
I also did not pack so as to be properly dressed for a funeral. An uncle passed away suddenly a couple of days ago so we have extended our stay. Considering that my suitcase has nothing but Levis and Hawaiian shirts a more extensive shopping foray is in order. Wally World just ain’t gonna cut it.
All I really need are a pair of decent slacks and a shirt that doesn’t have palm trees on it. That and doesn’t cost too much.
I DROVE PAST MY NEIGHBORHOOD TACO BELL yesterday. I was glad to see that they are continuing to value their staff by naming another “Employee of the Month.” This month’s winner of the coveted “Golden Taco” is named “Ant.” That’s it. Just “Ant.” I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that “Ant” is a nickname.
“Ant,” Not “An Ant.” Thank Heavens; I’d hate to think that one of the ways to work there and be named “Employee of the Month” would be to have six legs. Although during a busy time at the restaurant that could be an asset.
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.
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.
“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.”
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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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.
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%.
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.
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.
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.
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.
John Kraft is a writer living and working in Terre Haute, Indiana. He moved to the Midwest after 25 years in California where he worked as an actor, comedian, voice-over actor, as well as a writer. He now enjoys a saner pace of life with his wife, Dawn, who tries to keep him from embarrassing himself in public.
Perhaps I should explain the title of this blog: Down the Hall on Your Left.
My name is John. People are always asking where they can find "The John." My answer is: "Down the Hall on Your Left."