As we scrambled today to batten-down everything that could fly away or become a missile during the hurricane that is about to hit Florida and the East Coast of the United States, I decided to write something about a place far away with their own problems…and delights…Paris, France.
No, I won’t talk about the terrible tragedies that happened along the Champs Elysées when a crazy mowed down the poor pedestrians just strolling along and enjoying this beautiful city. We have enough crazies right here in the U.S. doing equally insane things.
Instead, I want to write about nostalgia. Paris is a place of history, romance, and the Eiffel Tower. We have places of nostalgia, believe it or not, right here in a not so old country. They are our favorite places to eat, sit and talk with those who also love to go there and talk, eat and sit. I know some ladies in the Blue Ridge Mountains who meet every day for a cup of coffee in our favorite “Mom and Pop” place. How many cups they consume, I’m not certain, but they are always there…relaxing and enjoying life.
Why are we drawn to special eating places? The Cafe, The Bar, The Up-scale Restaurant like Ruth Chris or down-home Mom and Pop places.
What makes a good cafe? It is probably the people in Paris, as an American artist from New York, Rick Tulka, finds fascinating. Let’s let him explain why he goes to the cafes. He’s been going there for years.
Turn up your sound.
It has been a few years since I strolled through the Fall leaves and sites of Japan. The Japanese maples were at their most brilliant colors. It has been my hope to return someday and see the glorious Spring in Japan when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. I may have to wait and see them in Washington, D.C. These cherry trees were given in 1910 as a gift from Japan to the United States, in happier times before World War II.
History of the Cherry Trees in Washington you may not know:
- In 1885, Eliza Scidmore returned from her first trip to Japan and approached the U.S. Army Superintendent of the Office of Public Buildings and Grounds with the idea of planting cherry trees along the reclaimed waterfront of the Potomac River.
- Mrs Scidmore, who was the first female board member of the National Geographic Society, was rebuffed, though she would continue proposing the idea to every Superintendent for the next 24 years!.
- Through persistence and some help from Mrs. Taft, the First Lady at the time, in 1909 the Embassy of Japan informed the U.S. Dept of State, the city of Tokyo intended to donate 2000 cherry trees to the United States to be planted along the Potomac.
- The first batch of 2,000 trees arrived diseased in 1910.
- Japanese chemist, Takamine, who discovered adrenaline, was in Washington with Mr. Midzuno, the Japanese consul to New York. Takamine asked if Mrs. Taft would accept an additional, healthy 2000 trees and she did. The first trees were planted.
The Japanese Lantern is a stone statue in West Potomac Park. It is lighted during the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. A pair of lanterns were created in 1651, to mark the death of Tokugawa Iemitsu, who was the third shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty. The lantern was formerly located at the Tosho-gu temple, in Ureno Park, where its twin remains today. The lantern was given, by the governor of Tokyo, to the people of the United States, and was dedicated on March 30, 1954. (Click here to see a panoramic view of the Tosho-gu temple in Ureno Park, Japan)
History of Washington cherry trees continued:
- The first “Cherry Blossom Festival” was held in late 1934 under joint sponsorship by numerous civic groups, becoming an annual event. The cherry trees had by this point become an established part of the nation’s capital.
- In 1938, plans to cut down the cherry trees to clear ground for the Jefferson Memorial prompted a group of women to chain themselves together at the site in protest. “This is the worst desecration of beauty in the capital since the burning of the White House by the British,” a woman chained to a tree proclaimed. Roosevelt, who was President at the time, remained unmoved by the protests. If the activists didn’t remove themselves, he said, “…the cherry trees, the women and their chains would be gently but firmly transplanted in some other part of Potomac Park.” The women finally left and the particular trees were taken out in the middle of the night to be transplanted in another place.
- A compromise was reached where more trees would be planted along the south side of the Basin to frame the Memorial. These women would be happy to know that there are today 2,750 cherry trees in Washington, D.C.
- However, World War II brought some problems. On December 11, 1941, four trees were cut down. It is suspected that this was retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Empire of Japan four days earlier.
- In hopes of dissuading people from further attacks upon the trees during the war, they were referred to as “Oriental” flowering cherry trees for the war’s duration.
- Suspended during World War II, the festival resumed in 1947 with the support of the Washington, D.C., Board of Trade and the D.C. Commissioners and has been an annual event since then. (credit: National Cherry Blossom Festival, Wikipedia and Stacy Conradt)
Japanese Cherry Trees in Japan:
For my reader’s pleasure, the music you are about to hear has been composed by Peter Helland of Norway. His purpose was to help the listener to slow down, relax, and enjoy the peacefulness of his music. Thank you, Peter, for we all need a rest in our often trying world. We also thank you for including the beautiful cherry trees in your video. (It would be my suggestion to use this music, in its entirety, as background music for rest or something you can do while relaxing. Enjoy!)
Music and pictures for “slowing down” and relaxation
Video (Turn up sound)
When we are in Virginia, we receive an email telling us when the Space Station will be flying over our home and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because we have no street lights, it is quite clear and the Station can be seen moving on the path above our heads.
The video I’m sharing with my readers today shows a working relationship between the U.S., Russia and Japanese astronauts. It is a good thing that they are professionals and want to do their work and experiments without political interruption. Hope you enjoy this as much as I did.
The tour of the Space Station is given by Sunita Pandya Williams, an American astronaut and U.S. Navy officer of Indo-Slovenian descent. She formerly held the records for total spacewalks by a woman (seven) and most spacewalk time for a woman (50 hours, 40 minutes). Sunita was assigned to the International Space Station as a member of Expeditions 14 and 15. In 2012, she served as a flight engineer on Expedition 32 and then commander of Expedition 33. (Wikipedia)
Thank you, Sunita Williams, for your great tour. As we watch from the ground, we know better what the crews in the Space Station are experiencing amid the stars. Long live international cooperation!
VIDEO (Turn up sound)
This year has been an exciting one for me. I have had the opportunity to interview many people for my books and actually seeing the books go to print. Today I would like to share with you my 2017 books that followed my books for children in previous years.
(The links are in blue.)
One of my most recent books, SPENCER’S MILL, is fiction set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. It is a cast of characters with an exciting plot that incorporates the history of the decline and failure of mill industries in North Carolina and Virginia when those businesses went to other countries around the world, leaving people without jobs. It is the story of their strength to carry on and find enriched lives for themselves.
Old Timers of the Blue Ridge is a series of interviews with people who have relatives that go back to the Civil War. The stories they shared are interesting reading and gives insight into the cultures of the mountain people. They tell of what it was like to grow up in the Blue Ridge…their joys and sorrows.
CIVIL WAR RE-ENACTMENTS This book, North and South at the Blue Ridge Mountains, gives a short overview of the Civil War and the leaders from both sides. It explains the Reenactment that takes place yearly in October in the mountains of Virginia, near Ararat, VA. I included a large selection of photographs of the reenactment which gives a beautiful description of this event. Men and women dress the part of the period. The main goal of the Civil War Reenactors is to not forget the history of our country.
THE SEEDS This novel originated from a post on my blog that I wrote in 2010 on Boyer Writes. It was on SS General Hans Kammler and asked the question: “Whatever happened to Gen.Kammler?” After World War II, a number of high-ranking officers fled to places like Argentina. This question seemed to be of great interest to my readers. Some readers wrote emails that they knew where General Kammler had lived. One even said the General was an uncle who was elderly and had escaped prosecution. General Kammler, as portrayed in this book is entirely fiction. The accounts of him, however, are based on historical facts. General Kammler, was in fact from 1944, head of advanced weapons development in Nazi Germany, including the Me-262 jets, the V-2 rockets and perhaps even the exotic Bell Project. The enormous interest in General Kammler led me to explore the thoughts of where he might be hiding and thus, this novel evolved. All characters are fictional, but many of the places described in the novel, as the World Seed Vault in Norway, sometimes referred to as the “Doomsday Seed Vault” are actual places.
I look forward to 2018 when I plan to complete a Memoirs Book called MY STORY. I will begin with as early as I can remember in my childhood.
My remembrances of my days in boarding school and the courage that I found in my faith in Christ during years of adult hardship will be an honest and open account. My family history and doors that opened for me to travel the world as a Christian teacher and missionary will also be part of the story. The joy that I found when God brought into my life the husband I have loved for over 35 years is a part of “waiting for God” to do wondrous things that we know not of. Looking back I know that the things that happened to me and around me were often most extraordinary.
It is obvious to me that everyone has a story to tell about their life. As I have had the opportunity in the books mentioned above to share many stories told to me by others, it is time to write about my own life.
Merry Christmas to all my readers and to all a wonderful NEW YEAR!
My last blog was about stress in today’s society. This was about our modern, rich society that does not know how to budget time, relax enough…and perhaps even has difficulty with being THANKFUL.
This is a very short blog because I want you to concentrate on the video. Afterward, be truly THANKFUL for all that you have. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN TO BE THANKFUL. Shakespeare in his character, King Lear, Act 1, reminds us of the following when it comes to thankless children: “…How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!”
If you are a complainer, STOP complaining after viewing the videos below. You have very little if anything to complain about.
We all have so much and rarely think about or realize that some countries have street children who have nothing and very little hope for the future. To them, it is no problem to lie or steal. It is how they survive. They do not know if they will have the next meal. If you were in this condition, you would probably do the same. I am appalled to learn that Ethiopia has only one major soup kitchen for thousands.
Jeremy Snell writes about his experience in Ethiopia: ” Korah is one of the poorest slum areas in all of Addis, Ethiopia. It was once considered the outskirts of the city and was the place where all the outcasts (the sick, lepers, homeless, and unwanted) resided. It is hands down the worst living conditions I have ever witnessed. They have no clean running water, and their streets are a mixture of mud, feces, and trash….One of the most astonishing things about Ethiopia is the number of kids and people who make their living cleaning mud and dirt off of people’s shoes. I don’t really know how to feel about it all. The other day, I got my shoes washed by a street kid down the road from where we are staying.. they charge 3 burr per cleaning.. which is equivalent to 25 cents.. and my shoes have never been cleaner. It’s probably one of the most humbling experiences of my life. I can’t even imagine having to do that for a living. This young boy was working near the university we were visiting. Poverty is such an indescribable idea to grasp. I don’t think it’s something we can truly understand unless we’ve experienced it.”
In comparison, you are not only rich in possessions and food, but you are truly rich in your soul if you are thankful. Stop now…and thank God. Do what you can to support legitimate help organizations. Samaritan’s Purse is a worldwide relief Christian organization. Click here to see all their videos on efforts to help.
If you can’t wrap your mind around the street children of Ethiopia because it is too far away from your existence, then think about your fellow Americans who in a blink of an eye lose everything they have worked for during a life time. All need your prayers and help.
The Street children of Ethiopia video:
The Blue Ridge Mountains, steeped in history and hard working people, is a special place. It is our privilege to live here part of the year and in doing so, we have seen the beauties of the land and its people. My recent book, Old Timers of the Blue Ridge and More, is a collection of stories behind generations of families who have worked the land and farmed the fields. The fog rolls in over the mountains from North Carolina into Virginia. It is a silent mist that cools the summers and brings the breeze that is felt daily.
Below is a video that I have produced with many of the photographs that I have taken of these wonderful mountains in the years that we have been here. I hope the sights and peaceful sounds will fill your day with God’s love and joy.
Even now, in early August, the fields are ready for a summer harvest and the corn is growing high. The peach juice drips down the chin with every bite. The aroma of peach pie baking in the oven is in the air.
The migrant workers, along with the farm owners, work late into the night to harvest and package the produce, moving it on to our groceries far down the mountain. The rumble of the tractors and the rhythm of the trucks pass our house as they move on to the Painter warehouse, just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, to be processed.
Take the winding road down the mountain until you find acres and acres of apples, peaches and more at the Harold Orchards in Ararat, Virginia. They have been farming this orchard for generations. H.C. told me that without the workers who come in from Mexico, his business would go under. Many of these workers come year after year to bring in the harvest.
It is our privilege to honor these hard-working farmers who produce the crops of corn, cabbage, broccoli, apples, peaches and much more. Without them or the workers they hire, our grocery stores would be dependent on foreign providers.
Thank you, Gentlemen. You are the best!
VIDEO: BLUE RIDGE: Photographed and produced by N.W. Boyer (All rights reserved).
Turn on sound.
credits: music “On Golden Pond”
Since you may be thinking of a book for your favorite person or a friend who may be interested in historical fiction or culture in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I am going to give you some shopping ideas from the books that I have written this year. They are all available on Amazon and if you act now, they will be to you before Christmas.
Click on book title for description and price
- THE SEEDS by N.W. Boyer (historical fiction)
- BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY BEAUTIES by N.W. Boyer
- OLD TIMERS of the BLUE RIDGE and MORE by N. W. Boyer
Children’s Books are also available. Great books for Grandparents to give or for parents to read with their children with questions for discussion at the end.
All children’s books by Nancy W. Boyer (for elementary students or early teens)
- CROOKED CREEK FIR TREE ( a Christmas story)
- WILLY THE WORM
- LINDA LONG LEGS
- ANNA and THE ATTIC
- RUNNING AWAY RITA
- BETTY BIG EARS
- TERRI TENNIS SHOES
- SARA STICKY FINGERS
- WAYS TO BE HAPPY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE (for very young children)
If you have never traveled to Japan, you will enjoy this overview of the city and country life. At the end of the video are some steps in Tokyo that my husband and I climbed and listened to a piano concert by a very young girl, who could hardly reach the floor with her feet. The students of Japan have a great emphasis on learning some form of music. The high school that I visited has a whole wing of baby grand pianos and the students were practicing. I learned another impressive thing about the Japanese education. Two young men were sweeping the halls and scrubbing the floor outside their classroom. I asked if they were being punished for something. The reply was, “Oh no, they are taking turns in having pride for their school.”
The calmness of Japan and its beauty is something we will not forget. Take a ride on the bullet train, walk the streets, and enjoy nature at its best.
If one has had the opportunity to worship at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, it is most likely that this part of the Cathedral was not seen. The construction of such a place is even more dramatic when one has climbed to its highest peeks. For your Sunday, enjoy this unusual tour. After the tour, return and be inspired by St. Paul’s Cathedral music.
MUSIC AT ST.PAUL’S CATHEDRAL Psalm 150 sung with full choir and orchestra
Psalm 150: Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise Him in the firmament of His power.
Praise Him for his mighty acts: praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet: praise Him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance: praise Him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise Him upon the loud cymbals: praise Him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.
The mountains of Virginia have been buried in snow and shortly the mountain will awaken to the warmth of the sun. I’d like to introduce you to Photography by Boyer. Throughout the summer, I will be sharing my photographic adventures. At times, it may even be a travelogue through pictures. If you are interested in photography and would like to be notified when pictures are uploaded on my photography blog, just send me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com ) or follow on Photography by Boyer.
See the photography of the beautiful Blue Ridge during our stay in 2015 on this link:
For those who love mystery and intrigue, I would again like to introduce to my readers my novel, THE SEEDS, which is fiction with a few historical characters thrown into the plot. Chapter by chapter the mystery unfolds. I have set up a special blog so that my audience may read from the beginning. Click on any chapter missed. Simply leave your email if you’d like to be notified as each chapter is published. It would also be great to hear your comments as you get into the story. THE SEEDS
From the first time I rode up the steep mountain from North Carolina to Fancy Gap, Virginia, I knew it was a special place. It took, however, living here as a “flat lander” to get to know the mountain people. One may ask, “What is a flat lander?” Those are the people who come from places far south…like Florida.
This “flat lander” had grown up in the Brushy Mountains of North Carolina and later in the Winston-Salem area. I was blessed with a big family…about 15 first cousins and many aunts and uncles…in that area, but my parents moved away from the cold of the mountains to the warmth of Florida. It took me over 50 years to return to my roots…even if for a few months of the year.
I found more than I had expected….a whole way of life that I now call the “Mountain Way”. It first became clear to me when my husband and I were looking for a second, get-away place in the Virginia area. The realtor who showed us around drove us in a 4-wheeler up a steep mountain that leveled out onto a pasture land with a beautiful view of the Blue Ridge. (In case the Blue Ridge is new to any of my readers, it is a stretch of mountains running over 400 miles through several southern states. The building of this wonderful place is another story, but briefly it was to give the people work during the depression. The wonderful rock bridges; scenic overlooks and miles of blooming rhododendron is worth the trip. Dogwoods blossom in the spring and there seems to be waves of trees and flowering bushes that make their entrance to the place known as the Blue Ridge Parkway.)
Back to my first introduction to the mountain way. The realtor stopped the car and a farmer who was bailing his hay made his way up slowly in our direction. No one introduced us, but the farmer and the realtor began an extensive discussion about his land. This conversation seemed to be quite long about almost nothing to those of us flat landers who like to get things done quickly. We sat quietly and listened. Finally something was mentioned about my early years down the mountain…in N.C. and all of my relatives there. There was a complete change of mood…and accepting smiles. We found out that the realtor knew what he was doing because in the mountains it is customary to “visit a while” before getting down to business.
Family relations mean everything to the mountain people. I was to find out that many of the old farms date back before the Civil War. One young man told us that his family was given hundreds of acres by the King of England, before the Revolutionary War. This land remains in his family until this day. One can see scattered around the hills little family cemeteries.
Mountain people, we are told, are glad that the outsiders come to the mountains…enjoy the area…and spend their money to help an ailing economy, but they have “about all the friends they need.” Almost everyone is related to someone…or if they are not, they have grown up with them and know all the family members.
These warm and friendly people are strong in their beliefs…as this is also known as the Bible Belt. Faith is important. When a politician made a remark about people “clinging to their guns and Bibles”. A truer statement could have not been made…even if it was said with some sarcasm. Even recently, we noticed that when the controversy about the Confederate flag made the people of the mountain think that their southern history was being attacked, the few Confederate flags suddenly became many flags being flown from porches or alongside the American flag. “Don’t tell us what should be politically correct here in the south….and don’t even think about taking away our guns!” one might hear a mountain man or woman say. While living here, we have not seen racial bias…which is not to say there isn’t any. One thing is certain. These are a strong people… a proud people…with mountain ways which anyone who plans to live here will be smart to learn and appreciate.
The mountain people have dug their roots deep into the soil. They are unpretentious and comfortable in who they are. It may be the older men who sit around at the local store passing the time or the hefty man in bib overalls talking on his cell phone about getting the cooler ready for a side of beef. Everyone shares their vegetables of corn, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and some things I didn’t know grew in the ground. Almost each time my husband returned from choir practice, he had a bag full of the latest items grown in someone’s garden.
Mountain stories and the history of the area tell of tough times when people tackled the cold of winter while raising huge families down in some of the mountain passes and hollows (low place in the mountain known as a “holler”). There are places with names like Buffalo Mountain, Fancy Gap, Groundhog Mountain and more than one can remember of gaps and passes. (*see history books below) The deer roam freely and stop their eating to stare at those of us passing by.
We had only just moved into our Virginia house when a man came down the road asking if we had seen his cow? It appeared that the cow had gotten through the fence…as did a very large, black bull that also came down our road. People in the mountains help each other…even the flat landers. Our neighbors arrived from Florida one snowy day and could not get up their steep driveway. Hearing the spinning tire noise, it was not long before another mountain neighbor came with his tractor to pull them the rest of the way up the drive.
Ever hear of the two finger way? Almost all mountain people use it. This means, regardless of who it may be…the passing driver will raise his two fingers off the stearing wheel to give a little wave as the other driver passes. My first impression of that was, “Do we know them?” The answer of course is “no”…but it is the friendly mountain way.
Music is a wonderful part of the mountains. Tonight we rode the parkway to the Music Center to hear a concert of country music along with the “blue grass” strumming of banjo, guitar, bass, and more. One of the best of the best is a gentleman named Wayne Henderson. Mr. Henderson has a tiny workshop where he makes guitars. These are so sought after that a person may wait years to get one…and at a very hefty price. He is a man of the mountains who has been honored for his contribution and preservation of mountain music…even playing in Carnegie Hall.
Below is a video that I’d like to share with you because this blog may become a book if I continue. The fact is I may write more about my experiences here in the mountains where the August temperature moves easily from 65-75 degrees, with a cool mountain breeze. Today this “flat lander” is glad to be in the mountains…enjoying the mountain ways and the wonderful people here.
Wayne Henderson video:
History books about the Blue Ridge areas found on Amazon.
The Man Who Moved a Mountain by Richard Davids
I am truly puzzled. Mrs. Obama will be heading soon to Japan to bring her advice and encouragement to the Japanese girls that they not drop out of school. She feels that she should do this for the people of Japan. If one looks at the ranking given to the countries around the world on education, Japan is ranking 2nd behind Korea. In another study, they ranked 7th in the world in Math; 4th in Science and Reading. (Rankings) This is why I am puzzled about this visit.
Education in the United States is in crisis over Common Core and Standardized Testing to name only a few educational problems. Certainly our rankings in the world are not high. Teen pregnancy, drop out rate, bullying, and other issues also need to be addressed. Children in Chicago need to be able to walk to school without the fear of being shot by gang members. One would think that there is enough encouragement needed right here at home within the poorest parts of our country and in the inter-city schools.
The real question here is not anyone’s travel plans or good intentions, but WHAT IS BEING TAUGHT AND THE FREEDOM OF THE TEACHER TO TEACH. In a world of violence, fear, and distress, our children need to learn how to get along and compassion for each other as much as math, reading, and other subjects.
Here are a few quotes concerning what we are doing to our young people with the over-emphasis on testing rather than creative thought and how to live in the real world.
“Teachers were shocked by ambiguous test questions, based, as they saw it, on false premises and wrongheaded educational principles….. Others were dismayed to see that children were demoralized by the relentlessness of the testing process, which took seventy minutes a day for six days, with more time allowed for children with learning disabilities. One teacher remarked that, if a tester needs three days to tell if a child can read “you are either incompetent or cruel….” Another teacher said that during each day of testing, at least one of her children was reduced to tears. A paraprofessional—a classroom aide who works with children with special needs—called the process “state-sanctioned child abuse.” One child with a learning disability, after the second hour of the third day, had had enough. “He only had two questions left, but he couldn’t keep going,” a teacher reported. “He banged his head on the desk so hard that everyone in the room jumped.” (written by Rebecca Mead) Parents are beginning to opt out of standardized testing around the nation.
I need to mention that I had the privilege, as an American educator, of being invited by the Japanese government to visit the schools in Japan…elementary through high school. This was a “thank you” to the United States for sending educators to Japan after W.W II to help rebuild not only their country but their way of life. This also included the missionaries who went to help the people during this terrible time of history.
While in Japan, I was extremely impressed with their curriculum and teaching methods, but also in the students themselves. The children were happy in their classes. The high school students had a wing of baby grand pianos to practice because there was an emphasis on the arts in the curriculum. Just before classes were dismissed, I noticed two young men mopping the school corridor. I asked if they were being punished? The answer was “No, they are doing their responsibility.” I also saw girls as interactive as boys in the educational process. Nothing was mentioned about a drop out problem. Some criticism has come in more recent years about the long hours of study in Japan that has possibly been the reason for some suicides. Some middle class families have teens who have also more recently become part of violent gangs, which had not been a problem previously. The Japanese are trying to find the reasons for these changes in social behavior. Perhaps this is why the teacher of younger children that I am about to introduce you to has made a primary part of his teaching …the teaching of empathy.
The reason I am writing this blog, however, is to share something much more important than the testing issue. It has to do with, as mentioned above, with the actual teaching of young people how to live in this world. STRESS…VS ….COMPASSION is my title. Now meet a teacher in Japan who knows the importance of the child’s emotions…hurts and cares in the real world. (I would encourage you to set some time aside for this viewing…to be able to read everything that is said…for otherwise, you may miss some crucial points.)
(To see U.S. rankings in various areas of education, go to U.S. RANKINGS…comparisons to other countries )
It is my pleasure to share with you my first book in a new Nanny Adventure series. The book title is Willy the Worm.
Willy the green worm decides he is going to climb out of his hole and see the world. He is tired of living in a damp, unhappy place. Willy demonstrates what life can be like when one just needs courage and a strong will-power. This book helps young people from about age 8-12 think about different cultures…the likeness and differences…as they journey with Willy on a very challenging adventure.
If you have ever wished to go to Paris, France…but believe that you may or may not be able to do so, this blog is just a little treat….as if you were there.
My husband and I found that around Christmas was a great time to go. The lines were few; the cooler weather was delightful…just take your boots and a scarf. There is an energy unexplained and the views are everywhere…whether day or night…decorated for the Christmas season.
Paris is especially beautiful at night …so stroll at night along the Champs Elysees; view the Arc de Triomphe and enjoy the lights on the Eiffel Tower. The architecture is breath-taking and the people make it all worthwhile.
This is one for the arm chair…no walking….for it is done for you….up and down the streets of Paris with so many things to see. (Thanks to Globe Trotter Alpha) Just take your time this Sunday and enjoy…Paris in the morning..mid-day and night.
(Turn on the sound and enlarge your pictures. If it stops for a second, be patient…as it will begin again.) If you get tired of watching the streets, take a tour through the beautiful works of art at the Louve shown on the second video below. (Rick Steves as our guide)
It happened in a thrift shop…where I stopped to look for frames for my art. Her bright smile greeted me with a genuine compliment on my skirt and the turquoises-colored jewelry I was wearing. It wasn’t a second later after I said “thank you” that I had this strong impulse to go back to her and to give her my earrings (which had been a gift to me from a friend). These impulses to go to a total stranger are rare, but when they come…I know that I have to follow through.
I said, “Excuse me, but I am supposed to give you these earrings…don’t ask me why…but you are to have them.” Tears began streaming down her face as I asked if she was “OK”. She actually threw herself on my shoulder and sobbed. A DRAMA was going on here in the middle of a thrift shop..in Florida…USA.
“My husband has been in an accident and is now in a nursing home as a paraplegic. I am going there but I’m living out of my car and came here for some shoes.” As she spoke these words, I knew she needed help getting to where she had to go. This was a drama playing out in the lives of a person whom God wanted to know that He had not abandoned her and that she had hope. Placing the earrings in her hand, I shared with her that each time she looked at the earrings, she would remember that God was with her.
Those impulses that seem so odd to us…that we want to ignore…may be most important to someone like this woman. Acting on them is the hard part…the rest simply falls into place. I read somewhere that we are the only hands and feet that God has to use on this earth.
So where does the “chicken and insurance” come into this story. Only as it relates to a video that we watched about Rick Steves ( a traveler and television personality) who found in his travels that “all are precious” everywhere in the world.
His take on how the world views need was interesting. The rich part of the world looks at need as what is difficult to get. They focus on the extras that are needed, like insurance. The impoverished part of the world rejoices and throws a party if they have a chicken once a week. Strange…that we should see our needs so differently. The thrift shop lady, at that moment, needed gas money to get where she needed to be. THE DRAMA GOES ON. God, help me never to stop being a part of it!
MUSICAL SCORE FROM GONE WITH THE WIND (Click and read below while you listen)
To go back in time….to know what life was really like in the days around the Civil War, one might look at the famous movie by Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind. She won a Pulitzer prize for her book and actors such as Clark Gable and Vivian Lee became famous for their roles. Butterfly McQueen, whose life we feature at the end of this writing, tells us what it was like to portray the southern black slave of that day. She, of course, only acted in the role, but the real slaves of that time were not only the house maids, but the field hands, working either on the cotton plantations or in the rice fields.
My husband and I visited South Carolina recently and took a tour of the plantations that exist in the low countries. Many have been restored, but most are finding it hard to keep up the thousands of acres and the huge mansions of that era. It may truly be a thing of the past in a few years…or “gone with the wind” as so many fall into disrepair. Maybe that is why it is important to take a look at what has survived and think of our country’s past. I made many pictures of the old slave houses because soon they will fall into the dust…and without something to see…may be remembered no more by our future generations.
The long-time residents of the deep south, sometimes called the Bible Belt, take great pride in their history of a south that lost the war to the northern Yankees Rebel flags are flown; monuments are placed in the public squares. It is difficult for some to not believe that the South as they knew it could never “rise again”. They still put up stones to the fact that their cause, the Rebel cause, was the right one. (See picture below.) We know, of course, that had the South won the war, slavery would have continued. There would not be desegregation, as we know it today, with opportunity for all citizens. Our country would be a very different place. However, in our travels, we saw such towns as Greenville, S.C that have made a beautiful down-town area with thriving shops and offices open to all. Perhaps the South did “rise again” even though many of their towns were burned to the ground during the Civil War. It may have been a long-hard struggle, but I think those who bled for their cause, on either side, would be pleased to see how far the southern people have come. It is up to them to pass on their history to the young people of today, pointing out the struggles.
There is a wonderful, natural beauty in the South Carolina lowlands…massive oak trees that grace the entrances to the large plantations, often overlooking the water that once were the rice fields. (See the video below.) Great camellia bushes bend with red and pink blossoms. Hanging moss blows gently in the wind. Most of the plantations were constructed in the 1700’s. A few have the original house or foundation, but fire took its toll on so many. The threat of fire was why most homes had the kitchen building separate from the main house.
Some of the houses, such as the Sampson-Hamby-Ward House, date pre-Revolutionary War times. This can be noticed by the hand-hewn sills and joists; braced frame construction with hewn and pegged hanging joists.
Some of the famous plantations of the southern low country are in the Prince George Winyah Parish, near Georgetown, S.C.
There was nothing gentle, or genteel, about the lives of those who worked the hundreds of acres. Rosemont Plantation produced 570,000 pounds of rice and had 291 slaves. . Hopsewee Plantation house was built of black cypress over 275 years ago. On this property of 240 acres, 178 slaves worked the rice fields of the Santee Delta, producing 560,000 pounds of rice.
Take a look at the slide presentation of Plantations in the Low Country of South Carolina and some of the Slave Houses on the “Slave Street” at Mansfield Plantation.
An interview of Butterfly McQueen and what she experienced taking the part of a black slave in Gone with the Wind.
The aromas are almost magical…spices simmering in large pots of onions, mushrooms, and sausages. Today we visit the International Food Market in York, England. Located close to the famous Shambles District of the city, people mill around with their families deciding which delicacy should be theirs….breads, chocolate-covered donuts, olives and much more from every ethnic part of the world.
The Shambles, for hundreds of years, had been the place of meat butchers. Even then, people would have come to this area to find their fresh meat. The narrow, cobble-stone streets are now shops with a historic sign or place of some main event that had happened here….such as the martyred young wife and mother, Margaret Clitherow (shown below), who refused to give up her faith that was not sanctioned at the time.
In 1586, she was arrested and called before the York assizes for the crime of harboring Roman Catholic priests. She refused to plead to the case to prevent a trial that would entail her children being made to testify, and therefore being subjected to torture. As a result she was executed by being crushed to death, being the standard punishment for refusal to plead, on Good Friday 1586. ( I will write more about her another time.)
Now, enjoy the special International Market of York, England.