This has been a very difficult day. My blog will be short because frankly I am exhausted.
Things began to unravel as I headed home from a dentist appointment in Mt. Dora for my mother. It was so sudden…and out of the corner of my eye I saw a little dog dashing toward my car. There was no time to brake and I heard this terrible thump. I knew …but didn’t want to know. Looking in my mirror, I saw the white, still form laying in the middle of the street. There was no way that I could go on. Running back to him, I knew that he was gone. “I am so sorry…” is all I could say. Taking his little red collar in my hand, I pulled him over to the grass. Where had he come from and where was he going? Banging on a few doors, I asked, but no one knew. Finally, I saw a man walking down the street. I walked over to him and ask ” Do you have a little black and white dog with a red collar?” He said that he did.
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Anyone who has heard Throat Singing had to be in the country of Mongolia or Inner Mongolia of China. It is the strange of the strange to the western ear, but it is music to the ears of this culture at the ends of the earth. What is throat singing? Technically it is described as over- tone chanting. It is the manipulation of the resonances created as air travels to the lungs, past the vocal folds, and out the lips to produce a melody. Now you know, but best if it is heard. ( The sound track on my slide show gives a good illustration.)
The Genghis Khan Mongol Empire united the warring armies of the area of Asia between 1206 and 1228. The were fierce, ruthless, destructive barbarians know for their speed in battle. Their kingdom stretched over most of Central Asia and into China. The Great Wall of China was built to keep out the Mongols.
As a teacher of English, I went to Mongolia for two months and then again on a Christian humanitarian effort. We worked with the blind and the street children. An American girl was there working full-time with the blind. She had lost her sight as a teenager and was so touched by the need of the Mongolian blind that she went there to help. Her driver and translator works beside her.
The people are warm and friendly with a desire to know a traveler. If one should go to the country side, as I did, the real Mongolian bar-b-que is served. The country is dotted with gers (tent home of the nomad) and I will never forget my train ride in the moonlight, with the white of the gers shining under the stars.
One of my students told me a true story of when she was a child, riding through the desert with her family. She was very young and was riding in a basket secured on the side of a camel. Somehow she fell out and the caravan went on without her. It was not until much later that she was discovered missing. Retracing their tracks, they heard her cries and saved her that day. Now she is living in the U.S.A. and probably telling that story to many people. I have written a children’s book depicting her story and often tell of it in my lectures.
My second visit to Mongolia was strictly to help the street children. At that time, the children were often without families because of alcoholism or death within their home. They became a part of a street gang, living in sub-zero weather below the streets in order to keep warm. A student visited me recently and said that she had gone with authorities into these areas to try to help. World Vision is a Christian organization that has made a great difference in the lives of the people. My guest, who was a first time visitor to the U.S, went with me to a local landfill in order to take back some of the technology to the neighborhoods of Ulan Bator , the capital of Mongolia.
It has only been since 1990 that Mongolia has thrown off the communist rule of the Russians and rebuilt their own country. During the seventy year domination, Russia persecuted the Buddhist priests and tried to wipe out the Mongolian culture. This was through training programs to change from the Mongol script to Cyrillic and from the native language of Mongolia to only Russian. When the Berlin Wall was going down, the Mongolians also took to the streets and reclaimed their country. Now the computer age has brought the Mongolians into a different world. No longer are they isolated between Russia and China. They are getting to know the entire world. I am glad they did find their freedom because it gave me a chance to see and meet wonderful people in this land at the ends of the earth.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. BOYER
Video 1 Modern Mongolia video Video 2 Slides and throat singing.
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He had been shot, but rose to tear off his coat, showing the blood on his shirt. Pointing to the opera box where Tsar Nicolas sat, Peter Stolypin shouted, “I am happy to die for my Tsar!” and then crossed himself. This was the scene at the Kiev Opera House in 1911. The victim was the Prime Minister who had introduced reforms that resulted in the hangings of so many people that they called the ropes “Stolypin neckties”
Unfortunately, I did not know this story when I went to the opera with my friend ,Irena. The Kiev Opera house burned to the ground after non- extinguished candles set it on fire in 1896. The largest musical libraries of Europe were lost that day, along with costumes and props. The Opera House was rebuilt in the Neo Renaissance style and became the National Opera House of Kiev,Ukraine. It has one of the largest stages in Europe, with excellent engineering. It is certainly one of the most prestigious in all of Ukraine or Russia. The drama of the Murder in the Kiev Opera House must have been unbelievable, but for me this evening with Irena produced one of the most beautiful performances that I have ever seen. I did not have to know the language, just absorb the beauty. Our driver waited patiently outside for Irena and me during the entire presentation. I found the people of Ukraine to be warm and friendly unless they had lived there during the time of Communism. The older people seemed greatly suspicious, but the younger people of the computer generation were worldly-wise and interested in everything Western.
Digging out from communism has not been an easy task. Everything in today’s Ukraine is in short supply and the people feel the effects of the “Russian style” mafia. Having gone to this country to teach English at a Christian university, I heard the stories of those who had their lives taken when refusing to sell property to those in charge or their businesses were burned.
It was also extremely sad when looking at the children of the state-run orphanages. We had been given a “dog and pony” show as we strolled the buildings. The bathrooms had perfectly white towels hanging orderly in a row….while the children stayed outside on the playground. Surely something would have been a little used…but was not. We also noticed that the children did not smile. There was a real sadness that hung over the place. (See slide show) Later, we traveled to a Christian run orphanage where the children were happy, laughing and smiling. Yes, they too were short of everything, but the atmosphere was completely different.
Irena and I went to St. Sophia Russian Orthodox Church in Kiev. It was constructed in 1017 to honor Prince Yaroslavl the Wise after his victory over Asian nomadic tribes. The monastery was founded in 1630. The beauty of this place is hard to describe. Therefore, I will allow the slide presentation below to do that for me.
There was a murder at the Opera House in 1911. There has been much blood shed in Russia. Let’s pray that the new found freedom that Ukraine has experienced in the last years will see them through to a peaceful time. No longer must they have sad faces. Although the older generation seems to look with suspicion, the internet has brought them into a new world. I am glad that I was brought into theirs. BOYER WRITES BY N.W BOYER (See slide show below)
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A man was peeking through the corn as we walked about a mile to the place where women weaved their cloth. It frightened me at first, but then I realized that he was simply curious. We continued to walk, occasionally getting a look at the volcano in the distance. This is Guatemala. A land where many of our vegetables are grown. It is a beautiful land with a difficult political history. Our mission was to meet with the women in the remote areas who were health providers. The midwife we met was on call twenty-four hours and this often meant that she walked miles once the message came that a baby was about to be born. Often it was raining and our visit to them was a look first hand at swollen creeks and slippery mud. The Health Providers are trained by Christian churches to go into the very remote areas to teach women the basic standards of health…thus preventing disease.
One village was the home of a Christian group whose children had learned the cottage industry of sewing and embroidery after the men and older boys of the village had been murdered. This happened during a governmental, political problem in the 1980’s. Dogs drug in the bones for weeks after the raid, but these women were determined to keep their families together. Even today, these people have it very difficult. Their products must be brought for miles into Guatemala City….sometimes riding the “chicken buses” crowded to overflowing. When the U.S warned of unrest in Guatemala, the tourist trade dropped off, hurting these people desperately. Ruth and Nohemi are weavers and sewers who make tablecloths, jackets, and handbags. Many of their creations are sent back to the U.S. to be sold, thus helping their economy.
American missionaries spend time giving medical treatment at the Proyecto Salud y Paz in Quetzaltenango. We visited their dental clinic that was making do with out of date equipment, but the people lined up for hours for the care. They also ran a small pharmacy. It was amazing to see the tender love that these missionaries had for the people of Guatemala. They said, at the time, the only real need they had was a high wall to help to protect their compound.
The John Wesley School was extremely poor. The floors were dirt and the building needed great repair. However, more than one hundred children packed into this school with almost no sanitation. A number of American people have returned since this trip, bringing aid to the people of Guatemala.
The next time you eat some fruit or a vegetable that is labeled, “Grown in Guatemala”, think of these hard working, devout people who are still walking under the volcanoes and through the corn fields. They are, after all. our neighbors to the south.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. Boyer (See slide presentation below)
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The Japanese called it the “Sugi Tree” that whispers in the wind and the birds carry its message. They were speaking of the Cypress tree that is known as the Bald Cypress in Florida and other coastal places of the South. Louisiana adopted it as a state tree. It probably originated in Asia Minor around the Island of Cyprus because of the name. It is beneficial and flood tolerant. The great Cypress Swamps are a special part of the Florida eco system. In ancient times, the Cypress was a memorial plant for famous people. Its great main trunk is usually surrounded by cypress knees. These make a place for the birds to sit and dry their feathers. It is also decay resistant and boats are built of this sturdy wood. Perhaps the Japanese were right. If one listens, these old cypress trees may be whispering. We may find it hard to actually hear over the noise of the motor boats or the frogs, but it is worth a try. Those birds may have a message.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. BOYER (Enjoy a slide presentation of Cypress Trees on Little Lake Harris, Howey in the Hills, FL )
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Recently I wrote about the Blue Ridge in Virginia. However, since moving back to Florida, I have asked myself what I really like about living in the South…especailly Florida? I think I have found several reasons to share with you: First, the skies are magnificent! Because we are “flat- landers”, as the Virginians call us, the skies have space to stretch higher and higher. The clouds rise up to look like huge mountains trimmed with gold, as the sun rises or sets. I had forgotten how truly beautiful the Florida skies are until I returned. The second thing I enjoy about Florida is the mild winter when the flowers continue to bloom. The birds sing and fly around the lakes….a migration from the cold, north land. Perhaps the third thing I enjoy about Florida is that everyone seems to be from somewhere other than Florida…originially speaking. There is a diversity that brings people into a friendly acceptance. Yes, there are a few “Crackers” who were born here, but no one asks that question. A person is not judged by his family tree or considered to be an outsider. The last thing that I enjoy is the water….whether it is one of the many lakes…or the ocean…or the Gulf. Water is everywhere. For the boater, it is a heaven. For those of us who walk our dogs down by the lake, it is a changing view. The ripples lap against the shore and the cypress trees stand in the water. Occasionally an alligator’s head pops up to look around. Then there is always the SKY…..always those big, beautiful skies. Florida….a wonderful place to visit or live.
BOYER WRITES by N.W. Boyer (Enjoy the slide show on Florida)
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The first day I traveled over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Fancy Gap,Virginia, the fog was so thick that I could only see a few feet in front of me. The mountain actually lays in the arms of the clouds. The truckers who drive the interstate know very well about the wall of white. Deep in the valley is a grave yard of twisted metal that never made it up the mountain…or down, as the case may be. There are even ballads written and sung about the driver’s plight.
This light rain or misty fog spreads throughout the mountains and into the valley below. It waters the mountain laurel and brings beauty to every season that is hard to describe. Because one needs to experience it, I decided to write less tonight and simply give you a taste of what I found to be one of the loveliest places on earth. BOYERWRITES by N.W. Boyer (Click to watch slides…enlarging your page and turning on the sound.)
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We do so many things by faith. Simply breathing takes a certain amount of faith. One does not worry that the next breath will come or the next heart beat. Sometimes when I fly, my heart seems to skip a beat, but when I stepped on the plane, I was literally saying, ” I believe that you know how to fly this plane and I have faith in your abilities!”
What about spiritual faith? I can remember when I first talked to God. I was in a boarding school, far from home. Sometimes I would walk around the playground fence and talk to Him, whoever He was. Perhaps that is the childlike faith we hear about, for I simply believed He was there and He knew I was also.
Later, when I was a young adult, I think my first real faith experience happened. I was asked a very serious question: “If you were to die tonight, do you know that you will be with God?” Well, the answer was definitely a maybe….if I had been good enough…but this was not faith. I think I really did not know what faith was all about. I certainly did not know what Jesus Christ had done for me. He had taken my punishment for sin; making me free of guilt and a new life was waiting for me. When this was made clear, I found a faith that I did not know I had. The God I had talked to as a child had brought me a message of redemption. I wondered why it took Him so long? Maybe I was not ready for faith in my life until this time. I am glad He found me because I really was not seeking Him.
As life had its trials, I found that my faith was what gave me hope. It was also what kept me going when I had to care for several small children by myself. Faith is quiet thing. It seems to just be there; going nowhere, but always there. It’s a comforting thing. Maybe that is what Christ meant when he said he would send a Comforter. Not only is it the Holy Spirit, but Faith.
I often tell people that my best place to talk to God is in the shower. It is a place to get out the tears and only He knows. More recently, in my travels, I have also found that Faith is everywhere. When I was in Mongolia, faith was there. In the jungles of Guatemala, faith was down under the volcano and in the corn fields. I also saw in the great cathedrals of Europe the faith that made people build great structures to the glory of God. (I am sharing some of this with you in my slide show to follow.)
My challenge to you is to draw upon the faith that you have, whether great or small. Enter your shower with all that you carry in life and find that God will meet you there. Jesus said to only seek…and you will find. It will be a LEAP OF FAITH that you will not regret.
BoyerWrites by N.W. Boyer (See slides below)
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Our dog, Gracie, loved to lay on the ground when it snowed. One would think that her soft, white belly would freeze, but she didn’t seem to mind. Gracie couldn’t wait to take long walks into the woods so she could see if the deer had been there that night. Once she caught a little fawn in her soft mouth; holding it until we arrived to command her to let go. She obediently did so without any harm to it at all.
The arrival of the Canadian geese on our pond was an exciting time for Gracie. She would run down to the side of the lake to watch them as they honked their arrival. The freedom to roam our 23 acres was a dog’s paradise, except the time she poisoned herself with a dinner of mushrooms. None the less, when the snow began to fall quietly on the deck and in the trees, Gracie was ready to taste it all for herself. “Isn’t it time to cut some wood? What do you mean clean my feet? Snow is just water!” she seemed to say with her eyes.
The quiet of a winter snow is a wonder for all of us. Gracie just shared it with us as we curled up next to the fire. What’s a dog to do, but listen to embers pop and crackle.
Just settled in, late at night, and that look is on her face. “Take me outside now or you will not be happy!” Gracie did not care that it took getting the clothes on; putting on the boots and heavy coats, as well as the hat and hood. Once outside, the below O degrees, factoring in the wind chill, just didn’t hurry her any. After all she was outside and could stare at the dark woods, listening or looking at the bright stars in the winter night. Ah! Winter! It is a dog’s life. BOYERWRITES by N. W. Boyer (Turn on sound and click “play” on first page of slide show.)
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Visiting a museum is an experience that says much about a person. Does he truly want to see the creativity that would be different from his own taste, or is he willing to risk something totally different?
Given the size of most museums, it might be only natural to skip the Modern Art or Antiquities if that is not one’s taste. When I visited the Louvre in Paris some years ago, I knew that I had to pick and choose or come back several days in order to see most of it.
So what is my taste in art or music? It wasn’t until I started being a serious photographer and found that there was software that would let me manipulate my photographs to make them a little …or a lot different from the original that I had taken. “Gee! How much fun is this?” I would find myself saying. The surprise of it all! Maybe this is how the artist whose works ended up in the museum felt when he let loose the worms on the canvas. No one knew how it all would end up. What would it look like? What does it remind me of…or not. Anyway, it became a delightful treat. Making abstracts was a blast!
I could see all kinds of changes and potential in that beautiful rose that I had just clicked with my camera. So this is how it all began and who knows how it will end up for me. Hopefully you will enjoy the slides of my abstracts. Keep an open mind. You may just have to visit that other wing of the museum that you skipped last time!
BOYER WRITES by Nancy Boyer
(Turn on your sound before viewing)
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I’m not certain what it is about wood. When it is freshly cut, it gives that strange but sweet aroma that is quickly identified as wood. When it is cut, it gradually turns different colors.
I once had a wooden bench sitting on my front porch that was constantly getting rained upon. The golden color slowly turned to grey, but the first color was still there….somewhere. It took hands of skill to restore this old bench to its beautiful patina. Now it sits inside my home as a trophy to that person who carefully rubbed until it shined. He has died, but this dead wood continues to breathe a beautiful life of its own because of his skill and love.
My friend in Virginia is a maker of wooden bowls. When we cut down the hugh tree in front of our house, because we felt the wind might blow it over, he reminded us of this old tree by making a beautiful bowl for my table. (You’ll see it in my slide show with this writing.)
Someday soon my husband will have his own workshop. He’ll turn wooden boxes and show the differences in designs and colors of oak, maple, and walnut. Some woods are hard to find because they have slowly died out in the areas where they were growing by the hundreds. Walnut is one of these woods. We are lucky if we have something made of walnut.
Strolling in the woods is a peaceful thing to do. It is good for the soul and restful to the spirit. When autumn comes, the trees dress in their finest and no one thinks much of the wood…just their leaves. Then winter comes and the wood is once again in its glory. The snow falls softly on the wooden branches.
Winter is a resting time. That is unless the wood is a Christmas tree. We planted over four hundred Christmas trees in Virginia…high on a hill. Those trees had a long time to grow. If they survived, they became back scratchers for the deer and a place for the birds to rest. One short life; then taken to a home to enjoy the beauty of being strung with lights and hearing the laughter of children. Soon, it too will be thrown onto the woodpile to start again the process of decaying in the soil.
Wood…it helps us have rain. Wood….privides us with warmth. Wood….gives us a place to sit and a table to sit around. Wood….covers our head with a home while we sleep in its arms as a bed.
From a little seeds it came. More seeds fall to the ground….float on the waters….and blesses us with more than we can imagine. I am glad for wood.
BOYER WRITES by Nancy Boyer
(Turn on your sound. Click and enlarge. If you do not have a response, right click and open the link.)
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Did all the architects of the world understand what their creations would mean to the world? Probably not, but my fascination with the pyramids, the Great Wall of China, the great cathedrals of Europe has led me to wonder about those who made them.
If they were hired by the Pope, or slaves to the Egyptians, or poorest of the poor to the Chinese, as they lifted the straw and laid the stones, what were they like as people? We walk on those stones, as I did when I visited Beijing, not thinking how much effort only one of these great bolders took to put in place to a 3,000 mile structure.
At the Vatican, I walked around towering carvings of marble. Who were their families? How long did it take to make these beautiful objects in marble? Perhaps a life time! Patience, practice, persistence….these are the three P’s of dedicated artists and architects of the wonders of the world. How many P’s are we teaching our children today? What is the future of what will be left for others to be amazed in years to come? Perhaps they are the missing part of our educational programs.
Fascination…..about how long it took us to rebuild what others destroyed. We are the architects of the future, not just in career, but in life.
BOYER WRITES by Nancy Boyer (Enjoy some of the beautiful architectural works on the slide show below. Use the full page option, turn on your sound, and click pages back and forth as you desire.)
Recently, my dog Gracie, found a new friend, the neighbor’s cat named Patches. Gracie didn’t ask for Patches to love her. Patches just walked up, laid down in a submissive pose, and continued to wiggle her way between Gracie’s paws. Two animals usually so opposed to one another would call for a bark and a Halloween stance. Neither happened. Gracie quietly laid there sniffing the fur different from her own. Amazed, I have watched this friendship grow. Having a long, fluffy tail that may have looked somewhat like a pillow to Patches, she gently pawed through it as if to make a little pillow for herself. Even the Vet could never do this, as the tail is definitely off limits! How is it that animals can find a way….and humans cannot? Different does not always mean that there cannot be peace.
Nancy at Boyer Writes