I Must Mourn

“I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us.
I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary!
Your high independence only reveals
the immeasurable distance between us.”
Frederick Douglass

 

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass – February 1818 to February 20, 1895

 

Every year, Americans rejoice and celebrate Independence Day with great fanfare. Amidst colorful parades, flag hoisting ceremonies, and barbecue parties. On this day  Americans remember the suffering their forefathers endured to win them precious freedom.

For most of this country, this past 4th of July was less red, white and blue than normal. No parades, no concerts, no block parties or friendly barbecues but there was plenty of fireworks.

Shooting off any kind of fireworks is illegal in my neighborhood. You wouldn’t know that if you happen to be living or visiting here lately. The booms and hisses that start at sundown and go well into 3:00 am have been a nightly fixture since Memorial Day.

For the first time in decades, the 4th of July fireworks show was cancelled due to the Coronavirus. Redondo Beach has always had the traditional 4th of July fireworks display over the ocean for thousands to come and see for free. The show would begin at 9:00 pm and last for almost 45 minutes of spectacular fireworks ending in the explosive grand finale. Often when the show ended, the thousands of spectators would leave quietly and with very little trash left behind. If there were any stragglers left on the beach setting off small fireworks, you would see police peacefully and immediately put an end to these illegal activities.

There were no police to be found this 4th of July. There’s a war going on in this country right now not just with the Coronavirus but with all of its people.

A recent Gallup poll found that American Pride has hit a new low and few are proud of our political system. I don’t think I needed a poll to tell me this. It’s loud and clear. I hear the frustration every night, all night long.

It sounds to me, people are sick and tired of not working, lockdown, social distancing, not being heard, and most importantly lack of freedom.

We take for granted things we have had all our life. Take for granted people we know and love: Our good fortune and health: Our freedom. But, when we lose people we love, lose our health and good fortune what do we really have left? We have our freedoms of choice, speech, and the right to pursue our dreams. Most importantly, we have our freedom to pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

On this 2020 Independence Day we must be reminded that not all Americans have enjoyed freedom since 1776. We must be reminded that there are still Americans, because of no fault of their own, have not been allowed to be truly free in their own country because of the color of their skin. They have not been free to pursue what all of us should have the freedom to do.

On July 5, 1852 Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. Frederick Douglass escaped slavery in 1838 and fled North. He became a leader in the fight to abolish slavery entirely.  Douglass was a powerful orator giving lectures on abolition. His speech that day was a scathing speech in which Douglass stated, “I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. For what to the slave is the 4th of July?  You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

Shine On

All Living Things

“Be respectful of the small insects,
birds and animal people who accompany you.
Ask their forgiveness for the harm we humans
have brought down upon them.”
Joy Harjo

All Living Things

There’s a poet I admire, Joy Harjo who is the first Native American Poet Laureate in the history of the position. Her poetry as well as her memoir, Crazy Brave are written with such simplicity and beauty that I find myself thirsty for more of her writings, especially since I’ve devoured all of her books.

Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1951 and is a member of the Mvskoke/Creek Nation. She is not only a talented poet, but also an author, musician and playwright. She incorporates into her writing storytelling and histories of her Nation and frequently incorporates indigenous myths, symbols, and values.

One of the subject matters she has touched on is the subject of Spirit Animal, Animal Guide and Spirit Helper. These terms are used among different cultures to describe spirits of benevolent nature, usually helping someone during a hard time. These spirits can bring strength, insight, and even a sense or feeling to someone who needs it.

Native American culture believes these Spirit Helpers are not a novelty. It isn’t something you choose or identify with but rather something that comes to you in your time of need. Perhaps the animal represents something that holds a certain value, such as strength in a bull or agility in a dragonfly. In the Native American Lakota culture, these spirits tend to associate values with certain animals. However, that’s not all they bring. They hold a special place and represent a larger spiritual culture within a tribe.

In many indigenous cultures, spirituality is about a relationship to everything around you – the plants and animals that provide food, the land that provides a home, and the weather that makes living possible. These elements are highly respected because they enable us to live.

I tend to believe our spirituality is strongly tied to the value and respect we hold for the earth and all living things.

Shine On

More Science and Less Fiction

“You may not see massive UFO exhibits
at your local science museum, but there’s
no dearth of saucer stories infesting my email.
Every day, I receive several reports of alien sightings,
extraterrestrial plans for Earth, and agitated screeds
about the reluctance of scientists to
take the whole subject seriously.”
Seth Shostak

flying_saucer_poster-02

The news report described the sighting of a shiny saucer like object over a small sleepy town in Idaho. The early dusk sighting witnessed by a barber and his customer.

Why is it my fellow Blogaholics, the majority of flying saucer sightings are by Joe Blow from Idaho? Why are sightings rarely seen in large metropolitan areas of the World? Most importantly, when and where did the terror of flying saucer sightings begin?

Apparently, disc-shaped flying objects have been recorded throughout history since the Middle Ages. The first highly publicized sighting was by Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947. On that day, Mr. Arnold was flying his small plane near Mount Rainier in Washington State when he saw something unexplainable at the same altitude he was flying. A chain of nine objects shot across the sky, glinting in the sun as they traveled. By his observation, these objects traveled at a speed of 1,700 miles per hour, or three times faster than any manned aircraft of its time.

kenneth-arnold

Kenneth Arnold with a sketch of a disc-shaped flying object.

Mr. Arnold never specifically used the term flying saucer. At the time, he was quoted saying the shape of the objects he saw was like a saucer, disc, or pie-plate, and several years later added he had also said the objects moved like saucers skipping across the water. Both the terms flying saucer and flying disc were used commonly and interchangeably in the media until the early 1950s. Then in 1952 the United States Air Force used a much broader term, unidentified flying objects or UFOs.

As time soon proved, this was just the tip of the iceberg and the era of UFO sighting had begun. It wasn’t long until everyone was looking for these new aircraft, which according to the papers were saucer-like in shape. In just a few short weeks, hundreds of reports of these flying saucers were made across the nation. While people thought they were seeing the same things that Kenneth Arnold saw, there was a major irony that nobody at the time realized. Kenneth Arnold hadn’t reported seeing flying saucers.

Miss Flying Saucer

Today many of the alleged flying saucer sightings of the era are now believed to be hoaxes. Photographs and movies altered by someone wanting to obtain their fifteen minutes of fame. The flying saucer is now considered largely an icon of the 1950s B-movies and is still a popular subject in science fiction.

This obsession with UFOs may have started several decades ago but it still is an area of science that is unable to be explained. Who knows, maybe in the not too distant future the Miss Universe pageant will be replaced by the Miss Flying Saucer pageant and there will be proof that UFOs are more science and less fiction.

Shine On

 

Icon of American Art

“People should take time to be happy.”
  Grandma Moses

grandma-moses-painting1

The Old Checkered House, 1943 oil on pressed wood

 

I have quite a few hobbies, but there’s one I really enjoy, drawing and watercolor painting. It’s one hobby that can put me into that zone of a perfect “flow”.

There are many artists I admire and try to emulate. When I started drawing and painting again in my 60’s, my late husband would kid me about becoming the next Grandma Moses. I always admired her recognizable Naïve art style, but knew little about the woman, so I read her 1952 autobiography.

Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known throughout the world as “Grandma Moses” was born September 7, 1860 in Greenwich, New York. In her 101-year life span, she witnessed the Civil War, a pandemic, two World Wars, the advent of the telegraph, the telephone, automobiles, airplanes and countless other innovations. She had always dabbled in the field of art all her life but it was only after all 10 of her children were grown and the burden of farm life lifted, did she begin painting full time.

Her life is really the story of twentieth-century folk art. Although she was not the first folk artist, she was the most well known throughout history and the world. How did she come to be so revered? The answer would appear to lie in a combination of factors. The nature of the field, the personality of the artist, and timing, which we all know is everything.

She had just turned 80 when in the 1940s Americans were reeling from the effects of a prolonged financial depression and filled with dread of rising fascism in Europe. In this time of tribulation, she emerged as an artist whose work embodied everything that seemed good about America.

She painted scenes of the farms and small towns that were then either the present or the near past for many citizens. She proclaimed the virtues of family, church, community and the nation at a moment when these were under attack from without and within, and she lived these virtues. Her basic honesty, generosity and good-heartedness shined forth both in her life and in her art.

grandma-moses-life-cover

When her paintings began to sell for sizable sums, she became the first artist whose work was routinely licensed for such products as greetings cards, textiles, and the like. In 1953 she appeared on the cover of Time magazine. In 1955 she was interviewed on live television by Edward R. Murrow. Then, for her 100th birthday on September 19, 1960, Life magazine did a cover story to celebrate this remarkable woman.

Grandma Moses passed away on December 13, 1961, at the age of 101, having witnessed a broad swath of American history. She was born the year Lincoln was elected, and died while Kennedy was president.

Both her work and her legend endures here and abroad. This reflects not only the quality of her work but also the fact that she remains an icon of American art.

Shine On

A Magical Place to Live

“Life is like a landscape.
You live in the midst of it
but can describe it only
from the vantage point of distance.”
Charles Lindbergh

magical-place-to-live

Over three hundred years ago the Chowigna Indians lived along the fertile land in Redondo Beach. They lived off the rich soil and fishing the ocean. There was an abundance of fish such as halibut, lobster, and sea bass.

Then in 1854 the Chowigna were sent off to missions and the wealthy Manuel Dominguez sold Redondo Beach to Henry Allanson and William Johnson. These two men saw the possibilities that Redondo would hold. In 1892, Redondo Beach was incorporated and became a major tourist attraction for all walks of life.

Redondo was once described as “The Gem of The Continent” in the Los Angeles Daily Herald newspaper. Through the years famous attractions such as the Redondo Hotel have long disappeared. They say the Redondo Hotel induced more visitors than ever before to venture to the coast.

During prohibition the Hotel Redondo closed its doors and in 1925 was sold for scrap lumber. Big time gambling, complete with mobsters and shooting incidents, found its way to Redondo during the Depression. Chip games, bingo parlors, and a casino were run in full view of the law between 1936 and 1940. For a fare of 25 cents, a water-taxi would transport a visitor to the gambling ship Rex which operated three miles off shore.

chaplinThroughout its history famous people have flocked to Redondo Beach. During the silent film era, actor Charlie Chaplin was often seen visiting Redondo and even bought a beach cottage for his beloved mother. Charles Lindbergh attended a year of high school at Redondo Union as well as Demi Moore and the Smothers Brothers.  Residents included world famous athletes, authors, an atomic scientist, astronaut, and even a Nobel Prize winner. Redondo Beach is home to beach volleyball Gold Medalist Kerri Walsh.

Hollywood also fell in love with Redondo. Numerous films and television shows have been filmed in Redondo Beach and it continues to be a favorite Hollywood location. Who doesn’t remember the desired destination of the road-tripping family in the 2006 movie “Little Miss Sunshine”.

There have been a few songs written about Redondo Beach, such as Patti Smith’s song “Redondo Beach” and the song, “Surfin’ U.S.A.” by The Beach Boys even gives Redondo a call out.

redondo-gray-whales
Yes, Redondo Beach has quite a history. Before moving to Redondo Beach over a decade ago, I didn’t know its history or anything about Redondo. All I knew was that it is utterly beautiful, it has ideal weather and the clean air helped me decide this is where I wanted to live. For me, Redondo Beach will always be such a magical place to live.

Shine On