*photo credit to the wife
My father and I are struggling to mount his just purchased used dirt bike to the back of our black VW bug and I’m giddy as a child because I am a child and then as a family we’re out in the field that runs past the yard with scythes hacking out trails that run past and around the old sagging barn and then beyond into and out of the wood as we sweat under the intense mid-summer sun but I don’t care because I know the reason why we’re all out there and I had never worked so hard and with such purpose and then finally I’m on the back of that bike with my arms tight around my mother’s waist as we fly through and around those trails that I had helped to lay as spiteful thorn bushes strive futilely to slow us down and thick burrs glom onto our pants and socks and hang on for their own lives as I hang on for mine and when we finish the ride that seemed to have lasted only seconds and mom powers the down the motorcycle in the driveway and I holler out jeez that sure was fun! she whips her helmeted head around and fires off one of her patented scolding looks at me thinking that I had just taken the lord’s name in vain…
Well, my bold Westworld binge-watching bonanza proclamation turned out to be nothing more than a bunch of ballyhooed BS…
I only got through the fourth episode before running out of time.
Consequently, I can’t provide anything much in the way of a review. But I can provide a bit of feedback that might mean something about its watchability…
Which is… I kept falling asleep while watching it.
Now, full disclosure, I’ve taken some of my best naps during what turned out to be some of my favorite shows so my inability to stay awake while watching Westworld in and of itself doesn’t mean that much.
As for what I was able to stay awake for… I really like what it is trying to do in concept; however, its execution…
I’m not the smartest or greatest dad there is. Not even close. I have many faults and made many mistakes over the years that I regret.
However, I do think I’m pretty good at understanding my faults and I work hard to minimize their impact to myself and others, especially to my family, as much as possible.
Even still… just because faults were minimized, it doesn’t mean there wasn’t impact from them from time to time. There was. I regret that.
But… we live and learn and live and relearn and one and on.
My daughter is my first child and when she was born I didn’t have a clue as to how to raise her.
I found out quickly though, that having children, and especially having the first child, is kind of like going to war.
No matter how much you plan for it, once the first shot is fired the best you can hope for is a campaign of organized chaos.
Fortunately, not long after she was born, I happened upon some useful information — probably from articles in a newspaper (remember those things?) — about the results of a couple of different studies.
I don’t remember the newspaper — probably the Stars & Stripes.
And I certainly don’t remember the studies or who conducted them so I cannot attest to the veracity of the reportage.
However, based upon my life experiences, what was reported seemed to speak the truth.
And from these apparent truths that I happened upon long ago, I was changed — or at least I sought to change — from their insights.
And from this change, I hope I became a better father to, not just my daughter, but to my sons as well. For I also hope that when my sons, too, have daughters– and based upon the make up of my lovely and loving wife’s family and mine, they probably will — they understand how their beliefs and, more importantly, their behavior can have such an impact on the outcome of their daughters’ lives.
The first thing I learned that changed my behavior as a father was…
The more education a father has the less the chance will be that his daughter will find herself in an abusive relationship as an adult.
The second was…
Girls with high self-esteem tend to have less sex during their middle and high school years and girls with low self-esteem tend to have more.
The inverse is true for boys.
It’s Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.
DESPITE IT ALL, BECAUSE OF IT ALL
I grew up in a large family, the youngest girl and second youngest of six children, with two sisters and three brothers. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, I have always wanted to have a large family myself. My husband on the other hand, grew up with just one sister, so he was more skeptical of the prospect of a large family. Of course a large family today is probably only equivalent to half the size of a large family back then.
My ultimate goal was to have my children before the age of 30, so I could be a young mother and grandmother. After three-and-a-half years of marriage, I stopped using birth control so we could start a family. It didn’t take long for me to get pregnant, but it took determination and perseverance throughout nine pregnancies within the next ten years to successfully create our family.
I decided to write a book about my efforts to have children for many reasons; the most important one being that it was very therapeutic for me to jot down details of each of my pregnancies, successful or not, to keep them all sorted in my mind. Reading about them now, each one borne complete through words becoming sentences, and sentences becoming paragraphs and pages, is the most therapeutic of all. Of course it is easier to move on when things have ended on a positive note, and my family is complete.
My advice to others is simple:
Talk about your fears, disappointments and struggles to anyone who will listen. This can be a professional councilor or a friend or family member. On the flip side, listen to anyone that is trying to lean on you for support throughout their struggles. I remember a co-worker thanking me for “breaking the ice” as she called it, upon my return to work after a stillbirth. My co-workers were all very concerning and caring, but no one knew what to say or how to act, so when I started the conversation they were very grateful. It is always better to acknowledge someone’s pain rather than ignore or avoid it.
Do not wait too long to start your family. As my story shows you, things do not always go as planned. If you are in a healthy, financially stable relationship, and both of you want to have children, don’t procrastinate. That’s why humans have a nine-month gestation; it gives you time to get used to the idea of a baby in the family.
Work hard for what you believe in and want out of life. Do not let others tell you that you cannot do something that you believe you can. Do not believe that you cannot do something until you have tried your best to do it.
Do not take anything you have for granted, especially your health, but also your intelligence, athletic abilities, and anything else that makes you different from others.
Last, but not least, when you are feeling down, take a moment to realize that there is always someone worse off than you in any given situation. Think of the good and positive things in your life, (I do not mean materialistic things) and be sure to surround yourself with positive people that really care about you. Delete the negative things and people from your life. Make a written list of these things, referring to it often and adding to the list as you work through your struggles.
I can write this story now with humor, candor, wisdom and hindsight, all things I did not have much of when I was first starting out on my path to motherhood. Hopefully, this will provide inspiration and comfort to others that have or are going through the frustration and heartbreak of losing a child during pregnancy.
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MARY OF THE SUN
by jonna ellis holston
From Lowell , Massachusetts
My Aunt Mary wrote for The Lowell Sun for seventy-six years. She started while still a high school girl… under pen names… looong before women commonly reported for newspapers. She and my Uncle Charles G Sampas, a mild mannered executive news editor from a great historic city’s newspaper, were my God Parents. Often glued to Mary’s side, I recall The Sun as a chaotic place full of screaming, sweaty reporters desperate to read the ribbons spewed forth from the wire services. I still smell the ink and burnt coffee, and hear the deafening noise of the printing machines. “It’s a lot of work to bring news to the people,” she told me.
And remember those phones that had wires attached to walls? Mary Sampas was attached to one of those… always tucked under an ear, scribbling notes and trading in gossip and fact as she covered the glamorous stars of old Hollywood, Lauren Bacall, Cary Grant, David Niven, many others. Mary and Charlie even accompanied the Kennedys on their Paris trip with Charles de Gaulle and then off to Vienna for the Khrushchev talks. Even Jackie called on Mary for the inside scoop.
She slept late… till the calls began… then the typing would start. Evenings were usually spent socializing with those who were known to be in the know. Hers was a world of endless working parties with artists, writers or prominent Democrats. With non-stop, indefatigable charm and the brain of a word processor she would pursue secrets, discover, verify. What was show and what remained hidden in the backroom smoke?
Continue reading MARY OF THE SUN | A Relating to Humans Women’s Issues Feature
HUNTING THE DECEITFUL TURKEY
When I was a boy my uncle and his big boys hunted with the rifle, the youngest boy Fred and I with a shotgun–a small single-barrelled shotgun which was properly suited to our size and strength; it was not much heavier than a broom. We carried it turn about, half an hour at a time. I was not able to hit anything with it, but I liked to try. Fred and I hunted feathered small game, the others hunted deer, squirrels, wild turkeys, and such things. My uncle and the big boys were good shots. They killed hawks and wild geese and such like on the wing; and they didn’t wound or kill squirrels, they stunned them. When the dogs treed a squirrel, the squirrel would scamper aloft and run out on a limb and flatten himself along it, hoping to make himself invisible in that way– and not quite succeeding. You could see his wee little ears sticking up. You couldn’t see his nose, but you knew where it was. Then the hunter, despising a “rest” for his rifle, stood up and took offhand aim at the limb and sent a bullet into it immediately under the squirrel’s nose, and down tumbled the animal, unwounded, but unconscious; the dogs gave him a shake and he was dead. Sometimes when the distance was great and the wind not accurately allowed for, the bullet would hit the squirrel’s head; the dogs could do as they pleased with that one–the hunter’s pride was hurt, and he wouldn’t allow it to go into the gamebag.
In the first faint gray of the dawn the stately wild turkeys would be stalking around in great flocks, and ready to be sociable and answer invitations to come and converse with other excursionists of their kind. The hunter concealed himself and imitated the turkey-call by sucking the air through the leg-bone of a turkey which had previously answered a call like that and lived only just long enough to regret it. There is nothing that furnishes a perfect turkey-call except that bone. Another of Nature’s treacheries, you see. She is full of them; half the time she doesn’t know which she likes best–to betray her chid or protect it. In the case of the turkey she is badly mixed: she gives it a bone to be used in getting it into trouble, and she also furnishes it with a trick for getting itself out of the trouble again. When a mamma-turkey answers an invitation and finds she has made a mistake in accepting it, she does as the mamma-partridge does–remembers a previous engagement–and goes limping and scrambling away, pretending to be very lame; and at the same time she is saying to her not-visible children, “Lie low, keep still, don’t expose yourselves; I shall be back as soon as I have beguiled this shabby swindler out of the country.”
When a person is ignorant and confiding, this immoral device can have tiresome results. I followed an ostensibly lame turkey over a considerable part of the United States one morning, because I believed in her and could not think she would deceive a mere boy, and one who was trusting her and considering her honest. I had the single-barrelled shotgun, but my idea was to catch her alive. I often got within rushing distance of her, and then made my rush; but always, just as I made my final plunge and put my hand down where her back had been, it wasn’t there; it was only two or three inches from there and I brushed the tail- feathers as I landed on my stomach–a very close call, but still not quite close enough; that is, not close enough for success, but just close enough to convince me that I could do it next time. She always waited for me, a little piece away, and let on to be resting and greatly fatigued; which was a lie, but I believed it, for I still thought her honest long after I ought to have begun to doubt her, suspecting that this was no way for a high-minded bird to be acting. I followed, and followed, and followed, making my periodical rushes, and getting up and brushing the dust off, and resuming the voyage with patient confidence; indeed, with a confidence which grew, for I could see by the change of climate and vegetation that we were getting up into the high latitudes, and as she always looked a little tireder and a little more discouraged after each rush, I judged that I was safe to win, in the end, the competition being purely a matter of staying power and the advantage lying with me from the start because she was lame.
Along in the afternoon I began to feel fatigued myself. Neither of us had had any rest since we first started on the excursion, which was upwards of ten hours before, though latterly we had paused awhile after rushes, I letting on to be thinking about something else; but neither of us sincere, and both of us waiting for the other to call game but in no real hurry about it, for indeed those little evanescent snatches of rest were very grateful to the feelings of us both; it would naturally be so, skirmishing along like that ever since dawn and not a bite in the meantime; at least for me, though sometimes as she lay on her side fanning herself with a wing and praying for strength to get out of this difficulty a grasshopper happened along whose time had come, and that was well for her, and fortunate, but I had nothing–nothing the whole day.
More than once, after I was very tired, I gave up taking her alive, and was going to shoot her, but I never did it, although it was my right, for I did not believe I could hit her; and besides, she always stopped and posed, when I raised the gun, and this made me suspicious that she knew about me and my marksmanship, and so I did not care to expose myself to remarks.
I did not get her, at all. When she got tired of the game at last, she rose from almost under my hand and flew aloft with the rush and whir of a shell and lit on the highest limb of a great tree and sat down and crossed her legs and smiled down at me, and seemed gratified to see me so astonished.
I was ashamed, and also lost; and it was while wandering the woods hunting for myself that I found a deserted log cabin and had one of the best meals there that in my life-days I have eaten. The weed-grown garden was full of ripe tomatoes, and I ate them ravenously, though I had never liked them before. Not more than two or three times since have I tasted anything that was so delicious as those tomatoes. I surfeited myself with them, and did not taste another one until I was in middle life. I can eat them now, but I do not like the look of them. I suppose we have all experienced a surfeit at one time or another. Once, in stress of circumstances, I ate part of a barrel of sardines, there being nothing else at hand, but since then I have always been able to get along without sardines.
Friends and new family members, that is…
While we have quite the cat already – Jack Kerouac – whom I introduced some time ago and can be found as part of Photography page’s gallery collection, I am and always have been a dog man…besides, Kero-chan will have nothing to do with me as he is wholly devoted to the lovely and loving wife, and who can blame him.
But that is fine by me. As a true dog man I can remember clearly all my dog buddies who were there for me all throughout my life. My first dog as a child was an old hound dog named Mickey. I remember with fondness how his tail would always slap at me whenever he was happy. And while all my dogs were great friends to me, my bestest of best friend of all was our last dog Shikibu, a tiny little snowball of Maltese magic.
There are several reasons I am still here on earth after all the leukemia and lung disease as a result of the bone marrow transplant BS. First and foremost is that Universal Power Source of Infinite and Abiding Love we often refer to as God answering all the many, many prayers from all who love me in the form of my lovely and loving wife’s angelic grace and care, and a close second was Shikibu’s love and devotion to me throughout all that BS. Rarely could I leave my chair throughout all that BS, and rarely was Shikibu not by my side throughout all the BS…tucked away snugly, seemingly impossibly so sometimes, between my left hip and the arm of my recliner. Although eternally a puppy in looks and demeanor, she was an elderly lady when the cancer bug got me in 2009, and she was there for me through the worst of it. She died in 2011, not long after we all pretty much realized that I was going to be hanging around a little bit longer after all. She had many serious illnesses herself toward the end but it is my firm belief she held on long enough to know that I was going to be okay. It took me a long time to get over her passing; though I’m not sure that I really am…or ever will be. But recently I had finally reached a point where I was in need of more canine companion.
We knew we wanted a rescue puppy (it had to be a healthy puppy as I have enough issues of my own for my lovely and loving wife to attend to) and we knew we were going to be patient in the process. I did not realize, though, just how patient we’d have to be. I did most of my puppy searching through www.petfinder.com – it’s a very helpful place as it allows targeted search options. Still, I had no idea there are so many dogs in need out there. It took a lot of time. Always getting close, but never getting the cigar, so to speak. We’d find a pup we all could agree only to find that it was either too far away or that someone had just adopted it or any other multitudinous hurdles of a reason. It started to become tedious so we decided that we were going to wait until springtime to continue the search. That way we wouldn’t have to potty train a puppy in the snow. But a couple of days ago I just fired up the link on a whim and right away I came upon “Stella’s Boys” and that was pretty much all she wrote. We found exactly the pup we were looking for…the mostest cutest Plott Hound mix puppies you’ve ever seen
I wanted another hound dog, in honor of Mickey. One son wanted a Retriever for their loyalty and playfulness. And the other son wanted a brindle coated dog because of their unique look and cool name: brindle ~ Brindley …get it? And the wife did not want a horse-sized dog. All these desires came together courtesy of the awesome folks at the Delaware Puppy and Pet Rescue, Inc. Remembering the other pups we lost out on because of delay, I quickly filled out the online Adoption Contract and waited hopefully for the call back, which came on Saturday in the form of an email from Dianne, a hero and angel of a foster mom to the puppies, and many others, saying that we had passed the background check – a call to the references I provided and our local Vet – and invited us to her home to meet with the boys.
Yesterday we made the beautiful two-hour drive to Landenberg, Pennsylvania. If we hadn’t been on such a mission, the wife and I could have easily spent the entire day taking pictures, as the countryside drive was so pleasantly pastoral. But we were on a mission and as soon as we got to Dianne’s home and I saw all the cute puppies, I knew we were coming home with more than one.
And we did. And now I once again have my much needed and appreciated canine companion…thankfully so.
While I can pretty much guarantee you won’t be seeing many more, if any more, pictures of Kero-chan here, I cannot make that same guarantee about the newest members to our family. And while she will always be my bestest of friend and I will forever miss her, I’m pretty sure Shikibu, up in doggy heaven with Mickey, Kipper, Colonel Kish, Juno, and Sebastian, is perfectly okay with that.
Now whether Kero-chan is okay with the invasion…well, that’s a different story.