A Tale of Turning Hearts

A tale of turning hearts

Yesterday, November 18th, I attended my Aunt Lugene’s funeral.  She was 11 days shy of her 93rd birthday and had been in ill health for a while.  The service was a celebration of her life.  She had been a patient Army Wife, mother, grand-, great grand-, and great-great grandmother.  “The best grandma ever”, was a phrase used by more than one grandchild.  Warm, loving, accepting were among the many descriptions.  Tears were shed, and she will be missed, but no one was inconsolable or hopeless.  This was partly due to the feeling that a wonderful woman was finally out of discomfort and in the arms of her sweetheart again and part of a unique biblical prophecy.

Malachi chapter 4 verse 6 speaks of a last-days turning of “the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.”  I have been to other family funerals, with the same batch of cousins and sisters, but at no time has anyone suggested a family reunion.  Oh, yeah, the basic “we only get together for weddings and funerals” comment was made at least once, but this time, the suggestion of a full family get together was made and agreed upon.

Perhaps this was because Aunt Lugene was the last of the “parents”.  The last of my paternal grandparents’ children/children-in-law.  The generations officially moved up in ranks.  Death is closer to the now “old folks” (my level) especially since a cousin on that level has cancer.   I think more so it agrees perfectly with the trend to know one’s roots.  Several companies exist in many countries, to help one with genealogy.  I can think of at least two popular television shows in which people are helped to research ancestry.  Even my co-worker was bitten by the bug and has been researching her and her husband’s lines to find out just how German they are.  Turns out they better like Sauerbraten and Pumpernickel.

There can be something elevating in finding out about one’s ancestors.  My co-worker discovered she has two relations who were published poets.  They have works in the Smithsonian Institution and hob-knobbed with noted poet John Greenleaf Whittier and showman P.T. Barnum.  Pretty Cool.  Beats being related to the cheap schnook who snuck into the circus!

One can find mysteries in genealogy.  My father-in-law used to claim that the Stams were descended from royalty.  One day, we took a good look at my sister-in-law’s pedigree chart.  The father/son chain was interrupted with a mother/son link.  Her father was a Stam.  King’s mistress???

And one of these days I may find out if my dad was right when he told me one of my great-greats was an employee of Napoleon Bonaparte, who changed his name when he hightailed it to England after his boss got “fired”.   I know which great-great grandfather was a Scottish Seaman, but not which was a Knight in England’s Wars of The Roses.  And, there’s probably a horse thief in there somewhere.  Hey, they had children too.

I suppose this summer the first Hebert James Morris Family Reunion will be held.  That will be good.  Thanks for reading.

Little Free Library Update

This story about a story is wonderful! The book and likely the series sounds very interesting and worth the look.

Records of the Ohanzee

Little Free Library There’s Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror on top of the stack!

Two years ago, I dropped off a copy of the first edition of my book, Reflection: The Stranger in the Mirror, in the Little Free Library that stands beside the local bike trail. (See the original post from August 2015 here.) I wrote an inscription on the inside in the hopes of one day hearing from someone who happened to pick up the book. Weeks passed, then months and years, and I assumed that the book must have disappeared somewhere along it’s journey.

And then–just last week–something amazing happened. This appeared on Instagram…

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You can imagine my surprise at seeing one of the few original copies of my book make an appearance after so many years. But this wasn’t simply one of the originals…

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…it was the copy I left in the Little Free Library. And…

View original post 67 more words

Living Horror Story, Happy Ending Possible

photo credit: https://www.unicef.org/

Someone, cousin to the well know writer Anonymous, once said, “everyone loves a good scare.”  He was probably on the payroll of a movie company.  Some people love horror films or books.  The bookstore owner in the movie “The NeverEnding Story put it perfectly when talking to the protagonist, Sebastian, about his favorite books.  The owner said, “those books are safe.”  Sebastian could read them, be transported to a different world and then be safe and sound at home.  The special volume Sebastian was looking for however was not safe.  The reader would actually live the book and it would be different each time.

      

photo credits:  https://www.enca.com/africa/chibok-girl-refused-to-be-part-of-release-deal-nigeria   https://www.enca.com/africa/another-chibok-girl-escapes-boko-haram-says-nigerias-presidency 

Thousands of children in Nigeria are, I am certain, wishing their story would end.  We know part of it.  On April 14, 2014, a group of warmongers called Boko Haran captured a group of school girls from their dormitory in the town of Chilbok.  This started a well-publicized campaign called Bring Back Our Girls.  On May 6 of this year, 82 were released.  Twenty-one were release during a previous October.  They received attention and are in therapy.

photo credit:  http://www.thedailybeast.com/boko-haram-teaching-child-soldiers-to-rape

But what of the thousands of others?  Their story is beautifully and chillingly told in “The Scars of Boko Haram”, text by Aryn Baker, photos by Paolo Pellgro.  Time magazine, Volume 190, Number 2-3, 2017, pages 40-51.  To quote page 46:

“For every young woman who is whisked into a comprehensive reintegration program, thousands more traumatized Boko Haram abductees have been thrust, untreated into communities that are not equipped to tend to their wounds.  Parents have been reunited with children who were beaten, starved and forced to participate in ritualized massacres.  Some converted.  Others fought for the insurgents.  Many were raped.”

The article points out that abductees, child and adult alike were told they must punish offenders of the Boko Haram creed, even to the point of murder, or their lifes would be forfeit.  Some were coerced to kill their own parents, for “a child who can kill his parent can do anything.” (pp 47)

Living with what happened is horror enough, but after the victim returns home, the nightmare worsens.  Townspeople reject young women escapees for “sleeping with the enemy” (most were forced) and consider their babies as “bad blood”.  Because many victims will chant Boko Haram creeds when stressed, townspeople ostracize them as walking time bombs.

Try going to school, getting a job or, well, anything to prove you are not what you are being told you have become.  It’s next to impossible.  Because the country has been so torn by the war to stop Boko Haran, funds are short and available treatment is scarce.

photo credit:  http://bhekisisa.org/article/2017-04-25-handful-of-psychologists-deal-with-minds-racked-by-boko-haram-terror

So can they have happy endings to their stories?  It seems a far possibility as things stand right now.  Geoffrey Ijumba, head of the UNICEF field office in Maiduguri, stated: “If nothing adequate is done to help this generation of children, very soon we will have a bigger problem than the one we have now.” (pp 49)  The far light in the tunnel is therapy.  The Neem Foundation is an organization founded in 2016 to offer counseling to Boko Haram victims.  The group sessions are time-consuming and staff-intensive, but are considered the best way for a better if not happy ending.  Without this ending, the next chapter in the story is mental illness, drug use, and social crimes to hit back at the government that failed them.  (pp 49)

Think about your own life stories and those of your family and friends.  Would you write any of them into these pages?  Of course not!  I intent to put more than these words into this.  I intend to, after prayer, contact the two sources below and find out how I can donate some badly needed funds.  Please, share this blog with everyone you can and consider prayerfully if you too can help.  We may not help the entire nation, but we can help one more person.

http://support.unicef.org

http://www.neemfoundation.org.ng/

 

 

Adam and Eve?

Who were the first story tellers?  Well, the first people of course.  If you are Christian, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)  “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” (Genesis 1:27)  If you are an LDS Christian, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) your twist on the story would be “Gods” as in Heavenly Parents who came to earth, partook of earthly food and had two earthly children.  So I guess in that case the storyteller would be Heavenly Mother.  But, if you are some other persuasion, you have a different story.

If you are Piute the first woman was Bear’s wife.  The first man came to live in the area and she wanted to see him.  Bear was jealous, they quarreled, he was killed, (that’s one tough woman) and she went to find the first man.  They met, married and started the Piute people.  One of her sons was unruly and caused such an uproar that he and a sister were sent away to start another group of people.  The first woman missed them so much that her tears formed a lake and she waited so long by the lake, she turned into stone.  (http://plpt.nsn.us/story.html)  Photo found on:  (http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/nevada/underrated-lake-hidden-gem-nv/)

If you lived in Ancient Greece, you believed that the world was first populated with the gods.  One group, the Titans was pretty much wiped out by the god Zeus.  One of the remaining Titans, Prometheus made humans out of clay.  Since Zeus didn’t like Prometheus, he decided humans were not worth it either.  So, he flooded the earth to drown them out.  Two survived, huddled in a boat.  Deucalion and Pyrrha (daughter of Pandora, yup, the one with the box) decided to consult the Titan goddess Themis to see what they should do.  She told them to throw their mother’s bones over their shoulders.  Confused and a bit horrified at what seemed sacrilege, they pondered the words and decided that the goddess meant mother Gaia, the Earth and bones were rocks.  So they tossed rocks which transformed into the ancestors of humans today.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSGaia.html)  Picture found on: (https://mrpsmythopedia.wikispaces.com/Deucalion+and+Pyyhra)

If you are Hindu, Praja-pati, the Lord of Creation, was all that existed in the beginning.  From his will alone, he created mind, water, earth, fire, sun and air.  Then because he was lonely, he split himself into two parts, man and woman.  From these two came all of the animals, humans included.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSSelf.html)  Picture found on:  (https://www.pinterest.com/pin/475692779364306624/)

If you are from China you may have been told of the goddess Nü Wa who roamed the world in solitude.  She wanted company so she shaped some mud into the form of a human.  As soon as she set it onto the soil, it gained life.  She made many more and then, wanting even more people, too a long vine and dragged it through the mud.  Then she swung the vine in the air and scattered mud all over.  Each drop turned into a human.  The handmade ones became aristocrats and the mass produced ones the common folk.  (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSPG&NW.html)      Picture found on:  (https://ferrebeekeeper.wordpress.com/2011/05/18/nuwa-the-serpent-goddess/)

And, if you grew up long ago in Babylon, you learned of Ea, Marduk and Nintu.  Their gods were just as loving and gentle to each other as the Ancient Greek’s.  Ea, the god of rivers, ended up doing in his great-grandfather, Apsu.  This really caused a battle which his son, Marduk led, won and became head god.  It seems the earth had water and land, but nothing else, so Marduk filled in the details: rivers, plants and animals.  Okay, so he gave the vanquished gods chores to do to take care of this newly filled planet.  Surprise, surprise, they didn’t like it.  So, Marduk called the leader, Kingu, to come forth and slew him, right on the spot.  Then, with spit from the other gods, Kingu’s blood and clay, Ea and Nintu, the birth-goddess, created humans.  Guess who got all the chores?  Yeah, the measly human underlings were also given the honor of worshipping the gods and holding festivals for them.   (http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSMarduk.html)                                                                        Photo found on: (http://www.annunaki.org/who-is-marduk/)

All these stories and more may be found in a bounty of books and on-line.  There are many sites in addition to the University of Georgia web site cited above, all just a few clicks away.  Try out your local library first.  In my un-humble opinion, the rustle of turning pages far surpasses the clicking of a computer mouse.

Each time I read a creation story I’m filled with respect for the ancient people who with limited knowledge and revelation did their best to make sense of the beautiful world they called home.

El cóndor pasa

Sometimes a piece of music tells a story. Other times, it is part of a story, told in a musical. But, sometimes the story is what the song inspires. In 1913 Peru, as part of a musical “El cóndor pasa” (The condor passes) an instrumental piece of the same name was written. The play told how a group of miners gain the hope of better working conditions by the deaths (murders) of their bosses. It was the last piece of music in the play and accompanied a wedding procession of all but the miners who had no time off work. At the end of the musical, cóndors, long absent, return to the area. The miners see this as a sign for better days ahead.

This piece was at one time thought to be an Andean folk song, but it really was composed by Daniel Alomía-Robles for the play, based on traditional songs with an early set of Quechua words. Quechua is a native Andean language. It was scored for an orchestra, but it’s most famous renditions use Andean flutes or Pan Pipes. This gives it an airy sound, like wind over the mountain tops. There are over 400 versions, at least 300 have lyrics, each one different. It has become so popular, it is now considered a second Peruvian national anthem. I suppose that makes it a song for folks.

One set of lyrics was written in 1965 by American artist Paul Simon. He heard the tune in Paris, performed by the band Los Incas. He asked the band for permission to include the piece in his next album. They told him the music was a folk tune, but that the arrangement was their director’s. Jorge Milchberg stated he was a registered co-author because he added two notes and therefore could collect royalties. So, the Simon and Garfunkel album did not list Robles as the composer.

In 1970 Peruvian filmmaker Armando Robles-Godoy, Alomía-Robles’ son, took Simon to court over copyright infringement. His father had copyrighted the music in the U.S.A. in 1933. The lawsuit ended amicably as Robles-Godoy recognized that it was an honest mistake brought on by a misunderstanding. Today the album lists Alomía-Robles, Milchberg and Simon as composers with Simon as lyricist.

Google Youtube El cóndor pasa sometime.  I’d add a link, but there are way too many wonderful choices.  Find the one you like.

I found the Quechua words at this site: http://www.allthelyrics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=92041 with a translation at entered by a user named citlalli.

Quechua:

Yaw kuntur llaqtay urqupi tiyaq
maymantam qawamuwachkanki,
kuntur, kuntur
apallaway llaqtanchikman, wasinchikman
chay chiri urqupi, kutiytam munani,
kuntur, kuntur.

Qusqu llaqtapim plazachallanpim
suyaykamullaway,
Machu Piqchupi Wayna Piqchupi
purikunanchikpaq.

English translation based on the Spanish translation of the original:

Oh majestuoso Cóndor de los Andes,
Oh majestic condor of the Andes
llévame, a mi hogar, en los Andes,
take me home, in the Andes,
Oh Cóndor.
oh condor,
Quiero volver a mi tierra querida y vivir
I want to go back to my beloved land and live
con mis hermanos Incas, que es lo que más añoro
with my Inca brothers, this is what I yearn for most
oh Cóndor.
oh condor

En el Cusco, en la plaza principal,
In Cusco, at the main square
espérame
wait for me
para que a Machu Picchu y Huayna Picchu
vayamos a pasear.
so that we can go for a stroll
in Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu

Bedtime Story

My mother was Miss Phillips, high school Drama, Speech, English and P.E. teacher.  Therefore, as I grew, I mucked stables with Hercules, ate pomegranate seeds with Persephone (main difference-I hate pomegranates, tough luck Hades), whitewashed fences with Tom Sawyer and chased the Cat In The Hat with Sally.

The highlight of the day was climbing with my sisters on Mom and Dad’s bed for a story.  Some stories came from her Elementary School readers.  Now these did not say, “See Dick run.”  In fact, when I compared the two, I decided that children “way back then” were taught to read by total immersion.  No one word upon another tales, no, these were stories.  Full stories with plots, characters and big words.  Sink or swim.

My favorite stories were “Potato, potato,” “Dark Pony,” “Away-she-go” and “Dawn Boy.”  Now, before all you Cultural Purists get your noses twisted, I need to say, if I had not met the two aforementioned fakes, I would have never wanted to meet Old Man Coyote, Ananzi the Spider, Rainbow Crow or Turkey Girl.  And I wouldn’t have wanted to know why Shinob the younger god put death on the earth or how the leopard changed his spots.  But I met, I learned and I smiled (especially about Coyote, he’s cool).

I will share “Dark Pony,” at least the way Mom used to tell it, which was a little different than the book.  So, curl up with your blankey, and your favorite child.  The folk tale was originally published in 1912 by Scott, Foresman and Company from The New Basic Readers.

Every night and every night Dark Pony went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.  Every night and every night Dark Pony gathered up all the good little children with him.  One night as Dark Pony was galloping, galloping he saw (Nola) (favorite child).  She said “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me with you.”  So, Dark Pony stopped, (Nola) climbed on and they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.

By and by they saw (Dorothy and Patricia) (sibling and/or friend).  They said, “wait Dark Pony, stop, take us too.”  So, Dark Pony stopped and (Dorothy) climbed on behind (Nola) and (Patricia) climbed on behind (Dorothy) and they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.

By and by they saw a (black and white stripped cat named Tiger) (or whoever your friend is).  He said, “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me too.”  So Dark Pony stopped and (Tiger) climbed on behind (Patricia) who was on behind (Dorothy) who was on behind (Nola) and all together they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.

By and by they saw (Wadups’s rooster) (your friendly neighborhood animal).  He said “wait Dark Pony, stop, take me too.”  So, Dark Pony stopped and (the rooster) climbed on behind (Tiger) who was on behind (Patricia) who was on behind (Dorothy) who was on behind (Nola) and all together they went galloping, galloping off to the gates of Sleepy Town.

Soon they could see Sleepy Town.  (Nola) yawned.  Then (Dorothy and Patricia) yawned.  Then (Tiger) curled up and yawned.  Then (the rooster) sat down and tucked his head under his wing.  They could see the gates of Sleepy Town and Dark Pony went slower and slower.  (Nola) bowed her head and closed her eyes.  (Dorothy and Patricia) bowed their heads and closed their eyes.  (Tiger and the rooster) closed their eyes.  Dark Pony went slower and slower.  Now they were at the gates of Sleepy Town.  Slowly the gates opened and Dark Pony went in.

(Nola) was asleep.  (Dorothy) was asleep.  (Patricia) was asleep.  (Tiger and the rooster were asleep).  Even Dark Pony was asleep.  Good Night.

I’m not the only person inspired by that wonderful story.  Robin N. Fator was inspired to create Dark Pony Designs to showcase her line of clothing and accessories.  Darkponydesigns.com is a fun site and who knows, you might find something you’d like to buy.

Fun Books to check out:

“Coyote Stories” By Mourning Dove (Humishuma), Edited by Heister Dean Guie with notes by L.V. McWhorter (Old Wolf), 1990 Bison Books, University of Nebraska Press

“Druids, Gods & Heroes from Celtic Mythology”  1986, “Heroes, Monsters and Other Worlds from Russian Mythology” 1985, “Dragons, Gods & Spirits from Chinese Mythology” 1980   All from Peter Bedrick Books 156 Fifth Ave. New York, NY 10010.

“Truth is a Bright Star” By Joan Price, Tricycle Press PO Box 7123 Berkely, CA  94707

 

 

First Story

                       First Story

The first chapter in the story of a person’s life is usually thought of as starting at birth.  But I say it is before that, with parents, grandparents and all the way back to the first set who sent those genes down the line to become said person.  One of the pages in my first chapter is my father, Herbert Newel Morris.

Dad grew up on a small farm outside of Lewisville, Idaho that was originally settled by his grandparents, George and Zenobia Jane Harper where he saw the beauty of nature:

Tease
A pudgy headed squirrel
With a long and busy tail
Was trying to roll a snowball in July
When a fresh and playful breeze
With a tendency to tease
Blew apart the snowball in the sky.

Dusk Storm
Mountains near the valley loom
In ominous array;
Assassins plotting furtively
To kill the light of day

In clouds and shadows they submerge
Their ill distinguished form,
Together shroud the dying day
With mantle of the storm.

Sunset
How does one describe a sunset?
Capture color with a word?
Paint a picture with a pencil?

Still, one can feel a sense of grandeur
Sparked by crimson shafts of light;
One can sense an awesome something
When the day blends into night.

When grown, with a journalism degree to his credit, he served a mission in Brazil for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints where he found beauty of a different kind:

Bypass
Brazilian lips were made to be kissed,
But not by me;
Those rouge rosined cheeks are hard to resist,
Except by me;
Those swarthy complexions look warm to the eye,
As though no promiscuous kiss they’d deny,
But though it may be, I do not want to try,
For I left my love far behind me.

Brazilian breasts were formed to be pressed,
But not against me;
Their come-hither eyes say they must be caressed,
But never by me.
A curvaceous bodice might heavenly be,
But I have a goddess home waiting for me
And they never need to remind me.

There are waists in Brazil just right for an arm,
But never for mine;
These hot-blooded Latins are oozing with charm,
But none will be mine;
Their winks and their glances will get a blank stare
I can’t have romances, my heart isn’t there.
My love at home will still bind me.

The Samba was made for the hips in Brazil,
But it’s not for me;
The tango and rhumba are danced with a thrill,
By others, not me;
The clinch on the dance floor that thrills and elates,
Will not come to me ‘til I’m back in the States,
Then, that’s where you’ll find me!

After he got back to the States, he learned about women from five daughters:
Women
I’ll never understand ‘em
Much less hope to command ‘em
Pick any one at random
She’s a mystery!

Though you’d like to reprimand ‘em
Or thoroughly back-hand ‘em
You soon learn God planned ‘em
For man’s mastery.

All through it all, he kept his faith:
Creed
To step to the front when the Lord should call me,
Step out of my way for a friend in need,
To step never back whate’er may befall me,
To walk with men of a nobler breed.

To pace a father’s ideal sublime;
Keep step with a mother’s trust and hope;
To sustain life’s journey one step at a time;
Keep a pace ahead of each task in my scope.

To walk the path of learning, understanding, the arts,
Live tuned to nature for beauty she imparts.
May such guiding aims take my, I pray
One step nearer to God, each day.

Thanks Dad, for your page in my story.

First steps in the fog

Starting this blog is like stepping onto a rickety bridge in a fog.  You know there’s a safe way across the river, but there are also broken and loose planks.  Can you make it?  I decided to write when I realized all the stories I had flying around in my mind were bumping into each other and had to leave.  So I learned and wrote and rewrote and rewrote and then some more.  Finally I collected rejection e-mails.  Then come the rejection that wasn’t.  Suddenly, instead of seeing a bridge across that rejection river, all I could see was fog.  The same imagination that spun the yarns, poked holes in the bridge.

“This is stupid, I’ve never done this before, (duh) I’ll make mistakes, (really?) I’ll botch the whole thing and everybody will hate me (nah, not everybody, just love story readers).”  Of course you’ve never thought anything like that, right?

Then I pulled out the fog-lights and even a couple of fans.  First, I signed up for this how-to-write-a-blog class so I could learn and all I did was accumulate each day’s lessons.  So, I got my “round-tuit” fog light and clicked on day one.  Then my “you can read” light illuminated the tools and tips section.  Finally, my writer’s block curing fans of “put seat in seat” and “move fingers” showed me more intact planks than holey ones.

So, besides a ‘fraidy cat who prefers dry feet, who am I?  My name is Nola Stam, I am a Special Duty Nurse working with medically fragile children who need nursing care at school.  I grew up in a small farming town in Southeastern Idaho where there are plenty of bridges, sound and rickety, spanning the Snake River.  I live in Kearns, Utah with my husband Ron, daughter Evelyn and Jack Russel Terrier mix Spud.  (Well, when he was a puppy, he resembled an Idaho potato, fuzzy with legs, yeah, and he loved potato salad.)

Standing on the other side of the river is my kid sis, Norma Jean Morris, who shared the “not a rejection” for our short story collection, “Aspects of Love”.  She’s likely been there for a while patiently waiting for me to clear my foggy brain and come across.

Starting this was like stepping onto the bridge, so I guess finishing it is like stepping off.  Ahead is a new country, new paths to hike, new hills to view the landscape from the tops and yes, new pits to fall in.  But, everywhere are new stories, flying around, perching on limbs and rocks, waiting to be caught.  Guess I better kick a couple more out of my mind so there’s room.