26th Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup

Today was the 26th Annual Potomac Watershed Cleanup. I have participated for a number of years but this time both of my nephews joined me. We are trying to instill not only the drive and importance of volunteering in the boys, but also a love for the environment.

We decided to concentrate on the wooded park in front of my house. The boys did great and a lot of trash was picked up. Adam even found a booster seat after moving VERY LARGE fallen tree limb in order to get it.

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

My nephew informed me that he was learning about poems in class. It reminded me of one of my favorite poems that I had to pull out and share with him.

THE TALE OF CUSTARD THE DRAGON

By Ogden Nash

Copyright Linell Nash Smith and Isabel Nash Eberstadt

Belinda lived in a little white house, 
With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse, 
And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon, 
And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon. 

Now the name of the little black kitten was Ink, 
And the little gray mouse, she called her Blink, 
And the little yellow dog was sharp as Mustard, 
But the dragon was a coward, and she called him Custard. 

Custard the dragon had big sharp teeth, 
And spikes on top of him and scales underneath, 
Mouth like a fireplace, chimney for a nose, 
And realio, trulio, daggers on his toes. 

Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears, 
And Ink and Blink chased lions down the stairs, 
Mustard was as brave as a tiger in a rage, 
But Custard cried for a nice safe cage. 

Belinda tickled him, she tickled him unmerciful, 
Ink, Blink and Mustard, they rudely called him Percival, 
They all sat laughing in the little red wagon 
At the realio, trulio, cowardly dragon. 

Belinda giggled till she shook the house, 
And Blink said Week!, which is giggling for a mouse, 
Ink and Mustard rudely asked his age, 
When Custard cried for a nice safe cage. 

Suddenly, suddenly they heard a nasty sound, 
And Mustard growled, and they all looked around. 
Meowch! cried Ink, and Ooh! cried Belinda, 
For there was a pirate, climbing in the winda. 

Pistol in his left hand, pistol in his right, 
And he held in his teeth a cutlass bright, 
His beard was black, one leg was wood; 
It was clear that the pirate meant no good. 

Belinda paled, and she cried, Help! Help! 
But Mustard fled with a terrified yelp, 
Ink trickled down to the bottom of the household, 
And little mouse Blink strategically mouseholed. 

But up jumped Custard, snorting like an engine, 
Clashed his tail like irons in a dungeon, 
With a clatter and a clank and a jangling squirm 
He went at the pirate like a robin at a worm. 

The pirate gaped at Belinda's dragon, 
And gulped some grog from his pocket flagon, 
He fired two bullets but they didn't hit, 
And Custard gobbled him, every bit. 

Belinda embraced him, Mustard licked him, 
No one mourned for his pirate victim 
Ink and Blink in glee did gyrate 
Around the dragon that ate the pyrate. 

Belinda still lives in her little white house, 
With her little black kitten and her little gray mouse, 
And her little yellow dog and her little red wagon, 
And her realio, trulio, little pet dragon. 

Belinda is as brave as a barrel full of bears, 
And Ink and Blink chase lions down the stairs, 
Mustard is as brave as a tiger in a rage, 
But Custard keeps crying for a nice safe cage.

RIP Shirley Temple Black

Shirley Temple Black just died. She was a child star who helped lift the spirits of the nation during the Great Depression and went on to be the only person (to date) to achieve the rank of "honorary Foreign Service officer". The "biggest little star" was nicknamed "Little Miss Miracle" by Franklin D Roosevelt and won a special academy award for "Outstanding Personality of 1934". By 1940, she had made 43 films.

She was a victim of her popularity as a child star. As she started getting older, audiences had trouble seeing her as an older child and then adult. She moved away from acting into politics and in 1969, she was appointed as ambassador to the United Nations. In 1989, Ambassador Black was appointed as ambassador to Czechoslovakia where she served during the Velvet Revolution.

I can't remember whether I ever actually met Ambassador Black although I may have when I went to Prague to assist on President Bush's visit.. I remember being told of a story while I was there of an incident that happened shortly after the Velvet Revolution and before the Berlin Wall fell. Many East Germans were trying to flee through Czechoslovakia because it was now free. One of the things that they would do would be to climb over the wall of the West German Embassy and ask for asylum. Ambassador Black lived just a couple of doors down from the West German Embassy and her garden wall was often mistaken for the wall of the West German Embassy. So often, in fact, that they had to station a marine in her back yard who would then shout to East Germans "two doors down! Two doors down!" I did not witness this myself but I was told of it by a couple of different people.

Now she has passed on at the age of 85. Ambassador Black's family issued a statement:

"We salute her for a life of remarkable achievements as an actor, as a diplomat, and most importantly as our beloved mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and adored wife of 55 years."

What a remarkable life she lead.

 


Welcome to the Rainbow Bridge - Sept 11

WELCOME AT RAINBOW BRIDGE 

by Alexander Theodore, Bouvier, Fourth Year Resident

 

On the morning of September 11, 2001, there was an unprecedented amount of activity at the Rainbow Bridge. Decisions had to be made. They had to be made quickly. And, they were.

An issue, not often addressed here, is the fact that many residents really have no loved one for whom to wait. Think of the pups who lived and died in hideous puppy mills. No one on earth loved or protected them. What about the many who spent unhappy lives tied in backyards? And, the ones who were abused. Who are they to wait for?

We don't talk about that much up here. We share our loved ones as they arrive, happy to do so. But we all know there is nothing like having your very own person who thinks you are the most special pup in the Heavens.

Last Tuesday morning a request rang out for pups not waiting for specific persons to volunteer for special assignment.. An eager, curious crowd surged excitedly forward, each pup wondering what the assignment would be.

They were told by a solemn voice that unexpectedly, all at once, over 4,000 loving people had left Earth long before they were ready. All the pups, as all pups do, felt the humans' pain deep in their own hearts. 

Without hearing more, there was a clamoring among them - "May I have one to comfort?" "I'll take two, I have a big heart." "I have been saving kisses forever."

One after another they came forward begging for assignment. One cozy-looking fluffy pup hesitantly asked, "Are there any children coming? I would be very comforting for a child 'cause I'm soft and squishy and I always wanted to be hugged." A group of Dalmatians came forward asking to meet the Firemen and be their friends. The larger working breeds offered to greet the Police Officers and make them feel at home. Little dogs volunteered to do what they do best, cuddle and kiss.

Dogs who on Earth had never had a kind word or a pat on the head, stepped forward and said, "I will love any human who needs love."

Then all the dogs, wherever on Earth they originally came from, rushed to the Rainbow Bridge and stood waiting, overflowing with love to share - each tail wagging an American Flag.

Happy 18th, Xena!

Yesterday was Xena Warrior Princess's 18th birthday. 18 years. Wow. I cannot believe that it was 18 years since the first episode, "Sins of the Past" aired. I discovered the show one Sunday while I was getting ready to go to the Rescue Squad for my duty shift. I tuned in in the middle of the show and it made me laugh so much that I frantically tried to find out what show it was. Mind you, this was before the true advent of the "Internet". This was back in the days of Compuserve before even AOL really got going.

18 years

18 years

I was never a "fan" of a TV show prior to Xena and was mortified to discover that I became a true "hardcore nutball" as Lucy called us. I found myself logging on to read the conversations on the Netforum. It was a very small community of fans back then. Everyone was so excited about the groundbreaking episodes and the Netforum was a place to share all that. Some of the producers and staff, such as editor Rob Field (Avacus) and writer Steven Sears (Tyldus), started posting to the Netforum and the fans were able to interact with them. A fan started the first Lucy Lawless Fan Club and stopped when Creation took over and created their own. Mama ROC created one for her daughter, Renee O'Connor. Email lists were started. People started writing fan fiction .... first General Fan Fiction and then the inevitable Alt Fan Fiction, Filk, and Uber fan fiction. Email lists were started the biggest one being the Xenaverse (which eventually became the Xena Verse). Websites were born such as Tom's Fan Fiction Page, Logomancy, and the fabulous WOOSH! The fans became very protective of the actors. Both when Lucy Lawless and then Renee O'Connor married their respective husbands, the fandom clamped down hard on anyone who was talking about the location & time so that their weddings would not be marred by unwanted guests. When Lucy Lawless broke hip on the Tonight Show, she inspired Sword & Quill to get started as a way of fans raising money for various charities. Over the past 18 years, over 15 MILLION dollars have been raised for charities by Xenites.

 

XWP changed the lives of so many fans myself included. I dove into the internet and it's technology, I made life long friends all over the world some of whom I have only me online and others face to face. This shy introvert took a leap of faith in 1997 (I believe) when I drove up to Valley Forge to the Xena Convention....my very first convention ever. At one point, I made the decision to leave early as I could not afford a second night in the hotel thereby missing the appearance by Renee O'Connor the following day. A couple of fans who I had never met before came up to me and offered me a spot in their room so that I could stay. I ended up staying.

Mama ROC talking to Melissa Good

A couple of weeks later travelling up to NYC to see Lucy Lawless in Grease.Save & CloseLucy Lawless in Grease

 

 

I travelled across the country to the "big" convention in Santa Monica.

It was right after Santa Monica that I flew to New Zealand and stayed with fellow xenites I had only met online.

I continued to go to the yearly conventions reuniting with old friends and meeting new ones. Eventually was offered the opportunity to shoot for Lucy Lawless.

So thank you for the past 18 years. You have no succeeded in making me feel old .... but I would not change it for the world. Now I have to rewatch the series.

 

The Many Stories in an Image

I have slowing been going through the images I took when on a personal vacation in Alaska. I found this image of my nephew which I really liked but I felt that it lacked .... something.

Dreaming

The photo was taken at a low angle and I loved his expression but I found that my eye was drawn to the yellow stripe on his sweater and on the frame of the picture on the wall.

So what to do?

As I love Black & White images, I thought I would try the conversion to see what would come of it. 

Dreaming

Much much better in my opinion. My eyes naturally were drawn to his eyes and the expression on his face.

But what would happen if I cropped it?

Darn it, I liked that one too and now I was stuck with two images that I liked. Which one do I chose?

This whole process brought an interesting point home to me. The image was trying to tell me something. Yes, I know that it sound corney, but I think that one of the things that makes the difference between snapshots and photography is the voice of the image.

To me, the cropped version is much more of a portrait. It focuses on my nephew. It tells a story of an individual.
The larger image tells more of a story to me of a person in a much larger context.

So what does that mean? It means that the art of photography exists in what you, as an artist, are trying to say. What feelings are you trying to convey or capture? Think about each image. Listen to what it is trying to say to you. As you study your images and work with them, you will discover your voice.