Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Back, Looking Forward

2017 has been a year to remember:  the year of Trump, the year of women, the year of natural disasters, the year name it.  Will we get some rest in 2018?  I doubt it.

Here's my year in review:
Family events:  Gabriella graduates from high school.
                           Michael and Tiffany are married.

Favorite sports event:  The Astros Win the World Series!!

Nature:  Solar eclipse (partial here but still amazing)
               Hurricane Harvey:  catastrophe for our city, but we're still Houston Strong.

Favorite movies:  Marshall
                               Kedi (a documentary about the cats of Istanbul)

Favorite TV:  Flea Market Flip (I love it!)

Favorite books:  Fiction:  Lilac Girls,
                                            Little Fires Everywhere
                            Non-fiction:  The Gene, 
                                           We'll Always Have Casablanca

Favorite theater:  Come From Away (on Broadway) 

Favorite museum exhibit:  Ron Mueck at MFAH

New boarder:  Molly, my granddaughter's cat

Best getaway:  New York City in October

To everyone:  May 2018 be filled with health and safety, family and friends, peace and joy, goal-setting and goal-reaching.  And may all your dreams come true.  Happy New Year.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Holiday Wishes

Merry Christmas!
Happy Post-Chanukah!
Happy Kwanza!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Father's Loving Gift Gives us an American Christmas Classic

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  Yes, it even snowed in Houston.  When I checked the weather on my cell phone on Thursday night, it said "snow."  I couldn't see out the window; I thought something was wrong with my phone, but no.  The next morning the roofs on the next-door apartments were covered in white.  In early December--what a surprise!

Anyway, here's my favorite Christmas story.  I post it every year.

A guy named Bob May, depressed and broken-hearted, stared ou his drafty apartment window into the chilly December night.  His 4-year-old daughter Barbara sat on his lap, quietly sobbing.  Bob's wife Evelyn was dying of cancer.  Little Barbara couldn't understand why her mommy could never come home.  Barbara looked up into her dad's eyes and asked, "Why isn't Mommy just like everybody else's mommy?" Bob's jaw tightened and his eyes wetted with tears.  Her question brought waves of grief but also of anger.

It was the story of Bob's life.  Life always had to be different for Bob.  Being small when he was a kid, Bob was often bullied by other boys.  He was too little at the time to compete in sports.  He was often called names he'd rather not remember.

From childhood Bob was different and never seemed to fit in.  Bob did complete college and married his loving wife and was grateful to get his job as a copywriter at Montgomery Ward during the Great Depression.  Then he was blessed with his little girl. But his happiness was short-lived.  Evelyn's bout with cancer stripped them of their savings and now Bob and his daughter were forced to live in a two-room apartment in the Chicago slums.  Evelyn died just days before Christmas in 1938/

Bob struggled to give hope to his child for whom he couldn't even afford to buy a Christmas gift.  But if he couldn't buy a gift, he was determined to make one--a storybook.

Bob had created animal characters in his own mind and told the animal's story to little Barbara to give her comfort and hope.  Again and again Bob told the story, embellishing it with each telling.  Who was the character?  What was the story about?

The story Bob May created was his own autobiography in fable form.  The character he created was an outcast like he was.  The name of the character?  A little reindeer named Rudolph with a big, shiny nose.

Bob finished the book just in time to give it to his little girl on Christmas day.

But the story doesn't end there.  The general manager of Montgomery Ward caught wind of the little storybook and offered Bob May a nominal fee to purchase the right to print the book.  Wards went on to print the book and distribute it to children visiting Santa Claus in their stores.  By 1946 Wards had printed and distributed more than six million copies of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.  That same year a major publisher wanted to purchase the rights from Wards to print an updated version of the book.  In an unprecedented gesture of kindness, the CEO of Wards returned all the rights back to Bob.

The book became a best seller.  Many toy and marketing deals followed and Bob May, now remarried with a growing family, became wealthy from the story he created for his daughter.

But the story doesn't end there.  Bob's brother-in-law, Johnny Marks, made a song adaptation of Rudolph.  Though the song was turned down by such popular vocalists as Bing Crosby and Dinah Shore, it was recorded by Gene Autrey.  "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," was released in 1948 and became a phenomenal success, selling more records than any other Christmas song, with the exception of "White Christmas."  The gift of love that Bob May created for his daughter so long ago kept on returning to bless him again and again.  And Bob May learned the lesson, just like Rudolph, that being different isn't so bad.  In fact, being different can be a blessing.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

QuoXtes for the Week

Cat and Dogs

Dogs are high on life;
Cats need catnip.
                Mary Bly

Dogs will come when called;
Cats will take a message and get back to you.
                Missy Dizick

Dogs want only love,
But cats demand worship.
                 L.M. Montgomery

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Books of November

After I finished reading In a Different Key:  The History of Autism, I remembered reading an excerpt of this book many years ago and wondered if the son had actually been autistic.  He wasn't.  His behavior was very different from autism and he was eventually diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic.  Interesting read.

These two books were listed on the sidebar of the page about This Stranger, My Son.  I read Sybil when it first came out in the 70's and was fascinated, so I read it again.  If you don't remember it, it's the story of a woman badly abused in childhood who developed 16 alternate personalities.  Was the story true? 
Sybil Exposed says no.  After reading the expose of the doctor and author who made Sybil famous, I wondered if either story was true.  You can read them and decide for yourself.

A funny "keeping up with the Jonses, Indian style,"this book is set in Delhi and is the story of a lower middle class family who makes a fortune when the husband sells his website and their adjustment to life in an upper class neighborhood  I enjoyed it until the end when it just sort of petered out.

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