Goodbye Christopher Robin (Review)

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Last night I watched the movie, “Goodbye Christopher Robin”. I thought I’d watch it first and see if it was appropriate to show my grandchildren, to whom I have recently introduced the poems and stories of A.A. Milne.

This is NOT a children’s movie. Instead, it is a touching and heart-wrenching story of a man haunted by the ravages of war and suffering from PTSD. A man trying to find happiness again while running from the bombs he still hears in his head long after the First World War ends.

Alan Alexander Milne was a fellow who stumbled on precious moments here and there when he was able to escape real life and delve into remarkable adventures with his young son, Christopher. Together they discovered a magical place bringing stuffed animals to life and filled with wonderous imagery that can only be conjured up by the innocence of a child.  This movie tells a gut-wrenching story revealing much more than I ever knew about the author whose books I have cherished and read to countless children over the years.

My copies of Milne’s poems and Winnie the Pooh stories are from my own childhood collection. (Reprinted from the 1926 originals and were given to me in the mid 1950’s.) Yes, my own well-loved books graced my shelves for decades and then sat in my classroom for 36 years so my students could enjoy and delight in their magic. And they currently are back where they belong… with me, on my shelves once again, to love and cherish for as long I am able to delight in them.

My grandchildren read them to me when they visit. They too have fallen under the spell of Christopher Robin and Winnie just like I did.( And like children all around the world after WWI.)
If you want to see an excellent film I highly recommend this one. I shed a lot of tears, but then it may have touched me in particular because of my connection to children’s literature and the incredible world of Winnie the Pooh. Such wonderful stories that got me through the 1950’s, and enchanted my own children, and now my grandchildren.

In the mid 1970’s I remember sketching out figures of all the characters from the Hundred Acre Woods and painting them around the bottom of my son’s bedroom wall when he was little. I even used colored contact paper for their clothing. That way, each day when he awoke, he could see Winnie and his friends there to greet him.

I personally found this film extremely touching and also quite sad. It reminded me just how damaging war is to those young people who are in the middle of battle, and how society just goes on and simply ignores the inner turmoil our veterans are feeling when they return home. A poignant statement.
If you get a chance. Check it out.

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When Will This Nightmare End?

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I remember being a little girl watching the trial of Adolf Eichmann on a black and white television.
He sat in a little booth- like cage at his trial for crimes against humanity. I vividly recall hearing witness after witness tell their heartbreaking stories.
The survivors…sobbing, fainting from the horrors of their memories, as they testified against the monster of a man who sat in the booth. One after the other told atrocities Eichmann committed or ordered others to commit. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing.

I was just a child and yet I closely watched the face of the man who murdered countless innocents without a second thought. And what shocked me the most about his expression was his total indifference. He had no remorse. No sympathy for any of the murders he had committed. He accepted no responsibility, and even scoffed at those who had been tortured while watching their families killed in front of their eyes.

I was sure nothing like that could ever happen again in my lifetime, but I was wrong. Evil is alive and well and living in Washington DC. I see the same bone chilling depravity when I look into the eyes of our “Liar in Chief”.

I hope and pray that 45 and his entire administration, including any of the silent members of Congress, who allowed his barbaric actions and decisions against people living in this country, are brought to trial for crimes against humanity and for TREASON. These monsters do NOT represent America. They do not possess any of the values epitomized by our founding fathers. When did America tear children from their mothers and put them into camps? This sounds way too much like Nazi Germany.

I hope the lot of them rot in jail for their brutal, sadistic behavior, and that the history books reflect truthfully what happened to our country during this corrupt administration. I am disgusted, saddened, and angry that America has fallen into the depths of hell under this new leadership.

And today to hear Bible passages being spoken out of context to justify horrific acts is the epitome of corruption.  May G-d save us all.

When will this nightmare end?

 

Am I A Geek Because I Like Royal Weddings?

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Am I a Geek because I like Royal Weddings? Probably, but, I really don’t care. You see, I find royal weddings enchanting, charming, and totally romantic. They bring back fairy tale dreams most little girls, including myself, had when we heard all those magical princess stories back when we were children.

I think the majority of little girls wanted to grow up to become princesses. That is of course, before they fully understood the difference between fantasy and reality and that life goals needed to be realistic, not a fairy tale illusion.

I know I wanted to be like Cinderella when I was growing up in the 1950’s. (Except for all the cleaning she had to do).  Or, a bit like Snow White.  She was lovely and had a way with animals. (But no, NOT the parts where she had to cook and clean for 7 little men. I always wondered why she did that. Goodness that was bizarre!!!)

Countless stories from books and Disney movies glamorized becoming a princess, and falling in love with a handsome Prince was standard reading in just about every story for girls back when I was growing up. Is it any wonder why every little girl wanted to grow up to become a princess? Even my grand daughter walked around in princess gowns, princess sleeping attire, and donned a tiara for quite a while after seeing the movie “Frozen”. So many themes enticing girls to meet their Prince Charming and live in a castle. Story after story revealed a prince or a knight saving a beautiful fair maiden and inevitably they’d end up living happily ever after. The princess was ALWAYS beautiful, (Princes never seemed to save ugly girls, only the prettiest girl in the kingdom.) AND she usually had blonde hair. Thank goodness Snow White was a brunette!!  Five year old Lesley had at least one princess with dark hair to look up to. My grand daughter has curls and she cried because all the princesses had straight hair.  (Who writes these princess stories anyway?  They are traumatizing our little girls!!!)

Yes, being a princess might have been a sweet dream to imagine when I was five. However, I learned early on that I didn’t need to be saved and if there were any dragons to be slayed I could handle those myself. I always thought I was adventurous enough to do what the boys in the stories did. Perhaps, because I had an older brother and I took great delight in trying to beat him (and his buddies) at running, basketball and all other sports. (BTW, I could hit a soft ball out of the park.)

But, in the 1950’s and early 60’s my mother reminded me that the boys wouldn’t like it if I beat them at everything. So, eventually I stopped out shining the males around me when it came to sports and moved on to other adventures. Like reading writing, dancing, drawing etc.

Yet, secretly, I think I still thought coaches made out of pumpkins and fairy godmothers who turned rags into ball gowns and delicate glass slippers, were incredibly special. The problem was, that as I grew up the majority of princes I met (or married) were nice enough fellows, I just discovered that it was “moi” who did ALL the saving. I remember thinking “When do I get saved? “ AND the parts of the fairy tales I didn’t like, (You know, all that cooking and cleaning stuff), I had to do that anyways as a wife and mother. I couldn’t win!!

So, I began to live my own real life fairy tales, since the ones in the stories didn’t seem to work on feminists very well. Especially during the turbulent 60’s and 70’s.

But, still …somewhere, deep down inside, I must have retained a tiny bit of the Cinderella story because I am sucker for a good romance. I do seem to love, love!

So… yes, royal weddings make me feel a bit nostalgic for the days  when I still thought my prince would come charging in on a white horse. It wasn’t until I realized that I was afraid of horses that I figured I’d have to scratch that fantasy. Besides, in a crisis, afraid or not, I always seemed to take control. Perhaps that’s because I was a divorced, single mother and single moms learn VERY quickly how to fill in and do any role. We’re really good at being a Mom OR a dad, a teacher, OR a super hero. Women are strong as hell and we can do just about everything!

I even became proficient at throwing around a football and a baseball to my sons, and I could hit a mean curve ball most of the time. So, you’d think that a strong, independent woman like myself wouldn’t be a sap for love stories involving princes and princesses, but I am.

Royal weddings give us all hope. They bring optimism that real life fairy tales can actually come true. And they are even better when the bride to be is a so-called commoner. That just tugs at my heart and brings the age-old stories right into the 21st century. Especially when our bride is an independent American feminist. How awesome is that??? It means that true love may really exist! And happily ever afters do too.

So… I am here to confess, that I too am caught up in the Megan and Harry love story. Corny you say? You bet. Shallow? Perhaps. But, I am a true romantic at heart and I enjoy a good love story. I always have.

And the fact that Harry was Diana’s baby boy and all of us, who were around during her tumultuous lifetime and adored her, makes this wedding even more meaningful.

I was teaching when the news of Diana’s accident hit the airwaves. My young female students came back from lunch in tears. Word had spread of her death. I was forced to address it in class and we shared a tenderhearted discussion about her good qualities and how helping those less fortunate was her legacy. It led to an essay of what each of us could do to exemplify her charitable character. I believe that spontaneous lesson was one of the best of my 36-year teaching career.

I have a particular fondness for Diana’s children. I feel like all of us mothers out there are watching over her boys because she can’t. And I think Diana would be very pleased with her darling Harry’s choice in a bride. He is marrying a strong young woman who seems to care a great deal about human rights and she clearly adores her soon to be husband. What more could any mother want for her child?

So… Yes, I’ll be watching the wedding. Not as it is happening… (Goodness knows I am not getting up that early), but I will watch it as they replay it during the day and feel that love won this time around.

Love beat convention and social guidelines. It beat prejudice and boundaries, and two lovely souls will be brought together as one. And I am sure I will cry. (I always cry at weddings.). And then no doubt, I will probably be subconsciously humming “Some day my prince will come” from one of Disney’s Princess films. Not a bad way to spend the day when Harry and Megan walk down the isle.

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Oh Please!

Sharing a delightful poem by my dear long time friend, “POETLADYUNIVERSE”.
This is certainly what we all think about as watch the years go rolling by.

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Sometimes I wish
I could do it all over again
My mother always said
If I knew then
What I know now

What would be different?
We were so certain of things
Things we loved
And things we hated
Things that we forgot about
As soon as we could

Now in an older age
We are not so certain
Maybe if I
could have
Or should have
Or would have

We look back and wonder
All those roads not taken
Oh please!
We didn’t want to go there anyway!

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Varying Degrees of a Dilemma…

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Different stages of life bring varying degrees and interpretations of what constitutes a dilemma. Here is my example for today…

I woke up earlier than usual this morning because I am scheduled to be a poetry judge  for “Louder Than a Bomb Florida”. I have been looking forward to hearing students share their poetic voices and express themselves in a lyrical format. The finals to this competition will be later in April and my small role is to help narrow down the best poets and poetry teams by judging today’s competitors. (Keeping in mind that poetry is subjective. However, based on a given criteria, the group of judges have their scores tabulated and score keepers come up with an average for each individual poet, group, and school to see who moves on to the semi finals.)

Anyhow, I started thinking about the young poets I’ll see and hear today. I had a fleeting moment of recollection of my own youth when I used to write poetry, turn it into songs, and then play my poems as music on either my folk or electric guitar. I lamented momentarily for my long lost youth, which ironically still seems very alive to me, until I happen to walk past a mirror.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for every gray hair and every line because I have survived life, when so many others have not. And so I rejoice each and every day that I am still alive. A part of me has been shouting to the heavens my gratitude that in less than a week I will reach the last year of my 60’s, but another part of me realizes that I am verging on the decade I have set aside in my mind and called OLD age!!!

Whenever I refer to myself as middle aged, my older son in his 40’s, laughs at me explaining that HE is middle aged and therefore I cannot possibly be middle aged too. I tell him he cannot call me old until I approach my 70’s and as long I am still in my 60’s I am indeed middle aged, at least as far as I am concerned!!! (I’m a junior senior and that’s that!!! End of discussion!!)

So, with 69 lurking in the wings, and a little envy at the young fresh faces and outspoken words I will be hearing today, I have a plethora of mixed emotions this morning about getting older. There is still that young rebel inside of me and I envy the poets of today, who with their words have the power to change our world. I rejoice in their passion, their strength, their physical beauty. But most of all, I admire their energy.  I still feel like just like they do deep down inside.  That is until I actually look in the mirror.

This morning I stood in front of my reflection to slap on a little blush and lipstick and low and behold, in front of my face I saw a huge red ZIT on my left cheek!!! I burst out laughing and actually jumped up and did a happy dance. YES. I jumped for joy! I mean, if I can still get a pimple, doesn’t it mean that I am still young inside??

Gone are the days when a blemish was the end of the world. I used to agonize over those period pimples that would pop out of nowhere when I least wanted to see them. But today, I rejoice that I have a large red zit on my face. I feel young again! Hoorah!!!

Now, my dilemma is this… I don’t have pimple cover up since I am 68 years old and never get break outs anymore. I suppose under eye concealer will do the trick. Or maybe, just maybe, I will let that big old red sucker shine brightly proving that this old girl is still young enough to break out! Hahaha isn’t life something???  I have a pimple today. Yippee!!!! I feel young…. or at least 40 again. I can’t believe it!  I am going to a poetry slam and I will fit right in. I’ll have a pimple.  Isn’’t life grand???!!!!!

 

Moi with Judges for “Louder Than A Bomb Florida”

 

An Evening With The Bard!

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Tonight the newest movie version (2013) of Romeo and Juliet was on television and I decided to give watching it another try.

Those of you who know me well, know R & J is my absolute favorite play of all time. Without a thought I can recall just about every line from every character in that play. So when this particular film version first came out I couldn’t wait to watch it. But, a few years ago I turned it off before Romeo ever set eyes on his beloved Juliet. Why? Because the director had it rewritten so that it was in every day language and thus despite the exquisite scenery, gorgeous costumes, and beautiful actors, it was a mockery of that which we call Shakespeare.

However, this time when I flipped through the stations, I came upon the scene where Romeo first gazes at our gal Juliet. He went right into his original lines. “O she doth teach the torches to burn bright! ” etc.
And so I gasped…and tears instantly welled up because their “meet and greet” scene was exactly as it was originally written. Just as I performed it in college back in 1970, and just as I taught it to my students year after year. And in that moment I was immediately drawn back into the world of blank verse. (Better known as unrhymed iambic pentameter).
Yes, to my delight, the director was at least clever enough to use The Bard’s original verse for most of the important lines between the world’s most famous lovers. Thank goodness!!!!!!

I don’t know why this director felt the need to dumb down a good portion of the dialogue. Young people today aren’t stupid. They would still watch it, and still understand the content and passion this play evokes without ripping good old Will’s words to shreds. Thankfully, enough was left intact for me to enjoy .  But seriously, why would anyone want to tamper with perfection?
The director could have changed the costumes, the staging, and the set; modernize the make-up or hairstyles, but NOT the words! NEVER THE WORDS!!!

There is a reason this play and all of Shakespeare’s plays have survived for centuries. It’s because they are brilliantly written. His words fall of the tongue like musical notes and float up into the theatre, circle around, and touch your heart. And they stay with you for a lifetime.

So… tonight I found some unexpected joy when I watched my favorite play.  I now have yet another movie version to enjoy when I long to hear The Bard.
Sigh…An evening with Will Shakespeare and unrhymed Iambic pentameter. Ahhh… Life is grand!!!

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1970 University of Miami. Juliet AKA Lesley

 

 

 

 

The Mass Shooting Down the Road.

On any given day, at any given time, in any given school, in no particular order, any one of our children or grandchildren could be killed while trying to get an education.

Today it was the school down the road from my house. Today 17 people lost their lives just 15 minutes from my home. In a beautiful neighborhood, in an academically excellent school, while the sun was shining, while I ate lunch, a gunman murdered 17 human beings, just down the road.

This morning parents said goodbye to their children never realizing that their precious darlings would never return. All this happened in my perfect little Florida community on Valentine’s Day.

As a retired educator I spent 36 years of my life teaching children. I never dreamed that something like this could touch my community. Not mine. But it did, and just down the road from where my sweet grandchildren sat in their classrooms in a nearby elementary school.

There is a gun epidemic in America that is more deadly than any virus or disease. And It is destroying our beautiful bright future and killing our children. And what do I say to my grandkids who will now be terrified to go back to school? I don’t know how to make them feel safe again. This is NOT how we should have to raise our children. This is not how America is supposed to be on any given day, at any given time. Not America!

Dear neighbors and friends, together we must make this nightmare stop. It Is fixable! By voting for representatives and leaders who are bold enough and care enough about our families to pass safer gun laws, “We The People” can save lives. Together we can do this! Our children do not have to be sitting ducks any more. We can stop this slaughtering of innocents. But, we must demand change and vote out those who don’t care about our loved ones.

These home grown terrorists,who are mostly young white males, can be identified and denied fire arms if Congress passes new gun safety laws and enforces them to protect our babies.

The President and Congress can keep their prayers to themselves. It doesn’t help those students killed just down the road from my house. Only safer gun laws will protect the rest of our children. Not speeches or bowing down to the NRA. Until better laws are created, then we will continue to live in the Wild West of Ignorance . And Americans don’t want to live in that world anymore. Enough is enough!