Saturday, July 4, 2015

Let Freedom Ring

Today is July 4th. The birthday of our country, and in 1776, the birth of a brave new
experiment in governance. A country of the people, governed by the people and for the people. No nation up to that time had ever attempted this type of government. For the past 239 years the United States has been the gold standard of democracy. 

Or has it??

Our constitution lays the groundwork for our government, while the amendments do the fine tuning. The first amendment is just one sentence long, but it covers so much ground. 
Amendment 1 - Freedom of Religion, Press, Expression. Ratified 12/15/1791.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances
The first phrase, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", allows us the freedom to believe what ever way we want. The government can not tell us what to believe, or how to believe. In fact we even have the freedom to not believe if we choose. 

Throughout our history, individuals, groups, and organizations have tried force our government to violate the first amendment by forcing their particular religious beliefs on others through laws. Laws that were based on certain personal religious views. Your beliefs are yours, and you have the freedom to follow them as long as they don't hurt another. 

This past week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states can not intact laws restricting same sex marriages. Laws that are based on certain individuals religious beliefs. I will not take a side on this issue here. As someone who believes in our Constitution, I feel that the Court has upheld the first amendment by restricting laws that are based on certain religious beliefs being forced on others. 

Of course others feel differently about this, and I have no problem with that. It is part of what freedom is all about. As is often quoted, "I may disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" (Evelyn Beatrice Hall, 28 September 1868 – 13 April 1956), The Friends of Voltaire)

Since the decision came out I have been following the quotes made by some of our Presidential hopefuls.
"If I become President, I just want to remind people, please don't complain if I were to put a Nativity scene out during Christmas and say, 'If it's my house, I get to do with it what I wish, despite what other people around the country may feel about it,' " Mike Huckabee said on ABC's "This Week."
I like Mike. Some of his thoughts are quite good. BUT we should remind him that IF he ever gets to the White House as President, his residence is only temporary. Why not decorate the White House, symbol of our great nation, for all of the religious holidays that our citizens celebrate?
Other 2016 GOP candidates, including former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, also slammed the Supreme Court decision. If elected, he vowed to use the presidential "bully pulpit" to talk about the importance of marriage "for the survival of our country" — instead of combating global warming.
Does this mean Rick has found the cause of global warming? This seems like a real apples and oranges comparison. Comments like this are truly scary to me. 
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said he believed the GOP should back off the idea of pushing for a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The proposal would never make its way through Congress, he said on NBC's "Meet the Press.” "It's a process that's not going to bear fruit," he said, arguing it should no longer be included in the GOP's platform.
Now, Lindsey seems to be making some sense here. It is time the Government stop trying to rule and run other folks lives. With so many other dangerous, possible disastrous situations both here in our country and around the world, it truly is time to move on.
Responding to the high court’s gay-marriage decision, the most mainstream among GOP presidential candidates – former Florida governor Jeb Bush – said, “Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage.” (Mr. Bush is Roman Catholic.) But he also said: “I also believe that we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people who have opposing views should be able to live side by side.”
Don't get me wrong here. I am not a Jeb fan (nor am I a fan of anyone else), but he may be onto something here. It is time we get back to loving and respecting each other. Quakers have long believed that we are to respect the beliefs of others. I also seem to remember the Almighty making these part of the primary, golden rules. 

Freedom. It is sometimes a double edged sword. But it is what makes our country great. 

Here's hoping everyone has a happy and safe 
Independence Day Weekend.

Grenville, letting FREEDOM ring!!!

LATE ADDENDUM- This just in:::::::
The Attorney General of the nation of Texass has announced that he will not force any County Clerk to a issue marriage license to same sex couples if the clerk feels it is against their religious beliefs. As usual, being a Constitutionalist, I have to agree. 
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof
No one should be forced to do something that violates their religious beliefs. Of course this means that the clerk is not able to perform the duties of their office for which they were elected and get compensated for. 

A definite conundrum !!!! Now, if you were working at Mc Barfies, and said that it was against your religious beliefs to serve Big Yucks, what do you think would happen?????? You were hired and are getting paid to serve Big Yucks. As the manager who does not want to interfere with someones religious beliefs, what would you do????? 

Instead of violating someones Constitutional rights, I would replace that person with someone who had no problem serving the Big Yucks.
AH yes, the double edge sword again.

Happy Independence Day!!!!

Celebrate Today

 "You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism."   Erma Bombeck
(Comments are off — Enjoy your get-togethers & celebrations this weekend.)

Friday, July 3, 2015

Friday Funnies

Good advice — an apple a day . . .

Enjoy your weekend, Everyone!
Happy Birthday USA

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Roosevelt & Rockwell's Four Freedoms

Norman Rockwell Museum, Stockbridge, MA
Admittedly, my knowledge of U.S. history often falls short. Seeing the Four Freedoms exhibit recently in the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, MA caused me to educate myself, especially as we near the U.S. July 4 holiday this weekend.

The freedoms were goals set forth by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in a State of the Union address on Jan. 6, 1941.

European countries were falling under Hitler’s Nazi rule, Roosevelt’s goal was to move the U.S. from a foreign policy of neutrality. He wanted the U.S. to assume a stronger interventionist role.

According to Roosevelt, U.S. actions and policy should be devoted to meeting foreign perils. In closing, Roosevelt described his vision to extend American ideals of liberties to people in all nations:
We look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. The first is freedom of speech and expression — everywhere in the world.

The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way — everywhere in the world.

The third is freedom from want, which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants — everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear, which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor — anywhere in the world.
Roosevelt’s speech came 11 months before the U.S. declared war on Japan (December 8, 1941). When U.S. involvement in World War II escalated, illustrator Norman Rockwell wanted to do something for the war effort and in 1943 decided to illustrate Roosevelt's freedoms in a set of four oil paintings titled: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. Rockwell portrayed them from the perspective of his hometown experiences.

They were published in the Saturday Evening Post, the most widely read magazine at the time on four successive covers — February 20, 27, March 6 and March 13, 1943 — accompanied by commissioned essays on each Freedom from American writers and historians — Booth Tarkington, Will Durant, Carlos Bulosan, and Stephen Vincent Benét.

Norman Rockwell studio
After their publication, the Post received over 25,000 reprint requests. The U.S. Department of Defense toured the paintings countrywide raising over $100,000 in war bond sales (equal to over $1.3 million dollars now). The paintings were reproduced as U.S. postage stamps in 1941, 1943, 1946 and 1994.

The four paintings are among Rockwell’s best-known works and by some accounts have became the most widely distributed paintings of his career. Reproductions were often placed in post offices, schools, RR stations, and various other locations.

The paintings reside in a separate exhibit room of the Norman Rockwell Museum as part of the museum's permanent collection. They are one of the most popular exhibits. 

However, critical review of the freedom images, like much of Rockwell's work, has not all been favorable. While Rockwell is recognized one of the most widely recognized popular commercial artists and illustrators, he is not always regarded as a fine artist by some critics.

According to online sources, many critics have objected to Rockwell's nostalgic and sentimental approach to his subject matter claiming it was more calendar art vs. true "art." 

Rockwell considered himself as first and foremost a commercial illustrator and reportedly even hesitated on referring to his work as "fine art."

During our visit, it appeared that many people appreciated and enjoyed Rockwell's work regardless of how it was described. While some later works dealt with social issues of the times, many of his earlier pieces simply depict people's everyday lives and "tell" stories. And, that was also true in the Four Freedoms works, which may be a factor in their long lasting popularity.
Critics views aside, Rockwell's images remain popular as evidenced by the number of people seen as we also toured the museum. Most would stop to read explanations, then step back to look at the piece again. Many would engage in conversation as well.

Let all Freedoms prevail worldwide — especially today.

Monday, June 29, 2015

You can't get anything at Alice's Restaurant !!!!

Now I'm sure many of you have heard of the famous "Thanksgiving Day Massacree" that occurred just outside of Stockbridge, MA around 1965 and was chronicled by Arlo Guthrie in the song Alice's Restaurant. For those of you who may have still been in a haze around then, Arlo is the son of Woody Guthrie.

So, to give you a little background here is the opening to the song:
This song is called Alice's Restaurant, and it's about Alice, and the restaurant, but Alice's Restaurant is not the name of the restaurant,that's just the name of the song, and that's why I called the song Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant. Walk right in it's around the back. Just a half a mile from the railroad track. You can get anything you want at Alice's Restaurant
Now as the song says, the restaurant isn't named Alice's. In fact, it is named "Teresa's Stockbridge Cafe." And yes, it is around the back, just a half mile from the railroad tracks, just off Main St. in Stockbridge MA. 

Having heard this song many times over the years, and being in the area of Stockbridge, we had to search it out.

There was just one small problem with this. After walking round the back, half mile from the railroad tracks, we came to find out that the cafe was closed. We couldn't get anything at Alice's. BUT since we had grown up with this great story, we decided that the pilgrimage here was worth it.

But wait folks, that's not the end of the original story, or our story.
Now it all started two Thanksgivings ago, was on - two years ago on Thanksgiving, when my friend and I went up to visit Alice at the restaurant, but Alice doesn't live in the restaurant, she lives in the church nearby the restaurant, in the bell-tower, with her husband Ray and Fasha the dog. And livin' in the bell tower like that, they got a lot of room downstairs where the pews used to be in.   
 So of course we had to drive over to the church. BUT Alice and Ray and Fasha don't live there anymore. In fact, we don't really know where they live now. BUT, they sold the church to Arlo. It is now the Guthrie Center. Home to many traveling folk singers both old and young.
Now, Arlo wasn't home that day but we talked to some nice folks that let us roam around the place, except for the bell tower which we really did want to see. BUT, we were glad that we got to see where the fabled "Thanksgiving Day Massacre" had occurred. And do you know what folks????? They still celebrate Thanksgiving there in the church 50 years after the first one.

Now for those of you who may not have heard the whole, entire, and complete story of that first ever Thanksgiving Massacree, and the half ton of garbage, and the 27 8x10 color glossy photographs with arrows and circles and a paragraph on the back, then you have three choices.
 1. You can download the lyrics of Alice's Restaurant by googling it.
 2. You can hop over to iTunes or Amazon and listen to the song. All 18 minutes of it.  YES, it is 18 minutes long, which is probably why it never made it into the top 40 list.
3. OR you can go to YouTube and watch the movie version. BUT we have to warn you ahead of time..... It is one of the worst movies we have ever seen.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Cabbage-Chicken Stir Fry

This is a very easy recipe (our favorite type). after returning home from a short trip to visit friends in Canada, we found a cabbage that had been missed when we were emptying out the fridge before we left home.

And, the cabbage was still OK. A grocery store run included a rotisserie chicken for use in several meals this week. And since we had the cabbage, I trolled online sites for recipes that used both ingredients. There were a LOT.

This recipe uses chicken breasts, which are cooked. But, if you are using pre-cooked chicken (like me) skip ahead to step 5, then add the chicken after the veggies have been sauteed. As a variation, try a substitution of shrimp instead of chicken.

Cabbage-Chicken Stir Fry 
  • 3 chicken breast halves or slices from cooked rotisserie chicken
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 C green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 small thinly sliced onion
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch (I substituted arrowroot)
  • 1⁄2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1⁄4 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  • 1⁄2 C low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
Optional ingredients: mushrooms, scallions, yellow and green peppers
  1. Cut chicken breasts into strips.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat (350 degrees in an electric skillet).
  3. Add chicken strips and stir fry, turning constantly until done; remove from pan. (If using already-cooked chicken add later after cabbage is cooked)
  4. Add onion and pepper and sauté until soft; remove from pan.
  5. Add cabbage and sauté until cabbage is crisp-tender.
  6. Mix cornstarch and seasonings; add chicken broth and soy sauce, mix until smooth. Stir sauce into chicken/cabbage mixture.
  7. Cook until sauce has thickened and chicken is coated, about 1 minute. 
Serve over rice of your choice, we skipped the rice and added crunchy noodles instead.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Extreme Sports Anyone?

"Thanks Life" was (part of) a Facebook message posted by Gabriel Hubert, a BASE jumper in the above video. The post stated (expletives deleted): "Sun is shining . . . going wingsuiting . . . Thanks life."

For those unfamiliar with the term (like myself), BASE stands for building, antenna, span, and earth (cliff). BASE jumpers are experienced skydivers who parachute or wingsuit fly from a fixed structure or cliff.

Perhaps because it's there ?

Jumpers wear a specialized nylon outfit called a wingsuit that has fabric stitched between the arms and legs. It increases a jumper's surface area to allow flying at horizontal distances at a slower descent rate. Wingsuit fliers wear parachute equipment specially designed for skydiving or BASE-jumping.

Because of their appearance, wingsuits are called flying squirrel or birdman suits. Costs range from $1,000 to $2,000 (USD). Commercial wingsuits were developed in the 1990s although parachutists had experimented with wings as early as the 1930s. 

The sport is not without its dangers even for experienced sports enthusiasts. Hubert was an avid BASE jumper nicknamed "Ramrod." 

He became the 11th person to die in this extreme sport so far this year. 

The Facebook post was done before his second and last wingsuit jump two weeks ago. He was jumping near Canmore, Alberta with others who landed safely. Hubert's parachute failed to open and he hit a group of trees. He died at the scene.

In May, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt, two experienced U.S. jumpers were killed in Yosemite National Park while wingsuit BASE jumping. Potter set a record for completing the longest BASE jump from the Eiger North Face, Switzerland by staying in a wingsuit for nearly 3 minutes. He was featured in this National Geographic wingsuit documentary ironically titled, Fly or Die. In 2009. 

Which leads me to wonder . . .
WHY do people choose to participate in such potentially deadly sports and jump off buildings and cliffs?

It's NOT for me. I even avoid roller coasters and Ferris wheels.

How about YOU —  have you ever participated in an extreme sport ?

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Day for Dads

Today, Sunday, June 21, is Father's Day. 

It's always celebrated on the third Sunday in June and this year coincides with the Summer Solstice.

To learn more about the holiday check out the History website.

Our fathers have been gone for many years, but we celebrate them on their day — and remember them always.

My dad, Anthony, is shown with myself and brother. As you can see, this photo was taken on a celebration day (1st Communion). My dad would have celebrated his birthday last week.

This collage (prepared several years ago) shows Pat's dad, Robert, with his sister and wife.
Being a father and now grandfather is an important role in Pat's now.

If you are so fortunate as to have your father, stepfather, grandfather or other significant male relative or friend in your life, call him/them today. You will all have a GREAT Day.

Saturday, June 20, 2015


Nothing new today except to say . . .
To ALL who take the time to comment on our ramblings posts. We read every one and do appreciate your feedback. (Comments are off for this post.)
The graphic was obtained online via a search for "free" images; our thanks to the artist.

Dorothy & Pat
(aka Beatrice & Grenville)

Enjoy your Weekend, Everyone

Friday, June 19, 2015

Friday Phunnies

Remember all the wonderful Snow Scenes we had from this winter?

Now you see it!!!!!!!

Now you don't!!!!!

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