Let The Long Weekend Begin . . . But Keep In Mind What It Is We Are Celebrating

May 25th

As I sit here looking out at the light rain coming down, I can’t help but think about all of those campers that I passed yesterday, all headed across the canal to the mountains for a weekend of fun.  Having camped in the rain before, I’m fairly certain they aren’t going to have quite the time they were hoping for, but with a positive mind set, it is possible for them to get something good out of it anyway.  What most of us seem to forget is that this weekend isn’t about camping.  It isn’t about fun.  It isn’t about us, the living.  It is about the brave men and women who died serving our country, who gave the ultimate price to give us the freedom to go camping, the freedom to speak our minds, the freedom to live our lives the way we see fit.  This weekend is about them.  Perhaps today the sky weeps in their honor, as a reminder that this is not about us.  Please take a moment or two each day of this weekend to give honor to the fallen veterans.  That’s all they want . . . to be remembered and appreciated for their service to this country they loved so much.

International Jazz Day – Today we celebrate Jazz music and history, as well as Jazz musicians.  Jazz was born in America in the 1800’s and over the years it has become popular throughout the world.  The articles I found on the subject insisted that EVERYONE loves, or at least likes, Jazz music.  I beg to differ, as it is one of my least favorite genres of music, however apparently enough people do like it that I appear to be in the minority.  New Orleans, LA is the birthplace and home of Jazz music, and I hear you can’t fully appreciate the great style and culture of this music until you’ve seen it in an authentic setting in New Orleans.  I will admit though, that one of the funniest movies I have ever seen was Undercover Blues, which was set in New Orleans, and in one scene there was a parade with Jazz musicians dancing and playing as they went down the street.  If THAT is the type of Jazz we are talking about, then perhaps I can concede I like it.  The Jazz ensembles in clubs . . . I’ll pass, but I’m sure there are plenty who won’t agree with me. 

National Missing Children Day – When my children were growing up there were people who criticized my methods sometimes.  You see, I raised my children to trust NOBODY except people I told them to trust.  They were never to speak to strangers, EVER, unless asked my permission first, and I was right there with them.  This included sweet looking little grannies.  You just never know who the bad guys are, and my children were not going to be victims of an abduction if there was anything I could do about it.  My son, who was a little on the strong willed side – oh, who am I kidding? The child had the strongest will of any child I’d ever encountered.  I put one of those harnesses on him when we were in public and kept my end of it firmly wrapped around my wrist.  People looked at me like I was cruel and horrible, treating my child like a dog.  No. I was treating my child like I loved him and didn’t want him to disappear.  That, and even at two years old he was FAST and I struggled to keep up with him when he had it in his mind to run.  Today though, is a day to focus on missing children.  There are a lot of reasons why a child goes missing, and none of them are good.  No matter the precautions a parent takes, child abductions can happen to any child, in any family.  Nobody is immune to child predators.  The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that more than 50,000 children are victims of non-family abductions annually.  There are things you can do.  Review and enforce child protection and safety awareness regularly with your children.  Always be aware of what is going on around you, who is nearby.  Establish neighborhood watch groups, or at the very least be aware of who the children are in your neighborhood and who their families are.  Report anything suspicious immediately.  Create and maintain records of your children, keeping up to date photos, get one of those home fingerprinting kits and take their prints to have on file.  In my mind, one of the best ways to protect your kids is to, obviously, don’t let them be alone!  Parents who let little kids wander all over without supervision are almost begging a child predator to take their child.  There’s safety in numbers – that has always been true, and always will be.  Teach your children an healthy distrust of strangers.  This is such a DUH thing to say that I can’t imagine why parents would let their kids just go up to anyone and strike up conversation. EVERYONE has the potential to be a bad guy, no matter how “nice” they might look.  I remember once, my daughter was about 5 and cute as a button.  People always stopped to tell me how beautiful she was and want to touch her hair, or talk to her.  I had taught her to scream STRANGER at the top of her lungs, kick, fight, squirm and make as big a fuss as she could if someone ever grabbed her.  We were at the mall, her father was meeting us there, and he spotted us ahead of him, ran up to us from behind, and grabbed her up in his arms, prepared to swing her up in the air and surprise her.  He was the one who ended up surprised.  The moment his hands touched her she went bonkers.  I’ve never heard quite such a sound come out of a small person before.  Her arms and legs became windmills, she was wiggling, kicking, squirming and oh my goodness, the noise!  STRANGER HELP ME STRANGER STRANGER as loud as she could.  He dropped her faster than he picked her up, as security guards appeared from all areas of the mall.  At this point I was nearly on the floor laughing my head off, tears streaming down my face, as I took in the expression on his face and realized what had happened and that she wasn’t in any real danger.  Not only did my child listen, she took my instructions to heart and obviously thought about it enough at the young age of five to instinctively react in exactly the right way.  Do I regret telling my children to distrust strangers?  Not for a single, solitary second.  And I’d do it the exactly the same way all over again.

 

National Tap Dance Day – This day was created to honor the birthday of legendary tap dancer Bill “Bojangles” Robinson, born May 25, 1878.  He was a Broadway legend who started his career as a vaudeville performer, transitioning to Broadway and to Hollywood films in the 1930s and 1940s.  He was a favorite of both black and which audiences because of his delicate tap-dance style and his cheerful demeanor.  His career began actually as a young child of five years old, when he began dancing in local beer gardens.  When he was nine he joined Mayme Remington’s touring troupe, and in 1891 he joined a traveling company, performing as a vaudeville act.  He achieved great success as a nightclub and musical-comedy performer.  At this stage of his career he performed almost exclusively in black theaters for black audiences.  Robinson took a break from performing to serve as a rifleman in World War I.  He fought in the trenches, but also was a drum major who led the regimental band up Fifth Avenue upon the regiment’s return from Europe.  After the war, in 1928, he starred on Broadway in the highly successful Blackbirds of 1928, featuring his famous “stair dance”.  This is the time period where he became known as “Bojangles”, which to white audiences meant cheerful and happy-go-lucky, though the meaning of the nickname in the black community was opposite.  He pioneered a new form of tap, shifting from a flat-footed style to a light, swinging style that focused on elegant footwork.  He starred in 14 Hollywood motion pictures, played multiple roles with Shirley Temple and many others.  In spite of his fame though, he was unable to transcend the narrow range of stereotypical roles written for black actors at the time.  Because he accepted these roles, he was able to maintain steady employment and stay in the public eye.  In 1939, at the age of 61, he formed in “The Hot Mikado”, a jazz-inspired interpretation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s operetta.  He celebrated his 61st birthday by dancing down 61 blocks of Broadway.  How cool!   This day was declared National Tap Dance Day by US Joint Resolution by President George Bush on November 7, 1989.  (by the way – I miss George)  I just spent the last 1/2 hr looking for a link showing Bill “Bojangles” Robinson’s talent that wasn’t grainy, or difficult to hear, and ran across this clip with Shirley Temple.  So light on his feet it nearly defied imagination – makes me feel like an absolute clod!  Enjoy this little step back in time and the incredible talent of this wonderful dancer.


Nerd Pride Day or Geek Pride Day – How many of us were geeks or nerds in school?  None of us liked to admit it, but probably more of us were than not.  I know I was!  Give me a book to read, and I was happy.  I could – and still can, much to my family’s frustration, close out the entire world when I am engrossed in either reading or writing.  Nothing penetrates the world of words I’ve wrapped around myself.  Sports were my mortal enemy, and I was the kid who was always picked last for teams – because I was HORRIBLE at sports.  When a ball came my way, I closed my eyes and ducked.  I was the quintessential outcast in the gym.  And I was OK with that.  I didn’t like playing sports anyway.  So today, dig in that bottom drawer, take out your geek flag, and fly it high. So, why is today the day of geeks and nerds, and the people that who love them?  Well, May 25, 1977 is the anniversary of the release of “Star Wars”.  May 25, 2001 was the day the first Towel Day was celebration 2 weeks after the death of Douglas Adams, author of “The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” (I don’t get it either – I never read the book – but apparently it’s a big day for other geeks).  I’m sure there are other reasons, but suffice it to say that today is the day to let your inner geek shine through.  Perhaps celebrate it by watching all of the Revenge of the Nerds movies, seeing geeks and nerds shine through as the heroes in the end.  I think all of us have a bit of nerd in us – we just don’t usually admit it.

Julia Pierpont DayJulia Augusta Robertson Pierpont (1828-1886) of Fairmont, WV is credited with being an originator of this nation’s Decoration Day, which was renamed Memorial Day in 1882.  In May of 1866, following the end of the war and while living in the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, Julia and a Miss Woolsey – decided to decorate the graves of the Union soldiers buried in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond, VA.  The graves were dismal and neglected.  Julia, Miss Woolsey and a number of the children Miss Woolsey taught, relatives and fellow teachers, bravely “paraded” to the cemetery to decorate the graves.  Some approved of the gestures, some condemned it, but news spread of the event.  A few weeks later a similar Decoration Day was done in Richmond, and thousands came from all over the state to decorate the Confederate graves.  Throughout the nation the news spread and more events followed.  What Julia and the others had done inspired others.  There are records of other Decoration Days before and after that one in Richmond, but many historians feel that Julia Pierpont was in great part responsible for the creation of an annual Decoration Day ordered for May 30th.  In 1987 a project by WVU’S Public History Program, with financial assistance from the Humanities Foundation of WV, and supported by the WVU Center for Women’s Studies, WV Women’s Commission and the WV Historic Preservation Unit established Julia Pierpont as the originator of our annual celebration of Memorial Day.

 

 

Food Celebration of the Day

 

National Wine Day – I never used to appreciate wine.  To me it all tasted a little bitter or sour.  I was drinking the wrong wines!  Hubby and I, when we have a spare day and want to go do something fun, will head out to explore and sometimes find ourselves at a wine tasting for a  local vineyard.  The beauty and subtle flavors of different wines are a delight to discover and can certainly enhance any meal when paired properly.  And while any of us can uncork a bottle and enjoy a glass, or two, or three, with dinner, why not add a splash to your meal?  De-glaze a pan with wine, instead of water or broth, and you can change the flavor of your meal for the better, and enjoy a gourmet delight with such a simple change.  Here are a few recipes from www.food.com for you to try! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it’s been a busy Saturday for celebrations!  The most important thing to remember is to celebrate family.  Appreciate each other and the time you spend together, for each day is a blessing and each moment should be lived to the fullest.  God Bless You.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

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