Thursday, November 28, 2013

To whom do we give thanks?

Thanksgiving is such a wonderful holiday, what with all the fellowship and good eating.  Naturally then, one would think we should be thanking the people who were responsible for the idea of Thanksgiving and later establishing it as a holiday.

The Pilgrims are credited with the concept of Thanksgiving, as they gave thanks for the bountiful harvest which they yielded after enduring the early hardships here in the New World.  However, many have felt that the first Thanksgiving feasts were likely to have been celebrated shortly after the harvest, as opposed to the well recognized holiday of late November.  Equally, there wasn't a nationally celebrated day of Thanksgiving, but perhaps multiple days throughout the year for which the citizens were asked to give thanks for what had been given to them.

In 1863, President Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving as a national holiday, to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November;  no doubt he had more pressing concerns on his mind, but in his words: “commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife” and to “heal the wounds of the nation.”

However, the concept of a national day of thanksgiving was first proposed by Sarah Josepha Hale of Newport, NH who petitioned 5 presidents before Mr. Lincoln signed the proclamation declaring Thanksgiving a national holiday.

So, here we are celebrating Thanksgiving in large part because of the aspirations of a group of pioneers who left the shores of Europe for a better life, but above all, to the perseverance of one Sarah Josepha Hale whose commitment to making this the holiday that it has become.  Thank you for reminding us that it is always a good idea to give thanks, something that hopefully will never be lost in this world full of distractions.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The "Chasmo" Effect

Through the years, trend changes have been referred to by the term "effects" which, because of their influence, cause some measure of change to take place.  Certainly, positive effects generally translate into beneficial responses, and conversely, negative effects typically produce responses that few would like to repeat.  Well, in the case of one welcomed addition to the morning group, we got to experience the "Chasmo Effect".

Some people believe Saturdays are made for sleeping in and getting up for a relaxing cup o' joe, but for others, Saturdays are  meant for running first and then enjoying the cup of coffee.  This week was different though.  With the annual Thanksgiving Day Turkey Trots coming, that means it's time to train with Chasmo.

Unlike the majority of individuals, training takes on a slightly different meaning for the Chasmo.  In other words, getting overly excited about the race preparation may not be all it's cracked up to be, an occasional run, walk combo, quite conceivably, is all that is needed to ready oneself for race day.  And if you are training with someone who runs a bit slower than your usual pace, well, that sure is the "positive effect" that more hard core athletes find refreshing some days.

However, as we age, the objective necessarily has to change, regardless of our personal hopes to delay the inevitable physical challenges we face.  So, perhaps the real story behind the "Chasmo Effect" is just getting out there.  If it takes you longer than you'd expect, then you get the opportunity to spend that much more time with good friends, and isn't that the real objective anyway?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

May I have your address, please?

Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address on this date in 1863 which marked the dedication of a portion of the historic battlefield as a national cemetery honoring the more than 50,000 men whose lives were lost there.  "Four score and seven years ago our fathers..." is perhaps one of the most readily recognizable opening lines to a speech in American history, and in its 272 words, it is arguably one of the most powerful messages ever delivered by an American president, especially given the gravity of the circumstances.

LISTEN: For Its 150th, A Reading Of The Gettysburg Address

Certainly, few could have said it more eloquently; thank you Mr. Lincoln for your words of such profound wisdom, even to this day!

Friday, November 15, 2013

She's Here

The circle of life has been used to describe the progression of life through the generations, therefore, there is no beginning and no end, just a continuum.  Well, the stork has just made another revolution with the arrival of Evangeline Rita in the desert of Arizona.

May your life be as rich and full of joy as your namesake, Rita Marie, who would have cradled you in her arms, if she was with us today.  You are a gift from heaven and know you are loved!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Lunge" Lizards

The slang term "lounge lizard" typically depicts a well-dressed man who frequents establishments in which the rich gather with the intention of meeting wealthy woman and wooing them with deception and charm.  Clearly, there doesn't appear to be anything too flattering about this title, now does there?  However, if one was motivated enough to participate in something, shall we say, more healthy, then you might want to consider yourself a "lunge lizard", and that may not be all bad.

After years of regular cross training exercise, I finally came to the harsh realization that aerobic exercise, by itself, wasn't going to be comprehensive enough to carry me through the second half of life.  Therefore, it was time to "pump it up" with the addition of a weekly weight training program, so with some encouragement from previous converts, I took the "lift" of faith and joined them.

Admittedly, lifting a few weights could add some tone to an aging physique, but this is a behavior that needs cultivating.  Regulars at our morning gathering warned that, although the activity may not seem challenging, aches and pains are guaranteed.  Not exactly an activity you'd want to commit to with overwhelming enthusiasm.  However, if any of us are going to endure the second half of life with some modicum of physical well being, then weight training, most assuredly, will have to be part of the exercise routine, and the converts will support this position.

Well, after participating in this weekly ritual for more than 2 years now, I can honestly say that the aching isn't as bad after the workouts any longer.  Fortunately, the benefits have "strengthened" my commitment to a more balanced and healthy lifestyle, and there are a few other "lunge lizards" out there who have taken the "leap of weight" too!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Peace and Thank You

Many people had the day off today to celebrate Veterans Day, so I'd like to thank all the veterans who have made the sacrifice to defend and preserve our freedoms as Americans.  We live in a great country, and hopefully, the freedom that we so treasure will allow "US" to help those here and around the world who are less fortunate.  Thank you!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Expressions for life and we loved her expressions

Have you ever noticed how some individuals develop a personal style when it comes to expressing themselves?  It may involve greetings, goodbyes, or simply may be part of an ordinary conversation, but these expressions can be rather colorful.  In fact, I personally enjoy listening to the English because of their unique way of describing some things. It's quite refreshing to hear, and certainly exploits a very descriptive language.  Over the years, my mother enchanted us with her charming way of expressing her sentiments, so permit me to share just a few of those with you.

The Royal Wave
When I'd arrive home after a day of work my mother would greet me with, "Hello, my darling dear.";  When asked if she wanted a cup of tea, she'd say, "I'd love a cup of tea.";  How she'd have described a good weather day, "It was glorious or marvelous.";  If you were having a bad day or were faced with a challenge, she'd say, "We'll say a prayer."; If something tasted particularly good, "It was delicioso.";  After saying good night, I'd say I'll see you in the morning, and her response was, "God willing";  When she was asked how she was feeling, she'd say, "Surviving"; and if you greeted her with a nice big smile, "You have such beautiful teeth".

Expressions such as these were common place for my mother and have left us with a trail of memories that remind us of the person she was.  After entering a room full of people, she'd break the ice with her signature tag line, "Is everybody happy?"  Unfortunately, the answer these days isn't what she'd generally have had in mind, but it does bring a joyful tear to those of us who knew and loved her.  Mom, may God watch over you and keep you well!

Monday, November 4, 2013

The World Series that Almost Was

Life is made up of a series of opportunities, both missed or taken, and of course, it typically requires just the right timing to take advantage of those chances.  In the words of Louis Pasteur, "chance favors the prepared mind".  However, nothing is guaranteed in life, except of course, death and taxes.  But if you believe in divine providence, then most of life's occurrences events are, shall we say, predetermined.  It is for this reason that this is the World Series that almost was for at least one long time Red Sox fan.

My father loved baseball, initially playing it as young man and then watching his beloved White Sox, but later adopting the Boston Red Sox as his team.  When the Red Sox won the Series in 1918, my father wasn't even born.  However, he got to witness the 1946 Series with the great Ted Williams, the "Impossible Dream" team of 1967, the heart break teams of '75 and '86, the breakthrough championship in '04, and the repeat in 2007.  Although he had traded in his allegiance to the White Sox, he even got to celebrate their World Series win in 2006.  I'd have to say, at least his teams would occasionally indulge him with their post season appearances in the October classic.

But like any self respecting Red Sox fan, there was always next year, and after the collapse of 2011 and the last place 2012 team,  the 2013 team was most assuredly going to be different.  After all, how could it get worse?  So, when spring training hit, with the pitchers and catchers reporting, my father was preparing himself too; he was practicing for the season to come and a chance to watch exciting baseball again.

As the snow began to melt and the Sun warmed the Northern hemisphere, the long winter with the blizzard was soon to become a distant memory.   Baseball was back for another season in Boston with the hope that the off season changes would make the difference between success and disappointment. The Sox had a terrific April to start their season, winning 18 games, and with that, they were off.  This rekindled the fan's enthusiasm for a team that had lost its "mojo".

Amongst all the excitement for a team on the mend, were the tragedies of Marathon Monday.  Those events galvanized a city, and reminded us that there is far more to life than baseball; and although my father loved baseball, he was moved to tears after those events unfolded, recognizing its senselessness.

As the season unfolded, the fans rallied behind its team and supported the victims of that horrific day.
My father just loved well played baseball, and he was watching the emergence of a team who simply liked to play this grand old game.  One night in June, my father watched as Big Papi hit a walk off home run, but what I really remember was the youthful excitement he displayed cheering on a team that, for over 65 years, had captured his loyalty.

Not even a month later, however, that youthful spirit came to an end, and those games became but a distant concern.  My father passed away peacefully knowing the Red Sox wouldn't disappoint, not this year anyway.  This story book season ended the way only a team of destiny would have it end, with a victory at home in front of the Fenway faithful, 95 years after their last World Series clinching game at home.

Yes, the story on the 2013 Red Sox is complete, and the ending was one for the ages.  However, there will always be next year.  For my father on the other hand, his season ended a bit prematurely, and consequently, there was no World Series for him.  The Red Sox embodied team work, perseverance and showed emotion, both on and off the field.  It's the stuff legends are made of, and having had a box seat to witness the actions of a legend, I can assure you that he would have been proud of this bearded bunch.  I am sure he would have described this as "heavenly"!