Wednesday, May 27, 2015

My Dad at the Senior Talent Show

You know those years of your parents attending your programs, sports games, recitals, etc.? And then they attend all the grandchildren events? Well, today we had a chance to have a reversal of roles as we attended the First Annual Windsor Senior Talent Show. Windsor is where my Dad plays cards every week and when he heard about the talent show he told us he was going to enter. We assumed he was going to play the piano but he told us he wanted to tell jokes. This was something he had never done before, but he had dropped hints for a few years that he was thinking of doing it sometime.

Well, today we saw his debut act.

 The competition was stiff from hula dancers to the Charleston and other great acts.

The contestants

Dad getting his certificate

I'm hoping this takes. It is a video of my Dad telling his jokes. For those who are prone to sea sickness, be forewarned. It is wobbly at parts, but you can close your eyes and listen to his delivery if you like. We are very proud of him!
The white haired woman next to Dad sang, "When I Grow too Old to Dream"--I wasn't the only one in tears!
Well, my Dad is still fulfilling his dreams and living life to the fullest!


Thursday, May 21, 2015

Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch, Hartford, CT

Today we took advantage of a free tour of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford, CT. We had been by this many times, but never really looked at it this closely.

This was the first permanent triumphal arch in America. Designed by architect, George W. Keller,  it was dedicated on September 17, 1886 on the anniversary of the Battle of Antietam. It is interesting to note that Mr. Keller had a fear of cemeteries and asked that he and his wife's ashes be interred in the monument, and such is the case.

This memorial is a tribute to the 4,000 Hartford citizens who served in the Civil War. 400 of them died fighting for the Union. A bronze plaque (I guess I didn't get a picture of it) was added in 1987 after Airron Bethea, a 7th grade student, researching for an essay, drew it to the city's attention that 128 African Americans served in the war from Hartford.

The brownstone building with Gothic design was made with brownstone from Portland, CT. The two towers are joined by a frieze. The North frieze is the war side with scenes of General Grant and his troops and also marines getting ready to attack.

The South frieze is the peace side. The woman in the middle represents the city of Hartford. On each side are citizens welcoming soldiers home.

It amazes me the detail and to think it can barely be seen from the street.
There are four symbols representing the Navy, Artillery, Calvary and Infantry around the towers.

Figures eight feet tall are around the monument and are meant to represent the type of people who gave up their livelihoods and left their families to join the war. They are a farmer, blacksmith, mason, student carpenter and an African American breaking chains of bondage.

On the top of each tower is an angel--the angels of peace. One is Raphael holding cymbals and the other is Gabriel playing a trumpet. These were originally terracotta, but were replaced with bronze ones in 1987.

The memorial is 116 feet tall and yes, we did hike the 96 steps up the spiral staircase. If you don't want to count, every tenth step is a wide one, so you can count by tens to know how much farther it is, since the stairway is dark and winding. Huffing and puffing aside, the view from the top was worth it. For those who are not comfortable with heights, like me, it is very sturdy and safe in the top of the arch. It is open but the sides are high enough to feel secure. The view of the Capitol is awesome. 

A group of students waiting to come up for a tour.

The inside of the top of the tower.

The stairway on the way down.

The tour guides were very informative. George did gently correct a couple of Civil War facts. The arch is open every Thursday for the summer 12-1:30 pm. We highly recommend taking advantage of this special opportunity. We won't look at it the same any more or take for granted its beauty.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Message in a puddle

I love being aware of my surroundings and was delighted to walk out my front driveway to see this heart right next to my car. How could one not smile being greeted like that?
The debate is whether or not it was divinely created or a mere coincidence. Someone said it was a message from my mother looking down on me. I love that thought, however, I don't know if I believe that loved ones look down on us from heaven. It's nice to think of that sometimes but creepy to think about them watching every move. Does God filter what they see? Also, if I were in heaven, I believe it would make me so sad to see our loved ones on earth in pain. It wouldn't be "heaven" watching those suffering on earth unless God shared his divine vision to know the outcome and to know that all things work together for good.
Also of note, is the fact that this appeared the day after one of the sad anniversaries that I remember with my Mom. She was taken to the hospital on May 18, 2013 and spent her final month of earthly life there. I saw this May 19, 2015. If I saw it on the 18th, I may have really thought it was a personal sign from her. Though, my son did find a heart rock in our yard, no less, on the day of her memorial service and he believes it was from her. And it is another blog post that describes the hunt for a necklace in her memory--I was looking for a bird and almost gave up searching when I found a heart that says "Mom".
While typing this, I am telling myself I am a fool for not believing the puddle was from her. Or...are all these signs from God saying, "it's okay." It was a trick question when I asked if this puddle was divinely created or a mere coincidence because I love the thought that coincidences are God winks.  I believe he created all the earth, I'm sure he created this heart shaped puddle and he knew I would find it. It was a mere few hours later that it disappeared. It could have been possible that I never saw it if I didn't have something to put in the mailbox that morning.
Maybe God and Mom cooked it up together. Now that's a happy thought. Or maybe I have a super guardian angel who brings me to these things and I will be glad to meet him/her one day to thank them.
Then there are those who think according to the Bible, that the dead are sleeping until Jesus's return. These are deep thoughts and I don't think it matters whether we think they are resting peacefully until the day we are reunited or if they are lovingly looking down on us. I still "talk" to my Mom, especially at the cemetery. Maybe it's like talking to a person in a coma. It surely can't hurt and of course, it's cathartic for me.
Those who think the heart puddle was an accident, you can believe what you want. I am not saying it's necessarily a sign, liking seeing Jesus in your toast, but since God is the creator of all, I believe he created it--there in my driveway for me to see. Maybe he's reminding me that he loves me. It is sometimes hard to imagine a divine ruler of all the earth, all living things big and small, loving little old me. And if he loves me, he loves you too. He also knew I would take a picture of this and share it online. He knows me so well and because of that, I would say, this heart is for you too.
"We love because he first loved us." I John 4:19.
"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning, great is your faithfulness." Lamentations 3:22-23.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

79th Annual Winsted Rotary Pet Parade 2015

The 79th Annual Winsted Rotary Pet Parade had nods to Minions and Duck Dynasty amongst other themes. Besides many dogs there were chickens, horses, other animals and even frogs. Several bands entertained. The fun part about this parade is the great creativity that shines throughout it.
We were a little disappointed as it seemed much shorter than we remembered, but still they get an A+ for inventiveness and fun.
It was a perfect day for it. I'll let the pictures do the talking.