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Life is like photography; we develop from the negatives…

perhaps we can not see the big picture due to over exposure from a certain experience or obstacle.

When we share the photos of our inner thoughts with the world, are they negatives or full color potentials and possibilities?

Developing a photograph begins in a dark room. A negative is taken and a process transforms the image into a colorful and recognizable photo. So, is life, in that a process must take a timely course in order to develop a positive situation. Take school or college for example; the many hours of study, enduring the class lectures and hurdling the tests lead to a rewarding finish.

Love, the process that goes from seeing each other for the first time, the first words between two souls and the days that bring them closer and closer. The first kiss, first date and the days turned into years that essentially developed into a lasting relationship. (perhaps even wedding photos)

I was preparing for this years summer vacation and came across two rolls of film that we had taken on our vacation two years ago. We never had them developed. But, the memories are alive and well. I can close my eyes and recall that vacation when we went to Padre Island and played in the surf, fed the hermit crab that had made a home under the picnic table we sat at during the day. The doves that had made a nest in a palm tree nearby and the sea gull that had flown by several times and relieved himself in flight as a bombardier would release its bombs. I still have the sand dollars we had found that summer as memorabilia.

I remember summer vacations as a child. We went to my Aunt and Uncles who owned a resort on the coast. I had my first job washing dishes in their diner making a wop ping .75 cents an hour in the early 70’s. I bought my first camera (a Polaroid) and took a lot of pictures that I still have. When I see the snap shot that takes a millisecond image, I recall a full event in a mental video that unfolds the days of that time.

Life is like an album of memories. A photograph simply reminds us of a time in our life. A picture paints a thousand words … to say the least, if memories are attached.

There is a café in town (now, allow me to remind you that our town has about 400 citizens and at least that many dogs and cats) the photos on the wall at this café are of the olden days. When the town was thriving from timber and steam boats that use to frequent the river but no longer do due to the damns and regulations that have been developed since it is ecologically unsound. The people in the pictures are no longer alive. The general store is now a cabinet shop and the mill no longer exists. Snap shots of what once was becomes memorabilia of a time long ago.

When I was driving to town this morning I saw the sun rise. I can’t recall every sunrise I have ever seen but the one this morning reminds me of so many I have been fortunate enough to have embraced. When I lived in California, (being from Texas) I was amazed every day at the beauty of the distant mountains. I would make a comment about how beautiful the mountains are and the people I worked with (who grew up there) simply would reply… “There just mountains.” They had grown up seeing them every day so to them it was no big deal, but for me they were majestic. The same is with the story of the man with the bag (a bag of happiness) you don’t really appreciate what you have till it is gone.

I don’t dig up pictures of those mountains but when I see a sun rise like the one that adorned the sky this morning, I recall the sun coming over the mountains when I lived in Arvin, California. It reminds me of the song… ‘Till I gain control again’

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(one of my all time favorite songs)

“Till I gain control again”

Just like the sun over the mountain top you know I’ll always come again
You know I love to spend my morning time like sunlight dancing on your skin…..

link to a youtube version of this song with mountain pictures (beautiful)

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In the story of  ‘Balls of clay’  ‘ we are inspired to take the time to open others up and find a gem in them. Each of us are an album of memories. Each of us have stories to tell that no one else has. We are all as unique as a photograph waiting to tell a story of a time long ago. Life is an album of memories.

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Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving” Albert Einstein.

~today is a day for making memories~ picture it!!!

(~_~)

The Christmas Present

One of my favorite quotes is…

Yesterday is History, Tomorrow’s a mystery, today is a gift, that is why it is called the present. In Zen, ( teaching that contemplation of one’s essential nature to the exclusion of all else is the only way of achieving pure enlightenment ) living in the here and now, for you are a result of your past, your enviorment and all that you have obtained and gone through with a positive outlook that tomorrow will only get better as you get wiser in your journey through life. I wish for all, peace with-in, this is not always easy.

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This morning, the strong winds had knocked the power out. My little sunshine came knocking on the door at 5 am, she was frightened because it was dark and she could not see. This is the base of a lot of fears, we can not see the future and fear what is ahead. We are all in the dark as to what will be. So we must close our eyes and open our hearts and minds then go into the future with nothing more than the knowledge we have obtained. Little sunshine held tightly to my shirt as we walked down the hall in the pitch black darkness to the desk where I fumbled to find the flashlights. Once the flash lights were turned on she was fine.

I walked out side and the silent night was bright. No moon to light the way but brilliant sparkling stars, the trees danced in the wind and the river laughed in the darkness. “Nature is not afraid of the dark,” I told her as she asked what was I doing outside in the dark. She stepped outside with me and looked up. “The Stars are bright!” She said. I told her they were shining bright to help her feel safe and to help her see. That nature will always be there even if the electricity is not. (grin) I reminded her that one hundred years ago and back in the days of baby Jesus they did not have electricity, people had learned to live in the dark. It is easy to take things for granite till we don’t have them anymore. (so what did she do? She found comfort in playing games on her I-pad till the school bus came…(grinin)) We had a special morning due to the power outage. Funny how, making memories comes from the strangest of times. In those moments there was no tomorrow, no yesterday, there was me and sunshine, brightening the darkness of the present.

(~_~) ~Art (12-20-2012)

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As I mentioned before, I will be working this Christmas day, so I am making posts/drafts for the four 12 hour days that I will be at the prison. Prison life is an alterante universe that can only be explained in a book at length. I will wake at 4 am and start the coffee and wipe my eyes with a brief read of the daily news online, post a draft, read a blog or two and out the door I will go while others are still snuggled in their beds and soon will wake to share gifts and a grand christmas meal. Once again I ask you to remember those who are patroling the streets to keep america safe, those who are abroad to ensure our freedom and those who will be wprking behind bars to ensure that hardened criminals are locked up tight.

What present can I give you? None that match the present you already have… the present, and the gift of life.

Merry Christmas to all and may there be peace on earth.

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Life is not about finding ourselves, life is about creating ourselves

life is not a destination, it is a journey

may there be… peace of mind, peace in your heart and peace on earth

“Merry Christmas”

peace out

(~_~)

 

Halloween 2012

This is my lil sunshine, painting a pumpkin for halloween. A school project. (aint she cute?) The character she is painting on the pumpkin is… Arthur! which is ironic since that is my name. (I just had to share this.) Took the picture with the touchpad I got for my birthday! Happy Halloween to all!

“Sunshine” (Emma)

“she’s a lil’ devil” (holding the pumkin she made for school.

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Turnip Anyone?

So what about the old Halloween pumpkin tradition? Again, the practice stems from the ancient Celts, who carved turnips into skeleton head figures to protect their homes from evil spirits at night. The turnip would be made into a lantern to ward off such unearthly ne’er to wells. Because turnips were less available in the New World, the practice developed into pumpkin carving on this side of the Atlantic.

Knowing just a bit about Halloween in ancient times adds richness and texture to a modern holiday that might otherwise seem a bit outlandish. Our current traditions seem a little less absurd when one realizes just how such practices emerged over thousands of years.

Everything Old is New Again

Ever wonder the origins of our modern-day Halloween? Our holiday represents a merging of ancient Celtic culture and 8th Century Catholicism. Pope Boniface IV designated the day as All Saints’ Day. The day was spent in honor of martyrs and saints of the Church. The festival, originally called “All Hallows’ Day” actually started the evening before, since back then “next day” began in the evening. Thus, October 31st was “All Hallow’s Evening”, shortened to “All Hallow’s Even”, to … you guessed it! Amazingly, many of our modern-day holiday traditions come directly from these days of ore.

The UNDEAD and Costume-Donning

In ancient Celtic times, it was believed that on one day a year, the dead revisited the Earth on a day called Samhuinn, meaning hallow tide or season or the feast of all souls. So emerged the contemporary theme of Halloween as revolving around the undead and monstrous, decomposed figures. Dressing in costumes is a tradition dating back to Celtic times, when people would dress as dead figures in order to disguise themselves from the real spirits. It was believed that, in so doing, protection would inure to the wearer of the costume. Any journey was to be completed by sundown, roughly akin to our practice of having Trick or Treaters finish their travels in early evening.

Bonfires

Bonfires also date back to the Celtic times. It was believed that by throwing a lock of one’s hair into a bonfire on Samhain would enable one to see their future spouse in the fire. In Scotland, one would throw nuts into the fire to create the vision. Today, we do not incorporate such fanciful practices into Halloween bonfires, but the bonfire remains a symbol of the autumnal season nonetheless, as does the practice of fortune-telling on Halloween. Again, that which is considered ancient is still in use today!

The bonfire tradition in Celtic culture did have a more ominous side. After the bonfire went out, ashes were swept together and placed in a huge circle. Each village family would then place a stone inside the circle and, if the stone was moved in any way the next day, death would come to someone within that family. Chilling, isn’t it? Today, our Halloween folklore incorporates tales of various untimely and dreaded ends for revelers, too.

this article found here!

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Every one is a moon and has a dark side which they never show to anybody

~Mark Twain~

(~_~)

Who was Pavlov’s Dog?

Well, it is an experiment in behavioral psychology. The idea is that if we associate one thing with another (in this case, associate a bell with food), that eventually the same things will happen when the associated thing happens as when the original impetus happens. The dogs would start salivating when they saw their food… so they would ring a bell when the food came, and eventually, the dogs would start salivating when the bell rang… even when it was not accompanied by food.
 
The same thing happens in everyday life to a certain extent. For instance, someone who hates their job will get grumpy whenever they are at work… but they could also start to associate it with other things, like the whole company, the whole city, the whole state. Eventually “I hate California” would express that person’s hatred of doing a particular thing or interacting with a particular person, because they have associated other things with whatever they detest. Whether it is worth addressing all of our associations and working through them or just moving to another state depends on the circumstances.Read more: here
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So, every time I hear a bell… I get hungry? (grinin’)
Perhaps not, but I can relate to ill feelings stemming from my past. For instance, alcohol. I don’t drink, recalling so many hang-overs and events from my past (like pancreas). Seeking more self-control in my life, offering to be the designated driver and still enjoy the company of family and Friends on an outing.
 
The crutch in life. I have seen (at work) where many come in with a broken leg or had been shot and years later, even though they don’t need it, they still have a cane or walking stick.
 
So, where are you going with all this Art?
 
One of the things that helps me in my life; is Zen. When confronted with a situation (more often strong emotions) I will place my hands together, take a deep breath, close my eyes and begin now, recalling all that I know clouds judgment (yes experience is a helpful tool) but often times it is past emotions that are triggered by certain things (like the ringing of the bell) and even though I know not what triggered this emotion, I drop it and do what I know is right and that is live in the now. Zen is a state of being, in the now, there-fore I use this to suppress anger or anxieties and open my mind before I open my eyes. Then see it for what it is, for it is what it is!
 
 
The more I think about Pavlov’s dogs, the more I realize that there have been so many triggers instilled in our lives and to untangle them will take time. Just a little tid-bit, I recall my father when I was about 9 coming home drunk and tearing the house apart. He turned the refrigerator over in the kitchen. I came downstairs to see what the loud noise was and saw this, my mother ‘crying,’ orders me to go back to bed. In seeing someone get out of control has instilled in me to be in control of one’s anger and emotions. Yes, we are a direct result of our up bringing and environment.
 
I think of my mother as an Angel, that makes me a Demi-Angel!
 
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Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who lived from 1849-1936. He founded the Institute of Experimental Medicine in 1890, where his primary interest was digestion.

Pavlov’s Dogs is the name given to Ivan Pavlov’s seminal research in the early 20th century (there was not actually one dog as a pet but many dogs used in experimentations) which established some essential principles of Classical Conditioning in the field of human psychology. Classical Conditioning concerns ‘learned’ or conditioned behaviour, (which also forms the basis of behaviour therapy).

We all have behaviours that we might seek to change. The Pavlov’s Dogs illustration helps us to understand more about why we respond sometimes irrationally to certain situations.

Pavlov’s Dogs provides a wonderful and true example for anyone seeking to explain or understand how our past experiences can prompt certain behaviours in the future, for example, phobias (irrational fears), neurosis (severe nervous or emotional responses to particular situations), and even mild feelings of concern or anxiety that virtually all of us are prone to in one way or another (eg., public speaking, fear of heights, flying, being reprimanded or tested, etc.)

The initial Pavlov’s Dogs experiment was simply to place a dog in a sound-proof, smell-proof cubicle, with no outside view – a controlled environment in other words. A sound was made when food was given to the dog, and the amount of salivation the dog produced was measured. After repeating this several times (called ‘trials’), the sound was made but no food was given. The dog still salivated.

This simple experiment established that the dog did not necessarily need the food in order to respond to food. The dog was responding to a stimulus or ‘trigger’ that produced the same response as the real thing. Pavlov could make the dog salivate whenever the sound was made.

This is expressed technically: a ‘Conditioned Stimulus’ (the sound) can produce a ‘Conditioned Response’ (the salivation), which was the same ‘Unconditioned Response’ (salivation in response to food) for the original ‘Unconditioned Stimulus’ (the food)…. read more of this article here!

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~may your day be filled with zen~

(~_~)

The Historic 36th chamber and 18 wooden warriors of Lohan Hall in a southern province, Shaolin Temple, is shrouded in some mystery, for they were destroyed in the early 1700’s. In the movie, Kung Fu, with David Carradine the last part of this test was depicted with the 500 pound urn filled with red hot coals that burn the mark of the Dragon and the Tiger into the fore-arms as the urn is moved in order to pass and graduate.

It is said that many students did not survive the hall of wooden warriors and this in turn caused a lot of students to run away. But those that did pass the test, bore the symbol on the fore-arm and became teachers themself. Below is a description of each of the 18 wooden warriors and what you had to do to pass each one.

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The Fukien or southern Siu Lam (Shaolin) temple was built on Gau Lin Shan in Fukien province near the border of Gwan Dung Province. Built in 1399 a.d. during the Ming dynasty, the temple became known as “South Siu Lam/ Shaolin” before being utterly destroyed during the Qing (1644-1911 a.d.) dynasty.

The abbot Jee Sim Sim See (Sim See means Zen master) put Hung Yan Sim See in charge of thirty six chambers. Here, Siu Lam’s (Shaolin) warrior monks and unshaven disciples learned the Siu Lam (Shaolin) martial arts in a step by step manner, not advancing until each skill had been mastered. An “unshaven disciple” was a person who stayed at the temple primarily to study the martial arts and did not take Buddhist vows and become a monk. Jee Sim is also credited with devising the “wooden dummy hall”. (Lohan Hall)

The wooden dummy hall was erected in the Lohan Tung or Buddha hall. The eighteen wooden dummies purpose was to test the kung fu skill of potential graduates. The dummies names and movements were as follows:

01 – Lohan Or Ga Yit:
When the student entered, this dummy was in a seated position holding a monk’s ornamental staff. As the student approached, the dummy swung the weapon toward the middle of the student’s body. If the student retreated, the dummy would close, swinging the weapon faster and faster until the rear wall was reached. The student in this case would have to either duck or jump over the weapon which would shatter the student’s bones if it connected. If the student avoided the blow, he was expected to kick the dummy over, defeating it. All of these dummies were activated by the pressure of the students weight on the floor. Also, defeating all the dummies was achieved similarly by knocking them over.

02 – Lohan Or Lan Tor:
The dummy is seated with its hands together as if in prayer. The student is alternately punched and kicked by this dummy. The blows must not be directly blocked because contact with the dummy would result in broken bones. The student must avoid the blows and knock the dummy over.

03 – Lohan Mook Jit Lin:
One foot of the dummy is on top of a lion with the other standing on the floor. This dummy tries to use a low sweeping kick to hit the student. Once it starts, the move is repeated, faster and faster while rushing toward the student. The correct response is to use a jumping kick to floor the dummy while avoiding the sweep at the same time.

04 – Lohan Seh Lei Fut
This dummy stands holding a staff in the right hand and holding its left hand at the breast. It uses the staff to block the student ‘s path and attacks with the free hand. The student must lock the arm and sweep the dummy to down it.

05 – Lohan Ah Lah Luet:
This dummy stands holding a begging bowl. It tires to slam the bowl on the student’s head. If the bowl land precisely, the student will be unable to easily removie it. Avoiding the initial attack is the most essential element in defeating the dummy.

06 – Lohan Seui Pou Tai:
This dummy stands holding prayer beads. When approached, the dummy tries to hit the student in the abdomen. Suddenly, the beads are swung towards the student’s head. The second blow was designed to catch the student unaware as he was trying to stop the first blow.

07 – Lohan Fu Lao La:
The dummy stands with a wine cup in its left hand. The dummy strikes with one hand using drunken style and then throws the cup at the student. The student must avoid these movements and immediately counter.

08 – Lohan Ga Jim Ting:
As it is approached, the dummy stands erect. If the student comes close, the dummy uses a low kick against the student. The dummy must be kicked down before it can continue its attack which becomes faster & faster.

09 – Lohan Fuk Law Lei:
The dummy stands in a bow and arrow stance facing the student. When the student comes into range, the dummy attacks with repeated thrust punches to the body. The student must sidestep to kick the dummy over.

10 – Lohan Dat Mo:
The dummy is seated sideways holding a book. If the student tries to pass, the dummy throws a sidekick as the student goes by. If he can avoid the kick, the student must fell the dummy from behind.

11 – Lohan Chung Haw:
The dummy stands holding a head sized temple bell. As the student approaches, the bell is thrown. The student must avoid the bell.

12 – Lohan Jang Chan
The dummy sits facing the student holding a book next to a pile of stones. The student is shot with projectiles that shoot out of the head of the dummy. The difficulty is in trying to close in on the dummy while it shoots these projectiles.

13 – Lohan Dou Shuen:
The dummy is holding a staff, but is making awkward, stupid looking movements. This is an attempt to lure the student into thinking that the dummy is not functioning properly. The student is attacked as soon as he attempts to go by. The student is expected to be able to avoid such surprise attacks.

14 – Lohan Yan Lang:
The dummy stands looking at the ground. When the student stands on the proper part of the floor, the dummy will thrust its fingers towards the student’s eyes. Students failing this test did not graduate for obvious reasons.

15 – Lohan Hung Lung Sau:
This dummy holds a shiny begging bowl. Suddenly, the student has a blinding light in his face. As soon as this happens, the dummy throws a barrage of blows. The key point is not to get blinded by the light reflected from the bowl. If the student is not blinded, the dummy may be kicked over relatively easily.

16 – Fuk Fu Lohan:
The dummy stands on one foot on the back of a tiger. In one of it’s hands is a large ring. The dummy tries to put the ring over the student’s head while kicking him from below. The student must avoid the ring in order to not get kicked in the groin.

17 – Lohan La Gum Luet:
The dummy stands holding a monk’s spade. The dummy charges while spinning the spade in a figure eight pattern. The student who had stopped was considered eligible for graduation.

18 – The final step
The door to the hallway leading out of the Lohan La Gum Luet was blocked by a one hundred fifty pound urn containing hot coals with the mark of the tiger head/dragon body on the handles. The student had to hug the urn with their forearms. This branded him with the mark of a Sui Lam master. The highest experts had marks only on one arm, having used one arm to lift the urn.

Many great teachers were trained at this temple. After the end of the Ming dynasty, the Ming loyalists used this temple as the headquarters in Southern China. Eventually, the Qing Emperor Hong Hei (1662-1723 a.d.) found this out and ordered two generals Chan Man Yiu and Jeung Gim chao to take three thousand soldiers and rout the temple. General Chan Man Yiu knew well the reputation of the Siu Lam people had earned for their martial arts.

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The Temple was burned to the ground, every monk; except five were killed. These five survivors seperated and each kept the Art alive. They were Wu Dak Dai, Choy Dak Jung, Lei Sik Hoi, Fong Dai Hung, and Ma Chiu Hing.

Many movies have been made where the wooden warriors theme was dipicted, such as “The 36th Chamber,” “Kung Fu,”  and lots more in the Asian film industry.

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source:  Kung Fu Fever, Shaolin 18 wooden men                                             Header Picture: Gaiaonline.com                                                                               Lower Pic; Shaolin Warriors                                                                                           Two wooden warriors with Shaolin monk; KingFilms.TV  

  Tiger and Dragon picture        Shaolin with sword                                              Monk meditates on one leg                                                                           

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~Life is a training ground for the tests that will come~

(~_~)

Happy 4th of July (Independence Day) to all.  While today, most will be celebrating the holiday with food, festivities and fire crackers, I found a little short story to remind us all of the brave ones that gave us our Independence. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did, and hope that everyone has a safe and enjoyable holiday.

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Legends and Short Stories to Share on Independence Day – 4th of July

A Gunpowder Story

By John Esten Cooke
(Adapted)

In the autumn of 1777, the English decided to attack Fort Henry, at Wheeling, in northwestern Virginia. This was an important border fort named in honor of Patrick Henry, and around which had grown up a small village of about twenty-five log houses.

A band of Indians, under the leadership of one Simon Girty, was supplied by the English with muskets and ammunition, and sent against the fort. This Girty was a white man, who, when a boy, had been captured by Indians, and brought up by them. He had joined their tribes and was a ferocious and bloodthirsty leader of savage bands.

When the settlers at Wheeling heard that Simon Girty and his Indians were advancing on the town, they left their homes and hastened into the fort. Scarcely had they done so when the savages made their appearance.

The defenders of the fort knew that a desperate fight must now take place, and there seemed little probability that they would be able to hold out against their assailants. They had only forty two fighting men, including old men and boys, while the Indian force numbered about five hundred.

What was worse they had but a small amount of gunpowder. A keg containing the main supply had been left by accident in one of the village houses. This misfortune, as you will soon see, brought about the brave action of a young girl.

After several encounters with the savages, which took place in the village, the defenders withdrew to the fort. Then a number of Indians advanced with loud yells, firing as they came. The fire was returned by the defenders, each of whom had picked out his man and taken deadly aim. Most of the attacking party were killed, and the whole body of Indians fell back into the near-by woods, and there awaited a more favorable opportunity to renew hostilities.

The men in the fort now discovered, to their great dismay, that their gunpowder was nearly gone. What was to be done? Unless they could get another supply, they would not be able to hold the fort, and they and their women and children would either be massacred or carried into captivity.

Colonel Shepherd, who was in command, explained to the settlers exactly how matters stood. He also told them of the forgotten keg of powder which was in a house standing about sixty yards from the gate of the fort.

It was plain to all that if any man should attempt to procure the keg, he would almost surely be shot by the lurking Indians. In spite of this, three or four young men volunteered to go on the dangerous mission.

Colonel Shepherd replied that he could not spare three or four strong men, as there were already too few for the defense. Only one man should make the attempt and they might decide who was to go. This caused a dispute.

Just then a young girl stepped forward and said that SHE was ready to go. Her name was Elizabeth Zane, and she had just returned from a boarding school in Philadelphia. This made her brave offer all the more remarkable, since she had not been bred up to the fearless life of the border.

At first the men would not hear of her running such a risk. She was told that it meant certain death. But she urged that they could not spare a man from the defense, and that the loss of one girl would not be an important matter. So after some discussion the settlers agreed that she should go for the powder.

The house, as has already been stated, stood about sixty yards from the fort, and Elizabeth hoped to run thither and bring back the powder in a few minutes. The gate was opened, and she passed through, running like a deer.

A few straggling Indians were dodging about the log houses of the town – they saw the fleeing girl, but for some reason they did not fire upon her. They may have supposed that she was returning to her home to rescue her clothes. Possibly they thought it a waste of good ammunition to fire at a woman, when they were so sure of taking the fort before long. So they looked on quietly while, with flying skirts, Elizabeth ran across the open, and entered the house.

She found the keg of powder, which was not large. She lifted it with both arms, and, holding the precious burden close to her breast, she darted out of the house and ran in the direction of the fort.

When the Indians saw what she was carrying they uttered fierce yells and fired. The bullets fell like hail about her, but not one so much as touched her garments. With the keg hugged to her bosom, she ran on, and reached the fort in safety. The gate closed upon her just as the bullets of the Indians buried themselves in its thick panels.

The rescued gunpowder enabled the little garrison to hold out until help arrived from the other settlements near Wheeling. And Girty, seeing that there were no further hopes of taking Fort Henry, withdrew his band.

Thus, a weak but brave girl was the means of saving strong men with their wives and children. It was a heroic act, and Americans should never forget to honor the name of Elizabeth Zane.

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may your day be filled with joy

(~_~)

 

Memorial Day 2012

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 Looks Can Be Deceiving 

John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn’t, the girl with the rose.

His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes pencilled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind. In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner’s name, Miss Hollis Maynell.

With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing him and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II. During the next year and one month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn’t matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting – 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. “You’ll recognize me,” she wrote, “by the red rose I’ll be wearing on my lapel.” So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he’d never seen.

I’ll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened: A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose. As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. “Going my way, sailor?” she murmured.

 Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl. A woman well past 40, she had greying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankle feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away.

I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible; her grey eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her. This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. “I’m Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?”

The woman’s face broadened into a tolerant smile. “I don’t know what this is about, son,” she answered, “but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!” It’s not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell’s wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive.

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There is a web site… letters to soldiers where you can become a penpal to a lonely soldier. I for one am going to do my part, and wrote my first letter. Any one who knows me, knows I always wear a hat. My hat’s off to the men and women in our armed forces for the entire day of Memorial Day!

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Memorial Day is a day for us to remember our soldiers, the fallen, in-service, our veterans and not to be excluded; the families that live every day with not knowing rather they will ever see their loved ones again and those who live with the loss of a family member/soldier. War effects everyone, a necessity to keep our country safe and to liberate others from tyranny with the ultimate sacrifice, our soldiers.

Here are two YOUTUBE videos that are touching to say the least, dedicated to our soldiers and families. The first one got to me, (I don’t much care for ‘Rap’ music but this one was done nicely. I was watching these videos to make a post for today and some one may say, “That is too depressing,” (I hear this all the time) But what is depressing is to be over seas, in battle, far from home and not hear from anyone. Take a few minutes this day to honor those who have died (and those still serving) so that we can live the life we live, with freedom.

When You Come Home Dedicated to our soldiers

Comin’ Home an awesome song

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(~_~)

 
This story is few centuries old when wooden blocks were used to preserve the holy words.
 
Tetsugen was a Great devotee of Zen in Japan and although he has left the body he is still very much alive in many hearts. During his time Sutras (Holy scripts) were available in Chinese language only.
Zen had started in china and from there it flourished more in Japan and now it is reaching to people all over the world. Tetsugen decided to print these Sutras (Holy scripts) in wooden blocks. It was a big project as 7000 wooden blocks were required.
 
Tetsugen himself did not have the money so he started traveling around the country and collecting the funds. Few people gave money lavishly but mostly people were miser in their donation but Tetsugen thanked each person from his heart full of gratitude. After 10 years Tetsugen had enough money to start publishing the Sutras.
 
Incidentally at the same time the river overflowed and many families were in distress. Tetsugen took the money he had collected for the project and used it to help the starving families.
 
Then again Tetsugen started collecting the money to raise the funds for the books. It took him several more years to collect the required fund. Incidentally this time an epidemic followed in the country. The generous Tetsugen again distributed the money he had collected to help the starving people.
 
Now for a third time Tetsugen again started collecting money. Finally after twenty years, his wish was fulfilled. He managed to print the Sutras in to wooden block.
 
The wooden blocks which were produced by Tetsugen are available at the Obaku monastery in Kyoto. The Japanese people tell their children that Tetsugen had made three sets of sutras and first two invisible sets of sutras surpass even the last.
 
Source: This story originally published in the book “Zen Flesh, Zen Bones”
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(~_~)

 

The Buddhist nun known as Ryonen was born in 1797. She was a grandaughter of the famous Japanese warrior Shingen. Her poetical genius and alluring beauty were such that at seventeen she was serving the empress as one of the ladies of the court. Even at such a youthful age fame awaited her.

The beloved empress died suddenly and Ryonen’s hopeful dreams vanished. She became acutely aware of the impermanency of life in this world. It was then that she desired to study Zen.

Her relatives disagreed, however, and practically forced her into marriage. With a promise that she might become a nun after she had borne three children, Ryonen assented. Before she was twenty-five she had accomplished this condition. Then her husband and relatives could no longer dissuade her from her desire. She shaved her head, took the name of Ryonen, which means to realize clearly, and started on her pilgrimage.

She came to the city of Edo and asked Tetsugya to accept her as a disciple. At one glance the master rejected her because she was too beautiful.

Ryonen went to another master, Hakuo. Hakuo refused her for the same reason, saying that her beauty would only make trouble.

Ryonen obtained a hot iron and placed it against her face. In a few moments her beauty had vanished forever.

Hakuo then accepted her as a disciple.

Commemorating this occasion, Ryonen wrote a poem on the back of a little mirror:

In the service of my Empress I burned incense to perfume my exquisite clothes,
Now as a homeless mendicant I burn my face to enter a Zen temple.

When Ryonen was about to pass from this world, she wrote another poem:

Sixty-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.
 
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beauty is only skin deep but a beautiful soul can radiate like that of a full moon.
 
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You never know what you have, nor appreciate it till it is gone, for example… toilet paper!
 
 
appreciation is not limited to mankind
 
 
may you take a moment for self awareness today
 
 

In 206 B.C., Cao Cao (155-220), a great statesman, artist of war and man of letters, led his army to attack the city of Huguan. As the city was strategically located and very difficult to access, Cao’s army could not take it in spite of great efforts. Cao got extremely outraged and said, “Once I get into the city, I will have all those in it buried alive.”

Soon his words were spread throughout the city. As the defenders in the city feared that it would really happen to them, they waged a desperate resistance. As a result, Cao’s army found it even harder to win the battle. They made months of attempts to get in but in vain. Cao became more uneasy and consulted with his generals for a scheme.

At a meeting, General Cao Ren rose from his seat and said, “The art of war tells us that we should not put the enemy in too tight a ring, that the enemy should be left a way to survive. But now we have been trapping our enemy in a deadly corner. What’s more, you have declared to have them all buried alive. This will only make them battle desperately against us, for they would rather fight to death than be buried alive. As I estimate, the enemy has almost run out of supplies. If we now give them a ray of hope by leaving an open in the ring, they are very likely to surrender to us, for they would rather survive than fight to death for nothing.”

Cao Cao thought the idea quite sensible and ordered to do as the general said. As had been expected, the defending troops in the city soon crossed over to Cao’s side. The city was finally seized without a cruel fight.

Written by Ye Qinfa

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Zhao Xixu. He was well respected and held in awe by the people of other countries as well as his own. One day, the king asked his ministers “I hear every state in the north is afraid of our minister Zhao Xixu, is that so?” At the question, almost all the ministers kept silent except one called Jiangyi, who liked to curry the king’s favor very much. He lost no time to seize the opportunity and said, “Your Majesty, you know, it’s you who people awe and respect, not him! Have you ever heard the story The Fox Borrows the Tiger’s Terror?” Well, here is the story.

 

One day a tiger was hunting around in a forest. An unlucky fox was met and caught by the tiger. For the fox, the inescapable fate was very clear — death. Despite the danger, the fox thought hard to find a way out. Promptly, the fox declared to the tiger, “How dare you kill me!” On hearing the words the tiger was surprised and asked for the reason” The fox raised his voice a bit higher and declared arrogantly: “To tell you the truth, it’s I who was accredited by God to the forest as the king of all the animals! If you kill me, that will be against the God’s will, you know?” Seeing that the tiger became suspicions, the fox added: “Let’s have a test. Let’s go through the forest. Follow me and you will see HOW THE ANIMALS ARE FRIGHTENED OF ME.”

The tiger agreed. So the fox walked ahead of the tiger proudly through the forest. As you can imagine, the animals, seeing the tiger behind, were all terribly frightened and ran away. Then the fox said proudly: “There is no doubt that what I said is true, isn’t it?” The tiger had nothing to say but to acknowledge the result. So the tiger nodded and said: “You are right. You are the king.”

When Minister Jiangyi finished the story above, he added to the king: “It seems as if the northern neighbors were afraid of Minister Zhao xixu. In fact, they are afraid of Your Majesty just as the animals were afraid of the tiger not of the fox.” The king was very pleased at Minister Jiangyi’s words. And never doubted its truth.

The idiom is often used to analogize with those who take advantage of one’s or somebody else’s power to bully people.
 
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~Honor above all things~

 
(when I believe in something… I fight like hell for it!)
Steve McQueen
 
may your day be filled with strength
 

Art~

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