Around the corner from the World Trade Center site, smack dab in the middle of all the construction is the fire station that houses the 911 memorial. If you didn’t know it was there, you might walk right by it with all the construction hub bub, but if you visit that area, make sure you stop by there. It’s a beautiful memorial.
And the firefighters leave the door up to talk to folks passing by.
They’ll even let you stick your head in the door. Be sure to say hello. And thank you.
I was reading this morning about an effort by an atheist group to remove a steel cross from the 911 memorial under construction at Ground Zero. The cross is a piece of mangled steel pulled from the 911 wreckage. We saw it in New York City this spring before it was moved to the museum site this week.
To the atheist group all I can say is, “Have you been to Ground Zero?” Seriously, I’m with the memorial committee on this one. Their response to the group’s lawsuit yesterday was this: “It’s a symbol of spiritual comfort for the thousands of recovery workers who toiled at Ground Zero.” And I agree. The cross is one of the many tangible articles people latched onto for comfort during those early days after the 911 attacks. If you visit the site, you’ll see that.
When we toured that area this spring, we had a guide, and I highly recommend that. It was a far more meaningful experience than it would have been if we had simply pulled up in a bus, hopped off for a look see and a few pictures and headed off to Times Square. Our guide was a lifelong New Yorker who used to work in that part of the city.
He lost friends in the attacks, including Father Mychel Judge, the firefighters’ chaplain whose death is documented in one of the iconic images of the attacks. This guide was a fantastic gentleman who only recently had the emotional strength to return to work in that area. He gave us a very personal account of the event and its aftermath, and I’m so glad our kids, who were only eight and nine years old at the time of the attacks, got to hear his stories.
We started our tour at St. Paul’s Chapel, a fascinating centuries old church that has stood undamaged through historical fires that wiped out everything else in that area and was literally untouched by the fall of the Twin Towers. It feels like a very sacred place, from the very old cemetery out back:
To the items inside that are left over from those days after the attacks when emergency workers were housed, fed and cared for in that small church:
There are prayer cards of folks lost in the rubble, and they were a very vivid reminder to me of those days right after the towers fell when people stood in the street with pictures of their loved ones, desperately looking for family and friends.
We also spent time around the corner at St. Peter’s Church where firefighters laid Father Judge’s body on the altar after they pulled him from the rubble. And of course, we watched the rebuilding that is taking place down there.
Everywhere you look at Ground Zero; there are clues as to how strongly people clung to faith to get through that horrible event. Whether you believe in God or not, you simply can’t deny that it played a role in recovery. To the American Atheists I say quit trying to rewrite history. Like it or not, some of us are God fans, and you can’t change that.
I was reading the new movie section of the Pioneer Woman’s website the other day, and from a marketing aspect I find that a bit of an odd addition to her site. But she didn’t ask my opinion before she did that, now did she? Imagine that. Anyway, I did find it interesting to read her post about movies that always make her drop what she’s doing and watch them. It made me stop and think about the movies that grab my attention each and every time they float across my television, and even though my movie viewing time could probably fit into a thimble these days, there are some flicks for which I will let dinner burn. Or stay up way past my regular bedtime. Or eat into my valiant efforts at keeping up with the laundry. I thought it would be fun to share them. It was either that or rant about the sorry state of the U.S. government right now, and I figure we all have enough rant in our lives, so movies it is!
In reviewing this list, I realized two things: First, they’re all total chick flicks. Secondly, with maybe one or two exceptions, Hubby could probably predict every one of these. Of course, I could list his too, but all I’d have to do is write down everything starring John Wayne, putting the ones with Maureen O’Hara at the top. I have many favorite movies, many of them shot before 1970, but these are the ones I can never pass up. Here we go folks. Feel free to share yours. I’m starting at the bottom and working my way up.
8. Forrest Gump-I just love this movie. I love how Forrest never gives up on his love for Jenny and how he finally gets his girl. The screenplay is just fantastic, and who can’t recite at least ten lines from this movie? Also, I want to live in that big white Alabama house with the wraparound porch. Minus the humidity. I always tear up when Jenny dies, and I actually drop the tears in the exact same place every time, “I miss you, Jenny”. Me and Forrest Gump? We go together like peas and carrots.
7. Gone With the Wind-I guess because I was raised on this movie. Mama was a fan, and I remember going to the movie to see it in the 70’s when it was trotted out to theaters again, and there was a fifteen minute intermission between two hour sets. As an adult, the racial stereotypes make me cringe, and I know that it contains a lot of historical inaccuracies, but gosh darn it, I still love that movie. Scarlett O’Hara was a headstrong and independent businesswoman before it was cool, and I always wanted a prom dress like that red velvet number Rhett makes her wear to Ashley’s birthday party. Truth be told, I’d put on that dress today if I had a place to wear it.
6. To Catch a Thief-Two words: Cary Grant. I still think he’s the epitome of sexy. He was funny, handsome and sharply dressed. The only person who comes close to that these days is George Clooney, and he’s no Carey Grant. I’ll watch anything with Carey Grant. I’m a big Grace Kelly fan, too.
5. Rear Window-I love, love, love Jimmy Stewart and I always wanted to be Grace Kelly. Cool, sophisticated and stylish, she was the glamour queen I wanted to be. That black and white number with the wide brimmed hat she wears in that movie? Fantastic. And the sexy chit chat between her and Jimmy is just great. I’m a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan, so I get excited any time one of his movies is on, especially this one.
4. The Rocky Horror Picture Show-Don’t laugh. It is a part of my past, and I guess it will be in my heart forever. It’s campy and goofy and really just a bad movie, but I was in college when this was big, and I used to attend showings of it in full costume. My very gay friend, G., made the perfect Frankenfurter, my buddy V. was Columbia, and I played Magenta. Keep in mind I had a long curly perm back then. We trotted around to different theaters, throwing toilet paper, dancing the Time Warp and having an all around good time. In fact, one time we ended up in the middle of a riot. Remind me to tell you about that some day. G. has been dead for many years now, a victim of AIDS, and watching this movie brings back great memories of those good times. I know the soundtrack by heart and play it often in the car. Call this one guilty pleasure #67, but I think it’s more about the memories than the movie.
3. Bridges of Madison County-I don’t know why, but I am a sucker for this movie every time. I think it’s because it explores that issue of women losing themselves in their families and what happens in their heart when they give up their dreams to nurture their kids and husbands. Whether they admit it or not, I think all women struggle with this (the dreams part, not the adultery) at least a little, and this movie presents it in a very down to earth way. Never mind that I adore Meryl Streep. This one makes me cry, too when she sees Clint Eastwood in town and watches him drive away. Sniff. I get misty just thinking about it.
2. Fried Green Tomatoes-What is not to love about this movie? I’m a sucker with a flick about strong southern woman, and this could probably tie for the #1 slot on this list. I will watch it EVERY single time it comes on. Fannie Flagg is one of my favorite authors, and while this isn’t my favorite book of hers, it IS one of the movies I can’t resist. The casting is wonderful, and I adore Jessica Tandy. I cry when Buddy gets hit by the train, I cringe when Ruth gets knocked down the steps, I cheer when Idgie is acquitted and I cry when Ruth dies. And I’m not even worried about spoiling it for you because I know you’ve seen it, too.
1. Steel Magnolias-No surprise here. Again, chick flick about strong southern women. I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen it, but it’s got to be dozens. Hubby likes it too, although he has to leave the room when Shelby dies. I think that’s because he doesn’t want me to see him tear up. I, however, just roll right with it and have a big old sob fest every time. As Truvy says, laughter through tears is my favorite emotion, and this one makes me laugh and cry, laugh and cry. One day, when Teen Angel is raised and things have slowed down, I’m going to return to community theater, and I’d love to be in a production of this. I want to play Truvey. I’d better hurry though or else I’m gonna be so old I’ll have to play Ouser.
PS-I just realized I forgot to add Driving Miss Daisy to this list. Sister mercy, is every movie I watch about people dying in the south?
Weekend before last we went to Fort Campbell, Kentucky (Home of the Screamin' Eagles, those brave soldiers who rule the skies in Afghanistan) for Teen Angel's first roller derby bout. I'm proud to say that while they didn't win, they did put up a good fight. And I managed to watch the whole bout with at least one eye open. However, I'm still not over my fear of broken ankles or busted teeth. Forgive me, but it's gonna take this mama a little while to work through that. It's just painful to watch the child that you pushed through your womb and protected for eighteen years go sprawling across the floor every few minutes. I should be comfortable with all of this by about October. At the end of the season.
Oh, and if you're in need of a few giggles, Google the official registry of roller derby names from the teams around the country. They're a hoot.
Whew. That’s what I said yesterday when I finally had a chance to relax and catch up from the craziness of the last couple of weeks. For the first time in a week I cooked dinner, caught up on laundry and sat down to read a book. You could probably hear the sigh all the way to Milwaukee. Hello, Milwaukee? Can you verify that? Or are all you Wisconsin folks hibernating inside to avoid the heat, too? It has been hotter than Guam here, and I had to chuckle when I read the news stories the other day about record heat in Central Park. Ooh, news flash, now that it’s reached the Big Apple, the nation is officially hot. Some two weeks after the entire Midwest melted and oozed down the humid Mississippi River. Too funny. It’s been so hot here that I’m having trouble figuring out what to pack for our trip. The temperatures in London and Paris have been in the upper 60’s and low 70’s lately, and I’ve seriously forgotten what 70 degrees feels like. Do I need shorts or cotton pants? I don’t know since even the slightest amount of clothing on your skin feels like too much around these parts. All I can say is thank goodness I’m not pregnant or I’d be roasting in my sandals. Sister mercy, the hot flashes are bad enough this time of year.
Anyway, I suspect the next week will fly as we get ready for vacation and I play catch up on all the things I’ve gotten behind on recently. That’s a good thing and a bad thing. Bad because I feel like I have sixteen things to do between now and our trip “across the pond” and good because that just means it will get here quickly, and I’m so excited my toes tingle. Or maybe that’s just because I sat on them for a couple of hours today while writing stuff for work. You know, once you hit middle age, you’re never sure if a tingle is a byproduct of excitement or another body part trying to go south. Speaking of south, if my fanny sags any lower I’m going to have to fly to Birmingham to pick it up. But that’s another post. In light of the need to “catch up” I’m resorting to the dreaded bullet points to share all of the things floating around in my noggin today. Forgive me for phoning it in, but it is what it is. And that’s all that it is. Really. I got nothin’ else today. Whew.
-I bought a duel voltage blow dryer for the trip, but after hearing 1,672 horror stories about melted outlets I’m scared to plug it into a socket in Europe. Therefore, I will likely have wet hair for ten days. Can you say braid?
-Am I the only one who has a fear of booking stuff on the internet and then having those reservations become lost in the system somehow, no matter how many times you double check them? Is that referred to as OCD?
-I bought two new pair of walking shoes for the trip and am trying to break them in. They came from the “comfort aisle” at the shoe store, and I can’t believe I’ve gravitated into that realm. Next thing ya’ know I’ll be sporting Birkenstocks. Somebody stop me. Please. Stop me. Immediately.
-While making our itinerary for this trip I decided that you could literally spend weeks touring chapels in Europe. I thought we had a church on every corner in the south but we got nuthin’ on Europe.
-Amy Winehouse’s death makes me sad. Not because I’m a huge fan, although I do like her music. But because it’s likely one more person lost to addiction, and those of you who have fought that battle with a loved one and lost know how painful that is. I just hate the way addiction destroys lives and causes so many people so much pain.
-The tragedy in Norway? Crazy. Have we always had this much crazy in the world?
-I’ve been a horrible blogging buddy lately. I can’t seem to find the time to read and comment on the blogs I normally track. So sorry, folks. It’s either skip the blog reading or feed the family and well, those crazy folks want food every day. What’s up with that? Anyway, I hope to be back to visiting your blogs very soon.
-After taking two weeks off of running because of the heat and frankly, a lack of motivation, I got back on the wagon today. I also went back to some weight training. Boy, did those weights get heavier since the last time I picked them up. And my feet? Not really happy with the decision. My love/hate relationship with regular exercise is more on the hate side right now. I’d kind of like to break up with the treadmill, but then I’d have to break up with mistress cake and well, that’s just not gonna happen.
-And on a positive note, Hubby has poker night tonight, which means I’m in control of the TV remote. And let the people say amen.
People kept asking me Monday what kind of special thing I was going to do for my birthday. And I kept joking that I was going to bible school. Between work and bible school there was no time for official celebrations. For the last few years, Hubby and I have gone to the Jimmy Buffett concert for my birthday, but that just didn’t work out this year. At the very least we usually go out to dinner, but that didn’t happen either. We’ve just been extremely busy every night for the past week. We’ll probably go out this Saturday night. The funny thing is that even though Monday seemed like a very routine day, it was a very good birthday because of the little things that happened all day long.
As I drove to work early this morning I was thinking about the way Monday came down and I suddenly felt very blessed. I got to go to a good job. Mid morning Monday my parents stopped by to see me. At lunch time my brother and nephew stopped by and visited with me for a little while. In the afternoon, Teen Angel came by with very meaningful gifts and a box full of warm scones. A very sweet card from Hubby with some vacation spending money was waiting for me at home. Dozens of friends wished me well on Facebook, sprinkling messages on my Facebook wall throughout the day. A friend handed me a home burned CD that night of a Lucinda Williams album she had bought and knew I would love. Cards came with warm wishes from friends. And I got to witness the smiles and laughter of lots of children throughout the evening. Lots of sweet simple pleasures filled my day. All day long I had little reminders of the beautiful connections I have with the people in my life, and I went to bed feeling very satisfied with the day. It felt like a celebration, even if there was no dinner or dancing or bottles of wine.
So this morning, I smiled to myself as I pondered all of this during my commute, listening to the CD from my friend and witnessing the rising sun. I cranked up the stereo, sang with Lucinda and congratulated myself on a very happy birthday. I am blessed, folks. Truly blessed. And I don’t need a party to prove it.
-Today is my birthday, and I’m celebrating every night this week with about forty people. That’s forty little Methodists. It’s vacation bible school week.
-The sixth hour of decorating for bible school last night felt like mile ten of that half marathon. Fortunately, I made it to mile thirteen, but sister mercy, this year was more exhausting than usual. Is there such a thing as a training schedule for bible school?
-Our theme for bible school is Kickin’ It Old School, featuring 80’s rock and roll, and I will be manning the audio visuals. I may finally realize my long time dream of playing Bruce Springsteen’s This Little Light of Mine video really loud in church. Sigh. Scratch one off the bucket list. Now if I could just get them to put cup holders in the back of the pews in the sanctuary.
-I love that even though I’m forty se…well, forty something, my mama still bakes me a pink birthday cake. The twelve year old in me would be disappointed without that pink cake.
-I love Facebook birthday wishes. Say what you will about Facebook but having birthday wishes posted on your wall throughout the day is just fun, fun, fun. And I’m all about the fun, fun, fun.
-I made it through Teen Angel’s first roller derby bout this weekend without having a heart attack. I’m sorry, but the mother in me just hates to see her baby get banged around, even though said baby likes it. Make no mistake, it is a full contact sport, and I just keep envisioning cracked ankles and broken teeth. I did a fair amount of cringing, but I muddled through and cheered. She managed to escape injury, too, so that part of it was fun. For me.
-Speaking of cheering, I’m just gonna go ahead and say this, catty though it may be. Those young cheerleaders they had at this bout in Clarksville, Tennessee? Lame-oh. I told Teen Angel that I might be forty se….I mean forty something, but I could out pom pom those young whippersnappers any day. Not that I SHOULD be out there on that skating floor, but if you need someone to shake some pom poms I’m your woman. The funny thing about it was that Teen Angel agreed with me. She witnesses my dancing skills all the time.
-Giddy moment of the weekend….I ordered our Paris Museum passes. Pinch me. Again. Please. Are you tired of hearing me say that yet?
- Teen Angel had the bakery make me amaretto scones for my birthday and then delivered those hot scones to me at work this afternoon. I have the best daughter evah. I will be hard pressed to share them. The bakery doesn’t make them anymore, so it could be another year before I get them again. Oh, how I love an amaretto scone. As my friend Yvonne says, might as well rub it on my arse ‘cause that’s where it’s goin’.
-Scones, pink cake and Bruce Springsteen. Sigh. All is right with the world.
Stockpiling gluten free crackers in your desk for your 10am snack always seems like a good idea when you’re in the grocery store but don’t expect the same satisfaction you get from a salty Lays Potato Chip.
Oh, and that frozen meal you have in the freezer? The shrimp IN the box aren’t nearly as big as the ones in the picture ON the box.
I looked at the calendar Friday and said, “Self, this month is going to be over before you know it.” In fact, I suspect summer will be over before we know it. I have a week of meetings, next week is bible school at church (and my birthday) and then we have a week between the end of bible school and the start of our trip. Teen Angel starts college two days after we get home from Europe, and woops, there it is, the end of summer. Why is it summer moves so much faster than the other seasons, especially winter? Winter is at least eight months long, isn’t it? Anyway, things are rolling along, and it seems our weeks are as full as ever.
We had a great Fourth of July which translates into the fact that we had homemade ice cream and no one lost a toe, a hand or his eyebrows to the annual driveway fireworks show. We had quite the show this year, between the stuff Teen Angel bought and the trunk full of explosives our next door neighbors bought in Missouri. There were four people out there lighting the assortment of fireworks, which made for a pretty show but left our roofs covered in bits of paper. Since everybody stands out in his yard, eating and watching the lights, we’re thinking that next year we should just make it official and have a block party. I’m not bringing the subject up again anytime soon though, because I’ll just end up getting nominated to plan it, and I need at least one activity in my life where I just show up with my broccoli casserole and enjoy someone else’s organizational skills.
We had an official Independence Day party at our house this past weekend since that’s when our friends were available. That was successful, too. Meaning everyone had a good time and no one got hurt, unless you count that spectacular fall Hubby had on the wet concrete floor of the Man Cave. The only thing damaged was his pride and one really cold longneck beer. We didn’t have fireworks at that party because honestly, that group (and I’m including us in that) should not be trusted with beer AND explosives. Plus, we figured our neighbors wouldn’t appreciate back to back weekends of us scaring their dogs and keeping them up late with loud noises.
And that brings us to today, which is Holy Mackerel Next Week is Bible School and Hula’s In Charge of Decorations and Hasn’t Done Anything About it Yet Day. Y’all know how I love bible school, but it has really snuck up on me this year. Our theme is 80’s Rock N’ Roll which is just the best theme ever in my book. I get a little misty eyed just thinking about it. In fact, I’ve been looking for my old 80’s concert t-shirts to wear but haven’t found them yet. There’s my REO Journey Wagon series and the original Police Synchronicity Tour, among others. I don’t think I have the Joan Jett shirt anymore, and I can honestly say getting rid of that is probably on my list of Top 10 Regrets of my 20’s. Right beneath the curly perm/big hair bow thing. Sigh. Sometimes we just don’t realize what we have until we lose it. On a positive note I did find my college coed intramural volleyball championship shirt AND my college pom pon squad tights with the hoof prints on the butt. Score!
This Friday, I have a mini reunion of some girls I went to high school with. That should be fun since it’s the folks we all really want to spend time with and none of the people who drove us crazy in school and that we would have to smile and pretend to be nice to at a full blown reunion. That’s followed up on Saturday by Teen Angel’s first roller derby bout. She’s very excited about it. Now, I’m excited for her, but the mother in me will be watching with one eye squeezed shut, worrying that every time she bangs into someone or takes a spill that teeth will go flying out or an ankle will crack into pieces. It makes me very nervous, despite all of the protective gear. And finally, before the month ends, our Bunco group will have its annual slumber party, which usually involves desserts, adult beverages and Guitar Hero, karaoke and maybe even a little Bunco. It also means I need to start training my body now for staying up past 1am because that birthday between now and then? That’s just one big reminder of how much older I’m getting. The next few weeks will be busy, indeed. I need to plan our itinerary for Europe, order some money belts and stock up on some stuff Hubby can eat while we’re gone. Otherwise, he’ll end up malnourished from a diet of Sprite Zero and Pringle’s potato chips. And I need to think about what we’re going to do for Mama’s 70th birthday, which is just around the corner in October. Weeeee! The fun never ends around here. And did I mention I’m shooting a wedding this fall?
Last weekend there was a fire eater at the street festival they have in our downtown area each weekend. It was pretty cool. I mean, hot. I was somewhat fascinated by him and yet repulsed at the same time. I kept worrying about him setting his beard on fire.
And then I saw this and said, "Self, that is just one more reason not to pierce your tongue."
One of our favorite stops during our trip to New York City was our visit to Ellis Island. As we celebrated Independence Day this week I couldn’t help but think about that visit. And the 300 New York pictures I still have to sort and edit. But that’s a worry for another day. Anyway, it just seemed like a good opportunity to encourage you to see Ellis Island if you have never been there. I put it on my list of top ten things all Americans should see before they die, and I think it’s pretty dadgum interesting for folks who are not from the U.S., especially if they have family who immigrated here many years ago.
Hubby and I love history and all things old, so we were both really fascinated by the whole Ellis Island experience. From the ferry/train station where the tours begin:
To the island itself.
There are actually several buildings on Ellis Island, including some hospital barracks that have yet to be restored. Those are the buildings I most wanted to photograph, but I didn’t feel like getting arrested so I stuck to the program. The main building is the only one open to the public, and inside are reminders everywhere of the people who journeyed to this country to start a new life. From the trunks:
To the railroad schedules:
And the shoes of children from around the world:
There are all kinds of mementos that vividly illustrate the past purpose of that facility, and they are displayed in a way that gives you plenty of history and context about what went on there.
Right down to the dorm-like barracks where people stayed overnight.
And as you stand in the Great Hall, look down on an area once crowded with people being herded through the immigration process and read their handwritten accounts of coming to America you start to get a feel for what it must have been like to be an immigrant.
To have little more than a dream and to pack up a small amount of belongings and haul your family across the sea to a place you’ve never seen in order to start a brand new life where you don’t speak the language. To endure seasickness. To stand in line like cattle and be poked, prodded, examined and quizzed about your plans. To start with nothing in a land where you don’t speak the language and to find a job, a place to live and security. Honestly, how many of us would be that brave? As I looked out over that balcony I tried to imagine what it might be like to be about eight months pregnant, trying to carry a heavy trunk and hang onto a child’s hand while waiting for hours to see if you and your husband would be admitted into the country or sent back home. It’s difficult to imagine what some folks endured to come here.
And as you read the statistics and realize how all of us, except for those with Native American heritage, hail from immigrants, you start to consider your opinions on immigration and seriously think about how we often view people who clamor to be a part of the U.S. today. We are a nation built on immigrants and yet we are very eager to slam the door in the face of those who seek what generations before us received. Visiting Ellis Island takes what can be a very black and white issue for many of us and smudges it into a very hazy gray. It makes you think, and it makes you appreciate what you have. We are blessed to live in a wonderful country, and we should be very grateful for those who had the courage and vision to bring us here. Ellis Island does a great job of teaching us that, so I encourage you to go. Go and spend plenty of time there. Don’t rush. Read the material next to the exhibits. Examine the photographs and absorb the history. Oh, and the ferry ride ain’t bad either.