Monday, August 29, 2016

Haunting news photo

This photo of an injured child from a bombing in a Middle Eastern city has been haunting me.  It is not quite as painful as the famous Viet Nam war photo of the naked little girl who had been burned with napalm -- but is there any comparison when children are badly hurt by war?  Surely it must make readers of the NYTimes stop and think about the victims of this horror about which we read nearly every day.  Here is a small child -- looking utterly numb, time has stopped for him, he may not know how he got to sit on the orange chair. We cannot imagine either.  He was doing something normal, probably with a trusted adult when there was a noise ... a noise that stopped time and then.... we don't know.  We hope he will forget ... probably he will forget but his life has been changed forever.  Possibly his mind has been changed forever.

We sitting in our comfortable chairs reading the newspaper or looking at the computer cannot imagine what has happened to him... we don't want to. He is half the world away ... but we see children his size, his age around us and we cannot begin to imagine what it would be like if a bomb went off just then ... This happens too, too often in too, too many places in the world, every day.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy Birthday American National Parks

A peaceful moment inYellowstone National Park, Leslie and I--we were about to leave Yellowstone and all the magnificent bison and elk and discover the sublime Grant Tetons.

Today is the 100th aniversary of the establishment of the National Park system.  I have not seen enough national parks yet, they are wonderful places.  Yellowstone was all I expected but with fewer bears than I'd been led to beleive. The Tetons were the most perfect mountains I've ever seen and I've seen mountains on five continents, many "grander" but the Tetons reflected in the lake as we drove south from Yellowstone were stunningly beautiful.  I've seen Yosemite and Bandolier, Acadia  and a tiny bit of the Smoky Mountans - not  nearly enough. Grand Canyon is conspicuously missing so far and Glacier  and then there's Denali, a park to dream about.

Nicholas Kristof in an editorial essay in Sunday's NYTimes writes of the treatsure of the parks. He mentions that, like so many of the things people of America value, (education, arts, music..) the Parks' budget is constantly cut -- a foolish cut. When trails and roads need repair there is not enough money so they are allowed to disintegrate until repairing them may require entirely new trails which will cost far more. 

Out little writing group had chosen national parks as the theme for today's writing. Everyone had experiences with one or many parks, warm memories, and in the case of Everglades, unhappy memories.  I have found times in parks preciously refreshing whether sitting on a rail fence beside a beautiful lake, or scrambling up a trail on Acadia mountain, gazing at the truly blue haze in the Smokies. Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt, John Muir and the others who gave us these treasures.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Go see Florence Foster Jenkins !

This photo from the film Florence Foster Jenkins, is Meryl Streep murdering the Queen of the Night aria from Mozart's The Magic Flute when she sang at Ca rnegie Half.

The eponyous movie is essentially a bio-pic  about a rich New Yorker, her loving husband  (who nevertheless and for good reason, has a separate life) and a pianist who is hired to perform with her. She has a god-awful voice, is  terminally ill and is protected by her devoted husband.  So much about the movie is hilarious, so much is actually true, so much it is warm and human and touching, you can't help having a wonderful time while watching three perfectly cast actors (Streep, Hugh Grant as her husband and a pianist, unknown actor, Simon Helberb) as well as director Stephen Frear move this story which is both hilarious and touching from beginning to end.  It's a movie to  see with friends and to talk about over wine and nibbles later on. Streep's final line, "they said I couldn't sing, but they can't said I didn't sing," puts all the uptight audience, who laughed and laughed (as I did) in their place.