Archive for April, 2010

Earth Day – Then and Now

We have been cleaning out our basement, not a fun thing. Especially when one of you is a hoarder (that would be me) and the other is – what’s the opposite of hoarder – a declutterer? (that would be my husband.) I am proud of myself, however, I am managing to send many of my “precious” items to the give away, sell or trash piles. My “keep” pile is much smaller.

Among the many items I have uncovered/discovered in the basement, were my high school scrapbooks  (My collecting habits run deep.) I grew up in California and graduated from San Gabriel Mission High School in 1972 (a Catholic School. Read “About Me”) . I appropriately refer to these materials as “vintage-collectibles.”

Anyway, in my scrapbook from my sophomore year (yes, there is one – or more – for each year including one for my first year of college. Step 1: I admit I have a problem!), I found my page for Earth Day 1970! Proof…I was on the cutting edge of environmental awareness. I celebrated the very first Earth Day 40 years ago. My notes say that we prepared these beautiful (now environmentally wasteful) “tallies” to hand out to everyone:

We also handed out “Stop Smog” bumper stickers

and brochures from “The People’s Lobby” with this marvelous Henry Gibson (z’l) quote on the cover:

In addition, we sang, “This Land is Your Land” at a school assembly at which I note, “I was a Pollution” (I have absolutely no clue, nor any memory, of what that means.) I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley. I distinctly remember never being able to see the San Gabriel Mountains during my youthful summers as smog would block the view. Today, thankfully, that has changed, but perhaps my “role” was a tribute to that then menacing presence.

Earth Day has changed as well, what started as a simple grass roots call for individuals to “put your money where your lungs are,” has turned into a global cry to “Save Our Planet!” On that day 40 years ago, a group of Mission High School students planted some small trees across the street on what was then the school’s track. I recently saw a picture of those trees – they are huge! It reminded me, in a very real way, of the story of Honi and the Carob trees. It also reminded me that while so much has changed in me and around me over these past 40 years – FORTY YEARS! – the core values I learned growing up have evolved, but not changed so very much. Looking back, I have so very much to be thankful for. I hope my children feel the same 40 years from now.

Happy reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were provided by the publishers cited.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

Zachor/Remembrance: Remembering the Past Gives Power to the Present

April is a month filled with remembering. We entered it having just finished two Passover Seders recalling, perhaps in vivid detail, the Jewish people’s Exodus from Egypt and their transition from slavery to freedom.  On April 12, Yom HaShoah–Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remembered the loss of 6 million Jewish lives in World War II during memorial services around the world.

This weekend, we will be remembering the soldiers and civilians who have died in the struggle for Israel’s independence on April 18, Yom HaZikaron–Israeli Fallen Soldiers and Victims of Terrorism Remembrance Day. Israel’s Memorial Day is followed closely by Yom Ha’atzmaut-Israel’s Independence Day on April 20, when we remember – and celebrate – the date, now 62 years ago, when Israel became an independent nation.

Why so much remembering, you might ask? The first time we see and read the word Zachor in Torah is in the story of Noah:

“God then remembered Noah and all the beasts that were with him in the ark, so God caused a wind to sweep over the earth, and the waters subsided. “ (Genesis 8:1) In Torah, when God remembers, God also acts. God goes on to create a reminder – a memorial if you will – the rainbow: “And when I cause clouds to form over the earth, and the bow appears in the cloud, I will remember My covenant between Me and you and all living things, all flesh, and never again shall waters become a flood, to destroy all flesh.” (Genesis 9:14-15)

When we remember – The Exodus story, the Holocaust, fallen soldiers, victims of terror or Israel’s independence – what should our action be?  Is it enough simply to attend a Seder, a memorial service, a celebration or is more expected of us? In God’s case, there was more. God created the rainbow as a sign, a reminder to God not to flood the earth again, a memorial to those who perished in the floodwaters. If God requires actions, reminders and memorials, don’t we as well?

When a loved one dies, how should we remember that individual who once had a significant impact on our lives?  When something wonderful and significant happens in our life, how do we remember what took place?

There are some wonderful books that teach us how to move through life’s ups and downs and find creative ways to help our children remember the significant moments of life whether it is the death of someone important to them or a major milestone. These are a few of my favorite titles:

The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco.  © 1988,  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. Ages 5-9. Winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award for Young Readers.  A babushka and a dress are the only items that come from Russia with Anna. When she outgrows both, her mother uses the cloth to make a quilt. The quilt is used as a Shabbat tablecloth, a picnic blanket where Anna got engaged,  the chuppa for Anna’s wedding and a baby blanket for her children. The quilt followed the family and was present at all the births, weddings and even at Anna’s death. The quilt is now waiting for the arrival of the author’s grandchildren, Anna’s great-great grandchildren.  A beautiful story about memories and memorials as carried forward in a family quilt.

The Memory String by Eve Bunting. Illustrated by Ted Rand. © 2000,  Clarion Books.  Ages 4-8.  Laura’s mother has passed down her memory string filled with buttons from the coats and dresses of generations of relatives in the family. Laura’s most special button is the little white one that was on her mother’s nightgown when she died three years ago. Her father has remarried and although Jane is nice enough, she isn’t Laura’s mother. To make sure she knows that, Laura pulls out her memory string a lot in front of Jane. When Laura’s cat breaks the memory string causing buttons to fly everywhere, everyone helps in the search, but one button remains lost. When Laura overhears Jane explaining to her father why that button is so important, she begins to think accepting Jane into her life may be a good idea after all.

The Milestones Project: Celebrating Childhood Around the World. Photography by Dr. Richard Steckel and Michele Steckel.  © 2004 Tricycle Press. All ages. Do you remember losing your first tooth? Getting your first haircut? What about your first pet? These are just a few of the milestones described in this wonderful book. In the words of kids themselves and from some of today’s most well known authors – Eric Carle, Cynthia Rylant and J.K. Rowling to name a very few – we read about the memories of major milestones and remember our own.

Monumental Verses by J. Patrick Lewis. © 2005 National Geographic Society. Ages 5-10. While I literally see God’s work in nature and all its grandeur, I find the creations of humankind to be amazing works of profound genius. More often than not, these buildings, statues and monuments created for some purpose, live on well past their intended function. They become icons, landmarks, historical treasures. Monuments to another time, we visit, stand in awe and take our pictures. Or maybe we write poems like these. Gorgeous photographs and beautiful poetry take you on an around the world trip to view some of the world’s most incredible sites with an entirely new perspective.

Talking Walls by Margy Burn Knight. Illustrated by Anne Sibley O’Brien.  © 1992, Tilbury House, Publishers. Ages 5-10. One of my favorite books describing a few places on earth where humankind has lived, worked, prayed or suffered and left messages for generations to come. The effect is that no matter the time or our gender, faith, language or culture, people the world over create monuments to remember the important events in their lives. What is happening right now, in your life that you want to remember?

When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death By Laurene Krasny Brown. Illustrated by Marc Brown. © 1996, Little, Brown and Company. Ages 4-8. In simple, yet direct language this book helps explain to young children what it means to be alive and what it means to be dead,  how we may feel after someone we know dies, what various faiths and backgrounds do when saying goodbye and how different traditions talk about the afterlife. The most important section of the book, however, is “Ways to Remember Someone,” as it provides a number of excellent ideas for young people to memorialize the person they have lost and find ways to move on.

These books will give you some ideas for creating those actions, reminders and memorials to remember important people or significant events in your family’s life and enable you to find ways to share stories and feelings about what those people and times meant to you as you look back over time.

Happy Reading,

Kathy B.


©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
Books used in this review were from my personal collection or my local library.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

א וַיִּזְכֹּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶת-נֹחַ, וְאֵת כָּל-הַחַיָּה וְאֶת-כָּל-הַבְּהֵמָה, אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בַּתֵּבָה; וַיַּעֲבֵר אֱלֹהִים רוּחַ עַל-הָאָרֶץ, וַיָּשֹׁכּוּ הַמָּיִם. 1 And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that were with him in the ark; and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged;

Memories light the corners of my mind

Tomorrow, my husband and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. It really does seem like yesterday that the two of us were starting out together to make a life for ourselves. We have raised two incredible kids, moved up the coast and across the country, traveled the world, survived health crises, faced economic downturns, celebrated innumerable happy occasions, cried at the (fortunately) occasional sad circumstances and made friends around the globe. We are so very blessed.

Has it been easy? Heck no! Nothing worth doing ever is. Marriage is very hard work. It requires time, attention, patience and nurturing. Just like any living thing. However, along the way, you celebrate each milestone.

The milestones hold the memories of our time together.  The symbols of those milestones bring back the memories:

  • The ceramic gorilla purchased in Monterey during our 5th Anniversary weekend still sits on my desk staring at me with his loving eyes.
  • The necklace we purchased during our trip to Florence for our 25th wedding anniversary reminds me of the pasta, gelato, architecture, long walks, and beauty of Italy. Oh, when can we return?
  • And don’t forget the photographs! What would any occasion be without pictures to look back and remember what we looked like and where we were.

So, off we go to celebrate another milestone – 30 years! – I am not sure what symbol we will find to bring back the memories of this celebratory adventure. I am sure that whatever it is will remind me of days filled with laughter, love and an understanding that only 30 years together can grow.

Happy reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.

It’s more important now than ever to remember

This Sunday, April 11, 2010/27 Nisan 5770 is Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.  Memorials, services, etc. will take place on Monday, April 12, 2010.  Because Yom HaShoah is a fairly recent holiday on the Jewish calendar, there are no rituals or traditions required when commemorating the death of the six million Jews murdered by the Nazis during World War II. The most important part of the day is to remember in order that such a thing should never happen again. I am particularly struck by the timeliness of a quote that is part of many Yom HaShoah services:

“To look away from evil, is this not the sin of every generation?”

Rabbi’s Chaim Stern and Albert Friedlander

My catalog lists many Holocaust books both fiction and non-fiction accounts of what happened during that terrible time. Perhaps if we can read about the past, learn how to handle bullying behavior, discuss the reactions of mobs and overcome our fear of speaking out, we can work together to prevent future tragedies.

Pleasant reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.

I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon, I may receive a very small commission on your purchase. You will incur no additional cost, however. I appreciate your support.

Reminders of Days Long Ago

“Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it.”

- George Santayana

This morning, I was listening to On Point, a nationally broadcast call-in news program hosted by Tom Ashbrook.  The topic was West Virginia’s Coal Mines with a focus on the disaster and rescue operations currently taking place at the Upper Big Branch mine.

As I listened to a  Mine Safety expert, two miners, a news person from Virginia and many callers talking about the situation in West Virginia, a dark parallel kept entering my mind.  This is just like what happened to the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911. Health and safety standards were ignored,  productivity was more important than human lives and there were no unions in place to protect individuals.

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire cost the lives of 146 workers, most of them young immigrant women, who could not escape from their workplace because managers had locked or blocked the fire escapes to prevent them from leaving for any reason during working hours. The owners of the building suffered no severe losses as a result of their inaction nor over the deaths of those innocent victims.

Here we are 100 years later, hearing, watching, reading about a similar situation.  A company -  Massey Energy Corp. – doing its business providing needed coal for America, yet doing so by violating every kind of health and safety code at the cost of human lives.  Is this progress?

Perhaps we should all go back and read about that 1911 fire, just to remind ourselves in what situations labor unions are necessary, why standards, laws  and practices for risky businesses  continue to be essential and why heath and safety organizations come out and do inspections and must be respected. People need jobs, America needs energy (or clothes or food or you name it) but at the cost of human lives? Seems like a pretty high price to me.

Happy reading,

Kathy B.

©2010 Kathleen M. Bloomfield and forwordsbooks.com all rights reserved.
The Book used in this review was provided by the publisher.
I am an Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book title referred to on my web site and purchase it from Amazon,

I may receive a very small commission on your purchase.

You will incur no additional cost, however.

I appreciate your support.

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