Memorial Day Poem

I’m re-posting this poem, a prayer, from last Memorial Day with an added line.


In this year,

an historic year

of a global pandemic,

economic and educational disparities,

racial and religious hatred,

ideological and political divides,

innocence and freedom terrorized,

and our beautiful, irreplaceable earth

in deep trouble,

remember those who have served our country

and those who still do,

sons and daughters

whose families long to embrace them

and welcome them home.

Amen.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” and Kindness

Image source, BBSMI
Flags fly at Liberty State Park.

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Kindness is the theme at preschool. Kindness is taught all year, but this week it’s emphasized with child-led acts of kindness. What can young children do?

This poem by Edgar Albert Guest is thought-provoking and meaningful. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech is timeless and needs to be read, repeated, studied and proclaimed now more than ever.

Transcript of speech by 
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 
August 28, 1963. Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. 

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. 

Five score years ago a great American in whose symbolic shadow we stand today signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beckoning light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity. 

But one hundred years later the Negro is still not free. One hundred years later the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. 

One hundred years later the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. 

One hundred years later the Negro is still languishing in the comers of American society and finds himself in exile in his own land. 

We all have come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to change racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice ring out for all of God’s children. 

There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted citizenship rights. 

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. 

And the marvelous new militarism which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers have evidenced by their presence here today that they have come to realize that their destiny is part of our destiny. 

So even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal.” 

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. 

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. 

I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. 

I have a dream today. 

I have a dream that one day down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its Governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. 

I have a dream today. 

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and before the Lord will be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. 

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the mount with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the genuine discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, pray together; to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom forever, )mowing that we will be free one day. 

And I say to you today my friends, let freedom ring. From the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire, let freedom ring. From the mighty mountains of New York, let freedom ring. From the mighty Alleghenies of Pennsylvania! 

Let freedom ring from the snow capped Rockies of Colorado! 

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! 

But not only there; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia! 

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain in Tennessee! 

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill in Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring. 

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we’re free at last!”

Take Me Home, Country Roads

IMG_5775
Maryland flag.

IMG_4501
Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park

Happy 4th of July, America.

I wish you good health, happiness, and a way to mend deep divisions. 

Growing up in Baltimore, a day cheering at an Orioles’ baseball game was always a blast. We ate popcorn, peanuts and Cracker Jacks, rooted for our home team, and always belted John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy” during the seventh inning stretch. I found out something interesting about Denver’s patriotic song “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” 

Chris Kaltenbach, writing for The Baltimore Sun, wrote “Mountain mama! John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ was inspired by Maryland, not West Virginia. Hon, did you know that? Me either!

His article, published 4/17/19 is excerpted below.

Next time you hear John Denver warbling “Take Me Home, Country Roads”…keep in mind that it wasn’t anywhere in West Virginia that inspired the massive hit, but rather a road in Montgomery County.

Songwriter Bill Danoff, in a 1997 article he wrote for The Washington Post (in tribute to Denver, who’d just died), said he had begun writing the song while driving to a family reunion along Clopper Road, near Gaithersburg. He and his future wife, Taffy Nivert, completed the song in December 1970 with Denver’s help. “Back then,” Danoff wrote, Clopper Road “was still a country road.” (It isn’t anymore, apparently, thanks to development over the past 49 years.)

The three premiered the song the following night at Washington, D.C.’s The Cellar Door, where Denver was headlining (Danoff and Nivert, performing under the name Fat City, were his opening act). “When we first sang the song together,” Danoff wrote, “it seemed as though the audience would never stop applauding. Next show, same thing. We knew we had a hit.”

Wrote Denver, in “Take Me Home,” his 1994 autobiography, “In the wee hours of the morning, sometime between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, in their basement apartment in Washington, D.C., we wrote ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads.’ It became my first Number One record.”

No word on why Maryland lost out to West Virginia in the lyrics. Perhaps “Maryland” just doesn’t sound as pastoral as its western neighbor. More likely, the three syllables that combine for our state’s name just don’t fit the meter the songwriters had worked out.

“Take Me Home, Country Roads”

Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River
Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains, blowing like a breeze

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

All my memories gather round her, miner’s lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky, misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

I hear her voice in the morning hour, she calls me, the radio reminds me of my home far away
And driving down the road I get a feeling that I should have been home yesterday, yesterday

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

Country roads, take me home to the place I belong
West Virginia, mountain mamma, take me home, country roads

Take me home, down country roads
Take me home, down country roads

 

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies, Re-Post

Hostess gifts idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.
DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies
Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.
Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.
Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.
1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.
2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

3. Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.
3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.
4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

_________________________________________________________

5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.
5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.
Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.
6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!
American Flag Fun!

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies

Hostess gifts idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.
DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. These funky melamine dishes are from SEED387. Wrap cookies in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Need a patriotic-themed kid activity? Or are you in the mood to bake? Either way, enjoy this re-post.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies
Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.
Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.
Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.
1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.
2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

3. Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.
3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.
4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.
5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.
Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________________________________________________________________

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.
6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!
American Flag Fun!

America is Beautiful on July 4th

Flags in front of the American Legion post.
Flags in front of the American Legion post, Main Street.

Wishing you a reflective and relaxing July 4th from Main Street…

Hot air balloon at festival in Readington, NJ.
Hot air balloon at festival in Readington, NJ.

To our blue skies…

Liberty State Park, NJ
Liberty State Park, NJ

To wherever you live in the world. 

Ray Charles added his own lyrics to America the Beautiful.

Oh beautiful, for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self, our country loved,
And mercy more than life,
America, America, may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain devined.
And you know when I was in school,
We used to sing it something like this, listen here:
Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain,
But now wait a minute, I’m talking about
America, sweet America,
You know, God done shed his grace on thee,
He crowned thy good, yes he did, in a brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

Hon, I was going to quote John Lennon but then I thought you’d enjoy listening to him yourself.

John Lennon’s Imagine song and video.

Imagine.

The Empty Sky After 9/11

Flags fly at Liberty State Park.
Flags fly at Liberty State Park.

One of my favorite places to bike is along the promenade in Liberty State Park in Jersey City. Across the Hudson River, bikers, walkers, fishermen and picnickers get an amazing view of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. I’d been there many times, but hadn’t seen the Empty Sky memorial, dedicated on September 10, 2011, until last weekend.

Each of the memorial’s walls is 210 feet long, the width of each side of the former World Trade Center Towers. Their height reflects the proportion of the former buildings as if they were lying on their sides. The names of the 749 victims from New Jersey are engraved into the twin walls.  “The walls channel visitors to the location in the Manhattan skyline where the former World Trade Center towers once stood.”

Inscribed on the twin walls are these words:

“On the morning of September 11th, 2001, with the skies so clear that the Twin Towers across the river appeared to be within reach, the very essence of what our country stands for – freedom, tolerance and the pursuit of happiness – was attacked. This memorial is dedicated to New Jersey’s 749 innocent loved ones who were violently and senselessly murdered that day at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in Shanksville, PA.

Let this memorial reflect the legacies of those whose lives were lost, that their unfulfilled dreams and hopes may result in a better future for society. Their unique qualities and characteristics enriched our lives immeasurably and through this memorial, their stories live on.”

Empty Air memorial bisected by a steel beam.
Empty Air memorial bisected by a steel beam.

Steel and concrete.
Bent steel and broken concrete.

Reflection.
Reflection.

 

Father and son.
Father and son.

The Freedom Tower.
The Freedom Tower.

Sun saturated hibiscus.
Sun saturated hibiscus facing Lower Manhattan.

Flags Fly on July 4th

Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park
Flower Box Flag, Hudson River Park, New York City

Happy July 4th!

Did you ever wonder why the American flag is nicknamed Old Glory? Here’s the story behind it.

Sea Captain William Driver (March 17, 1803-March 3, 1886) named the American flag he flew on his ship Old Glory. His flag was sewn by his mother and a group of young, female admirers from his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts.

“Driver was deeply attached to the flag, writing:  ‘”It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?”‘*

Driver retired from seafaring in 1837, bringing his flag with him to Nashville, Tennessee.  When the Confederates tried to seize the flag during the Civil War, Driver saved Old Glory by sewing it into a coverlet.  It remained in hiding until 1862, when Nashville fell to Union troops.

Driver’s original flag and another one he owned were fought over by his daughter and niece.  In 1922, both became part of the collection at the Smithsonian Institution.

Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ
Hot Air Balloon Festival, NJ

Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.
Flags along Fifth Avenue, New York City.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncle Sam in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Uncle Sam in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Statue of Liberty in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.
Statue of Liberty in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Flag Cow Statue.

Do you know which state this flag represents?  Answer at bottom of post.
Do you know which state this flag represents? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Do you know which state flag is pictured above?  Hint: the answer lies in the name of this blog.  Okay, I’ll tell you.  The yellow/black and red/white flag is the Maryland flag.

Hon, what are your plans today? I hope they include fireworks!

*Source:  Wikipedia

 

 

American Flag-Inspired Cupcakes and Cookies

Hostess gifts idea:  Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.
DIY Hostess gift idea: Bring dessert on a dish the hostess can keep. I bought these funky melamine dishes from SEED387. Wrap them in cellophane for a pretty presentation.

Hon, you know what I like about a holiday besides spending time with family and friends?

 The built-in theme!

One of my daughters and I had fun taking the American flag colors to the extreme.  We baked red, white and blue sugar cookies and cupcakes.  Click here for sugar cookie and Royal Icing recipes.  My daughter decorated with flags while I tried my hand at tie dye effects. I used a toothpick to “drag” two or three icing colors from the center out, then swirled with the toothpick to create a tie dye look.

Patriotic Cookies
Patriotic Cookies.

Tie Dye effect.
Tie Dye effect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________________________________________________________________

Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.
Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing.

Coloring on cookies.
Coloring on cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

Baking Day continued with red, white and blue cupcakes. 

We were inspired by Ziploc Bag’s Patriotic Piped Tri-Colored Cupcakes, but they turned out to be more challenging than they looked.  So, we abandoned our pastry bags and spooned the colored batter into baking cups.  The result?  Still patriotic, fun and delicious.

*Tip:  Wear plastic gloves because colored batter is messy and stains.

1.  Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.
1. Start with boxed cake mix. Separate batter into three bowls.

2.  Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl vanilla.
2. Add red food coloring to one bowl of batter and blue to another, leaving the third bowl plain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

________________________________________________________________________

3.  Transfer three bowls of batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored strips.
3. Spoon batter into three pastry bags (or Ziploc bags) OR skip this step and spoon colored batter into baking cups one at a time in colored stripes.

 

 

4.  Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags at all.
4. Seal pastry bags or Ziploc bags OR skip this step if not using bags.

 

 

_________________________________________________________________________

5.  Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.
5. Tape bags together so batter can be piped at once OR skip this step.

 

Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.
Tri-colored cupcakes after baking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

_______________________________________________________________________

6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.
6. Frost and decorate cupcakes. We used store-bought icing.

American Flag Fun!
American Flag Fun!