Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Distractions While Writing


I don't know who these people are, but they
were posing for pictures.
I intended to write about going to the German American Festival in Toledo on Sunday for my blog today.  Ray had noticed that there would be some of the same beer there that he had had when we were in Germany this summer.  He thought it would be interesting to see if the beers tasted the same.  Ray is not your typical beer drinker...a glass of wine is more to his taste.  But he did sample a number of beers while in Germany.  I can't stand the smell of it, so water was my choice of beverage.

At the moment I sat down to begin writing, my friend, Ann, sent me a text suggesting a lunch date today.  Hmmmm....I returned the text stating that I'd like that, but only after I finished my blog.  I also did not want to go to fast food or anyplace serving brats and/or sausage.  But, I must get back to writing....no lunch until the blog post is finished!

I sat looking at the computer screen with many beginnings of ideas, but then found myself checking Yelp for 'lunch places in Toledo'.... someplace different.  Wasn't there an article in the Toledo Blade about tea rooms?  I remembered reading about two places that sounded fun.  Soon, I am digging through the recycle bin searching for the correct paper.  Drat!  It must be under all the bottles and cans...and I am too short to reach it. 

I have returned to the computer...maybe I can find the articles on line.  Ann sent another text which saved me from time spent searching for tea rooms. She suggested we go to the Village Inn in Sylvania.  Now, I can return to this blog about our visit to the German American Festival.  First... I should check the menu at the Village Inn.  I really don't want a heavy lunch.  Do they have salads?  Ah...I see lots of choices...so I should have no problem finding something for lunch.  The website has pictures of the place, too, so I must look through those.

It is almost 10:30 and I have yet to begin my post about the GAF.  I have been distracted and fear the fun day we had there is slipping from my memory.   Pictures!  Here they are with captions.

Ray drinking Kölsch

Rauchbier, Ray's favorite.  It has
a smoky flavor.  I have a picture of Ray
drinking this while in Germany, but my
12:00 lunch date is calling.
I called to change lunch to 12:30 so that
I could find the picture of Ray drinking
Rauchbier in Germany.

Our friend, Sharon, tired the beer, too.
Sharon and Dan traveled with us.

Third and last beer...Radeberger Pils
  Ray is wearing the hat he got in Germany.

Women's Steintossen competition.  This woman is throwing
a 75 pound stone into the sand pit.

This man is throwing a 138 pound rock in the Steintossen competition.

Another fine toss of a stone.

Inside the big Fest Tent where people can buy yummy German food.
Potato Pancakes

I am having a snack of potato pancakes.
We saw lots of people dressed in similar clothing.
That's it!  I apologize for the disjointed post, but sometimes it just has to do.  We did have fun at the GAF.  I did not write about the music...but there was lots of accordions, tubas, zithers and guitars playing at various places. 

Add caption

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Wedding Theatre

How do I begin?  My niece, Maggie, got married this weekend to the perfect man for her.  I'd like to describe their wedding, but it was so unique I fear I will not catch the whole flavor of it....but let me try.

Maggie and Mike met while doing community theatre.  Mike proposed at a theatre...and so, of course, they had a theatre themed wedding.  It began with the "Save the Date" magnet that looked like a ticket for a play.  The wedding venue was the Rialto Theater in Joliet, Illinois.  The reception was in the lobby.  The pictures will convey the beauty of this place.  It reminded me of some of the places we visited while traveling in Europe this summer.  In fact, Ray wondered if it was patterned after The Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.

Here is a quick outline of the wedding:  The program was a playbill.  The play (wedding) was "My Favorite Place."  It began with a slideshow (created by Maid of Honor, Sarah Ward) projected on the big screen.  We all felt like we were at the movies.  Mike and Maggie wanted their wedding to be fun for all.  I began to wonder if the whole wedding was going to feel like a play...a production.  Part of me was relieved because I had been asked to do a reading...and I feared I would begin to cry while reading it.  Hmmm...I can just picture myself as an actor in a play and be able to distance myself from the emotions that were surging through my body while watching pictures of Mike and Maggie.

After the slide show the curtains were drawn, the lights went out, we were sitting in darkness waiting for it to start.  Suddenly, music from "2001 Space Odyssey" ("Also Sprach Zarathustra, by Richard Strauss") boomed loudly bringing us all to attention.  Lights began flashing on the stage.  You really need to watch this video to get the full effect. If the video doesn't work, this link will get you to it. Mike's intro

Wasn't that cool?  You can hear the audience clap and shout.  Yes, I did say 'audience', because it felt like that.  This was fun!  But a tiny part of my mind kept wondering if the solemnity was going to be lost in all of the fun.  I stuffed that thought down deep, sat back and tried to relax knowing I still had my reading. 

This was the view from my seat...and then my battery died.

Jackson and Abby before the Wedding
Next came the bridesmaids, the flower girl and ring bearer.  Such grace, the bridesmaids glided up the steps.  Of course, the flower girl (Abby, my great niece) and ring bearer (Jackson, my great nephew) brought "ahs" and "oohs" from the guests. (Yes, now we were guests...no longer just an audience).  I have another video that is a must see.  Jackson was to have left with his sister to be with their mother for the rest of the ceremony.  Instead, he decided to stay...for awhile.  Check this You Tube to enjoy a bit of Jackson during ceremony .

I will spare you the video of me reading "Apache Wedding Blessing."  I did get through it with no tears, so I felt it was successful.  My sister's brother-in-law, Danny Anderson, read "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" before I did my reading.  Both went well...and then time for exchanging vows.  They had written their own vows and by the time they were finished I was choking back tears.  That tiny part of my mind that was so concerned with the ceremony being too light hearted (frivolous) settled back...satisfied that those vows spoken were to most touching I have ever heard.  Listen to them and you will agree that these two love each other to their very souls.  If the video does not work, this link will take you to Wedding vows   .

I will put a few pictures to end this post.  My camera's battery died at the beginning of the ceremony (play) so I am using my nephew's (Nathan) and a few from Ray. 

We each got a ticket at 'Will Call' telling us
where we were to be seated.
Maggie carried this handkerchief that my mother (her Nana) carried when she married my father.   It was nice knowing that Nana and Papa were represented for this special time.  Maggie also asked her mother (my sister) to cut a heart shape from one of Geoff's (her step-father who had died less than two years ago) shirts and sew it in the hem of her dress.  Just another example of how thoughtful Maggie is and how she wanted to include people who had been special in her life.

The Marquee!

This is a short slide show of Abby and Jackson. 

Wedding Cake with their silhouettes including Poppy (And they
did not smash the cake into each other's faces...thank you!)

Groom and Bride Dance
Father and Bride Dance
Mother and Groom Dance
Marquee at Night
Thank You, Ray, for helping with the videos and the You Tube.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Reflections of Ben

One of my former students died this week.  It was not a complete surprise for me...but still, it was unexpected.  He is survived by his son and fiancé.  I had not seen Ben since he was in the middle school where I was the guidance counselor.  He moved on to high school and at the age of 17 was a passenger in a car that crashed...killing one of the passengers and leaving Ben a paraplegic.  That was fifteen years ago.  I sent him a couple of cards, but lost contact over the years.

Facebook reconnected us.  I know a lot of people think that Facebook is evil...but I love it...as explained in a former post: I Love Facebook.  I even mentioned Ben in that post...but today, Ben will be my only focus.  I had mentioned that I hoped Ben would take part in the Slice of Life next year...now that can't be...and his witty and wise words will have to remain in his books and short stories.

Ben before the car accident.
Ben was the first to acknowledge that he was not a "student"....his high school years were not spent doing homework and striving to make great grades.  He liked having fun....and then there was the accident.  Some people might have become bitter about life, or full of self pity after such a tragic event.  Ben was confronted with not only how his life was changed...but also dealing with survivor's guilt. He and his friend had changed seats in the car....Ben lived...his friend died.  He wrote a short book about his life.  Dark Playgrounds  It is well worth the read.  I think it would be a great book for colleges to use for those going through counseling or psychology classes. Ben's voice throughout the book is the voice of someone's thought process when telling events that have shaped their lives.

Ben wrote other books.  I will put links to those at the end of this.  Any money he made from sales of his books was donated to various charities.  These were all self published books through Amazon, so he was still waiting for a publisher...or maybe he wasn't...maybe that is just my projection.  He was not writing to make a lot of money. He had stories to tell...and writing was his medium.  Another book, Only You , takes a unique approach at having the book talking to the reader...the book is the main character...talking to the reader.  More about it later.

Ben was more than an author.  He was friend to many. As I read many of the comments written on his Facebook page I am overwhelmed at how many lives he touched...usually through late night chats through Facebook messages.  He and I had many.  He, asking advice on his grammar (that is the weakness in his books)...me, stating that his voice is what the reader relates to...but better grammar would make it easier to read.   He always took my advice with a smiley face, open mind and 'lol.'

Ben also touched my life...not as an author...or former student...but as a friend, helping my family when my brother-in-law became paralyzed from malignant tumor in his spine.  Ben would check each night with me to see how Geoff was doing.  He gave us advice on what to expect, how to make Geoff comfortable and most important...Ben gave us emotional support....this, all through Facebook.  I will hold those chats in my heart forever...and even now my eyes fill with tears.

Yes...Ben chose a path of helping others....through his books and through his on line chats.  He had his demons...as we all have....but would rise above to live another day....that was until Friday night...when he died at home. His health had often been precarious after the accident, and kidney failure probably caused his death. You will be missed by many, my friend....but your words will continue to touch lives...forever.

"One day the world will make sense, but then it will no longer matter.  Live in the chaos, dance in the rain and enjoy not knowing.  As long as one person forever speaks my name I will live forever"  Ben Daniels

As mentioned earlier: Here are links for his books.  Hell's Gate , Exsilium, Reflections of Me

Here is the description of the book "Only You" that was used on Amazon.

"I can sense you by me.  All you have to do is pick me up to give me life.  I am here to listen.  The question is, are you?
I am bound to these pages with words unread.  It is a journey through time of being forgotten.  Will you condemn me to this fate?
My name is Adam and it will be my pleasure to be here for you.  Turn through my pages to give my life meaning.  Make my life worth something.  All I need is you and Only You ."