Archives for category: inspiration

A fellow Scot will steal the limelight from Donald Trump on Jan. 25. Celebrations of the 259th birthday of beloved poet Robert Burns are set to take place worldwide. His Rights of Woman supported the first suffragettes. Abraham Lincoln, Bob Dylan and Michael Jackson were fans. Burns is extremely popular in China; his work resembles their traditional poetry. To A Mouse (below) and Auld Lang Syne are two of his most popular creations. 

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Piping in the Haggis on Burns Night                                                  BBC.CO.UK

To A Mouse
(Whilst ploughing on a November day, Burns ruined the nest of a field mouse. He ponders why the creature runs away in such terror)

Oh, tiny timorous forlorn beast,
Oh why the panic in your breast ?
You need not dart away in haste
To some corn-rick
I’d never run and chase thee,
With murdering stick.

I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
Has broken nature’s social union,
And justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor earth-born companion,
And fellow mortal.

I do not doubt you have to thieve;
What then? Poor beastie you must live;
One ear of corn that’s scarcely missed
Is small enough:
I’ll share with you all this year’s grist,
Without rebuff.

Thy wee bit housie too in ruin,
Its fragile walls the winds have strewn,
And you’ve nothing new to build a new one,
Of grasses green;
And bleak December winds ensuing,
Both cold and keen.

You saw the fields laid bare and waste,
And weary winter coming fast,
And cosy there beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash; the cruel ploughman crushed
Thy little cell.

Your wee bit heap of leaves and stubble,
Had cost thee many a weary nibble.
Now you’re turned out for all thy trouble
Of house and home
To bear the winter’s sleety drizzle,
And hoar frost cold.

But, mousie, thou art not alane,
In proving foresight may be in vain,
The best laid schemes of mice and men,
Go oft astray,
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
To rend our day.

Still thou art blessed, compared with me!
The present only touches thee,
But, oh, I backward cast my eye
On prospects drear,
And forward, though I cannot see,
I guess and fear.

(courtesy of Robert Burns Country)

Happy Reading & Writing from CozyBookBasics!

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As a UK diplomat to Canada’s capital in the fifties, author Nicholas Monsarrat (The Cruel Sea, etc.) lived in a heritage chateau with leaded windows high on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River. Our Club de Voile Grande Rivière (aka the Aylmer Sailing Club) sits farther upriver on a widened bend called Lac/Lake Deschênes and we held our end-of-season party at the chateau on Nov. 11. I wore a Remembrance Day poppy but forlorn sentiments were chased out by the Christmas spirits crashing the party. Yachters chatted like happy heralds as we sipped cocktails and nibbled on hors d’oeuvres passed around daintily. The party was free and crowded, since members had already paid for it in their club dues last Spring.

Marcel and Joanne, who have reached retirement age, had tidings of good will and great joy to broadcast. They had just got married after living together for forty years. The ceremony took place at their home, with the wedding banns posted on the front door and their two grown children as witnesses. As a joke, the wedding was kept secret until they arrived from Europe. At first their son thought the white paper on the front door was a construction permit for renovations but when he read it he blurted out, “What the ……. is this?” Instead of buying a home and settling down, the newlyweds will sell their house but keep their sailboat, make lots more friends and have new adventures.
David, a physicist and lawyer, looked contented and cheerful as a cherub even though he is 75 and sick. He uses a cane to get on and off his boat and loves his crew of family and friends who handle the ropes and sails. Ten years of treatment for cancer have not prevented him from travelling to academic conferences as a guest speaker and foremost expert on cold fusion. He doesn’t expect to live very much longer but is always more concerned about other people and advised us to travel while we are still in good health. One of the things he did right years ago was his divorce. Instead of hiring lawyers and going to court, he and his wife agreed they no longer wished to live together and parted with a handshake. The only quarrel they had was over the refrigerator. Due to their continuing friendship, she recently helped him resettle in a very convenient condo. We were inspired by David’s way of solving problems and facing death with equanimity. He enjoys his grandchildren and babysits when needed. He is a very wise man.

I held back to peek into the coffee room and get a preview of the desserts when the  sailors started flowing from the bar down the hall to the dining room to eat entrées being cooked at several stations. How startled I was to see a pair of wide-open baby eyes staring at me from the sofa! Lavioletta’s mother Maria had found a quiet corner with a sofa where she could cuddle and feed her precious gift from god. Stunningly beautiful in a gray-and-white three-piece outfit with matching polka dot hair bow, she was just learning to focus. Maria held her up so she could zoom in on me at close range and try to grab my little finger. I was thrilled and she was amazed to discover this ‘something’ so close and so big. We few in the room formed a semi-circle of adoration around her and cooed in the universal language of baby babble. Maria and Jean had two boats in the marina when they met but now they have one. It was overwhelming to see their love, pride, joy, optimism and readiness to be parents responsible for their little family’s future.

The party in its mystifying setting was a prelude to Christmas as well as the end to a season delayed by a big flood. Joy to all in celebrating the best of human kind!

Happy Reading, Writing and Living from Cozy Book Basics!

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IMG_0765To the tune of oxymoronic incongruous\appropriate music, 300 fresh-faced, happy teen-agers in red and white caps and gowns commenced real life Saturday in Pennsyvlania’s Peters Township. The high school band did not give up on churning out Land of Hope & Glory until it lauded every last grad into a seat on the football turf prior to being called to cross the stage to get a handshake and diploma.

Few realized the mind-blowing march music also has words. The setting of majestic trees, and sunshine that emerged late in a thunderous day thrilled us grandparents. We were among thousands of proud family members invited to honor the young ones’ achievements. People on the public bleachers looked on from the other side of the stage.

“Why does Britain Use Our Graduation Song As a National Anthem?” http://www.anglotopia.net/anglophilia/lost-in-the-pond-how-americas-graduation-march-was-actually-a-product-of-england/

1. Land of Hope & Glory was composed by Englishman Sir Edward Elgar in 1901 as part of a series of marches called Pomp & Circumstance. When Queen Victoria died and her son, King Edward VII, acceded to the throne, Elgar was asked to compose appropriate music. The new king liked the section of Pomp & Circumstance we now know as Land of Hope & Glory so A.C. Benson composed words to it.

2. Benson’s words to the favorite stanza which is replayed incessantly are:

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free

How shall we extol thee, who art born of thee?

Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set

God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

God who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

3. It became a very popular patriotic song which Elgar called the “music of a lifetime.” It bragged about England’s three centuries of worldwide imperial conquests. While he was still alive, the lyrics helped Britain win world war one.

4. In the 1920’s Elgar was awarded an honorary degree by Harvard University. At the end of the ceremony, Land of Hope & Glory was played as a recessional. The crowd liked it so much they have played it every year since. Other universities all across the United States followed suit. More and more are playing it until this day. Now it has reached down even to elementary school and kindergarten levels.

5.Vera Lynn’s recording of it stirred British courage as they went on to win world war two. Meanwhile, it was picked up to be played when British athletes won medals at the Olympics. Several football teams in the UK rewrote the words to make it ‘their’ song. It was almost chosen as the British national anthem instead of God Save the King.

6. The BBC philharmonic orchestra in London plays Land of Hope & Glory on its ‘Last Night at the Proms’ every summer. The audience rises to sing the words, waving their union jack flags in an electrifying display of patriotism.

Wild Roots Worth Honoring in America’s Future

Reference: https://www.pri.org/stories/2016-06-17/wild-english-roots-song-youll-hear-every-graduation-summer

1. Nothing is more powerful than being imbued with patriotic emotions in one’s childhood. My mother took me to England when I was four and when I reheard Land of Hope & Glory now, at age 84, I imagined I saw the Buckingham Palace guards marching as the words went round and round in my head. I did not feel vicious, just thrilled, strong and ready to face the music of life, so to speak.

2. Other writers on this subject point out the empowering, stirring music (see links above) casts off and loses its outdated messages of racism and expansionism “in the pond” on the way to America.

3. We forgive our parents’ mistakes and are one big happy family, appreciating our inherited influences and parents’ love and guidance as we set out in our own direction.

4. This was a good message for the grads to absorb on their hopeful, glorious night. Now they commence living in a world made more secure by their maturing emotions and thoughts.

May they be blessed and find wide and mighty opportunities for fulfillment, success and happiness!

Photo courtesy of Observer-Reporter/Washington County News 

Heroes don’t exist everywhere, everyday but they can spring up anywhere, anytime. One of them could even be  you. Eighteen hundred grade-ten students learned this lesson last week at a joyous assembly at Peters Township high school near Pittsburgh, PA. Two of their classmates, 15-year-old Parker and Walter, had played real-life roles of  survivor and hero in a fateful disastrous instant in October.

The Fateful Event

The two best friends were sitting side by side on a bleacher in the local skate park on a Saturday morning. Suddenly Parker turned to Walter and said, “My heart stopped.” When he dropped his phone and collapsed onto the concrete below Walter knew he wasn’t joking. He screamed his head off for help from bystanders and a call was made to 911. Walter told the dispatcher Parker’s nose and lips were blue and the dispatcher said he needed CPR right away. Walter said, “I can do that. I learned it in health class last year.”

For 10 minutes he gave Parker CPR and kept talking to him until the police and emergency workers arrived and took over. With Parker on a stretcher and Walter in a panic the ambulance carried them off. En route Walter phoned his father who rushed to join him at the hospital. Parker was induced into a coma and airlifted to a trauma center. Walter wanted to go with his friend but a nurse convinced him he had done all he could. His father dropped him off at his mother’s where tears flowed freely as she consoled him.

With the help of surgery to attach an AED (automated electronic defibrillator), and rest, Parker recovered and was back at school within weeks. His heart is strong; the cause of his cardiac arrest is unknown. He looks forward to resuming playing soccer.

The Commendation

Emergency workers and police at the scene and doctors and nurses at the hospital showered praise on Walter for his coolness under pressure and trying circumstances. Teacher John Valvala who had taught him CPR was “thrilled but not surprised”, thanked and congratulated him. The chief of the Allegheny County Police department saw this as a chance to show heart and strengthen community. It could be used to inspire other teenagers to play the important bystander role which is as vital as any other to a patient’s survival. He announced in January that Walter would receive a Citizen Service Award. The commendation ceremony would be at the school in co-operation with everyone else who had been involved. This event would attract the attention of the whole community through the media. It was a rare opportunity to put the police in a good light, pointing out what people do that is right, not just what they do that is wrong. The St. Clair hospital announced it would give Walter a Health Hero Award at the same ceremony.

The Heroic Drama & Inspiration

It was an exceedingly happy, inspiring occasion. A roar of thunderous applause and cheers went up from the student body and family members as police and doctors presented the awards and shoulder patches. Parker and Walter modestly thanked everyone else, from friends to GoFund donors, in their speeches. Audience happiness got noisier with each inspiring speech aimed at them. It was deafening when the three personal wellness (health) teachers were called up on stage.

Police superintendent Coleman McDonough said Walter’s extraordinary act changed his life forever and changed all of us. One person who is here wouldn’t be. “It is important for all of you to see one of your peers being honored. It was a service rendered to the citizens of the county. His actions are a credit to himself and all citizens,” McDonough said. Surgeon Kevin Friend said he had been inspired to go into medicine after a classmate saved his life by applying the Heimlich maneuver. He choked on a hot dog he was eating while exerting himself as the anchor man in a school tug of war contest. Ironically, up until then he didn’t like the boy who saved  him  — they had a crush on the same girl.

Assistant principal Lesnett got the last round of applause as he challenged the students to  “Be alert. A moment can make a difference. You can make a difference. Don’t just let things happen.”

Follow-up for Walter

I had a front seat at this milestone event for our family. We have been fractured by divorce proceedings for four years. This proud, happy occasion brought both sides together unexpectedly. Walter’s step brother Derek joked with brother Robert (both older than Walter), “You and I are just ‘the other brothers’ now”. His father Leslie said, “I think I deserve a little bit of the credit here. I always told my boys to listen to what their teachers said.”

Two years ago Walter started an entertaining YouTube channel of videos about “whatever interests me.” It has a growing following among his peers. His ambition is to become an actor or film director. He is a good enough student to take any direction he chooses.  But, most of all, he wants to  make people laugh.

Thank you, Walter. You have succeeded. You have brought honor to our family and we feel joyous and very proud of you.

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