Archives for category: Parenting

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?”

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


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!


fizafaceTwins clash and a teacher is ruined by his peers in Raman and Sunny: Middle School Blues, author Fiza Pathan‘s inspiring new full-length novel. It is a crown of jewels to entertain readers and sit atop her several award-winning books.

  • She tackles bullying, being a twin, parenting and suicide risk while disastrous tween-age errors in judgment and villainous teacher politics wreak havoc. Her fresh outlook as a child of the nineties (now a seasoned teacher and tutor of grade-six-plus students) brings sound content and intelligent resolution to the story.Raman and Sunny ebook (1)Raman Sharma, only a few minutes older than his brother Sunny, is fed up with leading the life of a twin and desperate to establish his own, separate identity. At the beginning of the book they don’t even walk to school together any more, although they are in the same class. Uncontrolled emotions of lying, anger, jealousy and revenge take over, leading to despicable acts of betrayal and violence. A new teacher with a revolutionary philosophy of education as a “holistic experience” made up of “Question, Research, Debate” arrives on the scene. Sunil Sir is exceedingly popular with the students and, also, a pretty good detective.
  • Pathan’s work attains classic standards with its interesting plot, satisfying structure, universal theme (of redemption), suspenseful climax and elegant style. It falls into the categories of ‘literary’ fiction for its social commentary and in-depth characterization, and ‘paraliterary’ fiction for its fast pace and focus on action. The “pizza” forgiveness scene made this reader cry.
  • The novel is set in Pathan’s native Mumbai, with a few chapters retreating for a bittersweet interlude at a school for orphans surrounded by beautiful roses, but occasionally disrupted by unwanted wild life.
  • This book is very worthwhile reading, particularly for children and their parents involved with middle schools. Unforgettable sentences such as, “A child with an inquiring mind will always achieve academic excellence” and “Now I realize the importance of having a brother in my life who cares for me” could even transform readers’ lives.

Happy Reading from Cozy Book Basics

JACK in a Victorian dress and hairdo is the hero of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void written by Margaret Kell Virany

JACK in a Victorian dress and hairdo is the hero of A Book of Kells: Growing Up in an Ego Void written by Margaret Kell Virany

When my dad was almost two my grandmother came across a fantastic bargain in their farming village of Cookstown. It was a bolt of woolen cloth that could be made into all sorts of useful articles so she bought the whole thing. Then she took it to the local dressmaker and asked her to make a dress for John, the baby.

No account was left of exactly what happened next but one thing is certain. This sole photo, left behind in frames, drawers and boxes since the year 1899, has been the source of much glee and many snickers, all at the price of one adorable, innocent little boy. “Jack in the pulpit!” “A man of the cloth!” “Ha, Ha, Ha!”

Grandma Kell was an Irish Campbell and felt entitled to her wit, flash temper, quick steps, reddish hair and freckles. My guess is it was her idea to name my father John Ambrose Campbell Kell and call him by his anagram. Also, she was likely convinced her Irish luck had put the plaid of her ancestors in her path just for her.

Getting back to the dressmaker, there was a misunderstanding. Grandma expected to get back part of the bolt uncut, to be made into other things. Instead, what she got was this dress. As I dig out this picture for Father’s Day, I wonder how Scarlett O’Hara‘s dress would have looked if it had consumed the entire green velvet curtain she pulled down from the window.

What I see is a brave little boy who is caught up in the youngest child syndrome. Fortunately the teasing never became bullying and his ego was never debased. Even at two he could face his bewildering world of know-it-alls with poise. The underlying love, raw humor and discipline even made him stronger inside. Right now his big brothers, sisters and cousins had the advantage of being able to giggle at “Wee John” or “The Runt” but one day he’d have his turn as a somebody.

The dressmaker knew her job. Dresses were worn by both girls and boys in Victorian times. They were the practical solution to toilet training problems in the days before snap fasteners, zippers and velcro. Not until as old as seven did boys wear breeches. She designed father’s dress with overlaps, pleats and folds to allow for several years of growing. The photographer was likely responsible for father’s hairdo and got it wrong. Often the placing of the part was the only clue to whether the child was a girl (middle part) or a boy (side part.) The Duke of Argyll unofficial Campbell tartan has  a white stripe added to the navy, red and green to lighten it up.

In spite of the challenging start, father was faithful to his family and always attended reunions of the clans on both sides. As for his vocation, the Little Lord Fauntleroy collar was replaced by a clerical one for 60 years. In 1959-60 he was elected President of the Toronto Conference of the United Church of Canada and awarded a doctorate of divinity.

Strange to say, I don’t recall my father ever wearing anything plaid, not even a tie. Happy Father’s Day!

Thank you for spending some of your valuable time reading this post. Please feel free to browse around, click on the Home and About buttons at the top of the page and leave a comment. Find out more about Margaret Kell Virany’s biographical family books on Amazon. 


Calling all girls! Why not take advice from a rose-bush instead of frightening yourself by what you think other people think of you? 

The bully of  fashion fads doesn’t count; neither do the mean people you know who wear styles or tattoos prostitutes would choose, and dream of being  stars with flashy lifestyles. What you say to yourself inside your own mind and the good taste you develop from better role models do count.

You are naturally beautiful because you are young and fresh and growing. Period. Everyone older is jealous so relax, soak up the joy of just being you and forget your anxieties.

Memorize this inspiring poem like your great grandma did back in the days when fourth grade  girls  sang in class concert. The words will still  stick in your mind and encourage when you are older, like I am, and tend roses.

(Note: “little” means to  the rose “not yet full-grown inside or out”)


Good morrow, little rose-bush,

I pray thee, tell me true:

To be as sweet as a sweet red rose,

What must a body do?

To be as sweet as a sweet red rose,

A little girl like you

Just grows, and grows, and grows, and grows, —

And that’s what she must do.

A First Reader    Jenny H. Stickney Lansing

Thanks to Google search and Google’s program of digitizing old books, poems like this can be  located and immediately downloaded for free.

Old primary readers in e-book form are an amazing resource for children, adults and baby-sitters.

Early 20th century primary school teachers had never heard of such things as child psychologists. They were it. Secret messages to help children develop healthy egos and self-confidence were delivered by poems like The Sweet Red Rose.

Browsing around the other pages and illustrations in The First Reader may lead to a revolution today that  will return to the idea that growing up can be a beautiful, simple and natural process.

This and other secrets of growing up beautifully inside and out are told in my books about what it was really like growing up in great-grandma’s and grandma’s days.Thank you for spending some of your precious time reading this post. Please browse around top to bottom and, if you like, give a few clicks.