Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Photoessay on THE YEAR OF THE RAM by Asian American Writer Valerie Lee

Christal Cooper  1,235 Words

Guest Blogger Valerie Lee
Valerie Lee
Author of The Jade Rubies &

A Long Way to Death Row,
From many years of candid interviews with
Charles Ng

Happy New Year!


Welcome to the Year of the Ram

The Ram begins his reign on February 19, 2015 until February 7, 2016 at which time the cunning Monkey will actively take over.

Every year is assigned an animal in a 12-year cycle. The Chinese believe that those born during those years take on the likeliness of animals that rule the year of their birth just as modern Astrologists believe people born under a certain sign of the Western Zodiac have similar traits. 

Let’s take a look at the characteristics of those born in the Year of Ram,  1907,1919,1931,1943,1955,1967,1979,1991, 2003 and 2015.  It is in 8th position of the Chinese Zodiac and is considered the most feminine sign so those born during these years are known to be gentle, righteous, sincere, and can be easily fooled.  Although shy, they can be fashionable, creative and artistic. But at his worst, he can be stubborn, pessimistic and even withdrawn.

Regardless of which animal rules each year, most Chinese Americans look forward to Spring Festival or Guo Nien because it’s the biggest party of all, like all the birthdays and holidays combined into one. Since the New Year celebration runs for two weeks, we start off with eating the usual traditional Chinese dishes symbolic of this particular time.     

The most popular Chinese New Year’s dish is meatless and is still consumed today and consists only of vegetables.  This delicious recipe originated from the Buddhist Monks who went begging for food and received only meager portions of vegetables.  However, being inventive cooks, they created what is known as Monk’s food or Jai.

Ingredients of Jai are a play on Chinese words, especially those symbolizing good luck.  Fat Choy (hair-like seaweed) is wealth; Fun see (cellophane noodles) and Chin Ngee (fungus) are longevity; Foo Jook (dried bean curd and sheets) means blessings for each household: Bak Ko (ginko nut) means 100 Grandchildren; Ho See (oysters) means good tidings and successful business: Lin Gee (lotus seed) means many children; Gum Choy (dried lily flower) means gold and good luck; and Hua Sung (peanut) means birth and promotion.       

During this period, parents, grandparents, friends and family will be honored with many gifts such as lai-see, oranges, candy, nuts and pastry.  It’s the time to promote benevolence, reunions, family unity, remembrances, and people will pay homage to their deceased ancestors. 

Candied preserved fruits and vegetables also signify something – melon seeds mean many children, carrots resemble coins so they symbolize golden wealth. The long vines of squash and melon plants mean a long line of descendants; lotus seeds signify productions of sons; kumquats are for good luck and coconuts are hopes for a strong relationship between father and son.    

While many will be enjoying special foods, events and festivities, much can be remembered and learned from the past.          
Many momentous events took place during the Ram Years.
On a positive note,  did you know that in a landmark 1919 decision, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes enunciated the limits of the First Amendment’s protection of free speech: when it represented a “clear and present danger that (it) will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.”

It was in 1931, West Virginian Pearl S. Buck, raised in China by missionary parents, was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for her book, “The Good Earth.”  It was published from the King James version of the Bible and from Chinese sagas she enjoyed in her youth.

 In 1943 after George Nicholas Papanicolaou discovered the growth of cancerous cells in a vaginal smear and published his paper, “Diagnosis of Uterine Cancer by the Vaginal Smear,” he convinced the American medical establishment of the effectiveness of his diagnostic test, the Pap Smear.”

In 1955, the AFL-CIO, an organization labor superpower came into being when the American Federation of labor merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

In 1967, the National Football league easily won its first showdown with its rival, the American Football league.  Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers whipped the Kansas City Chiefs 35 – 10 to take the World Championship (which became known as the Super Bowl in 1969.)

In 1967, things must have been bad since Joseph Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana Alliluyeva, defected to the United States in April.

In May, 1979, everything changed in Great Britain.  Labor was out and the Conservatives were in – the voters had spoken with 44% of the vote and 43 seat majority in Parliament.  Margaret Thatcher, the first European woman ever to hold the country’s highest elected office replaced James Callaghan.

In 1991 Zhang Yimou completed what is probably the best movie to come out of China since the revolution, Raise the Red Lantern – the second Chinese film ever nominated for the Academy award for best foreign film.  The beautiful Gong Li starred as the fourth wife of an arrogant, wealthy patriarch.

In December, 2003 former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is captured near his hometown of Tikrit.   

In the United States, 1919 was considered the Red year because of the race riots and a “red scare” that led to the deportation of thousand of alleged subversives.

In the spring of 1931, when the Credit Anstalt in Austria, the nation’s biggest bank failed, and the Danat-bank in Germany collapses, Berliners rushed to withdraw their funds.    

And also that year, the Jews of the Warsaw ghetto of 500,000 inhabitants mounted a hopeless revolt but they were captured.

In 1955, violence returned to Indochina as the rulers of the supposedly temporary state of North and South Vietnam consolidated their own power.

In 1967, China gets the H bomb in June and detonated a hydrogen bomb and causes fear in both America and Moscow that a nuclear showdown was imminent.

In 1979, tragically, one of Britain’s last great war  hero, Earl Mountbatten of Burma, didn’t die in battle but was slain while vacationing in his country home on the west coast of Ireland.  The Irish Republican Army blew up his boat killing Mountbatten, his grandson and his grandson’s friend as they fished on Donegal Bay.

It was in 1991, plagued by armed insurgency and massive foreign debt, Peru was struck in January by a Cholera epidemic, the highly contagious bacterial disease caused by feces polluted waters.  This deadly epidemic killed thousands of Peruvians in a matter of months.

In 2003, how many of us will ever forget the space shuttle Columbia when it disintegrated as it attempted to reenter Earth’s atmosphere.   All seven crew members were lost. 

After such an active and energetic Year of the Horse, this is the year to sit back, relax, make peace with yourself as well as others and take another look at those close to us, our family and friends.

Take the time to be creative, enjoy life, travel and be productive and imaginative in artistic and aesthetic ventures.
On the world scene, things will be calm and harmonious.  Just keep a tight hand on your purse string too, as there could be repercussions by overspending or investing.

Hopefully the Ram will have some control this year by the serenity of his peaceful ways and love of harmony and slow thing down a bit.

Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
Valerie Lee
Copyright granted by Valerie Lee

Photo 2
Jacket cover of Jade Rubies

Photo 3
Jacket cover of A Long Way to Death Row

Photo 4
Rram/goat image 2015
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 5
Chinese Zodiac
Attributed to Spring
Fair Use Under The United States Copyright Law

Photo 6
The carvings with Chinese Zodiac on the ceiling of the gate to Kushiaa Shrine in Fukuoka
Mirror iamge to have animals in correct order
Attributed to Jakub Halun
GNU Free Documentaiton License Version 1.2

Photo 7
Valerie Lee
Copyright granted by Valerie Lee

Photo 8
Lunar New Year Celebration in Chinatown New York City
February 13, 2005
Attributed to Patrick Kwan
CCA 3.0 Generic

Photo 9
Image of Pureland Buddhist Monk collecting food.

Photo 10
Playing Children
1150 A.D.
Attributed to Su Harchen
Public Domain

Photo 11
Ancestors Gallery
19th Century Painting
Tempera paint on canvas
Public Domain

Photo 12
Coconut Fortune Cookies
Attributed to Fancy Fortune Cookies
CCASA 3.0 unported

Photo 13
Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1902 the year he was appointed to the Supreme Court.
Public Domain

Photo 14
Pearl S Buck in 1932
Library of Congress
Public Domain

Photo 15
1st edition Jacket cover of The Good Earth

Photo 16
George Nicholas Papanicolaou 1883-1962
Public Domain

Photo 17
Pap Test Abnormal
October 2006
Attributed to Alex Brollo
GNU FDLIC Vers 1.2

Photo 18
The AFL-CIO Building in Washington DC
June 20, 2010
Attributed to Agnostic Preacher’s Kid
CCASA 3.0 Unported.

Photo 19
1967 World Championship between Green Bay Packers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 20
Joseph Stalin with daughter Svetlana
Public Domain

Photo 21
Svetlana Alliluyeva in New York City in 1967

Photo 22
Margaret Thatcher
Attributed to Chris Collins of the Margaret Thatcher Foundation

Photo 23
Zhang Yimou
Hawaii International Film Festival in 2005
Attributed to Alejandro Barneenas
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 24
DVD jacket cover of Raise The Red Lantern

Photo 25
Gory Li
Cannes Film Festival in 2011
Attributed to Georges Biard
CCASA 3.0 Unported.

Photo 26
The capture of Saddam Hussein in December 13, 2003
Public Domain

Photo 27
Political cartoon attributed to New York Evening Telegram
Attributed to Sydney Joseph Green
Public Domain

Photo 28
The CreditAnstalt in Austria in 1931

Photo 29
Image of the destruction block taken at the agnel from the Intersection of Zamerhofa and Wolynska Streets in the Warsaw Ghetto
Image taken from April 19, 1943 to May 16, 1943
Public Domain

Photo 30
Ho Chi Minh
President of North Vietnam from 1945 – 1969
CCCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain Ded.

Photo 31
Ngo Dinh Diem
President of South Vietnam from 1955 – 1963
Photo taken on May 8, 1957
Department of Defense, USA

Photo 32
China’s hydrogen bomb on June 17, 1967

Photo 33
Earl Mountbattten of Burma
In 1976
Attributed to Allan Warren

Photo 34
Vibrio Cholera, the bacteria that causes Cholera
Attributed to Tom Kirn, Ron Taylor, Louisa Howard of the Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility
Public Domain

Photo 35
This is the official crew photograph from mission STS-107 on the Space Shuttle Columbia. From left to right are mission specialist David Brown, commander Rick Husband, mission specialist Laurel Clark, mission specialist Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist Michael Anderson, pilot William McCool, and Israeli payload specialist Ilan Ramon.
All were killed when the shuttle disintegrated over Texas in February 2003.
Photo taken in 2001
Public Domain

Photo 36
Valerie Lee
Copyright granted by Valerie Lee

Photo 37
19th century painting
Public Domain

Monday, February 23, 2015

Visual Poem by Children's Writer Christina Lewis - "MARSHMALLOW GROVE"

Christal Cooper  549Words

By Christina Lewis

I remember apple pie
And sitting by Mother's side
While she read a book of tales,
Legends from the world outside.

They said there was a lost place
Beyond the realm of reason
Where marshmallows grow on trees
And snow falls out of season.

With that vision in my head,
I took every coin I owned
And left the warm fires of home,
Swept into the great unknown.

I ran through the rising storms
To the knife's edge of the world,
And set free a yellow scarf
While the sky turned all to gold.

So I chased the last lone star
And pulled the sword from the stone,
Fought a forest of mushrooms
And set the king on his throne.

I sailed across seven seas
On eleven ships that sank;
The tears of parted lovers met
In the salty brew I drank.

I caught a flame red stallion
Made of fire and thunder,
Rode into the lair of thieves
And scattered all their plunder.

The priceless jewels of the age
Became pebbles on the ground,
The Florentine Diamond
Sold for thirteen cents a pound.

I found the Hill of Wisdom
Where dreams grew like flowers,
And hope rained down from heaven
In endless April showers.

I danced through the rain,
A rain of falling roses,
And tiptoed through the valley
Where the giant whale dozes.

In the land of winter snow
I built a castle made of ice,
But when the hot sun came out,
I restored the south wall twice.

Beyond the broken desert
I set that red stallion free,
Bid farewell to the wasteland,
Where my heart will always be.

In the Mountains of Spices
My hands were filled with gold,
I gathered myrrh and saffron,
All my pockets overflowed.

Down again I came to earth,
Riding in an avalanche,
Which melted in red rivers,
And the mountain turned to ash.

The Northern Lights curled blue-green
Through the halls of ancient kings,
Past the vaults of starry gems
I found The End of All Things.

There was nowhere else to go
Where the known land fell away,
Once a thousand years had passed,
The last sunset faded gray.

The mountains came to an end,
The sea left me high and dry,
I leaped into the blue moon,
Trust and faith taught me to fly.

Before I knew where time went
My old hair turned winter white,
Still my paradise was lost,
Eclipsed by solitary flight.

I'd pursued every last dream
That happy chance brought my way,
But when adventures ended
I was left on the highway.

Though I once had everything,
My restless soul yearned to roam,
Now I'd seen the universe,
I just wanted to go home.

I took the few coins I had
And bought a ticket - one-way,
I took the last midnight train
And slept beside the subway.

Night had fallen when I came
To that old familiar door,
Apple pie cooled on the stove,
The table was set for four.

The child slept in the cradle
As I sat beside the hearth,
And picked up the yellowed book
To read tales I'd always heard.

There, at last, I found the place
Beyond the realm of reason
Where marshmallows grow on trees
And snow falls out of season 

Photograph Description And Copyright Information

Photo 1
Portrait of a mother and daughter reading a book
Attributed to Edwin Harris (1855-1906)
painting made in 1903

Photo 2
Bradford Pear Tree
Fair USe Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 3
Boy holding foreign coins on a map
Modeled by Nicholas Cooper
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 4
Photoshopped images of yellow scarf and sky

Photo 5
Photoshopped image of NASA photo attributed and photo of 9 year old boy
Modeled by Caleb Cooper
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 6
Ship Running Around In A Starm
Oil Painting on Canvas
Attributed to Ludolf Backhuysen (12/28/1630 to 11/17/1708)
Public Domain

Photo 7
Blazing Horse wall paper
Free Download
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law 

Photo 8
Florentine Diamond
Public Domain

Photo 9
"April Showers" film clip from "Bambi"
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 10 
Scenes from Moby Dick, also applicable to Jonah and the Big Fish that swallowed him.
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 11
Elsa's Ice Castle From Walt Disney's "Frozen"
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright law

Photo 12
Whistle Jacket
Horse painting in the Romanticism Style 
Attributed to George Stubbs (8/25/1724 to 7/10/1806)

Photo 13 
Jacket cover of "Mountains of Spices"

Photo 14
Glowing lava flow on the coastal plain of Kilauea in Hawaii United States
United Stages Geological Serv.
Public Domain

Photo 15
Northern Lights
Public Domain

Photo 16
Gray Sunset
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 17
Horse leaping into the Moon
Attributed to Christina Lewis, of Lightning Art
Copyright granted by Christina Lewis.

Photo 18
Snow woman
Attribution unknown
Public Domain

Photo 19
Snow on the mountains of Southern California
Attribution unknown
CC BY 3.0

Photo 20
Woman following the rainbow back home
Modeled by Regina Hughes
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper and Regina Hughes

Photo 21
Photoshopped image of painting of train station and woman with rainbow umbrella
Modeled by Regina Hughes
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper and Regina Hughes

Photo 22
Dining room table set for four
Fair Use Under the United States Copyright Law

Photo 23
Little boy reading
Modeled by Caleb Cooper
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper

Photo 24
Little boy in the Marshmallow Tree
Modeled by Caleb Cooper
Copyright by Christal Rice Cooper