Going Postal Over Thanksgiving

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In doing some research concerning the history and traditions of our celebration of “Thanksgiving” here in the US, I came across something that really peaked my curiosity. What I found was that a dozen or so countries around the world have issued one or more postage stamps depicting either the “Mayflower” (the ship which the first wave of pilgrims journeyed) and/or honoring those pilgrims in general or individual passengers that landed at Plymouth Rock, Massachusettes on November 21, 1620. (November 11 to those of you using the Julian calendar, as did the pilgrims themselves).

Among those countries, I found stamps issued by: the United States, Bangladesh, Chartonia, Great Britain, Guinea, Isle of Man, Oman, GrenadaUganda, Burkina Faso, Canada, Antigua, Liberia, and more. The question I was not able to find an answer to, is “Why?” Why would any country, other than the US, have any connection to or interest in honoring the Mayflower or those pilgrims?

While the ship did depart from an area of London, England known at the time as “Plymouth”, the pilgrims were fleeing that country due to oppressive (deadly) means of dealing with those who defied the rules of the Catholic Church. They were not government-sponsored explorers or emissaries that Britain could claim bragging rights in the more traditional manner. So had their issuance of such stamps been with the attitude “Thank G-d, we got rid of them buggers! They’re your problem now.”? Or was it simply a matter of commerce in that they saw the US as a great marketplace that they sought to exploit by appealing to our vanity? Me thinks that is the most likely explanation, not only for Britain, for all of the other countries as well. What do you think? And while you’re at it, anyone ever heard of Burkina Faso before? Or am I the only one so ignorant?

Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

The Welcoming Committee

Mayflower Landing at Plymouth RockMayflower Landing at Plymouth Rock (2)

Turkey Feast

Mayflower Landing (3)

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A Summer of Hummingbirds

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First things first. Over this last weekend, I created a new page for this Blog, titled “Hot Links” where I have gathered some of my favorite websites, blogs, and resources on the Internet. While I’ve still kept links already in the right-hand sidebar of my pages, I just had so many more that I wanted to share with my readers – and hope you’ll add to it, too. I’ve kept the links there as text-only to cut down on the loading time. Hop on over there when you get a chance and let me know what you think.

As for the title of this morning’s post, “A Summer of Hummingbirds”, this is the title of a fascinating book I’ve read by author, Christopher Benfey. Published in 2008, it has the intriguing sub-title of “Love, Art, and Scandal in the Intersecting Worlds of Emily DIckinson, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stowe, & Martin Johnson Heade”. Anyone who is a history, sociology, or biography buff will enjoy this easy to read treatise that interweave glimpses of pre and post Civil War American society through the eyes of these famed authors, artists. Their lives not only touch each other in unexpected ways but Benfey has managed to reveal insight into these personalities, the influences upon them and the imprint they left for future generations without resorting to heavy-handed background detail or moralistic commentary that historians and biographers often fall prey to. The central theme of hummingbirds not only runs through the lives of the central characters, it is a theme which those characters and this book’s author view[ed] as an allegory for the entire era that saw the social fabric of America (and much of the world, as well) brought into question and literally torn apart. Suddenly, the “younger generation” growing up in the 1840’s began to question and discard the old traditions and attitudes of their parents regarding the concepts of nature, religion, sexuality, family, time, eroticism, and beauty. Not being familiar in the least with anything to do with Hummingbirds, despite having enjoyed Dickinson, Twain, Stowe and Heade for years, I had never picked up on this common thread between them much less recognized that every one of them had been drawn to this species and beheld it as a symbol in their works where the bird was never just a bird.

So whether you’re into history, sociology, biography, birding, the US, or Brazil (which was not only a newly sovereign nation back then but it’s Amazon River and Rainforest serves as home to the world’s largest population of Hummingbirds), this is a book I’m sure you’ll take pleasure in. You can buy it here.

Of course, how can I not offer with this review a selection of Hummingbird art? Enjoy!

Free Clip-Art / Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

Hummingbird 3

Hummingbird & Flower 2

Hummingbird 4Hummingbird

Hummingbird & Flower

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Off With Their Heads!

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Have you been watching the Showtime® series “The Tudors” at all? Our son, Robby, got us hooked on it, so every night Hubby and I flip on the “On Demand” channel and watch another episode right after dinner. We’re both history buffs but had never really concentrated on this period at all (early to mid-1500’s). I had actually stayed away from it intentionally, convinced that it was just too gruesome and barbaric for me to handle, wimp that I am when it comes to violence. (or more politely put, “pacifist” that I am…). Well, as you all may already know, the reign of King Henry VIII was indeed both gruesome and barbaric. At the same time, the writers, actors, director, producers, etc. that put together this series have succeeded in so fully developing each of the characters in such depth that it transcends the initial revulsion and in turn becomes an incredibly character study of these historic figures.

The Tudor’s television series has stirred up my pre-existing fascination with people who on one hand can give the appearance of great tenderness and caring and passionate beliefs and loyalties yet are in fact, completely self-centered, manipulative, amoral shells who will stop at nothing to get their way no matter how petty the basis for their desires may be and no matter who may be harmed or destroyed as a result. It is bad enough having to deal with one who is a Malignant Narcissist when that person is just a so-called “ordinary” person in your life – but to have such people in charge of your country and your church where they are free to exert such complete, unrestrained power over everyone’s life without any clear earthly consequence (for them), is terrifying. I have a hard time imagining what it feels like inside to be such a person. I could not live with myself if I were to do such cruel and arbitrary things to another human being no matter how much I may dislike a person, but my psychologist tells me that people such as Henry VIII, generally sleep just fine at night because they are convinced that they have done nothing wrong. I’ll take his word for it but it’s just so difficult to truly fathom.

Well, despite all of horrors of King Henry VIII’s reign, which this series portrays just as much of the gore as is necessary without glorifying it or making it a focal point, I do highly recommend watching “The Tudor’s”. On top of the depth of the production, the actors are all well cast and excellent, the costumes are incredible, the lighting and set-design very authentic, and I just love the theme music.

As for this early morning’s offering of images for use as icons or clip art, there is no Tudor tie-in (sorry, maybe I'll do that sometime in the future). What I do have for you though is an updated version of one of my older icon series (created in 2004), that was entitled “Melamine”. The original is still available through a link on my Scrapblog. This updated version, “Neue Melamine” is not only larger (512×512 px vs 128×128) but has a few other enhancements to the images as well. For those who think that anything with the look of plastic or 3D-gloss is out-dated and undesirable – you probably won’t be happy with this set. Personally, I still like the look as it is very easy for my old chemo-ravaged eyes to decipher at a quick glance. So for those of you who appreciate this aspect, Enjoy!

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). As always, usage of any of the images offered on this blog are free for your personal use while subject to the limitations of my Creative Commons Non-Commercial – Attribution – No Derivatives – Share Alike- 3.0 license. (See sidebar for details)

NM_TB-Finder

NM_TrashNM_Trash-Full

NM_TB-Home

NM_TB-BurnNM_TB-Delete

NM_TB-Computer

NM_TB-infoNM_TB-Connect

“NEUE MELAMINE” —- TO BE CONTINUED… —-

The “Real” Hemingway – Or Not.

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Tonight I’m concluding my series of images that celebrate a tiny slice of the passions and achievements of Ernest Hemingway. More than half a century after his death, the appeal of this enigmatic macho-man continues to grow and remain relevant due to the eloquence of Hemingway’s prose and universality of his characters thrust into a rapidly changing world where conventional values, relationships and expectations no longer have meaning and tomorrow is the ultimate unknown, all woven together with exotic locations and varied adventures and all with the core theme of man as an individual and the compulsion to seek challenges to triumph over himself and his environment. From the point of view of characters dealing with the reality of living in the eye of the storm, life is at once thrilling, horrifying, compelling, alienating, inspiring, depressing, life-affirming, destructive, ancient, modern and seductive. But in winding up this series, I’d like to address an issue I feel rather passionate about: the perpetuation of bias and hatred against people due to the race, religion, or sexual orientation and a rarely used tool to help combat it.

Much has been written about Ernest Hemingway, the “Man’s Man”, full of bravado, machismo and courage. Not the least to have extolled and claimed these qualities was Ernie himself. Yet in the past 10 years (fifty years after his death) there has been a new focus by certain theorists cum biographers/scholars who have steered the conversation away from two-dimensional character portrayed in the popular media to reexamine the softer side of the man. While such attempts to discover the “real” man behind the myth are laudable, because these publications were released shortly after the tragic death of Hemingway’s youngest child, the scholarly value of such books or essays as Ernest Hemingway: Machismo and Masochism” and Hemingway’s Masochism, Sodomy, and the Dominant Woman”, both by Richard Fantina, “A Matter of Love or Death: Hemingway’s Developing Psychosexuality in For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Marc Hewson, and “Hemingway’s Quarrel with Androgyny” by Mark Spilka, strike me a less than certain.

Editor’s Note — My concern is in large part due to the very public revelation that the 69-year-old woman who died of natural causes while incarcerated in a Miami Florida women’s jail for indecent exposure was in fact Gregory Hemingway, the youngest son of author Ernest Hemingway who had just 3 years earlier undergone a sex-change operation.

It is unknown to me whether the research and conclusions about Ernest expounded by such works were initiated due to their author’s knowledge of Gigs Hemingway’s “secret”, or evolved independent of such knowledge, and/or whether the publisher’s release date was intentionally timed to capitalize on the tragedy, or whether the close proximity of the release date to that intensely personal family tragedy was instead just a reflection of the Publisher’s gross insensitivity to the Hemingway family, to the Gay-Lesbian-Bisexual-Transgender community, and to the scholarly reputations of these authors. But regardless of the true circumstances, it strikes me as hard to deny the potential cloud placed over the credibility of the author’s conclusions about the inner-life of Ernest Hemingway nor the potential harm to the G.L.B.T. community as a result of feeding into the already existing misperception of the general public who not only consider such people as “freaks” or worse yet, as “sinners” but who either overly believe or inwardly fear that homosexuality, trans-genderism, as well as any other “non-standard” sexual preference is not only a “disease” but one which can be “caught” by an innocent bystander and therefore must be protected against by ostracizing and punishing the “victims”.

Of course, biographers and scholars are not responsible for the biology, psychology or circumstances of the person(s) about whom they are writing and the farther a biography or critical analysis strays from the facts and reality of their subject’s life the less credible their treatises become. So the dilemma for them and their publishers becomes:

  1. How to ensure your analysis of a deceased person’s psychological make-up doesn’t get tainted or inappropriately influenced by a combination of the biology, psychology and circumstances of the lives of other deceased persons and, perhaps, your own personal cultural biases?; and
  2. How can you (as author or publisher) help prevent your readers from using your analysis about one specific person as confirmation of their own pre-existing bias’ applied to an entire category of people?

Unfortunately, I have no sure-fire answer as to how to prevent the initial bias but certainly having Editors and Publishers as alert to such weaknesses as they are to grammatical errors and typography should catch it at the gate. On the latter question, to those of you who may presume that anyone intellectually smart enough to even be interested in reading such publications are also culturally intelligent enough not to misinterpret them, I ask that you simply consider the evidence that intellect does not necessarily correlate equally to cross-cultural understanding or empathy (for example: Thomas Jefferson was intellectually brilliant yet owned many slaves, Richard Wagner was a genius composer yet was stridently anti-semitic). And to those of you who may feel it is unfair to even ask biographers, scholars, essayists, and journalists take such questions into serious consideration before they finalize and release their efforts to the public, I ask that you reflect upon the fact that if the skills of these authors are such as to create compelling enough material that not only attracts many readers but presents their theories in such an effective manner that convinces their readers to accept those theories, then in situations where there is a reasonably perceivable risk of faulty conclusions and abuses of their tomes, doesn’t it make sense to ask these writers to use their considerable skills to complete the circle of education by expressly pointing out what are or are not valid applications of their theories beyond their specific subject while they still have their reader’s attention? And wouldn’t this create even greater value to their works and benefits to society?

It’s something to think about at least.

And now, for the lighter side of tonight’s post, I present you with 3 different 1920×1200 px-sized pictures created specifically to coordinate with my Hemingway Series of images, suitable for use either as a background for your desktop, scrapbook page, or ….? -Enjoy!

Free Desktop Pix of the Day

The following images are reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 1024px X 768px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

Hemingway-San-Fermin

Hemingway KenyaGold-Screen

Hemingway Havana-Screen

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Hemingway, Part 2

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It is late and I am tired and, more importantly I think I’m keeping me Hubby up as he sleeps beside me and my trusty laptop… So I’m going to make tonight’s post a quick one by sharing with you some of my most favorite quotes out of the mouth (or typewriter) of Ernest Hemingway. Some of these are simply clever but the rest are the kind that make you want to reflect on them for a while and as you turn them around in your thoughts, different facets jump out at you and you realize that, Ernie, was not as “simple” as he claimed to be…

“Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, American Author & Journalist, from his novel “The Old Man and the Sea” (1952)

“You make your own luck, Gig. You know what makes a good loser? Practice.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, Speaking to his son Gregory, as quoted in Papa, a Personal Memoir (1976) Gregory H. Hemingway

“War is no longer made by simply analysed economic forces if it ever was. War is made or planned now by individual men, demagogues and dictators who play on the patriotism of their people to mislead them into a belief in the great fallacy of war when all their vaunted reforms have failed to satisfy the people they misruled. “
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, “Notes on the Next War: A Serious Topical Letter” first published in Esquire (September 1935)

“Today is only one day in all the days that will ever be. But what will happen in all the other days that ever come can depend on what you do today.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1940)

“For a true writer each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, Nobel Prize Speech Delivered from Hemingway’s notes by US Ambassador John C. Cabot (1954) Full Text

“The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in, shock-proof, shit detector. This is the writer’s radar and all great writers have had it.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, from an interview of Ernest by George Plimpton in the Paris Review Issue 18 (Spring 1958); later published in Writers at Work, Second Series (1963)

(Courage is) “Grace under pressure”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, Hemingway’s definition of “guts” as recounted by Dorothy Parker in the New Yorker (30 November 1929)

“There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave.”
– Ernest Hemingway, 1899-1961, “Death in the Afternoon” (1932)

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

Running-with-the-Bulls

Public-Matador Bull

Feria-Del-Toro

Wooden-File-Box Ready-to-Write

1stOffice-Documents2

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OH BOY! A New Multi-Part Icon/Clip-Art Series – ‘Hemingway’

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Tonight This morning! I am introducing the first installment of a multi-part series of images (suitable for either icons or clip art) entitled “Hemingway”. For those of you who’ve viewed my Scrapblogs you are probably familiar with my Hemingway series originally created 3 or 4 years ago. This new series combines several brand new images along with revised versions of the old series. All images from this new series are 512x512px .png images in order to make them accessible for everyone whereas I had only released the old set as 128×128 px .icns.

IconDoIt’s Hemingway Series of images celebrates a tiny slice of the passions & achievements of Ernest Hemingway. More than half a century after his death, the appeal of this enigmatic “Man’s Man” continues to grow and remain relevant due to the eloquence of Hemingway’s prose and universality of his characters thrust into a rapidly changing world where conventional values, relationships and expectations no longer have meaning and tomorrow is the ultimate unknown, all woven together with exotic locations and varied adventures and all with the core theme man as an individual and the compulsion to seek challenges to triumph over himself and his environment. From the point of view of characters dealing with the reality of living in the eye of the storm, life is at once thrilling, horrifying, compelling, alienating, inspiring, depressing, life-affirming, destructive, ancient, modern and seductive.

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

spiral-Hemingway_512 Hemingway_ReadMe_512

Marlin-At-Sea

Ernie's-Safari FileCabinet_512

Killmangaro-pix

cigar-set Hemingway-Lifesaver-Diego

Hemingway_Finder

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Love, Love Me Do

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Is Valentine’s Day just for Lovers? Is it just for the the young or the single? Singles? That is what the Greeting Card publishers, Songwriters, Poets, Florists and Chocolatiers seem to suggest. I have my own thoughts about how this holiday may best be celebrated but thought that I would do some research into the history of Valentine’s Day, fully expecting to find some deeper meaning as in an all-encompassing love for mankind. If that ever was the central message of St. Valentine’s life or of the Catholic Church in declaring this Holy Day, it appears that no one really knows! Stranger still is that there is apparently great dissension among historians (both in and out of the Church) as to which St. Valentine that February 14 is intended to celebrate! Did you know that there are at least 3 different saints named Valentine or Valentinus? Apparently, numerous legends and theories abound about the who, what, when, and why concerning the origin of this holiday. But the one thing they all seem to have in common is that the Greeting Card companies got it right and that Valentine’s Day is solely intended to celebrate Romantic Love.

Still, it’s a wonderful opportunity to remember to give our love, our compassion, our forgiveness and our patience to all who’s paths cross ours on this day and on all days for that is the only pathway to peace, within ourselves and within our world.

The more I think about it, the more I realize there is nothing more artistic than to love others. – Vincent Van Gogh

Free Icons of the Day

The following images are either full or reduced size previews. Simply right-click (or control-click) on the preview to save the image(s) of your choice to your desktop. (Unless otherwise noted, downloads are 512px X 512px in .png format). Create Commons license applies (see sidebar for details)

Beribboned

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