Sunday, September 25, 2011

Until we extend our circle of compassion

to all living things, humanity will not find peace. ~Albert Schweitzer

A little different twist for the blog this week. Every now and then we need to pause and remember it is not about the "stuff." Sometimes a human interest story catches me more than a piece of McCoy pottery or a bakelite bracelet. I have been following on Facebook the story of Jack the Cat who was "lost" by American Airlines a month ago today (August 25). A little background from the story on the FB site...Jack The Cat was rescued from the NYCACC by Karen Pascoe several years ago (along with Barry, who has become his brother). After 22 years of living in NYC, Karen got a great new job offer in California, and decided that it was time for her and the boys to go out west. And so the story begins...

Karen, Jack and Barry were supposed to take flight 177 on 8/25/11. Jack was in his kennel along with the other cat Barry. They cleared security and Karen said goodbye to them as the American Airlines handler was putting the plastic ties around the kennel door.

Karen went back to the passenger area to get something to eat. She received a call at 6:04 pm from an American Airlines employee letting her know that one of her cats was missing. Now, in my mind, I am thinking that although cats are bright, they would have a difficult time getting the carrier open since they all seal from the outside.

Initially, American Airlines was concerned, but as the weeks pass, it seems as if they have tuned out. Of course, you always get the responses on comment boards that it is just a cat...but those of us who are animal lovers know better.

What fascinated me was how quickly thousands of strangers came together to show support and compassion for this little cat. Would it be that easy for our leaders to do the same!If you are interested in following the story, it is on Facebook under Jack-The-Cat-is-Lost-in-AA-Baggage-at-JFK.

Authors like cats because they are such quiet, lovable, wise creatures, and cats like authors for the same reasons. ~Robertson Davies

Sunday, September 18, 2011

"Find yourself a cup;

the teapot is behind you. Now tell me about hundreds of things. ~Saki
I bought a stash of teapots at auction the other night. Of course, it got me thinking about tea. A little research pproduced some fascinating information. Tea is among the world’s oldest and most revered beverages. It is today’s most popular beverage in the world, next to water. The word “tea” was derived from ancient Chinese dialects. Such words as “Tchai,” “"Cha,” and “Tay” were used to describe the tea leaf as well as the beverage.

Tea drinking has long been an important aspect of Chinese culture. A Chinese saying identifies the seven basic daily necessities as fuel, rice, oil, salt, soy sauce, vinegar, and tea. According to Chinese legend, tea was invented accidentally by the Chinese Emperor Shen Nong in 2737 B.C. Emperor Shen Nong was a scholar and herbalist, as well as a creative scientist and patron of the arts. (Wouldn't we love to have those kinds of people in today's culture?)

The emperor believed that drinking boiled water contributed to good health. By his decree, his subjects and servants had to boil their water before drinking it as a hygiene precaution. On one summer day while he was visiting a distant region, he and his entourage stopped to rest. The servants began to boil water for the skilled ruler and his subjects to drink.Dried leaves from a nearby camellia bush fell into the boiling water. The emperor was interested in the new liquid because it had a pleasing aroma in this new brew interested the emperor, so he drank the infusion and discovered that it was very refreshing and had a delightful flavor. He declared that tea gives vigor to the body, thus. That was when tea was invented, but it was considered as a medicinal beverage. It was around 300 A.D. when, tea became a daily drink.

Teapots usually have an opening with a lid at their top, where the tea and water are added, a handle for holding by hand and a spout through which the tea is served. Some teapots have a strainer built-in on the inner edge of spout. A small hole in the lid is necessary for air access inside to stop the spout from dripping and splashing when tea is poured.
Early teapots are small by western standards because they are generally designed for a single drinker and the Chinese historically drank the tea directly from the spout. The size reflects the importance of serving small portions each time so that the flavours can be better concentrated.At the end 17th century tea was shipped from China to Europe as part of the export of exotic spices and luxury goods. (And you thought Chinese imports were new!) The ships that brought the tea also carried porcelain teapots. The majority of these teapots were painted in blue and white underglaze. The porcelain withstood sea water without damage so the teapots were packed below deck, and the tea stayed on top in the dry quarters.Tea drinking in Europe was initially the preserve of the upper classes since it was very expensive. Porcelain teapots were particularly desirable because porcelain could not be made in Europe at that time. It wasn't until 1708 that Ehrenfried Walther von Tschirnhaus devised a way of making porcelain in Dresden, Germany, and started the Meissen factory in 1710. When European potteries began to make their own tea wares, they were naturally inspired by the Chinese designs.

And so as Willaim Gladstone (19th century Brit Prime Minister) said:

"If you are cold, tea will warm you;
if you are too heated; it will cool you;
if you are depressed, it will cheer you;
if you are exhausted, it will calm you."

Sunday, September 11, 2011

“Pleasure is the flower that passes;

remembrance, the lasting perfume”
~Jean de Boufflers

It has been over a year since my best friend and I went down to "ground zero." I thought it was only fitting to spend today with some of those photos. I was captivated by the small church that would have been dwarfed by these towers.
Opened in 1766, St. Paul's Chapel is Manhattan's oldest public building in continuous use - a place where George Washington worshiped and 9/11 recovery workers received round-the-clock care.
While the church's organ was badly damaged by smoke and dirt, the organ has been refurbished and is in use again, and you can see how close it was to "ground zero" (where the orange webbing is).For eight months after the attacks, St. Paul's Chapel served as home to a volunteer relief effort, "becoming a place of renewal and inspiration for Ground Zero's physically and spiritually weary," a Trinity Church press release said.

As someone who sells pieces of the past, not just for money but for remembrances, I am always touched by displays/collections that people create to connect to the past.

These are patches from first responders and rescue personnel from all over the world. This is called "Healing Hearts and Minds", which consists of a policeman's uniform covered with police and firefighter patches sent from all over the country and the world. An altar displays the photos of those who were lost on that day...

The chapel has been turned into a museum, and, although I did take some pictures, I felt uncomfortable. Sometimes things just need to be part of a personal memory.

A pilgrimage is not about the souvenirs...

Ouside though I loved this bell the British gave us...
The bell will ring 8:46 AM in remembrance of the victims, the Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector of Trinity Wall Street, will ring the Bell of Hope in the pattern of the four-fives, the firefighters’ salute to the fallen. It will ring again as part of an Interfaith Ringing at 7:14 PM. Rev. Dr. James H. Cooper, Rector of Trinity Wall Street, Rabbi Peter J. Rubinstein, Senior Rabbi of Central Synagogue, and Imam Al-Hajj Talib 'Abdur-Rashid of The Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood, will ring the Bell.

Beginning in 2002, family members who lost loved ones in the attacks and support groups began to seek a forward-looking tribute to honor the sacrifice of those who were lost and pay tribute to those who rose in service in response to the tragedy.

By encouraging Americans to participate in service and remembrance activities on the 9/11 anniversary, family members wanted to provide a productive and respectful way to honor those who perished and rekindle the spirit of unity and compassion that swept our nation after 9/11 to help meet the challenges we face today. It is strange that we have become so polarized over the past years...they not only brought down the towers, but it seems they also brought down our ability to work together. We can have differing views, but we had always found common ground...that was hijacked with those planes.Because of their efforts to build support for this idea, September 11 has been designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance. The September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance was established into law by the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act in 2009 and is consistent with President Obama’s overall call to service, United We Serve. So, as the sun sets today, remember, as Anne Frank said, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Choose a job you love,

and you will never have to work a day in your life.
~ Confucius

Happy Labor Day weekend...for those of us in the shore communities, it is the "official" end of the season. Here summer does translate to jobs. Jobs...the buzz word for the U.S. economy. I try to supplement the vintage/antique in the store with products made in the U.S.A., and I attempt to find the artisan who is not a big production company. I know these people are doing what they love...

These sweet little pillows come from a woman in Iowa.
Halloween is going to be fun with these handcrafted bags, tag, and cards.

In previous weeks I have featured soap from New Hampshire, origami from California, wreaths from Chicago, and stamped spoons from New Jersey.So many retailers have to depend on China for their inventory, but I read a report from NPR that less than 3 percent of personal spending in the U.S. goes to China.

We buy a lot of cheap stuff from China so we notice the volume of stuff, but not the fact that it accounts for a small chunk of our overall spending. The article also considered food, health costs, housing, and durable goods like cars and furniture. Companies in China produce about 80 percent of the world’s wheat gluten, common in most breads, cakes and cookies, and 80 percent of its sorbic acid, a preservative used in just about everything.

Chuckled over this line: "The classic capitalist board game Monopoly still qualifies, though with a caveat. 'Made in the USA with dice and tokens made in China,' the box reads."

There is a book called A Year Without Made in China.She discusses how difficult not to mention expensive it was to try to eliminate Chinese products. In an interview, she said that she learned "that we are so closely connected to the rest of the world for what we want and need. And as you know from reading the book, sometimes there's ambivalence about that, but there's also big part in me that likes that and wants to embrace our connections with the rest of the world. So I found it very satisfying, I guess, to find out how connected I am to this big, fuzzy concept to the global economy."

It seems that Americans innovate, but Chinese manufacture. The middle class made up the manufacturing class in America...we have lost that...I try to find the artist crafting in a spare bedroom or in a studio. It is difficult for them to compete with Chinese products because Americans have been turned on to cheap product. Look at antiques...produced in America by Americans...where are the McCoy potteries of today?
From 1948 until 2010 the United States' unemployment rate averaged 5.70 percent reaching an historical high of 10.80 percent in November of 1982 and a record low of 2.50 percent in May of 1953. (Note how unemployment was high during the 1980s global recession and greed grab like today's times...and how it was super low in the 50s as we built roads, bridges, infrastructure?)

But, I must confess that I do love something that was made in China ...granddaughter Paige...
Still I like my jewelry elf's creations...
and it seems the magazines provide ideas and highlight the work of others who are trying to survive in the new economy. Thank goodness there are still printed words and pictures!

So, perhaps on this Labor Day when the unemployment rate in the United States is at 9.1 percent, we can appreciate why writer bell hooks wrote: "Work makes life sweet".