Archive for the ‘fictionalized biography’ Tag

HOPE   10 comments

It’s ironic I know, but I am finding hope in the fact that we’ve been here before as a nation. The same problems bug us – different faces – same issues, having led us not to resolutions, but rather to more of the same. Why hopeful? I’ll be darned if I know. It should leave me feeling even more distressed, verging on despair. I guess it’s the fact that the things we live through have meaning only with the perspective of time, so I perceive myself (and you) living in the maelstrom, out of which will come who knows what. And the fact that my father died in bed at age 86. The world had not collapsed entirely during his journey.

OK, let me give that first paragraph some perspective. As I think I have mentioned, I am working on the fictionalized biography of my father, born in 1890, emigrated from Sweden to the United States in 1909. I have several sources to draw on for specific information about him, but I’m also searching sites to give me background on the times in which he lived.

One book that has delighted me with useful, and, in some cases nostalgic, information, is David E. Kyvig’s “Daily Life in the United States: 1920 – 1940.” There’s lots to comment on, but my focus here is the recognition that “Oh my goodness. We’ve been here before.” Weather changes creating financial havoc (the dust bowl). The great depression; the poorest suffering most, long before the fall of the stock market hit the upper percent. Government intrusion into personal life with the Volstead Act, created by the very people who argued against government intrusion.  (In my mind equivalent to the current incursion into people’s reproductive rights by those who argue against government control). The unanticipated negative results of banning alcohol – ie. Rampant law-breaking and mob violence. How interesting to see that which was once part of the culture becoming “illegal.” Was there an element of anti-immigrant sentiment? It apparently did destroy the French restaurant business, for example. Technological advances leading to job loss and ultimate creation of new jobs.

Questions whether this time the period of creating replacement jobs will happen quickly enough to save the middle class.

So, why be hopeful? It’s some crazy twist of my own psychology, I guess. Sometimes I advise folks that it’s better to give up hope than to keep on wishing for that which cannot happen. Maybe that’s it. I’m not ready to give up wishing that things will get better if we keep on trying.



Beijing and the Great Wall   9 comments

Sorry. This trip is dragging out, but the report will soon be over. Not that I was happy for the trip to end. I am really enjoying this opportunity to relive it.

In the meantime, I have excuses for being slow to get back to you. Last weekend I spent taking a course on the use of hypnosis in therapy. I learned a lot by making a lot of mistakes. The best way to learn. I came away inspired to advertise my practice, because I do want to see clients. I think I have something good to offer. But I still won’t affiliate with a managed care group, nor will I do electronic billing. So, people who come to me have to be willing to submit their own statements for insurance reimbursement. Or sometimes we can work out a fee arrangement more attractive to clients.

BUT THEN I got back to working on the fictionalized biography of my father. What fun it is to make discoveries about things that affected his life, like the drafting of his best man who was subsequently killed in action in WW1. First of all, I managed to track him down based on clues from my father’s graduation information from Upsala college. Then I found details of where he lived in Connecticut. It turns out he would probably have registered for the draft on June 5, 1917, a day before my parent’s wedding. Good — and very sad –stuff for fleshing out the story.

This morning I’ve been googling information about the platform and actions of the Democratic and Republican parties to tie my father’s preference for the Republicans to the experiences he had in Sweden and in America. By the way, he wouldn’t have been drafted, because he wasn’t naturalized until 1918.

There’s more. And I look forward to its going into the outline for now and then being written into the story.

So, why the big “BUT THEN” above? To tell the truth, I’m feeling the pressure of time. I’m no longer in my forties, so I can’t just hang out talking about what I want to do. I need to do it. And I want — and plan — to continue traveling. So, must there be a fork in my road? Must I choose the one less traveled? or the busier one? Or can there be lots of stops along the road I’m on? Stay tuned if you wonder along with me.

And now to Beijing and the Great Wall of China.

There are many sites where one can see, enjoy, and climb the Great Wall. Our stop was at Juyongguan. (No, I can’t spell that from memory.). And guess what! We were there in a snowstorm. Do you remember back to when I was practically on the equator in Singapore? Temperature-wise we traveled a long way. Still, the snow was a surprise. Couple the snow with my acrophobia and you won’t be surprised to know that I didn’t climb very far. I did go up this flight of stairs, and even a smidge higher.

Great Wall of China

From there I managed to get this photo of the view from the wall.

View from great wall

See? Snow.

Anything else was beyond me.

Beyond me

So I hung around below, satisfying myself with a photo of where I didn’t climb.

Steps I didn't climb

In fact, I wasn’t alone taking refuge in one of the shops for warmth. Those who did climb higher had a bit of a struggle getting down. The steps are, of course, old, narrow, and uneven, and as the snow accumulated it turned them into a downward slope instead of steps. But all in our group survived to move on to the next stop, which was a jade showroom beneath the restaurant where we’d be having lunch.

We were given a really interesting lecture on the nature and variants of jade, and after lunch we got to roam the showroom. They did have a section of relatively affordable stuff for tourists. I bought a necklace. (Sorry, no photo). Most everything else was extremely costly — and beautiful — as you can see in this photo.

Jade Showroom

Then it was on to lunch above the showroom. The header is a section of the photo of drapes in the window there, just to give a sense of the decor. Our special treat was Peking Duck, preceded by lots of appetizers. I’ve included a photo of the table and the carousel in the middle to demonstrate the Chinese style of service.

As I understand it, all food is served fresh from its preparation, so items are brought out as they are ready. I may have said this before. If so, please excuse me. Anyway, we were told not to take the food off the carousel and pass it. Rather, we were to use the serving utensils — chopsticks and spoons — not one for every dish, but to be shared.

As for the food, I really enjoyed it.

Before Peking Duck

The big attraction was Peking Duck. I have to confess, I found it to be no big deal, perhaps because we had already had so much good food. It’s something every tourist should see, I guess, and I did get a photo of the chef carving the duck into very thin slices to be rolled into a very thin round of bread.

Slicing Peking Duck

The day had been very full already, but there was still one more stop to go. In the area there are 13 tombs from the Ming Dynasty. This is one of them.

Ming Tomb

This day we didn’t head back to the ship, staying overnight instead at the Sheraton Hotel. I didn’t get photos of it, though I wish I had. It was magnificent. The bathroom was extremely luxurious, though lacking somewhat in privacy. On entering the room, and placing our key card in the slot to turn the lights on, the first thing we noticed was a huge section with glass walls. Not exactly very private. We did, however, discover that there was a button to push that lowered the blinds on the outside walls. Built into a corner, it had two entrance doors. Inside there was a glass-walled section for the toilet, another for the shower, and a tub in between the two sections, along with the vanity table. Why all this fuss about the bathroom? Oh my, it was the talk of the elevator on the way down to breakfast in the morning.

There was also a magnificent swimming pool, monitored by a couple of very attractive women at a very stylish desk. We didn’t get to use it, though, because a bathing cap was required. Yes, they did have them on sale, but we decided to forego it.

And so ended our first day in Beijing. I’ll try to get back soon with the next installment.

Remember, you can enlarge any photo by clicking on it.

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