Halloween as a Season

It is October the 1st.  Halloween is coming.  We all know it.  How can we miss it.  Halloween decorations are everywhere.  Ghosts, goblins, decorated pumpkins and witches on brooms confront us in the homes of friends and neighbors.  Halloween decorations are for sale in retail stores and catalogues, right next to Christmas decorations–for a holiday almost three months away.  When did it happen?  I don’t know.  Why did it happen?  I don’t know that either.  Maybe it is a diversion from the economy, wars, and the political season.  Hard to guess.

Ambivalent as I am about this extended season of spooks and goblins, I decided it was timely to share this particularly wicked rendition of a clown. It isn’t necessarily related to Halloween, but it is an appropriate way to begin the month.

As though confused by the seasons, he is decorated with lights.  Ho, ho, ho?  No, no, no!

“Suits Us”–Bodega Bay

The casual life style and nonchalance of Bodega Bay is evidenced by this enchanting–if deteriorated–cottage near the coast in Northern California.  “Suits Us” suggests the relaxed lifestyle of the people who live there.  It is the goal of many who travel there. Who needs elegance when you are minutes from one the world’s beautiful beaches?

May the quality of our lives be determined by the beauty, joy and meaning we find around us rather than the number of dollars we have to spend.

Back In Time–The Dillingham-Lewis Museum

Morgan Vachel Dillingham was born in 1843 to Joshua Robert Dillingham and Susan Jane Walker.  He fought, and was wounded, in the Civil War.  He served with confederate forces.  On his return from the war, he found his family home had been inhabited by the Mock family.  He married Melvina Mock.  The log cabin in which they lived is now located at Missouri Town.

Morgan and Melvina ultimately built the Dillingham home at 15th and Main, in Blue Springs, Missouri.  They owned a general “mercantile” store. He was a bank vice president/president. [1]  His family had a large farm in Eastern Jackson County, Mo. This photograph of the Dillingham family in 1914 identifies a couple, “Ma D and Pa D” presumably Morgan and Melvina.

Morgan and Melvina’s son, David Morgan Dillingham, was born 1873.  He married Mary Estella Spicer in 1898.  Morgan and Melvina built them a home on property adjacent to the Dillingham home.

Known as the Brownfield House, it is where David and Estella raised their family.

David owned a gas station and a store. In January, 1955, David was shot and killed in a botched robbery at his store.

David’s daughter, Margaret, was raised in the Brownfield House. She married Wade Brownfield. They also raised their family in the Brownfield House.

The Brownfield House was sold privately and has been beautifully restored.  The Dillingham House was eventually sold to Narra Lewis who, in 1977, sold the home to the Blue Springs Historical Society. It is now a museum, and also houses the historical society.

The museum has been decorated in period pieces consistent with the styles of the early 1900’s, approximately 100 years ago.

While the furnishings are not original to the home, the interior of the house nonetheless reflects the style of the early 1900’s.  It is lovely, reflecting the graciousness of that time.

The museum is open to the public for only a few hours a week.  It is worth a call to arrange a tour and to glimpse a slice of life in the earliest years of the 20th century.

[1]  Sources are inconsistent as to his role at the bank

Ancient Deities, Familiar Truths

As the world shrinks, we benefit by our willingness to gain an appreciation and respect for the diversity surrounding us.  There is much to be gained by finding common ground with those whose cultures we have never experienced.  I have so much to learn.

Buddhism and Hinduism are both ancient religions with their origins in India. the roots of Hinduism easily extend more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ.  They are cultures both rich and full of meaning.  To my Western understanding, there are similarities between the two religions that might reasonably be compared to the similarities between Jewish and Christian origins, beliefs and traditions.

While Buddhism and Hinduism both recognize many deities, they do not represent separate gods, but rather different manifestations of one God.  Some of these manifestations are quite strange to us; and each of these deities may have multiple roles.  Additionally, some Buddhist deities originate in Hindu traditions:

[1] Ganapati/Ganesha

[2] Vidyaraja

These symbols of their God, however foreign to us, should not deter us from understanding the universal truths which are part of these faiths.  Many of the beliefs of Buddhist and Hindu teachers could come from the mouths of our own spiritual leaders, still others, are worthy of our respect.

Buddhist Quotes:

Three things can not be hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth.  Buddha

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.  Buddha

In this way, all here are the same, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Easterner or Westerner, believer or non-believer, and within believers whether Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and so on.  Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value we are all the same.”    The Dalai Lama [3]        

If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace.  If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.  The Dalai Lama [4]

The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.  Atisha [5]          

Hindu Quotes:

I came to the conclusion long ago…that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold to my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism.  So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu…But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.  Mohandas Gandhi [6]

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. Mohandas Gandhi

 

 
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[1] Ganapati/Ganesha–Ganapati is the Buddhist wealth deity.   Ganesha is the Hindu god of wealth and success
[2] Vidyaraja was apparently a Hindu deity incorporated into Buddhism.  He has many images representing  such attributes as purification of the mind, wrath, protection of believers, eliminating evil.
[3]From Kindness, Clarity and Insight
[4] From the Path to Tranquility
[5] 11th century Tiebetan Buddhist master
[6] Quote similar to quote by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, born 1926 “I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith-so that the Christian becomes a better Christian…”
The opinions in our blog do not represent the opinions of our families, our employers or our friends.  They do from time to time represent our attempts to understand the world around us.  If we are in error in our understandings, we are happy for caring corrections.

Missing Meg

You remember Meg?  My co-author.  That’s right, that Meg.  As the balance of her life has shifted to what seems to be a 24/7 schedule, she has disappeared from our blog. I found these photographs of Meg I took using the color sketch “effect” on my Nikon.

Just my way of assuring her that her presence is missed and that I am glad that she has only “faded away” temporarily.

Love you Meg. I will see you back on “Shifting the Balance” in November, when the balance of your life shifts back to a schedule giving you more time for Jake, Lily, Cousteau and the blog.  You are missed!

The Art of the Wall

In years past, teenagers snuck out at night with paint brushes and spray cans to create what was generally mediocre, if colorful, graffiti under bridges, on vacant buildings and sometimes the sides of churches and schools.

Without question the world of graffiti has changed.  The murals I see on my drives through urban Kansas City are often exquisite works of art that appear to have been the work of artists hired by business owners to create colorful displays on the exteriors of their buildings.  Even the texture of the bricks beneath the designs adds to the visual impact.  It is, in effect, graffiti “grown up”.

When I happen upon a particularly colorful design, I find I alter my route to and from work just to see the art over and over again.  I regret only that I am unable to identify the artist so I could praise them by name on this post.

At least I can honor these urban artists by sharing their creative designs with our friends.  In Kansas City, at least, art finds its form in these creative, incredibly colorful, urban designs.  Aren’t we lucky!

Continuing My Search For Ancestors

Hearing from a possible relative is thrilling.  This is how the message begins:

“Hi Ann, Hearing from a newfound family member is always exciting! . . . You and I would be 2nd cousins by marriage.”

Our possible common ancestor was Conrad/us Kirs/ner, father of my great-grandmother, Catherine Barbara Kischner.  Catherine’s children knew her as “Kate”.  This photograph of Kate was taken shortly before her death, on Dec. 28, 1910.  She was living with her daughter, Anna Landes, in Niagara Falls, NY.  My granddad, Frank C. Mesle, Sr., owned the house next door.Kate may have been born June 16, 1850/7.

Our family history, and the 1910 U.S. Census, are consistent that she was born in Germany.  Sources at Ancestry.com, including my newly connected second cousin, disagree, and believe she was born in Glogon, Austria-Hungary.

Glogon (now Glogonj) is currently part of Serbia. Between the mid-1800’s and the present, Glogon has been part of Austria-Hungary, Hungary, Yugoslavia and, now, Serbia.  It is strategically located between what was, in the 1700 and 1800’s, a buffer area between Christian Austria-Hungary and the Moslem world.  Apparently settlers were given free land to entice them to move there to provide a buffer between the two cultures.  It was certainly a bad bargain. They lived a difficult life at best. Apparently death rarely resulted from old age, but instead from disease, starvation or warfare.  By the late 1800’s there was a massive exodus from Glogon to other areas of Europe and to the U.S.

Selfishly, for me, my probable link to Glogon helps explain my DNA test results, that indicates I have DNA markers for Southern Europe and, perhaps, the Caucasus, near the Black Sea.  Obviously Glogon is located far closer to Italy than to the country I had believed to be her home, Germany.

Kate received a series of letters from her family between 1896 and 1911. All were addressed from Germany.  Each includes some tidbit of news pertinent to the family history.  They are as follows:

Letter from C. Kirsch (probably her brother) dated Jan. 22, 1897 from Ludwigshafen (at the Rhein), to the Kaisers German Consulate in Toronto, Canada: He identifies Barbara Kirsch as his sister, states his father’s third wife “died last year” and that his father, who is very weak, will be 76 in March.  He states that of the “brothers and sisters there are , besides myself: a sister, Elise Fromhold, a widow, who lives in Neckargemund.  Elise was Conrad’s daughter by his first wife, as was Kate. A brother Frederick[1] Kirsch, was a teacher in Sonborn, Elberfeld, of the second wife.

Letter from C. Kirsch dated July 16, 1901, from Ludwigshafen to Barbara Mesle, born Kirsch, in Niagara Falls, NY:  He explained he was sending Barbara her 1/4 share of her father’s estate, 2000 marks, ($478.16).  He identified his eldest daughter as Lenchen, and his son as Fredrick.

Letter from Elisa Fromhold dated July 29, 1907, from Neckargemund: It is addressed to “Dear Sister” and  identified her daughter, Marin, as nurse in Mannheim, another child as Jungfer, who lived in  Durtheim (Durbheim?).

Letter from Elise Fromhold dated August 1, 1911, from Neckargemund: It is addressed “Dear Aunt”(?) and was received by the family several months after Barbara’s death. It identified the author’s children, Dina, Karl, Uncle Konrad and Uncle Friedrich.  I assume, but do not know, that this is from a daughter of Catherine’s sister, also Elisa/e.

The correspondence from a possible cousin, who I have never met, is exciting.  She identified another brother of Kate’s, Josephus Kirschner, born September 8, 1855, in Glogon.  He has long been identified on the margins of my notes as a possible relative. Her ability to give me what may well be another piece of my great-grandmother’s history assists me, piece by piece, to trace the history of my family.

Have a great week.

__________________

Frederick is also the name of one of Kate’s sons

In Honor of our Readers in India and Tibet

Eastern cultures are so rich with history, religious belief, the arts and education.  As a result of Meg’s posts on Natasha’s wedding ceremonies, we have a fair number of readers from India, the Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Indonesia–the list goes on.  We are grateful for your interest in our  blog.

From time to time we would like to share some of the wealth of art and wisdom that originates from cultures other than ours.

A good friend, born Catholic, has spent a lifetime studying Eastern religions and acquiring art, primarily from India and Tibet.  His collection, primarily of Buddhist sacred and less sacred, carvings, fabrics, and decorative objects, surround you throughout his home.  Because he has attempted to capture the environment of a shrine, he uses dim lights and wraps his statues in beads, strings of light, fabric and other symbols of respect.  I will include posts on our blog that include photographs of his collection.

He is not a wealthy man so he is not competing with museums in his acquisitions. That in no way diminishes the beauty of the art.   The cultures reflected in these works are truly to be treasured:

Buddhist (and Hindu) female deities are generally crowned, serene in demeanor and adorned with beads.

Tibet’s fabrics are often ornate and generally rich with color and design.  Tibet clothing can be quite lovely, with ceremonial clothing full of color, intricate design and elaborate headgear. In the West we are fortunate to see examples as banners, wall hangings and prayer flags. Even such examples give us a sense of the beauty of their design.

While I love the beauty displayed from various works of art.  I am grateful for corrections as I stumble with identifying various deities and ornamental items.  Please feel free to correct me or to provide us with additional information.

We wish you well.

Just Mom and Her iPad Camera

Terry, Meg and I first visited Ambergris Caye, Belize, in October, 2003. It was a marvelous trip.  We stayed at a small condominium complex, “The Palms”, near the center of town.  We so loved our experience that we purchased this wonderful, and inexpensive, oil painting depicting the main street running through town.  It accurately depicts Rubie’s Hotel and Ruby’s Cafe, (yes, different spellings), as well as the surrounding buildings.

Because this painting is vivid and colorful on its own, I decided it was a perfect vehicle for checking out the special effects possibilities on my iPad camera.  Who would think modern technology can create such a variety of images.  All it takes is a willingness to explore the possibilities of “Photo Booth” on your iPad–or your Mac–for that matter.  The special effects options run the gamut from “Squeeze” to “X-Ray”.  For these photographs I chose “Squeeze”, “Twirl”, “Kaleidoscope”, and “Light Tunnel”.  Here are the results:

“Squeeze:

“Twirl”:

“Twirl” again:

“Kaleidoscope”:

“Light Tunnel”:

Aren’t they fun.  If you have a Mac of any sort, give it a try!  Happy Saturday.

The Itsy, Bitsy Spider Grows Up

We all remember the song The Itsy, Bitsy Spider.  While I can’t identify the writer of this classic children’s song, Iza Trapani wrote a children’s book by the same name, all about that spider.

I cannot help but believe that if that itsy, bitsy spider had grown up, it would look much like this spider, a bronze sculpture cast in 1997 by the artist, Louise Bourgeois. It sits on the lawn of the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art,  a short walk from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Mid-Town Kansas City.

Behind her, poised on the museum wall, is the “bitsy” version of the Kemper’s Spider.