Thursday, December 31, 2015

Gone and sort of Forgotten

Happy New Year to all!! Enjoy the strains of Auld Lang Syne played by Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians. To this day, the sounds of Guy's band with the exaggerated saxophone vibrato mean New Year's Eve to many people all around the world.

Lombardo had quite a career selling an estimated 100 - 300 million records during his heyday. He was born in London, Ontario, Canada and was revered there - a kind of hometown celebrity/hero. He left Ontario when barely out of this teens with his band and went back only rarely to Canada. There was a Guy Lombardo museum in London for many years, but it closed in 2007, 30 years after Guy's death.

Lombardo's nieces and nephews have a large collection of artifacts including the band's first paycheck from 1918. They've tried to donate the collection to various museums and universities but there are no takers.  Imagine that!!

Despite the fact that Guy had 140 hits including 21, #1 hits, he's been all but forgotten! Except for New Year's Eve when people like me look him up on Wikipedia, listen to that distinctive band sound and wax nostalgic. Linda, remember those wild parties when we rented hotel rooms and stayed up almost all night...???

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Christmas 2015

We're usually out of the country at Christmas, but this year our late travel schedule got us home in time for the holiday. The drive up to Benicia to visit Richard's brother, split into two days, is fairly easy; we were ahead of the big traffic jams. 

Grapevine sky

Jan and Doug celebrate a traditional Christmas replete with legacy ornaments on the tree and stockings on the chimney.
 Most of the ornaments are handmade and laden with memories of Christmases past.

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.

Everyone came over Christmas day for lunch and presents.
Nephew Bill

Niece Joey.

The grand nephews have become little gentlemen. Both have great manners and very loving temperaments. 

Grand niece Colette, multi-talented and sweet.

Doug, Jan and the Grandkids. 

We didn't get to celebrate with the Flip side of the family this year, but as you can see they
had a great time and someone got a selfie stick as a present.

A good time was had by all.

While looking for old Christmas pictures to add here,  I this one of Eilleen, my sister, and me on Christmas morning.

Then I found a letter I wrote to Santa Claus when I was in second grade, so the year would be 1949. I didn't get the requested skates until at least a year later. The ink on the letter was green and I think we used fountain pens at home. At school we were still using pen nibs and an inkwell.
Dear Santa Claus. I would like a Barbara Ann Scott doll. She is a very pretty doll. She is a living person. Bright hair and skates and a lovely red dress with fur at the hands and neck. 

I should have quit right there and squeezed a respectful salutation into the space at the bottom. Like,Your faithful servant,  or....Yours humbly, or to lay it on a little thicker (after all this is Santa Claus we're talking about)Yours in eternal admiration,   

A girl in the romm that i am in has a Barbara ann Scott doll thats where I got how she looks like. I hope you can get me one they are nice dolls. I amm in grade two. my sister is in grade seven. I have a long way to cath up with her. She can sing very well. I hope i learn to sing like her. She pested her father and got then. Eilleen is my sisters name Jill is my mothers name Joe is my fathers name, and Helen is my name. When I put my sister pested her father for her I forgot to put what they were they were fancy skats I would like them to and I want skats for christmas. The is the longest letter I ever wrote I made mistakes because mummy made mistakes tell me how to spell the word and I do not no just now for..

In the final page I'm blaming my mother for my errors (no wonder I didn't get the skates)
and trying to craft a big exit with a joke for Santa. Isn't it hilarious??? Santa must have been floored by my sense of humor. HA,HA,HA..the potatoe (the Dan Quayle spelling) was cold.
once she got the word right What do you call the names of the elefes down at the north poll? I do not know all the names of your rain deers just a few. there is lots of silly questions there is a man picked a potatoe out of a fire and droped it out the ground and said it was very cold. Helen Killeen, 1251 Dominion Street

Actually, I can still remember a few of those second grade jokes...they were mostly "Little Moron" humor....
"Why did the little moron salute the refrigerator?" Because it was a General Electric. HAHAHAHA

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

More Gambia Fishing Boats

Photos treated in Mobile Monet...not sure yet if I like them. 


The Orlando Towers are a landmark for Soweto. One tower's space can be purchased for advertising. The other is the largest mural in S. Africa. 
Nearly 2 million people live in Soweto....80 of them are white according to our guide, Agnes. She drove us through the township where we saw how many of the people live with little plumbing ( one water tap per 500 people in some areas) - or electricity. Apartheid policies dating back to the early 1900's forced blacks out of Johannesburg and out into the surrounding areas, Soweto being one of the largest. Everything seemed to get worse and worse; the more the government tried to control everyone, the more new problems they created. In the Apartheid museum, we read about the Shebeens which were really speakeasies, but the word has Irish roots. They say it derived from the Irish word "sibin" meaning illicit whiskey. At one point, the African people were denied the right to consumer liquor unless they could prove they had passed 10 years of schooling and then they could apply for a permit for no more than 6 bottles of beer and one bottle of spirits per month. Everybody drank anyway in the Shebeens. The alcohol was brewed and distilled by women known as Shebeen Queens. Now the Shebeens are legal and provide something akin to the juke joints of the American
south and tourists like to visit them. Magnets for local talent and culture, Kwaito music was born in Shebeens. American rappers compare it to slowed down garage music.

Some areas of Soweto are fairly affluent...the Orlando area is where Mandela and Bishop Tutu lived, both on the same street -  Vilakazi street, the only one in the world where two Nobel laureates resided. Around the area, a thriving tourist industry has sprung up attracted mainly by the Mandela House.
In the courtyard of the Mandela House.

In the Mandela House, Winnie ironing. 

Cartoon in the Mandela House. 

We saw gumboot dancers on every corner strutting their stuff. The gumboot dance originated in the gold mines where Africans from all over the continent worked together and spoke hundreds of different languages. They evolved a form of code executed by tapping and stomping their boots to communicate down in the dark tunnels. Here's one example from youtube. 


Kliptown is an area within Soweto, home to about 44,000 people who have little access to education, no hospitals or health clinics. 70% are unemployed, the HIV/AIDS rate is 25%. KYP was formed by Kliptown youth who managed to get an education but had little to do. They decided to begin helping themselves and in 8 years have developed a vibrant educational/motivational program with many successes racking up. Their goal is through education to lead youth out of the mindset of victimhood and a handout mentality into self motivation and empowerment. 
Posing with one of the Kliptown directors.
Agnes and her husband are staunch supporters of the Kliptown project and bring their tourists by to see how well the youth are doing and to spread the word. Here's Agnes with a darling little girl who loves her madly.
One of the homes...mostly they're corrugated and awful. This partcular one is used to show tourists how they live. It's one of the better looking shacks...painted and clean.
It's not a pretty picture and it goes on for miles and miles. People were purchasing live chickens for the holidays and carrying them around. Fried chicken is hugely popular (no, not a stereotype - it's a simple fact) -  and a freshly killed chicken is the very best fryer. We noticed long lines outside of every KFC; there are 800 of them in South Africa. 

Some homes have appliances but electricity is sporadic at best, so the microwave and stove are used for storage. 
The water taps are always in use - 24/7.

Proud kids bringing report cards to the project leadership office. This was very uplifting to see..the kids are jostling each other to get attention for their good grades. Doesn't all motivation start with this simple idea - having someone to please, someone to be encouraging, someone to show you a way you can crawl out of hopelessness?

Bright terrific kids full of potential.

A few favorite photos 2015

I guess I've fallen a little behind. I posted this on New Year's day and then took it back to add more. Well, that never happened so I'm re-posting it now.

Cashew's first birthday party.

Cape Verde with Steve, Josh and guides. 

Lawry's  reunion party at Shari's.

Richard and Rowan.
Nadia, our girl with the pearl in Iran.

Ishtafan bridge. partner Wanda in the ANA support group moving on to bigger things. 

ZouZou kissing a llama in Peru.

Lion in Aguila game reserve near Cape Town, SA

Richard in flight over the Skeleton Coast, Namibia.

One of the countless beautiful faces in Africa