As evening fell, a maiden stood
At the edge of a wood.
In her hands lay the reins
Of a stallion.
And ne'er I'd seen a girl as fair,
Heard a gentler voice anywhere.
Whispered, "Alas..."
She belonged, belonged to another--
Another forever.
Yes, she belonged to
the twilight and mist.

-- Song from Legends of the Fall (1994)
-- Lyrics by Brock Walsh
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wikilogo.pngWikipedia is a fantastic resource for quasi-reliable information, but it's even better as a vehicle for time wasting coupled with random education.  I'm sure that by now we've all played the game...

1) Choose something to look up on Wikipedia.


2) From that page, choose a link within the article at random.


3) Read some, most, or all of that new article before repeating Step 2.

 

Out of this roundabout journey, an explorer can find herself learning all sorts of new stuff.

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addunk.jpgWhen whispers of the rise of Hitler were born deep in the desolate heart of Germany, they rose to the surface only slowly, aided by the rediscovered "patriotism" in the hearts and minds of post-WWI society.

Early in the 1930s, young Adolph Hitler was a gem in the sunken crown of Germany's government. His voice was the first commanding, positive sound the impecunious, hungry, pessimistic people had heard since their defeat more than a decade prior. And as the energetic, ambitious leader took control of more and more power, the contagion that was his message took hold on the weak populace.

A world away, Americans could barely hear the far off echoes of tiny avalanches on The Continent. Rumors came by way of radio, newspapers and, above all, letters from friends and family overseas. Being a country of immigrants, almost everyone located in the United States in the 1930s had some relatives in Germany, France, Poland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Denmark, Holland, Sweden, Russia.

In the beginning, when news was slowest, people were loathe to condemn a move by the heretofore isolated German people to reclaim their former place among the world's great nations. Hitler was just another politician with a dream. The Great Depression had Americans, as well as peoples worldwide, in a death grip. Our President was distracted by the poverty and the public outcries for support. After all, the Germans had no money, no military, no allies. How much trouble could this fallen country really cause?
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21gs.jpgToday we honor our veterans, both dead and living, who have served in every war or conflict in which the United States has held a stake.  Both of my grandfathers and both of my grandfathers-in-law served in WWII.  My brothers, Ted and Curtis, are each in service to our military today, along with several of Jonathan's cousins.  I dedicate this entry to them.

I wake up in the morning and shower and drive to work.  I sell insurance.  I partake in hobbies and leisure activities.  Then I come home to share a hearth and a table and a bed with my husband, a man who also works on behalf of our nation's security.  I am like so many blessed people.  Freedom laces each of my personal moments.

I choose to drink a Diet Coke before 9:00 am.  I choose to take riding lessons at a local equestrian center.  I choose to attend a movie with my best friend on a Monday night.  I choose to worship God, travel the world, drive a car.  Every one of these choices is sacred in a sense, especially considering that there are those in the world today who are denied any and all of these things, and especially considering that there are thousands who have died in the pursuit of the preservation of these freedoms, petty or important as the case may be.

To me, Veteran's Day is the perfect time to begin an entire season of acknowledgment and charity.  We are fast approaching Thanksgiving, an American holiday initiated as a celebration of gratitude.  When newcomers to America were starving, those who had occupied this land for centuries, and who had every right to stave them off, chose instead to share a harvest, a bounty, an excess.  That day, that joint feast between Native Americans and Pilgrims (though most likely gilded by history), had nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with mercy and humility.

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hands.jpgA couple of weeks ago, I posted a blog entry entitled Prop 8 v. People in the Glass Houses. This entry quickly became the most viewed post on my blog in its nearly four-year history.  The topic of Gay Marriage is a hot button issue in our fair country, but especially in California, where voters passed Prop 8 and effectively amended our state constitution to define marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

The responses I received to my post were indicative of the rift between people on both sides of the issue.  Not only did I receive comments on the blog itself (which are included at the end of that entry), but people emailed me, called me, stopped me on the street.  For having such a small audience, my little blog suddenly became the crux of something very important.

Today, I received another comment on the post... this time from the instructor who led the Sunday school lesson which acted as the catalyst for my diatribe in the first place.  And here, I would like to take the opportunity to thank him for taking responsibility for the bad stuff, for explaining his original intentions that Sunday morning, and for setting an example of leadership and humility by doing so publicly (albeit on my little-known blog).
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betterangels.jpgNovember 4, 2008 dawned to the sound of my shower and Jon's groaning at the prospect of being out of bed before 7:00 am.  Our polling place is the elementary school across the street, so we pulled into the parking lot moments after the doors opened. Already, there was a lone line of eager citizens stretching out the door. I was more than happy to stand in line (something I've never experienced as a voter).  The turnout made me very proud to be an American.  I gazed at the people flowing in from the parking lot to extend the line behind me and marveled at the beauty of democracy.   

Jon and I linked arms and blinked against the chilly morning air, taking final consideration of ballot measures and political candidates before entering the voting booth.  We joked that our ballots might just be exact opposites of one another, a complete wash.  That wasn't actually the case, but it could have been.  We eavesdropped on the conversations of our fellow would-be voters as they whispered to one another.  When it came time to sign the register and take our ballots from the volunteer, we exchanged a knowing glance before heading to our separate booths.

I voted.  No on 8.  Yes on 4.  Abstained on 11 (the concept of Redistricting strikes me as something that laypeople cannot possibly understand without taking a university-level course on the subject). No on most bond measures.  These decisions had been carefully made after doing research and participating in lengthy discussions with friends and family.  Anything I didn't feel qualified to consider... I didn't sully with an uninformed vote.

Most of all, though, I have agonized over my preference for President, torn by issues as massive as the troubled economy, as polarizing as abortion, and as petty as choice of vice presidential running mate.  Finally, I came to the end of the road, and all was quite clear to me.

Today I voted for President, but I am not going to share my choice.
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mplfad-0.jpgIf I haven't already established myself as one of THE premier Hopeless Romantics of all time, let this be my moment.

Early this year, a movie was released called Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day.  It is the story of an unemployed governess named Guinevere Pettigrew (played brilliantly by Frances McDormand of Fargo and Friends With Money) who finds herself stooping to less-than-ethical measures to secure a job in 1930s England. 

By a twist of fate, she finds herself suddenly at the beck and call of the glamorous and guileful Delysia LaFosse (the ever enchanting Amy Adams), a bewitching American actress with ambitions of stardom who is willing to utilize every one of her natural resources, from talent to sex to trickery, in order to succeed.

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