Sunday, May 7, 2017

My Gramma Was A Spy

Florence Finch, a WW2 heroine was born in the Philippines but her father was an American soldier. She married Charles Smith, a Navy man. In 1941 when the Japanese took Manilla, her husband was killed at war.  Florence sought revenge.  She hid her American ethnicity and landed a job writing ration vouchers for supplies to send to the Japanese Army.

Florence managed to divert food, clothing, medicine, and supplies to American prisoners until she was arrested. Thrown into a tiny cell for three years, Florence was tortured and starved. 

When American troops found her in 1945, her 80-pound body was frail but she still found strength to fight for freedom.  She settled in New York and joined the Coast Guard.  In 1947 she was awarded the Medal of Freedom.

Florence re-married, had two kids and lived an everyday life, her heroism a secret to most civilians until 1995.  In honor of her bravery and devotion, the Coast Guard dedicated and named a building after Florence Finch.

She died, not too long ago at 101 years old.

Florence is not my Gramma.  But I wonder who calls her Gramma. What man or woman can say, "My Gramma was a spy."  What young boy or girl can say, 'My Great-Gramma was a hero".

Did she tell her story to her children and grandchildren? How old were they when they heard of her journey for freedom and revenge?

Did they ever comprehend why her passion for duty to America was so great? What if her husband had lived? Would she have traveled the same path with the same devotion?

I'm sure her story impacted her family.  Probably gave them the courage to handle life, and put patriotism in their soul.

My grandmother wasn't a spy, but she also has a story of courage and journeys that compose my heritage.  Stories that mold the family into who we each are.   I pull her stories to my mind when I need some courage or a kick in the butt.


  What's your gramma's story? What's your heritage?

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Is everyone crazy?

"I'm the only normal person in this world," my mother used to say about herself with a confidence as sure as water is wet.

Is the world full of crazies and liars or is it just  the people who have lately crossed my path? Maybe I meet too many people, make too many acquaintances. It's what I do. I find people to be entertainingly complex each with a story that unravels their complexity.  I don't watch reality TV.  I watch people.

Just this month, Sam's sister was murdered by a family member, Charlie's brother shot himself, Beth cheated on her husband.  Lisa does not believe in disciplining her children who are out of control and Mick and Terry continue their 15 year marriage in separate rooms, staying married they think for the sake of their kids. And if Kathi lies one more time to cover up all her other lies, I'm going to scream. Ok, I already did that. In front of her but to no avail. Might need an intervention on Dr. Phil for her!

On the other side - when I asked my friend Anne if she could donate maternity clothing from her business for a young pregnant woman in need, a lady I met not long ago, she did not hesitate to help.  Then there is Patty, the Sheldon's and Angela who brought groceries all month to a woman in the neighborhood going through a hard time. And now I know to let my neighbors know when I will be out of town so they don't try and break down my door or call the police because they haven't seen me and are worried.

I guess there are a few other "normal" persons out there! It's the ones that  have your back, that you can vent to, that you can agree to disagree and won't be judged.   It's people who let you know there are more good people in the world than bad.  I hope you, the reader are one of those.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Chapter 60

How did I get here?
When did I get here?
A feisty blue bird chases a big beaked orange bird and I watch with amusement, sitting on the lanai this spectacular sunny with a slight breeze day.
They fly away.
The sun starts heating through my pants and my thighs are like burning toast.   I roll up my pants to the knees.
To feel the breeze.
When did my skin get wrinkled and thin?
Where did the bulging calf muscles go?
Vanity conceals reality.
Ailments rob my youth as I slip into Chapter 60 - this birth day
Then fly away.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Books

                                                               BOOKS

There are  seven kinds of love; Eros, Philia, Ludus, Pragma, Agape, Philautia and Storge.
I am a lover of Books.

I remember the long trek to the library, walking down the hill to Kingsbridge Road in the Bronx,  and what seemed like endless streets to a 6 year old to get to the doors of the building that held my world.

Only six books were allowed to be taken out. I could never decide which ones to leave behind from my stack of fifteen. "Now remember, you have to carry all those books back up the hill and up the stairs," Mom would warn me. Our apartment building had about 15 stairs to get to the building, then another four flights of stairs to get to the apartment.   The thought of the heavy books only discouraged me for a second. It was worth it. Sometimes, to lighten my load I'd try to get my sister to add to her one or two books she carried. Too bad we didn't have back packs back then.


Kingsbridge Rd, Bronx NY 
The minute I got home, I rushed to decide which book to devour first. You could escape to anywhere you wanted in a book. You could be any person you wanted in a book. You could learn so many things. The words danced in my head, the crisp pages turned with excitement. 

A good story is like sweet wine; soothes the mind and body. I am a lover of books.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Bula!

Bula! Wishing you all health and happiness as I lift my kava cup to you on the eve before the eve of the  new year.  For those of you who have never experienced a Kava Bar or been to the Fiji  Islands where you were welcomed with the traditional ceremonial greeting, bula means Life - a blessing of health and happiness.

Kava. Life. They have a lot in common.

 Kava tastes nasty until you acquire the taste. Life can be nasty until you learn how to cope, be grateful and enjoy.

Kava makes your mouth and tongue numb for a bit. Life can sting for a bit.

Kava is a natural relaxer, made from the root of a plant related to the pepper plant. It is used for anxiety and stress. Life or shit happens. Difficult times only make us strong in character.

Kava is an alternative to alcohol. Life. It's an alternative to death.

Bula! To Life! To good health and happiness!

Cheers,
Nina

Monday, December 5, 2016

A Christmas Story


I hoped to get into the Christmas spirit by seeing "The Magi," a holiday production. I'm not much of a holiday person. 

I placed my filled out entry form into the bucket and passed it over to my friend sitting next to me in the theatre. "I never win anything," And if I do, it's never for me! Years ago I was at a Christmas party where everyone was winning grand prizes like TV's, sound systems, large baskets of scrumptious delicacies and what do I win? Two gallons of paint!" But that is a Christmas story past where I gave the paint to a friend  of a friend who had just lost his job and was in the middle of painting his home when he ran out of paint. Guess what colors he needed. You got it - the same colors as I had won! It was one of my first experiences being a link within God's little miracles.

The prizes today were several books, the Action Bible (I really wanted that) and the grand prize, a voucher worth $300 for Word of Life Summer Camp, a popular camp and retreat known all over the nation. I've heard amazing testimonies from high school and college students how this place positively impacted and changed their lives.

It seemed an odd time to draw names of winners during intermission because you had to be present to win.  My luck, I'd be in the restroom when my name was called. But I wasn't!  I stood as my name was drawn for the grand prize!  I tried to act excited but in truth, I thought, "Crap, now I have to find time to figure out who to give this to. I just moved here, I don't know anyone." 

My friends congratulated me and asked who I was going to give this to. I said I guess I could ask around at church, but I would have to pray about it. After contemplating what I thought was an imposition, I suddenly felt the need to turn around. Behind me sat a mom who was pointing at me and a daughter staring.  The mom seemed embarrassed because she was caught pointing and all I could say was, "What?".   She explained to me, she was just speaking with her daughter about the camp prize.  She told her not to give up. "Look how close you've come to winning," which is when she pointed at me. 

 It seems her daughter has been trying to go to this camp for a few years. They had hoped and prayed this year would be it, but there wasn't a way to fit it in the budget. "Hmm," I mumbled as I eyed them each suspiciously. "Let me pray about this," which I did in my head as I talked with them some more.  

I interrupted them at some point and announced, "I would like to give you the camp voucher.  I believe God wants you to go. Merry Christmas!" Well, mama had tears and the daughter was ecstatic, thanking me over and over. " Really?" she repeated several times. Everyone around me claimed they had goose-bumps. (probably from the spirit of Christmas!)


"You know," I told them.  "This is a double whammy of God's greatness. I too, was praying. You see, for months people have been giving to me while I recoup from cancer and I want to be able to be the giver again." 

Thanks Crystal and Aurora.  This is one of the best gifts I've ever received and have given.  That night, I went home and put up some Christmas lights while the spirit of Christmas shone bright.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Loneliness vs Alone

     Why are some people lonely? Why do they consume their minds and time with finding a partner? There is a huge difference between my friends who are afflicted with loneliness and my friends who have peace.  

      Those who dwell on their lonely situations induce their own anxiety.  They focus on what could be if they had someone, dreadfully unaware of what they have in themselves and in those around them. 
     Perhaps they don't enjoy being alone and confuse being alone with loneliness. Perhaps they don't like to be with themselves.  I think that is the key to why people feel lonely.  Myself, I love the time I have alone. I get to do exactly what I want to do. I can be still and quiet and enjoy a good book or I could go out and enjoy an activity with friends. 
      It's what you want to make of it.