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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mothers – Mother's Day, MSH # 17 and #18 – Ancestors and Saints, Picture Book Review – How Are You Peeling?

Sunday is Mother's Day, one of the deep days of the year. As mothers, we are celebrated and yet we
remember our own mothers and our mother's mothers and our mother's mother's mothers, back through countless ages. I find motherhood an amazing experience.

I tell my kids, motherhood is like the Marine's slogan : the toughest job you'll ever love. The image of a mother is not easily overlaid by the image of a Marine, but the truth is, mothers are the first line of defense against the chaos that each of us holds within ourselves. And fighting chaos is an endless, almost thankless job. But when mothers fail us it is a bitter setback, one that some never overcome.

As an author, I've learned that stripping a young potential hero or heroine of the help and guidance of mother and father is a nearly universal first step in making a main character. From this I take an inverse principle that mothers and fathers are, ideally, always there for us to fall back on. They are the root of family.

In real life, many mothers are far from ideal, but the job is brutal and few survive it unscathed. It's actually amazing how many women step up to the plate of this harsh reality and come out a heroine in their own right at the other end of decades of work.

Even if their fan base is few in numbers, it is so adorable as children and grandchildren. Speaking of adorable, here's an adorable duckling I captured on video and a link to an even more adorable mother duck with a gaggle of ducklings that I posted on Youtube. [Sorry, it will be up tomorrow, motherhood calls me away and I want to post this before tomorrow.]
Here's the link to a 1 and a 1/2 minute video with some nice close ups of cute mallard duckings and their mother.


We may sugar coat motherhood with doilies, flowers and storks, but in the trenches where mothers fight both their children's chaos and their own, there's often much yelling and anger from both sides and as many tears as there are hugs. Deep down, we all know this, and it's why mothers can use guilt so effectively.

Why do mothers keep hammering away at the chaos? I can only speak for myself, but I feel like I speak for many: cleaning, feeding, helping, training, protecting, teaching, guiding, advising and sending out, day after day, those little faces that some where along the way turn into separate people with their own dreams is a magical, mystical experience that is the best life has to offer.

And it always amazes me that I'm often just walking in my own mother's footsteps, who walked in her mother's before her.

--Which leads to the next part of my theme: Mythological Species of Humanoids # 17 – Ancestors and #18 - Saints

Really these are two of the larger than life mythologized groups of humans rather than separate species of humanoids. But there is much mythology occurring around ancestors.

Many of us like to recall famous ancestors we can trace our lineage back to, or direct ancestors that still hold a huge place in the lives of family members after they have died, but for some ancestor remembrance is closer to ancestor worship.

According to Wikipedia, ancestor worship, popular in Asian and African countries, should more appropriately be called ancestor veneration since they are not usually considered deities. It is a kin [pun intended] to the veneration of saints.

The veneration of ancestors takes the form of visiting graves to leave flowers, food, and gifts; retelling stories of heroism or dedication; seeking to honor and bring praise to them by choices made; asking for advice or help and for intercession with actual deities. These practices are very similar to the practices of the veneration of saints.

In the Catholic Church there is also a careful investigation into attributions of miracles to the intercessions of saints for the purpose of guiding believers toward canonized saint intercession. Miracles and apparitions are carefully examined to give or withhold approval and weight to the miraculous claims that stand up to verification. There is a careful process by which saints are given the status of blessed (beatification) or sainthood (canonization.) Miracles attributed to Pope John Paul were just announced as verified and he was canonized.

The veneration of saints includes practices such as lighting candles; retelling stories of heroism, dedication, acts of love and generosity or martyrdom; seeking to immolate them as role models by choices made; asking for advice or help and for intercession with God and Jesus. Perhaps the biggest difference is that one need not be a descendent of a saint to benefit from the veneration.

--Picture Book Review – How Are You Peeling? : Foods with Moods, By Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers, published in ISBN 0-439-10431-9

[Since the theme is Motherhood and I made reference to the flowers of sexuality leading to the fruit of children a few posts ago on fertility, I decided to review a book that features fruit for Mother's Day.

To make my book reviews unique, I use characters from the book series I'm writing, called The SylFae Trees Sagas, to discuss the book I'm reviewing. The characters are taken from the first book in that series, Into The Gloaming. There's usually more exploration of my characters than book review, but I'm having a great time. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do, or even half as much.]

“That book I lent you, did you read it in your yard?” Yolanda turns around to ask Caitlynn on the school bus.

“I love that book! It's so creative!” Caitlynn grins as she get a book out of a backpack and offers it to Yolanda.

“What book is that?” Jake asks after he checks to make sure the bus driver isn't looking in the rear view mirror and hops forward two seats to sit beside Caitlynn.

“You're supposed to stay seated until the bus comes to a complete stop, Jake Fox.” Yolanda cocks her head at him.

“And you're supposed to face forward, Yolanda Speaker. People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.” Jake turns off the attitude and asks Caitlynn, “What book did you read in the yard this time?”

Yolanda scrunches her nose at Jake.

Caitlynn says, “It called How Are You Peeling? : Foods with Mood and it's so cute. Look at these pictures!” Caitlynn opens the book to show Jake the photos of fruit with faces. “Saxton Freymann and Joost Elffers are brilliant! I'll never look at fruit the same way again!”

Jake laughs as he turns the pages, speed reading. Without looking up he asks, “What did the trees say about it?”

Caitlynn rolls her eyes. “Why is everybody so stuck on the fact that I dream about talking trees?”

Jake grins at her. “Because it's hilariously weird! What did they say?”

“Yeah, Caitlynn, stop holding back. That's why I gave you the book to read. I want to hear what you dreamed.” Yolanda insists.

“Are you going to psychoanalyze her or something? Do you have your notebook and pen ready?” Jake's attitude is back.

“Chill, Fox, or butt out. This is my conversation. You weren't invited, so step off.” Yolanda gives out more attitude than she gets.

Jake rolls his eyes at her.

Yolanda turns to Caitlynn. “You were saying...?”

Caitlynn sighs, “You should all just try to be a little nicer to each other and you'd probably actually like each other.”

Jake snorts.

Yolanda says, “Fat chance. Stop changing the subject. Tell-me-your-dream time?”

Caitlynn rolls her eyes. “The trees thought the book was adorable. They especially liked the apples and oranges, probably because they come from trees. They couldn't get over how cute the idea to use black eyed peas as the eyes for the little faces was.”

“What did they think about all the moods?” Yolanda presses.

“Oh, they loved that too. Trees, apparently, are fascinated with human emotions and think the idea of fruits and vegetables having all that emotion is hilarious.”

Yolanda frowns. Jake smirks.

Yolanda glares at him then asks Caitlynn,“Which face did you choose for how you were feeling?”

Caitlynn grins. “The happy mushroom. He is just so cute!”

Yolanda's frown deepens. “I just don't get it. Why are you so happy all the time? Your mother treats you terrible! Doesn't that bother you?”

Jake glances at Caitlynn, his smirk gone.

Caitlynn's grin fades. “She not that bad, Yolanda. Most of the time she's great! And when she isn't, I know still she loves me and she doesn't want to be treating me badly. She just has some issues that trouble her. We'll work through them. Everybody needs a little grace.”

Jake cocks his head.

“Girl! You're like a door mat with a big sign on it that says, 'Walk on me!'” Yolanda declares.

Caitlynn laughs, “I don't think so. I'm just willing to take the bad with the good. Maybe you two should try that more often, like with each other.”

Both Jake and Yolanda frown at each other and look away.

Caitlynn shakes her head. “Sheesh! How are you two peeling?”

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