Saturday, April 30, 2016

The Merry Month of May

May Day is usually, but not always, celebrated on the first of May, although in recent years enthusiasm for the holiday has waned considerably. Many Staten Islanders in New York can recall festivities in the past several decades which included springtime sports, and May Poles decorated with bright ribbons streaming from the top of the pole. Young children were traditionally garbed the ribbons and danced around the pole, reveling in the warmth of spring. Older girls crowned a May Queen, and young girls often made baskets which they filled with flowers and hung on the doors of their friends. Many parts of the country still participate in these activities although my borough of Staten Island does not seem to be among them.

The month of May has always been a favorite month, with spring in full bloom and summer close behind. On the original Roman calendar, May was the third month of the year but the revised calendar moved it to the fifth month. The origin of the name, researchers say, most likely comes from Maia, a mother of Mercury. In Roman times and throughout history May has been considered an unlucky month for marriages, stemming back to the days when both the festival of the dead and the festival of the goddess of chastity were celebrated in May. This may explain the popularity of June weddings.

Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, has held May Day celebrations with field sports, dancing around the May Poll and crowning a May Queen with a headdress of fresh flowers. On some occasions college records in sports were broken on that day, possibly due to the enthusiasm for the holiday. The California State Norma School in San José originated May Day festivities in 1902, with games for their kindergarten students. By 1910, the popularity of this holiday had grown to such proportion that 6000 spectators gathered to watch the celebration.

These observances have little to do with the ritualistic and symbolic fetes of olden days. Historians of folk customs have traced the May Day ritual back to the Floralia of the Romans, the festival of Flora, goddess of flowers. This festival was instituted in 238 BC and was celebrated from April 23 until May 3rd.

During the four or five centuries that Rome occupied Britain, the May Day Festival was introduced and flourished. One theory states that the May Day was initially a phallic festival in India and Egypt, marking the renewal of the fertility of nature at springtime. Researchers claim that the Romans considered the May Poll to be a phallic symbol, and their merrymaking included quite a few licentious acts which were the focus of May Day celebrations in England for some time.

The Morris Dance was a pagan dance which consisted of male dancers in fantastic costumes dancing about the May Poll. The name Morris, a word of Moorish origin, is associated with mummers, who acted out the ritual of the pagan god who celebrated his revival after death. Another custom was the May Day procession of a Man-horse, in Cornwall, where the central figure, "Oss Oss”, was a witch doctor disguised as a horse and wearing a mask. Dancers acted as attendants, sang May Day songs and beat on drums.

These activities greatly offended the Puritans, who coerced the Parliament of 1644 to ban the erection of May Polls. The Restoration repealed the prohibition, and in 1661, to celebrate the revival of the old custom, a May Poll, 134 feet high was raised. Sir Isaac Newton purchased the pole in 1717 and used it as a support for his telescope in Essex.

The New England Puritans also voiced objections to May Day festivities, which incited Gov. Endicott of Massachusetts in 1660, to lead a group of men to Merrymont, where the dreaded May Poll had been erected. The men chopped the pole down and named the place Mount Dragon, after the Idol of the Philistines that fell before the Ark.

May Day was said to have magical rites, such as those of Halloween. Samuel Pepys, the English diarist, related how his wife went to the country each May Day to wash her face in dew, a magic ritual ensuring a good complexion. Poetess Ann May Lawler, put the custom to verse: “Ever on the first of May did magic walk — the legends say. Maidens rose at early dawn to find a dew-en-sequinned lawn, and she who humbly bathed her face in dewdrops, in the magic place, she, they say, may never fear the curse of freckles for one year."

When Labor Day was established in this country, the workers of Europe decided to hold a similar celebration, which they observed on May 1st. Due to lively labor politics, the date became better known for riots, bombings and burned cities. Radicals in the U.S. followed the European example and held demonstrations on May 1st. Later many U.S. cities, particularly New York City, demonstrated on May Day with parades of radical, labor, and other organizations, followed by mass meetings.


The beginning of May, whether celebrated with May Polls and flower festivals, or labor demonstrations, or no celebrations at all, introduces a month with few surprises. While March “comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb," and April teases with balmy weather one day and pseudo-winter the next, the month of May brings a stable promise of ever better days to come.





Saturday, April 23, 2016

Celebrating Earth Day with Warnings of What is Yet to Come

Celebrating Earth Day with warnings of what is yet to come unless changes are made.

EARTH DAY 2015: PROMISES YET TO BE KEPT

This particular Earth Day is important because we can no longer ignore the obvious – the Earth is in the midst of a severe environmental crisis and the time for correcting the nearly insurmountable problems is long past.

The first Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, 1970, initiated the Environmental Protection Agency and was instrumental in the passage of the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. Yet in spite of this, worldwide pollution is overtaking the globe faster than we can find the means to stop it. Apathy, disbelief, and big business, intent upon getting bigger, are some of the many reasons for this. But the main culprits are overpopulation especially in industrialized nations along with modern technology. And from the same technology which created most of the problems must come most of the solutions.

We have become a throwaway society, thoughtlessly piling up mounds of garbage, some which will take hundreds of years to decompose; some which will never decompose. Even as technology continues in its efforts to halt the ongoing destruction of the planet, Earth citizens must undergo radical changes in both their thinking and their living habits.

In rural areas waste control is much easier. Newspapers are rolled into fireplace logs, food waste, such as egg shells, vegetable and fruit peels and even coffee grounds are composted for summer gardens. Cut grass is used for mulch and while in some areas garbage can still legally be burned, it's no longer a viable option. One of the ways we can cut down on waste is to buy fresh foods whenever possible and avoid products with excess packaging. Removing purchases from their boxes and leaving the packaging in the store might convince manufacturers that over packaging is not only unnecessary but can no longer be tolerated. Refusing to buy aerosol cans cuts down on damage to the ozone layer, and if done consistently can be a deciding factor in having them removed from store shelves. Industry produces what the consumer purchases. Boycotting is one power that consumers can use effectively. Carpooling has become popular reducing automobile emissions and savings on gas. Eating less red meat is healthy and would save some of the tropical rain forests in Brazil, where the forests are being converted to pasture land for that country's beef production. Within the United States, less beef consumption would free land for agriculture, instead of growing grain for cattle feed. Planting shrubs, bushes and trees creates oxygen and absorbs carbon dioxide from the air.

In Nebraska, Arbor Day, the forerunner of Earth Day, was a day set aside for the planting of trees. One million trees were planted on the first Arbor Day which fell upon April 10. Planting trees and replenishing the earth was well-established in Europe long before this continent was settled. In colonial times, trees were cut down to clear the land for agriculture and homes, and housing itself consisted mainly of lumber. Native Americans respected the Earth, taking only what they needed to live on and replenishing the lands, as opposed to the settlers who killed massive herds of buffalo for sport, and until more recent years, never replenished the soil by crop rotation. Before the Industrial Revolution and the onset of mass production, people recycled out of need because there were no other options.

In order to live on a healthy planet we need to reestablish the law of supply and demand, only this time in relation to the Earth's priorities not our own. The Earth does not need us to do these things, as it is capable of adjusting to all manner of change and adapting to it. The Artic seas freeze in some periods and melt in others; the Earth cares not if the oceans rise up and flood coastal areas. People, animals and vegetation can be destroyed but the Earth will persevere. “Saving” the Earth perpetuates our own existence upon this planet.

Not all Earth changes are caused by civilization or industry. Many are natural cycles within the planet’s routine which changes according to its own inner and outer workings; sometimes over thousands of years and other times seemingly without warning. As Earth citizens it is imperative to live within our planet’s needs sometimes putting them before our own.

We cannot stop all catastrophic Earth events, but we can do our part to undo the extensive damage that we have inflicted upon our earthly home. Our lives and the lives of future generations are riding on the hope that it will not prove to be too little, too late. Let's leave a legacy for our children and grandchildren and teach them from birth how to love, nurture and protect our beautiful planet. 

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Good News To Share!

Good news to share!! . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang is on sale today, March 24th for 99 cents through March 31st Noon, PST!! Read a book that makes you feel good, hug your kids and remember for a log time.
 
One reviewer likens Micki Peluso's writing to that of Harper lee. Doesn't get better than that! 
 
 

Have a happy and blessed Easter celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ giving us the gift of eternal life.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Poetry for the Soul by a Master of his Trade

Threads
The Poetry of Scott Hastie
Scott Hastie’s premise in this enlightening book of poems is faith, a spirit of eternal hope and beauty found in every living thing. Within his writing he approaches life as a sacred gift—the good, the not so good—both leading to an ecstasy beyond even his mastery of language. It is as if this gentle poet holds the key to the mystery of life and fears not ‘The sting of death.’
One cannot read a page or two of poems in this work of art. The pages seem to turn themselves, offering comfort, wisdom and a warm feeling, dashed only by sadness when these words are finished. It is a book to be read and reread many times. The ‘threads’ woven throughout this prose leave the reader with a sense of sharing this poet’s soul embracing journey.
Poet Scott Hastie’s works are reminiscent of Robert Frost, both in truth and beauty, and he may well evolve into recognition as one of the best loved poets of this century. One of my favorite lines in this book is;
“For life
Wherever it leads
Will always be the same
It begs for the best of you.”

Micki Peluso, writer, journalist and author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Teenage Twins Adventurous Summer

Parallel Adventures
Into the Caves
 
By P.S. Winn
 
This book begins innocently enough with twins, Jenny and Jayden celebrating becoming teenagers by having a party at home with their friends. Part of the charm of this book is that while the new teenagers are not perfect, they are polite to their family and even their friends.They all live in the country, not too far from town but in an area ripe for exploration. This summer something very unusual is about to happen.

The two bikes and back packs they got for their birthdays are perfect for the long ride to the caves, their favorite place. Except for chores they have time on their hands; while their parents are at work.

Once inside a cave, they take a turn down  a corridor Jenny doesn't remember seeing before-- following the sound of a dog barking. They practically collide with a small Cocker Spaniel, who slips away and jumps into a small opening about a foot and a half wide.

Jayden convinces Jenny to squeeze into the small opening since she's the smaller twin. It's scary but she manages to grab the mischievous dog and get them both out of the tiny opening. The name on his collar reads, 'Portal,' which makes no sense . . . .Yet.

Portal takes off again and they run deeper into the caves than ever before. This time Jenny gets some rope from her backpack and makes a leash for the rambunctious little dog.

Once, out of the caves their familiar town appears --yet not exactly as they know it. People look the same, but speak and act differently. Nothing is as it seems. They make a quick exit with Portal leading the way and contemplate the explainable on their way home. And since no one answers their ' lost dog' posters, Portal now has a new home.

Being teens, their curiosity leads them back to the caves often, sometimes with their friends. Portal always assures that  they never get  lost. The summer the twins thought would be so boring has become an adventure beyond their wildest dreams.

Author P.S. Winn writes a preteen/ young teen novel full of mystery and twists; meeting a strange helper and watching out for evil. While the author's writing is realistic, this tale is anything but and is reminiscent  of Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys' detective books set in modern times.

The author has the knack of writing and speaking like her characters which will draw in young kids. This is just one of P.S. Winn's Parallel Adventures, so be sure and watch for the rest. And who could resist an alternate world with a dog named Portal?

Micki Peluso

 

Friday, February 12, 2016

How Do I Love Thee?

How do I Love Thee?

February 14th sometimes signifies the first day of Lent, depending upon the date of Easter, and is also Admission Day in Arizona. Most people however, celebrate the day by sending comic or heartfelt Valentines to family, friends and lovers. People seem to delight in St. Valentine’s Day, as florists, candy stores, boutiques and card shops do a rallying business providing heart-shaped novelties of all variety. Chocolate, long known for having properties that produce a euphoric feeling similar to the bittersweet emotion of love, seems an appropriate gift for St. Valentine’s Day.

The origin of the holiday is uncertain, but St. Valentine actually honors two Saints of the same name. One was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, the other, a martyred Bishop of Interramna. They were both buried in the Flaminian Way, which was later named the Gate of St. Valentine. Today the gate is known as Porta Del Popolo — the Gate of the People. The accounts of these men's lives are legendary, based on sparse historical fact. It is possible, researchers agree, that the legends denote different versions of the martyrdom of only one person. St. Valentine’s Day, as it is known today, is a lovers Festival, bearing no relation to these legends.

One theory as to how the name Valentine came to be applied to the day is founded on the belief in England that birds begin dating on February 14. Chaucer, in his “Parliament of Foules," says it like this: “for this was Seynt Valentyne’s day. When every  foul cometh to choose his mate." Those disagreeing with this claimed that the connection between lovers and St. Valentine stems from a similarity between the Norman word “galantin," meaning a lover of woman, and the name of the saint. Still another theory contends that the lover’s custom dates back to the pagan Roman feast of Lupercalia occurring in mid-February when  young Roman men and women placed their names in a love urn from which their names were drawn at random. During the upcoming year, the young men would be the escorts of the women whose names were matched to their own.

The Christian clergy objected to this pagan custom and substituted the names of saints. Each person, the clergy hoped, would strive to emulate the saint's name drawn for them. The drawings were held on February 14, the feast of St. Valentine. Yet the drawing of names by young people on St. Valentine's Day continued long after the Christianization of pagan rites had been abandoned. The boy and girl paired by the drawing adopted the practice of giving presents to each other. Later the boy only gave to the girl; so started the custom of sending Valentines to loved ones. St. Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in William Shakespeare's time, as this quote from Hamlet illustrates:

“Good morrow, ‘tis St. Valentine's Day,
        All in the morning betime,
   And I am made at your window,
        To be your Valentine." 

Paper Valentines with inscribed sentiments date from the 16th century. The first printed Valentine, issued in 1669, was probably inspired by “A Valentine Writer,” a book of verses offering help to those not articulate enough to pen their own rhymes. In England, the introduction of Penny postage and envelopes in 1840 popularized the exchange of Valentines and ornamental lace paper Valentines were in great demand. In the U. S., crude woodcut Valentines were fashioned by Robert H. Elton and Thomas W. Strong of New York, but most people preferred the lace paper cards imported from England.

With the establishment of the Post Office, the mail became swamped with Valentines each February. Comic Valentines, as well as coarse vulgar ones, cost only one cent. In the early 1900's, the Chicago post office rejected 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were improper for mail delivery. By the 1930s Valentine cards were primarily an activity for small children, who were taught to make the cards and decorations in kindergarten.

On one particularly gruesome Valentine's Day, the streets ran red with blood and the message given was not one of love. This notorious incident was “The St. Valentines Massacre," in Chicago on February 14, 1929. Al Capone’s gang, disguised as policemen, forced seven members of the rival “Bugs Moran” gang to stand against the garage wall with their arms raised. Capone’s mobsters methodically gunned the rival gang down.

In recent years, St. Valentine's Day continues to gain popularity, as lovers and children eagerly await its arrival; perhaps because it breaks the monotony of the long winter. However, not all people recognize the holiday. One husband whose name I will not mention, chooses to totally ignore St. Valentine's Day, even when it falls three days after his wedding anniversary — but that's another story.     



Friday, January 8, 2016

Announcing a New Publication

To all my loyal friends, family and fans 

I've got great news to share with you today. 

I may have previously mentioned that my contest entry to yet another award-winning anthology, WomensMemoirs.com was selected as an award winner. Now my story and the marvelous stories by my sister co-winners have been published in a two-volume anthology series entitled TALES OF OUR LIVES (Fork in the Road and Reflection Pond.) My story is "The Gift of Compassion," and is in Tales of Our Lives: A Fork in the Road.

Beginning today, January 8 at 8 am (PST), each volume will be just $.99 for the first 53 hours. (That's a 76% discount.) The prices will go up by $1 each 53 hours until they reach the retail price of $3.99. (Amazon only allows these discounts in the US and the UK unfortunately.
I'd love for you to read the 81 stories in the two volumes—mine and those of the other authors as well and want you to know about the great initial pricing. Below are links to the books. I've listed the US links first (amazon.com), the UK links second (amazon.co.uk), and the Canadian links third (amazon.ca). 


US

Tales of Our Lives: Fork in the Road

Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond

UK
Tales of Our Lives: Fork in the Road (UK)
Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond (UK)

CA
Tales of Our Lives: Fork in the Road (Canada)
Tales of Our Lives: Reflection Pond (Canada)


There are two unique aspects of these anthologies. In addition to the providing you with an important narrative of women's life stories, the editor includs the introduction to her new writing methodology (Writing Alchemy). If you're thinking of writing about your life or the lives of others in your family, then you'll want to read that chapter. Second, the editor begins each section with a series of prompts that will help you to think about your own life stories -- stories you may want to share with your family. I use prompts a lot in writing short stroies. These two writing tools help make these volumes even more than a good read. You get 81 powerful stories and 98 prompts. I've spent most of my writing career penning memoir stories and many of you have read my book memoir,. . . And the Whippoorwill Sang. Memoirs can be written by anyone and are a lovely legacy to hand down to future generations as well as remembering the present one.  

And after you've read the stories, I hope you'll feel inspired to write a review on Amazon. I would all appreciate it.

Thanks so much,


Micki Peluso