Travel Tuesdays – The Ringling

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Recently while I was visiting friends in Florida we spent the day at The Ringling (ringling.org) in Sarasota. The Ringling includes Ca’ d’ Zan – the winter residence of John and Mable Ringling, the Circus Museum and the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art as well as beautiful grounds and a performing arts center. 

John and Mable Ringling had no children. Mable would predecease John and so when he died in 1936 he left the mansion and art collection to the people of Florida. It is worth a visit.
 Ca’d’Zan means House of John in a Venetian dialect. “The couple hired Dwight James Baum, an acclaimed New York architect, to create their mansion in the Venetian Gothic style. Begun in 1924 and completed in 1926, the house cost $1.5 million to construct, or approximately $20.9 million today.” You can only enter the house on a guided tour. The mansion is lovely. Mable’s attention to detail as mentioned numerous times by our docent is everywhere. Mable even had the back of the medicine cabinet doors painted with scenes of nature. The ceilings have beautiful sometimes whimsical murals and the chandeliers are exquisite. The chandelier in the main living space, The Court, hung in the original Waldorf-Astoria in New York City. John and Mable bought most of their furniture and fixtures from auction houses in New York. The mansion is decorated with the original furniture. Having taken quite a few tours, I can tell you a house still containing the original furniture is not the norm. Throughout the house there are stands with photos taken by Mable that give an additional insight into her daily life at Ca’d’Zan. 

After the tour, my friends said “it’s your choice – art museum or circus museum?” I responded “oh, that is tough. Should I go with my inner child or be a grown up?” My friends commented they were confident that they knew what I would pick and they were right – Circus Museum. As much as I enjoyed the beautiful gardens and learning about the mansion, the Circus Museum was my favorite. It brought back memories of attending the circus as a child. The smells, sounds and sights all came flooding back with wonder and awe. Things I hadn’t thought about in years. It was interesting because I had taken my children to the circus but the memories that bubbled up were from childhood. The fear that someone would get eaten by a lion or that the guy would fall off the tightrope. My delight when the little dogs jumped over each other or my amazement at how the performer could stay balanced on the galloping horse. The sight of elephants parading and the silliness of the clowns. The Circus Museum has a wonderful “train set” display that depicts the circus coming to town and explains the process. It was fascinating. There was a certain sadness that hung in the back of my mind has I explored the Circus Museum. The knowledge that the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey circus was no more.

Check out my photos below. And if you are in the area, plan a visit. It is a little pricey but worth it. Thank you to my friends who “treated me” to a great day.
    

familiar but foreign – language

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I am confident that I know two words in Japanese – arigatou (thank you) and konnichiwa (hello).  I actually know another two words that most of the time I forget I know which are hai (yes) and sayounara (good-bye). And if everyone else is saying it I can say oyasumi (good night). I can read no Japanese characters. Thankfully we have wonderful translators, we are rarely left to fend for ourselves, pointing is a good substitute for words, signs are usually in English and Japanese and  many people speak more English than I speak Japanese.

On the twelve-hour flight to Japan I watched Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot which was a good time filler movie. However it made me doubt if I was being translated properly. Let me explain. In the film, Tine Fey is a reporter in Afghanistan and people say something to her in Pahlawi, Farisi or Dari and in subtitles you see what they said. Tina Fey then says to her translator “what did he say?” and translator says something totally different and usually kind opposed to rude. There were moments on the trip that I was sure that the subtitles running at the bottom of the screen said something totally different from what I was told the translation was and  that made me chuckle more than once.

Being translated is an interesting experience, I find it makes me choose my words more carefully and I even seem to structure my sentences differently. I am always amazed that I can say ten words and the translation is two words or vise versa I say two words and the translation is ten. One thing for sure is not knowing the language makes me a better listener. It makes me more aware of body language and tone. I don’t know about you but on occasion I am formulating my response instead of being attentive to the speaker. Truly being present, connecting with and tuning into the person I am listening to is a skill that I want to be familiar with even if the language or circumstances are foreign.

Japan 2016

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244Back at the end of May just days before the email appeared in my inbox, my daughter randomly asked “is the Tribute Center doing a trip to Japan this year?” I replied “They are but I am not sure who is going?” And then on June 5  the email appeared “would you like to be part of the fifth trip to Japan?” Wow! I can’t believe I am invited to be part of this amazing team again. When I was invited the first time in 2013, my daughters’  said “Mom, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Go for it. ” A year later when I was invited again, my daughters’ commented “wow, most people don’t get their once in a lifetime trip twice!” This time when I mentioned I was invited they commented something along the lines of “so what dates are you going to Japan again?”

The my third trip is now over and I will be posting about that. In the meantime if you would like to catch up on the past trips, here are the links to some of those posts.

https://missannsays.com/2013/08/06/travel-tuesdays-s1e16-japan/

https://missannsays.com/2013/08/20/travel-tuesdays-s1e18-japan-lost-in-translation/

https://missannsays.com/2013/08/27/travel-tuesday-s1e19-japan-phds-mds/

https://missannsays.com/2014/08/30/japan-2014-part-1/

https://missannsays.com/2014/09/03/japan-2014-part-4/

 

March Moments

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When I owned my studio March was a slow month. The majority of the prep work for the recital was done before March – music chosen, students measured, costumes ordered, monies collected and choreography started. March was the month I got to concentrate on just one thing, teaching dance. I have been retired almost five years now and you would think my “March” would be even slower than it had been when I worked but alas this March has been a whirlwind.

March 1- 5 – I was in Brussels where I spoke at the EPP hearing at the European Parliament on victims of terrorism. https://missannsays.com/2016/02/12/remedial-class/   I also ventured out to explore with a bus trip to Ghent and Bruges. Speaking at the EP was a first and this was also the first time I traveled alone in a country other than England. I did enroll in the US State Department STEP program https://step.state.gov/step/ which means the American Embassy in Belgium knew I was “in country” and where to find me. In today’s world I would suggest enrolling. I also dressed as a professional woman not a person on vacation. Even though I was in Brussels I used my New York City walk – woman on a mission not wandering. Don’t mess with me.

March 7 – I lead two tours at the 9/11 Tribute Center.

March 8 – I was a panel member at Asia Society 3-11 and 9-11 survivor stories. It was a wonderful reunion with those I had traveled to Japan with in 2013 and 2014. The panel discussion was followed by a delicious dinner attended not only by myself and my Tribute Center family but by Japan’s ambassador to the United Nations. http://asiasociety.org/new-york/events/3-11-and-9-11-survivor-stories.

March 9 – taught two classes, had my taxes done and led Children’s Bible quizzing at church.

March 10 – 14 – flew to FL to visit good friends. I enjoyed relaxing days, yummy food, great conversation and many laughs. We realized in our time together we have known each other over 40 years which makes me feel old and extremely blessed.

March 16 – taught one class, had my hair done and led Children’s Bible quizzing at church.

March 17 – 22 – Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference in CA. I met some talented writers, gracious agents and encouraging editors. The key-note speaker was Carol Kent. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak you will be challenged and encouraged by her words. Once I am home I have much writing to accomplish. Exciting. Scary. Taunting. Good stuff.

Terrorist attacks in Brussels bring tears to my eyes, sorrow to my heart and prayers to my lips.

March 22 – 27 – visiting with my daughter and son-in-law in Seattle. Emily and I have done some touristy things. I would highly recommend the Boeing factory tour and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation visitor center. The cherry blossoms at University of Washington were in bloom and we had a delightful walk around Emily’s alma mater.  Also saw My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 which was a fun movie. As we walked to the car after the movie, Emily said she really wanted baklava so a trip to the grocery store was in order. 🙂

The old adage is “March comes in like a lamb and goes out like a lion.” March 2016 for me has been an adventure that will take some time to process. I am truly a blessed.

Twenty one days ago

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Today as I checked in at San Jose airport for my flight to Seattle the Alaska Airline employee commented that the computers were slow. “I haven’t heard any details about the attacks in Brussels. They told us there were attacks so the computers are slow  but what do you know?” I shared the information I knew – one bomber at the airport and one bomb at the subway station in the EU section of the city, 31 dead and many injured. I also mentioned that exactly twenty-one days ago I was in Brussels. I walked through that airport and walked those streets by that subway station.

Twenty-one days ago tomorrow at a hearing on terrorism sponsored  by the EPP and held at the European Parliament in Brussels, I shared my 9/11 story. I explained how the support of my faith community, my daughters’ school community, my little hometown as well as the FDNY, New York, American federal government and intentional acts of kindness from strangers worldwide made a difference in my life.  I mentioned that the FDNY has protocols and procedures in place to deal with line of duty deaths. And that even with “a plan” there were hiccups due 343 line of duty deaths in one day.  I ended by saying “The best thing that could happen is you (EP) develop a plan that is never used because there isn’t another terrorist attack in Europe. Unfortunately that probably won’t be the case. My prayer is you develop a plan that is never used.”

😥

  

My ABC’s from 2015.

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Golden glitter

 

A is for adventures. A week in Florida Keys, a weekend in Chicago and being a tourist in my own city all qualify.

B is for ballet. I taught one class a week at a Modern Dance studio.

C is for Colton James. He was born on April 29, 2015.

D is for Dunkin Donuts. I drank quite a few cups of coffee.

E is for Eagle Rock Resort. Enjoyed my cabin and the amenities.

F is for faith, family and friends. I can’t do life without them.

G is for Grammy. My new title thanks to Colton James. 🙂

H is for hope. My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.

I is for interview. I did a couple of those.

J is for Joy.

K is for kindness.

L is for Library Book Club. Still going strong on the first Tuesday of each month.

M is for my Mum. She is doing well even though she is confined to a wheelchair.

N is for nieces and nephews. 7 plus 12 “grand” nieces and nephews. 🙂

O is for opportunities. I am blessed with many.

P is for published. “Unexpected Blessings” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteer and Giving Back edition and a devotional in The Upper Room.

Q is for quizzing. After 19 years, Eastern Regional Quiz at ENC was my last hurrah as Metro New York Children’s Ministries director for the Church of the Nazarene.

S is for shore. Spent a few days at the Jersey Shore with the Bowers.

T is for tea with Miss Carol. Always a treat.

U is for university. I spoke on two campuses.

V is for volunteering at the 9/11 Tribute Center.

W is for writing.

X is for eXercise.

Y is for year. Hard to believe another has come and gone.

Z is for zero. The number of regrets I have.

In 2016, I want to read and write more. I want to be present and not distracted. I want to be who God intended me to be.

 

 

 

grateful, culture and Paris

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Gratitude-Henry Ward Beecher

I spoke at a women’s luncheon today about living a grateful life – my September 11 experiences and thoughts from the book of Philippians. I also shared a story I don’t usually share, a story about Paris. As the chairperson of the meeting read my bio, there was an audible gasp as she said “In 1990, Bruce achieved his lifetime dream of being a New York City Firefighter. Bruce was killed in the line of duty on September 11, 2001.” Even after 14 years that kind of reaction gives me pause, I feel bad because in some ways I feel like I have sucker punched everyone and in another way I feel like everyone looks at me differently. I have the sense that suddenly there is a giant flashing sign above my head “9/11 widow, 9/11 widow”. I also have the sense that people’s minds are spinning, the sense that people have lost their bearings so I try to say something to break the ice, something to kick-start their brains, something to interject air back into the room. Today I commented that I wish I could say that September 11, 2001 was the last terrorist attack that the world had experienced but unfortunately that is not the case.

I went onto say that I am saddened that there are more families who can say “I have had a personal loss in the midst of a national tragedy.” All loss is loss and all loss is sad but there is an extra layer of something when your personal loss is part of an event so much bigger than you.

I told my story  and mentioned how the book of Philippians is one of my favorite books in the Bible. I mentioned that Paul was in prison when he wrote it and how the word joy in some form appears 16 times. How Paul doesn’t mentioned changing his circumstances but talks about being contend. I think it all wove together.

In case you are interested, the story I added about Paris is:

In February 2002, Squad 41  called and said “there is an opportunity that made us think of you because you have culture*! The Paris Fire Department has invited FDNY widows and their children to France for one week. You will stay in the home of a firefighter and his family. They assure us that at least one person in the family will speak English.  Do you want to go?”  Yes, please.

The night before we were scheduled to leave for Paris my telephone rang, it was Charlie, Bruce’s lieutenant. “Ann, I want you to promise me you will still go to Paris. I already know your answer to what I am going to tell you next but they made me call you. (pause) We found Bruce’s body. We will come and pick you up if your want to be here when he is carried out.”  “Charlie, I can’t do that.” “I knew that.” “Listen it could take up to 6 weeks for him to be identified so please go to France.”

I didn’t say anything to my daughters because I didn’t want to ruin their trip and the FDNY said it would take 6 weeks for identification. We were treated like royalty – taken up the back entrance into Versailles so we didn’t have to wait in line, a police escort and private tour guide at Disneyland, Paris, a state dinner on a boat up the Seine River, gifts to take home including a bottle of champagne** that had been specially labeled with FDNY and Paris FD. The kindness and generosity of the French people was amazing.

An inside joke on the trip became when asked if I spoke French, I replied “all I remember from 4 years of High School French is “Ou est une bibliotheque?”  Not a very useful phrase. On our last night as we floated up the Seine River, one of the firefighters  pointed and said “Ann, une bibliotheque” – the library.

We returned home on the day before Easter. On Easter Sunday, the day when there is no body I was notified that yes, that was Bruce’s body. For years I didn’t understand the significance of there being a body on the day when it is all about there is no body. I came to realize that my hope is based in the fact there was no body on Easter so whether Bruce’s body was*** found or not on September 11,2001 Bruce was doing his job, whispered he loved his girls and was face to face with God.

When I heard of the attacks in Paris, I thought of those firefighters I had met, I thought of their families and I prayed for them.

 

 

*still not sure what “I have culture” means

** In 2011 the day after my second daughter got married my two daughters and their husbands opened that bottle of champagne and had a special toast to their dad. 🙂

*** I did mention that I am grateful Bruce’s body was found that 40% of families have had no human remains.