on how feeling happy is a choice

this is my last Blog in November, tomorrow I start my annual Advent, posting each day with memories and thoughts taking us up to Christmas.  This year I am going to use music as the trigger for each post and hope that you will enjoy reading and sharing with me a walk through the soundtrack of my years

This month has been amazing, posting more and sharing in different places I have increased the readership and reach of this Blog.  It is so great to know that people are enjoying my writing, I am certainly enjoying Blogging.

I know I talk a lot about being positive, about seeing the good, focussing on what is great, and I do this because it is the most powerful tool to becoming happy.  Even when all is going pear shaped, when things we cannot control are around us and making a mockery of our hopes and plans, when we we feel the world is against us, we can still choose to be happy.

When I am in pain and feeling grumpy I have to remember the switch in my brain that allows me to see through the now and look to the future, or to the past.  I have had an amazing year, so many changes, so much sadness and great, great happiness.  Throughout it I hope I have remembered to see what I needed to see, to be thankful for what I have and focus on the good.

Thank you for making November the best ever month on the Blog, for sharing in over 20 different countries and to allowing me to share my world.  See you next month.

on walking on sunshine

As I left the house at 7am yesterday morning it was literally freezing cold.  I was ill equipped for this frosty start I found myself using what I could to scrape the ice from the car windows before setting off.  I had completely forgotten what cold winter mornings are like.  This year we have had more than our usual share of warm sunny weather, even here, high up in the Peaks it has been pleasant and warm all summer and autumn long.

I was thinking about winter and dark nights and rain again this morning while cleaning the kitchen and listening to the radio.  A song from way back came on its title, Walking On Sunshine, was very familiar to me.  I have no idea who sung it but it made me smile as I was washing pots and tidying round.

The very idea of walking on sunshine took me to summer days in the park with children, playing with shadows, chasing around and eventually flopping onto warm grass to drink cool drinks.  It made me think of pictures of sunshine with long yellow strands radiating out towards the earth.  It reminded me how I always try and walk on the sunny side of the street, making the most of the warmth and how it really feels to be in the bright and shiny daylight.

All this is a long way from the grey skies above me at the moment.  I think it might just about have stopped raining although it is hard to say for sure. Winter is a time of hibernation, a time for sleeping, to prepare for the regrowth and renewal that spring will bring.

Perhaps we can walk on sunshine right throughout the winter months.  Maybe it is all in our heads, just like choosing happy we can chose sunshine.  I hope everyone can stay warm while we wait for the first signs of springtime when we can look forward to walking again on sunshine, it isn’t far away for sure.

on seeing your daughter through other peoples eyes

To me she is the same little girl who grew from the tiny baby with the sweetest lips and pretty face.  When I look at her I see in one moment all that has gone before.  I see her starting school, making friends, becoming a teenager (that was fun) and growing into a beautiful young woman.  Of course I do, I am her Mum.

Last week I was given the chance to see her through the eyes of strangers.  Visiting the town she has called home since the summer I was introduced to lots of new people.  People she has befriended, new work colleagues, people she has found in bars and on the beach who have become her friends.  It was an interesting time.

I had travelled with her very best friend, who has been so since they were at infant school.  She, also, came to see this new, more confident friend living in the sunshine.  We talked together about how happy she was, how happy we were to see her so.

The best thing was that everywhere we went people were saying the same thing.  How lovely she is, how chatty and confident, how hard working she is and how she is always full of fun.  Of course I was proud of her, surely some of the reasons she is as she is must be due to my wonderful parenting skills, I was basking in reflected glory for sure.

I am back home now and I know that in a month or so she will also come back to a cold, wet and dark England. I know she will become the moody person she can be, especially when she hasn’t had enough sleep, and in those difficult times when she is being a bit of a diva I will in a minute know that she is also still the gorgeous girl in the sunshine.

I have missed her so, so much since she left, sometimes so much it takes my breath away, the little things, watching tv in the afternoons, realising that all the hair products in the bathroom are as I left them and lasting twice as long as is usual, but it must never be about me.  My job is almost done, she has spun out into another world, and I know for sure she will never live back with me on a permanent basis.  While this makes me a tiny bit sad to be honest it makes me the happiest Mum in the world.  She is living her dream, whatever that dream is, and she is doing so while making friends and enjoying her life. There is simply nothing else I would wish for her.

on celebrity and Africa

In 1984 I was having bit of a time.  Having just lost my Mum to cancer and given birth to my first darling son within six months, we were also supporting Dad, who was seriously ill.  Christmas that year was curious mix of happy and sad, setting the tone for the next few years, although we didn’t know that then.  It was down to me to cook the celebration dinner and prepare for the family to arrive.  All went well, the food was nice enough, and as usual we all ate and drank far too much.

We settled down after dinner to watch t.v. and Top of the Pops was on.  Suddenly the mood changed, the Band Aid single focussed us all on exactly how much we had eaten while making us think of those less fortunate.   I remember looking at my Dad, who was thin and unwell and thinking of Mum, who was no longer here, somehow the feelings all came together and I felt at one with the people of Sudan who were losing family members everyday due to hunger.

Life went on, we sent a donation and followed Saint Bob and Paula as they put together the concert in the summer.  Again tears fell, the video of a father wrapping his dead baby and lifting it from the ground made me cry, looking at my healthy son who was growing everyday.  We cheered when Bob told us to ‘give us your effing money’ and we did, again, send a donation.  It seemed the right thing to do.

That was thirty years ago, and since then we have had so many celebrity songs the impact is lost.  From Children in Need, to Comic Relief, to a second remake of the Band Aid song, we have consistently put our hands in our pockets and coughed up the dosh.  We hope it is making a difference, but we are not as sure any more. Since 1984 the world has changed.  There has been a rise of ‘celebrity’ as a life choice and a career, as if people knowing who you are makes you more interesting, more newsworthy, more attractive, when actually that is not true.  The rise of talent competitions promising to make people into superstars, feeds this process, when losers become winners, when those with little talent or intelligence are rocketed into the public eye by a media hungry for celebrity.

Meanwhile back in Africa, and in many other parts of the world, people are still dying when they could be saved. Debts due to first world countries and unfair governments conspire to keep the poorest people poor.  This year there is a new threat to these vulnerable communities.  A virus so powerful it can kill hundreds of people who do not understand how to keep themselves safe.  The traditions of caring for the dead with touch and love is accelerating the transmission of the virus without the knowledge of how to keep safe, people are putting themselves at risk.  The Disaster Emergency Committee set to and has raised over 20 million pounds to help fight the fight.

For a while, it seemed to me, we talked the talk, how bad it was, how worrying. It seems to me that it wasn’t until non African people were returning from the area and bringing the virus with them that it became a problem needing solving by the West.  Armies were scrambled and dispatched to bring education and support to the communities in need.

Several things occurred to me.,There are still many more people dying of hunger everyday than this virus will ever kill. I might be being cynical when I reflect that hunger is not contagious and although there are people in Britain who are hungry, perhaps deaths are few and far between.  I then read about one African country that treated the virus in such a way they beat it within weeks, with few deaths, and I wondered why no one was asking for their help to teach other countries how they did it.  I listened with increasing impatience to people I know panicking about the virus, wondering if they would catch it.  It all seemed to be too much hype.

Then a week or so ago, the inevitable happened.  The celebrities, led once again by Saint Bob, decided they wanted to help raise money.  Incredibly a third release of the Band Aid song was issued with yet another mixture of 60 something has beens and 18 year old pop people who were once again filmed singing in what looks like a random choir from an eventide home as the school kids come to sing.  The lyrics of the song, we didn’t really think about first time round, now seem at best crass and at worse patronising.  ‘There won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas’  Really?  Have they never been to the mountains of Morocco, plenty of snow there for sure.

This whole lumping all 54 countries of Africa together as one enormous problem population has been around forever.  I remember in junior school being told of starving children and backward civilisations in Africa, which conjured up an image of savages, head hunters and stupid people to my eight year old brain.  Image my surprise a few years later when I got hold of an atlas and realised Africa was not one country but many, each different from the other, and more surprising again that Egypt, the place we were taught was home to very clever people, inventing paper and building pyramids, was actually in Africa.  It was then, in the living room at home at the age of eleven I realised the lie of Africa and the West.  Never a mention of the rich traditions, the majestic mountains the fun and creativity of people from countries across the continent.  A few years ago I decided to teach myself the geography of the African continent and find out where each of the countries is situated. I can still name all of these countries and place them on a map today.

Anyway back to Band Aid 3 and the anger I now feel watching this bunch of slightly talented, tax avoiding has beens and desperate for fame newbies toting their arrogance across every available media opportunity. As if giving up their time is the most important thing they can do.  As if without Saint Bob telling us about it we would not know how to donate money to help  As if anyone, ever, needs another copy of that song.

So my message to St Bob and the has beens is this: If you really want to help the struggle against the virus I would say to each and every one of them ‘give the Emergency Disaster Fund your effing money’ and stop asking for ours.  Then buzz off to your houses in the sunshine and enjoy your tax free Christmas, I hope it bloody snows.

on realising a dream

For as long as I can remember I have loved the sea.  I grew up close to the shore and swam often in the water.  I love the sound of the breakers crashing on the beach, the smell of the salt and the feeling that there are other lands connected by the waves.  As an angst ridden teenager, following yet another disagreement at home I would race to the water lean over the railings and wish I could travel on the water, across to Ireland to America or anywhere.  The idea that the sea connects all continents eventually has always excited me.

Back in the day the ecological movement were focussed on saving sea life.  I had a Save the Whale t shirt and began to understand how important the seas are, not only to connect the land, but to provide a home for so many species of wildlife.  From crabs to barracudas, from sharks to tuna fish, it was the whales and the dolphins that always had my heart.

I do not like any animal in any captivity.  No matter how many arguments for conservation I don’t believe it.  I think we need to respect animals in their habitat and not hunt, shoot and trap them.  If a species is about to die out then we need to stop hunting them and leave them alone. Not trap them and breed them in an artificial world we have created.  I don’t go to zoos anymore. I cannot work out if it is better if the captive animals know they should be living in an ocean or a jungle, or if they don’t.  Imagine being plucked from your home and given everything you need, but no freedom,  that is no life.

I have always wanted to see dolphins in the wild.  I have tried to do so several times, visiting Scotland and walking along a shore, and a boat trip, they did not want me to see them that time.  I once missed them by ten minutes on holiday in South Wales, it was the talk of the pub how amazing they had been, but once again they did not want me to see them.  So, you can imagine my excitement when I realised that the ocean at my holiday destination this year is home to many species of dolphin and whale.

A boat trip was booked, the excitement was rising.  My companions were keen to soak up the sunshine and content with the hope that we might see some wildlife.  I was anxious and hoping beyond hope, that this time I would be lucky and they would allow me to see them.

We set off in warm sunshine and cruised for an hour or so, at first hugging the coastline then gently heading out to sea. the anticipation was growing, perhaps they would appear.  The captain suddenly cut the engine, the boat began to drift and bob on the waves.  Whales ahead, oh my goodness, they were really there, a small shoal bobbing below the surface in the distance we could see them blowing for air in time with each other.  My heart was soaring, the captain skilfully steered us nearer until we were almost upon them.  Majestic creatures, within touching distance.  We were in their world and I was captivated.  Minutes later they swam off to do whatever whales do on a Saturday afternoon and our engine started up again.  Incredibly this amazing experience was repeated again and again as we bumped into other whales, they really were all around us.

Suddenly the ocean had a different meaning for me.  Instead of thinking of it as a surface, and something to sail upon, I was conscious of the immense communities below our feet.  Later when we moored in a small cove we watched as sea turtles came to visit us.  They swam up to and under our boat and once again I was captivated by nature at home.

Sadly it was time to leave the turtle cove and begin to head back to port.  I was elated and so, so happy.  My companions were in awe of the day, they had swum from the back of the boat, become part of the ocean and played together while I watched with my feet in the water, loving every minute.  As we tucked into lunch there was a small part of me was sad that the dolphins had once again eluded me, but being positive I was content to have had such a magical time.  I have always  thought that when I see them all will be well with my world.  A bit like when I spot a rainbow in a dull and rainy sky, I am filled with hope for light after dark.  I have always believed the dolphins would be a symbol of hope and love for me.

The coastline was impressive, the skill of the captain brought us close to rocky outcrops of amazing cliffs, we could see people on the beaches and the sun was still shining.  A perfect day out.  Suddenly the captain swung the boat around and we headed back to sea.  Once again the noise of the engine fell silent, and the crew pointed in the distance, dolphins!!!   My heart jumped out of my chest, it was true they were there.  Once again we bobbed silently towards them.  I was sitting with my legs over the side of the boat and there they were   Right in front of me, jumping and playing, as dolphins do, they swam up to and under the boat, one incredibly went right below my feet, it was the most magical feeling ever.  I wonder if others on the boat noticed the tears falling from my eyes, happy, happy tears.  I had done it.  A lifetime of wanting to visit these amazing creatures in their world the ambition was realised. I was lost for words.

Once back in port and home to our hotel we were all in awe of what we had seen.  The skill of the crew, their passion for the creatures of the sea was amazing.  They talked to us of the importance of protecting the wild environment, of how these wonderful wonderful dolphins and whales live long and happy lives in the waters, of how in captivity their lifespan is shorter, it confirmed to me that no matter how big a tank you provide it is never an ocean.  I could not thank them enough for our day, the day that dreams had come true.

Later, we were heading out for the evening, still in that happy frame of mind that comes from such an experience. The sky had clouded over and there was light rain coming from the clouds above us.  As we walked towards the coast, a magnificent rainbow appeared before us.  Dolphins and rainbows in one afternoon, I could barely believe it, my heart was full and all was well with my world.

on the lucky lucky men

Everywhere we go we see them.  Often tall, generally but not always young, clad in African robes or shorts and t shirts, these ebony skinned lucky lucky men are part of life here.  Some sport rainbow coloured mochican wigs and all have watches, sunglasses, flashing toys and bright coloured wares for sale.

They approach diners and sunbathers alike, ‘good price, good price’ they say.  There is no harm in any as I can see.  Mostly they smile often and politely move along if there is no sale to be made.  They are intriguing to me.  I cannot help but wonder how they arrived, where they are from and what has gone before.

My daughter, has befriended a few of these lucky lucky men, they come into the bar where she works and she has  introduced me to Bill and Joe and a few more.  She sees them daily in her workplace and has got to know them well.  She tells us that most have arrived from African shores by boat, often dangerously ill equipped and unsafe, they are now happy to have reached a place where they can make a living.  Some earn lots of money,  have wives, children and apartments in the town, others are not yet so successful and share bedsits as they work away at selling trinkets to tourists. The older ones are established here, some have been here fifteen and more years, some much younger newly arrived.  It is a strange life, a long way from their home in Senegal for these boys, I find myself hoping they will be safe.

There has been a lot in the British press about people arriving in the UK from foreign shores. One political party is basing their election hopes on our fear of strangers, which is something I cannot understand.  The world is a big place, we are all human, it is to our discredit that we have a system of belonging to a particular place or land over others who might like to live here also.  Just like the Native Americans I believe no one can actually own land.  It was here before us and will be here when we are all long gone, we are just borrowing it. I think that everyone is basically the same underneath, we all want what is right for our families, to find the best life we can.

Next time you are on your holidays and you are approached by the lucky lucky man in the bar, look him in the eyes, say hello, see the person not as a nuisance who is stopping you eatng your dinner.  You may buy a bargain, or you may make a friend.  Whatever you do be kind, and not nasty.  Mind you that is a rule for life for me.  Kindness is the most important thing and so often the opportunities are missed.  A smile, a touch on the arm, an acknowledgement of a fellow human, be it the lucky lucky man or a stranger in your town.  It is about time we all rubbed along together.

on when buildings give up and slip away

I want to take you back to the 1960’s and 70’s and join me on a journey through my childhood.  Well not actually all my childhood, that would take too long, but to a time when all of our shopping was done locally, when Mum could buy all she needed in one street and where we children regularly went with her to do so.

The road is stil there today, but very, very different, I doubt Mum would recognise it now.  It is a straight road, one of the main routes across the town and running from either side of it are rows and rows of terraced houses, stretching back and forward containing hundreds of homes.

Back in the day this road contained two cinemas, a bakers,  a greengrocers, a newsagents, and much more.  It was here we went when we needed new clothes, there was a mini department store on one corner that sold almost anything you would need.  Glass counters and rows of drawers on the wall behind were full of lots of things to buy.  It was a higgledy piggledy shop with steps between departments, the women’s clothes section had its share of mannequins and rows of coats and dresses on rails.  You were served by ladies who helped find just the right thing for you.

Just along from the store was the bakery, my very favourite shop.  It had that fantastic warm smell of bread and cake and they sold the most delightful small open top pies full of meat and jelly, we used to have them for lunch with tiny mini brown loaves, just enough for one each.  Their cakes were equally delightful, fresh cream eclairs with sticky chocolate toppings and jam doughnuts that oozed raspberry syrup with the first bite.  As in all the shops along this road women would stand in a queue waiting to be served and chat away while us kids danced around them.

Next to the bakery was the greengrocer, this was not as interesting to me and usually had an even longer queue. The produce on sale was almost all local except for the oranges and grapefruit, I cannot remember seeing a pepper or kiwifruit, it was basic salad, flat lettuce, local tomatoes, onions and King Edward potatos.  The choice was much less than in today’s pre packed supermarket, but it was fresh. No plastic in sight you collected all your items in brown paper bags from women who wrote the price of each item purchased on the corner of the brown paper bag before totalling it up.

On the other side of the street was a record shop where I bought one of my very first vinyl discs. Next door to this shop was the joke shop.  A whole shop devoted to tricks and things to make you laugh, from whoopie cushions to marked packs of cards, I remember the fake dog poo being a favourite from there.

Daily along the road you would see women and children, prams left outside the shops with smiling, or sometimes crying babies in, sometimes Grannies would stop to replace the dummy or give them a rock before Mum could return with her shopping, all to be stacked under the pram.  There was a hardware store and a chemist along here.  All in all it was a vibrant and busy street, serving well all the many people living in the area.

The two cinemas ensured the street was also busy at night time.  With one screen each, they showed films of the day, changing on a weekly basis.  One was smaller than the other and once inside in the dark a magical ceiling of a thousand tiny lights transfixed me.  Sitting next to Mum watching one of her favourite musicals is a memory I will have forever.  The cinema across the road was more modern, I remember once queueing right around the corner to get in to see the latest comedy with Mum and Dad.  Hundreds of people waited patiently to all be seated.  With no video and in some houses no TV the cinema was a vital affordable entertainment centre for the whole family.  Later we would go there with our first boyfriends, daring to sit in the back row.

By the time I had my own family in the 1980’s this street was seeing signs of wear.  Some shops had closed, a shiny new shopping precinct in the town becoming the place to buy lots of the products once on sale here. Supermarkets had sprung up offering cheaper prices it was not hard to see why these shops were struggling.

I left the area almost twenty years ago and often return to see family and friends.  Over these years we have driven along this street many, many times.  Sadly, I have watched it change from bad to worse each time we visit. Lots of the once busy shops are now boarded up, metal grills across where the windows once were.  The joke shop, record store and hardware shop long gone.  Gradually all the shops I remembered were no more.The cinema with the shiny ceiling gained new life as a pool hall, the other managed to hang on for some years but was eventually demolished and apartments now stand on that corner.

It saddened me to see the place in such decline.  I could almost feel the buzz of shoppers from the past, catch sight of ghostly prams left outside these now derelict shops.  All was not lost, many people still live around the area, houses are neat and tidy and there is always a good community spirit, but with so much changed it began to feel like a shadow of its former self.

It seemed that some of the properties had hope, the council had purchased them to make way for a regeneration of the street.  How amazing, perhaps one day the street would become vibrant once more.  Sadly it was not to be, changes in government and bankers spending all our money resulted in the project being shelved.  The buildings now sat and waited.  The regular checks on their structure being the only attention they were given.

Then one day this week something shocking happened, when one evening, halfway through the soap operas on TV and without warning or fuss the buildings slowly at first and then with a final roar to be noticed slid to the ground.  Within minutes where once had stood two sad structures now there was rubble and dust.  A huge gap appeared.  It looked like the images we knew from the war when a bomb struck.  Thankfully no one was hurt. Later when police, fire and emergency services had given the site more attention that it had had for some decades it was decided that a third building needed to be brought down as it was unsafe without its neighbour to hold it up.

I have no idea what caused the collapse, I am sure the structural engineers will tell us all in time, but it will always be in my mind that, tired of waiting,  the buildings, whose  walls contained a hundred years of memories, decided enough was enough.  With one last hurrah they crashed to the ground, taking the memories of lives lived with them.

on bagging a sunbed

It is 8.30am and from my hotel balcony I have a great view of the pool below.  Today, as yesterday, there is a blue sky above and a hazy early sunshine is painting shadows across the ground.  The hotel provides white plastic sunbeds for those spending the day beside the pool to lay upon. People in this hotel take this very seriously, so much so that at this early hour there are dozen holidaymakers sitting on a wall waiting for the pool staff to unlock the chairs.

As they perch on the stone their brightly coloured beach towels across their laps they remind me of the line of sparrows that wait on the fence to be fed at my Auntie’s house.  They all seem anxious, as if the whole of the day would be ruined if they didn’t manage to get their towel on a sunbed as soon as possible.  Who knew holidays could be so stressful? We haven’t bothered waiting on the wall, we just amble down when we are ready and take one of the fifty plus unused beds from the pile and settle down.

Swimming pools are odd places, nowhere else would I see so many different ages and body shapes in a state of undress?  It is quite liberating actually.  Nobody seems to care what anyone else looks like and people are confidently laying around almost naked. We enjoy the pool although as it is unheated the water literally takes your breath away, once in there is nothing better than lying on your back in the water looking up at a blue blue sky and sunshine.

Thanks to modern technology we have been able to speak to those at home each day and it amazes me how different it is there.  At home November means dark mornings, cold days and rainy afternoons.  Here, just a four hour flight away it is always summer.  On balance I think I would miss our seasons, the changing weather is part of me, but for one week I am happy to have a warm and sunny winters day.

We are off to a beach later, there will be water sports, banana boats and all.  I will find myself a sun bed and settle down to mind the bags while I watch my daughter and her friends have fun.  I will be thinking of the many holidays we have had, of happy times with friends in the sunshine and once again being thankful that I have such a lovely life.

Sometimes it is worth remembering just where choosing happy brings you.

on rememberance

November 11th is a day for remembering, for wreaths and silence, for thoughts and prayers.  One day when as a nation we acknowledge the downside to war.  The day we pay lip service to the young lives that were taken away Men and boys killed fighting for freedom, for greed and for power, none of it their own.

A hundred years ago my  Grandfather signed up to fight and left for the front the very same day, Nina did not see him again for 5 years,  At least he did come back.    Nina used to say that the First World War was meant to have been the war to end all wars.  It was not so.

There has been much made of the Poppies at the Tower, many have visited and taken comfort from the sensational display  A physical reminder of just how many people, fathers,lovers, brothers and sons did not come back.  There has also been talk of this being a sanitised tribute, that it would have been better to have filled the moat with bones and broken ammunition and blood, for that is in truth what really happened. Bits of bodies blown to pieces, soldiers in damp dark trenches, waiting to go over the top and face the enemy.  Combat fighting man on man, and disease and death all around.  The Poppies came later.

I once watched a programme on the BBC, it was called the Second World War in Colour.  They had taken actual newsreel footage from the war and added the colour.  It was amazing what colour does for vintage footage,and for the emotions it evokes.  The people become more real, the red hair, the black beards the uniforms and badges different shades.  One scene will stay with me forever.  It was of a party of soldiers in a landing craft heading for a shore.  The familiar black and white newsreel, now in colour, showed men sitting in a small craft as the enemy fired upon them.  At once the boat broke up and the men were in the water.  The water turned pink and then red as the blood from severed limbs floated to the surface. One man was swimming through it all, swimming past the arms and legs of his fellow soldiers, swimming through their blood.  It was horrific to watch, how much more horrific to have been there.  I wondered often what happened to that man and how he went on to live a life with a memory of such an experience.

From watching that footage I was able to consider some of the older men in my family and in my community  I would wonder how many of them had such memories, hidden away while they got on with the job of living.  It doesn’t end there.  Every day from the end or the war to end all wars somewhere someone is fighting.  From the Falklands to Northern Ireland, from Iraq to Afghanistan, many young men and women have daily placed themselves in situations where they to could kill or be killed, and no doubt come home with memories that haunt them.

I have no idea if the Poppies at the Tower are a good thing or a bad thing for the commemoration of war.  I think they are an effective tool for getting us to talk about things and to raise money for the British Legion, but I doubt they have any use beyond that.  The daily reading of names of those lost added a personal touch to the installation especially for family members, it was a nice thing to do.  However, I cannot help but feel that amid all the hype about the Poppies we have somehow missed the point.  Maybe blood and bones might have been better, shocking, but better, for war is not bright flowers in the nations capital city, it is death and destruction and dirty and dire.

They gave their tomorrows for our today, lets make sure we remember and work hard to make sure we talk and work towards peace.  Then they will not have died in vain.