Haiku: Airplane Mode

Haiku ~ Airplane Mode

 

A hop and a skip

Collective euphoria

Switch off airplane mode

 

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~Richard

 

 

 

Haiku: Halloween 2017

Happy Hallowe’en 2017

 

Ghouls and ghosts vanquished

As coulrophobia reigns.

Stop clowning around!

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~Richard

Hiding in Plain Sight

It’s amazing what you can find in the most normal of settings, and unexpectedly. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and actually look at your surroundings. For example, Philadelphia seems to be full of surprises such as this wonderful sculpture of a leopard on South 20th Street and Manning Street near Rittenhouse Square. One story has it that it the building which it is attempting to get into used to be a lingerie store and that this was used as marketing. The store has has long gone but the leopard remains.

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~Richard

Inspired by the Creativity of Children

Last week I went back to the ceramics studio after a break of a couple of months or so. Over the summer the art center runs a large number of classes for children and the place is very busy. I was finding it a bit hard to get started again and then I looked through some of the ceramics that the kids had created over the last few weeks.

I think they have done a fantastic job. One of the best things about the children’s work is that many of them (especially the younger ones) have no real constraints in their minds. They are free to just take an idea or prompt from the teacher and run with it.

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After seeing these great works, I am reinvigorated for the fall ceramic season…!

~Richard

A Game of Perspectives

The King

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He looked across his Kingdom to see his opponent in the distance, protected by his foot soldier. I have this covered, he thought to himself smugly. But the carefully planned trap was sprung, and to his horror the Knight bounded across to his left and hemmed him in the Rook’s grasp. It was all over. Checkmate. He slumped and fell to his knees.

~

The Queen

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She stood to the edge of the court and observed her husband’s opponent. He had a smug look on his face, but she would soon end that. How dare he attack their city? She stood tall, clear in the knowledge that she was the most powerful player here. She didn’t even have to move this time. A barely perceptible nod to her Knight and their pre-planned trap was sprung. The color drained from their enemy’s face and he crumpled to his knees, defeated…

~

The Bishop

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To be honest, this was the part of his role he disliked most. He had never really felt comfortable being brought into the battle. It seemed to go against his credo. Then again, the Kingdom had to be defended otherwise all his Good Work could not be continued. This had been a particularly hard fight. Looking at his fallen comrades and his bloodied broadsword he prepared for the next onslaught. Then he saw the Knight gallop towards the enemy in a bold move and suddenly it was over. He had lived to fight another day! But only after he had ministered to the wounded…

~Richard

 

Where did the Red Owl go?

I am shocked! I was up at Temple University in Philadelphia earlier this week dropping off my daughter and when I was explaining the beautiful statue of the Red Owl at Alumni Circle on Liacouras Walk to another parent when I noticed it has been removed! I love this wonderful marble work by Beniamino Bufano and the fact that it was part of an installation that included an acoustic wall that had been specially designed to show off the properties of  sound reflection. The statue was dedicated in 1988 and now, under 30 years later it has disappeared!

In its place there now stands a larger, more sinister looking owl with outstretched wings. It was still attached to its supporting crane this week so it must have been a recent change. I can find no mention of what has happened to Bufano’s classic – I hope it is relocated but it is a shame it was moved in the first place. I will miss it.

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~Richard

Valley Forge – where America was made?

I hadn’t picked up my camera for over a month, but yesterday I had the opportunity to visit Valley Forge National Historical Park with my daughter and her friend. We hired bicycles for two hours and cycled around 9 miles through this beautiful area. It was hard work on some of the unpaved trails but well worth the effort.

There were no battles fought at Valley Forge, but lack of supplies was so severe that starvation and disease saw 2,500 men and over 700 horses dead during the six months the Continental Army was encamped there from December 1777 to June 1778.

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Yet, despite the appalling living conditions, the Continental Army was transformed from a rebellious force into a fully fledged army that was eventually able to fend off the British Army and allow the colonies to establish themselves as an independent nation.

How?

The weather in February 1778 eased and became milder, alleviating some misery and Washington’s appointment of the resourceful General Nathaniel Greene as Quartermaster enabled better supply lines to be established. Successful petitioning of the Continental Congress finally allowed funding for the army and then, in March 1778, the mercenary ex-Prussian Army drill-master “Baron” Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrived at camp. Though he spoke no English, von Steuben, with the help of translators, and due to his peculiar style of actually interacting directly with the men, was able boost morale and to train the American soldiers. His work became “The Blue Book” (Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States) and would remain as the official training manual for over 30 years.

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With the Treaty of Alliance with France signed in February 1778, ensuring supplies and support, and a well trained army behind him, Washington was able to leave Valley Forge after six months and face the British.

The rest, as they say, history…

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~Richard

Lest We Forget: Passchendaele one hundred years on.

A century ago today, on 31st July, 1917 the Third Battle of Ypres was begun, later to be known as Passchendaele, after the Belgian village some five miles away. It was to be a long, hard, miserable battle.

This push towards the German lines was mounted at the command of General Haig who was feeling confident following the success of the Messines Ridge attack some 6 weeks earlier.

Shelling by both armies over the previous days had turned the ground to mud and this was soon followed by the worst rain in over 30 years, causing conditions to become so horrendous that many men and horses drowned in the ensuing quagmire.

The battle was to rage for 3 months and casualty toll ran to 325,000 Allied troops and 260,000 German soldiers, or 22 men for every foot of ground traveled before reaching Passchendaele.

The churning up of so much land caused disturbed seeds to bloom in vast numbers following the end of World War I. This was especially true for field poppies, whose seeds can remain dormant for many, many years. Every time I see a field of poppies I think of the poor, brave soldiers from both sides of the war, whose lives were made miserable for a long period and then cut short, usually in terrifying and horrible ways.

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Lest We Forget…
~Richard

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