Monday, September 7, 2015

The 3 Most Important Movies I Have Seen in the Last Couple of Years

The people in my life know what level of respect and feeling I have for America's Warriors.

I am in awe of them, and I respect and thank them for choosing to protect and defend to their very lives.
I can actually "see things" in my subconscious when I am near certain friends who have served in some of the most important theaters on different continents and in different decades.

If you haven't yet, I encourage you to see all of these movies. Not necessarily in a movie marathon or something. 

It will be powerful. And thought provoking. And important.

1.  Acts of Valor

      Utilizing Active US Navy SEALs to play the role of, well, US Navy SEALs; Acts of Valor had me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Holding my breath, and FEELING the tension and almost feeling like I was there with them. The realistic manor in which this was filmed heightened the powerful emotions, and I cried openly at the depth of the seriousness and intensity. I cried because this was real. I cried because these are real people risking their lives. These are real people that do a job that is so challenging, and requires such difficult decisions, that the scenario had to be TONED DOWN for the big screen! This is not a fictional story filled the with faces of well known Hollywood handsomes. There are no cleverly written lines. This is important for people to see and understand and know. This is REAL. We saw this in the theater when it first came out. The theater was still and silent as it ended, and we all just sat there quietly watching as photos and video clips of the real soldiers' lives flashed before our eyes, and until all the credits had passed. Not a dry eye to be found.

2. American Sniper

     Most of us have now come to recognize the story of U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle. The Warrior who served several tours in Afghanistan and hallowed for his hyper marksmanship, lauded as the most lethal sniper in US Military History. Thanks to the thoughtful directing of Clint Eastwood, this movie is powerful, and shares a lot about what is happening for family and friends on the home front while our Warriors are serving, and again as warriors are attempting to re-integrate back to "normal life". Difficult choices are being made on both sides, and relationship things are challenging, and yet the commitment to each other is as strong as the commitment to country. We are all now familiar with the part of the story where he and another Warrior are murdered by a young man recently returned from the conflicts. This actually happens while the movie is being filmed, and the intended ending is modified. His widow asks that the project is continued. We saw this movie in the theater, and I found myself holding my breath every time he pulled that rifle to his shoulder and peered through the scope, releasing my breath only once the target had been achieved. This movie is an important reminder, not only of the level of talent and skill our warriors have and the level of training they go through, but also of the human side of their lives. A debt of gratitude is owed to the families at home, waiting and loving and worrying. Again, as the movie ends, the entire auditorium is silent except for those of us crying as the final scenes of real footage of the funeral procession, and the credits roll. No one moves until the lights come on.

3. Lone Survivor

     Another movie based on actual events and real people in modern war. The title gives away that this story does not have a happy Hollywood ending. The power of their brother-bond as soldiers and warriors is a huge focus here. We watched this at home, and I was riveted. LOTS of "F-Bombs", but totally appropriate for the story. I cried. Again. I cried because what seams like the right and humane thing to do turns out to be the worst thing they could have done. I cried because those decision have to be made in war. I cried because these men bounced down cliffs, and were shot multiple times, yet they continued to fight in an attempt to bring down the evil that not only wanted to kill them, but wants us all dead as well. I cried because through unspeakable pain and injury, these heroes fought the enemy until their very last breath. I cried because in the midst of hell, there are good people, and soon the protected become the protectors. This time, it was my very own living room that fell silent as the real life footage scrolled across the screen, and the real faces of real heroes filled my home. Tears falling from my eyes.

I THANK GOD for men like those portrayed in these movies.
I thank GOD that some of them in generations past were my family.
I think GOD for those that are friends in my life now.

I honor them.
I revere them.
I grieve the loss of them on this planet.
I grieve for their families who loved them enough to let them go and fight for our country, and the world.
I grieve for us, as a nation, and yet rejoice that there are such heroes in this generation.

Because of men like those portrayed in these movies, we all have the opportunity to
Live Well


Saturday, September 5, 2015

A Little History on Crochet

Crochet was once an embellishment exclusively for the garments of the upper echelons and the elite.

Crocheted laces have a long history that begins in the early 1820’s, with the earliest known printed examples of crochet patterns from a Dutch magazine called Penelope circa 1824.

Some years earlier there is a descriptive narrative from 1812 that describes “shepherd’s knitting” as a method of making garments from hand-spun wool. This yarn was likely made by collecting tufts of wool that had snagged on bushes or might have been in the animal’s sleeping area, combing it, and using the hands to pull the fibers apart and twist them together. A hook made from a comb, or carved from a stick would then be used to work the loops to form the fabric.

Crochet began to solidify itself as a ladies fine work in the mid 1800’s, and purses and handbags were some of the first articles crocheted with published patterns made regularly as a demonstration of one’s fine workman ship and wealth. Stitched from silk, gold and linen threads, these elegant satchels would speak volumes about a ladies status without her having to utter a word.

Brittan's Queen Victoria pictured crocheting.
She was also a prolific knitter and needle worker of all sorts. She taught her daughters to stitch as well

Some of the most identifiable crocheted articles begin to emerge in circa 1845 when Ursuline Nuns at the Presentation Convent in Blackrock, County Cork Ireland. As the infamous potato famine left families perishing, a school was established to teach the art of making crocheted lace to help relieve economic distress.

Known as Irish Lace, this unique and often easily identified lace technique is lavishly embellished with individually crocheted flowers, roses and vines, on a crocheted lace mesh. Often these pieces were made by many hands, as one person might make flowers, and another leaves, and another would have the task of joining the piece work to create the final product.

While the world of lace was revolutionized with the development of Irish Lace, American Pioneers made crochet a useful pastime. The adaptability and portability of crochet found it everywhere across the growing nation. While sewing and knitting were constant necessities, crochet became a beautiful pastime which allowed women mostly, of all ages, to create beautiful items for no other purpose than to beautify an otherwise utilitarian environment. Lovely window coverings and lace garment edgings were common in women’s magazines.

Community knitting of socks became a Patriotic necessity during any war, but in particular WWI we so even children pitching in, and there is still quite a bit of evidence in antique propaganda that can be found. But as the war came to its end, leisure work began to make its appearance once more. Women had become more businesslike in their attire as materials and the industry to make them were directed to supporting the war efforts. As lace making began to make its appearance again, it’s output did not, and another element of women’s fashion developed as these laces were more and more frequently applied and made for undergarments. As the Roaring 20’s blossomed, and racy was becoming more the fashion, enticed young women turned their hands toward the making of scandalous “scanties”. Crochet designers published pattern books of boudoir items that were delicate, lacy and feminine.

Crochet remained a pastime of creating finery, until the rebellious children of the 1960’s picked up rope, yarn, wire and anything else they could get a hook on and went on tangents that no one ever thought existed. Men and women created baskets, turned Granny’s Square into and octagon, created three dimensional shapes and utilized colors that had never been explored before.

Our fashion pattern magazines and books now explore even further, and yet still the foundational beautification of domestic necessities still has a strong place in today’s crochet.