Thursday, December 27, 2012

School shootings ~ where did it all begin and when will it end ?

     While the entire country is still reeling from the shock of what happened two weeks ago, early on Friday morning, I have been going down memory lane recalling similar inexplicable shootings that have spanned more than three decades. It seems to have escalated in the past couple of years and in reality it has just been a deluge that is increasing with time. In short, this is not a recent phenomenon. When Obama says that this has happened too many times in our country he's saying a mouthful. It is so saddening to think that with all the opportunities, blessings and wealth in this country we cannot seem to get past our societal ills enough to start tackling this particular insidious problem in the way that we should.
     The first outcry from the media, politicians and special interest groups is that the availability of guns is the culprit. It doesn't help- that's for certain. I would remind everyone, however, that people are responsible for the actual use of guns and there is too much irresponsibility on the part of adults and not enough caution taught to our children. It seems that no one wants to look at the real issue which is the actual people who are picking up tactical and assault weapons. If you Google the word shootings you'll get a long list of individuals who come in all shapes, sizes, colors, ages and backgrounds. These are people that shouldn't have weapons available to them at all. How would we disarm them if we can't even get a profile on them ?
     Let's go back to where I believe this all started. If someone can remember an incident prior to the January 1979 shooting in San Diego by a sixteen year old teenager, Brenda Spencer, please come forward to correct me. The details can be found on this link if you need to refresh your memory... 
     The callousness of this so-called flagrant act was a type of shield to the underlying mental problems and societal phenomenon that absolutely no one in a court of law can support in good conscience. In addition, it is an automatic dismissal in taking responsibility for how this type of human being becomes a creature subhuman to our sensibilities because they can perpetrate horrific violence when they themselves are in pain. Many parental adults promote and prize deflection and outright denial instead of teaching their children to take emotional responsibility for their actions. They do it without even thinking about what they are teaching their children. When these children or young adults try to navigate their immediate adolescent society, everything must be put back upright. Most likely they can begin to feel manipulated instead of being able to take control. I imagine it is much worse now than when I experienced it as a teenager. This problem has become much more complex since that time.
     In all the commentaries I have read in newspapers and online this single sentence written by the Catholic Archbishop of Denver stood out more than all the rest:  
"We're most often the victims of evil when we become objects- used for someone's else's purposes- instead of treated with the inherent dignity that comes just from being a person." 
Samuel J. Aquila
     The most difficult part of acknowledgement of these crimes is that the perpetrators are victims as well. Even if they are their own victim it doesn't help to view them as anything less than human themselves. We do not want to believe that we are capable of such an act, especially when it is perpetrated against the most helpless human beings we can think of- which are children. Were Brenda or Adam adults ? Was T.J. Lane's motivation similar in Ohio this February ? Was Jacob Roberts a local to Clackamas, OR ?  Was James viewed as a mental patient prior to the shooting in Aurora ? Was James Huberty, originally from Canton, OH, merely following a teenager's example when he left his house in San Ysidro, CA in 1984, telling his wife that he was 'hunting humans' and returned to the McDonald's he had stopped at earlier in the day with his wife and children and opened fire on the customers killing 21 people, wounding 19? Among that carnage were four young children. All of the above mentioned had numerous assault weapons. They also have one other attribute in common.
     They all fell through the cracks of early detection. I believe every one of the massacres I have mentioned here could have been prevented. If you read more about these individuals as human beings who started out life as a child and grew up to be the aberration which makes them cold bolded killers you will be a little closer to actually solving this problem. There is no sense in bringing in the strictest of gun laws and not dealing with the mental problems of these human beings. If you watch the following video- paying particular attention to the blonde woman, Pat Busher, who speaks about four minutes into it -you'll hear a very sensitive and meaningful response to this issue.
     I agree with her wholeheartedly that we must institute more and better qualified intervention systems than we presently have in place. Our social services offices are swamped with cases and run by people unqualified to handle or even identify the individuals I have mentioned. If they were qualified they would still need more staff to effectively handle the caseloads. Many cases of child abuse exacerbate to the point of the deaths of many children and the numbers in the Denver area are staggering. If the loss of twenty extremely young lives is not enough to wake us up to the root problem I don't know what will except something far worse. At present, I can't imagine what that would be and I don't want to find out.
     The other part to the solution is that parents need to be more involved with their children and those children who associate with their children. We all know, down deep, what to do to make sure our kids are safe, happy and yes, well adjusted.       

With deep concern,
The Castle Lady 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Recession ? Rescission !

      As a proud owner of a vintage copy of What Color is Your Parachute ? for going on twenty-six years now you'd think that I would've purchased a brand new copy since it is updated every year. Always jam-packed with great quotes, illustrations (some of castles!), great job hunting ideas, self-help tests and self-evaluation tools and much more, Parachute will help you find out how to get back to working or revitalize your life with a new career. Even for a self-employed person, which I have been most of my life, the information contained between the covers has been precious. The perpetual author is Richard N. Bolles who always welcomes criticisms and suggestions as to what he should do with his revision next year. He has been writing and rewriting this marvel of publishing since 1977 and the reading is delightfully uplifting. There is no dreary advice in it which instructs you to snap out of anything or to simply pick yourself up and dust yourself off. As a matter of fact, Dick's style is so positive that it is absolutely infectious and really helps you get those cognitive juices going again. 
     I have had the opportunity to peruse the 2013 edition recently which I borrowed from the library and noticed immediately on the cover that over 10 million copies of this book have been sold to date! I expected to see a lot of similarities with the revision but, in fact, it is practically a completely different book with plenty of online resources of which my 1986 edition is bereft. Online references were rather non-existent with the amount of technology readily available to the average consumer at that time. (There is one brief chapter for instructions on setting a priority grid (spreadsheet) on a computer other than an Apple with BASIC in the 1986 edition !)  
     The new book provides plenty of practical information alongside quizzes and worksheets to help you on job interviews, how to network, using social media, writing resumes, negotiating salaries or starting your own business along with prodigious encouragement throughout the book but especially in the Pink Pages which are located in the back of the book. Pink pages seem like a  reference for your individuality and trump cards for the rough road of getting back into the workforce. There is a lot more information on networking and the self evaluation worksheets have taken on a brilliant organization that is admirable. Mr. Bolles never claimed to be a literary maven and in this new version he explains in one portion of the preface why he often uses the English language in such an unorthodox fashion. Apparently he has garnered a plethora of disrespect from unemployed English teachers.
     With the 2013 revision, it is obvious to me that Dick has made a true mission of bringing each reader into a frame of mind that will help them find their bliss in employment. That alone is worth taking a look at and this book is not confined to those who are unemployed. It may well help you get out of the rut you are in now and help you find a job or employment which will give you the fulfillment you need in your life. Can we expect that in this shaky economy ? The answer to that can be found in the lyrics of a Tracy Chapman song:
If not now- then when?
With high hopes !

Friday, November 30, 2012

An idea for a new reality show...

It's called Sparring with the Stars !
What do you think ?

In a rare mood,

The Castle Lady

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Fruits of Her Labor

     Recently, before my mother, Mary Jane, went to Heaven I had the good fortune to sit down to a meal with her and tell her what a great mother she had been to me. I knew I was making a memory for myself that I will always cherish but more importantly I didn't miss my chance to say the most important words I could say besides 'I love you'. As I was looking over her room this week I realized suddenly that there was so much more I should have taken the time to say during our walk together on this planet and it made me a little sad to think of how different I could have made our mutual life if I had expressed all those fine thoughts while she was alive. It makes me think of the words of Rudyard Kipling who said, "No one thinks of winter when the grass is green."
     Most of the time our conversations centered around and about other people- friends, family, clients, celebrities, politicians, musicians and Hollywood stars. She could talk to everyone about everything but she always brought Jesus and the words of the Bible into each and every conversation no matter who she was talking to and I admired that ability she possessed. I have tried to emulate it to the best of my ability in my adult life and I believe that it has made a tremendous difference in my walk with God through the years. I have seen others- friends, family and customers follow suit so I know she has kept her promise to God which was to witness for Him. I'm sure she started a chain and that many people became good witnesses for Christ because she was always mindful of being a faithful witness. She's probably enjoying the fruits of that labor right now. There is no need to weep for Mom but I know that most of us who cry- on the inside or outside do so because we will miss those conversations and her special way of making people feel good about themselves and the world. Her last words to me were, "I'll fight for you." Perhaps she was contemplating joining the forces of the Powers.
     I have been looking over some of the comments sent to me by friends and family on the Newcomer web site and in cards and letters she has received over the years. One card that caught my attention was a computer generated card made by our brother Patrick Frazier. He wrote, "Through the years, we've always been able to talk about anything. Not many sons can say that, because there aren't many moms like you. And especially on Mother's Day, I just wanted you to know that I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful mom. Happy Mother's Day, Love your son Patrick". I believe he captured one of Mom's best traits in that first sentence- and she had a lot of good ones. I remember her telling me when I was in my young teens that I could tell her anything. That was a powerful promise to me. I took her at her word and I don't know if I ever shocked her. She certainly didn't let on if I did. She probably saved me from self-destruction many times over because of those words. I know I'm going to miss that most of all.
     Our grapevines yielded a huge bumper crop this year and as I have been gathering clusters I've been pondering a passage of the bible in John chapter 15 where it says : I am the true vine and my Father is the are the branches. Those who remain in me and I in them will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. When I look around our home I see afghans Mom has made and I know many members of our family and friends alike have been gifted with these. Mom was a prolific and dedicated worker at everything and she enjoyed people in general. My cousin Stephen said in a comment that he enjoyed her infectious laugh and it's true that most things weren't that funny until Mom laughed. That was the true litmus test for a joke, pun or one-liner. I think she taught us all how to appreciate laughter.
     A good and faithful client of Mom's, Frieda, sent a card that said, "We wish time spent with those we love would last forever..." and it really brought all my thoughts about Mom these last days into focus. It's true. Why do so many of us get separated by death? I can't answer that but I know that Mom has gone on into eternity and that is the best place to be. I know she had last regrets. She wanted her mail-in ballot so she could get her vote in and missed it by a little over a week. It came in the mail yesterday. She wanted to see more peace in the world before she left and to see Jessica Ridgeway reunited with her parents.  
       I'd like to close this eulogy with a quote from Charles Spurgeon because she liked his books and I thought this one quote was most excellent:
A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved and were helped by you will remember
you when forget-me-nots have withered.
Carve your name on hearts not on marble. 
- Charles H. Spurgeon
Respectively and Sincerely,
The Castle Lady 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Circumstances can be circumnavigated...

You can quote me on that. Thus:
Your life depends more on your choices, character and attitude than circumstances.
-Evelyn M. Wallace
With a high kiss quotient,
The Castle Lady

Thursday, August 02, 2012

If this isn't hell...

then what would you call it... ?
     I've just been through the most trying six weeks of my life. It all started right on the official first day of summer and hasn't exactly let up yet. I won't say that it hasn't had its good moments. There are benefits to summer from which I always take full advantage and did so on several occasions- so far. One is my special outdoor hiding place to get a little sun and catch up on all my reading. A second place is my studio in the basement which contains my extensive library, writing materials and records and comfortable reading chair. The basement is the coolest part of my house so it has been a real haven, lately.
     I don't have a single other summer in my memory banks (concerning Denver) where there have been consistent, day after day, 90 degrees to 101 temperatures without afternoon rainstorms or evening cool offs. July was the worst and we've been breaking some heat records from long ago. Relying on the nights to cool off is usually enough to sleep comfortably, however, I can count those days on one hand so far this summer! On July 20th I did something unusual and went walking out in the night air to shoot a couple of baskets up at the park and felt alternating pockets of dry, hot and cool, humid air. I have never experienced that here in Denver prior to this year. I don't know if anyone else that lives here noticed besides myself. I'm a native, so I notice every little subtle nuance of change or weirdness in our weather. That night was weird but not totally unpleasant.
     Even with all the heat, though, it wouldn't have put much of a cramp in my style if I hadn't been awakened suddenly with a crashing noise a little after midnight on June 21st just as I was starting to doze. The noise came from the bathroom so I could only conclude that it was my mother since burglars don't usually attempt to enter your house through solid crystal block windows. I found my Mom laying in the tub with her legs dangling out and I heard her moan pitifully just before I approached the door. I panicked. First I tried to revive her and barely got a response. Instant panic ! I ran for the phone and dialed 9-1-1 and made several trips back and forth between the phone and my Mom whose head was bleeding from the back. When the paramedics and ambulance arrived I swung the door open for them and they managed to stabilize my Mom, put her in a back and head brace and off to the hospital. Mom says she doesn't remember any of it.
     I tried to call every family member and then just headed out the door to the hospital. I met my Dad on the way inside the entrance and was relieved to see him. I was amazed that they had her talking by the time I got down there and had done a scan on her head. She had an outside and inside hemorrhage but the inside was confined to the outer portion of the brain at the time. She told me her neck hurt a couple of times so I prayed that she didn't have extensive injuries and that prayer was answered later on. At three in the morning I headed back to my car in a daze and drove home. I felt like the whole world had come crashing down on me. To say I was crestfallen would be too weak of a word but my poem @ really says it all.
     Since that time Mom has been in and out of the hospital three times, mostly trying to keep her electrolyte balance on an even keel. In short, this roller coaster ride has been going on since then and only seemed to come to a grinding halt, briefly, when I got a call from a resident doctor on staff who called me on Thursday night, July 19th, after I had taken her back to the hospital that day and told me that they had done a scan on her lungs where she said she was hurting and they felt they were looking at tumors on her right lung. After I hung up, I recalled how the day had started and couldn't help but cry by myself for awhile. It wasn't just because of the news but I had come to the end of something. This is not the end I would envision for anyone- leave alone my mother.

     I had taken her to Kaiser that morning for a simple lab test and a visit to her primary care doctor. The temps were already in the 90s and I usually don't drive my car anywhere in summer during the peak heat because I don't have air conditioning. After her test I took her up to see her doctor- who was quite nice and very concerned about Mom. The test results said her electrolytes were dangerously low and she wanted her to go back to the hospital. This time I got the honors and it was a horrendously hot ride right during the peak noon lunch hour and headed downtown. The hospital I had to take her to was a short distance away from a bank I worked at for a little over a year and it brought back memories that were a tad bittersweet. I started thinking about how much my life had changed since that time when I left my position at that bank and started in on my work on castles and ultimately, by 2001, started a new life by taking a grand tour of European castles in September of 2001.
     When we were waiting to be admitted into ER I realized how traumatic the ride had been for both of us and I stage whispered to Mom, "If this isn't hell then what do you call it ?" Everyone that was sitting nearby us starting laughing and I realized that we were all in the same boat one way or another and was glad that I wasn't alone in my feelings. The news I received by that night were a different story because I was alone and there was no one to talk to about it. I suppose this is just a trying time and that my life is going to start going in the direction I want it to but at that moment all I could think about was what I had said to Mom in the ER waiting room. I was wrong, though. Everyone eventually has to go through this and I suppose now is as good a time as any ever will be. Each of us goes about everyday with the idea in our heads that our lives and our world will go on forever. Thinking that way is folly, however. There will be an end and we'll all have to face it but I personally want to put it off for as long as I can. I've got a dream and I won't give up until I fulfill it.
     To conclude this I would like to say that in every difficulty, heartache and tribulation there is always an opportunity for good and to set an example of forward moving, victorious living. It's all in our perspective and the way we handle these times prepares us for all the challenges that are bound to come. It also helps us appreciate the good times and smooth sailing a little more. They're just around the corner, after all.
With breezy and heavenly kisses,
The Castle Lady   

Cat Humor ?

I just love this guy but I don't exactly share the same sentiment.
What does he care ? He's a cat !

Love from
    The Castle Lady

Friday, May 18, 2012

How to fall through the cracks....

     All through April I contemplated the so-called platitude haste makes waste with serious thought and with the classes I've been attending- perfect attendance, I would add- in mind. If I were to rephrase this too often quoted fragmented sentence it would be something like this:
     "There is nothing quite so vulgar as those who execute everything in a rushed or hurried manner. Manners require patience and time sufficient to make yourself understood or do anything well. The vulgarity of haste is a special rudeness which leaves no room for reciprocation- affirmative or rebuttal- to the executor of such handling. Therefore, if the recipient is left with no recourse than to see the backside of their slapdash non-companion whisking themselves away they are free to take the trashed material directly to the trash can from whence it came. It is now where it belongs."
     When examined in this way, it appears to be a harsh way of life. More recently I've come to realize that I don't want haste to be a part of my way of life. It's not a worthy life for me considering my dedication to excellence and making my output to be one of true quality. Attempt to put this idea across to the average cashier in a check-out section of a store these days and you'll get a blank stare, a bag shoved in your face and your change spilled on the floor. Does anybody like that ? How about people who are in such a hurry to get somewhere in their car that they ignore traffic signs, lights and pedestrians to the point of danger?
     If I refuse to work or do anything in a slapdash manner then it only makes perfect sense that I could not and would not learn anything that way nor would I choose to do so. Even if I learned quickly I would pace myself according to my known abilities. If I compare my most recent educational experience to my first career choice education at Emily Griffith Opportunity School I would have every reason to expect that I could learn the material offered in the amount of time prorated for a Graphic Arts degree in two years. It certainly looked feasible to me when I signed on for the program.
     My second thoughts at this juncture, considering the outcome of this past module are in agreement on one sole premise. Despite my great potential, earnest work and perfect attendance, this last month has been an abysmal failure. One, because there was much to learn (for several reasons I will discuss further) and two, there just wasn't sufficient time in my estimation.
     In the Monday and Wednesday classes I was fully engaged with all the coursework- in class, online and homework- and most of the paperwork is in my possession and voluminous. However, a misunderstanding on two key projects has apparently derailed the entire effort, according to Mr. Harris, and a recent horrific event in my neighborhood made it impossible for me to rectify these at the end. I don't understand why my final mark rested on one or two projects when I had done so well through most of the class sessions. I know I did well on the Final Exam. The premise made no sense to me at all. 
     Tuesdays and Thursdays in my Design 103 class were stunted by the absence of the right computer for my first class which was rectified by the second class but immediately set me behind. I struggled all the way through the course because I was trying to familiarize myself with a MAC PRO laptop computer and learning brand new software along with classroom instruction which often took on the form of intervention rather than hands-on for the student (myself) and strictly verbal instruction from the professor when I needed more one-on-one. I'm not criticizing the instructor, merely mentioning that it didn't work in my case. I'm a tactile learner and worker so this shouldn't have been difficult and I did learn a lot of new material and methods in that class- it just wasn't quick enough- my fault, I suppose- or a sufficient amount of material to pass. I should have received and been familiarized well with the MAC itself prior to this class. It wouldn't have been such a struggle otherwise. I believe the instructor was well aware of this even though he may not acknowledge that fact. He assumes everyone can keep pace with him but that would be impossible since he is prodigious in his craft and skill. That is admirable but not exactly conducive to learning in my case. I learn more through observation and tactile use in most cases but this instructor should be nicknamed Roadrunner.
     In both classes I witnessed more than two people receive perfect attendance awards who I knew to have missed at least four classes, consecutively and non-consecutively. I know this because my attendance was 100% from the very first days of the module. Incidentally, I have not received a single such award, in these modules or the first, which was Psych 101 in which I received a 95% and had perfect attendance. I did not know they gave out such awards but they are obviously some kind of a joke.
     During my second module I woke up with a head cold on the second day of my Computer Fundamentals class and I was out for three consecutive classes for that course and English 101. I was told to drop English 101 and found out later that the instructor failed me in the course when she should have just sent in an incomplete. I attended the first class only. I switched over to night classes after that but for some unknown reason my name has not shown up on any roll roster from the time of the change and I had to be written in instead. Perhaps that created some confusion for the schedule coordinator but it's inexcusable, nonetheless.
     I started to think back to my initial appointment to meet with a CollegeAmerica rep and financial advisor. I was informed then that these were fast-track online courses and it's true that I agreed that it was possible for me but I have found circumstances, of any kind, make keeping up impossible. I have made those circumstances clear but I still don't know if anyone concerned really understands what happened. Who would've known I'd get sick and miss classes? I certainly didn't because I almost never get sick.
     At the end of this last module I felt very discouraged when I was shown my percentage in Design 103 and with good reason since it is certainly the most important reason why I have been attending classes in Graphic Arts. The GE courses were way beneath my abilities. Actual college English courses would've been infinitely more interesting and engaging for me than Psychology of Motivation and Interpersonal Communication. Not a bit of it was anything I didn't already know from being strong in the workforce from 1977 up to the present and my independent studies I have kept engaged in all my life. I'm basically a closet nerd. I have been a licensed professional manicurist/nail tech all that time and a store-front salon owner to boot for seven years within that time period. I attended college through the 80s in music performance specializing in flute and became a published poet in 1988 and a published in print author in 2006 with my historical book Robinson and Crawford County. Numerous articles of mine have been published on the internet by various web site owners besides writing and building my own web site on the topic of European castles. I have traveled extensively abroad and speak several languages fluently. I consider myself to be a linguist as I can recognize most languages on sight. Learning is not a difficulty for me at all.
     However, I do believe that the college I have been attending isn't right for me at this stage of my life even though I consider myself to be a super-learner. I feel it isn't a good fit because I am just that and it's highly misunderstood to say it nicely. I have a tendency to finish reading textbooks in a single session because I am compelled to do so and much repeated the material become stale quickly for me, particularly if it is poorly written. I rephrase much of it for myself and go deeper into further research. I believe I do this because I don't feel I really know material until it's as familiar and under my feet as an old song. I have more confidence in myself when I do this and have perfected it in more recent years.
     My methodology is now rooted in the independent research I've been doing for six years so I cannot see myself working (or learning) in any other manner. Going through material just to put a permanent label on something is too foreign for me and strips away the pride I have in the work I do. Graphic Arts and art in general is second nature to me and I've been out there for a long time at various mediums in my arts and crafts. I'm more familiar with studying intensely which requires time to be done right and well. Learning this way is intrinsic to my very being. I wish all other students well and hope this does not discourage anyone. I just happen to be different and I won't give up until I find the right fit for my mode of learning to acquire the knowledge I need.      
Evelyn Wallace

The Castle Lady

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Social Networking and Me

     About eleven years ago I remember my first internet days as full of awe. My first search was simply the word castle and they continue to be a fascination for me that I'm certain will never die. How do I know that's true? Well, I have been researching and reading about castles for years- a long time before the internet ever came to be as popular as it is today. I have books on castles that I bought and have perused from the time I was a teenager. Through the years I spent any extra money I had on books- not just on castles but they have been a particular obsession of mine. My free-time preoccupation piqued with my dream trip in 2001 to see a portion of the castles I read about and fawned over in large photographic tomes.
     As a result, I may not appear to be a very sociable person most of the time except in more recent years, of course. Don't get me wrong. I feel very comfortable meeting people in all walks of life whether they are in cultural functions or stimulating situations and events. It helps when people are of the curious type such as myself. Since 1977, the largest part of my days were spent talking with and working out myriad problems with mostly females of all ages, professions and backgrounds. I learned a lot, during the heyday of my manicuring profession, about women that may have remained a mystery to me for the entirety of my existence. Just being a woman doesn't prepare you for the things you learn from women but it certainly helps, all in all. Sisterhood wins out in a way brotherhood could never measure up. That being said, people are just as important to me as my interests but it always helps if we forage new grounds together.
     This brings me to my subject of internet social networking of which I've only dabbled with during my time online. I've tried some traditional and not so traditional forums but to me they are very alike in that there is a division between those who are looking for a mate and those who truly want to engage in socializing on a somewhat less personal level. My forte is the latter rather than the former and is one of the reasons that I have never delved much deeper than my blog, e-mail and occasional IMing. You won't find me on Facebook for a very good reason, in other words, not neglect. I've used MSN Messenger for IMing which I still prefer to tweeting (I'm not on Twitter), and LinkedIn has become a necessity because of my ambitions and the fact that it is a superior forum for serious professionals.
     Facebook is self-described as being a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. This service is meant to help people keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, post links and videos and learn....etc. What concerns me the most is that through MSN Messenger and their Live Spaces (which started out as MSN Spaces- blogs, basically) and their unique way of connecting people, Facebook has taken its place and offered none of what the internet truly has to offer. That would be the world itself, in all its splendor. My opinion is that Facebook and copycat forums do nothing more than sport the superficialities of people and don't offer their adherents a chance to explore anything else. Actual web sites offer a lot more than Facebook ever will and there is more to be said about exchanging e-mails with someone half-way across the world that you genuinely like than a person with an enticing photo who, in reality, would probably pass on the other side of the street if you'd been beaten and robbed and don't look anything like their photo, in reality, to boot.
     To me, the internet connected me with a world I ordinarily would have to get in a plane and gallivant all over the globe to find and chat with and if I'm wrong someone show me clear evidence to support otherwise. It is not a place to reinvent yourself because that's just conceit. Perhaps it is a place to make your dreams come true. I have no problem with that because it's what I'm basically doing and enjoying immensely.  
When dreams die life is a barren field covered with snow... -Langston Hughes

The Castle Lady

Sunday, May 06, 2012

A time to be silent....

     The most invisible aspect of this world is the mind of a person- until they open their mouth.
-The Castle Lady
     For those of you who might be unaware of why you haven't been seeing a lot of output from me this year, thus far, I wanted to tell you all about what is happening right now and give you a possible idea of what to expect in the near future. Beginning in February of this year I re-entered the world of career college for the third time in my life and by the mid-point of 2013 will have a degree in Graphic Arts if everything goes as planned. It's been a long period of time between my last class at a city college university and this year so it's probably not necessary for me to go on about the difficulty of having my daily routine thrown to the wind or getting back into a modus operandi of absorbing knowledge quickly rather than at my own pace which varies. Perhaps my memories of those days are a bit nostalgic- in the best sense of the word. Learning is a manifold process but I've discovered that I have become very set in my ways of my mode of learning as opposed to the fast track way in which higher education school systems choose to teach and that is all-inclusive of any age, gender or cultural heritage.
     Libraries now regularly have noisy interactive sessions for pre-school age children that send serious scholars scampering away from libraries in droves. Allowance of cell phone usage, video game interaction on the available computers and a general non-enforcement of the age-old quiet rule seems to be prevalent- to my chagrin. I know I'm not alone in being perturbed but no one else seems to be willing to speak up. Noise tolerance is becoming a real chore and disturbance and distraction is no longer confined to libraries but any place where silence is generally preferred over noise. Whatever may be said about interactive learning I cannot believe that anyone can learn anything by talking over the instruction. I don't know who originally quoted this but it bears repeating: No one ever learned anything without spending at least one half of their time listening.
     My first course back in February was Psych 101 and I was very interested in taking this as a first course because it happened to be my favorite in high school. I figured that it would be a great refresher course and perhaps I would learn something new along the way since I hadn't taken any Psychology courses in college. As it turned out I had taken on most of the information independently through the years according to my own interests. Left brain/Right brain theories were explored and some of the information resembled Earl Nightingale pep-talk courses I have perused through audiobooks over the years. Some information was new to me but most of it was knowledge I had already acquired through self-study. A revelation to me as I looked around the classroom were the number of female students who wanted to talk about anything else but the course materials and primarily themselves while the minutes and hours ticked away. Instead of listening to the professor (which was delivered by him in a very engaging and contemporary style, I must add) we were often just sitting around listening to someone's hard luck story instead of the subject matter. I pored over the book at night in my free time and was pleasantly surprised. However, to be honest, I certainly didn't sign on to listen to cult of personality mishmash and I'm certain no one else did either.
     Nothing much was said by the prof throughout that four week course until the last week and by then it was rather late in the day to say anything about how disrespectful this bunch of magpies really were. I kept hearing him tell them how smart they all were while key people either floundered or just tried to muddy on by themselves in the proverbial quiet desperation most people endure in such situations. It didn't phase me because I had already explored all those ideas and I'm a writer. It was easy for me to do most of the work in my free time while the classroom magpies carried on. I'm not surprised that my fellow group research buddies dumped the project on me because getting anything accomplished in that environment was next to impossible. It wasn't without resentment that I handed in the paper with my name and two other persons who did none of the actual research, typing the paper to format or any of the actual writing work at all. Overall I'd have to say I really need to get more assertive about delegating chores to people. I'll have to do it someday so I probably should start pulling my mitts on now.
     Perhaps I should tell you that my writing will be a little less than my usual prolific output but I don't want to mislead you in any way. I may start actually writing something on this particular blog every day, in fact. Just don't make any bets concerning the near future- in speaking or writing I make it count or I don't say anything at all.
The Castle Lady
with affection of a quality that has no fear of time !

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Thoughts on A Stolen Life

      I am often tempted to simply write reviews on books I read. You won't see those here but I have quite a few on my WordPress blog. You may check them out here: and look for the category on books. Jaycee Dugard's book, A Stolen Life, caught my eye last summer when I was shopping at Sam's Club and I decided that it would be worthwhile to read. While it may not be a high literary work it certainly left a good impression on me not only for its lucidity but also for the wise content which made me feel a whole lot better about the outcome of her entire story. To be more apt it would've sufficed to title the book A Stolen Time. Her book showed me that she came out of the ordeal with her head still screwed on straight and her gentle character intact.
     The proceeds from the book were stipulated by Jaycee to go to a special foundation she started (JAYC Foundation) to make sure that those who received animal-assisted therapy and support and services for families recovering from abductions and traumatic experiences will have the funds they need and to take a program into the schools creating awareness of caring about people. JAYC stands for her motto which is Just Ask Yourself to ...Care !
      What I found particularly illuminating about Jaycee's account is that it was written in her own words as a part of her recuperation therapy and many of the chapters have reflections at the end about what she was currently experiencing while writing it. Those reflections give a true insight into what it is like to be a kidnapped prisoner and how humans cope under those circumstances. As I read it I realized that Jaycee is an exceptional person in her feelings, emotions and empathies. Many people won't understand her motivations but they will get a glimpse of how people survive well under the most dire circumstances.
     The following excerpts are either those which I thought were particularly wise or give an insight into the honest nature of all the people involved in what happened to her. If you are unfamiliar with the details of what happened to Jaycee her book is more than sufficiently supplied and contains only truths. I only found one discrepancy in the book and it didn't involve her circumstances- only a dream memory which was unrelated to her immediate situation.
     Briefly, before summer of 1991, Jaycee was abducted by a married man and woman, Phillip and Nancy Garrido, on her way to school. (Phillip was a paroled sex offender who was kept under psychiatric watch and care and regularly visited by parole officers.) They tasered this eleven year old girl, took her to their home where he stripped and humiliated her immediately, locked her in a shack in his backyard and repeatedly raped her for an unknown amount of successive days. This ordeal continued for eighteen years in which she gave birth to two daughters (the first at age 14, the second at 17) and was shuttled back and forth between two shack compounds under lock and key until they actually allowed her a beach outing, a nail salon visit (ironically, enough) and shopping at Walmart in 1998. It wasn't without close surveillance and by that time the psychological games played on her had made her fearful of trying to get away from them.    
   From the beginning of the Introduction:
          ...Philip Garrido believes no one should find out what he did to an eleven year old He also believes he is not responsible for his actions. I believe differently.
     From a clandestine journal she started keeping in 1998 after seven years of captivity:
          I don't know how I would react to a man touching me after what I have been through....Not that I would know what that is like...I don't think the kind of love I dream about is real.    
     From journal entry dated January 31, 2003:
          I can't stop myself from imagining me just taking the girls and getting in the car, starting it and leaving this horrible place forever....I don't even know how to drive, but I can still see myself doing it just to get away.
     " " " " February 22, 2003:
           I don't think I could survive by myself outside of these walls...Why do I have to miss her [my mom] so much? She hasn't been a part of my life in so long. I don't even remember what she looks like.... Sometimes I dream about her. They are fuzzy, hazy dreams...My last memory is of her forgetting to kiss me good-bye that morning.
     " " " " May 3, 2003:
          I feel sometimes like I'm still the same age as when IT (the first rape) happened. I hate this feeling. I want to grow up. But how do I do that here?...Being here has changed me.
     " " " " June 6, 2003
          Reading is an escape for me. I ask myself, what am I escaping from? I don't know, I just...maybe I am escaping myself. I'm not happy or comfortable with myself. When I'm reading I can lose myself, maybe even become like the beautiful women I read about. Strong, independent women that do things by themselves. I should be taking control of my body and getting strong and healthy; I put on so much weight from the babies, my body has changed so much. I just can't seem to get motivated. Nancy is always bringing in so much candy... Maybe one day when I'm finally ready to take control of myself I will.
     " " " " September 2, 2003
          I don't understand why I'm not happy. ....I mean I should be happy.... I just feel angry that I will never see my friend again [Jessie] or my real family.
     " " " " October 12, 2003
          I guess I have turned a switch off inside of me. In the beginning I did it to survive. Now it's just a habit....I've done enough crying for two lifetimes.
     " " " " December 18, 2003
          On a promo for the news tonight the press is speculating that the man that killed Polly Klass also took and killed me. It is so hard to express the feelings I'm feeling. They showed a brief picture of me and then the killer. That was so painful to watch.
     " " " " June 27, 2004
          Lonely, that's how I feel. Lonely and incomplete. I want to run but have no idea where to run to. I want to yell, but I don't want to hurt anybody. I want to say something, but I don't know what to say. Love is the easy part: it's the living without the love you need that is hard. ...Did I have a choice that day? Could I have chosen to stay home from school? I would have been punished, but my life would not have changed so completely as it did. Would I choose to be here even with everything that's happened?
     " " " " September 4, 2004
          ...But he [Phillip Garrido] will never take responsibility for what he does. It's always someone else's fault...
     " " " " Sept 21, 2006
          All Phillip and Nancy do is sleep all day...Phillip hears voices...I work all day and they sleep...Maybe he will get the help he needs now from the psychiatrist.
     From the concluding chapter, Firsts for Me:
          I've learned that verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse and take longer to heal from. But I'm doing that as well. I'm healing from the physical and verbal abuse I endured for so long.
     On August 26, 2009 after Garrido was arrested for parole violation he took his wife, two daughters and Jaycee with him for his return to the parole office. In Jaycee's own writing the only reason why he so easily gave himself up in this way was because, "Nobody remembered me. I know it only fed Phillip's delusions that he was somehow above the law." However, that day Jaycee was taken aside, questioned several times by different people and finally could only write the name she was born with because she had become unable to say her real name. Writing her name finally freed her and her two children from the psychologically manipulative Garrido grip that came close to destroying her and she has been rehabilitating since that time.
     I applaud the bravery of this young woman who could have easily just quietly slipped out of the spotlight and tried to heal alone. Her sensitivity not just to animals but all living beings impressed me beyond any words I can write in description and I'm so glad she wrote this account no matter how painful it must have been to write it. In closing this entry I would like to tell her personally that her life has only started. It begins now. Don't wait for the world to recognize the greatness inside you. Let your light shine and let people know how you feel. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain if you give the world your version of yourself. God bless and keep you for the rest of your many days to come ! 
All quotes in black are directly from the book, A Stolen Life
by Jaycee Dugard
© 2011 by Luna Lee, Inc.
Text in pink, All Rights Reserved by Evelyn M. Wallace
February 2, 2012 
 from Evelyn WallaceThe Castle Lady

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

On Texting and Driving...

     I found this in the newspaper today and thought I'd share. Apparently, this item was sent in by a reader who spotted a sign on the lawn of a Lutheran church in southeast Denver:
     Honk if you love Jesus.
Text as you are driving and you may see him soon. 
The Castle Lady

Thursday, January 05, 2012

The Sign of Our Days

     One of my favorite authors is Debbie Macomber who I began reading on occasion during my first year working as a nail technician many years ago. The salon where I worked had a full library of paperback novels and I usually read one or two books a week on my hour-long lunch breaks. I discovered her among the romance novelists and she was different in her approach to the point of total discretion but they really were romantic with some realism thrown in for good measure. After I would read her novels I'd often feel as though I could have the same happily married ending. While I may still be waiting on that- no laughing please !- when I took up reading more of her books within the last decade she had become a very well-rounded author by touching on new subjects and various series which appealed to a wider audience. This year she has come out with a book, which is titled One Perfect Word, that I am keenly interested in reading. It is a non-fiction inspirational book focused on a very interesting premise. The following is her own description of it:
      "For almost twenty years now I've chosen a word to focus on for the year. My word for 2012 came to me in October: magnify. I find it far too easy to think about problems and concerns, so I decided that instead of concentrating on those, I would turn my thoughts to God instead. I want to use the year 2012 to magnify the Lord in my life.
     Actually, I've had some pretty amazing things happen when I've concentrated on a single word for the year. In January my new non-fiction book, One Perfect Word, will be released. In this book I recount a few of the growth steps along my spiritual journey through these words. If you choose a word each year and would like to share your choice for 2012 with me, I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can write me via my Guestbook."
     Interestingly enough, I have been using this particular concept on a daily basis for two decades now and have found that the Lord often supplies me with a scripture to support it. I understand Debbie's concept and I feel that her word for the year is marvelous for focusing and stabilizing for long term effect and for breaking through stubborn problems or those which are complex and difficult to solve. My plan dealt with each day-to-day challenge for coping and overcoming- for everything from rush hour traffic to dealing with homeless people. God always seemed to supply the right word or phrase and it was comforting to know that He was right by my side helping me every step of the way- every day.
     Now that I face different challenges which are more similar to Debbie's lifestyle of writing a good part of the time rather than regular workday issues I think the concept of her book might be a little closer to my current needs. All I need now is a word for this year. I believe I'm going to choose the word miracles because I could use a few this year and I'd like to step back for awhile and see what God can do. Wish me mazel tov !
The Castle Lady