Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Monday, February 13, 2017

An Article on St. Valentine's Day

This is an article on the origin of St. Valentine's Day






February 14th sometimes signifies the first day of Lent, depending upon the date of Easter, and is also Admission Day in Arizona. Most people however, celebrate the day by sending comic or heartfelt Valentines to family, friends and lovers. People seem to delight in St. Valentine’s Day, as florists, candy stores, boutiques and card shops do a rallying business providing heart-shaped novelties of all variety. Chocolate, long known for having properties that produce a euphoric feeling similar to the bittersweet emotion of love, seems an appropriate gift for St. Valentine’s Day.

The origin of the holiday is uncertain, but St. Valentine actually honors two Saints of the same name. One was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of the Emperor Claudius, the other, a martyred Bishop of Interramna. They were both buried in the Flaminian Way, which was later named the Gate of St. Valentine. Today the gate is known as Porta Del Popolo — the Gate of the People. The accounts of these men's lives are legendary, based on sparse historical fact. It is possible, researchers agree, that the legends denote different versions of the martyrdom of only one person. St. Valentine’s Day, as it is known today, is a lovers Festival, bearing no relation to these legends.
One theory as to how the name Valentine came to be applied to the day is founded on the belief in England that birds begin dating on February 14. Chaucer, in his “Parliament of Foules," says it like this: “for this was Seynt Valentine's day. When every foul cometh to choose his mate." Those disagreeing with this claimed that the connection between lovers and St. Valentine stems from a similarity between the Norman word “galantin," meaning a lover of woman, and the name of the saint. St. Still another theory contends that the lover’s custom dates back to the pagan Roman feast of Lupercalia occurring in mid-February young Roman men and women placed their names in a love urn from which their names were drawn at random. During the upcoming year, the young man would be the escorts of the women whose names were matched to their own.

The Christian clergy objected to this pagan custom and substituted the names of saints. Each person, the clergy hoped, which strive to emulate the saint drawn for them. The drawings were held on February 14, the feast of St. Valentine. Yet the drawing of names by young people on St. Valentine's Day continued long after the Christianization of pagan rites had been abandoned. The boy and girl paired by the drawing adopted the practice of giving presents to each other. Later the boy only gave to the girl; so started the custom of sending Valentines to loved ones.

St. Valentine's Day was widely celebrated in William Shakespeare's time, as this quote from Hamlet illustrates:
“Good morrow, ‘tis St. Valentine's Day,
All in the morning betime,
And I am made at your window,
To be your Valentine."

Paper Valentines with inscribed sentiments date from the 16th century. The first printed Valentine, issued in 1669, was probably inspired by “A Valentine Writer”, a book of verses offering help to those not articulate enough to pen their own rhymes. In England, the introduction of Penny postage and envelopes in 1840 popularized the exchange of Valentines and ornamental lace paper Valentines were in great demand. In the U. S., crude woodcut Valentines were fashioned by Robert H. Elton and Thomas W. Strong of New York, but most people preferred the lace paper cards imported from England.
With the establishment of the Post Office, the mail became swamped with Valentines each February. Comic Valentines, as well as coarse vulgar ones, cost only one cent. In the early 1900s, the Chicago post office rejected 25,000 cards on the grounds that they were improper for mail delivery. By the 1930s Valentine cards were primarily an activity for small children, who were taught to make the cards and decorations in kindergarten.

On one particularly gruesome Valentine's Day, the streets ran red with blood and the message given was not one of love. This notorious incident was “The St. Valentines Massacre," in Chicago on February 14, 1929. Al Capone’s gang, disguised as policemen, forced seven members of the rival “Bugs Moran” gang to stand against the garage wall with their arms raised. Capone’s mobsters methodically gunned the rival gang down.

recent years, St. Valentine's Day continues to gain popularity, as lovers and children eagerly await its arrival; perhaps because it breaks the monotony of the long winter. However, not all people recognize the holiday. One husband whose name I will not mention, chooses to totally ignore St. Valentine's Day, even when it falls three days after his wedding anniversary — but that's another story. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

One of the best Memoirs You'll Ever Read!!!

LETTING GO into PERFECT LOVE
Discovering the Extraordinary After Abuse
By Gwendolyn M. Plano

Author Gwendolyn Plano, in this extraordinary memoir, “invites you into my journey, replete with childhood stories and adult meanderings.” Yet this book is so much more, encompassing all elements of life’s struggles, dreams, and heartache which so many readers will latch onto, sharing Plano’s feelings and experiences. I was hooked from the first page until the ending, causing me so many mixed emotions; closing the book with a feeling of love and peace which stayed with me.
Gwen’s first marriage seems heaven sent and produces a wonderful son, Matt. But her husband Bruce develops psychiatric problems so severe that he must be committed, “for his good and yours” says the psychiatrist—leaving Gwendolyn a single Mom, and little Matt on their own.

She gets a second chance with Ron, who seems the perfect man and father figure. Falling deeply in love, she misses some of Ron’s flaws, serious flaws, and marries him.  The bliss of romance soon fades as Ron shows a severe abusive side, unnoticed before- and it grows worse.  There is no easy way to escape a brutal husband, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Over the next 25 years she bears two more sons and a daughter, and Gwen tries heroically to maintain an atmosphere of normalcy.

Abused women are often criticized for tolerating marital torture and not leaving. The situation is complex and author Plano depicts the plethora of reasons in this heart rending story of a woman trapped. It takes increasing and serious abuse of her children to awaken in her a newly found and deeply held faith in God giving her the determination and courage to sever the destructive relationship. Help from angel visitations guide her from an existence in terror to a life of joy and peace.

The second half of the book is written in breathtaking and beautiful verbiage that comes directly from the author’s heart and soul – so deeply embraced by love that I re-read many parts and was left with a sense of peace upon finishing it. This is one story which needs to be read by every woman . . . and man as well. This book is one of the most touching, honest memoirs that I have ever read.

Highly recommended for those searching for their true selves, love and companionship with God and others— “Perfect Love.”


Micki Peluso, author of . . . And the Whippoorwill Sang

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Running on Empty The Irreverent Guru's Guide to Filling up with Mindfulness By Shelley Pernot

Running on Empty
The Irreverent Guru's Guide to Filling up with Mindfulness
By Shelley Pernot 
Shelley Pernot writes a lively, raucous how-to manual on mindfulness, including yoga and meditation--which appears at first a contradiction in terms. 
The author has met all her goals, yet realizes that 'I hate my life,' despite living 'The American Dream.' While sharing a compartment on the Trans-Siberian Railway to China, she meets a woman who is retired and wealthy enough to follow her dreams--doing charity work among poor children. Shelley has an epiphany. This woman has the one thing lacking in Shelley's life. Happiness. 
And so begins the author's journey to find what's missing in her existence. Luckily for her, she has the type of boss who listens when she tells him she needs to leave "to find my mojo. Somehow I've lost it." His answer. "Come back when you can." 
Shelley is an affluent, educated young woman, with a career earned by concentrated effort and determination. She integrates much of these talents into her venture while discovering her own mindfulness. First to go are bad habits--cigarettes, booze and some extra weight. She's an all or nothing woman, who created her life successes which help develop the mindfulness missing in her own life. 
Within her debut book, author Shelley Pernot takes the modern day craze of an ancient concept, adds the useful tools of meditation and yoga, creating a reasonably simple solution to what's missing in many people's lives. Yet its very simplicity is what makes it so elusive.  According to Shelley, we live in a world of multi-tasking (bad for the brain) surrounded and ruled by cell phones, texting, email and other technology. Using excellent analogies, she pinpoints how we have gotten on a treadmill to nowhere. Adding yoga and meditation to her protocol teaches her students to develop a sense of stillness which slows racing minds and aids in focusing. 
Besides writing this course in a witty, real "I've been there" style, the author presents mindfulness charts and practice sheets in easily understood language. I swore I would not take the tests but was quickly hooked, finding my own long lost mojo. 
One of the things that makes this book so helpful is the writer's refusal to make her subject boring while describing a subject about as exciting as watching grass grow---and keeping readers turning the pages. With enthusiasm even! At times (many times) Shelley is as corny as Kansas, uses flip hipster jargon, tells some really bad jokes, and uses an overabundance of cliches . . . yet it works. And works well! 
Shelley Pernot's part memoir, part how-to, told like a stand-up comedian would, draws the reader into the book with her, causing a bond that helps make 'mindfulness' a reality, because she's been there and is aware of all the ways we deceive ourselves. Reading this book is like having a pajama party with your best adult friends -- no secrets and lots of fun. 
Recommended for educated, affluent women, this book crosses all age and gender barriers, from teens who 'have everything,' yet are unhappy through YA and adults of all ages and lifestyles. Who  among us is not reaching out for that 'missing something ' . . . . Mindfulness. 
Micki Peluso

Monday, January 23, 2017

Read a Great Review

One of my favorite #memoirs by talented writer Micki Peluso...
Haven't read it yet? Get your copy today! ~ Bette A. Stevens

December was a busy month for many of us.  It started with our Rave Reviews Book Club’s first Virtual…
MARETHMBOTHA.WORDPRESS.COM/2016/12/31/MY-…

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Christmastime: Past and Present



Christmastime: past and Present

This is a comparison of the Christmases of today as compared with the past. The Spirit is the same.
Christmas; Past and Present
Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Mall, last minute shoppers scurried from store to store; short on patience and with little evidence of the holiday spirit of love. The only ones smiling were the store owners and the costumed Santa, who gets paid to be jolly.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of talking dolls, video games, bicycles and other expensive toys, danced in their heads.Mama in her kerchief and I in my cap had just settled down to tackle the mountain of Christmas bills, which was larger than the national debt.
The moon on the crest of the new fallen snow, reflected the concern of families awaiting the arrival of loved ones traveling on icy roads.Years ago, Christmas seemed easier, less commercial and more enjoyable.Many families lived near each other, and most of the decorations, foodstuffs and presents were homemade. While there was stress and haste to accomplish the needed tasks by Christmas Eve, the stress was different than what is experienced today. Generations past did not seem to lose sight of the reason for Christmas; a birthday celebration of sharing and love.
The nostalgia of horse-drawn sleigh rides through wooded country roads is sorely missed. Bells jingling accompaniment to carols sung off key by bundled-up children in the back of the sleigh, is a thing of the past. Yet Christmas retains an aura of magic, nonetheless.
Originally, the Christian church did not acknowledge Christmas at all, as such observance was considered a heathen rite. The earliest records of any Christmas celebration dates back to the early part of the third century.Gift giving, as a custom, may have originated with the Romans, relating to their worship of Dionysus at Delphi.
The Christmas tree comes from the Germans, although its origin has been traced as far back as ancient Egypt. The tree replaces a former customary pyramid of candles, part of the pagan festivals. There is a legend that Martin Luther brought an evergreen home to his children and decorated it for Christmas. German immigrants carried this custom with them to the New World, but it did not gain popularity until 1860, when John C. Bushmann, a German, decorated a tree in Massachusetts and invited people to see it. Evergreens, a symbol of survival, date to the 18th century when St. Boniface, honoring the Christianization of Germany, dedicated a fir tree to the Holy Child to replace the sacred oak of Odin. The “Nation’s Christmas Tree,” was the General Grant tree in General
Grant National Park in California, dedicated May 1, 1926,by the town mayor. Thetree was 267 feet high and 3500-4000 years old.Mistletoe, burned on the alter of the Druid gods, was regarded as a symbol of love and peace. The Celtic custom of kissing under the mistletoe comes from the practice of enemies meeting under the plant, dropping their weapons and embracing in peace. Some parts of England decorated with mistletoe and holly, but other parts banned its use due to association with Druid rites. Mistletoe was considered a cure for sterility, a remedy for poisons, and kissing under it would surely lead to marriage.
The 4th century German St. Nicholas, shortened through the years to Santa Claus, has become the epitome of today’s Christmas spirit. St. Nicholas, taking pity upon three young maidens with no dowry and no hope, tossed a bag of gold through each of their windows, and granted them a future. Other anonymous gifts being credited to him were emulated and the tradition grew. The Norsemen enhanced the legend of Santa Claus coming down the chimney with their goddess, Hertha, known to appear in fireplaces, bringing happiness and good luck.
Sir Henry Cole, impressed by a lithograph drawing, made by J.C. Horsley, instigated the idea of Christmas cards. It took eighteen years for the custom to gain popularity, and then it was adopted mainly by gentry. Christmas was banned in England in 1644, during the Puritan ascendancy. A law was passed ordering December 25th a market day and shops were forced to open. Even the making of plum pudding and mincemeat pies was forbidden. This law was repealed after the Restoration, but the Dissenters still referred to Yuletide as “Fooltide.”
The General Court of Massachusetts passed a law in 1657 making the celebration of Christmas a penal offense. This law, too, was repealed, but many years would pass before New England celebrated Christmas.
When Washington crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War, it was the observance of Christmas that made his conquest of the British a success. The enemy was sleeping off the affects of the celebration.
Befana, or Epiphany, is the Italian female counterpart of Santa Claus. On Epiphany, or Twelth Night, she is said to fill children’s stockings with presents. According to legend, Befana was too busy to see the Wise Men during their visit to the Christ Child, saying that she would see them on their way back to the East. The Magi, however, chose a different route home, and now Befana must search for them throughout eternity. The sacred song traditionally sung on her yearly visit is the Befanata.
The number of Magi visiting the stable on that first Christmas Eve could be anywhere from two to twenty. The number three was chosen because of the three gifts; gold, frankincense and myrrh. Western tradition calls the Magi, Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, but they have different names and numbers in different parts of the world.
Though distinctly Christian, the social aspect of Christmas is observed and enjoyed by many religious and ethnic groups. Rabbi Eichler, during a sermon in Boston in 1910 explains why: “…Christmas has a double aspect, a social and theological side. The Jew can and does heartily join in the social Christmas. Gladly, does he contribute to the spirit of good will and peace, characteristic of the season. It was from the light of Israel’s sanctuary that Christianity lit its torch. The Hanukkah lights, therefore, justly typify civilization and universal religion.”
Dr. Clement Clarke Moore, a professor at the General Theological Seminary in New York, penned the famous poem, “Twas the Night before Christmas.” Dr.Moore never intended for the poem to be published. Miss Harriet Butler, daughter of the rector of St. Paul’s Church in Troy, New York, accompanied her father on a visit to Dr. Moore. She asked for a copy of the poem and sent it anonymously to the editor of The Troy Sentinel. A copy of the newspaper carrying his poem was sent to Dr. Moore, who was greatly annoyed that something he composed for the amusement of his children should be printed. It was not until eight years later, that Dr. Moore publicly admitted that he wrote the poem.
Christmas is the favorite Holiday of children, who unquestionably accept the myth of Santa Claus. In 1897, one little girl began to have doubts as to the reality of Santa Claus, and wrote to the New York Sun, asking for confirmation. Her letter read: Dear editor, I am eight years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says,”If you see it in The Sun, it’s so. Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?” Virginia D’Hanlon.
Francis P. Church’s editorial answer to the little girl became almost as famous as Dr. Moore’s poem. In part, this is what he wrote: Virginia, your little friends are so wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe, except they see… Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exists….Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as if there were no Virginia’s…No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”
It is sentiments like this that warm the heart of child and adult alike, as Christmas nears. It is not the gifts, soon forgotten, that make Christmas a time of wonder and magic. It is the love within all people for God, for children, for each other. During this hectic holiday season, take a moment or two to savor the true meaning of Christmas.
“And I heard him exclaim
As he drove out of sight,
Happy Christmas to all,
And to all a Goodnight!”
Dr. Clement Clarke Moore

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Special Book for a Special Holiday

The elusive whippoorwill swoops down the mountains.
Through night into dawn it's song mourns summer's loss--
as I cry mine.   
    AND THE WHIPPOORWILL SANG, a 304 page memoir, opens with eloping teenagers, Micki and Butch, in a bizarre double wedding ceremony with Micki’s mother.  The couple share comical escapades, spanning decades. A terrible accident occurs in a placid valley nestled in the Susquehanna Mountains. Micki narrates happier days while confronting an uncertain future. One of her six children is fighting for life in the hospital. The family embarks upon its unbearable journey to the other side of sorrow . . . 
    And so  in the throes of grief, a writing career was born.
    I published a short story of this memoir, resulting in  25 years of writing essays, commentary, and slice of life for two major newspapers, and staff writer for the Staten Island Register. I've published humor, horror and paranormal fiction in e-zines, print magazines, and contests and a half dozen award winning anthologies. I recently published a children's story., The cat Who Wanted a Dog. "Don't Pluck the Duck," a collection of comedic essays, short fiction and non-fiction stories,will be released in early 2017.
    Each day the lives of children are lost through alcohol and drug related deaths. Each of them was special to those who loved them--each deserves remembrance. This book was written for each of them.