I Need Your Help!

If you can, it would be great to help him out!!

amateur airplanes

Isn’t it great how a school project for your kids becomes a school project for you? My son is in kindergarten this year and they are starting a project called “From Here to There”. This is a postcard project where they collect postcards to display. His list so far consists of Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. Here is where your help is needed. If you are generously willing, my son and I would appreciate it greatly if you could send him a postcard. They can be blank or you can write a message to the class. When it comes down to it, we will be happy for anything. So if you are willing to help out, you can send them to the address below.

Morgan Township School

Attn: Jackson Wilson

299 South State Road 49

Valparaiso, IN 46383

Thank you to all who participate with this project! Our other project is…

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 10: “Bombardment”

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This week, I drew the two of clubs which takes me to World War One Short Stories and “Bombardment” by Henri Barbusse. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This story (about 11 pages) focuses on Barbusse and his squad mates as they make their way through town and into the trenches. The main focus is surviving the ensuing bombardment by German soldiers and trying to identify all the bombs and guns that are firing. It is quite a game between the soldiers who not only try to identify what is exploding but reliving what ammunition they witnessed in previous battles and comparing those to the ones they are witnessing during the current battle.

One of the reasons I love the stories in this book is that people during the early part of the 20th century really have a poetic way of writing:

“And all the time, in a monotony of madness, the avalanche of fire and iron goes on; shrapnel with its whistling explosion and its overcharged heart of furious metal, and the great percussion shells, whose thunder is that of the railway engine which crashes suddenly into a wall, the thunder of loaded rails or steal beams, toppling down a declivity. The air is now glutted and viewless, it is crossed and recrossed by heavy blasts, and the murder of the earth continues all around, deeply and more deeply, to the limit of completion.” (page 20)

It makes me miss the days when “fortnight” was routinely used and invokes my imagination of what life must have really been like back then. “Bombardment”, while well written, does not do a great job of drawing the reader in but does give the reader a glimpse of what Barbusse was seeing briefly during the bombardment.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 9: “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo, 1944-1945”

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Last week, I drew the two of spades and that took me back Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy and his story “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo, 1944-1945”. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This is a longer short story (16 pages) and focuses on two zoo attendants, Sandor and Jozsef. What is interesting to me was that once again, this story contained two characters found in the other Dobozy story “The Encirclement”, Sandor and Teleki. At first, I thought that since this story appears before “The Encirclement” that it all 13 stories about these two and their journey. However, given how this story ends, it appears that either the character names are just recycled or the tale of their journey is told in a fragmented format.

When “The Animals of the Budapest Zoo, 1944-1945” starts, the Russian Army has just begun their siege of Budapest. Teleki races off along with other attendants leaving Sandor and Jozsef to take care of the animals. The story draws interesting parallels between humanity and war and the animal kingdom, especially fight or flight and survival of the fittest.

As the siege continues, Sandor appears to Jozsef to be turning into a lion himself and both seem to be losing their minds but are most sane when relating to the animals they eventually help escape. Knowing when to run or stand and fight like the lion or feed off whatever they can to survive like the vultures are key traits not just for the animals but for Sandor and Jozsef also.

Who can really say what they would do until put to the ultimate test? This story sets out to not only make the reader think about how they would respond to the situations Sandor and Jozsef find themselves in but to also to challenge the reader’s answers. Overall, a thought-provoking and enjoyable read.

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Shoes on The Danube Promenade

Maiden on the Midway

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On the banks of the Danube River in Budapest, about 300 meters from the Hungarian Parliament building, lie sixty pairs of rusted old-fashioned shoes cast out of iron and attached to the stone embankment.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 8: “Told By the Schoolmaster”

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Week 8 and I draw the nine of clubs and read “Told by the Schoolmaster”. This is part of the World War One Short Stories collection and is written by John Galsworthy. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

“Told By the Schoolmaster” is roughly seven pages and is told from the Schoolmaster’s point of view. This is the story of Jim Beckett and Betty (Roofe) Beckett. Only 16 years old when they fell in love, Jim fakes his age so he can join the British Army.

A year later, Jim is on leave when he and Betty get married and Jim has to leave immediately after to go to the front lines. Several months later, we learn Betty is pregnant. Jim comes home on leave to be with Betty for the birth of their son but she soon worries something is wrong because he’s home for so long. She mentions her concern to the village constable who checks and learns that Jim deserted the front lines to be with Betty. He’s immediately arrested and returned to the British Army in France.

The schoolmaster writes everyone he can to try and save Jim to no avail. The story is just so tragic and breaks your heart, especially knowing they were so young and that he volunteered two years too young to serve his country. Galsworthy writes well with just enough detail to highlight what happened with Betty and Jim but not so much detail that the reader gets bogged down wishing the story would reach its conclusion. Towards the end, I was wondering whether Jim would be killed in action or shot by the Army for desertion and hoping neither would happen. Two great stories two weeks in a row makes me wonder if the third time/week will be the charm?

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 7: “An Affair of Outposts”

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Last week, I drew the Queen of Diamonds which gives me Ambrose Bierce’s “An Affair of Outposts” in his short story collection Civil War Stories. Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

This story runs about six pages and is divided into four parts. It tells the story of a young southern man, Armisted, jilted by love and volunteering to join the Union army. He goes to the Governor of Tennessee to volunteer and after initially rejecting Armisted, eventually relents and allows him to join. In this first section, we learn that Armisted’s wife was unfaithful and that he doesn’t know the man she was with.

Flash forward to several months later and the Governor is riding out to witness a battle and meet Armisted. The Governor only starts to talk to Armisted before the battle starts in full. In retreat, the Governor sprains his ankle and eventually passes out during an attack on him that Armisted stops and essentially saves the Governor’s life.

Finally, we end up in the hospital with the Governor being treated and learn not only the identity of the man Armisted’s wife was with but also the results of the fierce battle.

What I love about Bierce is how both stories I have read so far started out with an air of mystery and how Bierce doesn’t make it obvious how it’s going to resolve itself. The reader is drawn into the story so fully that it makes you sorry it’s over so quickly. These are the kind of stories that you read once and somehow they stick with you for years to come.

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Deal Me In 2015: Week 6 “England”

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Week 6 and I draw my first club card! This leads me to the book World War One Short Stories and the story “England” by Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett (Lord Dunsany) (whose name may be longer than the story itself!). Deal Me In is sponsored by Jay at Bibliophilopolis. You can find the general guidelines and my list for this year from this post.

World War I Short Stores

Since this is the first story I’ve read in this book, a little about the book: “These gripping tales from the trenches of France and Belgium offer firsthand testimony to the mayhem that devastated Europe from 1914 to 1918. Written mostly by veterans, they offer moving accounts of life and death amid the constant terror of bombs, poison gas, and machine guns. In addition to the more familiar perspectives of American and British soldiers, the tales encompass German, French, and Russian points of view.”

“England” is a whopping 2 pages and is the conversation between a private and his sergeant. The sergeant is reminiscing about home to the private: about the gardens and their flowers, the woods, the animals, all on a summer evening. The reader later learns that these two are in a no-hope situation.

The descriptions are so vivid that I felt like I was in the same place as these gardens on a summer night myself. One of my favorite passages:

“‘That’s the time to be out,’ said the Sergeant. ‘Ten o’clock on a summer’s night, and the night full of noises, not many of them, but what there is, strange, and coming from a great way off, through the quiet, with nothing to stop them. Dogs barking, owls hooting, an old cart; and then just once a sound that you couldn’t account for at all, not anyhow.'” (p. 95). I know exactly what he means!

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