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"It is not enough that we learn to unmake war. We must learn to remake peace." ~ Mimi Lenox
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I made lots of new friends today. Click the globe to be taken to the sites of these new peace bloggers. Just a smattering for you on this chilly Friday evening.
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Wednesday, November 07, 2007Dona Nobis Pacem
*Please scroll down and sign in with Mr. Linky. If you made a peace globe, please send it to me via email. Mimiwrites2005 at yahoo.com Peace!
“Put them in the pot, Mimi, just that way.”
I planted the last black-eyed Susan in the clay pot on the deck, richly purple and staring at me with an eye in the center of royalty's colored fall beauty.
I dug and rearranged and poured in fertilizer. Watered. Played in the dirt.
"Plant one more in the pot, Mimi. She'd like it that way."
"They remind me of her," I said out loud. "The dark ones she loved best. The black-eyed ones I don't care for, but I plant them anyway because she loved them so. I think they look disheveled and untidy - if a flower can be that way - and as she could be in the morning times. Her hair a mess and a cigarette over coffee, frying bacon at 5am so you'd have a great start to your day, wrinkled robe and a smelly kitchen. One bright spot of colorful charm – like my blackeyed susan - was you, Papa."
I stopped planting.
I looked up.
My Papa stood looming over me with that jovial smile of his, a burst of sunlight behind his balding head and a brightly gleaming twinkle in the midst of the smile I adored. I was still unbalanced with a trowel in one hand and a pile of dirt in the other which prevented me from jumping immediately into his arms, but it didn't seem to matter; a warm wind blew straight through the curl hanging down the front of my right shoulder and moved it behind me to rest on the back of my sweater. I was sure of it. My Papa was always telling me to get my hair out of my face. No surprise to me now.
“I've been watching you, Mimi."
"Well you know she had to have things just right. Two purple here, one pink there, large petaled, small-petaled and a very straight row or you had to start all over."
I fixed my eyes upon the face of the man who held the key to my heart ever since the day I took my first breath. I put the trowel down, the dirt fell from my fingers and I found myself sitting in the fall sunlight, listening to leaves drop playfully from the trees that surrounded me and watching them fall almost on command, at his huge overgrown feet, that were firmly planted in front of me. Steel-toed shoes, huge shoes, painful shoes, important shoes.
It would take him forty-five minutes in the mornings before work to lace them up. Rheumatoid arthritis claimed his quality of life, pain a constant companion, everyday tasks a monumental chore - and yet he rarely missed work (thirty-three years in a furniture plant) and most days he tilled the garden out back in the evenings. For today, I was content to sit at his feet and plant flowers. He was there to give me a warm breezy hug. Of course, I knew he wasn't really there.
I turned to wipe a tear because I miss him still, resigned to never again help him unlace the knotted shoestrings that strangled too tightly across his tender feet.
"I've been watching you - you and the peace globes" he said.
I smiled and stood up. He was right.
Pansies could wait.
"I know, Papa. I've known for some time. You always give me courage when I need it, inspiration when I've lost it, and the biggest laughs....I get the most joy from your far-flung sense of humor. It is with me still." He roared a belly laugh I thought I'd never hear again this side of Heaven. It nearly rocked me off balance, causing me to drop the flat of pansies on the deck, so deep it was, so rich. So Papa.
"I need to ask you! Papa! I have so much to ask you. I don't know what to do about.....
Will you stay?"
"Mimi," he said with that tsk tsk expression, "I need to ask you a question."
I sat back down, wondering somehow if I'd done something wrong. Had I gotten it all wrong? Does he want to talk about the marbles? Yes, that must be it. The marbles. He wants to tell me how he made them. He'll tell me and I'll tell my readers and they'll tell people and he'll explain it all.
His eyes to me looked young, as young as he must have been the day he married my pansy-stricken grandmother. They were in the prime of their lives and so in love, both prepared to begin a new life. And now, they were both gone. I had her pansy pots and her azalea bush and her quirkiness. He had memories not to be shared with a granddaughter but memories I saw playing behind the youthful grin. I did not let on. But I knew there were stories he must - he surely must - somewhere - somehow - still share with her.
"Ask, Papa. I'll tell you anything you want to know,” digging a new opening in the dirt for one more yellow pansy.
"Why? Why Mimi?..........why do you need so many?"
"Because she said if you planted enough of them really close together it would make the bouquet brighter and....."
"No, Mimi. Why do you need so many peace globes?"
I stopped digging, puzzled.
"I don't need them, Papa, they just keep coming. Through my mail and in the back way. In the middle of the night. In the morning. In the evenings. All colors, all creeds, all walks of life. All species, all reasons, some frivolously made, some seriously woven and others with a single signature. Those I like, too."
Had I disappointed him? Was that the wrong answer? What does he want me to say?
If there's one thing about my Papa that was always the best thing - it was his deliberate ability to cut through my facade and get to the truth -usually without a word, never with a scold, and any "serious conversation" he made with me always came on the palpable presence of one who loved me so unconditionally I could never have doubted his intent for my good or his wish for my clear understanding. Laden with well-worn common sense wisdom, I soaked it up often, playing carefully at his painfully laced shoes which criss-crossed in front on me in the living room floor at the bottom of the old leather recliner he loved.
And today, I felt much like that seven-year-old.
Papa had one more story to tell.
"Do you remember the dolls, Mimi? The 100 Dolls?"
"Oh yes, Papa. I still have them. I keep them in the box for safekeeping. They are in perfect condition though the box is yellowed now and torn on the edge. I still see your address, your name, the paid postage stamp and the tape."
He suddenly got a serious look. "I remember the day you asked me for them. We were thumbing through a catalog and you squealed with delight. "One hundred dolls!! How could 100 dolls come in one box?" you asked.
“I remember,” I said. "They costs one dollar and we had to send away for them all the way to New Jersey and add our postage fee. I was so excited and couldn't wait to get them in the mail. I think I was seven? Yes, just about that age."
"Open them, Mimi. They hold a secret. Open the box."
I'm writing this story at my usual perch at the table but of course, in my mind's eye I am there, on the porch with my Papa and we are planting pansies and the sun is hot and the leaves are falling and I don't want to leave. We are having such a lovely day. All is right and he has chosen to visit me now. I don't want to break the spell. I don't want to open the box.....but it is there. It is there in front of me, on the table.
I picked it up, put my reading glasses on, trying to make out the fine print. I reach for a magnifying glass to help but for some reason, I put it down. I couldn't. I couldn't look. I just couldn't.
And when have you ever been able to disobey him? Never. And when have you ever disappointed him? Sometimes. And will you do that today? No.
I picked it up again.
Bulk Rate. US Postage Paid. Newark, N.J. Permit No.4396.
100 Dolls Dept R
Directions: Place one Tricky Dog on a surface (polished wood or glass) Push the other Tricky Dog up to it from behind, or sweep the second Tricky Dog in a half circle around the first one. Watch them twirl!
My tabletop is made of glass. I took the black one and put him up front, made a sneak attack by the white one and voila! the black dog began to spin in a circle - in an energetic frenzy - and aligned itself with the other one smashing into him, wagging their magnetic tails and gravitating together: smooching, the way only magnets can. Most of the time I played with the dolls, but Papa......he would rather I lay aside the Barbie doll brain and chase my dream around the glass top. He was like that. Always dropping life lessons in my lap, at inopportune times like today, when I'd rather be planting pansies.
I laughed. I'd forgotten the hours of entertainment we'd had trying to make the dogs do something else. I tried to separate them so many times - so like me to want to even argue with electrons and atoms - but they always ended up smacking into each other no matter what I did and the twirling little dance always ended with a dog collision. Inevitable. Worked every time. Without fail.
Now my grownup mind understands such things. I know there really is no "trick" - I know they're just heavily plastered metal toys with magnet skates on the bottom - but I'm not a grownup today. I'm a seven year old on the floor with my Papa and we are playing from the box he mail ordered for me in the 1960's. And I am laughing. The dogs still make me laugh.
I sighed. This observation is just too obvious. Magnets. Globes. Spinning earth balls. Earth Science. I get it. I get it. I turned to him and said, “I know all about this little analogy. I went to college and got a degree since you've been gone ya know. And anyway, I need to finish planting these pansies and get them all in a straight line the way she would....the way she would.....Papa?”
He was gone.
And I was left with a tabletop full of little pink dolls piled on top of each other, delighted to be free of the box, criss-crossing on top of one another and laid crossways in the jumbled life of another doll, too many for a seven year old to count, too tiny for a middle aged woman to see in great detail and yet.....somehow I knew they'd been waiting for just this hour to make their second debut into my life. Pink. Plastic. Fragile. Soft spoken. And yet....when I put them all together they make an enormous pile.
Like my globes.
“Why? Mimi why? Why do you need so many?”
I never answered his question. That must be why he left. I suppose he is angry with me. I'll have to tell him another time about the blogger from Hong Kong and the man from Singapore and Idaho met Japan and tomorrow Italy promised to email Turkey....Israel and Poland and Tennessee and Michigan is helping Ireland make a globe and it doesn't matter how small their blogs may be, they all have a face and all have a voice and they just want to speak their ....oh never mind.
So, I took them out of the box. One by one. A nurse, a dancer, an Indian man, two clowns, Spanish people, a ballerina, a little girl, a man speaking, a roping cowboy, a smiling cowgirl, a Buddhist monk, a Chinese man, a Mexican hat dancer, a Gypsy girl playing a tambourine, Bolero dancers, Little Bo Peep, all nationalities, all creeds, all expressions, all costumes of origin and a world of imagination at my fingertips that now played alone without the fumbling arthritic hand of the man who gave them to me so long ago.......a Peruvian girl, a small child playing ball, a colonial doll with a full skirt taking a bow (My favorite. She bowed a lot in those pre-pencil skirt days). I remembered how his hands were so large and gnarled, fumbling with the small creatures as they fell in his lap. I would laugh and we would start the dance again. The Buddha man would twirl with the Peruvian woman while the little boy with the ball - perhaps it was a jack-in-the-box - sat quietly in the middle of it all. They all got along in my peaceful box universe. The dolls in my box lived in one world, dancing and spinning around. "I'll get that for you, Papa,” I said, “ the lady from Spain would like to dance with the Russian ballerina now if you don't mind........Papa!?”
“All I know, Papa, is that I wasn't there that day. I canceled our outing and you left without me. You and grandmother went to the doctor and after that day, I never saw you again. Not ever again. I was angry because you did not say goodbye. I was angry that I did not say goodbye. And I longed to tell you all my tales and all my stories. I've waited for you to tell me what to do. “
I put down the dolls and looked at his wisdom worn face, anxious for the answers that I needed. But he had a way of making me figure it out for myself. This day was no different.
“You do not need me to tell you what to do. I am proud of you and you are doing just fine. Just remember one thing: It takes all the dolls in the box to make the world a beautiful place, Mimi. . They can't hear what the other one has to say unless you introduce them to one another and set their feet to dancing. Take them out of the box.”
Just take them out of the box.
That's it? That's the secret? Take them out of the box? But what about the globes? And the marbles? I jumped up to give him a hug the way I always did but he was gone.
In the bottom of the box I found a piece of yellow paper. It had my name on it, folded, in my grandmother's handwriting. I opened it. It was a speech I'd made in church for a Christmas program when I was 3 years old. He'd tucked it away in the bottom of my doll box. I smiled as I remembered that the best part of that day had been running down the church aisle and jumping into his white-sleeved arms for a hug and a kiss. If I ever doubted what my grandfather gave to me, and continues to instill in me even now, it is the simple power of love and a respect for all creatures large and small - pink and Peruvian.
And that, my friends, is all we need.
Update: Dona Nobis Pacem is now in Wikipedia. Please visit Vinny at The Big Leather Couch and thank him for taking it upon himself to see that this happened. It was a great surprise yesterday!
Click here to read The Silence of Peace: Papa's Marbles, written on the first Dona Nobis Pacem November 7, 2006. Peace to you and yours.
Mimi Lenox Mimi Pencil Skirt Mimi Queen of Memes
BlogBlast for Peacepeace globesPeace Globe MovementDona Nobis Pacemmimi writes
Her husband is a Sailor in the Navy. She writes, "That picture is my hubby and my son when we picked him up at the airport from his last deployment to Iraq - he's currently in Afghanistan. So, when I saw the peace globe I HAD to participate.Take care, many blessings!- Christine" Click the globe to send her well wishes, peace, and prayers.
And the globe I've been waiting for from The Marine Corps
aka PVT Matt United States Marines
Just get out the hankies.
(and click the globe to show her some love.....)
Today's Dona Nobis Pacem post can be found here. Please sign the Mr. Linky box.
Mimi Lenox Mimi Pencil Skirt Mimi Queen of Memes
BlogBlast for Peacepeace globesPeace Globe MovementDona Nobis Pacemmimi writes
Monday, November 05, 2007The Eve of Dona Nobis Pacem
This is Mimi Pencil Skirt reporting live from the lovely land of the Peace Globes.
It wouldn't be BlogBlast For Peace without Annelisa's sunrise photography. Taken in East Sussex, United Kingdom, she has a way of bringing peace through the lens of her magic camera. Though this is her neighborhood in the United Kingdom, it also reminds me a bit of Bloggingham Palace. She is a true blue peace blogger and I am proud to call her "my friend from across the pond."
Dawning anew for me this year is the story of my Papa's marbles, seen here in a wooden bowl that still sits atop my piano. If you are a veteran peace blogger, you have read the story that unfolded, as written below, on the very first BlogBlast Eve in 2006. It was four hours 'til midnight and I had no peace globe post. Until.........
.......I received a loving, gentle tap on the shoulder by someone I loved and lost, and a simple bowl of rocks changed my mind forever about the absurdity of a notion called coincidence. I am still amazed at how the story of the Peace Globes really began. Many of you are posting a globe for the first time today and do not know this story. For you, I shall tell it again. And for those who began this journey with me last year, thank you for allowing me to re-introduce you to this honorable man. I am proud to know you. So is he.
Dona Nobis Pacem in the blogosphere
They've been sitting on my piano for more years than I care to count - on the corner of the Kohler and Campbell my grandfather gave me when I was fourteen years old. After he died, I found them in a tattered and dirty bag at the bottom of a box full of his personal things. He wanted me to have them. His marbles.
Handmade roughhewn marbles crafted from rock by my grandfather and his brothers. The year was 1920 and there was no money for toys.
I often wondered why he didn't leave them for a male member of the family. Honestly, folks. It wasn't until just tonight - the eve of
- that I discovered the answer.
I know stranger things have happened.
I just can't recall when.
I knew this post would not be written until the last moment. I made lots of notes but I just couldn't quite make it happen. It is still a little while before midnight in my part of the United States and I'm supposed to be spinning out a masterpiece of goodwill and peace prose - maybe a stunning poem like those we've already seen. A song, a lyric, a new tune.
Instead, Mimi Pencil Skirt wants to talk about rocks.
So I went into my study and began to polish them. One by one. The bowl, the piano, the granite. How many times have I sat at that very bench and casually glanced into that bowl? Thousands. Song after song.
Tune after tune. Lesson after lesson. Tear after tear.
He didn't have a lot of money it seems to me now, my grandfather. At the time though, he was the richest man I knew. And he has been on my mind this week more often than not. Well over six-feet tall and always impeccably dressed, my Papa was the most humble man I've ever met.
When he passed away I met scores of people who told me what he'd meant to them. "He helped me when I needed money....." "He gave me his shoes...." and on and on.
His kindness was not news to me. The fact that a large portion of the town showed up at his wake was, however, a stunning surprise. I didn't know I'd been sharing him all those years.
He made me feel as if I were the only one in the world.
Strange, those marbles. All different shapes and sizes. Colors, too. Yet they've co-existed for years right there atop the long- lovingly- played strings inside my piano - the one Papa used his savings account to buy for me - while he worked two jobs at the factory and made time up on Saturdays when he missed work hours to drive me to my lessons.
I was a bit different. Artistic. Content with solitude. Always writing in endless journals and playing broody piano music. Papa didn't pamper me - even though that's a disputed fact to this day in my family.
What he did was more earth-shattering.
The one on top. That one.
Different... that one. I know that's the very one he made.
I'm sure of it.
When I think about peace and what it means to me, I always wander back to a time when I first felt it. Because I know on an unconscious level that world peace cannot - will not - be achieved without inner peace. Adversaries on both sides of the conflict have to have it. You can't weave magical tranquility out of thin air and conferences. Peace is a state of being.
It has a life of its own.
Real lasting peace is born of creative jumble and hard work. Victories are never won by the one who has the most power - wars are won; but not a state of peace. Nothing good can ever come of power at play for the sake of power.
It never lasts and there's always a price.
Papa's Marbles. Not a pretty one in the bunch.
Every one brown or taupe. Almost every one.
I started thinking this week about those times in my life
when I first felt real peace.
For me, it came in the presence of God at an early age. Not because I am privileged or special. But simply because I was loved. Unconditionally.
Sometimes it takes just one person
to unlock magic in someone else.
I watched that kind of magic flow through my grandfather's life.
He was in tune with who he was. He knew the simple meaning of love.
He knew how to pray.
I often wondered how other people sensed that about him - without the benefit of those life-giving hugs he saved just for me.
He chose the color himself. Papa.....he must have spent hours honing that rock.
I often went with him to backwoods church services. Informal revivals, formal services, anywhere there was special music and a spirit of God - he was there. I can't explain it really. We would visit churches and the minister would ask him to lead the invocation or say the benediction - even though they'd never met. How did they know he could pray? I knew he could pray......but how did they know?
Taking his hat off and bowing his head, he would very quietly hold audience with his Maker. It didn't matter how many people were listening. His prayers always began the same way......"Dear Gracious Heavenly Father......"
No matter where. Or with whom. Or in front of whom.
Hat in hand. Head bowed. He knew how to reach God.
And people sensed that when they met him.
If peace can be worn like a garment then he was always finely clothed, my Papa.
One night he took me by the hand and led me to the altar with him. He knelt down on one knee, elbow resting on the other and silently voiced his heart. I was right there! I heard the whole thing and he never said a word.
He made them with his own hands. He molded them into shape.
Created them and lovingly took care of them. He chose the color.
Not a sonata or a novel. Certainly nothing brilliant or fancy.
Just ordinary marbles.
Tonight I'm sitting at my table writing stories on an electronic device that sends messages to a guy in Canada about globe graphics and insomnia, making pots of endless coffee to stay awake, answering emails from Germany, London, China, New York , Oman and beyond.
Could Papa have ever imagined such a thing?
What was he praying about all that time anyway?
Papa's marbles.....There's something odd about them.
Oh forget about it. They're just a bunch of rocks. You've got a story to write. Can't you think of something brilliant? It's past midnight and everyone has their peace globe up but you.
I struggled. There's something missing here, I thought.
It's about Papa. I can't stop thinking about him.
What would he say to me tonight? How would he pray?
When it hit me, I was way past the point of arguing with myself about miracles and such. I've seen too many come through my mailbox today to argue with God about that.
Do you see it?
The blue one on top.
It looks like a globe.
Dona Nobis Pacem did not start with Mimi. It started in 1920 when a little boy in the rural southeastern United States decided to shape a small blue marble - for his granddaughter.
Please leave a comment and leave your link with Mr. Linky so that I may document this event. Peace to you and yours......see you tomorrow!
Mimi Lenox Mimi Pencil Skirt Mimi Queen of MemesBlogBlast for Peacepeace globesPeace Globe MovementDona Nobis Pacemmimi writes