Thanksgiving

It is difficult to know where to begin sometimes, with reflecting on what I am grateful for; I am fortunate that there is so much of that in my life. While family members have been going through some rough times lately, overall we are all well, and I am at least able to provide some support, even if it only emotional support and comfort.

I have a good home, and a day job that I love. I have family who love and support me, and many good friends, even if we are sometimes separated by long miles. My snake is healthy and just as inquisitive as ever.

And yet, as fundamentally important as all those things are, that barely seems to scratch the surface.

It was my great good fortune to be born into a time and a place that makes a thriving life possible: clean water, plentiful food, and advanced medical care are readily available to me. We have sturdy, well-heated homes to get through Minnesota’s frequently long winters, and air-conditioning to protect against the also sometimes-dangerous heat of the summer. More than that, we have amazing technology that allows me to talk to and see my friends, even though they are distant in place.

I had the freedom to choose what I wanted to do with my life, and to continue to choose that every day.

I know more than enough history to understand how rare and precious a thing all of this good fortune is.

And I get to write.

Writing is my first love, I think, though history is a very close second. There are so many stories in my head, I’m not sure I’ll ever get them all written.

But I get to try. Not only can I write stories with relative ease and speed on a computer, it’s now possible for me to get them polished into something good enough to share, and then put them out to the world myself, in case anyone else might enjoy them too. That’s an option that only barely existed a decade ago, and didn’t exist at all when I was little and just starting to understand all the stories in my head.

There aren’t really words to express how thankful I am to have all of this. The best I can do is stop and think about it from time to time, to put my life in perspective, and continue to work hard at all the things that matter to me.

I hope you all have things to be thankful for too, even if you are going through tough times right now. I hope that things get better for you, and for all of us.

~Ethelinda

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Movie Review: Wonder Woman (2017)

I went to see this opening night, and was not even a little bit disappointed.

As a brief, spoiler-free review: Visually stunning, with good music, I would recommend it to fans of superhero/action movies. Setting it during World War I rather than World War II worked with some of the themes about human free-will in interesting ways (and contributed to some of the aforesaid stunning visuals). I thought the setup used to frame this (Wonder Woman’s origin story) was well-done. I am not greatly familiar with the DC universe, so this take on some of the Greek mythology struck me as strange, but interesting. Definitely recommended.

More in-depth thoughts (with spoilers) below.

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Song Review: The War Was In Color by Carbon Leaf

I’m honestly not even sure if song reviews are a thing, but I’ve been in love with this song for months and really want to talk about it, so I’m doing it anyway.

So, I first discovered The War Was In Color through this fan video that someone made based on the first Captain America and Avengers movies, which is honestly kind of perfect, so I would definitely recommend watching that. But the song is also really gorgeous just by itself, so that’s what I’m going to focus on here: it is a tribute to those who fought during World War II, from a U.S. perspective.

I happen to be involved in a big WWII project at work right now, so I’m already feeling a bit invested in the time period and also pretty emotional about it. That makes the lyrics for this song hit me a little harder even than they did when I first discovered it.

I see you’ve found a box of my things –
Infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.
These old pictures are cool. Tell me some stories
Was it like the old war movies?
Sit down son. Let me fill you in

I love the imagery here – it’s just a box of old photographs, but to the WWII veteran, it’s a lot more than that: “infantries, tanks and smoldering airplane wings.” These are the pieces of the war that he remembers, not the two-dimensional pictures. I like also the imagery of a younger family member actually asking a veteran about his time in the war, and the veteran being willing to answer and speak about it.

Where to begin? Let’s start with the end
This black and white photo don’t capture the skin
From the flash of a gun to a soldier who’s done
Trust me grandson
The war was in color

There is something about the last line of this verse/the title of this song that really hits me. Even as an historian who knows better, it is still sometimes easy to get caught up in the immediate depictions of the war that are readily available to me…the black and white photographs, newspapers, and movies of the time. There are other artifacts as well, of course, that are not black and white (colorful propaganda posters, flags, etc.). But so many of the direct photographs of that era are black and white, that it can be easy to forget: like life for all people, in all places and all times, this war too was in color. It was immediate and real…the present for many millions of people, even if it is the past for us now.

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