aging, compulsions, Los Angeles Times

Pardon My Lack of Modesty

 

Award for my blogs, “Norine’s New Life@80.”
Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2018.

 

I took delight in entering a contest at age 86. Why? If I won, a celebrity host was not going to show up at my door with fanfare and a check. There would be no coverage in the Las Cruces Sun-News. I only received a paper award (that I promptly framed).

So why did I do it? Because I could. The idea amused me.

Shortly after arriving in New Mexico in 2012, I joined the Las Cruces Women’s Press Club. The other members were friendly and fascinating in what they had accomplished. Writing an eight-year column in the Los Angeles Times gave me the credentials for membership.

Someone once asked when I first realized that I was a writer. It was between the ages of ten and twelve when  I had two uncles serving in the military during WWII. I felt compelled to let them know what was happening at home. The bigger thrill was receiving their letters in return. My uncle Max, who was stationed in India, promised that when he returned to Los Angeles, he would bring me a monkey.

With high expectations at the end of the war, I watched as hundreds of soldiers poured out of Union Station. I figured Uncle Max would be easy to spot with that monkey on his shoulder. Alas! There was no monkey, and I was so disappointed. It took many years before I forgave him — and maybe I never did?

I loved reporting and in high school took journalism, where I won a Reporter of the Year trophy then advanced to becoming Associate Editor of the school newspaper, The Blue Tide. As much as I was enamored with journalism, I never considered pursuing that as a career. In retrospect, it’s probably because college girls’ ambitions in 1949 were mostly limited to becoming teachers or nurses, the latter simply out of the question for me.

To this day, I love writing. As we used to preach in the Cal State University Los Angeles English Department, “Writing is a dialogue with one’s self.” Sometimes I write something and when it appears on my screen, I think, Wow! That’s so true. It was buried inside of me all this time.

Despite being the author of many books and scholarly articles, the award from the New Mexico Press Women stoked my desire to write more. And even on days, when this 86 year-old aching body finally drags itself to the computer, pain lifts as I explore the day’s topic. Best of all, if need be, I can write from my bed and still find pleasure.

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who still gets excited about a new blog theme.

Visit her Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture: https://flpcgallery.org

able/disabled, cats, disabilities, Dogs, health, loneliness, loss, pets, Uncategorized

TIDINGS OF COMFORT AND JOY

The first thing I did when I got home from the hospital was to lie down and cuddle my girl. She seemed to enjoy it, too. Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2018.

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Many of you know that I have been incapacitated since mid-February. At first, the doc thought that my problems were respiratory– bronchitis and perhaps pneumonia, so he sent me to the ER.

My daughter met me there, and after I was finally admitted and assigned to a room, we noticed a couple walking two large therapy dogs down the hall. We invited them in. One animal was a Rhodesian Ridgeback and the other an Akita. It lifted my spirits just to have these animals near me. Nuzzling the furry ruff of the Akita and wrapping my arms around its neck brought me great pleasure. Of course, I know that when we pet an animal, our blood pressure goes down. Aside from the science, when embracing another living creature, it makes us realize that all’s right in the world, or more precisely, I was going to be all right. And eventually I was after surgery for unexpected two compression fractures of the spine and a one week stay in a rehabilitation facility.

Therapy dogs at Las Cruces Memorial Hospital. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2018.

 

Decades ago, I wrote a paper called “The Horse Bar Mitzvah,” that became a chapter in a veterinary medicine textbook.* I presented examples and analyses of the relationships between humans and animals in different settings: horse bar mitzvah; cat mitzvah; dog wedding; festivals honoring the human/animal bond, for example, Blessings of the Animals. In addition, I researched the role of service animals: therapy horses, war dogs, rescue dog, therapy dogs.

Since publication (2000), dogs have increasingly played a vital role in our culture, e.g., at airports, sniffing out the taboo garlic and sausages, as well as drugs. And since 9/11, new roles have developed especially at airports, with the focus on explosives and terrorism.

Human/animal relationships keep evolving. Comfort dogs is a new title given to animals that  show up at scenes of disasters. I was moved seeing televised dogs disembarking from a van within 48 hours at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School after the school massacre in Parkland, Florida. Who could not be cheered by seeing these eager animals there to be stroked and embraced by traumatized children and staff?

 

Doesn’t your heart melt at the sight of these comfort dogs brought to the school by a Lutheran Church Charity helping to dispatch K9 Comfort Boots and Paws on the ground?

 

New duties for dogs progress. Yale University has developed a program utilizing rescue dogs in New York low-income public schools. The dogs become reading buddies and foster social development. At my local university (NMSU), dogs are brought in at exam time to lower the distress students feel during this time of high anxiety. Courthouse Dogs allow specially trained service dogs to accompany children during testimony in a courtroom.

Since my return home from the hospitals, my cat, Sweetie Beattie, is never more than inches away from me. At first, I employed a caregiver to help me with pain issues during the night. Whenever, she came into the bedroom to take care of me, Sweetie Beattie lay at the foot of my bed skeptically eyeing all the caregiver’s movements. Or else she sat on the dresser warily watching the activities. During that time, I called her the Night Nurse for she acted as if she were supervising – definitely looking out for my interest.

The Night Nurse, aka, Sweetie Beattie supervising my activities. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2018.

As aloof as she may ordinarily be, Sweetie seems to sense that I need more of her attention now. Even as I am here at the keyboard, she is on top of my desk backed up against my computer, and with my extended pinky I can stroke the fur on her back. Can that compete with steroids and antibiotics? No, but she is a fantastic supplement.

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who is mad about her Sweetie Beattie.

 

*Companion Animals and Us:Exploring the Relationships Between People and Pets. Eds: Podberscek and Serpell. Cambridge University Press, UK., 2000.

Visit my online museum: Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture, https://flpcgallery.org

Cultural differences, folklore, music, radio

What’s Happening? ¿Que´Tal?

Norine recording programs for KTAL-LP, Las Cruces Community Radio. Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser Photo Collection, 2017.

 

Since October, 2017, I have been producing a program, “Your Multicultural Minute,” that airs on KTAL-LP radio station, here in Las Cruces, NM, 101.5 on the FM dial. My two-minute shows come on three times a week, twice a day. The programs present anecdotes about how we miscommunicate based on cultural differences.

Two minutes isn’t very long and actually, the narrative lasts only one minute with a half-minute intro featuring my son, Mark Dresser’s playing an original tune, and a half-minute closing with my final words over his fading tune.

I have had a great time creating these programs. I think you will appreciate listening, too. For the moment, the station has been only live streaming with archiving to take place at a later time. For this reason, I am giving you an opportunity to hear several of the programs that have already aired. So far, I have produced 30 shows that automatically air Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:58 a.m. and 2:57 p.m. Below find links so that you may enjoy them, too (she says modestly).

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who never tires of learning about cultural differences that cause miscommunication. If you have an example you would like to share, please contact her at norinedresser@yahoo.com

Check out her Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture: http://flpcgallery.org

 

celebrations, customs/rituals, Festivals, folklore, holidays

LET THERE BE LIGHT!

 

Along with the tens of thousands watching in person in NYC, I nestled in my NM comfy home recliner and saw the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I felt the same awe that was reflected in the astonished faces the moment the lights came on.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, 2017.

 

That’s what so magnificent about Winter. With its abundance of traditions igniting their special fires, we are privy to observe lighting rituals unlike our own.

First there is Diwali, the biggest and brightest of all Hindu Festivals. Diwali symbolizes the victory of good over evil, and lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope. This year it began on October 18 and lasted four days. Each day had its own tale, legend and myth.

 

Woman in sari next to burning Diwali lamps.

 

Beginning on December 12th, Jewish families will gather around the menorah to honor the miracle of lights. With its eight-branched menorah we commemorate the unexpected duration of burning oil that was supposed to last only one night. The holiday is celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting with special prayers and fried foods.

 

Lit menorah with pastel colored candles as it would look on the 8th night. Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2017.

 

On December 26, African Americans will begin their observance of Kwanzaa, using their candelabrum called the Kinara (in Swahili). They light one new candle per night for seven nights to celebrate African American heritage and achievements. The holiday expresses reverence for the Creator and creation, and commemorates the past as well as recommits to cultural ideals.

 

Lit Kinara on the 7th day with black, green, and red candles. Photo by Mariah Chase. © Norine Dresser photo collection, 2017.

 

Living here in Las Cruces, NM, one of my favorite light rituals is one that has been brought here from Mexico – the luminarias. They represent the illuminated passageway to welcome Jesus into the world. For me, the lit pathway represents my life’s journey.

 

Luminarias lighting the way to see the Christ Child as recreated in New Mexico.

Light warms us. It allows us to find our way out of darkness to inner awakening. And with our light we have the power to ignite the glow in others.

 

This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine.

Let it shine; let it shine; let it shine.

(old gospel tune)

 

And so, as we approach 2018, this is my holiday wish for you. May you take your inner light and shine it upon others.

 

Norine Dresser is a folklorist who enjoys the rituals of all ethnicities and religions.

Visit her Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture: flpcgallery.org

racism

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

 

THE RETAILER WHO PROMOTED AN ANNE FRANK HALLOWEEN COSTUME?

 

Anne Frank Costume, 2017.

 

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

 

Disgraceful exploitation of the young Dutch Jewish girl who perished during the Holocaust brought condemnation from the public and Jewish organizations, as well. Consequently, costume distributors removed the young woman’s name from the description and renamed it a “Girls World Evacuee Costume.” It was a change in nomenclature but the same tasteless costume for young women compelled to flee their homes during WWII.

 

THE COMPANY THAT CREATED THE LION KILLER DENTIST HALLOWEEN COSTUME?

 

The Dentist who murdered Cecil the Lion Costume. 2017.

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

 

Why would anyone want to emulate Dr. Walter S. Palmer, the Minnesota dentist who slaughtered Cecil, the Lion in Zimbabwe just to show off his hunting prowess? Not only that, but he and his local guides enticed the magnificent and beloved black-maned Cecil out of a protected national park by dragging an animal carcass tied to a vehicle. After the kill, the men beheaded and skinned the once-regal lion.

Four hundred protestors gathered in front of Palmer’s business, and one enraged animal rights supporter used a megaphone to protest outside his home yelling, “Murderer! Terrorist!” To avoid the public’s wrath, Palmer closed his office and left his home for almost a month.

Why would a costume company think this would be an appealing costume? Who would want to wear it? It’s baffling to contemplate such a loathsome party reveler.

 

ZARA CLOTHING DESIGNERS WHO CREATED AN OFFENSIVE SWEATSHIRT AND T-SHIRT?

 

Zara clothing line with two insulting pieces of clothing. 2016.

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

My first speculation when I discovered these two highly obnoxious articles of clothing was that the designers were so young, they didn’t know about the Kent State Massacre (May, 1970). They may not even have been born yet when the Ohio National Guard opened fire on peaceful student demonstrators against the Vietnam War. The National Guard killed four and injured nine. So, whoever thought that wearing a faux blood-stained sweatshirt was an appropriate response to a crime?

And who possibly could not be aware of the symbolism of a yellow six-pointed star on a prison-striped shirt? Did that person not have knowledge of atrocities perpetrated against the Jews by Hitler and his Third Reich? Besides, ignorance is no excuse. And what about the bosses? Certainly, someone at the Zara company should have caught these insensitive creations before they were foisted on the public.

 

 

THE ENGLISH GIRLS WHO ATTIRED THEMSELVES AS THE BURNING 9/11 TOWERS AND WON FIRST PRIZE?

Brits winning prize for their costumes depicting the burning of the twin towers.

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

In this situation, we can’t blame a corporation for such a tasteless representation of a disaster, only the two ditzy dames who dreamed it up. Did they think it was funny to play off the tragic death of 2,753 human beings? Even worse, they were awarded a prize for the best costume? No one was thinking about the feelings of the 9/11 survivors. Shame on them!

 

THE SAMFORD UNIVERSITY (AL) SORORITY THAT DESGINED T-SHIRTS FOR THE SPRING FORMAL DANCE THAT DEPICTED A BLACK MAN EATING WATERMELON AND SLAVES PICKING COTTON?

Offensive t-shirt depicting degrading images of African Americans.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

Despite disapproval ahead of time by a university official, the girls went ahead with their T-shirt production anyway. Later, Andrew Westmoreland, president of Samford, wrote: “I was repulsed by the image. I lack the words to express my own sense of frustration.”

That apology seems sincere, and I trust that appropriate action was taken against the sorority.

 

 

IN JAPAN, THE MANUFACTURER THAT PRODUCED A TAMPON IN ANNE FRANK’S NAME?

 

In Japan, the Anne Frank tampon.

 

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

According to Alain Lewkowicz, a French Jewish journalist, to the Japanese Anne Frank symbolizes the ultimate WWII victim. The Japanese identify with her victimhood because of their own suffering after the Atomic Bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The reason they selected the tampon to honor Ann is because her diary reveals anticipation and excitement about her first day of menstruation. To me, it doesn’t quite add up: 2 + 2 = 5? I just don’t quite follow the logic. But then I believe cultural differences may come into play here.

 

SWISS COMPANY RECALLS 2,000 HITLER COFFEE CREAMERS?

 

In Switzerland, coffee creamer with Hitler image.

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

“IT WAS AN UNFORGIVABLE INCIDENT.”

 

This apology came from Tristan Cerf, a spokesman for the Migos company. He blamed internal controls for letting this image by that was created by a subsidiary in charge of  labels. Also scheduled but nixed in advance was a Mussolini label. That would have curdled the coffee even more.

 

THE TRAYVON MARTIN HOODIE WITH A TARGET IMAGE ON ITS CHEST?

 

Trayvon Martin Hoodie. Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia, Ferris State University, Big Rapids, MI.

 

WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?

THEY WEREN’T.

OR WERE THEY?

WERE THEY COURTING THE RACIST MARKET?

 

I discovered this disgusting piece of clothing in the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia on the Ferris State University in Big Rapids, MI. The sweatshirt was manufactured and sold by the Hiller Armament Co. of Virginia Beach, FLA. To make money off of this 2012 tragedy is unconscionable. We all know the story of the 17-year-old unarmed Treyvon Martin, carrying only a box of Skittles and a container of iced tea, who was fatally shot by George Zimmerman. He claimed to be threated by the lad. However, the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty.

If one buys a sweatshirt like the one above, what is the message? You’re jealous and wish you might have done it? You endorse Zimmerman’s deed? Note that it was an arms company that manufactured it. DISGUSTING.

 

THE ITALIAN WINEMAKER WHO PRODUCES WINES WITH HITLER LABELS ON THEM?

Hitler wine produced by the Italian company Vini Lunardelli.

 

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

THEY ARE THINKING PROFITS.

 

When challenged by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the family-owned winery (Vini Lunardelli) claims that their line of dictator labeled wines are historical and not propaganda. Their biggest seller is The Der Fuhrer line, accounting for 80% of the company’s sales. Labels show Hitler giving the Nazi salute, with his autograph, and a portrait with the motto that translates into “One people, one nation, one leader.”

Regardless of negative reactions, the winery continues with their plans glorifying other enemies of the people: Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Goering, Himmler, Eva Braun.

 

 

Finally, in China where the Ivanka Trump brand is avidly pursued, one manufacturer wants to name a sanitary pad after her.

WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?

Big bucks, no doubt, but I can bet that no woman, Chinese or otherwise, would have given a thumbs up to this idea.

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Every example is a disgusting commercial exploitation of innocents’ deaths and torture. They are disheartening illustrations of man’s inhumanity to man. How low must we sink to make an extra dollar or win a costume prize or sell extra tickets to the dance? This is sickening to contemplate because it demonstrates indifference to the pain of others. Are we somehow complicit in these horrendous acts? I don’t think so, yet I feel guilty, too.

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Norine Dresser is a folklorist who admits that never before has she punctuated with so many question marks. But never before have so many of her stories been so mind-boggling.

 

Visit her Gallery of Folklore and Popular Culture to discover remarkable multicultural artifacts, entertaining calendar corners, and amazing objects on loan from monthly visiting curators: flpcgallery .org