Deep Thought

Peg and I spent a beautiful day at the movie house and saw a wonderful film, “Saving Mr. Banks.” The only Oscar nomination it has received is for Music. That is too bad because the story is true and heart warming. Unfortunately, not all heart warming films become Oscar nominated films.  The story covers the twenty year quest by Walt Disney to get the author of Mary Poppins to agree to let him make it into a movie. What I found most fascinating were the flashbacks into the author’s early childhood, and the influence her early life had on the characters in the story. In one scene Mrs. Travers arrives in Hollywood and stays at the Hollywood Inn Hotel. Disney sets her up with a suite and fills it with stuffed dolls of his cartoon characters and food baskets galore. She spots some pears in a basket and viciously throws them out of the window into the swimming pool below. In a much later flashback we learn that as a child she was happily bringing pears to her father when she learns of his death.

Emma Thompson plays the role of Pamela “P.L.” Travers a pseudonym for Helen Goth. Thompson portrays Mrs. Travers expertly and convincingly. She is a complicated woman who is very possessive and protective of the characters in Mary Poppins. We learn that she is so because she based many of them on people from her life. She feels the slightest Disney depiction away from her invention is character assassination.

Disney makes a heroic effort to convince Mrs. Travers to allow him to make the film, he promises her that he will not destroy her characters nor the context of the story. His motive for making the movie is a promise he made to his daughters. The promise is already twenty years old when this story takes place. I wonder if I would be so diligent as to spend twenty years trying to make good on a promise to my daughter. It takes a lot of persistence and doggedness to last that long.

The characters in this movie got into my head and now I want to read the book to get a deeper insight into all of them. So many times we are left to our own imagination to fill in scenes between the lines. For example, I learned by reading that Mrs. Travers’ father played by Colin Farrell died from alcoholism. The film did portray him as a drinker, but I wondered if it was an addiction or because he was using alcohol to kill pain from some other malady. Maybe that is just me, but I thought the film did not make that detail clear enough. Perhaps it isn’t even relevant to the story, but it left me wanting.

Throughout the story, Mrs. Travers maintains a cool unattached persona, but by the end she lets her hair down and befriends her driver Ralph played by Paul Giamatti. She actually let him call her Pam instead of the cold Mrs. Travers she demanded to that point.

Tom Hanks portrays Walt Disney and even though he isn’t a 100 percent carbon copy of the man in likeness he makes it work. By the end of the first few scenes I believed he was Walt Disney.

We enjoyed the story and discussed it over dinner and again over breakfast this morning. One major revelation came out of our discussion, Peg never saw Mary Poppins. When it came out her life and kids were beyond watching a film like Mary Poppins. Today, I will find a copy of the movie and we will watch it together. I give the film four stars.

The Return of Aga Bam-bi

The garden looked better this day than it had in a long time. A cover of dark grey clouds hovered over the 2013 Monet Vision, and a light mist of rain fell giving the new plants the drink they longed for. Grumpa Joe admired his work from the dry warm comfort of the sun-room. Coffee cup in hand he walked to the kitchen to survey the area between the pond and the border garden. A flurry of sparrows and finches fought for space on Grandma Peggy’s bird feeder. She had filled it in the morning and by now it was nearly empty. He looked down to assess the amount of feed falling to the ground under the feeder. There was a large round spot of bright yellow-tan seed directly under the feeder bowl. “I wonder if Peggy is spilling feed on the ground for the critters?”  Then he spotted the furry body of Aga Bam-bi. “He blends so well with the ground, I can’t believe I nearly missed him.”

Aga Bam-bi hunched on the ground at the edge of the seed circle. His nose twitching as he chewed the seed. His ears continuously turning and twisting in all directions listening for danger. Grumpa Joe lightly tapped the window with a fingernail. Aga Bam-bi froze.

He is bigger and fatter than Grumpa Joe remembered him from a year ago. He wondered where Aga Bam-bi was for the last twelve months. “He hasn’t found the petunias yet, that is good, but I’m sure he will,” muttered Grumpa under his breath.

Deep inside the briar patch within the wetland Ali Bug-Bunee sat in conference with his cell. A full year had passed since the cell expelled Aga Bam-bi. The cell had remained in sleeper status during that time.  The cell had been busy multiplying, and Ali faced a small crowd of cell members. Many of the newest members were still shedding their baby fur.

Ali began, “The Nature Spy Alliance(NSA) has informed me that Aga Bam-Bi found his way back to the garden. It is time to use Bam-Bi as a distraction while we execute our plan to devastate the petunias under the cover of darkness. Grumpa Joe does not know we are waiting to attack him. He will think it is Aga who is destroying his Vision. Put your ears at attention and repeat after me, “I solemnly swear to be active only in the darkness under the threat of being fed to the hawks.” They all fluffed their tails and wagged their ears in unison at the completion of the oath.

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétun...

Petunias. Esperanto: Petunoj. Français : Pétunias. Русский: Петунии (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grumpa Joe finished planting the last six petunia plants near the window where he spotted Aga two days ago. “I’m taking my chances with this critter, but he has stayed away from the feeder for a while, and I feel confident that he won’t eat them.” As Grumpa Joe patted the final plant into place, he spotted Aga in the far corner of the garden eating clover flowers.

Grumpa Joe slept in on Saturday and shuffled to the kitchen for his coffee. He raised the shade on the window and looked out at his fresh planting. “What the he. . .? Peg, come here. Look what that damn rabbit has done to the petunias I planted yesterday. He has eaten them to the ground.”

“Now, now dear, he is only a poor little creature who lives a very hard life in nature,” said Peggy.

“That’s it, I’m taking some serious action today.”

“What ‘ll you do?

“I’m building an IED.”

“You aren’t going to blow the poor thing up are you?”

“No, no, I meant an Improvised Entrapment Device(IED). I’ll catch him and take him for a ride.”

The striped squirrels working for the NSA were listening to Grumpa Joe from under the stoop. Chip made a mad dash across the patio and through the Cranesbill into the wetland to report to Ali.

“Excellent work Chip, you have done well. Grumpa Joe doesn’t suspect a thing. Aga will get the blame and we will fill our bellies with petunia flowers until they are all gone. If we are lucky, Joe will trap Aga with his IED and we will be rid of him too.”

to be continued. . .

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The Gift-Part 8-Birthday Party

The Gift-Part 8-Birthday Party

Morty’s tiny house glowed with the tree and the nativity. The birds sang in anticipation of the party. Morty and Rabbit danced a circle around the room.

“My friends Max, and Gracie are coming to celebrate,” he said. “They will be late. Gracie is with Ben, and Max is with Jenna. They must stay until the kids say their prayers, and are asleep.

When the guardian angels knew their kids were dreaming of sugarplums and fairies, they slipped away to Morty’s house.

Max and Gracie arrived with their halos turned on, and shining brightly. Their angel wings glowed and fluttered when they saw Connie for the first time.

“Wow, what a beautiful tree,” they said. “Jesus will love you Connie.”

“I have a new tradition to share with you,” said Morty.

“What is it?”

“It is called breaking bread.” Morty gave Max and Gracie each a slice of unleavened bread He held his own piece up and stood in front of Gracie.

“Hold your bread up like I am doing.”

“Like this?”

“Yes.” Morty pinched a piece of Gracie’s bread and said, “I wish you peace.” He tore another piece and wished her love.

“Now you do the same and make your own wishes for me.”

Gracie followed his example.

“What a beautiful tradition. Where did you learn this?”

“On my last visit to heaven, Brad, Ben, and Jenna’s Grandma showed me. She asked me to keep the tradition going in her family.”

The three angels shared wishes for each other. Each of them broke bread from the other, and made a wish with each piece.

When the bread was all gone, they made one final wish.

“Merry Christmas.”

Without another word, Morty, Gracie, and Max, knelt quietly before the crèche, the birds, and the rabbit at their sides.

They said prayers for their children, for peace in the world, and for goodwill toward all men!

The End . . . MERRY CHRISTMAS BLOGGING FRIENDS

The Gift-Part 7-Final Touches

The Gift-Part 7-Final Touches

“Be careful with the tinsel, said Morty. “Hang each strand carefully. I don’t want Connie to look like the nest in the top branches.”

Morty placed a shiny gold ornament into the nest. As Red, Chick, and Spare hung the tinsel they chirped Silent Night. When the last strand was in place, they landed on Morty’s curl and admired their creation. Connie was an outstanding gift to the Baby Jesus on His birthday. Morty turned on the lights, and Connie came to life.

“I feel so wonderful,” said Connie, “you made me look beautiful. I hope Baby Jesus likes me.”

Morty handed the rabbit a bright red cloth, “put this around the tree stand to add the final touch.” Rabbit dragged the red cloth under Connie’s boughs where he had spent so many nights out of harms way, and worked the cover around the base.

“We have to put up the nativity next.” Morty pulled a small table to the tree. He wanted the nativity to be next to Connie where all of his friends would see it. Rabbit wiped the table clean, and covered it with Morty’s best tablecloth. The birds waited nearby. Each had a figure, ready to place. Morty set the stable in place.

“Okay, now you can finish by putting the figures down.”

Each bird hovered gently with a figure in its beak, and lowered it to the table. They handled each Mary, Joseph, and Jesus and all of the characters of the scene with special care and gentleness.

Morty put the last tiny white lamb down, “here you are little Shepard.” The nativity was complete.

To be continued . . .

The Gift-Part 6-Transformation

The Gift-Part 6-Transformation

Early the next morning, Morty got up, brushed his teeth, combed his curl, and ate breakfast. It was time. He found the tree stand and placed it in the corner of his tiny room.

“Stand straight Connie,” he said as he filled the bowl with sugar water to give Connie strength.

“You have an important duty ahead.”

“I have to play Christmas tunes while we decorate.” Morty tuned in to the Choir of Heavenly Angels over his boom box to play carols.

Morty sang with the music. He strung the lights onto each branch, making sure that the spacing was even.

The rabbit and the birds helped by hanging the popcorn garland. The Sparrow held one end of the garland while the Cardinal held it farther down the string. The Chickadee held a third spot. They flew in unison carrying the garland. Gently, they lowered the popcorn garland onto the branches. The beads came next.

“I wish Brad were here to help,” said Morty. “His muscles would be a great help with these heavy beads. They are too heavy for the birds. I have to drape them carefully to make them look pretty.”

As he worked, he hummed Silent Night, his favorite Christmas carol.

“Sing with me Connie.”

“Si – lent night, Ho – ly night,

All is calm. All is bright.

Round yon Vir – gin Moth – er and child!

Ho – ly in – fant so ten – der and mild,

Sleep in heav – en – ly peace,

Sleep in heav – en – ly peace.”

They sang together as they worked.

“After we finish with Connie, we can prepare for the party tonight.”

What a happy group they were. The Cardinals, Chickadee, Rabbit and Morty were all decorating the tree for Jesus.

“Almost finished,” said Morty. “Birds, please carry the crystal star and place it on Connie’s top stem.”

“Now, for the final touch, we have to hang the tinsel. It is a great job for birds,” he said.

All three birds began immediately, and carried tinsel like they carried grass to build a nest. They hovered above a branch and carefully lowered the silver strands down.

“You can be proud Connie. You are beautiful and will make Jesus happy on his birthday.

To be continued . . ..

The Gift-Part 5-Reminiscing

The Gift-Part 5-Reminiscing

The scoot home took a long time, and Morty deliberately kept Skye out of hyper-drive. He drove slowly to keep the little tree from tearing off. They talked as he drove.

“The farmer planted me as a seed eight years ago. I became a sapling quickly, and was transplanted into a new field.”

Connie jabbered away as Morty drove.

“Farmer Jim re-planted me again when I reached sapling stage. He put me into the field where his great, great, great, great-grandfather grew up. I went thirsty during the drought, and the hot summer nearly fried my needles. I liked winter best. I loved when the snow covered my boughs and they drooped to the ground.”

“I’ve been a Guardian Angel since the beginning of time,” said Morty. “My duty is to watch over Brad. I love watching kids the best.”

“My favorite job is to take care of birds. The cardinals and chickadees picked me this year. They built their nests deep in my boughs to hide it from predators.  I couldn’t believe how many trips they made with string, and twigs from all over the farm. Red Cardinal and his wife Rosy brought the pieces one by one. Rosy wove them into place, and pasted it all together with mud from the pond.”

“I loved to watch the Cardinals fly back and forth to feed their babies. They slept between meals, but made a lot of noise when they woke up. The kids chirped loudly until a parent came with food. One day, a cat came into my field. Rosy covered the nest with her body, and spread her wings to hide them. Red buzzed the cats’ ears to get his attention away from the babies. I dropped my boughs over the nest to give them more protection. Everything became very still while the cat was there. All the trees around me watched him stalk; his head was low, and his shoulders in a crouch. After what seemed like an eternity of stillness, the cat finally wandered off.”

Morty arrived home after dark. He untied Connie’s branches and set him upright into a bucket of water.

“Tomorrow,” he said, “I will place you into a tree stand, and dress you for the birthday party. Now it is time for all of us to rest.”

To be continued . . .

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