Saturday, 2 July 2016

Observations # 18 June 29 2016

             Summer is well underway- nice warm days- but too little rain- still our strawberries are good.
I have finished the Diary Project and now just await the return of the pages from a volunteer proof reader. Since giving the folder of 152 pages to Tim at Condor Books, to give the proof reader I have redone about 20 pages. I am getting impatient to get the pages back and get the thing really finished.
           The biggest news is that after Jasmin the grand grand daughter put an appeal on KICKSTARTER  for funds  in order to get the book printed a lot of the amount asked for has been pledged. That's more than a good start and I'm confident I'll have enough money to cover the set up and the printing costs.
      These pictures were taken about a week apart
the left side has the cucumbers and in the top picture you can see the tomato plant.
The bowl of straw berries is about 2 quarts and is about a half of today's picking  

The War Diary.

                 It has been 5 years since I decided to illustrate the diary and 4 1/2 years since I started. I have written about it so much that I have had enough of that.
Now I think it might be fun to write as if I were Uncle Mike looking on over my shoulder for these years.
It should be obvious to anyone that I am not a professional writer- not even a good amateur- but I have never let that stop me. I get a kick out of trying and I think I even manage to communicate sometimes. There have been times in these past 4 1/2 years that I found myself wondering what Mike would think about my choices of his entries to illustrate; also I wondered what he would have to say about the drawings.
           Like the fantasy I wrote "as if" done by the Padre before I got very far into the project, I'll just start and see where fate takes me.

                     The Padre Observes

              At last it is finished. What a painful experience I had to watch the nephew endure. But endure he did. A lot of his pain came from his lack of improvement in his typing. It seems strange to me why he has so much trouble with his fine motor skills, but it seems his fingers can't seem to land squarely on any keys! Then there is the matter of his life time lack of experience. Paying attention to the fundamentals of writing has not been high in his priorities. He has rewritten every single line in his book at least 5 times! At least he has been trying to make his sentences shorter, and reduce the need for so many commas.
              However I do understand his fundamental belief that content is more important than style. I think if he were braver he would write in a 'free' way that is comprehensible but does not have the limiting requirements of 'proper' grammatical structure. Of course luckily he knows that he is not an e.e.cummings the talented poet who refused to use capital letters.. Then there was his initial failure to foresee how many notes he would be making and the need to be super organized. All his wasted hours in the first few months while searching for something he had set aside, taught him to devise a system of storage that worked. (or the most part) There were times when his uncompromising need for authenticity in his illustrations cause even me to say that drawing is good enough. I know he won't talk about his portrayals of me. There are quite a few illustrations in which I appear and it was painful to see him draw and redraw trying to make them all look like the same person. For me they are good enough. There were times in those years when I looked in the mirror and didn't recognize my self. With the vanity I admit I was guilty of I was glad no one took any pictures of me when I shaved off all my hair. That was during those long hot dusty days on the roads with thousand of marching boots and trucks. 
             Right now I am sharing his impatience with receiving the rough draft he left with his friend in Kincardine. Yes, even we who have shucked off the 'mortal shell' still have our human attributes. The difference now here in the Eternal, is that we see that all is illusion- there really is no such thing as impatience.
It is another of those abstract concepts that humans use to justify or explain.
            Yet for the nephew, the waiting and impatience is real enough to be be causing him to waste his precious time stewing over it. He will get it soon enough and I expect that sometime by mid July he could be taking his finished files to the printer.
            Kickstarter is an interesting way of begging. The nephew had and still has reservations about using it. He justifies it to himself by saying to himself what he has done is of some value, and that others are not obliged to donate. He pushes aside the fact that asking friends and relatives for their money rather puts them 'on the spot'. However it looks as if he will exceed the asked for sum.That, he knows, is a lucky thing because the $2500 was a cautious 'ask' and he will need at least $4000 to cover the costs. That does not include the surprisingly large sum he spent on ink cartridges, large and normal size paper, photocopying, markers, paint, digital gadgets to save his work in and printing some photographs.
              We share a laugh when we hear of  the hourly rate charged by those who have to make a living in this field. In the past 5 years his 60 hour weeks would by now have made him a millionaire. If you don't believe me do the math at $50 an hour. But don't bother to waste your time on such trivia.

           The diary entries are well chosen. I am aware of all of them and it's almost as if I were guiding him. The nephew has intuited which of the 528 entries are ones that needed to be used. He could have used more but  the ones he chose are the ones that tell the story. Initially he had just selected about 225 entries, then after reading it again his number rose to only 290. Checking to see what entries he 'could' have used, he eventually got to the current number- some where over 329. I remember the day he sat in a hard chair for 5 hours and  selected the final 40 entries. I have to say I even approve of his putting my observations in the correct order in which they happened. Sometimes I wrote of what happened on the 5th day of the month and then later remembered what happened on the 4th day and added that. Mostly those things didn't matter. Now with my all seeing perspective I sometimes wish I had had the time to add those things I mentioned that were the stuff of drama.
           I have to say I approve of the inclusion of the soldiers'confessions. There were many more that were beyond my nephew's imagination and yes they were hard to listen to. There were so many lonely men, so many missing their home and family. In the midst of all that chaos and bloodshed nothing surprised me. My challenge was to get enough sleep to give the men my undivided attention. There were so many times I wished I'd had the power to send some of them home. Something not spoken about is the fact that when men lose hope they often seem to be the unlucky ones who are hit by a sniper or who don't  see the shrapnel coming or step on a land mine. It's not intentional, it just seems that their unhappy spirit causes them to be careless. 
            This leads me to the inclusion of the parallel theme of the Stress Syndrome. I am glad the nephew had the thought. Although, how could he not? When he started this in 2011 and up to the present there were many media stories about soldiers' problems with PTSD. Suicides in the military and other careers affected my nephew greatly.
Perhaps it was reading about all my pals who died at Dieppe that caused him to be particularly sensitive, but even in those months when depression threatened him he was able to just keep working . He often thought of another old warrior and mentor Carl Schaefer who was a war artist. Schaefer used to say in class:"work is your only salvation". To that I say Amen.
            Something I am particularly happy with is the inclusion of my realization that Ecumenism is something that in uniting all Christians, could eventually be the beginning of uniting all people- all spiritual paths, and not just those Faiths of the Book. To the citizens of the Earth at this time the constant threat of terrorism seems 
like a most threatening time. That is understandable, but the fear that present day people feel is slight when one realizes that on many ordinary days during WW2 more people died in war related conflict than have died in all the months since the war ended. That of course excludes the genocidal actions of evil men in events that have been misnamed as Civil Wars.
           Overall I am pleased with the results of my nephews work. I never dreamed that something like this could be created. Now I have to somehow try to influence my Nephew to set it aside and move onto other things. Knowing him as I do, he sees the imperfections in his work as too significant, and he has caught himself  thinking the work of the past 5 years is just a warm up for a really Major work that 'gets everything right'. I trust he will realize that this project is 'right' enough.
Pax Vobiscum

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