Sparked by Words

Archive for December, 2013

The Festivities Between

Wishing all of my readers a wonderful transition from 2013 to 2014, in whatever celebratory way you enjoy. I hope it is with friends and family and traditions that enchant you. With food and good health and fun and reflection. With spirited encounters or spiritual rituals or sublime moments. With experiences to remember and opportunities to improve. And with light to render all things peaceful and calm as you cross the bridge.

I will be having my own wonderful moments.

I won’t be writing over the bridge. I’ll just be moving, loving, laughing with my family and friends.

Thank you for following me. Your support and your comments mean everything. May all wonders wander your way. See you in 2014.

Shari *: )

I’m Blushing a Bit Here

I’ve been nominated by Sandra whose blog, Notes on a Spanish Valley

always inspires me, for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award and am tickled by her recognition. Thank you, Sandra. If you aren’t yet familiar with her blog, you’ll be pleased to make it a regular read. In fact, you’ll get addicted rather quickly. Recipes, Spanish lessons, photographs of her Spanish paradise, stories about her life in rural Andalucia.

Here are the guidelines for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award to follow:

  1. All recipients need to thank the giver.
  2. Post 7 things about yourself.
  3. Pass the award on to 7 other bloggers of your choice and let them know that they have been nominated. (Yeah, I nominated 8 people – when there’s wealth, you have to acknowledge it!)
  4. Include the logo of the award in a post or on your blog. (I tried to attach the image of the award here, but I couldn’t do it successfully. See note at bottom of this post.)

Seven things you might like to know about me:

  1. I’m having a hard time finding anything at all about myself that’s really interesting. Whatever is of merit about me is in my books.
  2. I’m a dedicated teacher but there is always more to learn. Love working with kids. (Was an art teacher for more than 25 years, have also worked in a commercial art studio. Teaching is much more rewarding and honest. To see a child’s face light up when they’ve achieved something challenging – that is the best!)
  3. Each new thing I learn informs me there are 100 more I should learn about. I’m trying. The world is full of wonderful history, and people everywhere are interesting and unique.
  4. Enjoy attending author’s reading events. Listening to other writers talk about their books and their writing journeys – always fascinating.
  5. Could spend every day at a museum, art museums especially, but almost any kind of museum will hold my attention. I wander for hours, sucking in everything I can.
  6. Love doing all kinds of cultural things, going to fairs, farmers’ markets, craft shows, music events, live theater, but even more so with a friend or family member.
  7. I read, read, read, and worry there isn’t enough time to read everything I want to read. And someday, I will publish, publish, publish!

These are the eight bloggers I’m nominating for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. All of them write blogs I love to follow. Please check them out for yourself. Congratulations to each of you – you make it worthwhile to open my computer every day.


Jacqui Murray offers an entire course for writers, and it’s free. What you don’t know, you’ll find out on her blog. A wealth of information that you need!

How the Cookie Crumbles

Tess is smart, witty, and no nonsense. In her word: irreverent. She keeps you thinking and laughing.

Oldest Daughter & Red Headed Sister

Audrey Rose writes about a world filled with family and lovely experiences and makes an adventure out of everything she does.


Suzie claims she is not a professional writer or photographer but her take on the world is charming and perfect. You’ll love following her life across the pond with The Bloke, the cats, and the kids in the band.

    Margaux’s Pen

Margaux writes all kinds of posts about writing, including book reviews and an informative word-of-the-day.


Melanie (sureasmel) writes insightful posts about the art of writing and about her personal writing experiences. She teaches college students and her take on the problems writers have often addresses the issues she sees with them.

CoffeeGrounded’s Blog

This lovely and loving woman has been through a harrowing experience and come through it with her soul and mind intact. She’s photographer, baker, and story teller. Warning: don’t read her blog when you’re really hungry.

Mrs Holder’s Legacy

Yakinamac was advised by Mrs. Holder not to pursue writing and thank heaven, she is doing exactly what she wants, which is to thumb her nose at Mrs Holder and pursue writing!  Yay for her, I want her to succeed! You’ll love her posts.


I’m such a klutzy blogger that it’s likely you will have some difficulty clicking on the links to get them to take you to the blogs I’ve recommended. Please take a few seconds to write the site info in your browser in order to visit these sites – I promise you, every one is well worth the visit and you’ll return for more.

I’m also unlikely to be able to attach the award button as required. You can see it on Notes on a Spanish Valley on her post titled Muchas Gracias, December 2013.

Ugh! Again, I’m very frustrated with the site – don’t know if it’s WordPress fault or mine, but I wrote this post in Times New Roman and the site changed it to this nonsense.  Please forgive me but do visit the other blogs I’ve mentioned.

A Walk to Darfur

Footsteps, two impressed across a hot shore, singular in

Width and curve but universal in contour: right foot then left

Female, all toes present. Circles and lines of footprints

Circling everywhere yet nowhere of importance, no urgency

Toes squish into sand, sea froth propels imprints toward

Currents surging between highways of migrating whales

Mixing with ocean currents that crash onto beaches

In Africa

Footprints, millions impressed into parched desert earth

Stones, sharp edged, cutting into weary, barefoot flesh of

Solemn boys and hollow girls. Heels and toes press for safety

Skin black as core, eyes plead, voice a language I’ve never heard

Words of their fathers and mothers, ghosts maimed and slain

Haunt the journey of these children, alone, seeking haven

Forcing their feet to bear the weight of flight, the quest

For refuge

Only fortune chose me for an afternoon strolling at the shore

While these children march into the fear of night, away from

Known terror to unknown future. Stalwart grandparents

Remained in Africa’s torrid cradle amid the realm of ancestors

My footprints match the children’s bearing ghosts of Africa

Their toes as long as mine, the arch of their feet as high.

They walk. They flee across Africa’s night, black as

Snuffed stars

My claim the bounty of my grandparents’ choice

A million years ago when the sun burned beneath their feet

Walking from the cradle of Africa to Europe to ships bound for

America where I, descendent, wander on a glazed beach

Aimless steps trekked on hot shore, washed by seas

Luck the gift of my heritage, I walk a tranquil coast

The children walk on vital paths. Tomorrow I walk

To Darfur

Copyright Sharon Bonin-Pratt 2013

Author’s Note: This poem was written a several years ago and refers of course to the genocide in Darfur, Sudan in the early 2000’s. While much of the conflict in Darfur has been resolved, the dichotomy of fortune has not been repaired for so many in our world. I hope in this season of joy and celebration that we all find a way to bridge the chasm, whether via an invitation to share at table, a donation to a worthy cause, or an act of kindness for someone else.

May you enjoy the holidays with your loved ones and may you be blessed and recognize your blessings.

(Addendum: I have absolutely no idea why the site insisted on boldfacing some lines of the poem. It is not written this way and I can’t get it to correct.)

The Revolution of Dreams

This is a tribute to Nelson Mandela, but you must bear with me to get to the tribute.

We moved to Oahu, Hawaii in late 1959. It was the second time my family had lived there, the first being the year when I turned four and my dad served in the US Army as a physician, doing his internship at Tripler Army Hospital after earning his medical degree. Our second venture, my parents had promised two things: that Hawaii was a melting pot of races and beliefs, and that we would only stay one year. An adventure from which we’d return to our lives in New Jersey and resume our East Coast friendships and pursuits. (Didn’t work out that way, but that’s another story.)

Now 11, I had a tough time on this island paradise. I wore bobby socks and saddle shoes, crinolines under my flared skirts, and spoke with a pronounced New Joisey accent. The local kids wore shifts (a sleeveless straight dress more like a slip than what I considered a dress,) went barefoot, and spoke Pidgin English. I’d studied classical ballet, opera, theatre, piano, French, and had read almost all the children’s classics. The Hawaiian kids went surfing, danced hula, played ukulele, strung leis, and knew all the ancient Hawaiian legends about the volcano goddess, Madame Pele, and the menehune, secretive elves who lived in the thousands of caves on the islands. Many of the island kids traced their lineage to Hawaiian royalty or to ancestors in Asia. I traced mine to Polish and Russian Jews who escaped Europe just in time. (For Jews who escaped Europe, it was always just in time.)

There was nothing wrong with the island kids. I just didn’t fit. I was outcast immediately at Punahou, the elite private school where Barack Obama was later educated. More than the personal torment from the island kids, who told me I would always be a mainlander in their eyes, and who put a fist sized cockroach in my desk as a way of welcoming me to school, was the torment I witnessed them inflicting on each other. Shifting social status was the norm, causing an uncomfortable ranking system. I was always at the bottom. Perhaps it increased my sensitivity to the plight of others.

You need to know that the center of Oahu is occupied by American troops. Everyone who lives in Hawaii is familiar with the military bases in the mountains. Ships of all kinds berth at the docks, and military transports fly in and out of the airbases on a regular schedule. The Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps are all prominent. Young soldiers (I’ll call them all soldiers though I recognize that they each have specific identification depending on their military commitment) from their ranks often going into Honolulu on liberty to experience the bars and probably the brothels. Even at 11, I understood that my freedom and security were reinforced and guaranteed by the presence of these courageous troops who were only about ten years older than I and far from home.

Getting to and from school each day required I take two or three city bus rides that meandered through the suburbs. I sometimes walked the second transfer rather than wait for the bus, an easy task in the languid Hawaiian climate. One day as I walked, I noted two young Army soldiers about 15 steps ahead of me. They were dressed in uniforms sharply pressed and perfectly fitted, their caps at a jaunty angle on their short hair. They walked in long strides staying on the sidewalk, and if they spoke, I couldn’t hear them. Respectful and dignified. Did I mention that they were Black Americans? (Wasn’t the words we used then. I would probably have called them Negro and meant it with complete esteem.)

The bus I would have taken lumbered by, a steel cab of seats, wheels, and lights. Out of the open windows leaned its passengers, those who would have been my fellow travelers. They were the typical motley group of Hawaiian islanders in the late 50’s – mixed Japanese, Chinese, Filipino, Haole (white,) Portuguese, the melting pot my parents had promised. It seemed the entire busload of occupants thrust their heads and arms through the windows, gesturing as if shooing foraging dogs. They screamed, “Go home, you niggahs, go home.”

Intaking daggers with my breath, I stopped walking for a few moments. The young soldiers did not. They didn’t respond in any way, at least not outwardly. The Pacific Command is headquartered in Honolulu. The safety of the passengers, of our country, was insured by the vast presence of military on the island, from where troops were trained and later deployed to fight in Japan and Korea, later in Vietnam, Iraq, other parts of the Middle East. That day the soldiers walked. Next month they might have been given orders to any dangerous hotspot in the world, and only God knows if they would have returned safely. The busload of passengers had reduced them to a nasty slur, discounting their sacrifice. In their prejudiced minds all they saw was the color of their skin and not the valor of their occupation, the dignity of their being.

It was probably a decade before I heard the name Nelson Mandela and knew who he was. It was a decade in which my sense of tolerance for those who are different from me grew with my frustration at the bigotry of so many. Mandela despised the moral turpitude that allowed the white population to discredit black people. He worked to right those social and political wrongs. Before I left Hawaii on my thirteenth birthday, he was already imprisoned for his actions against the government of South Africa.

Nelson Mandela spent his life working to build bridges between people of different colors, encouraging them to see that we are all connected by our humanity. He was not always gentle, he was not always soft spoken. He never gave up. He demanded opportunity for everyone; he demanded a voice for each person. He did not want to erase the color of one’s skin but praise the beauty of all people. He was anti-apartheid in a country ruled by the fist and power of a minority who saw him and his brethren as inferior and threatening and who controlled the native population by refusing to provide equal education to the children or options for advancement for the adults.

You scared me sometimes, Nelson Mandela. You woke me up to the injustices in South Africa. You won my admiration by the persistence of your devotion to universal rights. You showed us how a nation can be transformed. You inspired me. We will miss you but your legacy remains. The world is a better place for you having been in it, and I have no doubt that you are welcomed to whatever place of divine grace comes next.