Same Book with Two Different Titles
Mr. Charles's Second book on
California and the Central Valley Gets Released
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This book is an eclectic collection of poems and short essays on California's people and landscape, wine, beach and car culture. Wordsworth summarizes Mr. Charles's poetic affinity, "Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility."
"California Blossoms and Harvest Delights" deals with this expansive, rich and fertile landscape in a way that readers will quickly recognize the important landmarks, features and attributes of the Golden state. It pinpoints areas of appreciation and highlights important cultural contributions and activities of the various ethnic and minority groups forming this new frontier, Central California. The Silicon Valley's high-tech boom is soon followd by the housing market boom up and down the state and specifically in Central Valley places such as Fresno County, Clovis, Madera county, Visalia, Modesto, Turlock, Sacramento, Tulare etc. This may be why an astute observer of the Valley once said, "Our hills and farmland are blooming with new houses and commercial buildings bordering fields of grazing cows." This is an uplifting, eye-opening and thought-provoking work.
Temporary Troubles, Eternal Glory
Christmas time is the time to be together with loved ones and with those who matter to us a lot. This year's Christmas season will be more meaningful for many of us in this country and around the world. It's a time when we can truly count our blessings in light of all the conflicts, acts of violence, war, diseases, the terrorist spread of anthrax in our mail system, talks of WMD and bioterrorism.
The tragedy of Sept. 11 is still fresh on our collective minds. There is no way we can't forget those who laid their lives at the great altar of service. The first celebration of Christmas after those horrible acts finds us more meditative and mindful of our position in the larger community. Many other Christmas celebrations will follow in the years ahead. We are the keepers of our brothers and sisters. We become more united than ever before despite all the things that existed out there to divide us. The enemies might have tried to divide us, but we did not get into their traps. We stood tall and united in the midst of our calamities and tribulations.
The temporary troubles of our lives are nothing in comparison with the eternal glory we are called to have in the Father of all comfort (2 Corinthians 2:3-4). In these days of tremendous pain, it is good to go back to the things that bring us comfort, the things we are familiar with. Family, friendship, religion, strong sense of community, flag, storytelling and patriotism are all the things that become important in our lives since Sept. 11. This is why our officials encouraged us to go back to our normal routine despite all the changes that suddenly became part of our world. Our world changed on 9-11. Now we can talk about pre-911 and post-911. They will be for ever known as historical markers or landmarks.
No matter how much change we have lately witnessed, we want to stick to the constant points of our life. There is no doubt that we were truly shaken by the anthrax scare. We knew that we had to be careful with something that has become part of our lives. For far too long, we have taken our snail mail for granted. When we saw that our mail men and women start becoming victims of the terrorist acts, we knew that those changes would affect us personally. This is why we need to be more appreciative and thankful for these people in our lives. How many times have we taken the time to purposefully say a few words of thanks to these brave men and women who deliver our mail to us in good and bad times? How many times have we personally thanked our dry cleaner workers? How about the men in uniform, the firefighters, rescue workers, police officers, emergency medical workers and even the rescue dogs? It makes sense that these people did not think twice to rush to the burning towers to help, guide, comfort others who were facing certain death? They rushed in to humanize and diminish the suffering of complete strangers. They REACHED out to them. They did something to alleviate their excruciating pain. As a grateful society, we respond by recognizing their heroic acts. In a matter of minutes, days and months, they have reclaimed the title that surely belongs to them.
These ordinary men and women did not become our heroes because of their excellent beauty (even though most of them are beautiful), they became our heroes for their unselfish, altruistic acts on behalf of thousands. Even on earth, their recognition and rewards are greater than most others.
From the smoldering rubbles rose goodness. It's true that the hearts of many people in this country and all over the world ache, they have become witnesses of history. It has been history in the making ever since these tragic, horrific days befell our country. Goodness surely germinated and rose from the ruins of such major losses of lives and property. Grief took over our mind. The level of atrocity is unimaginable. Men have become their own fiercest enemies. They are bent on destroying themselves for each time a man dies, a part of another man also dies. If anything, the heinous acts of Sept. 11 make us realize the value of being connected to our community and the value of interdependence.
All over the world, prayer vigils were held. Churches saw an upsurge in attendance. Neighbors who never said hi to each other finally realized that they had so much to share. They are talking. Even major cities' crime rates decline for the few days after the tragedy. Once for all, people matter. Relationships matter. It's ok to grieve. It's ok to look for public comfort and inspirational or spiritual matters. The stock market becomes less relevant. Our materialistic ambitions are set aside for a while. Our selfish ways become the antithesis to this kind of 1-for-all sense of community.
Compassion becomes more than a simple word. Seize the day. Live today and forget the past and even the future. How many of us wouldn't like to sustain this kind of spirit of America at its best? Even on busy streets, complete strangers take time to say hi. They don't seem to be peering down your throats without even nodding your way or recognizing you are around. Our hearts become open to the needs of our neighbors. That's how it should have been all along! We may have finally realized that we are all on the same boat of life. Life is too short for us to waste it. Let's use it to contribute to our world and matter to others. Our life is like a flower. Job 14:2. No matter what may have come our way, we know that victory, glory awaits in the near future. 2 Corinthians 4:1, 7-8, 17-18;
Please meditate over this passage: "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea.." Psalm 46: 1-2. Let's sustain the spirit of America at its best! We are a nation of strong faith, conviction and determination
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Mr. Charles's first book "The Long Lost Garden of Eden" was well-received.
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