American Historical Trivia: Across the Border, Food, Unexpected Fame and Gratitude in Alabama

One day, a starving group from Mexico decided it was time. Time to pack up, scurry across the border and see if the rumors that an unlimited food source actually existed.

“Let’s cross the Rio Grande, near Brownsville, Texas,” said Uncle Peatroo.

The desperate entourage bravely agreed as they jumped into the cold water.  Feet, legs and bodies flailed wildly pushing through the strong river current. The stronger swimmers crawled first onto shore and reached out to the weaker and smaller members of the group.

Everyone made it! Now began the arduous journey to find their next meal. Continue reading

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Sacred Resting Ground


Taupiri Mountain. Sacred resting ground for the Waikato iwi (tribe.) I was just a young princess when crowned the first Māori queen over forty years ago. Because I have strong visionary gifts, my people called me, Te Atairangikaahu, or the “Hawk of the Morning Sky. The problem my people face is the European invasion and their rapid control over Māori lands. Without a centralized government, the survival of the Māori culture simply is impossible.

Kingitanga, or the Māori King movement, makes it possible for some of the tribal leaders to unite under one King, or in my case, Queen. My goals? Simple: Promote peace; give educational opportunities and spiritual guidance for the Māori people. While my predecessors killed Europeans if they entered the Kingitanga, I put a stop to this practice early in my career.

Today my kidneys are failing. Soon my dear husband will bury me somewhere on Taupiri Mountain in an unmarked grave, a Māori tradition to show my equality with my people.  I do not fear death. In fact, forty long years as the “Hawk of the Morning Sky” has made me quite tired. I am grateful for the opportunity to dedicate most of my life helping and serving my people. Farewell and all the best to my beloved country, New Zealand.

oldest son commands
ceremonial puppet
washed up royalty

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Learn more about this writing challenge here at Ligo Haibun Challenge. Thank you.

Join us over at Ligo Haibun today!

Monthly Peace Challenge: Art Thou Peaceful…with Ukiyo-e?

Sixteen-year old, Kazuya, knows his future profession. His father tries to tell him differently. No, son, you must rise up into the shogun class if all possible. Don’t follow the ways of your poor father. I can barely put food on the table working as an artist and part-time fireman.”

“But Father, I watch you work making many beautiful wood-block prints to sell. You know I have the skills because you taught me well. Please, please give me your blessings. I only want to be an ukiyo-e artist like you,” Kazuya spoke firmly as he held and admired one of his father’s most recent prints.

ukiyo-e

With a sigh and apprehension, Kazuya’s seventy-year-old father shuffles slowly over to his oldest son. He motions Kazuya to walk with him.

One Hundred Famous Views of Edo #113, "Ao...

“Son, an artist’s life is not easy. You are at the bottom of the social class. You work hard but gain very little money. Nevertheless, there is no other life but an artist’s life to find peace in your soul. Inspiration to create beautiful art is abundant here in Kyoto. Just observing everyday life gives your senses an intoxicated shot like that from a warm glass of saké. From the beautiful geishas, courtesans, lovely tea houses, Kabuki actors and majestic landscapes, you long always to drink in this ukiyo-e world. I failed as a good provider for my family, but I have come to know great peace because this “floating world” or ukiyo-e* of the common people.”

Kazuya’s father suddenly stops walking and gently pulls his son closer whispering,

“Ah, your mother named you well, Kazuya. Go now, you have my blessings, peaceful one.”

Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji (Hiroshige)

under the shoguns
isolated from the world
floating peace prospers

* * *

*Ukiyo-e loosely translates to “floating world” or world of the common people. The -e translates to pictures and together it means, floating world pictures. From the 17th to the 19th century, this Japanese art movement, Ukiyo-e, flourished. Japan experienced great peace especially during the 17th century under the ruling Tokugawa shogunate. It was in the heart of the city where artists like Hokusai and Hiroshige produced the beautiful wood-block art style.

Inspiration for this haibun fictional story comes from the Monthly Peace Challenge hosted by Everyday Gurus. The challenge this month was to create a post “about the intersection of art and peace.” Kozo asks:

“What piece(s) of art makes you a more peaceful person?”

-Images source: Wikimedia Commons

Ligo Haibun Challenge: Wild West Fantasy

Imagine in your youth, the sparkle in those pretty, dark eyes as you ride across the American western frontiers in search of a new place to call home. On May 1st, you silently celebrate your birthday hunting with the wagon train men. Who needs girlie celebrations when your talents with a gun and horse riding abilities increase remarkably quickly without them. Silly waste of time. It takes at least five months with the wagon train team to make its way from Missouri to Montana. Your family is moving and in five months, your outdoor survival skills will be perfect. Unfortunately, mom succumbs to “washtub pneumonia” and dad dies soon after. Being the eldest of six children makes you their natural caretaker. Three sisters and two brothers. Life in the wild, Wild West is never easy. How can a poor illiterate young girl support herself and siblings?

First, you keep believing in yourself and take every opportunity that comes your way. No work is below you. You work as a dishwasher, a cook, waitress, nurse, a miner, an ox-team driver, a dance-hall girl and yes, sometimes even selling yourself at the Fort Laramie Three-Mile Hog Ranch.

Calamity Jane with gun

wild west fantasy
rough-riding, gun-slinging gal
calamity jane

♣ ♣ ♣

If you like this post, perhaps you would enjoy visiting Call2Read| Ligo Haibun Challenge. This week’s challenge was a choice between Fantasy or Inspiration.

Thank you!

Soriya

photo source: David Williamson

Soriya, a gifted music teacher, begins to play. Graceful fingers brush gently across the strings. Everyone turns to listen. The harp sounding like instrument tames the crowd in the Killing Fields Museum room. A dark hair, robust eight-year-old boy notices tears flowing down Soriya‘s face. He runs over and whispers, “Why do you cry, mama?”

music flows within
harmony centers the heart
draws us together

The crowd applause her soothing performance. Soriya brushes the tears away, smiles at her son and replies, “For so many reasons, dear. Sometimes they are happiness tears like that of a tourist finding entertainment with a revival of cultural music. Other times my broken heart weeps over the tragic Cambodian genocide. Three million people obliterated from the face of the earth in three years and the rest of the world, for the most part, remained clueless. I cry for them. Our people. I also play music to honor the lost of your grandfather and two uncles.”

regimes fail townsmen
leaders despise eyeglasses
shoot between the eyes

Inspiration: Ligo Haibun Challenge| Photo Prompt

©simplycharming2013

The Olympic Medals

Copyright-Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

Agnes searched for her medals as the reporter studied a photograph.

Suddenly, Agnes cried out, “Oh, look, I find my grandchildren’s crayons, but not medals…pshaw, must mean medals are not so important, eh?”

“Your father?” asked the reporter.

“Yes, and handsome too! It was because of his strong athletic genes I went to win, at thirty-five years old, four gold and two silver Olympic medals,” sighed Agnes.

As the awe-inspired reporter turned to speak with Agnes, he found she had nodded off to sleep. Well, he thought, at her young ninety-one year age, his story could wait until another day.

* * *

“All our dreams can come true–if we have the courage to pursue them.”

~Walt Disney

* * *

Genre: Historical Fiction based on the life of retired artistic gymnast and coach, Agnes Keleti (1/9/21-present), born in Budapest, Hungary. Keleti survived WWII by working as a Christian maid in a pro-Nazi family. Her mother and sister survived the concentration camp but her father and extended family perished at Auschwitz.

Inspiration: Friday Fictioneers …WARNING! This is an addiction for which there is no 12 step recovery program.

THE CHALLENGE:

Write a one hundred word story that has a beginning, middle and end. (No one will be ostracized for going over or under the word count.)

THE KEY:

Make every word count.