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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Julie Ann Hammond - Rest In Peace

JULIE ANN HAMMOND (BLANSETT), age 70, of Richmond, Virginia passed away suddenly by accident, on Saturday, April 6, 2019, due to asphyxiation.

Julie was born on October 28, 1948 in Ft. Collins, Colorado to Dorothy (Digby) and George A. Blansett, Jr. She was an only child.

Her family moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1951. She attended Center School District No. 58, graduating sixth in her class from Center Senior High School in 1966 as a member of the National Honor Society. While attending high school she was the school newspaper (Searchlight) editor. Further honors include MO feature writer of the year in 1965 and 1966, as well as, MO poetry awards in the same years. She enjoyed being part of the musical cast, singing in the choir, 100 Girls Club, Quill & Scroll and Spanish Club.

She married Dale E. Roberts, also from Center Sr. High School, Class of 1966, in 1968. Their daughter, Rebecca Rae was born that same year. They later divorced. He preceded her in death in 2010. Julie later married Murray Richter. They had a son, Jason Murray, born in 1972. Julie met her current husband, Paul Hammond, in 1979. They had a long term relationship and married in 1992.

Julie furthered her education by attending University of Missouri Kansas City, in 1966, majoring in English Literature, Journalism and Spanish. She also attended Pierre Adult Education in Pierre, South Dakota, in 1977, where she studied Shorthand.

She was a Dance Masters Academy Certified Teacher at Flaugh-Lewis Dance School in Kansas City, MO from 1964 to 1970. She instructed tap, ballet, jazz, acrobatics and baton.

Most of her professional career was in the secretarial field. She worked as a clerk typist for the federal government, a transcriptionist for University of Kansas Medical Center in the Radiology Department, and for the Kansas City School District in data processing. However, her favorite job was working as Executive Secretary for the National Historical Society in Pierre, South Dakota. Later activities included freelance writing and forum host on chat room discussions.

Julie was a member of the Bahai' Faith. She frequently blogged and communicated the message of One Planet, One People.

Her younger years were spent growing up in the Santa Fe Hills neighborhood of South Kansas City, Missouri. She moved to South Dakota in 1975. She lived in Tampa, Florida from 1992 to 2002, then on to Richmond, Virginia, where she lived at the time of her death.

Julie enjoyed reading, writing, music and dance. She had a sarcastic wit, sharp mind and kind heart. She loved her children and her pets, and spoiled both incessantly.

She is survived by her husband, Paul Hammond of Richmond, Virginia, daughter, Rebecca Ethridge and husband, Paul Ethridge of Palmer Lake, Colorado and son, Jason Richter, of Mammoth Lake, California. She is also survived by her close cousin, Chuck Digby, of Leawood, Kansas, friend Gladys Pineda, of Richmond, Virginia and many Facebook friends that she communicated with regularly. She leaves behind her beloved doggies, Arnold and Lorelei.

She was preceded in death by her mother, Dorothy W. Blansett (Digby), in 1992 and her father, George A. Blansett, Jr. in 2002.

Graveside services will be held on Saturday, April 27, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. in the Park Cemetery in Carthage, Missouri.

Lunch will follow the service at her favorite Mexican restaurant, El Charros in Carthage, Missouri, immediately following the ceremony.

Please contact her daughter, Rebecca Ethridge, for further information at rebeccarae68@gmail.com.

Thank you to all the people that enriched her life, as I am sure she enriched yours.

"Free thyself from the fetters of this world, and loose thy soul from the prison of self."

- The Hidden Words of Baha'u'lla'h

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Friday, August 19, 2016

A Wounded Heart

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Me and Andy

Originally published November 7, 2011

I know, I know, it should be Andy and I, but as the Andy might have said, “If I wanted to say Paul and I, I would have said Paul and I. I know the rule and I broke it because it suited me, so sue me”. Best practices are to know the rules before breaking them. In this case I do. Mostly I don’t. Last time I diagramed a sentence was in junior high. Now they don’t even have junior high. Now they probably teach texting or even sexting. I’ve done the former, but not the latter.

I’m one of those that still believes phones are for talking and real phones have a cord attached to them. An exciting day for me was when I got my first cordless phone. I took a walk into the backyard and kept talking. What’s more I kept listening. I was actually able to hold a conversation without being attached to the rest of the world.

Cell phones, on the other hand are a different matter. For a long time I considered them a passing fad and an unnecessary luxury. Do you remember that they were originally called “car phones” and were the personal province of stock brokers and lawyers? Probably not. They used to mount on dashboards and were about the size of a home phone, they even had a cord! They were the essence of status. The next installment came with a should strap and was about the size of a WWII walkie-talkie. I’m guessing this was 1980-something and the digital revolution was still picking up steam. The Sony Walkman was cutting edge and joggers everywhere were thrilled. If you still have one, I’ll gladly take it off your hands. I have an anti-skip CD player I’ll trade for it. Deal? No?

OK back to the telephone. It was patented by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876. There is a apocryphal story of its invention. Bell was in his laboratory when he spilled some acid. In his panic, he shouted into his prototype invention, “Watson, come here! I need you!” And sure enough his assistant in the next room came to his aid. This is probably not true, but I like it. Every great invention should have an apocryphal story. Even Archimedes jumped from his bath tub shouting “Eureka!” when he invented the wheel or one of those ancient Greek things, like algebra or hummus. Thanks to Archimedes, miners now have something to shout when they discover gold.

But I digress, again. What was I talking about? I think it was Andy Rooney , who passed this weekend. It is not my idea of a good Sunday to wake up to the headline, “Andy Is Dead”. There was no mistaking it: it could only be Andy Rooney, a curmudgeon’s curmudgeon and longtime commentator on 60 Minutes. Rooney lampooned the English language and the minutia of daily life like no other. He knew the value of a word misplaced, and he knew that an archaic term spoke to some viewers and perplexed others. Either way he had their attention.

He was a professional complainer and a hero of mine. Once in awhile he would wander too far from the reservation. A commentary on race offended the guardians of political speech, and as the usual suspects raised hell, Rooney saw the writing on the wall. More than one public citizen has had his career torpedoed by repeating publicly what is often said privately. While not retracting his words, he expressed regret. I was disappointed. I wanted him to make a noble stand against political correctness, but Rooney saw the wisdom of bending before breaking and lived to complain another day–many other days.

Andy Rooney had been a fixture on CBS’s 60 Minutes for decades. He could create a story from thin air. Nothing was too mundane. He could talk about paper clips and make it seem funny. I could tell you a few more facts about his landing on Omaha Beach and his first hand accounts of World War II, but they just wouldn’t capture the man. As it turns out, Rooney is a YouTube star. There are scores of Andy Rooney and psuedo-Andy videos online.

So here’s to the memory of Andy Rooney and all the wry smiles he gave me. He is one of my personal heroes, and I feel his loss like some felt the loss of Steve Jobs. We are all the less for it. I’ll remember him each time I whine about matters large and small and hope in some way he will look down and approve.

Andy Rooney died this past Friday at the age of 92. He worked for seven decades as a journalist in print and on television. His last broadcast was October 2nd. He leaves behind four children, five grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

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Thursday, April 07, 2016

For a Dancer

Can it really been 3 ½ years since I have contributed to this blog?  Sometimes I forget it even exists.  Such is the way of blogs.  It’s passe’ today, as much as it was de rigueur in the early oughts. I’ve been filling my time by way of social media, but it is an unsatisfying and often losing proposition.  The social media comment is a thing unto itself, part wisecrack and part thoughtful rejoinder, part sport and part warfare.  While part of modern life and quite entertaining, it makes a poor medium for long form commentary.  For one, it can be an obnoxious waste of time.  Social commentary should be short, witty and to the point.  I use it to challenge prevailing opinion and to deflate egos.  Neither are welcomed by most readers and are soon buried under an onslaught of kneejerk reactions with a shelf life measured in minutes and hours.  The golden ring of social commentary, one that has mostly eluded me, is going “viral”.  My comments are cutting, clever and brief, everything a viral comment should be.  I’m convinced, on Facebook at least, that it is more a matter of luck and timing.  I’m not giving up, but I am going to be more selective with my time.  Facebook consumes days, weeks and months of your life and as I grow older I realize there are only so many of those to go around.  Also, I miss long form commentary.  Social media is ephemeral.  Well written essays can be read months or even years later with some appreciation.  Some of it is just a snapshot of what’s on my mind or a meandering ramble like this.  I’m reading about a young diarist, Everette Ruess, from the early 1930’s.  Wikipedia describes him as “a young artist, poet and writer who explored nature including the High Sierra, California Coast and the desert”.  A vagabond and a wanderer, he disappeared in the desert at age 20, leaving only a written record of his short life.  His star burned brightly and briefly, but made a permanent impression on those who knew him or learned of him.  He was never found.  Nothing beguiles like a mystery.

When I started this blog in 2003, I hadn’t written in years.  I didn’t know then if I had it in me and I still don’t today, but some of it, I think is worthwhile.  Ultimately, I do it because it pleases me.  It certainly changed my life.  It is my written record.  These years are given me as a witness, a storyteller and to make some small difference.  Jackson Browne put it this way in one of the most beautiful songs ever written.

Into a dancer you have grown,
  from the seeds somebody else has thrown.
Go on ahead and throw some seeds of your own
  and somewhere between the time you were alive
    and the time you go …

May lie the reason you were alive
   that you’ll never know

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Friday, December 14, 2012

A Time for Everything Under Heaven

So goes Ecclesiastes, and so goes Roger McGuinn.  The slaughter of the day is barely 6 hours old.  Myself, I only woke up to it 4 hours ago.  Another massacre on the television.  It seems like I've seen this program before, but there was something more hideous this time.  The victims were children, five year olds, six year olds, seven, eight, nine and ten year olds.  I can even believe I am typing these words. I am just now facing the reality of it.  Food doesn't feel so well in my stomach and nothing seems appropriate right now but this, writing, thinking, processing.  I can't deal with anymore facts.  They seem to have no meaning right now.  Somewhere in this country parents are dealing with the unthinkable, the unfathomable.  Somewhere in our country there are children who have seen what no one, not a fireman, policeman or soldier should ever have to see.  Our national mourning is just beginning.  The obsession over what has just happened has already begun.  Radios, TVs and computer screen are bleeding facts, shock, pictures, interviews and disbelief.  If only it were not true, if only.

I have no 6 year old of my own to hold, hug and cry over.  I've never felt the absence so keenly.   Since I don't pray, now is not a good time to start, but if I did, I would be.  I'd pray, Lord, what can I do to prevent this, to keep another parent or child from seeing this, feeling this and when can I start?  What, what, what should I do Lord?  What should I do?

There is no TV on in my home right now and there will not be.  I do not feel like being entertained, gazing into the abyss or even talking for that matter.  I had hoped to say something here that would matter, give someone some bit of hope to hang on to, some word they share with their family, something.  I'm not sure what that something could be.  Right now I just want to be with someone, someone who does pray.  Someone not to talk with, but to seek some peace with, someone to our hearts with, someone to cry with, someone who care, a stranger preferably.  Why?  Because these days it seems everyone is a stranger.  We all walk around in our private little worlds, with our private angers, hopes and fears,  It takes a disaster, a 9/11, a Columbine, and now a Newtowne, Connecticut to knock down these walls we surround ourselves with.  So what am I going to do?  I'm going to walk.  I'm going to look into the faces of these strangers, into their eyes and see whatever kind of pain is there and acknowledge it.  I don't need to know what it is, I just want them to know that I care and that maybe they care to.  Maybe they can take that home to their loved ones.

Children will never understand something like this.  Till now, I guess they never had to.  My hope is that parents all over this city will turn off their TVs, their radios, their computer and sit with their little one, pray with them, read to them or just hold them.  There will be time enough in their lives to deal with horror, but this is not that time.  Let them wait five, ten, twenty years to learn about hate and evil. Let them learn now that they are loved and protected and that as long as you are there, nothing will ever harm them.  This may not be true, but they don't need to know that, yet.

The politicians and pundits are already all over this. I can't listen to them.  I can't stand it and I won't stand for it.  This is not that time.  God knows we'll have plenty of time in the days to come.  In the mean time, if you have any prayers left, say one for me.  I'll be going for a walk and thinking about you.

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