RE: A Book by Charlene Azam

1197 words posted 12/8/2014

I believe most Americans agree that as a society we are totally overboard in our commercial activity, have been for decades.  The author indicates  the desire for commercial goods has a whole new low and it is shocking.  Too worrisome for me to mention on my social media space, hence only the announcement of “another post on my blog….”  I’m sure today’s kids could care less about going to read my rants!

We have tons of expensive “product” pushed at us on television.   Advertisers lie by omission as well as about quality. They often are untruthful about product components (which often only support their need for higher sales price)  and most deliberately fabricate possible results. (A good example of this deceit is in beauty products for females.)

There is an old adage “seeing is believing” which until the last few decades was construed  if one can SEE something, one can BELIEVE it is true.   Children see this all the time on television; now as non-adults they do believe what they see, what they hear, and especially if product or service will make them popular.

Children are growing up  with an incredible desire for product, and as they become desirous for product, they may well have little or no access to funds. If they are to afford their treasured Brands, Labels and Symbols they need big money and the quickest way to get money has always been the most dangerous and destrutive way, which remains the cruelest human activity:  taking advantage of the desperate;  desperate girls.

According to Canadian author Charlene Azam, the most vulnerable species of our times other than little tots  now appears to be our pubescent and post-pubescent teenage girls.

Her research is in her native and neighboring Canada, but we have no guarantee that this practice is not a part of our society as well. I fear we may be overlooking a similar attack on our own young girls with their cravings for being cool and accepted in a world that worries about who is and who is not enjoying The Good Life.

I’m a mom and a grandmother.   I have battled and paddled with my tweens and teens as they navigate the rapids to adulthood, watching, asking questions, paying attention when a gang was at my house, surreptitiously listening to what they were joking about in my presence to get my clues. These young humans cannot resist winking and giggling at each other as they talk about “secrets” in front of parents. I know from my own teen experience, when I believed parents were basically crabby and a few biscuits short of a dozen in the brain pile.

My kids survived, married, and had children of their own. And, both have children in the danger years when kids want to be like other kids:  conform and just do anything to be popular.

I intend to read Ms. Azam’s brave book, although the prospect makes even my stomach turn. I wanted to get the word out quickly and publicly, but not spilled out via social media. I know I have young ones looking at my social media site and I feel it is dangerous.  And I am concerned about whether or not, this kind of Good Night Kiss is already the norm in our country!   I’m hoping mothers, fathers and extended families will be looking after and watching over their young women, checking in with them.

Families! Think in term the old fashioned “Round Table for Dinner” even if pizza is involved. as it is an institution that needs to be re-installed and treasured once again at home. Bring up important subjects like safety, health and family values while they can be dealt openly and with honestly in the early years, between 1 and 10. Children absorb easily, and when so very young they are at their most vulnerable to be fooled, especially by peers.

The good news is that it’s never too early nor too late to arm our children with information about personal behavior; likewise, to help them understand the fickle, foolish, and dangerous commercial world they most likely will inherit.  If you wish to read more the author’s site is below.


Categories: Peer Pressure | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment


I recently found those places in my youth

Where I knew pain, anger, terror and violence

That I had to forget decades ago and just

March on with my hopes of a kinder, gentler world.

I’m still on the lookout for Fairy Dust and Miracles!

I find them still in stray animals, small children,

The occasional adult with a sensitive heart.

We can get what we need, if we pay attention.

And despite what my teachers said about me

I paid a lot of attention!

My Big Brother Bill played alternate roles of

Tormentor and Protector in my early years.

He hated having to protect me and he never ever failed.

Our father came for visits, took us to the shooting range

For target practice with his friend and son.

My Dad taught me to plant my feet for steadiness;

To line up the site with my target;

To take a deep breath, exhaling slowly as I squeeze the trigger.

I still do.

Melanie Alcorn Wood

16 Nov. 2014

Categories: father | Tags: | Leave a comment

My Fellow American


It is a bitter cold day.

His unshaved face is hunched over a grocery cart

Filled with plastic and tin and clothing;

And his eyes are fixed

On disappearing sidewalk.

I pull my car over , and call out “Pops!”

He stops and stares and I see he is of my generation.

I pull a twenty from my wallet,

“How ‘about a cuppa Joe, Joe?”

His eyes light up as he barely

reaches through the window,

Promising he won’t hurt me.

I sigh and shove a bill at him.

He takes it gratefully, and then

He spots the mistake:

With tearful eyes he tries to correct

The error I never made.

“Uh, this is a Jackson, Miss,”

And tries to hand it back.

“No mistake Bud. So get yourself

A piece of pie too, huh.?”

Tears stream,

He makes a sound

Like laughter.

I honk I wave I drive away.

In my rear-view window

He stands tall

He shakes his head and smiles.

For a moment he is a man with a mission.

Melanie Alcorn 8/NOV/2014

Categories: Supporting Our People | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Paved roads are usually too dangerous.

Better to drive on hard-pack-sand.

I drive the Sahara with Babies on Board:

Daughter’s first day in first grade

Little brother goes along for the ride.

No horizons here: just shades of gritty yellow

endless yellows: sand melts into sky

Until this unseen sun that cannot cast shadows

Disappears and Night falls with the

Deep blue velvet of a Christmas Card Sky.

On this no-road “track” at 6:00 AM, it’s hot already.

School starts at 6:30 no worries. I charge on.

What’s wrong with the steering! Oh no!

From the boot I pull my jack and

A lug nut “thingie” which I call a star.

Oh no! I can’t jack the rear tire up!

I’ve lost too much weight! What?

Can’t eat here: too hot.

Now I can’t save my babies!


Four bearded men on donkey-back ride silently from behind.

They come to me in gellabias and turbans,

Speaking British English.

They bow when they dismount.

I turn my star over to them.

I see they know what to do.

Two men take turns turning;

Two men make shade

With a donkey blanket.

They stand tall and hold it

Above the rear doors to shade my children.

Arms straight in the air for as long as it takes!

They are the protectors of my little ones.

One wants to give them water

And the shouting begins!

Khawaji have to be careful with water!

They hurry and finish the job

So I offend them with a monetary gift.

“No Madam, in the desert it is our duty

To care for each other,” he smiles.

I’m embarrassed, I’m a fool, I apologize.

“No Madam, malesh!” he smiles again:

The easy generosity of the Desert Arab.

I bow my head. I bless them as they ride off,

Little donkey butts in the distance

With an uncertain horizon.

Melanie Wood 10/7/2014

Categories: Life Overseas | Tags: | Leave a comment

The Un-Intended Spirit


He came to Earth an un-intended Spirit, this boy of bright eyes, gentle heart and quick imagination.

He was reared in fear by his young Motherling, she had not yet grown into womanhood.

The King and Queen long before gave each other up and lived in separate castles.

Eventually he found another woman, who was to become the King’s Consort.

She was kept a dark secret.

Young and burdened by a laundry list only a perfectionist could concoct,

Teenage Princess had little experience but for recalling days gone by:

her long ago childhood ten thousand miles away when she really played Sister Princess,

in the family five-some of King and Queen, Brother Prince; and the Dowager Dog named Sonja.

King lured his royal offspring to his home citing loneliness, promising chariots of their own, and worldwide travel.

Instead he brought his unmentioned Consort to his castle.

The King’s young Royals dubbed her RatFace.

Things were not well when it became known an un-intended Spirit was eminent!

The King was off tending his lands, collecting his tithes:

Left an important decision to be made by The King’s Consort.

And she, in her religious fervor, refused an un-intended Spirit to her castle!

When the Queen opened her own castle door at the rap rap rap, she said

But of course, my dear, your room shall a Nursery be!

The only condition: Acquisition of Knowledge, it is Life’s only key.

So young, so foolishly in love, Princess fell away from Promise and Queen faced a sad decision.

Deceit is intolerable. Lessons must be learned. Queen broke her own heart in favor of  lesson:

She entrusted her Princess and the bright-eyed boy to Old Family Friends, (who had drifted!)

On her one visit, she arranged at once for their return to her Castle: to the room still called Nursery.

Home again, the Little Prince traveled with The Queen to appointments throughout the land;

And his mother acquired work. She did well by saving her wealth for the day she could break away.

She got a castle of her own.

Staightaway she met her Handsome King, and quickly became his Queen.

With her young Prince, and his young Princess, they married, lived happily, with a big hearted dog of their own.

Then the teen years of The Little Prince,

Older now, but being still young, and foolish: he found the path to Young and Foolish Ways.

There he found knowledge: his awareness of strength, the fickleness of promise.

He learned how to keep his heart kind and his eyes clear, to now watch over the Young Princess.

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment


History, that pile of dirt
First swept clean then
Deliberately mangled
Presented as truth.
We believe we know
Who we are until
The stranger comes to
Drop her bomb.
Now sift through debris
Of that which never was
Find a nugget of gold
Just one nugget
That is all I need.

M. Alcorn Wood
1 Sept 2014

Categories: Family Secrets | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Swiss History & Maybe Yours

I thought it was pretty cool when I ran my paternal Great Grandfather’s Bollinger line and bumped into a guy named “Clewi” and his sons, “Clewi Jr.” & Conrad back in the middle 14th C. Nosey, as usual, I did a little research to see why Clewi Sr. and Clewi Jr. and Conrad died around the same time. I found there was a plague that rolled through that area, as well as a war. It could have been either one, or perhaps both.
The next thing I discovered that a few centuries later was one of the Bollinger Boys married Miss Sarah Hahn, of the Hahn family that travelled with Bollingers first from Switzerland to North Carolina, then to Missouri, then finally to God’s Country known as the Greater Bay Area of California, (while it still belonged to Spain).
The families settled in the Contra Costa Area and became successful ranchers with many children. Sarah was a daughter of Abraham Hahn Sr. GGF Abraham Hahn is the connection of the Bollinger family to Martin Luther, Reformer, as his daughter Sarah married Adam Joseph Bollinger. The families pioneered land that Indians used to share with everyone. We now know it as the Alamo and Danville area in Contra Costa County, California
That gets us pretty close to my getting in the picture a 4 or 5 generations later, but I have to say those Swiss people had quite a history and I am yet again disappointed that I could not follow my dream of becoming an Anthropologist.
Charlemagne ruled from Switzerland, a piece of real estate that over the centuries was occupied at different times by Helvetians, and Romans; Franks, (Clewie and his sons,) and other peoples with difficult names playing the part of “Lake Men” which will be discussed later.
Charlemagne ruled and Charles the Bold waged battle, and dominant families focused on marrying off their children to gain political power. One such political family was called Hapsburg. (No relation to me. Perhaps a neighbor.)
I’m interested in history, but I get really caught up the ancient stories, the ways of life, much more than who, what and where somebody with my blood lived, died, did something, or was beheaded. Yes, I’ve found one beheading, and banishment for that matter – both ancestors lived in the UK – yikes! Those Brits know how to have fun…
These days I am very curious about Switzerland. I had lunch there once, and caught an older woman’s head before it hit the sidewalk as she skidded on icy sidewalk near Lake Como. I couldn’t keep her from falling on her rear end, but she was very appreciative, in an embarrassed way, all wrapped in her furs and sporting her diamonds.
My Bollinger boys, descendants of Martin Luther all made a lot of money by preaching in their reformed churches both in Zurich and in the area in Switzerland called Pfaffikon.

Pfaffikon! It may sound like something you could buy in a movie theater, but….. in Pfaffikon, there is evidence of settlements dating back to prehistoric times: 3,000 BC! I’m glad I wasn’t born then – OR maybe I was: prehistoric in Switzerland must be pretty darned cold; could that be why I much prefer desert heat.
Well it was way long before those fun-loving pillagers from Scandinavia plowed through Europe, stealing, plundering and hacking their bloody way to the British Isles.
My Swiss ancestors built homes on pilings in lakes, since forever! It might be a little bit like how the skyscrapers in New Orleans rest on cotton bales that were (and still are) sunk in water.
Archaeologists have evidence of three different levels of construction in Pfaffikon, the deepest of which dates back to the Stone Age.
This sorry failure of an archaeologist/anthropologist finds it all mind-boggling. So, what have I learned about all this? Well, I now believe I know why I absolutely hate, cannot tolerate, and at all times insure that I have a jacket, some long johns, mittens and a hat either on my person or in the trunk of my ride!
But while I looked through paperwork (online), finding sour-faced portraits of my stiff Swiss ancestors, it is quite clear that they all hated cold weather like me! These Swiss ancestors put the ice in my veins!
Here’s a good one: Search for Martin Luther’s letter to his dying mom: a little stiff, a lot preachy and really long. (She may have died from boredom!)
Since I was pre-teen I have considered myself as belonging to no sect, to no cult. My mom put my brother and me in an Episcopalian environment. I don’t know where that came from. It ended abruptly when I caught a maven of our hallowed church deliberately spreading negative gossip that I knew was fabricated! I figured any god would rather have me on my own rather than me in the company of those who proudly sit smirking in church on Sunday, and live a hard-hearted lifestyle for the next six days.
Given that, it came as a bit of a surprise that I’m a direct descendant of Martin Luther, the Swiss reformer, on my GGF’s Swiss line!
I was surprised I am largely Swiss: I hate to be cold and cheese binds me up. So, given my personal preferences, I’m sure that while My GG Father Martin was sincere, and his mother appreciative of his message, it’s all a tad bit churchy for my taste.
You see, I’m pretty certain that when I was with my mother at her death I just said “I love you Mom and always will” and let her get on with things.
It took my GGGGF Martin TWELVE paragraphs to say to his mum what I said in 7 words! Who knows: maybe he was paid per word.
Finally, here is the link to THE LAKE PEOPLE (plus many other early histories)
Information above was gleaned from Gutenberg.org where they have a lot of interesting historical information on many parts of the world. M. Wood. 2014http://www.gutenberg.org/files/39695/39695-h/39695-h.htm#Page_1

(More info on the Lake People: if you use the following information please honor the request of the author, Armando Mombelli and the posted rules of swissinfo. Melanie Wood 25 Aug 2014)

Rediscovering the legend of the lake dwellers, swissinfo, by Armando Mombelli
One hundred and fifty years ago, the first settlements of ancient lake-dwelling peoples emerged from Lake Zurich. The discovery gave Europeans a new insight into the lives of their distant ancestors.
This year, around 20 Swiss museums are organising exhibitions dedicated to this significant chapter in Swiss history.
In the winter of 1854, the commune of Meilen took advantage of exceptionally low water levels to start building a harbour on the shore of Lake Zurich.
Quite by chance, the excavations unearthed a number of odd-looking, superbly preserved ancient artefacts, and a series of wooden poles embedded in the mud. The diggers had found a prehistoric lake village.
Ferdinand Keller, a Zurich scholar, put forward a theory that the people here had lived in villages built on platforms above the water which were connected by bridges and walkways.
After the discovery of similar settlements on other Swiss lakes, the legend of the lake dwellers was born. Soon, it had fired Europe’s imagination. Articles in the press, exhibitions, historical paintings, novels, public events, calendars and schoolbooks fuelled the legend of the lake dwellers.
In subsequent decades, hundreds of lake villages were discovered – especially in the Alpine Arc from France to Slovenia, though similar settlements were also found in several other parts of Europe.
In recent decades, modern scientific analysis and dating techniques have revealed that the villages were rather less exotic than our 19th-century ancestors had believed.
Today, specialists prefer to talk about “lake peoples” who built their settlements at different times from 4300 to 800 BC.
The settlements were actually built on land, usually in marshy areas. At the time, the water level in the lakes was much lower than it is today, and varied from year to year.
Nor were there any platforms. There were only individual, wooden houses standing apart from one another. And the hundreds of poles sunk into the ground date from different periods.
“Even today, however, the Meilen discovery is still considered a watershed for European archaeology,” explains Marc-Antoine Kaeser, curator of the exhibition organised in Zurich by the Swiss National Museum to commemorate the anniversary of the find.
Symbols of death
“Until then, the archaeological investigation of prehistory had brought to light almost nothing except symbols of death, such as graves, weapons and military sites. The lake villages and the objects they yielded provided the first evidence that enabled scholars to understand how our ancestors lived.”
Above all, the lake-dweller finds opened up a new historic vision of Switzerland, as it did for other European countries. Suddenly, history no longer began with the Romans.
“The lake settlements demonstrated the existence of skilled, intelligent peoples before the Roman occupation. In short, they gave the people of Switzerland a new consciousness of their own origins,” Marc-Antoine Kaeser points out.
For politicians, more than a century ago, the legend of the lake dwellers was an ideal tool to bind together a still-fragile nation, formed as recently as 1848, and to forge a common identity among Switzerland’s disparate peoples and cultures.
It was no coincidence that in 1867, the Swiss government commissioned the artist Auguste Bachelin to paint a Bronze Age lake village that would represent Switzerland at the Paris Exposition Universelle.
The archaeological success of the lake dwellers had a lot to do with the incredibly high quality of the finds. This is clearly evident from the exhibition at the Swiss National Museum, where 150 objects from Swiss lakes are on display.
Contrary to popular belief, water conserves materials perfectly provided they are kept out of contact with the air. This was the case with the Meilen finds, which were buried under layers of lakeside mud or sand.
“Generally, archaeologists are left with objects made of metal, stone, terracotta or glass from which to interpret the past”, notes Marc-Antoine Kaeser.
“But the lake-dweller finds include various organic materials. There are wooden objects, and even hazelnuts, dried apples, spices or carved resins that help us understand the life and dietary habits of these peoples.”
On the 150th anniversary of the Meilen discovery, Swiss archaeologists are warning that the growing urbanisation of the lakeshore, and above all pollution, are destroying in a few short decades a priceless heritage that had survived for thousands of years.
Countless objects remain hidden under the lakeshore – a literal treasure trove of information about our history.
One question still to be answered is why the lake dwellers choose to live in these muddy, damp environments.
The Zurich exhibition has no answer. But that is not the objective, explains Marc-Antoine Kaeser.
“With the events scheduled this year all around Switzerland, we want to revive the ‘lake-dweller fever’. We want to show that the archaeological reality is just as fascinating as the fictitious worlds that for decades were constructed around the lake peoples ”.

By swissinfo, Armando Mombelli


Categories: Family History | Leave a comment



Hear the solar winds
That shhhhhhsh and howl,
Sing like the whale
On Uranus and Jupiter,
On Neptune and Saturn!
Saturn’s rings ring in the ether,
Blowing slow on earth’s
Weak cries of sadness or of hope.
Uranus: fired with wind,
Intensifies .
Miranda whispers please?
Earth moans and groansm and wishes weakly.


Melanie Wood, 7/31/2014


Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Someone built a replica of a killing machine.
Someone gave it to a boy about fourteen.
Fourteen’s brain needs
twelve more years for maturation,
Decision making!
Fourteen decided
To show off his fake killing machine:
After all, fourteen is fourteen.
Fourteen approached school
Thought he looked cool
But he was killed by a cop
Who was putting a stop
To a 75th American School slaughter!
A cop who saw danger
In more youthful anger.
Who put his life on the line
To do blood time.
The world lost a boy who was given a toy.
Melanie Wood 14 July 2014

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment


She was standing at an intersection, facing west as I strode east. Indecision marked her face, speaking long before her words.

“Pardon me, can you tell me which direction is the University?”

I surprised myself by inviting her to walk with me to the beautiful University Gardens.

The morning air warmed rapidly, pungent with tar weed and anticipation as we walked and talked our way down the Expressway.  We crossed Petaluma Hill Road so we could safely see the racing squads of oncoming autos exhausting their way to work.

She was a woman from the Southland, wishing to move north, nearer to memories of Sonoma State University from a quarter century before.  But Mother is aging fast and daughter will soon give birth: she felt at a crossroads as we reached our intersection.

The view to the East is breathtaking from “Pet Hill” Road, golden fields dotted with ancient blue-green oaks, lying fallow, unfarmed and waiting to be sentenced to future subdivisions.  

on that day all we only saw sunlit hills and the bright green trees, and I listened to her talk, asking questions here and there. She stretched to hear what she had to say about divorce, bad choices: life’s struggles, her hopes and dreams.

We cut into the campus, passed silent tennis courts on our way to the creek side nature trail where we dipped our toes in cold-running wonderful, and plucked sometimes ripe blackberries staining our fingers, clothing and lips.

She wanted to see the lakes and those ducks, before she returned to San Diego that evening, and on the way there I showed her the Bird and Butterfly Garden and the Burbank Native Plant Garden, both graced by platoons of bright white poppies nearly five feet tall, big as dinner plates with yolk-orange stamens: The Burbank Poppy, and they bowed their heads as we passed.

By the lakes I found a half shell from a finch hatchling. Impulsively, I gave it to her as a reminder of the little bird that shed its shell before it learned to fly.

She asked about me and I was finally able to answer that question in brief, concise words all that I was at that moment.

She became quiet, and then shyly asked me if I was an angel.  

I laughed, saying I’d been called many nouns in my life, but no, I was no angel.

I led her back to Snyder Lane and pointed to her intersection two blocks west.

We hugged goodbye, exchanging names, not numbers.

I turned south and headed home.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com.