“My Stance on Confederate Monuments”

I love history…..and unlikely as it may seem, battle history. As a little girl, I would sneak into my big brothers’ bookshelf and borrow the myriad of books about World Wars and soldiers’ memoirs and pilots’ remembrances.

I had to have a Junior High school report on the Civil War signed by my parent because the teacher said it was too detailed. She said it was A worthy but couldn’t give me one because I didn’t follow directions and my elaborations about troop movements and positions were above and beyond what was required.

I love history. I have always defended the beautiful, artistic renderings of Generals and explorers and historic figures.

But these past months, a sorrowful realization that too many look upon such statues with hate in their eyes and hearts has enveloped me. So many wave one “Confederate” flag, never learning there were others, displaying it for reasons and events I don’t really understand. ………. I love the stories of history………both sides to the story. So many don’t know both sides and faces of history and those who contributed to our country.

I always felt removing certain fixtures would further remove knowledge and respect for those who gave their lives under fire. But I have come to realize most who respect and educate themselves will gladly visit museums and Battlefield Parks to view this history come to life in bronze and stone and artifacts.

I don’t want to see these statues destroyed; I want to see them preserved in a place of history for generations who follow……….. I want our history books to not erase, but to expound on all sides of the stories………I want stories of black Civil War soldiers and their bravery, Japanese American troops who fought with valiancy, and Tuskegee airmen who flew the flag with honor told……….

I want American literature preserved. All stories must be told……..even those we might not like to revisit upon the page.

I own a farmhouse in Gettysburg, a historic one. I want this land to remain the hallowed ground it is……..with respect to all who lost their lives upon its fields.

Shirl Knobloch

Author Reenactments from My Heart: Spiritual and Supernatural Civil War Fiction and Poetry

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“My Paintings”

Gettysburg Paintings

Paintings from world travels

Landscapes

Custom Pet Portraits

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“This Memorial Day”

This Memorial Day will be a somber one for most. No holiday weekend drive to the beach, no big family picnic with hot dogs and hamburgers gracing a paper red, white, and blue tablecloth.

Each year, we bring out the flags and patriotic memes and listen to Greenwood singing, “I’m Proud to be an American”……..


But then June rolls around and what has changed…………Veterans are still suffering disabling health problems and PTSD. If lucky, some wind up in institutions, if not, many wind up on the pavement.

And now those very institutions who offered shelter, offer death from another bullet.

We have treated our veterans so badly in my lifetime…… I was around when Vietnam Vets came home to heckles instead of reverence.

We speak of disparity in our nation each day now due to this virus. But what about the disparity in our military……..Nothing new. Back in Civil War days, the wealthy could buy their way out of service……

Now, a lot of poor or minority kids see the military as a way to escape from impoverishment……a way to get an education……a way to make a life. But that life might be cut short in one unlucky instant or so badly changed by traumatic brain injury or missing limbs that life as it was will never return.

What has changed……really? High powered men sit in a safe spot and play God with the lives of those willing to fight……….We hope for noble reasons………we are told for noble reasons…….but then, we realize the truth is often clouded.

I have a home in Gettysburg. There are days when I still wonder if all those deaths really accomplished something…….. Our union seems to be in a state of disrepair, today, almost two centuries after.

But, we will wave our flags and shoot off our fireworks and eat our hot dogs and hamburgers……….well, maybe next year……..if this war against a virus is won.

And that, unquestionably, will be a noble cause………..

But there will be many missing from the parties……..some taken by the virus, some by suicide, some by disease……and some, by ever present war.

Stay safe.

Shirl

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“Sometimes, a Spirit has to “Nudge” You”

If you read my memoir, “The Returning Ones,” I tell the story of how, 7 years ago, at a place purported to be the world’s most haunted, my friend came to say goodbye.

It was Leap Castle.   I won’t tell the whole story here, but as I was roaming across Eire, unbenounced to me, she was at home, dying.

That was almost 7 years ago to the day……..May 9th, 2013.   This morning, at breakfast, suddenly all the memories of that day in Ireland came flooding back.   Then, I realized, it was the anniversary of her crossing.   No doubt, this time she came to say hello.

I am getting stir crazy……..tired of staying shut in.   I think most are at the point where they wonder how long they are able to sustain this quarantine ritual.   Each day is the same, each momentous occurrence marked by mealtime, then bedtime…….Then the next day begins again.

I am lucky…….I paint, I write this blog, I knit.  I wonder about those who have no creative outlet.   But still, I was in a self pitying mood this morning.

It took a little spirit nudge to set me straight.  You see, my friend died from ALS.   What she would have given for days that were the same……..not bringing more weakness to her physical form.

First, it was the wheelchair…….then the bed…….then the soft food when swallowing was an Olympian sport…..

Then finally,  when words no longer passed from her lips, a smiley face inked on her hands to show her strength and resilience to her daughter as she cared for her as a mother for a child.

I felt pretty stupid this morning…..pitying myself because I was tired of ordinary days.  A great number of people now cannot sit at home….with their children, their pets.   There are no more mealtimes for them…….no more words to write, or pictures to paint, or scarves to knit.

Thank you Janet……… I needed that hello and that nudge back to how lucky I am.

I wanted to share a couple of my latest paintings.  The first shows a painting of one of my favorite monuments on the Gettysburg National Park.   It is an Irish Wolfhound, in tribute to the Irish Brigade who fought during the battle, covered in snow.

irish wolfhound painting

Keep safe, stay well,

Shirl

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“How We Are All Going Through the Stages of Grief Now”

I think quarantine is very much like grief.   I wrote a book about grief…..grief over the loss of four dogs within a very short period of time. …:My Ten Legged Journey.   It chronicled my journey, anticipating grief, enduring it, and coming out the brighter end of the tunnel…….not unscathed, but touched by all the emotions of the human psyche.

Quarantine is like this………..first, there is shock……..Shock at how something like this could be happening.   Disbelief that people are well one day……on a ventilator, dying, the next.

Next comes the anger………..Who to blame.   The Chinese, the bats, the World Health Organization, the President?

Then, comes the depression.   The feeling that all is lost…..life is not the same……there is not happiness in a sunny day, when your heart is filled with dark clouds.

Then, finally, hopefully, the acceptance.   That life does go on……though changed.   That the sun still shines, the breeze brings fresh spring air…….though breathed through face masks.

Yes, quarantine is so very much like grief.   People always ask, “when will this grief end”…….much like “when will this pandemic be over?”

I think like grief, the virus will linger.   It will resurge in unexpected places…….like grief sometimes sneaks up upon us…..

That is just part of life…………………..

 

Keep Well,

Shirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Fifty Years”

Fifty years ago……….I saw the news reports……..I saw her lying on the ground in the photo…

I saw, but couldn’t truly feel the pain…….the anguish.   It was another place, another world, not mine……I was young and about to venture out into my own world and future.

I watched the killings……..I watched the Vietnam War on television………but always with a shielded eye…….looking into another world……….someone else’s world………..someone else’s grief and dying.

I think the only thing that unclouds those shielded eyes is ironically, when clouds of age, start to cover them…

Now, I look at the photo of that young girl, dead on the ground, and think of the sorrow in her parents’ hearts……….think of all the time she of which she was robbed…….think of the senselessness of such an action.

Time has a way of doing that………filling the bright blue skies of hope and optimism with the clouds of reality.

Now, I am the parent who worries for her children and grandchildren in this world.  Now, I am the elder who understands that wars will always come…..it will take more than protest signs to end them……..hopefully, not obliteration of civilization.

Now, I am the elder who watches the TV with fear of pandemic……..while youth go about with clear eyes and clear heads to the dangers……….

Two years ago, I attended a David Crosby concert in Gettysburg.   Most of us in the audience had greying hair, some had canes, some had wheelchairs.   When those familiar chords echoed in the theatre………the grey hairs were gone, the cloudy eyes were clearer, we all started singing along with him.   It was a memorable moment.  A moment when a bunch of aging hippies, 60’s love children, became kids again.   But kids with wisdom, sorrow, fear, and life experiences that made the song more poignant that any FM radio or vinyl record could ever have done.

Time……….

It should teach…………………….Holding a tiny baby dove of peace in my hands.

New Life 4

Keep well,

Shirl

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“What you Carry”

“What you Carry” 

Shirl Knobloch  ©

I watch them 

Angry throngs

Swastikas, Confederate Flags, Guns

Carried in their arms

Eons ago

It might have been a club

Centuries ago

It might have been a torch

Generations ago

It might have been a noose

Throngs

Angry throngs

Hunting for a woolly mammoth

Hunting for a witch

Hunting for a Black or Jew or Southern Man

What has changed

What you carry in your arms

You carry in your heart………………………………………………..

 

Keep Well,

Shirl

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“How Covid has Changed Us”

Covid has entered all of us, whether we realize it or not.   It might not have entered physically, but is has entered emotionally….It has sought out the hidden recesses of our brains and altered them, or rekindled nerve connections long ago buried in the tissues of memory.

Covid has changed my dreams.   My dreams are very different now…….and usually not pleasant.   I seem to be always on the run from something, in a race against time or terror.

For me, I think I had a flash of PTSD the other day.   As I kid, I encountered a time of great fear and anxiety.   I lived during the Newark riots, tanks and jeeps and National Guard soldiers changed the “normal” of my days.   I thought I had lost that fear…….fear of neighbors……..fear of friends turning their heads away in anger…..not greetings.

I was at my front door enjoying the birds and squirrels when the mail truck pulled up.   A pang of fear coursed through me…….I couldn’t shut the door fast enough.   It was that fear…….long ago buried, that so filled my being again.

Who can say the ramifications of this fear and anxiety on children today…….will dreams of monsters in masks fill their nights…..Who can say the ramifications on ordinary citizens…..let alone all the health care workers who witness so many deaths.  We have already read of tragic suicides among them.

Will walking down the street after a parent’s hand pulls them away from a passing stranger instill that fear within our children today?……

Covid has entered all of us……..changed us in ways that fester and grow a different type of disease……..fear.

Keep well,

Shirl

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“Getting Old Sucks, Covid and other Stories”

Well, I have disproved one fallacy within which I had placed expectations…..no, it is not mascara that thins out your lashes.   I had lush lashes as a kid and young woman…..others thought I had on mascara when I didn’t.   Then, I started wearing mascara.   Through the years, my lashes grew sparser.   I blamed the makeup.   Now, after a few months of not wearing any, I expected a forest of black strands to reappear.   They haven’t………..I guess it’s just age……   😦

A few days ago, I read on a social media page that a guy  ( I will say guy, because kid sounds stupid and man sounds even worse)  I went to high school with had died.  About 30 years ago, I met up with him again.  He asked if I’d written any books yet……..That journey yet awaited.

Sadly, my age is in the risk group for Covid….the not so spring chicken group.

But then I see young adults, marathon runners, body builders, succumb to this monster.  The last time I ran anywhere………well, maybe when my lashes were that forest, not the sparse saplings that now shield my ever weakening eyes……That fallacy of the print getting smaller is a hard one to believe…….

I see old people…….(it helps to put them in that category………”old people”………it widens the gap between them and me)………perishing like old produce in a supermarket aisle that seems like a minefield now.

And I wonder………maybe it’s that state in between…that grace period.   When you are not quite yet decrepit, as young people so often believe……….and not quite the spring chicken you once were………  Maybe it’s that state of half-decrepitude that offers a hope of protection against this monster……..  I cling to that fallacy…….it gives hope.

 

Keep Well,

Shirl

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“The Dangers of Isolation”

We are all warned of the emotional danger of isolation and solitude for some; I wonder if any have pondered the thoughts that I have wondered on these past weeks…….

My mom used to say…..you have to eat a pound of dirt.   Now, she didn’t actually mean go out in the yard and dig some dirt for your meal.   What she was saying was that some germs and bacteria need to be dealt with for your body to strengthen…but eat a pound of dirt sufficed.

Never before have I gone about my home disinfecting doorknobs, faucets, telephones, keyboards, and counters……….as if surgery were to be performed on the surface.   My hands show the cracks of washing, and washing, and washing, and washing.

Are we keeping too much away in order to keep this virus away……Are we so weakening our defenses that when we set foot out and about (amidst the dirt)……all will be waiting.

When my children were well into middle and high school, I took a job again with pre- school and kindergarten aged children.   Along with my paycheck, came bouts of colds and strep throat.   Why?   Because I hadn’t been amidst the dirt in a while.   My body had weakened its defense against the dirt.   Good if you are able to remain in a pristine, dirt free environment………Not so good when you venture out into the grime again.

Along with the force field of social deprivation………are we putting up force fields that may hurt us in the long run……………

I wonder……….. There is no good answer.   Keep the door shut tightly and your cat will longingly sit in wait…….Open it and she will find freedom, but also find whatever lurks outside, in the dirt.

Keep Well,

Shirl

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