Friday, November 11, 2011

Many Serve Who Were Never Called

I know that I have been really scarce of late. But, my creative juices have not had much inspiration for a while. Yesterday was the first day I felt reasonably well since my chemo last week, but I had a rough night last night. Sleep would not replace all my wayward thoughts. Not sure if Veterans Day or my own mortality was the catalyst, but I’ve spent the wee hours of this morning trying to give you the cliff-notes, lengthy though they be.

Growing up in the first wave of the baby boomers I, like most of my generation, grew up watching GI movies. Everything from Gary Cooper in Sergeant York to the heroics of John Wayne in Sands of Iwo Jima.

My father's boot camp graduation 1941

I also spent a lot of time listing to the war stories told around our kitchen table. First, it was WWll tales told by my father and older uncles and all their friends. Then, it was the Koran War stories brought home by older cousins, neighbors and family friends. Followed by the Vietnam discussions of my brother, brother-in-laws and so very many friends. In between were the peacetime tales of every male who was ever drafted or enlisted.

the Old Salt when he was sworn in as a CW03 in 1982

Finally, I married a thirty-year Navy man with countless stories. An “Old Salt” who served in conflicts from Vietnam to the Gulf war and whose son has been in Iraq and Afghanistan for five years now. I have a great-niece who just returned from Iraq, and several young relatives currently serving around the world. Among our friends are numerous veterans or their surviving families. One dear lady friend never recovered from the loss of her fiancĂ©e. He is still listed MIA from Vietnam. And, three dear souls in their nineties, one of whom served as a young sailor on the battleship South Dakota, another gentleman who spent so much time in the Philippines without R&R that his clothes actually rotted off his back. And finally, a delightful lady whose first husband was killed on Iwo Jima leaving her with a baby to raise. After the war she married another survivor of Iwo Jima. A career Marine with two small children. They spent decades moving their family, every few years, from one post to another; often surviving on a pauper’s budget in the days before decent wages came to those who served. She is now planning for the day when she will be buried between her two Marines.

The Old Salt checking out our friend Norman's record
of service during WW2 in the Philippines.

I may not have done any military service but I have certainly been affected by how serving impacted my family and friends. I doubt my life is all that different from yours; if, like me, you lived through war and peacetime events as seen through the eyes of those who were there and lived to gather around your kitchen table.

Most of the military men I know say that today we should be honoring those who paid the ultimate price for their service and not them. But, I disagree. Despite all the veteran talk that has taken place around our kitchen table, sometimes the silence of what wasn’t said was actually the loudest sound in the room. It can’t be denied that any person male or female who spent even one enlistment in the service of Uncle Sam often comes home a changed person and not always for the better. So, yes, each and every one deserves to be honored today. But not just our Veterans. We should be honoring every spouse and family member whose life has changed, sometimes irrevocably, because of their loved one’s service to this country as well.

Photo of my cousin George during the Korean War
taken at his funeral in 2010

The world needs to know about the nightmares that never end. They need to understand how the unseen injuries like hearing loss, caused by explosions and gunfire, changed the life and livelihood of not only the veteran but also his wife and children. The nights family members spend pacing because their loved one’s injuries whether physical or emotional has them suffering in pain or torment.

My cousin James currently serving in Afghanistan

My Great-niece Jenny who just left Afghanistan

All our Veterans deserve every parade, ceremony and honor that can be bestowed on them today. But, shouldn’t we be also finding ways to honor all those family members that served along with them and continue to lovingly care and share the consequences long after their service is over.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Puzzling Signs

Its Thursday. That means it is time to share our sign shots. This week I have a couple that made me scratch my head in wonder.

Passed this horse trailer on the highway a few weeks ago. Made no sense until I googled the phrase. Now I may understand the meaning but still have to question why anyone would want to paint it on their trailer.

Found this sign hanging over the side door of a coffee shop in Santa Fe, NM. That was three years ago and I still can't get my head around the name. Why would someone choose this for their business?

I am linking this post to Signs, Signs hosted by Lesley of Southern Ontario, discovered . To check out what interesting signs others have posted this week click here.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Labor Monument under Water

Sorry for the long absence. I have been out of town and away from a computer. While I enjoyed all our travels this summer I must admit that I am sick of weather related problems. We have made three long trip this summer to different parts of the country and have encountered flood waters, tornado damage or both everywhere we've been. In May when we traveled to Alabama we went through all the flooding in Southeast Missouri and Kentucky and the tornado damage in Tuscaloosa Al and Pine Mountain Georgia . During our trip to Texas in June we traveled through all the tornado damage in Joplin Missouri. During this trip to Omaha Nebraska we encountered flooding in northwestern Missouri and Iowa that had parts of the interstate highway closed adding hours to the trip with long detours into the countryside.
Unveiled in 2003, the monument features four men and one woman toiling at their work. The design of local sculptor Matthew Placzek depicts two workers pulling on a line that appears to tilt a heavy pot. Water pours from the pot down into a series of ladles, simulating molten steel. Two other workers, one a woman, labor in front of a furnace. Nearby, a blacksmith crafts tools.

While visiting my sister we went downtown to see the flooding on the Omaha riverfront. The above photo was taken several years ago during one of our visits. It shows my family visiting the monument entitled "Labor" on the Lewis and Clark Landing. The following photo shows the same statue last Sunday. Look close and you will see the hammer of the blacksmith is barely above the water. This is a thirty foot high memorial so that should give you some idea of how much is below the water.

The walking bridge you see behind the monument, had not been constructed when I took the first photo. It is the longest pedestrian bridge linking two states and providing safe crossing from Omaha nebraska to Council Bluffs Iowa over the Missouri River. The Cable Stay bridge is 3,000 ft long, including the landings; the walkway is 15 ft wide, and allow visitors to stand about 60 ft above the river.

I am linking this post to Watery Wednesday.

Watery Wednesday is hosted by 2sweetnsaxy.
To join the fun or visit the contributions of others click here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Going Down the Yellow Brick Road

About a mile from my house is a street I pass occasionally which has an interesting name.

Last Saturday the Old Salt and I were out doing one of our favorite pastimes, taking a drive and following any road that might lead to an interesting photo opt. So we decided to see what the Yellow Brick Road had to offer.

A short distance down the road we came to the entrance into a subdivision. No reason to be surprised that the yellow brick road led to the Emerald City. The Emerald City turned out to be a neighborhood of split foyer homes, of the seventies variety, sitting on large lots with all the streets either ending in a cul-de-sac or circling back to the yellow brick road.

It was certainly an ideal location for young families. No through traffic, dead end courts that allowed for bike riding and skateboarding with little fear of traffic.

The Tin Man and the Scarecrow were certainly represented
and munchkins in the form of children were everywhere,
both in person and by the toys they left in the yards.

Somewhere Over The Rainbow is a great song but what happened to Dorothy, the cowardly lion, the good and wicked witches and the great Wizard? Not a street sign or anything else to represent them. I was also disappointed because I did not see a single house that contained any yard art to go with the theme of living in the Emerald City.

I could not believe that with all the craft fairs in the area selling these tin men last fall that not a single family on Tin Man Alley wanted to hang one in their yard.

These scarecrows are so easy to make that I was shocked that no one on
Scarecrow Lane had one resting against their porch.

I am linking this post to That's My World Tuesday
To visit the other My World entries are to join the fun visit here

My World Square

Mad About Madeline

"In an old house in Paris that was covered with vines,

lived twelve little girls in two straight lines

They left the house, at half past nine ...

The smallest one was Madeline."

So starts the Ludwig Bemelmans's story about Madeline and her friends. Children since 1939 have been reading about and falling in love with Madeline. During a recent visit with the Old Salt's niece and her family, I discovered that the fascination with Madeline is still alive and moving into new generations of young girls.

When I snapped a photograph of this yellow hat hanging on the stairway newel post,
the old Salt's niece, informed me the hat was part of the girl's Madeline costume.

Cora was quick to model the yellow hat. She also wasted no time letting
me know it was one of their favorite dress-up outfits.

This is Deanna modeling the entire outfit for us.

If you would like to know more about Ludwig Bemelmans and the history of Madeline visit the official Madeline website by clicking here.

I am linking this post to Mellow Yellow Monday


Mellow Yellow Monday is hosted by Drowsey Monkey. To join in the fun or visit other Mellow Yellow participants just click here.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Signs from Texas

You have gotta love Lesley's meme devoted to signs each Thursday. It is one of the few that I never seem to run out of material to post. My entries this week were both taken during our recent visit to the Gaylord Texan Hotel.

This is a first for me. I have never seen a sign marking the way to the celebrities
entrance of a hotel before.

I noticed this tag on the car parked in front of us in the parking garage.
Great advice for all of us.

I am linking this post to Signs, Signs hosted by Lesley of Southern Ontario, discovered . To check out what interesting signs others have posted this week click here.

Birthdays and Babies

A few days ago I saw a new doctor. He asked questions like “when did you have this done” and “how long since that happened?” I realized all my answers centered on what age my child was at the time. For example, my gall bladder surgery happened when my daughter was eight and that required having to do the math to get the year 1978. Later that same day I had another flash of insight when I realized that the events of my childhood and youth were remembered by how many siblings I had at the time, which allowed me to do the math to get the year.

This is one story that does not require me to do all those mental calculations. The date is fixed in my mind and always will be. It was Friday July 7, 1961. The day started like any other summer morning. I was the eldest of the nine children gathered round the breakfast table. I was passing out plates of pancakes. Not hard to remember because pancakes were not our standard breakfast fare and family tradition allowed that the “birthday boy” or in this case “girl” got to choose their favorite breakfast. This particular Friday it was my turn to choose since I was the “Birthday girl” and this was my fifteenth birthday.

After the shouting for more butter, the jam jar or syrup pitcher, everyone fell silent. That meant everyone was busy eating as my mother began to make her usual morning announcements. Expecting, the litany of chores that needed doing accompanied by the normal complaints over whose turn it was to do them, I was not paying close attention. After all, it was my birthday I was suppose to be exempt from all but the most urgent of tasks. Suddenly, I was pulled from thoughts of how I would spend my special day by the jab of an elbow poking me on each side in time to hear my mother announce from the head of the table that she had decided that today would be the perfect day to give birth to our new little brother or sister. Why today of all days? It was my birthday and the baby was not due for several more days.
As if she had just gotten an injection of some supercharged energy juice my mother started directing all types of chores that did not belong on the Friday schedule. Bathrooms had to be scrubbed, beds stripped, laundry sorted, the first of three old wringer washing machines filled with boiling water and the washtubs of the others filled with cold rinse water. It did not take long to realize that I was not going to get a lazy birthday. Laundry day meant that I was suppose to set out the peanut butter and jelly for a do it yourself lunch and fix dinner between ironing the damp clothes as they came off the line.
By the time the dinner dishes were done and the kitchen set right I had decided that my mother was mistaken about giving birth that day. Not so. Just as the last rays of sunshine was setting and the final load of laundry was coming in from the clothesline, I heard mom sending one of the boys to fetch my father. It was time to head for town and the hospital. 

All of us older children were waiting up for the news when Dad came home about midnight. We now had a new baby sister that made the count four girls and six boys. I would also forever be sharing my birthday with my new little sister. The biggest surprise of the night though, came when Dad announced that because the baby came on my birthday, my parents had agreed that I should name her. They had decided that one of her names had to be Louise, but I could choose the other name and pick whether it would be the first or middle name.

Having just turned fifteen I decided that rhyming names would be cute and spent most of Saturday with a tablet going through the alphabet adding each letter to my name and checking them in the listing of saints. After much work and lots of thought I finally decided that the only letter that rhymed with Rita and was a saint’s name was the letter “V” and chose the name Vita that I pronounced V-ta. I couldn’t wait to give this information to Father Pezold at mass on Sunday Morning. Father quickly pointed out that Vita was pronounced Vi-ta and told us the story of St. Vita and the disease known as St. Vitas Dance. He suggested that perhaps the saint I had been searching for was actually St. Veda whose name still rhymed with mine.

So that is how my beautiful baby sister came to be named Veda Louise and received me as her Godmother as well. In three weeks on July 7, 2011 Veda will turn fifty and I will be sixty-five. And yes, we will be celebrating together just as we have done each of the last fifty years.

Veda and Rita. Our Birthday photo taken in 2008

Happy Birthday Veda.

I am linking this post to ABC Wendesday
The featured letter this week is the letter "V"

You can visit the other participants by clicking here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

mellow yellow Monday

One of the first meme I participated in on a regular bases was Mellow Yellow Monday. Yellow is one of my favorite colors for everything except clothing, so usually it is an easy subject to photograph. For several months now the color seemed to be alluding me, then suddenly I managed to capture several shots in a couple of days.

I snapped this at a local antique shot last winter.
I thought the prices ridiculous but loved the matching pairs of yellow.

This sunflower is another of the trash to treasure sculptures my cousins husband makes.
I have done several posts on his yard art and find something new each time I visit.

This photo and the one below are of the martial arts studio near my house. The studio got a recent facelift. The windows got some new signage, the trim was painted and this very yellow furniture was placed out front for the parents who choose to wait.

I am linking this post to Mellow Yellow Monday


Mellow Yellow Monday is hosted by Drowsey Monkey. To join in the fun or visit other Mellow Yellow participants just click here.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Cows and Chikin

During our recent trip to Alabama I photographed this billboard located in the busy downtown area of Nashville. I had to snap the shot from the moving car during rush hour so it is not the best photography. But, it was the first time I had seen this sign and it tickled me to see the cows painting a sign for a chicken restaurant.

I kept hoping to see another one on our trip so I could get a better shot, but, never did.

I am linking this post to Signs, Signs hosted by Lesley of Southern Ontario, discovered . To check out what interesting signs others have posted this week click here.

Words not Required

It is that time of the week when we share out photos of signs. Today I selected a few that do not require any words to be understood.

Living in a rural area we see a lot of these signs.

Even the youngest members of the family understand what is available at this sign.

While this sign is self explanatory I find quite a few folks ignore it, leaving their carts all over the parking lot to roll around and leave pings and dings in our cars.

I am linking this post to Signs, Signs hosted by Lesley of Southern Ontario, discovered . To check out what interesting signs others have posted this week click here.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Surprise Family Reunion

It has been a while since I posted here. I left a note explaining that I would be MIA without much notice this summer. This spell was one of those occasions.

The Old Salt has a son who works out of the country. He has one of those mysterious jobs that requires a lot of travel and keeps him on the move so it is hard to keep up with him. Last Thursday he called and informed us he would be making a trip home to see his children, two of which would be celebrating a birthday over the weekend. He invited us to join him for a brief visit. We had not seen him or his children for two years so naturally we agreed to make the trip.

We had barely enough notice to toss a few items into a suitcase and arrange to keep our plants watered and animals fed, before we were driving to Texas. The Old Salt's granddaughters moved from California to the Dallas area about a month ago. This move has considerably shortened our travel time and we were excited to make our first trip to their new home. When Frank's son arrived in Texas we were delighted to learn he brought his son, from another relationship, with him from California. So we got to spend the weekend with all the grandchildren and their father in one place for the first time since we've been married.

I have posted a few of my photos from the trip on my photo blog and will post more as time permits. For now I just want to share a photo of the Old Salt and his four grandchildren.

On our return trip we made a detour into Tulsa to visit with the Old Salt's niece and her family. So it was an exciting spur of the moment weekend for everyone involved.

I am linking this post to Thematic Photographic hosted by Carmi.
The theme this week is "Family".

To visit the post of others or to join the fun click here.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tape Talent

I'm not a fan of junk mail. I also consider spam to be a worst form of junk mail. I'm sure you would agree with me that life would be better without it. At least you can throw the junk mail in the trash unopened, but, spam requires a cursory look-see and several clicks of the mouse to get rid of it. But, by the same token you do on rare occasions fine something interesting in that pile of junk mail or even that file full of spam. That is what happened to me today. Up side is I'm going to get a fairly decent post out of what showed up in my spam folder.

Buried in my spam was a message from the 3 M Company. They occasionally send me some decent coupons on their products so I opened the e-mail to discover there are some artistic geniuses out there willing to take the time to create a sculpture out of nothing but "Tape" and enter it in a contest hoping to win a nice prize. Now this sculpture could not be made from just any old tape. It had to be Scotch Brand Packaging Tape made by the 3 M Co.

This was the Grand Prize Winner of this contest.
The 2011 winners of the "Off The Roll Tape Sculpure Contest" can be found here.
Somehow I missed hearing this contest was taking place. I also have been in the dark for a while because this was the winner of the first contest held last year.
The winners of the 2010 contest can be found here.

Now here are a few of my favorites from the websites listed above.

When I was young we used plain old cellophane tape, but a trip to Wikipedia tells me that Scotch tape was invented by Richard Drew in 1930 but did not get the name Scotch until much later. Apparently, A customer complained that 3M was manufacturing its masking tape too cheaply, and told company engineer Drew to, "take this tape back to your stingy Scotch bosses and tell them to put more adhesive on it.

Scotty McTape, a kilt-wearing cartoon boy, was the brand's mascot for two decades, first appearing in 1944. The familiar plaid design, a take on the Wallace tartan, was introduced in 1945. Scotch Tape like Kleenex has now become a generic term used by most Americans for any product of its type.

I am linking this post to ABC Wendesday
The featured letter this week is the letter "T"

You can visit the other participants by clicking here.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dothan Peanuts

I posted stories and photo's in the past about the giant letter O's in Omaha, the horse statues in Louisville, Kentucky and the butterfly statues in St. Louis. During my recent visit to Dothan, Alabama I stumbled on a couple of giant peanut statues there. I have been visiting the circle city, as Dothan is also called, since my aunt moved there thirty years ago. I photographed the giant gold peanut that sits in front of the visitor's center several times since it was installed back in the mid nineties.

Camera Nut outside the TV station

But, I was unaware that over sixty fiberglass peanuts, each five feet tall and decorated by local artists have been installed at public locations around the city. These statues began as a Community art project that continued to multiply over the last few years.

Downtown Peanut holding onto the business district signs.

We go to Dothan to visit my aunt and, other than an occasional trip out to dinner, we do not usually have time for sightseeing. If the air conditioning had not gone out in our vehicle this trip I would probably not have discovered these peanuts again this year. The repair shop for our air was down in the older part of town and we found the peanuts seemingly around every corner. Regrettably, we did not have time to seek out all the peanuts my aunt told us about, which includes the Elvis Nut, Violin Nut, Mr. Peanut Head, Wise Ol' Owl Nut, and the Shopping Nut. There is even an “Officer I. B. Nuts” at the Police Station and a peanut fire hydrant complete with Dalmatian outside the firehouse.

Uncle Sam Peanut in a city park

Several states grow peanuts commercially, but no place does it like Dothan. Judy Woodward Bate's of the Birmingham Budget Travel Examiner writes that
65% of the entire nation's peanut crops are produced
Within a 100-mile radius of Dothan.
With statistics like these, is it any wonder they can rightfully tout themselves as the “Peanut Capital of the World?”

Paperboy Peanut outside the Dothan Eagle

According to the Dothan city website, "Peanuts Around Town" was undertaken to provide funding for restoration projects in the historic downtown area. Local businesses, civic organizations, and individuals may purchase and decorate their peanut according to their own concept. The five foot high hollow peanut sculptures made entirely of fiberglass weight 55 pounds. Prior to permanent installation by the city, the peanuts are filled with concrete bringing the weight to approximately 400 pounds.

"Kiss goodbye to Breast Cancer" Peanut

I hope you enjoyed seeing the peanut statues I stumbled across this trip. I will certainly plain more time next trip to find the others.

I am linking this post to That's My World Tuesday
To visit the other My World entries are to join the fun visit here

My World Square