NOTHING PROFOUND HERE

This is my seventh blog since the first of the year, but the first I have published.  Why? Well, for one thing, all the others sound like I’m whining.  Which I am.  So, what’s the problem?

Well!  The race for president of the United States has already begun.  The candidates for one party have sunk so low that it’s disgusting.  Yes, I’m whining.  How can anyone be proud of such behavior?  And it’s getting worse.  If one of them is elected, how can we as Americans be proud of our president?  What crazy thing will he do?  How much trouble will he make for our country?

U S Flag

I would like to write something profound, something that would turn around all those who are in favor of such candidates, make them see the ridiculousness and even the danger of it.  But nothing profound comes to mind.

Am I still whining?  Probably. Actually I’m heartsick.  I can’t see the future as anything but glum if any of these extreme candidates should become president.  Yes, there are some moderates running, but they are not as charismatic with the crowds.  And the candidates react to those crowds, speaking and acting even more wildly.

So I’m also disgusted with many of my fellow Americans.

Whine, whine.  Nothing profound here.

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CLOSED FOR THE DURATION

Yesterday was Pearl Harbor Day.  I was pretty young when World War II began and my memories are mostly taken from movies and other people’s stories.  My very first memory of it involved a “Closed for the Duration” sign.  Sorry, I could not find such a sign anymore to illustrate, so “Closed for the Season” will have to do.

closed

By the summer of 1942 I was old enough to know that on the trip from our house into Wheeling we often stopped at an ice cream stand.  One day it wasn’t open.  Instead, a hand-made sign hung in the pass-through window.  “Closed for the Duration.”

“What’s that mean, Momma?”   I asked.  Even my older brother didn’t know  But being six years old than I, he had a pretty good idea.  He was aware that the US was involved in a big war.  In fact, as the next few years went by, he was hoping the war would last long enough for him to get into it.  Alas!  It ended too soon for him.

That ice cream stand wasn’t the only thing that seemed closed to me.  My mother didn’t bake as many cookies and cakes as she once had.  In fact, the occasion  had to be pretty special for the family to get cake… like a birthday or something.  And she and dad planted a garden in the backyard. Then my brother and I were assigned to weeding it.

Our car wasn’t all that new at the start of the war, but by the end, we were walking more anyway  Dad needed not only money but stamps to buy gasoline, and tires were, well, they just weren’t.

Mom was an avid blood donor.  What she really wanted was the ward pin the Red Cross gave out when donors reached certain quantities.  Possibly to keep her from becoming anemic they asked her to be the local contact person.  When a soldier was hurt, missing or killed, she was asked to contact his family to see if they were alright and had received the news through official channels.  Some of the folks on the outskirts of our town didn’t have a  telephone so she would drive to their homes.  (She may even have had a small gas allowance for that, but I’m not sure.)  I was with her one time when we parked about a mile away and walked across an open field to get to a small farm house.  She made me wait outside while she consoled the heartsick parents inside  She later said she would have preferred to go on giving blood.

Dad was the school superintendent and knew everyone in town, so he was a good choice to put in charge of the Civil Defense Patrol.  I remember him going out in the evenings to walk the streets to check that no lights showed through windows.  There were several older men who did this and some, dad said later, enjoyed knocking on doors and telling people to either turn off their lights or hang blackout curtains.  He feared they would misuse their status, but never said it actually happened.

We didn’t have any kind of war factory near us, and we were pretty far into the middle of the country., so the idea of enemy planes going over, spotting a light below and bombing it was remote.  Very remote.  We must have been in a flight path, however, because our own planes – mostly likely being transported from one place to another – flew over regularly.  One summer late in the war a single engine fighter plane flew over and the noise it made caused everyone to look up.  The pilot was in trouble.  Then wham!  He crashed into a hill east of town.  As far as I could tell, everyone who had heard the plane rushed to the scene.  A few men from the Civil Defense Patrol got there before us.  They had set up a tent to cover the pilot’s remains.  That didn’t keep anyone, including me, from peaking under it to see the body.  There wasn’t much left of him; I thought his body looked mostly like charred meat.  My brother went poking around the plane and later, when we got home he asked mom for a jar.  Turns out he had found a finger, still in the leather glove.  He “pickled it” and had it for a couple of weeks before mom saw it.  We gave the finger a nice burial in the backyard.

When war crept into our daily lives more than I realized.  Going to the movies meant we would  have to sit through a newsreel.  Signs about helping with the war effort were everywhere. And once I started to school I discovered there were scheduled air raid drills.  Most students didn’t mind that, since it was a break from classroom work.

Discussions at the dinner table always included something about the war.  We had no one serving in it, even distant cousins,, but knew the families in town who did.  Dad had been too young for the First world War and now was too old.  Plus, he had a responsible job.

Walking to school every day I saw quite a few service banners in windows  One of my friends lost a brother in a plane crash over France, another had an uncle who was badly wounded.  The local VFW put up an Honor Roll next to the post office and added names or changed the status as needed.  I have no idea what happened to that Honor Roll.  It disappeared not long after the war ended.

What a great country we were then.  We were all working together toward one goal, to win the war and get on with our lives.  Lots of things changed after the war, mostly for the better for quite a  while.  We were in a growing period where everyone could have a car in every garage and a chicken in every pot.. wasn’t that a promise made by a politician?  After that war we were were well on our way to having it all.  The United States owned the 20th Century.

Today I’m wondering if we are in a new “duration.” One where our enemy is ourselves.  Those veterans who came back and brought our country to life have mostly passed away.  Now we have greed and self-serving interests.  What happened to us?

I surely hope this “duration” is over soon.  Oh, buy the way, that ice cream stand never did open up again.  That “duration” was forever.

 

 

 

MY TATTOO

No, I don’t have a tattoo, but I want one.  I have carried the artwork with me for one or two years now.  Even stopped into a “tattoo parlor” once and was told, first: they weren’t open that day (though the door was open); second: I’d have to make an appointment; and third: the design I had was very complicated and it would be very expensive to duplicate.

Curtiss JN

Actually, all I want is the silhouette, not all the shadings. And why this particular art?  Well, I like old planes.  This is one of the Curtiss JN (“Jenny”) models that flew during World War I.  l wrote a book titled “Cloud Busters” about a man who could fly everything from Jennys to jets. His first plane was an early Jenny.

So I’m set on the artwork.  Now, about that tattoo parlor.  They obviously didn’t want my business. Perhaps they thought I was too old.  To that I could counter that young folks who get tattoos can expect their skin to sag as the years go by.  Well, my skin has probably sagged as much as it’s going to, so the image won’t become distorted as I continue to age.

The question is, if I am certain about this tattoo, why haven’t I done it? Why haven’t I found another “parlor” and submitted my skin to this attack?  (Whoa, that’s harsh.)

Perhaps it’s because of my mother.  When I was in high school it seemed that all my friends were getting their ears pierced.  “Only gypsies have pierced ears,” she would say.  Repeatedly.  It was only a few years after my oldest child was born that I noticed my mother’s ears were pierced. “The earrings are better,” she explained.  So, before that same child of mine was married I bit the bullet and had my ears done as well.  Mother didn’t mention gypsies.

Early on she would have put tattoos in the same category as piercings.  But I think  there was a time when she would have decided that in order to stay current with her classes – she was a teacher – she would get a tattoo.  The art work would have been an open book or something along that line. My mother was “with it.”

So I’m torn.  Should I be an early version of my mother or a more modern one?  (Everybody has a tattoo these days.)

My husband says don’t do it.  But my granddaughters are urging me on. They already think I’m pretty cool, if that expression is still viable.  And I certainly want to continue to be cool.  So I told them that one day I would surprise them and just go do it then put the results on my Facebook page.  I’m sure it’s a photo they would “share.”

Maybe I like talking about it better than doing it. But I still carry the artwork, and I still notice the location of tattoo parlors.  Yes, l think it will happen.  My tattoo.

END OF SUMMER ROUNDUP

Here I am again after sloughing (or is that sluffing?) off all summer.  Not completely, though.  I wrote multiple short paragraphs for two Facebook accounts during the summer as well as scripts for several presentations.  A little creativity was going on, but not much.  I would call it the “Summer of My Discontent,” or “Endless Summer,” or “Summertime,” or “The Long Hot Summer,” or even “The Best of Times and the Worst of Times.,”  (Thanks to all who wrote these words and titles originally.)

Well, what did happen this past summer?  I didn’t sit on the patio with the retractable awning very often.  It was cold, cold in the early part of the summer, then hot, hot.

patio

Besides that, Rock and I weren’t home much.  We celebrated a significant anniversary this year and our children gave us a week’s vacation in one of the last two states we had never visited.  We have a travel trailer and had been to all the contiguous states in it but Arizona and New Mexico.  We cruised to Alaska and flew to Hawaii, so these two southwestern states were really the last of the 50.  The kids gave us a week in Arizona.  Going there in the summer is not advisable.  I know it’s a “dry heat,” but 113 degrees is hot, dry or not. Still, it was simply great, despite the weather.  We had never seen the Grand Canyon, and just as so many before us has described, it is “indescribable.”

jr at gc

Before returning home, on our own we rented a car and drove to New Mexico – Albuquerque, mostly – though we saw quite a bit along the way.  It was much cooler there, only 102 degrees.  Both states have so much to offer.  And we enjoyed every minute of it, because chances are we will never get to either in our trailer.

Ah, the trailer.  After years in a too-shady site in the campground where we leave it, there were so many leaks and problems that we moved it to our granddaughter’s house (with a long, level driveway and empty garage).  Then we tore out the rear bedroom and totally replaced the floor.  When we returned it to the campground we put it on a sunny site.  We’re caulking everything and we are hopeful there will be no more leaks.  At least in our lifetime. We are thinking that instead of a travel trailer we now have a destination trailer.  That’s okay.  The campground is lovely and the folks there are pretty nice, too.

trailer

That leads me to the last item.  Rock and I have spent a good many years together.  We’re not getting any younger, but then – surprise! – nobody is.  So, there’s another song that comes to mind as we head into fall and winter… “The days grow short when you reach September… These precious days, I’ll spend with you.”  Thanks, Kurt Weill and Maxwell Anderson. A perfect sentiment.

Rock and I plan to make every minute worthwhile.  Something new and fun, fine, interesting and wonderful.

So, rounding up, we will both work at keeping up.

P.S.  Is anyone watching this incredible political story?  How many candidates for one position are too many?  How many lies can one candidate tell without being called on it?  More later!

ELECT A VETERAN

We all know that things aren’t working right.  In so many ways.  Our politicians refuse to compromise, our young black men are being shot down by police or arrested in alarming numbers for minor offenses, our poor are unable to find life-supporting work, our sick are in need of better health care, our women are not valued, our mentally ill seem to run rampant in the streets… Well, I guess we all know the list.

What’s the answer?  Is there an answer?

After World War II our soldiers returned and built a nation.  Many continued their service locally all the way to the top of the political ladder.  Many served in Congress.  Maybe that helped keep us out of so many skirmishes and conflicts; they knew about war and its effects.

They didn’t become “the Greatest Generation” for nothing!  They were working to make America a great nation, at home just as it had been abroad.

Honor Roll face

So now what?  It would seem that greed is uppermost on the minds of many of our elected officials.  They don’t buck the big banks or the gun manufacturers or whoever else is paying for their campaigns, etc.  Maybe, if some of our returning veterans – those who volunteered because they wanted to make a difference and serve their country – would step up and serve again perhaps we might get control of our out-of-control country.

If not, there is always that limited term idea, but there we lose the value of those elected legislators who provide continuity and history.

Surely there is an answer to the violence within our country, Americans killing Americans.  Americans hating Americans.  This is not the land of the free and the home of the brave.  It appears to be more like a third-world country.  Our gentle, treat-others-as-we-want-to-be-treated ways have disappeared.

Somebody help!

IN THE ZONES

Hello again.  Sorry to be quiet for so long, but I’ve been in one zone or another for months.  Zones… that came from a Daily Post awhile back.  Every suggestion in those posts is interesting and under consideration here at my new computer (Louise).  Some are filed away for future use.

“Zone” was a good one to keep.  I seem to tackle things with intensity… or tunnel vision, one might call it.  Whatever it is, it has my full concentration.

So now is a respite and while I have a chance I will express a concern I have.  (Did you notice?  The word “I” appeared three times in that one sentence.)  That’s a problem I’m having with blogs.  I would so much prefer to be using the literary or 4th Estate “we.”  Another way around it would be to put everything in passive voice and boy! We don’t like that at all!

Let’s see.  Where were we?  Oh, yes.  Zones.  There was that January All-Blogs Zone. One of the perks to writing blogs is that we began reading several other blogs that interested us.  Now, they follow us, we follow them.  How nice.

Then came the February Depths-of-Despair Zone.  This was when good ol’ Fanny (our old computer) became deathly ill, which resulted in purchasing a new one (Louise, as mentioned earlier) and bringing her up to speed.

In March we began to prepare for the annual Summer Exhibit Zone at the local historical society.  Research, writing, downloading free-to-use photos, publicity, etc., etc.  It is titled War’s End, thus the photo with this blog.

100_6041

By Memorial Day we were all written out.  But no!  There’s that Facebook thing we tend for the Historical Society.  And there was a presentation on our book Passage to Liverpool. (Yes, it’s self-published.)

Next up?  A two-week trip put us in a Travel Zone, which required reading brochures about our (Rock is going too) destination, making reservations, etc., etc.  Imagine the time this took!  Travel agents used to do this. Are there still travel agents or is that person like the buggy whip maker – obsolete?

In August we’ll be giving a lecture on a subject dear to our (well, my, really) heart.  It’s about a circus showman of the mid 1800s who was incredibly talented.  He had a flawed character, of course, which makes him very interesting.  We have been writing short pieces about him for nearly 20 years and are about three-quarters of the way through a full-length bio.  Just one aspect of his life is the topic of this Upcoming Lecture Zone.

After that, well, the Holidays Zone – Labor Day, Grandparents Day, Halloween, Veteran’s Day (formerly called Armistice Day), Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve.  They all require a certain amount of thought.  Fortunately, they don’t all require gifts.  Tut, tut.  Our miserly side is showing.

What all this whining reveals is that we only seem able to do one thing, or be in one zone at a time.  And even then, we’re barely keeping up!

Animals We Love

Pansy is being put to death tomorrow.  Pansy is our neighbor’s dog.  She is 13 and has been ill for months, maybe years.  She’s been having seizures since she was three.  But she is loved and her “mother” made a point of telling me that Pansy was being put down tomorrow  Pansy is the closest thing the couple next door have to a child.

Thinking about Pansy has made me reflect on all the animals that have been in my life. The first I recall is “Zero.”  He was a small bulldog with a white ring around one eye.  My dad, who was quite crafty, made a wooden dog that looks just like Zero, which now guards my front door. I was a young child during Zero’s years and don’t recall what happened to him.  I do remember that my cat (name not remembered) hung itself (can’t even recall the sex of this pet, but I frequently dressed it in doll clothes and took it for a walk in a doll buggy) on a neighbor’s broken window.  The neighbor was watching the cat for me while I was away. She buried the cat before I returned.

When I was a freshman in high school my mother was given a rat terrier we named “Mo” for the aircraft carrier Missouri.  I was in college when he died and knew only that my dad buried the dog in the back yard.  I don’t remember agonizing over his death.  He was mom’s dog, not mine.

Within months after we were married my husband Rock and I acquired two Siamese cats. They were the best.  Chased each other all night from one end of the apartment to the other.  It was a “shotgun” apartment, doors between rooms were all in line and the back end included our bed.  During most nights they started out under the covers, sparring then chasing, then up and over the bed to the front of the apartment then back again and up and over the bed, etc..  It was fun at first, but sleep was hard to come by once their game started.  Because we were moving they ended up on a farm, happily, we hoped, and still do.

Our next pet was a cat Rock found in an alley in Newark, New Jersey, where he was working.  He brought her home and gave her a bath and the cat, Susie, never forgave him. When at the end of her life her bladder control gave out she always seemed to seek out his foot before she let loose.

Our children were small but growing into preteens when we acquired a dog, “Miss Liberty” whom we called Libby and a cat, “Uncle Sam,” whom we called Sam or Sammie.  It was Bicentennial time and we were very patriotic  These two pets grew old with us, well past the age when most pets are gone. Eventually both were affected by the chemicals we spread on our lawn and it was up to me to put them down, as I had done with Susie.

Susie was easy.  The day I took her to the vet’s I arrived in the parking lot and cried for a moment, reached for a tissue and felt something wet.  She had let loose into my jacket pocket  Well, I hustled her into the place and never looked back.

Libby and Sammie were loved by all of us… husband, three children and me. The children grew up with them.  I was the only one home on the day the earlier decision had been made regarding each animal’s final day.   I had the duty.  Sad times, indeed.

There comes a a time when a life is finished.  With animals we love it is when we know that the quality of life is over and only pain remains.  A doctor somewhere in the west went to prison because he offered the same “put down” service to humans.

I’m not sure how I feel about that. Depends on the circumstances, I suspect.  For example, I know I don’t want to be kept alive in a vegetative state with tubes and such.  I would hope that someone would love me enough to  have me put down, if only by turning off the machines.

I will reflect on all this again tomorrow when my neighbors come back from the vet’s without their beloved Pansy.