Sunday, May 30, 2010

My Dad

I think of my dad all Memorial Day Weekend, every year.

He was drafted to serve in Vietnam, 1966 - 1968.

He was not killed.  Thank God.  He served honorably and effectively, and returned home.

But he returned home changed.

Everyone who knew him before said so.

My dad is a good man, an honorable man.  A man with a sense of humor and a zest for life.

But there is a sadness, too.

Every war story my dad tells is littered with, "He got killed."  Every name, but one, that my dad has ever mentioned to me is followed with, "He got killed."  "I liked that guy.  We laughed so hard . . . but he got killed."

My dad witnessed a foxhole conversion and became the godfather to a man his age.  His is the only name that is not followed by, "he got killed."

My dad came home.  He fell in love, got married, and raised a family.

But I know he still carries the memories and the sadness.

The losses we remember on Memorial Day should include the loss of innocence and the loss of peace for these survivors.

My prayers and my thanks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Honor and Remember

Arlington Cemetery Changing of the Guard at The Tomb of The Unknowns

The Tomb contains the remains of unknown American soldiers from World Wars 1 and II, the Korean Conflict and (until 1998) the Vietnam War. 
The Tomb is guarded 24-hours-per-day and 365-days-per year by specially trained members of the 3rd United States Infantry. 

May they, and all others, always be honored and remembered.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

10 Things You Don't Know and . . .

Dear Randy over at Chicken Boys passed this task along to me in exchange for a lovely award and acknowledgment.  Thanks, SweetiePie!

10 Things You Still Don't Know About Me

1.  I had a pink streak dyed into my hair for my 40th birthday . . . and have half a mind to keep it all the time.

2.  My husband is 14 inches taller than I.

3.  There is an unusual phenomenon surrounding me and cd's.  Once I open a cd, the cd case disappears, never to be seen again.

4.  I chew gum to avoid tension headaches -- a lot.

5.  My daughter has reactive attachment disorder, and it is kicking my a$$ right now.  Therapeutic parenting is hard and unsatisfying and sad.

6.  I am more open-minded than people who think they know me give me credit for.

7.  I fervently want to have a goat of my own.

8.  My favorite candy is licorice allsorts . . . art deco candy, ya gotta love it.

9.  When I'm alone in the car, I have an amazing singing voice.  You just wouldn't believe it.

10.  I need more friends.

5 Things I Hate

1.  The color "Seafoam Green."

2.  Getting my face wet.

3.  Busy-body gossips.

4.  Polish jokes.

5.  Mean people.


Thanks again, Randy!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Girl, Lester

Have you met my Lester?  Lester is my little mourning dove girl. We raised her from a naked, featherless nestling. We tried to be careful to preserve her "wildness," but somehow she imprinted on our dog. She now lives a dog's life.

She bathes in and drinks from the dogs' water dish. . .

She sleeps in the dog's bed:

She greets family members at the door when they arrive back home . . . how she doesn't get stepped on, I'll never know . . .

She likes potato chips on the occasion we crumple a bit for her . . .

When she feels giddy, she'll attack our toes and tickle, tease, and play . . .

She is a nosy little girl and must know all things my kids are into, especially if they are on the floor:

She hangs around the yard and expects to be let in at her pleasure:

And she feels quite entitled to my son's favorite blanket . . . her favorite, too:

She recently took up residence in a houseplant . . . laying her eggs and then sitting on them for almost 3 weeks, her personal best so far in her almost 2 year life.  I didn't get a picture as I didn't want to push my luck.  I was the only one allowed to approach her or even enter the room, so I didn't feel it was appropriate to intrude on her with a camera.  So you will have to imagine the picture of a broody mourning dove all hunkered down in a past-its-prime poinsettia plant in the window of the kids' playroom.  I would sprinkle some seed and refill the little medicine-cup water-dish each morning and each night, and she would thank me with a little hum and a nestle.  She finally gave up on her nest two days ago, and I am so happy to have her back. 

(Though not on my head! . . . which is her favorite perch . . . she knows it drives me buggy . . . teaser that she is.)

I just love that little bird.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010


I'm finding the world a rough place lately. Maybe you are, too. People seem to be so coarse, so unkind, so hard on each other. Not all, of course.

But, God help me, the hard ones seem to stay with me longer.

I came across this charming little video a while back, and thought you might like it, too. It takes a few moments and a bit of patience and good humor, but I send it out to you to watch if you choose.

I wish the sentiments would ripple out far and wide.

My warmest wishes for a nice day,

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If You Don't Have Something Nice to Say . . .

Share a recipe!

I do believe I've seen blueberries coming around in the grocery stores, so I will share this simple, but wonderful recipe with you all.

Blueberry-Buttermilk Sherbert

2 c. fresh blueberries
1 c. sugar (sometimes I use less if the berries are sweet enough)
2 c. buttermilk (I usually use fat-free!)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Process blueberries in a food processor until smooth, scraping down sides as needed. Press blueberry puree through a fine wire sieve to remove seeds. To the puree, in a large bowl, add sugar, buttermilk, and vanilla. Stir until well blended.

Pour blueberry mixture into freezer container of ice-cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

* 1 14 oz. bag of frozen blueberries, thawed, may be substituted for fresh.



Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, My Boy

You are my dream come true, Angel.  

I love you every day,

And I thank God for you every night.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

PROMPT: A Time When I Was Really, Really Scared

As he made his way to the door, he stopped. "One last thing," he whispered, "when you're out alone, try not to let anyone hear you speak English.  It will only bring you great trouble."  With that, Vlad, the man who would facilitate the adoption of our Ukrainian daughter, strode down the dimly lit hallway, leaving us alone for the night.

The next few days were a blur of bureaucracy.  Meetings.  Files.  Cold, unsmiling faces; suspicious eyes.  We came to Ukraine to find our child, a daughter . . . with red hair just like mine, adopt her, and bring her home.  Whatever the obstacle course, we would handle it; we were together, we were strong.

After an overnight train ride to Kharkiv, we squeezed into a sub-compact car -- all five of us:  My husband, our four year old son, our translator, our driver, and me.

First, we were taken to more offices.  More papers in an unrecognizable language to sign.  More stony, staring faces.

Finally, midday, we were taken to our apartment.  A cold, concrete tenement much like this:

No number on the building, no name on the street.  A meager, but clean space inside, appointed this time with twelve locks.

We dropped our bags and were off to more meetings, more mysterious papers to sign.  No sleep, no shower, barely any food.  We were squeezed into the tiny backseat of a seatbeltless car careening through streets with no signs, no lines, and no rules.  I had begun to profoundly regret bringing our son.  We knew the trip would be a challenge, but we had not realized it would be dangerous.  

While we were at our last meeting of the day, a taxi strike erupted.  Our driver had been moonlighting as a private driver; his regular employment was a taxi driver.  We had no ride home.  We didn't even know where "home" was.  Our translator assured us we could find our way back on the subway and rode along with us.  She walked us to the street level and pointed us down the street toward our building, assuring us we would be fine.  Before we could protest, she disappeared down the subway tunnel, off to her own apartment.

We started down the street.  It was dark now.  I held my son's hand, reminding myself not to clutch it fearfully, but to hold his hand firmly, confidently, assuredly.  I choked back the impulse to speak out loud to my husband, remembering Vlad's warning.  People were all around us.  I trembled inside.  We walked until we came to the building.  Amazing how different and unfamiliar the building looked now, alone, in the dark.

People loitered around the entrance, a stout old woman perched on a stool, broom in her hand.  I breathed in deeply as we approached the building.  I heard my husband do the same.  Just as we were about to cross the threshold to the concrete building, the woman dropped her broom handle across the doorway, blocking our way.  She did not recognize us, therefore, it was her duty to deny us entry.  I looked back, frantically, in the direction we last saw our translator.  Only darkness.  My husband motioned that we wanted to enter.  The woman shook her head sternly.  People began to lean in, crowding.  My husband held up one finger, signifying we were in apartment #1.  No, still no.  Her face grew more grave, an angry expression beginning to evolve.  People began speaking in Russian.  I felt my son's hand in mine, so small, so tight; he had clutched his fingers into a fist.

My eyes scanned the lot behind us.  No cars, just trash and a few people bedding down for the night.  We weren't even sure where we were.  No address; no street name.  Everything looked darker and meaner.  My heart beat so hard and so fast, it felt like one continuous boom in my chest.  The sensation of water poured down my body as adrenaline flooded my flesh.  My mouth opened to capture more air, to catch my breath.

I looked around again at the crowds of people smoking, laughing.  At the figures lying on the strip of grass next to the road, bedding down for the night.  We couldn't spend the night out here.  Could we?  Would we?  My poor son.  He must be so scared.  Would our driver be back in the morning?  What if he wasn't?  Would our translator be back?  Without the driver, maybe not.  What then?  Who would we call?  We didn't even know where we were.          

My husband looked at me, parting his lips to speak.  Then his eyes left mine, fixing on a point slightly above my head. 

Another building.  And another, and another . . . probably ten all in a row.  Why had we not noticed this earlier today?

Perhaps this was not our building.  With an equally angry scowl on our faces, lest we appear afraid, we stomped off, amazed we weren't followed.  As we came to the second building, we could see this was, indeed, our building.  I remembered the dumpster in the parking lot now that I saw it again.  No one was monitoring this doorway.  We slipped in the open entrance, fumbling with the keys, hands shaking.  Once inside, we bolted all twelve locks.  Never would we be out at night again. 

As we laid down to sleep that night, my husband and I on the floor, my son on the sofa -- not all families have bedrooms in Ukraine, I replayed the walk back to the apartment in my head.  To calm myself, I recalled the all the locks on our only door.  Some were thumb-turn locks, some were key locks.  No one could get in here, I assured myself.  Then I began to think about the iron grates over all the windows.  Iron grates on the windows, twelve locks on the door. . . No one could get out, either . . . and there were gas stoves next to wool curtains in every kitchen.

It would be twenty more days before we could leave.  It would be twenty more nights before I really slept again.


My thanks to Tina at Life Is Good for generously supplying this prompt and reigniting my will to write.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Good Company

I've got a Mother's Day present for you.

Each of you.

Mothers or not.  You all had mothers, or grandmothers, or aunties, or someone whose company nurtured you, kept you company, soothed you.

As Mother's Day approaches (here in the U.S., anyway), my heart is heavy with both joy and yearning for this feeling.

Both of my grandmothers have passed on, and I miss them.  The girl in me misses my grandmas for the joy they brought to my life.  The woman in me yearns to know them as women know each other, if they are lucky.

I wonder what they would tell me . . . now that I am grown.

I wonder what they knew that I was not yet ready to know . . . but should know now.

I yearn to sit with them . . . with all the time in the world.

It's not possible, I know it.

But, for a couple of hours this afternoon, I had, quite possibly, the next best thing.

I fell into it quite by accident -- television left on while I was busy with other things.  I sat down to knit a row, or three, and the next thing I knew I was completely captivated.  Most of the movie is improvisational, personal, true, and honest.  An amateur cast playing themselves, watching this movie was like being surrounded by grandmothers and aunties and elderly neighbor ladies . . . with all pretenses dropped. 

I laughed and cried and swooned and swayed.

If you crave the company of your grandmother, or any grandmother, clear some time to sit quietly with these women.  Having watched this movie, I feel rejuvenated and kept company.

Happy Mothers' Day to all of us who have mothers, miss mothers, or need mothers.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Do You Share?

Thanks to all for your advice and commiseration about my seeming writer's block these days. You have definitely inspired me. Tina, I invite your prompt! I think that would be fun. Chicken Boy Randy, how could I not think to write about you!  I will definitely share more recipes.  I have a recipe for blueberry sherbet that will make you love me.  ;)  I think I can get back on track again.

But while you wait for me do dig out my favorite recipes or brace yourself for family stories or await Tina's prompt, here's something I've been thinking about:

I have not shared my blog with most people I know "in real life." My husband, of course, reads, but I haven't shared this blog with the rest of my family or irl friends (except you, Kathleen -- hi!). And the more I think about it, the more I am unsettled by it and wonder why.

Am I trying to hide something?  I don't think so.

Am I not really myself with them? I think I am.

Is it just me?

Do you share your blog with everyone?   

Does your family read your blog? Do your parents? Your children?

Is there anyone you keep your blog from?  Who?  Why?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Dry Spell

I seem to be going through a dry spell.  I just cannot think of anything to post about.  I cannot think of anything to say that people would want to read.  Total block.

Does this happen to you?

How do you get yourself out of it?

Can you think of something I should write about? 

Ask me something . . . anything . . .



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