Monday, May 31, 2010

Remembering the Fallen

It's Memorial Day 2010. This day has always held a special place in my family's traditions. For as far back as I can remember we always attended a Memorial Day service at the cemetery in the veteran's section. The area lined with white headstones depicting rank and service dates of the fallen. It has always been a special time of honoring our veterans and remembering the ones who didn't come home.

When I reached middle school, Dad began taking me to the cemetery with him before the morning light to help set up the Avenue of Flags.  There are few things I have found more moving that taking the flags one by one, reading the names on the tags, hoisting them onto the pole, unfurling, then saluting. There is nothing more beautiful than seeing more than 500 flags flapping in the breeze as the sun rises over Baker Valley.

Four years have passed since I last helped ready Mt. Hope Cemetery for the Memorial Day services. Every Memorial Day that has passed since has left me feeling like something is missing. I guess some traditions are so fully ingrained we truly miss them when we don't participate.

What has not left me is my love and appreciation for our veterans. We may never know the sacrifices some have made or the burdens they carry now. Today, I honor you who have served and bow my head in respect for those who didn't come home. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

A new flag comes home to Mt. Hope Cemetery, 2008
RIP Donald David Wroe - Special Forces, 1950-1952, Korea

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Lunchtime Letters

Dear screaming children in Quiznos,

Good thing you're cute.



Dear Parents of said screaming children,

Thank you for offering me a valuable learning experience through observation. I have learned yelling across the store at my screaming child is productive and giving them a cookie is a great way to make them stop whining.


Family Funny

This post has little point other than preserving this memory for prosperity....

Last night I left my phone downstairs while I laid in bed reading. The phone rang and it wasn't a personalized ring, so I let it ring and kept reading. DH went downstairs and brought my phone to me and told me Grandma had called. I said, "Random, they never call me." (My grandparents "never" call me because I call them nearly daily so they rarely have opportunity or reason to call me.)

Curious, I listened to the message. Grandma's messages are the best as they usually include something like, "Bob, is this on? I think I got the voicemail... Nike? This is your Grandma...." (I have the most adorable grandma on the planet.) Last night's message went like this, however, "Nike, this is Grandma. We're having a discussion about what year you were born. Please call us."

(My grandparents have been married nearly 54 years and are both pretty stubborn. Thus my oft referenced "Henshaw stubborness" or simply "Henshaw blood." If they were calling me to settle something it had probably gotten heated.)

I called and Grandpa picked up the phone and I said, "So, you forgot what year I was born?" He replied, "No, you were born in '86," and I said, "No, I was born in 1985." We had a quick conversation about why on earth he had '86 on the brain. "Well, didn't you have an e-mail with a number at the end?" "Yes, it was 85." We talked about fishing and whether or not Dad was going to visit them now that they're at Philips Lake. Then he passed the phone to Grandma.

Grandma was quite pleased to say the least. Cause she was right. 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Dove Wisdom

"Walk with a light step and a light heart." 

Who knew I would get the encouragement I needed today from a piece of dark chocolate my boss gave me weeks ago? I love those little moments a friend once described as "God winks": those moments when you feel at peace and reminded of your purpose.
See, I haven't been walking with such a light heart - or step if I'm completely honest - and it's been both frustrating and depressing. April and May are notoriously difficult months for me to get through for reasons I understand and ones I have yet to identify. 

I need to choose joy. Forgiveness. Light. Recite my personal mission statement and bring it back to the forefront of my life.

I need purpose and direction to feel content and lately I've been rolling with the punches with no real direction. I also need to remember to live in the present, not the past. Dream and plan for the future, but enjoy the here and now. Now is all we're promised after all.  

Monday, May 10, 2010

Who, me? No!

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

I think we could all use some therapy at times. Not Me Monday was created by MckMama - it's an opportunity to get a little therapy for all those things you would never do, but did, with the support of the virtual community. Click here for all the rules. A shout out to A Little Bit of Life for introducing me to this weekly event.

So, without further ado, below is a list of things I certainly did not do this weekend, while the DH was away.

I did not spend a small fortune at Target because I was not tempted by the value packages for $5.

I did not spend two hours peeling and chopping potatoes on a Saturday evening.

I did not make enough mashed potatoes for a small army, nor did I eat most of them for dinner or later dessert.

I did not borrow several chick flicks from the library. Nor did I stay up til 1:00 am watching them.

I most certainly did not leave the grill's propane tank open for a day and a half. Nor did I ask my hubby to turn it off when I realized at 9:30 pm, during a rain storm, that I hadn't turned it off.

I did not leave sunflower seeds on the back porch for the squirrels to eat for the sheer purpose of taunting Claire, my loveable tabby. I would never.
    What didn't you do this weekend?

    Saturday, May 8, 2010

    Books, Target, and a Pleasant Surprise

    I love reading and I'm pretty non-discriminating when it comes to genres. My tastes tend to run to historical fiction (I was reading Philippa Gregory's work before The Other Boleyn Girl took off at the box office), with an occasional dabble in fantasy a la the Twilight saga and Harry Potter.

    I most recently listened to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson on CD, which was a new experience for me. I wouldn't recommend foreign books on audio - especially one that required a genealogy in its printed form - if you've never listened to audiobooks before.

    But I digress...The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was printed posthumously. The story line is fascinating and full of ups and downs, which often kept me in the car until I had reached an acceptable stopping point. The day before the CDs were due, I listened to the discs at work while processing gifts and upon arriving home listened until the very end. And the end pissed me off. Days later I was still enraged.

    (Did I mention I get emotionally invested in the books I read?)

    Fast forward half a week to today. The DH is backpacking with some friends (why I didn't go is fodder for another post), so I have a day and a half to myself. I went to Target and browsed for awhile and soon found myself in the book aisle.

    (I should disclose at this point that I have not bought a book - with the exception of Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, which is my lifeline - for myself in ages, the result of an enlightening conversation with a friend about how much money we spent on books versus how much we pay in taxes coupled with the fact taxes pay for libraries. With her amazing deduction, my friend had already opted to use the "free" public resource instead of buying books and when I learned how close the townhouse we were moving into was going to be to the library I didn't have an excuse not to use it.)

    Despite my change of heart towards buying books, I still peruse book stores and book aisles. Target has a history of introducing me to some of my all-time favorite books and authors (including Philippa Gregory), so it especially holds a special place in my heart. (I know, gag.) What happened today, however, must have been fate.

    While glancing over the end cap books on sale - most of which are currently being made into movies and/or I have placed a hold on at the library - my eyes fell on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sitting on a shelf next to another Larsson book titled The Girl Who Played with Fire. Some what interested, though still perturbed by the ending of his first book I read, I picked it up and immediately recognized the names of the characters. I was even more amazed to learn there is a third book: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest. Larsson turned all three manuscripts in prior to his death as The Millennium Trilogy - which is why it seemed there should be a sequel to The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. (The end of the book would not have been so bad had I any hope there was a follow-up book.)

    The best news of all? The library has them in stock.

    Friday, May 7, 2010

    Does the Heart Mend?

    It's 10:00 pm on May 7th. It's been three years since the call. I still call it "the call" and feel silly about it - it's so dramatic and I don't really care for drama - but I don't know how else to name that moment when I learned your ship had been lost.

    The scrapbook with the articles about the crew of Flying Colours sits to my left with the vigil flier on the cover. It's been haunting me all week and I still haven't opened it. What's the point? I've memorized the catch phrases that litter the various articles and there's still no answer as to what happened to you. Maybe that's why three years later I still can't say your name without crying.

    I was thinking about when we met yesterday. I was talking to my little sister about Phillip's Park, where Outdoor School was held in sixth grade. We had different teachers and different recesses, but ended up in the same group. We spent a week together learning how to use compasses, purify water, identify plants and animals. You were already well ahead of me, and most of the boys, in survival skills and we hit it off.

    The first time I came over to your house I was greeted by two yellow labs, one of whom is still with us and was of great comfort at the vigil. Funny how your dog colors my memories of high school as much as my own. One of my favorite memories is watching you paddle the canoe around the Lake with Buster sitting at the opposite end. I don't have a picture of that. I wish I did.

    There are still moments when I want to call you. Today as I left my office for lunch I almost walked over a squirrel. I laughed like I always do when a squirrel catches me off guard and thought of you. Remember that summer squirrels kept attacking you? You told me squirrels are not to be trusted. I haven't forgotten.

    Someday I hope to have closure. I want to remember you, not you marred by tragedy. It's you I miss. We're all growing up and it hurts that you are not with us figuring out life. The last pictures of us together are from Bobby's high school graduation in 2005. (He had the biggest crush on you, by the way, but who didn't, right?) I keep trying to force KodakGallery to show you in other albums, but it only relents by giving me a picture of you in a picture.

    So, I'll light another candle in memory of you, toss back a shot of Bahama rum in your honor, and have a good cry. Know that you are still loved and so, so missed.

    A Salute to the Silent Ranks

    Today is Military Spouse Appreciation Day.  I do not know firsthand what it is to be married to the military. I know what it is to be a daughter of a soldier, a cousin to the Navy, granddaughter to a retired Airman, and sister to a Marine. I don't know that I could do what is often described as the toughest job in the military.

    Through my various connections I have had the honor of meeting those known as the Silent Ranks - the wives left behind to man the home front. I have yet to meet one who didn't inspire me with their strength and wisdom. Their lives are interrupted, plans change at the drop of a hat, but they adjust and persevere. 

    Below is one of my favorite poems. It is similar to one my parents have  hanging on our "military wall" at home. It is my tribute to all those married to the military. I admire you. 

    The Silent Ranks

    I wear no uniforms, no blues or army greens
    But I am in the Army in the ranks rarely seen
    I have no rank upon my shoulders - salutes I do not give
    But the military world is the place where I live
    I'm not in the chain of command, orders I do not get
    But my husband is the one who does, this I can not forget
    I'm not the one who fires the weapon, who puts my life on the line
    But my job is just as tough. I'm the one that's left behind
    My husband is a patriot, a brave and prideful man
    And the call to serve his country not all can understand
    Behind the lines I see the things needed to keep this country free
    My husband makes the sacrifice, but so do our kids and me
    I love the man I married, Soldiering is his life
    But I stand among the silent ranks known as the Army Wife

    So today I send a shout out to you who have so inspired me to take life one step at a time, breath, and laugh:  

    Karie, who has loved and lost so much. Nikki, who makes me laugh every day and reminds me not to take life so seriously. Becca, who makes classy military-inspired decor. Megan, who is transitioning from an active military life to a retired military life and shares her story. Wife of a Wounded Soldier, who gives insight to the struggles our wounded soldiers face upon coming home, while staying positive and helping others in the same position. And Charity, whose blog I have just recently started reading, but is an amazing wife and mother of three.

    You all are so amazing and I feel so blessed to have come across your blogs. Thank you for sharing your stories.

    Wearing a yellow ribbon until they all come home.