Saturday, May 21, 2011

With Tongue in Cheek.....

Somebody sent me an e-mail forward the other day - Nine Words Women Use. In the interest of maintaining domestic tranquility in our happy hacienda, I'm not going
to share it verbatim, but I thought I would come up with something like it that does not center only on women but deals with the same theme. I'll call it For Better Or Worse, Words We Use. Including what men say, and what is meant by what is said.

For instance, IT'S SIMPLE -ANYBODY SHOULD UNDERSTAND. Often shared by men, especially when talking about electronic equipment or maps. I've heard it from women as well; for instance, when a man leaves a key ingredient out of something he's cooking, like eggs from egg rolls. Or a man's response when A woman has a problem with a cell phone or TV remote control.

WHY DON'T YOU STOP AND ASK? A woman's reaction to man who is lost while driving.
Man never gets lost while driving a car; confused perhaps, but never lost. Classic example: the time in Florida I passed the same church three times while going in circles trying to get back on the main highway.

LOUD SIGH. It doesn't take a word to express frustration; a sigh will do it and the sigh comes in different forms, loudness, length of sigh, and tonal quality.

WHAT? Either the question was lost by hearing aid failure, or by distraction. Often followed by a LOUD SIGH or the words, NEVER MIND.

I'LL DO IT MYSELF! A common female statement when the stud of the house has been asked to do something four times and won't leave a TV football game until half time.
And by that time he may have forgotten what she asked for in the first place.

THANKS! A nice expression by either the male or female of the house. Be careful, though if it comes out, THANKS A LOT! that may indicate sarcasm.

SILENCE. I don't mean the word, it is the unspoken word that is a concern. This often is accompanied by a glare or sneer and it says more than any word or phrase can convey. This element of non-verbal statement has been known to last for several days and eventually the cause may be forgotten. "I know I'm mad at () but I can't remember why." Then comes the challenge of trying to forgive and forget.

I DON'T CARE! Chances are somebody does and it is worth trying to understand whether this is just a casual pass of the torch regarding a restaurant selection or whether there is a deeper meaning. Usually somebody DOES care but it is hard to determine the extent of the statement. A degree in psychology will help solve the dilemma.

I don't want to forget THE LOOK which often speaks much more loudly that any spoken word. Valid for men and women alike. And yes, there are different looks = consider Nancy adoring look at Ronnie or Maria's more recent look at Arnold,

You can probably think of a dozen or so more words or expressions. I'm sure you have phrases or expressions of your own. My hope is that you are aware of these situations and are prepared to respond in a constructive. I don't always understand, and I don't always say the right thing at the right time. But I'm a survivor and I'm glad for that.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Memorial Days Remembered

It was Memorial Day 1947. Solemn observance of the day was taking place in every village and town around the region I lived in. As part of my job writing and editing for a weekly newspaper I was located several hundred feet over the largest cemetery in our area. In a sputtering World War Two surplus T-13 Vultee "Vomiter" aircraft using Blue Sunoco Regular gasoline at an octane far below 100 octane aviation fuel.

My editor was looking for a special way to develop a story recognizing the sacrifice of military and naval persons who died in World War Two. Thus it was arranged that I would be placed in the backseat of a well-worn aircraft, with the cockpit canopy open, so I could drop flowers over the cemetery. during the ceremony below. I was equipped with a grocery store paper bag filled with lilac blossoms. Over the cemetery I was to empty the sack of flowers into the slip stream of the aircraft.

I did what I was told. I haven't the vaguest idea whether anyone below saw any flowers. After all, I had no bombsight or other way the estimate the trajectory (or trajectories) of probably fifty or more small clumps of flowers. I just tossed them over the side never realizing that any one of them could have been caught in a tail control surface perhaps affecting flight of the aircraft. The crux of the story was that it was the first and only time that town was bombed. Fortunately no damage was done.

I was severely reprimanded by my father for flying in a decrepit airplace, out of a primitive airstrip and, in the process, scaring my mother half out of her wits when we buzzed my house. To say the least, it was an adventure.

Sixty years later, In Oscoda, Michigan, we recognized Memorial Day in a much more significant way. A few miles north of Oscoda you'll find a simple, small white church in the midst of a forest. It's been there a long time and is a Chippewa Indian Mission church. Years ago it claimed a good-size congregation; today attendance is much smaller because the Native American population in the area has dwindled. However, there is still a core of people with Indian ancestry who still attend. I really appreciated the times we went out there for Sunday services; it was one of the most accepting congregations I have ever known.

So, on Memorial Day recognition of veterans became a very special experience for me.
The picture shows one the the ceremonies at the Indian Mission cemetery. It's the "smudge" ceremony and every one in attendance becomes involved. The photo above shows this special observance. You can see many of the grave markers behind the celebrant, as well as a tall marker listing Indian veterans who had died in conflicts over the years serving their country. You can't see it in the picture but the cemetery has a multitude of small crosses with the simple word "unknown" painted on them.

Without a doubt, this was one of the most meaningful Memorial Day recognitions I've ever attended. If the crosses with "unknown" on them could only have told their stories. I hope each person who reads this takes time to reflect on those who have passed before us. They are the history of our lives.

Friday, May 13, 2011

You Never Know About Some People

Sometimes I just take life for granted - roll with the punch when something goes wrong and celebrate the good things when they happen. Some people have wild swings when stuff happens good or bad. But sometimes we tend to take people who write religious things for granted - because we sometimes perceive them as having a deeper faith than we do - therefore I, for example, tend to experience a gap between me and them. After all, God has given them a special gift.

I always perceived people who write for Guideposts (and other faith-based literature) as having a deeper,more personal relationship with God and I envied them.
For instance, I visualized the Editor of Guideposts Magazine as having led a solid spiritual life and thus was preordained to go into the ministry. The above book tells an altogether different story. Edward Grinnon went through terrible times in his life - times that hardly equated with a Christian ministry of sharing hope with the millions of people who read Guideposts. His new book is a frank exposition of a life way down in the pits - one that might have killed him. Yet, he was led to a new and productive - and inspiring - life. I'd like to compare it to Paul's Damascus Road experience. It was a book so intense I virtually read it in one sitting. Likewise, I commend it to everyone I meet.

Beyond that, he also was the author of a small book titled "101 Moments of Hope" which came as a gift with the purchase of the other book. When he was asked to write a devotional thought the first time he protested saying it wasn't his thing to do.
But his boss said write about life - write about your own life - and though he protested at first, he came up with something about a disagreement he and his wife were experiencing. Somehow the solution involved making guacamole. Turns out he left something out and he believed it a failure. His wife pointed out he had the materials at hand and together they resolved the guacamole problem, and together solved the personal tension they had contended with. Thus it became evident that personal things in life can become the basis of short thoughts about contending with - and perhaps celebrating - life. So, To me, the message is that everyone has a story to tell. Something that might bless someone else who might be struggling with a tension in their own lives.

One of our sons has said, a number of times over the years, that he would like to do some writing but complains that it never seems to come out right no matter how much editing he might do. I had an uncle the same way. They felt what they wrote had to be perfect. However, I've discovered the joy of writing is not perfection. The joy is in just letting feelings and experiences pour out and not dwelling on structure or gramatical perfection. Thus, writing has become enjoyable. I'll never make a million but I'll have a million dollars worth of fun as I write.

Let me offer a word of encouragement -check out these books - they will open your eyes and inner being to a new and simple sense of wonder and marvel in another person's life.

Thank you Edward Grinnan, for reinforcing my belief that writing can be fun - and life can be fun - so long as I don't try to be something I'm not.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

You've Heard of the Headless Horseman...., know, the old traditional Hallowe'en story by Washington Irving.

Well, now, in honor of Mothers Day, I want to introduce you to the headless mother. the one second from the left in the old, old picture. I can say old now,because if she were still alive I would be in a serious heap of trouble.

I'm sure she is watching down from heaven now and is already in forthright discussion with Saint Peter and his boss about what kind of a son I was since I didn't always live up to her expectations.

I have no idea what year the picture was taken but I would venture to say it was before 1910, but Mom was never one to discuss age. My mentioning age could be another thing she might be discussing with St. Peter. So to redeem myself a bit, I need to focus on some other sides of her life.

She was a wonderfully creative person. A prolific poet and short story author. I recall seeing poems shw wrote in very old issues of St. Nicholas Magazine. Like in the early 1900's. She wrote articles for the Villager Magazine of the Bronxville (New York) Women's Club, at the time - a group of very sophisticated and prominent ladies of the time. I believe the club still exists and perhaps the magazine as well. She also served as a staff member of a major magazine (I like to think it was McCalls) back before she was married. And I like to think it was her joy in writing that I inherited and still treasure. (Thanks, Mom!) I remember her prancing around the kitchen with ballet steps in our old house on the hill (when it was still primitive) and I remember her working for two days straight to get her recipe for spaghetti sauce just right. I remember her genius at putting together hilarious shows for Grange. And she had a real gift for restoring old dolls and doll clothing.

Apart from that, she kept wonderful flower gardens, and a lovely house (complete with a "French" room that was off limits except on special occasions. I remember one time that we could not leave her house to head home until she had finished watching her soap opera, and I remember her coming downstairs one time complaining that I had my bumpty bump bump music up too loud (she did not care for the boosted bass on my stereo). Most of all, I remember her love and support when I was a child and most surprising of all, when I was a teenager.

So, Mom, I send my love, and thanks. I hope I haven't turned out too bad and I offer thanks for all the encouragement she gave me 'back when'. She had real class and I'm still proud of her. And I hope the smaller picture will give you an idea of the beauty of a real lady - my Mom.