May each of you have the heart to conceive, the understanding to direct, and the hand to execute works that will leave the world a little better for your having been here. -- Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

New Year Wishes

New Year's Greetings!
May you get a clean bill of health from your dentist, your cardiologist, your gastro-endocrinologist, your urologist, your proctologist, your podiatrist, your psychiatrist, your gynecologist, your plumber and the IRS.
May your hair, your teeth, your face-lift, your abs and your stocks not fall; and may your blood pressure, your triglycerides, your cholesterol, your white blood count and your mortgage interest not rise.
May you find a way to travel from anywhere to anywhere in the rush hour in less than an hour, and when you get there may you find a parking space.
May. . . evening, December 31, find you seated around the dinner table, together with your beloved family and cherished friends, ushering in the new year ahead. You will find the food better, the environment quieter, the cost much cheaper, and the pleasure much more fulfilling than anything else you might ordinarily do that night.
May you wake up on January 1st, finding that the world has not come to an end, the lights work, the water faucets flow, and the sky has not fallen.
May you ponder how did this ultramodern civilization of ours manage to get itself traumatized by a possible slip of a blip on a chip made out of sand.
May what you see in the mirror delight you, and what others see in you delight them.
May someone love you enough to forgive your faults, be blind to your blemishes, and tell the world about your virtues.
May the telemarketers wait to make their sales calls until you finish dinner, and may your check book and your budget balance and may they include generous amounts for charity.
May you remember to say "I love you" at least once a day to your spouse, your child, your parents, your friends; but not to your secretary, your nurse, your masseuse, your hairdresser or your tennis instructor.
May we live as God intended, in a world at peace and the awareness of His love in every sunset, every flower's unfolding petals, every baby's smile, every lover's kiss, and every wonderful, astonishing, miraculous beat of our heart. -Author Unknown

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Renee Fleming "Ave Maria"

A Holy Christmas to everyone.

A Christmas Note

A Christmas Note

This evening when I put my computer to sleep, it'll remain so until the first of the year. A philosophy book I'm reading now,"The Black Swan", at the end of the chapter I've just completed, makes what turns out to be a serendipitous observation reflecting what I'm thinking and doing regarding this. "I propose that if you want a simple step to a higher form of life, as distant from the animal as you can get...shut down the television set, minimize the time spent reading newspapers, ignore the blogs. Train your reasoning abilities to control your decisions. ... This insulation from the toxicity of the world will have an additional benefit: it will improve your well-being. You do not have to do much more in order to gain a deeper understanding of the things around you." This appeals to the erudite autodidact hermit in me.

I'll be spending time with my brother (who gave me "The Black Swan") and fiance' in LA, talking about ideas, art and music. We will share meals and have soaring conversation. This will help me remove some of the toxicity of the world from my intellect, emotions and spirit. There are things now in my life not right, and are troubling me. My Christian friends say put these things in God's hands; they are quite right. It is also right that we must make decisions, based on God's guidance.

When I get back on line, I'll be writing about the Crusades (not what you were taught about them), Islamism, atheism, and the "dark ages" (not what you were taught about them), and evil (some people think there is no such thing), and of course theology, and the spirit filled life. Of course there will be my silliness, fun and humor too.

I thank everyone that takes the time to read my blogs. There are many, and I'm humbled. To all I wish a Holy Christmas, full of fun, family, food, and fellowship. For the new year, may it be a fulfillment of what you need, want and desire for yourselves and your loved ones. May the Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make His face shine upon you, And be gracious to you: The Lord lift up His countenance upon you, And give you peace.

Mary Did You Know...Kathy Mattea

My favorite arrangement and singer (oh what a voice!) of this song.

A Christmas Story

T he brand new pastor and his wife, newly assigned
to their first ministry, to reopen a church
in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October
excited about their opportunities When they saw
their church, it was very run down and needed
much work. They set a goal to have everything
done in time to have their first service
on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews, plastering walls,
painting, etc, and on December 18
were ahead of schedule and just about finished.
On December 19 a terrible tempest - a driving
rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days.

On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church.
His heart sank when he saw that the roof had
leaked, causing a large area of plaster about
20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the
sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about
head high.
The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor,
and not knowing what else to do but postpone
the Christmas Eve service, headed home.
On the way he noticed that a local business was
having a flea market type sale for charity so he
stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful,
handmade, ivory colored, crocheted tablecloth
with exquisite work, fine colors and a Cross
embroidered right in the center. It was just
the right size to cover up the hole in the front
wall. He bought it and headed back to the church.
By this time it had started to snow. An older
woman running from the opposite direction was
trying to catch the bus.. She missed it. The pastor
invited her to wait in the warm church for
the next bus 45 minutes later.
She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor
while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put
up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor
could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and
it covered up the entire problem area..

Then he noticed the woman walking down the center
aisle. Her face was like a sheet.. "Pastor,"
she asked, "where did you get that tablecloth?"
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check
the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were
crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials
of the woman, and she had
made this tablecloth 35 years before, in Austria.
The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor
told how he had just gotten the Tablecloth. The
woman explained that before the war she and
her husband were well-to-do people in Austria .
When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.
Her husband was going to follow her the next week.
He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her
husband or her home again.
The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth;
but she made the pastor keep it for the church.
The pastor insisted on driving her home, that
was the least he could do.. She lived on the other
side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn
for the day for a housecleaning job.

What a wonderful service they had on Christmas
Eve. The church was almost full. The music and the
spirit were great. At the end of the service, the
pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door
and many said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognized
from the neighborhood continued to sit in one of the
pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he
wasn't leaving.
The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on
the front wall because it was identical to one
that his wife had made years ago when
they lived in Austria before the war and how
could there be two tablecloths so much alike.
He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he
forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was
supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and
put in a prison.. He never saw his wife or his home
again all the 35 years in between.

T he pastor asked him if he would allow him to
take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten
Island and to the same house where the pastor
had taken the woman three days earlier.
He helped the man climb the three flights of
stairs to the woman's apartment, knocked on
the door and he saw the greatest Christmas
reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story - submitted by Pastor Rob Reid,
Who says God does work in mysterious ways..
I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for
you today, to guide you and protect you as you go
along your way. His love is always with you, His
promises are true, and when we give Him all our
cares you know He will see us through.

So when the road you're traveling on seems
difficult at best.. Just remember I'm here
praying and God will do the rest.

When there is nothing left but God, that is when
you find out that God is all you need. Take 60
seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply
say the following prayer:

Father, bless all my friends and family in what
ever it is that You know they may be needing this
day! May their lives be full of your peace,
prosperity and power as they seek to have a
closer relationship with you. Amen.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Remember this as Christmas Time

According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, while both male and female reindeer grow antlers
in the summer each year, male reindeer drop their antlers at the beginning of winter,
usually late November to mid-December.
Female reindeer retain their antlers till after they give birth in the spring.

Therefore, according to EVERY historical rendition depicting Santa's reindeer,
EVERY single one of them, from Rudolph to Blitzen, had to be a girl.

We should've known...
ONLY women would be able to drag a fat man in a red velvet suit
all around the world in one night and not get lost.

Gesu Bambino medley - Pavarotti & Joan Osborne


(A folk legend from Germany and the Ukraine)
O nce upon a time, long ago, a gentle mother was busily cleaning the house for the most wonderful day of the year.... The day on which the Christ child came to bless the house. Not a speck of dust was left. Even the spiders had been banished from their cozy corner in the ceiling to avoid the housewife's busy cleaning. They finally fled to the farthest corner of the attic.

T'was the Christmas eve at last! The tree was decorated and waiting for the children to see it. But the poor spiders were frantic, for they could not see the tree, nor be present for the Christ child's visit. But the oldest and wisest spider suggested that perhaps they could peep through the crack in the door to see him. Silently they crept out of their attic, down the stairs, and across the floor to wait in the crack in the threshold. Suddenly, the door opened a wee bit and quickly the spiders scurried into the room. They must see the tree closely, since their eyes weren't accustomed to the brightness of the room... so the crept all over the tree, up and down, over every branch and twig and saw every one of the pretty things. At last they satisfied themselves completely of the Christmas tree beauty.

But alas!! Everywhere they went they had left their webs, and when the little Christ child came to bless the house he was dismayed. He loved the little spiders, for they were God's creatures too, but he knew the mother, who had trimmed the tree for the little children, wouldn't feel the same, so He touched the webs and they all turned to sparkling, shimmering, silver and gold!

Ever since that time, we have hung tinsel on our christmas trees, and according to the legend, it has been a custom to include a spider among the decorations on the tree.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Breath of Heaven Amy Grant

The Christmas Pickle

This was made for me by my talented friend and supervisor, Kathy, at the Nevada Cancer Institute. Who knew?? A Christmas Pickle. It says:

The Christmas Pickle Story
In Old World Germany,
the last decoration placed on the
Christmas tree was a pickle
~carefully hidden in the branches.

Legend says that the one
who found the pickle on
Christmas Day would be blessed
with a year of good fortune

and a special gift!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Renée Fleming-O Holy Night

Oh my Oh my Oh my...

Trees and Herbs

Although the Christmas tradition of adornment with floral decorations has been traced back to the Roman festivities of Kalends, the Christmas Tree has more modern German origins. Records indicate that Christmas trees were sold in Alsace in 1531; in 1605 a German citizen wrote; 'At Christmas, they set up fir trees in the parlours...and hang thereon roses cut out of many-colored paper.' Folklore has long associated Martin Luther as an early champion of the Christmas tree-crediting him (probably erroneously) with inventing the practice of lighting tress with candles. The British love of Christmas trees is usually linked to Prince Albert who, in the 1840's, did much to make the tree part of the British Christmas. Records indicate, however that Queen Charlotte had a Christmas tree in Windsor as early as 1800. The most famous Christmas tree in Britain is that which stands in London's Trafalgar Square. Presented by the people of Norway each year since 1947, the tree is a symbolic gift of thanks for the role Britain played during the Second World War, and the sanctuary King Haakon VII was given in 1940.

Festive Rosemary- rosemary (Rosmarinus officianalis) was a popular Christmas decoration in the 19th century. St Thomas More said of it: "Tis the herb sacred to remembrance and therefore to friendship." The choirboys of Ripon carried it on Christmas morning as a sign of redemption. A number of legends link rosemary with Christmas: it is said that the herb's purple hue derives from the robes of the Virgin Mary; that its aroma comes from the swaddling clothes of Christ; that the plant will never grow taller than Christ; and that if a rosemary bush lives longer that Christ's 33 years, it will branch outwards not upwards. Because of these associations with Mary, it is said that rosemary grows best 'where the mistress is master'.

-Schott's Almanac

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Christmas - The Word

The word "Christmas" is from the Middle English "Christemasse", and in Old English "Cristes mæsse". The compound meaning of these is "Christ's Mass" and was first used circa 1030 AD. "Cristes" is from Greek christos and "mæsse" is from Latin missa. In the early Greek testaments, 'X' is the first letter of Christ, which I guess some could use to validate their use of the spelling 'Xmas'. I'm sure that people using this form learned it from studying ancient Greek.

Dickens on Christmas

'There seems a Magic in the very name of Christmas." - Boz

"What's Christmas time to you but a time for paying bills without money; a time for finding yourself a year older, but not an hour richer. ... If I could work my will every idiot who goes about with 'Merry Christmas' on his lips should be boiled with his own pudding. and buried with a stake of Holly through his heart."

"Our invariable custom ... everybody sits down with us on Christmas Eve, as you see them now - servants and all; and here we wait, until the clock strikes 12, to usher Christmas in, and beguile the time with forfeits and old stories." - Mr. Wardle

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future" -Scrooge

(My most favorite Christmas card ever said, "Steven, thank you for keeping the spirit of Christmas alive all year.") Let's all keep the Magic all year!

Facinating, said Mr. Spock

True Facts about the Human Body & Other things...

As you age, your eye color gets lighter.

There are 206 bones in the adult human body, but 300 in children (some of the bones fuse together as a child grows).

The human eye blinks an average of 4,200,000 times a year.

It takes approximately 12 hours for food to entirely digest.

The longest living cells in the body are brain cells which can live an entire lifetime.

There are more living organisms on the skin of a single human being than there are human beings on the surface of the earth.

Marilyn Monroe had six toes on one foot.

Lorne Greene had one of his nipples bitten off by an alligator while he was host of "Lorne Greene's Animal Kingdom".

Life expectancy for Russian men has actually gone down over the past 40 years. A Russian male born today can expect to live an average 58 years.

In 1985, the most popular waist size for men's pants was 32. In 2003, it's 36.

Seven percent of Americans claim they never bathe at all.

In 2004, one in six girls in the United States enter puberty at age 8. A hundred years ago, only one in a hundred entered puberty that early.

Newest trend in the Netherlands: Tiny jewels implanted directly into the eye.

A British gymnast survived a fall from a fourth story window because he went into a somersault and came down on two feet.

Jeffrey and Sheryl McGowen in Houston turned to vitro fertilization. Two eggs were implanted in Sheryl's womb, and both of them split. Sheryl gave birth to two sets of identical twins at once.

In 1991, the average bra size in the United States was 34B. Today it's 36C.

The average North Korean 7-year-old is almost three inches shorter than the average South Korean 7-year-old.

Every year, 2700 surgical patients go home from the hospital with metal tools, sponges, and other objects left inside them. In 2000, 57 people died as a result of these mistakes.

We forget 80 percent of what we learn everyday.

Pain is measured in units of "dols". The instrument used to measure pain is a "dolorimeter".

The Amish a diet high in meat, dairy, refined sugars and calories. Yet obesity is virtually unknown among them. The difference is since they have no TVs, cars or powered machines, they spend their time in manual labor.

As of January 1, 2004, the population of the United States increases by one person every 12 seconds. There is a birth every eight seconds, an immigrant is added every 25 seconds, but a death every 13 seconds.

Astronauts cannot burp in space. There is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs.

The liquid inside young coconuts can be used as a substitute for blood plasma.

Fidgeting can burn about 350 calories a day.

Wearing headphones for an hour increases the bacteria in your ear 700 times.

A baby is born without kneecaps. They appear between age 2 and 6.

Women blink nearly twice as much as men.

In a recent survey, Americans revealed that banana was their favorite smell.

The arteries and veins surrounding the brain stem called the "circle of Willis" looks like a stick person with a large head.

Brushing your teeth regularly has been shown to prevent heart disease.

A kiss stimulates 29 muscles and chemicals causing relaxation. Women seem to like it light and frequent, men like it more strenuous.

Men can read smaller print than women; women can hear better.

Your nose and ears never stop growing.

Men get hiccups more often than women.

Human teeth are almost as hard as rocks.

Every time you lick a stamp, you're consuming 1/10 of a calorie.

The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.

Human thigh bones are stronger than concrete.

Your heart beats over 100,000 times a day.

Your ribs move about 5 million times a year, every time you breathe.

One quarter of the bones in your body are in your feet.

Like fingerprints, everyone's tongue print is different.

Fingernails grow nearly 4 times faster than toenails.

The average person laughs 15 times a day.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Gifts of the Magi

Gold- The gold presented by Melchior is thought to be 30 gold coins minted by Thara and a Golden Apple once owned by Alexander the Great. Some claim that gold is a symbolic representation of the infant Christ's royalty.

Frankincense- A fragrant resin from the African tree, genus Boswellia, frankincense has been used in many cultures as a form of incense in religious services. Gaspar presented frankincense to symbolise the divinity and worship of Christ.

Myrrh- Myrrh has long been associated with death and the anointing of the bodies of the dead. Myrrh is a gum resin of genus Commiphora. It is said that Balthsar presented myrrh to Christ as a symbolic prophecy of his death.

fm Schott's Almanac

Monday, December 8, 2008

Straight No Chaser - 12 Days (Most fun arrangement ever!)

Me and Erudite

Me and Erudite
Category: Life

erudite [air-rude-ite]

Adjective: having or showing great academic knowledge [Latin erudire to polish]

Word History: One might like to be erudite but hesitate to be rude. This preference is supported by the etymological relationship between erudite and rude. Erudite comes from the Latin adjective .. "well-instructed, learned," from the past participle of the verb .. "to educate, train." The verb is in turn formed from the prefix ex-, "out, out of," and the adjective rudis, "untaught, untrained," the source of our word rude. The English word erudite is first recorded in a work possibly written before 1425 with the senses "instructed, learned." Erudite meaning "learned" is supposed to have become rare except in sarcastic use during the latter part of the 19th century, but the word now seems to have been restored to favor.

Over the years people have complimented me on how smart/intelligent I am, and though I've accepted the compliment graciously, or humorously denied it, I've always been certain it's untrue. I got C's and D's in elementary school, did better in high school with a few A's and B's and an occasional C, then in college, after my liberal arts requirements were completed, nearly straight A's. The A's were due to my having a focus on my passion, and nearly all graded work was of research and essays. In school though, I spent more time studying stuff not covered, and reading writers not discussed. Teachers have their ruts to, so the same authors, books and ideas were re-hashed every year. Boring, boring, boring.

I'm reading a book of philosophy right now, which I'll be blogging on when I wrap my mind around the concepts (this is very cool stuff), and the author used the word 'erudite'. I remember the word from long ago, but had never used it, and didn't remember the definition. When I looked it up, I realized that people recognized that I was erudite.

I've have struggled daily, all my life, learning new stuff, and getting it to stick in my head. Even things I'm passionate about don't stay unless I work in memory prompts and tricks. I occasionally re-listen to some memory tapes to help me from losing ground. I have Outlook pop ups to keep me on schedule, to remind me of where I'm supposed to be. Before that I had a Franklin Planner I carried everywhere. Now I have a PDA, and next year a smart phone that I can program to help me keep knowledge and events and schedules. The PDA will get retired like the planner.

The thing is, we all need to, regardless of whether we're 'smart' or 'erudite', constantly work to improve our minds. Read those things that challenge us, that stretch us. (If you're not a reader, get an audio book). The body is a bit different. It just takes some work and discipline to manage the process of aging so health issues don't keep us from improving the quality of our lives. If you work at enhancing your knowledge and maintaining your body, you become a better communicator, co-worker, friend, lover. Pick up something you haven't tried in a while: biography, history, philosophy, a science book, math. "Kaizen" is a Japanese word for 'constant improvement'. Just little steps, gradual, daily movement toward the better. I think it was Brian Tracy that recommended we focus on a mind set of 2% improvement per day. I should go back and do this; I had "2%" on my mirror so I saw it every morning getting ready for my day. Hmmmm, no should, I'm doing it today.

Lots of people say you can't do something. On the flip side I've heard too that I couldn't do something. Wasn't capable, smart enough. Amazing how that works. You're smart, you're a idiot, yet you're the same person. Early on I figured this out. My Jr. High PE coach said that I shouldn't bother to try out for sports in High School, I wasn't good enough at sports. I ended up a record breaking distance runner and three year letterman (missed being a four year by one point). My high school coach figured it out about me too. Before a meet, he had a hand out, with who needed to place 1st, 2nd or 3rd in what events for us to win a meet. He would put my name in second or third, or as not placing; that'd tick me off and I'd win or place higher. Great coach. I was told I couldn't sing so I joined the church choir while in high school, and now sing all the time. I was terrified of heights, so in the Navy I volunteered to be the guy to climb to the top of the mast to do maintenance on the radar antennas. If you're young don't believe the negative things said to you or about you; if you're a seasoned citizen, or becoming one, go after the new.

Be erudite, be courageous, practice kaizen.

T'was the Month Before Christmas

*Twas the month before Christmas*

*When all through our land,*

*Not a Christian was praying*

*Nor taking a stand*

*See the PC Police had taken away,*

*The reason for Christmas - no one could say.*

*The children were told by their schools not to sing,*

*About Shepherds and Wise Men and Angels and things.*

*It might hurt people's feelings, the teachers would say*

* December 25th is just a ' Holiday '.*

*Yet the shoppers were ready with cash, checks and credit*

*Pushing folks down to the floor just to get it!*

*CDs from Madonna, an X BOX, an I-pod*

*Something was changing, something quite odd! *

*Retailers promoted Ramadan and Kwanzaa*

*In hopes to sell books by Franken & Fonda.*

*As Targets were hanging their trees upside down*

* At Lowe's the word Christmas - was no where to be found.*

*At K-Mart and Staples and Penny's and Sears*

*You won't hear the word Christmas; it won't touch your ears.*

*Inclusive, sensitive, Di-ver-si-ty*

*Are words that were used to intimidate me.*

*Now Daschle, Now Darden, Now Sharpton, Wolf Blitzen*

*On Boxer, on Rather, on Kerry, on Clinton !*

*At the top of the Senate, there arose such a clatter*

*To eliminate Jesus, in all public matter.*

*And we spoke not a word, as they took away our faith*

* Forbidden to speak of salvation and grace*

*The true Gift of Christmas was exchanged and discarded*

*The reason for the season, stopped before it started.*

*So as you celebrate 'Winter Break' under your 'Dream Tree'*

*Sipping your Starbucks, listen to me.*

*Choose your words carefully, choose what you say*


not Happy Holiday !*

Please, all Christians join together and

wish everyone you meet during the

holidays a

Christ is ʽThe Reasonʼ for the Christ-mas Season!

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Different Christmas Poem

A Different Christmas Poem

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

'What are you doing?' I asked without fear,
'Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!'
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said 'Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night.'
'It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at 'Pearl on a day in December,'
Then he sighed, 'That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers.'
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of 'Nam',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.'

' So go back inside,' he said, 'harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right.'
'But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
'Give you money,' I asked, 'or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son.'

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
'Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.'

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Monday, December 1, 2008

Phone Call

I got a call last night from Aunt Merldine. She and Harvey have been married for 53 years. I remember as a kid in the mid 50's them pulling up to Grandma and Grandpa's ranch in Oregon in their Austin Healey. They had a really cool speed boat too. She's now 80 and Harvey is 78. They still are energetic and involved. She's involved in everything in Pendleton. I think they lived there since 1946, with a few brief moves in between. Everybody knows them. A few years ago I was visiting, and there was a street fair. We went downtown, and I don't think there was a person out of the hundreds that didn't greet them by name. I went on a tour of the underground city where the Chinese laborers and their families lived back in the old days, and the young woman that was the tour guide often got interrupted by Merldine with some obscure bit of history. The guide just took it in stride. She probably knew Merldine too. Merldine was a member of the Pendleton Historical Society and every other civic group in town, and volunteers for everything.

With a little of that background, the reason she called. She has some pictures and other family items that she wanted me to take. I'm more than glad to, and let her know that a project I had set for myself next year was to go on and get the family entered. Of course she hasn't heard of the website; she said all she knows about computers is that there's a power button. She got all excited when I explained it to her, and that I needed all the names and locations of what she can remember. I'm expecting a box...she remembers everything. A story she told me was she was sent back to Nebraska while still in elementary school, and had to ride a horse with the sisters to and from school. She has pictures of them then. In those days, girls couldn't wear pants, so they had to wear dresses and ride, even in the winter. Their pony was a Shetland, and she said they are just plain mean, and would just as soon kick and bite as anything. The pony's name was Cupie. The pictures were taken with a Browning, and in those days, the whole camera had to be sent in so the film could be taken out and processed.

I'm looking forward to delving into the family's past. I've looked up my Dad's side of the family, the Rafalowskis, on the Ellis Island website, and I think it must be the equivalent of Smith. A huge number of people came from Poland with that name. Dad is passed, so I'll have to find some other resources. A new historical and mental adventure coming up!!