coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Thursday, September 10, 2020

There are no suckers or losers in the U.S. Military #3 - last one, I promise

 There are no suckers or losers in the U.S. Military.

My 5th great grandfather, Jesse Rector, served as a foot soldier in the Revolutionary War. Jesse and his older brother James both participated in the siege of Yorktown, culminating in Lord Cornwallis' surrender to George Washington on 19 Oct 1781. According to the Yorktown national Historical Park literature, "The American victory at Yorktown, the last major battle of the American Revolution, secured independence for the United States and significantly changed the course of world history
One of his son’s, Isaac Rector, applied for membership in the Sons of the American Revolution based on Jesse’s service. He wrote as follows:
“My knowledge of my father’s service as a soldier in the Revolution is derived from what I have heard him say on the subject. I have often heard him speak of being a soldier in the Revolutionary War. He belonged to a Virginia regiment of militia organized early in 1781 and disbanded soon after the surrender of Cornwallis. He served with his regiment at the siege of Yorktown and was present at the surrender.
I have heard him say when his regiment reached Yorktown our lines were six hundred yards from those of the British, and that before the surrender they were moved up to within three hundred yards. He said that at the latter distance our troops could hear the crashing of the walls of the houses within the town as they were knocked down by our artillery. He said as the British General Cornwallis marched up through Virginia, he gathered up all the good horses he could find. After the surrender our troops found he had many of the horses killed or driven into the river and drowned to prevent them falling into our hands; that the tide washed many of them ashore and that the air was foul with the odor of their decaying carcasses.
He said he saw the British troops march out and stack their arms and spoke of the angry manner in which some of the soldiers put down their guns. He also spoke of the fine music he heard by the bands on the French fleet after the surrender."
--Isaac Rector, 1891

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

There are no suckers or losers in the U.S. Military #2

My father enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He participated in the Campaign for the Liberation of the Philippines in 1944. His ship was at the second engagement in the Battle of Leyte Gulf. One of the hallmarks of this particular military campaign was the Japanese introduction of kamikaze pilots. Kamikaze is a Japanese word meaning "divine wind" and these suicide pilots sank 17 U.S. ships and damaged 50 more in the battle for Luzon in the Philippines as they flew obsolete planes into American ships, hoping to do considerable damage to the U.S. fleet.

As a machinist, Dad worked below in the ship. He remembered hearing a kamikaze plane hit the ship next to his, which sunk as a result of the attack. He said it was extremely loud and the ship he was on shook so much that he thought it was his ship that had been hit. When he realized it was another ship that was hit, he ran up 3 flights of stairs to see what was happening. Men from the damaged ship were jumping into the water to escape the fire on board. My father volunteered to help rescue them and spent the rest of the day pulling men both living and dead out of the Pacific. One rescued man was burned over 90 percent of his body. Although he did not know the man, Dad volunteered to stay by the man’s side. For three full days and nights he stayed with the stranger, changing his bandages and simply not leaving the man alone with horrible pain. The man died, but not alone.
Fuck you, Donald Trump.

Do you have a story to tell about a brave U.S. military man or woman from your own life? Does it hurt your heart to know our president thinks they were suckers and losers for serving their country? I'd love to read about it. Democrats need to reclaim the moral imperative in the U.S. We have been misunderstood for too long.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

There are no suckers or losers in the U.S. Military

 There are no suckers or losers in our military. All should be honored for their service.

This is my Uncle Joe. He served in World War II. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii with what was then known as the Army Air Corps. On 7 Dec 1941, he was walking back to the barracks after attending mass when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The heel of his shoe was hit by flying shrapnel, but Joe was not hurt. After Pearl Harbor, he was assigned to Canton Island, a South Pacific coral island, where he helped to operate one the first radar facilities. Later, he received a transfer to Europe. Joe was a tailgunner, flying bombing missions over Germany. The first week in December 1942, on his 13th mission, the B-17 was shot down over the Black Forest. The crew parachuted to safety. All survived but the pilot. Joe hid in an abandoned farmhouse for 4 or 5 days. He melted snow to drink, and in one of the houses he found one egg, flour and sugar. His feet froze, and he wrapped them in old rags. He decided to try to make it back to the American line. He was dressed up as an old lady, and the Germans spotted him crossing a river. He was captured and imprisoned at Stalag Luft 4 POW Camp Gross Tychow, Germany. He was liberated at the end of the war. Fuck you, Donald Trump.

Uncle Joe with his mother and his youngest brother after he returned from the war.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Down, but not out.

 I'm having a hard time writing blog posts. It's more inability than reluctance. 

I like to write first thing in the morning. However, I also try to exercise (biking, walking) in the morning as well. In the heat of the summer it is imperative to get out there very early, so my early morning creative routine is kind of shot until the Florida heat and humidity subsides.  

I will admit to being "a little" shell shocked of late. It's hard for me to focus. I should relax, ignore the political noise and re-center my self in this beautiful, yes beautiful, world.

Still, that hateful Trump and his evil cohorts try to distract us from beauty and goodness every damn day.  The unrealized poet in me is convinced he is the Devil, the anti-Christ. I am gobsmacked that people who think they are good Christians follow someone like him. In my fevered dreams they follow him straight to Hell.  

My Tennessee Grandmother was my own personal Pentecostal saint. She was known to talk in tongues when the spirit moved her. My Grandma was the personification of goodness, and she worked hard at understanding the difference between good and evil. She would never have voted for Trump. Like Kamala Harris, she knew a predator when she saw one.

Grandma taught me to say "Get behind me, Satan" when I was overwhelmed with worry or distraction. I haven't said that phrase in a long, long time. But I'm saying it today.

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

I strive for balance

I find myself thinking of my grandmother. She was kind, good, and loving. I want, so much, to be the kind of grandmother to my grandkids (and great-grands) that she was to me. But I have a mean streak. I think it comes from her husband, or maybe her son. They were both troubled souls. I don't want to be like them.  

So I try harder to be good, saving the meanness for those who deserve it. Who knows, perhaps fighting back is a gift? Am I diminished or enhanced by trying to control this darkness? Anger has proven both useful and righteous from time to time.

I know I cannot swallow my anger whole or I would lose my mind. It is important for me to digest it bit by bit. I sing to it until it falls asleep. Then I try to put it to bed without waking it up.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

A walk around a small lake

Many housing developments are built around small lakes in Central Florida. One in particular, called Oakland Park, has done a terrific job of protecting some of their green space. A beautiful walk around their lake is open to the public, and we often bike there in the morning to take that walk. One of the highlights is the preponderance of little blue herons that build their nests and raise their young in cypress trees surrounding a wooden dock.  Let me take you on that walk:

cypress knees

a couple of sandhill cranes walking around the neighborhood

probably a night heron hiding behind some Spanish Moss

yellow canna, pickerel weed

very old, very big live oak

beauty berry

here's the momma little blue heron with her new born fluff balls

and here is the daddy little blue heron, a few yards away

muck reflecting green leaves

Monday, July 20, 2020

Try to imagine.

My daughter and son-in-law's a/c went out the other afternoon in this terrible heat and humidity. They had to wait until 10:00 pm for the repairman; he was that busy. The poor guy went to the wrong house (next door to M&M, where the crazy Christian neighbors live) The neighbor man got all freaked out that a black man was knocking at his door at 10 pm. He yelled at the a/c tech and called the repairman the n-word.  

The a/c man was quite shaken by the overt racism. But still, he found the right address and knocked on THAT door to fix the problem and finish his day. My son-in-law went with him to check on the a/c components outside so that no one would freaking shoot him. 

It is my white privilege that even allows my mind to be boggled. This is what people of color have to endure every damn day. 

Sunday, July 12, 2020

A day that is completely mine

I woke up about 7:00 am this morning.  With my eyes still closed, I allowed myself to stay in bed.  I slowly came to consciousness, awakening to a day that will be completely mine.  Sleeping without an alarm clock is one of the big payoffs in retirement.  It just never gets old.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Tales of Bullying and Meanness: The Marathon Man

My tormentor was the faculty chairman of an academic department at the university. He disliked me, but when I asked if he wanted me to find another job he said no. He wanted to bring me down, teach me my place, perhaps destroy me. He would come into my office, shut the door, and harangue me for hours. Not every day, but certainly every week. He was afraid of the other faculty, which included his wife. Berating me was his only avenue for achieving authority. 

Because I was the manager, he was my supervisor for the 3 year term he filled. There was always a new chair, every 3 years. I could hold on. I didn't want to give him the satisfaction of chasing me away. Perhaps I should have left, but I didn't. Call me foolish, but I like to win.

He had to give me a final performance evaluation about a month before his term ended. It lasted, on and off, for a day and a half. I'm not kidding. Hours and hours of him asking me questions he could then use my answers against me. It was quite odd.

I reminded him a performance evaluation is a time for a supervisor to review the employee's work performance, and give constructive feedback to help the employee improve. Instead, we danced around his hatred for me. Just him and me. On and off for 2 days he asked me questions, and I tried to answer them very carefully.

Finally, he asked what I thought about working for him. I replied "Working for you is like running a marathon in 90 degree heat, with the flu." He was a runner, so I knew he'd understand. That ended the "review." A month later his term was up, and I had a new department chair who was quite wonderful.  I won, sort of.

alone and waiting

Monday, June 15, 2020

Alligator's Delight

9:22 am
The powers that be re-opened the wildlife drive near me, where there are scads of alligators and birds to view safely from one's car. It had been closed because of the pandemic. Apparently the alligators are more plentiful than ever, and lie in the road now. IN the road, not alongside it like the pictures below. After a couple of months with no cars, they think they own the place.

We usually go for a bike ride (or a walk) every morning.  Today my knee is "hinky" and I'm going to take a day off to rest it.  My husband took this as the opportunity to bike on the aforesaid drive, which I am usually reluctant to do. He's there now. I KNOW he's going to ride his bike around the lounging gators. 

I told him to be safe.  That's code for "don't underestimate the alligators." He laughed and said he would.  Sheesh.

11:53 am  He's back, He was careful.  Yay.