Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Because you matter.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Saluting all Soldiers, 
past and present, 
this Memorial Day weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Remember This Face

See this man?  

The first  time I saw this photo I remember thinking, “Gee, he looks like a nice guy. Kind smile.  Twinkle in his eye.  Bet he’s fun.  The kind of man who wants to head over the hill to see what lies at the horizon’s edge.”

What I didn’t see was the personal demons.

A friend shared this picture, pleading for all of us to keep an eye out for him.  He’d served multiple tours in Iraq.  He’d been injured.  Worst of all, he was in trouble.   Not just the understandable struggle to get back to what most of us consider every day “normal”.   He was finding just existing a struggle.  Next to the photo was my friend’s plea, “Help us find our brother! PLEASE. In spite of his quirks, he’s dealing with a ton of demons as a result of injury and severe PTSD. With numerous deployments under his belt he was afraid, even in a "healing environment" to reach out. HELP US HELP HIM!”

And I wanted to.  It was that most basic human instinct to do something which made me want to reach out and tell him someone was listening.  That even if I couldn’t begin to imagine what he’d been through, I still cared.  Because we’re both human.  People hurt.  They struggle.  But if we can only reach out to each other and connect, there is hope.

For whatever reason, he didn’t grab the hands reaching out for him. Maybe he couldn’t. Perhaps he was the victim of an overwhelmed V.A. which too often is in the position of putting bandaids on wounds which run deep...and pushing soldiers toward the exit before that wound has healed. Maybe his attempts ended up in missed connections.  Maybe he just no longer had the strength to try.  And that’s a hard truth to swallow because it means the finger of guilt points back on all of us.  Did I personally send this man to war?  No.  I don’t condone war nor did I vote for those who made the choice to send him to Iraq more than once.  But choices have consequences…and a small part of me realized that by allowing others to do the fighting while we stay safely at home, the consequence must be shared by all of us.

This was today’s update, in the local newspaper.  “...had been reported missing last week. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound Wednesday afternoon in a northwest Gainesville apartment.”

And that is what I will think about this Memorial Day weekend.  The man  with a kind smile who could not embrace the help that some were so desperately trying to offer. He shouldn’t remain just a nameless face.  A stranger.  A casualty of war.  He was Larry Vantassell, age 51.  He was probably important to someone.  He should’ve been important to all of us for his service. 

This weekend is not about Memorial Day sales, backyard cookouts or the first “unofficial” day of the summer season.  It’s about remembering.  It’s about understanding that people who go to war come back changed.  It’s realizing that invisible wounds leave scars. 

It’s about continuing to reach out to those who are troubled, even if they ignore your hand at first.  If your hand gets slapped, keep reaching. They were there for you.  We need to return the favor.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Got It Covered

Most people go on vacation to some far off, magical place.   Some of them travel in style, some travel with kids screaming in the backseat as Dad threatens to "pull the car over and give you something to cry about."  I'm doing the "Staycation" thing this week, meaning I've escaped my work desk for two weeks to do whatever I want that doesn't involve work.  I'm trying to make that include housework as well.  Although May has usually turned into the "home improvement" vacation....

The only "kid" at our house is the infamous Boudreaux, a 105 lb. Chocolate Lab who is both enthusiastic AND laid back. You can't say "go" or "ride" in the same sentence because he literally scrambles for the front door...which can be funny on hardwood floors, unless you're the floor.  If he could, I'm betting he'd yell "Shotgun!" on his run to the truck.  He's SO enthusiastic, tail wagging hard enough to knock down a redwood tree, lip curled back and grinning like Elvis Presley.  He takes a running leap into the vehicle, settles down on the backseat...

...and promptly goes to sleep.

I swear it's like there's a switch in his head connected to the gear shift of the truck: shift into DRIVE and he shifts into NAP.  He'll stay that way until (a) there's a change in vehicle speed (b) someone says "Look at that!" or (c) he suddenly comes to the conclusion that he'd rather have his head out the window behind the driver.

So on this vacation, I know Bou will be the most laid back of us all.  He's content just to be with his peeps, although I do get more popular come dinner time.  And yes, his internal dinner bell strikes at 6:15 p.m as Hubby's shop is suppose to close at 6 p.m..  If there are still customers, Bou will get up and stand at the door, staring at it as if it will magically open.  When customers inquire what's up with the dog, Scott will tell them. Bou will turn to glare at said customer, pitying how stupid people are who own watches.  Funny thing is, it works AND customers often apologize to Bou!

I tell you all this to illustrate how laid back Bou is.   Don't sweat the small stuff. Go with the flow.  That's our boy.  He has his rituals and nothing messes them up.  It's like he's on a permanent vacation and can't figure out why humans get so antsy about....stuff.

On the back of my loveseat in the living room is an afghan Hubby had made for me after Bou's dad Smokey died. That story can be found here.  The side which hangs off the back of the loveseat has a fringe on it.  Every night I let Bou out to do his business and when he comes back inside, he walks UNDER the afghan so it can lightly scratch/tickle his back.  Most of the time he just walks away, grinning like Elvis.  The other day I heard a weird noise, then a sigh.  This is what I found.

This time the afghan fell across his back.  So Bou did what any laid back Lab would do.

He laid down and took a nap.  

He was actually snoring when I snapped this.  I was thinking how sweet it was that his "Dad" was covering him up as he slept.  Then I giggled because I realized it's not often the phrase "I've got your back" can be taken quite so literally. 

Excuse me while I go find Bou and let him teach me how to just let the world roll off my shoulders without a care.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday 55

It's Friday morning...did you gift the G-man with a 55 word story?  Don't forget to share it with him  and have a great weekend!

She’d experienced a year’s worth of work stupidity.
And it was only May.
Time for a vacation.
She left a note on her Boss’ desk.

There once was a woman named hope.
Who was close to the end of her rope.
But rather than curse
Came a 55 verse
In hopes Friday G-man won’t mope.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

For Savannah...The Pig Story

Okay, a promise is a promise, although it will be the condensed version.  Why?  Because I'm guessing you have better things to do.

In my memory, it's a story about killing time more than killing anything else.  I grew up in the era of the "one car family".  Perfectly normal and not an indication about the family bank account.  We took Dad to work some days so Mom could run errands.  This also meant we had to stop what we were doing in time to go pick him up from work.  During the summer this seemed like quite the sacrifice: stop playing to go sit in a car and wait?  Really?

Mom learned early on that if you had to wait more than five minutes, the heat would melt the halos on her little angels, dissolving them into little grumps.  Multiple that with windows rolled down, no breeze blowing and the ever persistent gnats of summer.  (Yes children, in the dark ages, the family car didn't have air conditioning either...a true crime in the southern sun!)

So Mom would tell us stories.  To me, the best ones were those she remembered from childhood, stories her Dad had told her.   Maybe I thought it meant she'd survived southern summers in a car as well.  My favorite was one about a man who found a gold coin and went to buy a pig.  Now you have to understand that the true "joy" of hearing this story was that it was repetitive, which kids love, and the longer it went on, the faster it was told.

So here's the condensed version, which I once read was actually an old English story...starring a woman instead of the little man in my tale. Not only did I love the sheer silliness of it, it also saved my bacon many a night babysitting little children who didn't want to go to bed.  Although the completion was always greeted with giggles of, "Again!", I usually managed to wear all of us out at the same time.  And yes, I probably tweaked the version in the retelling as well.  Here we go.

Once upon a time there was a little old man who was sweeping his front porch when he found a gold coin.  He decided to go to town and buy a pig.  So off to town he went, traded the coin for a pig and began the journey home.  When they were almost there, the man and the pig came to a stile, which was a small stepladder built over a fence.  The man said," Pig, pig jump over the stile or we won't get home before dark."

But the pig wouldn't do it.

So the man looked around and found a dog.  He said, "Dog, dog bite pig.  Pig won't jump over the stile and we won't get home before dark."

But the dog wouldn't do it.

[NOTE: to save time, I'll tell you here that the little man keeps going down the road and every animal/thing he asks for help ignores him.  Each time you repeat ALL the help he's asked for and the list keeps growing.  I'll now jump to the conclusion, so you'll get the gist of it and not fall asleep waiting for it all to end].

By now the man was very tired.  But he walked to the well and got some water for the Farmer.  The Farmer thanked him for the drink of water, then gave him the  hay.  The man took the hay to the Cow, who gave him some milk.  The man took the milk to the Cat, who drank it up and then do you know what happened?

Cat killed Rat, Rat gnawed Rope, Rope hung Butcher, Butcher killed Ox, Ox drank Water, Water quenched Fire, Fire burnt Stick, Stick beat Dog, Dog bit Pig, Pig jumped over the stile....and they got home before dark.  

The End.

And there you have it...The Pig Story.  To this day, it makes me laugh.  I was lucky enough to grow up in an era where imagination and make believe were fun and not an invitation to violence.  Wiley E. Coyote would go over the edge of a cliff *Poof!*, only to return and chase that silly Road Runner all over again.  Harmless fun.  

But I don't think I'd ever buy anything from the Acme company.  ;)

Monday, May 13, 2013

I Always Knew Astronauts Were Cool...

...but this just took it one step further.  

From a Galaxy not so far away, I give you Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield, who has just handed over control of the International Space Station and will soon be headed home.  And yes, HE is singing and playing the guitar.  Standing ovation Sir!

And tell me you won't be dreaming about a floating guitar tonight too, Map.  :)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Friday 55

Gather 'round kids, it's time to tell a 55 word story and share it with Uncle G-man, the caretaker of our Friday fables.  

“One bright morning in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight—”

“Whoa!” yelled the PC Police.  “You can’t tell that!”

“Hey, my grandparents told my parents. 
Oral storytelling is traditional.

“It’s  violent,” PC clucked.

“So are Fairy Tales and Video games.  
What happened to childhood innocence?”

“It’s obsolete.”

In case you don't want to be left hanging, even though there are probably other versions, the one Dad told went like this: 
"One bright morning in the middle of the night, 2 dead boys got up to fight.  Back to back they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.  The deaf policemen heard the noise and came and shot the two dead boys.  If you don't believe my lie is true, ask the blind policeman, he saw it all too."

Amazingly, I managed to grow up boringly normal in spite of such stories. That tale is tame compared to the one Mom's Dad told her, one we'd BEG her to tell us over and over again.  It all began with a little pig who refused to cross over a stile as a man was hurrying to get home before dark.... 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Your Musical Top Ten

Listening to the radio on my morning commute, the DJs were compiling a list of "Songs That ALL Kids Should Know".   They ran the gamut, with selections like...

Little Richard: Tutti Frutti

Billy Joel: Piano Man

Don McLean: American Pie

Bee Gees: Staying Alive

Elton John: Daniel (would've thought Benny and the Jets)

The Eagles: Hotel California

Tom Petty: Free Falling

Vanilla Ice: Ice, Ice, Baby  (Really?!  Although one DJ thought M.C. Hammer's Hammer Time was a better choice)

With a nod to Country (and the South) they included Charlie Daniel's Band: Devil Went Down To Georgia

I'm curious.  
What would make your Top Ten Musical List that you think kids should know?