Thursday, April 27, 2017
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When I was fighting breast cancer, I dropped below 100 pounds. At 5’6”, that is danger territory. Between nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and just no appetite, my husband, the cook in our family since I went back to work after our second son was born, and my caregiver, did everything he could to entice me to eat. For most of the five months of chemo, my standard fare was Cream of Wheat, with water, not milk, boiled potatoes without even butter, Jell-O™, hummus with spears of fresh cucumber, popsicles and ginger ale. A couple of friends discovered I could eat ginger snaps, and kept me supplied.... (Read More ...)

Open Mike Night Jirani Coffeehouse Manassas, VA “Is it Vintage?” “No, I made it.” She was talking about the silk dress I made 46 years ago. The silk had come from Thailand, where my husband bought it on a Rest and Recreation (R&R) trip from his one-year tour in Vietnam. He had admired the long au dai (pronounced ow-zai) dresses Vietnamese women wore, so I picked a pattern that looked like them – a full-length column dress with a slit up to the waist, worn over black pants. I’ve probably worn it three times – the last time on our 25th anniversary, in Hawaii. This... (Read More ...)

How to Lead a Full Life Guest post by Randy Freed Here’s a little list of suggestions for my grandchildren on how to life live fully every day: First, cultivate a rich inner life and a rich outer life Expose yourself to lots of ideas. Read plenty of good books Marinate your soul in natural beauty. Get outside and smell the roses, and look at the sunrises and sunsets. Take up music or drawing or some other way to get your creative juices flowing. Get some exercise in a way that’s fun for you, and that you can do all your life. Keeping your body in tune is very good for the soul and the mind. Plan... (Read More ...)

W. J. Beal Botanical Garden, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) East Lansing, Michigan. Winter quarter at Michigan State started just after the New Year in 1967, the middle of my sophomore year. I was rooming with my best friend, Roomie. She’d warned me when we first moved in together that she snored like a freight train and not to wake her up; she wasn’t in distress. As it happens, I could sleep through a fire engine in front of the house, so once I heard her snore, and satisfied myself that she was not in trouble, I went back to sleep. I’d... (Read More ...)

Marigolds (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Columbus, Georgia/Ft. Benning.  In the middle of January, my husband left for a month of training in Indianapolis. We missed our first anniversary together. The next year he would be in Vietnam on our anniversary. By the third year, I no longer even knew when it was, mistaking it for years with the day we met, only two days later. By four months, our son was smiling and turning over. By six months, he was crawling. I washed the kitchen floor daily after I saw my son spitting bubbles of drool onto the floor, then licking them up. At six months, he was eligible... (Read More ...)

Fort Sill, Oklahoma, 1943. 155 mm. howitzer. The 155 mm. howitzer, firing on the Fort Sill, Oklahoma artillery range, provides a mass of heavy, high-angle firepower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Macon, Georgia. On January 2, 1968, he called me. He’d received his expected draft notice. A student deferment for college was changed to a Peace Corps deferment when he enrolled in Peace Corps training. But, after training, he decided not to continue with the program and dropped out, to return to school and graduate on time. His draft status reverted to 1A – first to be called. Knowing this, his first... (Read More ...)

A boy in a children’s swimming pool. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) Atlanta, Georgia/Long Binh, Vietnam. Once again, we missed being together on our anniversary. It was not until the next year, our third anniversary, that we were together on the day. By then, I’d forgotten which day it was. For years, I thought it was two days later, January 26, which was, instead, the anniversary of the day we’d met. I settled into a routine. I enrolled for a class at Georgia State University, to continue working on my Bachelor’s degree. I applied for baby-sitting jobs advertised in the paper,... (Read More ...)

The Eiffel Tower. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) The summer I turned 19 was the last time I lived at home and the end of my parents’ nearly nine years in Texas. I started my sophomore year at Michigan State that fall. Within four months, I had met the boy I was to marry and my parents had moved to Georgia. To be sure he was the one, I went to Switzerland the next summer, at the end of my 19th year, to study French. On the way there and back, I spent a total of five days in Paris. It was 1967. I sent postcards back home. While I do not have copies of them, I can imagine what I might have said. I deceived... (Read More ...)

Technical Sergeant Ricardo A. Chavez is a military training instructor at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) It was the summer between my Freshman and Sophomore years at college. It would be the last summer I spent in Richardson, Texas, and the last summer at home. Six months later, I’d meet my husband. The following summer, I’d be studying French in Switzerland. A few months after that, I’d be married. My father, an amateur photographer, had, until this house, always had a dark room where he developed his own prints. In recent years, with color film, he’d... (Read More ...)

Clifford Berryman’s (April 2, 1869 – December 11, 1949) political cartoon of President Theodore Roosevelt’s bear hunting trip to Mississippi that gave the Teddy Bear its name. Was published in 1902 in The Washington Post (Photo credit: Wikipedia) My first, and all-time favorite, teddy bear was a tiny, six inch tall, stuffed panda bear. It was the kind that my mother was not allowed to wash, so my last memories of it were a dirty white and black toy that had almost all the plush worn off. I lost it under the motel bed where it had fallen on a family vacation when I was in elementary... (Read More ...)