Sunday, June 19, 2016

Heroes

I had the fortune to see a presentation by Michael Durant, the pilot who survived his downed Black Hawk helicopter during the Mogadishu attack in 1993. You may remember the movie, "Black Hawk Down" which tells that story. Durant was the only survivor from his crew and was held captive for 11 days until he was finally released. He has written a book, "In the Company of Heroes" and serves as a consultant to the military. He is married and the father of six children. He is a hero in my book.


Lost

I was off on Wednesday and decided to take a day trip to Tennessee to see a cousin. It was a beautiful day. Rain was expected later in the day, but the drive was filled with sunshine. It's less than two hours away and the road is through some of the prettiest country scenes imaginable, with hills and hollows and farms and pastures in the distance.

My cousin and I had a good visit and went to lunch at a Mexican restaurant. I wanted to leave before dusk, as I don't have a GPS, but thought that I knew the roads like the back of my hand. I usually drive with my daughters and they have GPS. Up until a few years ago, I still followed maps and depended on Map Quest.

I was only about 30 minutes on my way home when the storm clouds opened up and a torrential downpour came beating down. Tree limbs were falling left and right in the road. On the road I usually take home, a tree had fallen in the road and was blocking the way. Cars were turning around. I followed two other cars, assuming they would lead to a detour. They eventually left me. I kept driving, thinking that surely I would see a sign or something. Nothing. I was driving the back roads of Middle Tennessee, lost in one hollow after another and no phone service. After about 15-20 miles of driving in the storm I came upon a little country church and pulled over. Phone service at last! I called my daughter and she was able to give me directions home from my location. 

It took me three hours to get home, twice as long as it should have. I am so thankful I found that little church. The storm had subsided by then and as I ran through the drive through at a fast food restaurant  the girl at the window pointed out, "Look over there. That's a beautiful double rainbow."

And there was. 




Father's Day


Today is Father's Day.

My father was a career soldier. He joined the Army after he graduated from high school and knew nothing but hard work from an early age. My mother was a stay-at-home Mom. They were young parents and raised five children. Although they divorced when I was grown they kept us together for 20 years and always put the family first. When money was tight, my Dad would take extra jobs to put food on the table. My parents took cleaning jobs on nights and weekends and eventually started an antique clock and restoration business. At one time we had over 30 clocks hanging on the walls, many of them chiming on the hour and half-hour.

I remember my father sitting at the dining room table many nights as he polished his brass and spit-polished his boots.

I remember my father getting up before daybreak and dress in his uniform to make PT by 6 a.m.

I remember especially the time he returned from Vietnam, surprising us as a cab dropped him off in front of our house. He got to meet my baby sister for the first time. She was 9 months old.

I remember the many moves we made across the country and overseas, tackling the moves and keeping up with five kids, ages 2-12. When we went overseas we had to wait more than a month to get our household goods and all of our belongings, not to mention, the family car. My parents were champions to get us enrolled in new schools, find us temporary housing, and never lose any of us at the airport!

My parents always managed to get us what we wanted for Christmas. I had to have a guitar when I was 13 years old. Standing next to the Christmas tree that year was a real guitar, just for me. I needed money to go to London on a high school trip when we lived in Germany. He managed to come up with the funds. The older I get the more I appreciate what my parents did for us, too often with limited resources.

My Dad helped my buy my first car at the age of 19. I had saved $700.00 and he loaned me the other $700.00 to buy a red Volkswagen beetle. I paid the loan back.

When I was a teen-ager, like every young person, I thought my parents were too strict. My siblings and I didn't have the freedoms that young people now have. There was no dating or "hanging out" before a certain age. We had household chores to do. It was ingrained from an early age that we were a military family and our actions could influence my father's career.

My father wasn't a soapbox type of Dad. He didn't lecture us a lot. We knew what was expected of us.
He showed us what it meant to have a work ethic. He didn't have to tell us what it is.
He showed us what is meant to be patriotic by serving his country.
He showed us what it meant to be responsible by taking care of his family.

I'm sure there are a lot of Dads just like him. Let us honor them today.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Movie Reviews

I am a big movie fan and look for movies with strong and sympathetic characters.

Here are a few that I've seen in the last few weeks. Our local library has movies that can be checked out, including a good selection of foreign movies. I also like to browse the FREE movies on my cable network. 

"Room"  This is a new release and the lead actress (well deserved) won the Academy Award for Best Actress. I was a little apprehensive about seeing this movie because of the premise of the story, but it turned out to be different than what I expected. "Ma" is a young mother who was abducted as a teen. She and her five-year old son live in a shed. The abductor is a shadowy figure (thankfully the filmmaker did not make this a graphic movie). "Ma", whose real name is Joy, has created an imaginary world for her little boy, as he has never been in the outside world. But now he is getting older and she realizes that he is getting smarter and more aware, so she plots an escape from this hell. This could have been a very dark movie, but it is ultimately about love and the resilience of the human spirit.

"Wit"     This movie, with Emma Thompson, came out about 15 years ago. It is a stark and real portrayal of a cancer patient. Professor Vivian Bearing speaks to the camera as the intellectual that she is. There is a poignant scene of one of her professors coming to see her in her final days and reading a children's book, "The Runaway Bunny." A caring nurse is played by singer and actress Audra McDonald. "Wit" is based on a Pulitzer-prized play written by a former teacher, the only play that she has written.


"The Boat is Full"     Nominated for a Best Foreign Language Film in 1981, this is a movie that takes place during World War II. A group of refugees escape to Switzerland and are discovered in a barn by an innkeeper. The innkeeper's wife wants to help them, but her husband wants to turn them into the police as was the law at the time. I don't know if this was a true story or not, but it was more than likely based on true events. At the end of the movie we see the refugees walking across a bridge, not knowing what the future holds. It is only in the postscript that we find out.

"Goodbye Solo"     I found this gem of a movie as one of the free Sundance movie offerings on my cable network. This movie is about two different men. Solo is an African cab driver in North Carolina and William is a gruff, elderly white man. William wants to end his life on a certain date and wants Solo to be his driver. He wants to go to Blowing Rock. Solo is charming, optimistic, hopeful and endearing. Solo wants a better life for himself. He used to be a flight attendant and has hopes of leaving his cab driving days for a better future. When he meets William he is intrigued by the private man and seeks to help him, even though the older man doesn't want his help. This is a wonderful movie. 


If you have a favorite movie recommendation please feel free to comment. Thanks!





Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day

Today was Mother's Day. It was a perfect day. My daughters surprised me by taking me to lunch at a seafood restaurant about an hour's drive from here in a quaint little riverfront town. The kind of southern restaurant that sits on the river and serves sweet tea and hot cornbread in little iron skillets and tin plates for the appetizers. The food was good and the service was great. They were prepared for a busy Mother's Day, seeing all the servers in their matching polo shirts.

Afterwards, my granddaughters wanted to buy some potting soil and seeds, so we made a trip to Home Depot. They miss the garden, so my daughter told them that they could grow a few things in clay pots. They wanted strawberries and heirloom tomatoes and marigolds and even bought some watermelon seeds (the small variety), so we will see how it goes. I was excited that the girls, ages 5, 9 and 11, would show an interest in growing things. They are outdoorsy kids and would rather walk around the block instead of staying inside. 




The drive home.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Be Still, and Know that I Am God

Whenever there is a crisis or a situation that I can't control I turn to this scripture.


The past few weeks have made me turn to this scripture more than once.

An old friend was diagnosed with cancer.

Another family that I know lost a son.

A young woman that I know was in a serious car accident and is still in a coma.

A young family member is undergoing a crisis.

And more...

We want to ask, "Why?"

My friend went from being a healthy person one day to becoming a cancer patient the next day.

While they were enjoying life after their retirement, my other friends are

mourning the loss of their son.

The young woman is a mother of a young child and now lies in intensive care.

These are things that we don't understand. We look for answers, but sometimes they aren't there.

The only thing that we can do is "Be still, and know that He is God."

New Dishes

One thing that I inherited from my German mother is the love of dishes. When she passed away she had no less than eight tea services! Thankfully, with four daughters we were able to split them up without having to sell any. The two services I inherited will go to my daughters.

I've always loved blue and white china and when my mother passed away my sisters gave me her blue and white pieces, like the ones in the picture below.


I spent half of today making room for my new dishes. Yes, I couldn't resist. A few weeks ago my oldest daughter and I were shopping at Belk, in the housewares department. The blue and white "Devon Cottage" by Johnson Brothers were on sale and being discontinued. My daughter found out that each piece was marked down to $5.99. For fine china that is a deal! I also had a coupon with an extra discount. "Come on, Mom," my daughter encouraged me, "Go ahead and get them, because you have been wanting these for years." So, I did. Now I have to invite some friends over for dinner or a tea party.