Thursday, October 29, 2009

Cool Auntie Award

I'm excited and have to share.

My niece loved her pop-up Cinderella book I got her for her 4th birthday. What little girl wouldn't love this book?




My sister told me that she really liked the birthday card I sent too. It was a Cinderella card, of course. Niece screamed over and over when she opened it, "Its Cinderella! Its Cinderella!" My sister said she has been reading the book to her every night now and Niece always asks for it to be read again. Heck, I'd just want to go through and turn all the pages to see everything pop up.

When I called them last night, my sister put Niece on the phone and in her little, high pitched 4-year-old voice, she exclaimed, "I LOVED THE BOOK!!" "I'm going to be Cinderella for Trick or Treat." "I'm going to be a Princess!"

I reminded her that she already was a Princess. She replied, "Yeah!"

Oh to be a little kid again and to believe with your whole self that you ARE a Princess!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An interesting Day at the Museum, a Chat with a WW2 Woman Marine

Sundays are usually pretty slow.

Today at 9:30, three two buses pulled up. We had a group of JrROTC kids and a group of senior citizens. Their trips to DC were side tracked because they couldn't get into DC because of the Marathon. About an hour later, another bus rolled in. This one was carrying Wake Forest Alumni who had been up to Maryland for the WF/Navy football game.

I gave two tours. I'm tired.

I have a great story. A woman marine from the World War 2 era came in with her daughter and son-law. They asked me if there were any displays on women Marines in the museum. Three cheers for me listening and taking copious notes at our docent meetings! The museum recently published a special pamphlet about women Marines and where there are displays about them.

I chatted with the lady for a short bit and got her story. She was in what was suppose to be the last female boot class in 1945. The war had ended, she said, and they were looking to let all of the women Marines go...but everyone wanted out, so they needed to keep the women, who performed administrative duties, to do all the paper work for everyone getting out of active duty and going on reserves.

I asked her why she joined the Marine Corps. She said she had always wanted to be a Marine. Why? She said she didn't know, she just always liked the Marines so when she was old enough to join that is what she did. She also married a Marine and was a Marine wife for 22 years.

She said it was tough being a woman Marine because they were very strict with them. They were never granted overnight liberty and they had to be in very early in the evening. I asked if they were doing that to protect them, I mean, there were probably a lot of women who were from small towns and Washington, DC could be dangerous. "The Marine Corps was stricter on us than our parents were," she replied.

"They would kick a woman Marine out for the smallest infraction. For the 'good of the service'."

I asked what kind of infractions. She told me the following story.

" Once a group of us from Henderson Hall had the day off so we walked across Arlington Cemetery and over the bridge into DC to go watch a movie. When we left the theater there was a horrible rainstorm. The only place we could go inside and wait for a bus was a little bar. So, we ordered a pitcher of beer. One gal had only had half a glass of beer and she was acting all silly, like she was drunk. We didn't think she could be but she was. We got on the bus and road back to Henderson Hall. When we got off the bus, we ran to the gate so we'd get in on time and this gal fell. We had to be inspected when we returned and this girl we stood her between us because she was muddy from the knees down, hoping they wouldn't notice, but they did. She was kicked out the next day, 'for the good of the service.'

I was once restricted to post for a week. You know the summer uniforms we had? [I did, we have the uniform on display in the WW2 gallery]. Well, I starched the hem so it would lay nicer, we'd do that. I got caught, wasn't suppose to do that so I was put on restriction."

She was in the Marine Corps for 2 years when she married her husband, a 1st Lieutenant. Since she was a LCpl, it was strongly encouraged that one of them get out. So she did. She said she enjoyed every bit of being a Marine and then every bit of being a Marine Corps wife.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Where in the World....

I have not blogged in ages!

Funny, blogging used to be my "slap-it-up" there so I don't forget about something I've done so I can scrapbook it later. Lately, Facebook has become my "slap-it-up" there place. This is where I get into the meat of things.

Two weekends ago, I, along with some of the gals in my Bible Study group spent a wonderful weekend in Pennsylvania. I posted the photos and the stories (I had a major issue with following directions) only to have everything go *poof*.


So I have a ton. A TON of catching up to do.

Its coming. All the photos and gory details of the weekend trip AND today's dedication of the chapel at the Marine Corps Museum.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

40 on 40: My First Friends and Surviving Scary Mr. S

I'm not sure how we all met. I just remember we seemed to all be playing together from the beginning.

Camille and her brother Jamie, David and his brother Jason, Joey and my sister and I. For some reason, I remember more of us, but maybe that was it.

David and Jason had a dog named Boo. He went everywhere the boys went. We'd run up and down the street and play at every one's house. We were a tricycle/Big Wheel gang if there ever was one. We would run up and down the side walk, often times into Clover Street, as it seemed that no one ever drove their car down that road. Lots of laughing, squealing, yelling and barking. Until HE came out.

"He" was the dreaded, scary, cranky, senile, mean Mr. S. I think he could hear a pin drop, if a child dropped it. Often times he'd send his poor suffering wife out to yell at us. You couldn't touch a blade of grass in his yard or he'd know it and would stand at the door and yell. He even preferred we not touch his side walk. He was scary. I think we all thought he'd eat little children lie the witch in the story Hansel and Gretel.

I remember one sunny day we were all playing with Boo following us gang of kids. He was barking gleefully, his tongue flopping about as he dashed and hopped among us. Mr. S. came out and yelled for us to "shut-up" and he called the dog pound to take Boo. Jason started to cry and we all ran to our mothers. I think Camille's mom came out and stood on his front side walk and yelled back at him. That he should be ashamed of scaring little kids and what a horrible man he was. The complaint had been lodged, Boo was running around without a leash. I don't remember Boo running around the neighborhood with us again after that.

For my sister and I (yes, I have 2 sisters, but the second sister wasn't born yet), the only save place from Mr. S was either inside our house or at someone else's house. If we sat on our swing set and sang songs at the top of our little lungs, he'd come out and yell. If he could see us from his kitchen window, he'd come out and yell.

One summer, my mom planted green beans along the fence. I remember the terror of being sent out to pick those green beans. I cried, I wouldn't do it because I'd have to go into Mr. S's yard. My mom yelled at me to go pick the beans. Boy talk about a dilemma!

Touch a blade of Mr. S's grass and be eaten alive or get spanked for disobeying my mom.

I went to pick the beans.

Sure enough, the first grass blade broken must have set alarm bells ringing. Mr. S. came out in a rage! I ran back into our house. My mom walked back out determined that I'd pick those beans and Mr. S. would have to suck it up. He yelled at my mom, something about the beans on his side of the fence belonged to him. My mom yelled back and sent me marching to what I thought was my death, to pick those darn beans. My mom stood on the back porch of our house, arms crossed, staring Mr. S down. I timidly crept along Mr. S's side of the fence, picking the beans while Mr. S yelled. I peed my pants I was so scared.

Eventually, several years later, Mr. S died. When he did, it was like new life had been breathed into his wife. Instead of yelling at us when we sat and sang on the swings, she'd compliment us on our pretty voices. My youngest sister befriended the S's grandchildren, who came to visit once Mr. S was dead. She'd play with them on the front porch, their yard or in their house, places that to us older kids would have meant certain death.

Friday, October 9, 2009

40 on 40: Memories - - A Blessing or A Curse

I remember a lot of things.

From a writer's perspective, a long, detailed memory is a great gift. I always wanted to be a writer - - what happened how did I get side tracked? Maybe I just hadn't experienced enough life, created enough memories. Writers are told in every workshop to write what you know. Well, what do I know?

I used to think I knew a lot. But then I started learning things and realized how much I really don't know. Ironic how that is, isn't it?

A long, sharp memory of things long ago. Sometimes it is a blessing. Other times it is a curse. There are things I'd like to forget - - like the almost 4 years I was married to my X husband or ...well some other things I'd like to not share.

The earliest memory I have is of my parent's Rawson Avenue apartment. I was maybe 2 or 3 years old. I remember a dark linoleum floor in the kitchen, dark wood cabinet doors and I was playing with a tooth brush and the push buttons on a desk lamp my dad had. The memory itself is not extraordinary. The fact I can remember that snippet from that long ago and its not something traumatic is what is extraordinary.

Other early memories are vague, nondiscript, such as getting up at the crack of dawn , turning on the t.v. to watch the crackling black and white test pattern. Apparently, I did this often. I only have a single memory of doing this.

I was terrified of my uncle Babe. I don't know why. I knew I didn't want to be held by him when my parents did the "Pass the baby around" thing.

There are things I wish I could remember like the time I climbed out of the baby bed, scaled the diaper table, opened a jar of Vaseline, dipped my little hands into it and proceeded to rub globs of the petroleum jelly into my wispy baby hair. I then toddled into my parents' bedroom and woke them up with greasy hand pats to the face. For some reason, this seems like a fun memory to have - - but its reconstructed from my parent's memories.

I remember my parents buying the Hayes Avenue house. I don't remember the move. I do remember my dad taking me into the room that would be mine and asking me what color I wanted the walls. Looking out the window and picking at the paint on the window sill, I said, "Blue".

I think my dad was surprised by that. I like the color blue.

The Hayes Avenue house was next door to my grandparents. That was nice.

Our house had stood empty for a couple years before my parents purchased it. I remember the house being kind of scary. The floor were carpeted with a wool Berber that 20 years before had been a pretty rose color, now faded to beige. The plaster on the walls and ceiling was cracked and falling off in places. There was a large white enamelled 1950s sink in the kitchen and a huge pantry with floor to ceiling cabinets. The floor was a rainbow flecked linoleum.

The scariest place in the house was the basement. At the bottom of the dark stairway was a monster of a furnace. Its door looked like a cavernous monster's mouth, ready to gobble up an unsuspecting child. The laundry bin for the laundry chute was behind the "monster". A baby sitter once tossed our clothes down the chute and my sister and I melted down into horrified screaming and crying, certain that the monster that lurked in the basement had eaten our clothes and would then come get us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

40 on 40

In anticipation of my upcoming 40th birthday, I decided I would pen a few blogs regarding the past 40 years. I doubt I'll get 40 blogs completed in the next 40 days. 40 on 40 just sounded kind of catchy.

Let me just say, my first sentence is already a lie. I'm not "anticipating" my 40th birthday.

I'm in denial.

Yes, denial.

I can't be 40 already. I can't be. 40 is .... so... so.... well, so old. I don't feel like I'm 40. O.k. sometimes I do feel like I'm 40, all those darn hurdles I fell over when I was younger.

I don't look like I'm 40?

Do I?

The one thing that I can say about reaching this milestone in life is:
"Its not at all what I expected."

What did I expect? I expected I'd be married. I'd have kids. I'd be living in an above average single family home. I'd have a successful career. My husband would have a successful career. I'd be thinner. I'd have traveled more. I expected my life to be more exciting, not as ordinary as it seems to have been. I had some big dreams.

I often wonder if my parents are disappointed in how I turned out and where I am in life. Like I said. I had some big dreams. I wonder if they had some expectations. I feel I have fallen flat or come up short on the expectations that I had. For some reason I always felt like I still had time. However, as the days march down to my birth date, I realize the expiration date on many of those expectations and dreams has been reached and surpassed.

Has anyone else felt this way when you hit the big 4-0?

Those of you who knew me way back - - where did you expect to see me. When you friended me on Facebook were you surprised? Or was it what you expected?

While the first 40 didn't turn out how I had planned, its all o.k. If I average out all the peaks and valleys, everything ends up being a straight line to right here. Its all quite ordinary.

Thank goodness!

I mean, who wants to be a train wreck?

Maybe while I reminisce about the last 40, I'll figure out what direction to head in for the next 40. Those of you who know me and remember some of what I write about, I welcome your comments (positive and negative). I'm writing from my perspective. Your perspective is also valued. Its like "the rest of the story".

When this project is complete in 40 days, I'm going to collect it all up - -all your comments, shared photos if anyone has any and posts any, and I'm going to put it all in an album. I'm sure when I'm 80 I'm going to get
a big kick out of it.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

"Ordering" a General about and Ignoring Another

I swear, put a camera in my hands and I become fearless.

I didn't like the picture so...

"General, General! One more."

It wasn't really "Ordering" it was more like a very insistent request. In all honesty, General Mattis could have told me to 'shove off' if he didn't want another photo taken, a do-over shot, with the soldier. I don't think General Mattis is like that. I'm sure he could be to a really annoying photographer. Which I hope I wasn't.

I showed both photos to the young man and explained why I insisted upon the second photo, the one I posted below.


The wounded warrior explained that in the first photo the General asked him for his "Warrior" face. I explained to the young man that he looked much better smiling.

After I had taken the second shot, another man next to me said, "You know that other gentleman is General Myer's former Joint Chief?"

EEEK! They don't wear rank on tuxedo jackets. Retirement from military life has done well by General Myers. I didn't recognize him.


Heck there were other people there that had I recognized them would have been quite interesting to talk to, including a gentleman who as a young Navy pilot, had spent 7 years in the Hanoi Hilton. I didn't even catch his name.

Last night, I attended an event put on by Families of the Wounded. This organization raises funds to help support the families of wounded warriors so they can be near their loved one during recovery. I should have grabbed a program so that I could tell you everyone's names, but I didn't. (and I wonder why I didn't make it as a journalist?)

It was a really neat event observe. For me, the goose bump moment was when everyone in Leatherneck gallery sang "God Bless America".

I really enjoy photographing General Mattis. He's such a personable man. I can tell why people are drawn to him and his Marines like him so much.


From a photographer's perspective, he maintains an "open posture". Its like he positions himself in a group so that a photographer can take a candid photo of him chatting with everyone and you can see everyone's faces, or a part of their face.


He is just so good about working the crowd too. He's comfortable with having his picture taken.

I need help from my docent friends identifying some of the people (like below). The man on the left is a retired Marine Corps General, he led the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America. He and General Mattis are old buddies and General Mattis asked me to take this picture.


General Mattis with the two wounded warriors honored at the event and the President of the Wounded Warrior Fund.


General Mattis was the keynote speaker. It was a very serious speech about the need to provide for the care of not just the wounded warriors but their families. I did videotape the speech but have not reviewed it. If it the lighting and sound are o.k., I'll post later in the week.


One of the soldiers honored. The woman standing next to him is his mother who has been with him through every step of the recovery process. He had grave arm and leg wounds due to an IED.


The other young man honored is below, his father is to his left. This young man was also injured by an IED.