When the kids were babies, we didn’t get out a lot. And when we did, it was a pretty big deal for us. So for us to go to Denver to see my grandpa for a picnic, it was an Outing Extraordinaire.
As long as there has been war, soldiers have fallen and survivors have remembered them. The Memorial Day we observe today had its genesis when the Ladies’ Memorial Association in Columbus, Georgia, passed a motion in 1866 to designate a day to throw flowers on the graves of fallen Civil War soldiers. For all the millions that have perished in our wars, every single one of them had their own story. Each had loved ones who would miss them, or a life that went unfulfilled. While millions is too big a number for our minds to grasp, one story can remind us of the sacrifice each made.
The following is taken from a letter written by Sullivan Ballou, a Major in the Second Rhode Island Volunteers. He wrote home to his wife:
July the 14, 1861
My very dear Sarah:
The indications are very strong that we shall move in a few days - perhaps tomorrow. Lest I should not be able to write you again, I feel impelled to write lines that may fall under your eye when I shall be no more.
I have no misgivings about, or lack of confidence in, the cause in which I am engaged, and my courage does not halt or falter. I know how strongly American Civilization now leans upon the triumph of the Government, and how great a debt we owe to those who went before us through the blood and suffering of the Revolution. And I am willing - perfectly willing - to lay down all my joys in this life, to help maintain this Government, and to pay that debt.
Sarah, my love for you is deathless, it seems to bind me to you with mighty cables that nothing but Omnipotence could break; and yet my love of Country comes over me like a strong wind and bears me irresistibly on with all these chains to the battlefield. The memories of the blissful moments I have spent with you come creeping over me, and I feel most gratified to God and to you that I have enjoyed them so long. And hard it is for me to give them up and burn to ashes the hopes of future years, when God willing, we might still have lived and loved together and seen our sons grow up to honorable manhood around us.
If I do not return, my dear Sarah, never forget how much I love you, nor that when my last breath escapes me on the battlefield, it will whisper your name. Forgive my many faults, and the many pains I have caused you. How thoughtless and foolish I have oftentimes been! But, O Sarah! If the dead can come back to this earth and flit unseen around those they loved, I shall always be near you; in the garish day and in the darkest night - always, always; and if there be a soft breeze upon your cheek, it shall be my breath; or the cool air fans your throbbing temple, it shall be my spirit passing by. Sarah, do not mourn me dead; think I am gone and wait for thee, for we shall meet again.
Sullivan Ballou was killed a week later at eat First Battle of Bull Run.
International Hamburger Day
By its name, “hamburger” would suggest that it is a burger made of ham. But as we all know, though generally made of beef or bison, burgers can be made of many, many things, which generally speaking doesn’t even include ham in its long list. (Unless, of course, you want to include “Spamburgers,” which boasts “…two prime cuts of pork shoulder and ham, perfectly tender, spices, and water, packed in tasty goodness…” or something like that. I know. I’ve been to the SpamFest and the Spam Museum, in Austin, Minnesota. Spam helped win World War II you know. I saw their war dioramas and watched the museum movie. And have you ever had the Spam-kabob? Or Spam pizza? Spam fries? Spam bake? But I digress….)
Anyway, hamburgers come in many varieties. Even we vegetarians have our veggie burgers, our quinoa burgers, black bean burgers, and so on. If you can find a way to hold ingredients together, it can become a burger.
A few years back, my family and I went to a particular burger place and ordered dinner. Fortunately, this particular place had “veggie” burgers available, so after discussing it at length with our server to determine what kind of veggie burger they used (there is one I avoid because of allergies) I ordered one. When our plates were delivered, I took a bite—and froze! I did not have vegetables in my mouth. I could tell. I grabbed a napkin and spit it out, horrified that I’d just taken a bite of flesh (that’s how we vegetarians perceive it, since well, that’s what it is. Carnivores have different, more palatable names for it, which I can understand since you want it to be, well, more palatable, because you’re putting it in your mouth and chewing it and swallowing it and everything). I called the server over and opened my bun and showed her the meat burger on my plate. “I didn’t get a veggie burger,” I said. “This is meat.” She was impatient with me, miffed that I would bother her. “Well, what do you want me to do about it?” “I can’t eat this,” I said. “I don’t eat meat.” She reluctantly took away the plate. “Well, pick something else then.” I couldn’t even think of eating after that. I settled on a salad or something, which she didn’t bring until the rest of the family had finished their dinner, so all-in-all it was a failed experience of dining out, which was really sad since we got to go out about once every three months.
So bothered by the lack of care I was shown, I wrote to the corporate office and tried to explain how upsetting the ordeal was. The best I could do was paint a picture for Mr. President as if he himself were sitting at his table, enjoying the company of family and friends, and bit into his burger and found something odd, so inquired from his server and learned that he’d just taken a bite of Border Collie, or German Shepherd. I hoped that would convey my distress to him.
Apparently he got it. He sent his apologies. With several coupons to the same restaurant to have some more veggie burgers.
So on this international day of hamburgers, and this Memorial Weekend when grills are fired up all over the nation, maybe try something new, a unique burger you haven’t had before (a plethora of ideas is on the Spam website). Enjoy your loved-ones, have a tasty meal, pause for a time of remembrance for those who have lost their lives in service, and have a safe and meaningful weekend together.
And I mean it. Check out the Spam ideas, say, one with Bacon. How can that miss?
The old lady saw someone coming at a distance and went out in spite of the coming storm to see if her granddaughter was finally coming to visit.
Propelled up the lane by the strong wind came Mr. Wolfe, huffing and puffing at the exertion against the gusting gales. Seeing him was a balm to the letdown of it not being her granddaughter.
Last night, I had one of my stress dreams. I have those about three or four times a week. When I recounted the dream to Spencer, he pointed out to me that this whopper had every single element that my stress dreams are usually comprised of, wrapped up all in one lovely dream. I won’t list all the elements, because then you’d know my “kryptonite” but I can at least mention the elevator aspect. Often, elevator rides are in my stress dreams, elevators that won’t let me off, or go too high or too fast, or only open half way between scary dark floors. (I once saw a horror flick when I was home alone sick from school. The lady tried to crawl out of the stuck elevator and when she was dangling over the edge, struggling to get up onto the floor, the elevator suddenly came to life and cut in her half. I’ve been scarred ever since. Clearly.)
So in light of the uber stress dream, I’m go to go easy on myself today. I found a picture to share for TBT that makes me smile. Look at the joy these kids are having, just being out in the beautiful spring day. I like that. It relaxes me and brings a smile to me just to look at it. I hope it does the same for you.
Goals that are unrealistic or too big, or are just simply too overwhelming, aren’t going to get us anywhere. As a writer, I must have goals and discipline, just like others who want to accomplish “great” things where their passions (or responsibilities) lie. But I’ve found that if I make them too big, I just set up myself for failure. So I’m starting to figure something out. Maybe it will help you too with your accomplishments.
On this day in 1993, Microsoft introduced its new operating system, Windows NT—the NT for "New Technology." This morning I’ve been using a few of those early systems. I have two Windows 95 and a Windows 98—and that doesn’t count the one downstairs with a couple of old games on it.
WHY in the WORLD? you ask? It’s complicated. But it’s something like this. I needed to write some music. So I turned on my oldest machine, which is hooked up to my midi player keyboard, so see? Makes sense. That kind of setup isn’t something you just chuck. I mean, those keyboards and music writing software are hard to come by. Plus I don’t like to learn new programs. I hate change. Okay, so I get the music written. But of course, being careful (and unable to update virus protection for something so ancient) this machine isn't on my network (besides, it doesn’t have the correct ports). So I need it to go to another machine which has the original music-writing software and a pdf writer. (No way to link machines. No Air Drop on this baby.) And this second one has the requisite floppy. So I move the file (not a 5 ¼, but a 3 ½ inch floppy; I’m not crazy!) to this other 95 machine, and convert it. Now, I don’t have a monitor for every single machine, so I have to crawl under my desk (my switch box failed about five years ago) and hook up the second machine and get the monitor cable connected. (No working USB ports. Just those pin and screw-in-place numbers.) Once the floppy is in the second machine, I convert it to pdf and put it in a folder shared with Machine #3. (I have a little trouble keeping all four mouses and keyboards straight. I type on this keyboard watching that monitor. Nothing happens. Oops. Look what I did to the file on that one….) I move the monitor cable to Machine #3, my 98 (cranking now!) which IS networked so I can move files around a little (staying off the Web, of course). And once I find the shared folder (which is sometimes hard because the machines can’t always find each other) I take the newly converted pdf on the third machine and mail it to myself. Once mailed, I can receive and open it in my very up-to-date (it still has tech support! Mostly.) laptop, which by the way has Windows 7 and Word 2003. (Did I mention I hate change?)
Once the file is retrieved, I have to shut all the old machines back down, which involves a lot of crawling under my desks again, switching cables, and quickly unplugging certain boxes that want to keep booting up until the electricity is shut off.
Now I have my extra monitors stowed, three of my machines shut back off, my mice untangled and keyboards sorted and tucked away, and a beautiful pdf of the music I wrote waiting in my inbox.
Since that nifty little operating system release twenty-three years ago, I’ve gotten a lot of good use from my Windows. Isn’t modern technology wonderful?
Twenty-two years ago, my kids and I had a bad Mumday. We moms have those—days when we fail, days that we just wouldn’t want to repeat.
A couple of nights ago we watched the film, “Joy,” about the inventor of the Miracle Mop. Her entrepreneurial spirit brought to mind my own early endeavors.
Want my stories delivered right to your inbox? I can do that! Click the button below to sign up and I'll make sure to send my post right to you each day that I blog.