Sunday, May 24, 2009

Memorial Day...

From The Vault:

May 29, 2005

My father was not a man blessed with great financial wealth. Before he passed away he made two requests: First that he should be buried in a blue military coffin and second that "Bubby" (what he lovingly called his little granddaughter) be given the flag that draped his coffin. My daughter will someday realize that of all the riches she may incur in her lifetime she will have one possession that is priceless, timeless and earned solely on the basis of selflessness of spirit.

Memorial Day has come to represent the beginning of Summer. Most amusement parks open on Memorial Day and close on Labor Day. Most people spend Memorial Day weekend planting gardens, taking a vacation or taking it easy. Last year I was astounded to find more of a crowd at Home Depot than at the local cemetery. Somehow as a nation we have come to forget those who have given everything to keep us free. I do not speak solely of our men and women in uniform but also of mothers, fathers, wives, husbands and children who have given to us the most precious thing imaginable: the future possibilities of those whom they loved so dear.

Some may argue that we as a country have no business being at war. Others argue that war is the only way to control the terrorism that shook us all on 9/11. Some say that our military should pull out of the middle-east immediately. Others believe that without a show of force our native soil will never be safe. There are some that voice their anti-military beliefs strongly. But I wonder how many of these people realize that it is from the courage of our military that their freedoms of speech are borne? It is a basic truth that we, as United States citizens, have a right to our opinions and a right to voice those opinions. So the next time you find yourself in one of these heated debates, as the saying goes "Thank a vet".

Today, no matter what your personal beliefs may be; please take just a moment to remember or bear witness to a man or woman you may know (or may have known) that wears the uniform of this great country of ours. Think of the sacrifices they and their families make on a daily basis and the fact that they may one day make the ultimate sacrifice. They do this for their country, they do this for their families; but they also do this for you and for me and for the freedom we hold so dear.

My father did not leave a million dollars to his precious granddaughter when he died. He did not leave her property or a car or a trust fund. What my father left to her was priceless. He gave to her a symbol of love, of freedom, of something he would have gladly given his life for. He gave her the American flag.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


From The Vault: May 22, 2005

I need to own a piece of the Hallmark pie.

The only thing I hate worse than the whole genre of the greeting card is the pressure I feel having to purchase one. It used to be fairly simple to just stroll in the store, go to the section of card you are looking for and pluck one out. Now it’s become a total time consuming exercise in futility. Especially for someone like me who takes the whole process way too seriously. If I have to buy a card then it should be a) applicable to the occasion b) applicable to the person I am acquiring it for and c) have some element of aesthetic quality.

You might think this would be easy with the obscene amount of cards on display. Silly, silly fool. There are so many "greetings" that you almost need a card catalog to find the right one. For example: Finding a card for a co-worker (that you do not know that well or do not like that much, is turning 40 and having quite a visible crisis over it). Okay - step one is to find the "Birthdays for Him" section. They have Father’s, Brother’s, Son’s, Stepdads, Stepsons, Male Life Companions...but no co-workers. So, now you have to cross-reference over to the "Shoebox Greetings"section. For those of you that don’t know (and if you don’t you’ve been living under a rock for the past 20 years, or you are the unibomber)- this section is basically for the cards that mock any occasion. Since Mr. Co-worker is upset over his 40th birthday any card that has a huge R.I.P. on the front cover may not be apropos. So - onward and upward to the top line of greeting cards. The ones with the "extra postage" inked onto their envelopes. Since most of these begin with "through the years" or "my" or "how you’ve changed my life" you are now thrown down to the bottom shelf. These generic cards are so cheap that no matter what they say inside they simply scream "you are not worthy". See the dilemma?

Now that the card industry has recognized the fact that no matter how many of these senseless waste of trees they throw on the shelf there remains the neurotic person who can’t find "just the right one" - they have come up with the "make your own card" printer. I just love the fools that spend money on these...hello? Have you heard of HP Inkjets? Or better yet, why not just borrow your child’s crayons and smear a "Happy Birthday" on a sheet of crumpled paper? Come to think of it, there actually is a Hallmark card that is supposed to look like a child’s artistic renderings...

This entry could not be complete without expressing my utter disdain for the "thank you card". I hate them, I don’t send them and I get annoyed when I receive them. First of all if I receive a gift in person, I say thank you in person. If the gift is given in my absence I usually will seek the giver and thank them, again, in person. And, on the off chance the gift is mailed to me then I either use the telephone to express my gratitude or write a letter. Here’s a novel thought: if words cannot be expressed directly - I could write them down myself instead of subcontracting Hallmark to say what I surely would have said if I had ten minutes or the desire to do so.

And then there is the triple threat Thank You card; the "extra postage" card sent with a gift certificate of some kind enclosed. Then what? Do you have to send a reciprocal thank you now that you have received a thank you gift enclosed in the thank you card? What is that? To be quite honest when I receive those horrendous things I just make a mental note to never be nice and do a kind gesture ever again for anybody. It causes me too much stress afterward. Please, if I do something nice for you it is because I wanted to - do not send me a thank you. I know you appreciate it, if I didn’t think you were the appreciative type then I wouldn’t have been nice to you in the first place. Once the kindness ends the obligations are over. End of story.

Then there are those people. There are two kinds; a) the ones that get their panties in a twist if they don’t receive a card from you and b) those that I swear, (though I have no proof), that use the greeting card as a weapon of sorts. Let’s take person number one. I know a few of these people. Personally, I think they need to get a life. They have been brought up by cold expressionless people that can only express love or gratitude while hiding behind a card. I once received a thank you card from one of these dumbasses when I returned home from their party. I think pre-mailing a thank you card is a bit frightening. If you do something nice for me and I thank you in person and then cause you utter pain because the card didn’t come in the mail - get over it. Person number two is a bit more clever I believe. I can’t be the only one out there that has received a card that is describing me in a way that I just know the sender does not feel. That leaves me with this: did the sender just pick out a pretty card and not read it or did they in fact read it and send it as a message of some sort?

My last thoughts on the whole greeting card industry is this: Where can I find a job writing the flowery prose for Hallmark? Come on, I can bullshit with the rest of them!! a tree - say Thank You in person!

post script 2009: I believe my sentiments are catching on. Fewer and fewer cards are being sent out (these include Christmas cards). Unless of course, somehow in the vast wormhole that is the internet this blog entry made it's way to the 'offenders' on my list. Hmmmm... (GASP)! Oh dear, should I go to Hallmark and 'buy' some apologies? No! I'm standing firm. Tell those that are important that you love them, thank them in a personal way, wish them happiness when you can... It's a much better way to express sentiments and feels so much nicer than card stock ever could.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


When I remember you...
I remember a woman not much older than I.
Busy with the day to day.
The small things.
I see your back from my seat at the table,
doing dishes
with a towel over your shoulder.
Or seated in the den;
the way your graceful hands moved
while you did your needlework.
I hear the sound of your shoes
making their way through
the breezeway after work.
And just how big your smile was
when something struck you funny.

When I remember you...
I remember a woman who struggled.
Who tried her very best and sometimes failed.
The not so small things.
I see your tears,
and I recall your triumphs.
The way you'd stand your ground
and the way you persevered.
And in spite of it all
the love that never died;
because you wouldn't think yourself
a winner if you ever let it go.

Sometimes it's hard to remember you...
The years have stretched long
between then and now.
A different world spins
than the one we shared.
Different players, different loves;
some that you never
got the chance to meet.
And others you loved
that no longer are here.
But know that I try to remember
the small things and the not so small.
And every time I do,
we're together again.

For My Mom... 9/14/30 - 10/17/83
I Love You

Friday, April 24, 2009

My Love...

If trust is blind, I shall not see.

If love is kind; envelop me...

If faith is true, then I believe.

If loss is mine; I shall not grieve...

When days are long; I'll hold the sun

and kiss the moon when they are done...

My love is out of wishes spun.

As true today; as when begun.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Path of Tulips...

Dearest Spring:

I long for your sweet sounds. Sweet smells. Sweet sights. Please visit as soon as possible. You have sent small signs that you are almost here. The dew sparkles gently in the early hours. The birds play their songs. Green stalks struggle through the still hardened earth.

There is a dawn that lies waiting for you. For your warmth and your gentility. For the colors you bring. She is becoming impatient, she longs to shine again. Wrap your dewy blanket around her and shower her with your light.

From the Vault...

I've decided that occasionally I will pull something from "The Vault" that I have written and shared and perhaps some that I have written and put to the side. My goal is to not preview, just to post.

July 10, 2005:

London Calling...

A fairly innocuous morning. I slept a tad bit late (it is summer after all). Then, off to drive my daughter to her friends house for the day. A quick exchange of a hug and a kiss and wishes for a good time. I watch her as she runs across the yard to greet her friend, her dark hair flying in the summer breeze. Life is good.

I turn out of the driveway and meander my way back home admiring the suburban lawns with their lush greens and pretty flowers. I turn on the radio hoping for some nice music to enhance my rather good frame of mind. Instead I am assaulted with the news of the terrorist bombings in London. Suddenly my sense of peace and tranquility is overtaken with the surreal feeling that nothing is in the right place. Things are askew. If you have lived through the death of a loved one it is something akin to that certain out of body feeling that accompanies it. All at once I am transported back to September 11, 2001.

I had just returned from New York City. Coincidentally it was the first trip I have made since 9/11 where I did not visit the World Trade Center site. Somehow I, and life, had moved passed that time. Quite honestly I did not even give a thought to the fact that I was in the city over the fourth of July (something that even last year my mind would have pondered). Typical I suppose to be lulled back into a feeling of security and to somehow forget the horror of that time. Until the news bulletin and the sound of London calling...

In the deep hours of an early American morning as most of us were sleeping, hundreds of people were experiencing terror in its most cowardly form. I wonder how many of those that died watched their child as I had that morning and had the same thought that I had that "life is good". Or, even more sadly, how many missed that opportunity on what would be the last day of their lives?

That afternoon it began to rain in my little corner of the world. It has rained nonstop since. The dark skies remind me that nothing in life is too good to be stolen away.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

White Noise and "Dark Shadows"...

When I was small I couldn't sleep.
Correction: When I was small I couldn't sleep by myself.

I was terrified of any space occupied by me and me alone (whether in light or dark, although dark was worse). It didn't matter where I was, when my head hit the pillow the terror would strike. Being the youngest of three I was always shuffled upstairs first. Alone. As the room got darker the noises in my head got louder. And they told me I was doomed. Yes, doomed.

And so it was that my oldest sister would accompany me to our room and read aloud just long enough for the noises to quiet down and sleep to arrive. In the 'Allen' tradition of the absurd the usual fare was Edgar Allen Poe. Interesting choice for a small child turned insomniac by fright. But I loved every minute of it. And I would drift off to her voice reciting The Raven or The Conqueror Worm. Ahhhh sweet sleep!

When she (abandoned me) left for college, I was left to my own devices. I tried to read to myself, but it was hopeless. My mind still shifted awkwardly into dark places. So I did the only thing I could do. I bought a TV. With it's soft glow and constant murmuring I'd drift off to sleep. Eureka! Well, not quite.

A few years ago, my method ceased to work. With all the channels on the menu, there was always something of interest to choose. Suddenly I was thoroughly 'engaged' and wide awake. Not good. Not good at all. Where is this leading? To my second Eureka: I needed something familiar, soothing, engaging yet not 'too' engaging. Something on a 'loop', so if I fell asleep I wouldn't miss anything. Complicated? Yes, but I knew I'd find the answer.

And so I did. My 'white noise' became "Dark Shadows". All 1,245 episodes of creepy bed-time stories at my beck and call whenever I should need them. Which is, in truth, every night. My family laughs at my treasured collection. I suppose the series is a bit archaic in this day and age. But, like long-lost friends I can always rely on the voices of Barnabas or Quentin to gently guide me into dreamland.

So, they can mock at will. Because my nightly date with the supernatural 70's is so much better than the alternative; which was to kidnap my sister and force her to read me Poe every night on command.

For: Denise, who doesn't know how close she came...