Wednesday, June 27, 2018

“KNOW YOUR MESS”… 1983 (Mark's tribute to his dad)

My father's workshop, a busy space, but so many tools out of place. 

Tools smeared by oil, others by grease, some should be labeled 'rest in peace'.

Hammers hang longing to drive the spikes, he leaves us room for broken bikes.

A new table saw, the smoothest cut, sits near paint many years closed shut.

Spare belts and tires for the car, he's now prepared to go very far.

Can of brake fluid for his stops drips off the shelf … many silent drops.

Slew of tiny screws, stack of wood, things he might use, things he never would.

My mother, his love, can't understand all of these things without a plan.

She brings ‘it’ up and he says “yes”, but never has time to plan the mess.

Taking blades off the mower my father helps me ...I move over.

He asks for a wrench, I hear of cost, he always knows when they are lost.

Then he asks me for the pliers, but I last saw them by the tires.

He gets up and looks for the pair, but they have vanished into thin air.

Looking around he knows where they are, he has to look some, none too far.

It takes a man years to know his mess, were all his tools lie, more or less.

My father’s work shop, lots of space, and every tool, he knows it's place.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Castoro Cellars … found at Trader Joe’s

Now, what’s a nice girl like me, with 29 years of sobriety, doing in the wine section of the fabulous Trader Joe’s store in Raleigh, North Carolina…thrilled to be clutching a bottle of Coastal brand merlot? Well, let me explain:

My nephew Niels owns a large winery in Templeton, California called Castoro Cellars and on a visit there 10 years ago he treated me to a complete walk-through of their operations. At one point we watched as workers attached labels to the bottles rotating past on a conveyor belt. These, he explained, were the wines that were sold at the Trader Joe stores nationwide...a mellow merlot at a reasonable price. Then he snatched one of the bottles from the belt, wrote “stolen from the bottling line” in large indelible silver letters and handed it to me as a gift.

Needless to say I have never opened that bottle but I display it proudly and on a recent visit to Raleigh I decided to check and see if they still sell his wine. I was happy to see that they did and, as I was reading the back of the bottle, a man caught my attention. “You look like you know your wines”, he said, “Would you recommend the one that you are holding? I see it's from the West coast but is it affordable?” 

Putting on a thoughtful expression and hoping that he couldn't see the twinkle in my eye I seriously replied, “I can honestly say that it’s the best bargain I’ve ever found...on either coast.”

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder …1944

PTSD did not officially become a diagnosis until 1980 but I will never forget how it affected our lives one lovely spring evening in 1944.

This grainy picture is me, age11, and Ron, one of the many British sailors that our family entertained during WWII. “Our” boys usually came in pairs but a few of them, like Ron, practically lived at our house and they often came out alone …hopping on the train just as soon as they had leave. This day he had arrived from Boston’s naval yard where his ship was docked and I was the lucky greeter. 

Ours was a big family, 5 girls, our parents and many friends … not to mention the sailors. On the night that I recall we were all gathered in the living room. It was a hot night and we'd opened the big window that looked out on the screened in porch in order to circulate the air.

Ron was the center of attention, sitting on the floor near the window and entertaining us with his news. All of a sudden a car backfired in front of our house. It was a very loud bang and we all flinched or covered our ears. Then, as we all came back to our senses, we realized that Ron was no longer with us. Where was he? What had happened?

My mother was the first to act and she rushed to the porch to find Ron crouched on the other side of the window, shivering and covering his head with his arms. He had instinctively jumped through the window to find safety and it had been so quick that we literally didn’t see it. When we realized what had happened our dad held us back and told us to stay where we were.

It was an hour before Ron and mother came back in and we tried our best to act normal and put him at ease. It was our first lesson in the horrendous unseen wounds of war but it would not be our last … and mother was always there to comfort the boys that we came to love.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

1980 … Literally out of the blue !

In the late 70's my husband and I and the children moved to the small town of Vass, North Carolina. It is very close to Fort Bragg where the army conducts training operations and manuevers. In those days you could drive straight through the base and we used it often as a short cut to Fayetteville. This is not possible now as they've closed it to all but military personnel.

I will never forget one night around 10 when we were coming back home through the base. We had just left the Ft. Bragg compound and were on a dark and deserted stretch of road that was part of the Pope Air Force base. All of a sudden we heard popping sounds and we stopped the car to see what it was. We watched in amazement as thousands of flares lit up the sky. We could make out low flying troop planes with their hatch doors opening wide. Then, as if on cue, the paratroopers jumped.

The sky was teeming with tiny floating figures held aloft by their parachutes and slowly making their way toward the ground. Our vantage point didn’t allow us to see them actually make a landing but we did see two of the fellows get caught in tree branches.

There must have been hundreds of them and, as beautiful as it was to watch, it was also clear that this was no game. As the last of the jumpers reached ground the light gently faded away and we were once again in the dark. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience but a very sobering one. I will never forget it.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Remember this …..????????


That's a direct quote from the mouth of Donald Trump as he campaigned at a Sioux Center, Iowa rally in January, 2016. A disturbing statement to say the least but excused at the time as banter from an over zealous candidate.

Fast forward to this week when Trump's lawyer Rudy Guiliani voiced the incredible premise that Trump, now the 45th President of the United States,
could shoot the FBI director in the Oval office and not be prosecuted for it.

WHAT IN GOD'S NAME HAS HAPPENED TO OUR COUNTRY? ARE WE ALL BLIND AND TONE DEAF? Our nation, as well as Washington, DC, is indeed a “swamp” but it didn't get that way overnight. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are complicit in getting us there and they need to take ownership of this. The rampant hatred and racism that I see today is killing us as a nation. We've closed our hearts as well as our doors and no longer strive for the type of country as envisioned by the writers of the Constitution. 

What a loss ...

Saturday, June 02, 2018

A melodic memory ... San Gimignano, Italy

In 2008 my oldest son and I were in Italy and one highlight of our trip was a visit to the lovely towered city of San Gimignano. It was my second visit there and, as we hiked our way to the top of the city I hoped against hope that the same musician who I'd photographed 5 years before would be there still. Of course this didn’t happen, but my imagination brought him back to life and I described it all to my son.

It was March of 2003 and as I wended my way to the highest point of San Gimignano I started to hear music. This seemed unlikely in the setting but it became louder and, as I crested the hill, I finally saw the musician.
He resembled a monk but was more likely a performer who hoped to augment his income by an afternoon’s performance. He had somehow managed to tote his harpsichord over the cobblestone paths to this lofty spot.

Now, five years later my son and I sat in the same spot where I'd heard that concert. We were the only people there but the memory of the intriguing musician and his medley of Baroque tunes seemed to enhance the magnificent views and the total serenity of it all. As it had then, this became a highlight of our Italian journey.