Friday, March 23, 2007

Another Roll Call

The anniversary of the war came and went a few days ago. I called our Congressman, Rick Boucher (D-VA), and expressed my concern over the continuing war and asked that he vote against new funds and deployment out of Iraq with a set date.
When the war began, Spencer (the oldest son) had just turned 13. He was a young teen with lighthearted hopes and dreams. He recently celebrated his 17th birthday. I never would have dreamed that this ugly war would have been going on four years later...with no real end in sight. The war has subtly, and quite boldly, colored his thoughts, his dreams, his future.

Attached to the war is a mountain of debt for our country to climb as years go by. Spencer, and his younger brother, Emerson, their friends and others they will never know from their generation--and quite likely their children's generation--will work towards conquering that debt and dealing with the aftermath of war.

I walked into the family room just in time to catch the roll call on the News Hour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. Thank goodness we don't catch the program every day as it never fails to bring tears to my eyes. Beneath the photo of a deceased soldier is their name, age, rank, the division of the Armed Services and the name of the town the person was from. Tonight I learned that someone named Emerson lost his life. Not my son, but someone else's. It's not a name you see every day, it caught me by surprise and made me catch my breath. Tonight I learned that two men who were 39 and 41 years of age recently died in Iraq. I don't know what hurts more; learning that a young kid of just 19 died in the war or the adult near my age who died and probably left behind a wife and children.

Why is this war now in Year 5? When will we collectively rise up and scream "Enough!"?

[Photos courtesy of Creative Commons.]

Middle of the Night

The last three weeks I've been awake in the middle of the night. Not my favorite time of day. The first week was due to my sons' illness, but the last two were my fault. Even if you're just plain done with a stupid head cold, that nagging cough grabs you before dawn. The middle of the night might be useful to me if I could drag myself out of bed, but I always will myself back to sleep. Sometimes it works quickly and other times I meander through recent scenes and dark alleys of my life, though I try to focus on Nothing. At some point I consider that I should jot down my thoughts or go to the computer to pound the keyboard. I effortlessly come up with good stuff at 3:50 a.m. Numerous witty and insightful essays have been written in my head before I wake up for good--when they disappear.

[VanGogh's Starry Night courtesy of Creative Commons.]

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Spring has Sprung!

Yes indeed, today is the Vernal Equinox. The first day of Spring.

No matter what weather we have in the next few weeks, we have turned a corner and the winter of 06-07 is officially behind us. It wasn't a bad winter though it had its moments. We often wondered during December and way into January, if we'd have any winter. When winter arrived late, it brought with it cold, ice and power outages. Yippee.

But here we are, two-thirds through March and it's a fresh, new season. Hallelujah!

[Forsythia photo courtesty of Creative Commons until I can borrow my son's camera while mine is being repaired. We have our own forsythia to photograph, but this works for now.]

Saturday, March 17, 2007

St. Patrick's Day and more

March hasn't been so hot for my writing process, but it's been great for being sick. Spencer caught the flu when I returned from Georgia, then Emerson followed with a cold and 103.7 degree fever for three nights accompanied by lingering congestion and cough. I succumbed to a cold after taking care of them. Somehow Scott managed to stay healthy, despite my waking him up at night when hacking and reaching for yet another delicious cough drop. Our client is healthy, his bedroom is downstairs and he has less exposure to our germs. Today we've turned the corner, I feel almost healthy.

St. Patrick's Day is a national holiday in my mind, we all wore green today and I didn't have to ask. Scott arrived home from work with a Guinness for us to quaff with the homemade pizza he made. I love St. Patrick's Day because I believe I have an Irish soul. I'm 100% German (my great-greats hail from Germany), but as my husband the history buff tells me, long before the land was Germany it was occupied by Celts. This works for me. The local PBS station and IFC (Independent Film Channel) played Irish themed shows; we taped "Visions of Ireland" for the next time I need an Ireland "fix," and a great movie starring Richard Harris, "The Field". We considered going out to celebrate the holiday, but with snow flurries on and off all day, we chose to stay inside and keep warm.

While eating pizza, we cheered on VCU (Virginia Commonwealth) in the NCAA tourney, but no upset last night. Tomorrow we'll see how UVA and VT do, whether they'll advance or not. We enjoy watching sports, but we're selective. We like football, the NCAA basketball tournament, the Tour de France, and the Olympics. My family is from Indiana, so we have a long history of attending or watching The Indy 500. The last 20 years we've watched during the annual Memorial weekend relative-a-thon.

I make no promises, but I'll get back on the productive blogging track I was on earlier this year. I'm expecting the book Getting Things Done in the mail any day. We'll talk about that subject in future posts.

[St. Patrick at Croagh Patrick, driving the snakes out of Ireland. Photo by Pat O'Connor.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

My Oldest is 17!

Spencer William was 17 years old today. As birthdays go, his was low-key though we saw a movie yesterday afternoon (taking him out of school at lunch). Emerson, our client and I saw Bridge to Terabithia, and Scott and Spencer saw Wild Hogs. Spencer had no special requests for the cake, the meal or for presents--quite a change from when he was just 7 or 11, or even 15, so I made the same chocolate cream cheese bunny cake that he's had since he was three years old. It was still a hit. Spencer is ready to begin taking driver's ed through an online class. Then, hold your breath, his parents will teach behind-the-wheel. We had to get permission from the school to home school driver's ed since Spencer now attends public school. He missed driver's ed because he enrolled the spring semester of his Sophomore year--after it was taught fall semester. On Friday we're taking his birthday checks and opening a checking account for him. I meant to do this last year--where did that year go?

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Billy Joel and Family, Too

It's been a week since my last post. I was on a roll then faltered in late February. Sometimes life is like that; you move forward at a quick pace only to realize that you need a breather now and then.

I celebrated March 1--the first day of the new month I was looking forward to--by attending a Billy Joel concert in Atlanta with my sister. It wasn't planned that way, but my sister called the week before to say she'd won free tickets on a radio station to the concert. Believe it or not, I turned her down when she offered me the ticket. I didn't think I could get away; I had a work-related meeting on March 2 and wondered how my busy husband could juggle taking care of our client with giving guitar lessons at his music store. It was my husband who said "You're going, you need a break," and called back my sister to say his wife would take that ticket after all. He is a smart guy, I'm so glad I married him. When I mentioned the concert to my program manager, she said "You'd turn down a Billy Joel concert for a stupid meeting?" What meeting?

I drove to Georgia with Emerson along for company. We drove through heavy fog and rain, but safely arrived at my sister's home. The concert was that night and it was outstanding. I haven't been to a concert in two decades, but from my foggy memory this was up there with the best. He played most all of his hits; I forgot how many Billy Joel tunes I had known, listened and danced to over the years. There were even a few that I didn't know like "Vienna" from 1971 (when I was all of nine years old). Emerson, now 11 1/2, had no clue who Billy Joel was and asked about him. I couldn't describe him nor his music, just that he had 30 hit songs. Emerson had never heard of him since they don't play much Billy Joel on NPR. When I want to hear something more upbeat, I turn the dial to 98.7 (Simon). Their motto is We Play Everything, except they've never played a Billy Joel song now that I'm thinking about it, so they aren't really playing everything, are they? They play a mix of popular hits from the 60's through today and put together a random shuffle of songs you'd never hear anywhere else. The songs that you forgot you used to like; songs from your high school and college days, and when the boys were toddlers, and all the years in between and since. But no Billy Joel.

Emerson and I had a lazy Friday in Georgia with my sister (his Aunt Laura) going out to lunch at my brother-in-law Steve's restaurant and a low-key night at home having dinner with my niece and nephews. Emerson had big fun playing hide-and-seek and other games with his cousins who are still the age that they enjoy playing games. This isn't to say that Emerson's older brother, Spencer, is a big poop at almost-17, but it is true that he has moved beyond playing hide-and-seek. It happens.

On Saturday, we woke up to a rooster's crow. My sister and brother-in-law live in a new subdivision in Gainesville, but their property has a farm (of sorts) behind them. The guy keeps cows and several roosters; apparently one of the roosters was kicked out of the rooster clan and now resides in my sister's back yard. Hearing the crow reminded me of our beloved rooster, Fox, who died last May and lived on our farm for three years. After a while you tune out early morning crowing as it becomes something your brain accepts as normal and you sleep until the alarm clock turns on. This day, the rooster's crow was a natural wake-up call. Emerson and I got ready to leave as my sister and her family got ready to drop off my nephews at their Tae Kwan Do class.

It was a brief visit and we were ready to get home. The drive was uneventful, we had great weather, and Floyd County's hills never looked so good--not to mention my husband's handsome face.

[Sorry, I blew it. Didn't take pictures the entire trip. Billy Joel photo courtesy of:]