29 November 2010

Mondays Were Invented By The Romans As A Particularly Effective Form Of Torture...

WARNING: Eating or drinking may be hazardous to your health from now until you reach the end of this post. You have been warned. [Also, if you are in a public place, be aware that your jaw dropping may attract flies... or odd looks from those nearby ~ This added because I thought Midlife Army Wife's comment, hilarious]

Today is Monday.

For me, it started off with a really bad headache and went downhill from there. An hour after dropping off the kids at school, I got a call to go back and pick up our youngest daughter, who was suddenly not feeling so good. So being half of the parental equation of the chaos that is our family, I texted my husband just to give him a head's up.

For my husband, today started off with what sounded like a suck-fest. In actualityThis Monday Morning was special. This was the morning his brain decided to stay at home, in bed, and go back to sleep, while the rest of him went off to work.
Me: I had to skip my doctor's appointment and go back to pick up Erin from the Middle School nurse's office. She says her stomach is queasy and she feels a little dizzy, so I'm running her over to the doctor's office. Will let you know what happens.

Husband: Nice. It's just that kind of day around here too.
[Later...]
Me: Erin's ok. We're heading home. The billing office at the pediatricians says that CHAMPVA has still not payed our bill. We owe $312.87. Could you try to take care of this medical bill issue... again?

Husband: Great. It's just that kind of day. Ok. I'll try after lunch. I need to get out of here. I love Mondays.

Me: Mondays were invented by the Romans as a particularly effective form of torture.

Husband: I hate Romans. I hate everyone today.

Me: My headache is making me hate the universe at large at the moment... unfortunately, it hates me right back. [by now my headache is pounding out a particularly energetic tattoo that feels something like a cross between a reggae, mamba and a polka combination]
[Later...]
Husband: I now get to miss lunch so I can meet a contractor who will pretend to fix a problem that his company's sh*tty work caused.
Me: Well, sh*t. You win. Your day IS worse than mine. I really wish that made me feel better...
[Fast forward to my husband arriving at home.]

The husband hands me an envelope and tells me to read it. At first glance, I notice the envelope is open and has a yellow sticky note on the top right corner of it, telling him to go see his boss about this. The letter is addressed to his Squadron's Chief Master Sergeant and it's from the Tricare Dental [insurance] Program Office in Harrisburg, PA.

Now, let me give you a little background information here [in case you are a civilian] just so you can appreciate the full scope of what has happened this bright Monday Morning. First off, my husband had a rather large filling that fell out while he was temporarily stationed at Nellis AFB in Nevada. The base dental clinic was really great about getting him in right away to get it fixed. [Tricare is active duty medical/dental care insurance] Second, a Chief Master Sergeant is the highest enlisted rank there is in the Air Force, with the exception of the top Chief Master Sergeant of the Air Force. [An E-9 for those in other branches of the military who can relate to the equivalent rank] In other words, if a Chief says to see him about something?   You'd better know what is going on and be able to explain anything he cares to ask you about it.

Now back to this envelope. Inside were three sheets of paper. The first page was a dental claim form from the Nellis AFB Dental Clinic listing all the pertinent data that tends to get recorded on just about any medical billing office form [civilian or military] such as Name, Address, Telephone Number, your Girdle Size, etc. BUT, this one had three numbers brightly highlighted with a highlighter pen towards the bottom right-hand side which immediately drew my eyes, after having seen my husband's name at the top. Two numbers highlighted were the cost of services rendered. The last one being a very large total bill amount. The second page was a letter all government offices seem to love to send when rejecting any claim... Instructions on how to fill out the specified claim formThe THIRD page was from the Tricare Office of Claims and Eligibility in Falls Church, VA to the attention of my husband.
The letter read as follows:
This letter is to inform you that claim number 06418456 has been.
[ ] Approved
[X] Rejected
Reason Code: 06
Reason Code Explanation: The applicant was not on title 32 Status at the time of the claim. [In other words, he did not have military orders activating him to active duty status for the time the service was supposed to have taken place.]
Due to the serious nature of the fraudulent claim, we will require the full balance in the amount of $737.00 be paid within 30 days in order to avoid any further action under Page 1132 Paragraph 118-A3 of the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
Payment Due Date: 12/17/2010
Please Remit Cash Payment to:
Tricare Office of Rejection and Claims
[Street address]
[Local City and State]
Privacy Act Notification [paragraph etc]

I have to admit that I didn't pay attention to the envelope at first, except to notice the yellow sticky note and the Chief's name. My jaw dropped when, after glancing at the first page, having my eyes immediately drawn to the very bright highlighted charges at the bottom. A glance at the title of the second page about filling out the form had me skipping the rest of the print on that page and turning immediately to the third page as transcribed above. Warning bells were starting to very quietly ring in the back of my mind but the seriousness of it over-road any inklings at this point. So I looked at my husband and was about to ask him what the Chief had said to him when...
Husband: Go back and look at the sender's address on the envelope. [the light is dawning on me right about now]

Husband: Now look at the address on the letter. [envelope says from PA and the other says from VA]

Me: It's a prank.

Husband: Yeah. It's a prank. [I'm trying to keep from laughing]

Me: So who got you?

Husband: Tony [not posting his name to protect the not so innocent, but still, I think I'll spend some time tomorrow making his favorite sweet... which I know happens to be Rice Krispie Treats... How do I know this? When you are sending care packages to deployed members of your husband's squadron, you tend to remember these things.]

Me: So I take it you were pretty mad this morning.

Husband: I spent TWO HOURS on the phone trying to clear this up. [I'm really trying to keep a straight face.]

Me: So how do you feel now? [I get THE LOOK]

Husband: Not so much now.

Me: I have often told you that I am amazed that no one at work has fragged killed you before now. He even got you with a variation of one of your own pranks. [I can't help smiling. I'm now thinking that TWO batches of Treats might be in order]
I can't help but think that as often as my husband has played pranks on everyone else in the shop at one time or another but Tony has finally re-payed him in kind... spectacularly might I add.  Talk about shades of chickens coming home to roost.  I guess he'll need to go buy some bird feed for all of them chickens at work.  I know I should commiserate with him. And I will. As soon as I can stop laughing. The irony just kills me.
TO TONY - Now in my husband's defense, I DO have to admit that, in my experience, for the past, oh... thirty-five years or so, that he is not only extremely intelligent, but more importantly... he is pretty damn clever!  I have to admit that I think this normally would not have happened quite to the extent it did.  He has been working every spare (and some not so spare) minutes working in the basement trying to finish building our daughter's new bedroom and he has been in a tremendous amount of pain (while doing said project despite my objections) as mentioned in previous posts.  [he had two more chiropractor appointments for this this week and since I know he actually has to be at death's door to take time off from work to go to see a doctor and the fact that he hasn't been sleeping at night too well, I know his pain has to be pretty severe] So although I think that when playing pranks one should always expect the same in return, I also looked a little closer at the evidence provided and noticed a bunch of things that normally would have sent flaming red flags and given your prank away.  (although, I admit, I doubt that 'I' would have caught on so soon)
- On the envelope... the real postage stamp 'marked' with a red 'pen' instead of a real post office stamp, although I give you points for placing the sticky note over that part of the envelope.  The envelope had also never been sealed closed.  Tony, he does not have immediate access to DNA testing, so next time, go ahead and 'lick' the envelope closed.  Oh and also spell a city name with a capital letter... just sayin'...  :)
- The sticky note... So the boss didn't mind helping you out with his handwriting the note... (He certainly deserves to be congratulated because I KNOW what my husband did to HIM on his computer... again... I'm still amazed my husband hasn't been killed before now)
- The Dental Form... Sponsor's Social Security Number was within ONE number of being my husband's own cell phone number?  Now THAT amazed me until I realized how much sleep he has NOT been getting.  And the dentist's name? John Fohloff DMD? (Fall Off?) When I mentioned this to my husband, he told me he thought I was getting a little too much enjoyment from this.  I was afraid I might have to sleep on the couch... Luckily for me, our daughter's room was not yet done and so the couch was already occupied.  The description of services... Amalgum Prioxophil Metallide and Novacin Canitis?  There is no such thing as either one of these and my husband KNOWS that '-itis' on the end of anything generally means an infection... so a Novacaine (you might want to consult a dictionary on that one) Canitis would be something like administering a drug that gives an infection?  LOVE the signature, though!  It is universally known that most doctors and dentists never seem to have a readable signature.
- The second page.  Brilliant!  Something anyone with any experience with any government, military or VA related office would expect.  (ah. um. I guess I should not be so admiring of your wit in this... I still would like to be married to my husband for at least another twenty-five years... so... let's downgrade that 'brilliant' to... say... 'Interesting?')
- The third page.  Ummmm.  Well...  YOU would know that you all have NOT yet received your 'hardcopy' orders even though you are all actually back from the TDY.  (Something I had NEVER in my life, seen or experienced before!  Things must have changed a heck of a lot since I was on active duty.  It use to be... No hardcopy orders... no wheels-up (plane ride).)  Still, the fact that you did NOT state which ARTICLE of the UCMJ would also have normally been flagged my husband [He would have looked up something that was relevant... he's tends to make sure the 'details' are believable.]  (BTW, I am sure you did NOT Google the page and paragraph, but I did.  The JAG office would have LOVED that one!)  But the 'la pièce de résistance'?  Was your personal address for remitting the 'cash' to.  All in all.  Well done! 
PS  Unfortunately, you will probably have to be looking over your shoulder for the rest of your life... because you might want to reread what I said above about the 'intelligent' and 'clever' part of this post.  Basically, you are TOAST.  It might take him a while to come up with the TOASTER... but even the sun rising in the east isn't as sure as PAYBACKYou will notice that 'I' NEVER risk playing a prank on him.  Growing up, he had SIX brothers and sisters who ALL inherited that gene.  Remind me to sit down with you and describe some of his SIBLINGS escapades... He IS the PRANK MASTER... Like I said.  You are SOOOOOO TOAST... and since 'I' don't want to spend any time in the 'toaster'... as much as I want to, I think it is more prudent for me to hold off on those Rice Krispie Treats until your next visit to the sandbox...

28 November 2010

The Vital Character Trait Necessary For Survival During A Visit From The Lemon Stand Household...

Survival before, during and after a visit from my family 'en masse', requires a VERY well-developed sense of humor.  Our family is blessed a lot more than we deserve when it comes to friends and family.  I have decided that one of the reasons Kelly and I are still such good friends is the fact that neither of us can hear most of our conversations with each other.  Kelly's hearing is worse than mine and her offspring selective deafness is more well defined than my own, which is saying something considering the state of my own deafness. 

She has that special quality that makes our friendship work... What quality would that be?  Well, frankly, she can ignore me.  That probably wouldn't sound like a quality that is treasured in most friendships, but for us... it's necessary and it works.  You see, because she can ignore me, I get to talk ad naseum and she just seems to know when to nod her head or make a kind of non-committal sound that allows me the illusion that communication as taken place.  

What does she get in return?  Well, besides having my dulcet tones to use as the human version of a white noise sound therapy machine?  Ok, AND having me as an alternative to sleeping pills?  I'm not addicting, you see. Quite the opposite actually.  Just ask my kids...  Never mind.  Don't ask my kids.  They'd probably just throw me under the bus by describing me as some kind of caterwauling alarm system.  Just what everyone wants to make unwanted friends and neighbors (possibly even burglars) avoid your home like the plague. So OTHER than those things?  **shrugs** I have long suspected that she is really a closet masochist.  I haven't a clue. 

Although the ability to be able to ignore me is a plus, it really is more the fact that her entire immediate family is just a treasure trove of opportunities to tease and harass endlessly has a great sense of humor and the experience to know not to take any of us seriously.  The fact that our husbands actually 'get' each others humor is a little scary on occasion, but we all seem to be able to live with that.  The fact that all our kids respond to whichever one of us happens to be yelling at correcting them at the moment, should probably be considered a major plus too!

In appreciation for all of the above... I have chosen to not use any of the recent blog fodder material provided this past weekend to appear here on my blog... Now THAT'S a true pity that I am throwing away a lot of material that would have kept my white blog screen of death away for a very long time to come true love and friendship...
QOTD:  "Tis the privilege of friendship to talk nonsense, and have her nonsense respected."  ~ Charles Lamb

25 November 2010

Nirvana Achieved....

My brother-in-law's smoked turkey was amazing (as usual), my sister-in-law's gravy was incredible, my niece's spiced hot apple cider was delicious... my own broiled green beans were cold and my bread (although fresh out of my oven and steaming hot) were late arriving to the party... along with the Pumpkin Cheesecake.  (Still rubbing my very full tummy)  But the Nirvana that was achieved, in all honesty, was not the food (although it was truly wonderful), it was the time we were able to spend with our family.   I am truly thankful for this greatest of my blessings.

24 November 2010

There Really Are Only Two Words You Need To Know For Thanskgiving...

Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Ok.  "Thank You" probably should be first.  So.  'Thank You for all my blessings.' (yes, I know that was SIX words, but the TWO words screaming in my head are 'Pumpkin Cheesecake'... I know, I'm very ungrateful and shallow... I can't help it)  

How about I just say, 'Thank You.  Pumpkin Cheesecake.'No?  That still sounds ungrateful.  (and it's FOUR words, I know)

How about, 'Thank You for the Pumpkin Cheesecake.'?  That's still six words, but 'Pumpkin.Cheesecake.' is still is echoing in my head...

How about, 'Thank You For All My Blessings... Including the Pumpkin Cheesecake... from the Cheesecake Factory.'?  Sigh.  I know.  I'm a lowly human being... who is craving 'Pumpkin Cheesecake'...  'From the Cheesecake Factory.'  But I can live with my shortcomings when it's softened with the taste of Nirvana...  Believe me, I'll be thinking of all the OTHER things I am thankful for tomorrow... with every bite... of Pumpkin Cheesecake...

Happy Thanksgiving to all, and to all a good night... (with dreams of Pumpkin Cheesecake rattling in your brains...)  You're Welcome.  (THAT'S two words... just sayin'...)

PS... Warning: Seriously.  I wish for every family and friend to be blessed with the kind of Thanksgiving I had as a kid.  The kind that Cricket and Porcupine described SOOOO much better than anything I could describe using the English Language as I know it.  Please drop by and read his post 'Thanksgiving Comes First'. 

23 November 2010

Calvin, Hobbes And The Pitcher Of Plague...

22 November 2010

The Correct Response Here Is, "Yes. Absolutely."

Fall cleaning this year yielded some unexpected treasures.  Since the point of my blog has always been to try to find at least ONE thing in my day that is positive, I tend to write on notepaper, the back of envelopes, the back of receipts, paper bags and once on my hand.  Why?  Because there are days when finding a way to make lemonade is about as likely as seeing a teenager these days NOT showing butt crack when bending over...   So the notes are kinda like breadcrumbs I leave for my brain to follow.  So on a scrap of paper I had written down the following (I believe this was during the second trip to the sandbox for my husband)...

While driving to the store, Rachel suggested that we send 'Daddy' a box of confetti.  I asked her what she wanted to pack in the confetti?  
Rachel, "Nothing.  Just the confetti."  
Me, "Let me get this straight.  You want to send your father a box of confetti and nothing else?  You wanna make him cry?" 
**Giggling from the back seat (girls tend to do that a lot)**
Nicole, "That really wouldn't be as bad as if you'd put water in a vodka bottle and then sent it to him!" [I didn't mention at the time that their father probably would have preferred a Guinness instead]
**Laughter from the back seat**
Rachel, "What if we wrapped all his package stuff up in plastic and poured plaster of paris in the box.  Once it hardened, we could add a little hammer and chisel and make him work to find his treasure?" 
[Since Rachel is the most like her father, humor-wise, I thought this would have been poetic justice, but no, I did refrain from encouraging this idea (...but that was a really tough call).  Instead, among other things, we sent him a five pack of Jones Soda Turkey Dinner]
 
**Now I'M groaning loudly from the FRONT seat!**

Do parents REALLY survive this journey through the teenage years?  
Even if the answer is NO, the correct response here is, "Yes. Absolutely." 
**Nodding wildly with the look of supreme confidence**
QOTD: "Parents are the bones on which children sharpen their teeth." Peter Ustinov

21 November 2010

The Seven Dwarves Of PMS...

OK,  This was obviously meant for those unfortunate souls experiencing menopause.  I am not looking forward to menopause, despite anything my family might say to the contrary.  Anyway the rest of the descriptions fits our family perfectly so I'm posting it anyway with a small correction....


 

QOTD: "Do you know why they call it 'PMS'?  Because Mad Cow Disease was already taken."

20 November 2010

What Harry Potter, A Twit, A Nitwit, A Mouse and Tweety Bird Have In Common...

I'm probably the only one who feels silly using the Twitter social networking website, in part because of it's name. At first I was a little intimidated trying to figure out just how the messages were sent and received.  I figured out how to send, last night.  The receiving is still lost out in cyber space.  I'm sure it's operator error just like the sending issue, but my internet learning curve is now, at least, slightly bent upward from it's normally straight and horizontal position. 

I don't know why this is, but the word twit gives me a mental picture of someone who is socially challenged.  SOCIALLY.CHALLENGED.  I guess, as the name of a currently popular website, it works.  I don't know WHY it works, but there are more interesting mysteries in my life to solve than how Twitter could have given the Enigma Cypher Machine a run for it's money in cryptic communications.   And STILL I can't help thinking, "A great name for a SOCIAL networking site?" 

Probably because I have a prodigious number of offspring, I think my mind tends to wander in the same way as the children's book, "If You Give A Mouse A Cookie". So thinking of twit  whenever I read the word Twitter is not that far of a stretch, but I gotta tell you that my mind is now on a roll.   Thinking of twit makes me think of nitwit  which I guess is a more precise term of description (so I guess you could say that train of thought still hasn't left the station).  Obviously, I have not referenced a dictionary or Googled it anytime during these cogitations, but I've always thought of a nitwit as being someone who is not only socially challenged, but who also lives with a severe disadvantage because he only had his big toe dipped into the gene pool of common sense.

Since this whole thought process caused my mind to drift a little off from center, I made myself refocus on what I thought was bothering me about using Twitter. Since I want to pretend to make a proactive stand about this, I forced myself to start calling my Twitter message posts, tweets.  Apparently this is the correct form of address for such things.  Unfortunately for me, tweet also remind's me of Tweety Bird and although I have finally figured out how to tweet, I just can't seem to be able to consistently call my messages tweets.   Making tweet into a verb instead of an adjective or noun, can't seem to change how I look at this word.  The fact IS that whenever I see (or think) that word, I feel like what I'm really saying is, "Please, just paint me yellow, slap on some feathers then call Sylvester to tell him his dinner is ready."

Sigh.  I guess I may not be ready for this after all.  Unless... instead of tweetI called it "the message that must not be named?"

19 November 2010

[New & Improved] The Top Ten Reasons Why You Should Always Carry A Camera...

It was pretty late last night by the time I got around to posting something on my blog.  Unfortunately, as with all things done whilst under the influence of Captain Morgan, in a hurried manner, I made a teeny, tiny mistake...   I forgot to add the words before hitting that publish button.  That's kind of like telling a joke and then forgetting to tell the punchline... Not that my sense of humor is anywhere near ready to come out and play... Still.  I made a promise to myself to post something (mostly of a positive nature) every day.  No matter HOW my day went.

So if nothing seems to come to mind, I end up looking outside my head for blog fodder.  In this case it was in my inbox and the timing was perfect.  Now every so often, family members email me with something to make me laugh or smile... (in this instance, thank you, K)   

After seeing these pictures, my obviously warped brain (warped, not alcoholically challenged... that was later) decided to add captions for a countdown of  The Top Ten Reasons I think you should always carry a camera...

Reason #10 - Without a camera, you could not take the most spectacular baby blackmail pictures capture your child's first accomplishments...

Reason #9 - You can't capture, for posterity, a scene worth rubbernecking for...
Reason #8 - You could not show your family the specific new down comforter you want this Christmas...
Reason #7 - You could not capture those special moments at weddings that always make friends and family cry...
Reason #6 - You could not prove to your wife that you really were just out on a hunting trip with your buddies take aerial pictures of the local flora and fauna, to share with your wife after you come back from a hunting trip with the guys.
Reason #5 - Without a camera, you could not get pictures of a robber and an actual robbery.  (Law enforcement agencies sometime give you a lot of loot if those pictures lead to the arrest and conviction of said criminal) 
Reason #4 - Without a camera, you could not capture your child's first case of Puppy Love...
Reason #3 - Without a camera, you could not capture the true essence that is your teenager...
Reason #2 - Without a camera, you'd never be able to take a picture of how inept great your handyman skills are... and take said photograph to an experienced building expert so they can have a good laugh at your expense to get the advice and instructions you should have asked BEFORE you ripped out the kitchen window about how to fix your housing faux pas...

Reason #1 - Without a camera, you could not record the events leading up to your current need for a padded cell, chocolate or a REALLY long "Calgon, take me away" moment...

18 November 2010

Posts, Email, Texts And Twits...

My communication skills may sometime seem a little bizarre... at least from another person's perspective.  Looking at life differently, is therapy for me.  I try to go out of my way to look at things differently.  Why?  Because I was born a pessimist within a body that wants to be an optimist.  So I sorely try the patience of my family and friends.  Let me give you a few examples of this twisted bent in my thought processes...

My best friend Kelly, works part-time so there are times when I can not speak to her on the phone.  Since my kids have taught me how to text, I have been perfecting the art of this communication form by texting her at odd hours just to make her roll her eyes.  It's true.  I actually have a visual picture of this in my mind and it makes me laugh.  So I love to torment her with stray  texts, such as:
"Hello. Have you ever wondered why our American form of greeting rhymes with 'jello'?  Or perhaps that it starts with the word, 'Hell'.  Which, when you think about it, makes us all sound like we are jiggly or pessimistic..."
"Apparently I have been missing.  Just wanted to let you know that I have found myself. (Besides, I can't just say good night as that would be considered normal)"
I write posts like, "Conversational Ponderings..." and "Survival In The Wilderness Of The Internet..."

Sometimes, I even email friends with unsolicited advice like...
Are you ok? Just checking 'cause that last email had a microscopic bit of whining to it... I know being a military spouse is pretty difficult sometimes.  Especially when you can't always have him to yourself when he just gets home after a deployment because of kids and the in-laws from hell,  but I think if you do a little planning ahead of time, you both could come to LOVE the  parental visitations.  No, Really!  The next time your husband has to travel to go visit his family... all the way across the continent?  Find yourself a sitter, go with him and DON'T tell his parents you are even staying at the hotel with him.  During the day you can shop at Hot Topic and Victoria Secret while your husband has a great reason to look forward to going back to the room... no matter HOW his visit goes...
 
Lemon Stand

PS And just in case you've never heard this small bit of wisdom... A coat closet is kind of like that second parachute that jumpers have.  Use it ONLY in dire emergencies, but if that's all you got? Improvise, Adapt, Overcome.  :)
And now I am trying to learn how to Twit... conversations in 140 characters or less... We shall see, but I think I am up to the challenge...

17 November 2010

Not Stopping Here...

Wednesday Was Created To Celebrate The Sense Of The Absurd...

The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it’s still on the list.

I didn’t say it was your fault; I said I was blaming you.

You do not need a parachute to skydive. You only need a parachute to skydive twice.

The voices in my head may not be real, but they sure do have some good ideas!

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

If you are supposed to learn from your mistakes, why do some people have more than one child?
 
Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars but check when you say the paint is wet?

When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water.

You’re never too old to learn something stupid.
We never really grow up; we only learn how to act in public.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

The Evening news is where they begin with ‘Good evening’ and then proceed to tell you why it isn’t.

A bus station is where a bus stops. A train station is where a train stops. On my desk, I have a work station.

14 November 2010

You Made A Difference Award - Lily and Roses...

This is probably one of the hardest posts I've ever written, but I wanted this one post to be perfect.  Perfect for two sisters who have left more behind them than they know.  Lily and Roses.   Roses' blog, ACK! THBBBT!, engraves small snippets of humor she finds in her day and the world around her.   I believe there is no greater gift to give, than a smile.  For in smiles lay happiness.  Within happiness resides the heart.  And within the heart lies life.

Roses wrote a post about a box of crayons, her sister Lily had once given her.   A box of crayons given by their Mother, and meant for Lily.   Because this memory remained very special to Roses, she shared the story in a post on her blog.  And in sharing, she had given a poignant description that I will remember of what sisters should be like.   I now think my own sisters have given me more than I realized, more than even they realized and Roses' post made me want to give something back.

According to Roses, Lily did not remember that one small act of kindness.  Lily had given to Roses not only a box of crayons, but the memory of that day.  Roses wrote that many years later, she had tried to return in kind, the gift that Lily had given to her.   But it really wasn't the box of crayons they exchanged.  It was now Roses who did not realize, how very special that gift had become.  For in that one small act of kindness, I think she gave to Lily the real gifts that had been given to her.  The gifts of the love and friendship of sisters.

Lily, her sister, has stage 5 liver cancer and so, for their family, every day is precious.  Every hour a milestone.  Every minute a memory to save.  I have thought of them often and I have hoped and prayed.  

To Lily and Roses, I have no power to change whatever is to come, either in your lives or my own, but I do know that this day is not yet over, and for as long as that is true, I wish for you and your families more 'life' in the time you do have, but when the time has come, I hope you know that "It's not what you take with you when you leave this world behind you, it's what you leave behind you when you go."

[I had not intended to post this.  Instead, I sent it directly to Roses.  She gave me permission to share this, and for that, I thank her.]

12 November 2010

A Farewell And A Fare Thee Well...

"...I hold orders to activate in mid-November and report to Kabul, Afghanistan in time for Christmas. Bandwidth, and latitude for skylarking online will not exist until the end of 2011.The attentive may recall that I’m a Navy reservist, and Afghanistan hasn’t much coast. Welcome to the modern, double-Jointed world, where Semper Gumby (always flexible) is the watchword..."
Smitty, the other half of the blog duo on 'The Other McCain' will be doing what pretty much every other service member today is called to do.  He does so with purpose and understanding in a post you should read entitled, "Cogadh No Sìth."  A bit of Gaelic meaning, "War or Peace."
Fare thee well Smitty, with hopes and prayers for a safe return to your family.  Thank you for your service.

11 November 2010

Veteran's Day...

My family and I would like to thank every Veteran alive today.  Today's Veterans are the reason we still live on free ground, paid for with their service.  I know this.  All Veterans stand securely on the shoulders of so many who went before them.  And just like they, they build the foundation our freedom rests upon.

To every American who stands upon free Land today ~ there is no higher honor to a Veteran than to have been entrusted to stand guard for you and preserve your Freedom of Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  When all diplomacy failed, to have bodily prevented these rights of being stripped from you.  It is no less an honor to also have served any American citizen who have taken these rights for granted.  Who have not honored, showed respect or loyalty to the Veterans who have willingly stood sentinel between any bullet, bomb or weapon and youself. We have been honored to have safeguarded your right to do so.

Why are we honored to do so?  Because we realize you do not understand deep within yourself, the concept that Freedom is not hereditary.  It is not automatically passed down to you or your children.  'Freedom Is Not Free' is just a slogan for you, not a realization of fact because you have had no frame of reference to compare it with.   Freedom is paid for with sweat, blood, determination and lives when all diplomacy fails.  Less than one percent of the American population today serve in our voluntary armed forces.  They have or will have seen those same rights you take for granted, stripped from citizens of foreign countries.  When the eyes cannot deny the vivid image burned within them, the memories of the mind will not forget.   Forever more, they are changed.  Veterans who no longer serve actively, live this.

To those Veterans who no longer stand among us, I want to assure you that your spirit, loyalty, strength, courage, patriotism and life has not been in vain.  I have seen this with my own eyes.  I have felt this in my own heart.  I have nurtured this in my own soul and I have tended it with my own hands.  There are no words with depth of meaning to thank you for protecting and ensuring that I may have done so.

Those Who Have Served...


On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in the First World War, then known as "the Great War." Commemorated as Armistice Day beginning the following year, November 11th became a legal federal holiday in the United States in 1938. In the aftermath of World War II and the Korean War, Armistice Day became Veterans Day, a holiday dedicated to American veterans of all wars.A

Many Americans mistakenly believe that Veterans Day is the day America sets aside to honor American military personnel who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained from combat. That's not quite true. Memorial Day is the day set aside to honor America's war dead. Veterans Day, on the other hand, honors ALL American veterans, both living and dead. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for dedicated and loyal service to their country. November 11 of each year is the day that we ensure veterans know that we deeply appreciate the sacrifices they have made in the lives to keep our country free.D ~ Thank You For Your Sacrifices

According to the Department of Defense there are approximately 3 million Military Service Members both Active Duty and Reserve serving today.B  According to the Census Bureau web site there are approximately 310 million people living in the United States.C  Which, if you calculate the percentages... less than 1% of the population protects and defends the freedoms of this nation for the rest of us on a daily basis... 

                                                                                   DEAD                 WOUNDS NOT MORTAL

REVOLUTIONARY WAR (1775-1783)1                                             4,435                            6,188
WAR OF 1812 (1812-1815) 1                                                        2,260                           4,505
INDIAN WARS (APPROX. 1817 TO 1898)2                                        1,000
MEXICAN-AMERICAN WAR (1846-1848)1                                        13,283                           4,152
CIVIL WAR (1861-1865) (APPROX.)1,3                                          653,511                         475,907
SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR (1898-1902)1                                         2,446                            1,662
WWI (1917-1918)1                                                                 116,516                         204,002
WWII (1941-1946)1                                                                405,399                         670,846
KOREAN WAR (1950-1953)4                                                       62,321                        103,284
VIETNAM WAR (1964-1973)6                                                      59,961                        153,303
BEIRUT BARRACKS BOMBING (1983)5                                             241
PERSIAN GULF WAR - DESERT SHIELD (1990-1991)7                            93
PERSIAN GULF WAR - DESERT STORM (1990-1991)8                           304                             467
OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM (2001-TBD)9                                1,304                          14,305
OPERATION NEW DAWN (2010-TBD)10                                              7                             127
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM (2003-TBD)                                       4,408 11                      31,934 12   
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------        
                                                                                   1,341,390                       1,670,682

SOURCES:
B -  Department of Defense DoD 101 http://www.defense.gov/pubs/dod101/index.html
C U. S. Census Bureau U. S. & World Population Clocks http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html
D About.com - Honoring All Who Served - Veterans Day by Rod Powers http://usmilitary.about.com/cs/generalinfo/a/veteransday.htm

DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE - PRINCIPAL WARS IN WHICH THE UNITED STATES PARTICIPATED - U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL SERVING AND CASUALTIES
LIBRARY SPOT - AMERICA'S WARS AND CASUALTIES
CIVIL WAR STATISTICS - 3. CONFEDERATE ARMY CASUALTIES (STATISTICS INCOMPLETE)
KOREAN WAR CASUALTY SUMMARY AS OF 16 MAY 2008 - INCLUDES TOTAL DEATHS AND TOTAL - NO REMAINS
BEIRUT BARRACKS BOMBING 26TH ANNIVERSARY
VIETNAM CONFLICT - CASUALTY SUMMARY - AS OF MAY 16, 2008 - INCLUDES TOTAL IN-THEATER DEATHS AND TOTAL - NO REMAINS
PERSIAN GULF WAR - CASUALTY SUMMARY - DESERT SHIELD AS OF JANUARY 29, 2010 - INCLUDES TOTAL IN-THEATER DEATHS AND TOTAL - NO REMAINS
PERSIAN GULF WAR - CASUALTY SUMMARY - DESERT STORM AS OF JANUARY 29, 2010 - INCLUDES TOTAL IN-THEATER DEATHS AND TOTAL - NO REMAINS
GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM - OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM - BY CASUALTY CATEGORY WITHIN SERVICE OCTOBER 7, 2001 THROUGH OCTOBER 4, 2010 - INCLUDES TOTAL HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE DEATHS; INCLUDES TOTAL - MEDICAL AIR TRANSPORTS (HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE)
GLOBAL WAR ON TERRORISM - OPERATION NEW DAWN - BY CASUALTY CATEGORY WITHIN SERVICE SEPTEMBER 1, 2010 THROUGH OCTOBER 4, 2010 - INCLUDES TOTAL HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE DEATHS; INCLUDES TOTAL - MEDICAL AIR TRANSPORTS (HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE)
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - MILITARY DEATHS - MARCH 19, 2003 THROUGH OCTOBER 4, 2010  - INCLUDES TOTAL HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE DEATHS
OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM - MILITARY WOUNDED IN ACTION - MARCH 19, 2003 THROUGH OCTOBER 4, 2010  - INCLUDES TOTAL HOSTILE AND NON-HOSTILE MILITARY WOUNDED IN ACTION

10 November 2010

You Made A Difference Award - To A Few Special Veteran's Administration Facility Caregivers...

I am so NOT fond of the Veterans Administration System as a whole and the reasons for this is not subject matter for this blog.

Even so, I wanted to take the time to thank a few VA employees who are very special.  Veteran's Day is tomorrow and although they may have never served on active military duty (Guard or Reserve), there are people who have still served along side of us.  They are the forgotten ones who patch us up.  They are the ones who care enough to come in early just so they can go over their patients records, trying to get an feel for the specific needs of those veterans that they'll see that day.  They are ones who do their absolute best for their patients with what equipment, supplies and manpower they are given.  There may be a lot of hoopla about the increase in VA funding, but believe me, it is NOT reaching the rural Veteran's Administration's facilities as far as I can see.  Despite what looks like the decreasing aid given to these facilities, there are employees who could easily be working elsewhere, even in this poor economy, and for a lot more money, but still they stay.  They stay and work hard, doing so much more, with so much less.  

Within the four VA medical facilities that I have been to, there are departments that clearly don't have the staff required to serve all the veterans in need of their services and far too often they don't have backup relief staff.  Do you know what backup is?  Backup is that part of planning where you have a Plan B in case Plan A becomes a Goat [please fill in the blank] or a Cluster [please fill in the blank]  something goes wrong.  Backup is the part of planning where common sense and experience have taught you that things WILL go wrong at the absolute worst moment.   Backup is what makes the difference between effective and useless.  Backup is the safety net that ensures Veterans get the help they need when they need it.  Not three months later while waiting for an open appointment.  The help they paid for with the blood and lives of their fellow service members and their own.  The help their families paid for with a list of sacrifices too long to list.  Backup is not a category on some ledger sheet that is expendable

Do you know what preventative care is?  It's that part of planning that provides care to prevent a situation from requiring intensive and extensive care.  This is common sense that even number crunchers should be able to understand.  Veterans are not the only ones who feel anger and frustration when the reason they are unable to be seen and supplied assistance for common medical problems, much less with preventative care, is bureaucracy.   I can't imagine how much those professionals who patch us up, at least the ones who really care, feel anger and frustration by their own inability to give the care they know they can provide, the care they believe Veterans deserve enough for them to stay, despite these conditions.
To those professionals in general of whom I speak and my own VA providers, I thank you and assure you that you DO make a difference every day.  I have seen you try to squeeze just one more patient into an already overfilled daily schedule.  I have seen you come in early, go home late and honor every Veteran with your dedicated service.

To the staff at my VA Dental Clinic [you know who you are] - I want to thank all of you on staff for not only all the times you all go that extra mile I know you are not required to, simply because you really care.  I wanted you to know you have made a difference even if you don't ever hear of our appreciation or see the long term results of all you do.  Your humbleness about it does not change the fact that I know you do all this and more.   I have sat and watched you for almost a decade now.  Every time I go into your office, I see one less face that used to be there with no one to replace them.  I can't imagine how you not only continue to serve the ever increasing number of Veterans that walk through your door, but you do it with a smile, positive attitude and without complaint, never telling those patients of the cost you pay in frustration.  

Thank you for your service.  You give me hope for the Veterans Administration.