Memorial Day – Because Sometimes We Forget

Captain Eleanor Grace Alexander died on November 30 1967 in a plane crash in Binh Dinh, South Vietnam. I did not know anything about her until I made a point to find out who she was and how she died after seeing her name at the Vietnam War Memorial Wall. Eleanor Grace Alexander was one of eight active duty women who died during that war. She was 27 and unmarried.

Born the same year as my mother she would have been 70 on September 18 had she survived. Having read first hand accounts from people who knew her and several who served with her including Rhona Marie Knox Prescott who wrote this moving letter which is part of the Veteran’s History Project in the Library of Congress, I am grateful there was a record so that some of my questions could be answered.

As an American child of the sixties, it was the Vietnam War that was the backdrop of my daily life with body counts and war updates delivered each night by men like Walter Cronkite of CBS news. Sadly we are still at war, still fighting, and still burying the dead. Although we do battle in different countries now, the result is the still the same for many and unless your life has been touched directly by loss it can be easy to forget why we recognize Memorial Day, why it’s more than a precursor to summer fun and pool side parties. I’m guilty of forgetting in the past, of treating the three-day weekend that leads into Memorial Day as a much needed respite from a too full life. What I hope to never forget is that I’ve had a chance to live the life I have thanks in part to men and women who died in wars long before I was born.

I plan to take a few minutes today to think about Eleanor Grace Alexander and my great uncle, Hugh Lee Stephens who died in WWII.

Is there someone today that you need to remember … I only ask because I know from experience that sometimes without meaning to, we forget.

Budding Director Captures The Moment

Look closely at the image below and you should be able to see two figures in the distance, one in red and one in blue. If you can’t see them, click on the image to make it larger and if after that you still can’t see them, go get your glasses and give it another try.

Okay, now for the brief backstory … John and I took Jersey Girl down to the river today so I could decide where to hide the clues for my treasure hunt on Wednesday. As I was taking pictures of hiding places and counting off paces and writing down the details needed for creating a treasure map, I happened to look up and notice that in the distance there was something happening that looked kind of interesting. So I snapped a series of photographs that after viewing I just had to share.

When we first walked through the meadow, I tried to teach JG how to hold a blade of grass between her thumbs and blow on to make a series of bird sounds. After working our way through multiple blades of grass with little success, we decided to try again later. When I saw JG with John’s video camera in hand, I knew that John was probably putting the lesson on tape.

Seeing him lift his hands up and hearing him make a few sounds that sounded a bit like a squawk confirmed what I had been thinking and I was glad that I had managed to catch their cute interaction if only from a distance.

The shot below was the one I couldn’t see clearly due to the distance, but by some bit of luck I managed to snap the image of a little budding director giving her granddad the thumbs up sign signaling a successful capture.

I can almost hear her saying, ” Got it, well done, Bapa. “

While the pictures above make me chuckle at the easy confident interaction I’ve witnessed many times between them, it’s the one below that makes my heart feel tender. I haven’t see the video JG made of her Bapa today, but from the look on their faces while reviewing the footage, I think it will certainly be something to remember.

When You Are Five Going On Six

When you are five going on six,

you like to help in the kitchen by stirring the mix.

When it’s all done and ready to eat, you pour on the syrup to make it taste sweet.

It isn’t quite perfect as hearts rarely are,

but it’s crunchy and filling and will carry you far.

Boris you see sitting there in his chair, is waiting for help like a good little bear.

When Boris has had all he can eat, we take some outside to give the birds a nice treat.

Since some like a place to rest while they eat,

we’ll leave some snacks on the bird table sure to make them sing, “tweet tweet.”

As you can see we are off to a good start of our visit with Jersey Girl. She assisted in writing the story today with Boris the Bear extending a few editorial comments as well. Thanks too for the heart-shaped waffle suggestions. JG picked from the choices available and I must say, I always like it when the heart wins.

We’re Having A Child

Calling one of my local American friends today, we did a quick catch up, ” How have you been, fine how about you, ” and then I said, ” John and I are having a child …” and before I could finish my sentence, I think she said something like ” Whaaaat “

Like me, Gillian has a British husband, but they also have two children who happen to be the perfect age to hang out with John’s granddaughter, Jersey Girl. Children are out of school both here and on Jersey for the next few weeks and John flew over to bring JG back to stay with us next week. So what I was trying to say was, “John and are having a child with us next week and I want to invite you and your family to a little pirate themed party on Sunday.” Once she realized I wasn’t trying to join the ranks of older women intent on increasing the size of their family, we settled into the details of the party.

It’s funny how many women there are with children in the six to seven age range in my local circle of friends. I fall into this weird place of being about nine or ten years older than most of them except Gillian who’s still a baby in her late thirties. She’s a natural entertainer making her great person to have at a party and I was pleased she agreed to join us. Tina, who I’ve mentioned before and Lara, a new running buddy, will be coming with their children bringing the child total up to a manageable seven.

I’ve almost forgotten what it’s like to have a little one to plan a party for since my own daughter will be twenty-three soon, but I have been planning a fun outing for us down by the river. It’s a perfect place for a pirates picnic compete with a treasure map that I plan to hide in the river (more like a creek in size next to the party area) in a bottle tied up with string.

I love to come up with rhyming clues and have been testing some out as I get ready to create the map. I’m off in a minute to scout out hiding places and then back home to bake and make some party treats.

I’ve already painted an egg carton metallic gold for a small treasure chest and I have a larger one that looks like a crystal jewel box for the larger candy treats. I even made pirate spy glasses and painted a styrofoam sheet metallic gold so it can be a big doubloon for the party.

Fingers crossed it goes off as well as it looks in my head. I’d hate to think there might be a mutiny because between you and me, I am not walking the plank.

February 1, 2009 - Me with Jersey Girl

UPDATE: She’s here, Jersey Girl is in the house!

After bed, bath and reading the book, Angelina’s Birthday, Jersey Girl fell fast asleep. She wants waffles for breakfast having remembered them from her last visit. I think I may have to cut them into a special shape to surprise her. Hmm, now what kind of shape should I do …. suggestions anyone?

Distractions – Bright & Beautiful

When bright flowers bloom

Parchment crumbles, my words fade

The pen has dropped …

~ Morpheus

I make deals with myself sometimes … with the life long experience of a master negotiator, I have whole, silent, in my head conversations that frequently begin with something like this, if you do this for the next three hours, then you can …

Today is one of those days.

Had I Known You Were Coming, I Would Have Baked A Cake

Atlanta – December – 2006

That’s me in the cell phone picture above, wearing a borrowed apron while presenting the first cake I ever made from scratch to my guests at a Christmas party in Atlanta. Judging from that smile and what I remember, I was clearly giddy with delight at how well it turned out. Yesterday was a day like that for me too. After clicking publish on yesterday’s post, I checked a few blogs that I read regularly and went out for a run that quickly turned into more of a brisk walk due to a pulled back muscle.

Imagine my surprise when I realized on my return that my blog had been selected by Joy, an editor at WordPress, as one of eleven blogs to be showcased on the Freshly Pressed site for WordPress.com. It is always special to receive recognition, whether it’s a group of your friends with an appreciative sweet tooth eating up your first apple cake or a group of strangers who show up all at once to see what’s shaking at your place … support like that can quickly make a girl go all giggly and Sally Field-ish.

It was great fun to see your comments and watch my sitemeter numbers go up throughout the day and although they didn’t climb quite as high as they did when Pioneer Woman sent all her friends over for a visit, it was pretty exciting on its own.

Thanks to everyone who took time yesterday to leave a comment and say hello. I haven’t made it around to all of your sites yet, but if you have one, I’ll be by later today and if you happen to be feeling like serving a little snack, I’d love a cup of coffee and a piece of cake.

In case you don’t have a good cake recipe of your own, I’m happy to share my favorite from Carole Clements, The Cooks Handbook.


What Remains The Same

Elizabeth Harper – Athens, Greece – Summer 1981

Yes … that’s me. This image came from an old slide from my army days, one of many that I’ve been moving from place to place for years. With twenty-one just around the corner, this younger, thinner version of me thought she knew a few things about life and while I’d had some experiences by then that most of my friends from high school had not, like breaking down an M-16 rifle in the dark, or leaving home at eighteen for my first military assignment in Germany, I was clearly not rocking the world with my fashion sense.

I mean, really …what was I thinking with that tight curly perm and if that wasn’t bad enough, how in the world did I think it was okay to go out in public wearing those cutoff short shorts! That sock-less running shoe look while not pretty kept me from getting blisters when I ran my first marathon in those bright yellow Nikes and I was still wearing Nikes twenty-six years later when I ran my second one.

These days, I wear my shorts a good bit longer and I ditched the perms twenty years ago, but check out that camera I have hanging around my neck … most of us change a great many things through the years such as behaviors that are no longer useful, bad hair styles, career choices, and sometimes husbands and partners, but there are some parts of us that are with us for the duration and central to the core of who we are no matter where we’re standing or what direction we may be looking.

I bet you don’t need three guesses to know what remains constant for me. It’s there in almost every photograph whether it’s around my neck, hanging off my shoulder, or in my hand, a camera of some kind is always with me and while not exactly a fashion accessory, it appears now it is has become a necessory item for completing my look. How about you, is there something about you that people have come to expect will be there, always the same whenever they see you?

Elizabeth Harper – Cornwall, England – Summer 2008