Swimming Lessons…..

When the kids were here last December, our granddaughter was 18 months old. She was immediately attracted to the pool, although was also willing to respect an invisible border we set for her. Not that I think she would have left to her own devices, but of course she was never unattended around it. We were able to get in the pool her first two full days here and the few times her face got in the water, she shook it off and wanted to play more. The temperature dropped too much though and their last couple of days she reluctantly accepted our exaggerated display of, “Brrr, shiver, shiver” as reason not to go in.

I’ve asked the kids to see if they can find someone to teach her to swim this summer because I’m certain this coming December will be entirely different. She is almost up to reasoned sentences and will no doubt employ every bit of two-and-a-half year old logic to explain why she ought to go in the water no matter the temperature. If we’re lucky, we’ll have plenty of warm sunshine and it won’t be an issue. If not, the simple fact is the water won’t be so cold as to worry about hypothermia, but might be uncomfortable for an adult. If she can swim, I’ll be fine watching out for her in case of a problem. If they haven’t been able to get her lessons, I suppose a wet suit might be in order and I’ll keep moving while we’re in. They make toddler size tops and if some sort of flotation device is needed, that will adequately layer her. I don’t want to get her anything too early though since children do tend to change sizes pretty rapidly with those growth spurts.

I always encourage parents to have their children taught to swim as early as possible. Even if you don’t live near the water or have regular access to a pool, it’s still important because you never know when a situation might come up to be around water.

As American As…..

Released 2017

I’m not sure who first used the phrase, “As American as baseball and apple pie,” but it is particularly apt for this post considering it’s the Fourth of July. Some followers are aware I am behind in publishing my regular books. After having spent a lot of effort in co-authoring Mystery of the Last Olympian, the book about HMHS Britannic, a sister ship to RMS Titanic, that also met with tragedy, I would ordinarily have returned to one of my mysteries and the fourth in the Small Town quilting cozy series. However, I was drawn into a project to co-author the memoirs of baseball catcher Benito Santiago, who played in Major League Baseball from 1986-2005. Since neither Hubby nor I follow baseball, the project required far more research time than I originally anticipated. Combine that with the many activities I am involved with and being pulled back into writing for the community newspaper and the result was a shifting of priorities. Benito is from Puerto Rico so I did have a clear understanding of the small towns he grew up in and the background where so many boys dream of making it into “The Big Leagues”. During the 2-plus years we were on the island, we often went through those towns and the love of baseball is seen everywhere.

The book, Benito Santiago Behind the Mask: My Life of Baseball, is only out in book format right now and will be on e-book in about a month. The Spanish version will be released later since having a book translated turned out to be far more difficult than I expected and it isn’t finished yet. It has been quite the experience, but if you are a baseball fan, there will be some behind-the-scenes stories you should enjoy.

Happy Fourth to everyone!

Some Local History…..

Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum (Opened 1917)

The week has been extra busy as one of the boards I am involved with is the Historic Homestead Town Hall Museum. We put together a small reception for our Centennial yesterday and it also marked the retirement of the founder and director who recently celebrated her 97th birthday. (There is some question as to the precise number, but that’s close if not exact). She actually came here in the closing years of WW II and later married into one of the town’s pioneering families. She always worked which was a bit unusual in the 1940s and 1950s. She owned a couple of different businesses and thus became involved in local politics. As the first female Vice-Mayor, she had an impact in several areas. She was well-known around town and the surrounding communities. The Town Hall, which was the first municipal building opened after the town incorporated, was originally the Town Hall, Fire Station and Police Station. In the way these things happen, as the town grew and eventually built a new Fire Station, Police Station and Town Hall, there were  people who held no sentimental value for the original building. With a 5-2 vote to tear it down and create more parking, this lady stood firm at her approximate five feet tall and rallied like-minded citizens.

I can only imagine what some of the discussions must have been and yet, those who wanted to preserve the local history prevailed. The building was saved and then the effort was launched to turn the ground floor into a museum. Who better then to be the Director?  As I think I have mentioned in previous posts, this area has a young history because climate and topography prevented development until the late 1880s. In one sense though, that also means if the history can be preserved, there is a good chance it can be an uninterrupted history. Our museum has limited resources and only the single paid employee which means the volunteers do quite a few tasks. We’re entering a new era and will have to see how things unfold.

Bits of the Past….

During the visit with my friend earlier this month, she asked why I hadn’t written my own memoirs about my time in the Army. As I’ve explained in the blog, I’m not ready to do that yet. Occasionally, certain things do pop up that remind me of particular incidents I don’t mind relating and that happened as I am trying to work my schedule for a trip to Louisiana. Fort Campbell, Kentucky is home to the 101st Airborne Division (The Screaming Eagles) that played prominently in WW II. They later converted from Airborne to Air Assault which has to do with the use of helicopters. It is a huge post with lots of different military units and when I was assigned there, not a large percent of women. I was not in the division, but with a major unit that provided logistical support (maintenance, supplies, fuel, etc.) Because of an oddity of timing in my first assignment to Germany, I held a couple of positions no female had previously held and in fact, worked a level above my lieutenant rank.

Anyway, my first assignment at Fort Campbell was in a position where there had been some problems and I helped get things back on track. There was a regular rotation system for younger officers and as the Battalion Commander (Lieutenant Colonel) was discussing the moves, my name came up as potential for a position no female had ever held. He wasn’t comfortable with the idea of a woman being in that role and said I could have a similar role which would have been okay. I wasn’t surprised when I was given the news. Unknown to me, however, my Captain commander went back and stood up for me. In the meantime, I was talking to my dad on the phone and when I described the complexity and responsibility of the position I really wanted and why I wasn’t going to get it, his response was, “Well, I can’t blame him. I’m not sure I’d put a woman in charge of that either.” Sigh, it was the context of the times. I won’t go into the details of what happened, but I did get the more challenging job and was in fact the first female in the history of Fort Campbell to hold a position of that type. I can’t say I didn’t make some mistakes during my tenure, but all-in-all, everything worked out.

A New Non Profit……

There is certainly no shortage of worthy non-profit organizations to give to. A few years ago I did a post about how at some point we all have to choose to not give to some we might want to, because we simply can’t add another one to our list. As an aside, a friend of mine once made the comment that she had stopped giving to any of the “big” charities because she was involved in local causes where she could see the direct result of what she was helping with. At any rate, in the writing I do for our community newspaper, one of my primary focuses is the many area non-profits and the heart-warming stories of what they do. (And yes, some of the people they help can come with heart-breaking stories)

When I was recently contacted about a new group, Brightseasons Foundation, I was a little unclear as to their goals and during the interview for the piece for the South Dade News Leader, I was delighted to learn about them. The article ran in yesterday’s (well, Thursday’s) paper although it isn’t posted on-line yet. Their website is http://brightseasons.org and they are just getting established as a group. There are 27 women on the board (yes, guys are also volunteers) and their purpose is to give a “hand-up” in situations where other assistance might not be available. There are examples on the website, so I won’t steal their thunder and do invite you to check them out if you want to have one of those “feel good” moments.

If you’re local, you might know someone who needs help, and if you’re not local, you may know of similar groups.

4:00 A.M.Musings…..

I haven’t gone on-line yet to look it up, but the past few mornings have been worse than usual with my insomnia. For quite some time now, when that 3:00 a.m. hits and I can’t get back to sleep, I move to the love seat where I stretch out, and turn a show on with something not overly stimulating at a low volume. This generally causes me to drift back to sleep with half an hour. Not so yesterday and I didn’t think it would be much better this morning. As a note of interest, there would be several misspelled words here, but they are being caught by the little “red underline” that apparently doesn’t require sleep. Anyway, maybe I am cycling through where I can actually function with five hours for a short time. I am having a cup of herbal tea rather than put the coffee on yet. See, 4:00 a.m. doesn’t bother me much a couple of mornings a week. As most people who know me are aware, I am normally up between 5:00-5:30. Therefore, 4:00 isn’t that much earlier. The 3:00 though, that’s different. I do have one of those combined sleep aide/pain relief things that seems to work, but I don’t like to take them every night. I realize they claim they are not habit-forming and perhaps not. I simply don’t like to take pills other than basic vitamins and supplements.

It’s possible I will be able to fit in a nap, which will help. That didn’t actually work yesterday though which is why I thought for sure I’d sleep longer this morning. Ah well, what’s done is done and my guess is I’m up for the day. On the other hand, during the time when my son didn’t consistently sleep through the night until he was four years old, the idea of sleeping five straight hours was blissful. I suppose I should keep that perspective.

“What You’re Telling Me Is Impossible”…..

Musing content ahead.  We all make mistakes at times and most of us form opinions that may also turn out to be incorrect because the source we used to form that opinion was flawed in some way. Those are errors we can acknowledge and learn from; it’s part of maturing. On the other hand, many of us have known individuals who hate to admit mistakes and may try to slide responsibility to others. When someone you are supposed to be able to trust lies to you repeatedly, that is another category.

The movie, “Shattered Glass”, is based on a real-life situation of a young reporter for a very prestigious magazine who wanted to be a star. Being in a deadline-driven profession, especially when you have many competitors, comes with a great deal of stress. Maybe this young man simply reacted to a stress event the first time he fabricated part of a story. The movie doesn’t go into that aspect. There was a change of editors at the magazine and the young man in question belonged to a core of writers who were loyal to the previous editor. So, when the initial allegations were made that the young man had seriously erred in an article that was published, most people in the magazine thought it was a jab from the new editor. As it turns out in the course of the movie, the young man had fabricated at least part of more than half the articles he’d written to include during the tenure of the previous editor. One of the senior editors who was refusing to believe they could have all been fooled by him was finally forced to acknowledge the depth of betrayal. When asked why she couldn’t see it, her response was, “Because what you’re telling me is impossible.”  Sadly, we, like those in the movie, can occasionally encounter individuals who for reasons of ambition, or a need for attention, or malice, or other motive will  lie skillfully and repeatedly. I hope you don’t ever have to deal with it, but should you be in such a situation, be willing to accept the possibility.

Rolling Hills and Red Barns…..

Aside from the delightful evening I spent with the members of the Darting Needles Quilting Guild and seeing my old friend for the first time in more than ten years, my trip to Wisconsin gave me the chance to visit a part of the country I had not previously been to. There were indeed lots of rolling hills, very green grass and trees, lovely wild flowers and plenty of barns and silos. Cows, of course and I passed multiple billboards showing various cheese stores. They must also have a huge deer population because there was a surprising number of dead deer along the roadways. I did go zipping past Wisconsin Dells, “The Water Park Capital of the World,” but didn’t have time to stop. It certainly looked like it would be a fun place.

The little town where my friend lives is very much a “Small Town, U.S.A” with only a couple of streets for the downtown, a park at the end, and the post office, City Hall, and senior center all clustered close together. The hospital is fairly new and in addition to robust medical services for a place the size it is, there was a very large fitness center. We did not go inside, but it looked to be well equipped and there was an indoor swimming pool. All of this makes good sense in a place with difficult winters.

A regional fast-food chain was Culvers, but it is a family-based business that emphasizes fresh ingredients and their specialty is frozen custard. It is apparently made fresh on the premises. They do have a small freezer stocked with to-go containers. It’s one of the kind of places where you order at the counter and they bring your food to the table. The staff was quite friendly and I could see why it was a favorite.

Headed Home….

If you have a long layover, Atlanta is a good airport to be in. I haven’t checked the flight status yet, but so far it appears there are no delays. It’s been a good trip, but I’m ready to get home. Of course as it turns out, I am dealing with a couple of issues that have required my attention and I have to follow-up with as soon as I get home. Neither is a good situation, and yet, one of the reasons I am involved with the groups I am is because I bring problem solving skills. Therefore, when we have a problem, my brain does kick into gear. Anyway, that’s not the point of this post.

It’s been a productive trip and on the flight from Milwaukee there was a father and son who apparently booked late. They had to be in separate seats, both a middle and one in front of the other. As the dad was trying to decide who would be in which seat, I smiled and said, “I’ll take care of him if you’d like. It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I remember how.” He gave me a grateful look and the boy sat next to me. He was incredibly polite and six years old. As it turned out, he did not have a pair of earphones and I had some in my purse. He wanted to watch the Lego Batman movie (he’d only seen it once) and I asked his dad if it would be okay for me to give him mine. It was, and when the service cart came around, the boy asked for apple juice and granola bar rather than soda and cookies. It was a pleasure to see and then as we landed, I watched the dad politely offer to take carry-on luggage down for a woman and gesture for her to precede them into the aisle.  The boy obviously had a good role model.

I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the last leg home and will check back in with a report tomorrow.

Day 3 into Day 4…..

Poignant thoughts alert. Although my time with the quilting guild was absolutely delightful, there was no way they could cover my expenses for this is trip. I came because it was truly fortuitous. Of all the places I could have been invited to speak, what are the odds there would be a group within a five-hour drive of my friend whom  I had not seen since 2003? If one chooses to not believe in such things, that’s fine.

My drive over yesterday was pretty much without incidence, other than the fact they failed to replace a directional sign I needed after doing some roadwork last year. As I was going along and felt perhaps I had missed a turn somewhere, I stopped for a bathroom/beverage break and being female had no problem asking if I had in fact missed a turn. The young lady immediately said, “Oh yes, everyone does that,” and explained the problem. I was only about ten miles off’ so that wasn’t too bad. I arrived within fifteen minutes of my original plan which from my perspective put me on target.

My friend and I passed a pleasant afternoon catching up and reminiscing. We had dinner that night with her daughter who is only a year younger than me and lost her husband unexpectedly Thanksgiving morning. The irony here is I met my friend years ago after she lost her husbandly unexpectedly at the too-young age of forty-five. However, since I lost my first husband unexpectedly at twenty-seven, I was able to help her sort through the intense emotions. And so, last night we were both able to sit there and offer support to her grieving daughter. Such is the power of female friendship.