Veterans Day and Memories…..

For most people today, the idea of women in the military is considered so normal they don’t realize the different women’s services were actually in effect until the 1970s. In other words, the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), the Women’s Army Nurse Corps, Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service (WAVES) for the Navy, and Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) were all separate organizations with distinct rules as to how women could be assigned and were controlled by women. The structure was for women to be assigned only within the female service and while they had duty assignments with men, they came under the administration of other women. There were also rules such as a woman could be married, but not remain in service if she had children. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I came in during the transition period when women were being phased into the regular services and therefore I met a number of senior women who had only been familiar with the separated services. As usually happens in a major organizational shift, there were those who looked forward to the new opportunities and those who were not able to adapt.

There was of course tremendous resistance in some cases, both male and female who didn’t think integration could be successful. It was probably true there was more reluctance on the male side because they had difficulty in imagining women could handle jobs in traditionally male fields. Part of the transition was the restriction of women going into branches of Infantry, Armor, Artillery, Field Artillery and Combat Engineers. Those branches were restricted until such time as they could work out physical requirements and the psychological impact of women being placed at the “front lines”. As the type of warfare shifted so “front lines” became blurred, the very real issue of physical requirements for certain things also underwent changes due to technology advances. Some tasks that required brute strength such as lifting 50-plus pound artillery rounds were made easier by auto-loaders. In other cases, there is simply no way to lessen the muscle-driven demand. It’s not that some women aren’t as strong as some men; they, however, are the exception rather than the average. And so, when people ask me if I think it’s fair when women are still restricted from specific duties, my response is, “the mission must always come first”.

Container Gardening….

Okay, as I have mentioned, gardening in not my thing and all plants around me tend to be at risk. However, this area is extraordinary for growing and within Homestead Center for the Arts we have both the East Everglades Orchid Society and the South Dade Garden Club. The Garden Club is a more recent member than EEOS, but from what I understand, it is a fun group to be with and there are everything from novice to master gardeners. No, I’m not sure what master gardener means exactly, although I do know it includes quite a bit of work. At lunch today, we were discussing container gardening as the prime solution here for two main reasons. There are some nasty little critters that live in the soil and will do all sorts of damage unless you expend a great deal of effort in keeping them at bay. The other thing is the type of ground here is difficult to dig in despite it being an agricultural area. The commercial farms have their own techniques and equipment; individual gardeners are far better off choosing containers.

That leads to a variety of options from basic plastic to beautiful pottery in all shapes and sizes. Treated wood works, too even though extreme sun exposure is harsh. There are plenty of synthetic materials, too, and those can have a longer life. One of the easy choices if you don’t mind the initial weight are concrete blocks. You can stack them two-three high and configure them in whatever dimensions suit your available space. At only two-three high, they will tend to stay in place with just gravity so there’s no requirement for mortar. The other idea to consider is a commercial waist-high bed to allow for gardening without the need to bend over. Some sort of watering system is important of course and there is an organization that promotes the use of rain barrels. They have some clever designs and do periodic workshops. I do admire people who embrace gardening despite my personal lack of ability.

When The Time Comes…..

Serious content alert. We made the drive to Georgia yesterday. My mother-in-law passed away peacefully Saturday after a brief final illness. As I mentioned in my previous post, she had been in assisted living for a while and at age 92, this was not unexpected. The fact is at this age, many of the people who really knew her have already passed. We will be having a small, quiet graveside service later today to put her to rest next to my father-in-law.

In our busy lives, especially when geographically dispersed, it’s often  a question as to how often to visit an older loved one/friend. You know there will be a limit as to number of times available, yet there is also the idea of, “Well, people live longer these days.” Then there is the painful reality when mental abilities begin to deteriorate and the individual is simply no longer able to communicate/interact in the same way. That stage requires an understanding of why reaching out may come with a level of frustration you aren’t always prepared for. Repeated discussions about the weather may be the best you can manage.

These are not easy aspects of life to deal with and with each person who passes from you, it is of course, the good memories you hold to.

Both Expected and Not…..

Sad news alert. My mother-in-law was either 91 or 92 in the spring and she has been in assisted living for the past couple of years. Her situation is a little different from my father who has severe short-term memory loss, but is otherwise doing pretty well. In her case, she has sporadic bouts of confusion, especially with sequence of events, but can generally work through everything fairly quickly. Health-wise, she has had more conditions than my father although managing with appropriate medication and physician’s care. We received the text yesterday she’s been entered into hospice and there probably isn’t much time. My sister-in-law and her family live nearby and have been stalwart in their devotion to her. At the moment, we will wait until we know more since how one responds in hospice can be quite varied. Back when my father called me because his older brother had been placed in hospice I flew the next day to Louisiana in order to be available to drive them to Missouri. After five days elapsed (it may have been four), I returned home and I think it was another two days before he passed. We had in the meantime made other arrangements for the drive to Missouri.

The irony of this is we normally travel to Georgia to be with my husband’s family at Thanksgiving. We were unable to do so last year because of an unexpected conflict and were in the midst of making plans for the trip. I doubt his mother will be able to linger for 3 weeks, but it is possible. I won’t be posting anything to social media yet since we aren’t certain of what will happen.


Travel Home…..

It’s always nice when travel goes smoothly and especially in this case when we hit the traffic well from MIA to the house. Our schedule didn’t even require us to get up too terribly early for the morning flight.

We certainly checked off a number of blocks for the trip despite the unseasonable chilly temperatures. If all goes well, between the intensity of tasks I accomplished prior to departure, what I managed to get done yesterday, and the line-up for the next two days should get me mostly caught up. We did order pizza last night since going to the grocery store was more effort than we wanted to expend after we made it home. Besides, we did need to have breakfast pizza available for Hubby. He’s all fixed up now and in light of all the wining and dining we did, he will picking up plenty of salad when he goes shopping.

Anyway, other than our usual quick Thanksgiving trip to Georgia to see his family, we will be staying around for a while. We do still want to slip away a couple of days for the hammerhead shark diving in Bimini, although we’ve said that the past two years and haven’t made it happen yet. The main issue is the prime season for that bumps up against all kinds of other “main annual events” of some of the community activities we are involved in.

So, Happy Halloween to everyone and we’ll see if we can get the skeleton into the rocking chair for our minimal decorating. And of course, despite the number of bags of candy I bought, I’ll think, “Oh, maybe we do need a couple more.”

Trip, Day 8…….

Have completed sort of the last leg depending on how you want to count it. We spent yesterday afternoon, last night, and a bit of this morning with old friends in PA we hadn’t seen for a couple of years. They are closing in on a kitchen remodel, so we went out to eat at one of the older inns; a nice place with plenty of choices. Having had my crab cakes at lunch with the kids, I opted for a creative chicken dish, although everyone else went for seafood in one form or the other. I had already passed on the oysters on the half-shell – never been something I can deal with. Actually, I don’t eat oysters in any form, nor other mollusks for that matter. Anyway, we got caught up on lots of things and commiserated with Dodgers’ fans afterward when the outcome of the game/series seemed pretty obvious.

The trip down this morning was smooth and we’re ready for the warmer weather that has eluded us for the past week-plus. This late in October, you never quite know what you’ll get and unseasonably cool was it for the week. The rain has passed though, so that does help. Tomorrow is scheduled to be clear for good flying barring those different things one can encounter when traveling. I stocked up on Halloween candy before we left to avoid having to shop for it on the day of. If Hubby has time he will get the skeleton out of the garage and place him on the porch in the rocking chair. I don’t think we’ll mess with much of anything else and he is the most popular decoration we have anyway. I suspect the battery to ensure his eyes glow will need to be replaced and think we probably have a spare on hand.

Trip, Day 7…..

You can’t expect no rain on a 9-day trip. Mother Nature will have her way at some point. At least it did taper off early afternoon. Although Hubby didn’t get to go into DC for his photo shoot, there is a Wild Wings within decent walking distance of our friends and he had a nice lunch as well as watched some football before returning here and watching more football.

Girlfriend took me over to the National Harbor which is a great place if you haven’t been. It’s at the base of the drawbridge on the Maryland side. It’s modeled after the Inner Harbor of Baltimore with hotels, restaurants, shops, lovely water views, now a Ferris Wheel, and not too long ago an MGM resort complete with casino. It is quite large and we walked all around before going to the Sports Bar for lunch. The three really nice sit-down restaurants weren’t open until evening except for the Asian-themed Ginger and we weren’t in the mood for that. The sports bar wasn’t so loud we couldn’t talk. I probably should have had the crab cake, but may have that today with the kids.

The performance last night was enjoyable and they did include some of the younger students, mostly to give them a chance on stage before the bigger audiences for Nutcracker. Son choreographed two pieces and we would have been impressed even if we hadn’t known they were by him. Both modern and the influence of Lucy from Bowen-McCauley Dance was easy to identify. As we suspected, granddaughter was overly tired by the time it ended and we prudently decided to catch-up at early lunch today. She had become restless after the intermission and I did “Grandma duty” by taking her out to run around in the open spaces of the lobby and up and down the staircases a couple of times. We did use our “inside voice” to make sure she wasn’t disrupting the group that had some event going on upstairs. After lunch today, it’s on to PA.

Trip, Day 6…..

The Acela return trip went well and we can highly recommend it. Granted, the cab ride from the hotel to Penn Station was more circuitous and took longer than when we arrived, but I think that was a function of time of morning. The driver also put us in a spot we were not certain of at the Station although it turned out to be fine. I am glad, however, we had a red cap leading us because I think you need a couple of times at Penn Station to figure out how to get around. The ride in from DC to Alexandria was not quick of course being a Friday afternoon even though it was better than if we’d come in at peak traffic time, as we have occasionally had to do. The rain even held off to merely light until we got to friend’s house. She had already called to ask if it was okay for us to stay tucked in for the evening. We had a lot of catching up to do and that kept us out of the weather. Not totally sure about today. There is chance for rain until around 1:00. Hubby was going to the Mall area with his camera while friend and I do “girl stuff”. Mother Nature may dictate him staying in with TV though.

Talked briefly with son last night as they had to push the performance for tonight back to 8:00. Since this is with the dance studio as opposed to the performing company, the performance is not in a place with many restaurant options. We also won’t be done until pushing 9:30, do depending on how everyone is doing, coffee and ice cream sundaes at McDonald’s may be what we wind up with. Ah well, being together is what counts and we’ll have a nice lunch with the kids tomorrow before we head to Hanover, PA to see last set of friends.

Trip, Day 5…..

Time to head back to DC. For a change on a trip I was able to book all our transportation so we are not having to get up terrible early and mostly not caught in the heaviest urban traffic. Yesterday was the Museum of Modern Art with a surprisingly large exhibit about post-WW II rebuild of Yugoslavia and the subsequent development of the Adriatic as a major tourist draw. The use of concrete was a particular focus. In the gallery with the older definition of “modern”, there is something about seeing “Starry Night” in person.

Having not yet been into one of the many Irish pubs, we had lunch in the nearby Connolly’s. Hubby had traditional fish and chips and I had a salad special with shrimp.

We went early for Top of the Rock to be able to walk around and did see the skaters in the Plaza. Once we made our way through the line to get up, I told Hubby to take his time. Had the weather been less cold – quite a wind at 67 stories – 68 for him since he did that last one using the stairs – he would have hung around an extra hour to get the sun setting colors.

We’d saved the NY steakhouse for our last night and our first choice was booked. The runner-up was okay, although not what I experienced a couple of years ago at a well-known one, nor one I will name since I don’t particularly recommend it. The service was quite good though and the steaks were flavorful. The ambience was also okay and I will say it was nice to dine where we weren’t crammed up against two other tables.

I have to post this and get ready for departure. Hope the Acela trip back to DC goes as smoothly as the trip up.

Trip Day 3….

The visit to B and H, the massive store for photography and all sorts of electronics, was the prime event on the calendar. I had only somewhat jokingly said I hope there was a spa or bar or something next to it. Across the street was indeed an Irish bar, although we had passed other places close by. Had there been an actual coffee shop, I would have been in it right away. The camera “world” was on the second floor and they did have a “guest lounge” at the exit. There were seats, but let’s say the amenities were quite limited. I had allotted an hour to sit and basically play games on my phone and either through some innate sense that would be my limit or by being nearly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of equipment, Hubby appeared at about the hour mark. It was a great experience for him and he was able to see and discuss this one lens he’s been considering. He will probably rent it for an upcoming event, then decide if that will be his Christmas present. As a side note, it never occurred to me one could rent a lens, but he did so when he went to TN for the workshop. The process works quite well.

On the way to B and H, among the restaurants we passed was the Five Napkins Burger place. How could we not stop there for lunch on the return? The actual name-sake burger probably would have required five napkins had they been paper, but cloth was in use, and yes, it was messy. Hubby went with that and I had something slightly smaller; both delicious.

There was a bit more wandering around the Times Square area. We decided for this trip not to go out and about much (Top of the Rock this afternoon) and instead focus on walking. We enjoy walking and we do need the exercise. So for dinner last night, it was the Hourglass Tavern. I’d run across it when searching for places near Times Square that were not touristy. It’s an old converted brownstone and definitely not spacious. The “hourglass” part was the original restaurant was only downstairs so in order to turn the tables, they used an hourglass as a measure of time. Even after the other two floors were converted for dining, the name lingered and they do a pre-theater menu to get you out within an hour if needs be. You do have to let them know if that hour applies. I was concerned at first about the “close quarters”, but it was a delightful place and the food was quite good. Hubby had about decided on an entrée when the special turned out to be slow-cooked lamb shank. I had a lovely rosemary and garlic chicken with a honey-cumin sauce on the side.