Posts Tagged ‘time’

Birthday Blog: 2017

February 23, 2017

Another birthday, another year, I won’t tell you my exact age, but I’m right on the line between “baby boomers” and the one before that, which Tom Brokaw calls the “Greatest Generation”. But this blog isn’t about me; it’s about and for my folks.

Blogger disclaimer: I wondered in the past about social media, about very personal information, Uncle Jack’s favorite chili recipe notwithstanding, actually I thought it was very tasty :), or other more intimate information. Being a private person, it didn’t sit well with me, telling the world those things that should be reserved only for the person who is sharing or for their family and close friends. Breaking through that shell of privacy, in this blog post I’m sharing very personal information. It just seemed appropriate to say it after all these years, as a tribute to my Mom and Dad.

Don’t Ever Take Them for Granted

Taking parents for granted is not something anyone should do. When they’re around, you should appreciate and cherish them. My Mom and Dad have both been gone a long time, my Mom in 1964 and my Dad in 1985. When I hear people talk about their parents, no matter what the context, it makes me think of my own parents.

First, and most important, they were good parents, in all the ways parents should be good parents – disciplining, education, providing a home, and more. On Sundays (and other days), my Mom always had dinner ready on time. With my Dad, it was doing stuff like hunting and fishing, which we did a lot of. I had many wonderful father-son “bonding experiences” with my Dad.

Rites of Passage

Pow, the loud sound broke the silence of the cold morning air. My Dad had driven us out to one of his favorite spots on the deer lease, called “Devil’s Hollow”. The lease, a big ranch probably 500-600 acres, was in the Texas hill country near Mason many hours drive away from our home in southeast Texas. All layered up to ward off the sub-freezing cold, we trudged up the hills with our rifles until we found a good spot behind a scrub oak tree. I got settled in to wait, and my Dad left. The viewpoint was great with a clear view across the draw and to the left and right. I was about 14 years old at the time. I had my hand warmers going and my multiple layers of clothing but was still cold. Soon a nice 8-point buck stepped out about 90-100 yards away across the draw. I took careful aim with the scoped rifle and shot him through the right shoulder. He took a step or two and went down. I stayed in place behind the scrub oak, and the “buck acres” started (see note). Basically, the shakes, it happens to hunters, athletes, etc. after something exciting just happened. Another buck materialized on my left, possibly a trophy buck, within easy shooting distance, but I missed (too much excitement). My Dad, who had barely enough time to get down the hill, came back to help me. We went over and field-dressed the deer and packed him down the hill. My first deer, it was a great morning for a young kid!

Note:  OK, “buck acres” is a colloquial expression, hopefully I spelled it correctly, but deer hunters are familiar with it. I couldn’t verify it online.

One of my big regrets in life is that I didn’t do more of the “man thing” with my son when he was growing up. Oh we’d set off rockets, take the skiff out on the lake to fish, and stuff like that, but that was about it. All Dads should be aware that once those years are gone, they’re gone. If you’re a Dad, don’t mess up, and I’m not excluding daughters, spend quality time with them too.

A Belated Eulogy for My Dad

I don’t remember my Dad ever saying I love you, but I don’t begrudge him for that because I know he loved me. I loved and still love you, Dad. So this is my belated eulogy to you, Dad, perhaps to make up for the shaky knees and quavering voice that I had at your funeral service in 1985, reading some Bible verses, and wanting to say more. This is my testimony to you 32 years later. Rest in peace, Dad.

1 Peter 1:24: “For all men are like grass, and all their glory is like flowers of the field, the grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”

A Belated Eulogy for Mom

Her passing was more than 20 years earlier than my Dad, in 1964. The details of her personality and her life are not totally clear in my memory, but some things stand out. I mentioned her dinners (we used to say “supper”) were consistently on time. On Sundays after church, as I recall it was usually roast beef, mashed potatoes, and green beans. My love of cookies comes from my Mom – she’d make peanut butter cookies with the impressions made with a fork and homemade tapioca pudding, yum! The house was always neat and clean.

I’m going to quote from an old letter (January 21, 1959), just an excerpt, which I think speaks volumes of what kind of person my Mom was:

“Dearest Elaine,

How are you? I’m so ashamed of myself for not writing or calling. I think of you many times a day and pray that you are adjusting yourself to your aloneness. No one can know what you are going through until they go through the loss of their loved one. I do feel that you and Edwin had something within your own lives that few, few married people ever find. It seems very ironical and sad that mortals cannot express themselves naturally and freely. I have never learned to show or let others know how I feel.”

1 Corinthian 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”

Liberty, Texas Memories

Interestingly, in 2013 I went back to Liberty for my 50-year high school reunion. Besides seeing my friends that I hadn’t seen in a half century, a couple of other notable events happened. Going to a pep rally at the new high school and a Friday night football game was a real treat, and it seemed like I was back in 1963 (Back to the Future) sitting in the stands cheering for the team (they won). But more importantly as planned, I went to see my Mom’s grave site (pictures of both my Mom’s and Dad’s grave sites are below). I wanted to decorate the headstone and found the red flowers at a store in town.

The other thing that I had planned on my trip was to go see my old house. I knew that it was still there because I Googled it before I left Portland. As I zoomed-in in Google, I was kind of amazed to see it after so much time had passed. One day I drove over to the house. It had a For Sale sign in the yard so I called the agent to see if I could look at the house. She made a call; I went over, knocked on the door, and was greeted by a friendly face. The woman living there went to high school with my younger sister, which at the time I thought was an amazing coincidence, but you know Liberty is a small town. That and good ole Texas hospitality might have been the primary reasons why I was able to visit my old home so easily. Walking in the front door, I experienced one of those serendipitous moments, like I was time traveling back to my earlier life. The furniture and decor were different, but the floor plan was the same. I walked past the living room straight into the kitchen where my Mom prepared all those meals for us. The door to the garage was on the right, more memories of pickled snakes and of freshly killed deer hanging from the rafters waiting to be processed for the freezer. Not my Mom’s favorite place to hang out. We took the stairs to see my sisters’ bedroom and my brother’s and my bedroom at the end of a long hallway. This was the same room where I had to repaint the walls and ceiling in one corner because of a disastrous lab experiment with my new chemistry set, a Christmas present.

I’m going to wrap this up with pictures and music.

Links to previous blogs about Liberty, Texas:

Growing Up in Texas

Pep Rally and the Game

Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young: Our House

 

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Stuff Happens

August 18, 2016

Couch Potato Blues

If you read my last post, about Crystal City, I said something about episodes or turning points in our lives. Some turning points obviously are more major than others, such as what happened to people at Crystal City. My story here is a minor inconvenience by comparison.

Pink Floyd: On the Run (Dark Side of the Moon)

It Was Only a Small Rock!

I run. Sometimes I talk with others when I run. My left foot landed squarely on top of a rock, not large, but it fractured the fifth metatarsal bone – that’s the one that connects the little toe to the ankle. Metatarsals help provide arch support and balance. Sometimes called a stress fracture, people who do physical activities like dancing or running tend to be more prone to this type of injury. On my x-ray you could hardly even see the faint line that indicated a fracture – hopefully it will heal quickly.

Pink Floyd: Time (Dark Side of the Moon)

What’s Plan B?

When stuff happens that affects your life and your lifestyle, such as being very active (running, cycling, swimming, working out), then what? Maybe I’ll find some good quotes and include those – if life gives you lemons, make lemonade or whatever. You might like Ron White’s updated version of the lemonade quote below.

What the heck, try these quotes on for size.

Steve Jobs
Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith.
Read more really good quotes about life.
Ron White
I believe that if life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade… And try to find somebody whose life has given them vodka, and have a party.
Pink Floyd: Breathe in the Air (Dark Side of the Moon)

What’s Your Point?

Actually, that’s what a family member (near and dear) says to me when I start rambling on about some run I just did – she’s not a runner, but I still love her. Not sure I have a specific point, just killing time while my foot heals. Got tired of Netflix, so I thought I’d do some blogging.

The pictures in the slide show I took after one of my favorite 10K runs in Estacada, Oregon. Very interesting place as you can see in the pictures. Be sure to check out Fearless Brewing if you’re in the neighboorhood.

Signing off for now, time for more boring Netflix. Never fear, I’ll be trucking on down the road before you know it! Enjoy the pictures and the music!

Willie Nelson: On the Road Again

 

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What Happened at Crystal City? (Part IV)

August 12, 2016

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The Monkees: Last Train to Clarksville

Saying Goodbye to Crystal City

On February 27, 1948, the Crystal City Internment Camp officially closed. I’m writing this 68 years later in August 2016. I’m not by nature a history buff, never was when I was in school, and I’m only a bit more of a history buff now. However, the whole story about Crystal City got under my skin and made me want to try to understand why it happened.

Stuff Happens, but All Lives Matter

Try this, to put it in perspective for you, to make it personal. Think about something that happened in your life, perhaps a turning point, a wrong decision, a happenstance that sent you down a whole different path. Maybe it was temporary and your life later returned to “normal”. I can think of several episodes in my life – serving a year in Vietnam as a sailor, moving my family cross-country not once but twice. Give it some thought, and you’ll probably come up with at least one episode. How would it have affected your life if you had been one of the thousands of Germans, Italians, or Japanese who were interned (confined) in a camp during WWII?

The answer is “dramatically” of course. Read the following quotes from the book.

More Quotes from Jan Russell’s Book

“Eb Fuhr, who was 17 when he was interned and 22 when he was released said, ‘No one can appreciate the intense terror of government power and the despair of hopelessness that we felt behind that barbed-wire fence’. Then he said, ‘By the same token, no one can appreciate the thrilling sense of freedom I felt when it was over.'”

“Carmen Higa Mochizuki was eleven years old when her father, a poor farmer in Peru who made his living selling milk from his cows was arrested. The government seized her father’s assets. They lost everything in an instant. Her mother, father, and nine siblings were transported to the United States, under American military guard, from Callao, Peru to New Orleans. Their passports and visa were confiscated.”

“At the port in New Orleans, the women, and children were marched to a warehouse, forced to strip, and made to stand in line naked. ‘Then we were all sprayed with insecticide that stung our skin,’ remembered Carmen. ‘Since we had no passports or proof of identity we were arrested as illegal aliens and put on a train to Crystal City. During the train ride, the sister thought we might be killed there.'”

“Politics” Defined: Merriam-Webster
  • “Activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government
  • The work or job of people (such as elected officials) who are part of a government
  • The opinions that someone has about what should be done by governments : a person’s political thoughts and opinions”

Does politics enter into any of this? Was Executive Order 9066, the order that allowed FDR to set up Crystal City even legal. I decided to do some research to answer that question.

Some Wikipedia Stuff

“United States presidents issue executive orders to help officers and agencies of the executive branch manage the operations within the federal government itself.”

By the way, don’t feel obligated to use the links, but you might find the information edifying.

Use this link to see a list of the number of executive orders issued by past presidents and the current president. By far the most, FDR issued over 3,000 executive orders. You might note that the Federal Register, especially if you’re a “research hound” like me, makes for some very interesting reading about what has been published by various agencies.

There is no constitutional provision nor statute that explicitly permits executive orders. The term executive power in Article II, Section 1, Clause 1 of the Constitution refers to the office of President as the executive. He (or she) is instructed therein by the declaration “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” made in Article II, Section 3, Clause 5 or face impeachment.

From ThisNation.com (August 8, 2016)

“Executive Orders are controversial because they allow the President to make major decisions, even law, without the consent of Congress. This, of course, runs against the general logic of the Constitution — that no one should have power to act unilaterally. Nevertheless, Congress often gives the President considerable leeway in implementing and administering federal law and programs. Sometimes, Congress cannot agree exactly how to implement a law or program. In effect, this leaves the decision to the federal agencies involved and the President that stands at their head. When Congress fails to spell out in detail how a law is to be executed, it leaves the door open for the President to provide those details in the form of Executive Orders.”

Wrapping it Up

Remember Howard Beale in Network. See my earlier blog, America, Part 2, August 1, 2013. Are you madder than hell and not willing to take it anymore?

I told myself I’d let this piece about Crystal City speak for itself and not politicize over it. But I felt compelled to add a bit of political content to educate and make sure the issues were clear.

For me, the bottom line question is, if in fact the U.S. government was instituted (from day 1) to serve the needs of the American people, are the American people’s needs being served?

That’s it, I hope Crystal City was a good read for you!

Blogger’s Note

I  am admittedly a “train freak”, something about the sounds, the vibrations as it passes, etc. If you happen to be in Sacramento, I highly recommend you go to the California State Railroad Museum. I was there in 2008 and was very impressed with the exhibits (several full-size engines) and a well-presented history of the transcontinental railroad. The museum sits on the site where it ended.

Blind Faith: Can’t Find My Way Home

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What Happened at Crystal City (Part III)

May 30, 2016

First Things First

In Part I, there is a picture with the caption, “What is It?”. Maybe you weren’t fooled ..

It was merely a garden ornament masquerading as a miniature planet (somewhat earth-like).

The Power of Love (from the Back to the Future soundtrack)

What’s the Big Deal?

OK, so what, the federal government decided to imprison a lot of people against their will because they might be a threat to America. That seems reasonable and justifiable, right? Obviously, not the power of love.

I had to think about what all of it meant to me after I started reading Jan Russell’s book, which as I said before, is really quite interesting and revealing. Note the following passage from her book. Go to Amazon if you want to snag a copy.

“By August 1945, the machinery of internment implemented during the run-up to the war in December 1941, was already being taken apart. Already many of the fifty-four internment camps  operated by the US military and the thirty camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service had shut down. The camp at Crystal City, the only family camp, was still open, but with a reduced population That summer 2,548 Japanese, 756 Germans, and 12 Italian internees were left.”

The author estimated that there were approximately 6,000 internees incarcerated at Crystal City during its six years of operation. It was officially closed on February 27, 1948. I had just turned three at the time and was living in Texas.

In her preface to the book, the author talks about the 120,000 Japanese (62% of them American-born) who were forcibly evacuated from the Pacific coast after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. She also talks about the executive order signed by President Roosevelt, which permitted the secretary of war to arrest and incarcerate Japanese, Germans, and Italians who had been declared “enemy aliens”.

Just an aside, as you mull over the previous two paragraphs, I want to comment on the effort and methods used to write the book, which author Russell describes in detail in the sources and notes. As a writer, I thoroughly appreciate the effort it took to compile the information. Interestingly, another book, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, also involved internment during World War II and was very well-researched and written and also relied heavily on personal interviews.

It Is a Big Deal!

The answer of course is yes, it is a big deal. I may do more Crystal City installments, after going through the book in more detail and gaining more insights into how I feel about what happened and how I should respond. OK, it was just plain wrong, all of it – there, I’ve said it. Am I going to recommend to others how they should respond? No, it’s up to each individual to make up their mind how to respond.

Back to the Future Main Theme (City of Prague Philharmonic)
A Quick Tour of Washington and Yamhill Counties in Oregon

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What Happened at Crystal City? (Part II)

May 9, 2016
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Gospodor Monument

Note about the pictures and the music: One of the structures in the monument represents the Holocaust, which seemed to be an appropriate photo for this blog. Please Google Gospodor Monument for more information. The picture in Part I, if you’re still curious about it, will eventually be explained. I guess I’ve always had The Police song on my favorites list, and one day while I was swimming laps I decided it was a good choice for this blog. Did I hear someone say “what an understatement”!
The Police: Every Breath You Take

Introduction to Part II

Giving the appropriate credits and attributions is always a necessary part of what I write about in my blog. Without good sources for information and inspiration, the creation process would be much harder if not impossible. One of my sources is a book by Jan Jarboe Russell, The Train to Crystal City, published in 2015 by Scribners, A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. I will annotate any direct quotes with her name in this and any succeeding installments. Other credits will be included as needed.

The Five W’s and the H

I highly recommend Jan Russell’s book. The following synopsis comes from Amazon where I bought my copy.

“During World War II, trains delivered thousands of civilians from the United States and Latin America to Crystal City, Texas. The trains carried Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and their American-born children. The only family internment camp during the war, Crystal City was the center of a government prisoner exchange program called ‘quiet passage’. Hundreds of prisoners in Crystal City were exchanged for other more ostensibly important Americans—diplomats, businessmen, soldiers, and missionaries—behind enemy lines in Japan and Germany.”

Jan Jarboe Russell focuses on two American-born teenage girls, uncovering the details of their years spent in the camp; the struggles of their fathers; their families’ subsequent journeys to war-devastated Germany and Japan; and their years-long attempt to survive and return to the United States, transformed from incarcerated enemies to American loyalists. Their stories of day-to-day life at the camp, from the ten-foot high security fence to the armed guards, daily roll call, and censored mail, have never been told.

Combining big-picture World War II history with a little-known event in American history, The Train to Crystal City reveals the war-time hysteria against the Japanese and Germans in America, the secrets of FDR’s tactics to rescue high-profile POWs in Germany and Japan, and above all, ‘is about identity, allegiance, and home, and the difficulty of determining the loyalties that lie in individual human hearts’ (Texas Observer).”

Most of us older types and others, perhaps younger history buffs, know about the internment camps that existed during the war, on the west coast and other locations. Manzanar in California is the one that I remember. However, Crystal City was the only family internment camp during World War II. I’m including a Wikipedia link. Be sure to check it out. Wikipedia has included a very interesting map and photos. The number of locations is kind of mind-blowing.

Also, the following caption from a photo in the Wikipedia piece is interesting and ironic.

“The 442nd Regimental Combat Team, which was composed primarily of Japanese Americans, served with uncommon distinction in the European Theatre of World War II. Many of the U.S. soldiers serving in the unit had families who were held in concentration camp in the United States while they fought abroad.”

More to come in Part III. Read the book if you get a chance.

Two parting quotes

The first quote is off-topic but appropriate for the holiday (May 8), and the other quote is on-topic and also very good.

God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers. Rudyard Kipling
The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men. Lyndon B. Johnson

 

What’s It About?

March 26, 2013

Life

This is my blog – I am a writer living in the USA. This is more of a literary attempt at finding a common thread about living, based on my journalling, from new stories that I’m working on, and from my dusty manuscripts written years ago. Hopefully, this blog will provide food for thought about your life. In my blog posts you will see a fair number of quotations – I love quotations.

“Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention to arrive safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming: ‘Wow, what a ride’.”

In my English classes in college I read a lot, in fact copious amounts of writing, different genres and styles, from Beowulf to Kurt Vonnegut, who at the time (70’s) had practically a cult following – at least my book-bound friends thought he was a very good read.

I remember that certain styles earned certain novels the label “episodic”, the reason being there was no coherent thread to the story line, just vignettes that weren’t always directly related to each other or in sequence. You may ask, how does that apply to this literary effort, which also has vignettes (I like to call them snapshots)? Strictly speaking, it’s not “fiction” because I’ve drawn from life in talking to people and writing about our conversations and about reflections from my own life. I think of it more thematic than episodic – themes such as avocations, occupational stagnation, fear of change, running, photography, and bridges are interlaced throughout. Hopefully you will be able to relate to some of it.

What Was the Question?

I thought early on that I should set the tone for this literary effort by posing questions to put it all in a frame of reference, I guess to make sure it would be a worthwhile reading experience. Questions like:

Do famous and successful people always love their work?

Would you rather be happy or successful if you had the choice?

Why are some “darn lucky” or have the Midas touch, sailing through life, while others struggle their whole lives just to survive?

Why do many or most people hate Mondays and love Fridays?

OK, you get the idea. I guess using this approach would make it a thematic piece with specific threads of thought throughout and this might guarantee that you got “the message”. However, I have to mention that one very famous writer who has written about the art of writing suggests that you NOT include themes in your books. So, I will leave it up to the reader to glean whatever tidbits about life that they can from reading this work. In my opinion and most importantly, people are people, and they are what make this story.

As promised or forewarned (barely started and here is the second quote), try this excellent quote from Nelson Demille’s book Up Country (the bolding in the quote is mine):

“The journey home is never a direct route – it is in fact always circuitous and somewhere along the way we discover that the journey is more significant than the destination and that the people we meet along the way will be the traveling companions of our memories forever.”

City Slickers

I’m a movie buff so you may see little sketches or metaphors drawn from movies. This one is more or less word for word from “City Slickers”. The scene is with Jack Palance (Curly) and Billy Crystal (Mitch) talking – they’re in the middle of a cattle drive and somehow got into a philosophical discussion about life.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is?
Mitch: No, what?
Curly: (He holds up one finger.) This
Mitch: Your finger?
Curly: Just one thing.
Mitch: What’s the one thing?
Curly: That’s what you’ve got to figure out.

The Time is Now

I originally titled this as a chapter, “Fourteen Minutes”, with the idea that I would pose the question, what would you do if you suddenly discovered that you only had 14 minutes to live? The number 14 isn’t important, it could have been 23 minutes, or 3 days, or a month. I had read a book by Daniel Wolk titled The Time is Now. In his book, Wolk presents thought provoking ideas about life, time, relationships, and the Cicada complex (more on that later).

Because I live in the Pacific Northwest (or “Northwet”) – it’s raining as I write this, waiting to catch the MAX (light rail) into Portland – I thought of titling this part, “Just Do It”, but then I realized that I might upset the Nike corporate folks because I borrowed their tag line.
In racing to finish this chapter with 6 minutes left, I need to finish on a note of substance and that is, “don’t be like the Cicada living for 4 years underground only to move up through layers of dirt, hatch, and die within 3 or 4 months”.

Here Comes Your Train

February 13, 2013

If you only had 23 minutes to write it all down before you left this earthly existence, what would you write? Would it be a lot of “I love you’s” and “goodbyes” or perhaps a belated last will and testament that might not survive probate? Perhaps it would be a brilliant and scathing diatribe on the failure of the American political process?

I am a writer so I think I would write at least one page if not more. I think most people would not have much to say, thinking, “Jeez this is it, I’m done, what’s left to say”. I often wonder about condemned people, what they think about before the last neural firing winks out. Think of all the good dying scenes in movies. Personally, although I served in Vietnam, I’ve never in my entire life seen anyone die, including my parents.

Well, this was my “23 minutes” so I’ll say goodbye and to those who I love, “I love you”.

Not to worry, I’m still here as long as I can keep typing and running, just pondering what it might be like at the end.


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