Category Archives: Deep Stuff

Placeholder Vet

Veteran’s Day was Saturday and there was the usual acknowledgement in Church  Sunday morning. I didn’t stand this year. I’ve made myself stand for the last few years, but not Sunday. I was glad to see several more women standing and I suppose out of solidarity I should have stood. I’m always conflicted about my service. It’s my own weird sort of Stolen Valor Syndrome.

The military services became all volunteer in 1973. With the draft eliminated, the military was less free to turn away candidates. I think the real thought was that if we didn’t maintain a huge standing Army, there would be less need for one. Too bad evil doesn’t think like that. Anyway, Viet Nam was winding down and the country was weary so the military wound down as well. I went to basic training in January of 1977. One day after Jimmy Carter was sworn in as president.

I spent nine weeks in Basic Training at Lackland Air Force Base outside of San Antonia, Texas. Then went, by school bus, to Sheppard AFB, Wichita Falls, Texas. Yes, I managed to hit all the garden spots of Texas in winter. My first experience with Class 100 tornadoes was at Sheppard. I hate tornadoes.  After a bout of German Measles that put me in the hospital and put me back five days in my training, I went to Mountain Home AFB, in Idaho. There I schlepped tools and training records for the rest of my “tour.” I left the service the day Ronald Reagan was sworn in.

There were no hot spots, emergencies, insurgencies, no “cies” at all during my four-year tour of duty. We practiced in what was called “mobility training.” We all had to have our bags ready to go if all hell broke loose somewhere outside the U. S. I did have dog tags to identify my body if the worst happened.  But, all I really did was maintain a place for the next person to come along and serve. And, ideally, that’s what you want. Just keep the lights on and wheels greased, just in case.

People did die in covert military actions during my four years but not  in in “battle.” Overtly, things were quiet. We know there are covert activities because there are always covert operations being planned, executed and mopped up, no matter how peaceful it may look on the news.

This is my struggle. Saying I was in the Air Force, served one four-year TOD, and that I worked in Wing Training is disappointing for the hearer. Wing Training doesn’t sound nearly as exciting as Forward Operating Forces, or munitions. And, it’s not.

“So, you pushed paper.” Yup, that’s what I did. I helped to keep the clattery operation clattering along by scheduling people in fire suppression, small arms, and various duty-specific classes. I stood guard over freedom by  entering it all key-by-key in a pre-internet computer system that ran on punch cards, daisy wheel printers, and miles of continuous-feed computer paper. I kept the bureaucracy humming along to keep you safe.  All the offers of, “Thank you for your service,” are rather sad. They read like compliments to someone at the DMV for not making a hash of your license renewal. So, I sat this year.

Oh, and if you read last week’s screed on Amazon taking it’s sweet time getting me my paint sprayer, it finally came LAST NIGHT. Fat lot of good it did my at midnight. Bill tinkered with it and even read the owner’s manual. I think they walked it over after my complaint. Amazon, Google, Face Book, and Twitter. GAFT the Overlord has a nice ring to it.

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Soul Corrosion

Sunday my husband and I stopped to make a purchase before delivering Easter baskets to our grandchildren. We came out to the car and I could hear a woman screaming obscenities. She was on the sidewalk we’d just left. I assumed the usual don’t look, don’t engage posture I learned living in the badbadbad part of Portland many years ago. I opened the truck door and got in only to lock eyes with the woman standing about 15 feet from me. She screamed at me, spit at me, and then swung her coat in anger and started stalking away. After a few steps she turned and spit again and then left. We watched her cross the parking lot into an empty field across from the store.

Homelessness and mental illness were obvious. It was a sad to see a person so corroded by a harsh life. Especially on Resurrection Day.

Fast forward to this morning.

Saturday I was kneecapped by a couple of family members. (Metaphorically. Not that we are such a high-class bunch, but there was no physical violence.) I live with one of the people and had tried to think rationally and keep my powder dry on this. Particularly since this person is in the early stages of dementia. (We are one step away from being that commercial where the guy’s father forgets how to brush his teeth.)

Anyway, today was the day to try and work things out. The person will not even acknowledge the actions of Saturday, and brought up a topic that she circles whenever things get tense.

And then she said, “And you’re always bragging about your writing.”

HA! Again I say, HA!

My writing career is pretty much a dried up husk. I published two books a million years ago and she thinks because I come upstairs to get some time alone to think, I’m bragging.   I can feel the corrosion of my soul in the midst of this. Pretty soon, my soul will look just like my writing career. Or the lady screaming and spitting in the parking lot.

My point in all this is to ask, do you go for the knees when you’re arguing? My natural tendency is to try and hit a clever, snotty tone without looking cheap and low-class. Most of the time I can’t accomplish that so just walk away from confrontation.

What do you do when goaded?

BTB, I acted like a jerk and screamed at this person in my home. But only after she screamed at me. Yeah, that’s no justification. I think I need one of these:

Image courtesy of imgarcade.com

 

Death, where is your victory?

The Resurrection of Christ by Rembrandt (Matthew 28:2)

“He is risen.”
“He is risen indeed.”

This ancient greeting, passed from one follower of Jesus to another on Easter morning, says it all. Death is a defeated foe. God’s word is trustworthy. His promises are true. And as believers in Jesus, we have a future and a hope.

Here at Jane Started It, this Easter brings a personal reminder of victory over death.

Since July, it has been our privilege to pray for our own Gayle Mills, as she underwent treatment for colon cancer.

The prognosis was chilling, truly. And yet God was with Gayle every step of the way. Along with her family, friends, and coworkers, we prayed, and our Gayle bravely walked through the dark days of chemo and radiation.

Bit by bit, the cancer was beaten back. In March, Gayle felt well enough to return to teaching, retreating to her cot during prep periods. And at the beginning of this month,  Gayle makes this announcement:

I am officially in remission and cancer free. God has been so good to me. Thanks for every prayer you’ve offered on my behalf. Thanks for your encouragement and support.

Needless to say, we are rejoicing over what God has done for Gayle and her family.

Thank you, sincerely, for your prayers on her behalf. May your Easter be a blessed one.

We’ve had the wildest winter I can remember. In Portland, Oregon, the winters are usually drippy and overcast. However, this year’s winter has been cold and snowy. It has produced some great photographs.

crows-1

This is a photograph of crows sitting in snowy trees in downtown Portland, Oregon. The photograph was taken by C.S.I. Walker Berg of the Portland Oregon Police Bureau. This was his view from the Justice Center’s 12th floor.  Portland has enough of a crow problem that they have begun to employ falconers to move block-by-block, hunting the black birds.

It looks like the crows are settled in for the night, though and any hawks will just have to wait for morning.

The police department shared the image dubbed “Crows on Snow” on Facebook and Twitter where it quickly went viral.

My first thought was “Wow,” and then I thought:

dragonfruit

From the sublime to the ridiculous in one easy jump.

Hound Dog Love

A quiet afternoon with a favorite book.

Spending time with another favorite book…

Alas, I am that teacher, the one who makes 7th grade students cry. Not with my rapier wit or sarcasm, tempting as those weapons are. No, I have them read a book about a boy and his beloved dogs, a story told from the heart.

redfern-cover“Why?” students lament. “Why do you make us read this?”  As if I had tortured them or something. From the first pages the story is wonderful, and it pulls readers right in. We never want it to end.

“Because good fiction is powerful,” I tell them. “I want you to understand how a well-written story can reach into the human heart.” I’m the fiction writing teacher. I say stuff like that.

Wilson Rawls published only two books, and it took time for Red Fern to gain popularity. “The best horse doesn’t always win the race,” the Irish say. But now this book is regarded as a must-read for 9 to 14-year-olds. And for grownups too…

A signed copy, found by a teaching friend

A signed copy, given to me by a teaching friend

Red Fern’s setting comes from Rawls’ childhood experiences. He was not well educated–a thing he was embarrassed about–but he sure knew how to tell a story. There’s a lot of wisdom in those pages.

Every year I have students tell me that Where the Red Fern Grows is now their favorite book. If you’re looking for a heart-warming read, why not give this book a try? It’s about a lot more than a boy and his dogs.

Laura Hile (1)

 

Wisdom from Winnie The Pooh

pooh-gratitudeTimeless stories, like the best songs, are about more than just one thing. They are about what it means to be human, and because of this, they resonate.

A skilled storyteller (or lyricist) knows how to embed gems for us to mine out. That’s the wonder of the reread, the unexpected treasures.

This weekend I am reminded of wisdom hidden in an unlikely place: The Hundred Acre Wood.  A. A. Milne had much to say about life, but he allowed his imaginary friends to do the talking.

pooh-freezingHere are some of my Poohish favorites:

“If the person you are talking to doesn’t appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear.”

~ o ~

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.pooh-braver

~ o ~

“You can’t stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.”

~ o ~

“When you see someone putting on his Big Boots, you can be pretty sure that an Adventure is going to happen.”pooh-consideration

~ o ~

“It is more fun to talk with someone who doesn’t use long, difficult words but rather short, easy words like “What about lunch?”

~ o ~

“I do remember, and then when I try to remember, I forget.”


See what I mean? Profound, powerful stuff.
Perhaps I ought to hang out in The Hundred Acre Wood more often!

pooh-shadowsIf you’d like to read more about the transformative power of fiction, check out  S. D. Smith’s excellent article 5 Reasons You Need Fiction.

 

 


Laura Hile (1)

 

Do it anyway.

Opposing points of view

A very kind lady I know from Discovery School (where I teach music on Mondays and Fridays) posted this quote from Mother Teresa in the restroom. I’ve read it many times, and each time I’m struck by the wisdom of this philosophy. The version below was written on the wall of Mother Teresa’s room in her home for children in Calcutta, India, and is widely attributed to her.  It appears to be a rewrite of a composition by Kent Keith, but much of the second half has been re-written to reflect Mother Teresa’s spirituality.

___________________________________________

              People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  Forgive them anyway.

            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.  Be kind anyway.

            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.

           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  Be honest and sincere anyway.

            What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight.  Create anyway.

            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  Be happy anyway.

            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  Do good anyway.

         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  Give your best anyway.

         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  It was never between you and them anyway.

mother-teresa

 

Look at Mother Teresa’s face. Would you say she was beautiful? According to the world’s standards, she was not. However, I imagine she was beautiful in God’s sight. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart.

unreasonable-people

 

Our words come from our hearts, and her heart was beautiful.

Contrast the first few lines of Mother Teresa’s quote with George Bernard Shaw’s. I think he probably viewed himself as unreasonable. I might be viewed the same way. Shaw chooses to make being unreasonable a positive character trait. I cannot agree, though I am often that way myself.

To be unreasonable is a type of conceit. I think I’m right because I see myself as intelligent and logical. Therefore, if something seems right to me, I often think the matter is settled. It isn’t.

How would you like to be remembered? I’m 62, and I think of this a great deal now. I would choose to be remembered kindly, as Mother Teresa is.

After all, who changed the world more in their lifetime?  Mother Teresa or George Bernard Shaw?