Category Archives: National Days

We Had A Plan

But, “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.” Allen Saunders

On Thursday, June 8, our choir headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, to sing the National Anthem at the minor league baseball game between the Charlotte Knights and the Louisville Bats. Since we’d already sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” at one of their games last year, we thought we were familiar with the routine: ride the bus, get off and stand in line at the stadium, wait for a half hour, follow a Knights’ representative down multitudes of hallways, go out through the visitors’ dugout, sing the anthem, find our seats, and enjoy the game.
SBC choir2

We were wrong. Nothing went according to plan. We loaded up the buses and took off on time, but the closer we got to Charlotte, the worse the traffic was. Consequently, we were about half an hour behind our projected arrival time.  Our worship leader was on his phone with his contact, and a police escort was waiting to take us past the fully stopped lines of cars at the stadium. A team representative met us as our busses stopped in the intersection, and she led us around the crowd and into a side door. At that point, we weren’t walking; we were jogging.

We were waived past security and taken directly to the visitors’ dugout, where we were led onto the field. Almost immediately we began to sing, and I must say, it well very well.
SBC Choir
Afterward, people met us to scan our tickets and take us into the stadium seating areas.

About half an hour in, the dark storm cloud that had hovered over the field opened up, and the heavens poured. After only a couple of innings, the field was covered with a tarp, and we decided to go back to Lancaster.
SBC Choir1
I’m glad we went. I’m always happy to gather with my choir friends and sing the National Anthem, and it was fun to be on the Big Board.

And since a ballgame was rained out, I think we can now declare it’s officially summer in the South.

Have a blast, y’all! Batter up!


A Cinderella kind of day

My favorite fairy tale as a grownup is Beauty and the Beast.  But my favorite as a girl? Without question it is Cinderella. It’s a story that delivers on every level.

From Kenneth Branagh’s 2015 adaptation of Cinderella

As you know, I live with a bunch of men. Even though they pick up after themselves, I end up doing many “Cinderella” chores!

This morning,  in the middle of my work I abandoned a shirt on the ironing board, plunked down at the laptop, and … cruised Facebook, ha.

You know what happened next. Yeah, I was sucked in by one of those quizzes.

Why do we take those things? It’s not like they’re even accurate. Anyway, today’s was especially tempting: What Grimm Fairy Tale Character Are You? 

Am I a beautiful princess or a sneaky villain? Inquiring minds want to know the answer to that one!

According to the quiz, I am the most like … Cinderella.

You believe in two things: hard work and true love. You don’t complain, even when you know that you are taking on more than your fair share of the work. You don’t ask for anything, and yet, every once in a while, someone comes along and takes care of you. You know it is okay to stand up for yourself sometimes. You can say no when asked to do too much work. People will still respect you, and they might even be impressed to see you stand up for yourself!

This description makes me smile. Sure, I can *say* no to too much work — but that just means it will wait for me to do later!

Kind of like that shirt I left on the ironing board. What else was I to do? It was time to get my hair cut. This “Cinderella mom” went rogue!

My stylist does not have a magic wand, but my hair now looks cute instead of scruffy. And after my appointment, this movie found its way into my shopping cart. Something beautiful and good, a Mother’s Day gift to myself. It’s an adaptation I’ve long wanted to see.

You know, for the busy mom Mother’s Day is a Cinderella kind of day. We’re given gifts and appreciation from those we love and serve. Glass slippers and a ball, who needs those? Heck, it’s enough that for one day someone else does the cooking!

Fellow moms, I hope tomorrow is a lovely day for you. What Cinderella’s mother taught applies to each of us, I think. “Have courage and be kind.”

After dinner, our family is set to play games (we all like 7 Wonders). But you know what? I might make my men watch Cinderella with me instead.

Laura Hile (1)

May the Fourth Be With You

And other bad or questionable, but entirely quotable, Star Wars dialog …

Today is National Star Wars day, and the pundits are out in full force (no joke intended). The movie series is one of the all-time greats – clean, funny, and eminently quotable. Some of the lines have taken a permanent place in the nation’s collective vocabulary, and they’re oddly applicable to most situations. Here are some of the best (and worst). Read and learn. (Hover at the bottom of each picture for my comments.)

Even Master Yoda recognized the superiority of Mr. Darcy. The Force was definitely with Colin Firth in the role.

My dad: provider, protector, encourager

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Stevenson hugs his daughters goodbye.   Photo Credit: Tyler Wilson, Navy Visual News Service (Creative Commons Flickr)

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Stevenson hugs his daughters goodbye before he deploys aboard the USS Mason. Photo Credit: Seaman Apprentice Tyler Wilson, Navy Visual News Service (Creative Commons Flickr)

My dad was the quiet type, the classic aerospace engineer. A man who was hardworking, competent, and kindly helpful. He did not call attention to what he did, like mowing the lawn and fixing stuff and guiding a tearful 7th grade me through the horrors of algebra homework. I seldom heard him complain. I’m afraid I took who Dad was for granted.

But every once in a while I am struck with how his kind support and patience have formed my life. Most recently, the lightbulb moment came from an unlikely source, A & E’s reality television series Married at First Sight. You’ve probably seen the commercials. A panel of experts matches a man and a woman, who then meet for the first time at the altar. Not that this is a good idea, but it demonstrates how desperate people are to find love and commitment.

Okay, so reality television is often more scripted than real, with elements of something called “creative artifice.” Even so, the drama of Married at First Sight has been a fascinating look at human nature.

With Mom aboard our first boat, the Flicka.

With Mom aboard our first boat, the Flicka, anchored at Emerald Bay, Catalina. Dad, being Dad, is taking the picture.

So what does Married at First Sight show have to do with my dad? A man from Season Two named Ryan De Nino, Mr. My-way-or-the-highway. If you’ve been watching the series, you can’t have missed his growing impatience with his bride. His selfishness showed itself in the early days of the honeymoon. When given the chance to ride a jet ski Ryan took off, leaving his new wife trembling at the dock. Yes, he was living the high life all right, grabbing the gusto while he could (since the producers were paying for the rental). Never mind that Jessica was afraid of the ocean, what was that to him? And when she overcame her fear enough to trustfully sit behind him, what did he do but gun the engine? All of America gasped when we saw her fall off.

My brother, Dad, and me

Dad loved to tinker. Here he takes my brother and me for a spin in his classic car, a 1952 Alvis.

I grew up in a sailing family, and I know how scary falling overboard can be. My dad would never have treated me—or any fearful person—with such callousness. I remember, for instance, my surprise at learning that our dingy also had a sail. How patient Dad was in teaching me. I was maybe eleven, frightened even to sail under the bridge, but he showed me how. “Atta girl,” he’d say, as I gained skill and confidence. Soon I was master of the tiller, sailing solo back and forth in the marina. I learned to love solitude sailing like this.

It was from Dad that I learned to love reading. In fact, it was he who suggested that I become a writer. I was in high school when he said this, how did he know? I like to think he’d be pleased that I have books published. And wouldn’t he be laugh-out-loud astonished to learn that I teach 7th grade algebra?

And so we celebrate Father’s Day. How I miss my dad, the kind and patient man who did his best to protect and encourage me.

Don’t mess with Veterans Day!

My daughter, former Navy nurse Mandy, her husband Capt. Jon Cook, and their daughter, Charlie, in Iwakuni, Japan

My daughter, former Navy nurse Mandy, her husband Capt. Jon Cook, and their daughter, Charlie, in Iwakuni, Japan

Today is one of our most solemn holidays – Veterans Day. We remember our past and present veterans, and we think of all those who gave their lives for our freedom. Many others, who survived battle conditions, returned home irreparably scarred, both physically and mentally, by their experiences.

Someone, I have no idea who, also decided to make November 11 Singles Day. There are 365 days in the year. Why would anyone select a day set aside to honor our military and change it to a day to encourage single people to buy things for themselves in order to make them happier? What’s next? Married Day? Aunt Day? Uncle Day? Not Married but Living Together Day? Engaged Day? Friends With Benefits Day?

I’m one who thinks that three days a year to be patriotic isn’t asking too much of the populace. We have July 4th, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. If you want a Singles Day, put it on a different day. Valentine’s Day comes to mind.

Thank you, veterans, for your past and present service! I particularly remember my daughter, her husband, our own Susan Kaye, my uncles, and my brothers for their service.

President’s Day with the Pooches

This pic of the Obama family dogs was tweeted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

This pic of the Obama family dogs was tweeted by First Lady Michelle Obama.

While President Obama golfs in California and the First Lady skis in Aspen, the First Dogs, Bo and Sunny, have made their own plans to celebrate President’s Day. After all, no one wants to be alone on such a festive holiday.

Imagine our excitement when our pups received their invitations in the mail!

Bo and Sunny
request the honor of your presence
at a White House Tea Party
in recognition of President’s Day.

Since the JSI ladies couldn’t be spared from their duties in order to travel to Washington, we decided to honor the invitation by having tea parties with our own beloved pets.

Toby and Chloe enjoy tea with Robin and Gayle. Doggie treats and water were on the menu.

Toby and Chloe enjoy tea with Robin and Gayle. Doggie treats and water were on the menu.

If Laura had a dog, they'd go to Starbucks!

If Laura had a dog, they’d go to Starbucks!

I think Jane would be quite pleased with us, even though there was a scarcity of scones.



I’m a young man no more . . .

Today marks Richard Arvine Overton’s 107th Memorial Day. Believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran, Overton saw many of his fellow soldiers fall in the line of duty in World War II and even more die over the following decades. He plans to spend a quiet day at his Texas home where he has lived since he returned from WW II.

"I'm a young man no more."

“I’m a young man no more.”

Overton told Fox News, “I don’t know, some people might do something for me, but I’ll be glad just to sit down and rest. I’m no young man no more.”

Overton has received much attention of late. He was recognized by Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell on May 9 and traveled to Washington, D.C., on May 17 as part of Honor Flight. Though he served in the South Pacific from 1942 through 1945, including stops in Hawaii, Guam, Palau, and Iwo Jima to name a few, it was the first time he had visited his nation’s capital.

“I was really honored when I got there,” Overton said of his visit to the World War II Memorial. “There were so many people, it was up in the thousands. And we danced and we jumped … them people tickled me to death. It made me happy as can be.I was very, very happy. At my age and my strength, I’m able to stand up and do anything. My mind is good, so I’m able to do what I want. I got good health and I don’t take any medicine. I also stay busy around the yards, I trim trees, help with the horses. The driveways get dirty, so I clean them. I do something to keep myself moving. I don’t watch television.”

Overton smokes up to 12 cigars a day and likes a little whiskey in his morning coffee. He was married twice but never fathered any children, and he goes to church every Sunday.

It’s nearly impossible to confirm Overton’s place as the oldest living former soldier since just roughly 9 million of the nation’s 22 million vets are registered with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. However, Overton, for his part, believes he’s the oldest veteran in the country, although he said he feels decades younger.

If he could do anything he wanted today, he would relive war stories with fellow veterans, but he’s outlived most — if not all — of them.

“I know I had someone from my platoon until recently, but he passed so now I don’t have anyone that I know, so I feel lonesome by myself sometimes. I would love to ask some of them some questions, but nobody is here. Everybody’s passed.”

Think about our veterans, dead and living, today. Remember what they sacrificed for you. Enjoy your holiday, have a cookout with your friends, spend some time with your family, but please don’t forget that generations of soldiers died for your freedoms.