Favorite Movies


03 Jul 2011 03:26 am

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My children on some rocks at Fort Monroe years ago.

Boy it was hot today. But it was even hotter yesterday. I went to see my sister about thirty five miles south of me and spent a few hours helping her to inventory art items and when I got back in my car the temperature was 117 degrees. As I was driving home I glanced at the temperature gauge and it was slow to cool. By the time I arrived home the temp had merely cooled to 102 degrees. And I was thirsty. I was so dry I was spitting cotton. Unlike some people, I don’t like heat. Summer is my least favorite season.

An odd thing happened while I was with my sister counting and listing all the art materials. We were in her art room which is in an old stone building and has absolutely no windows. The air conditioner was old and struggling to keep us cool. Around five o’clock I had a feeling that it was raining outside.

I walked over to open the door to take a look and no, it was sunny and hot. A weird feeling. I was wrong. But after I got home I noticed that almost all the lights were out in the house. My husband told me that we had had a power failure for a couple of hours even though there hadn’t been any bad weather, just a little rain.

I checked the weather and discovered that just a few blocks away there had been quite a bit of bad weather, one of those “microbursts” of wind and rain that knocked down a lot of power lines.

So I was glad that the flowers and Alberta Pines had been watered by the rain and that I was home and the electricity had been restored and that, for once, I had missed the lack of it. But I did have to endure the heat inside the car.

We Americans are so spoiled.

I know I am.

I am writing the whiny proof about myself.

Last night ended up being a delight because with our precious electricity we were able to view the Coen Brothers True Grit for the first time. I had resisted all this time because, being a John Wayne fan and a purist for the original True Grit I didn’t think it could be improved upon. But it could and it was.

How do I judge a movie? Not only by how much it affects me while I am watching it but by how much I think about it later. I love how the Coen Brothers captured the dialect/language of the era and region. Much of it, of course, was lifted straight from the Charles Portis book and was in the first True Grit but the dialogue in the Coens’ True Grit was rich and well delivered, developing the characters through the use of it. The original was like reading the New American Standard Bible but the Coen Brothers’ True Grit was like reading the King James Bible. (I much prefer that)

What touched me personally? The Fort Smith where Mattie found Rooster Cogburn still has some people around here who live their lives and speak as uncompromisingly as Mattie Ross. (my grandmother spoke with few contractions)

My favorite scene? Seeing that little girl put on her over-sized hat and get on her ten dollar pony (named Little Blackie) and plunge into the Poteau River to catch up with Rooster and La Boeuf and make it to the other side. Mattie herself had True Grit.

We need more people with True Grit (unyielding courage in the face of danger) We see it everyday in our military, and in heroic people who step up to save people in danger but it is rare to see it in those in the political realm. That is, it is rare to see courage in those who are in elective office.

Some individuals, Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, in particular, are courageous in my book. Sarah is still standing after the relentless attacks of the democrat hounds of hell. They are just now starting on Michelle.

Our Founders had the grit to face the British in 1776. They endured many long years before we had what Franklin termed a Republic. If we are to keep it, we have to stop the whining, and stand up and unite behind a conservative who we can trust to stand up and rouse the American people to listen and vote out that sorry outfit in the White House.

It may be still hot outside but we can take the heat.

13 Feb 2010 04:01 pm

Do you know where your Valentine is?

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I made this Valentine for my then boyfriend, Bob when he was a plebe at West Point. We married two weeks after he graduated from West Point.

I don’t claim that this Valentine sealed the deal but it didn’t hurt. After all, ours was a long distance relationship for the four years he was at West Point. We both took advantage of every form of communication that was possible back then. Phone calls, letters and special missives helped us to stay in touch. There were no facebook, twitter, cell phones or text messages back then.

In fact, Bob could not use the phone at West Point very much at all when he was a plebe. The cadets were not allowed phones in their rooms. When Bob was a firstie he was allowed to call me more often, and I told him to call collect. My parents were shocked when they saw the phone bill but I was good for it.

But, it was the specially made Valentine that made an impression I think. When Bob graduated from West Point and moved out of the barracks I found the Valentine in his army footlocker. He had thrown everything else away but the very amateur Valentine.

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When I was fifteen I discovered the writer Thomas Hardy through the movie, Far from the Madding Crowd. The film, starring Julie Christie, Alan Bates, Peter Finch and Terrence Stamp absolutely captivated me.

Julie Christie starred as Bathsheba Everdene, a highly spirited, independent young woman who had inherited a large estate from her uncle and become very wealthy. She had earlier rejected the attentions of the honest, reliable shepherd, Gabriel Oak, played by Alan Bates.

On an impulse, Bathsheba sends a Valentine, sealed with red wax, anonymously to the richest farmer in the county, William Boldwood, played by Peter Finch. On it she writes, Marry Me.

This impulsive act causes heartache and tragedy for both Bathsheba and Boldwood.

The movie inspired me to read all of Thomas Hardy’s books but Far From the Madding Crowd taught me at that early age about steadfast, faithful and selfless love. I witnessed that kind of love everyday with my own parents but seeing it displayed in a movie and reading about it through the richness of Hardy’s prose embedded the eternal ideal in my heart.

When I began to date at the age of sixteen, the young men had to embody the attributes of Gabriel Oak. Very few did.

My West Point cadet did and continues to do so.

For all things having to do with Valentines Day, check out my niece, Marlane’s blog.

Happy St. Valentines Day!

22 Dec 2008 04:44 pm

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From Hearsay, the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law Alumni Magazine 2008, 2009 Graduating Class, page 19

This past Friday, our daughter, Charlotte turned in her last paper in her long two and a half year paper chase at the UALR William H Bowen School of Law, an achievement that could not go unacknowleged by her Mom at The Wide Awake Cafe.

Over the weekend Charlotte and her boyfriend, Adam and sister, Kate and brother-in-law, Mike packed up her belongings at the Barrister Court Law School Apartments and put them in a U-Haul to move her west where she will be studying for the Oklahoma Bar. It was a cold weekend. But there were warm hearts all around rejoicing over Charlotte’s determined perseverance in achieving academic excellence in her legal education.

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I took this photo of Charlotte when I visited her in her first year at law school.

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Charlotte and Adam as Nick and Nora at the Barrister Ball.

Congratulations Charlotte!

21 Sep 2008 07:36 pm

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My Maternal Grandfather, Guy Smith Webster when he was twenty four years old.

My mother gave me a treasure last night when I was at my parents’ home visiting with them. Actually, I have to give the photo back but she let me take it home to scan it. Scanning helps to spread the wealth.

My grandfather was always a snappy dresser. I don’t remember ever seeing him without a hat and his favored tweed jackets with leather elbow patches. Papaw was a smoker so when he was around there was an aroma of Old Spice and Lucky Strikes. Two aromas that are not politically correct today but still are pleasing to me.

Guy Smith Webster, my maternal grandfather would have been about twenty four when the above photo was taken. Looking closely I can see my great-grandmother (we called her “Nanny”) looking out the door at her son. Nanny was a Nolen, born in Florence, Alabama to James Green Nolen and Eliza Isbell. When she was a baby her family moved in a covered wagon to Yell County, Arkansas then settled on Short Mountain near Paris, Arkansas. Leona Tamsie Nolen married Albert Webster, son of William Leonard Webster and Nancy Ann Pearson.

The Webster family settled in Paris, Arkansas and when William and Nancy’s children grew up each was given land and a house built by their father, William Leonard Webster. My grandmother, Hazel Alabama Whitmarsh married Guy Smith Webster when they were twenty three or twenty four years old.

By that time Guy had moved to Fort Smith to make his living. He chose not to settle on the Webster land. One reason why he left Paris my grandmother told me, was that he was bothered that there was so much intermarriage of cousins in his family.

That wasn’t the life Guy Smith Webster would choose to live.

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Guy started his own dry cleaning business on the main street of Fort Smith, Garrison Avenue. He called the cleaners, The Rightway Cleaners. Not long after, he met and married my grandmother and they went into business together.

He had been advised by the local pharmacist in Paris, Dr. Thompson that Fort Smith was the place to go to work. Interestingly, Dr. Thompson’s, two sons, Bob and James Thompson became doctors and after serving in World War ll settled in Fort Smith. Dr. Jim was my father-in-law, C.C.’s best friend. The two brothers were in practice together and Dr. Bob delivered our first child. Between the two brothers about ten thousand babies were delivered.

I wish I could say that much of the information that I know about my grandfather came from him, but that would not be true. He died at the age of sixty, when I was ten years old. I remember that melancholy day very well. On a Sunday morning in December when we ordinarily would be waking up to a big breakfast of pancakes we were instead whisked out of our beds and taken to our paternal grandparent’s house.

It was always fun to go to Mamaw and Papaw Fletcher’s house as Mamaw was the cheeriest person in the world. She made sure we were comfortable and I discovered that my most favorite movie was on the television, The Wizard of Oz. I remember watching the movie and finding some comfort in it because I knew something was wrong.

Meanwhile my Mother and Dad rushed over to my maternal grandparents’ home where they found an ambulance ready to transport my grandfather to the hospital. My mother rode in the ambulance along with my grandfather and he died on the way to the hospital.

A very sad day indeed.

I remember sitting in my grandparents’ house afterwards, my grandmother grieving, blaming herself because my grandfather had stumbled out of bed to help her after she had fallen down with a convulsion. My grandmother was an epileptic, an ailment she had suffered from her early twenties. My mother was an only child because the doctors advised my grandparents not to have any more children because her condition was not always controlled by medication.

That afternoon I understood the old time maxim, children should be seen and not heard. I sat and listened as all the adults spoke words of comfort to my grandmother and mother and was full of questions which went unanswered.

I remember going to bed unable to sleep that night and many nights following, thinking of my beloved grandfather and knowing I would never see him again. My pillow was wet with tears and I counted to one thousand, hoping that my mother would be asleep by the time I was at the end of the count. Our father was working the graveyard shift and I was frightened and upset.

I quietly made my way into my parent’s bedroom and slipped into bed by my mother. In the morning I discovered that my brother and sister had also done the same thing. My youngest brother was still in his baby bed or there would have been four children in my mother and dad’s double bed.

Most of the biographical information about my grandfather came from my grandmother. She talked about “Guy” a lot in the twenty four years she lived as a widow. She would look for our resemblance to him. I had his eyes Mamaw told me. But my youngest brother, who was only a year old when my grandfather died was his namesake. He became Little Guy to my grandmother.

Papaw was the man who took care of everyone, including his own widowed mother, his alcoholic brother, Mutt and Mutt’s children. My great Aunt Hetty also told me what it was like to grow up in the shadow of her treasured older brother. They were eighteen years apart and Aunt Hetty tells me that when she was born, my grandfather paid the doctor’s bill for her. Guy’s father, Albert worked in the coal mines near Paris, Arkansas and an explosion had taken away his hearing so he had also moved to Fort Smith to work as a night watchman at a local business. Aunt Hetty told me things that my grandfather had said to her when she was a young woman that actually helped me when I confronted troubled times.

I tried to remember Papaw’s voice after he died and for many years I did remember and to this day I sometimes hear a voice that will make me think of him. He had a deep, golden toned voice that always filled me with comfort.

I remember one particular day, riding in Papaw Webster’s two toned blue, 1954 Pontiac as he drove us to see his mother. Nanny was in a rest home (which is what we called it back then) and he made sure to take her things that she needed. It’s a slight memory now, I remember being in the backseat of the car, listening to my Mother talk to him in the front seat of the car. I remember it was a cold and clear day and we were crossing Garrison Avenue to an older part of town to a neighborhood where the nursing home was located. It was a very large home in what is now called the historic district of Fort Smith. I always looked to the end of Garrison Avenue to see the Catholic Church which anchored it. Immaculate Conception Church has always been beautiful but never more so than during the Christmas holidays when it lights surround the outline of the church. But when I was a kid that didn’t occur. It wouldn’t have mattered to me. It was still a breathtaking view.

It wasn’t everyday that our grandfather took us out in his car and I loved going with him.

The house had a nice breezy feel to it but had that nursing home smell. My great grandmother and I had a conversation about what it was like when she was growing up. I was always curious about what it was like when my Nanny was a young girl. I also wanted to know what we were. Was her family Irish or English? She told me that the Isbells were English but the Nolens were Irish. She said she thought there might be some French heritage somewhere. Meanwhile my grandfather was talking to the administrators of the nursing home. Apparently, he had discovered that some of the nursing staff were stealing my great grandmother’s belongings. She was a great reader and had been missing her books. My grandfather found a better nursing home for her.

Papaw loved Valentines Day. He always bought specially made petit fours and little cakes for us. He loved to give us jewelry and necklaces too. I still have all of it too. Every year he purchased new cowboy boots for all of his four grandchildren on our birthdays. The store next door to the Rightway Cleaners was called Tip Top Boots and was owned by the Miller family. They were good friends of my grandfather and always welcomed us into their store. The store smelled of leather and polish. I loved to go in there and pick out new boots and look at the saddles.

One is tempted to ask, what kind of grandfather was Guy Smith Webster? He was the best of the best. He gave us a donkey! That seemed normal back then but today I know the giving of a donkey might be outrageous in some quarters. But not in mine. We named our donkey Tarzan.

Two weeks before my grandfather’s death he had a premonition. He gave my Dad some money and asked him to be sure to buy my brother, Bobby some boots for his birthday. Papaw died on December 10th, 1961 a day before my brother’s birthday.

Today, Sunday, September 21st is his birthday.

15 May 2008 08:16 pm

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My niece, Maine is getting her Masters Degree in Fine Arts (or Theater) at the University of Texas in Austin. She’s about finished with her first year. She already has an agent and has been cast for a small role (featured extra) in Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, starring Brad Pitt and Sean Penn.

The casting director for The Tree of Life called Maine and said that the producer saw her headshot and wants her for an additional part, this time a featured extra. She’s going to be some kind of ethereal porcelain being surrounded by white light. They’re making paper mache hair and doing some kind of crazy costume. The casting director said it’s an art shot, so she will almost definitely be working directly with Malick.

Maine has also been cast in the part of Mae in the musical The Wild Party that is being done by the Provincetown Players in Cape Cod. The play runs July 11th-August 11th (I think). The two leads are Equity actors from Boston. The theater is helping her find a place to stay this summer after she finishes her little role in The Tree of Life. I hope they will find some place that will take cats because she has two kitties she will not part with. Maine won’t get to meet Brad Pitt or Sean Penn. They have already wrapped up their roles. Too bad.

My daughters and I were urging her to kick Brad Pitt for leaving Jennifer Anniston.

02 Feb 2008 02:52 pm

My oldest daughter, Kate, went into labor on January 22nd, the night of the full moon. She had been “great with child” since Christmas and miserable for the past three weeks. Her doctor was concerned that the baby might be too large for a natural birth (too large meaning weighing seven pounds) so had she not gone into labor naturally the doctor had planned to induce labor that very day. She was sick with a miserable cold.

So when Kate went to the hospital that night, my youngest daughter, Charlotte and nephew, Kevin and I were in the waiting room as she was checked in. The waiting room had wide, uncovered windows on one side of the room and I watched the moon shining over the city as I prayed, paced and watched my nephew’s pratfalls.

When my daughter was settled in her labor room we went in to see her. She was hooked up to a monitor and on an IV and her husband, Mike was standing beside her, holding her hand.

“Mom, I’m really in labor. They didn’t have to induce me.” Kate said. Later on in the evening the nurse told Kate that when she was dilated to four they would start the epidural.

After the nurses told us the labor would probably take ten or so hours we went home to get some rest. I slept for about four hours and awakened with a start. Charlotte hadn’t slept at all that night. She had gone over to Kate and Mike’s house to straighten up the house because Mike’s Mom, Frances was driving in the next day from Loyal, Oklahoma.

Loyal, Oklahoma, I’ve learned, was settled by German immigrants in the late 1880’s. It was originally named Kiel, after the city in Germany from which they came, but after the outbreak of World War l, the residents renamed it Loyal to show their loyalty to America.

We made it back to the hospital before eight A.M. Kate was awake and in pain. When I was young and having my babies I was pretty fearless at the approach of labor and delivery, even though, during two of them, there had been complications. All my children had grown up healthy, wise and strong but when I found myself standing by my daughter’s bed, seeing her in such agonizing pain I felt the urge to go all Shirley MacLaine at the nurses station.

And yet, there stood Mike by Kate’s side, holding her hand and calmly comforting her. If every man in our country had the character of Mike we wouldn’t have any unhappy wives or children.

I stood in front of the monitor, watching the progression of the labor and praying silently. Charlotte offered to take Kate’s hand for a while so Mike could have a cup of coffee. Soon, Joni and Drew, my son and daughter-in-law arrived.

Kate’s eyes were closed and she had such a look of pain on her face that I had to leave the room several times.

It seemed to take forever but the epidural was finally started. But it didn’t work. Kate was still in pain. When she was little I could always comfort her with bandaids and by holding her on my lap but I could do nothing in this instance.

My husband and parents arrived and we were urged by the nurses to go to the waiting room. We had taken up a corner of it by this time. Kevin had skipped school to be with us and Frances, Mike’s Mom had arrived. We were all sitting in the waiting room, rearranging the chairs so we could converse. I have a hard time sitting still so I would walk over to the nursery to see the babies but they don’t display them in the window anymore for the sake of the babies’ safety.

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I love Catholic hospitals. They display Christian art and icons and that gave me a sense of comfort and calm as I took a walk around the hospital.

The ten hour prediction the nurse had given us the night before didn’t prove to be true. At ten o’clock in the morning Kate had been in labor for twelve hours. Charlotte and I took walks down the hall outside Kate’s room to see if any progress had been made. Kate had wanted only Mike to be in the delivery room so we were without any information. Once, a nurse who was taking a break outside Kate’s room told us that she was “pushing.”

That’s all we learned. Noon passed. Our son, Drew had to go back to work. The rest of us stayed. My husband always feels he has to keep my emotions in check so he asked me to stay out of the hallway outside Kate’s room. I did for a while, but my Dad wanted to take a walk so I went with him. There was still no information to be learned outside the room so Daddy and I just took a tour of the artwork in the hospital.

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Finally, at 3:06 in the afternoon all of our cellphones went off. When I checked my phone, there was a text message from Mike: “Noah is here.” Frances, my husband, Charlotte, and Joni all received the same message.

There was a small stampede to Kate’s room. The nurse said the doctor was still working on Kate so we had to wait a little while more. When we finally were able to enter her room she was there with Mike and had a smile on her face. But the baby wasn’t there.

We figured that he was getting his APGAR and didn’t think anything of it. Mike and Kate were overjoyed and it was thrilling for me to see them in such spirits.

We went back and forth from Kate’s room to the nursery hoping to see Noah. After an hour and a half I began to get worried. I wondered where the baby was. Why couldn’t we see him? Kate had described him as beautiful and said she had heard him cough and cry so we knew that he had to be somewhere in the hospital.

Finally, Mike went to speak to the nurses and they directed him to the newborn ICU. He came out later with an explanation. Noah had been born with the umbilical cord around his neck. His blood pressure was low so he had been quickly taken to the NIC unit. They had him on an IV and were running some tests on him. They were also worried that he might have ingested meconium in the womb during the birth. I was sick with worry but Frances, being the wise mother of a very wise son, said, “He’ll be fine.”

Later that evening Frances and I were allowed in the NIC to see Noah. We had to wash our hands and put on gowns. He was beautiful. I was relieved just to see the fine little man. He weighed 7 pounds and 4 ounces and was 21 and 1/2 inches long. He had an IV and other tubes connected to him.

I won’t go into all the details because all turned out well. Noah and Mom and Dad were able to go home this past Sunday. He hadn’t ingested meconium after all and all his blood tests were normal.

Why would I be spending time blogging when I can hold Noah? Life always begins with a struggle and some of us forget from time to time that our very existence in this physical world is really a miracle. But everything that goes right is also the result of a lot of effort and work by dedicated people.

I loved the nurses in my Noah’s ICU. They were so skillful. They carried the babies around like quarterbacks scoring touchdowns. They were gentle, professional and so helpful with the young parents. They showed my daughter how to change Noah’s diaper with all of his little monitors on him. They helped her begin to successfully breast feed.

When Kate was able to be discharged from the hospital the hospital kept her in her room as a guest for two days and nights so she could stay near Noah.

Today, Noah is ten days old and Kate is recovering well. I can put some of the strain of the day of his birth behind me, especially when I am lucky enough to hold him in my arms.

I am now the happy grandmother of two boys.

31 Dec 2007 04:55 pm

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Yes, Virginia, I ought to be wrapping presents. Occasionally I need to retreat from all the hub-bub of this busy season to collect my thoughts. Thoughts of Christmas present and past. So many memories are inspired by the present. Nowadays, I am hoping someone will take me up on my request for socks for Christmas. When I am asked, that is my stock answer. I have everything. A loving husband, a home, food, healthy children, a grandson, and one on the way. I have collected too many things in my life and while some have their place and create sentimental memories I am always willing to pass them on to my kids if they ask.

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Getting back to socks. I remember the Christmas Eves spent at my paternal grandparents’ home. Included were my parents, my two brothers, sister and me, our Dad’s brother, Uncle Max and Aunt Jeannine and their four children, and occasionally, my Aunt Imy and Uncle Eddie and their three sons.

My grandmother always took people under her wings. For quite a few years, Vietnamese immigrants, Yon and Kim shared in our celebration. My cousin’s Jeanne and Junior sponsored them when they arrived at Fort Chaffee. Yon had been a doctor in Vietnam and Kim was a very intelligent and beautiful lady. Eventually, they moved to New York and Yon was able to practice medicine.

My great grandmother, Kate was always present at Christmas Eve at my grandparents. She lived a long life and died when I was nineteen. When I was little, I remember unwrapping the packages from “Grandma Morrison” and being somewhat disappointed to discover socks. Knitted socks made by hand. I didn’t appreciate the handiwork and the love knitted right into them, although I did wear them.

How wonderful it would be today to receive socks knitted by my great grandmother.

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When I was in my twenties, my grandmother gave me Grandma Morrison’s angel. It still plays Silent Night and looks like my sister, Lucy, when she was little.

My great grandmother lived in an apple orchard in Rogers, Arkansas on Walnut Street. When we went to visit her my siblings and I loved to go out into the orchard and play. The orchard hadn’t been cared for in many years and was full of tangled vines and limbs, making it much more of an interesting place to be. It was like the Secret Garden before Mary Lennox tamed it.

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Here we are visiting my great grandmother. My back is turned from the camera. I think I am watching my cousin, Jeanne cut up. She was my idol back then. Actually, she still is.

So, memories of the past are entwined with the present. They come to my mind at odd times, enriching the day. I was late getting the trees up and the house decorated this year. I wanted to do the whole house this year to celebrate our son and brother’s safe return from Iraq.

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007.

I still didn’t have time to do the Christmas card. One day I will. Last night my daughters were at odds with one another. My oldest daughter is great with child and my youngest daughter just had all of her wisdom teeth pulled. They love to help get Christmas ready and have been shopping. It’s making them too tired. There is a baby shower for my daughter today.

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A diaper cake. Almost pretty enough to eat.
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Later.

My mother arrived home from the shower and was tending to her nineteen and a half year old cat, Toni, giving her a pill for her cold, and she died in her arms.

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Toni came along right when my Dad had open heart surgery. We were home that June for my Dad’s surgery. Toni was a stray kitten born in my parents’ back yard and my children played with her and my son named her. At first we thought she was a male and her name was Tony. When we discovered she was female we spelled her name, Toni.

Monday, December 24th, 2007, Christmas Eve.

We went over to my parents this morning to help bury Toni. My brothers arrived about the same time and we were there to comfort and help. My son dug the grave near where the late great cats, Bear and Esther were buried. My mother carried Toni outside in her little bed, and I helped her to place Toni in the box. My youngest brother said a blessing. It was all a spontaneous visit. None of us had to coordinate with each other as to when we would go over to my parents house. We just all showed up. It was a clear cold day and a sad occasion.

Bless little Toni. I really believe she had a lot to do with my Dad’s recovery from heart surgery.

Christmas Eve, six pm

We always go to my oldest brother’s house for the family Christmas Eve celebration. Last year was the exception. We didn’t go last year because he was in Kuwait and other plans were made. But this year, we will all be there. The big question is, how late will my parents be? That is now a tradition.

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My brother and sister-in-law’s home in all its glory.

Later.

My parents were fashionably late this year. We had a great time together as a family. I got an interesting gift from “my friends at the DNC.” When I have time later on, I will post a picture of it.

Now it’s time to wrap some presents and fill some stockings. (Just to help Santa)

Christmas Day, December 25th, 2007

I was up early. My daughter (who is great with child) came over with her husband before anyone else. We decided to make a breakfast casserole. I had planned to do it the night before but ran out of energy. We opened a can of big flaky biscuits and flattened them in a 13″x9″ casserole dish. I made a white sauce while my daughter whipped eggs with some milk. I fried some bacon, about ten pieces. I added a little nutmeg to the white sauce. My daughter added some shredded swiss cheese to the egg mixture. We combined the eggs and white sauce and poured it over the flattened biscuits. We sprinkled the crumbled bacon over the sauce. We crushed some crackers and added melted butter to it and sprinkled it on top. My daughter wanted to place some cheddar cheese on top so I did it under protest.

We baked the casserole at 350 degrees for about forty minutes. It turned out great. Next time, I will stick with the swiss cheese and add a little more nutmeg to the sauce.

Soon all the children arrived and we opened the presents. When we were kids, my sister and I always invited our next door neighbor, Ellen, to come over to see our presents. She would bring over her favorite present too. We would play all day long. It’s sort of that way today. For the first time in my married life I got a complete set of red Kitchen Aid pots and pans. They are beautiful! I can’t wait to use them.

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Opening the stockings

Christmas is my absolutely favorite time of year. It’s hard to let go of the day. I try to slow the minutes on the clock but they don’t cooperate with me.

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Christmas Future

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Christmas Past

We watched our favorite Christmas movies, A Christmas Story and Love Actually and some of us dozed in our chairs.

Thursday, December 27th

I slept in. My husband was up already and told me of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. A really sad event. Yes, she was corrupt but also very brave to attempt to run again. I believe she wanted to help her country. I expect there will be some very desperate days for Pakistan in the future.

My daughters and I went shopping yesterday so the day was a blur.

Friday, December 28th, 2007, The Annual Fletcher Family Football Tournament is today!

This day will be very busy. We are putting together a spread for the football tournament tonight. We will have sweets and savory. Lots of bread, cheese, meat, smokies, dips and chips and baked beans. Deviled eggs, nuts and other yummy stuff. This is no night to worry about the weight. My sister-in-law, Lisa is bringing some Christmas Wassail.

Later

The tournament was exciting, intense and fun. There were 29 competitors and most played to win. This year we had my brother and son home. My brother, Bobby was the official official. Unfortunately, this wasn’t his year to win. In the single elimination tournament he lost his first game. I played my sister-in-law, Dorinda and led for most of the game, 10-0 but she came back the last half and on a football return, ran it back for a touchdown. I lost.

My cousin, Gary, a graduate of SMU, and former baseball player, won the tournament again this year. It was two o’clock in the morning when the tournament was finally over. Another generation of boys and girls are learning about football.

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Gary beat Jessica in the finals

Here’s a look at the 2004 Football tournament. The women prevailed that year.

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My gift from the DNC showed up at the football tournament. Look closely at the red tee shirt. As I have said, when my children ask me for anything, they usually get it.

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My cousin Jeanne made it into the semi-finals and she laughed all the way.

December 31st, New Years Eve

We are getting ready for New Years Eve. The family is coming over for pizza, games and later, a little champagne. Tomorrow? Blacked eyed peas and cornbread.

Happy New Year!

28 Apr 2007 10:29 am


Watch this. It’s a beautiful, pure moment of life. So here you all go, I hope it makes you smile. I just picture my daughter saying her favorite line. “But it doesn’t MEAN anything!”

Seriously, it works.

Coincidentally, Julie Andrews Edwards has a new book out with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton, Thanks to You: Wisdom from Mother & Child.

Hugh Hewitt interviewed Julie Andrews Edwards yesterday at the Los Angelos Festival of Books.

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Several years ago we were walking the same hills where Julie Andrews walked.

23 Apr 2007 10:55 pm


At Hogwarts. Harry, Ron and Hermione.

The new trailer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was released today.

It looks awesome. Reading book five was difficult for me chiefly because of the appearance of an extremely, odious character, Dolores Umbridge. This woman, evil bureaucrat extraordinaire, spent all the hours of her days as Dumbledore’s replacement coming up with new and even more sadistic ways to torture Harry and his friends. Here is a description of the loathsome woman.

Umbridge is a short, squat woman described as resembling a large toad. She often wears a black velvet bow in her hair that reminds Harry of a fly about to be caught. She has a high, girlish voice that Harry describes as sounding like poisoned honey. The name Dolores is derived from the Latin word dolor, or pain, and the name itself means ‘Lady of Sorrows’, possibly reflecting her sadistic nature and the misery caused by her actions.

Dolores is a widely used name in Spain, related to the Virgen de los Dolores (a Catholic religious icon), as well as Spanish for “pains/sorrows”. The pronunciation of the name Umbridge closely resembles that of umbrage, a word meaning resentment or pique at an often imagined insult. Her surname may also originate from umbra, the darkest part of a shadow, denoting Umbridge’s shady nature. “Umbra” is also the etymological root for “umbrage.”

Harry and friends return to Hogwarts aboard the Hogwarts Express, sharing a compartment with the rather unusual Luna Lovegood. Back at Hogwarts, Hagrid is absent, and Dolores Umbridge, Senior Undersecretary to the Minister, has been appointed by the Ministry as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher. She refuses to teach students any practical defense methods, only using textbooks to teach, and it is soon clear she is there only to spy on and take control of the school. She is soon appointed High Inquisitor, intimidating staff and students. She also harbours an intense dislike for half-breeds, centaurs, and similar creatures.

To paraphrase Steven King, Umbridge is the “greatest make-believe villain” to come along since Hillary Clinton. (except she is a villain in reality)

11 Mar 2007 02:48 pm


An email from Iraq…..

Two civilian guys were standing around last night looking like they had just gotten here and were trying to figure out where stuff was. They were pretty obviously American of course.They saw my patch when I walked by and one of them smiled and said “Go Hogs!” I didn’t know what to say so I just smiled as I walked past and said “Go Hogs!”

The guy replied,”Now that’s what I’m talking about!”

Anyway, it made me laugh. Must have been some Arkansas fans, not from our unit but you run into people even out here.

Another thing reminded me of that scene from Empire of the Sun. Remember when Jim was looking through the fence at the Japanese zero pilots?

I was out smoking and SFC Greenwood and I saw an Iraqi pilot sitting on a bunker out on the airfield, the Iraqis work with US pilots (they fly their own helicopters not any of our stuff). Greenwood told me some guys talked to one of them at some point, got one to come over to the fence and talk, he said if you wave at them they will wave back, so I did and the Iraqi pilot waved back.

Don’t worry though, I’ve got a 9mm and ammo on me at all times in my drop holster plus those guys are pretty seriously checked out and are not armed. It’s actually pretty dangerous for them when they have to go home for their leave, (because of course they have to drive off the FOB and go home).

1LT Dean told me yesterday he had a guy and his family (wife and kids) run out onto the road when Dean was a platoon leader and on route clearance, he said the guy was speaking and waving frantically at his house, come to find out the guy told Dean there were 40 insurgents
that had taken over the guy’s house, he was worried and didn’t want his house to get blown away by a helicopter but he also wanted those insurgents thrown out of his house.

Well, anyway, I think that got resolved, was a while back.

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The fabulous Christian Bale brilliantly played the role of Jamie Graham in Empire of the Sun. I remember secretly hoping that if any of my children faced such extreme circumstances as did Jim that they would use everything they have to survive.

My husband and I took our children to loads of movies when they were young and with the advent of the video cassette recorder we viewed many of the classics as well as current films. My husband and I shared our favorite movies from our youth with the kids as well.

Our son was about the same age as Jim in the movie Empire of the Sun when we first watched it. It’s become one of our family favorites. Many of the scenes in the movie are unforgetable. During the relatively halcyon days of our childrens’ childhood war only happened in the movies.

Being a student of history though, during the nineties, after the quick video-game-like resolution of the Gulf War and the defeat of President H.W. Bush, I worried as our children got older and the Clinton administration didn’t seem to meet any middle eastern despots they didn’t like.

The legacy of the Presidency of Bill Clinton? Appeasement R Us.

Perhaps it was the cynic in me but we had lived in Panama just after the days of Operation Just Cause. Our quarters were riddled with bullet holes from the military operations and a few months later we discovered that we lived next door to a PDF cell. It was an exciting but very scary time.

After returning to the states I thought a lot about the military and economic strength of our nation and the need for it to be led by leaders who understand the essential role that American military strength plays.

But, no, unbelievably, America elected Bill Clinton.

His first action? Placing blame on Janet Reno for the Branch Davidian siege.

Second action? Don’t Ask don’t tell.

Third action? Treating the first World Trade Center bombing/attack as a criminal act.

Fourth action? Changing the focus of our mission in Somalia from that of making secure corridors in order to get UN food to the starving people in the interior, to that of nation building, which was never part of the military function. Nation building, when done after World War ll was a state department responsibility whereby the military just provided security and specialized training when called upon. The U.S. controlled Japan and Germany for years, much longer than we have been in Iraq.

The military that President Bush inherited from Clinton, though with great potential, had become a tremendous first strike force with no staying power. Clinton reduced even the effectiveness of the first punch to a certain extent and after President Bush’s assumption of office in 2001, Rumsfeld recognized that the force that he received was a very reduced capability force.

Rumsfeld’s first act was to try to restructure the military force so that the combat punch would move from division to brigade level. That would have potentially allowed a smaller support force which would be used in quick mobile warfare.

Clinton’s destruction of the support structure of the military as well as its reduction in strength did not allow for the formal U.S. solution for insurgency which was an inundation of forces. (which had already been defeated once in Vietnam)

The Clinton generals wanted to keep their combat formations, did not want to go to a brigade structure and they fought Rumsfeld at every turn. This revolt by the Army hierarchy left the force structure in the same weakened state as when Clinton destroyed it. Our generals seemed to be very effective in denying any value of this new idea. (although the Marine Corps has used this effectively for many years)

It seems that the Army generals for the most part wanted a World War ll structure no matter what the cost and when it was demonstrated to them that the cost would be prohibitive politically, as well as financially, they did not care. They had inherited a cold war mentality that would not allow a rethinking of any other contingency.

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We are very fortunate to have a non-typical Army general (Petraeus) now leading our forces in Iraq. One wonders how the call for non-support by the Democrat party will encourage those with the rigid thinking mentality so prevalent in our past to remain the power brokers in our military. The result of this is as plain as reading a non-revisionist history book and will repeat the disasterous mistakes made in Vietnam and Korea.

Hillary Clinton aspires to be Appeasement R Us Part Deux. She stepped out of her “faux moderate support-the-war closet” when she announced her candidacy for President and with every passing day becomes more shrill in her denouncements of the Bush administration. Claiming she wants to “reign in the President” even with news of successes in Iraq she reveals that the paradigm of Clinton is still that of a poll-driven, panderer. Even though the surge is succeeding Hillary Clinton and her fellow democrats cannot deal with that reality.

Hot Air has more on the good surge news.

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