Travel


04 Nov 2008 12:04 am

This political season brings to mind the years (1999-2002) we lived in Heidelberg, Germany and had the grand Armed Forces Network cable channel which included: the NBC Today Show, Good Morning America and that other network. (can’t think of the name) AFN ran the Today Show and The View twice daily. For entertainment there were a lot of down market sitcoms that I found boring.

Even though Fox News had been on the air for quite some time we were still in the Clinton years and there were no media outlets that were not approved by the Clinton administration except for one hour of Rush on the radio network.

Then there was CNN International. It was beyond awful.

I chose to watch the Sky News Network. (I enjoyed Sunday Live with Adam Boulton) Then there was a funny little British channel I enjoyed watching. I think it was the BBC, and during the day there were interesting shows about gardening. When I wasn’t perusing the news on the internet down in the basement of the house, I watched the gardening show. One day, for some reason, the host was talking about fertilizer and suddenly the screen froze on some very fresh looking, manure, i.e. stable dung. I tried to change the channel but it wouldn’t change.

I shrugged my shoulders and went outside for a walk. (this was my year of freedom, traveling, shopping and fun)

When I came back inside, the television screen was still frozen. I did some laundry and read a book. Later I checked Fox News on the internet and read my email. My daughters were coming to visit us soon for their college break and I was excited.

Late that evening, when my husband came home, I pointed to the television screen. He looked at the stable dung and turned the television off. He turned it back on. It was still there. He tried to change the channel and couldn’t. We had no other television in Germany and didn’t want to buy another one over there.

My husband put in a DVD of Horatio Hornblower and we watched it.

I remember, I made steak, baked potatoes, dilled salad and steamed broccoli.

After we turned it off he put the television screen back on.

The stable dung was there again.

So it stayed. It became familiar. I noticed that our cat, Captain would watch it sometimes, then yawn, turn around and lick himself.

When the girls were due to arrive I drove to Frankfurt to pick them up. This was their first trip to Germany since they were babies. I was excited to show off our house to them. We had big plans to travel that summer.

After the girls checked out their rooms and the house and had settled down into the living room one of them glanced at the television and took a second look.

“Mom.” Charlotte said, “Is there something wrong with the T.V.?”

I looked up at the television and then back at Charlotte and said, “Oh no. There’s nothing wrong.”

Charlotte said, “Well, there’s poop on the screen!”

“That’s the gardening channel.” I said.

Charlotte made an attempt to change the channel and couldn’t do it either.

We spent so much time traveling that summer it didn’t matter that our television had a screen load of manure. Not when we had been to Paris, London, Dublin, Kilkenny, Zurich, Salzburg, and Rothenberg.

When I think about that television screen of dung I see the out-of-their-minds, Keith Olbermann, and Chris Matthews, and all of the rest of the supposedly, objective news reporters on the three networks, MSNBC and CNN. These people are just as frozen in their idealogies as that German television screen and many Americans have bought into their sales pitches.

One day when we turned on the television the manure was gone, we could change the channel and the girls enjoyed watching South Park in German.

Today the military and their families in Europe and elsewhere enjoy much more freedom of choice in their entertainment and news selections.

Hopefully, the American people will see through the dung of the polls, the press, the execrable exit polls and that Charlatan, Barack Obama and get out and vote for John McCain tomorrow.

UPDATE:

Man Parks Manure Near Democrats’ Campaign Office to Protest Obama.

That is a true headline.

Terry Reed, who owns a construction and excavation company in Whitehall, parked the trailer near the office on Saturday. He also posted a sign in the manure mocking Obama’s “change we can believe in” slogan as “a load of crap.”

“I think Obama’s plan is just one big old poop sandwich and we’re all going to have to take a bite,” he said.

I’m sorry, but this makes me smile.

19 Jun 2008 01:01 am

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What a moving experience it was.

I couldn’t possibly count all the packing boxes that went into the many military moves of the Donoho family. Thirty years of life in the military was enlightening, fun, tedious, maddening and glorious. We never really took a vacation during all those years. The vacation would invariably occur during our permanent changes of station. We would take cross country trips with loaded cars, pets in tow and somehow managed to make it fun.

After the one five-year period we lived in Indiana during which our children were in the early grades in elementary school, we moved every year or two years thereafter. I will always treasure Indianapolis and West Lafayette, Indiana for those precious years. There was always something interesting going on. Our children loved the Childrens Museum in Indianapolis.

We’ve lived in the far north and near the equator. We lived next door to a house where pro-Noriega police were planning a coup and we lived on a post where deer would appear in the front yard. We absolutely loved living in a house built by the Buffalo soldiers and for six months we more than lived on a beach.

We spent two tours in Germany, the first, early in my husband’s career and the second when my husband was nearing retirement. The travels were more enriching during the last tour because our children were older. We all discovered how much we liked travel by train.

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Afternoon in Germany

And yet, often we didn’t realize how much we liked a place until we saw it in the rearview mirror. Such is life, I suppose.

But the moves themselves were memorable and once or twice very disheartening. I will never forget the time we were moving from Fort Eustis. When the packers came in our house my heart fell. The packers were so illiterate they couldn’t spell the simplest words on the boxes and I caught a few throwing the packed items into the containers.

I gathered up all of our silver, the family Bible, photo albums and other precious things and packed them myself and put them aside. These possessions would not go into storage. We drove them in our big van all the way to Arkansas to leave with our parents.

Thank heavens we did that. After we had spent two years in Panama and had moved to Fort Drum, New York, on the very day we were to receive our household goods the inspector came out to our house and told my husband that all the things we had left in storage might not arrive because the storage company had gone bankrupt and whatever wasn’t stolen had been left out in the rain.

Missing was the beautiful oriental rug we had bought in Germany on our first tour, the old American flag with the forty eight stars that my husband had inherited from his late grandfather and many other things. Our heirloom dining room furniture was water damaged and warped; the living room sofa and chairs had rust stains all over them and the legs were broken off. It was a mess. We had no living room or dining room furniture to speak of and making matters worse, we were expected to entertain because my husband was a battalion commander.

A battalion command is a big deal in a military family. It was quite an achievement in my husband’s Army career. To prepare for the command both my husband and I attended a course at Fort Leavenworth. We met a lot of great people, some of whom were also headed to Fort Drum.

So, my expectations that we would be able to get settled quickly were dashed. Material possessions aren’t all that important of course, but the government had let us down. I wanted to find out why the storage facility had gone bankrupt and learned that it had filed a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Somehow, no one in the huge bureaucracy thought it important to let military families know that their possessions were at risk.

Then I discovered all the governmental red tape. We first had to file a claim with our own insurance before the government would let us even file a claim with them. Luckily our insurance would cover loss and water damage. I had to document everything and luckily I still had our photo albums and receipts since I had stored that with our parents. But the whole enterprise of dealing with the government bureaucracy took months to do. Once I got around to filing our claim with the government I discovered that all items would be depreciated.

The damaged furniture was unusable so it was put in the garage. We had to keep it around for insurance purposes.

We had our first battalion party in an empty living room and dining room.The food was excellent though (if I say so myself) and we used our old rattan outdoor table and chairs we had bought from the Indians in the interior of Panama. So we had plenty of floor space and everyone was happy with the food and drink.

It was months before we had furniture. Fort Drum is seventeen miles from Watertown, New York and I only found one nice furniture store there. Another town twenty five miles away had an Ethan Allen. We had to go to Syracuse to find a replacement for our oriental carpet. That was fun of course but meanwhile, my husband had been deployed to Somalia. My daughters and I made all the selections.

Along the way our cat family expanded. We had found Abbey in Panama at a U.S. government run humane society and a year after we got to Fort Drum we added Sabby. Then, one cold winter night Captain arrived. Pattertwig, our dog and Sabby really got along well.

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Our kids were in junior and senior high school during our two years at Fort Drum. Our son was a senior at the Catholic High School in Watertown and (while his Dad was in Somalia) he had convinced me to let him drive our ten year old van to school a few days a week instead of having to take the bus. We had 224 inches of snow that first winter. Upstate New York road workers really kept the roads clear. The school system never called off school because of the weather and, thankfully, our son drove safely.

I had to make those kind of command decisions that winter and luckily when my husband finally returned home he liked the furniture, our kids had kept up their grades and Drew hadn’t had any car accidents.

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We lived in this house just down the hill from Quarry Heights in Panama

Getting back to our move from Fort Eustis, Virginia to Panama. After we had cleared our quarters we decided for economic reasons to stay in the guest house at Fort Eustis. It was an old building but our quarters had a suite with a bedroom and living room. At first, we settled in happily.

Everyone was asleep when around two a.m. the smoke/fire alarm in the ceiling right above our bed went off. We all woke up. Our youngest daughter, Charlotte was sick with fever and a stomach virus. Her precious sleep was disturbed and brought on more moans and misery. My husband tried to get the alarm shut off but it just kept wailing. We checked to see if there was any smoke but there wasn’t any sign of a fire. We waited for the firemen to arrive. They checked out our rooms and decided that there was no fire, we just had a faulty fire alarm. They left. We went back to bed.

One hour later, the fire alarm went off again. The firemen came again. They would not disconnect the fire alarm but checked it out and informed us that it wouldn’t go off again. Of course it did. It went off every hour for the rest of the night.

We named that guest house Hotel Hell. We didn’t stay there another night.

Our van and my husband’s car was loaded and ready to go so we put Pattertwig and the kids in the cars and headed west to Arkansas.

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Little houses representing the many places we have lived perch on the bookshelf

I focus a lot on our two year tour at Fort Drum, New York. For me, it was one of my most enriching experiences in our thirty years of Army life. Perhaps it was because I didn’t work for those two years and had a lot of time to enjoy watching it snow, being with the kids and experimenting with recipes for all the parties we had. Being a Battalion Commanders wife required that I get involved in the military community, the Family Readiness Group and the battalion. I made so many friends with the wives on the post. We played bridge, were in a bowling league (I love to bowl but am not very good) and attended lots of meetings. I was vice president of the Volunteer Support Fund. I learned a lot through that endeavor.

One of my friends did lots of arts and crafts. She made the little houses representing almost everywhere we had lived shown in the above photo. I held parties for the wives and families in my husband’s battalion. I also did what I could to make their lives better. Sometimes all I could do was console.

While my husband was in Somalia his Executive Officer’s son, a yearling at West Point, was in a terrible auto accident with a group of cadets who were on their way back to West Point from Florida after Spring Break. Billy lost his left arm and two other cadets were killed. That was very hard. I still think of that time with sadness. Billy was an outstanding cadet but because he lost his left arm he had to leave West Point at the end of his yearling year. He was determined not to let the loss of an arm stop him. He spent time at Fort Drum on the golf course. His exuberant personality was an inspiration to all of us. Billy went on to finish college and is very successful.

Our children were growing up. My son was headed to West Point when we moved in June of 1994 to Fairfax, Virginia. My husband headed to the Pentagon. I became a fifth grade teacher at Washington Mill Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. We loved living near our nations’ capital and enjoyed our trips into Washington D.C.

Because the Clintons were living in the White House we didn’t take a tour.
A snub to Hillary, yes.

She was reported to have remarked during the eighties that she would “pass on a tour of the White House” during the Reagan presidency until “nicer people” lived there.

I became friends with a lady who lived in Alexandria most of her life and her son was a student in my fifth grade class. She and her husband had an annual Christmas tradition of going on a White House tour. She told me that after the Clintons moved into the White House she questioned a tour guide about the beautiful Italian creche that was always on display during the Christmas holidays at the White House but she didn’t see it in its usual place. The tour guide whispered to her that because Hillary didn’t want to insult Muslims she hadn’t allowed it to be displayed.

Our two years in Fairfax, Virginia went by fast and before we knew it we were on the road to Carlisle, Pennsylvania. My husband was in one car and the girls and I and our three cats and dog were in the van. It was raining. When we arrived at the Army War College and our little house in Smurf Village I was shocked to discover that the movers were moving our furniture into the house during the rain. Our white sofa was covered with plastic but it was sitting on the lawn.

The house was very small but we were so leery of any storage facility we decided to go with all of our stuff. Somehow we managed to make it all fit. The house had five levels. A basement was the first level and the L shaped living room and dining area with a tiny, walk-in kitchen was on the second level. Upstairs were two bedrooms and a bathroom. Third level. One level up, was another bedroom and bath and then up in the attic was another bedroom. Fifth level. It was a tiny little house stacked up like a wedding cake and we loved living in it.

Being in Pennsylvania for that one year was fun. Our son was a little closer to us, it only took four hours to drive to West Point. We brought him home every chance that we could. Our oldest daughter was off to college at Washington and Jefferson, a drive that took three hours. I spent a lot of time on the road and was able to view the exquisite beauty of the state. We went to the Army-Navy game in Philadelphia that year, and Army won in a very exciting game.

Many memories were packed into that one year. Before we knew it, it was over and we were heading to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, one of my most favorite posts. We had lived there years before during my husband’s first tour. Going back was thrilling. We lived on the quadrangle, where all the historic houses built by the Buffalo Soldiers were. Our house on Chickasaw Road was about one hundred forty years old, had five bedrooms, front stairs, back stairs, two fireplaces, a screened in porch and a kitchen with two ovens. There were hardwood floors throughout and built-in bookcases. Our house had a plaque on the wall in the front hallway which listed the names of all the officers who had lived there. After we left our name was added to it.

All the other houses had only four bedrooms. Our house had a story behind it. In the early nineteen hundreds a chaplain and his family lived in our quarters. He had a moonshine still and one day it exploded, causing a lot of damage. When the house was repaired one of the bedrooms was divided in two. I loved that old story.

Life during the two years we lived at Fort Sill was bitter sweet. My husband lost his parents within four months of each other. That was the reason we went to Fort Sill. My husband was being groomed to be a general but he chose to pass on that and move to Fort Sill because it was the closest post we could get to in order to be near his father, who had terminal cancer. We spent many hours on the road to Fort Smith.

The second and last year we were at Fort Sill I suffered empty nest syndrome. Our youngest daughter was off to college. Fortunately, she chose the University of Oklahoma which was only a two and a half hour trip. I took trips up to the University on Thursdays to take Charlotte out to lunch. Meanwhile our son had graduated from West Point in 1998 and was attending his Officers Basic course at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Our oldest daughter, Kate was in her third year at Washington and Jefferson College in Pennsylvania. I took road trips up to Pennsylvania to see her.

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Washington and Jefferson College

In August, 1997, my parents went with us to take Kate back to school. We took two cars because we were going to leave one of them with Kate. When we were driving through the outskirts of St. Louis I looked in my rearview mirror to check on my parents and they were nowhere to be found. This was the days before cellphones. I pulled over on the shoulder of the road, waiting and hoping to see my parents in the car and after about fifteen minutes of wondering what in the world I would do if we had lost them, we saw the car coming down the interstate.

Traveling with my parents has always been an interesting but sometimes flustering experience. On the way home my dad wanted to stop at every antique shop on the way. It was fun but sometimes frustrating for me because I wanted to get back on the road. By the time we returned home the van was loaded with items that would go into their antique shop.

I loved walking around Fort Sill. We lived on the old quadrangle and the parade ground, where all the military ceremonies took place, was just across the street. Atomic Annie was just a few blocks away. The guardhouse where Geronimo was held was nearby.

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The Donoho House

Thirty years went by as fast as thirty minutes. It seems like it was just this morning that my mother-in-law Martha Ann presented me with a copy of The Army Wife.

The military life stays with you. We moved back to our hometown and found employment. Our children live near us and we are surrounded with all of our family. I still love giving parties, pulling out all the German china, Polish artist signed pottery and French tablecloths.

Still, Summer feels funny if we are not traveling somewhere and I find myself going through all the old photographs of places we have lived. I look around the rooms of our house and have the urge to pack it all up. Moving was not so much fun but the places we lived and people we met all over our country, in Europe and Panama taught us, enriched us, enlarged our minds and made us appreciate our country.

I miss it.

05 Jan 2008 06:05 pm

It’s a tense moment and Clinton seems rattled by it.

Jonathan Last was at the New Hampshire Democratic party’s 100 Club dinner in Milford, New Hampshire a day after Obama beat Hillary so resoundingly in the Iowa Caucuses. At the dinner, as Hillary was giving her speech, she was heckled by the Obama supporters and apparently didn’t handle the booing very well. Last’s report gives us the delicious details of that night out with the Democrats. According to Last, Kucinich was nutty, Obama glowed and Hillary was booed. It’s not like she’s never been booed before, but in the past, the media quickly whitewashed the images out of national newsdom, at least up until now.

Before the days of Barack Obama.

But, really, what could one expect of a woman who has been wrapped in the cocoon of media protection all these years? Hillary has never made herself available to a no-holds-barred press conference, her townhalls have been carefully arranged with planted questions, and the one who must be obeyed has reigned over the polls and the docile press.

Until now.

Hillary now has an opponent who gives good speeches, something she has never done. Obama has charm and charisma and has captured the imagination of many democrats and younger voters. Whether Obama will deliver “change” or leave us all with nothing more than loose change in our pockets, right now, he is the road not taken, the way out of the Clinton abyss.

Hillary’s like the once alluring siren who has now been revealed to be a hag. She still believes in her greatly polished image but many people are now seeing through it.

Milford, New Hampshire, the city of my great grandfather’s nativity, was once a Republican stronghold. Now, it’s dominated by Democrats. My great grandfather, William Chase Whitmarsh would be sad to see the city of his birth in the hands of Democrats, but probably wouldn’t be surprised. When he was a youth, his parents moved from Milford, New Hampshire to Denmark, Iowa. His father, William Faxon Whitmarsh, fought for the Union in the Civil War and died of yellow fever in Little Rock, Arkansas during the occupation just after the War ended.

William, his son, traveled from Denmark, Iowa to Little Rock to see his father’s grave at the National Cemetary. He stayed in Arkansas, married the niece of General Zachary Taylor and became a merchant. When Lucy Taylor Whitmarsh died young, he remarried Jemima Haseltine Stiles, my great grandmother.

Just a year before my great grandfather died, he road a bicycle all the way from Arkansas to Massachusetts. (he called the bicycle his wheels) He stayed for six months, visiting Milford, New Hampshire and Braintree, Massachusetts. He supported himself by making hand woven cane chairs. He had stayed in touch with his family in New England and according to letters in my mother’s possession, really enjoyed his visit.

Somewhere in Missouri, my great grandfather collapsed and his sons went to get him. He died just days after returning to Arkansas.

The road from New Hampshire to Iowa to Arkansas was traveled well by my great grandfather and left his descendants wondering at his energy, love for his family and independance.

Barack Obama has successfully taken the road from Iowa to New Hampshire. Whether he can really unseat the Woman who must be Obeyed is questionable but I, for one, will happily watch him attempt to do it. Not that I would vote for him.

No, I would never vote for Barack Obama. He is a Democrat and I don’t agree with his policies or his politics. But I can admire his gumption and his Humphrey Bogart-like delivery of his speeches. I think he is doing the Democrat Party a favor by helping to unweave the Clinton web over all things Democrat.

Now, if Republicans, Mitt, Rudy or John will finally pop the Huckabubble we might have a real contest.

Welcome Sissy Willis readers!!

05 Nov 2007 03:20 pm

A Minnesota woman shot an Albino deer on the opening weekend of Deer Season in Minnesota.

On this season’s deer opener, a Minnesota woman shot one of the rarest kinds around; an albino deer. Mary Rakotz of Avon got the 6-point buck on Saturday in Mille Lacs County.

She said it was thrilling to see the rare animal, but 100 times more exciting to be able to actually take it home.

“I had heard that it might be in the area, so I thought that here was my chance of a lifetime. So I had to creep a little bit, probably about 40 yards, to get a good place where I could steady myself a little bit. But then I did that and shot and it went right down,” said Rakotz.

Back in my sentimental days I loved it when I saw a deer in the woods. But that was usually a rare occasion and before a deer almost destroyed my family.

Back in late October, 1997, my youngest daughter and I traveled up to Pennsylvania and New York to see my son, who was a cadet at West Point and my oldest daughter, who was attending Washington and Jefferson in Pennsylvania. We went to see an Army football game in the afternoon and after the game went out to dinner. On the way back to West Point, it was dusk. We were staying at the Thayer Hotel so we could be near our cadet, and were driving on Route 17, when out of nowhere, to the right of the car, a big deer was heading right for us.

This is one reason why I am glad I learned to shoot pool.

I had only enough time to put a little English on my car and turned the car a little to the left, hitting the deer squarely on the right front end of my car. It bounced under the right side mirror. I didn’t stop the car because there was a lot of traffic. I continued on my way to West Point, angry and determined to get us back. I was worried that some damage was done to our car and in shock about what had happened. I had a feeling that the car was in bad shape and I was hoping it would make ten more miles.

When we arrived at West Point, I pulled over at the West Point Museum, just outside the gates. We got out of the car to inspect the damage and there was quite a bit. Plus, I could tell that the radiator was busted.

We got the attention of a local policeman and told him about the accident. I was concerned about leaving the deer on the side of the road. The policeman told me that I had done the right thing. When I called our insurance adjuster she mentioned to me that had I swerved to avoid the deer instead of hitting it, our insurance would not have covered the accident completely. (we would have had to pay the five hundred dollar deductable.) Hitting a deer is considered an act of God.

My daughter and I had to fly home because the car had to be left for repairs. As it happened, we had originally planned to leave the car with my son and take a rental car home anyway. He had to wait a few months before it was repaired.

I was very careful driving down interstate 40 last week because I knew it was near deer season. I saw several of the deer on the side of the road.

The worst thing happened this weekend. A family at my husband’s school (K through 12th grade) traveled up to Farmington, Arkansas to see the school’s football team play Farmington and on the way home, in an attempt to avoid hitting a deer, the father crashed their truck. Even though the kids had on their seatbelts, the ten year old son, Matt was thrown out of the truck and killed. His twin sister, Katelyn is in critical condition at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The Dad was treated and released. The family is devastated. Please pray for the Russell family.

So when I read that a hunter has killed a deer, whether it’s a rare albino deer or not, I know that at the very least, the deer has been kept out of the road. I’m convinced that had I not turned my car just a little, the deer would have come through the windshield. It was so close that there was no way I could have avoided it.

06 May 2007 12:55 pm

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Art by Laura Lee Donoho

Michelangelo’s David, in a moment of intense concentration, about to do battle with the giant, Goliath. Not only was the David’s stance alert, natural and graceful, the face revealed from every angle, a readiness for action.

Michelangelo knew about anatomy, having studied it at the morgue of the hospital of Santo Spirito. He spent hours there, dissecting bodies and learning about the skeletal structure. Although it was a grisly undertaking, it was there he gained his amazing ability to bring forth life from a block of stone.

The block of carrara marble, from which the seventeen feet tall, David would emerge, had been sitting unused in the workyard of the cathedral of Florence for over thirty years. Many artists had attempted to fashion a form from it, including Agostino di Duccio but with no success.

In 1501 Michelangelo was commissioned to create the biblical King David by the Arte della Lana (Guild of Wool Merchant), who were responsible for the upkeep and the decoration of the Cathedral in Florence.

The abandoned block of misshapen marble became Michelangelo’s and he worked to free the figure he knew was inside. The result is exactly what Michelangelo intended, David’s physical perfection was merely the outward sign of his inner state of grace.

Michelangelo said of his work, The true work of art is but a shadow of the divine perfection.

Not long before Michelangelo’s death he burned some of his poems, drawings, sketches and cartoons. Some have surmised that he didn’t want the world to see all the work that went into his completed works. Others suspect that Michelangelo, remembering Savonarola’s bonfire of the vanities in his youth, was looking towards the next world and the salvation of his soul.

But what remains of his immortal works reveals that Michelangelo is the greatest of all artists in an age of great artists.

I discovered Michelangelo and his works when I was very young and remember reading the story, The Agony and the Ecstasy by Irving Stone when I was in eighth grade. The book captivated me and urged me on to learn more about my hero, Michelangelo.

My most treasured high school graduation gift was a large, thick book with all of Michelangelo’s works. I planned to take a two week graduation school trip sponsored by my high school English teacher to Florence but dropped out when my parents counseled me that I had to choose between the trip and my first year of college because they couldn’t afford to do both. I made the decision to put the trip off until another day because I wanted to go to college.

Seven years later, when my husband and I were stationed in Germany I signed up for an officers wives trip down to Florence. The day we were to leave the trip was canceled because of an “earthquake” so the trip was changed to a shopping trip to Northern Italy. I was disappointed but went, determined to one day go to Florence.

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My daughters, niece and I finally got to Florence in the summer of 2000. It was thrilling to finally be in the Accademia Gallery where the David stands in all of his glory. As we stood around the giant, my daughter was taking some photos (many of the tourists were doing so) and a female security guard approached her and in broken English demanded that she leave. I could have stayed but didn’t want to be separated from my daughters and niece so I left.

I saw the magnificent David but had to leave too quickly. So now I have to go back.

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Michelangelo’s tomb in the beautiful Santa Croce Cathedral in Florence. Legend tells us that Saint Francis himself founded this church.

We visited the cathedral while we were in Florence. All visitors were asked to cover their heads and shoulders and we did. Michelangelo’s tomb was designed by Giorgio Vasari in 1570.

The three figures are the muses of Sculpture, Architecture, and Painting.

Among the many memorable quotes of the great man, the essence of Michelangelo is this: I am a poor man and of little worth, who is laboring in that art that God has given me in order to extend my life as long as possible.”

Michelangelo died on February 1564, at the age of eighty-nine. He was still working, the last days before his death, on his final work, the same as his first, an unfinished Pietà.

22 Sep 2006 08:14 pm

Hope she recovers completely.

Astronaut Collapses During Ceremony

An astronaut collapsed twice Friday, a day after she returned to Earth in the shuttle Atlantis, and officials attributed her wobbles to the adjustment from 12 days at zero gravity.

Heidemarie Stefanyshyn-Piper left the welcome-home ceremony at the hangar at Ellington Field but was not taken to a hospital. Officials said she was doing fine.

Piper, the fifth of the six astronauts to speak, appeared to be confused before her legs buckled during her address. NASA officials and crew members braced her and lowered her to the ground. She stood up again, and the crowd applauded.

“Boy, if that’s not a little embarrassing,” she said.

More here……

I hope the NASA doctors follow Stefanyshyn-Piper’s health closely. We met the late James Irwin when he came to speak at the Post Chapel at Fort Monroe, VA in 1988 or 89. He spoke about his ministry and experiences as an astronaut. He wrote in his book, To Rule the Night I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before.”

He also talked frankly about the heart problems he developed after his trip to the moon at the age of 43. Irwin felt that his heart had been weakened by space travel. James Irwin died only a few years after we met him of a heart attack at the age of 61.

27 Jul 2006 11:25 am

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Sam’s Throne, in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas

Jonah Goldberg at The Corner has my home state, Arkansas on the list of ugly states. While I will never forgive my state for voting Bill Clinton into office I have to defend at least the Northwest region because it’s breathtakingly beautiful. (and Clinton never won in the Northwest Arkansas region for governor or president)

But the whole state has natural beauty especially in the rural areas.

We have our lakes, our rivers, our mountains, our valleys and our rocks.

“Our mountains ain’t so high, but our valleys shore are deep,” goes an old Ozark saying.

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Sunset in the Arkansas River Valley

Mount Magazine is nearby, the highest point in Arkansas at 2,753-feet and very beautiful.

Southern Arkansas is not bad either.

The north central area is also beautiful.

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Cooper Chapel in Bella Vista, Arkansas

I don’t want to make this post a travelogue but there is natural beauty in every corner of this state.

Surely Jonah jests.

20 Jul 2006 11:27 am

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Maine found a cow dressed like her.

11 Jul 2006 11:00 am

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That’s a bunch of spinach but it’s not the most interesting thing about Alma, Arkansas. Not only is Alma home to the green leafy vegetable; there is a place near Alma most people call “Gravity Hill.”

According to the natives there is a place on this hill that seems to defy gravity.

Supposedly, if you shut off your car on the hill and put it in park, your car will start to roll uphill by itself.

Many bored teenagers have often gone here on slow nights. Some insist this location is haunted. Although no real logical reason has been documented.

I don’t think it’s all that spinach.

11 Jul 2006 10:43 am

Other than the Big Dig.

The worlds most dangerous road.

I wish I hadn’t looked. This could cause nightmares.

Most of my nightmares are about strange roads and buildings.

Hat tip: Pajamas Media

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