March 2007

17 Mar 2007 02:23 pm


It seems so long ago that we were in Ireland but I remember our trip vividly. I kept a scrapbook, of course, in which I illustrated and wrote about my impressions. It was the last trip I took with my children while they were all single. (before two of them married two years later within two months of each other) Time has indeed flown but it has added a wonderful son-in-law, daughter-in-law and a three year old grandson.

We rented a car and traveled south from Dublin to Kilkenny, Ireland. We loved both cities

Believe it or not, the kids and I found the food in Ireland better than anywhere else in Europe. We loved the traditional breakfasts and the quaint pubs and cafes we found along the way.

And the music.


The Anchoress knows good Irish cooking.

16 Mar 2007 09:47 am


This is my artroom. One corner of it is devoted to the great Vincent Van Gogh. The Yellow House wall hanging is part of scenery from an art play I wrote, produced, and directed several years ago with some of my sixth grade art students.

Vincent’s still making news. Vincent in Brixton is a fascinating new play being produced in Salisbury, England featuring the time Van Gogh spent in England.

As an artist, Vincent Van Gogh’s medium was two dimensional, but Nicholas Wright’s imagining of his early life and the time he spent in lodgings in Brixton is anything but. It is fully rounded, wonderfully detailed and totally compelling.

Little is known of the time Van Gogh spent as a young man working for an art dealers in London, but Wright weaves the clues and hints in his letters home to draw a picture of how his burgeoning artistic talent is unlocked by the transfiguring power of love.

When Van Gogh met Gauguin is a British television drama about life in the Yellow House in Arles in the South of France.

Putting up with what the rest of us would find insupportable - loneliness, insecurity, mental instability and abject poverty - they locked themselves away in “the Studio of the South” at the now legendary “Yellow House” in Arles in the South of France. They fought, drank and whored like there was no tomorrow. Their evenings would often end with a manic Van Gogh smashing up the furniture in a blind rage. But above all, they painted with a fervour that went way beyond the merely passionate. That creative frenzy proved astonishingly fecundity. During the white heat of those two months, Van Gogh and Gauguin could be said to have invented the concept of modern art. Between them, they produced more than 40 works which are now revered as masterpieces. Van Gogh casually stowed his celebrated cycle of “Sunflower” paintings under his bed. On today’s market, these pieces would command millions of pounds. Not bad for a couple of months’ work.

And yet this period of breathtaking creativity came at a very high price. The painters’ intense working relationship, which always thrived on an acute and uneasy rivalry, eventually tipped over into bitter antipathy, climaxing in the now notorious moment where Van Gogh cut off his ear while muttering about “Judas”. When the artists parted after this traumatic episode, they were husks. They had poured so much of themselves into their endeavours, they emerged from Arles with nothing left to give. Within 18 months, Van Gogh had shot himself in the chest. But he even managed to mess that up; he failed to kill himself outright, and instead bled to death over several excruciating days. A few years later, Gauguin followed his erstwhile best friend to the grave, dying penniless, syphilitic and alone in self-imposed exile in Tahiti.

The Wheat Field Behind St. Paul’s Hospital” is coming to America.

While van Gogh was a patient at an asylum in Saint-Rémy, France, a year before his suicide in 1890, he produced a colorful landscape, “The Wheat Field Behind St. Paul’s Hospital.” That painting is said to be the first van Gogh to enter a museum.

Now it is coming to the United States for the first time when it goes on view at the Neue Galerie in Manhattan as part of “Van Gogh and Expressionism,” an exhibition opening on Thursday.

With its brilliant yellows and blues, this work is a prime example of what the exhibition is about: exploring the influence of van Gogh on German and Austrian Expressionism. The show, on view through July 2, will include 80 paintings and drawings. Fourteen works are from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam; the rest are loans from public and private collections around the world, including the Neue Galerie.

Life has a way of coming full circle. Vincent, ignored and ridiculed by the art world when he was alive, is now appreciated for his wonderfully intense and expressionist art. Theo Van Gogh, the direct descendent of Vincent’s beloved brother, Theo, seemed to inherit Vincent’s spirit of living life intensely but was cut down in The Netherlands by an Islamist extremist because of his collaboration with Ayaan Hirsi Ali in a short film called Submission.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-born author of “Infidel,” learned of a death threat against her when it was stabbed into the nine-times-shot-and-nearly-beheaded body of Theo Van Gogh. They had collaborated on a short film called “Submission” about the oppression of women in conservative Islamic cultures.

Celebrating life through art is now risky with Islamists on the loose throughout the free world.


Friends and fans of the Dutch filmmaker found dead with a note pinned to his chest with a knife unveiled a memorial sculpture Sunday that depicts him screaming near the spot where he was murdered by an Islamic extremist.

15 Mar 2007 09:23 am






My daughter found these math test answers somewhere on the internet.

Brings back memories.

I was always told that when I didn’t know the solution to a problem on a test, to guess.

The above students did more. The Batman solution is my favorite.

For the Newtons in the crowd, find the error.


But wait! There’s more!

A four year old boy jams with Hank Williams Jr.

Hey! Welcome The Flight Deck Readers!

14 Mar 2007 11:59 pm


Art by Laura Lee Donoho

So now a Republican is calling for Attorney General Gonzales to be fired because the Justice Department fired eight U.S. Attorneys? When will the Republicans ever learn? I was never a fan of Senator Trent Lott but what did we get when he was forced to step down as Majority Leader? Bill Frist. Boy, was that a win.


It’s allergy season, March Madness, my Mother’s birthday, and art competition season. Grades were due this week, the cats have been misbehaving, and there’s a load of housework that has been neglected. But Spring Break beckons.


Spring Break can’t come soon enough.

13 Mar 2007 07:11 am

Here’s some news about the great work done by the 875th Engineers in Iraq.

500+ IEDs have been located by the 875th. Each roadside bomb located saves lives. As of today, of 107 KIAs this year, 64 were caused by IEDs. Everytime the 875th’s buffalos roll out for route clearance missions they neutralize the terrorists’ murder by wire. More Americans will return to families because they look for what others fear. FEBRUARY 28, 2007

875th Engineer Battalion Hits Milestone with 500th Find in Iraq

Arkansas Guard Unit finds Success in Search for Improvised Explosive Devices

By Staff Sgt. Chris Durney
875th Engineer Battalion Public Affairs

CAMP STRIKER, Iraq - Less than six months into a yearlong deployment to Iraq, the Arkansas Army National Guard’s 875th Engineer Battalion has found and cleared its 500th improvised explosive device.

The 875th deployed to Iraq in late September 2006, and is tasked with a critical route clearance and route sanitation mission along a major military and Iraqi commerce artery in central Iraq. Staff Sgt. Adam Edmons of Floral, Ark., made the historic 500th find while on patrol Mar. 6, 2007, with 2nd Platoon, Alpha Company.

According to Capt. David Moore, Alpha Company commander, the 500th was significant, but the 499th was a more difficult find due to the way it was concealed. The sharp eyes of Sgt. Zachary Mullins, of Cherry Valley, Ark., were able to spot the dangerous roadside bomb before it could be detonated by terrorists.

Each of the IEDs were rendered harmless by an explosive ordinance detachment before the patrol continued on with a mission that lasted over eight hours. Alpha and Charlie Companies operate out of Logistics Support Area Anaconda, near Balad. The battalion headquarters and the 131st Engineer Company are located at Camp Striker, near Baghdad.

“We honor all of the 499 finds and clears that got us to 500,” said Lt. Col. Patricia Anslow, 875th battalion commander, ” but we are especially proud of the 500th because it is a significant milestone in the battalion’s fight against IEDs.”

Over 400 Arkansas troops are deployed with the 875th, which is also made up of over 200 Soldiers from Vermont and Indiana Army National Guard units. The battalion mobilized in March, 2006, and is slated to return from Operation Iraqi Freedom in the fall.

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.


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.


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.

09 Mar 2007 01:00 pm


Back in the days of snow and more snow, our now-departed-but-always-missed-beloved-dog, Pattertwig didn’t like to go outside. We had to make a path for her to walk through in the snow before she would go out. Then she would hop around like a bunny rabbit. In the above photo, Sabby was taking advantage of Patter as he was inside the nice warm house and Patter was waiting to be let in. Sabby liked Patter a lot but he always has had a tendency to rub it in when he finds himself on top of any situation. I miss Pattertwig.

I think Sabby does too.

Go see many other cats making memories at the Modulator’s Friday Ark #129.

08 Mar 2007 05:42 pm


Is John Edwards a woman trapped in a man’s body?

Toni Morrison famously dubbed President Clinton America’s “first black president.” With that barrier broken, the comments of a prominent feminist are provoking debate about who may lay a similar claim to the title of America’s first woman president.

The candidate being touted as a torchbearer for women is not Senator Clinton, but one of her former colleagues, John Edwards. At a rally near the University of California, Berkeley campus this week, a veteran of the abortion-rights movement, Kate Michelman, asked and answered the question she gets most frequently about her decision to back the male former senator from North Carolina.

“Why John Edwards, given the historic nature of our extraordinary campaign for the presidency this year with Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and all the others?” Ms. Michelman asked as she warmed up the crowd for Mr. Edwards. “I’ve gotten to know a lot of political leaders over the years that I’ve been an advocate for women’s rights. I know the difference between those who advocate as a political position and those who understand the reality of women’s lives.”

Compared to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Edwards is short an ‘X’ chromosome, but listening to Ms. Michelman, that is easy to forget. “As a lawyer, as a senator, as a husband, as a father of two daughters, he understands the reality of women’s lives. He understands the centrality of women’s lives and experience to the health and well-being of society as a whole. … He understands that on an extremely personal level,” she said.

read on

Extremely personal? As in all those hormonal issues and PMS?

Might this explain why Edwards is skipping the Nevada Debate Co-Hosted by Fox News?

If Edwards does have a bad case of Dysmenorrhea, there’s a group he can join.

Lorie Byrd at Wizbang has a link to a photo of John Edwards in his former career.

08 Mar 2007 01:18 am


I painted this painting back when I was a teen and Bob had just left for West Point. I had already decided I was going to wait for him.

Life is a waiting game in so many ways. While I waited for Bob I finished college and grew up. Now we are waiting for our son to come home for his two weeks R&R. We aren’t sure when but it hopefully will happen before June.

I’ve been too busy this week to do much blogging, but am aware of the guilty verdict in the Scooter Libby trial. I wasn’t surprised that Scooter Libby was found guilty by a D.C. jury because after all, he is a Republican.

I did have a little hope, considering the length of the jury deliberations, that the jury would set Fitzgerald straight but after hearing from juror, Denis Collins and reading his many worded account (which had little to do with the actual charges) realize the fix was in from the start.

I am very disappointed that this good man, Scooter Libby, who was just doing his duty in the aftermath of September 11th was caught up in the nasty shadow war on the Bush administration.

Waged by hardcore leftists in the CIA, Justice Department, liberal media and other Democrat entities, this shadow war sought to slime the President by casting doubt on the justification for going to war in Iraq.

The War against the Bush administration began long before Joe Wilson went to Niger, but he played his deceptive role, the New York Times took up his cause and the rest is history. The media assault continues to this very moment as Lorie Byrd writes.

Why? Are these journalists too invested in the Wilson tale to give up on it, even in the face of compelling evidence that much of it was at best unfounded, and at worst a fantasy in Wilson’s mind? Many liberals still support Wilson because his story reinforces their opposition to the war and portrays the Bush administration as the evil conspiracy so many on the left insist they see.

Because Wilson’s version of events became conventional wisdom years ago, liberals have been able to ignore inconsistent and contrary revelations with no repercussions.

Scooter Libby is the first human casualty but he won’t be the last.

It’s really sad that everything Mr. Libby has worked for in his life is now stained with Fitzgerald’s folly. How heartbreaking it must be for his family. Now they must wait….for the eventual denial of a new trial, an appeal, and hopefully, a pardon.

Sissy Willis has much more.

Welcome Sisu readers!

05 Mar 2007 04:21 pm

Lorie Byrd speaks for me on the Ann Coulter issue. Even though Rush did his best to defend Ann on his radio show today, she needs to look inside herself and find her manners, if not her heart.

These aren’t genteel times but it seems to me that women on the right ought to object to the tawdry behavior of women and men and that includes their choice of words. Ann is better than that. I found her last book the best she has written so far but because of her brilliant writing, everything she says is listened to, objected to and criticized.

Some of the criticism has been unwarranted but this time Ann has brought it on herself. It’s true, many words have become so ridiculously politically incorrect that it’s tempting to utter them just for the purpose of watching the usual suspects have their hissy fits but there is a time and a place and a season for everything.

As all good mothers in history have pointed out to their wayward children, “If there is nothing good to say, say nothing at all.”

Go home Ann and sit alone in a room for a while. Count your blessings. Do some reading. Look at some artwork. Babysit a child.

Life is more than political commentary. It’s a life lived in such a way that those left behind are inspired and still cheering that brave individual who stood for everything right and good. Follow Ethel Barrymore’s motto. When Ethel was finished with a performance in her familiar curtain-call farewell she would say, “That’s all there is. There isn’t any more.”

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