Wednesday, October 24, 2007

WWII Hero: My Hero

He was a member of the US Army Air Force and while on a bombing mission, his plane was shot down. He parachuted and landed somewhere in Germany, was captured and spent the rest of the conflict as a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B, Austria.

When the war was over, he returned home with the memories and a pile of medals. He lived life quietly as an honorable man. He spent the last few years of his life in a nursing home, disabled with Parkinson's disease. Still his mission was not over because he had to "take care" of his wife Erma. She passed away in July; he passed away this morning. His mission was finally completed.

His medals identified him as a US hero. His life, all of it, marked him as my hero. Off you go into the wild blue yonder, Uncle Ralph. Godspeed.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

One Way to Domestic Sanity

Years ago I discovered that I could cut time and effort by having the meat dish done ahead of time. I buy meats in bulk and then cook them all at once. Today I'm doing meatloaf, browned hamburg, parboiled Italian sausage, and oven-made "fried" chicken. I also have to get some pork chops to prepare.

Why browned hamburg? It is all ready to add to sauces, to use in dishes like Spanish rice, chili, or stuffed peppers. The parboiled sausages can be grilled or broiled very quickly. Also parboiling gets rid of a lot of the fat and in my opinion, enhances the flavor. The chicken, pork chops, and meat loaf can be popped in the microwave and be ready in less than five minutes.

I package the meats in meal sizes and store them in the freezer. At meal time all I have to do is make a couple of side dishes, nuke the meat, and call my husband to the table. The pressure of getting meals disappears and the insanity of figuring out a menu goes with it. I have the comfort of knowing all that meat is waiting in the freezer. It works for me.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Hills of Home

Yesterday I took a ride into my past. When growing up, my father worked for an oil company (drilling and pumping). The company owned three houses in a wilderness area and housed the families of the workers in them. When they closed the oil operation there, they burned the houses so they would not have to pay taxes on them. However, they could not destroy the magnificent setting.

The setting, as you can see, is a marshy area surrounded by forested hills. As children, we would sometimes find arrowheads left by Indian cultures long before we arrived on the scene. I used to imagine the Indian children who had played there before we did and wondered what their life was like.

When I explored yesterday, I realized that there were few traces of our lives there. We had passed the way the Indians had, silently, leaving the beautiful environment intact. May it always be so.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Forgiveness: My Thoughts

The anniversary of the tragedy in Pennsylvania and the discussions of the ability of the Amish to forgive has me thinking about forgiveness. The Bible tells us to forgive one another as we were forgiven by God through Jesus. Unfortunately, in my view, the ability to forgive was not an inherent gift from the Almighty. In fact, lack of forgiveness may be the greatest human flaw.
Think how differently human history would read if we could forgive one another: wars unfought, feuds forgotten, relationships unbroken. Iraq would be one united peaceful country. Israel and Palestine would quietly share their rich history. Divorce rates would drop. And on, and on, and on.
I think forgiveness must start with each individual. Ah ha! There's the rub. When I look at myself, I know I do not forgive. I can pay lip service to forgiving but deep in my being, I still harbor feelings of resentment and hurt. For me to truly forgive, I would also have to forget. And that part of my memory has not faded yet. I wish it would. Or that the Amish would share their secret with me.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Unmeasurable Losses

This rural area is reeling from the loss of four young people over the weekend, including three high school students and a recent graduate of the Jasper-Troupsburg School District. The photo above was taken by Lynn Brennan of The Evening Tribune and printed in today's issue. I can relate to the event because when I was in high school, there were close bonds between J-T and my school.

The four were lost as the result of a one car accident. The search for them started Saturday when they did not return from a party Friday night. The site of the accident was not discovered until late Monday afternoon despite intense searching by several hundred volunteers. The effort was greatly aided by teenagers who were determined not to give up until their friends were found.

I cannot imagine the pain their families and friends are suffering now and hope that they gain some measure of relief from the expressions of genuine caring from other people in this area, symbolized in the photo above.