Friday, November 22, 2013

I Truly am "Off My Rocker"

I pass through a gate on post on average 2 times a day except on Saturday.  I always appreciate the professionalism of the men who greet, scan and protect everyone who enters.  Yesterday, I was on my phone (no phone to ear just using my phone-sync to my car) talking to the Pet Brigade getting Huck and Finn set up for a grooming.  As I approached the gate, I told the girl on the other end of the phone where I was and informed her that I would be quiet for a moment.  I handed my card to the MP, and I noticed--as my groomer just continues to talk, talk, talk-- that he looked at me rather strangely and a little smile lifted the corners of his mouth.  He said, "Ma'am, I would love to accept this, but . . . ."  I looked up to see that my military ID had changed colors from a beige to a metallic blue, and I read the word VISA emblazoned on it.  LOL  There is something about being 59 years old that allows you to laugh and gives permission to the guard and, after I articulated to her what was happening, the groomer to laugh with you!  Bless both of their hearts, I made their day!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Who Makes Pie Crusts Anyway?

Even though I was asking myself the question "Who makes pie crusts?," I was quick to respond with a "Yes" to the invitation to learn to do so.  This bid to be a participant in the "class" was partly due to the fact that I have eaten the hosting Chaplain's wife's food on more than one occasion, and it has always been a delight.  Of course, she is gifted and has used that gift for a portion of her life as a caterer, owning a couple of  food businesses during those years.  I was fortune enough to meet her three years ago at Ft. Jackson, and she was then and still is now using this gift as a ministry on the base or post to which God sends her and her husband.  There was no way that I would miss this opportunity to learn to make pie crusts!

The invitation gave time and place as well as the ingredients to bring, in the event the attendees wanted to take a pie crust home.  Cool idea!  Immediately, I realized that my choice to pack lightly left me with no large mixing bowls and even had I been bringing everything from my kitchen at home, I would never have packed a rolling pin!  So, with that little confession, dear reader, you must realize that I am one of those women who go to the frozen section of the grocery store to get pie crusts.

What a class!  It was a huge amount of information and fun all rolled up in dough.  After having witnessed this process, I found my mind wandering to the two special people in my life who made their pies entirely from scratch--Mrs. Katie Welch (now in Heaven) and Mrs. JoAnn Vincent!  These two ladies rivaled each other in creating the very best coconut cream pies complete with homemade crusts that I have ever eaten in my life!  After long days at high school, I was so blessed to sit at the dining room table along with Mrs. Welch and her daughters Jennifer and Jane, my buddies and adopted sisters, and devour a healthy serving of coconut or chocolate pie as an afternoon snack with a glass of the best sweet tea ever!  Several years later in life, I would go to church dinners and make a run for a piece of coconut pie made by Mrs. JoAnn Vincent because it was common knowledge that if you waited until you had eaten your meal and then return to the dessert table for her pie, you would be sorely disappointed to find none left.  Oh my!  My mouth is salivating as I think of those pies!

I don't know if I will ever be a terrific maker of pie crusts, but this I do know:  there are some skills worth acquiring and keeping alive, and then there are some women who impact our lives in the best of ways, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have sampled some of both.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Lest We Forget" Day--a Gentle Reminder to the Human Race Collectively

Veteran's Day has always been pretty special to our family because both the Parks and the Swisher sides of our immediate family's heritage is steeped in the military.  My precious Uncle Bob served in World War II and my own dad served in the Korean Conflict.  Roy's father also served in the Korean Conflict and Roy, his sister Elsie, and brother Dennis all came in at the end of the Vietnam Era.  Each year we applaud our Veterans, enjoy the free or discounted food from our favorite restaurants, and take advantage of the tremendous Veteran's Day sales at this store or that.

Poppies Worn in Remembrance
This year, however,  Roy and I had the pleasure of spending our four day Veteran's weekend on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.  Most of our time was spent in Victoria--I will give you a "play by play" later.  All weekend, I saw little transparent plastic boxes filled with poppies and a slot for a monetary donation sitting on counters in most businesses around the Island.  Seeing the dedication of our Canadian neighbors to honoring their fallen and their past and present service men and women, made the meaning of this day be a little sharper to me personally.

"Lest We Forget" Wreath and Canadian Flag

Of course, every church that I have ever attended adds a special recognition of servicemen to the service on the Sunday prior to Veteran's Day on Monday.  Canada is not any different.  We were blessed to
be greeted warmly by many in attendance at the Central Baptist Church in Victoria.  I have never met friendlier people nor people who voiced more appreciation for the sacrifice of the veterans, both past and present, of Canada nor for the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus who died for our sins.  The service was so spiritually moving including the Praise and Worship team who led us in worship, the two-man team who made the announcements fun and not boring, the ceremonial recognition of the Royal Canadian military branches,  and the wonderful sermon of the minister.   Always refreshing to see how other churches function as to organization and program, it is equally interesting to view their celebrations!

We left this beautiful place sometimes referred to as "little London" about 4:00 Sunday afternoon knowing that we as a human race--me, as a member, in particular-- tend(s) to forget those who served in past wars unless it is a personal acquaintance, or we forget those who's lives have been "blown apart" by the ravages of our more current wars unless someone keeps the Wounded Warriors in our line of vision, and it is easy to ignore the problems of suicide, high rates of divorce and the scammers or human parasites that prey on our young military especially unless it raises our righteous indignation or unless "Soldier Care" becomes a personal mission.  So, I am so glad to be reminded at least one time per year, lest I forget that freedom does not come cheap!  Thanks to all of our Veterans who had the stamina to keep plodding on even when the struggles were too great to humanly bear or they died trying!  I promise not to forget!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Refreshing Experience at the Commissary

As a military wife, I visit the Commissary a couple of times a week as I am already on base doing other things four days out of five.  I had not lived close enough to frequent this mainstay of military life for 20+ years, so during the first full month that we were here, I needed an item or two on the first day of the month, and I went in the door and what I saw led me to leave fairly quickly out the other door.  There were people everywhere and no carts in sight!  No one had told me to not go to the commissary on the 1st!  I now know that retirees or some military families who live some miles away and very organized military wives shop one time per month.  It is easy to identify them as they have two or three carts in tow.  Of course, it goes without saying that many families shop on payday which would account for some of the "hundreds" in the commissary that day.  Unfortunately, in addition to it being the first of the month, that day also was the day before the government shut down.  So, I picked the wrong day to go inside on many counts! 

I digress. The reason for my post today has more to do with something wonderful that I have observed.  It never ceases to amaze me how many husbands are there with their small children and/or with the entire family going up and down the aisles actively involved in the shopping experience and, at the end, helping to put the groceries into the SUV or trunk of the family car!  This is refreshing compared to what I have viewed  in the past at the local Kroger or Walmart!  This practice appears to cut across lines of age and rank.  I salute the military husbands and dads that I see being team players on the job and in the family!