Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Memorial Day

This photo was taken yesterday at the National Cemetery, which was also the site of the Confederate Prison during the Civil War. My father is buried here, and two great uncles, and several nurses I'd worked alongside during my long career.

But when the photo was taken, I was thinking about a particular co-worker of mine who is buried on the second row. She was a navy nurse during the Vietnam War, and I've been remembering something she told me about that time.

She was assigned to a hospital in New York -- New York City, I think. My memory is hazy as to the name of the hospital and the exact locale. I do recall her saying that because of the location, the hospital often had "celebrity visitors" whose mission it was to chit-chat with the patients and raise morale. They came to the hospital, but not to the ward where she was working. Her patients were young men who had been severely disfigured by burns and explosions and high-powered weapons. Their wounds were considered too shocking, too hideous and upsetting for that kind of public relations visit.

But there were two, she said, who came anyway. Two. In all the time she was assigned there. And their visits meant more to those young men than they would ever know.

Who were they?

Patty Duke and Grace Kelly.

One navy nurse never forgot what a kind and powerful and far-reaching thing they did -- and neither will her old co-worker.

That's it for this time...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This and That

It doesn't take much to make me happy. Here's something that does:

Cherries. And the good news is that the sweet cherry crop at the Levering Orchard just across the Virginia border is estimated to be ready May 30. If you love cherries like I do and you live in the vicinity, check out their website for the particulars -- like calling before you make the trip and bringing boxes and/or bags. We've been buying cherries there for years and they are excellent.

Other things:

-Thanks to Aoife, who posted on this blog a few days ago, I've found some better undershirts for the grandson in the brace. Jockey brand, that would be. It took some doing to find them here. They were finally located at a Belk's department store. They didn't have the sleeveless ones, but I have a pair of pinking shears, and I'm not afraid to use them.

-The "blackberry winter" has had a resurgence. Yesterday was quite comfortable; today it's windy and rainy and there may be frosts in the mountains tonight (hopefully not where the cherries are.)

-The heirloom irises (Mamaw Rose's irises) have peaked and are on the wane. The bluebirds have disappeared. I think the dh running the wood chipper for three days straight twenty feet away could be the reason. For the disappeared bluebirds, not the irises.

-My mom has been a little under the weather with a cold/allergy kind of thing. She was feeling better yesterday, though.

-Our World Traveler is planning to travel again soon, returning to the same country he was in for six months or so last year and one he has truly come to love. It wouldn't surprise me if he chose to live there after he graduates. In any event, you are all invited to help me (and his mom and our mom) to worry until he gets back. (What can I say? We worry if we don't have something to worry about -- or so we are told.)

-I spent a good portion of yesterday at a soccer game and then working on secret birthday plans with the granddaughter. Her mom's birthday is the 22nd, and she really, really wanted to find the birthday card and something special to wrap up. The card took some doing. I read the sentiments in every card the store had to her. She wasn't the least bit interested in the "kid" versions. She picked a really grown up, "Happy Birthday, Mother" one, with gilding and roses and a fountain pen on the front. It apparently said just what she wanted to say. And we went to the T-shirt outlet store (where I am now well-known because of the undershirt-for-the-brace quest). They have first quality T-shirts, nightshirts, etc., and a large selection of decals you can purchase and have put on the knitwear of your choice. We ended up with kittens and sunflowers on a lime green V-neck. Mommy is going to love it, and she's going to be very easy to spot in a crowd.

That's it for this time...

Monday, May 11, 2009

Blackberry Winter

No, no, not the book.

The real "blackberry winter."

It has arrived. I know this because a) it's 50 degrees and raining, and b) the blackberries are blooming. It's a raw day, so I made chicken and rice soup for lunch (with peanut butter crackers and sliced apples), one of my favorite chilly, rainy day remedies. I have eaten said remedy, and now I feel better. More or less.

So let us update:

The grandson is now in a chest brace. He will eventually be wearing it constantly, except at night when he's sleeping. Right now he's working on building up his endurance. I think wearing it to school has been pretty rough, not esthetically -- you really can't see it under his shirt -- but pain-wise. The thing hurts and rubs blisters.

I'm going on another quest later today to try to find a proper undershirt for brace-wearing. The problem is that they have to fit tightly, but smaller sizes just seem to be shorter and not significantly less wide -- which could be remedied if I or somebody in my orbit had a sewing machine. Anyway, we have run into a logistics problem, but we are working on it.

The family men took all of us mothers out to lunch yesterday at the Classic in Denton (huge buffet of Southern "country cooking"). It was great. I like the Classic a lot. Not just the food, but the thirty-five mile drive to get there, especially the "back way" which is all secondary roads through rolling farmland, over the Yadkin River, and through a valley in the ancient Uwharrie Mountains. The other, longer way isn't bad, either. Down US 52 through Misenheimer and literally through the Pfeiffer College campus (I wanted to go to school there SO bad), then onto Hwy 49 to the Denton exit. That way takes you over the Pee Dee River -- which is the same river as the Yadkin actually, only broader and much less muddy. Denton itself is a quaint little town with a number of antique shops. There's an interesting bed in the window of one of them, tall brass canopy with what looks like some kind of mother-of-pearl designs in the headboard. It's very imposing. It would be a job to keep polished, but it certainly makes a statement.

My mom is doing nicely with her replacement vehicle. I think she misses the Mustang's "bad girl" persona -- my son's friends were all alarmed to see her driving "something else." She doesn't miss the 5-speed stick shift, though. Neither do her knees.

So. That's it for now. Till next time...

Friday, May 1, 2009

Flora and Fauna on the Back Forty

Well, actually, it's the Back "Less-Than-One." Still, small or not, there is usually something nature-y going on.

Last Saturday I coerced the grandson into sitting on the patio with me for a time and seeing what he could see, not easy with an almost fourteen-year-old. Handing him a pair of binoculars helped.

It bothers me that he and a lot of kids his age have never bonded with nature. They're too busy, for one thing, and when they're not, they don't go outside all that much. Too many bugs, not enough air conditioning, too far away from the Wii. (I know, I know. I sound like Andy Rooney.)

Here are some of the things I made him look at:

The peach iris. One of my favorites. Every time I see one of them I want peach ice cream.

And the white iris -- with petals that look as if they'd been edged in a blanket stitch with purple thread:

And a pair of Eastern Bluebirds at their bluebird box. One is on the roof. The other is about to go inside.

And the lonesome dove. He or she has lost his or her mate. It comes often to the bird feeder and birdbath. Always alone. And it sings a lot -- that mournful, mournful call that is never answered.

And the rabbit. It comes out to eat the clover. It lives in a pile of privet hedge limbs -- the dh trimmed the hedge and then some. At present I'm lobbying for him to spare the debris until the rabbit is through with them.

There were also squirrels (many, MANY squirrels), a red-headed woodpecker, a thrush or two, robins, blue jays, sparrows, titmouse (mouses? mice?), mockingbirds, a finch, cardinals, and assorted butterflies.

The grandson's verdict after I made him suffer through all this? He thought for a moment -- while the wind chimes tinkled softly in the late afternoon breeze.

"It's...peaceful," he said.

Yes. It is.