Anything is Possible!

With Love, Hope, and Perseverance


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A Hippie Pacifist who Respects the Flag

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is “flag,” to be used any way we want. I like the freedom of that any way we want part.

It still hurts to remember that on January 6, rioters tore down the American flag and threw it on the ground to replace it with one of their TRUMP flags. It hurts that rioters carrying American flags beat other people in their attempted coup of the US government. I don’t often write about such things, preferring to share good news in an attempt to bring balance to the force, as small as this attempt might be, like throwing a pebble in the ocean…. But some things we need to remember, even if they are painful. We need to not forget that this happened. We need to work for peace and also protect our democracy.

My father, being a Marine for 20 years, instilled in me a respect for the American flag. Even as a hippie and a pacifist, I maintained this respect. Never let a flag touch the ground. Fold it properly. If you have to retire it, the flag is to be burned in a ceremony. There are few man-made things that I have this kind of respect for.

When I was a child and we were driving on base when the flag was being lowered as signaled by a loud bugle, my dad would pull over, or everyone stopped in the road, and we all sat at attention. Even as an adult, just a couple of years ago, when David and I were walking along the riverfront and the Coast Guard ship sounded a bugle to lower the flag, it was not unusual for us to stop and stand silently as the flag was lowered. David used to have a flag selling business, plus his dad was in the military too, so he gets that stuff. It’s imbedded in us.

Reading my dad’s letters from Vietnam has gotten me fascinated by studying the Vietnam war. I can honor and appreciate our soldiers even if I disagree with war.

This just goes to show that a hippie pacifist can be patriotic. One of my former co-workers was surprised to learn that I was a democrat. She said, “but you’re so patriotic!” I was surprised to learn she was not a democrat, because she’s such a nature lover. Just goes to show we don’t all fit into neat little boxes. In fact, we have a lot more in common, and more diversity within our groups, than the news media or social media might have us think.

This reminds me of something I have in my drafts….. I didn’t plan this, but it fits here.

“For all of you who aren’t sure, it is possible to be gay and Christian.
It’s also possible to believe in God and science.
It is possible to be pro-choice and anti-abortion.
It is equally possible to be a feminist and love and respect men.
It’s possible to have privilege and be discriminated against, to be poor and have a rich life, to not have a job and still have money.
It is possible to believe in sensible gun control legislation and still believe in one’s right to defend one’s self, family, and property.
It’s possible to be anti-war and pro-military.
It is possible to love thy neighbor and despise his actions.
It is possible to advocate Black Lives Matter and still be pro police.
It is possible to not have an education and be brilliant.
It is possible to be Muslim and also suffer at the hands of terrorists.
It is possible to be a non-American fighting for the American dream.
It is possible to be different and the same.
It is possible to be spiritual and not follow a religion.
We are all walking contradictions of what “normal” looks like.
Let humanity and love win.”

(I found this on Facebook showing  it is possible to find something good on Facebook.)

All or nothing thinking divides us. The world is much more complex than black or white, or even gray. There are many more colors and color combinations. Even more than red, white, and blue. When we recognize, respect, and honor our diversity, the world will become more balanced and more beautiful.

Here’s my Unity Bird in alcohol ink on tile

Stream of Consciousness Saturday is brought to us by our host, Linda G. Hill. For more streams, rules, etc, visit: The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Feb. 6, 2021 | (lindaghill.com)


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Lessons in Perseverance From My Dad

Today’s Just Jot Janury prompt is, “limp.”

My dad walked with a limp. It started Korea when he got shot in the leg. They put a plastic artery in his leg – very innovative for the early 1950s. Then they shipped him around to major military hospitals for doctors to view the leg work.

Once his leg healed, he hardly noticed the old injury. He continued his military career, including a tour in Vietnam, until 1969. The leg didn’t slow him down until he got older. By the time he was 70, he walked with a cane most of the time, but he kept walking.

In 1993 he was in a major car accident which broke two vertebrae in his back and put him in the hospital for several weeks, then a wheelchair for a few months. He also wore a Frankenstein looking “halo.” It looked like this:

They had a ramp built to the back door which he used while he was in the wheelchair, but a year later, he rarely used the ramp.

Both of his legs were worn out by the time he was 80. The plastic artery prevented him from getting a knee replacement. His legs hurt at night, and he heard keeping a bar of ivory soap between his sheets might help. He said it seemed to. He had a walker, but preferred to use the cane. Climbing the three front steps to the front door was like climbing a mountain, but he only used the back ramp if he had groceries. Then he’d pull the groceries up in the big laundry basket on wheels they probably got a yard sale. But most of the time, he climbed the front steps, slowly to focus on balance, one step at a time.

Now, my dad is in heaven with mom. He doesn’t walk with a limp. He flies!

This is Dad in “cardiac rehab.”
He kept going long after his quadruple bypass.
He enjoyed the comraderie. It was like a club.

In case you didn’t know, my dad inspired the title of my blog,

“Anything is possible.”

For more about Just Jot January, visit Linda Hill at:

#JusJoJan prompt the 22nd – “Limp” | (lindaghill.com)


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Feelings From My Eleven Year Old Self

Writing my family history from my parents’ perspective is emotionally hard right now. The idea that it could some day become a novel is distant. I’m writing about the time when my dad was in Vietnam and my mom was trying to cope with her anxiety and depression and what do to with the family dog. That is the gigantic issue for me. Hoppy.

Hoppy 1967

I was 11 years old. Hoppy, a Newfoundland/Shepherd mix was my confidant. We had moved from Philadelphia to Michigan to New York staying with other families while Dad was in Vietnam. That summer we would stay in Quantico until dad finally got stationed at Camp Lejeune again.

Hoppy had been with us through each move. But something happened to him that spring in New York. I don’t know the truth. My mom made up as story about a sick little girl who needed him more than I did. I believed it. I suppose it could be true. Now, at the age of 65, I wade through my dad’s letters from Vietnam with fear as I approach the possibility of more clues. Any day now, I could read a letter that tells me more about what happened to Hoppy. My parents loved each other very much. It was a terribly hard time for them. I’m trying to look at the big picture and have compassion for all. I wrote this note to myself in my work in progress:

Note to self: Step back and look at the big picture with compassion for all. Allow your feelings. The truth is you don’t know what happened You might was well imagine something good.

So I tried to imagine Hoppy being adopted by a loving family. Then the grief broke through from that 11 year old girl who was me.

I LOVED HIM.

The sobs came and I prayed for guidance, for comfort. All I can do right now is reach back across the 54 years to that eleven year old girl whose body was changing in crazy ways, whose father was in Vietnam, whose mother was on the verge of another nervous breakdown, the girl whose dog was gone – and wrap my arms around her and hold her and tell her she is going to get through this.

In 1967, that eleven year old girl learned to shut down her feelings. She focused on school work and escaped into Star Trek. But she still had that pain and confusion buried all those years ago trying to accept the story her mother told her about her dog.

I guess that’s enough writing for today.

Here’s a family photo from happier times. Probably right after Dad got back from Vietnam since he’s pretty thin.

I’m the big girl on the right wearing hushpuppies.

I wrote this before checking the prompt for Just Jot January which is “button.” I guess we never know when we’re going to bump into a button that takes us back to our childhood, for better or worse, offering an opportunity for healing.

Linda’s Just Jot January story looks interesting. Click the following link for details:

#JusJoJan prompt the 15th – “Button” | (lindaghill.com)


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Christmas Letters from Vietnam

Today is my parents’ anniversary. They were married on December 21, 1954. Now, they are together again in heaven. In memory of my parents, I’m sharing two of the many letters my dad wrote from Vietnam. They are slightly edited to remove items about other people.

Dec. 25, 1966  From the Republic of Vietnam

My Dearest Wife,

You have made my Christmas much better. I received ten letters from you and a Christmas card. I was feeling real blue til mail call and you came through like always. I also received a card from (his niece). We will get paid on the 6th of Jan. and I’ll send you a check for $250. This should help you some. We get paid once a month and from now on, I’ll be able to send you a check. I went to church twice today, first to Roman Catholic and then to protestant. I also received communion. I prayed each time as I do at night for God to give you strength, health, and happiness. I also thanked God for my wonderful wife and family. I love you with all my heart and will forever. We had turkey, corn, powdered mash potatoes, nuts, and candy today for dinner, but it tasted rotten. They did try however, and I guess I should be thankful for that.

We’ve had rain again for three days, but it stopped at 1:00 pm. The mud is about six inches deep and it’s getting cloudy again. It’s 8:00 pm (2000) and I go on watch at 10:00 to midnight. ….. Please try not to worry too much about me. I won’t be foolish, I love you too much. Please tell our wonderful children I love them and give everyone my best. Remember, I love only you and our family and live for you. May God Bless you.

All my Love, Forever Your Husband, Jim.

December 27, 1966 from Republic of Vietnam

Darling Betty Ann,

It rained all Christmas night and yesterday too. It’s been raining all day today and hard. I hope I don’t have to go any place. It’s now 2pm. We were real busy yesterday and last night so I didn’t have time to write. So for today, it hasn’t been too bad….There sure are a lot of rumors going around but nothing certain. One is that we are supposed to go back to Okinawa soon, but like I say, it’s not fact. A lot of people start rumors just in hopes they will come true. I am going to enclose envelopes  that you may be able to use again as the stamp was not cancelled.

I sure do miss you honey. We have a radio in my bunker and all I ever hear is Christmas carols. I just sit and think about you and the children. I love you my darling and always will. I know things seem unbearable, but it will all come out in the end. As long as we have our love, we can endure anything this world has to offer.  I just want you honey and no one else will do. You’ll always be my only love….. I  guess I am not worth much to you right now, but I’ll do all I can to make it up to you when I get home. Lover, I want to hold you again in my arms so bad that I could cry just to dream about you. You are the greatest and most wonderful woman God ever created, and I love you, oh how I love you, forever and ever.  Please give my best to all and tell our wonderful children I love them. May God bless you all.

All my Love, Forever Your Husband, Jim.

My favorite photo of my mom and dad – 1960 Newfoundland Canada. That’s me on the left.
Dad in Vietnam
Post retirement photo of Mom and Dad on the road with Frannie


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SoCS: Family Options, Letters from Vietnam, and a Thanksgiving Day Hike

Our Friday prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “opt.” Use it as a word or find a word with “opt” in it and base your post on that. Have fun!

Have fun, because misery is optional.

We opted out of family Thanksgiving with extended family. It was me and David and Mama Cat who slept through dinner. (Mama Cat slept, not David and me.) We made an almost vegan dinner with stuffed acorn squash and a roasted cauliflower. David made an apple pie. There was a little butter somewhere which was not vegan and humane certified hard boiled eggs in the stuffing.

But that is not what I was going to write about. I was going to say that we always have options. But some people have fewer or more options than others. I was going to write about mask wearing options and how it annoys me when people wear a mask below their nose, but maybe they have a chronic respiratory illness….. I don’t know.

I’ve been reading my dad’s letters from Vietnam for NaNoWriMo research which has slowed considerably to a trickle, but has not stopped. And will not stop for more than a day, because I’m rolling slowly along. Gathering no moss so far.

My dad had options in Vietnam, but not many. Most were about attitude and whether to pray. Mom was having nervous breakdowns while he was there. It was an awful year, and we moved a lot that year. My dad did have the (illegal) option of deserting, or “bugging out.” But that option was so distasteful, so full of way worse consequences of shame and dishonor, that it probably felt he had no choice. He chose to make a commitment to the Marine Corps and to honor that commitment, to do his job well. But it was so hard. He had also promised my mom he would come home to her and us kids. He had orders to return fire, not knowing who might be killed. He was the only enlisted Marine (a Gunny, not an officer) in charge of a platoon in his company. He was a natural leader who would be haunted by nightmares for the rest of his life by what happened in Vietnam. I’m so proud of him and my mom who were half a world apart on Thanksgiving and Christmas when Dad was in Vietnam. They did a lot of good service work together after Dad retired.

My dad in Vietnam (1967) He lost about 40 pounds there.

I feel like I’ve spent more time lately with my deceased parents, through Dad’s letters, than other family members living outside of my household. Maybe for now, that’s okay. For now.

What happened to having fun? Fun is different now than it was when I was a kid, or a teenager, or in my twenties or thirties. Fun can be relaxing and watching a movie. Or taking a hike on Thanksgiving Day. Like this one at our neighborhood creek:

A pair of ducks
Graffiti on a drainage pipe

A pair of old hikers

For more Streams of Consciousness, rules, and maybe even some options, visit:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS Nov. 28/2020 | (lindaghill.com)


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SoCS: The Lord of the Rings and Letters from Vietnam

Saruman believes it is only great power that can hold evil in check,

but that is not what I have found. I found it is the small everyday

deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay…

small acts of kindness and love.”

Gandalf in The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien

Today’s prompt is the word, “ring,” to be used in any form and to have fun with.

Fun comes in many forms. One way I have fun is to watch The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Hobbit movies. Being a huge fan, I can watch these movies over and over again, especially the parts with the elves.

LOTR is about heroism, good winning over evil, sacrifice, fellowship, loyalty, natural magic, and more set in a place that allows me to escape the things I want to escape from that I will not mention. But the qualities and messages are still relevant in reality.

There’s a scene toward the end of the trilogy when Sam and Frodo are exhausted and don’t know if they will survive. They reminisce about their sweet home, The Shire. Sam imagines the goldilocks girl, barmaid he would like to marry. The reminiscing starts at 1 minute. Be sure to watch til the end when the Eagles come!

Coincidentally, but not really, I’ve been reading about all these things in my dad’s letters from Vietnam since Veterans Day.

I’m reading them for research for the novel I’m writing for NaNoWriMo. Reading the letters is slowing me down, but it needs to be done this way. So what if I don’t write 50,000 words by Nov. 30? It will be okay.

My dad’s letters show how much he adored my mother. He writes of dreaming of her constantly while asleep and while awake in Vietnam. It almost seems like he puts her on a pedestal. The dreams and images of her keep him going, keep him sane, and give him hope to stay alive to come home to her.

I watched a video about another guy talking about doing this in Vietnam, dreaming about his girlfriend kept him going, sane, alive. Let see if I can find it…. The speaker, Dr. Earhart, was a high school teacher after he got back. Toward the end of the video, at around 13 minutes, he talks about the girlfriend that had sent him a “Dear John” letter. The whole video is eye opening.

My dad’s letters mention that a lot of guys got “Dear John,” letters. Maybe that’s why he expressed so much love for my mom in his letters and always signed them,

All My Love,

Your Husband Forever,

Jim

When things are going badly, when we don’t know what’s going to happen, even when it seems like we might not make it, dreaming of a better future, imagining holding our loved ones in our arms, being with family in our homeland, these are legitimate coping skills. Valuable survival skills. And so we keep on doing those small acts of kindness and love to keep the darkness at bay whenever and wherever we might be.

For more Streams of Consciousness, rules, and such, please visit our host, Linda Hill at:


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SoCS: The Road to Fruition is Lined with Caladiums

Our Stream of consciousness prompt for today is: “-tion.” Find a word that ends with “tion.” Bonus points if you start your post with it. Have fun!

Fruition takes time. Fruition is one of the words I thought of when I read the prompt. There was also communication, action, imagination….. I recently did a one-liner on imagination. Creation is a word close to my heart. But fruition keeps tugging at me.

When we want something badly, we don’t want it to take a lot of time. But fruition is about growing into, becoming, developing. There’s a readiness that needs to happen. Like in my memoir. 39 years is a long time, but a lot happened in the meantime. Life flows up and down, around and under, twisting on The Long and Winding Road which is one of my favorite songs.

My garden veggies are not coming to fruition as I’d hoped. David says it’s because there isn’t enough sunlight on account of all the trees. We cut some back, but maybe we’ll have to cut more in the winter. Not cutting any big ones mind you. Mostly we’ll cut privet. The basil has done well and the ginger seems to be growing nicely. The zucchini plants have plenty of leaves and beautiful flowers, but no zucchini. Maybe we’ll try spinach.

The caladiums have done great.

Behind the elephant ears are basil and ginger on the left, and maybe squash leaves coming through the fence. Maybe we let the squash vines get too long. I don’t know.

Prayers come to fruition over time, but not always how we expect. A few nights ago I stood in my backyard in the dark praying hard about a family issue regarding one of my adult children. The angels heard me. God heard me. Jesus heard me. I felt a bit of relief that comes when you can’t deal with it any more and have to trust a Power greater than yourself. Things have improved, and I am reminded that sometimes things have to get messed up before they can get better.

The long and winding road continues to twist and turn, and I will enjoy the caladiums. And the basil.

May all your best dreams, hopes and prayers come to the best possible fruition.

One more thing. US Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87. She was a strong pioneer for equality and justice. She lived a life that came to abundant fruition.

For more streams of consciousness, and the rules, visit our host, Linda Hill at:


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Good News Tuesday May 19, 2020: Gifts for Health Care Workers, Car-Free Roads, Bella’s Back Home, and Sunshine for Grandma

Sunflower w address

Seeking Balance One Tuesday at a Time

Free Gifts for Health Care Workers

Free vacations, crocs, and free rides are some of the gifts companies are donating to health care workers.  For example, JetBlue is giving away 100K pairs of roundtrip airline tickets to healthcare heroes. You can read more about the gifts here. 

Cities Around the World Make More Roads Car-Free

Bogota, Budapest, Paris, Milan and Seattle are among the cities designating more car-free roads and pathways for biking and walking and making many of these initiatives permanent. Read more about these “eco-silver linings” at the Good News Network .

Bella’s Back Home

Australian Shepherd Bella woke her family up the night of the tornado, but they couldn’t get her to come into the bathtub with them for safety. Maybe she was hiding under the bed. After the tornado, Bella was nowhere to be found. After 50 days, a church friend and dog rescuer spotted her in an alley and put out some really good food which led to the family reunion. Watch this video for details about Bella.

You Are My Sunshine

For mother’s day, a family sang “You Are My Sunshine” to their 87-year-old grandmother from outside her assisted living apartment. Other residents came out and joined in from their balconies.

Got good news?

Please share in the comments!

*Update: Please see the link in Maggie’s comment below about portable sinks for people experiencing homelessness.


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Five Spirit Dogs

I started this poem many months ago after Doodle crossed over and updated it last week for Mary Moo. The waves of grief come further apart now. I no longer check Mary’s room every day. David and I reminisce about the pack, their antics, and individual peculiarities. Fond memories are starting to match the sadness. Maybe some day fond memories will prevail.

back cover painting (4)

Mary Moo, Jesse, Doodle, Beep, and Oreo.  (Back cover painting for Trust the Timing.)

 

Must love dogs, she said.

Be careful what you wish for.

My soul mate’s three joined my two

For a crazy blended family.

The five pack struggled to mesh.

Who was in charge?

The humans of course!

So we thought.

 

Little Mary Moo had been the boss.

Doodle, food-obsessed coon hound,

Taught her otherwise.

Possessive Beep and Neurotic Oreo were buds.

Golden Boy Jesse shared guard duty.

The five pack adapted.

Dog love flourished,

With episodic bedlam.

 

My golden boy was the first to leave.

He used to love to run on the beach,

But his old legs wouldn’t work anymore.

Then there were four.

 

Quiet Oreo left us next.

His lovable heart gave out.

No more thunder storms to terrify.

Then there were three.

 

Beep missed Oreo,

But she still had a pack to herd

Until she could walk no more.

Then there were two.

 

We thought Doodle would be last,

Being so loud and full of life.

I bet she took that rainbow bridge in a single bound.

And then there was one.

 

Mary Moo was once a feisty girl.

Almost 18, deaf and blind,

She kept looking for something she lost.

Maybe that squirrel she caught long ago.

 

Our five spirit dogs

Now live on the other side

of the rainbow bridge,

Not waiting idly.

 

Jesse swims in mountain lakes.

Oreo doesn’t have to be scared anymore.

He’s running with his friend, Beep.

Doodle is friends with everyone.

Mary Moo chases squirrels like lightening.

 

Jesse swimming (2)

Jesse

oreo (2)

Oreo

 

Beep

Beep

Doodle w foot on head

Doodle

 

Mary Moo at the Boone Dog park (2)

Mary Moo

 

Rainbow Bridge

 


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Good News Tuesday, 3/10/20: A Hospital’s Compassion, Meals for First Responders, Earth Friendly Alternatives, and Our Weekend In the Mountains

Sunflower w address

Seeking Balance One Tuesday at a Time

 

Tennessee Hospital Will Not Charge Tornado Victims

Cookeville Regional Medical Center will not be charging patients for medical care resulting from last week’s deadly tornados. Insurance companies will be billed, but not the patients.  “If they don’t have insurance, they will not be charged.”

Here’s more of the story from ABC News. 

Meals for Event Spectators Sent to Nashville First Responders

Meals prepared for a bodybuilding show in Ohio where donated to first responders in Nashville. Meals had been prepared for 200,000 people, but the show was prohibited from allowing general public spectators in order to contain the coronavirus, so they decided send the food to Nashville in refrigerator trucks. Here are the details. 

 

Palm Oil Alternative

Bill Gates has invested in a company producing an alternative to palm oil to help reduce deforestation. C16 Biosciences uses a fermentation process to make the product. Here’s more on the palm oil alternative. 

Sustainable Oats

“Research has shown that oats crops are far more sustainable than the production of coconut, almond, or rice milk.”  GNN

Hälsa Foods, a Swedish company based in Florida, uses oats as a dairy substitute for their organic yogurt. They’re offering help to small, struggling dairy farmers who want to convert their pastures to oat crops.   Read more from the Good News Network.  

Our Mountain Weekend

In personal good news, we spent the weekend in the mountains and took  care of my granddaughter and grand dog for an overnight. We also got to spend time with my son and daughter-in-law, and we even got to see snow! David loved walking grand dog  “Rumpke” whose name was inspired by the band, Rumpke Mountain Boys.

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Plus, I got to swim at the Y, and my granddaughter learned to float on her back, swam under the pool rope, and did a cannonball!

What’s YOUR good news?

Please share in the comments!