Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Come with me All Hallow’s night
We’ll frighten everyone in sight
Such pranks for once, are justified
And fun and frolic amplified

-From a 19th Century Halloween postcard

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Losing Wendy

This is my post for Mama Kat’s weekly writing assignment.  I chose the prompt about a unique classmate.
The year I was in the 1st grade my friend Wendy died.  She fell from the top of some “monkey bars” and her injuries were so severe that she never recovered, and died a few days later.  What makes this post a little hard to write-is that the memories I have of that tragic event are the memories seen through the eyes of my 6 year old self.
When I first heard that Wendy had gotten hurt, I remember thinking that she would be back at school sooner or later.  I  didn’t even consider any other possibility.  I was visiting my grandmother when I heard the news.  Someone simply remarked, “I heard the Forbes girl died.”   I was stunned.
I don’t think it was the losing of a friend that was so hard.  It is just that when you are 6, there is a certain order to the way your  life is.  Wendy’s death changed that for me—showed me that I couldn’t be sure of anything. 
Even now, I can conjure up some some of my impressions at that time, but they are vague, and I can’t put them into words.  I don’t remember that anyone talked to us about Wendy.  There wasn’t any sort of grief counseling.  I think everyone thought that it was best to just not talk about it.
I still think of Wendy once in a while.  I wonder the usual things, like what she would have done with her life if she’d had the chance to grow up.  And whenever I see some of those same monkey bars-I am 6, and haunted, again.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Cone

I bet you’ve seen them on other people’s dogs.  I have.  And I always had to laugh to myself that it would be so humiliating to have one’s dog run around looking like a satellite dish, for all the world to see.  Well I’m not laughing now.  Poor Kona.  She has been through a lot this week-and having to wear “the cone of shame” has made her suffering complete.
Luckily for her, she didn’t know what was in store for her last Wednesday-when she went to the vet to get “fixed.”  What an ironic term, for she was more broken when she came home.  I had been dreading this event from the first day we got her.  Last week, I was a nervous wreck anticipating the event, and to make matters worse, Willow had been desperately ill and had needed to go to the vet herself.  With that crisis past, I could focus all my anxiety on Kona-and the fate awaiting her.
Everything went well on Wednesday, and she came through her surgery with flying colors-but she immediately started to chew on her poor tummy-so the cone was put on.   At first she couldn’t raise her head, and looked like some strange cross between dog and funnel-the cone pressed to the floor as though she was listening for seismic activity.  And doorways gave her trouble too-she would try to navigate through them either a little too far to the left or right and crash into them.  Willow, who is one of those “still waters run deep” types quickly learned to stay close like a shark-because when Kona would try to eat a biscuit, or play with her rawhide bone--and  invariably let go of it--the cone would act as a sort of conveyor slide delivering the treat right into Willow’s waiting jaws.
Hopefully Kona won’t have to wear the cone for  much longer, but in the event that it’s still on when Halloween rolls around, I’ve been trying to come up with some clever Halloween costume ideas.  If you have any suggestions-please let me know. (And for all of you dear ones to whom I owe emails, convos, phone calls…I’ll start catching up soon!)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Looking Back

libby flag

In my last post I mentioned how much I love paging through my collection of vintage yearbooks. I have several-from both college and high school. This year, one yearbook in particular is especially interesting-a copy of “The Edelian” from Edward Drummond Libbey High School in Toledo Ohio.

My own daughter just started high school, and I can’t help but ponder the differences between high school now, and then-1943-the year of the Edelian.

Bob Brown

Bob Brown was the original owner of my yearbook. His name is printed in block letters on the front cover. That year, like the year before, and the year that was to come-the world would be at war. In addition to the usual concerns of high school students-good grades, dances, football games-students that year worried and wondered about classmates and teachers who had left school to join the armed forces. Their after school activities included not only homework, clubs, and athletic practice, but also pursuits that helped the war effort. (The girls below sew stars onto a flag-blue for those in the service, and gold for those who have given their lives to their country. This picture gets to me every time I look at it.)

libbey stars

I would also guess that in private thoughts the shadow of the war hung over almost every man and boy at Libbey High. When to join up--what it would be like to go off to fight. (Some of those boys look so young! Well, I guess they WERE young!)

soldiers and sailors

This is where the story of Bob Brown has a twist. The previous summer he had broken his arm when he crashed on his bicycle. I wonder, did Bob Brown consider this to be a lucky break, or a heart break?

Edelian two

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The Real Deal

I have this jacket. It’s supposed to look like an army field jacket-olive drab, with a serial number on the left side. As I said-it’s supposed to look real-but it’s not. It’s just some designer’s idea of a field jacket. I bought it at a thrift store because it was cheap and I thought it was kind of cool too.

Today while I was at the post office a grizzled older Vietnam era clerk was at the desk and he spotted my jacket. “Hey” he says, “How’d you get a serial number on your field jacket?” “Oh this isn’t a real field jacket-it’s just a designer look alike.” I told him. He looked puzzled-“Well I’ll be darned. A designer field jacket. I’ve got three of the real thing hanging up at home.” I hastily tried to explain that I’d gotten this one cheap, and liked it because it looked neat, etc., etc. Made a verbal fool of myself. He was very kind and smiled nicely. I uttered a barely audible “Have a good day.” and left.

I got to thinking about my jacket, and other similar things-like the leather flying jackets you can buy so that you look like a WWII bomber pilot. And I though-what a big fat joke. The problem is-the joke is at the expense of those who wore field jackets, and bomber jackets during times of conflict. During WWII a paratrooper candidate who earned his jump wings also earned the right to blouse his pant legs into the tops of his boots. It wasn’t something a guy with any integrity would do if he didn’t deserve to. So it is with a field jacket. There is no meaning behind the one I have (and how could there be-because it’s not even real.) I imagine when the postal clerk looks at his field jackets there are many memories-authentic memories-good ones and bad ones-associated with his. He may even wear his jackets, but not to look cool I bet. So what he thinks of a “designer” jacket such as mine I can only imagine. (I’m guessing not good thoughts.) But typical with so many who served their country and came home-they keep their thoughts to themselves.

I’m not ever wearing this jacket again. It seems comical and ludicrous now. I’m not sure what I'll do with it. I don’t believe in wasting something perfectly good, but to give it away would be to perpetuate the cycle. I’ll come up with a good alternative use for it. (Now that would be cool.) And I’ll start shopping for a different jacket-one that I truly can be proud to wear.