The word veteran simply means a person who has experience in some field.   A veteran teacher, parent, or in the case of military service it means a person who has served for an extended period of time.  Unfortunately for commercial purposes, to award discounts and give out free meals, anyone with a half day service time is eligible.  What veteran does not mean and should in my opinion, is service in time of conflict in the combat area.  It’s not fair for example, to compare my father’s WWII march through Europe with the high school kid who is in the military serving at a base close to home.


scanI believe the intent of the original Veterans Day was to do just that, to honor those who had served in war time.  Originally called Armistice Day, marking the end of WWI when the end of hostilities took place at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect.  In 1954 after the war in Korea, it was renamed Veterans Day to be an inclusive remembrance of the service performed by members of the armed forces in areas of conflict.  We’ve diluted that honor, removed part of the pride associated with this day, by including everyone in this day thereby diminishing the magnitude of service given by my father and his brothers, my father-in-law and those who served in Korea, my fellow service members in SEA, and of course those who have served in the ongoing conflict in the middle and far east.

My father marched across Europe.  From the Normandy coast, through France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and finally Austria.  Wounded several times, carrying the Browning Automatic Rifle with his best friend, he marched.  It is in that memory that today I will remember and honor Veterans Day and purposely exclude those who wore/wear the uniform for photo ops.

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The day after …


The weather has turned cold, almost nasty this morning when I got up to walk the dogs around 6.  A misty rain accompanied the blast of cold and the temperature has continued to drop throughout the morning.  I usually turn the news on first thing and have a cup of coffee, but not this morning.  It was a creeping fear that maybe by some fluke of nature trump may have won the election.  When I told Monica the shock on her face said it all.  Like the milkweed pod, it is an ugly thing but we must hope and pray it  gives birth to seeds of hope.

As we travel around this part of New York, small towns some without a single traffic light but a lone church and a post office, we feel a oneness with these people in rural America. A much simpler lifestyle and certainly slower, we’re also sure that as with most people the beauty of the surrounding countryside gets lost once you’re immersed in it through daily life. We can hope that as this new president takes office and becomes immersed in daily political life, he will better appreciate and understand the beauty and greatness of this country and our respect of the office he now holds.


We love this stand of birch trees across from Pat’s.   It’s so peaceful and calming and on a day like today, with the disappointing election news, it is a great place for Monica and I to be and relax. In my prayers tonight I’m going to pray for our country. I’m going to ask that in the transition to the Presidency, trump is able to learn and acquire the necessary professional skills that are so different from his current skill set; that our country will heal and we can look forward to a brighter tomorrow. I’m hopeful that our current military and seasoned political leadership can guide this novice to better understand that we are a nation of people, the most diverse of any country, everyone deserving equal consideration and care we as people are capable of giving.  Thank you God, for listening to this prayer of hope.

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Seventy Five

When you write out that number, 75, it for some reason doesn’t feel as big, or in this case as old, as to a younger me 75 would seem.  But my sister Pat turned 75 yesterday and along with Monica, Phillis and Beverly, we had a great celebration and of course great food!

Pat cooked, she can’t help herself, and made a delicious meal of shells florentines, a mixed salad, Italian bread and glasses of her favorite wine and coffee.  Then of course time for gifts and reading of birthday cards!


For dessert we had two cakes, one a traditional chocolate and another an ice cream cake, complete with a topping that set off sparkles that then lit the candles and opened up into a flower!




If I am half as active and healthy as my sister when I turn 75, I’ll be super happy.  Monica and I are so glad to have made the trip and made it here in time for Pat’s birthday.


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Fall Weather

We’ve endured perhaps the longest and hottest summer ever!  Even October in the south is generally not a time where every day is in the mid to high 80’s air conditioners running non stop:  This October however defied the normal.  This picture is of our latest granddaughter Meena Lynne White, born October 5th, in her Meena the Minion outfit for Halloween.  we’re in short-sleeves trying to make some semblance of a fall evening in October.

Meena the Minion

Meena Halloween 2016

But we’re on a trip to upstate NY at the moment to visit my sister Pat before she heads back to Long Island for the winter.  As we travelled north the temperature started to drop yesterday given the location and the weather front moving in to the North east.


Lake Chautauqua RV Park

When we arrived last night at Lake Chautauqua RV Park the temps were in the low 50s.  By nightfall the temps were in the 40s and walking the dogs it felt like snow, even looked like snow was falling.


Lake Chautauqua


Site 25


The fall colors, although past prime, are absolutely beautiful with fire reds, birch tree oranges, and maple orange/reds.  This campground is on the lake with rental cabins, boats of all types to rent and of course RV sites with cement pads and 50 amp service.


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Is It Me?

There’s probably not a person around over 60 who has not received one of those emails from a friend listing  things to remember about days gone by.  What was the name of the Alka-Seltzer boy in the advertisement?  What was the Ipana ad jingle?  What the real question should be is … were things that much clearer, sharper, much less complicated?

Take education for example.  Every student in every school across America learned to write in cursive, read Dick and Jane books, followed math from simple addition to division and percentages up to algebra and geometry in upper grades.  We were taught Civics and Social Studies along with the mandatory Gym period.  Our path to success was as clear as the yellow safety line painted on the floor of wood shop.  Today’s educators across this country are in chaos.  Each state believes it has found its own formula for academic success. Education leaders cannot find the yellow line to follow anymore.  Teachers do not know the “how to” path to success for their kids.  Cursive is out the window.  I don’t know the last time a class on citizenship and responsibilities as an American was taught in schools.  Try and find a wood shop in high school.  It’s probably been converted into a computer lab.  Is there a test to be taken for graduation?  What exactly is the “it” a student needs to know?

My president when I was younger was respected.  The “process” of electing a new president or any political office was competitive of course, but not disrespectful.  My president did not go around with his pants around his ankles.  I don’t think my president would ever say hateful words against a religious people or an ethnicity just because of the actions of a few.  The office of the president is the pinnacle of professional success and a position of great honor and not a room in a house up to the highest bidder.

When the Beatles took New York in the 60s and their songs shot up the charts, the words they used in their songs as well as others were not hateful, disrespectful, cursing, expletives.  Nor years later, and analyzed many times played backward, slowed down or sped up, were there satanic messages or drug messages in them — and I don’t care who says there was, it was not meant to be taken that way.

The idea, years ago, of a person walking into a store and shooting people was abhorrent and would only be the action of a completely deranged person and not an able-bodied American.  Nobody’s religious beliefs were so off-center to allow, as a community, a person to grow up amongst the people of that community, unnoticed, and allow him or her to lash out at people for some “radicalized” belief.

I am by no means saying, that we were better off yesterday than we are today.  Too many good things have been discovered, life made easier for many, our planet safer than it was in years past.  It’s just that in some ways we have lost the kindness, the respectful, honorable way of doing things with and to each other.  That we have diminished the offices of the powerful to cliché’s of the way it used to be when we at least believed that those we put in charge really cared for us.  As a kid my family had a doctor, Dr Jankowski, who would come to our house with his little black bag and cure our illness.  Today doctors work for the insurance companies, not by choice of course, and it’s the insurance companies who decide what medicine you can get or what type treatment you are afforded based on a policy that covers you.  Which is the best for me?   Through the eyes of time looking through much younger eyes I liked the doctor who cared for me not the insurance companies who decide what I’m allowed to have treated, based on my age, sex, and premiums paid.

Fall Upstate NY

Pat’s backyard

Monica and I have “escaped” to my sister Pat’s house and piece of land in upstate New York for a week.  I just got back in from walking the dogs in her back yard, enjoying the total silence except for the wind through the birch trees and the birds singing their morning song all around me.  The farmer’s field behind her house and the woods even further behind that shelter the deer and turkeys that live in peace here.  The time to reflect and just breathe in the clean air is so wonderful it’s no surprise the residents of these small towns stay in these remote areas where life is much slower and the main event is karaoke on a Friday night in a campground restaurant.  I used to tell my students the story of a young boy growing up in a small community and how he was raised and asked them to guess where he was from?  Most guessed a town or nearby state where in fact the young man grew up in Turkey.  They were so surprised at how alike they were to him and his family.  How even his religious beliefs were not that far off their own.  I think everyone ought to travel to and be immersed in another culture and religion to understand that we are all the same on this planet.  That if we could only understand each other more, to look through the eyes of another, that perhaps we could regain some of the respect and regard for each other’s beliefs and culture and maybe help resolve some of the hatred and violence that scars our daily lives and makes all of us so anxious and fearful of everyday life.  Going to a ballgame used to be so exciting, now after passing through a metal detector, we worry about others in the crowd.  Flying was a wonderful experience not stressful and feared watching for people dressed in muslim attire.  Education was a wonderful passage through youth, learning about oneself, and how to live a good life and be a good citizen, not a gauntlet of tests.

So is it me?  Am I asking too much?  Am I foolish to think that my grandchildren have inherited a country and a world incapable of common decency and respect?  I pray that we will return to a time of greater peace and understanding.  The irony of it all is our fear of others and their beliefs is often because of religious differences, the very same religions’ beliefs that at their heart, teach peace and love for each other, for their communities, and the dignity of life.

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One of the more interesting discoveries you find when traveling around these beautiful states, seeing the sights, delving into the culture, watching the local television is that your hometown is really not that unique.  Even down to its name.  A drive through Lebanon and then into Nashville ….  Indiana, Nashville Ohio, Nashville Texas, or Manhattan Kansas, there are so many towns with identical names that at times it becomes humorous and can be confusing especially using the GPS to navigate everywhere.  You favorite jingle when your news show comes on is identical to the jingle used in an advertisement for another state’s fair.  That pretty girl selling chevys in Texas, is selling VWs in Ohio.  The law firm of Cracker and Cracker – your “local” lawyers in Florida, is “local” in Missouri.IMG_8045  So we’re not all that unique in our living space or our cities and towns stores and shops.  Where we are different is in the people’s regional accents, or the way the land of a state seems to go on forever, rich with crops growing and being harvested.  How the people treat you and interact with you is always different yet the same.  Some seem indifferent while others are wonderful and warm.  Some places have very specific religious or ethnic ties like IMG_0405Elkhart Indiana which boasts that they now have the leading Amish population in the US, while others are typical American perhaps with more cowboy hats or dressed in “Colorado summer” attire – shorts and a sweater.  People are people everywhere and it is so interesting, especially if you’re a “people watcher” to see them across the country as you travel.  Each campground is also a great mixing pot of people.  In our last spot in Indiana we were neighbors with a couple who spent their winters in Arizona, summers in Indiana, used the VA hospital in Nebraska and spent some of their time with their kids in Montana.  Where were they from?  Indeterminable. When Monica and I are asked we always hesitate; give them the expanded answer with Monica starting in Louisiana and me in New York, or the Reader’s Digest answer we’re full-timers with our homebase in Nashville Tennessee.  (You’ve got to add the Tennessee because as I indicated above there are lots of Nashville’s across the country)

So we enjoy out travels always looking for the unique in our country.  We’re headed out today to visit a lighthouse on Lake Erie and have lunch at the beach.  We’ll watch the sunset over this ocean sized lake this evening before heading out to visit my sister Pat in a state most everyone has the wrong idea about.  If I said I’m headed to a state with a state park that is bigger than the Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, Grand Canyon parks combined, that has more farm land, orchards, and dairy farms than any individual southern state, most would not guess New York but yup, it does.  She lives in Sandy Creek and it’s a beautiful time for Monica and I to just relax and enjoy the scenery.   We’ll let you know when we find the next unique thing!

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Ft McCoy

We left Minneapolis-St Paul on Sunday morning and headed east.IMG_8149  One of the things we both noticed once we landed in Nebraska a couple of weeks ago, is the sky.  I think it’s the same as my sister Pat’s in upstate New York it is both the color and the clouds.  The clouds are a constant presence in the sky and they are all different shapes, all fluffy, as they sail across a sky of multiple hues of blue.  It reminded me of the clouds over the atlantic on a cruise we took a few years ago.  I’m not a meteorologist so I’m not sure of what makes these type clouds but they sure are pretty.  The landscape changed almost as soon as we crossed the Mississippi River the IMG_8156border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

While we were so impressed and loved the flowing fields of Nebraska and Minnesota, the rolling green hills and dairy farms of Wisconsin are winning us over slowly.  While The corn or milo (cattle feed corn) fields in Nebraska had a golden color from the corn tassels that shimmered as you drove past.  The green hills of Wisconsin are multiple shades of green giving the landscape a patchwork of green color.FullSizeRender  We are here for three nights and our mission is one thing —  cheese!

Fort McCoy is a huge Army post whose main purpose has been training for all military branches almost since its beginning.  It has almost no personality with old buildings and roads, but what it lacks in beauty on the main base itself it makes up in all the thousands of acres of training fields surrounding the base. The campground is huge with boating, golf, swimming, and sites that are paved nicely and private.  We are happy with this gem of a camping find and plan to relax with some vino later today — after we snag some cheese!





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