I’ve Got This Watch

I apologize in advance for the ramble-yness of this post. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about this, but they aren’t very well organized.

Today’s Memorial Day.

What does that mean?

I guess to most people, it means a three-day weekend, gathering with friends and family, grilled food, openings of pools and hanging out at beaches, and the start of summer. For me, until I joined the Navy, this was my predominant view of the holiday. And while celebrating this American way of life is good, and being with friends and family is important, it’s so much more than that.

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Memorial Day – the holiday itself – is for remembering those who died while serving the United States Armed Forces. I have two in particular which I remember:

Rene LaMourt: He went on his first deployment on the USS Eisenhower and was out at sea for more than six months. When he returned, he took some leave and was going to fly home to visit his family. On the way to the airport, the girl giving him a ride to the airport got a flat tire. She pulled off onto the shoulder of the freeway, and Rene started to change the tire. While he was getting the jack out of the trunk, another car hit him and he was pinned between the two cars. They had to amputate both his legs in the hospital and he died of shock that evening.

Rene wasn’t officially “on-duty” when the accident happened, but he never made it home. And he was serving. He was helping someone else out. Because that’s what military people are: Servicemen. We are broken down in boot camp and trained to give our lives for our country, for our brothers and sisters in the Armed Forces, and for any person who crosses our path who needs our assistance. We are trained to follow orders, to complete the mission, and to disregard ourselves in doing so. We disregard ourselves, but we know that the soldier standing next to us has our back and will give his life for mine. Just as I will give my life for his. So, we can be off-duty, or separated, or retired. But we are still on-duty. We are still military. We will still serve. Because it’s who we are now.

Chris: I’m leaving his last name off on purpose. He went to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. He came back home to his wife and children. A few months later he committed suicide.

PTSD is real. War is hard.

Sacrifice. We sacrifice a lot by being in the military. Some personal liberties. Comforts of home. Family. Friends. Safety, sometimes. Privacy. We also gain a lot: bonds that go far beyond friendship, opportunities to see places we’d never have seen on our own, opportunities for education, growth in strength and character, an understanding of what it takes to be a strong nation, exposure to other nations… Our families sacrifice, too. Military members’ salaries are not on par with people with equivalent jobs in the private sector. We do look after each other so that no one is without a home or their families are not fed, but it is often a very tight budget. That’s okay, we are resourceful, if nothing else. Our families have to be strong while we are deployed. They are without us. Relationships are strained. Some of us never make it home. On Memorial Day, we honor not only those of us who gave all, but also their families, who also gave all.

I was thinking about these things as I got ready for work today. I had to work today. Most of my friends have the day off and are spending it doing those Memorial Day weekend things. I’m seeing lots of posts on Facebook about grilling and being at the beach and the pool. I was invited to a barbecue at my best friend’s house that I had to decline. But I’m okay with it. Because we are remembering the fallen. And the fallen are my brothers and sisters. Because the military makes you family, even if you’ve never met. Even if you’re from a different branch. And if my brother or sister is not able to stand watch, you fill the gap and do the job to carry on the mission. It’s just what you do. You keep on keeping on, as they say. You live for them in a way. You take care of their families. You serve, because they can no longer serve.

I am happy to be serving today, in what little capacity I can.

Rest easy, brothers, I’ve got this watch.

Jennie on a Sub
Rob Dodson and Me

Clawson Fireworks

Every year, Clawson puts on the best fireworks display! 🙂 I love living close enough to be able to walk to the park (and miss the gridlocked traffic after the show)! This year, I got to share the evening with Ross and Chelsea.

Here are a few of my favorite images from the evening:

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As always, you can see the rest of my photos on my Clawson Fireworks Flickr page.

Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras is one of my favorite celebrations in the year.  I think I have to like it because I’m both French and Native American.  Doesn’t that make me Cajun or Creole in some fashion?

While many times it is celebrated as honoring all thing immoral (or at least indulging in immorality one last time before the penitential season of Lent), I think of it more in terms of an anticipation of the joy we are going to find during our Lenten journey.  We recognize the good things of this world, but look forward to the greater goods that we will receive from a life lived in Christ.

Without further ado, I present to you…  Mardi Gras 2014!

First, there’s no party without a party outfit.
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I put on a brightly colored shirt, authentic Mardi Gras beads (Thanks, Shane, for getting them for me from New Orleans during college!), pigtails, eye makeup and sparkly lip gloss.

Properly attired, I got things ready for the evening. After work, I went over my parents’ house and had jambalaya. I like traditions and the idea of making ethnic or special food to mark notable days. Since I’m “Creole”, I like to honor the day with Cajun-style foods. In a perfect world, I’d have more items on the menu, but being a working girl with a limited grocery budget…we just got jambalaya. But it was good!

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I did forget to add the shrimp, but it was good with just the chicken and andouille sausage.

Mom added a tomato-avocado salad to the party, and Dad had purchased paczki, which were our dessert. I snagged a blueberry one. Granted, paczki aren’t Cajan, but there’s a strong Polish demographic here in Michigan and that’s how people roll here. A big fat jelly-filled donut for Fat Tuesday. I’m okay with that. 🙂

All too soon, my paczek was eaten and Fat Tuesday was nearly over. Plans have been laid for Lent and I look forward to the journey at hand!

What did you do for Mardi Gras?

The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: twelve drummers drumming, eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

Drummers establish the rhythm for marching. They symbolize the 12 doctrines listed in the Apostles’ Creed, an ancient summary of Christian beliefs.

Suggested activity is to make noise/music using common kitchen items, E.g. boxes, pans, glasses, etc.

Apostles' Creed

The Eleventh Day of Christmas

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eleven pipers piping, ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

The pipers are the eleven disciples who remained faithful.

Suggested activity is to make cake or cookies with piped frosting. I kind of did this already with my mom for our Christmas cookies. Not that I had any skill whatsoever…

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These were decorated by an adult, not a toddler, as you might assume

The Tenth Day of Christmas

On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: ten lords-a-leaping, nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

In the Middle Ages, lords could, to some extent, define the law within their own lands. So the lords are the Ten Commandments.

To celebrate, they suggest having a family game day, including jumping and running activities. I don’t have anyone else at home to play games with, but I can probably jump around a bit. 🙂

The Ninth Day of Christmas

On the ninth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: nine ladies dancing, eight maids-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

The nine ladies symbolize the fruits of the Spirit as listed in Galatians.

Today’s family celebration is to learn a new dance. What’s your favorite dance? What shall I try tonight?

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The Eighth Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: eight maid-a-milking, seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

Milkmaids, as humble servants, are supposed to represent the Beatitudes listed in Matthew.

To celebrate, they suggest having some favorite dairy treats like ice cream or hot chocolate. I didn’t have either of these on hand, and as the weather outside was “frightful” as the song goes, I celebrated with a glass or two of milk, which I quite enjoyed. 🙂 I snuggled into my futon and read books and watched movies all day. A peaceful and relaxing start to the new year; what more could I ask for? 🙂

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The Seventh Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: seven swans-a-swimming, six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

Graceful swans symbolize the seven gifts of grace of the Holy Spirit, as listed in the twelfth book of Romans.

I did make the little swan container for my Mom for Christmas. This is the one suggested decoration that I actually followed through with, as the others were either complex or required that I buy stuff from a craft store. The suggested activity for today is to go swimming. Really? It’s a Christmas book published in the northern hemisphere and they suggest swimming? I don’t know that I’ll make it. Especially, as today’s New Year’s Eve, and the holiday tomorrow.

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This is a swan’s egg. I can probably make a swan’s egg out of all of the snow we are going to be getting. Hopefully, this is an acceptable substitute! 🙂

The Sixth Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me: six geese-a-laying, five golden rings, four calling birds, three French hens, two turtle doves, and a partridge in a pear tree!

Since eggs symbolize new life, the geese stand for the six days of creation described in Genesis.

They suggest that we decorate eggs with nontoxic markers or crayons. I don’t think I’ll celebrate in quite this way, as I associate all egg decoration with Easter, but I did have eggs for breakfast this morning. Does that count?

And here’s a picture of some decorated eggs:
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