Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Honoring the Veterans in my Life

In my mind Veteran's Day is becoming more important every year as young men and women are called upon to defend our country. Only those who have served know what it's like to be away from home and in harm's way. It's very important that we remind our friends and relatives how much we appreciate their service not only on Veteran's Day, but every day.

This is my dad home on leave with my mom and me when we lived on Stambaugh Avenue.

My children's father Fred Gaede (second on the left) serving in Korea. He bought his Canon camera while on R & R in Japan, and he took wonderful pictures that told the story of what it was like in the villages.

My father-in-law Edson G Loftus served as a Navy pilot and commander during WWII. In retirement, he became a physics professor at the University in Jacksonville, Florida.

My husband Gary Loftus in his ROTC uniform from Gordon Military Institute. I don't have a picture of him in his Army uniform. This was where he learned how to jump out of airplanes. He claimed in later years that he had a fear of heights; he also learned surveying which turned out to be his chosen career.

My cousin Teddy Balewski served in the Navy during WWII. Not only did the guys have their formal military pictures, but they loved to show off while they were relaxing during their time off. Some of those are really funny.

My cousin Bernie Dickun  served in Korea. The only thing I remember him saying about the service was the fact that he fell in love with his wife Betty while he was home on leave and couldn't wait to get back home to marry her.

What I hear most about those who have served is their love and friendship with those who served beside them. My dad had two buddies that he kept in close contact with after he was discharged, and we would visit their families during summer vacation: a good excuse to visit Kentucky and New Hampshire..

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Empire Ranch

Fun trip to Empire Ranch near Sonoita with friends Karen and Dawn! On our lazy way there through Box Canyon, we first visited Florida Canyon which my friend Brock and I had been to last Spring. It's somewhat of a birding place that I wanted Karen to see. I had the ladies pose for a picture, although only one of them is cooperating. Our trip through the Box Canyon had Dawn somewhat puckered, because at the steepest and most picturesque areas, it was one dirt lane. She was thankful to the Almighty that no one met us on a curve.

The ranch was a beehive of activity. After we got our maps and activity schedules we took off to take pictures (Karen and I); Dawn had already mapped out her agenda.

This picture is so much a part of my life in western Pennsylvania. It's a Youngstown kitchen. Fifteen miles from my birthplace in Sharon is Youngstown, Ohio, home to steel mills, not that Shenango Valley wasn't. This is what the kitchen that I was raised in on Stambaugh Avenue looked like. Haunting to think that they had something like this in a ranch house in southern Arizona.

I don't know what room this was but the view outside was so much more interesting. It was a wonderfully cool day with a stiff breeze blowing and lots of clouds racing across the sky. If I hadn't been so intent on the ranch, I would have been concentrating on the atmospheric conditions.

Another room with a great window. They tell so much about the architecture and time period; it's a story unto itself.

Same room, little different perspective.

This ranch house seemed to go on forever. There was more than one bathroom, but this was the one off of the master bedroom. There was a whole genealogy of who had inhabited the bedroom and when documented on the walls. It was all extremely interesting. We had a bath tub exactly like that on Stambaugh Avenue.

The event was well done and interesting to people of all ages. There were roping, branding, and riding demonstrations. and vendors of all kinds. This was for the kids: decorate your stick pony. This young man named Kevin agreed to pose for me; and "Yes", he had done the decorating.

This gentleman was allowing photographers to take pictures of his team, but I seemed to get in on the tail end of things as they were pulling away. Very spirited and handsome.

No event would be complete if there wasn't some reference to my wine-drinking. Karen took these two pictures of blurbs I'd never seen before, but definitely true.

Here's my new selfie! This is a motorcycle that was in the parking lot as we were leaving.

We had a great lunch in town at one of our favorite restaurants Overland Trout. Next door is a really great gift shop. Dawn is famous for spending money in gift shops, and she was no slouch here. I must admit that her purchases were awesome. Karen caught us as we were exiting.

This is another one of Karen's great pictures. I was driving, but stopped and insisted that Karen do what she's famous for. It has something to do with the angle of the sun and ice crystals. She posted this on Face Book with an explanation from one of her friends. Beautiful end to a great day!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Finding my way in cyber space

This is  not one of my normal posts. I'm participating in an exercise to see if I can post to my blog on a daily basis. I keep a written journal everyday of things that I have done whether they be daily mundane tasks, like picking up dog poop, or traveling to a birding site followed by lunch with friends.

On days that I spend house bound (my own choice) reading, massaging photos, or playing in my garden, I'm have a big hard drive spinning in the back of my mind reliving my life, seven decades worth. I think the hard drive is about seven tera bytes.

Sometimes I'm reliving my childhood, thinking about my parents, my siblings, and close relatives. What we see as children looks different played through the eyes of a mature adult. Maybe we have a better feel for our parents' emotions when they were unhappy with each other, shouting and yelling, slamming doors and stomping through the house. Maybe we understand how they felt about money, and what effect that had on our lives in a good or bad way.

I know we all play the "what if" game. What if I hadn't gotten married so young and gone through college in four years like some of my classmates did? What if I had chosen a different career? That wasn't a problem for me: I had five. What if I hadn't had children?

Sometimes the drive spins thinking about my children: how they were when they were little compared to the grown-ups they've become. Parents worry about doing right by their children and making sure they have every opportunity that they missed. I was never that way, because I was taught to create my own opportunities and be self-sufficient. That's one thing that my children thank me for passing along to them.

It's funny how the hard drive pulls up a name from the past that you never expected to remember and you wonder how that person is doing or is even still alive. You remind yourself that you need to keep in touch with close friends and family now TODAY, but you wonder if you'll make the effort.

My hard drive is extremely entertaining, but it's only there to be brought out and enjoyed when I'm not dealing with the here and now: traveling, taking pictures, trying new restaurants or meeting new people.