>A Different Christmas Poem


The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.
The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn’t loud, and it wasn’t too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn’t quite know, Then the
sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.
Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.

A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.
“What are you doing?” I asked without fear,
“Come in this moment, it’s freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!”

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..
To the window that danced with a warm fire’s light
Then he sighed and he said “Its really all right,
I’m out here by choice. I’m here every night.”
“It’s my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I’m proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ‘Pearl on a day in December,”
Then he sighed, “That’s a Christmas ‘Gram always remembers.”
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ‘Nam’,
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I’ve not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he’s sure got her smile.

Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue… an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall.”

“So go back inside,” he said, “harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I’ll be all right.”
“But isn’t there something I can do, at the least,
“Give you money,” I asked, “or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you’ve done,
For being away from your wife and your son.”
Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
“Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we’re gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us.”


>Look! It’s another one!


You are The Hierophant

Divine Wisdom. Manifestation. Explanation. Teaching.

All things relating to education, patience, help from superiors.The Hierophant is often considered to be a Guardian Angel.

The Hierophant’s purpose is to bring the spiritual down to Earth. Where the High Priestess between her two pillars deals with realms beyond this Earth, the Hierophant (or High Priest) deals with worldly problems. He is well suited to do this because he strives to create harmony and peace in the midst of a crisis. The Hierophant’s only problem is that he can be stubborn and hidebound. At his best, he is wise and soothing, at his worst, he is an unbending traditionalist.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.


>Five years ago today, in boot camp, I found out that two planes had run into the World Trade Center. Half an hour later, we found out that the Pentagon’s army section had been hit. The father of the girl in the bunk next to me had a meeting there that day. He’s an Army chaplain. He broke a leg getting out.

A guy who graduated boot camp at the same time as me lost his entire mom’s side of the family. He refused to loose any time at the boot camp, so he could go out and get the bastards that attacked our country and killed his family.

>Moments in time-

>I’m looking out the window in my apartment into the rain. The light is yellow. Not “golden” or “sunny”– honest crayola yellow. No real idea why. I don’t think the colors will come out right in the picture.

I think I’ll remember this at odd times for the rest of my life.

Another timeless moment: going over the blogs I depend on for my news, hearing the gurgle-growl of the coffee pot as the resivore is emptied, Bob.fm playin quietly on my computer. The only thing better is all that when Alan is here as well. Neither of us talks unless something intresting is found, but the comfort of company is like a warm blanket after a long, cold day.

>In honor of Grampa Gail-

>–the grandson of an English probably-criminal who, with his brothers, was so good at getting folks irate that they got chased out of TWO countries and changed their names when they got to the US (and changed himself so much that his son was a Presbyterian minister)– I give you an article by an English gentleman, on the nation that I love.

Americans will die for liberty
By Andrew Gimson

As we took off from London for New York a few days ago, our three over-excited children asked if there was any chance of the plane being blown up. I explained that the likelihood of that happening was virtually zero, and wondered how we were going to maintain some semblance of order during the flight. One did not wish the sedate American passengers by whom we were surrounded to form the impression that British parents are unable or unwilling to impart the rudiments of good manners.

Luckily, American Airlines had provided a screen on the back of the seat in front of one’s own, on which one could watch old movies. There was also a map showing how far we had gone, on which places of interest were marked. It began by showing only two places: London and Chartwell.

The Americans are more old-fashioned than us, and what is equally admirable, they are not ashamed of being old-fashioned. They know Churchill was a great man, so they put his house on the map. There is a kind of Englishman to whom this sort of behaviour seems painfully unsophisticated.

We are inclined, in our snobbish way, to dismiss the Americans as a new and vulgar people, whose civilisation has hardly risen above the level of cowboys and Indians. Yet the United States of America is actually the oldest republic in the world, with a constitution that is one of the noblest works of man. When one strips away the distracting symbols of modernity – motor cars, skyscrapers, space rockets, microchips, junk food – one finds an essentially 18th-century country. While Europe has engaged in the headlong and frankly rather immature pursuit of novelty – how many constitutions have the nations of Europe been through in this time? – the Americans have held to the ideals enunciated more than 200 years ago by their founding fathers.

The sense of entering an older country, and one with a sterner sense of purpose than is found among the flippant and inconstant Europeans, can be enjoyed even before one gets off the plane. On the immigration forms that one has to fill in, one is asked: “Have you ever been arrested or convicted for an offence or crime involving moral turpitude?” Who now would dare to pose such a question in Europe? The very word “turpitude” brings a smile, almost a sneer, to our lips.

The quiet solicitude that Americans show for the comfort of their visitors, and the tact with which they make one feel at home, can only be described as gentlemanly. These graceful manners, so often overlooked by brash European tourists, whisper the last enchantments of an earlier and more dignified age, when liberty was not confused with licence.

But lest these impressions of the United States seem unduly favourable, it should be added that the Americans have not remained in happy possession of their free constitution without cost. Thomas Jefferson warned that the tree of liberty must be watered from time to time with the blood of tyrants and patriots. To the Americans, the idea that freedom and democracy exact a cost in blood is second nature.

We went to the fine new museum in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, devoted to the American Civil War. It was the bloodiest war in American history. Americans slaughtered Americans in terrible numbers before the North prevailed. You can look up the names of soldiers on a computer, and I found to my slight surprise that a man called Joseph Gimson served on the Union side as a private in the 37th Regiment of Coloured Infantry, and was “severely and dangerously wounded” in the battle of Northeast Station on February 22, 1865.

We stood at Gettysburg, scene of the bloodiest battle of all, on a field covered with memorials to the fallen. Here Abraham Lincoln gave his great and sublimely brief address, ending with the hope “that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”.

Again some Europeans will give an unkind smile. All this sounds so Puritan, so naïve and so self-righteous. We cannot help feeling that the Americans ought to have been able to settle their quarrel without killing each other, and, while we cannot defend the institution of slavery, we wonder whether the North had the right to impose its will by force.

These are vain quibbles. The North went to war and was victorious.

The Americans are prepared to use force in pursuit of what they regard as noble aims. It is yet another respect in which they are rather old-fashioned. They are patriots who venerate their nation and their flag.

The idea has somehow gained currency in Britain that America is an essentially peaceful nation. Quite how this notion took root, I do not know. Perhaps we were unduly impressed by the protesters against the Vietnam war.

It is an idea that cannot survive a visit to the National Museum of American History in Washington, where one is informed that the “price of freedom” is over and over again paid in blood.

The Americans’ tactics in Iraq, and their sanction for Israel’s tactics in Lebanon, have given rise to astonishment and anger in Europe. It may well be that those tactics are counter-productive, and that the Americans and Israelis need to take a different approach to these ventures if they are ever to have any hope of winning hearts and minds.

But when the Americans speak of freedom, we should not imagine, in our cynical and worldly-wise way, that they are merely using that word as a cloak for realpolitik. They are not above realpolitik, but they also mean what they say.

These formidable people think freedom is so valuable that it is worth dying for.

>Toots Patrick

>She didn’t have a name until she went to college, because her parents couldn’t agree– after 13 children, all the middle-ground names were taken, I guess.

Both of my grandmothers went to college, a fact that I belive my Social Studies teacher *still* believes I was lying about. Grandma Alice was a newspaper reporter. Granny Toots was a court stenographer.

I still don’t know Granny’s entire name. As with most teenagers, she wanted something *special*– Venita Lorane *something**something**something*….. Venita Lorane always sounded lovely to me, even though she’ll always be Granny Toots. Even Papa called her Toots. (Ralph– maybe that’s why she’s Toots; would a Venita Lorane fall in love with a lumberjack named Ralph?)

I know my mom didn’t get along with her very well when mom was younger. I think it’s because they’re too alike…. Mom was supposed to be twin boys, according to the town doctor. Granny had lost at least one baby before that, and they were worried. It hit her hard to get one baby, not two, although I think the boys were supposed to be Sean and…something. Mom’s Shauna.

I remember the story about the time that a porkiepine died in the ditch, and Granny decided to move it herself so the kids wouldn’t step in it when they went swimming. She ended up falling in on it. The ditch is about five feet deep, with steep sides. She got out and went back to the house to remove most of the needles herself. Tough.

I remember how much she loved to have Kelsey and Ivie and I come over for a weekend, even though three kids all in grade school must have been very tiring, and I know we sometimes made Papa irate.

When Papa was killed– doctor reused an injection after leaving it on the table over the weekend– Granny was alright for a few years. She kinda faded away, back to happier days. She didn’t recognize my aunt Pip, her favorite baby girl. She only sometimes recognized Kelly, my cousin who she half-raised. She did recognize mom and my sister and brother and I, but we couldn’t visit very often.

She missed Papa.

They’re together, now.

…. I miss Granny…..

A former sailor's ramblings on anything from family, country and Church through general geek-ness.