Saturday, May 23, 2015

May 23, 2015: Not So Neat and Orderly

Take a look at these two photos.  They both have something in common.  On this Memorial Day week-end, we take a moment or two and remember all the soldiers who have served and have died in that service. Often we see photos of those symmetrical battlefield cemeteries with row upon row of graves laid out in precise order.  Amazing in their perfection, poignant in the shear numbers,  but we also know that is not how it was at the moment.

The upper photo, the battlefield along the Greasy Grass, also known as The Little Big Horn is a different kind of military cemetery.  Scattered across hundreds of acres, along a nearly 3 mile ridge are simple white markers, showing where a member of Custer's 7th Calvary fell.  Interspaced with them, added later, are markers also showing where the last free roaming plains tribesmen also fell, although their numbers are few.

The lower photo is every much a battlefield cemetery like those neatly arranged monuments seen so often in photos this week-end.  It is even more-so like the cemetery that is the ridges and ravines of the Little Big Horn.  A lot of soldiers fell in this nondescript patch of woods.  Their bodies were scattered where I was standing to take the photo.  They were bent over the makeshift stone wall that can be seen in the distance.  They were piled one on top of the other on the sloping ground beyond that wall.  This is where Chamberlain and his handful of men from Maine made their stand on the Union left flank,  Little Round Top, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

It's not the neat, tidy, orderly military cemeteries I think about on Memorial Day.  It is places like these I think about. The Little Big Horn and Little Round Top, nearly a continent apart but have one thing in common.  Here is where you can sense and feel the horrible randomness and mayhem that is war.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May 16, 2015: Wouldn't It Be Nice?

Now wouldn't this be nice?  Go to your boss, request your retirement and it is approved.

Unfortunately, as it stands now, there's no way my boss would give my request a thumbs-up.  It's not so much a case where my skills and knowledge are indispensable to the operation.  In fact, the opposite could very well be true.  I need the company more than the company needs me. 

No, I'm certain my request for retirement would be met with a large degree of skepticism by my superior.  There probably would be very little discussion.  It would be more like a monologue with remarks like, "Are you nuts?" or "What have you been drinking?"  Depending on mood, it could even go so far as, "Are you out of your f*#%ing mind?

So I'll just keep working for the foreseeable future.  No matter how polished my skills of persuasion, there's no way Janice is gonna let this fly.

By the way, this was stenciled on the frame of an old stock car on display at Hardin, Montana. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

May 10, 2015: Mothers and Grandmothers

Two photos, each of a mother and a grandmother.  The top picture is my mother holding our first baby, Seth.  The photo above is, of course, Janice, holding our first grand child, Cam.

Conditions were interesting to say the least when Janice had Seth and Grant.  Both were born at a clinic about 5 miles from where we were farming.  In both cases, Janice and baby went home a few hours after they were born.  Each time I took her and baby to spend a few days at my parent's house located on their farm a mile or so away.  That's how it came about this photo of my mother came to be.  She was holding her grandson, in her house.  He was not even 24 hours old.

Fast forward 34 years and on the opposite side of the country.  The next generation of grandma is holding her first grandson.  A far cry from the little small town clinic where Cam's dad, Grant was born, this little guy came into the world in a modern hospital in Philadelphia.  Where Janice and I raised our sons in a very much "seat of the pants" style, Cam's generation has the advantage of parents tuned into a wealth of parenting information and support.

My mom was not your quintessential grandmother.  She took her house work and farm work seriously to the point it was a full time job. The idea that because she was only a mile away we had an automatic built in baby sitter just didn't hold water.  But she did fulfill the main requirement of all grandparents.  We only have one main responsibility, love our grandkids unconditionally.

When you look at these two photos, is their any doubt each of these mothers, each of these grandmothers are enjoying upholding that requirement? 

There will be all kinds of different tributes to mothers today;  gifts, brunches, cards.  To my discredit, I've never been good at that kind of thing.  So I guess this will be mine.

Two photos.

Two mothers.

Two grandmothers.

Two examples of unconditional love.