Forward Thinking and Retro Living in New England on the Southern Coast of Maine

Monday, February 20, 2017

Feeling Grateful for Those Who Serve God and Our Country

Patriotic art I scanned in 2003 from an authentic WWI poster by Howard Chandler Christy

I wrote the following essay in 2002 and decided to share it here with all of you:

We were stationed in Jacksonville, NC and living about five miles from Campe Lejeune. My Marine had been sent to Idaho with other troops to help put out wildfires. We had lived there less than two months and already moved twice, having first lived in a motel, then a rental house but had to sue the landlord over serious and numerous code violations who would not fix them nor would he let us out of our lease, then slept on cots in our third house for the first week because the military sponsored moving truck was three weeks late. 

Outside of our home the air was seemingly white from the intense late summer heat but I would takes walks anyway. Snakes slithered in our yard. Nearby wooded areas smelled musty and I witnessed “dust devils” wreck havoc with a nearby dry field. At one house, a stressed Marine often hollered as a baby cried. A few houses past us a Doberman fiercely barked and growled at me, jumping on the metal fence. As often happened, the weather changed without any hints or a heads up. Frequent blue sky cloud bursts further dampened my spirits.

My neighbors were very friendly but invitations were limited to boozy MLM parties. As someone who is dry it wasn’t an option for me.

While on base one morning I sparked up a conversation with a receptionist where I had an appointment. She seemed like a very nice person and I was thinking of asking her if she wanted to get together sometime. But then this:

“What is your husband’s rank?” she asked. Such a rank question, I thought.

I answered.

“Oh, well I’m not sure if anyone told you this yet since you’re still pretty new here, but you do know that although I can go to your beaches, you can’t go to mine.”

I was incredulous. Not because of the segregation of enlisted and Officer's beaches, but that she felt the need to bring it up. 

Sometimes I'd drive around town to find glimmers of inspiration. Hourly rate motels with shirtless Marines smoking cigarettes leaning over banisters depressed me. Apple "cider" at the local bookstore cafe turned out to be powdered mix unlike the fresh cider I was accustomed to back home in new England. Seedy strip club billboards felt like bullies.

Then came the “birds.” The Osprey. They constantly flew so low over our house that I thought I could jump up to hitch a ride to base.  Pictures inside my house constantly needed readjusting as the vibrations made them off center.
One night in 2000 an osprey crashed and killed four Marines aboard, may they rest in peace. 

When aircraft wasn't overhead I could hear the ordnance. The explosions didn't happen at any specific time of day. Sometimes they ushered in midnight.

Sleep, something with which I've struggled anyway, became even more foreign to me. I had gone over 48 hours without sleep. I drove to the base hospital and went through admissions.

"Last four?"

I gave the clerk the last four digits of The Marine's social, which is what you are when married to the military.

"Wife number?"

"What?"

"What spouse number are you?"

"What do you mean?"

"Has the Marine had any other wives?"

"Huh? No. Well has he?" I tried to peer over at the computer screen to see what he was looking at, and paranoia set in even though I was told it was a standard question.

I took a number and sat in the waiting room listening to kids fidget in their chairs and eat candy. Finally I was called in and went into a curtained off area where a woman next to me was screaming. It was hard to hear. Two women came in to talk to me, and asked me what was going on. I started crying. "I can't sleep. I miss my husband. I need to sleep. Can you help me?"

"Are you a newlywed?"

"About two years."

"Oh, well let me tell you, I've been married for a while and I'm glad when my husband is gone."

The other woman added her thoughts.

"What you need is to go out and get some ice cream and drink some wine. Get a manicure."

At that point my sense of humor bravely came back, but secretly. Everything suddenly became absurd. I politely listened to their advice and did get a script for something I took only once.

Driving back to my house I thought about how I just couldn't do this life. At that very moment is when I started seeing the "Welcome home!" sheets hung along the highway. "We missed you daddy! Welcome home SGT Jones!" and months of anguish were painted on white sheets blowing in the humid wind. I started crying again, only this time for the realization that the men, women and children who live this life will always have my profound respect, even if I'd never want to hang out with some of them or they, me. I thought of how much these families go through and how little we'd hear about their sacrifices. This was in 2000, before the war against terror.

I’m not a religious person, but I do believe in prayer and a Higher Authority. I needed some help from that arena, not wine bottles and sugary sundaes.

I met with the base Chaplain. I began to unload. I didn’t hold back as I expressed every horrible thought I had about some of the other wives I had met, Jacksonville, the Marine Corps, and how I felt like I was being elitist. I said I felt like a bad Marine wife. Unpatriotic. I expected a sermon on how I needed humility and to keep an open mind. Instead I got:

"Kind of like the Stepford Wives here sometimes, huh?"

He had my attention. He continued.

"I can see how it would be frustrating. Not a lot of outlets for someone like you."

Then he looked right at me.

"You don't need to beat yourself up to make other people feel better. Simply help bring them up to speed or let go."

Thank you,
Cdr. Jerome Dillon, servicemembers, past and present, and families, for your service.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Liquidating My Vintage Estate jewelry


Hey everybody! The sun is shining, snow is melting and there were birds singing outside my window this morning! Meteorological spring is almost here!


I shared with you that part of my career transition process is that I've been liquidating my inventory of vintage gems and curiosities. This represents the last of my vintage estate jewelry findings that I am presently or getting ready to sell.


Pretty rings, some artisan, others vintage.


The above 1980s rhinestones are totally similar to what I wore in high school.


I love the presentation box for these Jade cufflinks, tie pin and clip.


Alpaca and Sterling Mexico pieces from the 1970s for groovy girls!

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 2017 Blizzard Cleanup


This morning makes our last big winter storm cleanup look so quaint! We've had countless snowfalls in between then and now. Yesterday Wayne made two full snow clearing passes, clearing about 10" of snow. Shown below was pass #1.


Scenes from this morning at the tail end of the snowstorm:



 




 

I unburied the bulkhead door so Wayne could get out.






I had never roof-raked until this morning. Shown is after Wayne took the snowblower to clear the giant mound of snow that came down from the roof. And look, hardly a dent was made!





Our vintage cement deer statue is completely buried!


I went snowshoeing in our woods yesterday and probably will again later. The pretty vintage wooden ones I posted the other day as for display.


More winter on the vintage maple syrup cans (which still contain syrup from the 60s!) on display in my sunroom.


The sun made a very brief break through the clouds before disappearing again.