December 30, 2015

Holiday Clean-up: A Poem

with apologies to Dr. Seuss

Cleaning up after the holiday
Isn’t quite as much fun,
As on the day
When the decorations were strung. 

There was my family, all spruced, in the den,
With an eggnog toast, and a cheer, “Let’s begin.”
We set about bedecking every pillar and post,
Window and mantle - 
With ribbon, wreath, Santa, and candle.

By the end of the evening
The tree was aglitter.
The windows were glowing
WIth the candlesticks flicker.

The children were happy 
Mom and Pop, too.
To think we did all this.
You! You! and you!

But, then, the week after
Rolled quickly ‘round.
No time to un-trim.
We headed to town.

To return all our presents.
To see a quick show.
What? It’s the first of January
The trimming must go.

Undo each ribbon. Undo each bow.
Untie the wreaths
Get that tree in tow.
It’s out to the trash bin
Arms loaded, we go.

Away go the boxes.
The cards and the letters.
Out comes our list of “Things to do better.”
Resolutions. Affirmations.
Declarations. Proclamations.

Where’s that old diet?
By jiminy, we’ll try it!
It’s a New Year we’re facing. And face it we will.
Without eggnog. Or fudge. Or even a pill.
We’ll face it together -
Oh, taste buds be still!
Until, oh no, here comes the BILL.
Or, as in our case, it’s many - 
Giving the post man exercise aplenty.

At my house we’re still undoing the fun
Dusting and washing and rising and wiping
Trinkets and dishes and goblets, and griping,
“Next year, it’s a vacation we’ll take.

By Amtrak. Or horseback. Or roller skate!”
Who cares how we do it, we plan and we plot.
Next year it’s to the tropics.
Anywhere that's HOT.

But whatever we do, one thing is clear.
We’re wishing you and yours a VERY HAPPY

God bless!

December 17, 2015

Christmas photos and newsletter Dec. 2015

Merry Christmas!

My tree - 2015

The is the newsletter I sent to family and friends this year. Hope you enjoy reading what's going on with my life as I consider all who read my blog friends!
God bless you this holiday season.

Christmas Cookies
With decorating help from the kiddies

Hello Folks:

It’s been a few years since I’ve written. I hope everyone is well. It’s hard to believe 2016 is around the corner. I’m excited our family will be coming here for Christmas. I’m ready - just last minute cards to do and some presents to wrap.

Ray’s been gone for two years and I’ve experienced many adjustments and changes. I miss him terribly but realized after he was gone how very ill he was the last two years. My own health has improved greatly in the last year. Caregiving isn’t an easy job.
I moved to a condo in last year. I’ve reunited with friends and my church. I’m in a women’s Bible study group and a writing group. I still attend Hocking Hills writer’s group monthly, my forever buddies.

A few of our Hocking Hills 
team: Barb, Jill, Tina.

I do book signings and workshops occasionally. Love going to Tamarack in Beckley, WV. My novel Vada Faith, Ezra and Other Stories, a book of short stories, and Dear Anne: Love Letters from Nam, a short story, are available on I'm hard at work on Missing: Sweet Baby James, sequel to Vada Faith, after taking time off in the last two years to regroup.

Book signing at Tamarack
Always a good time.

The big news is our youngest grandchild - Jill and Jason’s son - Austin, is ten years old. 

Tanner, Chase and Mackenzie, the triplets, are 14, growing up way too fast. Jill and Jason moved to Ft. Knox, KY in July. I love having them closer. I’ve gone to watch Tanner and Chase play basketball. They’re really good at it! And, they tower over me! Time flies.
Lisa and Jon are still in Hillsboro. Their son Daniel is living in Nashville. He works full time for Apple computer and does photography for special events. Their daughter Jillian is a student at the University of Cincinnati and does some modeling. 
Susan and Gary bought a new home and sold their farm. Samantha graduated from the police academy, from boot camp Army reserves, and from AIT school (military police). She’s a deputy in the sheriff’s department for Pickaway County. Steven is in his second year at Ohio University at Athens. I’m proud of all of them! 
My brother in law, Brownie, and his daughter, Deb, and I took a train trip thru WV to the mountains in the fall. The train cars were from the 50’s. A really fun trip.

All I miss about our home in the country is living near Susan and her family and the friends we made while there. Especially our neighbors, the Clarks.

Please know while I haven’t kept in touch, I’ve thought of you often. I’ll never forget our long distance family and friends, who’ve been there for both Raymond and I over the years. I wish you all the best. Love and Blessings!

Lighting a candle for Raymond at
La Salette Festival of Lights

Attleboro, MA
What an incredible experience

The Celebration of the birth of our Lord and Savior

December 7, 2015

Pearl Harbor: My Visit

Memorial at Pearl Harbor

Dec. 7, 1941: The memories sear, the blame washes away

"War! Oahu Bombed By Japanese Planes." A few summers ago at Pearl Harbor, I read the shocking headlines from a copy of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, dated Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. I was waiting in line to board a tour boat to go to the USS Arizona Memorial. Finally, moving toward an empty boat, I noted that most of the people on the crowded platform were Japanese.
On the short ride across the harbor, I listened to a guide describe the events of that fateful day. As the small boat approached the white concrete building, the guide concluded, "The battleship Arizona still rests at the bottom of the harbor in 38 feet of water just eight feet below the water's surface. The memorial is an enclosed bridge that spans the sunken hull, but touches no part of the ship itself. Oil will continue to seep from the battleship for many more years."
When I stepped off the tour boat, I saw the American flag flying over a small part of the ship that is visible above the water.
Inside the memorial, I was swept back to the day of the disastrous bombing. From the walls, pictures of the battleship in flames and sinking, looked down at me and seared themselves on my mind. I couldn't appreciate the mementos salvaged from the ship when I knew that 1,177 men were entombed below in the battleship's blasted hulk.
A loudspeaker was effectively re-creating the day with the sound of bombs exploding and chaotic outcries.
As I stared out an opening in the wall at the calm blue water, I was lost in thought for a few minutes. Then black oil gurgled to the water's surface. Though the temperature was 85, I turned away, chilled.
From the middle of the memorial, I could see the ship through a large opening in the floor. I thought of the many men and all the ambitions and dreams that had gone down with the ship. I thought of the mothers, fathers, wives and children who had been left behind with the burden of unanswerable questions.
I wondered how the men would feel if they knew the memorial was filled with Japanese men and women. Silently, I suffered their indignation.
In the shrine room, where the names of the dead men are engraved on a marble wall, I stood in reverence, trying to wish away the horrors of the war.
Nearby, a Japanese gentleman, left his group and gravely studied the wall. Over the speaker, the names of the men were slowly being read. Almost ceremoniously, the Japanese man removed an orchid lei from his neck and placed it next to several wreaths on a marble platform. He backed away and was lost in the crowd.
Aboard the tour boat for the return trip, I tried to sort out my emotions. Before my visit, I'd thought of the memorial at Pearl Harbor as another historic place to visit. Yet, I'd been tremendously touched by the harsh realities of war and by the wasted lives and destruction.
Why, then, did I feel the need to condemn? Could I blame the Japanese man who had humbly offered the lei? Or the Japanese couple who sat on the boat in front of me? Or the somber young Japanese woman on my right?

With tears in my eyes, I realized I couldn't blame anyone. I remembered Hiroshima.

@copyright Barbara A. Whittington

Beautiful Hawaii

This was written years ago after my visit to Pearl Harbor. My thoughts on war haven't changed.  Too many lives lost and not enough gained. I pray for our military today and for our veterans for all that they have lost. I pray for world peace. And may God bless us all, no matter who we are or where we are.