Monday, May 27, 2013

A Pacifist on Memorial Day

Memorial Day Avenue of Flags at Oswego Cemetery
Memorial Day.  It is a bizarre holiday for a pacifist.  My father proudly served in WWII and remained in the military reserves to retire a full bird Colonel.  Which, to me was always about as twisted as could be since he was a very humble mild-mannered man.

But, he 100% believed in 'his' war, in his country, and that what our politicians tell us is truth.  In a nutshell - he would always drink the political Kool Aid.

Then, along comes this PITA daughter who was a kid during the Vietnam War, who doubts before believing, who feels strongly that if we would spend our military budget on helping people there would be food, housing and healthcare for everyone on the planet.....

My Dad's Flag, Colonel Robert Carpenter
Yes, there was a chasm between us.

But having said that, I hold nothing against my dad - I'm proud of his accomplishments and of all who have served the country.  And time may tell if one side is right or wrong - we all have our beliefs  and somehow, fighting over whether it is right to fight never seemed like something to pick up a gun and  - well, fight over.

The family wasn't always so smart!
Every year on this day I pop in my car and drive to the cemetery west of town where nearly 300  full-sized flags line the roads - honoring the Oswego men (and I think at this point it is only men) who have served and passed away.  There is a flag for my father and one for my grandfather.  At their graves are smaller flags - not only for those who purchased the large flags but for everyone buried there who served.  The cemetery is a riot of red, white and blue.

And, then, taking in the sight of all these flags and thinking about what that means - I come to the grave of John.  Dirty laundry. REAL dirty.  But, it is waving out there for all to see.  John Carpenter  - 1832 - 1908.  Probably the only Confederate flag flown at the cemetery belongs to my relative.  Great great grandfather, perhaps?  I'm tempted to tear the flag down - perhaps burn it  in its place - but out of respect for 'ole John I leave it be.  I think the story goes that he wasn't just a Confederate, but a body guard to Jeff Davis.  sigh…….

So, in celebration of the day - I share with you the flags - even the dirty little secret one.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Lure of Tornadoes

Arayo in our tornado shelter.  She will never enjoy this season.

How do I write this without sounding heartless?  Maybe if I start with how sad I am at the destruction and lives lost today in Moore, OK.  The tornado that roared through that town, taking out two schools and killing dozens - I hate that.  I still feel a sense of unease when I go to Joplin and drive the streets that two years ago were leveled when a tornado went through their town.

Still, there are those among us who love tornado season - though, it is with a sense of respect for this bit of nature and of sensitivity to the losses these monsters produce.

But, I admit it - I am one of them - I love tornado season.  I LOVE it.  I missed it when I lived other places.  There is an excitement when the weather changes, when rain drives in sheets, and the thunder and lighting battle in the night.  You can't really explain it to people who aren't from here.  There is a change in the air.  The sky often turns this strange yellow/green…..  There is often the quiet before the storm.

Then there is the social aspect.  Neighbors reach out to neighbors.  "Have you heard we are under a warning?"  "My basement is ready if you need a place to hide."

Arayo will admit to not sharing my love of this season.  To her there is a feeling that we are no longer in control.  She senses the danger.  She needs a hug and wishes it would all just stop.  I hold her a while, then wrap her in a t-shirt so she feels she's being hugged.  I'm not sure if it helps.

Today I cleared out the floor of a closet in the center of my house.  On further reflection I decided that perhaps the 30 pound camera and metal case on the upper shelf in there might need a better home.  No sense taking shelter from a storm only to be killed by falling camera gear.  

When the weather kicks up the phone starts ringing "do you realize we are under a warning?" I, of course, rush outside to see what's up - until the limbs on the trees bend to the ground…..  

Today the sirens actually went off in town.  I'm suspicious.  From what I could tell, they didn't sound until we'd been lifted from a warning to a watch - so I have to wonder when they really should have fired off and why they sounded at all today.  I'm less than trusting of this warning system.  But, it let me try out my hidey hole.  

Sharing it with clothes, a computer and a 100 pound dog - it was hot, cramped. I had NO cell phone reception.  i wasn't anxious to stay long.

Arayo had no problem with the closet.  In fact, she went in before me and stayed long after I was gone - content to wait in a clothes padded cave than rather than with me near a window.

We are probably in for more of this weather.  Excitement, terror.  It makes up for the otherwise rather flat existence that is Kansas.