Saturday, April 23, 2011


Actually, I met the same hero twice in one week! Let me explain:

~ I was raised during the WWII era. My brothers served as civilians and in the military. My family enjoys hearing their stories and stories of people who also served - although they are often reluctant to tell them.

~ One major factor in encouraging our veterans to tell their lifetime experiences must be credited to Tom Brokaw who wrote The Greatest Generation (1998). Other encouragements, however belated, were the establishment of the WWII Memorial in Washington DC and the D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Each week, The Baxter Bulletin, my Arkansas newspaper, publishes a feature article telling the experiences of a local resident and WWII veteran.

On Monday, April 18, 2011, Bill Cantwell was the featured WWII veteran who served in Germany. He was at the Battle of the Bulge, was captured and was a prisoner of war. I was especially interested in his story because one of my brothers also served at the Battle of the Bulge - with a different, nontheless dramatic experience.... Cantwell, as his story is told, got separated from his unit and was captured and held as POW for approximately six months before the war in Europe came to its close. He related his military experiences without drama or fanfare - typical of most veterans' stories I have read.

~ On Wednesday, April 20th, I was invited to lunch at Pebble Creek Country Club where I chatted with people to my left and to my right, finally discovering I had been chatting with Bill Cantwell, the very same WWII veteran whose story I had read in the Monday edition of the Baxter Bulletin. I was surprised and honored to meet this endearing elderly gentleman and gentle hero.

~ Certainly I am a fan of The Greatest Generation becuase my family, my brothers in particular, were and are important members of that elite group-that generation that grew up in the United States during the Great Depression then served during World War II before returning home to build America into a superpower. Yes, they did. And most, as citizens or veterans, rarely mention their war experiences. Their stories are long overdue!

~If you are a member of the Greatest Generation and experienced the Great Depression, whether serving as civilian or in the military, what is your story? I want to know....

Monday, April 18, 2011


Here they come again - those big, noisy bugs that infiltrate the Ozarks and overwhelm our senses. Their last visit was in 1998 when they invaded Missouri and Arkansas by the millions - and they will return this year, according to the University of Missouri. ~ Be on the lookout for cicada nymphs. Most are golden brown with six prominent legs, gossamer gold wings and big red eyes. Early arrivals have been spotted. On April 13th on Facebook announced, "It's On. The first brood XIX Magicada cicada sightings." ~ Cicadas do not bite or sting in the true sense. They are just a nuisance with a mere six to eight weeks to perform difficult tasks to perpetuate their species. It's not all "live, laugh and love" for this insect. While the male cicadas sing and females lay eggs, they can cause damage to trees: oak, hickory, dogwood, apple, peach, elm, walnut and sycamore - but not conifer. Their task fulfilled, both the male and female expire while the eggs hatch and resulting nymphs fall to the ground where they will burrow deep to the roots of the trees - there to stay for 13 years. ~ Once cicadas emerge from their underground home, they climb their host tree and shed their exoskeleton. Renewed and refreshed, they live 'free' for a few weeks. Males begin singing almost immediately. Their song is a mating call - loud and incessant. As the heat of day rises, so does the volume of their song. Females like the singing enough to join the males, however briefly, and begin laying rows upon rows of tiny eggs before their love affair comes to its tragic end. ~ In Greek myth, Tithonus turns into a cicada after being granted immortality by Zeus. In Japan, the song of the cicada is used in film and television to represent summer, to carry connotations of re-birth and reincarnation, and the cicada is frequently the subject of haiku. In China the phrase 'to shed off the golden cicada skin' is the poetic name for the tactic of deception to escape danger. In Mexico the mariachi song "The Cicada" romanticizes the insect as a creature that sings until it dies. ~ At least some cultures have found a bright and positive side to these noisy intruders. Perhaps we Ozark-Americans can tolerate the cicada's pitiful plight for a few weeks knowing we won't see or hear them again for thirteen years. Or, we could start a new fashion trend of wearing ear-muffs during cicada season. Art crafters and culinary artists may want to add their creative expertise. Let me know how you plan to welcome the cicada this year....

Saturday, April 9, 2011



My four older brothers and one younger sister could readily recall childhood events as full-color motion picture shows. My own recollections are more like Brownie box camera snapshots - with some extensive blank spaces of time between them. Consequently, I thought my brothers were making up whoppers of stories or, at least, exaggerating as siblings often do.

~ In my adult years, long forgotten snapshot memories do occasionally surface, rather like an image coming into view as it developed in the darkroom. It would simply appear before me and shout "Surprise!"

~ One surprise recollection was related to my second or, probably, third birthday. On that day my Aunt Emma came to visit. I did not like her. She was big and fat and loud and bossy. She seemed to think she was more important than anyone else. She was so awful she made my mother cry! I figured out her meanness at an early age and stayed as far away from her as I could.

~ On this particular day, however, I was plunked into the high chair that usually stood in a corner of our dining room. Perhaps Aunt Emma needed my chair since all the family was gathered at the big round table as we did every evening for dinner. With everyone else seated, my mother would carry in hot dishes of food to serve her large brood, but on this day Mother carried in a huge, empty glass bowl which she set on the high chair tray in front of me. Aunt Emma, with great ceremony, began to open white paper bakery bags and slowly pour beautiful cookies into the empty glass bowl. She must have repeated the process with three or four bags until the bowl was filled to the top with cookies - my most favorite things in the world.

~ I was surely surprised and overwhelmed. I have always loved cookies - especially those big buttery ones that come from a really good bakery. Who could ask for a better birthday gift?

~ That cookie birthday is the only time I remember Aunt Emma involved in anything that brought pleasure to someone else. It was important to my mother that I always treat her with respect (and I did). Even remembering this birthday, however, I never did like Aunt Emma.

~ The simple joy of this childhood memory is a single snapshot of a frail, little girl, her arms wrapped around a giant glass bowl filled with cookies. It was Paradise - and I'm not exaggerating.

~ April 9, 2011. I won the EMERY AWARD for my story "Childhood Memories." Each month, members of TwinLakesWriters are invited to write a brief piece on an assigned topic which they then read for attendees who vote for their favorite presentation. The winning author is presented with the Emery Award - a hand-made wooden box containing a Red Canoe. I liken it to the Stanley Cup for hockey in that it travels with the winner until the next playoff. In this TwinLakesWriters organization, the Red Canoe floats on, each month, to the next writer and winner of the Emery Award. ~ Also see: & Nancy yTe ~

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The View through my KALEIDOSCOPE

I AM a 'collector.' I collect word, books, ink pots, feathers, flags, pinwheels, colorful things that flutter in a breeze and colored eggs of gemstones, wood or plaster. I collect dishes, and recipes, coffee cups and pop-up books, photographs and figurines . AND, I have a nice collection of kaleidoscopes.

KALEIDOSCOPES are a fascinating creation. Who invented them and when? I'd like to thank that person! While they can be a simple tube with mirrors and confetti, they are like life - ever changing in shape and color, design and intensity. Like life, one must always look forward as you can never turn a kaleidoscope back to a previous time or image. One is allowed only to move on to the next shifting of the light and time to a new minute, image, hour, performance, day and experience. A Kaleidoscope can deliver relaxation, happiness, peace and beauty to the beholder.

It makes no great difference whether is is an inexpensive cardboard tube reflecting a few glass beads or a cherrywood cylinder directed toward a turntable music box arranged with spectacular gemstones. Each time I raise a kaleidoscope to my eye and peer into the magic tube, I think, "This one is my most favorite." There are so many of them in my collection, I cannot recall where each came from, or when or why or how. Nonetheless, each is my favorite the moment I reach for it, expecting to be awed once again by the magic it contains. The image in each scope is like a beautiful story with heartfelt words. It is like a gift of color and light; like watching the Fourth of July fireworks or viewing the Aurora Borealis. Although it is a trick with mirrors, it reflects the abundance of beauty in this world. Just pick up a kaleidoscope and peer into it. What do you see... ? ?