23 February 2013

Brothers in Arms

Brothers in Arms. Literally. Or at least as literally as you're likely to get with something like that. During World War II, my dad and his brother, my uncle Willie, were both in the Army.

On July 14, 1944, Willie was someplace in the Pacific. He was 25 years old, and had been in the Army for a year and a half. My dad was 23. He had just finished basic training at Camp McCain, Mississippi, and would shortly be deployed to Germany.

This is the v-mail, complete with censor's stamp, that Willie sent to my dad. My brother found it 67 years later, when he was cleaning my dad's office after he died.

Dear Ez,
As I sit here, with my pen in one hand and the other busily engaged in warding off all manner of insect life, I wonder: If you and I will ever do any of those many things we planned to do. If our interests and desires will still be as similar as they always were. If you will be able to wear my clothes and I yours. If I will still remain in the category of the "wolf of all wolves." If Gordon will still be as cynical and disgusted with mankind. If Red will continue to collect the classics and make music his heart's ease in life. If that girl from the flower shop will be as appealing as ever. If the Trianon will still be a hangout on Wednesday night for the Spevaks'. If this damned war will cease and I can give up letter writing and my thoughts see their answers. As all bad things, so this – it ceases.
Your brud,

14 February 2013

It's Working

If a picture is worth 1000 words, Tuffy’s latest photo essay put her 17,000 words ahead of me, blog-wise, so I guess I’d better get cracking. Not that we’re competitive or anything.

Nothing much going on around here lately, as far as I know. Not that anyone would tell me if there was.

I’ve been using some really cool online utilities to tidy up my family history database, a long-term project which is both extremely tedious, and very satisfying, in an OCD kind of way. And last weekend Scarecrow helped me scan some of the documents my brother unearthed in my mom and dad’s house, so I finally get to look at them. A few answers, and a lot of new questions.

I saw the video the library put together from the stuff they recorded the other day. It’s not as horrible as I had feared. Scarecrow looks presentable, and the whippets are pretty darned cute.

03 February 2013

A Marmot Moment

Talk about What I Should've Said… I stewed for ridiculous length of time, trying to think of a title for my groundhog's day post. I didn't come up with what I was after until this morning, a day late and a dollar short, as usual. I guess I could've gone back and changed it, but that seems like cheating, somehow.

I do that a lot. I don't mean cheating; I mean not being able to find a word when I want to use it. Long before I had any other symptoms that were clearly MS-related, I had trouble coming up with words. I'd mentally construct a sentence intending to use a particular word, but when I got there, the word was nowhere to be found. It was the weirdest thing.

When I mentioned it to various neurologists, they'd look at me like I'd grown two heads. I've since learned that it's a fairly common cognitive problem among people with MS. So it's not just me.

You'd think it would've really cramped my style as a writer, but fortunately technical documentation for network software uses a pretty limited vocabulary. For anything else, I could usually come up with the word I was after eventually. It just may not happen until the next day. You skip that bit and come back to it later. It could be a bit awkward in conversation, but manageable otherwise. Not a huge problem, as problems go.

But it still pisses me off.

02 February 2013

Marmot Madness

Meat's in the cupboard and butter's in the churn,
Meat's in the cupboard and butter's in the churn,
If that ain't groundhog, I'll be durned.
Old groundhog
As a result of the ADHD I seem to have acquired upon my retirement from my day job, a casual interest in Candlemas took me off on an investigation of, among other really interesting things, wildlife weather prediction, the presentation of Jesus at the Temple, activity patterns of Marmota monax, purification of the Virgin Mary, the meaning of  'Imbolc', the relative advantages of beeswax vs. tallow candles, and old-timey music. I don't know how this always happens.

Marmots are really cool little creatures, though. I don't know why they're called woodchucks, but whistle-pig or land-beaver conjures up quite a picture, doesn't it? Back in my biologist days, I remember being (fleetingly) envious of people whose research subject was diurnal, and active right out in the open. You could just sit there and watch them. Would that be cool, or what? Of course, taking a blood sample from a nocturnal, secretive, 1 ounce deer mouse was a lot easier than wrestling with an unhappy 13 pound ground squirrel with incisors like, well, like a rodent. I'm doing it again, aren't I?

Anyway, here we are. Halfway between the winter solstice and the vernal equinox. Forty-five days, 5 hours, 30 minutes, and 30 seconds (and counting) till spring. As much as I like marmots, their take on today's weather won't get it here any quicker. It'll get here when it gets here. In 45 days, and change.
Little piece of cornbread layin' on the shelf,
Little piece of cornbread layin' on the shelf,
If you want to hear more you can sing it yourself,
Old groundhog.