D-Day

It’s been 74 years.

To children today, this war seems like ancient history.

For me, it was fought in my grandparents’ lifetime.

It was not uncommon during the World Wars to have some forge their age to enlist. So on those landing craft, you might have had some as young as 16. Naval shelling. Planes overhead dropping bombs. You’re about to become part of the largest seaborne invasion in history. You can only hope that others did their part.

We know about the bombardments. We know about the sabotage carried on by special forces and French resistance fighters. In addition to the paratroopers that dropped behind enemy lines, we also know about the troops that landed in gliders. Most of those glider pilots were trained in my hometown. (Silent Wings Museum)

There were also many others who ran campaigns of deception. Resistance by the German military could not be prevented, but it could be reduced. So many people were tasked with creating narratives for the Germans that would make invasion of the European continent appear to come from MANY directions.

While sidelined, General George Patton was still the number one feared opponent of the German High Command. He played his part to make the Germans think he was leading an entirely different invasion force.

A Spanish double agent got rich off the Germans because he faked a large intelligence gathering network. He also received the Iron Cross from Germany AND the MBE from the United Kingdom after D-Day.

Two Norwegian double agents broadcasts messages that led the Germans believe there would be an invasion in Norway!

Planning and strategy got the Allies to where they were on this morning 74 years ago. Now it was up to the grit and determination of those on the ground, dodging mines, avoiding bullets, and taking on the German military machine head on.

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Pancake Day!!!

This is a favorite day of mine. It’s known as Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, and Mardi Gras. Sure we all know about Mardi Gras. That annual carnival in New Orleans is legendary. (I’ve never personally been.)

A little background…

Since tomorrow is Lent, that means it is the first day of the fasting period remembering Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. So people often give up, or fast, something during Lent. Traditions of a Lent fast originated in the giving up of certain food.

Shrove Tuesday, the day before the start of Lent, is the day that you traditionally receive absolution from your sins before going in to the fasting period.

What often happened is that many cultures would gorge themselves on rich foods the day before the start of Lent, hence the name Fat Tuesday, which in French is Mardi Gras.

Where the pancakes come in is that pancakes are a food that allowed the cooking up of richer ingredients that a family would have at home.

A tradition that grew in Great Britain on Shrove Tuesday is racing while holding a skillet with a pancake in it. Depending on who tells you the rules, you must flip the pancake at least at the beginning and the end of the race. There is even an international competition that happens between the town of Liberal, Kansas and Olney, Buckinghamshire since 1950. Olney is the traditional birthplace of the legend behind the pancake races.

Sundays With Jack

(This is the beginning of a small set of shorts I am writing. This is not real. I had many more people in the towns I grew up in, and I never played in a roadside park. Instead, I played in an unused field.)

My name is Richard, but everyone in my hometown calls me Ricky.

Every Sunday, after praising the Lord in church, and after partaking in my mamma’s delicious Sunday lunch of barbecue brisket and potato salad, I return to the spot it all began. I go sit down at the broken down picnic table at the former roadside park. I spend my Sundays with Jack.

I originally met Jack when I was six years old. It was the first Sunday that my mamma told me to go outside and play after our lunch. She said she just wanted a chance to take a nap, but thought I needed the fresh air. As she’s shooing me out the front door, the only wondering in my mind was what I was going to do and where I was going to go. You see, I live in a town of about 5,500 people. When I was six, that number was a hair under 4,000. We didn’t have curbs along our street edges and flooding from heavy rains was controlled by bar ditches. We lived three blocks from the highway that went through the edge of town, and about one block from the main street that was paved with brick.

I decided to stroll down towards the highway. Just across that highway was a roadside park owned by our town. It was a place for a quick stop, empty the trash, relieve yourself, and maybe take a quick nap. But on a Sunday afternoon, all the travelers we had around had went on to Main Street and stopped at the diner. So there was little traffic for my six-year-old self to worry about when I ran across the highway.

It was in this park where I met Jack. Jack had sandy blonde hair, wore a pair of overalls with no shirt, and was barefooted. To see Jack, you’d think he was ripped from the pages of a Huckleberry Finn novel. However, in our town, you could find a few kids who dressed this way. I was pretty sure Jack lived on the farm just outside of town, adjacent to the roadside park. But I never asked if that was the case. Jack was the first of the two of us to talk, and he invited me to play.

We would play hide and go seek at first. With all the trees, hiding was pretty easy. Some Sundays when it was bone dry outside, Jack and I would use the bar ditch as a hiding place, too.

“Ricky, where are ya?!?” Jack would shout as he tried to find me. I was often up in the thick foliage of the trees. When Jack would get close to my tree, I couldn’t help but chuckle. Jack would hear me. I never won. However, we both had loads of fun.

After the first Sunday, I always was ready to go and play with Jack at the roadside park.

The Mountains

Safe to say, the mountains are my refreshment. As someone once said to me, you just sleep better in the mountains. I must still be seeking out the mountains. When I left for work this morning, I saw a scene reminiscent of being in Denver.

When you go from the east side of the Denver metro to the west, you come to the final valley before the Rocky Mountains rise to the skies. As you hit that point with the city no long spreading out in front of you, but below you, the Rockies are there to welcome you.

What I saw this morning on the plains of Texas was unfortunately not mountains. But it was an optical illusion that looked like mountains. There were clouds low to the horizon, with a separate set of clouds more above me. The sun was rising over the low clouds. The low clouds were a deep blue shade, similar to how real mountains look when they have no direct light to highlight their true features. For just a moment, before I got to the highway and turned north to the sights of metropolitan West Texas, I was transported.

Mother Nature can be so kind and cruel in one fell swoop! 😉

Nostalgia

I’m going to get to spend a few days this year at a place I went to every summer for awhile. It’s very possible if I were to make an accurate accounting of time, I would have spent no more than 2 months total in my lifetime. But it holds a dear place in my heart.

Camp Blue Haven has been a gem among the Sangre de Cristo mountains in New Mexico for more than half a century. It is a Christian camp that has hosted thousands over its lifetime. There are experiences I had there that I could have had at any summer camp I went to.

But this one holds some nostalgia for me. I made friends among the staff, counselors, teachers, and campers that I encountered there. To this day, even if I haven’t stayed in contact with some of them, that connection from CBH is enough to strike up a conversation.

There’s also the camp traditions with the songs and the events. They were memorable not because you did them, but because you did them every year.

I’m pretty sure when I stopped going to camp, I told my parents I didn’t want to go any more. As a teenager, that may have been true. But now, I can’t wait to go back.

Yellow Highlighter Moment

When was your last “Yellow Highlighter Moment”?

Hmmm?

What is it? Well, think about what a highlighter is used for. You use it to draw attention to something. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is meant to catch your eye.

So, when was your last Yellow Highlighter Moment?

No Laughing Matter

Being homeless is no laughing matter. While some who are homeless were responsible for their downfall, others were victims. Everyone in that situation can use a little help.

Around where I work my day job, it is not uncommon to see homeless and transients standing at a street corner with some sign in hand giving a Reader’s Digest description of their plight, all while requesting some assistance from good willed people passing by. In a situation like that, I would think humor is a double-edge sword. It can either help your cause greatly, or it can harm your efforts.

One man I saw on the way back from lunch today decided to try humor, and admittedly, I chuckled when I saw it. His sign said “She had the better lawyer!”

Best Burger

A new poll…

Best Burger

Now, I’ve tried about half of this list. All the burgers I have tried are good. To me, they are like comparing apples and oranges.

Speaking of orange, there is one I am particularly fond of. Number 6 on the poll, and number 1 in my heart! When you add those french fries and that addicting ketchup? Yum!

As far as this relates to my previous post, I’ve had no more than 10 burgers in the past 6 months. 🙂

It’s Obvious I Was Oblivious

My weight loss over the last six months was not purposefully started. That’s probably what made it so effective. But once I started to look at ways to enhance the effort through my diet, I became focused on numerous things I wasn’t before.

I’ve gone Paleo, at least in premise. You’re supposed to avoid legumes and processed grains as part of the diet. But, you are also allowed cheat meals 15% of the time. I’ve not avoided legumes or processed grains, and my cheat meals are more like 35% of the time.

Here’s what I have found. You don’t have to chose a diet plan, just be cognizant of certain things.

  • I weigh myself nearly every morning. If I have eaten ANYTHING past 10pm, good for me or not, I’ve put on weight.
  • Portion control is important. You can always eat again in another couple of hours if you’re that hungry. Think about what your parents said to you growing up. Wait for 15 minutes and see if you are still hungry before getting more food.
  • If you struggle with your weight, take note of the times you’ve put on weight and/or feel not as good as normal. Note what you ate in the last 24-48 hours. You may need to adjust amounts or drop all together certain types of food.
  • If you struggle with drinking water, try drinking tea. There are actually additional health benefits to tea. Plus, it gives you flavors. Also, if you need your tea to have any level of sweet, use honey and/or unprocessed sugar, but only in moderation.
  • If you struggle to handle multiple hurdles at the same time, gain a handle on your eating habits first. Turn those new eating patterns in to habits, then they will be second nature when you start to find useful exercise habits.

I’ve let my eating habits slip in the past few days. The scales said I’ve put on 4 pounds in three days, but I felt it before even getting on the scales. It’s obvious I was oblivious to what certain foods were doing to me in the past. Now that I am aware, I am hyper aware.

Right Of Way

The first intersection I go through every morning is a simple one. Two multi-lane roads intersection with full sets of traffic lights. I need to turn right at this intersection. The only time traffic law compels me to stop is if that light is red.

So I’m getting out once again and taking my son to school. As I’m approaching the light, it is green. However, there is a vehicle stopped at the intersection in the lane in front of me. Not being prepared to stop, I have to slam on my brakes. For those who might flip out about this, there was no close call, near miss, or anything of the sorts. Just me not happy.

I honk, and the driver of the car ahead of me sticks his hand out the window and makes a motion like he is telling me to simmer down. This sequence happens again two other times. After all the cars from the other side of the intersection turning left have gone, then he goes.

After getting to the next intersection, this car passes by me while I’m waiting on the red light and is STILL telling me to simmer. I’m thinking I wouldn’t have been there for him to do that had he just gone when he was supposed to.

At this point, I want to stew and grumble and complain on social media. But in the off case I was forgetting something, I go on Facebook and ask others to tell me what the right-of-way rules they remember are.

I’m still annoyed and perturbed, but at least vindicated.

And no, I would have never road raged on this guy. I prefer to avoid conflict unless absolutely necessary.