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A Graduation Address

Watch Shonda Rhimes’s Wonderfully Candid Dartmouth Commencement Speech

My daughter and I share stuff back and forth. Today when I opened my mail, this was waiting for me. Yes I know, a lengthy read. but worthy to be read by those going forward in this world of ours. Take ten minutes or so and read it. If you know of a young one out there going forth in the world, share it. If you think it worthy, don’t thank me, thank my daughter, that would be our first born, Kathryn. She has that uncanny ability to motivate people, mentor our youth and inspire many.

I’ve also read somewhere that going more than 12-1,600 words, you tend to lose your audience. I apologize for that, however, this is what the lady said, and what I’m sharing. Didn’t someone once say ‘Go forth and multiply”?

By Lindsey Weber

https://www.vulture.com/2014/06/watch-shonda-rhimes-commencement-address.html

I share with you. Shonda Rhimes gave Dartmouth’s commencement address on Sunday, noting to the sea of students that she was worried that she might “pass out or die or poop my pants” midway. But! She made it — imparting much general wisdom and some added tips on being someone whom many people assume effortlessly “does it all.” (The secret? “You don’t.”)

Her speech begins at 1:41, and you can read a full transcript below.

President Hanlon, faculty, staff, honored guests, parents, students, families and friends—good morning and congratulations to the Dartmouth graduating class of 2014!

So.

This is weird.

Me giving a speech. In general, I do not like giving speeches. Giving a speech requires standing in front of large groups of people while they look at you and it also requires talking. I can do the standing part OK. But you looking and me talking … I am not a fan. I get this overwhelming feeling of fear. Terror, really. Dry mouth, heartbeats superfast, everything gets a little bit slow motion. Like I might pass out. Or die. Or poop my pants or something. I mean, don’t worry. I’m not going to pass out or die or poop my pants. Mainly because just by telling you that it could happen, I have somehow neutralized it as an option. Like as if saying it out loud casts some kind of spell where now it cannot possibly happen now. Vomit. I could vomit. See. Vomiting is now also off the table. Neutralized it. We’re good.

Anyway, the point is. I do not like to give speeches. I’m a writer. I’m a TV writer. I like to write stuff for other people to say. I actually contemplated bringing Ellen Pompeo or Kerry Washington here to say my speech for me … but my lawyer pointed out that when you drag someone across state lines against their will, the FBI comes looking for you, so…

I don’t like giving speeches, in general, because of the fear and terror. But this speech? This speech, I really did not want to give.

A Dartmouth Commencement speech? Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

Look, it would be fine if this were, 20 years ago. If it were back in the day when I graduated from Dartmouth. Twenty-three years ago, I was sitting right where you are now. And I was listening to Elizabeth Dole speak. And she was great. She was calm and she was confident. It was just … different. It felt like she was just talking to a group of people. Like a fireside chat with friends. Just Liddy Dole and like 9,000 of her closest friends. Because it was 20 years ago. And she was just talking to a group of people.

Now? Twenty years later? This is no fireside chat. It’s not just you and me. This speech is filmed and streamed and tweeted and uploaded. NPR has like, a whole site dedicated to Commencement speeches. A whole site just about commencement speeches. There are sites that rate them and mock them and dissect them. It’s weird. And stressful. And kind of vicious if you’re an introvert perfectionist writer who hates speaking in public in the first place.

When President Hanlon called me—and by the way, I would like to thank President Hanlon for asking me way back in January, thus giving me a full six months of terror and panic to enjoy. When President Hanlon called me, I almost said no. Almost.

Dry mouth. Heartbeats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

But I’m here. I am gonna do it. I’m doing it. You know why?

Because I like a challenge. And because this year I made myself a promise that I was going to do the stuff that terrifies me. And because, 20-plus years ago when I was trudging uphill from the River Cluster through all that snow to get to the Hop for play rehearsal, I never imagined that I would one day be standing here, at the Old Pine lectern. Staring out at all of you. About to throw down on some wisdom in the Dartmouth Commencement address.

So, you know, yeah. Moments.

Also, I’m here because I really, really wanted some EBAs.

OK.

I want to say right now that every single time someone asked me what I was going to talk about in this speech, I would boldly and confidently tell them that I had all kinds wisdom to share. I was lying. I feel wildly unqualified to give you advice. There is no wisdom here. So all I can do is talk about some stuff that could maybe be useful to you, from one Dartmouth grad to another. Some stuff that won’t ever show up in a Meredith Grey voiceover or a Papa Pope monologue. Some stuff I probably shouldn’t be telling you here now because of the uploading and the streaming and the tweeting. But I am going to pretend that it is 20 years ago. That it’s just you and me. That we’re having a fireside chat. Screw the outside world and what they think. I’ve already said “poop” like five times already anyway … things are getting real up in here.

OK, wait. Before I talk to you. I want to talk to your parents. Because the other thing about it being 20 years later is that I’m a mother now. So I know some things, some very different things. I have three girls. I’ve been to the show. You don’t know what that means, but your parents do. You think this day is all about you. But your parents… the people who raised you … the people who endured you … they potty trained you, they taught you to read, they survived you as a teenager, they have suffered 21 years and not once did they kill you. This day … you call it your graduation day. But this day is not about you. This is their day. This is the day they take back their lives, this is the day they earn their freedom. This day is their Independence Day. So, parents, I salute you. And as I have an eight-month-old, I hope to join your ranks of freedom in 20 years!

OK. So here comes the real deal part of the speech, or you might call it, Some Random Stuff Some Random Alum Who Runs a TV Show Thinks I Should Know Before I Graduate:

You ready?

When people give these kinds of speeches, they usually tell you all kinds of wise and heartfelt things. They have the wisdom to impart. They have lessons to share. They tell you: Follow your dreams. Listen to your spirit. Change the world. Make your mark. Find your inner voice and make it sing. Embrace failure. Dream. Dream and dream big. As a matter of fact, dream and don’t stop dreaming until all of your dreams come true.

I think that’s crap.

I think a lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing.

The dreamers. They stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly. And they start a lot of sentences with “I want to be …” or “I wish.”

“I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.”

And they dream of it. The buttoned-up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams, and the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. Maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girlfriend or your mother. And it feels really good. You’re talking about it, and you’re planning it. Kind of. You are blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing. Right? I mean, that’s what Oprah and Bill Gates did to get successful, right?

No.

Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.

So, Lesson One, I guess is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok, and go. Right now. I’m serious.

You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.

I did not dream of being a TV writer. Never, not once when I was here in the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, did I say to myself, “Self, I want to write TV.”

You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. That was my dream. I blue sky’ed it like crazy. I dreamed and dreamed. And while I was dreaming, I was living in my sister’s basement. Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI. Anyway, there I was in that basement, and I was dreaming of being Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison. And guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up. So one day I was sitting in that basement and I read an article that said—it was in The New York Times—and it said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought I could dream about being Toni Morrison, or I could do.

At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I had no stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

Lesson Two. Lesson two is that tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you.

When I graduated from Dartmouth that day in 1991, when I was sitting right where you are and I was staring up at Elizabeth Dole speaking, I will admit that I have no idea what she was saying. Could n’t even listen to her. Not because I was overwhelmed or emotional or any of that. But because I had a serious hangover. Like, an epic painful hangover because (and here is where I apologize to President Hanlon because I know that you are trying to build a better and more responsible Dartmouth and I applaud you and I admire you and it is (very necessary) but I was really freaking drunk the night before. And the reason I’d been so drunk the night before, the reason I’d done upside down margarita shots at Bones Gate was because I knew that after graduation, I was going to take off my cap and gown, my parents were going to pack my stuff in the car and I was going to go home and probably never come back to Hanover again. And even if I did come back, it wouldn’t matter because it wouldn’t be the same because I didn’t live here anymore.

On my graduation day, I was grieving.

My friends were celebrating. They were partying. They were excited. So happy. No more school, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks. And I was like, are you freaking kidding me? You get all the fro‑yo you want here! The gym is free. The apartments in Manhattan are smaller than my suite in North Mass. Who cared if there was no place to get my hair done? All my friends are here. I have a theatre company here. I was grieving. I knew enough about how the world works, enough about how adulthood plays out, to be grieving.

Here’s where I am going to embarrass myself and make you all feel maybe a little bit better about yourselves. I literally lay down on the floor of my dorm room and cried while my mother packed up my room. I refused to help her. Like, hell no I won’t go. I nonviolent-protested leaving here. Like, went limp like a protestor, only without the chanting—it was really pathetic. If none of you lie down on a dirty hardwood floor and cry today while your mommy packs up your dorm room, you are already starting your careers out ahead of me. You are winning.

But here’s the thing. The thing I really felt like I knew was that the real world sucks. And it is scary. College is awesome. You’re special here. You’re in the Ivy League, you are at the pinnacle of your life’s goals at this point—your entire life up until now has been about getting into some great college and then graduating from that college. And now, today, you have done it. The moment you get out of college, you think you are going to take the world by storm. All doors will be opened to you. It’s going to be laughter and diamonds and soirees left and right.

What really happens is that, to the rest of the world, you are now at the bottom of the heap. Maybe you’re an intern, possibly a low-paid assistant. And it is awful. The real world, it sucked so badly for me. I felt like a loser all of the time. And more than a loser? I felt lost.

Which brings me to clarify lesson number two.

Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you. But don’t be an asshole.

Here’s the thing. Yes, it is hard out there. But hard is relative. I come from a middle-class family, my parents are academics, I was born after the civil rights movement, I was a toddler during the women’s movement, I live in the United States of America, all of which means I’m allowed to own my freedom, my rights, my voice, and my uterus; and I went to Dartmouth and I earned an Ivy League degree.

The lint in my navel that accumulated while I gazed at it as I suffered from feeling lost about how hard it was to not feel special after graduation … that navel lint was embarrassed for me.

Elsewhere in the world, girls are harmed simply because they want to get an education. Slavery still exists. Children still die from malnutrition. In this country, we lose more people to handgun violence than any other nation in the world. Sexual assault against women in America is pervasive and disturbing and continues at an alarming rate.

So yes, tomorrow may suck for you—as it did for me. But as you stare at the lint in your navel, have some perspective. We are incredibly lucky. We have been given a gift. An incredible education has been placed before us. We ate all the fro-yo we could get our hands on. We skied. We had EBAs at 1 a.m. We built bonfires and got frostbite and had all the free treadmills. We beer-ponged our asses off. Now it’s time to pay it forward.

Find a cause you love. It’s OK to pick just one. You are going to need to spend a lot of time out in the real world trying to figure out how to stop feeling like a lost loser, so one cause is good. Devote some time every week to it.

Oh. And while we are discussing this, let me say a thing. A hashtag is not helping. #yesallwomen #takebackthenight #notallmen #bringbackourgirls #StopPretendingHashtagsAreTheSameAsDoingSomething

Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag myself into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Dr. King. A hashtag does not change anything. It’s a hashtag. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing on your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show. I do it all the time. For me, it’s Game of Thrones.

Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it’s good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. Don’t be an asshole.

Lesson number three.

So you’re out there, and you’re giving back and you’re doing, and it’s working. And life is good. You are making it. You’re a success. And it’s exciting and it’s great. At least it is for me. I love my life. I have three TV shows at work and I have three daughters at home. And it’s all amazing, and I am truly happy. And people are constantly asking me, how do you do it?

And usually, they have this sort of admiring and amazed tone.

Shonda, how do you do it all?

Like I’m full of magical magic and special wisdom-ness or something.

How do you do it all?

And I usually just smile and say like, “I’m really organized.” Or if I’m feeling slightly kindly, I say, “I have a lot of help.”

And those things are true. But they also are not true.

And this is the thing that I really want to say. To all of you. Not just to the women out there. Although this will matter to you women a great deal as you enter the work force and try to figure out how to juggle work and family. But it will also matter to the men, who I think increasingly are also trying to figure out how to juggle work and family. And frankly, if you aren’t trying to figure it out, men of Dartmouth, you should be. Fatherhood is being redefined at a lightning-fast rate. You do not want to be a dinosaur.

So women and men of Dartmouth: As you try to figure out the impossible task of juggling work and family and you hear over and over and over again that you just need a lot of help or you just need to be organized or you just need to try just a little bit harder … as a very successful woman, a single mother of three, who constantly gets asked the question “How do you do it all?” For once I am going to answer that question with 100 percent honesty here for you now. Because it’s just us. Because it’s our fireside chat. Because somebody has to tell you the truth.

Shonda, how do you do it all?

The answer is this: I don’t.

Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life.

If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am probably missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the tradeoff. That is the Faustian bargain one makes with the devil that comes with being a powerful working woman who is also a powerful mother. You never feel a hundred percent OK; you never get your sea legs; you are always a little nauseous. Something is always lost.

Something is always missing.

And yet. I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. I want that example set for them. I like how proud they are when they come to my offices and know that they come to Shondaland. There is a land and it is named after their mother. In their world, mothers run companies. In their world, mothers own Thursday nights. In their world, mothers work. And I am a better mother for it. The woman I am because I get to run Shondaland, because I get write all day, because I get to spend my days making things up, that woman is a better person—and a better mother. Because that woman is happy. That woman is fulfilled. That woman is whole. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who didn’t get to do this all day long. I wouldn’t want them to know the me who wasn’t doing.

Lesson Number Three is that anyone who tells you they are doing it all perfectly is a liar.

OK.

I fear I’ve scared you or been a little bit bleak, and that was not my intention. It is my hope that you run out of here, excited, leaning forward, into the wind, ready to take the world by storm. That would be so very fabulous. For you to do what everyone expects of you. For you to just go be exactly the picture of hardcore Dartmouth awesome.

My point, I think, is that it is OK if you don’t. My point is that it can be scary to graduate. That you can lie on the hardwood floor of your dorm room and cry while your mom packs up your stuff. That you can have an impossible dream to be Toni Morrison that you have to let go of. That every day you can feel like you might be failing at work or at your home life. That the real world is hard.

And yet, you can still wake up every single morning and go, “I have three amazing kids and I have created work I am proud of, and I absolutely love my life and I would not trade it for anyone else’s life ever.”

You can still wake up one day and find yourself living a life you never even imagined dreaming of.

My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard. And I ended up building an empire out of my imagination. So my dreams? Can suck it.

You can wake up one day and find that you are interesting and powerful and engaged. You can wake up one day and find that you are a doer.

You can be sitting right where you are now. Looking up at me. Probably—hopefully, I pray for you—hung over. And then 20 years from now, you can wake up and find yourself in the Hanover Inn full of fear and terror because you are going to give the Commencement speech. Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything in slow motion. Pass out, die, poop.

Which one of you will it be? Which member of the 2014 class is going to find themselves standing up here? Because I checked and it is pretty rare for an alum to speak here. It’s pretty much just me and Robert Frost and Mr. Rogers, which is crazy awesome.

Which one of you is going to make it up here? I really hope that it’s one of you. Seriously.

When it happens, you’ll know what this feels like.

Dry mouth. Heart beats so, so fast. Everything moves in slow motion.

Graduates, every single one of you, be proud of your accomplishments. Make good on your diplomas.

You are no longer students. You are no longer works in progress. You are now citizens of the real world. You have a responsibility to become a person worthy of joining and contributing to society. Because who you are today … that’s who you are.

So be brave.

Be amazing.

Be worthy.

And every single time you get a chance?

Stand up in front of people.

Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.

Go ahead and have the dry mouth.

Let your heart beat so, so fast.

Watch everything move in slow motion.

So what?

You what?

You pass out, you die, you poop?

No.

And this is really the only lesson you’ll ever need to know …

You take it in.

You breathe this rare air.

You feel alive.

You be yourself.

You truly finally always be yourself.

Thank you. Good luck.

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Snow

As many of you know we have Grands and Greats. The Greats live in Brunssum, Netherlands with our granddaughter Samantha & husband Zed. Both the kids, as we still call them are USAFA grads and Captains in the USAF. Presently they are stationed at a NATO base in Geilenkirchen, Germany,  which is part of the Allied Joint Forces Command, it lies at the Tri-border of Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Image result for map of germany, netherlands, belgium border
The Tri-border area.


Zed is a pilot and Sam is a support services officer.

470th Air Base Squadron

This young couple have four (4) children, ages five (5) and under. Mia, Ana, Dax and, Zoe. Since we are the Greats from Maryland in their lives, they are of course, beautiful, smart and wonderful children. Some would say a grand bag of chips.

They woke up today, Sunday, 16 December, 2018 to snow. Samantha posted on FB the following outbursts from the kids.

Until this morning I always thought one of the best things was to wake up to a snow scene. Now the best thing is to listen to my kids wake up to a snow scene.

Mia- oh my goodness, guys you’re never going to believe this
Ana – Oh my hay
Dax – who brought the snow
Zoe – woah
Mia – this is so butiful
Ana – I want to make a snow angel
Dax – how did this get here
Zoe – snow

The Kids back in October: 

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The father of Samantha is also a world traveler and is also in Europe at this moment. You know the man if you follow the Rooster regularly. “Where in the world is Jeff Berthiaume”? Well, he’s departed a recent stay in Sofia, Bulgaria and is now in Bucharest, Romania and has sent these photos along. 

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Jeff will hopefully return to the states later this week and get to enjoy the holidays at home. When he’s away I’m in charge of taking care of Attack Dog Lady Liberty. Like the military, she keeps things safe and secure. Not a K-9 you’d like to sneak up on in the dark, if you know what eye (dang, did it again) mean. 

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Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

Cereal or Serial ?

In yesterday’s Blog, I used the word cereal, as in Serial Killer. Just as an FYI, it was done purposely. You see, the visitors were coming in the morning hours when one might eat cereal. My smart ass daughter had stated, ” how do you know they’re not Serial Killers”?

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Over some years now of following Anne’s blog and viewing the Mehrling family and friends, I was quite sure Serial Killers they weren’t. The only thing they could be found guilty of was their van, which of course failed them once again. Perhaps it should have stayed at the funeral home where it became disabled not so long ago.

So, earlier today while shopping with her mother and, my daughter, granddaughter Abby decided to put me on display for the cereal reference.

At least they were Heart Health Cheerios.

IMG_1208

Cereal Has Roots in Roman Myth

The Roman goddess Ceres, the equivalent of the Greek Demeter, was a calm goddess who didn’t take part in the quarrels of the other gods. Her particular responsibility was the food-giving plants, and for that reason, the food grains came to carry her name. Cereals of the ancient Romans included wheat, barley, spelt, oats, and millet—but not corn (maize), which was a cereal of the Americas.

Recent Examples (SEREAL) on the Web: Adjective

There’s something thrilling about the tension of a seemingly regular person trying to maintain a veil of normalcy, while maintaining a separate identity as a serial killer or vigilante hero. Verge Staff, The Verge, “The Verge’s guide to tolerable family streaming entertainment,” 21 Nov. 2018

Even if 2 percent of those people were killed by serial killers, that’s 387 people a year. Dylan Matthews, Vox, “Criminal profiling doesn’t work. TV shows should maybe stop celebrating it.,” 12 Nov. 2018

So all turned out well, we are still alive, the Mehrling’s are safely in Long Island, NY and Anne shall post another blog in the not too distant future.

I’m sure this has not made a whole lot of cents (oops) there I go again. Have a great day my friends, get your shopping done early, relax and enjoy the upcoming holidays. I leave you with two words, BE KIND.

                                      Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

   

A Share from Geilenkirchen

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A Sam Photo

Once again I share with you the latest Blog from Sam and family and their immersion to European living.

It’s the Little Things

Tonight we stayed out late looking for a house. We saw two good options, but it meant we got home about 7:30. 7:30 is Zoe’s bed time. 7:30 and all kids are bathed. 7:30 and our family begins to calm down. Not tonight.

Side Note: I just looked up and had to tell Ana to stop putting the noodles up her nose.

I opened up my European sized refrigerator (think something a little larger than what you find in a hotel room) and saw not much. There was ground beef, milk, sliced cheese, yogurt, and salad. Now my Granny could easily make a 4 course meal out of those items, but I am not that skilled. Make grilled cheese…nope out of bread. Make a casserole with the potatoes I have…don’t have a dish or really a true oven. Spaghetti…my family is tired of that after eating it the past few days.

I did what any good millennial would do…I went to Pinterest. I found an easy potato and ground beef skillet recipe (that didn’t call for cream of mushroom, heavy cream, sour cream, etc). I began making the meal and put on the last of the spaghetti. Now it is 8pm, I taste the concoction and the potatoes were still raw and it tasted horrible. Prior to me breaking down Zed said he had it and set out in search of food, not forgetting to bring cash with him because most restaurants do not accept cards here. The kids were falling apart so I gave them the spaghetti and they ate two cans of green beans. Good thing they’re young.

How did I get myself in this predicament? The small refrigerator and not having a true grocery store on base is what I’m blaming. Really what it is, we haven’t figured out a good routine and once we find a house (everyone please say a prayer) things should relax a little more.

So…

Things taken for granted so far:

– A commissary on base

– Zillow

– A full sized refrigerator…we are coming from having a garage fridge, a deep freezer, an upright freezer, and the biggest residential refrigerator you can buy for inside the house

– fast food

Say a prayer the kids survive the next month or really until we find a house and move. I highly encourage you all to stay away until we have our lives figured out. Once that happens our home is open to visitors.

….

Zed just walked in with pepperoni pizza, spaghetti (haha!), schnitzel, French fries, and a coke. I got the kids bath started and piled them in; Zed came up and relieved me. I’m currently listening to Zoe say “Dada” over and over, Zed teach Mia how to use a handheld shower head (I don’t know the actual name), Ana trying to escape without clean hair, and Dax saying watch me and then giggle. An hour ago I was close to tears and now I’m relaxed and listening to my little big family enjoy each other. Though there is quite a bit to get used to here, this assignment is going to be a blessing for our family.

Dax and Zoe just came down stairs and Dax is currently trying to put Zoe’s diaper and PJs on. A camera crew really should be following us around.

-S

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

 

Minimizing

For the past few years we have been minimizing. I’m guessing Mary Agnes much more so than me, there are just some things that I will not part with. At least once a month I’ll get the question “got anything for Halo.” Halo Ministries is a local organization that takes in any and all things one would part with and then sells them in their Thrift Store. They also run a shelter for men and women and have a soup kitchen. It’s a nice Ministry that does good things.

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Halo photo by WMDT

Just last week I got the notice a trip to Halo was planned. I found a few old ties and belts that I was willing to part with and off they went with the weeks donations. “That’s all, I was asked.” I’ve been told we are trying to make things easier for the kids once we’re gone. We are only going to Delaware tomorrow I said. I got that look that said you know what I mean. Ouch!

So a few days ago we made the 50 mile day trip to Delaware to visit Sarah the sister in-law who has been going through one of those hiccups in life for the past six months. We dropped Ben the dog off at the Pet Palace boarding kennel the night prior and would pick him up on the return.

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Pet Palace photo

We would pick up Sarah around 10:00 and head off to the outlets. No sales tax in Delaware, great outlets. We go to “That Store,” called Christmas Tree Shops in other states, and I drop the girls off. I stay in the car, catch up with my Journal writing, check email, etc. I’ll go inside at Harbor Freight, Cabela’s & Bass Pro, but that’s about it.

Forty minutes later Mary Agnes comes out the door pushing a cart just loaded with bags. She pops the back hatch and transfers the bags. “Where’s Sarah” I ask, “still shopping” she says as she closes the hatch and returns to the store. After a total of fifty-five minutes they reappear with cart #2 and off load once again. It’s only a Subaru I say, not a Penske Rental. I get that look from both of them.

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Pinterest photo

Now where I ask, after the load transfer takes place. To the grocery store, we will buy the makings for lunch and visit sister in-law Barbara and husband Mike and make lunch for us all. A loaf of bread, Egg and Chicken Salad, Grandma Utz potato chips and some ice tea are bought and paid for and we are off to Barbara’s. I shall not even mention how I’m given directions by Sarah to get out of the parking lot maze. Suffice it to say a GPS she is not.

We have a nice lunch, learn about an upcoming trip to Alaska, one of those boat and train adventures and say our goodbyes and are off ninety minutes later. We will drop Sarah and her packages her house and head for our every six-week stop at the Big Box store. In this Case it’s BJ’s.

At this stop we only purchase what is needed. With some rearranging I find room for all we’ve needed to purchase as well as those items from that first cart full of bags. So I ask the question. “I thought we were minimizing.” Once again, THAT LOOK. It seems these are mostly items for others which makes it a bit easier.

We beat a good summer rain storm home and stay dry while off loading. I pick the dog up from the kennel, take him for a good run in a field as he rids himself of 22 hours of incarceration. Once back in the car he is a happy 20 month old 65 pound Standard Poodle. We feed the dog, open a cold bottle of nice wine, retreat to the porch and do what we do best – solve all the problems of the world.

It’s been a good day, and I didn’t have to get rid of a thing. Oh, and the stuff in the bags. It turns out they are patriotic decorations, paper plates, cups and the like for the Forth of July parade and picnic. The Oklahoma Grands and Greats will be in prior their stop in Alabama and ultimate flight in August to their new home in Geilenkirchen, Germany.

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Coming soon on a calendar near you.

A Trip to Starkville

May 1st would find herself and me busy getting ready for our trip to Mississippi. While I was busy checking off items on my Honey-Do list, herself would spend the day at the beach. Well, not really at the beach but in close proximity. Her sister has had a rough go of it the past few months, and ever the care giver, me wife has been making the weekly trips to attend doctor and treatment visits. It’s all good though, treatments going well and me and Ben, me dog, get a day’s breather from the “have you done this yet.” I’m sure some of you’ve have been there.

I get my trash run in, and check off all the other listed needs. Me love brings a nice premade meal from Harris Teeter home for dinner. We watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, I watch a few innings of the Yankees and Red Sox and then off to bed. Not really a fan of either, for me it’s the Washington Nationals.

Our trip south for granddaughter Abby’s graduation in Psych from Mississippi State would put us on the road for three days. We arise bright and early, first off though, it’s do all the wash, take the dog and cat to the kennel and vacuum the house. We can never leave the house in a condition that is not worthy for a showing by a Real Estate agent, God Forbid. Of course there is also one more bag of trash to drop off on the way out.

Day one will take us just over four hours down the road, to Rocky Mount, NC. We always start our southern journeys down the Delmarva Peninsula, cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and head west out Route 58 to Emporia, VA. I could never go south via the insanity of greater Washington, DC. Our trip like the day was grand with several stops along the way for gas, food and the occasional leg stretching at rest areas. A small Ice Cream at McDonald’s would become routine each afternoon on this trip.

Just as a side note, Abby’s Mom, Dad and cousin Rachael were also heading south to Mississippi via a stop in Charleston, SC on day one. They had never been to Charleston and thought, why not. However unlike us leaving at noon, they were up and moving at 0300. Oh to be young again.

We check in to a Double Tree, freshen up and head up the road to an Outback for dinner. Back in the room we relax and chat about the toilet, yes the toilet. For all the niceness of this facility, we have the toilet from hell, or I should say from an airport. As the plunger drops in it’s reservoir of water, a high-pitch whine and squeal like an aircraft jet engine build to a high-pitched crescendo that will wake the dead when I take my 2 AM trek for relief. Noise abatement shall not be possible in this facility.

Despite the 2AM noise issue, we sleep well, breakfast in the hotel and we are on the road heading for Conyers Georgia for night number two by 0900. We are not in a big hurry. Conyers is just to the east of Atlanta and I had found on Yelp that there was an Irish Tavern in the town. We like Irish pubs and taverns. At home it’s the Irish Penney in Salisbury, MD at least once a month.

On this day we will follow I-95 south to Florence, SC. We do an exercise stop at the SC rest area. With our leg cramps gone and feeling refreshed we charge on heading up I-20 towards Columbia, SC. Enough we say of President Eisenhower’s Interstate System. We exit the Interstate and find old US Route 1. It’s backroads to at least Augusta, Ga, home of the Masters Golf Tournament.

We arrive in Conyers, GA, our nights stay for day two. We select Conyers so we can avoid going around or through Atlanta during rush hour. It will also give us a short ride our next day traveling to Starkville, MS. I must also admit to locating the Celtic Tavern, we tend to favor Irish Pubs when can find them while traveling about the country.

After checking in to our hotel we head to the Celtic Tavern in quaint old downtown Conyers. Check out: http://www.conyersga.com/visitors/attractions/filming-in-conyers

Conyers’ has been transformed into the French Quarter of New Orleans for filming of the popular series, “The Originals.”

We ate well, Fish and Chips for me and Shepard’s Pie for the Madam. After dinner and a few innings of a ball game on TV it was Good Night Irene for both of us. We highly recommend the Celtic tavern if you ever find yourself in Conyers.

We also met two nice folks while at the tavern, Albert and Nadine Chapar. Albert was snapping photos in the tavern for wife Nadine who own’s Solia digital media. soliamedia.com Turns out Albert is the principal of the Chapar Firm, LLC www.chaperlaw.com Never hurts to know a lawyer when traveling out-of-town. As it was learned, Albert grew up in Bridgeport, CT and his mother became the mayor of Bridgeport in 1989, one year after I retired from the Connecticut State Police. Yes, it is a small world. It never ceases to amaze me the connections with people we have with just a little introduction and conversation. Albert and Nadine, thanks for taking a moment of your time for some idle chit-chat. The Celtic Tavern Web Site is Nadine’s creation.

Day three would find us on I-20 heading west to Starkville, MS for our granddaughter Abigail’s graduation from Mississippi State University the next day. Our big stop, rest and a meal would be at Panera Bread outside Birmingham, AL. This is a site for great dining and shopping should you find yourself in the Birmingham area: https://thesummitbirmingham.com/

Mid day we would arrive in Starkville and spend three grand nights at the Chester Hotel. http://www.historichotelchester.com/

chester hotel

The hotel was one of Abby’s employers while living and studying in Starkville.

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The Beer Garden was a great venue to close out each day’s events. It is presently being renovated and will reopen the first week of August. If you should find yourself in the Starkville area and in need of a room, check out: http://www.historichotelchester.com/

Up early on Friday 4 May we head into the traffic bound for the Humphry Coloseum and the graduation of our granddaughter Abby.

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I made it through without vertigo taking over, thank you Lord.

 

We were so proud of our Psych graduate, you rock Abby!

 

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Granny, Pop and the graduate, and she did it in four years.

Abby is back home now going through the application and job interview process with tenacity. It should not be long and this young lady is starting her Psyc career, paying taxes and her student loan. Welcome to the real world kiddo.

As an end note, congratulations to all those Washington Capitols fans who have waited so long.

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

A Trip to Arizona

So, here we are in the merry month of May. I look back in time and find that my last blog post was 21 March, just not like me you say, I agree also. I had one of those hiccups in life that affected my vision and here I am seven weeks later getting back into the hang of things. I find it much easier to write without the blind spots I was experiencing, all is well now.

We also did a little traveling along the way which kept us with family and sitting down with the computer to try and write a post just wasn’t in the cards. On my first trip I joined my son Matthew in Arizona for the graduation of his son and my grandson Kevin from Army AIT training and graduation from Intel School (35 Foxtrot) at Fort Huachuca in southern Arizona. It was a great few days for just the boys. Our most recent trip was to Starkville, MS for a college graduation at Mississippi State. More on that in a forthcoming Blog.

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Back to Arizona and Fort Huachuca. The day prior to graduation was parents day, we got to spend a few hours with Kevin, some buddies and another family over a great meal at a german restaurant. (https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g31357-d334858-Reviews-The_German_Cafe-Sierra_Vista_Arizona.html) Earlier in the morning we got to tour through the https://southernarizonaguide.com/fort-huachuca-museums-sierra-vista/

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Kevin left with buddies from Wyoming and Florida.

Graduation day presented a few surprises for us when Kevin was announced as the Honor Graduate of his class of approximately 200 and one of the recipients of the German Armed Forces Badge for Military Proficiency. Once again it was meal time and the same crew celebrated the graduates at Olive Garden before heading off in different directions.

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GAPB Badge

Kevin joined the CT National Guard after high school and delayed his acceptance to the University of CT for a year to take advantage of the Guard’s Tuition Assistance Program. Looking to major in Economics, I think starting out without debt after college is a good practice.

One interesting stop for Matthew and me prior to meeting up with Kevin was the town of Bizbee, AZ. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bisbee,_Arizona Bizbee is a town of throwbacks to the late 60’s era. It’s definitely worth a stop if you’re in the area.

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http://tombstoneweb.com/ is also close by. We didn’t get to visit, the couple we dined with spent a night at an old Inn and thoroughly enjoyed it.

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Tombstone

One final remembrance of the great southwest has to be “Dickey’s Barbecue Pit,”
This was my first experience at a “Dickeys,” If I’m blessed with a hungry moment and there’s one close by, I’ll sure make the stop. There are over 600 locations in forty-three states throughout the United States. The Dickies story: https://www.dickeys.com/about/our-story

After the festivities of graduation day the three of us loaded into our rental van and headed to Tuscon for early flights out the next day. We would all depart within a few hours of each other. I would connect in Chicago & Philadelphia to get to Maryland. Matt would connect in Denver & Kevin in Dallas to get to CT, crazy airlines.

Coming soon in a Blog near you, “Abby’s (granddaughter) graduation from Mississippi State.”

Have a great day, Hi to all the Moms out there, remember, if it were not for your Mom, you would not be reading this.

 

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

 

 

An Oklahoma Share

2 Down

by c12samb

The Davies Crazies are 2 weeks in to our next adventure. Zed is out playing in the sand box while the kiddos and I are holding down the home front. We’ve enjoyed some amazing visitors; Mylee, Dax is still looking for you, Abby the girls want you to come back and go to the suseum, and Dad the kids can’t wait to go swimming. We are so blessed to have family that loves us and is willing to help out.

I believe by this time last adventure we had a black eye, not this time, just two puking kids and two kids with diarrhea. I know, not pretty, but it’s a day in my life. Some prettier things…we planted a garden and enjoyed a fun event for kids who have parents that are deployed. There’s a benefit to having so many kids…more chances to win. Think a 43″ TV and Chuck E Cheese gift card on top of the toy each kid in attendance got to pick out.

We’re also anxiously waiting our next assignment to be loaded in the system. We’re anticipating moving to Germany this summer, but as of this moment it’s just words. Everyone who has ever been slightly attached to the military knows that you can’t believe or act on anything until it’s in writing and even then it has a chance to change. There are some things I’ve started working, just so I don’t stress eat or bite all of my nails off…dang nails are gone already. Once it’s official I’ll be sure to post about it.

Catch Up Time…

I’ve been horrible about keeping track of my Selfish Year, but I’ll try to catch up.

  • Lost 10lbs so far
  • Successfully done date dates with the girls
  • Ran 35 miles (broke my tail bone so I haven’t run in a while)
  • Read 4 books
  • I’ve gotten a 86 on my fitness test
  • This will be my 3rd post this year
  • Completed 3 sewing projects
  • Completed 4 acts of service
  • Setting aside the $ hasn’t been so good, but I also haven’t spent more than I make
  • Have not started reading the Book of Mormon yet
  • I have my ups and downs with talking to the kids appropriately
  • No chore or bedtime routine
  • New resolution
    • Stop biting my nails – fail so far
    • Go to bed NLT 10pm each night – usually a fail

So there you go…all caught up. Cross your fingers for us that our assignment is loaded soon!

-S

elderly couple

Don’t forget to check on the elderly.

 

Sea of Love

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#2 School, back in the day.

The first Valentine’s Day I can remember takes me back to third grade at #2 school on Wyoming Avenue in Audubon, NJ. Audubon was a Jersey suburb of Philadelphia, just four miles away from the Walt Whitman Bridge. Using my fingers to count on, I’m guessing I was eight years old at the time.

Mrs. Lippincott was my teacher. I googled her and learned she died in the year 2000 at age 98, she taught for 39 years. When not in school I always called her Aunt Grace. There were a lot of male and female family acquaintances back then that I called Aunt and Uncle this, and Aunt and Uncle that. They weren’t relatives mind you, but that was what I was expected to call them. Even my mother called Aunt Grace, Aunt Grace, she taught my mother also.

Valentine Cards to Print

In early February while in third grade there was a note sent home saying something like this; “All children are encouraged to bring in Valentines to share for Valentine’s Day. There should be 24 Valentines brought in to pass out. Please send in the Valentines in a bag and I will store them until it is time to hand them out. Here are the names of our students if your child would like to personalize the cards.”

My mother bought me several sheets of punch out Valentine cards. I’m guessing 12 cards to each sheet, I don’t remember there being envelopes. On the back of what ever picture or saying was on the front were dotted lines labeled To:, From: and Message. I can remember there were one or two girls in the class that I was sweet on, but if I wrote a message, that I can’t remember. I do remember addressing the cards though.

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Through the years, almost 75 of them, I’ve sent cards on Valentine’s day, given jewelry to my little lady, sent flowers and taken herself out to dinner at a fine restaurant.

I remember twelve years ago, I was in Florida for a Hurricane Conference. I was working for a County Emergency Management Office at the time. My oldest daughter happened to work for the Health Department in the same county, she was  a nurse and that departments Emergency Management Coordinator. We both were required to attend the same conference, so we traveled down and back together.

On the last day of the conference we got together for breakfast and agreed we’d make every effort to make Savannah, Georgia on the way back north to Maryland. We would break early from the conference, around 2:00 I believe and head north. Our bags were stowed in the car and we were checked out of the hotel right after breakfast, we were not going to hesitate.

The conference ended around 2:00 PM and we were headed north on a five-hour or so journey. Savannah, here we come, tomorrow night we shall sleep in our own bed. We chatted about our individual training and informational sessions which were both quite different. My daughter being a nurse was learning a lot of medical and triage stuff. I learned about mitigation and disaster recovery. We even got to see Jim Cantore reporting from pool side while we were there. Jim happens to have a Twitter account if your interested. A little bit of a coincidence is that Mike Seidel from the weather Channel graduated from the same university as my daughter, Salisbury, University. Eleven (11) national championships in Men’s Lacrosse by the way.

We arrived in Savannah without a hitch around 7:30 or so, checked into our hotel and immediately went on the hunt for some food. Our first stop I remember being an Olive Garden. After parking in the back forty we found a line snaking out the door into the lot. The ladies, mostly young, dressed to the nines, with many wearing flowers, all seemed to have love in their eyes. It was February 14, we had had no clue.

We left the Olive Garden and tried numerous other restaurants, all were booked solid.  Finally we settled on a Mom and Pop southern comfort food diner. There were no young’ns at this eatery, no love in any ladies eyes and only starvation in our eyes.

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I swear, once we perused over the menu there was nothing on it that wouldn’t slip right down to your belly with lard or some other type of greasy digestive lubrication, or it was fried. The daughter got a salad, I had Salisbury Steak, real home food for me since that’s where I’m from, Salisbury. We toasted with water, “Happy Valentines Day my daughter.” No liquor on this menu, Bible Belt country was in vogue here.  We both had been looking forward to a Manhattan to close out our adventure.

So, that was one Valentine’s Day that will always be remembered. There are many songs out there that depict love that could be appropriate for this day. I’ve picked one that I consider extra appropriate and suitable for the occasion, “The Sea of Love.”

There are many “one-hit wonders” who spend the remainder of their lives in frustrated efforts to record another hit but who are never able to recapture the magic.  To some, the disappointment of failure is overwhelming.  Phil Phillips is not one of those.  Born John Phillip Baptiste on March 14, 1926, in Lake Charles, Louisiana, he had only one hit.  “Sea of Love” it crested at number one on the R&B charts and number two on the Billboard Hot 100, remaining on the charts for eighteen weeks in 1959.  I was a sophomore in high school that year and I remember cuddling up to my girl at the time on the dance floor to that great song. Every Friday night just about every teenager in Levitttown, HS could be found at Christ the King, Episcopal Church on Charleston road for their weekly sponsored dance. Levittown is now Willingboro, just a short drive from Exit 5 of the New Jersey Turnpike.

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Contractual disputes between record companies effectively killed Phi Phillips career, but the song lived on, selling two million copies and earning Phillips a gold record.  Moreover, the song appeared in the soundtracks of half-a-dozen movies, including the Al Pacino Universal Pictures film Sea of Love.

In 2007 Phil Phillips was inducted into the Louisiana Music Hall of Fame. Although he needed a hand of support in the beginning, once he got back into the rhythm of the song, he was in 1959 all over again at that induction. Phil Phillips is still alive today, age 91. Take a moment or two and go swimming in a “Sea of Love.”

After you listen to Phil, click on  Emily West’s rendition, she does the song proud in her version of this classic that I remember so well.

Credits: Google images, NBC, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame, Weather Channel, Twitter & Wiki
I wish for each of you to fall into a  “Sea of LOVE” on this Valentines day.  Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to check on the elderly.

elderly couple

 

 

 

A Loss is a Win when with family.

Yes we went to the Egg Bowl, a 31-28 Ole Miss victory over granddaughter Abby’s beloved Mississippi State Bulldogs. Apparently someone forgot to let the dogs out.
On this Friday after, we celebrate Thanksgiving with Rachael, Sam and family who drove over from OKC, Kathy, Jeff, Abby and friends. We are blessed, even though State lost, we are winners for family and friends. To all our friends and family, happy day after from Columbus, Mississippi.

https://www.sbnation.com/college-football/2017/11/23/16681614/ole-miss-mississippi-state-egg-bowl-results-final-score-2017-highlights

Semper Fi/theRoster