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Category Archives: Memories

Reflections on my past

Boy, Girl, Racial Distinction

Long ago there was this young man, who lived an accepting life. For anonymity, we’ll simply call him Boy. He served in the United States Army, and was honorably discharged as a Spec-4. That was his first true experience surviving on his own. Boy grew up in the Army. One important thing he learned in the military was how GI’s didn’t see themselves as racially divided. He had witnessed racism, occasionally, in his life, but was never strongly confronted by it. In the military, fellow servicemen may be racially different, but that did not make a difference. The Army taught him that skin color meant nothing. Everyone was seen as green.

Boy grew up and became a man (but still known as Boy in this story). It began in early 1990’s. Boy traveled across country pursuing the girl of his dreams, and ended up in Phoenix, Arizona. We’ll call her Girl.

One day, Boy and Girl met with one of her old friends. We’ll call him, X. X had recently returned to town, and wanted to stop by his old neighborhood to say Hi to some friends at a local bar, and pick up some party favors. But, being new in town, he needed some help getting around. Girl vouched for him, so Boy agreed to help X get to the bar where his friends frequented. We’ll call the bar, The Bar.

Girl drove Boy and X to The Bar where X’s other friends hung out. Unbeknownst to Boy, The Bar didn’t match his cultural background. Few, if any, of his kind were ever there. They parked a half-block away from the entrance.

When Girl, Boy, and X got out of the car, things became strange. X waved at the other people, then turned and told Girl and Boy to stay near the car. About a dozen people standing at The Bar’s door began heading toward them at a determined pace. The imposing group gestured threateningly toward Boy and Girl. Then X shouted out to the group, “It’s cool. They’re with me. It’s cool.”

X returned his focus to Boy and Girl, and reassured them of their safety. X continued across the street to join the others approaching. They exchanged handshakes and headed back to The Bar with X.

Within a few minutes after X entered The Bar, a police car swiftly approached Boy and Girl. Two police officers got out of the car. The first officer, we’ll call PO, sternly inquired, “what are you two doing here?”

The tone and manners of PO made Boy and Girl feel very nervous. They explained they had just brought a friend. But, PO interrupted them and asked for identification. Boy and Girl provided their IDs. At the same time, X returned from The Bar. X approached PO, and greeted him familiarly, then X told PO that Boy and Girl were with him.

X, Boy, and Girl waited while PO returned to the police car. A few more minutes passed, then PO got out of the car. He came to the three, carrying a camera. To Boy and Girl he said, “You have no warrants. But, you two don’t belong in this neighborhood. When my partner and I got notified you were here, we rushed over to make sure nothing was happened.” PO’s partner, PoPo, stood off to the side, with a peculiar smirk on his face, but remained silent. PO directed Boy and Girl off to the side, “Stand over here, look forward with your hands down at your side. We need to take pictures of you. We’ll keep these on file in case you come back, or if we find out you’re buying drugs. If necessary, we can also use it to identify your bodies.” Talk about putting the fear of being a minority into a Boy or Girl.

X spoke up. He reassured PO that the three of them would leave immediately.

PO addressed X, “You know they shouldn’t be around here.” Then he turned to Boy and Girl, “You two shouldn’t be in this neighborhood. You don’t belong here. You need to get in your car and leave here, immediately. My partner and I are leaving. If you’re still here when we return, we will arrest the three of you.” The police officers returned to their car and drove off.

X asked Boy and Girl to wait just a minute. X walked quickly to The Bar’s door. Even though it was only minutes, Boy and Girl waited anxiously. To their relief, X returned, soon. The three got back in the car and left The Bar, never to return again.

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Posted by on February 11, 2016 in Memories, Politics, Writing

 

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Empathy and Sympathy

Empathy compared to sympathy:
Like comparing driving a car to riding in a car.

Where you come from;
What you see along the way;
How long it takes; and
Where you end up,
May all be the same.

But trust me,
actually sitting in the seat and dealing with what unexpectedly throws itself in front of you,
is not the same as watching it happen and accepting how someone else responds to it.

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2015 in Memories

 

Father’s Achievement

I watched some emotional videos the other day; and they made me think, what can I do to make my life more meaningful, influential, … memorable? I considered what I have done and what I could do to make my effect on those around me more valuable. And, maybe more importantly, how that effect can be measured or recognized; how can I determine if I did lead my life in the greatest way possible? I began to perceive what I want from my life. I recognized criteria that will reveal the effectiveness my life or anyone’s life.

I came to this conclusion: My life’s accomplishment will be the greatest I could possibly want, if after I am gone, I am missed. That’s it; being missed. After I’m gone, if those that I love notice I am not here, then I have done good. At that moment, my legacy will be realized. I began reflecting on events and interactions in my life. I wondered if those moments would be remembered as I remembered them. I wondered if each of those “learn from me” instances would be valuable. I wondered if my presence would be missed by the ones I love.

In that reflection on who I am, in who I have become, in my achievements, in my transgressions, in my reached and missed goals, in all the life I enjoyed, in all the love I have shared, in the lessons I learned and taught; it was observing those moments that I realized how meaningful, influential, memorable, and great my Dad’s life was.

Dad, you are missed.

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2014 in Memories, Writing

 

Fatherhood Moment

Our family took a long road trip to Michigan from Arizona for a family reunion. On our road-trip vacation, I got the chance to see the results of being a father. Our travels took us first from Phoenix, Arizona, to Shamrock, Texas, then Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri, then a layover in Chenoa, Illinois, and finally to West Branch, Michigan. The second leg of the journey took us from Shamrock, Texas, toward Chenoa, Illinois, with a to-be-determined waypoint in Missouri. Somehow, coming out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, I had made a wrong turn and we were traveling north. We had to take an alternate route east toward Tulsa. We ended up on a two-lane road through rural parts of Oklahoma. The road weaves across hills and dales through rural farming areas. The sides of the roads are defined by wide gravel shoulders and shallow ditches. The ditch lines are broken by infrequent gravel driveways that access farm homes set back from the road.

Along our path, I saw a car on the opposite side of the road with its trunk open. It was oddly situated at the edge of a driveway but just off the road. Initially, I continued past the vehicle, but in my rearview mirror I noticed an older male retrieving something out of the trunk. I also noticed the passenger-side rear tire was flat. At first, I continued on my way, but my principles forced me to turn around and return to see if the gentleman needed assistance.

When we reached the disabled car, it was situated to not allow me to easily park behind it. To avoid completely blocking the nearby driveway, I parked in front of that car. When I got out of the car and approached the gentleman, he seemed put aback by my offering assistance. The stranded motorist was alone. He was a grey-haired, older man, appearing to be in his mid to late-70’s. He was not a feeble man; he stood about 5’ 8” to 5’ 10”, and likely weighed 180 to 190 lbs. The presence of perspiration on his brow disclosed some distress. He first declined and seemed to be annoyed at the offer. But, after a brief pause he griped about the modern automobiles complex storage of simple items like a car jack. I moved to the trunk of his car and insistently, but respectfully, offered to find the parts for the jack before I left.

As I was locating the pieces in his trunk, Dom and Aric approached from our car. I handed the jack to the gentleman. He attempted to locate where to place the jack based on the vehicle owner’s manual, but pointed out it was difficult to identify. He suggested the manual identified the corner of the wheel well and the body as the jack point and placed the jack as if he were going to use it there. I interceded and located the proper location for the jack, about 8 to 10 inches toward the front of the car. At this point, Dom pointed out the wheel lugs needed to be broken loose before lifting it off the ground, and he offered to do that. I handed the lug wrench to him. The gentleman stepped back and let Dom, Aric and I continue working on changing the tire. He did not intervene or suggest he was offended. Dom finished starting the lugs, and I jacked the rear tire off the ground.

After the vehicle was off the ground, I stepped back and began to chat with the gentleman. Aric joined Dom with finishing changing the tire. The gentleman and I exchanged introductions, and I shared our story of taking a road trip to Michigan. He expressed his appreciation for the assistance. And then he explained his circumstances. He was on his way home from Tulsa from the hospital. He had been there for three days tending to his wife. She had been hit on top of her head. The impact ended up fracturing her skull, forcing her to go to the hospital. As he shared his tale, tears formed in the corners of his eyes, but he fought off any significant tears or sobbing. Because of the swelling around her brain, the doctors had to place her into a coma, and extract fluid from around her brain. He was on his way home to pick up some clothing and other items for the both of them. He didn’t offer any prognosis.

The gentleman complimented Dominic and Aric’s chivalry. When the boys finished changing the tire, the gentleman thank them and me. We wished him well and offered our prayers for his wife.

My sons’ actions fill me with pride. They continue to show they have grown to be good young men. My sons are young, they make some foolish mistakes. That’s normal, but they also demonstrate mature and honorable actions. I hope they continue this path.

 

 
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Posted by on July 8, 2014 in Memories, Vacation

 

The Time Mom Was There

Remembering the times you were there for me.

The time I went to kindergarten.
The time I get hit in the head with a rake.
The time I learned self-defense.
The time I sliced open my toe at the lake.

The time I enlisted in the Army.
The time I learned to swim in the pool.
The time I fought against the boxer.
The time I graduated from high school.

The time I lost a favorite dog.
The time I went with you on a hike.
The time I rode on top of snow.
The time I lost my favorite bike.

The time I crashed outside your door.
The time I ran off to Oklahoma.
The time I was chased by the mean dog.
The time I ran off to Arizona.

And don’t forget yesterday,
the day before,
and all the other days in between.
You are always there for me.

Mom, I love you.

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2014 in Memories, Poetry, Writing

 

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Reflecting on “Lake Margrethe: Innovative Thinking Is The Key To Unprepared Fishing”

Today, I was reflecting on this old blog post about my Dad. I realized I omitted a secondary facet of the story. Our family friend in this story, Bob James, had a special way of introducing his tales of yore. He would begin all his woeful with “Back in ’02.” He would then explain what was missing, “we didn’t have …,” and how those barriers were overcome in the old days, “we had to ….” The stories were dramatic exaggerations, but entertaining and maybe frightening to children. For example, Bob described how we should be grateful to ride the bus to school, because back in his day, back in ’02, they didn’t have buses; he had to walk 20 miles to and from school, uphill, in the rain and snow, in both winter and summer.

I always wondered how horrible life must have been way back “in ’02” without all the simple things we have today. Of course at that time, the simple things were automobiles and electricity.

I wonder, in the future, if I should explain to my grandkids that back ’52 we had to research using an archaic printed systems of card files and numeric cross-reference lists called the “Dewey Decimal System.” Of course, it would also have to occur in the rain and snow.

Lake Margrethe: Innovative Thinking Is The Key To Unprepared Fishing.

 
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Posted by on September 8, 2013 in Memories

 

Kraut Bierock, With A Twist, or Two

Kraut bierock is a German dish my father passed along to me and my siblings. It is a very typical German dish; bland with few ingredients to help us poor Germans to feel we are experiencing a grander meal. The original recipe begins by preparing dough, allowed to raise overnight, and kneaded twice. The recipe for the stuffing we learned consists of 1 part ground beef, 1 part cabbage, and about 1/4 part onion. (Often we used unscaled measurements as 1 lb beef, 1 head cabbage, and 1 onion.) These are cooked together with salt and pepper, to taste, until the cabbage is soft. After cooked, you spoon about two scoops into a square cut of bread dough and form it into a closed roll (or pocket) of bread dough. Finally, you bake this at about 350º for 25 to 30 minutes until browned.
Now that I live in Arizona, I wanted to try to change the recipe a little. The obvious was to add spice. I added approximately one-eighth part jalapenos. I also added a little more spices; garlic and cilantro.
Because of my laziness and procrastination, this is not a viable process; I always wait until it is too late to finish the preparation work. So I sought methods to shorten the total time. By luck, I found Pillsbury has sheets of dough, refrigerated not frozen. This allowed me to open packed dough, lightly roll it, and prepare the bierocks. I opted to purchase 4 containers of this prepared dough. I decided to cook these upside down to help keep the edges closed. This resulted in them looking identical to Hot Pockets. I also purchased cole slaw mix; shredded cabbage. That eliminated another time-consuming step. To try to match the recipe, I approximated one package per pound of ground beef.
Unfortunately, my measurements were not very well approximated. The dough ratio of four was perfect. However, the cabbage, jalapenos, garlic, and cilantro measurements need adjusted. It needs more cabbage; I would suggest about one and a half packages of cabbage per pound of ground beef. My bierocks had zero spice; they were nearly identical to the original recipe. I suppose one could look at that as a plus; meaning, I did not screw it up. But it did not gain the southwest flair I really was looking to add. I will double the approximations I used for the jalapenos, garlic and cilantro.
In the end, here is what I will apply to future attempts and modifying kraut bierock recipe. First, add more jalapenos, probably twice the amount I added. Second, cooking the bierocks upside down was a plus; it helped keep the bierocks closed. And, finally, the use of prepackaged dough and shredded cabbage greatly reduced the preparation time.
 
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Posted by on July 21, 2013 in Memories, Writing