Tick Tock

What's to say about the last day of May?

This has been a complicated month - with lots of things to do - some highs - and some sad days.

 I have been to three funerals this month at three different churches.

Early in May a youngish man - just 54 - dropped dead as he walked to work. No warning signs to prepare the family and friends who were left in a state of shock. I first met him when he was in his early 20s, liked him and was always glad to chat with him at holiday gatherings.  His loss seared his large family and it hurt to see his mother and his long-time soul-mate.
It was raining and I felt that was as it should be - the heavens were crying.

Three days later I was at another church saying good-by to a wonderful woman who lived up the street from me. In her eighties she had more energy, spirit and joy in life than many half her age.
She was a woman of deep faith who had a warm and generous spirit. The last two weeks of Jim's life she brought him Holy Communion every morning. She would stop off after early morning Mass, say a few prayers, give the Communion to us, laugh a bit and then slip away.

In November she was given a surprise diagnosis and she died in May. That's how things go, isn't it?
Now I ride down my street and it does not feel the same.

Life moves in circles sometimes, doesn't it. So many reminders of the connections between people in our lives and the measures of time.

Today our family went to a small church on Capital Hill where a long-time colleague and friend of Jim's was burying his well-loved wife.  They found each other later in life and had 25 wonderful years together - a very well-matched pair. We had been in this very church25 years ago for their wedding and Jim had been so honored to stand as Best Man for his friend.

The church is a gem and was as lovely today as it was the first time we were here 25 years ago for their beautiful wedding. Today's funeral service was conducted by the same gracious woman who was the pastor then. The sun shone through the richly colored stained glass windows - windows that were installed in 1910.

Love and sweet memories give some ceremonies like this one a special combination of joy and sadness. Good friends spoke with love and told stories about her. Her young adult granddaughter's remarks were the sweetest I have ever heard as she talked about her relationship with her grandmother. And our friend sat straight and proud through it all.

I wished for Jim - and there were times when I felt he was there.

I thought of the tick tock of the clock.

I was reminded of connections - 
just two years ago this friend 
was Jim's eulogist 
at the small chapel at Arlington.

Our family
gathered fondly around the secretary
Jim and his friend had shared for many years. We remembered sitting together at a table in this very room at their wedding - 25 years ago.

Tick Tock - - - 


Navigating a Strange Land.

Look at that - bits and pieces.
That's how I feel somedays - my plan goes awry

I am off the list and at the end of the day
I have to write a new list to see if I really got something

Today for example -
I have kept busy
but only managed to cross about three things off my list

because - instead of following the list
I made a new hand-out for The Hello Girls,
discussed a gig in Georgia in August with the Librarian there
and then scanned and signed the contract to seal the deal.
Happy about that.

Talked with a dear friend in PA - always a good thing to do.

Talked with my sister in GA about family and personal stuff and then about our opinions of The Monuments Men - the George Clooney movie about the art historians who saved incredible art treasures from the German destructors during WWII. And had another talk about her enthusiasm over Dry Grass in Autumn a book set in Charlotte - she and my friend Betsy are beserk over the book and I can't say a word because I have not read it yet.

I won't bore you with what I did not get done - except to say the tax accountant is probably putting out a contract on me. I am sooooooo intimidated about doing the taxes. Not that they are that difficult - its just that I cringe and cower whenever confronted with adding and subtracting - - - - it goes back a long way.

Last night Karen and I watched  "The World Wars" on the History Channel - the second episode is tonight and then #3 tomorrow. I am fascinated by the way they have chosen to tell the story using four men, Churchill, Stalin, Hitler and General George Patton, as a means to thread the huge story together. The four of them were soldiers in WWI and the premise is that what happened to them then shaped them for the roles they played in WWII.

Looking at the ways the past shapes our lives is something that fascinates me - and I am intrigued by the how this show is coming together.

The Hello Girls, my new story about WWI has captured me and is moving my interest in how to tell stories in a different direction. I am curious as to how it will turn out.

But to tell you the truth, since Jim died - little is the same in my world or my way of looking at the world. Not that its wrong - its just different - sometimes unexpected - sometimes I feel like a stranger in a strange land - - with no map or GPS.


A WWAC in Our Family

Memorial Day 2013 I was very grateful to tell my new story Arlington National Cemetery: My Forever Home at the Women's Military Memorial at Arlington Cemetery.

But that was not the first time I had visited this wonderful place where women's history in the military is collected and honored, their stories are exhibited, and their names are registered. You can search the registry and find a woman you know or if you know a woman who served you can register her name.

I had stepped in one day to search for my aunt's name in the register - - and there she was:
Catherine Diggle Brown - US Women's Army Corp - WWII.

 Thinking of her today - of her pride of serving and of our love and pride of her.
 In this video I have her tell her story herself.

KOKI - Catherine Diggle Brown


WWI - Women at the Battlefield.

Working on my new story, THE HELLO GIRLS, a little-known story of women who served in France during WWI.

 Hello Girls is a familiar name these women telephone operators recruited by the Signal Corps were given when they arrived in France in 1918.

They were an experiment for the US Army Signal Corps. General John Pershing commander of the American Expeditionary Force in France requested that the Army enlist skilled American telephone operators who could speak French as well as they did English. He knew their skilled telephone expertise would be a critical factor for fast and accurate communications with widely separated battled fields and the command headquarters.

In this picture, Grace Banker, the Chief Operator stands in the middle of smallish telephone switchboard room somewhere in France in 1918. She was a graduate of Barnard College, a trained operator and supervisor for the telephone company. Because of her technical skills, her well-spoken French and her leadership skills she was selected to lead the first group of 33 Signal Corps women to France.

General Pershing is known to have said, "These women will be as important to our winning victory as the boys in khaki."

In my story I use Grace Banker's words to tell you their story.

These women are often said to to be the predecessors of the women in today's Army - -

I know the more I read about them and internalize their story - the prouder I am of them - - and grateful to tell their story.

Have I piqued your curiosity?

If you are in the DC Metro area THE HELLO GIRLS is a part of the Capital Fringe in July. Find out when and where HERE.


When the Beehive stung me.

After writing daily for the month-long alphabet challenge I took a blog-vacay. Mostly because my life felt like a rocky sea and I had too much going on in the every day - and nothing that I really wanted to write about.

So here I am - back again. Hoping my personal waters will be calmer and smoother and I will be writing more frequently.

Thought I would begin again with a story on the light side.

For my cable show last week I taped an older version of a personal story with a new ending. Its a memory that I realized had a nice fit with the other story. Personal stories are like quilts - you just keep adding squares as you run across bits of fabric that match.

Today if you want to hear the first part its on my You Tube Channel - titled Hair Salon or something similar.

For this posting I have edited the recent taping so that its only the new add on-

I still cringe with embarrassment - realizing how naive I was at 28 - and how little I knew about the sophisticated world of NYC. Although we lived in Brooklyn for more than a year when Jim was an intern -  between having an infant, not having any money, and Jim's working LONG hours - we never had chances to enjoy and grow in the experience of living there.

My cousin, now fully New Yorked,  was horrified by the small town hairdo I was wearing and was not about to be seen with me - so she "treated" me to a new hair-do to spare herself that embarrassment. I think she realized I did not "get it" - until years later. By the time I did realize how she had insulted me - I could laugh it off and appreciate the lesson.

In the late 1970s I was working in a job that sent me regularly to NYC where I worked with celebrities and notables. I was glad I could rely on Elizabeth Arden to "turn me out" in a style that fit in.