Memorial Day 2020

photo-1-300x225My stepfather was an Infantryman in the 11th Armored Division of the 3rd Army. We’re talking Patton’s army. He was awarded a Purple Heart after being injured in the Battle of the Bulge. He and I were not close (I say kindly), and while I knew he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, I never asked him about it. Like so many other missed moments, I’m so sorry I never did. My daughter Sarah did. And, she told me this story. I share it with you on Memorial Day with the hope it will move you to ask someone who has served our country to tell you their story before they are no longer able. Especially at this moment in time when we are all so vulnerable.

It was late on Christmas Eve, 1944, and George Ilse was lying on the ground with hundreds of others. He thought he was dying. I’m not sure what the injury was, but he was ‘tagged’ as not able to survive and left with whatever comfort they could give. He had a small compass with him that my daughter now has on a chain. He told her that his uncle gave him the compass for Christmas just before he was deployed. I have the Christmas Card that accompanied the gift and added it to this blog. It has the following message: To help you find your way home. Tom. According to George’s story, it had stopped working.

A man walked by, stopped, looked at him and said, “Are you George Ilse?” My stepfather said he was and it turned out to be a medic from George’s hometown. He knelt over George and worked on him. He saved his life. He told Sarah that he took the compass out of his pocket while the stars shone over the snow covered ground later that night so long ago, and it was working again. He told her in that moment he knew he’d make it home.

I’m sorry I never thanked you for your service George. I do it today, on Memorial Day, 2020, so many years after that cold Christmas night. And, if I meet another person who has served in the future, I will ask them about their service rather than simply thanking them.

Mother’s Day 2020

I got the following email from a friend.

Did I tell you about my mom? She uses a walker, but for some reason decided to try the tread mill at her apt building last week, hit the wrong button, sped up, she went flying, got battered, had to have eye surgery last week for a torn retina ….laugh or cry?

I read it and started laughing with the image of this older woman on a

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Vacation in the Time of Corona; Actually Ten Years Earlier

Ten years ago I took a vacation to a National Geographic Photography class in DC. I had a great time. I realize as I’m cooped up now that I stopped taking pictures soon after this post from 2009. What a great time to start taking them again. I’m going to go out tomorrow and renew my love of taking pictures and see if I can capture some of what we are now seeing on our

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National Geographic Expeditions: Ms Christine Goes To Washington

Ten years ago I took a vacation to a National Geographic Photography class in DC. I had a great time. I realize as I’m cooped up now that I stopped taking pictures soon after this post from 2009. What a great time to start taking them again. I’m going to go out tomorrow and renew my love of taking pictures and see if I can capture some of what we are now seeing on our

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Stoicism in the Time of the CoronaVirus

Yesterday was a rough day for me. Not sure why. In general, this solitary-type of life is not something I find anxiety provoking, but I think that it was about reading three articles in a row that did me in. I now believe that it’s not just Trump that is breaking things, that the divide between the rich and the poor is now irreversibly cemented for a future of being relegated to where you were

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Walls & Corona-19

There has always been a divide between the rich and the poor. Some say that it was easier in the past to cross the divide, and others say it’s not any harder now than it was before. I have always believed the divide was more than just cultural or political. It wasn’t just that you were born in the poor section of the Bronx, but also which first-grade teacher you got, or whether one parent

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Citizen of the World

On Saturday night, at the conclusion of Lady Gaga’s “One World Together at Home” concert, I wept as she and a host of brilliantly talented musicians ended with “The Prayer.” Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, John Legend, Lang Lang on the piano, and Gaga herself stunned us all, stopped us in our tracks as they gave us a vehicle for our grief as well as a path to the hope we must have to continue in

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More of Ourselves in the Time of Corona

We are so disquieted, my fellow Americans and I. Even if we don’t realize it, we are uncomfortable. Some say, “I’m fine,” but they are baking like they’re a corner bakery, or they aren’t sleeping well, or they’re arguing with friends and family. One friend said to me, “I am not having any issues at all,” but she “for some reason” can no longer sleep through the night. Then there are others who have

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Cutting My Own Hair

I woke up this morning and cut my own hair. I’m not really sure why I did it, but I wanted to have short hair right now, so I got my kitchen scissors, watched a You Tube video (Liar!!!!) and cut it.

I told my daughter last night on the phone that I was going to do it and she immediately went to one of my felonies from her childhood. “Remember when you cut my

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Anne Frank and The CaronaVirus

When my daughter, about whom I am not allowed to blog, was in the eighth grade, she played Anne Frank at the Nightingale-Bamford School. Her father and I, already divorced for years, went together to opening night. I knew it would be especially poignant for him. He’d escaped the Nazis in Paris during the start of WWII. I wished his mother, who was a mentor of mine and a strong woman who lived in

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