Monthly Archives: November 2011

This is the Thanksgiving that was

Sometime between greeting my mother-in-law, Pearl, at the front door, fresh her from her trek from
her cozy place in Fort Worth, and taking her to Wally-World that Wednesday evening, I decided to mentally shift my attitude to the merry, jolly, and surreal season of Thanksgiv-a-Christmas.

Is this really that important? Really?

Plans for Thursday underway, no undue pressure. Wednesday night plans – Pearl (Jewish MIL) and Steve (dear, sweet, anxious husband) relaxing, visiting and entering the NCIS-marathon abyss. (Pearl can’t get enough of the show.) Then I’d bake off some cornbread in anticipation of the awesome stuffing I would make after the turkey roasted for the prescribed 4 hours (I did thaw it sufficiently!)

But Pearl wanted to exchange the Wal-Mart slacks she bought for Celia (daughter No. 1 she would spend Christmas with – in Colorado – in a month) the last time she came to visit us. This priority purchase needed amending before her homeward departure on Saturday. (Oh, FYI, she’s staying until Saturday.)Steve and I counseled her on the folly of such a T-Day Eve forray, but to no avail.

The older Wal-Mart  across town (hopefully less crowded than the year-old store near us) is down the street from Home Depot, and of course, Steve needed something shelf brackets, I think, from the Big Orange Box … we trekked through rows empty of hardware hungry customers, yet crammed with pallettes, boxes and busy stockers. Then we traveled to the ominous asphalt expanse  – a crowded, chaotic demolition derby. This was Wal-Mart on a Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving. Where vehicles, shopping carts and humans collide in the name of the festive holiday spirit.

Steve is not a patient man. He wanted to park close to the entrance. So did the 2,379 souls he encountered. (I made up the figure for dramatic effect.) No physical harm came to anyone, nor damage to carts or cars, although my hubby threatened major mayhem from inside our Saturn as we meandered the parking aisles

“They’re pulling out!’ No, they’re parking.

“That space is open!” No, it’s a shopping cart corral.

Finally a space opened, we slid in. Steve, muttering terribly unkind passages, guided his “two girls” through shadowy figures and into the store.. Pearl couldn’t hear him – her hearing aids – were squealing in hi-definition.

We were in the store, yay.

Pearl went to Customer Service, Steve to electronics and I to Women’s Wear. Most of the harried shoppers were in Grocery. Yay, again.

McDonald’s – inside the store – clambered with Big Mac Attackers, mommies chased theirs kids no doubt hopped up on sugar and visions of X-Boxes on sale (yes, Black Friday was fast approaching) and frenetic folks seemed to reach warp speed, knocking past one another while searching for just the right jar of mince (whatever that is).

Cell phones saved us from a mad search for each other. Pearl called Steve, who saw me waving at Pearl, who didn’t see me waving her direction … the end was in view. Ready for frenzied sale searchers and last minutes pie bakers, check stands lit up and express aisles moved exiting customers rapidly through the gauntlet.

And at last we sprang through crowds of incoming shoppers, leaving the warm glow of the shopping Mecca – once again out side and maddening parking lot trumoil. Once more Steve steered past Kamikaze pedestrians and hunter-killer vehicles, finally escaping onto Loop 288 – homeward bound.

“That was scary!” Pearl exclaimed. “I wouldn’t have gone there if I had known it would be this bad.”

I envisioned old footage of the Pope kneeling and kissing the ground after descending from an airplane some sort of round-the-world trip. I thought of doing the same as we three climbed out of the car – lowering myself to the driveway, planting my lips on Terra Firma, while sending prayers to God for safely returning us home.

After a glass of wine, Pearl and Steve all nestled in the living room watching another NCIS episode, I scooted  to the kitchen, mixed a batch of cornbread batter, loading it into the baking dish and into the oven. The bubbling goodness of sweet, homespun aroma wafted through the house.

Soon we felt sleep coming on. With cornbread cooling, Gibbs, Ziva, et al, turned off, Wal-Mart Wednesday melted into soft slumber, and then

a frosty Thursday morning. Promise of turkey, cornbread stuffing, green bean casserole, pecan pie and football filled our thoughts. Thanks and praise for blessings of food and family – no sales, exchanges refunds, gift wrap or 15-minute parking zones until another day.


My Dad

Veterans Day was Friday and though most of my friends and relatives know of or are themselves veterans of military service, I focused this year on my dad’s service in the Navy.

I don’t know as much as I should about Thomas G. Edwards. Jr.’s active duty or reserve years, I his service to the US.

As soon as Daddy graduated from Rice University (having received his scholarship through the Naval ROTC) he obtained his commission and married my mom, Harriet Rose Minter. In a whirlwind of activities, the newly married couple traveled from Houston to San Diego in my grandparent’s car – as passengers. Grandpa Edwards was attending a medical convention in San Diego. Yes, Daddy and Momma’s honeymoon was a 1,300 mile trip to their new home – and Naval assignment with the “parents.”

Okay, this is leading to Daddy’s service. As a mechanical engineer, he served on the aircraft carrier, USS Kearsarge from 1954-1958 (or there about.)

I am fuzzy about the date, mainly because I wasn’t born until 1957. Daddy and Momma did reminisce about my visiting the ship with Momma during a family dinner in port. They said aircraft were taking off and landing during dinner. I made it clear with my very healthy lungs that I objected to the noise.

Daddy served as a JAG for enlisted men on board and in his professional capacity on the ship’s engines.  He served in the lull between the Korean and Viet Nam wars. He did not see combat as far as I know, yet he served with distinction and pride.

I am glad to have those memories of him and appreciate his military service.

USS Kearsarge

USS Kearsarge, a 27,100-ton Ticonderoga class aircraft carrier, was built at the New York Navy Yard. She was commissioned in March 1946 and spent her first year of service in training operations in the western Atlantic and Caribbean. During the later 1940s, Kearsarge made two trips to Europe, the first a summer 1947 midshipmen training cruise and the second a mid-1948 deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. In early 1950, the carrier was transferred to the west coast, where she decommissioned in June for extensive modernization work.

Recommissioned in February 1952, Kearsarge now had a stronger flight deck, new island and many other changes to her appearance and capabilities. She made a Korean War combat cruise in September 1952 – February 1953, during which time she was reclassified as an attack aircraft carrier and redesignated CVA-33. From mid-1953 to 1958, Kearsarge had regular tours of duty with the Seventh Fleet in the Far East. Her 1955 deployment included supporting the Nationalist Chinese evacuation of the Tachen Islands. The carrier was again modernized in 1956-57, receiving an angled flight deck and enclosed “hurricane” bow to better equip her to operate high-performance aircraft.

Kearsarge was assigned a new role in October 1958, becoming an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) support aircraft carrier, with the new designation CVS-33. In that capacity, she operated ASW fixed-wing airplanes and helicopters to protect the fleet against the threat of hostile underwater attack. Regular Seventh Fleet deployments continued through the late 1950s and the 1960s, including indirect involvement in the Vietnam Conflict. In 1962 and 1963, Kearsarge carried out a new mission, serving as recovery ship for the orbital flights of astronauts Walter Schirra and Gordon Cooper. Made redundant by the general fleet drawdown of the late 1960s and early 1970s, USS Kearsarge was decommissioned in February 1970. Following three years in the Reserve Fleet, she was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register in May 1973 and sold for scrapping in February 1974



Inspiration, assignments and successful art

Monday night at CCA, The Dirty Drawers gather to work from live models, honing their skills.

Other inspired art - but not mine.

I never know when a spark of interest or curiosity will strike, but I begin envisioning how I then will bring it to my art. Though

inspiration has led me to cobble together a series of mixed-media art based on purging a deep anger I harbored, to letting music transpose my joy of the music to fun and fresh takes on birds and nature, I have relied heavily on “assignments.”

Always ready to take on the challenge of jobs on deadlines and enjoying the worlds of publishing and  newspapers, I seemed destined to do the “Tarzan.” Swinging from assignment to assignment, I rarely looked ahead more than three or four “vines” or project steps. My worst tendency was to take on multiple projects at once. Overlapping deadlines, and major challenges in production and content caused me to bury my head further in the details and timelines, while attempting to avoid corporate intrigue. (The last issue was never-ending and stalled many projects that nonetheless was going to press.)

Assigned projects in the realm of “studio” or “gallery” art allowed me to soar and grow creatively. As a member of the Abilene-based Center for Contemporary Arts (many moons ago), I developed works on the themes established for member (group) shows. Having parameters and deadlines still offered my need for structure,

but I created out of delight. Setting my own standards for content and technique.

Traveling forward to present-day, I want to capture that same delight in my work, but have no underlying “assigned” project or task. (My thought is public school assignments and structure, also a major trend at the college level, programmed my sensibilities and motivation – yes, I’ll go so far as to say, regimented my creative process.)

Losing my job at Abilene Reporter-News to lay-offs and buy-outs, I lost my way as the paradigm of computer technology careened head-long into my training and familiar work ethic.

I learned how to use computers after I learned traditional graphic design; I learned much more about journalism and writing long after I earned a college degree. So, now my task is to  call on my 50+ years of experience to spark a personal Renaissance. Can’t wait to see how far I can go!