Saturday, August 18, 2012

Eagle Tower, gas chamber, Taco Bell

My son, Christopher, is in basic training until Nov. 2 at Fort Benning. (He's the one pulling down on the large round thing in the photo.) I'm sharing his letters home for all those who have said they want to follow what he's doing.

Aug. 5, 2012
Hello everyone,

Friday marked the end of Week 1 of basic training. I'm now a third of the way done with Red Phase as well.

Monday we did an obstacle course but it was the kind where you're given different items and you have to take them across obstacles over water. Our next day we did a crawling-under-barbed-wire-in-mud-type of obstacle course, and it was raining so we were drenched, muddy and sandy. And then we had to march 3 miles home so that gave us a good taste of infantry life.

The next day we got to repel off Eagle Tower. What that is, is a huge, 80-foot wooden tower that you repel off, and that was a lot of fun but scary on that initial step over the wall. Friday we went to the gas chamber. Before I explain, the videos do it no justice as to how much the chamber sucks. So when you walk in, you have your gas mask on but you feel the gas irritate the back of your neck. That irritation starts then to feel like someone pouring boiling water down your neck. The drill sergeants then have you life up your mask and say your last name and last four social digits. They do this so you can put the mask back on and properly clear it. They then have everyone take their masks off completely, which brings that boiling feeling to your whole face, your eyes and lungs. After proceeding out the door and breathing fresh air you return back to normal. It's not as bad as it sounds. I just don't want to do it again.

Finally Saturday we had a 2-mile run and we started MACP (pronounced Mack-Pee). It stands for Modern Army Combatives Program. We got to wrestle other people in our platoon and I did very well.

On another note, though, today is Sunday, which is nice because there's no PT (physical training) so you get a chance to relax and write some letters. Thank you for the lengthy letters. It's an awesome feeling receiving mail.

You asked what a typical day here is like. You wake up at 4:30 a.m. (except Sundays at 5:30, which honestly now is sleeping in). First formation is around 5:15. We then do 1.5-2 hours of PT, come back and change, then eat breakfast. After that we do our training for the day, come back to evening chow or dinner then we clean the outside areas up, then our barracks. I didn't mention lunch but we get that, too. If we're lucky, we get some personal time; it's usually 10-15 minutes. When I get more personal time I will write more. Let everyone know, too, to write me. We don't have to do push-ups for mail or anything so the more the better. It's not too bad overall here but it can be pretty stressful so mail is nice.

I've decided that when I graduate the first thing I've doing is going to Taco Bell. Once we're back in Indiana I really want to go to El Camino. For some reason Mexican food sounds constantly appealing to me.

Also, so you have it in writing: If the oil needs changed on my car, use Pennzoil Ultra 5w-20.

That's everything I can think of for now though so I hope everyone is doing well at home. Time is flying by here. I miss home but I'm doing great. Take care. I love you!


Saturday, May 14, 2011

Weaver is uncommon thread in synthetic world

Linda Adamson’s Arcadia store is as colorful as a painter’s palette.

Neat rows of large spools, tightly wrapped in fibers of nearly every conceivable hue, line the shelves of her Tabby Tree Weaver. If you ask how many kinds of fiber her shop carries, Adamson’s eyes twinkle and she grins broadly, simply saying, “lots.”

She becomes almost lyrical rattling off a long list of the kinds of fibers she sells, including ones made from corn, soybeans, bamboo and tencel, which is made from wood pulp, then processed so it’s like rayon. Some of the wool she sells comes from Louie, a sheep she boards in nearby Sheridan.

“What you won’t see here is synthetic,” she adds. “I’m a natural fibers person.”

“Natural” is an apt description for Adamson, as well. She’s easy going and in her element at the shop. As she demonstrates weaving or spinning, her hands move with the artistry of a harpist, her fingers gently plucking and placing each strand.

But the most charming part of visiting the shop is getting to talk with her.

Whether it’s a long conversation or a quick chat – although I’m not sure she ever offers anyone less than 15 minutes of her time – Adamson is engaging as she talks about weaving and dying yarn. She’s passionate about her art and her adopted hometown.

A nurse by education and a former ophthalmologic technician by practice, Adamson learned to weave because she was sewing her own clothes and “I didn’t want to look like everyone else,” she said, so she decided to make her own fabric.

It’s an ongoing education.

“However you’re using fiber – weaving, knitting, etc. – you can never learn all of it so you’re forever going to stay young with it,” she smiled and philosophized.

She loves teaching her art and her life’s goal is “to leave as many new weavers behind me as I possibly can.”

Spend a few minutes with her in Tabby Tree Weaver, and you just might be the next one in the growing line of weavers behind Linda Adamson.

This post includes excerpts from “Handmade Businesses, Homemade Success,” a story originally published in the April-May edition of Hamilton County Business magazine.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Girl Up gives life to dreams

Some of the world’s hardest to reach adolescent girls are being touched by Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation campaign.

Girl Up emphasizes that girls are bright, talented and full of dreams, according to its website. But too many girls can’t live those dreams because they can’t go to school, aren’t healthy and don’t live free from violence. One in seven girls in developing countries, for instance, is married by the time she’s 15.

My daughter got marginally involved in the campaign and showed me its Girlafesto, an empowerment poem, today.

It’s a wonderful piece to share with young girls that you might know – or even to keep handy for a reminder to yourself.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

We're in this together, Jack

The plan was simple, clear-cut and fail-safe.

Set the alarm for 30 minutes earlier than I needed to get up. Check. Lay out sneakers and clothes in the bathroom. Check. Go to bed Monday night thinking, “I’m going to start walking again tomorrow.” Check.

I love walking. My spirits soar when I’ve put in a couple of miles. I feel accomplished, invigorated, ready to take on the world.

That first step, though, the one that plants my foot on the bedroom floor – killer!

Fast forward to this morning.

The alarm went off, the snooze button got hit. The alarm went off again, the snooze button got hit again. The alarm went . . . well, you see the pattern. It was classic Scarlet O’Hara, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

Oh, I did get exercise this morning. There was that full-body thrust out of bed  when suddenly it was time for the get-ready-for-school routine to begin. (Wake my son, let the dog out, call my son a second time, make coffee, escalate to Angry Mom voice, feed the dog, ramp up to Very Angry Mom, . . . again, you see the pattern.)  

I’m a highly organized person – my calendar is color-coded, for heaven’s sake! Not too many years ago, I was responsible for getting five community newspapers to press by deadline four days a week. I’ve raised two children successfully (if you don't count their difficulty getting up) and can multi-task with the best

 “Forget about what you used to do,” fitness guru Jack LaLanne advised in an Esquire piece. “This is the moment you’ve been waiting for.”

OK, here’s the plan: Set the alarm, set out the clothes, think about walking as I fall to sleep. And tomorrow – no using snooze control.

Wish me luck, Jack. You're invited, too, Scarlet.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Learning Mom's family recipe

Dorothy Voige was an accomplished woman. Few things made my mom happier, though, than cooking or baking for us.

Once when she was making Christmas dinner while everyone else was enjoying each other’s company, she said she wouldn’t have it any other way. A good meal was her gift to the whole family, she explained.

Years later, I learned how cooking for us fed her soul.

Mom was struggling to fight a second round of cancer. She wasn’t giving up, but the cancer was winning. She ate almost nothing, had no feeling in her fingers and toes, and her jaunty stride had dissolved into a slow, clumsy step. She needed a cane just to get around their small home.

She got a craving for scones and said she’d tell me how to make them. I got everything out as Mom inched her way to the kitchen to orchestrate the process.

I sensed her spirits lifting as she told me how much of this or that to use. When the ingredients were ready to mix, Mom put her cane on the counter and thrust both hands deep into the big cream-colored bowl, ostensibly to show me how to do it.

Her pale fingers, nearly the color of the bowl, grabbed the ingredients like a claw machine and patiently massaged them into dough. As I watched each pull and tug, color returned to her hands. For those few golden moments she was my mom again, not a cancer patient, making a delicious gift to her family.

Cleaning up the kitchen, I spotted her cane on the counter. She’d gone back to the living room on her own, and I wanted to think it was a sign of victory.

But it was not. Those scones -- the best I’d ever had -- were the last thing Mom made for me.

Less than three months later, she slipped away peacefully at home. Her suffering was over but my dad was inconsolable. He couldn’t understand why his wife of nearly 61 years was gone.

I flashed to that Christmas conversation and what I’d seen happen two months earlier while making those scones. “You know what I think?” I said to Dad. “She had to go first so the table will be set and dinner will be ready when we get to heaven.”

It took me a long time to realize that Mom’s cooking was about much more than feeding her family. Every time she stirred up something, she nourished us with a very special love.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Post time to finish, Hoosier Derby is night of fun

Sweet Lips Lucy won the sixth race last night at Sagamore Golf Club. Friday’s big winners, however, were the Hamilton County seniors that Meals on Wheels will be able to feed due to the generosity of Hoosier Derby Party guests and sponsors.

Everywhere you turned in the clubhouse, people were having a good time. They cheered wildly for the likes of Dixie Doodle, Explosive Joy and Salty Maud at the virtual horse races, placing Derby Dollar bets on the next race as quickly as they scooped up winnings from the last.

The Steve Elliott Band provided some great music, whether you wanted to sit and listen or engage in conversation with a background of show tunes, jazz and popular music from not-so-long-ago days. The dinner buffet was as delicious as it was tempting, and the complimentary mint juleps were a perfect Southern touch.

Two additions to the Derby, MoW’s second, were the popular Fish Face Photo Booth and a silent auction where a wide variety of treat-filled baskets gave guests the opportunity to walk out the door with a unique souvenir.

When you talk about unique, though, you’ve got to talk about the hats. Britain’s royals had nothing on these creative partygoers.

It was one night – one wonderful night of fun and fundraising for Meals on Wheels – where an uncovered head was out of the ordinary.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Track down some fun at Transportation Museum

Hearing “All aboard!” ignites my imagination.

Trains always remind me of a trip with my mom when I was a preschooler. I think we boarded in Cleveland, and I’m guessing Madison, Wis., was our destination. I know we were headed to her hometown in Belmont, Wis.

While the itinerary isn't memorable, the ride certainly was. On one leg, we were on the Santa Fe Super Chief -- the "Trainof the Stars" because of all the celebrities who traveled it from Chicago to California -- and the cars were brand new. I can still picture the colors, lines and shapes of the southwestern-inspired decor in the coaches.

Mom had to come looking for me when I went to the restroom and didn’t return to my seat. I’d somehow stumbled upon the lounge car and was talking to a very nice man. I didn’t recognize him, but my mom did. He was a network TV reporter, and he was often on the news that followed “American Bandstand,” which my mom watched while she ironed.

In Central Indiana, you don’t have to travel long distances to enjoy the train. The Indiana Transportation Museum offers short runs and themed excursions throughout its season, which opens Saturday and continues through the end of the year.

My favorite trip – I’ve taken many since my husband is an active ITM volunteer and member of the board -- is Dinner on the Diner. You board the restored, 1930 Cross Keys Tavern dining car, finding crisp white linens, fresh flowers, stemware and polished silverware on each table.

Each of the four courses is served at a leisurely dining pace. The evening I rode, the food was top notch in presentation and taste. After dessert was enjoyed while on a trestle bridge overlooking the White River, we got treated to volunteer Brian Henke singing and strumming train songs on his guitar.

ITM schedules rides that suit all ages; you’ll often overhear – or be part of – train stories that bridge generations as passengers chat.

There are destination rides, including ones to Tipton for pizza or a movie; experience rides, such as the popular caboose rides between Forest Park and downtown Noblesville; and event rides, such as Polar Bear Express at Christmastime or the Pumpkin Train in the fall.

If you haven’t been on an ITM ride, I highly recommend you make 2011 your year to ride the local rails. Maybe I’ll see you there!

What train trips do you remember taking or would like to take?