Tis’ the Gift

‘Tis the gift to be simple, ’tis the gift to be free
‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gain’d,
To bow and to bend we shan’t be asham’d,
To turn, turn will be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come ’round right.

Simple Gifts. A simple song penned by Joseph Bracken 164 years ago. A message of grace and delight in the simple blessing of each day, it was written as a Shaker dance – a dance we can still chose to dance.

The Pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts.  No Americans have been more impoverished than these who, nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.                             ~H.U. Westermayer

Wherever you are and however you’re spending your Thanksgiving: whether you’re working or vacationing, whether you’re alone or with family or friends, my hope is that this Thanksgiving will be a day when simple gifts encourage your heart.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.                       ~ G.K. Chesterton

This is the Simple Gifts segment of Aaron Copeland’s Appalachian Spring with photos from Ansel Adams.

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There is no greater difference between men than between grateful and ungrateful people.  ~R.H. Blyth

Patriotism Not Politics

We moved yesterday – no HUAD, no hitches (except the one we needed which held nicely). I’ll write more about that later. I wanted to take just a couple of minutes to say thank you.

I heard on the early morning news that today, Memorial Day, is fast becoming one of our nation’s top 3 favorite holidays after Christmas and the 4th of July –  exceeding even New’s Eve and Thanksgiving. I was amazed! We’ve become so politically polarized that I’d thought possibly patriotism was slipping.

No worries, I’m keeping my word about no politics or religion here at Fork. This isn’t a political post. It’s a patriotic post. Sometimes I think we’ve mixed those two things up. Do you know what I mean?

I’ve always been sort of weirdly patriotic, even when I was really little. I don’t think I was in school yet when my picture made the front page of the Middlebury, Indiana newspaper. The photographer didn’t snap the shot because I was cute. He took a picture of me because every day, I walked to the post office, stood out front, put my hand on my heart and said The Pledge of Allegiance, all by myself, right out loud.

I have no idea why I did this. I guess the folks inside the post office got a kick out of it and called the paper.

The first time we went to Mt Rushmore, my Mom and Dad had to drag me away (after the nightlight show). I loved it!

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This morning’s reporter went on to explain Americans love for this holiday. It turns out we love Memorial Day because it’s considered “the big kick off to summer vacation” weekend. It doesn’t have anything to do with patriotism at all. It’s a grand paid day off work and an opportunity to do a little traveling.

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6 months before my Dad died, I took him to a Memorial Day tribute to Veterans. At the end of the ceremony, they called out each branch of the military and had the veterans stand. They sat down as their war was named. My Dad was the last Marine standing at age 86. He cried that day. He said that it was so nice to be remembered. So nice to be thanked.

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My Dad on the right

This  is just a brief thank you note on Memorial Day to those of you who are Veterans; to those of you who have family and friends serving in the military; to those who have lost ones you love on a battlefield somewhere.

Memorial Day isn’t about the politics of war, it’s about gratitude.

There are no “holidays” on an oil rig, but there are ways to say thank you, every day. Today it’s my turn to say thank you to our Veterans. I love the heart of this holiday. The thank you from America to all who, as Abraham Lincoln said, have done far above our poor power to add or detract

Thank you.

Thanskgiving and Alligator Pie

Today we leave Westhoff to become Texans. Sort of. You can’t really become a Texan – at least not in the eyes of a true Texan, unless your Texas born, or so I’ve been told many times. We’ll just be pretend Texans who live here year round.

We’ll drop the RV (hopefully on purpose this time) at Hidden Valley for safe keeping with Terri and then head to Livingston. To be honest, I’m still an Oregonian in my heart, but my body is in Texas, so it’s to Texas that I owe my taxes. Hopefully we can

We’ll get on it early Tuesday and hope to leave Texas on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday it’s off to New Orleans (I’ve never been) for a four-day holiday stay, a gift from my cousin to join her and her husband for a grand celebration of Thanksgiving and birthdays past and present!

We’re staying in The Moteleone Hotel.

As far as I know, it isn’t haunted.

They say this was the favorite New Orleans Hotel of Earnest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams and William Faulkner.

They don’t say that staying there makes you a better writer, though; that’s kind of sad.

I look forward to lots of  Blues and Jazz and swamp rides and all the new sights and sounds of New Orleans; and of course, eating an alligator (maybe just a sample). Heidi’s son volunteered in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. He’s insists that we have a plate of gator or maybe a pie or a stew or some soup.

Alligator pie, alligator pie,
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna die.
Give away the green grass, give away the sky,
But don’t give away my alligator pie.

Alligator stew, alligator stew,
If I don’t get some I don’t know what I’ll do.
Give away my furry hat, give away my shoe,
But don’t give away my alligator stew.

Alligator soup, alligator soup,
If I don’t get some I think I’m gonna droop.
Give away my hockey stick, give away my hoop,
But don’t give away my alligator soup.

~ Dennis Lee

To tell the truth, I’m not all that keen on eating reptiles. I’ve had frog legs which I liked, but I was only 5 and my sister told me it was chicken. Apparently I’d eat anything if I thought it was chicken. Maybe I’ll tell myself that the alligator is chicken and see if it helps.

Heidi’s son also warned us about driving after dark. I thought he meant we should worry about muggers.

No, he said to watch out for alligators. They aren’t like your Texas speed bumps (armadillos).

You hit one of them on the road and they can seriously mess up your alignment.

We’ll be extra careful. I’m not sure the poor truck can take a lot more messing up. (Story to follow at a  later date.)

From Louisiana, it’s back to the holding tank to wait for a new assignment.

Since I won’t have my laptop, I wanted to wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving.

I found this short clip of gratitude quotes I thought some of you might enjoy.

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~ G.K. Chesterton

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When Thank You Isn’t Enough

I’ve heard a lot today about people being born on 11-11-11 and people getting married on 11-11-11. It’s a special day, but not just because the numbers line up.

Veteran’s Day isn’t an especially popular holiday. WalMart and Target don’t decorate for it. Hallmark only has a smattering of cards. We don’t have special pie or a traditional main dish and most folks still have to go to work. It’s not very popular but it’s so important to acknowledge.

Dad, back row right - 1943

Some of you who read this blog are Veterans. I thank you.

Some of you who read this have children who are serving in the military. I thank them, and you.

Some of you who read this have lost ones you love on a battlefield somewhere. I want to honor them.

My Dad, like many of your Dads,  fought in WWII. I have a few photos. This is the only one where the guys were smiling.

Dad, back row, center - 1941

I’ve been thinking about how people my age are about the only adults whose peers weren’t actively involved in a war. We’re post Vietnam and pre-Persian Gulf.

I often tip my hat to the guys on the rig. But I can’t begin to adequately thank all of you who’ve sacrificed so much in the name of freedom.

Mom and Dad - 1944

6 months before my Dad died, I took him to a Memorial Day tribute to Veterans. At the end of the ceremony, they called out each branch of the military and had the veterans stand. They sat down as their war was named. My Dad was the last Marine standing at age 86. He cried that day. He said that it was so nice to be remembered. So nice to be thanked.

So today to all Veterans and their families: Thank you.

It’s not enough, but I don’t know what else to say.

A Trip to Bountiful

I saw a movie 25 years ago starring the great Geraldine Page called A Trip to Bountiful. It was about a an elderly woman, living in Houston, who wanted to make one last trip to her old home in Bountiful. I’ve often thought of the movie, about how things change and going back is never quite the way you expect it to be. I’ve also often thought of that beautiful title. Tonight it’s time to write about a trip to bountiful. I’ve written quite a bit about our minor difficulties lately. I think it’s time to balance that with a word about the blessings.

It’s chilly here! Oh my, what a blessing to this Midwestern/Oregonian heart! After 7+ months of 90’s and 100’s, I’m wearing a long sleeve t-shirt and using the fireplace for heat! It’s bliss!

The fireplace is, of course, completely fake looking, but boy, does it ever pump out the heat! Henry and I nearly froze last winter in front of our little space heaters with the cold air seeping in through invisible cracks and crevices. We’re happily toasty now. While it’s blustery outside, there are no wind whistles and unbidden drafts inside tonight. Of course, it’s only gotten down to 44.  I’m sure we’ll need to run the furnace some nights. Tonight, coffee and the pretend fire are keeping us both warm. (Of course, Henry doesn’t care for coffee, but I’m on my second pot). It’s so cozy I wadded up my napkin and started to throw it in the fireplace. 🙂

Our gate guarding job seems to be coming to an end. The word is that Lantern 17 will be pulling out as soon as this weekend. It may go back to Smiley. It may be called back to the un-gate guarded areas of Louisiana. We’re waiting to see if the repair shop bid is approved by Good Sam so we’re in a bit of limbo, but the 5 weeks we’ve been here have been good – very micey –  but good.

We’ve loved the past 10 months with Forest Oil. The guys have been both kind and gracious to work for and with. It’s been a gift. We’ll miss them. We may soon be sitting with some of you who read Fork, waiting at a new fork in the road for another assignment.

A few nights ago, one of our Company Men stopped for a chat. He’d asked us to hold sales calls for a few days. We’d been sending the presents the sales reps dropped off back to the CM with our rig guys: cases of soda, steaks, sausage, peanut brittle, notebooks etc…  The CM said: You should snag yourselves some of that stuff, we don’t need it.

We thanked him but, of course, with no intention of taking anything. Still, it was a nice gesture.

He was back, 20 minutes later, with a garbage full of coffee and steaks and shrimp and sausage and chicken breasts stuffed with Craw fish Jambalaya!

The freezer is overflowing with ribeye and prawns and peppered pork. Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude.

Red meat is not bad for you.  Now blue-green meat, that’s bad for you!  ~Tommy Smothers

Last week, as those of you who read my other blog know, I got a late night call saying my 3-year-old grand-daughter was being rushed to the E.R.

She had all but stopped breathing. The admitting doctor said it was a close call. She’s such a sweet, kind little one. It was a terrifying night. She’s doing OK now. That’s a gift that can’t be measured.

This is a bit of a  spoiler if you ever decide to watch the movie. The lesson learned in A Trip to Bountiful is that you can’t ever really go back, but you can count your blessings where you are today. Tonight, I’m very grateful. What are a few mice and some repairs and a bit of job uncertainty compared to the kindness of strangers and the sweet breath of a 3-year-old?

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.  ~G.K. Chesterton