Posts Tagged ‘Memorial Day’


Don and I went hunting for morels again today. We got “skunked”. We looked high, we looked low, we looked in places we haven’t visited for 27 years: nothing. We haven’t parked in front of this particular barbed wire fence since Memorial Day, 1991.

The road we pulled off of leads to McCubbin Gulch recreation area. This gate is a few feet and one cattle guard away from Oregon Highway 216 to Maupin, Oregon. The other side of this barbed wire fence is Warm Springs Indian Reservation land.We’re on the USFS side, where we were 27 years ago, hunting for morels.

We’d found them there before, in our early years in the Willamette Valley, just a 90 minute drive over the Cascades. We found a cougar there one year: that was when the infamous Rosie was still living, so it must have been 1988 or 1989. Rosie was a mutt I picked up for Don just after we were married, in 1980: Springer Spaniel, English Pointer, and Brittany Spaniel. She died of a “high iron diet”: she was hit by a car when she was 11 years old.

We purchased Sadie from a breeder just a few months after Rosie’s death:  purebred English Pointer from a show breed line with impeccable references. Our biggest mistake was not knowing the difference between a show dog line and a field dog line: Sadie was the dumbest dog we have ever owned, except – perhaps – for my beloved Harvey. She had all the looks and none of the street smarts of a field dog. In 1991, she cost us $350 and a long drive to Edmonds, Washington, where we picked her up from the breeder.

We were all in love with her instantly. She was all legs and love. She ate my sofa. She growled over her food dish. She adored our kids she hiked with us until the pads fell off of her feet in the desert and climbing rocks; she had fur that ingrained itself in our furniture and rests there today, 27 years later.

Rejoys Hannah’s Promise. That was her AKC registered name – I named her. The kids and Don named her “Sadie”.

Memorial Day, 1991. We were hunting morels, and we returned to the place where we’d encountered a big cat just a year or three prior. The kids were bigger, the dog, different. Commercial buyers were still non-existent. We had a picnic lunch packed, and we’d just settled down to lunch on a blanket one the Forest Service side of the gate where we had been hunting – unsuccessfully.

And, then: Sadie. The only dog we have ever owned that could not negotiate a barbed wire fence. She went through the gate and cut herself open from the brisket to the belly. On Memorial Day weekend. Seventy miles from nowhere.

Should we drive into Hood River and hope for a weekend vet? Into Maupin a short 30 miles, but a miniscule population? Or 75 miles back home, in traffic, and hope our vet would come into the office on a weekend? what do you do on a big holiday weekend?

Sadie was not bleeding: the barbed wire had sliced through the skin, but not through the inner layer of flesh that held her insides together. She was hurt, but not mortally. I sat in the back seat and held her head on my lap. We decided to go back over the Cascades and hope for the best.

It was awful: the traffic came to a standstill at Government Camp and into the first small town, Zig Zag. It took us over two hours to drive a 90-minute route. Sadie was in pain, but she was not bleeding – that was probably the weird part. And the miracle was that our vet was in the office, dealing with a pup that had been run over by a lawn mower. Sadie was just another emergency.

My husband was shooed from the operating room. The vet had to cut off the dead skin – the edges of the cut had died in the two hours it took us to get to a phone and drop off our kids. I played Vet’s assistant, and held the skin together while the vet made his stitches: ten in all.

She impaled herself on a stick years later: we were camping in the Ochocos, and she leaped over a log into a branch or something. It went an inch into her chest, as I recall. I told her that I was *not* taking her into Prineville to see an emergency vet. She would have to just heal after I doctored her with what I had for a first aid kit. She just smiled and behaved, and lived a long and wonderfully stupid life. She died of cancer in 2006, a rich 15 year old dog.


Huh. I still look at that dog and I feel my tear ducts swell. Big, stupid, loving, purebred, Rejoys Hannah’s Promise. Sadie.

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I always – ALWAYS – want to do the obligatory holiday post to show I have not forgotten what day it is. I no longer live in rural America and Memorial Day parades are a little hard to come by where I live. I have no relations buried nearby, and certainly no veterans buried nearby. Memorial Day is different than Veteran’s (Armistice) Day. I put out the flag and get to the business of barbecuing.

Do not misunderstand me: there are veterans in my life. This just isn’t the day to remember them (for me), and the one who is living prefers that we keep it low-key, anyway. Therefore, the two patriotic things I did today were: put out the flag and watch a fly-by. Six fixed-wing WW2 vintage aircraft flew overhead in perfect formation. It was a little different that the usual noisy F-18 fly-by, but a whole lot prettier, in my mind.

I spent the day rearranging art in the garden and pursuing photos of the insect pollinators in my yard. I even put my Xerces membership sign up in the front yard:


I also put up my very first No Solicitors sign:


I’m hoping that will work to keep me supplied in cheap gift wrap, magazine subscriptions, Boy Scout popcorn, and Girl Scout cookies. I want my Thin Mints.


Wire sculpture is so difficult to photograph! I moved the salmon sculptures to the handicap ramp. I am happier with this positioning of the above sculpture than I have been with any of the previous locations.


WHY did I never think of this before? Oh, I remember: I tried using the sculptures as a sort of support for the gladiolas. The art faded into the back ground. But here – on the ramp – the art is the feature. The photo doesn’t begin to do it justice: I have a current and river flow going (I know, my youngest came over for barbecue and that was the first thing she said about the new location: “It looks like a river.”


Two salmon, making their way upriver to spawn.


I like my fish.


The bees were not cooperating. I stalked them in the foxglove, the honeysuckle, the poached-egg flowers, the lavender, and the columbine.


I tried stalking them in the front yard, but I only managed to come eye-to-eye with this band-tailed pigeon that wanted to feed in the bird feeder. I was surprised it didn’t fly off as I delicately tip-toed past and then turned with the camera to snap it’s photo. It flew off.


One photos of a bumblebee. There were plenty on the lavender, but this was the only one I could get to stay still long enough. I wish I had a bumble bee identifier. It’s a little one, with a rusty abdomen. Very common.


You must click on the photo to see it. I was concentrating on the one tiny black bee that was on the yellow sedum. When I uploaded the photo, I discovered a second bee had joined the first – and a third (over in the left corner of the photo) was zeroing in on the sedums as well. Accidental score.


ONE honeybee. I know we will have plenty more where the oregano blooms – the honeybees love the oregano – but it is disappointing that I do not have a lot of them in my yard just yet.

Then. again, we saw our first tree swallow today. It is nearly June, and the tree swallows have not yet returned. Something seems wrong.

My husband barbecued steak and brats, and we all lounged in chairs around the table, alternately sweating in the direct sun and freezing when a cloud passed over. It is Portland, and it wasn’t raining – a first for Memorial Day, I think.

Suddenly, in my peripheral vision, I saw a bee do several slow somersaults. It landed on the edge of the barbecue. My youngest said, “Hey! Did you see that?”

The men had not: one had his back turned and the other just missed it. But both Chrystal and I saw it. It was a slow-motion somersault out of the air. The bee landed on the barbecue and seemed dazed, slow, and subdued. It stayed there several minutes, cleaning itself from top to bottom.


It was a little clumsy and very groggy-acting.


I could have petted it, it was so mellow.

It stayed there for about fifteen minutes, disoriented and mellow. We wondered aloud if neonicotinoids were to blame. I know I have neighbors who spray without conscience. The local big box hardware stores continue to sell those particular products as well as the small hardware stores. People purchase them, thinking they are just going to prevent wasps or ants or worms in their apples – but they are killing the bees.

Eventually, the bee seemed to recover, and it flew off on it’s own. I hope it was OK.


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Memorial Day

I didn’t do anything special to celebrate today. I didn’t even put the flag out – of course, it was raining cats, dogs and puddles. I just didn’t want to stand out there in the wet and I didn’t want to have to hang the flag to dry afterward. Lazy, just pure lazy. I did listen to some F-14s do a fly-over around noon today.

I don’t live near the graves of any family soldiers killed during WWI or WWII. I suppose, if I was serious about honoring the fallen, I could have driven to Eugene and looked for the WWI memorial on the campus of the University of Oregon. Inscribed on that memorial is the name of my grandfather’s only brother, the favorite son of my maternal great grandparents. His name was Phillip Melrose and he died of “complications” due to scarlet fever in 1917. He was stationed at Fort Lewis and was a promising writer who was attending U of O when he was drafted. He had a girlfriend who lived in McMinnville.

I am not certain how my great uncle came to be out west, attending the University of Oregon when his people lived in Wisconsin. I do know my grandfather’s mother kept a scrapbook devoted almost solely to her oldest son, and she mourned him greatly. I know the woman who lived in McMinnville and loved him chose to never get married. And I know that my grandfather loved his brother.

My grandfather did not serve. Neither did my father’s father. My father’s mother’s brothers all served in WWII, but my Gramps did not serve. I believe Gramps was too young for WWII and too old for Korea, pretty much like my husband missed having to serve: he was too young for Viet Nam and too old for Desert Storm.

On my mother’s side of the family, we trace back to the American Revolution. What happened during subsequent wars is a bit of a mystery, although I know that a shirttail relative of ours was a terrorist who was hanged for his deeds at Harper’s Ferry. They even wrote a song about him: John Brown. There are letters that allude to family participation in the Underground Railroad, but no record of service during that terrible conflict that tore our nation in half. My father’s side of the family traces back to the American Revolution also. And what their role was during the Civil War is a mystery, too. They were settling the western territories, specifically the Idaho Territory.

The Great Wars claimed family members. My dad served in the Korean Conflict, on Korean soil. My father-in-law also served during the conflict, but was based in Okinawa. All of my dad’s brothers: his step brothers and his half-brother, served in the US Navy during Korea; my dad chose the US Army. According to my uncle (dad’s half-brother), my dad got out of doing two tours in Korea because he had “been there, done that” and was enrolled in college. Some sergeant in charge on the day my dad was called back to active duty heard that Dad had already served in Korea, so he arranged for my dad to finsih out his tour of duty stateside. Because of that action, my dad was based out of Fort Hanford where he met my mother, a civilian working on base. My uncle made the story sound quite romantic, but my uncle is a romantic. He was also a career Navy man.

My generation missed serving narrowly. My brother’s draft number was low and he was getting ready mentally and emotionally for the day his number was selected. Meanwhile, he was attending college. And just before they pulled his number, the draft was called off. Not only was it called off, but the requirement for young men to register with the Selective Service was temporarily canceled. My husband never registered. Desert Storm came along after Don was too old to register.

Now my son is in the US Army, stationed stateside. He has served in Korea and I understand from a Veteran of Foreign Wars that he is eligible for membership in that organization because we are, technically, still in a conflict with North Korea. Levi told me how strange it is to be on the DMZ. It is as close to real war as I hope (and pray) he will ever get.

My brother’s son has served three tours in Iraq with the US Marine Corps. My husband’s cousin has a son in Iraq (or perhaps he is now stateside). I believe he is in the Army.

We’re very proud of my nephew. My brother tells me that he suspects his son suffers PTSD. He works as a recruiter in California. Californians hate recruiters. I think most folks do not know that recruiters are often men who have served their nation on the front lines and are now just finishing up their time with the military, looking forward to their days as civilians. Maybe if we understood that, we’d be kinder to recruiters. Not that I like recruiters. I wasn’t kind to the man who recruited my son.

But I also recognized that my son was making a choice he believed in and that I had to let him go to be the man he was called to be. It didn’t matter what I thought about the war in Iraq, or any war. What mattered was that he was deciding his own path. I knew the recruiter was only doing his job, and it wasn’t a very hard job for him to convince Levi to choose military. What he had to do was to help Levi decide which branch of the military he would choose to serve in. The decision to serve was made long before Levi was old enough to enlist and long before I gave him my permission to enlist.

So while I did not fly the flag today and I did not place flowers on someone’s grave nor even visit a memorial, I still took a moment to honor the men and women who have chosen to serve. Past, present, and future. I am incredibly proud of these young people, of these old people, of these soldiers and sailors, and I have been touched by their sacrifice even if I never knew them outright. The death of Phillip Melrose colored my family for a very very long time.

Levi: I am proud of you. Always and forever. Love, Mom.

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