Category:General
Posted on: November 10, 2008 8:16 pm
 

Our Soldiers

There was an elderly gentleman who lived down the street from me in Las Vegas. I hadn't paid much attention to him for the first couple of years that we live close together, I would just see him sitting out on his porch or walking his Yorkshire Terrier from time to time. That was about it.

One friday afternoon, I saw him going through some things in his garage and stopped to see if he needed any help with what he was doing. He said "No, he was doing fine, but thanks anyway". I started to leave but something caught my eye and I couldn't help but mention the object to him. It was a rather large Nazi flag that looked almost new. I asked him about it and he seemed to not want to talk about it. I just stood there looking him straight in the eyes and he said it was a trophy he had taken from a POW Camp he had been in during the last weeks of WWII. I said "Really?", and he began to tell me about how he had been captured in the Colmer pocket. He was getting tired after about 20 minutes of conversation so I bade him good bye and left. The nest day I noticed he was having a garage sale and stopped by to see what he had. The stuff in the garage was the usual stuff you find at garage sales all over the country, nothing much to get excited about. It was what was in the house that got my blood pumping through my veins, however.

There on the wall was a very large box frame with the medals and decorations this unseemingly humble man had hanging on his living room wall. I couldn't believe my eyes. There in front of me were more medals than I had ever seen from one man and being an Army Brat, I have seen my share.

At the top of the frame were patches of the 45th Division, The Thunderbirds, Master Sargeant stripes and a 5th Army patch. Below them was a lone medal - the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest medal for bravery in the U.S. Military. Below that were 5 Silver Stars and below those hung 6 Bronze Stars with "V" Devices signifying they were awarded for valor. Below that were 5 Purple hearts. Below that were the usual medals given for anyone who served in combat in Europe during the war. There was also a POW Medal that had obviously been added recently.

In another smaller box frame there were foreign decorations including the French Croix d Guerre in the grade of Chevalier. There were other French and English decorations that I did not recognize. In yet another boz frame were another Silver Star, a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart. Above them was a solitary CIB with a star in the wreath, meaning the award had been awarded twice. To most soldiers who have been in combat, the CBI is the only award worth having as it indicates you have been in the line of enemy fire and have returned that fire. Below the Silver, Bronze Stars and the Purple Heart were some other medals from the South Korean Government, including the Korean Medal of Honor (I can't remember it's name - "Tak" something.

In any case, here was an old man that had been awarded the second highest award for bravery once, the third highest award for bravery 6 times, the fourth highest award for bravery 7 times, 6 Purple Hearts for having been wounded 6 different times, France's second highest award for gallantry, S. Korea's Medal of Honor and all the other decorations displayed in those cases and no one knew this man even existed outside his family.

You can talk and read all about America's heroes from all the wars fought over the years and centuries but to my way of thinking this old, stooped man was the quintessential hero of this country. A single act of heroism can get a person America's Medal of Honor, the highest award there is. How that medal pales in the gleeming light of this old man's display.

Heros? There is the kind of hero movies should be made about - books written about - and statues erected for.

That, readers, is what I call a real HERO.

Category: General
Posted on: September 12, 2008 7:58 pm
 

Traffic Signs

There is a very small town about 12 miles around the lake from Interlaken, Switzerland. You will pass through it on you way to Interlaken and Grindlewald if you are coming from Thun, which you will pass through if you are coming from Geneva. In any case, there is this small town that straddles the highway (only 2 lanes - this is Switzerland and the Alps, after all).

The name of this quaint little town is "Rose Am See".

As you enter the town, you are travelling down a small hill with a left-hand curve at the bottom which brings you level with the lake shore. There are a few shops and houses lining the road here and a hotel/restaurant that has some of the best food and service to be found anywhere in the world. But that doesn't have anything to do with the title of this blog, does it?

You see, there resides in this village a character named "Max" - better known to the residents as "Mad Max". Now Max is short for Maxine, for she is a grand old dame and quite mad. She is so famous that there is an actually a nationally approved road sign right at the hotel/restaurant warning you of her exixtance. Any violation of her space and she viciously attacks without warning. That includes cars, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, boats, ships and pedistrians. Max isn't partial and shows no favoritism. Max is famous throughout Switzerland and parts of France, Italy and Germany. She is the most photographed personality within 500 miles.

You may wonder why all this fuss over some crazy old woman. Well, I'll tell you. Mad Max is a female swan and has been in residence for nigh on 8 years. No one knows from whence she came and why she chose to stay in this little town. She will come to you to beg treats IF you are sitting down at one of the outdoor tables but God help you if you attempt to get up and leave or just stretch. Max begins hissing and snapping. She shows no fear and has been known to bite unwary diners and passersby - myself included. She will chase cars, busses and any other vehicle that passes down the road through her territory. When she tires of vehicles and people she will take to the lake and terrorize the boats, windsurfers, water skiers and tour ships that are always present on the lake.

Mad Max is a grand old lady and dear to the herarts of all who "meet" her.

Posted on: May 20, 2008 7:39 pm
 

A Stray Feline

When I got up in the morning a week or so ago and went to the back door to get a look at the Waterfalls of Tremmelbach, I was greeted with a very quiet "mew". Looking around and not seeing a cat anywhere I continued to gaze at wonderment at the sight before me - those magnificent falls. Again I heard that tiny "mew". This time coming from under the rear deck. I went down the 4 steps to the ground and lo and behold, there was a very young kitten that looked to be on its last legs. I wondered if it's mother had come upon an accident of some kind or whether the kitten was just lost. In either case, I picked up the kitten and took it back into the house. Watching the kitten eat, clean itself, explore its surroundings and finally, lay down at the foot of my recliner; I began to think of all the other stray cats in the world and how few are fortunate to find homes, let alone on their own. Those that find their way into a "family" must have some sort of special gift or instinct that allows them to accomplish this. That got me to thinking on HOW that is accomplished and what follows is how I think it happens - with a few details changed from cat to cat, location to location, and family to family - including me.

 

When I was a very young kitten my mother had an unfortunate encounter with a car and I found myself alone in the world. I was not unduly disturbed or upset as I was intelligent and resourceful. However, after a couple of weeks living on a diet of revolting grub worms and insects, I came to the conclusion that the life I was more suited to was that of a house cat, so I set off on my search for the perfect house and family that I could take over.

After some diligent searching, and following my plan to the letter, I singled out a nice house that seemed to be inhabited by a man living alone as I observed no other humans in the immediate area, nor had I in the last couple of days I had cased the joint. This was the perfect set-up for a tiny, cute little female kitten with charm and beauty to burn. Upon further investigation, I saw that the man had a rather nice car in the garage. The garage was clean and tidy and the car was clean and polished. This man was obviously a person of some affluence. I then and there decided that this was the place for me. If a stray cat wants to take over a poor family living in a shack, that's their business, not mine. I had found the fabled city of El Dorado as far as I was concerned. Now to gain entry and become the queen of all I survey, knowing full well it would take all my feminine wiles to accomplish this feat.

I took up my position on the bottom step of the deck and waited patiently for the sound of footsteps coming to the door. In a flash, I bounded off the step and under the deck I went, there to roll around in the dirt a little to make myself as pathetic looking as possible without losing a gram of dignity. Upon hearing the man come out onto the deck, I let go with my most sorrowful voice. "Mew". "Hmmm, no response. Let's try that again", I thought. After an even more sorrowful mew, the man came down the steps and saw me. "Victory", I thought. The man pick me up very gently and carried me into MY house. "This is way too easy", I thought. "This guy doesn't stand a chance", I purred. The man set me down on the kitchen floor, took a small bowl from the cupboard, opened a can of tuna fish, emptied it into the bowl and set it down in front of me. "You've got to be kidding!", I thought. "Tuna for a stray cat? Have I ever fallen into a bed of roses!". After eating myself almost to the point of losing the tuna, I decided to explore my new kingdom. "Not bad at all", I thought. "Yep, this will do very nicely" and then and there decided that this was for me - a life of spoiled leisure.

A little later in the day, a woman, who I was later to learn was the wife of the man's close friend came into the house and saw me laying at the foot of MY man's chair. She made some remark about having a scruffy kitten in the house and how the man had always said he didn't want a pet and that cats would ruin the furniture and on and on ad nauseum. That got my attention really quick. "Maybe I have underestimated this guy", I thought. At about that time, one of those miserable (to a kitten out in the open) spring cloud bursts that plague the high alpine meadows this time of year, came roaring down on the landscape. The lady from next door picked me up and headed for the back door, panic welling up inside me. "Save me, save me", I thought to the man as the door opened and the lady prepared to drop me into the deluge. "Hold on just a minute", the man said as he took me from the evil clutches of the wicked witch. "You can't throw that poor creature out into that weather", he said. "Look how the poor thing is shaking with fright", he said. Actually, I was shaking to keep from laughing out loud.

One of the most important things a kitten or cat must master if it is to be successful in taking over a home is the right attitude to use at the proper time and place. This will ensure the total subjugation and domination of everything in the kingdom, humans and objects alike. Poses, expressions, play of the body and features are all orchrastrated into a finely tuned manner in which you remain at all times alluring, fascinating, charming, pleasing, lovely and sweet. This is critical if you are to rule instead of being ruled. For instance, I can't tell you how effective the innocent "meow" can be when combined with the wide blue eyes and the perfectly poised sitting posture can be for breaking down human resistance. The effect is staggering! The human appears shaken to the core and will give you practically anything, for it creates a sense of helplessness that goes directly to the heart of the man. A word of warning is in order here. Do Not use this technique to excess. Reserve it for those times when you want to reestablish your dominance, like after you have been in trouble for some perceived "crime against the slave or slaves, i.e. humans in the house. Actually, any appeal to his vanity as god-like givers of things to small, so-called "helpless" creatures such as myself may be rewarded with larger portions and nicer "rewards". It also helps if you can keep them from seeing the scenario in its true light, namely, the extent to which I have utterly dominated my "man servant".

There are times, at the beginning of the subjugation, that you will invaribly find yourself in a battle over "property rights". This not only includes all the furniture and other objects d' art, but the very person of the man in the house. The first night in the house, I deciced to test thew theory of said rights and climbed up onto the recliner, leaving minute claw marks on my ascent. The next morning the man came down and saw me laying in his favorite chair. He got his morning beverage and sat down on the loveseat next to the chair. From that moment on the recliner was mine.

So that's how it goes, folks. let one of those devious little creatures into your house and heart and you have any number of years ahead of you - full of laughs, curses, hairballs and litterboxes to clean. But in the end it is always worth it, at least to me and that sorry looking kitten that took over my house in less than a day.

Category: General
Tags: Cats, kittens., strays
 
 
 
 
 
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