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The Soldier and the Squirrel introduces children to the Purple Heart

through a loving story of a friendship between a newly wounded soldier

and Rocky the squirrel with his backyard friends. This story began as a

blog during my first year in bed after my incident. With much

encouragement, it is now a book and has been placed in the

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum. Please watch the video

on the About page to learn for the Soldier & Rocky are changing children's

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Tuesday
Feb052013

Catfish

 

 A catfish has eyes on the side of its head, so it never sees what is right in front of it. Life can often be viewed the same. We look around and wonder where it went. Change is a good thing. As long as we can look back and still cherish what was right about the past. Even if we missed it the first time around.

My grandparents' house reminds me of a simpler time. But to them, it was never easy. The Depression, the loss of two children, and burdens I could not see as a child. Like a catfish. My eyes to the side of my head. Why is it then, that now at the age of forty-two, I thrive in the memories of summers at their home? Their phone stuck to the wall. The cord forever entangled in a spiral purgatory. Or their other phone. The one with the black handset perched lazily in the nook of the solid black base on the telephone table. I still have that table. It sits under my fake European clock. There is so little I buy nowadays that is real. Home Goods and Costco have cornered the market on items with faux character. We even have “character wood” in our house. It’s a hard wood floor that looks lived in, or on. How I ache for a floor that has character because it earned it. Like my grandmother’s linoleum floor. It was white and had been there for decades. The corners of the kitchen were dog-eared. In one corner was a wall we stood against flat-backed and eyes closed as our height was registered for that year. In the other corner was a spice rack next to an electric stove where I learned to cook scrambled eggs. My grandmother taught me the technique of lifting the pan-handle just-so, so the liquid would fall to the furthest corner of the pan and cook just enough to earn another swirl of the yolk by my hand. The spatula was special, because it was my grandmother’s. Everything she owned was special. Cooking eggs with her spatula was special.  Next to her stove was the sink. Where I washed dishes by hand. I still remember the smell of the liquid dishwashing soap on her sponge, and the iron sponge specifically for the cast-iron skillet. The skillet was so heavy; I had trouble handling it alone in the porcelain sink. It would clonk on the rim of the counter as I maneuvered it to its bath. I could never do dishes quietly. I tried. My grandmother warned aloud from the living room that I was banging the dishes, they would break, I needed to be careful, I was taking too long. But I liked doing the dishes, the warm water and suds forming in my fingers. The accomplishment of seeing the food and crust swirl away into the drain as I caught the larger pieces just in time to throw them in the trashcan under the sink.

To the left of the sink, was a long counter where clean dishes were stacked to be put away, and the breakfast table where secrets were kept. It was our Internet. Where aunts would use their linen handkerchief freely. Where the priest held my grandparents’ hands. It was where I saw my mother cry both kinds of tears. Where cards were dealt. And wills were arranged. It wasn’t all happy. But it was real. And we could touch it.  At the bottom of their backyard hill was a pond. Filled with trout. Not catfish. Which is why I’ve never had catfish. Trout reminds me of their house. So I order Trout. Nothing against Catfish.

I miss that time, because I was at an age when I could not see ahead. I was too young to look ahead. Swimming, like a catfish in shallow water with large saucered eyes. It was simple to me. And to me, it was beautiful.


 

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