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Today is Veteran’s Day and since I am a daughter of a Vietnam Vet, I sit and really think about this day and what we are truly observing.  I will never fully understand what the Veterans of this nation from any war has gone through and are currently going through, but I have a compassion and honor towards each and every one of them.  The below post is a piece of something I have been working on for over ten years.  It is the birth of a book. 

 I remember walking in the cold and rain past the Korean War Memorial and its frozen majestic metal soldiers.  The dogwoods were in bloom and blossoms were falling with the steady sprinkle of the rain.  I caught one in mid-air before it could reach its final resting place; it was delicate and perfect.  I placed it behind my ear under my hood and continued on my journey.  My purpose was to pay respects to a man who had fought for this country beside my father.
As I made my way up the sidewalk I saw a black structure ahead. It seemed to grow in size as I drew closer, and suddenly I was enveloped in an ocean of black stone walls with numberless engravings.  I was unprepared for this; I had heard that The Wall was big, but that was a gross understatement.  I had no idea where to start among the many flags, flowers, family pictures, unopened letters, and poems left at the base of The Wall.  Then I noticed a kiosk a few feet away where there were directories.  I flipped through one as if I were trying to look up the local pizza parlor.  Eventually, I found the name and location code.  I was on a mission, still very detached from what I was doing; it was exactly like solving a puzzle.
As I walked down the sloping sidewalk, the wall seemed to grow even larger and the engravings became recognizable as individual names.  My heart beat faster; I felt hot and sweaty beneath my raincoat and my throat tightened.  I was beginning to understand that this was not just one of the many tourist attractions of the Nation’s Capitol, but was instead a horrifying reminder amidst this beautiful setting of manicured dogwood parks, majestic granite, and immaculate walkways; a perfectly evanescent of Viet-Nam.

I could not grasp the sheer number of names on that Wall.  It seemed to go on forever, with each name representing a family, a wife, a lover, a friend, a son, an enemy never reconciled with… but most of all a life never truly lived unto its fullest.  How did this happen?  How did it get so far out of hand?  Those were the questions that ran through my mind as I finally found the name for which I was searching.   It was too high for me to reach; I found a step stool provided by the groundskeepers, pulled out a pencil and a scrap of paper and began taking an impression (never suspecting that when this mere scrap of paper, when presented to my father, would cause him to fall on his knees and weep as no one had ever seen before). 

 As I rubbed, I began thinking about his family and those who survived him.  How they must have felt so robbed and betrayed by death, the Government, and the senseless war he fought.  He was very young — in his prime — and it never should have happened.  It never should have happened to any of them.

I left the dogwood blossom that I had caught earlier on the ground just beneath his name, and an undeniable truth suddenly occurred to me: The Wall is not big enough… it is missing numberless names, and for countless reasons!  Most particularly, the names of the survivors with whom these men and women took their last breaths.  My father is one such survivor.  The guilt that he bears on that account is just another death sentence awaiting execution at any time.  He is only the least bit better off than those veterans who have lost their minds, their self-respect, and who sit outside the local grocery store hoping for a handout.  Likewise the veterans who didn’t make it even a decade past the war, whether death was by their own hand, or drugs, or alcohol, or violence.  And you must include the veterans who cannot cope without substance abuse or some toxic relationship to dull their pain.  Their widows, their ex-wives, their estranged family members, their forgotten high school classmates, their neglected children who forfeited childhood because their fathers lost all enthusiasm, compassion, understanding, and their once responsible outlook on life… they must be included in the list of casualties.

At that moment, standing in the rain and looking at my reflection in The Wall, the child of a Vietnam veteran, I knew that this Wall did not only memorialize the tragedies of those engraved upon it.  I realized that this Wall was only prologue to another war that will be fought for generations yet to come.

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Be on a look out for a Top Ten Tuesday Best One Hit Wonders in the near future!  This is one of my favorites, Major Tom, by Peter Schilling, that will make the list.  It is Sunday afternoon so  just crank it and enjoy it, especially you Idiot and Frolicking Lady!

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Now that the weather is changing to have excuses to grab that ol’ Snuggie, comfort goodies and get cozy on the couch with good flicks, I wanted to incorporate my favorite top ten most favorite movies for my Top Ten Tuesday. Hopefully this will either  remind you of a good flick or introduce you to one.   I have a list that should appease most everyone from romantic comedy to action packed, including a couple must see movies during the holidays!  I included the trailers to maximize the relive or introduction moment! Enjoy!

10.)   Love Actually – Ok, so it is number 10, but it is a must see and one of the best love-happy movies I have ever seen.  I watch this while decorating my Christmas Tree each year!  Even the hubs likes this movie!

9.)  Planes, Trains, and Automobiles – I can relate to this movie more than you know and I may be reenacting the “F—ing scene” this Turkey Day while I am at the Alamo car rental kiosk when visiting Colorado based family.

8.) Tommy Boy – I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this movie.  There is not a scene that I don’t think is hilarious and is a movie that makes me miss Chris Farley very much.

7.)  Pride and Prejudice/Juno (they have to share because they rate exactly the same and tied for this spot) –  Let’s start with Pride and Prejudice– I know some of you would think it is a yawn, but I just love it.  Elizabeth Bennett reminds me of how I think I would have been during that time period. I also love the family dynamic and the father, played by Donald Sutherland, is just a warm and hilarious character that I adore  This is the ONLY Jane Austen movie I like.

Juno- Seriously, this movie rocks.  I love the lines, the story of how this screenplay came about and most of all the family dynamic.  I love how everyone handled this “garbage dump of a situation”.  I hope that if I am ever faced with this type of problem with my girls I will use this movie as an inspiration.

6.) National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation – OK, this is my life to a T during the holidays.  We must watch this at lest three times during the holidays.  I have many of these lines memorized and actually use during the season!

5.) Fargo – I love a good “dark” movie.  Yes, it is a bit disturbing because it is based on a true story, but it is an amazing flick!

4.) Christmas Story –  If you don’t like this movie, something is very wrong with you and we can’t be in the same social circle.  I look forward to the holidays for this specific movie.  I have no idea how many times I see this every holiday season since we leave it on in the background starting Christmas Eve and all day Christmas Day via TBS’s 24- hours of a Christmas Story. 

3.) Pulp Fiction – This made the top three.  It is a bit on the raw violence side, but it is an amazing movie.  The “bring out the gimp” scene s a bit distrubing to me, but that is what the FF button is for.  The one thing I noticed, is that this movie does not have a specific score behind the scenes. You know that this is a movie that has legs when you don’t have to have a score for scenes!  

2.) Steel Magnolias – I know, a total chick flick, but anytime I see this on, I stop what I am doing and watch it . . . and yes cry like a baby each and every time.  Shirley Maclain and Olympia Dukakis are my favorite characters in this movie.  I actually love the quote by Olympia Dukakis said to Dolly Parton, “You know what they say, If you don’t have anything nice to say about someone, come sit by me!”  That is usually how I open each “gossip girl’s night out”. 

1.) Shawshank Redemption – I can’t tell you how much I love this movie.  This movie speaks for itself and that is why it is number 1! 

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About four months ago, the hubs and I went on a date.  OK, we went on a date to a comfortable meal and then both Home Depot and Lowe’s.  We are in the middle of remodeling our house, when we get a chance to go to either of those stores without two small children, we jump at that chance.  Trust me, I can write a book on schlepping young children to home improvement stores successfully, but I will embrace a solo trip any day.

As we were leaving Home Depot, the hubs started shaking his head and said, “I just saw something that I just don’t understand!”  I got out of the truck and followed him.  There was this Harley Davidson with Disable Person plates on it.  At first I did not get what the big deal was until he pointed out how difficult riding a motorcycle is.  He has been an avid rider of some sort of motorcycle since he was 13 years of age.  He finally sold his “crouch rocket” right before we had kids, which I was secretly thrilled about.  He went on to say that a Harley could easily weigh 800 lbs. and it takes a good amount of body strength, coordination, timing, and personal balance  in general to maneuver and balance one of those beasts of the road. Operating that while being classified diable seems to be a major foley on the part of the DMV.

As we were climbing back into the truck, the owner hops on the Harley and proceeds to leave the parking lot.  I then realize that this could be a golden blogging opportunity and instruct the hubs to follow him so I can get a picture of this “anomaly of the road”.  Here I am hanging out the window with my cell phone trying to get a picture, the motorcycle is now clocking at about 60 miles per hour on the surface streets with us hot on his tail. It was like we were Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane shouting, “OOOOOOH! I’m in “Hot Pursuit!”  and he was the good ol’ Duke boys. 

He finally turns into a strip mall and we slink in behind him and wait for him to head into the liquor store before I jump out and get the prized evidence of such an amazing sight. I jumped in and we speed off like we robbed the joint before anyone knew the difference.    Now may I need to preference, that we are far from the profile types to try to tangle with a patch -wearing- biker, but seriously it was all for love of journalism… who am I kidding, blogging. 

After the adrenalin faded and the hubs and I chatted about this on a more serious note, we wondered how this could happen. We started checking off things that classify people “disabled”.  I, being a specialist in the workman’s  compensation arena for employers and have full knowledge and understanding of the ADA (American Disabilities Act) gave me an edge to dissect this issue. I understand that when you are classified disabled you are given certain work and daily life restrictions depending on the injury (most of the restrictions are involving lifting, pulling and pushing heavy objects and that restriction is usually under 50  lbs. Also sitting or standing for long periods of time can be a strong factor).  Driving a car vs. riding a motorcycle are two very different operations, while both need alertness, fast reflexes and good vision, the motorcycle carries a whole physical aspect a car could never compete with.  Trying to keep a 800 lb motorcycle balanced and off the ground is a challenge and if it indeed falls over on you, you are essentially screwed.   

In my professional experience, most major injuries that place people at a disability status is a back injury, then neck,  shoulder, knees  carpal tunnel syndrome, some head trauma, and in the geriatric/diabetic population is feet. There is a small population that has seizures controlled by meds, heart  and lung issues that can be classified as disabled.  There is an even smaller population that is deemed “psychologically disabled” (I don’t know why they call that a “small population”, we meet someone who fits in that category at least daily). 

First off the guy seemed to be fine, he drove like a bat out of hell and had the wits about him to be shopping for home improvement stuff as well as having good priorities of stopping off at the liquor store for his night-cap.  He maneuver that 800 lb piece of vibrating metal through traffic at high speeds with ease.  There was no evidence of being disabled, no limp in his walk, no weird tick with his head.  He had strength, wits, and a taste for fine liquor.  I can tell you of at lest two worker’s comp cases I had shut down and closed due to a joy ride on a motorcycle while out on disability, so me being a bit suspect to this guy came a little more nature than expected.  His disability may be legit, but we will never know. 

 I did search out the guidelines of what classifies you “disabled enough” to obtain those plates and the guidelines seem to cover areas that do not pertain to being able to operate a motorcycle and it appears you can get any ambulance chaser chiropractor to sign off on some of the listed disability status, which is somewhat disturbing.  I know of a couple of shady chiropractor, the hubs has scoliosis and I am going to need good parking spots for the holiday season. Hmmm…

The bottom line is I find it very disturbing to know that someone who is deemed disabled is operation a piece of machinery that requires an “all hands on deck” approach and the Department of Motor Vehicle seems to be fine with that. 

I have friends and family, within my inner circle, that are deemed 100% disabled due to many different and very ligament reasons.   They are good people, that have to face pain and daily adversity to deal with that disability.  Most of them battle depression, because they can’t do the things they used to enjoy (riding mortorcycles, horses, surfing, hiking, etc) and find other means and ways to cope with that reality.  None of them are hopping on a Harley and jet setting about the town at 60 miles an hour with the stamp of approval from the DMV.    To me it was a “riding” contradiction of what it means to be disabled and the DMV should have someone re-assessing their approval process for disability plates in the regards to motorcycles.

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OK blog buddies it has been way too serious for a while (which has been wonderful) but I need your help and I have to use humor behind this request because it is so bizarre of a task that Lord knows  is the only way I can convey my request of your assistance is with a bit of humor. Call it dark humor, call it I need therapy humor, call it anything, I just need help!  Frolicking Lady can straighten me out later!

My grandmother passed away a year ago this month.  Thus far the family has pretty much dissolved the estate and properties EXCEPT for two last pieces of property.  I have taken on this last task solo and it is a bit odd.  Never in a million years would I of ever thought would be selling this kind of property. 

This is where you guys come in!  I need suggestions, humor, advise, more humor, maybe a potential buyer and more humor to get this job done.  What I am selling is an all-inclusive resort that caters to the  final resting place for two.  Yes, I did draw the shortest straw at the last family meeting, thank you!

Apparently, my great-grandmother bought these and the ones my grandparents are resting in back in the early 60’s, not sure why she and my great-grandfather were not place there, but they were not.  None of the present family wants to take up valuable Southern California Real Estate, so here I am having to sell two six feet under properties. 

The views are amazing for those visiting so that could be a tag line… is that even appropriate to put as advertising? It is also placed in an exclusive Jewish section of the grounds, which is amusing since none of my family is Jewish, but I think it is neat.   I think it could add a whole other layer of desirability of being laid to rest among God’s chosen people. My poor grandmother is rolling over in her plot just down a few rows, but I think it is poetic justice. She was a mean old bird with plenty of prejudice . . .  I digress.  

Now I thought of posting this on Craigslist and then I thought how creepy would that be to arrange a showing of the plots to some possible psycho that plans on turning me into a lamp shade and then using that exact site to get rid of the evidence.  I did think of Ebay, but really, that is weird and I think I would have the police at my door wondering what I was up to.  I am too cheap to put an ad in the paper,so that option is out and then again I am faced with the same Craigslist psycho dilemma again.  I have called a few funeral homes and apparently there is some secret cemetery real estate society that only deals with their designated “plot brokers”.  Side note- if you find yourself in a job with the title “Plot Broker” you must have made some seriously wrong turns along the way or you are one odd duck.  Please, no offence to anyone that may be gainfully employed by this profession and reading this, just an observation that I could clearly be wrong in…. maybe?

Now the amazing part is that these puppies are worth a fortune!  They range about 17-20k a pair or 7-8k for a single plot.  I would have never guessed that there was so much money to be made from the cemetery real estate market. 

If you are reading this and have not been completely turned off by the way I use humor to deal with difficult things, I could really use your help and humor, mostly humor.  I will stop digging my self in a hole… wait… burying myself in embarrassment… wait. . . shooting myself in the foot… oh heck I just need friggin’ help please!  Now how in the world am I going to tag this post without getting flagged as some crazy person on WordPress and they block my blog page?

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Last weekend Camp Pie Hole kicked off the fall season!  I have to say this is the beginning of my favorite time of year.  I do wish I lived in a place that had four actual seasons, but I make the best of that and embrace what bit of a seasonal change we get.  Fall is the inspiration for Pie Hole’s Top Ten.

10.  We are in the midst of our Indian Summer! The days are warm, the Santa Ana’s are beginning to blow and the evenings are cool and crisp. 

9.    Harvest Festivals!

8.  All my shows are back from summer hiatus and each day my DVR welcomes me with many options of GOOD TV.

7.  Wine tasting at the vineyards!

6.  Even though it is HOT outside I embrace comfort food – pot roast, chili, apple muffins (from our tree), anything pumpkin, red wine and freshly baked bread!

5.  Costco, Lowe’s, Home Depot and most other retailers are beginning to seductively set up Christmas.  I call this Holiday foreplay!

4.  I have 90% of my Christmas shopping already done!

3.  The holiday catalogues are starting to bombard me!  LOVE IT!  Now I have to wrestle my two and half-year old over them!  I am rasing her well!

2.  Even though I hate football, it is nice to know it is there – it is the true sign that fall has arrived!

1.  The beginning of the crazy wild-eyed side of humanity who is gearing up for another season of running around acting like a “Jack”, ” Jenny” or “Hinny”, losing all perspective of selflessness and courtesy in the spirit of the holidays.  I am anticipating this time with a full “giddy” approach.  The material I am going to get will be priceless!

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