usoThe USO rocks. When the Army transferred me from Arizona to Alaska in February, 1976, I had an overnight layover in the Seattle airport. All my baggage was somewhere in the airport for changing planes, so I was stuck in my dress uniform. I had a little pocket money with me, but not enough for an airport meal. I hadn’t been issued any winter clothing yet, so my uniform jacket was all there was between me and the air conditioning in the airport. I was tired from 12 hours of hitting every airport from LA to Seattle, literally spending more time on take offs and landings than in the air. The last meal I’d had was breakfast – the flights were all too short for snacks, so the kitchens hadn’t been stocked.

Cold, hungry, with no place to go and nothing to do, I wandered the airport wishing there was something more than hard plastic chairs to spend the night on.

After a couple of hours, I found an out-of-the-way office with a USO sign on the door. I’d never been to one, but went in and was greeted by a woman old enough to be my grandma and the sight of a box of doughnuts on a counter. She set up a cot in a quiet corner, and after a sweet dinner I finally got to relax and get some sleep before flying up to Fairbanks.

The USO has done this and much, much more, for countless members of the military, traveling where they go, setting up where they’ll be. We all know about the entertainment they arrange, but they do a lot more that seldom gets any publicity.

In 2017, as you think about possible charities to give to, please consider the USO. If you can help, please do. If you can’t, send a prayer for them and everyone they help. Those three letters are home when home is a long way away.


David’s world debut

This is David’s world premiere performance on the ukulele, which, in case you miss it, plays a huge part in his lyric choice. At only eight years old, David is a self-taught musician, lyricist and choreographer. Please note the floor moves he has created, especially the spins. All aspiring musicians, please make note that socks, not shoes, are the required footwear for advanced moves like these.

All press release seriousness aside, he’s a cool kid with a big talent for music. Enjoy.

Here yesterday, gone today

Until last night, this was the view of the east side of the house I’m staying at.

hanging gutter

As you can see, the ice has done a job on the gutters. Luckily, this is the only one with serious problems so far; some others have been bending, but still hanging in there (pun intended).

Last night, though, things changed a bit. The temps are a tad warmer and the snow & ice on the roof is a tad slidier. Around 10 p.m., there was a very loud whump that shook the house. This is what caused the commotion – the ice and snow finally let loose, finally knocking the gutter to the ground. It’s crumpled in the corner by the house.

downed gutter

At least the snow on the top floor should drop easier now.

So far, we’ve had about 15 inches of snow. With Monday being forecast at 50F with showers during the week, who knows how much will last and how much will end up as ice covering the ground. This is on the deck.

snow depth 12-19-16

A Michigan magic bbq mushroom. It grew a little more before it died a quick death by snow shovel yesterday.

bbq mushroom

Even with the gutter falling, there’s still a lot of snow & ice up there. Even though I lived in Michigan until I was 10, I never knew snow could deform like this. It almost makes being cold worth it.

needs to fall snow bump

BUT, not everything is snowy here. Cold, yes. Here’s a shot of five of the feral cats who share our home, staying warm together under a lamp. This is a major step for the top left girl; she’s usually camped outside somewhere on her own.

cuddling cats

Before I leave you to go get some more wood for the fires, here’s a view of melting icycles. Merry almost Christmas!

Lake effect snow

Lake effect snow happens when cold air passes over warmer lake water, causing it to pick up more moisture than is normal, creating more snow than is normal. It makes for snowy weather with lots of variety – flurries, showers, big flakes, white-outs – and lots of very white scenery.

Lake-effect snow and icycles hanging from the back roof.

Mouse or chipmunk tracks on the deck. Hope it didn’t find the cats!

The yard has gone from blazing with fall colors to funky brown, dead leaves to nicely frosted with snow. It looks like a Christmas card out there.

One of the trees outside my bedroom window. It definitely looks better covered in snow.

Be Nice Mondays

It’s Be Nice Monday and here’s how it works:

A lot of people hate Mondays. Whether they didn’t get all their weekend stuff done, have a lousy job they’re going back to, argued with the kids over getting ready for school or their team lost the big Sunday game, there’s a lot of bad-tempered or just plain down people out there today. Be Nice Monday seeks to help those I-hate-Mondays folks by not being one of them.

There are lots of ways to do that. One might be letting someone pull in front of you while driving and not cussing them out. Another, compliment someone you normally wouldn’t, like the busboy in a restaurant or the stocker in a store. Help somebody carry stuff to or from their car. Give your bus or subway seat to somebody. Hold the door for the person behind you. Say thanks to someone doing their job. Share your snack with someone. You can buy the person behind you’s drink. Don’t argue back. Shovel the snow for your neighbor when you do yours. Smile and say g’morning.

I’m sure you can think of plenty of other ways to be nice on Mondays. If enough of us join in, maybe Monday won’t be quite such a bad day. I know it’ll help you feel better today. Share or keep what you do today to yourself – either way works fine.