December 27, 2004

Bay of Bengal Disaster: How To Help

As the death toll resulting from the Bay of Bengal earthquake and tsunamis mounts, I think it appropriate to list charities who are taking donations in an effort to help those injured and displaced by the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

I also offer my deepest condolences to my human brothers and sisters hit by this disaster. In addition to what little I can do materially, I hold you all in my thoughts and prayers.

World Vision
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies
Indian Prime Minister's Relief Fund
Sri Lankan Relief Fund
The Canadian Catholic Organization for DEVELOPMENT AND PEACE

And, A Small Victory has a list of others, here.

Dec. 28th update: Scrappleface has additional resources for people who wish to help by making donations. (Hat tip to Powerpundit.)

Update #2:: FoxNews has more resources.

Dec. 29th Update: Amazon has stepped up to the plate. You can make donations with 1-click to the ARC for the Disaster Relief Efforts.

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December 21, 2004

Track Santa

I wanted to pop in for just a minute to provide a very cool link. (You'll like this one, Ethne.)

I think I linked this last year, but I want to do it again, because it's just So. Very. Cool. And fun!

Track Santa.

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posted by Linda at 09:36 PM : Comments (4)
December 16, 2004

Extended Absence Greeting: On

Between the loss of my grandfather, and now my Father-in-Law's illness, I just don't have the heart to write in this blog. I plan to be back, but... you know.

Whatever happens, I will let you all in on my plans. It's just that this has been a really, really rough year for me and my family, and I really, really need to focus on them, and on me.

I have a two year old daughter who will need to learn that things are different with her Papa, now. I have a husband whose heart is breaking, as he looks at his father, a man who has always been so hearty, lying so helplessly in a hospital bed; looking fragile for the first time in his life. My Sister-in-Law is beside herself, trying to get our Mom, one of the world's strongest women, to take care of herself; to eat, rest, shower, and breathe some outside air. I have my Mother-in-Law, who properly refuses to leave her husband's side, and who is screaming and crying inside. You just have to look in her eyes to see it. I also need to consider my SIL's husband and son, who are being rather shorted while she focuses on our parents. (If I can get there, and relieve her, then those good lads will get more time with her.)

They need me. And I need to be there with them.

I promise that I shall do my best to make sure that I don't tap myself dry. I'll be sure to play with my baby, rest my head on my husband's chest, take a hot bath at the end of the day, eat right, and take my paper journal with me. I'll be finishing my needlework, too.

So, don't feel that you, my dear readers, are unimportant to me. I love that you take time out of your day to stop by and read my little rants. I love writing, and truth to tell, my muse never really leaves me alone. It's when I'm ready to hang it all up that the fickle bitch starts hanging out by my bedside, waking me in the night with thoughts and inspiration.

All I have to say is that my particular demi-goddess of inspiration had better bring the Good-Luck and Smiling-Fortune Fairy with her when she stops by, or I'll be posting pictures of my brand-new muse-skin coat.

Merry Christmas with much love,

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posted by Linda at 06:39 PM : Comments (3)
December 15, 2004

Prayers, please?

It seems like this year has been one crisis after another. I hoped the tide would change at Samhain: when the year-wheel turns for pagans. But it didn't.

My Father-in-law had a major stroke, yesterday. He's in pretty rough shape.

Can you pray for/meditate on/well-wish my family, please?

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posted by Linda at 04:22 PM : Comments (3)
December 09, 2004

A Soldier's Last Request

UPDATE: Blackfive updated his original post with a link to Spc. Mahlenbrock's hometown paper. People wishing to make contributions may send them here:

Maple Shade High School
David Mahlenbrock Memorial Fund
180 Fredrick Ave.
Maple Shade, N.J. 08052

Condolences may be sent to the family, care of the funeral home mentioned in the article.

Blackfive writes to elicit our help in making sure that a warrior's last request is honored.

Specialist David Mahlenbrock was killed by an IED in Kirkuk, Iraq on December 3rd. He is survived by his wife, infant daughter, parents, and siblings -- one of whom was born only a few weeks ago. He wrote a letter to be delivered to his squad in the event of his death, which reads (in part):

Dear 1st Squad,

If you’re reading this, then I’ve died for our country. I just hope it wasn’t for nothing.

After the IED went off yesterday, I wanted to write this in case something happens to me. There are a few more letters that I’d like you to give my wife and family.

I’d like to have a military funeral, but, if you can work please make sure that Toby Keith’s “American Soldier” is played at the ceremony in addition to the bagpipes. If they won’t let it happen, that’s ok, thanks for trying…...

I know that all the belongings I have here will go to Melissa, but there are a few more things I’d like for you guys to make sure she gets. I have a dog tag w/ our picture on it along w/ some pictures and an American flag in my left breast pocket. There is also a can that says “Son” on it that Melissa’s parents gave me that I’d like for them to have, and that angel stone should go to her grandma and grandpa Snow.

Now if I died w/ blue eyes (one blew that way and one blew the other way) and there’s nothing really left of me, that’s ok, I know you meant well.

Alright, enough with the dead guy’s last request, there’s a lot of thank you’s I wanna say to you fellas……

David will be laid to rest at 10AM, EST on Wednesday, December 15th in Arlington National Cemetery. His family and friends are asking radio stations to play Toby Keith's "American Soldier" at 1PM, EST that day.

Please email or call the radio stations in your area and ask them to play the dedication to David. Blackfive invites us to copy his post to send to them.

I've already emailed K99 in Greeley, Colorado. Please do the same in your neck of the woods.

Thanks, team.

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posted by Linda at 09:16 PM : Comments (3)
December 08, 2004

We'll See Him Run for Public Office in 30 Years.

Looks like this cowardly, lying fuck is borrowing a page from the playbook of John Kerry.

He'll do and say anything to avoid facing a deserter's fate. Canada can keep him.

I know better. I get regular correspondence from real soldiers in-theatre, committed to the mission, and to seeing it through.

For another person who knows the truth, and has still more links to people who know the truth, visit Blackfive. On any given day, Blackfive has links to articles that show the truth, and he receives letters that portray the fact that our troops are not savages, but are compassionate, caring Warriors who spare the innocent and destroy the evildoer.

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posted by Linda at 05:03 PM : Comments (3)
December 07, 2004

Life, Laughter, and Farewell

We really goofed last night. Little Miss' Christmas present arrived from Amazon. Her Daddy intercepted the package before we got home, but left it sitting on our bed. Unthinkingly, we let her toddle up the stairs per normal (she likes to brush her teeth before and after dinner -- I'm doing something right), and she took her usual come-catch-me detour into our bedroom.

I heard her gasp. S. cursed softly. We followed her in, to see her standing by the side of our bed, hands clasped under her chin, eyes alight, agape with delight. Hokey Pokey Elmo stood there like some pagan priest, absorbing the adoration of his most devoted acolyte.

I'm not exactly sure how we got her distracted without a lot of screaming and tears, but we somehow managed. Elmo is now hiding deep in the recesses of our closet. We just hope she forgets about him over the next couple of weeks. Fortunately, she never saw her birthday present, hidden in the other deep recesses of our closet.


I love the Yuletide season more than ever. I have my daughter to thank for that. It was one thing to observe traditions I grew up with because they feel and smell right, and another thing altogether to introduce them to her. I love watching her face light up at the sight of Christmas lights, snowmen, and yes, even Santa Claus.

It won't be long and she'll be looking forward to the month of green-and-red-and-white right by my side, asking to bake gingerbread, and bugging Daddy about decorating the tree.

(I think it won't be long before my poor husband just disappears sometime around Thanksgiving, to re-emerge somewhere in the middle of January.)

December is both more joyful and stressful for us since she was born. Not only do we have the joy of Yuletide, but we also have her birthday. Despite the fact that she was born exactly two weeks before Christmas, we decided to make sure that she gets two separate events. It doesn't seem fair for kids born around the holidays. I get a birthday party in August, and later celebrate Yuletide; why shouldn't she have separate celebrations, too?

So, on December 11th, she will have her second birthday party, complete with Nemo party favors (if I can find them) and a Nemo novelty cake. She'll celebrate with her immediate family, including S.'s parents, her Auntie and Uncle, and her cousin. Grandma is taking care of the balloons, and we're picking up the pizza. We'll have the party at Grandma's house, because it's the most centralized spot for family gatherings.

She's getting a Little People Doodle Pro for her birthday. She loves to draw. She's already been through three sets of (washable!) crayons in the last four months. I have enough toddler art to wallpaper a bedroom, and don't think that some primal Mommy part of my brain hasn't been fleetingly tempted. Of course I have the most accomplished, talented, charming, and beautiful child on the planet. My saving grace is that I only say these things to myself, and post them on my blog so my regular readers can laugh at me.

We ordered The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland for her. She will most likely get it for Christmas. (Unless I get suicidally tired of The Tigger Movie before then.) As far as the Elmo movie goes, I have one name to offer as adult rationale: Mandy Patinkin.

You may well ask the reason behind this sudden welcome for the red plush demon who was previously fair Pawnee range fodder, and all I can say is that she stands almost three feet tall, has big blue eyes, and the most infectious giggle I've ever heard in my life.

Two years. Two freakin' years. Ethne, Briar -- you guys remember when I was still gestating her? Sweet Mother Goddess. Two years. Now she's talking in sentences, and running and climbing; and just the other day she walked up to S., (who was napping on the couch) to poke him imperiously, "Wake up, Daddy!" She's starting to pick out her own clothes, and decides what she wants for breakfast.

Two years later, and I'm as crazy-in-love as ever.

Last night, she tilted her head just-so, and I saw my grandmother in her face. I had to look away and blink hard before I went over and kissed her.

This brings me back to a subject I've been avoiding for the last several days, just because I'm still raw. But my grandfather's funeral was beautiful, I'm told, and my father walked away with a sense of peace and completion.

This is a very awkward segueway, and I'm still not positive that a post about the joy of the holiday season with my daughter should include a description of the final farewells we paid my grandfather, but he loved Christmas too, and was one of those men who kept the spirit of the season in his heart all year.

Grandpa was the one who showed me how to put ornaments on the tree. I learned my first really juicy curse word while watching him string lights on the eaves of his house. (Grandma was pissed. She tore strips out of him in Czech, and all he did was stand there and laugh.)

It also turns out that Grandpa was a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He never talked about it much, and I'd forgotten about the strangely beautiful lapel pin he would wear, but my father reminded me when he said that he buried Grandpa with it. It seems that my grandfather was a real hero; one of those generous souls who help others without making mention of it. He never expected or received any fanfare. It was enough just to make sure that he left the world a little better than he found it.

In the end, he did get a measure of the honor he deserved. The cemetery was closed, thanks to rain, but Dad told me that after the eulogy was delivered at the church, the Marines stepped proudly forward.

They saluted their elder brother, and played Taps over him. They took the flag from his coffin, and folded it with loving care. Then they played the Marine Corps Hymn for him before presenting the flag to my father. Then, quietly, the officer in charge told my family that it was an honor to be there, and that men like my grandfather were his personal inspiration.

It was all my father could do to maintain his composure. My mother later told me that my father's chin came up, his shoulders squared, and even red-rimmed, his eyes were dry when he thanked the Marine and returned his salute.

There's a lesson in this. A life well-lived is its own reward. Honorable men and women will be remembered with honor when they are gone. The best thing we can do is to give of ourselves selflessly, without thought for reward or recognition. If we can do that while loving and guiding a child, then we can be sure that the future will be brighter, for they will be inspired to carry on in their grandparents' footsteps.

I'll do my best to make sure that The Miss knows that she comes from a long line of principled men and women. I will strive to be like them; to be worthy of their legacy. Then, hopefully one day, she will feel the same tug in her soul, and will proudly say, "My grandfathers were generous, honorable men, and my grandmothers were women of beauty and strength. I want to be like them."

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posted by Linda at 08:36 PM : Comments (3)
December 02, 2004

Holiday Interlude

Pepsi Cola has come out with their "Holiday Spice" limited edition holiday soft drink. I noticed that the label pointedly avoided mention of just what those "spices" are, but like the caffeine-addicted freak I am, I went ahead and snagged a bottle. "I'll just try it," I thought, "After all, I like Vanilla Coke."


What brainiac at Pepsico thought it was an even remotely good idea to blend cola with cinnamon and ginger??? "No way," I thought. "I'm imagining things. There is no way that I'm tasting what I think I'm tasting."


Go see for yourself.

The cola even has an extra shot of Red #40 for that cheery holiday message of, "Not only do we want to outrage your tastebuds, we also want to make sure you get that critical dose of carcenogenic food coloring agent you always wanted."

In short, I think this stuff is nasty. Imbibe at your own risk. I think that the only thing that will get this taste out of my mouth is a cat's ass.


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posted by Linda at 08:12 PM : Comments (11)
December 01, 2004

HCBA Evolves!

We have several new members in the High Country Bloggers' Alliance. Not only can you find them on the sidebar, I shall also list the entire roll of VRWC co-conspirators, er, Illuminati, er, talented bloggers (that's what I meant) here:

These writers are daily must-reads.


Just so regular readers know, yes, I am kind of on hiatus, still. I do plan to get back to blogging ASAP. My grandfather's death has knocked me flat on my ass, and I cannot begin to believe just how grieved I am. I never thought that I wouldn't be able to square my shoulders and march onward without doing more than flinching. But I loved him. He was a second father figure to me. I miss him. I've been reflecting on his life, and I think I've found a direction to follow, using him as my inspiration. He was a life-loving, open-handed sort with a big laugh and eagle-eyes.

Format around here will change. Yes, there will be four-letter ranty goodness, but I have other things to talk about. Please stand by while thought slowly gels in my tired brain.

Much love,

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posted by Linda at 09:35 PM : Comments (0)