"Roundheads and Ramblings"
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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

memories

A Bittersweet Day

On this Veteran's Day, I am headed off to a weekend meeting of a Lions organization, where my Vietnam veteran husband will be inducted into a Hall of Honor for those who have served the blind and sight-impaired in this four state area. For the past 75 years, the Mid-South Lions Sight and Hearing Service has been providing free vision and hearing treatments for those who cannot afford the help they need. Only nineteen other individuals have been so honored.

Mid-South was Floyd's second home. He served as a Vice President for Tennessee for four years and then as president of the organization. When his term was over, he went back to being a faithful and busy committee member and chairperson.  He attended every meeting, worked on every fund-raiser, and donated as much as he could from his own pocket.  When he was working out his own end-of-life arrangements, he asked that no one send flowers. He wanted such money to go to pay for surgeries to restore someone's sight.

So, yes, today is bittersweet. I wish he could have been here to receive this honor, although I suspect he might have asked that it go to someone else. That it happens on Veteran's Day Weekend is something of a coincidence, but maybe there are no such coincidences. The same need to serve others that took him into the Air Force also took him to Vietnam and then to a series of leadership roles among Tennessee Lions.

But let the occasion speak to you. Don't wait. Find that veteran who risked all and sacrificed more than you can know, and salute him for his service. Say thank you while you still can.

Semper Fi


























Sgt. Jack M. Kerner
1917--2001

In memory of my brother who died on this date, July 39, fifteen years ago. At the outbreak of World War II, he tried to enlist in the Canadian Air Force, but he washed out of pilot training when he failed his flight physical. Determined to get into the fight, he joined the United States Marine Corps the day after Pearl Harbor and spend the rest of the war in the South Pacific, including the battles of Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal. He later fought in the Korean War and served as a forward observer at the hydrogen bomb tests at Eniwetok.

After he retired from military service in 1962 he tried his hand at teaching high school woodworking classes and a landscape gardening business. He suffered lifelong disabilities, both physical and psychological, from his wartime experiences, but he was a survivor, living to be eight-four.

Odd Memory of the Day: Meet Larry the Lizard

Technically Larry the Lizard is a blue-tailed skink. He's actually longer than he looks here. While I haven't caught him and measured him, I'm guessing that nose to tail, he measures a good eight inches long. Larry lives on my front porch and has become the favorite playmate of my youngest cat, Swizzle. She sits at the glass door, watching intently, as he does tricks for her on the porch. I often find him very close to the door, looking back at the little gray cat. I don't usually mind having him around, because in addition to providing feline entertainment, he eats the small bugs that would otherwise be eating my plants.

This morning, however, I was not fond of him.  I went out to pick some basel and noticed what I thought was a scrap of blue plastic newspaper wrapping in one of my planters. But when I reached for it, I discovered it was actually a blue tail (and yes, unlike the picture here, Larry's tail is a very vivid blue.) The close and slightly slimy encounter brought back a vivid memory from my long-forgotten past as a high school teacher.

I was all of 25 years old and was teaching an English class in a school located in the panhandle of Florida.  I was also training a student teacher from the University of Florida, and this was the first day for her to take over the class. I was observing from the back of the room when I "observed" a student pull a small green lizard out of his pocket and start to move his hand stealthily toward the neck of the girl sitting in front of him. Visualizing the chaos about to descend on the room, I moved quickly, without thinking, to his side, snapped my fingers at him and held out my palm.  Caught in the act, he had no choice but to hand me the lizard. I carried it out of the room and out of the building, tossing it away when I reached the lawn.

Only then did I look down and see that the  #$%$  lizard had chewed an L-shaped cut into the fleshly part of my palm at the base of the thumb. I was bleeding rather badly, so I went to the office, hoping to beg a band-aid from the school nurse. One comment led to another, and I was soon surrounded by people who had to hear the whole story. Our biology teacher happened to be in the office, and he added fuel to the fire by saying that our local lizards did not have teeth, so the one than had bitten me must have been a tropical lizard from a pet store. And then he pronounced gravely. "We'd better find it. It could be poisonous." Soon we had a small search party combing the grass where i had released the culprit--but without success. Poor little thing must have run for his life!

Then the biology teacher returned with a new report. He had looked up our local lizards, and had discovered that during mating season, the male lizard grows a horny plate on the roof of his mouth that allows him to bite the neck of his lady lizard. So the new diagnosis was that my bite was probably not poisonous. The lizard was just looking for a mate.  I had to live with that label for the rest of the school year -- "The Teacher Who Was Attacked by a Horny Lizard."


Where Are Your Memories Stored?

Where are your memories stored? Sometimes they are caught up in a single sound.  That happened to me yesterday. On an impulse we decided to stop at a newish restaurant for lunch. The name alone--"Lettuce Eat"--made it a fun idea, particularly since we're still cutting calories around here.

What a find it was! They serve only fresh salads (and wraps made from salads) and the food was fabulous, but for me the best moment came when I heard a drumbeat-like sound that echoed faintly through the whole restaurant. It came from the salad choppers, using a wicked looking double handled blade to chop and blend each salad on a large white cutting board.

You can read more about this great addition to the Memphis restaurant scene here: http://styleblueprint.com/memphis/everyday/lettuce-eat/

And what was the memory stirred up by that pounding sound? It took me back to 1983 and my first visit to Mont-St-Michel in France. We stayed at La Mere Poulard Hotel, whose kitchen is famous for its omellette -- a frothy, almost meringue-like concoction unlike any American omelet you've ever tasted. The sound -- the same drumlike beat that goes on and on--came from the cooks in the kitchen, who were whipping the eggs with huge whisks in copper bowls.














Both restaurants are unique in their own locations, both for the same reasons, which include absolutely fresh food prepared by hard-working hands -- a combination that somehow produces a music all its own.

Thanks for the memory.