Flow - Just Livin'

Flow - Just Livin'
Florida Sunrise

Thursday, 11 November 2010

In Honor of Our Veterans

My Grandfather, Irvin Cox, served in the Infantry in World War I. Grandma’s brothers served in World War II – Richard Wells in the Army and Fred Wells in the Navy. My dad, Elvis Dudley, served in the Navy during the Korean War. My son, Eric Shehan, served in the Navy during the U.S. involvement in the Balkans, 1994-1998. As a Thank You to them and all our veterans, I’d like to post a portion of Grandpa Cox’s short memoir, handwritten in a pocket-sized book of graph paper - an Ozark country boy’s experience as a private in the Old Hickory division in World War I.

Irvin F Cox left home on the 23 day of Jun 1918 and went to Camp Pike Ark on the 24 day of the same month and trained there for almost two month and then started for France on the 22 of August.”

Born in Larue, Arkansas, Irvin had little formal education, and had not traveled outside the region in which he grew up, but his writings demonstrate his interest in the new experiences and surroundings.

“I arrived at Camp Merritt NJ and camp there for five days and then went to Hobokin (sic) and boarded a small ship for New York where I boarded a British ship called the Kattalonia (Caledonia) . . . I boarded a American ship and sailed for France and I sure did sail for it was a fast runner.”

Upon reaching the port city of Le Havre, Private Cox was transferred to a training camp for about one month. Apparently quarters were scarce for the Allied troops.

“When I first got there I slep (sic) in a barn for some time and then moved to a garage room after I got my training. Then I went to Ecomoy (Ecommoy) and got on a troop train and went through Le Mans and Paris and lots of other towns and when I arrived I was for one week in a Belgian Camp.

“I had some time there for I had to go about two miles after my meals three times a day. I went to BeCourt (Bellicourt) through some towns that the Germans had captured and was recaptured. They was all shot to pieces. All the roofs was shot off some of the buildings and holes in brick walls that I could walk through. They was the first tranches (trenches) I had seen. They was tranches in ever field and bob wire intenglement (barbed wire entanglement) of all kind and some big shell holes. It looked like war to me.”

For nearly four months, Irvin drilled and wrote letters home while awaiting his orders, and then the “fortunes of war” dealt a surprising hand.

“Well, when I got to BeCourt (Bellicourt) I was there two weeks. We was aimed to go in to (front) lines in a few days and one evening the captain came out and read a few lines to us that read like this: ‘Today at 11 o’clock this great war ended and now we will only wait for our time to go home.’

“And then we sure did some howling and ever thing that we could think of. We sure was happy to think that we might get to go home again.”

“After the war was over we went to Vermie and drilled, past several reviews, and had some diversion, then went to La Bazoge and went on the rifle range. I was there two weeks. I spent Christmas and New Year’s there and then went back to Vermie. Went to Le Mans, was on the way for two days with Harvey Pack. It was a tiresome trip, but arrived all right.”

A poor farm boy was always interested in food, so the sight of a camp full of soldiers eating together was fascinating.

“The name of the camp was Forwarding Camp. They was lots of soldiers there. There was 1000 of us eat at one kitchen. But that was not as many as I have seen eat at one place. I had eat where there was 3400. It sure was some place to eat. Mud was so deep I could hardly walk. After one month and one day I left there and went to St Nazaire. I was took out of Company M and went in the Camp Pike Detachment.”

Despite the turbulent voyage, Private Cox’s exuberance at returning to the U.S is characteristic of many Doughboys.

“On the last day of March I boarded the USS Martha Washington, and on the first day of April I sailed for the U.S. and was on the water for 13 days and I arrived at Charleston, SC . . . the water was very rough and was quite a few of the boys sick and ‘feeding the fish’ . . . but was proud to git back to the USA once more.

“On the 19 of April I boarded a troop train and started for Camp Pike . . . on the 21 I arrived at Pike and on the 25 I got my discharge and beat it for home the morning of the 25 day of April 1919.”

Thank You, Veterans

Irvin Cox and Lela Wells Cox on their wedding day, 1921.

Irvin Cox (front left), Jimmie Williams, Sherman Curtis, and Shirley Strain. Irvin's inscriptions reads, "OLD HICKORY NUTS. Look hard, and just as hard as they look. This picture was taken at Seggrie, France, January the 19, 1919. My weight was 160 pound. I was feeling fine but could have felt better."

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Shameless Plug

I always say I have been busy, but really I have. Today I am only going to be busy at the relaxing at the beach -- I hope. It may rain, but in that case, the backup plan is to go to the gym and relax in the sauna and hot tub.

I was asked to increase my hours at work for about a month, for "training" purposes, and because they are re-writing their procedures manual, and thought I would be the perfect guinea pig/test project, since I don't know all the procedures. So I am working about 30 hours\, and then they said, well, it might last more than a month -- maybe 6 months. Not sure I like that, because it takes too much time from my school work, which has suffered. I seem to postpone my studying and writing too often. At this time I am working on re-building our home business website, a sort of on-the-job training/class. When I can present the finished project, along with a paper or presentation on how it was done...tada! I get credit for the class.

It sounds a lot easier than it is. Unless you have taken classes, online, you may not understand how much time and effort it takes to "educate your own damn self" to quote Chris Rock. He has an entire stand-up routine on the subject, because he says that's what his father told him when he wanted to go to college. He says he wouldn't like to go to a doctor whose diploma says he educated his own damn self!

When you take online classes, especially getting ILP (Independent Learning Pursuit) credit through DePaul University, you are responsible for everything on your own. Deciding what books and articles to read, when to read, when to write and when, what, and why to write and submit your essays/theses. To me it is infinitely more difficult than sitting in a classroom, listening to lectures and reading what the instructor assigns, taking tests, and finishing at a specific time. More time consuming, much more research, and a lot more agony!

Oh, and while I have it, I would like to focus your attention to a website. My daughter-in-law, Amber is an industrious young lady who makes candles and various arts and crafts, along with her signature creation, infused honey. I have had some of this honey, and it is wonderful in tea, coffee, and just about anything else you want to sweeten. Check out her website and pamper yourself a little!


Now, I'm off to the beach!

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Eric and Amber Visit!

Such a long time since I blessed you all with my musings! I have been busy with many extremely important things.....

I think the greatest deterrent to writing had to be the crash of the computer. Not mine - Jesse's. Almost everything was malfunctioning, and we discovered the automatic updates had not been automatically updating. So, he saved his files to an external drive and ran a full restore. Weird result: some of programs that had been installed before are now unable to install because they are "too old" according to Windows. Same computer, same programs. A frequently-heard comment around our house: "I hate Microsoft."

So, because all the business files and bookkeeping, etc were on those old programs, we lost it all, and I have been re-creating forms and letters and customer files.

In April, Eric and Amber came to visit for 5 days, and it was wonderful to see them! We had such a good time - mostly talking, but also going to the beach, a short tour of the Shell Factory, and an Everglades tour. We barbequed and went out for sushi, and I finally tasted sake. Didn't like it much; tasted like cough syrup. I'll post pictures sometime.

After Eric and Amber's visit, I had a job interview for a part-time accountant position with a payroll/employee leasing/human resource management-type company, called a PEO or Professional Employer Organization. The company is Smart Payroll Solutions. I started the job last week, working 15 hours per week, which will hopefully allow time for my life. Interestingly, they are using software similar to the software Arvest Bank used in the 1990s! DOS-based and slow, but there isn't a lot I can do to mess up, so that's a plus! They use a lot of Excel spreadsheets, which I know pretty well, also thanks to Arvest. I took a test a few months ago which categorized my Excel knowledge as "well above average," - a boost to my confidence which was plummeting precipitously due to the inability to find work.

So now I won't be babysitting any more, and I will miss Kylee so much! I hope to be able to keep her sometimes, if her parents need me.

I think a visit to northwest Arkansas will also help! Lela is saying "Nonnie" now, as well as about a hundred other words, and even recognizes a few written words. Smart baby. Smart parents, too. I hope to visit soon.

Almost 2 weeks ago, our tuxedo cat, Lenny disappeared, and though we have posted flyers and craigslist ads, and alerted the microchip registry, he hasn't been found. We are so bereft ... he added so much to our lives. Though we had to deal with his prey in the house, and his pestering the old cat, Delilah, it was fun. I still hope that he will reappear, but it's dwindling.

About the same time as Lenny's disappearance, Jesse pinched a nerve in his neck, and has only been able to work limited hours. It seems to be healing, but slowly. We even bought an inversion table last week so he could get a few minutes release from pressure. That's an interesting thing to experience! You should try one if you get the chance!

So, that's about it ... again with the adjustments!

Now I'm off to the gym!

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Cooper's Hawk

Several people have asked for an update on the Hawk. We called the CROW office today, and the doctor said that he died last night. They gave him some painkillers, but he apparently had a neck injury as we thought. He said it was a Cooper's Hawk. He was a beautiful bird. Jesse said the doctor thanked us for caring enough to bring him in, however, so that was good. I thought they might lecture us on trying to rescue it ourselves without the proper training.

Some of you have mentioned Wild Kingdom, and I would have to agree. I have so enjoyed all the wildlife out here, and being on the canal. We see interesting animals all the time. I remembered to ask Jesse about the hog pictures last night, so I'll try to post some of those soon. They babies were so cute. I love little pigs.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Saturday Part One

"It was a morning like any other morning...." No, obviously not!

"I had nothing to do that day...." Hahahaha!

"It was a quiet, warm Florida morning..." Not even close.

"It was a dark and stormy night...." No, Snoopy, sorry it doesn't work here either.

Essentially, it began Friday night........

Saturday Part 2

I did wake Saturday morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, but it was laced with another rather puzzling odor. I went into the kitchen and poured a cup, added the sweetener and French vanilla creamer and headed into the office where Jesse was doing some photography work on the computer.

“Does something smell weird to you?” I asked. “Sort of wine-y?”

“Yes, I noticed a strange smell too, and couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.”

We both walked into the dining room where the smell grew stronger. Delilah was catnapping on one of the chairs under the table. We sniffed. Skunk.

“Oh no, I’ve never had to give her a bath before!” I whined. “She is NOT going to like it!”

“Do you want me to go to the store for tomato juice?” Jesse offered generously. Mmhmm. He didn’t offer to wash the cat.

“No, that didn’t work with Onyx. Jerry Dragoo the skunk guy said to use chlorine bleach. I’ll try that. AFTER breakfast.”

So we had pancakes and eggs and bacon (the Saturday Menu) and Jesse left to pick up Logan for the weekend while I cleaned up the kitchen and prepared to bathe the Cat.

Saturday Part 3

Yes, I realize I have yet to post video or photos of the new house. I hope to get to that soon, but for now, picture in your mind the following scene……

One the east side of our house, the living room looks out over an enclosed lanai (a screened-in porch for my Arkansas friends and family). Jesse made a small door of plexiglass in one window so the cats could get in and out on their own, and enjoy the weather. And not drive us insane with constant meowing to go in and out. A very nice fixture, and Kylee, the 14-month-old girl I’ve been babysitting loves throwing her toys out of it.

Recently a driving wind ruined the door closer to the screened door on the lanai, so the door is open about six inches. This is good for the cats, but it was not so good Saturday morning.

I was washing off the countertops with my back to the cat door when I heard the blinds clatter and a small crashing sound. I turned just in time to see Lenny, the tuxedo cat, dive through the cat door with what looked like a black whip flying behind him like a cowboy’s lariat. I screamed. I’m not sure what; just suffice it to say I screamed.

It was a snake about four feet long, and Lenny had it by the tail!

Of COURSE he turned it loose in the living room and it got away from him, but was having trouble on the slippery tile floor, so Lenny was able to pounce on it.

I’m thinking, Get a shovel, get a bucket, call Jesse, get the camera

“Lenny, catch that snake!”

Living on a canal, I have been observant about the possibility of snakes, but haven’t seen a poisonous one yet. Not wanting to take chances, I grabbed the phone and called Jesse.

Who had just survived an adventure of his own when he stopped to photograph a family of wild hogs. The female started to charge and pawed the ground. He thought he could run and leap over a barbed wire fence, but noticed that the bottom wire was about three feet off the ground. He decided to run for the car, and made it. He got some pretty good pictures.

He said that, from my description, it was probably an indigo snake. They are a protected species in Florida, and he said we want them because they eat the poisonous snakes. That sounds reasonable, but now that I think about it, what is it doing here? Eating poisonous snakes. That must mean we HAVE POISONOUS SNAKES!

Pacifist that he is, he told me to get a bucket out of the garage and put it over the snake until he got home. He wanted to identify it.

I had calmed down by now, and thought it looked non-poisonous, so I found the camera and took a few TELEPHOTO shots. Then I got a bucket and, gingerly standing as far away as possible (and prepared to wet myself if it crawled my way) turned it upside-down over the snake and set a large clay flower pot on top of it.

When Jesse and Logan got home, we got a cookie sheet and slid it underneath the bucket and THEY carried the snake outside and released it in the brush.

We decided to close the cat door at night, at the very least. We don’t want critters slithering around when we’re asleep!

Saturday Part 4

Jesse and Logan decided to go back to a garage sale they had passed and buy Logan’s birthday present of choice: a dirt bike. To paraphrase Logan, “To my big brother, it’s a dirt bike; to my friends, it’s a motorcycle; to my mom, it’s a minibike.”

While they were working with the dirt bike, I gave Delilah a shower with bleach water. She must have been so grateful to get that smell off, because she did not fight, scratch, or try to get away. She was not a happy camper, however, as her picture reveals. But the house definitely smells better!

With the cat smelling baby fresh and the mess from the snake cleaned up (though Lenny was still searching for it), I took the camera outside to shoot some pictures of the boys with their new toy.

You know, I think I’ll just let the photos tell that story.

Saturday - Conclusion

And now, as I’m writing this, a hawk or falcon just flew into my back door! He crashed into the yard, and I think he hurt his spine because he can’t stand. So, while I’m waiting on the nature center to call me back about helping him, he is in a box in the bathroom, protected from the cats. There is a large flock of migrating robins outside, and he was probably trying to catch one. I’ll update everybody when I get info!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

New Kat On The Block

People who have known us for long (I’d say a few days is enough) know that Jesse and I are animal lovers. Only one of our five pets was personally selected by us. The rest were abandoned or lost and we found ourselves (more or less) adopted.

Chewbacca is the newcomer. Chewie for short, of course. We thought he looked like the big “wookie” from Star Wars, with his long hair, big body, and exceptionally big hairy paws. Oh, and don’t forget a voice that could stop (or start) a riot. He is probably the most vocal cat I’ve ever had.

Chewie also has two other exceptional characteristics: He has “thumbs,” the toe that usually sits back on the inside of the paw is long, nimble and extends beyond and separate from his other toes. He uses his thumbs for grasping things, and I expect any day to discover him with a pair of scissors, cutting out paper dolls!

His second somewhat unique trait is that he appears to love water. He wades in the canal, jumps into the birdbath, and I often find him splashing the water in the toilet with his paws. It will be interesting to see if he swims in the canal when it is deeper.

The sad part of this story is that we don’t know if Chewie was lost or abandoned. When he arrived at our back door during the Christmas season, he was so thin that we were afraid to pet him much. He appears to have been in some kind of accident, either a car, or possibly abused by someone, because he has some badly mended ribs, and his gait is a little stiff. He also has been declawed and neutered, so he did not really have the “right stuff” for surviving in the wild. In addition, he has a microchip, but his former owners did not register it, and no one answered my Lost and Found ad.

So Chewie is a beloved member of our family and has adapted well. He’s gained about four pounds, his nose and gums are no longer white, but a healthy pink, and Jesse is his new best friend. If Jesse is at home, Chewie is usually tagging along, and he sleeps next to him at night. I’m only the person who feeds him, and pets him if his best friend isn’t nearby!

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Safari In the Backyard

Yesterday, I went to the back door to see if it was warmer yet (it wasn't much), and a flock of large pink birds landed on the canal. We had seen them before, but only knew they weren't flamingos. As I grabbed the video camera, Jesse called, so, holding the camera in one hand and the phone in the other, I attempted to tape them, resulting in a Marlon Perkins-type whispered narration. Unlike Wild Kingdom and more like a Bigfoot video, it's grainy, jumpy and blurry, but I did manage to capture them on video!

Since then I have learned that they are juvenile roseate spoonbills, also called Flame Bird or Pink Curlew. Today, there was one alone on the canal, but he was frightened away by a white heron when I tried to photograph him. I'll get a still shot soon!