Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

"Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
- Star Spangled Banner

   Two nights ago, our little ones asked what Veteran's Day was. They knew it was a blissful day off from school for sure, but not what the occasion marked. The conversation continued through yesterday when both our 8YO and 4YO asked more about it while we were in the car. We explained, they nodded, and then our 4YOU blurted out, "I see a white van!" (sigh.....)

   My last Veteran's Day post was from 2012, which was short and sweet. This year I say a quiet thank you to my two grandfathers for their service in the Army Air Corp.
Everett Howard Swann (left) 1918-1975     -     Arthur Wayne Schofield (right) 1922-2013

   Recently, my aunt discovered some letters from my great uncle to his parents, sent home during WWII in 1942. This was a beloved brother, son, and husband, who joined the service in an answer to his country's call. It was a terrible time of war (and is reflected in some of his language). I consider the time and circumstance of a nation at war. My great uncle Fred was killed while in service,  and never made it home. That makes it hard to read the line, "I can't say where I have been but will tell you one of these days when I get back." I stumbled across the article to the right some time ago that features both brothers AND their father enlisted at the same time. As my grandfather put it, "It's just something we all felt that we needed to do." I admire the snapshot we get from great uncle Fred's letter. Love for his wife, respect for his father, and a love for his country. Below is the letter transcribed from the letter photocopied and sent to me. I never knew my great uncle, but this little piece of him survived and ties me to him, even if a little bit more. 

June 20, 1942

Dear Mother and Dad,

    Gosh it sure was swell to hear from you. I received your Christmas card and letter and was sure happy to receive them. It gets so darn lonesome over here without my adorable wife. I sure do miss her. But I guess a fellow would miss a person a awful lot if he loved his wife as much as I do.

    Well pop I guess I have seen some of the places you have seen. At the present time I am in Australia, + I am now in non-combat zone and so things are pretty quiet. I can't say where I have been but will tell you one of these days when I get back.

    You know those Japs are sure poor shots. They never did hit anything when they did their bombing. I think I could do better with my eyes closed than those slant-eyed so & so can with their eyes open. The good old U.S. Air Force are sure raising hell --- with the Japs though. The boys fly over their targets then come back and tell us how they sure made things hot for all Nipon [Nippon]. You know I don't see why those Japs don't quit because they sure bit off more than they can chew when they picked on the good old U.S.A.

   Gosh I never in my whole life realized what the United States meant to me until I left to come over here. It is the most wonderful place in the whole world. I heard the National Anthem played the other day and it reminded me of the States and sent chills up + down my spine I thought what a wonderful country I live in. I imagine you can understand how I feel pop being you were away from the States.

   You know Australia is somewhat like the States even though it is 20 years behind us. The climate is a lot the same though they haven't the snow like we have in the States.

   Well it is 11:30 so I guess it is time to go to bed so will close now till my next letter.

    Well good night,


   So celebrate Veteran's Day by having some time off if you're able, and remember those who serve and have served our country to defend our freedoms.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Days When I Feel Like An Island

"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent." - John Donne

   Every once in a while, we all feel like an island. Cut off from our family, friends, and peers, it can appear that it's us against the world. There are a million reasons to be left feeling like an island, so I won't bother with a list. My most recent has been another round of unemployment. As one of my last interviewers said, "It looks like you've just had a run of bad luck." Er....uh.....yup, that's it. While layoffs, empty nest syndrome, and the like are all fair reasons to be left feeling like that proverbial "island", I've come to rely on the fact that it just isn't true.

   I am blessed and lucky to have a wealth of people in my corner. Friends and family abound, and help to make hardships easier. At the very, VERY least, I have a wonderful wife, and kids who still think I'm a rock star (circa 2014, so we'll see what the future holds). I've seen Internet threads of people who feel they have next to no support in their life, and in response they get a barrage of total strangers answering their plea. Lesson learned? You're never alone, and you're never and island. It just feels like that.

   I most recently realized it has a lot to do with pride, and letting others in. If you don't allow others to help, then you will ultimately receive no help. Seems simple, but there's nothing more aggravating than someone moaning about no one caring after getting multiple offers to be of assistance. I've tried to strip away my pride, and allow people into my life who are there out of love and compassion. They would be unable to offer assistance, unless I provide a bridge. It's a simple concept, but can feel like a mountain to overcome.

I'm not an island. It just feels like it sometimes. You're never alone. Remember that.

And so,...I leave you with Disney/Pixar's "Someone To Lava" from an upcoming animated short in 2015.

All my best,


Friday, November 7, 2014

The Friday Flush #14

The Friday Flush #14
   The Friday Flush was intended to be a place where I dropped little nuggets of goodness from the net on my fellow man. There will be days where it is all very relevant, and other days where it is mindless dribble with links to support my brain doodling. Whether it is to inspire, show off, or anything in between, I love to share. Today is more inspiration. I stumbled across some good stuff and present to you cellos with a vengance, craftsman paint, and a sweet white noise maker for online or your smartphone.

I've always had a love for the cello. I played the violin as a boy for a year or two, and have always been moved by the stirring vibration of the low strings. I also have a love for metal. When I stumbled across the 2Cellos, I was blown away. The Wife and I love the old English period movies, so when I saw the still picture of this YouTube video, I was intrigued,....and then blown away. Once these guys were discovered by Sir Elton John, the rest has become history. I watched several videos from their channel on YouTube, and we were both entranced. I encourage you to do that same.

Milk Paint
If you love DYI projects of any kind, you've gotten your hands dirty with paint at some point or another. In the past two years, the wife and I have gravitated away from turn key furniture purchases, and have now come to enjoy re-purposing pieces into something we envision and then turn into a reality. One of the materials we've come to love is milk paint. This is a artisan paint that comes in powder form. It can certainly scare people off, as we've become accustomed to fast food ready-made paint from our local hardware store. The Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint that we use allows for more control over what you're putting on the piece, and flakes in a way that gives each piece its own unique aged look. An example of the result on a bench piece can be found on our craft website here. It's worth reading up on and trying out if you want to push the envelope of what you can do with paint. Miss Mustard Seed's Milk paint is a great place to start, and her site has a wealth of information to get you started.

A Soft Murmur
I was never a person who needed white noise to fall asleep. Until we had children, and now we use them for home and travel. It's a way to knock down all the little noises that occur during a nap at home, or when the teenagers are sprinting down the hall of a hotel. My little ones can sleep soundly with some decent white noise. We've used an app here and there, until the day I stumbled across A Soft Murmur. Just take a look at the options to fiddle with. The volume sliders allow you to custom tailor your sounds, and there are plenty of them to choose from. I had them all up at once thinking it'd be too much, until my eyes got heavy. so the jokes on me. As of this post, you can use it from any browser, and through Google Play store. It's free, so why not take it for a spin? I was thrilled to find it, so I'm sure you will too. 

Alas, another Friday Flush has come and gone. We've rocked out to some smooth cello rock, discovered some new painting materials, and found yet another way to become sleepy through sound aids. Enjoy your weekend, and until next time!


Thursday, November 6, 2014

Chef - Movie Review Of Inspiration

"I may not do everything great in my life, but I'm good at this. I manage to touch people's lives with what I do and I want to share this with you." - Carl Casper, Chef
The Wife and I sat down to relax with Chef, written/directed/starring Jon Favreau. It ended with us staying up WAY to late, planning our next several projects. The movie was that inspiring. While you can certainly get the professional synopsis via IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, here's my take. 

Jon Favreau is a great writer/director/actor. The ensemble chosen for the film gels together VERY nicely. What I mean is that I got lost in the characters instead of realizing, "Hey, Robert Downey Jr. is playing a great pretentious ex-husband!" Each actor brought their own "flavor" to Chef (pun STRONGLY intended), without taking over any scene. The music throughout the film had me grooving in my seat, and the food shots made me hungry even though it was close to bedtime. The father/son portion of the story was relevant to me as I navigate my relationship with my own children of 9 and 5 as of this post, and added another cute layer to the plot line.  

   With the little craft business The Wife and I are trying to get going (The Cheeky Nest), the film left us inspired to create. We both had so much going on in our minds that it was hard to sleep and I was up way earlier than usual the next morning. We actually ended up watching it two nights in a row. This is a great film and will go in our top 10 favs in The Cheeky House.


P.S. Here's the trailer for Chef.