The “Let Me Tell You How I Died” series is back! Continuing this week with Part II, which has seven segments about World War I. Segment two of Part II covers the horrors of charging out of the trenches against well-fortified positions, machine guns, and barbed wire. It was a tragic scenario that played out countless times across the Ypres Salient, and I saw the results with my own eyes – the thousands of white grave stones all across Belgium.



Over the Top!

Over the top and give ‘em hell!

That’s the command we know so well

The watch hands tick, it’s almost time

The shells start flying and churn up the grime

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Fire in the Wilderness

May, 1864.

Spring had arrived in the state of Virginia, but so had the Union army. It wasn’t the first time, either. Since 1861, the boys in blue had slugged it out, and lost, against the formidable General Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia. These fights carried a heavy price tag too. Thousands of soldiers lay buried under Virginia’s thick soil. Countless more bore wounds from physical scars, or the painful emotional blows from the hell they endured. That said nothing of the civilians caught in the crossfire, who lost their lives, their homes, and their precious family members who never returned from the fields. Few tables across the country escaped the tragic vacant chair.

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If any of you followed me around Halloween, you probably know that I have a bit of a sweet tooth. It’s really hard to refuse candy, especially when it comes to Candy Corn (click here to read all about it).

Well, I decided to make a two-parter out of that post, because it’s not just Candy Corn that I love. It’s holiday candies in general. Something about seeing it packed on the store shelves makes me giddy. Maybe it’s all those fun shapes and pretty colors, because I have somewhat of a short attention span at the supermarket. Who doesn’t, right?

Easter is an exceptionally festive time at the grocery store. After a hard winter (and I think we all had one this year), all those pastel pink, yellow, and green wrappers are a sight for sore eyes. So are all the chocolate bunnies, rainbow jelly beans, and brightly-speckled Robin’s Eggs.

You know what makes eyes even sorer though? Peeps. Those mangy Marshmallow creatures that swallow up every candy aisle at Easter. Even through my deep love of all things holiday, Peeps have managed a place on my hate list.

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The first time I saw “the Sound of Music,” I fell in love. Not just with that happy-go-lucky story (quite a boast for a movie with Nazis), but also with Salzburg. The mountains that drew Maria to their wild peaks also had a powerful hold on me. So much that the opening sequence, where the camera just sweeps over Austria’s beauty, has always been my favorite part.

Although, to be honest, I didn’t believe it really looked like that. I’ve been around film and its “movie magic” for too long. The mountains couldn’t possibly be that green. The waters wouldn’t be that clear. In this day and age, no village is that picturesque. I was a cold, hard skeptic. So, I made myself a promise. Someday, I would go and see it with my own eyes – no “fixing it in post,” and no movie magic. Read More

Last year, I tapped into my long-dormant poetry well, and I posted a series of seven poems about World War II.  They were all from the vantage points of the many people, from many places, killed during the conflict.  This year, the “Let Me Tell You How I Died” series is back with seven segments from World War I.  It was a conflict so encompassing in its devastation that it came to be known as “the Great War.”  Before it was through, it had laid waste to most of Europe as well as an entire generation of fighting soldiers.  Here for you is the first segment of Part II of this poem epic.  I hope you enjoy it, as well as the following six that will be posted over the next few months. Read More

Messines Ridge – And the Big Kaboom

It was June 7, 1917, a little after three in the morning. Over a small swath of Belgium known as Messines Ridge, the first rays of dawn glittered on the horizon. Mud-splattered German soldiers slumbered in their trenches, while their British counterparts huddled across the way. A few flares fizzled over the soggy fields riddled with shell holes and puddles. Sporadic artillery guns woke up and belched the first cannons of “morning hate.” A day that started out like any other…

…Until the clock struck 3:10am exactly. Then, the Battle of Messines Ridge opened with a bang. A really, really big bang. One that took almost two years to put into place, that involved nineteen separate mines, thousands of personnel, and about 990,000 pounds of explosives. A bang that killed 10,000 unsuspecting German soldiers in one fell swoop, injured countless others, caused eternal hearing problems, and left a permanent scar in the plains of Belgium that remains visible today.

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The sun burned hot in the isolated countryside of Belgium. So hot…. and the horizon lay vast and unbroken. On either side of the car, we only saw open farm lands, and tidy hay blocks stacked in pyramids or speckled in uniform over the fields. Tall, green grass rippled in the wind. The sky topped it all with its fantastic sapphire dome. While my husband drove, I fiddled with the GPS, which babbled some robotic nonsense back at me. It couldn’t help me, because it didn’t really know what I wanted. 

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What’s In a Name? Ask King Tut.

Once upon a time there lived a young girl who was obsessed with Ancient Egypt. She read any book about it she could get her hands on. She dressed as an Egyptian Queen for Halloween. Hieroglyphics mesmerized her, and she even learned how to write her name in them. The lives of pharaohs, and especially their mummy tombs filled with treasures, captured her imagination. She especially marveled at pictures of King Tut and his many treasures. While flipping through these photos, she dreamed of seeing them with her own eyes someday. 

Twenty years later (or so…), this young girl had developed a deep passion for history. Egypt didn’t hold center stage anymore, but the enchantment of this ancient culture never left her. And, she has now seen with her own eyes some of the magnificent treasures from those books. She didn’t have to go far either, thanks to the King Tut exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles. 

Curators displayed the exhibit there for a few months in 2018, and it didn’t disappoint. Three or four rooms were packed with treasures found in the boy-king’s tomb. Items that looked brand new, despite being thousands of years old. The gold still sparkled on the many statues and figurines. Clay scarabs had red and blue colors that looked like they were just applied yesterday. We saw golden chests, hand-carved chairs, and stunning pieces of jewelry. 

Beholding all that in person was a dream come true. And as it turns out, I played a part in something way bigger than that. In reading those books as a little girl, and seeing that exhibit as an adult, I helped saved an almost-forgotten pharaoh’s life. Because in Ancient Egyptian culture, something as simple as saying a name holds a lot of power.

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Hello everyone!  As promised, here is the final segment of Part I of my Poem epic – the conclusion to the WWII part of the series (which is brought to you with some mild confusion on the new block editor … so apologies if it doesn’t look the same!) I hope you have enjoyed this first part!  Next year, the epic will return with Part II which covers the First World War.  I will look forward to seeing you then.    

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I won’t lie to you guys. I’m one of those people who goes a little crazy on Christmas. The pumpkins from Halloween are barely soft before Christmas decorations go up. We wrap the stair banister in holly and garland, lights adorn our kitchen window, and unwitting cats find themselves in various Christmas outfits. I enjoy all of the decorating, but the Christmas Tree holds an extra-special place in my heart.

I just love sitting in the glow of a Christmas Tree, and one of my favorite holiday ventures is picking out new ornaments. I feel giddy when stores cram their shelves with colorful balls, fun shapes, and sparkling tree trim. We already have plenty in our own ornament stash (because I have little control at Christmas), but we add to it every year in one of our own traditions. Each Christmas, my husband and I get each other an ornament that marks something special about that year. In addition to that, I splurge on at least one new box of regular ornaments. Last year, I found myself some Shiny Brites (click here to read all about it). This year took me in a slightly different direction.

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