Have A Safe And Thoughtful Memorial Day Weekend

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@    WarriorTales)

This Friday I wanted to let you know about an amazing place called Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. While most folks know the iconic images of this hallowed ground, to me it’s the honor and reverence by The Old Guard (3d US Infantry Regiment) and the cemetery staff that most folks don’t see that is truly respectful.

The first video shows The Old Guard performing the “Flags In” they do every year for Memorial Day, putting flags on every grave site on the more than 600-acre cemetery to remember and honor those at Arlington. The second is an hour-long National Geographic television special about Arlington National Cemetery and The Old Guard.

Have a wonderful long weekend for those of us not working this weekend. A thank you to those military and law enforcement personnel on duty across the globe so we can honor the sacrifice of our fallen this weekend. Be happy, be safe and hug somebody and your pets this weekend. Freedom isn’t free.

Here is the link to the National Geographic Special “Arlington: Field of Honor.”




Filed under Veteran Stories

Take A Moment To Remember On Memorial Day

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Next Monday is Memorial Day and many of us will be off work. In this age of Memorial Day sales and the rush out-of-town for a long weekend, take a few moments to reflect on what Memorial Day is really all about.

The Vietnam Wall at night on November 5, 2005, in Washington, D.C. The blue folder contains the War Stories I left there from my veteran writing students.

The Vietnam Wall at night on November 5, 2005, in Washington, D.C. The blue folder contains the War Stories I left there from my veteran writing students.

This national holiday was put into law to remember and honor the sacrifices of the men and women who died while in military service. It is also a time we can remember those who have served and passed on after war and peace. It’s also a time to honor and never forget those who never came home and are still Missing In Action or Prisoners of War, their fate never to be known.

Thumbing through the back newspapers from my vacation on Sunday, I came across an article that one of my former veteran writing students, Phillip Leveque, had passed at the age of 92. Phillip was a character in every sense of the word and never failed to entertain us all with his stories and brought tears to our eyes when telling the truth about his service during World War II.

He served with the 89th Infantry Battalion as a Battalion Scout and earned the Combat Infantry Badge. As he told it, “he walked from Luxembourg to near Dresden mostly under fire.”

In Oregon he is better known as the “Pot Doc,” a name he preferred to be remembered by as he introduced medical marijuana to Oregon and later lost his license issuing cards for users. In a news story in February of this year while he was on hospice he stated he was “very proud” that medical marijuana would be legal in Oregon this July, especially for veterans with level five and above PTSD.

It was an honor to coach Phillip for three years in my class and read his stories. Later he published his own book of war stories and I wish I had a copy. Life goes by quickly enough, so on this Memorial Day take a few moments to remember the men, women and military animals who gave their all to keep this country free.

Then go have a great picnic and celebrate the day in honor of those who are no longer with us. I know they are with us in spirit and would want us to play and have fun with family and friends, because those are the most important things in life after all. So raise a hot dog, beer or s’more in toast to them all on Memorial Day.

Those we’ve lost are watching from the true high ground and will be cheering us on. Land of the free, because of the brave.

Special Note: For all those now riding across the country on Run For The Wall to participate in Rolling Thunder in Washington, D.C. the day before Memorial Day, God Speed and ride safe.


Filed under Veteran Stories

Armed Forces Day and Elvis

by Kimberly A. Cook                   (Twitter@   WarriorTales)

Since I returned from vacation and posted about Elvis, seems like all things Elvis are popping up. Saw the “Hawaii Five-O” tv show On Demand with the Elvis impersonators. Today’s paper had an article about a local couple who won their dream wedding at the Elvis Chapel in Las Vegas with Priscilla Presley as their Matron of Honor. And Graceland has an exhibit of Elvis memorabilia on display in Las Vegas.

Since tomorrow is Armed Forces Day, thought folks might like to hear from Elvis about what it was like to be in the Army. Even Elvis had to pull kitchen police, or KP as we call it. Happy Quirky Friday and have a great weekend!

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Have You Seen Elvis In Maui?

by Kimberly A. Cook              (Twitter@    WarriorTales)

Back from a Girls Road Trip to Maui with my Mom and Sister. We had a great time, beautiful weather and we got to see Elvis! Now before you think the humidity turned my brain to mush, we saw Darren Lee as Elvis in the Burn’ N Love Show in Lahaina.

Elvis or Darren Lee in Maui?

Elvis or Darren Lee in Maui?

I’m a HUGE Elvis fan, always have been. I try to have no regrets in life, but the one I do have is giving up my tickets to see Elvis in Portland on April 27, 1973 because I would have been booted out of our High School musical. His concert was the same date as dress rehearsal for “Hello Dolly.” The choir director, alias Attila the Hun, insisted that if I missed the rehearsal I was out of the show. (I was only a chorus crowd and marching band member, but in high school teachers word was law. Quit choir the next year anyway for journalism and the yearbook staff.)

Two high school friends went with my Mom and Dad and four years later Elvis was gone. Several years ago I went to the Elvis concert with his actual band playing to the films of Elvis performing and that was pretty great. But Darren Lee knows Elvis.

Lee has been performing Elvis since the young age of 15. After winning the 1997 World Elvis Competition in Memphis, Tennessee, he went on to perform as Elvis in Las Vegas for eleven years. A couple of years ago he and his wife visited Maui for the first time and fell in love with the island. He thought it would be great to bring an Elvis show to Maui. Luck, timing, support and perhaps a little help from Elvis himself and the show started in 2013 in Lahaina. A portion of all ticket sales benefit the Maui Food Bank – 100,000 meals so far!

Lee concentrates on Elvis from 1957 through his comeback tv special in 1968 – yes, the black leather – OMG – through 1973. He pays special attention to Elvis’s Hawaii concerts and films too. It’s 90-minutes of amazing fun, showmanship, dancers and true entertainment. We were  singing along and dancing and clapping to the beat.

If you get to Maui you’ve got to see Darren Lee as Elvis. I don’t know how he does half of the moves with the microphone, his hips, knees and ankles, but he must have a chiropractor and masseuse on call 24/7.  The show is rated the number one attraction in Maui and with very good reason.

The quotes which run before the show are wonderful from all the entertainers inspired by Elvis. I can’t make up for missing my one Elvis concert, but Darren Lee made me feel I’d seen a glimpse of the King.


Filed under Music

Time For Penguins?

by Kimberly A. Cook                (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Sometimes you have to take a walk on the wild side, with penguins. How cute is this baby Humboldt chick getting weighed and measured at the Oregon Zoo? Cutie!

Have a great weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

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To Saw Or Not To Saw?

by Kimberly A. Cook                (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Ever started a simple home improvement project that turns into a monster? I had this great idea about using the leftover boards from my replaced fence for firewood. Sounded like an easy thing, right?

The pile of fence wood stacked in my garage. I think it's growing. Like wire coat hangers in the dark.....

The pile of fence wood stacked in my garage. I think it’s growing. Like wire coat hangers in the dark…..

Now with 60-feet of fence replaced, first I had to break down each panel and then stack the wood on the patio to dry out. Had nice sunny weather for the weekend and decided to use Dad’s skill saw and cut those boards up no problem. Tried the first skill saw and I couldn’t get it to work. Not sure if it was a button thing or a power issue.

Not deterred, I’d brought another skill saw from Dad’s shop and that one started right up. Sucker was heavy. And noisy. Started in on the boards and the going was a bit rough. Seems 15-year-old cedar boards are a tad tough and I must be a tad weak. It appears you actually have to push the darn skill saw to make it work. Who knew?

I even called my brother-in-law to make sure I was using it correctly. It looked SO EASY when I watched Dad use it. Mom’s comment to me about the whole thing was, “He was strong!”  No kidding. I need three men and a boy to help me with this pile of wood.

Decisions. After about an hour of pushing, shoving and some interesting language, I had one bin filled with wood cut for my fireplace. Egad. With an aching back and kinda frozen fingers, I decided the better part of valor was to put the wood in the garage and work on it over time. Like probably the entire next year.

One bin of firewood cut to size, 5,864 to go. Give or take a few.
One bin of firewood cut to size, About 5,864 to go. Give or take a few.

I will get it done! Maybe by Fall. Maybe not. There must be videos on YouTube on how to use these power tools. Of course at the day job this week one of my co-workers had to rush to the emergency room because her hubby cut off the tip of his finger with a skill saw. I didn’t do that!

Maybe I should hire woodworking elves. Or a herd of woodchucks…..

Got monster home projects? Or skill saw tips?


Filed under Garden

Time To Take A Swim In The Sink?

by Kimberly A. Cook            (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

I’ve got ducks on the brain this week. The resident Momma duck at the day job paraded her kidlets in front of me on the way to work Wednesday. Too cute!

Who can resist baby ducks? These cute guys seem to have found a very small duck size pool at their abode, commonly called a sink. Have a great time watching their technique.

Have a great weekend and Happy Quirky Friday!

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