Category Archives: Personal Essay

Miracles Do Happen

by Kimberly A. Cook                       (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

When last we chatted Oregon was preparing for the fabulous eclipse. It was a great party. Since then, correct me if I’m wrong, but it feels like we’ve been playing a national game of disaster whack-a-mole. Hurricane Harvey, wildfires in Oregon and the West, then Hurricane Irma. Yowsa.

Whoever ticked off Mother Nature, apologize now.

But miracles do happen through the efforts of “ordinary” Americans:

The fire fighters who stood their ground and saved the historic lodge at Multnomah Falls by surrounding it in a wall of water all night while the flames burned all around and over them and embers flew across the Columbia River. No easy feat that save, with the fire coming within thirty yards of the wood shingled lodge.

The shelter dogs and cats evacuated ahead of Hurricane Harvey from Houston to Oregon and Washington, many have already been adopted.

The 1,700 food boxes packed and shipped by the Oregon Food Bank to Houston to help feed those in need. Know they will be packing more for Florida.

The curator and a staff of nine at the Hemingway House in Key West, Florida who rode out the storm with the fifty-four Hemingway cats and all were spared. Angels were above them all.

The news reporter who helped get one exhausted baby dolphin back out into the sea and helped with other volunteers to carry another stranded dolphin back out into the ocean.

The bystanders who quickly realized two manatees were stranded in the mud after the storm suck took all the water from the bay. With the help of Manatee Sheriff Deputies, they dragged the two manatees back out into the ocean a hundred yards.

There will be many stories of kind acts and we will grieve for those who have died. We will also rejoice in the team who went out in the storm to help deliver a baby. Baby’s don’t wait for weather.

Through all the damage and destruction, we’ve seen the best of our country while Mother Nature hit us with her worst. Maybe she wanted to let us know she was in charge after all, by blocking out the sun then hitting us with her best shots.

Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Oregon, California, Washington, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and the East Coast, we’ve got your back. Huge hugs and thanks to all the law enforcement, fire fighters, U.S. Coast Guard, Navy, Army, Air Force, Marines, National Guard, FEMA, federal, state, county, city, power company and gasoline employees working their butts off now and for weeks to come.

A special thank you to the men and women at the National Weather Service in Key West, Florida and the military personnel at the Key West Naval Station who stayed behind and did their jobs. You guys are rock stars!

Also gratitude to the American Red Cross volunteers and staff, the non-profit agencies, and all the animal rescue groups. The retailers who opened their stores and the restaurants who are feeding people now are all a big part of our USA team.

Our hearts swell from the volunteer efforts of the Cajun Navy to the monster truck drivers and the thousands of folks who helped their neighbors and the news crews who jumped in to help when needed.

This is going to be a long rebuild, but we’ll get through this together. What better way to honor the loss of the men, women and children on 9/11 that we honored yesterday, than to become a better nation after their and their family’s sacrifice.

With folks like the ones in the video below, USA, we’ve got this.

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Is It Still August?

by Kimberly A. Cook          (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

Have you ever diapered a heat pump? My aging heat pump/air conditioning unit decided to die on Friday. At about 101 degrees outside. I knew this because the house got warm and there was water/fluid leaking from the furnace. The unit had been limping the last two hot weekends, but in the full August heat wave it decided to officially croak.

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Spec Ops Cat was not amused about the demise of the cranky AC unit. It truly was the dog days of August for him. He coped by not moving. Period.

 

This was not my first rodeo with this piece of equipment. Over the years my “unit” has done such fun things as ice up and sound like a Huey helicopter landing in my bedroom and pee through my kitchen ceiling into the silverware holder in the sink.

I’ve hooked up a gravity drain using aquarium tubing and a bucket to catch water from the heat pump that would have impressed NASA.

One winter weekend the drain pipe froze so I had to switch to emergency heat for two days, which caused my electric bill to surpass the national debt.

Since the unit had been limping along, luckily I’d made an appointment with heat pump fix-it guy for Friday morning. He showed up and gave me one last possibility to cure the aging unit’s peeing problems. Most folks had a 75 percent success rate with the fix.

“You’ll know right away,” he assured me. Yup. Saturday morning the diaper (towel) was wet. My unit was a 25 percenter. Heat pump guy told me to “shut it down” if that happened, because I didn’t need to be breathing chemical laden air. Sigh.

This all happened because the “unit” overhead me talking about replacing it. I’m positive. Its lasted longer than most of the ones in my complex, but its been a challenging relationship.

After the first two leaking through the kitchen ceiling episodes, the HVAC wizards were sure they’d fixed it. I had the ceiling repaired and repainted.

The “unit” then decided to freeze the drain line again and once again water poured from my kitchen ceiling. So I left the three foot long opening the width of drywall seam tape, complete with the fancy sagging of the textured ceiling plaster.

Entertained the idea of using white duct tape to cover the gap, but most visitors don’t notice it since no one looks up. It’s my own personal art installation.

So now I have appointments with the ductless guys and the electric furnace guys. We shall see who wins my favor. I long for the days of working air conditioning, cozy heat and a fixed kitchen ceiling and no heat pump diapers.

A girl can dream can’t she?

P.S. In the grand scheme of things it’s no big deal. My heart goes out to the people in Louisiana who would love to have just a leak in their ceiling. Let’s hope for a much better September for all those deserving folks.

 

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Can We Open Our Minds With Empathy To Change Hearts And Fears?

by Kimberly A. Cook                 (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

In my closet hangs a beautiful multi-colored scarf I bought in a beach-side shop in Nice, France in 1983. It shimmers in the light and is one of my favorite souvenirs from that three-month camping trip in Europe.

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The Peace rose. A goal for all of us.

 

Dallas, Texas always reminds me of sprinting through its huge airport to try to get from gate to gate to catch a connecting flight for desert training with the Air Force Reserve.

Never having stepped foot in Louisiana, I got a taste of it when Pops Borskey, a Louisiana native and World War II Seabee, hauled my butt from Cimarron, New Mexico to Washington, D.C. in May 1998 in his red chase truck while we were on the Run For The Wall to honor POWs and MIAs.

Images, memories and places all tied together now in a matter of days because of tragedy. What struck me so hard about two of these nightmares was realizing military veterans killed their fellow military veterans and police officers.

First my condolences to the families, friends and co-workers of the fallen. Law enforcement members are a tight family and they all bleed for each other, literally.

Freedom comes at a cost, both at home and around the world. But acts of evil are no reason to change our lives because if we do, evil wins.

We strive on. We honor the fallen and support their families, friends and communities. We must work to make sure we remain committed to each other, not divided.

As a young nation during the Civil War, brother fought against brother for the right of African Americans to be free people.

In that bloodiest of wars there were 2,213,363 Union soldiers and 1,050,000 Confederate soldiers. A total of 140,414 Union and 74, 524 Confederate battle deaths, plus 224,097 other Union and 59,297 Confederate deaths in theater.

A total of 498,332 lives lost from 1861 to 1865. The United States population in 1861 was 31,443,321. Our ancestors killed almost sixteen percent of the entire population of this country; fighting ourselves for the rights of one race to be free.

We cannot go back to fear and hate, we must move forward. Losing one life is too many. We must open our hearts and minds and truly listen to each other. We have to work together to speak frankly and exercise our empathy toward all.

In my wallet I carry a laminated letter to Ann Landers from April 18, 1990.

Dear Ann Landers: Recently you printed that wonderful quote from Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

I can’t resist the temptation to add these words from a speech by William Faulkner when his daughter, Jill, graduated from high school: “Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world, in thousands of rooms like this one, would do this, it would change the earth.”

-A.H.P., Memphis

Let’s honor the lives of the Americans we’ve lost by forging stronger communities. Let’s look inward to our own prejudices and listen outside of ourselves to learn how we can stop those whose pain, anger and mental health issues are so great they speak with violence instead of words.

Let’s change the earth, our nation and ourselves; one mind at a time. We owe it to those we’ve lost too soon.

 

 

 

 

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Prayers and Support for Dallas and the Nation

by Kimberly A. Cook                  (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

My heart breaks for the families of the fallen, their fellow police officers, responding medical staff and the people of Dallas, Texas. Know that all of us in the USA are Texans today. I send my condolences, hugs, prayers and support.

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We must honor all the fallen, support the families, pursue justice, grieve and remember them. Then we must come together as a nation and fix the violence. Our national soul depends on it.

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Compassion and Prayers for Roseburg

by Kimberly A. Cook             (Twitter@  WarriorTales)

My thoughts and prayers are with the families, friends, UCC staff, law enforcement personnel and medical first responders dealing with the tragedy in Roseburg, Oregon. When evil comes I am grateful for the courage and compassion of the brave people who stand in harm’s way to help others, many times at their own peril.

Let us comfort the grieving, help heal the wounded and support each other in community. Perhaps we can take some solace in knowing we are a state and nation full of much more grace and good than evil.

I gauge the character of our country by how we respond during these horrendous acts. When the world seems to have gone mad, know there are still more good people helping those who need care and who can’t help themselves.

Hug those you love. Have a safe weekend. Say prayers for Roseburg.

By Savannah Numinen  @snuminen7911

By Savannah Numinen @snuminen7911

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Moving Into A New Year Of Possibilities?

by Kimberly A. Cook               (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

Here we are getting ready to move into 2015. A New Year brings high hopes and fond memories. Since five is supposed to be a lucky number, I’m thinking good things for all of us ahead. That is my wish for all.

Weather is odd once again, woke up to 25 degrees outside and high winds. But we have brilliant sunshine so I can bundle up no problem. Most of the U.S. is in the Arctic Cold outbreak once again so here are some fun things to do this week.

Spec Ops Cat demonstrating his Olympic level napping skills this week. He's a black belt Nap Master. Watch and learn.

Spec Ops Cat demonstrating his Olympic level napping skills this week. He’s a black belt Nap Master. Watch and learn.

1. Figure out what is bugging you the most and clean it out. Did this recently with the container next to my stove that holds my utensils. Couldn’t even get one more in the container, so sorted it out. Stuffed the overage into the kitchen utensil drawer, so now I need to clean that out. But I accomplished one thing!

2. Take a nap. Spec Ops Cat demonstrates his professional level at this activity in the photo. Remember to relax like a cat. Just wish I was as limber as he is.

3. Play a game from your childhood. Taking the Yahtzee game over for New Year’s Eve celebration treats tomorrow to play with family. Nothing like rolling dice and not losing money to make me a happy woman.

4. Read. A magazine, book, cookbook,  ebook or cereal box. It feels like a guilty pleasure to do this during the day in the sunlight, so count me in!

5. Socialize. Whether your watching the bowl games with friends and family, Go Ducks!, or visiting family and friends during the holidays, make time to bond. Actually listen and talk with people. Unplug! It’s a wonderful thing.

6. Be grateful. It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the stuff and things and expectations, but the true joys in life are the little things; always have been, always will be. My favorites this past week were my sister’s pumpkin bread, a calm and happy Christmas, healthy family and friends, donating books to the library, spending Christmas Eve with my Mom, sleeping in and Spec Ops Cat cuddles. Priceless!

Hoping your holidays are going well and let’s all make fun plans for 2015. Happy New Year!

Spring and Summer are just around the corner!

Spring and Summer are just around the corner!

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When Schools Become War Zones And Killing Fields

by Kimberly A. Cook          (Twitter@ WarriorTales)

(Soapbox Alert)

I posted my blog Friday morning about the mall shooting in my neighborhood and walked downstairs. The report about the Connecticut mass murder and suicide blared from the radio. Words cannot begin to express the tragedy of this event.

In coaching my fellow military veterans to write about their ordeals during war and peace, recalling those images and memories can produce laser sharp pain. Getting the events out in the light and open air does help heal the wounds. Writing down what happened puts the author back in charge and takes away the feeling of being a victim; the writer gets a measure of distance and takes back their personal power. This process will take a long time for the victim’s families and the small survivors in Connecticut.

There are many debates now about how this could happen and what we must do as a nation to stop it from occurring again. As an Army soldier I fired an M-16 on automatic and semi-automatic. No one outside out of the military and law enforcement needs that much fire power. Bambi is not carting an M-60 machine gun around in the woods.

Our national gun culture and lack of mental health resources has been outstripped by the increase and sophistication of rapid fire weapons. Before anyone starts talking about the “right to bear arms” in the Second Amendment, let’s put that in perspective. When our founding fathers wrote that clause they were using muskets. It takes time to reload a musket. Those learned men could not have imagined or predicted the carnage of modern-day firepower.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it is going to take a nation to keep children and their families safe from getting killed in future classrooms, shopping malls or at the movie theater.

When it’s easier to get an assault weapon than a Twinkie in this country, our moral direction is floundering.

We need to look hard at ourselves and what we want our families to face in the future. We have found the enemy and it is all of us who don’t take action and allow another horrific shooting to slide on by. Not anymore. Contact your Congressional representatives and Senators and let them know assault weapons are bad for children and other living things. We’ve had enough and lost too many futures.

We can be the change that makes sure future young and bright lives are kept safe, whether in school, a movie theater or at the mall.

(The best blog post I have read on this topic is from CNN Senior Political Analyst David Gergen. Read it here http://www.cnn.com/2012/12/17/opinion/gergen-gun-culture/index.html?iref=allsearch)

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