They Serve For Us

“For You”
All I saw was smoke and fire
I didn’t feel a thing
But suddenly I was rising higher
And I felt like I just made
The biggest mistake
When I thought about my unborn child
When I thought about my wife
And the answer rang out clear
From somewhere up above
No greater gift has man
Than to lay down his life for love.

And I wonder, would I give my life
Could I make that sacrifice
If it came down to it
Could I take the bullet, I would
Yes I would, for you.

Maybe you don’t understand
I don’t understand it all myself
But there’s a brother on my left and another on my right
And in his pocket just like mine
He’s got a photograph
And they’re waiting for him back home
It’s weighing on my mind
I’m not trying to be a hero
I don’t wanna die
But right now in this moment, you don’t think twice.

I wonder, would I give my life
Could I make that sacrifice
If it came down to it
Could I take the bullet, I would
Yes I would.

You don’t think about right
You don’t think about wrong
You just do what you gotta do, to defend your own
I’d do the same
For you
Yes I would.

I would give my life
I would make that sacrifice
Cause if it came down to it
Could I take a bullet
I would
Yes I would.

I’d do it for you
I’d do it for you
I take a bullet
Yes I would – Keith Urban, Monty Powell

It makes me so proud that we have a national holiday in which we honor those brave men and women who serve (or have served) our country. Here are photos of two of my favorite veterans…..

Thanks to all of those who served and are still serving this wonderful country.

Saturday Smile: Are You Following Me?

The past week, I’ve noticed a white SUV following me as I drove to LA Fitness in the mornings. I go three times a week — Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I noticed the car on Wednesday, and then noticed it again yesterday. I wasn’t particularly nervous. Instead, I was just so interested in the coincidence of that same car being behind me on my way to the gym. Maybe we could car pool, I thought.

As I was driving home yesterday from LA Fitness, I noticed the white SUV again. But then I noticed that it wasn’t a Honda CRV as I had noticed earlier. It was a Nissan. And suddenly the truth occurred to me. It hasn’t been the same SUV following me all this time.

You see, because of the hot temperatures, probably 90 to 95 percent of the cars in AZ are white because they reflect heat. And probably 85 to 90 percent of the cars in AZ are SUVs because, well, it seems like 85 percent of the cars everywhere are SUVs or vans.

I laughed out loud as I had this epiphany. Dang, I thought. I’m not being followed by a secret agent after all.

Have a great weekend.

Friday Book Whimsy: One Thousand White Women

According to a footnote from Jim Fergus, the author of One Thousand White Women, during the presidential term of Ulysses S. Grant, consideration of a program by which white women would volunteer to wed members of Indian tribes as a way of assimilating the Indian people into white culture was actually considered. Considered and, not surprisingly, dismissed.  One Thousand White Women is the story of what might have happened had the program actually taken place.

May Dodd, the feisty daughter of well-to-do parents in the mid-1800s, left home to live with (but not marry) a man of lesser means. The unmarried couple have two children before May is sent by her parents to an institution for the mentally insane. Her diagnosis? Promiscuity.

She is all but kept as a prisoner, understandably unhappy to be confined and without her children, and there is little-to-no chance of ever seeing the light of day again. So when she learns about a new program being offered by the U.S. government that allows women to volunteer to marry Cheyenne Indian men and have their children, she is eager to join. It is her only hope of getting out of the institution.

What follows is a story about the female friendships, about attitudes of whites for Indians and Indians for whites, about the settlement of the Old West, and an eye-opening look at the treatment of the Indians at the hands of the U.S. government.

I thought the author’s use of May’s journal to tell her story was interesting, and found the writing to be compelling. It was a clever way to provide a peek at the life of Native Americans as they were being pushed out of their own lands. May Dodd’s loyalty and commitment to doing good made her a likable character. While her independence struck me as quite unrealistic in 1875, I hope that even in those days, a few women were able to stand up for themselves and fight for the rest of them.

I’m not sure the idea would ever have worked in real life, which is why it was never carried out. It made for a good story, however.

Here is a link to the book. 

Thursday Thoughts

Getting Punchy
Anyone who knows anything about my husband knows that when Bill gets interested in something, he’s all in. The Rock Steady Boxing class that he has been taking has really captured his interest. In particular, he wants to improve his skills on the speed bags. Towards this end, he always wants to get there early so that he has time to practice before class. So it came as no surprise when he announced that he wanted to install a speed bag in our garage. This past week, he did just that…..

It took him a bit of time to get it set up. Yesterday afternoon, I was quietly sitting in my chair crocheting when I heard a thumping noise. I ran to the garage and found him working on the speed bag.

The Red Car
Like any good son, Dave agreed to help out his dad by driving Bill’s red sports car out to AZ. He left Denver on Friday, midafternoon. On Saturday, around 3:30, we heard the familiar roar of the engine, and knew that he had pulled up safely. I had promised Dave I would pray him here, and God answered my prayers. Now if God will just be with Bill every time he gets behind the wheel…..

Lunch Flexibility
Maggie texted me earlier this week and asked if I wanted to go to our neighborhood pho place for lunch. Darn right! She picked me up, and we happily drove to the restaurant. Unfortunately, it was gone, and the location was completely vacant. Dang, I had my taste buds all ready for pho. So we decided to try another restaurant that had recently opened up in our area: Sonson’s Pasty Company. My ground beef and potato pasty was good, but we both agreed it wasn’t pho. Sigh. I need my pho fix.

Better than Jiffy
My mother hated peanut butter. Because of this, none of her children ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as a child, at least not one made by her. Even peanut butter cookies made her crabby. Now, I believe all of her kids like peanut butter. I, for one, could eat it by the spoonful. So I was delighted when my nephew Erik introduced me to Skrewball, a peanut butter flavored whiskey. Don’t wrinkle your nose. It’s scrumptious…..



A Rose By Any Other Name

Something I was reading recently posed the question: Have you ever changed your name? For me, the answer is yes, I’ve changed my name three times in my life. The first time I changed my name was when I got married to my first husband. That was 1977, and while I say “I changed my name,” the fact of the matter is that the government changed my name when I said “I do.” Back in those days, had I wanted to keep my maiden name, I would have had to have it legally changed back to my birth name.

When I got married the second time, I had more options. I chose to keep my name instead of taking Bill’s last name. The reasons were twofold: 1) I was known professionally as Kristine Zierk, and it seemed problematic to all of the sudden have a different name; and 2) my son’s last name was Zierk, and for his benefit, I thought it would be nice to share the same last name.

Bill was quite understanding about my choice, but I knew it sort of bugged him. It wouldn’t have bugged him if my last name was my maiden name; however, given that my last name was that of my first husband, it troubled him a bit. So after a few years of marriage, I chose to adopt Zierk as my middle name (no hyphen). To tell you the truth, I never did anything legally to make this change. I just started calling myself by that name. I reckon by now, some 25 years later, it’s as legal as it’s going to get.

I’ve always thought that my dad and mom did a good job of naming their kids. I checked the internet to see what the most popular girls’ name was in 1948, the year my sister Bec was born. Suffice it to say that Rebecca didn’t make the top 30. But isn’t it the prettiest name? Linda was the number 1 girls’ name that year.

Kristine didn’t make the list of most popular names in 1953. In fact, according to the site I used, the highest level of popularity Kristine ever reached was 104th in 1966. Sigh. But the good news is that in 1953, the name Rebecca had snuck in at 24th place. I think my sister was responsible for its sudden popularity.

But I’m not alone, because the name Jennifer was no where to be found in the popularity list of 1957. Nowhere. Zippo. The name Mary claimed the top spot, as it had for the past five years. Rebecca was gone after its quick appearance in 1953. But some good news for me: the name Kris (not Kristine) was number 462. Four hundred and sixty two? Seriously?

Every time my mother was pregnant, the plan was to call the baby Ricky if it was a boy. All three girls would have been Ricky had they had the Y chromosome. I’m pretty sure that idea can be attributed to I Love Lucy. But suddenly, when my parents finally get their boy, he is named David. David is not a family name (though my brother’s middle name of Albert is from my paternal grandfather), nor did Lucy and Ricky Ricardo have a second child named David. Perhaps my mother had a crush on David Niven. Who knows?

At any rate, I’ve always been pleased that our names, while not weirdly odd (like Apple or Zuma), they are somewhat unique. Full disclosure: when I entered the 7th grade, I decided that I wanted to start being called Krissie. In fact, our junior high principle always called me by that name. I’m happy to say the name didn’t stick.

How Many Inventors Does It Take To Screw In a Light Bulb?

This has been a week of disappointments. In a single week, I learned that Thomas Edison didn’t actually invent the light bulb and that White Man screwed the indigenous people in ways I never dreamed in the early days of this country. My shock at both of these truths clearly indicates that I wasn’t paying attention in grade school. I blame it on the fact that I needed glasses which, I might add, my parents provided but I was too vain to wear.

Still, I’m pretty darn sure that Miss Gaspers taught me that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb in second grade. I think I might have been wearing a pilgrim’s hat and drawing turkeys by tracing my hand at the same time.

Bill and I went to see The Current War yesterday afternoon. If you haven’t heard of the film (and frankly, I’m pretty sure only a handful of people have), it tells the story about the battle between George Westinghouse and Thomas Edison, and their second-runner-up, Nikola Tesla. (And it’s no wonder Tesla was largely ignored. Look at that man. Have you ever seen a shadier-looking fellow?)…..

Yesterday was actually not the first day that I learned that Edison didn’t necessarily invent the light bulb. Back in 2016, I read (and reviewed) The Last Days of Night , a novel by Graham Moore, which remains one of the best books I’ve ever read. I was hopeful that the movie would be as good as the book. It definitely wasn’t, but Benedict Cumberbatch played Edison, and I would watch anything in which he stars as I think he is a great actor with the bonus of being drool-worthy.

Edison was a genius, but what he really excelled in was buying patents. He purchased the patent for the light bulb, and then went on to make it work. The rest is history.

Towards the end of the movie, he and Westinghouse (who, at least in the movie, were sworn enemies) were in the same room at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. They had both bid to provide the electricity for the worldwide event, and Westinghouse won. Westinghouse asks Edison what it felt like to hold the first light bulb that burned for 13 hours. I, of course, can’t quote the lines perfectly, but basically what he answered was that he had no feelings whatsoever because it was like magic. Up until then, none of his light bulbs had lasted more than 10 minutes. As the minutes went by and then the hours, he said it was like something completely unimaginable.

That speech made me think about that age-old question about who has seen the most amazing changes in their lifetime. Though it’s hard to argue that Baby Boomers haven’t seen the world change more than any other generation — can you say TECHNOLOGY? — I always think about the question Bill’s aunt asked him when he was just a boy and was listening to his transistor radio.  How is the music getting in that box?

Magic is the only way I could answer that question. Imagine what it must have been like to go from gaslight to electric light. Magic.

As for the way we treated the Indians, that fact is well documented and well known. While we might not have learned much about that in school, it certainly has become clear to us all. But a book I am reading (and which I will review on Friday) called  One Thousand White Women reminded me that our forefathers reneged on many a treaty when it became clear that money was to be had.

By the way, the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair was called the World’s Columbian Exposition, and it was held to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America. The irony isn’t lost on me. But the Chicago World’s Fair is known in the McLain family for the fact that Bill’s grandmother and grandfather met at the fair, where he was a trolley car operator and she was a passenger. Once again, the rest is history.

A Tree Grows in Jericho

Geocaching is one of my favorite activities with my grandkids. You will recall from earlier posts that geocaching is a virtual treasure hunt using a GPS system in which you are looking for tiny little containers that usually house nothing more than a piece of paper on which to sign your name.

The caches are generally located in fairly hard-to-find places, some that require, ahem, let’s say adventurous activities. Our geocaching quests have included Addie climbing along the side of a bridge over a creek (don’t tell her mom; I don’t think she knows about that one), walking through a tunnel that was owned by Denver Water (the bed upon which we walked was dry, and I prayed really hard the entire time that Denver Water wouldn’t decide to open up a valve and send water shooting through the tunnel while we were helplessly trudging through), and reaching under bushes or into holes that could (but didn’t) contain danger.

One such geocaching escapade in 2014 took Alastair and me into a well-populated park not far from our house. The description of the geocache fully disclosed that finding the cache would involve climbing a tree. Well, it certainly wasn’t going to be moi who would climb the tree. Alastair was 9 years old, an age at which climbing a tree seems fun. We located the tree, and before you could say Zacchaeus-the-tax-collector, Alastair proceeded to begin his journey up the tree, flip-flops and all…..

Zacchaeus, of course, was the evil tax collector from Jericho who was so excited to see Jesus speak to the crowds that he shimmied up the tree as fast as Alastair. His prize wasn’t a geocache. Instead, he not only earned the  chance to see Jesus in person despite his short stature, but he also received an invitation to join Jesus at dinner. This, of course, raised all sorts of Jewish eyebrows.  Jesus would rather eat with a sinner than someone as holy as us.

The thing is, Zacchaeus was as excited with his prize as Alastair was when he grabbed the geocache container that was hanging at the top of the tree. In fact, Zacchaeus was so excited that he immediately promised Jesus that he would pay back the money fourfold that he had collected under questionable means. Not only that, but he would give half his possessions to the poor.

I’m sure that Jesus was absolutely DELIGHTED that Zacchaeus not only had seen the evil of his ways, but was turning over a new leaf and instead of taking, would be giving from that point on. I, like Jesus, admire this man for turning greed into generosity, something I keep saying I’m going to do, yet somehow still look the other way at people holding signs.

But while I might have missed the point of the gospel story, I have to admit that I am equally impressed that this man could climb the tree so quickly, and apparently come down without breaking any important bones. Alastair made it up and down the tree pretty quickly too. But it would have been more difficult for Zacchaeus. After all, being a tax collector and all, he probably was older than 9, and he was likely wearing a long robe.

But he probably wasn’t wearing flip flops.