Monday, May 26, 2008

Memorial Day

I am often asked about the bracelet I wear on my left wrist. It is faded now, but the writing is still legible. It's a POW-MIA Bracelet from the Vietnam War, and it's not the first one I've had.

Back in the day - when I was in Jr. high and high school - the Vietnam War was still raging. There was an organization called VIVA - founded by a woman named Carol Bates Brown - and you could send in a small contribution and get a bracelet with the name of a soldier who was a prisoner of war or missing in action (hence the POW-MIA designation). Everyone I knew had one, and not just kids - many adults had them too. We were supposed to wear them until our guy came home, and then send it to him so he would know that someone had been thinking of him and praying for him.

When the POWs were released - Operation Homecoming, in 1973 - there were huge lists of names in the paper every day. I would wait for my mom to come home from work everyday with the daily paper and would pour over the lists, looking for my guy. He never came home.

I wore a bracelet with the name Sgt. Herndon A. Bivens on it for many many years. On one of my trips to D.C., I decided I wanted to go to The Wall and leave my bracelet there. I went in the late 1980s with my friend, Franklin (he's gone now, too), and together we found my guy's name on the wall, and it was with sadness that I took my bracelet off and tossed it to the base of The Three Soldiers statue.

As soon as I had done it, I missed its feel on my wrist, but I felt it was the right thing to go. For many years all I knew about Sgt. Bivens was that he was African American, and that he was from Jamaica, New York. Today, since it is Memorial Day, I thought I would look online again.

Herndon Bivens was an Airborne Pathfinder. Pathfinders were dropped ahead of the main force to ready a drop zone. There is an article about his last mission, and there is a photo of him on the U.S. Pathfinders website. It's long - and it's bloody, but this is Memorial Day, so maybe you'll read it because Herndon Bivens deserves to be remembered on this of all days. He was 28 years old. The Wall site shows he has been "officially"listed as missing in action since 1979, but like many things about Vietnam, the dates are not always consistent - the article lists 1970. Still, whatever the specific date - his body was never recovered.

I continued to miss having a bracelet, and in the mid-1990s I got another POW-MIA bracelet - I just found that my left wrist was too empty without it. The husband of a friend of a friend belonged to a veteran's organization, and he got me another bracelet because VIVA had long since disbanded.

The bracelet I wear now says CPL Dennis M. Rattin. He was an Illinois boy and was lost in a helicopter incident over Laos in October of 1969. He was a technical observer on a night reconnaissance flight. The helicopter went down and neither Rattin nor the pilot was ever found. Here is another account - again bits vary, but the story is essentially the same. He was 19 years old. Dennis Rattin was never accounted for and is still listed as mission in action.

I've not been back to The Wall in D.C. to find his name, but I found it on the Illinois Wall at Wabash Plaza along the Chicago River. It's right downtown, on the Riverwalk at Wabash Avenue.

Interestingly, both men were promoted to Staff Sergeant at some point after they were reported missing.

About that bracelet - the two questions I get the most are, "what is that?" and "why are you wearing it?" You know now what it is. As for why I wear it? Because the phrase "lest we forget" is powerful. Don't forget. Too many people gave their lives for their county in a war that few supported. I protested it at a pretty young age (I was raised to be politically aware). And here we are, 30-odd years later, once again in a war that few support.

Whether or not you agree with me politically is of no significance here - what matters is that Herndon Bivens and Dennis Rattin gave their lives for their country - they deserve to be remembered and honored. And so I do . . . lest we forget.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

My Sock Mojo . . .

My sock mojo seems to have gone on hiatus like most of my favorite shows on telly. I've really never had this happen before, but I'm stuck on the second sock of a pair that was going to go with me next week to the national African Violet convention (you know there's a convention for everything, don't you? ;-D) as a gift for someone . . . and I have absolutely no interest in anything sock at this particular point. How weird is that?!
Guess I'm socked out - at least for a bit. I have a hankering for something different - like maybe the Montego Bay Scarf . . .I don't know, just not socks. I guess I need to knit a pair for June for the SAM5 KAL, but we'll see. Here is my pair for May. Your basic stockinette sock, made out of Opal Zirkus. I love how they came out - maybe I need to go back to just plain old socks out of self-striping yarn . . . and maybe I just need to knit something else altogether. At least there has been spinning happening - photos of that soon!

I had the pleasure of attending a benefit luncheon yesterday for the Ragdale Foundation up in Lake Forest. Author, Joan Anderson, was talking about her most recent book, The Second Journey. I took the day off, took my cousin with me, and we had a wonderful, wonderful day :-) It was so great to see Joan again - she is quite inspiring and very very funny. She and her writing have been a great catalyst on the path back to myself that I have been on for some time.

Spring is finally here in Chicagoland - now if the temps would just cooperate and move up out of the 40s and 50s. Geez. Most of the trees have leafed out. This evidence of spring is most visible to me during my morning train commute - buildings and views are now obliterated by shrubs and trees, and yet it's peaceful and soothing to me to see all the green - something I missed terribly during my years in Southern California.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tag! I'm It!

I've been tagged!

I was tagged by Karen at The Knitting Patch to play in a meme . . . never did one of these before, but here goes :-)

The rules: Are posted at the beginning. At the end of the post, the player then tags 6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blog and leaves a comment, letting them know they've been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you've posted your answer. :-)

1. What was I doing 10 years ago? Wow - I had just met my now ex-husband. I was working as a technical analyst for a management consulting firm that provided consulting services to the legal profession, and playing my bagpipes way more than I do now :-S.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list today- not in any particular order? Well, the day is nearly over, but I can tell you what my list was - pump up the bike tires, load up the car and take stuff over to the Second Chance Shop and drop it off, go over to the apartment I am selling and do some final prep, walk the labyrinth at a local church, have my weekly Artist's Way conference call with the Argyll Sisters. I managed to accomplish them all, although the front tire of the bike popped about 15 minutes after I pumped it up :-( I guess I need a new inner tube.

3. Snacks I enjoy. Pocorn! Fresh fruit, protein (I'm really indoctrinated into the Weight Watchers' CORE food list, aren't I?!) - and if there are points available, I really like cheese. Did I mention popcorn?!

4. Places I've lived- a high-rise condo building in Illinois, a house in California, an apartment in Colorado, and an attic apartment in Germany.

5. Things I would do if I were a billionaire: Wow - what wouldn't I do? :-)

Here are the six people I'm tagging - Michelle at Boulderneigh, Jamie at The Yarn Snob, Kris at Knifty Red, Sophia at Yarn Over Manhattan, Janice at Willow Way Knitting, and Linda the Chicken Lady at A Windy City Gal. I hope they'll play :-)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Knit and Run . . .

It's a knit and run kind of day here - not much to say, but lot's to show, and I have to be in Rosemont in two hours - and it takes an hour to get there - and I'm still in my jams with serious bed head :-) So - short and sweet, but here's the scoop.

First - The Armoire (!)

It came last Saturday and I'm embarrassed to say that although it's not crammed full, all the yarn in the house does NOT fit . . . but it totally totally rocks and it's perfect in my sunroom/studio.

Second - The Dangerous Deck

. . . will soon be no more, so lets have a moment of silence for those rotted holes, the moss and the plywood to keep people from falling through - the new one will be wonderful and look much the same, with the addition of a screened gazebo where the octagon is now, and all made of composite so it will be maintenance-free.
That plywood is covering a multitude of sins . . . you can see one of the holes there on the right.

And Third

Here's a little weaving I started last night :-)

p.s. I don't know why the centered photos won't biggify (so I made them bigger), but the left and right ones will :-)

Thursday, May 1, 2008

How Kewl is This?! and Pay it Forward Redux

So, I was emailing with Janet Wray, of JWrayco - their website is nearly ready - and she said, "I see you're number one for the Crystal Lake fair." I had to think for a moment - and the lightbulb went on: The Midwest Folk & Fiber Arts Fair!!! As mentioned previously, I joined "The Flock" to support this event. Well guess what? I was the very first individual member!! My name is right there on the front page - at least for a little while. :-D I'm pretty excited about this. Not that it gets me anything special, but I thought it was kinda kewl.

Again, I encourage you to support this event, particularly if you are in the Tri-State area. We don't have many fiber events in the northern part of Illinois - and I think this one is well worth your support. As they say on the website, fairs like this don't run on admissions alone. You can become a member of "The Flock" for as little as $25.

Lookie what came from Canada today!!!! Isn't it gorgeous? Wendi, the Knitted Squirrel had a "Pay it Forward" exchange on her blog, and I signed up. Here is my simply elegant scarf, which will be looking way stylish on me next winter (or possibly next week with the wacky weather we've been having here lately). The pattern is Handmaiden's Wavy Scarf, and the yarn is Koigu Kersti, which is also made in Canada and hand painted. I LOVE it!! And check out the stitch markers - also made by Wendi. You can see more of her work on Etsy. She's part of SKWD Creations. I hope that link works. Thank you Wendi :-)

I also did the Pay it Forward exchange on my blog - and I only had one official taker, so there are two spots left, and I'm going to offer it again, right now. Here's the deal:

The "Pay It Forward Exchange" is based on the concept of the movie Pay it Forward, where acts or deeds of kindness are done without expecting something in return, just passing it on, with hope that the recipients of the acts of kindness are passed on. So here’s how it works. I will make and send a handmade gift to the first 3 people, now 2 people :-) who leave a comment to this post on my blog requesting to join this PIF exchange. I do not know what that gift will be yet, and it won’t be sent this month, probably not next month, but it will be sent (within 6 months) and that’s a promise! What YOU have to do in return, then, is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. I will send to anywhere in the World as long as it doesn't involve space travel!

And I'll leave you with the Raj Shawl - I found a use for that sari silk. It's not blocked (clearly), and you can click on the photo to biggify it.