Friday, June 25, 2010


There is an old saying that is quoted as "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". I'm not really sure of it's origin, but it bottles the essence of those who have a nature of determination in their spirits.

Those who manage disasters, life crisis, more than just "bumps in the road" and do it well, seem to mange things in a methodical tick list fashion, all the while keeping their calm (or not). Moms seem to own the market on crisis management. They look beyond the crisis, beyond the immediate shock and once the original capture of the mind is taken in, within minutes, can foresee the outcome in a more positive light and express comfort to those who they are assisting, all the while saying "it'll be alright". When there seems to not be a positive outcome to be seen, comfort and compassion are always in the forefront.

There are some situations that the phrase "shit magnet" come to mind. That is where a person or establishment, seem destined to experience pain over and over again, and often, by no fault of their/it's own. Our Post isn't a shit magnet, but some days, it sure feels that way.

I volunteer for a local American Legion who has seen it's fair share of natural disasters. In 2003, the flood waters of the St. Mary's River rose within it's walls and the once debt-free Post, then became victim to a 364K SBA Loan. Some brilliant fucker on the Board of Directors only 7-9 short months prior to the disaster, decided they could save allot of money, by cancelling the flood insurance. What a mess that was when it was time to clean up from that mess, with no insurance company Adjuster to guide the process and limit the liability. Well that bit of shit that was dealt their way, was their fault. Dealing with it doesn't make that go down any better. As their current Finance Officer, I still want to take those fuckers to court that made that decision that ruined the spirit of the Organization, our mission to the Military and their families and has now left us scrambling , even now, to regain what we once were known for... the best and most bad-ass place to come in town to eat, play and have fun. I'm considering my options.

The night of June 23, 2010, we took another hit. This time, insured. A spot tornado took off the roof of the vestibule area, uprooted a tree, damaged our signs, blew the AC and Walk-in cooler covers off the roof and our electrical system from the vestibule to just inside the interior walls and everything along that panel are a cluster fuck.

The alarm company called me first at 11:48pm telling me that a window breakage sensor had been set off in the front area of the building. We were in the middle of what was the first of two solid rounds of 75 MPH winds, lightning and torrential rains. I couldn't go investigate just yet.

There was a calm in the storm for about a 30-45 minute time period in our location. Dick Arend, a good and kind man whose job I took over, lives about 3 blocks from the Post. The American Legion buildings are known as "Posts", for those who don't understand the lingo. Dick went to investigate.

Dick called me once he arrived to let me know the extent of the damage and said, "it's a mess". That was the understatement of the year. Like the good mentor he is though, he remained calm in the literal middle of the storm, and I took his lead and did so as well. He'd turned off the alarm, because the window sensor was now apart of the great outdoors and if we armed the building, it would just go off once again. This left us vulnerable. I called the Fort Wayne Police department and explained the situation, asked them to please keep their eyes on the Bldg as they were able, and gave them my home phone number to call in case the had information for us from later in the evening.

Round two came along, with winds more fierce than round 1. In between round 1 and 2, our Post Commander had come to the building and reset the alarm. Not knowing the conversation Dick and I had already had about that with the alarm company, the alarm company called be once again at 3am to let me know the alarm had triggered again, but it was the back door entry sensor this time. They informed me that the police had been dispatched and asked if I would be coming to meet them. I answered "no, but tell them to call me if they find a true breach has been made". I didn't see the reasoning of driving out in 75 mph winds just yet, and along with that lovely serenity prayer of mine, gave up something that was out of my control and gave prayerful diligence to asking the one that could, to act in my absence in our behalf.

I am a tick list kind of person. The first act as Finance Officer, was to place a call to the insurance company, which I did at 3:20am after the call from the alarm company and having Dick's verbal assessment of the situation. I left voice mail with the agent to please have the adjuster out first thing in the morning. I then returned to bed with no solid sleep to be had as my mind was restlessly reviewing the auto-formatted tick list now present in my head. Determination was on the job.

If I am nothing else, I am an American patriot. As I drove closer to the Post, the picture to the left here was my first visualization. Old glory, hanging upside down, ripped from the grommets that held her at the head of the majestic flag pole; my heart was heavy. Our POW-MIA flag, thread barren from the fight, display in tact, weathered from the storm and yet, on the flag pole, was proudly supporting our Nations flag as the men that it stands for have and are, serving our Nation today. To see this, was a moment in time that was filled with heart wrenching irony. This photo has not been retouched or edited in any way. Clouds were in the sky, yet it was dark and gloomy when I first arrived.

The Commander and I arrived ahead of the insurance adjuster and were calmly and methodically scoping out the damage. After the initial walkabout, I went directly to the cabinet where we keep our flags, and secondly to the flag pole to replace the tired, warrior with a new symbol of freedom and unity, lest we not forget. John Dudley, a member of the Sons of the American Legion , accompanied me to the flag pole where I bought down the weathered warriors. He was on guard so as not to let Old Glory touch the ground in any way on her way to retirement. We didn't have an extra POW-MIA flag, but we always have Old Glory on standby in various sizes and materials. We respectfully attached her to the halyard and slowly raised her into position. After securing her, I stepped back, and saluted her proudly.

Determination was on the job.

This may sound weird, fabricated, and just outrageous, but I need you to know that once she was in position, the clouds allowed the sun through and the original picture at the top of this blog, was taken at the base of the flagpole with the sun in full force. Irony? Perhaps. The timing of it all was spiritual.

The one thing current era veterans have in common with those warriors who built this Legion Post, is the determination to make a difference. If you've never been spat on when returning from a war, or walk in silence as your mind races back into the zones where you watched your buddy's arm being blown off or his brain splatter onto your uniform; chances are you don't "get it". If you've never been 18 years old and put on the front line as IED fodder and crapped your trousers knowing any minute you could roll over an IED that will end life as you know it; chances are, you don't "get it". If you've never been a military spouse, child, sibling or parent of someone in the military, you definitely don't "get it". The pride runs deep and to the heart. Only those who have been there and done that can know. The American Legion was formed in 1919 to unite a band of brothers and now, sisters, together to look out for each other and our families.

The American Legion was chartered and incorporated by Congress in 1919 as a patriotic veterans organization devoted to mutual helpfulness. It is the nation’s largest veterans service organization, committed to mentoring and sponsorship of youth programs in our communities, advocating patriotism and honor, promoting a strong national security, and continued devotion to our fellow servicemembers and veterans. -
Learn more about the American Legion .

On a personal note, it makes me sick that those who serve up the food (Haliburton) make more money than the people they serve it to. But that is another topic entirely.

I suppose I did fail to mention, now that I am reviewing my blog entry for the day, that Post 296, in 2005 was revisited by freakish flood waters, undoing the renovation we had just gone in debt for. Sigh. Shit magnet? Nah, just freak weather beyond our control. Surreal though, surreal.

Although my heart is heavy with this new crisis to manage and we only have a $1000 deductible for this incident to weather, this one is manageable. However, I still have $362K to go to make this place debt free again and to restore it to it's crowning glory. How the fuck I am going to do that? I have no earthly clue. Fact is, as much as I would like to say I am "all that", I can't do it alone.

I think big. I am a positive thinker. Nothing is ever a "no", until I hear it for myself, and then, I explore all possibilities and counsel with others before I give up hope. Wait, I don't think I've ever given up hope on anything, so scratch that last statement.

What we need, is a rabbit out of a hat. Maybe a cussy one. A power-hitter, or a combo of two or three that would do a benefit show for us and other Legions like us - we could get back to the business of our mission. Could Sid be our savior? (grinning, with a nod)

I am officially PLEADING with the Craigs, Randys, Carsons and Fallons of the world to come do a benefit show for the veterans and our Post in Fort Wayne.

December would good. I believe this calendar was left laying here on this month for a reason. Call me superstitious. The picture is worth a thousand words.

Our Post capacity is 380. All we're asking for is your time once, unless you decide it is worthy of more. Have your people call my people at 260-447-3777 if you can help.

If plastic is your weapon of choice, donate securely via PayPal to You do not have to have a PayPal account to use your credit card to help us.

Determination is on the job. Ain't too proud to beg.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I'm not a fan of leftovers. I used to be alright with them, but a strange life event changed my mind, and fast.

Only a year after Mom died, my Dad remarried the woman he was married to before my Mom was on the scene. This is the woman who we heard horror stories about all of our life, and now, we were expected to accept her. Why? Time mellows the soul, or so I hear. I believe that, to some extent. In this case, I had no real personal reference point to really know if that was true with her or not, so I tried to just go with the flow. It sucked.

I am a fan of frugal spending. I think it's the Scot in the bloodline. I am a bigger fan of nutrition. Not just food, real fuel. My favorite vegetable is green beans. Fresh, steamed or flash fried green beans. There were many a day in the summertimes of my life where I spent it alongside my Mother as we snapped and de-strung bushels upon bushels of fresh green beans from the garden. My fingers were always sore for days after a snapping session like that. The best part was the rinsing and steaming within an hour of the pull and enjoying the fresh bounty of the harvest.

That was "before", and the "after" was an awkward adjustment for a 16 year old to make.

Every new "step-mother" does the suck-up thing to the kids to try to win their favor. You know it's true. So green beans was the thing "she" decided to leap into to gain my favor in a small, seemingly thoughtful way. She was the worse cook I'd ever come to know, even to this day. She tried though, I'll give'r that.

"She" was nicknamed "Bat-Woman" by my Brother and me. Or should that be me and my brother? Whatever. She would always keep the curtains drawn and keep it dark inside of the house that before her arrival, beamed sunshine to every corner and crevice. The only thing missing was her vertical reversal into sleep mode to complete the cave-like atmosphere.

I was a free spirit at 16. Great friends, Navy ROTC and the beach, made up the daily route. Being at the house was what I avoided most, for reasons obvious to those who would know how it feels to see your Mother's pseudo replacement fail miserably in the comparison department. Bat-woman wasn't trying to replace Mom. I know that. But damn, my Mother was beautiful and she looked like a prune. Seriously, a prune.

Her big effort of attempting to win me over with green beans, consisted of starting dinner at 9am and having it simmer on the stove all fucking day long. By the time Dad would get home (I tried to coordinate arrivals so he would be there when I got there too), the green beans were so shriveled and blackened from the burned, buttery simmer-fest, that they were unrecognizable. I wasn't going anywhere near that shit. Ick.

So with me not feasting on her failed effort for approval, she would whip out the Tupperware and reheat the same shit the next day for another eight hour simmer. She really thought we'd eat it eventually. I'm never that hungry.

After the simmer-fest day after day, I just learned to eat before I got home. There were a few occasions over the year and half before I went into the Coast Guard, where I would call Dad at the office and he and I would go somewhere to eat before it was time to make the afternoon appearance, just to avoid the food. Dad would call her to say he had a dinner appointment with a business friend "to close a deal", and would be home about an hour behind the normal schedule. No worries tough, the same shit that had simmered all day would be served again the next night.

Mrs. Hammond, who is the mother of my best friend back in the day, is also Charlie Daniels Aunt Geraldine. She always had an extra place at the table and understood my dilemma with the love and compassion that mirrored my Mother's love. I still call Mrs. Hammond every week to check in and see how her and Mr. Hammond are doing. They have a fairly big family. All of the major occasions of the year are always a gathering of my old pals at the Hammond's house, so that is when I especially make the call. I like checking in with everyone at the same time and laugh with my friends once again. It's food for the soul. If it wasn't for Mrs. Hammond and Mrs. Stinson, Jamie's Mom, I would have starved. The Stinson's (Savage surnamed family, remarried) and the Hammonds were my respite and soft place to fall whenever I felt like a 16 year old does when you are still enough to let the grief seep back in. I love those two families. Every single one of them. Charlie, he's just a regular guy. He may be a big deal to some, but he's just Charlie to me. I was invited to LaRue's (Charlie's late Mom) for Thanksgiving dinner in Leland, several times when Charlie was home, and it was always a great family experience. From Charlie's viewpoint, I was just another brat friend of Loretta's to him.

To this day, I am funny about leftovers; not in a humorous way, in a freaky kind of way. Some paranoia of bacterial ick keeps me from wanting to eat things once cooked, handled, then recooked or warmed up. It doesn't matter if I was the handler or not, I don't do leftovers. Bat-Woman tainted me for life. Ha! I said taint.

I'm sure at one time or another, I will scribe more about Bat-Woman, just for therapeutic purposes. Fanny's Crack is full of untold stories. Some funny, others tragically accurate.

I still enjoy green beans. I cook them correctly to preserve the nutrients. I like them crunchy with a touch of cherry tomatoes, fresh rosemary and thyme.

I can't believe I just blogged about Bat-Woman's fucking green beans. Take that, oh twist of fate! The rest of the Bat-Woman story is still in my head. It was never in my heart.

She died 6 years after my Dad by suicide.

The churches I attended, which were numerous over the years and of different denominations, teach that those who take their own life, rob themselves from eternal grace. I find some solace in that, actually. My Mom and Dad are reunited without interference from a cave dweller.

...or that is how I choose to feel it in order to cope.

In hindsight, Bat-woman herself was a reheated, shriveled up leftover. I think that's what initially stained my senses to the food variety of the same type.

I still have trouble reconciling my Dad's choice for companionship in his latter years. Just before he died, he was making arrangements to move in with myself and my son in Charleston. I think he knew something was up and he wasn't long for this world, and wanted to go out happy by choosing a sublime exit.
Sublime - [French sublimer, from Latin sublimare]
a (1): to elevate or exalt especially in dignity or honor

He succeeded, and with dignity.

Now I'm a leftover. Cyclic shit just blows my mind.