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Sacrifice

DaddyBear's Den

The old man lifted his bundle onto his shoulder after stooping over and picking up his walking stick. Next to him, his son bent over with his own burden of food and water. He had sprouted up that spring, and had the gangly look all boys get just before they start to fill out into manhood.

“Heavy?” Abraham asked.

“No, father,” Isaac said stoically.

Abraham smiled sadly at that. Isaac had his mother’s eyes and laughter, but his stubbornness was wholly from him. He marveled at how much joy their son brought to him, even now.

Sarah, her long silver hair pulled back and covered with a linen cloth, leaned down and kissed her son, smoothing down the unruly mop of dark curls on his head. She turned and smiled at her husband.

“Be safe,” she said, “and come home quickly.”

“I will, love,” he said quietly, reaching out to…

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A Year of Poetry – Day 356

Great big lolloping lovable things!
Rolling and tumbling on every lawn,
Tearing at slippers and bones and wings-
Wonderful loot from the ash-heap drawn:
Foxhound puppies
Contented puppies
Dipping your ears in the dews of dawn!
Lapping your porridge at farm-house doors,
Cracking a biscuit, robbing a nest
Printing your tracks upon kitchen floors,
Dodging a broom when the cooks protest;
Foxhound puppies,
Delinquent puppies,
Cursed for a moment and then caressed!
Wandering out where the spaniels walk,
Following slow when the guns go by,
Streaking for home when the twelve-bores talk,
Clumsy and puzzled and suddenly shy;
Foxhound puppies
Bewildered puppies
Lone and unwanted and wondering why!
Never mind puppies, your day will come;
By distant coverts your kingdoms wait,
When the spaniels doze and the guns are dumb
And hoofs are loud by the bridle gate;
Foxhound puppies,
Yet scarcely puppies,
Raised as you are to a hound’s estate.
Lost will your lolloping ways be then,
Your timid glance and your shrinking pose,
As you shoulder the gorse in glade and glen,
Lifting the line that your tongues disclose;
Foxhound puppies,
No longer puppies,
But trusted names that the huntsman knows!

— William Henry Ogilvie, Foxhound Puppies

The War – Episode 30

April 13, 7:03 PM Eastern
Louisville, Kentucky

The woman at the front of the hall wore a light blue jacket over a white button-down shirt and gray slacks. She stepped up to the podium and raised her hands to quell the noise from the group of twenty-five or thirty people sitting in front of her.

“Ladies and gentlemen, thanks for coming out,” she said, her smooth voice showing a slight twang as she greeted her audience, “I’m Susan Graham from the Governor’s office, and I’m here to talk to y’all about the new Home Guard.”

“Before I begin, let me tell you a little about myself. I’m originally from Hopkinsville, and I retired as a deputy sheriff down there in Christian County a few months ago. If any of y’all were ever stationed at Fort Campbell and got into trouble in Hoptown, there’s a good chance we’ve already met.” Several of the men and women in the crowd returned her smile, and a few of them ruefully shook their heads over some youthful memory or other.

“I also retired from the National Guard as a first sergeant last fall, and I’ve been a few interesting and exciting places doing that. Any fellow Military Police out there?” One of the women in the back of the room raised her hand, and Graham nodded and smiled at her.

“I’ve been in the governor’s office as an advisor on veterans and law enforcement since he took office last December,” she said, stepping out from behind the podium, “You can imagine how fun that’s been.”

“The Governor asked me to come speak with y’all tonight about a new program. He just came back from a meeting in Arizona, and they’re standing up something they’re calling ‘The Home Guard,’ and he thinks it’s a good idea.”

“The Home Guard won’t be the National Guard. They won’t be given helmets and uniforms and sent off to war. They won’t be the State Police, either. Guardsmen won’t be making arrests and gathering evidence.”

“What they will be are eyes, ears, and hands in our neighborhoods, our schools, and our streets. When seconds count, they’ll be there in the crucial minutes it takes for first responders to arrive,” Graham said, stepping behind the podium again.

“We’re asking for good people to step up, get vetted, and volunteer their time in the Home Guard.”

She paused a moment to let that sink in. “Are there any questions?” she asked.

After a moment, a man in the front row raised his hand. Graham smiled again as she nodded to him and he stood up.

“I’m Jim Rucker. What exactly do you mean, “eyes, ears, and hands?” he asked, then sat down.

“When we put a Guardsman in a school or at a shopping center, they’ll watch for anyone who’s a danger to it. We’ll have radios and phones to report back anything suspicious. If, God forbid, someone tries anything like what happened in December, the Guardsman will be there to try to prevent it or to react immediately.”

“Prevent it?”

“The people who attacked our schools on December 19th aren’t going to be deterred by somebody in a blue jacket, and they’re not going to stop because you put your hand up. If you volunteer and something happens, you’ll be asked to do everything you can to stop it.”

“Will we be armed?” someone in the middle rows called out.

“The Governor doesn’t want to take on training someone and being responsible for their guns,” Graham said, looking across the room, “But if you’re got a concealed carry license, then nobody is going to say anything if you decide to carry a weapon to defend yourself and others.”

“No training?”

“We’ll provide first aid training and briefings on what you can and can’t do as a member of the Guard. You’ll go through a drug screening and background check, of course. The Attorney General is considering whether or not you’ll be deputized so that you’re covered by the State if there’s a problem.”

Jim raised his hand again, and stood when Graham acknowledged him. “So,” he said, “we’re going to be there to try to stop December 19th from happening again, and to help out when it does?”

“Yes. Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers did something similar during the World Wars. They guarded things like rail yards and factories. That stuff’s already covered, over-covered if you ask me. You’ll be providing the manpower to watch over the rest of the places someone might attack.”

“I’m not going to lie and say that there’s no risk, because being there when somebody tries to blow themselves up in a grocery store or shoot up a schoolyard is going to be dangerous. But our choice is to either do something like this, hire a whole bunch of new police, or just hope that December 19th was a lightning bolt that won’t strike twice.”

She paused again and looked out at the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, the Governor doesn’t have the cash to hire more police, and we’re not dumb enough to leave our children and families open to another attack,” she said in a firm voice, “We need your help.”

The men and women looked at each other, and a murmur went through the crowd. Several looked at their spouses and shook their heads. Jim pursed his lips and stared up at the picture of a racehorse on the wall for a moment, then stood up again.

“Ma’am,” he said, looking Graham in the eye, “Where do I sign?”


 

Other episodes can be found here.  The rest of the story can be found in Escort Duty, available now at Amazon.

A Year of Poetry – Day 355

Lo! where the rosy-bosom’d Hours,
Fair Venus’ train appear,
Disclose the long-expecting flowers,
And wake the purple year!
The Attic warbler pours her throat,
Responsive to the cuckoo’s note,
The untaught harmony of spring:
While whisp’ring pleasure as they fly,
Cool zephyrs thro’ the clear blue sky
Their gather’d fragrance fling.
Where’er the oak’s thick branches stretch
A broader, browner shade;
Where’er the rude and moss-grown beech
O’er-canopies the glade,
Beside some water’s rushy brink
With me the Muse shall sit, and think
(At ease reclin’d in rustic state)
How vain the ardour of the crowd,
How low, how little are the proud,
How indigent the great!
Still is the toiling hand of Care:
The panting herds repose:
Yet hark, how thro’ the peopled air
The busy murmur glows!
The insect youth are on the wing,
Eager to taste the honied spring,
And float amid the liquid noon:
Some lightly o’er the current skim,
Some show their gaily-gilded trim
Quick-glancing to the sun.
To Contemplation’s sober eye
Such is the race of man:
And they that creep, and they that fly,
Shall end where they began.
Alike the busy and the gay
But flutter thro’ life’s little day,
In fortune’s varying colours drest:
Brush’d by the hand of rough Mischance,
Or chill’d by age, their airy dance
They leave, in dust to rest.
Methinks I hear in accents low
The sportive kind reply:
Poor moralist! and what art thou?
A solitary fly!
Thy joys no glitt’ring female meets,
No hive hast thou of hoarded sweets,
No painted plumage to display:
On hasty wings thy youth is flown;
Thy sun is set, thy spring is gone—
We frolic, while ’tis May.
— Thomas Gray, Ode on the Spring

A Year of Poetry – Day 354

The path runs straight between the flowering rows,
A moonlit path, hemmed in by beds of bloom,
Where phlox and marigolds dispute for room
With tall, red dahlias and the briar rose.
‘T is reckless prodigality which throws
Into the night these wafts of rich perfume
Which sweep across the garden like a plume.
Over the trees a single bright star glows.
Dear garden of my childhood, here my years
Have run away like little grains of sand;
The moments of my life, its hopes and fears
Have all found utterance here, where now I stand;
My eyes ache with the weight of unshed tears,
You are my home, do you not understand?

— Amy Powell, The Fruit Garden Path

100 Years On – Vimy Ridge

From April 9 to April 12, 1917, the Canadian Expeditionary Force conducted its first battle in which all four of its divisions were engaged at once.  As part of the larger Arras offensive, the Canadians captured Vimy Ridge and the surrounding countryside.

Key to this victory was preparation at all levels.  An immense collection of artillery, comprised of almost 1000 guns, mortars, and howitzers, was allotted 1.6 million shells for the battle.  Extensive reconnaissance gave commanders a good picture of the battlefield, which was passed all the way down to platoon leaders.  Canadian soldiers were extensively trained for the battle, and lower-echelon commanders were given information and freedom of command unheard of in other World War I offensives.

The Germans facing the Canadians were outnumbered almost four to one, and their commander had not yet implemented the new “defense in depth” concept the German army had developed the previous year.  Where the Canadians were able to provide relatively safe approaches to the front for their soldiers through the use of extensive tunnels, the Germans kept their reserves 24 miles behind the lines.  While the Germans fought valiantly to defend their positions, lack of resupply and reinforcement contributed to their defeat.

The Canadians reached all of their objectives by the end of April 12, and established control of the high ground at the far left of the Arras battlefield.  This victory cost them 3,598 dead and 7,004 wounded.  While this is a horrid butcher’s bill to our modern sensibilities, it is light when compared to the casualties of other First World War battles, and the Canadians had actually succeeded.

 

Rules for Waking Up Your Husband

  1. Do not wake up your husband for inclement weather until the dude on TV is telling folks five miles from your house to get in the basement.
  2. Do wake up your husband when you hear something that may or may not be a home intruder, large critter on the porch, or ghost.
  3. Do not wake up your husband for a sick child until the child tells you it is sick. That is, of course, unless said sprog is an infant, in which case neither of you will be asleep anyway.
  4. Do wake up your husband if the child announces said malady by spewing like a shaken can of cheap beer.
  5. Do not wake up your husband because your alarm is going off.  He has one of his own.
  6. Do wake up your husband if his alarm is going off, has awoken you, and he is still comatose. Please be merciful.
  7. Do not wake up your husband because you are mad at him for something he did in a dream.
  8. Do wake up your husband if you wake up afraid or upset about something you dreamed.
  9. Do not wake up your husband because you are bored and want to talk about that thing you watched on TV last night that you know makes him want to shove his head in the blender and hit the ‘frappe’ button.
  10. Do wake up your husband if you just need a quick kiss or hug to let you know how much he loves you, because he does indeed love you more than he loves sleep.

A Year of Poetry – Day 353

The time I’ve lost in wooing,
In watching and pursuing
The light, that lies
In woman’s eyes,
Has been my heart’s undoing.
Though Wisdom oft has sought me,
I scorn’d the lore she brought me,
My only books
Were woman’s looks,
And folly’s all they’ve taught me.

Her smile when Beauty granted,
I hung with gaze enchanted,
Like him the Sprite,
Whom maids by night
Oft meet in glen that’s haunted.
Like him, too, Beauty won me,
But while her eyes were on me,
If once their ray
Was turn’d away,
Oh! winds could not outrun me.

And are those follies going?
And is my proud heart growing
Too cold or wise
For brilliant eyes
Again to set it glowing?
No, vain, alas! th’ endeavour
From bonds so sweet to sever;
Poor Wisdom’s chance
Against a glance
Is now as weak as ever.

— Thomas Moore, The Time I’ve Lost in Wooing

A Year of Poetry – Day 352

Liza, go steep your long white hands
In the cool waters of that spring
Which bubbles up through shiny sands
The colour of a wild-dove’s wing.

Dabble your hands, and steep them well
Until those nails are pearly white
Now rosier than a laurel bell;
Then come to me at candlelight.

Lay your cold hands across my brows,
And I shall sleep, and I shall dream
Of silver-pointed willow boughs
Dipping their fingers in a stream.

— Elinor Wylie, Spring Pastoral

Musings

  • I’d like to send a shout-out to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, who has been working hard on the roads hereabouts lately.
    • It takes real talent to make a road worse after the repair.
    • Here’s a hint – If the only notification that your road crew is removing barrels after dark is when my headlights hit their reflective vests, you’re doing it wrong.
    • Yes, I was doing the speed limit, and there were “ROAD CREW” signs posted. I got over onto the shoulder a bit to give them room once I knew they were there, but lights are cheap and road workers are worth the expense.
  • A rural SUPERDUPERMART on a Sunday night is a real cultural experience.
    • There was a lot of mutton dressed up as lamb, a lot of lamb dressed up as breeding ewe, and a few rams dressed up as… well, not as rams.
    • Folks from all over the hemisphere, of all ages, seem to congregate there to mix and mingle.
    • I must be weird for needing an ironing board.  I got more looks than the older woman who was wearing clothing five sizes too small.
  • There was a strange point during my drive tonight where a rock station faded out somewhat, a country station faded in a bit, and they both mixed in with a Spanish station on the same frequency.
    • The condition only lasted for a few minutes.  I was hoping to hear some station identifiers so I try to figure what kind of weird hop would cause that.
  • I have done my yearly mowing of the lawn.  I do not plan on doing it again until this time next year.
    • The act of clipping the top six or seven inches off of a perfectly good blade of grass is alien to me.
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