Because of an excess of spambot activity, I have blocked new registrations. I hate taking such drastic measures, but I don't have time to clean up all the false registrations that result from whatever attack list I landed on. I will likely revise this in the future once I've upgraded some of my code, but until then, please email me if you would like a user account. Most days, you'll get a login within a few daylight hours. Please let me know:
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The WatchCat spent a year in Russia and the Middle East in preparation for a government career. Unfortunately she got in a little too deep, and health problems sabotaged her career before it began. The future? Now there's an open question. She gets her paws in the action whenever possible, with or without a paycheck. WatchCat keeps busy supporting the troops, recruiting pararescue candidates, yelling at traitors and helping people navigate the grey areas on international everything.
A close family member is active duty US military, but due to OPSEC (and the general need for family peace), WatchCat is unable to write about that person's activities. She makes the most of the opportunities that God gives her, knowing that she should be dead by now.
And yes, she is married & is going to stay married. Smacks upside the head are delivered as needed to those who don't understand this.
I've written before about spending Christmas in foreign lands, about the meaning of Christmas, and of course remembering those who can't be home for Christmas.
Today, though, has the ache of death nearby. I'm grieving my own losses, and wishing I knew a way to send flowers to a particular Gold Star mom. Moreover, my last remaining grandparent is in the hospital, and while treatment is progressing well, the concept of "borrowed time" is quite apparent.
So this ain't Pinterest.
This is more like the cold, painful, frightening journey to Bethlehem.
Christmas is faith that God shows up.
Christmas means that death may surround us but it doesn't defeat us.
And the only truly empty hands are the ones that are clenched too tight to allow anything or anyone in.
Christmas says that everyone on the naughty list gets the most extraordinary gift known: God with us.
We buried my grandmother at the same national cemetery years ago, but that was different. I was running late that day, so I barely spoke to the staffers, and since she was "just" a spouse there of course were no military honors. But yesterday is forever etched in my memory, not only for our own loss, but because of walking the same path as the Gold Star families.
The VA administration is profoundly screwed up, but the people working at the national cemetery were wonderful. When we arrived we discovered that multiple issues had been mishandled by the funeral home. On a half hour's notice, they got 3 National Guardsmen and 6 VFW Marines to perform full military honors, including a bugler and rifle volley. Words cannot convey the depths of my gratitude that we could give my grandfather his proper sendoff.
Yet it was also a stark reminder of the road other families must walk. We knew my grandfather's death was coming. But how does someone stumble through it all when the death is a shock? How do you keep the scream from bursting out of your chest when the last salute is fired?
I've been to a lot of funerals. The worst ones are the structureless ones, where the people present are left to the sum of their emotions. Grief needs structure. It needs familiar words and days off work and black clothes to tell the world to back off. My family hasn't been able to take time away from other responsibilities, and that has taken a terrible toll over the last two weeks. But at the cemetery they reminded us to silence our phones, effectively shutting out the rest of the world for a time. It was a time for honor, a time for grief. We shut out the world but connected with the unique brotherhood of all who grieve there.
The gift of the national cemeteries is the reminder that we are part of something bigger than ourselves and our immediate families. Every time I visit, I enter in grief but leave in gratitude.
There are times when I understand why certain governments control their media. I would love to squelch ours right now. I would love it if no news story included information on race. It's not that I don't think that racism is a problem still. I don't often see it in front of me, but I'm a white gal in a liberal northern state. Yet what I hear from my "non-white" friends tells me that there's more work to be done.
But trial-by-media does nothing but fan the flames of hatred on all sides.
What I've read of the grand jury transcripts is a far cry from the street narrative. Here we see two critical issues: 1) The media's disregard for truth in their pursuit of sensation, and 2) people's belief in the media above the judicial system.
It's hard to do anything about either issue when whites and blacks still harbor suspicion about each other.
I have a friend, a middle-aged black writer, who has done a great job of sharing her experiences without lapsing into hatred. I've written before about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the issues that arise when an entire community has been scarred by mistreatment, and I believe that there are parallels. Yes, "reverse racism" is a problem. My friend admits it. But affirmative action won't fix this. More legislation won't fix this. It is a social problem and it needs a social solution.
It needs invitations to coffee.
It needs doors held open.
It needs less edginess and more laughter in the checkout line.
There are different cultures and different struggles, and deep resentments on both sides. Much will not be understood without active engagement. We've lost the ability to draw out the opposing side; we're so busy proclaiming that we're right that we don't bother to find out why someone thinks we're wrong. There's no harm in asking, "Why don't you trust the police? Why don't you trust the judicial system?" The answers might surprise you. I have a personal reason to distrust the judicial system, but I don't let it end there because I recognize it is the best of the options. We need to encourage each other to work for solutions rather than just complain about other people's behavior.
Blame begets hatred. Compassion paired with clear thinking stops the cycle.
Here's the thing: I posted "Pray for Ferguson" on my Facebook wall and did not get a single "like." I have both liberal and conservative friends on FB. What is wrong with us if we cannot even agree to pray for a place that is getting sucked into hatred and violence?
You might start by looking someone of the other "color" in the eye and saying hello.
We'd been expecting it for a long time, and it's pretty amazing that he held on as long as he did. Knowing his service record in the USMC, though, it wasn't a surprise that he held on for a few extra years.
It makes the "if onlys" a bit harder. We weren't close, but it still feels like the rug got pulled out from under me. He was part of my foundation, a key piece of who I am, and that piece is part grit and part too-hard shell. I broke through that shell with him once, and he told me about the blood sloshing around on the floor of the hospital ship.I hope that in that moment, he knew that he was heard. I could love and accept and be proud of the warrior he had once been. But he kept those memories locked down most of the time, maybe to protect us, maybe because he just couldn't bear to relive them.
A good friend of mine recently made an offhand comment about me not being a very affectionate person. It wasn't a criticism; she was just making an observation while discussing an issue. It surprised and stung me a bit, because I don't think of myself that way. But I realized that my deepest feelings do get buried. Thus I'm more like my grandfather than I realized.
Did my grandfather love me? The more I think about it, the more I believe that he did. But we primarily knew each other's walls, not the things inside. I wish we had given each other more of a chance to be real; I think it would have turned out well.
If you love someone, no matter how imperfectly, don't let them doubt it. Hug them a few seconds longer, send a two line email just because, give them grace when they screw up. Someday one or both of you will have to say goodbye.
One of my closest friends is a newly-minted sergeant. She's no glory hound; in fact, I remember her commenting about her trip home from Afghanistan and how problematic it was when people wanted to talk about her service all the time when she just wanted to get a nap before coming home. So it surprised me yesterday when she remarked about going into a particular store while in uniform, and no one there made the slightest acknowledgment of her service. I know the store in question. It's a hotbed of liberalism, so I wasn't really surprised. Just...sad. She's an amazing woman who has truly found her niche. But liberals probably see her skin color and the uniform and pity her at best. I almost wish someone had actually said what they were thinking; they might have learned their lesson.
Long ago, I thought only the old guys were the veterans. But then after Desert Storm, it was the dads, the uncles, the older cousins. Then it was the brothers, the classmates, the husbands... Now, fellow moms are veterans, and the older kids are enlisting.
I cannot imagine how not knowing any veterans would feel. No wonder liberals want to legislate the heck out of everything; their world must feel totally insecure. To know a veteran is to know sacrifice and honor and backbone. We understand it to varying degrees, but the collective character of veterans is a gift to our country that extends far beyond time in service.
So, to my family, friends, and those veterans I don't know by name: Thank you. You protect our freedoms, you keep our enemies at bay, and your character makes this a better country. We are truly blessed to have you.
I'm still not sure of what happened with my hosting service these last few months, but thankfully it is sorted out and the old posts are back, so I might dare to write a new one or two someday.
Life has changed. The Great Move has been accomplished, although we still have crazy amounts of boxes to still unpack. We love our new house and moving back to an old haunt feels right. But it has been more than ten years since I've had any kind of residence here, so it's an odd experience. We're planning to stay for at least five years. Still, I wonder if I'm jinxing myself by throwing away the boxes and the bubble wrap.
Politics... I'm fed up and and yesterday's election showed that most of the country is fed up too. We'll see if the new government can do any better.
I'll do some mass postings of Wednesday Hero to catch up and then I'll try to work through all the things I flagged for attention these last couple months. Thanks for sticking around.
I don't want to waste your time with ongoing apologies in lieu of posts, but I feel a brief explanation is in order.
I have a 2 year old. We're selling our current house. We're buying a new one in another town. There's also a possible job change in the works.
And for the moment, it's next to impossible for me to give the critical issues of our world the deep attention they require. I'm reading what I can, but I don't feel ready to write about them yet. But I intend to revive this blog just as soon as I can. Thanks for sticking with me.
"Even to the death fight for truth, and the Lord your God will battle for you." -Sirach 4:28
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Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?" And I said, "Here am I. Send me!" -Isaiah 6:8
As many of you are aware, the PJCountry blog disappeared in November 2008.
I'm doing my best to help the pararescue community by sharing PJ-related news and events on my blog. The following information may be helpful:
You will find answers to many questions at pararescue.com and specialtactics.com
If you're ready to become a PJ, you'll need to decide between Active Duty and Reserve. This will determine who will handle your official recruitment. Visit Contacts and POCs to find the appropriate person or email me.
304th Pararescue Team (Reserve) (Oregon)
If you're on the west coast near Oregon and are considering being a PJ/CRO on the Portland Pararescue Team (commitment of 4 years beyond training), contact TSgt Stanley Iakopo at stanley.iakopo AT us.af.mil or email me.
I have no official role with pararescue or other SpecOps but I know enough to get you connected to the right people. Email to CAT at THEWATCHCAT dot NET
Jubilate Agno, Fragment B
[For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry]
by Christopher Smart
For he is the servant of the Living God, duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant
For he keeps the Lord's watch in the night against the adversary.
For he is of the tribe of Tiger.
For he purrs in thankfulness when God tells him he's a good Cat.
For he is an instrument for the children to learn benevolence upon.
For every house is incomplete without him, and a blessing is lacking in
For he is the cleanest in the use of his forepaws of any quadruped.
For he is the quickest to his mark of any creature.
For there is nothing sweeter than his peace when at rest.
For there is nothing brisker than his life when in motion.
For by stroking of him I have found out electricity.