Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Remembering Our Fallen Warriors: Sgt Christian B Williams, the Polk County Florida Fallen, and the Traveling Tribute Wall

My Marine, Ethan Arguello (now a civilian again), asked me to share this post he wrote, to reach out to all Marines and Veterans with ties to Polk County (Winter Haven) Florida, especially those who served with Sgt Chris Williams in one of his several deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq, with an invitation to join Chris's family and friends in a Day of Honor and Remembrance July 23rd. Details further below.

Sgt Ethan D. Arguello:
"One Iraq memory of My Friend and also my Brother in Arms, Sgt Christian B Williams: About 2 months into my second deployment, outside of Fallujah (Kharma) about 7pm(dusk), with little winds and peaceful clear skies, we were eating, talking and bedding down for the night in a field(like a cotton field), relaxed and comfortable, when... loud automatic gunfire rings out. Everybody instinctively takes cover and begins to return fire. Sgt Williams runs across an open field, completely exposed to hostile enemy fire, to get with his team. Through the 'dust, smoke and debris on the battlefield' we heard a voice throughout: "Let's go let’s get em, let's f****n go, let's go get em!" It was Sgt Christian Williams. It's that dedication to his Brothers safety and tenacious fighting spirit that I remember and love him for.

"Below is a Message I just got from Sgt Christian Williams' mother. He was an awesome man and Marine! If you can make it, please do. If not, invite whoever you think could be there. Everyone is invited, that’s the way Christian would want it and that’s the type of man he was, liked by everyone and he had a warm welcome for everybody. This is their letter to me, if you’re interested, please let me know and I will get you set up for success.

Jack & Marie Williams:

"Hi there. I just want you to know that we are putting together a Memorial for this year. Jack & I decided that instead of in honor of Sgt Christian B Williams, we feel that Chris would like it better if we memorialize the Fallen of Polk County with the 3rd LAR. So we are inviting you to an event on Saturday at 12 noon, the 23 of July we will conduct a ceremony " A Day of Honor and remembrance " for the fallen service members of Polk County Winter Haven Fl with the 3rd LAR Delta Co Fallen.

We will also be hosting The “Moving Tribute Memorial Wall" Some Gave All Inc from Friday July 22 to Sunday July 24,2011. The public is invited. Following the ceremony, we will also provide a cookout. We are affiliated with the
VFW Post 4289; in fact the event is already in their website. Your presence will be a great honor to us. There will be Marines that will attend, in fact Richard Reed already committed himself and a Paris Island DI to join us. Let us know if you will be able to come if it will be conflict on your schedule we can understand. Keep in touch and take the very best of care.
Love in Christ,
Jack & Marie Williams "

There is contact information for reservations on the VFW Website, and the Williams family have a memorial page that is a good place to leave memories and communicate with them: Sgt Christian B. Williams Guestbook at Legacy.com.

To learn more about Chris's story, here are links to the series of posts about the 3rd LAR's 2006 Iraq deployment, and the men who gave their lives for us there:
Part I Introduction
Part II Body Armor Saves Lives
Part III Greater Love Has No Man: 4 killed by Bomb
Part IV The Whole Universe: 3 killed by IED, 1 killed by IED
Part V Apprendix: Links to articles about these men & the 2nd Platoon

Photo: Sgt Christian B Williams on "turret Watch", a dangerous job he often took on voluntarily to give his comrades relief from the task.

Ethan Duncan Arguello
Sgt Ethan D. Arguello

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Our Own Asaparagus: A Perennial Green Vegetable

I love perennials. I especially LUV perennials that provide food: fruit trees, pecan trees, berry canes, grape vines, hipping roses, herbs.... and now, at long last, asparagus.

We planted the "crowns" (or in layman's terms "roots") two years ago. I bought them at Womack Nursery in De Leon, Texas: a small nursery specializing in local varieties of nuts, fruits and a few other things. They made their name with pecan trees & grape vines, and have expanded somewhat in recent years. I understand that asparagus grows wild in some parts of the country, but not down here, so we have to plant our own. In Texas generally, and our area specifically, it's critical to buy as close to home as possible to be certain plants can adapt to our curious micro-climates and nuanced soils.

So, we planted these along the back fence in the alley, and "they say" to wait until the third year to begin harvesting. We put 70 crowns in the ground, hoping that half would survive, and about 40 did. Probably more would have established if we had looked after them more carefully. Due to a combination of factors, they went untended for long stretches, including being completely abandoned for months shortly after planting, and going unwatered most of last year. But they are little troopers, and kept on sending up shoots and making fronds.

The spears in the photo are the beginning of our second batch. Have to check for new shoots every day (or they turn into ferns like those in the previous post) and will add them to the green bag until the weekend. Then we will have grilled asparagus for dinner!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Redbud Blossoms on the Table

The Redbud trees are blooming now. Their shocking magenta blossoms cover the branches, visible from far away in their little spots tucked in among the oak and mesquite. Later, after the leaves come on, these little understory trees will melt into the background until their pretty leaves turn yellow in the fall.

Unlike the mesquite trees, redbuds are native here. It's Oklahoma's state tree, and is plentiful in Texas as well, roughly following the "blackjack belt" through the state from east to west. The "blackjack belt" is named for the Blackjack Oak tree - very similar to the Post Oak, with slight differences. Both are small (as the name indicates) deciduous oaks that grow near each other.

The ferns in the vase with the redbud branches are asparagus that got away from me! Less than a week since I checked on the asparagus bed and the first shoots went from invisible to 3 foot tall ferns. This is the first year we can gather shoots since we planted the crowns three years ago so we are looking forward to our own homegrown asparagus.

Redbud blossoms are edible too, in small amounts,and make a pretty addition to salads (well, salad for luncheons. Don't feed it to the kids or they will grow up and tell stories about the weird food you forced on them). My copy of "Texas Trees" also says the young seed pods are also edible sauted in butter for a bit but I have not tried them before. Maybe this year I'll remember to gather some before they have matured, and we'll see if I live to tell the tale. ;-) That is a joke, but it is wise to remember that many wild plants with pea-like leaves and pods are poisonous (some deadly so - see last paragraph of opening article here: Pea Family) , so be certain to verify edibility and confirm identification with experts (& I am not an expert outside my own family) before experimenting with these things.

At any rate, Redbuds make a lovely specimen tree in town too, and are recommended by the Native Plant Society of Texas. With their small size and glossy, heart-shaped leaves all summer, they fit nicely into an ordinary sized yard and require little care. And of course, make very nice bouquets in the Spring: which encourages me to leave the peach blossoms on the tree so they can turn into fruit I KNOW we will eat!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Leader Shows the Way: Sarah Palin goes to Israel

Via Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection (good blog, linked from my sidebar), comes Andrew Sullivan's important points about Sarah Palin's common links with other great women leaders such as Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Elizabeth I, and thoughts on her upcoming visit to Israel (more at Texas for Sarah Palin).

Palin's trip to Israel is vital, and I believe, will in future be seen as a decisive event. She needs no election to serve as an effective ambassador for Americans like me who love Israel, and who hold great hopes for a blossoming future of true liberty for all people in the coming years.

Sarah Palin is in good company with her support for the Jewish homeland:

"Peace for Israel means security, and we must stand with all our might to protect its right to exist, its territorial integrity. I see Israel as one of the great outposts of democracy in the world, and a marvelous example of what can be done, how desert land can be transformed into an oasis of brotherhood and democracy. Peace for Israel means security and that security must be a reality. "
Dr Martin Luther King Jr

"Israel was not created in order to disappear - Israel will endure and flourish. It is the child of hope and the home of the brave. It can neither be broken by adversity nor demoralized by success. It carries the shield of democracy and it honors the sword of freedom."
John F. Kennedy

"Today we should all recommit ourselves to ensuring that the miracle of a Jewish state endures forever."
Sarah Palin, 2010

Sullivan's article at The Atlantic is illustrated with the ill-fated Celtic Queen Boudicca, but the image above is Lady Liberty herself, here depicted in her WWI era garb as the ardent American defender of the Armenians against the 20th Century's first genocide.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

If You Love Paris

Erin Elizabeth, of the blog My Heart Belongs To Me (link from the sidebar as well), recently traveled to France with her sister Neile. Her posts overflow with memorable photos of Paris - can you smell the rain on the avenue, the clementines in the market, the flowers on the vendor's corner, the sugar from the treat shop window?

The "love locks" along the Seine made my heart melt. What a romantic little memento to leave along the way in a love story!

From mossy tombs to modern museums, from french fashion to fresh design, from morning of the day to the lively night, Erin's posts make for a lovely armchair afternoon in the city of light.

we’ll always have paris

paris. day 1.

paris. day 2.

paris. day 3.

paris. day 4.

paris. day 5.

paris. day 6.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mardi Gras in Shreveport!

Pat over at And So it Goes in Shreveport has a great post chronicling upcoming the Mardi Gras Parade - in Shreveport! That's right: just a hop and a skip across the river. And she makes it sound like a great long block party with something for everyone.

Looks like Fat Tuesday has its own special flavor in northern Louisiana - go see for yourself:
"Take a Trip to Shreveport's Mardi Gras"!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The Hyacinths are Blooming! One Blossom's Fragrance Fills a Room

Three years ago, I bought a "mixed bulb garden" assortment from one of the seed catalogs, and planted them in the fall.

The following spring, hyacinths became a part of my life. Oh my! Fragrance as rapturous as honeysuckle, and a single stalk will perfume an entire room for a week or longer.

Easy to buy: hyacinths are inexpensive, and available in most garden catalogs and at your local nurseries for fall planting.

Easy to plant: push a trowel into the ground in the autumn, drop in a hyacinth bulb and cover it over. Easy to care for: let them die back when they have finished blooming, then mow or water or fertilize whatever plants or grass cover the area the rest of the year.

Easy to enjoy: A superb cut flower, they will be beautiful and fragrant for seven to 14 days after cutting. Cheerful colors of red, white and beautiful blue are my favorites. Once a bloom stalk has opened most of its florets, cut the stalk, pop into a vase of water, and enjoy the heady perfume.

You can even force hyacinths, and stretch the season longer by chilling them in the fridge and putting the bulb in a container where the root end will sit on water - or a special "hyacinth vase". I haven't tried this yet but I think I will save a couple of bulbs this fall and try it. This website, www.kennemerend.nl/bollenglazen/ , has great photos of hyacinth vases, including antique ones. They remind me somewhat of a carafe: a sort of bottle shape, with a small neck and a top rim that widens to provide a reservoir in which the bulb sits. I've seen those odd shaped glass containers from time to time but never knew what they were for.

There's no need for any air freshener, potpourri or scented candles while you have hyacinths blooming. Because the fragrance is fully natural, the nose never ignores it, so the lovely scent catches my attention frequently each day.

I even carry the vase in & put it on the bedside table each evening, falling asleep to the fragrance of hyacinths. It joins the bird songs as one of the first things I become aware of when I wake in the morning.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

"The Wisdom of Palin": Common Sense Leads to Firm Ground

Courtesy of Texas for Sarah Palin, comes a compelling excerpt. Here's just a hint:

"Over the course of the last couple years, Sarah Palin has written or spoken on just about every matter facing us as a nation, and in each of these, reveals that her choice, is the simple, common sense one. There's no need of complex policy papers, or "complex, theoretically driven schemes" to solve any of them....."

Go see the rest. Then read the complete article "The Wisdom of Palin" by weholdthesetruths.

This paragraph points out the consistency of Sarah Palin's approach to governance. Sarah's responses to questions, events and solutions are grounded in the solid bedrock of American Ingenuity, American Optimism, and premised on protecting those fundamental tenets of American Exceptionalism: the God-given rights of every person to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

This consistency is filled with common sense that allows her to focus on next steps and adjust her stride at any point to account for the unexpected without being thrown off course. Because her center of gravity is secure, we can be confident in her balance. And we, the ordinary sharp smart adaptable People Yes, can follow her with ease - because her path is our own natural route.

Not everyone is capable of seeing where she is going, though. Those who can't generate their policy on yesterday's events until they get today's poll results aren't able to predict Sarah. They keep trying to reclaim the past, while she sets her course for Tomorrow. Her feet are on solid ground. But they've chosen to stand on sifting sand.


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