Monday, May 26, 2014

Monday Morning Grandma: Memorial Day

Today is Memorial Day. It’s time to think about our military men and women and their sacrifice to make/keep us free. I only know of 4 vets on my family tree, but I’m sure there are more.

James Hakes born 15 May 1754. He fought in the Revolutionary War in Capt. Martin’s Co., of Col. Sippitt’s Regt. which was raised Jan. 18, 1776 for one year. They were induced to continue 30 days longer, and were at Trenton and Princeton, NJ. Later in the war General George Washington visited his home in Renesselaer County, NY. (I know I get the “George Washington Slept here” comments you must be thinking.) He also fought in the War of 1812. My great-great grandfather was Weeden Vander Hakes James’ 13th child.

Mom had the sword her grandfather used in the Civil War, but I’m not sure which grandfather, or even which side he fought on. They lived in Missouri, and in that part of the state, it depended on who was coming through town that drafted the men. I couldn’t find anything specific when I looked. I haven’t checked for many years, so they probably have more information now. I wish I knew who has that sword now.

If my printer/scanner wasn’t so ancient, and not compatible with my old computer in spite of my son-in-law’s best efforts, I’d scan in a picture of my late Uncle Johnny, and one of my late brother-in-law Donald Venne.

Uncle Johnny fought in World War II from 1940-1945. He was an officer, but I don’t know what he did. I wish I had asked while he was alive. Mom probably would have known something about her brother’s service, but I didn’t ask her either. He must have spent some time sitting around because he crocheted. We had the tablecloth he made during the war for Mom. We used it for all special occasions from the time I can remember. I inherited it, and used it for a few years, but as cotton thread will, it eventually fell apart.

My sister had the audacity to marry my elementary school principal, Donald Leo Venne. I didn’t know until he passed away that he was a gunner in a B52 bomber during World War II. He flew a near record 40 + missions. His missions were not dropping bombs, but pamphlets, money, & food in Germany and elsewhere.

Come on people, ASK ABOUT YOUR ANCESTORS. I know I’m shouting again. I’ll try not to make it a habit, but how I wish I had more information on these brave men. My father was too young for World War I, and too old for World War II. He spent the war years (WW II) as a contractor for the US government, but that’s for another day.

Monday, May 19, 2014


I strongly dislike fires. Always have. When I was 8 or 9, my mother decided it was high time I struck a match. I sat crying by the fireplace for a long, long time afraid to light the fire in the fireplace. I liked to sit by the fire, didn’t want to strike that match. After that first one, I didn’t have problems the next time.

I grew up in the mountains where sirens meant fires. I never had to evacuate, but we were packed up a few times in the ‘50’s. For years after, I went through what I now recognize as mini-panic attacks until the sound faded. My heart raced. I wanted to run and freeze in place at the same time. That stopped when I moved to the big city where I heard sirens all the time. We’ve had some big ones in San Diego County in the last 9 years.

Skipping forward to those years: In 2003, we self-evacuated because we lived a couple of blocks south of the road everyone north of was to evacuate, and were about the same distance west of the street people east of were to evacuate. (Okay, I know that sentence is awkward.) Those two roads were the only way out due to a hill behind us.

In 2007, we were in Thailand and had sketchy information at best. That was harder. No matter what the natural disaster threat is, HAVE AN OUT OF STATE CONTACT PERSON. Yes, I’m shouting. Our son that lived in another state, gathered information and kept us updated on who was where. All were safe.

Last week, we once again self-evacuated. It turned out to be the smallest fire, only 1 acre, but every one of the 9, um, er, 10 fires (a new one started a day later) started out at 1 acre. One of our sons helped my husband pack up the RV because I was babysitting for one of our daughters. By the time I joined Dan at our eldest daughter’s house, the Coco’s Fire had just started a few miles from her house.

We watched it for awhile as it got bigger and closer then loaded up her vehicle, and went back to the house where I had just been. (The Santa Anna wind had blown the other daughter’s fence over the day before.)

By that time our fire was a non-issue so we left for home, but didn’t unpack until the next day.

It was a little disconcerting to see 6-8 fire trucks lined up on the main road to our house. I wondered if they knew about a new fire in the area. I didn’t see any smoke. Obviously that wasn’t the answer. I still don’t know.

Our eldest daughter returned to her home the next morning.

I think I’ll bake the fire fighters near our house a batch of peanut butter cookies or a loaf of bread today. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Monday Morning Grandma--Mother's Day

Yesterday was Mother’s Day. We all heard the glowing stories about mothers. I decided to have a different random take on motherhood and that special day.

I won’t say much about my mother except to say I don’t know how she handled all she had to go through. She did her best, and who can ask for more? See the first post in January for some thoughts on my mother.

As mothers, we sacrifice for our children, but some mothers take that too far. You read that right. Christ taught us to sacrifice, but He didn’t teach us to allow others to tromp on us. He was humble, but never a rug under other’s feet. He knew who He was, the Son of God, the Savior our Redeemer. We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who deserve love, respect, and gifts.

He took time for Himself. How often in the New Testament did his followers look for him to find him in the mountains alone? He took time to rest. Remember when his disciples woke him up during the storm? He allowed the woman to use the expensive ointment on Him.

I’ve known women who wouldn’t allow their children to serve them. What blessings they take away from their children. How devastating it is for that child who wants to make their mother happy. When it’s time to receive their eternal reward will they tell the Lord they won’t accept it?

It doesn’t matter if we are mothers in the sense of bearing and raising children or not. All women can show kindness and aide to children. All can teach children whether in a formal setting like a classroom at church, school, or a craft event, or simply by listening to them, and treating them with kindness and respect.

There are those who would abolish Mother’s Day because it is painful for some. That is true. It is. Life has painful experiences we all go through. Be aware and sensitive, but to diminish mothers because some can’t have children, have lost children, or for whatever reason, doesn’t make their difficult situation go away.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

Monday Morning Grandma--Weaknesses Can Become Strengths

Weaknesses can become strengths. One example is my wild and wooly hair.

Not that hair is all that big of a deal in life, but it is important to appearance, and right or wrong we are judged on appearance.

This isn’t a post just about my hair, but the bigger picture. We all have weaknesses that can become strengths with the Lord’s help.

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin and had little formal education. He had deep faith in God. He educated himself, and eventually rose to be the president of the United States. It isn’t what we’re born with nor is it the hand we’re dealt, but through trial and error, hard work, and reliance on the Lord, we can overcome or work around obstacles.

Sometimes we need to quit fighting, and look for another way to accomplish goals. We have great athletes that need artificial limbs. People dance in wheelchairs. Some things we cannot do ourselves and we need to be humble and ask for help. I don’t remember the details, but one young woman that was wheelchair bound got to the top of a mountain with the help of her friends who carried her.

I could go on and on, but you don’t want a novel, just a blog post.

Back to my hair: Over the years I tried to control my hair into smooth hairstyles with curlers, hot rollers, curling irons, and hair spray. These methods would provide control for a few hours, but eventually my hair would look messy. My older brother hardly ever saw me, even as an adult, without saying, “Donna Bee, go comb your hair.”

Then, one day by following the advice of one of my daughters, I decided to work with my hair instead of fighting against it. By using the right product, I have a hairstyle that is muss free. I can lie down and take a nap walk through mild wind, even light rain doesn’t cause problems. Is it the style I would choose if I could go through a hairstyle book and pick anything I want? No. But it works for me.

By trying different a different path, I have gone from “Donna Bee go comb your hair.” To strangers stopping me on the street or in stores and saying, “You have beautiful hair.”