Grasshopper Mind

Memorial Day follow up

MAY 27, 2023

Upon receiving my Memorial Day Grasshopper post, I received this from a retired Marine.  I thought it worth sharing:


Memorial Day is nearly on us. . . .  Let us not forget the reason it is memorialized.


About six miles from Maastricht, in the Netherlands, lie buried 8,301 American soldiers who died in "Operation Market Garden" the battle to liberate Holland in the fall and winter of 1944.

Every one of the men buried in the cemetery, as well as those in the Canadian and British military cemeteries, has been adopted by a Dutch family who mind the grave, decorate it, and keep alive the memory of the soldier they have adopted. It is even the custom to keep a portrait of "their" American soldier in a place of honor in their home. Annually, on "Liberation Day," memorial services are held for, "The men who died to liberate Holland." The day concludes with a concert. The final piece to be played is always "Il Silenzio," a memorial piece commissioned by the Dutch and first played in 1965 on the 20th anniversary of Holland's liberation. It has been the concluding piece of the memorial concert ever since.


This year is 2014 and  the soloist is a 13-year-old Dutch girl, Melissa Venema, backed by André Rieu and his orchestra (The Royal Orchestra of the Netherlands). This beautiful concert piece is based upon the original version of the melody "Taps," and the piece was composed by Italian composer Nino Rossi...


Where are some those  we remember - from WWII:

 1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France... total of 2289

2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium...  total of 5329

3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France...  total of 4410

4. Brookwood, England - American Cemetery...  total of 468 

5. Cambridge, England...  total of 3812 

6. Epinal, France - American Cemetery...  total of 5525 

7. Flanders Field, Belgium...  total of 368 

8. Florence, Italy...  total of 4402 

9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium... total of 7992 

10. Lorraine , France... A total of 10,489 

11. Luxembourg, Luxembourg... total of 5076 

12. Meuse-Argonne... total of 14246 

13. Netherlands, Netherlands...  total of 8301 

14. Normandy, France...  total of 9387 

15. Oise-Aisne, France... total of 6012 

16. Rhone, France.. total of 861 

17. Sicily, Italy... total of 7861 

18. Somme, France... total of 1844 

19. St. Mihiel, France... total of 4153 

20. Suresnes, France... total of 1541 


A total of 104,366 dead, brave Americans.


Please remind people of our nation's sacrifice and tell them not to confuse arrogance with leadership.


             SEMPER FIDELIS


MAY 27, 2023

This is Memorial Day weekend.  It's not really a Celebration. It is a day to REMEMBER. We remember those who have given their lives in sevice to our country.

I try not to be a killjoy, but I find it difficult to wish anyone a "Happy Memorial Day.  I cringe at the words Memorial Day SALE. My lips purse when I see..."It's Memorial Day. The beginning of Summer."

In my seemingly old-fashioned world, picnics are good.  Family gatherings  outstanding.  Patriotic music uplifting.  Flying or planting the flag respectful.  Whatever says  we are gathered here today to remember is appreciated..

Memorial Day asks us to remember those who served this country in all wars.  Some went by choice.  Some were conscripted. They all went. The numbers who did not return are far too many.  The names we must never forget.

So, thank you Stan, Leslie, Thomas, and your thousands of brothers and sisters.  We owe you a debt we can never repay.

God Bless America.

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MAY 15, 2023

We just celebrated Mother's day. Mine was wonderful.  Like most, I think every day is Mother's day.

Whether your mother is still keeping you on your toes, or is no longer physically here, we all remember mom-isms.

You know - the comments we thought so annoying and absurd.  Now we look back and think how clever, how wise, how memorable.  Some examples from my youth still bring a smile.

Hearing one of us complain: And she just talked and talked on and on. Mother's quiet response: And, of course YOU just listened.

Asking mother to bring something to us: What did your last maid die from? 

Or sometimes: What? You have a broken leg? Get it yourself.

Worrying about a pain we perceived as a potentially dreadful disease: Only the good die young, you have nothing to worry about, Joan.

Imitating someone with a physical challenge:  Stop. God bless the mark.  In other words, you are wishing this affliction on yourself if you do not stop. We stopped.

We say I'm bored. She says: Life is boring only to boring people.  Make yourself useful.

And on went the home grown from the heart responses.


Never preaching, never raising her voice, never threatening.  Always a lesson to ponder - even if the pondering came years later.

Now I pass these on to my children and grandchildren.  Funny thing.  They look at me the same way I looked at my mother.  You know behind the rolling eyes they are thinking ' this woman is weird.'

And I'm thinking - just wait.

So, thanks Mom; you live on.  


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MAY 7, 2023

The coronation of 74-year old King Charles III on May 6 brought back memories for me.  I watched in the comfort of my home, tea and crumpets

deliciously at hand.  My television is not very large, but I did get to enjoy the pomp and circumstance in living color.  I could hear the

mixture of accents, see close-ups of the new King and Queen, as well as relive the rituals as they unfolded.   I felt extra special with my perfect viewing seat.

No one does pageantry as well as the British.  I loved it.


Rewind 70 years to June 2, 1953; and the coronation of 25 year old Queen Elizabeth II.  I watched the ceremony from the sidewalk in Chicago.

I'd moved to that city from England the previous year at the age of 19.  Along with a small crowd, I was looking through the window of a store on Michigan Avenue.  

The store had a small black and white television, screen toward the street.  We couldn't hear, but not many of us had televisions - so just seeing was exciting.


Queen Elizabeth's coronation was very different.  Much more simple.  Great Britain was still recovering from WWII, which ended in May 1945. 

 It was a warm and beautiful ceremony; and given the times most British 'commoners' still thought it quite lavish.


Elizabeth had been Queen since her father died in February 1951 and the people loved her.  Despite rain and rubble they came out by the thousands.

She pledged her life and loyalty to her people, and never let them down.


Charles has been tutored well.  As one journalist noted, he has had the longest apprenticeship in history.  Let's hope we will see a 'like mother, like son'

leader.  One who will make necessary changes - and, as he finally comes into his own - make his MOM and his country proud.


God Save The King.


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MAGNIFYING the little things

APRIL 28, 2023

During a friends get-togther one of our group announced, 'I just received the best advice for reducing wrinkles.'  Rapt attenton for this magic formula.  She smiled and said 'throw away the magnifying glass.'  Heads nodded in agreement. We are all at an age where, without help, wrinkles are part of our lives.  But, hey, why make them bigger, deeper and more important than they are?  


The same advice applies to so many things we worry about.  Going on a trip, we worry - the boat will sink, we'll get detained at the airport, we'll get food poisoning, our luggage will get lost.  We dig into these worries. We can't let them go.  And so they expand. They exhaust our happy anticipation. Murphy's Law keeps jangling in our ears.  


It seems most humans are hard-wired to worry.  We're really good at it.  It takes its toll.  How do we stop or slow down the worry-wart syndrome? How do we stop magnifying the blips and blemishes in our lives?  Two things I learned that have stuck. One is a rhyme: Never worry worry 'til worry worries you - it only doubles worry and worries others too."  In other words, don't go looking for problems. The other is trust - trust that short of a rare catastrophy, we can handle most adversities that come our way. And trust the law of averages - most of the things we worry about never come to pass.


Mark Twain, an admitted worrier,  told us in his later years : "I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.  Worrying is like payng a debt you didn't owe.  I spent most of my life worrying about things that never happened."


Magnifying glass or eraser? Both work, depending on how they are used.


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APRIL 22, 2023

Remember when we took our kids driving, or perhaps some of you were the kids?  We'd see people rocking on the porch. Their yards, spread

out like a gruesome canvas littered with junk.   Wide-eyed, the kids would ask - how can they sit 

there when there's so much to clean up? 


The answer from Dad was 'That's all they've ever known. It does not disturb them.'

An interesting observation for our sons who grew up warning each other: "Here comes Mother, look busy."  (If you weren't you would be.)



We'd see trash of every description along the scenic highways.  It was hard, even for kids, to understand how anyone could create such a blight.

Where did all this ugliness come from? It came and still comes from us, the human inhabitants of this beautiful earth.  We are the

only animals that foul our own nests.


Today is the 53rd anniversary of Earth Day. I wonder if, 53 years later, fewer of us are disturbed by the ugliness sprouting up around us? Certainly most of us know better. We echo the cries Something must be done.  We ask who is going to take care of this?  Some of us even ask What can do?  Never has the phrase every little bit helps rung more true.  It's our nest. Our responsibility.  Our opportunity.  Time to get off the rocking chair.  Time to clean up our own act.  No matter how little or how late, anything we do to beautify, improve, and protect our nest -  it helps.


Last time I checked there were 681,000 jobs, with a payroll of $38 billion, devoted to cleaning up our environment.  Hopefully these folks are addressing the big picture.  Like charity, the small but mighty improvements begin at home. 


Every day is Earth Day.  Right now it's all we've got.


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APRIL 5, 2023


My father was a coal miner.  I am no stranger to hard, dangerous, low paying, essential work. He was the dynamite man. His job to blast out the coal face ready for the back breaking manual labor.  His work made life and the economy better.  Yes – it shortened his life. Yes, he was underpaid and underappreciated. Yes, he fought back against the injustices with little success. He was, however, one of the most amazing men – maintaining a sense of humor, spirit, dignity and astounding work ethic and sense of fairness throughout his life.  He had a purpose.


For the past few weeks an injury has forced me to stay put. It’s been interesting. There’s construction in the building. I’ve had time to observe the men and women who make our lives more livable. I was reminded of my father.  He was proud of his work.  He made a difference.


The painters, sheet rock experts, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, window installers, roofers, those who clear up the debris come and go.  A unique parade of diverse skills and people.  They haul equipment, supplies, and usually a lunch box. Their work is essential to our economy. They make life more livable for many. Most are underpaid and underappreciated. They seem to enjoy their work.  There’s comradery. They have a purpose.


We applaud and reward our professional athletes on a grand scale.  Our plumbers and electricians not so much.  Which could we live without?


Perhaps, instead of seeking who will work for the least pay and praise we consider which skills we can and cannot live without. Reward accordingly.  I’m ready to add the home builders, improvement, and maintenance workers to an already long ‘essentials’ list.  Most of their work cannot be done through artificial intelligence.  What they create still takes the human touch of people with a sense of purpose.




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MARCH 2, 2023

Not too long ago, a good friend, known for her calm, warmth, and generosity of spirit reminded me of the power of words.  The right ones at the right time.  Or, sometimes unintentionally, the wrong ones at the wrong time.


My friend had recently lost her husband.  She received many calls, cards, visits, hugs, and much love.  She appreciated all of them.  And yet she said when well-meaning friends asked her ‘how are you doing?’ She said “I wanted to SHOUT – how do you think I’m doing? I just lost the love of my life. Instead,’ she added, “I just say … I’m OK, thank you.”  The fact is, continued my friend – “I am not OK right now.  I feel like a puppet going through the motions in a fast-moving parade.”


Tentatively, I asked what one might say?  Her thoughtful response.  “I’ve enjoyed being with those who just listened. They let me reminisce.  They smiled in the right places.  They would frequently interject, “I’m so sorry.”  Some held my hand.  Others hugged.  Whatever was on my mind and heart, they gave it space to escape.”


No matter the circumstances, the questions we ask, the words we use, are powerful.  They make a difference.  We should choose them carefully.  As my friend gently reminded us, if we are at a loss for the right words - our best choice could be - no words at all.  An understanding nod or smile is a universal language we all recognize.


My current reminder - on my left palm, in wash-off ink, I write ssshh.  


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PS to Memory Box

FEBRUARY 26, 2023

I received quite a few notes from friends saying they were memory boxers - but what to do? Like me they could not dream of parting with these links to loved ones. One, came up with a great suggestion, and I asked permission to share.  Here it is.  Thanks to  Linda M.


Joan ~

What a timely posting!!!


I saved every card/note my "gift" children/grandchildren ever sent my late husband and me.  At one point I asked if they would like to have them back as memories and they said yes. Recently (2 weeks ago) my sister-inlaw died a bit sooner than expected and all the kids/grands/nieces/nephews, etc. came for the funeral. I


packaged the cards by grandchild/family and took them to the gathering after the funeral. They had a great time looking at their writings from when they were small and the photos I included as well. We re-lived trips and great memories with their Granddaddy and with me. It made a sad occasion a bit lighter.


Perhaps some of those you have cards/letters from would enjoy reminiscing with you if you find an occasion to share. That way you get to enjoy the experiences again while you're here to hear the joy those bring!!!


Just a thought from a non-Grasshopper mind


Blessings & joy ~




FEBRUARY 25, 2023

I just attempted the impossible.  Impossible for me, anyway.


The task I set myself today was purging a large box of memories.  The box is filled with Christmas cards, birthday cards, thank you and thinking of you cards, inspiring notes from family and friends.  Determined to be ruthless, I delved into the box at 10 am, expecting to be finished by noon.


It is now 5 pm, and the box contents  do not appear to be dwindling.  What happened?  I had a splendid day reading notes, smiling at cards that included family photos, exclaiming at how each child had changed.


With each card, I recalled special occasions; and what made these people important in my life.   Oh my, how Isabella has grown.  Gosh, that was the best birthday party.  I can't believe Caitlyn is married.  The conversations with myself also included: I need to keep this. How could I destroy such a memory?  I must call Linda.


As I put away my only slightly depleted box of memories, did I waste my day? Not at all.  It was a wonderful day.  Hot tea, McVitie’s digestive biscuits wth marmalade, visualizing my friends and family through the years.  Better than a Hallmark movie.


Reading the messages, and seeing the faces from over the years, reminded me – once again – why staying in touch with family and friends is so important.  They are our greatest treasure.  They remind us where we have been.  And sometimes where we are going.  I have renamed this still bulging assortment of memories - my treasure box


Keep sending those cards and notes.  When this box is full, I will start a new box.  As Dean Martin (young people can Google him) soothingly sang – memories are made of this.


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