Happy Birthday, Connie

ConnieToday is my sister’s birthday. The only celebration of the event, however, will be in our thoughts. There will be tears shed, too, even though she has been gone now for almost 16 years. There will be tears of sadness, tears of pity — for ourselves and how much we’ve missed by not having her here. There will be tears of laughter as we imagine what she’d have to say if she were here, fussing over her birthday cake, opening gifts, chatting about the events of the day. One of her favorite sayings was that retro 60’s slogan: “Never trust anyone over 30.” At 36, she wouldn’t be able to trust herself and she’d be the first to get a kick out of that.

Now, we mostly imagine her chuckling as we make comments like: “Wouldn’t Connie just love that? Look, another Star Wars movie! Did you see the Lego movie on YouTube video with the…”

I’m sure what she’s enjoying now makes the best this world can offer pale into stupidity. I’m glad she’s safe. I’m so grateful she’s happy. I know she’s waiting for us. And that makes it all bearable.

Most days.

Happy Birthday, Connie.


Ay Ton’!

TonyAbout a year ago, our cockatiel, Data, died after having been with us over twenty years. Data literally delivered himself, flying out of the sky and landing on my sister’s head and refusing to leave. Although pushy about being invited in, he was the perfect house companion: he loved to be petted and danced to rock and country alike — except for Willie Nelson. For some odd reason, just saying “Willie Nelson” in his presence would set off a fit of screeching. ::shrug:: To each his own, I suppose.

Data’s death left a surprisingly large hole for such a small critter, but Sunday, my brother and his wife brought my mom a new cockatiel. Being the quintessential Sopranos fan, Mom promptly dubbed the youngster Tony. Since his arrival, Tony has been socializing and singing like a… well, like a cockatiel. Mom might as well be Dr. Melfi. Thank God, there are no Feds in the house. Sorry, DJ.

Welcome to your new home, Tony. We’re glad to have you in the family.

My Family Honor Roll

I will be working this Memorial Day. In my industry, it is not a holiday, but merely another day to sell a product. Such is life, but that doesn’t make it right, does it?

Anywho. I’m an avid genealogist and thinking about memorials always reminds me of the remarkable people I have found through my research. So this year, my memorial tribute will be in honor of the soldiers in my own family tree. The following list covers my family only back to 1776 and includes only those I have confirmed to have served in the military. The list also includes two living individuals who I will refer to only by initials to protect their privacy.

My Family Roll of Honor:

CDH – US Army, Vietnam
LEM – US Air Force
Robert Reed Baker – PFC US Marine Corp, World War II
Lonnie Ruble Markham – PFC US Army, World War II
Joseph N Slatton – Confederate Marines, Civil War, POW
John Westley Blakely – Arkansas Infantry, Civil War
John Wiseman Levillian – Arkansas Infantry, Civil War
Michael Sterling McGuire Levillian – Arkansas Infantry, Civil War, KIA
Charles M Markum – PFC Tennessee Calvary, Civil War
William M Ramer – North Carolina Infantry, Civil War
John Wesley Ramer – Tennesse Army, Civil War, WIA
Richmond Sullins – Pvt. Mounted Infantry, Union Army, Civil War
Adam Moore Self – War of Texas Independence
Thomas Ware – War of Texas Independence
Melchezedec Self – Tennessee Militia, War of 1812
John H Blakely – Pvt. South Carolina Militia, War of 1812
Michael Levillian – Sgt. Louisiana Militia, War of 1812
Jacob Williams – Pvt. North Carolina Militia, War of 1812
John Blakely – Pvt South Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
Giles Powers – Pvt South Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
George Slatton – North Carolina Infantry, Revolutionary War
John Williams – Lt. North Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
Bedreadon Carraway – Pvt. North Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
George Oliver – North Carolina Infantry, Revolutionary War
John Garrett Ware – Georgia Militia, Revolutionary War
Robert Jemison – Capt. Continental Army, Revolutionary War
Matthias Heinrick Bollinger – Georgia, Revolutionary War, KIA
Charles Carl Springer – PFC, Delaware Militia, Revolutionary War
Philip Philemon Prather – Pvt. Contintial Army, Revolutionary War
John Haas – Pennsylvania Militia, Revolutionary War
Henry Ware – Lt. Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
William Blair – Massachusetts Militia, Revolutionary War
Israel Hobart – held in an internment camp as a suspected Loyalist, Revolutionary War
Michael Lorenz – defected from the British Army and joined the North Carolina Militia, Revolutionary War
Daniel B Ward – supplier for Layfayette’s soldiers, Revolutionary War

DB Ward’s assistance as a supplier (of beef) for Continental allies gives him revolutionary status. Considering more than one on this list were killed by their Loyalist neighbors for far less participation in the Continental cause, selling his cattle to the Continental Congress would have certainly made him as fair a target as any soldier.

I’m proud of all my ancestors. They were tough people who lived through tough times, most with great grace. And while Memorial Day has been set aside to honor our military, we would do well to remember, also, those who fight other battles just as fiercely: firefighters, law enforcement, EMTs, border agents (who are being kidnapped and killed by drug and human traffickers here in Texas).

The families of those who serve are equally important, supplying the personal support we cannot: spouses, children, parents and siblings.

My salute, hand to my heart, to all of them, living and past, who have made this country the finest on earth.

Thank you.


“Patience has its limits. Take it too far, and it’s cowardice.” – George Jackson

photo courtesy of crazyemt

Ashley’s Nicholas 1996-2008

We had to put our little Sheltie down this morning. Age had caught up with him and he suffered acute kidney failure despite all efforts to save him.

We’ve been blessed all our lives with some of the best pets we could ever hope to find: good companions all, each with their own marvelous personalities. But I can honestly say, Nicky was the finest dog we have ever had the privilege to know.

He was a true gentleman, fiercely protective but never unkind; responsive and accepting, never demanding, forever sympathetic to what was surely the bewildering drama of our lives and those of the other pets he lived with.

He will be deeply and truly missed.


“I miss the wagging little tail;
I miss the plaintive, pleading wail;
I miss the wistful loving glance;
I miss the circling welcome dance.”
– Henry Willet