Tuesday, November 12, 2013


As most of you know my husband is a Vietnam vet and I am very proud of that.  He enlisted, he was not drafted, nor did he run off to Canada.  Instead he chose to go into the army and fight for our freedom and the freedom of others when it was not a popular thing to do.

I didn’t meet him until he’d been home from Nam for almost a year, for that I am thankful too.  I don’t know that I could have bore the stress so many of our nation’s families bear now when their military spouses are in war zones.

I met my husband 41 years ago this month and we wed the following spring.  He seldom speaks of Nam and when he does it’s just briefly.  I’m still learning after all these years what he did there and how it shaped the man I know and love today.

For years he didn’t stand up when different organizations saluted the vets, because he came home during the “baby killer” era.  He was told to NOT wear his uniform on leave to avoid trouble and that stuck with him for years. Things changed a few years ago and now he proudly wears clothing designating him as a vet and stands up when saluted for his service.

Until this year we have never taken advantage of the free meals for vets offered by so many restaurants.  Oh occasionally we’ve picked up a fast food sandwich offered for free to a vet, through the drive-thru, but we’ve never gone into a restaurant for the free meal.

This year I convinced him to take advantage of the meal offered at Golden Corral.  I am glad I did, because it affected both of us greatly.  I want to thank Golden Corral, the Disabled Veterans of America and Gary Sinise for making the opportunity possible.
I know that sounds strange that a free meal can impact your life and make you think hard about what it represents, but it did.

We almost didn’t go because we knew it would be crowded and neither of us is big on crowds, but we did go.

When we were got there the double line reached out both doors and we almost left as the wind had started to turn chilly and neither of us had a jacket on.  But then a man came up to us and asked if Gary was a vet, as another offered us our choice of cookies from a platter.  

My husband nodded quietly, and the man placed a sticker on his chest and said “thank you for your service, enjoy your meal, you earned it and much more.”

The sticker read simply “I served” That said a lot in those two words.  As we stood in line we looked around to see men and women of all ages and all conditions of health.  Some were minus limbs, others in leg braces, a few on ECV’s and some just had a totally lost look on their faces.

Once we got into the atrium of the restaurant I could hear the background music playing on the P.A. system and soon realized it was a combination of military salute music and music from each era of the various veterans that were there.  I smiled when “White Rabbit” played.  

A quiet announcement told us that all the servers were NOT being paid for waiting on our tables today that they had all volunteered their service in an effort to say thank you to those that helped them maintain their freedom.  There was no asking for a donation or tip for the servers, but I noticed that every vet, including us, left a tip for the servers as we left.

When one vet walked by with a service dog no one objected to the dog being there and a small child in front of me said “puppy Daddy” as it went by.  His young veteran father replied—“son that dog is a soldier, helping another soldier.”

Something about that words, and looking around at all the brave men and women from wars from WWII forward made tears well in my eyes. 

These were the people who had fought in one way or another to give us as a nation the right to have all we have and to strive for more if that is what we want.

When we reached the register my husband was again thanked for his service and a greeter took us to a seat among other Vietnam vets.

As we went through the buffet line I realized that my husband’s age and that our era, the Baby Boomers, were the largest represented and while we were almost entirely surrounded by those that proudly wore hats, pins, leather motorcycle vests stating they served in Viet Nam the older and younger vets were sprinkled in, but far fewer in number.

Was it because only our generation was ready to be saluted in such a manner?  Or has our patriotism taken a hit?  I pray it’s the former and not the latter.  I hold out hope for our younger generation, after all like the young man said “ a soldier, helping another soldier.”

During the meal my husband grew quiet as he watched groups of vets that knew each other meet up and hug each other.  He later told me it made him, like it made me, realize how many of our friends didn’t come home, or who have since died from wounds and Agent Orange from the war.  It was a bittersweet moment, knowing that these fine men and women had served and survived to inspire future generations, like the young soldier holding his toddler son and telling him the dog was a soldier, helping another soldier.
Veterans Day is over for this year, but many soldiers still need our support and gratitude every day of the year.  Let’s not forget how important their service is to all of us as a nation.

Jan who is VERY proud to be the wife of a Vietnam vet in OK

Monday, November 4, 2013


One of the many things I remember from my childhood is every spring my parents would load up in the car and spend a day driving around certain parts of Oklahoma doing the Dogwood Tour”.  I don’t remember where they actually went but I remember it was south and in the hillier regions of Oklahoma.  I need to check into that.  I just remember they looked forward to the beauty of the trees in bloom.

Then again in the fall they’d head back to those same regions for a fall foliage tour. I hadn’t really thought of that until a month or so ago we received our copy of the October 2013 issue of Life’s Vintage Newsmagazine.  A free publication we receive from Life Senior Services.  

There were two good articles in the newsmagazine that talked about “Leaf Peeping and Fall Travel”. One was called Fall’s Fiery Colors in which Oxley Nature Center’s Eddie Reese explains why the various colors and has suggestions for the peak viewing times. 
While I knew the basics of how the change in chlorophyll works I found two things in the article very helpful.  One was a list of the common deciduous trees and what color they would be in the fall.  

Quoting from the article which gives its sources as Better Homes and Gardens and the OSU extension center.
AMUR MAPLE: bright red
BALD CYPRESS: reddish –brown
BURNING BUSH: red and pink
Chinese Pistache: orange-red
Common Hackberry: occasional yellow fall color
Dogwood: purple-red
Ginko: golden yellow
Golden Raintree: occasional yellow color
Japanese Maple: red, yellow and orange
Lacebark Elm: yellow with red fruit
Redbud: occasional yellow color
River Birch: yellow
Possumhaw: red fruit
Serviceberry: orange and red
Shumard Oak: reddish yellow
Smokebush: orange and pink
Stewartia: red, yellow and orange
Sugar Maple: red, yellow and orange
Sumac: bright red
Sweet Birch: golden Yellow
Sweetgum: yellow, orange, red and purple
Viburnum: red
Witch Hazel: golden yellow.

The other was tips on photography of fall colors. 
After I finished reading that article I went on to read suggested routes to see the best foliage in OK this time of year.

Since our part of OK had a fairly wet summer my husband and I planned a fall foliage tour of our own.  We took it this last Saturday.  While we didn’t get to spend near the time we wanted to travel a complete route suggested in the article we did drive down to Gore first going down I-40 and then getting off at Checotah, home of Carrie Underwood, to get on the back roads to drive toward goal.

I’ll admit the first part of our trip we thought we had decided to make the trip maybe a week too early.  Many of the trees were just starting to turn, but many things would keep us from going a week later. 

Before we hit I-40 we decided to make it a true vacation day.  Usually when doing such trips we will pack a picnic lunch so as to not spend extra on food, but we were both feeling fairly mellow and decided we would eat out all day.

Therefore, our first stop was at Massey‘s BBQ in Okmulgee, OK.  This is one of our favorite places to eat.  We’ve been Massey’s customers since he had the small trailer that he served lunch out of just certain days of the week on the corner of where his restaurant now stands.  
Located right on highway 75 as you enter Okmulgee from the north on the west side of the highway you can’t miss the red and white building.  He opens at 11:00 am Monday through Saturday, but is “closed on Sundays to observe the Lord’s day” to quote the owner.  

The prices are reasonable for bbq and the food is divine.  We both had the Big D special ground pork sandwiches a small for me and a large for my husband.   The special includes one side and a soft drink.  I went for the deep fried corn nuggets which were sweet perfectly fried and delicious.  My husband chose the baked beans and we shared with each other.  The meal that ran roughly $14 for the two of us filled us both beyond full. 

Once we had filled us up, we fueled up the truck and headed toward Gore, via Checotah as I have already said.  

As we left Checotah and wound our way around the two lane back roads more and more color slowly appeared and often we found ourselves driving through colorful tree tunnels.  
We became so relaxed as we drove and chatted we neglected to ever take out even one of the two cameras we had brought with us.  The photo on this blog is one taken here on our place many years ago, but it is a prime example of the type of foliage we saw as we drove.
As we drove through the small towns and wound our way around LakeTenkiller we took notice of various things, like Gore being the Trout Fishing Capitol of Oklahoma, the old cemeteries, the large farm equipment harvesting the last of crops, or in some cases already preparing the land for the cover crops of winter.  
As we came into Tahlequah, OK we were surprised by the sight of the Greenleaf Nursery.  This vast expansion of plastic hoophouses  spreading for a great distance would make any avid gardener envious.  
At Tahlequah we stopped for a $1 hot fudge sundae at McDonald’s and decided that instead of winding further away from home we’d loop around the other side of Tenkiller Lake and head on toward home because it was already after 3:00 pm.  
Glimpses of the lake framed by a quilt of brilliant leaves of every color were awe inspiring.  We were so busy watching the colorful trees roll by that we were both first startled and then wished we had stopped to take a picture of a beaver standing upright beside the road waving at us as we went by, or maybe he was trying to hitch a ride, I’m not certain which.  He was certainly a cute fellow.
He was not the only wildlife we saw on our drive.  The buzzards were everywhere, swooping on the wind currents, as were the large hawks of winter and the “smoke clouds” of small birds that fly so close together they look like waves of smoke as the swirl through the sky. 
We caught sight of a couple of deer as well as deer hunters donning their brilliant colored vests just before twilight.  
We had originally thought to visit the Cherokee Village in Tahlequah and some other sites, but as we drove we had time to catch up with each other, relax, talk, and plan.  There was no need for any other entertainment. We were in fact a little reluctant to go home.  
But hunger was starting to set in by the time we reached our farm to pick up my son and head for Chili’s for dinner.  It was after all a vacation day.  
After lingering a long time over dinner discussing all we had seen with our son we headed for home pleasantly tired and very relaxed. We felt that the less than $100 we had spent on fuel and food for the day was well worth it. Who said you need to have a rush around entertainment filled day to have a vacation.
We both now understood my parents love for the fall foliage tours and are now considering that a Dogwood Tour may be in our future this next spring.
Jan who says take a day to get reacquainted with your spouse and take a drive in the country in OK.