A TRIBUTE

GOOD MORNING WORLD

It is a rainy dreary Wednesday outside my window this morning.  It looks cold.  The leaves are falling from the trees.  The color will soon be all on the ground and the branches barren and empty.  If this description were put into a feeling it could easily pass for a feeling of loneliness or despair.   Surely when the leaves are no longer on the trees there is a loss of color.

My world lost some color yesterday when I heard of the graduation of a facebook friend.  How strange that seems.  A stranger I never met became a good friend to me in social media and yesterday cancer won the physical battle though I know the Lord won the spiritual one.  John is in heaven sharing his stories with any who will listen.

When my ‘boyfriend’ arrived home last night he asked what was wrong as I seemed a bit somber.  I told him of John’s death. He complimented me on my compassion for someone I had never met.  I thought about this for a long time all evening and as I was falling asleep.

In the not so recent past much of our communication was done by letters not in person.  We have the letters of note written by famous people Hemingway, TS Eliot, Tolkien, Ronald Reagan or Barrett-Browning.  All these people communicated with letters.   My favorite of all regarding letters is “84 Charing Cross Road” about the relationship with Helene Hanff, a writer living in New York during WWII and FPD the manager of a London book store.  It is a delightful story and they never met yet had the most wonderful friendship sharing their family stories across the ocean.

On the best day this is what facebook can be and was for me with John.  I had no idea who this man was.  He asked me to be his friend.  He told me he liked the way I wrote about political topics.  He told me he thought I was quite clear and thoughtful in my responses to some heated arguments.  I looked him up as best I could and accepted his request to be my friend.  I had no idea who John W. Huffman was except a fellow conservative who voiced candid and clear opinions about political issues.  I discovered that John was an author and the jacket of one of his books listed his historical information.  I had no idea about much of this until this morning when I decided to write this tribute.  See for yourself.

About the Author

John W. Huffman was born 29 November, in Hemphill, Texas, attended elementary school in Pineland, Texas, junior high and high school in Jasper, Texas, and graduated summa cum laude from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He enlisted in the Army Airborne in 1966 and served two tours of combat in Vietnam, the first as a private, and subsequently a sergeant, with A/1/27th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division, in 1966-67, and the second as an officer/aviator with the 120th Aviation Company in 1972-73. He retired as a major in 1986 with three Purple Hearts, three Bronze Stars, sixteen Air Medals, one Army Commendation Medal, two Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Medals, and various other service and campaign ribbons. Upon leaving the Army, John launched a real estate sales and management company, owned and operated seven speedways in five states, created an automobile racing and sanctioning body, and developed three touring series. John has honorable mentions for two short stories, along with his six other novels: A Wayward Wind, a Regional Finalists in the General Fiction category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; The Baron of Clayhill, a Finalist in the 2009 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards Contest and a Finalists in the Popular Fiction category of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Book Awards; Tiger Woman, the First Place Winner in the Action-Adventure category of the 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; Above All, a Finalist in the Action-Adventure category of the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards; America’s Diplomats, The Road To Attleboro, the First Place Winner in the 2011 National Indie Excellence Book Awards, and his recent release, Cold Hearts Burning. John has one other novel awaiting publication, Eyes of the Blind, and is currently working on When A Rebel Comes Home. John resides in the Blue Ridge mountains of North Carolina, with his wife Misty, and has three sons and four granddaughters.

I think I got to know, over the course of our friendship on facebook, more of the man than is listed above.   Those are the things he did. We who were his facebook friends got to know what he thought and felt.  He had over 3000 friends on facebook with 200+ following him regularly.  He was a rabid conservative willing to take on the most left leaning liberal out there with carefully placed nuanced words.  He was sharp, clever, kind ever ready with a joke or verbal smile.

He was supportive.  I told him I was writing a book .  I asked if he ever previewed first time authors. He sent me an email and said send it along.  Sadly I never sent it as I would have valued his opinion.

He loved his wife Misty, his Bride as he called her.  He would speak of her sweetly and lovingly.  He loved his granddaughters – his Princesses.  His page was filled with pictures of their visits.

He loved his home The Eagles Nest.  It sounded like a small farm as he described planting, harvesting and storing vegetables, cracking bags of black walnuts and cutting wood for the winter.  Not sure he ever stopped until cancer grabbed him and took him quickly.

He was very proud of his service in the military and his friends from that time.  Lots more pictures of all of these people were on his page as well.

I am certain the man we all knew on facebook had unhappiness in his life as we all do.  It was not evident from his posts.  He greeted everyday with joy that would sometimes help my down mood evaporate.  If he was anything other than kind it did not show up on facebook.  Nor does it now.

His loving Bride posted that she was with him when he passed yesterday morning.  That one post alone had 450 comments.  Today as yesterday his wall is filled with notes from his many followers and friends sharing stories and sadness at his move to heaven.  I believe he was a good man.  My world is a little less today knowing he will no longer be posting a “Good morning from the Blue Ridge”.  I will no longer be able to return “Morning from the top of the Delmarva”.

Strange isn’t it.  I never met the man face to face yet I believe I have lost a good friend.  I think John Donne said it best,

“…….any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Rest in Peace John W. Huffman, you will also be missed by we who never met you and call you Friend.

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…

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SCRABBLE

GOOD MORNING WORLD

I really enjoy playing games.  Perhaps I mentioned that a few blogs ago.  I no longer care if I win.  I simply like to play.  One of my favorite games is Scrabble.  I rarely can find anyone to play with me as they think I am too good.  I like words and like to learn new ones.  This game is perfect for me and my curiosity.  I do get to play with a real person (persons) when I have the chance to play with my sister or sisters.  The middle of the three of us is quite a shark (is that the word for being proficient in Scrabble?) as she plays online and knows all the two letter and three letter words.

I discovered Scrabble online via facebook.  At first I played with strangers.  This was fun as I would look up words through the scrabble cheater to match the letters I had so that I might find more words to fit the board.  I did not know these people and had no loyalty to them so I chose the opportunity to cheat and learn at the same time. Now cheating is not in my nature so I dubbed this exercise as a learning tool.  Spin or what!!!

Then I got an invite from a long time friend to play her.  I was very excited and knew winning was not going to be a problem for me a she is good.  I shared in the chat what I had been doing with the other players and vowed to not do the same with her and did not nor do not.  In the facebook scrabble there is a teacher who will tell you how you could have done better after you play your word.  I like to click on this little guy to see what I could have done.

The places that the teacher shows me are interesting in that I rarely look to put letters right beside other letters to make multiple words.  Somehow my brain has not applied that step.  My sister who plays regularly does do this often when we play with a real board.  I challenge myself each time to look for those spots.  I will put up the words next to others and click the play icon only to see that there are no words spelled this way.  I continue to play and have given up on all the strangers and the cheating to learn.  I play a straight forward game with my friend daily.  I have yet to win which is fine by me.  I can be assured that at breakfast lunch and dinner (and maybe more) there will be a word for me to work with to move forward to lose yet another enjoyable game and that is good!

The most recent game we played started with me first.  I was given 7 letters.  I got NRLAECT.  Well I set about to make a word – I went with TRANCEL – not a word.  I tried RANCELT – not a word.  Then as I sat there all of a sudden the letters morphed into CENTRAL!  Wow.  First shot out of the gate I got 68 points.  I was flying and told my friend that that was my cushion as I knew subsequent words would not be valued as much.  Of we were on a new challenging word adventure.

She came back with CRUSTY off the c for 22 points and I followed with RADIO off the r a whole 7 points.  She came back with FOGGY off the o in RADIO for 34 points.  It went like this with my FILM for 27 and her VIBES for 33.  Then with seven letters of  – a n o blank q a i – I had to use AGO for 7.  The Teacher knew what I had in my rack and showed me that I could have done qanat for 46.  I had not ever heard of the word so looked it up.  When my friend did not use that space the next time and opted for JIBE and 29 points I went for QANAT and the 46!

I sent her a note in the chat to confess and tell her the teacher had shown me this word.  She challenged me to use it in a sentence tomorrow.  I cannot see myself walking up to a complete stranger and asking if they know about qanats.  I can however post it on facebook as trivia.  So to be honest, which is a character trait I wish to have always,  I did as my friend challenged me to do.

The post reads:  Trivia of the day: A QANAT creates a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid, and semi-arid climates.

So I am learning all the two letter words.  ZA is in the Urban Dictionary as short for Pizza.  Wikipedia has a whole list.

This list gives all the English two-letter words playable in Scrabble (playable everywhere except for countries than use the rival TWL dictionary; the US, Canada, Israel, and Thailand) according to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and Official Scrabble Words International, each of which list all permissible words from two up to about nine letters in length.

aa ab ad ae ag ah ai al am an ar as at aw ax ay ba be bi bo by ch[1][3] da[3] de di[3] do ea[3] ed ee[3] ef eh el em en er es et ex fa fe[2] fy[3] gi[3] go gu[3] ha he hi hm ho id if inio[3] is it ja[2][3] jo ka ki[2] ko[3] ky[3] la li lo ma me mi mm mo mu my na ne no nu ny[3] ob[3] od oe of oh oi[2] om on oo[3] op or os ou[3] ow ox oy pa pe pi po[3] qi[2] re sh si so st[3]ta te[3] ti to ug[3] uh um un up ur[3] us ut we wo xi xu ya ye yo yu[3] za[2] zo[3]

The problem is I like to know what they are so I have to look them all up to find the meanings.  In case of course they should come up in conversation!  While ZA is not in all the dictionaries or on all the lists, it is in our language today.  It is Friday and in this house that means ZA is on the menu for supper!

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…

http://www.sanjeev.net/scrabble/2-letter-words-with-meanings.html

http://www.fact-index.com/l/li/list_of_two_letter_english_words.html

http://www.trussel.com/scrabble/2words.htm

http://phrontistery.info/scrabble3.html

ROOMMATES

GOOD MORNING WORLD

I often refer to my husband as my roommate and of course he is more than that.  He is as fun as a roommate sometimes and he is as frustrating as one as well.  I am certain he can say exactly the same thing about me!

I have had many roommates in my life.  They were cabin mates at Camp Tanglewood.  They were tent mates at Nataswi.  I think Pilgrim Lodge we were called cabin mates as well.  In college I got my first official roommate.  What a great girl she was and am certain still is.

We made the contact before we arrived at college to introduce ourselves and talked about decorating our room and all that important ‘stuff’.  [Thinking of you Sandy when writing this word!]  I found out that my roommate Linda had a birthday the day before my dad.  Today is her birthday which brought this topic to mind.  Learning to live with another takes great effort especially if you are strangers.

We arrived at school and started to get to know each other.  It was very interesting.  With only a letter having crossed between us we discovered we were very much alike.  We had the same choice in bathrobes – both were red corduroy  though different styles.  We had the exact same towels in different colors.  We both were the oldest in our families and had lost a parent.  Come to find out her mother and my father did know of each other.  Small world.  It was not hard for us to go shopping and find room décor we both liked.  Linda was quiet.  I was loud.  She was studious.  I studied.  She graduated.  I chose another path.  We kept in touch for a long time and I was in her wedding and she in mine.  She and her husband visited when we were in NY and I stopped in a couple of times when I passed through their town.  Then time and miles happen.  I am sad about this as she is a great lady!

As I think about her and the roommate idea I am wandering off into all the people that come in and out of our lives.  Imagine if we did not open ourselves up to others.  Imagine if we stayed in our own little worlds.  Imagine talking only to our own like minded friends.  Imagine never hearing an opposing view.  One of the most stimulating things about my college years were the conversations.  I was challenged in ideas and values and issues.  I remember one specific conversation and Donna looking at me seriously and asking me incredulously, “All you want out of life is to be a good wife and mother?”  I was stunned and answered, “Yes.”  I did not see that as a particularly wrong thing to want.  Who knew this conversation may have been the very beginnings of change in our world.

There are not too many places one is challenged anymore.  We are cautioned to not talk about politics or religion or opinions or sex or finances or…….well I think we can talk about cooking unless it leads to what to eat and what not to eat.  Polite chit chat drives me right out of my mind.  I never did very well at cocktail parties or office functions unless I could get a person to  talk about themselves not just the weather.

I know that is one of the reasons I like facebook.  I enjoyed the conversation on Miss Jenni’s G. P. wall as she challenged our faith beliefs.  It was and is ever invigorating to challenge oneself in knowledge and strength.  One person did leave her wall after chewing us all out in colorful language.  Sad for them.  Miss Jenni G.P. still on occasion leads us to very interesting and informative discussions.  I check out her wall regularly to see what she is up to now.

I think I shared earlier that I had been asked not to post on one wall as I was ‘spewing’.  I saw, a couple of times recently, where others were asking people to not post on their walls if they disagreed with the wall owners views.  I am really confused by this.  Facebook is part of social media.  Social implies different to me.  I welcome different opinions on my wall.  If I cannot listen (read) and enjoy a discussion of differing views it makes me a little myopic doesn’t it.  I guess that is why I was so confused when I was accused of being narrow-minded when banned from the wall for not sharing the owner’s opinions.  Isn’t this kind of like opening the door to your home for all to come in and visit and then closing it to people who wear shoes not sandals (I wear them everyday) like you do?  Is this not narrow-minded?  I may have my definitions wrong.

I love conversation and discussion and got to say I enjoyed the give and take and free flowing chat of the girls from Robie Hall – fourth floor annex.  I wish them all well.  These women were terrific people to be in my life as I transitioned to adulthood.   Wonder if I have arrived???

…..ONWARD TO MORE MISADVENTURE…