Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day

From a chain email I received...for Memorial Day...

In September of 2005, a social studies schoolteacher from Arkansas did something not to be forgotten. On the first day of school, with permission of the school superintendent, the principal, and the building supervisor, she took all of the desks out of the classroom. Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

The kids came into first period, they walked in; there were no desks. They obviously looked around and said, "Where's our desks?" The teacher said, "You can't have a desk until you tell me how you earn them." They thought, "Well, maybe it's our grades."

"No," she said. "Maybe it's our behavior."

And she told them, "No, it's not even your behavior."

And so they came and went in the first period, still no desks in the classroom. Second period, same thing. Third period. By early afternoon television news crews had gathered in the class to find out about this crazy teacher who had taken all the desks out of the classroom.

The last period of the day, the instructor gathered her class. They were at this time sitting on the floor around the sides of the room. She said, "Throughout the day no one has really understood how you earn the desks that sit in this classroom ordinarily. Now I'm going to tell you."

She went over to the door of her classroom and opened it, and as she did 27 U.S. veterans, wearing their uniforms, walked into that classroom, each one carrying a school desk. And they placed those school desks in rows, and then they stood along the wall. By the time they had finished placing the desks, those kids for the first time I think perhaps in their lives understood how they earned those desks.

Their teacher said, "You don't have to earn those desks. These guys did it for you. They put them out there for you, but it's up to you to sit here responsibly, to learn, to be good students and good citizens, because they paid a price for you to have that desk, and don't ever forget it.

Friday, May 25, 2007

New story

New story on the business page today...the first of a continuing monthly series on young it here. Many thanks to Rick Palermo for taking my calls on the job, often in the middle of the job, and being patient with my numerous questions. And thanks to his mom for telling the story from her side. And for being a mom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Memorial Day...Remembering the Fallen

I had the pleasure of meeting a group of Marines recently who were taking classes where I work. They were sent here from all over the globe to learn how to become better chefs. One from a Marine base in Japan, one from Hawaii, the Pentagon, Texas and other bases.

My grandfather was a cook in the Army in WWII. Because of his cooking experience prior to the war, he was assigned to be a cook at Fort Dix Army Training Center in New Jersey. He was frustrated to be "only a cook" and not a fighting soldier, but as the war went on, he realized that his meals might be the last bit of home-cooking that soldiers ate before going off to battle, or ever.

He took his responsibilities seriously and made the best meals he could with what he had. If he needed better ingredients, he'd find a way to get them. Soldiers would ask for his "special" bread pudding or roast potatoes. I cooked with him at religious retreats for West Point cadets and his food was prepared with the same love and attention and received with equal parts of love and thankfulness.

I remember one retreat, we, the cooking volunteers, were hungry in the kitchen after preparing and serving the meals but we wouldn't eat until the cadets had had enough. If they wanted seconds, he encouraged us to give them our portions - with love. It was a lesson he drilled into me - cooking a meal for someone is sharing part of you with's a labor of love.

These Marines had similar attitudes about preparing meals for their fellow soldiers. They spent five weeks with us and learned, we hope, a great deal. We did, too but not about cooking.

I learned these Marines know how to follow a recipe. It was harder to teach them to break the rules of the recipe and make it their own, but they did eventually. I learned they are serious about studying and learning but they like to have fun, too. They want to live while they're alive - a simple concept perhaps, but something that takes on different meaning when you're a soldier.

They are brothers and fathers and husbands and sons. One was a daughter and she had a beautiful smile, although she said that Marines don't smile for photos. I caught her smiling for a moment and got one anyway, but that smile was just too wonderful...Marine or not.

I learned about where they came from and, perhaps more important, where they've been. These were Marines ages 19-40. Some had been to Iraq already. Some had been a few times. They shared video and photos from Iraq. Some lighter moments, but most were not.

Today, I saw similar photos in the NY Times. A very moving article (by Damien Cave with a photographic series by Michael Kamber) of a group of soldiers who had just been injured by a hidden off-road bomb. They were searching for the three soldiers who were kidnapped last week and were themselves injured during the search. One fatality, three others injured. The photographer and reporter were with the troop at the time of the explosion and were able to describe and document the scene in great detail.

The one fatality, the one dead soldier in this troop, on this day had a name. His name was Sgt. Justin D. Wisniewski. He was 22 years old.

If you Google his name, it comes up about 360 times. If you asked ten people on the street who he is, chances are no one will know who he is.

If you ask ten people on the street who the newest American Idol is, chances are many will know. Google an American Idol finalist and you'll find over 2 million listings.

This bothers me. It bothers me more now, I suppose, because for the past five weeks, I have put names to faces of soldiers. Of Marines. Marines who have fought and lived through this war. Marines who have yet to go over to Iraq. Marines who will likely return there again for their second or third tours. Marines who I hope will all make it back. I didn't know any soldiers personally before these five weeks. None of my friends are soldiers. No one from work is. No one in my family is. Now I know a few and I will remember their names and their faces and their smiles.

In Sgt. Wisniewski's hometown in Standish, Michigan, people will likely know his name. They would likely want you to know and remember his name. He is their American Idol. A photo of him in uniform was posted at his high school on Monday. He was remembered there with a moment of silence.

There are 3,452 names from this Iraq War that need remembering. A list of their names and photos is here.

I'll remember one here today.

Sgt. Justin D. Wisniewski.

Related stories:

"I Will Always Be Your Soldier" by Ryan J. Stanton, Bay City Times

In the Times on Sunday entitled "Coming Home" about Iraq War Veterans' lives after the war.

"An Invisible War" by NY Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert, May 3, 2007

Monday, May 21, 2007

Celiac Disease article

My story on Celiac Disease is up on the Poughkeepsie Journal's it here.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

CIA You-Tube

Mother's Day cupcake video from our chefs...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Hummingbird's New Home

I transported "Ruby" the hummingbird to his (or her...I forgot to find out!) new home at the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook. Everything I read online said I couldn't keep a hummingbird in captivity, so we found him a new home with some animal friends at the zoo.

He sat in his shoebox on a twig with his sugar water dispenser in front of him. I left the box lid open halfway so he could see what was going on. The ride didn't seem to phase him and he had a drink here and there when he wanted.

The director and assistant director were impressed by his calm nature. He doesn't peck at you if you reach for him and he'll sit on your finger and perch. He drinks out of a container and doesn't appear to be sickly...except for the damaged right wing.

They didn't think his wing would heal properly because it's been a week and it was still hung up a bit. He flaps and gets a few inches off the ground but he's not going anywhere. They'll probably show him to the students and groups there - he'd be a great classroom addition.

They're going to put him in the bird area and have the students make him a "highway" of sticks for him to perch on. He doesn't walk around and without flight, he's pretty immobile. I called it the hummingbird superhighway. I can't wait to see what they rigged.

I miss the little guy. It was nice to come home from work and sit with him on the deck. He'd just drink his little sugar water and look around and listen to the other birds. Who knew such a tiny thing would grab such a big piece of my heart?

I'm going to call early next week to see how it's all going...I hope he likes it there.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Hummingbird Hospital

Well, Ruby the hummingbird is still with us three days after we found her injured on the driveway. She is self-feeding now from a little Harry Potter magic seed terrarium I found in the kids room. It's just the right size.

I put some sticks in with her and removed her from the box to a towel on the table outside. She sat out there for a half hour in the sun and she seemed to perk up. She listened to the birds all around us and seemed more alert to her surroundings. A shoe box is no place for a hummingbird.

Unfortunately, she still can't fly. She was making many attempts but couldn't get any air. I read online that hummingbirds can't walk, so that explains a lot. The sticks I gave her worked well and she side-stepped along them to the sugar-water feeder. I had to cover her with an old wicker outdoor soon as she saw it coming she flapped to escape. Poor her.

I have a call into an animal hospital to see if they'll care for her. The Trevor Zoo in Millbrook can look at her on Thursday. I hope she can make it until then feeding on just sugar water. She needs a protein source like squished bugs or small fruit flies. I finally evicted fruit flies from my kitchen last month and now, it turns outt, I need them.

See more photos and video here.


Friday, May 04, 2007

Hummingbird Rescue

Today, I fed a hummingbird. My husband and the kids found a ruby-throated hummingbird last night on the driveway. They put him in a shoebox with some sugar-water on a plastic spoon and left him for the night. We're not sure if his wing is broken or if he's concussed or what is wrong with him.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

I put a washcloth in with him and a stick for perching and a supply of sugar water. He looked pretty out of it this morning, wobbling and falling down. As the day progressed, though, he seemed to chipper up a bit. He's trying to flap and his wings are flapping pretty well but not fast enough for takeoff. I held the spoon for him and his little tongue is forked like a snake.

I called the Millbrook School's Trevor Zoo to ask if they did hummingbird rescue. I talked to Allan, the Assistant Director, and asked what to do. He said he might be concussed but it's hard to tell without seeing him. The concussion might affect his flapping, etc. He said to wait until morning to see if he makes it. If he had a concussion, he could die...or the stress of all of this could kill him.

I took some video and photos of him. The kids are calling him "Ruby." I hope he makes it!

Related: Ruby's New Home.