Memorial Day 2015

In a sense this qualifies as an extra post since most of my posts are posted on Saturday. Still in the recent past my wife found a couple of high school year books from the era of WWII. With the way the world has changed since that time I felt it important that we look back. A time when Americans were involved in the fighting and what it meant to that generation. Written below are statements printed inside of those books from, Flathead High. In the 1941 edition, and understand that this statement is before we entered the war, we have this stated:

“We Pledge Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America . . .”

Thus  in our school assemblies we begin our salute to the flag.

As we do this we remember that the birth of our nation was the most glorious that the ages have known: We see our government in a key position in world affairs during the horror of this day’s world war: We pray that our homes and schools may train us for a wise, courageous part in our nation’s future.

And in the 1942 year book from the same high school the principle’s message states:

If General MacAuthur were writing this message to you, students, he would express a truth that he felt most appropriate and vital for this critical hour. Recently he said to us Americans. “No man is fit to live until he is ready to die for something greater than life.” And he is backing up those words with deeds of heroism. Our boys in service are giving up everything to defend and preserve those things we cherish more than life. Where do we stand? Are we with them, one in purpose, one in mind and heart? Let us, in this graduation session, pledge our boys over there to stand by them through it all, to share in the struggle as well as the Victory. We cannot be true Americans unless we do, we cannot deserve freedom unless we live and die for it. Titus Kurtichanov.

Later as we began the “D” Day Invasion, Franklin Roosevelt made this speech which was a prayer: “Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our Nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity. Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith. They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by  Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph . . .”

A different era for sure, but where do we stand today? Do we have what it takes to give what the greatest generation gave? We lost a generation to war. And we are still seeing deaths caused by regional wars. We are a world of tribes with a tribe mentality leading to so many unnecessary deaths. It has been said that war is modern civilization’s way of population control, and it does seem to be that way. Still if one doesn’t stand up for what this country represents, then in the end we deserve what we get. Most nations do not fall from an enemy outside their gates (Even if it appears from the outside to be so.), but from enemies within. We in this great country are facing those enemies now. Let’s make sure that the sacrifices made by our ancestors, and our military personnel of today isn’t in vain. Are the incidents of 9-11 to become a simple footnote in history? Something to glance at and forget? Are all these deaths unimportant? We are the only ones who can answer these and other such questions, and we are the only ones who can keep this Nation free. And that leaves us with this question: How will future generations remember this time, our time, us?

As we look to this Memorial Day, let us look back to simpler times, and to a generation that became known as the greatest. How do we in our time measure up? Memorial Day is about remembering those sacrifices. Let us remember. God Bless! (fdbrant.com)

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Family Traditions

Other than blood and the fact that every family member must live, albeit imperfectly, with each other through the years of growing up, what is it that makes us wax nostalgically in the remembrances of our past within the family? One of the things, I would say, is family traditions. And some of these traditions are developed long after the children have gone their separate ways and to their own families.

It’s not that there aren’t any developed or observed during the time of growing up, because there are. Yet, because of the very fact that everything is up close and personal, and it is where you’ve always lived, one doesn’t necessarily consider how the family lives as different, or that something that we do is a tradition. It is only after the time where one is able to spend those nights at a friend’s home that we begin to realize that there are other ways of doing things, other ways of dealing with issues within a family, and different views and thoughts out there. And for the first time one is shown that the way that they have always did, observed, and thought about things are not necessarily the only way it can be done.

Our horizons are expanded, and from here they continue to expand. Out into the world we begin to explore beyond the narrowness that we always knew. It’s not that any of this early time is bad, in fact it is just the opposite. We all need a place where things are consistent, a place to test our position in the order of things, a place to begin to develop that confidence that allows us to tackle the world outside of home, a place that allows us to grow and become us. In other words, a place with boundaries, or borders that give us the limits that must be there for our personal growth. And, of course, during those early years of life, protection.

Yet, it isn’t the day-to-day things that we remember. It’s those family get-togethers, the holidays, the birthday parties, the trips to places we’ve never been. Even though we were bored to tears on those trips because there was very little to do while our parents drove to that special destination. The phrase, “Are we there yet?”, comes to mind immediately. And there has been many skits, cartoons, and such reflecting that very question and situation. And while the routes to these special places are the same for everyone, what transpires within those many vehicles while similar are unique to each family.

Even summer vacations can become a family tradition if they are performed each and every year until you are no longer a part of the immediate family. And many times we find that after becoming part of our own family that we have a tendency to carry on those same traditions that we were surrounded by in our youth. Again, is such a bad thing? No not at all. Many times one can look back and see that a particular tradition goes far back into the family history. Others were brought into the family from members who joined bringing their family traditions with them. And  when combining these traditions from the different families into a cohesive whole it makes them appear to have always been there.

In a sense this is what transpired with my family, and became a family tradition while originally not being such (At least on my side. I do not know if my siblings carry this one on or not.). And, in truth, what was brought in wasn’t part of my wife’s family traditions either. She saw something that triggered an idea. And that idea has become a tradition within this family. For you adults out there, can you remember when your parents turned 40? I know that 40 seemed to be quite old. Of course for me it was almost 25 years ago when I reached that milestone (Where did the time go?). I know that I was 16 at the time it happened to my parents.

With the help of my parents, who whole heartily joined in, thusly starting the tradition, they set out to create a surprise party celebrating reaching the ripe old age of 40. Only it wasn’t along the lines of “congratulations you made it”, but more towards the “over the hill”, direction. It consisted of black balloons, and everything aimed towards the grave. Including an open grave placed on the cake. They had buzzards all around and each member of the family had cardboard buzzard beaks that they wore as they read from a series of statements aimed at roasting the individual who happened to reach this milestone. Included in this was an album of funny and insulting birthday cards just to rub it in.

As stated, it was all done in fun, and we all did have a great time. And with such a success for the first one (yes, I’m the oldest child in my family), the rest knew that it would continue. Now came a problem. How could one successfully pull such a surprise off, once again, when it was known that it would happen? And in many ways this problem made it fun. The game became not only the celebration of reaching 40, but the sneaky factor of successfully pulling it off so it would remain a surprise to the roastee.  And I have to admit that overall the family was successful.

These were so much fun that we decided to continue them in our own family. And on the weekend of the 23rd in August we pulled off the first. Our oldest daughter and her husband both turns 40 this year and we could honestly say, “gotcha”. And all of us enjoyed the day together. I do have to say that it was easier to pull off because of another family tradition. And that tradition is of family coming together once a year to celebrate all the birthdays – and this one does go back to my family. Here we celebrated, twice a year, combined birthdays instead of individual ones. And while I could honestly say we weren’t the largest family out there, we were large enough that these celebrations made more sense to us.

Now we have 4 years in which to surprise the next in line to reach 40. 4 Years of planning, and figuring out ways to make it a surprise. And, I have to admit, this is something that I’ve always been good at – figuring out ways to keep vital information away from the children. And what I mean by this isn’t the important or critical stuff, but the fun stuff. Like trips to Disneyland, or Knots Berry Farm when they were growing up. Most of the time, if we had such planned, I could do it in such a way that they wouldn’t figure out what was happening until we were pulling into those parking lots. Creating an atmosphere of surprise, anticipation, and fun, and giving the whole family fun time together as a family, and creating those special memories that we all cherish.

And I guess I can say that in a way, that even doing this became a family tradition. The game of trying to stay ahead of the children when we had planned a trip that was more for them than us. So I am left asking, what are yours, your family traditions? Have some died along the way, or are they going strong? Anyway that you look at them, they are part of what made you, well, you. And finally, Here’s to those family traditions, part of what binds us together, part of that joyful, and happy nostalgia when we look back.

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The end of another week and here we are looking at Saturday, the first day of those very short weekends. I know personally that for many years I worked those weekends and envied my friends who had them off. So whether you must work, or have the weekend, I hope to see you back here next week. And as always have a good week and God Bless. (fdbrant.com)

 

Thanksgiving is Upon Us

This is short and hopefully sweet. First off this would be considered a blog extra, but it doesn’t quite fit the bill since I have stated that if this is in the title, Blog Extra, then it refers to a political opinion, and for this day of thanksgiving I only desire to look towards what this represents. Yes, there will be the normal Saturday post, this time being my Thanksgiving short story. I do hope that you will look forward to and enjoy it.

For most, it has been a tight and rough year, yet what is it we can take from it that we can offer thanks? We have our families, our friends, a time of gatherings, of joy, and of course, times of sorrow. In a way it requires the opposite to understand the other side or to appreciate it. If, for example, we were never sick (yes, in many ways that sounds wonderful), then how could we appreciate the times of wellness? So as each of us go through our dark times, we understand that for most it does not remain dark. Eventually the light of day arrives revealing what was hidden in that darkness.

So as family and friends gather, let us put those negatives aside. Let all of us strive to see the good that has happened within our lives and give thanks to God for what has been provided. We have shelter over our heads, we have food on our tables, we have a chance to refresh old ties and relive memories of past Thanksgivings – feeling the warmth of family and those life long friendships. Yes, the day can be initially hectic, as we have to dash off to that store because we forgot some item necessary for our individual menus. Yet when the day ends, and we are all comatose from too much turkey, and have gathered in the living room enjoying that coffee and pie, we can secretly smile as we look around the room. For here lies our history, our present, and possibly our future. Our lives can be easily represented in that room at this time, giving all of us more reasons to be forever thankful.

In a sense this is the realization of the holidays arriving that this time of year presents to us. It is also leading to the end of one year, and the beginning of a new one. So as we gather across this nation let us truly look around, truly understand that even with the chaos that exists, we really do have reasons to be thankful.

May this Thanksgiving be good to you and yours, and may God bless your home – F. D. Brant

Published in: on November 28, 2013 at 8:01 am  Leave a Comment  
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Blog Extra – Here We Go Again, and Do You Remember?

Opinion. Before I make any statements about our state as a nation it is time to reflect on that day 12 years ago. A day where terrorists attacked this country on our own soil making a statement that no one was safe from them, and that they were willing to do whatever it takes to destroy us. For a short time this nation was brought together under that tragedy and threat. We became united for the first time in many many years. It was a time of national sorrow for the ones who had died, those many innocent lives taken that day. It showed us, as a people that there were others in this world that would prefer to destroy each and every one of us and they didn’t care how they did it, or who would die.

For a very short time it was fresh in everyone’s mind, and now it is history and we’ve fallen far from what that time represented and showed us. Time has removed us from the intimacy of the moment, and now like the holocaust of WWII it has become too distant to mean anything. We look at this government of ours, and we see them trying to overthrow the Constitution, to become like the ones who used violence to begin to take over. Have we learned anything at all from this? By looking at this country right now I would say that the simple answer is no, nothing at all.

So as we look back let’s remember the tears, the sorrow, the anger, and the fact that we could come together as a people united. At that time it did not matter who you were, what color, or religion. All that mattered was that you were an American. Now with a government trying to divide this nation by continually bringing up the RACE CARD, and attacking specific religions, they are using the age-old tactic of divide and conquer. Remember 9-11-2001, and remember how we were in the aftermath. Do not allow this government to continue as they are. It is not business as usual, and “let’s continue to throw our smoke screen out there, keep the public so busy on things that have no meaning that we can take this nation and it will be ours”, attitude. After all, actions always speak louder than words, and the words being spoken mean nothing as their actions tell us what they really are doing, what they desire, what they believe they can take. It is time that we unite as we did after that tragedy and never forget that time. Because, if we do forget, then we will go the way of the dodo, with the rest of the world fighting over the carcass.

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It seems that Congress is up to their old games once again – especially the House. Rumors are saying that It appears they are combining 2 bills so that they can tell their constituents that they voted the way that they were asked to vote. By combining these 2 bills they can say that they either voted down Obamacare, or supported it and not lie. Since the combined bills do both. Then once passed and moved on to the Senate they would be split once again leaving the Senate to take the fall for whichever failed to pass. As usual that double standard and double talk is alive and well in Washington.

And with the Syria issue and the fact that this President wants to push us into another war there came out this parody that reflects how the left views Obama. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z-sdO6pwVHQ

Published in: on September 11, 2013 at 8:55 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Slice of Life, Part 2

If one had followed the link back to the Loop Fire disaster, one of the terms that they used was “cold trailing”. They stated, which is absolutely true, that this is one of the safest operations that one works on a fire line. Basically this operation is to tie in open fireline where the fire has already passed and there is no active fire, very few of, what is referred to as smokes, and with most the open area cold. The nature of fire is such that it can find ways to get past open line, even in such areas as described here, and start burning actively once again. So line construction, plus working a certain number of feet within the burn is performed to both tie in the open lines, and ensure that nothing can blow beyond the newly constructed line. It also discussed the 10 firefighting orders and there are a second set that is called “Situations that Shout Watch Out.”  http://www.fs.fed.us/fire/safety/10_18/10_18.html

In part 1 I stated that in those first 3 years of living in the country we were almost burned out. In a way it is interesting to realize that the first fire we faced, the Inaja Fire of 1956, and the first major fire I would face, the Pine Hills fire of 1967, would burn in close proximity to each other albeit 11 years apart. The former, like the Loop fire of 1966 caught a hotshot honor camp crew with line bosses, leading to 11 members, in the area of the flashover or blowup, perishing. Again, below is a link that compares the 2 fires. Understand this, any who are unfamiliar with these wildfires have an mistaken belief that one can outrun such fires if they are caught, are in for a shock. Let’s use some simple math to dispel such thoughts. Basically if we look at the latter fire we find that it burned 7000 acres (rounded to make this easier) in 2 days, or 48 hours. So let’s take and divide the acreage by 48 and see how many acres it burned per hour. This comes out to an average of 145.3 acres an hour. Yes when it first started it burned slower, and there was a time where it consumed much more than this figure. We will now divide this by 60 to get the average acres per minute. This average is 2.43 acres per minute. I’m sorry but personally I’m just not that fast of a runner. (Comparing of the 2 fires – link.)  http://www.fs.fed.us/psw/publications/documents/psw_rn183/psw_rn183.pdf  And here is the link to the Inaja fire tragedy.  http://www.coloradofirecamp.com/cedar_fire/inaja_fire_introduction.htm

Now on to the continuation of what transpired (Again it is important that the terms be understood, otherwise this information could  leave one scratching their head). We remained glued to the radio, so to speak, during our standby hours, and slowly the radio chatter died as the equipment went beyond the repeaters that allowed us to hear. We retired to the barracks, something common during that time, and something that doesn’t generally exist for the stations with engines in the present time. Again our day back then was 15 hours. 8 hours regular schedule, and 7 hours of standby for which we received 25% of our base pay. During that time when one responded to a fire and was active on that fire you also received a 10% hazard duty pay. This was based on what you were earning at the time. So if you responded and attacked a fire, for the time you were on that fire up to the time of control, you would receive that bonus. Although, your pay would remain in standby mode if a fire began during that time, and that 10% would be based on your standby pay. Again at this time there was no overtime, so one ever earned a lot even with a running fire. As an example, I earned less than $2 an hour.

With the dawn we were alerted by the 3 beeps that meant a dispatch was eminent. The alert immediately pulled us out of our sleep and all of us waited to see which units would be dispatched and where the fire was. Again much has changed since that time. With the advances in communications equipment, only the stations that need to respond are alerted instead of a general forest wide alert. I was a crewman and as such was required to ride on the back of the class 1 engine. Again at this time the engines were either class 1 or class 2 with the prevention units classified as class 3. Simply stated the class I engines used a power takeoff unit to drive the pump, A single stage centrifugal pump, while allowing better pumping qualities it meant that once the pump was engaged that your engine became stationary. Again with time this has changed and now these same engines can do both, operate the pump and if necessary do a running attack.

Time to understand what this means: Running attack. In the city, most of the time such is unnecessary, since fire departments within a city normally deal with structures, so being able to move while fighting a fire isn’t necessary(Although in the present many cities have rigs that will be able to perform a running attack). In wildfires, many times, you need the ability to have the engine move with you so that you can attack the moving fire with you advancing with it, using your hard line or lines, simply the hard rubber hose on rollers, to attack the flanks of the fire. The canvas looking hose is known as CJRL meaning Cotton Jacket Rubber Lined, with 2 sizes being standard within wildland firefighting – inch and inch and one-half. City departments generally use a two and one-half inch hose or larger.

Class II units were flatbed trucks with a slide-on unit that had an independent pump and 4 cycle motor that drove the pump, making them ideal for running attacks. Of course the air cooled motor wasn’t as strong pushing the single stage centrifugal pump as the class ones, so the heavier pumping jobs were always left to the class I units. In the district that I worked we had 6 units, 3 class I, and 3 class II, with the class II’s being placed in the more remote areas, leaving the class I’s located either in or close to rural communities. For many, the USFS, and their volunteer departments were their only fire protection. Of course the Forest Service was famous for saving the foundations, which was always an inside joke, although it did carry a kernel of truth to the statement. After all, the distances to many of the residences were too great to be able to arrive in a timely manner, to save the structure.

The unit that I was assigned was in the middle of a rural community, and the reason that it was one of the class I units. Again because we were also the district office we had a mother or nurse tanker, simply a unit whose only purpose was to provide water to the engines and not be directly involved in fighting the fire, although it could if necessary. All the engines during that time carried 300 gallons of water, which isn’t a lot of water. This was also the reason for the type of pump. We did not have the unlimited water supplies that the cities have. So you learned to conserve what you had, and that nurse or mother tanker was critical in maintaining your attack on the wildfire.

From the dispatch office we learned that a fire had broken out on the district next to ours, so our initial assumption was that we would be sitting by the sidelines once again, listening, as another fire raged out of control, but to our surprise we were included in the initial dispatch, because we were actually the next closest unit to the fire origin. All the engines in those days had open crew seating, which meant you were open to the elements. While the driver or engineer, and the foreman or captain were inside, with another crewman sitting between the two. Also because of the earlier fire, there was a minimal crew for this dispatch. And being the junior crewman I was on the back of the unit where I could hear nothing of what was transpiring between the engine and dispatch. We left “red light and siren” and headed east out of the station. The winds were blowing hard and were cold. I was freezing, grabbing a wool blanket and wrapped up in it. Adrenaline was flowing, after all this wouldn’t be a small fire. These conditions made sure of that.

So began my experience on my first large wildland fire. As we continued east the grayness of dawn began to fade and soon the sun would be rising over the mountains with another day in the backcountry ahead and an unknown future for me. And if you missed part 1, here is the link back.  https://windmillsmetaphor4writing.wordpress.com/2013/08/03/a-slice-of-life-part-1/

Part 3 will be just ahead in a future post as I continue describing a slice of my personal past.

An Informal Gathering

On July 29 we had a small informal gathering of the family. Something that’s been rare in the past many years. With society being what it is, and the necessity to go where the jobs are, families rarely remain within the same town where they grew up. In a sense this is a small tragedy, since this modern world requires both parents to work, and without the previous generation there to help and provide community, and continuity, the sense of family is being lost. In my own family, where I am one of the children, we are spread across the western United States. At times it is circumstances that have dictated that separation, and as stated above, jobs. Now my mother, who is alone, with the passing of her husband of 64 years, last year, it’s very difficult for us to be able to take care of her needs when we are 1400 miles away. Both myself and my wife have elderly mothers who are still with us, and we feel the need to be there for them. Yet this distance makes it almost impossible. That brings it full circle with our own immediate family. And what I’m referring to here, is that gathering.

So for us, we had our grown children come by for an informal family gathering. At this moment we have only one who has any distance to travel, and she is somewhat close being approximately 3 hours away. And as expected, the time just flew, and now all are back safely to their own homes. One of the children had been a few thousand miles away for many years, and she and her family had just moved back renewing that strong mother-daughter relationship that has always been there. Of course she, of all of the children, is the only one with children of her own, and one has just graduated from high school, with her other child having 2 more years to go before graduating.

What this provided for me was an overview of the importance of bringing the different generations together. Since each generation has lived through a different period of time, and because of this, each generation would have knowledge that would not be available to the other generations individually if they never met, renewed family memories, or discussed how things are, resulting in new views, insights and understandings. And, of course, additional family history being added because we did meet as a family. I come from a family which never threw many parties – birthday, get together, and such. Instead twice a year we would have one birthday party that would cover everyone, and since most birthdays were close to around the time of the celebration it worked quite well. The second major family gathering would be at Christmas, and the joys that this time of year brings to most of us. Thanksgiving was always a mixed bag, with many going in different directions due to other family obligations. As a married adult, my wife and I would spend Thanksgiving at her brother’s home, and because of my occupation, I would have to leave early and get ready for work.

Looking back on each of these gatherings, as memory serves,  for my parents, we the children, and our children would enjoy our time together tremendously. These days would just fly by and be gone almost before they seem to start. And each that we remember, we remember fondly, and it was something that helped strengthen the family bond. Remember that the only ones that truly care is one’s family. It is there where your true history lies. And if one is fortunate as my wife, you had one or two life long friends, but many times even they fade away as memory does over time. But through most of your life it is your family that is there. That’s not to say that any family that is out there is perfect. After all there is no such thing. And in some there is more stress and war going on than what is happening in the real world. Yet, even here, if someone else would try to do wrong to a family member, others within the family would back the wronged member. After all there’s nothing like conflict to bring families together.

In past generations it wasn’t unusual for families, grandparents, parents, and children, to live in the same household. This tied the generations together, forming tight-knit families or family groups. The strength of the generations lay within this framework, and it worked very well. But now this is something for the nostalgic past, and another important part of our lives that the modern world has taken away. So, as we can, let us all renew those family ties, strengthen our bonds with our personal past, our personal history. Just because modern society has made this change doesn’t necessarily mean it was a good change. After all we should benefit from those changes.

Published in: on August 11, 2012 at 9:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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One Year Old

With March comes the first year of writing to this blog. When I began it last year I knew nothing about blogs, had really never planned on doing such a thing, and had never read one. So with some trepidation, I entered this world and wondered if I could truly carry it off. After all to keep something interesting for any period of time is difficult. But as an aspiring author I wanted to get my books out there. I felt that the stories I wanted to tell were good enough and enjoyable enough to have readers who would want to read and enjoy them. But will a million plus books published a year this would be a hard nut to crack. I had already worked a career that required most of my waking hours, so writing, while it was something I really wanted to pursue, was not a reality. I couldn’t even find time for recreational reading, and this had always been a favorite – a cheap vacation, so to speak. So like many of us in the real world this want had to be placed on the back burner until time became available.

In the past I had tried my hand at short stories, and such – even submitted a couple. Receiving the dreaded rejection letter that is common among writers. I guess if you never received one, either you are one of the greatest writers out there, or your works just sit and are more hobby that reality. So with the years passing and I finally retiring, I decided it was time to try writing one more time. Through those intervening years much had changed and I went forth naive to these very changes. At the time in the past, when I had seriously contemplated writing there were no agents, no internet, no blogs, no web pages, no social media – none of these even existed on the horizon. Yet, now if one wants to be successful, all of this must be used. And for an introvert like myself, that is a serious change. After all, all I really wanted to do was write some great stories, stories that people would want to read, and be happy. I never had plans to really earn money from this endeavor. So in some ways I just probably did not look far enough ahead, since the reality of writing and publishing now has a cost to the writer. So somehow enough money needs to come into the coffers to offset the outgo. While there are many places out in cyberspace that are free, such as WordPress, others still cost. And if you self-publish as I did, then you are responsible for everything. The advertising, the cost of getting your book out there, whether it be the traditional method or the e-book method, and know that by not being known, that the odds are completely against your success.

With these thoughts I started the blog not even understanding much about them. The worry simply stated was: Can I do this? And if I can, how do people find me? Then came the biggy. Could I maintain enough ideas and direction to be able to keep a weekly blog going? I know that while I have some followers of this blog, that even here that this is short-lived. One can stroke their personal ego and say, “Look at all the people who are reading my words.” But if one is truly honest, and have lived in this world long enough, then you know that even if someone has signed up to follow, that eventually for whatever the reason, they quit. The link may still exist, but that’s all. When weekly  blog arrives in their inbox, it is immediately deleted, with the thought that I really need to get rid of that thing. But then something else takes priority and so the old links remain. Have you ever taken time and looked over your favorites? How many of those are dead sites? I know personally that there are more dead sites than active ones in my favorites. But do I take the time to clean it out? Well, you already know the answer.

So while my share of readers out there is small, I thank every one who do continue to follow. I can hope that what I say will continue to be interesting and thought-provoking. Words is all I have, and as I have said in the past, words are a poor substitute for life, but it is all we have to allow us to touch each other. To try in our own poor way to show and explain things as we see it. And if at times I can be successful at this, then that is all I can ask. To keep it fresh is my goal. Whether I can do this is an unknown. We all have our blind sides, and forgetfulness, so it is easy for any of us to repeat. So if at times that happens, then I will apologize in advance. I will continue to write manuscripts for as many years as my age permits. I am in my 60’s now and really do not know how many creative years will still be available to me. Presently, including the one e-book, I have 4 completed manuscripts, with 2 additional ones in the writing phase at this moment.I have 2 that will require serious rewriting, but I have to admit that I love my actors in that story. It is a trilogy with 2 of the books already written, and the one I am writing now, for which 30,000 words are written, is the second of a 2 book story. Most of these manuscripts, because of the time frame and subject matter, fall into the sci-fi genre. But as one can see from my short stories, for which I am presently writing another, I write across many genres, and plan to continue.

So to wrap this up – I look forward to continuing this well into the second year, and if allowed years to come. And that next year at this time, I can post a blog titled Two Years Old. So as this time flows by us I hope to continue to learn, to continue to grow, and keep busy with family, and my second career as a writer. God Bless all.

Published in: on March 17, 2012 at 9:21 am  Leave a Comment  
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Another Year Past

Another year is reaching its end, and as we look forward, we always hope that the new one will be better. Although I never understood the mentality that one had to get drunk to bring in the new year. To me that was always a bad way to start, to what is supposed to be new beginnings. As a child to have the privilege of staying up to get past the magical hour of midnight was a privilege, but now it is just another night, and just another day. As it has been stated in many different ways, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

As I have gotten older, I find that the years fly at such a terrific rate, that it seems that I go to bed in January, and then wake up and it is the end of December. Still we face the changes that a new year brings, things like cleaning out of last year’s files, setting up one’s personal books for the new year, and of course for those who do, setting and keeping those new year’s resolutions and goals. Then our governments must get into the act, and when a new year arrives, many new laws go into effect, and  these will have some affect on us all.

If we were to look back on 2011, overall it has not been a good year for many. With a worldwide depression there were many lost jobs, homes, and the chaos that comes with these times. Yet one is always hopeful that things will improve. This reminds me of a comment that went something like this. “I was sad, and things were bad, bills to pay, leaking roof, and no money. A friend dropped by and said, smile for things truly could be worse. So after he left I thought about what he had to say, and had to agree, so I smiled, and surely, things got worse.” Now I am not serious about that statement, but it has always brought a smile to my face.

It is said that we must learn from history. Yet, it has been shown that this is the one thing we seem not to do. But from generation to generation continue to repeat the same mistakes over and over again. I wonder why this is so? With our abilities now for information overload, and much researched history before us, why do we just go and repeat it? Of course I have no answer to that question. If I did, and so many of the others out there, I wouldn’t be just a poor writer out here passing on what little wisdom I have through a minor blog. Yet all of us have something to contribute, and to help others that pass through our lives. So if the opportunity comes along to help, please do. It’s a part that makes us human and who we are. Remember history judges us not necessarily from our accomplishments, but from how we treat and help one another.

So as I close this week, and this year out, I guess I can say that this blog today, has been one of ramblings. And I promise that as I post other short stories, as I will do now and then, that they will not necessarily be sad. I am not saying that I won’t, I am just saying that they will cover many different things, and will give any out there who follow a good idea of how I write. And if it is something that you enjoy, then I can thank you. After all the goal of any writer is to get said what he or she wants to say, to entertain, and to leave the reader thinking. If I can do that, then I have done my job. May the new year 2012 be a great one for all out there. F D Brant

Published in: on December 31, 2011 at 8:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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A Father’s Legacy

Again this week I had planned on writing on a different subject. But life does have a tendency to get in the way. If one has been around for a few decades then they would know that this is a true statement. This week my father, a man of 84 years and 7 months, married to my mother for one month short of 64 years passed away. It was not unexpected, but even so when his time did arrive it was a devastating loss. We come from a family that believes strongly in family and the strengths, and yes weaknesses, that such ties can have.  Yet, if we truly look at this man, we know that the one we knew for most of our lives had been missing for many years. He had survived 3 heart attacks, and had other health issues. This eventually led to dementia with him only living in the present except for one  childhood memory, that was etched firmly into his mind.    This childhood memory, that he was locked into, was a story that he would tell over and over again.

Yet if one would look back over his life they would find a man who was dedicated to his wife, and to his family. For many years he worked 2 jobs – 16 hours a day, just to make ends meet.  After all wages were not the best back then. Before he and my mother married he had been a corpsmen in the Navy, and had served at the end of WWII. After I  came along he had been recalled for Korea, leaving my mother alone with 1 child to take care of – a common thing that we still see today with another war going on. Both were tough parents expecting their children to follow the rules that were laid down, and if one did not, we faced their wrath. He worked hard for all of his life and retired a Captain in the Naval fire department. The Fire Department was civilian, civil service to be exact. It was his first heart attack that brought on that retirement.

The legacy of this man comes from what his children became after becoming contributing adults. Of the 5 children 2 were contractors, 1 a postmaster and a writer, and the other 2 working in supporting their families. While he will never be famous, or known beyond his family and friends, it is people like he that are responsible for the continuing of a great nation. Without their work ethic, belief in God (He was a church Deacon for while.), and the willingness to raise their children to be responsible members of their society, this nation would have failed a long time ago. He believed in responsiblity, and helped those in need with no thought of reward. Many a Thanksgiving he would gather food, paid for most of the time, from his own pocket, for those in need, place it at their doorsteps, ring the bell, and leave. To know that someone would have that food was enough of a reward.

We went through our own hard times. Times when we were the receivers of that food that is donated at schools at Christmas time for those in need. Yet, to us as children it was a surprise, humbling yes, but a surprise.  We never felt lacking, and the love and understanding that was in the house showed us the importance of family. He and his generation, even though they were children themselves at the time, survived the depression. So he understood what it meant to be poor. He was a teacher, and there was very few things he could not do. And if he did not know how to do something, he would get a book, and then figure it out. It left us with that same drive – never afraid to tackle something just because we had never done it before.  So what better legacy could a father leave? A legacy that shows that his offspring are continuing as honest, God-fearing, hardworking people.

Published in: on November 12, 2011 at 9:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Overrun!

Late in 1967 I was hired by the USPS as a seasonal employee. As positions opened because other seasonals’ were heading back to college, it gave me an opportunity to see if indeed wildland fire fighting would be something that I would enjoy. I had just turned 18 and reached the minimum age to be able to work for the government. Up until this time, studying and working in the local volunteer fire department had been the extent of my experience.

I always looked back to that crash of the military jet on our property in 1958 as the influence to become a fire fighter. The aircraft flew into our area during a foggy night, flying much too low. He hit a pile of boulders and exploded, with the front wing tearing off the aircraft and  continuing on its original path, flying over our house and then landing on the hillside behind the house. We were surrounded by fire – back to the incident.

The winds began to blow out of the east with gusts hitting 90 miles per hour. Then a major fire started, north on another forest, and equipment was being pulled to help suppress that fire. Our district was stripped leaving half the equipment it normally had. (This was, and still is, a normal procedure when other areas have a major incident break.) Then early next morning there was a new report of a fire breaking in the next district over from us. We were the closest unit out of our district and were dispatched along with what had been dispatched in that other district.

At the time there was only a 2 lane black top road as the main road through the county, and when these winds would blow the road would be shut down. We were the only vehicle on the road and the winds were blowing us all over the road. It was impossible to keep the fire truck in our own lane. Half way to the reported fire we were turned around with a report of another start. Heading back down the road we were still all over the road as the winds were now hitting us in the rear. Eventually when we got to where this report had been we could see that there was no new fire. What was being seen was the heavy dark smoke from the fire we were originally dispatched. Because of the strength of the winds the smoke was funneling down through the canyons and not rising in a defined convection column.

We finally arrived in the area of this major incident and immediately attacked a spot fire. Once under control we headed for a large overgrazed meadow next to the forest service station that had made the initial attack on the fire. The weather station that was there had been blown over and destroyed. The winds were so strong that if one opened the door on the fire engine that it was immediately grabbed out of one’s hands and either thrown wide open or slammed shut. Anything loose in the cab was grabbed and then thrown out and lost. As the fire continued to throw out spot fires we attacked them as we could. I watched fire travel across that meadow where I believed no fire could go.

One of the safety commands that must be learned is, “Situations that shout Watch Out!” This one states this: “You are making a frontal attack on a fire.” Followed by Standard Fire Fighting Order #4, which states, “Have Escape Routes for everyone and make them known.” That night anchoring off a spot fire that had been suppressed, we awaited the main fire along with a lot of other equipment. Hand crews had used the black area from the suppressed spot fire, and had worked their way into the danger zone and out of sight from where we were situated, which was on a single lane dirt road. Our escape route was down that road and away from the station that we had been close to earlier that day.

The fire hit us all at once. First the night sky lit up with falling burning embers which fell like rain and were falling across our line and began igniting spot fires. We were desperately attempting to keep up the sheer number of new fires starting. They were starting so fast that it became impossible to put them out and they began to combine. Just about this time the head of the main fire approached from the opposite direction and we found ourselves between the main fire and the combining spot fires. The fire had gone by us with no effort at all, leaving us surrounded by fire. Word had come down that the direction we had set up for our escape was now blocked as the fire had jumped the road in that direction earlier. Now facing a rising danger I was directed to assist in turning around the engine so that we could head back to that meadow area. As I directed the truck in the change of direction the whole area now was on fire. Everywhere I looked all vegetation was fully involved and the area lit up with an eerie orange-red glow, with flames everywhere. Once turned around we all got into the cab, and when we finally were able to leave, we had flames curling around the hood, and had any of us been in the outside back seat, we would have been burned, and had the fire engine stalled all would have perished.

And this was my introduction to wildland fire fighting. I found that I truly loved it and continued for a number of years until an injury took me out of it forever.

Published in: on October 17, 2011 at 10:11 am  Leave a Comment  
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