Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thit, another animal story


A precious little Texas girl, with two missing teeth, walks into Pet Smart and asks the owner,
"Excuthe me mithter, do you have any widdle wabbits?"

As his heart melts, he gets down on his knees so that he's on her level and asks,  
"Do you want a widdle white wabbit, or a thoft and fuwwy bwack wabbit, or maybe one like that cute widdle bwown wabbit over there?"

She, in turn, blushes, rocks on her heels, crosses her arms,  
leans forward and says;

"I don't think my python weally gives a thit."

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Band of Four

Lisa, David, Myrna and Forrest with our French B&B lad who makes great calvados and his doggie Captain Nemo who was ready to pee on Myrna.....

An American in Europe

An American in Europe

I first came to Holland in 1980. Like many of my generation, baby boomers, I was transfixed by being in Europe, Europe the land of many wars, the bloody womb of the United States before the great war, World War II. I spent many vacations thereafter visiting the many grave yards in the Netherlands with my wife’s mother’s brother, both who survived the so called Bridge Too Far battle in Arnhem. I even read the book about that battle and have watched that movie and many others about the Allied incursion into nazi oppressed countries. The Longest Day, Saving Private Ryan, the Band of Brothers , Hart’s War and so forth. Stories of our fathers and mothers, the Great Generation.

What was remarkable to me the American, as I had been at the Diamond Head America Cemetery: white crosses and stars filled the bowl of that former volcano, whereas the Dutch cemeteries: over grown gardens basically. More striking was that not only there were the Dutch buried but all the Allied nations, including Russia. In 1980 that impressed me deeply. This was at the height of the Cold War. (editor’s note: the Russians were a major component in the success of Normandy as I read history. Good on the Dutch for their inclusion of Russian warriors in their graveyards.)

My mother-in-law kept talking Normandy to me, for years. I finally got there years later but allow me one digression. I went to Luxembourg with some also Americans and Canadians in Europe. In Luxembourg is a cemetery run by the Americans and it reminded me of the Hawaii cemetery. Pure white crosses and stars of David in measured rows with freshly cropped grass. There is an explanation of the Battle of the Bulge when Charlie Company and George Patton and George’s Third Army gave the nazi’s a new rear end.

What was beautiful in Luxembourg is that the General is buried at the top of the cemetery with just a plate with his name. Nothing further. Just. Just the General with his boys. I understand that Patton’s people made sure no monuments were built to him. The family got their wish and is very impressive how he is honored. I was moved also as when we visited there they were playing taps for some family who were there from maybe Ohio (some place from the USA heartland) to pay tribute to their lost kin and warrior. Tears and snot

I finally got to Normandy a couple of years of ago and it is awesome. So well done, pure white crosses and stars of David and fresh cropped grass, but what is more impressive, the cemetery lies right on the beach were all the action happened. Pont Du Hoc is the point of the area that Army Rangers scaled and as featured in Saving Private Ryan. Pont Du Hoc is a few meters up the beach from where the cemetery lies. In good weather and peace times, it is an awesome view of the troublesome North Sea. Beautiful views. We Euro-Canadian-Americanos got sun burned that day. The day of the launch of the greatest war battle in history the weather was typically as it is, bad.

I wrote a reflection about Normandy and that is what this story is about. My hero is Ike. He must have had iron gonads when he gave the Order. In the Longest Day, Ike is there in a little conference room deciding with all the weather reports and his multi-national staff with him. After deep soul searching, Ike looks out the window, hesitates and then says to his staff: WE GO. My reflection is based on a word from each of my friends, Lisa, Myrna and David, like Ike. We the representatives of the Everyman, each with his own story of valor and dreams.

This however is a tribute to Ike.

Prelude to Operation Overlord

During the first six months of 1944, the United States and Great Britain concentrated land, naval, and air forces in England to prepare for Operation Overlord, the assault on Hitler's "Fortress Europe." While the Soviet Union tied down a great portion of the enemy's forces, the western Allies marshaled their resources, trained their forces, separately and jointly, for the operation, and fine tuned the invasion plans to take full advantage of their joint and combined capabilities.

Before the invasion, the air and sea components played major roles. The 12,000 planes of the Allied air forces swept the Luftwaffe from the skies, photographed enemy defenses, dropped supplies to the resistance, bombed railways, attacked Germany's industries and isolated the battlefield. The Allies' naval component was similarly active during the buildup. The navies escorted convoys, patrolled and protected the English Channel, reconnoitered beaches and beach defenses, conducted amphibious rehearsals and organized and loaded a mighty flotilla to land the assault forces in France.

Meanwhile, the nine army divisions (three airborne and six infantry) from the United States, Britain and Canada trained and rehearsed their roles in the carefully choreographed operation. Rangers climbed cliffs, engineers destroyed beach obstacles, quartermasters stockpiled supplies and infantrymen waded through the English surf as each honed the skills necessary for the invasion's success.

Normandy Invasion
Supreme Commander--General Dwight D. Eisenhower

"We Go"

Ike, June 1944

Pont du Hoc provides a tremendous view of the arena of what was the beginning of the end of the tyranny of unbridled nationalism. In essence it was now what we know may have been the beginning of the end of the age of nationalism and the birth pains of an emerging Global Village.

The vistas of Pont du Hoc are breath taking with the sun and clear skies. Ike of course was faced with the well known soggy weather of the English Channel. One can only imagine what he felt when there was a bit of rest in the bad weather and said "We Go." The entire march of history must have been upon his shoulders.

Forrest, July 2008

Of course I would say holes but David correctly named them craters. From the air and sea the Allied's bombed the German bunkers at Point du Hoc. The craters are now grown over with grass and bushes. Very large and much ordnance came from the sky and seas. A fearful site to be at if one was on the ground.

Lisa, July 2008

Before the troops landed, the Airborne dropped behind enemy lines. Floating down from the heavens, this was the first line of attack. Seeing that entire region now, it is miracle that in such a large area of land the Airborne was able to find each other and begin their mission. (editor’s note: Longest Day has the great description of this)

Myrna, July 2008

Pont du Hoc is in a strategic position to view the coast and the long beach which includes Utah Beach, Omaha Beach and the other points of attack. The cliffs are virtually impossible to climb on a nice day. The Rangers who were dispatched at Point du Hoc faced fierce enemy fire from above. Of the 200 or so Rangers dispatched, 90 survived.

From privates to captains, their names are listed at the memorial center. (editor’s note: Myrna is our Canadian married to a Frenchman of our visit, RIP, Myrna’s Husband). The Dutch especially love the Canadians as when Patton was kicking ass through the Ardennes, the Canadians were cleaning up in the Netherlands)

David, July 2008

Of course this needs no more words other than may they rest in peace.

Common men and women of valor who had a dream to defeat fascism. That is Normandy.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scenic Holland

Enkhuizen, an old sea village with great seafood restaurants

The Ostrich

In a further review in regard to our friends the animals I submit this about the strange bird, the Ostrich


A man walks into a restaurant with a full-grown ostrich behind him. The waitress asks them for their orders.

The man says, "A hamburger, fries and a coke," and turns to the ostrich,
"What's yours?" "I'll have the same," says the ostrich.

A short time later the waitress returns with the order. "That will be $9.40 please." The man reaches into his pocket and pulls out the exact change for payment.

The next day, the man and the ostrich come again and the man says,
"A hamburger, fries and a coke." The ostrich says, "I'll have the same."
Again the man reaches into his pocket and pays with exact change.

This becomes routine until the two enter again. "The usual?" asks the waitress.
"No, this is Friday night, so I will have a steak, baked potato and a salad," says the man. "Same," says the ostrich.

Shortly the waitress brings the order and says, "That will be $32.62."
Once again the man pulls the exact change out of his pocket and places it on the table.

The waitress cannot hold back her curiosity any longer. "Excuse me, sir. How do you manage to always come up with the exact change in your pocket every time?"

"Well," says the man, "several years ago I was cleaning the attic and found an old lamp. When I rubbed it, a Genie appeared and offered me two wishes. My first wish was that if I ever had to pay for anything, I would just put my hand in my pocket and the right amount of money would always be there."

"That's brilliant!" says the waitress. "Most people would ask for a million dollars or something, but you'll always be as rich as you want for as long as you live!"

"That's right. Whether it's a gallon of milk or a Rolls Royce, the exact money is always there," says the man.

The waitress asks, "What's with the ostrich?"

The man sighs, pauses and answers, "My second wish was for a tall chick with a big ass and long legs who agrees with everything I say.."

Friday, March 4, 2011

Dutch Elections

Dateline, ZULU: 02/03/2011, 3:31 PM, West Bilthoven

Regional Elections

My computerized invitation to vote in hand, I walked around the corner of my
'hood. The corner houses the "landlord" of all rental housing in the county of
De Bilt (50,000 plus peoples). A very nice office building and its strategic
positioning has helped make a neighborhood once problematic, safe for democracy:
in some definitions in this modern day, multi-cultural society (along with the
renovations this is a very nice area). The good North Africans bring their
kids in tow to teach them about voting in a free country. No military tanks; no machine guns; in a word no military nothing or guards of the Queen. Just. Just like America.

I digress about the 'hood. In other words it used to be a bad neighborhood.
The landlord owns all of the subsidized rental housing in the county, which is a
lot. Their office building here really upgrades everything. Kudo's. This is one of the richest counties in Holland. Thus. The landlords are sitting pretty. So to speak.

They are good landlords however. Called the SSV. This land lord thing is what many think to be socialized housing. It is not and that is another story along with the medical care of which I have great stories. For another time and this is about voting.

I took my voting invitation and passport to the SSV. I am a dual citizen here, by the way.

I walked in and one of our retired clients who does elder sports where I work said howdy hi. He used to work for the county having to do with kid's fine arts. I have known this guy for years from "my" cultural center with his work and now sports exercise. He volunteers at election time. A good white, Dutch citizen.

He said, um, to his colleagues and me, you are from Australia right? I said,
thinking he was joking, God Bless the Queen. He then looked at my Dutch
passport and he made a remark about the floods in the Land of Oz. I said no, I
am from the land of earthquakes. Oh? New Zealand. No, Los Angeles. Oh? You
are an American? ho ho, this really happened.

I mean even after all these years here and trying to speak the language, most people here hear the difference in my Dutch accent between England and America.
Wow. The English love to tell me I don't speak English but American. Another story on that one as well, eh, cosmic comrades?

You see, we were speaking Dutch together at the voting booth. How wonderful, really, for me. He, another smart but dense county worker. Probably has a master's degree in something cultural but doesn't hear my accent like do the regular folk. That's ok. Just an observation and digression.

So what did I do? I voted for anybody than Geert Wilders, the darling of Fox
News and a real neo-Nazi. I was talking to my best indigenous source about
Wilders. Wilders is slick like Hitler with his own Goebbels, the PR man.

Well, the other two parties I didn't vote for are the CDA (Christian Democratic
Association, aka, Jerry Falwellish and the VVD, VVD right wing
Republicans...rough translation of party platforms). Wilders, if he gets
further, the PPV, his party i.e. nazi's, will probably conjoin with the CDA and
VVD in some manner. I still don't get parliamentary democracy.

Now, me and my indigenous source both agreed about Wilder's nazismistic
political ambitions which include the EU. So, I voted against Mr. Adolph Jr.
with his peroxide blond hair. Geert the jerk.... HO HO.

One man's experience.