Memorial Day: Remembering my Aunt, a WAC & American Legion Post 746 Commander, Corning, NY

my Aunt Madeline in the army…a WAC during World War II, Women’s Army Corp

this is a lighter with the etching Past Commander on it; I photoshopped it to make the writing stand out

Memorial Day

Today is a day my Aunt Madeline was always busy. She was at the cemetery, a parade, or veteran’s event and arrived late to our holiday barbecues. I never went with her to these events and that is sad for me now, she is gone almost 20 years.

My aunt served in WW2, she was a WAC in Rome, mNY. A WAC was a member of the Women’s Army Corps during World War II.

My aunt, Madeline Austin Castellino, was very involved in the Corning American Legion and I did go there with her. Once a year, at hunting season, she made a large venison dinner for the men at the legion. My sister and I went and helped her a few times. It was, from what I can see now, through a kaleidoscope of pots, pans, lettuce heads and napkins, a huge undertaking for one woman to orchestrate, but she seemed to enjoy doing it.

The most significant thing to me is that my aunt became the first woman Commander of the American Legion in Corning NY. Go Aunt Madeline, wherever you are. My Aunt was a doer and she honored the people who served, suffered, and died to live here and keep it, the US.

There is a line that Tom Hanks, playing Captain Miller, says at the end of saving private ryan that I find haunts me occasionally because of the things I take for granted. Hank’s character is dying, he is one of many that went into Europe to find and send home the only son left of an American mother named Mrs. Ryan. Hanks last words to Private Ryan: EARN THIS RYAN, EARN THIS!

It’s late Aunt Madeline, but I’m beginning to get it.



I think that I would rath…

Arthur Baker Miami horseshoes 1942

Poem by Arthur W. Baker, circa 1942, Miami Florida

I think that I would rather die

Than lose the sight of my other eye
Oh, terrible thought Oh! what would I do
If I well not be able to pitch the horse shoe

One eye is gone, but still I can see
for the good Lord, had once given two eyes to me
and as long as it’s only one that’s bereft
I’m thankful indeed, for the one that is left

So cheer up, and don’t let yourself down
For I still can find  my way around town
And as long as I have a good arm and leg
I think I’ll be able, to still find the peg

And as long as I still am awake
The game of horseshoes and stake
with busted bubble and all my troubles
I still hope to pitch a lots lot of doubles

So this is the story of Bake
Half blind but still sees the stake
with five gritty fingers
he still throws the ringers
all comer’s he’s willing to take.

my notes;  Today, I set up at a local flea market.  I basically took things I had tried to sell two years ago at a rummage sale.  I had so much success with my first rummage sale 30 years ago that I haven’t given up hope that it could all happen again.  I could sell everything and make a $100.  Today I sold next to nothing and made $22 minus the $10 set up fee.  Don’t give up your day job.

I enjoy rummage…not so much for the actual purchases I make, but for all the possibilities.  I see things people have created then and now and I think how wondrous the human mind is to  take materials and design things useful or fun.

In the course of my preparing for today’s rummage, I went through some old photographs. They were passed on to my Aunt from Great Uncle Joe who died in the 1960s.  When I came across this picture and poem it occurred to me that this  photo and poem bears witness to the fact that Arthur W Baker lived.  Like many of the things I saw at the flea market, a point in time and something that remains of the day.


Post from Phoebe…written 1/11/2012, retrieved today…

Now that Spring is here, our puppies have grown big…much bigger than the little Macadew in the header. I found this post from Phoebe, our boxer who died suddenly, with no warning, in November. We really miss that gentle giant…

Dear Macadew and Moby:

So you are who I picked to take care of them. I just couldn’t watch them look so sad, it being the holidays and all. They’d open the door and look for me and well, you know. Then in the morning Ram had no one to talk to, I knew I had to do something when I heard him saying Man Doga to himself and trying to whistle to classical music at 6:30am. He is a lot of fun to be around,

photograph of our Boxer Phoebe among the daisies
Phoebe 2011 among the daisies

you’ll see. His bark is much worse than his bite, metaphor of course, he doesn’t bite. The initial training is rough, I see he even got Claire into it…he was complete Alpha when I grew up. Claire is a marshmallow when it comes to pups, but it’s him that’s really going to teach you how to be disciplined so you can be loved and loved. I miss him a lot, Claire and I spent a lot of walk time together, but let me tell you, when the last hour came, guess who was with me. I miss him so and you are going to have the time of your life…so let the drum beats roll.

A few tips:

you are going to see more cooked egg yolks in your first year than you thought possible on the planet. Don’t feel obligated to eat them all.

If you are going to break into the paper garbage to retrieve a sub wrapper, try not to spill all the other papers out, they are not too much into that mess.

Its cold in the back room, puppy train early so you can cuddle up by the stove all night.

They like yoga…lay flat on your back, feet straight up in the air, and you will get some good tummy rubs. I see you are already getting the hang of this Moby.

Now, listen. I picked you because your Mom’s name was Pippa (the name of a famous young Miss in Britain) and because she was so sweet!! I saw you sitting in your cube that day at the SPCA and thought I hope they get there by 12 to check you out, sure enough, almost to the nose. At first it looked like it was just going to be you, Moby, but Claire really wanted two and when Ram said “oh the brindle is pretty,” well, I just had to engineer things in that direction.

Not many humanoids in favor of you being adopted together, but I guess Claire and Ram calculate that with all the other crazy things happening in the world: bombs exploding on people’s backs, nuclear power plant explosions, earthquakes, and well, fracking, shucks, what’s wrong with two people who love animals and nature and are disciplined, giving two sweet little pups a home, or at least a try for one.

Plus they are reading a lot and asking many questions which can really help. You be good boys, mind your manners.

Oh and I’ll be watching from my new mission, too dangerous to disclose, but I’m closer than you think.

copyright claireaperez



Energy paused

There is an energy around the earth that may be real or simply my perception induced by too much frenetic time on Internet gadgets.

The energy feels heavy, like I felt years ago when hungover. It also feels fast, one minute I’m watching red wing blackbirds chase each other over the pond, and within 60 minutes I’m watching a powerful thunderstorm steamroll to our house.

In between those two moments, I focused my camera on this flowering tree. It was so peaceful catching the light and looking at the solid rocks underneath the tree. The energy felt still and ordered.


a blueberry pancake, a parking lot, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, and The Target Store

This is what happened. Me and Jonathan Livingston Seagull was just about to eat a blueberry pancake in the parking lot at the mall. Two women in separate cars came driving right toward us. I wanted to scoop the pancake up in my beak and bring it to my buddies, squawking over head. I just couldn’t get it situated right in my beak and the darn thing fell to the ground as me and Jonathan were lifting off to avoid the two women rushing to the Target.

It was kind of sad what happened next, the little car drove right over that delicious pancake. Smashed it to bits. We went back after the damage was done but could only retrieve a few of the blueberries.

Hey, I know you probably look at us like a nuisance when you are aiming for the red dot, so focused, driving yourselves into oblivion. But can’t you remember ladies, we gots to eat too. And it is so rare we dig up a blueberry pancake in the parking lot, couldn’t you have just slowed down a second or two for us to get a good grip.

as told to me by my husband who would have written it differently: consumers on their way to consume disregard for hungry gulls.