The fundraiser and subsequent building of Joe's shed was amazing. With a few mornings of light snow which melted in the afternoon, we knew time was at hand to get the job done before the Big Snow came. 1917 Lumber gave us a discount for lumber. Joe said he wanted metal roofing for the shed because of the high winds that blast through there. I prayed about "where will we get that?" At the end of the day, before I spoke of this dilemma, I got on Facebook and someone I had never met before asked, "My husband just brought home some metal roofing from a job. Could you use some?" Of course!
Kim Hutchison, VFW Post Commander, designed the shed and began building it in parts to be assembled. He needed help with lifting, so the shop class at Joseph Charter School, led by teacher Tobey Koehn showed up.
Those kids were so cute! Under Kim's watchful eye, one would call "LIFT!" and in unison they carried it to the shed site. Before they left, they gathered around Joe and called, "Semper Fi!" for this photo. Thanks!
Kim had helpers and they got it just about done when we needed shingles to put on the ramp so Joe wouldn't slip. I posted on Wallowa County Free Classifieds FB page "ISO- Shingles" and in 40 minutes another veteran notified me that he had them and would drop them off. Thanks Roger!
We could not have done this without our donors:
Stewart Jones Designs George Hill
Janie Tippett Anonymous
Goodrich Family Duane & Caroline Rueb
Gloria LaBolle Sandi Richerson
Barbara Childs Ken Brown
Charles & Mary Johnson Sara Jane Williamson
Lynn Wolf Long Maxine Stone & Rob Hager
Betty Cosgrove Shannon McNerney
Terrie Everts Marcia & John Raines
Bill Cunningham Joni Herb
Anonymous Diana Tryall
Divide Camp Deborah Stubblefield
Sarrah Crist Teresa Hubert
Kathy McGuire Anonymous
VFW Post 4307 1917 Lumber
Clay Claypool Roger McGee
Joseph Charter School shop class
Tobey Koehn Roger Curtis
Yall stepped up to the plate and I hope you enjoy being a part of something good, for without your financial support, this would not have happened.
Kim is now in the shed-building business, so call him (541-263-2077) if you'd like a storage shed or garden shed. Whatever you need, I'm confident he can design and build it.
Of course, any job needs supervisors. Clyde and Petey offered Support Services...
A BIG THANKS TO EVERYONE! This is why I love living in Wallowa County. We all get to do things like this and do it well.
SHE HAD HIS SIX
by Katherine Stickroth©
“She’s yours, not mine”
He was gruff to say
Of the pup squirming in my arms
But she won him over
With soft brown eyes
Her honesty was her charm
A cellophane pop
The grab of his cap
It was time to have a smoke
She stood at the door
To the sacred porch
Then she gave his leg a poke
How often I gazed
Through the curtained glass
At the two who were now a pair
Not a word was said
Not a move was made
But I saw the thousand yard stare
Without a sound
He told her of
The Hueys that swarmed like bees
The tracers of light
The ear-numbing booms
The blood, the cries and the screams
“We didn’t have friends.
Just ‘Buddy’ would do”
He told his little girl
She wiggled her tail
And nudged his hand
His fingers would then unfurl
By then I ran
To the kitchen sink
Pretending I didn’t know
She was on his six
In the places where
His wife was forbidden to go
And now he lies
On a hospice bed
Agent Orange counts the rise of his chest
She nuzzles his hand
On top of her head
Too soon is his final breath
She had his six
Like no one did
He was safe with her along
His little girl dog
Her mission complete
She trailed him all the way home.
We have met success in our fundraising for Joe Lewellyn's shed. Construction has begun with the shed being built in sections in a shop by other veterans. Project should be up and assembled by end of next week. I couldn't be more pleased.
Both of my brothers are veterans. I was texting with one of them, his name coincidentally "Joe," and he thanked me for helping with veterans. "You should have joined the military," he said. Joe was Army and served in Iraq, Bosnia and Afghanistan.
"I came close," I replied. "Was lined out for a full ride ROTC scholarship and I bailed out. Long story." I started laughing, remembering something else.
My first husband, Nick, was a Major in the National Guard. I ran a tight ship in our household with two boys. Add a large dose of bossiness, plus my ability to out- argue him, and he'd complain, "Man, you'd make a great Drill Sergeant in my Company."
I continued with my brother Joe, "My being the oldest of six kids trained me to be a good squad leader."
That brought a big LOL out of him. Probably because he was on the receiving end of much of that.
With the deadline of August 31 approaching to reach our $2000 goal for Joe's shed, I thought I'd share a little background on this story...
I met Joe in early November 2016. Word had gotten 'round that I enjoyed helping veterans. After introducing himself, he said, "I want one of those chairs Bill O'Reilly helps out with." Since I don't have a TV or watch news, I asked him to describe it.
Within a few words, I realized what he wanted.
"Oh," I said, "An Ac...tion Track Chair?"
"Yes. I want one of those."
My mind locked on "Where could I find a charity that gives one of those to veterans?" I began with Bill O'Reilly's website, of course, but that was only a start. Within a few clicks, the Independence Fund page came up.
After a brief review, I said, "Joe, it looks like there's an organization in North Carolina that could give you one."
"What do we have to do?'
"I'm not sure. Let me give them a call."
With Joe sitting nearby, I called the Independence Fund and quite frankly, tried to quell my excitement. Joe qualified on every point- it seemed to good to be true.
I hung up the phone. "Joe, it sounds like this could happen for you." I tried to restrain my thrill with cautiousness, for in my experience with veterans over the years, they've been promised so much, with so little to come of it, I didn't want to over-promise and under-deliver.
"What do we have to do?"
"Let's get going with the online application. We can save it until you return with your DD214 and VA rating documents. I'll scan them and we'll send them in with the application."
As he powerchaired up the sidewalk, I was impressed that the encounter with Joe and interaction with the Independence Fund had gone so easy.
"Who is this guy? I wondered. I prayed, "God, if this can work out for this veteran, just this once, please make it so."
Joe appeared the next day with his paperwork. We completed the application, and I clicked SEND.
With that done, Joe began to tell me a little about himself.
He was a drummer in bands that played up and down the West Coast. The frequency of his mentioning his mother revealed he had been very close to her.
He was a Marine and was in Vietnam 1967-1968. "I was at Khe Sahn," he said, looking down, then away.
I was somewhat familiar with that look, that gesture. Two words can invoke such time travel, though the veteran is sitting across the table from me.
Khe Sahn. I was 10 years old at the time. Oblivious to what the Vietnam War was about. But Joe's faraway look spoke volumes. When my Vietnam veteran husband Richard would meet another Vietnam veteran and a certain Southeast Asia location was mentioned, they both would drop their shoulders, look down, each palming a cigarette and talk in low voices. I would back up, giving them the space they needed for something I knew nothing about. I didn't belong in that. I cared. But I didn't belong. I was only to wait.
I still have not looked up the battle of Khe Sahn. Because this effort about the Track Chair and now the shed, is not about what happened back then. It's about welcoming someone home at a different time, a different place, and it being okay. Today.
At least it is for me.
(To be continued...)
To donate to Joe's shed, visit gofundme.com/keep-joe-rolling.
I laughed when I finally figured out what IMHO means- In My Humble Opinion. Mostly because in the past my opinions weren't humble- I expected people to agree and act accordingly.
Well, my friendship circle has increased exponentially to the degree I keep my mouth shut. Even my kids like me now
One of the things I like about living in Wallowa County is that most people DO keep their opinions to themselves. Militant opinion-giving fractures relationships. For our survival here, we need to be interdependent and rely on each other as needed. So slinging opinions is not helpful.
However, once a person gets to know the Wallowa County vibe, she can easily read unspoken opinions.
For instance, there is a long-running debate about the potholes in Joseph. The city says there's no money, that even if grants were written, we wouldn't get them.
I've come up with a plan that would easily get the streets paved...
Each year Cycle Oregon comes to Joseph, route them away from the highway, but strategically through the streets of Joseph. They would be so annoyed at the damage to their expensive bicycles, they would grant us money to pave them. Once one street is paved, the next year we can move them over to another street. Street by street, it could be done
That's how Joseph can benefit from tourism dollars.
But then, I think I just gave my opinion.
After such a bleak winter, these little rays of sunshine poked up from the soil once relieved of the snow.
It amazes me that anything survives such hard winters, but on my hikes and visits with wildflowers, those which grow in the most desolate of places at those whose colors are more vibrant, whose fragrance is ambrosial.
When atop Mt Howard after a ride on the Tram, I see yellow daisies only 1" high, tucked on the lee side of a small mountain stone. It's shorter than its valley cousin, yet brighter.
At the Hells Canyon Overlook on the loop ad, that desert stone ground produces Indian Paintbrush blossoms, rich with vermillion radiance.
But before we were blessed with wildflowers now carpeting our favorite places, these little guys, the glacier lilies, brought hope that things were going to improve.
And they are.
" I think of those who, at recruitment or draft, write their name on a form as they register. They sign their name to a blank check that may require their very lives at time of redemption. Whether driven to the military by patriotism, duty or poverty, their signatures confirm a commitment that others can't or won't make.
A grateful patriot says, "Thank you."
I think of those who returned in silence, who weren't welcomed home, who mentally haven't taken their uniforms off because the wars rage on in their heads, still today.
A grateful patriot stands today with open arms and says, "Welcome home."
I think of those buried on foreign ground or in a hometown cemetery, with small American flags marking their graves, remembered by the others who served.
A grateful patriot says, "God, be with their families."
I think of veterans gathered at the Wallowa County Courthouse Memorial Day at noon who remember their comrades, with trumpeters echoing "Taps" while a few miles up the road American citizens are enjoying a day off from work. BBQ's and family reunions, fishing at the lake or camping- many don't "get" that the freedom to play this weekend comes from those willing to commit their lives through military service.
A grateful patriot says, "Freedom isn't free."
I think of my husband, Richard, who passed away from a
This grateful patriot wipes a tear from her eye.
It's been many, many years. Perhaps even 20. But something has happened that might indicate my mojo is back.
Back then I had shelves of blooming African Violets that I so enjoyed. My grandmother taught me how to start them from a leaf, how to water them (don't let water touch any leaves) and how to pinch off dead blossoms. I had a variety of colors, no two alike. And I would start some to give to friends.
After moving to Montana, the dry air and/or different lighting did not prove conducive to growing these flowers. A large part of being homesick was missing my violets.
A return to Mississippi six years later held the hope of growing African violets again. Nada. Grandmom tried to help me, but still no plants. So it wasn't the air or the lighting after all. It seemed that I had lost my touch and was very disappointed. Successfully growing them was a connection to my grandmother. We shared a deep bond throughout our lives.
Only a couple of months ago, I accepted with trepidation the gift of the above pictured plant from my friend Carolyn Dawson. Just leaves, tired from the long winter. On the way home I practiced my apology for the anticipated demise of this little treasure.
I entered the kitchen the other morning and found this:
"Oh! You're here!" I exclaimed. (Yes, I talk to my plants.)
They are thriving and my confidence is returning. I have experienced a lot of losses over the past 20 years, including Grandmom in 2004. I have often wondered if the energy of that sadness was affecting my relationships with violets. Since I've been living in Wallowa County, not distracted with family matters during this chapter of my life, I spend time letting go of old ideas and unfinished grief. And of all things, these little darlings are indicating my mojo has returned.
I couldn't be happier.
(I don't know the exact meaning of "mojo." I've heard the term often used in the context of "back in my game" or "return of positive energy" or "open again to good things." Whatever...it feels good!)
I admire my daughters-in-law immensely. These gals have three children: 2 boys and 1 girl, each. Each family has its own dynamic, operating on its own determined energy level.
One daughter-in-law has two boys, 16 months apart in age, who are 5 years old and 4, respectively.
I sent her this card for Mother's Day...
I realized this was more like a sympathy card, for I had raised two boys myself. However, my parenting days aren't over, for I am pet-mother to this little guy:
Anyone have any clothespins?
UNDAUNTED- not disheartened; not faltering or hesitating because of fear or discouragement; undismayed; intrepid.
Some other Wallowa Gals and I ate lunch at Mamacita's in La Grande, and I asked the waitress, "Show me your tattoo?"
I don't remember her name, but she's an EOU student. I smiled and told her I was proud of her.
Women around the world are undaunted, yet Wallowa Gals especially so. Our strength, courage and resiliency are manifested daily. School girls who overcome bullying. Young women who pursue a dream with a college education. Married women of all ages who hold the family together during storms of illness, addiction and alcoholism. Women who work outside the home. Women who stay at home with the harder job of being present to raise children. Women who do both. Women who fight and overcome breast cancer. Other women who support them. Women who volunteer in their area of interests and make positive things happen. Women in agriculture who run ranches or farms. Who support their spouse in high production yields and crop failures. The aging wife who is a caregiver for her ailing husband who now has dementia.
In the midst of this, a Wallowa Gal enjoys a luminescent rainbow after a storm. She finds a buttercup shining next to her woodpile. She talks to a chirping robin while she hangs her laundry on the line. She enjoys a picnic with another Wallowa Gal, then rushes back to her responsibilities. She gardens and shares her flowers and vegetables with the elderly. She finds time to quietly read a book when the children and husband are napping.
When I sit along Wallowa River where tumbled rocks obstruct the river's course, the mountain waters continue to flow around it. I recognize the spirit of any Wallowa Gal who holds the power of love and life and accomplishments while surging around any difficulty. Not because she necessarily wants to.
But because she can...
A 50-something woman comes home to a place she's never been before.