A daily record of gratitude; from quilting to photography to a mix of technology, books, movies and the musings of life!

Welcome to my Blog of my daily gratitude and photo of the day!

Since January 1, 2012, my goal is to write a daily sentence or two (or paragraph or two) about gratitude of the day and to include one photo (at least) that I took that day (but will add others from time to time). It has definitely been a challenge most days throughout the past eight years, and welcomed the challenge again this year - 2020 - Covid and all. I hope you will continue the ride with me!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Kelley’s Island 2018

One of my happy places -Kelley’s Island,Ohio, and race (running) weekend. Hoping for good weather on Ohio’s Northcoast. Cheers to rekindled friendships, Lake Erie perch and awesome sunsets over the Lake!



Tomoff Family at The Pump. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Southern Comforters Quilt Guild's Anniversary

My quilt guild celebrated 36 years of Southern Comforters tonight. We also celebrated our friendships through fabric, sewing and quilting education and our prolific outreach programs with community quilts. One cool thing about this night, is the "raffle" of the Anniversary quilt, made by last year's winner (though typically involves most members making some of the blocks). And...tonight, that quilt was won by Frank Rucky! He said he is the first male in our guild to win it, and he is righto! The quilt's name: Amethyst, Emerald and Sapphire - Four Patch X

Frank Rucky with his New Anniversary Quilt!


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Kids Riding Bicycles

My photo today reflects on a great pastime for kids (and all adults who love to be kids...again!), as simply riding a bike, especially with friends. That wind in your hair, and hopefully, that wind at your back is such a great feeling, exhilarating, really. Are we seeing this activity much anymore on our local streets and neighborhoods? The riders I see are typically adults riding road bikes and are wearing matching kits. So, good on these young girls riding together in the neighborhood - most likely, for fun. Now that is something to be thankful for!


Monday, May 28, 2018

USA Military - Thank You!

To the men and women in uniform all over the globe, past, present and future, who "gave" their life keeping our shores safe, we collectively say: THANK YOU! And, though we have our "problems", of course, that freedom is not lost on living in the greatest country on Earth!

BSoleille! The bright side of grit, valor and ingenuity...


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Memorial Weekend 2018

Sun, humidity, lightning and rolling thunderstorms were just as fast and furious as the soccer playing at The Columbia Soccer Tournament in Columbia, Maryland. However, due to the big late afternoon storms rustling through the area (rescue crews were sent in not far from the fields in Elliott City), our later games were cut short or not played at all. 

However, I’m thankful for the chance to referee with my buddy Julie Whittington, where we are assigned to do 16 games before the "end" of the weekend, but we shall see. 

Here’s hoping a good kickoff to the summer, despite all the crazy weather in a lot of areas across the land. It’s got to get better with blue skies and sunny days ahead, I’m convinced it’s in our future(s). 



Today’s crew: Nick, Julie, me and Tom

Friday, May 25, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - Dr. Robert Ord

Over the past two years, I have blogged about my son, Ryan, and his issues with tongue cancers in 2016/2017. The very doctor that performed the surgeries and continues to care for him is Dr. Robert Ord of the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.

As you may know, Dr. Ord specializes in surgical oncology of the head and neck (basically manages tumors of said areas), and has written over 100 scientific papers plus over 40 books and chapters regarding Oral Cancers (Maxillofacial surgeon). He is a "rock star" in his field and has trained hundreds, if not thousands of dentists, throughout his illustrious career. Last time I checked, his resume was 37 pages long...just saying (and this guy is the humblest guy around!)

But, what makes this Scottish man tick? He loves his work and making a difference in peoples' lives, that's for sure, but what drives him? So, at a recent appointment (all good); he said his family makes him proud and inspired, and currently has an "international" marriage; as his wife lives in Scotland (she likes the education system there where their daughter attends school, and they make it work for them. He also has two sons from a previous marriage that he adores, each with their own fantastic careers.

In his "free time", he loves to fly fish (but, alas, doesn't tie his own flies...); loves to watercolor paint, and, besides all the medical journals, papers and books he "has" to write, is currently writing a horror novel. Now, that one got me...a horror novel? I bet it will be a good read once he's done writing it because he does everything, from what I can tell, top notch! Move over Stephen King and Dean Koontz!

BSoleille! The bright side of celebrating others with Dr. Robert Ord!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


On the road to lifting the Stanley Cup, the Caps clenched a 4-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight and won the Eastern Conference Championship! Wooohoooo!!! We are very excited here in Washington D.C, and in my home as well. The entire team showed know-how and grit on a new level, and star player, Alex Ovechkin played with skill and will and never let up all three periods. As a captain, he certainly lifted his players to play at the highest level they are capable of and secured the win with a bonafide "blow-out", as Tampa really never had the chance, let's "face" it!

It's back to business with the next round against the inaugural team: Las Vegas Golden Knights. If you are a hockey fan, I know you will be watching all the action in this fast paced and exciting game. It's been 20 years since the last run at the Cup (1998 - as the Caps were swept by the Detroit Redwings in four. I was lucky to attend the fourth game and was, of course, disappointed in the sweep!). So, Let's Rock the Red in 2018!!!

BSoleille! The bright side of playoff hockey!


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Amazon vs. Brick and Mortar

I don't mind shopping, of course, when "everything" I need is in stock. But how about when it's not? In the past two weeks I attempted to shop for a couple of things in brick and mortar stores, and both times, came up empty handed with what I wanted. Today, I went "hunting" for Terro Liquid Ant Baits, and the three stores I went to were all sold out of their inventory. I guess with all the rain we've had, everyone is battling the same marching ants in their homes as well (and ants are not my type of pets)!

So following these excursions, and once back in my vehicle, I immediately opened up my phone to the Amazon App and bought what I "needed", which took a total time of one (1) minute. My items will be delivered tomorrow; and, really, how easy was that?! Why don't I shop like that more is what I kept asking myself on the drive home? Well, after today, Amazon will now be my "go to" store from now on...except for groceries (l like to pick out my tomatoes, thank you very much) and shoes (I need to try on multiple pairs because even at a perfect 8.5 shoe size, I may still need an eight or a nine).

BSoleille! Amazon...a major retail disrupter...


Monday, May 21, 2018

Greenest May

We all know April showers bring May flowers, but what happens when we have May showers for 10 days straight? We do have the flowers for sure, but it's got to be one of the greenest May's on record for the state of Maryland. The grass needs to be cut every other day, and everything green seems like it's "glowing." Thankful that the sun was shining today and the yard is finally drying out a bit.


Sunday, May 20, 2018


Raise your hand if you throw "caution to the wind" and just dump the salsa on the chips, and then eat it as "soup?' Dipping is okay, but I like to crack the chips in the bowl with a spoon, then dump some salsa on top and viola', yumminess that takes no time at all. It's also a great way to use up all those small pieces at the bottom of the bag too.

BSoleille! The bright side of an easy snack...

Saturday, May 19, 2018

A "Justified" Royal Wedding...

What a day for entertainment, beginning with the Royal Wedding at Windsor Castle. A fairy tale, or so it seemed, for Prince Harry and Megan Markle including a beautiful sunny day (this week we swapped our usual sunny May weather with England's rain!). A big shout of thanks to Janet McCabe who hosted a Royal watch party beginning at 5:00am (I got there by 6:20am). She made several delicious British food items and had champagne to toast the happy couple. A spectacular morning shared with good friends on this happy occasion along with millions around the world. Fire and Love...and more LOVE is what's it's all about according to Preacher Curry! I loved the gospel choir and the kids in the wedding party...they "almost" stole the show, ha!

And, can Justify get into the record books and become a "Triple Crown Winner" after today's Preakness win? I certainly hope so.


Hats and gloves were optional...

Enjoying a spot of tea 

Friday, May 18, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - Girl Scout Silver Award Winner: Madelyne Triplett

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about helping out with a local Girl Scout Silver Award Project with Madelyne Triplett in making pillowcases for University of Maryland Pediatrics/Child Life (and note: almost 200 pillowcases have been made to date). I loved that a 13 year old girl was trying to make a difference in young pediatric patient lives. So, I followed up with Madelyne, and her Mom, Erin, to see what else this amazing home-schooled young teen is also involved with and what exactly makes her "tick."

An only child, Madelyne has been a Girl Scout for eight years with her Mom as troop leader. She is also a member of The Young Women's Group, which is like the Girl Scouts but with a spiritual bent under the Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints church fellowship program.

Interestingly, the idea of practical pillowcases came about in January when she went with her parents to the University of Maryland Children's Hospital to deliver memory boxes for parents who had lost newborns and infants. Madelyne, along with her parents, are also members of Chesapeake Bay Decorative Painters (CBDP). This group paints and decorates memory boxes and gives them to the parents for them to hold their children's hair clippings, booties, hair clips, or an item of clothing in remembrance of their lost child. I believe this is a significant and powerful message to each parent who receives one that there are people who truly care about them and their children, including Madelyne and her parents. 

And with Madelyne being community minded and working on her idea for the Girl Scout Silver Award, she knew she wanted to help children going through tough times. It was an easy decision when her Mom got in touch with the Child Life Department to ask what need could she/they fulfill. Clean, fresh, novelty pillowcases was the need and a perfect project for Madelyne to take on - bar none!

This teal loving young lady who loves to ride her bike after she is finished with her schoolwork, scouts, and painting, also loves watching Dr. Who and anything Star Wars. She is a whiz at math, which is a good thing since it's her favorite subject to study; and she is also an animal lover with a menagerie of three. Madelyne also is an avid maker of beaded jewelry like bracelets and necklaces, which she has given away to family and friends as gifts, but someday, has sights on selling her wares. I don't doubt this teenager is going places!

BSoleille! The bright side of celebrating others with Madelyne!

Ms. Madelyne with Squabbler the cat; Scooter the hamster and and Ada the blind dog 
Madelyne and her Dad painting memory boxes

Silver Award Pillow Case Project

Madelyne and her drawing

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Throw Back Tooth Thursday

Can throwback Thursday be from two weeks ago when I got a "black" tooth fixed and repaired? However, the actual tooth turned dark after a "bungled" root canal when I was 17 years old...so that's the "true" throwback, if you will. If you know me personally, maybe you've noticed the tooth, the one that turned very dark in the last 10 years, on my bottom left (bottom right for everyone else!). For the past 40 years I vacillated whether or not I should "whiten" it or get a veneer, but the last 10 years it has really changed. So except for highlights in my blonde locks...I never had even a professional manicure/pedicure, so I finally made the decision to go for it. I am glad I did.

My Maryland dentist and friend, Jennifer Castle DDS, did a fabulous job in helping me select the correct veneer and did a superb job in making that tooth, and ultimately, my smile, a nice one once again. I am very grateful that I took the leap...and it didn't hurt one bit in prepping the tooth for the veneer installation.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Pollen and Four-Leaf Clovers

Spring is eking out all over the place, especially yellow pollen that is insidious (keep the windows closed until it's done, and that's a bummer because we need the fresh air...but not tainted in yellow!). I see many folks battling the sneezing and coughing and it's a thing for sure. But where there is pollen, there are flowers blooming all over too, as well as four-leaf clovers! While taking a walk around my neighborhood, I stopped to talk to a neighbor who spotted the clover with four leaves, bent down, picked it out of the hundreds in the grass and handed it to me. Very sweet!



Monday, May 14, 2018

CAPS! CAPS! CAPS! Road to the Stanley Cup!

"They" say that Washington is too transient for die hard fans of their sports teams, and I vehemently disagree with that statement. Between the Redskins (NFL), Nationals (MLB) and Capitals (NHL), I'd say there are rabid fans amongst those said tribes. Of course, the excitement this week goes to the Washington Capitals as they attempt to capture the Eastern Conference Championship, a feat that has not happened in 20 years! Say it ain't so, and hard to believe it's been 20 years since they made it past the second round of Stanley Cup playoffs. B-E-A-T Tampa Bay!!!

I've been a big fan of hockey my whole life, starting when my father took me to Cleveland Baron games in the 1970's. And then, never missing a hockey game while attending Bowling Green State University in the early 1980's where they won the National Championship in 1984. So it was a natural fit for me (and entire family) to become a Washington Capital's fan upon moving to the area in 1996 (and great that my husband worked for the organization then to boot, or should I say, skate?).

I'd like to dedicate this post to all the fans who have supported this team, warts and all, for the past 20 years. That means attending games, gulping pride when they never made it out of the second round but still cheering them on anyway, and intensely watching the games on TV (which may have included screaming at that said TV). Believe me, there is nothing quite like playoff hockey. It's fast as lightning, the ice is slicker than a jar of eels, and the teams play at a whole "new level." Let's also include that the hitting is harder than regular season play, plus the crazy passion that oozes out of each and every player on the ice at any given time. I highly recommend tuning into the games this week, fan or not, because you will be amazed at the intensity and spirit of Stanley Cup playoff ice hockey! And just maybe, you may become of fan of the game too!

BSoleille! The bright side of Washington Capital's hockey!


Big Fan Ryan with TJ Oshie

My favs: Vrana; Orlov and Kuznetsov and me


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Happy Mother’s Day 2018

Cheers to all the Mom’s out in the world who mother everyone else and keep the world spinning and in check. And as celebrations take place in homes and restaurants, please stop and reflect on how wonderful our families and friends we nurture on a daily basis truly are. Blessed is a great word to use on a special day for all of us!

So as some moms would like to be pampered (and why not?!), I will be "slugging" it out in the Bronx with 75% of my family (missing "the best daughter"), and 80% of the McCarthy family (missing Robert) by cheering on the Yankees!

Yesterday’s game went to 11 innings with an exciting finish of a walk off single for a hometown win, so I wonder what’s in store for game 2 for this weekend baseball trip?

Well, the rain delay didn’t damper our spirits, but did damper the time spent in the Big Apple. We made the decision to not wait out the delay and drive home instead, but still had an incredible time with visiting our good friends; the McCarthys, a large part of it walking around the stadium and taking in the tradition of baseball, New York style.

BSoleille! The bright side of Mother’s Day!
My photos encompass today, the Yankees win yesterday and my mom and sisters Kimberly/Annette taken today in Cleveland, Ohio.

Bridget, MaryJean, Ryan, Ellen, Katherine, me, Bill and Bob
Bill and I with Ryan who "planned" the whole trip...and the games
MaryJean buying Ryan "bacon on a stick" or, more aptly, "slab of pork on a pole" MJM
Capturing the walk of single for the win in the 11th inning over Oakland A's

Mom Sophie and Kimberly

Mom and Annette

Friday, May 11, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - Danielle Eichner - New Mama to Be!

We all know it is Mother’s Day weekend, and I am here to wish all the Moms, new moms, grandmas, aunts and sisters a very happy Mother’s Day! But today I am thrilled to write about a very special young lady who is expecting her first (and miraculous at that!) baby in a few short weeks: Danielle Eichner, a new mommy to be.
It’s all very exciting you see, because Danielle is not the "average" pregnant woman, well, she is, but she has a history of being a childhood cancer survivor.  The fact she is pregnant (and very pregnant right now), still tickles and thrills her, along with her husband, Nathan, and their entire family. I’m not sure the "shock" has worn off completely (her assessment), but she and Nathan are completely ready to welcome their baby very soon.
Danielle was almost 12 years old when diagnosed with ALL (acute lymphoblastic leukemia) - T-cell and high risk) on July 19, 1996. All her treatment, including cranial radiation, was at Georgetown University Hospital. Danielle and her family were one out of the four families we met going through treatment at around the same time, and became very close, and still are 20 years later! 

Danielle battled her cancer from the ages of 12-15 years of age, and spent most of that time OUT of school, missing her 7th, 8th and 9th grade years. She was thankful to return in the 10th grade, but clicks were formed by then, and she lost connections with her school-mates from middle school; a sobering fact of childhood cancer survivors. Gratefully, Danielle found lasting friendships when she got involved with camp, specifically, Special Love, Inc. The friends and counselors she met there helped fill that void, and she has found true friendships she continues to cherish today. Danielle and Nathan are also ardent volunteers at Camp Fantastic and other events spread throughout the year under the SL umbrella.

It’s amazing that Danielle forged on and graduated from High School in 2002, then went on to pursue her dreams by going to college and earning her undergraduate degree in graphic design at MICA (Maryland Institute College of Art), and then earning her Masters in Art Therapy at The School of Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). Interestingly, Danielle always enjoyed art, especially working with Tracy’s Kids while undergoing treatment at Georgetown; probably never thinking she would be working for Tracey’s Kids today at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore as an Art Therapist. But by the time Danielle graduated from high school, she was sick of anything related to cancer including thinking of working with sick kids like she was. Fate has other things in store for all of us….Including Danielle.

Danielle always felt that Art Therapy was a way of "letting go", and she loved creating something greater than what was actually going on with her and her treatment. But once she realized that she wanted to connect back to her "roots", and become a bona fide Art Therapist, she found it was the most logical choice for her because Art Therapy allowed her to utilize her degree, and now, work with sick kids she knew at this time she could help and relate to on a daily basis. She actually began her career as an Art Therapist, and built the program in seven years, at Advocate Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Illinois. While living and working in Chicago, her younger sister, Rachel, played "matchmaker" on Rachel’s 21st birthday, and introduced Danielle to Nathan. 

It was love and first sight…and the rest is history. They married in 2016 and moved back to the Washington/Baltimore region to pursue their respective careers in Graphic Design (Nathan) and Art Therapy (Danielle). They are now expecting a brand new baby! How-How (h/t - hat tip to Special Love).

This roller derby wanna-be, who, today, loves the color water melon pink (she says she changes her favorite color a lot), grew up in a family of five, two older sisters and a younger brother and sister. Her parents are Tom (an artist himself) and Marilyn (a retired nurse) Eichner! 

Lastly, beside the miracle growing inside her, she is inspired by the people who make up Special Love and Camp Fantastic. She remarked that when she became a camp counselor years ago she realized that she had so much to share and give back and learned the duality of being the patient/then counselor and finally acknowledging and accepting her relationship of being a cancer survivor. Now that is truly something to be thankful for and celebrate!

Bsoleille! The bright side of a "miracle" pregnancy and baby to be!


Photos of Danielle and Nathan

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Bicycles - The Balance of Life

I recently made a T-shirt quilt for a customer, and while we discussed her quilt and the T-shirts she brought me to use (all different with no theme that I could detect), she requested that I use bicycle fabric for the borders. Sounds innocent enough, right? But let's go deeper, and check out once again that there are shirts from all parts of her life; including two pancreatic cancer shirts; an Oriole shirt, a Brittany Spaniel shirt and a couple beach shirts from North Carolina. A few others rounded out the number I need to make a "rectangle" quilt, and a smaller "throw" quilt at that.

But when my customer repeated that she would like bicycles, I must have given her a "quizzical" look, and then, the ah ha moment materialized; bicycles bring balance to her life! I about cried at that moment, and said, "yes", I truly get the symbolism. It really blew me away, and wanted to share this little moment of humanity with you because I thought it was awesome!

BSoleille! The bright side of: bicycles...the balance of life.


Tuesday, May 8, 2018

A Dark Hallway and No Wall Outlet

We have lived in our rancher home for over 20 years with our two dark hallways (one hallway with one step down), and no outlets in sight for a nightlight. We've "managed" somehow without anything to light our way in darkness, though a hallway light can be flicked on with no problem, except that blinding light in the middle of the night. And, I must admit, my mother-in-law took a big spill off the step many years ago, and my husband tripped going up recently, so the time has come to figure something out with all this unnecessary darkness!

A couple months ago, an overnight guest suggested to find something like tube lighting for under the step, or some type of light with a motion detector.

Fast forward to this week, and I ordered a very simple motion sensor led light that only takes three "AA" batteries and solved the "problem" beautifully. What was I waiting for all this time? I actually ordered two more (one for the other dark hallway, and one for our bathroom, so we don't have to turn on an overhead!). It comes with tape that can be applied to the wall, step, or inside a closet, along with a couple screws to do the same thing. I just leaned it against the step, and viola', it works! The setting for the light can be set 30 or 60 seconds and so far, so good. The light is called: ivation and was under 10 bucks on Amazon! Now that is something to be thankful for!

BSoleille! The bright side of "let there be light."

Resting comfortably and waiting for darkness to do it's thing!

With the "sensor" on for a 30 second stint

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Graduation 2018

I would be remiss in my "blog duties" if I did not mention all the wonderful graduations from college(s)...and later this month, high school(s). My extended family has two graduates this year; my nephew, Nathan Kocan, (on my side of the family) who graduated on Saturday from Ohio University Summa Cum Laude with dual majors in MIS and Business Analytics ; and my nephew, Alex Tomoff, (on the other side of the family), who also graduated on Saturday from Penn State University with honors and distinction in Meteorology! Woooohoooo!!!!

And, thankfully, through other social media mechanisms, it's a delight to see all the graduates near and far from friends posting throughout the country. I hope these young minds with tons of talent will pursue their passions with gusto and a 'never quit attitude'. Go out an make your own mark on this big bad world...it's there for the taking! If not you, who?

BSoleille! The bright side of graduation from rigorous programs in schools throughout this great land.


Nathan with his family; Justin, Kimberly, Brandon and Jerry
Alex Tomoff

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Pillowcase Project

Today some of my quilt guild-mates met at a local church in Bowie, Maryland, to help a young lady, Madylene, a 13 year old Girl Scout working on her Silver Award Project. She, with her parents, got some community involvement in the making of 60 pillowcases for the University of Maryland Children's Hospital, Child Life Department, a wonderful beneficiary for this superb endeavor.  Her goal- 60 pillowcases, but at last count before I left, 156 cases! How wonderful for the kids that will be getting a colorful "homemade" pillowcase; and wonderful for Maddie and knocking her Silver Award out of the park! A win-win for all!


Our pillowcase leader - Madylene


Guild: L-R: Misty Cole; Pat Scully, Joyce Dorn, Susie Stevenson, Flo Marion, Maddy, Cappy and me.

Some of the colorful pillowcases

Friday, May 4, 2018

#CelebrateOthers - Jim "Playboy" Stevenson - Vietnam Veteran

As the “world” remembers Kent State today; May 4, 1970, and the tragedy that took place there 48 years ago protesting the Vietnam War/Cambodia invasion, a young man named James (Jim) Stevenson, who was raised in Southern Pennsylvania with his parents and three brothers, was just about done with all his training then and sent to Vietnam in the summer of 1970. I felt today is a great day to celebrate Jim and his contribution in serving his country despite varying political views about the Vietnam War. 

Jim was actually drafted in July of 1969, at the age of 22, and went to Basic Training in Ft, Bragg, North Carolina, for eight weeks. Following Basic Training, he went to Infantry Training in Ft. Polk, LA, then Jump School and “landed” with the 101st Airborne. Just as things were heating up in Vietnam, Jim showed exemplary leadership qualities and was selected to attend the NCO (Non-Commissioned Officer) School, graduating in February of 1970. He then became a drill sergeant and trained new infantry troops coming in from around the country. Not one to rest on his laurels, Jim worked hard at this new “career” and snagged a spot for Ranger 
School as well (this is different training than NCO School), which utilized all the skills he had learned up to that point. As Jim conveyed to me, he “continued to postpone” the real deal…the combat…In Vietnam. Who could blame him? 

Incidentally, his older brother by two years was also drafted and became a jeep driver in Saigon, though saw no combat, thankfully. Can you imagine how worried his parents must have been with two of their three boys drafted and sent to Vietnam? I can’t even imagine what their dinner conversations were like, can you?

Interestingly, Jim stated that all the training he received compliments of the United States Army, was that they produced highly trained warriors, including himself and the rest of the brotherhood who ultimately served. 

Jim also believes that the US was just as victorious in all battles in Vietnam as the US was in WW11, and that the US never lost a battle despite what the “documentarians say.” Soldiers were killed, yes, but ultimately, every battle was won as no one counted the VC (Viet Cong). In fact, Jim lost three very close friends of the brotherhood in Nam during his time there. His best friend, ZigZag, actually died in an ambush with Jim right behind him while on a mission in the Jungle. Jim relayed to me that the Jungle was totally chaotic to the highest degree and everything was so out of control during a fight and note: ZigZag was the only one killed that day. 

When I gently asked Jim if he ever cried, he remarked that he could not recall actually crying, but did experience great sadness and anger. He said his mind was extremely powerful (heck, it certainly had to be!) because he and the brotherhood had to be in “battle mode” every second of every day! I would tend to think faith would help keep anyone going while in Vietnam, but Jim revealed that is was not so much about faith at that time, but gutting out the situations with the brotherhood and the brotherhood of combatants; always there for each other no matter what. In fact, the chances of survival increased when they had each other’s backs, bar none. Additionally, I asked Jim if he ever felt “patriotic” while there, and he replied in the affirmative, but then thoughtfully paused and answered that they were there for each other; and never weighed whether the war was morally correct or not. 

So after listening to Jim and his very sobering experiences in Vietnam, I asked him what he missed most from home? Without missing a beat, he said: “a good night’s sleep!” He emphasized: “sleep was so elusive while in Nam.” I then had to ask Jim what sustained him for the long haul, and he said, his girlfriend, who is now his wife of 40+ years, Susie, and his Mom, who both wrote letters to him every single day while he was overseas. Thankfully, mail did come into the base camp, dropped by helicopter along with ammunition, boots, C-rations and anything needed to continue the mission(s). 

For Jim, the madness of Vietnam ended on July 28, 1971, when he returned to Maryland with his parents waiting for him at the airport. There was no fan-fare, no jeering and no anti-war people because his flight came in well after midnight. Remarkably, Jim isolated himself for an entire month to process the madness (my word); but Jim stated that he needed the month to do nothing, decompress, contemplate his long-term survival and figure out what he needed to do to set himself up for the rest of his life. After a few years, what came into focus was Jim’s gratitude and the fact he survived Vietnam after seeing all that combat.

It is truly amazing this great man only “needed” a month to decompress, and move on with his life after a self-imposed solitary confinement. He finally met up with a relieved girlfriend Susie, went back to finish his degree at University of Maryland, got a job in the printing world, got married and had three children (two boys and one girl) and has enjoyed 50 years of “good living” thus far. This kind poetry loving man claims he is “still a work in progress.” He also dabbles in poetry writing himself, loves the color blue and the Beatles! 

NOTE: Due to aging Vietnam Veterans, guys (and gals) like Jim, age 72, who survived and thrived since they got drafted, are being interviewed because they have clear memories and recollections of their missions and their stories are being sought out by many nowadays. In fact, a couple of weeks before I interviewed Jim, he was interviewed by Sir Max Hastings, who is currently writing a book about Vietnam. It is set to be released in October of 2018.

Jim Stevenson today!

Photos of Vietnam taken with Jim’s Brownie camera.

Zigzag and Jim