Saturday, October 7, 2017

"Old Blood and Guts"

A piece I did for the Daily Southerner several years back from an oral history of a World War Two veteran I interviewed.

Remembering “‘Ole Blood n’ Guts”
by Dana Lee Stone
     “It was his blood, and our guts.”  George Osborne of Tarboro laughed as he recalled his experiences in Patton’s Army during World War II.  “He was the greatest general and his men loved him.  They respected him, and he respected them.  He wouldn’t ask his men to do anything he wouln’t do.  He was our greatest leader, and had no fear.  I saw him three times up at the front.  At the Rhine River, he led his men across, wading in front of them.”
     George Osborne is 94 now.  Originally from Wallace, North Carolina, Mr. Osborne was drafted (“my wife wouldn’t let me volunteer”) into the Army during World War II.  He served in France, Germany, and Austria, part of the 65th Division, 565 Signal Corps.
     During his first days in boot camp, Osborne said there was a particular sergeant who came into the barracks to give the men a little advice.  “Boys,” he said, “there are three things to do in the Army, and if you do ‘em, you’ll get along fine.  Keep your bowels open, your mouths shut, and don’t volunteer for a damn thing.”  Osborne earnestly admitted, “I’ve stuck to that pretty well.”
     He continued, “they sent me to Camp Shelby in Mississippi where I had basic training, then to New York to get ready to go overseas.  They put me on KP.  I noticed they had some hams hanging up and I asked, ‘what’s that, horse meat?’ 
     “They said, ‘no, that’s beef.’ And I said, ‘no cow ever grew that big!’ 
     He was warned not to say anything about the horsemeat, because “the boys wouldn’t eat it.”  Osborne recalled how he looked over to see a soldier eating it: “hey, buddy, that’s pretty good horse meat, isn’t it? Someone in the background neighed like a horse, and don’t you know that boy put his plate down, and wouldn’t eat anymore.”
     Osborne continued his story by describing his deployment.  “We got shipped to la Havre, in France.  They had supplies for 3,000 men and here 30,000 came in on this convoy.  They put us in these tent camps.  For the first two weeks, the only things we got to eat were a spoonful of powdered eggs, a half a canteen of coffee, and a piece of bread.  They had garbage cans for the trash, but no garbage ever went in them.”
     As a driver, Osborne covered a lot of territory during the war, covering most of France, Germany, and Austria.  He told me about on his most memorable experience in Germany, when he encountered German SS troops.  “We were out in the woods and they asked for volunteers.  Me like a crazy fool, I volunteered…We were out crawling through the woods when a shot came through.  BLAM!  I felt the heat when it went across the back of my neck.  I looked around from where I saw the flash, and I didn’t even take aim.  I shot.  The bullet hit him in the head…This experience broke me from volunteering.  I don’t volunteer for anything anymore.”
     Osborne elaborated on one of the most controversial incidents of the War, the famous “slapping incident” that involved General Patton.  “I didn’t see it,” he explained, but this boy was laying out and Patton slapped him.  I think the boy was scared, mostly.  Patton slapped him in the face with his glove.”
     The incident led to Patton being reprimanded.  Osborne offered, “a lot of people think it was the worst thing Patton could have done, to slap that boy, but I don’t think so.  I think it brought the boy to his senses.”
     Recalling the death of General Patton, Osborne reflected:  “he was killed in a wreck.  He wanted to go into Russia and we all thought that the CIA was behind the accident.  That was really a sad time, when Patton died.”
   Osborne is obviously proud of his experiences during World War II, even though he claims not to have done “very much.” 
     “Our Division went the furthest and the fastest of any Division over there,” he said.  Surely these memories went with him on a trip several years ago to West Point for a reunion of the 65th Division.  “You know,” he said, “I may be the oldest one in it now.  I was 92 then, and I’m 94 now.”
    Nowadays, George Osborne can often be found at the Roberson Senior Center in Tarboro, where he goes for lunch and to socialize with his many friends.    

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Happiest Moment of My Life


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Message from the President of the University of Virginia

Dear alumni and friends of the University,

Last night about forty students held a demonstration on the north side of the Rotunda and as part of this demonstration, they shrouded the Jefferson statue, desecrating ground that many of us consider sacred. I strongly disagree with the protestors’ decision to cover the Jefferson statue. University personnel removed the shroud. One person was arrested for public intoxication. These are the facts of the situation, regardless of what you may read in media accounts of those who have their own agenda.

Coming just one month after the August 11 torchlight march by 300 racist and anti-Semitic protesters, a march that became violent, this event has reminded us that there are critical and sometimes divisive issues related to the exercise of free expression in an inclusive community.

I would like to frame this issue somewhat differently. Thomas Jefferson was an ardent believer in freedom of expression, and he experienced plenty of abusive treatment from the newspapers of his day. He would likely not be surprised to find that when there are critical disagreements in the polity, those disagreements will find expression at his University. UVA's importance as a university is underscored by the fact that arguments about free expression, hate speech, and similar issues occur here. Sometimes these arguments are noisy.

In your own college days, many of you experienced protests and activism at UVA. The war in Vietnam, Watergate, 9/11, and many other issues have been discussed, debated, and protested at UVA. We are at another such point.  I prefer the process of discussion and debate, and the debate is happening here at UVA with a wide variety of guest speakers, panels, and other opportunities to look at underlying issues. That there is also activism should not be a surprise to any of us.

With my best wishes,

Teresa A. Sullivan

Office of the President
P.O. Box 400224
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4224

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Beaten Up, Kicked Out, Bitten and Chewed

"Beaten Up, Kicked Out, Bitten, and Chewed"

It was my "annus horriblous"  -- Ending a friendship over the Christmas holiday, bedridden by the flu at the beginning of 2017, then sideswiped at the NC Poets' Society in mid january by a sudden trip to the emergency room.

The emergency room visit was preceded by a swollen foot and ankle.  A quick call to Nurse Line told me I needed to get to an emergency room.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Foods From My Childhood

homemade mashed potatoes

apple pie

eggs and sausage for breakfast

green beans cooked in a pressure cooker

turkey cooked in a paper bag

grilled cheese sandwiches

meat loaf

cherry pie

blueberry cobbler

RC Cola

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Ro's Eyes

"En Caul" by Dana Stone
(for Ro Perrault, Easter, 2017)

I held a newborn,
at our Easter vigil
 tonight and his blue-grey
eyes latched onto  mine,
never leaving my face.
Was this the blessing I'd
been looking for?

"en caul,"
wrapped in the
amnionic sac,
a pleasing package,
to be sure.
What gifts will the little one
bring us this Easter night?
Would he set us on a journey
with illuminating light?

Long ago, people believed
the caul would deliver
supernatural gifts.

Poets  coveted
 it for its power to bring
 eloquence of thought and speech.
Clarity of feeling,
and a powdered
caul with a pinch of cinnamon
brought healing.

What blessing will those
blue grey eyes 
bestow on me?
We looked at each other
for so long that
I hated to turn away,
but returned to my
seat in church,
where we were singing

"O church, come stand in the light

Our God is not dead, He's alive, He's alive!"

Monday, April 3, 2017

Work From Home (Durham Article)

A Prayer For Travelers

Dear God,

Please watch over me as I fly out today.
May your hand be on the crew, your strength be in the engineers, that prepare the plane and your wisdom on the control teams on the ground.
I choose to trust in You, and give You my fears and anxieties. May I find peace as I travel. Take my heart on a journey of trust and hope as I look out over the beautiful world you have made.
I travel with You.

Calm me and cover me,

Friday, March 24, 2017

Tree Box

Tree Box

When the ways of the world
become too much
I retreat to my Tree Box,
pull the covers up
and wait for the chaos to subside.
Above me a tree is spreading,
its limbs reaching far, providing comfort.

This, the Mother Tree,
is my nesting place,
nurturing my soul,
touching the world with its beauty,
creating homes for God's creatures.

In my Tree Box I can sit with my journal and pen
feeling the safety within,

And when I am ready,
I emerge from inside
a warrior again,
ready to confront
 the trials outside myself.

[As the desert ironwood grows, it alters the environment around itself, and creates a micro-habitat. Its dense canopy shades the ground under it, bringing temperatures down at least 15° F. Its seeds provide food for many doves, quail, and small rodents. Insects thrive in the ironwood canopy, which also attracts birds and reptiles. They make their home under and in the ironwood, providing prey for cactus owls, hawks and coyotes. ]

Knee Injury Exercises

from Wellki

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gaga Article

"I Am Well" video; "Heal Thyself Video"

"I Am Well"

"Heal Thyself"

courtesy of "The Reach,"  UK


very interesting arcticle

Sunday, March 5, 2017

A Page from William Stafford's journal, March 1, 1993

"Someone said language was invented so we could hide behind our thoughts....

The optimist says it won't get dark.  The pessimist says it won't get light. And the world goes on...

Now the sun began to shout from below the horizon.  Throngs of birds changed their tent of music into a sound...So magical that I was both brave and afraid.

Little by little, the stars retired, leaving little polished circles on the sky for a while...

It is possible that some day like this will save the world."

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Heavy Snow

[Driving to Town Late to Mail a Letter

It is a cold and snowy night. The main street is deserted.
The only things moving are swirls of snow.
As I lift the mailbox door, I feel its cold iron.
There is a privacy I love in this snowy night.
Driving around, I will waste more time.]   Robert Bly

Heavy Snow by Dana Stone

We had a deep snow by morning,
blanketed everything around us.
Every limb and twig, etched in white like frosting
Thick sheets on the roof of the barn
frozen in time, 
stillness beckoning me forward, 
holding a pail,
overflowing with oats
for mare her newborn colt
waiting for me in the shadows.

Monday, February 20, 2017


notes:  by now you've probably seen the photoshoot of the Russian model dangling from a skyscraper in Dubai.  I'm puzzled by why someone would be willing to risk her life for an Instagram post.  What a world we are living in!  I decided to write this poem from the perspective of: what if her hand had slipped from her partner's?  The video is given below.
I couldn't get the images out of my mind so decided to write a poem...The crystal image at the end is taken from a poem by Stephen Spender.  


The tallest building in the world
located in Dubai
seventy three stories high
spiraling over the Persian Gulf.
Seeking the perfect shot for her portfolio,
young model ventures skyward
to the rooftop where she
steps over a steel girder,
supported by her lover,
hands clasping forearms,
holding tight,
she leans out and flashes a smile

  sudden gust of wind interferes,
sending her floating like dust
to the pavement below where

her body turns to crystal.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Where I Am Now

     I'm taking a course called "Writing in the Spirit of William Stafford."  He's my favorite poet.  Why?  It's the gentleness behind his words, the kindness, the encouragement.  I especially love the poem, "You Reading This, Be Ready."   It's been used as a resource for teachers.

     The course has forced me to focus on my poetic voice.  I get so involved in "busyness," that I forget or neglect or don't have time to write.   I think of Rumi's voice:  about staying in one place and not fleeing.

     Stafford's voice has the quality of being soothing, encouraging, wise.
     So I've carved out spaces in my apartment where I can write.  I'm so fortunate to have a forest surrounding  me.  The morning light through the kitchen window lights up my kitchen counter, where I am writing now.  The shadows, the stillness are so comforting.  Sometimes I feel like I need someone there holding my hand while I write, saying "there, there, you're doing fine."

     I'm finding my voice and what I need during these troubling times we are living in.  I thought of John Lennon this morning before going to my writing, his song, "Imagine," has the line:  "Imagine all the life in peace."

      "Living life in peace."  What a beautiful thought.

      Yusef Islam (previously known as Cat Stevens), was wildly popular in the U. S. and U.  K. in the 70's.  Before he stopped recording, he told the story of a miracle he experienced.  He was swimming in the ocean and got caught up in a riptide that swept him out to sea.  No matter how hard he tried to get back to shore, he couldn't.  So he started praying that if he was spared, he would devote the rest of his life to serving God.  That's when he converted to Islam, had an arranged marriage that produced five children, started a school and became involved in peaceful causes.   (He did have a concert in New York in 2016, his first in many years)

     More than ever, we need kindness, thoughtfulness, and artists to show us how to embrace the world.

     Poet Kim Stafford (Williams' son) has published a book of poetry of post election and inauguration poems called "The Flavor of Unity."  Here is sample:

     The Flavor of Unity
By Kim Stafford       
          El sabor que nos hace únicos.
                       — Inca Kola slogan
The flavor that makes us one cannot be bought
or sold, does not belong to a country, cannot
enrich the rich or be denied to the poor.
The flavor that makes us one emanates from the earth.
A butterfly can find it, a child in a house of grass, exiles coming home at last to taste wind off the sea, rain
falling into the trees, mist rising from home ground.
The flavor that makes us one we must feed
to one another with songs, kind words, and
human glances across the silent square.

     As President Obama said, "the sun will rise in the morning."  We need to hang in there and support each other more than ever.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Things I Noticed Last Week

1.  Red berries on the holly bush near my house.
2.  A baby cardinal in the crepe myrtle tree outside with remnants of a bird's nest nearby.
3.  An old tobacco shed in the woods across from me.
4.  The healing warmth of the heat on my knee.
5.  Rosie's encouragements over my little successes.
6.  The lilting laughter of my friend Anne in Arizona.
7.  A hand blown vase from West Virginia that I bought for my mother when I was 16.
8.  How my brother calls me "the family historian."
9.  How I'd like to contact my half sister's daughters, whom I've never met.
10.  The pleasures of staying put rather than rushing about all the time.
11.  How I'm looking forward to seeing the 6th graders again.
12.  The freedom of not eating meat.
13.  The pleasures of the cardinal's song, "chid-chio-chio..."
14.  How I want to learn the history of a special tree in the Luxembourg Gardens.
15.  That I need to call Elizabeth.
16.  The portrait of Ida Friday at UNC next to the one of her husband, Bill; the announcement that she died that night at 97.
17.  A photograph of Jordan Kristen holding onto her bike partner with her body outstretched behind him, like she was flying.
18.  How I keep going back to wanting to attend the Pilobolus workshop in June.
19.  How energizing it was to volunteer at the public radio station and chat with Eric Hodge, who called me one morning about winning a trip to Paris.
20.  Awareness of the blowing, cooling wind yesterday.
21.  Those tree tops swaying in the wind.  Are they Long Leaf Pines?
22.  Listening to Yusef Islam  sing "I listen to the wind of my soul."
23.  The sounds of frogs mating; spring comes early to North Carolina.
24.  The beautiful, long, dark green pine needles of those trees.
25.  There's something about a forest.  I think I prefer it to the beach.
26.  A photograph of the house I used to own showed that the new owner had ripped up the boxwoods and forsythia in front.
27.  A feeling of relief over living in a "blue county."
28.  Missing Black Mountain College.
29.  Finding a post card I bought in a museum of Ray Johnson.
30.  Raindrops.

William Stafford

You Reading This, Be Ready
William Stafford
Starting here, what do you want to remember?
How sunlight creeps along a shining floor?
What scent of old wood hovers, what softened
sound from outside fills the air?
Will you ever bring a better gift for the world
than the breathing respect that you carry
wherever you go right now? Are you waiting
for time to show you some better thoughts?
When you turn around, starting here, lift this
new glimpse that you found; carry into evening
all that you want from this day. This interval you spent
reading or hearing this, keep it for life –
What can anyone give you greater than now,
starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?

Absolutely my favorite poem by Stafford...
Stafford had a wide influence and it's no wonder he was named Poet Laureate of the U. S.  I love the encouraging, wise nature of his poetry....for me, it's like having a warm blanket placed over me.
Check out the Stenhouse Blog, a resource for teachers:

Sunday, February 5, 2017




and just be


Paying attention

and see what happens

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Not Today

Not Today

My left leg looked like a
stuffed sausage,
ankle swollen, 

veins the color of wedgwood,
angry and raised,
pink splotches,
scattered about.

I found three pillows
for elevation
drifted into meditation
for 30 minutes,
before calling NurseLine
to report my concerns.

"Well, according to your symptoms,
you need to go to an emergency room right now."
"Well, I can't, I'm in a town I'm not familiar with,
and besides, I use Duke,
so I'm going there."

Denial kicked in.
This was fucking inconvenience
Ruined my plans for a nice breakfast out
and walk around town.

My leg was sore but I threw clothes into a
 suitcase and went downstairs to the kitchen.
I'd probably missed breakfast.
Everyone else was drinking coffee
and chatting.  In good spirits.

I took a deep breath,
"I just got some bad news,
I have to go to an emergency room."
I did the mature thing
and broke into tears.

"Want me to drive you?"
"No, I'm driving myself to Duke.
They told me the closest emergency room
was in Sanford, halfway to Durham anyway."

"There's a closer one,"
a calm voice responded,
"in Pinehurst."
Tiny Pinehurst, I thought,
what kind of hospital would they have.

"They have a good hospital, and it's close by,"
the calm voice responded.
"Could you take me there?"
"Sure, I'm ready."

I did the mature thing by crying again,
concerned that the dance workshop
I'd been preparing for was off.
Why me?

The hospital looked like a resort
and I got a private room.
Asked Michael if he could come in with me.
Hoped he wouldn't mind.  I'd just met this
man the night before.

There was a painting in my room and I
focused on it to calm down.
A nurse came in and took vitals,
hooked me up to a machine that
kept track of blood pressure and pulse,
slid a needle into my arm.

I watched the vial fill up and waited.
"What's a three letter word for dunce?"
"Ass," was the only thing
I could think of.
Grateful for the comfort of crosswords
 and that calm voice.
Some people are like "God with
skin on" and he was one of those.

"We need to check for clots."
I started to see my life
flash before my eyes.

More waiting, crying,
a phone call
to my son.
We chatted.  I could hear my
grand daughter playing in
the background.
"Hi, Gamma!"  That did it
and the floodgates opened again.

Crying on the phone to my son.
Waiting, waiting.
Thirty minutes.
An hour.
An hour and a half.
Gary, the nurse, told us he was
reading "Paradise Lost."
He was glad to be working as a nurse
rather than digging ditches somewhere.

"I'm not ready yet,"
I thought to myself.  So much to do,
including dishes left in the sink.

"I don't think you have a blood clot,"
that comforting voice.  Bless him.

"They're ready for you now."
A dark room,
its only light from the ultrasound,
the only warmth
a warm gel on my skin as
Jacqueline scanned a smooth
porcelain ball
up and down my legs.
She calmed my fears, asked me what
I was afraid of,
why I was worried.

"Dying," I thought.
I was missing my son and his
little daughter, wondering if I'd
ever be able to watch her prance across
the living room again,
or lick the frosting off
a gingerbread house.

Margot, Margot, Margot,
the thought of her dimples and
curl-framed face brought me comfort.

Remember how she blew kisses.
How she'd si ton her knees
looking out the train window,
 all her favorite shops passing by,
like Tate and with its cinnamon rolls.
I want to visit there with her soon.

And I still haven't seen
that painting of Washington at the MFA
or been to Cuba,
or visited my father's grave,
or the Somme, or Nantucket
or Cornwall, where
St. Gaudens crafted his sculpture
of the Massachusetts 54th.

And of course, there is always Paris.
Oh, to stay again at the Royal St. Germaine,
visit the Luxembourg Gardens,
or le Dome where Hemingway wrote.
So many places.

"There aren't any clots."
Jacqueline reassured me.
I was cold and Jermaine put a blanket
over me, right out of the warmer,
 and rolled me  back to my room.  Smooth ride,
unlike the Georgia one where they bumped
the gurney into walls, sending me into
spasms of pain.

Back to my pink room with the Impressionist painting.
Dr. Gregory gave me a prescription
for rest, elevation, and warmth.

Many hearts would stop beating
that day,
but not this one.