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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 61 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Milestones and Steppingstones


Twenty years…where’d they go?
Twenty years…I don’t know.
I sit and I wonder some times
Where they’ve gone.
--Bob Seger

 Copyright 2014 © by Ralph F. Couey

October is my favorite month of the year, for a variety of reasons.  The oppressive heat and humidity of summer is a fading memory.  The sky has become a dome of pure cobalt blue.  And all around, the green of the forest is being overtaken by the vivid reds and brilliant golds of that annual show of artistry that is autumn.  I sometimes think I merely endure the other eleven months just to get to those 31 remarkable days
It was last November 1st, and I was out running, chugging up that exasperatingly long hill that is Cedar Lane, when I realized with a bit of a shock that October had ended.  I remember feeling how unfair it was that something so anticipated and so enjoyed could arrive and disappear almost before it seemed I'd had a chance to look around, or even draw an appreciative breath.  Part of that, I know, is the perspective of age.  The older we get, the faster time seems to pass.  Unless you’re getting a root canal.
We can get so caught up in the “have-to-do’s” and “gotta be there’s” that crowd our schedules, regretting the past, fearing the future, that we can become completely oblivious to those marvelous moments of the “now.”  Those moments can appear in several ways. 


You can be hanging with your best bud, laughing and having a great time, when suddenly you realize that you’re experiencing that perfect moment of friendship. 


To hear that joyously uninhibited sound of a good old-fashioned belly laugh coming from a child who will never again be that cute.  Or that young. 


Looking across the room at the love of your life and getting a smile in return.  Not just any smile, but that special one; the one they save only for you.  


To walk beneath a Maple tree on a perfect fall afternoon at the same moment the wind passes through the limbs and showers you with leaves of gold.  A private, very personal ticker-tape parade pronouncing that life...your life...is worth celebrating.
These moments are ephemeral; filaments, really.  But these are the filaments that when woven together form the richly beautiful tapestry that tells the story of life.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Civil War: Events of April 1864


From April 3 to April 4, Union and Confederate forces fought at Elkins Ferry in Clark and Nevada counties in Arkansas.  All the bridges crossing the Little Missouri River had been destroyed.  Union General Steele ordered General Frederick Salomon to take and hold the remaining river ford at Elkin’s Ferry.  Three cavalry brigades under Confederate General John Marmaduke attacked the Union position, but was unable to take the position.

On April 4th, Phil Sheridan takes command of the cavalry forces in the Union Army of the Potomac.

On April 8th, Confederate forces commanded by General Richard Taylor defeated and decisively routed the Union force under Nathaniel P. Banks at Sabine Crossroads (also known as Mansfield), halting the Red River Campaign in Louisiana.

Also on April 8th, the historic 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery, was approved by the Senate and sent to the states for ratification.

On April 9th, Nathaniel Banks, retreating from the defeat at Sabine Crossroads, is attacked by Confederates under Richard Taylor.  Despite some initial success, Banks launched a counterattack that defeated Taylor.

On April 9th, Grant issues campaign orders to George Meade and William Sherman:  “Wherever Lee goes, you will go there.”

April 10th saw Union General Frederick Steele’s forces encounter a Confederate line of battle at Prairie D’Ane, about 100 miles southwest of Little Rock, AR.  Steele was marching towards the vital port of Shreveport, but was diverted towards Camden after the Confederates under Sterling Price were forced to fall back.  Steele turned his force toward the heavily-defended Camden, which his forces then took.  But Steele and Banks then withdrew to Grand Ecore and Little Rock.  Kirby Smith took command of the Confederate troops and ordered Taylor to move back to Mansfield.  The Red River Campaign was over.

Civil War: Events of March 1864


The force of 500 Union cavalry dispatched by Judson Kilpatrick to the west side of Richmond was turned back, and then trapped by the Lee boys, Custis on March 1st, and Fitzhugh on the 2nd.

The U.S. Senate confirmed the appointment of Ulysses S. Grant to the rank of Lieutenant General on March 2nd.

On the 4th, Republican Michael Hahn is inaugurated governor of Louisiana.  On that same day, the CSA officially adopted the “Stars and Bars” as its official flag.

On March 9th, Grant was officially promoted to three-star general and placed in command of all active U.S. forces.  He can now pursue the war without interference from General Halleck in Washington, the first U.S. commander to be so empowered.  Three days later, General Halleck, his position and authority now irrelevant, is relieved of duty at his own request

Civil War: Events of February 1864


On the first day of the month, the U.S. House passed legislation reinstituting the rank of Lieutenant General in the U.S. Army, paving the way to giving Ulysses S. Grant to run the war without interference from Washington.

On the 3rd, William T. Sherman opened the Meridian Campaign, a thrust into central Mississippi to break up Confederate communications and infrastructure, and to cement Union control of the vital Mississippi River.  His troops marched into Jackson on the 5th.

On the 7th, Union forces entered Jacksonville, Florida.

February 9th saw a successful escape of 109 Union officers from the notorious Libby Prison in Richmond.  59 officers actually reached Union lines.

President Lincoln attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue 6 horses from the White House stables when a fire broke out on February 10th.