By Nan McKenzie

A patriotic song always makes me weep with emotion. “Oh, say can you see, by the dawn’s early light…” by the word light, my throat is closing and tears are working their way down my cheeks. By, “o’er the land of the free andflag the home of the brave”, I’m done for.

In July, I have many opportunities to weep in public and in private, because our nation seems to begin all over again in July, loudly celebrating, “one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all”. I’m unashamedly, proudly American, thankful every day to have been born here, live here, will die here. I love the patriotic parades, the red, white and blue colors everywhere, the fireworks, speeches. I often wear a combination of red, white and blue, sometimes for a week at a time, different clothes and different combinations of the colors, just to honor those who came before, who sacrificed, before.

I imagine what it was like for the colonists, chafing under the yoke of an uncaring monarch who lived thousands of miles away. I think about the firebrands who forced their fiery words on others, who bullied and inspired, cajoled and threatened, creating freedom, liberty, where there was none. I think of how that war of independence was divinely inspired and guided, how the tiny colonial states became a war engine of great force, pushing back, fighting back, repelling the huge disciplined armies clothed in bright red. I thank those ragtag warriors, am truly grateful for what they did, what they saw and changed. And I’ve always believed that those red-coated armies knew they fought for tyranny, injustice, and their hearts just weren’t in that war.

July seems to race along, mid-summer passing with hardly a shout. Time for a few more uplifting songs, some outdoor concerts, more celebration. The heat of July, the thunderstorms, will go, but somewhere living inside me are the tears, waiting to be cried with great emotion for my perfect good fortune to be an American!



 I have a large American flag mounted on the southern deck of my house.  We live in the mountains so nobody sees it except family, but that’s okay. I like watching it wave in the wind. Sometimes the wind whips the flag up and it gets wrapped around the pole. In the past, I’d run outside, take down the flag, and unknot it so it could once more fly free in the wind. An hour later, the scene would repeat itself. Some days, I’d make five or six trips outside to untangle the flag.

A few years ago, I was in a car accident and ended up with a broken ankle. The first month I was home, I was in a wheelchair. That’s when I noticed a funny thing about Old Glory. The flag got tangled up as usual, but because of my broken ankle, I couldn’t go outside to untangle it. Later that day, I noticed the flag flying free again. I watched the flag closely for the next month. Some days, it would get so wrapped around the pole that I thought it would never get untangled by itself, but it did. Sometimes, the flag would stay tangled up for days at a time, but eventually, it would work its way free and fly high and proud once more.

The actions of the flag serve as a perfect metaphor for what’s going on in our country today. Everything seems tangled up. Fear whips us into such a frenzied state that we’re willing to trade constitutional rights for an elusive promise of safety. Newscasters tell us we’re a country split in half. Blue against Red. Democrat verses Republican. Pro Choice verses Pro Life. Conservatives against the liberals. Hawks against Doves. The list goes on and on. Can such a snarled web ever be untangled?

In the 50’s, we got twisted up in McCarthyism and the Cold War. In the 60’s, Americans were divided over segregation and civil rights. In the 70’s, we struggled with Vietnam, Watergate, and the resignation of a President. As a country, we were as tousled as that flag, and at the time there seemed no way to get beyond the forces that divided us.

We eventually discovered a way to untangle ourselves, to make peace with our neighbor, and to fly proud and free again just like Old Glory. Throughout our history, Americans have always pushed through the fear to come back to our roots and to the basic principles of individual freedoms and justice for all. After watching that flag and reviewing our nation’s history, I’m sure in time we’ll do it again.

Have a wonderful 4th of July and remember that while today can be a festive holiday for us, it can be a frightening time for our pets. Please take precautions to keep your pets happy and safe over the holiday weekend.

Thanks for stopping by,


Deborah Epperson

Breaking TWIG

Breaking TWIG

Two Thoughts on July 4th

Ann Minnett MWW photoBy Ann Minnett

I have two thoughts on July 4th.

One of the best memories of my childhood occurred every year on the Fourth of July. The University of Denver set off spectacular fireworks that could be seen for miles. We did not park the car along the old Valley Highway or in the University Hills Shopping Center parking lot to view the show. My family climbed onto the roof of our post-war bungalow and stretched out on the still warm shingles in the cool evening to watch the fireworks shoot over our heads.

My husband returns from a 10-day raft trip in Idaho this July 4th. I’m writing this during the six days in which we have no phone or internet contact. Good grief! My daughter spent a year in Afghanistan, and thanks to satellite phones, we chatted every few days. I’ve spent most of my life without cell phones, Google or Twitter, so radio silence with my husband seems oddly peaceful before the storm.

I look forward to The Fourth. He’ll have a week’s adventures to share, and so will I. He doesn’t know: Old friends from Dallas showed up in town after four years; I dressed and arrived at a neighborhood party that wasn’t; I figured out the sprinkling system and he didn’t have to worry (because I know he has); his absence allowed me long uninterrupted hours for launching my second novel; and absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Memorable Weddings

By Author Nan McKenzie

The many weddings I’ve attended in my life range from beautiful and fun, to silly, to stultifying. But they are all satisfying, too, with the knowledge that love is ever hopeful.

One very hot June day some years ago, I sat with my former husband and our two teenage kids in the incredible re-creation of a European chapel while the Catholic priest droned on and on for ninety minutes, nailing the couple down with words. I could feel sweat running down my face, staining my blouse, the pantyhose a tourniquet for my poor legs. The whole congregation became giddy when we were finally released. The wedding almost lasted longer than the marriage, which ended a few short weeks later. What a waste of time and money. There was no reception, no wedding cake, no dancing. It was a beautiful pageant, though.

Another wedding many years ago united two very tall handsome people who walked down the flower-strewn aisle with their son. The wedding was held outside and my spiky heels kept sinking into the lawn, arresting my strides. We laughed and joked and danced on a noisy wooden floor, and ate too much and had a good time.

Her dad cried at her wedding, an almost silent affair in front of a preacher of some kind. It was 1960, and he’d driven her to Coeur d’Alene in Idaho where he gave his middle daughter away to a young man he intensely disliked. Not in June, February, cold and overcast. He said she didn’t have to do it if she wanted to change her mind, they’d figure something out, and he cried at the finality of her education, the lost promise of the best and brightest. He was right, she should have listened. But then, she wouldn’t have had two children, a son and daughter, the finest work of her life. She sure was glad when The Pill became available a couple years later, though.

There were tall trees, the sound of rushing water in a nearby swollen river, mosquitoes, way-too-loud music, and lots of alcohol, way too much. But the bride was beautiful in her pretty dress, the groom and his buds handsome in dark shirts and bright ties, the bridesmaids happy and silly in black dresses with pink sashes. The weather, wet and messy just a couple days before, decided to grace the couple with blue skies and tiny white clouds, the ice cream cake was on a tippy table and sliding sideways by the time it was cut, there was lots of shared food and good visits and wild kids tearing around. A typical Montana wedding in June, the summer solstice a gift.

All wedding have a heart, a hope, a fond foolishness to them. I love going to weddings, like to cry silently at the beauty, the pageantry, the right-now happiness.

Nan McKenzie, June 23, 2014

When the Groom Is a Jerk

by Ann Minnett

Every wedding, no matter how well planned, has that one catastrophe that threatens to spoil the day—weather, a misplaced ring, or the family feud flares. Inevitably, family and guests remember the unplanned event lovingly, but not always.

I can’t get one wedding out of my mind. It occurred 35 years ago in the bride’s quaint hometown in Texas. The small town girl was marrying our friend—and sometimes jerk—and none of us gave the marriage a chance. Not long after checking into our hotel for the weekend, we learned: 1) unbeknownst to either, the groom had been living with a woman in Houston while living with the future bride in Dallas (airline pilots could finesse the arrangement); 2) the groom had not mentioned to his Houston girlfriend that he was getting married; 3) the Houston girlfriend accidentally found out about his Saturday wedding on Friday evening; 4) Houston drove overnight, intent on breaking up the ceremony; and 5) the worst yet not surprising news was that Houston had been the groom’s father’s mistress before. The apple doesn’t fall far…


Everyone on the groom’s side knew the sordid story, and some of us wanted to urge the bride to Run away now! However, she and her family must have known because the sheriff patrolled around the church on Saturday with instructions to detain the Houston girlfriend. Fourth generation families can call in those kinds of favors in a small town.

Unfortunately, the ceremony took place, but I took satisfaction each time the groom flinched and glanced over his shoulder, afraid of what he’d find among the guests. I have no idea what happened to Houston. We had little to do with the bride and groom after his wedding but hear they’re still married!

I wonder what kind of life they’ve had together.