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"Memory... is the diary that we all carry about with us." ~ Oscar Wilde  

13 December, 2011: Catching Up

Jim called yesterday to let me know that our Aunt Sook died.  The funeral is in Aliceville on Friday.  I plan to drive down.

Kim and I had Jake all weekend--always fun.  He's at the age now that he doesn't need supervision and plays a lot by himself.  H needs some entertaining throughout the day, but loves movies like I do, so we watched a few.  We watched Elf for the first time and I think he may like it better than Elise does.  We also sat through The Grinch about three times.

He, Kim, Sarah, Chris and I went to Carols in the Courtyard Saturday night.  It was really good this year.

 The 6th was our 30th anniversary, so I decided to take Kim for a romantic evening at Godfather's Pizza.  Godfather's was where She, Brett and I went after out very small wedding back in 1982.  I googled it and found one in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia, just 45 minutes away.  When we got there, it was a little place in a service station.  I was a little bummed, but it was comical, and we found a nice little place called the Mason Jar with really good food and no crowd.

A lot went on last month, which is the reason for this catching up post, so here's what happened earlier:

Kim was in Birmingham and San Antonio with her Mom and Dad, visiting her Aunt, so I was on my own for three weeks.

I took the Color Guard and a Firing Party to the VMI vs. Liberty game on the 5th to participate in the halftime show.  The plan was to have colors go to Present Colors, the firing party fire the volleys, and then the Liberty band was to play Echo Taps.  Well, they SCREWED THAT UP!  The Trumpets began playing Taps as the flags were still moving and then the band began playing during the firing of the volleys.  Amateurs.

DJ and Billy visited on the 7th, but only for a night.

We celebrated Founder’s Day and Veteran’s Day on the 11 November with a parade and nothing much else.  I took flags up to Lylburn Downing Middle School for their Veteran's Tea.

I took the Reg. Color Guard to Williamsburg for their Vet’s Parade on the 12th. The Parade was very well orchestrated and administered, with lots of cool participants, but it was attended by less than 200 people...TOTAL!  We drove six hours, waited around for two, marched a short one-mile route, for about 150 people.  Great.

On a higher note, I took the Colors to Bonzack Baptist Church in Roanoke on the 13th to participate in their Vet's celebration. It was fantastic and led by some of the nicest, most professional people with whom we've ever worked.  The program was patriotic, emotional, and beautiful.  We did two shows to two packed houses, attended by Vets from WWII to present and over 800 people.

I took a bunch of Army NCOs from across the Nation out to shoot Trap for a NCO Challenge on the 17th.  That was fun and like being in the Army again.

The 18th and 19th were Ring Figure on Post.  I had OC in Barracks so I was at the Ball in my Mess Dress.  This year they held the Ball in the CLE and that worked great.  The 2nd Class actually danced throughout the whole thing.

Kim came home from San Antonio and Birmingham on 21 November, Thank God!

Thanksgiving Furlough started when I locked up Barracks on the evening of the 22nd

My plan was to drive to Birmingham the next morning, but the little cold I had on the 22nd turned into the flu as I drive down Interstate 81.  I got as far as Salem before turning around.  I slept for 48 hours once I got back to the house and was feeling better by Saturday morning.

Had OC in Barracks for the return of the Corps on Sunday.  I went in at 0800hrs and unlocked all the rooms, then watched movies until the Cadets began showing up.

Kim and I met Sarah, Jonathon, Kelly, and Jake downtown for the Lexington Christmas Parade on 6 DEC.  This is a night time parade which makes for great Christmas Decorations, but not so good for photography.  The Rats led the Parade and Santa brought up the rear.  Had it not been for Santa, Jake could have cared less after the Cadets were past.


8 November, 2011: Spiderman Goes to School

It is a hard fast rule that students at Yellow Brick Road may not bring toys to school.  Jake has his own set of rules. 

Jake and I spent three days together while Jay went to Northern Virginia.  Kim was out of town which left me with occupying the time of my favorite four-year-old.  We got up early, went to bed late, ate whatever we wanted, watched movies, played baseball, fought with light sabers, and hit the park.  We also watched every clip of the Green Goblin and Spiderman we could find on You Tube.  Jake is crazy about the Green Goblin and Spiderman.

When you go to McDonalds every day (because they have the best toys and chicken nuggets) the chances of getting the same toy increases exponentially.  The inevitable happened and Jake got his second Humpty Dumpty.  I took it back up to the counter for a trade, but that was the only toy they had.

I took it back to the table and tried to explain it to Jake, and though he tried very hard to be brave, I could see how upset he was.  I countered with, “We could go to Wal-Mart and see if they have something better.”

“Yeah!  Maybe they have Spiderman and the Green Goblin!” 

Lucky for me, they did, complete with “sticks to the wall” spider web, a flying goblin sled, and fireballs.

he balance of the evening was spent with Spidey and the Goblin in mortal combat all over the house.  They fought over popcorn, through Aliens in The Attic, in the bathtub, and under the covers.  Have you ever tried to put pajamas on a kid while he’s fighting two action figures?  It can be painful, I’ll tell you.

The battle continued in my bed the next morning at 0600hrs.  As I dressed Jake for school and fed him breakfast, I explained that his Daddy would be picking him up from school that afternoon.  Being a thoughtful granddad, I asked, “Would you like me to bring your new action figures to your house so you can show your dad”

“No.  I want them to stay here at Kady’s house.  Just bring the web and sled.”

“Well, that’s interesting. Why just the web and sled?”  With no more questions I drove him to school and dropped him off.  I got my normal wave from the window.  I walked back to the car and drove back on Post to work.

After work, I determined to take his new figures anyway, because I KNEW he’d want to show his dad.  I began a search for them at the Coffee Table where he had been playing with them.  There lay the sled and web, but no Spidey and no Goblin.    I looked in his bed, in the tub, in the kitchen, in both bathrooms, around my computer and still could not find them.

I know that you know what happened, but it wasn’t until I was on the road to Jay’s house that it occurred to me—That Little Hooligan Took Them To School!

It was the perfect plan! 

Act like you don’t care, finish your waffles, and when he goes to rinse the plate, shove them down deep in your pockets.

Act natural.

Walk to the car so he won’t feel them when he carries you.Don’t take them out of your pockets until you get to school or he might see them.  I asked him about it when I saw him, “Jake, where are your action figures?  Did you take them to school?  He acted as if he didn’t hear me until his dad told him to answer.

“Yes Grandaddy; I put them in my pockets.”

He was kind enough not to say, though I bet he was thinking, “I whipped you again Granddaddy."


5 November, 2011:  Traveling

The rest of October was busy.  I took the Trap and Skeet team to the George Mason shoot in Manassas after Parade on the 7th.  We shot well, placing second in skeet against really good teams from Yale, Army, Navy, VT, Radford, and a few other schools.  The wind picked up on Trap and we were at the far end of the range where the land was flat.  Our birds were all over the place, while the other teams at the other end of the range had a draw in front of them.  Their clays were shooting straight up in the air and much easier to hit.  Ah well, luck of the draw.

The next weekend Laeune and Erin, my Sweet Briar friends cane for the football game, parade, and lunch at the house.  It was great seeing them.  That Saturday night I had AOC.  I expected a lot of problems because it was homecoming and we were having a Hop, but it was pretty quiet.  I played "bouncer" for the Hop and no one gave me any trouble.

I took the next Friday off to travel to Charleston for the VMI vs. Citadel sports weekend and to see Catherine.  Kim left the same day for her trip to Birmingham, stopping in Mentone for the night.  I got to Charleston in time to link up with Cate for lunch and she, her dog Bailey, and I went to the Citadel Parade at 1530.  They have a lot of Cadets!  The parade was so far away from the stands that it was hard to see if they were good or not.  Pass in review looked OK, but took all afternoon to pass five battalions and two bands.  Cate and I went for sushi that night.

The next day I went to see VMI smash Citadel in Rugby then linked up with everyone at the football game.  During the game, the Citadel students were a bunch of prats, totally undisciplined, grossly improperly dressed, and spent the game taunting our alumni. I even had to break up a scuffle between some of our cadets and theirs when they brought over their flags and paraded them around our section of stands. I'm not sure if they understand how badly they make their school look.  Certainly they are bought in to the perception that VMI and Citadel are mortal enemies...when we could really care less.  I think that is the basic difference between the two school.  Also as certain is the fact that we're a military school where they look alike and act like rabble. Citadel beat us 41-14. Saturday afternoon was no fun at all. 

That evening Chris, the Boss, Cate, the Browns, and I went for dinner at Locklear's, a seafood place in Mt. Pleasant.  I had

"Rockville Shrimp and Hominy with Corn Fritters" and it was fantastic!!

Sunday I left early for Lexington.  Bess was filthy and I wanted to get home in time to wash her and have a little time before work the next day. 

Monday was Halloween in Barracks and Jay and I took Jake.  He was a hoot dressed up as a Power Ranger, presenting his aword any time he was frightened by Cadet antics or costumes.  I got to keep Jake Tuesday and Thursday nights and take him to school the next mornings.  It was fun, but Jake slick!  He has learned to manipulate Granddaddy in a big way.  The best encident was the last morning when I asked him if he wanted me to bring his new Spiderman and Green Goblin action figures to his house after school so he could show them to his dad.  He said no, "Just bring the Web and Sled."  I thought that was strange, until I began looking for the the stuff to take it over there anyway.  I couldn't find Spiderman or the Goblin anywhere...and I knew why.  Jake had taken them to school, which he knows is against the rules.  He had put them in his pockets while I wasn't looking.  Silly Granddaddy.  I had a good time messing with him about it when I saw him at his dad's.

Today I have to take the Color Guard and a Firing Party to participate in the Liberty vs. VMI half-time show, a tribute to Veterans.  Tomorrow is a day off and it's Wax Bess Time!

I'm looking forward to a trip home to Alabama at Thanksgiving during Furlough.


Thursday Night, 6 October, 2011: Elise's Deployment

Elise flew out about 2100hrs from Pope headed for Germany, then Manas, and then on to Afghanistan.  She'll be gone a year.  Kim and I drove down Saturday and spent the day with her.  My job was to pack all of her stuff in her ruck and in her duffle bag...which was impossible because she had way too much stuff.  I failed miserably and took the abuse that came along with that.  I took me until the next day to convince her she needed to glean down some items and let us mail them to her.

In the end we got most of it in.

Barbara was there for lunch Saturday, visiting from Charleston.  Jim joined us for most of the weekend. 

 Saturday Night I went to the Army airfield to watch the group before her group marshal and hop on the busses.  That really helped me handle the whole thing; I knew what to expect.

Sunday we slept in and did a little shopping for nice to have items.  We put new tires on Elise's truck...that was good.  Walking around Cross Creek Mall was like going back in time.

Elise had to work a lot of Monday, but we met for lunch at El Cazador.  Elise decided it was Apple Day, and we celebrated with her friend Lacey, another MBC graduate.  Dinner included baked apples and a delicious apple desert, and the girls helped themselves to some sort of apple drink.  After dinner, Kim, Jim, Elise and I went to see Dream House, then closed down the bar at Ale House.

Tuesday we got up, finished packing, and met Jonathon, Kelly and Chris at Mi Casita.  From there we went straight to the airfield for manifest call.  Elise drew her M4 and took care of a few things, then we all stood around waiting.  Manifest went fast and she was on the bus headed for Pope before we knew it.

The drive back was a blur, but we mad it home about the same time she took off.

Work has been work.  If I get the weather, I plan on detailing Elise's truck, a little way to do something for her.


Thursday, 22 September, 2011:  Change One-Thousand

Things have changed, so I took off work yesterday to pick Kim up at Bragg.  I got two phone calls from work while driving, and both were at places I should have turned, so I found my self, firstly, headed to Danville, and then, missed the 421 exit and was ten miles deast before I figured it out.  I am so not a multi-tasker.  I got there in time for lunch and Jim, Kim, and I went to Chili's.  The trip back home was uneventful, but it's good to have Kim here.  I'm tired of driving.

We'll head back in early October.


Monday, 19 September, 2011:  Elise's Last Weekend

Kim, Jonathon, Jake, Kelly, Barbara, and I all converged on Bragg and Fayetteville for Elise's last weekend home before deployment.  We're unsure of her actual departure date, but it should be this week. Kim rented us a suite at Home 2 that would comfortably sit us all and we watched the Auburn Game on two flat screens.  Sadly, THAT didn't turn out well.

It really didn't seem like we had much time with Elise at all.  She had to work every morning we were there, and when she wasn't working, she was very tired.  I think she won't get a break until she gets on the plane.

Before I left, I gave her "The Talk."  "The Talk" covers the last things I have always given my boys, and have given many former Cadets, and gave Jonathon, before they left for war.  I know Elise will be OK, but It sure made me feel better to tell her.  I left shortly after because I didn't want her to see me upset, and I was getting more emotional the longer I stayed.

The drive back was torturous.

On a brighter note--The Kim Richey concert was super fun.  I drove to Roanoke after work and found Kirk Avenue Music Hall with no problem.  When I walked in, I was happily surprised to see it mostly empty, with only about one-hundred seats, a small bar, and a small table selling merchandise.  I thought I might be the creepy old guy, but found myself among a bunch of hippy types about my age, all who seemed to know as much about Kim and her music as I did.  I bought a beer and chose a seat on the third row.  I could have been front row center, but I would have felt conspicuous.  The place slowly filled up with a really nice crowd.  After a warm up act, whose name I forget, whose music I liked, but whose words I could not understand one bit, Kim came out and sang for about an hour and a half.  It was great.  Before we left, she came out and talked with the crowd and signed CDs and such.


Sunday, 4 September, 2011: Cadre and Matriculation Weeks, First Week of Classes, and New Market

Today was New Market Sunday and Cadet Oath at the battlefield.  All went well and I drove Bess up to make my day a little more interesting.  It was hot and miserable and I soaked through yet another dress uniform.  I swear, next year, I'm going to wear running gear.  Yeah.  Probably not.

Saturday was out first football game and it was a disappointment.  I think we had that game won on about three occasions, but we let it slip away.  We paused the game for the first time since I've been here.  Auburn also suffered in their game but came out on top in the end.  I didn't get to watch it because the VMI game was at the same time.

Cadre week and Matriculation week both went well...the same.  It seems as if we're getting more troubled kids these days, and by that I mean kids with serious problems, but mostly the ones that leave, leave for the same old reasons.

Cadre did a fine job with them and the drill comp at the end of the week was very good.  We didn't swim the river this year for the crucible, so that was shorter, but the new obstacles added a level of activity missing in past years.  We'll probably keep it this way.  House  mountain was cancelled about half way through because of a huge lightening storm that came right over the mountain.  I felt like I was back on Hachita Mountain in New Mexico when that storm hit us.

The first week of classes went well.  We have added a new rule for small infractions--Instant PTs.  Rather than boning a Cadet and make them answer a special, we just hit them with a PT penalty for small infractions.  Hat on back of head?  Two PTs!  I love it.  Will it work?  Cadets are pretty stubborn.


Sunday, 14 August, 2011: Cadre

Cadre return to Barracks today to begin the week-long training before the Rats arrive next Saturday.  I'll go in and spot MAJ Kevin until the night OC comes on about 1700hrs. Tuesday I'll teach a leadership class to the corporals and sergeants.

I put the Roush Short Throw Shifter in my car yesterday and it was worth every penny and all the sore muscles this morning.  The install went well, but when the instructions said , "10mm deep well socket or closed end wrench" they meant "go get a 10mm deep well socket and a long rachet extension or taking off the mounting bracket is going to be a pain in the ass."   Taking the nuts off the bracket 1/16th turn at a time while pinned up under the car, reaching around exhaust pipes, the drive shaft, and the transmission was painful.  The instructions also made a mistake about pulling out the stock shifter. The tell you to maneuver it between the drive shaft and the floor pan, when it has to come out the console.  The Roush Shifter has to go in from the bottom, front first, or, because it is so long, it won't clear a bolt on the transmission.  Everything else was super easy.

Shifts in Bess are now more positive, much shorter, and quicker.  I love it. Bess is just a little more Bad Ass.


Tuesday, 9 August, 2011:  It's in the Mail

I got my short throw shifter in the mail from Roush yesterday.  My plan is to put it on Thursday, weather permitting, but I have to buy a few things first to make the job go smoothly.  It looks like a simple job, but most of that is work under the car, so I'm going to have to jack it up pretty high.  I'll document the steps as I go.

This is a staff work week.  We gave the VFT to the football team this morning at 0600hrs and that went very well.  The new rules are that the VFT doesn't count for grade any longer, but is heavily weighted on the competitions between companies.  I don't see this as changing how cadets will view the test; those that care will, and those that don't care won't.  I'm not sure how I'll try to motivate Hotel Company.

Last Saturday night was my 40th High School Reunion.  It was a load of fun.  A lot of folks showed up and I got to see a few that I haven't seen for a while.  Patty went with me and as usual, she looked amazing.  We were met at the door by Sally Sanders, Chris Hooten, and Courtney Kelly, three of the committee members who put it all together.  Bill Pricket came in shortly after us and I hung out with him most of the night.  Bob Cornelius was there and brought over his sister, Cricket, to "introduce" to me.  She married Walter Ford, and I swear, neither of them has changed a bit.  Becky Wood was there with her husband Zeke, Donna O'Barr came, and Rick Dunsmore and wife Lee were there, Carey Martin, and Mike Noles from the old 6th Avenue North neighborhood showed  up, Jim Posey (who married Becki and I) was there, and Ron Lambert, JM Waites, Pam Blakely, Alan Speaker, Marta Jordan, Debbie Rogers, Nancy Shouse, Nancy Pettus, and Floyd Vest were there. Family Bafraca, Bill, Rosa-Marie Sacco got together for a photo.

There were others I didn't get to talk to, and many I'd love to have seen, but it was a great night over all.  2230hrs came too early.  I wish Lynn had been there.


Wednesday, 3 August, 2011: The Last Few Days Off.

I leave for Birmingham tomorrow to link up with Kim and Elise, see Mom, and attend my 40th high school reunion.  Kim and Elise left this afternoon from Bragg and I'm going to try and get up early in the morning to get there by lunch.

Yesterday I drove to Petersburg to see the Crater, but didn't really get there. I ended up at Five Forks Battleground where General Pickett and 10,000 Confederates were overrun by five-times their number led by General Sheridan, cutting Lee's supply lines and threatening the Confederate right flank.  Called the Waterloo of the South, it is a great story containing bravery, luck, good leadership, and the fog-of-war.  The drive back was uneventful until I ran up on a wreck on Highway 60.  I had to detour down the Blue Ridge Parkway to Highway 130 and then through Glasgow to get home.  I made it just as the sun set to take the flags down.  Next time I need to go I64 to I95.  This will be a good trip for COL John and I next May.

Last weekend, we hosted Elise's Promotion and Deployment Party.  It was a great time and loads of her friends showed up for the fun.  Jonathon made a gigantic slip-n-slide in the front yard, Kim had Aramart cater the food, and Elise made Jell-O Shots and pitchers of margaritas, all of which seemed to make everyone pretty happy.  We ended the party at the house by launching two flights of Sky Lanterns.  This was Elise's idea and I had my reservations, but the were really cool. They caused quite a stir in Lexington with people driving on post to see what was going on and the Post Police arriving.


Tuesday, 26 July 2011: Kim is Home!!

I drove to Lynchburg yesterday to pick up Kim after signing over the range keys to a visiting ODA.  Her plane was about three hours late getting in, so I took the rest of the day off.  She spent the evening opening up the packages of stuff for Elise's deployment/promotion party--lots or pink and green things.  Kim is so talented.  The party is going to be amazing.  It's Saturday.

On the 11th, Sarah came over and she and I finished up Game of Thrones.  Can't wait for the next season!!

On the 12th, Court and I had lunch at Donny T's and then took some photos.  I hadn't seen her in about two years.  She looked really pretty.

I finished this season of Dexter as well. I watched episodes between coats of paint on Bess's chin spoiler.  After scraping it on a curb and being hit by a few rocks on the highway, it was looking pretty sad.  I applied a lot of lessons learned from last time and it looks really good.

I was detailed for Jake Guard on the 15th and 16th, so Kelly and Jay came over that Friday night and Kelly Cooked dinner for us.  Barbara came too.  Kelly's Spicy Apricot Chicken was a huge success and I ate leftovers for two days after.  Time with Jake was all inside stuff because it was just too hot to go outside.  We had a good time though and he went to bed like a champ when it was time.  My sleep was intermittent with the baby monitor in my ear. Every time the little bugger moved, I woke up.

On the 18th and 19th DJ was in town and we met both days to take some shots for her boyfriend.  These turned out so much better than I thought they would.  I had never taken photos of anyone in a bikini before, but I found that it's pretty easy if the model is comfortable with you and she knows what she wants.  It worked out well.

The next day, she wore a little black dress, very little actually.  The location was my idea, the wall at the old locks at Ben Salem Wayside, and it was the perfect place. 

Nohelia came by that night to borrow a sleeping bag and mat for her trip to Bolivia with Engineers without Borders.  I also sent her with a Poncho Liner and small fleece sleeping bag, two items I never go anywhere without.

Barracks Supervisor duty is almost done.  I have about three weeks of Summer Furlough left and I hope to spend a lot of that time with Elise.  She'll be deploying soon.  She and Kim will leave for Alabama soon and I will join them on the 4th of August.  I have my 40th high school reunion on the 6th.  That should be a hoot.

I'll order my Roush Short Throw Shifter next week.  I'm all over that!


Saturday, 9 July 2011: Using OC to Catch Up

I have barracks supervisor duty this weekend and have little to do. I thought I'd work on my site a bit.  I didn't like the new one much and don't have the time this summer to do as much on it as I wanted, so I've re-published the old 2010 site.

Last weekend was the Independence Day weekend on Post.  Since VMI and the city of Lexington won't control the riff-raff that visit post, I took a stand to control things around my house.  I posted signs to keep people out of my parking places, keep them from parking in my yard, and to keep them from setting up their chairs and blankets in my front yard. My signs were not very friendly, but they worked like a charm.  This made the events on post a bit more bearable, and I was able to enjoy the company of our guests.

Kim and I host our friends who want to come see the balloons and fireworks.  This year Kimber, Dale, and Courtney came in from NOVA, Elise, Jim, Claire, and Laura drove in from Bragg, Kathy and Mattie came up from Alabama, Jake, Jonathon, Kelly, and Barbara made it, and Mike drove down from Charlottesville.  I was a good crowd.

The highlight of my weekend was taking Jake to participate in the Kid's Bike Parade down Main Street.  It was a hoot!  I think it is the best event of the day.  If we could do away with the balloons and just do that and have the fireworks at night, that would be the perfect mix for the day. 

The second session of summer school and The Summer Transition Program (STP) are both in full swing and Barracks is about half full. My plan to keep the STP kids separate from the upper class cadets seems to be working.  I put the summer school kids in Old Barracks and the STP kids in New Barracks.  The only Overlap is in the Barracks Study Room and the Washer and Dryer Room, which I check a lot.

My Uncle, Bubba Alexander, husband of Dad's sister Myrtle Ruth passed away yesterday  he has been in very poor health for a long while.  VMI lost two alums recently, CPT Mike Newton '02 and WO Howie Cook '01.  Mike, died in Afghanistan and Howie in a traffic accident in Texas.  Both were great guys and they are a great loss.  Courtney stopped by to talk about Mike's death night-before-last while I was on duty.  She was very close to him and his death has hit her whole family hard.

Mom's back surgery went well on the 22nd.  Jim and Lynn tell me it worked miracles.

Kim is in Florida and Jonathon is working with the COW program, which gives me a lot of alone time with Jake man.  Yesterday I picked him up from school and we went to McDonald's together.  I wanted Arby's, but Jake basically TOLD me we were going to McDonald's because the happy meals were better.  Happily he got just the toy he wanted in the bottom of the box.  The boy is doing very well on his Bike, but he only wants to ride it in Barracks.  He has had a couple of falls, but always gets right back on.  I'll begin raising the training wheels soon.


19 Jun, 2011: Back on the Chessie

I had Kim drop me off in Buena Vista and I ran the Chessie Trail back to the start line at the first gate--six miles.  It was my longest run so far this summer.  I didn't start until 1045hrs, so it was nice and hot out.  I was pretty wiped out by the end and had Kim come pick me up at the Pure station.  I need to add two miles to that next Sunday.

The rest of the day was quiet.  Jonathon, Barbara, and Jake took us out for Kim's Birthday and Father's Day.


17-18 Jun, 2011: Kim's Birthday/Jake Time

I got up this morning a little after midnight, and left for Lexington.  The drive was easy and There was no traffic that time of day.  I was beyond Knoxville before the work traffic began, and in Lex before 1000hrs.  Elise called me while I was driving and she and Jim were coming in to surprise Kim and bringing cup cakes.

Kim made tacos for dinner and, luckily, enough for everyone who showed.  Her impromptu party included, Jake, Jim, Elise, Chris, Sarah, and me.  Jonathon and Barbara went to see Kelly for a concert or something.

I crashed hard about 2000hrs.

Saturday was all about Jake; he and I played all day.


16 Jun, 2011

Today Stephanie and I will take mom to St. Francis for an MRI.  Jim and Lynn are on San Antonio visiting Lynn's daughter and grandchildren, so I am staying in Birmingham until either the doctor says mom is fine or they return. I'm hoping to get home for Kim's Birthday tomorrow, but that looks unlikely.  The MRI showed mom had a crack on her L4.  Actually it showed a really bad back that.


15 Jun11:

We got mom out of the house and took her to her favorite lunch spot, Sherry's East Gate Diner in Centerpoint.  I called Bill and Sylvia and had them meet us there.  Mom enjoyed having Bill and Syl come, but really could have cared less about the place.  I like this little diner.  The food is always good and the portions plentiful, and it is simple and just what you'd think a "Sherry's Diner " would look like inside.


14Jun11: More Ancestor Searching

After Sprints at Bradford park this morning, I showered and drove to Trussville to meet Becky Wood Bixler for Coffee at Starbucks.  Becky was has always been one of my favorite people and we have known each other sines the seventh grade when we were both members of the B4-Hi social club.  The conversation was super and she had a lot of advice when it came to Mom.  She has already been through the same thing with her husband Zeke's family. The Coffee?  So so.

I went with Sylvia and Sherri to Springville Baptist Church looking for the grave of her maternal Grandfather and Grandmother John Dean and Susie Adeline Terry, who she never knew, and until just recently didn't know their names.  We had a little trouble finding the church, (it is on Robinson Street west of Highway 11), but Sherry walked right up on the graves.  Sadly, the stone is new and doesn't give anything but the year of birth and death, and it does not include Susan's maiden name.  The only clue to her family is that their stone is buried among the Inzer Family.


13Jun11: Trash to Dump

I spent two days cleaning up Mom's Garage, sorting, and categorizing.  The amount of junk accumulated over the years made up a truck load and a half.  Luckily the landfill is just off Alton Road and easily accessed from Mom's house.  They opened at 0700 and I had it all done by 0800hrs.


Yesterday, cleaned the kitchen, picked up Don's truck, dinner with Jim, Lynn, and Colin, pizza.  Visited Bill and Sylvia.  Today, cleaned Mom's back porch and began cleaning the garage.


8JUN11: Taking Care of Old Business

Sadly, Jim and I took Rascal to the Greater Birmingham Animal Shelter.  On our way back, we picked up Costa's for lunch.  We took  Mom to the Doctor, but the x-ray was inconclusive, so I'll have to take her back for an MRI next Thursday.


7JUN11, Tuesday: Birmingham

I drove to Birmingham this morning, getting on the road at 0400hrs.  I got in town right at 1200 and met Jim, Lynn, and Colin for Lunch .  Milo's for Dinner.


4JUN11, Saturday: Jake's Birthday Party

Today was Jake's 4th Birthday Party.  When asked what kind of party he wanted to have, he immediately said, "PIRATE!"


2 JUN, 2011, Tuesday: Marshall Award and the Secretary

Today I took  5 Cadets to post the Colors for the Marshall Award Gala in Washington DC honoring the Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton.  As usual, the civilians bastardized the way the colors would be posted, but I took it in stride and we did it the best we could.  It looked sharp.  COL John took the Herald Trumpets and they did a fine job.

The dinner was great and the kids tried to get up to meet the Secretary, but the cut off the line and had everyone go back to their seats; seems even the Secretary of State likes to have a chance to eat her dinner.  I was very impressed that, when she saw the Cadets turn away, she called over her aide and instructed her to set up a meeting with just the Cadets.  The aide made a be-line to me to coordinate that.

Christiane Amanpour acted as MC for the evening and she was absolutely amazing. The Secretary's speech compared the Marshall plan to what we need to do today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and after the "Arab Spring"  It was an decent speech.

After dinner, the secretary took time to meet with each cadet and pose for photos.  It was a nice touch and she won me over.


22 May, Sunday: Shiloh and Blast Ball

Jake man is down for his nap so I'm using the time to start working on my site.  We've had him all weekend and it has been, as usual, a lot of fun.  Yesterday I got to take him to his Blast Ball game while his Dad ran a race and his Kady drove with Sarah to see Christina in Staunton.  He did really well, but gets really excited when he is up to bat and forgets all the things that make him such a good hitter.  He got three hits, but was pretty angry that the other team didn't hit the ball to him.

The last week of school was super busy for me.  I took the 4th classmen out to the George Washington National Forest from the 11th after exams until the 13th around Noon.  As soon as we got them all back, we jumped right in on the rehearsals and practice parades, preparing for graduation, commissioning, and New Market Day.

COL John and I took off for Shiloh battlefield the morning after graduation.  Our drive took us down some of the Naches Trace Parkway and then on into Savannah Tennessee.  Our intention was to drive Bess to Pittsburgh Landing, watering our horse on the Tennessee River so to speak, but, like Johnston, we didn't quite make it.  We spent all day Wednesday walking the ground and visiting the monuments.  We read maps, books, source documents, and brochures along the way and we both learned a lot.  My main objective was to walk the ground the Mississippi regiments fought as they attacked Sherman.  I'm going to continue to act on my assumption that John Clayton, my Great-great-grandfather, joined a Noxubee County Regiment, that the the family oral history is correct and he died at Shiloh.  I visited every marked Confederate Trench on the map assuming he must be buried in one of them.  Sadly, not all of the trenches are marked and many have been lost to time.

Saturday, 7 May, 2011: Ill, while getting ready for FTX

I am deep in the preparation process and about as ill as I've been in in a while.  I'm not sure what I ate, but last night

Saturday, 23 April, 2011: Nationals, Marshall Awards, Tours, and a nice Jake Weekend

Jake and I just got back from watching VMI beat Liberty in Baseball.  Beating Liberty is always good, but this was the third of three games and they slipped by us the first two, so winning while watching the game with Jake made it extra good.  Perhaps Jake is VMI's good luck charm.

Jake is really coming to understand the game, but couldn't grasp why they wouldn't hit him a foul ball.  One of the VMI fans must have heard our conversation and gave him a ball when we were leaving.

He has been staying here since Friday night while his Dad and Mom visit friends.  They'll come get him Sunday morning to celebrate Easter together.

This month has been very busy and the time before graduation and summer seems to be racing by.  I took five members of the Trap and Skeet Team to Nationals in San Antonio Texas.  Kim went along and visited with her cousins and Aunt Barbara while I stayed with the team and took them to the different shooting events.

Nationals didn't go as well as expected.  When we got there we found out one of the guys was ineligible and they wouldn't let him shoot at all.  The others shot well, even in the International events, but with out a fifth shooter, we couldn't compete for the team events.  On the last day, we shot Trap, which we consider our event. Just as we began shooting, a thirty mile per hour wind kicked up in our face.  Our scores were far below our norm.

San Antonio is pretty unremarkable if you ask me.  I kept calling it El Paso the whole time, probably because I saw no real difference.  I did like the River Walk a bit, but it really wasn't that great.

We got back in time for the Leadership Retreat.  We hosted the 2012 leadership out at a new conference center just past Mckethan Park.  It was really nice and the Cadets for next year seem to be a good lot.  Sadly the Second Class President has since been suspended from school for misconduct, so they haven't gotten off to a spectacular start.

I had to leave the Retreat early to Post the Colors for the Heart Association Ball in Richmond, a five-star event held in the Science Museum.  It was the nicest event I have ever seen and I have been to a LOT of nice events.  The boys did a super job.

DJ came into town for a job interview and we took a lot of photos. I tried some available light shots and they turned out great.  We had Mex at Don Tequila's one night and drove to Staunton to eat Sushi at Massaki the next.  She has just finished her MP training in the Marine reserves and is looking for a decent job.

This past week was the Marshall Awards and we Posted and retired the Colors for their opening and closing events.  In the past two weeks I've led tours for Subway's Jared, the Chief of Staff of the Army, and the Superintendent of some military school in New York.  Thursday, I hosted Trap and Skeet Team tryouts.  We had twenty Cadets try out.

Now I have two and a half weeks to prepare for the fourth class FTX, and next week I will spend all my afternoons interviewing folks to replace CPT Amanda.


Sunday, 20 MAR 11: Driving Home

I left Birmingham at about 0800hrs Central Time and made it back to Lex. before 1650hrs EST.  That's a record--7-hours and 50 minutes.  I got back in time to take down the flags, then drove to the house to unpack the car and prep for work starting tomorrow.  The cats were happy to see me.

I have duty tomorrow night.  Yay.


Saturday, 19MAR11: A Day Alone With Mom

Stephanie had to go to the hospital this morning with a pain in her side, so I had Mom to myself.  We both were sleeping in when Fran came in to let us know.  Once we were both up and dressed, we drove over to Jim and Lynn's for lunch.  Jim and Lynn were busy, so, even though we were there, it was still just Mom and me.

Lynn fixed burgers which were good, and we all enjoyed the beautiful Alabama weather for a while, but then Jim and Lynn went across the street to work on her tent for a craft show coming up soon.  I read through the new Time waiting for them to come back, but they never did.  Finally, I walked mom across the street to say goodbye.  On the way home Mom and I stopped for a Banana Pudding Shake at Chick-fil-a.

For dinner I fixed frozen pizza. 

Mom seems to do best when you let her do some things for herself,  Sometimes she needs steering in the right direction, but simple tasks like washing dishes seem to give her such a sense of accomplishment.  Getting dressed is simple...but she needs to have only one option.  I think we need to cut down on the amount of choices she has; put all the rest in the closet and hang out just what she is to wear.

About the coolest thing that happened today was getting to talk to Courtney, Becky, Sally, and Jane, old friends from my high school days.  I wished I could have met with them, but duty called at Mom's house.

I didn't take one photo the entire time I was home.


March 18, 2011: On to Birmingham

I left Fayetteville at 0900 to have lunch with Catherine in South Carolina.  We met at Harleyville, as planned, and there were three small restaurants.  The sports bar was filled with a bunch of old guys who looked like they stepped out of the 1920's, the Chinese place only had a couple of customers and no buffet, so we decided on Just Desserts Bakery and Deli, which was filled with some nice looking folks.  The Reuben sandwich I ordered was really good and the gigantic slice of cocoanut cake was delicious.

After lunch and lots of "catching up" I took Highway 17 from Harleyville to Augusta.  That was slow going, but there were some amazing old homes in the little towns along that highway.  I guess my timing was perfect, because I took I-20 through the center of Atlanta at 1800hrs and zipped straight through.  I was amazed.  However, I-20 in Alabama was, STILL, all messed up.  Even though there was no discernable construction going on but the first thirty to forty miles was posted "55."  There were no troopers so everyone was driving between 55 and 80 causing some pretty dangerous driving situations.  Once the speed limit went to 70, it mostly corrected itself, but I was still surprised at how the road surface went from great to bad to worse in sections all the way to Pell City.  There was only one section where you could say that they really did a good job.

I finally made it to Birmingham and stopped at Bill and Sil's house first.  The were watching Lost in Translation so I stayed and slept there that night.

Mom, Stephanie, and I met Jim, Lynn, and Colin at Logan's for dinner.  Logan's has never been a favorite place, but it was OK.  I liked the peanuts.  I think I have every song they played in the place on my i-Pod.


March 17, 2011: Headed to Birmingham via a Short Detour

Elise's surgery went very well and she woke up in fine spirits craving a burrito from Taco Bell.  She said the doctor told her he was going to wrap her up like a burrito after surgery and this was the reason for the craving.  We went to the hospital at 0800 and were out by 1300 or so.  It was like an assembly line.

I'll be leaving for Birmingham about 0900hrs this morning.  I worked out lunch on the way with Catherine in Harleyville SC.  All I'll have to do is drive a little past I-20 to I-26 and it's only a little more than an hour from her place in Charleston.  I'm not sure where we'll eat there, but  Kim found a couple of places on the web that look promising.

After lunch I'll cut across South Carolina on back roads to Augusta Georgia, then pick up I-20 to Atlanta, and then on in to Birmingham.  I'm not excited about this trip.  Seeing Mom will be niche, but it is also getting a bit sad.  Mom is losing more and more of her memory every time I see her and, I'm afraid, that soon she won't know us.


March 15, 2011: Elise and then Mom

Kim and I drove to Ft. Bragg this morning to see Elise through her next foot surgery.  Her appointment is tomorrow morning at 0800 and the doctor will cut her right big toe like he did the left back in April last year.  Her recovery will take a while and Kim will stay with her until she's up and around on her crutches again.  Once I know she's alright, I'll be driving to Birmingham to spend some time with Mom, Jim, Lynn, Colin, Bill and Sil.

It took a while to kick the last kids out for Spring Break on Friday.  There were quite a few waiting on parents to show up to drive them home.  I think I got out of there by 1800hrs or so.

Saturday morning I drive the rugby team to Dulles.  Funny Story.  I thought, when I volunteered , that we were going to Roanoke.  I really thought they were having me on when they told me we were going to Dulles. Instead of two hours, the drive took seven hours out of my day.  Captain Noah '04 and I stopped on the way home for lunch at Cracker Barrel, and then he and his wife gave me a ride home after we turned in the vans.  I got home in time to spend a little time playing ball with Jake before bed.

Sunday, after Barbara came to get Jake, I pulled the wheels off Bess and gave her underside a good scrub.  Monday, I went in to work for about an hour to make sure flags were taken care of while I am gone.  I also worked on the 100th birthday celebration for a young alum from the class of 1934 which will take place in Roanoke in mid-April.  That should be fun. 


March 5, 2011: Win Some, Lose Some

I dropped off Kim at the Airport at noon on Thursday and was back at work a little after 1300hrs.  I took the top five shooters who I'll take to Nationals, out to Mckethan for a couple of rounds of Trap, then I went to Jay's house for to watch the VMI vs. Coastal Carolina game. Jaye, KP, and I cheered our hardest, but sadly the Keydets did not win.  Our big center fouled out at the beginning of the second half which left us with no inside game.  We came back strong twice and let the game for a good part of the second half, but Coastal climbed back on top and then went ahead at the last.

Friday's Parade was cancelled by the Supe to reward the Corps for their support of the basketball team, and that was totally OK with me.

The weekend looks rainy and quiet.  I'm going to do as little as possible.  I did take the time to fix my passenger side seat molding.  I priced a new one at the ford place, and it was $50.  I decided to at least try to fix it first, so I bought some Epoxy this morning and my plan worked like a champ.  Now If I can get a bit of sunshine tomorrow, I'll vacuum and wash Bess.

I would write more if there was anything else to write about...or if I didn't have so much TV to watch.


March 2, 2011: Staying Busy Makes for a Happy SGM

It has been a busy couple of weeks, preparing for the Range, conducting three days of training, and getting all, well almost all, of the administration done to send the Trap and Skeet Team to the University of Kentucky competition.

Last Saturday was the Mid-Winter Formal and I had OC in Barracks.  That was almost fun, but I had to tighten up a few cadets trying to bring their dates in Barracks.  Mostly the night was quiet after a grand portion of the Corps moved to the local hotels.

Sunday Kim and I went hiking Douthat State Park west of Goshen Virginia.  It's a pretty park, but pretty boring this time of year.  We didn't even see one bird the whole time we were there.  There were no views and the trail was basically a slight up-hill walk.  I was looking at the park as a possible FTX site, but the whole place is probably only five miles wide by seven miles long.

I pushed out LTC Mitch and the team Friday afternoon in rental vehicles, but didn't realize that the Institute Drivers had either dropped off the team or weren't going.  Mitch had to get two guys qualified before they left which put them out late.  They shot well, but we didn't place this trip.

Friday I conducted my Range rehearsal walking the cadets through my plan to fire over three-hundred 4th Class Cadets as they familiarized on the M16 and M9.  The Army department shot on the range the Saturday before and they shot up the ceiling, firing SAWs from the standing position at the twenty-five meter line.  I was convinced I wouldn't do with M16s.  I took every precaution I could think of, but It wasn't enough.  We had about five young ladies shooting with their eyes closed, tearing up the sound dampening foam badly.  I had to move the firing to the fifteen meter line to keep this from happening.  Except for that and one of the Cadets getting the Van stuck in the new landscaping, everything went fine.  Each Rat and most of the NCMT Cadre fired fifty rounds of 5.56mm and eighteen rounds of 9mm.  I even got some shooting in at the end of the day.

Kim and I had Jake Saturday and Sunday nights; Jay was up visiting Kelly and Barbara was visiting friends on and off during the weekend.  We watched a lot of Jake and the Never Land Pirates and played a lot of Baseball and Soccer.  He was very excited to see the VMI baseball team warming up for a game and was ticked that his mom didn't get him back for some of the game.  Telling Jake that "there will be many more games" makes no impression.

I made my first Sushi on Sunday afternoon.  Kim gave me a rice maker and mat for my birthday and bought the ingredients on the shopping list I gave her last week.  We made the Su after we started the rice, which should have been the other way around, and, not listening to Kim, I used too much rice in my first roll, but otherwise, it went well.  I used crab, cucumber, and avocado as filling and it was delicious!  I'm looking forward to my next try.

Yeah, that's right, I made Sushi.

Monday was spent eating crow for the range damage and sending three Cadets to a funeral for a '44 grad in Richmond.  Next time we fire on this range, we'll begin from the fifteen meter line and see who is actually aiming their rifle.  Those with a decent group will be moved back to the twenty-five meter line, while those not hitting the target will be moved back to the concurrent training station.  I will also train later in the semester to make sure everyone has decent training before firing.  I'll also have one safety/coach with every firer.  The Army needs to put me on the access roster for the bunker so I can put the Ammo there after the range...or they're going to have to come in to do that.  Doing it Monday with help from one Army NCO was not the answer.  That's my AAR and I'm sticking to it!  Thanks to COL John for help getting the Bugler to the grave-side service.

Tuesday afternoon was day 3-2 of NCMT.  Just two more days to go.  Tuesday night the VMI basketball team beat Winthrop in a very exciting first-round conference play-off game sending us to Coastal Carolina for the semi-final game.  VMI is on a winning streak and playing their best ball of the season and Coastal has some top players out for discipline and academics, so our chances look great for going to the finals.  We're pretty excited around here.


February 12, 2011: Bragg to OC

I took off work early Wednesday and drove to Fayetteville to surprise Elise for her birthday.  She had no clue that I was coming and couldn't even hope that I was since Kim and I are a one car family and Kim had Bess there with her.  I rented a car from Enterprise, who picked me up at the house.  They gave me a Charger, which was a lot better than the Malibu the were going to give me.

As part of my plan, I called Elise that morning to wish her a happy birthday, and tol her that I was sorry I wasn't able to spend the day with her.  I tried again as I got to Fayetteville, but she missed the call.  She called me back as I turned right off of Bragg Boulevard, as she was leaving for work, which meant she was just a few minutes behind me.

I got to her house about a minute before her and scared the heck out of her when she came in.

We went out to dinner to Pierro's Italian Bistro with her friends Tory and Lacy, some West Pointer, and VMI grads Andrew '08, Jim '04, Roger '08, and Evan '08.  It was a good time and I sat at the end of the table with Jim, Roger, and Evan.

Kim and I drove back to Lexington the next morning with me driving Bess and Kim delivering the Charger.  We didn't get back until 1500hrs, so I changed and went to work for a few minutes...mostly answering e-mails.  I was able to finally organize the Trap and Skeet Team photo for the Bomb, VMI's yearbook.

Now I'm on OC for 24-hours.  We play Radford in Basketball and then we have the Mid-Winter Formal.  It should be a pretty quick day.  I imagine, however, that the night will drag on.

Having the opportunity to drive the Charger SXT for four hours I. of course, need to comment.  For a V6 and for as big as it is, it had pretty good pickup, but the automatic transmission was sluggish.  This thing rode like a boat, especially over bumps and in curves.  The seats were uncomfortable and I started looking for a better position less than two hours out.  It was the most boring car I've driven lately.  The VMI VIP Van drives better.  I sure hope the RT and SRT are more fun than this thing.

We beat Radford in Basketball today...which is always a good thing.  Sadly, none of their obnoxious fans were there.  I hate Radford.

Now all I have to do is get ready for the Mid-Winter Formal.  My job tonight will be to watch the bobos who are NOT going.  High adventure.


February 8, 2011: Check the VAN!

I've been left to my own devices for the last few days; Kim has Bess down in Fayetteville visiting Elise.  Not having a car leaves me little to do but work, workout, and watch movies...all of which I've been doing in earnest.  I'm way ahead of the power curve at work and things are running smoothly and I'm already working on the FTX which isn't until 11 May.  My workouts and runs are getting longer and stronger.  Having a run with Elise coming up on 19 March in Durham is motivating me.  Well, that and the nice weather we've been having.  As for movies, I've just finished the last of the Jesse  Stone series and have watched a lot of old favorites.

Last Saturday I took eleven Cadets to watch the last VMI hockey game of the season.  Sadly, JMU whipped us badly.  As a matter of fact, it was an ass whipping of the highest order.  To top it off, the Physical Plant called me Monday morning wanting to know why I tore up the VIP Van...which I had to get special permission to use.  I went out to see what the hell they were talking about and there were two scrapes down the side, a big chunk out of the wheel well molding, a gouge in the sidewall of one of the tires, two small lights broken off, and the chrome hubcap was missing.  I obviously didn't see this as I did my walk-around inspection...probably because of the dirt on the right side tires.  I remember thinking, "Why are the rear tires of the VIP Van so dirty?" my SGMness, being distracted by a pet peeve, I missed the damage to the vehicle, and Monday morning they were wondering why the hell I destroyed their van.  Luckily I had eleven witnesses, all honor-bound to tell the truth that knew, like I did, that I didn't do it.  After I forwarded the Physical Plant all the Cadet statements, I think they got the message.

Today was day-three of new Cadet Military Training and all is going well.  I watched the Weapons training today and then took in some of the First Aid training.  Good stuff.  The Cadre are really doing a good job.  Our Range day is coming up on Saturday the 26th.


January 28, 2011: Quiet Days

Kim just put Jake to bed and that gives me a little time to write here.  Jay and Kelly are spending the weekend with Elise in North Carolina, so Gail (Barbara's mom), Kim and I are watching Jake Man.  It's amazing how silent the house gets after the little bobo goes to bed.

Last weekend was Breakout and it went well.  It was a good plan, but changed a bit by the very low temperatures.  Instead of a eight mile march to the battlefield, we dropped off at the New Market fire station and walked in the last three miles.  At the battlefield the first class ran the Rats through station exercises and then they rushed the cannon.  Once we arrived back at VMI the three upper classes held sweat parties for them, then they hauled the three artillery pieces up to the Parade Ground and fired a fourteen gun salute for the class of 2014.  After dinner with their Dykes they did their first old yells.

We began New Cadet Military Training on Tuesday and that went well.  We'll train mostly on Tuesdays this year and fire on the new outdoor range on the last Saturday in February.

Thursday I had OC in Barracks and I was amazed how quiet Barracks can be after Breakout.  It was an easy night.

Today, I hosted a meeting on Barracks housing during summer school and the Summer Transition Program.  I want to make a lot of changes based on problems I've had during past summers.  My plan puts the summer school students in Old Barracks, using Jackson Arch, Washington Arch, and Daniel's Arch and the STP Students in New Barracks using Marshall Arch.  Sports Camps will use 3rd Barracks.  This way I can keep upper-classmen and future rats as separate as possible and give the Physical Plant a cgance topaint, clean and maintain the upper stoops in all three Barracks.  My only weak points then will be the Barracks Study Room and the Washer and Dryer Room...which will need to be checked more often.

I'm looking forward to this weekend with Kim and Jake.  Next Friday and Saturday are the last hockey games of the year and the last games for the 1st Classmen that I coached.  I need to go but Kim will be in Fayetteville with Bess for Elise's birthday.  I have a cunning plan.


January 16, 2011: My Birthday and some VMI Hockey

Friday was my birthday.  I had to go in early to help administer a random urinalysis test, but that went quickly and I got home by 0700hrs to run on the treadmill.  Kim and I went to the Chrystal Kitchen got Chinese for lunch and BR Jim arrived that afternoon for my birthday dinner.  I got out of the office by 1600hrs, actually about 1550hrs, and went right to the house.  Kim had a margarita waiting on me.  Kelly, Jake, Jonathon, Barbara and Jim all joined us for dinner, then we all settled in around the TV to supervise Jake.  Yeah, It Takes a Village to Raise a Child, but it takes all there are just to watch Jake-man.

Saturday morning was more of the same, with Kim getting up with Jake at the crack of dawn and me dragging myself out of bed about an hour later.  Jim went to Barracks when he got up to take his great-grand-Rats to lunch.  Jay came over to rescue us about 1200hrs and Kim and I went to Franks for Pizza....Just Us!  That afternoon, Jim and I drove to Lynchburg for the Liberty vs. VMI hockey game at LaHaye Ice Center.  My friend from Sweet Briar, Erin met us there,  That was a great surprise.  I miss those days when I was coaching the team and Erin and Laeun, who I call my "Favorites," would join us for games around the state.  Ah, but those days are mostly gone and the girls are out of college and in the big world.

VMI played Liberty very well, but lost by two.  We play their NCAA D-3 team, and they usually beat us by ten or more...but the boys came to play.  Had Liberty not gotten a couple of miracle goals, it would have been even.  To me, it was a win.

Today has been nice and quiet.  Jim and I met L-Train at Country Cooking for a really good breakfast.  Then we spent about 30 minutes trying to gas up Bess and get Kim a biscuit from Hardee's.  We watched Fight Night, which wasn't a good movie, but the girl was cute and the fight scenes pretty decent, tough entirely unbelievable.  Did I mention the girl was cute?

Jim left for Bragg in the early afternoon, so it's back to just Kim and me.  I just begged her for another margarita.  She makes a good one.


January 13, 2011: War Eagle, National Champs!

The tenth was a pretty stressful day.  We watched pregame crap on the TV all day.  Basically it was a re-hashing of the year and predictions from every sportscaster on the damn planet.  There was a lot of Cam Newton drama coverage.  Yawn.  Everyone had an opinion, but no one knew how this game was going to turn out.  Would it be a high scoring game; a shootout?  Would it be a defensive battle? Would Oregon run away from Auburn with their speed?  Could Oregon even have a chance at stopping Cam Newton?  No one knew.  I surely didn't.

I've been an Auburn fan as long as I can remember.  They are my team.

 I've been rooting for Oregon for about five years.  I don't know why, maybe It's the cool uniforms.  Maybe I just like a team that could be proud of having a duck as a mascot.  Maybe it was that there was a team on the west coast that could beat the California teams, and I HATE California teams.  For whatever reason, I did not want AU to play them.  I would have loved a Bosie State or TCU match up for Auburn, but the Ducks are truly Good; I had been telling everyone, all year, that The Ducks were the best team in the nation.

Jonathon, Kim and I watched the whole thing together.  Kim kept us supplied with food, Jonathon took care of Jake and got him to bed then took over the couch, and I settled in in my chair wearing my Auburn Tigers cap, and AU t-shirt, and AU Sweatshirt, and carrying my stuffed Aubie.  I was appeasing all the Auburn Gods.

Auburn came to play.  They shut the Ducks down and had they not been their own opponent, dropping at least three sure touchdown passes, failing to catch clutch third-and-short passes, and losing a critical fumble, they would have crushed Oregon.  Auburn's offensive ran over the Ducks but their mistakes kept Oregon in the game.  The defense was the best I've ever seen them, and were aided by Oregon's cockiness.  Had they kicked a field goal instead of going for it on fourth and goal from the one, they probably would have won the game.  I bet if we look back, they pulled that off all year against the people they usually play.  Auburn is SEC!

Auburn had some great performances in the game.  Cam Newton showed great courage playing hurt, Kody Burns scored his first TD reception, Nick Fairley and the boys were tough up front, and Michael Dyer had two critical runs at the end of the game.  The guy who should have won the game and did, after doing it six times this year, was Mr. Automatic, Wes Byrum, kicking a game winning field goal with one second on the clock.

End State--Auburn wins, National Champs, Cam gets the Heisman, Coach Chizik wins one Coach of the Year award, and Coach Malzahn and Coach Roof are returning for next year.  Pretty good year.  War Eagle.


January 8, 2011: Sad Duty

Yesterday, I took a Cadet firing part to Quantico to bury one of our Cadets who drowned while setting out decoys for duck hunting.  This is the 4th Cadet we've lost during the holidays during my time here at VMI.  We do what we can to support the families.  It is sad, but honorable duty.

The firing party was not my normal team, but, because of the holidays, a hodgepodge if Cadet volunteers.  We rehearsed Thursday morning and had it down fairly well, then got on the road that afternoon.  We stayed in the Holiday Inn in Dumfries which was really nice, and got to the cemetery about 0830hrs.  Everything went well, the volleys sounded great, and the team did a great job.

I was probably more unorganized this trip than any other trip, and was working with everyone else's plan.  I forgot to take my blues jacket and had to turn around and go back for that.  I didn't take my overcoat or gloves, so I was pretty cold out there in the cemetery.  One big thing I had to fix was the way the officers planned for me to take the weapons.  I was told I would have to carry a locked rifle-rack, and chain the rack to the van.  This was a mission next to impossible to accomplish, leaving me less room for the team and their equipment, and would have meant leaving the rifles in the van overnight.

Basically I called all the parties and told them how I would carry the weapons, leaving very little room for them to argue.  How could they, unless they were willing to take the team to Quantico?

I got back to Lexington about 1530hrs, ready for a weekend of just me, Kim, and football.


January 4, 2011: Lexington, Birmingham, Jackson, Macon, Fayette, and Berry.

I found Carrie. 

I have been on a search for Carrie Lagrone Neel Lindley, my Great-Great-Grandmother, wife of John Clayton Neel.  I knew where her second husband, sons, and daughter were buried, but had never found her grave listed.  The break in the search came when I found her obituary saying she "died in Macon" and was "buried Salem." I found her just outside Macon Mississippi, buried in the cemetery at Salem Methodist Church on Highway 14.  It was a pretty emotional moment for me.

I spent a long time during my Christmas Furlough making sure I had the right info, did a map recon of all the "Salem" references in Mississippi, and planned out where I would go and when.  I left for Birmingham a few days later than planned because of the snow storm that hit the east coast.  My first cousin Sherri went along, her bad back making the trip much slower than the usual eight-hour drive.  It took us almost twelve.

Mom's birthday was the 30th, but we took her to Jim and Nick's for a birthday dinner the next day when Jim and Lynn were home from Texas.  We invited the sitter we hired for her, Ms. Stephanie, to go along.

Ms. Stephanie, as I call her, is a godsend. She sits with mom during the day, cooks for her, and makes sure she get's her medicine.  She is super sweet to Mom and mom loves her as much as we do.  The whole situation is working out great.

Saturday, Sherri left in a rental car to visit kin on her mother's side and I left for Jackson Mississippi on Sunday.  On my way to Jackson, I stopped in Tuscaloosa to take photos of Don's grave and the graves of my Grandparents and great-grandparents on my mom's side and at Salem Baptist Church south of I20/59, to search their cemetery on the off-chance that this was the "Salem" mentioned in Carrie's obituary.  There were no family names in this cemetery.

I picked up Patti, an old friend from Woodlawn High School, at the Jackson airport and we spent the afternoon and evening together.  We ate dinner at a sushi place and spent the rest of the evening talking and catching up until well after midnight.  Patti is a fine Christian lady and well read on the scriptures, and not too keen on many of my heretical ideas; the conversation was sometimes "heated."  She is a good southern girl and graciously overlooked my heathen ramblings..

The next morning she had coffee ready at 0530 so I could get an early start. I got on the road y 0600 and hit McDonalds on the way out of town.

My first objective was to find Mohegan Cemetery, which is supposed to be east of Mississippi 45.  I couldn't find it, and though armed to the teeth, the locals didn't look too welcoming.  I got out of there without asking questions, intending to try again someday when I have Jim or Jonathon with me.

It took only a few more minutes to get to Macon and I took the time to photograph the Noxubee Courthouse and the Confederate Memorial.  Listed on that memorial of Noxubee County confederate fallen is a "J O Neal."  It is not too much of a stretch, I think, for someone to misread a "C" as an "O" or to think that someone spelled "Neel" the more common way.  I have a census from back then that lists Nicholas and Molly as "Neal."  However, two mistakes in one name make me wary of taking that leap.

My map and mosaic recon listed a Salem Methodist Church about three miles east of Macon on County 14.  I thought this was my most likely prospect.  I drove into the church parking lot, right up to the fence of the cemetery.  Right in front of me were the grave stones of two Lindley couples.  I thought this was a very good sign.

Out on the grave yard was a elderly gentleman raking and cleaning up.  He came over and talked for a while and I asked him about the Lindleys and if he knew of a Carrie Lindley burred here.  He didn't, but said that if the obituary said, "buried Salem," this was definitely that Salem. He told me that the graves in front of my car were relatively new, that the ones on the far left were the most recent, and that I should begin in the center, so I did exactly that.

Starting at the fence line, I began, row-by-row, searching the names.  I was on about the sixth row and then there she was, a beautiful, round top stone, with a rose cut into a circle, and her name below, right in front of me.  All I could say was, "Hey."  A went back to the car for a camera, got control of myself, took some photos and then had a long talk with Carrie.

On the trip back to Birmingham, I drove through Fayette and Berry to visit places I used to visit with my mom's parents.  It seems to me that both houses are gone, but I think I found Bawpaw's store.  Yeah...Bawpaw Lee.  That would be an Alabama thing you might not understand.

Today has been slow.  Sherry didn't show up until late afternoon, so Mom, Ms. Stephanie, and I went to lunch at the East Gate Cafe, Mom's favorite place to eat.  The food was delicious.  Bill came to pick me up around 1530 and took me to the graves of his grandmother and great-grandparents.

Sherri and I will get on the road, hopefully, about 0700hrs tomorrow.  I have to get back soon; the Commandant called me today to let me know a VMI Cadet drowned while duck hunting.  The funeral is Friday and the family wants a firing party, so I need to get back in time to train up the Cadets to do that.


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