My Journal

I began an online journal while in Kosovo and on my third assignment to Turkey. It was a lonely, confusing, sometimes ugly time for me, so writing was cathartic.

That journal caused a lot of trouble.

There were far too many people reading it, who thought by doing so, that we were big buddies and they knew me. Reading between the lines and talking shit was the name of their game.

I began to filter what I put out there, but, no more. I pretty much say what I want here. I'm blunt and straightforward, so there is no chance for misinterpretation.

2019

Wednesday, 21 August, 2019:  It's Hot, I'm Stupid

Yesterday, dying to get out of the house, I ran a list of graves in the area that people on Find-a-Grave wanted photographed.  I volunteer to do that, like a lot of people who use the site.

As I was headed out the door, Kady said, "It's hot out there. Don't you think you should do this when it cools off?"

Yeah, I went anyway. All three cemeteries were within a 5-mile radius to the house, so I figured it wouldn't take too long.

Searching cemeteries in 95-degree heat is a lot of work. To make it worse, I couldn't find any of the graves, so I had to search every grave in all three cemeteries.

People just don't do their research.

By the time I got home, I was drenched with sweat, my core temperature was way up, and I was beat!

The Pool Was Not Open!  I took a cool shower.

Grave hunting is for the Fall and Spring, for sure.

 

Thursday, 15 August, 2019: Debra Smith Died Today

I'm actually writing this a week later. Today is 22 August and I still have no clue what to say or think about this. I'll type.

I know I feel for Boyce, but I can't imagine what he went through as she died, what he is going through as he prepares to bury her, and what he well go through the rest of his life. Without her, Boyce will not be Boyce, not to me anyway. They were two people who truly became one, a love story for the ages.

I met Boyce back in high School when I toured with 66 Street Baptist Church in 1969.  He held the dubious honor of liking a girl I also liked, and dated her, much more successfully than I.

I saw him again at a bible study out in Tarrant city, and he and I became good friends as Machaira Church formed. At the time, he was dating a beautiful and sweet co-ed at Alabama, Debra Milton. I was married to Becki at the time and we four became the best of friends.

He and I decided to go in the Army together. In 1975, he and I went to the MEPS station. During the process, we got split up.  After signing my enlistment papers, I went back out to the waiting area and there was Boyce. I said something to the effect that we were on our way and he broke the news that he couldn't do it.  He didn't join because he couldn't leave Deb.

I was actually OK with that.

Becki and I made it home from the 82nd for their wedding at Arlington house in Birmingham.

Then years and geography happened and our friendships began to cool. We had nothing in common except for the church and I was fighting my association with that.

Sure, when we were in town, we hung out together, but It wasn't like it was.

When Becki and I divorced, I think it hit Boyce and Deb the hardest. They lamented losing Becki in the deal. They didn't lose me; I practically moved in with them and they propped me up during that particularly bad time in my life.

Later, through them, I met Kady. Boyce worked for her dad, also a member of the church, and he acted like her big brother, probably because Bill expected him to. Her nick-name "Kady" was given to her by Boyce.

Many years passed from that time and my job took Kady and me farther and farther away from Birmingham, for long periods of time. We lost touch with Boyce and Deb and the church.

We saw them briefly when Kady's parents died. They came to both services.

Then Deb was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Nothing worked, not surgeries, therapy, diet, prayer, or faith.  There were no miracles.

Ah, how much less terrible this would be had I my old beliefs. I would know what to say. I would know how to feel.

Now, all I'm left with is this:  Deb has died.  It is a sad day and a great loss.  She was a sweetheart, incredibly beautiful, as fine a Christian lady as has ever lived, well respected and much loved. I feel for Boyce and hope he will be OK without her.  Fuck Cancer.

 That, is all I have to say about That.

 

Monday, 12 August, 2019: Corrections by Tedium

I should be at the pool. Instead, I'm at my desk correcting problems on my site. Basically, my Style Sheet hate me and my propensity to double-space after sentences and add spaces where there shouldn't be spaces. It hates my typing in general.

When I make a mistake, it reverts to any number of fonts and sixes and I don't know how to fix that. YET.

I've taken most of my site, one page at a time, and cut from my publisher, pasted into Open Office, and removed all the errant spaces by hand, one at a time.  I am certain there is a way to delete these spaces all at once in either Open Office or Expressions Web 4, but I can't figure it out, nor have I been able to Google it.

This is time consuming and my brain has to fix it, somehow.

Later: Figured it Out. Go to code. Edit-Find:  (the code for additional spaces in html) Replace with nothing. That removed them all, lickety-split.

All I have to do is stop double-spacing between sentences, a habit that is very hard, I find, to break.

 

Thursday, 8 August, 2019: Pompeii Exhibit

I have been seeing ads for the Pompeii Exhibit on YouTube for a while now and I finally got to checking it out. I asked Jay if he'd like to go with me, and he said yes, then it turned into a family trip. Kim agreed to go along as well.

We left this morning a little after 9AM, and the drive was no problem, only a little over an hour to get to the Science Museum of Virginia.

The museum is in the old Richmond Rail Terminal which is a beautiful Building. See Birmingham! This is how you treat beautiful architecture.

We began watching Rat basketball, two rats that learned to play a game of basketball, basically talking turns on a little court dunking a ball through hoops, for treats of course. It was a blast.

Next was the Speed Exhibit which teaches the relative speed of things like space craft, the SR-71 Blackbird, sound, the fastest baseball pitch, runners, up to the speed of light. There were kids everywhere, and they were all very involved in the learning experience. I enjoyed watching Jay and KS engage Jk and Em in the learning experience. Kim did her thing, then waited on the rest of us.

There were lots of things for kids to do, which made it fun for the Grands.

We finally made it to the Pompeii exhibit, the reason for the trip, and, I'll have to say, it was amazing. There were paintings, amphora's, artifacts, tools, glass vials, bronze, gold, and jeweled jewelry, surgical instruments, and sculptures. They told the story with two nicely done 360 degree video dioramas and models of buildings.

The exhibit really gave you a feel for the people who lived there and died that day.

The last item was two casts of people, made from the cavities formed by the lava, decaying bodies, and then filling the cavity with plaster. I tried three times to photograph them, but couldn't bring myself to do that. Kim thought it was the best thing of the day. I have walked ancient streets to many times, thinking on those who lived those streets, to enjoy seeing two suspended in their death throes.

It was, however, the perfect way to end the exhibit, because that's why we were there, to learn about the people, how they lived, what happened, and how valuable the site of Pompeii is to the study of everyday Roman life.

Today was a good day.


Wednesday, 31 July, 2019: Thunderstorms and Streisand

It has been storming for the last two days and we're having one now, not to far away. These have been afternoon thunder storms, loud, with heavy rain, and strong winds, but there hasn't been much damage.

Actually, we needed the rain.

This have kept me in the house since Monday, except for my morning walks. That means movies. Yesterday, I watched Patriot games again. Love that Movie. Today, I searched for something, I don't remember what, but one of the Movies Like This options on Xfinity was Funny Girl.

Funny Girl...I know thie movie by heart. I know every line, every word of every song. Every person in my high school inner circle did too. We watched it over and over.

It took me a while to catch up with the rest of my friends because I didn't see it until a year after it came out. If you were going to hang around Lynn, Jane Ann, Bill, Janice, and especially Shelly, you had to love this movie.

Certainly, when I hear "People," I think of those times, when I had my closest friends, how I needed them, and how I really felt lucky to have them in my life. I wish I had friends like that now, I think, but I have never met people outside the family who measured up.

As young people, I think we were all looking for that special person we could love and belong to, like Fanny belonged to Nick, no matter what, "Forever More." When I found that kind of love, I knew the second verse was just as true--I was half, now I was whole, and I am one of the luckiest people in the world.

Like Vanishing Point, 2001, Butch and Sundance, and Billy Jack, Funny Girl was one of the great movies that influenced my young soul.

So I watched Funny Girl again, and I laughed, and sang along, and cried a bit, not so much for Fanny and Nick, but for lost friends, and past times, the best of both that ever were or ever will be.

I don't think I will ever leave high school.


Sunday, 27 July, 2019: Ditching the Saturday Blues

Yesterday was pretty boring. I didn't go for a walk, resting from Friday's battlefield climb. I tried to sleep in, but that didn't work. I was still up by six. I worked on this site a bit, and watched a movie, then took a nap...which lasted about 30 minutes.

I watched another movie. Tried to do some more things to the site, but couldn't get motivated, though the work was what I'd consider worthwhile...old family photos for the family tree page. That's still a work in progress and I have no clue where it's going. I hope it reveals itself soon.

So...basically, I moped around the house all day.

This morning I got up at five, ate breakfast and read the news over a good cup of Green Mountain Nantucket. I grabbed my camera and took it on my walk, a 4-miler, taking photos along the way of THIS nice KEDDI and spots for an upcoming photo shoot...if it goes. KS has asked me to take Senior Photos of her sister, and said she was "excited." I haven't heard anything since. I thought that, maybe, if I sent the photos from this morning, it would spark a response.

Then again, I promised myself I would never ask family to take photos again, so, NO, I'll wait.

Insert Girl Here

The camera and the walk changed my attitude markedly. I came home with renewed purpose, got out my flash and practiced using it, talked to Kady about a new, better, camera (now on order), and talked to her about getting me a pool pass. Now that she's so much better, I want to go to the pool once a day. Hell, it's a short walk from my front door. It would be a waste not to use it. I have one more month, which will cost me only $70.

The Camera was a little more expensive.

Next on the Day's Agenda: reading, Spanish, and guitar.

...just as soon as I'm finished with Wye Oak and Vib Gyor...who should have never broken up.


Friday,26 July, 2019: McDowell Battlefield Trip

I lit out this morning, motivated for my first trip since the Kady Spider Incident. I had done my homework, and what I thought was sa decent Map Recon of the place, and carried all my fun stuff with me--camera, water, bug juice, floppy hat, compass, drone, phone, map, battle map, and Stonewall in the Valley. The route I chose was north of what most historians say was the Confederate Approach March, straight up the ridge, to the positions of the Confederate Reserves.

It was tough going. It is a steep climb to the top, there is a LOT of deadfall, impenetrable barriers of mountain laurel, and thousands of spider webs. The ground was mossy, rocky, and slippery, and I fell on my ass a couple of times.

Still, it was a beautiful day, and though hard work, I really enjoyed being out of the house and being out on a battlefield all alone.

Props to the boys on both sides who fought on this terrain. I'm not sure why they did. Had I been Jackson, I would have pulled back to a spot more advantageous and less likely to be flanked.

The rest of the day, I planned to eat lunch in Staunton (had Sushi in mind) and then a trip to the Elder Antique and Classic Automobile Museum, but I was so wiped out by the climb, I went straight home, hit the shower, and took a nap. 66.

I tried to get Kim to go out to eat, but she's really not OK with doing that yet. I think she wants to get the allergist blood tests back before she ingests anything she didn't prepare herself.


Thursday, 25 July, 2019: Planning

I had a great plan for this morning, the problem was, I didn't tell Kady. I was headed to McDowell Battlefield, west of Staunton. I charged the Note-5, charged my drone batteries, loaded the maps on my phone, read up on the battle, did a satellite recon, and plotted my route.

Last night, I was just about to go brief Kady, when she called for me and told me we needed to be at K's this morning. Oh Well.

Now I'm set to go tomorrow morning. It'll be good to get out of the house.


Friday, 19 July, 2019: It's damn Hot

It has been in the high 70s every morning at 6AM when I get up for my walk, so, I haven't. Kady and I have both been hiding inside, in the air conditioning, dodging the temperatures that are getting closer to 100 degrees every day. Tomorrow we should get the highest, with the temps tapering off during the week.

Kady actually got out of the house, shopping with KS, feeling better by the day as she comes down off of the steroids. That is a big change. I went for a grocery pickup today, but that's the extent of my venturing out.

The trailer for Cats was released yesterday and the comments have not been kind. I believe, had Twitter been a thing when the play first came out, that it would not have survived to please millions of people throughout the world.

People these days are such negative idiots, ruled by the opinions of others. Mob Rule!

It is clear from the comments that most of these little piss ants haven't seen the play, have never read T. S. Eliot, and just don't get it. Sorry Kids, no sex, explosions, of filthy language in this movie. No car chases, drug use, or murders. Sorry the CGI isn't Avengers worthy. How will it possible hold your 12-minute internet attention span?

Probably won't.

At least my family is supportive and all plan to attend with me. The dancing looks amazing. Memory sounded solid.

I'm looking forward to it and I hope those in the Cats loving universe are with me. There are Loads of us.

You little 12-year-old naysayers should move on to your next negative topic.


Monday, 15 July, 2019: Simona Fan

Kady watches all sports. Me? I'm a football fan, specifically, an Auburn football fan, thought i will watch other interesting games, usually SEC Games. I'm a bit of an SEC Snob.

Kady LOVES tennis. I am, because of that, a bit of a tennis widower during peek tennis season. It was much the same for Bill, as Sylvia, too, loved tennis, but Bill did too, so it probably wasn't as bad for him.

I decided a few years ago to try to get into watching it, so I chose a couple of players, Roger Federer, who is Kady's favorite, and for whom Sylvia had an almost romantic attachment. Roger was a safe choice.

I also chose Maria Sharapova, because what man wouldn't, because Sylvia hated her noisy play and snooty attitude. It was fun cheering for her and watching Sylvia cut her eyes at me in disgust.

Back about 2014, I saw a photo of the top women in tennis taken in Singapore. Maria was centered next to the trophy, looking amazing, but, what caught my eye was the little girl on the far right. She was adorable and I had never heard of her, though she was, I think, Number-5 in the World at the time.

I began watching her, and soon proclaimed to the family that she was "my player." I stuck with her through her successes, meltdowns, injuries, and failures. I called her the Auburn Tiger of Tennis, because you never knew what you would get when you watch Simona. Sometimes I got Brilliance. Sometimes she let herself be beaten by lesser players. Sometimes you could tell she just wasn't there.

I was so happy for her when she won the French Open in 2018.  She had her shit together. Then she hit a bit of a slump, lost the French in 2019, but came storming into Wimbledon, winning every match with determination and heroic effort. But, now, she faced what looked like an insurmountable task in the Final.

Since I was on the road Saturday, Kady recorded the Final for me. She called just as I was crossing the North Carolina line, and said, "Are you Sitting Down," not a question, but an excited statement. Simona, MY PLAYER, had won, beating the most powerful and prominent player in Women's Tennis, Serena Williams, 6-2, 6-2, in a little over an hour.

I watched the recording this morning, first thing. What I saw, was what looked like a young lion cub, pestering an old lioness. Simona was Ricochet Rabbit, the Cleaver Fox, she was EVERYWHERE on the court. It was amazing to watch.

It wasn't a win, it was an old fashion Ass Whooping!

I'm so happy for her, I may watch it again tonight.


Sunday, 14 July,2019: Attention Span

Friday, I kept Em while Jay took care of a couple of phone meetings, KS being being out of town. We played "LOL Dolls" for a while, until it was clear that I didn't know how to play LOL Dolls, then we switched to watching LOL Dolls on TV.

As requested, I talked her through the Apollo 11 Mission to the Moon, drawing, what I would say were, amazing pictures of the Saturn V Rocket, the Command Module, the LEM, and Footprints on the Moon. She sat for about 15 minutes, asking very intelligent questions. She pointed out that she didn't draw stick figures anymore, demonstrating oval bodies, arms, and and legs, like her mom, the artist, had taught her. She even tried her hand at drawing the LEM and Command Module docked.

The fifteen minutes I had her 4-year-old attention was amazing.

Saturday night was a different story. I bombed.

I went to Fort Bragg to be guest speaker for the Military Ball of the Battalion led by one of my former cadets, now a Lieutenant Colonel. It was great seeing him and his wife, who I haven't seen for twenty years. He's aged. So, of course, have I.

The night went well enough and their introduction of me was really overwhelming, but from the moment I began my talk, I could see that about 90% of the soldiers didn't give two shits about what I had to say. The body language throughout the room was ice cold. No matter what I did, I couldn't get their eyes off the floor.

I let it throw me off. I got out of sync, dropped some important points, and rushed to the end...just to be done with it. I made my main points, but that is all I can say. I sure as hell didn't impress anyone as someone they should listen too.

I had a few folks come up to thank me and to compliment me, but I think the were being kind.

I've given many speeches over the years, and this is the first time, AND THE LAST, that this has happened. I will NEVER accept another speaking engagement and I'm going to act like this didn't happen, so I am not left with a bad taste in my mouth.

I was back home to Kady and My Space by 1145.


Sunday, 7 July, 2019: Site is Up and Running

After being down about a week, I have my site up again. It was a process. I had to transfer my domain to GoDaddy. That was easy, but it doesn't happen right away. While I waited, I worked on updating my site, content mostly, it'll look basically the same.

Once the transfer was complete, I had to point it to the GoDaddy DNS Servers, again, easy enough, but that takes 24 to 48 hours to take effect.

While I waited on that, I uploaded my site to my file server and continued to work.

Nothing happened.

I called support. The first thing they did was check to see if I was pointed to their DNS. Yep. They transferred me to Site Support. The guy said, "Let me check your Public Folder."

PUBLIC FOLDER???? What?

While he checked, I ran down my files and there it was, "public_html." DUH!

He came back and said, "There's Nothing in your public folder."

I thanked him and said, I had it, and that I'd call back if that didn't work.

A minute later, after downloading my files in the public folder, POOF! My Site was Up.

I think it looks good--simple, easy to navigate, condensed, and I've figured out a good way to display my stories and photos. Photos will be most of the work that I'll be doing on the site in the near future. I'll add trip photos as we travel, with trips to Fort Bragg, Fayetteville, Ashville, St. Augustine, and Wyoming in the near future.


Sunday, 30 June, 2019: Hot as Blazes

I've been hiding inside all morning. I cut my walk short. It was 80-degrees at 7am and as humid as Alabama in August. I am going to have to get up a 5 until it cools.

I saw in the news how Europe is preparing for extreme temperatures. I checked the forecast for Paris, Madrid, and London. Holy COW! They are going into the 90s for a couple of days next week.  The Poor Things. I wonder how they'd like some of the 100F days we get here in the States?

I've decided to streamline my site, cutting out a lot of fluff and deleting a lot of things...like my opinions.  Though brilliantly worded, researched, and thought out, no one wants to know what I think.

That was the angry me.

I'm happy.

Being off Facebook helps a lot. Kady getting better does as well. Night before last she made a Shrimp Boil which was simply AMAZING. She's BACK!If you had her Shrimp Boil, you'd be happy too. As a matter of fact, there was some left, so i think I'll go eat that.


Friday, 28 June, 2019: Go Daddy Go

I got a hosting deal on GoDaddy for a buck a month for the next two years. I had my domain name transferred and the site set up in about an hour. It'll take a few of days to take effect, then I will be done with iPage and their nonsense.

I've spent the afternoon cleaning up my site, making a few changes, and getting it ready to upload. I'm sure there will be glitches, but that is part of the fun.

Kady is downstairs cooking. She is really shaky, which she thinks is the steroids, but feeling tons better.

I fell better Too.

 

Thursday, 27 June, 2019: Migrating My Site

In a nice, unwelcome e-mail, iPage notified me that the would be billing me &280 for the next to years to host my site, a plan that used to only cost me a few dollars a month.

Screw them.

This is only a hobby for me and I can get hosting from other sites for a lot less money, I just need to migrate my URL, which I own, to one of these sites and then download the files.

BUT, I'm thinking that i just give this up and keep the up the info for my people to read when I'm dead and gone. I have enjoyed it, but maybe it just isn't appropriate any more. Hell, no one reads the damn thing anyway.


Saturday, 22 June, 2019: A Fine Welcome

I flash of yellow caught my eye as I walked along the north bank of Holly Mead lake this morning, taking my first walk since getting home. I walk with my glasses off most mornings; it helps make my footfalls more sure. What I thought was, at first a butterfly, was entirely too fast. It lit on a branch of the small bush growing on the little island that is normally just off shore, but currently landlocked until they finish the dam improvements and re-fill the lake.

Glasses back in place so I could see, I recognized the yellow flash as an American Goldfinch. Of course I didn't have my camera and the photo I took with my phone was too far away to make out the beauty of this bird, the bright yellow contrasting with the black of his wings and face.

This is the first Goldfinch I've seen here. I saw them often on the Chessie Trail in Lexington, feeding on the thistle growing along the trail. They are one of my favorite birds.

The morning was perfect, cool, overcast, a light breeze shaking the leaves on the trees. It struck me how green is Virginia. Kansas is green too this time of year with e farm fields sprouting every type of plant, but the trees are sparse. Virginia is...Better.

Continuing on my way, I heard the tap-tap-tap of a woodpecker above my head and played, for a short while, a fine game of hide-and-seek with a Red Bellied Woodpecker as he denied me more than a peek around the back side of the tree before putting the tree between us again.

On the right side of the trail, a wonderful person has planted a wild flower garden which was in full bloom this morning. When I left for Kansas, it was just beginning to sprout, so I went this way just to see it. One day, I need to leave a note to let tem know how much I love their garden.

As I climbed the path out of the lakeside low ground, I heard the unmistakable whoosh of a hot air balloon burning fuel. Above me were three balloons, perfectly framed by the trees lining the road. Photo Op. No Camera. Good Job!

My Galaxy S-9 saved me again.

I took this all as a Welcome Home signs from the Old Dominion.

I'm still pretty stressed out over the whole "I almost lost my Kady to a bug bite" Thing. Last night I distinctly heard her yell for me. I jumped up and ran to her and she was sound asleep. I was obviously dreaming.

If I can just get Kady all healed up. We have things to do.


Friday, 21 June, 2019: Home Sweet HOME!

The drive home went about as well as it could have. We hit a few patches of rain, but mostly it was only overcast, making for a cooler trip. This was good for Kady's condition. The poor baby is itching all over now as the steroids and the rash fight it out. It looks to me as if the steroids are winning the fight, but only slowly. Luckily, the Benadryl knocked her out almost the whole way on our two day trip.

Without Kady to talk to, the twelve hours on the road Wednesday and Seven on Thursday went slowly. We stopped in Sterling Kentucky on Wednesday night at a new Holiday Inn and Suites to break up the trip. The room was very nice, the breakfast really good. The even had a perfect pillow for me.

Last night, Jay, KS, and Em brought us supper. Jimmy John's. I think they had a need to see Kady and to make sure for themselves that she was OK.

Today, we went to her doctor. They said they have never seen a rash so bad and extended her treatment of steroids. They are referring her to a dermatologist and allergist, with appointments on Monday. I'll try do help keep her as comfortable as possible till then. Whatever this shit is, I hope she never gets this again.

Biting and stinging bugs are also a No-Go.

I'm unpacked and happy to be back with my stuff.


Monday, 17 June, 2019: A Scare

Yesterday was Father's Day. Today is Kady's Birthday. Both were horrible.

Firstly, Kady is OK.

She woke up Sunday morning with what looked like an insect bite on her left shoulder, right next to her neck, over her collar bone. It was red, puffy, and hot to the touch and looked like a spider bite to me. By noon it had begun to spread over her upper body and right arm. After supper, it was so bad, we headed to the Post Hospital on Fort Riley.

While checking into the Emergency Room, she couldn't remember her Social Security Number, unlike her. I had her sit down while I finished up the registration. Once back in the Vitals area, she began to look really bad. As I moved to her, she went into anaphylactic shock.

The staff wheeled her into another room with a crash cart and hit her with an EpiPen. She came around but her blood pressure was very low and he was barely coherent. They began a drip with steroids and Benadryl. Her blood pressure rebounded and she began to speak more lucidly.

The Doctor came out to tell me she was OK and out of danger.

They hooked her up to oxygen and the ECG, took chest X-Rays, and drew blood.

About 2200 they moved her to the third floor, Room 13, and they observed her overnight, continuing the steroid and Benadryl regimen.

A and E went to get Kady's car for me, since they had to go back to Leavenworth to meet the movers, clean and turn over their house there. I went to their house this morning to walk Cooper, have a breakfast, and shower. I went back to Kady's room about 1100hrs to wait on the Dermatologist.

He came buy but really didn't know what was going on either.

We had her meds, including two EpiPens and were checked out by about 1500hrs.

All in all, Father's Day and Kady's Birthday sucked...and I will be damn glad when Wednesday gets here and I can leave Kansas...again!  Fuck This Place. It is just one bad thing after another every time we come here.


Saturday, 8 June, 2019: Another Move

Friday was moving day. I'm pretty sure that about three moves ago, I told the whole family that I was finished moving. Well, here I am, 66-years-old and still moving shit.

This one hasn't been that bad, just the couch. E has this monstrous leather couch, designed by giants, for giants, who live in giant houses, and who hire other giants to move their shit.

I should be glad, I guess, that I'm still able to work as hard as I worked yesterday and that my kids still see me as capable of moving their stuff. I know too many friends on their second stent, having joint replacements, or in their last days.

After loading the truck, I loaded my stuff and Cooper up in A's truck for the drive to Manhattan. Kady left early as the Advanced Party, checking the cleaning team's cleanliness. Not too good, it seems.  The Quartering Party (yours truly + Cooper) followed her about two hours later. A followed E in the rental truck. She packed all her breakables in her SUV. They arrived about 45-minutes apart.

We unpacked in waves, setting up things that would tell Cooper all was good and that he wasn't going to be left in this strange place alone--bed, bowls, toys, food bucket, and the couch.

E had a great plan. By 2200 their new place was livable, Cooper was walked and comfortable, and I hit the shower and bed, taking Motrin to decrease my morning stiffness. I may have been asleep before I hit the mattress.

Today was Low Key.

Cooper and I went exploring, taking the nice trail through the community. No Trash! When everyone was up, we sat around on our phones (we have 4G here) while we waited for the AT&T guy to come hook up the cable and TV. That done, A and I picked up Pizza for a late lunch, We tried the place around the corner, Old Chicago and it was good, too expensive, but good. Three big pizzas, a small cheese, some cheese curds, and garlic bread cost us $90. Really, we got way too much food. One large probably would have fed us all.

The girls spent some time decorating and putting away the kitchen things. I was happy to see the Nespresso machine go up and the pods put out for use Sunday Morning. I took two naps through the day, still beat from Friday.

It looks like all I have to do now is spend time with Cooper and maybe put a couple of twin beds together.


Thursday, 6 June, 2019: D-Day

I slept in this morning. A took Cooper out for his walk. I didn't hear a thing. Last nights bout of drinking(I actually didn't drink that much), and the morning thunderstorm made for great sleeping.

When I got up, Cooper was passed out on the floor, but got up a bit later for another walk. By the time we left it was HOT out there, 80 degrees, still, and bright. About a half mile from the house, Cooper stopped and refused to go any father, until I turned around and headed back home. He drug ass all the way.

Today is the 75th Anniversary of D-Day, The Normandy Invasion. Twenty-five years ago, I was in France for the 5th Anniversary. It was a great trip, though filled with a bit of 82nd Airborne Stupidity. I need to write about that. But, we went, had fun, met many great people who loved US Paratroopers, and communed with the great old Vets, Legs and Troopers, who were able to make the trip. The Cemeteries were particularly moving. I saw the opening and closing scenes to Saving Private Ryan played out a number of times by these great Heroes and their families visiting Absent Friends.

All of my photos from that trip, were, of course, in film, and my Canon A-1 had a spot on the inner lens which left a dead spot in the center of each photo. I'm a damn Genuis!

Today is Jk's 12th Birthday as well. I think we have only missed two others over the years and I wish we were there today.


Wednesday, 5 June, 2019: The Return of A

A had been flying for two days, first to Kuwait, then to Turkey, then Germany, then Baltimore to Kansas City, going through Minnesota, but the weather wasn't cooperating.

Meanwhile, we prepped the house for a bit of Fiesta. For my part, I blew up the Cactus Balloon and helped E hang what can only be described as tiny plastic aprons. Kady bought the cA and stuffed the piñata. There may have been tiny sombreros. Cooper even had a poncho.

E met A at the Airport. When they got back, margaritas happened while we face-timed the family in Minnesota and Virginia.

We're glad he's home, but no one more than Cooper.


Tuesday, 4 June, 2019: How I Broke Cooper

Cooper and I have been walking about four miles a day while I have been here. He loves it. So Do I.

Yesterday, Cooper was pestering me to go for a walk, following me around the house and dropping his ball at my feet. "I know," I thought, "I'll take him to the baseball park and throw the ball for him to chase and fetch."

He was very excited when I grabbed the ball thrower going out of the door.

We set a brisk pace, West, through the back streets, making sure he was warmed up and taking his morning constitutional along the way.  Once at the park, we secured the gate and took off his Easy Walk Harness.

I tossed him a few short ones and he had a great time chasing them down and NOT bringing them back. Getting him to drop the ball at my feet happens about half the time. I get in quite a bit of exercise fetching it for him when he drops it on the other side of the park, after running a few circles around me.

He has me well trained.

Once I thought he was all warmed up, I used the Thrower to toss some long ones. My arm isn't what it used to be, having pitched entirely too much in little leagues, so the Thrower is a must to prevent irritating my shoulder.

The boy knows only one speed, FULL OUT. After about six good sprints, he brought the ball back and lay down at my feet, signaling his need for a rest. After that I let him sniff around a while until he had cooled down, then we walked back to the house, about a half mile.

Like always, he drank his water and went down for a nap when we got home.

When he woke up, he was limping heavily on his left front leg.

"Uh Oh. I've broken E's Child."

I checked him out for splinters, rocks, cuts, thorns, and found nothing. The pain seemed to be in his left wrist.

E was very gracious when she came home. She looked at it and didn't seem concerned, but we made sure Cooper took it easy the rest of the night. E left me with specific instructions for a short walk this morning.

He's already better. He did well on his walk and by the time we got back to the house, he was walking almost normal.

Next time, I'll just throw him a few short ones and forget the thrower. I'll blame it on my pitched-out arm.


Saturday, 1 June, 2019: First Trip to Manhattan

Kady, E, Cooper, and I drove to Manhattan Kansas today to pick up the keys to the house A and E will be renting for the next three years while they are assigned to Ft. Riley. E drove her VW Atlas loaded with breakables and clothes. Kady went with her. Cooper and I drove in Kady's car. It's amazing what you an get in that Atlas.

The trip took us along Kansas back roads. It was a beautiful drive. Kansas has great interstates and state roads and highways. They are smooth, well maintained, and quiet. They emphasize the mismanagement of Leavenworth's infrastructure by contrast.

The trip home was even more enjoyable; I took my own way back, so I wasn't following E. I missed Bess.


Wednesday, 29 May, 2019: Tornado, YAY!

Last night, Kady tapped me on the shoulder. I took the buds out of my ears, paused Mindhunter, to see what she wanted. "Is that a Tornado Siren," she asked. I couldn't hear a thing. Infantry Ears.

I went out on the porch and it was loud as hell out there. YEP! Tornado Siren.

We went to the Weather Channel as our phones blew up with warning tones. There was a tornado bearing down on the area just south of us, headed for Kansas City.

Very Exciting! I'm from Alabama- it was time to grab the camera and get outside!

The wind was calm and the rain was light, but you could hear the thunder in the south. The weather below Lansing was obviously different than what we were getting. Kady gave me updates. I continued watching the trees and thought through the things I'd want to take to the storm cellar if it came to that: Chairs, Cooper, Pistol, Flashlight, Laptop, Phone...Kady's Makeup Bag. No Really. There are hundred's of dollars of kit in that makeup bag. The girl is a Platinum member at Ulta Beauty.

The damage south of us, around Lawrence, was terrible. It completely destroyed anything it hit and blew away anything close. The photos are horrifying, like most aftermath photos, but a reminder of why I don't live in Alabama anymore. One of the saddest photos I saw this morning was one of a guy surveying the damage to his beautiful, powder blue, 1967 Pontiac GTO.

Our tornado petered out before it hit Kansas City, but another formed and destroyed things around the airport.

Once the Siren stopped, I went back to Mindhunter.


Wednesday, 22 May, 2019: On Our Walks

I've been walking. A Lot. I usually do five to six miles a day around the neighborhood. We have plenty of walkways around Forest Lakes, most along the roads, but some out in the woods. I've figures our a six and a half mile route where I don't have to cross the road and never have to retrace my steps.

That's in Charlottesville. I'm in Leavenworth. Again.

Cooper and I finally had some decent weather, so we stepped off early this morning after E left for work. Walking in this place is not very enjoyable. Sidewalks are ill kept and haphazardly place around the town. We run out of nice areas to walk in a few blocks and pass through some pretty sketchy areas.

I prefer to go Armed.

In Charlottesville, I'm motivated. Here, were it not for Cooper, it would be a chore.

We'll be moving the kiddos to Manhattan, Kansas around the 1stof June and I hear it is much nicer. I need to get out of this place. A, E, and Cooper need to leave too.

Let's GO!

Kady and I took two days to drive here this time, stopping in Mt. Vernon, Illinois. That broke up the trip a lot and made it less painful. I drove the whole way. We got to our hotel Sunday night, in plenty of time for me to catch the final episode of Game of Thrones.

I liked the ending. Though the whole season seemed a little rushed, it ended the only way it could have. I'm surprised that I didn't see it coming. Looking at it logically, The choice for King was the only choice considering the players active in the Finale.

The day before, Saturday, we all got together for Em's first dance showcase. It was pretty adorable and amazing, considering they were all four-year-olds with the corresponding attention spans and goofiness.


Friday, 17 May, 2019: #deletefacebook

Yeah, I'm off Facebook again. Though I'm dealing with a mild case of FOMO, I'm not missing it. I should have let some people know, but I didn't. I'm easy enough to find. I am still on Instagram.

The reasons for this are many and all you need to do is a little research to see how manipulative and unhealthy this platforms has become. Here are a list of my reasons.

BLUF: this company will do literally anything for money.

  • Dissemination of Bullshit, Radical Politics, Anger, and Paranoia: Facebook knew about Russian Election Meddling and did nothing to kick it off of the platform. Everyday we ae bombarded by political nonsense. Do you use Facebook as your primary news source?

  • Monetizing of YOUR Private Data: Selling or leaking to third parties. YOU are the Facebook product.

  • Targeted Ads and Marketplace: Yeah, I got a Lear Jet Ad.  I just hit the already purchased button. Who asked for this shit?

  • Friends who aren't Friends: Family and Actual friends get lost in the crowd. This, of course is my own fault, but when some young person at my former school asks, I felt I needed to accept...then, of course they never even say hello. It is all plainly superficial.

  • Separate Phone App for Messenger. Why? I hated Messenger. Now I have Android Messages and Duo that do a better job.

  • Tags and Group Messages that you can't really delete: I had to stop Tags for everyone...including my Wife to stop the Tags from people I didn't really know.

  • The drudge of Deleting Photos, Friends, Content. Made difficult by design. It took me weeks to delete it all.

  • Business manipulation or “mistakes”: I believe fb punishes, people, businesses, and news outlets who say negative things about the company. Oh? Must be an algorithm problem.

  • Fake Account: Thanks “Friends.”

  • Nonsense: Damn it! I've had to unfollow some of my closest contacts for posting stupid shit and click-bait. "Today is Brother's Day, Tell your Army Brothers you love them by sharing this and tagging twelve Brothers." Facebook needs to stop this shit.

  • Broken Algorithms: Facebook's standards are morally ambiguous and right trampling. They just can't figure it out. Did you know that one of their algorithms blocked the Declaration of Independence as Hate Speech?

  • Community Emotional Manipulation: In 2012 Facebook actually conducted research in Psychology Exploitation with their platform...seeing if they could make people happy, sad, angry, depressed by manipulating content.

  • Power: Facebook is too powerful, able to manipulate people, the economy, religion, public opinion, voting, and law. I look at it as an International Organization that does not have the best interests of the United States at heart.

Facebook is a continuing social experiment gone bad with no end in sight.

So, after a warning post to friends, I'm deleting my account.

It's Game Night at Jays, a little Trivia Murder Party.


Tuesday, 14 May, 2019: A New Beginning for Jay

Kady, Jay, KS, Em, and I went to Fry's Spring Station for lunch (I had their Fungitown pizza again) to celebrate his exit from his job and start of a new life away from the pressure of an organization with no loyalty and filled with self-serving little whiners and piss-ants.

I'm glad he's out of there.

Afterwards, we went to Wegmans. I love that place.


Friday, 10 May, 2019: Emmy Time!

Kady and I watched Em all day today. Jay had to work and KS was out of time with friends.

Kady and I, when choosing where we would retire, placed "Being Near Grandchildren" at the top of our list. Had we gone to Alabama, we knew that we'd spend a lot of time on the road to Virginia to visit them. When Mom, Bill, and Sylvia passed away, all in less than a year, nothing but low taxes was drawing us back to Alabama. Living in Virginia near Jay, Jk, KS, and Em seemed the best solution.

It has proved to be so.

We are the best, unpaid, baby sitters whenever Jay and KS need help, time together, or a break. We happily take a lot off the plate of two very busy people. Kady is at Jk's daily disposal and he is known to call her when he's pissed at his parents, not getting his way, or wants something, usually Fortnite related. He is even known to ride his bike here when he needs a break. Kady is Jk's person.  Always has been.

I seem to be Em's. We have the best time together and today was an example of the fun. We watched movies and shows, read books, drew cartoon characters, and wrestled...a lot! I was worn out by the time I got home.

If I could just get E, A, and COOPER on this side of the world, all would be perfect. A thousand miles is way too far away.

Two more episodes of Game of Thrones to go. New John Wick comes out Thursday. Jay and I have tickets. Huge Week!


Sunday, 5 May, 2019: My Marine

Former Cadet Rebecca came into town yesterday for a quick visit.  Recent graduate of VMI and Marine Officer basic Course, she is stationed here in Virginia on her first assignment.

Rebecca was a great young cadet who adopted me in her senior year at VMI and became such a frequent guest to my office, that I set aside a work space for her at the round table as a study area. We'd share stories, music (and her taste in music is acceptable), and I'd point out movies she should watch. I actually made her a list.

We lunched at Martins over a good burger and a basket of Tots while we caught up, then we drove to the mall downtown and I showed her the sights, Robert. E. Lee, the spot where Heather Heyer died.

We watched a darn good Bluegrass band for a while, but the sun there was blazing hot, so we retreated to the shade of the buildings along the Mall.

Back at the house, Kady was finally up and dressed, so I was able to introduce them for the first time. We all chatted until it was time for her to head back north.

I really need to take a new photo of her.

Afterwards, I drove to Jay's place to watch friend Juan Adams fight on UFC. Sadly, he lost. It was close but a unanimous decision. Jay and I scored it differently...with the heart.

You Lose; You Learn. "The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena..."


Sunday, 28 April, 2019: Hiking with the Kiddos

Jay sent a text about 11 o'clock that said, "come get us." It was time for our planned Sunday Hike. I chose Preddy Creek, and drove over, while he rounded up who he could. Kady wasn't going, KS was helping her sister move, Jk was being Jk, so that left Jay, Em, and me for this Hike.

Preddy Creek is perfect for Kids, the paths are wide and dry, it's pretty flat, and Em would have to really work to get out of sight. There are many connecting loops, making it easy to tailor your walk distance and level of difficulty. It is best to have a map your first trip or, at least a compass.

Em was fantastic. She was playful, careful, observant, and all about this adventure. She gloried in everything, bird song, butterflies, the sand under her feet and her footprints, trees, sticks, roots, rocks, every stream, and the creek. At my insistence, we played Poo Sticks at the bridge; she won. I pointed out interesting wild flowers, with which she was unimpressed. My wondering if we'd see Big Foot, one of her favorite stories that I tell her, was met with a smirk and, "There's no such thing...Granddaddy." Fine Then.

Se went a mile before pooping out. She road Jay's shoulders most of the way back. I pitched in at the end. It was a great time.

Tonight is the battle for which we've been heading since the beginning of Game of Thrones. I can't wait and I'm dreading it. I know some of my favorite characters are bound to die. I try not to speculate on who and just let it flow, but I can't help it. I know tonight will be emotional.

I'm a geek.


Saturday, 27 April, 2019: One-Thing-a-Day, Storage Shed

After retiring, I was in a rush to do all the things I have needed and been wanting to do as if it was Sunday and I had to go back to work. It took me a while to realize I could slow down and take it easy. To codify this, I adopted my One-Thing-a-Day Plan (OTaD). I chose, or Kady coordinates, one thing big thing for me to do every day. List, Plan, Prioritize!

My Check the Block is Small. I've put away the dreaded Notebook, the bane of the cadets, and keep track of it all on Google Tasks, Keep, and Calendar.

OTaD Pigg also helps. He's a chalk pig, bought in Birmingham at East 59 Cafeon First Avenue North in Eastlake. Great place! I write my one daily task on OTaD Pigg and set him in front of my keyboard. Can't Miss Him. What is on the Pigg, must be worked off today, or tomorrow, or the next. OK, I do it when I want.

Tomorrow is a hike on Preddy Creek Trail Park with Jay and Em, so you can see, OTaD isn't all work.

SO. Yesterday was "Sort Out the Back Shed Day."

We have a small (read: very small) attached shed in the back. In it are the Cable and Power Cables, the Breaker Box. It became a catch all for a lot of things like tools, camping equipment, snorkeling kit, folding chairs, car washing stuff, and my bike. Everything was just thrown in there and inaccessible without unpacking half the stuff.

I got up, ate breakfast, and then braved the crowds at Lowe's. Damn. Lowe's is the place to be on Saturday. I had done an online search, so I already knew exactly what I wanted, the aisle, and the bin number. I was in and out in ten minutes.

Back home, I unpacked the shed, built the new Lowe's shelves, and then reorganized the shed, building along the walls with hangers and loading the shelves. I had it all done in about two hours.

Check!

Erase Pig.


Friday, 26 April, 2019: Young Friends

Last week, Kady and I got a birth announcement for Patricia and Sal's little girl, the prettiest black headed little Italian girl I have ever seen. This morning, I put her birthday on my calendar, a sure sign that she's MY Person.

NM called last night. She is in the States for a while, was in Lexington, and headed to Washington DC on Friday, and wondered if we might "do lunch or something." A quick "yes" and a suggestion of one of my favorite places set us on a rendezvous at Fry's Spring Stationfor pizza and catching up.

NM is one of my most faithful VMI friends and always contacts me when she's in the area. I do the same when I'm around DC.

The conversation was lively as I heard of her new adventures in school as she works toward her doctorate. I'm pretty proud of her, passing her first semester when 55% of her classmates didn't. She also qualified for an accelerated program. Those VMI study habits and her maturity must be paying off.

Oh yeah, her hair had teal highlights. Cool!

On my way to lunch, a guy in a big black truck pulled up beside me, honked, and waved for me to roll down my window. I did and he inched forward so I could see it was Capt. Sean, USMC, former Cadet First Captain and former S-3 in the VMI Commandant's Office. Holy cow, He's in Charlottesville! I sent him a Facebook message as I waited for NM to arrive and, hopefully, we'll be able to link up soon.


Wednesday, 24 April, 2019: Jackson Defeated! Kernstown, VA

It was a nice drive. After loading Bess up with cameras and such, I set Waze for "avoid highways" and set out for the battlefield of Kernstown, just south of Winchester. I rolled down beautiful Virginia byways decorated with Spring's finest, and light green with young leaves and farm fields. Traffic was light, probably because I was traveling on a Tuesday afternoon. I drove the speed limit.

Arriving at the Battlefield, I was face to face with a locked gate and a sign that said, "CLOSED."

I wasn't bothered. I had conducted a good recon and had studied the battle, so where Google Maps had dropped me was where the early phases of the battle took place. All I need to do was drive south on Highway-11 and turn Right. The action took place west of Middle Road.

As I drove south, I noticed a sign that said, "Civil War Marker." I took the hint and it took me to a pretty little church on the edge or the Battlefield and four descriptive markers. I was on the right track. I spent a little time in the cemetery there where a few Revolutionary War vets were buried. Very Cool!

Next, I drove south on 11, turned right on 651, right on 652, left on Middle Road, then right on 621. When I got about where I thought the stone wall might be, where the Confederates stood against Federals twice their number, I began looking for a place to park. I came up on Rose Hill Park. There was another descriptive marker and a path that went to the wall. Nice! I walked there, only about 1/3 mile, and took a lot of photos, studied the terrain, and then spent some quiet time listening to the birds and wind, contemplating the battle, the contrast in the beauty and calm of my day with the horror of theirs full in my mind. It is like that on every battlefield I visit.

"So sharp was it and so deadly that it was not the sound of one or more bullets flying, but the rushing might wind of leaden hail as it howled past you." ~ Robert Lemmon, 21st Virginia

"The fact is, in battle, a man becomes a sinner and delights in the work of death. And if his best friend falls at his side he heeds it not, but presses on eager to engage in the wholesale murder." ~ John G. Marsh, 29th Ohio

I headed home by way of Middle Road which took me to Edinburg and down Hwy 11 to New market and then across the Blue Ridge. On top of the Blue Ridge, I took a short drive on Skyline Drive to where it was closed from storm damage and back, heading straight home from there.

It was a fine day.

 

Friday, 12 April, 2019: North Anna Battlefield by Bike

I got a late start yesterday. I was in no hurry with the whole day set aside to visit one battlefield. I chose North Anna, studied it, then did a thorough map Recon. It looked and was perfect for what I wanted to do. My plan was to go to a battlefield and look it over with my new folding Bike. I took along my drone to test that too.

On arrival, I read the rules posted at the entrance. the drone looked out if you consider it a model or remote control "airplane," so I decided to bin that idea and not act like a good little historian. The bike was fine as long as I stayed on the trails. By the lack of cars I figured I would have the park to myself and I did. I only saw one couple as I was finishing up.

With my camera and drone in a backpack, I road my bike down the trail. I was a little top heavy and shaky, so I took it slowly. It was flatter than I remembered from a short trip a while back, but, still, a pretty hard workout. I think it was the weight of cameras and drone.

The trenches are clearly defined at North Anna, better than others I've seen at any other battlefield. I assume this is because it is a little known battle and rarely visited. Had Jackson been there and lee had not been ill, I could have been a turning point battle.

It was a brilliant trap. The Federal army was split in three parts by the river, the Confederate army had interior lines and impregnable defenses. With a little initiative and leadership, Lee's army could have destroyed Hancock on their right, then taken Burnside to task on the left. It is doubtful that Lee could have crossed the river after the rest of Grant's forces, but there was no place to Grant to run and doubtful he would have anyway, but it would have given Lee room to maneuver, and may have saved, at least for a while, the Southern cause.

My drive back was equally fun. I went back through a place called Scotchtown, home of Patrick Henry from 1771-1778, where he penned his "Give me Liberty or Give me Death" speech. Too Bad. It was closed (Open Fri-Sun). I'll visit again soon.

I got my walk in today before it began raning. Have nothing planned tomorrow, but Sunday is Game of Thrones! I'm excited.


Monday, 1 April, 2019: Spring for a Day

Saturday, the weather was bright and shiny, warming into the 70s. I used the day to wash and detail Kady's car. That's a sure sign Spring is upon us. Bess was meant to be next, but Sunday it was cold and overcast, with a drizzle of rain in the morning, just enough to bead water and pollen on both cars. Now it looks like I didn't touch K's car.

OK, the inside still looks amazing.

I ordered strings and a bridge for Don's Mandolin and they arrived yesterday. I strung it last night and tuned it once. I'll tune it again this afternoon and will begin learning. I may never get anywhere with it, but at least it isn't sitting in a box.

Leavenworth continues to plague me. I found a bulge on the sidewall of Kady's right rear tire, obviously from the Leavenworth pothole that killed the right front tire. I'll have to have that replaced this week. We were lucky we didn't have a blowout on the highway on the way home.

Now that warmer weather is here, I'm more inclined to work out. My walks are longer and a lot more enjoyable. Friday's walk was almost six miles. I even ran a bit. It is time for new shoes though.

Auburn Basketball! So proud. Yesterday's game against North Carolina was stressful...like watching Auburn Football. Happily, we're on our way to the Final Four for the first time in Auburn History. The fun thing is, we're playing University of Virginia. It's like living in Tuscaloosa during the Iron Bowl...just not that Big.

Next week, I'm going to do some afternoon day trips. First, I'm taking a trip to North Anna Battlefield to test out the Bike-a-Battlefield Plan. I've bought a folding bike that fits in Bess's trunk. The plan is to park Bess and cover more ground as I visit battlefields. Then I'll take my drone to Cross keys and Port Republic and test my plan to film battlefields from different vantage points. While I'm at North Anna, I want to visit the State Park there and look at the cabins I want a weekend away from everything to concentrate on nothing but writing. I may take Jay's boat, my telescope, and bike, but haven't decided.

I'm dying to go to the Keys!


Monday, 18 March, 2018: I Must Not be Irish

Sunday was Saint Patrick's Day around the world. For Kady and I, it was the day we would depart Leavenworth, headed home, or so we thought.

I got up first, about 6AM, and grabbed my pre-packed bags and took them to the car. The trunk wouldn't open. The doors were unlocked, so my first thought was, "Oh No. Someone has stolen my battery. Nope, the battery was just dead. Deader Than a Doornail! I guessed the sub-zero weather and high winds had zapped it.

No big deal. I'll just needed to remove it and take it to Wal-Mart for a replacement if it tested bad.

I went inside to ask E for her tool kit and found out that it had been stolen off of the back porch. Great. No Tools. OK, so I just needed to go buy tools, buy a battery, it was time for one anyway, replace the battery, and then load the car, load up Kady, and then take the old battery to Wal-Mart for a rebate on the way out of town.

When I got to Wal-Mart, I ran onto the most inept guy, call him Bob, about my age, who didn't know how to operate the computer. This guy was completely overwhelmed. After choosing the battery and tools I needed, it took him about an hour to sell them to me. Not kidding, an HOUR!

I got home, replaced the battery, and the car cranked right up. I loaded up bags, old battery and Kady, Kissed E goodbye, loved on Cooper, and then drove to Wal-Mart to get my rebate.

Bob was still on the counter. After trying for about fifteen minutes, I gave up. Thirteen dollars was not worth waiting on Bob. It was already late morning and I wanted to get on the road.

About three blocks from Wal-Mart, I hit the Mother of all Kansas Potholes, busting my right front tire, I unloaded the Car, got out the jack, had Kady call E to come get her, then proceeded to change the tire.

The Ford Lug Wrench didn't fit the Ford Lugs.

Luckily, I had pulled over at Tractor Supply and they sell Automotive Tools and had a lug wrench in stock.

After changing the tire, I searched for tire places open on Sunday. Yep, Wal-Mart was the only place open. When I got back, Bob was STILL on the counter. It took him almost an hour to just mark my tire and take it to the back for repair for replacement.

I went back to E's place to wait, not knowing if I would ever see my tire and rim again.

Happily, Wal-Mart called to let me know that it was done, so I drove back.

Bob was still there. It took him calling his manager to figure out how I should pay for the tire, another thirty minute ordeal.

I put the tire back on the car myself, out in the parking lot, drove back to E's, loaded the car with Bags and Kady, kissed E goodbye, loved on Cooper, and then set out for Virginia, Again.

I was so happy to get to Missouri.

Kady and I drove through the night, stopping only for food and gas, arriving in Charlottesville about 7AM.

It was by far the worst Saint Patrick's Day EVER. Certainly Kansas doesn't like me any better than I like Kansas.


Saturday, 16 March, 2019: Kansas Friends and Final Thoughts

Thursday, Kady and I met Dale and Kathy Bart, and their adorable children, at Tampico Mexican for supper, then Friday, I met my Brother Rat, Major Jim, for lunch at All Slabbed Up Bar-B-Q.

This morning, I took my best buddy, Cooper, for our last walk. We picked up E at the airport last night, coming back from Vegas. Kady and I depart for Virginia, Tomorrow Morning.

E just got word that as soon as she finishes this course and arrives at Fort Riley she'll deploy to Germany until October. A will come back in Late May, they'll move their house to Riley, then they'll be separated again. Poor Kids. Poor Cooper.

As much as I dislike the town of Leavenworth, I have to say that I like the people. They are very friendly and polite. They'll stop and talk, they admire Cooper, and they will always hold the door or thank you for holding one for them. I like the downtown area. The old buildings are pretty cool.

We've found a favorite place, La Mesa Mexican Restaurant. Everything I have had there is amazing. We're also fans of King House Chinese.

I watched Christopher Robin. I loved it and plan to live my life by Pooh Philosophy: "I always get to where I'm going by walking away from where I've been." I'm going to watch it again and write down all the Pooh quotes.


Tuesday, 12 March, 2019: Kansas is Miserable

This has to be the most miserable place I have ever been. Wehen we arrived, the wearther was freezing and slushy, then it went down below freezing and snowed, with a little ice to make things worse. Now it is warmer and pouring rain with high winds and lightening. The whole time we've been here, we've had one decent day, yesterday, where we walked forever. It was good for us both.

Cooper agrees. He wants to go for long walks and to the park to chase the ball, but Sunday's walk left his undercarriage so filthy that he had to have a bath the moment he came in the house.

Tomorrow promises to be worse. There is a flood watch for the Missouri River. Excellent.

Later: During an hour break in the rain, Cooper and I went for a swift walk.


3 March, 2019: Turning Weather

Well, the weather turned. It snowed last night, not much, but enough that it makes walking Cooper and taking KS to the airport problematic.

The weekend has been fun. After promoting E on Friday, which included CUPCAKES, we settled in for the night and Chinese delivery. They have a great place here in Leavenworth, King House, with the wildest looking, most efficient delivery drivers on the planet. From order to delivery, is about 15 minutes and the food delicious...except their Egg Rolls. No one likes their egg rolls.

Saturday, I kept Cooper while the girls went to Kansas City , shopping. After a nice long walk, cooper and I settled in for a quiet day of Podcasts, reading Dune, again, and watching the last episode of The Expanse.

Nights are spent here playing Five Crowns, usually two games, and then I go to bed. I'm up first on the weekends. I let Cooper out an then feed him, then wait until he tells me it is time to go out again. There won't be a long walk today; it's only 8 degrees out there and feels like negative ten.

I shoveled the path to the cars this morning and will have to knock the snow off of E's car for the trip to the airport in a little while. Hopefully, it will warm a bit. Yeah, I still hate shoveling and the snow.

E's ceremony was low key and LTC Thrasher, her promoting officer, had very kind comments about her and her capabilities. You could tell that he knows her very well. Two former VMI Cadets were there which made it even more fun for me.


28 February, 2019: Road Warriors

Cue Twilight Zone Theme

We're back in Kansas. Kady and I drove the distance in one day, seventeen hours, through good weather and easy traffic, except in Huntington, West Virginia, where traffic was backed up a couple of miles in a construction zone. We passed the hours listen to Johnny Dollar, Inner Sanctum, and a pod cast called Cold. She slept a little of the trip letting me listen to some good music...Real Music.

Coffee was my friend. I drank a cup before I left, one from McDonalds, a Starbucks Doubleshot, and a large Starbucks Coffee Frappuccino. When we arrived, after seventeen hours of driving, I was still wired for sound.

Today, I drove back to Kansas City to pick KS up at the airport. That's a short drive, but I was dreading it. I took back roads there and back. It was pretty easy and Kel was early, so it was good I left the house when I did.

We're all converging here to see E's promotion to Major, tomorrow. It is still hard to believe that my little girl is in Command and General Staff Course and about to become a field grade officer.

I'm loving the Cooper time, but hope the weather turns so we can walk and play more. This morning we walked in 13-degree. The sun was shining a bit and the wind was light, so it didn't feel that bad. Yesterday, it was 12-degrees, windy, and overcast. Cooper and I refused to stay out in it. It's supposed t be warmer tomorrow. Cooper and I need a long walk.


24 February, 2019: Photos of Izmir

I've been on a tear to scan in all my old Izmir negatives. With them came the memories of my first tour there, all the people, the places, especially the kids, and...the loneliness. I had left Jay and a very pregnant Kady for a fifteen month tour with NATO, with way too much time off, living alone in a small apartment. My circle of friends was extremely small and my desire to become a part of the community nonexistent...these were Legs and Air Force Types. Yeah, I had a piss-poor attitude.

There were folks I liked over there--Jerry, Ellen, Vern, Gil, Joe, and Kathy, but I pretty much kept to myself, traveling the country alone. My camera became my constant traveling companion.

I would shoot, develop, and print my stuff in the NATO photo lab, under the tutelage of three great Army Photographers, Gilbert, Bob, and Jim. I probably spelled both Bob and Jim's last names wrong. I've lost touch with these guys. Last I heard from Gil, he was teaching English in China.

I would spend hours in the lab at night. That was fun and better than being in the apartment, but I don't miss it. I had my own lab for a while, but then digital cameras changed how I would make photographs forever.

I found some really good photos among these negatives, some I never printed, I assume because my tastes have changed over the years, preferring to make a record of the things I have done, the places I have visited, rather than the people. Once I scan a negative, I check it, then Trash It. This would have been sacrilegious a few years ago, but seeing how my dad's photography was treated by everyone but Kady and me after he and mom died made me wary of leaving anything behind.

Here are a few shots from the first roll I scanned, from a solo walking trip to the hill above Alsancak, Izmir.

 

17 February, 2019: Shows and a Country Drive

The weather is nasty and cold here. I refuse to go out in it, so I have been binging different shows, some good, some not. Kady was out of town all weekend, so I had plenty of time on my hands.

I love the new season of True Detective on HBO. I'm caught up and remain impatient of this whole waiting-a-week thing.

I just found out about The Expanse on Amazon. I'm digging this show a lot. I love rogue detective dramas and anything in space, so this had me from the opening scenes. It's a great story line, though the science leaves a lot to be desired.

I'll watch anything with Naomi Watts, but Gypsy on Netflix is stressing me out more than Dexter. It is like watching a train wreck about to happen. I assume there are fucked up therapists, but this not very believable. I want her to get caught to save her patients.

I finished watching Homecoming on Prime. Loved it. It's believable and, well, Julia Roberts. I love good conspiracy theory movies.

DJ came in Sunday morning for coffee, conversation, a drive in the country in Bess, and Lunch. We drove to Gordonville and took a left on State 231, the Blue Ridge Turnpike, and drove until we linked back up with Highway 29. It is a beautiful road, best taken, I imagine, in Fall or Spring. I will have to go back, soon. Lunch was at Vinny's. Baked Spaghetti.

 

11 February, 2019: Running to Birmingham

Kady and I got up early Friday morning, loaded up the Fusion, and drove to Birmingham. E had a plan!

We stopped on the way for a quick lunch, in Tennessee, with SS at Cracker Barrel, making it to Birmingham by mid afternoon. E had us booked in the Redmont Hotel, a beautiful old place on 5th Avenue North and Arrington Boulevard. It was nice, but lacked some of the amenities of a modern hotel. Our room had no chairs, no microwave, no refrigerator, no desk, just two beds and what I dubbed the Cleopatra Lounger. The Keurig was inconveniently located in the nightstand between the two full beds.

The room was beautiful, the beds nice, and the bath was great, but there was just no place to sit comfortably. I guess we could have played cards in the lobby. Kady pointed out that I was not originally meant to be there, so it would have been perfect for them, were I not there. The Valet Parking guys were great.

Kady and I ate in the hotel restaurant when we arrived, then napped until time to go get E. Our burgers were super.

We picked E up at the Airport that evening and fed her a late dinner in the hotel restaurant, Harvest.

Saturday morning, E's 34th Birthday, E and I were up at 6 AM for the Super Hero 5K. We walked in freezing weather and strong wind to the start point at Railroad Park, then had Coffee at The Red Cat Coffee House. The coffee was great, and, since I was not running, I had their Breakfast Bowl of cheesy grits with egg and bacon. It was delicious!

E smoked the run. Though starting in the back of the pack of a mass release, which makes for a lot of dodging slower people , she finished with an amazing time of 29:32. My baby's a stud!

We all met Kady's sister Sherri and Sherry's Cafe in Trussville for lunch and to drop off some items for her to sell at her booth at the flea market. The rest of the day was preparation for Sunday and the rest of Saturday, we drove by Mom's house to see if there were any changes by the new owners. There weren't. Then we drove to Piggly Wiggly for Fitvine Wine, then to Boutwell Auditorium to pick up E's run packet for the Mercedes Birmingham 1/2 Marathonon Sunday, then Dream Cakes in Homewood for birthday cupcakes, and then to Michael's for grave flowers for Emmette, Juanita, Bill, Sylvia, and Mike. I picked up the American flags for Dad, Bill, and Mike.

E wanted to spend time with her Grandmother for her Birthday; it was the reason for the whole trip. We decorated all three markers, planted their flags, and then popped a cork and drank wine while telling fun stories. It was a much better crowd than the last time we were there.

We were pretty pooped by the end of the day and not eager to fight the Saturday night crowds at dinner, so we ate in the hotel restaurant again. Their food is really good, a little pricy, but good. We all had variations of the New York Strip, but I won by letting the chef prepare it the way he wanted. Kady and E made changes and I believe they missed out.

We finished up the night playing cards, Five Crowns.

Sunday morning was another 6 AM start and another walk to Railroad Park. It was much warmer. This time I encouraged E to line up in front of most of the people so she could run her race. After the start, I walked around Southside, re-living my old college days. I started out eating a breakfast at McDonalds, a mistake.

The Southside McDonalds on 5th Avenue South is a nasty place. Don't eat there, ever.

My first mission was to see if the old CDLD building was there and if there was any traces of Doctors Wayne and Sara Findley left. I went right to it. I knew it was right behind the Children's Hospital, and you can't miss that. The building, though a mental health facility now, hasn't changed a bit, but I saw no reference to the Findleys. Doing a Google search, I found that there was a new Hugh Kaul Human Genetics Building and a Findley Conference Center on 20th Street. I headed there.

Because It was Sunday, and because there was a lot of construction going on, I couldn't get to the Findley Center, thought I tried vigorously. It's a wonder I wasn't arrested.

The race tracker was keeping me posted on my phone, and when E passed the 10K mark, I headed to the 10-Mile mark, arriving there about the time she passed the 15K/9-Mile point. Right on time, she ran up and gave me a hug before she headed out on the last three miles, a will-crushing set of zigs and zags that took her to North Birmingham, past our hotel, and away from the finish line. Whoever designed this race course was a sadist. When she hugged me at ten miles, she was literally, four blocks from the finish line, had she gone straight.

She looked great at the 13-Mile mark, hung in there, and finished strong. By the time I made it the last tenth of a mile, she was sitting on the steps of the Birmingham Barons Regent's Park, drinking water and huddling under a reflective blanket. The walk back to the hotel was slow.

After a shower, we checked out of the Hotel and went for lunch at El Cazador Mexican Grill, one of our favorite places in Trussville.

We dropped E off at the Airport about 3:30PM and drove back to Charlottesville, through nasty freezing weather, arriving about 1:30 AM. I zoned out with two hours to go, so Kady drove in the last leg. Having been up since 6, I was thankful.

It was a fast trip and a long weekend. Worth it!


28 January, 2019: Days of Cards

I actually got out of the house yesterday. I went for a short walk about noon, only two miles, but it was something. The weather outside has been bitter cold and wet and Kady is still nursing a cold. I caught the same thing but got over it quicker.

But, Yesterday, I felt fine and the sun was out and the temperature was in the 40s AND I felt like a slug, so I headed out at mid-day. It felt good to be out there.

Ihave been working out in my office a bit doing pushups, crunches, kettle bell swings, curls, and stretching. I need to run.

Kady and I have been spending these dreary days playing two-handed 5-Crowns. It's fun with just two, all about the luck of the draw. Normally, we'll catch the other person with three or four points in their hand and sometimes, we'll "go out" at the same time. Then there are the really fun times when you get dealt just the right cards and go out with the other person holding tons of points. We usually play two sets, then I'll go do John Things for a while, then we'll play some more. Kady normally wins and loves keeping a running score to tell me how badly the Fates and card-Jesus hate me.

We've played games at Jay and KS's a couple of nights. I smoked everyone in 5-Crowns and they all beat me down in King Dominoes and Catan. For whatever reason, I just can't win at Catan. I just can't think it through strategically and I don't barter well. Then, like the last game, I have bad luck and everyone, especially KS, picking on me with the robber marker just for fun. Don't get me wrong, I love playing it, but I think I'd like it a lot more if I didn't come in last every game.

Kady gave me a little Tellos Drone for Christmas and I've been flying it around the house. I use my old Note 5 with the controller and it took me some doing to get drone, controller, and phone to synchronize. Kady was right. "Get something cheap, learn to fly it, before you go spending a gran on something you'll probably destroy. Truth! I've crashed it into almost everything in the house. Good thing it is small and has propeller guards.

For my Birthday, Kady gave me extension tubes for my digital camera so I can take macro photography. Now I need to get outside and find some insects and such.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, I'm reading your poetry. You are depressing. I'll give you the Great War, but, jeez! Lighten the fuck up!

Stephen Hawking, I'm almost finished with your book. It's CRAZY...but I get you. OK, sometimes I don't, so I have to re-read sections.

Later:

Dirge without Music

by Edna St. Vincent Millay

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.

So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:

Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.

Crowned with lilies and with laurel they go;

But I am not resigned.

Lovers and thinkers, into the earth with you.

Be one with the dull, the indiscriminate dust.

A fragment of what you felt, of what you knew,

A formula, a phrase remains,—but the best is lost.

The answers quick and keen, the honest look, the laughter, the love,—

They are gone. They are gone to feed the roses. Elegant and curled

Is the blossom. Fragrant is the blossom. I know.

But I do not approve.

More precious was the light in your eyes than all the roses in the world.

Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave

Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind;

Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, the brave.

I know.

But I do not approve.

And I am not resigned.

 

12 January, 2019: Damn Snow and Great Memories

It's snowing out. We're supposed to get eight inches. That's OK; I don't have anything to do. The Home Owner's Association contracts people to shovel and plow it away. Next week the temperatures are supposed to go into the high 40s, 50 by Friday, so it shouldn't last long. I plan on beginning to run on Monday, my Birthday.

Sixty-six. Who would have guessed.

I knew this was coming, but I got a great surprise this afternoon. My Turk friend, Handan Sahin, has a new album, Alem, out and it hit iTunes today. I bought it straight away and I'm listening to it now. Her voice takes me back to that perfect summer of 2001 and going to see her band at the Carnivale Club on the First Kordon in Izmir. My friends and I became such regulars that the band knew us on sight. I always took Handan flowers and she would dedicate songs to me.

Now she is getting the recognition her talent deserves. I knew back then that she was special.

I went to see her sing the night before I left. As I left the club, the whole band followed outside for the "Gule Gules." It was a great moment. Saying goodbye to her, her band, and all my Turk friends, for, what looks like now, the last time, was hard. I'm happy I have been able to find most of them on Facebook to stay in touch. It is hard to believe these kids are now in their 40s.


9 January, 2019: Back in Charlottesville

I am happy to be back home. I am really, really happy to be back home.

I've been working off my list of things to do that I made when I was spending time in the back seat, left to my thoughts, as we covered over 7000 miles across America. Kady has a bad cold (better now), so I've been left to my own devices. I've picked up groceries, had my military ID Card up-dated, set up my Alexa Dot (responds to "computer") so it can control my life.

Right now I'm listening to my favorite songs on Amazon Unlimited, downloaded Blue Iris for controlling my Security Cameras (if I can figure out how it works), and put the new rug down in the living room (no small task), transferred all of my vacation photos and files from my laptop (The Shuttle Craft) to my main computer (the Starship), and set up my Christmas drone and took it for a test flight.

And I drove Bess.


Tuesday, 1 January, 2019: Minnesota and New Year with E

Happy New Year. My resolution is to never leave my house for this long, ever again. I need my car, my guitar, my space, my things.

Minnesota. Hummmm. What to say about Minnesota? Minnesota is probably great, else why would people live there. Certainly we found great food. We had planned to go to the Mall of America, but were weathered out. We went to a small community theater, Yellow Tree, and fell in love with the cast and play; it was too much fun.

We got to spend a lot of quality time with A's family. That was the best part of the trip. Basically, we arrived just in Minneapolis just in time for snow, ice, and freezing temperatures.

I think, if you want to see Minnesota, you go in late Spring, or Early Fall, but I'm a little wary of the Mosquitos; everyone references them up there.

They must be a big problem.

We drove back to Leavenworth on the 30th. SS had dinner waiting at E's house when we arrived. A two day game session ensued. We've been playing a card game called Five Crowns. It's a blast, easy to learn, and all about good luck, mitigating risk, and taking chances. I'm typically terrible and unlucky.

We drank and played till the ball dropped, toasted a great 2018 and the future, then went to bed. Happily, I didn't have to watch New Year's Rockin' Eve and its typically horrible teenybopper music.

2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 Older