2019 Journal

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Tuesday, 31, December, 2019: Chef Michael

E and A, Cooper, and Mel came back by early afternoon. For supper, we hired a chef to make dinner.


He made a delicious salad to start, and then fed us a surf and turf meal.

After dinner, we played Pictionary and another game of 5-Crowns. We watched Steve Harvey's New Year's show, which was terrible, but we couldn't pick up anything else. That guy is NOT funny.

Monday, 30 December, 2019: Thanks Samsung

Lunch today was at a local mom and pop called Hot Dog King. The food was simple and good. I had the Gyro. Yeah, that kind of place.

The one downer of the trip happened. I crashed my phone. I was notified of an android update and gave permission. After, my phone wouldn't boot up. SS and I drove 30 miles to a US Cellular in Ashville to get it fixed.

While we were on our way there, E called. She and A had a flat tire.

We got my phone fixed and then rescued them. I spent the rest of the holidays trying to get my phone back the way I had it, an impossible task since I didn't have my passwords, which were deleted with my phone info.

Note to Self: NEVER go anywhere without all of your stuff.

Sunday, 29 December, 2019: Cabin in the Woods

Kady and I were on the road to Ashville by 0800 hrs.

We stopped for breakfast and lunch along the way, linking up with SS at Food Lion for supplies, then drove in to the mountains to the cabin we had rented.

Another person was supposed to come along but backed out at the last minute. No surprise there. She has done this too many times to count. Example: She was supposed to ride with me to Key West to spend time with Kady, Sandy, and me, and when I checked with her, a few days before we were to leave, she told me she was in Las Vegas and "couldn't" go. I'm done.

The cabin was really cool, small, two-story, and well kept. Though there were other houses close by, we felt like we were the only people for miles. It was serene and quiet. The place had all the amenities, cable TV, high-speed Internet, indoor plumbing...SS didn't like the skillet; I didn't like the couch. Otherwise, it was a super place, though there were hidden dangers like the dog treats disguised as Chicken Jerky that SS tried and a low-hanging death gutter, that, I think, got everyone at least once.

Saturday, 28 December, 2019: Bring Back Jose Wings!

Cooper and I had the same morning as yesterday, Pee, Breakfast, Baseball Park. We got home in time for me to go get E and A at the airport.

After lunch at Guadalajara, they headed for Williamsburg, with Cooper, to see Coly and Britt.

I packed for Ashville after they left.

Friday, 27 December, 2019: Cooper Time Day Two

Cooper slept all night. I woke him about seven, took him outside, and then we ate breakfast. Later, I took him to a baseball park for some off-leash time. in less than a minute he found two balls let there, so we played a little fetch. I refuse to make him run long, having hurt his hip last time, so I threw short and slow.

We watched football all afternoon. I was hoping for a better showing from Oklahoma, but happy LSU won for the SEC. I didn't care who won the Clemson, Ohio State game, but, in the end, was happy Clemson won...because I detest them less than OSU.

Thursday, 26 December, 2019: Cooper Time

After lunch, E and A left for NYC while I took Cooper for a long walk. I took him on a 4-miler and he did a great job. It was good walking and talking with him again. We sang all of the songs.

Wednesday, 25 December, 2019: Family Christmas

E and A made if from DC in time for lunch. Kady laid on a nice spread of eggs, potatoes, bacon, and cinnamon rolls, watered down with Mimosas. Jay, KS, and the grand-kids got here a little after and we all opened Neel presents.

Krista, Al, and Barb got here in the late afternoon. We played Secret Santa, everyone buying a $50 gift, piling them up, drawing numbers, and choosing a package. KS got what I bought, I got the 12-pound ham Al bought.

After Dinner Jay and KS left and the rest of us played 5-Crowns.

Tuesday, 24 December, 2-19: Kady and John Christmas

Kady and I had a nice quiet day and then opened presents early. I gave her earrings. She picked them out and let me wrap them. I have great tastes. They were beautiful.

She gave me an Ansel Adams Book, Lego Dinosaur Bones, a small box of Godiva Chocolates, and a New England Patriots Salute to Service Cap. I spent the rest of the night putting together my T-Rex.

Friday, 20 December, 2019: Movie Week

Kady, KS, and I went to see Cats tonight. Jay couldn't go because their baby sitter couldn't make it. Before the movie, we ate at a new restaurant in Stonefield called Matchbox Wood-fired Pizza. KS and I shared two pizzas, the Prosciutto + Fig and the Cremini Mushroom. Kady had the Holy Grail Margarita. We all agreed, "Good pizza."

Cats was good. The more I think about it, as a Cats Fan, Cats was great. I enjoyed every minute of it. I think that Kady and KS liked it too, though they may have been faking it for me. The dancing was both fun and beautiful. The songs were given new twists. The script went farther than the stage production to explain what was happening.

Taylor Swift, Rebel Wilson, Jason Derulo, and James Corden did really good jobs with their parts. Ian McClellan was brilliant, and, though I would have preferred a strong baritone Old Deuteronomy, I have to admit that Judy Dench won me over.

Idris Elba was the perfect Macavity and making Taylor's Bombalurina his moll was smart. Jennifer Hudson can flat out sing and act; old girl made me cry. Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer were great fun.

Francesca Hayward is the best thing about the movie. She was a combination of traditional Victoria and Jemima parts, so, I didn't have to deal with Jemima being played by a hip-hop dancer. She can dance! I have never seen the likes of her. She can sing. Her version of the Taylor Swift and Android Lloyd Webber song, Beautiful Ghosts, was a show stopper and rivaled Memory as the best moment in the show. She is also beautiful, the perfect face for the soft and gentle kitten Victoria.

I even liked the CGI. The tails were particularly fun...especially for a cat lover.

All the naysayers can kiss my ass; this movie is a spectacular musical.

Look! It's a movie about humans... dressed up like cats... singing songs about cats... written from poems by T. S. Eliot... by Andrew Lloyd Weber. It's Going to be weird.

Sorry, no one was murdered, there were no explosions, and no cars crashed.

Wednesday afternoon, Kady and I went to see Jumanji: The Next Level. We had a great time. This movie was better than the first one. After the movie, we went for Mex at a little place close to the house, El Jaripeo.

Thursday night, Jk, Jay, and I went to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. Not counting the first move, I think this was my favorite so far. I had it figured out and I knew how I wanted the ending to go, but I'm also a Game of Thrones fan. The writers didn't disappoint. Jay called it "Fan Service." I guess it was. I'm satisfied and left with a warm and fuzzy feeling. That makes me three for three, three movies in three days, all of which I liked.

Next Event--Christmas in C'ville for the whole family.

Monday, 16 December, 2019: Last Spring

It is another cold and dreary day in C'ville and I have nothing to do but surf the net.

After breakfast, I began searching for a few lost Turk friends. That led to watching Turkish music Videos, which led to searching for videos of my favorite Turkish songs, which led to a specific video of my favorite Turkish Singer singing my favorite Turkish song - Ikinci Bahar by Sezen Aksu.

The video is from a much loved TV series in Turkiye, Ikingi Bahar, about an older man and a younger woman who fall in love. This clip is about the conflict between the man and his ex-wife, who, with her brothers, stole his restaurant.

He, his new wife, and his supportive children, talk Sezen, the most famous singer in all of Turkiye, into eating their more authentic Turkish food from their food truck. The age difference of the couple is not lost on Sezen, but after a few questions and seeing the love and support of the man's children and his new wife's brother, she seems accepting and decides to sing for them.

She sings Ikinci Bahar, from which the name of the show came, which means "Second Spring" which is the Turk way of saying Mid-life Crisis, just in a more beautiful , accepting, and poetic way. It means something more, like, New Love, New Life, or Second Chance.

Saturday, 14 December, 2019: Mrs. G

My young friend Ryan's wedding was today. She and EG, super guy, American hero, finally tied the knot. It was a nice ceremony, in a small venue out in the woods, between Amherst and Forks of Buffalo, with a gigantic fireplace. Rustic is what I would call it.

We drove down with KS who was there to paint the scene. I don't think the crowd "got" how cool it was to have an artist paint the wedding. They paid her very little attention and showed less interest. BUT, the family understood and were appreciative.

I recognized about half of the bridesmaids, but none of EG's groomsmen. There were several VMI grads there, but they didn't recognize me or didn't care to come speak, except Kris, Ryan's Rat.

Ech, Chris and Samantha were there and sat with us. KS set up just to our left, out of the way, but with a good view.

The ceremony was FAST! We all agreed that we had never seen a ceremony go so quickly. Ryan looked beautiful and her dress was amazing. I could tell she was nervous, but she got her lines out.

EG messed his up, twice. Poor Guy.

The music was good throughout. Sinatra-like. The music for the first dance, father-daughter dance, and mother-son dance were country tunes. Good choices.

The food was good, simple, roast beef and pork, green beans, mac and cheese (my fave), and a salad. I thought that everything was perfectly Ryan.

The one thing I didn't like was what the photographers wore. If you are a professional photographer, you don't show up to a semi-formal event wearing gym clothes, you dress the part. After my first impression of them, they became invisible, a good thing. I hope they were at least good photographers. Ryan and EG need to have a record of how beautiful the night was.

When the dancing began and the disc jockey turned the lights down too low for KS to work, we packed up and headed home.

It was a good night but I think it might be the end of our friendship as I know it. Since I left VMI and since she's had kids, our contact has become more and more infrequent and usually initiated by me. Now that she and EG are married, that would seem the normal and proper course.

Next Event: E and A, and COOPER, arrive for the holidays.

Friday, 13 December, 2019: Bad Weather

I had a walk yesterday, the first I've had in a week. The weather was gorgeous and I was comfortable in a light jacket and running pants. The weather for the past week had been foul, rainy, windy, cold. Dreary. Well, it's back.

Today, it is supposed to be in the low 30s and rainy all day long. Luckily, it didn't go below freezing last night and the low tonight will be in the 40s.

I need to go somewhere. Being cooped up indoors is boring the shit out of me but I am not chancing this weather. My little cold a few weeks ago hit me hard and I don't want another one. So, instead of walking, on cold and nasty days, I'm going to work out, do some Thai Chi, and maybe begin experimenting with Yoga.I need to do something. Lack of exercise at this age is a bad thing for the body and mind.

Tomorrow, rain or shine, Kady, KS, and I will drive to Amherst for Ryan's wedding. The venue looks nice and I'm sure to enjoy the drive.

KS will be doing her first wedding painting, a piece of art done during the ceremony and reception. It is a pretty cool idea. I am interested to see how it turns out and how it is received by the guests.

She also made the save the date cards, invitations, and maps for Ryan. She's smart.

The Mulberry Tree is still pissing me off. This is the season when the ripe berries fall off the tree onto my car cover, looking like massive amounts of bird poop, permanently staining my $300 cover. Better the cover than the car, I guess. There are still thousands of these damn berries hanging on the tree, prepared to cause future messes. Killing the tree is the only solution.

First World problems! I know.

Kady and I had a 5-Crowns marathon and binged about 5 episodes of Evil. It was a Jammies kind of night.

Tuesday, 10 December, 2019: The Great Cell Phone Shuffle

This morning, Kady and I went to U. S. Cellular, who has been our phone service provider since we moved to Virginia. Kady decided this weekend that she didn't like her Samsung S-10+ because the accessories for iPhones were much more fun.

She's always been an iPhone person, but picked up the S-10 so Jk could have a special Fortnite skin.

She did a little research and made a few calls. By Saturday she figured out that she could pay off my S-9, give me her S-10+, and get the iPhone 11 Pro for just a few dollars. Still, I had to push her to do it; she thought it was silly and too extravagant.

By noon we had it done and I spent the rest of the day setting up my hand-me-down phone for my use. She began accessorizing her phone almost immediately. I plan on using this until it craps out.

Then again, Samsung may release a Note-Fold one day.

Sunday, 8 December, 2019: Football and more Football

Yesterday was a fantastic Football Day and I will have to say it worked out great, just the way I thought it would. LSU handled Georgia, Ohio State struggled with Wisconsin, I wanted Virginia to beat Clemson but there was no chance, and Oklahoma beat Baylor.

I predicted at the start of the season that, with Jalen Hurts, Oklahoma would be in the playoffs, but I was hoping they would play Alabama. That would have been poetic.

Auburn got a decent Bowl Game, the Outback, playing a good opponent, Minnesota, my son-in-law's father's team. Al and Barb will be here for Christmas here in Virginia, so the conversation should be lively.

Poor Alabama. Michigan better watch out. The Tide is pissed off. I predict a massacre.

Thursday, 5 December, 2019: 38th Anniversary Day

Tomorrow is our anniversary, but we decided to celebrate today, so we could go out to eat, not have to deal with the Friday night crowds, and so we could go see Em's Christmas play at her school. Em is the Virgin Mary.

Plans change. Kady has decided we'll just order in Pizza and curl up on the couch for a movie. I had a nice little Italian place picked out, but pizza is more historic and symbolic. We went for pizza after our wedding ceremony. I'm not sure about the movie. Kady is particular and enjoys spooky movies, so, she gets to choose.

I'm sure we will be watching another of her chain-saw-chopping-mall-halloween-final-destination-scream-exorcist flick. Friday the 13th Part 45 or something.

KS called this morning and asked if I would take her photo for an ID Badge. She came over a little after 12, giving me time to set up a small studio at the top of the stairs. The shoot went well and we got some great shots.

She looked as beautiful as ever.

Boy, how I miss the skylight at the top of the stairs in the VMI House. It was the perfect studio.

My new Camera continues to defeat me. Every shot I took of KS today had too much yellow. That's usually caused by shooting indoors on an ISO less than 400 on simpler cameras, but this camera has to be set to the balance you want.

It even has a portrait setting for skin-tones. I figured this all out later. It is a good thing that most mistakes can be edited in digital photography, so long as the subject is in focus.

Well, Now I Know.

The pizza was great, my favorite, and the movie turned out to be a 1944 classic ghost story, The Uninvited with Ray Milland, Ruth Hussey, and Gail Russell. Cool Ghost Story.

Tuesday, 3 December, 2019: What SS Does

SS came to visit for Thanksgiving weekend. During his visit, we solved all the world's problems together and he solved all my computer problems...alone.

I have, for years, been wrestling with linking my home server to my home computers. I figured out enough to use it like a Wi-Fi external hard drive, religiously backing up my photos and documents by cutting and pasting. The backup program that came with it never really worked well.

I could never get my Laptop to "see" it, which meant that I had to load my files stored there to an external hard drive, put them on my desktop, and then download them to my home server. It was painful. Well, this weekend, I decided I had had enough of that crap and began researching and making changes, hoping to fix it. I guess I asked him too many questions, because SS kicked me out of my chair, took over both computers, and began working the issue.

After finding and fixing all my mistakes, he simply made sure the server was "shared" and "mapped" it to my two computers and to Kady's laptop. Problem Solved!

I asked him, "How do you do mapping?" He refused to tell me. Smart.

There is another added benefit, something I had wanted to do long ago but had forgotten the idea amid my frustrations. What this new Home Network allows me to do is edit on my server from either computer and save changes there, instead of worrying about backing up all the time.

Here's how it all works now. I open my server website files, edit them with either computer, save to the server, then upload from the new server files to my webpage host. I can do the same for photos and documents.

Kim and I have a cloud service where our new photos automatically back up. I'll start doing that with my documents as soon as she finishes sorting and backing up her photos.

Life simplified...thanks to SS.

Sunday, 1 December, 2019: Sweetie

I texted Ryan today for her birthday. It had been months since we last "talked." I miss that.

Kim and I will be at her wedding on the 14th. I imagine young men all over the world will weep.

Saturday, 30 November, 2019: War damn Eagle

Auburn beat Alabama!

I didn't think there was a chance this year, so I watched, calmly, not wanting to get my hopes up.

They didn't have Tua. Auburn was at Home. Alabama had everything to lose. Auburn was just playing Alabama.

It was the wildest game I have seen in a very long time. It was a game against two great teams, playing their hearts out, making things happen, and it could have been anybody's game.

It was almost sad that Alabama missed the kick to tie it up. It was almost sad that Alabama had too many people on the field for their last chance to get the ball. Almost sad, but not quite.

This was the Iron Bowl! Bring your best game. No Whining.

War Eagle.

Thursday, 28 November, 2019: A Nice Quiet Thanksgiving

Kady cooked for two days, making bread, a pie, and a cake. Today, we sat down to a feast.

SS is here, so it was just the three of us.

She served corn casserole, sweet potatoes, green beans, turkey, ham, rolls, dressing with gravy, pecan pie, and cream cheese pound cake. Simply Amazing.

The Kids were all supposed to be away at KS's dad's house, but that changed at the last minute, too late to adjust our plans. They ate at their house and we ate at ours. We invited them for dessert but Em was running a fever.

E and A are together, enjoying a little husband and wife time for a change. We'll see them at Christmas through New Year's Day. I can't wait to see Cooper.

The next event is our anniversary. I have a plan.

Tuesday, 19 November, 2019: Day-Date

Kady told me to be ready by 10 and to bring my camera. I was up by seven and ready to go by eight.

She was a little after ten getting ready, but we were out of the house and on the road before eleven.

Where we were going was her idea and a mystery to me, but I knew she always picks great places to photograph. She planned this two weeks ago, but I caught a cold and didn't feel like leaving the house.

We went to Walton Mountain, not to see the museum, but to take photos of an old church. It was beautiful and well worth the hour and a half on the road.

We hit Guadalajara for Mex when we got back into town, then watched The Hound of the Baskervilles. Though she denied it all day, a Photo Trip, Lunch Out at one of our favorite places, and then a Movie together equals a Day-Date.

I win.

Friday, 15 November, 2019: It says GT for a Reason

I went driving today. I don't do much Joy Riding these days, as Bess has enough miles. BUT, I felt the need for speed.

Jay and I went to see Ford vs. Ferrari last night and it was GREAT! Go See it. Jay and I agreed, it was the most fun movie we had seen in ages.

What a great story. It definitely made me want to go rip up some asphalt.

As soon as I got home, I checked Shelby American's website on the price of a Shelby Cobra. Nope! They are way out of my price range, even without the engine and transmission. But, I have Bess. Maybe I could drop a 5.0 and 6-speed in her. Seat delete, Carbon Fiver Hood, Axel, big breaks, wider tires...at about the same cost as a Cobra.

Maybe I could just realize that Bess is fast enough for a 66-year-old man. Fast enough. That's like saying too much bacon, Auburn scored too many points, or her legs are too long. Your car can never be "fast enough." What Nonsense.

I may have burned rubber on Highway 231, crossing Highway 20, in three gears, but I was pretty sensible.

It was a beautiful day...then Kim beat me in 5-Crowns. Twice. By a LOT.

Monday, 11 November, 2019: Sitting

I've been a bit under the weather for about a week. I need to get out but of the house but walks seem to make me relapse. I'm probably driving poor Kady crazy.

I did help get the tree up so she could decorate it. It looks amazing. I, also, took out the storage boxes and put them in the shed. That helped her get the living room and library in order.

Saturday was a fun football game day, with Minnesota beating Penn State and LSU beating Alabama in two wild games. I really didn't care who won either game, but pulling for underdog Minnesota was fun. I would have preferred Bama over LSU so we could play them undefeated. I love when AU beats undefeated Alabama.

In between games, I began experimenting with Microsoft Edge, because I was having a problem with Chrome playing On Demand programs on Xfinity. It's weird. Xfinity works just fine on my laptop, but not my desktop; the video is pixilated and fades in and out. It worked just fine if I went to the actual site, like HBO and it worked just fine on Edge.

There were things I liked about Edge, but a lot of things I didn't, like having to use text on their Taskbar. I usually just use the site's .ico on Chrome as a space saving device. The sites I visit daily are numerous and I have all their symbols memorized and categorized.

Sunday, I began re-watching Game of Thrones from the beginning. I also started moving back to Google Chrome after trying Vivaldi and Edge. Chrome is my comfort zone and, if you change your default search engine to DuckDuckGo, it is probably just as secure. One big reason for going back is Messages for the Web, which lets me text and use Duo over my Laptop and Desktop. It is, finally, a super capability and is cross-platform.

I've exhausted Ancestry again. I'll try again in six months or so...see what they have then. There is still nothing new there for John Clayton.

I went on a texting tear this morning, beginning with Happy Birthday wishes to KS. Next, I sent Veterans Day wishes to the Inner Circle (Sal, Roger, Brian, BR), and my Army Buddies (Mitch, Jim C, Ed, Kendall ), and my Kids (Jay, E, A). I'm proud of them all and what they continue to do for our country.

Tonight, I watched a Johnny Depp movie called The Professor. if you like live-for-the-moment movies, this one may be for you.. I found it in keeping with my current state of mind, knowing I have but a few years left. It didn't leave me with any great wisdom, and I don't think it was meant to, but in the misery loves company category, it was good to see a story along the same inevitable lines.

Friday, 8 November, 2019: Don't Tell Me I'm Too Early!

I put the lights on the Christmas tree today.

I was closely supervised.

Kady is down there decorating Right Now. We do what we want!

Yeah, we know the whole Thanksgiving argument, but the tree is part of our Thanksgiving tradition...and...I haven't had a tree in my house for three years, being either in Florida, Savannah, or Kans-ass.

I've missed Kim's Tree. 

You gotta see this tree; it's the most beautiful tree in the world.

Once she's finished, I'll show you.

She buys something new every year. This year - Reindeer. Pink metal Reindeer and a Bejeweled Spider, the spider being a symbol of this year.


There are, of course, a lot of ornaments that I consider mine, and I'm pretty silly about them. Anything military or paratrooper themed, those are mine. Bears, mine. Mice, mine. Opus and all Bloom County artifacts, MINE! Aubie and Auburn, ours, but Mine.


I get to put these on the tree.

Otherwise, I just get the hell out of her way and let the pretty girl do her thing. I wouldn't want to put anything in the wrong place, overstep my bounds, or , shiver, make her tree "unbalanced."

This, my friends, is an EXACT SCIENCE!

Once up, it is a history lesson about our family. I will stand in front of it for long periods of time, remembering.

I love it when the presents are under it, and everyone is here, and Elise wakes us all up before the sun is up, and I'm "forced" to play Santa, and watching A Christmas Story all day, and the music, and the laughter.

This year promises to be such a year.


Monday, 4 November, 2019: Symbols

The hated and despised statues in Charlottesville include -

There are probably more hated Charlottesville symbols that I don't know about; there is just so much to hate these days.

Yesterday, I went to visit these emblems of New-Think Oppression. I wanted to see for myself a few I had never seen. I wanted to see the vandalism that has marred a few of these statues. I wanted to photograph the damage and record them. I think they will soon be gone.

 Once we remove all the historical references around the Nation, we can forget about Northern economic oppression of the Southern States, Slavery, the War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow, and all of the bad things. Then, there won't be any oppression, or bigotry, or discrimination, or sexism, or white male dominance, because the symbols will all be gone.

Before long, we will forget that any of it ever happened. We are going to have to look harder to find things that offend us.

The Washington Monument! It's very phallic and , I'm pretty sure, George Washington owned a slave or two. It will have to come down.

The White House will have to be painted and re-named. Rainbow House?

War memorials will need to go.

All good citizens should submit a list of statues, street names, and buildings that offend them so we can take them all down.

Burn it ALL Down!

Auburn struggled to beat Ole Miss on Saturday. This afternoon, I helped KS hang her art in a local restaurant.

Monday, 28 October, 2019: A new Site

It hit me in my sleep, how to make a site that would work well enough without style sheets and all that crap, just using html.

I designed what you're seeing in about an hour, then tweaked it all day today, adding to and standardizing the pages. I have a lot of work to do, but that's the fun part.

I got, against my better judgment, a flu shot today.

I haven't walked in 4 days and I'm going Starkers.

Sunday, 27 October, 2019: We Could'a Beat Em

Those Crazy Auburn Tigers!

Our QB has a lot to learn; crowd noise obviously scares the shit out of him. The team functioned well, but he was the weak link in the chain last night. What was his pass to completion ratio? About 3 for 1000 as I remember it. Had he just completed a few crucial passes, instead of throwing them behind the open receivers, we could have beaten that other team...I forget their name..some team from Louisiana.

True, a few good passes were dropped, sometimes by our most efficient star receivers, which didn't help either.

Hail the Defense...best in the Nation! So now the pressure's really off. Even if we beat Georgia and Alabama, it'll just knock them out of the running and let Ohio State and Clemson, with their weak (read: Not SEC) schedules, move into the number one and number two playoff slots.

The what ifs are too many to discuss with Georgia and Florida, Alabama and LSU, Auburn and Georgia and Auburn and Alabama all playing soon. The SEC is crazy.

It rained all morning so I didn't get in my walk. I'm gonna go this afternoon, maybe, or just wait till tomorrow. No hurry.

I've been helping KS with her art, or rather, building her portfolio, by taking photos of her paintings. I set up a little studio in her dining room with a black drape and flash. It worked well, but I have to get the camera on the same level as the frame so I don't get converging lines. We'll try again this evening.

Jk has expressed a desire to be baptized. Em, of course is following Jake. I think it is a dumb idea, unless Jk knows whey he's doing it, otherwise it's just a ritual with no understanding. I would make him do the research and a brief-back, but KS and Jay are allowing it, and have Chris coming up from Bragg to do the deed.

My part was to make a map for the family and to be there and keep my mouth shut.

Monday, 21 October, 2019: Video Chatting Turkiye

I just happened to be sitting at my desk and just happened to have Instagram open as an application on my desktop, and just happened to catch a glimpse of a quick notification in the right corner of my screen that said Sevda had sent me a message.

I checked and she was asking if I could talk. I got right back to her and she called on Instagram video. It was a small miracle that it happened.

We had the most wonderful talk. I finally met her husband (looks like Robert De Nero) and her two little girls, Lena and Number Two (that's what they call her). They opened my package, which Turkey wouldn't let them send me, and it was full of Coffee (Kahve) and Turkish Delight (Lokum).

I told them to please enjoy my stuff. Sevda asked when I was coming back and I said, "maybe soon," though I don't know how.

I would love to go back. Maybe I can talk the kids into going with me. They are in Ankara, so I would have to visit there, but my heart would want to be in Izmir. Sevda said she would be visiting Izmir soon and that she would take photos of all the places so I could see how it looks today.

I should go backandnd, take my own photos...more of Sevda with a decent camera.

And of Berna.

And, I'd go visit Sahin, Huseyin in Samsun, and Murat in Istanbul, and Serife in Konya.

And eat at all my places.

And, drink till dawn.

And, dance.

And, swim again on the Turquois Coast.

And, visit Troy, and Ephesus, and Pergamon, and Bursa, and Tirkidag, and Foca, and Bodrum.

I'm going to need a car and a month.

Sunday, 20 October, 2019: Professional Photos with KS

New Camera and New Lens.

Daughter-in-law needs photos for Linkedin and artist portfolio.

Say No More!


Saturday, 19 October, 2019: Trucks and a Heron

After the Auburn game against Arkansas was well in hand, SS and I went to Lee-Hi Truck Stop for a truck show.

These trucks were "gee-wiz" and all, if you're into eighteen-wheelers, but I was expecting some old trucks. Nope. These were mostly top-of-the-line rigs with custom paintjobs, lots of chrome, and pulling matching trailers.

I had my fill of it all in about thirty-minutes.

My thoughts were that, at least during of the show, Interstate 81 might be a better drive. Probably not.

Auburn had really kicked off in Arkansas' ass by the time we got back home.

Friday, I went back to Ivy Creek and walked a different trail. I took one that went down a ridge that forms a peninsula into the Rivanna Reservoir. I was hoping to find the Great Blue Heron I spooked on my last walk.

Sure enough, on one of the little side paths to the water, there he was in the distance, hunting around a little mossy island just off shore on the opposite side. I sat on the bench next to the path and watched him for the longest time and took a few far-away photos.

During my walk, I saw very little wildlife, except around the water.

There were Canada Geese swimming in the channel, loads of turtles sunning on rocks and fallen trees, three extremely fat Mallards, basking on a log, and a Rufus Sided Towhee staying one step ahead of me along the path.

I'm surprised that I never see deer out there. I'm guessing they are spooked by the other people.

Though the parking lot is always full, I rarely see people on the trail, but I hear them. People are noisy.

I try to move slowly, walk quietly, stop often, look around, up and down, listen, and use my Binos to look deep into the brush.

Except for the occasional person, this is a peaceful place.

I like to think of it as my Cross Creek or Walden Pond.

The two Turkey Vultures circling overhead were a little insulting.

Sunday, 13 October, 2019: A Very VMI Weekend

Ken came to visit on Friday and stayed overnight. He is the dad of a former Cadet and Naval Aviator, who recruits North Carolina, mostly Wilmington, kids for VMI. He has always sent the school strong students, mostly seeking commissions. Every one appreciates the work he has done.

I used to give him more access to barracks than many civilians ever get, and from that, we formed a strong friendship. He was at the school on Thursday to see his kids, something he does faithfully throughout their cadetships, working on their problems, helping them stay focused, taking them out to dinner away from Post, and delivering wife Alice's amazing Brownies.

Before I left, I tried my best to make sure he had a person who would support him like I did, and the current Commandant seems to have assumed that role.

Ken, after learning of my love for BBQ, always brought me a small tub of North Carolina's finest...good, but not Alabama BBQ. Alice sometimes sent her Brownies, The Gold Standard of Brownies.

He arrived a little after noon, hungry, so we took him to Martin's Grill for a burger...but he opted for the Paddy Melt. My burger was great. I hope his meal was as good; I've never had that. I loved seeing him, but his visit led to much talk about VMI and the old frustrations came crawling back.

We talked about the good times, good cadets, and what a good place it generally is, but I couldn't help letting the bad ooze to the top. There was just too much at the end that has soured me and I don't want to dwell on it.

I'm done with all that.

I do still check the sports scores and was happy to see VMI beat Samford this year. They have a winning season going. Go Figure.

Ken left for Wilmington after breakfast at Michael's Diner and Restaurant. My breakfast of Florentine Omelet, Biscuits, Bacon, and Grits was really really good.

It was good having a Auburn Game Stress-Free Weekend (that could be one word). There was craziness...like Georgia being beaten by South Carolina. That was fun, but..What does that say about Auburn? I'm guessing it's not a good sign. I'm seriously worried about Arkansas.

E flies home Wednesday. Germany: Done! Now she and A and Cooper will have some time together...no schools and no deployments for a while. I'll see them Christmas and New Year.

On the 8th, I  tried out a new trail area off of Earlysville Road called Ivy CreekFoundation. It is well maintained, mostly in a natural state, with nice trails and overlooks of Ivy Creek, of course, and the Rivanna River Reservoir.

It is quiet out there, and  though the parking lot was full, I didn't see anyone on the trail I was on.  My rail took me down to the water's edge where sat a bench,  I took a seat and watched and listened.  It was soothing to my old soul.

Sunday, 6 October, 2019: Keystone Cops

The pressure is off, the anticipation is done, the promise of a chance to compete for the National Title is over. Auburn Lost to Florida. It was one of the ugliest games, for both teams, in recent history. Kady called it them Keystone Cops. There were fumbles, interceptions, missed tackles, and miscues all over the field. Neither team could do much, but, in the end, Florida had more points.

Now we can take two weeks off to lick our wounds before having to play Arkansas. I'm left wondering if we can beat them, much less Ole Miss, LSU, and Alabama.

I'm wondering if we can beat Samford.

In happier news: VMI beat Citadel, in Charleston, for the first time in twelve years, taking home the Silver Shako.

I went for a medium walk this morning...breaking the rules for my stitches.

Thursday, 3 October, 2019: In Stitches

This morning I went to Dr. Tromberg, a dermatology surgeon, to have a Squamous Skin Cancer removed from my chest. This is not life-threatening, just itchy and a little painful. She cut a plug out of my body about the size of a dime and about 3/8th an inch thick, checked it under a microscope to make sure she got the roots, and then stitched me up...sixteen stitches along a horizontal line about an inch and a half long, right over my sternum. Didn't hurt a bit. Now I'm in pain, but not from the surgery.

It seems I can't even put the car cover on Bess without injuring myself these days. As I was trying to tie down the cover, I stepped on the edge of the curb, and fell hard on my side, jamming my elbow into my rib cage.

I'm OK, but my ribs on my right side hurt and are getting more sore by the hour. Luckily, I didn't rip out my stitches.

I'm down for a nap after I finish this.

Sevda sent me some Turkish Delight which goes well with my renewed love of Turk Kahve and my attempts to perfect the process of making it. She's the sweetest.

Kim made Imam Bayildi (The Priest Fainted) Tuesday night and it was as good as any I ever had in Turkiye, maybe better. She also made Turk Ekmek (traditional Turkish Bread), from a recipe I found in a magazine, and it was perfect. JUST LIKE the bread over there.

We watched a Australian cooking show together, which she suggested, because the were cooking Turkish food.

She was really interested, so I suggested she try one of the dishes. Smart Boy!

Sunday, 29 September, 2019: The Improbable Task

Watching Auburn destroy Mississippi State last night was so much fun. I told Kim, who opted to watch a movie at Jay and KS's house instead, that it was like watching NFL Red Zone--just about as soon as Auburn had the ball, we were watching a touchdown. The team was clicking on all cylinders last night.

We did cough up the ball a few times, but that didn't help State; they were lost with eight minutes left in the first quarter. So, what does that mean for Auburn's season. Could they go all the way?

Sports Commentators have been stating all year that Auburn's schedule is the toughest in the nation. I'll take their word for it. In our next games we'll play #10 Florida, Arkansas, and #5 LSU on the road. Then we'll play Ole Miss, #3 Georgia, Samford, and #1 Alabama.

Let's say we won out, defeating everyone. We'd still have to play Georgia again, in Atlanta, for the SEC Championship, and we remember how that went two years ago.

Can this team do it? It would be a major miracle. But, Auburn has seen plenty of miracles.

Wednesday, 25 September, 2019: Backspace

After my walk, I took our new pressure washer, a gift from SS, to the back patio and began cleaning everything.

I cleaned siding, windows, brick walls, the concrete pad, our patio furniture, and the outdoor carpet. I had the best time.

Now everything looks really nice out there and I plan to use it now that the temperatures have dropped. I miss the Back porch at 404; it was my favorite room in our quarters.

I need to stop wining about this space not having screens and make it my own. I'll move all my travel things out there-computer, music, something to drink, and a cigar. That should do it.

Tuesday, 24 September, 2019: Happy Birthday Cooper...or Not

E has today as Cooper's birthday, I had it on my calendar as yesterday, and Kady thinks it is Thursday and has the documentation to prove it.

Worst case, Cooper has three birthday parties. Maybe we could just have a month of Cooper celebration, though that might be a little unfair to Jay.

My transition to Vivaldi, away from Google is almost complete. It has actually been fun. I was able to upload my Google contacts, but my calendar I had to input one entry at a time. I haven't figure out how to see my calendar on my phone efficiently. Same with contacts.

Vivaldi needs Apps for those. And a LIST App!

I watched a couple of good movies today. Mary Queen of Scots was really good. Love me some Saoirse Ronan. Then I watched Shadows in the Sun. Good movie. It'll make anyone want to go to Italy. Surprise! It starred Claire Forlani, who I haven't seen since Meet Joe Black, and who is, most likely, the loveliest girl in show business.

There was one quote in the movie that struck me as true, "I wish I could go back, just for one day. Time is a precious thing...and years teach much what the days never knew." Looking back through the years, who hasn't wished for that "One Day"?

Sunday, 22 September, 2019: When I'm Wrong

I will have to admit that Notre Dame looked good against Georgia.

They played well but lost by a few points. They have a pretty weak schedule for the rest of the year, playing teams that are struggling. Duke, Michigan, and Navy might give them good games, but I think they will win out, and there is the problem--Their bobo Schedule.

Yeah, I still don't like them.

Saturday, 21 September, 2019: War Eagle

Auburn just beat Texas A&M. The score makes it seem closer than it was. We shut them down...in College Station. It was an ass whipping, and I love anyone beating the shit out of A&M, especially Auburn..

My night will be complete if Georgia destroys Notre Dame, who, once again, is over ranked. There are a few teams out there that I can't stand. In no particular order, they are, West Virginia, Miami, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, and Texas A&M.

I've begun playing around with Vivaldi Browser. It's very cool, but there's a learning curve. It may be a while before I can transition away from Google Chrome, if I ever do.

Friday, 20 September, 2019: Movie Day in Chantilly

Tuesday, I went to the dermatologist to get a skin thingy cut off for biopsy. Last time, I was told it was benign, the doctor treated it, and I was told it would not return. It did. I'm waiting to see if I have to have it cut out.

Wednesday, Kady went to the doctor. All good.

Yesterday, Jay, KS, Kady, and I went to see Ad Astra at The National Air and Space Museum in Chantilly. I love this place and my people made sure I had plenty of time to walk through it.

We also planned and were first in line to see the movie in IMAX in the Airbus IMAX Theater. IMAX is cool, but I don't see the need. it wasn't, in my opinion, that much better than a regular movie. The trip, however, was worth it to see the aircraft and spacecraft.

Ad Astra. What can I say? It was a fun movie, but I was bored at times. To me, it was like Apocalypse Now in Space, same story line, the Hero Narrative, rehashed over a long, seemingly unending movie. The science was also a bit suspect. OK, a LOT suspect!

The reason for the mission, some kind of dangerous antigravity waves coming from Neptune, I think, weak. The high speed chase with revving engines and gun battle with sound effects on the airless moon made me want to get up and walk out.

The hero's miraculous trip from one spacecraft to the other, passing through the rings of Neptune with a shield, was just ridiculous. Even the time appreciation for the trip from Mars to Neptune was improbable. To get from Mars to Neptune, 1,560,000,000 miles at their closest point, in the stated time of 70-something days, McBride would have to average around 800,000 Miles per Hour.

Assuming you could achieve speeds like this with an "anti-matter drive," which is the movie's stated technology, you still have to accelerate and brake within tolerances safe for humans. We still don't know what those tolerances are. Human tolerances aside, you still have to accelerate and brake, so, actually, you would have to travel at speeds much faster than 800,000 MPH.

Comparatively, Our fastest spacecraft to date, the Juno probe, is currently traveling at 165,000 MPH. Ah well, It was still entertaining and it was fine day with Kady and the Kids. I had a great time.

Saturday, 14 September, 2019: Rain Days

SS came in on Thursday. He arrived right after my walk.

Cards ensued. J

ay, KS, and Em came over for supper, a BBQ feast of Foothill Mama's pork, delivered by SS, Kady's baked beans, Mexican Coke, finished with Tillamook ice cream.

I spent my few moments with Em explaining why you could, sometimes, see the moon during the day. I think that, maybe, I have a little scientist on my hands. After the lesson, we curled up on the couch for more serious business, watching Spirit on TV and eating Gummy Bears.

Friday was meant to be a trip to see the Steam Tractors at the Summerset Steam and Gas Show, but it rained all day. I barely got my walk in before it started.

Friday night was another family dinner of Kady's BBQ Meat Balls and Mashed Potatoes. I ate two helpings, then worked some of it off with some hide-and-seek with Em. It's the best time.

Today looks like more rain, though I'm told I have "Things to do." I think this means pressure washing the back siding and porch, which, I'm sure, in Kady's mind, constitutes my One Thing for the day.

Auburn football today...a good game to improve. Right now, it is looking like a rough year ahead with up to four losses and maybe more. We'll see.

Tuesday, 10 September, 2019: Nap Time

After my walk this morning, I watched some video on making my own computer. Looks simple, but more expensive than I thought. Next, I took a nap.

I'm pretty sure the weekend trip wore me out more than I thought. I've taken two afternoon naps that both lasted more than 4 hours since getting home. It has really messed up my time appreciation for the week. All day today, I thought it was Monday.

Before my nap, today, Kady told me we were going to Jay and KS's for Movie Night to watch The Changeling, with George C. Scott. When I got up, she wanted to go to Bonefish Grill for dinner. SOLD! I had the steak and crab cake. Perfect.

Monday, 9 September, 2019: A Weekend with Other Women

I've always had great women in my life. My mom was the perfect mom. My grandmothers were fantastic women. Some of my closest friends in school were Lynne, Janice, Shelly, and Courtney. Later in life, I got Sylvia and Sally. In the recent past, I've gathered to my inner circle a few others, like Kpol, Ryan, and Cfn. Then, of course there are the girls in my family, Kady, E, KS, and B....and now Em.

This weekend was the Memorial Service of one of my most important friends from the time before Kady, Debra. I had to go, though I knew it would be immersing myself back into something from which I have turned away.

I think it is true to say that Deb and her husband Boyce can be credited with saving me from myself after the divorce. I'm glad I went. I used the trip to drive with Bess and to visit Cfn. Time with her made the weekend more bearable.

Friday: Charlottesville to Atlanta to Pell City

Death keeps bringing me back to Alabama.

I drove all day yesterday, getting in Bess at a little after 6 am, driving to Atlanta.

I stopped there for dinner at a little Italian place, Baraonda, mostly vacant, just past the Fox Theater. I had Lasagna and it was fantastic. While I waited on traffic to clear, I sat out on a balcony, overlooking the city.

I got back on the road, thinking I had outfoxed the traffic, but, in Atlanta, the traffic is always there. Happily, it was flowing, with only one slow down, but what I hadn't thought about was the setting sun while headed west on I-20. It was blinding.

I got to the Hampton in Pell City after dark and settled in my room, tired after a long day of driving, texted with Kady, prepared for the next day, turned down the air to 64, found the best pillow, and crashed.

Saturday: Debra Milton "Millie" Smith Day

I got up before my 6 am alarm, showered and went for breakfast. I ate light, scrambled eggs, a few potatoes, and a jelly biscuit. I took my coffee back to my room.

Deb's memorial was amazing. Lots of music, photos, a photo power point, a movie, and memorials by family and friends. The crowd was amazing and LARGE. The service was light and heartfelt.

Heather and Buck were amazing. Heather's comments were the most “spot-on” with how I remember Debra.

I stayed in the background most of the time, watching the slide-show, looking at the photos, and kept my shit together until I saw a photo of Debra and me at a church picnic. It was taken during the time after the divorce and I was holding Leah up to a water fountain. The photo dredged up those times and my love for Boyce and Deb.

I lost it. I had to go outside and get my shit together. I love this photo. If you think I'm embarrassed by the shirt, I'm not. However, you should see the cut off jeans I'm wearing. Now, that's embarrassing!

By the time the service began, I was fine, helped by the fact that Bobby-J started it, and I find that fucker hilariously ridiculous. He is the most self-aggrandizing, vainglorious person I have ever met. He loves the sound of his own voice preaching or breaking out in song. This is the guy who, in front of a room full of impressionable teen campers, repeated the internet NASA Lost Day Story as if it were proof that the Bible was the TRUTH. I called him aside afterwards and explained that, "No, all NASA needed to put a man in space was math and good old American Ingenuity."

Today, true to form, this guy, when closing down the service, when he was supposed to be blessing the food, found a way to sing. I have always called his showboating The Bobby-J Show.

What a Wanker! His bull shit was a good solution for my sorrow.

As I was about to sneak out and leave, Jim C came up. Great Man! He was the only guy from the old group who recognized me. Jim was an SF Sergeant Major and I've known him almost as long as I've known Boyce.

Ed and Kathy came in for the service, and they joined us. The three of us had a good warrior reunion in the back right corner surrounded by photos of Debra. I had to get out of there to get my emotions, healthy and not-so, in check. I couldn't find Boyce to say goodbye, which was probably good for both of us.

I missed Buck , but found Heather. My goodbyes were brief and I went to Golden Rule BBQ to be alone, to have my own little memorial service for Deb, and to have some good Alabama BBQ. Then I went back to the Hotel, watched the “greatest” get destroyed by 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu (greatest my ass) in the women's final of the US Open, watched LSU whip Texas, and then watched the Auburn-Tulane game.

Oh, Auburn. When will you figure out the running game? Next weekend, maybe.

Will Hastings, we're all glad you're back and OK from that cheap-shot.

After the Game I crashed, setting my alarm for 4 am. UGH.


Sunday: Cfn Breakfast, Back to C'ville, Jay's for Dinner

I was back on the road by 5 am, headed to Atlanta and breakfast with Cfn at First Watch.

 Oh my goodness. I forget, when I haven't seen her in a while, how gorgeous and smart this young lady is. She looked amazing. We caught up, talked family, religion, science, and so much more. I miss her intellect. I miss her being my "Lost" buddy.

Though I had my camera right there at the table, I didn't take one photo. This one she sent me by text.

My Italian Omelet was delicious but secondary to time with Cfn; I could have stayed all day.

The 4 am start was so worth it. I had the best time, BUT, I was on a time schedule. I had to be back in Charlottesville for Jay's Birthday Dinner by 6 pm, which meant I had to be back on the road by 9 am.

My drive home was uneventful, though there was a lot of traffic, and I made it with 20 minutes to spare.

Everyone was in great spirits, Kady made Cup Cakes, and KS made a delicious pasta dish with a creamy cheese sauce. My boy is Thirty-Seven! Crazy.

I went home after dinner and tried to sleep, but the two Starbucks Double-Shots, two cups of coffee I had on the trip, and the huge glass of wine KS poured me at dinner, plus a need to find the above photo of Debra and me, were working their special magic.

I was still awake when Kim got home. I watched the end of the Patriots-Steelers game with her.

Monday, 2 September, 2019: Prediction-Oklahoma

I said at the end of last year, "Oklahoma will be in the playoffs next year."

And, Then, they got Jalen Hurts. Hell, I'm an Auburn Fan and I love Jalen Hurts. Everyone loves this guy.

What a story this guy has, but I won't go into it here. I just want to say that he was amazing against Houston, a very good team, last night, AS WE ALL EXPECTED HE WOULD BE.

If the powers that be aren't looking at him as the front runner for the Heisman Trophy already, they will soon. AND, if the nation doesn't see Oklahoma as a Nation Champion Contender, then they are sadly mistaken. Watch and See.

They do need to fix that Defense though.

Sunday, 1 September, 2019: Bo Knows some War Eagle

There may be nothing more fun than watching your team come back in the second half, getting their collective shit together, figuring out the other team's tricks, and winning the game with seconds to go.

Well, that was the Auburn vs. Oregon game last night. The ducks came to play. They shut down the Auburn Offense and stopped the storied Auburn Defensive line, running and passing and scoring at will. Auburn was self defeating.

Our true freshman QB made some bad mistakes while being chased all over the backfield, coughing up two interceptions on promising drives. Carlson hit two, then missed his third field goal attempt. The second half was reversed. Though they scored early, we shut them down the rest of the half.

We gave Bo Nix more protection, we ran the ball better (Whitlow was great!), we figured out how to pressure their QB and we were able to keep them from scoring. With seconds to go, we only had to move the ball a few yards to give Carlson another try, but we took a strike with a pass to the goal line and Seth Williams made a great play on the ball, spun, and fell into the end zone.

TD Auburn.

Whew! I am glad that is over, but at least we played a ranked team while others played teams they knew they could beat... well... except for Mississippi State, Tennessee, and Florida State. Sucks to be them. Now I have to plan a trip to Alabama.

Debra's memorial ceremony will be Saturday Morning at the Cooks Springs Camp. I am not looking forward to seeing poor Boyce or listen to the religious people talk about god, but I want to honor Debra's life in my own way.

If Hurricane Dorian doesn't mess up my travel route, I'll stop in Atlanta to have Sushi with Cfn. Going through Atlanta takes me a little out of the way, but lunch with Cfn! Worth it!

Ed and Cathy will be in for the service, so I hope to convince them to eat at Golden Rule BBQ in Pell City, Saturday night, but I may opt for Milo's. I could use some Milo's or Costa's.

I haven't decided how I will come back home. I guess it depends on the weather. Of course, if Cooper comes to Charlottesville while A is TDY, and SS can't come up for next weekend, THAT would cancel my trip as well.

I'm waiting to see. I can't believe it has been eighteen years since I left Türkiye. Happy Birthday, Gülümser.

Friday, 30 August, 2019: Introspection

My plan worked perfectly well. My self examination, fueled by a good rum, was thorough and amazingly well-worded, even spelled correctly. Oh, there were typos for sure, but this morning I was able to read and understand where I was headed on this journey. I just never got where I was going.

I evaluated everything, my education, my service, my time at that school, my part in this marriage, my contributions to this family. I was brutally honest with myself, no filters there. I noted the bad. I remembered the good. I think it was a good assessment.

Conclusions: None!

Then I began talking to people. I told them what I thought of them, which I am apt to do when drinking. The list of people was long and they were not all people I like.

After I read it all, I deleted it. Really, it wasn't worth keeping, and some of the comments should never make the light of day.

"You know, I think a lot about the ten-or-so years I've got left before there's not much left for me to do but sit around and reminisce."~John Dutton, from Yellowstone, watched this morning.

Thursday, 29 August, 2019: Drinking With a Purpose

I'm trying to write a piece about who I really am and it's not coming out of me. Maybe it is because I don't "hurt like hell" as Hemmingway says you "especially have to do . . . before you can write seriously,"

I will apply rum to this process.

While awaiting a more appropriate time (it's just after noon), having warned Kady of this experiment, and telling myself NO TEXTING, I will try to Drink the words on to the page.

I am well known among family and friends for what I have to say when I am "drink."

I hope to "write and write truly," so I have chosen Papa's Pilar.

Disregard anything posted here, today, after THIS!

Tuesday, 27 August, 2019: Kady's Naughty Ancestry

Kady's family is so much fun to research! By that, I mean, they were bad. There are lynch mobs, shootings, murders, prostitution, and NOW we're discovering extramarital affairs and a child born of one of these affairs.

Kim and I had been told that the father of one of her people was not the child's biological father. The story was pretty believable, but now we have the DNA evidence.

There were two children by this marriage. The older sibling is still alive and recently DNA tested at my request.  The younger tested before passing away.

Boom! Way Different heritage! This DNA stuff is super cool.

Now, I'm waiting on Kady's results to see if I can get a clue to that part of her biological tree. What I'm hoping to find are some cousins we don't know about that will point me to a tree or two.

I've been putting this all on Family Search, which is free, but have told Kady that I need a month on Ancestry. I'll begin work there, in September.

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 just type.

Millie Died.

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 will 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 66th 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, we 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.

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.

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, from her initials "KAD." 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.

Deb was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer. Nothing worked, not surgeries, therapy, diet, or prayer, not 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.

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 Sheets 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 sizes 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-Replace: the errant code in html. Replace with nothing, space, or appropriate code. 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 9 am 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, artifacts, tools, glass vials, bronze, gold, and 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 too many times, thinking on those who lived those streets, to enjoy seeing two suspended in their death.

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. There have been afternoon thunderstorms, loud, with heavy rain, and strong winds, but there hasn't been much damage.

Actually, we needed the rain.

This has 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 the 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 Lynne, Jane Ann, Bill, Janice, and especially Shelly, you had to love this movie.

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.

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.

The camera and the walk changed my piss-poor 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 a 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.

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 KS'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 6 am 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, or 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, and 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, Simona Halep.

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, that 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 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 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 they 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 safe space by 1145 am.

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."


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. It is 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 100-F 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 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

A 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 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, some 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. They 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 Really Bad 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. It 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 10 pm 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 11 am 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 3 pm.

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 10 pm 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 Genius!

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 candy 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 Ultra 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 1st of 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.

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.

She 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 choose, or Kady coordinates, one 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 Cafe on 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.


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." I agreed and suggested one my favorite places, Fry's Spring Station, for pizza and catching up. She looked great, beautiful, but, the girl remains a hot mess.

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 mighty 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 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, it 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 raining.

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./p>

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 back 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 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. When we arrived, the weather 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.

Sunday, 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.

Thursday, 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 to be warmer tomorrow.

Cooper and I need a long walk.

Sunday, 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'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.

Sunday, 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 hand. 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.

Monday, 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, at 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, Boutwell Auditorium to pick up E's run packet for the Mercedes Birmingham 1/2 Marathon on Sunday, then Dream Cakes in Homewood for birthday cupcakes, and then to for grave flowers for Emmette, Juanita, Bill, Sylvia, and Mike. I picked up 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 funny 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 breakfast at Mcdonald's, 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, 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, though 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 zigzags 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 3:30 PM 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!

Monday, 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. I

t felt good to be out there. I have 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, picks 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.

I've been playing with the Tellos Drone. It took me some doing to get the 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.


This impressed me.

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.

Saturday, 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 with snow these days. 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! Amazing.

I knew this was coming, but I got a great surprise this afternoon. My Turk friend, Handan Sahin, has her first album Alem, released on 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 Carnavale 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 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.

Wednesday, 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 good food. They have the Mall of America and we had planned to go there but were weathered out. We went to a small community theater, Yellow Tree, and fell in love with the cast and play. That was 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.

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