Category Archives: Family

Promises, promises

By lex, on August 26th, 2007

Well, the Kat, you may say, is already a full week returned from the camp that so many of you graciously sponsored at no trivial expense: Where is the story, eh? With pictures?

She’ll come around to telling the tale in her own good time I think, but suffice it to say that she did indeed have a wonderful time, earned her driver’s license (!) and was advanced to “Junior Buckaroo,” which – as most of you will have concluded, being the more perceptive (and tasteful) sort – is but a little way removed from the desired, full-on Buckaroo status. It somewhat to do with a harsh test and over-loose reins, I gather. I will admit to a certain degree of relief upon hearing this news, in that full-on Buckaroo status enables a child – perhaps even one’s own – to move up from mere Western-style equitation where it’s points on for precision and smile while you’re at it – to “speed work,” otherwise known as barrel racing.

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Family portraits

By lex, on November 24th, 2006

We had a grand meal yesterday, and gave our thanks indeed. Not all of us were there at the beginning, for the Biscuit had been offered the chance to see the Rolling Stones (live, daddy!) in Los Angeles on Wednesday night and although Thanksgiving above all means family, it was the Stones for heaven’s sakes, and who knows how many more chances she will get? And anyway she made it home in time to munch upon the non-trivial supply of leftovers in the company of those who loved her, which you take it where you can get it with a daughter who’s fifteen and who knows what might happen next.


It’s a moment frozen in time, and if there’s one sure thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that the only way to make everyone really smile for a picture is to say something absurd or entirely out of character and then give them three seconds to realize why you did so. If you only give them one or two seconds, instead of smiles you see shocked faces, and if you give them more than four the smiles are already fading, which makes for a rather melancholy portrait. A happy picture then – a snapshot – the shutter opens, closes and the players are caught for a moment in time before they move on, clear the scene, continue to change and grow or fade in small but irreversible ways. These will be the same people for the rest of their lives, but they will never be entirely the same.


This is who we were in 1982, and it was the very last time that we would all be together – a fact that none of us assembled there could know but which was true nevertheless.



The man to the right left us less than a month later, while his broken-hearted bride tarried another four months or so before going on to join him. Hard times for a while, but they brought the rest of us close for the next 23 years or so until the pretty young thing at the bottom there, the one playing the fool for the camera – she was always playing the fool for a camera – took her own leave of us. And now of these seven that were, there are but four that remain, and time has had its way with the rest of us as well.

Life has a way of breaking out, and carrying on. Not long after the first bit of sadness relayed above had started (but well before it had come to its conclusion) there would be more happiness in store, and a way of fighting back against the dying of the light.


And then there were two, two who would not go down without a fight, and some ten years later, by the end of Thanksgiving weekend in 1992 at Trumbo Point Housing aboard NAS Key West, Florida, we sallied forth in our very best seasonal rigs (and a four-day growth of stubble for your humble scribe) in search of the moveable feast that was the officer’s mess of the 45th Fleet Adversary Squadron.



Two had become four. The gentleman on the left there, the one pugnaciously carrying his McDonald’s Happy Meal has now grown a fair bit taller, while the young lady staring with such fixed and terrible intensity at the other gentleman’s upheld hand (and the milk bottle contained therein) has but recently returned from a Rolling Stones concert in Los Angeles, California.

Hairstyles might have changed over the years, but the fundamentals did not – the deep magic continued and soon there were five:


Which tiny wonder now leaps thousand pound equines over three foot high cross-rails, and if you were to suggest that the many gray – let us be generous and call them silver – hairs which adhere to the skull of your correspondent are due in no small measure to pondering the potential consequences of that bit of knowledge, then who would I be to disagree with you?

But now the process of direct familial addition is complete, and any further gains must come through mergers and acquisitions, but while I’ve been around long enough to know that change is the one true constant, growth is not.

Every family portrait is a snapshot in time, an attempt to seize a moment of perfection and hold on to it. But time cannot be restrained, it runs on, runs on and eventually, for each of us runs out. Which seems a melancholy way to end this post, but it’s worthwhile knowing and sharing because we can never be entirely grateful for that which we take for granted.

And for my own part, I have so very much to be thankful for. Just look again at that top picture.

Happiness to you as well, gentle reader and hold on to it as best you might.


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Now is the autumn of our discontent

By lex, on October 6th, 2006

Well, and I very much appreciate all those who offered their thoughts. They pushed and pulled in many different directions, and apart from those who counselled immediate retirement – sorry, that’s not me – I have shared in all of them, all in a moment. Funny how things can swirl so quickly through your mind, between the moment when you hear unlooked for news, and the moment after, when you are asked what you think of it.

Is there a moment of wounded pride, wherein you ask: What? How can I be offered up? How can I be spared? As busy as I am, and as much as I contribute?

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Somebody else’s sea story

By lex, on June 26th, 2006

So anyways, when SNO came back from Everett yesterday, one of the questions I asked him was what his running mate was like – a “running mate” is the enlisted Sailor who’s primarily responsible for making sure that his mid doesn’t hurl himself to his death going down the scuttle, knows where to muster, sleep and eat, etc. I still remember my running mate from youngster cruise in 1979 – STG2 Caz Rampey was his name. He still owes me money.

“Oh, he was a good guy,” replied SNO, adding, “kind of a joker, though.”

“Really, how so?”

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By lex, on October 18th, 2005

Don’t much like traveling, truth to tell. Strange in a pilot, I know, but it perhaps explains how I resisted the siren call of easy work and high wages that came with an airline job. Be that as it may, duty called and I got into Norfolk late Sunday, just as the sun was going down. It was good to debark, the flight from coast to coast being a long one, and the head flight attendant aboard my Southwest Airlines flight suffering from an acute excess of personality. This excess manifested itself by her regrettable tendency to spontaneously break out in song on the announcing system, to talk in a rather too excited tone and volume about pedestrian things. Did we know about seat belts, and how they worked? We did. My already advanced tendency towards curmudgeonliness was in no manner mitigated by the fact that no few of my fellow travelers applauded at each of these set pieces. Not sure what they give those Southwest folks for “dietary supplements” in order to get that unique attitude, but I admit to sometimes wondering, if as a result of ingesting these (probably theoretical) performance enhancers, whether they could pass any of the Navy’s more rigorous drug screening tests.

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Domestic Irony

By lex, Mon – July 4, 2005

It was all for the asking, a couple of nights ago. A tangled knot of the great unwashed showed up at our doorstep, full of bluff boisterousness and juvenile humor. That’s right, four teenaged boys. None of whom, it might usefully be pointed out, were related to your humble scribe. We watched a DVD together! And, there was an upside:

As we hunkered in one room, we were joined not just by the lumpen teenaged masses, but by the Biscuit herself, making a charity appearance in the family room. With her actual family. For an extended period of time.

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Friday Musings August 20 2004

By lex, Fri – August 20, 2004


Another week down – ordinarily that would be worth a “woo-hoo!” if not a “yabba-dabba-do.”

But now each passing week brings me and my hardy crew closer to a very busy fall schedule. Oh, it isn’t like we’re going to be strapping on body armor and shouldering rifles in the blazing summer heat – but we will be gone a lot. And, we’ve just received a heroic injection of uncertainty and confusion, just when my ops planners had finished placing the last card upon the precarious house we were building of them.

Plan early, plan twice. Needs of the service.

Good news! SNO got to come home for the weekend, after his first week away. He had a great time, telling me that he’d never packed so much into such a short period of time. Sounds like he did a great job all the way around, and he was very proud of his accomplishments. The butterflies are gone now – and he’s got his own sea stories to tell.

I sat back gratefully, and let him spill it all out – it came out in a tumble, each story reminding him of the next, which in turn reminded him of another. My temptation was to add to the narrative, to compare stories, but I resisted – this is his own time to speak, and mine to listen.

And now there are two of us in the service – I hardly know what to think.

Could eighteen years have passed so fast?



Ah, look at him now…


Taller than I am, fitter than I was and a whole lot better looking than I ever hoped to be. Evolution, I suppose.

You’re maybe wondering about the mustache? That started to turn gray too.

There was a picnic for the parents who could come by, the Biscuit came with her friend – the Biscuit received far more attention from the assembled midshipmen and Marines than a father would have thought entirely appropriate. She didn’t seem to mind the attention.




Supercharged from her experience, she decided that the only thing for it was to go to the mall.

Dunno about you, but I’m really looking forward to the time that the stores start selling jeans that go all the way up to the wearer’s t-shirt again.


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