Category Archives: Family

Home Again

By lex, on April 7th, 2009

We’re back, we’re safe, we’re smoked.

Woke up yesterday, got breakfast at a nice cafe, visited the aquarium. Which you really orta do, if you get ’round Monterey. Tell ‘em you’re retired Navy and you get a $10 discount on the admission ticket.

It reads, “Disabled.”

A short flight to Oakland from Monterey. Up the coast and over the top of San Francisco International. Like it didn’t matter. On the way across the bay a 747 carrying God knows how many paying passengers was held down at 3000 feet until they passed us by. Didn’t seem fair. But it did seem right.

We were there first.

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California Travelogue – Day 1

By lex, on April 6th, 2009

An eager drive down to Montgomery, filled with no small amount of trepidation. Have I planned properly? What don’t I know that I ought? Will she get frightened? Sick?

All these doubts I kept to myself – we were going, and it’s no use scaring the pax.

Herself saw the airplane and must have blanched a bit, at least on the inside if such a thing is possible. If you’ve never flown in anything smaller than an Embraer, the Cessna Skyhawk is an unprepossessing vehicle even when new, but a 1978 172N will also have a “patina of use” to go with its diminutive stature. People have been flying them about the country since shortly after the Wright brothers got some air at Kitty Hawk, though, and it did have dual comm/nav and distance measuring equipment.

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Airport Saturday

By lex, on January 17th, 2009

So, got the holler from the weekend employer that there was a cancellation for the 1300 go, ergo an empty seat. Would Son Number One like a hack at it?

He would.

Turned the corner into the airport parking lot today and saw something bizarre on final. Couldn’t make out if it was a helicopter or a fixed wing single for a moment – I was on the motorcycle, so my attention was divided. Turned out to be a Light Sport Aircraft (LSA) known as a “Sky Boy.” Looked like a barcalounger with fabric wings and a lawnmower engine driving a pusher prop.

Took a few quick pics around the ramp. There was the SNJ ready to go, with the big Pratt & Whitney ready to bark out its song. I was on the ramp anyway, so this lovely example of a Ryan Navion Myers 200D had to make the cut. As did this slick Mooney and the Cirrus SR-22 right alongside.

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Thanksgiving 2007

By lex, on November 23rd, 2007

Last year I told my secret about I how I get the family to smile so broadly just before a picture is taken: “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.”

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It turns out there’s an easier way –

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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:

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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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