Peace

The Thanksgiving week was almost perfect.

They never are exactly perfect, you know. There’s always something or someone missing or someplace you would like to also be.

But this one, as i have documented in several places, was damn near perfect.

It is over.

The Christmas season — and i don’t care if the politically correct are offended, this is the Christmas season — is officially on in my Southwest corner.

i’ve hung the sign. One of the photos will likely be with my Democrat column tomorrow, but it won’t be this one:

noel-sunset-2

But tonight, there is a different feeling here. A feeling of peace. Calm. Peace.

Maureen and i spent the day getting organized. We coordinated our calendars to make sure we would not miss any of the events for the next month. We took care of business — Maureen is much more adept at that than i. Maureen prepared dinner from the Thanksgiving dinner. It was perhaps even better than the first time.

When finished, i hand washed the dishes. Our niece, Danielle Guzman, had a post that reminded me of the feeling i have gotten for many years to return to my after meal chore from growing up in a wonderful home.

Then we sat down in our family room. The two indoor cats, as usual, curled up on Maureen’s legs. “Bagger Vance” was on the Golf channel, and we watched, again, because we like the feel-good feeling.

Now Maureen is taking her bath. The rain has passed through and i will play golf tomorrow with Pete Toennies while Maureen will spend time with Nancy.

The night is quiet. The television is off. i sit here thinking about life and how it’s never all good and it’s never all bad and we have the choice to enjoy it or be depressed by it. In today’s world, the latter is easy.

But as i contemplate, i choose enjoyment. The world is full of wonders and to focus on the idiocy of hatred, ignorance, bigotry, drawing lines in the sand, and keeping score for perceived slights is a one-way street to sadness.

So i sit here thinking about all of the wonderful people i have met in almost seventy-three years. i think about all of the things i would like to tell them even though the chance of seeing them again is slight.

There are not many folks who have a wood fire in the fireplace. Mine is ablaze. The picture above the hearth is from the Beara Peninsula, another place where i have found peace.

And in the silence, i have peace.

fireplace

 

 

Going, Going, Gone

It was still dark when i got back home.

First light hadn’t even touched the horizon. The waning crescent moon hung over Mexico, its brilliant white points pointing even more toward the dark of heavens.

She would be boarding as i put the car in the garage.

The ride back was lonely.

i already miss her but i am glad she is gone back to getting on with her life.

Our daughter Sarah was here for five very short wonderful days. She will turn twenty-seven on Wednesday. It is easy to remember her birthday, day, month, year. She was born about 9:35 p.m. the day i retired from the Navy.

Sarah’s maturity, wisdom, caring shows through. She is pursuing her passion. She is growing up. She is still my little girl.

My thanksgivings, all of the ones except when i was deployed to some place, have been about family. There were two in recent years when Maureen and i ate out, not alone of course because it was the two of us, but it was still family. All of the others have been with more family.

Even though i treasure those Thanksgivings back in Lebanon, Red Bank, and Rockwood with my parents, sister, brother, aunts, uncles, and cousins, my favorite two remain when daughter Blythe, Jason, and brand new grandson Sam came out west for the big day. And this one was extra special in spite of the absence of one-half of the jim jewell clan because the three of of us shared something more than just a parent-daughter relationship. We spent the entire five days being friends.

Sarah is back in Austin now. The day is cloudy, even cold enough for me to have a fire in the fireplace tonight. Sitting by the fire a Saturday after Thanksgiving seems about right for an old man who misses a lot of folks, especially this special daughter. But i have memories:

smj-mbj-balboa

A Night (sort of) before T-Day, part one

A Night (sort of) before T-Day, part one
(With apologies to Clement Park Moore for borrowing from his poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas”)

‘Twas the night before T-Day
but actually T-Day morn
when all through the house
and outside and in the garage and sort of all over the place
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse
cause the neighbor’s cats had either eaten them or scared them away and
our two indoor cats wanted to be fed and given lots of attention;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
table-1but they weren’t stockings and were the wife’s dinner table setting
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there
and a whole bunch of family and friends and i was just kidding about St. Nicholas: i suspect that old fat fart would eat too much;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
actually the children were out messing around in Vegas and Disneyland;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
and jackpot winnings and catching the train and heading home;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
except Maureen would never be seen in a ‘kerchief, a nice hat maybe, and the T-man had on t-man-1his green hoodie which he hardly ever uses and actually had the hoodie on his head because the T-man was freezing his butt off this early in the morning
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap,
except my brain is never settled and i (okay, it’s out of the bag: the T-man is me who is a little grumpy because it was even earlier than when i normally arise)
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter. Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
Actually, the clatter was pretty much everywhere as i was getting the turkey in its bucket out of the refrigerator in the garage, starting the fire and getting the smoker ready and soaking the hickory chips and getting the grill and water pan ready and it was dark and the T-man as turkey_preps-1aforementioned was freezing his buns off and grumpy and we don’t have shutters, never have and T-man’s wife eschews sashes on windows; so it was pretty much a bumbling T-man making all of the clatter and cussing like a sailor (oh yes, he once was a sailor, or at least a Navy officer).
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
except we had one very slight dusting of snow one February a long, long time ago, and the super moon has done supered and it was beyond the horizon this morning because it didn’t want to be freezing its buns off like the T-Man.

smoker-1So the rest of this tale may be coming here
if the T-Man ain’t too sleepy, doesn’t eat too much turkey
or drink too much beer.
Right now he’s relaxing, hot mug of coffee in hand
knowing bedlam will soon take over the land
when wife arises and starts cooking the good stuff
to go along with the smoked turkey
and she’ll start coming up with all of the things
the T-man besides tending to the turkey needs to do
which means he won’t get a nap before the guests arrive
so he’ll be real grumpy again.

Smoking a Turkey

This, i think, is my new tradition.

i wrote this recipe (sic) in 1990. i now am the Turkey Smoking Go-To at the Jewell household whenever we have Thanksgiving here with more than two people (If it’s just Maureen and i we find a very nice restaurant usually without a turkey dinner).

i have published this a couple of times in The Democrat and posted it here several times. There is a more serious version with more exact directions, but i forget where it is every year and wing it. i was going to blow off putting it out in the newspaper or on the web this year, when Bill Goodner described how he smoked his turkey, i remembered turkey smoking being a JB Leftwich family Thanksgiving or Christmas tradition for Jim and Jack to smoke a turkey while tending to it with a Prichard whiskey in  hand (it used to be George Dickel, and i still stick to the Tullahoma brand). My brother-in-law Daniel Boggs and my nephew Bill Boase, pride themselves on technically correct smoking.

Well, i ain’t technical. i use an old Weber smoker, not as good as my smaller original like Jimmy Lynch used back when, but my smaller one rusted out about twenty years ago and you just can’t find them anymore. So now i add charcoal and chips throughout the process.

A couple of months ago, we got a new Komodo dragon grill…just kidding: it’s  a knock off of a “Big Green Egg” smoker Char-Griller dubbed the “King Griller Akorn Kamado Kooker” (“kamado” is the term used for a Japanese smoker, which looks like an egg). Therefore, i could become more technical. But i am a sentimentalist, and getting up in the wee hours of the morning to start the coals, top them with the soaked hickory chips (i tried mesquite chips once, but i’m from Tennessee: hickory chips are the only chips), put the turkey on the grill, pour the marinade from the bucket over the turkey and into the drip/water pan, and then tending to the fire and chips randomly and very carefully throughout the day gives me a sense of fulfillment.

i am learning the awesome powers of my komodo dragon grill and have found grilling steaks, pork chops, etc. is great, and i plan to to expand to seafood, fish, and cornish game hens in the near future, but i think i’ll stick to my old smoker for the turkey.

So Bill, i don’t think i can be of much help on electric smokers, but it i thought you might like this recipe. This year, there is no dog. When i put Lena, my last one down, i vowed not to have another dog until i was sure it would outlive me and put me down rather than vice versa. i still want to have a dog again, but not for helping me smoke a turkey.

Dec 10, 1990, 10:36 pm

SAN DIEGO—Holidays, except for the weather, are pretty much the same for me out here in the southwest corner or back in Tennessee. To start, no one will let me smoke the turkey.

When I was growing up in Lebanon, and every time I return there for a holiday, my mother cooks the turkey. When there are only a few of us there, she makes a chicken taste like a turkey. She roasts the turkey, or the chicken, in the oven, and it comes complete with dressing and gravy. When we have a holiday out here, my wife cooks the turkey the same way my mother cooks the turkey. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I volunteer to cook the turkey. Every year, whether in Tennessee or out here in the Southwest corner, whoever is in charge of turkeys says no. They profess to love the turkey the way I fix it, but they say another time would be better. They say they want a traditional turkey.

I picked up turkey cooking while I was spending some considerable time about two-thirds of the way between here in the southwest corner and Tennessee. The Colonel, grandfather of my oldest daughter, lived up in Paris, Texas, and he fed me my first smoked turkey. I loved it. Since then, I have modified his recipe somewhat and do cook one fine smoked turkey. Since I can’t have it out here or in Tennessee, I thought someone with fewer traditionalists in their immediate family might like to have the recipe to try for the holidays.

Smoking a Turkey

INGREDIENTS:

  1. This is fairly important to the success of the whole affair. Pick a good one. The critical part is to make sure it will fit in the smoker
  2. 1 container large enough to hold the turkey and cover it with the magic elixir. I’ve been known to use a plastic bucket, but sometimes the dog gets upset as we normally use it for his water dish. This is okay as long as we stay out of biting reach of the dog for two or three days.
  3. 1 smoker, probably any kind that claims to be a smoker and any number of possible jury rigs would work; however, if I were using a “Weber” or like vessel, I would make sure that there was extra water in the smoker).
  4. 1 bottle of beer. Beer in longnecks is preferable but one should not become too concerned about the type of beer as “Lone Star” is a bit too elegant for this type of cooking. Besides, we wouldn’t want to waste a beer worth drinking on some dumb turkey. If one is desperate and doesn’t mind subjecting oneself to abject humiliation, it is permissible to stoop to using a can of beer.
  5. 1\2 cup of Madeira. Again, I wouldn’t be overly concerned about the quality of the wine, and in truth, any red wine is probably okay. However, I would stay away from “Night Train” wine as it has been known to eat through barbecue grills, smokers, and anything made of material weaker than that used in hulls of nuclear submarines.
  6. Angostura bitters
  7. Worcestershire sauce
  8. Chili powder
  9. Oregano
  10. Sage
  11. Honey
  12. Molasses
  13. Undoubtedly, there are numerous items that I have forgotten to list here, but that’s okay as it really depends on what your individual taste is — I don’t suggest substituting low fat milk for the beer, but most everything else is probably okay — and if it’s really important, I’ll realize I left it out when I get to the narrative of how to use all this stuff and include the forgotten ingredient there.

PREPARATION:

Thaw the turkey. Take all those weird things that they put in those plastic packages inside the turkey and cook them in a skillet without the plastic packages, turning them frequently. Then feed what you just cooked to the dog. It might placate him enough to keep him from biting you for taking away his water bucket. If there are traditionalists in the bunch, give the stuff to them rather than the dog and let them make gravy.

Put the turkey in large container. Pour beer and Madeira over turkey. If you have not allowed about 24 hours for the turkey to thaw or about 8-12 hours for marinating the turkey, call your invited guests and advise them that the celebration will be about two days later than indicated on the original invitation.

Sprinkle other ingredients over the turkey. Be plentiful. It’s almost impossible to get too much.

Crunch the garlic cloves I didn’t mention in the ingredients and add to the container. I normally use about four normal sized cloves for a normal sized turkey. Also add the previously omitted bay leaves, about 6-8 for that same normal sized bird.

Add enough water to cover the turkey although it probably wouldn’t be a disaster if a leg partially stuck out. Then put the container in a safe place, unless of course, you want the dog to be rapturously happy and not bite you until long after his teeth have fallen out.

Allow to sit undisturbed for 6-10 hours (longer is better and ten hours is not necessarily the upper limit but exceeding ten hours may have some impact on when you either eat or get tired of the turkey taking up all that safe space).

Put the turkey on smoker grill above water pan after lighting the charcoal (one or two coals burning well is the best condition for the charcoal) and placing soaked hickory chips, which I also forgot to mention, earlier on the charcoal — again, be plentiful — after soaking the chips for at least 30 minutes. Pour remaining magic elixir over the turkey into the water pan. Add as much water to the water pan as possible without overflowing and putting out the fire below. Cover. Do not touch. Do not look. Do not peek…unless it doesn’t start to smoke in about thirty minutes. Then peek. If it’s smoking, leave alone for at least six hours for a large normal sized turkey. It is almost impossible to overcook if you have added enough water at the outset. You should check and add water or charcoal throughout the process. I have found that mesquite charcoal is the best, as it burns hotter. Regular charcoal will do fine but will require more checking.

The secret to the whole process is to cook extremely slow, as slow as possible and still start the fire.

Serve turkey, preferably without the garlic cloves or bay leaves. Now is the time for “Night Train” wine or the good beer. Serve “Night Train” very cold as indicated on the label.

The turkey’s also good cold.

Shoot the dog.

A Good Day

i volunteered.

It was okay because i don’t get to be with my daughters, grandson, or son-in-law enough, so when the opportunity arises, i like to volunteer to help out with their schedule.

It did not sound like fun. But i had done it before, and this time, i was getting at least an hour and a half with Sarah.

So i got up at 4:30 (not too far off my usual waking time), got stuff ready, and woke Sarah. We drove to Donny’s, her and my all time coffee place, and then headed north in the traffic. Yes, commute traffic starts getting here in the Southwest corner around 5:45 a.m.). It took us just over ninety minutes but was relative painless. Sarah talked, revealing her soul, which i so admire, for most of the drive.

The drive itself is through the beach area of Camp Pendleton. i love driving through there. i look out at the Pacific and remember the amphibious exercises in which i participated years ago. It is always a good feeling to see the Pacific where i once roamed and from where i headed west of west for what now seems like endless deployments.

But my thoughts about the sea were secondary. My daughter, a beautiful woman, a beautiful soul was talking from her heart, and i was listening, amazed at her insight.

It all stopped of course when we parked in the Disneyland Hotel guest parking. In the lobby, we met Kent Medford and his two sons, Dalton and Dylan. Danita would join us for breakfast when she finished dressing.

We walked to Goofy’s Kitchen. It was a nice buffet, kid oriented (what else?) with Disney characters wandering around to amuse or thrill the guests. One of the best parts of the whole trip was when Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Chip and Dale, and Pluto paraded through the patrons to Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, still my all-time favorite Disney song in my all-time favorite Disney movie, “The Song of the South,” which in response to all of the politically correct yahoos who have made it almost non-existent, had more to do with my understanding of equality because of my love of Uncle Remus and his wisdom.

But back to Goofy’s Kitchen, the parade of characters looped around our area while a little girl in a pinafore outfit crawled out at the entry to our area. The parade skipped through with Pluto bringing up the rear. His left hind paw landed squarely on the little girl. She was not hurt, but Pluto was shocked in dismay. Later Pluto came back, got down on all fours and attempted to make amends. The little girl was having none of it. That dumb looking dog, or whatever he was, had whacked her.

Later, Pluto snuck behind Kent who was trying to get some final work done in the midst of Disney/child/breakfast chaos. Pluto rubbed his rubber whiskers against Kent’s ear. The reaction was hysterical.

My time with the Medford’s and Sarah was good for me. The reason we were there was for the boys to enjoy their adventure, along with their parents, with Sarah, their, for lack of a better term, executive baby sitter.

minnie-boys-1-1

We met the tour guide, a modern Snow White lady in the lobby and walked to the California  Adventure gate. I vouched for Sarah and my retired military status for the discount (the other reason i was there). They entered.

And i drove back to the Southwest corner in I-5 traffic.

After a much deserved long nap, i puttered, and planned for the Thanksgiving prep day tomorrow.

We went to Romesco’s and ate tapas, orejas de mar and cazuelitas de gambas,  with tempranillo for dinner. Afterwards, we went to Baskin-Robbins for Maureen’s favorite dollop (she never eats any more than a dollop of any dessert). Unable to resist, i got a pint of fresh made black walnut.

We came home. While listening to Beethoven, i savored a couple of spoonfuls of Black Walnut with my evening glass of merlot while folding clothes Maureen had washed earlier.

i am wrapping up my day writing this, reflecting.

Disneyland is a magic place. All of those at loggerheads with each other harboring hatred and thoughts of violence should be required to spend a day with their children and their adversaries with their children at Disneyland.  A lot of problems would be solved.

i marvel at the cost. The closest attraction i remember growing up was the Wilson County Fair out on Coles Ferry Pike, or the mini-attractions of “Two-Headed Monsters,” et al, along the country roads en route to Florida from Tennessee. My connection to Disney was Annette on the “Mickey Mouse Club.”

But watching the children and their grownups in Disneyland, i must say it is a magic, magic place.

And this has been a good day.

i even enjoyed the ride.

A Night Long Wished For…

Now before i really begin this post, i want everyone to know, i am not and have never considered myself a knowledgeable person concerning classical music.

i like a lot of it, have a whole bunch of records and CDs of it, but i am, at the heart of things, a good ole Tennessee small town boy, and i often wonder how i got so into music of all kinds, like a lot but master of none.

My first recollection of classical music, besides “Fantasia,” which i never really appreciated until i met Maureen, came from Uncle Pipey. James Orr, son of Rockwood’s (East Tennessee) Presbyterian minister, went to Cumberland University in Lebanon, received his engineering degree and the hand of another Cumberland student, Evelyn Prichard, mother’s oldest sister.

The Orr’s eventually ended up in White Oak and then Red Bank on the north side of Chattanooga. So as far back as i can remember, the Jewell’s of Lebanon would travel to Chattanooga  for the weekend about every other month and the Orr’s would return the favor traveling to Lebanon, roughly on the alternate month.

When Uncle Pipey, so named because assembling and fixing pipe organs was his hobby and he was good at it being an engineer and all, Aunt Evelyn, and Nancy and Johnny moved across the street in White Oak to Red Bank, they had a music center in the corner of the living room next to the front door. i was approaching teenhood, and Nancy and Johnny had reached it. So that record player in the corner had a lot of 45-RPM records being played when we were there.

But occasionally, the wire recording machine on top of the record player would be playing classical music and opera. These wire recordings, predecessors to the reel-to-reel tapes i guess, were Uncle Pipey’s. i recall thinking this stuff was in no way as good as rock ‘n roll and being impressed with how erudite Uncle Pipey must be to like that stuff.

Up until my freshman year at Vanderbilt, that was pretty much my exposure to classical music. i listened to and loved rock ‘n roll. i also became a huge fan of the blues, listening to late night blues on WLAC radio long after i was supposed to be asleep. i disdained country music, like most i disdain today. Now i like the old country music, especially bluegrass but find the new country too commercial. As noted, classical music was not a blip on my radar screen.

Then Cy Fraser and i ended up in the same fraternity. Cy, among others, was the guy who taught me how to fit in at Vanderbilt. My white socks disappeared except for athletics. My wardrobe changed from Levis to blue and tan slacks in the warmer months, and gray wool slacks in colder times. White and light blue Gant button down collared shirts with that useless hanger thingy in the back at the top of the pleats were de riguer except when short-sleeve madras button downs were worn when it was warm. They too sported button down collars. Cordovan Weejuns, shined with black shoe polish was damn near a requirement. V-neck sweaters and a London Fog jacket were part of the new me. i was transformed from a hick, at some considerable expense to my parents, who magically became sort of cool and maybe hinted at debonair, although i really don’t think it helped that much.

Cy and i hit it off. That first semester we would go to our and others dorm rooms and play 45-RPM’s with a catch. You tried to be first to name the song, the singer or group, the label, the label’s description, and the year and location of the recording. i was pretty good, but Cy was the recognized champion across the campus. He could be walking to class and co-eds would stop him, hum a few bars, and challenge him to name the song. He always succeeded and added our other elements to his answer.

But Cy’s music knowledge was not limited to the top forty. i later discovered he had an amazing knowledge about almost every genre. Much later, i found out he knew more about Western swing than i did, and that was when i was in the heart of it, line dancing at the Lakeside hall outside of College Station, Texas while my regular job was the senior Navy officer at Texas A&M’s NROTC unit.

Back at Vanderbilt in the spring of that first year of my learning, which had almost nothing to do with academics, Billy, the “Agent” a.k.a. the “Avigator,” Parsons and i went looking for Cy “Flyface” Fraser — i was called “Junior Jock” — in, of all places, the library. We wandered into the music section, and there was Cy with headphones in a cubicle, directing to his heart’s content, and yes, he was listening to Dvořák’s “New World Symphony.” i listened enough to realize i had come across one of my favorite pieces of music…ever.

Later that spring, Cy introduced me to Handel’s “Water Music.” So my LP record collection became even more eclectic. i added the “New World” and “Water Music” to Joe Tex, Jackie Gleason’s “Oooh,” Nina Simone’s “Nina’s Choice,” the first Bob Dylan album (even though i agreed with the bluegrass band The Dillards (their fame was enhanced by being on “The Andy Griffith Show”) who said Dylan sang like a bluetooth hound with his leg caught in barbwire), added to a pretty good collection of 45’s (this was before i became WCOR’s disc jockey and amassed a pretty large collection of 45’s and LP’s).

i have had three LP’s and three CD’s of Antonin Dvořák’s masterpiece. i wore the earlier ones out listening to them when reading, mostly with Faulkner, and writing.

But sometimes now, i will sit down in the rarely used living room club chair next to the fireplace, put on my wireless headphones, and just sit and listen to Dvořák’s Ninth. Unlike Cy, i don’t direct. Just reflect. It always makes me feel good, calm, at peace.

Last night, for the first time in person, i listened again. This time in Copley Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego, Cristian Măcelaru conducting the San Diego Symphony. i was discreetly swaying a little bit somewhere in the third movement, tapping my feet softly, when i realized the orchestra was a bit blurry. i thought it was my contacts, which i wear to stage presentations, working on home tasks, skiing, and golf. But then it dawned on me while i still was simply into the music, there were tears of joy welling up.

Thank you, Cy for giving me that dream, and thank you, Maureen for making a dream come true.

Earl Weideman’s Island

Back in wonderful, magical Watertown, New York in 1970, i gained a close friend named Earl Weideman. He was a teacher in the town where his family were long time residents. i was a sports writer and then sports editor of The Watertown Daily Times.

Somehow, we connected, probably through John Johnson, my Vanderbilt friend who got me my job, and then Earl and i ran around together frequently. He and i met for drinks at a nice bar downtown when i was accosted by a young woman when she found out i had taken part in the pizza rating contest two writers had conducted and written about in the paper. She was distressed that her favorite pizza joint finished last. We had to leave the bar. The story had run six months earlier.

Earl was the guy who celebrated the birth of my daughter Blythe with me. Back then, the dad was not allowed in the delivery room. They rolled Kathie out with Blythe just after she was born at 9:35 p.m. After i spent a brief time, all that was allowed, with them, i met Earl for a celebratory drink, which lasted way too long into the morning.

Shortly before Blythe was born, Earl took Kathie and me by boat out to the island his family owned in the Thousand Islands chain at the confluence of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Earlier in the year, he had offered to drive us out to the island on the ice that formed each winter. i declined and probably would have done it the next winter, but my life had changed course, and i was back in the Navy before the next winter.

This photo was taken in front of the cabin’s fireplace. i am imitating Art Metrano, the deranged magician who frequently performed on “The Tonight Show” humming “Fine and Dandy” while displaying his fingers as if they were jumping from one hand to the other.

weideman-island

 

Earl was a perfect little goofy for being a school teacher. i wanted to remain his friend and stay in contact because he was so much fun and good hearted. But the Navy and life away from Watertown took over. We lost contact even though i thought about him a lot.

So when i was scanning this photo for filing and organizing, i decided to look him up on the internet. Earl died in 2005 after retiring two years earlier from his teaching position at Beaumont (California) High School. i could have been spending time with him easily as Beaumont is about eighty miles east of Los Angeles, roughly 120 miles from my home. His son apparently lives here in San Diego.

He has been gone almost a dozen years. i am suffering from delayed sadness. But boy, did we have fun together in Watertown a long time ago.

i won’t forget him.

A Wish Come True

blythe-wedding-1Twenty years ago today, our families gathered together in the sanctuary of Central Christian Church in Austin. It was a perfect day for a perfect union.

The bride’s walk down the aisle was to Handel’s “Water Music.” i think Blythe chose it independently of it being one of my two favorite pieces of classical music.

The ceremony was beautiful with my brother Joe as the pastor and Blythe and Jason the bride and groom.

Later at  the reception as the father of the bride, i gave a toast predicting their marriage was a union much like Blythe’s grandparents’ marriage. Jimmy and Estelle Jewell became as one and lived that way for seventy-five years. Blythe and Jason, with the Samuel James Jewell Gander as an addition, have been in theirs for twenty years. Thus far, my toast prediction has held true. and i hope they make it together for seventy-five years. i actually think they will.

They are funny together and different. When they argue, it is wonderful to watch them make up. Their love and parenting for Sam is unparalleled makes one grandpa proud and sure Sam will succeed in his life because of their parenting and love.

It is simply wonderful to watch them together. As someone once said in one of the best films of all time: “Louis, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Just oh so much more.

Congratulations you two. i love you.

papa

 

 

A Wise Shipmate

Very early this morning, i discovered my shipmate from the Hawkins, Rob DeWitt got up as early in Maine as i do in the Southwest corner.

He had seen my post with the photos from my Aunt Bettye Kate Hall’s album and remarked, “Simpler times.”

i replied on his Facebook comment, and then decided i wished to share it publicly in case his and my comments on the post were missed. My expanded response:

They were simpler times, Rob DeWitt, but we tend to remember the good things and forget the bad. Still this group of men and women, as i am sure your parents did also, had a much simpler, black and white, more straightforward approach to the world, couched in good principles. There was more disease, less knowledge, and underlying and often outright bigotry, and prejudice, and sometimes, to paraphrase Bob Seger, i wish i didn’t know now what they didn’t know then, but from here it seems they were closer to the right thing than we are today.

It seems to me that generation was truly the “Greatest Generation” as dubbed by Tom Brokaw. But i don’t necessarily apply that term for the war effort. i apply it for i believe their core belief of equality brought about our considering what equality for all really meant. They were a long way from it, but their innate goodness taught their children true right from wrong, leading to the next step. Even those with darker skins taught their children they deserved equality.

Our generation and those following us have drawn lines in the sand, digging in, ready to fight for OUR rights, not theirs. We are divided in every which way and there is no attempt to try and understand, “walk in the customer’s shoes” so to speak, or watch and listen to the underlying problems experienced by the other side. No one is willing to take his foot and brush away those lines in the sand.

Our generation, many of all persuasions saw a need to protest injustice. You, Andrew, and i were serving our country, meeting our obligation, and were consequently removed from that protest, but it was needed. It began an honest effort to rid us of inequality, but somehow, it has led to division, not unity.

Now it seems equality is pretty much described accurately by Mose Allison in his song “Mercy.” “Everybody’s crying justice, just as long as they get theirs first.”

As noted several times, i could not bring myself to vote for any of the four candidates. i did not trust any of them. My non-vote, i hoped in some small way, demonstrated my disappointment in the choices. My wife, daughters, and many others, are fearful of Trump becoming president. i am not. Why? i trust the system, the process.

We have swung back and forth in our politics since Jefferson’s Democratic Republicans and Hamilton’s Federalists sought for control of the system. If Trump holds firm on his ridiculous campaign promises, the system, the process, will take care of him. i suspect that will happen, and i hope if it does, the two parties will recognize the need to cooperate, not posture and continue to draw their stupid lines in the sand.

i don’t like the electoral college. It had its purpose, although that purpose is fuzzy to me. But it is our system and we must, must abide by it. Those who are now protesting are in effect saying they don’t desire to abide by our system. If they don’t, then they should leave or work to make the system better, work together so the process is better, not complain because they didn’t get what they wanted.

Yes, it was simpler times back in 1941. The country was uniting to defeat the threat to our freedom, and uniting was necessary to ensure that freedom. Now we have a bigger threat. No, even though ISIS and extremists from many cultures and religions, including ours are serious threats, our real threat was clearly predicted years ago by Pogo, the main character of Walt Kelly’s brilliant comic strip, when he declared:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

Still, these folks pictured in the Smoky Mountains in 1942 were wonderful, incredible people in simpler times. i like them better than what we have now. But then, i wasn’t there; i’m here. Perhaps my vision is blurred by the beauty of the memories.

But i will continue to try and live like they taught me.

A Preview

i am working on my Tuesday column in The Lebanon Democrat, and will add more comments on my trip when the column is published. But here is evidence of a special moment. Pete Toennies and Jim and Sharon Hileman joined me for a barbecue at Deborah and Frank Kerrigan‘s wonderful home in La Quinta.

Jim, Pete, and Marty Linville are the three good golfers in our foursome for the San Diego Telephone Company Golf Association. We rendezvous in the desert in each year for the “Year Ender,” a two-day tournament of fun and games. Frank and Deborah kindly included us in their dinner with friends. Marty and Linda Linville were driving from San Diego and not being sure they would make it in time, i failed to ask them to join us.

tuskerThere were some legends created at the dinner, which is pretty close to invariable when this foursome goes to the desert. But there was a very special moment for me.  After the great meal and lots of talk, Frank goes to the kitchen and comes back with two beers.

They were “Tusker” beers. Frank and i drank a number of Tusker beers together in Mombassa, Kenya in early 1984. It brought back special memories for me. As noted here earlier, Frank and i had a symbiotic relationship during those eight months of deployment to the Indian Ocean aboard the U.S.S. Yosemite (AD 19). That Frank remembered and actually found two Tusker beers in the desert was pretty remarkable.

Seems that symbiotic thing is still going on.