Monthly Archives: March 2016

A Pocket of Resistance: Officially Old and Beautiful

It is quiet now. Maureen, now well into sixty-five is trying to stay awake in her usual place: stretched out on our den love seat with the two cats languishing, one asleep on her legs and the other  next to her side.

Her day has been mostly quiet except for her yoga and numerous phone calls from well wishers.

We capped the day in our preferred way, dining at The Rose in South Park. We shared their special salad and the margherita flatbread. Maureen had a glass of Amalya Malbec and i had two glasses of the Antano tempranillo, concluding with Maureen’s special dessert and my cup of coffee. The Rose is a small place with a relaxed, comfortable atmosphere, much like what we hope our future will be.

Even though we realize it is here, neither of us feel old. She remains beautiful, inside and out. i remain…well, a bit goofy. Life is good, even with all of its troubles.

2016-03-28 17.31.59

A Pocket of Resistance: Officers’ Wives

This is in response to a post from my very good friend, Lisa Engle Lill. She is married to Master Sergeant Markus Lill, whom i also consider a good friend. They are stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina. Her post recalled a story i heard years ago:

In 1973, i learned from the wife of a neighbor in Fort Adams housing about an admiral’s visit to Guam. The neighbor was attending Naval War College while i was on the USS Luce (DLG 7) homeported in Newport and then in Destroyer School for the department head course. Fort Adams housing was for Naval officers and enlisted personnel.

At a neighborhood party, the neighbor related the story about when her husband was stationed in Guam and the Commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, a four-star admiral, had visited the island.

He asked to meet with all of the officers’ wives. The meeting was arranged, and the wives entered the large conference room at the officer’s club. They were instructed to sit from front to back by rank. My neighbor and several other wives of mid-grade officers, lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, were confused, and not knowing where to sit, stood in the back of the room while the wives of captains, commanders, and others jostled to get the seats according to their husband’s rank.

As this seat controversy rolled on, the admiral came to the podium. He said, “I want to applaud all of you ladies who remain in the back standing up. You are correct. You don’t have rank.” Now, everybody please sit down like civilized people so we can discuss some important matters for dependents.”

i sure wish she had a video of the faces of the wives who had jockeyed for position.

A Pocket of Resistance: dancing


before junior high (now an archaic term),
i envied the high school boys
with pompadours and ducktails,
swinging their hips,
lithely, rhythmically moving across the floor
with all the girls i loved
i stodgily stomped the steps of bop,
holding one hand with my partner

then Mrs. Brown, according to Mother,
recruiting for her dance class
after Mother told her we couldn’t afford it,
gave me a free pass, telling Mother
if i went to the classes, the other boys would come along;
all of the girls had signed up,
but no boys yet;
so once a week on Saturday morning,
we would repair to the second floor
of the vacant building on the prep school campus fringe;
Mrs. Brown would put a record on the Victrola
for us to learn the foxtrot, waltz, cha-cha, mambo, lindy hop, samba, bossa nova,
but not tango; no, not tango.
then somebody, i think it was Mrs. Brown,
got us eighth graders invited to
“The Five O’Clock Hop,”
on the big television channel in Nashville
trying to emulate American Bandstand:
i felt like a big-time boy
in my white sport coat but no pink carnation,
with as much of a duck-tail as i was allowed;
so i became a tolerable, passable dancer, i thought,
learning the bop, strut, twist, monkey, jerk, mashed potato,
shaking my money-maker
when most of it was to get to the slow dance
to hold a girl close

i felt mechanical, structured,
having the idea, feeling the rhythm,
just not nailing it;
then i saw my cousins, brother and sister,
dance together at a high school hop in a land far away,
with grace, and rhythm, all the things a dance should be;
then i went to college, finding out
i was one hell of a dancer with a little booze poured in;
moving on, i learned western swing: the two-step, cotton eyed joe.

finally, there was this woman who danced with me
drawing raves from friends,
we were older then:
i didn’t like to sweat so much anymore,
which i did:
we sort of stopped.

now, i watch my grandson do moves at eight,
which i never could do,
i laugh with joy,
my dancing done.

yet, one afternoon when my wife was at a movie,
i was working on honey-do’s in the garage
with my old phonograph playing a lp of Major Lance;
inexplicably, i began dancing
next to the workbench, a screwdriver in my hand,
hoping to god,
no one discovered me
until “monkey time” played out.



A Pocket of Resistance: Another choice on the ballot

After my last post last night, it occurred to me, we who are not pleased with having to choose between any of the remaining candidates of both parties, there should be another vote choice in November’s presidential ballot.

There should be an option for rejecting all of the candidates. If the plurality of votes are in this block, then the political machines would have to start over and select someone else.

That way, my vote, and i suppose a number of others, would count.

Because right now, i cannot vote for any of the six still in the running.

A Pocket of Resistance: Think about it

My friend, Norm O’Neal, a shipmate on my first ship, the USS Hawkins (DD-873) sent the below in an email tonight, which i read after we got home from a birthday dinner for Ben Regeis.

Ben, the father of Nancy Toennies, turned 96 Friday. He is a remarkable man from Lithuania, who was a quarterback for UCLA, played pro football, and has remarkable tales to tell from Worcester, Massachusetts to the South to Southern California. He is in good health.

When i read Norm’s email, i am afraid i kept thinking, “Isn’t it sad that the presidential candidates and the ranting folks who back ALL of them can’t act in the same manner as the folks in these photos. i do not have the confidence in any of the candidates on either side with their rhetoric to gain votes rather than to honestly tell us what they believe to have clue as to what the goodness shown in this collection really means.

i am afraid dear friends, both Republican and Democrat, that i will not vote in the presidential election. The candidates are that bad.

i just wish the ballot had a choice for protesting against the choices. i suspect the protest vote would carry the day.

But for now, thanks once again, Norm. This, even with a few repeats is what the world needs now.


A Pocket of Resistance: Litigious Chaos

In view of our litigious ways, i have decided we need to sue all of the mothers of the world.

After all, they are the ones who give birth to children. And eventually, all of the children die. Therefore, the mothers are the ones who cause us death: totally responsible for our dying.

Of course, another class action should follow. Men do have a hand in this. Next suit, please.

A Pocket of Resistance: …Jiggety Jig

This was almost finished last night, but my interior clock is about as screwed up as it could get. i knew this writing would be close to gibberish if i posted last night. Re-reading this morning, i was close to correct. i am, as Mother Goose would honk, “home again, home again, jiggety jig.”

Sister, aka Martha Duff: She is doing well.

Critical point is Tuesday when she and Todd go to see her surgeon. If all goes well, the nasty vacuum pump will be removed, and she will have more freedom. She is gaining strength; her wounds are healing; and she is getting better on a continuing basis. Perhaps the most reassuring aspect is that she is absolutely, completely aware of where she is and what she needs to do to get to the next phase. Knowing her, i rest easy knowing she will will it to happen. After all, she is kin to her mother and father.

Me? Well, it’s been one hell of a day. Martha and i watched a replay of the UK-Vandy game together after i got home from a UTC Mocs basketball win, hosted by Todd and in company with Bill Trumpeter and Pat Taintor. Martha enjoyed watching with me while she knew the outcome and i didn’t. This is even more remarkable because she is not a big Vandy fan.

Coasterra's view of San Diego: first stop after my flight home.
Coasterra’s view of San Diego: first stop after my flight home.

i hit the rack around 10:30. Arose at 3:00 to catch a shuttle to Nashville. After almost three hours in the airport, caught a five-hour flight to San Diego. The rest is a blur. Oh yes, elapse time from start to journey finish: twelve hours. As i partook of  wine and ceviche on the patio looking over San Diego Bay at Coasterra on Harbor Island, i looked upon my love sitting next to me. Maureen is my soul, my soul mate, and these past two weeks gave me extra understanding of exactly how wonderful and beautiful she is. The return was sort of perfect. There was Maureen; there was the city, which is now my home away from my old home; there was Maureen; and if you look at 2016-02-28 11.57.13 HDRthe photo of Maureen, you can see the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) moored at North Island in the background. Pretty damn good homecoming.

i have many things to do. There is a backlog, and there is this golf thing, like a round with my curmudgeons at Coronado tomorrow.

All of it will seem easy, even joyous, as i think about how my sister is on her road to recovery.

Thursday night, i awoke in the middle of the night, as old men do, to go to the bathroom. The guest bedroom where i stayed is at the head of the stairway to the second floor. Leaving the room, i looked down the stairs into the piano room where we had set up the hospital bed, Martha’s sleep place until she can climb the stairs. Sometime in the middle 1950’s, Mother had a portrait photograph taken of Martha in a yellow chiffon gown. If i remember correctly, she wore the gown for her first piano recital. It is a wonderful portrait and Martha is  perfectly beautiful. When i looked down at the hospital bed with Martha’s head resting on a pillow, i saw that beautiful little girl again.

Somehow, i knew things were going to be okay, and it really was time for me to go home.