Monthly Archives: May 2017

Do You Know

i am now beginning to post poems i posted before the great crash and were lost or i never put them out there. i hope you enjoy them as most are different from what has been on this site…i think. i wrote this one in 1962 after being dumped by someone. i was a romantic then and must confess i haven’t changed all that much.

Do You Know

Do you know
the whole world is dark,
but there is light in the sky?
something inside
indescribable
brings peace but no calm;

Can’t you feel
the world around?
it’s appalling
to know you are alone;

Is there anyone
who feels the same you feel?
all in the world
must feel something similar.

See the red barn;
the barn is red;
the sun sparkles off the tin roof
painted black with
white letters broadcasting
“See Rock City;”

let us go to Rock City and live in the world of wonderment.

 

Some Thoughts as Memorial Day Winds Down

It is late.

This country is pretty much put to bed; its celebration weekend is over. The revelers, aka drunks, like the ones laughing, talking too loud, chugging them down at the nineteenth hole this afternoon, have worn down, gone to bed worthless after celebrating in a sad, sad way for folks who died for them.

The patriotic made their speeches, placed the flowers and inappropriate mini-flags by the gravestones of the fallen warriors, who may or may not have given their lives for our country, but just died after serving, but they died and served nevertheless; so i guess it’s okay.

i sit in the dark thinking about friends i know who died for us.

i think about how it happened and how we get all discombobulated with the hype
surrounding what should be quiet reflection and thanks to those who bought the farm, a term i don’t think many who were not there then now understand what it meant  when the warriors created such a term.

i am not a hero; i served just shy of a quarter of a century pretty much driving ships.
i remember ’69 at the Red Mule in Norfolk with Doc, the hippie’s contribution to Navy officers when he said, “Gonna volunteer to go to ‘Nam.”

And i said stunned, “What the hell are you talking about, Doc?

“You are a hippie, a peacenik, against the war.”

And Doc said, “Well, i’ve been thinking about it, and our parents had World War II. It was their war, and whether we like it or not, this one is our war, and i want to be a part of our war.”

“Makes sense to me,” i replied, which, of course, made no sense whatever, but the next day i called my detailer to tell him i wanted to go to war, to Vietnam, and just to prove what an idiot i was, i told him “i want to be a “GLO.”

“GLO” is the Navy acronym for “Gunline Liaison Officer” who, with no sense at all, goes forward of the forward lines, spots enemy targets, and calls in the gunfire or attack aircraft.

My detailer is excited. You see they didn’t get a hell of a lot of guys volunteering to get their ass shot off. And then he says,” “You’ll have to extend your active duty for two months.”

i say “What the hell?”

And he explains there is two months of training to be a GLO, and that would give me only ten months in country, and they (that magic unknown “they”) require you to be in country for a year, so you would have to extend your active duty obligation for two months to get that year in.”

And i say, “Bullshit. You want me to extend for two months to get my ass shot off? i don’t think so.

“What else is there?”

And i go on to what else there was, which was riding a ship, watching over the Koreans we carried to Vietnam and back.

That was a long time ago. Yesterday, i thought about it. After all, yesterday was Memorial Day, when old sailors think about things like that, and had i gone, there’s a damn good chance we would have been honoring my dead ass had not that two-month thing stuck in my craw.

So you see, those folks we honored yesterday, who gave it their all, were just like us. Some were super patriotic and felt it their duty to put it on the line. Some were born to take life to the bone edge, risking it all, not for glory necessarily, but certainly inclined to get the adrenaline rush. And back then, some went because it was before they rolled numbers, and if you weren’t in college or a reverend or banged up in some way, chances are you were going and you went.

And some died.

That’s war, no matter what we call it. Some die. Sadly with the evil in this world, some have to die. For us.

So we take a moment and honor them for dying for us. Or at least, i hope most of us took that moment away from all the frills of a holiday. i hope most of us put our political bullshit aside, and had a quiet moment of respect for those who gave us their all, regardless of how they got to their end.

And perhaps, just perhaps, it wasn’t their end, because they died for us so they live with us.

i hope.

The Bonita Golf Club’s US Flag (we Navy folks call it an ensign) at half mast in honor of the fallen, Memorial Day, May 28, 2017.

USS Yosemite: SINKEX

Nikki McCullough, a close friend, recently responded to a video of a ship in rough seas i had shared on Facebook, asking if i knew the aircraft carrier “Orosco,” which was sunk off of Florida to be an artificial reef for divers. i’m pretty sure the ship was the USS Oriskany (CV 34). Oriskany had a great reputation and was a major contributor in the Vietnam War. In 2004. she was sunk in 24 fathoms (144 feet).

Oriskany was in service during the early part of my Navy career, but i never sailed with her. She had a good reputation.

i prefer the way my last ship was sunk. The USS Yosemite (AD 19) after 50 years (1944-1994) of active service was sunk as a target in 2003 somewhere off of Cape Hatteras in more than 2300 fathoms, more than 14,000 feet, or over 2 1/2 miles of water. She was noble through until the end.

i began to provide Nikki with the link to my post i wrote about the Yosemite’s sinking when i realized that post had been obliterated by the great provider crash a couple of years ago.

Below is a reprint of that post.

One thought on this Memorial Day to honor those who sacrificed their lives for our country: It is hard for a seafaring man to explain the human qualities of a ship to anyone else. But for a true mariner, a ship has a soul. Every ship on which i served (and i served on eleven of them) had her own personality, her own quirks. They were all lady warriors. Even today over thirty years after i debarked from my last one, they remain in my mind as something special, something human.

Although Yosemite was not a warship, she was a noble lady, a repair ship we called a “destroyer tender.” And she served nobly. And she went down to the deep, all 14,000 tons of her, as she should have, in service to her country. When i walk up to the top of my hill later this morning and look down to the southern end of San Diego bay, i will study the ships of the US Pacific Fleet. I will think of friends who made the ultimate sacrifice to our country. I will also think of my noble lady warriors, for they, too, gave to our country.

God bless our fallen warriors.

 

USS Yosemite (AD 19): Good Ship Gone (2003)

 The news came, as expected, from the Commanding Officer, a man who has Navy blue for blood in his veins. I did not call him “CO” or the aviator term “skipper” – he would have chopped off my head with that insult. I called him “Captain.” Without fail. I now call him Frank and a friend.

The USS Yosemite (AD 19), destroyer tender par excellence is gone.

The Navy radio message, the means of communicating throughout my Navy career, was the bearer of the news, forwarded by the Commanding Officer in the new mode of communication: e-mail.

The message subject was “SINKEX,” as in gone. That means she was sunk as a target in a Naval exercise. Since the message came from a destroyer squadron commander, I hope it was a surface ship that shot her down.

And I mean down. Two thousand, three hundred, and forty fathoms. That’s about 14,040 feet. Deep.

It is right that she went down that way, and hopefully it was shells from a gun mount, not a missile, but I suspect the latter sang the final hymn, read the final prayer for the good ship Yosemite.

Sailors use the feminine gender to describe ships. There is probably some politically correct group out there trying to neuter the tradition. That it is sad because the Yosemite and the other ships I served on were true ladies of the sea, elegant, practical, and fearsome in their different ways. I loved all of those that carried me as part of their wardrooms.

The Yosemite was special. I confess I had to learn to love her. I went to her to serve as executive officer in 1983 for the sole purpose of attaining the necessary qualifications to screen for command at sea. I did not like tenders: they did not go to sea enough. They did not land amphibious troops and equipment; they did not fire guns and missiles; they did not hunt submarines. They did not scream around at twenty-seven knots with the spume of a rooster-tail off the stern and the wake as wide as a four-lane highway extending to the horizon. They did not belch landing craft out of the stern of a well deck in rolling seas.

But Yosemite had been there when I first met the Navy in 1963. She was the flagship of Cruiser Destroyer Force, Atlantic Fleet, tied up at Pier One in Newport, Rhode Island. I was a midshipman on my way out of NROTC because I didn’t have good study habits nor good sense at nineteen. She seemed massive and imperturbable as I walked passed on my way to my destroyer and an eight-week cruise.

She was in Newport when I came back from deployment on my first ship after being commissioned from OCS in 1968. Her deserved reputation was such that we would figure out ways to get our repair work to her, rather than to take it to our “parent” tender.

And she was my last ship, the penultimate tour for me and the penultimate step toward my never achieved goal of command.

She could wheeze out fourteen knots with her four hundred pound boilers, but we steamed at ten knots most of the time. The fact sheet lists her top speed as nineteen knots but that was several tons and numerous years before I became her “XO.”

She steamed like a champion for my tour. We deployed for seven and a half months just a month after I reported aboard. She was the first ship with women as part of the crew who spent extended periods out of port (Most before had transited from port to port and provided repair and maintenance services pier side or moored). She provided repair availabilities for destroyers and cruisers while anchored off Masirah, Oman, and she accomplished in four days what normally took two weeks back in the states. She did that for fifty-five days, took a break and then did it again for forty-five days. She had a crew of 900, including 106 women, and a wardroom of 44, six of whom were female, and gave me a completely different perspective of women at sea: the Captain said it best when he announced, “We don’t have women on this ship. We don’t have men on this ship. We have sailors on this ship, and we are going to operate that way.”

She was given a letter of commendation for being a member of the Indian Ocean Battle Group, an unheard of honor for a repair ship.

She steamed as a member of the orange force in a Caribbean exercise, something tenders do not normally do.

She was in the middle of the eye of a developing hurricane, eventually escaping to the northeast before the winds and seas reached full hurricane strength.

She was proclaimed the best repair organization in the Atlantic Fleet.

Officers and crew on port bridge wing of Yosemite off of Masirah, Oman, 1983. Captain Frank Boyle, seated, consults with the goofy executive officer.

Her crew was an amalgamation of old sailors, repair personnel who had seldom spent any time at sea, and young wide-eyed men and women, learning how to be sailors. The first lieutenant was the best boatswainmate I knew in twenty years, even though he had outgrown the title. The doc was so new he didn’t know how to salute or how to dress in Navy uniforms. He has become the godfather of my daughter and one of my closest friends. And there was this special woman, the operations officer, a lieutenant, who was one of the best officers with whom I served. And there were many others who had an impact on my life.

Yosemite was commissioned in 1944, the year I was born. She was decommissioned in 1994. Fifty years, a half century of service.

It is fitting that she went down the way she did. She spent her life supporting the fleet. She was sunk supporting the fleet, providing one last service.

And she and Davy Jones will sleep well together.

A Little Too Much Hyperbole?

i am a Mazda fan.

i saw one of the first RX-7’s when a NROTC cadet graduated from Texas A&M in 1978. It was yellow. i thought it was a great looking sports car, although i didn’t like the color.

In 1982, i bought a used 1979 Rx7 after Blythe agreed it was a good choice. It was rust orange with a faux leather interior and plaid insets in the seat (Maureen guffawed the first time she saw them). It was a four-speed standard, and probably the quickest car i have ever owned. Several times, i found myself doing 95 in the third before realizing it. I drove it across the country several times and sold it to Roger Newman for his son in 1983.

It remains my favorite car of all time.

But it didn’t have air-conditioning. Just before Maureen and i married, we traded it in for a brand new 1983 Rx7, a brown one. This one had five forward gears. i loved it as well, but it soon became Maureen’s primary car. Her Honda Civic hatchback did not have air conditioning. So the old boy got the car with no AC in Jacksonville and back in San Diego when we moved back to Dictionary Hill.

In 1989, with Sarah on the way, we gave up my Rx7 for a mini-van. i wanted the Mazda MPV but settled for a Nissan Axxess. The MPV was extremely popular and the price difference was significant. Blythe aptly named it “the family truckster.”

Shortly afterwards, one of our friends, Nikki McCullough had a significant life change and went back to school. She and Maureen swapped cars. Nikki took Maureen’s Mazda 626 and Maureen took Nikki’s 1986 Rx7. This one was more of a luxury sports car. But it was a good car.

i’ll  never understand why Mazda gave up on that rotary engine.

i now have a 2012 Mazda 3 Hatchback. i sold my Dodge Dakota when i began working for Pacific Tugboat Service. Weekly trips to Long Beach made no sense if they were going to be in a pickup in Los Angeles traffic and 15-17 mpg compared to the Mazda 3’s 38 mpg only made sense.

We love it. It can park anywhere. It can turn on a dime. It is quick, not as quick as that first Rx7, but quick. Maureen takes it when she knows she will have to  park in tight spaces.

i have always thought Mazdas were solid cars with great prices. The only disadvantage was resales were not that good. i am a Mazda fan.

But Mazda, what are you thinking?:

Last week, i received a marketing booklet in the mail for Mazda’s CX-5, glossy high end sales marketing stuff. i looked through it: nice looking car, way too nice for me.

Then i turned the page. There on a black background across from a glossy photo of a Japanese table setting was the following words:

“THE TRANQUIL PRECISION OF A  JAPANESE TEA ROOM AND THE EXACTING NATURE OF THE TEA CEREMONY TRADITION INSPIRED US TO CRAFT AN INTERIOR THAT EXUDES A SENSE OF PURITY AND ELEGANCE.” — Shinichi Isayama, Chief Designer

Good Lord! It’s a frigging car.

Talk about being a little pissed off

This is another one of those actual events that is so wrong in so many ways.

Yesterday and most of today was good.

i went from golf to a cortisone shot the orthopedic guy thinks will fix the shoulder that has ailed me with old man stuff like arthritis. Then there was another appointment.

We concluded the day with dinner at one of our favorite places, The Rose in South Park, with friends in Minnesota who will soon move back to San Diego. Brenda Fake and Tom (Brenda i am having an old man brain fart and can’t come up with Tom’s last name for sure and don’t want to include a wrong one; help me out, girl), are absolutely two of the best dinner mates we’ve ever known: Thanks for a great evening).

Busiest day i’ve had in a long while, all good (except for my golf which sucked again). Today i topped it. i helped my buddy Pete Toennies put together a storage shed and his shelves we put inside. It was an all day workday except for about two hours in the morning when Pete worked on a solo project.  i went to the driving range and was fortunate to find Matt Brumbaugh open for a golf lesson. He helped. Then i was back at the storage building construction: hard labor.

i got home around 7:30, good tired.

When i saw Matt before the lesson, he was waiting for a phone call from his boss. i inquired about what. Matt replied a golfer had been arrested on the golf course. i went to hit warmup balls on the range while Matt concluded his business.

When he began our lesson,  i asked Matt, “What was he arrested for? Bad golf?”

Matt chuckled  and then told me the golfer had been cited by base security for indecent exposure.

i unbelievingly guffawed for about  a minute. “You’ve got be kidding,” i said.

Matt said he wasn’t kidding and added a regular golfer had been arrested about ten years ago for the same thing: taking a leak on the golf course. That time when the case reached the duty security officer, he said, “You’ve got to be kidding?” and dismissed the charges.

But this time, the security patrol car was driving by the course, when the female MA (the Navy rating for the security specialists rating, which i greatly disdain for its inefficiency and bureaucracy, raised holy hell about how the guy did something she found personally offensive.

The guy was in the bushes by a fence. i am sure the female MA saw nothing except him standing there in a position used for only one purpose, but she was offended. i guess she would have thrown Daniel Boone and Davy Crockett in jail plus the vast majority of all humans in the world before the 1800’s.

Apparently, the golfer is going to appear before the base Commanding Officer soon.

i’m sorry folks, but damn near every male golfer i know pisses on the golf course, One, a very good friend, is legendary.

i think some people need to grow up.

And until they do, i think they should be removed from any active role as a security officer.

For god sakes, people, use some sense…if you have any.

i am me (surprise), sort of a half-ass confession

it has dawned on me just a tad late: i am me.

i mean that seems like it would be self evident, like i would have figured that out in my first moments of cognition, which for most folks is probably somewhere just north of two years old.

Not me.

i am a late bloomer. After all, i really didn’t s  start growing up for real until sometime in my sixties — earlier, i have claimed to reach adulthood on numerous occasions only to prove such claims false — and even that is suspect. i am a slow learner.

So growing up, becoming an adult for real, has taken an inordinate amount of time for  me.

Figuring out i am me puts me somewhere up in the stratosphere. Another world.

In realizing/accepting/dealing with/buying into being me, i am more comfortable with me than i have ever been in my life.

It’s a good feeling.

There are people — i don’t know how many and no longer care — who have a different perception of me. They have bad vibes. From their angle, i guess i did something wrong. i, of course, had no intention of doing something wrong, but that doesn’t matter. Now that i’ve figured out i am me, it just doesn’t matter anymore. That’s their take. i don’t own it nor do i take any responsibility for their perception. Furthermore, if it makes them feel good to have me as a negative perception i’m okay with that. In fact, if their perception of me makes them live life better, i am glad i could help. Even though i would like it to be different, would like to be perceived as a good influence, not a bad one, i’m fine with that and wish them well. i am fine with i am me, just don’t expect me to go out of my way to make the relationship better. That’s their ballgame, not mine.

i guess what i’m trying to express here is i have spent a great deal of time trying project a good impression, but no longer. Ole Mr. Waldo, (Ralph Waldo Emerson) had it right:  “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”

i think i have, for the most part, reached that point. Man, it feels…well, i as going  to write “good” but “comfortable” is actually so much better.

This getting to feeling “i am comfortable” began about eight months ago. A couple of years ago, i had a personal relationship with someone very special to me go south. i found i could not stop thinking about the situation. i would have an old man wakeup in the middle of the night and not get back to sleep for pretty much the rest of the night because i could not stop thinking about it.

So i decided to seek counseling to help me. Through a bit of a search, and some psychologists having a full slate, i ended up seeing Martina Clarke. Almost every day after our first couple of sessions, i honor the stars for hooking me up with Doctor Clarke.

She guided me through fixing my incessant over-thinking. As we did this, she helped me in so many ways to help me deal with many problems. More importantly, she gave me a look at myself and how i needed to change to grow up and accept me.

And a month or so ago,  i could feel it happening. i am me. Not perfect, not some blessed wise man.  But i am who i am. And that is just fine.

Before we reach this year’s seventh month, i will make some significant decisions about what i want to do with the rest of my life.

i am not writing this as some kind of confessional although i’m pretty sure this reads that way to many. i’m writing this because this blog now feels like i’m just talking to personal friends. You. That’s the way i am now. Me.

The other reason i am writing this is one decision has already been made. Before i go on my self-claimed writing retreat to Flagstaff in about two weeks. i no longer plan to post anything on my blog or Facebook with topic of politics, religion, cultural, or things like that.

There are a couple of things i want to express about those kinds of things, and they will show up here in the next week or so. But that will be it. This site will be dedicated to being me, not all of that stuff that makes us contrary (as my mother used to say). i don’t need it nor wish to put it out there to make you contrary.

You see, i am me. i don’t need to be anything else anymore.

i might make grownup this time.

Toilet humor

We had some scalawag plumbers, a son and father, install two water heaters and a toilet about a dozen years ago. One water heater was not adequate for the side of the house it served. The plumbers did not secure the drain valve on the other, and the leak caused us to fork over about $10,000 in remediation and stucco, wood, and dry wall replacement.

The toilet never has worked quite correctly since and after my last attempt to correct it, we bit the bullet and got a replacement. It will be installed tomorrow, but i have some concerns.

On the outside of the cardboard container are these words:

Now i don’t know about you, but a toilet that is bold with power has me a bit worried.

Bosun Holsclaw

i never met him.

Wish i had.

It was March 1975. i left all that i had known, my Navy world of destroyers for the amphibious navy.

The divisions between the three surface groupings of ships were significant back then. The vaunted and desired Navy life on the greyhounds of the sea were forever in my past although i wasn’t aware of that at the time.

The service group were the workhorses: oilers, tankers, ammunition ships, sailing to ports for resupply and back to replenish the capital ships: ungodly hours, precious little liberty, and work in the harshest of conditions — fortunately, i never was assigned to a service ship, but who knows? i might have found it rewarding.

Then there were the amphibs. Not very pretty compared to my sleek lady warriors of the sea, they appeared to be…well, pedestrian compared to my thirty-five knot, gun-firing, submarine hunting, missile launching, wake frothing destroyers. i did not know much…no, i didn’t know anything about amphibious ships or amphibious warfare except for World War II movies. At the end of my chief engineer tour aboard USS Hollister (DD 788) , my last aboard destroyers although i did not know it at the time, a fellow officer and i stood on the starboard bridge wing while moored to Long Beach’s mole pier. i watched a big ship standing in and asked to a my friend, “I wonder if that is an LSD?”

It was not even close to  a Landing Ship Dock like the USS Anchorage (LSD 36). i had just received my “split tour” orders to the Anchorage to be First Lieutenant. Previously, up and coming surface officers, lieutenants and lieutenant commanders, were sent to the six-month “destroyer school” where they learned all they needed to know and a bit they didn’t need to know about being a department head on a tin can. Upon completion, they would be assigned to destroyers as department heads. But when i began destroyer school, the Navy began to make it a one-surface Navy. Most of the officers in my class were assigned “split tours” where we would serve eighteen months on a destroyer and the other eighteen on either a service or amphibious group ship.

So in early March, i headed down to San Diego to join the Anchorage as First Lieutenant. It was tough. My second father, Snooks Hall, had died unexpectedly at 61 from a heart attack.  With our move from Navy housing in San Pedro in progress and more importantly, my moving to probably the most critical billet on the Anchorage with no real idea of what i was getting into, and, oh by the way, deploying to the Western Pacific in less than a month, i could not go home to honor my wonderful uncle.

i can remember quite well sitting at the top of stairs in Navy housing shortly after i heard the news. i was moving household goods when it really hit me. i sat down on the top stair and cried for about ten minutes.

But back to business. When i reported to the ship a week later, yet another bit of bad news came. This time it was business. LSD’s had a billet for a bosun warrant officer. A bosun warrant is the creme de la creme of the Navy’s work on seamanship, boats, and any on deck evolution. A “bosun” is a deck seaman of the “boatswainmate” rating who has come up through the ranks because of acumen, talent, wisdom, and experience and become an officer in his specialty. They are the salt of the earth, or sea in the mariner’s vernacular. They are the connection to all things past: wooden ships, iron men, sails, rigging, on and on and on. A bosun is assigned to landing ship docks because he is the glue that holds everything operational together.

As i headed to the Anchorage, i was not just comforted with the knowledge of the First Lieutenant had a bosun assigned to his department, i was absolutely prayerful because, again, i did not know anything about the job into which i was leaping.

One problem. One of the first things i was told when i reported aboard was CWO4 Holsclaw had been transferred almost a month earlier. With no replacement! My source of knowledge, the guy i was counting on to pull me through my ignorance, was gone.

As i went through the relieving process, i assessed my situation. i had one ensign and one lieutenant junior grade as deck division officers. (i also was the department head for the weapons division with another ensign assigned there). The LTJG had one deployment under his belt, but that was his only experience. There were two boatswainmate first class petty officers aboard. One, BM1 Hansborough, led First Division and was the master of working the well deck with landing craft, Marine vehicles and Marine amphibians. One, whose name i shamefully can’t recall at the moment, was in charge of second division and a no-nonsense, hard-working rigger. i decided he could serve as my mentor. But then a week before we got underway, an LST in the squadron lost her boatswainmate chief (i don’t recall why) and the Navy decided my go-to first class should step in on the LST. He was replaced by another first class petty officer who was good, but not as a guru for an uninitiated first lieutenant.

There was one Boatswainmate chief aboard. BMC Justiani was the 3-M (preventive maintenance system) coordinator. He had fifteen years in the Navy. Nearly all was being a boxer in the MWR programs. If possible, he knew less than i did about amphibious operations.

So i went to sea in a brand new job of which i knew nothing. i was a pretty good officer and had become a good ship driver, but this was a daunting situation. None of us knew just how daunting it would be.

Fortunately, one LSD in amphibious squadron was designated as the “Primary Control Ship (PCS)” for amphibious operations. Anchorage, rather than our sister ship, the USS Mount Vernon, had been designated the PCS for the deployment. This meant we would have the Beach Master’s Unit on board. The unit was responsible for managing the beach during landings, and a bosun was the officer-in-charge. Bosun Messenger and his first class, BM1 Stubbe helped me a great deal through the first two or three months of unexpected chaos.

We had loaded a large opportune lift. Opportune lifts are done when space is available. Navy ships load up with equipment and supplies for other government entities who need transportation across the ocean. Goodwill items, Peace Corps Supplies, State Department needs, and even government officials personal goods are given a free ride. Then five days after a short stop in Pearl Harbor, we received flash messages the evacuation of Vietnam was about to begin. All the other squadron ships raced to Vietnam, while the Anchorage headed for Japan to offload the opportune lift and pick up Marine equipment. That saga requires another tale as does the rest of the deployment. It was nine months of non-stop tap dancing around changing requirements and operations always with a twist.

We made it. In fact, we did damn well.

i was first assigned a stateroom amidships before moving to the First Lieutenant’s stateroom on the starboard side. i don’t remember why. It was, i found out, Bosun Holsclaw’s old stateroom. As i opened one of the lockers, i found a small metal box. On the top the bosun had scribbled his name and rank with a felt-tip pen. It was his sewing kit, left behind.

We stood out of San Diego Bay and i retired to my stateroom after the evening mess in the wardroom. i sat in front of the desk and looked at the metal box. i envisioned Bosun Holsclaw. i thought he must have been a large man with a beer belly, balding, rough (all reasonable bosuns would have had a rough edge) capable of leaping tall buildings with a single bound and outrunning speeding bullets.

The sewing kit had a number of different Navy uniform buttons, two or three spools of thread, some safety pins and a cardboard sheet full of sewing needles.  Pretty much all of mariners who go to sea take such sewing kits with them in various quantities and cases. There in the middle of the Bosun’s box was a tiny, elementary-school size pair of scissors. i wondered why a bosun, probably carrying a five-inch knife on his belt holster would feel a need for such a rather worthless pair of child scissors.

It is forty-two years since i first wondered about those scissors. They are long gone. But i have used Bosun Holsclaw’s sewing kit through six deployments, seven home relocations, and an untold number of pants and shirt button repairs.

This afternoon, i finally got around to replacing the button on a pair of golf shorts.

i went into the closet and retrieved the metal box. i found the needles, the right thread, and a replacement button. The repair job was decent.

But throughout, i thought of Bosun Holsclaw and thought how much he would have enjoyed those nine wild months of a WESTPAC deployment with me.

Good luck, Bosun Holsclaw, wherever you are.

 

John Eagle: A Beara Treasure (and i haven’t met him…yet)

Well, about the only way to explain my goof is to admit i’m a dingbat. i must have had “ding” on my mind yesterday afternoon. John Eagle’s home is on the BEARA peninsula, not the Dingle. The Beara peninsula is John’s home. His town, Eyeries is southwest of Tuosist where we stayed with Joe and Carla a couple of years ago. i should  not have erred. John Eagle, John Moriarty, Joe, and Carla, i apologize.

i have taken to going outside for a pre-dinner appetizer in the Southwest corner brilliance of the late afternoon before the Japanese current brings on the marine layer of mist and coolness.

Tonight, it appears the marine layer has been checked; the “May Gray” will have to wait for another evening.

i came out to write just for me, or to be more precise, for my grandson later in his life. It is one of my most enjoyable pursuits, which i fail to do as often as i should.

As usual, i set up my perch with the bluetooth thingie on “shuffle” playing a cornucopia of my music. Currently, Nellie McKay is singing something i really like. i would have never heard of her except Blythe sent me a copy of Nellie’s CD several years ago, and i have found some new music. It seemed to fit with my intentions.

But, also as usual, i checked my email, Facebook, news, and sports. And there was a post from John Eagle. What a great name. i ended up connected to John when my brother Joe or sister-in-law Carla shared a photograph of John’s several years ago. i’ve never met him. You see, John lives in Eyeries, Ireland, roughly about ten miles from the southwest land’s end of  the Beara Peninsula. That’s roughly five thousand miles plus from the Southwest corner.

John is an artist. He has a website: http://www.johneaglephoto.com/.  His photography is enthralling, capturing southwestern Ireland in my lasting vision of such a beautiful land (thanks, Joe and Carla for allowing us to see it in person a couple of years ago. His paintings…well, you should check it out: http://www.johneaglephoto.com/artgallery.htm.

This is what i saw when i clicked on his post:

i was simply blown away. If you check it out, read his blog about it: a half-hour. Incredible.

John, like many of us at this age, is experiencing some health problems. He is facing them nobly with humor and grace.

i just think many of my family and friends would like to learn of John and his work.

Thanks, John.

And Sam, i’ll get back to it before the night’s over.

Morning/Evening

So it was a good day to put all of the disturbing stuff going on and…well, live.

i woke feeling better than in quite a while. Good start.

Maureen pulled off another one of her usual incredible breakfasts. Fruit, her fried eggs always with a delicious surprising twist, toast, and topped off with Tennessee Pride sausage, the hot kind.

When we finished the food, had our first cup of coffee with the newspaper reading, i promised Maureen i would clean up and do the dishes. First, i took my second cup of coffee, the bluetooth music thingie and my iPod outside with Brendel as the playlist,  and my laptop, and sat down to figure out what my day would entail. It was good. Being there was better.

And the day just sort of went with the flow.

We decided to not go to a university lecture we had reserved. We both are still recovering from various versions of crud and decided the evening would be too late. So we had an early dinner of tapas at one of our all time favorite restaurants, Romesco’s, even better because it’s just down the hill.

Returning home, we settled in with a ball game replay, the PBS News Hour, two books, and this computer. We will to to bed early and i will arise early as usual for my Friday Morning Golf, the first in almost four weeks.

Then i looked down toward the ottoman and realized a universal truth:

Prichard feet.