Monthly Archives: June 2017

shaggy beasts

And there i was in a place i always wanted to go: Flagstaff. Doing what i have always wanted to do: write. Taking breaks just as i imagined: walks in the mountains, walks up to Buffalo Park, the crown jewel of the Flagstaff Urban Trail system. The first hike up i read the sign. The park began as a refuge for bison and other animals. i kept my eye out but only saw deer. i realized they could not have bison commingling with the human kind. Too dangerous for the latter. Sad, i thought. Then tonight, it sort of just came to me what it might have been like for those majestic  beasts before those crazy humans moved in.

shaggy beasts

oh, i done seen ’em coming
coming over the ridge
breathing fire
hooves of thunder
raising storms of dust in their wake
eyes aflame
coming after me
humped back furry beasts
coming after me
in the dry heat
way up in the mountains
breath hotter than steam
that’s it:
a herd of shaggy locomotives
coming after me
i done seen ’em coming
in my dreams
as i climb
the path up the mountain
to the tableland
they dedicated
to those shaggy beasts
then decided
the tableland would be a nice place
for the locals to enjoy
then recognizing
the horned shaggy beasts
were prone to run over
scrawny walkers
so
they relocated the inhabitants
to some protected prairie habitat
far away
so
i missed them
until
i done seen ’em coming
coming after me
over the mountain ridge
breathing fire and brimstone
in my dreams.

A Change is Gonna Come

Sam Cooke wrote it

Sam Cooke sang it. Then Otis sang it. Then Aretha sang it.

Then over fifty other groups sang it…and they are still singing it.

“A Change is Gonna Come.”

And it will. i believe the change Sam was addressing will come.

It was a heroic song. It is a beautiful song.

And the title words fit something far less important on this website. A change is gonna come. Here.

Last week, i wrote my last column for The Democrat, number 500. Last week, i completed my sequestered sojourn to somewhere and found it. What i found is i will continue to write.

i started a book, or rather i picked up where i left off at least a half dozen times writing a book. It’s about a ship, a wonderful ship in a position to allow change to come. The Yosemite did not only allow the change to come, she caused the clarions to blow the song of change to the heavens. She went to the Indian Ocean and unlike those tenders before her, she steamed north to the island of Masirah, Oman, anchored and performed wondrous repair and maintenance on ships of the carrier battle group, and she did it with an extended out of port time while women, one hundred enlisted and six officers were part of the crew and wardroom. First time. It was akin to what Sam Cooke was singing about.

i was the executive officer, and i think the lessons learned still apply today, not just to the Navy or the military in general, but to the world. Before continuing, i must thank Captain Frank Boyle, USN (Ret.), Noreen Leahy, Emily Black, and Dr. Frank Kerrigan for helping me remember, correcting the fault in that memory, and adding to the fun of writing this book. i also need to thank Blythe Jewell Gander, Sarah Jewell, Alan, Maren, and Eleanor Hicks, Joe Jewell, Carla Neggers, Kate Jewell, and Maureen (you know her, right?) for providing guidance and encouragement as i move forward in writing the book. Oh yeh, the working title is Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings.

My book is a long way from finished, barely started really. But i will finish it. i don’t know if i will publish it for the public, but i will finish it. What will come next is yet to be seen. As it nearly always is with me.

i’m also dedicated to bring changes to this website. i plan to have more posts, to put a little more of my soul into these pages. After all, i am seventy-three and wise enough, i think, to not try and change the world. It’s the next generations turn to try their hand at that. My part in this thing called life is to provide stories about what has happened to me in those 73 years, what i’ve observed, and how i feel about things. This is not an attempt to change the world, but to, perhaps, let some folks who might think about my experience, read my stories, and maybe make their plan to change the world a little bit better.

Part of the change here is to see if i can cover my expenses. i am, with the help of the incredible Walker Hicks, planning to make this a subscription website around the first of September. It won’t cost much. i’m thinking about a buck a month, paid for annually. That should cover my expenses and reward Walker a small token of what i owe him.

i will need some help. So as i roll this out and continue to change and massage those changes, i will be asking readers to help me.

Like i have a problem with what to call this. When this began, Walker suggested the theme be golf-like. i certainly agreed to that. Walker came up with “jewell in the Rough.” i liked it a lot, and it has been on the banner of this site ever since.

Then i chose some categories to label each post. One category was “A Pocket of Resistance.” That is me. Blythe has noted i am a “contrarian.” That is accurate, but “A Pocket of Resistance” relates back to my discovery of that part of my nature while aboard the USS Anchorage in the South China Sea in 1975. i like it. A lot.

Soon, every post bore the label “A Pocket of Resistance.” It seems sort of duplicative to have everything labeled “jewell in the Rough” and “A Pocket of Resistance.” So i would like you readers to let me know which you prefer better or what you would like to see my website labeled. And don’t worry, i have a tough skin and can laugh at myself if you want to throw some rocks over the wall.

So, even though it is not as earth shaking-ly important as what Sam Cooke meant, it is important to me.

After all, a change is gonna come.

Somewhere a Long Time Ago

It was 1968. April.

i had flown on a military flight out of Charleston to Rota, Spain with way too much personal crap in a plywood cruise box.

i was reporting to my first ship, if i ever got there. The USS Hawkins (DD-873) was somewhere in the Mediterranean. Being completely naive (damn near my permanent state, sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse), i expected an overnight in Rota and being flown to my first ship in some romantic spot like Rome the next day. But they couldn’t find my ship…or something. Who the hell knows. My overnight turned into two weeks.

i cannot describe my loneliness. i hooked up with another junior officer and took a bus to Seville for the day: a bullfight and wandering around the city not having a clue as to what to see and what to do. That was about it except a couple of stories to save for later.

i was lonely. i had no clue as to what would happen when i actually did report to my ship. My world had tumbled upside down. i was out of place. But on the ride back from Seville, i looked out the bus window at the agrarian landscape. i was longing for calmness, order and for a brief moment, i found it.

southwestern spain

there are no rocks here;
there are just rolling hills of fields and fields;
there are no woods here:
one just feels a calm.

don’t stay long; it could get dull;
dullness could be an affixation of the mind:
one moment of one day, the dullness
turns to calm which can suffocate my kind;

it could be solitary here;
try not to think of this
amidst the military people,
it grows into left-right bliss.

people have no quarrels here;
at least, with life itself they live;
most people seem not to notice;
perhaps it irks their souls too much.

the fields are green here;
the ocean rolls softly in the bay;
the trees are green here;
spring’s coolness precedes summer days.

the bullfights are clean things
people watch to see men face
death for nothing more than an ear or more;
it is satisfying to the crowd and perhaps the matador.

the roads are curved here;
no super highways sever the countryside;
the world is clean here
as if the rest of the world has died.

there are no rocks here,
just rolling hills of fields;
there are no woods here;
i feel the calm.

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jog

To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, dancing a jig;
To market, to market, to buy a fat hog;
Home again, home again, jiggety-jog;
To market, to market, to buy a plum bun,
Home again, home again, market is done.
— Mother Goose

It was a cool 55 when i left Flagstaff just before six. Tom Suby came out to dump some trash from the house above my studio and we said goodbye again. While we were talking, i commented i smelled smoke and there was a smoky haze. He said it was the Kendrick fire, about 10,000 acres. When he realized i didn’t know about the fire, he was incredulous. “You really have been doing anything but writing, haven’t you?” he asked.

Yes, i had isolated myself that much. No television. No news except the exchanges with friends of the Fitzgerald collision, something we Navy surface types will be talking about for a long, long time. But that and some Facebook exchanges. After all, i was trying to get to somewhere.

Friday morning, i had found somewhere i wanted to be and i was taking it home.

It was old Jewell traveling again. My little Mazda 3 was packed pretty full, not jammed like i have traveled many other times, but full. i rolled onto old US 66 and shortly hit I-17, down, down, down the mountain. The vistas of pines in the rolling mountains was beautiful. And rolling down those curves, the highway folks had put up one of those temporary flashing signs that warned, “Look out for Elk.” i took that to mean meeting an elk on the two lanes down could be imminent. i had this thing in me that wanted to pull off at a safe spot and go look for elk. Of course,  i didn’t. Just kept rolling like i always do.

By the time i got to Phoenix, she was rising (okay, who makes that connection?). i called and told her i was coming home and i had found somewhere. By now the mountains and the hills and the pines were but hazy visions on the horizon. The landscape of Arizona is varied and always interesting. If only i could slow and study it some more. Of course, i didn’t. i just kept rolling. As always.

i cut west on state route 101, maybe there a long time but now a four-lane escape from Phoenix traffic, going south to I-10, then a quick jog to state route 85 to I-8 in Gila Bend, the land that i…, no i don’t love it, but i have had a number of adventures featuring Gila Bend, and i’ve always been amazed anyone would choose to live there and now even more amazed because it’s growing.

Now, i was in familiar territory: I-8, the ribbon of highway to San Diego. Been on this crazy route more times than i can count. 80 miles per hour, maybe more if i think the highway patrol isn’t hiding in the bushes somewhere west. Not much there to Yuma except exits to towns that don’t even have dots on the exit signs: Smurr, Theba, Piedra, Tarton, Stanwix, Aztec, Dateland, Mohawk, Tacna, Ligurta. Maybe a gas station and convenience store for the travelers, a couple of houses, most with no vegetation, a couple with tree breaks. That’s it. Not much to El Centro and ’bout the same until the road begins to climb just west of Ocotillo where i had to turn around once and spend an extra night (in El Centro where i dined at a Thai place run by Mexican-Americans, nice folk but their fried rice had a hint of salsa). Then up the mountains past Dos Cabezos until you feel like you just might be on the top of the world, that ribbon of highway launching across spans of nothingness looking down into valleys so deep you can’t see the bottom and looking up to the sky so close it feels like you could touch it. Then down, down, down where the names look familiar where there are now a grunch of casinos on the reservations until i hit the eastern edges of the city and the traffic looks familiar as i jockey for position to get the hell off this ribbon of highway gone lunatic and jiggety jog to home.

“Market is done.”

i’ve found somewhere, and i am home.

My little Mazda has done good. It will get a detail tomorrow. i was beat, worthless for the evening. Maureen puts up with me and we eat tapas down the hill, watch a bit of the ballgame recorded earlier and go to bed.

This morning, i arise and launch into old routines with the additional unpacking, organizing, washing. You know. Then before Maureen comes out of the bedroom, i assess where i’ve been. The trip home beat me down a bit more than before. But i am older. Someday in the future, i will have to stop such power drives to somewhere.

Somewhere? i found it. It isn’t exactly what i was expecting to find. The sequestered sojourn was not exactly the way i planned. But it did accomplish what i wished to accomplish. i know where i am. Somewhere. i’ll be a bit different now. i’m not sure exactly sure who that will be, but it will be different.

And i’m fine.

After all, when i walked out the kitchen door to fill Maureen’s garden water pail, i found this:

It’s good to be home, jiggity jig.

I’ve Been Somewhere

It is a lovely place, this someplace i have found.

Since i’ve found it, i’m moving on, back home where i belong.

i’ve checked out the car to leave a day early, early in fact tomorrow morning.

i’ve checked the car fluids, etc. as my dear bride asked me to do. i knew they were okay, but one of the primary drives in my life is to make her not worry. i’ve enough gas to get within a half-hour of Bonita, but i’ll stop somewhere after a couple of hours to fill ‘er up and go the rest of the way non-stop. My kind of driving. Just under 500 miles, seven to eight hours through the desert at its hottest. Done it too many times to remember them all. Do recall the old Toyota Corona station wagon through Arizona in July when i had to turn on the heat to keep it from overheating in 120-plus temperatures and then stopping in El Centro around 6:00 in the evening, thinking how cool it was only to see a bank sign thermometer reading 118. May get something of a repeat as the Southwest between Fredericksburg, Texas and El Centro, California is relishing in heat way above 100 degrees.

But it’s time to go. i spent today spinning wheels. i finally realized the sequestered sojourn to somewhere was over. i mean i got somewhere. i know where it is now, and i’m damn tired of the sequestered part. i was gonna gut it out through tomorrow. Then i talked to Maureen. That did it. i missed her. Flat missed her.

As for the writing retreat as i have called it, i got done what i needed. It’ll be a book sometime. It may or may not be published. Some folks will get a copy regardless. We’ll see.

It was good for me, this somewhere.  i will take somewhere with me when i leave tomorrow, but i’ll leave behind a wonderful workout/walk/interval training/run thing in the mountains. i think the introductory photo captures it.

But it’s time to go home.

Similarities

This morning as usual, i read “The Writer’s Almanac” in my daily email. One item struck me. Today is the birthday of Erich Maria Remarque, the German who at twenty was in the trenches during World War I. He’s the guy who wrote All’s Quiet on the Western Front. If you haven’t read it, you should.

As i read the item, i was struck with similarities between now and the time of Erich’s quote and the time of the item’s description of the later reaction in his home country of Germany. i have my vision of how it relates to now (and it wasn’t just ISIS), but i’ll let you come to your own conclusions about who, what, and how:

Remarque’s quote:

I am young, I am twenty years old; yet I know nothing of life but despair, death, fear, and fatuous superficiality cast over an abyss of sorrow.

The excerpt from the article:

The novel sold more than a million copies in Germany in its first year of publication. Nazis were beginning their rise to power at the time, and they hated the book because it portrayed World War I as misguided and pointless. It was one of the books they publicly burned in 1933. When the film version of the book premiered in Berlin, Nazi gangs attacked the theater. Remarque lost his German citizenship in 1938 and eventually moved to the United States.

i found the similarities terribly sad. Why can’t we learn from the past?

Loco Moco

Please, please, please, as James Brown, the hardest working man in show business, used to scream, please, please please don’t tell my wife about this post.

This, obviously, will take some explaining.

You see, i am up in these mountains attempting to be reclusive, monk style, and write. i am surprised i’ve been pretty damn good at it. But there were a couple of things causing me…okay, okay, it was my choice…to wander from my monk-hood discipline of writing with walk/hike/runs breaks and otherwise isolation. As most of you already know, my last column was published in The Lebanon Democrat today. And one of my best friends ever, the Shreq of the Shreq and Donkey duo of which i was…yep, Donkey, Pete Toennies came home from the hospital today after shoulder replacement surgery yesterday. Pete, if you don’t know retired as a Navy SEAL captain. He and i met on a legendary 1979-80 deployment to WESTPAC.

So i thought i would celebrate a good run with my hometown paper and honor Pete.

Now there are many ways i could do this. If i thought hard enough, i could have probably conjured from the originally overstocked and fast dwindling groceries in the refrigerator and the cupboard. So i assessed. And i remembered. The assessment function revealed i still had a package of ground beef i had not touched in the refrigerator. i remembered a dish Pete and i revel in. Unfortunately, neither of our wives are thrilled with its nutritional value. Mine is downright revulsed.

In the early part of this decade, Pete and i were marketing to the Navy a product that made a lot of sense, would have helped the Navy meet some requirements, and would have saved a lot of money. So of course, the stakeholders eventually decided they didn’t want it. After all, it would be treading on their territory and they might (which they never did) figure out a way to do it in house. But in the course of our marketing, our old friend and shipmate in that long ago deployment, OW Wright, arranged for the two of us to brief a whole bunch of Navy security types in Pearl Harbor.

Pete and i flew in  and rented a car the day before the brief. It was past midday and we were hungry. We tried to find the monkey bar in Pearl City, but it had been quite a while and we couldn’t locate it, if it still exists, which is not likely. Not finding it was probably a good thing because someone later told me PETA or some other well-intended but misguided organization had gotten rid of the monkeys (hmm, wonder if they used one of those relocation services). Finally, we stopped at a a place advertising great food. It turned out to be a bowling alley restaurant on the overhanging balcony of the lanes. We checked the menu and weren’t particularly impressed. But we both wondered about the special, Loco Moco. The waitress described it, and we didn’t blink an eye ordering Loco Moco.

You see, Loco Moco is  a modern local Hawaiian dish on a bed of rice covering a dinner plate. Then there is a half-pound or more of cooked ground beef. On top of that is one or two fried eggs (you can get three eggs if you let the waitress know that’s what you want). All of this is covered with a shellacking of brown gravy. i now know why there are a lot of really big native Hawaiians.

Several years later, Pete and his wife Nancy began to have us join them on a Kauai vacation. It has become an almost every other year tradition. One reason is the four of us are good golf partners. Also Pete and i like to play when the women are pursuing more cultured activities. Our favorite course in Kauai is Kiahuna. There are short lava rock fences supposedly created by the Menehune, a Hawaiian version of Leprechauns. On the back nine between fairways is the remains of the rock home of the Portugee, a guy who became like an overseer of a good chunk of the island. The remains of his rock tomb vault is several paces behind the home ruins. Fascinating but off point.

However, on a day when the ladies were being cultural, Pete and i stopped for lunch in between a day of two rounds. And there on the menu much to our surprise (delight) was “Joe’s Loco Moco.” i am happy to report Joe’s is just as good if not better than the bowling alley version.  Of course, that could be influenced by the fact we washed Joe’s down with two mai tai’s, another thing Joe is very good at.

So tonight, i went back to the grocery and bought some packaged microwaveable rice and ready to mix and serve brown gravy. i made a dent on that refrigerated ground beef and decreased the number of way too many eggs and made my version of Loco Moco. It wasn’t bad and absolutely of no real nutritional value. So of course, i loved it, wished for Pete and hoped to god, Maureen wouldn’t find out.

It wasn’t quite as good as Joe’s on Kauai because i washed it down, gulp, with Pellegrino, not a mai tai.

 

The Sequestered Sojourn, continued

In the last couple of days, i wavered on my intended mission in the sequestered sojourn to somewhere (Thank  you, Maren Hicks: i like the added adjective). But i’m back on task. And exactly somewhere has begun to reveal itself. Today, i will not blaming myself for taking breaks from writing my book. You see, the timing of this sojourn had some difficulties, some built in interruptions.

i suspect i will write more on this but my last column, number 500, appeared in The Lebanon Democrat today. i wrote and submitted it last week, an interruption to the sojourn i didn’t mind at all. After reading it this morning, i’m taking some time to digest something being part of my life being no longer a deadline to meet, no longer a topic to determine, no longer memories to fill out and clarify.

i thought the College World Series might require me to go off-line to watch Vanderbilt chase a dream of mine again. But Vandy quickly lost to Oregon State in the Super Regionals and the CWS no longer required my attention.

Then there was Father’s Day. And it really should be called “Father’s Days.” Recognition of dads began mid-week last week. Mine took up parts of three days.i had to, had to stop for that.

i also discovered even though i can write fairly solid for two weeks with walking/running breaks included, it’s damn near impossible for me to write on one thing for more than a work week. i can’t explain that except for it being in my nature. So i’m back to considering where i’m at while i’m going to somewhere.

But here is a continuation about where i am really:

i introduced Leopard in the last post. Yesterday, i found out he’s a neighbor’s cat who has taken up part time residence here.

i thought there was another solo act attracted by the birds and the feeders. A squirrel i called Orion.

Brave little fellow. While i was sitting less than four feet away, he would ignore me to chow down on what the birds had spilled from the feeder above. But it turns out Orion isn’t a solo act. Juliana, a friend of the owners of this Air B&B studio, came by to water the plants and fill the bird feeders. She pointed out some of the magnificent pines. They are dead and dying. Why? Squirrels. They are eating the new growth. As we talked, about a half-dozen of these brazen guys start running around pell-mell on patio rails, jumping from tree to tree. So Orion is really a bunch of these guys. Juliana talked about a service to catch them and remove them to another location. That doesn’t make sense to me.

i was happier thinking there was just one Orion living off of dropped bird seed.

So after i unpacked, and settled in, and met Leopard and Orion, i went on a suggested walk. An “Urban Trail,” Arrowhead Trail to be precise, winds up, and i mean up, for slightly less than two miles, probably an average incline of about eight degrees, and in one spot, a twelve degree grade. The path is about the size of a wide one lane road back home in Tennessee or a two-lane road with a turn lane in Ireland. Some views:

The beginning of Arrowhead Trail which turns into the Arizona Trail, which goes through Buffalo Park.
Further up the trail.

At the top is the tableland and “Buffalo Park.” There’s a bronze sculpture of a bison at the entrance with a plaque explaining the park. It says the park began as land dedicated to a game refuge populated with bison and antelope. Since i’ve been here i’ve only seen deer. i think they decided it should be more of a people trail place and the bison would be a danger to the new interlopers so they had them removed to somewhere else (sort of like the squirrels killing the pines). It hasn’t been crowded but there always at least fifteen, sometimes as many as thirty cars parked at the entrance. The trail system is expansive.

Did i mention this place is up high. This photo is of the higher mountain. It’s mid-June. That’s snow. It’s high up.

Below is a doe on the trail up, and below that is her fawn in the woods. i’ve seen about a dozen deer on my walks, nothing rare these days unless you live in a city like San Diego. i don’t understand why they are prevalent elsewhere like where i grew up when there were none there when i grew up and not any deer at our house in Bonita where coyotes, bobcats, foxes, and snakes abound. Perhaps they used a deer removal service.

It’s time to get back on that sojourn to somewhere. This has been a nice break.

Flagstaff: Writer’s Sojourn

My plan was to take today off. i ended up taking a chunk of that last night. Today, i fooled with a number of things but wrote most productively today compared to the others. It’s time to provide some thoughts about this sojourn to somewhere:

My first awareness of Flagstaff, Arizona occurred in 1950 when i was six years old. My parents returned from what i remember as a month or more trip with my Aunt Naomi Martin. i don’t think Uncle George accompanied them, but stayed home and worked and kept my cousin Maxwell.

My Aunt Bettye Kate Hall picked up Martha, 4; and Joe, 1; and me after her workday at the Lebanon Woolen Mills and we spent the evenings and nights with them in their home at the foot of Wildwood Avenue. In the morning she would take us to Graham and Mary Helen Williamson’s apartment on the first floor of an apartment on the corner of West Main and Pennsylvania Avenue.

Graham was our older cousin, and he took me under his wing up during my early youth. i vividly remember being in their next home. Graham was working on a band featuring his fiddle playing (he later was a back up fiddler for Roy Acuff). He would let me sing “Kaw Liga” when they practiced it.

During that summer we stayed with the Williamson’s, i most remember how kind Mary Ellen was and her serving us peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch. When we had sandwiches with peanut butter at home, it was always with jelly. i preferred grape. But peanut butter and banana sandwiches became my favorite.

Mother, Daddy, and Aunt Naomi concocted the trip to go see Uncle Wesley and Aunt Barbara Jewell somewhere in middle to northern California. i do not recall their route and other stops in-between, but i do know they stopped in Flagstaff because they brought back some souvenir glasses from wherever they ate there. So, at least part of their journey was on Route US 66.

The souvenir glasses could have been a set, several, or just one. But i remember it vividly. Why? Because a cowboy on a bucking horse was etched in black ink on the glass. i don’t remember any of the wording, but i remember that cowboy and that somewhere “Flagstaff” also was etched on the glass.

i was a cowboy nut. We had an 8mm movie of Hopalong Cassidy Daddy would show occasionally after some home made movies if my incessant demands wore him out. i listened to “Straight Arrow,” “Tom Mix,””Red Ryder,” and “The Lone Ranger” on the radio every chance i got. The backyard at 127 Castle Heights became the old west for the majority of time i played there, even though my wanna-be cowboy hat, and my double-holstered belt with my six guns must have looked a little strange when i only wore shorts in the summer. That glass etching inspired me even more. i imagined riding a bucking bronco in that cowboy heaven of Flagstaff.

In 1985, Flagstaff was in our plans coming back from Mayport, Florida to my final duty station in the Navy. We had pretty well stuck to our plan of not driving more than 300 miles a day, Okay, okay,  it’s almost 400 miles between Austin and Lubbock, and it’s a pretty miserable drive, and there’s not a lot in between. After a wonderful three days in Santa Fe, our plan was to stop in Flagstaff. But we changed when we realized, even though it was 374 miles, we had been on the road for twelve days and were anxious to get back to San Diego. We passed through Flagstaff. It was the worst decision we made on that trip, perhaps our worst travel decision ever. The ensuing drive was long and miserable when all the lodging in Phoenix was full and we continued to Gila Bend. Anybody who has stopped or even passed by Gila Bend will understand that.

My third exposure to Flagstaff was in 1989, thirty-nine years after my fascination with the cowboy glass. As a retiring commander, i agreed to be a chaperone for a tour of the west by a group of senior international officers taking an amphibious landing course at the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado where i was the director of leadership training for the West Coast and Pacific Rim as well as the lead facilitator for the Senior Officer “Command Excellence” two-day seminar. We had taken the Coaster up from San Diego and then transferred to an AMTRAK overnight to Gallup, where a bus took us for the rest of the trip. It was eventful: Canyon de Chelly, deep into Navajo land, my dinner with Tom Gorman, then we had a day and night in Flagstaff, mixing with foreign students at Northern Arizona U. before going on to other adventures and  back to San Diego. i was intrigued by Flagstaff, enough to look at real estate. Didn’t do it.

But i did make it to Flagstaff on Monday.

My studio apartment through Air B&B is just right for my purposes, my writing sojourn to somewhere. Alex and Celestina ensured all of my needs were met, and the studio with two outer rooms is perfect for three or four people (and a baby makes five) who need a overnight place to stay while catching all of the sites, like the Grand Canyon, of the surrounding area. And it’s just right for an old man on a writing sojourn.

Here is my patio, simple but pleasant.

The view out my front door. We’re talking cowboy rustic here:

There are new friends here. This black cat came by almost immediately. i think he has a home but i don’t know whose. He likes it here because there are tempting birds and this squirrel he has his eye on. i call him Leopard.

This is becoming much more of a project than i intended so i’m going to try and make it in installments so it’s manageable and not interfering too much in the sojourn to somewhere.

Break Time and Some Thoughts about My Father

It was time. i just kept refusing to admit it.

Tomorrow will be the half-way point of my writer’s sojourn to somewhere. My plan was to gut it out for the duration. But the plan was not completely realistic. It’s pretty tough for a hard-living old fart to change his ways overnight.

But i kept at it for half of the journey to somewhere, and i actually feel like i just might be halfway to somewhere. i just don’t know yet where somewhere actually is.

Then i had a message exchange with Blythe. That’s enough to make me rethink just about anything. From my request, she forwarded me a photo and several more.

And i had promised myself to take enough of a break to honor my father on Father’s Day. i don’t really need any acknowledgement, but i did want to honor him and respond favorably when others honored their fathers.

Finally after another five mile power walk up the mountain and back — okay, okay, it ain’t really a mountain, just a fairly steep grade up to a tableland at about 7500 feet of elevation; but that’s another story — i realized i was fine with my routine of rigor but i needed a break. So i drove down to the closest grocery and got an off the shelf pizza and a bottle of decent red wine. i got the pizza because i was damn tired of preparing my own meals. They meet the basic needs but they are so miserable compared to Maureen’s fare. i got the wine, not because it was alcoholic but because my taste for liquids is narrow and i also have gotten damn tired of coffee, water, Pelligrino (even with lime), and the Jewell version of an Arnold Palmer.

So tomorrow is Father’s Day. Big Deal. i don’t need a tie. But i do need to talk about, as i once called him in a tribute, an incredible man. He was.

Those photos Blythe sent me? They were of my father with Sam (and one with my mother and Blythe) from a 2010 — see Blythe, i really do know what year it was even though i was originally a decade off — visit she and Sam made to my parent’s home in Lebanon, Tennessee.

Most of these are like many photos family members took with Grandpa. His children, his grandchildren, his great grandchildren, and even children who, just because they are children, have similar poses in photographs. But these are mine and special:

Four generations of Jewell, minus one who always has wished he had been there.
i love this because Grandpa had such a low opinion of his reading when he really was a good reader. Here he is reading with Sam, something i’m sure he would have done with all of his children, grandchildren, and in fact any child who crossed his path and the opportunity had arose.
About every person under 18 and one over that: me when i was about fifty, sat with him in his recliner and watched TV. A precious memory for all of us.

 

You didn’t get too many action shots of Grandpa, but loving giving his grandson a boost produced a happy countenance that was so him. So Jimmy Jewell, aka Grandpa.

Then there is the coup de gras:

This is an 96-year old man taking his four-year old great grandson for a walk. They are mine. i am the missing link here. But it speaks volumes, i think, about a man and his relationship with all children.  i must confess i cannot look at this photo with crying a bit. In joy, happiness that it happened. That Sam James Jewell Gander had some precious moments with one of the most magnificent fathers, grandfathers, and lover of children the world has ever known.

Happy Father’s Day.