Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

Old Man Singing

i have been absent here for a few days. The Southwest corner Jewell’s finally got caught. In spite of all the boosters and relatively safe practices, we came down with COVID. Maureen is back in battery after her ten-day hiatus. My tenth day is tomorrow. It has not been a lot of fun but undoubtedly would have been a lot, lot worse without the inoculations

Last night after Maureen had gone to bed, the below, out of nowhere, came into my head. i checked the song lyrics this morning, and here it is:

did you hear the old man singing
“bringing in the sheaves”
when he realized the river ford
was not as shallow as he perceived?

did you hear the old man singing
“swing low sweet chariot
coming for to carry me home”
as the current carried him
away to another home far away?

did you hear the gushing waters
of the ford that belied his fate
swishing through the channel
as if no one had waded through
its deceptive waterway gate?

well, i heard the old man singing:

…Though the loss sustained our spirit often grieves,
When our weeping’s over, He will bid us welcome,
We shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.
My spirit grieved but knew he’d bid me welcome.

I heard him change his tune as he was swept away:

I looked over Jordan and what do I see
A band of angels coming after me
Coming for to carry me home

…Swing low, sweet chariot
Coming for to carry me home.

I sang with him, hoping he could hear:

If you get there before I do,
Coming for to carry me home
Tell all my friends I’m coming too
Coming for to carry me home
Swing low, sweet chariot.

that was long ago;
i now sit in my rocking chair
with the fire in the hearth a’blazing
remembering the treacherous river
where the ford was not a ford
to mumble under my breath,
i will be rejoicing bringing in the sheaves;
tell all my friends, i’m coming too;
swing low sweet chariot.


	

Monday Morning Ramblings

This morning well after first light, the perfect half moon in its perfect whiteness hangs high in the remaining deep, deep blue of the high sky. Pink has captured the eastern horizon. Quiet reigns in the cool of morning with only the doves’ coos interrupting the silence.

Jupiter remains visible to the moon’s east. Mars is a tad further and fading in the light of the expanding day. Venus — ah, i wish we had retained the earlier Greek name of Aphrodite for the goddess of beauty and love — continues eternally to be a flirt. Just over a week ago, she rode on the back of Aries, the ram, while this morning, she dares to taunt Cetus, the sea monster.

i stand in the quiet coolness, newspaper in my hand, wondering why i am so fixated on the planets, stars, and constellations. Oldness is the first thing that comes to mind. The years of navigating have imbedded this need to know and understand the worlds of faraway that guided me on the night watches.

i wonder how i cannot remember where i left the pencil only to find it held by my teeth while remembering moments, short finite moments, over the span of near four score years:

Standing on the front lawn in only shorts, so glad Mother has allowed it was sufficiently hot for us to head to Hazelwood’s pool, and later in my pre-teens at Hazelwood again on a blanket by the pool to hear Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk” for the first time, becoming entranced. Then a few years later, out at Horn Springs, the higher end pool for girls, hence where the boys went, at least those whose parents did not have the coins to join the country club, and hearing Bobby Darin, who someone at the county fair said i looked like, singing “Splish Splash” and decided i liked it before i began to denigrate “bubble gum” rock because it couldn’t hold a candle to the soulful blues of Jimmy Reed, Lonesome Sundown, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, and many others. Feel it, man. Feel it.


Henry (Harding) and i hunting rabbits with a 12-gauge and 410 on Grandpa Arnold’s farm in the winter and me deciding to test the ice in the large tin watering tub for the cows with my right leg plunging through the thinness and sitting there for about an hour or so when George or Virginia came to pick us up as scheduled (and somewhere around 20,000 other misadventures with Henry and Beetle and Mike Dixon and Jimmy Gamble and Mike Gannaway and George Thomas and and Charles “Fox” Dedman and Alex “Country” Harlan and Pat Climer and Jimmy Hatcher and Earl Major, which i shall not mention here).


College Station, Texas in a small house i bought with bad reasoning on the cusp of an unwanted divorce where i would shed my hated polyester khaki uniform, shift into my running shorts and Adidas running shoes, which i bought at JC Penney for twenty bucks and never wore socks, managing to wear for five years, adding shoe goo to the disappearing soles until some crazy person stole them while i was taking a shower in Diego Garcia’s gym locker room. Running a five-mile route to return and put the coals in the small hibachi charcoal grill, closing it to create the flu and expedite the charcoal reaching maximum burning while i showered and returned to put on the one lone steak while i made the salad and toast to eat with a beer damn near every weeknight unless i went to Frank’s, a modern restaurant that played jazz of all things in western swing and outlaw music heaven, and sit at the bar with a sandwich and chips made on site while i talked to the bartender as we listened to jazz, even some Jimmy Smith stuff i brought with me and closing the evening with a Jack Daniels on the rocks before going home and sleeping in the bed alone except for my Old English Sheepdog “Snooks” and the three-legged cat “Shore Patrol” on top of me. And it wasn’t all that bad.


i breathe in the creeping daylight, return to the house to layout the fixin’s for my bride who will make another gourmet breakfast as we watch the hummingbirds feed on the Mexican sage outside our breakfast niche window, and as i pour my first cup of coffee well before she arises, think “maybe this is what one is supposed to do when they get old: remember moments.”

i do.

Fathers

It has been a quiet Father’s Day for me. Maureen and i went to a locally owned bookstore and on to a nearby restaurant for brunch this morning. i became one of those potatoes watching baseball and golf. i got calls from both of my daughters. They made my day.

i’ve been thinking about my fathers. My Uncle Snooks Hall was a close second to being my real father. Then there was Jimmy Lynch, my former father-in-law. Then there was Ray Boggs, Maureen’s father who was also one of my best friends. Then there is Jason Gander, the best father i could wish for my grandson Sam. There are others. i read with delight Facebook posts extolling fathers.

i wanted to write something appropriate about my father. i will only repeat my poem previously posted here about him. When he read it for the first time, he simply said, “How did you know.” That’s enough:

Hands

when most folks meet him,
they notice steel blue eyes and agility;
his gaze, gait and movements
belie the ninety-five years;
but
those folks should look at his hands:
those hands could make Durer cry
with their history and the tales they tell.

his strength always was supple
beyond what was suggested from his slight build.
his hands are the delivery point of that strength.
his hands are not slight;
his hands are firm and thick and solid –
a handshake of destruction if he so desired, but
he has used them to repair the cars and our hearts.

his hands are marked by years of labor with
tire irons, jacks, wrenches, sledges, micrometers on
carburetors, axles, brake drums, distributors
(long before mechanics hooked up computers,
deciphering the monitor to replace “units”
for more money in an hour than he made in a month
when he started in ’34 before computers and units).

his hands pitched tents,
made the bulldozers run
in war
in the steaming, screaming sweat of
Bouganville, New Guinea, the Philippines.

his hands have nicks and scratches
turned into scars with
the passage of time:
a map of history, the human kind.

veins and arteries stand out
on the back of his hands,
pumping life itself into his hands
and beyond;
the tales of grease and oil and grime,
cleaned by gasoline and goop and lava soap
are etched in his hands.

they are hands of labor,
hands of hard times,
hands of hope,
hands of kindness, caring, and love:
oh love, love, love, crazy love.

his hands speak of him with pride;
his hands belong
to the smartest man I know
who has lived life to the maximum,
but in balance, in control, in understanding,
gaining respect and love
far beyond those who claim smartness
for the money they earned
while he and his hands own smartness
like a well-kept plot of land
because he always has understood
what was really important
in the long run:
smarter than any man I know
with hands that tell the story
so well.

Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings

Dear Folks,

My long journey is not over, but it has cleared the biggest hurdle. Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings: A Navy Officer’s Memoir now has a publishing date of August 1, 2022. Pre-orders for the trade paperback version is now available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other online book sellers.

For those who might not know, the book is about the USS Yosemite’s 1983-84 deployment to the Indian Ocean told from my perspective as second in command. She was the first Navy ship with women officers and enlisted assigned to experience extended time at sea.

Obviously, I hope you buy it, but of more importance to me is that you enjoy it and perhaps learn something from my experience.

Regardless, thank you for being a friend, relative, or shipmate.

steel decks and glass ceilings

Memorial Day, 2022

Last night, i walked to the top of our hill, looked out over the gray Pacific, the term that means “peaceful in character or intent.” Magellan aptly named this vast sea because he thought it was peaceful, perhaps calm.

Four hundred and ninety-eight years ago, having just sailed through what is now known as the Straits of Magellan with four of his original fleet of five sailing ships, i’m sure that old Portuguese sea dog would have considered the Pacific as calm and peaceful. I’m sure Richard Henry Dana would agree with me.

Last night from my vantage point, the Pacific Ocean did appear peaceful. There was a faint glow of sun on the horizon below the clouds when, at 1948 GMT-7, i two-blocked my ensign.

My flag light makes this legal. I put that light up to keep the ensign flying 24/7 (as they say) because a number of my neighbors had complimented me for allowing them to see it as they got ready for work.

That little personal ceremony last night was to remember those children and teachers that died in Uvalde, Texas this past week. Our country’s flag being lowered to half mast was an appropriate way to grieve.

Tomorrow morning at 0800 GMT-7, i will be on that hill again to lower the ensign to half mast. Our U.S. Flag Code calls for our flag to be flown at half mast from 0800 to noon on Memorial Day. I will observe that.

This year, Memorial Day is particularly poignant for me. As i noted earlier, a close friend, a brother really, died May 10. Al Pavich doesn’t technically fit those we honor this Memorial Day. We honor those who died in military service to our country. Although Al retired from the Navy in 1998, he served his country and military veterans up until the day he died. And his passing too soon was directly related to injuries he suffered in his tour in Vietnam.

As i have mentioned here earlier and elsewhere, Al’s passing has hit me hard. We went through two deployments, good times, hard times, secrets between us, and understanding. Brothers. And through it all, i knew there were others, and those others kept growing in numbers, who felt that bonding with Al as i did. As i promised, I will write more of this hero here when i have a better control of me.

Tomorrow, up on that hill, Al Pavich will be one of the heroes i honor with my lowering and raising the ensign. It is good to have moments of silence in their honor.

There are other thoughts i have tonight, but we need a rest; we need to think about the good of this country; for a moment, we need to stop the asinine rock throwing at each other, and honor those who have died for our country.

Rest in peace, you warriors of honor. You too, Al.

Rest in peace.

Sun’s Reflection

As usual, i’m just throwing stuff out there to see if it sticks. To be honest, i’m trying to find peace in the darkness that surrounds us, searching for reason amongst the madness in that dark, hoping for caring i do not see in that dark. Wondering why retirement isn’t. Thinking of a cabin in the woods by a stream with no one around where i could do the chores to be there and sit by my fire at night reading the poems of the romantics, sipping on a good whiskey, with no one there but me and an old dog before i go to sleep.

Sun’s Reflection

i wish i could be like the sun,
too bright for anyone to look straight on,
unknown because my light and heat
forbids anyone to see
the sun or me.

the sun’s reflection
provides the light
for us to see
the morning star,
the red planet,
the planet of the moons,
the ringed planet,
and
oh, yes, the moon, the moon
and
let us know them
as we never could
without the reflection from
the sun or me.

if i were like the sun,
i would not change
what folks see
and
come to know
because of the reflection,
but
allow them to see things
they could not otherwise see
and
think about what they see
because of the light cast
by the sun or me.

i wish i could be like the sun.

Whippersnapper

This remains a work in progress. i may just trash it later. But for some reason, i wanted to share it tonight.

he was once a whippersnapper;
wild and crazy ran in his veins,
chasing women with abandon,
bars and dance halls were his domains.

now it’s all just memories
folks seem to want him to change,
and
change he has
and
change more he will
but
something’s missing here.

he settled down;
he has a home;
he can feel changes from his aging
but
there is ache continuing to haunt him
for a return to wild and crazy so engaging.

he realizes he can’t return:
he must be a good old man,
but
late some nights
with a full moon bright
he lives again
with wild and crazy in his veins
if only in his memories.

Al, a Short Note in the Interim

i apologize to all of you.

i have started a half-dozen posts about Al Pavich. There could be another twenty, perhaps more.

But i can’t finish them right now.

i don’t know why. Writing about a loss, a sadness, hard times usually brings me relief. i’ve handled losing others close, very close to me very well in the past. i have tried my old trick of catching myself heading into the abyss of sorrow with thinking “What would Al want me to do, how would Al want me to act.”

Right now, i can’t do that. i’ve been pretty raw the last couple of days. Maureen, as usual, has been a saint in putting up with me.

i just can’t write those posts about Al right now.

For those of you who may be close to the Southwest corner, the memorial service for Al will be 0800-1000, Monday, May 23, aboard the USS Midway museum in San Diego.

This is very, very appropriate.

Al would approve.

i will write those posts…eventually. It’s quite a story.

Al

This is tough. i’ve been trying to write an episodic post about a man who was a hero in so, so many ways. i keep struggling to just get past the first three or four paragraphs. Tough. His wife, Darcy, a heroine in her own right, called me Wednesday while i was on my way to a lunch with a shipmate from another tour. i don’t ordinarily answer calls while i’m driving, but i saw it was Al. It wasn’t. It was Darcy. When i heard her voice, i knew the news was bad.

i won’t complete that episodic post about Al Pavich right now. He died in the Phoenix airport Tuesday. Typically, he was coming home after a trip to see a friend who was in hospice.

That evening (Wednesday), i expressed my feelings in a poem. i still feel that way. The episodic piece about Al will likely be several posts. But here is how if felt the evening after Darcy gave me the news.

Angry.
i lost a friend yesterday
i found out today.
it was about the time
i read from another friend
about some insane political frenzy
they believe
because
they wished to make me believe,
i suppose,
the insanity
so i could become insane
along with them
i suppose,
but
it seems to me
they have somehow
lost caring.

this friend i lost
was more than a friend
we had become blood brothers,
different as night and day,
but tolerant of the differences
enough to be bonded together
for life
until his ended yesterday.

he did not play politics except
to help those for whom he cared
and
he did that well, very well,
to take care of people
with passion, common sense,
just caring
and
he was above
the hate and fear
and
insanity of politics.
so i am angry
folks draw their lines in the sand
over politics
and
abrogate
caring.

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 and
oh, Lord,
Al did, he was, and he will dwell with you.
and
i am angry
at the smallness of those
who cannot care
as Al did.
Take care of him, Lord.
He deserves it.
knowing you will,
my anger will subside
and
i will sleep well
tonight.

i do not know you, Isabella

i do not know you, Isabella;
i’ve only seen you from afar;
i fell in love with you, Isabella;
i might just as well have loved a star.

it was at a barra de tapas in Barcelona,
i saw you laughing with men gathered round;
we were in the Ciutat Vella of Barcelona;
i might just as well have been in old Boston town.

your jet black hair flowed to your waist;
your eyes were dark and flashed like fire;
your lips were red set on your faultless pale face;
all of which ignited my desire.

i knew the futility of pursuing you;
you were younger with fancy men at your side;
i was an old sea dog who sailed oceans blue;
i knew my kind you would not long abide.

i left the Ciutat Vella of Barcelona
where you laughed, smiled, and teased the men;
i returned to my ship in Port Vell Barcelona;
it’s been a long, long time since then.

i do not know you, Isabella;
i’ve only seen you from afar;
i fell in love with you, Isabella;
i might just as well have loved a star.