Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

A potpourri of posts on a variety of topics, in other words, what’s currently on my mind.

End of…?

The turkey is smoked and carved. Maureen is close to finishing the other dishes. We will have her sister Patsy, our nephew Mike, and Marti,a very nice lady who shares a home with Patsy over for the dinner. They will arrive shortly. i am very happy with the assembly. It will be a nice day.

But there is a dark cloud hanging over me.

It has been three days since it ended.

i don’t see it returning.

i, along with Fred Russell, J.B. Leftwich, and Bill Frame are dismayed at the end of an era.

Maureen and i made a hard decision and cancelled our subscription to The San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper this past week. Our last paper was delivered Monday.

i have been reading a newspaper or two or three since my earliest days. i suspect it was around four years old when i started looking at the comics. By seven, i was actually reading them. A year or so later, i started reading the sports pages and became enrapt with Fred Russell’s column “Sidelines” on the left hand side of the Nashville Banner’s front sports page.

The Banner was the afternoon newspaper. It leaned toward the liberal Southern Democrat persuasion(if there was such a thing) . The morning paper was the Nashville Tennessean. It was of the conservative Southern Democrat persuasion. i didn’t care. i was devoted to Fred Russell, Dudley “Waxo” Green, and George Leonard. Politics were not part of my world. Again to quote Bob Seger, “i wish i didn’t know now what i didn’t know then.”

i read the Banner and the weekly Lebanon Democrat. J. Bill Frame, our neighbor was the publisher and editor of that paper until i left for the Navy.

Going away didn’t stop me from reading newspapers. In my first tour on the USS Hawkins out of Newport, RI, one of my greatest pleasures was getting the New York Times Sunday edition, eating breakfast and with the Times‘ sections spread all over the living room floor, sitting there on the rug with my coffee and spending the entire morning reading the paper.

When i went to carrying Koreans to Vietnam and back, i grabbed the Navy Times and read it cover to cover. Also, my grandmother would send me the weekly “Route 7 News” by Mrs. Wesley Thompson. i was enthralled with Mrs. Thompson’s down home news.

And then, as i was contemplating how to return to sports writing after my Navy obligation was served, one of the best guys around, John (Yanch) Johnson, offered me a job at his family’s newspaper, The Watertown Daily Times in Watertown, New York.

It was an incredible two years there. i was the understudy to Jack Case before taking over the sports editor when he retired. i was up to my neck in sports. We covered all of the local sports, college sports, introduced me to college hockey. When Jack retired, i ran a full page of photos of Jack with luminaries of the 30’s and 40’s: Lou Gehrig, Sonja Henie, Max Schmeling, and Ray Robinson — Jack gave Robinson his moniker when, after an amateur bout Jack visited the victor’s dressing room and stated, “Ray, you are as sweet as sugar.”

i was immersed in the new and old of sports journalism. The Watertown Daily Times and the Sunday New York Times were intrinsic for my living — and there was something wonderful about sitting in that upstairs apartment reading the paper with five or six feet of snow outside.

Later, there was a short period of time when i was in newspaper heaven. In the mid-1980’s, we were getting the Los Angeles Times’ San Diego edition in the morning. In the afternoon, we got the San Diego Tribune. i felt…educated.

But the LA paper for San Diego went away. The Tribune was merged with the Union and became a morning composite, The San Diego Union Tribune. Original owners died. The paper was sold. Money for the corporations or major gazillionaires used what was left for their purposes, not for newspaper journalism as i knew it. Finally, the latest sale went to a corporation, much like the latest owners of the Democrat. Minimal staff, minimum news, financial thinking i don’t understand is apparently their guideposts.

Oh yes, the cost of reading a real newspaper has gone through the roof…for not much newsprint.

So we ditched it and are using…yep, you guessed it, the cloud, for our news. To bring me some succor for such a wound, we are getting the Sunday edition of the New York Times. i am blown away, even with this as the sports section has become a separate entity. i read superb journalism, wishing i could match their knowledge, their research, and the ability to put words together.

My era of the daily newspaper is over for us. We’ll get by, but it’s been a part of our morning ritual for over thirty years: the morning paper with breakfast and coffee.

And now, i have to figure out what to use to start our evening fire in the hearth.

A Time for Thanks

Christmas is the big family deal. Several of mine have been away from family. Navy, you know.

But i’ve pretty much blown the roof off when it comes to missing Thanksgiving with the family. Actually, it’s not that much. i have spent six Thanksgivings with shipmates either at sea or in some foreign port where whatever Thanksgiving there is is celebrated is on-board.

They were okay. Bittersweet and oh so lonely amongst my Navy friends, but okay.

There also have been about four or five where the celebrating has been with just my wife. This duo celebration seems to have increased in the last decade. That happens when you live in the Southwest corner and are growing older. i have found these to be almost as nice as the ones with large groups of family and friends. After all, i can be happy anytime i am spending time with just Maureen.

i like Thanksgiving. It is not an absolutely silly requirement to honor someone when we should be honoring those people all of the time, like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, President’s Day, Neighbor Day, Sibling Day, Fifth Cousin Day, Trash Man Day, and Lord knows what other group day. Thanksgiving doesn’t have the somber celebratory tone of Easter. It is not one of those national things we have hyped up to give everyone free time to play instead of work on Fridays or Mondays. It is not celebrating the birth of our nation like the Fourth, or honoring those who served like Memorial Day or Veterans Day.

It is not like Halloween, which has become sort of weird party for the kids to get all of the things they shouldn’t eat and now get them at some school or church instead of hitting all of the homes gone gonzo decorative with tombstones and bones of body parts sticking out of the yard — has the number of kids stopping by your house for “trick or treat” dwindled to a handful like it has at ours? — Still Halloween is fun for the kids and the kids in us so i’m okay with it.

And it’s not like Christmas, the big daddy of them all. Celebrating the birth of a savior, having as many family together as possible, waiting for the gift openings, hoping for snow, singing carols, giving each other more than just presents. Yeh, that one is special.

Thanksgiving is one i really like as well. It has morphed into a thing of itself from those pilgrims and indigenous folks getting together to thank each other (what a concept, huh?) with a big meal. Thus far, it hasn’t reach the massive ad campaign of just about every other holiday. There’s this appreciation factor that may be in the other celebrations but seems to get lost.

My favorite Thanksgivings runs the gamut of different settings.

One away from home that sticks in my mind is the one in Seoul, Korean, 1970. i was with Blythe’s mother’s family in their comfortable senior officer housing on base. The Lynch’s were always great at throwing parties and this one sticks out. We got up at some ungodly hour in the middle of the night to watch the Texas, Texas A&M football game. Blythe’s mother and i weren’t even engaged yet. The Lynch’s were allowing me respite from my cycle of carrying Korean troops back and forth between Pusan and Vietnam.

Then there was the one in Naples, 1972. In August, i had returned to active duty and flown to meet my new ship, the USS Stephen B. Luce (DLG 7) a month after Blythe was born. i don’t even remember the onboard celebration, but i do remember the loneliness when i called from the Naples base phone exchange and talked to wife and family. There’s not many things more lonely that hanging up a phone late on Thanksgiving night after talking to the mother of your infant daughter.

Then, there was the one on Yosemite. Man, that was a some feast. We were anchored off of Masirah, Oman (a total of 55 days at sea). Our supply department did us up fine. We even had that Martinelli’s sparkling cider (white) and apple-grape (red) instead of wine. That wardroom of forty-four officers celebrated just like we were family…because we were.

Then there were the quiet ones with Maureen. We always picked one of our favorite restaurants. And we thanked each other for being each other and together. Doesn’t get much more thankful than that.

The Tennessee Thanksgivings will remain special in my memory. They were in all of the places of family. There were those at our house. The old folks and the older children were crammed around the dining room table. Before the family room had been added, the younger kids ate on a card table in the breakfast niche, then later at the oak table in the breakfast room. The womenfolk cooked like there was no tomorrow and it was all good.

Then there was the same going-ons when we held our celebration at the Hall’s home on Wildwood and later Waggoner. We would go to Red Bank in Chattanooga where the Orr’s hosted the feast of Prichard women, almost like the two in Lebanon, but quite a bit larger (we all sat at the dining room table) and a bit more elegant. Then on numerous Thanksgivings, we would travel to Rockwood to be with Mama Orr. It was an incredibly fascinating Victorian labyrinth of a home with a downhill across the street where we would find large pieces of cardboard and slide down (or without cardboard simply roll and roll and roll down that hill.

Ah, memories.

But far and away, there was one Thanksgiving i love the most. Here. The Southwest corner. 2007. Sam was seven months old. His first Thanksgiving. My family was together. Maureen’s sister and her family joined us. i smoked a turkey. It was a warm and dry day, not the full-blown beyond hot and dry today, but nice. Our family was together. That was enough.

Later today, we will drive over the bay bridge to Coronado. We will celebrate with Pete and Nancy Toennies and their family. After all, we are about as close to family with the Toennies as anyone can get.

It will be a nice way to give thanks.

i hope everyone i know has a wonderful Thanksgiving in their own way. i hope all of us will stop for just a minute. Not watching football. Not eating a ton of turkey. . Not pontificating about the state of the world and our country. Just pausing to give thanks for what we have had and what we have.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Sam with Santa at Fashion Valley in San Diego. His first Thanksgiving (Sam’s, not Santa’s)

A Tribute

It doesn’t quite fit with the expectations of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t even the same time of year. But today, for a few quiet moments, i took time for a few moments for reflection. At my time of life, reflection comes a lot more frequently.

It was close to midday. Maureen had gone shopping. A few tasks around home had been completed. Preparations for smoking the turkey had been accomplished. Some financial matters had been addressed, a post had been completed. It had been a good, productive morning.

i took a break and moved out to the backyard patio. It was Southwest corner incredible. The sun was rolling across the heavens. My seat was bathed in warmth. The autumn’s early mornings out here are best in a long sleeve shirt. Not much more. It is cool. But at this moment, i could feel the warmth flowing over, into me.

i thought of my mother.

When Estelle Jewell and her husband would spend a month or so with us in the early winters, she would often disappear around this time of day. i would find her in our courtyard or one of the backyard patios. She would be sitting in a chair but leaning back basking in the sun fully clothed.. Her eyes would be closed. She would be absorbing the Southwest corner sun, undoubtedly reflecting. It is a pleasant memory for me, catching her in such repose.

She and Jimmy Jewell loved to watch humming birds. They had a couple of those sugar water hanging things to attract the small birds outside their home. She would report her sightings of the little things with glee.

i’ve reported here, with the funning of Jim Hicks, of our humming birds. Since Maureen and our longtime friend and landscape expert, Paul Shipley, have turned most of our yard to native blooming plants, the hummingbirds have proliferated.

Sitting there basking in the sun this morning, a humming bird dropped in and hovered to a succulent’s bloom just beyond the patio. Flitting about, the humming bird fed off the blooms, hovered some more, dashed about and returned.

It seemed during its hovers, the humming bird was studying me.

Now, i’m not into physic kinds of things. But i’ve got to tell you in those moments of the warmth of the sun and that humming bird studying me, i felt as if i was connecting with my mother.

Whether it was that or not is irrelevant. i connected with her, and in my reflections, i silently paid tribute to an incredible woman.

Annual Post on Turkey Smoking

Dec 10, 1990, 10:36 pm

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

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

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

Smoking a Turkey


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The turkey’s also good cold.

Shoot the dog.


Solon to the old man:

ah, old man,
do you ever stop dreaming?
even when you know,
unlike before, in your youth,
now that your time is over,
whatever you are dreaming
cannot become reality
because time is running out,
do you no longer dream
about what might be,
or rather,
what might have been?

Old man:

oh no, oh no,
dreaming is a gift forever;
it defies what more subjective folks
rely upon as truth;
when truth is, in reality,
what we choose it to be,
dreaming is what could be,
will be, is;
even now,
when i cannot make it happen,
i can dream
about wonderful things,
if i stop dreaming,
i fear i will be dead
before dying.

Solon to the old man:

 ah, dream on.