Category Archives: A Pocket of Resistance

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

Memorial Day, 2023

Every year, usually a day later, i create a post to, hopefully gracefully, honor heroes, warrior heroes. When writing columns for The Lebanon Democrat for just shy of ten years, i attempted to do the same in my Thursday column. i did not wish either to be sappy or overly patriotic, nor to be acknowledged for caring about the tradition of the day. i certainly had no desire to use the holiday as some excuse for fun. i don’t denigrate those that enjoy the holiday, but i do hope they stop at least for a little while to pay respects to those who have died in military service to our country.

Last year, my thoughts changed a bit. You see, the ranks of the warriors with whom i served are being depleted, slowly, surely, and that surely is picking up speed. Memorial Day was not invented to show respect for warriors who completed their active duty service alive. But man, this is getting personal. i am losing warrior friends now.

One particular loss hit me harder last year. Al Pavich and i met on the quarterdeck of the USS Tripoli (LPH 10) at the Alava Pier on the US Naval Base, Subic Bay, Luzon, Philippines, January 1980. We were literally friends for life. But we were more than that. We shared a stateroom, we shared secrets no one else knew, we shared living, we shared golf, and we lived hard. Al retired as a commander, but he continued to serve, taking care of his fellow warriors and making a difference. His record is available. i won’t elaborate here.

So, to honor Al once more, i have copied and pasted last year’s post about Memorial Day below- it also paid my respect to the children and teachers who died tragically in Uvalde, Texas.

Understand, this is not just to honor Al. It is posted in the spirit of honoring those who died in military service, but also those who made it through and have passed away since. All of them served in the defense of our country.

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.

May Gray Relief

This year’s “May Gray” in the Southwest Corner has doubled down. Almost the entire month has closed the window of perfect weather. The marine layer has come in earlier, stayed longer and returned earlier. We’ve had numerous May days with no sun burning through the clouds. Clowns like me have lived here long enough to recognize our complaining about Southwest Corner weather is akin to complaining about the opposition scoring a run when your team just won a national championship.

Still, not being used to this, we can get down. Quick. So as i walked out today as the sun was rising even though i could not see it, i stopped my morning routine to look at Maureen’s roses in the front side yard:

i continue to prove i am not a graphics guy, but i think you get the picture, in this case pictures. Regardless, when i looked at Maureen’s roses, i pretty much quit complaining about May Gray.

May on the Seacoast

May of a seacoast town
is dark, gray and dank until
the sun burns through
the marine layer;
morning is the time
to visit the coastline
gray and dank before
the sun burns through;
nary a soul but you
walks the beach;
a large black dog runs
up to the incoming tide,
barks furiously at small waves
crashing down,
then retreating fast away
to repeat the frenzy
again and again
while you walk away
along the south facing beach
toward the west
and the sea,
always toward the sea.

Teeth, Eyes, Hair, Jeans, and the Cleaners: A Curmudgeon’s Rant Gone South

Begun Thursday, May 18. Finished this afternoon.

i should be finishing up Chapter 2 of my serial A Tale of the Sea and Me (For Sam). i should be posting a Democrat column from my “Notes from the Southwest Corner.” i should be posting another “Murphy’s Law” guffaw. i should be activating my new bluetooth transponder so i can play my ancient non-bluetooth devices, like phonograph players, CD players, cassettes, and eventually reel-to-reel tapes — as i disdain using Apple music or others because i want to listen to my music, not what they think i would like to hear. i should be organizing stuff in my garage, clothes closet, and garage. i should be cleaning and polishing my shoes. i should be cleaning the interior of my car, close to the last U.S. non-sports car with a standard transmission.

But no.

The seemingly unending string of curmudgeonly thoughts loosely tied together kept coming. It began when i saw a beautiful young woman…except she had fake eyelashes. To keep it nice, i will say like she looked like an anime from some video, but not pretty. Definitely not as attractive as she would have been with her natural lashes.

From that thought, it was easy to move to my great dislike of women, young or old, wearing jeans that cost absurd amounts of money with torn sections, which my mother would have fixed with patches. But i’ve ranted about that enough.

My travels took me to the cleaners, a return trip. A day earlier, i had retrieved two pairs of dockers pants, one blue and one khaki. When i got home, i discovered the blue trousers had been pressed with the crease in the traditional front, but the khakis had been pressed with the crease, if you can call it that, along the seam. i queried the woman at the counter. She explained the khakis were considered “casual” and that meant they should not have a crease.

i noticed a bunch of folks, young and old, but not as old as me with hair different than what was natural. Men had corn rows, toupees, or shaved sides, or shoulder length, or, heaven forbid, man buns. The women expanded on that and both had the colors of the rainbow, their choice. Remember when hair was black, brown, blonde, or auburn (remember auburn?). Nearly all had tattoos somewhere, often many wheres.

i was about to explode into damning all artificialities on or added to our body parts. Then i thought about my teeth and my friends.

You see, when i was nine, i took a header off my bike onto the sidewalk while on the way to a baseball game. That is a long story, but the short story is half of one of two front teeth was no longer part of my dental makeup. At the time, dental cosmetics had not reached its zenith and for about seven years or so, i had one silver front tooth — why am i thinking of “The Ballad of Cat Ballou.”

But my best friend, and my second best friend growing up fixed that in the winter of my junior year in high school. Henry and Jim, aka Beetle, and i went out to a frozen pond in February to skate or something, without skates of course. We would run through the snow to the pond’s edge and jump with the goal of making it to the other side standing up and unscathed. Somewhere in this endeavor, i did not make it to the other side and took another header, this time on the rough ice of the pond.

i got rid of that silver tooth…and what remained of the original one. Henry and Beetle deposited on the front steps of my house. i think my mother realized the real culprit and never chastised the Harding boys. The good news i got a bridge with a tooth that looked pretty good. For someone totally void of compassion, i delighted the next week when playing in a JV basketball game, the kid guarding me left the court to throw up because he was staring at a face with a tooth missing and scars that arched from his mouth up to his ears on both sides, looking like a small version of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”

Then, this guy pulled out into an intersection, ignoring the stop sign around midnight and i caught him flush with my Volvo, Another front tooth bit the dust…or rather bit the steering wheel, and the bridge was then for two.

And while i was executive officer aboard USS Yosemite, a cook from the wardroom mess brought me a fresh pear. i was pleased, leaned back in my office chair and took a bite. The pear was so fresh, it was hard. When i bit into it and tried to pry it from my front teeth, i was successful in pulling out the bridge and one of the anchor teeth along with the pear.

That’s three.

Then after retiring a piece of food, in spite of my flossing, hung up in crevasse next to an anchor tooth. the anchor tooth eroded.

So now i have four false teeth in front, held in place by that bridge.

i then considered all of my friends. There are very few who haven’t had some body part replacement, knee, shoulder, hip, ankles, etc.

Therefore, i think it might be a tad hypocritical for me to rant about artificial body parts. Because without such medical marvels, i would make Billy the Kid look like a dentist office ad.

During all of this deep thought, i picked up my pants at the cleaners. When i got home i discovered they were pressed along the seam without a crease in front. When i returned to our cleaners, i asked why. It seems my pants are “casual pants” that do not get a crease in the front. i’m guessing i’m supposed to go out with women who wear torn jeans that cost around $200.

It is not happening. My wife will not wear torn jeans.

And so, i must admit, i am a relic. i no longer can fit in. i am fine with that. i don’t recall any phase in my life where i really fit in.

But i do regret what we have lost. Remember back when (for those that can). We dressed up every Sunday and for any big event. We wore shirts and ties and no one, no one wore sneakers — in fact, you only wore sneakers on athletic courts. We didn’t go out without our shirts tucked in. Women wore skirts and looked great, attractive but not suggestive.

I think we took more pride in how we looked. We didn’t go for easy and relaxed. We went for pride in ourselves…i think.

Either is not bad i guess. But i am from a different place and a different time. i’m sort of glad my momma sewed patches on the torn parts of my jeans, that i don’t look like Billy the Kid with fewer teeth, and folks, i gotta let you know you will never see me with false eyelashes.

Shadow Mountain Fun

In 2015, Steve and Maria Frailey invited us to join them for a “glamping” trip to the wineries in Warner Springs, a farming community in the northeast San Diego County high desert. It was marvelous. The Shadow Mountain Winery is a wonderful place.

The first vineyard at the winery planted in 1945 is named “Old Gus” for the original owners AuGUStus and Helen Mase. Steve wanted to take a photo of us in the old tub next to the vineyard. We both laughed and hopped in. When Maureen finally realized it could be construed as being like the Viagra commercial on television at the time, she was embarrassed. i love it.

i could not figure out how to share it as a memory on Facebook, even though it’s a great memory. Thank you, Steve.