Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy Birthday!

April 27, 2013

Dad would have been 80 today.  I miss him.  I miss his funny humor.  I miss him singing Christmas songs in the summer.  I miss him tapping his shoes together when he was sitting in his favorite chair and you brought him ice cream or some yummy sweet treat.  I miss seeing him look up at the full moon on a clear night – how he would study that night sky as if he saw something that I could not.  I miss the way he smelled.  I miss his smile.  His enthusiasm for an adventure – even when it was a place we had been 100 times before, Dad always made every excursion like it was a first – he made things fun.  I miss the way he hugged me. 

 Happy birthday.  I love you, Dad.  You are who I want to be when I grow up.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pure Fire and Spirit

I walked into an equestrian center the other night and immediately fell in love all over again.  The stables.  The riding outfits.  The smell of horse, leather, and hay.  I breathed in that scent.  Aaahhhh…  Scents are one of the most powerful emotional aphrodisiacs.  They link us to feelings that have no words.  They link us to images.  They link us to time and place. 

It’s been many years since I rode.  Many years since I mucked out a stall, tossed hay, and filled water buckets.  I use to ride in England.  Tall, muscular horses that absolutely thrilled and amazed me.  I was never a good rider.  But I had no such lofty goals of being a jumper or cross country champion.  I simply wanted to experience the Horse.  To touch the soul of a being that was so much grander – so much more graceful than I.  Horses.  Magnificent!

Memories washed over me the instant I walked into that arena – that smell of horse – and I watched the show with both great love and great longing.  There is refined aesthetic beauty in the limbs of a horse.  As I lean against the railing, transfixed by the spectacle, I suddenly have a vision – with every Sun flare, that fiery energy is reborn here on Earth, as a newborn foal.  They are pure fire and spirit.  

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

He's Our President

An article came out in our local paper just a few days before the Inaugural Address.  The piece stated how many Washington Republicans were going on mini vacations and laying low during the swearing in ceremonies and celebrations because they found no reason to celebrate.  I found the article very disturbing.  No matter who you backed or who you voted for, the President is the president of all of us.  In this time of unrest, suspicion, and separatist notion that we are this group or that, of all the peoples in the Nation, the politicians should be the voice of solidarity.  Of unity.  They should be urging us to embrace our brother and sister because they are our fellow American.  Not showing their collective backsides as to how petty and self-absorbed they can be.  We have reality TV and soap operas for that.

No matter how far left or right the politicians are, it is their responsibility to lead us by example in the manners of being everything that is good about our Country - the strength, the compassion, the power, the belief that we live in the best country in the World.  We are one Nation.  Not petty, squabbling fiefdoms.

Or are we?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Long Time...

Well Life always makes it - interesting -  and i am so far behind in posting i'm quite sure people believe this blog is defunct (that's a cool word).  But rest assured, i am alive and kicking though a bit bedraggled and worn.  Since my Father passed, i have moved from California to Florida.  Many of you followed my journey across the States on my YouTube Channel - thanks for the support.

So i've finally settled into Pensacola and am now back to getting creative.  Hopefully entertaining too!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two Years Before The Mast

The Hawaiian Chieftain and the Lady Washington at days' end.

I’ve always had this thing for nautical books and movies.  I grew up around the water, fishing boats, and listening to my Father spin tales of his time in the Navy.  I had my own catamaran with my own adventures and water craziness.  So “this thing” is really a romantic obsession. But my romance is tied, if you pardon me, hook, line, and sinker, to the loveliness of the old ships, the great wooden vessels with creaking decks and billowing sails.  Over the years I’ve added a list of ships and boats I’ve been aboard; once I even had the pleasure to sail three days and nights aboard the lovely ship, the Hawaiian Chieftain. 
So it came as a surprise to me, when I realized that I had never read Two Years Before The Mast.  I mean, it doesn’t get more nautical than that.  How I’ve managed to skip this book is a mystery.  But I’ve read it now and am on my second reading - what a superb read! 
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the book, it is a true account of Richard Henry Dana who sailed on the brig Pilgrim from Boston harbor to San Francisco in the early 1800’s – before California was part of the United States.  Mr. Dana’s description of life as a common “Jack” stood in opposition to his previous life as an undergraduate at Cambridge.  He made the leap from academia to nautical adventure much like any of us would – with a great deal more enthusiasm than knowledge.  But Mr. Dana not only writes a great narrative description of life aboard ship, he also does a remarkable job of telling his tale with a fresh eye and an open mind – an academian dissecting his subject with both child-like pleasure and objectivity.  And though I was so engrossed in his colorful descriptions that I could smell the salt air and feel the roll of the deck, I became particularly interested in Mr. Dana’s descriptions in the last chapter, Twenty-Four Years Later, where he, on re-visiting San Francisco, compares with a nostalgic eye the changes of the bay area.  I felt his sense of loss, especially since none of us have ever known what it was like to see nothing but rolling hills from shore to horizon.  I have always been saddened by the sight when driving to San Francisco to see nothing but freeways and a sea of rooftops as far as the eye can see.  Reminiscing with Dana made me sigh with longing.

Two Years Before The Mast is a terrific read on all accounts.  Though, if you’re not up on your sailor jargon you might have a difficult time getting making heads or tails of it.  Nautical speak is a language of its own – larboard and starboard, reefing sails, hawse, leeward, lay out, all hands, eight bells – and a whole dictionary of terms that would take half a lifetime to learn properly.  But if you read the book, you’ll be itching to get on the water afterwards for sure – even if it’s in a dingy.  This is one of the best historical books I’ve read in a very long time and it will certainly be a book I will read time and again.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Gulf Islands National Seashore

I’m in love.  In love with the Ocean.  With the sugar white beaches.  With the Laughing Gulls, the Great Herons, and the seriously laid-back Brown Pelicans.  But I have found a new love.  The Gulf Islands National Seashore, specifically, the Perdido Key Area at Johnson’sBeach.  Oh yup.  The National Seashore has been there for many, many years.  I was born in Pensacola and grew up on the beach so this is nothing new to me.  But there has been this slow build-up of experience – of walking the beach for miles to sort out the junk in my head.  Of splashing with the fish and singing with the gulls.  I’ve had time to wear this beach like a favorite pair of jeans or cotton shirt and they’re now worn and comfortable.  It’s been said that anything really worth having and worth falling in love with, takes time.  So true.  My love runs deep like the Ocean.      

Many folks understand this love of the water.  But what may surprise some is that, for me, this love extends to the people who sweat and toll to keep this park in working order.  My Father used to ask me why I would pay to go to the Gulf Islands National Seashore when there was free public beach access all around.  I answered simply, because I felt safe.   And I do feel safe, but the real answer is more complicated than that.  The work that the Rangers, volunteers, and behind-the-scenes workers do is just amazing and inspiring.  Cleaning beaches and bathrooms; repairing equipment, signs, buildings, and fences; answering questions from the curious and sometimes ignorant public; building sites and protecting baby turtles and seabirds; keeping law and order; re-introducing native flora; re-building the dunes; keeping the public safe and aware of hazards; and even helping a woman jump a dead battery on her jeep (that would be me) – that is the duty these people face every day they work here.  And it’s a hot, sweaty, and often thankless job.  One that must sometimes be extremely trying as one storm after another rolls across the island, washing away their hard work, knowing tomorrow they will have to start all over again.  How heart-breaking that must be.  As a volunteer myself at the Maidu Museum andHistoric Site in Roseville, CA, I understand from first-hand experience how many hours, dedication, and passion goes into protecting and maintaining a site.   

Just recently, as the park hunkered down for the onslaught of Hurricane Isaac, I spoke with one of the Rangers there.  He, like everyone I’ve spoken with there, was about as nice a person as you could ever hope to meet.  He was an easy-going, happy, and passionate person who believed in what he was doing.  We spoke for a few minutes.  As I started to drive away I told him, “Thank you for everything you do.”  His face beamed with a warm smile and replied, “Thank you!  You made my day!”  Honestly given, honestly received. 

So here’s a hearty and very special shout out to all those who work at Gulf Islands National Seashore, both paid and volunteer.  You are talented, honest, hard-working people who manage a difficult but worthy endeavor.  And no matter how rough the job gets, you do it with a smile.  Thank you.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Corry Field Columns Mystery Update!

Well - I was very fortunate to make a little headway into the mystery of the Corry Field Columns that i posted on just a few weeks ago.  I sent out emails to several different people and organizations in Pensacola and received a reply from Curt Lawson, Buehler Library, NNAM, NAS Pensacola, FL.  Here's his reply:

The pillars, now south of the new Veterans Hospital, were once one of the field boundary light arrangement to enable safe night flying from the early days of Corry Field. They were used between 1927 and 1934 to light the southern edge of the landing field that was only a grass area at the time (i.e. no runways). The lights had electrical and a gas system for added light augmentation as needed. The pillars are 15 to 20 feet tall and each held a 7 foot tall light as shown in an attachment.  Two additional sets of shorter pillars were located along the western and northern field boundaries. These lights permitted safe clearance of trees and lit the landing areas for the early biplanes (without any on-board lights). Additional lighting and runway construction was started after 1934 as aircraft and airfield development proceeded.

He also included a photo of the original lights that topped the columns: