Monday, January 15, 2024

What Happened?

 A friend of mine was going through a tough time after losing his dog to a sudden but fatal illness.

I remembered that I wrote a piece many years ago about an incident I experienced at an animal shelter, looked it up and sent him the link.

In true Rip Van Winkle style, where has the time gone?  I remembered blogging almost daily, hundreds of words.  Stories, lies, observations, recipes and all sorts of things part of the Melting Pot of Life, as my blog subtitle proclaims.  

Was it Facebook that sucked all the creativity out of the Blogging World?  Possibly.  I spent a lot of time on Facebook, possibly posting as many words, but less effectively.  Blowing dust instead of throwing a rock.

I miss blogging and perhaps it's time to get the old blog back on its feet.  Less fluff, more substance.

I also think the World needs this.  To wake up.  Get back to business and realize that "likes" and "LOL's" are no substitute for real human contact.  Mind to mind.

Of course, after all this time, I'm writing this for myself.  Can I put my fingers on the keyboard where my mouth is?  That is the question!

Sunday, June 20, 2021

On Manual

 On Manual

“What do you think about kids?” my wife asked.

“They’re OK,” I replied.

That was the only time we talked about kids to my recollection.  Maybe all those other conversations have been obliterated by cosmic rays or something, but that’s the one I remember.

We were walking to our home in London from the pub.  Our spirits were high having downed a couple of pints of London Pride, a highly spirited ale.

Married only a few months we had not really discussed kids.  We were both students working to finish our degrees, looking for that first job.   The prospect of settling down and having a bunch of kids was far, far out on the horizon.

Yes, far, far away.  Way, way out there.  An infinite, cosmic expanse of time.

Four years, to be exact.

Walking into the delivery room at 6 o’clock in the morning was a far cry from that gentle evening’s stroll home not so many years ago.  Circumstances had changed considerably.  Totally out of character, my wife urged me to run red lights.

“Hospital,” she gasped, “now.  Don’t stop.  Don’t stop!”  It was the gasping and instructions that got us in to this situation in the first place, but instinct told me now was not the time to address fine historical points.  Just drive.

The delivery room operated in two completely different space-time continuums:  a speedy, fast get-things-done-now time for us, and a slow-motion, laid back, whatever time for the medical staff.  While I flitted from bed to door to monitoring equipment to bed to door, the doctors and nurses moved in sloth-like slowness, very deliberately and with no concern.

“Are you trained?”

I stopped in my tracks and turned to the nurse who asked the question.

“Trained?  No, I’m not a doctor, that is, not a medical doctor I’m a chemist but I don’t do much chemistry and I work with computers and,” I babbled, but the nurse cut me short.

“Have you and your wife taken childbirth classes?” she asked.

I looked into her eyes which showed the patience of a thousand births and said, “Yes, but we haven’t finished the course.”

She smiled and said, “You’ll finish the course this morning.  You have work to do.  Here’s a damp cloth and some ice chips.”

Wow, it was just like the film.  I began to apply what I had learned and shortly became a world class expert in Brow Wiping and Ice Chip Delivering.

I was surprised by how fast it all ended.  Suddenly, the doctor appeared, there was a flurry of activity and through the ruckus I heard someone say “Nice catch!” and “It’s a little girl.”

I was a father.

I had a daughter and I knew her name because we had only decided on names the night before.  I heard the nurses calling out the numbers and statistics, and I knew what they meant because I had studied for months.  I was prepared for the name and the numbers but I was not prepared for the nurse and the baby.

“Here’s your daughter.”

“What?  Oh, uh, maybe you should give her to my wife.  She’s the baby person.  Over there.  I’ll hold her later, heh, heh, OK?”

The nurse fixed me with a gaze that would have defeated Alexander.

“Sit down now so you can hold your daughter.  I’ll show you how,” she said gently, unblinking.

I sat in the chair and the nurse handed me my daughter instructing me to hold her body here and support her head there.

I was as rigid as a statue.  Looking back, I think it was the first time in my entire life I had held a live baby.  Not the doll or sack of flour like we used in the class, but a real baby; a real person.  I tried to smile and look nonchalant but I was relieved when the nurse told me my time was up and we had to go.

Over the next few days I got a chance to hold my daughter a few times and we fell into a routine in the hospital.  Feeding, cleaning, visiting and back to the nursery.  Life was grand.

When it came time for us to go home there was great fanfare in the ward.  We were given a ceremonious wheelchair ride to the front door, presented a cart of balloons, flowers and supplies, packed into our car and sent on our way.

Our house was quiet.  I unpacked all the stuff and Helen took our daughter to her room for a feeding and a nap.

That’s when it hit me like a brick wrapped in a diaper, like a face-full of strained prunes, like a cry at 2 AM.  What do I do now?

I couldn’t believe that the hospital let us take a baby home and we don’t even have a manual.  How could they be so irresponsible?  All the classes we took taught us how to get us to this point, but what do we do now?

Not only had I never changed a real diaper on a real baby but where was I going to find a baseball glove for hands that small?  I had more questions than answers.

Little did I know, that would never change.

There is something to be said for the phrase “day by day.”  Just take it one day at a time, they say.  Each day was a new adventure and we were amazed how excited we were at little changes.  Sitting up was a big deal.  Crawling gave us personal entertainment.  Walking was a milestone and speaking drew us into rapt attention.

In time the manual wrote itself.  What they never told you is that your child will write the manual, adding a few words every day.  

As a father my job was to support the author, edit the work when I could and hope that the book would be a best seller.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

My Kitchen

I love my kitchen.

I'm the family cook and a good or great kitchen is essential to my well-being.

I love my kitchen.

My kitchen has two entrances and a central island.  It has bright lighting and lots of storage space.  The central island sports a gas cooktop and the double oven is self-cleaning upper and lower.  The Bosch dishwasher is totally silent.

My kitchen is perfect.

So what, you might ask?

Well, my attitude to cooking is affected by my environment.  When it's good, I'm good.  I've done my best cooking here:  Julia Child, Robert Carrier, Gordon Ramsay - you name it, I've cooked 'em.  Right here.  In a great environment.

Twenty years ago we were looking to move to a bigger house.  After many many visits our realtor took me here and as soon as I walked into the kitchen I knew this was the place.  Although the house was way out of our price range, the total perfectness of the kitchen was too much to simply ignore.  We improvised some creative financing and, twenty years later, here we are.

Such magnificent feasts and parties we have produced!  It's been a great experience and I feel joy every time I walk into my perfect kitchen.

Monday, November 11, 2019

The War

Dad was an Army Captain in the 864th Engineering Battalion, Ft. Lewis, Washington, and served in the South Pacific from 1943 to 1946. Dad did not talk about the war and the only story we had was that he fell on a basketball court and skinned his nose requiring medical treatment. Ha, ha, what a lark it must have been!
Not so. I found out years later after he died what he and the 200 men in his command endured. The Army engineers supported the infrastructure on captured islands and bases held by the Marines. They built and repaired airstrips, by hand, built and maintained roads, hospitals and landing points. They did this while under constant enemy fire, bombings, attacks and in an environment where disease could incapacitate half the company.
Here are some excerpts from a daily diary written by one of the "grunts" under Dad's command. It was no cake walk and Dad never told us a thing:
Nov. 24, 1943 Lae (New Guinea)
The men are becoming uneasy. 7 Zeroes attacked one of our Liberators but were driven off. We saw the bombay doors open up and the men ready to bail out. Then the bombays closed and it made a beautiful forced landing. They didn't bail out because one of the pilots was shot in the head. Another raid at 9:15, but our Ack Ack drove them off. Boy, those J's got nerve.
Nov. 28, 1943
Back to working on hospital buildings ... concrete floors ... those sacks of cement weigh 94 lbs each. We work very hard on a 6 hour on, and 6 hour off schedule.
Dec. 3, 1943
The 808 and 864th made history today. we completed the 28 mile road from Lae to Nabzad with a loss of only 3 men., Most of our outfit is stationed here at Lae. Some of our heavy equipment operators are at Mandana and a few located at Finnschaven. Red alert tonight ... no casualties.
Dec. 17, 1943
Our advanced bulldozer and grader operators are back from Rumu Valley. They were really shot up. Five of the men from One Company and 3 from B Company aren't coming back. The big D-12 Cat was grenaded. What a mess! Things were pretty sad tonight. Hellped Peterdson splice a wire to repair his guitar. A Liberty ship with some troops just came in. We will be travelling soon with just our field packs.
Jan 16, 1944
Built another bridge and a light proof hut for developing photos. The mud out here is really bad. When some one dies or gets killed, they roll them into a matress cover and toss them into a deep hole. At 1:30 AM 2 personnel bombs were dropped, ripping holes into the air strip and killing 4 CB's and wounding 18. Goddamn, our radar had screwed and they caught us with our lights on and our pants down ... much damage was done.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Wake-Up Call

Every morning I get a wake-up call by this guy, Q the Cat.

Q is our rescue cat, "res CUE" being the origin of his name.

I give Mr. Q a lot of deference because of the hard life and near death experience he had as a kitten.  Mr. Q is special and I treat him specially.

Q has always been a hungry cat and he get's hungry some time between midnight and 6 AM.  He will let me know that he's ready for chow by a nip to the elbow or a gentle paw to my head.

If anything, Q is very polite.  He paws me or nips me gently letting me know he's up for some Tuna.

Of course, I respond.  It's become a nightly ritual for a YEAR!  I get up, have a drink of water, stumble around to find the cat food, feed Q and go back to bed.  He never bugs me after that.

I don't begrudge Q's nocturnal habits.  After all, Q had a hard life and nearly died at the hands of uncaring, despicable people.  It is my honor to give the little guy some Kat Fud in the dead of night.

Saturday, November 09, 2019

Powers of 19

1869 - Grandfather 1-year old, living on a farm in Missouri
1879 - Grandfather still living on the farm.
1889 - Grandfather working as an accountant in Oklahoma.
1899 - Grandfather married with two children in Oklahoma.
1909 - Grandfather widower, children being raised by his late wife’s family
1919 - Father born to Grandfather’s second wife.
1929 - Father being raised by late mother’s family in Missouri.
1939 - Father at University of Montana
1949 - Father surviving WW2 married Mother.
1959 - Billy’s second grade teacher reconsiders career choice.
1969 - Bill rushed by Joe Reihl and Greg Wagner to join Kappa Sigma at NAU.
1979 - Received PhD and married Dr. Helen.
1989 - Building first house, three kids, survived 4 company layoffs.
1999 - Transferred to Houston, survived 8 company layoffs.
2009 - Retired having survived 17 layoffs, held a book signing at Barnes and Noble.
2019 - Here we are. Kids with their own careers. Bill awards 7th scholarship to Women in Chemistry at NAU.
2029 - Damn kids still on my lawn.
2039 - Jim White inducted into the Saxophone Hall of Fame
2049 - Rocket scientist S. Farrell invents anti-gravity belt because “Dad always wanted one.”
4069 - Brain transferred Doc Bill probe enters orbit of Alpha Omicron Pi-5 for planetary observation.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Bathroom Remodel

Do we have to do this?  Sort of yes, sort of no.

Yes, that we would like to have a new "look" to the Master Bathroom and Closets, update the fixtures, install LED's and new plumbing.

No, for the mess.

Well, you can't have one without the other.  

So much has changed since our house was built.  New shower and bathroom fixtures, lighting, flooring and stuff like heated towel rails.

Alas, by staying at fancy hotels in recent years we have been exposed to the possible which led us to the impossible decision of having a major room in our house re-done.

Our builder, an amazing and very modern person, was able to take pictures of our current very large master bathroom and superimpose his model of the transformation.  Truly astounding!  The tile, the lighting, the cabinets and the plumbing fixtures all laid out in color and 3-D. 

I say let the jackhammering begin!  More later.