Category Archives: Family

Opening Day

It’s opening day for my two favorite baseball teams – the bad news is that they were playing each other. I guess the good news is that I had to be at least half happy with the result.

Baseball has a special place in my heart, having played the game as a kid and having coached my kids in it as an adult. I have many happy memories from my childhood of games seen in Kansas City’s old Municipal Stadium. The A’s weren’t very good, but it was always fun, and there were a lot of weekend double headers.

As an adult, I’ve had a lot of fun going to games in Anaheim (and occasionally in Chavez Ravine) with wives, kids, family, and friends. We still do – do a search for the “LA Angels” tag and you can find plenty of posts. When we travel we try to hit major and minor league parks for a game, and if the Angels are playing against the locals, so much the better. Fenway, Comisky, Safeco – we’ve followed them from one side of the country to the other.

If we need some background noise while working on something, there’s nothing better than a baseball game. There’s a rhythm, a cadence to a baseball broadcast, something that also harkens back to childhood. In the early 1960’s we didn’t have every game on television like we do today. We were lucky to get one game a week, and it rarely was our team. There was no such thing as a local broadcast station or network. If you weren’t there, you listened on the radio. I did a LOT of listening on the radio.

Even now, on a long cross-country trip in the summer, there’s nothing better at night than to pull in some far away broadcast on a clear-channel station. On a good night in the desert you can hear games from San Francisco, Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, Houston. When my family first moved to Vermont and I was missing my friends, my music, and my Cubbies, on a good night I could pull in the broadcast for a few minutes before it faded out.

Not every game’s a gem. It truly is a long season. But that’s part of it all.

I grew up with the game and my kids did as well. I may have screwed up a few things as a parent, but that wouldn’t be one of them. The Youngest Daughter was at opening night in Anaheim tonight with her boyfriend. We’ve been to a lot of home openers, but it was not to be for me tonight. But it’s great to have spring training over, the games counting, and hope springing eternal.

Losing 9-0 in the bottom of the ninth? We’ve got ’em right where we want ’em! It’s hero time!

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Filed under Family, LA Angels, Sports

All Together Now!

  It’s been years since the whole family has been together. 

Our son has been stationed overseas for years. Our daughters have been on various continents for months and years at a time, and while they’re back in California now, it’s a big state.

We’ll see them individually from time to time, and sometimes in pairs. Rarely all three. 2006 in St. Louis. 2011 (?) spring training in Phoenix.

This time it’s San Jose for Consonance, a small science fiction convention which centers around filk music. (I’ll explain later.)

For a day we’re together. With The Younger Daughter’s boyfriend, that’s a table for six.

(Thanks to Jim Robinson for taking our picture for me!)

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Filed under Family, Fandom, Science Fiction

2016 – Known Knowns

Yesterday I looked back at my highly dynamic, roller coaster, schizophrenic year in 2015. Today, let’s see what’s on the horizon for 2016, at least as well as we can see anything into the future.

The two big events I see are a “milestone” birthday (inevitable) and a change in residence for the first time in over twenty-five years (very high probability). As for the first, if you can’t avoid something like that, you might as well screw around with it and everything associated with it, so stand by. As for the second, with the pets all gone and the kids all grown and moved out, it’s not only unnecessary for The Long-Suffering Wife and me to occupy a five-bedroom home by ourselves, it’s downright silly. And expensive.

Along with that necessary move will be the associated task of sorting through twenty-five-plus years of stuff. I’m sure there will be much grumbling and pissing and moaning and complaining as we have to go through room after room and do the “toss/donate/keep” determination. (FYI, I’ll be the one doing the whining – I like stuff.) But that process actually started earlier in 2015, so now I just need to get it in gear big time.

I expect much of the first part of 2016 to be occupied primarily by me work schedules between my paid, full-time job at Habitat For Humanity and my unpaid, part-time job at CAF Socal. It’s obvious which one has priority, but I’ll be busy with both of them doing taxes, year-end closing, and audits through March and April, as well as simply getting settled into the job at Habitat.

It’s unlikely that we’ll be doing anywhere near as much travelling as I did last year, simply because I won’t have any accrued vacation time until at least the end of the year. We would like to get to New York City in July for our 15th anniversary, or to Kansas City for Worldcon in August, but it might at best be one or the other. Or it might just be three-day weekends where we have holidays. We’ll see.

In addition, my opportunities to go to any NASA Socials will be severely restricted do to employment commitments. As Super Chicken said, “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it, Fred!”

I would like to start flying again this year. I’ll need to get my medical certification current (not that big of a deal) and I’ll need to get a few hours of lessons under my belt to become comfortable in the cockpit again (it’s been three years), but after that I’ll simply need to start building up some time and getting my flying skills re-honed. Once that happens, there are opportunities at the CAF to start training and qualifying to fly aircraft there, starting with our PT-19 trainer. That will be a big highlight for the 2016.

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions, but another personal goal this year will be to get back to running. As much as I hate thinking about going out, particularly when it’s cold or wet (or hot or dry), that’s just the “bad brain” talking. I know that I feel better after a run, and I feel better overall about myself and everything else when I’m running regularly. It’s time to start again.

Oh, and if my beloved Chiefs can win the Super Bowl, my beloved Kings can win the Stanley Cup, and my beloved Angels could win the World Series, that would be great as well. Just a suggestion for any of the gods that might be listening who think I’ve been good and need a treat or reward. (What? Oh, yeah. Well… Okay.)

If that sounds a lot less “dynamic” than 2015, bordering on outright boring and dull, well, that will be okay with me. I burned enough adrenaline in 2015, both good and bad. I suspect I’ll be busy as hell all year and stressed with time pressures from a number of sources, but I’m hoping that it’s nothing life and death. Literally.

What does your 2016 look like?

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Filed under CAF, Family, Flying, Paul, Travel

Two Hundred Ninety-Eight Cards

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The Long-Suffering Wife and I bit the bullet today and signed, folded, stuffed, addressed, stamped, sealed, and mailed our 297 deluge of Christmas cards today.

It would have been more (it was 350 last year, and the list has grown to about 375 this year) but the card company we’ve used for a dozen years decided this was the year to screw things up. It was bad enough that they don’t have the “airplane theme” cards that we’ve loved for years, but the order got shorted by about 25% and by the time I yelled all they could do is issue a refund.

Next year we design our own cards!

Watch the mails, yours is coming. (Probably.)


Filed under Castle Willett, Family

The Roller Coaster Continues


Already the pee-mail is piling up in the front yard from Jessie’s friends.

I don’t know who’s going to read all of that, but it’s not me. And I’m sure as hell not going to try to answer any of it!

Seriously, our thanks to all of our friends and family, those we know face-to-face and those we know only online, those we see every day and those we see every five years, all of whom have been there to support us in the bad times and celebrate with us in the good.

Your kind words and thoughts are much appreciated.

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Filed under Castle Willett, Dogs, Family

Jessie The Pup (2001-2015)


We got her as a teeny, tiny pup.


The Long-Suffering Wife had a friend who had a litter of puppies to give away.


We went to see them and found this one – the trouble maker!


The one always nibbling at my shoelaces and trying to kill me.


Of course we took her.


She was not always the most dignified of puppies as she grew.


But she got to be beautiful as the brown and tan colors came out.


She was a jumper, so if you left her in the back yard and went to work, she would often meet you when you drove up, ears back because she knew she was in trouble.

She had a couple of memorable run ins with skunks.


When she was young, the ball was her most prized possession.

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She only let us use the kitchen. It was her domain because that’s where all the food is, and she knew that all the food was really hers.


She was as cool as the other side of the sheets.


She could be a happy, holiday dog…

Rudolph Jessie (cropped)

…if you didn’t destroy her pride by making her wear these stupid looking antlers.


She was always on the lookout for the dreaded, “Squirrel!!”


The front yard was her domain, where she would sit and survey the passing world for hours.


Toward the end, she was getting very gimpy, having some serious mobility issues.


The bathroom floor was one of her favorite places to sleep, because it was cool on her belly.


She would gnaw on a bone any time – she was vicious to the bones (and the ball), but gentle to everything else.

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Front yard domain, in front of “the rock” where I would sit with her.


Sleeping on carpet was acceptable if the air was cooler.


If not, sleeping in the dirt or on the back patio would work just fine.


In her later years, while I was unemployed and home most days, she would lie under my desk next to me for hours on end. I always thought she knew here time was near and she didn’t want to be alone if/when it ran out.


Jessie The Pup was a most excellent dog, the most spoiled rotten & pampered dog in at least Los Angeles, probably the world. She was smart, vocal, and had a bit of an attitude if she didn’t get what she wanted.

Jessie, the Pupster Beast, was a wonderful companion. We love her and are going to miss her.

Sleep tight, big girl. Say hello to the Lucky Puppy for us.


Filed under Dogs, Family, Photography

My Issues With Horses

One thing this site has brought me is some good friends who I have never met in person. One such would be the lovely woman who writes the “Musings From A Tangled Mind” blog. (It’s wonderful, you should subscribe and read regularly.)

The other day she posted this, I went and made some smartass comment (as is my wont), she responded with a goofy answer, and we went back and forth (see the comments section on her post), I ended up saying, “I’ve got some old issues with horses…” and she ended up saying, “I can tell. LOL 😀 You should tell that story too. Cause now I’m curious.”

Ok, I can tell this story half asleep (the first full week at the new job has been wonderful, but the days are long and my sleep is short), so here’s one for you, Wendy:

I was maybe nineteen. I’m pretty sure I was out of my parents’ house by that time. We were all living in Orange County, California, they in Huntington Beach and I in Westminster, a couple of exits north on the 405 Freeway.

There came to pass a weekend trip out to Temecula. These days Temecula is a land of wineries and hot air balloons, but in the mid 1970’s it was a dusty, small town out in the middle of the desert. We went to visit some long lost relative of my father’s, possible a cousin.

My father came from the dirt farmers of southeast South Dakota, and with very few exceptions (my father being one of them) they’re still dirt farmers. Or at least they have a lot of dirt farmer blood in them. (And before anyone gets their knickers twisted over the term “dirt farmer,” I learned it from them and they wear it as a badge of honor and pride, not an insult.)

My father’s cousin had the sort of place you can still see out in the desert,but they’ve moved out a hundred miles or so as the urbanization and gentrification has taken over. Now you find places like this out in Anza, Mohave, and Agua Dulce.

Nothing paved. Dirt, dirt, and more dirt. A nice A-frame house, just fine for one person. Rough fences everywhere, made mostly of really old, weathered, skinny, broken tree trunks. Plus the odd cactus and wad of barbed wire.

I’m the oldest of eight kids (it’s not just the dirt that’s fertile in southeast South Dakota) and we were all there. It was hot as hell, we were (as usual) fighting all the way for the two hour drive out there, and there was nothing to do. I doubt he even had a television to distract us, and this is way, WAY before the days of smart phones, pocket game consoles, and DirecTv.

At some point, the cousin asks if we want to go horseback riding. Sure, a couple of us will give it a shot even though it’s slightly hotter than the surface of the sun out there. Why not? At least if we get heat stroke we’ll get to ride in a nice, air conditioned ambulance to a nice, air conditioned emergency room.

Out to the barn and there are two horses. The first is named something like “Widowmaker T-Rex” and he looks a lot like those red-eyed, fire-breathing beasts the Ring Wraiths rode in the Lord of the Rings movies. The second is an old, old, old swayback mare who had three hooves already in the glue factory.

My youngest sister, who was ten or eleven at the time, walks up to the pawing, rearing, hell demon of a beast and starts petting its nose and the demon beast says, “Ooooh, yeah, that feels good! Right there. A little more towards that ear. Yes, right there!”

She mounts up, having to my knowledge never been on a horse in her life, and ten minutes later is doing moves like she’s trying out for the Olympic dressage team.

I’m her big brother, I can’t let her show me up!

I start to mount up, have problems, but eventually get on the swayback mare. Who sees demon beast prancing around out in the yard and sees her chance. She takes off like a bat out of hell out of the barn, through the corral, and toward the road. Freedom! Sweet freedom! Let my people go! With a hearty heigh-oh silver, away!

I’m clinging to her neck for dear life. As we head off down the road and I’m considering something stupid (like jumping off head first into some cactus while she’s running at top speed) or even more stupid (like trying to regain control – after all, I am the 19-year-old male human full of testosterone, right?) I hear in the distance, fading behind me, my father’s cousin yelling, “Just let her go and don’t fall off. She’ll come back home eventually on her own!”

Eventually she did, forty-five minutes to an hour later, with me still clinging to her neck for dear life and hurting in places that I didn’t know I had places.

There’s only one thing that could make it worse. Well, make that seven things, as in my brothers and sisters. The teasing was merciless.

Meanwhile, the swayback mare has had her fun and is now home, ready for a nap. She heads to the barn, through the corral – where my eight-and-a-half-years-younger-than-I  sister is still practicing dressage, yelling”Isn’t this cool! You should try it!”

Absolutely 100% (which equals 80% to 85% here) true, I swear.


Filed under Critters, Family, Paul