Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Trip

Before I talk myself out of it, let me tell you about the trip home (to California).

I hadn't flied since before 9/11, so I hadn't experienced all the little changes that have taken place with security - the liquids, the gels, the shoes, the tiny metal things that might be used as weapons. So I didn't know what to expect. I knew that I needed to be at the airport plenty early, especially since I was flying standby. (My brother used to work for United and gets "companion" tickets that are much, much cheaper than real tickets.) I'd also checked online to find out about the gels, liquids, etc.

I made a pre-flight shopping trip to get the tiny things that I needed. I got some tiny shampoo and conditioner. Tiny lotion. Tiny deodorant. Tiny tootpaste. Tiny mouthwash. Tiny hand sanitizer. I put them all in a quart-size, transparent, plastic zipper bag. With my non-tiny items (Blistex, for example) it was a tight squeeze. I'd read on the TSA website that the items need to fit "comfortably" in the bag, and they didn't look comfortable to me, so I took out the mouthwash and hand sanitizer. I put this bag of stuff in the end pocket of my carry-on bag. I'd decided not to check luggage since it gets lost and can be a hassle. Besides, I was only going home for a few days.

I packed a pair of jeans, a couple of t-shirts, undies, bras, socks and a pair of shoes. I forgot to pack my flip-flops. Fortunately mom had an extra pair.

I added some electronic stuff - mp3 player, earphones, etc.

That was about all I needed. I was traveling in the clothes I would wear to the memorial service, so I didn't need to pack anything for that.

I drove up to Dallas, to my brother's house. I was flying non-stop from DFW to San Francisco (SFO). Good idea when going standby. You don't want to get stuck some place halfway home without a flight. My brother and his family were already in California, so a friend of theirs who was house- and pet-sitting drove me to the airport. (Thanks, Laura.) It was a short and uneventful drive.

When I got to the airport it was not crowded at all. Security was a breeze. I got my ticket from the automatic ticket machine, walked up to security, took off my shoes, put all requested items in the plastic totes, and breezed through. (I think I could have sneaked my little swiss pocket knife through. They really didn't seem to be paying that much attention.)

With security behind me, I had two hours to wait for my flight. Wait. Wait. Walk a little. Wait. Eat some fries. (There was a McD's in the terminal.) Wait. Walk some more. Visit the shops. Wait. Use the bathroom.

Finally we board the flight - some sort of "Airbus" - I forget the nomenclature. I'm seated near the emergency exit, but before I can sit there I have to promise that I will help if there is an emergency. Sure, I can help. Twenty-two years of military service and experience should be good for that, at least! The person next to the exit appears to be a United pilot in uniform, and there is a seat between us.

Here's something I didn't expect: lots of leg room! I ask, when did this start? I'm told that it's common in whatever class I'm in. Economy Plus, I think. The seats cost a little more, but you can actually move. And you don't end up with the private parts of your seatmates in your face when they have to get up and visit the lavatory. So the flight was very comfortable, and the flight attendant (I almost wrote "stewardess") was really nice. I think she thought I was an ex-employee because of my ticket. But she was nice to everyone. Just a little nicer to me!

The flight was a short three hours so we didn't get a meal. We got a "snack." A tiny bag of mini pretzels! Of course, we got free beverages, but I didn't want to drink too much because I hoped to avoid the lavatory. Didn't work. The lavatories haven't changed a bit. They're still way too small, and the plane always experiences turbulence as soon as my pants come down!!

Arrival at SF, and my older brother had to drive around twice to find me. His instructions were to "go to the baggage claim area and then go all the way to the right - there will be some chairs there. Then go outside and wait." Well, I went almost all the way to the right. There were lots of chairs. I finally went outside to find a no parking, no loading, no unloading, no standing, no breathing, no nothing buss stop. I suspected I was in the wrong place. Thank goodness for cell phones. I called, he broke the law by answering while driving, and I found out that I'd gone too far. So "all the way" didn't really mean "all the way." I'm a linguist, but I apparently missed that class!

I soon found where I was supposed to be, and my brother found me, and we drove to my mom's house in Santa Clara.

I was surprised to find my cousin Ed in the car. I didn't recognize him at first. It's been so long since I've seen my cousins I don't recognize most of them. I spent a lot of the time at home asking people who they were!

Let's call this part one, and end it here. I'll get to part two another time. As you can see, this has become a very long post. Next time I'll tell you about my time in California.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Speaking of Sixth Grade...

I have three distinct memories of that time and that particular classroom - the one where I had my English class. One is the limerick incident. The second is of an in-class spelling bee we had. I came in second. I knew the word that I misspelled, but misspelled it anyway. Don't know why. Maybe it was some subconscious thing. I don't remember the word I missed.

The third memory I have of that classroom was the day President Kennedy was shot. That's where I was. An announcement came over the PA system saying he'd been killed, and asking for one minute of silence. During that one minute I giggled a bit because I'd never heard our classroom ever be that quiet!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sixth Grade Homework

One of my homework assignments in sixth grade english was to write a limerick. They're pretty simple to write, but I guess I didn't think so back then. Instead of writing my own, I submitted one that was obviously above my sixth grade english level:

There was a young lady from Lynn
Who was so exceedingly thin
That when she essayed
To drink lemonade
She slipped through the straw and fell in.

For some reason I have thought about that many times over the years. It's pretty easy for me to write simple limericks these days. Maybe that's why. I wrote one a couple of weeks ago which I will share with you now. Should my sixth grade english teacher ever read this, I hope it will make her happy. (I have no idea what her name was.)

Sue struggled and struggled one night.
A limerick she needed to write.
But try as she may
She had nothing to say
So the page remained totally white.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Home again, home again, jiggidy jig

Back in Texas. The flight(s) was(were) uneventful. Only three hours by air. Still, I had to get up and use that tiny bathroom once.

The furkids (dogs and cats) were extremely happy to see me.

It's pretty late so I'll write about the trip later.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beautiful, Beautiful California

The pain of my brother's death has started to subside a little. I've sort of worked things out for myself about who he was and why he died. I'm still in California. I did't fly home tonight as I was planning to do because I'm going standby and the flight looked pretty much booked. So I changed to a flight leaving tomorrow morning.

In the past few days I've fallen in love again with California. The weather can not be beat. It's been cool during the days and cooler during the nights (about 70 degrees during the day). There's absolutely no humidity. I've decided I need to get back out here somehow.

For comparison, right now central Texas is about 100 degrees during the days and about 80 degrees during the night with LOTS of humidity.

The cost of living is way too high, so it may be awhile before I can get here. But I'm going to be thinking about it and, if I can figure a way, I'm here.

If anyone out there knows or is willing to be my sugar daddy, please let me know. Or if you're just wealthy and very generous, let me know. I'll need some capital!

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Today was the day of my youngest brother's memorial service. Coming to this memorial service was a blessing. I have learned so much about my little brother. The memorial chapel was packed full of friends and family. My brother touched more lives than I ever imagined, and he was loved by so many people. He wasn't a "practicing Christian," but I'm convinced that he was doing God's work. I think that God must have used him as an angel to help so many people in so many different ways. I don't have the words to describe how overwhelmed I am with all the love that exists for my little brother. Sure, he was a pain in some asses sometimes, but obviously not much, because so many people are mourning his passing. We know that God works in mysterious ways, and Charlie was one of the mysteries of God. I suppose God saw that Charlie had a good heart and so God put him to work! And when Charlie's work was done, God called him home. I'm sure it will be some time before I completely understand what I'm feeling about all of this.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Lost and Michael Emerson

I've become a big fan of Michael Emerson since he has started playing Ben on my favorite TV show, Lost. He's an excellent actor who had managed to scare the crap out of viewers of several TV shows and movies. One of my favorite Ben scenes from the series can be seen on YouTube. This is early on before we know exactly who Ben is. To watch the clip, click here. Oh, and he's been nominated for an emmy!!

New Product

Everyone needs one of these.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


These are a couple of pictures of Charlie when he was young.


I know what "in shock" feels like. I've been in shock for a couple of days. Worse yesterday. I couldn't focus. At all. Part of my brain is trying to wrap itself around the idea that my youngest brother has died. Part of my brain is trying to think of much-less-important things, like flights, and plans, and ounces of gels in clear zipper bags. I just stopped. That was all I could do. I sat down and looked at the TV. Eventually I tried to sleep. I slept about two hours. I finally got to sleep, then when I had to get up to pee (damn old age), I couldn't go back to sleep.

I'm doing better today. I still have things to do and I'm having a hard time getting started. I have time, though. I won't be flying home until Friday, so I have a couple of days to get organized.


I haven't seen much of my youngest brother at all since I joined the Army in 1971. During my 22 years of service I visited once in a while. Not often enough. Since I retired in 1993, I have only been home once, I think. Family members have come to visit me, but never Charlie. Everyone else had the money and/or the means to come visit. Charlie didn't. I wish he had. We'd sort of hinted at the idea a few times that he should come down and visit me here in Texas. He probably would have fit right in. But he never came.

During my last tour overseas, I occasionally talked on the phone with my mom. She'd call me or I'd call her. Almost every time Charlie would get on the phone and we'd chat for a little while. During one phone call he said something I'd never heard from a family member before. He said, "I love you." I was so touched that it brought tears to my eyes. By saying that he taught me that it wasn't hard to say, and it was a good thing to say. Since then I've been saying, "I love you" at the end of all my family phone conversations.

The last time I talked with Charlie on the phone wasn't too long ago. I'm comforted by the fact that I know our last words to each other were, "I love you." I can here his voice now saying, "I love you, Sis."

I love you too, Charlie. Rest in peace.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Very Unexpected Death in the Family

I received word today that my youngest brother, Charlie, has died. We're not sure yet of the cause. My mom found him dead on the floor yesterday - Sunday. We think it was his heart, but we're waiting to hear from the coroner.

Charlie was 47 years old. Never married, no kids. I was told he had just broken up with his girlfriend. (No, we don't think it was suicide.)

Mom is holding it together. Jake, Charlie's dad and my step-dad, had a sort of anxiety attack, I guess, but he's okay now. I'm trying not to think about it. If I do I start crying.

I'll be going home for a few days for a memorial service. Charlie will be cremated and his ashes will be scattered with his dog's ashes in a place where they both loved to go hunting.

Take some time to tell the people in your life that you love them. You never know when time will run out.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Okay, I'm not so tired. I slept most of the day. It was my one day off after working six. The last three of those were 10-hour days. You see, we had an employee get fired, so we've been short handed. That, along with the holiday weekend, meant that I had to work some long shifts. Not a bad thing, really, when you think about the overtime and the holiday pay.

As for what I wanted to blog about, I have no idea. I forgot. So I'll try to remember and then blog about them in the near future.

I DO want to draw your attention to the newly forming Umbrella Hat Society. If you like to have fun and don't take life too seriously, you need to join the Umbrella Hat Society. That's what we're about - having fun. All you need to do is own an Umbrella Hat. You can get them real cheap in a lot of places. I've bought a couple of them. Do a google search for umbrella hats. Do an eBay search for umbrella hats. Ebay will be cheaper.

It doesn't matter what kind of umbrella hat you own. I have one that's the traditional red, yellow, blue and green, and one that has a patriotic theme. My next one will be green camouflage. After you get your hat, take a picture and send it to umbrellahatsociety@gmx.com. Then it will be added to the Umbrella Hat Society website. Then just go out and have some fun. Form a chapter. There are no dues, no responsibilities. Just fun.


I'm not kidding.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Too tired to blog

I wanted to blog tonight. I have a couple of things to blog about. But I'm too tired, and it's getting late, so I'm not going to blog.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Donnie Darko

I'm a big fan of the TV show "Lost." Someone on one of the Lost groups mentioned Donnie Darko, so I decided to watch it. I'm not good at reviewing movies. I can only tell you if I liked it or not. I liked it. It was a little bizarre, which is fine. It kept my attention until the end. Whether it is relevant to the TV show "Lost" is yet to be seen. Both deal with time travel, to a degree. We'll have to wait a couple of seasons to find out how relevant it may or may not be.

Work, work, work

I mowed the lawn today. I do that from time to time, but almost never after I come home from work! But the lawn needed to be mowed, and there are several hours of daylight left after I get home. So I figured, what the heck! I'll get it done today and then I won't have to do it over the weekend. Another reason I picked today was that I work a swing shift tomorrow, so I can sleep a little later. That used to make sense to me, but now that I'm putting it in my blog, it doesn't make as much sense as it did before. I mean, I finished the lawn a couple of hours ago, and it's only 8:00 p.m. Still light outside and far too early to go to bed. So I guess I could mow the lawn any day after work, regardless of what I'm doing the next day.