Andrew has been halfway around the world in the past week. He sends me lots of pictures, some of which I share with you here.
Six days ago he took off for California, and from there flew to Hawaii. From Hawaii he flew to Guam, eventually ending up in Kadena, Japan.
It wasn't a refueling trip -- although he says they'll be dragging F-22's on the way back to California this Saturday -- but rather a medical mission.
That meant he and the rest of the flight crew were ferrying doctors, nurses, and patients all over the place for various reasons.
Andrew -- as is his habit -- spent some time making cookies for everyone on the first leg of the trip.
Except, a particular "female" -- that's what Andrew calls all women in these situations; it cracks me up -- of the nursing persuasion, whined that she didn't get a cookie.
Well I don't know why; I made forty-eight of them, my son told her.
I can just hear him saying it. Not rudely at all, but with such dry wit. You'd have to know Andrew. He is the best storyteller, always original and a natural comic/mimic.
I do not know where he gets that.
On Wednesday I was at home when a face-time call came through. I sat in my TV room and talked to my son who in turn was sitting in the lobby of his hotel in Japan, fourteen hours ahead of me in time.
Seeing him on my iPhone screen and knowing where he was, was more than a trifle interesting.
He declared himself eager to fly out of Japan, but he'd have to wait several hours before takeoff.
On the ten-hour flight back to Hawaii, he said, they would see the sun go down, then come up again.
Crossing the International Date Line, he would then start January 22nd over, arriving in Hawaii at six o'clock on the morning of the day he had just lived in Japan.
The whole thing reminded Audrey and me of that inane movie Groundhog Day, which, as annoying as it is, is sort of unavoidable at this time of year unless you hide under a rock.
That day when Punxsutawney Phil looks around for his shadow, predicting the length of winter, being a mere ten days hence.
So then Audrey reminded me of the silly song Bill Murray is doomed to wake up to ad nauseam, playing on his bedside radio in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, every day when he's about to live it over again.
I was eight years old in 1965 but I remember this like it was yesterday. Or is it tomorrow.
What in the world is Cher wearing? It looks as though she shopped at the local museum of natural history. And did Sonny ask Robin Hood's blind barber to cut his hair? Was this always so corny, so blatantly cringe-worthy?
Discuss amongst yourselves.
TG and I spent the weekend in Charleston.
A mosey down memory lane; yes. A change of scenery; yes. Blogging fodder; yes.
All of the above. Everybody wins.
The swan song of our two-day sojourn in the Low Country was a visit to Circular Congregational Church -- Established 1681 -- yes; you read that correctly -- on Meeting Street.
In particular, we went there so that I could walk the magnificently mysterious Circular Church Graveyard.
TG, who in addition to being handsome is exceedingly gallant, dropped me off at the still-temptingly-open black wrought iron gate (If it's closed I will kill somebody! were my actual words, because after all it was Sunday and late in the day and yes I am sort of ashamed I said that but I am given to hyperbole and you may as well get used to it -- the rest of us have -- or click out) so I could go ahead and start living it up, and went to find a parking space.
When he apprehended me wandering amongst the tombs, fairly dizzy with joy (as we taphophiles are wont to be at such times), Nikon-ing away at this tombstoney detail and that, TG was chuckling nervously.
Turned out he'd parked in a lot alongside the church grounds, which daring maneuver should technically have set him back eight bucks.
So I put in a dollar, I don't think they mean on Sunday, and anyway I'm not paying eight dollars, TG said.
But he announced his intention to hang around over by the nearest means of egress to our vehicle, so that if someone official appeared who disagreed with TG's thinking vis-à-vis said parking arrangement, TG could walk over casually and negotiate.
I guess. I wasn't really listening all that well, to be perfectly candid, because when I'm in a cemetery my ears seem to hear only bells, and wind in tree branches. Everything else is muffled.
Let's pull over and park here for a mo.
There are times when all the stars align on a graving mission. The day's silken thread is about to break; what remains of the sunbeams gilds windows and puddles left over from rain; lightposts and other points of illumination begin to shine in the not-quite-gloaming; there is a whisper of past emotion in the cool but warm air; and in Charleston, heard through the sigh of Spanish moss dripping from the arms of lush Live Oaks and now-bony Crape Myrtles, there are bells.
Bells were ringing from steeples all up and down Meeting, Church, Queen, and Broad Streets. I am at a loss to describe how the whole thing sounded, how it looked, how it felt.
The best I can do is tame terms such as magical, mystical, almost miraculous. I was all but mesmerized.
Eventually I'd done what I came there to do, and the golden light was nearly gone. It was time to go home.
I rejoined my TG, who following a stroll around the graveyard to read stones, had again stationed himself near the gate from which he could see our car in its discount parking space, making sure he'd gotten away with it, and he was chuckling again, but merrily this time.
A lady came over and asked me if I was there waiting to lock everything up, he revealed as he helped me into the car.
We had a laugh at that because does a papaw in jeans and a Folly Beach sweatshirt look like a guy waiting to lock up a cemetery? Also ... well, if you want to know another reason, read this.
On the way home I tried to figure out how rich I'd be if I'd gotten a hundred-dollar bill for every time someone has asked me in a store or library -- once even in a museum -- if I worked there.
As in, was I available to help them.
I must have one of those faces, one of those demeanors, that looks like someone who is being paid to carry out the mission of whatever establishment, retail or otherwise, in which I happen to be occupying space.
No; I'm shopping -- or looking or waiting or whatever -- just like you, I always say with a smile. Sometimes I even offer to help anyway. Because I usually know what I'm doing even if I'm not paid to.
And on the eve of Martin Luther King Day as TG steered our car westward on I-26 toward Columbia and home, I thought of Michelle Obama's recent comments regarding her husband's having been mistaken for a waiter and a valet.
As in, before Barack Hussein Obama attained godlike status for being the first black US president, someone inside a restaurant thought he was a server (he was asked to get coffee) and someone outside a restaurant asked him to retrieve their car.
There’s no black male my age, who’s a professional, who hasn’t come out of a restaurant and is waiting for their car and somebody didn’t hand them their car keys, the President told People magazine.
Really? Mr. Obama knows for a fact that no black male professional in this entire country has escaped the horrible fate of another person mistaking them for someone designated to serve others?
Mrs. Obama asserted that on the occasion she shopped at Target after becoming FLOTUS, the only person who approached her was a lady who needed help reaching something on a high shelf.
Naturally, it follows that the (white) person asked Michelle for help not because the First Lady is tall, but because she is black and therefore must be rendered subservient.
Oh yes. The Obamas said it so it must be true. And because it's true, it's proof of the pernicious deep-seated racism embraced by all white Americans.
The only problem is, the only ones who see racism everywhere they look, are the racists. And that's not me.
That's why, when someone asks for my help, if I can give it to them, I do. And I'm glad for the opportunity to assist them. Why shouldn't I be?
Recently I needed something off a high shelf at Wal-Mart. Michelle Obama was nowhere to be seen but a gangly man walked by and, sensing the nature of my plight, kindly reached the item for me.
I didn't even have to ask for help. But I guess since we were both white, it all went so smoothly because we're united in our racism.
There was a huge kerfuffle last week when the Oscar nominations were announced. #OscarsSoWhite trended on Twitter for two days.
The bitter whining/complaining/grousing from black folks this time was because all of the nominees in the main categories were white. The consensus was that the black man who starred in Selma should have been nominated just because he is black. And the movie's director should have been nominated merely because she is black.
So, by their reasoning, a black actor who takes a role in which he depicts a black man who claimed to have a dream that black people would be judged not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character, is entitled to win an Oscar nomination -- and the award too, no doubt -- not because of the content of either his own character or that of the character he played, but simply because of the color of both their skins.
That's what you call ironic. And hey; no worries, y'all. Selma got a special screening at the White House. Something tells me they didn't serve fried chicken and watermelon.
It was caviar and champagne. The waiters were white.
Jesus said the greatest among you is the servant. I'm not trying to sound all goody-two-shoes or paint myself as virtuous in any way, but anybody who knows me can tell you, I'm happy to pour you a cup of coffee. I'll even make it, and bring it to you while you sit comfortably with your pillow and blankie. You may not even have to ask.
And I'm not too good to fetch your car for you either, if you need me to and if I'm able.
Why? Because so much has been done for me.
I wonder, do Barack and Michelle Obama -- not to mention those who worship at their feet -- ever stop to consider all that has been done for them? Lots of it for no other reason than that they are black?
Why can't all those -- of every color -- who feel entitled to something, who've become convinced that they're owed this or that by whomever, and who overflow with angry demands (or maybe only seethe inwardly) the moment they sense they aren't going to get it, or get enough of it, simply realize that the whole reason we're here is to serve one another, and thereby glorify God our Creator?
And by doing so, to derive enjoyment from our life, while it lasts.
For it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
Happy New Week
Dagny has a new thing: She puts her thumbs together and presses. Hard.
Aunt Erica was the first to notice, even before Audrey.
Nearly from birth, Dagny has been expressive with her hands. They constantly float in the air, usually ending up at or near her own face or the face of the person holding her.
She doesn't suck her thumb or any of her fingers, and she's never taken a pacifier. (Believe me: We tried.)
But the thumbs. Erica saw she was doing it repeatedly, bringing one thumb to the other as if they were magnets, fingers splayed, and pressing so hard that they turn white.
Yesterday morning at church, during the few minutes I hold Dagny and she does an informal meet-and-greet for my friends between Sunday School and the main service, she seemed to be doing her thumb trick on command.
Me: "Dagny, show Miss Becky how you put your thumbs together!" Dagny: Thumbs together. See.
Me (after switching her direction on my lap, to face TG): "Dagny, show Papaw how you put your thumbs together!" Dagny: Thumbs together. Aha. Throwing shapes.
All this from a tiny poppet (seven months old day after tomorrow) with creamy skin and huge black eyes and two new teeth, wearing a winter-white lace dress with infinitesimal pink satin bows on the front, and a sparkly silver headwrap with a winter-white flower.
The effect is stunning. Truth be told it's a sight for eyes, sore or not.
Sometimes it's almost too much and we we all burst out into peals of uncontrollable joy-fueled laughter. Actually, we do that a lot.
Often we get tears in our eyes. We are that besotted with our angel baby, who most of the time, innocently unaware of her own charms, be like: Who, me?
Audrey as Dagny's mother bears the brunt of this terrible emotional burden. She claims that if she's not having a hard time getting stuff done because the baby is crying to be held, she can't get anything done because all she wants to do is stare at her offspring.
So it was on a day last week when Audrey had bathed and dressed her baby and was attempting to get ready herself, in preparation for bringing Dagny over to see me.
Dagny was propped on her mother's bed in the Boppy pillow, watching Baby Einstein on the iPad (Andrew says the voiceover on that thing is creepy but the babies seem to like it).
As circumstance (not to mention necessity) would have it, all Audrey had to do in order to see her baby from her vanity counter, was turn her head. And she couldn't keep from looking.
So it was that instead of concentrating on getting ready, Audrey made a video of her darling baby watching a video.
You have a minute to spare; right? Because I knew you'd want to see it. So here you go.
Happy Monday ~ Happy New Week
Hey so yeah, I know. Where have I been.
I have been here but I don't know. January. You know? It's a new year with lots of new stuff to do.
Anyway I have this video I want to show you.
The footage was taken by my son Andrew back in the spring of last year but someone else made the actual video and added a song.
In fact I've shown you the very last part of the video before, but not with music.
The reason I've not posted it before now is, to be honest, I think the music on this longer YouTube is obnoxious.
There; I said it. I hope Sail is not one of your favorite songs.
So turn the sound down or, better, off (that's what I do) and watch as my boy refuels six F/A-18 Hornets flown by the US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, a/k/a the Blue Angels, somewhere near Rhode Island.
It longish but it gets really cool at the end.
You may have noticed that the blue and yellow fighter jets don't get up real close to the boom.
That's because in order to refuel that aircraft, the boom operator lowers a basket that somehow connects to the F/A-18 Hornet and allows for fueling.
It's confusing to me too so don't feel bad. You can see the basket (it's called a drogue or para-drogue and it looks like a badminton birdie) really well in the photo at the top of this post.
Para-drogues are used in sailing too. So now you know.
Not for nothing, Andrew says Naval aviators are the best in the world. Think aircraft carriers.
Still: High praise from an Air Force man.
And that is all for now.
Happy Wednesday ~ God Bless America