Sunday, December 25, 2016


To blog visitors from afar, please visit my first two blogs: Welcome to my first blog and then the blog entitled Rose. Enjoy.

The week before Christmas 2016 and from the invite above, I am reminded that I have been blogging now for a little over a year. It seems that I just started and proof to me this morning of how fast time flies. Forty-one blogs posted.

The Morning Stove is doing “Yeoman's Duty” as we are set into the heart of winter. Burning 24 hours a day and we are able to keep the core of the home around 72 degrees, give or take. The pot on the right is water for keeping moisture in the home air. The red pot on the left is beef/meatball soup, a test recipe with a little red wine. The pot will steep and finish cooking from yesterday's build. These are moments and times I cherish during the winter months. A wood fire to heat the home and soup on the warm/cook. And during these next few months, the soups and stews can overnight on the porch table for next day leftovers.

This practice serves in The After. Bedroom doors are closed, foyer doors closed and draped, main front door draped as is the office doorway. The core temperature of the home comes up and stays comfortable. Water pipes are on a constant drip to prevent freezing. We can cook on the wood stove if needed and all of this is “quaint and initial winter fun” but also serves as practice when winter turns ugly, travel to and from our home becomes impossible and Mother Nature throws in a power outage. It is more work, but practicing for any kind of possible emergency makes the real event easier to get though. Wintering means more work keeping many little things from becoming big things and The After being ugly ugly.

Winter mornings start with me sitting in my chair, holding my tablet in my lap, resting a half cup of coffee on the arm of the chair and staring into the wood stove front door glass. The body does not ache or hurt and I have never seen the same movie twice watching the fire burn in the stove. Every morning and the time sitting there can always be counted upon. I do some of my best thinking during that time of the morning. Some of it around things I want to write about that are in any way interesting, insightful or worthy of sharing. I often think of great things, only to have them come out ok here.  

I am getting the first hints of the Christmas Spirit. Senses of well-being and the goodness of the season. It is possible this season that more folks will be saying "Merry Christmas" rather than happy holidays. I think all of that has been suppressed in many folks  for years now and stemming from the times we live in. I have noticed a lighter step in folks out shopping over the past week and have heard many more “Merry Christmases” than in years past. I sense and feel an upbeat this season.

BUT, I would like to add one observation here in the season products advertising scheme. One of the major cell phone service providers has stepped deeply into the incompetence of man. The man is shown to be unable to wrap a cell phone, or any small gift for that matter. Portrays the man as totally void in any hand-eye coordination or ability to figure out how to wrap a Christmas present. He cannot pull Scotch Tape from the holder or manage holding several tubes of Christmas wrapping paper. In the end, the man accepts and admits defeat by simply sticking a bow on the plain packaging of the gift and sets it under the tree.

How do these kinds of commercials make it by the common sense committee? That no man on the committee or close to this TV commercial threw up his hands and said "hell no!!" That the large cell service provider had the eggs to produce and promote the incompetence of man in the simplest of problem solving situations. Man is minimized to looking up at the lowest rung on the ladder in the promotion of selling their service to the mass public. And of all men acting in the making this commercial, makes me wonder what ever happened to “not only no, but hell no!!” I shake my head; just shake my frigging head!! That the human species with an “outie” puts up with this. Frack!! I am surprised that they did not make the man run to a safe place, sniffling with hands over his face and crying "mama."

In some fairness, I think it is safe to say that men, men I know, do not have a strong desire to take a lot of time wrapping presents. I am one of those men. I can wrap, fold edges, tape and even add a bow with curly cues (I have watched and learned). I make no pretense or expend energy beyond getting the job done. In the end, the present is wrapped, has a sticky bow and a name tag. It is a ten-yard wrap job meaning it looks good from ten yards away.

Her, on the other hand, her is squeaky close to the other end of the curve. Her loves and mandates every present (to include all of the cookies we send) be wrapped with TLC, goodness, wellness, happiness, neatness, perfection and a big wrap around bow with precisely cut v-wedge ribbon ends. Her wrapping is a six inch wrap job; yep, looks exceptional from six inches. To each present, never known to the present recipient, is given a final grand smile that exudes the Christmas Spirit. Her stands back, gives a look and soaks in another present wrapped in all that Christmas can be, ever was or will be.  I sigh!! She is happy and the home smiles.

Three small trees down below the house covered in fresh snow and colored lights.

Those same little trees, growing up, This Christmas Morning

This past weekend turned out to be winter days that I spoke early of here. Snow, then removed, then covered with freezing rain, then rain and all a 900' sloping skating rink. The poor dog is relegated to baby dog steps to and from the business area. Cat refuses to go back to the garage at night after spending a few hours inside the warm house. She wants to play “chase the cat” until she gives in. Her looks at me, siding with the cat. But a roaming night cat on counter tops is completely out of the question. 

The metal roof is constantly shedding sheets of snow accumulation. 


Four to seven inches of snow for the day now falling. A light fluffy snow as the temperature outside has risen from zero degrees to seven.



Minus 7 this morning and no matter how we cut this, it is downright cold and makes any outdoor activity dangerous to the unprepared. New Englanders w/o a good bug-out bag for being caught out in this weather for a few hours, put themselves in harms' way. 

Her and I have a adopted a no gift giving policy when it comes to Christmas. We always agree upon this and her has yet to adhere to the change. I have found myself on Christmas morning, lacking on the exchanging of gifts when we had agreed to no exchanging of gifts. I awake to find my man chair littered with little wrapped offerings of joy, love, colors and twisty bows. I too (now) do not adhere to the new NO gift giving rules by having at least two/three little gifts to give. 

But her is always overboard and sits there in her chair, coffee in hand, grinning from ear to ear as I open up socks, new underwear, doo dads, long johns and new waffle shirts. Waffle shirts are the king of winter wear here and a must in 24 hour a day layering for warmth. A new stocking cap with ears and a tie down, a full pull down stocking cap and winter scarf with practiced wrapping of head and neck.


Wham!!! The Christmas spirit. Full frontal, in your face, followed by tears. I have no control over the connections of my heart to my sleeve.

The local grocery store was packed to the brim yesterday and there was no way I was going to endure that for a half gallon of milk and a Christmas card. 

This morning, I was up early and at the store by 07:30. The store was already busy and I was  fool to think I was ahead of any crowd. Got milk, dinner minute steaks, fresh string beans and then a stop in the Christmas card isle. I found the display and started laughing out loud. No choices left and no cards from dogs or cats to give to her. Another fellow happened in the same isle and we had things in common. Very last minute!

Out of the corner of my eye I caught a young lady walking past and I thought to myself, "I know her." I stopped her, even if I was wrong. I knew inside that I must act. I did know her and she was again home on leave from the Army to be with her family. We hugged and for the life of me, I did not want to let go. I could have hugged "home on leave E-5" till the market closed. We were both dressed our sweat pants and comfortable warm winter shirts. We felt great and as comfortable as a wintering human can get!! 

She exuded every emotion in the Christmas world this morning. Face full of life. She explained she had finished her three-year tour of duty in Germany and will now be stationed stateside. If she cannot get into officers training/school, she plans to discharge and go back to school. The GI Bill is still at work. 

She said that one of the best part of the past three years for her was the 19 countries she got to visit. She said the best was Normandy. "The history and the boys" she said. "The Boys", I replied and she said, "yes, the boys---that gave their lives there."  She was wearing the respect to our men, women and nation.

God, so much wrapped up in that moment. My heart stopped, tears were coming but I held.  My pride and patriotism in this country, wrapped in this young lady, the moment and Christmas Eve. Christmas music playing in the market. 

I found her mother. We threw our arms around each other and I again, did not want to let go of her. I told her Merry Christmas and how proud and happy I was for her, her children, her family. Her daughter and son were home this Christmas, both in military service and both arriving home the same day. 

The mother said how wonderful all of this was and that her mother had pancreatic cancer and with the kids being home, Christmas and family together was special this year. "Special" is my word here because I cannot remember how she framed it.  Son and daughter brought home their "Dress Blues" to wear for family. (Take just a moment to read - Bloodlines - here) God is involved in all of this.

I told her that "none of us are exempt from any of this and that it is a one way trip." We agreed and said Merry Christmas. I asked quickly if she has seen more folks saying of "Merry Christmas" this season. Both of their eyes lit up and together said yes. I added, "and everyone seems easier and lighter in step." They nodded their heads in yes

We checked out from different stands and headed home. And! I did great until I had the two sacks loaded in the passenger seat of the Dodge and sat in the drivers seat. I pulled out of the stall, rounded a line of cars to exit and both eyes let loose. Yep, tears. Wonderful wonderful tears. My heart was/is so full that it wants to burst out of my chest. I love my country. I love my family. I think we are a good people. And I mean, I think we are all a good people on earth. I cannot put my heart into words, but it means you and me. This is what can happen during Christmas.   

It all is over in the blink of an eye. Unwrapped gifts on the couch and arms of my chair. Hers on the table between our chairs and the floor is covered with wrapping leftovers. Another cup of coffee, hugs, and heartfelt Merry Christmas  kisses. The morning moments are soaked in for little while and then clean up and attention turns to the Christmas dinner ham. Folks will be arriving early afternoon for the meal. Ham is not our usual Christmas meal, but it is this year and we are looking forward to a ham coming out of the oven running over with  sweetened crust and pineapple rings adhered with tooth picks. Scalloped potatoes oozing in cheese sauce will be added to the ham offering. Guests are bringing salads and surprises. 

The gifts are not about the gifts.  The gifts are about the moments together with family and friends. The gifts are Christmas and special to this day. Family and friends taking time to be together. I feel the common thread that connects us all this season.


Sunday, December 18, 2016


I did not realize it was possible to have the same Christmas, twice in the same year, but I did in 1969. Conflicts with my last post, huh?


An afternoon stop at the officers club for lunch and then I planned to return to flight operations. No scheduled flights but I usually hung out in Flight Ops during the day. Helicopters coming and going, always seemed to be activity worthy of watching.

A fellow at the officer's club asked me if I knew about the “Immediate Out” the Army was offering to pilots/officers with over 20 months in country. I thought he was joking and passed it off. He said he was serious. “Any pilot with over 20 months in Vietnam is eligible for an 'Immediate Out'.”

I pushed my lunch aside and walked directly to the Personnel Office and asked if what I had just heard was true. They said it was; said I was eligible and when did I want to go. I replied, “yesterday.” I signed the necessary paper work and was told to report back later that afternoon for orders home and paperwork for completion of my military service .

I walked over to flight operations and erased my name off of the flight schedule board. That was a defining moment when it all ended. No more combat flying, no more Army helicopter flying and just a few days left serving my duty to my country

 LOACH  Light Observation Army Combat Helicopter

A hot shot young pilot put me in the back seat of his “LOACH” and flew me to the airfield to catch my “Caribou” to Tan Sun Nhut. The young kid laughed the whole way to the little airfield, flying as low as he possibly could, trying to scare the hell out of me. Good kid!! He landed, we saluted and shook hands. He pulled pitch as I walked away as he picked up the low level route back to home base. In the blink of an eye, a moment in life etched in my permanent memory. It still puts a smile on my face.

I was on a plane the next morning to catch a flight home. All that happened a few days before Christmas, 1969.

We landed in Hawaii on Christmas Day to refuel and landed at McChord AFB, Christmas Eve. Time change and all. “I'll be home for Christmas" by Bing Crosby played inside the plane as we descended over the western shore of Washington State. Never ever has that song meant so much as it did at that moment. To see the shores of my native state pass under us, the past four years of duty and Christmas Eve all wrapped in one whole moment, was a full heart.  

To see my folks on Christmas Day, 1969 was a most wonderful present for all of us. There must have been a noticeable “whooshing sound” of relief from our home that day.



Never say never. An old saying because quite often one finds him/herself in the never. Big nevers or small nevers! Regardless, never has arrived for me and cell phones.

My only real need for a cell phone is to call five people or so and only from time to time. My cell phone spends most of its life perched on an up-side down jar in a south facing window. We have a metal roof which kills cell phone reception in our house, especially in an area where our cell phone reception outside is the smallest bar at best. 

I do take a photo from time to time and mail it to myself. What else do I need? What else do I want? I want the Iphone 7 plus high end, super duper world connectivity, virtual reality, voice command to know 'what the fox' says experience. I want that $900 dollar experience for under $150. Of course, you know it is not the same experience, but a good stepping stone and improvement on my current cell phone.

There came a point quickly in my wanting to learn of this where terminology escaped me and I knew not even the questions to ask. Much like trying to ask a question to a HAM operator about HAM radio. Never ever got an answer I understood, no matter how simple I thought the question was.

I waded through a few folks asking questions on smart phones. I did want a bigger machine than the little one I had before. But rarely these days does one stumble on "the person" to answer questions, one that knows the subject matter and more importantly, one that is interested in working with customers, people, other people; but a person who is able and willing to engage.

And then, out of the blue I found him. A young geek. Answered my questions, gave good suggestions and explained why phone A over phone B for a similar price.  And yes, it does this and does that and you can shut that off if you do not want it, but you and I both know that a cell phone is never shut off. Too think other wise is to be further down the technological ladder than I am on and there are no rungs below the rung I stand on.

So  I hooked  it up. OK!!! had it hooked up, turned on and set off on my own. New cell phone with no numbers in it and could not answer a call. Did not understand the press button and swipe right. Good size and wonderful touch screen. Swiping left, right, up and down and things happen; or, not.

But with a little help from my son and other knowledgeable friends, I am up and running.  Voice commands. This is fun and scary at the same time. It is easier for me now to see how lost one can get in all of this.  There appears to be no limit to information gathering and use.

I now know "what the fox" says and how to text, call, navigate using voice commands. Yea!? Well, we will see.



We are up at 04:30 this morning and the first cup of coffee already gone. The first cup is the best, because it is poured when there is just enough brewed to be a full cup. Thus, it is the strongest. In The After, I must have my coffee. What ever it takes, got to have the morning coffee. I would put in 55 gallon drums of coffee beans and ground coffee if I thought it would keep. 

The dog appears needy this morning, but apparently just needed to go outside to do her business. Minus temperatures coming later this week. She always wants go investigate outside on these ugly, cold mornings instead of just doing her business. And the cat has the coming in house down pat now. No lolly gagging. She zooms in and paces. We give her fresh chicken bites to which she turns up her nose. Fresh medium pieces of steak tip last night before the lot turned into Beef Stroganoff. Again not good enough. Cream in a kitty cup. Nope!! Asking the cell phone "what does the cat want?"

The local TV news this morning is full of heroes and victims. None of which are heroes or victims. But a good story is always made. The outside reporter stands in some nondescript place talking important nonsense. "Back to you, Ned!"  

The weather men cannot or will not/never give the weather report. A weather map shown on the background green screen and the full report is pushed back to the end of half hour and hour news period. And then the weathermen and weather women are non specific. Almost fearful of a forecasted weather statement. At the end of the first teaser is another "stay tuned, too early to tell" and eventually the whole report runs the gamete of sun, clouds, moisture, some accumulation here and there, general temperatures complete with driving and winter dressing lessons. Or "the public is warned not to try to push a Moose while on foot."

Gonna try asking my cell phone what the weather will be today. My bet is Jane will give me the weather report in one complete sentence. I named the woman in my phone Jane.




  Roof Morning Snow Dump

No More Room to Plow Snow. Bought Snow Blower to Keep Driveway Open


South End of Lake Sunapee this Season. Starting to Ice Over and Photo Taken Just Prior to A White Out


    Climbing to His Office


 Have A Wonderful Week Before Christmas.  And!! Merry Christmas