Posts Tagged ‘2015’

CA San Diego 1979

So, this was me, back in 1979.  I was 17 years old, having just finished Navy boot camp and started my basic electronics training.  I spent my first four months in the Navy on the Naval Training Center base.

The last two days, I’ve returned to the former base (yes, it was shut down during the post cold-war military drawdown).  All but for the medical clinic, which still belongs to the Navy.  Yesterday I’ve been working at the medical clinic.  In the middle of the building is a courtyard.  Yesterday, walking across the courtyard, I seemed to have this foggy recollection of standing in the courtyard once upon a time, as a member of a recruit training company.

The former Naval Training Center has been turned into a community called Liberty station.  There are many new houses designed to look like the historic buildings of the original base.  And, those old Navy training facilities and buildings are also there.  When I was in boot camp, there was this mock ship, USS Recruit, nicknamed USS Neversail, where we recruits learned Navy skills like line handling and seamanship.  Unfortunately for me, I went to boot camp at the end of the 1970’s.  Anyone who was around back then might remember the military was always short of money.  Actual ships and equipment needed for the national defence were often in a state of disrepair.  Even more so for the Naval Training Center.  I remember the day my company was to have gas mask training — the tear gas trainer was out of order.  Darn!  I never got to take my mask off in a tear gas-filled room and breath in ’til my heart was content.  Well, when my company was supposed to play on USS Neversail, we couldn’t because it was falling apart and was deemed unsafe.  Then, the 1980’s and President Reagan came along.  Apparently USS Recruit benefitted from bigger military budgets like the rest of the Navy.  It was repaired, and even though the base was shut down in the 1990’s, USS Recruit is still around, looking good.  yesterday I took a few pictures.  Here’s one:

CA Liberty Station (3)

USS Recruit sits on the edge of a cul-de-sac with several hotels, a bunch of restaurants and a community center that looks like it might have been the Naval Training Center’s chapel.

Today during lunch, I decided to drive around Liberty Station and see the sites.  I saw the grounds where we endured our physical training sessions.  I drove by the old open bay barracks I stayed in just after boot camp graduation (which my stepmom’s dad also stayed in during World War 2).  I drove by the old headquarters building, which seems to be an office building now.  I drove by the former mess hall (or galley) where my first store-bought combination cap was stolen by some other sailor.  I drove by the building where I learned electronics, now a charter school.  I drove by the old Navy Exchange building, which is now a mixed-use retail and office plaza.  I decided I’d come back after work and walk around that area.  This turned out to be one of the most interesting places I’ve ever visited.

The plaza consists of individual buildings connected by outdoor walkways.  The plaza has a Trader Joes and a Von’s supermarket.  The Von’s is the most awesome grocery store I’ve ever seen.  The store appropriated two of the old Navy buildings and the courtyard between them.  One building was for produce and cooked foods.  the other building was for non-perishables and liquors.  The courtyard was for flowers and a coffee shop.  Along the various walkways in the plaza, I saw restaurants, nail salons, insurance agencies, travel agencies, banks, fountains, offices.  A high school jazz band was giving a concert in another courtyard.  Again, I had the foggy recollection of walking the corridors in another time.  The surreal feeling I had was accentuated by the fact my blood sugar was getting very low and I was getting light-headed.  I found a nice restaurant and had dinner.

CA Liberty Station (5)

Then I left, driving to my hotel.  This will probably be the last time I’ll be in San Diego.  So, I started my adult life and electronics career here.  My electronics career is ending here — I’ll be starting a new job on Monday dispatching field technicians, no longer doing electronics work myself.  I will no longer be traveling for work anymore, either.  I’ll be going back to Kansas in a couple of days, probably never to return.  I like Liberty Station.  If there were a job in San Diego for me and I could live and eventually die in Liberty Station, I’d be a happy(er) fellow.  My adult life could have bookends!

Chick-O-Stick

This is not an advertisement for Chick-O-Stick candy, but for something I found at the local “health food” store, peanut butter.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve had a love affair with peanut butter — PB&J sandwiches, peanut butter on celery or carrots or apple slices or bananas, peanut butter on pasta, peanut butter on chocolate, peanut butter ice cream, peanut butter on pancakes.  Chico-O-Sticks were always my favorite candy, because they were flavored with peanut butter.

So, yesterday I stopped at the local “health food” store. browsing for something that might taste good.  I’m not overly enthusiastic about health food, but I will buy it if it isn’t too expensive and might taste good.  Yesterday, I saw some peanut butter that intrigued me, more precisely a coconut and peanut spread.  Now, I like peanut butter (as I’ve just mentioned) and I like coconut, so I decided to buy a jar.

This morning for breakfast, I made buttered toast and spread it with the new peanut butter.  The combination of flavors and the crunchiness of the toast reminded me of eating Chick-O-Sticks.  This coconut and peanut spread is a new favorite!

peanut butter

dad1

My dad died two weeks ago.  I went to work the next day, as usual.  I’ve wondered why my dad’s death hasn’t bothered me as much as I thought it would — all I can come up with is that while I was growing up, my dad was a mean cuss.  I watched him beat my stepmother in a drunken rage, when I was 14.  I watched him smack my sister in the mouth for talking back to my stepmom.  I watched him hit my stepbrother several times.  He came after me once when he was drunk, but I was quick and stayed out of his reach.  I spent my high school years staying out of my dad’s reach.

I remember the time he told me he couldn’t wait until we kids turned 18, so he could get rid of us.  I left home when I was 17, joining the Navy, and distanced myself from my dad for good.  For about 35 years, we would go for months without talking to each other, and spend our short phone conversations talking about the weather and what we were watching on TV.  When we actually visited each other, I was always reminded we had very little in common.  My dad and I had become strangers.  Dad changed in the last few years of his life.  He seemed to have mellowed and wanted to hear from me more often, but the distance between us was always there.

When I went back home in June, I was struck by how different my dad had become.  He was having memory problems.  I bought him a tablet to use for using Facebook so he could keep in touch with the family, but I had to explain to him many times just how to unlock the tablet (just place your fingertip in the circle and slide it to the side).  I read him some messages he’d received on Facebook, and he chatted with his brother for a few minutes.  He really liked that, but I knew as soon as I’d left, he would never use the tablet again.  And he didn’t.

A month ago, I received a phone call from dad’s current wife, Barbara, who told me he was in the hospital, close to death.  My sister pretty much said the same thing, so I cancelled my work trip and drove back home as fast as I could.  He was alive when I arrived two days later.  When I talked to the nurse about him, they said he’d had a fall and had pneumonia.  I’d received a different report from my sister, but he seemed to be unconscious, which fit what my sister’d said.  So, I pulled up a chair and sat with him for a while.  He seemed to have lost a lot of weight in the month since I’d last seen him, but I figured it was because of his illness.  Then he stirred and noticed me, and began talking.  I moved over to his bedside and began talking with him.  Some of the things he talked about didn’t make sense, and something just didn’t seem right.  His nose looked different.  I went outside to the nurses and told them I didn’t think that person was my dad.

Turned out, it wasn’t.  My dad had been moved into the room next door.  I glanced into that room while talking to the nurse, and recognized my dad right away.  He was awake, pleading with anyone who would listen.  He was in a lot of pain and wanted pain medication.  I went into his room and talked with him, but all he had on his mind was his pain.  I asked if he’d like me to hold his hand for a while, and he said yes.  After a short time, he looked at me at then changed his grip to shake my hand.  This was when I was sure he realized who I was, because we always shook hands when we got together.  But, as soon as we shook hands, his mind was consumed with his pain again, and that’s the last time my dad even knew I was there.  I visited him four more times before I had to return home and go back to work, and he was never again awake while I was there.  I took four days to drive home, and was home for four days before receiving the call he’d passed away.  Hearing the news was like hearing a distant relative had died.

And I went to work the next day, like usual.

I’ve always wondered why I don’t cry and gnash my teeth when learning about the deaths of people I know.  Maybe it has to do with losing my mom when I was 8.  Maybe it doesn’t.  She was the last person I ever cried for.  I think I’ve purposefully kept people at a distance ever since.

When my wife of 24 years (someone I dearly loved) said she wanted a divorce, I didn’t cry.  Apparently I kept a distance from her, too.

I’m not a mourning person.

And yet, I say that knowing I cried like a baby when my dog, Doogie died and when my cat, Mouse passed away.

Today Barbara called and told me she’d interred his ashes at a veterans cemetery and had given him an Air Force military funeral.  I talked with her for about a half-hour.  I can tell she really misses him, and sometimes I wish I missed him more.

dad2

ghost

For years, I’ve only had one supposed ghost story to tell, about the time we kids were in the garage holding a séance and the candle we used went out, like a drop of liquid had dropped onto the wick from above.  I’d had my eyes open at the time, so if I hadn’t seen it happen, I would have suspected my brother was pulling a prank.

Ever since, I’ve listened to other folks tell their stories and watched the ghost shows on TV.  And, I’ve never actually SEEN a ghost in person.  Still haven’t.  But something out of the ordinary happened during my recent vacation, which has me wondering whether I was MAYBE visited by a ghost.

I had some time to kill when I was in Colorado, so I drove to Cripple Creek to see if I could find the graves of my stepmom, her dad and brother and pay my respects.  I’d never been to the cemetery before, so I walked around for about an hour and a half.  I hadn’t found their graves by the time I had to leave, so I hopped in my car and drove back to Colorado Springs.  When I reached my hotel, I began entering the information I needed to go visit a cousin for dinner.  I’d paused at a screen, reading the address.  Then the GPS beeped three times, backing up a screen each time as if someone were pressing the back button on the display.  I watched it happen, and didn’t SEE anything poking the screen.  I figured it was some sort of malfunction and went back to entering the information.

The next day, I was driving across Wyoming and had to make a pit stop at one of the rest areas.  When I entered the bathroom, there was a guy washing his hands.  He left.  While I was standing at the urinal, the sink’s faucet turned on and off three times, as if someone had passed their hand in front of the motion detector.  There was no-one standing at the sink.  When I went to the sink, I tried figuring out why the faucet would turn on by itself, but the only way I could get the water to flow was by passing my hand in front of the detector.

I thought about the previous day’s GPS behavior, and began wondering whether some spirit from the cemetery had latched onto me and was trying to get me to notice.  And I wondered why the two things happened three times each.  What could THREE mean?  I wondered whether it might have something to do with the three graves I’d been looking for.  Anyway, nothing has happened since, so IF someone had taken a ride with me for two days, they must have decided to spook someone else.

So — now I have a better, I think, possible ghost story than the only one I’ve had since I was a kid.

Springtime 2015

I guess I’ve been in a funk or something, but I’ve had little desire this year to write about what I’ve been up to.  Like in years past, I’m losing the details of my life for lack of keeping a journal.  With one exception — I have Facebook, so even if I’m not writing much, Facebook is recording the places where I’ve eaten, short snippets about my activities and the photos I’ve been taking when I’m out and about.  Today I’ve been doing a little maintenance on this blog, taking passwords from most of my entries, so I decided I should write something….

First of all — for the first time this year, I’m working in town instead of traveling.  Most of the year I’ve been moving around the southern part of the country, in Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Florida.  But I have been to Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, DC, New York and Vermont.

At the end of February, I was working in Las Vegas, so at the end of my trip, decided to take a vacation and stay there.  Five days later I was driving to Arizona for another workweek.

Last month I took another vacation, driving from my home to Washington State and back.  LONG trip, but enjoyable.  There are a couple of things from that trip worth writing about.

I cut my hair and shaved when the weather turned warm, as you can see in the picture.  My hair is getting long again, but I’m still clean-shaven.  Thinking about getting one more haircut before fall, when I’ll start going all Grizzly Adams again.

The power switch on my GPS unit stopped working, so I bought another.  Can’t neglect one of my most-important tools for improving my life!

Finally got around to replacing my car’s windshield, which had been cracked by a rock, only to get hit by another rock on my most recent vacation.  Need to get that taken care of before the chip turns into another big crack.  Anyone who’s seen my car might have noticed I keep little bumper stickers/decals on my rear passenger wing windows to help me find my car in a crowded lot.  My “Life Is Good” stickers became faded, so I replaced them with the Futurama Hypno-Toad and a souvenir sticker from the Ben & Jerry’s factory.

Finally went out to dinner with someone for the first time since being divorced.  Had fun!

Visited with family and friends in Colorado and Washington during vacation.  Had fun!

Sightseeing stops this spring have included Boulder Dam, Picacho Peak, President Eisenhower’s Library, Fort Hays, Cripple Creek, Devil’s Slide, Snake River Canyon, Little Bighorn, Deadwood, Wall Drug, Lake Champlain and the Ben & Jerry’s factory.  Had fun!