Blue Angels Time again!

My family has such a wonderful history with the Blue Angels. Just last summer I got to take my family on an Epic Roots Road Trip, which had to include the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, HOME of the Blue Angels. They have been a part of my life since I was 5 or 6 years old…before they became really famous.

My Dad took me to see them practice at Miramar Naval Air Station in San Diego (well, the Marines will claim it now). There was no crowd out on that field on top of that giant mesa just east of UCSD in La Jolla. Just my Dad and me, up on his shoulders.

I’ve written about this before and I put the links at the bottom.

But I have a favorite Blue Angels story. Since it was just my Dad’s birthday, I will once again share that tale in his honor. Here it is:

Agnostic Angels

This is a love letter to my Dad, and a Thank You to the amazing, brave pilots who make up the Blue Angels.

It’s Seafair in Seattle and the Blue Angels are here!!!

When I was growing up, Angels were a surprising but recurring theme with my fairly agnostic father. He was one of the leastreligious and more unconsciously spiritual people I have ever known. Angels seemed to be everywhere in the things he did, where he took us and in what he showed us.

From San Diego, where we grew up, we went on many trips north to Los Angeles, the “City of Angels”, to ride the “Angels Flight”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angels_Flight

He told us many stories of the “Guardian Angels” he had as a kid who helped him survive his completely unsupervised childhood.

Apparently he had several bizarre accidents and adventures…like tumbling off a mountain and landing halfway down on the only possible 11 inch ledge that could break his death-fall.

Another was a bicycle accident when the bare handle bar (the uncovered metal pipe) went through his upper chest off to the side, just missing basically everything!

Even as an adult, on a solo dirt bike trip out into the Borrego desert, he crashed and broke his collar bone, but managed to walk his bike into a small town for help.

In one of his last visits to me, he took a long walk in the dead of an unusually snowy Northwest winter, slipped and broke his ankle. He walked half a mile back to my house and, tough guy that he was, did not tell me until the next day what had happened. He finally had to because he could not remove his cowboy boot (which, it turns out, is exactly what stabilized his ankle for that 24 hours).

 

He claimed help from Angels for each of these events.

When he died, it was really no surprise that we received gracious assistance from the Hell’s Angels on the day of his Memorial.

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We bungee-corded my Dad’s ashes to the back of his lifelong Dream-Harley. (He didn’t get it until he was in his eighties.) Our caravan of family cars followed my best friend, Lee, on the bike out into the mountains East of San Diego to my Dad’s favorite little town called Julian.

We celebrated his life at his favorite restaurant and when we got ready to leave, I spotted a couple of real Harley riders, mounting up. I was wearing my Dad’s favorite Harley shirt so I walked right up to them and told them my Dad’s story. I pointed out the box of ashes on the back of my Dad’s bright red, flame-painted Sportster (with matching helmet).

I asked these two guys if they would consider riding along with my Dad (on his beloved bike) as we drove out of town.

They said “Sure, but we are not alone.”

Much to my delight (and the horror of my very religious relatives) we were escorted down the mountain by the two guys I talked to AND their friends. FIFTY Hell’s Angels followed us back down that mountain, in a practiced procession for any fallen brother of theirs; lights on, in two perfect parallel lines, peeling off one pair at a time when they were done.

So see? Lots of ANGELS in my life.

The Blue Angels entered when I was very young!

My favorite of the Angel Activities as a kid was this. My little sisters were too young, so Dad would take just me to Miramar Naval Air Base early on Sunday mornings, to watch the Blue Angels practice their soon to become famous stunts. He was very proud of being able to get on the Base and to show off what he claimed to be the planes that “he had built”. (My Dad was an aeronautical engineer who moved from Kansas to San Diego to work in his industry.)

I would ride on his shoulders for the “air show” and he would duck down when they flew over, as if they were actually flying low enough to be dangerous to this lone man with a squealing little girl on his shoulders. What an absolute thrill it was and my memories to this day are so clear, they are physical!

Though I struggled sometimes with the dichotomy of a Hippie Peacenik Flower-child being in love with fighter pilot jets, I have watched The Blue Angels through so many stages of my life.

In my 20’s and 30’s, before the trees grew up around us, the huge deck off my house was the favorite viewing place of all the single Mom’s in the neighborhood. We’d put on our bikini’s and pose on the deck, debating the safety of doing that…as if the pilots were actually going to look down at us each time they flew over!

Then, there were the years I worked as a waitress in a fancy restaurant in the tallest building in Bellevue…sharing the panoramic viewing experience with my wealthy customers.

One of my favorite memories was when my small son and I watched them while we were zipping around Lake Washington on a friend’s Jet Ski right under them. What a high that was!!

Famous Move

And for almost 40 of these years, we kept the Blue Angels alive in our conversations during the rest of year. My best friend’s father, Colonel Louis Ford, was like a second Dad to me. He was a fighter pilot in 3 wars. And though he was respectful of the “Angels”, he clearly had a bias for the Thunderbirds! That made for some lively discussions, Air Force vs Navy pilots, between my two Dads!

Colonel Ford taught me about the concepts of Hangar Flying (the time spent in the hangar, processing mistakes and accidents) as well as “The Hole in the Sky” (an opening in the clouds) that a pilot sometimes had to find in order to survive. Talk about Guardian Angels….

Boys getting me autographs on my Blue Angel’s birthday t-shirt!

Now, I have 2 Grandsons, 9 and 11, and their Mom and my son have taken them to see the Blue Angels every year of their lives. This has been a great setting to share stories of my Dad, the wonderful Great Grandfather they never got to meet, a man who had a life filled with “Angels” and he passed them all onto us….

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For many years I went by myself to a tiny (and progressively less secret) park on Mercer Island shore, the Thursday and Friday prior to the big Seafair Air Show. On Thursday, from this little park on the water, you can watch the scouting the Blue Angels do each year to get the lay of the land. And on Fridays, you can watch a full rehearsal of the big show they will perform on Saturday and Sunday. You can’t be at this little park for the actual show as it becomes an emergency Aid Station on those days.

My ritual was always to go there early, get settled and then call my Dad….so I could be on the cell phone with him as the Angels arrived. That first fly over is an indescribable thrill! In that park, they fly in low and from behind you. Their approach is muted by the hillside and thick trees, almost silent until suddenly, they thunder over your head. It is kind of like walking up the path next to the massive, rolling Niagara Falls; totally quiet until you get past a certain point and then instantly it becomes a deafening roar of falling water.

Anyway, I would hold the phone up in the air and scream at the top of my lungs as my Dad’s Angels buzzed our shared location.

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No matter when or where I see them, I am instantly five years old again, sitting way up high on my Daddy’s shoulders when those beautiful Blue Angels scream by.

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I really believe my Dad witnessed that generous and spontaneous Hell’s Angel Memorial procession, and that he sees us watching the Blue Angels every year, from somewhere up there, through the “hole in the sky”.

Heaven Bound

original post written here: https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/08/07/agnostic-angels/

 

 

Yesterday, in typical Seattle weather, the Angels arrived for “scouting” day, flying in directly over our house.

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Though the weather this year may be disappointing for local SeaFair fans, it is great for Blue Angels fans who get to see the “low program”…thrilling, to say the least!

 

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(this last was apparently 2 cents worth from Lucy, the cat, who stopped by the keyboard when I left the room for a bit.)

 

https://chosenperspectives.com/2018/01/19/silence-for-wpc-1-17-18/

https://chosenperspectives.com/2017/10/11/wordlesswednesday-10-11-17/

Happy Mother’s Day from Chosen Perspectives “Place” for WPC 5-9-18

Place in the World

This may be a stretch but I wrote the following letter on this Mother’s Day morning to all the wonderful Mom’s in my life. It may not be a town or region but I myself have always felt most “at home” when I am immersed into motherhood…where ever I am. It is definitely my favorite place in the world

 
Dear Beautiful Mothers:

It is such a beautiful morning. I am sitting outside with my coffee, and I just told James, I feel a little like a Disney heroine this morning…like maybe Snow White? I am surrounded by singing birds, bunnies, squirrels and my favorite crows (who come to my call each day). Surely, the seven dwarfs will show up soon…

I am thinking about what Motherhood has meant to me in my life.

I feel such overwhelming gratitude today, Mother’s Day, 2018, even though I had to start “mothering” at such a young age. I did a lousy, uninformed job of it with my younger sisters. (I did do a great job of it with Fluffy, the Duck and with Moose, my very first dog though.)

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Can you guess who cut all of our bangs???

But what I got from that experience of early mothering was my life’s “calling”. I have been a mother, in one form or another for my entire life. I have never wondered if it was the right “job” for me. And I continue to be absolutely amazed that, for a large part of my adult life, I actually got paid to be a professional Mom…to hundreds…a few of whom, still honor me with that title today. Amazing! Unexpected! And what a privilege!

I lost my own mother so young but was blessed to have many teachers, mentors, counselors, borrowed Moms, and relatives who all gave me a little mothering along my path. My “adopted” Elaine/Mom took that job on in such a serious and permanent way, she was my mother for more than twice the number of years I got to have my first Mom.

One of my most important and beloved Mentor/Teacher/Auntie/Moms has been Jean Clarke. Lucky for me she taught me very early in our almost 50-year long relationship, that none of us can ever have too many good Mom’s! So, I have tried to live that philosophy…mothering others when I can and accepting that from others when I need it.

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Elaine/Mom is on the left and Jean Clarke on the right

When Michael was in his early twenties, I apologized to him for having to be gone so much during his school years. As a single mom, there were years when I worked 3 jobs and was in school full time!! (How did I ever do that??) He said the kindest thing ever. He said “Mom, it’s OK. Don’t you realize what you did for me? I was never alone. You surrounded me with lots of other mothers to take care of me.”

Michael very young

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Anyway, I wanted you each to know I think about you on this day.

Those of you who helped me raise Michael…

Those who trusted me to mother you…

Those who mothered me (and those who generously shared your mothers with me) …

Those in my tribe who still mother me today…

Those still mothering younger children with such dedication, creativity and love…

Those who mothered your children so beautifully, they have now become lovely adults…

And those who may still be waiting for the return of that one kid you mothered who has needed to be so very far away from you…I really understand that one…

But the Mom I am most grateful for today is my daughter’s mother, Barbara. I could not raise that beautiful little baby girl and I had to wonder for more than 20 years what mother my daughter had been given to. Now, I know the answer and what a wonderful, kind, loving, open-hearted mother she is. It shows up in her daughter, our daughter…

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I am blessed beyond belief to have my daughter’s family in my life.

Happy Mother’s Day and thanks to you all.

I couldn’t really send out enough thank-you bouquets, so I made you all a slide show from my morning walk. I hope you enjoy it.

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Love you all,

Kathie

 

PS My sweet neighbor, Vasantha, recently gave me an out of the blue, and for no occasion gift, the very best kind! She gave me two pieces of jewelry she said reminded her of me; a ring (blue and silver) and a Two-Cat pin, complete with moving tails. She wrote a lovely card that said “to one who nurtures birds with broken wings, embraces stray cats, and gives shelter to folks wholeheartedly…”

My motherhood recognized…unsolicited. What a gift!

PS Again-And who would have ever thought at this point in my life I would have also earned the title of BUG MOTHER!!!

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Final PS, I promise- Don’t even let me get started on Grand-mothering!!!

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A Face in the Crowd for WPC 2/21/18

A Face in the Crowd

This might be a stretch. But if you happen to be a regular reader, you might be getting the idea that I am kind of a Rule Bender in a quiet-ish way.

This week, first came the Weekly Photo Challenge. I searched and thought and plotted to find or take a great Face-in-the-Crowd shot. I had the same weird internal ethical debates I always have about taking photos of strangers without their permission…even a face in a crowd.

Then my grandsons invited me to watch a movie. We watched Okja, an odd little Korean film. (Trailer down below, but it’s full of spoilers…better to watch unprepared, in my opinion.)  By the way, Common Sense Media says 15 years plus, and though my grandsons are 12 and 14, I agree. My oldest one kept saying “one minute you think this is a great kid’s movie and the next it’s really, REALLY not!”

I will tell you that while watching it, I couldn’t help but thinking about the Weekly Photo Challenge Theme….which made me start thinking in a whole new direction.

I love animals and I tell you what, it is getting more and more difficult to eat anything with a face. I have been mostly vegetarian for almost 50 years…no red meat of any kind during that time and only the occasional fish and poultry…including Salmon of course ( I DO live in the Northwest after all) and Turkey on Thanksgiving!

With this movie giving me a new way of thinking of the face in the crowd, I remembered an experience a few years back that left me both in awe for the beauty of it and a kind of disgust and guilt for the fact of it.

On a repeated vacation to San Diego, the place where we stay has this massive Koi Pond. For a quarter, you can feed the spectacularly colorful fish.

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They were beautiful and I suppose there is value in sharing that contained beauty with people if it heightens their consciousness about our cohabitants on Mother Earth. (Don’t get me started on the two sides of the whole Zoo Debate.)

But it was also an example of a pitiful and frightening feeding frenzy.

There was this one fish-face that caught my eye. I kept my eye on him so I knew it was the same one over and over. His face kept appearing midst the fevered quest for food.

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Maybe it was that he was so huge and that made me wonder if this had been his whole life, battle after crowded battle for tidbits of man-made cereal nuggets.

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That thought made me incredibly sad. I mean, Koi can live for up to 200 years! And these guys had already been trapped in this resort pond for 35 years that I know of.

It just felt wrong.

I don’t know any resolution, or if there even needs to be one. I mean, I raise Giant Leaf Bugs and keep them in a terrarium for their entire lives…my rationale being they live almost a year longer in my captivity than in their native wild. My cats are strictly indoor cats for the same reason…longer lives than if they ventured out among the hawks and coyotes in my area.

Anyway, this is my Face in the Crowd post for the week.

I’d love to hear what you think.

 

5 Interesting Facts About Koi Fish from https://www.sweeneyfeeders.com/5-interesting-facts-koi-fish/

 

1. Koi fish originate from Japan and represent love and friendship in Japanese culture.

 

2. Most koi fish outlive their owners, having a lifespan of 200+ years.

 

3. They come in a variety of colors, not just orange. They may appear orange, yellow, white, red and black.

 

4. Owners who received their koi fish as a gift are believed to have good luck.

 

5. In Japan, koi fish are often passed down from generation to generation, as a family heirloom.

 

 

Sound of Silence for WPC 1/17/18

Silence

I love my son…more than anything else…in the way only the single mother of an only child can understand.

He and his sons live with me now. They are here to help me out.

I imagined his moving in with me would enhance our relationship…we are both old enough to be true friends now. He is 45. I am 69. I thought we would talk all the time, every day!

But his life as a single Dad is packed!

So it is loudly silent around here sometimes.

Music has always been a bond for us and one day, when I had almost become dissatisfied with his silence, he sat me down to share a music video with me. He told me the first time through I should be very patient, keep my eyes closed, and wait for it.

I did.

By the second run through, we were holding hands and crying, both so f-ing moved by this amazing performance.

You may well have heard it before. I have even posted about it before but if you haven’t, treat yourself to a listen, with an open mind and heart (and your volume cranked up!!!)

Ironic to be posting a song when the theme this week is silence, but how could I not share it?

Here is “Sound of Silence” by Disturbed.

Remember, don’t judge, just wait for it….It is everything BUT Silence!

SongLyricSunday 1-14-18 Natural Disasters

First song that came to mind so I’m going with it…..

Dedicated to one of my very best friends in high school, a talented musician.

I wrote this last year for his obituary guest page.

“Jerry was my best friend in high school. We covered many deep subjects in many long conversations throughout our time at Natchez High. And we sang together, both of us tenors, in a choir, as well as in the “Duzin Cuzins”, a folk singing group. As happens, somehow time sped by but we were reunited at our 40th high school reunion. He was still Jerry…sweet, funny, talented and ethical to a degree few ever reach. 
I weep for his much loved family, and wish I could be there to celebrate his life.”

Jerry would have passionately agreed with Helen’s childhood, end-of-the-world story.

This song always brought tears to my eyes during the long stretch Jerry and I were out of touch. Made me think of him right up to the end.

 

Wait, that was WAY to heavy and sad.

 

Here’s your comic relief. After all, the end may be near…….

 

And once again, WAIT. I just found THIS on YouTube. This is my dear friend Jerry’s son, Tyler Flowers. Worth a listen even though the lyrics don’t exactly fit today’s theme. But with a topic like this, I figure we need all the good music we can find!

 

Song Lyric Sunday Theme for 1/14/18

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Communal-Daily Prompt from WP, uh, don’t get me started!

Communal

(disclaimer: wordpress keeps freezing on me and then I lose entire posts because it also does not save drafts for me. This is a late night re-creation of a post I wrote earlier today…and I think the original was a lot better.)

This word is my preferred way of living, by far, and not just because I came of age in the 1960’s when that was all the rage. I did live in actual communes in my late teens and early twenties, and I thrived in that setting!

But really, I was kind of raised that way in the first place.

My Mom was a single working mother and was so well-loved by all of my friends, they all called her “Mom”. At several points in my young life, there were many other kids (besides our three) who either lived with us or crashed on the living room floor in sleeping bags….this latter category often as a short respite from their own broken and painful homes. During my highschool years (before I prematurely left home myself) a few times, my Mom would even find one of her extra “kids’  passed out on our front lawn. She would nurse them back to sobriety and eventually send them to their real homes to try to work things out.

And my mother also had other single-mom friends who would be around (or not), kids in tow (or not). My tiny childhood home, when my Dad was out of the picture, was delightfully unpredictable and often filled with additional people, bringing a variety of interactions, activities, and support. There was always someone to talk to.

When I became a young single mother myself, it seemed the most natural thing in the world to open up my home to other young women in similar boats….the more, the merrier after all. That expanded to renting rooms to students from a very close-by college. And before I knew it, many years of this lifestyle flew by, and I had lived with so many people and kids and animals, I almost lost count. I wrote a post all about it for my friend Badfish. You can read about it here:

https://chosenperspectives.com/2016/06/13/__trashed-7/

One of my favorite experiences of communal living was on a Once-in-a-Lifetime (which turned out to be twice) extended trip to the South Pacific. Me and my six closest people, as well as a crew of four, lived together on a 95 foot yacht called the Tau, for well over a month. We sailed down around and explored the Southern Lau Islands (Fiji).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lau_Islands

We lived on the TAU (in Fijian, it means friend) and though it was a beautiful and spacious ocean going craft, it could be crowded, so we had to develop some communal living rules to live by (like honoring the silence above deck during sunrise and sunset… Oh, and flushing only 3 squares of T.P. at a time or incurring the wrath of our Captain!)

Now, in these later years of my life, I think my version of Communal Living would be more like some of the wonderful Co-Housing communities born in the greater Seattle area this last 20 years or so. But I currently have a houseful of people I dearly love (my partner, my son and two grandsons, and a long-time family friend…oh and three cats) And we will live together communally in this rustic old house, for as long as the current economy will allow.

I have some very close people in my life-my adopted sister, my son, and my best friend-(all introverts) who cringe at my chosen lifestyle, but they can’t be surprised. Co-Housing and Communal Living is in my my history, my blood, maybe even my genes.

Though I am not a Mormon, my great, great grandfather was Brigham young. If you have come across his history, you know that at least 16 of those 55 wives, lived in row houses close to the Salt Lake City Temple.

And you just know they lived communally.

 

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Anyone know where the weed trimmer is?

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Whose turn is to PAINT?