Whamageddon

Author’s disclaimer: There is no link or blog trick that will play the song “Last Christmas” by Wham anywhere in this post.  I give you my word that, if you are still in the game, you are not taking a risk of being Whammed by reading this post.  I swear on my reproduction first edition of A Christmas Carol, so help me Dickens!

It all began when we saw Christmas appearing everywhere on November 1st.  The remnants of Halloween candy wrappers still played in the breeze on Musket Court when the sounds of Christmas music began to assault our ears.  It was more than I could deal with.  We were not even through the Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas was pushing in the door.

WHAMMy sons take part in an annual game that is lovingly referred to as “Whamageddon“.  It is an international sensation with a huge following.   (It must be legit if it has its own website and a Facebook page!) I am convinced this is an international attempt to hold off Christmas until mid-December, where it belongs. The concept is simple.  You do whatever you have to in order to avoid hearing the song, “Last Christmas” by Wham. That is not an easy thing to do if you are paying attention. The contest runs from 1- 24 December. Once you recognize the music as the original version by Wham, you are out.  You have gone to Whamhalla. You self report and you are done.  It is just a matter of time before those who you love join you.  Covers of the song don’t count!  It has to be the original, by Wham (George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley).

I was all in on November 30th as I boarded a flight to Savannah.  My first year in the competition and I was ready to go, my Wham senses on full alert.  On December 1st, the first day of the competition, Jeanne wanted to go get wreaths for her house and pick up her decorations from her storage unit.  We set out down the Harry S Truman Parkway with her “to do” list.  At the first Christmas Tree tent by the Home Depot, she ran into a friend and they started chatting.  I was lost in my thoughts and mindlessly humming the barely audible Christmas tune playing above the din of holiday shopping, tree selecting and parking space jousting nearby when, on the second verse, it hit me.

Once bitten and twice shy
I keep my distance
But you still catch my eye
Tell me, baby
Do you recognize me?

Yeah, I recognize you… Damn it! At just before 11 a.m., Eastern Standard Time in Savannah Georgia, I had been Whammed.  Done, out, game over.  I had made it barely eleven hours into the competition.  Jeanne apologized for putting me in Wham’s way with a sly grin on her face.  It was over almost before it started.  I texted the boys with the bad news.   I returned to Virginia a few days later knowing that I could listen to any station on my satellite radio without fear of a Wham induced incidence of road rage.

Alex, who initially thought he was eliminated over Thanksgiving weekend, actually was Whammed by Pearl Harbor Day when some Zeros from the 1980s took him out.  Within my Whamily (I stole that from Nancy) my sons Matt and Scott, Nancy (Matt’s wife) and my ex were still in it to win it.

Scott was powering through the home stretch of exams and papers for his final semester at Old Dominion University.  Because of this I was delaying decorating the house and getting a tree. Setting off the Christmas bomb, as we call it in our house.  With his last paper submitted and his final exams in the books on Friday, 14 December we decided to go get a tree.  Alex, Scott and I piled into my Cherokee to head out into a light mist to find a tree.  As I started the car, Scott immediately questioned my choice of Sirius stations.  It was on a contemporary Christmas Channel.  He glared at me and uttered one word, “REALLY?!” I pressed the button on the steering wheel and landed on the “’80s on 8”.  Another incredulous glare.   “And what song was released in 1986?” is all he had to say. (He knew the year of release, I’m impressed) OK, we may be just a little hardcore about this year’s competition.  Pressing the button on the wheel again to go to “’70s on 7”,  Wham does not exist in that universe. Unfortunately, Disco does. We were able to get in and out of the tree lot on South Battlefield Boulevard without having George Michael as the ghost of Christmas Past appear before us.

Let me say right here that to intentionally play “Last Christmas” (Whamming)  to take out a player or players is considered bad form.  Is it allowed? Yes.  Is it a dick move? Absolutely!  If you can no longer take the pressure of the game (I don’t understand the stress, I was collateral damage at a tree farm stand in Georgia barely into day one), you should commit Whamicide quietly, preferably on sound canceling headphones in the privacy of your own home.  No need to make a big spectacle of it.

On Saturday, December 15th, Scott graduated from ODU, Magna Cum Laude (Yeah, I did that, I just bragged about my son destroying my undergraduate GPA.  I am sorry, not sorry.)   The plan was to have a big family dinner, including my ex, on Sunday evening at The Butcher’s Son in Chesapeake to celebrate my son’s accomplishment.

Around the large round table, clockwise to my left were Scott, Melissa, Nancy, Matt, and Alex.  Somewhere in the lively conversation, between the french dip spring rolls and the main course, I polled those present as to their status in Whamaggedon.  Four hands went up indicated that they were still very much in the mix.  Everyone except for Alex and myself.  The conversation drifted back to Melissa’s new digs, and Matt & Nancy’s planned NYC run on the infamous Chinatown Bus later this week to see the Harry Potter exhibit at a museum in New York.  Under the sultry gaze of the over-sized portrait of Hedy Lamarr on the wall by the bar, we were having a grand old time.  Scott was enjoying himself, which made me a happy papa.

Dinner was served and by the time the plates were cleared, I was ready to declare this a  successful evening.   The waiter pressed once again about dessert and coffee.  Scott was wavering on cheesecake.  Melissa and Nancy were discussing teaming up on a creme brulee. It was settled.  A slice of cheesecake appeared before Scott with “Congratulations” written across the plate in a raspberry reduction.  The girls had their spoons at the ready for the assault on the confection before them.

It was the sudden movement that caught my attention.  Nancy straightened in her chair, shoulders back, eyes widening.  She looked at me, something was amiss.  I scanned the dining room, nothing out of place.  Hedy’s portrait still kept vigil.  Then it hit me, they had changed the music. What was that drifting over the din of diners at nearby tables? Nancy had joined me in Whamhalla.  This was too much fun!  I was about to witness a group whamming.

It doesn’t surprise me
(Merry Christmas!) I wrapped it up and sent it
With a note saying, “I love you, ” I meant it

Matt had it next. As he realized what he was listening to, his eyes grew wide, an expletive may have passed his lips.  That triggered Scott, dropping his fork.  Finally, Melissa realized that they had been taken out in one Whamtastic swipe of The Butcher’s Son sound system.  Groans, and complaints from all at the realization that all had found Whamhalla.  Except, apparently, from me.  According to a post on Facebook from Nancy, I had a good, heartfelt laugh as the realization washed over the table.   Matt and Alex confirmed that I was not shy about showing my enjoyment.  To be fair, Alex thought it was pretty funny.

I owned it and the check for the evening. It was great fun while it lasted.  A silver lining, as pointed out by the fair Nancy, there is no more stress from listening to Christmas Stations on the radio, walking into Harris Teeter, MacArthur Center or a random 7-Eleven.  If you hear the staccato electric organ lead-in or if you stumble on the YouTube channel you can rest assured that you are already impervious to Wham.

Now that this is all over I can settle down to watch a nice family Christmas movie.  Any takers for Die Hard?

Last Christmas 1

OK, in my youth I was weak for Kathy Hill, the girl in the video. Sue me!

Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

I am getting back to work here

I have not posted on the blog since last summer.  In the interim I have been working on my other blog.  If you know about that blog, you know about it. If you don’t,  let’s just say I do not want to cross contaminate between the two blogs.  This is the lighter of the blogs, where I am going to put out family histories or stories that I want to tell.  You can contact me if you want to know about the “dark” blog.  But for now I am going to tell you what I am going to focus on projects here for a while.  I am doing this not only to give you an idea of the things I uncovering or rediscovering, I am also doing it to put myself on the hook to complete the unfinished posts in my queue.

Grow Old

Photo from promo materials from the film “They Shall Not Grow Old” by Peter Jackson

Last night, Matt (the eldest of the “sons”) and I attended a screening of the film “They Shall Not Grow Old”.  One Hundred years have passed since the end of the Great War (World War I).  This film is about the ordinary British/Commonwealth Soldier along the Western Front from 1914-1918.  This was not meant to be a discussion of significant battles or a rehashing of the geopolitical implosion of Europe in the wake of the assassination of Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, Hapsburg heir to the throne of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, in 1914.  This is a story, told through the film archive of the Imperial War Museum in London,  using over 100 hours of film shot along the Western Front from 1914 -1918 and over 600 hours of audio files of Veterans of the Great War telling their stories.  It was not a Ken Burns style documentary, but it was a powerful piece of film making.  I know this is not everyone’s “cup of tea”.  But I was all in.  Thanks to Matt for inviting me to attend one of the screenings here in Norfolk, Virginia with him.

 

At the end of the film, after the credits had run, Peter Jackson discussed the techniques used to restore and make the film more natural to watch.  It was really fascinating.  One of the things he said resonated with me.  He pointed out that as the generations pass these stories are lost.  He encouraged people to preserve those family connections to history.   I am going to do just that.  I have been researching the service of my great-grandfather, Ensign Sidney J Kelly, USN and two of his sons during the war.  His youngest son, my grandfather, was too young to serve in the war.  I have Sidney Kelly’s service record from the National Archives and information on his sons through unit histories that I will share.

I am also working on Bernard Kelly (my maternal grandfather, Sidney’s youngest son),specifically his service with the Fire Department in New York.  I recently acquired a copy of his service record and I am working with sources in New York to get more information on his house assignments throughout his career.  I have completed his chronological list of assignments from 1928 through 1960. I am trying to fill in details.

Finally, I am working on a post about the Baumanns of Red Hook in Brooklyn. I have always been curious about my father’s family so that is a labor of love and curiousity.  Along with all this family history,  I may throw in some funny stories and adventures to Savannah into the mix.

I think I have given myself enough of a homework assignment for the moment.    Stay tuned…

The Cat, My Nemesis

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Misty

We are rivals for the affection and attention of the same woman. That is where our commonality ends.  I am not a “cat person.”  My feline aversion has everything to do with allergy and very little with to do with animosity.  I think Misty, the cat, somehow knows this and is using it to her own advantage.

It all started a few years ago when I visited Jeanne on Dutch Island for the first time.  I knew I had an allergy to cats and I knew she had a cat in her house. It is her daughter’s pet. I figured that I would just avoid contact with the cat and all would be fine.  Besides, Jeanne is a doctor and would be able to head off any ill effects if they popped up.  What could possibly go wrong?

During the second day of the trip, I started sneezing and feeling a little itchy. But I was cool about it.  The crush I had on this woman all those years ago was manifesting itself into something more significant, and I was trying to avoid complaints or whines about the cat. That evening we were in her kitchen preparing dinner.  I was sitting at the counter while she was prepping something on the granite surface near the sink with her back to me.  The cat was surreptitiously perched on the stool next to me, presenting herself to be petted and looking annoyed that I had not already commenced that activity.  As the conversation progressed, Jeanne turned around. The look on her face changed immediately when she glanced at me. “OH, DEAR GOD!”  The shocked look and sudden exclamation were not exactly what I was going for in the “wooing my dear friend” plan.  In the few moments that it took for Jeanne to finish the task in front of her and then turn back to me, my face had swollen to the point where my left eye was almost completely shut.

What followed was a bit of a blur.  A search for Benadryl, checking drawers for allergy remedies, mutterings of “I am a doctor, and I have nothing to help you in the house.”  I was getting a little loopy.   We hopped in a car and went to the store for allergy meds. It was about 10 p.m. on a Saturday evening as we pulled into the Walmart parking lot. The sideshow that can happen at a Walmart anywhere in the U.S. was in full swing in Savannah.  I realized that my swollen face was a part of the act.

Now, when I prep for a visit to Savannah, I start popping Claritin D like M&Ms for a week before I go.  An uneasy truce between Misty and I exists, but not without the occasional reminder that while I am on Dutch Island visiting with Jeanne, I am in Misty’s world.  I avoid contact with her because not doing so will lead to hives on my forearms, watery eyes and an increase in the frequency of sneezing fits.

DSCN2264When I arrive, you can almost sense that the cat is looking at me and thinking “Back for more, little man?”.  She still presents herself to be petted.  I always ignore her.  She sometimes pays me back for the slight by nipping at me.  While I am there, Jeanne will close the cat out of the bedrooms. Those rooms are Misty’s favorite place to sleep at night after napping all day.  My nemesis does not appreciate the appropriation of sleeping spots by the interloper from Virginia.

If I am up early in the morning to walk Bella, Jeanne’s Vizsla, Misty will be waiting for me when I am done with the dog.  Mewing like she has not been fed in days she will follow me around, rubbing against my legs until I make my way to the kitchen to feed her.  If I am wearing shorts in warm weather, I am dancing to get out of the way of the feline contact.  Once her dish is full, she will harass me for treats.

Book

I laugh at your literature!

She has stepped up her campaign to get me out of the house and ensure she has access to her favorite sleeping haunts.  She will walk across the keyboard on my laptop or just lay upon it staring at me as random letters rush across the screen.  She seems to be almost taunting me to pick her up and move her off.  She will rub all over my computer bag, lay on my coat.  At Christmas, she seemed to be ridiculing me by using a book on cat training as a pillow. It was a gift for Jeanne.

While sitting with Jeanne watching TV, Misty has been known to walk across the back of the sofa and start forcefully rubbing her head on the back and top of my head.  I do so love hives on my scalp!

I have been told that the allergy may resolve itself over time with more exposure to the cat.  I think, if Misty had a vote, I would have been dispatched from my intrusions into her world long before any allergy was overcome.

IMG_4637On the last two trips, she has violated our truce by urinating first near and then on my shoes after I came back from walking the dog. A small rivulet creeping away from the stain on top of the slip-on and running along the grout in the front hall tile. Nearby, she sat on the stairs, cleaning her fur and occasionally glancing in my direction.  I think she is throwing down the gauntlet.  I have challenged Misty to a final battle in the marsh along the Herb River behind Jeanne’s house.  It is still in doubt which one of us would emerge victorious after such a clash.

For now, I will start the Claritin D a week before heading to Savannah.  I will continue to avoid direct contact with Misty, as far as I am able.  Shoes or anything else I bring along with me will not be left out to be insulted by my catty antagonist.  I can only wonder what Misty has in store for me on my next trip south.  I know she is waiting for me.

cropped demon cat

Rivulet

Fearless

She is fearless.

For Christmas this past year She arranged for us to get a glass working lesson for two at the Drayton Glassworks in Savannah.  We synched up our schedules and made arrangements for a Saturday afternoon in March to spend a couple of hours learning about the art/trade of glass.

Ronald was our instructor.  He was wrapping up a lesson with a couple when we arrived.  After introductions, some basic shop safety rules and an explanation of the equipment in the glass works we got right to it.  Ronald’s ease with a combination of molten glass and new students was both impressive and unnerving.  He took us through the basics of handling glass on pipes and how to start shaping and adding layers and colors.  The goal for today was a paperweight for each of us.  I went first, and I can tell you that I was playing defense all the way from the glass coming out of the crucible until my finished product went into the kiln.  Then it was her turn.

She jumped right in.  This should not have surprised me.  When it comes to a new challenge, a new way to express herself artistically, She is all in.  The way She takes to new things is nothing short of amazing.  While I was over thinking everything and acutely aware of the heat of the glass we were winging around the studio, my partner in crime was examining colors, exploring shapes and working on putting the vision in her head into the molten glass. Her hands were gracefully twirling and manipulating the glowing glass on the end of the pipe with an ease and cadence that defied any notion that She had never done this before.

Ronald guided her through the steps and offered assistance when She needed it.  I watched her face as She concentrated on her work.  It was the same determined look I remember from high school.  Head slightly tilted, her lower lip gently held between her teeth.   When Ronald would take the pipe from her to heat the glass or add another layer over her work, She would look at me and just beam this incredible smile.   This was not a competition between us.  Which is a good thing, because She owned everything about this experience.  When her smile starts in her eyes and washes over her face, I know that She loves not only what She is doing, but that we were doing it together.  I am utterly bewitched by the sparkle in her eyes when I see her so happy and determined.

IMG_3853

As She was wrapping up the paperweight and preparing it for the kiln, I could see She was hooked and would want to come back and do another lesson.  As the project twirled and rolled in front of her I could tell She was wishing that our two-hour lesson was not ending.  Her project was ready to be separated from the pipe and placed in the kiln.  A few more rotations and some gentle scoring would enable a few taps to free the hot globe for a 24-hour rest in the kiln.

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On the Monday after our lesson, She went to the studio to pick up the paperweights.  Ronald left three for us.  In addition to our projects, he left the one he made as a demonstration during our lesson.

paperwights

I had already returned to Virginia, so She sent a photo.  She also posted it on Facebook,  with a little tease:

The results of Saturday’s glass working adventure at Drayton Glassworks–one by Michael, one by me and one by the instructor! I will let you all figure out who did which!!

To be honest, I could not tell which was which.  In fact, I had to confess that I was not even sure we had done these.  Ronald had a few classes that day, and I am not sure that he noted who did which project when he placed them in the kiln. She is not sure, herself.  Does it matter?  Not really.  The glass paperweights are a prompt to a great memory of a day spent together opening the aperture of our shared experiences.  They remind me of her determination and her grace in realizing her artistic vision and learning something outside of her comfort zone. The memory of that smile reminds me that, in those stolen moments when I am the only one who sees that big grin and slight shoulder shrug, I fall a little more into her gravity.

How you delayed my flight…

You don’t know you did it because you were in a rush to get to your connection at Reagan National Airport in Washington D.C. This was not a delay caused by the airline or by the weather, it was caused by the inconsideration of a fellow passenger.  Let me explain.

On 22 December 2016,  I hopped on an American Airlines flight (AA 4054) from Norfolk, Virginia (ORF) to Washington D.C.(DCA). There I was to pick up a connecting AA flight (AA 4142) to Savannah, Georgia (SAV) to be a +1 at an event on the 23rd.   We had a short ground delay in Norfolk, but we were wheels up pretty quickly for the 40 minute flight north.

cl-65The flight to D.C. was  uneventful. That is until we aborted the landing because, as the pilot said in his announcement, he was uncomfortable with the separation between landing aircraft.  We bolted out to the west and rejoined the pattern to the south of the airport for a second approach.  This time there was no issue and we were on the ground heading to the apron area where the Canadair CL-65 aircraft were serviced at a common gate.  There was a younger woman a few rows ahead of me who was agitated about the “go around”, concerned it would cause her to miss her connection. Even with the short ground delay and the second approach to Reagan National, we landed close to our published arrival time. The passenger a few rows up was working herself into a lather.

If you have been in the AA terminal at Reagan National where the regional jets are managed, you will know that you do not arrive at a gate.  You arrive at an aircraft parking area where passengers are unloaded onto buses that take you to the nearby terminal building at Gate 35 X.  Your departure from the aircraft is really dependent on either the slowest baggage handler or slowest passenger deplaning the aircraft.  With the opening of the cabin door and the placement of the ramp off the jet, we began gathering our stuff from overhead bins and headed out.  My young friend about two rows up had really spun herself up and, in her haste to deplane, caught the strap of her bag on the armrest of one of the seats in row 8.  Instead of reaching down to release it, she gave a violent jerk and pulled her bag away from the obstruction.  In doing so she ripped off a large plastic piece of the armrest and scurried off the plane (to wait in the bus).  An older woman immediately ahead of me from row 9 stopped to move the broken piece of armrest out of the aisle.  The rest of the passengers exited the plane, collected their red tag bags from the baggage cart beside the plane and boarded the bus for the terminal.   Once there I saw our young, agitated traveler hop off the bus at a run and disappear into the terminal.

My flight to Savannah was scheduled to board very soon after I entered the terminal.  I had enough time to use the rest room before hopping back on a bus that would bring me to my next regional jet.   Once I was aboard the bus with my fellow passengers we went out to the aircraft.  I was amused to note that we pulled up in front of the very aircraft I had just arrived on from Norfolk.   We waited on the bus for 45 minutes for a “maintenance issue”.

DCA BUS.JPG

While people were generally in a good mood because of the holidays, it was a little confining to be packed into a bus, standing, on the tarmac waiting to board a plane.  Patience was beginning to wear thin as we cooled our heels.

We finally did make it on to the aircraft.  I said “hi” to the flight attendant who recognized me from the first leg of the trip.  She asked me where I was sitting on the first flight and then asked me if I had seen someone damage the seat in row 8.  I told her the story and she just shook her head.  We were going to be an hour or so late into Savannah because American Airlines maintenance had to effect a temporary repair to the armrest.  Once the jagged plastic remaining on the armrest was taped up, no longer posing a threat to crew or passenger safety, we were off to Savannah.

My point here is that the young, impatient traveler on my first flight, who was so annoyed at the potential of being delayed or missing her next flight, did not take the time to calmly free her baggage strap from the armrest and leave the aircraft.  As a result, she damaged the armrest, created a minor safety issue for the airline, delayed 50 people from leaving on time to their destination (although I doubt anyone was connecting to a flight out of Savannah) and put that aircraft behind on the rest of the schedule for the day. That may have had consequences on crew availability.  All this during the busiest travel period of the year.   While  being in such a rush, her lack of courtesy probably inconvenienced hundreds of people during the rest of the day. I wonder how many people missed connections on the other legs flown on that aircraft because of the hour delay she unnecessarily and unwittingly created.

There are unintended consequences from our actions.  I think that if were all a little more mindful of our behavior and treated our fellow travelers with a little respect, those consequences may be more positive.  We really do impact the lives of other people with our actions, even those with whom we share a fleeting moment in an airport or an hour in an aircraft.

Looking Forward, 2017

It is once again New Year’s Eve.  I am ending this year in the same place I began it, along the Herb River in Savannah. It is really the place I want to be because She is here.  That is more than enough to make me happy.

We all have rituals that go along with the new year.  Some are very traditional from watching the “Ball” drop on New Year’s Eve, a kiss with just the right someone at the stroke of midnight, or a champagne toast.   In my family, we await a special photo that comes out each year just after midnight on 1 January.  I do not know how or when it started but my brother, no matter where he is or what significant challenge he and his family are facing, will disappear just after 11:30 and reappear in formal attire for the arrival of the new year. Even if everyone else in the house has conked out or a raging snowstorm is going on at his New York home, James will get decked out and take a photo.  Sometimes it is a selfie, sometimes he has co-conspirators.   Every year we all wait for the photo to pop into our email/phones.

I know it is silly, but it is a tradition that I look forward to every year. It makes me hopeful that no matter what comes in the new year, we were stylishly attired at the start!

Hopeful
via Daily Prompt: Hopeful

When you say nothing at all…

The Song. It sticks in my head, and it is a frequent companion on my travels between the Tidewater of Virginia and the Georgia Low Country.  In fact, I have more than one version of it.  One that gets played on the southern journey and one that plays on the torture playlist for the trip north.  See, I am spilling details of which even she is not aware.

I met her on the first day of 8th grade.  I had been transplanted from Brooklyn, New York to the Pocono Mountains in eastern Pennsylvania.  I was not a happy camper.

As in all first days of school, the new kid is put through the humiliation of stammering through an introduction.  Just the facts, please.  Name, last home of record, new home of record, siblings (I have 5, so it was like a new infestation in the school) and finally, something interesting about me. It was a new personal hell.  I stood and looked at the new collection of faces and, at that moment, began to wish that Skylab would pick that moment to fall out of orbit and onto my head.

My Brooklyn accent betrayed me immediately. She turned her head deliberately in my direction as if tuning in a radio frequency. She was 13, I was 12.  She had also made the Brooklyn to the Poconos transition, albeit a few years earlier. I think she may have been the only one in the room to understand me as I mumbled through the self-interrogation.

She took some pity on me. She became my translator and guide to this new universe into which I had been forced.  She gave me the inside scoop on our classmates, and she laughed at my jokes.  She became my friend when I was awkward and seemingly invisible.   It was a friendship that I cherished.  Her opinion mattered to me.  So much so that at a point where I had to make a desperate decision, it was the fear of disappointing her that kept me from making a life altering mistake.

We went on to the same college after high school.   She was Pre-Med and I was not. We saw each other on the campus every now and then.  I wish I could tell you that I was smart enough to date her and find the “happily ever after” path with her as my translator and guide.  But that did not happen.  We went on to different lives and, as often happens, we lost track of each other.

Fast forward about 30 years, and we had reconnected. An acquaintance from the high school reunion committee passed her email address to me and I contacted her.  We corresponded.  We spoke on the phone.  We talked about everything.   I have to admit here that I have failed at every relationship I have been in.  I know that the blame is not all mine, but I own that which is. We talked each other through the aftermath of my divorce and the loss of her husband.  There was no room for secrets, but plenty for acceptance.  We still had not laid eyes on each other since college.

We agreed to meet for dinner while she was on a trip to a city that I was passing through to attend a family event.  In a bustling little bistro, we found ourselves across the table from each other.  Telling stories about the adventures and tragedies of our lives. I could not look away from her.  Something was drawing me into her laugh, her voice, her eyes, her smile.  Her voice had been softened by a slight southern drawl acquired in Savannah over the years.  Time stood still and evaporated around her. It was the first of many seemingly confusing emotions I experience in her presence. After dinner and a single malt tasting lesson (she is an excellent teacher), we strolled back to her hotel, her arm in mine as we walked through the February night. The chill that ran through me had nothing to do with the weather.

As we were about to part company, I leaned in to kiss her, “good night.”  It was soft and devastating.  It was comfortable and out of control.  It caught my breath and stole my heart.  It was as if the universe was smacking me in the back of the head and telling me that I should have paid attention in my youth.  As the kiss slowly released,  she turned her head in my direction as if she was finding that frequency, again.

A few weeks later, at the Savannah airport,  the kiss repeated itself, drowning out the crowd passing by us at the top of the ramp in the terminal.

This song captures the rain-soaked explorations of old forts, laughing in the grocery store, dancing to Big Band music in antique shops and watching her doze off in the front seat as we head out of Hilton Head.  I see her dancing to 80’s music in the kitchen of a friend’s home, and I see the face of joy. I feel like I am in a state of grace when I am near her.

You say it best…

.

Song

Christmas Tunes All Year

At any given moment, it may happen.  Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me crazy. Sometimes, even on a hot July Sunday on I-95 North coming home from South Carolina it happens.  You may have the same issue I do, so you will understand. Christmas music on my smart phone. Need I say more?

I didn’t know I could create a completely different music library on my smart phone for Christmas music. I know it can be done, I just don’t think I can do it.  I am about as technology savvy as the next 50 something year old so why is it that I cannot keep my Holiday songs from playing on Memorial Day, the 4th of July or Halloween?  I am certain that I can find a random ten-year old to give me a condescending look as he/she reshuffles my smart phone with the magical touch that only a human born into the latest technology can.

There are moments though, when I am on the highway covering the distance from Chesapeake to Savannah, when I will give in.  Don’t judge me!   You know the moment when you have had a couple of great tunes hit all in a row on shuffle.  You are in full car karaoke mode singing along with the Eagles to the live version of “Hotel California” at the top of your off-key voice.  The crowd goes wild and then your travel lane encore is “Last Christmas” by Wham?  I don’t think so.  “Blue Christmas” by Elvis may sneak through though, even in August when the mercury is pushing north of 95. Mid March, yeah I am singing along to John Denver and the Muppets singing “Twelve Days of Christmas”. Bare Naked Ladies singing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” will sometimes punctuate my afternoon commute in mid April. I have been known to sing the round on that song while waiting for the Great Bridge Bridge (that is really the name of the bridge, but that is another post) to finishing letting boats through on the canal .I have even been caught doing my Copycat version of Dean Martin’s “Rudolph”.

For now, because it is November, I can get away with a stray Christmas tune invading my shuffle playlist.  People will think I just need a little Christmas, right this very minute.  But come February, when I am doing the long distance run to my mistletoe partner’s Low Country kingdom,  that will be me passing South of the Border on I-95, polishing up my Brooklyn accent and joining in with Dave Koz and Friends on “Twas the Night Before Christmas”.

Copycat

Hermine

You can tell there is a sizable storm coming to Southeastern Virginia.  Yes, the local news is updating reports continuously and the clouds coming up from the south are beginning to look menacing.  But there are other indications that we take into account to gauge the severity of the coming weather event.

On the Chesapeake Expressway this afternoon there were more than the normal number of vehicles with plates from Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and Tennessee loaded with all manner of rooftop carriers, bike racks and trailers with kayaks and motorcycles heading north out of the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Given that the weekly beach rentals from Hatteras Island to the north end of Bodie Island are normally either Saturday to Saturday or Sunday to Sunday contracts, the migration of summer beach week cars on a Friday is actually more of an evacuation.

The arrival of power company trucks from out of the area is also an indicator.  Dominion Power has agreements with other companies in other states to help restore power should the local teams become overwhelmed.  When you start to see bucket trucks from Kentucky and Indiana at staging points you can bet something is up.

There are the more subtle indicators, there are small lines for the ATM and the gas pump.  People are filling gas cans for their generators, just in case.  The parking lots at the local grocery stores are full and people are scooping up all the eggs, milk and bread on the shelves.  I really don’t understand the tradition of making French Toast during a storm, but I will go along with it. Finally, the ABC Stores (where we buy our booze in Virginia) are doing a brisk business because, what is a storm without a party?

My plans for this weekend were to go to Savannah.  Obviously, Hermine got there before I could safely head south on I-95.  So for now, I am going to bide my time checking conditions as the storm passes through the Carolinas and across the Virginia border before going back out into the Atlantic.  If it safe to go to Savannah in the morning, I can head out knowing that I have already been to the gas station and the ATM.  For now, I will keep an eye on the radar and enjoy some French Toast.

Stay safe.