It’s NASCAR Championship weekend again which means the largest influx of tourists we have at one time every year. (As in thousands) Helicopters buzz in and out to bring VIPs directly into the Speedway. The truck championship is tonight, the Xfinity Car is tomorrow night, (I think it’s a night race), and the Monster Energy is Sunday afternoon. As I have previously posted, I did go with Hubby to the races twice and then gently and lovingly explained to him that now having had the experience, it really would make more sense for me not to go. He loves everything about it – the pre-race events, the entire race, and so forth. By this, I mean getting to the Speedway at like 10:00ish in the morning and staying until the race is over. He simply can’t have as good a time if I am with him. I have something good to eat for when he comes in and we both enjoy our weekend more. The past few years, he’s taken photographs for the newspaper and for his own pleasure.
This year is special though. The newspaper arranged for him to have actual press credentials which are much more tightly controlled for this weekend than for the rest of the year. This allows him access he normally can’t have and it’s perfect for him. He has all these new lenses and what have you and is even planning to have a second camera with him for tomorrow and Sunday. Quite honestly, I don’t know how he lugs all that around at one time for hours on end, but it’s part of the whole deal. As we discussed this morning, it’s a “bucket list” type thing even if he doesn’t have the $10,000 camera lens to go with it.
With Veteran’s Day approaching, I was invited to speak to a group on Wed about my “Inadvertent Pioneering” time in the Army. I am usually asked about why I haven’t written my memoirs yet. I think I’ve mentioned in previous posts it isn’t time for me to do that yet. I do capture bits and pieces and occasionally do a post here about different incidents. One amusing vignette had to do with the .45 pistol I had when I was in command of a large unit at Fort Campbell, KY (I think I’ve posted about that.) For those who aren’t familiar with the .45, it’s the same pistol you see in war movies from WW II through Vietnam. It was replaced with the 9 mm. Anyway, for reasons that aren’t terribly important, an individual convinced me I should be able to field strip and reassemble my pistol with my eyes closed and I ought to be able to do this in under 1 minute. I decided to develop this skill and so, when I was at my desk with enough spare time, I would check my pistol out of the arms room and work on this. As usual in the office configuration, my First Sergeant and clerk were in the outer office that led into mine. They became accustomed to this and the First Sergeant would time me.
At this point, the fact that I had one of the largest company-sized units at Fort Campbell and was the first female to do so was still somewhat of a curiosity. One day I was going through the pistol field strip and reassemble with my eyes closed. I called, “Time?” to my First Sergeant and opened my eyes to see one of the other company commanders from a different unit standing in my doorway. “There was no way I wanted to interrupt you,” the visitor said. (I was under a minute by the way). The gentleman had come to introduce himself because our units did have occasional interactions, but it was fairly obvious what he was really doing was checking out the “female” aspect as much as anything. It wasn’t a bad first impression to make.
The trip home went fairly well until close to the end when a wreck slowed traffic to a crawl and rain pounded for a while. Both situations were manageable and we literally swung into the house to drop bags off, then went to catch the last hour of early voting and proceeded to the annual Rib Fest. The organization, This Is For The Kids, does the Rib Fest and it was founded by a local man who was also later elected to City Council. Each year in leading up to the Fest, they ask for nominations of non-profits that focus on children. It has grown over the years and I ordinarily cannot attend because it’s usually held the same weekend that I travel to Louisiana. That’s how it was scheduled, but it was another of the events re-scheduled due to Hurricane Irma. We didn’t stay long, although did bring ribs and roasted corn home for dinner. In fact, since we wanted to sample from all three rib places, we had leftovers we enjoyed last night as well.
Sunday was a totally full day with yet another rescheduled event, the one-man play “Gospel of Mark”, at the Seminole Theatre. It was first done in the Middle Ages when the all-powerful Church felt religious plays were what the populous needed. The drama of this particular play was such that it actually provided a degree of entertainment and inadvertently laid the foundation for modern theater as we know it. The way it was explained to me is because plays began to be “too secular” and the Church sent them beyond their walls. With less restraint, religious themes gave way to others. This play endured as a piece of theater history and has been done on Broadway and in London by notable actors such as David Suchet, who played Inspector Poirot in several movies and the television series.
I have my usual commitments to take care of and am helping out a friend who is in the hospital so not much downtime is planned for the next few days.
I guess you never really know when coincidence will strike, or perhaps yesterday was another of those “meant to be moments”. I mentioned before I was taking a later than usual flight on the Shreveport to Atlanta leg. I woke up early as always though and in arriving early at the airport, I thought, well, I’ll see if I can get on the other flight, not expecting to have any success. The gentleman checking me in said he didn’t think I could, but he would send the bag up and I should talk to the young lady on the desk. I waited until everyone had gone into the jetway and she smilingly said he’d called her and she had only one seat left in the back of the plane. That was fine.
I proceeded on board and sat next to a woman, who as it turned out had never flown before. It does help to have an experienced flier in such cases although she wasn’t as anxious as one of the other passengers who was across the aisle seemed to be. If you’ve never been through Atlanta airport, it is huge, with multiple terminals and an excellent train system, but it can be quite confusing your first time there. When I learned the woman had only 47 minutes to catch her connecting flight, I was concerned. That was 47 minutes before the next flight left, not boarded. Atlanta is a good airport, but not for tight connections. Then we were delayed in departure by more than 30 minutes, which is highly unusual for Shreveport. I alerted the attendant to the situation and she said several people had tight connections with the extra delay. She gave everyone their gate information and I told the woman next to me as soon as we touched down, I would check her flight status and perhaps that flight was going to be delayed as well. It wasn’t. There were four other afternoon flights to her destination though. The attendant did explain the connection issue to the passengers as we landed (small plane with 24 on board) and asked if those who could wait would allow the rest of us to deplane first. Since I had plenty of time, I told my seatmate I would go with her and make sure she was taken care of. Fortunately, we did come into the same terminal and were only six gates apart. She could walk faster than me and I told her to go ahead and I’d come along just to check on her. Her connecting flight was on another, larger jet, so they did have about another fifteen passengers in line when she arrived. It was nice she didn’t have to go through the hassle of being re-booked and I hope the second flight went well for her.
Okay, I generally post only about my trips in these situations, but I am going to deviate from that. It was a good day visiting with my dad and sister. On the other hand, after the longest gap since 1997, my new novel, To Play on Grass Fields, is out. I need to explain about this book though. It is very different from any of my others. As I mention on the website, it is darker, more intense, and has a strong political tone. The easiest way to explain it is if you ever read and enjoyed Atlas Shrugged, you should be okay. That is not to say it is anywhere nearly as long or has the making of a classic, but merely to give an idea of what it is like.
I developed the idea for the book more than twenty years ago when I was in Haiti for Operation Uphold Democracy in the waning months of my career. I retired soon after returning from that deployment in a coincidence of timing, not because of. The position I held while in Haiti gave me insight into some discussions I would not have ordinarily had. Those conversations and my own observations stayed with me and I struggled with how to articulate what I wanted to present in the book. Now, as with most novels, while there are absolutely true elements woven in, it is written for drama with what is referred to as “literary license”. Therefore, revelation about the incident in the Caribbean should not be taken as literal.
If this book does not appeal to you, don’t worry. I do intend to have Shades of Deception, the new scuba-themed novel out in Jan or Feb. If I can ever figure out one more sub-plot to Small Town Quilting Treasures, I will have that out next summer.
Oh, I did have my catfish meal which is a “must” when I come back to Louisiana.
Sorry, I was going to upload the cover of the book, but am having computer issues. (That will ne explained in my next post.)
Pink Mangroves by Mimi Dickson
I was an infant in the first town we lived in, but it was the third one I can remember that was large enough (and that wasn’t huge) to have an art gallery or two. As it turns out, there are more there now although that isn’t the actual subject of this post. People who come to Homestead are a bit startled to see we have no galleries. There were some and during the real estate bust, a number of properties closed or changed hands and one of the impacts was to lose the galleries. Notwithstanding the fact I do buy lottery tickets, we still haven’t found that individual with a couple of million dollars to come in and open a gallery. It is difficult for local artists and in response, one of the Council members established an “Artist in the Spotlight” Program several years ago. An artist is selected and has a two-month exhibition. It was hosted by the Community Center which is a nice facility. After the historic Seminole Theatre re-opened, they installed a very nice hanging system and the exhibits are held there. A number of artists in Homestead Center for the Arts have been featured, and in fact, we will have three in a row spanning August through January. (The painting in here is currently on display.)
One of the excellent restaurants I’ve posted about (Chefs on the Run) has always displayed local art and as of last week, the Capri Restaurant (which also has Pub 935) joined in. The back room, known as the Gallery Room, had photographs and paintings, and I had noticed they seem to have been there for quite some time. We engaged in a discussion and I had not realized the owner’s mother had been one of the founding members of the Homestead Art Club. The Art Club had declined due to different factors and one of the HCA members revived it a few months ago. Membership is flourishing and they have now entered a partnership to display art and have a new exhibit every three months. Neither of these options is ideal as the artist has to be contacted for a sale and that reduces the chance for “impulse buys”. On the other hand, their work is displayed to the public and they can take pride in seeing it. And yes, sales do get made. By the way, if you do happen to know of anyone looking to open an art gallery, this could be the place.
What a whirlwind week with extra deadlines that seem to be getting together and multiplying. That probably isn’t happening, but I’m not going to swear to it one way or the other. In the midst of running about, I had the radio on as always and I’m usually on Thunder Country in the afternoon listening to Doug Hitchcock, a great guy who does a lot for the community. Anyway, there was a song I hadn’t heard before, “Thank God For Unanswered Prayers”. The title does get your attention. It starts out with a guy who sees a woman at an event (I think) and she was the love of his life at one time and it didn’t work out. The lyrics then are a mix of how much he had wanted that relationship, but because it didn’t, he found the true love of his life instead of the one he was so certain was it. By not answering the prayer of his youth, his life was made better. Basically a new angle on the Rolling Stones song of, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” with the line of, “You can’t always get what you want, but you might get what you need.” (That’s pretty close anyway.)
We all know this to be true, but we do need to be reminded occasionally of this fundamental truth. Do not get me wrong, there have been disappointments that were life lessons without necessarily leading to something better. Well, as I write this, I suppose learning to accept that truth is a positive thing. All of this is of course related to the old saying, “When one door closes, another opens”, and the other day I had to smile when I saw a post that used the phrase and added, “But sometimes the corridor between those can be long and empty”. (Again, pretty close).
I don’t recall when we watched the first version of robots fixed up to do battle and I think that show was called “Robot Wars”. If you aren’t a big fan of Science Channel, it is possible you aren’t aware of “Battle Bots”. They have taken the concept of fighting robots to an entirely new level. I believe the arena is in California and yes, there is a website as well as other Social Media contacts. Anyway, the arena is set up with tall bullet proof glass panels because of the flames and flying metal parts generated during the battles. It is very much like boxing from a format perspective. Each robot has their team of inventors and controllers. It might be a duo or a larger team. The robots are named and have their individual fans who come to cheer. Within the battle part of the arena, along the edges there are hazards such as spinning metal blades. Each robot is built with certain “weapons” and in addition to trying to knock out the opponent, the controllers can try to maneuver their opponent into one of the hazards for extra destructive potential. There is a referee who can do a “knock out count” and declare a winner, but if it’s not a clear knock out, the judges decide. There are also commentators who talk about the designs, give play-by-play and interview the teams.
Aside from the intriguing dynamics of watching people become involved with one or more particular robot, there is the aspect of science and engineering made fun. As I have mentioned in previous posts, I am all for just about anything that brings kids to math and science. If building a battling robot does it, then hooray! Oh, I’m not sure which robot or robots Hubby fancies, but I will ask him.
The Georgia Tech Football Gnome and Bart Starr Autographed Football
When my husband can swap between NASCAR and football, he is a happy man. When his Georgia Tech team wins he is truly happy. When the Atlanta Falcons then proceed to win, it’s nearly a perfect football weekend for him. (I won’t go into the rest of the formula of what makes an actual perfect weekend). Anyway, football and racing are his prime sports and as I have previously mentioned, the short gap in February after the Superbowl and before the new NASCAR season starts is always sort of a “sports trough” for him. It’s not as if we have many sports-themed items around the house and in general, the presents I give Hubby tend toward dive equipment, tools, and now of course, photography stuff.
Back in 2009, I think it was, I decided to surprise him with an autographed football from one of the greats he’d admired when growing up before Atlanta had a football team. The one I knew he had really liked came with a much higher price tag than I was willing to pay, but one from Bart Starr was reasonable. Although I had no actual idea how he would react to this, he did like it and in fact built and designed a little wooden stand for it. And even though I didn’t realize it at the time I bought it, when we looked at the authentication photo the autograph session had taken place in Marietta, GA which is where Hubby was born. That was quite a coincidence.
Okay, a few years ago I ran across a reference to “football gnomes”. Really? It did pique my interest and sure as the world, I went into the GA Tech on-line store and there they were. I suppose I should have known that where there is entrepreneurship, sports-logo gnomes would be inevitable. So, off went my order and in came the gnome. I wasn’t exactly sure of the size and as it turned out, he fits perfectly in front of the autographed football.
Yesterday was more disrupted than I intended, but so it goes at times. With the initial recovery well underway here, Hubby’s efforts are being focused on Key Largo. Horizon Divers where he works is ready to go as soon as people can start coming down. The Middle and Lower Keys took the brunt of Irma and their recovery will be prolonged, although we’re not certain of what that means time-wise. The Upper Keys, down through Islamorada, are still restricted with a “boil water” order among other things. The complex where HD’s dive operation is includes the restaurant Shipwrecks and that’s what the HD crew is helping with. It’s high 90s and intense humidity so the physical work required for cleanup and repair is pretty draining. Access to the Keys is limited to residents, business owners, and recovery personnel, but the intent is to be ready as soon as visitors can return. How many will is yet to be seen.
In our community, there were so many events that had to be postponed between prep and recovery this will be a hectic week as we sort through what can be rescheduled and how to do that. Power has mostly been restored here, but there are still shortages in the grocery stores and people whose property was severely damaged are dealing with that. Something as simple as if a restaurant wants to open, not having staff back means “normal operations” can be impeded. School is starting back today and that is an indicator of routines beginning again. It will probably be another two-three weeks though before we can be genuinely considered as recovered.