July 13. 2018 Friday

FLORIDA == CAROL ANNE and my old Vietnam Army buddy Larry have lunch in downtown Celebration. It’s been fifty years since he and I were in Vietnam together. He ran our radio station in Pleiku near the Laos border, during the time I was running the psychological operations intelligence section for II Corps in Nha Trang. The station got blown out from underneath him not once, but twice. The first attack came on a night when Larry and I and Mike Merkel had dinner at the officer’s club in Pleiku and Mike swapped and took Larry’s duty officer slot at the station for that night. The station was overrun and a number of our men there were killed, including Mike. That’s how you die or live, in war — by luck and by chance. // Sparker and I also shared “the paint shed motor attack” in Nha Trang. As to this story, I have wondered as the years have gone on whether my memory of the paint shed being blown sky high fifty yards from us during a mortor attack wasn’t some of that memory-bracket-creep of an aging veteran thing. Veteran’s stories, after all, do seem to improve over time and become more harrowing. However, it seems that Larry not only was standing beside me on that fateful Sunday evening when the shed was hit, he was recording a message home to his mother back in New York … that’s right — Larry has a recording of it. Imagine that. Wanna hear it? —  I’ve heard it. I’ll pass..

GROVE == Larry, who visits us often and who lives in Ft Lauderdale, restores old motorcycles. When we took him to Grove’s motorcycle museum in Oklahoma, he was in heaven. He’s visible near the back. // After packing our books — 110 cases — the movers abruptly backed out and refunded our down payment. We thought about this, then bought ourselves airline tickets back to Florida and flew out of Oklahoma. The books will have to wait for another day and time.

NEICE MICHELLE, TOM and their daughter Emma have sent us wedding presents. When the St. Louis (baseball) Cardinals are winning, I am a huge fan. When they are losing … oh, never mind. But I am going to sleep in this jersey from now on, and  I want Carol Anne to sleep in hers too.

The jerseys have two sides. The number “18” would have been my number if I had played for the Cardinals. That’s s a little known fact. A better known is the fact that I never had any sports abilities whatsoever beyond being able to eat a hot dog with one hand while sitting in the centre field bleachers. While we’re on the subject … does my wife happen to have her hand on my rump?

Larry, my jersey and me.

. . . . . . . . .

OFF WE GO.

I suspect we’re coming to the end of our more extensive exploring since we’re running out of safe places to visit and explore. Kidnapping, white slaverery or beheadings are not of interest to us, even when it is not us being kidnapped or beheaded.

I do want to do the Northeast Passage from Murmansk to Nome, Alaska, and explore Australia and New Zealand more extensively. I do want to circumnavigate Australia and do the Kimberlies. But these days those interests seem like mopping up — like just filling in some interesting places scattered around that we haven’t yet had a chance to visit.

AMERICA … SWEDEN. That said, we will be in America during the next few months doing domestic this-and-thats, and then toward fall will fly to Sweden and head on and on (maps below).

AMAZON. Then late in the year we’ll make our third attempt to go deep into the Amazon River in South American. Twice before we have been booked to do this, but the fates intervened each time. The third time, as you know, is always the charm. Rumor is Valerie may be considering going us on our Amazon jaunt. That would please us.

LATER THIS YEAR == Sweden – Finland – Russia – Estonia – Poland – Germany -Denmark and into Bergen, Norway. In Bergen we will remain on the same ship, and will be joined by Anne and David, our beloved Scottish friends (unless they decide to come to Stockholm and board with us there for the ride to Bergen). Together we all will cross from Bergen to the Shelands, the Faroes, Iceland, Greenland, New Foundland and into Montreal, Canada (map directly below).

Here’s the map of our trip to the Amazon which we will be taking near the end of this year. We will fly to San Juan which, from Orlando, is like a $79 flight because of the number of Puerto Ricans who now live in Florida. That said, we didn’t much care where the ship sailed from.

. . . . . . . .

(Reprints from Carol Anne’s files in her Oklahoma office)

PROMOTIONAL REPRINTS of COLUMNS from THE GROVE SUN DAILY (1998)

DOUBLE CLICK to ENLARGE

DOUBLE CLICK to ENLARGE. These columns ran almost exactly twenty years ago and were found in Carol Anne’s files in her Oklahoma office. I sold THE GROVE SUN DAILY and my other newspapers, web printing operation and the newspaper real estate to an Australian Media Company based in Sydney, Australia in June 2007. They put the newspapers in bankruptcy three years later and afterwards they were sold out of bankruptcy for a fraction of I had received in 2007.

 

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July 9, 2018 Monday == Rummagings & Rubbishings

OUR LIBRARY on Grand Lake is boxed up and ready for the movers who will be along in another day or two. How many boxes is it? — about 100 cases, but the movers will take up to 140. Carol Anne and Larry have spent the better part of two days repacking our Oklahoma books. They are on their way to what will be our office/library in Florida.

The bottom level of our lake home is a mess. Water has been restored and the lines repaired, but some of the ceilings on both the first and second levels had to be torn out to find the broken water lines. Thirteen houses are around in our Okaoma resort community had broken water lines, and like us, most had turned off the water last fall. Repairs will have to wait for another time, probably come fall. The Oklahoma books will be joined in our new office/library by the books from our Florida home, most of which have been boxed up and are ready to go already.

Larry and Carol Anne share breakfast looking out on the lake. It’s not clear what day the movers will come. The cable guys have been not showing up to repair our cable for months. We’d like an electrician to have a look at the wiring as we prepare to design a new floorpan for the bottom level and … and Carol Anne is scheduled to fly back to Florida on Tuesday night. Larry and I, since we won’t be driving the books south, will find a convenient flight in the next few days and head back to Florida, too. Loose ends. What’s new about that?

RICK (right) and SUZANNE (photo below) have shown up for an evening. Rick worked for me many years ago and is like a son. // Rick and I have been discussing the people who have cut a road across some of my lake property and built themselves a boat landing. I have been working with a neighbour who is a retired Intel executive to fence and close the road, but Rick has other suggestions which we considered. People around here often tear down trespassing signs and often do what they want to do. A few years ago a hunter fenced off a portion of another property I own, put in a gate and began hunting on my property. My attorney put an end to that. The sheriff may have to put an end to the current crop of trespassers out on the lake. Situations involving trespassers can quickly become dangerous and have to be handled with caution.

Carol Anne (left), Suzanne (centre) and Larry. Carol Anne is cleaning out our still sizeable amount of remaining office supplies and donating them to Suzanne who teaches school. Each time Carol Anne gives Suzanne (or others) stuff, it opens up new treasures underneath that are also ready to be given away. It’s only been eleven years since we sold THE GROVE SUN and, yeah, we’re still sorting out stuff. We had a large warehouse and Carol Anne and I both have offices in the Lake house still chocked full of stuff. The problem is we do not get out here too often any more.

. . . . . . . . . . .

PHOTOGRAPHS from my Oklahoma OFFICE walls, and other RUMMAGINGS

Calla age 2 — she is now age 13 (below). Calla is shown with her aunt, Tracy, Carol Anne;’s daughter. This photograph has been tucked against the bottom of my office’s bulletin board for at least a decade. The photograph has not worn well –Tracy’s face looks weird. Tracy’s face did not look weird, and has not looked weird then or now. A grown up Calla and along with her sister, Cecelia, are just below in a photograph taken five days ago in Virginia.

Calla, left, a teenager in year 2018, five days ago in a group  hug with her sister and me.

My brother Dave in his 60s at my sister’s farm in Missouri. Dave died earlier this year at the age of 81.

My sister, Susan (right) and my sister-in-law, Julie (my brother’s wife) in the 1970s. All of these photographs here and below hang, or are tucked here and there, in my Oklahoma office. Julie, my sister Helen Jean and I are the only ones now left from our family’s generation. The hand writes, and moves on.

By the time my nephew was marrying in the 1990s, my sister, who died from complications of MS, was beginning to fail. The joke I would sometimes tell about this photograph is that it was of my grandmother (sitting) and my parents, back row right and centre. There’s no truth to that. It is actually a photograph, one of our last together, of my brother and two sisters — we were the four survivors. By the time this picture was taken, our parents and oldest brother had been dead for many decades. I was the youngest and, as you can see from this picture, a heart-throb, total chick magnet and easily the best looking. … thank you …

Until a few years ago I believed only a couple of pictures had been taken of me as a child, and that, as the youngest, nobody much cared about me except for my father. Not many years ago I learned my oldest sister and my brother had all of the family photographs and voluminous files of my father when they began sharing them with me. I was stunned. I then scanned all of the family photographs and documents I could get and gave everyone a hard drive with everything on it. This is a photograph of me on Easter morning 1946, age 3. All photos of me before the age of five showed me smiling — after the age of five, none do. My childhood was black and white, quite binary. The dividing line was age five. Viewed now from the age of 75, I find myself increasingly unemotionally fascinated  …

My last assignment in Vietnam was to develop a cultural magazine called THONG CAM (“mutual understanding”) for the 135,000 Vietnamese employees of the US government. It was a cushy job giving me carte blanche to travel at will anywhere in Vietnam, and to go off to Tokyo where I was printing the magazine whenever I wished. It was tradition when an officer left my unit (I was loosely attached as an Army Captain hiding in civilian clothes to the 4th Psychological Operations Group in Saigon) for a cartoon to be drawn and presented to the departing officer. This cartoon of me I always found spot-on and hysterical. I TOTALLY milked my situation and, by the way, scooped up enough temporary duty money to put me a long way down the road to buying THE GROVE SUN when I returned home and left the Army. This cartoon has always sat in my Oklahoma office(s) reminding me and others that I have always been a weasel, and a pretty adept one at that.

 

 

July 7, 2018 Saturday == Virginia to St Louis to Oklahoma

CROZET == My arms are wrapped around two of my favourite women in the world — Calla (left) and her sister, Cecelia — once they were babies and then children and now, ages 13 and 15, they are women. They arrived back from touring the west with their parents just the day before we came through. We are in their yard and we have just arrived to have breakfast with them on our way to Washington, DC to catch a flight.

JANE nd her new DOG. We spent the night at Jay and Jane’s after we stopped in Columbia to see Carol Anne’s brother in Columbia and before heading to Washington. We are on our way to Oklahoma to oversee the moving of our library to Florida from our Oklahoma home — all 110+ cases.

THE EARLY EVENING flight was scheduled to give us nearly two hours in St. Louis to change planes and to see lots of my family who were meeting us just outside security. But the Southwest flights got balled up in bad weather and, at one point, we were left with only fifteen minutes to change planes. Good-bye family visit. But then Southwest couldn’t get our plane out of Chicago to meet us in St. Louis and … end of the day? We arrived in Tulsa at about 3 am the following morning with nearly five hours, in the middle of the night, sitting in the St. Louis airport. It happens.

LARRY, one of my oldest friends who shared Big Trouble with me in Vietnam, stands in the back of a truck in Tulsa figuring if it will be big enough to carry all of our books. He has flown up from Florida to help us move the books. In the end we discover it will be cheaper and easier to hire a moving company to move the books — and so we do that.

Larry’s flight route on his flight from Houston into Tulsa. As was the case with us the day earlier, his flight was hours late and routed him through four states.

CHERYL, now publisher of my old newspapers and the best darn publisher the newspaper EVER had, runs the Saturday farmer’s market in Grove and I stopped by to see her. — I began hectoring her about taking her statin medicines and paying more attention to other med issues that we share. “Am I hectoring her?” I asked. “Yeah.” “Should I continue to hector you?” I asked. “Yeah,” she replied. … okay, will do!

GEORGE IS COMING — one of Carol Anne’s special friends from Knoxville is coming to Williamsburg along with his wife to stay with us for a few days later this month. I am excited. George was going to marry us but instead we just eloped. George has asked me to read this book and so I have been reading away … good stuff. Thoughtful. I look forward to talking with him about it, and I REALLY look forward to spending time with him and his wife. Like so many of our friends that we are blessed with, he is a special guy.

July 3, 2018 Tuesday == A new President for the College, and Water, water, water.

DAWN Carol Anne, aka Mrs. Crow, is silhouetted in an airplane window somewhere over Georgia. We are heading to Washington/Reagan airport and on to Virginia to meet the water guys who claim they can run nearly five hundred feet of new waterline underground in a single day to our home in Raccoon Chase. Sounds good to us. Show us.

FREDERICKSBURG, VIRGINIA == We have stopped here for the night to explore, but are in Virginia for only two days, so hopes of seeing relatives, and other friends, is squeezed. We will return later in the month for a longer time and will hope to assemble a social schedule then, but first, after this quick flit through, we have to fly to Oklahoma.

Fredericksburg is a charmer.

. . . . . .

TAPPAHANNOCK

LUNCH IN TAPPAHANNOCK at NN Burger == maybe the best hamburg is the world. Period. My first roommate in college was from Tappahannock. I spent Thanksgiving at his home as guests of his family in November 1960. He flunked out at the end of the first semester. Nice guy. Really nice family. I lost touch with him almost immediately after he left the college.

. . . . . .

THE COLLEGE’S NEW (lady) PRESIDENT

The new President of our college, the College of William and Mary in Virginia, is a woman (second from left), lately on the staff of Smith College and, as she pointedly said in her remarks during her installation in the Great Hall of the Wren Building on July 2, she is a “New Englander.” We’re open if skeptical. Women, after all, very capably ran THE GROVE SUN during all my years of ownership, and a woman (Cheryl) still does. But the times have turned savage and the liberals gone ugly with violence against conservatives fast approaching. These days we have liberal “confrontations” in movie theatres, restaurants and on the streets of Republican public officials and others. We have shreaks of “white privlege.” We have “IMPEACH FORTY-FIVE” [President Trump] from a nutty black congressman, and crazy calls to abolish ICE, the idea of which would, I guess, be to throw open our borders to all comers.  … does this people have any idea how sick and tired people who want a fiscally responsible socially conscious government have gotten? Is this mid-term election going to be a repeat of 1934 — only this time with the Republicans trouncing the Democrats? /// The cleavage of the fiscally responsible with liberals, even among old friends, is nearly complete. One of our “oldest friends” got the ball rolling when referring to Carol Anne and I as “you damned Republicans” a few years back. They were actually guests in our home at the time. /// So. We wish our lady President of William and Mary well. We hope that she will govern our beloved College wisely and find it in her heart to be respectful and embracing of all ideas and thought. But we’ll see. The man in the photograph is her husband. /// We are seen visiting with the new President and her husband on the portico of the Wren Building following her installation.

. . . . . .

THE NEW WATER LINE at RACCOON CHASE

WHO ARE THESE GUYS? == the contractor has shown up on time and on the day agreed on. Un-freaking-heard of! Now they are burrowing down nearly four feet at the entrance to our property preparing to run a whole new waterline underground to our house. The old waterline is kaput.

By using this machine they can tell how far the driving has progressed. They are nearly to the house. The old waterline connected to the left side of the house. The new line will connect straight ahead to the right side of the house.

The team is watching beside the house for the boring to break through. Once the drilling is complete, the new waterline hose will be fed back through the tunnel and contacted to the main water line.

The new line waits, coiled, ready to be fed back through the completed bore to the main waterline connection.

Closeup on the specs for the waterline so later when the damned thing starts to leak we’ll know what is down there.

MAJOR UH-OH MOMENT — they are patching the imperfections in the new waterline before feeding it back to the main water hookup. They are PATCHING our NEW waterline?

The team down at the house (above) stayed in contact with the drilling team up at the street by radio. Periodically they would advise the driller to correct his direction — “go to in direction of ten o-clock” or “course correct slightly to the left …”

Ready to feed the new line back through the newly drilled bore up to the street.

The team at the street where the water main connection to the house is located. The new line has been drilled underground in this photograph on the left of the driveway down to our home. The old line was abandoned and was left in the ground on the right.

DONE — it took twelve hours, longer than expected. This was an unusually large bore drill for the boring  contractor — nearly 500 feet. Ttheir equipment was slow, according to our plumber guys who hired them as a sub-contractor. A faster boring machine was not available so they had to go with the company with a much slower one.

 

June 26, 2018 Tuesday == The World we Live in.

HOW IT REALLY HAPPENED.

“What are you talking about? Carol Anne and I have been married for years.”

I am sitting in the office of my trust attorney in Oklahoma.

“Show me a marriage license,” he said.

“This is Oklahoma. We’re a common law state like every other state in America. Ninety percent of the married people in this state don’t have a marriage license, and, by the way, according to Gallup, isn’t that also true for the majority of married people in America now?”

This isn’t going anywhere.I tried a different tactic:

“Show me YOUR marriage license,” I said.

He shifted uncomfortably.

“You’re seventy-five.” He said.

“I look good for seventy-five.”

“You don’t look that good. But the point is you said you wanted to ‘air-tight up’ all the legalities of your estate.  You said you wanted to know if any laws have changed or if there are any new court rulings that might affect you and Carol Anne. The answer is, this is not your world anymore, and it sure is not mine. Get a damned license.”

“A license will cost me a hundred bucks.”

“You can afford it. And buy that the woman a diamond — women judges love it when they think you’ve been treating women right.”

“I bought her a diamond a long time ago.”

“Buy her another one.”

 

THE FATE OF THE BLOG

As I consider the future of this blog, I am increasingly unsure of the times we live in, and I am remembering two stories …

(1) The first happened in the grocery store in Grove when, after I had owned the newspaper for ten or fifteen years, a woman stalked up to me and asked, “Do work at THE GROVE SUN?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know Pete Crow?”

Since I owned THE GROVE SUN, and since I was Pete Crow, I replied “Yes.”

Then she started in one me, raising her voice, “I do too –he used to be a good friend of mine. You tell that creep” yaddadda, and on she went for a while about something that had been in the newspaper.

She concluded by shouting at me, “tell me you will tell him everything I just said. I want him to know!!”

I promised.

“Because if you don’t, the next time I see that bottom fisher, I’m going to ask him if you did, young man, and he’d damned well better know what I have had to say you – YOU HEAR ME?”

The moral: As it was in my years in Hollywood, the people who needed to know me, knew me. Everybody else just knew my name.

 

(2) The second story I told here in the blog not long ago. A deputy sheriff who was my friend came out to my Oklahoma ranch one day twenty-plus years ago and told me I was no longer safe living out there anymore.

This was long after the mafia stuff had settled and gone away.

But, having been warned, I bought a house in a gated community up on the lake and moved out of the ranch and never spent another night there.

That was 1995.

That unseen, unperceived danger that I first encountered twenty-plus years ago, was underscored earlier this month when Carol Anne and I were sitting with some friends on their deck overlooking the lake in Oklahoma.

It was a quiet evening, warm breeze, with only the sound of an occasional boat somewhere out on the lake.

“Nobody is safe out on the ranches around the county anymore — not just you now, everybody,” he said, slowly. “Drugs, kidnappings, shootings, robbery …”

He was in a position to know.

“Consider social media,” he continued, “and how quickly government officials are confronted by groups mushroom out of no where, or think about those Republicans practicing for a baseball game a year or so ago. They got trapped and shot and the guy trying to kill them was killed himself. Nobody is safe anymore,” he said. “Nobody.”

“Not even here?”

“Not even anywhere. There was a time when people knew your name, but they couldn’t put a face to you. Now crazy people think they know everybody, and they know how to find anybody.”

Later that evening as we drifted through his house, he paused because he wanted to show me something.

It was a gun case. It was an arsenal.

“I never knew you had weapons,” I said.

“I never used to,” he replied.

 

 

June 24, 2018 == Happy Birthday to my sister, Susan – a Photo Album on what would have been her 80th birthday

MY SISTER SUSAN, age 0, in the spring of 1939 as she began toddling. She is holding our father’s hand and her older sister’s, Helen Jean, age 7. Our brother, David, is on the far right. He is almost four. My father was crazy about kids and had five of us. Susan, born in 1938, was the fourth and it appeared she would be the last. My mother almost bled to death giving birth to Susan. The photograph is at our home on Altus Place outside St. Louis. Today a large condominium project stands on this site including the woods in the background.

Susan, left, David, right, and our oldest sister, Helen Jean. Today Helen Jean lives in Tucson near her daughter and grandchildren and is 86.

Susan and Helen Jean, undated.

1944. Susan. Me.

THE DICKSON HOUSE front lawn, 1943. Susan, Dugan the Dog, and me. When my mother became pregnant with me, my father bought Dickson, a much larger home with a huge lawn. This house has assumed almost mythic proportions in the family’s history in the decades since we lived there. It would be the apex of the family’s happiness, prosperity and security, an idyllic time that would be short-lived. My brother would die downstairs in this house later in 1943 from rheumatic fever, and my father would become fatally ill upstairs in 1948. His death was caused by a doctor’s mis-prescription.

SUSAN with our mother. Susan had a terrible relationship with our mother which at times was more than emotionally abusive. My mother, fifty years after her death in 1968, is viewed as a “woman/child”, an adult woman who never matured. She referred to her children as “your father’s children”. She committed suicide in 1968.

1944. Susan. Me.

Susan. Me. Christmas 1948.

Susan and I in 1975. She had three children and I cannot count today how many grandchildren she would have. I said to my brother once when we were talking about our family’s earlier years, “look at how it all turned out! — look your children! — look at your grandchildren! In the end it came out all right.”

THE DICKSON HOUSE — summer 1948. In the fall of 1947, and in March 1948, my sister Helen Jean went through the house twice and photographed, not only the house and furnishings, but each one of us. Susan was reading. My mother was holding our cat sitting in my father’s chair. I was looking at a train catalog on the couch … and so on. Then she went outside and photographed Dickson from the street. I find this photograph eerie although I’m sure she framed it to be artistic at the time.

 

Tulsa-Grove-Celebration == June 18, 2018 Monday == Water, Water, Everywhere — and Pizza.

SEATTLE to HOUSTON to TULSA == PHOTOGRAPH, the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma,  taken as we landed inbound from Houston. We’ve come to Oklahoma primarily for Carol Anne’s dentist appointment and to do some updating and reviewing of documents with my trust attorney. I also want to see three of my oldest friends — Phil, my actual attorney who has looked after everything for me for nearly fifty years (now mostly retired); Rick, a guy who was my top-kick at the newspapers years ago who has gone on to become a highly successful entrepreneur; and the woman who still runs my old newspapers, Cheryl.

IN TRAVELING IT IS ALWAYS the people you meet along the way. Meet Jenn. I sat next to her for several hours and finally decided that Carol Anne and I should swap seats because I felt Carol Anne could impart a lot of motherly wisdom to the issues Jenn was talking to me about. Jenn has run a day care centre for dogs for the last twelve years and if that sound frothy, consider she cared for eighty dogs each day and had a staff of nine people. Listening to her I quickly realised she is a first rate manager and is excellent in handling and motivating staff. These are unusual qualities, not often seen. The more she talked to me, the m0re I felt that she was sorting out her life, age 35, just like our Black Sudanese taxi driver in Seattle had been a few days earlier. Same age. The same fundamental issues. Jenn’s discussions with me had ranged far afield and into her life, the times she lives in, and even into her parenting. Mostly womanly issues. I turned her over to the best resource she might ever come across: Carol Anne — Jenn was on her way to see her newest nephew in Alabama. // Jenn’s managerial and team building abilities probably came from her father. He expected each of his three children to work together and to police one another’s behaviour and safety, and he engaged in both reward and punishment. “Every so often he would order the three us us [one brother, two sisters, with Jenn in the middle] into the bedroom. We were either going to all be spanked together, or we were going to be praised for our behaviour and all go out for pizza.” Really? “Yeah, it was really frightening, and I really kept an eye on how that little sister of mine was behaving — especially her. He would use a belt right on our panties or on my brother’s underpants right in front of us.” Now. I didn’t bring this subject up, and I wasn’t about to pursue it, but I just couldn’t help it. So I said, “often?” “Right through grade school and into high school, but just twice.” Did that mean a lot of pizza? “Oh yeah! Lots and lots of pizza,” she said. “Pizza, pizza, pizza.”

OKLAHOMA == We have flown south for much of a day from Seattle to Houston (fish tacos at our favourite Houston airport eatery for dinner between flights) and on, late at night, into Tulsa on one of the last flights of the night. The plan is to spend a week at the lake, assess and visit friends. In Tulsa, we settle in, overnight at the airport and pick up a rental car the following morning to head for the lake. The week is off to an auspicious start — clean clothes, showers, a rested up overnight and a rental car where they have thrown in Satellite radio … which means we can listen to easy going music (“Watercolors”)  as we cruise that last 1.5 hours up to our home on the lake. … a good happy start, right? — but, just you wait.We about to be attacked by an Aquatic Rule of Threes. // ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPH: Carol Anne is not only becoming an accomplished photographer but she is getting artistic on me. She took this photograph of Highway 412 in Oklahoma through her sunglasses to get a sepia tone. She was going for the clouds.

AQUATICS RULE OF THREES,  #1 == Arriving at the lake we asked a maintenance guy to turn the water on for us. The last time anyone was in the house was sometime last year when I came to Oklahoma to finish up H2, the second in my trilogy of novels (I didn’t get it finished, btw). … ALAS! — we got more water than we had counted on when our guy turned on the water. — soon we would learn that water pipes had broken in no less than thirteen houses around us during last year’s harsh winter including ours.We’d also learn that this simple fix (shown above) being done in the bathroom off Carol Anne’s office on our second (middle) floor, was not going to be the simple fix to all of our problems. After patching seven leaks, the plumber threw up his hands and fled, declaring that the entire house was going to have to be re-plummed. — Really? The WHOLE house? How did he suggest that he do that? “We’re going to start by tearing out the entire ceiling in Level 1 (of three levels) of the house,” he said, “and work our way skyward.” Uh-oh.

OUR WEEK at the Lake would soon become three days at the lake when hauling ten milk jugs of water into the house got to be too much, and when the plumber had gone on to fix other broken pipes all over town. We’re not the only ones now returning at the lake for the summer, it seems, who have broken pipes. Houses with broken pipes are everywhere in town. // I started my stay in Grove by finding the widow of another of my best Grove friends. He died in March about the time my brother died. March was a mess — Carol Anne and I were on our way to Seattle for a memorial service for a college friend when my brother died. Then in the midst of that my Grove friend, Bob, died. There’s not enough of me to go around. So I had decided I would track down Bob’s wife, Vera, first thing upon my arrival in Grove — she was #1 on my list. The problem was none of the phone numbers I had for her were working and I had begun to worry that she might have moved away, perhaps in with one of her daughters. Happily when I got to her house, there she was … I was heartened because she was doing well and, knowing her for many decades, I had feared she might not be … // PHOTOGRAPH: A view from the deck from our second floor.

CAROL ANNE standing at the cockpit door while we were waiting on the ground in Tampa. We have landed and stopped in Tampa? Weren’t we going to Orlando? // With no quick plumbing fixes in sight, we truncated our stay in Oklahoma and booked a quick two hour non-stop flight back to Florida that would stretch into nearly eight hours and include a stop in Tampa to get enough fuel to fly the last seventy miles to Orlando. // We spent the evening before we left Oklahoma with one of my closest friends ever, Phil and his wife — Phil, the attorney who has represented me from the day he opened his practice more than forty years ago, negotiated the sale of my newspapers more than a decade ago and he keeps an eye on my real estate in Oklahoma and pretty much my everything else. He is the county’s leading land attorney and is the go-to guy on offers people regularly make on my properties — he has been wanting to review a couple of offers with me. As he began talking I was surprised at his assessment of the values, especially of two properties I own. I always take his advice. “Don’t sell,” he said. “The values on your real estate holdings are going straight up.” … that is so much what I like to hear, Philip. Next time maybe I should bring wine that doesn’t cost three bucks and have a screw top.

NUMBER 2, THE AQUATIC RULE OF THREES … Approaching Orlando on our quick, nonstop flight from Tulsa, we began to circle over The Villages. SAY, WHAT? Weather over the Orlando airport was horrendous, the pilot told us — no planes in or out — so we circled and circled and, yes, that is the plotting of the course of our airplane on the TV monitor on board. Notice that we are heading for Tampa? Wonder why? Because although it s only seventy miles from The Villages, where we have been circling, to Orlando, it is only forty miles to Tampa and the pilot says we need more fuel or we are all going to crash and die.

DID YOU WANT TO FLY through these gorgeous clouds. Tampa here we come.

NUMBERS 3 and 4, AQUATIC RULE OF THREES == we have managed to get the new water line scheduled for replacement at the Williamsburg house on July 2 — Aquatic Rule of Threes Number 3 — but now we may have a fourth entry in our June Aquatics … arriving at our home in Florida in a driving rain storm, what is that dropping sound we hear? Could it be that the hurricane last fall not only took out our fence but also did something bad to our roof? Uh-oh, again. Wait! Did that dripping just stop? No. It didn’t. // PHOTOGRAPH. On final approach into Orlando — the weather still didn’t look too great even if the clouds were stunning.

THE CELEBRATION PREVIEW CENTER, downtown, night. Originally built to sell homes in Celebration it is now home to Bank of America. We have walked downtown — it is humid and hot. In the past month it feels like we have been through all the different kinds of weather that there is.

tamp