In Which my OCD Geekdom Pays Dividends

Conni arrived Tuesday night at Burbank Airport. She’d been traveling and flying for 26 hours. Poor thing was exhausted. Conni is our new foreign exchange daughter. She succeeds Sofie, our F.E. daughter from Belgium who was here for a year in 2007/08. Conni is from Austria, near Vienna, and at 16, will start at the high school on Monday.

She arrived just after 8 p.m. and we were told she was on U.S. Airways. I had been busy preparing final exams and doing a few interviews for three different publications–my mind was occupied. But somewhere deep in the recesses of my little brain, a flicker of light triggered. I paid little to no attention to it. But it was there–something about U.S. Airways from San Francisco to Burbank.

Burbank Airport is a great place and I’ve written about its charms before. It’s hard to believe that such an accessible airport exists in Los Angeles, yet there it is. Anyway–since I was a kid, I’ve been an aviation buff–an aviation nerd. My dad traveled for work a great deal and would get a little booklet that had the monthly schedule of every airline, every jet, every time-table in the United States. These were the pre-Internet days and I loved those books. TWA had a 707 that left LAX at 9 a.m. and flew to Chicago. It also had a Lockheed L-1o11 that left around the same time and flew to JFK in New York. My favorites to look up were the Braniff Airlines flights. Their jets were all painted different colors, orange, blue, green, even purple. I collected the old books as dad finished with them. I memorized TWA’s flight schedule out of Los Angeles as well as PSA’s (an airline that no longer exists) schedule out of Burbank. Those seemed to be the ones dad flew most often.

My airplane and airline geekdom, combined with what my wife lovingly refers to as my obsessive compulsive disorder, paid off on Tuesday evening. We stood outside at the baggage claim area waiting for Conni, but her arrival time came and went and we were pretty much the only three out there. I asked Sue and Shannon to wait there and I went inside because the little flicker of light in the back of my head began to grow into a stronger flame-then it kicked in. I channeled my inner Rain Man and got started…

U.S. Airways, I thought to myself, parks their jets, A-320’s and CRJ-700’s on this side of the airport along with Southwest Airlines. Those jets fly exclusively to Phoenix. That’s how US Airways works. They fly commuters to their hub–in this case Phoenix–and from there to  other places.  It’s apparent that no U.S. Airways planes have arrived. Could they have meant United Airlines? Because they park on the west side of the airport. No, my data sheet print out assured me, it was U.S. Airways flight 7053 from SFO to Burbank. What to do?

Wait…didn’t U.S. Airways and United Airlines have a mileage agreement? Why yes. Yes they do. And if they do, doesn’t that mean that United’s contractor airline would be able to fly U.S. Airways routes–or rather, fly U.S. Airways passengers on United routes, one of which is SFO to Burbank? Why yes. Yes it does.

So, I said to myself, if the U.S. Airways flight is a Skywest flight, doesn’t that mean that she would have come in at the Skywest terminal, down near United Airlines? Yes. Yes it does. And off I went–and on the way, there was Conni–standing with a look of forlorn askance on her face and a tired exhaustion that drained her. Poor thing.

She’s here now, though and is fitting right in. Simon even tried to lie on her lap on the couch, which I don’t know if he did because he’s a loving and affectionate dog, or if he wanted to exert a little dominance. Either way, Conni didn’t want the affection–who could blame her. Having a 57 pound German Shorhaired Pointer lie on you while you watch television is an acquired taste.

So-you see? Sometimes obnoxious levels of OCD and geekdom really do pay off.


Time is What We Have

Time has flown so fast since Christmas that I hardly know where to stand. Part of this manifests itself in my teaching schedule, which is new this year due to my teaching English 4. But let us not blame circumstance. I know who I am and what I’ve neglected and the blog is one of them.

I have been writing, though. There’s this piece over at Ventana and a myriad of pieces for the Ventura County Star. I love the work. In fact, I’m off to do one today, too. I miss church when I work like this, but Sue and Shannon go and while I do feel bad for missing it–honestly–I can’t turn down stories. Not while we’re upside down on this house and paying off debt hither and yon.

A three-day weekend on tap as the weather turned from unseasonably cold to unseasonably warm. 80’s today and yesterday. Well–high 70’s. Wind, too. My feelings on that are well documented. No need to turn nasty.

I’m inclined to say that more than anything, 2013 is starting off much like 2012. I’m running to catch up most of the time. There have been some things, though, that have marked the passage of time that bother me–even to the point of distraction.

When this blog reported that brother Doug and his wife, Katy, moved here to Ventura County, I was elated. It was nice having him here. Dad moved to Visalia, bringing him closer to us and while Jerry and mom remain in Phoenix, at least we had a quorum as it were. Shortly after New Year’s, however, Doug and Katy and their daughter Maddy moved to Dallas, Texas. Their reasons for doing so are unassailable and I do not fault them, but I do miss them–to the point of dreaming about their absence in ways that are deep, rich and full of metaphors.

It was a sad occasion, though armed as we are with many of technologies finest benefits, we keep in touch. I’d like to go visit them, but again time and finances are tight and getting a couple of plane tickets to Dallas is harder than it should be.

Then there’s our new addition to the family. We’re taking on another foreign exchange student, this time from Austria. Sofie lived with us for a year from 2007 to 2008. Connie will be here from January 22 through June. A shorter term, but still we’re excited to make her part of our lives and show her about. She has a younger sister and so Shannon will be that for her while she’s here. Her family has connected with us on Facebook and we’re pleased about the transition.

I just have that familiar feeling that, once again, January through June is going to go so fast it will be as if it didn’t happen. Of course it’s true–as I write this, it’s almost February. And time isn’t slowing down.

Gentles, I beg your pardon and wish you all a glorious Sunday morning. If I may quote from a new Facebook acquaintance, Tyler Russel: Blow up your TV. Throw away your paper. Go to the country, build your self a home. Plant a little garden. Eat a lot of peaches. Try to find Jesus, on your own.


Who We Are

The past couple of weeks starting with Christmas Eve have been a little tough on the waiting. It began with symptoms that seemed to indicate a kidney stone or at the least, perhaps a kidney infection. I’ve suffered a stone before and though I did not end up in the hospital, nor did I get violently ill, it is an unpleasant and nagging pain that’s hard to take. And I thought that’s what I had.

But I was wrong. One thing led to another and last week, I had a CT scan. Friday night, the doc called to let me know that all is well. I do have, however, diverticulosis. This is not diverticulitis, the one that causes infections, etc. It can be a precursor to that, but most of the time isn’t and is merely a condition that means there are a few stretched out pea-sized pockets in my intestines. Flare ups on occasion cause some discomfort and this radiated into my left flank. Good times.

Hypochondriac that I am, I now fear the litis because of the losis. The losis doesn’t mean the litis will appear, but I fear the litis and jump to it, leaving the losis to mire in the distant moors of my intestines. Crampiness in left lower abdomen, a few tummy issues–but mostly, losis is harmless. Increase the fiber, put a little more of that good flora back in there and it will be as though it’s not there.

Now if I could only stop thinking about it. Strange, too–thinking about one’s intestines…there are better thoughts to have, you know?

Worked this weekend covering the Blessing of the Waters by the Orthodox Church community here in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. I met there a Rabbi who was visiting from Minnesota. She’s a friend of some of the congregants of our Greek Orthodox Church here in Camarillo and she had the quote of the hour: “It’s so important to teach our young people that our traditions still speak to us,” she said.

And that kicked it all off for me. What is faith but a long train of traditions that give us meaning? It’s the meaning that keeps us believing, keeps us faithful and if our children don’t know about that–what will they know about us? About themselves?

So for me, the commitment of faith, the seriousness I give to my commitment is, in a way, a gift to my daughter. It will be among the things she can hold on to as she gets older and that will hopefully be a comfort to her when she needs it.

Hey, it’s better than leaving her stretched out pockets in her intestines…


Christmas Vacation’s End

The last free evening of Christmas vacation from 2013. It’s bittersweet. There was much to love about this one-close to home, quiet evenings, and the love of my family and friends. Dad and Joanne were here for a longer time than they’ve ever been, the weather was chilly and, at times, rainy which I love and Christmas day was a delight.

On the other hand, a kidney stone–or something very like it–has plagued me since vacation started. Sue had to have oral surgery on December 28th and that was pretty painful for her. Most importantly, the season was filled with the untimely passing of several friends close to us. Michael. Eddie. Dave. These men had an impact in my life and in the lives of my family. I’ve written about my grief and I don’t want to revisit it at length here. Farewell dear friends. Your lives had an impact for goodness. Thank you.

But as the vacation ends, I look ahead to a year that will be filled with more of the first paragraph. I want more time with Sue and Shannon and Aunt Laurie, the dogs and with the advent of our new foreign exchange, her as well. I want to continue to write and teach and hopefully, do both with the same joy I’ve had the past couple of years.

My new year’s resolutions aren’t resolutions, per se. They are simple extensions of things I already do, but don’t pay enough attention to. Simple joys, simple times, quiet time, reading, writing, loving my family and friends–it’s what’s more important to me than anything else.

I’d like to see the Sequoias this year and I’d like to visit brother Doug and Katy and baby Maddy in their new Texas home. I’d like to sleep in on some Saturdays and Sundays and on others, be the first one up with a cup of coffee while surfing the web. I’d like to watch more movies with my daughter and go out on more dates with my wife.

I want to continue to walk Simon, but more often than not without the MP3 playing in my ears.

It’s not that I’m ending ambition. Indeed, my ambition continues apace and there are irons in the fire and all that, even some new fires.

But the fire I’m most keen to burn is the one in my own hearth, watching my daughter grow, sharing some time with my family and enjoying the days.


New Year’s Day, 2013

I hardly slept last night. As the clock rolled to midnight and the year advanced to 2013, all three of us lay upstairs-awake, watching a video recast of the Times Square ball dropping. At the strike of the hour, the idiots in the neighborhood started launching fireworks-explosions shaking the windows. It was loud, obnoxious and had a deleterious effect on sleeping. Still, it didn’t last long–just long enough to worry Simon into a state of nerves from which he didn’t recover quickly.

Up onto our bed he jumped-Shannon’s bed is usually where he sleeps-and Shannon was too tired to bring him back. But he shook for a while, and in the cold, snuggled up against me. Meanwhile, the salt in my meal combined with my discomfort and I simply didn’t sleep. by 8 this morning, Simon awake and wanting still more attention, I attempted to go back to sleep. New Year’s Day-nothing to do for work-just a simple and quiet day at home, taking down a few Christmas decorations, buying a few groceries. That’s all.

I lay in bed for as long as I could and I got to 9 am, but not sleeping. Simon would have none of it. Time to get up. Coffee and breakfast.

New Year’s Day, 2013. The year ahead is rocky–but will be filled with joys and blessings, too. Let us hope that we can all provide an atmosphere in which more of the will come.