Saturday, September 8, 2018


In sixty-five years, one gathers a lot of memories, some clearer than others, some more meaningful than others. But, if one is lucky, they stay there, deep in the recesses of the mind, waiting to be called forth.

Sometimes it's a certain scent in the air, a sound, sometimes it's an event which will trigger the recall of something from the past.

I remember the moment when I saw my future wife for the first time...

Yup, exactly like that. Well, except I wasn't wearing a vest, I had no facial bruises, and I wasn't being escorted by two Sicilian chaps with luparas - but the look on my face? Al Pacino nails it. As for The Future Missus Herself, I was rewarded with a smile brighter than a thousand suns.

A good memory right there.

Most of my memories involve family, the folks I served with in the military, they count, they're extended family. A categorization I also extend to the folks who have served with my kids. Speaking of my children...

The Naviguesser was born in Korea, at a kind of old timey civilian hospital where I had to wait in the waiting room. It was just my mother-in-law and me. Every time she heard a cry of pain from inside, she'd blast through the doors, which had "No Entry" plastered all over them in about twelve different languages, to investigate.

Then out she'd come, being chased by the nursing staff. We had a long morning there, Umma (엄마) and I. Eventually my son (and heir) came into the world, around lunchtime, just like his Dad. Though truth be told, I was a bit late for lunch, he was early.

I finally got to see him when he was about an or so hour old. A little squalling red-faced being who already seemed pretty pissed off at the world. He did calm down, now he's a soft spoken man with two kids of his own.

Still and all, it's something beholding one's first born for the very first time.

I was present at the birth of both The Nuke and The WSOThe Nuke was born in an Army hospital outside Denver, The WSO was born at an Air Force base in Wyoming. The Nuke had thought about being born the night after the Blizzard of '82 in Denver, fortunately for us, she must have checked the weather and decided to wait a bit. She has always been a most logical child. Still is.

 The WSO was born a couple of days before a big snow storm hit Northern Colorado. I still remember looking at the clouds as we motored up I-25 on a late afternoon in October. I told The Missus Herself that it was going to snow.

"How do you know that? Weatherman said 'Maybe,' you say it is. Why?"

"I can smell it."

Which you can if you know what it smells like. Some years back, in Germany I think, The Naviguesser asked me, after I had remarked that it smelled like rain, if rain and snow smelled the same. I told him no, not really. Snow "smells" colder. He thought about it for a minute, acknowledged the logic that was in it and we moved on. You can smell the moisture in the air, probably some atavistic trait which was once necessary for survival, but isn't now. Well, not usually. (Note: if it's cold out, the moisture will fall as snow. So to me, it smells colder.)

Which reminds me of a story of just before The WSO was born. My Mom and my sister-in-law (Mrs Olde Vermonter) had flown out to Colorado to help out when the baby was born. I was in college, the older two young'uns would need tending, and there was just a lot which needed doing. So they flew out, which was a pretty big deal as they both hate to fly. (Yeah, crazy, I know.)

We wanted to show my Mom around a bit, so we drove up the Poudre Canyon road into the "hills" behind Fort Collins...

Google Maps
We were already close to a mile high in Fort Collins (5000' and change), but once past Laporte, just north of Fort Collins, the terrain rises rather dramatically. (Fort Collins and Laporte lie to the right of the map above, i.e. the east.)

My mother was enjoying the view, all the steep hills to either side of the road, and the Cache La Poudre River burbling alongside the road. Very picturesque. Then we rounded a turn in the road, not far from Sheep Mountain, and my mother exclaimed, "Oh look, it's snowing!" Yes, yes, very delightful, very scenic.

"Time to turn around and head home Mom."

"But why? Let's keep going!"

Google Street View
That pile of rock and pine to the right of the road is Sheep Mountain (according to the map, I didn't know that at the time, but I recognize the terrain), bright and sunny the day that photo was taken. The day my Mom, my very pregnant wife, and I were on that road, just ahead where the road bends to the left, was a wall of snow, slowly moving our way. I checked traffic, nothing coming, so I pulled a U-turn and headed back down to the flats.

My mother was rather disappointed, until she saw on the news that night that the snow had pretty much closed down the Poudre Canyon Road. High winds and lots of snow. And it was still snowing.

Now my Mom is a native New Englander, she's used to snow, she's used to weather that will try and kill you, she was a kid during the hurricane of 1938, which she still remembers well. But in the Rocky Mountains weather happens very fast, one minute the birds are singing, the sun is shining, and in the next instant the sky is in turmoil and it's "Katy bar the door!"

After she saw the weather report, she was thoughtful for a moment, then turned to me and said, "Well, this is one time I forgive you for not listening to your mother."

A good memory there, could have gone the other way too.

Ya never know.


  1. Sarge, you are a veritable cornucopia of mental pictures for me to visualize.
    Nice memories...

  2. It's weird how smells, sights, sounds, feels can trigger a memory. My grandma's house smelled..... dusty. My bedroom smells like that on occasion. Weird, that. Weirder still is waking up, smelling that, and being 10 again..... for a half second. Chokes me up just thinking about it.

    Those folks are long gone, their house is long gone.... But they live on in my memory. That right there is a miracle. That lard and salt water can hold the memory of our youth and spring it on us when we least expect it.

    Reason 9,467 that I believe in God. Accidents of nature just can't explain how that works, at least to my satisfaction.

    Thanks for the trip, Sarge. I really enjoyed it.

    1. Reason 9,467, that right there.

      You are most welcome STxAR. And thank you!

  3. Whole bunch of fun memories in one post. Love your mom's comment, sounds like a typical comment from a mom. You are right about smells. I step outside on September 1 and it always smells just like football even if it is still summery hot. And no doubt about it, in the winter you can both feel and smell the snow coming many hours before the event.

    1. Though I no longer play, though I forego watching for many reasons, I still love the game.

      Fall smells like football. Exactly.

    2. Hot during the day, but the scent of Fall at night. Football, backyard fires, camping, and for those fortunate enough - hunting. Change is in the air.

    3. Ah, the smell of hunting season, mid-November in Vermont. Hunting with my Dad and brothers, one time with my Uncle Charlie stands out in my mind. The only time I ever saw a game warden deep in the woods, fortunately we both had our licenses with us!

  4. There are all sorts of scientific reasons for weather smelling different, humidity, ozone, smells not normally detected in that location but pushed in front of the coming winds, all that jazz.

    Just as there are, now, finally, scientific reasons for old people and broken people to be able to sense weather changes 'in their bones.' (Seriously, scientists scoffed until recently that people could feel pressure changes. Friggin idiots. Then again, these are the same jack-mules that discounted the stories of rogue waves until video evidence was finally shoved up their collective keisters, completely ignoring the centuries of evidence due to 'drunken sailors' and 'I wasn't there, therefore it didn't happen.' Yeesh, idiots.)

    Wife feels changes in her back, hips and legs, and goes into hibernation mode when bad storms are coming. It may be a bright sunny day but she'll crawl under the covers and pass out, causing me to cancel appointments. Sure enough, an hour or so later, blam, doom from the skies happens.

    Me, I sense it in my sinuses. I use the patented 'Beans ArseHole Rating Scale.' Seriously. I'll start getting crabby and bitchy and being a jerk until I notice the weather imps are trying to drive spikes into my forehead. The larger the spikes and mood changes get, the worse the storm will be.

    That darned storm F-something is gonna be a bad blow. I can already feel pressure changes, slight, kinda like pre-quake tremors, in the air. Woke up feeling unsettled, with a sense of foreboding, checked the NOAA page (I go for hurricanes, not globull warnings)(and seriously, live in Florida, checking storms is at least a twice daily thing, one in morning, one in evening, maybe one mid-day.) Yep. Foreboding is fortelling a messy storm that is starting to track more southerly. Was Virginia/SC/DC bound, now looks like Georgia/SC bound.

    I am glad you are writing these stories down. Something for the kids and grand-kids, especially the ones who never met your and her parents. Wish this stuff was around before my dad died, so many stories untold, a whole family history lost. See? Maudlin feelings. Ayup. Storm's a'comin, Ayup.

    1. Something for the kids and grandkids, exactly.

    2. Back in the olde days, family trees kept in bibles and important papers allowed families to keep in touch with their ancestors. Slower times, slower lives. Then the 60's hit and blam, world got fast, real fast, and so many lost connections to the past. Sad, so sad. My middle brother is now trying to re-create dad's side of the family tree, kinda hard to since we're all that's left of so many people, too many early deaths and whole segments wiped out by disease or just... gone. Hope he's more successful than I was when I tried it.

      So, on a less morose note, what's the afternoon beer for the day? Been a long time since you've done a beer report. With or without pictures.

    3. Been a while since I actually had a beer, glad you brought that up, I need to remedy that lack of fermented beverages with hops and barley.

      Also, I've been practicing on the drum kit. It's something I actually want to get good at. There are some excellent online tutorials and the kit itself (being electronic) has a set of tutorials. Too bad the manual ain't that good. (Looks like an engineer wrote it, "Here's what the buttons do. Press them." Uh, uh, what? (I write manuals professionally, I know a weak one when I read it!)


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