Tuesday, December 31, 2019


So yes, it's the last day of December (my favorite month for those of you keeping score at home) and, not coincidentally, the last day of 2019. A new year dawns, or so I'm told. For you see dear reader, I am something of a Grinch when it comes to these New Year festivities. No doubt much to the chagrin of my Scots ancestors. (See Hogmanay for an explanation.)

I have stayed up to watch the glitter-ball "drop" in Times Square (a place I have been some decades ago, quite an experience for a 13-yo Vermonter to see the sights of the Big Apple, lots of odd-looking folk about as I recall), I have been to a couple of New Year's Eve parties, imbibing, no doubt, more adult beverages than are probably healthy. As I'm still alive, I guess it wasn't that bad.

But it all seems so bloody artificial. I mean it's just a different date innit? Time to buy new calendars, time to remember to put a new year in the date when writing a check. (Some of us still do that.) We don't make a big deal when April turns to May do we? (Oh wait, we kinda do in some cultures.)

Every new day gives one something to look forward to, no need to get all boozed up about it. I do suppose it does provide employment for any number of little known "celebrities," well, little known to me. But when you think about it, each month gives us something to look forward to, for instance:
  • January - The NFL playoffs.

(Ja, ja, ich weiß, einige von euch mögen die NFL nicht. But some of us do...)
  • February - Other than the Super Bowl (see above) there's St. Valentine's Day. Other than that it's a dark, cold month, thankfully the shortest of the lot. Okay, not much to look forward to here.
  • March - Any college basketball fans out there? (Calm down, calm down, I see you.) Big month for that I'm given to understand.
  • April - Spring! (Unless it arrived in March.) Easter! (Well, that happens in March as well from time to time.) The colder weather is astern and we have better weather to look forward to. (Like Skip says, when in doubt, blog about the weather.)
  • May - Well, my birthday falls herein, so it's a pretty big deal for me. Unlike some old-timers, I actually enjoy having birthdays. (Certainly beats the alternative!)
  • June - As a kid this month contained the last day of school, much to be celebrated. As a parent, I learned that this was not so much to be celebrated but rather endured.
"Dad, I'm bored..." "Hi bored, I'm Chris." (All dads do this, it's traditional, Hell, it's kinda mandatory.)
  • July - Independence Day!!!  Oorah! Oorah! After that it's just kinda hot and humid, which is wonderful if you're a beach-going type. I used to be, not anymore. (The Missus Herself was raised to abhor and fear the water, with good reason.) Good excuse to drink beer though
"Damn but it's hot out, guess I'll have a beer." 
  • August - Another hot month, but due to the kids and grandkids there are a metric crap ton of birthdays in this month. The Missus Herself and I like to call this The Expensive Month. Has multiple reasons to drink beer...
  • September - As a kid this month contained the first day of school, much to be mourned. As a parent, I learned that this was not so much to be mourned but rather celebrated.
  • October - Halloween. Need I say more? The weather is also cooling off now, not Next Ice Age cool, but tolerable, light jacket weather. Plus there's football (see above) of the professional and college variety. Oh yeah, the World Series, that's in there somewhere in this month. (I used to watch that when it was on during the freaking day and not in the middle of the freaking night.)
  • November - Ah, Thanksgiving, a much beloved holiday of mine. Not to mention that it's almost December! (The most favored month.) Usually there's pie in this month, sometimes eggnog, both things I love but can't really get away with in the other months of the year.
  • December - Christmas, Christmas, Christmas. I love this time of year. Visiting with family, getting the grandkids (and kids) cool gifts, eating too much, Christmas carols, the message of the Savior... Just can't get enough. Oh yeah, there's also pie, guaranteed. Also eggnog (with bourbon, thank you very much), guaranteed.
So there you have it. A curmudgeonly view of the New Year's Eve celebration. Bah humbug.

Though truth be told, I like December the 31st much more now than I did as a wee bairn. For it is my oldest daughter's natal day. She and her siblings are gifts from God, can't forget that.

Happy Birthday Nuke!

And thus the curtain comes down on yet another calendar year.


Monday, December 30, 2019

Spirit of Christmas Past *

So...Last Week I briefed the Oplan for Operation Juvat Christmas 2019 (OJC2019 for brevity/levity). As many of you know, the briefing is the easy part, execution is difficult, and the debrief is the most exacting part of any operation. As I said, we've had the briefing and Christmas 2019 is in the history books, so guess what's next?


 So...All y'all hold your questions, critiques and comments until we're done, then they will be answered in the order I read them.

Phase 1 of OJC2019 was preparation of Rancho Juvat, Mrs J was Flight Lead for this phase.

We encountered some difficulty with illumination which required removal of all lighting from the Christmas tree, as they would not light. Since they were factory installed, this proved tedious, and the wingman in this operation learned an important lesson. Apparently, cutting a small zip tie which binds the electrical cord to the limb of the tree with a pair of metal fingernail clippers, has an important preparatory step to prevent painful outcomes.

Not to worry...I won't make that mistake again. Santa evidently didn't like the vocabulary used by the wing man in the situation.

 A quick trip to Wally World for a replacement strand of strings and the operation resumed with good results.

We'll grade that phase as SPNS.**

We now entered into the operational phases of OJC2019, Phase 2 was intended to be at Austin-Bergstrom Airport, with Mrs J and I, meeting MBD and SIL and greeting Little J and LJW at the international baggage claim as they arrived after a 24 hour journey from the Sand Box.  MBD and SIL's rejoin took a little longer than optimum for perfect execution of the plan, so we settled on rejoining at Chuy's Tex-Mex Restaurant.  Since the objective for this phase was to keep them up until at least dark, some victuals were required.  Burritos as big as yo' face with creamy jalapeno sauce went over well. Oh, and everybody had margaritas.

Except me.  Driving after dark, during deer season, requires my fighter pilot reflexes to be at the top of my game.  That, and a boatload of luck.  Which, evidently, occurred.

So...Phase 2 was successfully completed with only a little bobble on the rejoin.

Phase 3 (The Beast) Christmas Eve started late.  For some reason, Little J and LJW did not join us for breakfast, remaining comfortably in the arms of Morpheus until nearly noon.  However, ever the task master, the Flight Lead (Moi) for this phase, was having none of that.  A couple of stern radio calls quickly formed the formation.  Immediate Objective, finish assembly, delivery and installation of ..."The Beast".

My sister lives in a 600 sq ft cabin on our property.  With three large dogs,  henceforth she shall be referred to as TDW (The Dog Whisperer).  The size of the house requires efficient use of space, and there was one corner that was not being effectively used.  She wanted a desk installed there.

While, normally, it is Mrs J that can say (and enforce) "So it is written, So it shall be" , I made an exception.  However, since my wood shop is 10x16, I couldn't do final assembly there.  So...We brought the desk there.  Sneaking in while she was at work, and then asking her to come directly to our house after work because "...dinner is already going to be late in the evening".  "Yes, we'll feed your dogs."

After some minor adjustments, the task was completed well within the time allotted.

Given her reaction on arrival at her cabin after dinner.  I'll give this phase a "Bravo Zulu".

We exited that AOR and returned to Base to prepare for the next Phase.

Phase 4. Christmas Eve Dinner will begin at 2015 hrs (or whenever the manager at HEB decides to let his people go).    The menu is quite simple.  Pork Carnitas and Salad.  The Pork Butt has been cooking at 275o since about 1000 hrs.  It will now be removed from the oven.  An important safety check will be performed by removing the bone using only two fingers (and a hot pad, yes, Safety Officer Frijole).  If said bone cannot be removed under those conditions, butt is placed back in oven for another hour or until successful removal.  Bone was removed successfully on first try.

Butt is then shredded with metal forks.  3 cans of Chopped Green Chiles are mixed in along with 4 chopped and seeded Jalapeños (4 cans of Chiles if you're just not into spicy) and a couple of table spoons of Salt Lick Garlic Dry Rub. Turn Broiler on high, Broil for about 10 minutes, toss pork a bit, return to broiler for another 10.  Carnita's should be a little crispy and charred, not to much.  return to oven if not to your satisfaction.  Serve with Tortillas, Guacamole and your favorite Salsa.

If you're not satisfied with the green chiles as a vegetable,  add a salad or something.

We served this with a very nice Spanish Garnacha.

It must have been good, and/or everyone was tired, as conversation was a tad less raucous.

Phase 5.  The Big Day, begins at 0730 with a formation assembly at Church. Other than the Christmas music being sung very, very slowly (as in the cadence of a dirge, I may, emphasis on the may, have audibly said "I've heard more joyful music at a funeral" within earshot of Mrs J, otherwise I can't explain the look she gave me.) Other than that, Mass was great, it's always nice to see the kids back with their families, especially if two of them are yours.

Partial present opening was accomplished as MBD and SIL were with his parents for Christmas.

Yes...the one on the left is what you're thinking

I know, I know... "juvat you're going straight to hell for that one".

Preparation for Christmas Dinner began almost immediately.  Dinner will be Prime Rib with British Baked Potatoes.  I've made both of these recipes many time and they are 1) Easy 2) Nearly Foolproof and  3) Delicious.  There is one problem, however.  They require different oven settings.  Which, fortunately I realized early enough to avoid.  The Prime Rib requires a 500o temp for a period of time, then the oven is turned off and left unopened for 2 hours.  The Potatoes require a 400o oven for 2 hours.  I cooked the potatos first then reheated them while the Roast was resting.  Both were fabulous.

As this was Christmas, and this was the first time, Little J and LJW had been home in 18 months, I decided to raid my Wine Closet for one of the Bottles I'd inherited from my Dad.

This turned out to have aged exceptionally, although Little J did cause a little consternation when he checked what the asking price was for a bottle of 1994 Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon.  Suffice it to say it wasn't $27.99.

But...I'd rather drink it with my Wife and Kids than anyone else.  So...Well Worth it.

Phase 6, The Day after Christmas.  MBD and SIL will be joining us for the day and dinner.  Final round of present exchanging went on.  MBD enjoyed the bracelet I made her.

After which we decided, under MBD's advisement, to visit a new local winery.  I enjoyed a nice glass of Tempranillo while the rest of the gang tasted a flight of reds.

And, since I offered to take a picture of another family, the favor was returned.

The wines were pretty good, not great.  It was a beautiful facility, but the company was fabulous.

The menu for that evening was stipulated by MBD (a recovering vegetarian and not yet able to tolerate beef) was Cassoulet and Green Chile Mac 'n Cheese.  So very shortly after returning from the Winery, the chief Cook and Bottle Washer (Moi) got to work, as the Mac 'n Cheese, while very tasty takes a bit of time to prep.

Had to get 'er done early as Mrs J's sister was attending, and she doesn't like to drive after dark.  And that's probably a good thing as she lives in a section of the county that's basically deer central.

But the food turned out well, the conversation and company was exceptional.

So, this morning, after church, we're at our favorite Sunday brunch restaurant, (I am officially "all cooked out" at this point), when the owner comes walking by carrying a sign saying "Please wait til you're seated", storing it in a small alcove in the restaurant.  Shortly thereafter, I decide to answer the call of nature and, entering that alcove, I notice it placed against the wall....by the ladies restroom.

I know, I know...I'm going straight to hell.  But I laughed all the way back to the table.

I was still chuckling when I saw this in the parking lot.
May all Chanters have a Happy, Healthy, Prosperous New Year.

Winter Sunset in Texas. The Alpenglow is awesome!

* A nice little tune by Enya

**SPNS.  A pilot training grading code for "Poopy*** Pattern, Nice Save".

***Or a more scatological version of the word. 

Sunday, December 29, 2019

We Have To Go Back!

Chez Mom
Christmas Day was bright and sunny, as you can see, there was snow on the ground from the storms earlier in December. Making it, to my way of thinking, a white Christmas. Others have their own definitions, I have mine. When the ground is mostly snow covered, to me that is sufficient to the day.

The Christmas before The Nuke was born, six days before to be precise, we had a blizzard on Christmas Eve in Denver which dropped a good three feet of snow upon the Denver metro area. The ID-10-T mayor of Denver at the time decided that, as it was a weekend - Christmas was on a Saturday - that the road plowing could be put off until the following Monday. Only the major thoroughfares were plowed, crippling the city. Lowry AFB was shut down for five days, couldn't get in, couldn't get out.

That got the attention of the voters, and Bill McNichols found himself without a job after the elections held in the spring. Here's the story of how he lost his job.

Bottom line is that's the whitest Christmas I've ever seen, and it was enough for me!

Anyhoo, I digress. (The next two photos are from Christmas Eve, for those keeping score at home.)

Yes, my Mom likes cardinals.
Rather festive I thought.
After a few hours of dining and telling stories of "olden" times at my brother's house, we had to head back to Mom's (her cats were in need of sustenance). We had driven about a mile when my brother, The Musician, said, "We forgot the beer!" You see, we had brought adult libations with us as The Olde Vermonter doesn't really drink, oh he'll have the occasional hard cider but he isn't well-stocked with anything else.

I got on the horn to The Olde Vermonter and let him know that we were returning for the beer. My mother thought that this was the most ridiculous thing that she had ever heard, "It's just beer," she cried out as The Musician wheeled his vehicle around to put us on a reciprocal course. The Missus Herself also thought my brother and I to be somewhat addled in our persistence in returning for the beer.

In my mother's case this was understandable, for my father drank naught but American "classics" like Miller Lite and Bud Light, beverages which to my taste buds are suspiciously close to drinking canned water. Living in Germany for all those years gave me a taste for fancier and far more robust brews than my father knew. Mom, not being a beer person anyway, just didn't get it at all.

As we headed back to The Olde Vermonter's place, The Musician explained to our mother that this wasn't just any beer, no, this was beer which had been gifted by him to Your Humble Scribe. In truth it was a variety of beverages made from hops and barley, all of them being of the stout variety which I crave.

So we retrieved the beer, Mom still grumbled about "such nonsense" while my brother and I felt justified in our noble quest. After all, it was really good beer. This particular one surprised both of us with its tastiness. Very nice it was.

And I still have two left! Also of note is this beverage is brewed in Maine where my niece and her man have just bought a house. Good to know I have people on the ground at the source. Ya know, should I want more.

Anyhoo, the beer was rescued and we all returned to Mom's for a quiet night of sipping various stouts and watching Home Alone on the tube.

A good day indeed.

Vacation continues...

Saturday, December 28, 2019

It's The Little Things...

My youngest kid brother, The Musician, is famous within the tribe for giving the most interesting gifts, at Christmas and at other times of year. This year was no different. He puts thought into his gifts and they always are a hit with Your Humble Scribe. (Who as he gets older appreciates the little things more and more.)

As you can see in the opening photo, one of my gifts from The Musician was that wee owl in the wee snow globe. The quarter gives you an idea of the size of it. Not large, but it captured my fancy almost immediately.

Christmas Day we went over the The Olde Vermonter's house for dinner. As some of you might remember, he and Mrs. Olde Vermonter live in the house where I spent my formative years. He added an addition for his late mother-in-law some years ago. Unfortunately she didn't get to spend a long time with them, passing not long after moving in as I recall.

So the ancestral home is larger than it used to be. Growing up, there were my Mom and Dad, my two brothers and myself, a cat, three bedrooms, one bath. The living room seems small now, but it seemed more than adequate growing up. The one bath though, yeah, that was a problem with five of us. (Our cat, first Tommy, then later Ulysses, had his own bathroom.)

The addition added a second bath and a new living area about the size of the living room and kitchen combined in the older part of the house. With nine adults, two large dogs and one small dog present for Christmas dinner, there was enough room. Not that we could have held a dance but it was roomy enough. (The Olde Vermonters have two cats, who make themselves scarce whenever there is company. I have actually seen them only once, and that was as they fled for the safety of the upstairs portion of the split level.)

After a magnificent repast of turkey, ham, two varieties of meatballs (one pot of store-bought and one pot made to my late father's recipe, proud of his meatballs he was), shrimp, cranberry sauce, two magnificent vegetable casseroles (one broccoli, one candied yams), and various beverages, we gathered in the new addition to exchange gifts. The Musician handed out envelopes with a tiny snow globe attached to each one.

I immediately began to play with the snow globe, shaking it to watch the snow flakes swirl around the little owl. The Missus Herself asked me what I had received, so I showed her the little owl.

"No, you ID-10-T, what's in the envelope?"

"Oh, let me check..."

For those keeping score at home, it was a Cabela's gift card. Very nice I thought, I've never shopped there, but I checked their website, they do have some really neat stuff. But my attention was fixed upon the wee owl. I guess I really am a small boy at heart.

We had a marvelous time, laughing and telling stories of the old days, that old house rang with laughter and Christmas cheer just like in the days of my youth. I swear that the spirits of both sets of grandparents looked down on the gathering, and I could feel my father's spirit there, also uncles and aunts who have gone on ahead. Not to mention a couple of old cats and one black lab who looked on from the Rainbow Bridge.

It was splendid. I hated to see it end but end it did, as all things do.

I pray your Christmas was blessed and for my Jewish friends I hope your Hanukkah is truly wonderful. It's a great time of year, my favorite time of year.

Ah well, I'm off to watch my owl in the snow.

Friday, December 27, 2019

A Christmas Peace to Peace on Earth.

Continuing on Sarge's theme from the past few days here.  He's been sharing some excellent carols, and I thought I'd do the same.  A friend shared this one with me and while I didn't recognize the video at first, never really knowing who the artist was,, I realized it contains one of my favorite songs of the season.    

The video seems to combine two stories from The Great War.  I'm nowhere near the historian that my co-bloggers are, but to this novice, it overlays the Christmas truce of 1914 with the tragic results of the battles, and the use of Chlorine Gas, in the Flanders area of Belgium in 1915.  The tragic death there inspired the John McCrae poem- In Flanders Field.  That poem has been posted here once or twice on Veterans day so I won't put it up myself, mainly because this is about the Christmas season, vice Armistice Day.  Think more poinsettias vice poppies, but I digress.  Either way, it reminds me of a sentiment I saw recently, that thanks to their Christmases back then, we're able to have our Christmas today.  I'm not exactly sure where the footage is from.  Probably some movie depicting the truce.  Anyone recognize it? 

The family manger scene

The stories blend together well though because of McCrae's apparent preoccupation with death.  Ok, that sentence sounds horrible, but death is just the crossover point from life's struggles to the peace and salvation that follows.  War is death, yet at Christmas, we are given the gift of eternal life through the birth of Jesus Christ.  I need to focus on this right now as there's plenty of bad news that feels like it's drowning out the Good News.

That's not easy to do, with a 24 hour news cycle that profits from hate, division, death, and tragedy. Ooh, sorry, more darkness. And we have politicians that leverage all of that for votes and power.  Ugh, even more darkness- don't worry, I'm done.  So while it's Christmas (and the rest of the year if possible), we should try to turn down all of that and focus on all the goodness in the world, on the saving grace that came to us on that very special birthday the other day.  There are plenty of good news stories out there, of heroes, of good Samaritans, of healing graces, and joyful happenings, but we just need to look for them.  Maybe that's a resolution we could strive for- to seek out more goodness, more of the happy stories.  For all its negatives, social media can actually be a good place to see some of that joy.  And a ton of cat videos.

 A lot of the world celebrates Christmas, even if they don't believe in Christ.  It's a fun and joyous season, even if it is far too commercial.  But what about the true reason for the season?  I think it's actually very universal.  If we can focus on the lessons Jesus taught, and the tenants of Christianity, those 10 commandments and such, and set aside the differences in how we worship, the sins and failings of church leaders, we'd all be better off.

In a movie from a few years back called Gifted, there was a scene I liked.  The biological father of a brilliantly gifted girl was striving for custody of her and they had an exchange about Jesus.

Mary Adler : What about Jesus?
Frank Adler : Love that guy. Do what he says.
Mary Adler : But, is he God?
Frank Adler : I don't know. I have an opinion. But that's my opinion and I could be wrong. So why would I screw up yours? Use your head. But don't be afraid to believe in things either.             Source

"Love that guy.  Do what he says."  I love that line.  Even if you don't believe in Jesus as our savior, he gave us some amazing lessons.  And if we follow them, the world really would be a better place.  And maybe we could even bring about something that would be a gift for all of us:

 One final* Christmas song that I love.  And Faith Hill isn't hard to look at either.


Merry Christmas from me and my wife, and a joyous, peaceful and less divisive New Year to all the staff and readers here at The Chant.

* If one's not enough, here's another I love.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

A Light in the Dark

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.
And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against;
(Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. Luke 2:25-35 (KJV)
Traveling on this Second Day of Christmas. Back to hearth and home, back to the feline staff who have been in the care of their Godmother (next door neighbor who rescued them from the wild 'lo these many years past), I shall be reflecting on the lessons of Christmas and what will be in the year to come.

May we have Peace, may the disagreements and troubles of the past remain in the past. Be a light unto a dark world...
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. John 8:12 (KJV)

Vacation continues...

Wednesday, December 25, 2019


Adoration of the Shepherds
Gerard van Honthorst
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them. Luke 2:15-20 (KJV)
Merry Christmas to all.

May you spend the day with loved ones, remember those who cannot.

Peace and Joy my friends.

Peace and Joy.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Peace On Earth

View of Rhode Island and eastern Massachusetts from the International Space Station.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.  Luke 2:8-14 (KJV)
From space, the pains, sorrows, and even the joys of the world's peoples cannot be seen. Yes, they are there, yes, they are real, yet they take on a certain insignificance when viewed from a distance.

In this season of Christmas (and yes, of Hanukkah as well) I turn my face to the Lord Above and I know Hope, I know Love, and I pray for patience. There is suffering in the world and I do what I can to alleviate such suffering, even if that simply means not contributing to the suffering of others.

Do what you can, when you can, and know that the Lord is in His Heaven and will return someday. Until then, keep the faith, love thy neighbor, be a Peacemaker.

Christmas Eve is upon us and as we travel to be with family, I pray for those less fortunate and try, as much as I can, to share my blessings with them.

Peace be with you all.

And Love, it really is all you need.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Un poco de esto, un poco de aquello

Well...Big week coming up and first things first.  Little Juvat and his bride are scheduled to arrive later this afternoon at Austin-Bergstrom (site of an exciting time in my life, back when Bergstrom was an Air Force Base) after a direct flight from Frankfurt (another site of an exciting time in my life).

My, oh my, how air travel has changed in the last 40 years.  Non-stop, Frankfurt to Austin.  My lower posterior anatomy aches just thinking about it.

Meanwhile, Mrs J has been doing yeoman's work decorating the house for the Holidays.  (Yeoman's work is defined as "...simply good, honest, hard work. A yeoman was a class of farmer, above a laborer but below a land-owner."  Note the "Above a laborer".  Guess who?


So,  Little J and his Bride arrive today.  Given the long journey, we are going to attempt to keep them awake until at least dark, but it is the start of Winter.  Sunset is 5:40 today. (OK, Beans 5:40:47 to be precise, sheesh!), so a little late Lunch/early Dinner and the trip home should accomplish that.  Plus, added bonus, we can visit with MBD and SIL before they depart for his Parents for the actual holiday.

We share and swap holidays each year.  This year we had Thanksgiving.  But, we get them back on the 26th.  Gotta exchange hostages gifts.
Update: Little Juvat and Bride successfully recovered, refueled with Margaritas and Chuy's Mexican Food and tucked in for the night. Let the festivities begin!

Speaking of gifts.  I finally got this beast completed.  Little J and I are going to finish assembly in my Sister's house while she's at work on Christmas Eve.  Ebenezer Scrooge (whose initials are HEB) is alive and well.  All that's left to do is fasten the legs to the desk frame.

I am anxious for the project to be finished, so I can get back in my shop, and be able to move around in it.

Because I've got other projects that are occupying my time.

As some of you may recall, back in May we had some torrential rain, which washed out our road.

Well, we've finally got all the hoops jumped and i's crossed and t's dotted (or something) and started the reconstruction project.

The picture above was Monday.  Friday came along and this is where we are.

The washed out area is between the skid steer and the base covered road to the left of it.  The good news is I can get to almost 5mph transiting that wash now.  But...that was Friday.  The Pit, where they get the base from, closed Friday PM until January 2nd.

I know the ranchers around here are praying for rain.  I really hope it doesn't in the interim.

But...It is Winter in Texas.  Which can be summarized in two pictures.

Monday Afternoon

Tuesday morning
Why don't you want rain, juvat?

Well...we've still got about 900' of base to lay down still.  Any appreciable rain will turn what is now dirt into what is known in the construction business (I've been told) as mud.

This will further delay the construction of the road.  Which is the requirement before construction can start on ....

The Lair.

The little pink flags are various corners/edges of what will be the Lair

The well and electricity are in, and the site has been staked out.  Pouring the foundation is the next step, but I've been informed that loaded cement trucks are heavy and their drivers are not fond of "mud". 

Go figure.

Hence the requirement for the road base to be completed.  The heavy trucks will help compact it which will be needed before the chip seal is added.  That will be the last step in the project.
The Lair, when completed, will look very similar to this.

And we hope to celebrate next Christmas in it.

View from, what will be, the front door.

Finally, Sarge posted this past Saturday about "Formation Flying" and included this picture.

Which is cool.


I'm in the second aircraft, solo.

And then...

I'm flying the jet with the photographer in my back seat.  He lied to me when he said CINCPACAF had approved the maneuver.  I've still got the note from the Wing Director of Operations to not display this photo in public.

You folks will keep it a secret right?

Merry Christmas to all.  If you celebrate it, Happy Hanukkah.  Otherwise, Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Memory Lane, Part Two

A few years back, we stopped putting up a Christmas tree. Did it bother me? Truth be told, yes it did, it bothered me a lot. It was The Missus Herself who made that call and, as it is with most of her decisions, there was a lot of logic behind it.

We would be traveling at Christmas, why put up a tree? Well, it made sense and, as The Missus Herself never does anything halfway, it would save a lot of work. Both in the decorating and in the undecorating, which would be rendered unnecessary. We still put lights in the windows and she assures me that when the kids and their tribes come to visit at Christmas, we shall decorate like in olden times. Well, our olden times at any rate.

Anyhoo, rather than me natter on, I'll share some photos from Sarge's Christmases Past...

Decorated tree, manger scene, cat under the tree, what could be more Christmasy?
Peeking through a window in The Missus Herself's Christmas Village.
The wee tree The Nuke and The WSO had at their apartment for a number of years.
Cats (that's Sasha) and discarded wrapping paper, it's a thing ya know?
Anya seems startled to have her picture taken. Probably because that's not her toy!
Looks like Grandpa and Grandson have hit the Christmas Cheer perhaps a wee bit much?
Christmas has to involve family. (The Nuke was behind the camera.)
Must be Christmas morning!
Gotta have Christmas dinner, and yes I do love Brussels sprouts.
Sasha wants to open presents right now!
My grandson wondering if auntie Nuke is going to drop him,
and perhaps now is a good time to vomit...
Great-Grandma and Great-Grandpa meet their great-grandson for the first time.
Son and grandson, the wee lad seems tuckered out by all the excitement.
Yeah, I love Christmas.