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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

How I Spent My Summer Vacation - A Blog in as Many Parts as Seems Right

Back in the '70s, my parents put off going on vacation while my grandmother was in a nursing home. Go ahead, said her doctor; she could live for years. They flew off to Brazil. Two days later, my grandmother died, and they flew back while I made the funeral arrangements.

Seven years ago, Karen's mother showed strong signs of having developed dementia, and seven months later, she moved into an assisted-living facility. Within six months, my mother had a stroke, engendering dementia. I moved her from her condo in Florida to the same assisted-living facility here in Post Falls, Idaho. And, we waited, for seven years. Finally, as we recognized our own increasing creakiness, we decided to go to Scotland, the setting for Karen's next book. Quick, but thorough planning. We were going, we agreed, unless she or I could not physically go. Just before we left, my mother developed infectious diarrhea and had to be moved into a nursing facility; Karen's mother was stable. Each had pulled out of medical conditions before. We went.

The house in Deale

View of the creek from the house

Karen and her new doggie friend, Stella.
First stop, Maryland, to visit our friends Steve and Luz Marina. I'd worked for Steve at the Naval Academy, where he was public affairs officer and I was his deputy. We became good friends. We met Luzma on a wine tasting trip to Oregon a few years ago, and they visited us in Idaho.

We missed their engagement party when Karen's mother became ill, but we decided to stop on our way to Scotland to celebrate their recent marriage.

Kayaking with Steve and Stella
When Steve was single after a divorce, he adopted Stella, a Cavapoo (King Charles spaniel/poodle mix), and while I've never cared for small dogs, she's a real cutie, riding on Karen's lap in Luzma's motor boat and on mine in the car.

Before they married, Steve and Luzma bought a house in Deale, Maryland, a community on a series of creeks off the Chesapeake Bay. Gorgeous place, very comfortable. And great to see them.

Steve's a navy guy from Indiana, and like a lot of midwesterners I met at the academy, he took to boats like a Hoosier to water. After you've trained on 44-foot sloops as a midshipman, on surface ships and
submarines, boats get into your blood. 

I, on the other hand, got seasick on the sloops and, as a 14-year-old, on the Queen Mary. But, Steve's persuasive. Karen and I went out on the motor boat for a dockside breakfast; I went kayaking with Steve; and we went on Steve's catamaran for a familiarization tour - next time, I'm crewing with him.

Dockside breakfast with Luzma and Steve

Steve's catamaran, "Balance Act"
Back in my academy days, I had to shepherd the Blue Angels during three-years-worth of performances during Commissioning Week. Great show, but they were incredible prima donnas. During our visit in May, we managed to catch the Blue Angels practice performance over the Severn River. Fun - and I didn't have to worry about them pranging a plane into the governor's mansion. Luzma's first Angels show; Stella's too.

When I was a supervisor, I made a conscious choice not to get too friendly with my staff. I always worried that some day I'd have to discipline or fire one of them. As it turned out, I had to terminate a couple of probationary employees, discipline a couple, and fire one who tried to withdraw his resignation. I didn't enjoy it. Still, considering my long friendship with Steve (and newer friendship with Luzma), there are some employees I wish I'd been friendlier with. Oh well, past is past.

On to Scotland.

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