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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Saving Christmas (Again)

Last year I wrote a post about how I saved Christmas when Santa's sleigh harness broke and he crashed into the ocean.  History repeats itself, at least around me, as I got another chance to save Christmas.

I've been enjoying my volunteering at the USO at the Columbia, SC airport near where our home base is.  Always something to do to help out our transiting military folks as they pass through the airport to and from assignments.  It's been really nice to see many families reunited in time for the holidays.

This USO has three wonderful full time ladies that run the place (along with about 150 volunteers), they put their heart and soul into making sure everything possible can be done to support the troops.  During the course of the year they put on special events for the military members and their families and at Christmas time they do several amazing parties and concerts for those stationed at nearby Fort Jackson.

Last night I got a chance to volunteer at a family Christmas party at the Fort with an Army brigade that had had a tough year, tragically losing several members to a training accident.  The Christmas party was a way to have the families gather and have a special fun time to put the sadness behind them.

Santa Claus was enlisted to visit the children at the party.  He arrived on a fire truck.

The kids were delighted to see him and rushed out to greet him.

Inside the building Santa sat in a chair and handed out gifts to the kids as they sat with him.

A few kids weren't quite sure what to make of this jolly, old fellow in the red suit.

Other kids thought it was a blast to meet Santa and tell him their wish list.

Two of the USO ladies even had to get their picture taken with Santa, Katie on the left and Anne Elise on the right.

Once all the children had met Santa and received their gifts, I too wanted to get my picture with Santa as he sat by himself.

Here is my picture with Santa:

Yep, that's "Santa Paul".  I never played Santa before and it was a last minute call as the original volunteer who was going to play Santa got sick and couldn't come.  So I was able to step in and "save" Christmas.

The USO ladies, Katie and Anne Elise said I did such a great job that they have plans to use me again for another occasion.  Something about being shot out of a cannon wearing a ballerina costume...

Here's to wishing you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year wherever your travels have taken you!

Image result for picture of santa kneeling at the manger

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Still Alive, Nothing New

Sometimes life is just that: life.  We're living it here at our homebase in South Carolina.  I've taken the Journey out for a good spin up and down the highway to keep the batteries charged up and everything in good running order.  It was hard to put it away, it seemed to want to keep on going.

I now have to get ready to winterize it in the next few weeks, hate to do that, it makes it seem too permanent to not be using it.  Fortunately we have plans to hit the road quite a bit next year, February to Disney World,  April/May to California to visit the grandgirls, then later summer to New Jersey to hang with the Jersey grandgirls and their new little brother, due to arrive in early January.  Yep, grandkid number nine.  Need a spreadsheet on the computer to keep track of the birthdays.   I'm sure we'll squeeze in more trips as the year progresses. 

So I'm keeping busy with my volunteer days at the local USO, lots of fun with the workers and the troops coming through.  Making the best use of my free time now that we're retired.  Plus, it keeps me out of trouble...

The back is doing very well, just being careful not to overdo bending and especially lifting.  The spine doctor told me that the disc is in bad shape, he repaired the herniation part but it could happen again and then I'd be facing rods on my back.  Don't want that so I'm being very good at following his orders. 

The poor Journey still is dirty, I may just break down and take it to a Blue Beacon truck wash and let them clean it.  I've used them in the past and they do a pretty good job, but don't do roofs.  I like to wash the Journey's roof before I do the sides, otherwise the roof dirt drains down on the sides.  But until I'm back in full washing trim, the roof will have to wait.

So that's an update.  Looking forward to Christmas and all that shopping for the grandkids.  Thank goodness for Amazon!  😉

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Tuesday, October 3, 2017

End Of An Era

Folks that have served in the military know that they make friends with others that have bonds that are very deep.  I have met and become friends with men and women that are more like brothers and sisters than just friends.  This past weekend, Marti and I had the privilege of attending the retirement ceremony of one of my close friends, Scott, who was retiring after thirty years of service in the U.S. Coast Guard.

He is the last of my Coastie friends that I served with to retire from the service after an amazing career.  Not only is he an amazing guy, but his career took him to many places and trouble spots all around the world.  We should be very thankful there are many men and women serving today just like him to protect and keep us safe.

One of the best things about this ceremony was it brought together several other Coast Guard Special Agent friends of mine that joined the retired ranks some years ago,  I hadn't seen some of them in years and it was great to meet and catch up.  Of course a picture was required.

There were many touching parts in the ceremony, including passing the flag, an American flag that was flown over each of Scott's duty stations where he had severed during his career.  A solemn and moving sight.

The flag was passed through nine Coast Guardsmen until it was finally handed to Scott, a real way to honor both the flag and his service.

There were many moving moments, some hard to hold back the tears.  Scott's wife spoke about the times of worry and fear she experienced as well as the good times.  Tears and laughter.

When it came time for Scott to read his final orders sending him into retirement, we all lost it.  Tears flowed through the crowd, myself included.  A lifetime of service, a way of life, is hard to handle when it comes to an end.   Thankfully it opens new doors and opportunities.

After the ceremony, there was a great celebration party that lasted well into the evening.  It was a wonderful time and I'm so happy I was able to go, even though I had back surgery two weeks ago.  I'm glad that Scott and I live pretty close together so we'll be able to visit often. 

As to my back, all is going well.  I feel better every day and in another week I'll be able to return to a more normal schedule, volunteering at the USO and even being able to cut my own grass.  You can be sure I'll be very careful not to overdo it, I don't want to go through a painful experience like I've been through ever again!  :c)

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