Didn’t Fall With The Fall


I’ve missed the beginning of fall by a day or two, but wanted to re-publish this post I wrote two years ago.

Those that know me know that I don’t really do favorites. I don’t have a favorite color, or a favorite food, or whatever. I recently had trouble accessing a computer account because it asked my favorite color as a security question and I had no idea what I had answered.

But, increasingly, I think fall may be my favorite season. Part of that is pragmatic — I prefer the more agreeable temperature to the heat of summer or the cold of winter. For me, fall is the most likely season to have a day that’s just perfect.

The funny thing, though, is that part of it is for a reason that’s completely irrelevant. Going outside on a day that’s archetypically fall to me, on a day that just feels like fall, I can’t help but be taken back to the feeling of beginning a new school year.

Fall weather takes me back to that feeling, of starting something new, of unlimited possibilities, of anticipation of meeting new people, doing new things, getting a fresh start. Even though it’s been more than a couple of years since I started a new school year, that feeling remains.

And, really, there have been a few times in my adult life that have reinforced that — I graduated from college and moved to Indianola in August, so was very much experiencing the new that fall. Two years later, I moved from Indianola to Houston in early October. I moved back to Huntsville in the month of August, and moved into my house the following fall.

It’s a good feeling, and a good reminder — that, even now, there are unlimited possibilities, fresh starts, and new beginnings; that there are new friends to make, new places to explore and unwritten adventures just waiting around the corner to be had.

Beach Time


More catching up from the month or so I missed:

It’s all relative, you know?

Arguably, it wasn’t a great shuttle launch trip.

Heather and the boys and I rode down to Titusville late last month with our friends the Meeks to watch the launch of the STS-134 space shuttle mission.

And Endeavour decided not to launch.

We got as far as the NASA Causeway, where I was waiting in line at the souvenir stand hours before the scheduled launch when we got the word that there would be no launch that day.

We ended up having to stay the following day and into the next before we found out for sure that the launch would be delayed too long for us to stay.

And, yeah, there were a few moments where it was frustrating.

There was one in particular when I was dealing with the disappointment of the scrub, the uncertainty of what would happen with the schedule, the challenge of keeping boys entertained while we were waiting, balancing the needs and desires of the four of us, the couple we traveled with and the family we were staying with.

And I realized —

Back home, Huntsville was still dealing with the effects of the major storms that had just come through. Everyone was without electricity. People were worried about water. Businesses were closed. Figuring out how to eat was a challenge. The city was under curfew.

If we weren’t there for the scrub, we’d be dealing with that. Instead, we had a free place to stay in Florida, power, water, food, things to do and places to go.

It’s a sad state of affairs when you can feel sorry for yourself while you’re standing on a sunny beach.

I’m just grateful I was able to remember that perspective in time to enjoy the sun and sand.

Because it really was a nice beach.

No Mo’ Snow


A week ago, I was off work because of the snow.

Today, the high is supposed to be almost 70.

That’s crazy.

I’m hoping it stays more like this week.

I’m tired of the snow.

Actually, I don’t mind the snow, per se. It’s pretty.

I’m tired of the ice. I’m tired of roads being closed. I’m tired of driving through it when the roads aren’t closed. I’m tired of the office shutting down. I’m tired of being stuck on the other side of the mountain from Heather and the boys.

In fact, I’m really tired of being stuck on the other side of the mountain from Heather and the boys. The first day of the biggest snow, I stayed inside and sulked. Didn’t step foot outside my door. Didn’t go look at the snow, much less touch it or play in it. The boys were helping Heather build a snowman, and I couldn’t be there because the roads between us were closed. Sigh.

It’s been amazing how much it’s snowed the last two years. Caden, who just turned five in December, is going to think this is what winter in Huntsville is supposed to be like. He’s in for a disappointment. (Unless, like me, he gets tired of it. Then he’ll be relieved to realize this year isn’t what winter in Huntsville is really like.)

At least I got my taxes filed during the snow day last week. That’s something, right?

How about you? Are you enjoying the incessant weather wonderland this year? Are you ready for the snow to go away? Were things even any different where you live?

When I Fall


Welcome to autumn!

I wrote a post last year about it being the first day of fall, and wanted to do so again this year.

In fact, I considered just republishing last year’s post, but it just didn’t seem right.

Oh, sure, there’s all that good sciencey stuff explaining about the first day of fall being the autumnal equinox when Earth’s subsolar point crosses the equator. And my basic feelings about fall (which were also the subject of a Reconstruction post earlier this year) as, moreso than spring, a time of fresh starts and new beginnings still apply this year as well.

That said, yeah, this year, I’m just not feeling it yet. And I think a good bit of that is literal. There’s a particular sort of day I associate with the beginning of fall — sun shining, weather cooler, a slight crisp breeze — and so far, we haven’t had a day that just really struck me as being fall.

And that may be the reason that I’m just not in the same place emotionally, either, but I’m not. It’s harder at the moment seeing this as a time when new beginnings are right around the corner. And that’s not a bad thing at all, I’m going into the fall at a place where I’m actually pretty content with the status quo; I don’t feel quite the need for something new that I did the last three or so autumns.

Who knows, the weather may change soon, and I may get that old fall feeling again.

As it is, I’m just looking forward to seeing a little more color.

Recent Random Pics


Some of these are from my 365project. Others are not.

An Ill Wind (Katrina Musings)


(I originally posted this on my blog last year; I’ve updated it slightly for this year.)

Me, at the Walls of Jericho

Me, at the Walls of Jericho

I feel a bit guilty for enjoying the experience.

I remember being outside that night. I remember the wind and the rain. I remember how glorious it was — the storm was the embodiment of the raw experience of being in nature, with all its power and majesty. I remember the feeling of the driving wind and the pouring rain, and it seeming glorious. I remember enjoying it.

Elsewhere, people were losing their homes. Elsewhere, people were dying.

That night was Monday, August 29, 2005. The day that Hurricane Katrina made landfall. Five years ago today.

Five years ago, Katrina was the most remote thing in the world. Sure, it was a big deal, but not one that affected me. It was a tragedy, but that tragedy was other people’s problem. When I realized where the wind and rain had come from, I felt somewhat guilty that I had enjoyed something — the remnants of Katrina that blew over Huntsville — that had caused such devastation elsewhere, but that was it. It just wasn’t part of my life.

I first felt the wings of the butterfly that weekend, in the smallest of ways, and, looking back on my attitude, the pettiest. We had made plans for friends in Jackson, Miss,. to come visit that weekend. Given the situation in Jackson, which was still without power and would be for a while, where gasoline was a precious commodity when it could be found at all, and where people were, even that far inland, dealing with substantial damage, my friend decided not to come to Huntsville, and to try to help out there instead. And I, I’m ashamed to admit, was annoyed by the inconvenience. In my defense, I still didn’t get it; still didn’t understand the scope and magnitude of what had happened.

I’m also a bit embarrassed to admit that the next time Hurricane Katrina blew into my life, it was in a positive way. My then-wife Nicole got a job on a state contract working with Katrina evacuees in north Alabama. These were people who had been transported out of New Orleans; basically, they all boarded a bus, and were driven up Interstate 65. Along the way, they were dropped off basically randomly based on how many people could be housed in a given location. Based on the luck of the draw, they might end up somewhere like the cities of Birmingham or Huntsville, or they might end up in a small Alabama town somewhere like Cullman. Nicole’s job was to help those people adjust to life after Katrina, either by helping them get settled in Alabama or by helping them move back home. (I joked at the time that her job was to go around and be Tom Petty for her clients: “You don’t have to live like a refugee.”) It was a good job for her, and a contract that paid rather well.

The next significant time Katrina and I crossed paths was in October 2006, when I visited Stennis Space Center, the first time I’d been to the coast since landfall. It was very odd seeing the changes in Biloxi and Gulfport, where I’d visited several times during my Mississippi days. In some ways, it was hard to believe it had already been a year, in others, it was hard to believe it had only been a year. Some buildings looked like they must have immediately after the hurricane, while others (like, of course, casinos) had impressive new structures designed and built from nothing post-Katrina. It was interesting talking to people at Stennis about how their lives had been, and continued to be, different after Katrina.

Katrina would arguably affect my life substantially at least one more time — the hurricane played some role in my ex-fiancée Susanna moving from her family’s home in Louisiana, and thus very possibly some role in her ending up in Huntsville. Without it, who knows whether we would have ever met. And the wings of the butterfly keep flapping …

So why did I start this post with a picture of me hiking? In the picture, I’m holding a hiking stick, one I bought in May 2006 in Jackson, Miss. I was on the only week-long vacation I had then ever taken in my career, the time and money for which were made possible by Nicole’s state contract job. In an independent coffee shop there, I saw the stick for sale — handcrafted from wood felled during Hurricane Katrina. Given the circumstances that had led to us being there, we just had to buy it. At the time, it was just a memento. I never used it as a hiking stick until last April, when I went for my first real hike, a week after Susanna called off our engagement — the wake of a further ill wind that Katrina had helped blow into my life, years later.

The stick is a reminder — of Katrina, specifically, and all the ways it touched my life, and, in general, that no man is an island, of how something that seems completely remote and unconnected can end up changing one’s life in ways you could never anticipate.

And that even when the winds and rains come, it doesn’t mean it can’t be glorious.

I Bought A Kayak!


I bought a kayak!

I was introduced to kayaking a couple of summers ago by my good friends the Sneeds, and went out a couple of times last summer with them and with another friend. Despite my relatively limited experience, it’s something I decided very quickly that I really enjoyed.

I’d had the thought that I might buy one sometime, and sometime came last week thanks to Dick’s Sporting Goods having some displayed outside weekend before last when I went to Target, and then advertising a sale on them in the next day’s paper. I ended up spending a bit more than the ad I liked was for, particularly when you factor in all the ancillary things I needed, but, if you’re going to buy a cheap kayak, you gotta do it right, right?

The weather Sunday didn’t allow me to take it out, but I’m really looking forward to doing so soon.