Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Week's Column

Distractions of history or defining moments
The news can be distracting at times. But sometimes it needs to be.
When I sat down to write this column a fire was raging in Sonora. I would start to type and then I’d hear more.
My concentration was busted while doodling on the paper on my desk and listening for news of how the fire was going.
It made me think about past events in my life where I was glued to the television, radio or newspaper just to see what had happened. Moments everyone stopped to concentrate on the same event. Distraction from our life but a focus on things that are larger than we are.
Moments when thoughts of self disappeared and the world became interested in something as a collective.
When tragedy strikes, distraction from self is evidence of belonging to the community at large. The memories of these types of events that cause the distraction are ingrained in memories for life.
My first memory of that was when President Ronald Regan was shot. I can remember watching it on the news for days and seeing the replay. That was way before cable had multiple news channels, Internet news and news at the speed of satellite.
The next event I remember consuming my thoughts was the Challenger Space Shuttle disaster. At one point I wanted to be an astronaut; the U.S. v. Russia space race was of great interest to me.
I can remember sitting in the school library to watch the launch and then seeing what happened. The news would show it over and over again trying to diagnose what happened.
Locally, I remember following coverage of the Carrollton bus crash. The story broke my heart, and I wanted to know as much as I could about it.
In another memory, I sat down with my dad to watch the 1989 World Series and remember the abrupt interruption and coverage of the earthquake in the days that followed.
There were many late nights during the first Gulf War, watching the reports come in from the war front. I’d watch the coverage of scud missiles firing through night vision photography.
I also remember the tragedy of the Oklahoma bombing. I was home from work that day for some reason and saw the shocking coverage. I cried for days.
A recent and shocking national experience was Sept. 11, 2001. Who can forget that? I would watch and watch hoping to hear about more survivors. The haunting images of the planes and ash filled aftermath are as clear in my mind as if it happened yesterday. We stayed glued to the television at work and I rarely turned the television off at home.
Then the second Gulf War began, and news came quickly with reporters embedded everywhere.
These moments of historic distraction, though tragic, connect people. They stay in the memory, impossible to erase.
What moments in history have defined your lifetime and stick in your memory? Was it Pearl Harbor, D-day, the JFK assignation, Martin Luther King Jr., the day Elvis died? Go online to and comment on this column to let us know what things have stuck in your mind as history’s distractions unfolded in your lifetime.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

This week's column

Family fun at the beach
I just got back from a trip to the beach at Gulf Shores with my family. As any adventure with my family it was a fun and humorous adventure.
Our days consisted of going to the beach, eating, hitting the beach again and then eating again. I think I ate enough seafood to last five vacations. It was all good, but a crash diet will soon follow.
The Original Oyster House, Shrimp Basket, Mikee’s and Sea and Suds were fish escapes. Cafe Grazie and Villaggio Grille were great Italian, and Cosmo’s was a fun place. I almost forgot Hope’s gourmet cheesecake, yum.
At Cosmo’s they love dogs and had a bulletin board in the back of the restaurant with photos of guests’ dogs. Yes, Boo and Duke’s pictures were left there, and I brought them back cute bandannas bought from the restaurant’s gift shop.
Duke probably could have made the trip, but Boo would have jumped in the ocean and swam all the way to Mexico. He loves the water a bit too much and wouldn’t have known when to stop swimming.
My cousin’s kids were the source of much humor. They are cute kids who enjoy being around “grown ups.”
One morning one of the little boys got up, went into his grandmother’s room and said, “Woman, get up and make me some breakfast.” Coming from a 6-year-old, that was cute. His twin brother was my wave jumping buddy.
My cousin’s daughter would randomly start dancing in her chair at dinner. I’m not sure what you’d call her dancing, but it looked like a cross between popping and a seizure. She cracked us up.
The eldest of the kids is growing up way too fast. They went shopping for school clothes at the outlet malls. He wore one of his outfits to dinner one night and, as a pre-teenager, looked like a budding teen. I think he even purchased some cologne.
Other humor came from my dear sweet mother who decided to go out and play in the waves with my cousin’s kids. One wave knocked her down, and she got so tickled she couldn’t get back up. She just kept rolling and rolling and rolling in the water. The kids are still laughing about it.
On a very cold night I went out crab hunting on the beach with the kids. I think they picked the coldest night to go because the sand was freezing and my feet were numb when I got back to the condo. We searched a long stretch of the beach and found only 10 that night. I think the crabs were smarter than we were and stayed someplace warm.
Many crabs, dragonflies and fish also found their way thrown on sunbathers in the daytime by the mischievous kids.
Unfortunately the trip brought the tragic end to my camera. While trying to get a picture of a stingray in the ocean, it started towards me, and in my retreat to the shore I dropped my camera in the ocean. It was only there a few seconds, but it was enough to kill the camera. That wasn’t the end of my clumsiness at the beach. I also found the perfect shell to make a necklace out of, but it had a little oil on it. I went to clean it in the sink and, as my usual luck, dropped it down the garbage disposal.
There were still a few tar balls on the beach and some oil caked in seashells but not enough to affect anyone. The condo manager said that business was down 65 percent since the oil spill. With all the eating out I think our family may have single-handedly revived the restaurant businesses.
Hardin County was doing their part to help business. I saw at least 26 other people from the area in Gulf Shores while I was there. It remains a popular fall break destination.
Being harvest time, my dad didn't get to go, but I brought him back some fresh seafood so he could enjoy part of the experience as well.
I miss the beach. I could sit out on the balcony and watch dolphins, hear the ocean roar and soak up the sun. The milder temperatures were perfect for me because I’m not a fan of hot summer weather.
No more combing the beach for seashells, no more playing in waves and no more fresh seafood.
I had the great joy of sharing my beach experience with my family and got to hang out with some great kids that are full of fun, humor, love and joy.
Things like that are best enjoyed with family and friends and with them it becomes a richer experience. I’m glad they let me tag along. ,