Saturday, July 18, 2009

Summer 2009

Dry where you are?

Not in east Tennessee this summer!

Look at the photo above of Watauga Lake--highest levels for that TVA lake that I've seen in my lifetime. I snapped this picture about a week ago.

All in all, a pretty good summer spent relaxing, playing with the grandkids, doing fun things with spouse, planting our garden (above photo) which has thrived thanks to plenty of rain and sunshine, working in the yard, and occasionally escaping to the golf course with grandkids.

From the other photos, you might notice that we acquired a new puppy-a frisky, playful bichon frese that we named "Michael Jackson." (He likes to tumble and play with our loveable sheltie, Roadie.)

One picture shows Michael Jackson with grandkids Samantha, Hank and yours truly. (Well, Hank isn't exactly my grandchild, but I love him anyway.)

And what about all those rolls of freshly mown hay? They're in back of our home in Mountain City, Tenn. Aren't they beautiful?

Summer. Might be my favorite season.

Perfect for new puppies, hay, grandchildren, gardens and golf.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Honoring my dad

Dear Dad,

It's not Father's Day but you're my dad, and you're 88 and I want to say a few things before the time gets away. After all, our hearts are beating even as we now breathe and who knows how much time either of us has? (See my note about heartbeats at top of my blog.)

You were born in 1921 in Fish Springs, Tenn., near Butler, Tenn., one of 13 children (or was it 12?)

You came into this world hungy and naked and squalling not at a hospital but at your home. It was Feb. 2--Groundhog's Day. That's why we've lovingly referred to you as the "Old Groundhog" in your autumn years.

As a boy, you hoed corn, as I recall your telling me many times, for 10 cents an hour, on a rough, steep Tennessee hillside.

Life was harsh, to say the least. Food was scarce, but at least your parents, Avery Timbs and Roberta Timbs, could feed their family with their home grown potatoes, beans and potatoes. And I believe the Timbs clan always had a few pigs and chickens and a milk cow. So no one went hungry, and everyone in your family got an apple or orange and a piece of stick candy for Christmas.

Those had to have been tough, trying times--growing up (and surviving) at Fish Springs in Carter County, Tenn.

You enlisted in the U.S. Army five months before America entered World War II. (For you, that must have been a grand adventure--escaping from the hills of Tennesee and shoving off to explore the world!)

I've heard you tell stories about your Army days--earning $21 a month and sending a portion of that money back home to Fish Springs to help your mom and dad and siblings.

(How on earth does someone who makes only $21 a month salt away some of that for the family back in Tennessee?)

As an Army infantryman, you served in lots of places, including: Fort Lee, Va.; the Mohave Desert in California; the island of Kauai in Hawaii; and in the jungles of New Guinea and on the island of Moratai in the Pacific. You also did your part on the island of Luzon in the Philippines, where, while you were there, Japanese General Yamishito surrendered to your division.

Later, your division was selected to be one of the first to invade Japan, but as fate would have it, after the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you went to Japan only as part of an "occupation force" for six months before returning to the U.S.

Okay, so then, dad, you thought you'd had enough of the military and high-tailed it back to Fish Springs.

But jobs and opportunities in East Tennessee must have been really scarce, so back into the military you went--this time to the U.S. Air Force.

You liked the Air Force and vice versa because you stayed for 20 years, retiring in Oct. 1962, after serving, among other places, at Sewart Air Force Base near Nashville, Tenn.; Korea during the Korean conflict; Eglin Field (near Niceville, Fla.) where I was born; Austin, Texas; Nagoya, Japan; McGhee-Tyson Air Force Base near Maryville, Tenn.; and at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo.

In the Air Force, you were, at various times, a recruiter, historian, reporter, and newspaper editor. (Maybe that's how I first became attracted to journalism.) Your last newspaper assignment was the Skyline Observer--where you were editor of a publication focusing on the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) and the Air Force's Space Command.

When you retired from the military service (at age 38), you had a chest full of medals and decorations, including: the Army Commendation Ribbon, Distinguished Unit Citation, Air Force Unit Award, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon with three Bronze Service Stars, World War II Victory Medal, Army of Occupation Medal (Japan), National Defense Service Medal, Korean Service Medal with five Bronze Service Stars, Air Force Longevity Service Award with Four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Philippine Liberation Medal, Philippine Presidential Citation, United States Presidential Citation, Republic of Korea Presidential Citation.

The brass wrote this about you on your retirement order: "Throughout his military service Technical Sergeant Timbs has given faithful and conscientious service to his country. His standard of conduct and leadership has provided an excellent example for those who have been associated with him during his military career."

Good job serving our country, dad. I love you and am honored to be your son.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bank machine rage

Haven't posted in awhile, so these will be random thoughts.

1. Quote of the week (seen scribbled on a note at my daughter's home in Durham, N.C.):

"When you're going through hell...just keep going!" (Churchill, I think).

2. Quote from my dad: "Everything on TV is fake except for wrestling."

3. We've heard and read a lot about road rage, but what about ATM (as in automatic bank teller machine) rage? In Rock Hill, S.C., a few weeks ago (on an otherwise peaceful Saturday at about 10 a.m.) I waited in line, in my VW Beetle, for my turn at the Wachovia ATM machine just off the Celanese Bypass (near Dunkin Donuts.) Two cars were in front of me, but immediately in front of me (sandwiched between the two cars and me) stood a man on foot (not in his car) waiting for his turn at the ATM. Behind me was a man in a car (also waiting his turn.)

The man on foot, in blue jeans and a tee shirt and wearing a baseball cap, seemed to be in his mid 30s. The man behind me, in his car, appeared to be about 70.

I wouldn't have particularly noticed their ages, except for this: The motorist behind me began yelling angrily at the man standing and waiting his turn at the ATM--words to the effect of "Who the F do you think you are--out here standing like that??! You can't be here without a car. You're bothering me! Get the F out of here right now!"

The young guy tried to ignore him, but to no avail. The elderly guy kept ranting and demanding that the young guy leave.

The young man said something, but I couldn't discern it. (At that point, I rolled up my windows and locked my doors, wondering what would happen next...)

Finally the man (the one not in a car) got up to the machine, got his cash and turned to walk away, and that's when I heard this from behind me:


Yes, pure hatred and anger erupted that otherwise peaceful Saturday morning at the ATM machine in Rock Hill.

What made that old guy so out of sorts?

What on earth and in the name of God did the young man do that so infuriated the outraged soul behind me?

Why do people lose it so easily and for nothing?

What price a man's temper and intolerance?

ATM rage at the Wachovia bank near Dunkin Donuts on Celanese Road in Rock Hill. Brace yourself for it.