God's fire in the sky.

God's fire in the sky.
No matter how hard man tries, he can't replicate the smallest of God's glories.

The Whole Fam-Damily

The Whole Fam-Damily
". . . and the magic number is NINE, (count 'em 9)" ... l-r, Terry, Dan, Mark, Kevin, Kathy, Tom, Mom, Dad, Eileen, Richard & Tim, but who's counting??? =)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dena is going to be Sixty (60).

What are you going to do when you have a sixty year old angel??? Love her with your whole being. How many women can get her way as they stands toe to toe with the "captains of industry", sits at the bedsides and graves as her parents die, listen to horrible tragedies told to her by frightened, suffering friends and then 'on a lark', lay down in the snow and make 'snow angels' as if she were six and this is her avocation and her first frozen precipitation. Everyone loves her and she loves them in return, warts and all.

She loves flowers, so the flower fairy gave her 60 roses and "one to grow on". I'm sure she is in the photo somewhere???

Dena is at least as much fun to give a gift to as any child I have ever had the privilege to watch receive a present. That is the best part of it for me.

The oddly and overly wrapped gift in the photo is a hard backed photo album created by apple books and me. It is quite beautiful, if I must say so myself. It is after all a collection of the "Life and times of Dena Olivia Takmajian-Pierce". We expect the movie to follow this summer. :)

It took many weeks and hours to assemble the photos and learn how the create the book. It was even lost to the world in a computer 'fart', but I overcame this momentary setback and rebuilt the book from scratch for my sweet wife. I think she likes it.

When we got to Ramone's El Dorado last night, they were going to close the doors at 4:30 pm because of the snow and very cold (single digit) temperatures. When we left at 7:30 pm the restaurant was still half full and people still coming in. Who'd have thunk it ???

We were the first one to arrive and for a very short time it looked as if it was going to be a "Mary Tyler Moore Party".

Dena, (still blind as a bat when it comes to her mate), has the most beautiful eyes and smile, Always. Thank God for Dena and thank him sharing her with me.

Mark and Carrie, who shared their house with us at Christmas, joined the crew to wish Dena a happy birthday. We are always happy to see them.

Jose' our long time friend at Ramone's, takes care of our every need. The margaritas flow like a river (well at least a cold stream). Our place is reserved every week and we need to call Jose' so that he will not worry if we can not get there. He knows what I will order and usually chooses the best and freshest delight for Dena.

Crash (Debbie) and Phil helped to put this small secret together. Crash is one of Dena's oldest freinds, that is not to imply that she is in anyway "old". Deb would do anything for Dena and was glad to take over responsibilities for the 'Gayla Gala'. Her sweet smile and easy demeanor belies the strength and wisdom under the surface. Phil is a good match her and friend to us.

Kathy and Frank are possibly the uber partiers. They are great parents and grandparents. Their son is a stellar student, mostly do to their dillagence. Kathy is another of Dena's oldest friends who have a much longer history that I with her. Kathy and Dena walk together in the coldest or hottest or just most miserable of days and seem to not notice the weather. Dena is a good listener and Kathy is . . . well, Kathy.

It sure took long enough!!!!!

Sorry to leave you hanging these months. (Like anyone would be pining away for my new posts.) I have been busy, lazy and depressed. My sister's husband died suddenly in November, immediately after getting Dena home from Birmingham where she kept watch (with nieces Cynthia and Laura) over Dena's sister-in-law, still recovering from open heart surgery. Pat is still in the hospital, going on over two months. Dena was home no more than an hour, before I was called to go back to Florida.

My sister is better and growing stronger everyday. Dena's, Pat will be needing your prayer for a long time to come.

There is always a silver lining in dark clouds. The good news that I could not speak of in
November is that Dena's niece, Monica (43 years old) is having an a baby. This follows on the heals, (well probably not that close together) of the pregnancy of her sister, Leigh Ann, (two years younger) giving birth to a beautiful baby boy, Patrick, on May 26th, (1990). Patrick will be a cousin, finally as he is about to be twenty. The cousins will have to figure out some kind of arrangement. Patrick can use the new baby to help pick up "chicks" and maybe the "chicks" can help him change the diapers. :)

Grandma, Clara, is ecstatic. She can put her well-honed skills at QVC and the Shopping Channel to good use to but everything in the world for the new G-baby. Now, in our old age, we can come up with money, it is called a reverse mortgage.

We were all concerned about the Immaculate Conception. It is very hard these days running down "Angels", who visit girls in the night, to get them to pay child support. As we all know, "Angels" do not have a social security numbers and their last known addresses are sketchy at best.

But then, we found that, in fact, Monica's boy friend, Mike, is a very good friend of "said Angel" and is willing to be a stand-up guy take over the responsibilities. Mike is also an itinerant carpenter, but not from the same U.B.C. local.

To his credit, he is a former solider in the United States Marine Corp and a veteran from the "Desert Storm War". He shares responsibilities raising his first son, is hard working and seems to be an all around good guy. Everyone likes him very much.

He displayed a large amount of his 'courage under-fire', as he proposed to Monica in front of the immediate family on Christmas morning, There was a long silence, because we know that our Monica is very particular about men. She took a breath and said "yes". Mike thankfully got off his knees and joined the rest of us as we cheered, cried and laughed, (to break the ice).

When asked about plans to marry, Monica replied "I'm just engaged" (a very big step for her & Mike). I'm sure they will work out some arrangements and we are all anxious to be at that celebration.

I hope you all had a kind and civil Christmas and remembered those less fortunate. It is after-all the cardboard box, not the presents that lasts.

LOve, Pirate

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A very Emotional day.

Our sister in law, Patricia (front right in photo), went in for some cardiac tests today in the Fort Walton Hospital. It appears that that she will need a lot more mechanical work done, so they are going to ship her to U of A Hospital at Birmingham. Cynthia (back row right) is going to go up tomorrow after the ambulance. Her sister, Laura, is coming down from down from Iowa with the kids.

We will wait to hear more and then maybe stop in Birmingham on the way home.

Pat came down to get away from the cold and has enjoyed a couple of years here with Cynthia and grandson, Ben (back row left). She is a very strong, resilient and fine ladie and I'm sure she will make it through this. Say some prayers for her.

We heard some very good and happy news, but can not divulge it at this time. Shucks! Stay tuned.

Dena's cheer leading friends call from Ravenelli's in Collinsville, Il asking if she could come over on such short notice, but did not realize we are still in Florida. She talked to Donna for a long time and she felt better after the phone call.

Next on the line was Crash. She always has calming on Dena, who is very grateful for her friendship and love.

Now, kisses and hugs from the puppies and then off to bed for my princess so she will awake refreshed.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Live @ Logan's (Road House, Mary Esther, Florida)

Today we met some of the family at Logan's Roadhouse in Mary Esther, Florida, for lunch. It had started out as a breakfast with only my sister, Kathy, but as more family were added, the time and place was changed to Logan's for lunch. We all had good time and enjoyed the fellowship.

Four generations around the table (l-r) Marma Duke, Kathy, Alicia and Amara (six months and a very beautiful and happy baby).

Alicia's step daughter, Gia, center, and Gia's friends, Kennedy (right) and Kyra (left) all about thirteen years give or take a couple of months and all of them too, too, too cute. Brother, Tom and I had a peanut fight with them. I'm pretty sure that they won ( or we surrendered). (Logan's has a barrel of these complimentary legumes and when the nuts are devoured, the shells are just thrown on the floor)

Jason, Alicia Mom, Kathy and Amara.

Tom (a bad shot with peanuts) and step-son, Trey.

Bette, Dena and Amara. The baby is the cutest little six month old girl. Very happy and not shy about being held by others, even by me.

All in all it was a very fun and happy time. The family is a scary and wonderful thing, all at the same time. Thank God for them.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Tie-dyeing with Willow as the Hurricane Ida approaches.

While the weather had it's way at the beach and chased away the sun worshipers and swimmers, we danced and played, (well, we 'played' hooky from house work, anyway.) Hurricane Ida, only a category one, was headed our way, with rain and winds.

Today we went to the house of Willow and Rogers to do some tie-dyeing. Dena had purchased a t-shirt at the local yoga studio her in Navarre. The girls from Yoga are going to get together in December to and tie-dye their shirts, but we won't be here.

As it happened, I went to meditation yoga a day or so later and met Willow who is a dyeing expert, "avec dehors l'egale" (with out equal). She was gracious enough to invite Dena (& I) to decorate the shirt before we left for home in Illinois and teach us the process, as Dena may help our northern yoga studio do the same thing.

It was relatively easy as Willow lead us through the procedure. First, add the design of our choice to the shirt (excluding some trade secret patterns). Then, prepare the shirt to receive the dye. Next, fold around the design and tie segments with sinew to separate the colors. Now, apply color, and allow to dry. Finally wash several times to stop the possible bleeding.

I tied an old shirt that was stained and not worn very often, the new colors should cover any old blemishes. I should look pretty "far out" when I get it back from Willow.

You can order shirts, hoodies, dresses, drapes, wall hangings, etc, from Mellow Tie Dye.com . (Ask about the "dragon fly" it is the coolest, but not on the website yet.) Willow is "vivacious", (I don't mean to over-use the word, but it fits her, too) not at all like the name of the business (Mellow) that she and her friend in Texas formed . She is sweet, energetic and a lot of fun to be around. She and her husband were in the Air Force together and spent most of their time, stationed here in Northwest Florida. They wound up living here and have a beautiful house in Navarre.

Dena and Willow ( left) at the studio. Hubby, Rogers was rained out at work, so we had a photo-opp with him too. He is working on a very big, new steel mill in Alabama. Their dog Scarlett had a sore foot, but was very sweet, ignoring the pain. The children were at school, but perhaps we will meet them next time.

Does shirt make me look slimmer???? Pretty soon everyone on the block will want
one. The heart on the back was supposed to be straight, but everyone seems to like the mistake. I like the way the camera makes my bald spot shine like a beacon. I'm doing all the picture taking from now on.=)

As the clouds rolled in and the rains came in advance of the storm (now, thank God the hurricane has been down grade to Tropical Storm Ida.), the wind surfers were enjoying
unusually strong wind. They were skimming by at frightening speeds. The wind was strong enough to allow the surfer to be pulled skyward as much as ten feet off the water. "Pretty cool."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

"Ride the Tiger." or "Tiger by the tail."

I think that "Jefferson Airplane", later "Starship" had a nice song, "Ride the Tiger" 1974. This is not the best rendition of the song, but it gives you some idea.
I like the lyric:
"It's like a tear in the hands of a western man, (He'll) Tell you about salt, carbon and water
But a tear to an oriental man
He'll tell you about sadness and sorrow or the love of a man and
a woman."

(Erica, I'm trying to get better at making links.)

I was reminded of that song when Delaney and Harper got a couple of stuffed Tigers, one white (Snow) and the other an orange (Bengal). At first Delaney did not show much interest in either, but as soon as Harper tried one out for size, Delaney's (Laney, as she is known to the paparazzi) interest started to peak.
Laney stays in the back ground part of the time, not wanting to get too close, but also not wanting to miss out on any really good fun.

Eileen and Jennifer, a fine couple of motha's.

We went to Ramone's El Dorado, in Collinsville. Dena and I go there every week for "Date Night". We have been going there for 25 years and hope to go at least another 25. Our Florida brethren and 'cistern' =), asked to break bread (tacos) with us, as they have enjoyed this restaurant with us before. The food, drinks and friendship were had by all and it was as good as it gets. We missed Ken and Allen, spouses that had to work, but we will see them and many more tomorrow at Gina's wedding.

My sister, Eileen says that Harper looks like me when I was that age. As I look at photos from 1948 (wow) I see the resemblance. I'm sure in a month she will look like any number of family members in our vast clan for some period of time and then morph again, (possibly a butterfly???) =-) If she starts a beard, walks bow-legged and wears glasses, I might be a little more concerned of her resemblance to me, otherwise I know she will turn out to be a wonderfully beautiful child and adult as so many in our family have done to date. =)

Two of my brothers, Mark & Richard along with their wives, Bette & Kathy, came up from Florida to go to their (our) niece's wedding. They had some time to stop by our sister's, Eileen, for a visit. Since this is a day when Eileen watches her granddaughters, Delaney & Harper today, so we got an extra treat with the girls. Delaney has big blue eyes, but is a little shy towards me (I think it is the beard). I do not see her much and this is the first time I have seen Harper (8 months). Shame on me. It is hard to believe that they have both grown so fast.

Both girls are darling and fun to watch, but I like being the grandfather or great uncle when they need their diapers changed. "Here Mom." Eileen is very proud of these latest grandchildren. The other two, Anne & Jon are both in high school and do not require the attention associated with toddlers. Still she lights up when they come by or she is talking about them.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Coleman Show. "The Sequel"

For all those who are in need of a Coleman fix, let this be a small teaser until you get to see him in person. His literary agent told me that Cole (as he is known to his close friends in the "hood") will have a signing for his new book "My Early Years", at "Babies 'R' Us", at a time to be arranged. All are welcome, but the family discount for his signature only applies to purchasing, at full price, this "First Edition" his latest book. =))

Our "sometimes wild" dad has adjusted to the role of father-hood comfortably. He preformed all of the parental duties with ease and precision of an old English Nanny. Now that I think about it, he is starting to look a little dowdy. ==))

The Faery Godmother had to get her fix today, too. She was over last week to spell Beth, while she rested. Beth did not get much rest, but every moment of sleep is precious.

Beth (radiant as always, not showing the wear & tear of motherhood) stops for a quick photo-opp, before she is off to check on costumes at her school of dance.

Coleman was a very good baby, even when I held him. =) Here he is in his swing. He wants to grow up and be just like his dad, a bottle, a burp, a fart, (a diaper?) and off to sleep. Ain't he cute!

Rah! Rah! Sisss-Boom-Bah, Peyton Cheering.

Recently I met my daughter, Tracy & granddaughter Rylan to watch Rylan's big sister, Peyton (8th grade), cheer for the Glenwood Middle School "Titans", 7th & 8th grade, "Our gridiron greats", in Chatham, Il. I'm not sure of the football game's outcome, but the cheerleading was a winner. It was a little cold and windy, but it did not seem to affect the girls on the sideline much. This is Peyton's second year cheering and I am very proud of her. To keep her position on the squad she is required to have good grades and stellar record at school. Her mother would see to both of those things anyway, but it is nice for Peyton to hear it from another source. All the girls on the squad are well behaved and enthusiastic athletics in their own rite.

Although I did not know Peyton's grandmother, Dena, in 8th grade at Prather School, Granite City, Il, she was already leading a cheer for her junior high School "Chiefs". In the photo left she is top right and her best friend, Debby, is top middle. Dena went on to cheer in high school and was voted "Most Friendly" her senior year. (We will not divulge just WHAT year that was.) =)

We got some cute girls in this family.

Peyton as her own following at school, her are some of her friends were here to watch the game and Peyton cheer. They are good girls and all well known to Tracy, who is also a favorite "Mom" among the girls, keeping a good watch over their activities.

Peyton on top (right) of the pyramid. A little balance problem at the end, but who's perfect.

Another cheer video. "Bears get ready for defeat."

One last cheer for the "Gipper".

RyRy (left) hamming for the camera. She made sure that grandpa paid attention to his little one, while she cheered at the game at the game. She knows some of the cheer and movements. I would not be surprised if don't have a third granddaughter cheering. (Ashley, 11, (below) cheered several years for the St Charles Titans Jr football league.)) It was the same team the her brother Jordan (12) played for, before they moved to O' Fallon.

". . . and the band played on." A wonderful half-time performance.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

. . . and Asher makes ? ? ?, but who's counting

I am very happy to report that Dena's (& my) family is still growing. Amy had her second child, a boy named Asher. Almost everyone in the family got to hold our new infant at Clara's Monday night. It is a right of passage for us to embrace the new baby and introduce ourselves to him. He is a very good natured and healthy baby.

Wee has Asher for a "photo-opp".

Mom and Asher take a quiet break from all the new family members. He was very good during the "meet and greet", but did not mind a snuggle with his mom.

Big sis, Kyla gets an old Barbie doll that came from Great-Grandama's house and the toy will no doubt go to Antique Road Show before long. Kyla may become very rich.

Aunt Dena and Kyla pose for a photo-op, the line for autographs went around the block. Kyla is not lacking for attention, she went to see all the vast family members and was their delightful entertainment that night. Her hair has finally grown and she has become very outgoing. Kyla was dancing, jumping and generally having a good time. (Please see video)

Cynthia and son, Ben up from Florida for a short visit. It is good to see them, but we will visit them and their mother Pat, soon.

Grant, Kyla, Mia and Wee, visiting at Clara's

Amy seems very happy for the family to meet her son, Asher, and just as happy to get a break while others hold the beautiful boy.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

1969 New Orleans Pop Festival.

Way, way back, (before the term "in the day") there was a pop festival. It was held Forty years ago, hard for me to believe so much time has past since then. The celebration started Sunday, August 31st and ended Monday (Labor day) September 1st, 1969. It was a very hot summer weekend, but goers at the crowded event (25,000) did not seem to mind. Several friends talked about a party with many great bands was to be staged at the Louisiana International Speedway, north of Gonzalaz, La. I was hesitant at first, but they said we would have a "far out" time, be "out of state", have fun and spend some time together before I shipped out to Germany later that year, I agreed to come along. I was not then and later was never really a hippy, though I sported long hair for several years after I got out of the service, but in my soul I loved the music just as much as any flower child.

Hurricane Camille had hit Biloxi, Ms, the Gulf Coast and me August 17, 1969 (right in the middle of Woodstock). This was our first leave after starting the cleanup from the 190 mph storm. Storm surge waves of 25 feet had hit all along the Mississippi coast, sparing nothing. At that time it was the greatest storm on record, tearing down houses that had stood on or near the beach for 200 years. My boss said that I could take off for a couple of days and I did not ask twice. I had spent the past two weeks, night and day with a chain saw in my hand, clearing roads and houses of 100 year old trees, as big submarine and dearly needed some R & R

The festival was a blessing for many people still in shock over the loss (including me, but that was not much) of everything they had owned. It allowed an escape from the hellish landscape and horrible conditions of the Mississippi Coast. This was the first time I had seen houses or street lights lit. You could go to a service station, get gas (Wow) and a bag of ice, luxuries we had not seen in a while. Store and restaurants were open and were air conditioned. This celebration became as much about life as it was about music. It was a great time, know matter how you look at it.

The lineup for the New Orleans Pop Festival included The Byrds, Canned Heat, Chicago (Transit Authority), Grateful Dead, Iron Butterfly, It's a Beautiful Day, Janis Joplin, Santana (my favorite), T-Rex, Youngbloods "and many more stars". The two day event cost a whopping $16.00 at the gate. It also included free camping and a "giant fireworks show". I have a copy of the poster to the top right, but could not find it, Dena must have taken it to the "Antique Road Show".

Notice the flying "boats" on the advertisement above. They are derived (I found this out later) from the "Mystery Submarine" on display at the Louisiana State Museum at Jackson Square, downtown New Orleans. I found the photo of the sub on another blog site. Read about it if you are inclined.

This music celebration followed on the heals of "Woodstock", too. It was in New York, several weeks earlier, spanning our hurricane. I had met some "hippies" about three weeks earlier, on their way to a "music festival in New York" (no big deal, I thought?). I met them while idling on the beach in Biloxi, MS, where I was stationed in the good ole' US Air Force. They were headed to some town very near the Catskill Mountains, below Albany, NY, on a farm owned by some guy named Yasgur. (Sing it to me, Jonie Mitchell) It was many months later, when the gravity of the Woodstock concert and those hippies going to the very same festival, hit me. (Dah!) What stories they must have had to tell.

Carlos Santana and his band had already found their there way into my musical catalog. He is one of the best, if not 'the' best guitarist in the world. (with the possible exception of Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton.) There is to my knowledge no video or audio of the N. O. Pop Festival, but Woodstock, several weeks prior, was filmed including a very good ten minuet rendition of "Soul Sacrifice". (See the link below, but be advised, there is some nudity in the video. Shut off the video and listen to the audio.)

Pictured to the left at the New Orleans Pop Festival 1969 is Carlos Santana on guitar and Jose ("Chepito") Areas on congas. (Photo, showing some age, courtesy, : Me.) A lot of the photos did not turn out, but I saved this one. The music flowed and the people were happy.

Carlos said in a recent interview, that he had taken some mescaline thinking he had hours to come down, but since other bands could not get through the traffic jam, his band had to go on immediately.

He said that because of the drugs, his guitar had turned into a large snake with which he wrestled the entire performance. He prayed that he would never do mescaline again, if he could only stay in tune and beat.

Another band that really came across well was "It's A Beautiful Day" with their song "White Bird" (". . . in a golden cage"). Before this festival, I do not think that I had ever really noticed an lead electric violin in a rock band. It was not until 1972 that Marshall Tucker played his 'bad' fiddle. David LaFlamme (great name) on a 'killer' violin and his wife Linda LaFlamme's memorable voice and organ playing.

The album cover below is one of the prettiest
cover I ever seen.

A "pillow fight broke out when one or two of the celebrants, probably having a little too much sprits (or something like that) decided that a little snow would cool thing off. It got a little out of hand, as several other pillow toting goers added their feathers to the mix and we had an early Christmas.

On the way out, Monday afternoon I took a shot of some of my very tired friends that had stayed to the bitter end. Clowning for the camera, right, Rich Sonjae(?) (I can't remember that French-Cajun spelling) and is sister (yellow shorts) and several guys to the left. Some of the people we partied with were regulars, but some we barely knew their name. Not pictured is Gregg Lockhart, my roommate who I think left early to beat the crowd. As you can see we waited until the bulk of the crowd had left. We headed back to the horrible damage of Biloxi and started back to cutting and cleaning. Later that year I was shipped to Germany (tough break) =) and did not get back to Biloxi until the mid-Seventies. By then most of the coast was back on it's feet, but there were still remnants of the storm and scares that would never heal.
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