Notes from the Southwest Corner: A “difficult” absence

Published in The Lebanon Democrat Tuesday, April 14, 2015.

SAN DIEGO – I found out this weekend having my wife absent can be difficult for me.

But it was “okay” difficult for me. For her, it was a bit more unpleasant, at least initially.

Maureen and two friends left Thursday to visit another Mount Miguel High School classmate now living in Cleveland, Ohio. The travelers had a plane change scheduled at Midway, the other Chicago airport. Their flight arrived at the landing pattern about ten minutes too late. The storm front creating last week’s tornadoes in the Midwest halted takeoff and landings at that time.

Their plane flew circles waiting for the weather to clear. It didn’t. So they went to the Springfield, Ohio airport to refuel. The storm passed during the refueling, and they finally landed at Midway, missing their connecting flight. Of course, there were a whole bunch of other folks who missed connections, and the later outgoing flights were filled. The next available flight to Cleveland was about 6:00 pm, Friday, meaning they would arrive in Cleveland about thirty hours later than planned.

The three travelers got a room, rented a car, and the next morning drove to Cleveland. As I write this, all has been wonderful after the tortuous outgoing travel.

Meanwhile back in the Southwest corner, I was relearning how dependent I have become on one Ms Maureen Renee Boggs Jewell.

It wasn’t always that way.

In fact in those wonderful years of the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was independent to the point I decided to remain single for the rest of my life. Marriage had not worked out too well, and being a single Navy lieutenant commander and commander at Texas A&M, on Western Pacific deployments, and in San Diego, was a pretty good life style.

I became self-sufficient. I had a nice apartment on Coronado, a Mazda RX7, proved to be a decent cook, and had enough money to do pretty much what I wanted to do. I figured I would remain single, retire from the Navy, and end up with two homes, one in Coronado, and one in Lebanon.

Of course, it did not turn out that way. I met Maureen and those plans were pretty well blown to smithereens. We got married.

I’m glad.

With both of us working, I continued to cook, and when I retired from active duty (the day our daughter Sarah was born), I became Mister Mom and cooked more frequently. Then Maureen retired. The kitchen has become a forbidden place. Occasionally, I am asked to cook my mother’s meatloaf and biscuits. Sometimes I’m asked to prepare the chili my friend, JD Waits and I created back when we shared a condo on Coronado. I also infrequently am asked to cook turnip greens and cornbread and my own concoction of okra, tomatoes, mushrooms, and onions.

But that’s it.

I no longer know where things are located. I set the table and wash dishes, but Maureen puts them up. When she left, I went to the refrigerator to find green and brown juices, fruits, healthy green things she turns into marvelous gourmet meals, mascarpone and almonds, and all sorts of other things I couldn’t figure out. The can goods and spice cabinets had a lot of things I couldn’t pronounce.

There was, in the meat crisper, one thing I could cook. I recently discovered the Navy commissary had not quit carrying Tennessee Pride Country Sausage. So I had snuck some into the garage refrigerator. There were also eggs. The cheese larder contained only Asiago and some other European stuff. There was no cheddar or American cheese slices. When I found the peanut butter I knew I would be all right. I ate out a lot.

I devoted Friday to two rounds of golf. Our Friday morning group teed off early. Afterwards, I joined Pacific Tugboat’s foursome for a tournament sponsored by San Diego’s Propeller Club.

The Master’s was on television, and the Padres played the Giants for four games. Even Vanderbilt’s Saturday game was on TV in the Southwest corner. Our friends, the Toennies invited me to Saturday dinner. Sunday, I had a marvelous time with my cousin’s granddaughter and great granddaughter, Renee Hoskins and her daughter Kinsley at the Scripps Institute’s Birch Aquarium.


Kinsley being held up by an old goofy guy to watch the sea life at the Birch Aquarium.

Kinsley being held up by an old goofy guy to watch the sea life at the Birch Aquarium.

So I have survived my long weekend. When you read this, barring another storm in the Midwest, Maureen will be safely home, and I will be banned from the kitchen again.

That is not all bad.

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Notes from the Southwest Corner: Security on Good Friday

Published in The Lebanon Democrat Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

SAN DIEGO – The last time I played Camp Pendleton’s Marine Memorial Golf Course was several years ago when Wayne Dedman came out from Middle Tennessee to visit his sister’s family, who then lived in Temecula, Calif.

Wayne, who was one of the coaches when we played baseball for the Lebanon American Legion (1961), is one of my most frequent golf players along with Mike Dixon. Bobby Lannom occasionally joins us as well. The three of us played on that team who beat Columbia for the regional title before we lost in the state championship in Memphis.

Regardless, Wayne and his brother-in-law met me at the course. We had an enjoyable round. Pendleton’s course is one of my favorites. It was also one of Richard Nixon’s favorite courses. He played it often when he stayed at his “Western White House” in San Clemente, just up the road from the base.

Marine Corps Base Camp Joseph H. Pendleton is a large chunk of federal land separating Los Angeles sprawl from what is now San Diego sprawl. Still, San Diegans like to think of the base as a buffer between the two competing Southwest corner megalopolises. The “camp” is the Marine Corps’ largest amphibious assault training facility. It includes 17 miles of prime coastline and covers more than 125,000 acres all told.

I spent quite a few hours on that coastline, participating in “phiblexes,” or in non-military terms: amphibious landing exercises. Now when I travel north to Los Angeles, I frequently see Marine and Navy helicopters dropping troops in coastal landing zones. Every once in a while, I will see landing craft bringing marines ashore, training to deploy to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean.

pendleton club houseThe golf course is in a recess in the middle of seemingly nowhere. It was made more accommodating in the late 90’s when the marines opened up a gate on the base’s southern border. Previously, the drive from the main gate was over 15 miles with a chunk of it along Rattlesnake Canyon Road. The course is bounded by foothills to the east and surrounded by pretty much nothing but high desert on the other sides. It is a long and lovely layout with a large clubhouse.

pendleton-trumanThe course was opened in 1948. There is a large mural on the clubhouse patio wall of the course when it opened with an inset of an entourage led by General Erskine, the base commander, and President Harry S. Truman, touring the course shortly after it opened.

Because of the topography and the remote location, temperatures can vary greatly during the round. When we arrived 6:15 Friday morning, the car’s thermostat read 41 degrees. When we left the parking lot around noon, it was 85, a swing of 44 degrees. I teed off in four layers of clothes and was still shivering cold for three holes. When we walked off the 18th green I was down to shorts and a knit shirt and sweating.

The clubhouse sits on a berm and overlooks the driving range, putting green and the first and finishing holes. It is a beautiful layout with old eucalyptus trees lining the heavily bunkered fairways and greens.

On the first tee, we spotted a long line of troops on a hillside path running along the east side of the course. The line of marines in tan camouflage curved around a hill. From the numbers, we guessed it was a battalion.

When we reached the fifth tee, the returning battalion had fallen out for a break on the road running alongside the length of the hole. Rod Stark and I both hit bad drives to the right in the trees next to the hole. As we searched for the errant balls, the troops began to shout and point to where our balls had landed. When we hit out, the troops cheered (perhaps a little derisively with my bad recovery).

I recalled troops from my days on amphibious ships. They were similar: young men with a sense of humor, adventuresome, daring, but trained and focused. This battalion actually seemed to be enjoying their early morning hike on Good Friday.

As we drove away from the course and out the gate, I thought of these young men, full of life, headed for yet unknown assignments and most likely into harm’s way.

It gave me a welcomed sense of security to know they will be there when and if we need them.



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A Pocket of Resistance: A few thoughts on Easter

In front of me on notes; in unfinished posts; in photos made in the last several days; with events and situations related to me by friends and family; and from ideas in this somewhat addled brain, are several Democrat “Notes from the Southwest Corner” columns, at least three posts on this web site, and other vehicles i would like to convey such ideas to those i know.

i have a column deadline tomorrow morning. Many of those thoughts are still being considered to make up that column. That will have to wait. i have pushed that deadline before.

Maureen and i have had a noteworthy several days. We drove up to Shadow Mountain Vineyards between Sunshine Summit and Warner Springs and spent a splendid day and night with our close friends, Steve and Maria Frailey. A post is due on that experience. We had Easter dinner with our other close friends, Pete and Nancy Toennies, which included Nancy’s father Ben and their son Dan. It’s another topic to address.

i have good news from close friends. i have had not so good news from close friends.

But for right now i have to share a moment.

Most of you who know me are aware i’m not too much into formal religion. i shall not go into my beliefs about religion and spirituality here. i do not wish anyone to interpret what i will relay next too far.

But this morning as is my habit, i arose early. i walked out of our comfortable bedroom in a wood-framed tent and visited the accommodating two-holer. Then i walked into the “Old Gus” vineyard, the oldest vineyard in San Diego county, originally planted in 1945. i walked up the hill to the well and looked out over the vineyards to the westward mountains and then to the east.

It was well past first light. But the eastward mountains had hidden the sun, which began to rise above the peaks as i watched in the spring cold of the mountain vineyards. i began to walk back but wandered through the lanes of vines. A song came to my head:

I come to the garden alone,
While the dew is still on the roses,
And the voice I hear, falling on my ear,
The Son of God discloses.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

It was one of my favorite spirituals, one of those we would sing at the Sunday evening service at the First Methodist Church in Lebanon, the services featuring the men’s choir. i could not remember the other verses although i have often sang the first verse to myself in my head. It is soothing to me. Having my handy-dandy smart phone in my pocket, i looked up the other two verses and read them out loud to myself:

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me,
Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

I’d stay in the garden with Him,
Tho’ the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go, thro’ the voice of woe,
His voice to me is calling.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own,
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

It occurred to me it was Easter Sunday. i had just had my own and very personal sunrise service. My entire world feels a little bit better tonight.

i hope everyone had a wonderful Easter and, at least for a moment, rose above the Easter Bunny, the Easter eggs, the pomp and circumstance of Easter services with Sunday dressing to the nines, the Easter brunch, and all of the other pastimes to have a quiet moment like i experienced in my sunrise service in the garden alone.shadow_mountain-easter-vineyard


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