Saturday, May 16, 2009

Flying Family Trip - May

Dear Family and Friends:
We had planned a Tuzigoot trip to Vancouver, leaving around May 14, returning around July 1. Before that, though, we decided to take a flying trip mostly east to see family. That's what this posting is about. During that flying trip our Vancouver plans changed, so we're still here in Cedar Crest on May 16 as this is written. Here's the fascinating tale.

I finished teaching my class at Sandia Labs April 30 (Th.) and we departed May 1. Plan was to visit Mike in Raleigh, Mandi in Nashville, and Mom and my sisters, Connie and Verla, in Edmond, OK. Would also attend an alumni banquet for Northern Oklahoma College, in Tonkawa, then fly to Denver to see Jeff. We'd get home Sunday, May 10, then spend a few days packing and preparing Tuzigoot for her first visit to Canada.

The ten days of travel went as planned, but during the trip we learned that Heidi was scheduled for nose surgery for May 27, which is when we were planning to be in Vancouver (I have a conference to go to there). She's having her septum un-deviated (a front-end alignment) and we hear that can lead to a week or so of pain. So, we decided, Susie will go stay with her and I'll fly to V for the conference. Then sometime in the second week of June, we'll hit the Tuzigoot Trail. So, this is a Tuzigoot-related report. More about the June-July trip later.

In Raleigh, we wanted to see one of grandson, Jason's, soccer games. Did that, got the picture.

Jason played a bit of goalie that day and here he is launching a goal kick.

Which leads in to the big story which was today's game. The score was tied, time running out. Jason had the ball (this report phoned in by Jason and Mike, combined), he faked neatly around a defender who then tried to catch him from behind but clearly tripped him. Referee called it. Free kick and Coach Mike said, You take it, Jason. Jason was in pain, bleeding from the fall after being tripped. But he stepped up. Kicked the ball mightily, with a wicked bend it like Beckham curve. It soared over the defenders, then over the goalie, and curled into the upper right corner of the net. G-O-O-O-AL! Ref blew the whistle: Game over. Storybook ending, last game of the season.

Back to the trip. We flew to Nashville Sun. evening. Had two pretty relaxed days at Mandi and Paul's. We did find a couple of neat, out-of-the-way places to eat and enjoyed those. I had told Mandi that some really good catfish was my G-O-O-AL and we found some. Sorry, no pictures on this trip, but here's a picture from a year ago when Mandi, Paul, and Heidi visited us in artichoke country, CA.

Flew to OKC, by way of KC, early Wednesday, arriving around noon. For something different (cheaper) I selected an Edmond motel we hadn't stayed at before. Had lunch, checked in. Not good (Susie quickly pointed out.) Run down and sorta dirty. Susie had a hair-do appt. She wasn't demanding, but sweetly suggested I might try to find another motel while she was at her appt. (stylist is Lee Ann, nephew Marcus's wife). So, I went back and checked out, then went to the Sleep Inn where we usually stay, found they had a room available - at about the same rate as the dump (who'd a guessed it)! - and checked us in there. Clean and attractive room and premises and, the mark of excellence I look for, a waffle-maker for breakfast.

Late afternoon we went to Connie's where Verla soon joined us. The two of them had fixed up a meal that we took to Mom's assisted living home where we celebrated both Mother's Day and Mom's birthday, which is May 22 - she'll be 88. Mom's memory is not good. She says she's glad to see me, but I'm not sure she knows who I am. However, when Verla got out her guitar and started singing some gospel songs, Mom joined right in, ending each verse with Amen!. Pretty amazing. One of the attendants came in and got this group photo.

Thursday was Tonkawa day. I'm planning to establish a Verlin and Bonnie Easterling Scholarship at Northern OK and I had a morning meeting with the Alumni Director to learn how to go about it. (In case anybody reading this doesn't know my family history, my Dad was president of Northern Oklahoma Junior College (as it was known then) from 1953-65.)

The college president joined us and after the meeting gave us a one-hour tour of part of the campus. He's an enthusiastic guy and was glad to have this link to the college's ancient past, me, on campus. Lots of new buildings and new programs. NOC now has branch campuses in Enid and Stillwater and all seem to be doing well. The Stillwater campus is in essence a prep school for students wanting to get into OSU. The Junior was dropped from the school's name several years ago, because they were the only JUCO in OK that was blatantly called "Junior." They still are a two-year college. One new program is nursing. The pres showed us the nursing school's lab (in a very nice benefactor-supplied new building) where they have mannequin (and womannequin) patients capable of almost any symptom, including pregnancy. The school's centennial was in 2001 and the Alumni Director gave us a book commemorating the event. It has a nice chapter, aptly titled The Promotional Years, about my Dad's tenure.

Classmate Joe Brining prepared lunch for us at his home/insurance agency and had invited several classmates over. Had a great time. We're the class of '60, so next year is our Big Five-Oh anniversary and we're starting to plan the occasion. Here's a couple of old guys who claim to be classmates of mine. Could be.

Joe, who knows everybody in town and then some, made a call and got the OK for Susie and me to visit what used to be the college president's home. Here's a picture. It's where I lived from 6th to 12th grade. A new president's home was built about the time I left for OSU.

Had a nice visit with the Simpsons, who live there now, and they let us roam at will. The house is well preserved and even is still operating on its original furnace. Central air has been added. We wonder how we could have lived without it, but, I used to say, in Oklahoma it's a dry heat. Ha!
Thursday night was the NOC Alumni Reunion banquet and Hall of Fame induction. I don't count myself an alumnus since I didn't graduate from there. Both my dad and I regretted that, but because I took some math classes at the college during my senior HS year, after my NOC freshman year I was ready to move on to OSU. Incidentally, a highlight of my year at NOC was attending the Kennedy inauguration in Jan. 1961. My dad, who liked to hobnob with the state's politicians, had wangled an invitation for the college's girl's drill team to march in the parade. Took a school bus and a couple of cars to DC. I drove one car (with sponsors, not girls for passengers). Big snow storm and bitter cold that year, as you may recall. We spent a very long two days getting across WV and PA en route, icy roads and other misery. I remember one sponsor saying, Can't you make it warmer back here! We avoided the ditches, but had some long delays waiting for accidents to be cleared so traffic could move.
The three inductees were not people I knew, or would have known, but their stories made us feel good about the college. One came to NOC as an 'adult-learner,' got a nursing degree and became a leader in the nursing profession in OK. Another came because he wanted to be a sports writer and Northern told him you can be our sports editor as a freshman. At OU, his alternative, he figured he wouldn't get to write for the paper until after two years on the bench. He's now the editor of the Daily Oklahoman, the state's major paper. The third came because she got a debate scholarship and having a scholarship was the only way she could go to college. She's now a very successful and nationally-recognized lawyer in Tulsa, specializing in Title IX (women's sports) issues. She was particularly moving in describing what Northern meant to her. One of her heroes was Melvin Korn, a teacher and family friend that my dad hired.
So that's my stroll down memory lane.
The next day, if it's Friday it must be Denver, we flew to see Jeff E. and family: Valerie and Malia. The hardest part was getting away from the Denver airport. We had an Advantage (cheap) rental car. Advantage was bought by Hertz the day before, we heard, and things were not running smoothly. It was 20 minutes before the shuttle bus picked us up, then at the rental desk it took another hour (!) to do the paperwork. New software and apparently new personnel, and not enough of them. Then, at the Don't Back Up, Severe Tire Damage exit the attendant said, You've got the wrong car. You need to go back to the office to get it corrected. NO WAY, I say. You call them up and have them correct it. We've been here an hour already. I'm NOT going back in that office! I don't think he called, but he scribbled something on the contract and let us go. I think it was the frothing at the mouth that unsettled him.
Jeff and Valerie are planning to move into a larger house, one big enough for two China dolls, so they're fixing their house up for sale. So, we painted much of the weekend. Susie's job was to let Malia entertain her. A fine time was had by all.
Saturday morning before we started painting we went with Malia and Jeff to a class in Chinese run by their adoption agency. That was quite a scene, but, unfortunately, I forgot to take my camera and I just now remembered that I could have used my cell phone. Oh, well. About a half-dozen kids Malia's age, learning colors, numbers, and vegetables in Chinese, singing songs, and making Mother's Day gifts.
Caught a late afternoon flight home on Sunday. No glitches checking in the car -- they were probably thankful for every car that was returned. We were the last stand-bys on the plane and we sat there several minutes waiting for passengers transferring from another flight. Maybe a half-dozen people came on board. Oh, no, we thought. We're going to get bumped, but Southwest had counted correctly, so we stayed. Thank you, Mandi. Would have had about a four-hour wait for the next flight.

Glad, then, to get home for a leisurely week, rather than having to hustle and prepare for a Tuzigoot trip to Vancouver. That trip will start in early June, whenever Heidi can discharge Susie from her nursing duties, and we'll head first for Illinois, where granddaughter Kaci is playing the lead role in a summer theater production of Grease! From there we'll head for Aberdeen, SD, to see Jeff and Valerie H. and their farm. Then we'll wander across Montana, go to Glacier National Park, see some Idaho, taking our time. Maybe we'll make it to Vancouver, or the Washington-Oregon coast, maybe not. We'll get home in late July. You'll want to be sure to check this blog for new posts in that period.
(I've noticed that if Google thinks your blog has run too long, it will quit putting in paragraph breaks. I won't fight them, but just thought you should know.)
Until then.
Susie and Rob