Wednesday, August 30, 2006

It's been nearly a year since Candace, our two dogs and I pulled the trailer into Bird City Kansas to visit her Aunt Dolly (sister to Candace's dad Buz), Uncle Bill, and an array of cousins. There's like only 80 people in Bird City. It has a main street, a few businesses and a lot of buildings that are vacant as a reminder of things past. Bird City got its name as it once was the bird seed capital of the USA. In Bird City they still make those things that you hang that are bird seed bound together to make a bell or a ball . .. things like that.

We parked the fifth wheel at a motel just off of the main highway. It had RV hookups (water, sewer, electric, cable tv) so we were pretty well set for the three nights that we were in Bird City. One night the wind blew so hard . . . I had heard of how really fierce the prairie wind can be . . . that it shook and shook the trailer. Honestly, I think that the wind moved the trailer a few inches one way or another. If someone ever mentioned prairie wind to you as being strong, believe it!

A while back Uncle Bill bought one of the old buildings on Main Street that used to house the local pool hall. It's a totally cool place that now houses all of Uncle Bill's stuff . . stuff that he has collected over the years. Any part that you would ever need, any screw, nut or bolt, any tool . . . well, Uncle Bill has it in his building. Parked inside the building are two vintage BMW motorcycles. In their younger days both Uncle Bill and Aunt Dolly would ride their bikes all over the country. What guy wouldn't love to have a whole building for nothing but their stuff? And what guy wouldn't want a whole building just to himself? Think of the peace and quiet.

Uncle Bill is like 91. And like most other 91 year old guys Uncle Bill has a problem talking and driving at the same time (I think that I'm getting there). Uncle Bill's car, while he's talking and driving has a tendency to lean go right. I had to remind him a couple of times about the car heading off into right field and without comment, Uncle Bill would get it off of the shoulder and back on track. He drives an old Honda and was he ever proud of the fact that it was functioning on only 4 or 5 of the 6 cylinders as one or two of them had long since died. Judging by the noises the Honda made, Uncle Bill was right in his assessment of the Honda. Uncle Bill often repeated that with only 4 or 5 cylinders working, that the Honda's gas mileage was outstanding. . . it was something like 35 miles per gallon.

After taking two of three trips around Bird City with Uncle Bill, it was my turn to drive so all of us piled into my Ford truck and headed off to a town about 40 miles away. Once we got there, Uncle Bill did a few things while Candace and Aunt Dolly did some shopping. We had lunch and then headed home. On the way home I thought that I'd see if Uncle Bill would correct my driving as I corrected his. I had driven 85 miles an hour down a straight Kansas road for about 15 minutes when Uncle Bill leaned over and squinted at the Ford's speedometer. "Is that 85?", said Uncle Bill. "Yup!", I replied. Sitting back in his seat and squirming just a bit Uncle Bill said, "I didn't think these new trucks would go that fast." "I can go faster", I said, getting ready to push down on the accelerator even more. "No, that's okay, let's keep going where we're going", Uncle Bill replied. As I laughed to myself I slowed the Ford down to a more leisurely pace as we headed north towards Bird City.

I like Bird City. You can a home for like fifty cents. Homes in Bird City are that cheap. Okay, they're like $50,000 for a nice 2 bedroom, two bath house on city lot. But getting to Bird City and living there would be a problem. It's like 2,600 miles away from where we live in California with the closest airport in Denver. And then there's the praire wind and all of the snow in the winter that you'd have to put up with.

Having been born in the midwest I'd live in Bird City in heartbeat but if I did I'd be without a wife. You can take the girl out of California (albeit temporary) but you can't take the California out of the girl. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 28, 2006

Today is picture day in the preschool that Grace attends. She spent the night with daddy (mommy went to a Def Leopard Concert). Here she is with daddy getting ready to go to school, all dolled up for her picture to be taken.
Grace loves having her picture taken, can't you tell?
And Grace also likes to clown around in the bathtub, like putting soap beards on her face, then calling for papa or grammy to come see what she's done. Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Yes, that would be this Watson at the dedication of the gym in my name. With me is the man who designed the gymnasium, Dan Rossetto.

It's a 10,000 square foot gym and has every bell and whistle the school could afford. Why name the gym after me? You could safely say that if it were not for my being so damned stubborn and the fact that I rarely take no for an answer that this project would have never happened. Under my care a local school bond was put on the ballot and passed by 8 votes when other school construction bond initiatives were failing in other school districts throughout California. And then there was the state hardship construction grant that I watched over as it went through the machinery of the State Allocation Board/Office of Public School Construction and which was eventually approved (after much bickering and back and forth correspondence) to assist in building this complex in a time when the state was very tight fisted with their construction money. All in all, the project (including a complete middle school building) ran upwards of $6.2 million.

Start to finish, complete with the planning phase, the project took over 9 years to complete. As they say, Rome was not built in a day and neither was the Grant Middle School and the Watson Gymnasium. It was a tough process, one that just about wore me out but in the end it was well worth my effort. I am very proud of what now stands at Grant School.
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Friday, August 25, 2006

Life is a bowl of strawberries!
Today has been a wonderful day, a day of joy, a day of reflection and certainly a day of gratitude.

Why? A CT scan taken of Candace's sinus area above her left eye last yesterday afternoon (labeled as being a Stealth CT scan) revealed that the mass previously shown on earlier scans (thought to be inverted papilloma & popping up for the 6th time) was no longer there. Her surgery scheduled for this morning cancelled and Candace put back on an every four weeks exam schedule. Whooopeeee!

So yes, today has been a day of all those things written above and oh yes, a day of immense relief. Life is good. Now we can make plans to travel without having to worry about the effects of what could have been surgery perfomed today.

As I drove back from Sacramento this afternoon, the last scene of the film American Beauty kept running through my head. This particular scene is right after Kevin Spacey's character is killed off. Kevin, whose character narrates throughout the film, comments on how he feels about that.

"I guess I could be pretty pissed off about what happened to me ... but it's hard to stay mad when there's so much beauty in the world. Sometimes I feel like I'm seeing it all at once, and it's too much. My heart fills up like a balloon that's about to burst ...

And then I remember ... to relax, and not try to hold on to it. And then it flows through me like rain. And I can't feel anything but gratitude for every single moment of my stupid little life. You have no idea what I'm talking about, I'm sure. Don't worry ... you will someday."

In the Watson house, our hearts are filled with the beauty of the world and with gratitude. Live everyday to its fullest.

P.S. The picture was taken just before a special family dinner at the Watson household in April. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


When I was growing up, dogs were dogs and they were treated like dogs. How should be dogs treated? Well, mostly they sleep outside or in the garage, eat table scraps, learn to bark at strangers, and if they bite anyone, they're sent to Uncle Ed's ranch to live out the rest of their years.

We had a few dogs while I was growing up, Duffy, Topsy (who went to my grandmother's house when I became negligent in picking up her scat), Bitsy and Tirzah. They lived a dog's life.

As my parents got on in life, they had three more dogs at various times. Kimba, Rags and Dough-gee. It was always to my amazement that they let the dogs do what my brother and I couldn't do in the house. Like getting up on the couch (equivalent to putting your feet up on the couch with your shoes on or being really dirty and sitting on the couch). Or sleeping on or in mom and dad's bed (something as kids we were never allowed to do). And how about being allowed to kiss dad on the lips. I well remember the last time I did that and was told that I was too old to kiss dad that way. Each of the dogs got outstanding medical care and if I asked my brother, he would most likely agree that the care that we got growing up paled in comparison.

Candace couldn't stand to be around the family dogs. They jumped up on her, smelled her crotch and shed hairs all over her clothes. So, we had cats (and that's a whole 'nother story) instead of dogs. The kids liked cats so this arrangement in lieu of having a dog worked out well.

After swearing for so many years that we would never have a dog, along came Jilli. It was by chance one day that I was visiting the school office and the father of one of our students was there holding an 8 week old Pomeranian puppy. She was black in color and she was so cute that she took my heart away. The man holding the puppy gave me the telephone number of the breeder. I made the call and was told that they had one female puppy left. When I arrived at the breeder's home I was shown where the last puppy was. There was the last female puppy, laying on her tummy, face between her paws and taking everything in with her big chocolate colored eyes.

I was just as taken with this puppy as I was with the one in the office. Candace was away on business so I waited until she came home to announced, "I have a surprise for you." Not knowing what the surprise was, we drove over to the breeders. Long story short, Candace would not leave without the puppy. We bought the puppy but the breeder would not allow us to take her unti she had a chance to check out our home. She wanted nothing but the best for her puppies.

We picked out some long name that include Jillianna in it to satify registration requirements with the AKC.

For a while Jilli slept down stairs in her kennel surrounded by a little metal fence to keep her contained. Before we turned the lights out each night, we'd read in bed, watch a little television and of course have Jilli on the bed. When it was time for lights out one of us would take her downstairs and put her to bed. Before long, Jilli began protesting when she was put to bed - just like a toddler protests. She would bark and bark. During one of these fits we put her back in bed with us and that was the end of it.

Jilli has been a bedpartner for more than 7 years. Like mom and dad, this is something we would have never allowed our kids to do. She usually sleeps like pack animals do, cuddled up next to another pup in the litter (that would be me) or on top of the pack of pups (that would also be me). There are nights when I sleep on my stomach and then when I attempt to turn over I get stopped dead in my tracks because the dog is inbetween my legs, sleeping on top of the blanket which firmly pins me in position. Sometimes I think that I'm nuts to put up with this. Okay, I'm nuts.

Jilli still has fits, especially when I walk out the door and get into the truck without taking her along. She barks and barks and barks at me. Or if I won't play ball with her I get barked at. I sometimes wonder what she's saying to me when she barks like that. I can only guess.

The two dogs, Jilli and Zoe (in the picture - larger dog is Jilli) are like two good friends who love us unconditionally. Jilli has been with us during the times when our parents passed away. She was great comfort not only to Candace and I but to our kids as well. Both dogs are now like family - and right up there in our hearts right along with our kids. Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

David Reineke - Air Force Buddy
This picture is of old Air Force buddy Dave Reineke taken last September (2005) in a restaurant in his home town of Shawano Wisconsin. We hadn't seen each other since 1966.Dave and I lived off base in an apartment in Sault Ste. Marie Michigan which was 20 minutes from Kincheloe AFB (see the next picture) with another friend, Ken Van Alstyne or "Van".

Ours was only a two bedroom apartment but we had it worked out that when Dave worked nights on the B-52's Van was home and vice versa. Once in a while the wires got crossed and one of them slept on the couch. Since I was home every night (I worked a day job in squadron administration with the commander) I had my own bedroom. There were a lot of parties. Lots. When I wasn't a party, Van was having a party. When Van wasn't home, Dave was home having a party. Lots of friends from the air base who lived in the barracks would always be at our place. They would bring women with them. Not that we needed women because there were always lots of females around our house. And when we got tired of being in the house, all of us would pile in a car and drive down to the North View Lounge. It overlooked the Soo Locks and was really a nice place. The North View had live music 4 nights a week. You could usually find 2 or 3 of us with our other friends on any of those nights until 2 in the morning rocking out. All three of us really had a heck of a lot of fun.

Our apartment: Ours were the first four windows on the top floor. My bedroom was the first window on the left, Dave and Van's the window on the right. The living room window is to the right of the telephone pole, and the bathroom, which we shared with another friend (Mike Celecio from San Diego who owned a 1963 Corvette - that's a whole other story) who lived in the second upstairs apartment.

Dave was sent to England on temporary duty in the spring of 1965. It had something to do with Viet Nam as lots of guys from our squadron were always going places overseas that was related to the war. So, while Dave was gone, Van and I had more parties. Well, while Dave was gone all of us were evicted by the owner of the apartment for . . . HELLO?! too many parties! The problem came up with what to do with Dave's stuff. So being the geniuses we thought that we were at the time, Van and I took all of Dave's clothes and "stuff" and piled it into his 1957 Chevy that was parked outside the apartment.

Van moved back to the barracks and I found another place to live by myself.

Later in the month poor Dave came home from England late one night expecting to get a warm bed, a cool beer from the refrigerator and something to eat from the cupboard. Instead all Dave got was a car filled with all of his worldly possessions.This irritated Dave to no end. And to add salt to the wound, Dave wanted money back for the food that was in the apartment. Well, Van and I had already spent the money for food which I guess was split between us and eaten long before Dave got home. We were broke and had no money to give Dave. So poor Dave, who also had no money, had to eek out the rest of the month by eating where someone on base would give him a meal or borrowing money for food until he was paid.

To this day, Dave has not forgotten coming home to a carload of his belongings, that he had no where to stay and that he came home from England with no money to eat with. I think Dave blames Van for his plight at that time more than he blames me. Most likely, I was as guilty as Van. That said, Candace and I bought Dave, his wife and his daughter dinner on a night when they expected to "treat" the Watsons. After all of these years, I think Dave Reineke and I are finally square. And you're not going to believe this: After dinner that night with our wives and his daughter, Dave wanted just the two of us to stay out all night drinking and shooting pool. I declined Dave's invitation. Been there, done that and don't want to do that again!

I think next time Candace and I visit Wisconsin that I'll look in on old Dave again. Maybe I can persuade him to drive to Milwaukee with me to visit Van. Now wouldn't that be something? I wonder who would buy dinner? :)

Dave also vividly remembers something else . . . that I could do something with flatulence and a lighter. I won't go into details . . . LOL. Suffice to say that with all of the wild times during this period of my life, I am truly lucky to be here.

Oh yes, Dave became a school psychologist and recently retired after a career of 30 some years in the public school system in Wisconsin. I thought that it was strange, knowing Dave so well back then, that he would ever aspire to be something like a school psychologist. But then, Dave probably also thought that it was weird, knowing me as he did back then, that the last thing that I would ever become was a school district superintendent. I guess this is what makes the world go 'round. Posted by Picasa

Monday, August 21, 2006

October 2005: We're camped in a city owned park in Ashland, right on Lake Superior. Now this is camping: Satellite TV, big screen TV, microwave oven, heating/air conditioning, all the beer, red meat I can eat, and of course, my little family. Oh, did I mentioned lots of beer to drink?

I'd like to get back on the road again but several things are holding the Watson family up: Candace's next surgery (this coming Friday) and these damned diesel prices ($3.34 a gallon this past Saturday).

We just have to think that this will be the last surgery for Candace for after all, six of them . . . isn't that enough? And diesel prices are not going to come down. So, the next best thing would be to fly off somewhere. Where would that be? I think that we'll be flying off to Hawaii sometime in September or October. These months are definitely off months for the tourist trade and we're bound to find some bargains. It's been a while since we've visited Hawaii and both Candace and I feel that we're due for another visit.

Today is the first day of school for all of the children in Shasta county. If mom were still alive I would have already received a telephone call from her this morning with her singing "School Days". Now that I'm out of the education business, it's nice to relax this morning and think about other things other than running a school district. This retired thing is starting to grow on me. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Ashland Wisconsin, this is where you can find these fine murals on the brick walls of a few of their downtown buildings. Aren't they absolutely stunning? I don't think that you find anything like these murals anywhere.

I wish that I had asked if the murals were likenesses of former residents or if there were stories behind each mural.

During our stay at Ashland, we camped in a city park that had RV connections. The campground was right on Lake Superior and it cost a grand total of $6 a night. I could throw a rock out of the back window of the 5th wheel and it would land in the lake: We were that close.

One of the best bargains on our trip. We stayed three nights and had dinner on two of those nights at a wonderful restaurant. It was one of the best and one of the reasons for us to stay for as long as we did.

I'd live in Ashland but can well imagine how very cold it gets there in the winter as the north wind blows off of Lake Superior. As they say, there's no place like home.

 Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 19, 2006


The pictures and designs on the front of the Corn Palace, if you check out the pictures closely, are created by using corn cobs and corn husks.

The design is changed every year just after the harvest. Volunteers assist in taking down one set of corn cobs and husks and replacing them accordingly with the new design. The Palace has been around since 1908 as I recall. That's a lot of corn.

Last October Candace and I took time on a Sunday morning to tour the Palace. We had breakfast before it opened at a little "dive" around the corner. It must have been "the place" in Mitchell for locals to eat on Sunday before or after church as it became very crowded in a very short period of time.

Unlike California, restaurants in South Dakota allow their patrons to smoke anywhere they like to smoke. Gag! Inhaling smoke during a meal is not my idea of fine dining. Smoking at the restaurant reminded me of how spoiled we are in California and how much I appreciate laws that protect non-smokers from second hand smoke. Statistics say that less than 20% of the population smoke cigarettes. It's amazing that the minority still rules in the Midwest and smokers can do their thing anywhere they damn well please. I hate smokers. Posted by Picasa
There's Something About Redheads
There's something about redheaded females that I've always loved. Here's a great example of that statement, two very prominent females in my life, wife Candace and grand daughter Grace Helen: Redheads extrodinare!

Grace has a neck scarf wrapped around her that has an animal at the end that she just loves to pieces. It was a gift from me to her a Christmas or two ago.

This picture definitely captures the moment, especially in how Candace feels about Grace. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Corner of Third and Railroad Streets

This is where Pop, Grandma, Mom and her two sisters (Phyllis and Shirley) spent most of their growing up years. I also spent the first two and half years of my life here, too. For reasons that I still don't understand, my dear old father and mother parted company before I was born. To this day, I have never met the man who I should call father.

Living on Third Street was fun and full of lots and lots of attention for me. While mom was working days at the local bank, I was cared for by not only my grandmother but two adoring high school age aunts. Who could ask for more?

This is the house where I was potty trained by the time I was one year of age. That still must hold some kind of record. I remember being placed on the potty chair for extended periods of time (and until I did my business) and yelling out periodically to who ever could hear me, "Can I get off now?!" For whoever was home, this was one hell of a baby sitting device. For while, I surely had to have spent half of my waking hours on the potty.

There is one day that sticks in my memory during the time mom and I lived on Third Street. On this day I somewhere in the upstairs of our home when a loud commotion broke out downstairs. There was lots of yelling, screaming, hollering . . . all joyous but nevertheless it really scared me. Never one to miss anything that happened in the house, I ran downstairs to see what was happening. My mom, her sisters, grandma and Pop were all dancing around the house, whooping, hollering like they were nuts. I'd never seen them act this way before.

Being less than 3 feet tall it took a while to get my mom's attention. The usual pulling at her skirt wasn't working this time. Sensing that I was coming a bit unraveled because of the noise, mom stopped what she was doing, leaned down to me and in response to my question of "What's wrong?" said simply, "The war is over". That day would have been August 14th, 1945: Victory in Japan Day. It's a day that I'll never forget. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

During our Sept/Oct RV adventure we spent time in South Dakota. The trip would not have been complete without a visit to Mt. Rushmore. Even though Candace and I had seen the momument several times, it was nonetheless thrilling to stand beneath it once more. Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 13, 2006

CRATER LAKE! Don't you just love this picture? And this day wasn't even a good one for pictures. The piece of land to the right is Wizard Island. There's a boat dock down a steep path to the lake. It's like an 18 degree slope and a real effort to climb back up to the rim of the lake. Anyway, the boat is operated by the Forestry Service and for a fee takes riders around the lake. We did this once and were not sorry as the beauty from lake level is stunning.
Crater Lake has snow until the middle of July. We once visited in late June and there were 7 foot high snow banks alongside the road into the park. If you ever get the chance, visit Crater Lake.  Posted by Picasa

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Candace is scoping out the pictures in her Canon digital camera. We're at Diamond Lake sitting on the beach on the west side of the lake. How wonderful it would be to own one of the summer cabins on the west end of the lake. I checked the temperature at Diamond Lake this morning. At 6:30 a.m. it was 33 degrees. For August 12th that's pretty chilly compared to Redding's 68 degrees this morning. This would have been a perfect day to climb Mt. Thielsen. Maybe next year. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

This is son Max and wife Candace at our home in Redding during his last visit to the USA at the end of March. Max is living and working in Seoul Korea (who would have ever thunked it?), has a Korean girl friend and appears to be most content to remain in that country indefinitely.

We miss Max and wish that he lived closer to us. But that's life and living life on life's terms. As the Rolling Stones once sang, "You Can't Always Get What You Want".

Candace and I may meet Max and his lady friend sometime in October either in Europe or in Hawaii. Now wouldn't that be fun?

I like it when I tell Max a joke and he replies with, "Dad, that's so juvenile!" Now, that would be a Bob thing, wouldn't it? Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Life Can Turn On A Dime - And It Does

The husband of a friend died Saturday in an automobile accident. For some reason, while returning from Hot August Nights in Reno (driving his totally hot Dodge Charger - painted orange) he swerved into the lane of on-coming traffic. That was pretty much it and once again proving that Life Does Turn On A Dime.

I'd like to think that we will all have a peaceful final resting place whether it be 6 feet under or scattered in a place like on top of Mt. Thielsen (pictured here).

Aaron: May you rest in peace.

Monday, August 07, 2006

On the beach at Brookings Oregon

This is what I do best (well, there are other things, too!) and something I enjoy. There's nothing like walking the beach on a warm day with two of my very best friends, Zoe and Jilli.

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Whiskeytown Lake, Very Northern California, United States