Saturday, December 31, 2011

Winding down 2011.....Here comes 2012 part #4....year of the Grandson

As the final hours of 2011 wind down, the weather continues to be unseasonable warm and wet....not much snow, probably less than an inch thus far this season, but plenty of rain...one look at the end of our driveway, torn to Hell by trucks backing across it, attests to that. It is a muddy mess....with broken street parts and deep holes in the gravel....not a pretty site.

Yesterday, after officiating four games the day before, I finished off the basketball week with a single freshman boys contest at Minster....I am now off until Tuesday.  We will head to Centerville tomorrow to visit with Hal, Lisa, and the new Grandson, Kasyn, who turned 5 weeks old on Thursday.  Monday, I will head to northern Indiana to eat, drink, and watch bowl games at Rick's....an event usually held on New Year's Day...but with the Holiday and Bowl Games being celebrated on January 2nd this year, we will have moved it.  Meanwhile the Cincinnati Bengals try to nail down a playoff spot tomorrow hosting Baltimore...it won't be easy, but unexpectedly, the Bengals, with 9 wins, at least are in the hunt...a win, they are in.

The final months of 2011, and the new Grandson____

After the Vietnam Reunions and football officiating of September and October, November came a calling, and with it, we waited on the arrival of our first grandchild.  Before that however,  Patricia, Anissa, and I, headed for lake country in southeast Wisconsin, for our annual "Thanksgiving" celebration.  These last few years, we have taken to going to Pat's parents place in Oconomowoc, a couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, to celebrate then....thus avoiding the traffic, and possible bad weather travels that come later in November.   Usually snow doesn't arrive in significant amounts until after mid month...and the traffic is considerably less.

We always eat well, both at Bill and Bevs, and there is usually a classic Wisconsin "Fish Fry" on the agenda as well....this year was no exception.  The food, at home, and at a local restaurant, are the highlights of the weekend....this year it was the case again


The weather cooperated and we made it back safe and sound, just in time for my first basketball scrimmage...we also made plans to do the regular Thanksgiving at Hal and Lisa's in Centerville, those plans however, came a cropper, as grandson #1 would arrive on Thanksgiving evening.  Kasyn Timothy Houseworth would arrive just before 9pm on Thanksgiving....big and healthy, he arrive via C-Section weighting 7 pounds 12 oz, and 20.75 inches long....Thanksgiving meals would have to wait.

That birth would be the highlight of 2011 without a doubt....2 weeks later, my niece, Molly and her husband Aaron would celebrate the birth of their second child, and first boy, Luke Patrick, would come in early December and arrive at 9 pounds 10 oz, and just over 21 inches....the two new great-grandsons of my mom, would be on display together on Christmas Eve, at the family get-together.
 
2012_____

I'm not sure what the new year will bring....I do not have a good feeling about the direction of the country, especially if one Barack Obama, the Kenyan Marxist, is re-elected....but unless the Mayan Calender and it's Doomsday prediction is correct, we will ride out what comes, if God decides to keep us around...either way, I will be around for the duration, ranting, bitching, complaining, and reporting, what goes on around my little corner of the world.

That will wrap it up for 2011....have a safe New Year's Eve{I'm sure I will be in the sack by Midnight again this year}....I probably will be back here with photos and stories to begin the beginning of 2012, most likely on Wednesday morning....back later>>>>

Photos-Top/Parents and Grandparents shortly at the birth of Kasyn on Thanksgiving Evening in Kettering, Ohio....Patricia and her 88 year old father, Bill Callies, a WW2 Veteran of the Pacific Theater, at the Golden Mast for our annual Friday Night Fish Fry, Wisconsin Fish Frys are the best, always plenty of and a big variety of baked and deep fried fish, and just about any kind of beer you might want to try...and I always do.  And Cousins Kasyn Houseworth and Luke Sheffler on Christmas Eve.....my grandson and grand nephew, together for the first time.

 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Winding down 2011.....Here comes 2012 part #3/Marathon Man

Marathon Man....

 Four games yesterday, four full basketball games officiated....after games Tuesday and Wednesday, with a wrap up game for the year tonight....yesterday, with two Girls JV games at the Holiday Tournament at Parkway High School, and a full house in the small gym at Wayne Trace for a Junior High Boys double header, I was ready to rest my tired butt and legs, with a couple of cold ones last night... and still feel it this morning.  I won't do that much more...yesterday was an accident, having not have the second set of games posted on-line.  But I got through them, and after a Freshman Boys contest at Minster this afternoon, I can relax over the New Year weekend.

The weather remains mild for late December....a front rolled through this morning about daybreak, and deposited another batch of unwelcome rain...still less than an inch of snow so far on the season...and with each passing day, we get closer to Spring....just 83 days to go!  With this coming year being a Leap Year and all.

2011 in Review, part #3____

As the summer of this year passed into early fall, several milestones occurred.  The highlight, at least for me, in September and October, were the Vietnam reunions, and a chance to see some guys that I had not tossed a drink back in over 40 years.

The first reunion was the annual Howard County Indiana/Kokomo Vietnam Reunion and camp out....4 or 5 thousand campers and hotel staying Vietnam Veterans, family, and friends, get together each mid September, for a chance to tell war stories, down some friendly Moonshine, listen to music, eat, and just have a damn good time.   2011 was my first {it been going on for 30 years or so}, but only spent 24 hours...this time I stayed for 2 nights and 3 days.  In 2012 I plan on driving over the 85 miles for the June mini-reunion, and then again for a longer stay in September.  

September was a full month, in addition to the Kokomo gig, I worked a full set of youth, Junior High, and High School football, both at the JV and Varsity level....I stayed busy, usually working football 6 days a week.  As October approached, the weather stayed "summer-like" and it was indeed perfect as the annual Vietnam Security Police Association Reunion took place from October 5th through 9th....this year Dayton and Wright Patterson AFB was the site, and Patricia and I headed down for most of the activities.

This year was different...in addition to old friends that I had met through VSPA, like Sam Lewis, Dave Ramey, and Jackie Kays....I hooked up with guys like Harry Bevan and Tony Niemotka, who I was stationed with at Nha Trang Air Base in Vietnam in 1969....42 years later, we were still kicking...it was a great reunion.

As October cooled off, I worked one final Varsity game in Football...traveling with a crew that I fill in on, all the way to Ironton, some 225 miles from Celina...to work a game at their classic old semi-pro football stadium, in the rain and mud....that night was the same night as it turns out, that the St. Louis Cardinals topped off their meracules turn around from early season woes to win the World Series....I still hate the Cards!   November would usher in the arrival of our first grandchild, Kasyn, and the holiday season....more on that tomorrow, with a final look at 2011.

back later>>>> 



Below-Members of VSPA from Nha Trang....Sky Cops from Security and Law Enforcement from 1968-1970
 < Sam at Ruth Lewis at the final Banquet on Saturday Night....they left for Virgina shortly after the banquet...Patricia and I headed






From the Top....Pat Houseworth and Harry Bevan at Dayton, and the before shot with me and Harry at Nha Trang in 1969...from Kokomo in September, Houseworth, VSPA photographer, Tony Morris, Sam Lewis, Tom McCandless, and "Sweety Pie"...Beven, Houseworth and Tony Niemotka at the Banquet in Dayton, and Tony in 1969 at the Nha Trang Main Gate,

Seems I've freaked out Blogger with all the photos...so here we go with descriptions of the rest: After the Sam and Ruth Lewis photo, from Dayton we have Doug Davis at the Banquet, Howard Yates with Bagpipes in hand at the Statue Bench Dedication, A portion of the attendees at the park dedication, old Sky Cops, Mike Tillman and Rich Adams, who started the first Dayton Mini Reunion back on 2007, me and old Scott, Ohio Alumi, Bill Marshall....Bill's mom and my Grandma Houseworth were best of friends back in the age of innocents, from the 1940s and 50s....and finally from Kokomo, Sky Cops from Vietnam, Houseworth, McCandless, Lewis, and John Langley, a Tan Son Nhut K9er, who got the VSPA started, John lives in my old hometown of Venice, Florida.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Winding down 2011.....Here comes 2012 part #2

The snow and rain took turns yesterday, but as I headed out to Convoy for a Girls game between the host Crestview team and Hicksville{yes Virginia there really is a town called "Hicksville, Ohio"....}most of the precipitation had ended....just a damp cold had settled in.  On the way home I thought about firing up a hand rolled cigar, but thought again, and decided not to stink up the van or my clothes....it's been at least two months since I had a cigar, which in a good way keeps my stock in the basement in full supply.  Don't smoke often in the winter months...just have not been one of those cold weather outdoor smokers.

Back at 2011____

After the February 5th wedding of Hal and Lisa, we returned home to Ohio to await the reception, which was slated for Dayton/Centerville some two weeks later.  As opposed to the wedding, which was just a family affair, with 15 total, counting bride and groom, in attendance, the reception at the local American Legion would see a "normal" sized crowd....I can't remember exactly how many, but somewhere between 150 and 200 is my guess, but I really wasn't counting.  Considering the bulk of Hal's friends were from Mercer County, it came as no surprise to me that we shut down the "free" part of the bar much earlier than anticipated....this Western Ohio County is well know for it's Catholic Beer Consumption tradition, and the guests did not disappoint.  It didn't matter, they boys from Hal's childhood quickly went into the pay as you go portion, without missing a beat, even the Legion bartenders were impressed.

As the reception put an end to the months of work for the bride and groom, and planning for them and parents, especially the mothers, it also marked the winding down of the long basketball season for me, and we could see the light at the end of the bitter cold and snow filled winter.  Baseball and moderating temperatures were just around the corner, as was the announcement that we would become first time grand parents by year's end. 

March and April came and went...despite much wet weather, I did manage to get most of my scheduled baseball games in...I remember some as bitter cold.  One in particular, at Defiance College, where Garry and I worked was as cold as I can remember in recent years working a game.  Early in the season, the day of the Reds traditional home opener to be exact, we worked the game in 35 degree temperatures, with a northeast wind...Garry was lucky, he was at the plate on this rotation, and got to wear the gear, making his day a bit more bearable than mine....even with the Underall winter clothes, I froze.  By the time I finished the Summer American Legion and ACME season, some cooler weather would have been appreciated.  Things warmed up considerably as the season progressed into June and July.  My spring season didn't see as many tournament games as usual, guess I didn't stroke enough egos of those making the decisions...aka Kiss Enough Ass...but if you know me, you know that will never happen.  

Summer ball, was a different story....working both multiple districts and the State Tournament here in Celina, at Montgomery Field, and also the District American Legion Tournament in Sidney....I stayed busy throughout the Spring and Summer Baseball Season.

Back to early Spring, where we usually have our Easter Dinner at sister Marty's place...{we do the same at Christmas}, it's a good place with enough room for all to move around, eat, and BS.  The newlyweds, Hal and Lisa were there, and at the end of the day, took us out to their car, and presented us with "Grandparent" gifts...announcing that they were expecting around Thanksgiving....on a Father's Day family get together, we found out the sex of the baby on a trip to Cincinnati and a Reds game...it would be a boy.  And as it turned out...Kasyn Timothy Houseworth would be born Thanksgiving evening....more on that later.  

In addition to the "Baby News",  back in March I turned 62, so I would receive a small stipend from Uncle Sam, called Social Security.  Working much of my adult life for the local and state governments{hard to believe with my political leans I know}, my small SS checks each month wouldn't do much, but it would be enough to make the payment with a bit left over for a new vehicle....so in April, Patricia and I purchased a Dodge Nitro for her.  I gave up the ghost and sold my old Jeep Wrangler to the neighbor kid, Derek, and took over Patricia's Mini Van....imagine me, drinking a "soccer mom" type vehicle...well, gotta admit, it is more comfortable than the Jeep.  Also Rick, Clint, and Rick's boys and I went on our annual Michigan Mushroom Hunt in mid May, for me it followed a two year hiatus....the mushroom pickings were slim, but I did manage to meet face to face with a Hog Nose Snake, thinking it was a Michigan Timber Rattler at first.  I got some good photos, before I dropped my camera in the stream, while reaching for a cold beer, from the bag of beers we had cooling....thus ruining it, but not the disk which included the snake photos.  The wet and mushroom-less weekend still was a good time, as it always has been.

We wound down the Summer with a trip to Wisconsin for another wedding, this one for Patricia's nephew...Hal and Lisa, would join us for this final fling of the Summer....more tomorrow as the summer turns into fall.

back later>>>>

Photos-The Mushroom Hunt in Michigan mid May, didn't yield many "rooms", but did give me a chance to get up close and personal with this Hog Nose Snake, which yielded one of my best photos in recent memory.  Turning 62 gave me a little pocket change via Social Security, enough to purchase Patricia a Dodge Nitro, to replace my Jeep and the Intrepid, the Jeep, as much as I hated to depart with it, was sold to Derek the neighbor{bottom photo}  I spent many summer morning at Grand Lake snapping photos of the glorious sunrise above our polluted lake...the lake stinks, but many photo were taken, and many came out excellent....baseball went from March until the end of July, here I am in July working the ACME District at Lima Central Catholic....and in Michigan, in addition to meeting up with the "Snake"...I finally got a chance to meet my cousin "Big Moe" Houseworth...we had talked via phone and e-mails for years, but we finally got to share a beer and a handshake.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Reflecting back on 2011 part #1

A post Christmas white "event" occurred overnight, at least in Celina...south a few miles in Montezuma, the event was rain....north 20 miles towards Van Wert it appears that it was all snow, while we, with a half inch of slushy white snow on the ground, had a mix of rain and snow.  That snow however won't last, rain today, then back to snow tonight, so by tomorrow we may have another dusting of winter.

Back to basketball tonight, and the aging body will work 7 games, 4 of them on Thursday{what???}this week....the four on Thursday might be a mistake, but, I will work two in the AM and two more in the late afternoon, a combination of Girls JV and Boys Junior High games....I will need the New Year and weekend break again.  This morning I awoke with a stiff neck, big time, and despite getting out of the house early, moving around, it refuses to go away....

The week after Christmas and before the new year has usually be reserved on this blog for looking back at the year past....so here we go:

2011....Looking Back part 1

Despite my dire predictions and thoughts about the coming year, 2012, last year, 2011, was a pretty decent year.  Despite my Cholesterol being listed as "High", and the 30 pounds I had lost since the fall of 2009, now being more like 17 pounds...health wise I felt pretty good over most of the year.  I got back into weight lifting, which resulted in some of the gain I am sure....because the diet really wasn't changed much since the previous months.  I also got back into a walking routine, and that added with the 150 to 200 games officiated, has kept me in pretty good condition, at least in my mind, over the past 12 months.  No major injuries working the games, and I have noticed that other minor things, skin infections, etc, have lessened.

2011 began as usual with a trip to Rick's place...but this time it would be the new home on 17 acres in Northeast Indiana, a few miles from their old homestead, where we had celebrated New Year's Day by drinking and eating too much....Rick, Clint, Rick's boys and me, spent New Years Day and that night, eating, drinking, and watching football, smoking some cigars, and generally doing not much else....next week, this time January 2nd, because that's when the bulk of the Bowl Games are played, will, I am guessing, see much of the same.

By the end of January, it was time to begin preparations for the coming marriage of youngest son Hal, and his fiancee' Lisa...they would get married at a resort of sorts in the mountains of West Virginia in February ...but prior to that, there would be a Bachelor Party for Hal on the Ohio River.  First a day at a southern Ohio/Indiana Ski Hill, then to the Kentucky Side of the River, where we would stay....that followed by a night in Cincinnati, where way too much booze was consumed.....however, we all, Hal, me, Sam, Lisa's dad and brothers, and Hal's Celina and Dayton friends, would all survive....a couple of guys got lost, but were found by Sunday afternoon.

Fast forward to West "By God" Virginia, the first weekend in February.....

Hal and Lisa had decided to get married in a private lodge in the mountains near the Great Gorge in central West Virginia.  We had two large lodges, where the families would stay....the wedding would be on a Saturday evening, with the reception back in Dayton two weeks later.  In West Virginia, we would have a pre wedding dinner on Friday night, then the boys and the dads would head for a Ski Hill on Saturday afternoon, with the wedding and dinner to follow...Sunday Lisa's dad Tim and his mate would fix us a Sunday Breakfast Buffet, then everybody but the bride and groom would head for their various homes.....it was an outstanding weekend.

The couple were hoping for some snow for the wedding, but other than the Ski Hills, there was none, at least until we headed home for Ohio, where there was plenty here in the flatlands.  Patricia and I had a rented SUV, which Hal and Lisa had paid for as a Christmas gift....the big Ford worked wonders for the trip.

I came home to finish out the basketball season, and prepare for the beginning of baseball...all-in-all, the winter was bitter cold with plenty of snow.....with the spring thaw, and Easter, we would find out that we would become first time Grandparents.....

more on that tomorrow....back later>>>>

Photos-2011 started off with Hal and Lisa's wedding and reception....here are some from the Wedding in West Virginia and one of me and the boys on the Ohio River for Hal's Bachelor Party in Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati....

Monday, December 26, 2011

Winding down 2011.....Here comes 2012 like a thief in the night....

Now that Christmas is fini' we can look down the road a week and get ready to dive head-on into 2012....a year that IMO may not be that far off the Mayan Predictions.  Not so much as I believe they had super physic powers, but because only a fool would believe that the direction this once great Republic, note once, is taking.  As the last great hope of mankind, the USA has fallen into a heap of misery...not because we are starving or are living in the streets, but simply because as a society we expect too much, too much help from the Government, led by a foreign born interloper and Marxist, named Barry Soetoro, Barack Obama, or whatever the Hell this Kenyan born, Indonesian raised Islamic worshiping bastards real name is.  It is safe to say the majority of the people living in this country are now wards of the state....the freeloader, and government workers of all ilks, and their families are now in the majority.  Those earning a living from work and the Capitalist system are now in the minority.  Toss in 20 million illegals, and you have a recipe for disaster, a disaster of Biblical proportions, that cannot likely be reversed.

So 2011 is ending on a downer....2012 will begin on the same course.....if the likes of Obama and those that follow his lack of leadership are allowed to be re-elected, and in control,the end of the Republic as we know it is a certainty...there will be no turning back from this course....the end times, whether it be the one predicted in The Book of Revelation or the Mayan Calendar cannot be denied for long....it will indeed come, and the people that continue to demand of their government and the taxpayers that make it possible, are, along with the political hacks they elect, 100% to blame.

Those dire predictions aside, 2011 was a great year in retrospect for PRH and his world....so for the next few days of this week we will look back and enjoy those memories, while waiting for the other shoe to drop in 2012, because unless I miss my guess, it will be a disaster, not only for America and her people, but for all of the western World, and the freeloaders that live off the fruits of those that work day in and day out, in this land of last hope.

So, the post Christmas, "legal" Holiday is here....back tomorrow with a beginning look at the year past, and forward to what may indeed be the worst year in any of our lifetimes....

back later>>>>

Photos-As 2011 winds down, I will take a look back at the year in review this week, and a look forward to what I believe will be a year of disastrous consequences, Mayan, Biblical, or something else, if we continue on our current direction.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Ghosts of Christmas Past...part #4....Merry Christmas to All!

Cloudy, but somewhat normal conditions for late December...32 or so, with a high approaching 40 this afternoon...by which time I will be making the hour or so drive to Ottawa-Glandorf High School to work a final basketball double header before Christmas....then off to celebrate the birth of Christ for a few days.  Next Tuesday back at it, before taking another short break for the New Year holiday.  January will be full basketball wise, then in February the lower level games will slow, and both spring and baseball season will be on the horizon.....I am looking forward to it.  Not sick of winter just yet, mind you, but without a doubt, the shorter this cold weather season is, the better.  I picked up another varsity baseball game for the coming season...leaving me with just 3 open dates on my calendar from mid March until tournaments start around May 10th....if it is a dry spring, I will be one busy 63 year old.  I wouldn't have it any other way.

Last night Don, a 33 year veteran basketball official, although a few years younger than me, and I worked a Freshman boys game at Crestview...I have to say it was one of the strangest games I have worked of late.  11-7 Crestview over LCC at the half.  Now mind you these are two good programs, but neither could hit the broad side of a barn it seemed....the second half only got worse for the visiting T-Birds....the final ended up 34-7 Crestview.  Yes, despite being a talented team, LCC did not muster a point in the second half, getting outscored by the Knights 23-0.  The game itself lasted just over an hour, and I was home sipping a cold drink by 7:30.  I have the LCC Freshman squad two more times in the next couple of weeks, at their place, and I'm sure I will see a better brand of roundball.  This afternoon, as mentioned, at O-G, working a 3 man crew, a freshman game against Bowling Green, followed by a JV game of the same schools, which both precede the varsity contest which completes the triple header, I will work the first two.

The Ghosts of Christmas, a final look____

After the Christmases of my childhood and later youth, things became more focused...The kids were that focus.  

Christmas 1979, Patricia, Anissa, me, and the Airedales, Rags and Max, celebrated Anissa's first Christmas at the apartment complex where we lived in Kokomo, Indiana.  Anissa was about 10 months old, I was working as the morning News Anchor at WIOU radio, and Patricia was a waitress at the Kokomo Country Club.  This is one of those, sure the heck doesn't seem like 32 years ago, moments.  For the next few years, as the family grew, we would eventually move back to the Celina area, after a short stop in Dodge City, Kansas, where I played News Director at KGNO Radio...Sam came along in December 1981, a day before our 5th anniversary, so Christmas that year was memorable...as was the following weeks, when by chance the furnace at the old farm house quit on us, while we were both at work....the pipes didn't last long, and while the repairs were taking place, we spent about 3 weeks living at mom's, in that coldest of all winters I can ever remember.  Well coldest in Ohio....because nothing can ever top the winter of 77-78 in northern Wisconsin for cold, and the Air Force winter of 70-71 at Griffiss Air Force Base, where we received upwards of 250 inches of snow that season...the piles along the flight lines didn't melt completely until early July.

For the decade of the 1980s, as the kids were born and grew, we spent each Christmas at the drafty old farm house on Coldwater Creek Road....I cannot imagine a more suitable place to raise the kids....or to celebrate the Christmas seasons of their youth.   The all seem to mix together, those 10 years, I remember then being cold, with vehicles that didn't start at times, just two channels on the TV, because cable didn't come out that far, and where we celebrated not only Christmas, but all four seasons.  It was where Patricia and I changed jobs and careers.  I went from radio program director and cable television news and sports anchor, to Environmental Sanitarian at the local health department, putting my college work to use, and where Patricia, while working two jobs completed her studies at Wright State, traveling to Dayton on many winter nights, thus changing from social worker, to secretary, to finally a school teacher.

Finally we moved into town in 1990, bought the house we currently reside in in 1995, just a block from where we started when I bought the house on North Brandon in 1974....now a days, with the mostly empty nest, we usually have the Christmas Eve family get together at sister Marty's...this year I think there will be 17 of us, including the newest arrivals, Luke and Kasyn.  Then Christmas Day is usually spent at home, with the TV blaring "A Christmas Story" in the background, and after presents are opened, we celebrate with our usual breakfast cassorole meal, followed by a larger Christmas dinner....pretty basic stuff.  We certainly don't indulge with budget busting Christmas gifts...but frankly we never have.  Sure the kids, in their younger days, always go plenty of gifts....perhaps not as expensive as they would like, but always plenty of them.

This year, with the first grandchild Kasyn, he will be the focus for the most part, as will Anissa, even at 32, given her childlike life, she will always be the child around our tree at Christmas, at least as long as we are around to celebrate with her.

That's it, for the look back...and that's it until at least Monday or Tuesday of next week....in the meantime.

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL.........
                                                           

photos- Christmas pasts...Anissa, in her younger days and Christmases...Christmas on Sugar Street in the early 1990s, .Kasyn, the newest Houseworth will have his first Christmas, meanwhile Reagan, seen here on her first Christmas back in 1998, will see her 14th this weekend.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Ghosts of Christmas Past...part #3/Winter Arrives?

Still lots of excess water in the fields, streets, and yards of western Ohio...not to mention the brown muddy water flowing over the banks of the various rivers and streams, full of fresh rains and runoff from the rich soiled fields, some still with corn in them...a late harvesting season for many of the locals.  No White Christmas this year....in fact, after today, it is supposed to be near 40 and sunshine, with lows near 30, through the end of December.

With no games yesterday, I had a couple of errands to attend to.....so early in the afternoon, I headed for Wapakoneta, hometown of moon walker Neil Armstrong, some 20 miles to the east of Celina.  I dropped my 25 year old leather coat off for some repairs.  The worn brown leather is in prime condition, but it needs new cuffs and front zipper.  I've had the coat for many years, but only the past 2 winters have I been able to fit back into it....with years of weight lifting and weight gains putting me at 220 pounds, I gave it to oldest son Sam, when he outgrew it, he gave it back to his shrinking old man.  When I reached the 185 pound mark two years ago, I could fit back into it....but it needed repairs, so my gift to myself this Christmas it to get it back in shape, since I did that to myself.....the coat might as well join me for the duration of life on this earth.

Back at basketball tonight...boys Freshman at Crestview, then tomorrow I head north 55 miles to Ottawa, where the host Titans will play three games....a Freshman Boys contest with Bowling Green, followed by a JV then Varsity games.  I will work the first two games, but with a 3 man crew, the wear and tear should be minimal....unlike 2009 when I did those games with just one other official.  With O-G and their type offense and defense, it was a war on my legs and body....3 man, it should be much easier.  That will end the games until Tuesday of next week when I get back at it....

Christmas Gifts part #3_____

After we left my childhood home in Venice, Florida, in the fall of 1962, for western Ohio, the Christmas memories of those high school days and beyond have become less vivid, with a few notable exceptions.

For instance, from 1963 through 1968, I spent Christmas at the folks home in Montezuma....and frankly the only one I can really recollect is the last one...and that only because I was home on a 5 day leave from Dover AFB, in Delaware.  With little sleep, after working the graveyard shift at Dover, a Air Force buddy of mine, Robin Lippencott, from New Philadelphia, Ohio, and I began our five day Odyssey, driving through the cold, and snowy mountains of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, staying awake on No-Doze, and coffee....I dropped him off some 6 hours later, and drove the last 3 hours on US 30 towards home.  Later Lippencott and I would get our orders from Vietnam at the same time, and spend the two week combat training school at Lackland AFB together in Texas, during the summer of 1969, along with Steve Walsh, before heading our separate ways....although I have talked with Walsh since then, I never did know what happened to Robin....I do however, remember that Christmas leave like it was, well, like it was 43 years ago.  However, the next Christmas, 1969....gotta tell you, as much as my mind remembers from that year in Vietnam...I don't recall Christmas at all.  I tell myself I was in Nha Trang, having received my orders to transfer to Tan Son Nhut {Saigon} Air Base...and my orders say I left on 27 December 69.  I do remember New Year's Eve working the perimeter bunker in Echo Sector of TSN....but amazing as it might sound, I do not recall Christmas 1969 in Vietnam, at all.

Fast forward to 1972....this one is etched in my mind forever.  I was in upstate New York, when I received a call from older brother Mike, informing me that our dad, Stan Houseworth, had died that Christmas Eve night....dad had turned 55 just two weeks before, but somehow he seemed much older.  A massive heart attack had taken him, while he sat with my youngest sister Kelly, then 10, and mom at home.  It occurred shortly after his favorite team, the Miami Dolphins had defeated the Cleveland Browns, on the way to Miami's perfect season.  Christmas was spent that year, flying home from Syracuse, the rest pretty much a blur.  Christmas would not be the same for many years after that.  Times change however, and now days we have the family get-together at sister Marty's house on Christmas Eve, this year, 17 of us, including the new boys in the family, Kasyn and Luke, who will be having their first Christmases...of course they won't remember it, being one month and 2 weeks old respectively...but we will enjoy it for them.

The next Christmas I remember after the tragedy of 72 was the melancholy one that followed in 1973, where, back in Ohio, I spent it at mom's place alone...I think!  Mom and Kelly if I recall were in Florida on Vacation, and I was on my own back in Ohio.  I had met Patricia by that time, but we were not a couple, and would not be for awhile after that.  It did give me time to reflect on the previous years....and decide which way I wanted my life to go as I went forward....it was indeed a good time, those next few years would be some of the best in my life, but some of the wildest as well, and I cannot imagine trying to live those years from 1973 through 1976 again, and still escaping with my life on a do over.

As the 1976 Christmas season moved into view, I was in my final year at Hocking Technical College, and commuting back and forth from Nelsonville to Celina, on most weekends.  Patricia and I had decided to get married that winter in her hometown of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  December 18th was the date, a week before Christmas in Wisconsin?  That always is a "iffy" time in the northlands...but it worked out, along with best friend and best man Rick Pearson, we headed up through Chicago and past Milwaukee to her dad and step mom Bev's place.  The weather, someone was looking over us, was balmy for mid to late December, and was in the 60s....we spent a one day "Honeymoon" at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee, then headed back to Ohio, with Rick in tow.....through a snow storm no less....but we made it safe and sound.  From there we spent our first Christmas as a married couple together at our house on North Brandon....and despite all the moves and states lived in over the years, we live just a block from that house today.

The Christmas seasons have come and gone, since we were married 35 years ago this past week...and most, although some memories have faded, were filled with Airedales and kids....and after all, while it is the birth of Christ we should celebrate, Kids and gifts are what we are about on Christmas, and least that has been ingrained in our world, for better or worse.   More on the kids and those Christmases past tomorrow.


back later>>>>

Photos-top/Me, sometime around the Christmas of 1980, with a glass of something in my one hand, and perhaps a old Orphan Annie doll of one of the nieces or Anissa, in the other...probably pretty well a couple sheets to the wind by this time in the evening.  Stan Houseworth, home on leave during World War 2 in Scott, Ohio....born in December 1917, dad passed away Christmas Eve of 1972....sudden, unexpected, and swift....something no one could ever forget.  Patricia in front of her parents Christmas Tree on December 18, 1976....after we exchanged vows at her home church in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin.  And the kids....perhaps 1985, since Hal, the youngest was born in April 1984.  This ornament, along with others from their childhoods, hangs on our tree today.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Ghosts of Christmas Past...part #2

More Rain overnight....more that we just don't need, and showers in the forecast off and on for the next couple of days....at least we are not forced to dig out for the Blizzard snows of the panhandles of Texas and Oklahoma, as well as eastern New Mexico, southeast Colorado and western Kansas....where upwards of 20 inches was dumped in some places....no worry about that here, we are sitting at 55 degrees, warm to say the least for December 21st, the first official day of Winter.  And even though cooler by Christmas morning, it will be sunny and still near 40 for the day.

No game tonight, but after working a two man crew on the 94 foot long court at Van Wert for last nights JV game between Paulding and the host Cougars, I and my legs need a rest.  A Freshman game at Crestview tomorrow, then a Freshman/JV boys double header north at Ottawa Glandorf beginning at 4:30 Friday afternoon,  At least we will work a three man crew for those games, which precede the Varsity game between O-G and Bowling Green.  Then the next three days off for the Christmas weekend, before a handful of games next week.

It is always interesting when I work a game at Van Wert...after being the voice of the Cougars on Cable Channel 7 for 15 or so years, giving the basketball and football officials Hell, now I'm on the other side.  The older fans, who used to tune in for the tape replays of the games back in the Cougars glory years, and watch and listen as I gave the officials the business, now can give me the business, as the tables have turned....pretty entertaining to say the least....and fun.

The Ghosts of Christmas, part 2____

As I mentioned yesterday, the most vivid of my Christmas memories, are from those years I spent in Venice and South Venice, Florida, growing up.....as a teen, back in Ohio, the memories have faded quickly, and I just don't have the recall as I have of the Florida Christmas years.  Although the memories of those early Christmases in the south are pretty clean, little remain, materially, of those days....except a few things....

One thing I have left, along with some old post cards that my Grandma Houseworth collected and saved, is a book on Shells.  Wilda Waldron Houseworth collected Shells by the thousands, along with sharks teeth, from the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and the stores that sold the polished and full shells.  For the Christmas of 1955, mom and dad bought her a book on Shells, so she could identify the ones she bought and collected.  Wilda died in 1975 at the ripe old age of 91, having outlived two of her five children, dad, and Forrest.  When the last of the kids, Eva, passed away in 1998, I, as the executor of the remaining items and house in Scott, Ohio, along with my cousin Linda, went through the time taxiing and exhausting task of rooting through the stuff left behind by the three "Packrats", grandma, Aunt Cecil, who died in 1991, and Eva.  It was an adventure to say the least, but that's for a different time....

One thing I did find was that old Shell collecting book, still in excellent shape, from the Christmas of 1955.....attached are a photo from Christmas morning of that year, some 56 years past, where the book can be seen under a chalkboard that was a gift for sister Marty, and a scan of the book, as it looks today, in my modest, but nothing like Grandma's, collection of antiques and small collectibles, of which I kept some, sold some, and split with Linda the others, since we did the work of going through it all.

Hummm....well that's enough for today, but tomorrow I will looking back at some memories of more recent Ghosts of my Christmas pasts....

back later>>>>

Photos-A Christmas as it looks in Florida, although this particular photo I shot a dozen or so years ago at Ormond Beach from a Sunrise at Mom's condo....The Shell Book as it looks today, and sitting below the mass of presents, under the chalk board back on Christmas morning 1955....