Happy Birthday, Melodie!

Today is my sister’s birthday. I am down with her to celebrate in Connecticut, while Jack stays home with the doggies!

I wanted to tell you all what a wonderful sister Melodie is. She is five and a half years older than me, and I was her “first baby”. She cared for me like a little mother and was always more like a mother to me, than a sister.

Mel is one of the kindest women that I know. She always has a smile and a warm greeting for those around her. She loves her family with her whole heart and rejoices in their successes and comforts them in their sorrows.

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Ron and Melodie

She has been married to her husband, Ron for 48 years. They met at the age of 13 at summer camp and wrote to each other for many years before their wedding in November of 1971.

So today, on her sixty-sixth Birthday I want to wish my beloved sister, Melodie a very Happy Birthday!

The Samoan Clipper

At the dawn of commercial aviation, Pan Am was a leader in the development of International Flight Routes. Some of their first planes were Sikorsky S-42B’s  or what was commonly known as the Flying Boats.

BdrUMkZCQAAAILnThe Samoan Clipper

Edwin Musick had been with Pan American from the very beginning when, as “pilot number 1” he flew the fledgling airline’s first scheduled airmail flight from Key West to Havana on 28 October 1927 on a Fairchild FC-2 floatplane.

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He would go on to lead nearly all of Pan Am’s expanding routes to the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Pacific.  At one time, Musick held more records and honors than any other active pilot including the 1935 Harmon Trophy which recognized him as “the world’s outstanding aviator.” He was known as a pilot’s pilot.

2.-Ed-Musick-Arriving-in-Auckland-1937Captain Musick, in New Zealand after completing the first survey flight from San Francisco to Aukland, New Zealand, March 29, 1937.

On the morning of January 11, 1938, the Samoan Clipper shoved off from the Pan Am dock at Pago Pago, where at 05:32 (local time) Musick throttled up and lifted off for the final leg of his last survey journey to New Zealand.

Things went wrong pretty quickly as they had an oil leak in engine #1 and the crew, led by Captain Musick, decided to turn back to Pago Pago. Since they were filled with fuel, they knew that before landing they would need to do a fuel dump.

At 07:59 the plane was sighted over Apia (in what was then the New Zealand-administered trust territory of Western Samoa) and headed in the direction of Tutuila (the main island of American Samoa) 75 miles away.

Another radio contact was received starting at 08:27 informing the PAA station that Musick would be dumping fuel to lighten his now underpowered and still heavily laden ship before attempting to land in the severely restricted waters of Pago Pago harbor just a short distance ahead.

After 08:35 all contact was lost with Samoan Clipper and her crew.

Within hours, reports reached Pago Pago that “native fishermen” had spotted smoke off the NW coast of the island.  A US Navy plane was dispatched to search the area and quickly sighted an oil slick that “appeared to be coming from the ocean floor.” The minesweeper/seaplane tender USS Avocet (AVP-4) sailed from Pago Pago and was vectored to the scene some “12 miles north of Tapu Tapu Point” (the western-most tip of Tutuila Island).

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Shortly after first light on 12 January, Avocet’s crew spotted the tell-tale sheen of fuel mixed with assorted debris floating on the surface.  A ship’s boat was launched to collect what they could.  Recovered items comprised mainly small, charred pieces of “flooring, partitioning, books, papers, interior wall parts, and the navigator’s drift target tray.”  Most telling and heartbreaking of all was a tattered Pan American Airways officer’s jacket with its distinctive winged “PAA” logo identified as belonging to Samoan Clipper’s radio officer, T.J. Findley.

The position of these finds was recorded and preserved in a Bureau of Air Commerce accident report (dated 1 April 1938) that concluded the loss of the Samoan Clipper was probably due to “fire and explosion associated with the dumping of fuel, the precise cause of ignition being undeterminable.” Speculation focused on a static charge, engine exhaust or a spark from the electrically driven flap actuators as they were engaged before landing, but without any opportunity to closely examine the main body of wreckage, the exact reason for the destruction of NC16734 was reluctantly left a mystery.

A renewed search for Samoan Clipper began in early 2014 with a white paper co-authored by Russ Matthews (President and Co-founder of Air/Sea Heritage Foundation), noted maritime archaeologist Dr. James Delgado, and aviation historian Lonnie Schorer (A New Hampshire resident, who lives just down the road from us.)  The Air/Sea Heritage Foundation, began this expedition to locate, identify, and document the wreckage of Samoan Clipper, a Pan American Airways Sikorsky S-42B flying boat lost off the northwest coast of Tutuila, American Samoa in January 1938. If successful, the resulting survey will characterize an archaeological site with major significance to aviation and American Samoan history, determine the final resting place of pioneering Captain Edwin C. Musick and his 6-man crew, plus investigate the wreckage for evidence as to what lead to their fate.

They have not had a lot of luck. I think part of me believes that the plane, and the remnants of the crash, are probably sitting well below the seafloor, some 10,000 leagues or so under the sea.

I would like for the Samoan Clipper to be found. Like the Titanic, so much could be learned from that day, so long ago.

I want to note that I have gotten information for this Blog entry from the “Pan Am Heritage Foundation” as well as “The Air/Sea Foundation”.

As always I am interested in this due to Jack’s history as a Flight Engineer, First Officer and then Captain for Pan American World Airways.

Jack (2)Captain Jack

Happy Birthday Jack!

Today is the eighty-first birthday of my husband Jack. It’s quite a milestone for him and for us. We met many years ago and were friends for a long time. We saw each other through many difficult times in life, and eventually, when we figured it all out, we got married and started our life together. That was thirty-one years ago. How the time has flown.

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Today we celebrate Jack’s birth and here is hoping for not only a happy day but a healthy and wonderful year ahead!

Happy 31st Anniversary!

Today, Jack and I celebrate 31 years of marriage. It doesn’t seem possible that it has been that long. In the grand scheme of things, 31 years is like forever in a Hollywood marriage. And at my age (60) it certainly is a large chunk of time.

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In our thirty-one years of marriage, we have had 4 White German Shepherds, Rex, Max, Fritz, and Lili. Four Wire-haired Dackels, Shubi, Greta, Arnie and Anneliese, and lived in four homes. One was a farm in Lyndeborough, NH, a nice ranch home in Punta Gorda, FL, in a motor coach here in Meredith, NH for 9 long months, while we built our current home, and lastly this beautiful house, that Jack and I designed.

We had four children, between us. Three are living, and they have grown up to be really good people. We also have two of the most beautiful, and wonderful grandchildren on the face of the earth!

Marriage is never easy, even if you are married to your best friend. There are days you want to murder each other, but lucky for us, those days were few and far between.

Forgiveness is so important when you live with someone this long. People do stupid things, and if you can’t forgive them, then you are with the wrong person. I am the Queen of stupid things and I am married to the King of stupid things. So it’s a good thing we forgive and forget.

You will also find during a long term marriage (or relationship) that there will be those days when your significant other just makes you crazy. Whether it’s how they are chewing their food, or even sipping their soup, you will sit there and wonder how you never noticed this before!

But then, there are those times when a little look, the warmth of a hug, or a gentle squeeze of your hand, will make you feel loved and safe. During my illness two years ago, when I felt like I was dying, I was so scared, and Jack just kept the home fires burning, cooked my meals, did the laundry, and did not allow me to believe that I was leaving this earth.

Likewise, not even six months later when he got the infection in his foot that led to the amputation of his toe, I made sure I was at the hospital each day. I brought him goodies to eat, stayed to speak with each doctor, and informed Jack that he wasn’t leaving me yet.

No, marriage isn’t easy, but the pros far outweigh the cons, and life would be so empty, so lonely, without my Jack.

Even after all these years, Jack is still the first person I want to speak with in the morning, and the last person I want to speak to at night.

I made up a short montage of our life together using one of our favorite songs. I hope you enjoy it!

Happy Anniversary Jack!

A Word Or Two…

Back in 2005, I started to write Dackel Princess. When I started to write, I think I did it because everyone else was doing it. I wanted to join in.

I never thought, in my wildest dreams that fourteen years later I would still be writing.

For many years I wrote about the dogs, the puppies, and the recipes I loved the most.

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Shubi, the original Dackel Princess and me in 2005.

Then, I started to write about my life. My grandchildren, my feelings about everything under the sun, and not only the wonders of life, but of the struggles too

Most of my Blog friends from fourteen years ago have long since stopped writing. And yet I go on. Mostly because I still feel I have things to share.

I realized that I had a lot to say about many different things. My loves, my life, my fears, and my happiness. And fourteen years later, I have a nearly complete journal of these years of my life.

I read that Queen Victoria wrote diaries and journals throughout her life, filling 122 volumes. It is estimated that she wrote over two thousand words a day!

I will never reach that lofty level, but I do like to sit down and write about the world according to “The Dackel Princess.”

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Happy 12th Birthday, Arnie & Anneliese

Twelve years ago, in the early morning hours, Greta went into labor. I was so excited to welcome her first litter of puppies, and I sat with her as she began the long journey to motherhood.

A few hours later, Arnie, Anneliese and three of their sisters made their debut.

Dec 10 015This was the start of something neither Jack or I had ever experienced. Having two pups, brother and sister, from the moment of their birth, for their entire life.

It’s pretty amazing. Watching these two grow and emerge as two sweet, yet very different pups.

We knew we were keeping Anneliese. I loved the look of her and felt that she would carry on the Dackel Princess line, in her time.

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Arnie, who is so sweet, loving and laid back. Here he is at a month old. A handsome boy then and now.

Arnie

Arnie was actually sold to a woman from New York State. On the day she was due to pick him up, she called and canceled as her life was falling apart. She explained it all to me on the phone. I listened and gently told her she needed this dog. But she said no.

Arnie was 12 weeks old and I was really crazy about him. So was Jack and so was our young neighbor Emily. He was due to leave on that Saturday and by Monday morning we knew that Arnie was staying with us.

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Here they are the first year of their life together. Best friends always.

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Below is a short montage of their life together, with us. I feel so blessed to have had these two pups in my life every single day of their life. In many ways, although Greta was their biological Mom, I have been their forever Mom all these years.

They both are one of my life’s greatest blessings. The years of faithful love and companionship are truly priceless.

Thoughts

Wednesday was the National Funeral for President George H.W. Bush. I watched it, as I longed for the familiarity of the Episcopal Service.

I was Baptized as an Episcopalian. For those in England and Australia, the Episcopal Church is very much like The Church of England and the Anglican Church.

I never thought about it too much growing up, but in my thirties, I served my Church as a Eucharistic Minister. I loved doing that. I felt I was helping people to feel the peace of God

When we moved back to New Hampshire, there was far too much in the way of politics going on in the Episcopal Church here, and so I fell away from it. I was secure that God loved me and I know I love God, so we’re good.

Today I watched the Service for President Bush. I will tell you that I cried. Was I crying for him? For his family, for the loss of such a special man?

I think a little. Mostly I found myself crying, remembering those I have loved and lost. My Grandmother was truly devoted to the Church. I felt myself thinking about her and missing her. My father, my mother, and grandfather. Yes. I missed them all.

And I felt a loss again of my brother who passed at the age of 26. I remember so many times Mom dragged us to Church and some of the hilarity that occurred. Like when my brother fell asleep at Christmas Eve Mid-Night Service and then slid under the pew!

I thought of my little girl who was Baptized in the Church. As well as weddings, funerals and other Baptisms.

I recited the Liturgy, I sang with the songs, so familiar to me. I laughed and I cried, and at the end of the day, I am feeling a little tired and emotional.

I think I need a good night sleep tonight and then a fresh start tomorrow. Rest in Peace George H.W. Bush. May your Eternal Life include your beloved wife Barbara and your little girl, Robin.

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My Life, The Wonder Of It

There were so many special moments during our trip. There was a lot of talking, laughing and sharing. I looked at these three women, my sister, my daughter, and my cousin, and I realized how blessed we are to have each other. These are the women in my life that ground me, love me, and are there for me. Best of all, not only are we family, but we are friends!

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Look at your life, and ask yourself how many people in your life are you good around just being yourself, can joke with, and not worry about what the other person is thinking at that moment? You can just be your whacky self and find acceptance!

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We really enjoyed every moment, and no none of us gambled at all, although I kept seeing people walking around carrying flat screened TV’s only to learn they were holiday gifts for the High Rollers! Hmmm, perhaps there is a calling for me after all. Ha! I have never played cards well, and so I do not play. I did see an old-fashioned slot machine, and I was tempted but did not succumb.

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As Sunday ended and I climbed into my bed, I didn’t want to take off my Queen of the Day tiara, but I did, and although I am not wearing it now, in my mind I know it is still there!

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The next morning, we went to this great restaurant for breakfast. “Hash House A-Go-Go”! It was really fabulous, with country casual decor and an old fashioned diner-type menu.

20181119_091847I’d heard that their pancakes were amazing and decided to order the banana, brown sugar pancake. Mel got scrambled eggs and bacon, Janet got corned beef hash, and eggs and Amanda got eggs, and bacon. Mandy was good and ate her own food. Mel, Janet and I were all eating off each other’s plates. It’s been like that since the beginning of time, and so it goes! Take a look at this pancake!

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I have to tell you that this pancake was amazing! I love banana pancakes and this was like nothing I had ever had! It was so much better!

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As we were waiting I snapped this picture of Janet. She looked so beautiful and happy! Check out her pretty nails too!

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My beautiful sister with bunny ears! We love to joke around doing stuff like this!

Here is the view from our room at Mohegan Sun!

Yes, that white stuff is snow!

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Our time at Mohegan Sun ended all too soon. Melodie needed to get back to her life, just down the road in Connecticut, Mandy needed to get to work for a meeting, and Janet was assigned the task of driving me to Mandy’s house to get my car.

The best part of the end of our trip was the ride from the Casino up to Mandy’s Office, where the three of us were able to rehash all that had gone on.

Then after we dropped off Mandy, Janet and I were able to chit chat about things that were happening and talked about Thanksgiving, which will be spent at Mandy’s House.

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My three lovelies!  How lucky I am!

 

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Being Kidnapped

On Sunday, November 18th, I was instructed to arrive at Mandy’s House at 8:30 AM. I was also instructed to pack some dressy clothes for the evening and a bathing suit.

Odd combination, I thought, and a few weeks back when a friend of Mandy’s asked if I was doing anything special for my sixtieth Birthday, I mentioned the instructions.

“Oh, it sounds like a trip to the Wolf Cub Lodge”,  and so I thought we would go and play in the indoor water parks with the children.

Imagine my surprise when I arrived at Mandy’s at exactly 8:29 AM and found her loading the car and telling the kids goodbye. I kissed Savannah and high fived Quinn and off we drove.

We drove down the highway and she said she had to stop at her office. I was excited to see where she works, even though it was Sunday. We pulled into the parking lot and there was exactly one car on the whole lot. And as we drew closer out popped my cousin, Janet!

Amanda’s car came to a stop and I jumped out and ran to hug my much-loved cousin!

She grabbed her case, and tossed it into Mandy’s car and off we went. I was chattering to Janet and not paying attention, but I remember thinking that we were heading into Boston for some interesting overnight there.

I talked and talked, because that’s what I do and the next time I looked at the road, we were in Worcester, MA! Absolutely the opposite direction from Boston.

I watched a little more thinking we were going to a Deli I love in Connecticut! However, we passed on by.

Then I saw a sign for Mohegan Sun. I knew that was a giant Native American Casino, and I was a little confused because I don’t gamble.

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We pulled up to the Valet and unloaded the car, and slowly walked into the Lobby. I stood looking around at all the crowded splendor and then I saw her. My sister, Melodie! Waiting for us, for me! How lucky am I?

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We immediately hit the Spa, as our room wasn’t ready yet, and I was stripped down, put in a soft robe with a crown, a Magic Wand, s shot glass proclaiming my 60-ness, and a button announcing to all, it was my 60th Birthday!

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First up for me was an hour long full body massage! Oh my goodness! Having never had a full body massage before, I felt it was amazing, and so relaxing! Time seemed to stand still and then it was over!

Next up was my mani/pedi. I enjoy those, and picked out a pink sparkly polish!

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After that was a very late lunch and finally, our room was ready and we went upstairs to settle in. We had a suite of rooms with two bedrooms, a living room, and two baths. I could get used to this!

I showered and did my hair and lamented at the difficulty of doing your hair when wearing a tiara. I wonder if the Queen and Princess Kate have special hair stylists to help them? I sort of decided that I would just have to make do.

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I wore my tiara to dinner and my button too.  People smiled at me and wished me a Happy Birthday, and a few times they were kind and told me I didn’t look 60 at all. Yes, true kindness!

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We had dinner at Bobby Flays and they had the most amazing food! We all enjoyed our meals but agreed that my stuffed eggs were better than Bobby’s.

20181118_193406Bobby Flays Stuffed Egg.

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After dinner, we went to this fantastic Bar for a drink and to enjoy the atmosphere. It was an amazing place.

 

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It was so much fun and such a cool view!

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This was all beamed onto the ceiling, but it was so realistic!

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My darling daughter, Amanda and me. How can I ever explain to you what a special woman my daughter is? She planned all of this, never let on and surprised me in every way. She loves me unconditionally and embraces my wackiness! I am so lucky, and she is such a blessing!

Tomorrow I will let you know what happened after the cocktails, but this is all for tonight!

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Sixty Years & Counting!

Sixty years ago today, at 12:01 PM I made my debut into this world. My mother did not recall anything of my birth, as she chose to sleep through the delivery. In fact, all I have heard about that day was that Mom was hungry when she woke up, and they brought her a turkey sandwich.

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I love being sixty! For many reasons. I love that I know so much more than I did in my twenties. I love that my heart is full of love and happiness. I love that I still see the goodness in people. I love that despite experiencing the worst in life, I am not only alive but living a truly wonderful life!

Being sixty means that I’m looking at things I did in my past, that I do not want to repeat. It means I’m being more selective now about my plans and my time, because I understand that time is running on my clock, and I do not want to miss a thing!

I made a short montage of pictures from birth until the present day. I am so grateful to my family and my friends for always being there for me, and always loving me. What a great birthday gift that is!

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