Thirty-Eight Years

Taos snow scene

Yesterday just out the door

We were married in front of our wonderful friends in Chestertown, Maryland on January 16, 1981. There’s a photo of everyone taken on the courthouse steps I’ll no doubt find when we move, which can’t come soon enough, either. We only had to walk about a block and a half from our apartment in the small Eastern Shore town. My wife wore a beautiful vintage hat and a perfect raccoon coat. I was in tails and a derby, oh my.

I know I’ve told the story before…but afterwards everyone came back to our apartment and got drunk on champagne. By that time it had started to snow. Our landlord’s wife, one of the guests, needed a ride home to their house in the country with a promise of dinner. The roads were slippery as hell as the light started to fade. When I came to the edge of town and turned left heading for Worton, my ’67 Saab started spinning counter-clockwise in the snow, directly in front of oncoming traffic, yet nobody panicked or screamed. I remember feeling calm and relaxed as the car slid slowly around in a circle and ended up pointing down the road where we wanted to go, perfectly placed on the right side of the road. I motored on through the gloom as if nothing had happened. We were invincible.

In a few months, we’ll have been twenty years here in New Mexico. We don’t own a home, I have credit card debt, and the last few years have been harder than most. All the losses and dyings, my God, who knew? All I ever wanted to do is live with my darlin’ and be a real man. Since I seem to be real and the lady’s still here, there’s nothing to prove in the end. That this is it has also sunk in, in a good way, I hope. The eternal boy is a chastened old man with the heart of a lad and the soul of a thief, ambitious as ever and still shedding doubt. It’s never over, you know. We go till we stop.

She says when she first met me, she knew. I wasn’t that sure but fell like a monster and never once wanted to leave. Happy anniversary, babe! It was all meant to be. I owe you my life, and I’m yours.

Snow Thoughts

snowy Taos scene

The most I’ve ever seen in this location

There’s kind of a lot. That’s okay, though. As I always say, “Snow is fun for half a day.” On Saturday I shoveled for several hours and I’m still not done. My woodpile was completely covered. A stranger wouldn’t have known we had any firewood at all. The worst thing was when I used a broom to knock snow off the tarp, I suddenly had a much smaller supply.

I’m hoping for a window of opportunity tomorrow from 7:00 to 8:00 a.m. That’s when I’ll bust out in the 4WD Dakota [pictured] to buy a Sunday paper and a gallon of milk. By 9:00 a.m. it’s supposed to start snowing again, so… At least the errand won’t be boring. In weather like this, the local practice of ignoring stop signs and driving like my late brother Bill on meth rises to high art.

Accidental Capture

birds in snow

iPhone 6s Plus shot w/digital zoon, tweaked in Photoshop

All I was doing was taking a quick shot of why I was about to go out and feed the birds, and then this happened. Look carefully!

Basically what I did today was try to keep the birds fed, can you imagine? And watch the news—I found a couple sites where I can stream MSNBC for free on my laptop or my phone, of course, which means I can put an itty-bitty teevee on the counter while I eat my lunch. Just ask me anything.

It started snowing at 3:00 a.m., I’m told, and went on for twelve more hours. We ended up with about a foot on level ground, if you can find any, and quite a bit more on the lee side of the hills and such. It’s a serious snow. I’ll be shoveling tomorrow to make a path to the vehicles and try to get out with the Dakota.

Christmas Crash

Xmas in Taos

A fine Xmas in Taos, New Mexico, 2018: I am a very lucky man.

Originally published 16 years ago on a now-extinct blog, I remembered this today and read it out loud to my wife, who’s been weepy all morning as a result. It’s a sad story, in other words, a trip back in time to when I was barely 12 years old in darkest West Texas and really, really wanted something for Xmas. Very introspective and revealing. At least I’m still drawing breath (the others are dead). Where do they hand out survivor medals, I wonder? Because I surely deserve one. – JHF

© 2002

(In the Abilene fall of ’58, a catalog arrived. Inside was a color picture of a ready-to-fly gasoline powered plastic model plane and Johnny went beserk…)

I’d always wanted one, though plastic planes were new on the scene. Oddly enough, my Air Force dad had never encouraged me to build a powered model, but he knew a thing or two about balsa wood and paper. He’d shown me once how to anchor and dope the outer covering so it drew taut and shiny. But those were gliders, lesser projects, things we could afford. The raspy, snarling powered craft were not the sort of thing I dared to covet openly. My allowance didn’t reach to buy an engine, and he was never interested, or so I thought.

Whenever there were air shows or fairs around the air bases where we lived, he and I would go to watch the modelers compete. I liked the smell of burning fuel, the noise, and the excitement of the handlers working furiously to get their planes up in the air. Most of the events involved flying tethered models counter-clockwise in a circle. The planes always seemed to fly much faster than their scale would indicate. I feared and envied the responsibility of the lucky few who flew them.

For years I pored over model airplane magazines whenever I could get them. I learned the different brands and types of motors, the sizes and kinds of propellors, the prices and features of all the kits and accessories. I especially liked the replicas, the finely-detailed, complicated kits that if faithfully assembled resulted in a perfect miniature P-47 or Messerschmidt Me-109. My fantasy world of flying models never materialized, but there were static wood and plastic equivalents, so I eventually built up a large collection. The motorized variety, the “real thing,” was always just beyond my financial and technical ability to manifest, so I kept mum. And the the catalog appeared.

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Where Have I Been?


Well, you know. Sometimes you have to come at things in a different way. It isn’t easy. Take the firehose of negativity at 4:00 a.m.—where does this stuff come from? I sort of know by now, of course, and this week came across a chunk of solid proof. But that’s not where the effort lies.


Every time I post, you get an email with a link. (Same as "Notify me of new posts by email" in Comments.) Easy on, easy off.

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