Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Goodnight, 2014.

I don't know which of these photos is cuter. Maybe it's a tie.

In any case, another year of blogging is in the books, and we've earned our rest. Happy New Year, but may all your midnight firecrackers be duds. Shhh . . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry first day of Christmas, everybuddy!

And Happy Throwback Thursday, too, courtesy today of Annabelle. Behold "A Partridge in a Pear Tree," a collage AB created when she was in first grade:

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mike T is walking on sunshine!

What's the best way to follow up a silver-medal-winning performance at a national powerlifting meet? Perhaps by glomming onto a huge educational opportunity--one, in fact, that is central to your main career goal. Are you ready for this?

Young Mike has been accepted into the U.S. Army-Baylor University Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy. Since graduating with honors from Florida State last spring and being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force Reserve, he's been on a one-year deferral from active duty to work on building a résumé that the Physical Therapy (PT) Program's admissions committee might find impressive. (This was critical, since the Program is mainly for Army personnel, with only a few slots each year given to Air Force applicants.) Mike did this partly by taking postgraduate coursework at FSU, but mostly through serving 327 PT volunteer and observation hours at numerous military and civilian medical facilities. (About 80 of these hours were completed during Christmas and summer breaks while he was still an undergrad.) His work included stints at Ft. Leavenworth, KS; the Leavenworth VA Medical Center; Moody Air Force Base; MacDill Air Force Base; and the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (formerly the National Naval Medical Center) in Bethesda, MD. Mike also completed a course of study that led to his designation as a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).

The Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy is housed at Ft. Sam Houston, in San Antonio, TX, home to the Army Medical Department Center and School. Mike is to report there next October, though classes won't begin until January 2016. During the Program, all of Mike's living and educational expenses will be paid for by the Air Force. Two-and-a-half years later, when he completes training, he will go on active duty as a captain and an Air Force Physical Therapist.

Congratulations redux, Multitalented Mikey! And hey, if you continue with your hobby of lifting huge iron objects over your head, someday you'll be able to follow that sage advice: Physical therapist, heal thyself!

P.S. - I started to suspect there was something special about both Mike and his sister, Annabelle, when I saw this picture of them, taken when they were kids:

Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Day-Trip to Washington, D.C.

M, J, and I paid a short visit to our nation's capital today. (Through the magic of internet live-streaming, of course!) We were at the Washington Hilton Hotel for the USA Powerlifting American Open Championships. That's a contest where guys pick up very heavy things called barbells, to see how much weight they can lift in various events without (1) any wardrobe malfunctions or (2) any body parts flying off. M thinks it's also designed to find out how close you can come to wrecking your hips, knees, back, and shoulders without actually doing so.

Here is the contest's official logo, which you can buy on a tee shirt if you like:

The reason we made this whirlwind cyber-trip to D.C. was to watch J and M's grandson (and my adoptive nephew), Mike Taylor, compete. There were three events. While they were unfolding and Mike T was doing his thing, M was busy taking "screen-shot" pictures via something on the computer keyboard called "Print Screen."

The first event was the squat, where you start with a heavy barbell on your shoulders, then squat all the way down with it, and then stand back up until your knees are locked and your back is straight. (I know, good luck with that, right?) Here is a pic of Mike T doing his first squat, with a weight of 496 pounds (in the picture, he has already squatted and returned successfully to the standing position):

His second attempt--also successful--was 523.6 pounds. M didn't get a picture of that one, as he is still learning the ins and outs of Print Screen. Mike's third lift was 534.6 pounds, which was a new personal meet record for him. We got a screen-shot of it, but a friend of Mike's managed to take this video (to see it in bigger format on YouTube, go here):

The second event was the bench press. In this one, you lie on your back with the barbell extended straight up over your chest, then lower it to your chest, and then extend it back up again, until your elbows are locked. Mike T successfully did this at 314.2 pounds and 330.7 pounds, but missed at 347.2 pounds. Here is a screen-shot of his 330.7-pound lift:

And here is a YouTube clip of the same lift:

The final event was the deadlift, which is possibly named for how you feel when you get to it. Here the idea is just to get the weight up off the floor and rise to a standing position with your back straight and knees locked, holding the pose for a couple of seconds. Mike T accomplished this with weights of 534.6 pounds and 578.7 pounds, before missing at 600.8 pounds. His lift of 578.7 pounds was another personal meet record. Here's a screen-shot of that lift:

And a YouTube video of it:

Mike's top weights for the three events totaled 1,444 pounds (a third personal record), which earned him an overall second place for the championship. Here are a couple of pictures of him with his silver medal:

Crikey, Mikey! Well done! Conflatulations!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Emperor's New Hat

Check out M's snazzy new headgear. It's called a Glengarry cap, and he ordered it from someplace in Scotland. He bought it to wear with his kilt, but the weather's still too hot here for that. So for illustrative purposes, a Hawaiian shirt will have to do. Once he has the whole suit on, he'll look more like that nutcracker.

Oh--and that round metal thingy on the side is a Boyd clan badge.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What's in a name?

Maybe more than we know.

For Halloween last Friday, Jenny dressed up as Charlie Brown. We all thought she looked pretty cool:

By the way, that thing in her hand in the bottom picture is not a treat from the litter box, but a rock that some crabby old lady put in her candy bag.

So where was I? Oh, yeah--then just to shake things up, what do we see in this morning's paper? This!

Well, Jen, you had the look just perfect for a little while.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Auntie Julia, it's your birthday again!

This year I hired a string quartet to entertain you with some variations on a fine old theme! If you prefer to watch it on YouTube, click here. Mike, Jeannie, and I all hope you have a wonderful day!


Monday, September 29, 2014

We went to the beach this past weekend. It was very wet.

With rain! We heard on the news that we had eleven inches of rain overall and eight inches in just a 24-hour period.

With not much to do except stay in the house, I spent lots of time on the big couch. Once while I was dozing, M snapped this "ussie":

He and J spent lots of time looking out at the rain:

J also talked on the phone and looked up stuff on her iPad:

By Saturday afternoon, it cleared enough for M to get down onto the beach, where he took a picture of the house where we were staying:

On Sunday morning, the sunrise finally featured a rising sun:

All in all it was a nice trip. To see more of our pictures, follow this link to M's "Stormy Weather" Flickr album.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fifty years ago today, Mike and Jeannie ran away . . .

. . . and got married! I've heard that when you run away to get married, it's called eloping. So I guess that's what they did, but with one small twist: they took Jeannie's family with them.

They were married in this church in the small town of Brewton, Alabama, which is a few dozen miles up the trail from Jeannie's hometown of Pensacola, Florida:

To be more precise, the church is in a suburb of Brewton called Burnt Corn. The minister who officiated was a man named Milton G. Williams.

I tried to find some pictures of the wedding ceremony, but there aren't very many, and most of them are showing their age. But these will give you an idea of what it was like. For starters, here's the one where the bride gets given away by her father. From left to right, the people in this first picture are Mike and Jeannie; Jeannie's dad, Mr. E. C. Jernigan; and Rev. Williams:

The ceremony proceeds with Jeannie's brother, John, serving as Mike's best man; then Mike and Jeannie; followed by John's fiancée, Carol, who was Jeannie's bridesmaid; and Rev. Williams:

Once the vows are exchanged, the groom gets to kiss the bride.

Then after M & J were officially hitched, the wedding party posed for this one:

The arm and head in the lower-right corner belong to Jeannie's sister, Suzie. M says there used to be more wedding pictures floating around, and if he can find them we might add some later. I did come up with another photo of the happy couple that was stuck in an album near the one of the church. I don't really think it was from the wedding, though, because for one thing Jeannie's hair looks shorter. But I'll throw it in for good measure. Who knows, maybe it was from the honeymoon.

Boy, I'll bet when they were newlyweds, M and J never dreamed that one day their faithful dog would be writing about it in a blog. I'm just darn glad I got the chance to.

Mike and Jeannie, let me close by wishing you all the best on what I've learned is your golden wedding anniversary. I love you guys a whole bunch!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Annabelle is all wrapped up in her music.

Mike says it's hard to believe his granddaughter used to play a flute and an oboe.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

"Irish Heartbeat"

Regular readers of this blog know that I love being part of a family. That's probably a big reason that this song strikes a chord with me.

"Irish Heartbeat" was written by Van Morrison, who hails from Belfast, Northern Ireland. He recorded it with an Irish folk band called The Chieftains, and I have to say that their version is pretty darn good. You can find it here on YouTube.

But my favorite "cover" of the song is this one by a Scotsman named Billy Connolly. Technically, Connolly and Morrison are both "Scots-Irish": Van-the-Man's ancestors emigrated from Scotland to Ulster, while Billy's went the other way. Connolly (who was born in Glasgow on M's birthdate!) is mainly famous as a stand-up comic and a movie actor, but IMHO, his rendition of "Heartbeat" raises "pretty darn good"-ness to a whole new level. If skirling Scottish bagpipes and rattling snare drums make your hair stand up, this is the version for you:

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thursday--yes. Throwback--not this time!

Here's a pic of Mike in 1997, on one of his annual guided fishing trips out of the Homosassa River with his dad and his Aunt Madelyn, in search of the not-so-elusive redfish:

And several more from their 2006 expedition:

M says he really misses those trips. The company was great, the fishing usually fine, and the river always beautiful:

I'd love to have gone with them except for--you know--all that water.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Throwback Thursday

Our theme for this Throwback Thursday is water safety. Our main conclusion is that it's a contradiction in terms.

To illustrate common hazards that you may find around large bodies of water, here is a picture of Jeannie (left) with her brother and sister. It was taken at the Gulf of Mexico in 1954.

Well, stone the crows! Was this an accident looking for a place to happen, or what? As if their reckless hijinks weren't risky enough, notice where they were situated--at the beach! In the water! Were they trying to drown each other or just break their necks? It's a wonder they didn't do both.

I'm happy to report that 60 years later, they are all still thriving . . . with no thanks to shenanigans like the above.

Now for a couple of much newer pictures of Jeannie, demonstrating the only safe and sane way to approach the wild surf:

Long story short . . . there isn't one! As you can see, I was trying my level best to drag J out of harm's way. Thank goodness I prevailed before a tsunami could come along and slam us.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shake a snake--if you feel lucky!

A couple of years ago, Mike and I were walking down Brandywine Road and we stepped off into the lush grass of a neighbor's side lawn so that I could--uh--relieve myself. We hadn't gone very far when I heard something rustling between my feet. I looked down and saw a critter that looked like this:

Well, I launched myself about a foot into the air, the snake took off like he was late for dinner, and Mike just about wet himself laughing. "It's a harmless Black Racer," he said. "Don't be a sissy."

"I'm too young to die," I told him.

"One of those couldn't kill you," he replied. "They're nonpoisonous."

"Can they bite?"

"Well, of course, all snakes can bite."

"That's reason enough for me to steer clear of them," I said.

When we returned home, we Googled up some information on what are supposedly the four main poisonous snake species in our state, complete with pictures. They are--in case you aren't aware--the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake;

the Pgymy, or Ground, Rattlesnake (the guy whose hand is also in this picture is a flaming nut, IMHO);

the Cottonmouth, or Water Moccasin;

and the Coral Snake.

Up near our border with Georgia and Alabama, you can sometimes find the Timber, or Canebrake, Rattler;

and every now and then, the Copperhead.

"The first four of those," M informed me, "are the only snakes you really have to avoid around here."

"Oh, no," I informed him back. "I have to avoid all of them. Case closed. Can I hear an amen?"

He said my choice of words (the amen part) was a good one, because there happen to be groups of people in the states just to our north who use poisonous snakes as a big part of their religion. They actually pick them up and dance around the room with them, believing that if their faith is strong enough, they won't get bit. And that if they do get bit, they won't die. And they drink deadly poison, too, mostly something called strychnine. And quite a number of them have apparently died because of their beliefs. Well, DUH!

But the lure of snake handling (AKA "taking up serpents," after some Bible verse) is apparently hard to resist among more than a few humans. M went on to tell me about a man named Dennis Covington, who wrote a book called Salvation on Sand Mountain: Snake Handling and Redemption in Southern Appalachia.

During his reasearch in Scottsville, Alabama, Covington became so affected by what he saw that he briefly became a snake handler, himself. Eventually he was able to let go of the practice--probably with encouragement from Mrs. Covington, who I'll bet said something like, "You can touch snakes or you can touch me--your choice, buster!"

I must admit that in the two years since I learned all this, I've often thought about the weird attraction of people to snakes. (I've also wondered what other bizarre secrets lurk inside human minds.) So it didn't surprise me to learn that Mike has been thinking about it, too. He recently finished a slideshow video to dramatize the subject--and to set it to music, with the help of a country and western duo called Pinkard & Bowden. We hope you enjoy it--or at least find it educational.

To view it in its original format at YouTube, click here.