Anyone remember this?:

They say it's your birthday
It's my birthday too, yeah
They say it's your birthday
We're gonna have a good time
I'm glad it's your birthday
Happy birthday to you

Well, today was my birthday! Celebrating that would have been nice, but Cheryl was busy with work, and I had a ton of grading to do, plus an evening class to teach, so we deferred celebrating until this weekend. Still, I had another birthday! (I am getting used to that, I have had so many!)

Another Year

Having done battle with cancer, getting to another birthday is a BIG deal! You never know if that will happen again, cancer survivor or not, and far too few really appreciate that! Most of us seem to approach the day wondering if anyone will notice. I told one of my classes it was my birthday, and they all started singing some silly song. It was funny!


As you get older, each birthday brings with it a bunch of memories. I had an odd thought sequence today, that took me back to when I first married Cheryl. It started with the thought of Birthday Cake:

Let Them Eat Cake

Who said that? I seem to remember it was some evil lady over in France, I believe. Any of you been over there? After 20 years in the Air Force, where I only left CONUS (Continental United States) once, and that was to go to Hawaii to build the Maui High-Performance Supercomputer Center, I had never been to Europe, and I definitely wanted to go. But not alone! So, when Cheryl and I got married, I sprung for a Honeymoon trip to London and Paris, with a bunch of time touring around southern England. Then we took a HoverSpeed from Dover to Calais, and spent a week touring France before we ended up in Paris for several days. It was a great trip.

We started calling it the ABC tour: another bloody castle, another bloody cathedral, another bloody château! After the tour of France, especially after visiting the Palace at Versailles, where we were told the Queen wanted the wallpaper changed on the entire place every three months, I fully understood the French Revolution Those royal twerps were nuts! And life for the average soul living in France was so far removed from all of that it was just crazy! No wonder they finally said enough!

I brought back a bunch of important memories of that trip, but a few stand out. One, I got to see several places where Leonardo Da Vinci lived and worked. He has always been my inspiration and why I got so into art and technology. Here is a château he designed for the King of France. Cheryl and I used this as our first Christmas Card picture together to show folks our new digs:

Da Vinci Chateau

We also got to visit Da Vinci's grave at Château d'Amboise, France, where he spent the last three years of his life working for the King of France as his royal Architect.

Da Vinci's Grave

My favorite picture from that trip is this one, taken on the steps at the Palace at Versailles:

Cheryl at the Palace.

Cheryl was not feeling well this day, we even had to stop at an apothecary to try to find cold medicine for her. It was fun trying to convey our problem to the clerk, who spoke no English, and we spoke no French, but we finally got something for her. She was struggling to enjoy the day, and this helped her. Still, this is a great shot, and sits in my office at home.

The best photograph I have ever taken was this one, shot as I stepped off of the tour bus in a little town along the Loire River in France:

River scene

After I took the shot, I noticed the fisherman sitting under an umbrella in the row boat in the middle of the river. I would love to say I planned the shot, but it was pure accident. I had this picture blown up to poster size and framed. The folks at the photo shop who did the work all loved the scene.

Friend Jim

My best friend, Jim Petty, has his birthday a day before mine, so we each tend to make sure we let the other know that aging is still going on. Jim's comment to me this year was that he is three-quarters of the way to 100, and I am only two-thirds of the way. Thanks, Jim, I never thought of it that way! May we both reach the century mark!

Jim and his wife, Patty, are traveling through Texas now, and will stop by to visit tomorrow. Jim is tagged to be my official ground photographer when I take my ride in the F4D, and he seems as anxious as I am getting, for that ride to happen!

We need to meet for a late dinner on his next birthday, and have dessert on mine. If we can find a restaurant that stays open that late!


I finally got a message from Dr. Yu, the plastic surgeon at M. D. Anderson about my planned facial modifications. Now that they have a good report on the cancer, he is ready to do some work. The area where they did all the work around my eye is not as swelled up as it was, but they still need to go in and remove excess tissue they put in there as packing. They also have to adjust the area around my eye in preparation for the artificial eye they plan on giving me.

The artificial eye they plan on putting in is a Hollywood special. It is glued onto my face each morning, then peeled off at night. The material is a soft plastic, and has everything made to look as real as only Hollywood can make it. Supposedly, it will last about a year, then we build another one. Fortunately, medical insurance will pay for one a year. The biggest problem with the whole (hole?) idea is that they want me there for two weeks to do the sculpting and fitting work!

Shoot, I have a simple solution for all of that, that will be pretty cheap!

Remember Silly Putty? I seem to remember a version of that came in a nice pink color. I can take a blob of that and fill in the area where my eye used to be, then stick in a cool cats-eye marble. I am thinking that will look kind of neat. Maybe I still need more sleep! It is not only the putty that seems silly now.

Anyway, I have to call over to Houston and set up another visit. Dr. Yu wants to look things over and plan the surgery. He thinks it will be an in-an-out procedure taking only a day to do, then I get to go home. I have to find a hole in my teaching schedule to put that into, but we will do that soon.

High School Reunion

Not only am I getting older, but so are a bunch of my High School classmates. We are all gathering for our 50th Reunion next weekend back in Falls Church, Virginia. Cheryl and I got our airline tickets set up as soon as we knew there would not be more trips to Houston getting in the way. We are both looking forward to meeting all those folks who keep sending me messages saying they like my Blog. Thanks to Judy Ingalls Hughes who put a link to my blog on the reunion web site, I seem to have many followers among my classmates, and we are really looking forward to the trip.

We will arrive on Thursday, spend the night with my sister, Connie, have dinner with both my sisters; Karen will join us, then Cheryl and I will go to stay two nights at the Hotel where the reunion is being held on Friday. We have a gathering on Friday night, then on Saturday morning, a bus tour of Falls Church ending with a tour of our Alma Mater, George Mason Jr/Sr High School. Saturday evening, we have a big dinner. Sunday, we head back to Austin. The whole thing should be great, and we have a bunch of folks attending. We had about 145 folks in our class, and many of them are going to be there. I will have to study up by spending some time with my yearbook to remember who is who.

The odd thing about reunions is trying to figure out who these people are. The only other reunion I have made was our 35th, when the school had a special deal for every class, and a bunch of folks, including an old girl friend, were there! Cheryl keeps asking if that girl will be at this one. Nope, she was a year behind me.

I remember that we had to put pictures from our yearbook up on the wall in the gymnasium with current pictures to help folks figure out who was who. For some strange reason, we do not all look the same. For me, I had another eye, and a bunch more hair! I should be easy to spot, though, with my pirate's patch on.

In Closing

I am sure I should have something else to say, today, but one of my old jokes comes to mind:

There are two signs of senility: one is forgetfulness, and I cannot
remember the other one!

If I have forgotten anything important, maybe it will come to me.

Oh, yeah! I cannot sign off without again thanking all you folks for continuing to say encouraging things to me about how good I look, in spite of the cancer attack on my head. I am living with it, and dealing with subtle issues that will be with me for the rest of my life. But I am still me, something Cheryl keeps reminding me. Living inside this body, I cannot see the changes on a daily basis, except in the morning when I shave and stare at that odd face. All of the nice things people say to me surely helps. I am grateful for that, and I know Cheryl appreciates the support she is getting as well. We are traveling this path together, after all. From our first trip to Paris together, to our trips to Houston, she is my companion, and I love her!

To my classmates: See you in a week!