Month: November 2006

  • From: 20,000 leagues under the sea

    That was the subject line of the email received from Charles this morning. 

    Thanksgiving wasn't bad, we had turkey and ham and all that good stuff, 
    but the meal was 2 hours long and almost the entire boat was up for it
    (about 150 people) so there were a lot of dishes to clean, and guess
    who cleaned them. But that was about as thanksgivingish as it got
    around here, besides those two hours it was a normal day. No hint of it being
    a holiday at all, hopefully christmas will be different.

    I can get a secret santa gift in the next port, just let me know who
    for. And you can just hold my doubtless dozens of presents until I get
    home, which by the way, will be right after we pull back into Groton,
    so no wasting time.

    Oh and another thing, I found out that while working in the galley,
    dive and rise angles on the ship are NOT fun. Stuff falls.


    Ah, the laws of gravity!  Apparently they apply even underwater. 

  • Another father-son story....


    Nov. 10, 2006 — When I met
    18-year old Patrick Henry Hughes, I knew he was musically talented. I
    had been told so, had read that he was very able for someone his age
    and who had been blind and crippled since birth.

    Patrick's eyes are not functional; his body and legs are stunted. He is
    in a wheelchair. When we first shook hands, his fingers seemed entirely
    too thick to be nimble. So when he offered to play the piano for me and
    his father rolled his wheelchair up to the baby grand, I confess that I
    thought to myself, "Well, this will be sweet. He has overcome so much.
    How nice that he can play piano."

    The original plan, I thought, would be this: We were going to talk a
    bit as he played. That was the plan. Hughes would explain how he
    managed to navigate the keyboard and how he first learned the piano and
    what his favorite songs were.

    But then Patrick put his hands to the keyboard, and his fingers began
    to race across it — the entire span of it, his fingers moving up and
    back and over and across the keys so quickly and intricately that my
    fully-functional eyesight couldn't keep up with them. I was stunned.

    The music his hands drew from that piano was so lovely and lyrical and
    haunting, so rich and complex and beyond anything I had imagined he
    would play that there was nothing I could say. All I could do was

    That is the power of Patrick Henry Hughes. He quietly makes you listen.

    'God Made Me Blind — Big Deal'

    "I mean, God made me blind and didn't give me the ability to walk. I
    mean, big deal." Patrick said, smiling. "He gave me the talent to play
    piano and trumpet and all that good stuff."

    This is Patrick's philosophy in life, and he wants people to know it.
    He isn't fazed by what many of us would consider insurmountable

    "I'm the kind of person that's always going to fight till I win,"
    he said. "That's my main objective. I'm gonna fight till I win."

    Patrick also attends the University of Louisville and plays trumpet in
    the marching band. The band director suggested it, and Patrick and his
    father, Patrick John Hughes, who have faced tougher challenges
    together, decided "Why not?"

    "That's right," the younger Patrick said.

    "Don't tell us we can't do something," Patrick's father added, with a
    chuckle. He looks at Patrick with a mixture of love and loyalty and
    admiration, something not always seen. in the eyes of a father when he
    gazes at his son.

    "I've told him before. He's my hero," the elder Hughes said.

    Father and Son Together at Band Practice

    Patrick's father attends every practice and every game with him, and
    learns all the routines. It's fascinating to watch them together, with
    Patrick focused on his trumpet's notes, swaying with the rest of the
    band in time with the music, and his father focused on being his son's
    eyes and legs.

    And this is no
    sit-still-in-the-wheelchair-while-the-band-marches-around-you routine:
    Patrick and his father are right in the thick of it, with the
    wheelchair sprinting and spinning in formation and Patrick hanging on
    and playing his heart out.

    Patrick says the other students in the band have been great to them.

    "The students always help out Dad because sometimes he might get out of step," he explained impishly.

    Patrick's father grins and nods. He concedes that navigating
    a wheelchair across the thick grass of a football field, in formation,
    sometimes at top speed, offers many exciting challenges for a man old
    enough to be the father of a college student. Fortunately, fellow band
    members are eager and willing to point him in the right direction.

    "The biggest problem is sometimes when I'm backing up with Patrick, I
    can't stop quick enough." he said. "I'll have a horn player behind me,
    and they've gotten smart enough now that, rather than running into
    their horn, they put their hand up."

    Blindness as a Gift and a Blessing

    Some parents might see some bigger problems in all of this. For
    example, Patrick's father works an overnight shift at a shipping
    company and gets four or five hours of sleep so he can attend Patrick's
    classes and band practices with him all day.

    Patrick's mother, Patricia Hughes, works full-time to supplement their
    income. She also takes care of the household, Patrick's medical needs,
    and siblings, and handles the concerns of every parent of a disabled
    child who looks down the road and wonders how it could possibly work

    That's just not how the Hughes family looks at things. Patrick taught them to see it all differently, his father says.

    "Back then he was born it was, 'Why us? What did we do that
    this happened to us?'" he said. "And we ask the same question nowadays,
    but we put it in a whole new light. You know, 'What did we do to
    deserve such a special young man, who's brought us so, so much."

    Patrick John Hughes' gaze drifted again to his son, and both their faces lit up with smiles.

    "He sees the world in a way that we can't even imagine," the father said.

    Just listen to young Patrick and you know what his father means.

    "I've always felt that my talent has really been a gift from God," he said.

    Patrick includes his blindness, by the way, in the list of gifts.

    "That's one of the great benefits I've found of being blind.
    I don't see the skin color, I don't see the hair length, I don't see
    the eye shape, I just see what's inside the person," he said.

    Actually, Patrick said, blindness more than a gift to him.

    "I would have to say a blessing, because overall, it's shown me a complete world."

    That's how young Patrick Henry Hughes sees the world.

    "He has so much more to teach me," his father said. "And I
    think to myself: I see just what you mean. He's taught me so much

    There's a three minute video segment available at the website...if you've the capability, be sure to watch it.  e-aw

  • So do any of y'all hit the malls or whatever on Black Friday?  I wouldn't touch 'em with a ten-foot pole, personally, having spent years working on this day.  Thank heavens for the internet and on-line shopping!  I love it. 

    It's not precisely up-to-the-minute reporting, but there is a brief story in The Dolphin about the Dallas's visit to Bahrain: 
    USS Dallas departs Bahrain following port visit

  • Amazing how the LORD works out the details, isn't it?  This evening I got to chat with Alex (who arrived back from Okinawa on Thanksgiving evening, Japan time), and he told how he'd asked one of the interpreters there in Vladivostok to buy a particular something for Dmitry (it's to be his Secret Santa gift, so I don't want to give it away), explaining who he was.  The jazz festival was covered by the local television news station, and after interviewing the head honchos with the Navy band, they then requested an interview with Alex!  Permission being given, the interview took place.  He said it started off as would be expected, with his name being asked, how long he'd  been in the Navy, etc. but then came the "So, how are you enjoying your first visit to Russia?" query, to which Alex responded he was very pleased to be there as he has a young brother who'd been adopted from Russia three years ago, so it's great to be able to visit Dmitry's homeland, and so on.  According to him this angle really piqued the interest of the interviewer.  I don't remember what all Alex said was asked and he answered, but the interpreter (who, of course, had been present for translation) afterwards told him it was so wonderful to hear a positive story about adoption, as it's generally not highly regarded in Russia.

    Isn't that something though?  We adopt Dmitry, Alex joins the Navy, gets posted to Japan, then goes to Russia to perform in a jazz festival, and winds up being interviewed on Russian television and talks about Dmitry's adoption, thereby providing a rare positive news story about a Russian orphan adopted to the U.S.  Sadly, most news stories in Russia about that topic tend to be about the tragic deaths of the adopted children at the hands of their new parents.  Isn't it fabulous that our Alex was able to present it in a favorable light, by saying how he loves Dmitry, and so on?

    I've emailed our Gladney interpreter in Russia, wondering if she can possibly locate the interview at the Vladivostok news station website (assuming there is such a thing, but I'm confidant there is).  We'd love to see it!

    Oh, and happy, happy day!  When Alex sets sail for three months in January or February, Beth and Hannah are going to fly home to Texas!  e-banana

  • 32582556

    Hope y'all had as spiffy a Thanksgiving as we did!  We gathered at Elaine's house for The Feast, and it was quite splendid.  She sets lovely tables, and the food was wonderful (even if I says it as shouldn't, seeing as how I contributed to the cause) would never suspect there wasn't a grain of wheat flour present.  ;^)

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    Above is the actual dining room; additional tables were in the den, including one designated for the kids:

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    Speaking of kids, here's some of 'em:

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    This was taken prior to Brianna's arrival, and of course Hannah's in Japan, and Cole wasn't able to be with us.  I liked this next photo, as ISTM it nicely captures the post-feast stupor:

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    Elaine and Kirstin:

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    Thought this was a nifty photo of Jessica:

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    And by jingo, there are few things more traditional at Thanksgiving than a parade, so here they came!

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    That's Jonathan admiring his nieces as they march noisily past.  

  • Well, darn.  Looks like Alex is probably stuck in a hotel in Okinawa for Thanksgiving, due to a multiplication of factors including problems with the airplane and big storms.  Poor band members kept loading their stuff onto pallets and hauling it to the airport (though maybe it's loaded onto pallets AT the airport?), only to have to reverse the process when the flights were cancelled.  Exhausting business!  

  • Charles called just now; they'll be underway soon.

    Asked him what he's been doing, and in true Charles fashion said "Sleeping!"  That and watching movies and eating at the NEX.  From what I could tell, he's been mostly staying on base this time.

    And here's good news!  When he spoke with Summer last Friday, he learned she's wearing wigs (due to her head being shaved) and back driving, so she's clearly feeling much better. 

  • Some things defy comment.

    Google's stock being over $500 per share is one of 'em.