Uh oh, she’s back in the wayback machine

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My friend and resident of Albuquerque told me that the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is well nigh….

Yup, starts October 6.

Let’s start with this query…how in the utter $#*&!!! did it get to be October already?

So I was telling my mom I’m considering going to ABQ for the fun and staying with my friend as she lives near the right part of town.

Then I said “of course, anymore it’s a complete pain in the ass to go to the fiesta”

That kicked off a step right into the wayback machine.

She said “yeah, remember how it used to just be in a big empty field and we’d go and get right up close, your dad would talk to the balloonists and before you know it, we’d all be holding a corner of cloth, helping them inflate it? That doesn’t happen anymore.”

No, it sure doesn’t.

Remember when the Balloon Fiesta didn’t have sponsors? It was just a bunch of ballooning guys getting together for some fun and competition.

Remember when they flew out of Cutter Field? Yeah, that flight path used to take them over our house in the northeast heights (somewheres around Montgomery and San Pedro). I used to dash out to the backyard and wave and try to talk to the balloonists. They were always nice, good for a wave at least if they were low enough.

I remember drinking scalding hot chocolate out of that battered green Coleman thermos, trying to warm my hands and frozen nose, bundled up against a cold October morning at like, oh-dark-thirty.

We’d help some guy my dad just met (my dad never met a guy he didn’t know) get his balloon off the ground, then we’d leap into our battered blue and white Chevy Blazer and help chase.

Ya can’t do that anymore. Insurance and progress and all that rot, I suppose.

I also remember when I used to work for Honeywell back in 1993. That’s when the balloons had already moved to their new location, the Balloon Fiesta Park, which is catty corner to Honeywell. It was HELL getting to work, but I’d go inside, get a cup of coffee, then go back outside with all my coworkers and watch the morning show. Special shapes day was always the best.

When it gets to be this time of year when the nights and mornings are cold but the days warm up nicely, I still look to the sky hoping to see ornaments hanging there, listening for the whoosh of propane. The conditions aren’t right here in the Bay Area. Sometimes I sure miss a sky hung with colorful balloons. Nothing like it in the world.

Just because you *can* doesn’t mean you *should*

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That whirring sound you hear is my departed father spinning in his grave as I write this.

Read Albuquerque Tribune columnist Thelma Domenici today regarding when it is appropriate to wear a bolo tie…..

Evidently it’s the Official Neckwear of New Mexico.

First the Official Cookie and now this? WTF have those legislators been doing since I left my fair state?

So Thelma in her incredibly polite and well worded way says, “…men will need to look at local customs and attire to determine whether a bolo tie would be appropriate.”

Yeah, is it? Ever?

My dad eschewed actual ties for years and my mom couldn’t GET him to wrap a strip of fabric around his neck. Nope, it was bolo ties only for him. For years. He was an engineer. That means a short sleeved white button shirt, bolo tie and pocket protector (I’m not making this up, I swear I wish I was).

He had quite the collection. I have many of them now. If only to keep someone else (like my brother…also an engineer) from donning them….

I know, I know…it’s a Southwest thang. But it just smacks of seventies Urban Cowboy trying too hard. I know there are some beautifully handcrafted bolo ties out there that are more like art than a string tie…but still.

Unless you are headed out to an Engineers Retiree’s Banquet…the answer is…no.

To borrow from Thelma’s catchphrase…not looking like a dork never goes out of style….

Side note to Bill Richardson: Nice idea, doesn’t help yer 4 percent-er situation…..

Ruminations

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Going to borrow a page from Natalie over at Petroglyph Paradox and mull over the implications of Father’s Day a little bit. Though I’m a day late (and a dollar short), as the old saying goes.

My dad was an odd fellow. Odd in all sorts of ways. My sister who is mother to a couple boys with as yet undiagnosed problems has been forced to read up on the markers for autism. My sister has said that had my father been born in a different time, he probably would have been tapped as a high functioning autistic.

He was smart as hell and obsessive about numbers. He worked hard but had a nasty temper. I chalk up the temper to being of fiery Irish and German descendentcy. His full-blooded Irish mother is the only person I ever knew who could yell at HIM. And boy did she.

He was bitterly type A. He put in a hell of a career at Sandia Labs, was an engineer to the core, and probably was a better man that I ever gave him credit for.

I could talk a lot about all the bad things he did to me personally, or the bad things I saw him do to my siblings and mother. But at the end of the day, there wasn’t any sort of physical abuse, no. I don’t want to mislead. He never laid a hand on us. He just had a cruel mind and would say hateful things in a fit of fury. And words can hurt too.

So I won’t talk about the fact that he was a bitterly mean and insecure man who lashed out at his family because he could.

I also won’t raise him up as the model of a father, then join hands and sing the praises of dad.

What’s it’s taken me most of my life to learn is that he was an incredibly imperfect person. Fraught with fears about boogeymen around every corner and demands for us to be better, he actually did try very hard to run his family.

Out of three kids, we all turned out with our fair share of “issues”, but we also turned out to be three decent people, all contributing members of society. In the case of both of my siblings, marriages and kids of their own. So I guess to raise three more or less well adjusted kids, he must have done a few things right, in the end.

And so I’ll give him credit for that.

On this Father’s Day, some two years after his passing, I didn’t exactly miss him. He never liked celebrations of holidays and such. I was sort of relieved that I didn’t have to find some meaningless gift and card to send. It’s nice to be “off the hook”. Instead of mourning my Dad, I spent the day with my partner’s Dad who is chock full of his own set of insecurities and missteps, but is a hell of a good man.

And it doesn’t pass my notice that he reminds me in many ways of my own father.

But the one thing that the father of my love remembered to do that my own forgot was to love his child unconditionally.

I’ll take that as the lesson for Father’s Day…and Mother’s Day…and every day.