475th Tactical Fighter Wing

Eagle 05

In January 1968, the 475th Tactical Fighter Wing was activated at Misawa Air Base, Japan, replacing the 39th Air Division as the host unit, with the 439th Combat Support Group being replaced by the 475th Combat Support Group that controlled the base support units.

From Misawa, aircraft and personnel of the 67th, 356th and 391st TFS rotated six aircraft every ten days to Kunsan and Taegu Air Bases in South Korea performing Nuclear alert duty.

The 475th ABW also gradually closed down many of its widely dispersed installations, sites and facilities, consolidating them as well as assisting in the closing of Tachikawa Air Base in September 1977.

I was in the USAF from July 01, 1969 – June 30, 1973. I served my entire 4 year enlistment with the 475th Tactical Fighter Wing being stationed in Misawa, Japan, Kunsan, Korea and Ubon, Thailand. After my enlistment ended because of a presidential order forbidding any promotions for enlisted men I worked for McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in St. Louis, MO for 13 years, building F4 Phantom fighter/bombers, F-18 Hornets for the Navy, F-15 Eagle fighter/bombers for the Air Force, AV8B Harrier VTOL jump jets for the Army as well as Harpoon & Cruise missiles for the Navy.

During my deployment to Southeast Asia I got a chance to work on Jolly Green giant helicopters, Puff The Magic Dragon gunships and C-130 gunships loaded with the mini gatling guns. I even worked on the C-130 mechanic’s plane that worked on the SR-71 high altitude spy planes that replaced the U2 spy planes. The “Blackbirds” were amazing aircraft!

For my 4 year service I received an education in electronics that provided me with a job for the next 40 years before retiring in 2010 from Intel Corporation in Hillsboro, OR. Unfortunately I wasn’t granted a disability claim for exposure to agent orange even though it was my F4 bombers that carried and dropped those agent orange canisters. I was more exposed to agent orange than those it was dropped on but the military somehow thought since I was never actually on the ground in Vietnam my claim was turned down after a 2 year fight. My VA Medical status also treats me as a 2nd class Veteran for the same reason. I am not a happy camper and have little respect for the VA.

A Touch Of Beauty

All of my neighbors are senior citizens. Most are women but there are a few married couples living in tiny units just like mine. Some have tiny flower gardens out in front of their units as I do. Some rent a spot in the local town’s community garden plots. All do what they can to personalize their new homes that may be their last residence on this planet. There’s a high turnover rate in our little community.

One of my nextdoor neighbors always puts in a tiny flower garden each year. She cares for her grandkids almost on a daily basis and the little kids love to play outside in the garden area.

Garden Figures

Little Boy Playing 01

Little Boy Playing 02

Signs Of Summer

Memorial Day weekend is here along with the tradition time to plant your tomatoes. The Spring crops of radishes and lettuce have already been harvested once and replanted for another crop. I can only tell you my breakfast radishes were delicious, my first garden harvest in 12 years.

I planted 5 tomato plants yesterday that were only a total of $2.95 from my local garden center. I bought the “Fantastic” variety that grow to about 3″ diameter, perfect for salads. Since they’re growing as I post this story I’ve included a Google Images photo of that variety to show you what they will look like. 5 plants should more than keep me satisfied so my neighbors are starting to get in line for any excess I might share. LOL Funny how many instant friends you acquire with a garden. 🙂

My backyard critters were all out yesterday as well. The squirrels came running out of the woods next door to my building 2-3 at a time. O also had a baby chipmunk staring at me from 4 feet next to me on the sidewalk. They’re not shy, just fast! LOL

So Summer is upon us here in New England, the last area to warm up. I’m loving this year’s extra rainfall that pulled us out of the drought we’ve suffered from the last few years. Everything is lush and growing rapidly. Praise the Lord!

Breakfast Radishes

First Breakfast Radishes

“Fantastic” Tomatoes

Fantastic Tomato Species

Rocky the squirrel

Rocky 02 2017

Rocky’s First Portraits of 2017

I sent some time outside today just sitting in my chair photographing things within 20 feet of my front door. There’s always plenty of critters around. There were 3-5 squirrels in range but I missed a shot of a baby chipmunk 5 feet from my chair. He was just too quick! There’s a flower garden with bearded lilies up and soaking up the sunshine as well as my garden with its freshly planted 5 tomato plants. I picked all 5 up for $2.95 at my favorite garden center at Koopmans Lumber & Hardware, just a 1/4 mile down the hill from my home. They had a tremendous variety of tomato plants in stock with more coming every day. It’s tomato planting time and their lovely experts are eager to fill your basket and vehicle. I managed to find a home for all five of my tomato plants. The variety I chose is known as “Fantastic” tomatoes, not to be confused with “Super Fantastic” tomatoes. LOL

My next door neighbors saw this portrait of Rocky taken this morning. They thought it was amazing although they didn’t realize my background as a Nation Geographic animal photographer. All they see are pesky critter eating their birdseed and munching on their plants.

Rocky

Rocky 01 2017

Rocky 02 2017

“Fantastic” Tomatoes

Fantastic Tomato Species

Fantastic Tomato Plant In Bucket

Flower of the Day – May 27, 2017 – Bearded Iris

http://ceenphotography.com/2017/05/26/flower-of-the-day-may-26-2017-bearded-iris-2

I love to visit Cee’s blog site because she lives back in Oregon, my favorite place on earth. After living there for 10 years I know the growing seasons for every flower species. Right now bearded iris proliferate the stage, growing everywhere in the area.

My backyard in Portland was no exception. Bearded irises lined the streets and homes in the neighborhoods around me. My own backyard had two or three different color variations with a rare Siskiyou iris standing alone in all its glory.

Siskiyou Iris

Siskiyou iris #1

Bearded Iris in Uxbridge, MA

Al's Bearded Iris 01

Bearded Iris from Portland, OR

Bearded Iris #8a

Bearded Iris #2 from Portland, OR

Backyard Yellow Iris #4

I Love The Rain

Have I told you how much I love the rain? I suppose some of my love comes from living in Portland, OR for 10 years. You either learn to love the rain or you move somewhere else. It’s not actually the amount of rain that makes Portland famous but the frequency that they see rain. I can remember stretches of 40+ days of measurable rainfall in a row. It rains in the Winter instead of snowing. There are exceptions to that general rule but I much prefer the warmer Winter temperatures to below freezing precipitation.

Here in New England the residents are happy that we’ve broken out of the drought conditions this area has had during the past few years. It’s a different kind of rain than I remember in the Pacific Northwest. A lot of the storms are overnight with rainfall totals often over 2 inches. The drought is over and the reservoirs and groundwater aquifers are filled. Praise God for that blessing. My little garden got a healthy drink in the last two days of storms. Everything is green and lush this Spring!

I don’t think there’s a more peaceful night to sleep than when it pours down rain all night. If it’s still raining into the morning I like to sit back with my front door wide open and just watch the rain come down.

Before New England and Oregon I lived in South Carolina for 13 years. They get 7 inches of rain more than Portland, OR for their yearly rainfall totals. You might think rain is rain until you’ve experienced a “frog strangler” thunderstorm in South Carolina. It rains so hard you can’t see your hand in front of your face if you’re outside. Rain is different everywhere you live. Thunderstorms are rare in the Pacific Northwest where they are frequent and extremely violent in the South.

So bring on the rain! Give me your best shot Mother Nature! I’m a world traveller who’s seen worse, whether it was in Aiken, South Carolina, Ubon, Thailand or Kunsan, South Korea.

Rainy Day Flowers At CSG 1

Rain Covered Roses 1

Shocking My New Friends

It’s funny the things that happen when you get to know somebody. The most unassuming person you ever meet might just be a wealth of talent, knowledge and skills. I’ve lived in Massachusetts for about 19 months now and a number of people in my circle of acquaintances are getting to know me. They’re shocked to hear that I am an avid gardener, artist, photographer, woodworker, computer guru and electronic troubleshooter for over 45 years. I teach photography, electronics and computers. I’m an expert at Photoshop and have been for better than 20 years. I used to be a world class table tennis champion, once ranked in the top 100 in the world. I even excelled in lapidary, the cutting and grinding of gemstones. I get around!

Now I’m 68 with congestive heart failure, hypertension, type II diabetes, an enlarged prostate, kidney disease, cirrhosis of the liver, gout, terrible eyesight from birth and I have a terminal case of being butt ugly! My primary care physician says we can work on everything but the butt ugly! LOL

The arthritis caused by my gout is making woodworking more difficult all the time. My type II diabetes is taking its toll on my eyesight which hampers my photograph and computer graphics skills. As the old joke goes: “My death has been greatly exaggerated”!

Still, I’d rather teach than sell, give away rather that put a price on my work, past and present. I’m at the point in my life where I’m actively trying to “play it forward” for the next generation. I will build anybody anything they desire but I won’t want a penny in return. If I don’t want to do something no amount of money can tempt me. I’m not about money.

I am about making people happy. I was recently asked if I’d be willing to donate some of my favorite photographs to a charity auction. I said yes but they would have to choose the photographs and I’d gladly sign them. You see, they’re all my favorites, some 5,000 in my collection over the past 45 years.

So, as I get to know people in new England better my circle of friends grows. I take the term friend very seriously. I have 10 of 12 that I consider friend in the whole world. I keep in touch with every one of them. Good friends are precious!

Memories Of Seniors Past

At our Senior Center in Uxbridge yesterday a fond memory of a photo I’d taken last year came to me. You see our event director, Gail, decided to start a 500 piece jigsaw puzzle on a corner table back near the computer area. I simple sign challenge anyone to help complete the puzzle. I used to love working on such puzzles so I spent a few minutes getting one edge of the outside frame completed.

Remembering a scene at the Whitinsville Senior Retirement Home I quickly looked up the picture I’d photographed of a resident in deep concentration completing his own puzzle. He had no idea I was capturing the scene that to me, was perfect. The lighting was perfect and the situation was precious. I will always save and treasure this capture that has so much meaning buried in its composition.

I have no idea the man’s name or if he’s still living at that center. I was with the Serve Team of 2016 that had volunteered to make this property more beautiful for its residents. The teenagers from across our country and Canada donated their time and work to give back to our community. I look forward to their return for this year’s Serve 2017 campaign.

The Puzzle Framed

Making Sawdust

I am a passionate woodworker. I grew up with a father & brother who were in the business of building things. My dad built houses from the ground up, trained in his native Germany until he immigrated to the United States as a teenager. My brother, Ed, grew up as I did helping our father build houses. As an adult he raised a family to his retirement working in construction in one craft or another. His farm house is a testament to his work.

In recent months I’ve returned to my love of working with my hands, to getting dirty. I’ve started my first garden in 12 years since I lived in South Carolina. I’ve begun putting together a pretty substantial set of hand and power tools that allow me a lot of flexibility in my love of woodworking. Most of all I’m having fun!

Not all my projects are successful, especially compared to some of the woodworkers I view on YouTube or PBS. No excuses here, I simply don’t have the space or money to build another shop like the one I once had in my split level home in Ferguson, MO. That basement shop with a drive-in garage had lots of room. I have had some very nice power and hand tools collected over many years, It was more than a hobby and a necessary part of raising my family while customizing my home.

So today, looking back on my 68 years on earth, I have returned to my roots, my love of all things made of wood. I drag out one of my 3 homemade workbenches and make sawdust, lots of sawdust. In some ways I entertain my senior neighbors who shuffle around in their night robes all day low and only get outside to walk their ancient dogs. I’ve still got too much life left in me to become a couch potato and basically just give up. I want to stay active and alive what the rest of my life. God’s in control of all the time I have left.

My life changes constantly so my blog has changed along with it. I’m certainly not apologizing for my new life since relocating to New England I’m just saying I still want to share my life and experiences with those who choose to stay in touch and follow my exploits. For those who choose to check up on me through my blog post I say “Welcome”! For those who wish to move on I certainly understand and wish you well. Change is inevitable. “Resistance, is futile”! 🙂

Share Your World – May 22, 2017

Share Your World – May 22, 2017

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? 

On the top of my bucket list is a cross country train trip. I doubt this will ever happen unless I win the lottery or something. I know Amtrak used to offer a program for such a ride that allows you to get off and reboard within a given time frame. That would allow me to spend a day anywhere and then board the train again to sleep overnight. Again, all that takes money, some I’m sorely lacking in retirement.

How often do you get a haircut?

About once every 6 weeks. I’m due for one now but must wait until the cash is available.

In regards to puzzles what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search or numeric puzzles?

I’ve always preferred jigsaw puzzles simply because it doesn’t require a lot of calculating or figuring out math problems. Jigsaw puzzle idly while away the hours until it’s done. I used to turn my photographs into puzzles. Walgreens has always been available to do that. About a year ago I had one made of a local scenic spot that won in a calendar contest a few months later. It came in its own tin with the same photo on top. It was well appreciated by its recipient.

A Walk In The Park #4

How many cities have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities.

15 —- Belleville, Il – O’Fallon, Il – St. Louis, MO – Ferguson, MO – St. Charles, MO – Montclair, NJ – Stockton, NJ – San Antonio, TX – Biloxi, MS – Goldsboro, NC – Aiken, SC – Graniteville, SC – Langley, SC – Beaverton, OR – Hillsboro, OR – Portland, OR – Uxbridge, MA

I’m sure I’m forgetting a few because I’ve moved so much in my life while crisscrossing the United States several times. I’ve had two 3200 mile moves in my life as well. I also lived in Kunsan,Korea, Ubon, Thailand  and Misawa, Japan. I get around. 🙂