Bill Owen

The Vacation Goeth Before The Fall (6/24/2018)

Sorry it’s been so long since the last update.  Typing with one hand really slows you down!  Let me tell you about how a great vacation can change in a Mexican momento!

Kent and I wanted to return to beautiful Cozumel this year so, luggage and passports in hand, off we flew Dallas-Houston-Cancun-Cozumel on May 16th

SO excited!  Got to the hotel, checked in, a couple of drinks for Happy Hour then off on the town.  We were back!

The night was awesome.  Great food, a nice stroll through town, followed by our Cozu tradition of a nightcap at Senor Frog’s.  But the town was dead;  of course, it was Wednesday, off-season, and only two cruise ships had called that day and they were both gone.  It became a fairly early night for us but the day had started at 2:30a.m., so we headed back to the room with plans to start in earnest after a good night’s rest.

Dawn came early, beautiful and warm, and with our morning refreshments we sat on the balcony and watched all three cruise ships arrive and dock—all Carnival.  This was a good thing, because even though we’ve never been aboard a Carnival ship (or any other, actually!), Carnival passengers are a BLAST.  Plus, our resort—Ed Cid Cozumeleño—offers cruise shippers a day-pass option to their pool area, so when the fleet’s in port it is PARTY TIME by “our” hotel’s pool!

The day didn’t disappoint…the early part, anyway.  After a delicious, sun-drenched, waterside breakfast, a stop at the bank to exchange US$ for Mex$, and a quick slathering of SPF30, it was pool time.  Except it was barely 10am, and the pool was still a little chilly but the large hot (warm?) tub was hoppin’ with Carnival folks.  The warm-tub also has a swim-up bar counter—which I swear is purely coincidental to this story.  In the tub we joined two retired firefighter/EMT’s from the ATL, their wives and their 19-ish old sons.  What a GREAT crowd!!  As the day wore on and the drinks kept flowing, my sweet Kent was out beer-ing me (which NEVER EVER happens!) two to one.  Of course, I had taken my diuretics that morning, so one beer in meant two trips to the baño for me, which essentially slowed my pace.  We were having a GREAT day.

Lunch, eaten from the hot-tub was light, delicious, and so Yucatan.  But we could see the storm clouds moving in—nice metaphor!—and the deluge soon started. About 3pm Kent and I closed out our tab, wished our hot-tub peeps a great rest-of-the-cruise, and we headed to our room.  Once inside we took off our wet things and while Kent used the facilities I went to put the suits on the balcony to dry overnight.

And that’s when it happened. As I came back into the room I was suddenly airborn, and while the takeoff was smooth, the landing was not one I was able to walk away from.  I fell with all my (considerable) weight directly onto my right upper shoulder.  When I hit I felt, and actually heard, the crack of the bones.  I must have yelped, because Kent came running from the bathroom, yelled “Oh my God!!” and ran to help me.  I told him I thought my shoulder was broken, and as he helped me sit up the blinding pain confirmed that something was badly wrong.  Because of the pain I was pretty shaky and weak, so try as we might we could not get me off the floor onto the bed.  Kent stood up and declared, “I AM GOING TO CALL FOR HELP!!” sounding as if he were about to call in a dozen knights on white horses.  “Really?” was my completely exasperated answer as I looked up him from the cold tile floor.

Now let’s review the scene.  We had both taken our wet trunks off, so we had no clothes on. I, in particular, was butt-ass nekkid stuck on the floor, slowly freezing both cheeks solid onto the cold marble floor, and was not exactly prepared to “receive” strangers.  Sure, I thought, call the cavalry for help, as long as they are strong, blind, and will sign non-disclosure agreements.  Finally, though, we were able to get both underwear and jean shorts on me, and after Kent dressed he called the front desk for ayuda.

My first rescuer came to the door.  He was a lobby bellman, about 200 years old, and weighed no more than 80 pounds.  He had brought an old, clunky, huge transport chair with a broken seatbelt.  Besides still wondering how I was going to get off the floor, there was no way he could help me, and no way the chair would fit in one of the tower’s airplane-bathroom-sized elevators.  Enough of my high-school Spanish came back to ask him ¿cómo bajamos al primer piso? How do we get to the first floor?  Escaleras abajo he replied.  Down the stairs.  I so did not think so, at least not with the world’s oldest Mayan sherpa as my rescuer!  ¡Absolutamente no!  Finally he was replaced with an English-speaking staff member who said they’d call an ambulance.

Within minutes the paramedics arrived—two big, burly guys and a wispy, beautiful young lady—and guess who the powerhouse was?  Yep.  She had me up in the chair with no pain in seconds and moments later I was in the ambulance on the way to the “Commercial” (good) hospital.  The hospital was as spotless and modern as any I’ve ever seen.  After popping in an IV and giving me some awesome pain meds, it was off to x-ray where both of the patients ahead of me were Americans.  I was seeing a pattern.  I found out the Hospital Comercial was primarily for International visitors, expats or wealthy Mexicans, while the Hospital Publico was for the “rest” of the populace.  I was in no mood to quibble.  The care was outstanding.

Pain relieved, x-rays done, the doctor (who looked like Mario Lopez and spoke perfect English) came in with the films to explain that my shoulder was indeed fractured in two places, directly under the ball of the shoulder bone.  He said surgery would be needed, and both Kent and I said we would prefer to have that done at home, *if* I was cleared to travel.  He said I was fine to fly, fitted my arm in a sling, gave us our paperwork and a a doggie bag of pain meds, and called a cab for us.

Back at the hotel, we knew vacation was over early, and there was no way I could get onto the Cozu-Cancun puddlejumper.  I talked Kent through how to get us passes online AA.  The next morning (of course) dawned achingly perfect, with the sun and the wáter beconing.  Unfortunately, we had to pack and shower—for one-armed me, no easy feat (it’s gotten easier since!).  We went down to Brunch where the staff could NOT have been more accomodating (I wonder why?).  I wasn’t even charged for my meal.  At checkout the staff was more than accomodating, with the Front Office/Reservations Manager telling us not to worry about the early checkout and that they would make certain we were not penalized—and our Wyndham points would be refunded.

At the Cozumel airport, the American Airlines staff was so sweet.  That is not the pain meds talking.  They immediately gave us bulkhead seats in Main Cabin Extra and ORDERED us to preboard.  The supervisor then said “we don’t like to see people leave our island hurt.  Please come back again soon.” My spanish kicked in again and I said “un día regreso, yo lo sé.”  She blinked twice then said “that’s a Gloria Estefan song isn’t it?” “Well, yeah, but it fits!!”  We all laughed, and they wished me well.  Through Mexican immigration in 90 seconds, and a few beers later we preboarded.  On climb out from Cozumel I looked out over the island, the cenotes, the beautiful beaches and Carribean waters.  Yes, I thought.  Un día regreso, yo lo sé.  Es la verdad.

Bill

 

I LOVE L.A.! (I LOVE IT!) (5/10/2018)

I love to travel, and I certainly do have my favorite destinations.  And one of them is Los Angeles.  And why not?  95% of the time it’s beautiful, sunny, warm, and for an airplane geek LAX is perhaps THE best plane-watching airport in the country, if not the world.  Great beaches, amazing food, celebrities, show business, what’s not to love?

So after a pleasant and uneventful flight from Dallas to the SoCal, I get to the Avis car rental pickup near LAX.  My assigned car, a white Toyota Camry, didn’t have a key in it so I had to go back to the Customer Service kiosk, where an Asian woman with a thick accent was in the middle of throwing a fit at the agent.  “How you can give me a car that is WHITE?  I ask for RED car!  I no drive a car that is WHITE!”  and I mean she is full-on hissy-fitting this scene.  The Avis agent, bless his heart, is non-plussed by this hysteria and says repeatedly “Ma’am let me see what I can find.” 

He is click-clicking on the keyboard as she becomes more and more worked up.  Shouts were becoming shrieks and the accent was getting thicker as she got madder.  I was thinking “she’s gonna blow!!!”  as the meltdown continued.  Of course, I had noticed a HOT red Mercedes in a Premium spot just outside the office door, and wondered if that was what she was working to scam the agent out of.  But she keeps hissy-fitting, for a good four minutes.  Finally he hands her new paperwork and keys to a red….Ford Fusion.  “That not the one I wanted!” she screams.  And out of nowhere the Avis agent, who did not at all look Asian, raised his eyebrows and starts to bark at her for a good two minutes in what I believe was Cantonese.  Looking shocked, she eventually gave him a haughty stare, took the keys, and stormed out. 

I was next in line, and before I walked up to the counter I quietly asked him “You need a minute?”  He says “nah, we get those all the time.  This just happens to be when a lot of the flights from Asia arrive.”  I blurted out “MAN, you did an INCREDIBLE JOB with her!!!!!!  Where did you learn that language??”  He just looks at me, smiles and says “This is LA.  You learn!”  Then he asked me what I needed and I told him I needed keys for my car.  He asked for my name, told me to wait a sec…..printed out some paperwork….and handed me the paper and a set of keys and thanked me for my business.

I drove out of the lot in the red Mercedes.  In just a few minutes I was rollin’ down….Imperial Highway….big nasty Husband at my side….Santa Ana winds blowin’ hot from the north…..we were born to ride…..

I LUV LA!  (And I love what being nice to customer service people can do!)

The True Squirrel Story (4/28/2018)

I love to laugh.  My whole family does.  We laugh at weddings, we laugh at funerals, we laugh THAT we laugh.  We all laugh, all the time.  At, and through, almost anything.  And I come from a very long line of pranksters, on both my paternal and maternal sides.  Which has always given us that much more to laugh at!  But just to illustrate how laughter can help heal in the midst of sorrow, I need to tell you the squirrel story.  Some of you may have heard parts of the story, but few of you have heard it all.  So allow me to pull a Paul Harvey on you and give you “the rest of the story.”

My sweet-and-sour mom, Dorothy, passed away just after midnight on a very foggy December 12, 2007.  She was 79, and her decline and passing were both quick and quiet.  We never had a chance to say those all important words of farewell.  (No need for the “I Love You” scene.  We all knew how much we loved each other.)  Our family got through the funeral and its aftermath the same way we have gotten through everything—we laughed through tears, then we laughed about that, knowing that that is just the way our family does it. 

Then January came, and with the holidays over, moods got heavy.  I missed my Mom dearly.  We all did.  To compound that, my Mom’s sister, “Munner,” had gone into the hospital on New Year’s Eve and was declining by the day (I’ll always think she died of a broken heart over the loss of her best friend, her sister, Dorothy Wayne Owen).  But we supported each other completely and tried our best to keep our spirits up.

One bright January morning I woke up, got out of bed and went into the bathroom to do what everyone does in the bathroom when they wake up.  And when I looked down in the toilet bowl, I saw…..something.  Fluffy, wet, with big eyes, looking up at me, and obviously not living.  At first I thought it was a stuffed toy animal, which turned out being halfway right.  I (literally) rubbed my eyes, turned the light on, and realized it was…….a dead squirrel.

In my toilet.  Dead.  And Ex-squirrel.  Its metabolic processes were history.  He’d shuffled off his mortal coil and joined the choir invisible.  (If squirrels sing, that is.)

Both of my dogs were still sound asleep, so I knew our little visitor hadn’t done an Esther Williams water-dance number before making its final dive into the pool.  (The dogs would have had a fit!!!)  But I remembered that squirrels seldom travel alone, so I quickly and nervously looked in the hamper and the shower to make sure the squirrel’s little friends hadn’t assembled for its funeral.

I knew not to try and flush the little guy back down (I didn’t need a clogged commode to compound the already strange day!), so I needed to extract the little bugger from its watery grave.  But how??  Kitchen tongs, I thought!  I’ll get those!  So I ran to the kitchen, came back, grabbed the little thing’s shoulders, and pulled.  No-go.  That squirrel had birthin’-hips that were stuck in the drain.  So with both hands I yanked again.  POP went the rodent!  I pulled it out………and had nowhere to put it. So one more trip into the water for the poor thing and one more quick trip to the kitchen and back to the bathroom with a plastic WalMart bag.  As trash pickup was not for 3 days, I put the little plastic-wrapped carcass in the garage deep freeze.  And yes, I threw the tongs away.

On the way into the office later that morning, I called my cousin Melissa, who was with Munner (her mother) in the hospital.  I told her the strange happenings of my morning, and she said “wait, let me put this on speaker….tell Munner.”  And I did.  Then I heard Munner start to laugh and she said “Billy, that’s just Dorothy pulling a joke on you!!!”  My cousin and I laughed with her, I told her I’d call back later, and hung up.  Then I pulled into a parking lot and had a big ol’ ugly cry. 

As I cried, I Iaughed.  And when I stopped crying, I laughed some more.  That SO did sound like a prank Mom would pull.  Even though we never got to say goodbye, our history of love and laughter would, and did, see us through.  It still does on dark evenings or warm summer days when I find myself missing Miz Dorothy.

That, friends, is just one of the ways you can laugh your way through the chaos that tragedy will eventually come into all of our lives.  Laugh at what was good as you cry at what was lost.  Dr. Seuss said it best—“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”  You get through it—and I still giggle about it, and not cry, when I think about the squirrel, the prank, and my Mom!

More new content soon, so please return.  And remember to laugh today!

 

Bill 

 

WELCOME TO THEBILLOWEN.COM! (4/23/2018)

Hey, thanks for finding my website!  Stay a spell and look around.  There is something here for everyone who remains among the living (with a healthy nod to those who we’ve lost!).  You’ll note there are six tabs each with something different:

  • Tab 1—My Life. That’ll be this page, and the first non-site-map piece will go up in exactly one week.  It’s about just the crazy, funny stuff that happens in my life—believe me, a camera crew should follow me 24/7.  It’d be like a cross between “America’s Funniest Videos” and “Modern Family” with a healthy dose of “The Amazing Race” thrown in.    Seriously!  Content will be updated frequently so bookmark me and come back a LOT!
  • Tab 2—Food From the Heart. True confession:  I’ve been a foodie all my life.  I came by it naturally, as my aunts, uncles, and grandmother were all fantastic cooks.  And I was fortunate enough to be given the recipe collections of both my mom *and* my grandmother (Nannie, whose real name was Dollie Sue.  For real.), so I’ve got the historical cred.  But after watching the greats on television such as Julia, Jaques, and a local favorite, David Wade, I learned that no recipe is sacred.  We can change them up, or even come up with our own.  Come to this tab when you want to get hungry, get inspired to cook, or just find something awesome that will astound, and satisfy, your friends and family!
  • Tab 3—Behind the Badge. You’d have live in a cave somewhere to have missed how controversial the profession of Law Enforcement has become, and not always deservedly so.  As the father of a Police Officer I’ve heard the stories, both good *and* bad, and am drawn to read them whenever I see one in the media.  Here both my son and I will be presenting the good, AND the bad, of this frightening, complex, dangerous, and always important profession.
  • Tab 4—Gaming. Get your game on!  Written by my husband, this will become your source for all things gaming—from board games to RPG games to casino games to gaming conventions.  A little GenCon blow-by-blow, anyone?
  • Tab 5—Mature Travel.  Ready For Takeoff! I love to travel, and always have.  And as I have gotten older the best ways to travel have changed–I’m not a back-packer anymore.  Hell, my idea of roughing it is staying in a Holiday Inn instead of a Hilton or a Hyatt!  This page will concentrate on how to do it right—and note that “right” doesn’t always mean “cheap.”  If you’re on vacation sometimes you can splurge a bit on some things while saving on others.  It’s all about the how, and I’m going to SHOW you the how–and how to deliver on the WOW!
  • Tab 6—The Write Stuff.  Make no mistake, I love to write.  And I have lots of stories in me, which I’m eager to share.  On The Novel I’ll send one chapter a time as I finish them then invite comments.  (Legal notice, though:  y’all won’t get bylines.  😊)

So that’s what’s on the site.  We’re happy with it, just as we’re happy with life.  Come along on our crazy, careening, satisfying journey with us!!!  Remember, new content on this page in just a few days.  As they said in the closing creds of “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “Y’all come back now, y’hear?”