Dot (Cormier) Bogash - Her Life in Pictures

Bob Bogash

Bob Bogash                   
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   My Dot - back in California on our 40th Wedding Anniversary - July 29, 2010

A life is such a precious thing, and if it's a long life, and one filled with adventures, then it can be a long story.  Actually, recounting it and retelling the events might be too long for some, but not for me!  That's because it's MY story - OUR story.  And now, it's all I have left.  It's a small price to pay for re-living it.  I actually make these web pages for myself and allow others to share them - if they so choose.  I'm not offended if they choose not.

As our lives come to their ends, it can be a time of sadness, but maybe the sadness can be relieved by looking back at the happy times - of which there can be many.  This is a small attempt to do just that.  In the end, it's not how you died, --  but how you LIVED!

   80th Birthday - May 14, 2016

"I want a girl just like the girl that married dear old Dad".  Isn't that how the song goes. Well, not many are so lucky, --  but I was.  A girl from the Old-School, with Old Fashioned Values - that matched mine - and then some!  Not one whose ambition was to spend, spend, spend - but one who, it turns out, had to be pushed hard just to buy something for herself.  Not one to avoid hard work.  And not one who shunned taking risks in order to savor new adventures.  For taking risks, we did.... as you'll see!

And so - buckle up -- here we go - it has been a very full life!

If you choose, you can go to the Epilogue near the bottom of this page by clicking here.

This story begins in a small group of remote islands in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence - midway between Prince Edward Island (PEI), Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland - in the Canadian Maritimes.  The Magdalen Islands.  Mostly French speaking and part of Quebec. 


Iles de la Madeleine

Some people feel they are "administratively" part of Quebec, but culturally part of Acadia - an area of French speaking people that also encompasses parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, PEI, Gaspe, Maine - and even Louisiana - home to the Acadians - with their own flag, often seen.

  Acadian Flag

There, in the Magdalen Islands, on July 9, 1918, Augustin Cormier, a carpenter and woodworker, married Celanire (aka Lynn) Sullivan in the small fishing village of Havre-Aubert. 
Augustin built a house on the water for his new wife

Augustin was a descendant of Robert Cormier, a French Protestant from La Rochelle, France who was born in 1610, and fled France to escape Catholic persecution.  Interestingly, this fact was unearthed by Dot's brother Charles, an avid genealogist - interesting because the refugees eventually all became Catholic and their Protestant ancestry became long forgotten!

  Charles' Genealogy - over 400 pages!

Robert arrived at Cape Breton, Nova Scotia on 30 March 1644 aboard the 70 ton ship Le Petit Saint Pierre, under the command of Capt. Pierre Boileau.  Over time, Robert and his wife Marie started a family, which dispersed over the years throughout the Maritimes, with many descendants settling in the Magdalen Islands.

Zooming in - from space


Havre-Aubert   ----   and finally, her House

Down at the harbor (harbour) in Havre Aubert

A picturesque and beautiful place - especially in the Summer!

In case you think it looks like that all year!   A Winter scene.

Traveling to Les Isles requires a 5 hour boat ride from PEI aboard a sizable ship.
Here it is coming past well-named Entry Island.

Friend Don Delaney took us over to Entry Island in his boat - 1997

Lotsa lobster traps!

Dot's folks - in 1918, and again about 1940

Together they had 10 children, the youngest being a girl, born in 1936, named Dorothee Jeanne.  She was born in that house, and after the death of her Mother in 1971, became the owner.  The house, still standing, is now owned by her nephew Louis and it has been extensively renovated and modernized.

  In addition, her paternal grand-father, Honore, also lived in the house.  A full household.

With 5 brothers and 3 sisters (one child was still-born) and a big age span, Dot grew up in an interesting family with her sisters doing a lot of her child-raising chores.

  Family - About 1941
Dot -  the small one in front - Honore far left
I had to learn who all these people were, and their spouses and kids.
8 brothers and sisters, 37 nieces and nephews - just for starters!

Left photo:  Kids in front of the house - Back: Armand, Marie-Anna, Martha, Viola; Front: Henri, Jacques
          Right photo:  Brothers Jacques, Charles, Armand, and Henri - and Dot in Armand's arms

With brother Louis-Philippe (left, left picture) about 1944 -- and first Communion

A determined little girl headed off to school with her briefcase
My favorite!

Her 8th Grade Report Card - not bad

A fabulous nature book with dried plants representing all the plants found in the Magdalen Islands

She showed an early aptitude in Art -- that I was completely unaware of.

Dot's father ran a construction and lumber business, building everything made from wood - from houses to churches, boats to coffins.  In late summer, Dot would ride with her mother in the cart behind their horse Nellie, helping her pick wild berries for eating and canning, while their milk cow provided the dairy essentials from their small barn. Here's Nellie - and Dot, who is sitting with their cat Gros Fred.  Guess she liked him!

 Fish and seafood formed a large part of the diet, and that's something that stayed with her throughout her life! 

Digging clams back home - and a Mackerel-Snapper with a couple of Mackerel.  Does she look happy???

  July 1947
Mom - 2nd from Left; Dad - behind baby (held by Dot).
Baby is Claire Reid - Martha's oldest daughter.
Grandfather Honore on Right with his dog Bijou

With brothers Charles and Louis-Philippe            With Gros-Fred, Dot showed an early love for cats

Again with Gros-Fred (Big Fred), and with Bijou, Grandfather Honore's dog

All the siblings
L-R Rear:  Louis-Philippe, Jacques, Armand, Henri, Charles
Front:  Marie-Anna, Dorothee, Viola, Martha
The occasion was her Father's funeral.

  1970 -  my first visit after our marriage  - they even have the streets named after the family!

The cliffs below the house..... and on a nearby beach
My first visit to the Magdalen Islands  -  it was November!

In 2003, we drove our camper 10,000 miles - from Hansville all the way to her house, and back.
That's Chiba, our dog, guarding the place.
Click here for the story


Her ancestral house - where she was born

July 2013 - Sitting in the very room where she was born - May 14, 1936


Visiting her Father Augustin (L) and Grand-father Honore (R) - Sept 2011

The house in 2004  - always the Family's focus and center of attention
Brothers Charles (L) and Armand (R)

Marie-Anna, Martha, Dot, and Louis-Philippe - the four remaining siblings - Sept 2011
Ten Little Indians - and now there is One.....

Dot attended the small Primary school in Havre-Aubert taught by her sister Marie-Anna with Principal Pere (Father) Gallant (she's in middle, right behind him.)
The school system in Quebec was (and is ) mostly run by the Catholic Church.

 ....then went off to boarding school run by the nuns in House Harbor (further north in the island chain).

  Boarding school

A 11th Birthday Book put together and signed by her classmates - Bonne Fete!

I found this towel carefully wrapped and identified in her stuff after she passed.
"Kitten towel.  Gift from Papa when I was boarding at the convent."
Even then, her father knew she was a "Cat Lady."
She'd kept it carefully preserved for over 75 years.......

After returning home, she then spent a year ('53-'54) teaching school - the 8th and 9th grades - back in Havre-Aubert.  Her class seen here - she's in the middle.
  Teacher requirements were a little "looser" back then.

After that teaching year, she moved to Charlottetown on PEI to attend Corcoran's Business College - a girl's school teaching secretarial skills.  Upon graduation, she worked for a time at Gorton Pew (fish processing company) before Helen Cox hired her to work at the MCA ticket counter at Charlottetown Airport (January 1957.)  MCA (Maritime Central Airways) was a pioneer Canadian airline founded by Carl Burke on December 7, 1941 (a date to remember!)  And so, Dot entered the aviation and airline world, where she remained for the rest of her life.

In her MCA uniform in Charlottetown, PEI - and, below,  hard at work, and at the Counter.


Connie and Dot at the Charlottetown MCA ticket counter


Christmas in Charlottetown

Aviation was important in those days, especially in the Magdalen Islands, for the Gulf usually froze over during the winter and surface travel by ship to the islands became impossible; the airplane became the lifeline.  Early on, de Havilland Rapides and DC-3s flew off the beach, until an airport was built at Grindstone (CYGR.)  Dot frequently shuttled back to the M.I. to fill in for station staff on leave or vacation.  The flights went to Charlottetown and Summerside on PEI, where connections were made to Moncton, Halifax, and other Maritime locations.


An amazing letter from the Magdalen Islands County Council to MCA praising Dot's posting, thus providing a French speaking airline agent from the Magdalen Islands at the Charlottetown Airport.
 (Apparently, they did not have one before!)

MCA Christmas Party in Charlottetown - Dot on the right
Looks like Dot's date is trying to grab a free feel....

In August of 1991, there was a 50th Anniversary MCA Reunion in Charlottetown, which we both attended.

  Here you can see Dot with her first boss - Helen Cox (L)  and with her good MCA friend Connie (Rogers) Cancino.
Helen must have hired her Counter Agents based on their looks!

In Charlottetown, Dot became good friends with a fellow worker named Connie Rogers (see above.)  The two of them decided Canadian winters were not to their liking and so determined to head for warmer climes.  They approached Carl Burke, who was good friends with Col. Joe Mackey - who had also started an airline - Mackey Airlines in Fort Lauderdale, that flew between Florida and the Bahamas.  Col. Joe agreed to hire the women (1959), who then traded mukluks for palm trees.  After about a year, her roommate Connie married a Bahamian and moved to Nassau.  Dot, now without a roommate, also missed her family and moved back to PEI, while Connie stayed on with Mackey.   MCA was eventually bought - in 1963 -  by EPA (Eastern Provincial Airways) based in Gander, and so Dot began working for the new combined airline known as EPA.

Dot in Ft. Lauderdale - chased by another guy.
Take your hands off her - you brute!

Sunbathing at PEI (L) and Ft. Lauderdale (R)

In the mid-60s, she spent about a year working in Fort Smith in the Northwest Territories (NWT) - chasing some Mountie in a relationship that went bust - he might have made a better husband (???) -  then, with a number of siblings living in Montreal, she moved there and began working for another small Canadian airline - Nordair.  Nordair flew scheduled flights in Ontario and Quebec, into the Canadian Arctic and charter flights to the Caribbean and Europe.  That's where our paths crossed.

                             A Glamour Girl in a photo booth      

                    ...... Who was also active in Curling


Dot worked out of Sarnia, Ontario one winter - where Nordair flew in with de Havilland Doves.

Our Paths Cross

In 1968, I was the Boeing Field Rep in New York, covering La Guardia and Newark Airports, and with an office in Pan Am Hangar 18 at JFK Airport.  One day in August, I got a letter from my boss Andy Jones, telling me I was being transferred, and was to open a new Boeing Base at Dorval Airport (CYUL) in Montreal.  I would support, as usual, all the other Boeing operators there, but my primary assignment was to help the small regional Canadian airline Nordair introduce the Boeing 737 twin-jet into their all piston-engined antique airplane fleet.  I drove to Montreal on a weekend in September to kind of scope things
out and then in October moved to Dorval, Quebec.  I introduced myself to Nordair and began working there with an office in their Hangar 5.

View from my office window in Hangar 5 - looking through the hangar

For the first 6 months, especially, my job at Nordair was very much a 24/7 operation. I was single and had no family responsibilities, nor did I know anybody outside the airline itself.  With just one airplane, and essentially no prior experience with jets, Nordair kept me more than busy.  The new 737 was also experiencing a lot of teething problems. I flew with the airplane much of the time during the day, and worked on it in the hangar all night.  But I was an eager beaver with a lot of energy and thought it was great.

                     Nordair Boeing 737 in flight  -- and at Nanasivik on Baffin Island - a gravel strip.

As a small airline, Nordair had a very small workforce, and it wasn't long before I knew everyone there - from pilots and stewardesses to mechanics and office personnel.  That included the ticket counter staff.  I came to know Dot because she came to the Hangar from the Terminal after work every day to catch a ride with Jimmy McLaren - their Personnel Director - who drove by her place and gave her a ride home.

One Saturday summer afternoon, about August 1969, I was "on-the-job" as usual.  Since it was late afternoon, it was probably the Barbados charter that left around 6 PM - a flight I took many times - Montreal - Toronto - Nassau - Barbados, and return.  It was about a 27 hour marathon.  With nothing to do in my small studio apartment, I hung around the airplanes - of course!  I went out to Gate 6 - Nordair's gate at Dorval, and sat in the cockpit with the pilots shooting the breeze, while they prepared for the flight.

The boarding lounge slowly filled up as departure time approached.  Eventually, I wished the flight crew well, proceeded to the back of the airplane, down the mobile steps and started walking towards the Gate.  That's when Dot flung open the Gate door and half-ran across the tarmac to intercept me.  She was working the flight and got very nervous when she saw me coming from the airplane.  Like everyone else at the airline, she figured I only showed up when there was something wrong - the airplane was broken.  She wasn't looking forward to any big mechanical delay to have to work through with a boarding lounge full of passengers, who sometimes could get irate.

"Is there something wrong with the airplane?" she asked nervously. "No, nothing wrong", I said.  "Good", she said, "I saw you go out to the airplane and thought something might be wrong."  "Nope, everything is OK" I said - and then, on a whim - one which is the genesis for this long story - I said "What time do you get off work?  Would you like to go out for dinner?"  I'm not sure if I startled her or what, - maybe I startled myself - or whether she took a long time responding, but finally she said "Yes".  She gave me her address and phone number and we set up a time.  I'm sort of guessing, but I think I took her to The Bluenose - a swank restaurant down at Place Ville Marie in downtown Montreal.

Well, I guess the first date went well, for more dates followed, and pretty soon we were seeing each other quite a bit ("going steady???").  That wasn't exactly easy, since besides my 24/7 sked, she worked rotating shifts (sometimes starting at 5 or 6 AM, sometimes at 2 PM) and rotating days off (meaning a "regular Sat/Sun weekend off" came only every 7th weekend.)  The joys of airline work - well, I was a 24/7 guy and could work around anything.

Flying in the North was a little "different" than flying out of New York or Chicago!



High Noon in Resolute Bay (CYRB) - the World's most Northerly airline Airport (74.72 North).
Dark all the time - in the Winter!
109 miles from the North Magnetic Pole (at the time.)
400 miles further North than Pt. Barrow, Alaska
It's about the same distance North from Montreal to Resolute as it is from Montreal to Seattle!

"Baggage Claim" at Great Whale River (CYGW) on Hudson Bay.
No baggage Carousels.

Meanwhile, in the years 1969-1971, Boeing was going through a big production and financial meltdown, and laying off people by the tens of thousands (about 80,000 all told by the time the carnage ended.) Thinking back, I was totally oblivious to what was going on, and never feared for my job.  All the airlines I was assigned to wound up offering me permanent in-house positions, so maybe I figured I always had backstops.  But mostly, I think, I was just dumb.  One of the fallout's was the closing of numerous Field Service bases, and as a survivor, I wound up picking up bases where the Reps were removed:  EPA in Gander, Newfoundland and Piedmont, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina became my customers.  Meaning a lot more time on the road.


Then, in May 1970, Nordair took a lease airplane back to owner United Air Lines in San Francisco, making it a live charter (with passengers), with the return to Montreal a week later on board a brand new 737 picked up at the factory in Seattle.  I was going both ways, and asked Dot if she wanted to come with me to see California, and parts of the West she had never seen before.  Click here for the detailed story about the flight to California and back.

California Coast and San Simeon - May 1970

She agreed - we made the arrangements - and during that trip, we came on this wonderful 200 year old Spanish Mission that we fell in love with.  It seemed the perfect place to get married - if one were to get married, that is.   Hmmmm.....I started thinking on the freeway returning to the airport.  So - like asking her out on our first date, I surprised myself again and proposed.  Like our first date, she accepted, and the rest is history.  We returned at the end of July to get married - by ourselves, having thus eloped - in the small Spanish Mission that so touched our hearts.

Lonely but beautiful Soledad Mission
The smallest in the chain of 21 Spanish Missions founded in California in the 1700s by the Franciscan friars.

The whole story in detail with lots of pictures can be found by clicking here.

Nordair threw us both big parties before the wedding (a merger of Boeing and Nordair!) and we had receptions for friends and family afterwards, both back in Montreal and New Rochelle (where my folks lived.)

    Soledad, California - July 29, 1970


A local farm family, Norma and Milton Rianda, felt sorry for this couple from afar, all alone, and decorated the small chapel with flowers and held a mini-reception in their home afterwards.

The Rianda's

We have remained close ever since, and now consider them to be very much part of our family, revisiting several times.

With Norma Rianda in Soledad (2010) and (2015) - Norma was the Hostess at our Wedding "Reception"  in 1970!

Two weeks honeymooning in California - La Jolla near San Diego (L) and Mission San Miguel (R)

High point during our Honeymoon - 10,000 ft  --  and low point Death Valley Minus 282 ft

Alabama Hills in the Owens Valley, California - and Sequoia National Park

July 29, 2010 - taken on our 40th Anniversary


We kept the families happy by having receptions on our return - some were unhappy we had eloped


At our reception in Montreal - with my Folks and Dot's Mom (center).

A copy of the picture on the right was found in her Mom's house after she passed in 1971.
On the back, it said "Dorothee and her new husband Robert.  They are very happy --- "so far." "

I think Dot's large family wondered if she hadn't gone off the Deep End, marrying some American who couldn't even speak French and planned on moving back to Seattle.  Where's Seattle???  It was bad enough when she moved away from home and went to Ft. Smith, and Ft. Lauderdale, and even Montreal. 

Well, she'll figure it out in a few years and ditch him for a more worthwhile husband... closer to home.  Someone who speaks French.

Hmmmm. since here we are on our 40th - that "worthwhile" guy better show up soon...


Meanwhile - Dot moved into my small studio apartment in Dorval and we spent the next two years there, before our next big adventure......


Domestic life and our apartment house - The Royal Dixie
Yes - it snows in Montreal !

Skiing in the Laurentians

Not me, Brother -- too dangerous!  I'll stick to flying.....

Did I say it snowed a lot in Montreal?  Over 200 inches a year!

A business trip back to Boeing in 1971 gave Dot her first taste of Seattle.
Really, Dot, it rains all the time here....... No, I'm not kidding.

  Sweetie was the first of our four cats.
She went to live with my Nordair friend Leo Jodoin.  No more cats..... came Pablo - a stray kitten that walked in New Years Day 1971.
He lived with us for the next 20 years

Marry a "Cat Lady" - Rules get bent.

Happy Wife, Long Life



I love you, Pablo.  I know you do, Mommy.


Heading to the Islands - Hawaii

In the Fall of 1971, I got another letter from Seattle, advising me of my transfer to Honolulu, to rep at Aloha Airlines.  A big change from 4 or 5 years in the frigid High Arctic!  I had been bugging my boss for quite a while about going some place without snow - like, say, Hawaii.  He finally got the message!   We made our preps and arrangements, gave up the apartment; the movers came and took our stuff - we were out-of-there! - December 31, 1971.  Except, except Myron Vogt, my replacement - coming from Dublin, got hung up, and so in a mad scramble, we had to find a new temporary apartment - where we moved to (with Pablo our cat) for 4 months - with essentially no household goods - they were in a warehouse or in-transit!  Fun.

  Then, during the delay in moving, in April 1972, Nordair had a 737 overshoot the runway while landing at night in Charlottetown during a snow storm, and I got to freeze my feet off for one last time!  Click here for the full story.

Finally - My new assignment

After driving cross-country, we sent Pablo on ahead (he had to go into a 4 month rabies quarantine), arrived in San Francisco - turned over the car to Matson Steamship Lines, and climbed on a United 747 for the Islands - our new home!  It was end of May 1972.   Neither of us had ever been there before, and the dazzle of palm trees, sand beaches, and hula girls danced in our wee little heads.  We set up shop in the Ilikai Hotel and went to work looking for a house while, of course, I was working at the same time.

   A L O H A !!!!!!!!!

Eventually, we bought a nice place in Kailua, on Kalaheo Hillside looking over Aikai Park towards Kailua Bay.

It's on the Windward side of the Island (Oahu).

Our first house!!!  Yes - and with palm trees!!!

.... and banana trees!!!!

The house purchase took about two months to settle, and while we were there in the hotel, Boeing called and asked if I would move to Israel.  Gulp - I mean, I was living in a hotel with my wife, our cat was in quarantine, our house was in escrow, our car was on a steamship enroute the Islands and our household goods were who knows where.  This was not the first nor last time I went through this exercise.  "Mobility" was one of the Field Service slogans - which was fine, as long as they knew what they were doing.  I kept showing up in places and then being asked to move before I had even found my way to the men's room in the new place.

Did anyone back there at the Kite Factory know what they were doing???  Another time, on a Saturday afternoon, I was up on a ladder painting the side of the house when Dot came to get me - someone from Seattle was calling.  He told me they wanted me to be in Venezuela --- Monday morning, to look after a hydrofoil boat they had (we had three in Hawaii - Jetfoils - that I looked after for 3 years.)  "Geez", I said, "that's pretty short notice".  He said "That's OK, it's just temporary."  "OK, how long is temporary?"  He said "Just six months."  "And then I come back to Hawaii?"  "Oh No", he said, from there we need you in Belgium to take care of more boats."  Holy Mackerel - I'd have just enough time to clean up, figure out some way to get to Venezuela in one day, and leave Dot, the cat, the half-painted house, and all our stuff - never to return.  And just how was she going to handle that mess - all by herself?  Fortunately, I was able to talk my way out of all these "great opportunities" without getting fired, but it was certainly a factor in steering me away from a full time  career in Field Service.

With no kids, our animals always played a big part in our lives.  We visited Pablo every Sunday during his 4 months in Quarantine,.... and celebrated when he got released and we finally brought him home.  A long ways from being a stray wandering in the snow on New Year's Eve in Montreal.  We wondered about the wisdom of locking him up for 4 months, but he lived with us for another 18 years, so I guess the 4 months was just a drop in the bucket.  Pablo eventually wound up living in 7 places - a well traveled cat!


Remember Gros Fred on the sled in Havre-Aubert?  I guess you could say Dot liked cats...

When I suggested Dot loved that cat more than me -- she just mumbled and never gave a definitive answer.....

When you have a cat, he sits on the furniture and you sit on the floor!


...when he doesn't sit on YOU!


...or use you for his bed

Cats are always helping you

  Thanksgiving 1972

In Hawaii, we started an Annual photo portrait of us together with the Turkey on Thanksgiving Day.  You may see a few more of these as you go through this album.

In November 1975, Dot has a big kidney stone removed - and there it is.

  Christmas 1975 - back Home from Hospital

In addition to Aloha - with over 100 737 flights/day, we also took care of 50 747 flights/day -
and for 3 years, looked after 3 Boeing hydrofoil boats (Jetfoils) that ran between the Islands.

One thing about Hawaii - you'll get the visitors.  Friends and relatives who somehow never thought much about coming to Gander, or even Montreal, all lined up for the next flight to Hawaii.  To see dear old Bob & Dot.  Geez, a Hawaiian vacation with free room and board.  That's OK - we enjoyed seeing them - mostly...sort of..... I think....


Dot's sisters Martha and Marie-Anna both came - all the way from the Magdalen Islands.
So did brother Henri from Montreal - and lots more!

Here are my folks from New Rochelle

  My Mom

Jerry and Sarah Lederer (L)  --  and Nordair Captain Art Hale (see Art's story here.)
Jerry is known as "The Father of Aviation Safety"

We also got a lot of Boeing visitors.  Eventually, in 1978, one of them, Jerry Baer, was impressed after our meeting, I guess, for he offered me a job back at the Plant working in Commercial Sales Support.  That sounded good to me - six years is more than enough time to "see Hawaii" and after the 10,000th trip around the island, I knew every bump and pothole by heart.  So, in April 1978, we sold the house, packed up one more time and moved back to Seattle.

Near the end of our Hawaii sojourn, we became first time dog owners with a beautiful Akita named Tama. She was a big part of our lives for the next 16 years.

Beautiful Tama at Marymoor Park near Seattle
    See our little yellow car in the background - Yes! we brought three big Akita's down there from the Farm in that thing!

Here's the little yellow car - 1971 Toyota Corolla  -  in Hawaii - Dot and Pablo in front; Tama in the back

The Farm

I've always been a Country Mouse, and not a City Mouse, and related to the rural scene.  For years, I used to get sales fliers from a farm real estate outfit, and visions of a nice farm, with a red barn and white fences (of course), had danced in my wee little head for many, many years.  Dot joined me in that view, and so - with our move back to Seattle - now was the time.  We rented a house in Kirkland and began our search.  It didn't take long - we found a 10 acre place near Monroe with all the requirements - and took the plunge!

A REAL Christmas card!  Our Home for 28 years.

With the requisite red barn and white fences, it was a stunning property.  Others must have thought so too, for there was a steady stream of people stopping along the road to take pictures of our place. 

And what a plunge it was!!!  With woods and fields and neighbors we couldn't even see, we had come a long ways from Montreal where our neighbor Bud Giffon had loud all-night parties, every night,  and from Kailua, where neighbor Dave Hurd owned every power saw Sears ever offered for sale (and liked to use them starting at 6 AM on the weekends.)  Our Hawaii house had no windows (that is, with glass, just screens), for half the house so - well, when I sneezed, Dave said Gesundheit.

Well-named Charley Horse Ranch

Eventually adding an adjacent 10 acres, we had 20 acres to enjoy - and keep us busy.

Move-in Day - I carried that hat around for 10 years - I knew there would come a day!

The day we moved onto the Farm - July 1978 --  and later that winter

With all that pasture, we figured we needed a few critters to keep the grass under control, so plunged again, buying 6 sheep at the farm auction.  Now we were Real farmers - and couldn't even spell Sheep!  Well, we might not have been then, but we became real farmers as our flock grew to 125 head and we ran a fresh & frozen lamb business.  We sold over 10,000 lbs of lamb/year.  As I was fond of saying, we sold everything (meat, hides, wool) except for the Baaaaa.  Caring for that many animals is no mean feat, and Dot played the key role in the day-to-day, while I acted as the muscle-bound hired hand.

Our barn cat, Barney, watching over the ewes - while Dot looks after a couple of lambs.
Lambing time was always a busy 24/7 operation!  We loved our lambs.

Some of the lambs even got raised in the kitchen!

  Sheep Shearing Day                                  Part of the flock

Ewe #57 - our very last ewe - her name was Mop Top; and Flicka, one of our two ponies.

Bear - checking out the barn roof.  Help!  Help!  Call 911 - I can't get down!

Yikes - were we ever that young???

Of course, it took little time to acquire cat #3 - a cat to keep the mice under control in his new home - our Barn.
  Naturally, his name was BarneyBarney was a real sweetheart and lived with us almost 20 years.

I built a house for Barney right outside the kitchen window, complete with windows and porch!

Never heard of a sheep-herding cat?  Well you have now!
Facing down a pair of lambs

Not long after moving to the farm, Emi Kawamoto in Honolulu - the source of Tama - our first Akita - offered us two more dogs - Yonban and Nanaban - brother and sister.  We accepted and up they came on Northwest Airlines, giving us three big Akita dogs.

Believe me, ain't no one gonna mess with Dot!

In 1971 in Montreal, Dot attended classes at McGill and became a certified English-French Translator.
In Hawaii and Seattle, she became part of the U.S. State Dept.'s on-call contract Translators.

In 1991, she announced that - after almost 20 years living in the States - she had decided to become a Citizen.
Absolutely Zero pressure from me.
After months of studying, she passed her tests and took the Oath down at the U.S. Courthouse in Seattle.
I have a video of the whole proceeding.

A BIG DAY at the Farm.
Dot decided to have orthodontia - the dentist promised 6 months - it took two years - but this was the day her braces finally came off!

In her "spare" time, she decided to learn to play the fiddle (she already played the piano - we've had one in all three houses.)
Her Dad, and some of her brothers were fiddle players - must run in the family.

I coaxed her to play a bit in her final weeks..... I took a video

.... this is the music I found she had selected.

On the farm, besides our sheep (up to 125 of them) - we added a goat, and a few ponies, here she is leading pony Flicka back to the  barn

before taking another really big plunge, we bought Prince - a 2600 lb Belgian draft horse.

Wow!  What were we thinking?  We didn't know anything about horses - except that we loved them.
  Turns out - that's enough.  They love you back.
Prince lived with us for 11 years.

Flicka the pony and Prince the draft horse

Long a big fan of draft horses - the Gentle Giants of the horse world - we had unknowingly entered one of the NW's epicenters for draft horses, where a big annual Extravaganza was held once a year in September - a mere 2 or 3 miles away.  After being a volunteer helper for a few years, we became actual horse owners, with a whole new chapter of learning in store -  about caring for our big boy.

Getting his mane braided for the big Draft Horse Show - now we were really part of it!

I found this box in her sewing room closet

Prince's show ribbon and some of his mane flowers - all hand-made by Dot


Boy - he was B-I-G!!!

Prince was a Lap Horse - he had the body of a big horse and the mind of a lap dog.
I know he would have slept in the bed if he could only figure out how to get in the laundry door.
Click here for Prince's whole story

In 2019, we attended the Annual Draft Horse Extravaganza in Monroe.  We hadn't been around the big horses in 20 years or more.

We walked into the horse barns, and, well, --  the sights and the smells -- Dot had a good cry.  Memories......

Yes, we had no kids. No two-legged ones.  Our kids all had four legs.  Big 'uns and Little 'uns.  But we'd never trade them for all the tea in China.  Every single one of them enriched our lives beyond measure.  Thinking about each and every one, I smile and get a warm feeling to this day.  People can be a problem; animals are a Blessing.

Christmas 1989 with our critters - Tama, Barney, Pablo


After being gone for 16 years - I flew over the Ranch a short time ago - July 2022


Charley Horse Ranch  -  A wonderful place with many happy memories


In 1995, I retired from Boeing - July 14 at 0900 hours - but who's counting!  They offered an "Early Out" to clean out the dead wood, and I jumped ship.  Yeah - I qualified being very dead wood.  They could survive nicely without me (turns out - they couldn't).  (I was Director of Quality Assurance at the time in the Materiel Division, responsible for all Boeing Commercial Airplane suppliers - there were 3600 of them.)  I had about 400 employees - most were in the Field worldwide - and I'm sure they all celebrated when I walked out the door!  The next morning, we went to the annual Draft Horse Picnic, and started our "new life".  Pedal to the Metal before - and after - and we never missed a beat!

   Retirement Dinner - 1995

At my old Department's Picnic a few weeks after I retired - do I look like a Happy Man???
How do you spell Boeing?  Is it Bowing, or Boring, or Bowling?

Museum of Flight Projects

As a life-long active member of the Museum of Flight, (currently 57 years), I commenced what would turn out to be a near full-time volunteer job managing acquisition and restoration of major airplane projects for them.  Working Museum projects drew on all my experiences in the airplane world, and I didn't have a bunch of high management "helpers" to get in the way. Perfect!  Of course, Dot was by my side every step of the way - patient and supportive of the many hours I spent on my unpaid job - here are a few:

Boeing 737 Prototype - 6 year restoration at Moses Lake - last flight 21 Sept 2003
I helped build and test this very airplane back in 1965-67.    Click here for the story

Boeing 727 Prototype - 25 year restoration at Everett - last flight 2 March 2016    Click here for the story

On Feb 12, 2016, I taxied the airplane under its own power for the first time in 25 years.
Of course, Dot was on-board (along with Crew Chief T.C. Howard.)

   Before our final flight

  A good cry after we landed safely

         I was aboard as crew for both of those last flights (727 and 737).

Celebrating the occasion with roses

Lockheed Super G Constellation - about a 30 year effort and 4 year restoration in Toronto and Rome, New York
Arrived at MOF September 2009     Click here for the story

Boeing B-52G - Arrived 1991 - Refurbished and Restored and moved to Museum June 2018
Story - click here

Helping me out working on disassembling the B-52 at Paine Field
....  and having a good cry when it finally arrived at Boeing Field - she knew - the culmination of a 27 year project.

Lockheed Model 10E Electra - Arrived at Museum Sept 21, 2013  - another 6 year project.   Story - click here

British Airways Concorde G-BOAG - Arrived at Museum Nov 5, 2003.
Only took 29 years to get this big fish in the boat.    Click here for the story

People ask what I do in my retirement and I tell them "I run an animal shelter for airplanes.  A 'No-Kill' one."  I've done about 25 airplane "Saves" thus far, for both the Museum in Seattle and other museums around the world.  It turned out to be "my calling."


An expert seamstress, Dot began a long series of sewing projects in Hawaii, making everything in sight, from tablecloths and napkins, to pillows, to Aloha shirts for me and almost all of her own clothes.  For years after, I would return from trips with yards of cloth - silk from Thailand, tweed woolens from England, colorful plaids from Scotland, and lacy fabrics from the Philippines.

She would turn them into beautiful clothes,
designing and creating all sorts of miracles out of fabric and thread - shirts, skirts, jackets, pants, dresses, and quilts.  She loved being in front of her sewing machine(s).

Using material I brought back from the Philippines

December 1974 and November 1975 in Hawaii - she could make ANYTHING!

One of many Hawaiian Aloha shirts that she made for me in Honolulu
She even made one for Pablo, the cat!

In Hawaii and at both the Farm and Hansville, she had her own sewing room, that I outfitted with everything she could want.  The room in Hansville had two sewing machines and also had a dynamite view!  Also, her doll collection - the one in the middle, from her childhood....


 Here she is with one of innumerable Christmas decorations she designed and made.  And, in her favorite place!


On the Farm, she belonged to an active quilting club, and in Hansville, she made three large quilts - quilts she designed herself and then made into reality.  Here's a very large one for our King sized bed.  All hand sewn I might add.


There is a lot of artistic conceptualization, and design and piece fabrication involved in making a quilt, even before you begin final assembly.


The finished Masterpiece!

Here's a quilt she designed and made for a wounded veteran in Walter Reed Hospital.
She's sitting on yet a third quilt that she made for our Guest Bedroom

Guest bedroom Quilt

One year, she made a stuffed cat for our cat Pablo for Christmas.
He took one look at it, knew exactly what it was - Competition - and tore into it with a vengeance!
Poor stuffed cat had to be hidden away after that.

A beautiful wall hanging she designed and made memorializing our last three cats - Pablo, Barney, Bear


Dot was the Chief Pet Groomer in the household, and acquired bags full of animal fur - which she saved, of course.
One day she gave me a special present.
Knowing my love for our dog Chiba, she saved his fur until she had enough to use for "something" - but what???

Well, here it is - a "Chiba Pillow"!  Complete with a mesh window to see and feel his fur again, after he was gone.

I used it - this time for her - to rest her sweet head on - for eternity.


Dot liked to Dance - a lot!  And since I was not exactly Fred Astaire, she joined a number of dancing groups - both at the Farm and then later in Hansville. 

A Star is Born!

The "Girls" hamming it up back stage before a performance - showing a lot of leg!

As you can see, besides dancing, this gave her a great opportunity to practice her sewing skills as she made up numerous outfits.



Here she is leading the Duvall Days parade

And - in her spare, spare time, she was very active in the Tualco Valley Homemakers.
President for a while, here she is at one of their meetings.


Our Farm neighbors had a black cat - sort of had one.  He was a ship's cat on a boat that went to Alaska, but the Captain said "Get that black cat off this here ship!"  So he was brought home by one of the crew - who had a few small kids.  The cat said "Get me out of this house with these little brats", so he lived mostly in the woods, coming around our place from time to time.  Eventually, we offered to take him in, the neighbors were more than happy to say Bye Bye, and so Bear came to stay with us - cat #4.  It's like that with cats.....

Always "helping" or part of the action.

Gone soft from his feral days living in the woods

When Chiba came to live with us, Bear had to adjust.  But they became pals.

Stand your ground, Bear!

75th Birthday Parties

In 2011, Dot turned 75.  She didn't want to have "a party", but it didn't take much arm twisting to get her to agree.  And we didn't have just one - but two big bashes - one on the Mainland, and one in Hansville.

Wow!  Two birthday cakes!!!

Here is a picture board I put together for her 75th Birthday parties.
Of course, she didn't want any part of it.
Of course, I ignored her.
Of course, she loves it and it is hanging on her sewing room wall.

Here she is - rejoining her Hansville dancing group - The Boot Scootin' Grannies

Click here for the whole story of the two parties in pictures

Travels and Adventures

We followed a lot of rainbows and did a lot of traveling and just "moving around."  Moving targets are hard to hit.
There were Airplanes, of course.

Douglas B-23 Dragon at Moses Lake

DC-3 at Paine Field

Checking out the waist gunner machine guns on a B-17

Negotiating the center bomb bay catwalk in a B-24

The massive engine of the Boeing 787

But, in addition to Airplanes, Trains were one of our big passions.  We traveled and hiked many miles to watch them - including the 118 miles between Everett and Wenatchee along the BNSF Main Line (both ways!)


After we completed our epic hike - which took several years - we had completed everything but the 8 mile long Cascade Tunnel. What to do?  (I wanted to hike through the tunnel, but Dot said "No Way.")  Well, I caved on that one, and we bought a round trip ticket, instead, on Amtrak's Empire Builder from Everett to Wenatchee and back, to make sure we completed the missing link!  And, of course, traveled the whole 118 miles two more times, without the hiking - including traversing the Tunnel.

About 1998, a steam rail preservation group staged a steam outing from Portland to Yakima and back to Portland via Seattle and the newly re-opened Stampede Pass Tunnel.  We traveled to Yakima to pick up the train, and "chase" it through the Yakima River canyon, and then up to the tunnel.

Southern Pacific Daylight #4449


Salmon fishing with Hal Hemke on his boat
Dot was the only one who brought home a fish!

Fishing in Gaspe

Visiting the White House - May 1972

San Francisco - May 1970

Where do Newlyweds go?  Well, of course - Niagara Falls!


It can get WET there!!!  (June 1971)

Nothing would be complete without our many trips to The Mountain - Mt. Rainier

Hiking towards Burrough's Mountain adjacent Mt. Rainier

Phoenix - 2000.  I was Keynote Speaker at annual Airliners International Convention

With "that cat" in the Great Smokey Mountains...... and by the Mississippi River at Memphis

Spent a lot of time exploring Eastern Washington - like here in Moses Coulee

White Sands, New Mexico

Overlooking the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River in Colorado
..... and at the Grand Canyon in Arizona

Exiting a cave in the Colorado Rockies -- and riding a pack horse through the back country

Disneyland - May 1972

  Snow Shoeing in the Cascades

  Home on the Farm

... or attending innumerable County Fairs, Model Railroad Shows, Quilt Shows, Woodworking Shows, Horse Shows, Wooden Boat shows, and Air Shows .... well you get the idea!

In 2016, we flew our airplane down to Sonoma, California so I could fly a friend's P-40, a WW II fighter plane.
Here she is, patiently (or nervously) awaiting my return
Gee, Bob, couldn't they have picked a younger pilot for this mission???

"It's OK, Dot.  We only shot down three enemy planes and not even a scratch!"

Colorado Rockies

  Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands

Paestum - Greek temples south of Naples in Italy

From the top of St. Peter's in Rome (Vatican City.)

St. Peters Dome in the Vatican and Pope John-Paul II
Hey!  If you're going to visit the Vatican, you ought to meet the Pope!

  Picnic lunch at Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park

1995 found us in Oslo, Norway.  We cruised the west coast fjords by boat and took the train from Bergen to Oslo over the top of the Norwegian "ice cap."

  Puerto Rico vacation - 1971

Enroute - Montreal to Honolulu - May 1972
Check out that cat!

At the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico

Grand Canyon  --  and  --  Large Glacial Erratic in Poulsbo, Washington

Lindos Acropolis (Apollo Temple) on Greek Island of Rhodes  --  and Piraeus Harbor in Athens

Two ancient Greek Amphitheaters - Rodos (L) and Delphi (R)

Checking out the horses on the Greek Island of Aegina and feeding the pigeons in Athens

The Lighthouse at Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia

Mexicali, Mexico

The girl who always complained she took lousy pictures.....


In 1997, Dot received one of those "junk phone calls" telling her she had just won a free cruise on Holland America.  Oh, Sure!  Well, it turns out, it wasn't a junk call after all.  She had filled out an entry down at Safeway, it had been picked at a Mariner's baseball game, and eventually, off we went to Los Angeles (on them) for our first (and only) cruise.


Actually, in August 2014, we did take another cruise - this time a little "slower" aboard the sailing ship  Lady Washington

Dot, feeling she was shy and uncomfortable speaking in public, joined Toastmistress.  Here she is, looking bright and confident, addressing a large group.  The man is Gordon Tjerne, Mayor of Monroe.

She put her skills to good use here at one of her (two) 75th Birthday Parties - this one in Hansville (2011).


In 1988, we decided to join the boating world, and acquired a Boston Whaler Super Sport - a large boat all of 13 ft 4 inches long.  A GREAT boat!  For the next 24 years, we ran the dickens out of that boat, went through 3 motors and 2 trailers - running it all the way from San Francisco Bay up to Princess Louisa Inlet in the fjords of British Columbia, and all the California, Oregon, and Washington rivers in between; then all the lakes and rivers throughout eastern Washington, Idaho and Montana.  And everywhere in the San Juan Islands.  We ran the Columbia River all the way until we literally ran out of water about 3 miles south of the Canadian border.  My goal was to take it on-the-hull to Skagway, Alaska.

People would ask where "our boat" was (since this boat was commonly used as a dinghy on big yachts.)  We'd tell them "This" was our boat!  "Where'd you come from?", they'd ask.  "Seattle!"  "How?"  On the hull!"  Truly a great boat!

Stopping at Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands

Lunch on the Snoqualmie River

We went boating year round - even breaking the ice in the Everett Marina one time.

On Lake Coeur d'Alene in Idaho

...and seeing wondrous things...

St. Mary Lake - Glacier National Park - Montana

Watching the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) slide by heading for Bremerton - August 2003
It was just an accidental encounter as we were out on our small boat.

A sad day in the life of a ship - her last voyage.  After 14 years in storage, she was scrapped in May 2017.

In the days before 9-11, you could slide right up to BB-63 - the Battleship Missouri
berthed in Bremerton - The Mighty Mo - where the Japanese signed the surrender ending WW II.

... and in Everett, CVN-72 - nuclear aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln

On a number of occasions, we were intercepted by Orcas (Killer Whales.)
People claim boaters "harass" the whales.  Not in my experience.
Orcas have repeatedly come to us - even when we're just sitting there, drifting - either fishing or eating lunch.
 They surround the boat, and glide by right alongside - close enough to pet them - and we have!
  Here's the proof.

Here's Dot watching them - they came alongside and she was able to stroke their fins.
Might have been a little boat, but she provided tons of excitement and adventures.

Very fond of Orcas, we made 3 trips to visit Keiko at the aquarium in Newport, Oregon.
Maybe he told his pals to treat us nice....


In 1999, we were footloose and fancy free - the last of our animal companions had died and we were able to travel without worry.  And did.  Even thought of moving to Italy.  But, then Dot mentioned getting another dog.  By chance, a letter from Emi Kawamoto in Hawaii arrived offering another dog; she said YES, I said NO, so we compromised and wound up with another dog - a Shiba Inu named Chiba.  He was a good-looker.  Shiba Inu's are another Japanese breed - about one third scale Akita's.   He enriched our lives beyond measure for the 10 years we had him - click here for the full story.

  Dot with "her" new 6 month old pup.  You know, the one that became "my" dog....


Getting vacuumed and ready for bed

Checking out the outside from inside - a very big part of our retired life - did I say he was a real beauty?


We moved to the Farm to get away from the city.  We loved it and planned to stay there forever.  But, sadly, "the city" came to us.  The traffic on our road increased to the point I could no longer mow with my tractor along the 660 ft long grass strip.  Commuting time more than tripled and became a real nightmare.  And finally, even though I was now retired, and didn't have to face the commute, construction was started on a housing sub-division only 100 feet north of our house.

Where once there had been fields and woods, now there were a bunch of backyards.
  I took this photo in July 2022.
Like the pioneers in the 1800s, time to pull up stakes and "Move West."

We had long coveted a waterfront place for our retirement and spent several years looking for possibilities.  Finally came the time to poop or get off the pot.  We narrowed our selection and after several misses, bought a place in 1999 in Hansville - barely a wide spot in the road - at the northern tip of the Kitsap Peninsula, on the west side of Puget Sound.  Just a ferry ride - but a world away.  Like Monroe, Hansville has been slowly "filling up" over the past 20+ years, but we are of the age when someone else can fight that problem as the world rapidly over-populates.
Click here for the full story of Hansville.


For the first 5-10 years, we worked diligently fixing up the place to our liking, and were more than pleased with our location.

A new roof and it's first paint job in many, many years. If ever.  With Dot helping - of course!

But, also, for the first 7 years, we continued to own both places - yeah, we never sold the Farm - meaning at least a weekly trip back to the Farm, to mow, maintain, etc until we were approached by neighbors wanting to purchase.  Never say Never, but we did the unthinkable, sold the Farm - spent 3 months cleaning out a lifetime's worth of junk, pulled out of the driveway for one last time, and never looked back.  Fortunately, we did not have to witness the new home construction.  Our future lay in Hansville.

Views to die for - no exaggeration



Beach in front of our house

Watching Winter storms in front of our beach!

Gardening - aka weed pulling

Observing the abundant and ever-present wildlife



Hmmmm- Yum,Yum - I 'jes LOVE Wabbit

The airplane

Yikes, as if we didn't have enough excitement in our lives, in July 2011, after 3 years of immobility, I was rescued from being a life-long cripple with the installation of an artificial hip.  It was a true miracle.  I decided to go hog-wild with my new freedom - and we explored our options.  Finally we agreed to get an airplane - after considering another Camper or a bigger Boat.  Even worse, I wound up building my own!  I've been a pilot since 1964, but figured I'd quit building airplanes when I retired from Boeing.

We started the project about November 2011 when we went down to the Vans factory in Oregon where the kits are built; then acquired a hangar in Bremerton, and spent 13 months (almost every day) building it (with the help of my Mentor - Tony T.)

At Vans Aircraft in Oregon after my demo ride.

We BOTH agreed on this little addition to the Family - none of this "It's YOUR airplane" business!
Actually, in the end, I let Dot make the decision - it was her call.

The first flight was 3 April 2013, and in the 8 years since, we have flown it about 800 hours all over the west, multiple trips down to California and up into British Columbia.  (I even ferried another one for a friend - all the way down to Brownsville, Texas.)

Dot was a big part of the building process, and then has acted as my co-pilot for much of the flying.

Here she is crawling into the tight spaces in the tail cone - and enjoying the view as we dance with the clouds.

Small airplanes offer opportunities and views mere Earthlings can never see

... and interesting places to go
Picnic lunch in Woodland, Washington alongside the Lewis River

Left:  At Friday Harbor    Right:  Visiting friend Ron Ochs in Oregon with his own airstrip (house behind).

Anacortes and Puyallup

   Hope, British Columbia

Visiting niece Elisabeth in Langley, B.C.  -  no waits at the Border!                  Lake Chelan
 Hanging out with the Big Guys

Off on another adventure!
Click here for the whole RV-12 airplane story.

Milestones and Revisits to Soledad Mission

Over the years, we have returned a number of times to revisit the Mission where we were married and the Rianda family that were our hosts.  We did so in 1972, and in 1990 for our 20th, then again 1995 for our 25th Silver Anniversary.  Again in 2010 for our 40th and 2015 for our 45th.  Each time we stayed in the same hotel in Carmel where we spent our Wedding night.

Here we are - back at the Mission in May 1972.
Still "newlyweds" - less than 2 years since our marriage.
We stopped there (of course) on our way from Montreal to Honolulu (via San Francisco).

Soledad Mission - back again - July 1995 - our 25th Silver Anniversary

 2010 - our 40th - at the Soledad Mission

2015 - our 45th! 

July 29, 2020 - Our 50th !

July 29th, 2020 was our 50th Wedding Anniversary.  Very hard to believe, but true nonetheless. Yes, Time does Fly.   Our "Plans" were to go down to Soledad Mission for the occasion.  But this Chinese flu pandemic threw a monkey wrench into everything.  Travel was difficult to impossible, and the Mission was closed anyway.  So, we had a quiet celebration at home. Our next "Plan" was to go down and celebrate in 2021, but, alas, that didn't happen either.

  Man Proposes, God Disposes.  My Dad's favorite saying.

50 Years - Guess I was "a Keeper".  She sure was!

Post Script:

Suffering from dementia and terminal cancer for some time, Dot was given no chance of making her Birthday - and certainly not our Anniversary.  But - she beat the odds (by a lot!) and made both.  So, on July 29, 2021, we celebrated our 51st Anniversary - quietly at home.  Unfortunately, no trip back to the Mission in Soledad; but we did call Norma Rianda and had a nice chat.  Sorry - no pictures.

At the beginning of this "little story", I said the following:

A life is such a precious thing, and if it's a long life, and one filled with adventures, then it can be a long story.  Actually, recounting it and retelling the events might be too long for some, but not for me!  It's a small price to pay for re-living it.  As our lives come to their ends, it can be a time of sadness, but maybe the sadness can be relieved by looking back at the happy times - of which there can be many.  This is a small attempt to do just that.  In the end, it's not how you died, --  but how you LIVED!

Well, if you've gotten this far, you can see that we have indeed done a lot!  And there are tons that I left out.  We have been Blessed.  We have dreamed many dreams, wild dreams, and we have made them all come true.  It took a lot of hard work and a lot of willingness to "take the plunge" when others might have held back and taken the safe route.  From  Hawaii to the Farm to our big horse, a little boat we treated like a yacht, and to a little airplane that we treat like a 747.  As Frank Sinatra said in his song "We did it OUR WAY."  As our time together grew short, it was  hard not to cry - sometimes inside, sometimes outside.  But - just preparing this page brought back many memories - and made me smile.  Something I needed.  Maybe you'll smile too.....

Thanks, Dot - Thanks for the Memories...

     Thanks for saying 'I Do'

         I'll Always Love You

November 2020 - Our last "normal" picture

Happy 85th Birthday from your Loving Bob
May 14, 2021

Reading her many Birthday Wish emails - Thanks to those kind enough to send them.  They meant a lot.

Some Straight Talk

When the trumpet of the
Lord shall sound,
and time shall be no more,
And the morning breaks, eternal, bright and fair....

Then when all of life is over

and our work on earth is done

And the roll is called up yonder

I’ll be there.
My Dot passed from this life in the early morning hours of Sunday, August 8, 2021.  She was 85 - which sounds old - and is old - I guess.  But, you'd never know it from her looks or her energy level.  I choke a little when I even say that because she looked and acted more like 55 - if not 45!  I started this picture album as a Memorial, when she first became sick, but changed it into a Birthday Present, when she made it to her Birthday.  Now, alas, it will have to go back to being a Memorial.    It's not for her, really; and not for you either.  It's for me.  But, I'll share it with you, and you can look over my shoulder, if you so choose.

Some years back, she bought this magnet sign for our fridge - it's one of many, many on that fridge - it's stained and well worn and it describes her outlook to a tee:

Right now, I'm in the Cherish Yesterday mode.  But, we did the other two as well.  In spades.
We had a Bucket List before there were Bucket Lists.  And it was very, very long.
        When I look back at all we've done - and look over this little (?) photo essay, I see that; in the end, ALL the boxes got checked off.
Right down to finding each other. 
Not too many folks can say that.  We were Blessed.
And, as she (and I) wanted - she got to die - at home - and in her own bed.

When all this medical stuff began, it was - of course - a shock and source of great depression - primarily on my part.  She, thankfully, did not really realize her situation; she was spared.  I had many days and weeks and sleepless nights, to come to grips with the sad ending we were heading for.  And, living with it - every day - I figured I had come to grips with it.  I was terribly wrong.  Her last week was one of rapid decline, painful to experience, and leaving little doubt as to the outcome.  But the reality was far more devastating than the anticipating - and remains so.  I was not as prepared as I thought.    I suspect it will be with me until I rejoin her one day.

I wish I could tell you that she - as they so often say - "died peacefully in her sleep."  Well, at the very end, she did.  But, in the scheme of things,  she did not. 
She both wanted to die and was afraid of dying and I could do little to help her cope.  I found myself on a permanent guilt trip - wanting her to die quickly so as to ease her pain, and wanting her to live forever, so as not to leave me (and thus selfishly perpetuate her pain.)  Throw in an abundance of "tough love" along the way to handle the evolving situations and I felt permanently bad - about everything.  Let no Good Deed go unpunished.....   Her last many months (she doubled the doctor's prognostication about her life expectancy) were suffered under the burden of two horrible and incurable diseases - severe dementia and pancreatic cancer.  And layered on top of that horrible layer cake, was another  horrible mega-burden - the Chinese Covid virus.  She deserved better.  I want to say "We both did" - but I'm not so sure I "deserve" anything and have nothing to complain about.  But, she did.  She deserved better.

My friend Jacek in B.C. told me his mother died from pancreatic cancer - and it was a "horrible death."  He was right - it was - she weighed but 50 lbs at the end - a walking skeleton.  And so the word "horrible" is entirely appropriate.  And believe it or not, the dementia was much worse than the cancer - even more horrible. The cancer was a blessing in disguise, and took her early.  I could not continue to care for her at home if her only medical issue was dementia - it was beyond my capability to handle any longer and she would have had to be institutionalized - a fate worse than death in my opinion.  Without the cancer, she could well have lived on another few years, maybe quite a few, as little more than a vegetable.  Sad.  Sad for all those who suffer from that disease.  And sad for those who suffer along with them.

In an email about 8 months ago, in which I disclosed our plight to some of our closest friends and relatives, I made this statement:

50 years ago, we took our vows, and somewhere in there I mumbled something about "for better or for worse, in sickness and in health."  Well, the time to pay-up on those commitments has arrived and I'm fully prepared to live up to them right down to the last comma and period.

and I did, somehow finding the strength, often near-impossible to muster, to arrive at the unstated last part of those vows:  "...till death do us part."
As we went down this multi-year road, and the correct word is "we" - as we did this together, I set myself two main goals:  1) To keep her out of one of those "facilities", and 2) to outlive her - by one day.  The second was the really tough one - as we suffered together- physically, mentally, emotionally - I think I got the tougher assignment.  In so many ways, mine was worse than hers, because she escaped most of the thinking part.  Her travails are thankfully over; mine will last until the day I join her.  No five minute "grief counselor" could even begin to heal my scars.

Both of us were big time dog lovers (and, need I add, that she also loved cats!)  After Chiba, our last dog died, 11 years ago, I vowed to never get another dog.  I had said that before.  One reason was because - having gone through the gut-wrench of their dying - I could no longer stand the pain as their lives ended.  The trouble with dogs is - their lives are too short and out-of-synch with humans.  But, there was another reason.  Having had many dogs and cats (and other critters), Chiba was indeed the "Perfect Dog."  All our dogs were great - but all had a few "warts", like people, that kept them from being perfect.  But not him.  Chiba WAS Perfect.  We could never surpass him no matter what the attribute - so why try?

And, so it is with Dot.  She WAS Perfect.  How I ever got so lucky, I'll never know.  I certainly never deserved it.  I mentioned way back up at the top of her thriftiness and frugality - to a fault.  In my many months of caring for her, it became even more clear - almost made me mad.  As I reviewed and collected these old pictures, I was immediately struck by the fact she had most of those same clothes - today - and wore them daily.  The same blouses, the same sweaters, the same pants.  I mean they were 30-40-50 years old!  We are financially secure and could afford the best, but....  And, as I dressed her while she was sick, I was appalled to see the state of her clothes - her nighties all had holes, as did her sweatshirts and socks.  When I bathed and dressed her for the funeral home, I could not find a single pair of stockings that did not have holes. Foolish girl!

I've just started to pick through her things, but already I've found many items that showed just how aware and sensitive she was to the love we shared.

Tucked away, I found a bunch of carefully preserved boxes - like these - I opened them and found that they contained all the flowers and corsages I had given her over the years.  Special occasions; routine birthdays.  See what I mean?  Who knows what other secrets I'll uncover?  I think I'll place them in her casket.  (I did.)

Some years ago - like 10-15 or more, I trotted out all the good dishes and sterling silverware and began using them daily.  No more "saving" it - for company, or for some special occasion - every day that you are alive is a "special" occasion, -- I said.  But, she kept using the regular stainless flatware - cautioning me to hand wash all the good stuff and never put it in the dishwasher!

After she passed, I kept her for two days (against the law - don't you know - who cares.)  I carefully cleaned and bathed her, and dressed her in her Wedding Dress, as she had requested.  Put on her earrings and some lipstick and she looked better than she had in many months.  As I looked through her bureau for some stockings, I had a hard time finding anything that wasn't worn out and with holes.  Months later, cleaning out some closets, I found a box full of unopened packages of brand new stockings.  Yep - that's my Dot!


On my many business trips, I went through a lot of Duty Free stores and brought home lots of goodies.  As I looked through her bathroom vanity drawers today, I came on lots of those goodies.  A bottle of Chanel #5 cologne that looked like it had never been used; and a large bottle of the same perfume - Expensive!!! - all sealed in its original box - never opened in 25-35 years.  Maybe I'll bury them with her!  Growing up in the Magdalen Islands, and during the time period that she did - well, they molded her character and neither me nor 85 years of living was gonna change it.  Actually, they are values that I also cherish (within limits!)  I can think of so many worse character flaws, that all I can do now is laugh about it.  One time I remember telling her: "Dot, the things I'm gonna miss the most about you are the things that piss me off the most!"  And, it's true.  Think about it, for a moment, and maybe you'll also see your relationships in a completely different light.  I hope so.

Meanwhile, I've already cried enough and have no more tears.  For today, anyway.  I'm building up a new supply for tomorrow.  And the day after.

   Like I said - PERFECT.  Like Chiba - She was PERFECT.


Imagine the luck in having a Perfect partner in your life.
...and I had TWO.... and here they are - together.  I was Blessed.


I received an email from my good friend Scott Carson, in which he said:

The two of you are so blessed to have shared 51 years of your lives together and nothing can ever take that from either one of you.  These journeys through life are meant to be shared, and to have someone as special as Dot for you, and you for her, to share that journey with, is a gift of untold value.

This is so true.  Sharing. 
With no kids, and no close-by relatives, our lives have been lived in semi-isolation - at least from that support community.  Of course, we had our friends - and during the past year, we have certainly found out who they really were - and, we had our beloved pets.  But, mostly, we had each other.  Sharing.  We provided the support each needed to and for the other - joined in mind and heart as if we were Siamese twins.  Recall, if you will, that we eloped and got married together without any family or friends!

To the amazement of many, we did everything together.  House painting and floor tile laying.  Railroad hiking in the Cascades.  Fishing.  Walking endless miles on endless docks while I took millions of boat pictures (particularly of my favorites - gnarly old, hard-worked fishing boats.)   Ten miles of daily street walking in London, or Rome. Every boat ride - we did together.  Every airplane ride - we did together.  Even when I was just practicing or shooting landings, she came along.  "Stalls and steep turns?"  "Sure, I'll come along."  "Touch and Goes?"  "I love 'em!"  During work days in the hangar - there she was, watching, helping, providing company and conversation.  Everyone needs a Go-fer.  And a lunch mate.  Many (make that all) of my flying pals are amazed - mostly, their wives are never to be seen, I don't know if some of them are even married.  Even at the Museum of Flight, there is Dot - alongside me - for celebratory dinners and for ordinary business meetings.  Sometimes she sits outside the conference room (with Rosie) and sometimes she watches the meetings from inside.

In our bedroom are two items - a statuette and an oil painting - which express our closeness and devotion better than words:

In case you haven't figured this out, that's me - with my eyes open - allowing my Sweetie to sleep in comfort and security.
They are there for a reason - they are there because that's us....
We were both so Blessed.


Having just described how we shared everything, call it a hit on me that Dot had a lot she didn't share.  In a good way.  She never was overly demonstrative in her affection, but clearly, she felt very deeply about our love and our life together.  I knew she kept a lot of "things", and wrote things in a diary, but..... Wow!  Starting to go through her stuff, I'm just blown away.  I never, ever pried into her private "stuff", but I do wish she had shared more with me - or that I had not been so dense as to not be more aware.  I figured we each needed some degree of "our space" and so never spied on her side of the fence.

First off - she kept EVERYTHING I ever gave her - every card, every chocolate box, every flower.  I mean - Ever.


Drawers and boxes and closets full


Cards, and a little fabric memento she made - with her own note honoring her sister - she did this in private.

   All her flowers - ALL

And then......

A huge collection of Daily Diaries - hundreds of pages recording her thoughts and daily events.
(In fairness to myself, I don't believe in reading other people's diaries, and I always knew she kept them. 
I just didn't realize how many volumes and hundreds of pages there were that were meticulously recorded.)

In her jewelry chest - clipped to the inside of the lid..... 


And so, that is my challenge going forward.  It's no exaggeration to say I don't remember not being married.  I think I was born married.  We were actually one person that happened to have two bodies.  To somehow survive without my heart and without my soul?  I don't know if, or how, I will accomplish it.  To see her get wheeled out of the home we loved so much, leaving for the last time, truly broke my heart.  Looking at her chair, and the bright sea sparkling in the sunlight through our living room windows, that she looked upon so often - the void is palpable and drives a big spike through my heart.  I'm not one who thinks that Time heals all wounds.  I've seen too many WW II vets who still struggle with their angst to believe that old saw.  Besides, I'm so old, Time is not on my side.
  But, as Scott said, I have my memories, and I have my pictures....  I'll share a few more.... hopefully they'll brighten up this discussion.  Sorry for the detour.

A big Sinatra fan, he's got too many great songs for me to even begin listing, but here's one that is our Theme Song:

From my good friend Tom Lindberg


 A poem by Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.
 He referred to the dates on the tombstone
 from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth
 and spoke of the following date with tears,
 but he said what mattered most of all
 was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time they spent alive on earth
 and now only those who loved them
 know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars… the house… the cash.
 What matters most is how we live and love
 and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard; are there things you’d like to change?
 For you never know how much time is left
 that can still be rearranged.

To be less quick to anger and show appreciation more
 and love the people in our lives
 like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
 might only last ... a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read,
 with your life’s actions to rehash,
 would you be proud of the things they say
 about how you lived your dash?


 By Linda Ellis, Copyright © 2020 Inspire Kindness,

 My Dot - in Pictures

In case you never noticed, I take lots of pictures, and have multiple cameras going at all times.  They provide the feedstock for my photo essays - like this one.
Photography is Man's second greatest Invention - after Writing - and creates a Time Machine allowing us to look back into the Past - forever.  As I reviewed photos for inclusion into this album, it became ever clearer just how very important photographs are to our lives.  We get old, our looks falter, and we pass away - but our photos live on, and bring us, and others,  back to happier times when we were younger and better looking.  And we get to re-live those days, with those people, in those places.  Now, in my time of grief and sadness, they have become a source of joy and reaffirmation of a life well lived.  Dot spent endless hours looking at her old photo albums - and I can see why.  (I put them all on her tablet.)

Dot always complained about my taking her picture - she said she didn't look good in pictures - terrible, in fact.  I always said "The camera doesn't lie!"  Anyhow, if she looks bad in her pictures, I'll kiss a Fat Lady's A*s!

I can't believe a woman so beautiful and so wonderful would marry me.....

A woman who (like me) loves animals

Vacationing in Gaspe

San Francisco Zoo - 1970


  Mini horse

Barney and Prince

Visiting the Radio City Music Hall in New York City - 1950s

1997 - visiting one of my High School teachers (artist Mort Slotnick) in New Rochelle

  California July 2010 - for our 40th!

Hollister, California - for our 40th in 2010 - one of my very favorites.

   visiting Carmel Mission for our 45th

  Thanksgiving 2005


2006 - Another Birthday - # 70  - Just a Kid.  Here's looking at you, kid.

Hansville - and Line dancing in Monroe

Ernie's Cafe in Friday Harbor - one of our favorites.  20 minutes in the plane, by surface - two days and four ferries!


  A Selfie - Birthday #83 - Poulsbo


Georgette and Bill McNeil in Ottawa - 2003                Washing her little Yeller car - 1971 Toyota Corolla

   Hollister, California

  La Conner, Washington

On-board a deluxe rail car in Sacramento, California              Boeing Dinner

Visiting the Grand Canyon                Chiba as a pup

A "Cat Lady" can find a cat anywhere!
Visiting the beautiful and moving Mausoleum hidden in the woods near Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.
Some of the columns were incomplete.  They were reminders that in a Life well-lived, we always leave some things unfinished and incomplete.
We sat in the stone chairs surrounding the table in the center
Dot noticed, later, that her chair said "Dorothy's Chair"......

Watching the boats. birds, and wildlife

 October 2003 in the Magdalen Islands


                  Christmas with Chiba and Bear in Hansville

   With Chiba

In these two, many said she looked just like her Mom.

  On the beach in Hansville


Visiting Mt. St. Helens not long after the eruption

  Age 60 Birthday on the farm - 60 going on 35!

Chowing down with the street food at the Annual Fiesta in San Luis Obispo, California

And at one of the innumerable County Fairs we attended


For her 80th Birthday, I gave Dot a tablet to replace her paper crosswords and numbers games.  It has been her constant companion ever since.
What a Smile!!!

Like many things, she didn't want it - until she loved it.
Some of my best "successes" came when I ignored what she "wanted"....


We flew up to Roche Harbor in the San Juan Islands for a nice birthday lunch.


Yes!  She used to cook - a job I took on many years ago.
See our critters on the fridge behind.

Checking out the birds from our deck

Oregon Coast - and in "her"living room seat - Could never get enough pictures of my Dot
 Working her Jigsaw puzzles
I'm still working the one on the right - she left the hard part for me!


I took a lot of pictures of Dot - a lot!  Here are just of few of thousands!


August 8, 2022 marks one year since I lost my Dot.  It takes my breath away to even say that, since I don't know where the time has gone.  And, I'm still very much in Denial.  I can't believe she is gone and time has done little to assuage my Grief.  But, I manage to visit her almost every day - thankfully the cemetery is very close.  We have a "prime spot" right next to a bench - which I have worn smooth.  I sit there each day, rearrange her flowers, and bring her up to date on the latest news.  And I study "my spot" - next to hers.  It's full of dandelions.  She hated dandelions, and spent hours pulling them out.  I told her it was a losing battle.   I am having a monument stone made - actually two - one for me as well.  Two pieces of granite marking the resting places for two people very much in love.  They lived a Blessed life, were Lucky that way, and -- and nobody lives forever. I know that.   Maybe some will visit; if not - we'll have each other.  That's what counts.  In Death as in Life.

Finally, the funeral home came for her - taking her from our beloved home.  Watching them wheel her out through the laundry and down the deck was a punch in the gut.  Leaving our home - for the last time.  I know she was crying inside.  I was numb, in shock.  I knew this day was coming.  I knew it for a long, long time.  But my reality dwarfed my anticipation.  I cried - but only later.  Much later.  Actually, I cry now.  Like a volcano, it's been building and building inside.  My poor friends sometimes get to see an eruption.  Or at least, a mini-eruption.

The yard man asked "How's your wife?"  There was a long pause, and I almost choked.  As if saying it would mean it really happened.  "She died", I said, and was quiet.  He sadly shook his head.

Hansville Cemetery

The Hansville Cemetery is a small, rural cemetery, supported and maintained by volunteers from the community.  Residents are offered free plots and we've had ours for over 20 years - a prime spot, as it turns out, adjacent to a nice bench.  A bench I use every day and have worn smooth.


Since I'm there every day, they invited me to join the Cemetery Committee - which I did.
They introduced me as "the Cemetery Watchman."

Just a patch of grass... until the inevitable day when you are invited to move in.
We all know the day is coming, but we put it out of our minds.
It's a defense mechanism, that works.  Until it doesn't.

On August 16, I spent an hour with her alone in the funeral home - when I walked into the viewing room and saw her lying there in her casket - it took my breath away.
  My legs turned to rubber and I almost passed out on the spot.
The folks in the funeral home couldn't believe how well I had prepared her.  Maybe a first for them.
Not for me - I didn't want anyone touching my Dot.
I sat alone for a long time, talking to her - to myself - then filled her casket with mementos and played three sad songs.
It was a terribly sad day, as we said farewell - forever.  Trying to implant her features in my brain to last the rest of my life.
To touch her cheek, her hands, her hair.
I'll skip the pictures.

On August 17, 2021 - I buried her.
Like most things we did in our lives, including our elopement, we were alone.
I brought my shovels and did a lot of the grave closing work myself, while the two grave-diggers watched from the side.
I have built many coffins and dug many graves.  I knew what I was doing.

I included three gravestones from our pets.  I have two more that go with me.

And so - it's done.  Drive in a stake, add a label, and a life comes full circle.
Ashes to Ashes.  Dust to Dust.
Leaving the cemetery was probably the hardest thing I've ever done.
I wanted to tell the gravediggers to allow me to lie down on her casket and fill it up.
One more thing for us to do --  together.
To leave her up there on the hill - Alone.
To come back to an empty house.
To eat alone.  Climb into an empty bed.
Gut wrenching.
Others have Family in support.  I had the two grave-diggers.
One asked me "Is that your Mother?"
"No", I answered, "My Wife."

It was the Blackest day in my life.
I haven't recovered.....


I bring her "A Daisy a Day" as in a song I play every day.  Sometimes, many times a day.

Have a listen - it says it all:

The Seasons changed.  The grass grew.  Her spot was no longer bare.


  In winter, the snows came.  They covered her name.


In the year since she passed, I've written much to my friends - it's been my outlet for a profound Grief which I can't manage to shake.  Sometimes, I scare them and they worry about my mental health - even my contemplating suicide.  I try to ease their minds but make no commitments.  Oh, I go through life's routines - now expanded.  I always did the cooking, mowing, window washing.  Now I've added laundry, toilet scrubbing, bedding, vacuuming, and the rest.  I think I most miss her seamstress skills - I have so many things that need mending and far too many socks with holes!  One thing I've added to my repertoire is piano - I played when I was a kid but not since.  Dot played and we've had a piano in all our houses.  Now, like many things, I wish she could see and hear me now!  I've returned to the instrument and become quite decent - at least in my mind - and play many songs; almost all are sad songs that Dot liked (and often cried when she heard them.)  I play them real slow and cry with her, for her.

In my (still) sleepless nights, I think (too much.)  And analyze too much as to where my head is - beyond the scrambled eggs it seems to have become.  Yes, I'm missing her - terribly.  That would be "normal."  52 years is a long time - longer than some people are alive.   I hear her constantly - empty houses make an amazing assortment of noises and sounds, and I'm continually spinning around to see her enter the room.  But, in the end, it's just a sound of unknown origin.  Maybe ghosts do exist.  I heard them in her Magdalen Island house during past visits, and have written about that.   I put this Memorial (the one you're reading) together to ease the pain of missing  her - and remind me of the happy times we had together.  And, there were many.  We were Blessed.  I know that and give Thanks for it.

Still, what should bring a smile often has the reverse effect.  Like all the "Special" days.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years - each for the first time - Alone, celebrating alone for the first time in over half a century.  Worse yet are the Special, Special Days - like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, her Birthday and our Anniversary.  Each comes up and strikes a dagger into my heart.  I try to carry on - with cards, and flowers, and even a small cake (or cupcake.)  Hoping that she can hear my Best Wishes.  Maybe she can.  Maybe she can......

Some things she really enjoyed - like the arrival of the swallows, and the fawns in the Spring.  Perhaps they reminded her of the coming of the lambs on our farm for almost 3 decades?  Oh, how she loved watching them!

But, those happy images keep getting shoved aside, as I remember the last year of her life, the last few months, the last few weeks and days.  They were horrible beyond description - horrible for her, and horrible for me.  Now, she's at Rest and hopefully at Peace.  But those images - they still haunt me endlessly.  Like War vets, the images cannot be shaken, and time has little effect.  I know myself well enough to have concluded this is the way it is - and will be - until I take that next step to join her.

As my friend Scott Carson wrote - Life is meant for Sharing.  And with one partner gone - well, that has been taken away.  No more sharing.  It's been painful to go through and discover old pictures, and not be be able to share the discovery. Listen to old songs - alone.  Not be able to Share and ask questions.  One thing really was impacting for me.  The Museum of Flight in Seattle, where I am a long-time volunteer (since 1965), wanted to give me an Award, at an honoring dinner.  I turned them down - three times.  I could not see me attending without her - we always went to the Museum together.  Remember - we were "one person with two bodies".  She earned the recognition every bit as much as I did.  If she were still sick when the dinner was held, I absolutely could not go.  If she had passed, I could not see exchanging light-hearted banter with the M.C. at the podium.

I told Steve Taylor - a best friend and the Host for the dinner - to make my Award posthumous.  Especially after Dot was gone.  You see, Bob was already dead.  He had died when Dot had died.  I even wrote my own obituary in my Christmas Newsletter.  Steve came to the house - a very long round trip drive for him.  And spent 7.5 hours.  He didn't twist my arm, but we talked a lot.  When he left, I agreed to attend - but on my terms.  I wanted a slot to talk to the attendees.  And instead of a tux, I planned to wear my ratty old bomber jacket.  The night came and Jim Farmer put me up for two nights - I don't drive at night anymore either.  Jim, one of my many heroes, flew up from Palm Springs, just to do that - for me.  I should only be as good as some of my friends.  They are the Best.

So, the dinner came, and I gave my talk.  It wasn't about the Museum.  Or airplanes.  Really, it was about Dot.  A Memorial in her honor, made painful by her absence.  I don't think they were expecting exactly what they got.  But, as my friend Peter Morton often said "I had the microphone." Actually, to be entirely accurate, what he always said was "Don't give him the microphone!"  Peter had just lost his wife Anna-Marie.  They sat us together - a somber pair with long faces.

I described the last few years and our terrible struggles.  I recited three of my favorite poems - not your usual rubber chicken dinner fare.  I held it together pretty well, until the end, when that sub-surface volcano had a mini-eruption.


I think of all the travails I (we) have gone through over the past few years, not having Dot there to bear witness to the honor, and especially SHARE in the glory, was the one wish I longed to have fulfilled.  It was not to be.

My health took a real hit when she was sick, and I have yet to emerge from a litany of ailments. 
Not a bit.  If I were honest, I'd say I have been regressing - basically in a state of denial.  "Anticipatory grief," which people suffer when caring for a loved one with a terminal condition, is supposed to be a "gentler" form of grief, than that experienced by people confronted with a sudden death.  A lot of their bereavement is pulled forward to before the actual death, and time is made available for the bereaved to come to grips and accept the situation.  Not for me.  The anticipation I actually handled better than the reality.  I thought it would be gentler too; but it was not.  When the actual moment came, I wasn't at all prepared for it.  The divide between expectation and reality was - and is - more than I could handle.  PTSD indeed.    The actual Crossing of the Bar was too profound to accept.  So, I haven't.

I've mentioned to some of you, I found a booklet amongst Dot's papers on coping with loss of a spouse.  Maybe she was preparing in case I went first.    It starts out saying Bereavement is a Life-Threatening Condition.  That is not hyperbole.  One can die of a Broken Heart - medically it's called takotsubo cardiomyopathy - and lots of people do it; spouses who die close one after the other.  The suicide statistics also make grim reading.  Either outcome takes Grieving to the next level.


I have been contemplating going to Mayo Clinic for a comprehensive evaluation, for a long time - as I have made the repeated rounds of "the ists" -  cardio, rheumo, hemo, oncologists, with numerous repeat tests and nothing found (and also little communication or coordination between the specialists.) Mayo has a reputation for doing a coordinated and comprehensive evaluation without all these little appointment cards shuffling you off to one guy after another, none of whom talk to each other, and repeat all the same tests endlessly.

When Dot got sick, I decided to sacrifice my life on her behalf and came close, dipping into a well that had completely run dry. I was operating not just in a highly physically and mentally demanding environment for a prolonged period, but was in a mega-stress environment for a very, very long time.  Stress kills, as you know, and can be hugely impacting on the body's systems. I was also bucking the odds.  Three out of four sole caregivers over 70 die before their patient dies.  That's how demanding it is.  Something to think about.  It's not an exaggeration.

After she died, I thought maybe I would experience some sort of bounce back, but frankly there has been very little, although there has been some.  Continued elevated stress levels, continued insomnia, etc have run on unabated, although my physical care-giving demands did drop significantly. I'm afraid I may have indeed burned up the engine along the way, which in an airplane, would mean a trip back to the shop for a complete rebuild.  But bodies don't rebuild.....  The Bills for my care for her are now coming due.  I don't mind; I gave the Man Upstairs my credit card number.

At this point, I am fearless.  There is nothing that can come around the bend that bothers me at all.  I've had a good run and being with Dot is a thought that fills my thoughts everyday. Yes, the hole in my heart is that big....
Although I work hard at it daily, I seem to have made little progress in collecting, organizing, and disposing of her stuff.  Truth be told, we led a very frugal life, but you can amass a lot of junk over 50+ years.  And we did !  I think if I had my life to live over again, I wouldn't buy (or keep) anything!!!   Some of her stuff will go back to the Magdalen Islands.  Other stuff is available to anyone who would like it - like a huge collection of sewing stuff - sewing machines, every manner of tool and gadget, instrument (sewing and musical), threads, patterns, and a huge collection of very nice fabric - Irish woolens, Scotch tweeds, Thai silks.  Jewelry - both real and costume.  Beautiful hand made clothes.  It's painful to think of them going to Goodwill or the rummage sale for a few pennies.  Just drop me a line.

One thing I did when she died - I put this whole Memorial page on a thumbdrive, placed it in a sealed glass jar, and buried it with her.  If some archaeologist should dig up her remains, some day in the distant future, they won't have to speculate who is this woman they have now discovered.  If they can read the bits, they will know everything.  Everything.

   Thinking private thoughts at her Living Room desk

Leaving me, - with her desk - and her glasses - right where she left them - to contemplate a life once together, now Apart and Alone.....

Thanks for reading.......

Her Pictures ("Snaps" in Canadian...)

Although I take lots of pictures, Dot loved pictures as well - and was endlessly looking through her scrap albums, sharing and trading Snaps with her relatives, and bringing her Picture Albums with her for her family visits.  Eventually, I digitized them and put them on her tablet.  And a Picture Frame.  And a Picture Locket.  Here she is sharing.

With her brother Armand in his house in Havre-Aubert

  With brother Charles, wife Betty, and sister Viola in Montreal

Again with sister Viola

  With niece (and God-child) Diane

With nephew Louis (Armand) in Hansville

Louis and wife Jocelyne in Hansville

Sensitive and Sentimental

I have an interesting book, in which the author describes cleaning out his Grandparent's attic.
  He came on a box full of string.  The box was neatly labelled and the label became the Title for his Book:

String Too Short to be Saved

Dot was a "Saver", aka Pack Rat.  Just like me.  Only worse.  Much worse.
But, it was just one more trait we had in common!
She had a lot of those "String Too Short" boxes.  I built many storage shelves in our basement, and she used lots of them.

She kept all the cards - and all the flowers - I ever gave her.  50 years worth!

 Every year's Christmas cards got neatly filed and stored away.
I haven't gone through them, but I think they are all there from Day One.

So did all the chocolate boxes I ever gave her - neatly labelled - of course!

... and all the Valentine's chocolate heart boxes as well..... with more boxes inside these boxes!!!

She wasn't very demonstrative - but clearly - she cared and was touched.....

 People - Family and Friends in our life together -  in no particular order
You can stop here if you want - unless you think your picture might be in here; it might be!

  Sister Martha (passed in June 2021 just before turning 100)

   Dot and her sister Martha were extremely close

Martha visiting us in Hansville - recall she came to Hawaii and the Farm too.
Looking after her Baby Sister!

Martha and Marie-Anna came to Hawaii and the Farm  -  Here they are in Seattle and at Mt. Rainier

Martha and husband Ferdinand visiting the Farm - January 1980

Marguerite, Armand, Marie-Anna, Dot and Martha
Getting ready for one of Marguerite's famous dinners!!!

Brother Louis-Philippe at his home in Havre-Aubert, Magdalen Islands

Brother Louis-Philippe, wife Carmele, and that ham of a dog Chiba
Overnighting with our camper in Quebec City - 2003

  and here in Hansville - Oct 2014

Brother Louis-Philippe and family in the 1980s (?).  The woman never changes!

 Sister Viola at her home in Verdun (Montreal)


Louis-Ph, Dot, Viola - 1995

Sister Marie-Anna

Retired Boeing Test Pilot Brien Wygle staying at our home in Hansville

2002 - Dinner with brother Charles and wife Berthe (Betty) visiting from Montreal
Click here for the photo story of their visit

Berthe & Charles Cormier (brother) on the beach in Hansville

            with Sister-in-law Berthe Cormier in Hansville

Imagine the coincidence and surprise one day, when we were visiting the Arts and Crafts Fair in nearby Port Gamble.  We were admiring a watercolor painting of a boat scene from Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia.  The artist's name was Denise Cormier!!!  Dot said something, in French, like "Bonjour Madame Cormier", surprising Denise.  Long story short, Denise came from Memramcook - a small Acadian village in New Brunswick, close to Moncton - and clearly was a descendant of Robert Cormier, and hence a distant relative.  Dot and Denise became good friends, and enjoyed some fine French speaking lunches together.

We bought Denise's painting and it hangs proudly on our dining room wall.

And - here we are, visiting Peggy's Cove - Post Office in base of the Lighthouse.

 Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia - 1998

  Martha, Dot, Marie-Anna

Dot, Marguerite, Martha

With brother Armand in his house doing one of Dot's favorite activities - looking at old family pictures

With my cousin Renee and family from New York - at Mt. Rainier

Jim and Sue Johnson at Jim's 75th Birthday Party

with Peter Morton and Alison Bailey

with Boeing President T. Wilson

Dot and Martha were very close   They passed only weeks apart........

          With niece Marietta in Hansville

Dot's Nephew Robert Cormier and Irene Renaud - from the Magdalen Islands
 in Hansville (2004).

Friend Glenda White at Dot's 75th

Louise Reid (Martha's daughter) and Diane (also Martha's daughter) Dot's Godchild

   Diane in her younger days - Dot never changes!

  Family on our deck in Hansville

Boeing Test Pilots Clayton Scott (Scotty) and Dick Taylor at celebration dinner after making the last flight in the Boeing 737 Prototype airplane. (2004)

Helen Cox in Charlottetown, PEI - Helen was Dot's first boss at MCA

With our former Monroe Neighbor Meredith Mechling who had moved to Anacortes
She met us when we flew into the Anacortes Airport

Friend Leah Hammer in Port Townsend

Friends Lorna and Maurice visiting in Hansville from P.E.I.  -- and in Charlottetown

Lorna and Dot in September 1997.
Lorna was one of Dot's roommates while we were dating in Montreal

Aunt Suzanne (father's sister) and Marie-Anna            and with Uncle Wilfred

  At Arts & Crafts Fair - Port Gamble

                    Cousin Stella and husband Bob at their home - Sherbrooke, Quebec

Cousins Mary and Ann Sullivan were twins who became nuns and lived into their 90s  (101 for Sister Mary.)  They lived in Charlottetown where we visited them several times.

Anne & Percy Cullen - very close friends - from Grande Prairie, Alberta

Anne first met Dot when they were both working in Ft.Smith, NWT
Percy was a career Mountie (RCMP) serving in the Yukon - just like in the movies!

Visiting the Museum of Flight and leaving Concorde

Anne and Dot exploring the cockpit of our B-52

Friends - friends for Life

With my Dad in Hansville (July 2002) and Snohomish

My Folks at the Farm for their 50th - 1991

With nephew Louis (Armand) and wife Jocelyne (from Montreal) in Hansville

Nephew Jerome Cormier and wife Francine.
They came all the way from Havre-Saint-Pierre on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.  Dot has 37 nieces and nephews; I have two.
They towed a travel trailer and spent several days "camped" in our driveway (2016).

Niece Huegette and friend visiting Farm - that's Dot's stock truck!

Armand, Marie-Anna, and Jean (Marie-Anna's son) in Havre-Aubert

Niece Lucie (Marie-Anna's daughter) in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island

Family during visit to Magdalen Islands

Friend Jean Rashed with cousin Rachel Gallant in Charlottetown
Sadly - all three are now gone.....

Jean and Labeeb Rashed from Charlottetown visiting the Farm  (with Barney!)
Jean was a big supporter during Dot's illness and after her passing.  She sadly passed herself in Spring 2022.

Former Boeing colleague Kari Rankins - a frequent visitor - from Chicago

Sister-in-law Marguerite (brother Armand's wife)

Brother-in-Law Albert, Brother Henri, Sister Viola         Nephew Louis, brothers Charles and Henri 
Montreal - August 1985

Paula Coady and Mom in Charlottetown

My folks in their home in New Rochelle

With my Folks for their 50th Anniversary at the Farm - 1991

Niece Martine Cormier in Riviere-du-Loup, Quebec - and sister-in-law Carmelle (Louis-Ph)

Niece Elisabeth and husband Norm from B.C.


Niece Elisabeth came to stay with us in Hawaii - 1975


Lucie, Dot, Martha   Sept 2011 - Magdalen Islands

Boeing colleague Del Fadden and wife Sandy at 737 40th Anniversary of First Flight - April 2007

Colleague Gordy Girvan - Nordair Chief Dispatcher - visiting from Vancouver, BC

                                                                A visit from my long time Boeing secretary Lavonne Graham from Everett

A visit from my H.S. pal Tom Blevin's sister Stephanie from Honolulu.
Tom was killed in Viet Nam - click here for his story

Jean Rashed and Helen Cox in Charlottetown
All three - gone.

  Piano playing in Hansville with niece Marietta and her "Man" J.P. (2014)

with Nephew Georges

Hansville Hairdresser Karen working on Dot

We got our haircuts - together (and everything else!)

 Friend Fred Coyle from Victoria (Air Canada retired)

College roommates Jim & Fran Hiestand and Judy and Bill Moritz
at our Montreal Reception - 1970

With Fran Hiestand - wife of Jim Hiestand - my college roommate for 3 years.
Visiting from Chattanooga - July 2014

Tom Cathcart from the Museum of Flight

Cousin Rachel Gallant from Moncton visiting Hansville and at Lighthouse

And - visiting her - cousin Rachael (white blouse) at her place in Moncton
... that ham dog Chiba gets in all the pictures!

Steve Huemoeller - United Air Lines mechanic who helped me restoring the #1 Boeing 727

Boeing co-worker Steve Morse and Family in Hansville (they were visiting from China).

    with neighbor Francis Baker

 Bob's cousin Peter Getzoff from Los Angeles at Museum of Flight - and with his mom, my Aunt Marian

With friend Dorothy Keenan in Snohomish

With my friend David Capodilupo from Boston in Hansville.
David is a Dean at M.I.T.  He contacted me regarding volunteering working on the Number One 727
that we had under restoration, and came out quite a few times in his spare time to help with the restoration.
He made his first flight in one of our airplanes and had been tracking it ever since.
This photo was taken in May 2011 - it was his 50th Birthday - and he spent it with us!

Friend Bob Dempster at the annual Aviation Show


With friends and relatives visiting in the Magdalen Islands - August 2013.

with Cousin Rachel and shirt-tail cousins Bob & Priscilla Sharkey - July 2013

Cousin Linda-Lily Bogash

Dot with Lillianne - our "Farm-sitter" from Snohomish

At Snohomish County Homemaker's Convention


My Gosh!  She takes Good Pictures!!!!!  (for a person who "doesn't take good pictures....")

About 20 years of newsletters and picture pages can be found on my Family website.
Click Here

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