Kim and me

Kim and me

Thursday, October 11, 2012

It has been a very sad 24 hours around the Hale household. Yesterday morning we were forced to take our 9 year old Catahoula/Australian Shepherd to the vet to have her put to sleep.
Marsha was an incredible dog. She had the sweetest disposition of any dog I've known as she went about her daily duties of taking care of her people. She was a friend to Kim and Logan and made their move to Texas from California much more acceptable. And, for me, she was the last bridge between my families, having lived with both during her life.
At the time I married Kim, Marsha was living with me but I was looking for a suitable home for her because I didn't think I'd be able to keep her for various reasons. First, I lived in an apartment. Second, I didn't know how Logan and Kim would accept her after having to give up their dog Kismet to move to Texas. Kim convinced me to keep her and boy were the rewards great for all of us.
Marsha, on occaison, would accompany me to work at American Airlines hanager 5 at DFW airport. I would be done with my work and go home to Keller to pick her up and bring her back. During that time there were no more than 8 or 10 people at the hangar on afternoon shift. She and I would take walks through the vast expanse and she was so happy just to be with me. The other mechanics and support people loved to have her around. (She kept the break room floor clean). One night I was asked to change a nav light on and MD-80 wingtip and Marsha watched from the floor as I worked from a ladder. When I was done, she wasn't anywhere around. My crew chief John Kilbane and I hunted through the hangar for her for no less than 30 minutes before John went up the aft stairs on the very plane I was working on and found her asleep under the last row of airplane seats.
On these trips to the hangar, and any other time she could ride in the front seat of my car with me, she would use her snout to lift my arm over her body so it would rest on her. She literally loved affection of any kind.
When she was young she could leap into the air to catch a frisbee but later on, when she entered the middle aged stage of doggy life, she couldn't jump anymore but still loved to chase balls or her kong. She would drive people nuts barking at them to throw something for her to chase.
Six weeks ago, I noticed a lump in her throat. We inquired of the Doctor and it was inconclusive as to whether it was cancer or not. Kim and I decided not to have surgery on her for various reasons. First, it would have been a lot for her to endure just to have the surgery. Second, if it was cancer, we couldn't afford to have it treated and didn't think it was right to put a dog through chemo or radiation anyway. Third, we hoped the tumor was benine and that she would continue to live a happy and love filled life for many years to come. This was not to be the case.
Two weeks ago, while Grandma and Logan were watching Marsha while we went to Denmark, she stopped eating and started getting sick on the floor, unable to keep much of anything down. We hoped it was just her emotional response to missing us which had happened before but not quite to that extreme. After we were home a week, it was apparent this was not going to get any better. Then, three days ago, she stopped drinking water. We noticed it was very difficult for her to swallow and she no longer wanted to play, let alone walk outside or anything else. Yesterday, she would stand up like it was very uncomfortable. She was obviously starting to show us that it hurt.
Dr. Cox and the staff at Southlake Animal Crossing were very, very understanding and supportive. Just around 830 am, Marsha took her last breath. I visualize her now playing with my other dogs that have passed on. Angel and Erika, Shadow and Hershey, and Annie.
Marsha, we all love and miss you so much! You brought us so much joy and I'm so grateful I got to keep you. Thank you Kim for insisting that I do. We will forever remember you and pray you will choose to live with us in the next life.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Kim and I had the opportunity to visit Denmark last week for a few wonderful days. I can't express how much I love to travel with my wife and my kids when given this opportunity. Even though American Airlines is struggling, and generally ticking me off as a company, I do appreciate the benefits we take advantage of.

Copenhagen was so cool; literally. We escaped the 90's of Texas and enjoyed the 50's of Denmark. We even enjoyed the rain that soaked us a couple of times.

The Danish people were wonderful and surprisingly literate in English. In fact, several times while speaking with them I got the impression I was talking to someone from the states. There was hardly any accent detected.

The country is beautiful. We enjoyed seeing Fredericksborg Castle as well as Kronberg Castle which is known as Hamlet's castle. We loved entering the queen's chamber at Fredericksborg and seeing Danish paintings of Christ that Mormons have in their library and often times hanging in church hallways and temples.

Not only did we see the paintings but we also saw the original Christus statue by a Danish artist in a church in Copenhagen. For those not from Salt Lake City, the Christus is our statue of Christ that is in the Salt Lake City temple square visitor center.

We saw the Little Mermaid sculpure in the bay as well as Hans Christian Anderson's statue in the heart of Copenhagen by city hall. Of course, Hans Christian authored the story of the Little mermaid.

We saw many interesting buildings and artwork; some of the artwork in the outdoor parks. We saw Danish people riding bikes everywhere. We even enjoyed our cookie cutter room in the Copenhagen Star Hotel. BTW- they even provided a fire alarm for us to participate in.

I recommend Denmark to everyone. Beautiful country and wonderul people.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

For the last 49 years, my entire life, my parents have always been there for me as a manifestation of stability. They may not have been perfect people but they were perfect for me. They have always been my biggest support in no matter what I was trying to do. Be it, writing, working as an aviation maintenance technician, or going to school, they were always there to encourage me and let me know I was loved.

On March 30th, my father passed away at the age of 90. Five months later, on September 1st, my mother joined him for eternity and now all I have left in my mortal existence is memories.

The other day I was passing a candy vending machine and saw the yellow wrappered Milky Way bar with caramel. A pang of sadness impaled my heart as I remembered buying bags of these very candy bars for my parents just within the last year. In fact, I gave my mom 3 bags after my dad's funeral so she could take them back to Logan where she lived. These were their favorites snacks and they had one every day.

This picture is my mom and dad in 1987 on the beach in Barbados. Because of my job at the time, with Eastern Airlines, I was able to take them to visit the beautiful island. I'll never forget the trip for several reasons. First, I was able to do something for them after years and years of sacrifices they made for me. Second, my dad loaded the same roll of 35mm film in his camera twice so all his pictures ended up being double exposed and of great entertainment to us. Third, while walking around Bridgetown, my mom passed out and I remember thinking that perhaps that was it for her. The residents came running from everywhere. One person brought smelling salts. Another brought a box for her to sit on once she came to. The people were so friendly and helpful and I think it was because of this trip that I started having the desire to see the world.

Over the course of the last thirteen years. I've done a lot of traveling internationally. After visiting Denmark and Sweden next week, I'll have visited 30 different countries during this time. I think its a wonderful way to better understand and appreciate the world and also the United States. I've had the opportunity to take my kids on trips and show them so many beneficial things. I love to travel still and will take advantage of it as long as I'm capable.

In two days, we head to Denmark. This is a last minute change from the original destination we had planned for to Romania. Why the change? Well, my daughter Heather was suppose to go with us but she is unable to go this week and we didn't want to go without her so we altered the plan until she can go. Denmark is the birthplace of my great great grandmother on my mom's side. I think that after seeing it, and walking through the streets, I'll feel a little closer to her and my grandmother who I never met.

My parents were really remarkable people. I love and miss them so much.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Very excited! After 6 months without publishing a travel article for the Deseret News....My Turkey/Istanbul article was just published today online. Hopefully it will be in the paper tomorrow!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An amazing trip to Beijing

Kim and I on the Great Wall of China

Tiled 9 dragon picture in the Forbidden City
At the Forbidden City

Amber with Flora, our tour guide and new friend

 Because I take advantage of my flight benefits from working for a major airline, I've had the opportunity to visit many countries around the globe. Never have I had as much trepidation to leave America as I did the first week of May of this year. When asked where she wanted to go, my twenty year old daughter Amber answered definitevly with "China".
 I said, "Okay, we can do that." but I really wasn't convinced. Yes, my airline had service to Beijing. Yes, I had worked enough overtime to pay for any expenses. Sure, there were lots of cool things to see. But, this was a Communist country that I had read really didn't welcome westerners, let alone Americans because of our views on democracy as well as supporting a free Taiwan and Tibet. Also, I'd already found out you had to jump through hoops to even get a visa to enter.
 Not wanting to disappoint Amber and my wife Kim, I went through the motions of planning and acquiring everything we needed to go.
 After arriving in China, it didn't take long before all three of us were convinced it was well worth the effort. That is not to say that there weren't any difficulties.
 We had reservations at one of the most charming hotels I've ever stayed in. Within the midst of surrounding skyscrapers in the business and shopping center of Beijing, is the nearly hidden oasis known as the Beijing Jingyuan Garden Hotel. More than two centuries old, it was once a large one story house which has since been converted into individual rooms for visitors. Within the midst, is a large, beautifully kept garden with covered walkways and numerous plants. Staying in such a place, helped convert our western way of thinking into a more traditional Chinese cultural attitude. Kim spent every morning and evening listening to the birds sing while sitting under the stars and marveling at the skyscrapers towering above the tiled roof of our little inn.
 Abandoning our western thought was essential for our survival in the busy streets of Beijing. Visitors should keep in mind that the lines on the roads, which we call lanes, are merely guidelines for the Chinese. We also found that crosswalks did not guarantee the right away for pedestrians. More than once we were almost brushed by a city bus and even a police car.
 Another concern we had, was the quality of the air. I remember the news reporting the problem for the athletes health prior to the Beijing Summer Games in 2008 and apparently nothing had changed. Getting enough satisfying breaths of oxygen was similar to my gasping for air in the high altitudes of Cuzco, Peru a few years before.
 One last negative before I hit the magical and amazing aspects of our trip to China. For us, getting a taxi to take us to our destination, was paramount to Chairman Mao parting the East China Sea with a wave of the hand. It's not the cab drivers fault that most Americans can't read or write in Chinese characters. Communicating what we needed, was a major problem but somehow, after time we still managed.
 Chairman Mao once said "If you haven't been to the Great Wall, you aren't a real man." Fortunately for me, visiting the most famous of border structures was on the top of Amber's list of things she wanted to see. I'm pleased to announce my maturation process towards masculinity is complete.
 A couple hours north of Beijing, is the less crowded and touristy section of the wall known as Mutianyu where we boarded a gondola that took us from the valley floor to the wall. Honestly, I have never seen anything as impressive as the Great Wall anywhere in the world; at least not anything that was constructed by man. After walking along the precipice a little way, Kim and I sat down and waited for Amber to run up the incline to a watch tower more than a mile away. We looked around, marveling at just the one section of the 6,000 kilometer long wall. Kim, being a little more in tune to her spiritual side, practically felt and heard the ancient voices of the men guarding the northern border with an occasional dog barking in the distance. For me, I could only imagine what it would have been like centuries before.
 As equally impressive is the Forbidden City right in the heart of Beijing. From the outside, you can't imagine how expansive it is until you buy your ticket and enter. Structure after structure separated by enormous courtyard after courtyard; all having a similar appearance.
 Home of twenty-four emperors between the Ming and Qing dynasties, the once imperial palace is now a thought provoking museum of surviving treasures, thrones, gardens, and incredible tiled art. We walked through the ancient city for an hour looking for a tiled picture of 9 dragons which didn't disappoint. Unfortunately, for the Chinese, most of the artifacts are now on display in Taiwan; a sore spot for the Chinese government.
 During our stay we also visited Tiananmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Llama Temple, the Ming Tombs, and even the Beijing Zoo to see a real, live Panda. We sat through a never-ending performance of the Peking Opera as well as an incredible and rewarding acrobatic show the following evening. I highly recommend the latter but the former, well, eh........ During both performances we listened to people talking loudly on their cell phones without even a thought of consideration for the patrons or the performers.
 No matter where we visited during our stay, Kim and I were amused to see family after family ask if they could take a family picture with Amber. We guessed seeing a tall blonde girl in Beijing was not a very common sight.
 Someday we will visit China again. Once you look past the little idiosyncrasies' of China and the differences between east and west. The land of guardian dragons and Tai Chi in the park is a magical place to visit.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Tomorrow afternoon we leave for China! Kim, Amber and I are catching a flight to Chicago and then on to Beijing. This will be my first trip with Amber since we went to Munich Germany four years ago. Really, really looking forward to it.

Why is travel so important? This is a question I've been asked and I have a variation of answers.

First, I've always taken my kids on trips because its a great bonding time with them. Over twelve years ago I started taking my kids on international trips and I've relished the time spent with them while we experience new cultures and cities. Amber has personally been to Thailand, Greece, Germany, England, Italy, New Zealand, Brazil, Costa Rica and now China.

Second, Americans sometimes act as if they are the only people in the world. My kids have learned that there are other people and their feelings and lives deserve our consideration. My children will not act as the "ugly Americans".

Third, the experience. In Thailand, Amber sat with a full grown tiger in her lap. In Paris, Kim and I watched a chamber orchestra play in a thousand year old church. In Ireland, Heather and I stayed in a real castle hotel. And in Belgium, Kim, Logan, and I had lunch one Sunday with friends in Brussels. Each of the trips I've been on to over 25 countries have had memorable and special experiences.

Fourth, it is in other countries that I'm inspired to write my stories. Who knows what being in China might bring to my imagination.

How fortunate I am to have a wife who loves to travel and experience the world as much as I do.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday and my dad

Today is Easter! What a beautiful day too. The skies are overcast so the temperature in north Texas is not too hot. Birds are singing outside my open window. And, today is the day we celebrate Christ's resurrection.

I have a profound belief in the resurrection and eternal life. Thank heaven, literally, for this knowledge that we will all live again. I love my Savior and appreciate what he did for me and all of us.

Two weeks ago today my father fell while trying to get out of his wheel chair. As a result, he broke his hip. When the medical staff taking care of him found his injury, the performed surgery to alleviate the pain he was in and unfortunately, he never really came out of it. He sweetly, and quietly, passed away with my brother Gary sitting next to him in the hospital room.

The funeral was on Thursday, the 6th of April. It wasn't all that easy for my family to get there. On Tuesday, I inadvertantly stepped on my glasses and smashed them flat, fortunately they didn't break (yet) and they were able to be straightened so I could wear them. On the same day, tornadoes ravished the DFW metroplex which jeopardized our flight to Salt Lake City on Thursday. 65 of American Airlines' planes were damaged and hundreds of flights cancelled. We were able to go standby the day before and even sat in first class. Our struggles were not over however. On Friday, Kim, Logan, and I woke up in a hotel that wind had knocked out power. We had no electricty and no heated water for showers. Also, my talk that I was to give in just a few hours, was still on my computer and I had no way of printing it. That morning was spent jotting down notes that I could remember and that was what I based my talk on. It also snowed that night and dropped into the 30's.

Everything at the viewing and the funeral went remarkably well. My dad was burried in Salt Lake City Cemetery with an honor guard from the disabled veterans. It was quite a tribute and one that my dad, Clinton Hale, definitely deserved.

My dad was the most amazing man I've ever known. He was humble and quiet. He went about his career and his church jobs with a dedication I've never seen in anyone else. He was my example, my friend, my home teaching companion as a youth, my mentor and teacher. He was my father.

Dad, I'll always love and miss you. Godspeed!

Your son Chris.