Eighteen years ago the Little Black Dress and I dropped our car off at a shipyard in Seattle. I never expected to see it again.
We then boarded an Alaska Airlines flight — a first on that airline — and flew to Juneau, Alaska. Another first.
We were continually warned that it rained there, a lot. All I remember is flying into Juneau, determining how close we really were to those mountains, and arriving to perfect skies.
And it stayed like that for days. I later learned it was the longest non-rain stretch in Juneau history. Welcome to Alaska, we were told. You never know. And yes, the car showed up a few days later.
And so began our five-year journey in our adopted state. One that included celebrating a massive fireworks show down at the airport as part of our welcoming in a new century. Another first.
There were lots of firsts. Our first house, learning to fly fish, welcoming the Eldest SON of Thunder into the world, working with a great group to put out the best newspaper we could and then start all over the next day.
And now another first - the first “new” column for the Juneau Empire.
No pressure. It’s the one that sets the stage. The one readers scan to see if they’ll keep reading … or be back next time.
The whole “first impression” thing. No second chance. Fish or cut bait, sink or swim, is this dog gonna hunt and just go ahead and fill in your cliche of choice any time now.
Yeah, that one. No pressure.
Just a little background and style points to start with.
First, to the wonderful English teachers out there. Sometimes, I start sentences with “and.” And sometimes I start them with “however.” However, that’s just the way I write and is no reflection on you. I also don’t always write a complete sentence, at least grammatically. Just because.
And sometimes I just start writing and everyone is following along and then someone just starts begging for a comma at some point or seriously we need a period right about now because you still haven’t taken a breath and the sentence keeps going on and on and we’d call that a seriously hardcore run-on sentence and will it ever get to the point …
I also use ellipses … they’re cool looking.
There are a few people you’ll see popping up quite a bit around here. The first is the Little Black Dress, which is variously shortened to The Dress or LBD. That would be the woman, who in a moment of pure pity - she has a heart made of compassion - actually said “I do.” Let’s just say the nickname fits. Many in Juneau remember her as Corby.
There are also the three SONS of Thunder. SONS is always capitalized because, well, I’m not sure. But they are definitely all boys, all the time. The “Thunder” part pretty much speaks for itself.
And The Dress simple refers to me as Winters the Writer — when I’m not in trouble.
Over the years as The Dress and eventually the SONS joined us, I chronicled our adventures through newspaper columns, blogs and bookss. I realize that many have spouses and children, but few have such a combination as the LBD and the SONS.
As you follow along, you’ll learn the best toys aren’t always the toys, but the box they come in. Throw out the batteries, which you never have enough of anyway, toss in a child’s imagination, and there are no limits.
If all else fails, try the blue ball.
We have faced death, near death and attended funerals we did not want to. They were too early, we needed more time.
But we’ve also dug to China, campaigned in the Great Water War, survived a sinking catamaran and pretty much blew up a wave runner.
Life is hard, but it can also be fun. If you are like me, you realize you never know what will happen next. How you handle what gets thrown at you is the key.
So there will be a little advice, some wise words, a few tears, lots of laughs and many points to ponder.
We’ve learned what we are good at, and also what we fear. We have learned that our faith is our core foundation. We’ve also learned we are better together, and while we don’t understand everything or the “whys,” we know God is still in control.
And through countless bonfires, we have recounted the tales.
Welcome to our world.