Killeen Weather: August 2017 Summary


August And January Trends
The white dots on the graph above show the HLA (high-low average) for each month since January 2010, while the blue and red lines show trends for January and August, respectively.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

While the early months of this year were the warmest of all time for this area, that trend has flattened in summer, especially with August.

August 2017 was the coolest August since we moved here — I have eight years of records. I can’t compare it to previous Augusts in history, because that information simply isn’t available from official weather agencies. I show an HLA (high-low average) of 85.21°F for the month — this is the average of all 31 daily highs and lows for the month — which is a full eight degrees cooler than our hottest August (2011) of all time. It’s also cooler than all but one of our Julys, and cooler than three of our Junes.

There were only seven 100-degree days, the fewest in the past eight years. It’s also the first time since we moved here that August saw fewer 100-degree days than did July.

Twenty-five days hit 90°F or higher, which is a tie for the fewest among the past eight Augusts, and it’s the third year in a row that August lost to July. In fact, July now averages more 90-degree days than August.

101°F was the high for the month, the lowest August high since we moved here, and only the second time that August didn’t beat July’s high.

69°F was our low, which was unremarkable. August’s average low is now lower than July’s.

We received 4.38 inches of rainfall in August, the second-rainiest August since moving here (August 2016 is the record holder). Both August 2017 (4.38″) and August 2016 (8.01″) saw more rainfall than all the other Augusts combined (3.89″). August now averages more rain than July.

Seven days saw precipitation, which is the second-most for August. August’s average for rainy days is now higher than July and October.

TRENDS

Earlier this year, due to the surprising warmth, I began to suspect 2017 would surpass 2012 as our hottest year of all time. It is still possible — 2012’s summer wasn’t overly remarkable for its heat; the record came from the winter, fall, and spring months. But this surprisingly cool August puts a serious dent in 2017’s chances.

Four of 2012’s monthly HLA records still stand (January, April, May, and December). In order for 2017 to overtake 2012 at this point, we need to be above average temperature for the next four months, which is easily possible. September varies less than any other month, October has been on a strong warming trend the past eight years, November could go either way, and December looks due for another warm one too.

Rainwise, we have already received more rain than two entire years (2011 and 2014), and if current trends continue, we’ll beat all but 2015. More than any of the past seven years, 2017 has seen the rain spread evenly throughout most months, with few long dry spells.

I’ve Never Had This Many Boring Dreams In A Row


Cotton Candy Dream
This photoshopped version of a photo of the Oklahoma sky has always seemed vaguely dreamlike to me.
(Copyright © 2005 by Wil C. Fry.)

While some people rarely remember their dreams and other people seem to recall all of them, I’m somewhere in the middle. Typically, I have full dream recall every couple of months — and usually when they’re particularly confusing, vivid, scary, or interesting. I don’t always remember to write descriptions immediately and most of them are lost to my memory after a few minutes or hours.

A couple of months ago, I had one that was so striking, so terrible that I was afraid to write it down for a couple of weeks.

But ever since that day, I’ve had full recall of half a dozen dreams, all of which were the most boring dreams I can think of. More boring than any other dreams I’ve ever recalled.

(Read more…)

July 2017 Weather Summary (Killeen)

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Published on: 2017.08.01


Temperature trend lines for July, 2010-2017.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

July 2017 was warmer than the eight-year average for July, with an HLA of 88.32°F, though slightly cooler than the previous July. As seen on the graph above, we hit an all-time high in 2011, cooled from there, and recently rose again. July 2016 and 2017 are the second and third-warmest Julys, respectively.

This year, both June and July have been cooler than the same months in 2016, though July was very close. The previous five months all showed warming trends over 2016.

Our high for the month was 106°F, the second-highest July temp since we moved here, and among the highest July temps of all time for this region. Our low for the month was 73°F, which is warmer than our average. This is part of the ongoing trend of our lows getting warmer (the area doesn’t cool off as quickly at night as it used to). This is the sixth consecutive month with a warmer-than-average low.

We set three daily records this July — 102°F on the 22nd, 104°F on the 28th, and 106°F on the 29th. The last of those broke a 20-year-old record; the other two broke records set since we moved here. Once again, we did not set any record lows.

Every day of July 2017 exceeded 90°F, and we saw 11 days of 100°F or higher, which is very close to average and identical with the past two Julys.

I measured 0.36 inches of rainfall for July 2017, well below July’s already-dry average, and the lowest monthly total so far this year. Six days saw precipitation, which is above average for July. Almost all the rain was concentrated in the early days of the month; by the end of July I finally had to water my lawn — the first time this year.

• TRENDS

Despite the May and June not holding up, 2017 is still capable of beating 2012 as our hottest year on record, because of our very warm beginning (our combined January-thru-April HLA has never been this warm).

The lows from February, March, and June were warmer than they’ve ever been, and our last freezing day was in the second week of January (unprecedented).

Rain-wise, this is the first year we’ve lived here in which all six of the first six months have seen two or more inches of rainfall. In fact, most years see at least one early month with less than one inch of rain. For the first time, our rain has been spread out evenly through the spring and early summer, instead of coming in bursts separated by long dry stretches. Our year-to-date total is 22.24 inches.

My prediction: we’ll have our second-rainiest year since living here (2015 being the rainiest year with 46.8 inches), and the second-hottest year.

What You Missed While We Were Apart

(This entry is primarily for old friends that have recently found me on social media. But I hope the rest of you get something out of this mini-biography too.)


The Good Ole Days
Records are unclear, but many eyewitnesses testified that I was always very, very sane and balanced.
(circa 1989)

In the past year or two, I’ve met a lot of you again — after years of no contact. While I have enjoyed our online interactions, those moments often overlook the huge gap in time between then and now. You can deduct a few things about my present life from my profile and recent posts, but if you were wondering about the missing years, this entry is for you.

For some of you, my high school graduation in 1990 was when we last spoke; for others, it was just after that, or early 1990s college days. Today, I had a brilliant and important interaction with a late-1990s friend. (And some of my regular readers have never met me in person.)

So each of you will ease into this story at a different spot.

I don’t know what you remember of me, or what you thought of me at the time — and I am incredibly curious to know, even if it’s not complimentary — so I will of necessity write this from my own point of view. Brevity isn’t my strong suit, but rest assured that I made an attempt at it.

(Read more…)

June 2017 Weather Summary


Temperature trend lines for June, 2010-2017.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

June 2017 was cooler than the eight-year average for June, and cooler than the previous June. In fact, of the eight Junes I have lived in Killeen, Texas, the latter four have been cooler than the first four. June was the first month of 2017 that was cooler than the same month in 2016. (May and June were both cooler than average, while January through April were all warmer than average.) June 2011 remains the warmest June in local history, with June 2012 running a close second.

Our high for the month was 102°F, which is about average. Our low for the month was 69°F, which is remarkable — the first time June’s low has been so warm. This is part of the ongoing trend of our lows getting warmer (the area doesn’t cool off as quickly at night as it used to), while our highs have stagnated. It’s the third month this year in which the monthly low was higher than it’s ever been.

We set one daily record this June, 102°F on June 23. Again, we did not set any record lows.

I measured 3.91 inches of rainfall for June 2017, the second-most of the last eight Junes, and the second-highest monthly total in 2017 (behind April). Nine separate days saw precipitation, which is well above average for June. Our rain was spread equally through the month, so our lawn has stayed green without any help from me.

• TRENDS

Despite the cooler-than-average* May and June, 2017 is still on track to beat 2012 as our hottest year on record, because of our very warm beginning (our combined January-thru-April HLA has never been this warm).

(* Note: these “averages” are only for the past eight years, during which I’ve kept meticulous records. Based on limited data available from weather services, the most recent eight years have been significantly warmer than the historical average.)

The lows from February, March, and June were warmer than they’ve ever been, and our last freezing day was in the second week of January.

Rain-wise, this is the first year we’ve lived here in which all six of the first six months have seen two or more inches of rainfall. In fact, most years see at least one early month with less than one inch of rain. For the first time, our rain has been spread out evenly through the spring and early summer, instead of coming in bursts separated by long dry stretches. Our year-to-date total is 21.88 inches.

My prediction: we’ll have our second-rainiest year since living here (2015 being the rainiest year with 46.8 inches).

My Seventh Father’s Day

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Published on: 2017.06.19

Yesterday was my seventh Father’s Day as a father. It is only now that I think of myself (instead of my own Dad) when I hear the words “Father’s Day”. I don’t care much for cards or gifts, but my children bought a card anyway, a Star Wars-themed one. It was cute. I might or might not photograph it before putting it in the recycling bin.


Crazy Daddy
My six-year-old daughter made this photo of me June 1.
(Copyright © 2017 by Rebecca L. Fry.)

More than anything, I spent the day reflecting on my performance as a father. I think, in a contest of fathers, worldwide, that I might finish in the top 40%. Maybe a bit higher, due to the whole stay-at-home thing, but I know I’ll never win Father Of The Year in any category. Fortunately, I don’t typically care how I rank against other people in categories like this (not that there’s any sensible way to rank anyone; it was just a figure of speech).

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Third Annual Galveston Vacation


The Four Of Us
A helpful passerby made this photo of all four of us at Fort San Jacinto Historic Point on Galveston’s northeastern end. From this spot, one can watch massive ships going to and from the ports of both Galveston and Houston, or fish, or just enjoy the gentle breezes off the Gulf of Mexico. You can also see both sunrises and sunsets from this point.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

Last week, we made our third annual pilgrimage to Galveston, Texas, this time for only two nights — following my advice from last year, when I said: “When we come to visit the beach, we should stay only for a couple of days…” It’s simply too hot and too humid to fully enjoy most non-beach activities. Other stuff can be visited in winter, when it’s a more comfortable 60°F.

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May 2017 Weather Summary

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Published on: 2017.06.01


Temperature trend lines for May, 2010-2017.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

May 2017 was cooler than the eight-year average for May, but only barely. It’s the first year this month that wasn’t warmer than its average. May 2012 remains the warmest May on record. April and May this year were something of a relief, since the previous two months set all-time records for warmth.

As May’s temps leveled off the past four years, they began to match well with October — which has been warmer than usual recently. Note on the graph above, the most recent green lines cross right through October dots.

Our high for the month was 93°F (twice), which isn’t remarkable (slightly below average). Our low for the month was 51°F, which is very near average and median.

We didn’t set any daily records this May, either lows or highs.

I measured 2.22 inches of rainfall for May 2017. This would be decent for most months, but May is our rainiest month on average. This is the least rainfall we’ve received in May since 2010. However, 15 separate days saw precipitation, which is more than average. (Most of those days, the precipitation was observed, but not enough to measure.)

• TRENDS

We’re on track to have either the hottest year on record (beating 2012) or the second-hottest year, behind 2012. Our combined January-thru-April HLA has never been this warm, and this is the warmest May since 2012. That year, January through May and December all set records, three of which still stand. (This year, February and March surpassed 2012’s records.) No other year is comparable with 2017’s heat so far.

The lows from February through April were warmer than they’ve ever been, and our last freezing day was in the second week of January.

April 2017 Weather Summary

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Published on: 2017.05.02


Temperature trend lines for April, 2010-2017.
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

April 2017 was warmer than the eight-year average, but only barely. April 2012 remains the warmest April on record. This was a bit of relief, since the previous two months set all-time records for warmth.

Note that April is our “bellwether” month — April’s average HLA (high-low average) is closest to our annual average HLA. In a few specific years, October was closer to that year’s HLA.

Our high for the month was 91°F (twice), which isn’t remarkable as April goes. But our low for the month was startling at 49°F. Most previous Aprils have seen temperatures cooler than that — usually in the 30s or low 40s. Even May often sees temps cooler than 49°F. That trend held true for the entire month, with our lows being warmer than usual, which is what bumped the HLA above average, despite the highs being unremarkable.

We didn’t set any daily record lows, but recorded one daily record high early in the month.

I measured 6.69 inches of rainfall for April 2017. This is a new record, beating last April. Most of that rain fell on one day, April 11 (our fourth-rainiest day since we moved here eight years ago), and most of the remainder was on April 2. I recorded only 8 days that saw precipitation, which is slightly below average as well as below median.

• TRENDS

1. Our combined January-thru-April HLA has never been this warm. The last time a year began with heat anywhere close to this (2012), we ended up with our warmest year of all time. That year, January through May and December all set records, three of which still stand. (This year, February and March surpassed 2012’s records.)

2. The lows from February through April are warmer than they’ve ever been, and our last freezing day was in the second week of January. All I can extrapolate from this is the continuing trend of lows in most months getting warmer. Most months, our HIGHS aren’t seeing startling rises, but it’s not getting as cool as it used to at night.

3. The last time January/February/March/April combined for so few freezing days (four) was 2012 (two), our warmest year on record.

4. The last time we started off a year this wet (15 inches in four months) was 2010, which turned out to be an average year rainfall-wise, because the second half of it was extremely dry.

All signs point to a very hot year, but also not a very dry one (overall). Our only very dry year since moving here was 2011, and that drought was already apparent the previous winter.

Entering A New Era

Comments: 4 Comments
Published on: 2017.04.05

I’ve tried to keep friends and family updated about my wife’s job situation via Facebook, but those posts tend to get lost in the shuffle, now buried under hundreds of other posts. Here is the latest.

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March 2017 Weather Summary

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Published on: 2017.04.01


Temperature trend lines for March, 2010-2017
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

March 2017 was our warmest March on record, beating the previous record-holder, March 2012. The high-low average (HLA) was 68.00°F, nearly a full degree warmer per day than the previous record-breaking March.

Not only was March 2017 warmer than all previous Marches (and all Januaries, Februaries, Novembers, and Decembers), but it was also warmer than one of our Aprils.

Our high for the month was 87°F (twice), which isn’t remarkable as March goes. But our low for the month was startling at 43°F. All previous Marches have seen temperatures cooler than that — occasionally including freezing temperatures. Even April and October often see temps cooler than 43°F. That trend held true for the entire month, with our lows being warmer than usual, which is what bumped the HLA to the record.

We didn’t set any daily record lows, but recorded two daily record highs.

I measured 2.21 inches of rainfall for March 2017. This is below average, but very close to March’s median (the average was skewed upward by the nearly 11 inches of ran in March 2012). I recorded 11 days that saw precipitation, which is above average, but close to the median.

• PREDICTIONS

1. Our combined January/February/March HLA has never been this warm. The last time a year began with heat anywhere close to this (2012), we ended up with our warmest year of all time. That year, January, April, May, and December all set records that still stand. (At the time, February and March set records too, but both have since been surpassed.)

2. We’ve never seen a March low as high as 43°F (or a February low as high as 38°F). All I can extrapolate from this is the continuing trend of lows in most months getting warmer. Most months, our HIGHS aren’t seeing startling rises, but it’s not getting as cool as it used to at night.

3. The last time January/February/March combined for so few freezing days (four) was 2012 (two), our warmest year on record.

All signs point to a very hot year, but also not a very dry one. Our only very dry year since moving here was 2011, and that drought was already apparent by March.

February 2017 Weather Summary


Temperature trend lines for Februaries, 2010-2017
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

February 2017 was our warmest February on record, beating the previous year, which in turn bested 2012. The high-low average (HLA) was 63.79°F, nearly five degrees warmer per day than the previous record-breaking February.

Not only was February 2017 warmer than all previous Februaries (and Januaries and Decembers), but it was warmer than the averages for March and November — only two Marches and two Novembers in the past eight years have been warmer than this February.

Our high for the month was 91°F, on the 23rd, which is the earliest we’ve ever experienced a 90-degree day, and the highest high that I can find ever recorded for February. Our low was 38°F, on the 16th, which is the warmest low for any February since we’ve lived here — also well above average for typically warmer months like March and November. Such a warm month would better fit among Aprils and Octobers.

We didn’t set any daily record lows, but recorded six daily record highs (and tied another).

No days dipped below freezing, which is rare for February. Since we moved here in 2009, the only other February that saw zero freezing days was in 2013.

I measured 3.52 inches of rainfall for February 2017. This makes it the wettest February since we’ve lived here (beating 2010). Only six days saw precipitation, however, which is a bit below average.

• PREDICTIONS

While it’s really too early to make predictions for this year, I did so last month and might as well note some continuing trends.

1. Our combined January/February HLA has never been this warm. The last time a year opened this warmly (2012), we ended up with our warmest year of all time. That year, March, April, and May all set records that still stand.

2. We’ve never seen a February low as high as 38°F, especially following a very cold January low (16°F). Usually, if February’s lowest temp is relatively warm, it followed a relatively warm January, but that wasn’t the case this year.

3. Only twice before have both January and February been warmer than the preceding December. One was 2012, our warmest year on record, and the other was 2014, our coolest year since moving here.

4. The last time January/February combined for so few freezing days was 2012, our warmest year on record.

5. The last time January/February combined for so many inches of rain (6.52″) was in 2010, an above-average rainfall year.

January 2017 Weather Summary (Local)


Trend lines for Augusts and Januaries, 2010-2017
(Copyright © 2017 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

January 2017 was our second-warmest January since moving to Killeen, Texas (follow the blue trend line in the image above), with a high-low average (HLA) of 54.89°F, second only to January 2012 — our warmest year in recorded history. Though January averages as our coldest month, this January was warmer than most of our Februaries and most of our Decembers — and it was warmer than the averages for both February and December.

This is the third time since we’ve lived here that January was warmer overall than the immediately preceding December (the others were January 2012 and January 2014). So far, every time a December is cooler than the previous December, then the coming January will be warmer. January 2016 and 2017 represent the first time since we’ve lived here that January’s HLA has risen two years in a row.

Our high for the month was 82°F, on the 24th, which is about average for January. Our low was 16°F, on the 7th, which is well below average for the month. We set one daily record low (16°F on the 7th) and two daily record highs (80°F on the 11th and 78°F on the 12th).

Only four days dipped below freezing, all of them consecutive. This is the fewest freezing days for January since 2012. One day (the 6th) stayed below freezing, which is a first for January as long as we’ve lived here.

I measured 3.33 inches of rainfall for January 2017. This is above average, but our Januaries tend to switch back and forth from well above average (2.31″) to well below average. Ten days saw precipitation, second only to 12 in January 2015.

• PREDICTIONS

It’s too early to make predictions for this year, but I will note the following trends.

1. The last time January’s HLA was anywhere close to this, we had our warmest year in the history of this city (2012), and the four subsequent months (February-May, 2012) also set records — though February’s was broken in 2016.

2. The only two other times (2010 and 2014) we had a January low under 20°F, the year’s HLA turned out to be below average — and 2014 was the coolest of the past eight years. Obviously, this contradicts the HLA trend mentioned in #1. Only one of them will turn out to be true this year.

3. Every time January’s number of freezing days is below the current average, the year’s total of freezing days is below average.

4. The only other time we had 10 or more precip days in January (2015), it turned out to be the record rainfall year — with nearly 47 inches.

Year In Review: 2016


In 2016, RnB became fast friends and partners in crime
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)


RLF, on her first day of school
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

• Top Stories

In the story of our family, two events dominated 2016, both of them positive. The first was our trip to Portland, Oregon in early August, which produced memories that will last a lifetime.

The second was just a couple of weeks later: Rebecca started kindergarten — her longest stretches of time without M and I (since NICU, anyway). In the few months since she began, she quickly learned to read and write, and now can’t remember not being able to do either. She’s made dozens of new friends and has a completely different understanding of the outside world.

(Read more…)

November 2016 Weather Summary (Local)


Trend lines for Novembers, 2010-2016
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)

November 2016 was our warmest November since moving to Texas, surpassing November 2012 — which at the time was labeled the warmest November in local history. The HLA (“high-low average”, averaged from daily HLAs) was 65.13°F, a five-degree jump from last year’s November, and 10 degrees higher than our coolest November (2014).

As the image above shows, November’s HLAs appeared to be on a cooling trend from 2010 to 2014 (interrupted by 2012), but the past two Novembers clearly turned that around.

It is notable that October 2016 was also the warmest October on record (see my monthly HLA table), making it two months in a row that we’ve set a monthly record. That happened last year too (September and October 2015), but is fairly rare — the previous time we saw two consecutive months set records were November and December of 2012.

Our high for the month was 88°F, on the first day, while our low was 37°F, on the 20th. We set one daily record high, with 86°F on Nov. 16.

Zero days reached the freezing point, which has only happened once before — in 2012. Typically, our first freezing temperature of the fall/winter occurs in mid-to-late November. November averages 1.71 days that reach the freezing point or below.

I measured 3.83 inches of rainfall in November 2016, which is our second-most in the past seven years (Nov. 2015 saw the most). Thirteen days experienced precipitation, which is tied with Nov. 2015 for the most and is well above average.

• YEAR TO DATE

With only one month remaining in 2016, a few things are fairly obvious.

HLA: 2016 is on track to be our second-warmest year (behind only 2012). December would have to be mind-blowingly warm in order for 2016 to break 2012’s overall HLA, or much cooler than average in order for 2016 to fall into third place.

FREEZING: If we make it past Dec. 6 without seeing freezing temperatures (likely), this year’s span of non-freezing days will be the longest we’ve seen — breaking the 304-day record from 2012. If we see one or fewer freezing days in December (unlikely), we’ll tie or break the record for fewest freezing days in a year (also 2012). Most likely is that 2016’s tally of freezing days will end slightly higher than 2012’s.

RAINFALL: 2016 will finish as our second-rainiest year; we’re already well-past 2010’s second-place total, but would need December to get 11 inches of rain (unprecedented) in order to beat 2015’s rainfall record. It will also end with the second-most rainy days (behind 2015) — unless December has 10 or more days with precipitation (unusual).

We Sold The Silver Surfer

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Published on: 2016.11.26


The first two photos I made of our Silver Surfer
(Copyright © 2007 by Wil C. Fry.)

Today, I said my final farewell to our 2000 Mercury Sable LS, which I’ve owned longer than any other car.

On one hand, I think it’s strange to develop an emotional attachment to a piece of technology — a complex system of interlocking smaller systems that’s basically just a glorified wheeled cart. On the other hand, it’s difficult not to have such an attachment to something that’s been an integral part of our lives for so long. It’s been in our lives through most of our marriage, and through the entirety of my children’s lives.

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I’m Still Blogging; Just Not Here

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Published on: 2016.11.16

For anyone still checking this page, please be advised that I no longer blog my daily comings-and-goings. I have fully switched over to a private journal file that I keep locally (on my computer) instead of online. I do still blog regularly on my less personal blog Verily I Say Unto Thee — I try to post at least once a week, though that isn’t always easy.

‘Cutting The Cord’ — A Long Time Coming

For the third year in a row, we called the cable company to cancel cable TV. This time, we actually did it.

The first time, Time Warner Cable offered such a steep discount that we accepted it and kept TV for another year. When the price began to rise again, we called again to cancel, but again they offered such a discount that we agreed to have TV for another year.

A few days ago, when my wife called “Spectrum” (the new name of TWC), she actually wanted to give them more money. What happened:

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Happy Birthday To My Wife

Comments: 2 Comments
Published on: 2016.09.19

Marline and I at Ecola State Park, Oregon
(Copyright © 2016 by Rebecca L. Fry.)

I often hear: “I can’t imagine life without her” (or him). This is not true in my case. I can indeed imagine life without my wife.

As a stay-at-home father of two, I often do imagine life without her. For 45 or more hours every week, I’m — in effect — a single parent. Those are not my favorite hours of the week. Almost daily, I think: “Single parents are freaking superheroes!”

Not because I’m a pessimist but because I’m a realist, a practical person, I force myself to be prepared to many possibilities in life. One of those possibilities is that my wife — our breadwinner, our head-of-household, our connection to the middle class — won’t make it home someday. I first seriously thought about this on Nov. 5, 2009, when a self-described “Soldier of Allah” opened fire on Ft. Hood, sending dozens of bullet-ridden soldiers through the doors of the emergency room where my wife was then employed. I was at home, five miles away, feeling helpless. On that day, had my wife’s name been counted among the victims, I figured that after a period of mourning I could move on with my life, going pretty much anywhere I wanted to. We didn’t have children yet.

Today, with two small children, imagining life without her is scarier. Every day when she calls to say, “I’m on my way home”, it’s a relief, and then 20 minutes later I completely relax when I hear her key unlocking the deadbolt. What if that key didn’t turn?

I’m a grown person, so I actually can’t imagine falling completely apart if she didn’t make it home — for whatever reason. But I know it would be difficult.

The hardest part — I assume — would be answering the “where’s Mommy?” questions from the children, and then attempting to support them emotionally on top of my own grief — while also holding together the household. “Holding together the household” might actually be the easiest part — because so much of it is routine. Getting everyone dressed and fed, putting the correct child on the school bus in the morning and getting her back in the evening, putting away toys every night, bathing, putting them to bed… Most of this would happen without much thought.

Finding the money to make it happen would be harder, I know. True, it’s not very romantic to think about this, but as a practical person, I can’t help it. If I immediately returned to work, half my salary would go to daycare. The rest wouldn’t be enough to make ends meet (despite life insurance probably being enough to cover funeral expenses and pay off the remainder of our mortgage). There would be a stark, immediate shift in our lifestyles from “doing pretty well” to “barely making it”, or perhaps even “not making it”.

My children would join the 26% of American minors living in single-parent households, along with all the possible consequences derived from that.

And I haven’t even begun to mention how much I would miss my wife emotionally or in other ways. Imagine being on a sports team, engaged in a championship game against another team. Then try to imagine that same contest without your teammates. Try playing a doubles tennis match without a partner, or scoring a touchdown against Alabama without the burly guys blocking for you, or being a goalie without your other 10 players. Try to cover the outfield and all three bases without help. You can’t. I can’t. Even Pelé couldn’t win a game alone. (It bears repeating that I consider all single parents to be awesome superheroes, even the ones who utterly fail.)

My wife is my teammate. She catches the fly balls that I can’t get to, holds the football while I attempt field goals, runs interference for me, and is at the other end of every double play. Teamwork isn’t everything in a marriage, but it’s almost everything.

While I don’t discount help I might receive from family and friends, there is no question that my life — and the lives of my children — would be immeasurably more difficult without my wife being around.

If you read into this any depressing thoughts, that’s in your own mind. This text is a celebration of how much my wife means to me, despite being viewed through the lens of her hypothetical absence. Occasionally considering how it all might turn out only serves to increase my appreciation for the wonderful woman who chose to spend her life with me.

Today, on her birthday — the 12th that she’s celebrated since meeting me — I am reminded of many things. Most of all, perhaps, I’m reminded of the strange confluence of events that led to us meeting each other, and how easily it could have never happened. If multiple universes or alternate timelines exist, it’s likely that in most of them we didn’t end up together; there were too many ways for it to go wrong. I’ve never been more glad to be living in this universe and on this timeline.

Portland Vacation (2016.08)


Portland skyline panorama, as seen from Pittock Mansion
Click here to see it larger (2048 x 296)
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry. Some rights reserved.)


Colorful flower garden in front of our hotel
(Copyright © 2016 by Wil C. Fry.)

My vacation entries always require a few days to prepare. This one took longer, because: real life. Yet it should be briefer than most, due to a different format. Rather than go full chronological order, as is my custom, I’m treating this vacation in a topical fashion to save time.

Photos aren’t a priority of this entry. If you’re terribly interested in my photos, you’re already following me on Flickr. If you’re only mildly interested in my images, scroll to the end of this entry and follow the link.

• The Superlatives

This vacation was the longest — distance from home — of my marriage. Google Maps says it’s 2,053 miles from Austin to Portland by automobile; it’s about 1,710 miles if you could fly in a straight line. This is farther than our trips to New England (2008, 2014), Montreal (2009), or out West (2009).

(Read more…)

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