Monday, July 30, 2012

Milton Wright

While on vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina we took the three boys to the Wright Brothers Museum and National Park. My family met my brother Jim and his family at the field where Orville and Wilbur Wright, also brothers, made history by flying the world's first flying machine. I was overcome with inspiration and awe, standing there knowing that two brothers over a hundred years before did something so significant and monumental in that very spot.
I wanted my kids, three brothers, to remember this day, and possibly look back at it as a day they too were inspired to do great things. During the visit a park ranger handed out kites for kids to fly in that very same historic spot.

Some historians claim that the Wright Brothers developed an interest in aviation when their father, Milton, brought them a gift of a toy Peanud helicopter.

There were about 75 people out on that historic field as the ranger handed out the kites. There wer not enough kites to go around to every person. My sons, Wyatt and Jackson had to share. It took them all of three minutes to start arguing. A few moments later Jackson punched Wyatt in the belly. Wyatt punched back. Soon they were in a a knock-down-drag-out wrestling match. I struggled to break them up and maintain an airborne kite at the same time. I sighed,  a deep sigh that got lost in the winds of that field. I felt a touch of sympathy for Milton Wright, Orville and Wilbur's father, who gave his sons a toy that inspired them to want to learn to fly. Milton Wright probably does not get the credit he deserves for breaking up the fights between thoes brothers over that toy.

I used to be inspired by heroes like the Wright Brothers. Now I think I can relate more to Milton.

In Brad Meltzer's book Heroes For My Son, Brad writes "Every day, they knew they'd fail. Every time they'd go out to fly--every time--they brought extra material because they knew their fledgling design would crash. Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. But never, ever give up."

That was written about Orville and Wilbur, I think the same could be said for Milton.


After the the WWF match at Kitty Hawk we drove down to Jockey's Ridge State Park to check out the Eastern seaboard's largest sand dune. Again we met my brother Jim and his family. The dunes are a spectacular sight. Standing on the lookout, viewing the 400 plus acres of "living dunes",  I was again feeling inspired.
On one of the hottest days of the year my family and my brother Jim's family climbed to the peak of the ridge.

I had overheard some people at the base of the dunes say that people could Boogie Board down the steep sides, kind of like sledding in sand. I thought about the Wright Brothers. I thought about inspiration. I thought about Brad Meltzer's words. I carried the Boogies Boards.

My brother Jim went first. He face-planted in seconds. Learning from my brother's mistake, I took a different approach and tried to push Maxfield down the large sandy hill. I too face-planted pretty quickly, Max fell and went nowhere.

I thought about Meltzer's words again. Hot, sunburned, sweaty and covered in sand, after those two attempts, we gave up. I am more of a Milton myself.

The last two photos are courtesy of my sister in law Shannon. Used with permisssion.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Nice Try

"Nice try." Rob said as pushed his empty plate forward and leaned back in his chair away from the table. A look of satisfaction eased onto his face.

"Thanks." Bob replied through a fork full of pasta.

Rob burped loud and long.

"I'll do the dishes." I said, standing up from the table.

"Bill, leave the pots and pans for me." Rob said.

Bob had just prepared and cooked the best meal we three young roommates had eaten in a very long while. We were all in our early twenties living in an apartment above a house. Most of our meals consisted of Spaghettios, pizza or bar food. Occasionally Bob, who raised as a latchkey kid learned to cook at an early age, would make dinner for the three of us.  That night he made the best tasting Chicken and Broccoli Alfredo I have ever had.

"Nice try Bob, nice try." Rob said again smiling.

Bob was not offended. He knew that Rob's "nice try" was of the highest compliments he could receive. "Nice try" was Rob's funny way of saying excellent or perfect, while keeping you humble.

Not too long ago I started to use the "nice try" phrase with Lauren. Lauren in return also started using it with me. It is our little inside joke way of saying "good job". Sometimes, like any inside joke, it is misunderstood by other people who might hear us say it. We sometimes get funny looks but we know what it means.

Tomorrow marks 10 years of being married to Lauren. When I married her it was a Nice Try. The past 10 years have been a Nice Try. I hope the next 10, 20, 30 years will be a Nice Try.