Sunday, July 24, 2016

Kern River Blues by Merle Haggard

"Kern River Blues" the final song written and performed by Country & Western Legend (We still call it Country & Western). He doesn't fail. The song is a testimony to his life and career. Merle Haggard still very much on our minds and in our hearts!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Douglas Aircraft Company - Section Manager Training Program Certificate of Participation

Randy De La O

Douglas Aircraft Company Certificate of Participation

Of all the mementos and memorabilia that I have accumulated over the years working at McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Aircraft Companies, this is the one that means the most to me. It's the one that I'm proudest of. It probably doesn't amount to a hill of beans outside of MDC/Boeing but it represents a year of schooling and on the job training. It was earned. The program and class, in my case, ran from July 1988 to July 1989. The certificate itself was presented to me by the Douglas Aircraft Company-Long Beach, a subdivision of the McDonnell Douglas Company.

In some ways it changed my life forever. I conquered so many personal fears during this time. I met people that I might never have met otherwise. Good people. It was a great time in my life and a great personal memory.

There was a informal "Graduation" at the completion of the program. The above photo is from that day.

Monday, July 18, 2016

The Family Photo

My Family

I have mixed emotions whenever I see this photo. On one hand it makes me happy to see the family I grew up with, smiling and happy and enjoying the day. It was a going away party for my sister Evelyn and her boyfriend Gus, who were moving to Spanaway, Washington. I believe it was in 1976.

On the other hands it saddens me. Not because both my father and my sister are gone, or my mother is now living in a home, though there is that. It saddens me because in all the years together as a family, this is the only photograph of the five of us together as a complete family. I don't know why. Nobody thought of it. I wasn't intentional, it just worked out that way.

It would not have happened at all had  my wife, with the camera in her hand, not said “Let's get one with all of you in it". So this is the photograph of my family and I for posterity. It was a great day.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Are the Good Times Really Over - Merle Haggard (1982)

A timeless classic by Merle Haggard. This song - Are the Good Times Really Over - released in May of 1982 is as relevant today, maybe even more so, than the day it was released. One of my favorite Haggard songs!

An Old Photo of Jeri and I

An old photo of my wife Jeri and I.

The photo was taken in 1983 at the Merle Haggard Concert at the Chino Downs Ranch in Chino, California. The above photo with the belt and buckle around the frame was taken some time in 2015. The belt and the buckle are the same belt and buckle my wife is wearing in the photo (My wife is from San Antonio, Texas). The belt, buckle and photo was given to our daughter Meranda who was on her way to see Merle Haggard. Merle Haggard is a family tradition. Rest in Peace Merle Haggard!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Sunday Morning Coming Down

"Sunday Morning Coming Down" written by Kris Kristofferson and made famous by Johnny Cash. It doesn't get any better than this!

The Grandkids


Jeri and I almost had all the grandkids together a couple of weeks ago. From left to right; Mariah, Sidney holding Jack, Maddie and Kayla holding Kendra, only Trevor was missing. Next time.


Auntie Savannah and Jack with her nieces and sister Lori. Josh and Jeri in the background.

Saturday, July 09, 2016

The Avocado Trees

Hass Avocado Tree
Hass Avocados
My two Hass avocado trees are coming along nicely The trees are still young - a little over two years - but they are bearing fruit. The Fuerte avocado tree has not done as well. I almost gave it up for dead but it's making a comeback. It's not thriving but it is surviving When I first planted the trees in 2014 it was the biggest of my three trees (2 Hass, 1 Fuerte). It's been a struggle. Both the Hass and the Fuerte are my favorite avocados I can't wait to make a batch of guacamole from my own avocados.

I did have a Fuerte Avocado tree years ago given to me by my friend Ken Robledo. That tree was grown from his parents avocado tree at their home in Pico Rivera, California. That tree produced some of the best avocados that I have ever tasted up to this day. I had high hopes for the tree Ken gave me but that tree was destroyed by a dog, an Akita, that was given to my daughter Savannah about a month after I planted the tree. It broke my heart (and Ken's heart ). The dog was untrainable and unmanageable and we eventually gave it to a neighbor. 

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Swimming the Mighty Kern River (Kern River by Merle Haggard)

Years ago, I'm not exactly 100% sure, either the summer of 1979 or 1980, I went on a fishing and camping (and drinking) trip to Kern River with my two friends Ken Robledo and Mike Teran. Kern River was our old stomping grounds.

We fished, and we drank and we ate and we had a good time. At some point during the trip I took a short walk to the bank of the river. I looked across to the other side and there was a wall of granite. From where I stood it seemed to be at enough of a slant for someone to climb up and sit for a while. The water seemed like a sheet of glass with very little movement.

I couldn't tell you how wide it was, maybe as wide as boulevard. Whatever it was it looked manageable. I dove in head first, which if you know anything about Kern River, you know that's a big No-No. I started swimming to the other side and I realized immediately that the current was much stronger than it looked. I can say with all honesty, while I can swim, I am not a great swimmer and I had been drinking. I began to tire. I should have turned back but I figured I would rest on that giant slab of granite before swimming back. It all seemed like a good idea at the time.

I was beyond exhausted when I reached the other side. I tried to climb the rock but it turned out to be steeper than I had thought. I was trying to hold back my panic. I went up and down but there was no place for me to get a grip. On top of that it was all slippery.

As tired and spent as I was, I had no other choice but to swim back. I had nothing in me. I can say with absolute certainty that I had never reached the point of tiredness that I had at that moment. My will was gone. I knew I wasn't going to make it and for a moment I just gave up, I didn't know what else to do. I just gave up and I was letting the river take me.

At that moment a picture of my daughter Meranda popped into my head. She was still a baby The thought of her growing up without a father, without me, was more than I could take and I began praying, “Please God..... Please God..... Please!”.

I could not describe to you how I did it. I have no memory of it but I made it back to the other side. I found myself gasping and heaving on the sand and dirt and rocks. My two friends were standing on either side of me laughing. I was just too damned tired to care. I can't say I blame them though. I must have been a sight and without realizing what actually happened it probably did look funny.

I was lucky I didn't break my neck or crack my skull when I dove into the river. Many people have been seriously injured or worse. Many have drowned swimming Kern River. It is an unkind river. There is a sign posted at the entry way into the canyon letting you know how many people have died. I was almost one of them. God was watching out for me. I swear to God, I will never swim Kern River again!