Tangled Up Holidays

My life has been tangled up with holidays from Day One. Literally. I was born at five minutes to midnight on New Year’s Eve.

The major intersection between my life and a holiday comes on Thanksgiving. When Mrs. Hoge and I were planning our wedding day, we selected 24 November, the Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend in 1979. Every few years, our anniversary would fall on a Saturday again, and after we moved to Maryland, that would be opening day of deer season. Connie joined me on opening day in 2012. (Gentlemen, how many of you have had your wife ask you take her deer hunting for your anniversary?)

And from time to time, our anniversary would fall on Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Day, 2016, was our 37th anniversary. I was also the day Connie died.

So Thanksgiving is a very mixed day for me, but I’m thankful for 37 years of a loving marriage to a wonderful woman.

A Fond Memory

I’m writing this just after 1 am on Monday, 20 November. I knew this week was going to be a bit weird and disjointed. I’ve just come off three weeks of working an 11 pm to 7  am shift supporting a 24/7 equipment test, and I was looking forward to spending this week easing back into a normal schedule. And then I came down with a nasty cold that has made it difficult to sleep for more than an hour without waking up to blow my nose.


OTOH, being up late when all else is quiet is a good time to sit and think. And remember, in this case a happy event from Monday, 20 November, 1978.

I’ve previously written about How I Met Mrs. Hoge in late 1977. The more I learned about her, the more attractive she seemed, and by the time we were both moving to Nashville, Connie was on my short list of women to court and marry. However, she was romantically interested in someone else as she moved to Nashville.

If you read the post linked above, you know that Connie and I had been introduced by an old friend of mine Henry Martin. Henry hosted a Bible study at his house on Monday evenings which I began attending. A few weeks after I joined the study, Connie joined as well. She had dabbled in Eastern religions while in college, but she didn’t feel that she had the spiritual support to deal with the changes occurring in her life.

The theme of the Bible study was a systematic look at all the reference to the Hebrew and Greek words translated into English as “spirit” taken in a chronological order from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. We were in I Chronicles when Connie decided that she needed to become a Christian. Henry was a deacon at Belmont Church of Christ and had a key to the church building. He offered to open it so that we could use the baptistry for Connie. She said yes and asked me to baptize her. We practice baptism by immersion in the Church of Christ.

It was a typical late November night. The temperature was in the upper 30s, and the heat had been set low in the church building for over 24 hours. The water in the baptistry was cold. I was wearing a set of waders, but as I bent over to immerse Connie, I leaned about 1/4 inch too far, and they filled with water. I got almost as wet as she did.

Connie remained a faithful Christian to the end of this life. I look forward to seeing her again.

And I look for the Resurrection of the dead,
And the life of the world to come.

Working on Labor Day

I often say that I’ve retired twice, but that’s not strictly accurate. I did retire from working as a contractor at Goddard Space Flight Center when I was 65-1/2. Mrs. Hoge was going back to graduate school to study for a degree in Landscape Architecture, and I had just rapped up my deliverables for an x-ray astronomy project, so I decided to “retire” from going to work each day. Six months later, the new company that had taken over the electrical engineering support contract at Goddard asked me to come back. The University of Maryland campus is just a few miles from Goddard, so I could share the commute with Connie. I  decided to accept their offer.

After Connie’s cancer diagnosis in 2015, I retired again to focus on caring for her, but when she went into remission and returned to her graduate studies, I accepted another offer of work at Goddard. I’m still working there.

While I did retire from Goddard twice, I never quit working. I’ve done freelance technical work in the areas of audio, power systems, and rf (radio) for over 50 years, and I’m still at it. In fact, I’ve been working on an audio project today.

Past Primeness?

Still-not-ready-for-primetime Don Lemon has gone on record as saying women over 50 are past their prime. Based on my experience actually living with a woman, I can say that some get even better as they age.

Consider my late wife. This is Mrs. Hoge at age 60 when she had returned to graduate school to prepare for a new career as a landscape architect.

Valentine Flowers

Flowers were always a part of the loving relationship between Mrs. Hoge and me. The first flower I gave her was single pink carnation for Valentine’s Day, 1979.

When we bought our first house in Nashville, we moved in during the late summer. The next spring, I was pleased to see crocus popping up in the yard. After we moved to California, we had roses blooming for 11 months each year, but no crocus.

When we moved to Maryland and bought stately Hoge Manor, Mrs. Hoge planted some crocus bulbs for me as a surprise. I’ve enjoyed seeing them every spring. The first crocus of 2023 came up this morning.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

One of the more disgusting things that the members of Team Kimberlin have done is to try to post ugly and even obscene images of members of my family in the comment section here at Hogewash!. Occasionally, one of the Gentle Readers has posted an ugly image of a member of Team Kimberlin. (Thank you, for avoiding obscene images.) This post On Rule 5 and Rule 5 ran five years ago today.

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There are two Rule 5s that apply here at Hogewash!. One is Alinsky’s Rule 5 which states

“Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational. It’s infuriating. It also works as a key pressure point to force the enemy into concessions.

The other is McCain’s Rule 5 from Stacy’s post How to Get a Million Hits on Your Blog in Less Than a Year which states

Everybody loves a pretty girl.

The Gentle Reader may have noticed that this site uses ridicule in its reporting on certain individuals. Hogewash! has also published images of beautiful women from time to time as is appropriate.

Today, I found an image in the comment section which was clearly intended to be an application of Alinsky’s Rule 5, but which is too far removed from wisdom embodied in McCain’s Rule 5 be appropriate for this blog. I’m going to leave the comment and its image up, but I ask that commenters refrain from posting such images in the future.

Some things are just too ugly.

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Speaking of McCain’s Rule 5, here’s a picture of Mrs. Hoge mixing live sound for a concert in Centennial Park, Nashville, in the Summer of 1979, a couple of weeks before she agreed to marry me.

A Carnation for Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, many of us give flowers and candy to our sweethearts. A single pink carnation one Valentine’s Day is part of a cherished memory of my courtship of Mrs. Hoge.

She was just starting her career as a recording engineer in Nashville and was working at Audio Media Recorders. The small room where tape copies were made had begun to be called “Connie’s Closet.” I stopped by the studio on my way to work at Harrison Systems, and left the carnation in a bud vase on the counter where the Ampex and Studer tape machines were installed.Carnations wound up having a very special meaning in our lives together.

My Better Half

I was born on 31 December, 1947, at 11:55 pm Central Time. Connie and I were married on 24 November, 1979. She died on our 37th anniversary; we were married for 37 years, 3 hours and 52 minutes.

It’s just before 8 am Eastern Time as I’m typing this. In a few minutes I will have been alive for twice as long as we were married. Being married to Connie certainly was the better half of my life.


Today is the forty-second anniversary of my marriage to Mrs. Hoge. It is is also the fifth anniversary of her death.Connie’s wedding dress was originally made in 1949 by my mother for her sister Willie Mae. In the mid ’50s my mother altered the dress for two of my cousins, Jane and Peggy, and it was refurbished again in 1979 for Connie. Since our wedding, the dress has been worn by Peggy’s daughters and granddaughters at their weddings.

How I Met Mrs. Hoge

The original version of this post ran eight years tomorrow. While I was going through some old technical files, I found a picture that reminded me of how Mrs. Hoge and I met and our time working together in the music business in Nashville.

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I met the young lady who became Mrs. Hoge in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf-Astoria just before 6 pm on the Saturday of Halloween weekend, 1977.

The Audio Engineering Society was having its Fall convention at the Waldorf, and the main exhibit area was in the Grand Ballroom. I had presented a paper on loudspeaker driver parameter measurement that afternoon and was spending the rest of Saturday checking out the exhibits. It was almost closing time when I got to the booth for Harrison Systems.

Henry Martin, an old friend from Boy Scouts and high school, worked for Harrison. He was giving a demo of a Harrison recording console to a very attractive young lady who seemed intent on learning as much as she could. I waved at Henry, and he waved me over. It was almost closing time, and Henry wanted to get to supper with his wife. He introduced me to the girl, noting that she was just finishing her degree in Audio Production at Indiana University, that my job was currently based in Elkhart, Indiana, and that I had worked as a recording engineer in the music business in Nashville.

The exhibits were closing, so I invited her to dinner. She said no. She had plans that evening with the friend she was staying with. So I asked her to lunch, and she said yes to that.

Lunch the next day was at Oscar’s in the Waldorf. Since she’d never had one, I ordered her a Waldorf salad. I asked if she had plans for the awards banquet that evening. She said that she had a ticket. Who was she going with? No one. I was stunned. There were five or six thousand men at that AES convention and maybe a half-a-dozen women who weren’t booth babes, and this beautiful woman didn’t have a date. How about going with me? OK.

We kept in touch afterwards, did some long distance dating, and wound up both moving to Nashville at the same time a year later. (Back to Nashville in my case.) And about a year after that we were married.

RULE 5 UPDATE—Connie_1983

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2021 UPDATE—In late 1978, Connie and I coauthored a paper on concert hall acoustics and recording techniques. It was accepted for presentation at the May, 1979, Audio Engineering Society convention in Los Angeles. She presented the paper at the convention.

Rule 5 and Trees

Over at The Other McCain, Wombat has a Rule 5 link to a post at A View from the Beach about the trees the Maryland Forest Service will give to homeowner to plant for erosion control. Mrs. Hoge was involved in the Backyard Buffers program through her work with the Maryland Forestry Foundation and as president of our county’s Forestry Board.

Speaking of Mrs. Hoge and the forest, here’s a picture of her taken on a hike in the Catoctin Mountain Park, not far from Camp David.

More Rule 5

My son brought another box of important papers up from the basement. This one contained a large stash of family photos. Here are some more pictures of Mrs. Hoge. The first pair are from 1979. Connie had been hired to run the sound system for the Sunday afternoon concerts at Centennial Park in Nashville.This is from 2002.And this is from 2010.


Today is the 41st anniversary of my marriage to Mrs. Hoge, and it is the 4th anniversary of her death.

During the last week of 2014, Connie went to an orthopedist complaining of back pain. It turned out that the cause was cancer in her spine, and the cancer turned out to be stage four metastatic breast cancer with no evidence of any tumor in her breasts. After back surgery in early 2015, she began chemotherapy, and when she began to lose her hair, she had her head shaved. She didn’t want to wear a wig, so she had an artist draw a henna tattoo on her head—a creative response showing her determination not to be overwhelmed by the disease.

The picture on the left was taken a few months before her diagnosis.

I’m thankful for those 37 years.

I miss her, but as I’ve written before, our separation is temporary. One of the things we share is a firm belief that

this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

I’ll just have to wait.

UPDATE—My son is working in the basement this morning. He’s going through boxes that have been in storage for years, culling them so that we can make room to store other stuff that needs to make way for some recording equipment upstairs. He brought me a box of old paperwork to go through. It was one of those boxes of “important” papers that is no longer all that important—mostly. It contained mortgage papers, deeds, etc., on houses Connie and I had owned in Tennessee and California. Nothing related to any real estate we’ve owned in the past thirty years. However, there was also a small pack of photographs that included prints and slides of our honeymoon. I rescued the photos and sent the rest to the shredder and dumpster. That find was an interesting gift for today!

Genealogy, Extended Family, and Thanksgiving Gatherings

My parents grew up in a small town in Tennesse.  A few years after they married, one of my father’s cousins (actually, a first cousin once removed) married my mother’s sister. Their children are my first cousins on my mother’s side and second cousins once removed on my father’s.

Are you following me so far?

Both my father’s and my mother’s families arrived in the colonies prior the Revolution.  A few years ago, one of my aunts on my mother’s side decided that she’d like to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. When she went looking for a Revolutionary War ancestor, she found that she (and my mother, of course) were descended from my father’s great-great-great-great-grandfather who had been in the Pennsylvania militia at Valley Forge. My father and my mother were fifth cousins.  That means those first cousins of mine are also fifth cousins twice removed on my mother’s side and fifth cousins once removed on my father’s side.

It also means that I’m my mother’s fifth cousin once removed and my own sixth cousin.

And none of the family has ever lived in West Virginia.

Alas, we are no longer holding the gatherings of four or five generations of the family for a potluck on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. This year’s Thanksgiving dinner will just be for my son and me, not enough people to justify doing a whole turkey on the grill. We’ll have a venison roast prepared using one of the recipes Mrs. Hoge left for us.

I look forward to a larger gathering next year.