happy retirement day, dad!

It’s kind of like bungee jumping, huh, Dad?

It’s a big step leaving work when a guy’s been at a company for over 40 years and has gotten used to being the Big Dude in the engineering pool. My dad met up with a Boeing recruiter who was headhunting in Glasgow, and followed him over to America in 1968. He picked up an American chick two years later and never looked back. (Which is why he thinks it’s a bit weird that I’ve upped sticks and moved back to Britain.)

Dad might fool you with his absent-mindedness (Jane Austen plots totally elude him), but the guy is a total science brainiac. When he was a kid, he started by taking apart a box of old clocks, and went on to design the part of the airplane – the inertial navigation system – that basically lets the pilots all but take a nap while the plane’s flying. When I moved to London, it was exciting taking him to the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, where he totally geeked out over their collection of old clocks. (He also worked out by reading their setting through the glass that the Meridian market strip in the courtyard is a few hundred feet off from the real Meridian, and the guard agreed with him.) If you like, you can go back to one of my older blog posts to see him in a Boeing video about the new Dreamliner airplane, his baby.

Congratulations, Dad, on the start of lots of new adventures! And thanks for setting me off on mine! (This is to a man who wouldn’t let his daughters turn 16 without making sure we could haul ourselves out of a glacier crevasse with Prussic slings or put up a tent on a snowfield at high altitude.) My dad rocks.

I’m really sad to miss his retirement celebrations in Seattle. I think my mother realised I was feeling a bit rotten about it and a few hours ago she sent me this note with a direct link to a very formative part of my childhood:
Hey Sarah, thought you might remember dear Bluebell with this video. Mom

Backstory: When I was little, I really, really wanted a horse, but of course we couldn’t have one. With a stroke of amazing luck, one of my mother’s best friends, Betty, bred American Saddlebred dressage horses. Until I was much older, I wasn’t allowed to ride those, but Betty kept a cranky old Shetland pony named Bluebell in the pasture that mostly just worked as a lawnmower since no one would ride her. So it became a matter of fierce pride to me that I WAS THE ONE who would tame the wild beast. ‘Riding’ is a loose term since a lot of the time it was more ‘falling’, ‘fighting’, ‘sliding’ or ‘flying through the air’. I shovelled a lot of poop out of her barn for the honour of battle with Bluebell. This video pretty much sums up what Bluebell was like. Except I didn’t wear a helmet. Or sometimes even a saddle. (Mom, why didn’t you make me wear a helmet?)

YouTube link …Thanks, Mom! This video had me in hysterics.

Edit: Just got this note from my dad about the card, still from his work e-mail address:
Thank you, Sarah-pet. That captures the event right on. Tomorrow, though, I sleep in at least ’til 7.00.

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