It’s a soda … made of celery?

I couldn’t find the beverage, and my flight to Washington State was leaving tomorrow.

Damn it.

Let me explain.

In preparation for my trip to visit my son Kris, I put together a bit of a Capital District CARE package, i.e., foods and treats you can’t get in the Pacific Northwest.  Included in the CARE package were some Freihofer’s Corn Toasties, as well as some various Jewish delicacies from the glatt kosher Price Chopper at the intersection of Central Avenue and Route 155.

Continue reading “It’s a soda … made of celery?”

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A jailbreak, a unicorn, and an ass-shaped pumpkin…

As you may know, I’m on vacation this week – I’m actually in Olympia, Washington visiting my son Kris and his girlfriend Tanya for a few days.

Yesterday, we went pumpkin-picking at a local farm stand.  You know the drill – you can either select the harvested pumpkins from a table, or you can go into the garden and harvest your own.

And that’s what we did.  I wasn’t planning on bringing any back, but I did help Kris and Tanya find pumpkins for their own home.

Of course, then I come across this little baby.

Continue reading “A jailbreak, a unicorn, and an ass-shaped pumpkin…”

While Passenger A27 was sleeping…

Caught a morning flight yesterday to travel to Washington State to see my son.  You know I brought several cameras with me for the trip…

But when it came to capturing a moment … I pulled out my BlackBerry PRIV and snagged this one.

From the wing. BlackBerry PRIV camera. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

But I shall explain.

Continue reading “While Passenger A27 was sleeping…”

An open letter to Donald Trump from the father of a transgender soldier

Dear President Trump:

I heard, with great dismay and shock, your decision to bar transgender men and women from serving in our military forces.  In a series of Twitter posts yesterday, you stated that transgender soldiers were a “distraction” to the military.

These were your words, as posted yesterday on your official Twitter account.

Continue reading “An open letter to Donald Trump from the father of a transgender soldier”

The best Halloween costume ever is worn by my son Kris

When you’re a single parent, many times the things that you do will immediately reflect on your kid.  Trust me.  You start watching a certain TV show, and eventually your kid will become hooked on that show.  You start listening to a certain band, and eventually that kid will have a Spotify channel devoted to that band.

Case in point.

Last night I was at a going-away party for one of my Facebook friends, and during the night I received a text message from my son Kris.  Apparently he wanted to show off his Halloween costume to me.

Great.  Can’t imagine what it might be.  Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, that baseball bat guy from the Walking Dead…

Nope.  See for yourself.

1029161629_hdrThat’s right.  You’re looking at my son Kris, who is dressed up as silent screen legend Charlie Chaplin.

How freakin’ cool is that?

See, back in the day I used to have a collection of Chaplin VHS movies – City Lights, The Gold Rush, The Kid, The Circus, Modern Times, The Great Dictator.  That, and Buster Keaton’s The General and Harold Lloyd’s Safety Last and Speedy.  And we used to watch these films together.  They were easy for a young child to grasp, in that most of the action on the screen was physical, and the intertitles could be read out loud.

So yeah, Kris developed an affinity for silent cinema.

And over time, you don’t really realize the influence you can have on a child.  You hope that when you’re trying to hold down a job and take care of a household and all of that, that you don’t put something in the growing mix that could turn your kid into something less desirable.  It’s part of the goal of being a parent.  It’s almost like the Boy Scout camping mantra.  Leave the campsite in a better condition than you found it.

snapchat-1816888242396189278So yeah, my kid is trick-or-treating in Washington State as one of the legends of silent cinema.  And that’s cool in and of itself.

How freakin’ cool is that?

Freakin’ cool in about a hundred different ways.

Happy Halloween, everybody…

You’re never too old for a CARE package

Yesterday, I put a little gift in a mailer, added postage, scribbled an address, and sent it off to my child, Kris, in Washington State.

I do this on occasion.  It’s the way I roll.

Kris is an adult, but as far as I’m concerned, he still deserves a CARE package now and again.

Why?  Because he’s my kid, that’s why.  You don’t need a better reason than that.

Over the years, I’ve sent several different “package from home” shipments to my kid.  They might include T-shirts from home (I think he still has a Bob & Ron’s Fish Fry shirt), Freihofer’s cookies or donuts or Corn Toasties (Kris REALLY loves the Corn Toasties), snack foods from Stewarts, and even some DVD’s from WMHT (he’s probably the first person in Washington State to have her own DVD of the Hoffman’s Playland documentary).

Sometimes Kris will post on Facebook about a T-shirt that inspires him or that he wants – for example, one of his favorite movies is the Japanese film My Neighbor Totoro.  Once in a while, he’ll post a picture of a customized Totoro T-shirt or hoodie.  What he doesn’t know is that I’ve ordered it and it’s on its way to him.

Look, it’s not like I’m spoiling him.  Far from it.  My Grandma Betty used to do the same thing to me when I was in college – there would be a package of cookies or a tin of brownies or the like in my campus mailbox.  Helped me get through a few days of college life.  No, you can’t have any.  They’re mine. Get your own Grandma Betty to make you some cookies.

Kris goes through a lot in his life.  Every day there are challenges and obstacles that might derail someone with less fortitude.  Doesn’t matter.  Kris still perseveres.  Of course he does.  He’s a Miller, just like me.  We used to joke that we were Millers, born of hearty stock, we would take the bark of trees and use them for the soles of our shoes, that’s how tough a Miller is.

Something to remember.   If you have a family member that’s so far away that you can’t just hop in a car and drive a couple of hours to see him or her, where the only contact seems to be through social media or the occasional phone call…

Just for the hell of it, send that person a CARE package filled with Freihofer’s cookies and Stewart’s donuts, with a T-shirt from the Great Escape or from the Saratoga flat track.

It doesn’t have to be for their birthday or for the holidays or anything.

Just box it up and send it to them and tell them that the only reason you’re doing is is because you still love them.

That’s the best reason anyone can use.

It’s the only reason anybody needs.

So keep an eye out for another little CARE package, Kris.

Just a little treat from home.

As my son Kris turns 30…

My son Kris just turned 30 today.  And at this point in time, I want to wish him the happiest of birthdays and all the best in this world.  30 is a good benchmark for age; it’s a time to look back at what you’ve learned and accomplished, reflect on things, and work forward toward the future.

And you’re thinking… wait a second.  Chuck’s been blogging for putt’near 6 years with the TU, and now he’s talking about a 30-year-old son?

Well, I’ve talked about Kris for years.  I even had a dedicated category on the blog for Kris.

Here’s what happened.

Over the last year or so, Kris struggled with a major life decision.  And what happened was, after much thought and counseling and soul-searching and reflection, Kris began the complicated journey of transitioning from a girl to a boy.

That’s right.  Kris was once my daughter Cassaundra.

At this point, if you feel any urge to make Caitlyn Jenner jokes or Renee Richards jokes, or think that I’m going to start reviewing La Cage Aux Folles, please close your browser, turn off your computer and go stand in a corner.  Because I won’t have any of it.

Because now the questions and more questions that any parent asks when their child decides to transition between genders are now the questions I must ask.  These are the questions I must resolve.

There are many questions.  And I don’t have all the answers.  This isn’t a closed-minded father who thinks that if you’re born a man, you should stay a man.  And this isn’t a “try-everything-in-this-world-because-yolo” father.

I’m just a father who wants the best for his child.

And I’m sure I’ve heard all the questions.  “What about public bathrooms, what bathroom should Kris use now?”

Simple answer.  Whichever one he feels comfortable using; and thankfully Kris knows how to use a bathroom.  Do your duties, wash up afterwards.

I’ve heard the questions.  “Does this mean that Kris changing from Cassaundra is a failure on your part as a father?”

Simple answer.  Kris is 30 years old.  Kris is living and working and previously served our country in the Army National Guard.  Those values came from dear old Dad.  I may not have been the greatest father, but I certainly did my best.  And nobody can take that away.

I’ve heard the questions.  “Is Kris a he or a she?”

I don’t presume.  I asked Kris directly.  He responded back.  I don’t need to ask again.

Now granted, I’m going to slip up.  Heck for nearly three decades I had a daughter named Cassaundra, and on occasion I’m going to – by force of habit – call my child Cassaundra.  That doesn’t mean that I’m disrespecting this journey.  It just means that I’m old and it takes some time to train my almost-52-year-old brain to replace “daughter Cassaundra” with “son Kris” everywhere.  Trust me.  I was born before there were “find-and-replace” macros in my cranial software.

I’ve heard the questions.  I may not have the answers, I may NEVER have all the answers.

But there’s one answer that will never waver.

I love my kid.  I was there at 11:09 a.m. thirty years ago to this day, when a little bundle of joy was placed in my arms.  And I’m there today, celebrating what is essentially a 30-year-long journey to a new birth.

I didn’t know what the future held in 1986.  And I don’t know what the future will hold in 2045.  That’s assuming that I’m around in 2045.

But I do know this.  My son Kris is taking new steps and new journeys, heading on a path that was not previously explored.  And with that, as a father, the most I can do is offer support, consultation, a helping hand and a strong shoulder.

Are there moments where I will be confused or not understand what’s going on?  Hell yeah there will be.  You know what those moments are called?  Being a parent.  You become a parent the day your child is born, and you don’t stop becoming a parent until the moment you get lowered into the earth.  And inbetween that time are a multitude of highs and lows, choices and decisions, reactions and repercussions.

And you never stop loving your offspring.  Because that’s the one constant through everything.

Happy 30th birthday to my son Kris.

Love, Dad.