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[sticky post] Tribute to an Irreplaceable Man

Dad at Turtle Bay

Thank you all so much for being a part of this.  Feel free to continue to add to this entry or to add to any other entry.  You made my father smile, and continue to give my mother comfort.  Thank you. -Quijana

To All Our Friends-

Hilton, the laughing brown eyed man, the teller of tales, the universal gypsy, the truly gentle man,  is in the process of breaking down his final show.

Our daughter, Quijana, has asked that everyone who has known him and (how could you not) loved him, to post a word, a comment, a story.

These words from all of you have brought him much comfort, and much joy.  Bring him another smile.  He has brought us so many…


The image above was shot by my brother, Oliver, at Turtle Bay Resort on the island of Oahu.  This was my father's final Hawaiian sunset, as they flew home to Pennsylvania the following afternoon.

Please leave your contribution as a comment below.  You do not have to create an account, but please sign your name if you post as a guest.  Thank you!  -Quijana


"Thinking Abundantly"

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Last week we drove to Oklahoma City to see a movie.  Thankfully, the boy's fall break began the next day, but we would have gone to see this film even if it had been a school night.  180 miles round trip, dinner at a bad fast food restaurant, and a quiet discussion about education, goals, happiness, and hope.  Wendell had the chance to see once more that he is not alone. One more boost to his self-confidence, one more chance to see him smile.

Dislexia: The Movie trailer hereCollapse )

This movie was different than others we have seen about dyslexia. It was written and directed by a filmmaker who is dyslexic. The filmmaker also obviously has ADD or a similar issue. Because of this, the movie jumped from topic to topic. It was visually both stimulating and jarring. It was also informative, filled with humor, and focused on the actual problems within the educational system. While I do not need to see it again, I am awfully glad that we were able to see it in a movie theater filled with educators. My hope is that this film will be useful in the creation of a dialogue between people who should know more about dyslexia.

The title of this post comes from a "man on the street" comment in the movie.  When asked about the common thread between a handful of famous entrepreneurs one man replies, "They all think abundantly!"  I love this offhand comment, as it cuts directly to the core of dyslexia and ADD.  It is difficult to get one's mind to focus on one thing at a time when your brain is so filled with things to connect.

It was an interesting movie, and one I would recommend to others, but is not at the top of my list of movies I've seen about dyslexia.  This movie jumped from topic to topic, a whirlwind of color and noise.  The boy eventually just closed his eyes and listened, overwhelmed by the stimuli.  He and I agree that the best movie we have seen so far is "Journey into Dyslexia" by HBO, which dealt much more with how it feels to be dyslexic, and not as much with the science.  The two movied would work well together, though, to give  a fully rounded look at these students.

Tomorrow we wake early to drive the same route.  Lego Club.  Probably his last club, as this is the last one until February and he will age out in July.  We will go alone, no friends to tag along this time.  It will be a bittersweet day.

Not yet the final grades

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The first quarter of the school year is done.  We have had a few roller coaster days, but this has been a mostly smooth few months.  We had a conference with the teachers on Monday, and they said wonderful things about him.  Part of this is that a high number of the kids in this school have limited parental involvement due to a number of factors (both parents working, including split shifts, inattentive parenting, other children in the home) so Wendall will always stand out because it is so obvious that we are a more involved family than others.  Most of it is him.  He has this amazing ability to draw people to him.  He leaks charisma, and has a special love for educators.  Even in years that he has not done well academically, his marks for behavior are the top of his class.  He also manages to be truly liked by his classmates, even while being both the class pet AND the class clown.  When he works a crowd, he works every corner at once.  Pretty amazing to see.

Then there are his grades.  The school policy is to only accommodate when absolutely needed.  They prefer to push the children and step in if things are going badly.  His IEP includes extra time and having some things read to him, but the teachers assured me that he is doing this work on his own, with no accommodations.

Not yet final (but awfully close!) grades here...Collapse )

Two more bits of amazement.

He has two classes listed for Geography and Pre-Algebra.  Half way through the Quarter he mentioned that the kids in the class were distracting him.  He was having a difficult time paying attention, because they were loud.  I told him to discuss it with his teachers and to ask if his seat could be moved to the front.  His teachers discussed it and decided to switch classes instead, putting him in a higher performing classroom.  He is still a few steps away from the top level classes, but the step down in grade level is easy to understand with the extra work I know he has had.

His reading and language arts classes have been in a pull-out (special ed) classroom.  He spends those hours in a much smaller classroom, with a specialized teacher.  At the meeting on monday, this teacher suggested that he leave her class and move to a standard classroom.  He will still have help, because each class here has an aide in the classroom, but he will be expected to do the standard coursework.  He agreed to this plan, and will have a two week trial beginning in November.

I am so proud of him.


Lego Tie

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Because if such a thing as a LEGO tie exists...PerfectPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at school

Picture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at school

Picture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at schoolPicture day at school

Picture day at school

Lego Tie, a set on Flickr.

This will be the best school photo EVER!

I feel so much lighter!

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Today was a good day.  A very good day.  A "let's go out to lunch to celebrate the day" sort of day.

Our house has sold.  We are no longer homeowners.  We are still in debt, but not the way we were yesterday, and not the way we ever need to be again. (Though I know it is bound to happen when we return to Hawaii in a permanent way. Just let me believe for a moment or two that I will never be foolish enough to buy another house!)

The new owners sound like very nice people.  They look forward to retiring there soon, and brought their adult daughter to see the house while it was in escrow.  I will always be happy that we were able to call that house home for a few years, and I will miss that view forever, but I am so glad that I will not have to deal with the no-fun aspects of being a long distance landlord.  When we bought the house I thought I would be able to handle it, as it would be little more than a business transaction.  As the days there grew short, however, I realized that there was no way I could do it emotionally.  I feel so much better!

In other news, the boy is enjoying his new school.  It isn't Assets.  Nothing will ever be Assets, but it is a new and exciting place for a boy who loves to solve the world's problems.  The teachers love him, and the school seems quite open to working with the accommodations he needs.  Whew!  This is the first school year ever that did not start with a huge dustup between me and a teacher!


Aug. 4th, 2013

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I'm making shoyu pork for the first time today.  It's a dish I've always loved, but never tried on my own.  So far I know that I need to cut the sugar down by at least half.  I used this recipe for Okinawan style pork, and made a few adjustments.

Recipe here, no need to click on the link unless you want some history of the dishCollapse )
The house smells SO GOOD right now.

We spent the weekend mostly indoors.  The temperature is in the high 90s right now, and none of us sees a reason to subject ourselves to the outside world.  Luckily for us, we have plenty of food, movies, and each other.  It was a good weekend.

Off to clear the table and work on an apology to the boy for dinner.  He isn't the biggest fan of meat to begin with, and truly dislikes sweet meat dishes.  I have some edamame just for him so that he won't feel totally left out.


We are ok in OK

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We are better than ok, really.

Here is the far too quick rundown of the past two weeks.  Has it been only two weeks?  Amazing!

1 July- Final hugs for my younger brother. Left Hawaii.

2 July- Landed in San Francisco.  We took a stretch limo to my brother and sister-in-law's house, as we were travelling with 9 bags and 2 cats.  It was a lovely ride.  Rested a bit and then collected our cars at the dock.  Wendall would drive the Passat, filled with bags and cats.  I would drive the Smartcar, filled with one bag and the boy.  Dinner was at a favorite restaurant, and would be the last good meal we had until we reached Oklahoma.

3 July- Final hugs for my brother and sister-in-law. Started the drive through California. Made it to Bakersfield and then realized that the Passat had no air conditioning.  We found the one and only VW dealer in the area, and were told that they could not see us until the 8th. Also that the next closest VW dealer (along our path) was in Las Vegas.  We set an appointment in Vegas for the 5th, and found a hotel room for the night.

4 July- Left Bakersfield, CA.  Wendall had all of the bags, and none of the air conditioning.  I had all of the air conditioning, the boy, and the cats.  We drove through the Mojave Desert, stopped for a moment in Baker, CA, and then crossed Death Valley.  We stopped whenever we could so that Wendall could go into air conditioned stores and buy cold water.  There were surprisingly few stores, though, and by the time we reached Vegas at 4pm, he was ready for a shower.  We checked into a hotel near the airport and relaxed for a bit, and then spent the evening on The Strip, people watching, firework watching, and remembering that we do not like crowds.  It was so good to go to sleep that night!

5 July- Dropped the Passat off at the dealer in the morning, where they completely ignored our statement that we were in the middle of a cross country move and needed a simple job done quickly.  Luckily, the hotel that we had picked at random was able to extend us for one night.  The cats rejoiced! The humans went to the movies (Lone Ranger) and gambled away a hard earned dollar before watching the fountain show at the Mirage.  We also managed to stand under the Dale Chihuly ceiling at the Bellagio, which was just what I needed before I could go further east.

6 July- A morning call to the car dealer confirmed that they were still not paying enough attention to our case.  The hotel had no more space for us, so I ran taxi to the dealer.  First Wendall, who stood in front of the service bay, then the boy and the cats.  We sat in air conditioned comfort and drank bad coffee.  The car was finished with surprising quickness, and then we went back to the hotel, loaded the bags, and began the drive.  Pulled into Sedona Arizona near midnight, and fell into a deep sleep.  The cats hid under the bed, and refused to come out when it was time to leave.

7 July- Left Sedona. It was so nice to see shapes on the horizon.  We drove and drove, and knew that we were passing cool things, but could not stop.  We had a full day to make up, and the goal was simply to get to the next place.  We made it to Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the worst stop of the trip.  Nine bags and two cats up the stairs, only to find out that we all got to share one bed.  No was a bed, and we were happy to fall into it for a few hours.

8 July- Left Albuquerque.  All that mattered was the drive, and we managed to cover the final 500 miles to Ft Sill. We were quickly settled into a one bedroom apartment/hotel room while we looked for an actual place to live.  The girls realized immediately that this was different, and that they might be willing to come out from under the bed.

9 July- We woke to discover that we really were in Oklahoma, and that we really didn't have to go anywhere that day.  Nothing off base, anyway.  We sat through meetings where people did their best to tell us what a wonderful place we had found.  The fact that they were paid to tell us these things reminded us to make our own decisions on our feelings towards moving here.  I can say that this was not our choice, but that I know we will find many wonderful moments while we are here.

10 July- More of the same.  We drove around base.  We watched a movie (Despicable Me 2) and ate chips and salsa. We pet kitties, who were pretty sure the one bedroom apartment was all we needed.  Just for fun, and because we were told to at least ask to be on the waiting list, we popped our heads into the housing office.  Paperwork was shuffled, and they set an appointment for the following day.

11 July- Breaking all records, we were offered a house immediately.  We toured the house at 10am, and had signed the paperwork by noon.  Off we went for a final night in the hotel, dreaming of the HUGE house waiting for us in the morning.

12 July- Moved into the house.  It was just finished a few weeks ago, and is the biggest, newest place we have ever lived.  Central air, stainless steel appliances, four bedrooms, sidewalks filled with children.  The houses in the street next to ours are still being built, and there are still a few empty houses on our block.  We celebrated by seeing a movie (Pacific Rim) and finding Thai food.  We came home to discover a neighborhood gathering at the end of our block.  We met our neighbors, some of whom have also recently arrived from Hawaii, and found out that they gather every Friday evening.  So nice!  We had hoped for a community, and here it is, ready for us!

13-16 July Empty house, but happy people.  We are slowly exploring the area, and are waiting for our things to arrive.  They are just on the other side of town, but the movers are booked until the 22nd.  Ah well.  It is easier to move furniture mentally than it is to do in reality.  Glad to have had plenty of time.

Tomorrow and beyond- The boy turns 12 in 10 days.  We will eat Thai food and raise a glass of sparkling grape juice.  We still have to get him registered for school, and of course we will start the unpacking very soon.  Wendall has started working and will be busy in his new position.  I see many opportunities for meeting people and exploring the area.  We look forward to visitors (you did notice the mention of four bedrooms?) but will understand when we have only a few.

Life is so good.

I am doing my best to post photos on Flickr.  Look here-

Right now a bunch of them are also Instagram photos.  This will change...I just have to find things here that are colors other than brown.

Oh, and the boy made a video for his friends.  Very silly, and oh so rushed, but it is very him, and is the best view of the house that we have.  He actually ended up in the two front bedrooms (one as bedroom, one as play room unless we have guests) but everything else is accurate.

Obituary for Hilton Byrd

Dad at Turtle Bay

Hilton Byrd in Barcelona. Photo by Vicki Byrd

HILTON BYRD Sept 6, 1942 - May 26, 2012

69 year old Hilton Byrd has taken down his last show.  

Hilton Byrd, born September 6, 1942 in New York City, died peacefully in his home in Pocono Summit on May 26, 2012. He lived in far too many places and in far too many hearts to list.

He was a teller of tales, a universal gypsy, a truly gentleman.  He was the laughing brown eyed man, the keeper of wisdom, the sculptor of whimsy. He was an artist, a mentor, a raconteur, a man who loved his family above all else. (except for maybe bourbon) He was an absolutely irreplaceable man, and will be missed by all who were touched by his infectious laughter, his brilliant wit, and his endless fascination with the stories of other people’s lives.

Many people in the area know him from Designer Crafts in Stroudsburg, or from the PA Craft Gallery in Bushkill.  He was also involved in many activities in the cultural life of the Poconos.

Hilton is survived by his wife, Vicki Byrd, of Pocono Summit; his son, Kurt Brown and wife Mari Marjamaa of Alameda, California; his daughter, Quijana Byrd and husband Wendall Hall of Waipahu, Hawaii; his son Oliver Byrd and partner Renee Kinchla of Honolulu, Hawaii; his sister Rosa Bundy, niece Laurel Bundy, and nephew Shane Taylor of East Stroudsburg, and his nephew Eric Dixon. He is also survived by the best grandson in the whole world, Wendall Henrick Hall of Waipahu, Hawaii.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, June 9th, at 2pm, at his home.   


Take Route 80 to Route 380 North (it is exit 299 from the East),

and exit for 380 North (on the left) coming from the west.

Once on 380 take exit 3 (first exit)  for PA-940 toward Pocono Pines/Mt Pocono.

Turn left at the light onto 940W (Pocono Summit Rd) - Go Approximately 2.2 miles -

When you see five arrows pointing left, the 3rd one is at the entrance to the driveway on the left.


Dad at Turtle Bay
Hilton Byrd’s journey has ended. He died with dignity and serenity at his home, surrounded by family, stories, and soft music.

To all of our dear friends-
To all who posted to him-
To all who sent cards-
To all who visited-
To all who thought of him-

You all, throughout the years and the past few months, brought him such joy, such laughter, so many ideas. He was a good man, a kind man, and had such an elegant, graceful mind. He was irreplaceable and I know we each hold an echo of a laugh, the remnant of a story, the fragment of an idea he fashioned out of history, events, and the incredible immediacy of the particular moment.

He lived with love and with strength. He loved his family above all else. He enjoyed his work and his life. What a long, strange trip it’s been. We were all glad to be on it with him.

If you can, please continue to post comments, either to this post or to the main tribute post, which is here- It will bring his family comfort and we will get to visit with you as we read your names and remember good times.

A memorial service will be held at our home on Saturday, the 9th of June at 2pm. More information will be posted here soon.
Peace. Love. Hug those you love right now.



Song for today

Blue Sea

It is official, I am infinity years old today.  I'm glad to finally be an age where I can stay and rest awhile.  I like it here.

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October 2013