Wednesday, December 29, 2010
"She had a slender, small body but a large heart ---a heart so large that everybody's grief and everybody's joys found welcome in it and hospitable accomodation."
Further on Clemens writes:
Her interest in people and other animals was warm, personal, friendly. She always found something to excuse, and as a rule to love, in the toughest of them --even if she had to put it there herself."
Those words make me think of all the hard cases like me that Sally Casey took in as a Foster Parent and turned something good out of. Sally Casey would have turned 94 last Wednesday, and it has been 10 years since her death in 2000.
It took ten years, but Samuel Clemens, in describing his own Mother, Jane Lampton of Kentucky, is just as easily describing my Mom, Sally Casey, 100 years after HIS death. Thanks Mark Twain, for reaching across the century and doing it for me.
I highly recommend The Autobiography of Mark Twain as edited by Charles Neider to all my friends out there. It is a wonderful, glimpse into an America before, during, and after the Civil War, and into the early 20th century. Clemens recounting of his childhood and an 19th century American society built on everyone knowing their proper place in social stature is a must read.
Friday, December 24, 2010
It has been a very tough year. Work has been hard to come by, but I kept busy, and managed to make enough to get by, taking whatever gigs happened to come up, sometimes at the most opportune of times.
So here it is, Christmas Day, and I have to say, I feel I am incredibly blessed. I have a lot of comforts that many do not, and I appreciate them.
But it really tweaks me how self indulgent and narrowly focused much of our society has become.
To put it in perspective, I want to tell you about a maintenance guy named Eddie. This guy has a wife and four kids in Harrisburg, but three years ago took a job in Allentown to feed his family. He works here all week, then takes the Bieber Bus home Friday night, then back here again on Sunday. He stays in a flop house with a dozen other men during the week.
I don't want to give too much away to expose the people who helped him, because they wanted to stay anonymous. But Eddie cleans the offices where they work, and does a pretty good job. He's not the smartest guy, but he is polite and well mannered. They asked Eddie what he would like for Christmas, and he told them that he could really use a warm coat. It was cold waiting at the bus stop, and he didn't have a decent coat to wear.
That's all the man wanted for Christmas. A Warm Coat. They didn't know his story, but they did some investigating and found out how hard this guy worked to take care of his family. So for Christmas the folks in this office got together and purchased a few things for him, including a new pair of shoes, socks, a Christmas tree, and of course, a WARM COAT. They also threw in some other gifts for his family
When they gave it to him this past week, he burst into tears. They delivered the Tree to his home, and witnesses say he didn't seem to know what to do with it, he thought the ornaments were supposed to be toys for his kids.
That is what it is supposed to be about, sharing something you have with someone who may have less than you, and in many cases, a lot less. The man didn't even own a cell phone.
I am sick of people expecting certain things at Christmas time, as if they have a God given right to be showered with a bunch of stuff they really don't need, but want because the iphone or I pad or whatever is the latest status symbol. And for a few generations now, parents have been teaching their kids to expect the "must have" toy, under the tree.
This culture of entitlement is disgusting
A man got a coat, and cries in gratitude, while a 14 year old somewhere cries, screams and throws a tantrum because her phone isn't the pink one she wanted.
This is the world we have made, and we have to live in it.
When did we lose what made it so magical? Why is the Christmas I experience in my 50th year so far removed from the one I had at age 10?
Most people no longer give out of a sense of genuine generosity, but out of a sense of obligation.
And to me, the spirit has been lost.
Having written all the above, our family exchanged gifts tonight. When asked what I wanted a few weeks ago, I asked for two simple things, and I got them both. One was the Autobiography of Mark Twain. I am going to put down Ken Follett's "Fall of Giants", and read this instead.
I am grateful for my gift, from a very thoughtful niece. There is still some spirit left to Christmas after all. I hope some of it survives to next year.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Having to attend two funerals in just over 60 days for a couple that is the same age as my wife and I was difficult. They were our friends, and the idea that they were taken in such a short time is hard to rationalize. It just doesn't seem fair.
I don't need the NFL to tell me about Cancer Awareness. I don't need to see a pink ribbon everywhere I go. All I need to do to be aware of the toll Cancer has taken is think about the two funerals I attended since August. I think about the children, grandchildren, brothers, Sisters, and even parents who were left behind, and the tears that were shed at the graveside today for a life that was cut short, and I can't forget what we have all lost.
I am tired of attending Funerals for people my own age. I am too damn young for that.
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I took my digital camera and headed out onto the nature trail. Mid-September is a magical time in the wetlands along the shore, because THOUSANDS of Butterflies all come out at once.
A digital camera makes it easy to shoot pictures of the Butterflies literally flocking around you.
I posted one of my pictures here that had a half dozen monarch butterflies grazing on one of the native plants. Their life cycle is so short, but they possess such beauty. I enjoyed watching the eyes of small children light up as the monarchs fluttered in the air around them. There are some amazingly beautiful moments in life that really defy words. Saturday afternoon was one of them. Click on the picture to enlarge it.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
I thought of him today when Yahoo's home page ran a e-news story about the widow of actor Patrick Swayze and how she still sent text messages telling him she loved him a year after his death.
My friend and his wife both have Facebook pages, and in the Fall of last year they had both gotten hooked on the "Farmville" application. (I have one too, but nothing like theirs) Since she died, he has kept her farm going. He does it because he doesn't want her dog to die. Because she had allergies they couldn't have a real dog, but the dogs had just came available on the application before she died, and she had used her credit card to get Farmville cash and purchase a special one.
After a certain point, you don't have to feed the dogs at all, but he goes on her Facebook page everyday and feeds it anyway. It's a piece of her he doesn't want to let go. I have wrote about this before, but I checked with him today, and he is still doing it.
Back in the early 1980's when we were in the Army together, VCR tapes were just getting started. One movie that we rented and made a copy of was the Clint Eastwood Classic, "The Outlaw Josey Wales."
There were times when things were difficult, and as Demolition guys who worked with explosives, we would quote movie lines to help us cope. At our scariest moments, it seemed like someone would always say, "Dying is Easy, Living is hard."
That's how we coped with our fear of dying. Living with the death of a soul mate is a pain I wouldn't look forward to dealing with, but I admire my friend for coping whatever way he can. He feeds a cartoon dog that only exists on a computer screen, because it meant a lot to his wife, and still means a lot to him.
Friday, September 3, 2010
Greetings from Cape May Point New Jersey. I drove down Thursday and spent the day preparing for the worst. At Sunset I rode my bike down to Stites beach, on the Delaware bay side, and digitally shot the 4 minute Sunset, which was spectacular. This morning at dawn I rode over to the lighthouse and taped the surf pounding in from the Atlantic side by the old Army Bunker.
I tried to upload those files to blogger but they keep failing, so here's a picture of the crazy surf along the jetty last night.
Power has flickered a couple of times in the last hour because of the gusty winds. It was weird, because I got up at 6 AM and went out and the air was very still. To use an old cliche', "the calm before the storm." I got coffee at Mc D's this AM and checked my email and the news forecast.
The weather wonders say the worst will come this evening. I can't get internet on the point, so I have to drive across the causeway to North Cape May and use the Wireless in the MicDonald's here. For a Labor Day weekend the place is pretty much empty. This is what it looks like offseason in November when we come down. Even the parking Lot at the Acme behind us is maybe a third full, and that is mostly local employees. Rental turnovers usually take place Saturday at noon, but many people left last night. We have had a few rain squalls, but nothing major.
I have fully charged up the digital camera and borrowed Flip cam, I will be out first thing in the AM after the storm passes to see what the waves did to the beach I was down there last around 10:30 and there were two life guards and one lady in a chair watching the waves roll in. If I could load a U-tube video, I would put up Otis Redding's "sitting on the Dock of the Bay."
Catch you guys later.
Wednesday, August 25, 2010
People are always asking me what makes me think the way I do, and I really can't tell them, because I don't know. I would ask all the people in my head, but every time I try they go on conference call and ignore me.
But the recent recall of a half a billion eggs has me wondering. I eat pretty many eggs, as the Dutchies' around here would say. I don't know what my cholesterol is and I really don't care, But I buy my eggs at Redners, and I usually buy a dozen of the jumbo size about every ten days.
I have noticed recently that just about every time I make eggs over easy at least one of my eggs has multiple yolks. I'm no expert on genetics, but doesn't that mean it would have been a two headed chicken?
So am I eating what would have been two headed chickens regularly? I am really curious about that. There's something for the FDA to study, the long term effects of eating eggs from two headed chickens.
I hereby volunteer, call me, I'm ready. So are the rest of the people in my head. Now if I could just get the IRS to allow me to claim all the voices as dependents.
Monday, August 16, 2010
The funeral last week was not a Catholic one, but it was a nice service, nonetheless. While we prayed my mind wandered back to an observation my Dad had shared with me many times, and has stuck with me.
Jim Casey told me that you could tell much about a person's life by how many people attended the funeral.
He believed that the more people that attended, the more debts of gratitude the deceased was owed, the fewer that attended, the more debts the deceased owed.
I have to say, if those are the parameters to judge, then my friend last week had a lot of people who owed him debts of gratitude. The Church was close to SRO, and the graveside had everybody bunched around in a hot sweltering sun. Yet they came and stayed to show their gratitude.
At both funerals for my elderly parents, I was heartened by the sheer number of people who came forward to share the positive impact my parents had made in their lives. It says much about a person by how those who survive them reflect on the contribution the deceased made to their own well being.
I have been to sparsely attended services, and it always bothers me. In my opinion Funerals are not so much for the dead, but for the living. We need them to help us transition, and they fulfill that purpose.
If only a handful show up for a burial, what does that say to you?
It is a failure of the living, or a failure on the part of the deceased? I think it is both. I feel fortunate to have had the acquaintance of my friend in my life. I guess I should hope that someday people will feel the same about me. But I live with the knowledge that 100 or even 10 years from now no one will remember who I was or where I lived, and the only thing that I can hope to pass on are that my actions are emulated, and they are for the good.of my community as a whole. That is Life and Death, in Trexlertown.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
You have to wonder which treatment would be more effective today. There's a few people in local government I would like to try that theory on.
But to get to the story, this kid had issues. He always wore white shirts and black pants. That is what he came with, and he wouldn't change even though my Mom gave him other clothes to wear that would have made him look normal. He also had a black bow tie. He wore this outfit to school every day he could. You remember what it is like to be twelve, prepubescent kids can have a mean streak a mile wide. And the Batman show was on syndicated TV. So no one should be surprised that we started calling the chubby brat “Penguin.’
The Penguin was the biggest tattletale on the planet. He was always ratting us out if we even thought about mischief. He also threw stomping, screaming tantrums when he didn’t get his way. When no one picked him for a team when we played baseball, he would storm off for home and tell my Mom we were picking on him
Eventually. My Mom started doubting his word, and punished him for making stuff up. And yes, we laughed at him standing in the corner and made fun of him when she wasn’t looking. What can I say? We were average kids.
One afternoon before Youth Services came and took him to the State Hospital for commitment, he got really upset because my Mom said he couldn’t have ice cream. The rules were that you had to make your bed and do your chores, and he refused. This was about a week after he stole a pack of matches and set the cats’ tail on fire. My Mom had given up any hope of trying to correct his behavior, she was concentrating on keeping him from hurting himself or one of us.
So the Penguin threw the greatest tantrum in the history of tantrums He was throwing himself around on the floor screaming and crying in a language that made no sense, kind of like Linda Blair on the bed in the Movie "The Exorcist", but without his head spinning around. (Well, maybe it did and we didn't see it.) It was really annoying because he was throwing it in front of the TV and we were trying to watch a Cleveland Indians game, one of the few on during the day in the Summer.
We complained to Mom, and she came in and just stared at him, with her hands on her hips. Finally she shook her head and walked away, but not without giving us some stern instruction.
“Don’t touch him, just let the Penguin Dance.”
We don't realize it when we are kids, but our parents are a source of great wisdom. They know that the best way to deal with obnoxious people is to ignore them. They also teach us that what we say about others speaks more about the kind of person we are than anything someone else says. If you go around spouting rumors and innuendo, hurting other people, Others will see you for the jerk you are. But if you go around paying sincere compliments and treating others with respect, that is what you get back.
So don't let the Penguins in life who are throwing tantrums and blaming all their problems on you get you down. Don't get up and try to dance with them, because nobody wants to be known as having a fool for a dance partner.
Just. "Let the Penguin Dance" and let them dance by themselves.
Monday, August 2, 2010
One of the duties that our unit rotated doing was checking vehicles as they came on our post for bombs. In the 1980s there were several attacks by terrorist against NATO military installations, and we regularly heard about incidents at other bases. In the years I was there, we had three incidents where buildings had to be evacuated because of devices that were discovered.
On Wednesday morning August 8 a couple of my buddies and I convinced our Motor Sergeant to let us go to Rhein Mein airbase outside Frankfurt to purchase tickets for a rock concert. We took an early train, and after several station switches, we showed our military ID’s and passed through the main entrance We were walking across the parade grounds near the HQ of the Rhein Mein base commander when a VW minibus exploded about a hundred yards away. We were trained Army Demolitions men, and we ran towards the carnage.
There is a smell to an explosion, and that of burned flesh, that intermingled you never forget. According to what we later read in the military newspaper, The Stars and Stripes, two people were killed, and more than twenty injured. I was there, and I was sure there were more than that, but I wasn’t one to question the reports at that time, I have never forgotten what I saw that day. The van was parked in a lot that many civilian employees and the dependent family of service members used. The attack was intended to inflict mostly civilian casualties, and it did. Small children were among the wounded.
CNN was in its’ infancy, and while the Military used the Internet for communication purposes, it had not evolved anywhere near to what it is today. The attack was carried out by a terrorist group called the Red Army Faction. Two people were eventually apprehended and sentenced to prison for it. The terrorists had managed to get the bomb laden VW on the post using the stolen ID of an enlisted man they had murdered the night before.
So here we are 25 years later, and the name of the terrorists group is Al-Queda, not the Red Army Faction. We are fighting them in Afghanistan and Pakistan instead of Western Europe. The enemy’s face has changed as well as the field of battle, but I still see the same old conflict, just bigger, but definitely not better. In a few short years after the 1985 attack, the Berlin Wall fell, and less than a decade after that in 1998, The Red Army Faction announced it was disbanding. Then came 9/11, and it all started over again with Al-Queda. The more things change, the more they stay the same, except this time the enemy is more organized and better trained, but then, so are we.
Today a small granite marker stands on the site at Rhein Mein where the bomb exploded, in remembrance of the victims. Someday I will get around to traveling overseas and viewing it. In all probability 25 years from now there will be American men and women veterans observing their own anniversaries, and thinking about their experiences the same as I do now. They will probably ponder going to visit the granite marker at the site of their personal memory. I wonder if someday we will run out of granite for all the markers?
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
My Mom was born in 1916, so many of her stories relate to the early 1930's and the great depression.
But one of my favorite stories is one she told every time there was a fight in our house. My parents were foster parents to several hundred children over thirty years, from 1948 to 1980, so with the constant mix of kids, there were plenty of disputes.
What usually happened is that after she broke up the combatants and cracked their rears a few times, she would gather all the kids around and tell this particular story. Here goes:
Down the road a ways lived an ornery old farmer who didn't have much of a farm. But he had real fertile land, so he didn't have to work all that hard to get a good harvest. He had lots and lots of acres, but in the middle of his farm was a group of real rocky hills covered by lots and lots of trees. It was so rocky and so wooded that the farmer never tried to grade it flat or plow it. He just let it be, he made enough money and fed his family pretty well off the land he could use.
Now up in the rocky hills there was a cave, and in that cave there lived a bear. The bear didn't care much for people, but he had enough berries and other critters running around nearby that he had a pretty good life.
So we had a farmer and a bear, who both had pretty good lives, and left each other alone. But the farmer was a proud man, and he didn't like the bear. He felt the bear was free loading on his property. The bear, on the other hand, felt the farmer took advantage of him. Whenever the bear started chasing the deer herd, the farmer would wait until the bear had the deer heading towards the farmers house, and shoot one. Then when the bear went to get a deer, the farmer would shoot at the bear as well.
The farmer and the bear didn't realize it, but the farmer not cutting down the forest gave the bear lots of fruits and nuts to eat, and the bear chasing the deer gave the farmer fresh meat. They had a pretty good thing going, but both were too stupid to see it.
Well one day it happened that the farmer was out hunting rabbits when he saw the bear walking along at the edge of the woods, minding his own business. The bear wasn't bothering anybody, he was just getting some exercise, and he didn't see the farmer. The farmer, being a mean old bastard decided he would get rid of the bear once and for all, so he aimed his gun and fired. The bear was hit in one of his legs, but he managed to run away and hide from the farmer.
But the farmer wasn't done. He headed up into the woods with his trusty hunting dog Boo, to try and finish off the bear. The Bear was badly hurt but he smelled the hunter coming. So he laid down in the tall grass and lay very still, as if he was dead.
Now Boo the dog smelled the bear, but he wasn't stupid enough to go up to him, he froze and pointed the bear out to the farmer. The Farmer crept up to the bear, and seeing him lying there bleeding laughed at him.
"I finally got you, you fat bastard!' The farmer took the barrel of his gun, and poked the bear hard right on his wound. The Bear jumped to his feet and knocked the gun away, and then mauled the farmer horribly, ripping his claws against the farmer's body again and again, until he was too tired to stand.
Boo the dog ran off for home, where he got the attention of the farmer's wife and the hired men, and lead them back to the farmer, who lay dying on his own land. They carried the farmer back to his house and put him to bed. The game warden and the pastor were both called.
On his death bed the farmer confessed what he had done in shooting the bear. After hearing the story, the game warden picked up his rifle and headed out to the scene. He tracked the bear to the mouth of the cave, where he lay dying as well. When the warden walked up to him, the bear could barely lift his head, he had lost so much blood. The warden shook his head and started to cry as he raised his rifle. "I'm sorry old bear, it doesn't matter who started it, but the law is the law." Then he shot the bear dead, putting him out of his misery.
Some might think this is a bit harsh of a story to be telling little kids, but it has a good morale to it.
It is the idea that we shouldn't go picking a needless fight with someone like the Farmer did just because we can. That's not a good reason. When you think about it, there are no good reasons for picking a fight.
And the other lesson to be learned is that when you pick a fight, you might be getting more than you bargained for, and there are no guarantees that you will win. Just ask the farmer. He had shot the bear, and won the fight, but then he went and poked him when he didn't have to.
So the lesson of the story is: "Don't Poke The Bear."
Monday, July 19, 2010
How about that? A Pulitzer Prize winning Author born right here?! Think it's something we should be proud of, and maybe celebrate? I do, but it seems no one else does. Benet was awarded two Pulitzer Prizes, his second posthumously for his unfinished collection of poems detailing the plight of native Americans during the settling of the American western Frontier. It was titled "Western Star" and Author Dee Brown was inspired to write "Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee" by it.
Benet also is credited for the original text that inspired the Play and movie, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, but is most famous for his short story that also inspired a Movie, "The Devil and Daniel Webster."
Anyway, as a frustrated, unpublished would be novelist, I tried to imagine what would happen if Benet were to submit his works to a literary agent in this day and age. Follow me now, as I give my vision of the conversation of what happens when he discusses his signature work, "The Devil and Daniel Webster"
Literary Agent (LI): "Thank you for your submission Mr. Bennett, it's quite...er.. fascinating."
Stephen Vincent Benet (SVB): "Excuse me, my name's Be-Net, pronounced Ba-Nay, if you don't mind. So are you interested in publishing it?"
LI: That depends, do you have an Internet presence? Do you blog? are you on Facebook? Have you ever Tweeted?
SVB: Internet? Tweet? What are you talking about? I am not a vain man, I would not require my face on the cover of my book. Will you agree to publish it or not?
LI: "It isn't much, Mr. Ba-Nay, This Daniel Webster, is he related to the guy who writes the dictionary, by chance?"
SVB: "as a matter of fact yes, but he was also a great U.S. Senator.."
LI: "Oh, you mean like Hillary Clinton, could you rewrite this and make Webster a woman?"
SVB: "I don't think so, I wrote it as a tale of warning, and..."
LI: "I don't care what you wrote it as, what I care about is can I make money from it. Now I might be able to sell this if you spice it up a bit. Could you rewrite it to make say, Lindsay Lohan the defendant? Then you could put The Spears Sisters and Paris Hilton, Nicole Ritchie on the Jury of her Peers,
Now that, People will want to read! Do you get my drift, Mr. Banay? Oh wait, Could you make Brad Pitt the Judge? Anyway you can work Angeline Jolie and Jennifer Aniston in would also help the marketability!
The Devil and Lindsay Lohan, now that, Disney would want to make a Movie about! What do you say, Mr Benet, interested? We could make a lot of money!"
SVB: "I Don't know, it seems sort of like I'm selling out my true story, I'll have to think about it."
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
I am going to relay an event that happened almost twenty years ago. I was twenty eight years old and was living in a house I had purchased from my parents. It was November of 1990, right after Thanksgiving. I was at home on a Saturday afternoon watching College Football when my Dad rang my doorbell. I lived next door, so in his mind it was easier than calling on the phone.
My Dad was an officer in a church organization that went out whenever they were asked and delivered food to needy families. A call had come in that a family had been overlooked in the need for Thanksgiving baskets, and had no food or money. He needed someone to go with him, and asked me.
First we went to the church and made a basket from the goods in their pantry. We took a Turkey from the Church basement freezer that was extra from the big basket delivery that had been done on Wednesday. Then we went to a market and purchased milk, fresh bread and vegetables.
I drove us to the home of this family, in a real crap hole of a neighborhood a few miles from ours.
The paperwork said there were four children ages 3 to 9 in the home. At the door a large Jabba the hut like man started screaming at us that he could feed his own damn family and get the f**K off his property.
Then he turned to the woman and started beating her, chastising her for calling for help, and he stated that it was good he hadn't left for work yet.
I wanted to intervene, but my Dad stopped me, and told me to get back in my truck. We drove away, and he had me pull into a fast food drive thru and get him some coffee and I got myself a soda. He had me park and he turned on the radio. We listened to a football game for a few minutes, and then he turned it off.
"Let's go back" he ordered.
"Why?" I asked.
"You heard the fat man, he was about to leave for work. He might be gone by now."
So I drove back, and the nasty bastard was gone. The mother looked like hell but I kept my mouth shut. She had enough problems. The kids asked us many questions and thanked us for the food. The oldest girl was especially happy to get chocolate pop tarts.
As we drove home, I asked my Dad why he bothered going back, after the way the so called Father had spoke to him, and he told me something that I never forgot and I remember to this day.
"I won't let kids go hungry just because their dad's an asshole."
I translated that as I should never hold what a parent does against the children.
You can think what you want of me, and whatever actions I should have taken and did not that day, but it was a different time and place. I have not forgotten the lesson.
And that is why when I see people posting comments on blogs, facebook, or other social media disparaging children because a parent or parents has done something imbecilic I shake my head in disgust.
Whether it is the kids of Russian spies or the kids whose mother faked their kidnapping to cover her embezzlement, we can never deride the children or hold their parents sins against them.
It is wrong to ostracize any child of any creed, race or color that way. And that's what I think of the matter.
Friday, June 18, 2010
I found it fascinating how that changed by location, I know why, but that is for another blog entry on another day.
What's bothering me today is that Lucy, my little Black shadow of a Cocker Spaniel, appears to be nearing the end of her life. She will be 14 in October, or about Betty White's age in human years. Dogs can't tell us directly if they are suffering, but her tail constantly wags and she still has moments where she will grab her toy and want me to play with her.
But the seizures are becoming more frequent. I pick her up and hold her until they pass, and then she acts as if nothing happened, before she lays down and sleeps for awhile.
I know what's coming, but in the meantime, I have made a Bucket List for her:
1. Let her sleep on the end of the Bed
2. Let her ride in the car with me to the bank, so she can get the free dog treat from the Window teller.
3. Stop at McDonalds/Burger King/Wendys and get her a plain Hamburger on each ride. It's not like it will kill her, right?
4. She doesn't leave the yard as long as I am in it (Never has, really), so I took off her Invisible fence collar so she doesn't get zapped unnecessarily. I figure at her age, she probably has enough pain, why give her more?
5. Make sure that her bed is within arms reach of me when I am working on the Computer. Lucy is truly my shadow, she follows me everywhere when I am home, and lays as close to me as possible. We recently purchased a separate, extra dog bed that is next to my chair so I can reach down and scratch her head when I am working. She laid there anyway, so we figured she might as well be comfortable.
I don't know what five things Lucy would want to do before she goes to the great puppy playtime in heaven, but these are the five I have to offer. Any Suggestions? What would you do for your "Shadow?"
Sunday, June 6, 2010
As a fallen away Catholic, if the Pope has any hope of ever getting me back in the fold, he needs to let me believe that there is more to do up there than play Bingo, say the Rosary, or Bowling and Golfing with Jesus. Some of us need something else.
Anyway, what brought up the whole lawn mowing in Heaven subject was a dream I had the other night.
I was mowing the lawns in the neighborhood where I grew up on my riding mower. Now I know it was a dream, because my Dad thought it was the law to make you push an old mower that took half an hour to start. I would never have had a riding mower in my old neighborhood.
So there I was mowing away, with a Yuengling in my cup holder and I happen to look over at the big yard on the church grounds. There I see my parents and all these other dead people I knew in real life smiling and waving at me, telling me to come on over, and they will open the gate and let me in. Even all the dogs I had in my life are running around in there.
The thing is, I realize they are all dead, and I'm wondering if once I drive my lawn mower over, that's it for me? Or is God just trying to ease my fears, and let me know that one, I'm getting in, and two, he's got a job for me. What do you guys think?
Sunday, May 2, 2010
And even if you try, your wife is not going to be happy about it.
So off we went to the home improvement store, where Mrs C. made her choice.
She chose the Bemis "whisper close" model, pictured here.
Changing the seat was not hard at all. But I have a question about the marketing of toilet seats.
Who really sits around thinking up the marketing campaign, and where do they sit to do that thinking?
Also, on the box it proudly tells you that you don't have to worry about pinching your fingers with this seat.
I suppose if you have small kids that is something to worry about.
I just can't help but wonder if I will have to start worrying about hearing whispers in the bathroom.
"Don't forget to put me down when you are done Chris. I don't like it when you leave me up."
And here I thought the people in my head talked too much, now I have to worry about whispering toilet seats?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Oh yeah, it has been 6 long years of pushing the lawn mower around, but now I have a riding mower, thanks to the love and generosity of Mrs C. Kathy Frederick at the Junk Drawer Blog might love her new Dyson Vacuum cleaner, but there are no words to describe how I feel about my Bolens model 762 Lawn tractor.
Here she is, before I backed her into the garage and her personal parking spot. After they delivered her, and before I took her out for her first spin, I sat in the kitchen and carefully read over the operating instructions. I want her to last a long time, and I want to take care of her. (Don't worry, I do feel much the same way about Mrs. C) So it is vitally important that I know how to operate her properly and maintain her in tip top shape. I checked the oil, the battery cables, and gave her a good look over before I added fuel to the gas tank. It warmed my heart that she fired up on the first try. She even has a large bright headlight for mowing as it gets dark.
She has a great safety feature in that she will not run in reverse if the power transfer to the blades is engaged. I had a blast mowing my yard..... and a neighbors..... and then maybe another neighbors, I hope they didn't mind. But she has one feature that is the most wonderful of all, the kind a real man loves. My lawn mower has.........
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
I did what friends do, I read his words and I responded as supportively as I could. I don't want to go into too much personal detail, but I realized as I was reading that his sense of loss was profound in a way I could not imagine.
He and his wife worked many miles apart in different industries, but they both worked at a Computer. He told me how they had regularly communicated during the day via Facebook. Since her death, it had been difficult for him at work, because he missed her regular messages.
But he couldn't stay off Facebook, because he felt an obligation to take care of her cyber farm on Farmville. It had been an ongoing competition between them, to get the craziest and wildest things on their Cyber farms. He asked me if I thought it was stupid that he do this, go to her farm each day and feed her animals, and harvest her crops. Farmville let people get puppies this week, and he got one to keep her avatar company while he is working. He thought she would like that.
I don't think he is stupid. I think he loved her so much that he is holding on to whatever he can to keep her in his life.
My point in writing this is that sometimes I have made fun of people who spend way too much time online, and I tell them to get out and get a life. Yet here I find someone who goes online during the day to try and hang on to one that is gone. Who the hell am I to judge?
Sunday, April 4, 2010
I know, I know, Christmas was what, 15 weeks ago? I have been busy, blogging and stuff.
Anyways, I got up around 5 AM, left at 6 AM. and drove the three hours home. We were at the annual Saturday night family Easter dinner gathering and I came home on this beautiful spring day with the express purpose of getting some yard work done. Mrs C is arriving later.
Imagine her surprise when she sees the artificial tree is put away and the stand back in the basement.
I figured if I have to carry stuff up OUT OF THE BASEMENT! I might as well carry stuff down too!
I would like to try and claim that my tree has a different meaning for me, but that is B.S. I could claim that I put the tree up for Christ's Birth so naturally I take it down when he rises from the dead, because....
maybe they needed the wood for the cross?!!!
So I have accomplished something this Easter, I put away the christmas tree! I retrieved the dogs from the kennel, and I cleaned all the carpets and floors. Now I have to go shopping for a new lawn mower.
For a man, that is a just reward!
Friday, March 26, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
So I kicked this around with the guys at work, and here is the first thing that came to their minds:
Why in God's name do you always wait until the two minute warning to decide that we need to go shopping NOW? Would you like it if we waited until the last thirty minutes of that Lifetime Movie and demanded you make us dinner? That wouldn't fly, and we know it. So why do it to us? You also do it with two minutes left in an NCAA basketball tournament game. You have done it in the bottom of the ninth with two outs, the bases loaded, and our teams best hitter at bat with the Phils down 4 to 3.
We are men, we live vicariously through professional sports. We no longer get to go out and do the hunter gatherer gig, so you have to let us at least watch some form of competition that gets our adrenaline going.
Okay, I'm done here. Just remember, we do love you, and we do enjoy the thrill of the hunt occasionally as it pertains to seducing you and dragging you off to the bedroom. That's why we buy roses. That's why we kiss you behind your ear while whispering in it how hot you look in that little black dress.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Okay. the guy is an Immigrant from India. He has a family with children, and from my almost daily interaction with him in the last three years since that particular Dunkin Donuts' opened, I have learned that his relatives own and operate several franchises.
It's the Freakin' American dream. God bless'em for being willing to put forth the effort. What had me laughing this weekend is that while watching the NCAA basketball games on CBS I kept seeing a Dunkin Donuts commercial where all the people working at Dunkin Donuts WERE WHITE!
This came on the heels of my walking into the DD on Hamilton Boulevard in Trexlertown Saturday morning and getting waited on by a young white guy. The other seven employees were all of a minority ethnicity, but here was one white guy, working side by side with OTHER AMERICANS, who happened to have a different skin color.
My point here is that I could not help but notice the irony of who is working for who. (I've always had trouble using WHOM)
But when is the last time that you saw a white person working at Dunkin Donuts? Really? Is the economy that bad? And I have a question or two for the folks running DD and approving the commercials.
Have you actually been in one of your buildings recently? Where is this DD with all the White Employees located, FANTASYLAND?
That's my politically incorrect observation for this week. My next post will be a complimentary one to a post from Redhead Ranting about TEN THINGS she hates about men.
I have ten things that women do that drive men nuts. It is not a top ten list, just ten random things that women do that make men want to bang their heads against a wall. Come back Thursday, I will have the list gleaned to ten by then.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
On Tuesday, Fate reared her head and set things in motion.
Yesterday morning Mrs C left for St. Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands on a mission. She comes back next Tuesday. But to be allowed back on the United States mainland, she needs to produce proof of citizenship. We have traveled many times to St. Thomas USVI and never before did we need these things, but last year the rules changed.
Guess what we could not find? Mrs C's birth certificate. You can leave the country without one, but get back in? Not happening! (I told her to get a passport, but NOOOOOO!)
So this predicated me making several phone calls, and kudos to State representative Jennifer Mann's office for steering me in the right direction.
I went into work at 5 AM and worked until 11 AM. Then I drove two hours from Montgomeryville to Harrisburg and visited the Department of Health at 645 Forster Street room 129. I went in, filled out the forms, and presented them at the window.
Did you know that Military veterans can get two copies of their birth certificates and that of their immediate family members for free? You do now! The nice lady handed me back a slip telling me to come back in about ninety minutes to pick up the birth certificates.
I had time to blow, so I went for a walk. I visited the nice new shiny judicial records building. I went up to the fifth floor and suite 5600, where I spoke to some very nice people and showed them some emails I had received from the lawyer of another blogger that were not very nice. They gave me the forms I needed to file a complaint with the Disciplinary board concerning said lawyer. Lawyers have to behave in a civilized manner, even if their clients don't. They agreed that Mr. Lawyer wasn't the SHARPEst tool in the shed and should behave better. I got all kinds of great contact info to use. I would never have thought that the disciplinary body for Lawyers in the Lehigh Valley was in Pittsburgh, but hey, that's state government!
I'm not all that confident they will do anything about Mr. Lawyer, but at least there will be a complaint in his file for now on.
I was in and out of there in 20 minutes, so I moseyed over to the State capitol where the legislature was in session. I ran into my friends State Reps Steve Samuelson and Joe Brennan, and Steve walked with me to Jen Mann's office where I personally thanked her staff for quickly facilitating the process for getting Mrs C's birth certificate. Usually the process takes ten days by mail. That would have been a problem!
All in all, I arrived in Harrisburg at 1:15 PM and departed at 3:00 PM. I was home by 4:45. Not too bad, huh?! So that was my big adventure Wednesday. Now I am looking forward to big adventure Saturday. Can't wait!
Friday, March 5, 2010
In many public places there is background music playing in the restrooms. We don't have any music over the PA system at work, but yesterday I was washing my hands and heard someone humming the Jeopardy theme music from inside a stall.
What made me laugh out loud was that as they hit the last note of the theme, they flushed the toilet.
Which got me to thinking, what if the person was obsessive compulsive, and had that song stuck in their head? What if they could not stop doing anything until they hit the last note?
That would be al l right doing dishes, but what if you are walking the dog or jogging? Wouldn't it be hard to hit the right note everytime as you got home?
What if you were with a member of the opposite sex? Wouldn't humming that tune really put a damper on things? Think about it.
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Last week the man's son made the agonizing decision to stop treatment on his father. The breathing tube was removed, and later that day he passed peacefully in his sleep.
The son agonized over his decision, and I went to the Hospital the night before and talked to him for a few minutes, for which he was grateful. It is hard to let go. we beat ourselves up and think of all the things we should have done, and in many cases we focus on everything we did wrong. I felt compelled to remind the son of everything he did right. That's all I have to say tonight.
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
It's been a hard winter for us, how do you think the wildlife are handling it? They don't know to get to the grocery store and stock up, they get by on what they can get. It makes me feel pretty lucky.
But when I think about it, they don't get all excited over inaccurate idiot weather predictions either.
(Click on picture to enlarge)
Sunday, February 21, 2010
We were sitting in a booth at a window when two women who were both on the far side of 80 years of age came in. One using a walker, the other using a cane. They were seated in the booth behind us.
Neither had a hearing aid. Which precipitated my wife and I being privy to every word they spoke.
The truly terrifying part of what we heard was that the lady using the walker, who also wore big thick black sunglasses INSIDE the diner, was the one who DROVE them there.
Walker Lady: "I'm glad you could come today. I have trouble seeing the driveway."
Cane Lady: "I can see the driveway, I just can't turn my head to drive."
Does that scare you? Wait, there's more.....
Cane Lady: "I have been so hot at night. I had to get up and turn on the air conditioning in my unit and stand in front of it. I can't believe I'm still gotting flasshes at my age."
Walker Lady: "I don't think we ever get over menopause."
That's just what I needed to hear as I was eating my Tuna salad sandwhich and Crock of French Onion soup. We weren't the only ones who could hear this either. The Senior Couple on the other side of us started discussing the old ladies' problem.
Wife: "She should see her Doctor."
Husband: "What did you do about your hot flashes?"
I almost spit soup on my wife. There are some things I just don't want to hear. We left very shortly after that. There was a small white sedan parked sideways in a handicap spot outside, and partially blocking the driveway. Any bets on who it might have belonged to?
All humor aside, I drove my parents everywhere they needed to go for about 6 years before they both passed away. I know how tough it is to restrict their freedom of movement to insure the safety of others around them. You have to weigh whether you want to risk getting a call that they had an accident and were killed or caused the death or injury of someone else over allowing them their freedom of movement.
I don't envy anyone who faces that choice.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Punsxutawny Phil was just the beginning. You think the snow is bad? Who knew the varmints were training in the woods for a military strike?
Fortunately I have two vigilant Cocker Spaniels guarding my home. I bet the Pennsylvania Lottery is rigged, That Damn Groundhog Gus is probably their leader and sending out secret messages to them in those mindless commercials.
If I were a paranoid you should be worried, but I'm not.
I just thought the picture funny and thought I should share it. It sure would make hunting season interesting if the animals shot back, wouldn't it?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Does this look like the end of your Driveway? it sure seems that way to me on my street. It took me two hours just to shovel one side of my driveway wide enough to get one car in. I think I spent a total of five hours in all clearing it from curb to curb.
Over the last few days I picked away at it a few feet at a time.
I think the unofficial motto of the Snow Plow drivers in my Municipality is: "If you can still get out of your driveway, then we haven't done our job."
A family member had made me aware that The Farmers Almanac has been pretty spot on with its predictions for this Winter. It also says the worst is yet to come around March 8.
Personally, I have had enough.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Like everyone else, I get my share of Spam Emails. I occasionally explore the list of emails in the Spam filter to see if anything legitimate accidentally ended up there. I explore the ones that look interesting, and this week I got one that made me laugh out loud:
"Have you ever had, or are you considering, having a C-section?"
Yep, that is what it said. Now in defense of whatever Spam program generated this message, my first name is gender neutral. So that did not bother me in the least.
Now that a couple of days have passed, I've been thinking about how inappropriate it is to ask anyone of either sex that question.
How does somebody sitting at a keyboard somewhere justify sending out an anonymous electronic message to possibly millions of people and ask something like that? I kind of think that is a personal thing that gets asked under appropriate circumstances.
But now that I have been asked, I have decided to answer. No, I have never had a C-section, and no, I am not planning on having one. I am approaching that age where men have certain, ahem, bathroom issues, but I am sure that I can wait for my doctor to ask the relevant question. I'm sure my doctor will suggest the right course of action should the need arise.
Monday, February 1, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
But there comes a time when I think the motives of some so called "helpers" are purely selfish.
When Gov Rendell personally escorted 40 some orphans on a plane to Pittsburgh, I saw a potential act of kindness perverted to a PR stunt.
Call me a cynic or whatever, but all I saw was a political opportunist looking to enhance a damaged image.
Now lets take this idea to remake "We are the World."
If you are like me, and can remember back 25 years to when it was released, I hope you remember how sick most people became of hearing that song OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN!
I was in Europe at an Army base and the Armed Forces network played the damn thing every half hour. At the time Troops were there to discourage any Russian attacks, but many of my buddies and I seriously considered blowing up AFARTS. (Armed Forces Radio and Television Station.) instead. Yes it was called AFARTS. The Military comes up with the damnedest acronyms, but that is another post some other day.
I am all for helping the Haitians, and I applaud people like Brad and Angelina who give a million bucks to Doctors without Borders for Medical supplies. George Clooney organized a Telethon. There is nothing in it for these people, they always do things like this. Politicians? Not so much.
But then I look at the recording industry, and there's all this speculation of who will work on the remake, as if it is a badge of honor, and the spots will go to the highest bidder. Okay, so they are raising money, that is a good thing. But the media experts on CNN are also talking about how some performers (i.e. Kanye West) can help reform their image by doing this.
That gets me to thinking that some of those who want to be involved aren't doing it for the best of reasons, that there is more self interest than humanitarian gesture involved. I know it is politically incorrect to say this, but I think some of those behind the "We Are The World" remake don't give a damn about helping Haitians, all they are looking for is a few extra bucks and some good PR.
I know that the idea of USA for Africa was to raise money for famine relief, and Bob Geldof got knighted by the Queen of England for what he did. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and "We Are the World" at age 25 is like Route 22 through the Lehigh Valley is at age 50. I'm not sure that redoing it will be an improvement. Route 22 is in regular need of repaving, just as the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.
I'm not looking forward to this remake. We will be hearing that annoying song for another generation. It will probably raise hundreds of millions of dollars to supposedly help Haitians and many media darlings will feel good about themselves. More power to them. But every time I hear it on the radio or see it on TV, I will be changing the channel. I am not blind and deaf to the needs of the suffering, but I choose to ignore the pleas of those who would surreptitiously profit from it.
Friday, January 29, 2010
Last Wednesday I headed over to Valley Sports and Arthritis Surgeons for my biannual check up.
I had my right hip replaced in January 2006, at the ripe old age of 44. I was the youngest person my surgeon had done at that time, and he told me it was one of the worst degenerative joint conditions he had ever seen. My surgery was January tenth of that year, and I was back at work by May.
Every two years I have to stop by the office and let them take X-rays to see how it is holding up.
So far so good. The left hip has a few issues, but nothing like the right one had. It might need work about the time the right one needs replaced again.
I have survived multiple high speed impacts in my life, in vehicles, while skydiving, and a couple while rock climbing/rappelling.
I used to be a risk taker, and now I am paying the price. That's how it goes.
When the surgeon came in to see me he had a couple of residents tagging along. The had me bending my leg all kinds of which ways, checking my mobility and balance. I was the first person under sixty years of age that the one young doctor had met. He asked me what I did for a living that made me need a new hip.
I told him I tested parachutes for a living, and that sometimes they fail.
He believed me.
I am a bad bad man. Yes I told him the truth, but I think he thought that was B.S. Oh well.
Thursday, January 28, 2010
Monday, January 25, 2010
When it comes to Home Delivery, some people stopped trying long ago.
I am old enough to remember when someone delivered your phone book by ringing your doorbell and politely handing it to you.
Way back in the summer of 1980, when I had finished my Freshman year of college, I earned $35.00 for every 200 phone books I could deliver. I had a 72 Dodge back in those days, and it could hold a lot of Phone books. I would load up twice a day and do several blocks worth. That's how I paid for My textbooks.
But nowadays you get what you see in the picture above. I came home from work right after the Monday Monsoon, and lo and behold, there at the community mailbox was a pile of new phone books.
There were not any notes inviting you to take one, I guess whoever thought leaving them there was a good idea did not think of that.
If you think those books stayed dry through that rain Monday, you would be wrong.
So I would like to congratulate the purveyors of "LEHIGH VALLEY EASY PAGES" for choosing the delivery system to the customers that they did. I bet all the people who paid for advertising in your publication are thrilled with the result.
I have a second observation, and that is I can't remember the last time I used a phone book. I go on line and search/Google everything when I need to make a call. I looked up my sister in Massachusetts phone number that way, and I do the same for local numbers.
Is the Phone book obsolete? Or is it just a glorified money saver full of coupons that happens to have some relevant phone numbers in it?
Other than the Coupons, there is not anything in this easy pages directory that I can't find out online. So it is pretty much either redundant and or useless, or both?
I know what I am doing with my waterlogged copy. I'm sticking it in the Freezer. I bet it gets as hard as a cinder block. Then I am going to stick it in my catapult and launch it into the swamp.
The possibilities are endless. What would you do with your soggy EASY PAGES?