Saturday, May 31, 2008

Back up and Running




My computer is back. No, it wasn't a hard drive failure. However, something happened that corrupted my registry. According to Tom (my Computer Guy), the registry is the brains or central core of the computer. If that doesn't work, the computer can't even get started. What corrupted my registry? I suspect it had something to do with me uninstalling and reinstalling my Canon photo software. I couldn't upload my images. After uninstalling and reinstalling the Canon software, I still could not upload my images. Then, perhaps my fatal mistake, I restored my computer to an earlier time. That's when I really had a problem. I got the Blue Screen of Death. Shortly after that I got an error message (which I can't remember the exact text now) that said I had a defective something or other. That effectively stopped my computer from working. It was now time to call in the Heavy Gun, Tom the Computer Guy. He came in the next day, couldn't find immediately what the problem was and asked to take my computer home with him to study it further. The next day he called with "good news and bad news." Don't you just hate those "good news, bad news" messages? I do! Well, the "good news" was that I didn't lose my data files. The bad news was that I would have to reload a lot of software. So, that is where I stand now. Most of the software has been reloaded and everything seems to be working fine except one very important factor. I still can't upload pictures from my Canon digital camera. If you know me, you know how important my pictures are to me and to my daily blog. So, you, the readers of this blog will have to view older pictures until I get this problem straightened out. Tom won't be able to get back to me today, he and his partner are going to a Black and White Ball in Rehoboth Beach tonight. I left a message for him. I hope he can stop over tomorrow and help me with my photo software so I can upload my current pictures. I have some good ones. In the meantime, I'll post older photos that may or may not be appropriate to the current blog that I am posting. This near disaster was a Wake Up Call for me though. I'm going to back up my important files right now. God always has a plan. By the way, the picture on this blog has nothing to do with anything other than it was taken BC. That's not "Before Christ" but "Before Computers." Notice the lack of gray hair. This photo was an old ID picture taken when I worked at Girard Bank in Philadelphia around 1972 - before the advent of the COMPUTER!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Day Two of the Crash

This is the second day of my computer's hard drive crash. Tom, my Computer Guy, took my computer's tower yesterday. I haven't heard from him since. I put a call in to him today and left him a voice mail. I think it's time for a new computer. The computer that crashed was a Gateway that I purchses in 2001. It's been a good computer. I have absolutely no complaints about it. It's lasted a good long time. In fact, I have known I've been living on borrowed time with this computer. My previous computers only lasted three years before they crashed. I'm now shopping for a new computer. My head is swimming with all the choices. Basically, all I want is a fast computer that for my photo collection, genealogy records, e-mail and using the Internet to pay bills and searches. I don't do games so I wouldn't need one of those space shuttle computers. I've used Dell before but have been disappointed with the quality of their computers and their customer service. I keep hearing that I don't want a computer with Vista. Decisions, decisions. Maybe Tom will call and all will be alright with my old computer so I won't have to make this decision. Maybe not.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Hard Drive Crash

This morning my hard drive crashed. My friend Tom, whom I call on to take care of my computer problems, took my CPU unit home with him to make sure that is what happened. Ironically, this morning, as I signed on to my computer, I was thinking that I better bring my backups up to date. Unfortunately, it may be too late. What I will really miss is the pictures that I took the past three months. I may have lost all of those due to my negligence in not performing regular backup. This has happened to me before. It is a sickening feeling in the pit of the stomach. I'm typing this entry at my workplace. I won't be able to make my daily blog entries until I get this problem fixed. Just another day.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Flower Girl Gets Involved



During the beach wedding of Mark and Jenny, the bride and groom began a ceremony that involved sand. Normally, candles would be used in a wedding ceremony. One candle represented the bride. Another candle representedthe groom. The third candle would represent Christ. However, since this wedding took place on the beach, where the wind is almost always ever present, it was decided to use sand. Thus, when the minister began the ceremony of sand which would signify the unity of the bride, groom and Christ; Anna, the flower girl decided to get involved. Anna saw the bride and groom reach down for sand. So, she decided to join them. Why not? It was a Day at the Beach for Anna. Years from now, as a grown woman, Anna will surely look back on this video and see just how charming she was as a flower girl on this May day on the Delaware Bay beach in Lewes, Delaware.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Wedding on the Beach







Mark marries his bride Jenny on the beach in Lewes, Delaware May 24, 2008. Saturday, May 24th, was a perfect day for a wedding on the beach. Even though nor'easter that blew through here earlier this month took a lot of the Delaware Bay beach out to sea, there was enough left to have a gathering of families for the wedding of Mark and Jenny. The temperature hovered around 72 degrees, no humidity, and the winds that buffeted the beach earlier in the week had died down. Friends and family gathered to witness the event, seated on white folding chairs on the beach. The wedding was held at the groom's parent's house, at the request of the groom. Mark always wanted to be married on the beach. The wedding was planned months ago. No one could have predicted that the weather would cooperate so fully. There were smiles all around. Even the flower girl got into the act, much to the delight of the onlookers. Years from now, the bride and groom will show this video to their children and grandchildren to show them how to do a perfect wedding. Congratulations to both the newlyweds and our wishes for many, many years of happiness.

Paul's Birthday

Friends gather for our usual Sunday night dinner at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Tonight was special because it was our friend Paul's birthday. We're not telling how old he really is but he doesn't have to show his ID card anymore to get into a bar.

The Wedding on the Beach






































Just a short entry today. Keeping up with my practice of making daily blog postings. So busy around here. Neighbors dropping by, friends visiting, beautiful weather beckoning me to go outside and enjoy. Here are a few pictures of the wedding I attended yesterday on Cape Shores Drive on the Delaware Bay (near the Cape May-Lewes Ferry). Just an absolutely perfect day for a wedding. Gorgeous! The bride was beautiful too!









Saturday, May 24, 2008

Jack and Judy Leave for the Wedding


The perfect house guests, Jack and Judy, prepared to leave for their son's wedding today on the beach at Cape Henlopen. As Jack said, they were "fully fed and properly ready to tackle the world." Their son Mark was to be married today at 3 pm or thereabouts on the sands in front of Jack and Judy's home on Cape Shores Drive, on Delaware Bay near Cape Henlopen and the Cape May/Lewes Ferry. This video was taken this morning before the wedding of Jack and Judy's son Mark and his lovely bride. I left around 2 o'clock in the afternoon for their house to take additional videos. I took the videos with my Canon Power Shot digital camera. Prior to today, I had only taken short 10 or 15 second videos. Today was going to be a test. I had purchased a 4 gigabyte memory card from Walmart yesterday. I already had a 1 gigabyte memory card. After a short visit to Cape Henlopen State Park (it's so near Jack and Judy's place and I've only been there once which I am ashamed to say. This negligence falls into the same category of all the years I worked in Center City Philadelphia and I never once visited the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall). I arrived at Jack and Judy's house which was duly festooned with gaily colored wide pink ribbons fluttering in the ocean breeze to denote a special event that was taking place today on the eastern shores of this Delaware coast where we retired. I went around to the back of their house which sits right on the bay (looking out their living room windows at the always changing waters of the bay is like cruising on an ocean liner) and saw several young men in white shirts and black pants putting in place the folding chairs for the soon to be nuptials. It wasn't long after this that the bride made her grand and graceful entrance down the wood steps that bore their scars of almost constant bombardment of sea salt air proudly, to the beach in her pristine white gown. The contrast between the gray rough weathered wood steps and the bride's smooth while silk gown was startling. I began taking videos with my modest unprepossessing Canon digital camera. It wasn't too long until my 1 gigabyte card was out of memory. I put in the 4 gigabyte card. It lasted until the groom gave his bride the kiss that signaled the end of the ceremonies. I had just enough memory left to take some pictures of the cute little flower girl and ring bearer who looked adorable in his little black suit (where did his parents get that size?) After the ceremonies I rush down to Walmart through the Saturday afternoon Route 1 traffic and downloaded my memory cards to their machine that does all kinds of wonderful things with that little memory card that now holds so much history. An hour later I had my CD-ROMS. I was anxious when I got home to see the finished videos. I inserted the first CD-ROM in my D drive. Nothing. Grinding and grinding. Oh, I had to have the Walmart software. I download that. Still the grinding and grinding. My computer is 7 years old. In the computer world that's not even dog years. Seven years in the computer world is like 87 years in human years. My CD-RW drive wasn't up to it. Thus, I copied the 1 gigabyte memory card to my computer's hard drive, thus taking up more space. That space is finite. It doesn't expand. Maybe I should of used a camcorder at the wedding. I got away from using camcorders because I just did not videotape that much to justify a half hour of one subject. When I discovered that my little Cannon Power Shot recorded as well as take great digital pictures, I was in amateur photographer, record memories, maven heaven. However, today I pushed the envelope just a little too far. Tomorrow night at the Purple Parrot, it's back to the 15-20 second bites. No more weddings......unless it's mine.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Feathered One




The “Feathered One” is our group’s nickname for the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll remember that the author had, shall we say a “dust up”, with another member of the group. Looking back on The Incident in retrospect, it was probably a combination of a misunderstanding and too much alcohol. I won’t go over the details of The Incident here (see my previous blogs on this subject), but I have decided that life is too short to carry my anger over such a trivial matter that had more to do with the tone of words used and a misunderstanding of a situation (late delivery of food to the author) than what really happened. The past two weeks I have not attended the Sunday night meeting of this group of friends at the Purple Parrot. Last week I was going to attend but I made the mistake of reading a couple of e-mails from the other party, which were written shortly after The Incident. I had delayed reading them because I was so angry. Well, that was a mistake because reading those week old e-mails brought back all the angry words and misunderstanding of the situation anew. My anger returned sans the alcohol. However, I have had a week to cool off and have decided that the whole series of circumstances leading up to The Incident just isn’t worth ostracizing my self from a group of friends that I truly like and respect, including the individual who triggered my anger with his ill chosen words. He probably still doesn’t see the situation that way and that is all well and fine. I am moving on. Yesterday another member of our group sent me an e-mail asking if anyone was up for “the Feathered One” Sunday night. I thought, “Why not?” My partner asked “Are you going if HE is there?” I said “Why not?” If HE doesn’t want to talk or is uncomfortable, I can’t do anything about that. However, Rehoboth Beach is a small town and the gay community is even smaller. Even more minute is having good friends you like, respect and whose company is mutually enjoyable. That is more important than any perceived disrespect or hurtful words hurled in anger between friends. To quote another friend of ours who will be unable to meet with us this Sunday night:
I will be working on a research project from 6 to 8 so will not be able to feather the nest this Sunday. Be kind to each other.”
Good advice Harvey.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Serving at Japanese Steakhouse

The cook serving our vegetables at the Tokyo Steakhouse in Lewes, Delaware.

Volcano

Friends and neighbors out for an evening of dining fun at the Japanese restaurant called The Tokyo Steakhouse in Lewes, Delaware.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Emergency Room Visit




Bill motioned to me from across the backyard with his left arm to come to him. I put down the rose bush that I was transplanting and walked towards him over the thick mat of grass. As I got closer to him I saw he was holding his right arm. I asked “What?” He said that the neighbor’s dog had bitten him. He removed his hand and I could see the dog’s teeth puncture marks and blood on Bill’s arm. He said he was near the fence that divides our acre of backyard from our neighbor’s backyard. Our neighbor had put the fence in to keep his dogs in his backyard. He said he was standing by the fence when the neighbor's black Lab lunged at him and caught him by his sweater and sank his teeth into Bill's arm. Both Bill and I are veterans and use the Veterans Medical Association Center in Wilmington for our health care. The VAMC is located 93 miles from us. Bill called the local VAMC outpatient clinic in Georgetown, and they advised him to go to the emergency room at the VAMC in Wilmington or the closest hospital. We decided not to go to the closest hospital because Bill would be liable for the full cost of his emergency room visit. On January 3rd I passed a kidney stone. I didn’t know what was happening at that time. I called the VAMC and they advised me to go to their emergency room in Wilmington. I did not go because I thought I was near death. I went to the Beebe Hospital emergency room. They identified that I was passing a kidney stone and treated my condition in an efficient manner. Two weeks latter I received a bill for almost $4,000. The VAMC advised me that I would be liable for that bill because I “chose” to go to that emergency room. Eventually, the VAMC did pay 70% of the costs after a three month review. Knowing what happened when I visited a local emergency room, we didn’t want to go through that ordeal again. Thus, we took off this morning for the Wilmington VAMC emergency room. We arrived in Wilmington at approximately 10:45 AM. Then we proceeded to wait until 6:20 PM until Bill was finally treated for his wounds. Apparently, Bill, with his dog bite, was low man on the totem pole for emergency room procedure. He said that other patients arrived after he did and were considered more at risk and were given preferential treatment because of the seriousness of their condition. Finally, Bill asked the nurse practitioner if he could sign a release form without being treated. He told her “I’ll just go home and die.” Finally, this got their attention. Thus, almost 8 hours after arriving at the emergency room he was treated. The nurse cleaned his would. He was given a tetanus shot, and a prescription for antibiotics. We were both exhausted. This is another example of the abysmal state of health care in this county today. The VA care is great once you get treated. However, there is a shortage of doctors and accessibility to the VA facilities. Today was torture.

Ron Imbibes

In my never ending battle against dementia in my old age, here I am imbibing at the Tokyo Steak House in Lewes on last night. Kobe beef and an Appletini .


Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Dinner at the Tokyo Steak House



The neighbors and I gathered for a fun dinner at the Tokoyo Steakhouse in Lewes Delaware tonight. We're all retirees from other states. Bob and Barbara are from New Jersey. Rich and Mary are from Florida. Bob and Josie are from New York. Jane and Tom are from Pennsylvania. Ray and Frances are also from Pennsylvania. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have such good neighbors. That was not the case in Pennsylvania. Of course you cannot chose your neighbors, it's the luck of the draw. Well, this time I got very lucky. Pictured in the You Tube video are my house guests for the weekend, Jack and Judy. Their son is getting married this weekend on the beach in Lewes and their children and grandchildren have taken over their house. They are welcome guests in my home this weekend. I can now repay their kindness to me when they let me stay in their home when my house was being built in early 2006. Pictured in the video is Judy and Jack attempting to catch a flying shrimp from the grill. Right before I took this video, Igor (yes, that was his name - his father was Russian and his mother Asian) flipped a shrimp at me and I caught it! That was a first. I guess that proves I have a big mouth. Even though I work part-time, I consider myself "retired." To me, this is what retirement is all about. Enjoying a night out with friends. Even better, these friends are my neighbors. It just doesn't get any better than this.

House Guests




This weekend Bill and I are welcoming our first house guests. No, the house guests will not be the Determined Sparrow and his mate. Our house guests will be Jack and Judy, dear friends for a long time. Judy and I graduated from Downingtown High School in 1959. We renewed our friendship at a class reunion 10 years ago. When I was building my house in Delaware in 2006, Jack and Judy graciously offered me the use of their lovely house that is located right on the Rehoboth Bay in Lewes, Delaware. Jack and Judy told me that when they were building their house some years previously, friends of theirs had offered them the use of their house during its building process. They said how useful it was to be able to monitor the building of their house without the added expense of renting a hotel room each time they visited. They were spending the winter at their Florida condo and they told me I could use their house anytime time I wanted. What wonderful friends. I was so appreciative because it did help me a great deal during the building process of my house that I offered them the use of my house anytime they needed a place to stay. That time has come. Their son is getting married this weekend. Jack and Judy have seven children and numerous grandchildren, so it didn’t take long to fill up their house, as big as it is. I am so glad that we can offer our hospitality to such a wonderful couple and dear friends. When I built this house I specifically wanted a guest quarters. That’s why I took the option for a bonus room upstairs to this ranch house. My previous house in Pennsylvania was large but did not offer guest quarters. It was a Dutch Colonial house with four bedrooms. However, there were only two and a half bathrooms. There was one bathroom off the master bedroom (my room), another bathroom in the hallway for the other three second floor bedrooms. Downstairs there was another half bath. My partner occupied one of the bedrooms at the end of the hallway and used the second bathroom as his personal bathroom. Thus, if we had company, they either had to use my bathroom or my partner’s bathroom. We did not have good accommodations for company. That configuration was one that I definitely wanted to change when I built our new house in Delaware. Now we have a bonus room that has its own bedroom, bathroom and living room. This bonus room on the second floor affords privacy from the rest of the house for both guests and hosts. This works. Tonight Jack and Judy are going to join me and several of my neighbors for dinner at the Tokoyo Steak House in Lewes. What a great way to introduce my neighbors to my house guests! Tomorrow Jack and Judy “move in.” In the meantime, I’m still keeping a wary eye out for my uninvited guest, the Determined Sparrow.

Monday, May 19, 2008

St. Francis




St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals and the ecology, is in my yard. This weather beaten statue of St. Francis also had an honored place in my yard when I lived on seven acres of hilly wooded land in Pennsylvania. Many birds have perched on top of his cement head, while taking a brief rest from building a new nest or foraging for food for their new nestlings in their nest. When I moved to Delaware from Pennsylvania in 2006, I left many landscape structures behind for the new owners of the property. I built my house in 1981 in a clearing on that wooded Pennsylvania hillside (see the slide show on the upper left of this blog page). One of the first things I did was ask my father to build some more of his birdhouses for my new property. My father had built birdhouses for years and had much success in attracting bluebirds and other beneficial species of birds to his three acres of land nearby. Each year without fail, the house wrens would arrive from their winter quarters in the south and take up residence again in those same birdhouses. They did this for the 25 years that I lived on that property. When I sold my house, I didn’t want to disturb the landscape too much for the annual visit by the wrens and all the other birds that called my seven acres in East Brandywine Township, Pennsylvania home. However, one landscape item that I brought with me was my St. Francis statue. To me, it is a symbol of how I would welcome the many new Delaware birds that would call my one acre of land in Sussex County, Delaware home. If you’ve read my previous blogs, you know I’ve had some difficulty with a few determined house sparrows who insist on nesting in my four blue bird trail houses and my Purple Martin birdhouse. The sparrows are determined to take over all of my birdhouses. While I have empathy for the sparrow, my property is opened to all and not just one very aggressive species of bird. After several frustrating attempts by me to completely ban the sparrows from my property, I have set aside one blue bird box for the sparrows to nest. They’re building a nest in it now but their hearts are still on that one apartment in the Purple Martin house. I’ve tried cleaning out their nest only to see them rebuild it. I’ve left open the door to the bird house apartment. The Determined Sparrow built an even more elaborate nest, to protect its eggs from the elements, even though the birdhouse apartment had no front on it. Yesterday morning, after tearing out that nest, I filled the apartment with a plastic bag from Walmart. As soon as I left, Mr. Determined was up there checking out the new obstacle. His lady friend joined him a short time later. They spent most of the day up there, on the ledge, wondering what to do. Talking to each other in quick little chirps. They continued to build their nest in the blue bird house I set aside for them, but I could tell they really wanted The Penthouse apartment. This morning, after breakfast, I went out to see if they were building another nest in the Purple Martin house. The white plastic Walmart bag was still visibile in the hole to the apartment, blocking entry. I checked the blue bird house where they were building a nest. It appears that they have put more nesting material in there. I looked across the back yard; I saw a pair of blue birds sitting on the other blue bird house. The third blue bird house between these two houses was still empty. Apparently, this bird house is located in No Man’s Land. I suspect Mr. Determined Sparrow is only reluctantly building his nest in the remaining blue bird house. Thus, it appears that the birds that populate my backyard are living in harmony now. Robins, and Grackles roam the thick green grass in search of worms and grubs to feed their young ones located in some secret unknown placethat only they know. Once in a great while a Peregrine Falcon makes a screeching swoop down from the sky, hoping to get lucky and snag an unsuspecting bird in its sharp talons. However, I haven’t seen the falcon for several weeks now. Perhaps it has found an abundant food supply elsewhere to feed its young. I will continue to monitor my back yard to insure that all of the birds have a safe home, with the help of St. Francis.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Mortified




This morning I arose from my slumber at about 7 AM. As I sleepily stumbled into the kitchen, my partner tells me “The Inn called.” I thought “who isn’t coming in today?” I work two days a week (Monday and Thursday nights) and every other weekend, once during the day and once during the evening, in order to give the two fulltime front desk clerks at least one weekend a month off. Sometimes I’m called in on short notice to fill in for one of the other front desk clerks due to illness or another different emergency. This morning I assumed I got the call to come in and fill in for someone. I called my voice mail. The owner of the Inn left me the message “Where are you?” Quickly, I look to my calendar. Yep! I was due in today! How did that happen? I thought I had a fail safe method for recording the times I was due in for work. I checked the copy of the schedule the manager gives me. I keep that on top of my bedroom bureau where I conduct almost all of my business. There it was in black and white. “Ron – Sunday morning, May 18th". Quickly, I pick up the phone and called the owner. I told him it was my mistake and that I would be in as soon as I got dressed. He told me the manager was covering for me until I got in. Now I’m really embarrassed. The manager’s wife recently had a baby and this was the first week home for mother and child and husband. Ron, the OLD MAN, changed those plans today. Faster than Clark Kent changed into his Superman costume, I was dressed and ready to shoot out the door. I didn’t have breakfast, didn’t do my morning exercises, nor did I take my fiber medicine. I will be off track all day, that’s for sure. Route 1 traffic was light. The morning mist was lifting from New Road. I pull into the parking lot of the Inn. I gather myself and go around to the front door. Walking through the lobby and down the corridor to the front desk I see the owner and the manager waiting for me with bemused looks on their faces. This is something they’ve never seen before. This is something I’ve never done before. In all my 60 plus years of work, I have never missed a schedule. Well, there are always Firsts. This was a very humbling experience for me. Now I will be oh so more tolerant of anyone else I know who oversleeps or misses the schedule completely as I did today. I accepted all responsibility and told them I just missed it. I had even brought in my wall calendar and schedule to show them I had not marked the shift on my calendar. No excuse. Later, as I was talking to the head housekeeper, she told me that whenever she is late her whole day is not right. That was the way I felt all day, off track. To put it simply, I was mortified.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

One Determined Sparrow




There has been a compromise of sorts between me and the Determined Sparrow. As soon as I would bring down the pole to the Purple Martin house (a tricky operation, lowering two metal poles without slicing a finger off if one of the poles slips), and tearing out the beginnings of the sparrow nest, the Determined Sparrow would wait until I put the pole back and he would again begin building his nest. He wasted no time. Not a Shy One, this sparrow. After the last nest clean out, I left the door to the apartment opened. The Purple Martin birdhouse has six apartments, two on the bottom and one on the top on the side facing east. On the other side (west), two apartments on the top and one on the bottom. Mr. Determined Sparrow preferred the one on the bottom facing west. I raised the pole again and went to the shed to observe what Mr. Determined would do now. He shot right up into that now garage door opened apartment. He looked up and down and around and then sat there, contemplating his next move. His mate joined him. Both of them sat there in the apartment without a front. Today was very windy. Any nesting placed in the apartment without a front would surely blow away. For most of the day, these two would flit back and forth between that open apartment and the post of an old blue bird house. I left them to do some yard work. As the sun was setting I heard a perky “Chirp! Chirp!” What do my eyes see? I see a little sparrow head peaking out of the blue bird house, looking in my direction, as if to acknowledge that he has accepted my compromise. A few minutes later, I saw a pair of bluebirds sitting on top of the blue bird house across the way from the sparrows' new home. Maybe we all can live together after all. Just not in the Purple Martin house.

Bill Chases Barbara



To take a lighthearted new direction from my recent blog postings, I am posting this video I took about a week ago of my partner Bill playing a joke on our neighbor Barbara. He waited until she took a turn around her and then fell in behind her, walking closely. Look carefully and you'll see Barbara coming around the turn, waving at me taking her video, realizing that Bill is right behind her. Thank goodness she didn't fall off the mower! Now that would have been a video.
As a follow-up to the sparrow drama, this morning my Determined Sparrow was again rebuilding his nest in the Purple Martin house. I, again, tore it out. After I got back from breakfast at Zorba's Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach with Bill, I looked out my sun room window and saw that my Determined Sparrow was now building his nest in one of the blue bird boxes. In fact, it was the box that I found five dead sparrows last week. They had probably died from the heavy rains of the nor'easter. I decided to compromise and let the sparrow build his nest. A few minutes later I saw two sparrows on the landing at the Purple Martin house making whoopee. Obviously time was of the essence. Later, I checked the blue bird house and discovered that the sparrow's nest was almost finished. I will monitor the progress of the nesting sparrows and keep the readers of this blog informed. Again, I have to thank "Happy in Nevada" for her thoughtful suggestion to "make room for all" in my backyard. Thank you Diane.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Eviction Day




Pulling the curtains back from my bedroom window this morning, I could see the sparrow fly up to the Purple Martin house with a couple of strands of straw in its beak. The little bird was determined to make a nest on the southern side of the multi apartment birdhouse. The previous two days I had taken out the sparrow’s nesting material only to see it immediaely fly back to the opening with more dried grass and stalks of small weeds. The Purple Martins swirled about its head, chattering in protest, but the little bird continued building its nest. The determined sparrow was not to be deterred even though it was out numbered. However, I had made my mind up to evict all the sparrows in my birdhouses today, especially the Purple Martin birdhouse which is a communal bird house and not conjunctive to sharing their apartment complex with an outsider like the sparrow. In the morning mist, with a light rain falling, I checked the other four bird boxes that border the acre of land behind my house. Two of the bird boxes had full nests. Both nests contained the brown spotted eggs of the sparrow. Another bird box had the beginnings of a sparrow nest. The fourth bird box, the original bird box that the Birdman had tossed nest and eggs out last Monday, continued to be empty. Perhaps the original occupant of that bird box gave up building its nest in that bird box. Yesterday and early this morning, I saw a pair of blue birds sitting on top of the bird box. Perhaps they were considering making a nest and raising their young. I put on my gloves, and pulled the sparrow’s nests out of both bird boxes, being careful not to break the eggs. Why, I don’t know. My actions seemed contradictory since I was destroying the sparrow's nests. Frank, the Birdman, said to throw the eggs in the brush “for the snakes to eat.” If there were baby birds in the bird boxes, I would have left them alone. After cleaning out the bird boxes I went back inside my house to observe. It didn’t take long until the sparrows came back to the empty bird boxes. I left the doors to the boxes opened, so they would not have the opportunity build new nests. In the misty rain, the sparrows perched on top of the boxes, and hopped down to the now open front of the box to look in and wonder in puzzlement what happened to their nest. I left the fronts of those boxes open the rest of the day. Later in the day, when the rain had stopped, I observed two blue birds dive bombing a furious sparrow who was now trying to make a nest in the original bird box. I immediately went out to that bird box at the far end of my yard. Upon my approach, the sparrow the blue birds flew away. I opened the front and saw the beginnings of a new sparrow nest of straw and dried grass. I tore it out and tossed it aside. I closed the front of the box, and went to the other bird boxes and also closed the fronts. I looked up to the Purple Martin bird house. The Purple Martins were sitting on the ledges outside their apartment bird house, contentedly chattering away. I did not see the sparrow of yesterday who was so furiously determined to build its nest in the Purple Martin house. Maybe they got the message. They are not welcomed in this neighborhood. They will have to go elsewhere to make their nests and raise their young. I came to this conclusion after reading about sparrows and their aggressive nesting habits. Sparrows are not native to the North American continent. One story has it that an Englishman brought over sparrows, along with non-natives birds like the European Starling, in the 19th century to New York City. His purpose was to introduce as many bird species to America as were mentioned in William Shakespeare’s plays. Another story has it that these non native birds were introduced to this continent to control certain insect pests. Of course what happened was the Law of Unintended Consequences. There are millions and millions of sparrows in the North American continent today. Their aggressive nesting habits have almost wiped out the less aggressive American blue bird. I think what really convinced me was the fact that sometimes the sparrow will even kill the bluebird and will build its nest over the top of the still live baby blue birds in their nest, thus killing them. As harsh as it may seem, I made a decision that my acre of land will be a home to the native American species such as the Purple Martin, Barn Swallow and American blue bird. Sparrows, starlings and other non native American species can come to visit, but the blue bird houses that I installed will only be a home for blue birds. The Purple Martin bird house will only be a home for Purple Martins. The gourds that I have hanging from the Purple Martin house will only be a home for Barn Swallows. I equate the sparrow’s aggressive behavior in taking over in the same league as the European explorers who entered the North American continent over 500 years ago and took over from the native Americans. An even more extreme example would be like a biker gang arriving in the development where I live and taking over my house by force just because they are stronger than me. While I believe everyone and everything deserves to live, I do believe there are limits as to where they will live and how much their aggressive behavior is rewarded. On my land I am creating a habitat for certain native American birds. The sparrows can rebuild their nest as many times as they want. In the end, I will prevail. I am bigger. Those birdhouses will either house blue birds or they will be empty. I will be a good landlord. The Birdman would be pleased.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Betty and Ike




Betty Louise Hadfield was born on December 24, 1924, in the front bedroom of the small house on Pennsylvania Avenue in Downingtown, PA. She was the youngest of five children of George Lincoln Hadfield and his wife Ethel Darlington Hickman. Her mother died almost two years later (December 12, 1925) from complications of childbirth. She had two sisters and two brothers. Betty had a lonely childhood since her sisters were the two oldest children and closer to each other than Betty. Her brothers were the next two oldest children and were also closer to each other than little Betty. Betty’s father remarried twice. The second marriage produced another daughter who was now the youngest in the Hadfield household. Growing up during the Depression was not easy. Many days Betty went hungry. She would rush home from school when lunch period arrived because she was embarrassed she had nothing to eat. There wasn’t a need for Weight Watchers during this period of American history. However, there came a day when Betty was 16 years old that changed her life. She had a double date with her best girlfriend Edie Lemon. Edie was dating a young man who came to Pennsylvania with his family when he was 10 years old from the hills of western North Carolina (read “hillbilly”). Betty was dating Charlie Hank. As the jalopy pulled up to the curb, Betty took one look at the driver, Edie’s date, and told Edie to “get in the back.” Thus began one of the greatest love stories of my life. My mom met my dad. She was beautiful. He didn’t have a chance.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mom




Mom was sitting in her usual chair when I made an unannounced visit to her this past Saturday. I didn't tell her I was coming because she would just worry. I find it’s better to just walk in and say “Hi Mom!” just as I did for years when I lived one road across from her home in Pennsylvania. She had a new haircut and fresh perm. Molly, her 14 year old calico cat, was languorously stretched out on the back of the couch facing my Mother. The TV was on as usual. She didn’t turn it off. She never does. It’s something I find older people do, they’re so used to having TV as company; they don’t think to turn it off when they get real company. That’s alright with me. It’s my Mom. She’s 84 years old now. Widowed since August 22, 2000 when my father died of lung cancer after a long illness. She lives with my younger brother Isaac in the same modest ranch house that was built in 1958. Isaac is the sibling who takes care of Mom. I have a room set aside for her as does my other brother John, who lives in South Carolina. However, she prefers to remain where she spent many happy years with Pop, her husband of 60 years. Mom, Isaac, Molly and Molly's brother Rusty, all call home the white stucco house that sits on three acres of East Brandywine Township highly taxed land. I brought along the gossip magazines I had accumulated since my last visit. Mom loves the National Enquirer just as much as her son. Enquiring minds want to know. My partner Bill also contributed his accumulation of Reader’s Digest magazines. We are a family that recycles. We couldn’t stay too long. It is a 2 ½ drive from Delaware to Pennsylvania and another 2 ½ drive back. I had hoped to also visit a friend and see his newly remodeled kitchen. Also on tap was a visit to Wegmans supermarket. A visit to Pennsylvania is not complete unless we stock up on the Wegmans goodies. We have lunch at their Asian buffet bar. It is a gastronomic adventure not to be missed. Slower Lower Delaware knows nothing like it, to my great regret. After a short visit we were on our way but not before giving Mom a big hug. Our family was never into hugs, but now as I’ve gotten older I have found the value of hugs. I only have one Mom. I have to let her know I love her. See you next month Mom.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Empty Bird Box


“You see these eggs? They’re brown. They’re no good.” He then threw the eggs across the gravel road that borders my property, into the newly planted corn field. “See this nest? It’s a sparrow’s nest. You don’t want this nest. They’re trash. I shoot sparrows. They’re not a native bird.” He then tore out the carefully constructed nesting material and also tossed it across the road towards the same area where the broken eggs laid in the corn field. He saw the look on my face. I was dumbfounded. First, he destroyed a living thing, if a bird’s nest could be called living. Also, he was presumptuous in deciding for me what birds are allowed on my property in my birdhouses. His name is Frank. Frank the Birdman. I had recently contracted with him to install a Purple Martin house on my open acre of land behind my house. I called him in today because the nor’easter of yesterday had permanently tilted the long pole which held the birdhouse he installed two weeks ago. I wanted him to fix it. I also arranged for a delivery of mulch. He looked at me and said “Don’t you want to be a good landlord to the right birds?” Of course I did want bluebirds in the four bluebird houses that lined my back yard. However, last year and this year the sparrows had taken over. It is not in my nature to destroy a living thing. I become upset whenever I see the chicken trucks that daily haul thousands of chickens to slaughter in this area of Delaware where I live. Frank turned to look at my other bluebird houses. I knew one at the other end of my property had birds ready to come out. I was trimming the grass around the base of the birdhouse on Sunday and I heard the baby birds making a noisy racket. They were ready to come out any day. He asked if there were sparrows in that bird box. I didn’t answer except to say “I don’t want to bother baby birds.” He looked at me like I just stepped off a space ship. I could surmise what he was thinking: “Oh, one of those bleeding hearts.” He told me that sparrows and starlings are not native to this country and are driving out the native species. He said I needed to see a dead bluebird on her nest then perhaps I would change my mind. I changed the subject. I gave him his check for the mulch delivery. He said he would be back later in the afternoon to fix the Purple Martin House bird pole. After he left, I checked the bluebird house that housed the baby sparrows. First, I tapped on the box. No sound. Then I ever so slowly opened the front of the box. Five baby sparrows were revealed to me. They were motionless. I thought perhaps they were taking a nap. But I knew better. Baby birds, when they’re about to leave the nest, make lot of noise because they’re hungry and anxious to go. I closed the door and went back to my shed to do some chores. I couldn't get the baby birds off of my mind. I looked back at the bird house to see if the parents came back. They were there, sitting on top of the bird box. Still, there was no cacophony of noise from the inside the bird box. Curious, I went back and again slowly opened the front door to the bird box so as not to disturb the baby birds inside. They were in the same position. I looked closely to see if they were breathing. I could not detect if they were breathing. One baby bird was at the top with it mouth partly opened. I got a small stick and gently pressed it. It did not move. Then I gently lifted the small frame of the baby bird. Still no movement. Lifting the bird, I saw four other smaller baby birds below in the nesting. They did not move either. The nest had a foul damp smell. They were all dead. They probably died by drowning yesterday during the nor’easter. Frank the Birdman would be pleased.

After the Storm










The winds have died down, the rain has ended. The sun burns brightly in the clear blue morning sky. It is the dawn of a new day. Not only for this speck of land that I live on in coastal Delaware but in my life as well. A nor'easter blew in from the Atlantic Ocean early Sunday night and lingered all day Monday. Wind gusts up to 50 MPH tore the new green leaves off of trees. Roads in low lying area were flooded. Sporadic power outages testified to the relentless fury of the winds. Yesterday I was scheduled to work the evening shift at the Inn in Lewes. I drove the mile down the rain swept Route 1, buffeted by the high winds. Turning on New Road, I had to slow down to drive through the portion of New Road that was flooded by the Rehoboth Canal. Arriving at the Inn, I made sure to park where there was little chance of a tree falling on my car. The few guests in the hotel took the bad weather in stride. They were appreciative they had shelter from the storm. We joked about the fact that the computer local weather had forecasted “sprinkles” for the day. After checking in one walk-in couple from the United Kingdom (they were on their way to Montchanin, Delaware), the night was quiet. I had time to reflect on the storm and its aftermath of last Sunday night at the Purple Parrot. I do believe things happen for a reason. Sometimes the reason is not evident. However, with time the reason or reasons come into focus. When one is treated with such casual disrespect as I was over a period of time, sooner or later a reaction is going to happen. The fact that I couldn’t resolve this conflict in a more respectful manner to my friend is my fault. My personality is such that it doesn’t fit into the derisive, caustic, cutting, and arrogant personality of my former friend. Since I’ve retired and moved to Delaware I have attempted to “fit in” groups, which I have avoided all my life. For most of my life, starting with my childhood years, I have been a loner. Along the way I have made a few friends. My three best friends from my school days are still my very good friends. Although we lost touch for a number of years after school, we all reunited in person or through e-mail during the past ten years. These friends are my true friends. They understand me as I understand them. That is the definition of a true friend. Someone who accepts you as you are, warts and all. Someone who doesn’t accuse you of being a drunk because you take offense to the disrespectful way you are being treated by your so called friend. A true friend is one who values all the shades of your personality and truly cares about you. In return you keep their friendship because you care about them. A true friend seeks the cause of your anger rather than to justify their own arrogance by their baseless assumption you must be drunk or have “issues.” Since moving to Delaware, I was with a group of friends who regularly went out Wednesday night to different restaurants. One was a longtime friend from my Army days back in the 60’s. He and his partner would take out another older friend of theirs (85 years old), “just to get him out of the house.” Unfortunately, this older man has an incurable case of logorrhea. Dining out with this person, with his affliction, was very difficult. He had an inability to listen to anyone. It got to be a joke, that whoever sat opposite him would be “blasted” non-stop with his current diatribe, often repeated. That also got to be a joke as to how many times we would hear the same story. Dining out with this man was not a pleasant experience. Last winter, after a particularly rude action by him, I decided to no longer dine out with this group. I wasn’t missed. Because I didn’t willingly subject myself to his torrent of endless words, he had long since ignored my presence. What was the point? We also had a Saturday morning breakfast group at which this person would attend. The other members of the group would jockey for a position so they would not sit opposite him. Though I had stopped attending the Wednesday night dinners, I continued to attend the Saturday morning breakfasts. However, there came a time when I had to end that also. When it gets to the point where you might as well be invisible, it is time to say “this isn’t working.” Thus I started another “night out.” I started to meet another friend, who had recently suffered the breakup of a long term relationship, at the Purple Parrot restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. We would meet almost every Sunday night. Occasionally other friends would join us. I recognized immediately that my friend had a personality that I didn’t feel comfortable with. Loud, caustic, and dismissive; he had a personality that I instantly found uncomfortable. However, I was willing to accept these personality characteristics, thinking I could change. That was my mistake. My discomfort would grow whenever my comments were dismissed airily as ill informed or non-consequential. From a matter as small as dismissing my claim that it was my pen that was with the restaurant check and not the restaurant’s pen to that it was my fault that I wasn’t served until half an hour after all the others at the table. I let my anger build up until it exploded in frustration. I tried to make it work. It didn’t. Thinking about my situation last night, I came to the conclusion that it looks pretty good. I still have my true friends, who know and accept me as I am. I have my passions, which are genealogy, photography, and gardening. I have a beautiful home and a partner who loves and respects me. Even though we have our differences from time to time, we know one another and still love each other, flaws and all. From most of my former friends, I have almost always taken something positive. From this friendship that is now lost, I have also taken something positive. He has shown me the therapeutic value of keeping a daily journal of my feelings, observations, and journey through life. It really is excellent therapy to write it all down. For that I give him thanks.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday Morning Rain








Rivulets of rains slowly slide down the window at my left shoulder. The wind driven rain beats against the side of my house, as if seeking shelter inside. The clouds of Sunday have morphed into the wind and rain of Monday. As I sit at my computer, composing this journal, I think of how fortunate I am to have a safe and secure home that shields me from the elements outside. All my life I have toiled, struggled and sacrificed to arrive at this time to have this oasis that is my home. With this thought in mind, I am not heedless to those who are not as fortunate as I am. Critters such as stray dogs and cats, who do not have a warm and dry home to protect them from the cold, wind and rain, and must seek shelter where ever they can. Perhaps they gained entrance in an abandoned building through a broken window or unlocked door. There they sit cuddled into a fur ball patiently waiting for the storm to pass. Perhaps they find shelter near a dumpster with overflow trash. There, under wet cardboard boxes, they have partial shelter from the fury of the wind and rain. For those living creatures I have a profound sense of empathy. I wish I could save them all. I also think of those who are our best and brightest who are serving this country in Iraq and Iran under extreme weather conditions. I vowed not to make political statements when I began this journal, but I do want to make the reader know I am mindful of the sacrifice these brave and loyal Americans are making for us so we can live in our safe and comfortable homes. When I started this journal I made myself a promise that I would have a personal journal that is unique to me. Each of us is unique. Each of us has value. We all have a story to tell that may or may not be of interest to someone else. However, it is important that I record my thoughts, experiences, hopes and dreams in a format that perhaps will be of value to someone in the future. To leave a legacy. One thinks of such things at this time of life. Life waits for the answer, but the question is why? We all have a journey that to take in this existence called life. Some of us are more fortunate that others in the circumstances of our life. For that I will always be thankful.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Cloudy Day




The clouds rolled in today. Gray and dreary. Temperature falling. Wind picking up. I missed my Sunday night outing at the Purple Parrot with friends. A chill in the air. The realization that I wasn't wanted in the group. Painful but probably true. Again, that incurable naivete of mine. The day is ending. Rain is beginning to tap on my window. Life goes on. The sun will shine again.

Pennsylvania Visit Part 1










Morning daylight revealed blue gray clouds heavy with rain on the far horizon viewed from my great room's wall of windows. This Saturday morning Bill and I planned to visit Downingtown, PA, near our former home in East Brandywine Township. As much as we would like to visit our old home, we could not because the new owner and his family now occupy the house and grounds we so lovingly developed, nurtured and cared for from 1976 to November 17, 2006, the date we settled on the sale. We would ride past and longingly look up the lane which we had driven up so often. We will always miss our former home. Our trip to Pennsylvania was fourfold this morning. We make our obligatory Mother's Day visit to Mom. Also, a visit to Wegmans supermarket would be in order to stock up on some of my favorite items from that outstanding establishment. There is nothing like Wegmans in Slower Lower Delaware, which is very sad. The lack of a Wegmans is perhaps my biggest loss after moving to Sussex County, Delaware. This trip I had also planned to visit an old friend and his wife who recently remodeled their kitchen. We left early, around 8:45 AM. The trip to Pennsylvania takes approximately 2 ½ hours, depending on the traffic. Shortly after the wheels of my Subaru Forester turned on Route 1 north, a sprinkling of raindrops fell on my car windows, creating rivulets through the dust on the car window shield. Road spray muck on my car would definitely be a factor on this trip. I set my cruise control to 60 MPH, and headed north on Rt. 1. As we barreled north, Bill and I checked the gradually rising price of gas at the many gas stations that lined the highway. We pulled in at a Valero gas station and I filled up my half empty gas tank at $3.69 per gallon. The total bill for a half a tank of gas was $30.02. That fact will affect the number of trips to we make to Pennsylvania in the future. We arrived unannounced at my Mom’s place. My brother Isaac was in his workshop. He retired in April from R. V. Industries. Isaac and I sometimes have had a contentious relationship as brothers are wont to do, so I never know what kind of greeting, if any, I will receive from my younger brother. This morning he greeted my surprise visit with a relaxed smile. I could tell immediately that retirement is agreeing with him. Isaac is my brother and I know him as well as I know anyone. Like me, he gives his all at his workplace but, as the years have accumulated, his body has gotten older and he tires more easily. He appreciates his new found freedom, which is the wonderful gift of retirement. He was more relaxed since the last time I saw him. The strain has left his face. He told me with embarrassed pride how the plant, where he works, had closed down half a day to acknowledge and honor his retirement. He didn’t expect such a fuss to be made over his retirement. He was uncomfortable telling me about it but I could tell he how proud and grateful he was that all his years of hard work was acknowledged and appreciated. He ask me to go into the house and look at the flyer his company had made, that was on the refrigerator door, proclaiming his retirement. I was so proud of my brother. Like many of us, he has had a difficult life. He has endured job loss, a divorce, health problems and the loss of his good friends through death. He loves to work with wood in his workshop in peace and solitude. He has that now. I wish him many years of happiness in his retirement.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Live While You're Alive


We all need to read this one over and over until it becomes part of who we are!

HOW TO STAY YOUNG

1. Try everything twice. On Madam's tombstone (of Waylon and Madam) she said she wanted this epitaph: ' Tried everything twice...loved it both times!'

2. Keep only cheerful friends. The grouches pull you down. (Keep this in mind if you are one of those grouches.)

3. Keep learning: Learn more about the computer, crafts, gardening, whatever. Never let the brain get idle. 'An idle mind is the devil's workshop.' And the devil's name is Alzheimer's!

4. Enjoy the simple things.

5. Laugh often, long and loud. Laugh until you gasp for breath... And if you have a friend who makes you laugh, spend lots and lots of time with him and/or her.

6. Disappointments happen: Endure, grieve, and move on. The only person who is with us our entire life, is ourselves. LIVE while you are alive.

7. Surround yourself with what you love: Whether it's family, pets, keepsakes, music, plants, hobbies, whatever. Remember: Your home is your refuge.

8. Cherish your health: If it is good, preserve it. If it is unstable, improve it. If it is beyond what you can improve, get help. You are worth it!

9. Don't take guilt trips. Take a trip to the mall, even to the next county, to a foreign country, but NOT to where the guilt is.

10. Tell the people you love that you love them, at every opportunity.

11. Forgive now those who disappoint you and move on. They know not what they do.

Lost time can never be found! So make sure . you find time to love unconditionally.

Rain in Delaware

The rains arrived this morning. I listened to the comforting sounds of the rain glancing off of my skylights in the sun room. I opened my front door, leaving only the glass door to protect me from the rain. The brightly colored flowers that lined the walkway to my front door proudly showed me their freshly washed faces. Thus another new day retired in Delaware. I worked last night at the Inn. I don’t have to go back to work until Monday night. I have the whole weekend to luxuriate in the rain, sun or whatever Mother Nature delivers to my home on Delaware coast. I’m thankful that we’re getting rain this year. Last year we had a drought in this area of southern Delaware. It was so sad to watch the cornfields wither and die because of the lack of rain. So far this year, the unpredictable forces of nature have been kinder to the farmers' fields of grain in Sussex County. From my sunroom vantage I could see a large flatbed truck hauling stacked crates of chickens to their doom this early morning. While I am always sad to see these poor creatures hauled off to their death, I’m sadden more that I have come to accept the loss of a friendship. We go though life, making friends and losing friends. Sometimes friends are lost when we move to a new area of the country. Other times friends are lost because of death. But sometimes, there is a decision to part ways with a former friend because of incompatibility. The reason for the incompatibility is almost always a personality clash based on real or perceived disrespect of the one friend towards the other. Generally, when the first warning signs appear of disrespect. The friend who is being disrespected doesn’t want to believe what is happening. However, over a period of time the disrespect becomes more blatant and hurtful until, eventually, angry words are hurled. In the past I have brought his dismissive use of words directed at me to his attention and that I didn't appreciate it. His response was “get over it!” Thus, dismissing my feelings and very real concerns I had for the continuation of our friendship. My mistake was that I chose to overlook and rationalize what I now know in retrospect, was a serious problem underlying our friendship. I had several discussions by e-mail and one by phone that I didn’t appreciate being talked to in such a manner. All to no avail. Thus the stage was set for Sunday night at a local eatery when my former friend was in high form out in public and my social inhibitions were lessoned by a couple of martinis. It was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back” incident that provoked my anger. My meal arrived half an hour late, after the others had finished eating. Under normal circumstances (without the alcohol) I would have been angry. However, I was having a good time and wasn’t really concerned. Someone (not me) mentioned that I had not received my meal. Someone else inquired to another waiter (not our original waiter) as to what happened to my order. The waiter left for the kitchen. He came back and said something to the order “Oh, I don’t know what they’re doing out there in that kitchen!” He told me my order would be out shortly. Another 10 or 15 minutes passes. Then the order arrives. There was raw bacon on top of my, now cold hamburger. At least the French fries were hot. This was small consolation. No apologies from the new waiter. I did not see the original waiter again. Jokes were made around the table that they would watch me eat. Again, I took it all in stride. I wasn’t really bothered. Blame it on the alcohol. Then, my “friend” starts into a long explanation as to how it is not the waiter’s fault that I got my meal so late. Excuses were made that the waiter was new and the place very busy. That may have been so. My friend reminded everyone that he was once a waiter and they can’t be blamed for mistakes. I casually said “Bullshit. He made a mistake.” Now my friend launches into an impassioned and showboat defense of the poor waiter. For whose benefit was this "performance?" The waiter or those around us? I told my friend that I would not punish the waiter and in fact was not even mad at him. I understood that “things” happen. Yet, my friend, in his typical “I am always right” arrogance continued his defense of the waiter and hurls a “get over it” to me. Those were the words that set me off. I responded “Bullshit! The waiter made a mistake! Say it slow, the waiter made a mistake. It wasn’t my fault. The waiter made a mistake!” My “friend” gives me a deer in the headlights look and says in a voice like one would talk to a child or a dog “Now Ron” thus further fueling my anger. I said to him “Wayne, you too can be wrong you know.” Now my friend was beside himself because he was embarrassed at my outburst at a table full of his friends and onlookers nearby, where just minutes before he was in his full glory. As is typical with this him, it was more about him being embarrassed, than what he said to cause my anger. Awkwardly, our party of six left the restaurant. Since I rode with him to the restaurant, I now faced the uncomfortable prospect of riding back to his place with him, where my car was parked a short drive from my home. I attempted to apologize but he would have none of it. He walked ahead of me and once we got into his car he turned up his CD player to a defending volume. Nothing more was said during the ride to his place. I got into my car and made the short drive to my home. I had heard nothing until yesterday I read a posting in his blog. In a blog titled “Sunday” A Soaring Beginning; a Crash and Burn Ending” he states “What happened? I am not sure.” He wants to blame it on the alcohol but also makes sure the reader knows “but not by me”, thus absolving himself of any responsibility. He states “Perhaps when enough alcohol is consumed one’s true feelings surface. Ugly, hurtful words spoken –or screamed – in my direction. Friends don’t do that unless there is some underlying unresolved issue that has to be addressed and sorted out.” His assessment of the situation was correct. There was an unresolved issue, his thoughtless and dismissive words directed at me. His arrogance is such that he doesn’t even realize what he has done. He made another statement in his blog which has proved to be true. He said “Something died.” Yes, it was our friendship, such as it was, that died. He continues on in his blog, giving an example of how he misused a word before with another friend who took offense. He stated it wasn't resolved until "I finally internalized her translation and she understood mine”. Perhaps I did not have time for his translation of what “get over it” meant when I stated the obvious truth that the waiter made a mistake. In Wayne’s World, no one is permitted to have an opinion except Wayne. Then, to add insult to injury, one of his enablers leaves a comment on his blog that said “seems to me that you have to find the root of this performance, talk it out together and then decide if you think the friendship can be a positive in both your lives.” Note the derisive term “performance” and the singular use of the word “you”. No consideration of what caused the outburst or the offended party (me.) The person leaving the blog note goes on to say “Bottom line is this is NOT about you. It’s about this person’s issues.” Now here is a comment made from a person who does not know me nor was there to witness the event, or “performance”, to use his sarcastic term. This is a classic case of enablement. The real bottom line is that I will decide who my friends are and who isn’t. I have decided to move on. My friend has many good qualities and, at times, is a lot of fun to be with because of his wit and humor. Unfortunately, our personalities do not mesh and it would be best for both of us if I decided to move on. As with most of the things that have happened in my life, I have learned and grown from this experience. I wish my former friend the best. I hope he finds that happiness he is seeking.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Those Who Didn't Make It



Don S., Kenny V., Joe M., Alice K., Linda T., Jerry L., Bob S.. Those are just a few of the friends, former classmates, co-workers and lovers who did not reach the retirement age of 65. Actually, none of them even reached the early retirement age of 62 years. Don S. was only 56 years when he died in 1997. We were the best of friends during our Commercial Course days in high school. Ours was a friendly competition to see who could get the best score in bookkeeping. Don usually won. Kenny died in Vietnam. I found out that Kenny died when I attended my first class reunion, which was the 20th. I felt guilty that he died. Not because he died in Vietnam but because Kenny was the first person I had a fist fight with. We were in 7th grade waiting in line to go into Mrs. Roger’s science class. He shoved me (Kenny was a bully). I shoved back. Next thing we were both rolling on the floor, thrashing about with elbows flying. I don’t think either one of us landed a blow. We both ended up in the principal’s office, sweaty, disheveled and embarrassed. I don’t believe we ever spoke again during our remaining high school years. Yet, I still felt guilty when I heard that he died. Kenny was only 24 years old. Joe was another friendly rival. Joe and I were similar in appearance and also had a friendly competition. Our competition was different than the one Don S. and I had. Joe and I used to frequent the Westbury Bar, a gay bar in center city Philadelphia. We would compete to meet the same guys in the bar. I usually won this “competition”, much to Joe’s chagrin. Joe died in 1992 of AIDS related causes. I met Alice when she arrived in the personnel department of Girard Bank to escort me to my new place of employment in the trust department. Alice was the secretary of the head of the trust department. When I first saw her smile I knew she was someone I would be friends with. Alice was warm and friendly and even more naïve than me. She had a genuineness about her that is rare. We shared many bus rides to our homes in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia. We bowled together and our team even won the championship in 1969. We went to lunch and shared our life’s frustrations and joys together. Alice and I laughed a lot. She was like the sister I never had. Alice killed herself in June of 1989. She was in her adopted daughter’s bedroom when she put a gun in her mouth and blew her brains out. I will never forget Alice. About a week before she committed suicide, she called me at the new bank where I worked and left me a voice mail. She wanted to know if I could go to lunch with her. She wanted to discuss something with me. I was too busy to return her call. The next time I heard about her was a voice mail left by her husband telling me she had killed herself. I couldn’t believe it when I heard his message and, in a way, I still can’t believe it. Alice was 49 years old when she died, leaving a husband and two adopted Korean orphans behind in this world. Linda T. was my cousin. Like Alice, Linda was a sweet, beautiful and uncomplicated woman. She was open and friendly, almost to a fault. Like Alice and I, Linda was naïve in many ways about life. Linda never married. She lived at home with her mother and bachelor brother. Linda fought ovarian cancer for eight years. I lost count of how many times she lost her hair during her chemotherapy treatments. Linda was a naturally beautiful girl but the loss of her hair didn’t faze her. She would always say “But Ronnie, when the treatments end I get all new hair!” That’s the way Linda was. She always had a smile on her face. I saw her two weeks before her death. She was at home wheeling around her intravenous feeder. She would go about the house as if she was perfectly healthy pushing that intravenous feeder. The last thing I heard her say was a warning to another member of the household that if he didn’t stop drinking she would come back to haunt him. Linda Lee T. died in 1998. She was only 48 years old. Jerry L. was another classmate of mine from high school. Although we didn’t have any classes together, Jerry was one of those rare guys, friendly to everyone. In high school, where social status is so important to many students and cliques abound, Jerry didn’t follow those rules. Although he was a football jock and could have easily limited himself to that clique, he was friendly to me. The last time I saw Jerry was at our 25th class reunion. He had recently lost his job through a layoff and was dejected. He didn’t want to attend the reunion because he was embarrassed he didn’t have a job. His many friends talked him into going to the reunion anyway and we all had a good time getting reacquainted. Jerry didn’t make it to our next reunion (the 35th). He died in an automobile accident in Ohio at the age of 42. Bob S. What can I say about Bob? When I met Bob I was a very young 22 and Bob was 27 years old. I met Bob at an after hours gay dance club in Philadelphia. At 27 I thought he was so old. In spite of his “advanced years” I thought he was very attractive and personable. He asked me to dance. It was a slow dance. I had just recently discovered the pleasure of slow dancing with a man. I loved to dance and had always enjoyed dancing with women. But, when I first danced with a man I discovered a new dimension to dancing. What a revelation. I thought “No wonder dancing is so popular!” Short, slight of build, and fine featured, and possessing a self confidence that wasn't arrogant; Bob was just the type of man I was attracted to. Bob told he had recently been transferred from Seattle Washington to the Philadelphia Boeing plant. He also told me he was married and had two children. We danced some more. After the club closed Bob asked if he could see me again. He had to arrange it so his wife wouldn’t know where he was. I told him where I lived. He would visit me every other Saturday morning. Bob was the first man I was intimate with. However, after months of lies to his wife, hiding (the time my Mother came over to visit my apartment Bob hid in the bathroom) and living my life as a “mistress”, I tired of it and called off the relationship. I was young and wanted to go out. That was in 1963. A few months ago, searching through the Social Security death index as part of my genealogical research, I put in Bob’s name to see if anything came up. His name came up. He died in 1990 in Washington State. I do not know the cause of his death. He was only 57 years old. These are but just a few of people who have passed through my life and are responsible for the person I am today. Don’s friendly competition with me helped me to overcome my lack of self-confidence. Kenny was the first bully I stood up to and refused to be bullied anymore as I was during elementary school years. There were others who tried to bully me after my “fight” with Kenny, but I always stood up to them and let them know I wasn’t one to be bullied. Kenny was the turning point. Joe M. taught me the terrible lessons of the consequences of selfishness and promiscuous, unprotected sexual activity. I saw a once handsome and proud man reduced to an almost unrecognizable shadow of his former self. His lowest point perhaps was when a small child standing next to him on the street pointed to Joe and said to his mother “Look at the ugly man.” Joe broke down in tears. Even in the advanced stages of AIDS, Joe was still cruising the streets of center city Philadelphia for anonymous sex. Linda taught me to face with bravery whatever bad hands life has dealt. Linda never once lost her sense of humor and never felt self pity. Jerry taught me to accept all people as they are. Jerry was one of those rare people who was friendly with me even though he had nothing to gain by my friendship. We had absolutely nothing in common. He accepted me, a genuine dork (at least during my high school days) who was no threat to his social standing with the football jocks. He always had a smile for me. Then there was Bob S. Bob was the first person who didn’t make me feel like a pervert because of my sexual identity. Our sexual relationship made me feel like a natural person. It is ironic that my first sexual relationship with a man would be with a married man who had children. We never talked about his wife or children. I don’t know why, we just didn’t. Bob also had “the smile.” As you, the reader of this blog, can tell by now, I’m a pushover for a genuine, accepting smile. None of these people who were so much a part of my life would live long enough to enjoy their retirement years as I am doing now. If I should die tomorrow, I will always be thankful to these people for shaping my life and to help make me the person that I am today. I am indeed a Fortunate Son.

A New Day in Delaware


As the song “Nature Boy” by Nat King says, “The greatest thing is to be loved, and love in return.” That sentiment can be applied to a person, a pet, a hobby or a state. I love Delaware. And Delaware loves me in return. Rain or shine, cold or warm, I love Delaware. Each day I roll out of bed I think of how lucky I am to live in this wonderful state. Yes, other states have their charms. They may have their mountains, rivers, historic landmarks, cultural attractions. Delaware is perfect for me in this, my retirement. Even though I work part-time, I still consider myself retired. My job is fun and without the pressure of a five day a week, 50 week year grind. The people I work with are a varied and wonderful group of folks. We all have our individual personalities with our strengths and weaknesses, but we all work together towards the common goal of providing excellent service to the guests of the bed and breakfast where we are employed. What more could on ask for other than to appreciate and give thanks that the time has finally arrived after all these years of working for this goal. Are there bumps along this happy road of retirement? Sure. Route 1 is still torn up after 20 some months of construction. That nightmare is scheduled to end May 23rd, before the Memorial Day weekend rush of tourists. We shall see. The price of food and gas keep going up without any end in sight. The war continues in Iraq. Our best and brightest are still dying or coming home permanently injured fighting in a conflict that has no rational reason. And Delaware still doesn’t have a Wegmans grocery store in Sussex County. Those negative factors do not affect the pure beauty of a day like today. The sun is bright and clear, the birds are joyfully going about their business. The flowers are freshly washed from the early morning application of the sprinkler systems. Some neighbors head off for work. Yes, it will be another good day in Delaware.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Lunch With Barbara



This morning I awoke to another coastal Delaware gorgeous spring day. As I lay in my bed, I reviewed in my mind what I wanted to do on this beautiful day. The freedom to decide what to do is perhaps the best benefit of being retired. Although I work part-time (I worked late last night), I now have the next two days off to do as I please. What to do? Clean the house? No. Clean out my storage room in the basement? Definitely not. Ah, I will get outside and soak up the sunshine, fresh air, and the sounds of the many birds chirping and going about their business. First on the agenda was to refresh the bird baths that surround my acre large backyard. That done, it was time to make the short drive to the Ace Hardware in Milton to stock up on supplies. I needed a new hummingbird hook, inpatients plants, a miniature petunias for my planter, and a can of Bartender's Helper to remove the stain in my stainless steel sink. The drive to Milton past flat Delaware landscape was as pleasant as ever. To see the horizon is always invigorating. Some may be put off my southern Delaware's lack of hills and mountains but not this new Delaware resident. To me, the open landscape is like the open floor plan in my home. I feel totally free. I can breath. My neighbor Barbara greeted me as I drove into my driveway. I had an idea. Why don't we try the new Mexican restaurant in Lewes? Barbara was up for it. Her husband was away for the day fishing. We agreed to meet at 12 PM at my house. About 15 minutes to high noon Barbara appeared at my door. We were off to Lewes via New Road. No construction today on New Road. That was a break. After stopping at the Lewes post office to take care of some "Barbara" business, we went to the new Mexican restaurant, which is named Agave (I believe). It was closed. Wouldn't open until 3 P.M. Lewes has great restaurants but it is frustrating to find out when they are opened or closed. Perhaps it has a lot to do with the flow of customers. Our second choice for dining was Gilligan's Restaurant on the canal. It was a good choice. The special of the day was black bean soup with grilled chicken. Sounds good? It was! Just the right amount of spiciness to command one's attention but not too much that caused pain. I also chose the asparagus quiche. This entree came with a light spring salad. Delectable. My lunch partner Barbara chose the grilled vegetable foccia sandwich. Once she saw me groaning in ecstasy eating my grilled chicken black bean soup, she motioned to the waitress and said "I'll have what he's having." A short time later our waitress delivered the second bowl of grilled chicken black bean soup. Barbara loved the broth and black beans. She doesn't eat chicken because, a long time ago, she was taken on a tour of a chicken processing plant and it put her off forever to eating chicken. Pushing the morsels of chicken aside, she luxuriated in the bold flavor of the bean soup. Her foccia sandwich arrived. She eyed it and said "How am I going to eat that?" It was huge. I told her I could eat it. She said her mouth wasn't big enough. Apparently, mine is. I have yet to met a sandwich that was too big for me to take a bite out of. I suggested that she cut her sandwich with a fork. It was a good suggestion. Barbara said the portabella mushrooms tasted like fillet mignon. During our meal, we gossiped a bit, got into a political discussion of the merits and negatives of Hillary Clinton and Barrack Obama. We agreed that today's primaries in Illinois and North Carolina may decide the Democratic nominee. She said although she's always hated Hillary, she would rather see her get the nomination than Obama. I didn't agree with her but kept my opinions to myself. We were having such a pleasant lunch and I didn't want it to deteriorate into acrimony like my dinner at the Purple Parrot on Sunday night. I took my good friend Bob's advice, "let it go." It wasn't worth it. Thus, we continued to enjoy out lunch. We did a bit of people watching, which is always fun. Barbara watched in amusement as a woman customer was trying to fit into her seat into her desired seat in the restaurant. Unfortunately, the seat she wanted backed up to another patron. The woman had just too much booty to fit into the chair. After several futile attempts to seat herself, she surrendered and sat at the other side of the table. Apparently she was after the best view of the canal. The "view" or "on the water" is very important to many who visit Lewes and other seaside resorts. It's all about "am I on the water?" Well, she still had her view but she would have to turn her head. Our check came and we departed. I told Barbara I wanted to stop in the Inn and say "Hi!" to Monica, who was manning the front desk today. Barbara borrowed a cigarette from Monica and had one of her two cigarette allotment for the day. We said our goodbyes to Monica and left for home. Yes, a very pleasant day for we two recent retirees to Delaware. Life is indeed good here in Delaware. We'll keep the secret.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Amitié, Partie Deux



After a good night’s sleep, I have reviewed what occurred last night during our weekly get together at the Purple Parrot. I admit that I probably overreacted to the condescending and dismissive remarks my friend made to me when I was served 25 minutes after everyone else at our table had already eaten. Granted, the restaurant was busy and the waiter was new. There were so many prime rib specials ordered from our table (four) that my modest “Wimpy” order (a half pound hamburger) got lost in the shuffle of green order slips in the kitchen. When my friend made his totally unnecessary and thoughtless comments to me, excusing the waiter from his mistake, I responded by saying “That’s bullshit, he made a mistake.” My friend did not approve my response and put it back on me again by saying “Get over it Ron”, thus throwing more gasoline on the fire of my anger which was fueled by two martinis. After I repeated my “Bullshit!” response, my friend gives me a look like one would give a school child or dog and said very slowly “Ron.”, which only had the effect of making me even angrier. Under normal circumstances, which means without the alcohol, I would have let his haughty demeanor towards me pass as I have often done in the past. Last night was not that night. This morning I received an e-mail from another friend who was also at our table. This is a friend who I have the utmost respect. I will take his advice. It was:

“letting him know u disagree is ok....dragging it out was a bit much...we all say and/or do things that annoy other people....the secret of maintaining the group is to make ur position known and then drop it...”

This is excellent advice that I will take and use. He was right, sometimes friends do disagree and we all say and/or do things to annoy other people. Where I am guilty is that I did not let it go. Unfortunately, it was a situation where each of us was determined to have the last word. My friend who made the ill timed remarks that set off my anger is used to not being confronted with his cutting remarks. It was a shame that the rest of the group had to be brought down at the end of a very enjoyable evening. The next time it happens, and it will, I’ll make my position known and move on. I value my friendship with the other members of the group more than I do confronting someone who has a habit of making condescending and dismissive remarks to his friends.