Sunday, November 30, 2008

Rainy Sunday




As the rain beats against my window this Sunday morning, I am again reminded of how fortunate I am to have this warm, cozy and secure home. This morning I am reviewing the files on my old Gateway computer to transfer to my new Dell computer. This is a job I’ve been procrastinating for a few days but I have no excuse today. To me cleaning out these old computer files is akin to cleaning out a closet or a desk drawer. I would rather be updating my genealogy files. That is a pastime I literally can spend hours doing.

Thanksgiving came and went. As you know if you’re a regular reader of this blog, I spent the day (3 PM to 11 PM) at the front desk at the hotel where I work in Lewes. The hotel was about two thirds occupied. As in past holidays, especially Thanksgiving, the guests were gentle, sweet and appreciative. Most of the guests during the holidays are grandparents visiting children and grandchildren. This year we had a few gay couples, some singles and a group of airplane re fitters from Dubai (originally from England) who are long term guests. I like these guests because they always so pleasant an agreeable. No drama from the aircraft guys.

Monica, the assistant manager, brought me in a Thanksgiving platter directly from her family dining table. This is the second year she has so favored me with her kindness, and again the meal was delicious! Monica is one good cook. The platter consisted of turkey, mashed potatoes (so smooth), gravy (also very smooth), stuffing, green bean casserole, whipped sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. What more could I ask for? I wolfed that meal down in record time. This was one night shift in which I didn’t go home hungry.

Friday, Bill and I visited our friend Bob C. for dinner at his lovely, quaint historic home in Milton. Bill and I live in a new, open floor plan modern house. However, upon entering Bob’s place, we did feel nostalgia of one of these houses that oozes history throughout its timbers. The ceilings may be low, and floors may creak and the windows may be uneven but it all just adds to the charm of these unique houses. It was a wonderful night of camaraderie among good friends. Bob regaled us with stories of his recent cruise to Egypt (he was amazed at the size of the Pyramids) and Greece. Bill and I left around 8 PM into the darkness of that Friday night infused with goodwill from our good friend Bob.

Saturday morning, Bill and I had our regular weekly breakfast at Zorba’s at the Food Lion shopping strip on Rt. 1 as you go into Rehoboth Beach. Maggie, our usual waitress (who was a former student from one of the East European countries – I’ll have to ask her which one the next time I see her), greeted us as we walked in the door. We didn’t need a menu. She knows what we order. Bill has has an egg sandwich with a double order or mayonnaise (Bill loves his mayonnaise) on white bread, not toasted. I get one egg over hard (I hate runny whites on eggs), scrapple (I love my scrapple), home fries (which I split with Bill), and an English muffin. Bill gets regular coffee, I get decaf.

After breakfast I tackled a job which I have been putting off for too long. I had to get my fall bulb plantings in the ground as well as plant winter pansies. I had 170 tulip bulbs to plant, a few of which were chewed on by the resident mouse who has been residing (no longer since last night) in my shed. The winter pansies are my favorite because they bloom on any nice stretch of mild weather days during the winter and burst out in a glorious display of color the first days of spring. They keep producing until the intense heat of the summer. Then, at the height of the summertime a whole new crop of flowers take over the bed in front of my house. I got my trowel and knee pad out and went to work as soon as I got home from the garden center, where I purchased the pansies (as well as two winter barberry bushes.) Yesterday was a beautiful day to work outside. The sun was out but there was little wind and not a lot of activity in the neighborhood. Only the occasional car that went by, slowing down sometimes to observe this dedicated gardener on his knees, slaving away. Four and a half hours later, I was finished. My back was finished too.

At 6 PM I was ready for bed. I was exhausted. I remember the day when I could go all day from sun up to sun down. Those days are long gone. But yesterday’s effort was well worth it. My reward will be in the spring when the front of my house will be the first in the neighborhood to explode in a mass of festive color. Not only do my neighbors and I get to enjoy the flowers, but the early spring honey bees have their first source of food and sustenance.

After dinner last night I made my piece de resistance dessert, Hawaiian Wedding cake. No, no one is getting married but this is one of those desserts that one simple cannot get enough of. I take the regular recipe for Hawaiian Wedding cake and put a few “extras” in it. I make a butter cake instead of the usual yellow cake. Instead of draining all the pineapple juice, I soak about half of it into the cake. I also add a layer of bananas to the cake right before I put the crushed pineapples on top. Then the cream cheese, vanilla pudding, Cool Whip topping. On top of that I add coconut, chopped walnuts and maraschino cherries. I dare anyone to eat just one bit of this heavenly concoction. Forget about your diet when you eat this cake.

Normally I meet my friends on Sunday night at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth. I’ll have to take a pass this night. It’s raining now and the rain is forecast for the rest of the day. I don’t like driving at night because of the oncoming headlights. They all seem to be on high beam, especially the newer cars with the laser lights. But driving at night with headlights reflecting off of the road wet with rain makes it almost impossible for me to navigate the road. No need to tempt fate tonight with another accident on the infamous Route 1.

Bill dragged out the Christmas candles from the attic and they are now all in place in our many windows. I would have put the white twinkle lights on my lone tree in the front of the house yesterday but I ran out of time and daylight. The Christmas decorating season is upon us again. Every year I say I'm not going to put up any decorations but I do anyway. I hate taking them down in the cold of January. But they do look so nice in the weeks before Christmas. Besides, I don't want to be the only Scrooge "Bah humbug!" neighbor in the neighborhood.

This week I work Monday and Thursday. Tuesday I have a dental appointment (teeth cleaning) in Dover. Tom (my Computer Guy) comes over Wednesday to complete the setup of my new Dell Computer. I’ve decided not to get that very intrusive test at the urologist in January. Then I’m ready to settle in for the winter. It looks like clear sailing until spring. Snug as a bug in a rug.
Life is good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving 2008









Thanksgiving is here again. Doesn’t it seem like it arrives faster and faster? Why it seems like only yesterday it was witches and hobgoblins cavorting around celebrating the Halloween madness. This year as in years past I think back on previous Thanksgiving celebrations. For many, many years Thanksgiving at home was Mom cooking up the big turkey dinner for our family; Pop, me and my two younger brothers. Then, as my brothers and I moved away from home, we would visit Mom and she would still whip up the big diner for our ravenous appetites. Turkey, mashed potatoes, corn (from Pop’s garden, lovingly frozen during the summer and brought out at this special occasion), cranberry sauce, string beans, and the special treat – Mom’s homemade biscuits with homemade gravy. At the end of the meal my brothers would good naturedly fight to see who could sop out the left over gravy in the gravy bowl with their biscuits.

As the years passed, my brothers and I too to celebrating Thanksgiving at our respective homes with our new families. Occasionally one of two of us would visit Mom for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. However, as Mom got older she found it difficult to handle the stress of cooking a big dinner. After my father died, my divorced brother moved in with Mom to take care of her. Thanksgiving dinner would just be the two of them. I would go over after their dinner and she would have a dish made up of the Thanksgiving goodies for me and Bill to take back to my home.

In 2003 I accepted an invitation from a longtime friend to join him and his family for their Thanksgiving dinner. In the past I had always turned down this invitation because I assumed Thanksgiving dinners were for family only. I wasn’t a member of his biological family. I didn't think it would be right for me to attend his family’s Thanksgiving dinner. However, I knew his wife was a fabulous cook so I took him up on his offer. What a wise choice that was! Thanksgiving dinner at my friend’s house was one of the best, if not the best Thanksgiving dinner I ever had (with all due respects to Mom – she is a pretty darn good cook too.) The difference with my friend’s dinner was who was in attendance. Around the beautifully set out dining room table were my friend, his wife, their two adult daughters, his Mom, his aunt, his brother and his wife and her mom, and his single cousin. I was added to this mix and felt right at home.

His house was warm and comfortable. The aromas wafting in from the kitchen were positively heady. Laughter abounded everywhere. Chaos reigned but who cared? We were family.

I called my friend last night to wish him and his family a happy Thanksgiving. He extended his invitation again as he had many times in the past. To my great regret, I cannot take him up on his invitation this year because I am working later today. Also, there is a significant geographical separation between us now. His family lives in southeastern Pennsylvania and I live in the southern peninsula of Delaware.

Even though I am working today and may not be enjoying the traditional sit down Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, I will give thanks for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me. Good health, financial security, a wonderful home in a wonderful state. But, of all my blessings, the one I am most thankful for are my friends. They have made my life a joy. Thank you all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A Visit to the Urologist


Okay boys and girls, here we go again. I had another appointment at the Wilmington Veterans Administration Medical Center this morning. That meant rising out of a deep slumber this morning at 4:30 am. Oh how I love getting up at that hour. I couldn’t sleep anyway, knowing that I had to get up that early.

The American Legion Post 29 van picks me up at Routes 5 and 1 (just up the road about three miles) at 6 am. I was there about 20 minutes ahead of time. I wouldn’t want to miss my ride. The van arrives about 10 after 6. Just the driver and another old grizzled vet like me are going up today. The trip up was uneventful. In fact traffic was light. We arrive at the “city on a hill” (the way the VA building looks in the early morning sunlight just off of Rt. 141.) First thing upon entering the lobby, I have to scan my VA card. Yes, it confirms that I am 67 years old (you have to put your age in the computer to verify you are who you are) and have an appointment with the urologist today. My appointment with the urologist today is to go over the results of my CT-RAD scan of last Wednesday. That was when I had the dye injected though my blood stream by an IV injection.

The result of the CT-RAD scan is that I do have a renal calcli (that’s a kidney stone to those of you who haven’t had the “thrill” of passing one.) The good news is that it is small, only 4 millimeters. The bad news is that I will probably pass that kidney stone sometime during my lifetime. That’s a day I’m not looking forward to.

However, there is another interesting development. Since I passed blood the night before I passed my kidney stone (January 2, 2008 – oh I remember the night and following day WELL), the doctor felt obligated to advise me to get a procedure done that I was dreading. I’ve never been subjected to a catheterising before. That’s one bullet I’ve dodged. Well, the good doctor advised me to get a cystoscopy. What is that you say? Uh, it’s a small camera (yes, a camera) on the tip of a flexible tube (yes, they tell me it is very flexible once it is all greased, er, lubricated up) and inserted in my penis to take a picture of my bladder. They’re looking for a tumor which may or may not be cancerous. Here’s the problem. My brother had this done by a doctor who wasn’t really paying attention and the doctor punctured the wall of his urethra. My brother ended up in the emergency room because his blood was clotting in his urethra. Oh, did I mention he told me it was EXTREMELY painful. He said it felt like he had a lightening bolt hit him between his legs. He said he did not know such pain existed. He thought he hit the ceiling.

Needless to say, I expressed some reluctance at receiving this procedure after my brother’s experience. However, the good doctor was not to be swayed. He called in reinforcements. The head urologist came in and explained to me that the whole procedure, while not “pleasant” would take a total of 20 minutes, only 3 of which I would have the “flexible” tube inserted in my urethra. He explained to me that this is their standard procedure when there is blood in the urine. Now remember, I haven’t had blood in my urine since the night before I passed my kidney stone on January 3rd of this year. It is my understanding that blood in the urine before passing a kidney stone is a classic symptom. Now I understand why the doctor wants to check but I’m wondering, is this really necessary? Of course I don’t want to take the chance of being injured. As far as modesty goes, that’s been out the door a long time ago with my visits at the VA. A lot of them at the facility know me very well. In the ten years I've been using the VA facilities, they’ve seen everything. And I mean EVERYTHING. There is no corner or cubby hole of me that has not been examined, poked, or exposed to many and varied eyes of both sexes. I have no secrets. I'm an open book.

So here is my dilemma. Do I have the cystoscopy or not?

Just to end a perfectly beautiful day, on the way back to Slower Lower (Sussex County) in the van, we encountered a traffic accident on the other side of Dover. We sat in traffic a good hour and a half until we were directed to go back. Thus, the three of us took a meandering tour of the western side of Route 1 until we could connect to Route 1 again in Milford. We saw parts of Delaware we did not know existed. Delaware is such a small state, everything pretty much looks the same. Flat land, big chicken houses, WalMart trucks heading north and south (lot of WalMart in Delaware), and the big sky. Nice tour but we were all anxious to get home. You can't get lost in Delaware. Route 1, 13 and 113 run the length of the state. The other roads like Rts. 9, 16 run east west. Sooner or later one of those roads intersect with the powerful Route 1.

During our unexpected detour,I had plenty of time to think of “should I or shouldn’t I?” Originally they were going to schedule my appointment for December 24th. What a perfectly lovely way to spend Christmas Eve. No thanks. I reschedule it for January 29th, 2009. After I got home I called my brother (he lives in South Carolina) and told him of my situation. It brought back a lot of painful memories for him. He said if it was him, he wouldn’t have it done unless there was something wrong. I’m not passing blood now so, technically, there is nothing wrong. But, I’m still undecided.

While I was up at the VA today I had both of my computers on. I was transferring some of my 25,000 plus pictures from my old computer to my new computer. In those 25,000 pictures I have a lot of different people, places, and scenes. However, there is one picture I don’t have. If I do decide to get it done, you can be sure that will be my “picture of the day”. You might want to take the kids out of the room when you pull that one up.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The New Dell







Today was the day I have been awaiting with great anticipation. Tom, my P C Guy (Tom is not politically correct – “PC” stands for personal computer) was coming over today to complete the setup of my new Dell computer. He asked me to prepare a list of things for him to do. I had that list ready for him.

First item on the list was to get some sound coming out of the speakers. Tom turned the volume on the speaker up. Duh. Well, I wasn’t totally at fault here. Dell’s speakers have the volume knob the opposite way. I’m not sure if there is a standard way. I just knew Tom would dispatch that problem jiffy. Tom is pictured above, fist on the old Gateway (not his body language) then on my new Dell (again, not the body language. It's almost as if the new Dell commands respect.)

Then it came time to connect me to the Internet. Tom asked for my encryption key code and the ESSID number from when he set me up on Verizon DSL. Uh, what? I search and viola! There it was. A slip of paper I saved from the last time Tom saved me. I won’t tell you the encryption code (a code which prevents passersby from hacking into my computer) but it is a number extremely difficult to guess. Oh, maybe one in a billion and a half.

Two down and now the wireless printer. Actually, I didn’t need the wireless printer. Turns out there are more wires with a wireless printer than the standard setup which is just a power cord and a cable cord from the back of the printer to the PC. But you know me, I have to have EVERYTHING. A wireless printer makes sense in an office, where all can share the printer. I’m not sharing anything. Man, that Dell salesman was really good because he also sold me a Dell printer. What was I thinking? I’ve always had HP printers. To me they are the standard. But hey, I have a black Dell printer to match my black Dell computer and keyboard. I’m color coordinated. My gay gene is alive and well.

Now, here is the biggie. I have to transfer most of my files on my Gateway to my new Dell. That would be an easy task. Since I have a wireless connection, I don’t have to connect the two computers across the room. First order of business was to transfer My Pictures. I knew I had a large file but I had no idea how large. How does this sound? In the My Pictures folder I have 25,231 files and a size of 21.2 GB. The files are transferring as I type this blog. They’ve been transferring for about two hours now. I’m down to 20.3 GB. Estimated time of completion? How’s 3 days and 5 hours sound? Yeah. That’s what I said too. WHAT? THREE DAYS? If it’s three day, that’s the way it will have to be because I have to transfer those files. That’s one of the main reasons I got the new computer. I was afraid of my old computer crashing.

With my new computer I also have an external backup drive of 1 terra byte. That should hold all of my picture files and take the constant worry that I would lose those files to a computer crash. Other files I have to transfer are my genealogy files, AOL saved mail files and some word files. Also some software files, including my Canon camera software. I’ll still be pumping out those pictures.

With my new PC I have a scanner that will scan negatives and slides. Now there is where I have a LOT OF PICTURES. I’ve been taking pictures since I was 10 years old (57 years for those of you who can’t do the math.) This is going to be fun.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Why I Blog


This evening Bill and I had dinner at our home with our good friend Bob C. While many subjects were covered, the subject of my blogging came up. Bob C. stated that he wouldn’t blog. He didn’t see the need for it. I understand that. Bill also doesn’t see the need for him to blog. I also understand why Bill doesn’t feel compelled to blog. I tried to explain to them why I like to blog. It’s very simple, I love to write. Both Bob and Bill said they don’t want the world to know about their lives. I’m different. I do want the world to know about my life. Some may see that as arrogant or selfish. I see it as a compelling need within me that I am required to fulfill.

While I’ve never had formal training in writing (and it shows), I have always had that need to write from the time I was a teenager. At one time I had 57 pen pals around the world. One of my special joys was to check my Post Office box (212) and see envelopes with the different postage stamps from my friends across the country and even some from foreign lands (Japan and Germany.) Looking back on it, I don’t remember anything special that I wrote about except my daily activities, much as I do now. But I did get a great deal of satisfaction from writing my letters and receiving them from my many friends from far away places.

When I joined the Army at 18 years old I had to give up most of my pen pals. I kept one, Nancy Jo Stoker of Waterloo, Iowa. I continued to write to her most of the three years I was in the Army, but at sometime I even let that correspondence lapse. While in the Army I received letters from my Mother, and my three best friends, Bill B., Larry M. and Bob Mc. I still have those letters. After I left the Army those correspondences ended.

In July of 1964 I met my life partner, Bill K. He lived in Pennsauken, New Jersey and I lived in Coatesville, Pennsylvania. We would meet on the weekends. During the week I would write him a letter….every day. I did that from July 1964 to March 1, 1965, when I moved in with him. He still has those letters. On occasion I have read those letters. The content was the same, an accounting my daily activities. It is interesting now to read what was my concerns back then in the 60’s. Also interesting is how my handwriting has changed over the years.

During a ten year period from 1972 to 1981 I kept a personal diary in one of those dated year books I purchased at the Woolworth store on Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. I recorded the years I lived in center city Philadelphia. I faithfully recorded my daily activities in that diary. I would feel incomplete when I didn’t make a daily entry. It was rare that I missed a day. I stopped keeping a diary when an acquaintance, who I let stay in my apartment in Philadelphia, discovered them. This was someone who was homeless and I let stay in my apartment (which I had leased for a year while my house in Pennsylvania was being built) until he found another home. Unfortunately, I had to ask this person to leave my apartment when found out he was stealing from me. A few weeks later he attempted to blackmail me by divulging the contents of my diary. He was unsuccessful in his blackmail attempts but I did stop keeping my diary.

Last year, in July, I decided to start a daily diary (or journal as the cover of the book says) again. I’ve been making daily entries in it since that date. I can’t explain exactly why I feel this need to write. Maybe it’s because I’m at the end of my life now. I do know it gives me a feeling of completeness and that I matter. We all matter. All of us lead interesting lives. There are no dull lives. I often think that maybe someday in the future someone will read my journals and get a feel of what life was like here in the beginning of the 21st century. I read my journals that I kept back in the 70’s and I get the full flavor of what life was like in the 70’s. It was a wonderful time for me as a gay man in the full prime of my youth. I didn’t realize it at the time, but the 70’s were a time of liberation for gay men and women. With the onset of the 80’s and the AIDS epidemic my world changed forever. It was only by coincidence I had already decided to move from center city Philadelphia to a suburban home in Chester County, Pennsylvania. That period ended a chapter of my life.

The whole time I lived in Pennsylvania, twenty five years (from 1981 to 2006), I didn’t keep any journals of my life. That period of my life exists now only in my memory. No written record exists of it unless I decide to write about it before I pass from this earth.

Retiring and moving to Delaware is probably the last chapter of my life. This blog of mine, Retired in Delaware will give someone in the future of what life was like for this one person in Delaware. Some paint a beautiful picture and leave that as their legacy to the future. Some of those artists are not formally trained but their art is just as appreciated by many as well as full filling a personal need within themselves. While I may lack formal training, I forge ahead. Writing full fills a deep need within me. My writing is proof that I existed, that I mattered. Writing is my legacy to the future.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Setting Up The New Computer





Well folks, this was the day I set up my new Dell computer. The day I was dreading. Now I wish I had taken my good friend Lar's advice and bought a Mac. At least with that computer, all I would have to do is take it out of the box and plug it in and I'm ready to go. Not so with my new Dell Inspiron. Early this morning, at the first crack of daylight, I laid everything out on the floor of my home office. Which plug goes where. I'm going to make this story short because I have company coming for dinner in about an hour and a half and I have to make preparations. Here is what happened. I couldn't get the wireless mouse and keyboard to work. The instructions that came with the PC didn't match what I had to do. I called the Dell help line. I will give them credit, they did answer right away. However, I was connected to India. COULDN'T HEAR HER! Her voice sounded like she was talking on the other end of a tin can connected by string between me here in Delaware and her in New Dehli. Finally, after many "I can't hear you?", she switched to another phone where I could hear her. I don't know if this was much better. SHE HAD THE ACCENT. Lots of "What did you say?" from me. That sing songy Indian accent. I thought when the tech support job were outsourced overseas, they taught those folks to speak Engie. After about an hour and a half I we succeeded in getting the wireless mouse and keyboard to work. However, she told me that I was on my own as to getting my Internet connection up and going. I thanked her for her time (she was trying her best I'm sure) and hung up. I put a call into my Computer Guy. He's coming over next Tuesday at 1 PM. He speaks English. Maybe he can help me to get the sound working too. I plugged the green sound cord in the back of the computer in the green female input. DIDN'T WORK! FRUSTRATED. I've been dreading this. That's why I'm running dual computers. I'm keeping my old computer until I'm good and comfortable with the new one. I also have to get the wireless printer to working. I haven't even taken that equipment out of the box. I can't get that image of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin giving an interview to a local news reporter that she was setting free one lucky turkey for Thanksgiving while others were being slaughtered in camera range right behind her. I hope I didn't get one of her turkeys.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New Computer

My new computer is here! It's a Dell. Yes, I'm taking the plunge again with a Dell. My last Dell purchase, back in 2001 was a disaster. I purchased a brand new Dell with all the bells and whistles. After setting it up, I discovered I couldn't turn it off. Oh I turned it off, but it came back on by itself without any help from me. Yes, it booted itself up. So, knowing that I paid for "premium" service, I call Dell support. Oh, the "premium", it wasn't so much. I still had to wait a long time on the phone and go through all the menu options. The "premium" service was in name only, not reality. When I finally got through to the Dell help line, I get a woman who tells me that I have to reformat my hard drive. Say what? I just got the computer. Reformat the hard drive? I finished that conversation and called again, hoping to get another person with a more reasonable solution. The new person I talked to said that I had too much on my desktop. Well, I guess she should know. It came with a bunch of crapola that Dell installed. She advised me to take off some items. It did. Now I could close the computer, sometimes. Every fourth or fifth time the computer would again boot itself up. To make a long story short, I went through the torture of calling Dell's help line again and again, informing them I had "premium" service which included "at home service." Didn't mean a thing to the folks I was talking to at the Dell help desk. Nada. While I was fighting Dell, trying to get my new computer to work, I brought a small, inexpensive Gateway computer as a temporary replacement. That “temporary replacement” computer is the computer I'm using now. Yes folks, I've been using this Gateway computer since 2001. I eventually gave away my Dell computer to a good friend who did have the hard drive reformatted. Now it works for him. He only had to pay $100 to have it reformatted and but new software. It was a bargain for him. I stayed with my Gateway because it has a small LCD screen instead of that monster cathode ray tube of the Dell. My Gateway is seven years old. I don't want to push my luck so I gave it a lot of thought. Should I get a Mac, like my good friend Lar? I would love to, but I couldn't afford it. So, after a lot of thought and comparing, I decided to go with Dell again. Over the past three days a bunch of boxes were delivered to my front door by UPS. I'm ready for a new computer. I need that 2.0 USB port. I want to copy all my photo negatives to the computer for conversion into digital pictures. Also, I plan to convert my old VHS tapes to DVD's. Most of all, I need a faster computer. My Gateway has been a great workhorse but I'm ready for the new features that my new Dell Inspiron will offer. Only thing I'm not looking forward to is setting it up. I called my good friend Tom, my PC Guy to arrange an appointment for him to set it up for me. This is a win-win situation. I give him the business and avoid getting myself all frustrated. I just hope he doesn't have to call Dell's help desk. The Dell salesman I talked to on the phone when I made the purchase assured me that I would have no problems. He also told me he had a bridge to sell me……………………… cheap.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My Trip to the VA






Four-thirty a.m. came around early this morning. I knew I had to get up early so, of course, I was awake at 3:10 a.m. I slept in fits and starts until my radio alarm clock sounded the alarm, “BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!” I rolled out of bed, wash, shaved, did my morning exercises (to get my blood flowing), and ate my breakfast. By this time 5:25 a.m. had arrived and Bill was ready to drive me to liquor store at Rts. 1 and 5, where the American Legion Post 28 van would pick me up. Out of the house into the dark cold air, I climbed into Bill’s ancient Jeep. Ten minutes later we were at the pick up point. Another veteran was waiting there in his car. About 20 minutes later the van arrives. Only the driver and a World War II submarine veteran who was riding shotgun were in the van. Usually the van is full. But, this morning three vets cancelled and one was a no show. The other vet and I climbed in behind the driver and the submarine vet. Right away I made a mistake. I was behind the driver and he had his seat all the way back. I have long legs. The ride to Wilmington is a good hour away. My long legs would be cramped. They were. Plus, I didn’t have an arm rest. My ride to the V A Medical Center in Wilmington was very uncomfortable. I tried to take nap on the way up, to make up for lost sleep time. All I accomplished was more fitful sleep. Arriving at the VA building in Wilmington, it was now daylight. The air was still cold. I made my way up to Room 2115 for my 9 a.m. appointment for my CAT-RAD scan. I checked in at the desk. The receptionist told me to take a seat. First I had to drink five full glasses of water. One hour prior to the CAT-RAD scan I was given instructions to drink all this water. I knew this would be a problem. I just don’t drink that much water. That is why I have kidney stones, which is why I was getting a CAT-RAD scan today. I brought my own plastic glass with me. I went out in the hallway and positioned my glass under the water fountain. One glass I gulped down. Already I had enough. I drank another glass of water. I’m bloated now. Three more glasses to go. I turned the fountain on again and filled my glass. Gulp! Now I’m getting nauseous. I walked up and down the hall, sloshing all the way. The time was only 7:45 a.m. so I had a while to go. I waited about 15 minutes then took another gulp of water. Oh my God. I’m about to float away. I only had one more to go. I steeled myself and filled my plastic glass up again and chug a lugged it down. Now I’m sick. I wobbled into the waiting room. As I passed the receptionist, she told me I had to go downstairs to get my “labs.” That’s VA talk for a blood test. Lightheaded, I headed for the elevator, got on, and got off the first floor. Checking in with that receptionist, I scanned my VA identification card. The VA is very organized. All a vet has to do is scan their card and their name comes up on the monitor and appointment information. So much better than private medical practice where it seems as if the front desk is run by bored clerical staff. My appointments at the VA are ALWAYS on time. There is none of the practice of making appointments for all patients at 10 a.m. in the morning or 2 p.m. in the afternoon. “Tipton?” My name was called. Rising, I follow the pleasant young lady around the corner and take a seat in a barber type chair and roll up my right sleeve. We exchanged pleasantries. She checks my arm for a vein. Pleased, she said “You have nice veins.” Thank you. She swabs my vein and takes the needle out, aiming for my vein. I look away. I can’t stand the sight of my own blood. If I see it, I’ll be on the floor. It’s happened before. I don’t want a repeat. “There! That’s done.” It was painless. I complimented her on her skill in not hurting me. Rolling down my sleeve, I left. Back to Room 2115 and the waiting room. Nine o’clock rolled around. The technician came out and called my name. I go into a room off to the side. He tells me to take off my shirt and lie down on a bed type contraption protruding out of the CAT Scan tube. I get on the bed (I’ll call it a “bed” for lack of a better word.) He puts a sheet over me and asks me to pull my pants down around my knees. He goes for my right arm again. I’m going to get an IV. Oh uh. He gets this BIG needle out and compliments me on my vein. “Nice veins” he says. Then he punctures it. OUCH! Damn. That hurt. He says “You have tough skin.” Funny, I thought I was thin skinned. Oh well. He tries again. WOW! THAT HURT! He says this time “Your vein rolled.” What’s that? My vein rolled? I've been rolled before but I don't recall ever having my vein rolled. Then he punctures me again. It is really hurting now. What is this guy, a sadist? I’m beginning to feel like a pin cushion. I noticed that he didn’t swab my skin with an anesthetic. What’s this? Was he bored? He didn’t seem too happy. Finally he got the IV in my vein. It was about time. And or course, it hurt the whole time it was in. Then we went through taking the CAT-RAD scan. In the tube, hold my breath, exit the tube, let my breath out. Three times I did this. Now it was time to take out the IV tube. Oh boy. More hurt. I probably sound like a baby don’t I? I think I have a pretty high pain threshold. But, I don’t know. I was punctured quite a few times this morning. I wouldn’t be good under torture. I would probably be the first to spill the beans then some. Finally, it was over. I pulled my pants up, took the sheet off, and left. I thanked the technician but on reflection, I wonder why. I’m not sure if he was all that good at administering needles. I expected my arm to be bruised. Looking at it now all I see is four puncture marks. It looks like I had a run in with Dracula and I put up my arm to ward him off and he missed and got my arm instead. Well, it’s all done now. The ride back was uneventful. About an hour after I returned home, I heard a knock at my door. It was the UPS man. He arrived with my new Dell computer. I’m working tomorrow at the Inn (still no guests) so I will have to wait until Friday to assemble all the parts. Damn, that needle hurt.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Lean Times


The lean times are here. Last night I worked at the inn and we had exactly 0 guests. Yes, that’s right. NO GUESTS. Working at the Inn last night was almost like working at the Overlook Hotel in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” HERE’S JOHNNNNNNNNY!!!!” as Jack Nicholson’s character announced his entry through the door opening he chopped down with his ax. Earlier in the day, Bill and I were in Dover to do some shopping and to pick up my Christmas card photos (and that is a story for a whole ‘nother blog – wait until you hear bout that one!) Exiting the almost deserted J C Penney, I noticed the 40% off signs in the women’s nightwear department. I do very little Christmas shopping, but I do like to get my 84 year old Mother some warm snuggly night gowns and bathrobes. While Bill waited outside the danger area (like all men, he is very uncomfortable in the women’s wear department – a degree of butchness that I obviously don’t possess), I pawed through the soft and plush nightwear, trying to decide on what color would make Mom the happiest. I picked out a couple of very nice items for her. We stopped at Wal-Mart and Sam’s club before heading back to Slower Lower (as we in Delaware call Sussex County, the southern most county in the tiny state of Delaware – only on of the three counties of Delaware – the other two being New Castle and Kent.) Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart were busy. Going back home, the traffic on the roads was light. Once home I had a light lunch then a nap. Then it was off to work at 2:30 PM. I got to work at the Inn at about quarter to 3. Monica greeted me with a long face. “No one” she said. That meant it would be a long night at the Inn. Eight hours later, after I got off work at 11 PM, it felt like I had served a prison sentence. It is strange working the front desk at a hotel when there is NO ONE in. We’re not even getting phone calls inquiring about reservations. The only phone calls I received last night were the usual robo calls trying to sell me something. Yes, we even get those calls at work. Robo calls do not discriminate. Before I left work I took some lonely pictures of the lovely area where I work. Last night it was hard to believe that just a few short months ago, this was an area of bustling activity. Crowds of summertime and fall travelers crowded the quaint little streets of Lewes, Delaware, the First Town in the First State. Our Inn parking lot, next to the office where I greet and check in guests, was quiet and eerie. In August that parking lot hosted a tent full of wedding revelers. Now the parking lot hears only the echoes of the bride and groom’s vows for eternity whispering on the wind. Yes, it was a strange night. I’m off today. Tomorrow I go to the Wilmington VA for, what seems like a God awful test. I am scheduled for a RAD-CAT scan. An hour before the tests I have to drink FIVE glasses of water. Then they put a dye through my system so they can tell how bad my "calcified deposits" (read "kidney stones) are. Is it that test or getting up at 4:30 AM in the morning to catch the American Legion pool van to Wilmington? I’ll be glad when tomorrow is over. I hate medical tests, not only for the inconvenience but for the fact that I am tempting fate. Sooner or later they are going to find something. But, alas, it is something I have to do. One of the joys of getting older is keeping a constant check on this chassis of a body of mine to make sure all parts are in working order. So, tomorrow will be pretty well shot. Then it is Thursday. I get to go back to work at the Inn. When I left last night, there still weren’t any reservations for Thursday. HERE’S JOHNNNNNNNNY! (Note: put the blog music on pause - upper left - before viewing the video below to experience the maximum enjoyment of the movie clip)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Overstepping My Bounds


Today I received an e-mail from a William Tipton. I don't know Mr. Tipton personally, but I assumed that at one time he sent me an e-mail or an inquiry to one of my Tipton family web sites. All Tiptons that I receive e-mails from I add to my mailing list for Tipton genealogy assuming that they would also be interested in our common family genealogy. Each time I update my "Tipton Tales and Trails" blog, I send links to these e-mail addresses, assuming they would be interested in reading a blog about our family research. Since the evidence is abundantly clear that we Tiptons are all descended from the same common ancestor, a Jonathan Tipton who immigrated to this country in 1692 from Port Royale, Jamaica. Well, it appears that I have overstepped my bounds. William Tipton requested that I remove his name from mailing list, equating my e-mails with spam. If William Tipton intended to hurt me by his sarcastic and dismissive e-mail, he succeeded. I will honor his request and remove him from my mailing list. In fact, I'll do him one better. I will no longer send links to my postings on Tipton Tales and Trails to anyone. I understand that he does not want to be bothered and that is fine with me. I have encountered this attitude before among some Tiptons during my research on our common family tree. They do not want to be bothered. However, what I did think was unnecessary was his need to insult and dismiss me as a "genealogist" in parenthesis and a spam producer. But, be that as it may. It isn't the first time I've been slapped down for being altruistic. Probably won't be the last time either. On occasion in the past, I thought I would change the way I operate. However, I found it very difficult to be self-centered, selfish, and dismissive and hurtful to others. It's not in my nature. I will honor William Tipton's request and not forward links to my blog postings any more. However, I do have a suggestion for William Tipton. The next time if you just request to be taking off of a mailing list, just send an e-mail saying "Please take me off of your mailing list. Thank you." Sarcastic and hurtful words only add to the negativity that is all too abundant in this world now. Below is the content of William Tipton's e-mail that he sent to me today.

Ron,

As a fellow Tipton "geneologist" I can certainly appreciate your interest in all things "Tipton." It should be noted, however, that we comprise a very large tree with some branches being so far removed one from the other that any two particular branches may have no closer a blood relationsip than if we randomly put a finger down on a name in the phone book and compared that blood relationship to our own. Such is the case with your branch of the Tipton tree and my branch of the same, large tree.

I would hope you're a considerate guy, so I have one kind request, please:
Remove my email address from your periodic Tipton Trails notice. It's of no interest to me and I've grown more-than-tired of receiving the same message from you, sir.

Like most of us, I've lived with spam only because I must. We Tiptons really have no business adding to the problem.

Thanks for not replying and for taking me off your email list.

-Wm. Tipton

Friday, November 14, 2008

Big Sky In Delaware


Delaware is one of the smallest states of the union. When one thinks of a “Big Sky” country one thinks of a state like Montana. While I’ve never been to Montana (one of the many items on my Bucket List), I’m very happy living in Delaware, my “Big Sky” country. Having been born and spent most of my life in southeastern Pennsylvania, I was used to rolling hills and winding roads. Here in Delaware, those geographical attributes are almost non existent. Perhaps the only part of Delaware that is somewhat like the topography of Pennsylvania is Greenville, which is near the Pennsylvania border. Bill (my Domestic Partner) misses those forested hills and picturesque roads of Pennsylvania. We visit my Mom occasionally who still lives in Pennsylvania. Bill always gets nostalgic when we cross the Delaware/Pennsylvania border on Route 896 on the other side of Newark, Delaware. Bill doesn’t like the flat country of the coastal plain of Sussex County, Delaware where we live now. I love it. At first, when I used to visit my friend Bob in the late 1970’s, who lives near Georgetown, Delaware, I was put off by the flat land and straight roads intersecting one another, leading to the coast east or west. However, one aspect I always was impressed with this flat land of Delaware was the big sky. I’m sure there is a sky in Pennsylvania but it was hard to see amongst all the trees. While I also loved Pennsylvania, I did miss seeing the sky. Here, in good old Slower Lower, the sky always is impressive. Maybe my feeling has something to do with freedom. As I got older I felt more cramped living in Pennsylvania. Looking back, I can see now I moved in progression from my house in center city Philadelphia because I felt like I was being smothered by the closeness of all those row houses euphemistically called “town houses.” Having moved to Chester County to a big house on 7 acres of wooded land, I felt like I could breathe again. That feeling lasted for 25 years (1981 to 2006.) However, the need to break free from the oppressive taxes of Pennsylvania and losing electric power quite frequently whenever the wind picked up became an obsession with me. After the traumatic experience of selling my home in Pennsylvania and the nightmare of packing up all my belongings and moving to Delaware, I know now it was all worth it. Every day when I step out of my house I am greeting with a show in the sky. The picture featured on this blog is of the sunrise that greeted me as I opened my front door last Monday, November 12th. In the evening, I enjoy the always different sunsets that are displayed through my wall of windows in my sun room and great room. I purposely built this house with the front facing east to take advantage of the sunrise. In the evening, I can relax in my sun room or great room and experience the always spectacular sunsets. The stock market can have its gyrations, dire predictions of an economic meltdown continue, but one day still leads to another and I still absolutely love my new home in Delaware. I paid a high price to relocate myself to the Diamond State but it was well worth it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Visit to Cousin Elsie







In 1994 I began my research into my Tipton family genealogy. For many years I had wondered where my father came from. All I knew was that he was a “hillbilly” from Pigeon Roost, North Carolina. He and his eight brothers and parents moved to Pennsylvania around 1929, when my Father was nine years old to work as tenant farm labor on their Uncle Don Byrd’s farm near Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. Two more brothers would be born in Pennsylvania. As anyone who has studied their family tree knows, the first place you start is to ask your parents questions. What were their parent’s names and when were they born? Then you ask what were your grandparents’ names and when were they born? Well, my dad didn’t even know his grandparents names. Early on, I learned when one road comes to a dead end, you go down another road. In this case I asked another relative, my Uncle Ed. He knew the name of his grandfather, my great-grandfather (it was Hiram Tipton born 05 Mar 1852 - died 1933.) Thus began my long quest to find my roots. Over the years since then I have sometimes devoted much time researching my family history. However, there have been periods of time in which my job so consumed my life, that I had to take a leave from family genealogy research. Then I had the problem of selling my house in Pennsylvania and moving to my retirement home here in Delaware that ate up over two years of my time. What happened, before I realized it, 10 to 12 years had slipped by. During that time, some of my older relatives passed on, thus ending the most valuable source of information that any genealogist, amateur or professional could have. One such missed opportunity occurred in 1996 when I discovered that my Mother’s aunt was still alive. She was 96 years old and lived in West Chester, only six miles from where I lived and worked in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. My grandmother died when my Mother was only two years old. Here was an opportunity to talk to my grandmother’s sister and find out what my maternal grandmother was like. Also, it was an opportunity to find out about that side of my Mother’s family of which I knew very little. I called her and she was clear of mind and anxious to talk to me. Alas, I was so caught up in my work that by the time I got around to calling her again, she had died. I tried not to make that mistake again. I had several interviews with my Aunt Peg (Mrs. John Henry Tipton, born 14 Jun 1915 - died 15 Jan 2006), before she died at 90 years old a few years ago. Before she passed on, she loaned me several priceless old family photos, including one of my great grandfather that I had never seen before. I scanned those photos into my computer and now some of them are posted on the Internet for posterity. Last week I called my Father’s first cousin, Elsie Mae Gouge Kilby (born February 24, 1922.) Mrs. Kilby is also clear of mind and asked me to stop by “anytime” to visit her. That is what I did today. She lives in Kelton, Pennsylvania, right over the border between Delaware and Pennsylvania. Ironically, her house is just a short detour from the route I take to my Mother’s house in Pennsylvania. Bill and arrived at the agreed upon time, 1 pm. She lives on a heavily traveled turn on Rt. 796, Jennersville Road in a house that is over a hundred years old. Her divorced son lives with her and is her caretaker. Coincidentally by Mother also lives with her divorced son who watches over her. Elsie Mae Gouge Kilby is the daughter of David Gouge (born 05 Mar 1881 died 1946) and Cynthia Abigail “Abby” Tipton born 29 Aug 1880 died 30 Apr 1971). Abby Tipton was the older sister of my grandfather Fieldon Jacob Tipton, Sr. (born 04 Jun 1884 – died 08 May 1939).
Mrs. Kilby welcomed Bill and me into her 100 year old home. She introduced us to her son, Robert “Buster” Kilby. We got settled into our seats and I took out my family lineage sheets for her family. I read dates to confirm with her. She corrected me on some dates, and added dates that I did not have. She shared some anecdotes with me like the time she and her husband eloped to Elkton Maryland with my Uncle Ed Tipton and his future wife Mable Thompson to get married. They wanted to keep it secret but the news of their marriage was in the newspapers the next day so the "secret" was out. Cousin Elsie told me that "back in the day" one got married "first." Then she produced a reprinted picture of her father David Gouge as a young man when he attended Milligan College with his first cousin, David Edwards. This was exactly what I was hoping for. Unfortunately, this wasn’t an original picture but a poor ink jet copy. I asked her if I could borrow the original copy so I could scan it into my computer. She said she would have to “dig the pictures out” and asked if I could stop back because she couldn’t do it now because she was recovering form a recent fall. I gave her reprints of pictures of my grandfather, grandmother and her brother. She did loan be two old pictures, one of her brothers and sisters and mother taken in 1963. The other picture was of her and her sister Mary with their mother taken about 1918. What I’m really after is that picture of her father looking handsome and majestic in is suit along with his cousin in their official college picture. Another cousin, Anne Tipton (born 21 Aug 1935), had loaned me a picture of her father, George Britt Tipton (born 31 Mar 1897 – died 28 Dec 1969), son of my grandfather’s older brother Dove Tipton (born 11 Nov 1875 – died 22 Jul 1951) that was also his official Milligan College student photo. Finding these grand old photos of these handsome young men and beautiful women is one of the great joys of discovery when doing genealogy research. While I like adding dates of birth and death and marriages and children, the special treats are when old photos are discovered. With these old photos I can scan them into my computer and eventually post them to the Internet so these individuals will never be forgotten. I add these photos to my family tree and now I also add them to the web site Find A Grave.com. That is the true joy for me in genealogy. First I discover my roots. Secondly, by permanently recording this information I leave a legacy for future generations. It is a good feeling. Today was a good day. I’m looking forward to my return visit to Cousin Elsie.

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Birthday Boy





Another birthday ended yesterday. This year it was somewhat low key. I worked at the Inn during the day. I hung around about an hour after my shift ended at 3 pm (after clocking out of course) to show Monica (my relief) this fabulous new web site called Find A Grave.com. Then it was off to home, shower and change to meet my friends at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach for our regular Sunday night get together. Thus ended a good day. At 67 years old, it was agreed that I am officially an Old Geezer. Checking my e-mails this morning, I see my birthday greetings continue. The first e-mail I opened was from my longtime friend (from 3rd grade elementary school when we used to trade comic books), Larry. Larry is one of the most inventive and artistic people that I have known in my lifetime. It has always puzzled me why his artistic talent wasn't discovered long ago. In my mind Lar (as we who know him well call him - he also goes by the non de plume of "LEM") should have been as rich an famous as a Steve Allen. A writer, poet, artist and all around bon vivant. With Lar's permission (and credit given to him) this is a copy of the e-mail I received from LAR:














Happy Birthday and thanks for sharing so many of your years with me between that first yesterday and that last future today.

Speak of the good days
And all the good timesQuickly.
Time marches on.
Drink the fine vine.
Lift up your cup, be drunk!
The grape was a good year.
Drink long and deeply sample.
The grand year is nearly drank.
Reminisce good timesOver our good wines.
All the good times, if they were,They are less dead.
The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men,
As if they exist.Exactly as if they were.
May we have good times the rest of the times left us.
Larry


I'll drink to that!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Happy Birthday!



November 9, 1941 at approximately 9:30 A.M. Sunday morning a baby boy was born to 21 year old Isaac Walter Tipton and 17 year old Betty Louise Hadfield Tipton at the Chester County Hospital in West Chester, Pennsylvania. This child was this young couple's first child. Another son was born April 8, 1943, and June 10, 1944. The birth was difficult. Forceps had to be used to pull the baby out. Once the baby was out, its head was covered in blood. The forceps had cut to the bone of the baby's right eye socket. A millimeter of an inch more and the baby would have lost its right eye. Thus, I used the first of my nine lives, barely 10 minutes into this world. Yes, that baby was me. The person who is writing this blog. Sixty seven years later it is safe to say that baby has had quite an adventure. He has made a few waves along the way. He has angered a few people and, hopefully, enriched the lives of many more. Now that baby is comfortably into his retirement years. He is looking back over his life, with few regrets I might add. Shortly he will go out with friends at a local eatery in Rehoboth Beach to celebrate this momentous occasion. The picture fetured on this blog was taken early this morning of the establishment where I work in Lewes, Delaware. A later posting will show where I celebrated my birthday. All is well in the world of this birthday boy. I have much to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The Revolution Has Arrived


Just in case any of my die hard Republican friends and family think that I am alone in welcoming the election of Barack Obama as the 44th president of the United States, take a look at this picture folks. I'm not alone. There are a "few" other folks who agree with me. I recently sent e-mails to my friends on the right asking them if they were nervous or apprehensive. Then I told them, "now you know how I felt after the election of 2000 and 2004." Then I advised them to "fasten their seat belts because it's going to be a bumpy ride." The last eight years of the Bush-Cheney rule were almost unbearable. Thank God we're coming out of that long, dark tunnel coming into the open light.

Searching For Gravestones In Cemeteries


A few weeks ago, my distant cousin (Tim Tipton), and fellow genealogist researcher called me to inform me that he was finding more Tipton headstones in cemeteries in North Carolina and Tennessee. For many years I have searched cemeteries for records of my ancestors. I've taken many pictures of their headstones. Tim has been posting his photos and information to the Find A Grave.com website. Ironically, this web site was founded by another Tipton, a Jim Tipton. There must be something in the Tipton gene that pulls us towards exploring cemeteries. Through Tim Tipton and another fellow Tipton researcher, Paul Tipton of California I discovered Find a Grave.com. Now I am posting my own cemetery photos to this web site. From my location here in the southern most county of Delaware, Sussex County, I had determined that most of the cemeteries in my area are unrecorded on Find a Grave.com. Thus, I have another "hobby." It's more like a passion. The extra dividend this pays is that I can also look for cemeteries and take photo requests for friends and relatives who live far away and cannot visit the final resting places of their loved ones. Below is the text of an e-mail that I recently sent to a fellow Find A Grave.com member who is going to take photos of the final resting places of my partner. His Mother and Father are buried in the Toccoa City Cemetery located in Toccoa, Georgia. All of us who are posting to Find a Grave.com are volunteers. It is heartening to know that there are so many volunteers who are willing take their own time to help bring peace to distant relatives of the deceased. This has really been an excellent week. We have elected a president that gives us new hope for a better future. Barack Obama has promised to end the divisiveness that has poisoned this country for far too long. The world has shown by its joyous reaction to the election of Barack Obama that we're on the way to be respected again in the world community. It is indeed heartening to me to know that there are still unselfish people in the world who are willing to help and make life better for all of us. It is a good feeling. Below is the text of my e-mail to my fellow photo volunteer:

Ron,

At first I put graves on findagrave, but I do so many hundreds of photos for myself and everybody else I know, I could not live long enough to post them all on findagrave. So I just e-mail the photos to the people that request them and ask them to post on findagrave. I wish I had time to do my own. Some of my "cousins" and I have several private family web sites, and I post all my photos on there. There are several people I have met on findagrave that I take pictures of any of their family names I find when I'm out and about - and I'm out and about EVERYWHERE in about a 50 mile radius, so you never know what you might run up on. And invariably some of the ones I find are people in their family they never knew existed. So it's a lot of fun, and I enjoy it - it's really the only serious hobby I have.

Anyway, I just took my dogs out - and it's raining! But maybe it will clear over the week-end so I can get the photos.

Pat

Pat,

Guess what? This morning I found two of the three photo requests that I had from Find A Grave.com. I am so happy that I found them. These are my firsts photo requests. This is the fourth time I've been to the St. Johnstown Cemetery in Greenwood, Delaware. I recently retired to Delaware (November 2006) from Pennsylvania. I'm still learning my way around down here. I've never been to this cemetery. It was an adventure for me to go to that part of the state for the first time. This is a learning experience, fulfilling photo requests for grave sites. I thought I would find the cemetery and, viola! There would be the grave. Nope. It didn't work that way. My first visit, it was so cold and windy (big time wind down here on the flat plains of seaside coastal Delaware) that I could hardly stand it. I returned and couldn't find the graves that I was looking for (Lester Cleaves, Matthew Faulkner, and Lonnie McAdams.) Finally, I called the church pastor. She didn't know where they were buried (it's a large church graveyard - very pretty) and she advised me to call the man who actually buried the decedents. I called him and he told me the location of Mr. Cleaves who, as I suspected, didn't have a headstone yet (from his picture, he looks like he comes from very humble circumstances). I couldn't find them on the third visit. After receiving your e-mails last night, I decided to give it another push. This morning I made the trip again under cloudy skies. The skies threatened rain. However, I was determined to find Mr. Cleaves' final resting place. I have the print out of his picture looking at me whenever I'm at my computer. It makes me feel guilty that I haven't found him yet. Well, this morning, about the third grave site I checked, there he was! Some plastic flowers, and a little plastic covered market with Mr. Cleaves visage starring at me. I found him! Quickly, I took a picture before the rains began to fall. Below is Mr. Cleaves.


Now I was on a mission. I wanted to find the other two photo requests. One was for a one and a half year old baby named Matthew James "Matt" Faulkner. His smiling, sweet little face also looks at me (it's on a print out I have clipped to my clipboard near my computer) every day when I'm on the computer. I was convinced that this baby was at the big Faulkner headstone with all the plastic flowers. However, I couldn't find a place marking for him. I was looking for one of those plastic ones since he only died this year. Well, this morning I found him. He was located away from the family Faulkner headstones and by himself. The photo of his grave site is below:

Coincidentally, his final resting place was very near Mr. Cleaves' grave. I quickly took this picture and then began looking for my last photo request for the grave sit of Lonnie McAdams. However, the rain really started to fall now, so I had to leave. I will return when the weather is more accommodating. One thing about searching and exploring cemeteries, you know they are not going anywhere.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Africa Is A Continent



If any of you happen to run into the former Republican vice presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, could you please inform her that Africa is a continent, not a country. Apparently, according to unnamed members of the McCain campaign, Palin thought Africa WAS A COUNTRY! She thought South Africa was PART OF THE COUNTRY OF AFRICA. Wait, it gets even better. She didn't know what countries make up NAFTA! The North American Free Trade Agreement. Uh Sarah, those countries are:

Canada

The United States

Mexico

When I first heard this news, it briefly knocked the wind out of me. A third grader knows that Africa is a continent! Palin, being the governor of Alaska, one would think would know what countries comprised the North American Free Trade Agreement. What took my breath away was the fact this this person could have been one heartbeat away from the presidency of the most powerful country in the world. Apparently this lack of knowledge wasn't the McCain campaign's main problem with Sarah Palin. Their problem was that she refused to be controlled. Thus, they called her a "Diva." Why is this news coming from unnamed sources within the McCain campaign? I think it's because they realized they couldn't control her. She wouldn't be their puppet. This woman truly believes she is all that. And that my friends, is really scary. One heartbeat away. Think of it. We came that close.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Why McCain Lost




Simply put, the American voter this time voted for hope, not fear. The current version of the Republicans who were in control of the government has basically put the message out “Vote for us or die.” This was the message of George Bush, senior and junior. It was to win at all cost by whatever means. McCain accepted this methodology. He conducted a slash and burn campaign against Barack Obama, painting him as “dangerous and untested.” Perhaps the death knell of McCain’s campaign for the presidency was his selection of Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska as his running mate. Up until his selection of Palin, McCain’s strongest case against Obama was that he (McCain) had more experience than Obama. McCain threw that argument out the door when he selected Palin. Then McCain tried, unsuccessfully, to adopt the mantle as a “change candidate.” McCain underestimated the intelligence of the American voter not to figure out that McCain was trying to hoodwink them. His fate was sealed when Sarah Palin hit the campaign trail and pushed the lie that Obama “palled around” with a terrorist. Day after day, we were subjected to this vile invective spewing from Ms. Palin’s lipstick tattooed lipstick lips. Day after day we were subjected to McCain as the Angry Old Man pounding the podium with his forefingers, his face twisted in anger, as an occasionally a smug smile crept across his face, when he read (what he considered) a particularly good dig at Obama. The test was to turn off the sound on the TV and watch the visual of the two different candidates. Obama looked cool and calm. McCain looked like an angry penguin pounding the lectern. Sarah Palin looked like what she is, an uninformed, self-satisfied, smug, Far Right, patronizing (she “tolerates” gays) religious extremist who doesn’t know how ignorant she is and doesn’t care. Her face showed true pleasure every time she let loose another steam of invective insults against Barack Obama. What she didn’t realize, that was every time she exercised her slashed and burn campaign tactics against Obama, she was losing more of the Undecided Vote. John McCain reminded us again and again that he was a POW and “had the scars to prove it”, assuming that that was a qualification to be president of the United States. He claimed to be the “change” candidate. This is a claim from a man who doesn’t know how to use e-mail, the basic form of communication in the United States in the year 2008. He professed to help the veterans but he consistently voted against increased funding for the Veterans Administration. John McCain claimed to be aware of how the middle class is suffering in this economy but he didn’t even know how many homes he owned. Just this morning it was reported on the news that Sarah Palin thought Africa was a country. The truth is Sarah Palin has a talent for reading a script (probably due to her earlier stint as a TV weather girl) but is unable to complete a sentence on her own; noun, verb and direct object. Both candidates were unqualified. McCain lacked the temperament (erratic.) Palin lacked the intelligence. They ran a totally negative and divisive campaign. Their efforts to try and suggest that Obama was some kind of a member of a terrorist sleeper cell failed miserably. The fear campaign didn’t work this time. It is time for Karl Rove and his acolytes to disappear in the dustbin of history. This time, hope overcame fear.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Day After



It's still sinking in. Barack Obama won the presidency of the United State of America. I have received several e-mails from friends of mine who are as happy as I am with the outcome of this presidential election. Interestingly, I haven't received one e-mail from friends or family who supported the McCain/Palin Republican ticket. I hope as time goes by they will realize that this country needed change and Barack Obama was the person to lead us to a better future. I am so excited. I don't think I have every felt this way before in my life. The only time I felt even close was when the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series in 1980. However, that feeling now pales in comparison to the feeling I have now with the knowledge that Barack Obama will be the president of our country for the next four, and hopefully, eight years. Once again our country will be inclusive instead of divisive as it has been the past eight years. No longer will we have to watch the smug countenance of our current president smirking as he sinks deeper in disfavor with the American public. Now is the time for all of us to join together and bring this country back together.

Below is the content of an e-mail that a good friend (who lives in center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvnaia, sent to me this morning. The feelings he expresses are mine exactly.

Ron,

I am sitting here writing this at 1:00 a.m. because I wouldn't be able to sleep anyway with the screaming and car horns that occur every few moments because of Obama's victory. It is bittersweet in a way because I used to like John McCain. Unfortunately the closer he got to Election Day the more he turned into George Bush Lite. And when he chose Sarah Palin as running mate I began to seriously question his intelligence. The thought of her as president was just too awful to contemplate. Although I have read that her down home folksy way of talking is not the way she acts in Alaska I cringed at the thought of her going overseas to talk to the heads of other countries. Nevertheless I am very content to send her back to Alaska and now maybe her daughter won't have to marry that red neck clod. And what were they waiting for anyway.

I sympathize with your yearning for the Republican Party as it used to be. Their was a time when I could live with a Republican president but the party has been hijacked by the right-wing religious nuts. I used to say there were only three Republican senators left: Olympia Snow and the other senator from Maine (I can never remember her name) and Lionel Chaffee. He unfortunately lost his seat in the last election. And then I came across another one: Chuck Hagel from Nebraska. I just finished reading an article about him in the November 3rd issue of the New Yorker. He seems to be one of the few Republican senators with morals. One of his comments was: "The most dangerous element of our political future in this country is candidates who debase and degrade the political process by straight-out lies and misleading spots on television. It's a cancer to our system." The article is much too long to try to type here but if you can find a copy of that issue of the New Yorker it is well worth the read. Unfortunately he is not running again mainly because he is disgusted with the Bush Administration and being told to shut up and be a "good" Republican. How sad that sometimes the best people are driven out by the worst.

We will see what the New Year brings. Obama will have his hands full. The one good thing is the "W" will be gone!!!

Don

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Barack Obama, President






It's official, Barack Obama is the next president of the United States of America. We have changed history. Savor the moment.

I Voted!






It's done. I voted. I was expecting a long line at the Brittingham Elementary School where I am registered to vote in Milton, Delaware. Upon driving in the parking lot of the school, I saw the line. The line snaked out into the parking lot of the school. Luckily, a big SUV just pulled out of a parking slot and I was able to pull in and park my red Subaru Forester. I placed my white sneakered feet at the end of the line. It wasn't too long before I was engaged in a conversation with some of my fellow voters standing in line. The older couple I was talking to were from New Jersey. They had relocated to Delaware as I did to escape the high school property taxes. Frequently, during our conversation, we noticed that some voters went right into the school. Who were they? VIPs? It wasn't too long until I found out that I was standing the wrong line. I was standing in the A-L line. Since my name is Tipton, that would mean I was to go to the M-Z line. Aha! That's where the other voters were going. So, I take my white sneakered feet out of the A-L line and go into the gymnasium of the elementary school and get in the much shorter line for voters whose names begging with the alphabetic characters M-Z. Inside, I could see how efficient the poll workers were moving the voters through the process. I know it's corny to say this, but I began to get a "rush" participating in the ultimate form of democracy. Again, it wasn't too long until I began talking to a fellow voter in my line. She was a very nice lady about my age. She and her husband were originally from Arizona and have retired to Delaware. She told me that she was the fourth oldest child of a family of fourteen children. She also told me that many of her family had moved to Delaware and now she was with family that also moved to Delaware in their retirement years. She asked me how I felt about the election. I told her that this was a historical day and I was glad I was part of it. She said "Well, I guess I know how you're voting." She told me that she was voting for the "other candidate" (we're being very nice to one another, both of us obviously avoiding getting into a heated political argument while standing in line to vote). Her concern was with my candidate's stand on the Right to Life. I told her that while I don't understand why any woman would want to abort a child I do believe in a woman's right to chose. This nice lady said "While your candidate is eloquent and can give a good speech" (she's obviously been buying into the Republican talking points), "eloquence sometimes masks bad policies." Then she equated Obama with Hitler (although not by name.) She said she had friends in Germany during the Holocaust and the German citizens also had an "eloquent speaking leader." Uh huh. Here we go. I could feel my blood boiling. However, I was determined not to get into a heated discussion in a voting line at the polling place. DETERMINED. I told her that perhaps I would have voted for McCain if he had picked George Romney as his running mate but since he picked Sarah Palin, I could not vote for him. I told her that Sarah Palin, when asked about gay rights, said she had a good friend who was a lesbian. Sarah said "while I would not have CHOSEN that lifestyle, she is still my friend." Sarah later went on to say that she "tolerates" gays. Um. Where do I start? First, I didn't chose to be gay. Second, I don't need to be tolerated. That said, my new found friend in the voting line said it is good to discuss these things. She said friends of hers have always said that one shouldn't discuss politics and religion. She said she disagreed. She said we should discuss politics and religion. I agree with her. What we have to remember is to respect one another and their views while we discuss our differences. That is the only way we learn. Then it was my turn to go into the voting booth. I voted straight (no pun intended) Democratic with one exception. I voted for Michael Castle for reelection as Delaware's lone member of the United States House of Representatives. I like Mike even if he is a Republican. Also, I have the impression that he more than "tolerates" gays and lesbians. After voting, I exited the voting booth. The lady that I was discussing politics with, told me she was pleased that we had a talk and wished me a good day. She seemed very sincere, as I'm sure she was. I also told her that I liked talking to her and wished her well. I was glad I had a conversation with her. I understand her concern. She said she was afraid for this country. I wish I could guarantee her that she need not be afraid. She shouldn't be. Change isn't easy. But I feel in my heart that the change this country is about to experience will bring us into a new age. No longer will we be a red and blue country. Patriotic parts of the country versus unpatriotic parts of the country. We are all one. That is what makes America great. The only thing that worried me today was that I didn't see one young voter. Not one. That worries me.

Election Day











As I awoke this morning, I heard a steady rain falling. It must be Election Day. After a long, long campaign, it is finally time to vote for the next president of the United States of America. I am very excited. Today we are witnessing history. Today the majority of voters will reject the failed policies of George W. Bush and his administration. Today the voters will reject the negative and divisive campaign of John McCain and Sarah Palin. Today this country will elect a president who will affirm that I am no longer a second class citizen just because of my sexual orientation. Today this country will elect Barack Obama as President of the United States of America.