Saturday, May 30, 2009

Then There Were None Left

The bluebird box is now empty. It only took one more day until the lone remaining baby bluebird took the plunge and left the bluebird box. Bill said he thinks he saw it on the neighbor's screen in porch roof, along with its brothers and sisters.

I cleaned out the nesting in the box and washed it down with hot water to kill the mites. I left the door open several hours for it to dry out. Now the box is ready for the next batch. Bill says he has already seen one of the adult bluebirds chase away other birds from the box. By this time next week I predict the bluebirds will have a new nest built in the box in preparation for the next batch of baby bluebirds.

I have three bluebird boxes in my back yard but this is the only bluebird box that is used by the bluebirds. The two other bluebird boxes are empty. I'm looking forward to the day when all three bluebird boxes are producing baby bluebirds. There is nothing like the feeling of seeing bluebirds in your back yard, flying around with sun shining off of their iridescent blue feathered wings. I'll take that experience any day over fighting the traffic on Route 1 to get to Rehoboth Beach to feed a parking meter and then lay on the beach and bake in the sun.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Then There Was One Left

Yesterday afternoon, as Bill was preparing to mow the lawn he noticed an increase in activity around the bluebird house. He went over to the bluebird house and saw a baby bluebird hiding in the cover at the base of the bluebird house. Bill came in and told me that one of the baby bluebirds was out of the box and asked me if I wanted to take pictures. I got my camera and rushed outside.

I had suspected that the baby bluebirds would be out ("pop") of their box and that is just what happened. The baby bluebirds were out trying their new wings. From my experience with raising two bluebird batches from this same box last year I knew that the baby bluebirds didn't fly right out of the box and into the wild blue yonder. They take a day or two flopping around in the ground cover and shrubbery around the bluebird box until their wings are ready for full flight. That is what was happening yesterday afternoon.

I cautioned Bill not to disturb the baby bluebirds too much or else they would flop right through the fence that separates our property from our neighbor's property. My neighbor doesn't have any ground cover for the baby bluebirds but he does have two dogs which he lets out in the afternoon. Those dogs would make quick work of any baby bluebird flopping around in panic on the ground in my neighbor's back yard mined with stale dog poop.

As I usually do when the baby bluebirds exit their box, I checked the box. Much to my surprise I discovered one baby bluebird was still in the box. Cowering in the corner of the poop filled bluebird box, the poor thing seemed to know it missed the train. This baby bluebird must have been in back of the bird box and didn't get feed as much as the other three baby bluebirds in the box. I did notice that the baby bluebird nearest the entrance was the biggest. I'm sure the parents tried to get food to the babies in the back but this little one must have really been far back. More proof that the random chance of birth order has consequences.

Initially I was concerned that the parents would forget the one baby bluebird left in the box but I'm sure they have encountered this situation before. The adult bluebirds continue to feed the three baby bluebirds that are out of the box. Bill has seen them also feed the one remaining baby still in the house. Maybe today the little one will join its brothers and sisters outside and start on its life adventure in this wonderful but dangerous world. This is the one time I'm glad I don't have cats that are roaming the grounds.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Ready to Pop

Those baby bluebirds, how fast they grow. They are ready to pop out of that blue bird house. Maybe today or tomorrow. I hope it's a sunny day when they make their grand entry into the world.

Yesterday I cleaned out two more house sparrow nests out of the Purple Martin house. I think that should do it. I haven't seen the sparrows rebuilding their nest. Maybe they got the message, build somewhere else.

Right after I took this baby bluebird photo this morning, I noticed the sparrow watching me from the perch on top of the bluebird house. Obviously trying to throw a guilt trip on me. Won't work buddy. You're outta here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Brothers Ronald, Isaac and John Tipton

Samuel Park Tipton
31 Mar 1934 - 15 Dec 2001

William Daniel Kelly
28 Sep 1928

George Lincoln Hadfield, Jr.
24 Apr 1920 - 05 Jul 1983

Unidentified soldier and John Hannum Tipton
29 Aug 1922 - 14 Sep 1962

Bruce Tipton
15 Oct 1931 - 28 Jun 1995

Bob McCamley, Richard Egan, Bill Allen, Ron Tipton
April 1960

Larry Meredith and Ron Tipton
August 1962

Today is Memorial Day in which this country recognizes and honors the services of all of our veterans. Join with me in honoring those who have given so much that we can live in freedom.

Note: Pictured above:

1) A composite picture produced by my sister-in-law Barbara Tipton of me and my two younger brothers during our tour of duty with the Army in the 60's.

2) My life partner of 45 years Bill Kelly during his tour of duty with the Air Force in Bamberg, Germany during the Fifties.

3) My Uncle Sam Tipton during his tour of duty with the U.S. Air Force in Greenland.

4) My Uncle George Lincoln Hadfield during his tour of duty with the U.S. Army Engineers during World War II in Germany.

5) My uncle John Hannum Tipton (on the right) during his tour of duty as a paratrooper with the U. S. Army during World War II. He spent two years as a prisoner of war in a German prison camp from which he escaped twice and was recaptured. He was released in 1945, a few months after his mother died thinking he had died in the war.

6) My Uncle Bruce Tipton during his tour of duty in the 50's in Germany.

7) A group picture of me and my friends Bill Allen, Bob McCamley and Dick Egan during our school at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts in April of 1960 for the Army Security Agency.

8) My friend Larry Meredith and me during a leave to my home in 1962 from my tour of duty with the National Security Agency at Ft. George G. Meade, Maryland.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Baby Bluebird Update

There was a lot of activity around the baby bluebird box this morning. The parents are making more and more frequent food drops at the entrance to the birdhouse. Usually, this means that the baby bluebirds are rapidly maturing and might be out of their home in a week or ten days. I will try to take a picture every day. This is today's picture taken about a half an hour ago. When I opened the front of the bird box, they started to come forward for their food but then they took one look at me and probably thought "You ain't my mama!"

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Memorial Day Weekend

Seeing the morning sun streaming through my home office window, I knew this first day of Memorial Day weekend was getting off to a good start. After checking my Facebook account and my e-mails, Bill and I got in his Jeep and drove down an almost deserted Route One to Zorba's in Rehoboth Beach for our weekly breakfast. At quarter after seven, we were the second customers in the Greek owned restaurant located next to the Food Lion in the strip mall on Route One. Bill ordered his egg sandwich with double mayonnaise and I ordered my pig snout mush (aka scrapple), one egg over easy, crispy home fries and one English muffin. The waitress informed us that the grill wasn't hot yet so our breakfast might take a little longer. Bill had his regular coffee with three sugars and two creams. I had my usual decaffeinated coffee with 1/3
packet of sugar one cream. After two coffees, our breakfast arrived. It was a good breakfast.

After breakfast Bill wanted to stop at The Home Depot of purchase a pole for the lamp he wants to put up in the back yard. I bought some room deodorizers. My sniffer is very sensitive so I buy a lot of these plug ins that smell up a room. I prefer the Air Wick scented oil light plug ins. I like a home to smell like a garden. Bill says he is glad he doesn't have a sniffer as sensitive as mine. I may be losing all my other senses but my sense of smell is stronger than ever.

After leaving Home Depot I went to the East Coast garden center and purchased (are you sitting down?) more plants! Yes Virginia, I purchased more annuals for planting. The flower bed in front of my house was lacking color if not plants. I needed some hot colors like red, coral, and purple. I purchased some Phlox plants and transplanted them in between the yellow pansies and pink impatiens. Now my front flower bed is complete.

In the afternoon I laid down to do some reading ("The Line of Beauty") and a little nap. Right about 3:30 the doorbell rings. It is our friend Jay. What a pleasant surprise. Bill and I like Jay very much. He was on his way to North Carolina for a week's stay at the family rental. He is staying at a friend's house in Rehoboth and stopped by for a short visit. He will be staying at our place next week on his way back from North Carolina.

We had a pleasant visit then Jay had to leave to see his friend Ed in Rehoboth. I had an idea, why not the three of us (me, Jay and his friend in Rehoboth who also happens to be my friend and former high school classmate.) We decided to go to dinner at the Villa Sorrento in Lewes. Our friend Ed had eaten there before and liked it enough to want to go back.

We arrived at the Villa Sorrento about 6:30. We're told that we should of made a reservation but they could probably take us at 7:00 o'clock. We wait outside the restaurant which is a busy parking lot next to the "Kicken Chicken" take out. Lots of interesting characters going in there including one beauty clad in short shorts and parked in the fire lane. She must have made at least half a dozen trips back and forth to "Kicken Chicken" to show off that big booty of hers. We already saw it once honey. Go home now.

We go back into the Villa Sorrento and are now told it that we will have to wait another 20 minutes. We go back outside and wait. The 20 minutes are up and Ed goes back in and is told we will have to wait some more. Ed had enough. He asked why is it taking so long to sit us? Another woman, possibly one of the owners, saw the commotion (Ed can throw a pretty good scene) comes over and tells Ed that we will be seated shortly. Thus mollified, Ed comes out and tells us "Sometimes the squeaky wheel get the oil." Ed likes cliches almost as much as I do.

What was the problem seating us? I have a suspicion it is because we are three men at a "family restaurant." I noticed several stares when we first entered the restaurant. Let me explain a little background here. The Rehoboth Beach and Lewes area has a heavy gay and lesbian populations. Most gays and lesbians patronize certain restaurants. There is an understanding that we are not welcomed at "family" restaurants. Now it could of been my imagination that we were being discouraged from patronizing this restaurant but I dont' think so. My friend Jay was getting the same vibe.

Finally we were seated, almost an hour and a half after we had arrived, the next phase of the "discouragement" started. Service was very slow. Very. About half the tables were empty now. The waitress returned and we placed our order. Now the next phase of "discouragement" began. Again, maybe it was my imagination but wasn't it taking a long time for our order to arrive? I thought so as did my friend Jay. Ed said they were probably extra busy because of the Memorial Day weekend. I wasn't buying it. Again, about two thirds of the tables were empy now. We were the only all male dining customers in the restaurant. We were still getting the "look" from some of the other restaurant patrons. Again, maybe it was my imagination. Maybe not

The waitress returned and said they were "working" on our order which was two eggplant Parmesans and one manicotti. How hard could it be? After almost an hour our order arrive. The waitress said the kitchen fell behind fulfilling takeout orders. Again, I wasn't buying this explanation. There were just too many delays and things happening to discourage us from eating at this establishment. Simply put, our dining experience wasn't passing the Duck Test. You know, "If it looks like a duck, walks like and duck, and sounds like a's a duck!" We saw a lot of duck talking and walking this evening.

Folks, the Villa Sorrento didn't pass the Duck Test. Simple as that. I won't return. The food was alright but there were just too many other things happening to discourage us from ever eating there again. I won't go back. The final proof was the hostess and her demeanor as we left. Did she say "Goodbye" or "See you again" or "Please return soon" or even a "Good night."
No, nothing. She said nothing. She just gave us The Look.

Thus my day ended on the sour note of homophobia. Which was shame because this evening was a beautiful summer evening. But, even down here in Gayberry (which is our nickname for the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes/Milton area, homophobia is alive and well. I would like to think this is all my imagination and I'm assuming my favorite position as a martyr. That's what I would like to think. But in my 67 years, I've been around long enough to know when I'm not wanted. And it doesn't feel any better now than it did the first time I encountered homophobia. This is something no straight person will ever understand.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baby Robin

Just got in from transplanting a couple of rose bushes and geraniums. Bill was taking video up near the border. He called to me to come quickly and see a baby robin in one of the white pine trees that border our property. I went, I saw and I took this picture.
This is Memorial Day weekend. Rt. 1 is already clogged with bicycle ladened SUV's headed to Rehoboth Beach and points south. Colorful beach towels, coconut smelling sun tan oils, red and white Coleman coolers headed for the hot sand of the beach. That's not the life for me. This is my life, creating a backyard sanctuary for my fine feathered friends. I even have sparrows in my backyard. This gives me so much more pleasure than fighting traffic on a four lane highway seeking the nearest parking meter. I'm loving my retirement in southern Delaware.

Bluebird Progress

Just a short blog today on the baby bluebird progress. Yesterday my Internet service provider, Verizon, was down for about 17 hours. That outage threw my schedule all out of whack. I worked a the hotel today. I just got off. I have three knock out rose bushes to plant and about ten geraniums to insert into planters. Then it's time to relax this weekend. Maybe watch a few DVD's, go out to breakfast with Bill, do a little yard work. One thing is for sure, I don't have to get out on Route One and join that parking lot. Oh yes, the Weekend Hord is descending as I type this entry.

The baby bluebirds are progressing quite well. I was concerned because there appears to be a dominant baby bluebird who is hogging the entry. I was afraid that the other four bluebirds wouldn't get enough food. However, I have observed the parents going around the dominant baby bluebird to make sure the others in the nest get their fair share. I guess the parents have dealt with this situation before. They know what they're doing.

More tomorrow once I get back on schedule. Thank you Verizon.

By the way, no surprises at work. The waters were roiling but seem to have settled down to a low simmer. Still not gone but not coming to a head either. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Good Morning Sunshine

What do we have here? Why it looks like the dominant member of the baby bluebird Batch of Five. A short while ago I went out to the bluebird box to take my latest progress picture of the first batch of bluebirds this year and this is what greeted me. Apparently, Skeeziks here figured out this is where the food come in and he (she) is going to be first in line. I dare not open the bluebird box lest this one falls out. Mama bluebird was nearby keeping observing. I think she knows that I am not a threat to her babies.

The Purple Martins are doing fine in their house. The one lower apartment that I had such a devil of a time getting rid of the sparrows is now occupied by a Purple Martin family. Last week when I threw out the sparrow nest; eggs and all. That did the trick. The sparrows have been coming back with decreasing frequency looking in the other apartments for its eggs but no go. This afternoon I checked an apartment on the front of Purple Martin house. I haven't seen any Purple Martin activity up there. I pulled down the birdhouse and checked the apartment. Sure enough it was stuffed to the ceiling with straw, weeds, trash and whatever else the sparrow could find. Out it went. And for good measure I checked the other hanging gourd. Yep. Another sparrow nest. That one went out too. No eggs in either one. They're building new nests as I type this. I'll wait until they lay their eggs then I'll take the whole shebang out. We can fight this battle all summer but there is no way any house sparrow is going to raise their young in any of my birdhouses. Tain't happening.

Today was/is a beautiful sunny day for a change. Rain is forecast for this weekend though. I just returned from Peppers, a local nursery, with geraniums for my container pots. My neighbor put out a beautiful geranium planter this morning. I cannot let that go unchallenged. Yes, we do the lawn thing and we have a friendly competition in container planting. I love living in a neighborhood like this where we can enjoy one another's efforts instead of battling the deer like I did at my home in Pennsylvania.

The waters of unrest continue to roil at work. I can't go into much detail on this blog but I did want to make the point that all is not well at work. Things should come to a head this week. I hope I can continue to work there because I love my job and the people I work with. I'm good at what I do but sometimes that's not enough when other factors come into play to sap one's enthusiasm about going to work. My rule has always been if I dread going to work, then I'm in the wrong job. I hope things work out at work but if not, then that is the way it was meant to be. Life will go on. I have a comfortable and lovely home. I have more than enough to do around here to keep me busy. Of course I wouldn't be making as many trips to Peppers.

Now I'm off to go outside and enjoy some of this late afternoon sun. This is my favorite time of day in the summer. Just me, one with nature. No worries about living up to someone else's unrealistic expectations. This is the way I live my life at this moment in time.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Moving On

One of the charter members of our group is leaving Gayberry, aka Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. My friend Cajun and I were informed last night by our other friend that he is selling his home and possibly moving to Florida (depending on if he can get the deal he wants on the condo he’s been scouting out.) Our friend is single and thus an anomaly in the gay population in this area. Most of the gays and lesbians in the Rehoboth/Lewes/Milton area are older, long term couples. Our friend who is leaving the area does not have a partner. My other friend in our little dining group last night used to have a partner but that relationship ended a couple years ago after a 31 year run. In fact, he has been debating whether or not to stay in the area also. It is something to think about because in this area, if you’re not part of a clique or in a relationship, life can be very lonely at times.

I don’t think this has much to do with the fact if one is gay or straight, to be single in today’s world be lonely if one permits it to be so. I am in a long term relationship (45 years) and life is very comfortable for me at this time. However, my partner is 80 years old (I’m 67 years old) and chances are that I will eventually end up single. There is no way I will partner up with anyone again. My life partner and I are still trying to work things out after 45 years; does anyone seriously think I would take on a whole new training prospect at my age? Hardly.

When I decided to move from my home in Pennsylvania, mainly to get away from the high taxes, I had several choices. One was Johnson City, Tennessee which is a beautiful part of the country and near and dear to my heart because of the Tipton-Haynes Historic Site. Johnson City is right across the border from the North Carolina Mountains and hollers where my father was born and where I yearn to do a lot of my genealogical research. Pop was a hillbilly.

Another area I considered retiring to was Greenville, South Carolina, home of my youngest brother. Greenville is a beautiful area of the country and not far from Johnson City. Both areas of the country offer mild winters which is very attractive to me in my declining years.

However, as attractive as both of these areas of the country are, I decided against moving there because of their hostility to gays and lesbians. If I would have any kind of life in those areas I would have to live a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” life. And that isn’t me. I don’t live a lie.

Thus, I decided to live in Sussex County, Delaware. While most of Delaware is as conservative as the rest of the South (we still can’t get a hate crimes bill out of the state legislature), the east side of Route 1 is not unfriendly towards gays and lesbians. Not that they’re all that open. After all, Rehoboth Beach is still known as the “Family Friendly Resort” of Washington D C and the Delmarva Peninsula. Don’t expect to see any gay pride marches down Rehoboth Avenue anytime soon. The gay population in the Rehoboth area is generally restricted to raising funds for AIDS awareness and police sensitivity training and drag shows for the amusement of the visiting tourists. While all good and worthwhile causes, the gay presence in the area is pretty much boxed in to the standard stereotypes one expects in a gay resort. Gays and lesbians bring a lot of money into the area and that pretty much explains the acceptance of the open presence of gays and lesbians in the area.

Even though gays and lesbians are still not considered equal to their straight counterparts (I doubt if I’ll ever see same sex marriages legalized in my lifetime while I’m living in Delaware), the discrimination is probably less here than it is in many other parts of the country. One of my favorite measures of success is that when Bill and I go shopping or eat out, we don’t get the stares we got in Pennsylvania. Down here in Gayberry, there are just too many same sex couples shopping and dining together to make that a novelty. It is a pleasure to go out and not get that “stare.” In Johnson City or Greenville, we would get the “stare”, guaranteed. We’ve been there and done that. No thank you. That’s not the way I want to live the rest of my life.

If I should ever become single again I’m not sure if I would continue to live in Delaware. That’s a bridge I’m going to have to cross when I come to it. As I said before, this is my last partner. No more. I’m too old to go through all that drama again. I’ve been fortunate and have made a few good friends in the 2 ½ years I have lived here. But still, it would be lonely living alone. It is hard coming home to an empty house. But I think I have a solution. I’ll get a cat.

I hope my friend finds happiness and contentment wherever he decides to move. He will be missed. He added to the fabric of our life.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Coming Out

My nephew recently was informed by his 16 year old niece that she was gay. This information stunned and shocked him. Of course the first thing he thought was "What did I do wrong?" That's what all parents think when they are faced with the knowledge that one of their children is gay. My Mother has the same reaction when I came out to her in April of 1963. Her first words were "What did I do wrong." I told her "You didn't do anything wrong, this is who I am. I've always been this way as long as I can remember." I realize that this is a lot of information for any parent to process. But it is a fact of life that is becoming more prevelant these days as more and more young people refuse to live their life as a lie and are coming out to their parents, relatives and friends.

Since my grand niece told me that she had informed her father she was gay, I've been debating if and how I should post this information to my blog. I have decided to post this information but I will withhold their names out of respect for their privacy. Anyone who knows me personally, knows who I am talking about. I only have one nephew (I have four nieces.) He has two daughters and is a wonderful father to both of them. He is divorced from his daughter's mother and know lives with his second wife and her teen aged son. Both of his daughters (my nieces) live with his former wife. He has an amicable relationship with his former wife and sees his daughters frequently. They both adore him and I can understand why. My nephew is a smart, funny, laid back kind of guy who is strong yet gentle. All the attributes that anyone could want in a dad or a nephew. He's also a pretty good looking guy too but that's no surprise, he has the family gene.

Below is my response to him after I read his comment this morning on Facebook that said "I'm going back to work today. I hope there are no more surprises."


I think you got hit by the Big One. You shouldn't get any more surprises unless you got one like I got back in 1998. My boss at (bank) called me in. I thought I was getting a raise because I was doing such a great job (which I was by the way). Oh no, he gave me a written warning for POOR JOB PERFORMANCE. Talk about a shocker. Of course I eventually got fired.

It wasn't until two years later I found out he was a homophobe and he had a track record of manufacturing "evidence" to fire gays like me who were out. How did I know? I found out quite by accident when I was talking to a co-worker at (bank) a couple years later who worked for him in Philadelphia. He also fired her because she was gay. Made up evidence of course. He got away with it both times. She told me he had fired three other guys who he knew were gay. They eventually got rid of him at (bank).

When I was fired I told Bill that he wouldn't last long at (bank) because they knew what he was doing. He didn't last. He was gone in less than a year. The president of the bank told me that he liked me but had to end the "conflict" between me and my boss and that's why he "terminated my employment" as he put it.

I had heard of gays being fired from their jobs just because they were gay but I didn't believe it could happen that easily. Especially, since I had done such an outstanding job of bringing the trust operations department back under control. But it happens (nephew). Imagine my surprise when I was talking to Terry D. (who used to work for him at (bank) in Philadelphia) and when I told her I used to work at (bank) for Bill E. she said "Oh him, he's a homophobe who fires gays." Now, she didn't know I was gay and I didn't know she was gay. I asked her how did she know that and she said "I'm gay and he fired me by manufacturing evidence that I was performing my job poorly. He's very clever how he goes about it but he does fire any gays who he finds out that are working for him." That's when I told her what happened to me. She then told me of three other instances she knew of that this guy fired gays. She said (bank) eventually got rid of him because they were afraid they were going to be sued. I tried to sue (took it all the way to the Human Relations Commission in Philadelphia for a hearing) but lost because I couldn’t produce any witnesses to his homophobia towards me.

Now I'm realistic enough to know that most straight people don't care about gays being fired just because they are gay but it is a life changing event if it happens to you. I prefer not to live my life as a lie and this is the risk that I take. I now work for an gay man at my present part-time job. I didn't know he was gay when he hired me, and I seriously doubt if my sexual orientation didn't have anything to do with why he hired me. We both just happened to be gay which we discovered through the course of several casual conversations over the next few months after I was hired. Neither one of us hides the fact that we are gay but we don't walk around with a sign on our necks saying we're gay either. But, I don't have to worry about being fired for being just who I am. I don't have to lie to keep my job.

Thought you would be interested in the greatest shock I ever had in my life. I hope I don't have any more like that just as I hope you don't have any more shocks. At least this year anyway.

Have a great day!

Uncle Ronnie

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Rainy Sunday in Lewes

On this gray and dreary Sunday in May I had little energy to do anything but read a book and take a long nap. After I did that I suggested to Bill that we hit the Dairy Queen again in Lewes for another take at one of those Banana Cream Pie Blizzard shakes. He agreed so off we went to Lewes.

It took awhile to get out of our development, located on the right side of Route 1. We had to wait for a break in the Horde traffic of vehicles , i.e., the weekenders returning to their homes in the after spending a rainy weekend in the Delmarva peninsula. Nary a vehicle going south on Rt. 1 but wave after head lighted wave of vehicles headed north on Rt. 1. Bless their hearts. I hope they left a lot of money during their weekend sojourn to our coastal shores.

Down the rain slicked highway we went, turning left on New Road for our entry into Lewes. Over the Canal Street Bridge to the Dairy Queen located on Savannah Road, one short block from the bay beach in Lewes. I didn't have to wait in line to order our 5,000 calorie concoctions that would ruin our appetites for the rest of the day (I'm still stuffed and it's 7:30 as I type this blog entry.) I assured the young lady that waited on me that sunny days are forecast for the coming week. She said "Anything to get rid of this boredom." Not a pretty day at the beach folks.

Thus armed with two medium gut busters (aka Banana Cream Pie Blizzards), I headed back out to the car. I asked Bill to hold my Blizzard while I cranked up the car to head down Cedar Road to the end of the canal where the Broadkill River meets the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal and Delaware Bay. We would indulge ourselves with our treats while watching the fishermen at the jetty. That all went well until one of the fishermen got a bite. Excitedly we watched as he reeled in his catch. I don't know what it was but it had what looked like wings. I think it was a sting ray. The fisherman got out a stick he had in his bag and beat it off his hook and threw it back into the bay. Nice. Now I really have an appetite. Another living creature ruined for the benefit of man.

We left the scene of the casual brutality. I didn't feel like going home so we took a ride down to the end of Pilottown Road. I wanted to see what was down there. Working at the front desk at the hotel I'm often asked questions about areas I haven't seen so today was a good time to see those areas. Hopefully I wouldn't see another fisherman pull some sea creature out of the ocean and beat it to death with a stick. We didn't. We had a nice ride and I found the University of Delaware's sea station (I can't remember the formal name of the place) at the end of Pilottown Road. Now I know. I still didn't feel like going home so I suggested to Bill that we visit our friend Big Bob who lives near Georgetown, Delaware. Off we go down Rt. 9 to Big Bob's hacienda.

Off we go down almost deserted, gray dreary roads this May Sunday in our coastal resort community. There was little evidence of the summertime hordes of tourists. Big Bob was home. We had a pleasant visit. I brought him up to date on the latest gossip. His partner Jim (aka "Big Jim") was at work. Thus we had a comfortable visit. No Jim Drama today. Maybe another day we can bear witness to one of Jim's hissy fits or meltdowns. We invited Big Bob over for dinner sometime in the next week or two when Jimbo is off at work. It must get lonely for our friend when he's left alone in his double wide without benefit of cable or a computer connection. And we always enjoy Big Bob's company.

Arriving home I checked out the bluebird box to see how this year's batch if progressing. As the picture on this blog shows, they are doing quite well. I have some good news on the Invasion of the Sparrows front. The Determined Sparrow finally gave up making a nest in that one Purple Martin apartment. The Purple Martins have taken over. The trick was to throw out the sparrow nest with the eggs in it. Prior to this I was just throwing out the sparrow nest. That wasn't working because they would just build a new sparrow nest. Next year I will only have one clean out of sparrow nests, after they lay their eggs. Not something I like to do but I have to make a safe place for my Purple Martins and bluebirds. The sparrows don't rule in my back yard.

Pictured also on this blog are my "Knock Out Roses", or as Bill calls them "Punched Out Roses." They are performing spectacularly well this year. Only problem is when the Japanese Beetles emerge in about two weeks. Then I will have a major problem on my had getting rid of those pests just like I did last year. I had to spray insecticides on my plants because it kills everything including beneficial insects like praying mantises of which I had many last year. I tried to pick off as many Japanese Beetles as I could last year but quickly became overwhelmed.

Sun is forecast for this week. Hallelujah! I know all this rain is good for the farmers but we're getting moldy with all this moisture. The dreariness of gray, raining days is draining the energy out of me. I'm way overdue in updating my "Tipton Tales and Trails" blog. I'm even overdue in a housecleaning but I just can't seem to get my engines started on days like this. I'm reminded of the old Beetles song on their Abbey Road album, "Here Comes the Sun." It can't come soon enough. Right now I feel like I'm in a yellow submarine.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Saturday in Lewes

Five-thirty a.m. arrived early this morning. I like to wake up before my radio alarm goes of. The alarm is alarming. Not a good way to start the day.

Usually, Saturday mornings are reserved for me and Bill to make our weekly trek to Zorba's restaurant in Rehoboth Beach for breakfast. Not that the breakfast is all that special at Zorba's but it is good to get Bill out of the house among other people at least once a week. Zorba's has a low kid and high gay clientele what we're comfortable with. Not that the restaurant is a loud and campy gay hangout, it isn't. Almost all of the gay clientele are old men like me and Bill who have been in a long term relationships. There is an occasional old straight couple who wanders in. The operative word here is "old." This isn't a young people's hangout, which is just fine with us. We're welcomed at Zorba's and we return the favor with ourpatronage.

This morning I had to work at the hotel. I filled in for a co-worker who was attending a Saturday morning class. I usually work nights (3 pm to 11 pm) but I like working the occasional day shift. I get to interact with my friends in housekeeping and work with my manager, who I like immensely. He is young enough (29) to be my grandson but he is one of the best bosses I've ever had. Knowledgeable, friendly and always backs me up. Can't ask for much more than that.

The hotel was full of guests which was a pleasant change from past weeks and months. The economy has put a serious drag on the hotel business, especially where I work. So much so that my hours were cut in half from two nights a week to one night a week. Lately I've been able to make up that time by filling in for my co-workers when they were unable to work. Because the hotel was full I was kept busy at the front desk answering a lot of questions from guests who are new to the Lewes, Delaware area. I didn't mind. This is my job and why they pay be the big bucks. So maybe the bucks aren't that big but I am paid well to do a job that I love.

After work I went home to Bill. The lawn service was supposed to stop by this morning and put another application on the lawn. They didn't. I made a big mistake by paying for the service up front. I thought I was doing them a favor by paying ahead in the winter time when business is slow for them. I forgot one of the basic rules of dealing with businesses who provide service, never pay full up front. If you do you're put on the back burner. They already have their money so where is the priority? I've been calling them for the past month about the "late spring" application to my lawn. Another couple or weeks we will be overlapping with the "early summer" application. Looks like I have to make another phone call Monday. I'm biting my tongue when I call but there is no way I'm paying ahead of time next year. If they weren't the best lawn service in the area, I would get a new lawn service.

After eating an early dinner (I didn't have lunch) I asked Bill if he would like to take a ride to the Dairy Queen in Lewes for a Blizzard. He answered in the affirmative. We took a leisurly drive down New Road to Lewes, across the canal bridge and at the end of Savannah Road we pulled into the Dairy Queen parking lot. I got Bill a Banana Cream Pie Blizzard and I got a medium vanilla cone. On the way back to my car where Bill was waiting I tongued Bill's Blizzard. Hmmmm good! I should have ordered one for myself. My vanilla cone seemed so plain now.

After giving Bill his Blizzard, I asked him to hold my cone while I drove up to the beach to park the car. This was the first time I've parked at the beach in Lewes (or anywhere down here in Delaware for that matter) since we moved to Delaware 2 1/2 years ago. We don't rush into things in our life.

After making short business of our Dairy Queen treats, I asked Bill if he would mind if I took a ride down Cedar Road to the Lewes Yacht Club. I frequently get requests from guests of the hotel on how to get to the yacht club but I've never been there myself. I always like to know where I'm giving directions too. So, we take another long and leisurely drive down Cedar Road to the Lewes Yacht Club. They had some kind of event going on, at least one hundred people were packed on the tent covered deck clinking their cocktail glasses, broadcasting in the distance the happy sounds of a cacophony of many conversations going on simultaneously.

I pulled up the car and parked outside the yacht club to watch the boats on the inlet where the Broadkill River meets the Rehoboth/Lewes Canal. What a delightful discovery! Bill and I stayed there at least an hour with several other cars and pick up trucks who were doing the same thing we were doing, passing away the late Saturday afternoon on this May day enjoying the peace and serenity of the bay breeze and watching the folks boat and fish on the inlet. Just a wonderful way to end the day. We will definitely do this again. And the next time I'm getting one of those Banana Cream Pie Blizzards, a large one.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Lunch in Lewes

Yesterday a friend of mine invited me to lunch with her and a couple of her girlfriends who were visiting her at her home on the Delaware Bay in Lewes. Her name is Judy. Judy was also my classmate in high school, Class of 1959. One of her visiting friends was also my classmate from high school. Her name is also Judy. Yes, “Judy, Judy” a la Cary Grant or Tony Curtis doing his impression of Cary Grant in the movie “Some Like it Hot.” I didn’t do that joke yesterday.

The second “Judy” was also my childhood friend from grade school. She and her family lived just up the street from me on Washington Avenue in Downingtown, PA. We went to grade school together then high school. After graduating from high school in 1959 we lost touch for many years but we renewed our friendship a few years ago.

The third member of our lunch party was Esther. I only met her a few months ago through the first Judy. Esther and her recently deceased husband were longtime friends of Judy and her husband Jack. I probably shouldn’t get too more involved in explaining these relationships in this blog because even I’m getting confused now.

The point I wanted to make was yesterday’s lunch excursion is just another reason why I love my retirement so much and why I like living in southern Delaware. When Judy called to ask if I was available for lunch I said “Absolutely!” I didn’t have to worry about getting a day off from work. Actually, it was lucky I wasn’t scheduled for work yesterday. I was able to make a spontaneous decision and go to lunch with the ladies.

Judy asked me where I wanted to go. I suggested Agave, a new Mexican restaurant in Lewes that has been getting good reviews. Since I work at a nearby bed and breakfast, I’m often asked by the guests of the hotel for places to eat. I feel more comfortable and confident suggesting restaurants at which I have eaten myself. Agave was one of those restaurants at which I haven’t eaten as of yet. I was really curious about Agave since I heard that Laura Bush (wife of our former president) ate there last year during a visit to a couple of her friends in Lewes. In fact, the first “Judy” was there when Laura Bush made her impromptu visit last summer.

Well, I wasn’t disappointed. While the interior of the restaurant itself is very small, the service was excellent as well as the food. If I had any complaint at all, it would be the same one the first Judy had, it’s too noisy. The restaurant has tile floors and a very small interior. The sound of patrons talking tends to bounce off the walls and floor. We did quite a bit of shouting in order to hear one another. The restaurant isn't conducive to intimate conversations. Any conversation you have will be heard by the other patrons of the restaurant.

As I said before, the food was good. Although this is a Mexican food restaurant, the food isn’t the typical Tex-Mex concoctions. Everything was fresh and original. The servings were large so no one went hungry. I had Chicken Quesadilla. While not as good as the Chicken Quesadilla I get at the Brickside Grille in Exton, Pennsylvania, it was still good. I especially like the cheese filling. I wasn’t as pleased with the salsa though. I have a partiality to fresh made salsa but I find most Mexican restaurants serve up a tomato sauce based salsa which I don’t find appetizing at all. But that’s just me.

The second Judy had a wonderful Mango salad which she generously shared with everyone (yes, it was that big.) The salad consisted of fresh Mangos, pine nuts, and some kind of cheese mixture (probably cottage cheese) on a bed of Romaine lettuce. What really made the salad tasty was fresh crumbled bacon on top. This was the first time in any restaurant in Delaware that I have ever been served freshly cooked bacon. The other times I’ve been served cold bacon that obviously had been cooked hours or even days before. Either that or the bacon wasn’t cooked. I’ve since been told that if I want cooked bacon I have to ask for “crispy bacon.” Oh, okay. Apparently if one doesn’t ask for “crispy bacon” one is served cold, raw, rubbery bacon. Now I know.

After lunch I took my friends for a tour of the bed and breakfast where I worked, which was located nearby. Lewes is a quaint, New England type of town with many lovely little shops and fine dining. I was glad I had the opportunity to take my friends to where I worked and introduce them to some of my co-workers. In fact, as we were exiting one of the VIP suites, we ran into my boss and the owner of the bed and breakfast. I am proud to say this was the perfect opportunity to impress my boss with my recently acquired etiquette training. I introduced my friends to him as “I would like to introduce TO YOU Mr. ………” Note I didn’t say “I would like to introduce YOU TO Mr……..” I never knew there was a difference but apparently there is. After I made the introductions he seemed please, my friends were pleased and I was pleased.

My friends and I ventured out into the 30 MPH gusting winds and headed for our respective cars. Thus we ended a delightful mid day interlude for us four retirees. With their wind blown hair do’s the ladies headed out for more shopping. Me, with the short hair, my hat on so as not to blow out of place what few remaining hairs I have on my scalp, I headed for home and a nap. I’m still working off that five hour round trip to Pennsylvania.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Left My Hat in Pennsylvania

Tony Bennett may have left his heart in San Francisco but I left my hat in Pennsylvania yesterday.

Yesterday Bill and I left early from our home near Milton, Delaware for the 2 ½ drive to Pennsylvania. The skies were clear and the sun shone brightly as we shot up Route 1 towards Rt. 896 for Newark, Delaware. Yesterday was one of those rare sunny days sandwiched in between the rain and cloudy skies this spring. We enjoyed viewing all the greenery on our way up to Pennsylvania. It was a lovely trip on a beautiful spring day. We couldn't have asked for a better day to make a trip.

My Mom and brother weren’t home when I first arrived at their house on Hopewell. They arrived as I was taking pictures of their house of all the fresh new green growth around their snug little ranch house. My brother drove up in his new red Toyota RAV with our Mom in the passenger seat. I go to help her out. She doesn’t want my help. Uh oh, she’s upset about something. She’s got something worked up in her mind that she’s mad at me. I’m not sure if it is our differing political views (she and my brother only watch Fox News and believe everything they see and hear on that faux news channel, including that Nancy Pelosi is the devil incarnate) or she’s mad because I didn’t visit her on Mother’s Day. Last year she was mad because I forgot to send her a Mother’s Day card. I made up for that this year, I sent her three cards over a period of a month prior to Mother’s Day. She didn't say anything about receiving any of them.

We all go down to the house. I try to make small talk. She is having none of it. She obviously has herself worked up into a state. Now here is the problem, this isn’t the Mother I’ve known for my 67 years. This is someone different. Yes, she is in pain daily from her 86 year old body. She recently developed Type 2 diabetes. She is on a restricted diet. She says her food has no taste these days. She has a balance problem. And, most of all, she still misses my father who died in August of 2000. She’s never been the same since he died. They were joined at the hip. When he died, much of her whole sense of purpose of living was gone. My Mother gets very depressed. She is depressed most of the time. Each time I see her it is harder and harder to bring her out of her depression.

Before I left I wanted to take some pictures of us outside in the beautiful spring day sunlight. My brother has two chairs in the driveway. My Mother has always liked to sit outside with someone and her cats. They used to have the chairs up in the garden but now I see they’re in the driveway. Maybe she wants to see the cars going by on the road or maybe she wants to see who is driving up the driveway. She likes to watch from a distance but would never go to a senior citizen center or anything like that for activity. Sitting in the chairs probably brings back memories of all the years she and my Pop used to sit in the same chairs near their garden at the end of a long day. The garden is no longer there now since my Father has died. It is an overgrown weed patch. There is nothing to see up there now.

My younger brother lives with and takes care of our Mother. She has an open invitation to live with me and also with my other brother in South Carolina. She can split the time between the three of us. But, she prefers to stay at her home of 50 years. My brothers and I have acceded to her wish as long as she can get around. Plus, she wants to be near her two cats, Molly and Rusty. She has always used the excuse of caring for her cats as a reason why she couldn’t move to my brother’s place in South Carolina. Both cats are older now (I think 16 years old.) Rusty isn’t doing well and may not be with us much longer. Molly is as fat and contented as ever and continues to act as a bed buddy for my Mom. Molly gives her a great deal of contentment and we don’t want to separate Mom from "Miss Martha", as she calls her longtime feline friend.

When it came time for me to leave, it was awkward. She told me that she didn’t think she would be around “too much longer.” She’s said this before. I’ve told her that we’re all going to die, we just don’t know when. I don’t know what else to say to her.

I drove away feeling guilty as usual. I picked Bill at the end of Hopewell Road. While I was visiting my Mother he was taking videos of the road we used to live on. Bill never wanted to move from Pennsylvania. He always gets very sad when he revisits the heavily wooded area were we used to live. He loves the hills and the winding roads. None of which we have in Delaware. All we have down here is open flat land with perfectly straight roads and a lot of wind. He's not happy living in Delaware and visiting Pennsylvania only reemphasises that feeling to him. I know I'm going to hear about that all the way back to Delaware. But, he's got a video now that he can watch. I promised him I would buy our old property back when I win the Powerball lottery. That hasn't happened yet but I'm way overdue. Any day now.

About an hour later we stopped for gas. I looked for my Colorado Rockies (CR) black hat with purple lettering. I didn’t have it. There you have it; I was so upset that I “left my hat in Pennsylvania.” When I got home to Delaware I called my Mother to confirm that I did leave my hat. She said I did. She said she would put it on my father’s bed and I could get it the next time I’m up. That will be in June. I will be attending the Downingtown High School Class of 2009 graduation ceremonies as a special guest because my DHS class of 1959 is celebrating their 50th anniversary this year.

My next trip I’ll stay at least two days. This running up and back in the same day is a killer for me and Bill and I don’t have enough time to spend with my Mom. I’m hoping my next visit will better and the Mom I used to know returns. I miss her. I miss that hat too, it was my favorite. I won't forget it the next time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Super Bluebird

Lots going on here in Ron's World. Today I'm going to stick with the progress of my baby bluebirds in their bluebird house which is guarded by the biggest bluebird I've ever seen. It's a Super Bluebird! He's been fighting off swallows and sparrows from his five baby bluebirds. So far he has been able to repel all attacks from the barbarians.

As you can see from the picture I took a few minutes ago, the baby bluebirds haven't opened their eyes yet. That will probably happen in the next day or two. I will keep the readers of this blog posted when that event happens. In about a week they will be covered in a soft down of blue hued feathers. In about a month they're out on their own in the big world.

I always feel guilty when I open the front of the bluebird box to take my progress pictures. But I think Super Bluebird understands because he goes away a short distance and watches from his perch from my neighbor's screened in deck. As soon as I finish taking my pictures and turn around to return to the house, he flies back to his perch on top of the bluebird house. He looks at me and I can sense he understands that I am not a threat to his babies.

One more day of work then I have a few days off until Saturday when I go in to fill in for another co-worker who has a class. Tonight I'm filling in for a co-worker who is vacationing in Ireland (must be nice.) I have to get up to Pennsylvania to visit my Mom. I also have to return some genealogical items to my cousin Elsie Mae. I borrowed her parent's funeral books back when the winds were blowing cold. The trees are now green and the temperatures are warmer. I haven't been able to travel to Pennsylvania recently because I had a cold, too much rain, and my erratic work schedule at the hotel. I foresee sunny days and a clear work schedule in my future and I better make the trip soon. If I don't my family members may disown me.

This is a short post because I have to get ready for work. These four day work schedule are a bit much for me. I've gotten too used to the freedom of only working one or two days a week, Mondays and Thursdays. Four or five days in a row is a killer. I guess I got out of practice. I'm glad I have a job and a job that I like. Except perhaps for the issues I'm having with the owner but that is another whole story. I haven't decided yet whether or not I want to post that drama on my blog. Right now I'm going to put all of that out of my mind and enjoy this sunny, warm day.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Why I Retired to the Delmarva Peninsula

The Delmarva Peninsula is a large peninsula on the East Coast of the United States, occupied by portions of three U.S. states: Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Named as a portmanteau of the letters of the states that occupy it, it is almost 300 by 100km or about 180 by 60 miles, and is bordered by the Chesapeake Bay on the west, and the Delaware River, Delaware Bay, and Atlantic Ocean on the east. Its northern isthmus is cut by the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal. Bridges cross the canal and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel join the peninsula to the mainland. Other points of access include Lewes, Delaware, reachable by ferry from Cape May, New Jersey. Dover, the capital of Delaware, is in the northeast corner, but the peninsula's main commercial area is Salisbury, Maryland, near the center of the peninsula.

This is where I live and work folks, on the eastern most edge of the Delmarva Peninsula. I work in Lewes, Delaware near Cape Henlopen State Park and the Cape May/Lewes Ferry. I live three miles north of where I work in a development near Oyster Rocks Road, two miles from the ocean. All my life I wanted to work and live near the water. Two and a half years ago I realized my dream. I sold my house in the wooded hills of Chester County, Pennsylvania and moved to sunny coastal shores of Sussex County, Delaware.

For many years (since the late 70's) I have visited my longtime friend Big Bob who lives near Georgetown, Delaware on 22 acres of heavily forested land in his double wide trailer. At the time Bob moved to Delaware (the early 70's) he was told my his real estate agent "You'll never see any other houses on this road in your lifetime." Of course that real estate agent was wildly off target. Bob's road plus many other formerly pristine areas of Sussex County (known affectionaly as "Slower Lower" by its residents) now have many houses on both sides of the road. Even this formerly rural area of chicken farmers and corn fields has not escaped the advance of development and population growth.

At first I was put off my the flat coastal plains of Sussex County. I was used to the rolling hills and winding roads of Chester County, Pennsylvania where I had lived before pulling up stakes and moving to Delaware. However, over time I came to love the big sky and wide open spaces of Delaware. As the area of Pennsylvania where I lived became crowded and congested, the relative sparsness of the lower county of Delaware became more attractive to me as a potential retirement location.

Another factor in my decision to retire to Delaware was to escape the high taxes of Pennsylvania. For most of my adult life I have paid the excessive taxes that Pennsylvania places on single people like myself. Even though I had no children in the school, I paid the same school tax rate. I will go into the taxes in another blog posting, but suffice it for me to say that once I retired I could no longer afford to live in Pennsylvania. There was no reason for me to stay other than my Mother still lived there. The few friends I had were tied up in their families and thus had little or no time to spend with me. I had no gay friends in Pennsylvania. Since I was retiring this is something I had to consider, to have a support group of my gay friends and that was non-existent in Pennsylvania. I had to consider moving to a state that wasn't taxing me out of existence. I estimated had I continued to live in Pennsylvania, in five years time my taxes would be more than my entire Social Security retirement check. It was definitely time to get out of Dodge.

Another very important factor was my sense of comfort and well being. Although my neighbors were cordial to me in suburban Pennsylvania, the heavy cloak of "you're not one of us" was always there. When Bill and I would shop at Home Depot we would invariably receive stares from some of the other customers. Same thing if we ate out together. Always the "look." Straight people don't understand this "look." A good example is the attitude of a former school classmate of mine. He said "Why do you always have to bring up the homosexual thing and act a like a martyr?" I answered "That's because that is what I am." Straight people don't feel this constant oppression that we gay people feel all the time in a straight world. I guess my former school classmate expect me to practice the civilian version of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and then everything will be fine. I am what I am. I don't wear a sign around my neck saying "I'm gay" but I don't hide the fact either. My friend wasn't comfortable with that attitude, especially when I visited him in his neighborhood.

Where we live in Delaware now (near Rehoboth Beach - the "East Coast Gay Capital of the United States"), Bill and I can shop in Home Depot or Lowe's and we don't get the "look." That probably because the store is full of male/male and female/female couples. Same sex couples in Rehoboth Beach is less of a curiosity and more the norm and part of life than it is in Chester County, Pennsylvania. This is something most straight people can never grasp. The feeling of freedom. The absence of that glowering feeling of disapproval that we're not quite as equal as our heterosexual fellow human beings.

Ironically, I started this blog as a paean to the joy of living on the Delmarva peninsula. A reader of my blog sent me an e-mail telling me that I lived on an island. In many ways I do. I live in a wonderful natural paradise on the eastern shore of the United States. Every day I wake up I am overjoyed to have finally realized my dream of living and working "near the water" in an atmosphere that is relatively free of the oppression of homophobia. I make the qualification of "relatively free" because, even here there are pockets of ignorance and intolerance that sometimes manifest itself in ugly and unexpected ways.

Since moving down here 2 1/2 years ago I have made some friends in the gay community but not as many as I had expected. I don't know, maybe it's me but I find most of the gay men and women (especially the women) very insular and into their own cliques. Much of the local gay community's activity seems to be drag shows and fund raisers as excuses for parties. I don't fault those involved for those activities but I was sort of expecting that the gay community to have moved past drag shows and dressing up like women which only reinforces the gay stereotype to the straight community. I can see where camping it up is fun but I had hoped that most of the gay community had moved past that stereotype. That's not me or Bill so that is probably why we have made so few friends in the gay community. Almost all of our new friends are straight from where we live and where I work. No camp required to be friends with our straight friends. That said, I have made a few good gay friends since I moved here and I value and appreciate their friendship. I feel that the few gay friends that I have made are friends for life and for that I am very thankful. Note: haven't made any lesbian friends though. Now that is a much tougher nut to crack. I'm not holding my breath on that one.

While no place on earth is pefect, Shangri-La was a myth after all, I'm about as happy as I can be living where I live now, on the "island" of Delmarva. I wouldn't live anywhere else at this time of my life. Now if Delaware can pass a law approving of same sex marriages this would be Shangri-La.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day 2009

The sun shines brightly this Sunday morning, Mother's Day 2009. The heat and humidity of yesterday is gone, replaced by low humidity and a brisk wind.

The first thing I did this morning after getting up from bed was to go out to my Purple Martin house and tear out yet another house sparrow nest. I've been tearing out their nests for about 10 days now. The Purple Martins arrived on schedule, May 1st. They took up residence in the other five apartments but the determined house sparrows will not give up on their nest building in the one apartment. After I cleaned out their messy nest and was walking back to the house, I noticed that both of the sparrows were having sex (or else they were playing leap frog) on the ledge in front of their desired apartment. I took this as their version of giving me the Universal Finger (aka as the Digital Salute.) I may have to escalate this battle of wits and wait until they lay their eggs and then throw out the whole batch; nest, eggs and all. I would like to throw out the sparrows too if I could ever catch them.

Last night I worked late at the hotel. I had a caller on the phone who originally called about the availabity of accomodations for herself and her pet but the conversation quickly went off into another whole direction about her visit to a dog breeder that day and how she said she was "misled" as to the quality of the pups she viewed. She said the puppies looked like they were "shot out of a cannon." I didn't get the connection between this room availability until she said she didn't want "any surprises" if she rented our pet room. In other words, an ironclad guarantee that she would be completely satisfied with her stay and accommodations. I patiently listened to her and stated our accommodations and amenities but did not give her the ironclad guarantee that she obviously wanted. I have found from past experience that callers who go on long tangents on the phone never make the reservation. Maybe they're lonely and just want someone to talk to. This is one of the things I like about my job as a hotel front desk clerk, observing human nature. After awhile most of them fall into certain categories. This one falls into the Twilight Zone. Beep, beep, dit, dit, dah dit.

After checking my Facebook account this morning, I made a call to my Mother to wish her a happy Mother's Day. Again, no one answered the phone. I left a message on her answering machine. I don't know why I do that because she doesn't check her answering machine. I had planned to take the 2 1/2 drive up to Pennsylvania to visit her today but I agreed to work for my co-worker who was regularly scheduled to work this weekend. I'm only supposed to work Monday evenings 3 to 11 PM but I've been work all kinds of hours the past few weeks and will continue to do so until next month. Her son is leaving for Iraq next week and she wanted to spend as much time with him as she could before he ships out.

Next Tuesday I'm filling in for another co-worker who is going on vacation to Ireland. Next Friday I'm filling in for another co-worker who has a court date. I'm glad to have the extra hours (helps to pay the mortgage) but with this kind of schedule it's hard to take a few days to visit my Mother. I also want to visit my Aunt Mabel who is recovering from an operation. I also have to return some family history records to my cousin Elsie Mae. And, just this week I received an invitation to attend a family reunion to be held this August at Nottingham Park in Oxford, PA. Lots on my schedule. Never a dull moment.

I just finished talking on the phone to my longtime friend Ed from my high school days in Pennsylvania. He has a second home in Rehoboth Beach. It seems every time he comes down to visit, I'm working that weekend. Hopefully I can see him on Memorial Day weekend. As of now, I have Saturday and Sunday off that weekend. Maybe by then the house sparrows will have given up on building their nest in my Purple Martin house. That's one battle I'm going to win.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Baby Blue Birds

The baby blue bird eggs have hatched. All five of them. This is the second year the blue birds have nested in on of the three blue bird boxes I have bordering my backyard. It is the same box they nested in last year. They raised two batches of baby blue birds, five at a time, last year. They don't nest in the other two boxes. Occasionally the sparrows build make a half hearted effort to build a nest in the other blue bird houses but don't follow through. They prefer one of the apartments in the Purple Martin house. And that isn't happening no matter how many times they build their nest. But that is a subject for another blog.

This morning Bill and I visited the East Coast Garden Center near Millsboro on Rt. 24. I saw a pair of perfect rhododendron plants which I prompty purchased. I brought them back and planted them on the north side of our house, which gets some sun, but not a lot of sun which is what rhododendron plants prefer. Now that side of our house is complete. The pink of the rhododendron plants will perfectly compliment the cream color of the house.

It is humid this morning so I had to take a shower after I was done. I'm going to work this afternoon and the next three days. Yes, another marathon work schedule. Normally I work Mondays only but this weekend I'm filling in for Monica who wants to spend more time with her son before he ships off to Iraq next week. On Tuesday my co-workers Bob leaves for his first trip to Ireland. I would have liked to visit my Mother this Mother's Day weekend but that will have to wait until maybe next week.

I am so glad the baby blue birds have hatched. Now the summer season is official.

Friday, May 08, 2009

My Three Sons

My Mother has three sons. I am the oldest, born in 1941. My brother Isaac was born in 1943 and my youngest brother John was born in 1944. My father had 10 brothers and no sisters. My Mother told my father she wasn’t going to have a dozen sons. She always wanted a daughter. I guess I was the default daughter for awhile until I was about three years old. I will write more about that aspect of my growing up in a future blog posting.

My brothers and I were very fortunate in that our Mom was totally devoted to all three of her sons and her husband. She lived for us. I know it is a cliché but my Mom was really one of those saintly Moms. Even as recently as the beginning of this year she was still providing for us by helping us out monetarily with our various needs. That’s just the way she is and always has been. She has never spent money on herself or been concerned with “things.” Her family has always been her first priority. Mom set the standard for us, her three devoted sons.

Now in her 85th year she is failing both physically and mentally. We always knew this could happen but that we see the reality of her condition, it doesn’t seem real. To see this strong woman who we have relied on all these years change into someone else we don’t know doesn’t seem real. This can’t be our Mom. She’s going to snap out of it anytime soon and I can talk to her like I have for years. We could exchange family gossip, I could listen to her stories of working in the layer cake division of Pepperridge Farms, and we could relieve memories of Pop. We can no longer have those conversations.

The last time I talked to her on the phone about a week ago I didn’t get much of a response from her. The conversation was eerily reminiscent of my conversations with my friend down here who is suffering dementia. He’s not “there” nor is she “there.” It’s one thing to lose a loved one to death but quite another to have them still here but not “there.”

I don't like to keep writing depressing blogs but this is my life now. There are a couple of positive developments in my life today, this Friday May 8th, 2009. The sun is finally out after about 10 days of rain and dreary weather. The sun always brightens my spirits. I hope Mom can get out today and enjoy some of this sun. She always loved a beautiful spring day.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Mom and Ike

This morning I had a long talk with my brother Isaac, who lives with and care for our Mom at our old family homestead in Pennsylvania. I haven’t been able to get in touch with them for a few weeks. We discovered the problem was that the phone was out.

Mom is 85 years old now. She has been in declining health ever since our father died August 22, 2000. They were married 61 years. Each one was the half of the other. Much of her problem seems to be depression. She also has a balance problem and is on a number of medications. Both of her sisters (one of which is now deceased) developed dementia. I’m afraid the signs are now showing Mom is also developing dementia.

I have two younger brothers. I live in Delaware, and my youngest brother lives in South Carolina. My Mom lives with my middle brother in Pennsylvania. We would prefer for her to move to my brother’s place in South Carolina where she can receive more professional care but she prefers to stay where she has lived for the past 61 years. I understand her need to be in her comfort zone. We will try to accommodate her as long as we can. She has her cats (Molly and Rusty) and her favorite bed set up in her living room. When she's not sleeping, she likes to watch “The Price is Right” and the Fox News channel. This is her routine and it gives her comfort.

Both my younger brother and I are worried about the burden that is being placed on our brother Ike. He has his own medical problems that he has to monitor. I’ve talked to him and he says he is managing. He loves our Mom and takes excellent care of her. Ike has the patience of a saint but there is always a limit before one becomes overwhelmed.

We’re facing a dilemma that our Mom needs to move into a more controlled environment but we also want to respect her wishes to live at her home. Ironically one of the things our Mom was most concerned about was being a burden when she became older.

After talking to Ike, I called my other brother in South Carolina. We also discussed Mom’s situation and we agreed to take it one day at a time. That’s all we can do now. I guess we always knew this day would come.

Note: Picture is of Mom and Ike circa 1954

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Another Technology Challenging Day

Bill and I spent most of this day figuring out how to copy a VHS tape to a DVD recorder. We have a Magnavox dual recorder. Instructions came with it. But, as you probably suspect, it wasn’t easy. I don’t know if it’s me or the instructions. I know most of us older folk have a hard time with the new technology. We probably have a hard time processing all this new information because our heads are full of a lifetime of information. Younger folk have an easier time learning the new technology because their minds are relatively uncluttered. Some might say even say "empty."

Bill used to be an electronics technician with General Electric but he retired 25 years ago. There have been a lot of changes since he retired. He knows circuit boards but not micro chips. He’s pretty good in hooking up the wires but I’m the one who is better at reading instructions and following the steps. Not that it’s easy for me, it isn’t. In fact it’s getting harder and harder. I keep to a minimum the new things I have to learn with my computer and other tech gadgets. I don’t even have an I-pod yet. I don’t plan to get one anytime soon either. I still don't know how to do all the gee gaws on my cell phone either.

So this morning I put an old VHS tape in one side of the machine and a rewritable DVD in the other side. Then I dive into the instruction booklet that came with the Magnavox machine. Right away I can tell the instructions were written by a committee. They’re all over the place. They assume I already have some knowledge (which I don’t.) So I read the instructions and then try to figure out what is logical. At least logical as to how a Chinese would think (since they write most of the instruction booklets.)

Bill was stumped because he was trying to write a title on the DVD before he recorded it. He couldn’t figure out how to do it. I couldn’t either. Then I figured the logical thing would probably be to write the title AFTER the recording. I was right. Bill said that didn't make sense. I told him it doesn't matter, you have to think the way the people who wrote the instruction booklet think.

I started the recording. It was a two hour VHS tape. After two long hours I checked the instruction book again to find out how to title the DVD. First thing I see is the default title already on the DVD which was today’s date. I wanted to erase that so logically I chose “Delete Title.” Well, I deleted the WHOLE DVD. It seems that “Title” is their word for RECORDED DVD. It turns out that I should have EDITED the title. So I had to record another whole two hours. That I did and then I EDITED the title. Job finished. By now Bill wasn’t talking to me. We don’t work well together. Never have. It’s like two guys dancing together. We’re both trying to lead. But we got it done.

We’re going to take a break from recording our VHS tapes to DVD’s for now. But I’m glad I know how to do it now. This is another project for my retirement, to record all of my VHS tapes. I have literally several hundred VHS tapes. Thank God I stopped taking videos years ago and concentrated on taking digital pictures. Now the next project is to transfer all my negatives (and I do have all my negatives since I started taking pictures when I was a kid) and slides to digital format. I have that machine. I haven't even taken its plastic cover off of it yet. I have to give my poor brain a rest before I attack another instruction book again. And when Bill is talking to me again.

Lapse of Judgement

Yesterday I had a lapse of judgement. I posted a blog about my experience yesterday with my longtime friend who is apparently in the beginning stages of dementia. I should have made that posting. It is one thing to post about my personal situation. However, it is quite another to post about someone else's situation and identify them. I was wrong to do that. Thank goodness a good friend of mine brought that to my attention this morning.

After I had done that posting yesterday a little voice on my shoulder said "You might have went to far with this posting. This is personal information about someone else and you should respect their privacy." However, I ignored that little voice in my quest to have all my blog postings honest about my life and my relationships. I was wrong in that justification. I have since deleted that blog posting.

If I ever refer to my friend's situation again I will not identify him by name or picture. I don't know what happened to my moral compass yesterday because I have not posted about four other friends who have developed cancer nor will I. That is personal information and I will respect their privacy. I may refer to their situations only in the abstract such as I don't understand why the nicest people I know seem to get cancer. I know some really nice people and I've known some not so nice people. It seems that the not so nice people live forever (not that I wish them any ill will.)

Again, I deserve the dunce cap the second time in one week.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I'm Not Perfect

After 67 years of experience, learning and plodding along on this earth I figured I was pretty near perfect. However, an incident at work tonight proved such is not the case. I made a stupid, careless mistake.

A guest called at the front desk of the hotel where I work. He wanted to make reservations for Memorial Day weekend in our most expensive suite. Business being the way it has been this past year (the economy has been sucking in case you haven't noticed) we needed all the business we can at the hotel to make up for lost business during the winter months. I checked my calender to see what day Memorial Day fell on. Yep. May 30th. I checked my computer reservation screen. We already had booked the VIP suite the guest on the phone was requesting. I told the guest I was sorry but we had booked the room for the 30th of May.

It just so happened the owner of the hotel had stopped in and was sitting in the office behind me and overheard my conversation. He double checked the reservation screen on the computer and discovered that the VIP suite was open for the Memorial Day weekend of May 23rd! He yelled at me "Ron! That suite is open Memorial Day!" I looked and darn if it wasn't. I had my dates wrong. I looked at my calendar again and sure enough May 25th was also listed as Memorial Day. I looked at the Memorial Day listed on May 30th and read the small print this time: "Memorial Day" (true.) I knew right away I had made a mistake. It was a good thing that the owner happened to stop in and caught my mistake. However it didn't look to good for my competency in making reservations. I knew I was going to hear about this. And I did.

I made the reservation and the guest was happy. But, I know I would hear more from my boss, the owner of the hotel. And I did. About an hour later he stopped in and told me "Ron, you're going to have to be more careful with your dates." I explained to him how I made the mistake. He wasn't buying it. He told me "Ron, I know you're very conscientious but if you're going to work here you're going to have to know this information. The guests expect you to know it. Your excuse is not acceptable." That stung but of course he was right.

My feelings were hurt. I felt like going off into a corner to lick my wounds. There was no way out of this. I was wrong and he was right. He had every right to chastise me and refuse to accept my lame excuse. I'm an adult and I should know when the holiday weekend falls, especially in my job as a front desk clerk at a hotel. Still, no one likes to be reprimanded, especially me.

In my long work career (since I was 4 or 5 years old) I have strived to perfection in every job I've ever undertaken. I have never knowingly did a sloppy or half assed job. Still, I have made my share of errors over the years. Every time I make and error I think to myself "Well, I'll never make that mistake again." And, most times I don't but I do manage to find new ways to make errors. I would like to think at my advanced age (67), that I was pretty much done with making errors. That's what I would like to think. The reality is proving to be much different. Reality pretty much smacked me in the face tonight.

This week the owner is calling a staff meeting. I heard through the grapevine that we're going to have to take an etiquette course. I think this is probably so we at the front desk will be more professional and bring in more business by our increased customer service skills. Funny thing. I thought I had my manners pretty much down pat. Well, there is always room for improvement because as I learned today, I am not perfect.

Caregiver Update

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