Sunday, August 30, 2009

Watermelon Man




Today did not seem like Sunday. It's been very quiet. Bill and I just got back from visiting our friend Bob and Jim. Their friend Kenny is visiting them from Ohio. Kenny is out of work and will probably be moving in with Bob and Jim to look for work down here in lower slower....er Sussex County, Delaware. He says he won't accept anything less than $18.00 an hour. Lots of luck Kenny, I don't even think they pay chicken pluckers $18.00 an hour.


I worked at the hotel yesterday. We had almost a full house even though showers were forecast for the weekend. Our business has picked up since the economy picked up giving consumers confidence that they could spend a few extra discretionary dollars to visit our Nantucket style east coast resort in Lewes, Delaware. We have also offered a 20% discount on the rooms rates if the guests stay two or more nights. That helped also. It was good to see Mom and Dad and the kids stop by the front desk for towels and beach chairs on their way out to the beach. It reminded me of when times were good last year and the year before when we were booked almost every weekend during the summer. It seemed like it would last forever but the recent economy downturn really took a toll on the hospitality industry as well as other businesses like the restaurants. One restaurant, La Rosa Negra, even when out of business. I know of several other restaurants that are up for sale but no takers so far. I'm back on a two night a week schedule at least until the end of the season in the middle of September, then it's back to one night a week of the Overlook Hotel.


Bill and I were going to try a new restaurant for our weekly breakfast experience away from the home front. We haven't been too pleased with the quality of food of Zorba's, the restaurant that we have been going to every weekend for some time. I suggested the new Ocean Point Grill in Lewes. As we were parking our car at about 8 am this morning we saw another car with three huge adults (they looked like hippos) with three little kids under five years old (baby hippos) and one of the adults was carrying a basket with baby. Oh no. We wouldn't be going into this restaurant. There is little that I hate more than having a meal in a restaurant next to table full of squirmy kids and especially one with a basket. That baby does not want to be in the restaurant and you can be sure that baby will let you know by its piercing cries shortly after its Moses like basket is placed on the restaurant table. If we're really lucky, the little darling will need its diaper changed. That's what happened the last time I sat at a table next to an extended family (Mom, Pop, the grandparents and an in-law or two) and they plopped a basket full of baby on their table. The all to familiar sweet sickening smell of baby poop wafted over the room and then one of the adults said "Oh, look. Megan did a do do." How cute. So, Bill and I headed for Zorba's again. At least we were comfortable but the food was still mediocre. As we were leaving we spied another family bringing a baby basket into the restaurant. We got out just in time. Go home people! Leave us alone! Didn't you see that rainbow emblem on the door as you waddled in?


On the way back from Bob and Jim's, Bill saw a produce stand in Harbeson full of watermelon. It's right across from the Allen chicken processing plant (bad mems for me of all those chickens met their Final Destination at that plant.) We stopped and got a couple of watermelons. Bill will go through those watermelons this week. I get the rinds to put in my growing compost pile out in back of my shed. We're into recycling kitchen waste in this house.


It's now time for my daily walk back in Oyster Rocks. I enjoy the quality time that my evening walk provides for me. The only problem is that if I wait too the bugs come out and bombard me. At least the mosquitoes have taken a hiatus. Haven't seen or felt them around here for a few weeks now. Thank God for small blessings. I like taking my walks solo.


The week ahead looks good. I'm working tomorrow night at the hotel. There is an Event (hotel talk for a large group of people descending on the hotel.) A cocktail party for 50 plus is scheduled for the fortunate invited few. I'm not invited but I can clean up. Then I don't go to work again until Saturday during the day. Labor Day weekend. Should be fun. I'll take the extra time this week to get caught up on my 50th class reunion invitations and booklet that I'm preparing for the reunion. I baked my favorite lemon bundt cake early this morning while the temperatures were still cool. It's not as humid as it has been for the past two weeks. Maybe I can get some yard trimming in also. The week ahead is looking good as we enter into the end of the season down here in God's Country, Sussex County, Delaware. It's all good.





Friday, August 28, 2009

Single Payer Health Care System




Up until a few days ago, I was a strong advocate of single payer U.S. health care. However, an experience with the Veterans Administration health care system last Tuesday caused me to lose some if not all of my confidence in a single payer system.

Since 2001 I’ve been using the VA health care system. I didn’t have a choice when I lost my job at the hotel where I worked in Lionville, PA. Luckily for me I had signed up for the VA health care system in 1998 just in case I would ever need it. Lucky because in 2001 the Bush administration discontinued the eligibility of non service connected (meaning we didn’t have a service connected disability) veterans like me from using the VA health care system which I was promised when I joined the Army in 1960. This act alone (making veterans like me ineligible to use the VA system) was the main factor in causing me to change my political registration from Republican Party did not care for me or my well being unless I was connected to the power structure. Since I neither was employed, rich or have political connections, I was on my own according to the Republican Party. My first doubts about the Republican Party began during the 1992 Republican Party convention in Houston Texas after the hateful homophobic speeches of Pat Buchanan and Pat Robertson. That was my first clue that I, as a gay man, was not welcomed in the Republican Party unless I turned straight. But that is another story for a future blog posting.

The VA health care system was a lifesaver for me. During the time I was unemployed I had one medical emergency and two operations. The VA took excellent care of me. In fact, they took better care of me than my private health care ever did. The one major operation I had with my private health care system almost killed me. I contracted a staph infection and it took me six months and three operations to finally get rid of it. I barely survived. The whole ordeal was a nightmare which I will never forget. I never received an apology from any of my private medical care providers for what happened to me, including the doctor I went to who insisted it was "all in my head" when I complained of horrendous headaches. It was only when my surgery scar burst from the build up of pus that I was delivered to the contagion ward of the hospital in an ambulance. Then the medical establishment realized that something was dreadfully wrong.

I liked the VA health care system because they seem to really care about me. I wasn’t just a number to increase the doctor’s volume of patients. The VA had a different attitude. Since they’re not operating for profit, they took more time with me. My doctor (or nurse practitioner) actually sat down with me and made eye contact with me and discussed my health. I had annual labs to monitor my health. Except for the fact that since I moved the main VA facility was now 90 miles away (as opposed to ten minutes away when I lived in Pennsylvania), I was very happy with the VA system. No, I couldn’t choose my doctor but I always had the best doctors available for me when I went to the VA for care.

Alas, it seems that has changed now. Last year the VA opened an outpatient facility in Georgetown. No longer would vets like me have to travel 90 miles one way to Wilmington, DE just to take labs or to visit our doctor. Now we could travel to the outpatient clinic in nearby Georgetown. It all looked good on paper. However, what looks good on paper and what is reality are two different things.

I have visited the VA Outpatient Clinic in Georgetown about a half a dozen times. Every time I have visited them I have a different doctor. This wasn’t good. There was no continuity. The last time I visited I had a doctor and I expressed my concern about the turnover. He assured me he would stay there because he said he liked treating “old vets” like me. I think that was a compliment. So imagine my disappointment this past Tuesday when I visited the VA Outpatient Clinic for my labs. A lot of red flags went up.

First, there was no sign in sheet. There were no instructions as to what to do. I see the obese woman behind the glass partition (what’s with the glass partition? Afraid someone is going to rob them?) I asked her “where is the sign-in sheet?” She looked up at me with a dull look and said “Hepa.” I said “Hepa?” She repeated “Hepa.” I said “Oh, it’s a privacy thing?” She said “Yeah.” Okay. Then I tell her I have an appointment for my labs. She now asks my name (why didn’t she do that sooner?)

I take my seat. A short time later a woman in a white medical jacket comes out and proceeds to rip a new one for one of the veterans. I don’t know what he did but she said to him “Sir! You will have to wait your turn! There are 30 other patients before you and you will have to wait your turn! Do you understand?” Oh that was nice. Not what you would call professional or respectful. Even if the vet was inquiring about when his turn was I don’t think that was an appropriate way to answer his question. The woman turns on her heel and stomps in the back to continue doing whatever it was she was doing before this hapless vet dared to ask his question. An uncomfortable tension settled over the rest of us vets in the waiting room. What next?

Then I was called into the back to get my blood drawn for my labs. It was all very organized, including the needle at the ready. My brother had told me a few weeks earlier that whenever a medical person inserts a needle into your arm you should see them break open a new needle and throw that needle away. I didn’t see that and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t question it either. I should have. I was intimidated by the white jacket woman who was administering a needle to the veteran sitting next to me. Yes, they were taking our blood simultaneously. Yes, we were on a production line.

After three vials of blood were taken from me I returned out front and inquired as to when my next appointment would be. The usual procedure was to schedule an appointment the next week to go over the results of the labs or blood test. I was told that they would contact me “if there was a problem.” Otherwise, if I wanted a copy of my labs I could call them next week. So there you go. No longer did I have a doctor, or even a nurse practitioner to discuss my medical condition with me. I wasn’t asked if this is what I wanted. The decision was made for me.

Another incident which also caused me great concern was that they had no record of my partner Bill. He had not heard from them in over a year about getting his labs. He went with me and inquired at the front desk. He was told “You’re not in the system.” Not in the system? He’s been in the system since the early 90’s. They made an appointment for him and also a follow up appointment to review his labs. Why didn’t they make a follow up appointment for me?

As I was leaving I overheard another vet questioning the person at the front desk as to why he had not received his heart medicine. The woman at the front desk didn’t seem to care. The old veteran was pleading with her that he needed his medicine. She finally advised him to see the woman around the other side of the front desk. Hopefully that woman took care of his problem.

All these events on this past Tuesday morning in the span of about a half an hour left my confidence in the VA health care system very shaken. It has even affected my sleep. That’s when I know something is serious because I rarely have problems sleeping. I can sit in front of a TV or read a page or two of a book and I’m off in Wonderland in only a few minutes. Not now, I’m waking up during the night worried about my health care.

This morning I decided to do something about it. I called the VA in Wilmington and explained my concern to the operator. She immediately connected me to a woman who is the patient’s advocate for veterans. She wasn’t in so I left a message. Much to my surprise, she called me back in about 20 minutes. I told her of my experience at the Georgetown outpatient clinic and explained my concerns. She told me that the Georgetown clinic was having a great deal of difficulty keeping a doctor. She said part of the problem was probably the computer system which was frustrating to use for the doctors and nurse practitioners. She seemed genuinely concerned about my loss of confidence. She offered to reconnect with a primary health care provider at the Wilmington location. She acknowledged that it would be a long trip for me but I told her that didn’t concern me as much as I needed a primary health care provider. The trip by the local American Legion Post 28 van takes up half of my day. That is a small price to pay for the peace of mind to have a permanent, consistent health care provider with whom I can discuss my medical condition.

The lesson I am taking from my experience this past week was even though I ran into difficulty with the single provider system that I’m using through the VA, I was able to resolve the problem immediately through the VA’s patient advocate and thus stay with the system that has provided me the best health care I have ever received in my life. I have regained my confidence and peace of mind and now I can sleep again at night.


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Senator Kennedy




I've been busier than a flea on a pack of hound dogs today! Phew. I've not nothing but run around all day.

First up I had to get out the invitations of my 50th high school class reunion. This was the second time I've prepared the invites and I think this will be my swan song. It is a LOT OF WORK and I wonder just how much of it is appreciated. We have a class of just over 100 students, of whom about 90 are left. There is a hard core of former classmates who almost always go to the reunion. The rest of the classmates ignore the invitations which leads me to wonder, is it even worth sending the invitations to them. I think all of my friends tell me they always ignore their class reunions. They treat the invitations with disdain and derision which is probably what some on of my classmates do also. Oh well, I'm not going to get myself worked up over that now. We do have forty or so classmates who do appreciate the time and effort (and expense) that those of us on the reunion committee put forth. I know I appreciate their effort that's why I'm always wanted to help. However, it does puzzle me why some people don't want to have anything to do with their former classmates. I didn't have all that great of a time in high school either but I consider that time of my life all a part of my Life's Journey. I always look forward to reconnecting with my former classmates. But then, that's just me. I can't speak for my fellow former classmates.

I think this is all I'm going to write at this time. It is late afternoon and I do want to get my daily walk in before dinner tonight and then to bed. I work the day shift at the hotel tomorrow and I have to be in by 7 am to set up breakfast. I can see another Busy Bee day tomorrow.

One note on Senator Ted Kennedy's passing today......he will be sorely missed. He was a tireless advocate for those of us who are not plugged into the power base of this country. I realize there are those out there, many self professed "Good Christians" who harbor a deep seated hatred towards Senator Kennnedy because of the events of Chappaquiddick forty years ago. Yes, Senator Kennedy probably made a mistake and was instrumental in causing an innocent person's death. He had an accident. He didn't report it right away. We all make mistakes. What surprises me is the unrelenting hatred of those who profess themselves "Good Christians" who are unwilling or unable to forgive. I'll tell you what I can't forgive. I can't forgive a president who lead us into a war of choice who caused almost 5,000 unnecessary American deaths and countless thousands of Iraqi deaths. I cannot forgive a president who lead an administration who squandered our precious moral authority in the world by permitting the most heinous forms of torture on our supposed enemies. I cannot forgive those in the Republican party who aid and abet the lies that is making health care so difficult to pass. That's who I cannot forgive.

When I first started this blog I made a conscious effort not to make it a platform for my political views. At times it has been very hard for me to suppress posting my views on this blog. But today I am making an exception. I say to my "Good Christian" friends who harbor hate in their heart towards their bogeymen (Kennedy, Pelosi, Reid, Clinton) and say "don't be hating." We're all in this together. Two of Senator Kennedy's brothers were murdered. If our current hate climate continues, I don't even want to think of what could happen in this country. Here is my suggestion, lay down your hate mongering and let's work together to make this a better country. Is that so hard? Leave the hate behind. That's what Jesus would do.

Monday, August 24, 2009

DHS 50th Class Reunion



Fifty years ago this year I graduated from high school in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. One thing I want to say right up front, "That was a fast fifty years!"




I am on the reunion committee and I've been asked by our organizer, Carole Davis Turner, to put all the reunion information on a blog. So here it is for all of our fellow classmates for whom we have an e-mail address. I will also be sending out invitations by snail mail with a questionnaire to be returned to Cookie Seibert Pannebaker.




The 50th class reunion will be held at the Whitford Country Club on October 17, 2009. The price per person (which includes the reunion booklet) is $55.00. There are also other activities scheduled for that weekend which Carole want me to make known to everyone. Please read the information below and if you have any questions please send me an e-mail to: ronstales@aol.com.




Hope to see you all at the reunion!










Please answer all the questions below and return all sheets with your deposit (and your e-mail address) to Cookie (Seibert) Pannebaker by October 1st, 2009.

120 Webster Avenue, Downingtown, PA 19335
Phone: 610-269-0464
e-mail: cook610@verizon.net



Please choose one of the following menu options by circling your choice:







Chicken Dijonnaise
Sautéed Breast of Chicken with White Wine and Dijon Mustard Sauce, Baked Potato, Seasonal Vegetables

Or

Prime Rib of Beef
12 oz. Roasted Angus Rib with Natural Jus and Creamy Horseradish Cream Sauce, Baked Potato, Seasonal Vegetables




Inquiring minds want to know



Would you like to participate in the Homecoming Parade on Thursday night, October 15th? If so, you get to ride in the Homecoming Float (dress in Fifties style clothes.)

On Friday night, October 16th you get to sit on the 50 yard line at the Homecoming Football Game. You will receive complimentary tickets (we’re senior citizens now.)

Circle YES or NO


Carole Davis Turner has also wants you to know that these two activities are also available the reunion weekend. Please indicate by circling which activities you are interested in attending. Details will be supplied later.

a.) Golfing at the Whitford Country Club
b.) Breakfast at the Happy Days Diner in Thorndale, PA


(Mrs. Yost’s Sixth Grade Operetta – back row left to right - Ron Tipton, Bud Bruton, Denny Meyers, Larry Meredith front row left to right: Bud Bruton, Duer Smedley, Bill Brookover, Stuart Meisel – 1953)

If you prefer, please answer the following questions to be included in our 50th Class Reunion Booklet (available for $12.00 if not attending the reunion)

1. If you have children and/or grandchildren, please list their names and ages.

2. What was your main occupation (excluding raising your family) for the past 50 years?

3. What is your favorite hobby (excluding spending time with your grandchildren)?

4. What are the places you have lived (not visited) since you graduated from DHS?

5. If you could change one decision you made since graduation, what would it be?

6. If you still work, what kind of job do you do and how long to you plan to do it?

7. Name three items still on your Bucket List.

a.
b.
c.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Point Is




Not much going on this Saturday. Bill and I had our usual weekly breakfast at Zorba's in Rehoboth Beach. We arrived way too early (just after 7 am.) We go to Zorba's because it is gay friendly (although it is not a gay restaurant) and comfortable, if worn, seating. Our waitress is always very friendly. Bill especially enjoys teasing her. It is his weekly ritual. However, the food is not too good. In fact, it's pretty awful. Cheap, but awful. This morning we both had an egg omelet. It was like eating shelf liner, tasteless. I always get scrapple which I love (a Chester County, PA thing.) The home fries were good and the rye toast was especially good since the cook buttered the toast while it was still hot instead of cold like he usually does. So we're thinking of changing restaurants next week. Yesterday I ate at the new Ocean Point Grill at the Five Points shopping center in Lewes. Ironically, Zorba's used to Ocean Point Grill too. But the owners relocated to Long Neck. The name "Ocean Point Grill" stayed the same at the Rehoboth location even though it was under different owners. Then the owners of the original Ocean Point Grill opened another restaurant at the aforementioned Five Points location in Lewes. I realize I have a lot of "Points" here and I'm probably boring you, the reader to tears with my narrative here. The point is (another "point") we're thinking of changing restaurants. And that's saying something because we're both old geezers (Bill's 80 and I'm 67) and you know how us old folk hate change. So next week we're going to have breakfast at the Ocean Point Grill at the Five Points location in Lewes. Oh how I would like a good egg omelet.


Later we visited our friend who is suffering from the early stages of dementia. He had another emergency today. He lost his water (not baby, but to his double wide.) He had to call in the plumber at weekend rates. We visited him and his cat, Stormy (his cat and I are pictured on this blog.) The plumber fixed the problem (a perforated pipe) and now our friend is up and running again. He and his partner are planning a two week vacation out west to the redwoods of California and he is dreading it. Not for the trip itself but for all the aggravation one has to go through to travel by plane these days. Taking your shoes off at the airport, random strip searches (which happened to my cousin Jack not too long ago) and lost luggage not to even mention the dollar cost. Our friend is 72 years old, just getting on the cusp of "I don't need any more aggravation in my life." I would like to take a trip but I don't think I will just because of all the stress involved. Never say never but I doubt if I'll be taking any more long trips in my lifetime. I'm just as comfortable in my home here on the Delmarva peninsula. As I've said many times before, I'm very happy here. Why push it?

A Salad a Day Keeps the Doctor Away




A few years ago I ran into an old classmate of mine from high school. We were both in the vegetable section of Wegmans supermarket. He was shopping for salad ingredients for his new health diet to combat heart disease. While I've never been one for salads I thought I would give it a try too. When I grew up Mom didn't make salads for our dinner table. We usually had overcooked green string beans or corn on the cob. That was about it. The only salads I had were when I dined out and that was a hit or miss experience. Once in a great while I got a salad I liked. Not very often though.


So I took my friend's advice and got some salad ingredients for myself. Well, I have to say I am now hooked. I liked my salads the best. I have basically two types of salads. Either a Caesar Salad of Romaine lettuce, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and a Caesar Vinaigrette salad dressing. I can't take the heavy fat laden salad dressings. I sprinkle Caesar croutons on top of the salad. My other favorite salad is "Ron's Salad." This salad consists of torn Romaine lettuce leaves, cucumber, sliced white or red onion, and those little round red tomatoes (not cherry or plum but the "other" ones) that are so expensive (but so worth it.) I sprinkle a little salad seasoning on it and Italian croutons. I use a sun dried red tomato Italian vinaigrette dressing on this salad. These salads hit the spot with me. I know they're right because my stomach welcomes them. With other salads, especially ones made with iceberg lettuce, I feel like I ate nothing but salad dressing.


I used to buy prepackaged Romaine salads but I now find it more economical to but one of those three packs of Romaine lettuce and prepare my own greens. I occasionally like to buy the Spring Mix and have it with a Raspberry Walnut vinaigrette. I don't like salad dressings with the heavy calories. I feel it takes away from the taste of the fresh greens and tomatoes. Salad dressing should be accompany, not dominate a salad.


I have been remiss in my blog postings. I try to make a daily blog posting but there is just so much going on in this retiree's life, sometimes I just don't have the time. One thing I always have time for though is a good salad and I make a damn good salad!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mom Update




Good news on the Mom front. My brother and his wife will be moving Mom from her home in Pennsylvania to their home in South Carolina in September. Their home is more senior friendly than Mom's home in Pennsylvania. As is the case with so many Mom's who have lived in their house for a long time, her house is very cluttered. She can hardly move around. It's only a matter of time before she falls and breaks something. We are taking this preventive action to avoid such a catastrophe.


Mom wants to stay in her home. She has lived there for 51 years (since 1958.) This is where she is comfortable. Like many older folk (me included), she is reluctant to change. Her husband (my dad) died August 20, 2000, nine years ago. My other brother has lived with her in the family home since that time and taken care of her. However, the time has come to make the big change. It's not safe for her to go through another Pennsylvania winter. The winters are milder in South Carolina thus there is less chance of her slipping and falling on ice.


Another very important factor is that she should have a woman help her from time to time to bath and perform other functions like helping her dress. My brother's wife and his daughter could help my Mother with these necessary functions.


My brother's house in South Carolina also has a separate mother-in-law apartment. He took care of his mother-in-law for 27 years before she died a few years ago. Perhaps the biggest reason to move our mother to South Carolina is that my brother's full time job is as a care pastor for his church. His job is to counsel and take care of the older parishioners of his church. He and his wife are experts in elder care. As much as I love and appreciate my other brother taking care of our mother in Pennsylvania I think this is the best move for her and for us.


Her health has been slowly declining for several years now. Up until now we have acceded to her wishes to stay in her own home but lately it has become increasingly clear that she needs more professional care. After my visit last week it became clear to me that the time has arrived for her to make the move.


In the past several years I have seen my cousins and friends make similar decisions about their aging parents. In the back of my mind I always knew our time would come to make this decision for our mother. Now is the time.


My brother and sister-in law have talked with her and she has agreed to the move, at least for the winter. They plan to rent a van and come up in the latter part of September to move her and her bed down to their home in South Carolina. Of course we're prepared for her to change her mind (as she has done in the past.) However, this time she doesn't have a choice. We're making it for her. I just hope she realizes it is in her best interest.

She has taken good care of me and my two brothers her whole life. I know it is a cliche to say "My Mom is the best Mom in the whole world", but we can honestly say that. We could not have had a better Mom. Now Pop was a different story, but our Mom? We had the best Mom. We love you Mom.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Search




Since I was so stupid last night not to engage in conversation the angel who was standing right next to me, I'm now extending a search for this heavenly body who appeared out of nowhere last night on my evening cruise down the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal in Lewes.

I've posted an enhanced picture I took of him. A friend of mine told me that the wording on his T-shirt is Armenian so he could be an Armenian. I know he is of Eastern European stock because of his features and the features of the group of men he was with on the cruise last night. I also know he probably wasn't Russian because, although I couldn't understand what they were talking about, their accent didn't sound Russian which to me has a lot of the "sh" sound.

I'm hoping he is a waiter in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area. Believe me, once I find out where he works you can bet I'll know what to say the next time I encounter him, should I be so fortunate. I think I'm going down the There's No Fool Like and Old Fool Route, but it's worth a try. We only go round once in this life. This guy is stirring feelings in me that I thought were long gone. Maybe I ain't dead yet.

A Dream Cruise









More pictures of the young man who caught my attention last night on the evening cruise out of Lewes. I'm still reeling from the encounter. I am now full of regrets that I didn't engage in a conversation with him when he came and stood by me. I'm hoping he works somewhere in Rehoboth as a waiter. You can bet I'll keep my eyes peeled. I think I need to visit a few more restaurants to review for my Trip Advisor account.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Evening Cruise




My co-worker Monica at the hotel where I work gave me a two complimentary tickets for a cruise on the Rehoboth-Lewes Canal. For the past two and a half years I've worked at a hotel on the canal and often seen boats full of happy folk cruise up and down the canal. I assumed they went from one end of the canal to the other. Little did I know they actually went out to the ocean for a two hour cruise and went dolphin watching. So I decided to take advantage of this bonus and invite my good friend Bob along for the ride.


The cruise began at 7:00 pm. First we went for dinner at the new Wharf restaurant. I always like to dine at least once at the restaurants nearby where I work because I am often asked to recommend restaurants. Last year the restaurant on this location was the Lighthouse Restaurant and it had a terrible reputation. Dinner tonight at the new restaurant was alright but, like almost all restaurants in the Lewes and Rehoboth area, overpriced. My friend got fish and chips and I ordered a Caesar salad. With ice tea for both of us, our bill came to $28.00, before the tip. That's too much. But I won't dwell on this negative aspect of the evening because the rest of the evening turned out spectacularly well.


Our boat pulled out of the dock at precisely 7 pm. It was loaded with folks. There were a lot of families with screaming kids. One little blond haired girl was a particularly loud and consistent screamer. Bob and I were seated on the right side of the boat. I had to get away from this screaming kid because my head was going to split. What a fortuitous move that was.


At the bow of the boat I saw the most handsome young man I have laid my eyes on since I moved to Delaware. He simply took my breath away. I could not take my eyes off of him. He had Oriental eyes but was not Oriental. He had the flat Slavic forehead of a Russian or other nationality from that region of the world. I soon notice by their language that there was a group of them (Russians) on the boat. I took some surreptitious pictures of him. I kept looking at him but I didn't want to think I was cruising him. All the years I've been cruising in gay bars, I'm still shy about getting someone's attention. And besides, what would I do if he returned my looks?


Then the unimaginable happened. He saw me looking at him and moved to stand next to me! I was paralyzed. What would I do now? He was standing right next to me! So of course I turned away and started to take pictures of the canal bank, the lighthouse in the bay; anything so he wouldn't know that I was looking at him.


I moved to the side of the boat to take pictures. I turned around and he was right behind me! What was I supposed to do? Turn around and ask "Do you come here often?" No, of course not. I didn't know what to say to him or if I should say anything at all. And besides, he was with his extended Russian group of friends. I saw a couple of babies with oriental eyes. Maybe one of them was his. So I continued to stand next to him without looking, waiting for him to turn away from me so I could get a good picture of him. Finally I moved from the side of the boat to the steps. He moved into my position and turned to face me. He was only one to two feet from me now! I could reach out my hand and touch his face, chest, arms. I haven't been this petrified since I first laid eyes on George Vishensky over 35 years ago and he turned around and looked right at me. His nationality was Polish. We had a very intense affair short term affair. It was one of the two most intense sexual attractions I've ever had in my lifetime. This guy tonight was making me shake in the knees just like George. I don't usually get turned on but when I do, watch out.


So here this extraordinarily handsome man of Eastern European extraction was giving me the the opportunity to meet him and I could not do anything. I has absolutely stupefied. He stood facing me for about fifteen minutes, although it seemed a lot longer. Finally he turned around to the water, obviously giving up on me once he realized that I was a total retard as far as cruising. I again took the the opportunity to take more pictures of him.

I took a picture of him and his group of friends, babies included. The captain of the ship was taking a picture so I took the opportunity to take a picture too, hoping they wouldn't notice. I think they did but they didn't say anything.


After we pulled into the dock and debarked boat, I saw him carrying a bassinet with a baby in it. I'm hoping that was his brother's baby and not his. I'm now convinced that he became aware that I was looking at him and was giving me the opportunity to talk to him. I was so afraid I would do a Jackie Gleason and say "humma, hum, hum, hum." Of course as is the case, after I got in my car and discussed this situation with my friend Bob I thought of all kinds of things to say. I could have said "What country are you from?" Or I could have asked "Is this the first time you have taken this cruise?" Maybe if I was really bold I could have said "You are the most extraordinarily sexually attractive man I have seen in years." Yeah, I could have said that. But I didn't. I could have even given him my card but wouldn't you know it I didn't have any with me. One thing is for sure, I will never forget his face.


I thought that my sexual libido had went into remission with the onset of my advanced years. Apparently this is not the case. I just haven't had the right stimulation. Tonight I was stimulated, big time.

Decision Time

Christmas 1971



After my visit earlier this week I have come to the conclusion it is time to move my Mother from her long time home in Pennsylvania to my brother’s home in Greenville, South Carolina. My other brother is taking care of her now at her home but her care is becoming ever more difficult. Without going into details (out of respect for her privacy), my brother in South Carolina has the facilities that are better suited to taking care of a partially invalid 85 year old woman. Of course the big problem is that my Mother doesn’t want to move from the home she’s known since 1958. Another problem is that my brother who is taking care of her now may not want her to move either. We have not discussed that possibility.

If we ask her to move, she will say “No” as she has said so often before. However, both my brother (in South Carolina) and I agree perhaps it is time to tell her that she is moving. As it stands now she has trouble walking and it is just a matter of time before she falls and breaks something then she won’t have a choice. We would prefer that she make the move now before she is completely invalid and dependent on nursing care.

None of us (me and my brothers) want to put her in a nursing home. She has been very emphatic that she will not go to a nursing home. Bother of her older sisters ended up in nursing homes. Her oldest sister died at 89 years of age in a nursing home a few years ago. Her other older sister is now 91 years old and still in a nursing home in the dementia ward. This is my Mother’s fear that she will also end up in a nursing home. So this is the case we have to present to her, the nursing home or living with my younger brother in South Carolina.

I’ve seen friends and relatives go through similar situation with their aging parents. I always knew in the back of my mind that my turn would come. I’m afraid my turn has come. My brothers and I will have to make some heart wrenching decisions concerning the future care of our Mother. No one said it would be easy. However, I never realized just how hard it would be. It's hard.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

You Can't Go Home Again




What a day! I'm at my Mom's in Pennsylvania now. I just returned from my 50th Class Reunion Committee meeting. That went well. It was good to see old classmates and finalize the preparations for our 50th class reunion this October 17th. I will be preparing the invitation and booklet for the class reunion.


The trip to Pennsylvania was agonizing. I experienced several traffic delays, the main ones being in Newark, Delaware, as I rounded the University of Delaware. No explanation other than a sign saying "Road Work" and a long line of cars and trucks at an absolute stop for about half an hour. Then, finally when that broke up I was caught in a Slow Boat to China Parade behind a contraption that sprayed the yellow dividing lines on the road. We were behind that spraying behemoth until the Pennsylvania border. Oh joy.


When I arrived near my Mom's, I noticed that the time was only 11:30 am. That meant "The Price is Right" was still on and my Mother does not like to be interrupted when she is watching this staple show of old folk. Then I made a big mistake. I went over to my previous property and took a ride up the lane. Sure, I took a chance of seeing the new owners, or of them seeing me but I was curious as to what the property looked like now. As I said, Big Mistake. As I drove up the long 500 yard winding lane (which he had custom constructed - Bill led the bulldozer up the road over 25 years ago clearing out the tree and underbrush.) I noted that all my carefully planted ground cover on the side of the lane was overgrown. I don't think it's been touched since we moved out November 17th, 2006. Then I got to the house. Both garage doors were wide open. Several vehicles were in the driveway and parking lot. Everything was overgrown. None of the hedges had ever been trimmed. Broken branches were all over the lane. When we lived there, that lane was always clear. All the plantings were weed free. All the hedges were trimmed. I didn't dare venture to see the status of my three ponds. I felt guilty when I left three years ago about leaving my pet gold fish in those ponds. Somehow I knew they would be neglected and die. I have no doubt those ponds are stinking, mosquito breeding swamps now. I don't even want to know or think about it.


I left quickly before one of the owners of the cars came out and discovered me. As I was going down Crawford Road I noticed one of my old neighbors trimming his hedge. I took a chance and drove up his driveway. We had a joyous reunion. He brought me up on all the news. It seems that the couple who bought our property split up over a year ago. The husband left and only his wife and two daughters lived on the property. That would explain the decrepit nature of the landscaping. I knew he wasn't a gardener or outdoors man but this property looked like the Grey Gardens. It was overrun with weeds and new tree saplings. My former neighbor told me the husband just returned last week because he heard his Porsche drive up the driveway. I think that was one of the cars parked out side my previous house. It's funny, but even though I sold that house almost three years ago, I will always consider it mine. I have plans to buy it back when I win the lottery, which I am way overdue.

After visiting with my former neighbors, I left for my Mom's which was just one road over. My brother met me. I was hungry and I asked him for a good place to eat. He suggested "Happy Days" which was a chrome plated diner in Thorndale reminiscent of the Fifties. Great choice! Wonderful Fifties ambiance, good food, good service and reasonable prices. Why aren't there restaurants like this where I live in Delaware? I love where I live but it is definitely lacking in unique themed restaurants like "Happy Days." My brother and I had a wonderful meal. I had a Chicken Caesar Wrap and he had a Philly Cheesesteak. Great artery cloggers.

We discussed the situation about our Mom. We both agreed it isn't getting any better. I am so thankful to have him for a brother. He is so patient with our Mom who is becoming more and more difficult. In fact, when I visited her I had to have sharp words with her (which I hate doing) to tell her to stop with the Obama/Pelosi/Democrat bashing. Unfortunately my Mom is one of those wing nuts who think Bush could do no wrong and the Democrats are out to send this country to hell in a hand basket. Nothing I say can convince her otherwise. She was getting herself all worked up (as she and most of the other wingnuts do after listening to the drivel on Fox News and the likes of Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh) until I had to remind her that I came up to visit HER and not discuss politics. After a few tries I finally got through to her and she agreed that it wasn't fair to throw all that right wing propaganda at me. She is like those so called protesters at the town hall meetings. They're not interested in discussions, only shouting down anyone who opposes their rigid set view of the world. They want "their country back" whatever that means. I suspect it means they're upset that a black family is living in the White House and gays like me are treated as equal citizens. They cannot accept that the extreme right wing of the Republican Party lost the election and that this is a democracy ruled by majority rule. The Bush crazies had their eight years, now it's our turn. We certainly can't do worse than the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld triumvirate. But then there is no discussing this fact with these kind of people so I had to close the discussion down.


I took the time to visit my old garden in the back of my Mother's property. That acre of land used to be my father's garden but when he died in August of 2000, she said I could use it to plant my flowers and other plantings. Since I've moved in 2006, the area has become very overgrown. That's not all bad because the butterfly plants are about fifteen feet high covered in butterflies. It was so peaceful visiting that area. If I wasn't at my Mother's computer as I am now, I would upload a photo of the garden and the giant butterfly plants. Instead I will have to substitute a generic picture that I find on the Internet until I return home and can upload my pictures.


Later this evening I met my friends Carole and Sheila for a delightful dinner at the Brickside Grill. Again, one of my very favorite restaurants in Pennsylvania. Only they know how to make a perfect Chicken Quesadillo. I've tried them other places, including a very expensive one in Rehoboth Beach at the Purple Parrot (a cheesy mess) and none compare with the delicate, just right flavor of the Brickside Grill's pumpkin seed filled quesadillo served with fresh salsa (another commodity that I cannot find in the Rehoboth/Lewes/Milton area of Delaware where I live.)


After dinner I sat on a bench outside the Brickside Grill and Sheila and I caught up on old times. There was a concert in progress outside with many people milling about. This is another example of where Pennsylvania has it all over Lower Slower (the southern area of Delaware where I live.) There were a lot of people and cars at this event but there was no traffic gridlock, no frustrated drivers who could not find parking places, and no parking meters. It was all free. Now if Pennsylvania could only do something about their confiscatory taxes. That is where Delaware has it all over Pennsylvania and the main reason I moved from Pennsylvania.


Our reunion committee meeting was schedule for 7:30 at a classmate's house not far from where I'm staying at my Mom's. I arrived a few minutes past the meeting time and told them they could all begin the meeting. Some some the humor, some did not. No matter. At my age I take little or no offense. We had a good meeting and refreshments were served after the meeting. I asked the hostess (the wife of one of our classmates) to take a group picture of us oldsters who will be celebrating our 50th class reunion. God are we old. We look it too. Well, some of do anyway.


Now I'm home, preparing to try to go to sleep with Fox News blaring on my brother's TV downstairs in the basement. He uses this drivel as wallpaper to put him to sleep. It sure doesn't put me to sleep. How can Sean Hannity spewing his nonsense put anyone to sleep? I put a fan in my room. It won't drown out his Obama/Pelosi bashing but hopefully I will be able to drop off from sheer exhaustion from this long, long day in Pennsylvania.


With everything that went on today (I didn't get my nap either), what has me the most upset is seeing the condition of my former home. I've been told by more than one person that you should never go back to your former home because it will only disappoint and sadden you. Well, they were right. I found out that you truly cannot go home again. I may be here, but it isn't home anymore. My home is in southern Delaware and I love living there even though most of the restaurants suck.


Monday, August 10, 2009

Cemetery Trolling




This morning I engaged in one of my favorite activities, cemetery trolling. Through my membership in Find a Grave.com, they sent me a request to take pictures of two graves in the Milton Cemetery in Milton, PA. Today was hot and steamy but I ventured forth anyway and search for the graves. For some reason I can’t explain, I receive a great sense of peace and tranquility when exploring a cemetery. Spring and fall are the best times to troll through cemeteries. However, I had this request today and I felt a need to fulfill it now.

Bill and I went to Milton earlier to check our friend’s lawn. He’s away for awhile and we stopped by to make sure it didn’t get too wild. While we were there I had visited awhile with his neighbor, who has an absolutely beautiful garden. Bill was mowing our friend’s lawn but had to stop because the heat was overbearing. I took him home and returned to the cemetery. Bill usually likes to go cemetery trolling with me but he couldn’t do it in this heat. I took Bill home and came back to the cemetery.

I spent about forty-five minutes in the cemetery and was about to give up when I found the two graves I was looking for way in the back. One of those graves is pictured in this blog. Mission accomplished.

When I got home I spent most of the day inside. The heat is just too overbearing. I didn’t go out until late in the day. I cleaned out the bird baths and refreshed their water. I also took my daily walk (which I’ve missed the past two days) in the development behind me. My routine may sound boring but to me it is very enjoyable and relaxing. Cemetery trolling, taking care of my bird baths, early evening walk, that’s what I call a good day.

Tomorrow I’m supposed to make the 2 ½ hour drive to Pennsylvania to attend a 50th class reunion committee meeting. I missed the last one. I may miss this one too. Showers are forecast and I don’t like to travel in rain. Last time I traveled to Pennsylvania, it was also showering. I also visit my Mom and brother. I know she misses me and I do like to visit her but I may have to take a pass on this one. I definitely cannot attend Trivia Night (another enjoyable pastime) on Wednesday night because I’m working at the hotel Thursday morning.

Bill told me again he hates living down here in Delaware. That makes me sad because I love living here. I wish he could find the peace and happiness that I find living here on the coastal shores of southern Delaware. For me it’s all good.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Musings on a Hot and Humid August Sunday


The oppressive heat and the humidity continues heavy in the air on this August Sunday in lower Delaware, bringing outside activity to a halt. I would love to take my daily walk but I know when I return I will be drenched in sweat. I’ve already taken one shower today. I don’t feel a need to increase Tidewater’s (our local water supply company) profits anymore than I have already this summer.

Bill and I took a ride up to Milton this morning. I was out of strawberries for my breakfast of corn chex cereal. I decided to swing on my Pepper’s Nursery. Not much activity going on their either. I purchased a large flowered pot to transplant my poinsettia flower which I’ve been coddling along in a succession of ever bigger pots since I purchased it as a $1.29 orphan this past Christmas. By Christmastime this year I should have a monster poinsettia to celebrate brighten up my sun room on the cold days of winter, which will surely come.

Mr. Pepper had an obituary and a picture of his longtime faithful companion Rocky (a Bernese Mountain dog big as a person) by his cash register. I had noticed that his big friendly dog was no longer around but I was reluctant to ask why. The obituary said his friend and longtime companion died at 18 years old on June 18th. Mr. Pepper told me that Rocky was born on the floor only a few feet from where I was standing. He said Rocky always enjoyed meeting customers in the store and thought he worked there. I told Mr. Pepper that Rocky probably thought the store was his home and all these people were coming to visit him. I asked Mr. Pepper if he was going to get another dog and he said “No.” He said that he could never replace Rocky. He also said that he still gets emotional when he talks about Rocky and that he would never get over the loss of his friend.

Bill and I have had a total of five dogs over the years. They were all Pomeranian. They’re all gone now and I doubt if we’ll ever get another one. I see the dogs up for adoption from the local SPCA chapter in the local newspaper all the time. I would love to rescue one of these loving critters but I doubt if I ever would again. We both feel the same way; we could never replace our longtime friends

An old and longtime friend of mine who lives near Pittsburgh recently lost his much loved Sheltie. He and his wife went a while without a dog. However, after a short time they decided their home was no longer a home without the welcoming presence of a canine friend. He got another Sheltie, a beauty called Barbara Jean. In fact, he liked her so much he and his wife also adopted Barbara Jean’s half brother, Andy. They now have a happy and living home again. That is one approach. It has been proven in many studies that having a pet increases our long term health. However, I don't know if we're ready take that big step again.

Many times when I post a blog like this I don’t know what subject I’m going to write about. I just start and let my mind take me to where it wants to go. On this muggy August day this is where it went, a remembrance of the special relationship that some of us are privileged to have with our canine friends.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

A Good Day




Today was one of those good days. Our friend, who I've been writing about, agreed to visit us today. He came over in the afternoon and spent several hours with us. We watched the classic "The Boys In The Band" downstairs in the cool climes of our finished basement on a wide screen TV. The last time he saw this movie was thirty nine years ago. Time sure does fly.


After the movie we had dinner and my new favorite restaurant, The Flying Crab. The owner recognizes me now (I've been there so often) and waited personally waited on my. I'm not used to all this attention but I welcomed it. Later, we came back and our friend spent some quality time with Bill on our back deck. He said he felt a lot better since he came over for this visit.


He left just before dark but not before promising to come over for dinner when we have our other mutual friend over for dinner. I think the best medicine for our friend now is to get his mind off of his bad situation and to enable him to have a broader view of his situation. I'm not a psychiatrist but this approach seemed to work today. Who know what tomorrow will bring. It's one day at a time now.

Friday, August 07, 2009

The Dog Days of Summer




The days are getting shorter. In a few short weeks, summer 2009 will end. Another year, another summer, another season will be over. The bluebirds have already gone. Most of the Purple Martins have departed for destinations unknown. A few have returned at the end of the day of nest on top of their summer home out in the back yard. A nest of young sparrows is in one of the Purple Martins apartments. Yes, I relented and finally let one sparrow couple raise their young in the Purple Martin house. They persisted all summer in building their nest and laying their eggs and I was just as persistent in getting rid of the eggs before they hatched. I felt guilty every time I did it but I had to make room for the Purple Martin young. Now that most of them are gone, I have relented and let them raise at least one batch. I know it's not logical but maybe it will make up for all those sparrow eggs that I tossed earlier this summer.

Tomorrow I was supposed to go to a Gouge family reunion near Oxford, Pennsylvania and the Nottingham Park. I sent my regrets. I’m just not into traveling long distances these days, especially to a destination I’m not sure how to get to. I especially don’t relish traveling on a hot summer day on highways clogged with weekend traffic. It’s just not my thing. I would love to visit my Gouge relatives, take pictures and update family trees but I will have to depend on my cousin Laura for that information. I get enough of the clogged highways right here in lower Delaware. Ironically, we live right next to Route 1. The road I would have to travel to Nottingham Park near Oxford, PA is also Route 1. It is a different Route 1. A Pennsylvania Route 1 versus a Delaware Route 1. When I lived in Pennsylvania another main road was Route 30. You guessed it. One of the main roads near here is also a Route 30. A totally different Route 30.

Route 30, that brings to mind our visit this morning to our friend who lives near Georgetown, Delaware in his double-wide trailer on 22 acres of wooded land. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, my longtime friend was informed last week that he had the early stages of dementia. He called it “partial dementia” as if it would make it less serious. But, to my mind, "partial dementia" is like being "partially pregnant." Either you are or you're not. A woman may be in denial about her pregnancy but each day she gets bigger. Our friend is still somewhat in denial about his problem, but each day he fades a little more.

Our friend lives near Route 30, Delaware. Earlier this week he had a security system installed in his mobile home. He has already been robbed once by a home invader and he lives in fear of his neighbor who is encroaching upon his land. He is now a prisoner in his own home. Because of his “partial dementia”, he has difficulty in understanding and operating his new security system. He can’t sleep at night because he is afraid of his neighbor after that neighbor warned him that he shouldn’t go back to where their properties border one another. He is concerned over the firearms that his neighbor possesses. We have talked to him about notifying the police that he was threatened by his neighbor but he is afraid to do so. Earlier this week his nephew and his wife visited. They also urged him to do something. Our friend is petrified. He is paralyzed with fear. He says he is “dying.” We have offered to accompany him to the local police barracks to report the incident. He refuses to go.

He wants to sell his property and move to a safer location but doesn’t know how to take the first step. Many times over the past several years when my friend has encountered problems like this, I have done the legwork, got all the details and handed over the work to him to complete only to see him drop the ball. He does it every time. I don’t know if his problem is inertia, laziness, or just a predisposition to stick his head in the sand and hope everything will go away. His problems are not going away. They are getting worse. He is either unwilling or unable to take the first step to help himself. The old adage "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink" comes to mind.

After my conversation with him yesterday about taking steps to report his neighbor physical threats to the police and his lack of action, I was unable to get a good night’s sleep myself. This is starting to affect me now and Lord knows I have enough problems with my Mother and her situation. I visit her next week. I have to gear myself up for that ordeal.

My friend has a partner who lives with him. They just celebrated 25 years of domesticity together. His partner is very capable mentally but unfortunately is so involved with himself and his hypochondriac ways that he fails to see the mental and physical decline of his partner. Bill has asked his partner if he’s noticed the change in his partner. The response was “No, I haven’t seen any change.” This is a very sad situation. Sometimes those closest cannot see a problem. The decline has been so gradual over the years they are blind to the the change.

This morning our friend lamented that he has no memory left. He said it is so frustrating because he cannot remember anything. We can see the toll it is taking on him. He looks haunted. He can hardly talk. I am at my wit’s end what to do. Should I do anything? I’ve offered to help but he refuses to do anything when we suggest concrete actions. He thinks if he buries his head in the sand he will wake up one day and everything will go away. That isn’t going to happen. As with my Mother, all I can do now is monitor the situation. Like my Mother, he has to make the decision to do something about his neighbor and selling his home. My Mother has to make the decision to move out of her home and into a more accommodating location for her physical and mental decline. It’s ironic but both of these people have told me all their lives that they didn’t want to become a burden when they became old. Well, they are now becoming a burden and they don’t even realize it.

I hope when my time comes, it is not a slow mental and physical decline like these two people I’ve known and loved all my life. I always thought a good way to go was to take a nap and not wake up. Hopefully I have a few more years to go (I’m 67 now) and if I do I don’t know who is going to be around to take care of me. My partner will be 81 next month so it is unlikely it will be him. I dread to think that any of my nieces or lone nephew would be my caregiver. I have several grand nieces and nephews but they only know me as the distant and mysterious “Uncle Ronnie.” And I certainly don’t want to fall into the clutches of one of these opportunistic gay men who specialize in “caring” for elderly gay men. None of these scenarios looks very good for my well being, peace and serenity at the end of my life. I try not to think about it. Perhaps this is why I’m so upset over the situation of my longtime friend; I fear that it will be me in the future. In the meantime, I will enjoy the small things of life like watching the hummingbirds feeding at the hummingbird feeder on my back deck last night at sunset. I treasure each day of physical and mental health I have on this earth for I know too soon it could all end.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Dinner at Paul and Jack's Place


























Bill and I took the long ride down to Ocean City, Maryland this afternoon for dinner with our friend Paul and Jack. This is the first time I’ve driven to Ocean City since we moved here almost three years ago. It was an experience. First we ran into the heavy rush hour traffic in Rehoboth Beach. Then as we entered Dewey Beach, the skies opened with a heavy shower. We had to pull off the road for about 20 minutes for the cats and dogs to stop falling.

Then we were on our way again driving down the narrow strip of land that connects the southern most part of Delaware from Ocean City, Maryland. We drove through sunshine, another shower, sun again and again another shower. It was like we were being tested. Finally we saw the high rises lining the ocean beach that are unique to Ocean City, Maryland. Paul and Jack’s condo was just off 120th Street.

Even though I missed the first turn, we still arrived on time (5 o’clock) and were greeted warmly by Paul and Jack at the door. After a tour of the premises we settled down to an evening of camaraderie and friendship. This was not a “Boys in the Band” get together of gay friends. The times have changed. No hurtful displays of self hate and deadly zingers in this get together of gay friends.

We sat down to a delicious dinner of mustard and wine chicken recipe and wild rice with a side of asparagus. Paul, Jack and I washed it down with Zinfandel wine. Bill drank water. For dessert we had Key Lime Pie made especially by the Notting Hill Coffee Shop in Lewes, Delaware. I picked up the pie in the morning in Lewes in a very crowded coffee shop. It was worth the extra effort because the pie was delicious even thou it fell apart when cut. I was warned to keep the pie in the freezer until 20 minutes before serving. We didn’t do that but no matter. The pie was delicious anyway even if it was a pudding pool in the middle of our dessert plates.

After we thanked Paul and Jack for a wonderful evening together with friends, Bill and I got on good old Route 1 and headed north to home. All in all, we had a delightful evening with friends. Thank you Paul and Jack for your hospitality.

Hubris






“Hubris” is a book about the inside story of the spin, scandal, and the selling of the Iraq war written by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. It was my good luck that Mr. Isikoff was a guest in the hotel where I work. When I told Mr. Isikoff that I had a copy of his book, he generously offered to autograph my copy of his book. Never one to miss an opportunity, I called Bill and asked him to bring it o me at the hotel. Mr. Isikoff autographed my book with the message “To Ron, who has a sharp eye for the news. Best Wishes, Michael Isikoff, 8/03/09.” My book and the autographed page are pictured on this blog. Needless to say I was very honored and happy that Mr. Isikoff took time to autograph my book.

Even better, he stayed a while and we discussed the run-up to the Iraq war and how the news media failed to ring the alarm. I mentioned to him that my co-worker now has a son in Iraq which brings home the consequences of this war of choice which should never have happened. During our conversation I kept thinking I’m actually discussing the war in Iraq with a man I see on television (MSNBC mainly) frequently. I guess I’m easily impressed but I was sort of feeling out of body experience when I was having my with Mr. Isikoff.

Unfortunately, the conversation ended when another guest approached the front desk and wanted to know the “back way” to get into Rehoboth Beach. My job comes first so as I turned around to help that customer, Mr. Isikoff thanked me for reading his book and asked me to urge all of my friends to also get his book. So, do you hear that friends? BUY “Hubris” by Michael Isikoff and David Corn. It is a well written and interesting book about the “inside story of spin, scandal, and the selling of the Iraq war.” What a gracious and generous man Mr. Isikoff was to take time out of his holiday and autograph my book and spend some time talking with me. He is a kind man.

I’ve always been a political junkie, from my earliest days in high school. My 10th grade civics class with Mr. Caskey was one of my favorite classes. It was a real thrill for me yesterday to meet Mr. Isikoff and to talk with someone as knowledgeable as he was on the war in Iraq. Just one more reason I'm happy with where I am at in life now, living in southern Delaware, working at a nice hotel and meeting wonderful people like Mr. Isikoff. Just another day for me to be thankful.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Breakfast Room at the Inn

If I say so myself, I think I set out a pretty nice breakfast at the hotel where I work. Breakfast comes free with the room!

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Brush with Celebrity



Every once in a while, in my corner of the world, wherever that happens to be, I occasionally meet a famous person. My latest brush with celebrity was Saturday morning at my job as a front desk clerk at a small boutique hotel in Lewes, Delaware. I cannot mention the name of this famous person out of respect for his privacy and my position at the hotel but I can say he is a very well known person. I’ve seen him on TV for the past twenty years or so and have always admired him and his candid, straightforward way of explaining the issues in the field in which he is a recognized expert. He is also in charge of a large government agency which has a budget of billions of dollars.

I haven’t met or encountered that many celebrities in my lifetime but I have found the encounters to be very interesting. I have a chance to see what they’re really like. The famous person I met this weekend was a very pleasant, unassuming, down to earth man who, if you didn’t know who he was, you would never suspect he is a world renowned figure in his field. I was very impressed by him and his family. They all seemed so normal. What really impressed me was every time he went by the front desk, he always said “Hi!” to me like he really meant it. I think he did. That’s more than I can say for many of the guests of the hotel. To most of them I'm the automaton behind the front desk who dispenses the keys to their room, tells them how to get to the beach and advises them of the best place to get a crabcake.

In the two and half years I’ve worked at this hotel, I’ve had the occasion to make reservation for important people. Almost always someone else, usually their assistant or travel agent makes the reservation. They always make it clear that they want the best room because they have a very important client. Not so this gentleman. In fact, the two rooms he rented weren’t two of the best rooms (of course all of the 22 rooms and 2 VIP suites at the hotel where I work are great.) They were on the second floor, with a partially blocked view of the canal. Almost all of our guests want the room with the best view of the water. This guest made the reservation himself. He came in with his family. Neither he nor his family demanded special treatment. They were just a pleasant as anyone could be. What a delight.

Coincidentally, on Saturday I also took a reservation for another famous person. He is an author whose book I have. His wife made the reservation under his name. When she spelled out his name I told her “I think I know who your husband is.” I mentioned the book he had written and the fact that he is often on MSNBC (which I watch all the time) and she said “You’re right, that is my husband.” He is checking in tomorrow night when I’m on shift again so I will meet my second celebrity in less than a week. I can’t wait to see what he’s really like. Boy I love my job!