Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Last Day

Today is the last day of the year and the decade. And what a decade it has been.

I started out the decade with a well paying job and satisfying job that utilized all my skills and experience I had gained working for thirty five years in bank trust operations. I was living in my dream home on seven acres of pristine woodland property in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

My 401K and IRA accounts were worth over a quarter million dollars. Family and friends I have known all my life were alive and well.

I ended the decade having many of my friends and family either to death or dementia. Most of my savings were wiped out in the Tech Bubble. I sold my wooded paradise home in Pennsylvania at $195,000 less than my asking price.

I retired to Delaware to escape the high taxes of Pennsylvania. My new home in Delaware now has a mortgage (my first since 1979) that won’t be paid off until I’m 95 years old.

Several of my good friends have died. Others have had life threatening illnesses. My best friend and my Mother are now suffering from dementia.

Our country is vastly different on this last day of the decade that it was the first day of the decade, which I remember well (I worked the night shift at the hotel where I worked at that time.) The events of 9/11 changed all of that.

This year I will also be working at a hotel, the night shift. Where will I be ten years from now? If I’m alive, I am quite sure I will be by myself.

I have no doubt the next decade will see changes that are unforeseen at this time. Hopefully, they will be for the better. But nothing in this life is guaranteed. The past decade is proof enough.

Happy New Year everyone!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Up in the Air

I haven’t flown since 9/11. The reason I haven’t flown isn’t the one that might come to you mind at first. No, it isn’t that I am afraid to fly. The reason I haven’t flown is that I refuse to be subjected to the ridiculous security measures that are now the norm for the average airline passenger.

Flying before 9/11 was an ordeal. At 6’3” I was usually stuffed in a middle seat. Even though my weight is only about 160 pounds, I was always physically uncomfortable flying. It was just an ordeal I had to get through to get from point A to point B.

Most of my flights were between Philadelphia and Boston’s Logan Airport where I would switch over to catch the local commuter flights to Provincetown, Massachusetts. Again, the whole procedure was an ordeal. From making sure my luggage was transferred (make sure you tip the airport skycaps in Philly or else that luggage doesn’t even get on the plane) to getting a seat that wasn’t right behind someone smoking.

I’ve only made three other flights to different destinations in my life. One flight I made to San Francisco, California for a lost weekend. Another flight I made to Cleveland, Ohio for another lost weekend. The “lost weekends” were both gay related. Don’t ask.

The third flight I made to visit my brother and his family in Greenville, South Carolina. That wasn’t a lost weekend like the other two. That was a legitimate flight that I would like to make again.

My Mother now lives with my brother in South Carolina. I would love to visit her and my brother and his family. However, I will not do it as long as I have to go through this ridiculous routine of taking my shoes off before I board a plane.

As I have mentioned in previous blog postings, I’m not the smartest person in the world but there are certain things in which I am an absolute genius about. My biggest claim to fame was that I saw through was this whole “weapons of mass destruction we must go to war with Iraq” fiasco. I also knew from the get go that George W. Bush was a fraud (but I was far from alone in figuring that out. I had a lot of company.) Of course I also knew that most of Congress, both parties are corrupt and care nothing about the average American but only their chances of getting reelected and perpetuating themselves in power. Again, I wasn’t alone in this statement of the obvious.

Oh every now and then I slip. For instance I did believe in Barrack Obama and “Change that you can believe in.” Since he has been in office he has shown himself to be nothing more than George W. Bush Light. The only positive thing he has accomplished is lowering the level of hatred of the United States by the rest of the world. While important he has done nothing that directly affects my life. But this is a subject to another blog posting that I won’t go into here

On Christmas Day a Nigerian man attempted to blow himself up on a plane bound from Amsterdam to Detroit. He did not succeed. All he succeeded in doing was setting him self on fire and being subdued for a few brave fellow passengers. Now there is your real airline security. It is the vigilant eye of the fellow passengers and their willingness to subdue any potential terrorists.

All the millions of passengers who removed shoes didn’t prevent this terrorist trying to blow up a plan. What did this terrorist do? He put the package of explosives next to his package. So now what are the “experts” on airline security going to do? Pat everyone’s “package” before they board a plane? Are you looking forward to going through that security check? That sounds very much like what used to go on at the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the “packed to the gills” gay bar in Philly I used to frequent in the 70’s.

Folks, I think it is time to announce the obvious. The terrorist have won.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Day After the Day After

Not much going on today except frustration. First I thought I would be a nice guy and visit my friend who is slipping into the fog of dementia. I suggested taking him for a ride to the beach and sit on the boardwalk on this sunny day. Just as I was about to out the door I got a call from a friend of mine in Florida. I take the call which results in me getting out the door late. I call my friend and tell him I'm going to be late. He says "Okay."

So I call my friend and tell him I'm going to be late. When I get to my friend's house he opens his locked door and says "Didn't you get the call?" I said "What call?" He said he called my house and told Bill that he and Jim "weren't feeling well." Uh, not "feeling well." This came on all of a sudden?

Bill may have called me but I had my new TracFone cell phone off. So I didn't get the call. It didn't matter anyway because I hadn’t set up my Voicemail. And that is another frustration of the day which I will go into later in this blog posting.  Sit down and stay a spell.  This is a longer than usual blog posting.

So since I'm there I walk myself in the house (I'm that way.) However I could sense his apprehension. I sit down and he look warily at me. What? Then Jim comes out of his bedroom in his bathrobe. He looks around and says "Who am I? Where am I?" I guess it's true, they're not feeling well. Now remember this is Jim of the 165 personalities. Not one more or one less but 165 personalities. He doesn't know who he is or where he is.  Oh yes, he doesn't acknowledge my presence at all.  But this isn't anything unusual.  That's what he usually does when I visit my friend.  I'm the invisible man. 

I hear the Twilight Zone theme playing faintly in the background. These people are crazy, absolutely crazy.

I'm not the smartest guy in the world but I do know when I am an unwelcomed guest. So I get up to leave. My friend says "I'm sorry." What for? For feeling "not well?"  So, as Jimbo wanders back into his bedroom like a nightwalking scarcrow, I decide to split this joint.  I know when I'm not wanted.  Feeling sorry for myself (feels good sometimes but not today), I head for the front door and slip on my shoes (which I always take off when entering anyone's house.  Don't ask.  It's just something I do. Maybe I'm nuts.)

So this is the deal folks. Jim, my friend's partner is a nut. A certified, guaranteed nut.  On top of that he is very possessive. He probably threw a hissy fit when he learned that I was coming over to take his Significant Other out for a ride. To quote Steve Martin "Well, EXCUSE ME!" Folks, this isn't the first time this has happened. But I'm afraid it's going to be the last time. THE LAST TIME.  I am tired of this.  So tired. 

I leave. When I got home I get an earful from Bill because I didn't have my cell phone. As I said before it didn't make a difference because my voice mail wasn't set up. So what do I do? I attempt to set up my voice mail. That is easier said than done.

I set up my voice mail then I call it from my land line to test it. Then I turn on my TracFone to see if I can retrieve my voice mail. By the way, any of you reading this blog who have TracFone who didn't have a problem setting your voice mail and want to tell me that.....forget it. It doesn't do me any good that you didn't have trouble. I'm glad you're special and DIDN'T HAVE TROUBLE. I DID.

So I call my Voicemail. Immediately I get a message that reads something like "You have activated the feature to retrieve recently deleted voice mail messages. Go to the main menu and press 311." What? First I didn't ACTIVATE anything. Secondly, how about retrieving my voice mail?

While I'm playing with this my minutes are disappearing before my very eyes. I try it again. I get the same message. Again, I try it. Again I get the same message. This time I wait until the end of the message and it gives me two options. Either to press 1 to hear the message again or to press 2 to "continue." "Continue" sounded like a good option so I pressed 2. Now I get a message saying "I can't hear you." WTF? I'm in a loop. I go through the whole routine again, and again.  I'm definitely in a loop and I'm the only one losing because my minutes are disappearing as fast as a cabbie's meter reader goes up.

My minutes are still disappearing. When I started out I had 242.50 minutes. Now I'm down to 219 minutes and I'm no farther along that I was when I started out other than I am tremendously frustrated.

Then I make the momentous decision, I call the TracFone Help line. Omigod. As I expected I get someone in India who I can hardly understand or hear. She goes through her whole menu of test options. I'm constantly saying "What?" "I don't understand you."

This comedy continued for about forty minutes until she finally wrote up a ticket for their technical department. She said it would be fixed in four hours. Uh huh. It will take longer than that. I've seen this movie before.

After I'm done and hang up the phone (thoroughly frustrated and irritable by now) I think "What about Bill's phone?" Here we go again. I call his phone and leave a message. I turn his phone on and, sure enough, the same "You have activated the retrieve recently deleted messages" feature.

Oh yes I did. I called TracFone again. This time I get someone I can actually hear and understand most of what she is saying. But she is also following a script. I have to jump through all the hoops all over again to get to the point where she writes up a ticket for their technical department. This all take another 45 minutes or so. I've been on the phone since a few minutes after 12 noon and it is now almost 3 o'clock. All this because I thought I would be a nice guy and take my friend who is headed toward La La Land on a Sunday afternoon ride to the boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach.

Ever hear of the saying "No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?" You have you say? Well, that's what happened to yours truly today. I should have just stayed home and scanned some more slides into my computer. I could have taken a walk outside on this rare, sunny, beautiful day. Then take an afternoon nap. After the nap go outside and check out my backyard before the sun goes down early again today (I hate short days.) Then maybe come in and annoy Bill some before I get on my computer again and try and figure out why I can't go to the "Home" key on my FB account when I'm on AOL but I can when I'm on my MSN account. Frustration, frustration, frustration. 

In the evening I would have dinner then a Netflix movie. Yes, that's what I should have done. But I didn't. But alas, the day wasn't a total loss. When I got on my computer a friend sent me an Instant Message telling me how hot a recent picture that I had posted of myself (part of my Oldie Goldie scans for the genealogy album) was. Hey, nice to hear. Of course that isn't me now but still it was nice to hear.

Maybe today wasn't such a bad day after all. It is amazing how one little compliment can dispel all the negativity that was generated today.  Thank you Cousin Norm.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Day After

Another Christmas is past. While I like Christmas (but no the craziness of Christmas shopping), I'm never sad to see it go. Now life can go back to normal, or at least what passes for normal around here in Slower Lower.

This morning Bill and I ventured out for our weekly breakfast at Zorba's in Rehoboth Beach. Actually, Zorba's isn't right on the beach (which it sounds like) but along Route 1, just past the Wal-Mart. Actually, aren't quite a few stores "just past Wal-Mart?" But that a subject for a future blog. Who says they run out of subjects for blog postings? Not I.

Anyway, we venture out in the wind and rain, barreling down Rt. 1 to Zorba's. We're the first customers there. No big surprise. The economy is bad everywhere, especially in the restaurant industry. I fear that some of the restaurants down here in this resort area will close permanently if business doesn't pick up soon. Even though this is a resort area and most of the business is in season, this year we have had an unusual amount of rain. In fact, we've had a LOT OF RAIN. Enough rain already.

Our usual waitress Erin (or "Ear Ring" as Bill likes to call her because she wears big hoop earrings) was slouched over the cash register. She was ready for another day of humoring the Old Gay Guys. Hey, it could be worse. She could be humoring the Grumpy Old Straight Guys. At least we're happy. Well, most of the time anyway.

Erin came over to chat a bit. We asked her how her Christmas was. She said "It was nice." She asked us how our Christmas was. We said "It was nice." HOOOKAY. Let's move this conversation on a bit further. I asked her how her kids (she has two daughters, an 8 year old and a 4 year old) liked Christmas. Well, that opened the flood gates. Asking parents about their kids is a guaranteed conversation starter. And that is fine. I love hearing parents talk about their kids. I like seeing the genuine smiles on their faces as they relate the latest exploits of their kids. After all, that is the purpose of most people's lives anyway isn't it? Having and raising kids?

I often think that if I had went the conventional route and gotten married (I almost did you know) at 20 years old I would probably have adult grandkids now. Wow. Anyone who knows me will probably find that hard to believe. But that was the possibility. Both of my brothers have adult grandchildren of child bearing age. It won't be too long before either or both of them are great grandfathers. So far I have five grand nieces and four grand nephews. Time is a ticking.

Last night I finally discovered my cache of old photos. I look a these photos and find it hard to believe that so much time has passed since I took these pictures in the Sixties. I always considered myself sort of a dorky kind of guy back then but now that I look at the photos I've changed my opinion. As compared with my Old Prospector look (I'm 68 now), I'll go for that unabashed naive, wrinkle free, low hairline look that I had in the Sixties. I sure would.

The picture above is me at the height of my Dorkdom - 1967

But back to the weather.  It looks like another gray, dreary, wet nor'easter type of day.  Dana Owens (aka Queen Latifah) said it best in her version of the old Mama's and Papa's song, "California Dreaming." 

All the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
on a winter's day
I'd be safe and warm
if I was in L.A
California Dreamin'
on such a winter's day
stopped into a church
I passed along the way
well, I got down on my knees
and I pretend to pray
you know the preacher likes the cold
he knows I'm gonna stay
California Dreamin'
on such a winter's day
all the leaves are brown
and the sky is grey
I've been for a walk
on a winter's day
if I didn't tell him
I could leave today
California Dreamin'
on such a winter's day

It is going to be that kind of day.  Only three more months to go until Spring.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

The sky outside is gray, the snow is melting under 48 degree temperatures and I have just returned home from working two shifts at the hotel in the last 24 hours.

This was the kind of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day celebration that I prefer. No more rushing around ladened with presents visiting friends and relatives. Some years ago I decided to opt out of the Christmas Rush and I haven't regretted it one minute.

Because I choose not to participate in this annual madness does not mean that I disparage those who do. In all things (except breaking the law of the land) I say "If that is what works for you; then go for it. This is what works for me."

Most folks have their personal traditions that they follow every Christmas season. I think that is a wonderful thing. Many years ago in my Previous Life, I used to take my bank profit sharing distribution and blow it on presents for my Mother and Father, nieces and nephew (I only have one), sisters-in-law (my brothers and I don't exchange presents; never have, never will) and my Honey. I even used to buy presents for all those who worked under me in the bank operations unit I supervised and managed for many years. Those days are long gone, along with the bank profit sharing distributions (wasn't that a relic of prehistoric times though?)

I worked the 3 pm to 11 pm shift last night at the hotel. All was quiet. This morning I worked the 7 am to 3 pm shift. All was quiet again. We had a few guests in the hotel. I welcomed them with a hearty "Merry Christmas!" and received the season's good wishes in return. That's all I ask. They're happy, I'm happy.

Now I'm home and adjusting to my new work situation. My manager informed me yesterday because of the low business at the hotel that I won't be on a regular shift next month and possibly the month after (January and February.) However, he told me that I would be "on call." That means I'll fill in whenever the regular full time front desk clerks are off. I've been doing that anyway since I have worked at the hotel. The only difference is that I won't have my regular hours.

The reduced income will necessitate me to review my expenditures. In other words, I have to watch my money more carefully now. No more buying things on impulse (my lifelong habit of which I have a basement storage room to attest.) Now I will have to be like almost everyone else and only part with my funds when absolutely necessary. This will probably mean fewer dine out nights with my friends in Rehoboth Beach.

So you see the ripple effect of this poor economy. We don't get the guests in the hotel, the employees of the hotel don't get the hours (I'm not the only one), and I don't spend my money at deserving restaurants in Rehoboth Beach thus supporting those establishments and their staff. Obama, DO SOMETHING ABOUT THIS ECONOMY!

With the extra time I have the next few months I plan to complete my purge of the remaining boxes I have in my basement storage room. I may finally get started with my EBay account after procrastinating all these years. I got a lot of "goodies" that need to make a one way exit out my front door. No excuses now. I may even cedar line my walk in closets. Now that would be a major accomplishment.

On this waning day gray skies and damp temperatures, Merry Christmas everyone and to all a good night!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve 2009

Christmas Eve 2009 and I'm finally starting to "feel it." This is what I always like about Christmas, this quiet time. I've never been one of those last minute shoppers or one of those people who rush around at Christmas visiting friends and relatives. That was something I did many years ago when I was young and went along with the usual Christmas activities.

About thirty years ago I found myself alone on Christmas Eve and I noticed how peaceful and serene I felt just by the quietness of it all. Ever since that time I have made it a point to spend Christmas Eve alone.

Many years I was alone at home during Christmas Eve. Other years it meant that I was working the Christmas Eve shift at a hotel. This year I am working at a hotel. Even working at the hotel I still find the peace and serenity of the solitude of Christmas Eve. I can't quite explain why, but it works for me. It is my tradition.

I understand others have different traditions at Christmastime. I am not disparaging those people or their activities. I think you should do whatever works for you. If you like spending time with the family and the kids, that's fine. Some others prefer to volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, then that's fine too. But for me, tonight I will connect with the Great Spirit that is within me.

In the spirit of the season, I wish to all the peace and serenity I feel this Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Not Feeling It

Here we are, two days before Christmas and I’m still not feeling it. Yes, it did snow and it looks like we’re going to have a white Christmas. That should have put me in the mood. It’s still not happening.

This morning Bill and I took an early run to the Super Wal-Mart in Milford for a little last minute Christmas shopping. He wanted to buy our neighbor a clamp on light. I saw some pink and blue ones at that Wal-Mart. Bill took one look at them and deemed them not masculine enough for the work he and Bob (our neighbor) will be doing in finishing his basement. Bill said he wanted something more manly. He said they didn’t have enough wattage and besides, he didn’t like the color. Whatever.

I got on my computer this morning but there isn’t much activity out there. I think all my Facebook friends and my old fogey friends who don’t use FB are busy with Christmastime activities. I’m not in the mood anyway.

I tried to work up some interest in starting my Class of 1959 blog (my old high school class), but I couldn’t tape the enthusiasm. Maybe I’ll get the bug next week.

One thing that is good, the sun has been out two straight days. Hallelujah! I thrive on the light, especially in the winter. Two days running, I’ve taken my daily walk back in the development behind where I live. Even though the air is brisk and the road is covered with patches of ice, the walk was worth it. I always fell invigorated after a good brisk walk.

The location of my bedroom is such that I receive the maximum benefit the passive solar light and heat during the day. The room is almost sensual in its warm comfort. Today and yesterday, I had a wonderful when I wake up I ask “where am I?” nap in the afternoon. The comfort of my bedroom and the availability of a place to walk are two of the main benefits of living where I do now. I love the low taxes of Delaware and the wide open spaces but I especially love my bedroom; my oasis.

Tomorrow I go to work at the hotel at 3 pm to 11 pm and return in the morning at 7 am. There was a time in my life when I would not have liked to work Christmas Eve and Christmas Day but I have to say that at this time of my life, I don’t mind. No, I don’t mind at all.

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day Two of the Thaw Out

Today is Day Two of the thaw out of the hit we took from the Major Winter Snowstorm of 2009. Here in the little development where I live ice still covers the roads. So much for our homeowner’s fees going to clearing the roads.

We only got two to three inches of snow on this the eastern side of Route 1, two miles from the ocean breeze. Further inland most areas got a foot or more of snow.

To have snow still on the ground two days after the snowstorm is unusual for this area. Usually the snow is gone by the end of the next day. That is just one more reason I like living in this area of southern Delaware, the snow doesn’t hang around too long.

Yesterday I didn’t go out of the house once, which is very unusual for me. I will make up for that today. A trip to Wal-Mart is planned. I want to get prints of some of the pictures I took of the Christmas party I attended with my co-workers on Sunday night.

I have to get out of the house at least once during the day. These days of darkness descending with its emphatic certainty will come to an end. It is all so very depressing to have midnight darkness at before 6 in the evening. Thank goodness today is the first day of winter. That means the days will start getting longer again. This is what I look forward to every year.

I am making major progress in going through and cleaning out the remaining boxes I have of my move from three years ago. Yesterday Bill took out a box for me to empty. That box contained all my files from my previous employments at Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia, as well as Downingtown National Bank and First Financial Bank. The first two banks I endured major drama. The paperwork is all there. As I sat in Bill’s basement office/storage area I leafed through and read some of the documentation of the saga and it brought back mixed emotions, good and bad. But that is a story for another time, perhaps that book I plan to write someday about my life.

Oh yes, that book will be written. That is my last main goal of my life. I will not go away until my story is told. Perhaps no one will find it of interest or read it while I’m alive. That fact doesn’t concern me. What concerns me is that I don’t want to depart from this life without a record of what actually happened. And that is the story that will be told. It won’t be long now. It is my story and my story alone. No one can take that away from me.

But for now I'm concentrating on just getting past Christmas and that dead week between Christmas and New Year’s in which most of the TV is about reviewing the past year, which I always find so boring.

In a couple of week it will be January and the New Year. The days will be getting longer and life will return to its normal routine. Then, before I know it, the first green sprouts of crocus will break their way through the frozen crust of earth by the sidewalk leading to my front door. That's when I know spring won't be far behind. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Day After

Here we are the day after the big winter snow storm of the season and it isn't even winter yet. Winter officially starts tomorrow, December 21st. Most of the rest of the east coast received a foot or more of snow; we received about two inches down here in Lower Slower, aka Sussex County, Delaware. No complaints here that is more than enough for us to enjoy the beauty of a white Christmas.

One of the complaints Bill has had since we moved to Delaware is that he misses the snow. Well, he got a dose this time and he was out in our driveway early, shoveling a path. I'll go on record and say I don't miss the snow. Maybe when I was a kid and we got a few days off from school but now that I'm an Old Grumpy Man, I don't miss it at all. Not at all. It's pretty to look at but I don't want to be driving in it. I don't even want to build a snow man. Grumpy, grumpy. That be me.

I called the Inn a little while ago to see if the Christmas party was still on. The owner of the Inn where I work has a sit down dinner party for all of his employees each year. This year as in last year it is going to be held at the Second Street Grill. Last year was the first time I ate there. I loved it. The party last year at the Second Street Gill had excellent service, good food and great company. I'm very fortunate in that I work with a wonderful bunch of folks and a very generous boss/owner. It doesn't get much better than that. I take nothing for granted.

Drive carefully. Be kind to animals, your friends, relatives, neighbors and strangers. I'll be back tomorrow to report on the party.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Let it Snow!

All day yesterday we were warned that a Major Snow Storm will hit the east coast today. Well, they were right. This was the scene from our back deck as the first light of morning dawned.

I love the snow, just as long as it is somewhere else. The lack of snow is another one of the reasons I moved to southern Delaware. When we do get snow, which we didn’t get any last year, it rarely lasts more than a day.

When we moved down here November 17, 2006, Bill insisted in bring his snow blower. It only took him one season to realize that the only thing that snow blower was doing was taking up precious space in our garage. He gave it to our neighbor who gave it to a friend of his who lived in Pennsylvania, where it snows. We remember, because that is where we used to live. Our snow blower got plenty of business in PA, not so much here.

Fortunately I don’t have to go to work today. But, our Christmas party is tomorrow night. I do look forward to going to the Christmas part. The owner of the hotel where I work is a very generous man and he always gives his employees a wonderful catered Christmas party. This year like last year, it will be at the Second Street Grill restaurant in Lewes. I hope this snow lets up by then. Bill will still have to take me in his four wheel activated Jeep Laredo.

This morning I called both of my brothers. Isaac, who lives in Pennsylvania (where the snow is) and John, who lives in South Carolina (my sister-in-law told me they got a “touch” of snow.) We moved our Mom to South Carolina to avoid having her deal with the snow. This is looking like a pretty good decision now.

Today I’m going to hang around the house and maybe scan some more of my old photos into my computer. I’m still on a roll in digging through the remaining boxes that are still unpacked in my basement media room. Will that ever end? I still haven’t found my old negatives. They’re someplace waiting for me to find them.

Now it’s raining outside. I can hear and see the rain beating on the windows of my front room office. If we’re lucky it will turn to sleet. Oh joy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting Organized

After three years I’m finally beginning to attack the roomful of unpacked boxes I have in my basement media room.

You’ve heard of writer’s block? Well, for the past three years I’ve had a block about unpacking those boxes. It was such an enormous effort just to get twenty six years of accumulated possessions packed from the old house that we sold in Pennsylvania. By the time we finally got down here in Delaware I was exhausted. I only unpacked the necessities. The rest I put off “until later.” Later never came.

Over the past three years Bill has frequently reminded me “When are you going to get rid of that junk?” Well “junk” it is not. Granted, most of the packed items I probably don’t need because I haven’t missed them in the past three years. But I’m one of those people who just can’t part with things. I “may need it” in the future. For instance, empty boxes? I may need them if and when I start selling things on EBay, which will probably never happen in my life time but if I do, I’m ready. I have loads of bubble wrap. I’ll probably “need that” too. You never know.

Most of the other items are “things” from my Previous Life. I just can’t bear to part with them. I’ll put that responsibility on the person who cleans out my belongings when I depart this earth. But for now I’m keeping them. They give me comfort. I even found old issues of my school newspaper “The Blue and Gold.” One of them had a picture of me looking oh so serious of my days on the high school track team. I had forgotten all about that picture. It is yellowed and weathered now but I still remember the anguish of my track and field days. I never came in better than last. Those were the days when I really had low self esteem. Oh the Teenage Years, trial and tribulation.

What started me on this Mission Impossible was searching for my old photo negatives. I recently hooked up a new HP Scanjet which scans slides (which I have found) and negatives. I know I have those negatives (every one since I started taking pictures in the Fifties) somewhere. They are in an old Christmas box. And I know I put them in a “safe place.” But as is so often the case, I put it in such a safe place that even I can’t find them now. But I know I’ve seen them since I’ve been down here. That is what is so frustrating. That box is somewhere in this house. But where could it be?

But oh what treasures I am finding emptying and digging through the contents of all those packing boxes. I have found many pictures which I will share with you the “lucky” readers of this blog. Notice how I’m assuming you would even be interested in these pictures? No matter, my blog is partly a function of providing therapy for my mental well being anyway and it would give me pleasure to share these old pictures of my Previous Life with the world. It’s all part of leaving a legacy of my time on this earth.

Even though I haven’t found those negatives (yet) one good thing has come out of this exercise. I have finally burst through the three year mental block of finally unpacking the remaining boxes of our move of November 2006. I’m on a roll now.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Take it Back

I like to dine out. I think that’s probably because I never went to a restaurant until I was 22 years old. I had been to a few diners in my teenage years but never to a real restaurant.

My first restaurant was Da Vinci’s Italian restaurant in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This was back in 1964 when Bill (my partner of now 45 years) was courting me. He wanted to impress me and indeed, I was impressed. Prior to this experience I had only dined at the typical Fifties chrome diner. Those chrome palaces were the Exton Diner in Exton, PA and Zynn’s Diner in Thorndale, PA. My high school friend Larry and I also used to frequent Dick Thomas’s Foot Long Hot Dog restaurant also in Exton. But I had never dined in a real, white table cloth, fancy dancy restaurant until Da Vinci’s.

My first meal was Veal Parmesan. I also had never eaten veal. My father did not believe in eating baby animals. To this day I still have not eaten lamb chops.

Well, I was blown away out how good the Veal Parmesan was. I loved the attentive waiter, the white table cloth (I never ate at a table with any kind of table cloth) and the candles on the table. I liked everything about the dining experience. The food, service and an evening out with someone I liked.

These days I’m not dining out with my love (Bill doesn’t like to eat out) but I do dine out with friends every opportunity I get (as they will quickly tell you if you ask them.)

Today I took my friend Barbara out to lunch for her birthday. I used a gift certificate I purchased at a Red Cross silent auction a couple of weeks ago. The gift certificate was for The Wharf Restaurant in Lewes. I had eaten at The Wharf earlier this summer. It was a so-so experience. The Wharf is located right on the canal in Lewes but it is somewhat of a tourist trap. Generally you’re not going to get the best food at a tourist trap restaurant. Today was no exception.

Barbara and I seated ourselves at the restaurant at about quarter after twelve. There weren’t any other customers in the restaurant. We were the first customers of the day. One would expect fast service wouldn’t one? Well, one would be wrong.

The waitress was nice enough but once we gave our order, we waited….and waited….and waited. Both Barbara and I ordered hamburgers. I specifically asked if the hamburger was char broiled. I was assured that they had the option to do that.

When we finally received our order I noted that my hamburger was served on sandwich bread. What’s that? Then I looked at the hamburger patty. Oh oh. It was the old perfectly round, gray, formerly frozen hamburger patter of undetermined origins. I took a bite. This wasn’t a char broiled hamburger. This hamburger had no taste. It was tasteless like all the mass produced, frozen hamburger patties that are delivered to our area of southern Delaware by the many Sysco tractor trailer trucks. So my request for a char broiled real hamburger was ignored. They lied.

Usually, I would not say anything and try and finish eating the hamburger but not today. Too often my friends have told me that if I didn’t like what I received tell the restaurant. I especially wanted to let this particular restaurant I wasn’t pleased because when I ate there this past summer I didn’t let them know but I did write about it in a review I posted online. The owner of the restaurant responded to my review and told me that I should try his restaurant again and if I wasn’t satisfied to let him know. That’s what I did today. I sent the hamburger back. I told the waitress it had no taste. It wasn't char broiled. The waitress apologized and took the offending hamburger (with the sandwich bread) away to the kitchen. A few minutes later I saw the cook (a big woman) come out and look over at our booth to see who the offending patron was. What's that all about?

The waitress came back and I ordered a Caesar Salad instead. My dining partner had got a Caesar Salad and she said it was good. My salad was good but the salad itself wasn’t fresh. It looked like the leaves were precut because they were brown around the edges. They probably brought one of those bags of precut Caesar Salad from the local supermarket. It definitely wasn't freshly torn Romaine. I was hungry so I ate it.

I was hungry all afternoon. I hate it when I go to a restaurant and I leave hungry. But this isn’t the first time this has happened since I’ve dined out in this area. I'm not a big eater. I'm 6'3" and weigh 160. I'm not a pig but I do need enough to satisfy my hunger.

This is something that has always puzzled me, why is it so hard for many of the restaurants in this area of southern Delaware to make a good hamburger? I only know of a few restaurants that make a decent hamburger by using fresh hamburger meat. They would be the Purple Parrot, Dos Locos, Gilligan’s and the Surfing Crab. Maybe it’s because this is a seaside resort and seafood is the preferred dish. I’m not a seafood guy. With me it’s chicken, hamburger or eggplant Parmesan. After that first veal dish, as delicious as it was, I still don’t eat baby animals.

Tomorrow is another day. Wednesday I'm going out to dinner again at another Lewes Restaurant, the Villa Sorrento. I hope my experience is better there than I had today at The Wharf. I'm ready for another good dining experience at an Italian restaurant. It has been a long time.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Are We Feeling Christmassy Yet?

Here we are with only two weeks before Christmas. Doesn’t it seem like each year Christmas rolls around even faster? First it’s Halloween, then Thanksgiving then it’s Johnny Mathis singing out “Sleigh Ride” at Walmart.

This year I wasn’t even going to put up Christmas lights because I just wasn’t in the Christmassy Mood. But, last week after returning home from our weekly breakfast outing at Zorba’s I decided to put forth an extra effort and go up in the attic and drag out the Christmas lights. Well, we all know how that worked out. I ended up putting my left foot through the ceiling above the kitchen sink.

Undaunted, I put up the Christmas lights outside the front of the house. And if I do say so, they look mighty fine. Bill is putting up more Christmas lights this morning on our shed in the back yard. We’re going for the Cozy Cottage Look out back.

Again this year I’m not putting up a tree in the house. In fact I haven’t put up a tree since we moved here in November of 2006. That first year we moved here it was out of the question. After the trauma of selling our house in Pennsylvania and moving down here (two monster moving vans); the only thing we were thinking about was decompression.

This year I did give serious thought to actually putting a real tree in the house. There is nothing like the smell of a fresh cut evergreen tree in the house. However, putting up a tree would entail me to pull out ALL the Christmas decorations and I am just not into that yet. Besides, we really don’t have company over for the holidays so it doesn’t make much sense to put a tree up. Plus, I’m working Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at the Inn. I’ll take a gander at their tree (which is beautiful by the way – good job Sandi and Monica!) and soak up the Christmas Spirit.

Earlier this week I was at J. C. Penney’s at the Dover Mall in Dover. Round the corner from J. C. Penney’s was the mall Santa (or one of his “helpers” I believe is the correct terminology.) I stopped a bit and observed a dad trying to get his kid revved up for his official Santa picture. I got a kick out of watching the activity. First, the kid didn’t want to be there, that was obvious. In fact the kid looked at me more than he looked at Santa. Then it was obvious that Santa didn’t want to be their either. Take a look at The Look that Santa gave me. I love it! That’s what I really like about Christmas; these little vignettes.

Last year I was at the Laurel Flea Market. Of course the Flea Market Santa is also a step (or two) down from the mall Santa. I took a wonderful picture of that bedraggled Santa but I can’t find it now on my hard drive. Maybe tomorrow I’ll take a drive down to the Laurel Flea Market and check out their Santa. I’m getting into the Christmassy Spirit now. Nothing like seeing a flea bitten Santa going “HO! HO! HO!”

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who Makes the Best Barber?

Yesterday I got a long overdue haircut. My barber, Dino, only works Wednesdays and Thursdays. The past month I was unable to coordinate my time with Dino’s time because of either my work schedule or one of the many Nor’easters that passed through this region.

Last month I needed a haircut so bad I weakened and let one of the women barbers cut my hair. Big Mistake.

I my lifetime I have had my hair cut less than five times by a woman. Each time it was a disaster. In my experience, women cannot cut men’s hair. That includes my Mother. She was the first one to cut my hair when I was a youngster. She literally put a bowl on my head and gave me a Buster Brown haircut. Even then at the tender age of seven I knew this was wrong.

Once in the Seventies I succumbed to the current fad and went to a “stylist.” Not that there was anything wrong with the way Nino (my longtime Italian barber at that time) cut my hair. On the contrary, I was always very pleased with his haircuts. But trying to be “with it”, I went to a stylist on Sansome Street (I worked in center city Philadelphia at that time. What did I get for my efforts? A big price ($24.00 versus the usual $8.00) to have a beautiful woman cut my hair. But wait, there’s more! She washed my hair. Not that I needed my hair washed, it was all part of the “treatment.” So she flattens the barber chair into a horizontal position, swings my head around to the sink then proceeds to wash my hair with on of those doggie spray hoses attached to the sink. All the while she’s doing this her boobs are flouncing around near my head, occasionally bumping into my skull. Now I know what I was paying $24.00 for (plus tip.) Thank you but no thank you (to quote St. Sarah Palin.) I’m not paying $30 to have a cheap thrill in the afternoon.

My next haircut was in the Nineties. I frequented a barber shop in the Lionville Shopping Center. I had yet to find my new Old Italian Barber so I used this barber shop which had three male and two female barbers. One time I was in a hurry and I felt guilty by always turning down the woman barber when she said “Next!” so I consented. Another BIG MISTAKE. When I got home I noticed that there were chunks of my hair that weren’t even cut. I couldn’t believe it. For the first time in my life I went back to the barber and asked the owner if he could fix it. He did but by going back and asking I had alienated all the barbers, including the woman barber. I got a few more haircuts after that incident but I could cut the animosity with a knife. I never went back.

Now to my latest experience with a woman barber. I needed a haircut so bad last month and I couldn’t wait for the next Wednesday or Thursday to roll around (mainly because of the incessant rain on those days), I let the lone woman barber cut my hair. And yet another BIG MISTAKE. I get home and my hair is uneven. WTF? Man oh man. Here we go again. What is so hard about giving me a haircut? I needed a haircut the next week. That’s how bad the haircut she gave me was. Awful.

Yesterday I got my haircut by Dino. He is a 71 year old barber of Italian American descent. He told me that barbering is a dying trade. I could not agree with him more. No more will I subject myself to the ineptitude of a woman barber. I don’t need the cheap thrill of having a woman’s breast swinging around in the proximity to my head. For those guys that do, go for it. I wish women barbers all the success in the world. But for me, all I need is a buzz cut.

The classic "Behind the Head" barber view.  Looks good to me (except for my early morning puffy face.)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Tiger: What Are You Made Of?

Yesterday I received my new copy of Vanity Fair. I opened the magazine and guess whose picture I see on the first page? That right, Tiger Woods. I was immediately repelled by seeing his picture.

I’ve been following this whole Tiger Woods drama. I wasn’t going to write anything about it but after seeing this ad I decided not to keep my thoughts to myself anymore.

Here is my take on the Tiger Woods scandal. He deserves everything he gets. I have no sympathy for him at all.

Tiger Woods has made hundreds of millions of dollars projecting himself as the “Perfect Family Man.” Recent events have revealed he is not the ‘Perfect Family Man.” Tiger Woods is a liar. Tiger Woods is a phony.  He is the perfect metaphor for corporate sponsorship.

That Tiger is an adulterer isn’t all that unusual. How many public figures have been exposed as adulterers in the past few years? We are no longer “Shocked! Shocked!”  Big deal. 

The adulterer part isn’t what is going to cause Tiger to lose his corporate sponsor and public support. Tiger will lose because he is behaving like a weasel now by hiding in his home hoping all the controversy surrounding him will go away. He is a coward.

Hey Tiger! It’s not going away until you address it. It’s time for you to go on Oprah and shed some tears. Come one Tiger, you’re the Big Man. Prove it. What are you really made of?

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Christmas 1976

Yesterday, while cleaning out my storage room I came across an album that I had given to my Mother for Christmas in 1976. I had forgotten how much work I had put into preparing this album. In fact, I think I made up three albums; one for my Mother and the other two for my brothers' families.

I came into possession of my Mother's album and the rest of her photos several years ago when she suggested that I take possession of them for safekeeping. As it turns out this was a good suggestion because she is now living with my brother and his family in South Carolina.

The photos in these albums I selected from the pictures of the family I had taken the previous year (1975.) I enlarged the pictures to 5 X 7 and put one on each page with a description. I had time to do this kind of project when Bill and I lived in center city Philadelphia. We lived in a townhouse with a very small back yard. My activities consisted of going to work, going out to the bars on the weekend and working on crewel projects during my spare time. This was before computers and the Internet. Even back then I watched very little TV. I remember I was one of the first people on my block to get a VCR. It was a huge cumbersome contraption but I was thrilled. I could videotape the Merv Griffin show and listen to Merv interview Zsa Zsa while I worked on my projects. That was so long ago.

Yesterday as I looked at these pictures I was reminded of how life used to be. It now seems so long ago. Back then I always loaded up on Christmas presents then visited family on Christmas Day and took loads of pictures. These days I work on Christmas Day. Not that I'm complaining but Christmas is a whole different scene for me now. I like working but there are no Christmas trees in my house or exchanging of Christmas presents. But, I still have my memories and pictures of those Christmases past which I will share with you now.

The picture above is of one of my younger brothers, Isaac Walter Tipton, Jr. With my brother in the picture is his wife Phyllis and his three children, Isaac, III (aka "Ikey"), Dawn and Karen. More pictures will follow in future blog postings.

I am so glad I took these pictures. Good memories last forever, even after I’m long gone.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Stupid Move

Well, I did it. This morning started out well enough with the sun making an appearance. The temperature read 45 degrees but there was little or no wind. Yes, today was a good day to go up in the attic and get those Christmas lights.

So I go up in the bonus room closet and open the little trap door that leads to the attic where I have my Christmas decorations stored. I stoop low to get through the door and make a right turn, careful to avoid stepping on the insulation. Below the insulation is the drywall to the ceiling of my kitchen below.

One trip gathering Christmas items went well. The second trip didn’t go so well. In fact it was a disaster because I lost my footing and my leg up to the knee went right through the insulation and drywall of the kitchen ceiling. I couldn’t believe it. I looked below and sure enough, there was insulation in my kitchen sink. My kitchen now had a skylight to the attic.

There was no way of covering this up. The deed was done. Beside, the cover up is always worse that the original crime (as Richard Nixon and Tiger Woods know.) And a “crime” indeed I did because Bill has warned me time and time again “Be careful when you’re up there! If you step on that insulation you’ll go right through the ceiling!”

Well, I thought I was careful. What actually happened I was trying to balance myself on the two by fours wearing my Crocs. My Crocs slipped. There! I’ll blame the Crocs. No, actually I’ll accept the blame. It was a Stupid Move.

The day wasn’t a total loss. I did get the Christmas lights up. Now for the Christmas cards. I wonder if I can do that without destroying anything.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Rain Returns

This was the day I was going to put up my outside Christmas decorations. That isn’t going to happen today. The rains have returned. Oh my, raining again. How unusual.

Undaunted, Bill and I left for our weekly breakfast outing at Zorba’s Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach. We were Zorba’s first customers this morning. Our regular waitress Erin came over and confirmed our breakfast order. For Bill, a fried egg sandwich for bill on white bread, double mayo. For me one egg over medium, crispy home fries, pork snout mush (aka scrapple) and buttered Rye toast. Bill’s beverage of choice is caffeinated coffee and mine is decaf. Shortly after we were served with our breakfast, the restaurant began to fill up with customers seeking shelter from the cold rain outside.

Earlier in the week I was debating whether of not to buy tickets for the annual Lewes Christmas House tour. I was reluctant because in the spring I had purchased tickets to the annual Lewes Garden Tour only to see the day of the tour almost washed out by a spring time monsoon. The tickets are good rain or shine. Since we only have the sun make an appearance once a week around here lately, I decided not to take the chance. I’m glad I didn’t. I’m glad my house isn’t on the tour. I would hate to have all those wet feet tramping through my house.

Bill just came back from our neighbors’ house. He told me the house next to them, which has been up for sale for a year and a half now, has sold. That’s the good news. The bad news is our other neighbor said the kids don’t speak English. Uh oh.

And the beat goes on.

Friday, December 04, 2009


Today I made some movement on some outstanding issues that have contributed to my frustration of the past few weeks. One was finally resolving the problem I had with TracFone to have my old phone number transferred from Verizon to TracFone. Since buying my TracFone on November 17th, I have encountered nothing but a scripted response from the TracFone customer service desk in India every time I called about why my phone number wasn't ported to my new TracFone. Of course it didn't help that every time I called I got an Indian who sounded like he was talking in a well and I could only understand every fifth word. Trying to get these guys off the script in front of them was my challenge this morning. Well I can report now that my phone call this morning actually got a person that I could understand. She took care of the problem and I now have a TracFone from which I can make and receive calls.

This will save me about $80 a month. I had a Verizon Wireless Family plan for 700 minutes a month. I rarely used more than 30 minutes a month. Verizon offered me no other options other than this plan. They even had the nerve to offer me an extra 100 minutes a month if I would sign a new two year contract. No thanks Verizon.

My next goal was to end the contract I was obligated to for three years when I built this house. That charge was $31.95 a month for the security system. I don't need a security system where I live. Fortunately I live in a safe neighborhood. But I was obligated for three years because the company wired my house. That obligation is finished and I'm saving another $31.95 a month.

My third goal was to renew my prescription for my prostate medicine with the VA. I made that phone call this morning and I got through! The medicine is on its way.

Then, feeling like I was making progress I jumped right into addressing my Christmas cards. This year I'm sending out photo cards that I got from J.C. Penney last month. Yes, I am sending my visage to a select few friends on my Christmas mailing list. I've been sending photo Christmas cards for years now. I wonder if any of my friends have saved all those cards. It would be interesting to line up those cards from the oldest to the most recent to see the aging process of Ron.

So here I am this morning making progress on my Christmas cards. I had 60 cards. After addressing 40 envelopes I realized that Penney's only supplied me with 40 envelopes. Oh my. Now I have to make another trip to Dover. That's a 39 mile trip one way. Running short of envelopes was another snag in an otherwise smooth running morning. However, I won't let this little snag throw me. I have dental appointment scheduled next week in Dover. I'll kill two Santa Clauses and get my teeth cleaned and pick up the remaining 20 envelopes.

Tomorrow the goal is to put up my Christmas decorations. Progress, it's wonderful. I might even attack that room in my basement that is still full of unpacked boxes from my move three years ago. I’m on a roll.

Thursday, December 03, 2009


The past few weeks have presented new challenges to me.  I will be reevaluating my situation and decide how I want to proceed.  Even though I may not be posting to my blog as often as I have in the past I want my friends to know that I appeciate and value their friendship.  I ask their patience while I look for a way out of this valley I am in at this time. 

I have much in my life for which I am thankful. 

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Wine Tasting

A couple of weeks ago a coworker of mine offered me three complimentary tickets to a wine tasting event sponsored by the Red Cross to be held at the new Irish Eyes restaurant.

I've never been to a wine tasting event but I had friends I knew liked wine. I accepted the tickets. I sent an e-mail offering the tickets to my friends. They countered with a suggestion, why don't I join them as the third party? Indeed, why not?

So today I'm ready for a wine tasting event. My concern was that I would drink too much and be a little too tipsy to drive my car home. This thought went though my mind "Would they have little sputum cubs to expel the wine? I wonder how many different types of wine they would have."

I was just a tad off the mark. My first clue was when I drove into the parking lot of the Irish Eyes restaurant. I could hardly find a parking place. Man, this must be some event. I didn't know wine was that popular. Or.........maybe this is more than a wine tasting event.

My next clue was when I checked in the restaurant. I was directed to the second floor to where the event was being held. After handing over my complimentary tickets I was directed to a long table where they would swipe my credit card. What a minute? What's this? I'm automatically going to donate to the Red Cross? Talk about pressure.

I dared to ask why was did they want to swipe my credit card. The answer given to me solved the puzzle. This was for the silent auction. I'm at a fund raising event for the Red Cross. The "wine tasting" was complimentary glasses of Nouveau Beaujolais wine (quite good by the way.) My friends directed me to the long tables gladdened with the items up for the silent auction.

I've never been to a silent auction before. In fact I didn't know how they worked. My fried Larry used to work for the Diabetes Association in Wilmington and he was involved in setting up a silent auction. He never explained to me how it worked. I've seen references to silent auctions in the newspaper but they never explained how they worked. Now I know. Pretty cool.

I quickly reviewed the tables and placed my bids on items I found of interest. I've only been to one auction before in my life and I liked it. This is my first silent auction. I like it too. I have now discovered another weakness. This won't be my last silent auction. 

Caregiver Update

  Bill with his hospice nurse last week Regular followers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting on a regular ba...