Saturday, February 28, 2009

Knocked Out



Several years ago, actually 12 years ago, my Mother told me she knew when she was old when she knew she couldn’t hoe that extra six rows of corn. My Mother was 72 years told at the time. My Father always had a vegetable garden on their three acres of land in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He lovingly worked that ground for over 40 years (since 1958.) Pop always planted more than the family could eat or can. Pop’s Garden (as we in the family called it) was his identity. He would start his seedlings early in the spring and put them out after the first frost. When my two younger brothers and I were growing up, he would rope us into weeding his rows and rows of corn. At that time his garden was in a field behind the Gindy Trailer Manufacturing plant in Downingtown.

My brothers and I eventually left home to start our own families. Pop continued to have his garden. He and Mom would do the weeding. Actually, Mom did the weeding by using her hoe. Well, this one summer day, she went up in the late afternoon to hoe six rows of corn. She finished and was wiped out. For the first time in her life she said that she knew she was old because she felt her body couldn’t recover as fast. This was unlike previous years that she could come home from working at shift at the Pepperridge Farms layer cake division, cook up a big meal for the men in her family, and then go up in the garden and hoe until dark. Oh no, those days were over forever.

I’ve often thought of my Mother’s realization of the day she knew she was old. I thought, “When would be my day of reckoning?” I think yesterday was the day. I have fourteen Pampas grass plants around my one acre of property here in beautiful Sussex County, Delaware. The time to trim the dead grass from last year is early spring. It is now early spring. I was waiting for a mild day so it wouldn’t be so torturous. Yesterday was such a mild day although the wind were high.

Wednesday I attacked the Pampas grass surrounds the generator on the border of my property and my neighbors the Murphys. That was a BIG job. My body paid the price with aches and pains for a few days after that. Yesterday, in spite of the 30 MPH gusts of wind, I decided to attack the Pampas grass adjoining my back deck and my other neighbor’s fence. For over two hours, I cut, fought, and bagged the dried tan grass stalks. At the end of two hours I was exhausted. I don’t know if it was because I was fighting the constant heavy winds or just all that bending over for sustained periods of time. All I know is that I was totally EXHAUSTED. I am still exhausted. Even after going to bed early last night (9 o’clock with is really early for me), I am still exhausted. I am telling you, I am WIPED OUT.

Maybe this is it. Yesterday I passed the Rubicon. I think I entered into the next phase of my life. For several years now the face I see in the mirror every morning is of some old man. Couldn’t be me. I blamed the haggard appearance on whatever stressful situation I went through the previous day. However, overtime I realized that the same tired, haggard face has been looking at me for years now. It gets harder and harder to take a good picture. This is something else my Mother has told me. “The older you get, the more you will find it is hard to get a good picture of yourself.” Oh how true. Those good pictures are getting harder and harder to come by.

But back to this exhaustion I am feeling now. I have three more Pampas grass bushes to trim. I really don’t know when I’m going to get around to cutting them back. Right now my whole body is aching, especially my back. All I can think about is lying down on my bed, reading a good book, and drifting off to sleep. I’m updating my blog now which I didn’t do yesterday because I was so tired. I have company coming over for dinner tonight. I want to be at my freshest and wittiest with my guests tonight. The only way I can accomplish that goal is to take a nap now. I remember something an old boss used to tell me “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” Well, I’m no sissy but I am getting old. Gone are the days where I could work all day and stay up most of the night and get up early the next day and do it all over again. Ah youth, it is indeed wasted on the young. I am now knocking on the door of Old Age.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Facebook




For about a year now friends from different phases of my life have been urging me to join Facebook. I resisted because I thought I was too old (67.) I thought Facebook was a social networking web site for college students to stay in touch without the detritus of regular e-mail. Why would I want to bother with such a web site? Another thing, my poor old brain can only handle learning so many new things. I tried Twitter a few months ago and it baffled me. I didn’t understand what I would get out of Twitter. I can get by quite well in my life without texting my friends and relatives. To me texting is just another way to incur phone company fees.

Then, about three weeks ago, the son of a former classmate of mine told me that if I enjoyed posting to a blog, I would like Facebook. I was skeptical, because he is one of those young people who handle these new things with ease. What he doesn’t understand is that I am of that generation that is on Brain Overload now. I’m just barely managing operating my PC and taking advantage of what the Internet has to offer. However, I took his advice and jumped in with both feet. What really sold me was when I found out another former classmate of mine also had a Facebook account. She told me that her grandchildren urged her to open a Facebook account in order to keep in touch with them. My friend’s comment “It sort of makes e-mail seem passé doesn’t it?” convinced me to try Facebook. I opened my account two weeks ago and haven’t looked back since. Thank you Ben!

Not to sound like a shill for Facebook but I find that this social networking web site is an ideal way even for an old fogey like me to stay in touch with friends and relatives. In fact, I have rediscovered my nieces and nephew. I had not heard from them in years. I wondered what happened to them. I thought they didn’t want to have anything more to do with old Uncle Ronnie. Well, there they were when I did a search for friends on Facebook. In fact, everyone in the 42 year old picture (taken 1967) that I have posted on this blog has a Facebook account. Pictured is my younger brother (Isaac Tipton, Jr.), his former wife (Phyllis Iffrig Tipton), and their three children (Dawn Tipton Armstrong, Isaac Tipton, III, and Karen Tipton.) It is wonderful to be back in touch with them. I am now sharing old family photos with them. Many of these photos they have never seen. I’m glad I now have the opportunity to share our pictorial family history with them.

My Facebook friends are falling into four categories:

Friends
Relatives
Former Classmates
Genealogy

The only downside I have found so far with Facebook is that I an unable to talk some of my other friends into opening Facebook accounts. I understand that some of them don’t have time for a Facebook account. I’m finding that I have less time for my blog postings now that I have opened a Facebook account. I also understand that some of my friends and relatives are concerned about their privacy. This is another valid concern which I understand. However, I am very thankful to my friend Ben for urging me to open a Facebook account. My life is indeed richer for having done so.

Anyone reading this blog who wants to check my Facebook account only has to type in my e-mail address which is: ronaldtipton@msn.com. Your search engine will take you directly to my Facebook account. I welcome all. Have a great day!




Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Cold Tuesday




Last night was another slow night at the hotel where I work the front desk from 3 to 11, Mondays and Thursdays. There were only three guests in the hotel; a confused elderly couple from New York and a Dutch national who is working at the Georgetown airport. With only two rooms rented, last night was a long night. I almost wished for those nights when the hotel had a stedy flow of guests in and out and asking the same questions at the front desk such as:

“Where do I park?” – outside in the parking lot
“Where is the best place to eat?” – The Buttery, The Second Street Grill, Stripper Bites, Cafe Azafran, Beseme, Jerry's Seafood...take your pick
“How far to the ocean?” one mile to the bay – the Atlantic Ocean is at Cape Henlopen, drive east until you hit the water....you're there.
“How do I get there?” out the front door to the light, over the canal street bridge one mile
“Is there parking?” yes, at the end of the road where the beach meets the water
“How much?” I don’t know, they keep raising it - take a lot of quarters
"What is my room number?" the number is on your key, that's not a decoration
“How do I get to my room?” – the elevator behind you
“Where is the elevator?” - turn around, it is behind you
“Where is the ice machine?” - turn around and to your left where it says "Ice" on the door
“Do you have a soda machine?” Yes
“Where is your soda machine” Opposite the front desk where you’re standing where it says "Soda" on the door
“How do I get to The Buttery?” Out the front door to the right one block then left - they have a big sign that says "The Buttery" - you can't miss it
“How far to The Buttery?” one and a half blocks
"How do I get there?" walk, put one leg in front the other and before you know it, you're there
"How is the food?" Gawd awful. What do you expect me to say? It's good (and expensive)
“What time is checkout?” 11 AM
“Can I have a late checkout?” No
"Why can't I have a late checkout?" because we have to have time to clean the rooms for the next guest who wants an early check in like you did when you made your reservation
“Why is that siren going off?” It is the fire alarm for the local fire company
“Do you have tornadoes in this area?” No, we’re not in Kansas...... anymore .....Toto
“Who has the best crab cakes?” Gilligan’s (so they tell me)
“How long has this building been here?” I don’t know, ask the owner
“What time is breakfast?” 8 to 10
“How do I get to the Cape May-Lewes Ferry?” out the front door to the light then left to the Dairy Queen then a right one mile and the Ferry is on your left – YOU CAN’T MISS IT – THEY HAVE BIG SIGNS

Oh how I miss those days with the helpless guests. The owner of the hotel told me he witnessed the phenomenon of otherwise intelligent people who are struck dumb upon entering the hotel and become helpless. But then that’s why I’m behind the front desk. I’m there to help them. I don't get paid the big bucks for looking pretty. However, there are times I must admit when my patience runs short after answering the same inane questions over and over again. It is almost like there could be a robot behind the front desk programmed with the same answers. All the guests would have to do is push the appropriate button. Sort of like those menus we all have had to navigate when making a phone call to a business. Speaking of which......................................

Yesterday I had such an experience. I called E*Trade to find out how to make a deposit to my IRA account as of last year. Upon doing my taxes I discovered I owed $638. Apparently I missed the fabulous Bush tax cuts (probably because I’m not in the 35% tax range – I’m in the 15% tax range and, as all of you who are in that range know, we received NADA tax cuts during the Bush Reign of Terror.) To avoid paying $638 in taxes this year, I could make a retroactive contribution to my IRA account, thus delaying paying taxes on my meager income this year to a future year in which I may not have a job and will need the money. I realize that last sentence was a long one but you get the idea. I’m trying to hang onto as much of my money as I can in my twilight years. Everything is going up except my income and my libido. Anyway, back to my experience calling E*Trade. It took me several calls and about 15 minutes plowing through telephone menus before I got a live person to ask how I make a contribution on line. He told me to go into the E*Trade web site and click the box that said Transfer. He then told me to indicate where I wanted the funds to come from (my bank account in Downingtown) and which one of my E*Trade accounts I wanted credited. Then he told me to check either the 2008 or 2009 IRA contribution box. Well, that was easy enough. Actually, I think I made this process a lot harder that it really was. In fact, I think I was the Customer Who Was Struck Dumb. I imagine the E*Trade customer service representative I talked to yesterday has his own list of customers who ask the SAME QUESTIONS. Hmmmm….something sounds familiar here.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Windy Monday




Here is is Monday and the start of a new week and I haven't posted my daily blog. Sometimes it just isn't possible. This blog posting will be a short one to let everyone know I'm still alive and kicking.


Last night I was invited to an Oscar Party with friends but I decided not to go. The weather was dicey and I don't like to travel at night, especially to someplace where I'm not sure where I'm going. The last time two times I went to parties at this friend's house, I rode with someone else. Both of those individuals were unavailable last night. One stayed home and counted his piggies and the other went to market, er, he visited his relatives in Altoona, PA and attended a kid's party. I heard that he survived the party.


I stayed home and cooked a wonderful pork loin roast. Friday night I cooked to death a pork tenderloin. If you like meat the consistency of beef jerky, you would like that pork tenderloin I overcooked. I was determined to have the other white meat (my taste buds were up for it) so I cooked a rubbed pork roast last night. It came out perfect. After dinner I settled down to watch a DVD movie with Ben Stiller called "Lonely Hearts." It was raunchy and over the top sometimes with the language and nude scenes but I still got a few good hearty laughs out of the situations Ben found himself in. I needed a few good laughs. If I had went to the Oscar party I would have had a few good laughs too. That's the fun of friends gathering especially for an "event" such as the Oscars. What more fun can one have than to mock and make fun of the self congratulatory and self important stars as they accept their awards? I have to admit I did miss seeing Mickey O'Rourke winning an Oscar and giving tear filled thanks to his recently departed Chihuahua Lokey for "all that he has done to support me." Then, in like a typical over the top Hollywood phony, Mickey would look up to Heaven and say "I know you're watching me Lokey." Mickey would then raise his Oscar with his right hand and show the base to the audience as he departs the podium in triumph. Oh God, can't these Hollywood types operate without a script and be a little more creative when accepting their awards? How about a simple "Thank you" and exit stage right? Of course this is impossible with a Hollywood star. After all, isn't acting in itself the very definition of phoniness? One would think they were accepting the award for finding a cure for cancer. No, they're just actors congratulating each other on doing the politically correct thing that was "in" the previous year. Unfortunately for the plastic surgery marginalized Mickey, gays were in last year, not wrestlers. Maybe next year Mickey can play a gay wrestler who is trying to stop the slaughter in Darfour. I mean no offense to my gay friends (I'm gay too, remember?) but come on. Enough is enough. Put the sunglasses and scarf away Mickey and wash that greasy hair. Maybe next year you'll get a chance to purse your collagen inflated lips at the American movie going public again. God I hope not.

This morning has been busy with checking my genealogy e-mails. When I was working full-time my wish was to win the lottery so I could open up an office and devote most of my time to my genealogy research. Well, I didn't win the lottery but I do have an office (home office) and I do devote most of my spare time with my Tipton family genealogy research. Last night I spent about an hour on the phone with Jewell Winfed Tipton of George. Jewell (a man, he says "Jewell" is a common name in the South for a man) is my fifth cousin. We share the same great-great-great-great grandfather, Major Jonathan Tipton. I'm also talking to Winfred (another man's name) "Ace" Tipton of Oklahoma. He is also my fifth cousin. This morning I talked to Tim Tipton of Tennessee. You guessed it, he is also my fifth cousin. Good ole Jonathan Tipton, he has a lot of progeny.

It won't be too long now until I have to whip up some lunch and get ready for work today. The day outside is bright and sunny and windy, as it often is down on on the coastal plain of southern Delaware. Spring is coming, I can feel it!

What's the picture on this blog have to do with this blog? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It is my neighbor Barbara's new Yorkie puppy Heidi. I think she likes me.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Spring is Coming




Spring is coming. I can feel it in the air. The yellow crocus, always a welcome harbinger of spring, is blooming along the walkway to my front door. When I lived in Pennsylvania the deer usually ate the new bloomed crocus before I could enjoy its colorful splendor. One in a while the deer would miss a patch and I would see it for part of a day, which was enough for me to know for certain that spring would soon follow.

Yesterday I loaded up my ’98 red Subaru Forester with old items to be donated to the new thrift store which will be operated by Clear Space Productions. There are several thrift stores in the area, and I have made donations to them in the past but I’ve been saving the best items for just such an occasion as this. A few years before I moved to Delaware, the Metropolitan Community Church used to operate a thrift store. This is the thrift store where I was going to make my donations after my move. Unfortunately, the new pastor of the church discontinued the thrift store because he was too lazy to operate it. His decision not to involve the church in the operation of the thrift store really was unfortunate because the proceeds of the thrift store supported the church. Another benefit of the thrift store was that it was a wonderful outreach to both the gay and straight community from the predominately gay Metropolitan Community Church. An even extra benefit, the thrift store provided an excellent center for the sale of many particularly kitschy items that only the gay community can provide. I’ve always been reluctant to part with some of my more flamboyant household items to the main thrift store in Rehoboth, which caters mainly to the straight, poor population of the Milton/Lewes/Rehoboth beach area. Straight people just don’t have the ability to appreciate some of the finer objects de art that is available through a gay thrift store. Yes, I told my friend who is involved in opening this new thrift store, that he and his group have made an excellent decision to open their thrift store. I have no doubt that a year from now they will be pulling in so much money that they will wonder why didn’t they do this earlier.

In just a little over a month spring will be upon us here in our little enclave on the coast of southern Delaware. One of the things I really like about living in southern Delaware is that when the date of spring arrives on the calendar (March 21st), it really is spring, unlike when I lived in Pennsylvania. In Pennsylvania, the calendar may say spring, but in reality spring really didn’t arrive until Mother’s Day or May 15th, whichever came first. In fact this weekend the weather forecast for my Mom’s place in Pennsylvania is ice and snow. No thank you. We’re having our share of cold weather down here as it is. The sky was sunny yesterday but the cold winds continued to blow.

Sunday night I was invited to an Oscar Party by a friend. He has a 61 inch TV which is almost like attending the movies. I attended his Golden Globes party with friends a few weeks back. We had fun mocking all the self important stars who thanked everyone from their kindergarten teacher to their makeup girl for their “accomplishments.” The standard line was “I couldn’t of done it without ………………..” (Fill in the blanks.) It is always good fun to mock the self-important and delusional. One would think they found a cure for cancer or how to solve the economic meltdown this country is going through now. As my friend Wayne has often said “Get over your self honey!” I don’t think I’ll go though this Sunday. Wayne won’t be their and I would miss his caustic remarks. The other attendees may take that stuff seriously.

Bill and I are going over to our neighbor’s shortly and see her new dog. I would like to have another dog but Bill won’t hear of it. He still hasn’t gotten over the loss of our last dog, years ago. Maybe someday I’ll get a cat. For now, I am anxiously awaiting spring. Each day it gets one day closer. Spring can’t come soon enough.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hump Day Plus One




Slowly but surely I’m getting back to my regular routine. I had to go into work yesterday to fill in for the regular front desk clerk who had a cold. Day shift at the front desk is totally different from night shift. Both shifts are interesting but the day shift goes by much faster. After my shift, I got home and showered and took a good long nap. Of course that screwed up the rest of my evening.

After my nap I got on my computer and checked my account on Facebook. Then I opened up my AOL e-mail account and worked on catching up my genealogy e-mails. I now have four distant relatives (that I’ve never met personally) who are now sharing information with me. Sharing genealogy information with distant relatives is a pastime that I never tire of. I also called two of these relatives, one in Tennessee and one in Ohio. I always enjoy connecting with hitherto unknown relatives and gaining new information about our common family tree, especially the older relatives. I’ve missed so many opportunities in the past to talk to many of my older relatives because I was so caught up in my day to day life. Now I’m trying to make up for lost time.

This daily blog will have to be cut short. I just received a call from a former classmate and a good friend asking me if another one of our classmates has died. I didn’t know. I will have to check my sources. This year will be our 50th class reunion and I’m the classmate who keeps these records for our reunion booklet in addition to our former classmates’ addresses.

Now I have to prepare my lunch. I’m scheduled to work today then I’m off until Monday. Bill and I will be able to pick up on our regular routine of having breakfast at Zorba’s in Rehoboth this Saturday. They say old people like familiar surroundings and a routine. I’m there.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Getting Back On Track




I’m still trying to catch up on my regular routine after spending five days in Pennsylvania visiting my Mom and friends last week. Today I had a delightful lunch with my former classmate and friend, Judy. We dined at Café Azafran in Lewes. Café Azafran is one of the restaurants that I recommend to hotel guests but haven’t had a chance to eat at myself. Today I corrected that. We both had a tasty Mediterranean vegetable dish of eggplant (I love eggplant) and tomatoes with a tangy sauce. Delicious! Good company, good food in an interesting restaurant in downtown Lewes on a sunny winter’s day. It doesn’t get much better.

Before I left for lunch, I got a call from my co-worker at the Inn. She’s not feeling well and she asked if I could fill in for her tomorrow. I checked my calendar and saw that I was open. I'll go in tomorrow at 7:00 to cover her shift. That was part of the bargain when I applied for my job at the Inn. I told them I would almost always be available to fill in on short notice. I enjoy working but I don’t want to work full-time. I feel like I’m being smothered when I’m working full-time. However, I don’t mind working part-time and even on holidays and weekends and filling in when needed. I will probably always work. At one time I thought I would retire but I tried that for about three months and it just didn’t work for me. I couldn’t see the rest of my life stretched out checking my e-mails in the morning, lunch, nap in the afternoon, checking e-mails again, dinner, then going to bed at night and doing it all over again the next day. My personality is such that I need the discipline of going to work. I've had a job since I was 10 years old (paper boy.) I just can't stop working.

Working balances out my life. Of course I can use the extra money now that I have a mortgage until I’m 95 years old. I need the work environment and all its challenges to keep my mind sharp and my curiosity intact. Sometimes I get frustrated at work but that is all part of the challenge of living. I don’t propose my routine or what works for me for everyone else. This is what works for me.

I had some great news today. While I was scanning old photos that I borrowed from relatives during my recent visit to Pennsylvania, I found my Palm Pilot! I was sick about losing it especially since they don’t make them anymore.

My situation with the Palm Pilot is another example of a product that works perfectly fine for me that is discontinued. Now I have to figure out how to add the Palm software to my new computer with the Vista operating system. Oh yeah, I’m not done with the “wonderful” Vista operating system. I use my Palm Pilot to keep track of all of my contacts as well as my many passwords. I don’t know how else to keep track of all of this information. I’m glad I wasn’t able to buy another Palm Pilot. Maybe it’s good they discontinued making them. I think now you have to buy a Trio Phone or something like that. I don’t need all of that. All I need is a simple place to keep my addresses and passwords. I am so glad I found my Palm!

Riding over to Judy’s place at Cape Shores brought back fond memories of when I stayed at her place (while she and her husband Jack were wintering at their Florida condo), back in the winter of 2006 when my new house was undergoing construction. Jack and Judy’s home is right on the bay. Looking out their living room window all you see is the water of Delaware Bay. I asked Jack if he ever got tired of that scene. He said “Never!” I never would either. However, I am just as pleased with the sunny view out of my sun room windows of my acre of open lawn which borders on a corn field. The traffic that is visible on Route 1 provides a soothing backdrop for that view. I equate the effect of the moving traffic in the far distance with watching fish in an aquarium. I find it very comforting.

I have a new activity, Facebook. I’m glad some of my forward looking friends persisted in encouraging me to join Facebook. I’ve been encouraging some of my other friends, who aren’t members, to join. But some of them are concerned about their privacy. I can understand that concern. However, my view is that I’m not going to hide under a rock for fear someone will know something about me. I figure everything there is to know about me is already out there on the Internets. I have nothing to hide. To me, Facebook is just a cooler way to stay in touch with friends and relatives. I don’t feel threatened by it. There are more serious threats in this world, the main one being the serious credit crunch in this country which is threatening to ruin our economy. Now that’s something to worry about.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Back Home in Delaware




Oh it was so good to get back “home” again yesterday. While I enjoyed visiting my Mother and friends and relatives in Pennsylvania, my home is here in Delaware. I remember something my brother John told me many years ago. He and his wife were returning to their home in Greenville, South Carolina after a visit to Pennsylvania. They had lived in South Carolina for about 15 years but still referred to Pennsylvania as “home.” John and Barb made frequent visits to their “home” in Pennsylvania, which was actually our parent’s home. As John and his wife crossed the North Carolina state line to South Carolina and entering the Piedmont Valley, he turned to his wife and said “Honey, we’ll be home soon.” It was then he realized that this was the first time he referred to their residence in Greenville as their home. He didn’t realize what he said at first. Then it struck him, he had made the transition, Greenville, South Carolina was now their home. This is the way I felt yesterday as I merged into traffic from Rt. 896 to Rt. 1, I was going home.

I left the snows of Pennsylvania to the flat sunny landscape and big blue sky of Delaware. Pennsylvania has wonderful picturesque landscapes but give me the flat sameness of the Delaware coastal plain. The twisting, winding roads of Pennsylvania with the hidden driveways are interesting but dangerous because you never know when a car or truck is going to come screaming around the corner ahead. I’ll take the flat grid lines of the roads of Delaware anytime. Perhaps the thing I like the most about Delaware is that it isn’t so congested. After awhile in Pennsylvania I get very claustrophobic. While all the conveniences are there in Pennsylvania; great stores all within short driving distances, there is a price to pay. High taxes, congested roads, more severe weather, and high taxes. Oh, I already said that didn’t I?

Yesterday I got back on my “Delaware” schedule. Nap in the afternoon, Sunday night out with friends at the Parrot. Today I go to work at the Inn. This morning I will catch up on my genealogy e-mails. I’ll also check my new Facebook account. The son of a former classmate of mine, Ben B. gave me the final push to open a Facebook account. Thank you Ben! Now I’m on board with 21st century communication with friends and relatives. Of course I’m experiencing a few bumps along the way like why isn’t Facebook accepting my photos (you all know photos are a big part of who I am) and exploring all the possibilities of customizing my Facebook account.

I am so glad that I took the trip to PA last week. I got a chance to bond with my Mom and brother, which was very important. Mom isn’t doing well. She gets very depressed. My brother told me as I was leaving, she was doing better because of my visit. Good to hear that the Number 1 Son (that would be me) still has a positive effect on his Mom.

I enjoyed a delightful dinner at my friend Judy’s home. Also in attendance were Pat, Carole and Esther, and Judy’s son Ben. I didn’t know Judy was such a good cook! We had a wonderful night topped by attending a Trivia Night at the nearby Brickside Gill. We almost won! We only missed by one point. We are planning on playing Trivia again when I return March 10th for a reunion committee meeting for our 50th class reunion.

Last night I met friends at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth for a wonderful evening of repast and camaraderie. Always fun. I remember when I was young and used to hit the bars. I was oh so serious in those days. We used to see the old guys having so much fun. My friends and I often wondered how a bunch of old guys could have so much fun. After all, weren’t we the one who were young and beautiful? Well, I found out. Those old guys back then didn’t take themselves so seriously and neither do we. Of course it helps that the hormone levels are significantly down.

Today I’ll catch up on my e-mail, scan some old photographs that I borrowed from relatives during my trip to PA, and check my new Facebook account. The early morning sun is streaming through my window, resting on my shoulder and warming my soul. It is good to be home again.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Back Home from PA




The trip back home to Delaware from PA was much easier than the trip up to PA on Wednesday. The sun was out, the roads were clear, and the Summit Bridge was open. Coming back was a breeze.

It was good I went to visit Mom. She’s not doing well. I’ve had a long day. I will post more tomorrow.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Leaving Pennsylvania




Early tomorrow I leave Pennsylvania. My four days at my Mom's house in Pennsylvania has been very productive. I spent quality time with my Mother and brother. Since my move to Delaware in November of 2006, all of my visits to Pennsylvania were made the same day. This wasn't fair to my Mother. This visit I changed that scenario. I stayed for four days. I think she's had enough of me now. The next time I visit, I'll probably stay overnight but just for one night. Four nights is too much. I don't know how our whole family lived in this 1,100 square foot one bathroom, ranch house back in the late Fifties. It is so small. I've been spoiled with my 4,200 square foot house in Delaware with four bathrooms. I am looking forward to going home tomorrow and walking around a house where my elbows don't bump into the walls.

Earlier this morning I visited my Aunt Mable and her son, my cousin Bud (same age as me.) It was a good visit. Bud and I discussed the state of the economy. Aunt Mabel asked about my Mom. They used to work together on "the line" in the frozen foods division of Pepperridge Farm in Downingtown. Yes, they were the Ethel and Lucy of the frozen cake line. They have many funny stories to tell about the time the line was speeded up. Cakes falling off the line. Aunt Mabel and my Mom have many funny stories to tell of their experiences "on the line."

Before I left, Mabel and Bud loaned me some of their old precious family photos. Oh how I love to borrow these old family photos and scan them into my computer so I can post them to the Tipton Family Tree on Ancestry.com. This is perhaps my favorite pastime in my retirement years. Whenever I visit relatives I try not to leave without borrowing at least a few of these priceless family photos. Very little gives me greater pleasure than to see those faces out of the past. So long ago and such a different time.

Whenever I visit Pennsylvania I try to have at least one lunch at the Brickside Grill so I can order their version of Chicken Quesadilla. No one, and I mean NO ONE makes a Chicken Quesadilla like the Brickside Grill. Today I had lunch with my former classmate Judy and her son Ben. Ben ordered calamari. I have never eaten calamari. I tried some today. Just as I suspected it tasted like a breaded fishy rubber band. For the life of me and I cannot fathom why anyone would eat THAT. But, now at least I can say I ate calamari.

Back home, I got onto my new Facebook account. I had signed up to Facebook a few years ago but never really got into it. A couple friends asked why I wasn't on Facebook. Well, I took their advice and now see what I was missing. I had thought I was too old for Facebook. Now I find out that Facebook is for anybody. It brings e-mailing to a whole new level. In fact, it makes the old way of e-mailing seem quaint. I was also hesitant because I didn't think I would have any friends. Much to my surprise, many of my friends....my OLD friends are already on Facebook. Looks like this time I was the one slow on the uptake.

One more night sleeping in my Pop's very uncomfortable bed. I've finally figured out how to get the right water temperature when taking a shower, my last night here. Early, snow flurries were drifting to the ground outside. The weather forecast is sunny but cold tomorrow. I'm ready to hit the road about 9 o'clock. It will be good to get home. I won't be doing this again for quite some time. The next time I'm scheduled to come up is March 10, for a class reunion committee meeting. I'll see if I can talk someone into going to the Brickside Grill with me again for Chicken Quesadilla. I can taste it now.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Two More Days








Two more days in Pennsylvania. As I suspected, this has been an eye opening stay. I moved to Delaware permanently November 17, 2006. That was the last time I stayed overnight in Pennsylvania. I've made many visits since then but I've always returned the same day. Since it is a 2 1/2 hour drive both ways, that made for a long day. This trip I decided to stay a few nights out of respect for my Mother and to connect with friends.

My brother Isaac and I took our Mom to the doctor's office today. She needs help going anywhere because she can hardly walk. She now uses a cane. However, when one of us is around she will hang on to one of us. After the visit to the doctor, we took her to one of her favorite discount grocery stores. She's good if she can balance herself on a shopping cart. She likes to shop at the discount stores like the Dollar Store. She doesn't have to shop at those stores but that what she prefers. She grew up during the Depression (how ironic at the end of her life she us undergoing another economic depression) and it's hard for her to change her thrifty habits.

We had lunch at Wegmans. Oh how I miss Wegmans (I think I've made this point before.) Wegmans is just the best store ever. It has everything, plus a wonderful food court that is GOOD! Better than ANYTHING Rehoboth Beach or Lewes has to offer. Plus, I can get almost anything at Wegmans. I especially like their homemade spicy hummus. Try getting something like that at Safeway in Rehoboth. Yesterday I had lunch with a friend and I asked him if he and his wife were considering moving from Pennsylvania. He said "Why would I? Everything I want is here." He was right. Everything is right there in the Downingtown area. No traveling 30 miles to Dover or 90 miles to Wilmington to a half way decent shopping mall. But then, he can afford to pay the high Pennsylvania taxes. I couldn't. That's why I moved.

Pennsylvania is a beautiful state. The rolling hills, winding roads, streams and rivers. Delaware is basically a flat plain near the coast. Very few winding roads. I love Delaware and have no regrets that I moved there. But I still miss the state I was born in, Pennsylvania.

Tomorrow I have lunch with my former classmate Judy and her son Ben at my favorite restaurant in Pennsylvania, the Brickside Grill. I have enjoyed reuniting with friends and spending time with my Mother but I will be glad to go home again. When I return I won't be staying longer than two days.

I hope that bridge is open when I roll on down 896 on Sunday morning. I don't need any delays going home.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Trip From Hell




Okay, here I am at Mom's in Pennsylvania. But getting here wasn't easy. My trip yesterday was the Trip From Hell.

I live in Sussex County, Delaware, approximately 2 1/2 miles from my Mom's home outside of Downingtown, Pennsylvania. The quickest way to travel to Pennsylvania is north on Rt. 1 to I-95 into Pennsylvania then Rt. 202. I hate I-95. Even though I'm only on it a short time (about 7 miles), I take Rt. 141 to avoid the bypass around Wilmington because if I take the whole I-95 I have to know EXACTLY what exits to take at speeds up to 80 MPH or else I end up in a residential section of Wilmington, which has happened to me more than once. The speed limit on I-95 is 65 MPH but you're putting your life at risk if you travel that slow. I have traveled at 75 MPH and have cars and trucks passing me on both sides!)

A few years ago I received advice from my dentist and his wife, who also have a home in Delaware and travel frequently between PA and Delaware, to take the "scenic route." The "scenic route" is Rt. 10 from Parkesburg to Rt. 896 through Newark, Delaware, over the Summit Bridge over the C & D Canal to pick up Rt. 1 in Delaware. Once I'm on Rt. 1 it's a straight shot for about 76 miles to where I live just off the left of Rt. 1 outside of Lewes, Delaware. My dentist's wife explained it succinctly when she said she would rather arrive at her home in a relaxed state rather than stressed out from the I-95 Road Warrior Games. This is the route I've taken for my many plesant trips back and forth between Pennsylvania and Delaware for the past two years.

Yesterday I left my home in Delaware, looking forward to a relaxing daytime trip on that sunny day to visit my Mother in Pennsylvania. This trip has long been postponed because of weather. I still had Christmas presents to deliver to Mom.

All went well until I exited Rt. 1 and took the short connection to Rt. 896 at Summit. Upon entering the road I noticed that there was very little traffic. Warning flags should have popped up but no, I was blissfully unaware of what I was about to encounter. Several miles up the road, I see the familiar orange cones directing me into different lanes. I could see the Summit Bridge in the distance. I saw a police car to the left, lights blinking on the car roof. I'm following the orange cones and notice that they are leading me away from the bridge. I see no signs. Only the cop car. I'm assuming the country road I'm traveling down is a detour. But then I'm thinking, "How can that be? I have to go over the canal." Then I realize, the road is only open for local residents. Dumb Ron. So I backtrack and go all the way back to Rt. 1.

North I travel on Rt. 1, to where I'm not sure. All I know is I don't want the road ahead of me to suck me into I-95. I travel north until I see a sign that says "Newark." That's where I want to go so I can pick up my "scenic route." The road is Rt. 272. It was another scenic trip for several miles through the suburban countryside of Newark until I entered Newark. Upon entering Newark I realized it was high noon and most of the college students of the University of Delaware were crowding the sidewalks and spilling over into the streets. I inched my way through the milling throngs of fresh young college student faces. Finally I see my connection to Rt. 896 and, with relief, I make the right turn exiting Newark and the college students.

Since I was so late I decided to call my elderly cousin Elsie in Kelton PA to return the old time picture that I had borrowed from her sister, who lives nearby her. I couldn't deliver it to her sister because I wasn't sure how to get to her place. I stop at the Country Kitchen for a quick lunch. It wasn't good. They called it Chicken Quesadillo but I call it "Chicken Queasy." After lunch with the "Chicken Queasy" battling digestion in my stomach, I called Cousin Elsie to tell her I'm arriving.

Cousin Elsie was waiting for me. I asked her for directions to her sister's home. She gave me some convoluted directions which normally I wouldn't even attempt to try. However, I was feeling confident because of my success in finding another way into Newark. Well, to make a long story short (and not to bore the ready), I tried FOUR TIMES to find Cousin Mary's home and I COULD NOT FIND IT. Admitting defeat, went back to Cousin Elsie and asked her to return the picture to her sister. She offered to show me how to get to her sister's home but warned me that she couldn't tarry because she had a pie in the oven. I assured her I wouldn't "tarry." The time was already approaching 3 PM. I had called my Mother and told her I would be at her home around noon. Already I'm three hours behind.

Well, Cousin Elsie got me to her sister's but she realized she had left a couple of roads out of her directions. She told me "Oh, I live her so long, I don't even think of those roads." Uh huh. Well, I was glad I could return my cousin's picture to her and I'm glad Cousin Elsie took time to show me how to get to her sister's home. I returned Cousin Elsie home in time so her pie didn't burn in the oven.

Finally, I arrive at my Mom's. I was tired. Last night I had a full schedule ahead of me. A classmate of mine had asked me to dinner at her home followed by a night of fun and festivities at Trivia Night at the Brickside Grille. Dinner was wonderful. I had a mini reunion with two of my classmates who I hadn't seen since I moved to Delaware. A friend of the hostess and her son were also at dinner.

After dinner we walked down to the Brickside Grille to play trivia. We did great. We were leading all the other teams until the last round. We only lost by one question. I'll take the blame for that. I could kick myself because we have a rule not to change answers. The first impulse is usually right. The question was "What reptile did John Quincy Adams keep in the White House?" Our hostess immediately answered "Crocodile". Crocodile? John Quincey Adams? Powdered wigs? Paul Revere? Cobblestone streets? I didn't think so. I changed the answer to snakes. Well, the answer was crocodile. Stick the rules the next time Ron. Still, we had a good night of camaraderie and friendship. I'm finding that the older I get the more fun I have getting together with my fellow oldsters. The usual topics of discussion are about our forgetfulness and latest aches and pains. However, it's all done in good humor.

We said our goodbyes and I headed out towards home. It was strange traveling the winding and twisting roads of Pennsylvania at night compared to the straight and flat roads of Sussex County, Delaware. I do miss Pennsylvania. I would have stayed if the taxes weren't so high, and getting higher. I am happy where I live now in Delaware, two miles from Delaware Bay.

I've decided to stay until Sunday. This is a good mini vacation. The bed in my Mom's house isn't as comfortable (it's in my Pop's former bedroom), and his picture is on the wall with that "What's the matter with you?" look I was all too familiar with when he was living. But I'm glad I have time to spend with my Mom. She's 85 years old now and not getting around too well. I took her shopping at Wegmans this morning which she enjoyed very much. I love Wegmans. Perhaps the number one thing I miss about living in Delaware.

Now to plan for the trip back to Delaware. I checked the Internet and it said the Summit Bridge would only be closed until Friday. God I hope so.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Leaving for Pennsylvania




The sun is out, the temperature is up. A perfect day to leave for Pennsylvania to visit my Mom and see friends. I'm only going to be gone for two days (returning on Friday) but looking at everything I'm taking with me one would think I was leaving for a month. I can't help it. I have to have all the bases covered. I don't travel light.


Today I take my Mom to run some errands. I give my brother Isaac a break. This evening I'm having dinner with three widowed classmates of mine at 6 PM. Roast pork is on the menu. Yum! After dinner we retreat to the Brickside Grille for Trivia Night. It's been a long time since I went to Trivia Night at the Brickside. I'm looking forward to a pleasant evening with friends.


Tomorrow my former boss at Downingtown National Bank pays a house call to Mom to collect information from her to do her taxes. I'm looking forward to seeing him. Also, I hope to squeeze a lunch in with another longtime school chum.


On the way back to Delaware on Friday I will stop in to see my cousin Elsie and return her dad's obituary and family picture that I borrowed to copy for my genealogy records. All in all, a busy two days planned.


I think my cell phone battery is charged and I'm ready to get out of here!


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Going to Visit Mom in Pennsylvania







The weather forecast looks safe for the next couple of days so I’m planning on visiting my Mom in Pennsylvania. She is a 2 ½ drive away. Not a bad drive actually, but I don’t like to drive in the rain (“intermittent showers” are forecast – I can handle that) or snow. I didn’t want to visit while snow and ice were still on the ground at her home. This past weekend’s mild temperatures melted whatever was left of the past two month’s winter debris. It looks like clear sailing up Rt. 1 to Pennsylvania tomorrow.

While I’m up in Pennsylvania I’m also going to visit friends (old high school classmates) for dinner tomorrow night. My friend just sent me an e-mail and said she’s cooking roast pork. I love roast pork! After dinner we’re going to the Brickside Grille for Trivia Night. Oh how I miss Trivia Night at the Brickside. That perhaps is one of the few things I missed when I moved to Delaware. I always looked forward to getting together with friends for an evening out at least one night a week. A martini or two (depending on the specials that night), a competitive game of trivia (we even won a couple of times), and camaraderie between good friends. It doesn’t get any better than that. The only downside is that Pennsylvania still permits smoking in its bars and restaurants. I never did get used to eating my Chicken Quesadilla while inhaling second hand smoke. But hey, who said the world was perfect?

I plan on staying at Mom’s for at least two nights. I’m working tonight at the Inn and I don’t have to go back to work until next Monday night. That gives me a couple of days with my Mom. She told me this morning she is planning on moving to South Carolina to live with my brother John and his wife. Their house is better suited for our Mother’s condition now. She has a hard time getting around. My brother Isaac takes care of her now but her house in Pennsylvania has too many stairs and other obstacles that cause her to take falls. Plus, the snow and ice are a constant threat. Sooner or later she’s going to break something then be permanently disabled. It is better that she move now before something happens. She’s worried about her two elderly cats, Molly and Rusty, but I told her that Isaac will take good care of them.

This is another milestone in our lives. There was once a time when Mom took care of me and my brothers. Now it is our turn to take care of our Mom. She deserves no less. We are so fortunate to have her for our Mother. I know everyone says their Mom is the best. Well, I can say it without doubt. We have the best Mom in the world for us. I think of all the people who lost their Mom’s at a young age. My Mother lost her Mother when she wasn’t quite two years old. She grew up only knowing a series of step-moms, who weren’t too nice to her. She never had the good fortune that me and my brothers had by having a Mom who has always looked after us. My Mom said when she first got married she wanted a little girl because she had no Mom. After her first three children were boys, she told my Father "That’s enough! I’m not going to have a dozen sons like your Mother.” My father had 11 brothers, no sisters. She had to make do with us boys. Now she says she is glad she has sons because she didn’t know if a daughter would take care of her like we have. Thanks Mom!

Monday, February 09, 2009

Monday Morning Blues












Monday, the beginning of another week here in my retirement home in Delaware. As is usual, after breakfast I retreat to my home office which is bathed in the morning sunlight. The light and warmth of that sunlight will last until about 10 o’clock. I always try to take advantage of the special qualities of my home office early in the morning on sunny days like this. Later on, I’ll take a walk in the development behind me. The walk always clears my mind.

Bill took off early this morning to meet his American Legion van pickup to the Wilmington Veterans Medical Center. He has a dermatology appointment. He didn’t want to go but I urged him to go anyway. Last summer the VA discovered my friend Bob had melanoma cancer. The VA took quick action to cut out a chunk of Bob’s arm to save him. I don’t want something like that happening to Bill.

The weather was very mild yesterday, almost spring like. Today the temperature is already up to 50 degrees. I guess I have to start looking at yard cleanup for spring. I have several giant Pampas grass plants. The challenge is what am I going to do with all that dead grass that I have to remove for this year’s new shoots? At my old home in Pennsylvania, there was never a problem with what to do with yard debris. I had a gigantic compost pile. Everything went into that compost pile. By summer the bottom of that pile was black gold. I doubt if the people who bought my property even know that it exists. I can’t have a compost pile down here. My acre of land is totally landscaped and out in the open. No room to hide a compost pile. I wanted to get one of the compost bins but Bill won’t hear of it. I guess I’ll just have to compost the dead Pampas grass leaves in the black trash bags for the weekly trash pickup. It’s a shame to waste it but I don’t see what other alternative I have.

This past weekend I was a bit bummed out. I had an opportunity to work Saturday night. I should have done that instead of going out and wasting my time playing Bingo. Other than seeing my friends Jack and Paul again, I didn’t enjoy myself. I like to dine out, but the restaurants in Rehoboth and the general area leave a lot to be desired. They’re overpriced and tasteless. Maybe it’s me. Years ago I used to visit Provincetown, Massachusetts several times during the summer. The restaurants in Provincetown were always excellent and reasonably priced. Not so here in the summer capital for Washington, DC phonies. Maybe I’m not eating in the right restaurants. I don’t patronize restaurants that charge $30 and up for ONE entrée. I don’t have a big Washington DC salary or retirement pay. Maybe that’s the problem. I’m going to take a break for awhile from the social and nighttime scene in this area. I don’t like driving at nights anyway. There are too many aggressive drivers down here. Must be that entitled DC mentality.

I have a beautiful and comfortable home and an interesting and absorbing hobby, genealogy. This past weekend a 3rd cousin (once removed) contacted me from Georgia. He is the great grandson of Wiley Tipton, older brother of my great-great grandfather John Tipton who died fighting for the Union Cause in the Civil War. His great grandfather Wiley, fought for the Confederate Cause. We have information to share. This past week a lady from Washington State contacted me. She is descended from my great-great grandmother’s family. We’re sharing information. I get so much more a sense of satisfaction from this activity than I do dodging the crazy aggressive drivers in traffic on Route 1 to dine at some overpriced restaurant on mediocre food.

Unless one is into church attendance, there is little social life in this area. I have a few friends but they have their own activities which do not coincide with mine. I’m going to change direction in my activities and concentrate on home life and spend more time visiting my Mom and friends in Pennsylvania. Weather permitting. The threat of snow is still strong but, perhaps the warming temperatures of this past weekend will melt the accumulated snow and ice of the past month. I need a change.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Bingo-a-Go-Go









All day I was looking forward to going out last night to Bingo-a-Go-Go in Rehoboth Beach. I haven’t been able to attend these four times a year fund raisers for AIDS because I’ve had to work at the Inn. Thus, it was a pleasant surprise when my friend Paul and Jack called me last week and asked me to join them for a night of dining and fun and festivities. Wouldn’t you know it? Monica from work called me about 1 in the afternoon and asked if I could work her shift for her because her youngest child was sick. I had to turn her down because I had already purchased the tickets for bingo and made dinner arrangements at Casa Dileo with my friend Paul and Jack. I had also invited my friend and neighbor Barbara. She said she couldn’t make dinner but would meet us at the Convention Center.

Four o’clock rolls around. I had arranged to meet Paul and Jack at 5 PM in front of Casa Dileo. I drove into Rehoboth and parked at my friend Ed’s house so I wouldn’t have to fight the traffic from the Convention Center when bingo was over. Walking from my friend Ed’s place to Casa Dileo, I ran into my first problem, construction work being done on Route 1. I couldn’t walk on the side of the road. Dodging traffic I walked to other side of the road. My cell phone rings. It’s Paul. He wants to know where I’m at. I told him I’m dodging traffic trying to walk to the restaurant. I hang up. My cell phone rings again. It’s my neighbor Barbara calling. She said she wasn’t feeling well so she wouldn’t be joining me. Take note, already I’ve received two bad omens for the night.

I meet Jack and Paul in front of the restaurant. As soon as I walk into the restaurant I’m turned off by the smell. It smelled like I was walking into a garage. I didn’t need to change the oil in my car. What was that smell? I didn’t want to ruin the evening since it was Paul’s suggestion we dine at Casa DiLeo so I said nothing. After we were seated and given our menus, I noticed that this was one of those restaurants that had the same items on the menu, doubled in price for dinner. I could get an Eggplant Parmesan dish, “lunch” price $8.95. The “Dinner” price $15.95. Either it was the same entree, with a jacked up price for dinner or it was a lot more food, neither of which was an option I wanted last night. We agreed to order a pizza and share it.

After dinner, we drove down to the Rehoboth Convention Center for the night’s festivities. I’ve been to a couple of gay bingos before. The first time was a lot of fun because it was new. The second time, well, not so much. Last night? It was boring. Basically gay bingo is every straight person's stereotype of a gay guy calling out the numbers interspersed with raunchy gay themed jokes. The word of the night last night was the four letter Anglo-Saxon word for excrement that begins with S. The bingo caller was much amused by ending just about every sentence with that well known four letter word.

Throughout the audience are about a half a dozen drag queens who checked to make sure you have a bingo when you call out “Bingo!” The joke is, if you call “Bingo!” in error, you have to wear a ratty old drag queen wig. That’s funny the first few times when you see it then it becomes old. It was old last night.

The drag queens had bright, colorful, flashy outfits which they changed several time during the evening. If you're into drag, it may have enjoyed seeing the different gowns and dresses on the slim hipped ladies with Adam's Apples. While it wasn't like checking out Princess Diana's new gowns, it was fascinating to see what new dress and wig Mona Lotts would appear. The guys playing the drag queens were a pretty somber bunch. One would expect more humor and levity but it seemed like they were also tired of the format and would rather have been somewhere else.

The event is a worthy one, it raises money for AIDS charities. It is gives the gay community a chance to assemble in one spot and experience fellowship. However, something odd this year, I only saw one person I slightly knew (introduced one through a mutual friend.) We didn’t see anyone else we knew, NO ONE. That was strange. Maybe our friends were on to something. Maybe they also got tired of the format. Maybe I don't have that many gay friends.

It wouldn’t have been a bad night if one of us could have won at least ONE bingo. But, as is always the case, no one I know wins. The last time I won a bingo was back in 1960 at the service club in Ft. Meade, Maryland. I won a Kingston Trio record album (which I think I still have, not because I like the Kingston Trio – I hate folk songs – but because it was proof I actually won something.) Most of the prizes last night were cash but one prize was a “beauty basket.” That was the prize I came closest to winning (like I needed THAT PRIZE.) If I won that prize I would have donated it back to the cause.

One thing that I find interesting and has always puzzled me when a group of gay men and lesbians gather together is how much the cliques stay intact. There is little if no interaction between the people unless they knew them previously. Yet one can go to straight event and strike up a friendship with straight people much easier. I've never been able to put understand this phenomenon about gay people, their tendency to stay in cliques when out in the public. They cling to their small group of friends. I can understand why lesbians are so insular, they don't want to have anything to do with men. They do quite well with their women friends, thank you. It's the men I don't understand. If you start up a conversation with a stranger, right away they think you're coming on to them. There is little understanding just for a friendship without the sexual connection. This attitude of most gay men is something that has baffled me for you and I'll probably go to my grave never understanding it.

All in all, it was good to have an evening with my friends Paul and Jack but I won’t be going back to gay bingo again. Maybe I’m getting too old for this kind of thing. I remember 30 years ago when I was 37 years old. I was standing in a gay bar (the 247 in Philadelphia) when the bartender started to flick the lights on and off, calling “Last call!” I thought to myself at that time “What am I doing here? I would rather be home in bed.” That’s the way I felt last night. I would have been better off in bed. Actually, I wish I would have to work for Monica. At least I wouldn’t still be burping up that pizza I had last night.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

When Good Things Happen to Good People




So often we hear of bad things happening to good people. But, every now and then good things happen to good people.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from a friend I used to work with at the bank in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Her name is Renee. She is young, smart, funny, and just a delightful person to be around. Even though my gayness, I was attracted to her. Not sexually but because of her effervescent personality and her ability to laugh at herself as well as the absurdities of life around us. Also, I wasn’t totally immune to her beauty and sexy, husky voice. Renee has those special qualities that not all women posses. I knew it was just a matter of time before some smart guy snagged this beautiful woman. Yesterday Renee told me that she is engaged to be married! I am so happy for her.

Renee replaced me in the job I had at the bank when I moved to Delaware. She was unsure if she could do the job but I had no doubt. Renee is the type of person who doesn’t give herself enough credit for how good she really is. She’s doing the job now and doing just fine, as I knew she would.

When we worked together we often went to a Trivia Night at a local bar/eatery called the Brickside Grille. Our group had many good times there. Oh how I miss those times. Ironically, I just got an e-mail from another friend of mine (former classmate, we’re planning our 50th class reunion) who asked me to join them for Trivia Night at the Brickside when I next visit Pennsylvania. I think I will. It’s been about two years (where does the time go?) since our group attending the fun and festivities of a trivia night. We even won a few times. Great fun!

This morning Bill and I went for breakfast at Zorba’s in Rehoboth, thus resuming our weekly tradition of having breakfast out once a week. I’m glad Bill has come out of his depression and we can get back to normal.

This afternoon I meet my friend Jack and Paul at Casa Dileo for dinner then Bingo-a-Go-Go at the Rehoboth Convention Center. My neighbor Barbara is meeting us at the door. I haven’t been able to attend any of these gay bingo events for the past year and a half because of my work schedule. I’m in luck this month because I’m not scheduled to work weekends. I’m really looking forward to a night of fun and laughter and good times. It’s been too long.

Just to put the icing on the cake, the weather has taken a turn from the cold to the mild. As I look out the window to my left I see the bright sun beckoning me outside for a walk. I’m on it. Life if good….again.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Back to Normal




We’re back to normal around here, or at least what passes for normal. I made the first move yesterday morning. I knocked on Bill’s basement bedroom door. Instead of saying “Go away” he said “What do you want?” This is a break. I asked if I could talk to him. Without waiting for an answer I went into his darkened bedroom and asked him a question (which I forget now, but it was to break the ice.) I forget what he said but at least we got the conversation started. Oh, I remember. I asked him to come upstairs in the sun room to enjoy the light. He said he wanted to continue to sit in his room for awhile. The world “awhile” was another break. I told him “Okay” and left him and went upstairs.

About an hour later I went back downstairs again and he was at his computer in his basement office, which adjoins his bedroom. Thus there was a break in the solid frozen over lake of our relationship. I talked to him about some other innocuous things about the house. We talked about our neighbor’s new dog. Bill was still distant but relaxing a bit. He still said he wished he was dead. He frequently says that. He’ll probably outlive me. I returned upstairs to my office and caught up on my e-mail.

Through my Find a Grave web site, a distant relative contacted me regarding my research in our common family tree. At this time of my life my favorite activity (other than taking digital pictures and gardening) is researching my family tree. This lady from Washington State is descended from my great great grandmother Cynthia Lou Rhudy. This is a branch on my family tree of which I have very little information. It is also the only line of my family tree which leads to German and Swiss ancestry. Up until this discovery, all my ancestry has been English and Scotch-Irish. She could help me fill in a lot of empty branches and I could help her. She also put me in contact with another distant relative who also has information on our family tree. We exchanged files yesterday. Finding these distant relatives like this who are also researching our common family tree is one of the joys of my life at this time. It's like find pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. Not only do I get to fill in heretofore unknown branches on my family tree, I'm also discovering more about my family and, in turn, more about myself. Two dreams of the dreams I had when I was a young man, owning my own house and discovering my roots. I have achieved both of those dreams. I was also hoping to find Prince Charming. I did, sort of.

During the past two weeks I have tried to bury myself in this favorite activity of mine, researching and recording my family history. But I wasn’t getting the same pleasure from it that I had in the past. I think a lot of it had to do with the stress and tension of the home situation with Bill. Now that we’re back on track I have my enthusiasm back for digging into my family tree.

I’m looking forward to this weekend’s activity. Four times a year a gay bingo event takes place at the Rehoboth Convention center. I’ve missed these events for the past year and a half because I’ve had to work. However, this weekend I don’t have to work. My friend Paul called and invited me to join him and his friend Jack for dinner then a night of festive fun and laughs at the Bingo – A – Go – Go. I asked my neighbor and friend Barbara to go with me. The weekend is looking good. Who knows, one of us might even win a prize.

I am so relieved that Bill and I are back on track again. The past two weeks have been exhausting. It never gets any easier no matter how many times it happens. It will probably happen again but I'm not going to worry about that now. I'm going to enjoy the moment. Life is good again.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hugs






The first hug that I remember receiving wasn’t really a hug at all but more like an embrace. I was 13 years old and in an 8th grade class when the teacher came up behind me and put her right arm around my shoulders. She was looking over my shoulder to see how I was doing on the assignment she had given to the class earlier. To this day I remember clearly the strange feeling I had with her arm resting on my shoulder. I felt warm and wanted. It felt good.

Jump forward ten years to my next memory of a hug. I was 23 years old and working at Girard Bank in Philadelphia. I was sitting at my desk when a co-worker of mine came up behind me and again placed her right arm on my shoulder and asked me if I wanted a chocolate covered strawberry. I am serious. Her name was Norma Lockwood and she was a buxom, older, busy body. The same warm feeling emanated from my shoulder where she rested her arm. On neither occasion did I take this as a sexual connotation from either woman. I took it as an expression of friendship that I had never experienced before. Hugs up to this point, were totally alien to me.

The family I grew up in was not one of hugs. That doesn’t mean that there wasn’t love in my family. Their love took forms other than physical expression. Kissing was (and is) unknown in my family. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that my brother John and I started to hug my Mom. At first we did it as a joke because when we hugged Mom, she was like a tree trunk. She literally doesn’t know how to hug. But she likes to be hugged.

I attribute my Mom’s lack of hugging ability to her childhood. Her Mother died before she was two years old and she was raised by an indifferent step-mother. Actually, my Mother’s childhood was much like Cinderella’s with the wicked step-mother who made her clean the house and her put her children before my Mom. My Mom met her Prince Charming (my Dad) when she was 16 years old and “escaped” when she was 17 years. I am the product of that fairytale. But that’s another whole story which may be told in a later posting.

My Mom’s family had a Quaker background. Quaker’s aren’t known for their physical expressions of affection. My Dad’s family is of Appalachian mountain folk (hillbilly) stock. My Dad came from another culture not known for physical expressions of affection. So I was brought up with the double whammy of austere expressions of affection. Other than an occasional beating (prevalent in the Appalachian mountain folk culture in raising children), there were no physical expressions of affection from either of my parents. But you know the expression “You never know you’re missing something if you never had it”? I didn’t know I was missing this vital part of the human experience.

Over the years since that day in 1967 at Girard Bank when Mrs. Lockwood rested her meaty arm on my shoulder and pressed her mammary glands against my back (something I never did get used to by the way), I’ve had a few hugs. However, none of my subsequent hugs over the years have matched the shock of those first two hugs.

Now that I’m living down here near Rehoboth Beach, Delaware which has a large gay and lesbian population, I frequently give and receive hugs upon meeting and departing from my friends. It is the culturally acceptable thing to do down here, especially in public because it shows our straight brethren that we too are comfortable with our sexuality and not afraid to show it in public. Of course only gay men are hugged. No hugging of straight men. That is still a taboo. Unfortunately there is still a social stigma attached to two straight men (unless they’re relatives) or a gay man and a straight man hugging. Even in this area of gay and lesbian tolerance in the east coast gay capital of the United State, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. If you see two men hugging in public down here, chances are they’re both gay. If you see two women hugging, all bets are off. But then, women have always played by a different set of rules.

This weekend I was invited to join friends at the quarterly gay bingo function to be held at the Rehoboth Convention Center in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. The past two years I’ve missed out on these occasions because I’ve had to work the weekends the event was held. Fortunately, I don’t have to work this weekend so I will be able to join my friends. I may not win at bingo but one thing is for sure, there will be a lot of hugs going around. I’ll take pictures.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

11:04 am




Yesterday a friend of mine sent me one of those e-mails informing me that something good was going to happen to me at precisely 11:04 am today. Actually, the e-mail said that I would “receive good news at 11:04 am.” All I had to do was to pass it on to at least seven of me e-mail friends. My friend said he normally doesn’t forward e-mails like that but something told him to forward that one yesterday. He also asked me to let him know if anything happened at 11:04 am today. Well……………………I did get good news at 11:04 am.

Actually, I didn’t think of his e-mail until about an hour later when I was getting haircut in Rehoboth Beach. Earlier in the morning I had taken a test at the Inn (where I also happen to work coincidentally) to be a census taker. One friend of mine told me “an idiot could pass that test.” Another friend told me “it’s no problem” (or something along those lines – he will be sure to correct me if I misquote him thus the disclaimer.)

Well, I was somewhat surprised to find that the test was harder than I anticipated. There were 30 questions that we had 30 minutes to complete. I was on question 10 when the test giver informed us we were half way through our 30 minutes. I was getting slowed down on the mathematical questions. No calculators were allowed and it was taking me quite a while to do some simple math multiplication with decimals. I decided to skip through the test and answer first the easy questions as the test giver had suggested. The rest of the questions weren’t that easy for me either. This old 67 year old brain is out of practice for test taking. I was getting nervous.

Then the test was over. I hadn’t answered seven questions. One question I didn’t even get to read. I was sure I failed. Oh the shame. The test giver informed us she could give us our test score if we wanted to wait a few minutes. Oh, why not? She called my name 3rd from last. I was sure I failed. As I approached her she had a smile on her face and said “You passed. Have a good day!” Great surprise! Now I could face my co-workers (who were standing by the front desk) and tell them I passed rather than be a miserable failure. As I approached the front desk I saw the owner also there with a smile on his face. He asked “How did you do Ron?” I said “I passed!” I was so excited that I forgot my man bag (a semi brief case – actually like a large purse.) Walking outside I hear a ferocious knock on the window. It was the owner motioning me back in the hotel. I thought “What now?” He handed me by bag and said “You’re going to need your make-up kit.” Funny.

Next stop was a haircut. After getting myself settled in the barber’s chair I replayed the morning’s events in my mind. It was then I realized that my friend’s prediction did indeed come true. I receive the information that I had passed the test at right about 11:04 am. The test was at 10 on the dot. It was over at 10:30. Gathering the test papers and scoring them took about 20 minutes. By the time the test giver called me (3rd from last, remember?) it was just after 11 am.

I’ve long suspected that I have a guardian angel. Now I know. I’ll have to give him a name.

A New Day




As I opened up my garage door this morning to put out my trash can for pickup, this was the view that greeted me. Frost covered the grass on my front lawn. Without the wind, the 27 degree temperature was bracing instead of painful. Lights from my neighbors’ houses punctured the early morning haze. This literally is the dawn of a new day for me.

At 10 o’clock this morning I have an appointment at the Inn to take a census employment test. I have my birth certificate, Social Security card and DD-214 (proof that I was in the Army) certificate at the ready to prove that I am a citizen of these United States. This is a job that is almost a perfect fit for me. As part of my genealogy research, I work with census records through Ancestry.com. I am a stickler for detail and accuracy. I also like to get out, ride around and meet people. The only downside is if I have to take a census in an area away from my home. I’ll work the census if it is in my neighborhood or nearby. I won’t work if I’m assigned to an area like Georgetown or Dover. I wouldn’t think that I would be assigned those areas but you never know with the government. I'm hoping common sense applies.

Speaking of the government, I’m sorry to see Barack Obama get off to such a bad start choosing people for his cabinet who don’t know how to pay their taxes. What kind of rules do those people play by anyway? If I make a mistake on my taxes I get notices from the IRS threatening fines and/or jail time. Annually I fill out a means test form for the VA. If I make a mistake of even $1.00, that form is bounced back to me, threatening to take me off the VA medical care system. I guess what Leona Helmsley said all those years ago before her arrogance caught up with her, “Only the little people pay taxes.”

The other thing that makes me angry are the bonuses the Wall Street and banking executives continue to pay themselves, even though their financial institutions are failing. It’s like Senator Claire McCaskell said “What planet are these people living on?” The tired old excuse that these crooks use is “You have to pay good money to keep good people.” What? A million dollars won’t do? What’s with the billions of dollars in bonuses? It’s not that hard to understand really. The past eight years have seen the greatest transference of wealth in this country from the middle class to the upper class in our history. Now we see the result; loss of jobs, home values falling, and zero interest rates. Great job Republicans and Democrats. They’re all in it together.

Thank goodness I have my genealogy research to get me away from all of this. Recently I have met (through e-mail) several distant relatives who are researching heretofore unknown branches of my family tree. I get a great deal of pleasure and comfort discovering and sharing information about my family with other family members. I am so thankful that I have the time and resources to indulge in this favorite pastime of mine. Genealogy research and taking digital are my two favorite activities at this time of my life. I’m looking forward to spring when I can begin my other favorite activity, gardening. Each year I try to outdo myself from the previous year with an outstanding floral display. Even though I continue to have sadness in my home, I still have a lot to live for. For that I am very thankful.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Wolves and Sheep




Yesterday’s spring like temperatures was one of those special wintertime treats that happen every now and then. After I finished checking my e-mails and posting my blog yesterday morning, I treated myself to a brisk walk on the wide and solitary roads in the development behind where I live. There is nothing like a relaxing walk in the fresh air and blue skies to invigorate me for the rest of the day. Most of all my stress and worry melts away. It’s magic. And it’s free.

Not so today. As I type this, snow is tiny white snowflakes are falling from the gray morning sky onto the winter grass outside my window. This retiree won’t be going out today. I don’t have to go out until tomorrow. I’m scheduled to take a test applying for a census taker job. Ironically, I will take the test at my workplace. The owner of the hotel has donated one of his meeting rooms for the prospective census employees to take their test. Very convenient.

Bill continues to shun me. It’s not easy on me (or him I suspect) but he’s painted himself into this corner. He has to get out of it himself. So we continue to live in the same house, leading our separate lives. He has now cut off his family, my Mother, my brother, our friend Ed, his friend Damon, and now me. It is a sad and unfortunate way to live.

It’s ironic, but the original incidents that cause the episodes are often forgotten. One that I still remember clearly is when I didn’t close the basement door all the way. Oh it was closed and locked but it wasn’t AIR LOCKED. I didn’t leave the door open. I didn’t leave the door unlocked. I didn’t AIR LOCK the door. Sometimes I feel like I’m walking on egg shells. One of the reasons I moved from our Pennsylvania house was because Bill had this whole system of which doors were to be closed and which ones were allowed to be left open. I felt like a rat in a maze, trying to figure which room I was allowed to be in to keep warm. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own home. This house has an open floor plan. I no longer had to worry about closing this door, and leaving another door open depending on what the temperature was outside. I could move about freely in my own home. It was wonderful. Of course Bill did want to partition off the open floor plan of the kitchen, sun room and living room. I knocked down that plan right away. No more living like a rat in a cubicle.

The plan today is to hang out inside catching up on my e-mails. A distant relative from the Rhudy side of my family tree discovered me on the Internet and has been sending me family information from her line. Perhaps my favorite pastime at this time of my life is my genealogy research. I have met so many wonderful people through my Tipton Tales and Trails blog and my Find a Grave postings. They are my pleasure and happiness these days. I can depend on their friendship. They help me keep my sanity in these stressful times.

Some years ago when I first got on the Internet I tried to find friends through the personals. That was a disaster. Every person I met, without exception was a fraud and phony. Everyone who I either communicated with by e-mail or met in person was not who they represented themselves to be. I blame myself because I didn’t realize these people were looking for anonymous sexual encounters. I was incredibly stupid to believe the personal ads.

A good friend of mine long ago told me “Ron, your only problem is that you suffer from terminal naiveté.” I’ve always remembered that friendly admonishment. It is true. No matter how old I get, I still believe what I’m told until proven wrong. I have tried to be cynical and suspicious (like most of my friends) but I’m just not hard wired that way. For a long time now I realized that the world is full of two kinds of people. There are those who throw trash out their window on the roadway, knowing someone else will pick it up. Then there are those who pick up the trash. There are those who would return a wallet then found on the beach and there are those who would look for the cash and throw the wallet away. There are those who would help an injured animal on the roadway and there are those who would run over it. I can cite numerous analogies but the point I am making is that the world is full of wolves and sheep. Unfortunately I am one of the sheep. I live my life constantly on guard to protect myself from the wolves. However, I have been fortunate that during my life’s journey, I have met other like me. The older I get the more I can tell the difference between who is a wolf and who is a good, kind, gentle and caring soul. Call me naïve, but that knowledge about who my true friends are and who is a wolf in sheep's clothing keeps me going in this world. I know the difference.

Monday, February 02, 2009

The Line of Beauty




Monday, February 2, 2009. The morning sun steams through my home office window. I like working in this little bedroom that I converted in a home office. The early morning sun is a welcome friend as I begin my day checking my e-mail. That is the one constant in my life; my home, my computer, and light. I thrive on natural light.

I don’t like working on my computer at night, when all is dark. My home office in Pennsylvania was in a basement room. I couldn't work there. Bill took out the lone window when he put up the paneling in that room. The lack of natural light depressed me. I moved my computer to a corner of my 2nd floor bedroom, next to the window. Filtered light came through the trees that surrounded our house. It was better than no light in the basement office but not as good as the early morning sunlight which I have now. I love my home office in this house. It is my retreat.

The past weekend was quiet. Bill is still shunning me. That’s his choice. Apparently that’s the way he wants to live his life. I’ll adjust my life accordingly. I tried to talk to him after “the incident” but he told me to leave him alone. I will honor his request. I'm here if he wants to resume a normal relationship. However, if he want to add me to the list of people he isn't talking too, then that is his choice. I can only live my life. I'm at the point in my life now where I don't want to and probably can't change my life to please someone else. I can only be who I am. If that isn't good enough, then so be it.

Early in the morning yesterday I took more food from my freezer to feed the sea gulls in the Wal-Mart parking lot. They were waiting for me. I quickly threw the food on the ground and tossed my Zip-Lock bags in the dumpster behind Friendly’s and got out of there fast. I didn’t want any more sea gull guacamole on my car. Now I have a new worry. A friend of mine told me that I could be arrested and led away in handcuffs for tossing ANYTHING into a dumpster. This was a crime I wasn’t aware that I was breaking. Pardon me, but I assumed that our law enforcement had more important things to worry about like, oh I don’t know, maybe robberies and murders. We have a couple unsolved murders down here in our own little Peyton Place. The two that come to mind are the Grosso murder and the Gold Gym murder. But I will take the advice of my friend and NOT toss anything in a dumpster. I have been forewarned.

Yesterday afternoon I did my taxes for last year. I was surprised to find out that I owed $638. I also owed money last year, so I increased the taxes taken out of my pay from my part-time job. I was expecting to get a refund this year. That was not to be. It’s not like I make a lot of money. I receive Social Security and have a couple of small pensions and a part time job. I now have a mortgage because of the nightmare of selling my Pennsylvania house in 2006. I’m not one of these rich gay guys, in spite of the myth that the new media likes to perpetuate. Under the law I am considered single even though I’ve been in a relationship for 45 years. In this country, if you’re single, gay or straight, you’re taxed to death. Another year and I missed out on the Bush tax cuts. And I'm not holding by breath for the tax cuts Obama promised during the election. Once these politicians get in office all they seem to care about is the very rich (Republicans) or the very poor (Democrats.) I'm just one of those schlubs who worked their whole life, trying to save for a secure retirement only to see it slowly disappear as a result of the corruption of greedy Wall Street financiers and their hand maidens, the equally corrupt politicians whose only interest is to pay off their political benefactors to stay in power.

Last night I saw a good movie that I rented from Netflix, “The Line of Beauty.” I love these BBC dramas. This one was about a working-class guy (gay) who moves in with a rich family in the 80’s during his sexual awaking and England’s political awakening. The main character was unappealing and much of the acting was uneven, but it was an interesting story nonetheless because it showed the utter depravity that some people can sink to even in surrounds of opulence and luxury. Maybe it’s better being poor. If this movie was anywhere near reality, then the rich don’t have it any better than the rest of us poor blokes.

I am watching more movies these days since I’m living here alone. Movies perform the function for which they were invented. They take me away from my everyday sadness. I hope my next movie is a comedy. I need to laugh.

I go to work today at the Inn. That will take my mind off of things a bit. Wednesday I take my Census worker qualification test. My friend Ed, who was a census worker in 2000 told me “Any idiot can pass that test.” He proved it. He passed it. Coincidentally I take the test at my workplace. That’s convenient.

Saturday and Sunday I took a walk in the development behind me. Watching the snow geese fly above me and hearing the busy chirping of the birds in the brush is very soothing. I’m like a wound up knot. Seeing the Canada geese on the retention pond relaxes me like no pill can. During these bad times I find a walk is the best medicine. I need to take one everyday.

For dinner last night I made Chicken Marabella. The aroma of the dish baking in the oven filled the house with warmth and comfort. I made enough to last me all week. I also made my signature Tarragon Potato Salad with red potatoes, red onions, celery, lime mayonnaise and LOTS of tarragon. This is a recipe I adapted from a Nage potato salad that was leftover from an Inn function. The Chicken Marabella is a recipe I discovered when a friend brought a covered dish to a house party recently. Just goes to show you it is good to get out and experience the world. When you least expect it, something good happens. That’s what keeps me going.