Saturday, September 26, 2009

Why I Quit My Census Job

This past winter when I heard from a friend that the U.S. Census Bureau was hiring workers for the 2010 census I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity for a part time job.





For years I have been researching my family genealogy. I have often read the census records from 1790 (the first official U.S. Census) to 1930 (the latest year for which the census is available to the public.) I often thought that if I had the opportunity I would be a census worker myself so future generations could view the results of my conscientious efforts.



In early Spring I took the test for be a census worker. I passed the test and was offered a job as census enumerator. Basically, that is a pre census job in locating the housing units to send the official census forms in the fall.



I was scheduled to attend a week long class before I begin my actual job. The first day of class a red flag went up.



Sure, we were to be paid $16.25 an hour and now I knew why. This is a hard job. Not only is there a lot of technical detail to learn, you have to traipse around neighborhoods barging into people's personal lives trying to ascertain if anyone actually lives in that abandoned barn in the back of the house.



Each day we were given a warning about safety precautions. What was this? Did this mean we wouldn't be welcomed with open arms? Remember, this was before all the crazy tea-bagging and "You lie!" wing nut activity. Apparently there are folks out there who do not like the government any way shape or form.



My training was scanty. I had problems with my GPS unit. Heck, my instructor didn't even have a working GPS unit. The first day out in the field, our leader quit. The signs weren't good.



On my first day out in the field, I look for and find my neighborhood assignment. Now where to park my vehicle? On the lawn? In the road? Then I have to stand out in the middle of the road to get a good satellite connection. The good vibes I had about being a selfless census taker are rapidly disappearing.



I can't find my starting address. I see an older man and a teenage working on installing a stair from the deck of their doublewide. I introduce myself as a United State Census worker. They look up from their work to me with unsmiling faces. They are obviously not thrilled to see me. Maybe I'm interrupting them from their work or maybe I work for THE GOVERNMENT. I live in a very conservative area of Sussex County, Delaware. I have since found out this is Teabagging County. Little did I know then.



I asked them for directions to my first address. The older man gestures impatiently towards the end of the development. Still, I'm the only one who is speaking the mother tongue of the colonies, English.



I proceed toward the other end of the development. I find my address. I walk towards the door and immediately I hear a dog barking with alarm. My first house and I get a dog attack. An elderly gentleman appears behind the glass storm door. I identify myself as a U.S. Census worker and explain my mission. He also is not thrilled to see me. I ask him my questions and he confirms that the information I have is correct. I think him and proceed to the next house on my list.



My car is at the other end of the development. Should I move it? Would the person who owns the property object to my car being parked out in front of his Home Sweet Home? Probably. It was then and there that I decided "This isn't the job for me." Nope. That was it. I quit.



Now I don't quit jobs lightly. I take very seriously my responsibilities when I apply for a new job. But from Day One, all the signals were negative for me on this census taker job. I would be traipsing all over the countryside into people's back yards, sticking my nose where it didn't belong, asking questions that the recipients were not welcoming. I was an intrusion on their lives. That is not my personality.



When I got home after a full 2 1/2 hours or so (one windy afternoon) out in the field, I called my field manager and submitted my resignation.



Later that day I wrote about my resignation on my blog. I was promptly castigated by some readers on my blog about being a "quitter" and taking the money and run (I got paid for the week of training.) To be perfectly frank, I didn't care whether they paid me or not (they did about two weeks later.) I just felt like a tremendous burden was lifted from my shoulders.



Now this week I hear where a census worker was found dead. He was naked, had "Fed" written on his chest, and was tied to a tree in a wooded area of Kentucky (not God's country by any stretch of the imagination.) Uh huh. My worst fears were realized.



Now don't get me wrong. I have all the respect in the world for our census workers. It is a job that needs to be done. It is hard work. Even at $16.25 an hour, they still aren't paid enough for what they have to learn and the sheer physical effort that they have to put forth in searching out addresses and people. It is a thankless job.



We have Wall Street types and bankers who get paid millions (and in some cases billions) just for rearranging money packages. Then we have people like census workers and our military personnel sacrifice their personal comfort and put their lives on the line for the betterment of this country. What is wrong with this picture?



I point the finger of blame on the current version of the Republican Party who has whipped up such an anti-government fervor in this country that causes violence like this to happen.

I've always felt tinge of guilt because I quit my census taker job but now I know why. I'm not putting my life on the line to be exposed to the danger that the Republican Party and the wingnuts have caused to happen in this country.




Ironically, about a month ago the Census Bureau called me and asked me if I wanted a job as a poll taker in the fall. Even though I quit my enumerator job in the spring they still wanted me back. That's how bad they are hurting for census workers. I turned down the job offer.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Reality is Settling In

The reality of the condition of our former home is starting to settle in now. Back when we sold our home in November of 2006 I would never have predicted that our former home would end up as a "Grey Gardens" home. It is ironic because just a few weeks ago I saw the documentary about Grey Gardens from one of my Netflix DVD rentals.




Bill has always been upset that we left our home in Pennsylvania because he treasured the privacy that it offered him. Over the twenty five years that we lived there, he put his heart and soul into building the sun room and the massive brick edifice in the front of the building. It was heartbreaking for Bill to see the neglect of the property over the last three years.



Bill builds drainage ditches. They were all clogged with debris. The roof gutters had weeds growing out of them from the accumulation of three years worth of debris.



My fishponds that I lovingly took care of faithfully every spring, summer and fall were loaded with dead leaves. Incredibly, one of the fish ponds still had two goldfish in them. One was a large goldfish. I wonder if it was a survivor from the original goldfish I had in the ponds when I left in November of 2006. I felt like I betrayed them.






Bill said he wouldn't have felt as bad if the new owners had taken pride in the property and improved upon what we had already done. But apparently all they did was use the property and now they're going to move on.



It's hard for me to understand how an owner can even put up a property for sale with all the overgrown weeds and trash laying around. The house is dirty inside. I remember well what one real estate agent told me after one of my sixty plus showings of the house when I was trying to sell it. He said that he had never in his twenty five years of selling houses seen one as clean as mine for a showing.





Bill and I busted our behinds making the house immaculate prior to each showing. I always made sure I had fresh flowers throughout the house before any showing. We had all the lights on and soft music playing throughout the house. Both fish ponds were well stocked with fish and plants and had clear water recirculation through them. The fish were happy. Bill and I both kept the grounds around the house mowed, trimmed and bursting with colorful flowers. In retrospect it was all to no avail. We finally sold the house but I don't think it made a bit of difference how we presented the house. All the potential buyers were interested in was how low could they go in the price. The blood was in the water and I was on a fool not to recognize it.



The new owner has the property up for sale for $549,000. I sold it to him in November of 2006 for $500,000. He originally offered me $450,000. When I first put the house on the market in January of 2006 I was asking $695,000. The house was worth $625,000. I should have taken my real estate agent's advice and started at $650,000 but I didn't and I paid the price for it. What is ironic now is that the new owner will probably get close to his asking price. I would not be surprised at all. What surprises me is how anyone could take a beautiful property like we sold to him and totally neglect it for three years and then have the nerve to put it on the market in the state that it is in and ask a higher price. He has something that I don't have, chutzpah.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Five Lessons in Life

I don't usually post something like this to my blog but I thought this was well worth it.  A friend sent it to me by e-mail.  Good lessons in life.  Always remember, the best lesson in life is the Golden Rule.  Treat others the way you want them to treat you. 
I know this one has been around before, but It's worthwhile reading again.


Five (5) lessons to make you think about the way we treat people..







1 - First Important Lesson - Cleaning Lady.






During my second month of college, our professor


gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student


and had breezed through the questions until I read


the last one:






'What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?'






Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the


cleaning woman several times.. She was tall,


dark-haired and in her 50's, but how would I know her name?






I handed in my paper, leaving the last question


blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if


the last question would count toward our quiz grade.






'Absolutely,' said the professor.. 'In your careers


you will meet many people. All are significant. They


deserve your attention and care, even if all you do


is smile and say 'hello.'






I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her


name was Dorothy.






2. - Second Important Lesson - Pickup in the Rain






One night, at 11:3 0 p.m., an older African American


woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway


trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had


broken down and she desperately needed a ride.


Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.


A young white man stopped to help her, generally


unheard of in those conflict-filled 60s.. The man


took her to safety, helped her get assistance and


put her into a taxicab.






She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his


address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a


knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a


giant console color TV was delivered to his home. A


special note was attached.






It read:


'Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway


the other night. The rain drenched not only my


clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along.


Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying


husband's bedside just before he passed away... God


bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving


others.'






Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.






3 - Third Important Lesson - Always remember those who serve.






In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less,


a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and


sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him.






'How much is an ice cream sundae?' he asked.






'Fifty cents,' replied the waitress.






The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and


studied the coins in it.






'Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?' he inquired.






By now more people were waiting for a table and the


waitress was growing impatient.






'Thirty-five cents,' she brusquely replied.






The little boy again counted his coins..






'I'll have the plain ice cream,' he said.






The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on


the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice


cream, paid the cashier and left. When the waitress


came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the


table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish,


were two nickels and five pennies..






You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had


to have enough left to leave her a tip.






4 - Fourth Important Lesson. - The obstacle in Our Path.






In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a


roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if


anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the


king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by


and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the


King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.






Then a peasant came along carrying a load of


vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the


peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the


stone to the side of the road. After much pushing


and straining, he finally succeeded. After the


peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed


a purse lying in the road where the boulder had


been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note


from the King indicating that the gold was for the


person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The


peasant learned what many of us never understand!






Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition.






5 - Fifth Important Lesson - Giving When it Counts...






Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a


hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who


was suffering from a rare & serious disease.. Her only


chance of recovery appeared to be a blood


transfusion from her 5-year old brother, who had


miraculously survived the same disease and had


developed the antibodies needed to combat the


illness. The doctor explained the situation to her


little brother, and asked the little boy if he would


be willing to give his blood to his sister..






I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a


deep breath and saying, 'Yes I'll do it if it will


save her..' As the transfusion progressed, he lay in


bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did,


seeing the color returning to her cheek. Then his


face grew pale and his smile faded.






He looked up at the doctor and asked with a


trembling voice, 'Will I start to die right away?'.






Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the


doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his


sister ALL of his blood in order to save her but he had chosen to save her anyway.










'Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching.'

I especially like the last lesson:

"Dance like you do when nobody's watching."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

You Really Can't Go Home Again


Bill and I visited our former home in Pennsylvania today. We just got back home here in Delaware a few minutes ago. All I can say is that we're still in shock after discovering the advanced state of disrepair of our former home and property.




The grounds were totally unkempt. I don't believe the hedges were ever trimmed since the say we sold the property on November 17, 2006. Fallen branches and debris litter the lawn at every turn.



The fish ponds are still there but are full of decaying leaves. Much to my surprise I saw two goldfish. God knows how they survived the past almost three years. I feel so guilty leaving them to this fate.



The inside of the house is just as bad. The beautiful solid walnut wood floors that were Varathaned to a high gloss, are chipped and scratched big time. I suspect the scratches are mostly from dog toenails since the owners have a dog. The scratches are extra high near the windows where the dog obviously got excited when someone approached the house.



Most of the walls are half stripped of wall paper.



The rusty wheel barrow I left leaning against the tree because I didn't have room for it in my car is still leaning in the same spot as are many other items I did not remove.



The house is being sold "as is." It is advertised as "needing a little TLC." I would say.



Bill and I were really looking forward to seeing what the new owners did with the house. Now we know. They didn't do much except replace a shower with a bathtub for their daughters' bedroom and make a home office in the space above the garage.



On the way up to Pennsylvania this morning Bill and I were discussing open casket funerals. Bill doesn't like them. They don't bother me. I told Bill the first time I saw a dead body in an open casket was when I was 18 years old and the deceased person was my Uncle John Tipton who died in an accident (he burned to death.) Almost everyone remarked "how well he looked." I looked at him and I didn't see my Uncle John. I saw a shell that he inhabited while he was on this earth. The man I knew was gone. He had departed from this shell (body) he occupied during his time on earth. I had that same feeling today when I saw our old home. It isn't our home anymore. It is a shell. That house and property does not posses the life it did when we were there with our three dogs. As a good friend of mine said about his home before he was about to move "This house used to sing, it doesn't sing now." That's the way I feel now. Our former home doesn't sing anymore. We have a new home here in Delaware and it sings.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

House for Sale

I just heard that our old property in Pennsylvania is up for sale.  If I had the money I would buy it back in a second.

Bill has never been happy at our new home in Delaware.  I am very happy at our new home in Delaware.

My plan was to win the Powerball so I could buy our old home back.  Bill could live up there and I could live here in Delaware.  We could visit each other.

I have a rich friend who has a home in Rehoboth Beach and a home not too far from our old home in Pennsylvania.  Like our old home, his Pennsylvania home is also in the woods.  His home in Delaware is three blocks form the Atlantic Ocean.  Our home in Delaware is two miles from the Delaware Bay.  Our friend travels back and forth between his two homes.  Our friend is rich.  We are not rich.  That's why I want to win the Powerball lottery.  Then I will be rich and can buy back our old home in Pennsylvania.


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Never Too Many Flowers


Bill and I got back from our weekly breakfast at Zorba's restaurant in Rehoboth Beach a short time ago. We're both full of buttermilk pancakes. What a wonderful way to start the day.




The skies are clear, the temperatures are cool (66 degrees) and the cool breeze of the morning invigorates the spirit. It is on days like this that one is glad to be alive.



Our neighbor stopped by last night to bring Bill some of his homemade grilled chicken. He warned me and Bill that he may have to use a machete to cut his way through our foliage to get to our front door the next time he stops over.






I love a walkway that is enveloped by a colorful border of flowers. For years and years I wanted such a walkway but when I lived in the woods in Pennsylvania the deer would not permit it. The deer ate my impatient flowers as soon as they bloomed. They ate my Hosta plants. They ate my azalea plants. They ate my rhododendron plants. They ate everything.



Today I start my three day blitz of work from 3 to 11 tonight. Monday I have an appointment with my doctor at the Veterans Administration Center in Wilmington to review my lab tests I took a few weeks ago. I work a few more days until the end of the month.



Next month I attend my 50th high school class reunion. That takes place on October 17th at the Whitford County Club in Exton, PA. Between then and now I have to update the reunion booklet. I haven't gotten the updated information from my classmates yet so I expect that it will be crunch time updating that booklet.



This past week I sensed the change of seasons. My work at the hotel will be winding down to one day a week. The yard work that has consumed so much of my time this spring and summer will come to an end with the cold weather.



This winter I plan to finally finish unpacking the boxes that I left unpacked in my media room in the basement. They have been in that room since we moved down here November 17th, 2006. Somewhere in there are some goodies I've been missing. Once I sort through those boxes, I'll make the determination what I keep and what goes to the local thrift store.



Now that I'm entering the last chapter of my life I realize it is time for me to make some final decisions. No more saving "things" for the future. The future is here now. I do know that most of the "stuff" I have is of no interest to anyone but me. However, I do receive some pleasure from seeing mementos from my past life. They bring back memories of a time not so long ago that I thought would go on forever.



I have memories of yesterday and hope for tomorrow. But I live for today.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Crazy Days



I thought I was going to coast through this week after only having to work Monday night at the hotel. That didn't happen. Here's just a short list of all the unexpected things that happened that has worn this old boy out:




Monday: Had a scheduled appointment with the dermatologist at the Wilmington VA. I missed my ride (they were looking for me at the American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro and I was at Rts. 1 and 5.) Bill had to drive me to the VA. At the VA I got three precancerous spots burned off of my face. That procedure didn't feel good.



After shopping at Sam's Club in Dover, we get home in time for me to have a quick lunch and go in early to relieve the daytime front desk clerk who had to pick up her daughter at school.



I get off work at 11 that night and get home exhausted.



Tuesday: A day of "rest." No obligations today so I took the time to mow and trip the grass on my one acre property. That chore took about two hours. While I love working outside, the strong wind was wearing me down.



A former co-worker and friend who I haven't seen in over ten years, calls and tells me he is in Ocean City, MD and would like to stop by for a visit tomorrow. I say okay.



My Mother calls and says that the bank didn't receive the CD they sent to me to be signed. I know I sent it to them. I calm down my Mother and assure her that her CD isn't lost and then play telephone tag with the lady at the bank whose name is Dulemba ("Dumb".) She has a HEAVEY Hispanic accent. And she's an AVP? Finally late afternoon we connect and she tells me that she will send new paperwork. I call my Mother and tell her that all is not lost. I miss my afternoon nap.



Wednesday: My former co-worker and friend stops by the house at 11:30 am. While it was good to see him, I'm in my tour guide mode for the rest of the day. I had planned to do my weekly cooking on this day and also get a haircut, but that has to be postponed. My friend leaves late afternoon. I miss my afternoon nap. I try to get on the computer before I go to bed. I've lost my Internet connection.



Thursday: First thing, I check to see if I have an Internet connection. I don't even have a phone connection. Thus, I will spend a good portion of my morning calling Verizon on my cell phone and punching through a series of menu options to report no phone service and not Internet service. Bill wants me to drop him off at an auto repair garage in Milton. I'm baking a pie in the oven. I ask him to give me an hour.



On the way to Milton I get a call on my cell phone from the Verizon service repairman asking me if I tested the house lines. I told him we did. The problem is never in the house. I've had more problems with my Verizon connection since I moved to Delaware 2 1/2 years ago than I had in my 26 years when I lived in Pennsylvania.



Bill insists that I meet his auto repairman. I agree he's a character. Bill is intrigued by his "Southern" accent. I tell Bill "That's a Sussex County redneck accent. You just haven't heard it before because we live on the east side of Rt. 1 where all the transplants from other states live."



We return home and for the first time this week I have a normal lunch and take a short nap. I didn't sleep well because I knew I still had a lot to do today. I was up but I still had a lingering tiredness. I headed to the kitchen and finally started to prepare my weekly cooking project. I cook a casserole once a week and eat the left over the rest of the week. This cuts down on my food prep time. Today's recipe was very labor intensive. I was using the overflow of tomatoes from my garden and eggplant to make my Eggplant and Tomato Casserole (I have to come up with a unique name since the recipe is my invention.) The recipe also contains Italian sweet sausage, bread crumbs, Mozzarella cheese and Chablis wine. It is delicious and lasts all week if I'm lucky.



I received a call from a friend of mine who wants to dispose of his dead TV. Our schedules haven't coincided yet to enable me to help him transport his dead TV to the recycle center. I didn't finish cooking until 7:30 this evening. I am exhausted but as I said earlier, this recipe is very labor intensive but well worth it. I send my friend an e-mail and suggest Saturday, after my weekly breakfast at Zorba's with Bill and before I go to work at the hotel.  There appears to be a window of opportunity there.  Hopefully it will fit into my friend's schedule.



As far as I know I have nothing scheduled for tomorrow. Perhaps I can start on updating my 50th class reunion booklet. The reunion is October 17th, so I don't have much time.



Tomorrow I’ll mentally prepare myself for a three day stretch of work at the hotel. On Monday I have another appointment at the Wilmington VA. Yesterday Bill and I stopped down at the American Legion Post 28 in Millsboro to check in person my van reservation for Monday. They have me down to be picked up at Rts. 1 and 5. Maybe next week will get off to a better start.



I’m looking forward to the cool weather. My hours will go back to one night a week. The yard work will come to an end. After the class reunion on October 17th, I plan to finish unpacking from our move down here almost three years ago (November 17, 2006.)



This November I will turn 68 years old. I remember something my Mother told me about the time she reached this age. She was weeding corn and realized after the third row she couldn’t do what she took for granted. For the first time in her life she felt her age. That’s what I’m feeling now, my age. I am tired.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Visit From an Old Friend



Today I had a visit from an old friend and former co-worker from my Philadelphia bank days.




The last time I saw Tom was in 1996. We used to work together from 1987 to 1994 at Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia.



Over the years we have talked on the phone but not seen each other face to face since the last time he visited me when I worked at Downingtown National Bank.



Tom called last night and said he was in Ocean City Maryland and would I mind if he stopped in for a visit. Of course I said I would love to see him. Tom was one of my favorite co-workers at Fidelity Bank. The reason for that is probably because we think a lot alike. However, that is where the similarities end. Tom is straight, I am gay. Tom is a millionaire and I am poor. But he's still the same Tom that I remember from our days at Fidelity Bank in Philadelphia. Friendly, funny and personable.  I've often told Tom he could make a living as a stand-up comedian, he is that funny. 



When Tom was a youngster his family used to bring him to Lewes, Delaware for the summer. He hasn't been in the area in over fifteen years. He was very surprised by all the changes.


I took him to meet the folks I work with now at the hotel next to the canal in Lewes. I had another pleasant surprise because the son of my co-worker at the hotel was back from Iraq and visiting her. I gave him a big hug and thanked him for his service to our country.



Tom and I left for lunch in Rehoboth. I took him to my favorite place the Purple Parrot. We both liked char grilled hamburgers and the Parrot is one of the few restaurants that serves real char grilled hamburgers.



After lunch we took a walk up the street and I took Tom in to another restaurant to visit a good friend who is the host of that restaurant. This was the first time I was in my friend's workplace. Again, I was impressed. Maybe this was a day for me to be impressed.



Today was a day of a lot of smiles, rehashing old stories and general good will and camaraderie. Today was a good day.



The only negative note was when I got home and checked my e-mail and found that that the mother of a very good friend of mine had died. Today was another reminder of how fragile life is and how we should make each day count. Today was one of those days that counted.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Visit to the VA


I missed my ride to the VA yesterday.




As Bill and I sat waiting in the early morning murkiness that is the parking lot of the liqueur store located at Rt. 1 and Rt. 5, I had an ominous feeling that the American Legion van wasn't stopping by to pick me up. I was right.



Six o'clock rolled around. No van. It is now six fifteen am and still there is no van. Maybe they're late. "No", I tell Bill,”they're not coming." Six thirty and it is now daylight. We're still in the parking lot waiting in vain for a ride that will never arrive. I call the van coordinator, waking him. Still half asleep, he told me he put me on the calendar at the American Legion. Then I thought "I didn't tell him to pick me up at Rt. 1 and 5." Ah ha. My fault.



My appointment at the VAMC in Wilmington was for 9:00 am in the dermatology department. I told Bill he will have to take me to the VA. It's a 90 mile trip one way. One plus is now we could give his new GPS a real test. Off we went to Wilmington in the early morning traffic. This was not what Bill had planned for this day.



The traffic wasn't as bad as we had feared. We only made one wrong turn (taking Rt. 141 south instead of Rt. 141 north.) The woman's voice (She Who Must Be Obeyed) on the GPS quickly recalculated and we quickly corrected our course. We arrived at the VA at 8:20, plenty of time for me to check into the dermatology unit. They request that you be there at least 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment.



A young intern from Thomas Jefferson University examined me for any skin cancer problems. She found three areas of actinic keratosis on my face. One was right in the middle of my forehead and two on my left sideburn. She burned them off with a dry ice spray. It burned. Now I have a red dot in the middle of my forehead. With a turban I could pass for one of those Pakistani sects.



After my treatment I went looking for the van driver in the main waiting area of the VA. The American Legion Post 28 of Oak Orchard provides a van four days a week for any veteran from Slower Lower (Sussex County Delaware) who wishes to avoid driving to the Wilmington VA. It is very generous of them. We can contribute to the cost if we want to but it isn't necessary. Most of the vets contribute $10 or whatever they can afford. No one keeps records.



I locate the van driver and tell him who I am. He shows me his list and I see a note next to my name as a "No Show." That's what we have at the hotel where I work, "No Shows." That's people who make reservations who don't show up. I'm a "No Show." I was mortified. I apologized to him and told him that I neglected to tell Tim (who I made the reservation through earlier in the week) that I was to be picked up at Rts. 1 and 5. The driver grunted and then shifted a bit to continue waiting for the other five vets who did show up. He was finished with me. As I left I gave him a light pat on the shoulder and I saw a hint of a mile. Maybe I redeemed myself.



Bill and I headed back home, but not before we made a pit stop at Sam's Club in Dover. They have the best rotisserie chicken. The absolute best and it only costs $4.97. We also did some other shopping before heading home. We were home before noon.



I made myself some lunch then took a nap prior to going into work at the hotel. My co-worker on day shift had called me on my cell phone while I was in the waiting room at the dermatology clinic and asked me to come in early for her because she had to pick her daughter up at school. I could do that.



Last night at work was uneventful except for the fact that one of the guests complained on a comment card that she almost fell on the wet tile floor I was mopping Saturday night. The owner stopped in and wanted to know what happened. I explained to him what happened which was that I was mopping the tile floor at 10:30 at night and the guest returned to the hotel with her husband and on her way to the elevator she almost slipped on the wet tile floor (which I did not have a sign that said "Wet Floor".) I didn't know there was a sign. Now I do. I mopped the floor last night and put the sign down which I must say makes me feel more comfortable when I mop the floor. No guests came in this time though to walk across my wet floor.



I finished my shift with an aching back which I usually do because I spend the whole eight hours either standing for sitting on a stool. I have no back support. Try that for eight hours. No complaints from me though. I'm appreciative that I have a job.



Thus I just finished one of my "Daily Journal" blog entries. Look for changes to come to this blog in the near future. I have been inspired by another blog that I recently read called "Ramblings of the bearded one." His name is Kim Ayres (yes, like me he uses his real name) and he lives in Scotland. I find his blog very interesting and readable. Up until now the only blogs that I have found interesting are of two friends of mine. Their blogs are interesting because they are well written and because I know them I find their lives interesting. However, up until now I haven't found a blog of a stranger as interesting because the ones I have read are either too off the wall, badly written or on arcane subjects I have no interest. I thought I would be interested in gay blogs but they are among the worst I've ever read. Kim is straight but that is beside the point. He is an excellent writer and he writes blogs that are thought provoking, serious, and funny at all the same time. This man has a talent that is unfiltered and unfettered by some arbitrary editor or publishing company. His blog for me is a pure joy to read. I'm going to steal some of his ideas to make my blogs more interesting and readable.



The only constant is change. I will continue this conversation later.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Feed the Meter


This evening I met my friend The Cajun in Rehoboth beach for a drink and a Wimpy burger at the Purple Parrot. We haven't been to any downtown Rehoboth Beach restaurant since before Memorial Day, the influx of the Horde (aka Summer Tourists.) We locals tend to stay away from downtown Rehoboth during the height of the summer season. We turn the town over to the tourists to deposit their cash at our many and sundry summertime attractions. One of the biggest money earners are the parking meters. $1.50 gets you an hour parking spot right in downtown Rehoboth Beach, where all the action is.




Traveling down Rt. 1 was a breeze early this evening as compared to the summertime traffic which is likely as not to be backed up. Taking the turn on Rt. 1A into Rehoboth was a pleasure this evening.


My friend The Cajun and I caught up on the past few months. We're both in the service industry (he a host at a local restaurant and me a front desk clerk at a local hotel.) We traded war stories about our summer's encounters with some of the more interesting personalities to visit the area this summer. Always fun to dish I say.



We both had a delicious Wimpy (char grilled hamburger) with the best French Fries this side of Provincetown, Mass. We had our desired window seat where we could people watch. The late Sunday afternoon daylight illuminated the thinned out herd of summertime visitors still strolling up and down Rehoboth Avenue. After a festive martini or two for my friend and a modest glass of Zinfandel white wine for me, we were ready to call it a day.



My friend took off for his home and I availed myself of the remaining daylight and took a several block walk to a former friend's house on Laurel Street to see if his neighbor has sold their house. I love downtown Rehoboth sans the crowds. I especially love walking through the neighborhoods on a quiet Sunday evening like this. I think if I ever win the Powerball Lottery (I'm WAY overdue to win) I just may buy myself one of these adorable beach cottages for my very own. I know the likelihood of me getting struck by lightening five times is greater than me winning the Powerball but I can dream can't I?



As the sun set I headed back to my car parked on Rehoboth Avenue. I still had 27 minutes left in my meter but I was ready to go. I don't like to travel at night anymore. I wanted to get home before dark. I guess I'm officially entering the age of Old Codger, afraid to drive in the dark.



I got home just before dark and here I sit now writing about it. I'm about to go to bed shortly because I have to get up way too early tomorrow (4:30 am) to get ready to catch the 6:00 am American Legion van to the Wilmington VA.



I enjoyed this evening but I don't think I'll do as many evenings out this year as I did in years past. I'm just not comfortable driving in the dark. For instance, tonight as I was driving up the four lane highway that is Route 1 there was a motorcyclist with his moll hanging on the back of him weaving in and out of traffic. I could hardly see them in the twilight and the floaters in my eyes. At my age I don't need to be out on the roads at night in the dark looking out for motorcyclists weaving in and out of traffic.



Besides, I'm having a hard time devouring a whole Wimpy. I guess there is just no getting around it. I am getting old. Gone are the days of youthful indiscretions and staying up all night and going to work first thing in the morning. These days I'm looking forward to that bed and sweet dreams. Still, it was nice visiting with my friend The Cajun this evening. Maybe we can do it again, like in January.

A Touch of Fall


Yesterday morning Bill and I headed out to Rehoboth Beach and Zorba's Restaurant for our usual weekly breakfast. The food at Zorba's is mediocre at best but the layout of the restaurant is comfortable (a lot of booths)and  the services good and also gay friendly. Yesterday morning we both ordered a short stack of buttermilk pancakes. I have to say they were heavenly. I brought along my own authentic 100% maple syrup. I try to keep my consumption of all those high fructose corn syrup concoctions down to a minimum and who knows what's in that pancake syrup they serve at Zorba's.  My stomach is too tempermental at this stage of my life for me to take a chance on the unknown substance they call "maple syrup" in the sticky container the waitress placed on our formica topped table.




As we sat in the restaurant sipping our coffees (mine decaf and Bill's full blast caffeinated), I watched the traffic out on Route 1. The amount of cars and SUV's with bicycles piggybacked on the rear bumpers was less than usual. The summertime traffic is winding down. I didn't see the steady stream of traffic that I've been seeing all summer from my weekly breakfast perch at Zorba's. Thank goodness. While we locals all appreciate the business that the tourists bring to the beach areas of southern Delaware, we're not sad to see them go at the end of the season. We locals stay out of Rehoboth Beach in the summertime because of the crowds and gridlocked roads. I've seen that movie.  I don't want to see it again.


A sure sign that the summer season is coming to an end is my friend Cajun inviting me to join him for a drink and chat at the Feathered One (aka The Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach) this Sunday evening at 5:30 pm. We will renew our almost weekly get together of local friends for Happy Hour cocktails, chat and good eating in the heart of Rehoboth Beach, sans the tourists. Ah yes, I am looking forward to seeing old friends again and catching up on all the gossip of the past summer (sorry about that Harvey.)



Another sign that the summer season is coming to an end is that the onslaught of moms and dads at the hotel where I work has slacked off. Those kiddies are back in school! Last weekend was a trip and a half contending with screaming kids running to and from the breakfast room past the front desk where I am perched. Ever notice how the Little Darlings can't walk? They run. Where do they get all that energy? Wouldn't I love to have some? Did I have that kind of energy when I was a Little Darling? I don't think so because I was never a Little Darling. At least that's what my dad told me. He had another name for me, Shut Up! I didn't dare run anywhere or else I would have his big paw slamming down on my backside. But then that was another time and a different mindset.



Tomorrow I have my annual dermatology appointment at the VA Medical Center in Wilmington. That means I have to get up way to early (4:30 am) to catch the American Legion Post 28 van at 6 am for my ride to the VA. The van should get me back home around 12 noon then I have to get ready for my afternoon shift at the hotel. Then I'm off the rest of the week until the weekend. I'm working this weekend for my co-worker Monica. Her son is in Iraq and he is returning for a week's leave and she wants to spend time with him. He is a wonderful young man who generously volunteered for duty in Iraq and I will make sure to let him know how much I appreciate his effort on behalf of our country. I honor and respect all those of our best and brightest over there in Irag and Afghanistan in the service of our country.



Next Monday I have another appointment at the VA Medical Center. This one is to go over my "labs" that I took at the Georgetown VA Outpatient center. I refused to go back to the Georgetown facility because they can't keep a doctor or even a nurse practitioner to consult with me. I hate to say it but the Georgetown facility isn't doing us vets down here in southern Delaware much good. They can't even keep a doctor on premise. It's a facility in name only. I'm looking forward to seeing my previous doctor in the Wilmington VA. I felt I was in very good hands the first and only time I met with her over a year ago before I was relocated to the Georgetown VA clinic.


Next month my hours will go down to one day a week at the hotel. While the pay I receive won't do much to help with my mortgage payments, I will value the extra time I have off from work. During this past summer and spring I put a lot on the back burner while I did yard work outside. Now that the birds are gone and the planting season is coming to an end, I can get back to updating my genealogy family tree and other chores like unpacking boxes I still have from my move down here in November of 2006. Yes Virginia, I still have unpacked boxes from my move. Don't tell anyone.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Barry Goldwater is Rolling Over in his Grave


Want to know why I'm not a registered Republican anymore? The picture on this blog will tell you why. It is of a straight, white man from the South. It is of Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina. Last night during President Obama's address to a joint session of Congress, Representative Wilson broke all decorum by shouting "You lie!" in response to President Obama's speech that his health care proposal would not cover illegal immigrants. While no one disagrees with Representative Wilson's right to disagree with President Obama, few will agree that his manner of expressing his opinion was way out of line. Few that is except Fox News but that is another whole world that I won't go into now.




For most of my adult life I was a registered conservative Republican. The first president I voted for was Barry Goldwater. He espoused my views on government and our society. I started to lose it with the Republican Party during the 1992 Republican Party Convention during the Pat Buchanan culture wars keynote speech in which he railed against gays and lesbians. Watching the all white, clean cut, conventioneers rise to their feet and give enthusiastic cheers a chill went down my spine. I realized at that time this was not the political party in which I as a gay man was welcomed. The cheering conventioneers reminded me of the "good Germans" who cheered Hitler.



In the year 2001 I officially changed my registration to Democrat. Not so much because I subscribe to all the Democratic ideals but because I could no longer remain in the Republican Party after George W. Bush and his cronies took over this country. First they get us into a war of choice in which we have wasted billions of dollars and needlessly sacrificed the lives of our best and brightest. Then the Bush administration pushed through tax cuts for the rich only (I didn't see any tax cuts) and relaxed federal regulations that ran our country into a ditch. Where I really lost it with the Bush Republicans is when they tried to take away my VA medical care from me just because I wasn't a disabled veteran. That did it for me because then I would have no health care because I was out of a job. I only had the VA healthcare because that was what was promised to me if and when I ever needed it when I joined the Army in 1960 and put my life in their hands. No they're going to go back on that promise? No, that's when I decided to get out of this party which was no longer recognizable as the Republican Party to which I once belonged.



Last night's incredibly rude outburst by Representative Joe Wilson of South Carolina now shows what the Republican Party has become. It is a party of straight, white, southern men who lie, intimidate, bully and threaten. It is not my party any more. Surely, Barry Goldwater must be rolling over in his grave.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Black and White Photos

Remember when the only pictures your could take were black and white? This was back in the Fifties when I first started to take pictures. Then color photography arrived on the scene. It didn't take too long before almost all amateur photographers took color pictures. Unless you were Annie Leibovitz, most didn't realize the dramatic effect and beauty of black and white photos.



On this rainy Wednesday afternoon I was looking through some old photo albums and I came across one with black and white photos. I don't remember where I got the black and white film but here are some of the photos that I took of myself. The date was 1981 (almost 30 years ago, hard to believe) at my previous home in Pennsylvania. Nice beard.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Are They Gone Yet?

As I was waiting to cross over Route 1 on my way to work yesterday I viewed the steady stream of cars, vans and SUV's headed north on Route 1, which seemed endless. Finally, there was a break in the lava flow of traffic and I quickly darted my 98 red Subaru Forester across the road to make a left turn and head down to Lewes, where I work at the hotel and was due on the afternoon shift at 3 PM. All the cars, bicycle laden SUV's and motor homes were going home from the shore points of southern coastal Delaware after a glorious, sun drenched Labor Day Weekend. Goodbye! We full time year round inhabitants really appreciate you all coming down and spending your discretionary dollars but now you can go home. THANKS! Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.




Last night at the hotel we had precisely ONE room rented. Now this is a Labor Day Drop off. This is good news and bad news. The good news is that the job won't be as stressful from here on out. The bad news is that my hours will be cut back again because the need isn't there. Our business did pick up later in the summer after a slow spring start. Now it is dropping off again. Almost all of the guests who call into the hotel for room reservations are still looking for bargains. I can't say as I blame them. That is the nature of our economy today. Just about everyone is looking for those bargains wherever you can. I certainly will be looking for bargains too now that my hours will be cut back.



Today under cloudy skies, a cool breeze is rustling my riotous colorful flower display in the front of my house. I can feel the impending arrival of fall. I'm ready. Oh am I ever ready. While I love yard work I have had just about enough of weed whacking and pulling weeds. I'm ready to view the outside world from the many windows of my home. I'm ready to do some inside work now like updating my 50th class reunion booklet. I've been away too long from my genealogy research and I'm anxious to pick up where I left in March. And of course I can finish unpacking all those boxes that are still in my storage room from my November 2006 move. Yes, I'm ashamed to admit it. I still have boxes that I haven't unpacked. I think it's obvious by now that I don't need whatever is in those boxes if I haven't missed it by now. But I just can't bring myself to toss anything. I am an unrepentant pack rat. With my head hanging in shame, I admit it.



On days like this I enjoy listening to my wind chimes as the swirling winds swing and sway my Pampas grass. I love seeing the change of seasons. I couldn't live where there wasn't a change of seasons. Each season has its own beauty. I treasure all of them.



Now I'm looking forward where I can meet with my friends again and we can resume our weekly dinners at the Purple Parrot in Rehoboth Beach. They're gone and we’re back!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Just a Closer Walk with Thee



Sometimes I feel melancholy. Not sad, but melancholy. Today was one of those days. I am saddened by what I see happening in our country. There is a persistent and increasingly successful campaign by those on the Right to delegitimize our president. This cannot bode well for our country. At best our country will be led by an ineffectual and irrelevant president. At worst (and I hate to even contemplate this thought) our country will dissolve into an anarchy worse than any that foreign terrorists could wish upon us. As Pogo said many years ago “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Indeed, this prophetic announcement made in a cartoon all those years ago is coming true today.


I will not go into the politics in this blog. My only purpose in this posting is to express my sadness and concern.



Those who know me know that I’m not a church going religious person. The church left me down a long time ago when it condemned me to Hell for my homosexuality. I could never accept man made organized religion after I was condemned so heartlessly for the mere fact of being born. However, I do have my private spirituality. Listening to this song, “A Closer Walk with Thee” brings me peace and contentment. When I die (and I will as all of will), this is the song I want played at my funeral service. I am specifically requesting the Patsy Cline version.



These days I prefer to think all that is beautiful and pure in our lives and world. One such beauty is the rose with dew on its petals. I took this picture this morning in my garden. Another beautiful and pure thing is visiting my friend who is about to embark on a long trip. Bill and I had a good visit with our friend Big Bob. We joked about old times and kidded him about the possibility that he will have to be stripped searched before he could board a plane for his trip. It was all in good fun.



Then I come home again and check the news on my computer. There isn’t any good news. It all seems bad. After this posting I’ll go out again and take a walk through my garden where the only activity is the insects busily swirling around my many flowered plants enriching their short lives. Soon I too will be coming to the end of my life. I have to honestly say that I will go without any regrets. I really don’t want to be around when I see the direction this country is going. Maybe tomorrow will be better. In the meantime I seek pace and solace in this beautiful song, “A Closer Walk with Thee.”

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Full Moon Day



Five o’clock rolled around early this morning. I had to be in work by 7 am to open up the hotel on this Labor Day weekend. Looking out my Wall of Windows in my great room I saw a full moon hanging in the sky. That portended the day to follow.




First thing I do on the way to work on the morning shift is to stop at the Food Lion in Five Points to pick up the morning papers to place in the hotel’s breakfast room. At this early in the morning, everyone is moving slow, including yours truly. At quarter to seven I burst through the doors to Food Lion looking for the papers. No papers. Right behind me is a rough looking gal delivering the papers. I quickly grab the papers I need and I’m off to work. I arrive shortly before 7 am, clock in and immediately encounter a Needy Guest.



Now my job at the hotel is the front desk clerk. I check guests in the hotel, I take reservations, I answer questions like which restaurant serves the best crab cakes, where can they rent bicycles and other many and varied questions. That’s my job. That’s what they pay me to do. But, as all hotel front desk clerks know, there are those guests who find it impossible to pass the front desk without asking a multitude of questions and requesting special treatment. These guests are called Needy Guests. Well, we had one this morning. Oh Mother of God did we have one this morning, afternoon, and all day long. “How do you get to the beach?” “Can I walk to the beach?” “Do you have towels?” “Do you have a bag for the towels?” “Where is the library?” “How do I get to the library?” “Can I feed my child in the breakfast room?” The questions continued on and on ad infinitum. If it sounds like I’m complaining, well I am. This woman wore me out. Oh yes, the biggie was could I wash her baby bottles and have them ready at 12 pm in time before her little darling’s nap. Oh yes, that’s what we specialize in at the hotel, using our dishwasher to wash baby bottles.



Well, enough about her. Another guest comes to the front desk and tells me he’s not happy with his room. He says he doesn’t have a balcony. I check his reservation and find that his wife made the reservation over the Internet. He tells me he feels claustrophobic and “can’t breath” because he doesn’t have a balcony and asks me if I could move him to another room. I tell him I cannot because we are sold out. He asked me again if I could “do something.” He tells me that he wasn’t told that his room (actually a very nice suite with a sun room) didn’t have a balcony. Mind you, his wife made the reservation herself over the Internet. On our website if the room doesn’t have a balcony we don’t say “Room doesn’t have a balcony.” He isn’t happy with this explanation and says to me “Would you rent a room without a balcony?” Uh, actually I have. In fact I think every room I have ever rented in my life did not have a balcony. But I could tell what he was trying to do my challenging me with his confrontational questions. He was trying to make me defensive.  He wanted to make HIS mistake MY mistake. I wasn’t going to permit that to happen. Even though my main adult business career was trust operations, since 1994 I’ve worked part time as a hotel front desk clerk. I’ve seen this movie before. I know how this game works and I wasn’t going to be drawn into it. I told him he could sit on the Waterview Room deck which faces the canal. He still wasn’t smiling but he realized that I wasn’t going to pull a private room for him out of you know where that had a balcony.



The rest of the morning continued in a similar vein. My manager said “There must be a full moon with all the weirdness.” I confirmed to him that yes, indeed there was a full moon. I was so glad when 3 o’clock rolled around and my shift came to an end and I turned over the reins of The Full Moon Inn to my relief, Monica. I just got off the phone with Monica. As the readers of this blog probably surmised by now, the weirdness continues. She related to me some truly strange tales that happened since I left this afternoon including that same guest who felt “claustrophobic” in his room. He spilled a can of soda on his bed, expensive comforter and all. Nice. Thank goodness Monica was able to get the comforter in the washer before the soda dried and she was able to remove the stain. She has about four hours to go before her shift ends. I don’t go in again until Monday afternoon at 3 PM. By then all the guests will be gone.



Oh, one big fact I left out. There were at least 14 kids under 5 years of age that went into our breakfast room this morning. And these little darlings didn’t walk quietly either. They ran screaming, both ways. Later on one of the guests brought down a bag of “trash” for me to dispose of. Yes, you guess it. The bag of “trash” was a bag of dirty diapers. Ah yes, all those years of night school to get my college degree and all those years of Mr. Big Shot Operations Manager in the Trust Department and here I am today disposing of a bag of s..t. I’m good.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Sour Cream Apple Pie




With the cooler temperatures I can start using my oven again. Hallelujah! Below is my adapted recipe from Cooks.com for sour cream apple pie. I use Granny Smith apples but you can use any apple that you like. Enjoy!




SOUR CREAM APPLE PIE



9 inch unbaked pie shell

1 egg

1 cup sugar

1 cup sour cream

2 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

6 cups thinly sliced apples



TOPPING



1/2 cup dark brown sugar

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup salted butter



Bake pie crust at 350 degrees for 7 minutes (partially baked.)



Beat the egg slightly; add sugar, sour cream, flour, vanilla and salt. Mix well. Add sliced apples; mix and put into pie shell.



Bake 30 minutes or until apples are tender. Meanwhile, make the topping. Mix brown sugar and flour. Cut in the butter (make sure it's cold). Sprinkle on pie. Reduce oven to 350 degrees and bake 15 minutes longer or until topping is nice and browned to your liking.



Take out of oven and cool. Eat while warm or cold. It tastes great warm with vanilla ice cream!

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Beautiful Day in Delaware

This is two of an absolutely beautiful day in Delaware. The air is crisp, the humidity is low and the breeze is gentle. Most of all the temperature is perfect at 70 degrees. It just doesn't get much better than this.

The impatients that line our walkway come up from the seeds spread by the previous year's impatient plants. Nature chooses the color. The red salvia in the back also came up by themselves, from seeds of previous years. I love impatients because they always stay neat and last the whole season until the first frost. When the first frost hits, they're gone. They look like the Wicked Witch of the West after she melted. But until that day of demise, they are glorious and we are enjoying them.

The question is now, why am I sitting at this computer when I could be outside enjoying this wonderful day. I'm gone!