Monday, November 30, 2009

Depression




“..a mental state characterized by a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity...”




Depression is indirectly the reason I live in Delaware. A longtime friend of mine suffered from depression when he worked in Philadelphia. He was depressed because he was living a life his mother wanted him to live. He had the white collar corporate job his mother expected of him. He kept his homosexuality in the closet, because he didn’t want to disappoint his mother. He was living his life as his mother expected him to live it. He was desperately unhappy. He was depressed.



To alleviate his depression he searched for a property far enough away from home where he could get away from his depression and the oppression of living his life as his mother expected him to live his life. He found a place in Sussex County, Delaware. The property was twenty-two acres of scrub woodland several miles on the outskirts of Georgetown, Delaware.



He bought a used single-wide mobile home that had seen better days. His new home didn’t have running water and was in the middle of nowhere. His real estate agent had told him “You’ll never see another house on this road in your lifetime.” None of that mattered to him. What mattered was that he now had the freedom to live without his mother constantly setting up dates with “nice girls” or asking him when he was going to get married. He had freedom. He could live as he pleased, even if only on the weekends or days off from his job in Philadelphia.



The only problem was that he continued to have his job in Philadelphia. During the week he would commute to Philadelphia from his home from a western suburb of Philadelphia. At the end of the day he said he could hardly move his legs walking into his house where he lived with his mother. Sometimes she would have a picture of a “nice girl” on the television and the girl’s phone number for him to call to make a date. He would collapse on the living room couch, exhausted.



His only release was the freedom he had when he would go to his home in Delaware. However, he was still depressed because he knew he was still trapped. He sought release through drinking binges. He would get plastered on the weekends at his place in Delaware. He drank to deal with his depression because he knew he was still trapped in a “lifestyle” someone else had dictated for him. He continued this cycle for many years until he decided to cut all ties to his previous life. He moved permanently to his single-wide in the hinterlands of Sussex County in 1984. His depression left and he gave up his drinking. Although he didn’t have much money, his life improved immediately. He had freedom.



He was my best friend I visited him often at his new home in Delaware. I was also in the trap of the corporate job in Philadelphia that I grew to dislike after the many bank mergers. However, I didn’t have the oppression of my Mother trying to get me married off because I came out with my homosexuality in 1964. I made the decision at that time to no longer live my life as others thought I should live my life. However, I was in a relationship that I had to needed a break from occasionally.



It was during those visits that I grew to love Delaware. Other friends would also visit my friend at his black and white, single wide trailer that didn’t have running water. We peed out the back door and took the Number Two in a brown grocery bag and threw it out in the woods.



At that time in the late 70’s there was the beginning of a growing gay presence in the Rehoboth Beach area. We all would look forward to those weekends at “The Ranch” (the tongue in cheek name we gave our friend’s single-wide.) We enjoyed the freedom just to be ourselves. While we all enjoyed going out to the local gay bars the camaraderie among friends was probably more enjoyable. My friend was no longer depressed. He threw off the yoke of oppression that is living up to someone else’s expectations of how someone else should live your life.



Those years I visited my friend I often thought I would like to someday move to Delaware. I’ve always liked living near the ocean and I wanted to live in wide open spaces. The flat coastal plains of Sussex County, Delaware were very appealing to me. The growing gay community around the Rehoboth Beach area was also a factor. While I loved the rolling hills and winding roads of Pennsylvania, the homophobic attitude of some my neighbors and the high taxes eventually drove me from living in a conservative suburb of Pennsylvania.



Thus, it was during a visit to my friend in November of 2005 when I looked at a model house that I decided to move to Delaware. Although selling my house and the move was traumatic I have never regretted moving to Delaware. That’s not to say that the past three years since I lived in Delaware has been smooth, it hasn’t. But never once, not once during that period have I been depressed.



I think the major source of depression is the feeling that you are trapped. It is the feeling that everything is closing in on you.



I have another good friend whom I have known many years. Recently he has been sinking into depression. His situation is different. He has a job that he likes but management has changed and his integrity is being questioned. He works in an upscale clothing store unloading stock. He loves his job. It was part-time. His co-workers like him and he likes them. However, since the economy has taken a downtown, the new management is placing some of the blame on staff. Hours are being changed, new jobs are being assigned including one which he doesn’t like, cashier. He doesn’t want to be a cashier. Now he is required to have someone accompany him to the dumpster when he takes out his flattened out cardboard boxes. When he leaves work he has to leave with his pockets pulled inside out. He feels trapped. He is depressed.



Other people in my life are depressed. My Mother is depressed. My new found blog friend from Scotland is depressed. A long time friend of mine who I worked with at my job in Philadelphia was so depressed she went into her ten year old daughter’s bedroom and blew her brains out. I can’t help but think that the main cause of depression is a chemical imbalance in the brain. I have come to this conclusion because I have other friends who have had very traumatic things happen in their life yet they remain upbeat and optimistic. I will write about these friends in future blog posting on this subject.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sunny Sunday


After what has seemed like a long, dark and bleak two weeks, the sun finally made an appearance today.




I just came back from my walk. I don't remember the last time I took my walk around the development behind where I live, but my legs were telling me it was time for a walk.



I am now refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed. I am ready to face the week ahead.



Days like this are just one more reason why I liked living in southern Delaware. As I type this blog posting I hear the hum of several lawn mowers making their final run for the season on my neighbor's verdant green lawns. Such a sound one would never hear where I previously lived in Pennsylvania this late in the year. That sound is music to my ears.



Soon the cold winds of winter will fall upon the flat coastal plain of this area of Sussex County, Delaware. Today I am enjoying the bonus spring day that Mother Nature has bestowed upon us her in southern Delaware.



Happy Sunny Sunday to everyone!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Mom's Thanksgiving Dinner 2009

Here is my Mom yesterday at her Thanksgiving dinner at my brother's home in Greenville, South Carolina.  I am so thankful that my Mom had a proper Thanksgiving with friends and family. 

Bless her heart.  After all those years of doing for others she is now being treated like the queen that she is.  I'm so happy for you Mom!  I love that smile.


Thank You

Thank you to all my friends who have expressed their support to me during my recent encounter with hostility. I cannot say anything more about the situation out of respect for the privacy of the parties involved but I can say that it warms my heart to receive your support. Thank you again.



Hopefully in a couple of days I'll be back on track again with my usual irreverent view of life here as a retiree in southern Delaware of these United State of America.



One more thing, I forgot to thank our courageous and selfless service men and women who are serving in the armed forces during this Thanksgiving. Without them we would not have the freedoms we take for granted. Thank you!


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009



Here we are at another Thanksgiving Day holiday. I should be feeling carefree and wonderful but I am not. It's not because I'm going to work today but because of the recent unpleasantness I had. I'm trying to move on but I have to admit I am having difficulty. But I won't go into it any more. I only mention it because the hurt it caused is still affecting my morale. Sometimes I just get tired of the whole world and want to go to sleep and not wake up. I've heard other people say this and thought they were overreacting and not getting a proper perspective on their situation. But, until you're on the receiving end of unsolicited and hateful bigotry you just never realize how harmful it is to one's psyche.




Moving on.....my friend Big Bob and his partner annually prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for all their friends and acquaintances who have nowhere else to go for Thanksgiving dinner. Anyone can come. No engraved invitations are needed. Bob has been doing this for over twenty years. You'll never see anything in the local newspaper about it although I think it is a great human interest story.




The Rehoboth Beach area has a large gay population that mainly consists of older gays and lesbians. The lesbians seem to take care of their "family" quite well but many of the Old Gay Guys had no where else to go for Thanksgiving other than their relatives as the bachelor uncle they took pity upon. Big Bob offered a different choice.



At Bob and Jim's twenty or more of the Old Gay Guys gather once a year for family, fellowship and camaraderie gay style. We gather together and don't have to be careful no to offend the brother-in-law who hates gays but is willing to have his sister's brother at the family table as long as he DOESN'T SHOVE THE GAY THING IN THEIR FACE. You know, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" version of being gay at the family dinner table. No, at Bob and Jim's we old Gay Guys can be ourselves among friends. You know, just like a regular family.



Now to be fair, I have been invited and attended several straight family dinners at Thanksgiving in the past and they couldn't have been nicer to me. My being gay wasn't an issue but I also knew that I should not bring up anything at all about my life although most of the other family members around the table talked about their boyfriends and girlfriends, my personal life was not to be discussed. Oh sure, I can just imagine the reaction if I told them about the new cute waiter at the Purple Parrot. Not that I'm complaining though. I have had wonderful dinners at my straight friend's houses but it's not the same as being around the table of a bunch of old queens (as we affection ally call ourselves, not that we are or anything, Heaven forefend.)



I will miss Thanksgiving dinner at my friend Big Bob's this year again. I'm working at the hotel. I like working during the holidays. I get a chance to greet and make comfortable the mostly older guests who are in town to celebrate the holiday with their children and grandchildren but don't want to stay in the house. I've always found that working the holidays to be the most pleasant time at whatever hotel I'm working at that time. I enjoy spending my holiday with these appreciative guests.



I hope by the end of this holiday week this feeling of melancholy will have gone.



Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rules of Life



Life is as serious as it is and especially lately for me. My Mom and my best friend are in the early stages of dementia.  Some of my good friends are undergoing grueling cancer treatments.  And I was recently the target of homophobic hate on my Facebook account from the husband of a friend of mine (who is probably no longer my friend, sad to say.) 

As long as I live I will never get used to the mindless cruelty of some people just because of who I am and the fact that I don't live my life as they deem I should. But, I will attempt to put that behind me and look forward to the friends that I do have that I care about and they care about me.

Yesterday I had a very nice lunch with a new friend.  That helped to bring me out of my recent doldrums.We had a few laughs, enjoyed each other's company then we were on our way.  Yesterday's lunch was a delightful interlude in an otherwise drab and dreay day.  I needed that.


Yesterday I also discovered that Facebook is a great new way to get in contact with the newer generation of my relatives. That will help me greatly in keeping up to date my genealogical family tree as well as arrange a family reunion this summer. I love working on my family genealogy.  That is my lifetime task from which I receive a great deal of satisfaction.  I would much rather spend my time in this manner than responding to someone placing his hate on me.  Love conquers hate everytime. 



I have much to be thankful for. I have good health. I have good friends and I have a wonderful, caring family. I have a nice home and a loving and caring life partner in Bill. I cannot and will not let the hate of those few people who harbor hatred towards me because I am a gay man deter me from happiness.




Below is my humor of the day. I promise my future postings will be more upbeat. I post my life as it happens. Hopefully there won't be too many more incidents like this in my life. I thought they all disappeared with the enlightenment of the past few years. I was wrong. Here is the humor:



Rules of Life They Don’t Teach in School



1. Never give yourself a haircut after three margaritas.


2. You need only two tools. WD-40 and duct tape. If it doesn’t move and it should, use WD-40. If it moves and shouldn’t, use the tape.


3. Everyone seems normal until you get to know them.


4. If he or she says that you are too good for him or her – believe them.


5. Never pass up an opportunity to pee.


6. Be really nice to your friends. You never know when you are going to need them to empty your bedpan.




Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hate

I recently deleted a post about someone who invaded my Facebook account and directed his homophobia at me out of respect for a friend of mine whose account he used.  However, I want this person to know he doesn't control my life.  I also want this person to know that he should leave me alone to live my life as I choose.  I don't need him or his view of religion to tell me how to live my life.  Leave me alone.  Respect my privacy as I have shown respect for your family by removing my original post.



Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values



and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false


and the false with the true.

Martin Luther King

Friday, November 20, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Like Living in Delaware

Alright, yesterday I listed the Top Ten Reasons Why I Like Living in Delaware.  Today I list the Top Ten Reasons Why I Don't Like Living in Delaware.  You know there had to be some.  By the way, these lists will be revised from time to time.




1) No Wegmans (Food Lion? Safeway? Not even close)



2) Too far away from the VA (89 miles now instead of 5 miles)


3) Too far away from a decent sized shopping mall (39 miles instead of 4 miles)


4) Too far away from the Super Wal-Mart (12 miles instead of 4 miles)


5) No hills, flat land (as far as the eye can see)


6) No Struble Nature Trail meandering along the Brandywine Creek (can’t take interesting nature pictures)


7) No woods (can’t take interesting nature pictures)


8) No dermatologists (without waiting at least three months for an appointment, what is THAT? We live at the shore for chrissake)


9) No Brickside Grill (thus no good Chicken Quesadillas or Trivia Night)


10) No Wegmans (oops! I already said that didn’t I? That said, Giant is no Wegmans)



Thursday, November 19, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Why I Like Living in Delaware

Below are listed the top ten reasons why I like living in Delaware (Sussex County, coastal area.)  Tomorrow I will list the top ten reasons why I DON't like living in Delaware.




Top Ten Reasons Why I Like Living in Delaware


(1) Low taxes – no sales tax and the school tax is very low

(2) Milder weather – one temperate zone down, makes a big difference


(3) Flat land – no dangerous hills or curves for accidents – beautiful big sky


(4) Gay friendly – little to no hostility when my partner and I dine together


(5) Straight roads – no curves for accidents and easier to find places


(6) Near the ocean – nothing like the fresh ocean air to reinvigorate the senses


(7) Open spaces – evokes a sense of primal freedom much like my ancestors


(8) Slower pace – at this time of my life I need less stress


(9) Less kids – a more proper balance of kids to adults – not jamm packed with kids


(10) More friends – a large GBLT community plus straight people who aren’t afraid of “the gays.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Leather Anniversary

The Leather Anniversary is the traditional 3rd year anniversary. Somehow leather doesn't seem appropriate at this time of my life (although it was VERY APPROPRIATE earlier in my adult life) so I will go with the more modern crystal or glass anniversary.




What am I celebrating today? Three years ago today I sold my house in Pennsylvania (after being on the market a long and torturous eleven months) and moved into my dream house here in the flat coastal plains of Sussex County Delaware.







Yes, I may now have a 30 year mortgage where I had none before and I am now paying a water bill where I paid none before (I had a well), but I can say without equivocation that I an extremely happy where I am at in life now.  I love my home, I love my friends and I love Bill.  Oh yes, we're speaking again.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

You Think It's Easy?

Bill and I have been together 45 years. Some friends ask us “How do you do it?” Well, I’m here to tell you that it is not easy. It is ALWAYS a work in progress.




What happened this morning is a perfect example. Bill wanted me to show him how he could get into his Facebook page. He has never been able to get into his Facebook account on his own. I’ve always had to show him.



Where he has the problem is he receives notifications of activity in his Facebook account by e-mails sent to his AOL account. With AOL you have to copy the Facebook notification and paste it into the browser. Bill has never understood the cut and paste commands of Microsoft. Simply put it is “Control C” to copy the HTML string and “Control V” to paste it into the browser. Bill cannot connect those dots.



So this morning Bill shows me what he is doing and wants to know why it isn’t working. He paints the HTML string in his e-mail notification and hits “Control C.” So far, so good. But here is the problem. He puts his mouse in the browser and hits “Enter.” It doesn’t work. He gets frustrated and starts yelling at me. I try to tell him that he has to position the cursor at the beginning of the blank area in the browser and hit “Control V.” But, he won’t let me get that far. He cuts me off. He says “Wait!” “Hush!” I say “Bill, I’m trying to tell you how to do it.” He says “Shut up! That’s why I don’t like to ask you because you always do this!” I said “What am I doing? I’m trying to explain to you.” But, he cuts me off again in the middle of my statement.



This goes on for several minutes, escalating into yet another shouting match. He turns off his computer, and goes rushing out the house slamming doors on his way, yelling “Leave me alone!” Now he won’t speak to me for at least a day or more. The length of the silent treatment depends on how mad he is. The length of time could be as little as two days to two weeks.  It ends when I make the first move.  Yes, I have to apologize.  That's the only way we will resume our relationship.  Bill never admits a mistake.  He has the George Bush syndrome. 



I’ve known Bill for 45 years. I have lived with Bill for 45 years. This is his pattern. When we met I was 22 years old and he was 35 years old. He was the “daddy.” He had all of the answers (or at least thought he did.) Early on in our relationship I almost always deferred to him. But as I grew older and gained more knowledge, especially in fields that Bill had little or no knowledge I didn’t defer to him. When we entered into those areas in our relationship, Bill would mock them as unimportant and “not worth anything.” Even as I built a successful banking career (in back office operations) Bill would denigrate my work as “silly office work.”



Now granted Bill has many talents. He built our sunroom in PA from scratch. I wouldn’t even know where to start. He is an electrician. He is a plumber. He built our brick wall and patio in PA. In short, Bill can do a whole lot of things that I can’t do. I am not mechanically inclined at all, Bill is. My “talents” are in other areas. I can cook. Bill can’t. I’m an excellent gardener. Bill is not. I can write. Bill can not. I’m a photographer. Bill is not. In short, we compliment one another in our skills and interests. I've always felt that was a big plus in our relationship.  However, it does not come without costs.



But here is the problem, with the new technology Bill finds himself having to ask me for directions. He hates to ask me for any kind of knowledge that he doesn’t have. After 45 years of denigrating my skills and knowledge, he finds it very difficult even to admit that he isn’t the expert in some areas.



For many years he even used to mock me for my use of a computer saying “I don’t know why you waste your time with a computer.” He said I wasn’t spending enough time with him (his usual complaint in our relationship.) I moved my computer from my home office to the kitchen so I could spend more time with him. That wasn’t good enough. The computer was banned back to the basement.



It wasn’t until a few years ago he discovered that the computer could be of use to him. Gradually, over the past few years I have taught him how to use the computer. He can open his e-mail and send e-mails. He does it in a rather convoluted way but it gets done. He also can scan the Internet. All this knowledge didn’t come without a lot of angst and frustration though. Teaching Bill to do anything requires a great deal of patience because of his sensitive ego and having the “kid” (the “kid” turned 68 years old last week) teaches him. One thing he has never mastered though is the cut and past command of Windows. He’s never had his Helen Keller Moment (“The Miracle Worker” scene with the water pump and bucket.)




So back to real time now. Bill just took off in his Jeep for who knows where. He’s mad. He’s frustrated. He knows that I’m trying to help him but his ego prevents him from accepting my help unless I somehow figure out to get that information to him so he thinks he figured it out himself. He wants the information but is incapable of hearing it from me, The Dummy.



He’ll get over it. He always does. But in the meantime I will have to endure yet another period of the Silent Treatment. This is where the “working on the relationship” comes into play.



Recently I had an e-mail from a friend of mine. She was depressed because of her living situation with her husband (her 5th.) She said she wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. That, to me is going to the extreme. I had another good friend of mine who committed suicide because she was going through a period of depression and felt there was no way out. A permanent solution to a temporary problem. I suggested to my friend that if she felt her husband really loved her then she should try to work it out. She should try to get through the bad period of their differences. I've had 45 years of experience in this area of relationships.  I find that if you really care for one another you can get past these temporary situations, even if they keep repeating themselves time and time again.



No relationship is perfect (except for perhaps the Ronald and Nancy Reagan relationship.) If your wife, husband or partner is worth it (and mine is), then just plow through the situation. Try to make it better the next time.



I care a lot for Bill. He needs me. I need him. I will never find another soul mate like him in my lifetime. When something like this happens (and it always will), I just think of how lucky I am not to have a partner like another friend of mine who I visited earlier this week. His partner has 160 personalities. He said “And that’s just the ones that I know about!” Can you imagine? Now that is something that would drive me over the cliff. No thanks. I’ll take Bill anytime, stubborn, super sensitive ego and all.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Joy

I'm not a poetry type guy, as my good friend Nitewrite can attest.  But I happen to come across this bit of poetry this morning and it seemed to express just how I feel most days:

Joy is everywhere;
it is in the earth's
green covering of grass:


in the blue
serenity of the sky:


in the reckless exuberance of spring:


in the severe abstinence of grey winter:


in the living flesh
that animates our bodily frame:


in the perfect poise
of the human figure,
noble and upright:


in living, in the exercise
of all our powers:



in the acquisition of knowledge




...Joy is there everywhere



Rabindranath Tagore

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hurricane Ida Aftermath

This is Day Two of the remains of hurricane Ida hit on the Delmarva Peninsula where I live.




The wind and rain is whipping around outside. My house is creaking and groaning under the assault. This is getting so old.




Yesterday I drove into work down Route 1, my little red ten year old Subaru barely keeping its four wheel drive on the road as it was buffeted by wind gusts up to 50 MPH.





I drove down New Road, hoping that it is not flooded by the canal that intersects it half way down to Lewes. The water was up to the road but not flooded yet......that would happen later when I got off work at 11 pm. Then I had the experience of slowly hydroplaning through the canal water that now covered New Road.



No one was in the hotel. I felt like I was in Hotel Overlook as the wind and rain battered the hotel. Thank God the hotel didn't lose power.



My shift went fairly fast, considering it was an empty hotel. A few phones calls, moped the floors, checked the reservations for the weekend and pretty soon my shift was ended.



This morning I decided to brave the rain and wind and took my old dependable red Subaru Forester to get the oil changed. I was going to go on a sunny day but decided today instead because there probably wouldn't be a wait. I was right, there was not a wait. I was their only customer.



After a stop in Wal-Mart for milk and to pick up photo prints, I headed home on the almost empty Rt. 1. That's one benefit of awful weather, not much traffic.




Bill and I took a ride down Oyster Rocks Road. We didn't get far, it was flooded. We went back home we saw a blown over Porta-John. Now there’s a job I wouldn’t want to fix.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thoughts on a Rainy Thursday

As the rain and wind swirl around outside the six foot long windows of my home office, I am reminded again of how fortunate I am to live in my warm and cozy home here two miles from the Delaware Bay.


Yesterday my friends Bob and Jim stopped over in the wind and rain to drop off two of Jim's old computers. Jim wants Bill to destroy the hard drive on his computers before he recycles them into the Computer Graveyard up in the sky. They both stayed awhile for a visit in the sun room while the rain and wind continued its incessant attack on the house.  We discussed some of the weighty issues of the day and then they were on their way to rescue their friend Bart's washing machine.  A Mission of Mercy.





My friend The Cajun had invited me out for my birthday dinner at MIXX in Rehoboth Beach last night. I called him and asked for a rain check. I don't like to travel at night and I especially don't like to travel at night on a rain slicked highway reflecting headlights of oncoming traffic. I might as well be traveling blindfolded.

This afternoon I return to work for the first time since my conversation with my manager and the owner of the hotel where I work part-time. My job was posted in the local newspaper. I requested a meeting to ascertain the status of my job. I was assured that I wasn't being replaced but that all options were open. I called the hotel yesterday to confirm the time and was surprised to find a new front desk clerk answered the phone. I guess its audition time. Nothing surprises me now.

While I was typing the above, on the TV behind me there was a short clip of that woman whose face was ripped off by the crazed pet chimpanzee. She is appearing on Oprah today. This is a reminder to me that no matter what problems that I have they pale in comparison to other's problems. I am again reminded of that old quote:

"I had no shoes and I complained until I met a man who had no feet."

No complaints from this quarter on this day of wind and rain.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Carrot Cake

“You haven’t made carrot cake in quite a while. The Cracker Barrel doesn’t serve it any more. I miss it.” by friend and neighbor Barbara says as we celebrated my birthday lunch at the Summerhouse in Rehoboth Beach on Monday.


“You’re right, I haven’t. I think I it is time to make one.” I replied to Barbara.

Yesterday I did my shopping to make sure I had all the ingredients for make the Cracker Barrel version of carrot cake, the best carrot cake I’ve ever eaten. I even shopped at Barbara’s favorite store, Safeway (instead of Food Lion where I usually shop. Barb hates that store.)


Last night, armed with all my ingredients and my TV turned on to my MSNBC rooster of early evening lefty political discussion TV shows ("Hardball" with Chris Matthews, "The Ed Show", "Countdown" with Keith Olberman" and "The Rachel Maddow Show"), I prepared and baked the Cracker Barrel carrot cake.






A look at the ingredients and you can see why this is such a scrumptious recipe. The cake recipe contains lots of sugar and oil (for moistness) and a panoply of spices in addition to the shredded carrots, raisins, walnuts, pecans, and crushed pineapple. The perfect topping is the cream cheese icing which consists of cream cheese, butter, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. This is not a low calorie confection. Try it once and you will come back for more. Delicious!









After removing a sample of the completed carrot cake this morning (I had to make sure I didn’t miss anything in the long list of ingredients and it passed the Ron Taste Test), I delivered the cake to my neighbor Barbara. Now I don’t have a carrot cake in the house. Well……on this rainy Wednesday morning, I’m not about to go out shopping. I think I’ll stay in and MAKE ANOTHER ONE! Yum, yum.

Below is the recipe. I give all credit to Cracker Barrel it is their recipe. I only copied it. I’m good at copying. I’m also good at baking cakes. Enjoy!

Cracker Barrel Carrot Cake



Ingredients:


3/4 cup finely chopped English walnuts


2 cups finely shredded carrots


1 (8 oz. with juice) can crushed pineapple


1/2 cup coconut


1/2 cup raisins that have been soaked in water until plump and drained


1 1/4 cup vegetable oil


1 1/2 cup sugar


1/2 cup brown sugar


3 eggs


3 cups flour


2 teaspoons baking powder


2 teaspoons baking soda


2 teaspoons vanilla


2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


1 teaspoon ground nutmeg


1/2 teaspoon ground cloves


1/2 teaspoon salt


***Cream Cheese Frosting:***


8 ozs. cream cheese,softened at room temperature


8 tablespoons butter, softened at room temperature


1 teaspoon vanilla


2 cups powdered sugar


1/2 cup chopped pecans for garnish



Directions:


Mix together dry ingredients and set aside. In large bowl mix with beater oil, sugars, vanilla and eggs until smooth and fluffy. Add pineapple, walnuts, coconut, carrots and raisins and blend well. Gradually add dry ingredients half at a time until blended through. Pour batter into a greased and floured 9"x13"" pan and bake at 350 F for about 40-50 minutes (do the toothpick test). When cool, frost with cream cheese frosting.



Cream Cheese Frosting:



Blend cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add vanilla and a little powdered sugar at a time until frosting is light and fluffy. Spread over cooled cake and sprinkle with pecans.


This recipe from for Cracker Barrel Carrot Cake serves/makes 10



Monday, November 09, 2009

Birthday Lunch

"Could I take you for lunch today on your birthday?" asked my friend and neighbor Barbara.

"Yes" I quickly replied since I hadn't eaten lunch yet and my stomach was growling.

"Have you ever been to the Summer House in Rehoboth?" she asked.

"No.  Do they serve anything other than fish?" I asked, being one of the few residents of Lower Slower who doesn't like seafood.

"Oh yes, they serve many things.  Jane and I ate there last week and we had a very good meal." Barbara replied.

Well, that was enough to convince me.  I agreed and Barbara returned to her house next door to mine to get ready while I changed into something more appropriate for appearing in public on my birthday instead of my usual jeans and khaki shirt.


About 15 minutes later I make the short trip from my garage to her garage and off we went in Barbara's Cadillac to Rehoboth on this warm and sunny November day.

We found a parking slot about a half a block down from the entrance of the Summer House.  I never ate at the Summer House before but I know that during the summer tourist season it is always packed.  I always like to try new restaurants, looking for that special restaurant which combines good food with comfortable seating and ambiance along with good service and a reasonable price.  The Summer House met all five objectives.  My dining experience was completed by having lunch with someone whom I like and is good company, my friend and neighbor Barbara.



We checked out the Business Lunch Menu priced at $12.00. Barbara said she got the Marinated Sliced Sirlon Steak last week with the "Stuffed" Potato Cakes.  She decided to order it again (medium rare.)  I also ordered it (well done) but instead of the Ceasar Salad (as Barbara ordered), I got the homemade tomato soup. 

We both ordered iced teas while our order was being prepared.  My first sip of iced tea told me "This is real iced tea."  Something one doesn't get too often in restaurants these days.  That was a postive sign.

After about ten minutes of sipping our ice tea and conversation, our orders arrived.  The round  deep friend "Stuffed" Potato Cakes smelled heavenly.  On my plate was five thick slices of perfectly cooked sirlion steak dabbed with a Blue Cheese Herb sauce.  From my first bite into the tender beef I knew I was in for a delightful meal at the Summer House.  Even though I had ordered the steak well done, it wasn't overcooked and dried out as often is when ordering a steak well done.  In fact, this was the first steak I've eaten in about three years.  I'm a chicken and vegetable man (I know, I know; I should eat more fish but eating any kind of seafood reminds me of the floatsam on a beach after high tide rolls out.) 

Both Barbara and I ate all of our steak.  I wanted to eat all of my potato cakes but I knew my partner Bill would like them, so I saved four of them for him.  Barbara threw one of hers in the stryofoam box for Bill too.  We wish Bill would have gone to lunch with us but Bill doesn't like to dine out.



Barb paid the bill (a birthday treat for me) and we departed for home.  On the way we stopped in to visit our favorite local jeweler, The Cajun.  Both Barbara and I love out baubles.  The jewelry store where The Cajun works has the finest quality jewelry in the Rehoboth Beach area with the best discounts.  I have my eye on a particularly beautiful blue diamond ring (like I need another diamond ring.)  Barbara loves emeralds (and they look so good on her too.)  But, today we were "just looking."  We had a pleasant visit and then we were on our way back home, stuffed with our lunch.


We noticed a chill had returned to the air.  The sun had retreated back behind the clouds in preparation for tomorrow's forecast of clouds and possible showers.  No matter, I had an absolutely wonderful birthday spent with friends.  I didn't have a birthday cake today but finding a wonderful new restaurant was icing on the cake.  Who needs a birthday cake when they can have a day like this with friends?  I am a happy (old) man.  Thanks Barbara!

Happy Birthday

Sixty eight years ago, at 9:30 am on a Sunday morning, at the Chester County Hospital, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, Ronald Walter Tipton made his entrance into this world. That would be me.



I was the first born child and son of Isaac Walter Tipton and Betty Louise Hadfield.  Two other sons would be born later.  I am the crown prince of my family.





I have to say, the past sixty eight years have been a real experience. I don't know how much longer I have to go but I am thankful that I have gotten this far in life with all of my limbs intact, my brain still functions fairly well (not as good as it did when I was in my 20's) and the rest of my bodily functions still work.




One of the few signs of old age is a constant ache in my back and a stiffness of my joints. Today is a good example that my body isn't as spry as it was when I was a young whipper snapper of 50 or so. I spent the best part of the day bending over and on my knees planting 120 tulip bulbs in the front of my house. After I was done I could hardly move. I took my daily walk but was concerned that I might not be able to finish it. When I got home I took a nap that was more like slipping into unconsciousness.



There can now be no doubt about it. I am officially an Old Man.





My looks haven’t changed a whole lot (I would like to think.) I still weigh the same as I did when I graduated from high school 50 years ago (160 lbs.) I still have most of my hair although my hairline has receded significantly. My hair color is still a dark brown although I do now have a dignified smattering of gray on the sides and a few gray strands on the top that just appeared this year. I was fortunate that I’ve inherited a good deal of my father’s genes. He died at 80 years of age without one gray hair on his head.



So how do I feel about this go round in Life? I feel pretty good. Of course I’ve had my trying moments. I almost lost my life due to an undiagnosed staph infection when I was 17 years old. I’ve been in several car accidents but escaped injury. I was almost strangled once during an argument that got out of hand (no, it wasn’t with my present partner of 45 years.)



I grew up poor. During the 70’s and early 80’s, during the peak of my earning power I experienced a somewhat flushed lifestyle. However, that didn’t last too long and I’m now poor again due to losing my longtime job at the bank and the current housing market. However, I have managed to survive and stay afloat with a reasonably comfortable life if I am careful with my limited income received from Social Security and a few bank pensions.



I am fortunate in that I have a part-time job that engages my mind and helps me to keep up with the ever increasing cost of living that my fixed income doesn’t. I am also fortunate in that I like the kind of work that I’m doing and the people I work with. Of course, as with anything in life, there are challenges with this job too. Our sour economy bypasses few and I’m not one of the few bypassed. But I have no complaints. Life has been good to me.



I hope the next time around (I do believe in reincarnation) that I am as fortunate as I have been on this turn.



Happy birthday to me.



Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Meeting

This afternoon I had a meeting with the owner of the hotel where I work. The hotel manager also sat in the meeting.



It was a very frank meeting. "Frank" means that we said what was exactly on our minds. I asked why an ad was placed in the local newspaper for my job without telling me. I was told that the ad wasn't for my job but applied to the whole hotel staff. I said "That isn't the way the ad reads." But I was told again that it applied to the whole hotel staff. The ad was placed to "get our attention." Mission accomplished. It got our attention. This was the proverbial two by four between the eyes to get the mule's attention.



The owner expressed his concerns in a frank and forceful manner. He was concerned that in today's economy, the hotel staff appears to be too lackadaisical in their attitude towards their job. He also expressed concern about my lack of confidence in performing my front desk duties when he is around.



I told him that I'm nervous when he is around and will holler at me if I make a mistake. He has done this before and I didn't want a repeat performance. His concern is that the hotel doesn't project the best image in today's competitive environment where quality of service is the difference in getting bookings or not getting bookings. I agreed with him and assured him that I would address this problem I have being nervous when he is around. I told him I wouldn't pay any attention to him but "do my thing" and if he has a problem with what I did, and then tell me about it later in private without the histrionics. I warned him that if he did holler at me I would call him down on it immediately.



I understand his concern. I have the same goals he does, increasing business for the hotel. My goal is to provide the best service money can buy for all the guests of the hotel.



I told him that I am not a replica of him and thus would not be providing the same wording and manner in dealing with the guests that he would but that I am competent and quite capable of doing my job if left alone without someone watching over my shoulder.



At the end of the almost hour long meeting, we shook hands and parted company with what I felt was a more understanding and respectful manner. However, I still do not agree with the method of placing an ad in the paper to get our attention. I told him that it was personally humiliating for me. I was reassured again that the ad was not to replace my job personally but that all options are open. Fair enough.



I go to work again next Saturday and Sunday. Watch out, a new and more confident Ron is on the barricades.

This Stinks

“You should talk to him.”




“We don’t want to see you leave.”



“You don’t speak up for yourself.”



These were all comments made to me this morning by my partner, a good friend and a co-worker, not necessarily in that order.



Of course they are all right. Since I found out my job was posted in the local newspaper without any explanation to me, I’ve had mixed emotions.



First I was hurt. Sure, I’m a big boy and have been around the block (more than a few times actually) but rejection still hurts.



Secondly, I was angry. I’m the one worker who is always available to fill in on short notice. Even on Thursday, when I got the news that my job was going to be posted in the local newspaper, I was called into work at 12:30 instead of my usual 3 pm. The shift I worked Thursday was 12:30 pm to 11 pm. That is a long day by anyone’s standards.



Conflicting thoughts have been running through my mind since I learned of this disheartening news. Should I quit? Should I swallow my pride and keep going in until they find someone better then they fire me? What to do?




My first impulse was to ignore the news as if nothing happened and continue going into work and doing my best, which is what I always do. I am competent. In fact, I am very good. Not for nothing did I win the Best Guest Service Award (1999) when I worked at the Hampton Inn in Exton, PA. That is a national award that no one at that particular Hampton Inn ever won before or has won since. I am good at what I do. I enjoy meeting hotel guests and providing them with the very best service. Thus, my first impulse was to continue going to work and hoping this uneasiness in my stomach would go away.



But it didn't go away. This morning on the way to our weekly breakfast at Zorba’s in Rehoboth Beach my partner Bill told me “You should call him and find out what is going on. Just ask him. He owes you an explanation.”



My cell phone had a message on it from a good friend. I retrieved the message and in essence what my good friend said was “That’s bullshit. You don't deserve to be treated that way.” And of course he’s right.



I called the hotel and asked to speak to the manager. My co-worker at the front desk answered the phone. She wanted to know why I was asking for the manager. I told her “Because I want to know why my job was posted to the newspaper without anyone talking to me.” She said “You should talk to ___ (the owner’s name.) That’s the only way you’re going to get anywhere. You have to talk to him and tell him how you feel. You don’t stick up for yourself Ron. That’s the problem.” And, of course she’s right too.



Now granted, I may not be the best candidate for the part-time front desk job. Since I only work part-time (used to be two days a week now it’s one day a week), I’m not always up to date on the latest changes. Thus, sometimes I’m unsure of myself when questioned about a new package the hotel is offering. I’m not up to date on the latest rules on how much we can offer in discounts in this down economy with low hotel occupancy rates. Maybe I show this uncertainty when the owner is hovering nearby. In fact, I probably do show that uncertainty. That is the situation that a part-time worker encounters. If I was there every day I would be more up on the current promotions and know how to act with confidence accordingly.


I get home and I have a message from another good friend whose opinion I respect very much. He asked me “I don’t see how you can go into work when someone treats you like that.” And, of course he is also right.



Thus, I made my decision. I called the owner and asked to meet with him today to discuss my job. I want to know why he posted my job without talking to me first. If he is dissatisfied with my performance, then he has every right to replace me. He can fire me. That is his right which I do not contest.  However, if there is a misunderstanding, then I want to know what it is. But what he doesn’t have a right to do is humiliate me by posting my job without telling me why. That’s not professional. In fact, it stinks. I deserve some measure of respect.



He said he was busy (Pumpkin Chunkin) this morning and had a memorial service to attend to this afternoon at 1 pm. It is now 1:25 pm. I await his call.  I am nervous but I also feel a sense of relief that I am doing something about this uncomfortable situation instead of letting it stew.  I'm sticking up for myself.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Job Posting



Last night at work I was informed my my manager that my job will be posted in today's local paper. 

My birthday is next Monday, November 9th.

Happy birthday Ron.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Mom's Old Dresses

Bill and I took off early this morning for Pennsylvania to visit my brother Isaac. My Mom was staying with him up until October 17th, 2009. At that time my other brother John and his wife came up from their home in a rented van and took our Mom back to live with them in Greenville, South Carolina.


My brother John is the care pastor in his church. Now that Mom is living with him she’s going to church. She needed a dress. She didn’t take any dresses with her. My sister-in-law Barbara took her out shopping for a dress. My Mother was in sticker shock at the prices of dresses, even at a discount store like Marshall’s. She swallowed hard and bought one but she clearly needed more. 


I called my brother Isaac to send some of Mom’s dresses down to her in South Carolina. Isaac didn’t know where to begin. I think Mom has every dress she has ever owned, in all the sizes. For many years she wore a size 16. We couldn’t send those dresses down to her; she would be swimming in them.



Thus, it was time for an emergency intervention by Number 1 Son (that would be me.) Bill asked to go along for the ride to PA. He wanted to see the old property were we used to live. That property is now in default (the owner has fallen behind in payments.) Unfortunately, our formerly beautiful wooded paradise now looks like Grey Gardens.







Even though we left early this morning we ran into a number of delays on the way to Pennsylvania. Traffic was stalled to a crawl over the C & O Canal Bridge on the southern side of Newark, Delaware. Then once we would our way through the center of Newark, we got stuck behind a car averaging 25 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. This is the downside of avoiding traveling I-95 and traveling Route 896 instead. Route 896 is only has two lane driving, north south. So my choice is traveling on an 6 to 8 lane highway (I-95) at 75 MPH or more, with vehicle passing me on both sides or the back country, scenic drive up Rt. 896, and take a chance I get caught behind a tractor or an Old Man Taking a County Drive like I did today. I choose the country, scenic route and take my changes.



We arrive at the Old Props (our former home) about three hours later. After walking around the leaf and branch strewn grounds and taking many pictures, we leave dejected wondering why we put ourselves through this torture. I would buy this property back tomorrow if I had the money. Tonight is another Powerball drawing. One can always hope.




After leaving the Old Props, Bill and I drove over to Mom’s home, where my brother Isaac lives. I told Ike I was there to look for some dresses to send to Mom. Thus we began to sort through all her accumulation of clothes over the years. Ike was right when he said he hadn’t even gotten through the “first layer.” What a task. All I could find at first were her “tops” and many, many pants. No dresses.



Then I checked the spare bedroom which she was using to store her excess canned goods (she gets them on sale and stocks them in the spare bedroom on shelves.) There, in the cedar lined armoire were her dresses! I sort through them, discarding most of them because they are too big (size 16.)



Then I found them! There were three two and three piece outfits which appear to be a smaller size, which will fit her now. I handed them to Ike to box and send them to her. Then I checked her jewelry box. Viola! I found her crystal necklace! It’s her favorite. Sure, it’s an inexpensive necklace but it is her favorite. I think it is so because it reminds her of Reverend Pennlington’s wife, who always wore a crystal necklace. I remembered how much my Mother admired that necklace so I bought her one many years ago. I handed it to Ike to put in with her dresses to be mailed to her. I also gave Ike two sparkly pins that I bought at Strawbridge’s one Christmas. They will be the perfect accessory for her new gray suit. I also gave Ike a Christmas pin to put in the Dress Care Package.




I asked Bill to take a couple of pictures of me with Ike and then we were off, back to Delaware. But not before stopping at Wegmans for a quick lunch. Oh how I miss having a Wegmans in Delaware. I don’t miss the screaming kids in the store but I miss the choice, variety, and vitality of a supermarket like Wegmans. My choices in Delaware are Food Lion, Giant, or Safeway. There is no comparison.



Bill and I had an easy trip back to Delaware. Without delays, the trip is 2 ½ hours. Even so, we’re both very stiff when we get out of my red Subaru Forester in our driveway. This trip takes a lot out of us but it is well worth it.



We had a good visit with my brother. We found Mom’s dresses plus some of her jewelry to make her feel good when she goes out. And, as sad as it makes us feel, we had a good nostalgic trip back to our former home. Bill misses it so. I miss it also but I am very happy with where I live now. All is not lost with our old property though. As we got out of my car after we drove up the leaf covered lane, a small herd of deer rustled the leaves as they rose to their feet to see who was invading their sanctuary. Well, at least some good has come of the sad overgrown state of our former property