Monday, April 26, 2010

Going Home

The Road Home
I am bone tired. 

This morning I finished cleaning out my Mother's back bedroom.  This was the bedroom she used for storage.  I cleaned it out once before about five years ago.  I didn't think I would be cleaning it out again but since my Mother is not returning to her long time home from where she lives now with my brother John in South Carolina, my brothers and I thought it best to start cleaning out her house.

John and Isaac cleaned out her bedroom and our Pop's bedroom last week.  They started to cleanout the Back Bedroom (as my Mother always called it), but once John pryed the door open, he just didn't want to tackle that hoarder's dream room.

Mom's Home - don't be deceived by the neatness of the outside, inside is another story

Since Friday I've been cleaning out that room.  This morning I pushed myself to the limit to get the room done before my Isaac returns from visiting Mom in South Carolina.  He and his son (who is driving) should be here about 4 this afternoon.  It is an 11 hour drive from Greenville, South Carolina to Downingtown, PA.  Isaac and Ikey (my brother is a Jr. and his son is a III) left Greenville in the early morning hours.  I called him on my cell phone about 10 o'clock.  He and Ikey were in North Carolina.  I know he's anxious to get home.  I'm anxious to get to my home in Delaware.  Bill tells me his misses me (sure, I bet.)  No, he said he really does.

After taking another large black trash bag out the garage, I got in my Subaru and drove down to the post office.  I found a box throw blanket that my Mother never used so I thought I would mail it to her.  I put in some of her initialed stationery too because she has said she can't get out to buy any note paper to send people notes. 

My next stop after the post office was to Wegmans.  I had to stock up on their delicious whole wheat pita bread.  This is the kind of exclusive grocery sore products I don't see in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I stuff that pita bread with my homemade chicken salad and I have the best lunch money can buy.   I also picked up some items for my upcoming family reunion on May 16th.  I'll leave those items here since I'm coming back in a few weeks.

Now it is time for my first nap since I've got here last Wednesday.  I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror this morning and I do not look pretty due to my lack of sleep.  I have one of those faces that when I'm tired, it shows.  In fact I look terrible when I am tired.

By the time I awaken around 4 this afternoon, Ike should be back.  Maybe we will go to Hosses' for dinner (I haven't had a good chargrilled hamburger and fries for weeks!) and discuss his trip.  He told me on the phone this morning that Mom tried to come back with him and Ikey.  We can't let her do that, she's too weak.  She would never survive the trip.  It's a shame she can't go back to her longtime home but she is being taken care of very well where she is not.  My brother John is the care pastor of his church so taking care of an elderly person, in this case his mother, is something for which he has almost thirty years of experience.

Time for my nap now.  When I get home I will have loads of pictures to share.  For now I'm showing my Mom's house and the road home for me tomorrow.  I can go either way out of my Mother's driveway.  Right of left, they both take me home. Then I tackle the real job, my hoard.
This road gets me home too

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Cleaning Out Mom's Bedroom

One of the reasons I left for my Mom's home in Pennsylvania last Thursday was to house sit for my brother Isaac while he and his son (Isaac, III) visited our Mom in Greenville, SC.  She's staying with my youngest brother John and his wife Barbara.  The other reason was to help clean her house of the accumulated clutter of 52 years.  My Mom is a hoarder.

We three brothers convinced her to spend the winter at John's home in the South because we didn't think she would make it through another winter.  In retrospect, we made a very wise decision. 

We promised her that she could return to her home of 52 years come this spring, if only for a visit.  Unfortunately, she is too weak to make the trip to Pennsylvania.  So we decided to clean her house out now since it is very unlikely she will return to her home. 

Brother John was up earlier in the month.  He and Isaac cleaned out her bedroom and Pop's bedroom.  They boxed up a lot of her things and marked the boxes as to the disposition when the inevitable happens.

John took one look at the "back bedroom" (as my Mother called it) and closed the door.  He just wasn't gong to tackle that room.  This is the same room that John and Isaac shared when they were going to school.  Now you can hardly get the door open because there is so much clutter.

I would provide a picture but I'm at my Mom's computer and it doesn't have the software for me to download the pictures.  However, I did take some video with my Flip video camera which I am able to take snapshots of individual frames.  Those are the pictures in this blog.

John told me he left that room for me.  Thank you brother John!

I started to clean that room out Thursday.  I hardly made a dent.  I still couldn't see the floor.

Yesterday I was determined to see the color of the carpet in that room.  After a big push, I cleared out enough to see that it is green.  I was exhausted last night.  I slept like I was dead.

I rose from the dead early this morning thinking about cleaning out that room.  I generally sleep well so you know it's a problem if I'm lying in bed thinking about cleaning out "the back room."

I attacked that room with all my strength today.  I finally made signification headway.  So much so that I could see most of the rug.

 I loaded up the back of my Subaru with several boxes of donations for the Goodwill store in Morgantown, PA.  It was late this Saturday afternoon and I was afraid they would be closed by the time I got there. 

When I rolled into their parking lot I saw that they were not closed and in fact an employee was rolling out two empty donation bins.  What a welcome sight.

I quickly unloaded the back of my car and loaded Mom's "stuff", including the last afghan she was working on (unfinished) into the donation bin.  The Goodwill employee asked me if I wanted a receipt.  I did not. 

A heaving burden has been lifted from my shoulders.  There is still much work to do. 

We've boxed up all of Mom's clothes.  I sent her a large box down by mail this morning.  The woman at the Post Office asked me how I wanted the box delivered.  Overnight would cost $130.00.  $130.00?  Not likely.  She told me that three day delivery would cost $49.00.  Nup.  Not likely either.  I settled for Parcel Post which cost me $19.00.  Mom's fake fur coat is in there along with several of her favorite warm and snuggy nightgowns which I know she misses.  I threw in a couple of her small teddy bears to go along for the ride. 

Cleaning out Mom's bedroom today caused me to think this very obvious question:  who is going to clean out my bedroom when that time comes for me? 

An interesting thought because I have no children, Bill is thirteen years older than me and I assumed he will check out before I will.  I have one nephew and four nieces and several grand nephews and grand nieces.  I don't see any of them cleaning out my "stuff." 

But hey, I'm not going to worry about it now.  I have a family reunion to put on May 16th.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Back in PA

This morning I left my home in Delaware for Pennsylvania.

Me leaving the driveway of my home in Delaware

I'm going to Pennsylvania to stay at my family home in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  My brother Isaac lives there now.  He and his son Isaac, III are leaving early tomorrow for Greenville, South Carolina to visit our Mom who is staying with our other brother John.  I will be cat and house sitting.  I have previous experience in this field having cat sat and house sat for two lovely ladies in Rehoboth Beach a few years ago while they spent the coldest months of winter in Florida golfing.

I'm at my Mom's computer which doesn't have the software for my Canon digital pictures so I won't have the wide and varied range of photos in this blog posting.  The pictures I do show will be snapshots that I took from my Flip video camera.  The following picture is of me driving out of my development as I think I hear my partner Bill softly chuckling.  What was that all about?  Was he happy to finally be rid of me or was he laughing at the engine knock of my car?  I will have to talk to him about that when I return home. Videos don't lie.

This morning was bright and sunny when I left my coastal home in Delaware. 

Almost as soon as I crossed the state line into Pennsylvania the light showers began.  Undaunted I continued my homing pigeon instinct to my family home in East Brandywine Township, just outside of Downingtown.

Arriving shortly afternoon, I was greeted by my younger brother Isaac.  I will be cat sitting for his 16 year old former feral feline by the name of Molly.  This is the time when I would post a picture of Molly but as I said before, I cannot download my digital pictures to this computer so I will have to post a picture instead of my brother Isaac's smiling face.

Isaac W. Tipton, Jr.

I was hungry after my almost three hour drive so I suggested we go to lunch at my favorite eatery in the Downingtown area, the Brickside Grille in Lionville, PA.  Ike agreed.  That made me happy.

At this time I would post a picture of the Brickside Grille but since I'm at a handicap using Mom's computer, a picture of my happy face will have to do instead.  As you regular readers know by now, I don't mind posting pictures of myself.  This is what is called a "personal" blog.  No humility here.  All indulgence.

Ike and I had an enjoyable lunch at the Brickside.  I had my Chicken Quesadillos.  The Brickside is the only place I can get this version of the Mexican dish. 

Next on the agenda was a visit to my absolute favorite super market.....WEGMANS!  Again, I have a picture of Wegmans but I can't post it Mom's computer, et al.  No, I won't post another picture of myself.  By the way, the pictures posted here are still shots captured from my Flip video camera.  I can load video taken with my Flip video directly into my Mom's computer without using a CD-ROM.  Very cool. 

These evening I went out to dinner with friends Carole and Sheila.  Again, pictures were taken but I can't show them here.  We participated in Trivia night later on in the evening.  We didn't do too bad.  We didn't win but we didn't come in last either.  I love playing trivia.  I can't play it in Rehoboth.  They only have Broadway show business trivia in the heavily gay populated Rehoboth/Lewes/Milton area of southern Delaware where I live.  My trivia knowledge is more broad based.  I know very little nor and I interested in Broadway show tunes trivia.  I must have been sick that day the love of Broadway musical genes were were handed out in line to gays.  I have most of the other qualifications for being gay but I missed that one.

It is late now.  My eye lids are drooping.  Isaac and his son are leaving early tomorrow (4 am) morning.  Then it will just be me and Molly here for the next five days.  Molly is curled up over on the padded seat of my Mom's rocking chair.  It is time for me to call it a day. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

A Day at the VA

The Wilmington Veterans Administration Center

Yesterday morning my alarm went off at 4:30 am.  I had an 8:30 dermatology appointment at the Wilmington VAMC (Veterans' Administration Medical Center.)

I have to get up so early in order to get ready to catch the American Legion Post 28 van at 6 am that hauls us old vets all the way to Wilmington so we don't have to fight the early morning traffic ourselves.
The way I look early yesterday morning - not my usual perky self

The van picked me up at Rts. 1 and 5 by the liquor store.  In addition to Tim driver, there were four of us old grizzled vets that would be transported to the gleaming VA in Wilmington this morning.

Traffic was heavy as we rolled onto I-95 then Rt. 141 before we made the final turn on Kirkwood Highway and entered the VA at about 7:15 am.  Construction work was going on outside the entrance to the VA (the VA is building an extension to their emergency room facilities) so Tim took the van around the back of the VA and we entered through the basement past the coffee shop.

Since my appointment wasn't until 8:30, I thought it was a good time to take some random pictures of this medical facility which has taken such good care of me since 2001.
The main elevators at the Wilmington VAMC

All years I had this wonderful insurance at the banks were I've worked I never used their insurance once.  However, wouldn't you know it that once I lost my job at the bank I had some medical problems.  That's when I had no other choice than to take advantage of the promise made to me when I joined the Army way back in January of 1960.  The promise made to me if I joined active duty for three years was that I the Army would pay for my college education (which they did after I got out) and lifetime medical care "if I needed it."  Well, I needed it back in 2001.  Of course I was reluctant to use the VA because I heard all those horror stories about how badly they cared for the veterans who used their facilities.  Well, that may have been in the past but it has not been my experience.  Since I started using the VA, I have received the best medical care in my life.

After taking a few pictures around the VA premises, including on of the pictures of President Barack Obama and General Eric Shineski (the administrator of the VA), that were prominently hanging on the wall in the lobby (what a pleasure not to see the smirking face of our former president George W. Bush whose administration tried every trick in the book to minimize and eventually take away veterans benefits), I took the elevator to the sixth floor and awaited the team of dermatologists to arrive from Thomas Jefferson University of Philadelphia.  As I said, we receive the BEST medical care.
A welcome sight after having to look at George W. Bush's picture for the past eight years

Back in 1992 when I first discovered I had the precancerous condition known as keratosis, I was working at Fidelity Bank at Broad and Sansom Streets in Philadelphia.   The place where I went for my treatment was just a few blocks away from the bank......Thomas Jefferson University Hospital!  A Dr. Uy an his team of interns (he asked my permission if they could look on while he treated me) looked on, he determined that I had a bad case of keratosis which needed topical chemo therapy treatment.  He also told me that for the rest of my life I would have my skin checked by a dermatologist to prevent skin cancer.  This was my reward for all those years of baking on the beach.  The warnings are true!  Early exposure to the sun WILL result in skin problems later in life.  How ironic that I now live in a beach resort area but I never go to the beach because of my skin condition.

The dermatologist who saw me yesterday was Courtney.  She is the same dermatologist who saw me six months ago.  We're becoming friends.  She checked me out and only found a few small spots of keratosis which she quickly burned off (didn't hurt at all.)  She told me I looked good (something I already knew.)  She suggested that since I "looked so good", it probably wouldn't be necessary for me to make a return visit every six months, but instead return annually.  I agreed with her suggestion and made an appointment to return next year.
Courtney, my dermatologist at the VA

I left the dermatology department and returned to the first floor lobby area of the VA to meet up with our driver Tim and await the other veterans who came up in the van to return from their appointments.  We were lucky today because everyone was finished at 10:30 am and we were on our way back to LSD (Lower Slower Delaware.)

The waiting area in the lobby of the VAMC - this is what socialized medical care looks like

Ah yes, a good day.  But my day wasn't over.  Yesterday afternoon I had scheduled for my PC Guy to come over to the house and configure my three PC's.  More about that in a future blog posting.  This morning I have to get ready for my refinancing settlement scheduled for 2 this afternoon.
Tim, our van driver awaits me. This is what socialized medical care looks like. We vets care for one another.  

There always seems to be something going on around the Tipton/Kelly household.  As I postulated before in a previous blog posting.....what did I do before retirement?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

I'm Back..............with an iMac!

Monday my Dell computer crashed. 

Tuesday I spiraled into semi-deep depression.

Wednesday I began to climb out of my well of frustration, despair and anger.

Thursday I bought a new iMac computer. 

Friday I moved my Dell computer out of my office and setup my new iMac.

Today I am writing about this Week That Was.

I decided on Wednesday that I would leave the world of Mr. Softee (Bill Gates) and Windows operating systems.  I also decided that I would never buy another Dell computers.  Of the five computers I have owned in my lifetime, three of them were Dells.  Every one of them crashed.  My other two computers were a Tandy (the old Radio brand) and a Gateway computer.  I sold the Tandy and the Gateway computer I am still using. Doesn’t say much for the quality of Dell computers does it?

Thursday morning a Dell technician came by the house and installed a new hard drive on my crashed Dell.

Thursday afternoon Bill and I got in his Jeep for the 39 mile (one way) trip to Dover and Best Buy.  Not for nothing to they call Sussex County Lower Slower Delaware.  Nothing is close down here except for those poor miserable chickens in their wooden cages going to slaughter at the local processing plant.

At Best Buy (after a side trip to Sam’s Club) we were greeted by a slovenly,not too knowledgeable  salesman who was missing his bottom two front teeth (which I had a difficult time not to keep looking at that gap between his other yellow teeth – why is it that the sales clerks in reality never look like the ones in commercials?) 

I eyed up the iMacs and quickly decided that I wanted the 27-inch version.  A good friend of mine purchased an iMac a couple of years ago.  He told me he loves it but if he had to do it over again he would get a bigger screen.  I decided not to make the same mistake and I’m glad I didn’t.  I’m sitting in front of that big screen now and I like it. 

I made the purchase, got the three-year warranty (which I will always do after my experience with my Dell), and also purchased a standard keyboard.  The iMac comes with a wireless keyboard but it is too small for me.  It is the size of a laptop keyboard.  That doesn’t work for me because I type with all ten of my fingers.  Fortunately my Mother insisted I take typing in high school (back in the Fifties when boys didn’t take such “girlish” courses) and I’ve been typing ever since.  With the small laptop keyboard I can’t keep my normal fast typing speed. 

Yesterday afternoon and into the night I was glued to my iMac learning the new system.  I still don’t know how to set the mail up.  I’m not pleased with the built in speakers.  I need a sub-woofer for that deep bass boom-boom for my music.  I plan to buy the Bose speakers that area available for the iMac.  Then I should be set for life.

Now my next job is to try and recover the files that I had backed up daily on my Maxtor external hard drive.  I’ll have to load the Maxtor software into my refurbished Dell and go through the process of restoring those files.  I don’t think I can restore those files directly to my new iMac because it is a different operating system.  I’ll restore them to the Dell and then copy the files (mostly my digital pictures) and move them to my iMac.

I have my work cut out for me the next few weeks.  I hope my old brain can handle it.  

Monday, April 12, 2010

Computer Crashes

My computer crashed this afternoon. It crashed while my Computer Guy was working on installing my Palm Pilot software on my Dell computer with a Vista operating system.

I purchased a Dell Inspiron 518 computer in December of 2008. I quickly discovered that I could not transfer some of my software programs from my Gateway computer with Windows XP to the Vista operating system of my new Dell computer.

Several times throughout the past year and a half I have had my Computer Guy working on the problem. He thought the problem was finally solved and all I needed was a Bluetooth adaptor. That I got and that is why he stopped over today. But, as it turned out my Palm Pilot is apparently not equipped with Bluetooth. He said he thought it had an infra red system (whatever that is.)

He was trying different approaches to making the Palm software working on my Dell computer when we noticed the computer got hung up. We rebooted the computer. We got the Black Screen of Death and this message in white text:

“Notice – Hard Drive Self Monitoring System has reported that a parameter has exceeded it normal operating range. Dell recommends that you back up your data regularly (which I do with a Maxtor hard drive.) A parameter out of range may or may not indicate a potential hard drive problem."

Press F1 to continue, F2 to enter SETUP.

He didn’t know what this message meant and I certainly didn’t either. This was the first time I’ve seen this message.

After several more exercises in turning off the computer to get it to boot up again, we received the message every computer user dreads:


My Computer Guy tried to get the computer into a safe mode but even that wouldn’t work.

He suggested that I call Dell. Here we go. I knew I was in for a torturous afternoon of frustration and I wasn’t disappointed.

After going through all the menu options on the phone I finally get a life person. Her name is “Monica”. Uh huh. Sure. “Monica” had an Indian accent and sounded like she was talking from the bottom of a well. As I said before, here we go.

“Monica” directed me through a series of tests. I kept coming back to the same error message. After an hour and a half of tests “Monica” asked if she could put me on hold.

“Monica” comes back on the phone and tells me that since my warranty is still effective (thank God I got that warranty) that they will replace my hard drive. First she tells me that they will send me a whole new tower with all the software installed just the way it was when I purchased the computer a year and a half ago. Then she calls me back and tells me that they will only be sending me a hard drive replacement but they will send a technician to install it for me. That is a blessing because I’m not the technical type.

So here I am now on my 9 year old Gateway computer. Now here is what is interesting. I purchased this Gateway computer in February of 2001 after my brand new Dell computer failed. That’s right. I had just purchased a $2,500 Dell computer and I couldn’t turn it off. Every time I turned it off it came back on itself. I called Dell and I was told I had “too much on the start up function.”  Say what? It’s a brand new computer. I didn’t put anything on the startup.

I wrestled with Dell and their Help line for about a week with that computer. While I was trying to resolve that problem I purchased a “cheap” Gateway computer for $1,000. I began using that Gateway computer. That is the computer I’m on now. In fact I became so comfortable with that Gateway computer that I gave my Dell computer to a good friend and he had the drive reformatted and purchased operating system software from Staples.

In December of 2008 I thought I should get a new computer because I didn’t know how long my Gateway computer would last. It was already seven years old. Most computers only last about three years. My previous computer was also a Dell. I purchased that one back in 1994 for $4,000. That one only lasted three year before it crashed.

So the obvious question is “Why did I buy another Dell when I already had two that crashed?” The answer is: I’M STUPID. Or, I’m a GLUTTON FOR PUNISHMENT. I AM A CLOWN.

What is even more frustrating was the Dell computer that I purchased in 2001 had the Windows Me operating system. That’s right, I was fortunate enough to buy new Dell computers both with the worst Microsoft operating systems in the history of Microsoft. Yes, I purchased Dell computer with Windows Me and Vista. Man oh man, if I only knew.

So now I wait “three to five business days” for my replacement hard drive to be delivered to my front door. Now why is it that I have this queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach? Could it be that I have lost all faith in Dell? Long ago I lost faith in Microsoft.

I should have done what my friend of lo these many years did and bought an iMac. That’s what he did when his computer crashed with a virus that the Microsoft system was unable to stop. Yes, I should’ve listened to him.

Guess what my next computer is going to be? That’s right Virginia, an iMac.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bring it On

This morning the battle begins anew with the house sparrows.

Bill told me that the bluebirds were back trying to get into their house that they have built their nests in the past two years. I have three bluebird houses in my backyard. The bluebirds prefer the house that is next to my neighbor Tom’s white PVC fence.

The past two years the bluebirds were able to fend off the sparrows but not this year. I tapped off their house after I came back one day last week and found a dead swallow in the bluebird that the sparrow had killed. I knew the sparrow had killed it because after I returned from work and started to pull open the front of the bluebird house, the sparrow darted out. I looked in the bluebird house and there was the dead swallow, the top of its head bare and bloodied. The poor creature had been pecked to death.

The sparrows started to build their nest in another one of the bluebird houses. I am going to let them build their nest to keep them occupied. My hope was that they would forget about the bluebird house that is next to my neighbor’s fence. Again, I underestimated the determination of the sparrow. As soon as I took the tape off of the box this morning the sparrow was over there checking out the accommodation. And not only that, he was chasing the bluebird away from the other bluebird house that the bluebirds were now checking out.

I had no other choice but to tape up the prime bluebird box. I’m taking a chance in letting the bluebirds and the sparrows fight it out for the other box. I won’t be able to monitor their activity today because I’m going to work this afternoon. But I do have tomorrow off. Thus the battle continues between me and the sparrows. One this is certain. There will be no sparrow eggs hatched on my property this year just as there were none hatched last year.

The bluebirds were able to raise two batches of young bluebirds last year just as they had done the previous year. However, I’m not if they will be able to raise any young this year. The sparrows really seem determined. I think part of the problem is my neighbor on the other side of my property took down his purple martin house to keep the sparrows out. I think I’m getting his overflow.

The sparrows are fighting a losing battle with me. I estimated I threw out about 18 sparrow eggs with their nesting last year. This year I’m going to wring some sparrow necks. My message to the sparrows this year…bring it on.

Friday, April 09, 2010

My First Time

The year was 1963, springtime. The place was an after hours gay club in center city Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called the Pennrose Club.

I was in town for a Saturday night out of bar hopping with my friends Ron and Ed. We decided to go to the Pennrose Club for some dancing. This was back in the day when you actually danced with your partner, not gyrate.

I had recently moved from Pittsburgh where I experienced the thrill of dancing with another man for the first time in my life. That experience will be the subject of another posting. I had always liked to dance but it wasn’t until I slow danced with another man that I discovered why dancing was so popular and erotic. Oh is it ever.

My friends and I had just arrived at the club (whose name escapes me) and were watching the guys dancing on the small dance floor. I immediately noticed one slightly built, clean cut guy dancing. I’ve always been attracted to small framed, clean cut men. He was very handsome in his light gray suit. This was also back in the day when one dressed up to go out.

It wasn’t too long until he saw me watching him dance. Since I am by nature shy (at least I was back then) I turned around and started to talk to my friends. Then I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around and was greeted with a beautiful smile on this handsome man’s face. He said to me “Would you like to dance?” Would I like to dance? My knees went weak. I stumbled out something like “Yeah.”

He took my hand and we entered the crowded dance floor. He immediately took the lead. He pulled me in close to his body. Wow. Again I was reminded why dancing is so popular and how much I missed during my Senior Prom with my date Jeanette. She was a nice girl but this was a whole different other experience.
Senior Prom 1959

My leg kept bumping into something as he held me close to him. I’m thinking “Does he have a ruler in his pocket?” Actually, we both had “rulers” in our pocket. As the lights swirled over the dance floor, we continued to dance one dance after another. We were oblivious to all the other people on the dance floor. We were in our own world.

When it came time to leave, he asked if he could see me sometime. I told him that I lived in Coatesville and was in town with friends. I wanted to see him again but I was very nervous. Although I was gay (and still am), I had never engaged in intimate contact with another man. I thought being gay was just hugging and kissing. How little did I know.

I knew I was “different” since I was four years old. It wasn’t until I was in the Army that I discovered that I wasn’t the only gay guy (back then they called it homosexual) in the world. I grew up in the Fifties where homosexual was said in the same sentence as pervert. I knew I wasn’t a pervert, one of those guys who hung out in bathrooms. I didn’t know what I was but I did know that men sexually excited me. It was a very confusing time for me.

He told me he was 29 years old. It’s funny now, but at that time I thought he was an “older man” because of his age. I was 21 at that time and I thought he was really OLD at 29 years of age. Ah, the arrogance of youth indeed.
Me back "in the day"

Well, he did visit me that following weekend. Of course it wasn’t too long before he was trying to get me into bed. I resisted. He would visit me almost every Saturday morning. We would kiss and spend time together but that would be as far as our physical contact went. After all, I wasn’t one of those “perverts.”

My resistance finally fell after about a month. Without going into detail (this is a family blog after all), he “talked me into going to bed with him.” I thought sure as the sun rises in the morning a lightening bolt would come down from the ceiling and turn us both into stone like those poor souls who turned to look back at Sodom after they were warned not too and were turned into pillars of salt. But guess what happened? No lightening bolt came down from my bedroom ceiling. We didn’t turn into pillars of salt. In fact I had just experienced the most glorious feeling of my life up to that point. Even more amazing to me was that it all felt so natural. As I’ve often told the story since, the whole experience was just like riding a bike. It comes back to you naturally. That’s when I knew I was alright. I no longer had shame that I was a “pervert.” In fact, I felt an immense sense of freedom.

I continued to see him for another few months but I was a young guy and wanted to go out and experience everything. I also didn’t feel right being a “mistress.” You see the man who was my first lover was a married man with two children (daughters.) As much as I liked him I would never be more than a sexual partner. We could never have a relationship.

So one day I decided to end the relationship. I called him on the phone and told him not to visit me anymore. I told him I wanted to go out and meet other people. He said he understood. I never heard from him again. This was in May of 1963.

Last year while I was researching my family tree on and checking the Social Security Death Index, I checked his name to see if he was still alive. He wasn’t. The record read:

Robert Surina
7 Jul 1933 – 20 Jun 1990

Bob was 56 years old when he died. He died in Oregon, near his home state of Washington. When I met him he worked at Boeing Vertol in Chester, PA. The above newspaper clipping is the only picture I have of him. He was very proud of the award he presented to then Mayor James H. J. Tate of Philadelphia.

A pang of sadness hit me. I liked Bob. He was so very kind to me and oh he was sexy.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened if he was single. Would we have made a life together? What kind of life would it have been?

One thing is for sure, I will never forget that first night that I met him and that first dance. Dancing with him was like I was transported to heaven. I had never experienced such happiness before. All the buttons on my console were flashing.

Everybody has a First Time. Bob was my First Time. And it could not have been better.

I hope you had a happy life Bob.

Rest in peace my friend Bob. Perhaps we will meet again someday in a perfect place.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

What Did I Do Before I Retired?

My maternal great grandparents, Randall and Belle Hadfield sittting in their rocking chairs on their porch on Chestnut Street in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. My great grandmother has their granddaughter Sandra Hadfield (now Hart) in her lap. Sandy is my lst cousin, once removed and also my high school classmate (DHS Class of 1959). This picture was taken in the spring of 1942.  This is how they spent their retirement.

This is a question that I have asked myself many times. Friends of mine who have retired have asked the same question. “What did I do before I retired?”

I hardly have enough time in the day to get everything done I want to get done.

Take this week as an example. I am in the process of refinancing my loan in order to get a lower monthly mortgage payment. I would prefer not to have a mortgage but that is a subject for another blog posting. Actually, it is a very painful subject so I may not post it at all. But all this coordinating of the parties involved int he refinancing of my mortgage is taxing this 68 year old head like it hasn't been taxed in a few years.

Monday I worked at my part-time job at the hotel. In the afternoon, shortly before I was ready to go to work I popped a caramel in my mouth. Bad move. I pulled ANOTHER filling out! I can’t believe it! This is the second filling I’ve lost in within two weeks. Of course the missing teeth (actually the bridge came out) was in the front of my mouth. A nice touch when one works at the front desk of an upscale boutique hotel in downtown Lewes, DE. Thank goodness I already had a scheduled dental appointment for Tuesday morning. Luckily I was able to place the bridge back in my mouth but I couldn’t eat. Dinner that night was a cup of yogurt.  No more caramels.....ever. 

Tuesday morning I go to the dentist for my regularly scheduled appointment to get tarter scaled from my teeth. I inform him of my latest disaster. He checks the gaping hole in formerly dazzling smile and tells me that it’s time to get that whole bridge replaced. Uh huh. Now you know where I’m going with this. How much is this going to cost? You’re right, A LOT. What’s the old story? Two steps forward and one step back? Well, I’m taking TEN steps back with that one. So I bit the bullet and schedule to have a new bridge. That appointment is tomorrow morning. Tomorrow afternoon I work at the hotel again. Hopefully no more teeth will fall out.

After the dental appointment I stop at my local bank. As I mentioned earlier I’m in the process of getting my mortgage refinanced. I received a pant load of papers from the mortgage company over the week. I tried to read through all the legalese but it made my hair hurt. All I want to know is that my rate will stay the same for the length of the mortgage. No where in all those pages and pages of papers that I received from the mortgage company does it say that. I give the papers to the mortgage officer at the bank. She assures me that my rate is “locked in.” That’s all I want to know.

Today, after I arrived home from getting a haircut, I get the appraisal by e-mail that the home appraiser did last Friday (like I said, every day there is something going on in the Tipton household.) First of all, the appraisal is ONLY $130,000 lower than I paid for this house. I expected a lower appraisal what with the stinky housing market, but $130,000? Oh well, I still have enough equity in the home to quality for a mortgage. But there was a problem with the appraisal. It lists my address as 30213 instead of 30231. Oh joy. I have the wrong house listed on my appraisal. Also, the appraiser listed the wrong lot size. She listed .49 acres. I actually have .98 acres, double the size that she listed!

So, e-mails were in order for the appraiser, the mortgage officer at my local bank, and the mortgage company. Fun, fun, Fun.

In the midst of all the “office work”, I’m trying to get the outside going. In addition to discouraging my ever present Determined Sparrows from building their nests in my bluebird houses, I’m cleaning out flower beds, transplanting flowers, and trimming bushes. The trimming of my shrubbery is turning out to be a bigger job than usual because of our unusual brutal winter that did so much damage to our trees and shrubs which aren’t used to that kind of weather.

I did take some time out for myself today to take my daily walk in the development behind where I live. I don’t walk in my development because I know too many of my neighbors and they all have to talk to me and I can never get a good pace going. They don’t know me well enough yet in the development behind me to stop me and have a chat. However, I am on a Wave and “Hi!” basis with several of the homeowners in that development. They’ve seen me enough over the past three years to feel safe when I’m strolling through their neighborhood.

It sure was nice today to feel the warm breeze caress my face, listen to the birds go about their business, and smell the many fragrances of spring time as I walked through their development. That is one treat that I try to give myself everyday during the nice weather and sometimes in the not so nice weather… Daily Walk. My walk is not only good for my physical health (improves the circulation and keeps the weight down) but it clears my mind. And these days I need to flush out my head at least once a day.

When I first considered retirement I was warned more than once that I would be bored because I would have “nothing to do.” Folks…..I am here to tell you that I’ve never been busier in my life. I’ll also tell you that I’ve never been happier. Now if I can just get this refinancing of my mortgage behind me and get these teeth fixed, I can relax. Who am I kidding? I don't even own a rocking chair.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Three Stooges

Which stooge are you? Below is a penetrating social analysis by Ivan Stang, the brains behind the Church of the Sub-Genius.

There are three kinds of people in this world. I know you've heard that before. Everybody has their 'three types' of people, or their four types or five types. Many only list two types: those who divide people into two types, and those who don't. But there are three, and the models for these types come neither from psychology nor ancient religion. They come from Columbia Studios, and they are archetypal embodied in The Three Stooges.

 The Stooges unwittingly --of course -- left us a rich legacy of deft interpretations of the most primal human behavior patterns. Their short films, seen as a whole, form a tapestry in which the interactions of people as individuals, corporations and nations are distilled to a microcosm, a pure essence of existential folly.

 There is but a small percentage of Moes in any given population: perhaps 5%. There are even fewer Curlys. The vast bulk of humanity are Larrys.

(Though represented by male characters, the three types also apply to women.)


 Moe is the active personality, and if not always dominant, always striving to be. Moe is the one who spurs the others into action. He devises plans to better their lot, but when his plans fail the other two suffer the consequences. But is Moe any less the fool for that they follow his plans?

He is a natural manipulator, only partially because the others are waiting to be manipulated. He would want to manipulate them anyway, even if they weren't so willing.

But Larry is a born follower, a blank slate that only reacts (and slowly at that) to exterior stimuli. He never initiates action. He is Moe's absolute tool, the truest 'stooge.' When Moe's abuse finally does make him angry, he lashes out not at Moe, but at Curly. No matter how he suffers under Moe's yoke, he never really rebels. He argues, but gives up easily.


Were it not for the presence of his friends, Larry probably would live in peace -- a dull, flat, mechanical peace. Though clumsy, he is still the most employable of the three -- for the other two are incapable of following orders, although for different reasons. Most people are Larrys.

Larrys divide people into those who don't divide others into two types, and those who do. But they do so only because they grew up hearing it.


Curly is the only likeable one, a truly rare human model. He is the holy man, the Divine Fool. He is as creative and active as Moe, but it is a spontaneous and joyous kind of creativity, no good for the kind of plotting and scheming required by a Moe-dominated society. He is a free spirit, but correspondingly unable to function well in a world of Moes and Larrys. He, like Larry, is perpetually abused, but he intuitively understands what is happening to him and reacts far more angrily -- if equally ineffectually. He is everyone's favorite Stooge because he is the funniest; through his innate nobility and natural humility he constantly bests Moe, but it is in an unconscious way, and it is only apparent to the outside observer. Curly himself is hardly aware of his talents; his weakness is that he does not know his own strength, and cannot trust his own luck.

In real life, Curlys are usually branded by the Moes and Larrys around them as retarded, schizophrenic, mal-adjusted or just plain stupid, whereas in reality, it is only Curly who understands the truth. Remaining cheerful through adversity, he wins battles not by fighting, but by 'accidentally' unleashing 'accidents' in which his enemies injure themselves.

Alien to feelings of avarice or ambition, he is the opposite of Moe, yet the two are drawn together by some inexplicable balancing force of nature. The Larrys, though, are ever the in-between, slug like nonentities caught in the crossfire of cosmic dualities -- yet remaining there by some herding instinct that makes being a casualty of the Moe-Curly battle preferable to life alone with other Larrys.

Only the existence of the blameless, bovine Larrys makes that of Moe or Curly possible. They are able to maintain their level of glandular brutality and senseless destruction only at the expense of the unquestioning, loyal worker drone whose income partially supports their excesses. Were he not there to diffuse Moe's anger by becoming another recipient of his blows, Curly would have been killed long ago, and Moe would have committed suicide out of loneliness.

The horror of it all is that the three types need each other to survive. Of all nature's cycles of parasitic symbiosis, the one involving the three human types is the most nightmarish. It rages around us all the time in real life, spreading death and madness, yet when we see it on the screen we call it "comedy."

So where do I fall into this pantheon of Stoopids? Those of you who know me personally know that without a doubt I am MOE! Coincidentally I have a very good friend who is named Larry. I’ll let him decide if he is the “Larry” of the Three Stooges described in Ivan Stang’s treatise.

I happened across this article while reading a copy of Uncle John/s Second Bathroom Reader (yes, I’m one of those folks who reads in the John.) This article reinforced by belief that most people in this world fall into only a few categories. I really couldn’t articulate my beliefs any better than this article by Ivan Stang.

So, which Stooge are you?
My friends Larry (yes), Stuart and me October 1957

Random Observations on a December Morning

Late yesterday afternoon sun on our cozy home (in the background).    What? Yet another selfie of yours truly in a hoodie on his property in...