Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year 2012

In a few hours a new year will arrive.  It just seems like a few months ago that I welcomed in 2011.  The years are flying by!  I was warned that the older I got, the fast the years would fly by.

I remember when I turned 21 years old.  I was in the Army at the time and I was so anxious to become "legal."  I also remember one of my "older" Army buddies (Herb was his name, he even had an old name) said "Don't push it Ron.  Once you turn 21 the years go by fast."  Herb, the "old man", was 26 years old.

Since that day forty-nine years ago, time has flown by.  So much has happened in my life, mostly for the good.  In fact, almost all of it has been good.  A few scary times and even a few times I didn't want to continue but overall, I've had a pretty good life.

The picture at the top of this post was taken by me on my iMac this past Monday, December 26th.  I set up a fancy, fancy background that didn't quite come out the festive way I intended but I'm going to go with it anyway.

I probably won't be awake when Dick Clark mumbles in "Happy New Year!" (is he doing it this year?  I haven't heard).  I'll be fast asleep.  Yes boys and girls; the days of trolling the gay bars in center city Philadelphia are long gone.  These days this old gay guy will be fast asleep by the time the sparkly ball drops in Times Square.

So I will take this occasion to wish all my blogger friends a very happy new year.  In fact I'm going to even with my former blogger friends, who dropped by the wayside this past year, a happy new year (you know who you are).  And to those of my friends who know me personally, I wish you a happy new year too even though some of you don't approve of my blog postings and rarely hesitate of let me know even though I don't post for your approval, I post for myself.

Setting aside all bad feelings, recriminations and general unhappiness, I wish you all a happy new year!

Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, 1960

Ft. Devens, Machussetts was the location of the Army Security Agency Training School.

I joined the Army in January of 1960.  After I completed my eight weeks of basic training at Ft. Dix, New Jersey (which was a LOT of fun in the dead of winter), I was assigned to attend the Army Security Agency Training School at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts.

After a week's leave at home with my family, I got on a train in Philadelphia, PA and traveled BY MYSELF to Parts Unknown to this young and innocent (and naive) 18year old soldier.

My arrival at Ft. Devens was much less traumatic than my arrival at Ft. Dix, which was a relief.  After eight weeks of basic training I thought my permanent name was "You Dumb Fucking Trainee!"  God, if I had a quarter every time I was call that name and invested it in Apple stock I would rival Bill Gates in wealth today.  Well, maybe not THAT much money but I would have a lot more than I have now.

It didn't take me too long after my arrival at Ft. Devens to make friends.  The photos on this blog were taken by me on one Sunday day in spring when most of my fellow soldiers had left for the weekend.  I usually went home too but this weekend I decided to stay on the base for a long forgotten reason.

A few of my friends were still around, drinking beer and smoking which is what most of we soldiers did on our off time.  I didn't smoke or drink then, I was still innocent.  As I said, this was a LONG TIME AGO.

So here for better or worse are those photos I took that long ago Sunday.

The barracks where I lived - the second floor of the middle building - home sweet home

Somebody had a sense of humor.  We used to get in formation on these daisies.

One of my buddies.  I forget his name but I know he had red hair and lived in Massachusetts but never went home on the weekends - which I thought was very strange but he never explained - nice guy though

Here is another picture of "Red."  We soldiers spent a lot of time polishing our shoes and boots.

Guess who?  Yep!  It's yours truly...young and innocent and naiveté personified. 

My buddy "Red."  He was cute but I'm pretty sure he was straight.  We were just buddies.

"Red's" again.  We lost touch after I was moved to a different company on the base.  He was a pretty nice guy.

Oh I remember this guy's name.  It was Bob Merritt.  I got into trouble once by thoughtlessly patting him on his ass once.  He angrily turned to me and said "What are you!  Queer?" As I said earlier, I was very naive.  I dodged a bullet on this one but we were never friends again.  He stayed clear of me.

Another photo of Bob.  This was before the Ass Patting Incident.  We were still friends.  He did have a nice ass though.

This was another buddy of mine who lived in our cubicle (four to a cubicle).  I forget his name also but I knew he was a Mohawk Indian, which I thought was pretty cool.

Another picture of "Reds" doing what comes naturally to soldiers who are left alone on the weekends in the barracks.

Some of the other guys just hang out on their bunks.  Looking at these photos now it looks like I was concentrating on their behinds.  I didn't realize that until just now.  Wow.

Another one of my buddies giving a Peek Show.  Reds is too the left.  I guess we were pretty good friends.  

I took a walk around the base taking random pictures.  I probably wouldn't be able to do this these days in the Age of Terrorism. 

The base church where my friend Big Bob and I used to attend on Sundays.  I went because they didn't rant again homosexuals, it was a real Christian church.

A street where the officer's and their wives (and families lived).  Quite a bit difference from our barracks.  I envied them.

The new barracks that Big Bob and I had to move too when our MOS was changed.  This was F Company.  We were in C Company before we failed to qualify at school for Morse Code Intercept.  I guess this was the Losers' Barracks.  I left a lot of friends behind in C Company who I never saw again.  But I made new friends in F Company, even though we were all probably losers.

This was the Army Depot.  I never went into this place.  I wasn't a Truck Driving Soldier.  I was a Paper Pushing Soldier.

The base PX.  This was our store. Man oh man, we got all kinds of bargains here.  Who needs Walmart when you have access to a PX?

More of my Sunday afternoon walk.  Ft. Devens was pretty big and a great place to take a walk.

In the distance are the buildings where we went to school daily.  We would march from our barracks in formation to go to school every morning and march back in the afternoon.  I almost always had a hard on by the time I arrived at school from marching behind all those fabulous behinds of my fellow soldiers.  I've forgotten a lot but I can remember trying to deal with my "aroused state" by the time I arrived at school.  I didn't want any of my fellow soldiers to notice.  So you see, it's not easy being gay in the service.  So much eye candy.  

Me (kneeling on the left) and my new buddies in F Company.  And yes, I remember all their names.  From the back Bob McCamley, Duane Osten, Hagerstrom (forget his first name) and in the front kneeling me, Bill Allen (sitting and he was from St. Louis, Missouri) and Dick Egan.  Big Bob, Dick Egan and I used to hang all the time.  Great friendships! Funny thing, after I got out I discovered my BF Big Bob was also gay!  I never had a clue nor did he of me.  We're still friends and he is the reason I moved to Delaware, where I live now.  
Bob (center) and me (on right) in Provincetown, Mass many years after our time at Ft. Devens.

Me (on the left) and Bob (on the right) at lunch at a local Delaware restaurant 
Two old Army Buddies - lots of stories here

Friday, December 30, 2011

Where are the Artists in Rehoboth Beach?

Why don't I see this kind of art in the Rehoboth Beach/Lewes area of Delaware?  Oh sure, there are a lot of "artistes" but can anyone really draw and apply color to make a unique watercolor painting like the one featured above in this post? 

I found this 3 foot by 4 foot watercolor painting in the lobby the Wilmington Veterans' Affairs Medical Center emergency room last week during my visit.  Oh sure, there are a lot of "art rooms" down here in Lower Slower, aka Sussex County but where is the true, vibrant art?  I haven't seen it.  Perhaps someone can take me by the hand and lead me to an art gallery that shows such an original interpretation of the beauty that is around us. 

What I do see that passes for art looks like the "art" my eighth grade class did back in 1955.  It's Amateur Hour guys and gals, Amateur Hour.


Something strange has been happening the past few months.  I've been having flashbacks to my youth. 

When I say "youth" I don't mean when I was in my twenties or teens.  I mean YOUTH.  Really young like two, three or four years old.

It happens at the strangest times.  When I was returning from a visit to my old hold state of Pennsylvania on Christmas Day; rolling down the straight stretch of Route 1, little Sparks of Memory would flash in my mind of barely remember instances of my pre memory.  Does this make any sense at all? 

It does to me.  I think this is a precursor to my knowledge that I am coming to the end of this roadshow called The Life of Ronald Tipton.  Yes folks, this is one clownshow that is making its final run.

I don't know if this has to do with my decision not to follow-up on my recent high PSA score which could (or could not) indicate that I have prostate cancer.  I have decided not to go the usual route and get a biopsy taken of my prostate gland.  I have decided not to take that downward spiral.

As my urologist told me before we even discussed my options:  "Mr. Tipton, a man your age...even if you do have prostate cancer will probably die of another cause than of the prostate cancer." 

Of course I was immediately taken aback by the statemen "a man your age..."  My first impulse was to look over my shoulder to see WHO was HE talking to.  Okay, I'll use the old Robert DeNiro line..."you talking to me?"  Unfortunately, the good doctor WAS talking to me. 

So here is the deal.  I know I'm going to die of something.  Hey, we're all going to die of something.  Most of us don't know when or where but it will happen. 

I might die of this cancer, I might not.  Someone could ram into my car tomorrow (with all the crazy drivers we have down here that is very possible) or I could die a very old man in diapers; ravaged with a long and slow and humiliating death.    God, I hope not.  When I die I hope I go I hope I die in my sleep, having one of those wonderful fantasy sex dreams that I used to have when I was a teenage and all hormones up.   Yessiree, that's the way I want to go.  But we have little control over our Final Demise.  Most of us let nature  fate take its course.  Suicide scares me because I fear I wouldn't be successful.

One thing that I do know that lately I've been having these quick Flashes of Memory of a time gone by.  I know they are part of my earliest memory because they make me feel secure and comfortable.  There is no fear or dread in these little sparks of memory flashbacks.  I feel as if I'm ending where I began with this memory thing.  I hope I'm not being too cryptic or weird.   

It's all very strange, yet somehow comforting.  Maybe when we die there really will be that all enveloping light at the end of a long tunnel that welcomes us with peace, love and comfort.

Remember the last words Steve Jobs uttered before he died:


 I wonder what he saw.  Maybe we will all find out one day.  If not, then there is the peace and comfort of the nothingness.  But for now, I'm enjoying these sparks of flashback memories.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

My Favorite Place in the Whole World - My Bedroom

My bedroom

My favorite place in the whole world is my bedroom.

My bedroom is my sanctuary.  It is where I get away from the every day pressures, cruelties and travails of the world.  My bedroom is my treasure.  I want for nothing else when I am in my bedroom.  I will die in this bedroom.

I sleep alone in my bedroom.  Bill has a different bedroom on a different floor (the basement).  We haven't slept together for the past 46 years.  Yes, that's right, FORTY SIX YEARS.

When we first met, we slept in the same bed together, which is different (as you know) than SLEEPING TOGETHER, which is a whole 'nother subject that I won't even delve into on this blog posting.

I'm not comfortable sleeping all night in the same bed with another person, be that man or woman.  Perhaps that is because my Mother had me and my two brothers sleeping in the same rickety brass bed until I was 12 years old.  I complained so much about sleeping in the same bed with my brothers that she gave me a fold away bed on my 13th birthday.  My brothers and I still slept in the same room but I put my fold away bed (actually a cot) in the corner of our bedroom.  That was my SPACE and oh how I treasured the independence of that space that I could call my own.

Bill was the first (and last) man that I have lived with.  When I moved into his apartment at Pennsauken New Jersey in February of 1965 I did what was expected, I slept with My Man.  Didn't work out.  We only had a double bed and I'm not one of these guys that need to be cuddled when I sleep.  I SLEEP ALONE.
Bill isn't a "cuddly" type either.  So we each got on our respective sides of the bed and TRIED to sleep.

Didn't work.  We would usually wake up in the middle of the night and I would have all the covers.  Apparently I'm very selfish when I'm in the deep RIMM mode.  Bill also said that I would punch him in my sleep to get over to his side of the bed.  Apparently I have some deep psychological issues when I'm sleeping with someone else in my same space.  Bill also said that I talk and sometimes shouted in my sleep.  I was aware of this.  When I was in the Army and before I got my own room (yes, I got my own room when I was in the Army; one of the perks of being an assistant platoon sergeant) my fellow soldiers who slept in the same open bay barracks with me often told me that I was quite the conversant while sleeping.

I am a MESS when it comes to sleeping around others.  Doesn't work for me, or my bed partner.

So after a few months of mostly sleepless nights Bill decided to use the guest bedroom in our Pennsauken, New Jersey apartment and he's been sleeping in a separate bedroom since.  This sleeping arrangement works out quite well for us.

Over the years I've had several different bedrooms but this one is the best.  When I had this house built in 2006 my primary goal was to have a bedroom that was customized for my ultimate comfort and well being.  I succeeded.

 I am surrounded by windows.  I love light.

I have a light in tray ceiling.  This is perfect indirect light for me when I get up during the night or early in the morning.  None of the harshness of lamp light to blast me awake in the morning.

My 60 inch flat screen TV is at the foot of my queen sized platform bed.  My platform bed was custom made for my comfort.  I need full support for my back when I sleep.  None of these pillowy, cloud like, cushiony mattresses where I wake up in the morning with a painful backache.

My bathroom is located a few steps from my bed.  It has a separate enclosure for the toilet.  I love privacy when I have to go to the bathroom.

I have a tiled walk in shower and a dual sink facing a mirror that covers the wall.  I have soft lights to minimize my wrinkled and grizzled countenance which I look at every morning when perform my daily toilette routine of shaving, brushing my tech and clipping those wild, errant hairs that seemingly grew overnight out from my nostrils, eyebrows and ears.

This is the room where I take my Daily Afternoon Nap.  I close the curtain, turn on the air purifier, put a dark cloth over my eyes and drift off to dreamland (daytime version) anywhere from half an hour to two hours.  Yes, sometimes I sleep TWO hours in the afternoon.  I can do that now that I'm retired and I LOVE IT!

And one last thing, if everything goes the way I plan, this is where I plan to end my days.  I'm not planning on going anywhere anytime soon but when THAT DAY comes, this is where I plan to take my Last Breath.  My neighbor Al died last month.  He was my age.  He had stage four terminal liver cancer.  They brought him home to die.  He died in his bed two weeks after they brought him home.

That's the way to go Al.  I hope I can do the same.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Anyone Know How to Rip DVD to an iMovie?

Can anyone tell me the best way to convert my DVD's into iMovie?

I have a LOT of old VCR's that I'm converting to DVD's and I would like to put them into an iMovie format.  I've already converted some of the VCR tapes (which were originally old 8mm files) to a DVD format now I want to convert them to iMovie.

I've check the Internet but I'm not sure if I even need to download software to convert my DVD's to iMovie.  I'm willing to download and even purchase software if it does a good and easy job.

Anyone done this?  I would appreciate any advice you could give.  I would LOVE to make a permanent record of these old films and VCR tapes so when I'm gone they will be available to my relatives.


Monday, December 26, 2011

Unknown Photo Discovered After 54 years!

The collage senior snapshot yearbook page of the Class of 1957

As regular readers of this blog know, I love old photos.  Last week I pulled out a couple of old yearbooks from my high school.  I went to Downingtown High School in Downingtown, Pennsylvania from 1954 to 1959.

I was looking through the yearbooks, reliving old memories and looking for photos to scan into my computer when I came across quite a remarkable discovery.  I found a photo of myself that I had never seen before in the DHS 1957 yearbook!  How surprised was I when I saw that smiling photo of myself?!?

The photo was contained on one of the collage photo pages of snapshots of the seniors.  Since I was a sophomore at that time, my photo should not have been on that page.  The only thing I can figure is that I had a girl friend at that time who was a senior and she must have had that picture of me and submitted it to the yearbook editorial staff when they asked seniors to submit pictures of the collage page.

That's me in the center with all my "girlfriends" surrounding me!

I think there was an inside joke because I was often teased about "all my girlfriends."  HA!  Yes, I had her (Vivian) as a girlfriend but back then I had the eye for the boys, believe me.  I had many, many fantasies about some of the senior guys.  Oh sure, I liked my "girlfriend" but back then you have to realize (The Fifties) that one was expected to have a girlfriend.  I thought my "feelings" about some of those hot senior  boys was just a phase that would pass.  Right!  I am still in that "phase."

So anyway, it was fun seeing this picture of myself even if it took me 53 years to discover it.

That's Smiling Ron!

I wonder how many more Unknown Pictures of Ron are out there?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Great Day!

A toast between friends this Christmas Day
Just in from my trip to Pennsylvania this morning.  When I got up this morning and saw the sun streaming through my bedroom windows and knowing that Bill (spouse) is still holed up in his bedroom depressed, I thought today would be an ideal day to take my friend Bill B. up on his offer (I have several "Bill" friends as I do several "Bob" friends) and have Christmas dinner with him and his family at their home in Pennsylvania.  Good decision!

"Did you get that picture?"

Bill B. was my best friend in high school.  After a thirty-five year intermission, we renewed our friendship at our 35th class reunion  in 1994.  In fact I have renewed my friends with several of my high school friends and my life is richer for it.

"I think she got it!"

It is a two and a half hour drive for me to get to Pennsylvania.  Normally it is very stressful because I have to contend with long haul trucks, road construction and driving through the center of Newark, Delaware (a college town) which is never a picnic.  However, today my drive up to Pennsylvania was a STRAIGHT SHOT.  I love it when the highways are deserted.  Why can't it be like that all the time?

"Let's do it again!"

My brother Isaac also lives in Pennsylvania.  I stopped by his house (the old family home) but he wasn't there so I left him a note.  No doubt his daughter or his son got him out the house.  He lives alone with his cat.  Ike is a good guy.  I'm glad someone took care of him this Christmas.

"Maybe we need a refill!"

At my friend Bill's I had a reunion with his cousin Ruth, who is a delightful person.  She is one of those people you can tease and tease and she is so good natured about it.  Bill  and I are always teasing someone.  Maybe that's why we're such good friends in spite of the fact that he is a conservative Republican and I am a liberal Democrat.  Funny thing about that, most of my friends are conservative Republicans.  Think it's me?

"Hey! My arm is getting tired of holding this glass of Zin"

The last time I visited Bill and his family was nine years ago.  That was also for a Christmas dinner.  My my, how fast time goes by.  I'm usually working Christmas Day, that's why I don't visit friends on Christmas.  This year it was a treat not to work Christmas Day.

"That's enough, I'm drinking my zin now!
The only downside of the day was that I had to leave so early.  I don't like to drive in the dark.  I really do have problems driving in the dark.  It's hard for me to see things and tonight there was no moon out.  The last hour of the drive home was in the dark but it was a straight shot down Rt. 1 so it wasn't too bad.  I didn't want to drive through Newark, Delaware with all those twists and turns and road construction in the dark.  The sun was just going down by the time I arrived in Newark.  I would probably be down some dead end street in Newark right now if I was caught in the dark.

When I was up in PA I did stop my our old house.  It is so depressing.  The place went into foreclosure almost two years ago.  It is so overgrown.  It looks like Grey Gardens.  I probably should stop visiting it.  But I can't help myself.  Bill misses it so much.  I love where I'm living in Delaware but I also do miss the "Old Props" as we call it.

I hope everyone reading this blog post had a wonderful day today.  I know I did.  Thanks Bill and Janet!

I should have worn red!  A fashion faux pas!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas To All

Merry Christmas to on and all on this Christmas Eve.  I hope you are all surround by love and peace and happiness on this special night.

Happy Birthday Mom

My Mom - The Best Mom in the World (for me)

Today would have been my Mom's 88th birthday.  She was born December 24th, 1923.  She died September 16th, 2010.

Every year I always sent her a birthday card.  I always gave her separate birthday gifts wrapped in birthday paper.  I NEVER gave her Christmas gifts and said "This is for your birthday too."  She said that happened to her growing up so I always made sure that her birthday was special.

Last year was the first birthday that I didn't get her a card or a gift.  It was a difficult time for me because my Mom was my Best Friend also.  Sure, the last few years of her life she changed and was difficult at times but she was always my Mom.  She literally was always THERE for me.

My Mom and me (leaning on her as usual) and my two brothers  - 1951

Ever since she died I have felt less than whole.  I was fortunate to have had her as long as I did (68 years.)  She lost her mother when she wasn't quite two years old.  She always talked about this mysterious woman who was her mother.  I could tell the she never got over the pain of losing and not having her own mother. I tried to make that up to her by being a Good Son.  Most of the time I did alright.  However, sometimes I slipped but she always forgave me.

My Mom, me and my two brothers - 2005 (only formal portrait picture of us)

Later in her life she liked teddy bears.  Every Christmas I would give her a teddy bear.  Big teddy bears, little teddy bears.  Oh how she loved those teddy bears.

Mom and her Christmas Teddy Bear - 2000

She would put the big ones away after Christmas and bring them out the next Christmas.  The little ones she put in a basket next to her favorite chair in her living room.  After she died my brothers took all of her clothes and gave them to Goodwill.  I took the teddy bears.  I have the big ones in boxes in my basement storage room (much to the chagrin of Bill).  Some of the little ones I kept in her basket and put them on the bed in the room I reservers for her in our new house.  She never got to use Her Room because she spend the last year of her life being cared for my by brother John and his wife and daughter at John's home in Greenville, South Carolina.

The last picture of me and Mom

When I go into Mom's Room now and see her teddy bears looking at me, I feel her presence.  It is a good feeling.

Mom's Teddy Bears in Her Room waiting for her

Happy birthday Mom.

Mom - 1955

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...