Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Volunteering Part Two

My friend Judy who volunteers to train guide dogs for blind

Hey folks, have to make something very clear.  In my previous post called "Volunteering" I was not criticizing volunteering or the work they do.  I have friends who volunteer and do much good both for themselves and the beneficiaries of their volunteerism.  One of my good friends volunteers to train guide dogs.  That is a wonderful thing she does.  I so admire her for the selfless work she does to help train guide dogs for the blind.  The dogs live in her home while they are puppies to acclimate them to living with people and to see if they have the right personality to be a guide dog.

There are many other selfless acts of volunteerism and in no way do I denigrate this fine work.  What my blog was about, and could have been worded better, was that I resent someone volunteering my time or feeling the need to suggest to me the way I should use my time now that I'm retired.  Again, we're getting back to my Character Flaw (which I wrote a blog about which resulted in a former friend dismissing me from his Friendship because he took offense that I complained about him wasting my time - never mentioned his name by the way).

No, I prefer to run my own life.  The volunteer work I was suggested for was working in two different thrift stores, one as a manager.  I just don't have the time nor the inclination for it.  My extra time, what I have of it, is for my part-time job and my other interests.  I highly resent some others deciding what I should do with my time.  Again, this is probably one of my Character Flaws that I am just so easy going.

A couple of years ago I made friends with another gay couple who moved into the neighborhood.  I actually went up to their door and knocked on it and introduced myself when the door opened.  For a few months the friendship developed with dinners at each other's houses and a few trips the restaurant.  It took that long before I realized (Bill saw it before I did) that we were looked upon as an opportunity by the other couple.  I don't mind helping out friends (Bill mowed their grass three times, wired up their living room, and other things) but when we were asked to watch their dogs while they went on a three week trip to Florida, that was too much.  It was awkward but I turned them down.  They said it was alright but the request for favors kept coming.  One in particular was asking me to print out all their wedding invitations.  I did.  The one guy changed his mind on the wording and they asked me to print them again, all fifty!  No offer was ever made to pay for a new toner cartridge nor paper.

Finally, one time when they were over for dinner and we were all having a chat after dinner I asked the Head Guy, "Do you think I'm gullible?"' He looked at me and a smile crossed his face and he nodded his head slowly in the affirmative.  That did it it.  I told him "You have misread me.  I may seem like a pushover and gullible but I'm not. "  That was the night the friendship ended.  We were being used. Somewhere along the line of our friendship he (they) had ceased to respect us (if they ever did) and only saw us as another "opportunity".  That's a friendship I don't need.

Perhaps my  character flaw is that I let these things go on too long.  I am by nature an optimistic person. I want to believe the best in everyone.  That's just the way I think (or "roll" that is the term in vogue these days).  However, every now and then the evidence is just so overwhelming that there is a basic lack of respect that I can't ignore it.  Another way of putting it:  "The worm turns."

So back to my posting on volunteering.  I think volunteering is fine.  I just object when someone volunteers me for something that they think in their judgement I should do.  Won't work.  Let them volunteer their time.

Secondly, I am reminded every day just how hard it is to find and keep new friends.  It seems as if most my really good friends, those people who accept me as I am (warts and all and now I have a real wart on my left forehead), are from years back.  I'm glad I got them and I'm glad for any new friends that I've made.

I still remain an optimist.

Ron's Tidbits of the Week

Bunny rabbit in Union Cemetery this afternoon - "I see you!"

I thought retirement was all about lolling about the house, watching TV, snacking, eating out and generally vegetating.  Ah yes, that may be retirement for some but not for Busy Ron.

One thing I used to kid my Mother about after she retired was that her life in retirement seemed to rotate around a series of doctor's appointments.  Well folks, be careful who you tease.  Now that I am in retirement my life is also rotating around a series of doctors' appointments.  This past Monday I had my annual eye exam.  I came through fine, just a minor adjustment on one eye.  As you can see I have an adorable eye doctor (just my type).  The only downside is that I see him once a year.  He said I have the beginnings of cataracts but I have "a long way to go."  That's good news!  So I asked him if I could take his picture for my iPhone.  He wasn't quite sure but I took it anyway before he had a chance to change his mind.

My cute eye doctor - I got lucky (for once)

Next month I have an appointment with a new dermatologist.  My regular dermatology visits are with the VAMC in Wilmington.  I go every six months.  My last one was in December.  I had several spots removed from my face.  My next appointment isn't until June.  In the meantime I have a wart (of all things) that popped up on my left forehead.  Thank goodness it didn't pop up on the end of my nose or else I could keep it and go out this Halloween as a witch.

As I reported before in this venue, I had another blood test last month.  That one showed my PSA count down to 5.1 from a high of 8.4 last June.  It's a good thing I didn't jump into the downward spiral of prostate cancer treatments because it looks like my PSA count is going down on its own.

And of course the last two Tuesdays in a row I had dental appointments.  Again as I reported in this venue those two visits set me back over $1,000.  Maybe I'll get some of that back from my dental insurance but probably not much.  They've been pretty tight about paying benefits.

In among all my medical appointments I have several social engagements that I've been putting off that I have to fulfill.  My neighbor Barbara wanted to take me out for my birthday at a place of my choice. We went out today for lunch (I don't drive at night).  I chose wrong again.  I chose the new Italian restaurant in Lewes called Annabella's.  It was a disaster.  Hey, it's not hard to chose bad restaurants in this area.  The hard thing is to chose a good restaurant that isn't an overpriced tourist trap or one that doesn't cost $100.00 for two for lunch.

The restaurant I chose for my birthday lunch today = BIG MISTAKE - Barb was smiling when she went in but now when she came out

Barb had a meatball and spaghetti.  Yes, A MEATBALL.  She ordered "meatballs and spaghetti" so what does she get?  ONE BIG MEATBALL.  She said there was no taste to it.  She said it was like the cook just made a big meatball out of ground beef without any seasonings.  Nothing subtle here.

"My God!  I actually ate that meatball!"

I got Eggplant Parmesan.  And as usual when I order Eggplant Parmesan at anyplace except the Rehoboth Diner, it was a greasy mess.  I'm still digesting it.  The gift that keeps on giving.

Yes, I ate the grease soaked Eggplant Parmesan - I didn't touch the canned Chef Boyardee spaghetti - took that home for Bill

I used to write restaurant reviews but I don't anymore.  The way I figure it these people are in business and I don't want to make their work any harder of them. The economy is too rough on everyone as it is.  Let the word of mouth get around about the sub par meals that are served around here.  I hear a Panera Restaurant is coming to our area.  Can't be soon enough!  I just hope they don't succumb to the Feed the Tourist Reheated Frozen Food (a la Sysco) and Overcharge Them For It trap.  I've eaten at a Panera restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina where my brother lives and it is great!  No waiters to tip, no screaming kids,  no tourists.  Oh wait, ah yes.  I am in Tourist Land here.  Oh well, we'll see how it goes.

I just got back from my daily walk.  Hey guys, want to lose that stomach?  Tired of looking like you're six months pregnant?  Walk a mile briskly every day.  You may not get Ryan Gosling abs but you will lose that belly and you can tuck your shirt in again.  Just saying.  You know who you are.

The weather today was fabulous!  The temperature reached up to 61 degrees.  Bill and I went down to the Union Cemetery in Georgetown and I took another 743 photos of headstones.  Just a lovely, wonderful day to roam around a quiet cemetery.  We weren't alone.  Several couple walked through the cemetery on the pathway for their Afternoon Stroll.  Why not?  The Union Cemetery is located right in the heart of downtown Georgetown, with is the busy little county seat of Sussex County, Delaware.  The courthouse is there and all those law offices.  While taking photos of the graves I came across a little bunny sunning himself near a headstone.  He didn't move even though I was within two feet of him.  He too was enjoying the "balmy" breezes of the day.

The little bunny rabbit sunning himself on Short's grave this afternoon


Me on a mountain top somewhere in Tennessee looking for that next cemetery

Now that I'm retired I'm often asked "Do you volunteer your time?"  My first thought when I hear someone ask me this question is:

"You're an old useless man now who has nothing to do with your days, surely you would want to give your free time to help others." 

Yes, perhaps this sounds harsh but remember, this is my blog and I don't fool around here.  I tell the truth as I see it, offending many along the way.

Now I'm not saying there is anything wrong with volunteering your time.  Many of us old useless folks find volunteering fulfills a part of their life by helping others.  I think that is JUST FINE.  If you fall into that category and you want to volunteer your time at the local thrift store (which I have been asked to do on numbers occasions), GO FOR IT!  You're happy, the thrift store is happy getting your free time, and the ultimate beneficiaries of the thrift store benefit by your generosity.  That is wonderful and I am not criticizing or condemning that activity at all.  What I am say, that is not for me.  I've seen old men like me volunteer and I don't like what I see.  They're not appreciated, they're taken for granted and they are looked down upon.

Me with my Mom at my paternal grandparent's grave in Union Hill Cemetery 

Bill and I got a kick out of seeing the description of one of our friend's obituary.  It listed his name and underneath it said "Neighborhood volunteer."  Say what?  We knew this guy and he was a former friend for several reasons.  Not only was he a racist who liked to use the N Word freely in describing another neighbor in our neighborhood but he was one of the most opportunistic and selfish people I've ever known.  That's why he was a former friend.  So we scratched out heads and tried to figure out what the "neighborhood volunteer" description meant.  And then it hit us!  Ah yes, our former friend volunteered at the local gay community center stuffing condoms into packets to be distributed to local gay bars.  Well that explained it, our former friend volunteered as a way to meet people.  He volunteered in a milieu where he was comfortable.  That's fine.  Whatever works for him.  Sort of funny though reading that description of him in his obituary.  The obituary should have went into more detail.  Now that would have been interesting.

Me standing on my cemetery plot at Northwood Cemetery, Downingtown, PA

I see the old ladies at the local thrift store who volunteer their time.  Bless their hearts.  I admire them.  Volunteering works for them.  Volunteering gives them a chance to put on their war paint makeup and get out in public and do something useful.  And they are always so sweet.  Volunteering works for them.  I'm happy for them and I'm happy for the thrift shop.

The view from my cemetery plot at Northwood Cemetery

So now we get to me, this old guy that some are so concerned that I don't have enough to do in my spare time that they feel the need to suggest that I volunteer my time to some worthy cause.  I guess they think because I'm not one of these well off older gay guys who has two or three homes that I travel back and forth too. You know, the home in PA and then the one in Rehoboth then the one in Florida for winter - sorry folks, I'm a POOR OLD GAY GUY.  I only have ONE home.  I tough it out here in the winter.  Nah, I'm not one of THOSE guys.  By the way, notice how they NEVER volunteer their time?  Oh yes, you won't see them getting down with the hoi polli.  They are much too good for that.  I notice that there is a direct inverse, the more property these guys have, the less they volunteer.  They're always the ones making the suggestions to this Poor Old Gay Guy.  I actually need to continue working to supplement my modest Social Security and retirement income.  I don't have the luxury of traveling between my homes.  I have a part-time job that I need to get paid for to keep up with my bills.  I'm not lazy.  I'll work as long as I can.

Some of my friends, who only have one home, volunteer at their local church (treasurer) or homeowners association (treasurer again).  Again, I think that is just fine.  They are utilizing their skills in a useful manner.  That is good and I do not criticize them. I admire them.

What I resent are those who feel the need to advise me that I should volunteer my time.  Here's the deal folks...I DO VOLUNTEER but I chose the method that I volunteer.  I am an Find a Grave volunteer.  I travel to cemeteries and take pictures of graves and post them to a website.  I do this because I ENJOY doing this plus my effort is almost always appreciated.  My volunteering is also good for my health because I get out in the open and move around.  I'm not one of those old gay guys who can't figure out how to lose weight.  I guess if all you're doing is eating out most of the time and moving around very little, you're going to put on weight and become unhealthy.  By the way, here's my advice to lose weight:


Later today Bill and I are going to return to the Union Cemetery in Georgetown.  I have a lot of pictures to take.  While taking those photos, I'll be moving around, bending down and standing up.  I have about five pounds to lose that I gained over the winter.  I don't think I'll run into any of my Old Gay Friends at the cemetery today with three homes who advise me to volunteer my time. 

Monday, January 30, 2012

Do I Look Like My Father?

This is a photo of my father at 18 years old when he worked for Lukens Steel Company in 1941 when he was 21 years old

I guess this is the fate of all first born sons, the older they get the more they look like their father.

Tell me what you think.  Here are a series of photographs of me and my father, Isaac Walter Tipton, Sr.

This is a drivers license photo of me when I was about 22 years old taken in 1963

Both my father and I were 6'4" tall (I'm now 6'3" - I'm shrinking!)  We both have the same blank stare.  My father usually had his mouth hanging open.  I do to, this picture was the exception.  

The one significant difference between me and my father was that he was blonde and I have dark brown hair (from my Mother).  We both had blue eyes and a slim build with big feet (look it up.) 

My father was a very handsome man.  He had ten brothers (no sisters) and he was perhaps most handsome of his brothers with the possible exception of his brother John who the brothers nicknamed "Movie Star."  My father, or "Pop" as we knew him NEVER had a problem attracting women.  In fact, he was a woman magnet. I found out shortly before my Mother died (when she divulged all to me) that he did carry on quite a bit.  Thank God she forgave him and kept our family together.  They were married 60 years before he died in August of 2000.

Me, 1968.  Unlike my father (who was VERY straight) I am gay.  Like my father I NEVER had a problem attracting men (no false modesty here, it is MY BLOG after all :))  And yes, I have done my share of catting around (Bill and I have always had an open relationship)

My handsome father and beautiful Mother (who was beautiful even without makeup) - 1958.

Later in life my father grew a beard as I did also.

This picture was taken at Hibernia Lake near Coatesville, PA in 1974.  My father was 54 years old.  He wasn't skinny anymore but he wasn't fat either.  I inherited his good genes, neither of us ever grew fat.  However, since I was gay I elected to stay a little thinner than my father.  In the gay world thin is in.

This is me at our former property in Pennsylvania in 1976.  I was about 35 years old in this picture.

Here I am now (this past summer actually) at 69 years old.  Less hair, gray beard, but still with the old pizzazz!  

 I decided to post this vanity blog to offset (balance) the negativity of my previous blog posting. I don't like to post blogs like that but sometimes I just have to get the anger and frustration out of my system.  

Back to good things on this blog.  Things that I WANT TO TALK ABOUT, not what someone else thinks I should talk about.  

I am proud of my father.  I am proud of my mother and brothers.  I am proud of myself and where I am at in my life.  I have a wonderful partner of 47 years and I don't believe that I have to apologize to anybody for being blessed in my life, no matter how much they try to bring me down.  

A fellow blogger sent me a quote that Marilyn Monroe said that I never heard before that is so appropriate at this time.  

"If you can't handle me at my worst, then you sure as hell don't deserve me at my best.”

"Pop" at his best, self confident, happy and looking good!

"Pop" with his successor, ME!  1942

Sunday, January 29, 2012

If You Don't Like Me, Then Don't Read This Blog

Folks, I'm going to be a little harsh here.  I've tried to keep my feelings stifled about a recent incident but I'm not going to anymore.  Now I am not addressing this to the casual reader of my blog.  I am addressing this to those few who read my blog who don't like me either from jealousy, envy or whatever.

Here are the rules on MY BLOG:

  • I write what I want to write on my blog. 
  • I do not submit to censors.
A few days ago a former friend read something on one of my earlier blogs that he thought referred to him.  It did.  I did not mention him by name but I did mention his casual rudeness and thoughtlessness along with some other folks I know who have taken my efforts on their behalf for granted.  This is one of those individuals who fails to see that he makes any mistakes and never, but NEVER apologizes for anything.  He is perfect, at least in his own mind.

There are others who feel that they are superior to me and feel the need to correct me from time to time.  To those people I say "save your time."   Go away and leave me alone.  And please, PLEASE don't read my blog if it upsets you THAT much.  Don't worry, I won't mention your name.  However, if some local folks figure out who I'm talking about, see them and tell them that you're the perfect person and I am the one who is in the wrong.  I'll take all the blame.  God forbid that someone should criticize you.  

Life is short as it is and now that I am seventy years old I just do not have the time to waste on people like you who are so easily offended.  So you've told me to go away and I'll return the favor, you go away too.

We all go through life making friends along the way and losing friends either to geography of death.  Sometimes we just have falling outs with friends.  Some of us are lucky and we make lifetime friends.  Those are the friends who accept us as we are, faults an all.  Anyone who is so sensitive and touchy that is so easily offended where offense was not meant, wasn't a true friend in the first place.  Sometimes it just takes me a while to find that out.

As I wrote in a previous blog "My Character Flaw", the blog that OFFENDED, I do have a character flaw in that I tolerate these kinds of "friends" as long as I have.  I tolerate them much too long.  

I have to be honest and say that sometimes I just get so tired of trying to please people.  I've done it my whole life and perhaps that's my biggest mistake.  I think my attitude of trying to please people makes some lose respect for me.  SOME PEOPLE, not all.  

For those I offend, stay offended.  For those of you who are my friends and who appreciate my friendship I say "thank you."  But for those of you who don't like me for whatever reason, please don't read this blog.

Live For Today, Plan For Tomorrow

Three friends of mine from elementary school - all successful and happy because they lived for today and planned for tomorrow -unlike some other people I know who bemoan their present state of affairs because they lived for today only

Recently I read a blog post of a friend who was bemoaning his present state of life.  I responded by making a comment by quoting that old tired "Annie" show tune "Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Things will be better tomorrow!"  Of course my friend quickly dismissed that optimistic statement by saying "I live only for today!" 

Oh my oh my.  How foolish.  I am so glad I didn't think "I live only for today" when I embarked on my Plan For Life when I was a mere 12 years old.  At that time I knew I wanted to own my own home.  That was my master plan.

My next plan was how to get it.  My mother told me that they could not afford to send me to college.  So, instead of taking the college preparatory courses in high school I took the commercial course.  I wanted to learn skills that could get me a paying job.  That I did.  I learned bookkeeping and typing. 

My next plan was to fulfill my obligation for the privilege of living in this country by joining one of the branches of our armed forces.  By doing this I would be fulfilling several goals in addition to my patriotic requirement to give somethign back to my country.  I would be eligible for the G.I. Bill when I got out of the service.  I took advantage of the G.I. Bill and got a college education paid for by the U.S. Government.

I also was eligible for free lifetime medical care, should I need it, by serving three years of activie duty.  That was also another wise choice that this 18 year old made.  There came a time in my life when I was in my fifties and I had no job and I needed medical care which the Veterans Administration provided to me free of charge.  I continue to use the Veterans Administration for my medical needs and I will testify that it is the best care I have ever received. 

Once I got out of the service I set my goals on working for a big city bank.  I accomplished that goal and worked at Girard/Mellon bank for twenty two years.  When the bank mergers became a way of life I was able to secure jobs with several other additional bank.  I made sure I worked at those banks long enough to be vested in their pension plans.  I now receive three separate pension checks each month in addition to my Social Secuity check. 

After I was established in my banking job I went after my next goal which was to own my own home.  I did not want to spend the rest of my life renting a house like the way I grew up.  I wanted to own my own home.  That I did.  I am now living in my third home that I purchased, the last two I built. 

None of these achievements would have been possibile if I just drifted through life "living for today" and not concerned about tomorrow.  Thank God.

I've made my fair share of mistake during my life and done a lot of stupid things but one thing I didn't do was to be so reckless as to "live just for today."  Thank God.

Anyone who does "live just for today" probably deserves to be where they are today.  Any sympathy I had for them was probably misplaced.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


My bed bookshelf

I love to read.  The first book I read was a biography of Benjamin Franklin.  I was in sixth grade.  I sat in the back of the classroom.  Behind my desk was a wall long cabinet.  On top of that cabinet was a collection of orange books.  Those books were biographies of American historical figures, some of whom were  George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Alexander Hamilton, etc.

My Sixth Grade Class (I was absent the day this picture was taken - my desk was the third from the right in the back - my friend Billy B. is sitting at my desk)

Me when I discovered books 1953

No one encouraged me or told me to read those books.  I was bored by the class and curious as to what was in the books.  Up until that time the only reading I did were the Tom, Dick and Jane (and Spot) books, the books of Fifties elementary school.  Later I read the Weekly Reader.

Mrs. Yost, my sixth grade teacher who let me read 

I remember to this day picking up that first orange covered book biography of Benjamin Franklin.  I've forgotten a lot over the years but I remember holding that first hard covered book.  I opened it and glanced at the pages.  I was quickly drawn into another world, the world of the 18th century and Benjamin Franklin flying his kite in an thunder storm discovering electricity.  I asked my sixth grade teacher Mrs. Yost if I could take a book home to continue reading it.  She said I could.  It was from that point I was hooked on reading.

I quickly went through the collection of orange covered autobiographies.  I've often wondered if the color orange had a lot to do with luring me into reading those books because I so remember that warm, inviting color.

The Downingtown Public Library

After I finished that collection of books, someone suggested that I get a library card for the Downingtown Public Library.  The Downingtown Library was/is a grand old stone building located on the tree lined residential street that runs through Downingtown.  I still remember the wonderful smell of old books when I first walked into that wonderful, welcoming building.

I got my library card from the wonderful older woman (she was probably 40 but she seemed old to me) who sat behind a desk stacked with books.  It wasn't too long before my library card was filled with dates of books checked in and checked out.

From that day in 1953 until today, I have probably read thousands of books.

My favorite books are biographies, history books, and current events/political books.  I read some fiction but I don't read mysteries, science fiction or poetry.  I never got those books.  It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with those books, it's just that they bore me.

I read before I go to bed.  I read in the bathroom.  I read when I eat.  I read all the time.

What I'm reading now, "Include Me Out", Farley Granger's autobiography

I love reading.

Me reading in bed - my favorite bedtime activity...really

Friday, January 27, 2012

Dreams - Mom is Pregnant!

A fellow blogger in a recent post mentioned a recurring dream he had.  His post got me to thinking about dreams I have.

I used to dream a lot when I was younger.  By "younger" I mean when I was a teenager with raging hormones.  I dreamed a lot about my fantasy boyfriends and what I would do to them.  Dreams baby, dreams.

Once I became an adult and was able to make my dreams a realty I ceased to dream as much.  Oh sure, I would have the occasional dream that I wouldn't remember when I woke up but I never had those sexual fantasy dreams anymore.  In fact, these days it would be impossible for me to have a sexual fantasy dream, my hormones are done gone.

Me and Mom 1941

However, occasionally I still do have dreams.  Most often when I eat chocolate.  Either in a chocolate cake for a chocolate chip cookie. Not the Toll House cookies, those chocolate chips are too small.  I have the dreams when I eat those chocolate chip cooks (which probably should be called "chocolate chunk cookies") that I get at BJ's.

So when I read that my fellow blogger was dreaming I thought I would take a little trip to Dreamland myself.  When I got in from work last night, I devoured TWO chocolate chunk cookies.  Guaranteed dreams right?  Well, I wasn't disappointed.

Here is what I dreamed.  I dreamed that my 86 year old Mother got pregnant.  Yes, this is the same Mother who died in September of 2010 at 86 years old.  All I can remember about the dream is "how in the hell did she get pregnant?!" and "what are we going to do now because she was so old?"  WHO IS GOING TO TAKE CARE OF THIS BABY?

Like all my dreams, when I wake up I'm in a sweat and exhausted.  Man oh man, let me tell you I was really exhausted on this one.  What in the world triggered this dream?

So I tried to analyze it when I woke up.  Yes, I did remember this dream.  Not all the details (we still didn't find out how she got pregnant, my father died in 2000 and that was the only man she was ever with).

This is the way I figure it:  I think I'm in Groundhog Day.  Yes folks, I think I'm about to DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN!

I'm not a religious person.  If anything I believe in reincarnation in some form.  Wouldn't it be a cruel twist of irony if I had to live my life all over again?  Wow.

Me and Mom 1942 after I popped out - I was a happy baby then (with a droopy diaper yet)

Think Spring

One more month to go!  We're almost at the end of January, one-half of the "Just Get Through These Months of the Year" duo of January and February, two of the coldest, grayest and dreariest months of the year here in good old Southern Delaware.

Dew on Iris in Spring (Ronald Tipton photo)

I was going to get Bill to drive me down to BJ's in Millsboro this morning to stock up on spinach artichoke hummus and Panero potato leek soup, but the rain dampened our enthusiasm to ride the roads of southern Delaware this morning.  Instead I spent a good deal of time on the phone with Carbonite, my offsite backup solutions for my computer.

Since summer I've suspected Carbonite hasn't been backing up my precious iMac computer files to their offsite facility.  I now have over 54,000 photos and many hours of video on my computer that I DON'T want to lose.  Yesterday I was on the phone with Kyle from Carbonite.  After Kyle explored by hard drive (now stop that) for a couple of hours and reinstalling the Carbonite software, I discovered this morning that I'm back to Square One.  Carbonite still isn't backing up my files.

Thus back on the phone again this morning.  One thing I will give the Carbonite people, their help line is just about as good as Apples in time of response, friendliness of the support technician and NO FOREIGN ACCENT.  The Carbonite folks are up in Maine (it was snowing this morning, rain here).  Another hour and a half of examining, probing and exploring my hard drive by "Paul" this time (do I sound like a tramp?) and still no resolution to my problem.  In fact my Carbonite backup is going backwards now!  When I started out I had 122.06 GB (244,432 files) backed up  and 26.12 GB (18.678 files) waiting to be backed up.  Now I have 82.59 GB (196,399 files) backed up and 27.51 (36,163 files) waiting to be backed up.  Confusing?  I'm confused.

So now I'm awaiting for "Tammy" from their Tier Two of support tech help to call me at 2:00 pm (which is my normal nap time) to see what the problem is.  I suspect more probing of my hard drive (am I pushing this joke too far?) is in store.  This is about 23 minutes away from now so I better wrap this little missive up and prepare myself.

Oh lordy, lordy, it's always something isn't it?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Union Cemetery, Georgetown, Delaware

Memorial statue at Union Cemetery, Georgetown, DE

Last week Bill and I visited a new cemetery.  I had six Find a Grave photo requests to fill.  All the graves were located at the Union Cemetery in Georgetown, Delaware.  I had never been to this cemetery before.  This cemetery has now become one of my favorite cemeteries because of it's peacefulness.

Ironically it is located almost in the center of Georgetown, which is the county seat of Sussex County.  To the far side is a Waste Management terminal. At times during our visit, several of the Waste Management trash truck were pulling in and dumping their loads for the day.  I happen to take this video early yesterday morning, when the only sounds were of a lone bird chirping somewhere in the trees surround the cemetery and only one blast from a nearby train.

We couldn't find any of the graves that had photo requests.  Although the day was sunny, the temperatures were still down in the low 40's.  With the occasional wind whipping through the cemetery, it got a little uncomfortable touring through the cemetery.  However, this is a grand old cemetery with many graves (over 1,000) so I will definitely be back when the weather takes a turn for the better.

Some may think I'm weird for getting pleasure out of touring cemeteries fulfilling Find a Grave photo requests.  I understand that.  Some may think I don't have much of a life when I could instead be spending my time chasing after the current social scene of keeping the local restaurants in business.  But folks, this is what I enjoy doing (and Bill too). 

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Rare Photo!

Bill and Ron with Heidie at neighbors' house a few minutes ago

Hey folks!  A rare photo was just taken a few minutes ago.  Our neighbors called and asked Bill if he could help them move their couch.  I wasn't ask but I went over anyway.  I'm nosy.  I wanted to see my neighbor's new couch.

After Bill was done helping the husband move the couch (I of course was keeping the Misses entertained), Bill joined us in her living room.  Her little Yorkie was yapping, wanting to be picked up.  I picked her up and placed her in Bill's reluctant arms (which doesn't matter to Heidi the Yorkie, she LOVES Bill).  Now that I had Bill immobilized I asked Barbara (our neighbor) to snap a picture of us with her Android phone.  Here it is!

Bill doesn't like to have his picture taken.  We have very few pictures of us together.  I think the last ones were the photos my blogger friend Mark H. took this past summer when he and his spouse (Fred) visited us.  I warned Bill that we are going to have our picture taken together when we get do our Civil Union Thing (Delaware still isn't at the "married" stage yet for same sex couples, we take what we can get to protect our legal rights at least here in the state where we live).

I told Bill that I'm going to give him a Big Wet One when the ceremony is over and I'll try and get that picture published in the local paper.  He can't sleep at night now even considering the possibility that he's finally going to be outed BIGTIME!

Get ready Bill, this is just a preview.

Yes, I noticed that the picture is blurred.  Actually, that's not a bad thing at our age.  We're sort of like the old movie stars who soap up the camera lens to blur out their winkles.

President Hugs Gabby Giffords

Whatever your political persuasion few could help not to be touched by this scene last night at President Obama's State of the Union message event.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Does PSA Screening Save Lives?

Reader's Digest article from February 2012 issue

Yesterday I got into an exchange of nasty e-mails with my former classmate Jean.  Jean is the official Class Busybody who keeps all us remaining members of the Downingtown High School Class of 1959 informed of the doings, whereabouts, and who is still alive and who has died in our class.  She sends out an occasional e-mail to all surviving members of the class called "DHS Newsy."

I guess she is doing us all a service by keeping us all informed of our former classmates.  I'll admit, I am nosy and in my capacity of preparing the class reunion booklets I like to be informed to.

She sends me an e-mail last week, a few days after the death of yet another classmate asking me "How are you doing Ron?"  Of course I tell her of my Prostate Drama and my decision not to follow through with a biopsy.  You know me, Full Disclosure Ron (much to the chagrin of some of my friends and Bill).

She immediately sends me an e-mail telling me to "get your ass to your doctor and get that biopsy!"  Of course I took umbrage to her tone.  You have to know her, she is a total "I'm in charge and YOU LISTEN TO ME!"  She has done a lot of good for our class in bringing us together for reunions, which would probably never have happened without her IN CHARGE attitude.  But hey, whether I decided to get a prostate biopsy or not is NONE OF HER BUSINESS!

I haven't had the best past couple of weeks what with my cold, the gray dreary weather and the short days (lack of daylight does that to me).  So I shot her back an e-mail telling her basically to get her facts in order before she starts barking me orders.  She is one of these people who thinks she's an expert in everything.  I guess I was a little mean in pointing out to her that in this case she was NOT THE EXPERT and perhaps she should do a little reading up on PSA scores, and the dangers of getting prostate biopsies and treatment thereof before she starts her Big Mama Thing.  I told her that someone needed to tell her this.  Of course she DID NOT LIKE THIS.  She sent me a scathing e-mail back.  One of those "WELL, I NEVAH!"  Deal with it woman, deal with it.

Now wouldn't you know it, Bill comes across this article in Reader's Digest today.  I've taken it out of the magazine and scanned it into my computer.  I think you can read it.

The article says: 

"...only one in four men with a PSA between four and ten actually has prostate cancer- the rest are false positives.  And because the disease grows slowly in most cases, very few occurrences of prostate cancer are life-threatening.  In fact, less than three percent of all men will die of the disease.  Worse, the treatment for prostate cancer can cause serious side effect such as impotence and incontinence. "

The article goes on to say

"Healthy men don't need to be screened.  In October, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of health-care experts that sad vises many medical associations, concluded that the over diagnosis and over treatment that result from PSA screening outweigh the benefits.  The panel cited a 2009 European study of 182,000 men that concluded that more than 1,400 men would have to be regularly screened-and set on a path toward possible biopsies, surgeries, and anxiety as a result - to prevent a single prostate cancer death.  A similar 2009 study that followed nearly 77,000 American men for seven to ten eras found no evident that screening saves lives."

Of course every man has to make his own decision whether or not to get a PSA screening and to follow-through on biopsies and/or treatment.  I made my personal decision based on how I felt about my personal situation.  I do not and would not impose my decision on anyone else no do I want them imposing their decision on me.  So when someone tells me to "get your ass to my doctor and get a biopsy" I get mad.

Sorry lady, but you asked for it. You blast me, I blast you right back.  Something some of my friends know I am wont to do when talked to in a dismissive tone.  It's called The Tipton Temper.  It rarely makes an appearance but when it does...watch out.

Trip to the Dentist - Sticker Shock!

This morning I received a reality check why I should keep my part-time job. I visited my dentist.

My bill for filling two cavities, replacing and old filling and fixing three small chips on my bottom teeth:


Couple that bill with my bill of $121.00 for getting my teeth cleaned last week  and you have a grand total of $989.00. That is almost one thousand dollars!  That my friends is a lot of coupons.

Please don't misunderstand me, I have an excellent dentist.  For an old man (that would be me), my dentist has provided me with a pretty set of Pearlies.  And I also understand that this is what dental work goes for these days but...man oh man.  I'm still suffering from sticker shock.

Just yesterday I was talking to my long time friend who is the same age as me and is also retired about our mutual monthly living expenses.  My Social Security and three small pension checks just about keep me (and Bill) on par with our  monthly living expenses.  If it wasn't for my part-time job I would be digging into principal for those Extra Unplanned For Expenses which, as you know happen with regularity.  Even though we don't plan for these expenses in our monthly budget, they happen.

I would love to have all the money I've spent in dental expenses in my lifetime.  It would be thousands and thousands of dollars.  However, one thing I am thankful for (and I really am) is that I am in a position to afford going to an excellent dentist, even though he is VERY EXPENSIVE. (I hope he doesn't read this blog).

When I was a kid I used to fear going to the dentist because of the pain.  The dentist my Mother used to send me to never gave me any painkillers.  All that drilling was done sans novacaine.  Now there is no physical pain, not even the needle hurts now.  But man oh man, the bill sure does hurt.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ready to Fly High Again

Photo taken from our local Funland Tourist Trap this summer 

One of the really positive things about keeping and posting a blog is that I always (so far anyway) received positive and helpful comments from some of my blogger friends and followers.  I want you all to know that I appreciate all of your comments and suggestions.

The past three weeks haven't been my best.  I think a lot of it has to do with the cold I developed three weeks ago that I am just now getting over.  It didn't help that just as I was in the middle of the worst of my cold I was called into work to work almost full-time to fill in for my co-worker who had a miscarriage.

Also it didn't help that the weather has generally been gray, rainy and dreary.  Today was no exception.  It sure would be nice to see the sun again.  I see on my iPhone weather app that the sun will make an appearance tomorrow.  At least we didn't get the four inches of snow (which is still on the ground!)  my friend Larry got where he lives in upstate Delaware.  Delaware isn't a big state so "upstate" is only about 90 miles as the crow flies from Casa Tipton-Kelly.

Tomorrow morning I have a dental appointment (two cavities - at my age?  I don't have that many teeth left!)  After the appointment Bill and I will take a ride to the Union Cemetery in Georgetown.  I have FOUR Find a Grave requests to fulfill.  One of my very favorite activities, roaming around graveyards (don't ask).  Bill likes to check out the old headstones too.

Bill and fellow Find a Grave.com member Pat Sellers at Bill's family cemetery in Toccoa Georgia last spring during our Trip South last April 2011

Tonight I'm looking forward to the Republican debate in Florida.  Mitt ("Mittens") Romney is going to "get tough" (this should be fun) with Newt.  Talk about a Steel Cage Match.  Mitt will be lucky if Newt doesn't hand him his head on a platter like he did Jon King at the CNN debate in South Carolina last Friday night.

Even though it was overcast and cloudy today with spritzes of rain, Bill was outside working on digging up wire grass from our expansive backyard.  We may have another rough month to go but I do see spring on the horizon.  It is less than three months until Bill and I make our annual Trip Down South.

Ah yes, always have something to look forward to and don't let the gray, cold, windy days of Winter get you down.

Last year's tulips, they're coming back this year!

My Character Flaw

Actually I have many character flaws but here is one that has dogged me my whole life.  It is very simple:


Last night I woke up at about 2 a.m.  I couldn't get back to sleep.  I was upset.  What was I upset about?  I know I'll be mocked about this by some of my "friends" but here it is: 

I was upset about the blog that I wrote about just before I went to bed.  The blog was about my vow not to offer advice to friends anymore because they rarely if ever take it.  I vented in my blog posting which I probably shouldn't of done because I probably hurt the feelings of some of my friends (one in particular, and he knows who he is) and gave ammunition to other "friends" to further mock me for my naiveté.  

Many years ago a good friend told me "Ron, you're a nice guy.  You're intelligent, good-looking and have a good heart but you're terminally naive."  At first I didn't understand what he was saying.  I told Bill (my spouse) what my friend said.  Bill agreed with him.  I told other friends including my Mother.  They all agreed with him.  

Since that revelation about this facet of my personality I've tried to look at my life through that prism.  Sometimes I've been successful, most times not.  I keep falling into the trap of trying to help friends and people.  Usually the result is that I'm either taken for granted or not respected because I'm considered a fool.  There are some who are reading this blog right now (who I know personally) who are all too eager to point out again how naive I am even to be writing about this subject.  They take delight in telling me again how foolish and immature I am.  Those "friends" I have tried to distance myself from.  Sometimes I've been successful, sometimes not.  Usually when someone asks for help, I help.  I've been advised to say "No" sometimes.  I did that recently to a friend (former now) and I've never heard from them again,  so much for that "friend."  Again, proof of my naiveté.

I eventually did get back to sleep last night.  It wasn't a good sleep.  I wish I could be hard and callous but it is not in my character.  In the past I've been taken advantage of because of my naiveté.  Bill likes to call me "gullible."  He thinks it is an attractive trait that I have.  Maybe something good did come of my naiveté.  If I was your typical, opportunistic, selfish, grasping person I would probably be alone now in my life.  Instead I live with a person who loves me and I love him.  

So let me get through this hurdle and I'll probably return to my old gullible ways.  I'll just have to learn not to take things so personally.  I want to go back to my good night's of sleep.

The Fool on the Hill?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Don't Ask Me

I'm often asked for my advice. I am by nature a generous person and I freely give advice when asked.  I've been around a long time (70 years) and have experienced a lot.  However, I am coming to the conclusion that I am going to stop giving my advice, even when asked.  Why?  Because it is not taken.

Why should I waste my time?  I think I'm a pretty intelligent and successful person.  Anyone who knows me knows that I generally make good decisions.  In fact, I almost always make good decisions.  If I have any faults it is perhaps that I am TOO GENEROUS.  I believe it is called "Generous to a fault."

Well, I have come to the conclusion that for whatever reason, even when my advice is asked, it is ignored.  So folks, friends, please don't' ask my advice in the future.

Here are a couple of recent incidents.

  • Incident Nubmer One:  A friend of mine asked me if I knew of a handyman.  It just so happens I did.  In fact two friends asked me.  I told them of the maintenance man that works at the hotel where I work.  I even talked to the man and asked him if he was interested in working for either one of these two old gay guys.  He said he was.  I told him I would contact my friends and tell them.  That I did.  That was months ago. I even asked the maintenance man to call one of my friends to show his interest.  He did.  Still nothing.  Thus my time was wasted, the maintenance man's time was wasted and I was embarrassed.
  • Incident Number Two:  A couple of years ago a friend of mine was undergoing a breakup in his longterm relationship.  He asked my advice how to invest his share of the proceeds of his jointly owned house with his former partner.  I advised him to put it in a CD.  I said specifically NOT TO INVEST IT IN A MUTUAL FUND.  So what did he do?  He invested his money IN A MUTUAL FUND and then had the temerity to blame me when his fund lost 40% of it's value.  We didn't directly blame me but did say "I should never have listened to my friends advice to put my funds in a mutual fund."  I told him to his face "I DID NOT TELL YOU TO PUT THEM IN MUTUAL FUNDS."  He just looked at me like I stepped off a spaceship.  Apparently I didn't fit into his narrative of being the VICTIM of which he is fond of playing.  
  • Incident Number Three:  My neighbor asked my advice as to what kind of cell phone to get.  I highly recommended an iPhone.  I had already convinced her to get an iPad which she loves.  So what kind of phone does she get?  She gets an ANDROID!  Then she asks me how to use it.  I told her I didn't know how to use it nor did I wish to give myself a headache trying to figure out how to use yet another non user friendly product.  She also got a new computer.  I advised her to get an iMac.  Did she?  Oh no.  No she didn't.  She got an HP with the tower and all.  Thus she can spend the next several years with the constant upgrades and making sure her virus protection is up to date plus all the extra money she will have to spend hiring my former Computer Guy to help her out when her computer freezes up.
  • Incident Number Four:  a blogger friend blogged that he was getting a new computer.  He already has an iPhone.  He didn't ask my advice but I did offer my advice to get an iMac.  So what does his partner get?  He gets a HP computer because he says it "is more user friendly."  NOT TRUE.  Only Apple products are user friendly.  All Windows based products exists only for upgrades to keep Bill Gates the richest man in the world so he can be the big benefactor  hero (along with Melinda of course) in curing malaria in India.  
Folks, I know I'm on a rant here but sometimes it is just so frustrating to know that in an area that I know I am right, that people I know have so little respect for my opinion that they ignore it.  It doesn't make me feel good at all.  Oh I'll get over it but this is depressing. 

However, I will stop giving advice when asked and not volunteering when not asked.  I'll save myself a lot of aggravation and feeling the Victim myself.  Maybe it is me after all.

Me ascending steps at a long forgotten historic site in Montreal, Canada in 1967
an appropriate picture to symbolize me walking away from a long habit of mine offering advice to friends - my advice is rarely if ever taken so why waste my time? I'm tired of it.

Healthy Chicken Breasts

Trim fat from chicken breasts

Hi folks!  Something light this morning.  It's been awhile since I posted one of my tried and true recipes.  Here is one that I make all the time.  It is a very simple healthy recipe for cooking chicken but very tasty and elegant.

Melt 1/4 cup butter in shiny aluminum pan

This isn't my original recipe.  I discovered it many years ago (late Fifties) when my father was given a special diet by his doctor to help with his heart problems.  My father loved anything cooked in LOTS of grease, especially fried chicken.  This is a recipe for chicken (I use boneless chicken breasts) that isn't friend and doesn't use any grease.  However, it does use butter but only a minimal amount.

Place breasts in pan to cook slowly in melted butter

Here are the ingredients you need:

3 (or 4) boneless chicken breasts (or any other parts of the chicken you desire)
1/4 cup butter
1 sliced onion
salt and pepper to taste

Place one sliced onion on top of breasts

I told you it would be easy!

  • Here's what you do now.  Take a stainless steel aluminum pot (a shiny stainless steel pot seems to work best, don't ask me why it just does) and melt the 1/4 cup butter.  Be careful not to brown or burn the butter.
  • Next, place the chicken breasts in the pan.  

  • Salt and pepper the chicken breasts to your taste.
  • Place the sliced onions over top of the seasoned chicken breasts.
  • Cover the pan and cook on Low for approximately 30 to 45 minutes until the chicken begins to brown.  
  • When the bottom of the chicken has browned, turn over.  You may need to add a small amount of water to the pan to prevent burning.
  • Continue cooking until the chicken is a golden brown on both sides.

Cook breasts in butter with lid on until browned

Turn the fire off.

Turn breasts over to brown on both sides, adding water if necessary to prevent burning

Now you have a tender, tasty chicken that can be eaten as is or added to any other recipe. 

I usually eat one chicken breast with fresh al dente string beans and French Fries (yes Virginia, I eat French Fries - oven baked without the salt).  

I cool the rest of the chicken and make chicken salad with it to take to work at my nighttime hotel job.

This is ONE EASY TASTY RECIPE.  You can't miss!


Caregiver Update

  Bill with his hospice nurse last week Regular followers of this blog have no doubt noticed that I haven't been posting on a regular ba...