Friday, April 29, 2016

I'm No Singer



Good morning folks!  I bet you didn't know I could sing.  Hey, I didn't either!

Yesterday I posted a sad story from my past. I have written about my relationship with "Brad" before.  Brad is gone now.  I felt like I had to bring "closure" to that chapter of my life.  I survived and for that will be forever (as long as I live) thankful. 
All of my friends featured in the movie that I posted, are also gone now.  With the exception of one friend, all of AIDS related causes.  My other friend died of Parkinson's Disease. I alone survive.  I don't know why, and I certainly don't have Survivor's Guilt, but I do know that this is the best time of my life.

This too I have written about before but it is worth repeating again.  

Here is what I have to be thankful for:


  • I live in a nice home and a great location
  • I have a happy and contented long term relationship (married now) with Bill, my spouse. Fifty two years this summer!
  • I have a good job
  • I have good health (for a 74 year old anyway, arthritis is creeping up
  • I have all the "toys" I ever wanted (mostly Apple "toys")
  • I have several really good friends (you know who you are Larry, Bill P., Don McK. and especially Pat F.)
  • I have time to enjoy what I really want to do in my life like genealogy research, gardening, taking photos, blogging, reading, and just enjoying life like getting up in the morning when I want too and taking a nap every afternoon
Perhaps most of all, for the first time in my life I have a friend who has similar interests like I do.  A friend who isn't married to someone else, who can afford to travel with me, who is good company, who laughs easily, and who is a good soul.  It took a long time but I found him. 

On this post I dug into my photo and video archives to bring out a video we took back in January of 2015 during our visit to Hollywood, California.  I have so many videos and photos I have yet to post from our first adventure in La La Land. I intend to post more of these "Ron and Pat Shows" from our various adventures. By the way, Pat is coming down this week for a week in Delaware and Philadelphia.  More "Ron and Pat Show" videos on the way!

Have a great day everyone!!!!!









Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brad

Brad in Delaware - 1980

Yesterday I received an e-mail notice that a FAG (Find a Grave) volunteer had taken photos of a grave that I had requested.

The photos were of the final resting place of  Bradley Richard Corrill of Cincinnati, Ohio.






Regular readers of this blog and those who know my history will remember the name "Brad."  

They will remember that at one time of my life I almost threw away my life because I was so in love with Brad.

A brief history:

I met Brad, or to be more accurate Brad met me at the Drury Lane Bar in center city Philadelphia in the summer of 1980.

I was still with Bill but temporarily separated.  Bill and I had sold our house in Philly before our new house was completed in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.  I had advised Bill to quite his job and stay at our new house under construction.  Bill lived in the basement while the house was being constructed.  

I leased a small apartment on Spruce Street in center city Philly for a year, until our house was completed. For the first time since I had moved in with Bill in 1965, I was on my own.  My fantasy realized, to live in center city Philly, in walking distance of not only work but the gay social life.

And that's when I met Brad.  I'll try to keep this sad story short.  I could literally write a nice sized book about that Summer of 1980.

Anyway, back to my narrative.  It was during a weekday night that I sauntered into the Drury Lane bar, a bar I never frequented.  I don't know what possessed me that night to go in but I did.

Shortly after securing my gin and tonic (my gay bar drink of choice), I saw this good-looking guy across the bar giving me The Look.

After I returned his look he came over to me and introduced himself.  I was immediately smitten.  And I don't easily become smitten.  

We had a pleasant conversation and then it came time for the "your place or my place?" question.  He said he was "staying with friends."  I later found out (much later) that he had been thrown out of where he was staying, with a bartender he had met earlier in the year when he moved from his home in Cincinnati to live happily forever.  


Me and Brad shortly after our fist meeting - the "Magic" was there

We went back to his "friends" place (for a few hours).  I told him I had an apartment and that he could stay there until he found another place.  

BIG MISTAKE.

Thus began a Summer Fling that almost ruined my life.  

Turned out that as attractive as Brad was and his helpless puppy dog demeanor, he was not interested in me at all except for a place to live.  But I was smitten.  

I don't want to speak ill of the departed but I have to say that I was tested that summer.  


A smitten Ron being protective - fool that I was


Brad was an alcoholic.  He was a drug addict.  Foolishly I thought I could "save" him.  Fool that I was.

I remember one time I got him a job interview and he not only showed up late but showed up drunk.  I was so embarrassed.

I remember the two times I took him with me on vacation to Provincetown, Massachusetts and he promptly hooked up with someone else, leaving me alone.  


Brad and I in Provincetown, Mass July 1980 - during a whale watching expedition - wine was served on this outing

I remember the times I came back to my apartment and he had someone else there who, when I asked that person who they were told me "Who are you?"  I replied "I'm the person paying rent on this apartment."  

I threw Brad out twice from my apartment only to take him back each time.  One time as I was leaving work, walking through Rittenhouse Square I passed him sitting on a bench alone.  This was about a week after the second time I threw him out of my apartment.  He said "Hi!" as I passed.  Weak willed as ever, and a sucker (no pun intended) for homeless puppies I asked him "Why are you here?"  He told me he had no place to live.  Again, I took him in.  I gave him the keys to my apartment.  

That only lasted about a week.  I came home again one day after work and again, he had someone in MY apartment.  I threw the uninvited visitor out.  Brad and I got into a loud argument.  He was drunk (or on drugs, I could never tell which).  I was shouting at him.  He kept telling me "Shut up! Shut up!"  I wouldn't.  Then he lunged towards me and threw his forearm on my neck, causing me to fall to the floor.  

I was choking.  I couldn't get my breath.  I thought I was going to die.

I began thrashing about, trying to get my breath. All I could think of was that I didn't have a chance to take a deep breath before he cut off my oxygen by his arm on my windpipe. 

In my thrashing about my left leg hit the temperature attachment on the radiator heater.  The impact of that metal attached cut my left ankle causing blood to spurt all over the floor.

Brad, realizing what he was doing, released his hold.  I gasped for breath.  

Brad kept saying "Oh I am so sorry, so sorry!"  He kept repeating himself.  

Brad was a gentle person by nature and this outburst of him and his physical attack on me was so unlike him.  I admit I was being a bitch with my shouting and anger and I would not shut up.  But he shut me up, that's for sure when he almost choked me to death.  Folks, that was the nearest I came to dying.  

After I gained my breath back I attended the blood that was flowing from my ankle.  Since it was so close to the bone, and thank goodness I didn't break my ankle, it was easy to stopped the bleeding.

That violent episode calmed us down and brought us back to reality.

I realized then and there that I had to permanently separate ourselves because no good would come of our continued relationship, such as it was.  I was still hopelessly in love with Brad he didn't feel the same way about me.  

He said at one time he did but one day "It just went away."  That was so hurtful for me to hear.  

I spent most of those summer months of 1980 trying to reignite our "magic" but it was not to be. Brad was in love with that bartender (named Jerry) and was only using me to have a place to live.  

I wanted to save Brad but there is no "saving" an alcoholic and drug addicted person.  Again, I mean no ill will towards Brad's friends and relatives but folks, this was my experience with your friend and relative.  

Brad was a nice person.  I felt like I had to protect him.  And I thought he wanted to have a life with me.  He didn't and thank goodness he didn't because if he did, then I wouldn't be with Bill now.  And what a saint Bill was, to stick with me though all that.

The next day after The Episode, I told Brad he had to leave.  I suggested that he go to his home in Cincinnati.  He had friends there and a place to live.  I gave him $100 and a one way bus ticket to Cincinnati.

Of course shortly after he left I called him.  He took my calls a few times but then stopped taking my calls.  I wrote him letters.  Long, feeling sorry for myself letters, professing my love for him and forgiveness but he never answered my letters.    I suffered greatly that summer folks, greatly.

I will always remember that Summer of 1980.  It ended with the assignation of John Lennon and the Philadelphia Phillies winning the World Series.  

That was the year I retreated from the active Gay Life.  No more intense affairs for me.  Domesticity was my life.  

A few years ago I sent out a Christmas card to Brad as well as some others I hadn't heard from in years.  Brad wrote me back.  I was surprised to hear from him.  Interestingly my "feelings" for him had disappeared.  No longer there.  No hate, just nothing.  

He suggested visiting me here in Delaware but he told me he would not stay with me and would expect me to cover his expenses.  Those days were over folks.  I didn't answer.

He did ask me one more favor.  To send him the "porn" picture that I had taken of him during one of our Provincetown visits.  I said "Sure, I would be glad too" and I did.  Said photo is below:


Brad in Provincetown - 1980

I talked to Brad on the phone, even though he was hard to understand. I asked him how his life had been since he left Philadelphia (never to ever return) in 1980.  He said it was good. He had friends and someone to take care of him, which is what he needed. 


And older Brad (on the right) with his friends his hometown Cincinnati, Ohio
I was glad to hear that.  Folks, if Brad had decided to stay with me back on that Summer in the City hot and humid August day in Philly, we would never have lasted.  Disaster would have ensued.

Instead I went on to a happy life as apparently Brad did when he returned to his hometown of Cincinnati, Ohio.  

See how fortunate I have been in my life?  I am so lucky.  

When Brad died one of his friends sent me an e-mail telling me he died.  I appreciate the kindness and thoughtfulness of his friend to show me that courtesy.  Brad must have had very good friends. 


Brad in Cincinnati - 2014

Brad is at rest now.  But you know folks, for as contentious as our brief summer fling was, it was an experience I will never forget and there was some good that came of it.  For both of us.  

I do believe life has a meaning, even though sometimes it doesn't turn out the way we expect it to.  

Seeing Brad's gravestone, or bench yesterday brought back all this flood of memories. Something I feel I should put down in writing before I depart from this earth.  

Thanks for listening to my story. (note: the three friends also featured in this video are also gone. I alone survive).


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Primary Day!

Me at Sandy Hill Greenhouse this morning after voting, the fist of my many visits this season. Favorite time of year folks!


For the first time in years, maybe decades, the presidential primary matters in the northeastern states.

For most of my adult life I was a registered Republican and lived in Pennsylvania, which has a closed primary (can only vote for the party in which you're registered).  

I've always voted.  

My first vote was in 1964 when I voted for Barry Goldwater.  

This year I voted for Hillary Clinton. 

Ah yes, the Evolution of Ron.  

I always feel good when I vote.  I take seriously my right to vote.

My polling location is the local high school.  Yes, class was in session.  So I waited until the kiddies were settled in school until I got in my red Subaru and drove down Route One to Cape Henlopen High School.

Just me and the old folks this morning voting.  Oh wait, there was one young woman who voted before me, for whom I held the door to the high school.  

I didn't have to wait too long.  I did have to show my identification (driver's license).  

I always worry they won't find my name on the rolls.  No need to worry this morning, there it was, my name.  

I signed in and was directed towards the voting booth.  

As the curtain closed I saw my choices.

Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Roque De La Fuente

"Rogue De La Fuente"?  


What?  Where was Christine "I Am Not a Witch" O'Donnell? Ah, how fleeting is fame.



After voting I headed to one of favorite nurseries, Sandy Hill greenhouse.  Spring is in bloom and I'm feeling good!





Saturday, April 23, 2016

Doing the "Elaine Dance" at Oil Can Harry's - Hot Stuff



Oil Can Harry's - Hollywood, California

Remember two years ago when I was in Los Angeles and made a total fool out of myself at Oil Can Harry's (see HERE)?  Sure you remember. 

It was "Disco Night" or "Seventies Night" or some such thing.  Pat and I had just arrived in LA after a five hour flight and then fighting the traffic from LAX to our bed and breakfast.  It was raining that night and all Pat wanted to do was rest.  However, I wanted to take a trip back in time and experience the best time of my life, disco night and dancing at a gay bar.  Some of the best days (and nights) of my life were disco dancing at various gay bars on the East Coast.  I wanted to go to that happy place again.

I talked Pat into driving me through the dark and rainy night, on the twisty Mulholland Drive, which we weren't familiar with.  We found Oil Can Harry's and lucky for us there was just one parking spot left.  Pat backed into it (always back in, makes the getaway easier).  

We entered the bar and as expected, the disco ball was sprinkling its faceted light among the dancers and lookers on.  And the music was thumping.  After we got our drinks I told Pat, "I have to go out on the dance floor."  He gives me THAT look like a parent patiently indulging a child who is about to make a very foolish decision. 



I bee bop my way out on the dance floor and am soon joined by a tank topped, muscleman with a drink in his hand and torn jeans.  Oh no, just a dance buddy, nothing more.  

I morphed into my "Elaine Dance."  Oh sure, you know what the "Elaine Dance" is don't you?  "Seinfeld?"  Check it out.





Hey folks, I did the "Elaine Dance" before Elaine did it.  Back in the 70's at the Backstreet Bar in Provincetown.  I wondered why I cleared the dance floor.  But hey, I was enjoying myself even though I always managed to clear the disco mirrored dance floor when I began by kicks and thumbs up dance gyrations.

So there I was, in the middle of the dance floor at Oil Can Harry's in LA and I make my moon walk back step and . . . . . . fall flat on my back!  

I hear a collective "OH!" from my fellow dancers as they parted the Red Sea to see if this sad 72 year old was alright.  As I lay there on the dance floor, flat on my back looking at the still rotating disco ball, I thought "This is so embarrassing!"  But at least I'll never see these people again.  

I get up off of the dance floor, on my own but not without a struggle.  My tank topped, torn jeans dance partner just stares at me in amazement as he backs away from me with his "I don't know him" move.

I summon up my "This is no big deal" attitude and casually exit the dance floor.  I asked Pat, who was videotaping a dancer whose moves he was admiring,  "Did you get that?"  He didn't!  Man oh man, that video would have went viral.  

The dance floor quickly filled in like a hand removed from a bucket of water.  It appeared that my humiliation was short-lived as my fellow dancers quickly resumed their Trip Back to the Seventies and Disco Night nostalgia trip.  Perhaps thinking, "There's just another poor old fool attempting to relive his past."  Oh well.

This past January when we returned for our annual trip to LA, Pat and I couldn't fit Oil Can Harry's into our schedule of activities.  But you know folks, I think I would like to give it a try again next year.  Especially after listening to this selection from a group called "Opiuo."  The selection is called "Slur and Giggle" which I think is appropriate for a now 75 year old Old Fool getting out on the dance floor, under the disco ball and doing my version of the Elaine Dance.  Hey folks, that's what life is about.  Having a good time and especially being able to laugh at yourself.  

This selection may not be old fuddy duddy disco but check out the beat, how can you NOT dance to this?  And this time I'll make sure Pat videos me doing my moves


Friday, April 22, 2016

Have A Great Day!

Robin in my wild cherry tree - I got rid of the tent caterpillars with his/her help!


With the beautiful spring weather we're enjoying here I just can't seem to get it together to post a proper blog entry.  Not that I don't have a lot to post about.  

I had a couple good rants to post.  One being trying to sign on to Bill's former employer's website.  They say he doesn't exist.  Well, he does and I proved it to them by producing a letter head from them with his employee number.  They're "working" on it.  Sure.  



Just yesterday a flap occurred here in our lovely homeowner's development.  At our last homeowner's meeting I suggested that we informed the homeowners not to park on the street at night.  Last month I almost ran into one of these miscreant cars whilst returning from my 3 to 11 PM hotel shift.  Last week a sign appeared at the entrance to our development that said:

Our sign was actually more tasteful.  I would have taken a picture of it but it was taken down after the first threat by a self involved homeowner.


Omigod!  The feathers that got ruffled by that sign. Last night I was reading the stream of invectives from some homeowners, who by the way never deign to actually attend the meetings, that said:

"That sign is tacky!" (actually it wasn't, it was very professional)

"Did a quorum vote on it?"  (actually we can never get a quorum vote because people like them never attend the homeowner's meeting)

Then came the threats and intimidation. 

"You could get in trouble by not following the rules set, etc."  

Oh yeah, whoever put the sign up (and it was one I suggested) could face fines and a jail term.  

GIVE.ME.A.BREAK

Well folks, as you can see I have slipped right into a rant whereas I just mean to highlight the happenings around here.  

Change of tune (so to speak).

What's with the wall to wall coverage of the death of Prince?  What am I missing here?  He's getting more coverage than Princess Di. Sure, he was very talented and a musical genius (some say) but wall to wall coverage? 

Prince

Please, tell me what I'm missing.

Then to top everything else off, yesterday our garbage disposal spring a leak.  Heck, I hardly use it.  Must be one of those MADE IN CHINA cheapies that Ryan homes installed when this house was built ten years ago.  Just last year we replaced the HVAC system (to the tune of $10,000).  Now THIS.  Bill's installing a new one now.  Maybe this one will last us until our demise. Hopefully.  We lived in our Pennsylvania house twenty five years and didn't have anything fail us like we're having here.  Sometimes it seems like a race as to what is going to fail first, us or the house and what runs it.

One good piece of news, in a week my Travel Buddy Pat From Toronto is making his quarterly visit to the US (actually I visit him at the end of August in Toronto so it's not quite a quarterly visit for him).  Pat will be here for a few days and then we'll spend a week in our favorite town, Philadelphia, PA.  It'll be refreshing to get away from the daily frustrations here, that's for sure.

Me and Travel Buddy (Pat) in Philly (on Broad Street) this past November -The Intrepid Duo


Have a great day!


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Free Hugs



No judgements here folks, but I wanted to post this video because it just made me feel good.

These days when there is so much divisiveness, anger and loss of hope, some times I just want to see something that brings out the goodness in people.  This is one of those videos.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Coping



Yesterday I got a bid from a local contractor to replace my shed roof tiles, which have been leaking.

For the past week Bill has been trying to repair a leak in his downstairs toilet.  This morning he will make his third return trip to Lowe's to return parts that are not working.

For two weeks, every day that it is not raining I poke out the tent caterpillars' tents they are building in my wild cherry tree.

I just taped up the entrances to my Purple Martin house after a determined starling made it's fifth nest.  Said starling is now trying to figure out how to get in that hole to her nest.  

Yesterday I spent about two hours raking grass from our abundant spring rain fed luxurious green .98 acres of lawn.  My back is killing me.

I have yet to spread the mulch I had delivered three weeks ago.

My project to transfer old VHS tapes to DVD has stalled, probably until fall when the cold weather descends again, forcing me inside the house.

I have to wash my car.

Tomorrow I see my doctor to arrange for my once every five year colonoscopy. Oh joy.  Five years already?

I am so far behind in my blog reading, especially of my favorite bloggers Dr. Spo, Jon, Travel Penguin, and Lar.  

Am I complaining?  Ranting? Venting? 

I don't know folks.  Tell you what though, this is what I do know.  

I continue to enjoy some of my favorite activities and pastimes. 

I read two books at one time.  One in my bathroom library and one when I go to bed.  Presently my bathroom reading is a biography of Louis lV, the Sun King by Antonio Fraser. My bedroom reading (I just completed "The Royals" by Kitty Kelly) is now "Nancy", a biography of Nancy Reagan.  Oh no, I don't read Dostoyevsky. Tried reading "The Idiot" when I was in high school.  My head still hurts from trying to understand that book.  No imperious scholar here folks.  Just good old fashion juicy tidbits of gossip reading for  your favorite blogger.

So how to I keep my sanity folks?  I look out my bedroom window like I did this morning where I can watch the robins bathing (and pooping) my the birdbaths I have provided them in my oval planter right outside my bedroom window.

I listen to the Internet radio station "Antiques Beat" on my Bose radio while I write this blog and play online Scrabble (via Facebook).  By the way, anyone who wants to play online Scrabble with me, let me know! Warning though, if you don't make your moves in the allowed time I do force forfeit.  I am a fierce competitor.

Okay, this meandering blog post is long enough.  Tell you what, take some time out to listen to one of my favorite "Antiques Beat" musical selections. 






Saturday, April 16, 2016

"It's a Disgrace"

American Legion Post 28, Millsboro, DE


Remember when the blog I posted about the theft of $641,000 in American Legion funds?  

I wrote a letter to the local newspaper stating my feeling about this disgraceful act to our local newspaper. My letter was published and I was also quoted in an article about the theft.  

I'm still in shock as to how this could have happened. Where was the leadership of the American Legion Post 28?  No financial oversight for three years? This is just incredible malfeasance on the part of the officers of this American Legion chapter.  And to think I was going to leave them money in my will.  Just one more example of you who can you trust today?

Click the link below to read the article.

http://capegazette.villagesoup.com/p/american-legion-member-its-a-disgrace/1509432


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Keeping Up


Bill and me at our neighbors' - 52 years of mutual support!


Folks, I wish I could keep up more on my blog posts. I have so much to tell and share. But there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.

For instance, this morning. Bill had a problem with his computer.  He likes his Windows based HP laptop because that is the format he is used to. As regular followers know, I worship at the alter of Apple.  I HATE, and I mean I HATE anything Windows based.  I have no choice at work. But here at home, at 87 years old I'm not going to teach Bill how to use an Apple computer.  Just don't have the time or patience for that.  

So this morning Bill was having a problem accessing his AOL e-mail.  Yes, some of us still have ancient AOL.  He could access his AOL e-mail on his iPad but not his laptop.  I know, I know - "if he's using an iPad why not get him a MacBook Pro."  I'm not going there.  I'm still teaching him how to use his iPad, this after three years.  Bill's brain is wired different than mine, okay?

So anyway, where was I going?  Oh, the whole morning is now shot and I haven't taken my walk yet.  My online Facebook Scrabble boards are behind, I just cleaned the kitchen floor and my bathroom floor (our three other bathrooms - I'll get them some other time).  

It's eleven minutes to 12 PM and I haven't taken my daily walk yet.  I feel a lot better taking my daily walk and can cover quite a distance in a shot amount of time but alas, I still have my fat roll around my middle.  I fear I will have that "life preserver" the rest of my days.  Oh well.

Where does the time go?

Bill, finally using his iPhone and I removed our landline



Monday, April 11, 2016

Who Can You Trust Anymore?



Last month both Bill and I received letters from the American Legion Post 28, of which we are members, requesting donations to fix their roof.




I thought it was an odd request since the American Legion Post 28 is the fourth largest American Legion in the United States.  Whenever we're down there (we only go to put our name on a ledger to reserve a ride to the Veterans Medical Center in Wilmington - we would spend more time at their facility in Millsboro but smoking is permitted on the premises because they are a private club and we can't take the second hand smoke) we note that the parking lot if full and the facility itself is full, with veterans' playing pool, hanging out at the bar (yes Virginia, veterans hang out at the bar at even 10 AM in the morning - private club don't you know), and eating at their restaurant facilities.


Photo I took of the American Legion Post the time I tripped on that yellow strip and fractured my arm. 


I correctly assumed that this American Legion post was flush with money.  They have several fund raisers during the year.  Our membership costs $39 a year.  And, they have gambling on the premises and you know that the house always wins when there is gambling.

So it was with some puzzlement that I read this letter from the American Legion begging for money.  What really caught my eye was the sentence:

"The why of the lack of funds is not important at this point."

WTF? (excuse the French)

My first thought was someone has embezzled money from the American Legion. This coming from me who adult working career was accounting and control in the trust department of several different banks.  Yes, I was the guy who made sure the debits and credits matched.  My last jobs at several different banks I was brought in as a consultant to reconcile out of balance situations.  And in doing so I often uncovered "sticky fingers" that took advantage of those out of balance situations.  So of course my first thought reading "The why of the lack of funds is not important at this point."  

SOMEONE STOLE THEIR MONEY.

Yesterday, while I was on the computer, Bill appeared at my home office door with his iPad and said "Look at this Ron."  Of course I was irritated being interrupted from my online Scrabble game but these days I try to be more patient, as people are often patient with me.

This is what I saw on Bill's iPad:



Yep. Five officers of the American Legion Post 28 were charged with STEALING $641,000!

WTF?

Actually, there were six of them stealing, one has since died after stealing $218,040.  

Folks, I cannot emphasize enough how disappointed I am in this development.  Actually I was sick to my stomach when I read it.  With all the thievery going on today; from the top 1% taking even more from the rapidly disappearing middle class, to lying politicians, to identity thieves, to our outrageously expensive medical system, to harassment by telemarketing calls, to . . . . . . well, so much more.  The one institution I could count on was the American Legion, especially this American Legion post which gave us free rides (Bill and I always paid them anyway) to the VA in Wilmington

I am reminded of that old Johnny Carson/Ed McMahon show before Johnny hit it big time with the "Tonight Show."

"Who Do You Trust?"

Note:

Header photo on this blog Bill took of me butching it up by the tank outside the American Legion Post 28 last summer

Sunday, April 10, 2016

My First Public Exposure

Ryan Gosling and Steve Carell in the infamous scene from their movie "Crazy, Stupid Love."

A long time ago, a young Ron Tipton joined a stamp club.  

The year was 1953.  

I was an innocent (yes, at one time I was "innocent") 12 years of age.

It was my first year in high school.  Junior High to be exact.  I think in these politically correct days "Junior High" is called "Middle School", lest we traumatize young 12 year old minds that they are "less" than their senior high school classmates.

Oh how well I remember my traumatization of entering high school.  My biggest fears were gym and taking showers NAKED.  Yes folks, I was scared shitless.  But I'll always remember what my gym teacher, Mr. White, told us during our first gym class (before the showers).  He said (and I am paraphrasing here):

"I know a lot of you are afraid to take showers with the other boys.  Well, I'll tell you right now they all LOOK ALIKE."  

And of course we all knew what he meant by "they."  He's talking about that male anatomy appendage, the penis.  

Folks, going from elementary school (grades one through six) to high school was a major life change for me and many other 12 year old boys.  Not only were we on the threshold of our teenage years, we were literally losing a major part of our innocence. 

Check out the photo in the header of this blog.  I am on the far right (with my name over my head), the boy with the rolled up jeans.  Back in those days I was growing in leaps and bounds, thus my Mother brought me "expandable" jeans.  By the way, the photo I took from my former classmate and long time friend Larry ("Lar") Meredith.  "War" is third from the left in the back with a circle over his head "Lem".


1953-54 Stamp Club Downingtown High School

So back to my first big "exposure."  After Mr. White had his "talk" with his bunch of Nellie Boys, we had our gym period class.  Don't ask me what we did, I was too preoccupied about the Big Moment.  That "Big Moment" was after our physical activity and we all ran back to the funky smelling gym to take our showers. 

Nervously, I went to my gym basket where we had stashed our school clothes after we changed into gym shorts. By the way, those white gym shorts were very cute.  I guess the kids these days wear the ultra silky and baggy NBA type "shorts."  Not sexy at all. 

I pulled off my white T-shirt and white shorts (all white in those days folks) and my white socks, not daring to look around at me.  Then I shakily walked towards the sounds of the rushing shower water pounding on the funky tiles of the HUGE shower room.  No individual stalls here folks like I heard they had in the girls showers.

Well, my first impression was that I was overwhelmed by all the nakedness.  With two younger brothers and a father who like to lounge around the house in his sweaty tank top and greasy gray (formerly white) jockey short (no "tightie whitie for Pop here folks), I was no stranger to seeing a penis other than mine.  But to see so many all at once.  OVERWHELMING. 

And you know something folks?  Mr. White was wrong.  They don't all look alike.  In fact, everyone was different.  No two were the same. Penises and fingerprints, all different. Mr. White lied.  I know, I looked.  And looked. In fact, for the next six years I looked. 

Shocked?  Well, don't be.  Just imagine if you were a young heterosexual 12 year old and you were taking showers with the opposite sex, wouldn't you do some ogling too? Sure you would.   I'm telling you folks, this was one time being a homosexual where I had an advantage.  Nice.

By the way, I started this blog posting about my stamp club membership.  I was reminded of that occasion by the picture my friend Lar had posted on his blog of our stamp club membership.  Maybe I'll do a posting about that subject next time.  

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Good Commercials - Bad Commercials



I hate commercials.  Ads and commercials are the ban of my life. 

I've cancelled magazine subscriptions because of the obscene overload of ads (Vanity Fair). 

I DVR almost all of my TV shows so I can fast forward through commercials. 

Every year there is one commercials that particularly grates on me.  A commercial that make my blood boil because of the phoniness of it.  One such commercial is the one at the beginning of this blog.  It is a commercial for Ameriprise Financial.  

The first time I heard it, with the Rod McKuen voiced singer, I hated it.  

Then I looked at the images of the commercial.  All phony crapola.  

I looked up the name of the singer (on my Shazam app on my trusty iPhone) and came up with someone I never heard of: "Jake Reese."  

I did a little more research and not surprisingly I find that "Jake Reese" is a phony.  His real name is  "Jaap Reesma" and he is from The Netherlands.  Not that there is anything wrong with being Dutch and having that unusual name but come one, "Jake Reese"?  He's phony and he sings a phony song.

"I've been a poor man, I've been a king."  Oh no you haven't. I revile everything about this man, his music and the images in the commercial.  Every time the commercial comes on I lunge for my remote control to press the mute button or fast forward. 

I CANNOT STAND THIS COMMERCIAL.

Now, recently another financial company, Chase Bank started to run a commercial.  Now this commercial I love.  I LOVE THIS COMMERCIAL.

Check it out.  Watching and listening to this commercial makes you feel good and there is nothing phony about it.  To me the message in this commercial is going all the way for your daughter.  The music background is perfect. 

"What a Man."  Indeed, what a man and what a commercial. There is more quality acting and more said in this one minute commercial than many two hour movies.  


Can I hear an "Amen"?


Friday, April 08, 2016

Renovations Complete!

Happy at work last night - like the new curtain?


Regular followers of this blog know that I work part-time as a front desk agent at a boutique hotel in Lewes, Delaware.

For the past two months the hotel where I work has been undergoing total (ceilings - no more popcorn ceilings - to floors to toilets) renovations.  

To say working at the hotel during the renovations has been an inconvenience would be an understatement.  But you know me, I'm easily inconvenienced (fussbudget that I am). 

Yesterday, when I returned to work was welcomed by the final phase, the renovation of the front desk area.  Ah, the smell of new carpets, manna from Heaven. 


Newly renovated hotel lobby at the hotel where I work

I am SO LUCKY to still be able to work, albeit part-time.  And the icing on the cake is that I work at this top-notch hotel in thee visitor destination, Lewes, Delaware.  

As I had stated earlier in this posting, I am a fuss budget.  I'm a clean freak.  I am a PAIN IN THE YOU KNOW WHERE.  I wouldn't work at a hotel that I wouldn't stay myself.  Of course I can't afford to stay at the hotel where I work.  The only exception being when I'm snowed in and that has happened twice, and believe me I luxuriated in that king sized bed with the fantastic water view.

So folks, with all the bad that is happening in the world.  With all my aging issues. With all my constant battles fighting tent worms in my wild cherry tree and starlings building nests in my Purple Martin house. I am happy to report that I work at a fabulous place.  

Good things happen to good people hotels.  


Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Medical Update

Me waiting for my doctor at the VA Outpatient Clinic this morning


Just returned from my six month checkup at theVA Outpatient Clinic.  

I have "labs" taken every six months.  "Labs" are a blood test.  This is how my prostate cancer was discovered three years ago.  Just think, if I wasn't on a six month regimen of labs, I wouldn't have known of my growing prostate cancer until it was too late. Thank God for the VA.  

Three years ago I had radio active seed implants in my prostate gland to eliminate that growing cancer. Other than some continuing and annoying side effects (don't ask, you don't want to know), my prostate cancer has not returned.

Thus every six months I approach these consultations with my doctor reviewing the results of my blood tests.  This morning was no exception. 

Good news folks!  My PSA score has not gone up! I'm cancer free.  

Cancer survivor here.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Every Have One of THOSE Mornings?

Bill cleaning the corrosion off the battery tip points


Oh yes, I'm sure many of you know what I'm talking about when I say I had one of THOSE mornings.  

Here it is, almost 12 noon and I just wasted spent most of the morning straightening out one of those 
"snowball" problems.  You know what I mean by "snowball", like a small snowball rolling down a snow covered hill that grows and grows until that snowball is boulder size and crashes at the bottom of the hill?

So here is what happened this morning folks.  I got a notice yesterday that my AAA membership automatic renewal needed an update on my credit card.  Innocuous enough, right? Yeah, that's what I thought too.

So the credit card I use for my AAA membership is locked up in my safe.  Why do I use that credit card and not my usual Master Card and/or Discover card?  Well, because it says "AAA" on the card, it's a VISA (my last backup card in case both my others don't work) and I only use it for renewing my annual membership.  I don't carry that card with me since I only use it once a year.

So I go bopping downstairs to the safe.  I try to enter the number for the electronic device that opens the safe.  Nothing. NADA. 

Yep, the batteries are gone.  Great.  Didn't I just replace those batteries?  Yes, I did.

The last time I tried to open that safe, it didn't work either because there was such a long period that I had opened the safe that the batteries had corroded. Wow, that sentence didn't seem right but I'm a bit stressed out this morning so I'll let it go.

First thing I do is try to get the unit off that contains the batteries.  

I can't get it off.  The screw that is holding the unit is on the bottom (of course, American design why would they - Sentry Safe - make it easy?)  

Phillips head or flat head?  Dunno.  I try both. Neither works.

Time to call my live in handyman, Bill.  Otherwise known as my husband/spouse/partner/roommate (yeah) and whatever.  

He manages to get the unit off (Phillips head).  He sees that the corrosion is on the heads where the batteries touch.  

Hey, isn't this narrative interesting?  Yeah, I thought so too but I have to get this off of my chest.  

Bill takes the whole unit out and cleans it up.

I get on the Internet and pull up my AAA account, wondering why they have my very old credit card, because last year they charged the right credit card. 

I can't sign in.  See where I'm going with this folks? 

So I go through the routine of checking the box "I forgot my password."  Well folks, I won't bore you with all the hoops I had to jump through here but suffice it to say that the name of my first pet is now again out there in the worldwide web.  I know that name will come back to haunt me someday.  

I assign myself a new passcode and get into my account.  Sure enough, they have my current credit card but they need an expiration date.  I can't get into the safe to get it then I remember, "didn't I put that credit card in another safe?"  I check and darn if I didn't.  

I retrieve the credit card and enter the current credit card number and expiration date and, this is important, the "code".  Viola!

Back downstairs and Bill is still working on the unit with the batteries for the safe.  He's totally stressed now.  Hey folks, it doesn't take too much to stress out an 87 year old and 74 year old, especially two old gay men who are creaking around the house and losing their brain cells daily.

We have a few more "words" (Bill wants me out of there).  I saw that Bill put a different screw back on the battery unit.  Being the anal pain in the ass (no pun intended) that I am, I insist that he use the same screw (hey, another unintended pun, what is it with the English language anyway?)

I had taken the screw because I didn't want him to lose it.  Anyway, he took off the old screw and put on the screw that came with the unit.  


Bill putting the unit back on the safe with the "right" screw

All is done now and it's time to go food shopping on this cold and windy Sunday.  Whatever happened to Spring anyway?  

Of course I couldn't update my Scrabble boards on Facebook, thus causing angst with some of my fellow Scrabble players who probably think I'm still in bed.  HA!  

Folks, it's been one of those days. Time to destress. 

"Destress" . . . is that even a word?

Friday, April 01, 2016

Lunch at the Marathon Grill, Philadelphia, PA

Me and Tom at the Marathon Grill April 1, 1994 - my last day at my job in Philly


Still here folks!  I just got back from a three day visit to Philly yesterday.  And yes, I had a fabulous time.  I love Philly.

So much to talk about but short of time this morning folks.  So I'll just post about my reuniting with my former co-worker and friend Tom J.

Twenty-two years ago today, April 1, 1994; I quit my job at the First Fidelity Bank in center city Philadelphia.  Tom took me to lunch at the Marathon Grill on South 16th Street in Philadelphia.  

This past Tuesday I was eating breakfast at the Marathon.  I was seated at my favorite table by the window watching the lemming workers going to work.  Something seemed very familiar about sitting next to that wall of glass watching all the activity outside on 16th Street and then it hit me.  Almost exactly to the date, twenty-two years ago I was seated at this very same location (different table) with my co-worker and friend Tom J.  I asked the waitress to take a photo of me at this table.


Me seated at the "window" table at the Marathon Grill by S. 16th Street, Philadelphia, PA
Then I had a great idea (as I am often do, humble me admits).  I called Tom and asked him if he would like to have lunch at the Marathon.  He said he would and we met the next day.  


Me and Tom at a booth at the Marathon Grill (all the window seats were taken during lunch hour this day) March 29, 2016
After lunch we walked up 16th Street to Liberty Place to meet another co-worker who is still working at the bank!  Wow, I cannot imagine me still working in Philly twenty-two years later.  


Tom J. and Jim O., both former co-workers at the bank (Jim still works there!)

I made the decision to leave my job (I didn't have another job) at the bank and Philly because I just had enough of city living.  I wanted a more interesting life other than just "working for The Man."  And man oh man, have I ever had an interesting life since I left that job and working in center city Philly.  

Of course we all make our own decisions according to what we believe will enhance the quality of our life.  Tom retired early at 48 years of age. Tom he made a lot of money after he left his job several years later by going into business for himself and then selling that business to Boston Scientific.  Me? I began an odyssey that continues to this day.  Do I have any regrets about quitting my job?  Oh no.  OH NO!  Do I have other life regrets?  Oh sure.  OH SURE.  

These days I like to visit Philly.  Philly has changed a lot.  It's actually a happening city now.  No longer are the streets deserted when the office workers leave at 5 PM.  Now there is a thriving and vibrant pulse of activity in center city Philly.  Philly is fun.

Next month I return.  Travel Buddy Pat is coming down from Toronto.  More adventure awaits.  And yes, I'll ask Tom to join us for lunch at the Marathon.

Don, me and Pat at the Marathon Grill December 3, 2015 Philadelphia, PA