Thursday, December 29, 2016

My First Home and Other Non-related Musings

My Mom (pregnant with me) at their first home Mineral Springs, PA - 1941

Today is one of those days in which I cannot think of anything to write about.  Oh yes, I have THOSE days.  What do they call it?  "Writer's block?"  

I do have things I was tempted to write about but all too often I'm complaining or bitching about some perceived slight or lack of service or disrespect. But honestly folks, I do try to control my negative impulses, unlike a certain president elect we know of (mentioning no names here).

So what do I write about this Dead Week between Christmas and New Year's?  

I could write about the awful confluence of the deaths of Carrie Fisher and today Debbie Reynolds, only two days after her daughter died.  I always liked both of these women because of their authenticity and honesty. So rare these days.  Debbie and Carrie, we will miss you but your memories will always be with us.  I know that is a cliche but so true.  I'll always remember Debbie in "Singing in the Rain" and "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." So much energy and happiness.  And of course who could ever forget Princess Leia.  Rest in peace ladies.  



What I write about today is my first home.  It is pictured at the top of this blog.  That's my Mother, pregnant with me, standing in the lane to their rented ($5.00 a month), no indoor toilet nor running water, home in Mineral Springs, Pennsylvania.  Proof positive folks that I do indeed come from humble beginnings.  Literally dirt poor.

My Mother was sixteen years old at the time, rescued into marriage from a Cinderella like existence at her home with the wicked step mother.  Her name was "Margaret" and I remember her well.  One of my favorite bloggers will appreciate this, "Margaret" was of Hungarian ancestry (Soxso).  She was my grandfather's third wife (his first two died, my grandmother was his first wife and she died at age of 29 from a botched abortion).

Margaret and George (my grandfather and his third wife)

He divorced her when he found out she was unfaithful to him. In fact he came home one day and found her with another man, who he beat up, causing blood to be on the floor on the papers that covered the wet floor.  A story my Mother often told me.  I remember Margaret well.  When I was about eight years old I used to spend two weeks in the summer at their home in Compass, Pennsylvania.  

Me and my brother John in front of Aunt Mary's "bathroom" - a Two Seater

That was the first time I ever used an outhouse and lived in a house without electricity.  At night all you could hear was the ticking of the grandfather clock.  

I've forgotten a lot about my early years but I'll always remember those summers at Aunt Mary's house in the country and the smell of pine trees and the quiet of the night punctuated by the slow "tick" of her grandfather clock. 



These days, with all the turmoil in the world I often think back to those simpler days, with fondness and nostalgia. I guess it's true what my late friend The Cajun used to say about me "Ron, you live in the past."  He didn't say it in a kind way and I admit my feelings where hurt when he hurled that statement at me but I'll say this, I often get a lot of comfort thinking of my past, my wonderful past. The older I get the more I appreciate it and look forward to the day when I will have my final rest. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Whole House WIFI



Another Christmas has come and gone. Don't they seem to come around fast?  

We'll leave our abbreviated Christmas decorations up for another week.  We'll take them down after New Year's Day.  Put them away for another year.

This is the Dead Week.  Not much on TV except for rehashes of the "highlights" of the previous year, which I really don't want to be reminded of.  I know what happened.

I don't do New Year's resolutions but I do have a couple of things to get done in the new year.  One of them is to get whole house WIFI.  I thought I had whole house WIFI when I had a Computer Guy over hear last week to hard wire my WIFI.  Cost me $185.00. Doesn't work. So frustrating. 

I didn't plan it this way but my Internet (Comcast) modem is located in my home office which was the smallest bedroom at Casa Tipton-Kelly.  That bedroom is the farthest point from my bedroom which is at the exact opposite end of our house.  

I would like to stream Netflix movies in my bedroom.  I would like Internet (Bose) radio in my bedroom.  Not happening because I can't get WIFI over there.  Right now I pirate my neighbor's WIFI.  Her home office is closer to my bedroom than my home office. Nice planning Ron.

So I've tried just about everything to get whole house WIFI.  I brought TWO of those range extenders.  Didn't work.

I had the Computer Guy from work check it out and he installed a gadget behind my bedroom TV that cost $100.  Didn't work.  I got a refund.

The latest Computer Guy I had in said his "hard wire", which really isn't a hard wire but uses the house's internal wiring through another gadget he put behind the TV.  It worked at first (when he was here) but it's not working now.  This cost $185.00 including labor. 

I hate to call him and bug him but I really would like to have WIFI in my bedroom.  

One would think in this Digital Age we would have this WIFI signal thing solved.  We have the same problem at work.  Sometimes I think just about everything is snake oil.


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016



Merry Christmas everyone!

Well, here we are at yet another Christmas. 

This is a special Christmas for me because it is the first time in years that I haven't had to work Christmas Day.  

I cannot remember the last time I didn't work Christmas Day.  I have to tell you it's sort of nice.  In fact it is VERY nice.

Bill and I will spend a quiet day here at Casa Tipton-Kelly, which is just the way we like it. You could say we're spending Christmas the way you would expect two old (very old) gay men to spend Christmas Day, alone sans the kids and family. Which is just fine with us.  Not that we have anything against those who want to fill their Christmas Day with screaming little monsters kids running around the house, running into your legs. Crazy uncles (or aunts) at the dinner table ranting about their crazy assed political views.  Oh no, we don't need THAT.  

Hillbilly Christmas Dinner - the kind I USED to attend

Most of all we don't need the Christmas present exchange.  Hey, Christmas presents are fine for those who want to do it but we got out of that Christmas Trap years ago.  I send Christmas cards, which I enjoy doing very much, but that activity in addition to stringing up a couple of strands of colorful lights over the fireplace is as far as we go for celebrating Christmas.  

I discovered years ago the best thing about Christmas for the both of us is just being together and enjoying the peace and quiet.  

Peace, after all isn't that what Christmas is all about?  

Merry Christmas everyone and a very happy and HEALTHY New Year!  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Happy Birthday Mom!

My Mom Betty Hadfied Tipton with her dog "Nancy", 1963

Today would have been my Mother's 93rd birthday.  

Yes, she was a Christmas Eve Baby. 

All my life I will think of December 24th as my Mother's birthday, Christmas Eve second.

My Mother as a young girl with her two older brothers, George, Jr and Randall and her doll, which she told us that after this photo was taken they tore the head off of her doll.  Life wasn't easy for Mom. - 1928

Not to give you the life history of my Mother (which I've already done numerous times in this blog), but she had a difficult childhood. Her Mother died before she was two years old.  

My Mother looking at a photo of her Mother, the first time she saw this photo which was supplied by a cousin
She often told us that growing up her birthday present (which wasn't much, maybe an orange in a stocking) was always presented to her as "this is your Christmas present too."  Thus, I always made sure to give my Mother a separate birthday card and birthday present wrapped in birthday paper.

Mom with her granddaughters Dawn and Karen - wrapping those Christmas presents - 1976

My Mother died six years ago.  When she died I felt like I lost part of me.  We were that close for most of our lives. Oh sure, the last year of her life was difficult for her and me and my brothers when she began to lose her mental facilities and was frail and often angry.  But for most of her life she literally was the best Mom my brothers and I could have had.  

Me with Mom when things began to become difficult - but me and my brothers took care of her. We kept her out of the dreaded nursing home, unlike her two older sisters who ended up in nursing homes.  We promised her and we kept our promise.

Oh I know a lot of gay guys say that their Mom was the best but I'm telling you, I won the lottery with my Mom. 

Me with my two cousins and Mom sitting down in the center in front (in pink) visiting her older sister Jeanette (to the right in blue) in the nursing home. Mom's other other older sister (red hair with cane) also ended her time in a nursing home. Every time we visited her sister my Mom said "Don't put me in one of these."  I am standing with my cousin Elaine who is the daughter of Aunt Jeanette and my cousin Jack who was (he has since died) the sone of my Aunt Grace (the woman with the cane).  The woman sitting next to Aunt Grace is Jack's wife Arlene. Photo was taken at Simpson Meadows, Downingtown, PA 2005.  Seems like just a few years ago but it was actually eleven years ago.  All three sisters have died.

Growing up I thought all kids had Moms like we had.  When I became an adult and out into the world and made friends outside my localized sphere, I discovered not all gay guys and straight guys had wonderful moms. I have to admit I had trouble processing that information.  I just couldn't compute.  How can anyone grow up without a Mom that wasn't like mine?

Mom with "her boys", which is what she always called us - 1953
I'm reading a book now called "Hillbilly Elegy."  As you know I'm half a hillbilly (on my father's side, Mom came from Quaker stock).  The writer of the book had a terrible mother.  His father was not in the scene.  He credits his success in getting out of the depressed hillbilly culture to his grandmother, with whom who he lived.  

I credit my Mother for both my success and my two brothers' success in life.  Without her I just cannot imagine where we would be today.  

My father was in the scene but didn't really want to have anything to do with us kids.  Early on he "catted around."  My Mother didn't leave him.  She kept the family together and she laid the law down to him. 

My Mom and Dad - young and in love 1942

Unlike the protagonist in "Hillbilly Elegy", my Mother didn't leave my father and get married five times, thus creating a chaotic home life for "her boys."  We were always her first priority.  And of course she loved our father but she always made sure her boys were safe and secure.  Now that doesn't mean she spoiled us, oh no.  We weren't given allowances or showered with gifts.  Too poor for that plus she didn't believe in spoiling her boys.  But what she did do was give us a sense of responsibility and respect. And for that I am forever grateful as are my brothers.  We all loved her unconditionally, even when she became difficult at the end of her life.


Me with my brothers John and Isaac and Mom during a photo shoot appointment at J. C. Penney's - the last time all of us were together

Happy birthday Mom. You will always live in our hearts and, hopefully, one day we will be reunited again and laugh together as we often did during our wonderful, long life together.



My Mom - 1947

Friday, December 23, 2016

Aging, Not So Gracefully


My high school seniors Marching band (I'm to the far left in the back with my Sousaphone wrapped around me) and my best friend Bill B. is to the far right in the back behind his bass drum) - 1959

This post is yet another one about me facing the challenges of aging. Something I didn't give much though to when I was in my glorious youth.

This evening I called my longtime friend Bill B. (from school days) to wish him a happy birthday (his birthday is Christmas Eve).  

Our first topic of conversation (we had already agreed not to talk about Trump politics, or more accurately he warned me NOT to bring up any anti-Trump rants lest "there not be much to talk about") was our health. 

"How are you doing Bill?"  And this time I meant it. "Any falls?" "What prescriptions are you taking now?" "Who's the latest classmate to die (quite a few this year)."

You know the usual topic of conversation of 75 year old men.  Ah for those halcyon days when we used to board the band bus for those AWAY football games.  Bill played the bass drum and I played the Sousaphone

Me far left with my fellow Sousaphone players - 1957


(not tuba as many mistakenly call that spit producer I lugged around for three years in marching band).

Me and my Sousaphone - 1959

I reminded Bill that we were past our "sell by date".  We're "working on gravy now."  

For a couple old dudes, we're in pretty good spirits.  In fact, except for the aches and pains and daily medications, we're having the best times of our life.  Bill and his wife are traveling with friends.  I'm traveling with a friend (the ubiquitous "Pat" from Toronto).

Me and Pat - 2013

After I got off the phone with Bill I read my other friend Larry's blog. Larry is also an old high school friend of mine and one of my best friends during my school days until his family moved out of our school district in third grade at which time I took up with the aforementioned "Bill B" the bass drum player.  Yeah, I know I was very "easy" during my school days. 

Larry, as my regular blog followers know was recently diagnosed with ALS.  He's losing muscle control.  In his latest blog (see HERE) he described his difficult in putting on his underwear after getting out of the shower.  He writes:

"Once out of a shower, dried off in all my natural glory, I face the challenge of dressing. I lasso my toes with the leg opening of my underpants like a cowboy trying to rope a running calf. The first leg may be caught, but the other then resists capture even more ferociously."

You should see me getting out of the shower.  Well, maybe on second thought you wouldn't want to see me because I no longer possess that rock hard six pack abs but I digress.  You should see me trying to put on my underwear.  Lassoing the opening to the leg of my underwear is becoming more and more of a challenge. 


My problem isn't ALS, it's the arthritis mass that has built up on my lower back.  My orthopedic surgeon showed me that mass when he took X-Rays of my body for my leg injury.  I knew I was stiff getting up in the morning.  Oh no, not THAT "stiff" but stiff in the back.  But I didn't realize I had that much arthritis in my back. And you know what folks?  It isn't going to get any better.

A representation, NOT ME folks! I'm flabbier now but not THAT flabby

That stiffness in the morning is one reason I take a daily walk of at least two miles, weather permitting.  I at least get some of the stiffness out and can reasonably function the rest of the day.  As for the pain, it's been so gradual over the years I guess I'm used to it now.

I remember when I was a paper boy and I used to deliver the paper to this old lady who was all gnarled up with arthritis.  She was so nice.  She lived by herself at the end of a lonely road near the outskirts of the small town (Downingtown, PA) where I lived growing up.  Her hands looked like claws and she was always seated in her comfortable recliner, with a shawl around her shoulder and another on her lap.  Once I week I knocked on her door to collect my thirty cents fee for delivering her the Philadelphia Bulletin newspaper.  She always asked me to come in because she was too crippled to go to the door to let me in.  The two things I will always remember about her was she was always smiling and friendly and never complained about her constant pain.  But I could tell she was suffering.  And I wished I could do something to alleviate her pain but I couldn't but that image of her, twisted in constant pain but always smiling, has never left me in all these years.

These days facing the challenges of my aging body I frequently think back to the days when my body was young and full of energy and I didn't give a second thought to dressing after taking a shower.  When I didn't give a second thought to being careful not to fall.  

These days I think about the increasing challenges I am facing because of my arthritic body.  I fear the snow and ice and hope we get a pass this year.  But still, I fear falling.  I've already torn my quadricep muscle in my left leg.  This past November 9th, during my birthday celebration in Philadelphia I fell flat on my face just crossing the street to my friend's co-op.  All those years I lived in Philly and I never once even stumbled.  Now I live in fear of falling again.  I was just lucky I didn't break my nose and a car didn't run over me (Pat stopped the traffic as I lay in the street).  

Pitiful me after I fell flat on my face (hit my forehead hard) on 21st Street in Philadelphia

Ah yes folks, that's what I think about these days even more frequently.  And I am reminded of that old adage my favorite movie actress Bette Davis said:

"Old Age Ain't No Place for sissies!"

Tell me about it Bette.


By the way, while I was doing a Google search of images of Bette, I found I was in Bette's Google search.  What's THAT all about?


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Price is Right! Here We Come!

Me at "The Price is Right!" last year (the poor photo is a result of taking it from the TV show - I had to freeze frame to capture my two seconds of celebrity glad-handing our friend Lloyd who was called to "Come on down!"

We're going to "The Price is Right!" again this year!

The line outside CBS Television studio waiting to get into "The Price is Right!" - this is the day last year that we stood in line for about three hours. Not to worry, they do keep you entertained and the weather was beautiful that day!

I just finished printing my tickets.  We'll be on the show Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2017.  

Our "Priority Ticket" for Valentine's Day, February 14th, 2017. This guarantees us entrance to the show after waiting in line for hours - it's worth it!

This is the second year we're going. Neither one of us got called up on "The Price is Right!" stage last year by George the announcer (we were sitting near him).  We're hopeful that we'll be lucky this year and get the call to "Come on down!" Even if we don't get called, we love the experience. 

Can you spot me and Pat in the audience? That's us in the second row to the left. Pat is in a gray sweater and I'm in my custom made Dr. Spo "Parrot" shirt.  We're clapping our hands, which is what they tell us to do incessantly.  My hands were sore by the time we got out of there! We were right behind George the Announcer, who is a very nice guy by the way.

This is also the third year we (Pat and I) will be visiting Los Angeles (West Hollywood). This is our annual tradition now.

Our flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, five hours in the Tube in the Sky

Both Pat and I love Los Angeles.  Oh I know, THE TRAFFIC.  Thank goodness Pat is an excellent driver.  He's been driving in Toronto  traffic his whole life. Did I get lucky or what to have such an experienced chauffeur? 

LA Freeway traffic

I was warned the first time that I visited Los Angeles . . . . "the traffic!"  Tell me about it.  It IS A BEAR.  But with Pat's terrific driving skills and calm demeanor, the only problem we had was the time it took to traverse just a few miles from LA to Pasadena or Santa Monica.  Where I live now I'm only ten miles from Rehoboth Beach.  I can get to Rehoboth in about ten minutes.  Santa Monica and Pasadena (and Burbank) are CLOSER to where we were staying in West Hollywood but it took us at least an hour to get from point A to point B.  Yes, the freeway in LA is surely a sight to behold and experience.

Pat standing in line at the Veggie Grill in West Hollywood, our favorite "go to" place for lunch and dinner when we're staying in Hollywood - located at 8000 Sunset Boulevard, directly across from the Chateau Marmont Hotel

But you know what folks?  After we return from one of our forays into the excitement that is LA, we return to the comfort of wherever we are staying.  This year we chose an Air B n B in West Hollywood. 

Pat relaxing by the pool at the Hollywood Bed and Breakfast, where we stayed last year
 We are both looking forward to seeing our friends Nadege and Tony again, and hopefully this year to see Mike Wilson (are you reading this Mike)?  

Pat and Nadege on a palm lined street in West Hollywood, the place to be!

On this our third visit to LA, I hope to do one of those studio tours. Either Paramount, Universal or even go to Disneyland.  Come on Pat!  But whatever we do, and we do play it loosey goosey, we have a great time.  

Nadege treats us to lunch at the Veggie Grill on Sunset Boulevard

Other than our planned visit to "The Price is Right!", we have nothing set in stone in our schedule other than to reunite with our friends Nadege and Tony.  


Tony (isn't he handsome?), me and Pat at a vegan restaurant in Silver Lake (Tony's recommendation)

So here Pat and I are off to another adventure.  Maybe this time we'll be discovered by a Hollywood agent!

Pat and Ron in Lotus Land (aka Los Angeles, California)






Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Washing Machine Repair

RB Appliance Service
Arrived at Casa Tipton-Kelly to repair my washing machine

Another busy day around here at Casa Tipton-Kelly.

Our ten year old Whirlpool washing machine has been acting temperamental lately. I put the wash in, the water fills up the tub and . . . . . . . . . nothing. 

Well, as you know I am NOT mechanically inclined.  In fact I'm a real doofus when it come to ANYTHING mechanical.  

I don't know and I don't WANT to know. My talent is organization, charming personality and writer par excellence.  Well, maybe not so much of the latter (but I do like to write, witness how I can go on and on about nothing in my blog posts). 

About six months ago I noticed that I had to fiddle around with the knobs on the washing machine to get it started after the tub filled with water.  I didn't know how I got it to start chugging but I did.  Then about two months ago, when I was leaning on the lid to reach the knob I realized that I could push the lid in and the wash would start.

Thus I put off calling the 800 number for repair.  Yes, I do procrastinate. And when I do I regret it later.  

So that worked for a while, me pushing down on the lid.  Then came a time when even THAT didn't work.

I reluctantly called the 800 number listed on the lid of the washing machine.  The person I got on the other end of the line asked me my zip code (I live in southern Delaware).  He fumbled a bit, talking to himself then gave me a number of a washing machine service provider nearest to me which was in:

RHODE ISLAND!!!!!

I asked him "Are you kidding me?"  He fumbled a bit more, and said "Hmmmm, yeah."  I quickly sense that this phone call wasn't going to provide me with the help I was seeking and I hung up.  And I procrastinated again.

However, two days ago the washing machine completely stopped mid wash when Bill opened the lid. 

He called me to help.  I couldn't get it started.  Thus we had a tub load of wet clothes. What to do now?  

Bill pulled the clothes out and tried to wring them from the water as much as he could.  He wanted to ask our neighbor if we could use her washer.  We called her but she wasn't in.  

I tried to get the washer to start again.  Somehow I managed to get it started.  

Now was the time to bite the bullet and look for a appliance service person.  

I did an Internet search for a local appliance service provider.  No more calling the Whirlpool 800 number.

Guess what?  I found a local appliance service person!  I checked for reviews.  
More good news, he had all good reviews on Yelp.

That man came today.  He replaced the starter, which was the problem.  He also noticed that the rubber hoses were out of date.  They should have been replaced in 2011.

He replaced the starter and the hoses.  

He was a nice guy.

"Rick", my appliance service person

He charged a reasonable price.

I will write a very favorable review of his service.

Good news folks.  

See there, I don't always complain.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Memories



Every year at this time of Christmas I enjoy revisited my past Christmas memories.

For all my photos, I have absolutely no photos of me as a young child in front of a Christmas tree. 

There are no photos of me sitting on Santa's lap.  That's because I never sat on Santa's lap.  My parents never took us (me and my two younger brothers) to a Santa, department store or a Salvation Army Santa. That kind of tradition just wasn't in their DNA.


Brat on Santa's lap

The first Christmases I can remember was when we lived in that cockroach infested, second floor apartment ($22 a month rent) on Washington Avenue in the white trash section of Downingtown in the late 40's and early 50's.  Ironically, that apartment building is still there and it is still the white trash section of Downingtown.  And believe me, White Trash.  My father was a hillbilly, literally.  Arrived in Pennsylvania from the mountains of western North Carolina in 1929 with his eight brothers (two more born in Pennsylvania) with his hillbilly mom and pop.
  
My father (tallest man in back with hat on the left) with ten of his eleven brothers (one took the  picture)  and mother - 1939 - at the burial of their father 1939

They were starving in those mountains and migrated to south eastern Pennsylvania to his brother-in-law's farm as cheap labor.  But I digress. 

My father married up to my Mother who was descended from Pennsylvania Quakers.  Her mother died before she was two years old and she had a "Cinderella" childhood.  My father was her "Prince Charming",

Mom's "Prince Charming" - a near illiterate North Carolina hillbilly - my father


to take her out of her poor living conditions. Mom got married to my father when she was only sixteen years old.  


Cinderella - my Mom's early life was very similar to this image

My Mother's birthday was Christmas Eve. She always told me she didn't like it when her birthday was combined with Christmas ("This give is for your birthday and Christmas").



My Mom, high school Junior - 1939 - she used to run home for lunch because she didn't have any food to eat in the high school cafeteria - she often joked about her lack of food growing up later in her life - "Never had to worry about gaining weight in those days!" - 

Thus with this family background, I have set the stage for my early Christmases. 

I remember always being reminded how she only got an orange for Christmas for which she was always thankful.  So we should always be thankful for whatever we got.  

She also reminded me that "Pop's" Christmas was even more bleak.  She said he was lucky if he got through Christmas without a beating from his father, who did like to beat his eleven sons.  And beat hard, enough to leave scars on my father's back, which she often referred to. 


My hillbilly father and Mother (she's in the car) at the eight dollar a month rental cabin where they lived when they first got married. No running water or indoor plumbing - was hinging machine on the front porch. Living "high" in 1940. the happiest times of my Mother's life, which she often told me.

Now I'm not complaining about our early Christmases.  I was grateful for whatever new pair of pants or scarf I got. I don't remember any toys.  

Then came the one Christmas I got very bold and asked Santa Claus (I still believed in Santa then) for an electric train set.  I really wanted that electric train set, the one with an engine that puffed smoke. And since I was the first born son, I assumed my wish would be granted.

Come Christmas Day, we three (me and my two younger brothers) could hardly sleep Christmas Eve.  Early Christmas morning we rush to the "front room" (which is what we called our linoleum floor covered living room in our apartment where our Charlie Brown Christmas tree was displayed in resplendent splendor) to see what Santa left under the tree.  

There were the usual packages which the Christmas paper couldn't hide the fact that more underwear and pajamas were underneath.  Then we spied the BIG package.  OH NO!  There it was!

I grabbed the huge box with my ten year old hands and ripped off the Christmas paper.  

There it was!  A Lionel train set! 




I GOT MY TRAIN!

But wait, my Mother, who was observing her sons, quickly put a caveat on my Christmas present.  She said "That train is for ALL of you."  

WHAT?

How does that work?  

She said "You're all to share."

Well folks, long story short, that didn't work.  

We tried.  I took the engine and the coal car.  My middle brother Isaac took the two middle cars which included the flatbed car with logs.

By youngest brother John got the caboose. 

We split the tracks. We never did decide on how "owned" the transformer.

Needless to say this "sharing" didn't work.  I'm sure my Mother had the best intentions and our family was just too poor to afford a gift of such expense for each son.  But this just didn't work.  

My brothers and I never did use that train set.  In fact, I think I eventually walked away from it and gave the train set up to my brothers.  

I've always viewed this episode from my early life as a metaphor for my whole life. 

It's funny how a seemingly innocuous decision during one's early life affects one's future life.  

Maybe I'm wrong but I know this, my Mother's decision at that time only contributed to my life long questioning of myself "Am I good enough?"  

I think my Mother tried to make up for her mistake at a subsequent Christmas.  I wanted a camera so bad.  I think it was my next Christmas, when I was eleven years old that I got my camera.  Thus beginning a life long hobby of taking pictures. 


My brothers John and Isaac with their new Christmas presents 1954 - bikes! And my first pictures with my new Kodak Brownie camera - definitely not HD but I loved the fact that I could take photos now


There, this is just one of my Christmas memories.  I have another one (much better) which I will share tomorrow).  

By the way, the photo of bubble candles at the beginning of this blog is an image I will always associate with my early Christmases. We always had those wonderful bubble lights on our Christmas trees, no matter how sad the Christmas tree. The bubble lights always "made it Christmas."