Friday, September 27, 2019

Flu Shot

Whose the guy with the skinny arms and haggard face. That's me!

Bill and I got our annual flu shot today.  

We get our flu shots at the Veterans Administration Outpatient clinic in Georgetown, Delaware. 

We were notified last month the flu shots would be available today from 1 pm to 3 pm.  Yes, right in the middle of my midday nap.  

I took an early lunch then took myself and Bill for the eleven mile (one way) trip to the Veterans Administration Outpatient clinic.  Yes, in the heavy midday traffic which I try to avoid.

Upon arriving at the clinic we immediately noticed that the parking lot was full.  Oh uh, looks like a long wait. 

We entered the clinic and there they were, all us old vets wandering around in confusion.  

I asked one vet what was going on.  He said "They're out of flu vaccine already. You have too get an authorization sheet to get  your shot at Walgreen's."  Okay.  This sounds familiar.  Same thing happened last year.  

We loaded ourselves back in my Subaru Forester and drove to Walgreens, which thankfully was nearby.  

An hour later, after filling out paperwork to have the VA pay for the flu shot, we got our shot.  

Afternoon shot, but hopefully we won't get the flu again this year as has happened the past several years.  

For all of those who are wondering, is this what government health care would look like?  Sad to say, probably. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Happy Birthday Bill!

Bill Kelly, Johnson Air Force Base, Tokyo, Japan 1951

Today is a very special day. Today is the love of my life's 91st birthday!

Happy birthday Billy!

Bill Kelly, Philadelphia PA 1976
The past 55 years have been the best of my life and that is because of you Bill! Thank you with all my love.


Friday, September 20, 2019

Ron Rides His Bike

Me, around 12 years old on my paper boy bike (the only picture I have of me on that sturdy bike)  1954

My first bicycle ride was when I was about ten years old. My Mom got me a paperboy job and I needed a bike to deliver those newspapers. 

I have very few pictures of my first bike unfortunately - this one taken by my brother Christmas Day 1954

I never had trouble riding a bike when I was that age. I was a paperboy for five years, quitting when I was fifteen years old because I thought I was too old to ride a bike. That notion seems quaint now doesn't it but back in the Fifties, only kids rode bikes. Adults didn't ride bikes. Oh sure, I saw those newsreels of adult Europeans and Asians riding bikes but hey, they were too poor to own cars.

My trusty paperboy bike 1954

From fifteen years old to my forties I didn't ride a bike. I had no need to. 

Then came a time when I lived in center city Philadelphia and bike riding by adults because socially acceptable. I bought a bike.  Most weekends weather permitting I would ride my bike from our townhouse in center city Philly to the Art Museum and do the Kelly Drive Loop. I thought nothing of the traffic I had to ride through to get to the Art Museum.  And oh how I enjoyed riding my bike on Kelly Drive around the Schuylkill River. Great exercise and the feeling of freedom one gets riding one's bike.

Me riding from Art Museum Philadelphia, PA 1976

Four four years (1976 to 1980) I regularly rode my bike in center city Philadelphia. When I vacationed every summer in Provincetown, Mass. 

Me in Provincetown, Mass taking a break from riding the National Seashore Bike Trail - 1980

I always rented a bike for my whole stay. However, when we moved out of Philadelphia to East Brandywine Township on our 7.875 parcel of hillside wooded land, I no longer had the need of a bicycle. I sold my bicycle to my boss.

Then we moved to Delaware. Nice, flat Delaware. About three years ago I saw an ad on the NextDoor app on my iPhone for a bicycle for sale. I responded to the ad to discover my neighbor right around the corner was selling his bike. I went down to take a look and a test drive and bought it for one hundred dollars.

After almost forty years I resumed riding a bike. Only now I was doing it with a much older body, an arthritic body. 

It wasn't too long until I fell off of my bike, seriously bruising the one on my lower left leg. Thank God I didn't break my leg. 

I was now unsteady on my bike. No longer was I the limber teenager or thirty-seven year old man hopping on my bike and hopping off with ease. Now I had to gingerly swing my leg over the bicycle seat to astride my bike. Once on my bike I'l all right but if a vehicle goes by too closely to me I'm afraid I'll lose my balance. I no longer have the confidence I had when I was much younger. The reason for that is that my arthritis (lower back, neck, hands) prevents me.  

But you know what folks, I'm still riding. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Slideshow of 2019 Annual Trip to Canada

Here it is folks! The slideshow you all have been waiting for, my annual trip to Canada to visit my friend Pat and his friends. 

I think this is my fifth annual trip.  I always go at the end of summer. 

My first two trips were to Pat's former home in Toronto. 

These last three trips are to Pat's new home in downtown Hamilton, Ontario. Pat lives in a classic historic hotel that is being converted into luxury condominiums. 

I fly into Buffalo, New York (once I flew into Pierson International in Toronto, NEVER AGAIN) where Pat picks me up. First we stop at Wegmans (oh how I miss Wegmans) for lunch.

Then we go over the border into Canada. 

When we arrived in Hamilton we attended a condo warming of Pat's friends Verna and Sharon, who had just purchased a penthouse condo right above Pat's junior penthouse condo. 

The rest of the week during my visit was very productive.  We visited "Harold, the Dancing Man" who was in the hospital after surgery. Harold is a very nice man.  I was privileged to meet him. Hard to believe he is 87 years old and does all that dancing. Perhaps you saw my movie "Hamilton Dancing Guy" that I produced of a compilation of videos that Pat surreptitiously took of Harold dancing last summer. Unfortunately I didn't get to see Harold dancing in person this time.

Pat and I also visited Pat's favorite restaurants, vegan and carnivore. 

We also witnessed a gigantic tanker arrive at the fabled Hamilton steel mills.  Pat always wanted to see the "drawbridge" on the canal raise.  We saw it.  Very impressive.

Too soon my Canadian holiday was over and Pat drove me over the Canadian border back to the US via Buffalo.  Again we stopped in Wegmans for lunch and I was on my way home. 

Next up I meet Pat in Philadelphia for our annual Christmas stay at my friend Don's co-op in center city Philly. Then in only two short months Pat and I will take off to balmy Palm Springs, California in February.  

My one regret of this trip is that I didn't get to see Harold, The Dancing Guy in Hamilton, dance in person. He is the gentleman Pat and I visited in the hospital. He was recovering from surgery and wasn't able to do any dancing this trip. However, we did meet several of his friends who he has inspired by his free hearted dancing. Harold is truly an amazing guy, hard to believe he is 87 years old! I hope to see him dance in person next year when I visit. Below is an example of his dancing prowess. Enjoy as Harold enjoys life and as I try to every day.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Howard's List

Friends Tommy, Howard and me a few years back at a reunion after thirty years

Time for a new list folks! This one from my friend Howard of Laurel Delaware.  


1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? 
Homemade rum cake

2. Do you sleep naked ?

3. Worst physical pain you ever experienced? 
Kidney stones, many times. Lost count. Wanted to die.

4. Favorite place you have been? 
Palm Springs, California - also Provincetown, Mass

Me, Palm Springs California 2017
Me, Proncincetown, Mass 1980

5. How late did you stay up last night? 
About one o'clock 

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would you move to? 
Palm Springs, California
7. Which of your Facebook friends lives closest to you? 
Neighbor Barbara, right next door

8. When was the last time you cried? 
When my Pomeranian Horace died - 1998 - I don't cry but I did then

9. Who took your profile pic? 
Barbara, my next door neighbor

10. Two of your top movies. 
Fracture, The Letter.

11. What's your favorite season? 

Autumn at our former Pennsylvania home
13. If you could talk to ANYONE right now, who would it be? 
Bret Climo

14. Are you a good influence? 
Without a doubt 

15. Does pineapple belong on pizza? 
Uh, NO!.

16. You have the remote, what show would you have it on? 
Rachel Maddow

17. Three people who you think will play? 
Don't understand the question

18. First concert you attended? 
Brasil 66 first and last - only attended one concert in my life

19. Favorite food. 
NOT seafood, hummus
20. When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Women's fashion designer

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Another One Bits the Dust

John Hannum Tipton, U.S. Army Paratropper 1942

One of the most significant things about being as old as I am is that I get to experience the loss (deaths) of so many folks I know. Oh sure, all during my long life I have experienced death.

The first death I experienced was my Uncle John Tipton who died in 1961.  He accidentally burned himself to death at thirty nine years of age. His death was significant to me in several ways.  Of my father's ten brothers he was my favorite.  He didn't treat me like a child. He always had a friendly wink for me and smile when he saw me. Not only was he my favorite uncle but he was the favorite of all of my thirty-six first cousins. His death was ironic because he had survived World War II as a prisoner of war. He had escaped twice from a German POW camp only to be recaptured twice.  His mother (my grandmother) died two months before the end of the war thinking he had died in combat (he was a paratrooper).  After the war was over he was released from the Austrian castle where he and other POW's were held by the Germans. 

My Uncle John was a painter, a sign painter. He was working at Gindy Trailer's with my father and several of his brothers when a discarded cigarette caught his turpentine soaked overalls on fire. His co-workers tried to put out the fire by rolling my uncle on the ground but it was too late. My uncle didn't die right away but he had third degree burns over most of his body. I was in the Army at the time and on the firing range when I got to call to go home and see my uncle before he died. I remember visiting him at the Crozer Burn Center in Chester, Pennsylvania along with several of my cousins.  He was wrapped up like a mummy with only slit openings for his eyes, mouth and nose. I think he recognized us but he was so doped up with painkillers all he could do was moan. He died several days later. My two brothers and I, all of us in the Army at the time, were he pallbearers. 

I remember looking at his body in his open casket. First thing I noticed was his hair was combed wrong. It was parted on the side. Uncle John never parted his hair on the side. The other thing I noticed was even though there was this waxen body in a casket, it wasn't my Uncle John. "He" wasn't there anymore. There might as well been his overcoat in the casket because the warm, smiling Uncle John I knew he always gave me a friendly wink was gone. 

Since that September date in 1961 I have been to several more funerals. Some open casket (both my parents) and closed casket. I go to honor the deceased living survivors. The deceased is no longer there. Whatever spirit inhabited that shell of a body has long gone.  Who knows where?  Maybe we'll find out someday.

Lately, these past few years I have been experiencing quite a few deaths. The latest being the kind neighbor who lives several houses down from me who used to take me to the airport and Philadelphia.  His wife texted me Sunday night that he had passed away.  I knew he was deathly ill, because he had stopped taking me to Philly a couple of years ago because he was too ill from his chemotherapy treatments for his melanoma. I remember the first time he drove me to the Philly airport and he told me he was undergoing treatment for melanoma.  I  didn't know what to say.  He said "You don't have so say anything, it's just something I have to deal with."  In subsequent rides he would tell me of his treatments at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He was hopeful. Then last year he told me his cancer had spread to his brain. 

We didn't always talk about his cancer. It was just part of many things we talked about during our two plus hour drive to Philly, either the airport or Center City Philly.  "Bill" (his name, I will leave his last name out of respect for privacy for his family) was a retired music teacher, boys hockey coach and airplane enthusiast, although he couldn't fly anymore because of his cancer diagnosis.

Bill was great company plus he was an anti Trumper just like me. Oh God how I hate taking these drives with Trumpers, which I did once and almost asked him to let me out of his SUV when he started to rant on Hillary.

I didn't know Bill that well but I knew him enough to know that he was a kind and generous gentleman especially that time my flight was two hours late because of rain.  Poor Bill, riding around Philly airport having to pee so bad he drove to Newark Delaware just to relieve himself. I gave him an extra $25 and treated him to his favorite milk shake at McDonalds.

Bill, my ride to Philly

The last time I saw Bill he had lost a lot of weight due to his chemotherapy treatments. I kidded him that that was a heck of a way to lose weight. He said "I'm at my weight when I was a teenager."  

The next time I called him he was too sick to take me to Philly.  I occasionally texted him to see how he was doing but I suspected he was failing. I'm not good at knowing what to say at times like this but I did want him to know I was thinking of him which he said he appreciated. 

Still, when I received the text from his wife that he had passed a stab of sadness hit me right in the heart.  Bill was only sixty years old. Too young.

Tomorrow I call my youngest brother has been seriously ill for the past year.  I have to let him know that I am thinking of him. 

Since I moved to Delaware my best friend and the reason I knew about Delaware and moved to Delaware has died. His name was Bob. My lifelong good friend Ed died. Wayne "The Cajun" died. Other friends like Al, Jay and Bart have died. 

I miss them all. One day I will die and I will no longer miss anyone.  As my brother John said when he informed me of his health problems "We all get our turn Ronnie".  And indeed we do.

In the meantime I intend to make every day count. Next trip, Philly a week before Christmas with who else but Pat. Then in February we spend two weeks in Palm Springs. 

I'm older and stiffer and tend to fall a lot but as long as I can put one foot in front of the other and keep moving I intend to keep on living dancing.

Sunday, September 08, 2019

Humpty Dumpty Falls Again

None of my quarterly adventures with Pat is complete without a fall.  

During my recent stay in Canada with my Canadian Travel Buddy Pat, I had a couple close calls but didn't actually fall until we visited a bar with a live band.

Pat took me to Port Dover, Ontario to visit his friends Paul and Deb and their new house (which was lovely).  After having dinner at Paul and Deb's we topped off the night by visiting a local bar with a live band.  The place was the Norfolk Tavern and the band was the Jack Sith band.  

The band was great! 

I had a ringside seat to listen and videotape the band and the dancing. I even danced later (a video of which I will post in a future blog post).  

While videotaping Pat and Deb dancing, I attempted to stand up to get a better view of Pat and Deb which was being obscured by a blonde dancing in front of them. As I stood up I lost my balance and fell backwards into the crowd behind me.  You can see my tall chair hit the floor. I almost hit the floor but was saved from injury by a shaved head burly man who placed his hands under my shoulder blades and lifted me back up.  You can hear me yelp.  SO EMBARRASSING!  

Thank goodness he caught me just before I hit the floor. Of course my iPhone was running the whole time and captured the sounds of my humiliation if not the video.  It's a shame someone didn't video me falling, that would have been a You Tube "moment" for sure.

I continued to video tape Pat and Deb dancing and stayed in my seat, still so embarrassed.  

Thank goodness I didn't injure myself and thank goodness that man's quick thinking. I was lucky this time. 

I have to admit that it is funny listening to this video though even though at the time it wasn't so funny. 

More adventures coming.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Back Home From Canada!

Pat and I at the Relay coffee shop in downtown Hamilton, one of Pat's daily hangouts. They make a great mocha coffee!

I'm back home from my annual weekly end of summer trip to Canada! 

Obviously I was having such a good time I didn't have time to keep all of you, my faithful blog followers all these years of my daily activities. Heck, I hardly had time to update my daily journal.

So how was my week in Canada?  In one word GREAT!  

Pat is the perfect host. As some of you may know Pat's condo is in a converted downtown historic hotel. Pat lives in an ultra modern and minimalistic 568 square feet one bedroom unit. Small but still spacious with lots of light. Actually a whole wall of windows from his 14th floor condo overlooking downtown Hamilton.

During my stay we at out every day save one. Hamilton has many new restaurants which we sample. All the restaurants are good but I was disappointed with the Indian Nepalese restaurant which was a bit too spicy for me this time.  I like Indian food but not real spicy. Pat liked it though so we boxed up that spicy cauliflower for Pat to eat later.

We met up with Harold, the Hamilton Dancing Guy who was in the hospital recovering from surgery. What a gentleman, a pleasure to meet him in person. 

Pat and Harold at St. Joseph's Hospital - Harold was being discharged this day
Harold told us he'll be back dancing as soon as he convalesces

I finally got to meet some of Pat's friends. We traveled out to their new home in Port Dover. Traveling the Canadian countryside reminded me of the days when I was a young child and my father would take our family out for Sunday rides in the country. There is no "country" in the Pennsylvania countryside today.  That hour ride to Pat's friend's new house (they just moved in) through the rural Canadian countryside was such a pleasure. 

Pat's friends Paul and Deb welcomed us to their new house.  Took us on the mandatory tour. After a wonderful dinner (we inaugurated their new dining room table) we topped off the night by a visit to a nearby bar with a live band. I danced!  Or more accurately I did my "Elaine Dance".  Video will follow in a subsequent blog.

On subsequent days we visited our mutual friend Tom, who also recently left the hospital. We're all old folks, hospital stays are part of our lives now.

Pat and I also witnessed a bridge opening of a huge tanker passing through a drawbridge lifting to the Hamilton steel yards. Quite impressive.  Video will also follow.

We also did the movie scene, "Hobbs and Shaw".  Not my usual taste in movie but nonetheless entertaining. The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) is always good. But I'll never get those two hours of my life back. 

What Pat and I do on our quarterly get togethers may not sound exciting but we always have a good time. We enjoy each other's company and whatever we do is enjoyable. Even if it is just watching an old film noir movie on his TV.

My trip back home wasn't as stressful as it was going to Buffalo. I sailed through the TSA pre-check this time. The only delay this time was we arrived early in Philadelphia and had to sit in the plane on the tarmac for about twenty minutes before we could disembark the plane. 

Next trip, Philadelphia! 

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...