Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A GREAT BIRTHDAY GIFT: Can You Say Computer?

What is this, another blog today? That would be number 3 today and 21 for the month of March. I did mention the possibility of having "diarrhea of the blog". Maybe I do?

What a great ending to the day, if it has truly ended. I plan to move to the lake for the summer next week. Unlike previous years, I am going to have cable installed so I can use the computer during the summer. No, not so I can watch football next falll. WHY WOULD YOU THINK THAT? Yes, the NFL exhibition schedule came out today but who noticed?

I wanted to write the family history this past winter. When my computer crashed for over a month and my left hip acted up, writing fell by the wayside. I was unable to blog at all for the entire month of February.

My stepson, Randy, installed the computer I am now using. It is a bit different from my regular computer but I've used it to get by. I plan to take my regular, repaired and upgraded, computer to the lake with me so I need another computer at home. Randy Lee wished me a "happy birthday" and said this computer is mine, although he does need to swap out one part which he says I'll never use anyway.

What a charitable, and timely, gift? I have a spare printer as Randy and his sister, Jackie, gave me an advanced printer for Christmas, advanced like in I don't know how to use it yet. Supposedly it will brush my teeth, er, something like that. It sure prints nice. My old printer works just fine and I'll take it to the lake.

Hey, Grandson Jon, got a rusty, working monitor for a destitute old codger. Anything flat schreen, over 19 inches and thin will do. No, No! I didn't really say that, did I? I gotta be nice to Jon, he is going to do some electrical work at the lake for me. Un Huh! Of all Mark's children, Jon is my FAVORITE grandson out of the whole pack! (Well, yes, he is the only boy).

This has been a great birthday, capped off with dinner with my pretty bride of 30 years at the Longhorn Steak House, my favorite. Thanks to one and to all.

Uh, MARK YOUR CALENDARS, THE GOOD LORD WILLING AND THE KRICK DON'T GET TOO HIGH, I'LL BE 80 IN A SHORT 12 MONTHS. You won't want to miss it. UMMMMM


God Bless!

QUALITY SHOWS THROUGH: My Cousin Cheryl

This time last year I was attempting to make a cross the USA charity bike ride to refurbish the sanctuary of my church. My cousin, Cheryl, pledged a hundred dollars ($100) to my effort. As I have previously blogged, a number of times (!!!), I was unable to make the ride.

Today, for my 79th birthday, I received a card from this "long lost" cousin. In addition to the thoughtful well wishes was a check for the hundred dollars ($100) for the church, even though I did not make the ride. What a wonderful thing to do!

It is an old saying, but one that I firmly believe is true, you cannot out give God. May He, in his mercy, repay Cheryl, and her husband Jack, many times for this kindness. Being a Pierce, not withstanding, CHERYL AND JACK ARE QUALITY PEOPLE!

I have not given up on making that trike ride from San Diego to St. Augustine, FL.

My son, Todd, and his delightful wife, Amy, depart this upcoming Friday from Cincinnatti on a bicycle trip to Huron, Ohio, from the river to the lake. It is the 4th year of P.A.C.E., (Pierce Annual Cycling Expedition). Although this is their most ambitious ride, last year they rode from Piedmont, AL to Atlanta, GA.

As cousin Cheryl once reminded me, speaking of Mark, THE APPLE DOESN'T FALL FAR FROM THE TREE! Wise woman. Yep!

Their planned mileage for this trip is 285 1/2 miles. As their daughter, Christy Anne says, that 1/2 miles counts. Un Huh!

I am providing "wheels" home for them and giving whatever support is needed on the North end of their trip.

They plan to be at the families retreat at Knox Lake on Tuesday. I'll meet them there and provide transportation to the home of my other son, Mark, in Mansfield in time for Todd and Amy to catch the next episode of '"LOST". No TV at the lake!

While Todd and I are together I want to discuss another try at the Southern Tier Bike Crossing. Looking at the trail profile, pictured above, it is a steady climb from San Diego to the first mountain range. It is then a steep 17 mile climb followed by a second steep 34 mile climb. At that point, however, it is maybe a 200 mile downhill run to the next mountain range.

I will suggest to Todd that He and I use my van for the uphill portions and cross the country just taking turns riding the down hill portions. Take about three weeks for the crossing in November of this year.

Using the van, of course, we would ride empty bikes making the ride even easier. We could meet for a morning snack, lunch and then the driver could go ahead and set up camp for the night. In places, like the hill country of East Texas, or when we run into really foul weather, we could just spend a day driving. SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!

I don't know if this will "TICKLE TODD'S FANCY" or not. We'll see. If not, how would you like to see the country from the seat of a bicycle. or even the seat of my van? Huh?

Why do something like this? One more time, exactly what are you doing that is NEW, DIFFERENT OR EXCITING? I'd like to think, however, that it is QUALITY SHOWING THROUGH. Of course, at age 79, I may just be getting senile? IF SO, I'VE BEEN SENILE SINCE I WAS, MAYBE, 17, AND JOINED THE NAVY! Hmmmmm!

Thank you, Cheryl, for the gift to the church, the birthday wishes and for something to write about in my 20th blog for this month. At times I refer to my self as having diarrhea of the mouth. Could I now be afflicted with diarrhea of the blog? IS THERE A CURE?

God Bless!

79 AND COUNTING: Happy Birthday, Walt!

Well, now, it is past midnight and officially March 31, 2010. IT IS MY 79th BIRTHDAY! WooHoo!

It looks as if tomorrow may be a busy day so I wanted to be sure to get in one more blog this month. You might ask why seeing as how I have alreadry written 18 blogs this month. This will be my 19th blog. I have never written 19 blogs in any month since I first started blogging in September 2008. I wrote 18 in March 2009 and 18 again in November 2009. But, 19 is a new record.

I truly enjoy blogging and am intrigued by the folks that respond from across the country and around the world. A few days ago I heard from Lil, a delightful sounding lady in Colorado. About 10 new people read my blog profile each week and the total is now up to 830. THANKS EVERYONE FOR YOUR INTEREST.

Is there some kind of a prize for writing 19 blogs in a month? Not really. I suppose it is just from a life of always striving to do better and do more. What can I say? Un Huh! Strictly a Type A personality. I am working on that, however, and my wife thinks that some where along the line I have actually grown mellow. MELLOW......ME??? Ummmmm!

I am well and am thankful for good health. I was to the doctor yesterday for my regular three month check up. Doctor Finneran wants my blood pressure to be in the area of 130 over 70. My diastolic was 70 but the systolic was up to 154. He increased the Norvasc a bit and I will continue to monitor my blood pressure daily. My glucose level has been a bit high also, but just barely. It should be under 120 but has been averaging about 127.

I have been eating healthy, getting more exercise and losing weight and, from experience, know that the sugar will drop in response to those activities. I declined Julie's offer to bake me a cake. Wow, I love her Doctor Bird cake but asked her not to do it. I've still got a lot of weight to lose to reduce stress on my hip.

My left hip is still a bummer, but improving daily. While it is not 100% yet, it is pr0bably 80%. I can walk almost normal and no longer have pain at night. In addition to my daily "stretches" when I rotate every joint in my body, I have added the exercises I learned in Physical Therapy. A couple months ago I couldn't put on my sock or dry my foot because of loss of motion, and pain, in my left side. That has mostly subsided now. I am optimistic that I will be able to ride my trike soon.

My oldest son, Mark, called to take me out for my birthday. While he offered to drive all the way to my home, I agreed to meet him half way again for lunch. That will be a treat. Time spent with Mark is so enjoyable that I'm sure God does not substract it from my alloted time. NO, I DON'T HAVE ANY PROOF, JUST TRUST ME, I KNOW!

The outlook for the year is nothing less than awesome. I won't make this blog overly long and list all my plans but it promises to be a great year starting with me moving to the lake in another week or so.

Let the good times roll!

God Bless!

NOTE: BY 8:10AM I HAVE RECEIVED TWO EMAILS AND TWO PHONE CALLS. IT IS GOING TO BE A GREAT DAY!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FRIENDS: Beyond Value

HOW COULD YOU EVER PUT A VALUE ON FRIENDSHIP?

A good friend, and fellow troublemaker, Ralph Crandal, had a great definition of a friend. I've used his definition for years. Ralph said "A FRIEND IS SOMEONE WHO WILL PUT A SECOND MORTGAGE ON THEIR HOME TO GO YOUR BAIL TO GET YOU OUT OF JAIL AND NEVER ASK IF YOU'RE GUILTY".

Ralph, with whom I've entered into many business deals, was truly a rascal. That's probably why we were friends. He, along with my Mother, had the most people at his funeral of any private person I know. I waited outside for an hour and never got into the funeral home. Other people were lined up for blocks also waiting to get in.

Julie and I are blessed with world class friends. Bill and Carla Ludwig come to mind. When I was laid up for the better part of a year with a ruptured disc they went "beyond the pale" to help Julie take care of our yard, which had become badly over grown.

When we get overcome with living, sick or whatever, friends show up at our door with a cooked meal. Far more than the value of the warm meal is the warmth of the friendships.

We fellowship monthly at a dinner with seven couples. This is the 6th year for the "Out To Dinner With Friends" group. Sometimes we do not see one another for a month, just like we do not see out-of-town relatives for extended periods. Yet, the time and distance just makes the hugs that much sweeter.

One of our dearest friends, Donna Murphy, commented once that Julie and I have the "GIFT OF HOSPITALITY". Jewel and I have been so blessed that we feel the need to share that blessing with all matter of fellowships, from small, formal dinners to large, rowdy Hoedowns with Bar-b-cues. I just wrote a blog on our latest shin dig, a SEA FOOD BUFFET.

Since the buffet we have received thank you cards, emails and phone calls expressing appreciation. I think it was Julie's Pina Coladas!




One card, in particular, warmed our hearts and made all the expense and effort worth while.
Don & Sally Wilson are good people, a tad younger than me and a tad older than Julie. They have been involved in my Jug Band and, when they were able, were my Leading Couple at my square dances. They made an 800+ mile, out of the way, drive to return my trike from California following my aborted cross USA bike trip.
The Wilson's thanked us for the buffet with a lovely gift, that is appreciated. Alongwith the gift, however, was a "friendship" card that is truly a treasure to Julie and I, one which we will keep close at hand when we need to count our blessings.

DO YOU WANT SUCH FRIENDS? TRY BEING SUCH A FRIEND!

God Bless!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A MATHEMATICAL TRUTH? Sure!

I have been invited to a birthday party in California on July 17th of this year. My 1948 high school class mate, Maude, will turn 80! I blogged recently about how Maude got me through senior english by writing my book reports for me. The least I can do is go to her party, right?

Although we rarely see one another, we keep in touch by email. I also have a birthday coming up next week, 79, and my first card was from Maude.

My last blog was so serious I think that sharing my last email from Maude would be in order. It goes like this:

"This comes from two math teachers with a combined total of 70 years experience. It has INDISPUTABLE MATHEMATICAL LOGIC. It also made me laugh out loud. This is a stictly mathematical viewpoint....it goes like this"

What makes 100%?

What does it mean to give MORE than 100%?

Ever wonder about those people who say they are giving more than 100%? We have all been to meetings where someone wants you to give over 100%.

How about achieving 103%?

What makes up 100% in life?

Here's a little mathematical formula that might help you answer those questions.

If

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

is represented as

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26

then:

H A R D W O R K
8+1+18+4+23+15+18+11
= 98%

and

K N O W L E D G E
11+14+15+23+12+5+4+7+5
= 96%

But,

A T T I T U D E
1+20+20+9+20+21+4+5
= 100%

and

B U L L S H I T
2+21+12+12+19+8+9+20
= 103%

And, look how far ass kissing will take you

A S S K I S S I N G
1+19+19+11+9+19+19+9+14+7
= 118%

So, one can conclude with mathematical certainty, that while HARD WORK and KNOWLEDGE will get you close, and ATTITUDE will get you there, its the BULLSHIT and ASS KISSING that will put you over the top.

REMEMBER SOME PEOPLE ARE ALIVE SIMPLY BECAUSE IT IS ILLEGAL TO SHOOT THEM!

Why would my wife and I fly across the country to share a birthday celebration with a friend we so seldom see? It is just that this soon-to-be 80 friend is so very unique. Un Huh!

GO MAUDE!

God Bless

Saturday, March 27, 2010

YOU ARE HARD HEARTED: Thanks!

What I think we need in this country today is more HARD HEARTED people!

My guard dog, Gunner, minds me. He is a big, black Giant Schnauzer. He is stronger than me and far quicker than I am. Yet, when I tell him to go to the top of the stairs, lay down and stay there until I tell him to move, he does it immediately. He doesn't think about it, he doesn't try to negotiate about it, he just does it.

Gunner is just four years old. His previous owner bought him as a pup but acknowledged, when he so very generously gave him to me about six months ago, that he had not invested one single moment of one-on-one time with the dog. A FINE ANIMAL, HE WAS INCORRIBIBLE! Yet, today he is quiet and reserved with only one main reason in life and that is to protect me and mine.

I HAVE NEVER IN ANY WAY ABUSED GUNNER! From the instant he came into my home, however, he found out that his very life depended upon his pleasing me. I feed him twice a day, he loves to eat. I feed him the best dog food on the market. I carefully feed him enough to keep him in top physical shape but no more. To get the warm, moistened food, however, he must sit quietly until I tell him he can have the food and then he must eat it with the bowl between my feet. And, he must immediately eat it all. If he walks away, the food is gone until the next feeding time. He was a very fast learner!

From day one he learned that until he carried out my last command, not a suggestion, not a request, my command, until he obeyed it he could do nothing else. He could not play. He could not go take a pee. He could do absolutely nothing until he minded me. EVERY TIME! Again, he was a very fast learner!

He takes a pee when I tell him to do so. Again, he sits at the open door until I tell him he may go take that pee. When he returns, most of the time, he has a very small treat. When he is running loose, and maybe a hundred yards away from me, when I call him he immediately runs directly to me and sits in front of me looking up for his "atta boy". If on the way to me, I tell him to stop and lay down, he stops and lays down. We do this during every walk. EVERY WALK!

He is a very happy, well fed, well exercised dog. He travels with me in my van. We play fetch in the hall at the top of the stairs--he is hard on tennis balls. He waits impatiently for my second cup of coffee at breakfast when he knows I'll scratch his ears. He has been to the vet and has had all his medical needs provided. He has fresh water at all times. He sleeps at the foot of my bed on the best bed money can buy. He is absolutely never more than a step away from where I am, if that. I am his master and he loves me above all others. I love him in return. (But, I never forget that he is a dog).

When my friends come to visit they are always amazed at Gunner. They think he is so "smart". THEY WISH THAT THEIR DOGS WERE LIKE THAT! Gunner's obedience has nothing whatsoever to do with being smart. It has to do with my determination to justify my being his master. I know some think it has to do with my being HARD HEARTED. Truly, I am not hard hearted.

THIS BLOG IS NOT ABOUT THE OBEDIENCE OF MY DOG! It is about what I believe to be the major problem in our country today.

Tonight my wife is keeping her great grand child for the night because the Mother is "depressed". The granddaughter, a single mom, has "gone out" with an older sibling and some friends. I WOULD NOT HAVE KEPT THE CHILD, a precious little boy, maybe six months old. Although I did not question my good wife's decision, when she elected to discuss that decision with me I commented that raising small children often is depressing, especially so when the mother is struggling to earn a degree in nursing. AM I HARD HEARTED?

There has never been a question about my wife being "hard hearted". She is a warm hearted softie! I mean, she tolerates me, doesn't she? Then, again, neither her dogs nor her children ever won any prizes in obedience!

I reared my three children with the same determined discipline that I apply to my dog. I was determined to justify being their father. The children understood the rules and lived by them. THEY LEARNED EARLY IN LIFE THAT THEY HAD TO WORK, WHETHER HOUSEHOLD CHORES, PIANO LESSONS OR FOOTBALL! I know I have, and have always had, their unreserved love. Today they are well educated professionals married to professionals. When the kids were very small, almost without exception, my friends considered me to be HARD HEARTED!

In my neighborhood, as around the nation, I observe people who expect AND SADLY RECEIVE THAT WHICH THEY HAVE NOT EARNED. Even when others give them every opportunity to improve their lives and get off the "dole" they walk away from the opportunity. Even sadder is the fact that generation after generation is following in the same footsteps. HARD HEARTED AGAIN? You decide!

I am so proud of my daughter and her husband. Although financially secure, they refuse to give large, undeserved rewards to my two small grandchildren. While these young children are blessed with every conceivable opportunity to develop their ability and character, they each have to work hard to earn what has been afforded them.

THIS BLOG IS ABOUT WEALTH REDISTRIBUTION.

Taking away from what my daughter and her husband have worked so hard to achieve to give to my neighbors who have broken every rule, refused opportunity and causes problems when undeserved blessings are not forth coming, THAT IS JUST PLAIN WRONG!

What I think we need is some HARD HEARTED leaders who will say "get off your behind and go to work" and mean it! OF COURSE MY NEIGHBOR DOES NOT HAVE HEALTH INSURANCE. She could have had health insurance and other benefits if she would have worked at the job generously provided for her. I wouldn't have health insurance if my wife and I hadn't worked for it.

We live well but all of our lives we paid our dues. When we were both caught up in a plant closing, we got other jobs. Yes, although Julie had been a highly paid, technical engineer, she took a job on a split shift at McDonalds until something better came along.

We worked, we worked hard, we worked while our peers played, we worked when we weren't well, we qualified for higher pay, we earned what we have, when we were paid we didn't spent it all, and, we expected no one to give us anything, excepting the opportunity with which all Americans are blessed, the right to PURSUE happiness. I retired as an Associate Vice President with Prudential at age 60. I'm proud to be an American!

THE OVERWHELMING MAJORITY OF AMERICANS FEELS THE SAME WAY AS I DO, I'M SURE.

Folks, LIKE OUR FOREFATHERS, let's get involved and reclaim our country. Lets all be HARD HEARTED with the political leaders who perpetuate taking from the workers and giving to the non producers for the sake of their vote.

Let's correct the problems, and there are problems, but LET'S NOT GIVE AWAY THE FARM!

I'll do my part if you'll do yours.

God Bless!

Friday, March 26, 2010

WHETTING MY POCKET KNIFE: A Peaceful Pursuit


IS THIS A HAPPY & CONTENTED LOOK OR WHAT?

AHHHHH!

I can almost hear my mind peacefully sigh as I whet my pocket knife. I've been using the same fine whet stone, in a leather holster, for, I don't know, maybe 40 years. It is a good stone for which I paid a bit of money. It shows no wear for the nearly daily use.

THERE IS NOT A SINGLE DAY GOES BY THAT I DO NOT USE MY KNIFE SEVERAL TIMES. I don't know how people get by without having a knife all the time.

My knife is fairly new. I lost my "lucky" knife on an attempted cross the USA bike trip about a year ago. Catching the "red eye" out of San Diego I thought "what will I do with my knife" when I realized I did not have the knife. The pockets on my bike pants are big and, sitting reclined on the trike, I'm sure the knife just worked it's way out of my pocket. I hope who ever finds it appreciates it. I actually found the knife myself.

Returning upriver from maybe a month on the Ohio River in an old john boat, south of Ashland, KY, I put in to shore at a protruding sand bar. It was October but the sun was hot and I needed to get into the shade for awhile. The sand bar was badly trashed. Cans, bottles and paper everywhere. In the midst of the trash I spotted a brand new Case Knife Hoster. I thought "wow, I wonder if the knife is here somewhere?" It was, lying with the large blade open. Now, I would have returned the knife to the owner, but as when I in turn lost it, there was no way to know who or where the owner was.

I bought a replacement Yellow Case Knife immediately upon my return from California. I feel undressed without that big, yellow Case knife anchoring me in my right, front pocket. I carry very little in my pockets. My money, no change, and ID in a small money clip in my left, front pocket, a large, mostly red, hankerchief in my right rear pocket, thats about it.

I always have my knife. In response to the question "Do you have your knife" I always answer "Do I have my pants on?" If my pants are on that knife is in my right front pocket. Often the kids or my wife will give the answer before I can get it out. "Does he have his pants on"?

I tried, unsuccessfully, to take it to the Army-Navy game in 2001, the last year Navy lost to Army. At the hotel my son, Todd, also a knife carrier, informed me that he was leaving his knife in the hotel. It was right after the attack of nine-eleven and security would be tight. "No", I replied, "its legal and it goes where I go". WRONG! I took a stroll from where the guard stopped me and came back without the knife. I went back to get it after the game.

There is a skill required to properly sharpen a knife. But, what is really required is time. It takes time. Now, you don't have to spend a lot of time each time you sharpen it. Once the knife is sharp just a few stokes daily will do the job. A drop of honing solution, I use Smith's, on the stone, a half dozen stokes on each blade, and the knife is constantly keen. Thereafter, I will hone it a stroke or two just for the tranquility.

My Dad kept the sharpest knife. Once when I was squirrel hunting down in Southern Ohio, near Marietta, I had just finished eating an apple with my knife, sitting under a beech tree. Seeing a grey squirrel, I stuck the knife into the beech tree and picked up my gun. The squirrel fell but it was not a clean kill. Quickly getting up to get the squirrel, I forgot the knife. It was the last day of hunting and leaving for home, I gave my squirrels to my host without cleaning them. I recalled my knife in the tree that night when I unloaded my pockets. It was cheaper to buy another Case Muskrat Skinner than to drive back to Marietta.

Squirrel season, next year, I returned to that same beech tree. The knive was not in the tree but digging in the duff around the base I found it, rusted into one piece. I took that knife home and gave it to Dad who soaked it until it worked easily. He then proceeded to sharpen it. He kept it until his death and then my Mother gave it to my brother Henry. BOO!

I have a small knife collection. My favorite nephew, Jimmy Pierce, has given me several knives over the years and I have bought several, all sizes and uses. My son, Todd, ended up with my original filet knife, although I currently own two, both gifts, the one in the picture was from Jimmy. Well, actually penny sales. You never give a knife. It would "CUT THE FRIENDSHIP". You always "sell" the knife for a penny. Un huh!

My oldest grandson, Jon Pierce who is expecting his fourth child, still carries a red, utility knife which I "sold" him for Christmas when he was about 12 years of age. My youngest grandson, Riley, has a boxed collector's edition of the old Barlow knives which I "sold" him when he was about two years of age. No, Riley hasn't started to carry it yet, although at his age, eleven, I had been carrying and trading knifes for years. Things change, huh? He'd go to "jail" for carrying that knife to school, which I always did.

Carefully, with the oiled whet stone on my knee, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, RELAX, back and forth, wipe the blade and put a drop on the hinge and put it back into my pocket until needed. Wipe the stone and put it back into the leather pouch.

AHHHH, Life is sweet! May you find peace and contentment in your life.

God Bless!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TWO BITS: What's a Quarter Worth, Anyway?

ANOTHER LONG BLOG THAT I THINK IS WORTH YOUR CONSIDERATION.

A quarter dollar. Two Bits. What's it worth?

I had a reason to do research on what a quarter would buy today. Practically nothing! It might buy a "penny" gum ball from the machine; one token from Chuck E Cheese; and not much else. Don't believe it? Google it yourself. In 30 pages of information on "what will a quarter buy today" there was just nothing. Check it out.

So what, you may ask. For one thing, and no small thing at that, if you retired twenty years ago on a fixed income, the continuous loss of buying power which it brings about, at the least, will be a major change in one's lifestyle.

If you read my last blog on "SOUTH SEA ISLAND: A Sea Food Buffet" you might say that the effect on my lifestyle hasn't been too drastic. Well first of all, my good wife still works at a fairly well paying job. Secondly, my lifestyle has changed. Ask my grandchildren at Christmas time and they will inform you that it is not like in the good old days, like 20 years ago.

There are very few of us today who recalls the buying power of a quarter. What comes to my mind was two chili dogs and a 12 ounce Pepsi from "Rags Place", a hole in the wall in Point Pleasant, WV. Cost? A quarter.

Was that era the good life? Hardly! It was next to impossible to come up with a quarter. It was the great depression and unemployment was 25%. And, that figure was misleading. Dad was not unemployed. He was employed but only worked a few days a month. Several months he did not work at all, but he wasn't unemployed. The point? The unemployment figure was far greater than 25% in my opinion, just like it is higher than 10% today. In those days there was no such thing as unemployment benefits.

How difficult was it to get a job in those days? A large landowner, with land inherited from Revolutionary War grants, hired Dad and both of my two teen age brothers to cut corn for him. They worked in the morning from "when you could see" until the evening to "when you couldn't see". In other words from daylight to dark. I recall the joys in their faces when I'd show up in the field about noon with Mason jars containing beans with corn bread. I can still see Dad as he sat on the ground, rolled himself a smoke and drank the cold jar of coffee with canned milk. The pay? It was a dollar and a half for the day for the three of them.

Cutting corn is very difficult work that cuts hands and faces. Not only did they work without complaint, they were thankful for the buck and a half. Dad was big as a horse and a hard worker with two husky teenagers to help him. A lot of other men would like to have had the opportunity to make a buck and a half a day.

There was a lot of tobacco grown in our neck of the woods. My brother, Henry, also a hard worker when he worked, was hired to pick off the huge green tobacco worms. His pay? A dollar a week. That dollar was so important! A dollar would buy a 24 pound bag of flour. I once wrote it was a 25 pound bag and Henry corrected my error. It was important to him. With that bag of flour my Mom fed us. Dumplings into whatever she cooked, biscuits three times a day and, most memorable, gravy every morning, and maybe fried potatoes, to go along with the biscuits.

In those days you could go to a movie for a nickle and for another nickle you could buy a bag of popcorn. As a preteen who was fascinated by the horror movies of the day, so laughable today, my sole purpose in living was to somehow come up with at least five pennies during the week. Resourceful even then, I was successful about half the time.

Barefooted, with my five pennies, I'd walk two miles down the railroad track to "down town" and sit through the movie at least twice before walking home in the dark. Uh, yes, I was anywhere from five years old and upward. I'd go with my cousins, Bob and Junior Shirley and Ralph, Jr. was a couple years older than me. Walking by the stock yard in the dark with all the strange noises was more terrifying than the movie.

My Mom once traded her gold wedding band for a chicken to give to another family who had absolutely nothing to eat for Christmas Dinner.

A pet rooster, which I had given to me as a nearly drowned biddy, became the feast at Thanksgiving time. Mom named the little, nearly drowned biddy "Old Lucky" because she said "He'd be lucky if he lived". Live he did and quite well! As a six year old, I worked full time catching bugs and worms to feed that little white leghorn rooster. He followed me around like a dog. The family put it to a vote as to whether or not we should eat "Old Lucky". The vote was 5 to 1 for eating the chicken. What can I say? Tasted pretty good and I learned a lot about what life was about that year, what was important and what wasn't.

In 1989 I had a modern day vision of those difficult days in America when, with my wife and two sons, I travelled on a train from Vienna, Austria to Budapest, Hungary. The difference in life style when the train crossed the "iron curtain" into Hungary was vivid. The houses were shabby and run down. The people were poorly dressed. AROUND EVERY HOUSE, IN EVERY AVAILABLE PATCH OF GROUND, WAS A GARDEN. There were dirt roads and cars were few and far between while horses and wagons were abundant. There were piles of black coal for sale here and there. Just like America in the '30s.

IS THIS BLOG JUST A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE OF AN OLD MAN? Not at all! What was can be again. Am I just being unduly fearful? I don't think so. I'm just not a fearful person. I hope for the best, prepare for the worse and I have always done well in life. I still do.

In a chat with my oldest son, Mark, yesterday he remarked upon my ability to look into the future and strategically plan for what will most likely happen. I informed him that throughout my life my position as a senior management person required that I be monitored and psychologically evaluated on a regular basis. Mark's assessment was confirmed when the Navy evaluated me as a 17 year-old radioman handling classified material and was repeated though out my 43 years of management.

I will soon start to work on being 80 and have hopes of another 10 years of life. Hope springs eternal, huh? I AM OF THE OPINION THAT IN MY LIFE TIME THE ODDS ARE AT LEAST 60/40 THAT THE UNITED STATES, AND THE WORLD, WILL RETURN TO THE DAYS OF THE 1930's!

In those difficult years the needs were basic, food and shelter with the ability to protect what you had from those who would steal it from you. Hunger, especially hunger in one's children, can turn a normally good person into a thief!

WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THE LARGE POPULATION THAT THE GOVERNMENT HAS MADE DEPENDENT FOR THEIR BASIC NEEDS, FROM HOUSING AND FOOD TO MEDICAL NEEDS, PROTECTING ONE'S PROPERTY WILL BE A CHALLENGE WHEN THE GOVERNMENT CAN NO LONGER SUPPLY THOSE BASIC NEEDS.

Remember the riots of the 60s and 70s or the more recent burning of parts of Los Angeles for no real reason other than hurt feelings. The police looked on helplessly, remember?

The tendency by most folks today is to consider such thoughts as being paranoid. Never in my life have I been paranoid. I'm a middle of the road guy and about as normal as Mom and Apple Pie. I just believe that the "spread the wealth" of today equals the devaluation of the dollar by Franklin D. Roosevelt. It didn't work then and it won't work now.

IF YOU PREPARE FOR THE WORSE AND IT DOESN'T HAPPEN, IT WON'T HURT. NOT TO PREPARE FOR THE WORSE CAN BRING DISASTER TO THE LIVES OF YOU AND YOUR LOVED ONES.

In the words of Spock, "It's just logical!" I say to you LIVE LONG AND PROSPER.

God Bless!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

SOUTH SEA ISLAND - A Sea Food Buffet

This morning my son, Mark, and I met at a Bob Evans half way, or there abouts, between his home and mine for breakfast. He had asked me a number of times lately to meet him for breakfast and each time I was already engaged. Yesterday I called him and, at last, we got together.

We chatted about a wide range of subjects, one of which was why I hadn't been blogging recently. Mark asked if it was because of the dinner for twelve Julie and I hosted last weekend. I assured him that was the reason.

It all started when I found a great buy on lobster at Sam's Club. Normally we pay anywhere from $24 to $28 for two lobsters. They had them two for only $16 to $17. I bought six lobsters and told Julie we were going to have a big sea food bash.

We first intended to invite the Wilsons and the Ludwigs, good friends and lobster lovers, but I let it get out of hand. I GET CARRIED AWAY! Before I over came my diahrea-of-the-mouth I had invited five couples.

We frequently feed sixteen, or more, at formal dinners, in our home. We can serve ten comfortably at the dining room table and six at the kitchen table. I didn't want to do that. This was going to be the most informal, eat with your fingers, dinner. We didn't even use dinner plates, we gave every one a large platter. The table was covered with sea shells and with a bucket, wrapped in a mini hulu skirt, for shucked shells in the middle of the table.

And, I wanted to feed everyone at the same table. We made the dining room table as small as possible, moved it into the living room for hors o'deuvres, and in the dining room set up two long folding tables, side-to-side, alongwith folding chairs.

Problem! We have scads of table cloths but none large enough for these two tables side-by-side. Kohl's has been running give away ads for weeks but when we went to buy a big table cloth the best we could do was a 30% discount. BOO! This was just the start of a financial boondoggle.

I went back for the additional lobsters. Yes, they had lots of lobsters. All for the orginal high prices. I groaned as I paid for six more.

Then I thought, and I have only myself to blame, why stop with lobster. People also love snow crab which Sam sells by the case. Yep, another $48 and change.


By this time I had already bit the bullet so I decided to go all out and have a sea food buffet. To the lobster and crab we added shrimp, clams, scallops and mussels. There was also seafood salad, baked potato, an Asian stir fry with chicken and cole slaw.

I do not know how many Luau's Julie and I have had for the folks over the years but it is lots and at times we have had large numbers to whom we also served baby backed ribs. We do a lot of theme parties and have accumulated decorations for about anything you can imagine. We have hundreds of leis for example. It only took a part of our "luau store" to decorate two rooms.

To make a long story short, we moved the furniture out of the living and dining rooms. Julie and Donna, a wonderful lady who works for us, decorated the rooms from the walls in with an island setting. We made the living room into a dimly lighted Head Hunters Lounge.

The girls attached a colorful, oriental unbrella, upside down, to the over head light and deocorated the entire light with the most beautiful flowers. The house, inside and out, was a mass of flowers just like in Hawaii.
I built a stage at the bottom of the stairs, with sound and lighting, for a stage performance. Click on the picture for a close up look. I didn't actually install the raised stage until the day of the dinner because of our going up and down the stairs. HA


When the people came at 6:00PM we ushered them into the "lounge" to pupu platters of bacon wrapped water chestnuts, bacon wrapped scallops and chicken/fruit skewer hors d'oeuvres. The shrieks of laughter during the 45 minutes of "happy hour" could have come from Julie's Pina Coladas or Bahama Mamas. (Altogether during the evening, the 12 people, actually 11 as I didn't drink any, consummed 2 gallons of pina colada and a gallon of bahama mamas).

When we seated them in the dining room, the light in the room dimmed as I described the sun set ritual at the Sheraton Maui, the warrior running out on the crest of the old lava flow carrying a lighted torch and a conch shell. Just as the sun disappears, and it gets dark, the warrior blows the conch shell to the four winds and does a swan dive off the cliff.

We matched the sun setting in the story with the light in the room getting darker and darker until it was dark when the warrior dived. In the quiet darkness, I described how the tide sounded as it roared in on Kanapala Beach at high tide, with full sound effects. When ears were about to burst from the sound, it ended at what we described as the quiet and magic moment when high tide is reached.

Then, in a sudden burst of stage light, on the small stage at the bottom of the stairs, in a blue sarong, was a beautiful Hawaiian Princess bringing island greetings. (My grand daughter Christy Anne). She sang several stiring island songs to great applause.

After the entertainment the buffet commenced with Julie and Donna serving lobster and crab directly from the pot. Dinner ended with dessert and coffee, after which everyone returned to the "lounge" for a couple hours of fellowship.

It was a great party. Now, if we can just get the house back together in this lifetime and Julie and I can get over the aches and pains. HA

Oh, yes, Brother, can you spare a dime?

We did not get pictures of the actual buffet--too busy!

God Bless!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

OOPS! Someone out there knows the truth!

Sure, and 'tis a grand day! Me lovely wife, Julie, has just fed me corned beef and cabbage along with parsley potatoes and Irish soda bread, all washed down with a cup of strong, black Barry's tea, from Ireland. Am I feeling full of Balarney? And, why would today be any different?

No, it isn't St. Paddy's Day yet but, like in dessert, life is short, why wait? (Also Julie had the time yesterday evening to cook)

Sure and a grand day t'was until I received my latest email from California.

All the way back to July 20, 1930 wasn't the Good Lord looking out for me welfare? Sure, and He was. And, how, now you might be asking? He allowed to be born into the world a little girl to the Blankinship family, uh, that's Blankinship with an "in" and not an "en". Don't ask why, but it is important, or so I've had it explained to me! They named the little babe MAUDE.

The name MAUDE /Ma (u) - de/ is a varient of MADELINE (Hebrew), MATILDA (Old German), or MAUD (French). The meaning of the name Maude is "Woman from Magdalia; Mighty in Battle". This babe must have been French because she would be quick to let you know her name is pronounced MAUD and not MAUD-EE.

As I was not to make my appearance in the world until nine months later, how was Maude's birth God's plan for me, you might be uh 'askin? Well, now, would you believe that Maude only lived in Point Pleasant, WV, my home town, for one year. And, what year would that be? Why, my senior year in High School, a school well known for the Senior English teacher, Miss Mary.

Miss Mary McColloch, I think, was 80 years of age. Her eye sight was not what it once was and she spoke with a faltering voice. She was a great teacher from a well known, pioneering family.

I have been blessed my entire life by her requirement that students memorize the 121st Psalm. She also introduced me to poetry, which has become an important part of my life. Miss Mary explained Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's The Rainy Day, which I once recited to visitors at Longfellow's Home and Museum in Portland, Maine.

Miss Mary not only required her students to write book reports but to also stand before the class and read the report aloud. The Good Lord, knowing well ahead of time what a lazy student I would be, provided Maude to write my book reports for me. Thank you Lord, thank you!

Maude would give her book report, make me a copy, which I would rewrite, read aloud and hand in, the exact, same report. Did Miss Mary know what was going on? Her eye sight may have failed her and her voice faltered, but Miss Mary was no dummy! Of course she knew as did the entire class. Like all the teachers, she also knew that I lived by myself and came to school on my own--another story. All the teachers cut me a lot of slack. Incidentally, Maude said she never knew that I lived alone.

Maude likes to recall when I rewrote and read her report on Florence Nightingale, the Angel of the Crimea. The entire class laughed, when, in her faltering voice, Miss Mary asked "Walsine, do you really like that kind of book?" It was obviously a girl's book and, being a big, down and dirty football tackle, I did not have any female tendencies. Well, I may have had a strong tendency towards females, Still do. HA!

I assured Miss Mary that I thought it was a lovely book, asking how anyone could not love such a person as Florence Nightingale? The laughter became explosive with Miss Mary joining in.

YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE MAUDE RECALLS ABOUT THAT BOOK REPORT? Now, I cannot say this is the gospel truth but Maude claims to this day that Miss Mary gave her a "B" for the report and gave me an "A+". What can I say? Must have been in the oral delivery, me being of Irish descent and all. Of course, it may also have been that Miss Mary thought that Maude was using MY BOOK REPORT, un huh, with me being of such upright character and all? UMMM

DOES THIS BLOG HAVE A HAPPY ENDING? I can't say as how it does. Why not, you might be uh 'askin. Today I am a well respected man in my community, a community that mostly believes me to have always been the THE MEEK, LOWLY AND HUMBLE, SWEET, GENTLE AND KIND person I keep assuring them I have always been. Good Looking, too! The problem? Maude knows better.

Responding to my recent blog, DOWN MEMORY LANE, Maude commented upon the above claim which I wrote in that blog. Maude says "You were NEVER, (her cap and bold), meek, lowly,sweet humble, maybe a wee bit gentle, kind you were and so so in being cute. You had your smile going for you. Modest, No!"

All I can say in my defense is that in her youth Maude, who WAS cute, as can be seen in this class picture, was not always a good judge of character. No, I am not speaking of her giving me her book reports and collaborating against Miss Mary. I'm speaking of whom she chose to marry. Would you believe she married a JAR HEAD? No, No, say it isn't true.

I met Wendell, Maude's husband, at a high school class reunion and he seemed nice enough. Gotta be careful, though, because once a marine always a marine. I'm safe as I won't be on any Navy rifle ranges any time soon, and thats for sure.

I have been invited to Maude's 80th birthday party. I'll do my best to present myself in person, meek lowly and humble, sweet, gentle and kind. Uh, still good looking! What can I say?

God Bless!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

SPRING! Lived through another winter, yeah!

SPRING? Well, not quite, at least not according to the calendar, not for another week. But, who goes by the calendar. The clocks SPRING ahead an hour tonight. That happens in the SPRING, right?

And, the three feet of snow that has been in my front yard for weeks now is all gone. Donna, who has faithfully kept the snow shovelled, will be glad. Three days of rain, which is causing floods throughout Northeast Ohio, has washed away the mountains of snow almost overnight. Hello Kentucky and West Virginia, we're sending this water your way.

Why, Julie has the CORNED BEEF AND CABBAGE for St. Paddies day in the crock pot as I write. We buy our IRISH SODA BREAD, which is only available in the SPRING at our local Acme's. Boo! They had sold out when we got there but will have more at 8AM. We'll stop and get some on the way to church in the morning.

Yep! SPRINGS come at last although winter took it's toll. It kept me housebound, as far as walking was concerned, for the better part of two months. My worn out hip desperately needs to be exercised and I've walked it now for three days straight, rain and all. I enjoyed being out. My dog, Gunner, he was so happy to be able to run free.

Last year's flowers are all gone. The ORNAMENTAL CABBAGE that looked so beautiful when the snow first fell, was totally squashed and smothered by the long deep snow. The DUSTY MILLER in Julie's rock garden held it's own around the big maple tree.

WHOA, THAR, PARTNER! Is that green I see peaking through the barely thawed ground? Why, I believe its TULIPS AND CROCUSES. And, take a peek at these little jewels. Its SEDUM, (or Live Forever). When do we get these flowers? SPRINGTIME, in northeast Ohio, THAT'S WHEN!

My eldest son, Mark, has been riding his bike already. I haven't but will be soon. My younger son, Todd, and his wife, Amy, have planned a CROSS OHIO, SOUTH TO NORTH bike trip over the Easter Break--Amy is a teacher. Serious, year-around-bikers who amass thousands of miles each year on their bikes, they are riding from Cincinnatti on the Ohio River to Huron on Lake Erie. I get to provide the wheels to get them back home. Time spent with Todd and Amy is truly the best-of-times.

Want another sign of spring? I oiled my grandson, Riley's, baseball mitt for him a couple nights ago. SPRING, BASEBALL, yep, springs here.

Last, but not least, SPRING TIME BIRTHDAYS. At least since I got out of the Navy in the early '50s, my brother, Henry, and I called each other without fail on March 1st each year to remember our Grandma Pierce's birthday. I miss Henry. He wasn't worth much or good looking like me but it was a tradition we shared over many years. Need I say, on March 31st is my birthday. I know its coming, I can feel it in my old bones, HA.

My good friend, Sally Wilson, has a birthday on March 16th. Just a tad younger than me, she is one of those women who somehow just continues to be lovely. I've got a card ready to mail to her making fun of her looks. She'll get after me, thats for sure. She and her husband, Don, left the sunshine of Phoenix, AZ to get home in time for mine and Julie's South Sea Island Sea Food Buffett on March 20th.

For Maude in California, Dottie in West Virginia, Cheryl in Virginia, Myrna Rae in Florida and all you friends and family where ever you may be out there, SPRING is here. Lets enjoy it!

God Bless!

SUNDAY MORNING CONFIRMATION OF SPRING: Saw 4 robins going to church. That settles it! SPRING has sprung. Hurrah!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A TRIP DOWN MEMORY LANE: Navy Boot Camp

Julie walked into the office with a small, blue book. She said are you in this book? It was the 1948 Class Book of Company 291, Great Lakes U.S. Naval Training Station. Sure, I said. I'm right where you'd expect me to be, at the top, extreme right. Where else? I haven't changed since the day I was born which will soon be 79 years ago. Uh, yes, even then I was Meek, Lowly and Humble, Sweet, Gentle and Kind. Good Looking, too! What can I say?















From all around the nation, from every walk of life, young men showed up at the main gate at the Great Lakes U. S. Naval Training Station. It was July 23, 1948. Long time ago, huh? How long? Check out the "new" automobiles coming out of the gate.
The very first stop was to a room full of relatively small boxes. We had to strip and put all our possessions into the box which we had addressed home. If it didn't fit in the box it fit in the trash can.

The guys came dressed differently with a wide range of possessions. Some were well dressed and had good looking suitcases, some, like me, came empty handed. Naked in the box room no one had anything, no one was rich, no one was poor. We were issued dog tags. Mine read Pierce, WH, 930-16-10, O, P, (blood type O, Protestant). I still have one of the two tags. From there we went to the barber where we all had our heads shaved making us official skin heads.

After an extensive physical examination, we dressed in our newly issued uniforms and laced up our leggings, which we would wear for the next three months. With our sea bags on our shoulders we marched a couple miles to the barracks which would be our new home. We then fell out onto the "grinder" as Company 291. Where ever we went we marched as a company with a rifle on our shoulder. Well, sometimes the rifle was actually over our heads, held out in front, to the side or you name it. That nine pound rifle sure got heavy after awhile.

We may all have looked uniformly alike but we were sure different. The seven tallest guys were made boot petty officers. Hooray for my 6' 2". I was made the squad leader of the sixth squad of the second platoon. That little crow and stripe they gave me saved me from a lot of work and standing of trash can watches--I still have it, I mean, you never know. HA I was actually only a Seaman Apprentice, and barely 17 years of age, but I was in charge of 16 other men. (I would be in charge of others until the day I retired at age 60).

Most importantly, I was in great physical shape from football and boxing. Soft, overweight men were sorely stressed. My Dad had already indoctrinated me in discipline. The drill instructors had nothing on Dad. I also thought the food was great and you could have as much as you wanted, and I wanted a lot. I had never had so many new clothes. Would you believe, I actually had three, MAKE THAT THREE, pairs of shoes for the first time in my life. Unlike my fellow boots, I actually enjoyed boot camp. Some of the fellows from a more gentle background were indeed terrorized, losing a lot of weight. I gained weight!

We were issued a nine pound, Springfield 03 rifle, which we were allowed to put down only to eat or sleep. Well, actually, guys who had difficulty with gun drills got to sleep with their rifles. Otherwise, we lived with that "piece" for three months. Heaven help you if you called that rifle a gun. You were made to Duck Waddle with that rifle over your head repeating "This is my rifle, this is my gun" until you literally dropped.

We learned to shoot a 5" gun, a rifle, and a .45 automatic. I had been shooting guns since age 5 and did alright. What I really learned on the rifle range, however, was to hate JARHEADS, the Marine Instructors. They were brutal. I never again fired a gun in the Navy or spoke kindly about a jarhead.

Born near the Ohio River, I can't remember ever learning to swim. I just swam all my life. Many of those who were from the plains states away from the water could not swim. Jumping off the high platform into deep water was another terror for them. If they didn't jump they were pushed, screaming from the high platform, pushed not very gently I might add, with a long pole. After they were allowed to half drown the pole was then given to them and they were pulled out. They were then required to learn to swim on their precious personal time.

The most dangerous thing in the world for a sailor is not battles at sea. It is a fire at sea. There is a rating for fighting fires, Damage Controlman, but everyone had to go to Fire Fighting School.

There was a small building which simulated a compartment aboard ship. Oil spouted out of the walls and ceiling. When the oil was lighted it became an inferno. Dressed in Oil Skin clothing holding fire hoses the guys had to march into that burning building and put out the fire. It was a hot, dirty and dangerous assignment.

My little crow stood me in good during the day of fire fighting. The firemen picked the squad leaders to go to the Fire Station and paint. I spent the day outside, by myself--a real winner, in the sunshine, painting street curbs yellow. Yup! Squad Leader Pierce the painter. HA I would eventually earn a crow, Radioman Third Class, RM3, but that is another blog. Uh, yes, I still have my RM3 arm patch.

We learned to row a boat on Lake Michigan. Wow! That was just like home except that the 25' cutter we learned to launch was sure bigger than the Ohio River John Boats I grew up with. How difficult could it be to row a boat? You'd be surprised how awkward it was for a lot of boots as they hit each others long oars. Their instruction was not what you would think of as being pleasant. HA

Three months later Company 291 passed in review at graduation. Afterwards, we who passed boot camp, (some didn't), went through the same main gate. We were now Second Class Seaman. We laughed at the group of guys at the gate just reporting to boot camp. At long last, we were walking along without leggings, hooray.

We were bussed to the train station where we headed home for a 30 days leave before reporting to ships. Instead of going directly to the fleet I went to a Class A Radio School at Norfolk, VA. After graduation from Radio School, with a promotion to Radio Seaman First Class, RMSN, (equal to a Corporal in the Army), I reported to the USS Yuma ATF94 in Vallejo, California. Again, how long ago was that? Check out the steam engine train, then the latest thing in transportation.

A trip down memory lane? Yes! The training, discipline and leadership skills which I learned in boot camp and aboard ship further developed the character that would, and still does, sustain me in life.

My DD214 discharge papers said I had served my country for 4 years, 9 months and 17 days. As a Petty Officer Third Class my monthly pay, including a $20 a month Sea Duty Bonus, a $20 a month Longivity Bonus, (For every four years you get a hash mark on your sleeve and this bonus), and a $20 a month Battle Efficiency Award was $134. Ummm. Would you believe I saved $10 a month from my first pay in Boot Camp until I was discharged?

The Navy Hymn:

"Eternal Father, strong to save, whose arm hath bound the restless wave

Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep, its own appointed limits keep.

Oh hear us when we cry to Thee, for those in peril on the sea"

Go Navy!

God Bless!

Monday, March 8, 2010

GET'N IN SHAPE AGAIN - A New Diet

In an effort to reclaim full use of my decrepit old left hip I must FIGHT THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE all over again. Didn't we do that already in 1944? Through exercise and diet I need to lose somewhere in the neighborhood of 75 pounds.

Physically, I am sadly out of shape. I have used walking as my main exercise in recent years and with the combination of a bum hip and deep snow I haven't exercised at all in a couple months. It does not take long for the pounds to add up and the body to sag in all the wrong places, huh?

Working on the diet angle, this afternoon I headed for the Hartville Farm Market to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.This market has a strong Amish/Mennonite influence as can be seen
by the two young ladies from whom I bought today's produce.












There is always something special going on at the Hartville Market. Today it is JOHN DEERE equipment. You name it and it was on display. Great products and fun kicking the tires.

I bought for two families today. Almost a year ago my wife and I hired a wonderful neighbor to work for us, primarily to do all the things which I can no longer do. Her name is Donna. She cleans house, creates order from chaos, plants and cares for flowers and whatever it is that she thinks she can do to help us. She has been my right hand in all the social shin digs. She is fun and she is gutsy.

The dog poo has accumulated in the two feet of snow which has now mostly melted away. I just told Julie as we left for my son's church yesterday that I'd clean up the mess come Monday.

No problem! Donna beat me to it. Obviously, cleaning up after my dog is my job regardless of how I'm feeling. You can't really pay anyone for doing that kind of work. When I bought my produce I bought Donna and Benny, her husband, some huge purple grapes, two very large boxes of strawberries and a large bag of oranges. I was going to give her a McDonald's gift card but thought she'd appreciate the fresh fruit instead.

The Hartville Market started out many, many years ago as an outdoor market with a really ugly restaurant in an add-on-to-an-add-on-to-an-add-on of an old building. It was ugly but the Amish food was to die for. A few years ago they build a large, beautiful restaurant and also a large and beautiful market.

Julie says I go to the market as much for the chili dogs as I do for the produce. What she really says is that I get the hot dogs so I can talk to the cashier, Sharon. I don't know that Julie is wrong. Sharon is what I call a Good Time Charlie Girl! Spiked hair and a spectacular and warm smile, she reminds me of my daughter-in-law, Amy. I like "good time Charlie girls".

Today Sharon was also cleaning tables. There has always been other employees doing this. I asked if there had been a reduction of employees and she affirmed there had been about Thanksgiving time. She also said that with the coming of spring they thought business would increase enough to justify rehiring them.

My long, lost cousin, Cheryl emailed a miracle diet which I think will help me get the pounds off. Cheryl's great grandmother was my grandfather's sister. We spent some time together over Thanksgiving and she and her husband, Jack, are going to spend the first week of October this year at our Myrtle Beach Condo, alongwith my son Mark and his wife Mary Kay. Lately my blogs have been so serious I thought this story would lighten things up a bit? And, yes, Cheryl is definitely a "good time Charley girl"! This is her story:

My Trip to Costco:

Yesterday I was at my local COSTCO buying a large bag of Purina dog chow for my loyal pet, Biscuit, the Wonder Dog, and was in the checkout line when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant? So since I'm retired and have little to do, on impulse I told her that "No, I didn't have a dog. I was starting the Purina Diet again". I added that I probably shouldn't, because I ended up in the hospital last time, but that I'd lost 50 pounds before I awakened in an intensive care ward with tubes coming out of most of my orifices and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way it works is to load your pants pockets with Purina nuggests and simply eat one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally complete so it works well and I was going to try it again.

(I have to mention here that practically everyone in line was now enthralled with my story)

Horrified, she asked if I ended up in intensive care because the dog food poisoned me. I told her "No, I stepped off a curb to sniff an Irish Setter's butt and a car hit us both".

(I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was laughing so hard.)

Costco won't let me shop there anymore.

Better watch what you ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of crazy things to say.

WHAT A STORY! I BELIEVE EVERY WORD OF IT. DOG BISCUIT, ANYONE?

God Bless!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

THE LOST DAY: Truth or Fiction?

A long time friend of mine sent to me a story about NASA being unable to account for a day in time. As the story went, one of the NASA scientists, who was a Christian, recalled two Biblical incidents of God interfering with the length of days. Supposedly, when the NASA scientists checked their time computers, the day went missing during the period of time mentioned in the Bible.

Sadly, the public affairs office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland completely debunks the story. You can read about the origin of this story on the web at www.snopes.com/religion/lostday.asp.

Briefly, this story first emerged in a book written in 1936 by Harry Rimmer, entitled the Harmony of Science and Scripture. Instead of NASA, Rimmer cited a book written in 1890 as his proof. In those days, as is still somewhat true of this day, if it's in print some people believe it's true. Someone with a good imagination simply updated the story using NASA as current proof.

Thankfully, the Bible does not require proof. Just the fact that it has existed as a force in the life of so many through centuries has merit. Ben Franklin was a brilliant, gifted writer. Can you put your hand on a copy of Poor Richards Almanac? I bet not. Right beside me are two study Bibles and other Bibles are throughout the house.

The great secret of the Bible lies in faith. It is mentioned at least 446 times, if I counted correctly, from Exodus through Timothy. By Faith Ye Are Saved. There is a long list of "by Faith" in the Bible. It is not necessary to read of faith. Faith can be experienced. It is real.

I think of my good friend, now deceased, Orville Nichols. Nick and I were friends for decades. He was quite a bit older than me but we were, among other things, fellow coon hunters. I could tell some great coon hunting stories about Nick. It warms my heart to recall each of them.

Nick had retired as an electrician from Columbia Chemical in Barberton, Ohio and moved back to his home in West Virginia. We had not seen each other for many years when I suggested to my brother Henry, now also deceased, that we look old Nick up. We did. It was sad. Living up a hollow in a trailer, he suffered from Alzheimer's disease and did not know us.

I recounted several stories about our experiences to Nick but he could not remember. Then, I asked if he remembered what his Dad said the night when, in his youth, Nick accepted Christ. He did not remember. I did. I'd heard old Nick tell the story many times.

In those day parents slept in what was called the "front room". Mom and Dad did. Among the other blessings, it was where the fireplace was located, the only source of heat in the house, excepting the cook stove which was used sparingly to save wood.

When Nick came home from church and told of his conversion, his parents were in bed. His Dad turned to his Mother and said "Do you suppose it will stop him from cussing?" It did. I asked Nick if he remembered the rest of the story, I'd heard him tell it so often over the years.

He brightened up in remembering as he said "Even the old mule knew I had been saved." From that point of the visit Nick, who was well into his nineties, remembered us and several of our adventures together. It ended a happy day for all concerned.

The point? Faith, the unseen, brings about great changes for good. This is but the most simple of examples. By Faith I took my package of Old Gold cigarettes out of my pockets and never smoked again. No, Mr. Obama, I did not chew Nicolette gum. My faith sustained me.

It is so easy to grasp at flimsy stories, such as the one about NASA and the missing day. It may be difficult at times, but real stories of faith abound.

By faith my eldest son, Mark, left a source of great wealth to become a humble servant. He is now an ordained minister struggling to start a new and different church in Mansfield, Ohio. By faith, he is pursuing a second Master's Degree, this one in Religious Philosophy at the Ashland Seminary.

By faith my youngest son, Todd, also an ordained minister, retired, after what may have been 30 years of being a pastor. Todd has no obivious source of income at age 50 but he lives well by faith. and the results of being wise and frugal for 30 years. He, like me, is also blessed with a good wife who works. Amy is an art teacher.

While I was the first in my extended family to graduate from high school, by faith my children and all my grandchildren have graduated, or will graduate, from college. By faith my grandchildren, Jillian and David, are taking spouses this summer. Faith abounds. It abounds at the little, country church I attend, the Easton United Methodist Church established by faith in 1877. It certainly abounds in this office and at this keyboard.

May the life of the friend who thoughtfully emailed this story to me be blessed by her faith.

May your life be blessed with faith.

God Bless!

NATIONALIZED HEALTH PLAN: Part Two

ANOTHER LONG BLOG ON A VERY SERIOUS SUBJECT: Be patient, please!

As I expected, I have received a response to my health care blog pointing out the need for some changes. I FULLY AGREE!

First of all, the costs of health care in America is ridiculous. Like sugar or peanuts, government control, or lack thereof, elevates the costs beyond reason.

FRIVOULOUS LAW SUITES greatly increase the cost of medicine. Effective tort reform could correct this problem. When those controlling the laws are mostly attorneys, chances of correcting this problem are slim to none. Obama has given it "window dressing" but thats all. Probably the GOP would make a correction but, even when they were in control, they failed to do so in the past.

There are people who are constantly searching for grounds for a law suit. I had a relative who was just like that. Although she and her husband were enjoyable to be around, my brother Henry, who was a gracious host, refused to allow these folks to stay at his home when they were visiting from their home in Florida. He feared being sued, and with good reason.

When I was a stock broker I had a client like my relative. After this client faked a fall on the beautiful brick sidewalk to my office and collected a settlement, I fired her. As she was quite wealthy from her unethical legal pursuits, she couldn't believe I could refuse to service her account. I did!

PRIOR ILLNESS refusals by insurance companies also needs attention. My own son, Mark, is without insurance for this reason. The insurance companies collect money for years until a problem happens, then they dump their clients just like I did the lady above. The problem is that they are just as unethical as was she. I AM CONFIDENT THIS WILL CHANGE.

EVERYONE MUST BE TREATED EQUALLY, or so says our SPREAD THE WEALTH president. WHY? Everyone does not work equally. There will always be those who take short cuts in life, drop out of school, have children out of wedlock, or just refuse to work. And, it is in all families.

I like to joke about working. I say that "I worked for 43 years and now I've loafed for 20 years. Loafing is better. Just have them mail the checks each month."

The key here is that I DID WORK FOR 43 YEARS. I did serve my country. I did go to school. I did do what it took to be constantly promoted to better paying jobs. When caught up in a plant closing, I paid the price of risking all when I moved up to an even better paying job. A straight commission job where I was paid exactly what I earned, I might add.

My wife, likewise, has always and still does, work. Much younger than me, when she was also caught up in a plant closing, she went to college. After twenty years with the same company, she has now worked her way up to a key employee position. My wife's employer covers my insurance costs, although Julie makes meaningful monthly payments.

I have two relatives, both now deceased, who never worked to speak of. They did not get an education. They had children out of wed lock depending upon the government to care for them and their children. Their primary knowledge was how to qualify for this assistance from the government. Eventually they became too obese to walk and the government gave them both power scooters. The government provided them with a beautiful condo in which to live. The government carried in food, cooked and otherwise. The government had nurses and caretakers come into their homes weekly to check them physically and to clean their homes. The government provided their health care, doctors, hospitals and medications. The government buried them. All for free, or paid for by we who worked.

Contrast the above paragraph with the experiences of my brother Henry, also now deceased. Henry served his country, during war time volunteering for extremely dangerous duty. He always had a main job and worked at least one job on the side. His wife owned a gift shop for which they financed themselves without help from anyone. His wife also worked straight commission sales jobs. They owned rental property. They were very active in church and community affairs.

At the end of Henry's life he got bone cancer. He had what OBAMA called "CADILAC" INSURANCE from the United Steel Workers Union. None-the-less, the cost of fighting the cancer far exceeded his insurance. Henry died leaving medical bills which his wife could not pay if she lived to be a hundred and worked every day. Her credit is ruined, though no fault of her own. Her home, the rental property and her gift shop is constantly under legal threat. She and my brother did everything right but still lost in the end.

I might add that it always bothered Henry that when he needed a power scooter, it would have cost him thousands of dollars because he had been frugal and owned property. His two nieces, however, qualified for free chairs because they owned nothing. GO FIGURE.

My son, Mark, has a blood problem and the system has failed him. He got a good education, worked very hard, made good decisions, and now works full time for the community. Just like my brother, all that he owns is at risk. HE WOULD BUY INSURANCE IF HE COULD. HE CAN'T. THIS HAS TO CHANGE.

And the costs! Last year I had an MRI. Great tool. When I signed the papers for the MRI I was told the costs will be $800. I thought "that sure was high for a half hours work" but my doctor needed the MRI. Did he need it to effect a cure. NO! He needed it for PROTECTION FROM LAWSUITS---Protective Medicine. SHOCKER! The $800 was my CO-PAY. The cost of the half hour exam was $5,000. THAT WAS $5,000 TO PROTECT THE DOCTOR AGAINST A FRIVILOUS LAW SUITE. This has to change, also.

Thank goodness for Walmart's $4.00 prescription plan. It is very convenient to buy my drugs, of which my wife and I take a lot, at a nearby CVS. After I changed to Walmart the local CVS did everything imaginable to get me to come back. We did after they agreed to meet the Walmart prices. We must ask for a price check everytime we give them a prescription, however. I would not do that but my wife will. Thank goodness for a good wife!

IN his effort to redistribue wealth to those who have not paid the price, President Obama and his cohorts in Congress do nothing to address any of the above problems. WEALTH DISTRIBUTION TAKES AWAY FROM THE WORKERS AND GIVES THE FRUITS OF THEIR LABOR TO THE DRONES in exchange for votes. We must change that with our votes.

In America today there are far more workers than drones. If you are one of the "WORKERS" who shares the same thoughts as expressed above, JOIN IN THE FIGHT FOR "REAL" CHANGE. Become active! VOTE OUT THE BUMS. You have everything to gain and nothing to lose. CAN YOU SAY TEA PARTY? And, for goodness sake, VOTE!

God bless you and God bless the USA.