Tuesday, December 22, 2009

I believe there are times when all of us fall
short in the expectations we have for ourselves.
The current brouhaha about Tiger Woods comes to
mind. I have fallen short on several occasions,
most of them are on a deeply personal level and
involved the way I treated, or mistreated,
someone I cared about. An example would be that
many years ago, when my two children were under 5
years old, my ex-wife and I asked our next door
neighbors to look after them while we went
shopping. They agreed, but insisted that we
return early because they wanted to go to Easter
Sunday Sunrise Service the next morning. For
whatever reason, we picked our children up after
midnight. I remember being so ashamed as I
knocked on their door. My friend and his wife
were justifiably angry and told me so. I
remember making myself a promise to never allow
something like that to happen again. I was 22
years old then and in all the years since that
time, to my knowledge, I have never broken a
promise. So, I do not assume that Tiger Woods
cannot change his behavior. That change will
happen, in my opinion, not because he let someone
else down, it will be because he let himself

Jerilyn's mother, Gladys, recently underwent back
surgery. It seems, at her age (91), the
vertebrae keep fracturing, requiring the doctor
to make a small slit on her back, inject some
type of glue, and then 1½ later send her home to
recover. It is fast becoming apparent to us
that her days of visiting on Sunday are over.
She seems determined on staying in the Health
Care section of her retirement community and not
going back to her apartment in the Independent
Living section.

I recently discovered that Jerilyn's oldest son,
Dean, was in need of a pair of car ramps. I did
the necessary research online and in the local
paper and soon realized the price for that item
really increased from way back when I bought
mine. Craigslist online revealed that a fellow
in a town close to us (Smithfield) had a pair he
wanted to sell cheaply. So within a few days,
his old rusty ramps were setting in my shed,
awaiting the necessary sanding and painting. It
is never a good thing for me to get involved in a
project like this. Seems like it takes forever
for me to finish it. The sanding wasn't a
problem, but the weather failed to cooperate
temperature wise. All spray paint cans will
tell you not to paint unless the temp is at least
60°. I don't worry about it very much if I can
get temps close to that and the sun is shining.
I finally got tired of waiting and waded into the
painting thing, ignoring the temp. What I found
out was the paint would appear dry after several
hours, but would not harden. Even the slightest
trauma to its surface would result in missing
paint. The project is on hold until the weather
changes. It may be spring before Dean gets his
ramps. Hopefully, he will not need them until

I have been searching for a way to transmit the
music from my PC to my stero system. I found
unit that does that, made in China. They have
several models, ranging from .5 watts to 10
watts. A lot of AM stations used to transmit at
50 watts, so 10 watts was out of the question.
The .5 watts had a range of 1600 feet, which was
more than I needed, but the specs said the power
could be reduced. The FCC gets upset when your
signal reaches other homes, so I knew I had to be
careful. Well, in about 10 days the unit arrives
to a tickled-to-death guy at 49 Carriage Hill
Drive. I open it up and the package contains
absolutely no instructions. "Well", says I, "it
doesn't seem to have that many buttons and places
to plug things in, I should be able to figure
this thing out". So off I go, merrily plugging
things in and getting ready to go on "The Air".
Aaah! The sweet sound of music coming out of my
stero was great, and clear as a bell, no hum, or
crackling at all. I go out, get in the car and
tune it to 87.5 on the FM dial (the transmitting
frequency I set my unit to). I commence driving
around the area to see how far the signal is
traveling. A half mile away and the signal is
still strong. "Man", says I, "this could land
me in jail. I gotta do something about this". I
get back home, examine my transmitter closely and
there is no way to reduce the signal strength.
Finally, it comes to me, remove part of the
antenna. It comes in 3 sections, currently I am
down to 1 section and the signal stops at our
front yard. Prison time avoided yet again!

A few days ago I exchanged letters with a lady
that, unknowingly, had a big impact on my life.
It was the summer of 1951 and I was 10 years old.
The Page coal camp was home to about 20 families,
whose fathers worked for the Page Coal company.
None of the families owned a TV and the only
telephone was a company system that identified
you by the number of rings (to the best of my
knowledge only the important people-bosses- had
telephones). There was very little contact with
the world outside that small coal camp. That
summer, Gwen Mullins began reading a novel to her
5 children on her front porch. The reading
session lasted an hour and took place every day,
except Sunday, rain or shine. She was kind
enough to let other children become fascinated
listeners. It was amazing to me how she could
change her voice to become the character speaking
and draw me into the world of that story. To
this very day, I do most of my traveling through
books and I know that my fondness of them stems
from the delight derived from listening to Gwen
Mullins read. She is probably close to 90 years
old now, but, I'll bet good money she still reads
and I hope her grandchildren had the opportunity
to enjoy novels read by such a wonderful person.

As most of you know, each year I give you a
chance to opt out of receiving this missive. To
continue receiving it just click on the reply
button and send this back to me. I will make
note of your name and include you in next year's
distribution list. By not replying I will assume
that you really do not have the time to read it
and your name will be removed. If you receive
this via regular mail you can call me
(757-868-4369) or send me a note (49 Carriage
Hill Drive, Poquoson, VA 23662). Please know
that I will not be disappointed if you chose not
to continue receiving it.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I think we all worry and I believe it is an internal wiring thing
that requires us to do so. Myself, if I have nothing to worry
about, my mind begins to conjure-up things to worry about, things
that will in all probability, never happen. When that happens I
know it is time to get involved in something quickly. Normally,
I plug in my mp3 player and continue listening to an audiobook
and then head outside to do some physical labor that doesn't
require much in the way of concentration. And that works for me.
By the time I have finished the project the need to worry about
something has vanished and I can move on to other things
unhindered by the built-in need to ponder over that which I have
absolutely no control. I just try to remember that I have the
people on my prayer list that need God's help and that I need to
trust in him to take care of their needs. That's what he does
and he's good at it! There is an old saying that goes something
like this: "Don't feel totally, irreconcilably, responsible for
everything, that's God's job".

A while back I read something, I don't remember what, and it
included a line that said "There is prosperity in hope". I
jotted the line down because it caught my attention. Normally we
think of prosperity as being in a good position financially. So,
what was the meaning in that statement? I have often heard
"Hope and prosperity", but never before "There is prosperity in
hope". Could it mean that we are capable of transcending our
present state of being and be emotionally prosperous if we have
hope in our lives? I have gone through periods in my life where
hope was not present, where hope was so far away it seemed
non-existent. When it re-entered, emotional prosperity returned
also. I think it is utterly impossible to enjoy life without the
presence of hope. Hope is in my life every single day,
therefore, I am a prosperous guy.

The leaves have started their descent from our trees to our
yard. The other day I pulled out our yard vacuum and started
sucking them up. Halfway across the yard I look back and I can
barely tell that I have done anything. They are coming down so
fast that my efforts appear to do little good. I continue on
knowing that it will be several weeks before the last leaf falls.
To complicate my efforts even more, the pine needles have begun
to compete with the leaves for a place to nest in our yard. I
put out some new grass seed the other day to fill in the areas
that did not grow from my seeding efforts back in September and
all the covering material coming from our trees will definitely
impact the growth of the new seeds. All I can do is keep up the
fight and see what happens.

I read an article the other day in which the author tried to
describe the single greatest thing he had ever done. I have been
pondering that question the past few days and, it seems, I'm at a
loss to come up with anything. At first, I thought it might be
the single thing that gave me the most safisfaction, something I
had done that made me happy, but I think it means the single
thing that I have done that did the most good for others. I
have done a lot of good things for others in my life, but nothing
singular stands out. If it pertained to courage, the single most
courageous (stupid) thing I have done is jump off a 25 foot
diving platform, at age 21, head first and almost drowning in the
process. If it had to do with happiness, it would be coaching a
Colt League baseball team in the regional's final game (albeit
losing 7-6). I'm sure somewhere in there should be the birth
of my two children, my 1st & 2nd marriage, or the birth of my
grand-children. Maybe, it would include making the "All County"
football team during my senior year of high school. I must give
this idea so more thought.

Jerilyn and I attended several "Estate Sales" in the past few
weeks . The first one was across the creek from us and started
at 8:00 am. We roll out of bed early, eager, and excited about
the potential "something for nothing" buys we were going to make.
Alas, we don't find much there, but I picked up two small
figurines and took them over to Jerilyn and ask her if they would
be good for her Christmas manger scene. "Nope", says she, so I
take them back and placed them in the small basket they were in
before I took them out. I notice as I walked around inspecting
the items for sale that a couple are looking at me and whispering
and I wonder to myself "What they are saying!". I remembered
once a few years ago a fellow ran up to me at the Virginia State
Fair and asked me if I was Bill Clinton. Another time, a lady
in Bermuda asked me if I was a tennis star. Now, I wondering who
this couple thinks I am. They watch, curiously, as we leave and
walk to the truck. I start the truck and start to pull away when
the guy comes over to my door and indicates that he wants me to
roll the window down. I do so and he ask me "What did you do
with the two figurines you had in your hand?". I explained to
him where I put them, he looks doubtful, but walks back to his
yard. I did not pull away until he located the items and waved
his hand that he had found them. No longer do I look like Bill,
or a tennis star, now I look like a thief. Aging sure changes
things doesn't it?

Most medium sized towns have a freecycle place on the 'net.
Ours, here in Poquoson, is freecyclepoquoson at Yahoo Groups.
You can check to see if your town has one at
http://www.freecycle.org/ . The purpose of the group is to give
things away to others that you plan on sending to the landfill.
I have been a member of our group for 2-3 years now and, although
I get a lot of emails from the website that I'm not interested
in, a lot of the times there are interesting things you can pick
up. The other day a lady had a grass Thatcher, that you pull
behind a lawn tractor, up for grabs. I responded right away and
being the first in line, was given the Thatcher. The next day
Jerilyn and I are at her house, load it in the back of the truck
and head home. I must say that it suffered from a lot of
neglect, but underneath the rust and dirt was the makings of
something that was going to keep a lot of sweat off my brow come
next fall. Over the next several days I take it apart, sand,
wire brush and paint. I am now a proud owner of a new-to-me
sparkling black Thatcher. My next assignment will be to find a
place to store it in the shed. Speaking of sheds, author Gordon
Thorburn examined the shed proclivity in his book "Men and
Sheds", in which he argues that a shed is a place of retreat and
is a male necessity which provides men with solace, especially
during their retirement. Amen!

Monday, September 28, 2009


I ran across this quote recently and
was sorta taken aback by what it said:
"Children begin by loving their parents.
After a time they judge them. Rarely, if
ever, do they forgive them."
- Oscar Wilde
I tried to relate this quote to my
parents and then to my two children. I
cannot, ever, remember judging my
parents, but after reading the quote and
thinking about it for a bit I suppose I
did (without expounding on the reasons).
I also think it would be fair to say
that my children have judged their
parents. Since we are divorced their
judgment, in all probability, is that we
failed as husband & wife (a given) and,
maybe, even as parents (I hope they
don't). I must say that I do believe
there is a lot of truth in the quote and
that when the child's forgiveness comes
I suspect it would be after their
parents passing. True forgiveness for
the intentional infliction of distress
is hard to accomplish. There is only
one person in my life that I have been
unable to forgive. It was business
related and the intention was deliberate
and prolonged. Somehow, I know that
when I arrive at the entrance to Heaven,
Saint Peter's first question will be:
"Why did you not forgive XXXXX". My
only hope is that I will be judged by
the entirety of my life and not the
inability to forgive one person for
their transgressions.

Age robs us of height. I have a good
friend who complains that when he goes
for his yearly physical he always loses
some height. Myself, I have gone from
5'10.5" to 5'10". I assume as we age
our spine starts to collapse and as we
approach 70 the effect is pronounced. I
saw a fellow on the news the other night
that is the oldest man in the world at
113 (I think he lives in Montana). He
must have been a giant of a man because
he still looked fairly tall. He was in
a wheelchair so it was fairly difficult
to tell. As things go, the oldest
person in the world is a woman age 114
and she lives in Okinawa, Japan. Fred
H. Hale was the oldest living man in
2004. He died in November of that year.
If I live that long they will be able to
bury me in a shoebox. I dunno if we are
related, but I'm hoping we are! The
longest unambiguously documented
lifespan is that of Jeanne Calment of
France (1875-1997), who died at age 122
years and 164 days. I think it is a
long held scientific belief that it is
impossible to live past 122.

None of my grandparents owned a car
during my lifetime. I can remember
catching the bus with Grandpa & Grandma
McCoy and going to Grundy (5 miles away)
the only town I knew as a 4-5 year old
boy. I do not know how Grandpa &
Grandma Hale traveled. I never saw them
in a car. None of my grandparents ever
took a vacation, nor, am I aware that
they traveled very far from their home.
None of them seemed, to me, to be
unhappy. What wonderful people they
were. They never complained about other
people, nor, what they didn't have.
Grandma McCoy used to chastise me (age
5) for yelling at the pretty little girl
that walked by on the road below, on her
way to the grocery store, and calling
her sweetheart. "Tommy Joe", says she,
" don't be calling to that ol' Hatfield
girl!" (we were supposed to hate all
Hatfields). I guess the point I'm
making is that my grandparents never
traveled much, heck, my parents didn't
travel all that much either. Jerilyn
and I have been home 3 months and we are
itching to take off again. How much
better our life is than the previous two
generations in my life. As I set here,
staring at a picture of my mom & dad
when they were 20, I find it impossible
to be thankful enough for the many
blessing in my life.

Have you ever tried to sharpen a knife
on a whetstone? I have never had much
luck sharpening knives. As a matter of
fact, I think they always come out
duller than when I started. Well, the
other day, as I was listening to an
audio book that takes place in the
1930's, this guy says to his son, "Jack,
let me show you how to sharpen your
pocket knife. Here's how: place your
knife on the stone, angle it the height
of your thumb and then only go in one
direction. Do both sides 10 strokes
each, checking the sharpness each time a
cycle is completed". Well, nothing to
do, but me to go out into the garage,
pull out my whetstone and Git R Dun. I
took Jerilyn's handy/dandy kitchen knife
(the one she uses for everything) and
after two complete cycles that knife
would cut a sheet of paper like it was a
stick of hot butter. I have only known
one person that could sharpen a knife
like that. Now, I know two, and one of
them is me!

Did you know that you can send a
message from your PC to someone's
cellphone? Here how:
Open your email program and type the
person's 10 digit cellphone number,
followed by @vtext.com - see example
For Verizon users only:
xxx=area code + number, no spaces
This only works for Verizon. I tried it
using my son's phone number and he
received the message. If you have a
different carrier you may want to find
out if they have the same feature.

Monday, September 21, 2009


I am always aware of the day within each
week because I do certain things on each
day, i.e. run on Monday, Wednesday &
Friday; lift weights on Tuesday,
Thursday & Saturday. I always have
trouble with holidays. I guess it's
because I'm retired. I know the
significance of each holiday, but
somehow, the importance of each are
forgotten in the minutiae of daily life.
I think that is so sad. This past Labor
Day is an excellent example. The people
that labor each day are responsible for
the things I enjoy and, yes, even for my
monthly income. If not for them I would
not receive my monthly checks, or be
able to take my wife out to dinner, or
purchase new tires for my car. I know
it is very irresponsible for me to
overlook the value of those fine people
in my life. I have pondered over what
I can do to overcome my indifference and
I have decided that several days before
each holiday I will go to Wikipedia and
research their origin and the impact of
each one. For example: "The first
observance of Labor Day is believed to
have been a parade of 10,000 workers on
Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City,
organized by Peter J. McGuire, a
Carpenters and Joiners Union secretary.
By 1893, more than half the states were
observing a 'Labor Day' on one day or
another, and Congress passed a bill to
establish a federal holiday in 1894.
President Grover Cleveland signed the
bill soon afterward, designating the
first Monday in September as Labor Day."
I have come to the conclusion that if I
want something to be important I have to
motivate myself. I think I have found a
way to do that.

In a conversation with my daughter last
week she mentioned that she hasn't taken
a vacation in several years. It seems
her time off is usually because she is
sick (flu, cold, bronchitis) or having
to take care of business. The time she
has to relax is normally spent at home.
"Dad", says she, "Next year I'm going on
a cruise somewhere!". I agree with
her. I think we all should look forward
to something special each year. When
Jerilyn and I plan a trip I always enjoy
the weeks before, anticipating the
escape from daily life. I remember as
a young man in my 30's, my ex-wife and I
went to a lot of NASCAR races
(Charlotte, Talladega, Daytona, etc).
About a week before we were to leave my
left jaw would swell. This happened
about three times before I noticed it.
The next time it happened I went to the
dentist. Turns out, I had an low grade
infection under one tooth and the
excitement of the upcoming adventure
aggravated it. I took the prescribed
antibiotics, had the tooth extracted and
the problem went away. I was always
intrigued that looking forward to
something could be so important to me.
It still does to this very day. If you
have nothing to look forward to, you
will have nothing to look back on.

Sure as shootin' is a phrase I used as
a young boy. Its meaning was that
something definitely was going to
happen. I am, what was called years
ago, a "Shade Tree Mechanic". I will
work on practically anything, whether I
know anything about it or not. I guess
I think I can apply common sense and
figure out 'most anything. That usually
works….up to a point. That's where the
"Sure as shootin' " thing works its way
into my life. The faucet on our kitchen
sink was leaking and had been leaking
for awhile. I forewarned Jerilyn that I
was not a plumber and I could possibly
make the situation worse, as well as
improve it. Well, sure as shootin' I
made it worse. I may as well have
placed a grenade inside it (the faucet)
and dove for cover. Off we trek to
Home Depot/Lowe's to purchase a
sparkling new one. Fortunately, I
installed it fairly quickly and in a
couple of hours it was working, but with
one minor leak. I tightened it a couple
of times in the coming days and it still
leaks. I expect that when I am standing
in front of Saint Peter that darn thing
will still be leaking.

This is a touchy subject, but, the
other day I read an article in a
magazine that said the average person
uses 57 sheets of toilet tissue paper
per day. That equates, according to the
article, to 16 million trees per year.
Being the type of guy I am, I decided to
check my usage over several days and, lo
and behold, I averaged 17 tissues per
day! That's 40 less per day than the
average person uses. What on earth
could you guys/gals be doing that
require you to use that many tissues?

Well, it's the time of year when the
lawnmower is lowered to the lowest
setting and the grass is cut almost
even with the ground. We then pull out
our thatching rakes and begin the
laborious task of scratching every inch
of our yard that contains grass.
Normally, by the time we finished this
project I have lost 10 pounds. Next
comes the chemical to kill the
wiregrass, then the fertilizer and grass
seed. After that comes the watering
that is necessary to get the grass
started. I have been watering the
grass for several days now and noticed
that some new sprouts are peeping up.
Now, if only we could get some rain.

Monday, September 7, 2009


One of the things I really enjoy is receiving emails from my friends telling me what's going on in their world. My last WOW generated quite a few replies and I enjoyed each one. I have come to accept the undeniable fact that the more contact I have with the people I enjoy, the better my life becomes. Reaching out reveals, I think, a need to include others in your life and to enhance your life through your shared mutual experiences. Some of the experiences you relate to me make me laugh, others make me sad, and still others make me think. When all is said and done, I am a better person because people like you choose to reveal a small slice of your life, or an opinion, with me. To all of you who share I say "Keep up the good work!".

The other evening around 7:00 pm I had finished reading our daily paper, put it aside for Jerilyn to read in a couple of months (her pile goes back to March) and reclined in my chair for a nap. After all, naps are what people my age are notorious for taking. I quickly approached that area of sleep we all strive for called REM (Rapid Eye Movement). It is this stage of sleep that is supposed to be the most rewarding. It is where I either, become a hero, or I'm scared out of my wits; I'm slaying dragons, or being chased by something and it is impossible for me to escape. Just as I'm about to do something heroic, Jerilyn puts her hand on my shoulder, shakes me vigorously and tells me to "Wake up, wake up, there are about 7 poopin' geese in the back yard". You should know that we are very unkind to Canadian Geese in our back yard. They remind me of when I used to go up Clell Holler to visit my Grandma & Grandpa Hale. They had plenty of chickens and those chickens roamed everywhere. There was practically no place you could go without stepping on their droppings.

Anyway, I groggily got out of my chair, headed for the garage to obtain my weapon of choice (a Wal-Mart slingshot and a pocket full of marbles) and out the door I go in my best Indian crouch, slingshot loaded, hiding behind trees and bushes as I approach my prey. Half-way there they pick up my scent, or whatever it is they pick up, and stand very silent and vigilant. I step from behind the tree and let go with my first shot, it goes zinging over their heads into the creek. I reload again with the same results. I expected, I guess, that the geese would start to chatter amongst themselves, but, they just stood there quietly. I knew it was useless to hit one of the males, so I concentrated only on the small females. If I could hurt one of them, it would fly away and the others would follow. On the fourth shot I nailed a small female and in unison every goose went airborne, flying down the creek screeching epithets at me. Geese have a very good memory, so I don't expect them back for another six months. My slingshot and marbles are waiting for me in the garage.

A few weeks ago someone left a message on our answering machine. It lasted about 2 minutes, but, what caught my attention was the number of times "you know" was used (16). That is probably the most over used phrase in the English language. I think, perhaps, we use it as a placeholder while we think of the next thing we want to say, but it becomes very distracting when it is used too much. Since that time, I have tried to notice how often I used that phrase and as it turns out, I too, am guilty of the same, only not quite as often as the caller. So let it be known far and wide, the "you know" police are out monitoring conversations and tickets will be forthcoming.

I took our truck to our local Dodge dealership the other day. They called a few days earlier and offered me a special rate ($40) for an oil change, tire rotation, car wash and 24 point inspection. I also had them replace the PCV valve (positive crankcase ventilation) and fix a problem I was having with it idling too fast and the cruise control not working. Total cost was $125. I wasn't unhappy with that price, considering the amount of additional work assigned to them. I specifically stated to the service rep that I wanted it greased. I gave her a list of things I wanted done. I get home with the truck, and as I normally do, I changed clothes and crawled underneath to see that it was greased. The reason for doing that is the last four times I took my vehicles to have it serviced (I normally do it myself) it has not been lubricated. Yup! You guessed correctly, it wasn't. Aggravation is not a condition I enjoy, but as you can imagine, aggravation set in on me big time. I head inside and call the service rep and explained to her what happened. "Hold on", says she, "I will check with the mechanic". She returns shortly and says "I checked with the mechanic and he says it didn't need greasing". "Lady", says I, "I specifically stated that I wanted that done and I'm very unhappy that it wasn't! Your company normally calls me after a visit to inquire as to my experience. I will tell them I was very unhappy". "Well", says she, "that's unfortunate, but do what you have to do". I am not a violent man, but people are pushing me in that direction

Jerilyn and I ran our favorite trail today (Noland), but this time it had a different twist: it was pouring rain. The Trail is about 30 minutes from our home and all the way there she was fretting over the possibility of rain. We arrive at our starting point and, sure enough, it started to drizzle. We decide to proceed without our customary warm-up. Well, about 1.5 miles later it starts to pour, I look over at Jerilyn (she has a piece of plastic over her head) and she is drenched. I tell her, without cracking a smile, "You aren't really wet until your underwear is wet, so you can't judge by your outer garments". She looks back at me with a frown and says "Well, I'm officially wet!". So was I. We finished our run in 55 minutes, dried ourselves as best we could with the towels we took with us and jumped into the truck, both of us feeling a surge of enthusiasm for what we had just been through. Sometimes, the rain can wash our cares aware, renew our energy and improve our outlook for a short period of time. That's what it did for us. I expect that renewal to last all day. I'm already looking forward to the next time we can run and play in the rain like children.

I hope you're enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world. Thanks for reading my monthly missive.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Two Sunday's ago we had a guest minister
(Rev. Wayne Olson). The subject of his
sermon was "How to Get Out of a Rut". I
think we all, at times, feel like our life
has gotten into a rut and we are at a loss on
how to change it. I wrote down the things he
suggested and I would like to pass them on to
you with the hope they will guide you if you
need help.
" Assume responsibility for your life
" Believe you can change
" Make friends with your regrets (what a
novel concept!)
" Clarify what you really need
" Stop worrying about what others say
" Stop waiting for ideal circumstances
" Do something bold and dramatic, refuse
to procrastinate
" Do it now
I have promised myself that I will store
these points somewhere in the dusty bins of
my brain and use them whenever I get that
"rut" feeling. As our minister pointed out,
you are in a rut when you can take your hands
off the wheel of your life and it travels,
unassisted, down life's highway.

When my boat capsized last month I lost my
cellphone (it doesn't like water) and my
wallet (same reason). My wallet needed
replacing anyway. It's pretty bad when you
pull your wallet out to extract a credit
card, or money, and it has staples placed in
strategic places to hold something together.
For some reason I am reluctant to replace my
wallet. Maybe, it's because over the years
it has shaped itself to fit snugly to my hip,
or, it has become soft and pliant. For
whatever reason, I normally keep the thing
until I am ashamed to pull it out of my

One of the very nice attributes Jerilyn has
is whenever you tell her you need to do
something she helps wholeheartedly. I told
her I needed to replace my wallet and it
immediately went to the top of her ToDo list,
so off we went searching for wallets (at the
best price of course). I must have looked
at a two dozen wallets. After awhile I
became confused and had no idea what I had
looked at previously and which ones I
preferred. Unwilling to let Jerilyn see my
confusion, I decided to pick one at the very
next rack we encountered. I am now the proud
owner of a new black wallet that is a mite
too big for me to extract easily from my
pocket. I have to become part contortionist
to get that darn thing out of my pants. I
keep thinking that it will get smaller as
time goes by, but I'm quite sure that is not

My cellphone (the Krave that got wet when I
went for a swim) had to be replaced since it
failed to respond to my efforts to get it up
and running. I called Verizon to see how
much it would cost to replace it
($240-normally $300). I looked on Craig's
List and found several in the area, with
prices ranging from $125 - $200. I finally
bought one from a local resident for $80. It
works fine and I am very pleased with it. I
guess the point here is, if you want to buy
something for 1/3 retail and are determined,
you can do so. I have had a few
disappointments using this technique, but a
good buy will easily wipe out any previous
loss (or doubt). This is not for the faint
of heart.

I recently decided that my old 1996 Dodge Ram
needed a new paint job. Paint had started to
flake off in various places and it had begun
to look a little tattered and worn (sorta
like me). Being two-toned (white/gray), I
knew, would cost more. Freddy's (a local
paint shop about a mile from the house)
wanted $2500 (ouch!). I could not bring
myself to put $2500 into a paint job for a
$4000 truck. What to do? I called our local
Earl Schieb franchise and took our truck in
for an estimate. Earl says, "I can paint
your truck for………$725!). I really tried to
keep that big smile off my face (you know,
like they do in poker). That sparkling,
beautiful, truck is setting in our driveway
and I smile every time I walk by it. Hey,
pretty things make me happy.

As I looked back over this missive, trying to
detect misspelled words and grammatical
errors (which I am not very good at doing), I
noticed that several of my musings were about
the price of something. That got me to
wondering if, maybe, what I paid for
something was being given to much importance.
I know that when I was young that was very
important to dad. He always got delight from
buying something at a ridiculously low price.
It could be that each time I buy something on
the cheap I'm saying "Hey Dad, whatta you
think of that price?". Of course, I'm
probably not saying anything to him when the
purchase turns out to be a dud.

I ran across this in an article and wanted to
pass it on to you: "Large-scale studies have
shown that changing lifestyle could prevent
at least 90-95% of all heart disease. Thus,
the disease that accounts for more premature
deaths and costs Americans more than any
other illness is almost completely
preventable, and even reversible, simply by
changing lifestyle. What we eat, how we
respond to stress, whether or not we smoke
cigarettes, how much exercise we get, and the
quality of our relationships and social
support may be as powerful as drugs and
surgery in treating (not just preventing)
many chronic diseases.". I certainly was
unaware of this fact. Guess I need to push
harder to lose more weight. Jerilyn says I'm
losing brain cells because I'm not getting
enough sleep (at least 7 hours per night she
says). If I lose more weight, I guess I'll
just be an old fool

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Well, I finally decided to replace my PC. It is 10 years old and was last upgraded in 2005. The new one is the fastest one available now (big smile J). I have no doubt it will be dislodged from that lofty perch within a few months. I could give you a list of all the bells & whistles, but I will spare you the gristly details. Isn’t it odd, how what makes one person giddy with glee bores someone else to tears. I just got tired of getting up in the morning and having the darn thing take 10-12 minutes to boot up. I suspect it was because of all the things I have it doing during that time, but I’m hoping the new one can process all that stuff much faster. I want to boot-up in 2-3 minutes. Jerilyn asked me how much it cost and when I told her I expected to see a shocked look on her face. Much to my surprise it didn’t seem to give her heartburn. I think it’s because she knows how important this is to me. Isn’t it odd when something others hate can make someone else so happy?

I was thinking the other day about “best friends” and I wondered how many best friends can you have? You would think that you could only have one “best friend”. That it would be singular, not plural. But, I’m not so sure that is true. I think I have many best friends. What qualifies one as a best friend? I believe the first requirement is frequent contact. The next would be that you have to enjoy the contact and the third would be that you share with that person things you don’t share with everyone else. Those three things, though simplistic, are the things I see in my “best friends”. I also have “dear friends”. Mostly, dear friends are the ones that I have less contact with, but, nevertheless, I enjoy their company. “Gear friends” are the people I see infrequently, but, enjoy being around. Of course, family has its own set of rules. Mostly, you put relatives in the “Best Friend” slot whether they deserve it or not. I have a few relatives that, probably, should be in the “good friends” category, but, I refuse to put them there. Reminds me of an old saying, “God chooses your relatives, you choose your friends”.

It has been a struggle, but, I finally completed our amended state & federal tax forms. We received some late information this month that had a big impact on our return. This is the first time I have ever filed an amended return and it wasn’t easily accomplished. I hope someone in Washington, D.C. decides to do something about the complexity of our taxing system. Sometimes, I think it would be better to hire someone to do it. This quote comes to mind, "Taxes are what we pay for civilized society."…..Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Well, Jerilyn and I are back from a 10 day vacation. We visited family and friends in southwest Virginia, West Virginia, Tennessee & North Carolina. During that trip I attended my 50th high school class reunion. It always great to gather with these fine people and reminisce about our high school days and talk about what’s happening in our lives. At our class reunion eleven of my classmates and I, along with our spouse, visited my high school buddy’s home. My best guess is that he is worth about $2 billion. He told me that he recently sold his coal mining business for $1.2 billion. This was my first, and probably only, opportunity to see how the uber-wealthy live. I was told his home was 48,000 square feet and adjoins his golf course. His driveway was ½ mile long and as we drove along I began to feel as if I was driving our car on a golf course. After a good visit with him and his gracious wife and dinner at their clubhouse, we left around 11:00 pm with me feeling that I could never be entirely happy again . I have often heard that money can’t make you happy. Let me tell ya, that couple looked mighty happy to me. Don’t get me wrong, I know I live a good life, but Jimmy’s life has to be outstanding. Envy is a terrible thing!

As I set her on this beautiful Thursday morning writing this missive I am thinking of the wonderful time I spent with relatives on our recent trip. We visited with two of my aunts (Helen & Beulah) who just recently turned 85 & 80 respectfully. As we sat together and thumbed thru old photos of years gone by, memories long filed away in some dusty part of my mind, came cascading back. We visited with one of my high school teachers (Grace) who will turn 100 in December. We also had a good visit with my cousins (Harold & wife Willis and Jesse & wife Kathy), and my granddaughters in Tennessee. We also visited our dear friends Dick & Mille who just recently moved from their home here in Virginia to a retirement home in Tennessee. It was such a delight to see them again. There are so many people in my life that contribute to my happiness that I find it hard to imagine what those that lack this network do to make life enjoyable. Unfortunately, I do know people like that and they seem to wonder thru life aimlessly. I always include those unfortunate souls in my prayers.

Jerilyn and I have just concluded watching her youngest grandson (Brandon, 14) play on his baseball allstar team. They lost last night in the championship game 4-0, but he played wonderfully during the tourney and seemed to have a good time. The nights we spent at the ball field took us away from our nightly routine of watching TV as we eat our dinner (8pm) and put us in a place where people cheer wildly, criticize without remorse and eat like there is no tomorrow. My adopted sister, Mary, is president of the Phoebus Little League and she made us feel so welcome. The food from the concession stand was great, the nights were cool and the quality of the games were excellent. I strongly recommend an evening of baseball if it is available in your area.