December 21, 2014

rocking chair


So I was out back on the patio sitting in my thinking chair…thinking.  I always get reflective this time of year…makes sense since it is the last two weeks of 2014.  It was a “W” year for me.  I gained Weight, took on a few more Worries…and lost Wealth, not that I had any to begin with.  The theme may continue since I sense 2015 will be a Watchful year.

I have to admit as you get older you begin wondering how many more end-of-year holidays remain.  2015 will be a significant birthday for me—70—even though my wife says 70 is not yet “old.”  She just retired as a nurse who cared for patients much older than 70 so her perspective is a little different from mine.  She says 70 is still young; I say rubbish, it’s old.   See, “rubbish” is even a term old people use.

Yes, I have thought about all the clichés:  you’re only as old as you feel; I’ll be 70 years young; you can survive to a hundred and five if you’re young at heart; etc. etc.  I shall continue to attempt to view the glass half full, but each year’s sip is making that more and more difficult to do.  What is relevant is that I still do “think young” or at least as “young” as my reference points allow.  But, when I see old people those same reference points tell me they do look old and that’s the problem because if I am honest with myself, I appear just as old as they do.

We just spent some time with a high school classmate of mine.  I caught myself staring at him and wondering how he has managed to keep his face from wrinkling up and sagging here and there like mine.  I told my wife I thought he looked years younger than I do despite our being the same age.  I want what he’s drinking.  Whatever it is, it has no sugar because he’s a diabetic.  Maybe it’s all the years of no sugar that has kept him young.  He’s still working to boot.  I gave that up six years ago, though it wasn’t my choice.

So here it is, another year going into the “was” column and here am I wondering how many more are there going to be in the “is” column.   I just learned my life insurance policy terminates in 2019 and my agent said it is unlikely I will be able to get a new one…at least one that would be affordable.  That sure puts the young v. old argument in perspective.

Given my competitive nature, however, I shall fight this thing called “old” and continue to attempt writing a book that becomes popular, be active and go places where and when I want to (expense permitting), keep ice cream in the freezer and continue liking Taylor Swift’s music no matter how silly that appears at my age.  Hell, she’s only a little under half a century younger than me.


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TREE DOWN! …Oh the Arbormanity!

December 17, 2014


If a Christmas tree falls in a living room, does it make a sound?  The answer is YES…and it’s a horrible big one!  Our Christmas tree toppled over.  I have never had that happen before but there was a combination of occurrences that caused the perfect topple.  And no, no one yelled “timmmmber!”

We were out of town for two days.  When we returned I went to check on the water level in the Christmas tree stand.  There wasn’t much water so the tree had obviously been very thirsty.  That’s occurrence #1.

I have two Christmas tree stands.  A super large one and a medium-sized one.  The screw rods on the medium stand are a lot easier to deal with and have better “bite” into the trunk of the tree.  That is why I decided to use the medium stand even though I did think that the super stand would be more stable for the size tree we had gotten.  But I figured the medium stand would do the job, plus, as I said, it was easier to deal with.  That’s occurrence #2.

After we got the tree all snug and straight in the medium stand, I did notice that it was a little tipsy in one direction.  I thought filling the stand with water would weigh it down, plus I put an eight pound dumbbell on the back side of the stand just as an added precaution to weigh it down a little more.  That’s occurrence #3

This morning, in order to check the water level in the stand, I have to remove the dumbbell (the one on the tree stand, not me).  So I put it aside on the floor when I checked the water level. After realizing the tree was practically out of water, I went to the kitchen to fetch some.  I didn’t put the dumbbell back on the stand; I left it on the floor.  That’s occurrence #4

So now I’m in the kitchen filling up a pitcher with water to pour into the tree stand.  While I’m doing that, there is this horrendous crashing sound coming from the living room accompanied by all kinds of pops and glass-breaking sorts of sounds.  I run into the living room.  There’s the tree, lying totally on its side along with a gazillion pieces of broken Christmas tree ornaments all over the place, some as far away as Italy.  It is a total arboriffic C A T A S T R O P H Y !

FallenTreeAll kinds of angst went through my mind and body as I began cleaning up the mess.  It was overwhelming.  There were shards of Christmas tree ornaments everywhere, some of them from ornaments that date back as far as my mother’s childhood trees.  It was heartbreaking to sweep them up and throw them in the trash.  I leaned the tree up against the bookcase (right) and waited for my son to come over and the two of us were able to transfer the tree from the medium stand to the super stand.  Then, to add insult to injury I had to straighten out all the lights–that was the biggest insult!  You know how I hate putting lights on the tree…and to have to do it twice!

As usual, all this got me to thinking:  if you are the superstitious type, was the tree falling some kind of omen?   Good one?  Bad one?  I have to admit I thought about it…but not for long.  I had to rush out and buy a ton of new ornaments so we could quickly put Christmas back together again.  In fact, I think I we did a pretty good job–just take a look….





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December 12, 2014

Xmas Tree 2014

The Christmas tree is finally up, yep it’s all done.

It’s a nice round fat one and it weighs a ton.

I put on all the lights, making sure they’re all lit

Then waited for the grandkids to come to decorate it.

So tonight they came to our christmas tree bash.

A few balls were casualties, to the floor they’d crash.

But not to worry, I replenish the supply every year

A few ornaments never make it; that’s normal I fear.

So now it’s sit back and wait until the big day comes

While the credit cards grow to astronomical sums.

I guess Santa appreciates seeing all the Christmas trees,

But I have a feeling he’d ask for fewer cookies, please.


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December 7, 2014


Okay, it is officially Christmas season at our household.  The outdoor decorations are up and working…at least for now.  This afternoon we went and bought the tree and it’s currently in the stand in the living room—standing on its own which usually takes awhile to achieve, but this year’s tree was cooperative and stood up pretty straight and sturdy from the git-go.  It’s not decorated yet.  It is awaiting the dreaded installation of the tree lights.  That’s my job and I dread it.  My father used to have the same job and he didn’t like it very much either.  However, he had the beer ratio going for him—one can of beer for every string of lights that went on the tree.  I don’t have that advantage.  I don’t drink.

It’s not that I am against drinking.  No, there’s no moral or religious motivation.  I just didn’t happen to get the drinking gene in my mix.  I am a true embarrassment to the family.  My father would have to apologize for me as I got past the minimum drinking age and refused one anytime someone offered.  I just do not like the taste of beer or booze.  Now, there are certainly enough people in my family to compensate for my shortcoming.  It’s not like Budweiser will have to declare bankruptcy or anything.  Bud and Jack (Daniels) will simply have to survive without me.

Not drinking has its advantages and disadvantages I suppose.  The good thing is that I never get drunk.   The bad thing is that I never get drunk.  Trust me, there are times when a good buzz and a trip to a happy place would do me a lot of good.  There are times, too, that I admit I need to loosen up.  A little libation might be the perfect provider but, alas, the taste buds say “yuk!” and even the best bottle of wine would be a total waste on me.  But you can buy me dark chocolate if you feel the need for gifting.

Tree2So, where was I?  Oh yeah—Christmas, the tree and the lights.  I decided I had done enough Christmas for one day.  Consequently, the tree is not getting lit nor decorated on the same day it came into the house.  It even needs a little pruning and straightening, but all that can be done another day.  I don’t think this has ever happened before in all the trees I’ve been involved with—and there have been a good many.  Not to worry, I did put water in the stand so it won’t go thirsty.  It can stand there for a day—maybe even a week—before I put the lights on and the rest of the decorations.  It’s not like Christmas is right this very minute.  In fact, if there really really is a Santa Claus, maybe just maybe he will pay me an early visit and I will wake up one morning this week and discover that someone has put all the lights on the tree and I don’t have to do it.  Wouldn’t that be just wonderful!  Now for that, I would be more than happy to down a hefty mug of Bud and toast everyone—especially my dad—a very merry Christmas!


We have lights!  A few more adjustments to make, but the lights are on!  Now all we have to do is gather the grandchildren and let them decorate…we may have to wait until the weekend.  In the meantime, we have a glowing Christmas tree…life is good.

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December 4, 2014


There is nothing more valuable in life than having friends. Sure, I wish for lots of money and all kinds of materials things like most everyone, but a good friend is priceless.

I am a very lucky person.  I have several good friends and they are scattered all over the place.  Fortunately, location may count in real estate, but it doesn’t in friendship.  Several of my bestest best friends live over a thousand miles away.  In fact, some of us haven’t lived together in the same location for over 50 years…yet we are inseparable in mind and spirit.  Three of us know each other since middle school and as each of us married, our wives simply melted into the friendship.

My “local” friends are mostly from working relationships—people who were part of my “office family” and even though we no longer work together, we still get together from time to time, share e-mails and phone calls and otherwise keep each other in our personal radar systems, monitoring the beeps to make sure everyone is on the same screen.

There are other people you develop relationships with but they seem to come and go. Maintaining a friendship with them with any regularity just doesn’t happen for one reason or another.  These are the folks you wind not seeing for long periods of time, but they are still friends, just not on the level of others.  They do manage, however, to usually show up at your funeral service…and that’s okay.  We’re all not destined to like each other on the same level of commitment.  The “premium” friendships are few and far between and consume consistent attention and concern. But regardless of “level,” all the friendships you are lucky enough to accumulate are the true golden nuggets you’ll mine during your lifetime.

I got to thinking about this topic of friendship and it led to my usual compulsive nature to analyze things…hence, all the above.  The motivation came from a dinner my wife Rosemarie and I had the other night with a renewed acquaintance and her husband.  I say “acquaintance” because that’s just about as close as we were when we both attended the same schools when we were kids.  In fact, I repeatedly comment how we have talked more to each other in the past year than we did in the 6-7 years we sat in the same classrooms with each other.  We were simply not in the same circle, as they say.  Her last name began with “L” and mine with “K” so we were always in close proximity to each other on the seating chart…but that really had no influence on the relationship anymore than if she had been a “T” and I a “B.”

But fast forward two adult lifetimes and here we are seated next to each other for dinner.  Our reunion was the result of her “running” into me here on the internet and we soon became reacquainted and began bantering e-mails back and forth.  I drove a hundred and some miles to see her; she few half-way around the world.   She and her husband live in Hawaii and she had come to Florida to see her mother who actually looks more like her older sister.  Don’t you just envy good genes!

We had each married long ago, raised a family, had careers and pretty much went through the normal ups and downs.  It was almost as if we were strangers who had just met, were coincidentally seated next to each other at a dinner table and began sharing our life stories.  But I said “almost”… it just wasn’t quite like that.  We had known each other previously, regardless how elementary the knowing was.  We had shared times and places—memories—and they were links that made us, not strangers, but old friends who hadn’t seen each other for some time and we were just “catching up.”

It was a unique experience feeling this bonding with someone you hadn’t seen for many years, let alone having had much of a relationship to begin with.  I don’t know if she sensed the same feelings I did, but it was a most enjoyable event.  Indeed, it was an event, the kind that makes me understand better what friendship is all about.  It’s the linkage that counts, not entirely the duration.  It’s okay if the connection is simply a familiar pinball that occasionally comes rolling in, hitting you and then bouncing off into still another direction. It really makes no difference because between friends the bells still ring, the lights still light and the good feelings come alive.  It was a great dinner.  Thank you old friend!


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November 30, 2014


I’ve made up my mind—I simply cannot live without me.

I know I’m being stubborn but that’s how it has to be.

In fact, come to think of it, me is easily my BFF.

Without me I guess I’d be void, there’d be nothing left.

You wouldn’t see me walking down the street if it was just I

If me was nowhere to be seen I would simply die.

There’s no way I’d ever leave me behind; we always travel as a pair.

Search if you must, we’re together no matter when, no matter where.

I guess everyone has a me they have to worry about.

If they’re like me they worry all the time no doubt.

I hate the thought of what it would be like living without me.

I’m convinced it’d be nothing but chaos and catastrophe.

No, I shall live the rest of my life the way it was meant to be

I’ve made up my mine…I simply cannot, will not, live without me.



November 28, 2014


Thanksgiving is over and everyone has gone home.

We did the dishes, polished the counters and the chrome.

Everything is back to normal; the food explosion has settled.

I returned to the gym and 12 miles on the bike I peddled.

The fridge is full of leftovers in bowls or wrapped in foil.

I refuse to cook a thing today even if it’s water to boil.

They say the remaining turkeys on the farm are relieved.

They all know for another year at least they get a reprieve.

Of course, we’ll be eating turkey and stuffing for weeks to come.

So if you drop by I’ll be insisting that you be sure to have some.

I still have extra leaves in the dining room table to uninstall

Plus put the folding chairs back in the garage along the wall.

Thanksgiving is a lot of work, certainly more than just a bit.

And for a number of days afterwards your pants will never fit.

Meanwhile it’s Black Friday and everyone’s at the mall.

The crowds are huge and I hear traffic’s at a crawl.

But before you know it, it’ll be here to do all over again.

Will this annual madness ever go away…and if so, when?



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