I had in my hand today a hammer that has been in my toolbox for as long as I can remember having a toolbox.  And before my toolbox, it was in my father’s toolbox.  And, given the hammer’s appearance, I have little doubt that it also once resided in my grandfather’s toolbox as well.

For someone who struggled to pass Wood Shop in 7th grade, I strangely have an appreciation for good tools.  Over the years of home ownership, I have accumulated quite a few.  I didn’t realize until lately that my tools are like little time capsules.  Each has a story or more to tell. For many, I can trace back to their origins, often recalling the project I was working on that led to their purchase.

I’ve also accumulated a collection of drills, all different sizes.  Most are the newer battery-charged models which are handy to use without having to hassle with a cord.  Nevertheless, I regularly go back to my 1960’s vintage plug-in-the-wall Craftsman power drill when it comes to the tougher jobs that easily wear down the newer drills.  It turns faster and has a lot more torque, perfect for making holes in a dense piece of wood.  That reminds me of something I learned from my father.  He taught me that a good tool will always make the job easier and the results so much better.  Accordingly, I often splurge on tools abiding by the assumption that you usually get what you pay for.

One of my prized tools is actually a paint brush. Ironically, I don’t think a drop of paint has ever touched it.  It’s a very thick brush as you can see in the picture.  I believe the bristles are made of horsehair.  It’s very old too, perhaps one hundred years plus.  It’s mostly been used as a brush for cleaning who-knows-what.  My father used to cut my hair when I was a kid.  When he was finished, he would brush the hair off me with this brush.

I have only a few other old tools that have been handed down through the family.  Most of their value is sentimental.  I am sure my grandfather probably wouldn’t even remember his hammer or paint brush.  No, they had to survive a good number of years to rank the level of appreciation I give them.  Perhaps they will rattle around in the bottom of a toolbox belonging to someone in my immediate or nearby family…or perhaps not.  I sense the same for me!


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I’ve had writer’s block before but never this bad.  It’s like my curiosity got up and left for a winter vacation.  I thought about rewriting the U.S. Constitution since so many people in Washington are having so much trouble understanding it. Then I thought it was stupid of me to think I could do a better job than the Founding Fathers. True, I am a father, but I have absolutely zero experience in founding.

Next, I thought about some of the DIY projects I have stacking up around the house.  I was thinking maybe I could record myself doing them and start up a help channel on YouTube for others who are facing the same kinds of tasks and could use some expert advice.  That wouldn’t work too well either since I’m no expert in any of the manly skillsets like hammering, sawing and grunting, although I have been known to rip off a pretty good belch (hah, you thought I was going to say fart!)

I’ve written eleven books (the term used loosely) since I retired a few years back.  I never contemplated being the next Stephen King, but I did enjoy working on most of the books.  Writing, like jogging, is a lonely sport.  There is no team unless you are trapped in a cubicle at a marketing or advertising agency.  What I liked most about my writing was that I rarely knew where I was headed.  I am a bit of a rogue scribe. I don’t outline or think chapters ahead when I write.  Much of the time what is happening to my characters is as much a surprise to me as it is to my readers.

So here I sit with the ultimate writer’s block. I can’t come up with a substantive blog posting and I not only don’t know how my next story ends, I haven’t the slightest idea how it begins.  Here, help yourself:

Once upon a time…


Blog Note:  The two video trailers for ANCHOR and DEAD LETTER that appear to the right are working again!  I apologize it took so long to repair them given that at least 30 million of my followers have been patiently waiting to view them.


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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Last week my wife and I received the second of the two injections of the Covid-19 vaccine.  We had to drive two hours for both the first and second shots.  We would have driven much farther if we had to.  What a burden lifted from us.  We are both in our mid-70’s and have enough sidebar ailments to make us easy targets for the virus. 

True, I have been pre-occupied thinking about the Covid-19 virus and the horrors it could have laid upon Rosemarie and me.  At our age, death has become a relevant topic, much more so than in thoughts past.  So what to do?  Think happy thoughts, of course, add in some nostalgia, then sprinkle in memories of events and people.  It’s what I did two years ago in this posting on my blog.  I found it worth a second read…maybe it’ll catch you in the same way… 

MKKIDI want to be a boy again when I felt secure and taken care of and all I had to worry about was doing what I was told, trying my best at school and trying not to break anything.

I want to be a boy again when I spent hours playing outside.  I would pretend I was a cowboy or a soldier or just about anything I wanted to be. I want to ride my sled down the back alley that sloped enough to get you going so fast you worried about a car coming in at the very end.

I want to be a boy again when I was dropped off at the Saturday matinee and there was a Duncan Yo-yo contest before the  movie got started.  Sometimes the winner got a Schwinn bike which was a pretty  big deal.  Then we watched Looney Tune cartoons and a feature movie like a space adventure with Flash Gordon. And then we had to wait a whole week to find out if Flash escaped from the Martians.

I want to be a boy again when TV was a wonder and only a few families on the block actually had one. The hour before dinner they showed the Howdy Doody Show and Clarabell the Clown always soaked somebody with a seltzer bottle. And after that was Stagecoach Theater and you hoped dinner wasn’t ready early or else you’d never find out if the bank robbers got away and what about the rancher who had all his cattle stolen and rebranded so he couldn’t prove they were his.  But then, you knew Hopalong Cassidy would figure it all out and the bad guys would be hauled off to jail.

I want be a boy again when things weren’t already built up, but being built.  It was when we’d get our wagon out of the garage and go up and down the blocks above us where the new houses were being built.  All the workers had gone home so we could go through the wood framed rooms and look for empty soda bottles. Each one was worth two cents.  If we were lucky, we’d find a quart bottle.  Those were good for a nickle.  We’d take the bottles to the Acme supermarket and rake in our haul, then spend it on candy before we left.

I want to be a boy again when I came down stairs on my birthday and there was always something colossal like a new bike or a trip to New York.  One year among the presents was a white shirt with all the airlines’ logos on it.  I wanted to be an airline pilot and this shirt was the first article of clothing I ever gave a hoot about and when I wore it I was an airline pilot.

I want to be a boy again and go to summer camp and ride a horse, sail a boat and learn to swim. On Friday night we’d watch a movie while sitting on a blanket in a grassy area and have a Hershey bar with almonds.  We watched an old movie projected on a stretched out bed sheet.  When the movie was over, we marched back to our cabin in single file holding a flashlight to light the path.

I want to be a boy again and look at the big pictures in Life Magazine when it arrived each week. I also watched the mail slot in the front door for whatever prize I got for sending in the box tops from breakfast cereals.  At Christmas time there were a half dozen toy catalogs that came in he mail and you’d spend hours going through them, circling the toys you wanted. Then every August, Popular Science Magazine would have the coolest of the new cars on its cover and the car was always loaded with the latest technology.  The mail came in the morning and during Christmas it came twice a day to keep up with the greeting cards everyone sent to each other.

I want to be a boy again when we always did something on the weekends as a family, whether it was a road trip to some farmer’s market or shopping at the new and only enclosed mall where every fall we got new clothes for school. Or we’d go to a museum and I was bored or to the zoo where I wasn’t.

And I want to be a boy again so I can be with my parents once more, in their prime when I thought they were the smartest people on earth. Just about everything they did was for the benefit of my brother and me, although we had no idea at the time. They made sure we got the basics and more and when we didn’t appreciate it and acted out they taught us about guilt and discipline.  We learned to balanced the two.  I remember rare occasions being spanked when I really did something major, like dropping the F-bomb when I was eleven. I had no idea what the word meant except the older boys playing basketball in the schoolyard said it a lot so I wanted to be cool like them…but not after I said it once to my Dad.  But mostly, I want to be a boy again so I can tell my parents how much I loved them, how much I miss them and just once more could we have dinner together.

I want to be a boy again so I have no responsibilities except to follow a few rules, share, and don’t hit anybody. It was when I didn’t have to worry about money or my children or my wife and a bunch of other grownup stuff.  It was when peace of mind was more present than it would ever be for the rest of my life and I had no idea at the time how cherished that would be.

I want to be a boy again so in a few years I can fall in love with my Rosemarie all over again. Young love is a stage of life like no other in that it consumes your whole being and your emotions will be at a level of sensitivity never to be experienced again.

I want to be a boy again when life was simple, life was easy, life was happy and thoughts of it all being over were somewhere else far, far off in the future.


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When I moved to Washington, D.C. in 1969, my wife and I had been married a little under two years.  She was pregnant with our daughter.  My body, meanwhile, was bursting with a different kind of excitement.  I had a new, dream job at a radio station soon to initiate an all-news format in the nation’s capital.  I was 24 years old.

I had been to Washington only twice before for brief, one-day visits.  That’s all it took—I fell in love.  I actually felt it was some kind of destiny that brought me there and made it my new home.  I usually don’t believe in that way of thinking, but there was just that kind of feeling I had.

I was in awe as I wandered from one landmark to another–sites I’d seen on television were now right before me.  What I found incredible was how easy it was to tour the This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is doors-3.gifbuildings. It was as if there was so much respect for these institutions that security was not a concern.  Case in point: the front doors of the U.S. Capitol building.  You’ve all seen this side of the Capitol.  It has that long, steep flight of steps leading up to the entrance that opens into the great rotunda.  The doors feature bronze sculptures showcasing the life of Christopher Columbus.  Traffic is too busy through this passageway when the building is open, making it impossible to stop and view the doors. The doors, however, are totally visible in the evening after the building is closed. 

When I had visitors from out of town, we’d all go see the doors.  I would park my car along the curb at the bottom of the steps. We’d all get out of the car, I’d wave to the guard and tell him we were just going up to see the doors and he’d smile and wave us on.  Sometimes we walked around to the other side to see the outrageous evening view all the way to the Washington Monument.  When we were finished our tour, we’d go back down the steps, wave goodnight to the guard and drive off.  Can you imagine that?  We stood at the front door of the nation’s Capitol, free to roam around at will and no one bothered us.

In the next ten years that I lived in Washington, my exposure—and close it was at times—to all the glitz, all the glamour and all the very serious elements of how our country runs, left me with a deep appreciation for our democracy.  Likewise, my interest in the history of our country went to a whole new level.  Washington will do that to you.  And that is why I do not know how to feel this night after watching an ignorant and disrespectful mob invade the Capitol.  Yes, I feel insulted and hurt, even embarrassed for my country, but it is so much more than that…and none of it feels good.



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So Long 2020

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Just a quick note about Henri..see my posting for October 7. After a month-plus of our new parakeet (Henri) getting used to Rosemarie and me sticking our faces up to the side of his “house” and attempting to communicate simple greetings, we decided he appeared lonely. So, of course, we bought him a cage mate. She’s a gorgeous yellow with a smudge of green on her back.

Well, it was love at first flight as the two of them spent the next several days fluttering around joined at the beak and constantly attending to each other. Then one morning last week as I pulled off the covering we drape over the cage at night, there was Henri…flat out on the floor of the cage, having died sometime that night.

Well, I’ll tell you…not only was I startled, but I found the episode extremely sad. In a brief two months Henri had brought some happiness to our household which has been confined by the concerns over the corona virus and my own tedious issues following some surgery last spring.

As curious as we are, we will never know what caused Henri to die, but we’ve learned even a small little bird can make life soar, only if just briefly.


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There they were, positioned on the prestigious eye-level shelf in the freezer right next to the fresh seafood counter.  I see them there every week when I’m at the supermarket and every week I think about putting a box in my cart and every week I decide not to.  Ten bucks for four frozen crab cakes is a little much no matter how mouthwatering the picture on the box appears….and on this box, the picture is outrageous.  Take a look…

So guess what?  This week the crab cakes are on sale.  They’re knocked down to seven bucks.  I look at the picture on the box again.  They look like real crab cakes.  They wouldn’t put a phony picture on the box, would they?  Would they?  I bite (pun intended) and toss a box into my cart.

This isn’t the first time I’ve been through this routine.  Nope.  I’ve written about this before.  It’s one of my pet peeves.  It’s even one of the first things I’ll outlaw by executive order when I’m elected president.  As far as I’m concerned, when you buy a product that has its picture on the package, that picture better pretty damn well match what’s inside.  In fact, my new law would demand that all pictures on a package must be of a sample taken directly from the factory assembly line.  It is simply the right thing to do!  What you see is what you should get.

Now, the crab cakes.  They were horrendous.  Having grown up on honest-to-God Maryland crab cakes, I admit I am a bit particular.  I rarely buy them or order them at restaurants because too many times they turn out to be awful.  The picture on the “Original Recipe” box was absolutely, positively NOT a photo of the contents—not even close!   So remember…if you see my name on the ballot, vote for me and make frozen food great again!



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The day has finally come.  I would have never believed it was possible. If you have visited ‘round these parts of the Internet at this time of the year you may have the slightest memory of the annual debate my wife and I have every Christmas. It’s a cantankerous bickering we engage in, sometimes in private, others time right in the middle of holiday shopping in the busiest of locations.  And what is it we so passionately argue over?  The Christmas tree!  Rosemarie wants an artificial one; I reject anything but the real version…always have, always wiwiwiwiiiiii.  And so, this year, holiday season 2020, it has come to this:  we spent the afternoon decorating our Christmas tree…an artificial Christmas tree.  Oh the humanity!

I guess I should count my holly jolly blessings.  After all, I have won the great Christmas tree debate 52 times…in a row!  There were several factors that influenced my relinquishing my reign this year.  First of all, I’m old.  Lugging a heavy log in and out of the car, then in and out of the house does not seem as easy this year what with my spinal and back surgeries.  I am not as agile as I used to be and certainly not as strong. 

Then there is the issue of appearance.  C’mon admit it—a fake tree always looks fake…except lately.  The technology and manufacturing process have really branched out.  Some of these trees actually look real if you don’t get too close. And the ones that come pre-lit—well that’s a game-changer.  If I don’t have to string lights on the tree, you’ve got my attention.  And yes, we got a pre-lit tree.  And get this:  it has a remote control that allows you to choose eight different patterns of lights—white only, colored only, a mix of both blinking or fading in or out.  Gadzooks, it’s a cosmic Christmas experience!

The only thing that’s missing is that holiday smell of pine that works its way through the house.  Guess I’ll have to buy a smelly candle or two. Meanwhile, as I do every year, here are pictures of our annual arbor endeavor…shown in both white lights and color.  Note, even the woody driving through the branches has an artificial tree lashed to its roof this year. 

HoHoHo Everyone

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The Holidays go Viral

This is a bizarre holiday season that is unlike any we have ever experienced.  The coronavirus presents a formidable Scrooge and we have no choice but to utter bah humbug in agreement.  Rosemarie and I, as the senior members of the family, have traditionally hosted most, but not all, of the dinners.  Some credit must go to our having a table that opens for 12 place settings upon which we place family recipes that have been perfected over the years.   Regardless, there will be no holiday feasts at our house this year, nor will we attend any festivities that may be planned elsewhere.  We are extremely virus-sensitive.  Not only is our age a factor that leaves us vulnerable, but we are both having health issues that are not conducive to fending off the virus.  

Even without the virus threat the holidays would have been a logistical challenge this year.  Rosemarie and I left Fort Lauderdale after 28 years and moved across the state to the Gulf side.  Now, the family is spread all over Florida, from Davie to Jacksonville to Naples. 

So, what to do?  Well first, I am insistent that Rosemarie and I carry on with some semblance of holiday celebration if only between the two of us.  I am a traditionalist and big on nostalgia.  The thought of Thanksgiving without turkey or Christmas without presents under the tree is…well it is unacceptable is what it is.  So, the two of us—just the two of us—will proceed accordingly.

The first item on our holiday to-do list is the annual debate—make that, robust confrontation—on whether or not we buy a real or artificial Christmas tree.  I’m the naturalist and have insisted that only God and Santa Claus can make a Christmas tree and, as such, nothing but “live” shall bless our humble holiday home.  I have won the battle a relentless 52 years in a row.  Yesterday, we pondered a 7-foot phony tree on display at Costco.  I agreed the tree-making technology has improved impressively and this tree came with the lights already installed—a game changer for me.  It was the closest I’ve come to giving in to Rosemarie’s preference…but maybe I need more time.

Next, I will have to make sure everyone in the family is familiar with Zoom or Skype since we will want a video link Christmas morning.  We can have a rehearsal on Christmas Eve when all the grandchildren open the pajamas we will have sent them.  This is a Christmas tradition that Rosemarie and I are charged with every year…and yes, all but one pair have already been ordered or sit in a box in our closet waiting to be wrapped and mailed.  It’s hit or miss all the time as we guess right or wrong on sizes.  It’s easier once each child stops growing.

As for gifts for Rosemarie, that gets more difficult each year. Other than a big ticket item–say, a cruise which is out of question right now–she’s getting to be a challenge. Now that she is retired clothes for work aren’t needed and I can buy her only so much knitting wool or artist paint. Yikes, I’ve got to get thinkin’ on this one.

Well then, there’s my plan for this year’s viral holidays, so far.  I am not sure I’ve embedded enough HoHoHo yet…guess I’ll have to work on that.


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