Category: MP Rotation

Christian of The Year


⚽ Our neighbors (Mary Beth & John) are great friends and for the past year have suffered some medical setbacks so my wife and I try to lend a hand whenever possible.  Last week John needed to cut his grass for the first time this Spring, but his John Deere riding mower refused to start.  I’m moderately good at working on small engines so I loaned him my riding mower, which is identical to his, while I investigated the problem. 

What I discovered was that since his mower had not been used for 6 months, the gasoline had evaporated in his carburetor and gummed up the little holes inside that let the gas escape into the engine?  So, I removed the carburetor, grabbed my air compressor hose, and with a few extra squirts of compressed air, cleaned it out. I reinstalled the carb, turned the key, and it fired up.  It felt good to hear that motor whirring away.  Total time to fix the balky engine was 3-4 hours. 

I returned the tractor feeling good that I had helped my neighbors.  A couple of days later I’m out in the front yard picking up pinecones and sticks and their daughter (Robin) is backing out of their driveway.  She pulls up to the curb beside me and thanked me for repairing her Dad’s lawn tractor and smilingly said, “I think you are a good candidate for Christian of The Year” and drove away.  I stood there watching her as she departed, thinking boy that was a nice thing to say.  I wondered if there was such a thing and shouldn’t we all strive to be that person? 

There are 4,200 religions in the world, and they can be categorized into five categories: Christianity, Roman Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism & Judaism.  So, pick your category and try to be a candidate for that “Person of The Year”. In my opinion, your God wants you to be that person.  If you know someone that could be that person, tell them.  You know how good that made me feel 😊.

Mother Teresa said it quite tenderly “Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” 

⚽ Country singer, Charley Pride, has a song titled, “It Seems I’m Always Standing in My Way”.  Sometimes, I feel the same way.  I have it on my list to clean my workshop, a big endeavor, and I constantly find other things to do, which at the time I feel is just as important, but I know they aren’t.  I need to get back to playing my guitar, but I tell myself at the end of the day that I’m too tired, so that gets put aside. 

When I look back over the last few years, I can see a pattern of my “Standing in My Way”.  Perhaps, when we perceive a task as difficult, we’re inclined to find something to take its place, something much easier to accomplish.  I find that if I have a clear vision on the outcome of my endeavor, I’m more inclined to want to get that particular thing done. 

Consequently, the tough things get placed in the “undone” pile and stay there for a pretty long time.  The question is, how do I change that?  Well, I have decided to overcome that tendency by picking at least one difficult each week and staying with it until it’s accomplished.  So, next week my difficult task is going to be cleaning the workshop.  My wife made the comment the other day that she had never seen it so “messy”.  After I finish it, I will take her hand and lead her to it and boast loudly, “The workshop is clean!” (probably repeating it several times). 😊.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “Well done is better than well said,”.

⚽ “Your dog only loves you because you have food”.  I ran across that statement the other day and wondered if that were true?  We do not own a pet, but a lot of our friends and family do, and I refuse to think that their pets feel that way.  Growing up, my brother and I always had a dog, but they always got distemper (inflammation of nose and throat) and within a week would pass away.  We could not afford the distemper shot that was available at the pharmacy (15 miles away) and consequently our pets would expire.  I recall that Dad let us get two puppies from a litter of pups that a friend of ours had and I named mine “Pete” and my brother named his “Re-Pete” because they looked the same.  We had to keep them in the basement since Mom wouldn’t allow them inside our home.  In a few weeks Pete died, and sure ‘nuff, shortly thereafter Re-Pete did the same thing.  My brother and I told this “Pete & Re-Pete” story to all our friends, and they thought it was funny.  We were sad they passed but made the best of the situation.  Young boys can be insensitive at times.  Today, families spend hundreds of dollars to keep their pets healthy and treat them like family.  I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be done.  I have always believed that when our pets die, they go up and sit on a rainbow, waiting for us to pick them up on our way to Heaven.  Eight of them should be waiting for me.

Bertrand Wilberforce nailed it when he said, “Dogs are evidently intended by God to be our companions, protectors, and in many ways, examples.”     

⚽ Did you know that forty of the fifty world’s tallest mountain peaks are in Pakistan?  Knowing that little fact can help us understand how difficult our battles were in that war-plagued country.  I grew up in the mountains of southwest Virginia and our mountains would be rolling hills compared to Pakistan😊.  But as a kid, I always thought they were tall.  More than likely they are about one thousand feet high.  Mountaineers are a sturdy group, always going up or down a hill.  That builds stamina.  As a kid on my bicycle, it was fun racing downhill at tremendous speed, but the trip back up required a lot of energy.  I think the constant walking up and down hills, carrying coal in a bucket, and chopping kindling were responsible for the muscle core that made life easier for me throughout my many years on this wonderful planet.  Which reminds me that on June 24th of this year I will complete 29,000 spins on this planet we all call home. I am looking forward to that very important day. I am aware that maybe I’m the only person you know that counts the number of earthly rotations they make.  Most of just count our trips around the Sun. I still enjoy my yearly trips back home to enjoy the mountains of my youth.  They haven’t changed a lot, but then again, mountains seldom do unless you take a bulldozer to them.  On top of one of those mountains, way up in a holler called “Clell”, is buried my great grandpa, “Pap” Hale.  I doubt his grave has been visited in 50 years.  I wonder if I could still find it. He was born in 1868 and died in 1961 and was very active up until the age of 90, thereafter slowing down considerably.  After that he mostly sat around reading the Bible and getting ready for his final trip. He never talked to us about his life.  I surely wish he had.

Chauncey Wright said so eloquently, “Looking from the mountains, I always think faster and freer and better, but about anything rather than the landscape.  It seems so much better to talk from the beauty than of it, but value it like meat and drink, the pure air and… my cigar, only for the excitement it gives,”.  I especially like the part about the cigar😊.        


Nothing Left For Dreams To Steal


When I sleep with you Maria, there’s nothing left for dreams to steal.” …George Strait

😊 I practice on the guitar every day, and I must admit that I’m not very good. That song by George, titled “Maria,” is one of the songs I practice playing. The line quoted above is a wonderful expression of love. We try to find the right words to tell the one we love how strongly we feel, but I suspect we often fall short of our goal. I would change the expression to say, “When I’m with you Sweetheart, there’s nothing left for dreams to steal.” That would let her know she is in my thoughts all the time, no matter the battle’s life hurls our way. Marya Mannes said, “The curse of the romantic is a greed for dreams, an intensity of expectation that, in the end, diminishes the reality.” I’m not so sure that I agree with her on the “diminishes the reality” part. I believe the “dream’ enhances the “reality.” The visualizing of a romantic relationship plays a very large role in how we see the object of our affection. My dreams of my wife are always positive, and I am sure, affect how I see our travel through life together. So, I plan to continue dreaming. I hope you do the same.

😊 I was sitting at my desk the other day, and the phone rang. I picked it up, and the lady who called informed me that a close friend had passed away. Millie was 92 years old. We visited her in November, and since she lives about 10 hours away, we planned on another visit this summer. It has been said that a person dies twice: when you take your last breath, and when the last person that knew you takes theirs. I kind of like that thought. “Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light; I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.” …Sarah Williams. We will miss Millie’s smile and wonderful personality.


😊 If the timeline of earth is compressed into one year, humans would not show up until December 31st at 11:58pm. It appears that in our current human form, we have been around about 200,000 years. We are the only inhabitants who expect tomorrow or remember yesterday. We have mastered many of earth’s mysteries, yet so many exist past our grasp. Mankind has been a wonderful addition to this planet we call home but in a lot of ways we are so destructive. I watched a movie the other night, titled” Downsizing,” with Matt Damon. He was voluntarily down sized from 6 feet to 5 inches. The theory was that everything cost less for a small guy versus a big fellow. The other thread through the story was that by downsizing, all of us would use a lot fewer resources, and our planet would last much longer. That made sense to me, but I am not sure that I would volunteer for that project. My wife and I recycle everything we can and try to reduce our carbon footprint, but I am certain we could do more. “Regrets for the things we did can be tempered by time; it is regrets for the things we did not do that are inconsolable.” …Sidney Harris

😊 I do most unimportant things satisfactory. I seldom do important things that way. I always seem to leave out critical parts in my process. What’s important is like a ship on the high seas, lots of calm water, but the occasional storm hits, and you need to be ready. Many times, I have disassembled machinery and find that after I have put it back together several parts are still on the table. That problem is always fixable. But, when you’re interacting with friends and family, and you do, or say, something that impacts their lives in a negative manner, that’s important. The hardest thing for me to do right involves my reaction when someone tells me of a serious situation: I lost my job; I have cancer; my brother passed away; my wife has Alzheimer, etc. How we react to those situations helps us determine how much empathy we have for others. My reactions to those situations are inadequate. By far, the most dangerous foe I have to fight is my inability to convey to others that I share their grief. I hope to get better at doing that.

😊 I have noticed lately that most people do not respond to “Thank you” with “You’re welcome”. That response has been around since 1907 and “welcome” on its own was first used in the 1600’s. My observations about responses today are: “Thank YOU,” “Sure thing,” thing”, “Anytime!”, “No problem”. “You’re welcome” is a much better response, showing more emotion than the others. To me, those two expressions are forever tied together. I am aware that expressions come and go, but a substitution should be a better choice than what it’s replacing. So far, none of them are, in my estimation. Life is simple but we make it so much more complicated.

😊 What would happen if I restricted myself to 100 words for one day? That thought crossed my mind the other day and gave me reason to pause. Gone would be the constant banter between my wife and me. Most of the “I love you”, “Did you sleep well last night” remarks made daily would be eliminated. Most assuredly, my friends would benefit. Banned are long stories about things happening in my life, and absolutely no chatter about my latest gadget, or my granddaughters. Would I be a better person if I were more precise in my utterances? I must admit that I am a talker, a man of many words, and sometimes that can be a hindrance, if not downright annoying. So, if I restricted myself to 100 words I would have to insure there were enough words left for the entire day. Sort of like the fellow in the desert with one canteen of water. Run out and you’re toast! Well, not toast when it comes to words, but I imagine it would be pretty uncomfortable. For example, let’s say I used up all my words by 5pm. I go to bed around midnight, so that’s seven hours of silence for me. I imagine the wife to be delighted in that circumstance, while I fumed about being wordless. I haven’t made up my mind to do that yet, but I am giving it some thought. Paul Claudell said, “People go to take sun baths, why have so few had the idea of taking baths of silence?” Sounds encouraging to me! …Tommy


A Little Pocket of Greed


It is generally accepted that there are seven deadly sins: Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Anger, Envy, Lust & Sloth (apathy, inactivity). This list will change from time to time, but it gives us the opportunity to evaluate how many we possess.

I suspect that most of us have a little pocket of greed tucked away somewhere inside. It surfaces occasionally by convincing us not to leave a good tip to the waitress; not correcting the grocery store cashier when she makes a mistake in our favor; or walking past a homeless person and thinking they deserve their status because they aren’t willing to work. It can get a lot worse if you are going through a divorce, unhappy with the will your parents left, or think your parents are treating your siblings better than you. Greed is fairly innocuous if kept contained, but open the gate, and it will take control of your tongue, deep down, inside your throat, and the wiggle within your mouth will be ceaseless. I have seen greed with its best suit on, matching tie, shiny shoes and face peppered with cologne to disguise the angry smell that follows it everywhere. There is only one weapon in our arsenal to combat our instinct to be greedy. It, too, lies tucked away inside us, waiting for the gate to be opened. That most potent weapon is kindness. Many wounds have been healed by simple acts of kindness. I can only recall one time that kindness betrayed me. I bailed a friend out of jail, and he skipped out of town, never to return. That betrayal pales in comparison to the misery greed would introduce into my life. Democritus said, “It is greed to do all the talking but not to want to listen at all.” I think that works too. The six other deadly sins? I hope to explore my thoughts on them before long.

😊 I went to the “Dollar Store” recently to get my wife a Valentine card. I prefer to go to our local drug store and purchase one that cost $4.50 – $6.50. I did that for several years when we first met, but I soon discovered that immediately after reading the contents, she flipped it over to see how much it cost. She would make a comment that normally goes something like; “You can buy a perfectly good card at the Dollar Store for a lot less.” I began to feel like the cost of the card overrode the message I was trying to impart. So, now I buy a card at the local Dollar Store and attempt to make it into something more spectacular. I have no idea if I am successful in doing that, but I try. Oscar Wilde said,” When you really want love, you will find it waiting for you.” I believe that is true.

😊 I read that the definition of a friend is “Someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words.” I have a few friends like that, and it is a great feeling. It is so easy to say things that do not communicate what you wanted to say. A good example of that is when I visited a close family member a while back. She was trying to explain why her home wasn’t as clean as she normally keeps it.  I responded in an effort to make her feel better, that as a single guy, I vacuumed my home when I could write my name in the dust on the furniture. She later told me that her heart was broken, and she cried for several days. Suddenly, my heart was broken, but I didn’t cry. I sure felt like it though. I resolved never to use that again. I do feel that if she knew me as well as I thought, she would not have interpreted those words to be a criticism. I was expecting her to “sing back my song when I had forgotten the words.” Andrew Card said, “You must taste your words before you spit them out!” It doesn’t always happen ☹.

😊 We have had a few days of weather that’s warmer than usual for this time of the year. And let me tell ya, when that happens, I jump on it like a hobo on a ham sandwich. My wife had a rather large pampas grass in front of our house that she wanted removed. So, we spent one complete day cutting, digging, and filling up the pickup truck. At the end of the day, her Fitbit told her that she had almost 17,000 steps. Mine showed considerably less (I refuse to say how many😊). It feels good to be outside after having spent so many days inside because of the weather. I have friends who keep encouraging me to “Come east/west young man.” However, my wife and I keep resisting the urge, unwilling to leave our family & friends. In Virginia (USA), we have four distinct seasons, and I am reluctant to give them up for one continuous season year-round. I believe that most of us get acclimated to a location and settle down and stay there for the remainder of our life.  Andre’ Maurois said, “Without a family, man, alone in the world, trembles with the cold.”

😊 I read an article recently about a researcher that studied the effect that charismatic religious leaders have on their followers.  They brought in Christians who believe in the healing power of the divinity and performed an MRI as they listened to their minister pray.  The areas within the brain associated with reasoning, and skepticism were immediately suppressed. Nonbelievers didn’t have the same loss of rational thought.  What this indicates, researchers say, is that we put trust in charismatic people and shut down the reasoning part of our mind.  For example; I visit my doctors on a regularly and, for the most part, whatever they recommend, I do.  I was not aware that parts of my brain were shutting down and telling me, “Whatever your doctor tells you to do is ok!” From now on, my doctors, tax preparers, financial consultants, auto repairmen, and my wife, will see a new and improved me 😊.  I kinda doubt that I will treat my minister differently.

😊 I read a study that looked at 270,000 people in nearly 100 countries and found that while both family and friends are associated with happiness and better health, as people aged, the health link remained only for people with strong friendships.  I find that a little disconcerting and would be more inclined to believe that family is the strongest link.

The study went on to say life expectancy in the U.S. exceeds the global average, clocking in at just under 79 years. In 1900, it was just over 47 years. The extra decades came courtesy of just the things you would expect: vaccines, antibiotics, sanitation, and improved detection and treatment of a range of diseases.  Globally, the average life span is 71.4 years. For a few lucky, people it may exceed 100 years. It has never, to science’s knowledge, exceeded the 122 years and 164 days lived by Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment, who was born when Ulysses S. Grant was in the White House and died when Bill Clinton lived there. Researchers went on to say that increasing physical activity will improve endurance, benefits muscle strength and balance, and reduces the occurrence of serious falls and injuries. It also provides the additional benefit of lifting our spirits.  Sounds like a winner to me!

😊  I listen to music a lot. Mostly, it is country music since I was raised, and remain, a Virginia Hillbilly.  I also enjoy the easy listening pop station  on our XM Radio.  I just finished an article that says listening to music helps keep your mind organized. It appears the beat in the music creates a rhythm in your brain patterns that help organize your thoughts.  The theory is that music may help people that have a hard time controlling their thoughts.  I remember my brother telling me, after he had a stroke,  that his mind raced constantly when he went to sleep.  Maybe, music could have helped with that problem.  I have a close family member with Alzheimer’s and she watches TV all day & into the night.  I wonder if she should be listening to music instead?

“Brain scan studies show that when the brain is stimulated by music, its neurons begin to fire in perfect synchrony with it.”..Norman Dodge-MD

I am guessing that I need to keep that radio blasting away.

I hope this missive finds you at peace with your family & friends, and as you spin around on this wonderful planet, that you appreciate all God’s blessings.  If you know someone that may be interested in receiving this please let me know …. Tommy

Looking Death in the Face

A couple of weeks ago, I was given a surprise birthday party. My wife & I expected to be eating at a local restaurant with my son & daughter and when we arrived, there were about 12-15 people looking to celebrate the fact that I was born & the role I played in their life. It was impossible that evening for me to forget the role a young woman, named Cindy, played in my life. The date was October 26, 2014 and I was on the Princess Emerald cruise ship leaving London for a 17-day cruise. We had just left port a couple of hours earlier and had gone down to eat dinner with several other people assigned to our table. About half way thru the meal, a piece of unchewed steak, somehow, lodged in my throat and would not budge. Unable to breath, I tapped my wife on the shoulder and pointed toward my throat. She yelled loudly, “Tommy’s choking”! Cindy, who was sitting beside me, jumped up, came around behind me, and started performing the Heimlich maneuver. Of course she was successful or I wouldn’t be writing this article. I guess the point I’m making in all of this is that people weave in and out of our life, some play an important role, others not so much, and them some can be the reason you continue to exist. That is the role Cindy played in my life. Thanks to her, I belong to an exclusive club, a group of people that have looked death squarely in the face and then someone, or something, interceded and allowed them to continue to exist. As I write this article, I have been on this planet for 27, 769 days. If it weren’t for Cindy, it would have stopped at 26, 903 days. You probably know that, given the circumstances, I really do enjoy my birthday. Ella Maillart said it best: ‘It is always our own self that we find at the end of the journey. The sooner we face that self, the better”.

I received a letter the other day that informed me that a “Hale Family Reunion” was being planned and wanted to know if I was interested. I can’t recall ever missing one of those wonderful events. Our last one was, perhaps, ten years ago, and a lot has happened since then. A lot of the Hale family has crossed over to the other side but there are hundreds of us still alive and we always have one heckuva time when we get together back in them-thar mountains. Yup, you guessed it, I was born and raised a hillbilly and darn proud of it. I’ve been gone from there nearly 60 years but that place is always going to be home to me. When I go there, I step back into a time that was simple, where people honk their horns if they see you standing out in the yard, or stop to talk to you while you’re sitting in a restaurant having a meal. People that will ask “how ya doing?” and really want to know. When I’m home, I can’t use my cellphone because they have no signal, but I don’t really need a signal because the people that want to talk to me come by for a visit, or I go visit them. Now tell me, isn’t that much better than any conversation you’ve ever had on a phone? There’s an old saying that goes like this: “Teach a child to choose the right path and when he is older he will remain upon it”. The Hale family taught me to choose the right path and I believe I am still on it.

    • Last summer I posted bond for a neighbor’s son so he wouldn’t have to spend the summer in jail. RW is one brick shy of a load, but he’s a good friend. He was arrested for shoplifting and denies that he intended to leave the store with the items in his cart. His trial had been postponed many times and each time he has a court date I show up to give him much needed support. Unfortunately, I am the only one there to do so. RW is a simple man in his mid-fifties that roams the streets during the day smoking cigarettes and looking for work. He spends a lot of time in our local library while charging a cellphone that he purchased at Walmart. As he tells me, “My phone is how I keep in contact with my clients”. It always brings a smile to my face when he says “clients”. I use RW around the house to cut our grass and do odd jobs and though he only charges $5/hour I pay him $10, and sometimes more, depending on his needs. My son does the same when RW works for him on Sunday’s during my visit. For all practical purposes RW is homeless and he alone is responsible for that, but again, he is mildly mentally challenged. He knows right from wrong but just makes bad decisions. I am reminded of Matthew 25:43 – “When homeless, you gave me no welcome; ill-clad, you clothed me not; sick or in prison, you visited me not”. I try to keep that verse in mind in my relationship with RW and know that God sees, not the face I present to my earthly family, but what is inside me.
    • I decided last week that I wanted to make some changes to my website ( It was exactly one year ago this month that I hired a guy in Micronesia (somewhere in the Pacific Ocean) to build that site for me. It took a couple of months to construct and, I must say, it has been a pleasure to have. I decided I wanted to learn how to change things on the site to include new ideas so I decided to take an online class. I finally found a free class that I thought would “fit the bill” and signed up. I am a little more than half-way thru the classes and I have learned a lot, but there is a deep-seated fear I have that I’m going to mess things up really bad when I start making the changes. What I’m attempting to do emotionally is change the fear to enthusiasm (joy). After all, what is the worst thing that could happen: I cripple it to the extent that it is no longer operational. And how does that affect my life? In the scheme of things, very little. I doubt some close relatives would even be aware it no longer exists and very few of my friends, excluding you of course, would necessarily care. I think that as we travel thru life it is important to put things in perspective by trying to determine how the event we dread will clearly impact us. I suspect that most of the time we will only be a little sad and most of us can handle that very well. Ray Mungo said it best; “The experiences you have had are your own greatest treasure, well worth the remembering and retelling”. I’m hoping this experience turns out to be that way.
    • I am currently listening to a book on tape by Amy Poeler titled, “Yes Please”, and thus far I have enjoyed it greatly. She has a unique ability to make me feel as if she is talking directly to me and no one else. It seems like she has invited me into her home, put me in a comfortable chair, gave me something good to drink as I snacked on finger food, and started telling me about her life. Granted, this is a one-sided conversation, with me nodding here & there as needed, but what a wonderful way to spend part of your day. The other great thing is, I can turn it off when I tire of our one- sided conversation, and then pick up where I left off on another day. True, this is a view of life from a woman’s perspective, but as a husband, and father of a daughter, I want to know life as a woman sees it. I guess my first glimpse of seeing life thru a woman’s eyes was looking at life thru my mother’s eyes. I remember seeing the sadness that pervaded her being as she lost the love of her life, my father, to alcoholism. She always tried to protect my brother and I from his addiction but it was too immense to be hidden. Some things we can tuck away and kept out of sight, but somethings are too overpowering to be concealed. If you know of Amy Poeler (SNL/Parks & Recreation) and think you would enjoy her book, you can get it on Amazon for $10. She does curse in it but I wasn’t much offended. Oh, by the way, I have a joke to tell you about good intentions: At a dinner party a shy young man had been trying to think of something nice to say to his hostess. At last he saw his chance when she turned to him and remarked, “What a small appetite you have tonight, Mr. Jones”. “To sit next to you,” he replied gallantly, “would cause any man to lose his appetite”. I must say that I have had those moments a time or two.
    • My wife and I have two wonderful next door neighbors (John & Mary Beth). Occasionally we go out to eat and the time we spend together is always cheerful and filled with good conversation. All four of us are septuagenarian (of the number 70) and have accepted our declining health during our 70+ years on this wonderful planet. I really hate the word that describes people in their 70’s. I easily remember being a “teenager”, a “thirty-something”, a “senior citizen”, but I profoundly dislike being a septuagenarian. Within a few years, if I’m lucky, I will be an octogenarian. That sounds a lot better to me. That other word makes me feel as old as Methuselah. Back to our neighbors, Mary Beth is a retired school teacher and all around wonderful human being. She loves communicating with friends and family via her iPad and occasionally it, her printer, or TV will give her & John a problem they cannot resolve. She has nicknamed me her “guru” and proudly tells her friends about me. I think what she isn’t aware of is that, secretly, I enjoy the praise she gives me. It certainly makes me feel good that I can help those wonderful people solve some of the minor problems they encounter. Reminds me of something I heard a long time ago, “God picks your family but you pick your neighbors”. We did a great job!

There is prosperity in hope

 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”.


 Awhile 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.


We 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 is looking at me and whispering and I wonder to myself “What are 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 begin 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 indicating 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 .  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!           


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


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To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere

without moving anything but your heart…..Phyllis Theroux



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