Category: MP Rotation


“Two Happy Days Are Seldom Brothers”


  ⚽I got out of bed on a Sunday morning a couple of weeks ago and went through my normal routine of getting ready for my day’s journey: down the hall to power up my old pal Einstein (my PC), then off to get my daily cup of “Morning Joe.”  My wife came by my desk a little later on her way to the garage and we spoke briefly before I turned back to the task at hand.  A few moments later she came back and, with dread in her voice, said, “Tommy, the water heater in the garage is leaking.”  As most of you know, your heart immediately sinks when you hear these words because you know it can’t be good. 

So out I head to our attached garage with a flashlight in my hand.  I looked in the closet where the hot water tank is that supplies our kitchen, laundry room, and guest bathroom, and sure enough, there was water on the floor.  We then surmised, without a doubt, that it needed replacing.  I turned off the water valve and walked over to the electric panel to throw the breaker that sends over electricity so it can perform its magic, then I walked around to the back of the house for a water hose, which I attached to the faucet at the bottom of the tank to begin draining it out into the yard.

I did some research and found a highly rated plumber, called him on the phone, and he informed me that he would come over immediately and give me an estimate on how much it would cost.  A few hours later he arrived, looked things over, and said it would cost $1,200.  That seemed a little high, but I reluctantly said okay.  He informed me that it cannot be done the following day because it’s a holiday (Memorial Day) but said he can do it the next day (Tuesday).  Fortunately, we have another hot water unit at the other end of the house so we can still shower when needed.  On the appointed day, he arrived and busily sets about working his magic.  Within a few hours the task was completed, I pay him, and he leaves.  As he drove away, I calmly reached into the jar I keep by the door, rummaged around, and pull out my happy face.  Within a couple of hours, our faucets were filled with hot water and life got back to normal.  With that I am reminded of an old Bulgarian proverb, “Two happy days are seldom brothers”.   

The pastor of our church asked us during his Sunday sermon if we remembered our very first job interview (my wife and I were watching his sermon online).  Pastor Jeff is exceptionally good at engaging his congregation with thought-provoking questions.  As I pondered the question, my mind went back to when I was 15 and a job came open at a Chrysler dealership about 10 miles away from our home.  It was in the small village of Royal City and the owner needed someone to do odd jobs around his repair shop.  I walked up to him and asked if I could have Elwood’s job, whom he had fired just a few days earlier.  “How do you know Elwood?” he asked, and I responded, “He’s my cousin.”  He said, “If you’re anything like him, I don’t need you!”  That caused panic to race through my heart because I needed this job!  I immediately answered him by saying, “Let me work for you for one week and if you don’t like what I’ve done, then you don’t owe me a dime.”   That was a deal he couldn’t turn down and he promptly told me to start work on the following Monday.  I worked the entire summer at that dealership, repairing flat tires, washing cars, sweeping garage floors, and helping the mechanics.  When the summer was over and my last day on the job was ending, the staff gave me a little farewell party and wished me well.  As I left the shop and walked across the road, I stuck out my thumb to hitch a ride home.  I felt good about myself.  I was paid 50¢ an hour, worked ten hours each day, six days a week, and gave half of my money to Mom.  She was grateful and put it to good use.  Dad controlled the purse strings in our home, and she had little discretionary income.  Back then, purchases were put on your tab and were paid by the husband on payday. 

I haven’t had a lot of job interviews in my lifetime because I served four years in the US Air Force and then 43 at our local shipyard.  I am aware that the big “Interview” is yet to come, which will happen when I transition over to the other side and Saint Peter kindly asks me, “Why should we let you pass through the Gates of Heaven?”  I’m thinking about responding, “Let me in for a week and…”  Somehow, I kind of think that’s not how it works. 😊   

Martin E.P Seligman said so eloquently in his book, Flourish that “very little of what is positive is solitary.  Laugh uproariously, have indescribable joy, and it will always take place around other people.”  He goes on to say that people are part of the solution to the ups and downs of life, and the single most reliable up.  His theory is that doing kindness produces the most dependable increase in the sense of well-being. 

Upon reflection, I agree with him.  I have a hard time thinking of anything positive that I did alone.  There was always someone in my life to share it with.  When my first wife and I divorced, I immersed myself in doing things for others but, because I had no one to share those experiences with, the feeling of self-worth dissipated quickly.  Am I trying to say that it’s necessary to be in a relationship in order to have a meaningful life?  Absolutely not!  But in my opinion, to encourage that feeling to hang around longer you need someone to share it with.  Why write a book if no one reads it, why play a musical instrument if nobody wants to listen to your music? 

We all need people in our lives to help us handle the curve balls that come our way, to cover our backs when needed, and to give advice when wanted.  As a young boy growing slowly into adulthood, my go-to person was my Mom.  Being a father of two children, I know I played an important part in my children’s lives, but I also know their mother played a greater and more important part.  She was the first person they went to with their problems, and it only came my way if money was part of the solution.  With my Mom, it wasn’t the money thing, because I knew she didn’t have any, but rather it was the “what do I need to do to solve this dilemma?” type of problem.  True, she was the gateway to Dad if money was involved, or if I was going to be away from home overnight.  He was always very insistent on my younger brother (Jerry) and I being home at bedtime every night.  I can remember my Mom having to plead with him to allow us to spend the night with our friends.  I could never figure out why he was like that.  I tried not to be that way with my kids, but I would never allow them to stay with a family we didn’t know, or if the parents weren’t going to be home. 

My son told me shortly before he passed away, in the summer of 2018 with pancreatic cancer, that I was the best dad he could have ever wanted.  I was glad he told me.  You should never assume that a person feels that way about themselves.  I was unaware that he felt that way about me.  I always knew that he loved me, but I thought it was in spite of my warts.  To my surprise, he didn’t think I had any warts!  As much as I loved my dad, I would never have said that to him.  He wasn’t mean to us, he just caused us a lot of unnecessary worry.  But I should have said it to my mother and I didn’t.  I will always regret that.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “The mother’s heart is the child’s schoolroom.”  Personally, I couldn’t agree more.


Joy and Happiness


                                                

⚽ The English dictionary doesn’t give a particularly good distinction between joy and happiness, but I think it should.  I believe joy is related to a particular event in your life. For me, it would be throwing a “Ringer” in horseshoes or having the power generator fire up every three months without me having to work on it.  In other words, for me, it is normally a singular event. 

Happiness is a totally different animal.  That is something that covers you like a warm blanket in the dead of winter and allows you to sleep the entire night without waking up.  It is something that stays with you until something happens that brings you back into the constant ups and downs of normal life.   Mostly, I think terrible things stop the “happiness train” and that can be many things; health problems for yourself or someone you care about, deaths, financial problems, or family problems like drugs and alcohol. 

I have been on that “happiness train” for almost 28 years and there have been a few times that it screeched to a halt.  But sooner or later, it came back to life and continued on its journey with my wife and I onboard.  A friend (Reese) told me recently that life for him has been like a bus ride with people getting on, riding for a while, and then getting off as new riders got on.  What we all know is that as we get older people get off and fewer and fewer get on. Finally we get to the end of the ride and only a few people are still on the bus and only a few of those were on it from the start.

My “happiness train” is still chugging along, some getting off and some getting on and all of us bringing happiness, or joy, to each other in some way.  Yup!  I prefer happiness to joy because it lasts much longer.

An old German Proverb goes, “When a man is happy, he does not hear the clock strike”.  Now, that dog will hunt! 😊       

⚽  By the time we die, most of us will have spent a quarter of a century asleep, of which six years or more will have been spent dreaming—and almost all of those dreams are forgotten upon waking.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, head for the bathroom, and upon returning to bed, pick up the same dream again even though I purposefully try to avoid it.  Most of them are nonsensical and I ignore them but occasionally they are meaningful and leave an impression.  Last night I had a dream about my dearly departed sister-in-law (Mary Ann) and that will stay with me all day. 

So, I don’t think all dreams are a waste of time, although I do think most are.  From everything I have read about them, they are believed to serve a purpose in rebooting our brain to re-energize our cells.  I do know that when I fail to get enough sleep I tend to make poor decisions, at least that’s what I’m blaming it on 😊.  I have also discovered that I can sometimes determine what I’ll dream about by thinking of whatever is on my mind as I drop off to sleep.  It doesn’t always work, but often it does.  I was once asked if my dreams were in color or black & white?  Honestly, I don’t know.  If they are in color, they’re not very bright, because that never seemed relevant to whatever the dream was about.  I believe the only time I don’t have dreams is when I go to bed dead tired.

Truth be known, I probably don’t get enough sleep each night, hovering somewhere around 6.5 to 7 hours.  Doctors want all of us to get from 7 to 8 hours, but I only get the maximum about once a month.  I like to think that I’m an “Early Riser”, but deep down I know that I’m not.  I go to bed at midnight and get up at 7am.  My daughter gets out of bed at 4:30am to get ready for work.  She needs to look exactly right before she gets in her car to make the daily commute.   She’s a true “Early Riser”.  Walter Dwight said, “Early risers, as a rule, are a notably arrogant set.”  My daughter isn’t arrogant, she just wants to look her best before going out her front door 😊.

 ⚽ I have had 20 homes in my life, my wife only seven.  Of those 20 homes, I spent 17 years in one and 28 at my current residence. Most of my moving was during my 20s and we were always renters, not homeowners.  It often gives me pleasure to trace the course of my life thru the places I have lived.  I remember the very first time I moved in my life.  I was nine years old and living in “Page” coal camp.  A house about 50 feet away was being vacated and it was much bigger and better than the one we occupied, so we were told we could move into it.  I believe the rent was about $20 each month.  Well, the big day arrived for the move and we began transferring everything in our old home to the new home.  It took all day and what seemed like a thousand trips to get everything moved.  I remember being surprised that we had that much stuff.  My family and I certainly enjoyed living in that “upgraded” home.  Compared to homes today it wouldn’t have been such a great upgrade, but life is all about what you’re used to having, especially when you’re nine years old 😊.  I remember Mom being so excited and that transferred to my brother (Jerry) and I.  It had a finished basement for Mom’s washing machine and rinsing tubs and a shower for Dad to use when he came home each day from the coal mines. 

I had a lot of fond memories while living in that house.  I wanted to be on the high school football team in the 9th grade and P.L. Williams, the coach, came to our home to convince Mom & Dad to let me come out for the team (our school was small and he needed players).  Dad bought a new 1955 Ford Fairlane while we lived there.  My Great-Uncle came to visit one Sunday and didn’t know how to use the bathroom.  He had an “Outhouse” with no running water.  I was outside playing in the yard and he slyly came out and asked me where the outhouse was, and I told him we didn’t have one, that he needed to use the bathroom.  He embarrassedly asked me to show him how to use it.  We went inside thru the back door to avoid everyone inside, and I dutifully showed him how it worked.  His eyes opened wide in amazement as he observed this “newfangled way” of using the toilet.  I had my first date while living in that house, played a thousand hands of “Knuckles” poker there during the winter months. 

“Yeah, I had a lot of good memories in that old house, and in almost every place I have lived during my long life.  In some of those homes, I experienced a lot of success and in others failure.  Michael Jordan said, “I missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games and 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over again in my life, and that is why I succeed.”   I can surely relate to that 😊. 


Walkin’ & Talkin’


                                    Walking and Talking WoW#64

⚽ As some of you may know, I am an avid walker. I started running when I was 51, and twenty years later my right knee started giving me problems and I was reduced to being a walker.  I convinced myself that I should thank the Lord that I was still able to walk and not be so dejected.  It sorta felt like your family coming to you and saying, “You can no longer drive, you’re a threat to yourself and others”. I’m confident that day comes to all of us if we live long enough. 

For me, 2000 steps equal one mile, and I average 50,000 steps each week, so I’m walking about 25 miles. Last week (5/3) I challenged the members in my Fitbit walking group (my 3 granddaughters, my wife, and a friend in Russia) to walk 100,000 steps the following week (50 miles).  I promised to pay anyone that did so $200 and an extra $100 to the one that had the most over that goal.  I calculated that I needed to walk 14,300 steps on each of those seven days to get to that magic number, and I wasn’t sure my cranky old bones were up to the task. 

Sure enough, by the end of the 2nd day I had a small blister on the side of my right foot and I became worried that my quest was going to come to an end.  I gave it some thought, looked closely at my walking shoes, and determined that I was probably tying my shoelaces too tight.  In a short walk I wouldn’t notice anything, but a much longer walk would be a different matter.  So, the next day I walked with my shoelaces much looser and to my delight the blister didn’t hurt.  Also, I noticed as the week progressed how much better I was feeling, my stride became fluid, and I could tell that my waist was shrinking.  Now, let me tell ya, that’s a good combination! 

The competition ended Sunday night at midnight and the battle was between a 79-year-old Great Grandpa (me) and his 27-year-old granddaughter (Chelsea).  I had 110,701 steps (55 miles), and she had 103,787 (52 miles).  Earlier in the week she was 10,000 steps in front, but I believe she gave it some thought and decided it was more important for me to win than for her to beat “old Grandpa”, whom she loves dearly.  I wonder if I could have been that magnanimous if I were in a competition with my grandfather when I was her age?  I have an idea for a new competition in the near future, but I have to let my old aching body heal before announcing it. 

I recently had a friend tell me they weren’t into walking as a means of exercising.  What I wanted to say, and failed to because I feared offending them, was that not only do you get the health benefits but if you’re walking with someone you get the benefit of good conversation.  My wife and I talk more on our walks than at any other time.  The only exception may be when we travel.  I have learned more about her than otherwise possible thru our thrice weekly one-hour walks.  Although retired, we both keep an active schedule during the day and by nightfall we are exhausted, setting in front of the TV eating dinner and, perhaps, snoozing at times like old folks often do 😊. 

This “Walking & Talking” thing applies to almost anyone.  I love walking with my granddaughters, including the greats, and talking as we stroll along.  If I were a police detective and I wanted to get information out of a suspect, the first thing I would say to him is, “let’s go for a walk”.  If I were a doctor, I would tell my patients, if capable, to walk for 30 minutes at least three times each week and preferably with someone.  I would want them to show me that they were willing to do something to promote their health.  I know there would be exceptions, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable.  True, we pay our doctors very well to look after our health, but I believe they can rightly expect us to help them get us to the place we want to be health wise.  I do have friends that expect their doctors to slow, or stop, their declining health, without lifting a finger to help in that quest. 

Yup, I know that having a healthy lifestyle is not a guarantee of a long and healthy life, but I strongly suspect not having one is indicative of a much shorter one with many health problems.  An old Spanish proverb goes, “A person too busy to take care of their health is like a mechanic that’s too busy to take care of his tools”.   None of us want to be that person 😊.       

⚽ Back in March, I had an appointment with my new dentist (my old one retired)), and his task was to bring back my smile.  Well, COVID-19 made its grand entrance into our lives and the appointment was canceled.  Last week the Governor of our fair state (Virginia) let some business sectors reopen with restrictions.  Dental offices were part of that group, so his office called last week (5/6), rescheduled me, and a week later I’m setting in front of his office in our truck.  I called the office and his receptionist asked me 15 questions about my health and, after answering “No” to all of them, she invited me to come inside. When I arrived at the door she calmly asked, “Where is your face mask”?  I was confused, why would I wear a facemask to the dental office?  How are you gonna work on my mouth if I’m lying there with a facemask on? 

I had been told beforehand there was no waiting in the waiting room and that I would be ushered directly to “The Chair”.  I didn’t have a face mask, so she went inside and returned with one for me to use.  In a few minutes my dentist walked into the room I now occupied, and after the customary greeting, revealed a needle that looked to all the world like one you would use on a full-grown horse.  All of a sudden, he had my full attention.  I thought he was a dentist, not a veterinarian.  As I laid there with fear in my eyes, he casually sat on his stool, gave me a pat on the shoulder, and told me that I would only feel a slight sting. 

He was definitely wrong about the “slight sting” thing because it was still there when I went to bed that night.  The good news is that it worked.  I was in his chair for quite a while and I never felt any pain, so the tradeoff was worth it.  His job was to replace two caps and 1 filling, and he did an excellent job.

My experience with my dentist reminds me there are things in life that need to be done even though the experience may be less than desirable.  A few come to mind: going to the tax accountant, getting a yearly physical, taking the car to the shop for its yearly safety inspection, an annual visit to the optometrist, and of course, the twice-yearly dental visits. 

These are things we need to do as we navigate our way thru life, and deep inside we know that any of them can turn into a disaster.  I have taken my car to the shop for inspection and watched patiently as the mechanic ambled slowly in my direction and informed me that the necessary repairs to make it roadworthy would cost about a thousand bucks.  I have had my family doctor tell me that my blood platelets were too low and send me to hematologists.  I still remember the fear in my heart as I walked into his office.  Fortunately, the platelets have since increased but the concern is always there. 

We all know that our stroll through life will be filled with times of joy and distress.  The joy part is easily handled, it’s the part that causes distress that is worrisome.  And to me, my friend, this is the part we have to concentrate on the most.  How we handle stress plays a large role in how comfortable life is for us.  I have developed a plan that works for me and it requires that I ask myself this question, “In one year will this problem still be here?”  That has worked quite well for me because not very many of my stressful situations lingered for that long.  Sigmund Freud said, “One day, in retrospect, the years of struggle will strike you as the most beautiful”.  Sorry, Sig, that doesn’t work for me 😊.   


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