Category: MP Rotation


My Life & Sliced Bread


I sometimes imagine my life as a loaf of sliced bread.  Looking down on that loaf, I pull up the slice at the far end and there I am, 10 years old and squabbling with my younger brother over who’s washing or drying the dishes after dinner (drying was the easiest).

 I gently place the slice back in its place and jump forward a few slices and there I am, 20 something years old with a wife and two young children (boy & girl), I am on the patio of our home, laying on a blanket as my 1-year-old daughter sits on my chest playing with her daddy’s long nose.  My three-year-old son is in the background playing with a small, metal Tonka dump truck. 

I place that slice back in its slot and jump forward a few more slices and pull one out and there I am, fifty something, divorced, and looking distraught and confused.  I remember that guy and what he was going thru and I kinda feel sorry for him. 

Quickly, I return that slice to the empty spot and moved towards the front of the loaf and retrieve another, and there I am, happily re-married and living a good and satisfying life. 

I glance down at the loaf and see quite a few slices left, and yet, I’m holding the slice that is my current life! 

I must admit I was tempted to return that slice and pick up the ones that would tell me what was yet to come.  As my hand nervously reached for the next slice of bread, I drew it back, knowing that I should never see what was in my future.

I believe that most of us worry about things that will never happen, but because of insecurities, we are pessimistic and are always waiting for something bad to happen.  I am confident that if I retrieved that last piece of bread and it revealed my end-of-life struggle, I would spend my remaining days on this wonderful planet worried about it. 

Having the will to resist that temptation brought a smile to my face as I slowly inched the loaf back into the cupboard, vowing that I would never be tempted to revisit that decision. 

John Green said, “One day, you’re 17 and you’re planning for someday. And then quietly, without you ever really noticing, someday is today. And then someday is yesterday. And this is your life,”.  That describes my life very well!

The custom of giving a woman an engagement ring began in 1200AD, when medieval Italians believed diamonds were created in the Flames of Love.  That custom has continued and flourished over time, and now men go to elaborate lengths to make their proposal unique.  Planes write it in the sky, men get down on one knee onstage at concerts, ice skating rinks and many other odd and interesting places. 

When I proposed to my wife, I had the waiter, in a nice restaurant, drop her ring in a glass of Champagne and serve it to her while we sat across from her mother and father.  I was fearful that she may swallow it but that fine beverage is for sipping and I was confident she would discover it easily.  Still, there was some concern on my part. 

To my knowledge, I know of no one that was spurned when the question was popped, but I am confident it has happened.  I think we should use the same theory a courtroom lawyer uses, “Don’t ask a question if you don’t already know the answer”. 

Everyone loves a good wedding and thousands of dollars are spent on that festive occasion and yet, half of all marriages end in divorce.  That’s sorta like buying a car and there’s a 50% chance it will fail you before the warranty expires. 

So, what’s the solution to this dilemma?  First, the courtship should last at least two years and second, never spend more than one month’s salary on the wedding.  If a Dad is paying, it’s just as important.  My wife and I were invited to a wedding, and we barely knew the couple, but they wanted a lot of people there (Dad was paying), so we went.  I was so uncomfortable and resolved never to do that again.

I think marriage is a wonderful thing.  Nothing seems more special than seeing a couple wrapped-up in the excitement of each other.  In my view, to make a marriage last, you need to approach it with the idea that there are two people in the boat, and both need to be rowing.  If only one rows, trouble is not too far away.

“Love makes life meaningful and the world more beautiful; if it makes your life more miserable, then it isn’t love,”…. Peter Saysomphane

Scientists note that employees should keep working until the age of 80, but that they should only work 25 hours a week to be productive.  I believe it’s an excellent plan.  That means our children would only go to school 3 days a week, the grocery stores would only open that many days (I don’t think they would double their staff and leave prices the same), and hospitals would only work 3 days. 

Our lives would change dramatically.  Many years ago, my state (Virginia) had the “Sunday Blue Law”, and only a few business’ could open on that day.  In addition, you couldn’t purchase alcohol on that day.  Just about everyone I knew disliked that law.  I think the alcohol thing had a lot to do with it 😊.

I have a close relative that only works 3 days each week, and she is a very happy person.  So, yea, it might be a good idea to work that long each week and continue until you’re 80.  I don’t know the logistics of that yet. The average age of death in the USA is 79, meaning that half of us pass on before that age and a half afterwards.  But it means you can enjoy part of your retirement before you die.  Three days on and four days off each week sorta has a nice ring to it. 

Would it make us a lazier society?  There is that possibility.  I think we would be happier, given the extra time to pursue our personal goals and spend more time with those we love.  Instead of working more than 97,000 hours in our lifetime, we would work slightly over 80,000.  I would never have guessed that working two days less each week would result in saving 17,000 working hours in my lifetime.

If that plan had been put in place back when George Washington was our president, how would our lives had been changed?  Probably a lot of the inventions we enjoy so much today wouldn’t exist.  I do know that when I have a serious problem to resolve, if I pursue it long enough, I will almost always find the solution.  If I took four days off, I would never get it solved. 

It takes about five hours for sunlight to reach Pluto. It takes eight minutes to reach Earth. It’s gonna take more than five hours for sunlight to reach my brain, allowing me to figure out if this thing could work.

 So, after all this discussion, am I for it or against it (shorter work week & working until age 80)?  Well, I don’t think it would work as well as I wanted it to, but I’m willing to give it a try 😊

T. S. Eliot said, “Only those who will risk going too far can find out how far one can possibly go,”.  Lots of truth in that quote.

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.


Being Mortal


I recently finished reading “Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande and found it quite interesting. The book’s main theme was how we deal with our own dying.  He thinks that most of us never think about our death until we feel it is about 10 years away.  I often joked that I thought “being old” was always ten years older than I was.  George Burns, who lived to the ripe old age of 100, said that he never bought bananas that were not ripe, nor ordered a 3-minute boiled egg.  

Mr. Gawande says our goal should be to have a good life and not worry about death.  He believes that life is a series of peaks and valleys and studies have shown that we remember only the peaks and whatever happens at the end.  The valleys? Not so much!  He talks about watching a football game (60 minutes) and your team dominates up until the last three minutes and then they lose the game.  Their fans leave the stadium disgusted, even though for 57 of those minutes their team dominated, and they were extremely happy.  They only remembered the last 3 minutes.  He goes on to say that life is not the average of our life experiences but the feelings of our experiences.  As we all know, story endings matter and we always want a happy ending.  We want our pain to be brief and our pleasure long lasting.  He believes that we have two parts within us:  The “Remembering Self” and the “Experiencing Self”.  the “Remembering Self” recalls the peaks and some valleys while the “Experiencing Self” is totally involved in the moment. 

As we grow older, I believe we become more of the “Remembering Self” and less of the “Experiencing Self”.  I find myself in that mode a lot at my age, and I am completely unaware when it started.  I realize it takes a lot of courage to stare down the muzzle of a gun, and it takes an equal amount of courage to face your eventual demise.  Courage is showing strength and resolve, knowing you are in imminent danger.   

Socrates said, “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.”

About 24 million children in America, or 1 out of every 3, live in homes without a father.  That is disturbing.  As a young boy growing up in the “40’s & 50s, every family I knew had both parents.  Of course, there were a lot fewer people and the divorce rate was very small. 

I ran across the following article in a email I received from the “Morning Brew”:

                                 Earth’s Population

  • 50,000 B.C.E (before the common era for non-Christians): 2
  • 8,000 B.C.E., the dawn of agriculture: 5 million 
  • 1 C.E (common era).: 300 million
  • 1850: 1.3 billion
  • Today: 7.7 billion
  • 2050: 9.7 billion projected

Bottom line: More than 108 billion people have ever been born on this planet. The number of people alive right now represents roughly 7% of the total number of humans who have ever lived.

As we see, there are currently 7.7 billion of us and a lot has changed since those two people walked around at the beginning.  A lot of it was good and some of it not-so-much.  Especially, as it pertains to families.  A simple Google search reveals that in the USA at least 50% of families get divorced.  That is a staggering number!  Of course, I stand firmly in that statistic, having divorced after 32 years of marriage.  Fortunately, our two children were adults, but that still doesn’t eliminate the damage a divorce does to everyone involved.  Mom & Dad being together seems to be the glue that holds the universe together, and when their relationship crashes and burns, their children are left with a big hole in their heart that seems to never close.  I think that is true no matter their age. 

So, how can we improve that situation?  I believe that the reason marriages lasted longer 75 years ago is that more people belonged to a religion.  They concentrated more on obeying the laws of their religion and, as we all know, most religions specify fidelity in a marriage.  I do believe that if I had been more religious, I would have tried harder to make my marriage work. 

I also believe religion requires you to treat your spouse with kindness and respect, something that is missing in a lot of relationships.  Do I think that being religious would drop the 50% divorce rate to 25% or less?  It worked back then and there is no reason it cannot happen now.

When it comes to your children, parents mostly feel as Elizabeth Stone does: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body,”.  

Therein lies the reason to make your marriage work.

I was watching the Chernobyl mini-series on HBO last week and was moved by it.  At the end someone said, “Every time you lie you incur a debt to the truth and sooner or later that debt has to be paid”.  I gave that some thought, and I completely agree with that idea.  It’s a perspective that we should adopt and instill in our children.  We were all raised to understand that lying was wrong, and we know that if we lie in court, we can be incarcerated, but we never assumed that lies accumulated and at some time in the future we had to suffer in some way for those lies.  We can all find situations where a “little white lie” seems to be necessary.  It may be that we do it to spare hurting someone’s feelings, or, we do it because we were asked a question that we did not want to answer truthfully and felt it necessary to tell a falsehood.  There are times when we “stretch” the truth in order to make the situation seem better than it was.  My ex-wife used to say that, “to deceive is worse than lying” whenever she detected that I wasn’t being completely honest with her.  My reasoning was that she couldn’t handle the truth and would become very upset.  Our two children always avoided telling her bad new because of her inability to handle it.  Maybe, we should have been truthful and accepted the consequences but all three of us chose to avoid that at all costs.  I think at some point, deceiving (lying) takes its toll on you and starts to chip away at your self-respect.  After we divorced, I vowed to never again be caught in that situation and my life has been much happier.  I also think God is much happier with me 😊.

Those who think it is permissible to tell white lies soon grow color-blind… Austin O’Malley

I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet of ours that you are loved by your friends and family as much as I am loved by mine.  May you always be treated with kindness and respond with humility…..Tommy


Splish Splash I Was Taking A Bath


  In May 1958, Bobby Darin’s single “Splish Splash “was released.  I was 17 years old and had just finished my junior year in high school.  I played basketball and football for our school and had done well, and I was sitting on top of the world. My younger brother and I lived with Mom & Dad in an apartment above a restaurant that my mother managed, and I had a job that summer working at the Chrysler dealership about 15 miles away. 

Dad was a boss at a coal mine not too far away and, with some additional jingle in my pockets from my job, things were looking up.  I was allowed to use the family car, a 1955 Ford Fairlane, on the weekends for dating, but I had a curfew and had to be home by 1 am.  Invariably, I would not get home before 3am and, therefore, had to devise a plan to fool my mother. 

I didn’t have to worry too much about Dad because he slept like a log, but Mom was not a heavy sleeper and I had to come up with something.  So, I would quietly park the car behind the restaurant, get out after removing my shoes and lightly tread the squeaky stairs that took me to our upstairs apartment. 

Slipping down the hallway to my parents’ room, I went over to their clock on the night table, set it back to 12:45am, sneaked back down the stairs, put my shoes on, and made plenty of noise as I entered our home.  Mom would wake up, glance at the clock, roll over and go back to sleep.  I would patiently wait in my bedroom until I could hear her snoring lightly, then I would enter their bedroom, reset the clock and go to bed.  My mother never knew of my deception and for some unknown reason I never felt guilty.  I do know that I should have.  My mother trusted me explicitly and was an easy target. I discovered at an early age how easy it was to take advantage of those that love you.

Flash forward twenty years and I have two teenagers of my own attempting to do the same thing to their parents.  When I discovered their violations of the curfew, I would fuss and fume, secretly knowing that I had done far worse when I was their age.  All parents sooner or later understand that trying to control their teenage children is a losing game.  The best they can hope for is that their children don’t get hurt, nor hurt anyone else.

An old proverb goes, “If you go only once round the room, you are wiser than he who sits still”.  I have never been guilty of sitting still, but I still feel guilty for deceiving my mother.  I never told her of my deceit for I knew she would have been devastated.  Sometimes adult kids enjoy telling their parents how they deceived them as children.  That is never a good thing to do.  I have met many that would deceive; but none that want to be.

All the energy mankind uses in one year is produced by the Sun in two minutes.  How in the world is that possible?   Scientist have always told us that unless the Earth was positioned exactly where it is, life on this wonderful planet would not exist.  We know that must be true because all the other planets in our solar system doesn’t support living things, or so we are told.  I suspect that all the energy the sun produces is, somehow, filtered by our atmosphere and we only receive a fraction of what it slings in our direction.  It has existed for about 4½ billion years, has burned half of the hydrogen in its core and is expected to live on for another 5 billion years at which time it will swell up, swallow the Earth and eventually die off into a small white dwarf.  I’m not sure that I believe the “swallow up” part, but the rest of it seems feasible. 

The one thing that I’m sure of is that every morning after struggling out of bed and raising the window shades, I always grab a smile when I see its rays shining into our bedroom.  There are places in our wonderful country where the sun shines practically every day.  I have often thought of moving to one of those places, but I would have to leave family behind so I have chosen to remain on the coast of Virginia.

“Is there anything more soothing than the quiet whir of a lawnmower on a summer afternoon.”

A few days ago, my wife and I discovered that a shower in our home that is seldom used wasn’t working.  It was time for me to don my plumber’s clothing and attempt the repair.  I had previously replaced a cartridge in the Moen’s faucet in another bathroom so I felt confident that I could repair this one as well.  The only difference was that the other one was in the sink and this one was in the shower stall. 

So, I jumped on my PC and headed over to YouTube and sure ‘nuff, there’s a video telling me exactly what to do.  I watched it a couple of times to ensure I knew every step to follow.  With the instructions etched into my brain, I headed out to the garage to turn off the water to our home, and proceeded to take the thing apart.  Everything’s going fine until I removed the key that held the cartridge in place within the faucet.  All of a sudden, that thing shot out of the faucet, landed on the shower floor, and plenty of water followed, covering me from head to toe. I am glad my wife wasn’t there to witness the event for I looked like a drowned rat!  It was then that I realized that I should’ve turned the water faucet on to relieve the pressure before taking it apart. I finally got it back together, and it is working fine now, but my wife noticed how wet I was as I was putting away the tools and asked me what happened?  I sheepishly responded that it was just a little water and that I would dry out soon.  Most men refrain from admitting they made a mistake. 

Kathleen Norris said, “If we do not always see our own mistakes and omissions, we can always see those of our neighbors.”   Sad but so true!     

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.

“Daddy, is Santa Real?”


👀 My wife and I have attended the Christmas party of a good friend for many years and it’s always an enjoyable evening. Her home and yard are always abundantly decorated and a warm feeling always surrounds you when you enter.  This year many of her friends did not attend because of sickness, travel, etc., but we had a great time nevertheless.  We left her home around 10 pm with our stomachs full of food/cookies and our minds filled with lots of good conversation.  As we drove home, my wife and I were surrounded with the feeling of good cheer that only a Christmas Party at Joann’s can provide.  Hopefully,all the people that missed it this year will be there next year.  I miss our yearly visit with all of them.  To this day, I still remember my best Christmas as a young boy and the sacrifice my mother and father made to ensure that I got what I wanted.  As a father, I remember the Christmas that I was able to convince my two small children that there was a Santa Claus.  I also remember the one when my 9-year-old daughter asked me if there was a Santa and I assured her there was.  “Daddy, my friends at school are making fun of me for believing in Santa, so tell me the truth!”  I looked at her perfectly formed face, long blonde hair, and gently said, “No, there isn’t a Santa”.  A look of total shock covered her face, and it felt like I had totally destroyed the truth in her world.  If there was not a Santa, was there a Fairy Godmother?  As tears welled up in her eyes, I knew I had made a serious mistake. Her older brother had been telling her for several years that Santa didn’t exist, but because her mother and I kept reinforcing his existence, she believed us.  I remember exactly where we were and what time it was when I uttered those dastardly words.  I remember getting down on my knees and pulling her close to me as she cried, and trying desperately to comfort her.  But there was no comfort for her on that day, and I suspect Christmas was never the same afterwards. There have been many special Christmas’ for me during my 77 spins around the sun and lately they have become special just because I’m still here to celebrate each one.

 👀     A few days ago, I had my annual physical, and as I sat in the chair beside my doctor, he counseled me on fitness. “You need to lose some weight, stop smoking those awful cigars, and keep doing your daily exercises”, he said patiently.  Then he asked, “How many alcoholic drinks do you have weekly?”  I replied that, “Dr Mom (my wife) says I must drink 4 ounces of red wine each day, eat some peanuts,and I will live to be 100”, and so, that’s exactly what I do.  “That’s an old wives’ tale, so stop doing it”, he responded.  I sat silently and listened without responding, knowing Dr. Mom rules my universe.  Then he gave me a bunch of papers to read that would insure I live a happy, healthy life. As I prepared to leave his office he said, “You are the healthiest patient I have, I think you are probably a health nut.”  I smiled, wondering how that could be possible when I’m 15 lbs overweight.  A few days later, as I was reading thru the handouts, he gave me, one of the articles informed me that 80% of all Americans do not live a life that provides optimum health.  That statement left me a little confused, and I’m left wondering, ok, how many of us live a little less than optimum health but still live well enough to have a happy, healthy life?  A little farther on in the article it says health authorities have determined that 5 ounces of red wine each day helps promote good health. Whaaat!  Does he read the stuff he passes out to his patients? Don’t get me wrong, I like my family health care physician, I’m just a little disappointed in him.  Dr. Mom keeps telling me to follow her advice.  Maybe I should, but I’m still trying to figure out which medical school she attended 😊.  Sam Coleridge said, “Advice is like snow; the softer it falls the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” I kinda like that idea.

👀 I read the following in a magazine: “It began three and a half billion years ago in a pool of muck, when a molecule made a copy of itself and so became the ultimate ancestor of all earthly life.  It began four million years ago when brain volumes climbed rapidly in the hominid line.  Fifty thousand years ago with the rise of homo sapiens.  Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization. Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press.  Fifty years ago, with the invention of the computer.  In less than thirty years, it will end”.  The author of that proclamation is suggesting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will end human existence within the next 30 years.  I will not be here to find out if that statement is true, but I strongly disagree with it.  Let’s see, if I train my dog to attack other people, then it stands to reason that somewhere in the process he will turn on me?  I don’t think so!  I believe the people developing AI will never allow that to happen.  Why would they?   The people writing the code for AI are very smart, don’t ya think they know in the back of their minds that if their gadget ever becomes smarter than they are it could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E?  I think it’s a little far-fetched to believe something like that could happen.  It’s far likelier that the world, as we know it, will cease to exist because we ignored climate change.  Nicholas Berdyaev said, “Fear is never a good counselor and victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of man.”

 👀 Recently I decided the windshield wipers on our truck needed to be replaced.  They were a year old and made annoying noises as they moved back and forth.  Also, they weren’t cleaning all the rain off as they should in order for me to see clearly where I was headed.  I walked into the auto parts store, told them what I wanted, paid $50, and headed home in the rain.  The one thing I know is that replacing windshield wipers is a difficult task.  I have witnessed the auto parts employees having a difficult time doing that task for their customers.  As I was driving home and thinking about the task ahead of me, I wondered why someone hasn’t devised a simpler way?  I pulled into the driveway, got a small ladder (our truck is very high off the ground), and stared at the blades on the truck, trying to figure out how the darn things come off.  I looked at the new package of wipers and there was a note that said, “Scan this bar code to get a video on how to install these wipers”.  Hot diggity dog! I immediately got my cellphone, scanned the bar code and a video popped up showing me how to remove the old blades and install the new ones. I struggled to get the old ones off, but after a lot of effort I finally got them removed.  I then popped open the new ones and voila!  There in my crusty old hands are two new blades with a new way to install them!  Just unsnap the enclosure flap on the new wiper, slide it on the control wiper control arm, snap the enclosure closed,and everything is operational and ready to wipe away.  When those wipers need replacing, the job is just a snap away (pun intended).  In case you’re wondering about the brand name of the new wipers, it’s Rain-X.  Thomas Merton said, “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”  I’m not so sure I agree with him.   

👀 The dreaded day finally arrived, I needed to replace my computer chair and I had become very attached to it.  I say that literally because I spend a lot of time in it each day.  It’s sorta like dreading to get a new pair of shoes, they take a while to break in, and you have aching feet for a period of time.  Well, the same thing applies to anew chair, but it was time for a replacement. A lot of the bonded leather was flaking off and falling to the floor and the chair looked miserable.  I went to my workshop, brought back some clear packing tape and stopped the flaking, but the chair looked like it was a homeless guy’s prized possession.  So, my wife told me one morning that it was time to go to OfficeMax and select a new chair.   Boy, do they have a lot of office chairs to choose from.  Nothing to do but sit in each chair and ponder if it’s the one I want? I was more inclined to be affected by price ($450+ for some) and leaned more towards the $135 range.  My wife kept encouraging me to ignore the price and select the one that was most comfortable. Finally, I pointed a crooked finger at my selection and told her,with firmness in my voice, “that’s the one I want”.  I looked at the price tag ($338) and flinched.  I immediately reached for my cellphone, scanned the bar code and observed that I could get it for $238 at the same store if I ordered it online and could pick it up in an hour.  A lot of things can bring a smile to my face,but saving $100 can slide one on there just about as quick as sliding a spoonful of pecan pie into my pie hole. I had the chair home (in a box) within a few hours and started assembling it.  An hour later it was sitting behind my desk, inviting me to give it a spin.  I am slowly coming around to liking the chair, but it will take time.  I took the old one to the city dump a few days ago, and as I tossed it into the garbage heap,I waved a sad goodbye.  Lots of my DNA on that old chair.  Ellen Glasgow said, “The hardest thing for me is the sense of impermanence.  All passes; nothing returns.”  I kinda think that is true.

   I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet, you are enjoying the ride. May those that love you show up at your door for a long visit during this wonderful month of celebration.  I am eager to greet the New Year and continue my journey.  If you have access to the internet, please visit my website:  www.tommyhale.net 


I Need to Lose Some Weight!


The author Michael Pollan offered an elegant seven-word mantra in his best-selling book “In Defense of Food” that provides clarity amid the bounty of choices on supermarket shelves: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants”. How easy that sounds. Although, I’m still on my ELOO (Extra Light Olive Oil) diet, I am still plagued by the amount of food available to eat. Jerilyn and I eat out once a week and, it seems, the restaurants are always eager to heap food on our plates in an effort to see that we return. The worst places are the buffets where we are responsible for returning several times and overeating. One thing I know for sure, if I ever cease to fight my own “Battle of The Bulge”, I will quickly baloon to an inconceivable weight and multiple health problems will appear. Like you, I have a weight number that causes immediate panic if I exceed it. I may not win every individual battle, but I will win this war!

Last week, my wife got stung by a bee (Wasp) on her finger and it caused her a lot of pain. She spied it on the floor and took a paper napkin and caught it, squeezing it several time until she thought it was dead. Nope! When she opened the napkin and picked the darn thing up by its wing it stung her and she yelled at the top of her lungs. Goodbye Wasp! When she finished with it that time it was definitely dead. Looking at me inquiringly, she said “What can on do to stop the pain?” Desperately trying to remember when I graduated from medical school, I suggested placing her finger in vinegar. That seemed to help some. A friend told us that taping a penny on it for 15 minutes helps and someone else said that rubbing a banana peel on it would help also. The next day she pulled the stinger out and then things started improving. Her finger is fine now, but it will be a long time before she fools around with bees again.

I went fishing with my son last Sunday. That boy truly loves to fish. Without a boat, we were relegated to fishing off a pier. We were there 3-4 hours without a bite. The wind was gusting up to 30 mph, so we pretty much knew the fish would not bite. It was, however, a good time for father & son bonding. It always works out that way when we fish together. What a fun time!

Jerilyn has been working with United Airlines, setting up our trip to California in July. She was trying to work it in with our trip to Hawaii. We wanted to leave home a week early (July 16) and fly to San Francisco, which is part of the Hawaii trip, and then fly up to LA to visit family and friends. After that, we would rejoin the tour group and continue on to Hawaii. Also included in the problem was that we were attempting to use a flight credit issued to us last year when we cancelled our CA trip. Over a period of two days she was on the phone with United constantly. Every time they talked the rate would change depending on who she was talking to. Finally, at the end of the second day, she yells into the phone “I cannot believe anything you people tell me! Does anyone there know what’s going on?” That is so unlike Jerilyn. She is always sweet and pleasant. At the end of the day, they e-mailed us the tickets and I have printed them out. Unless we have a catastrophe we will be in CA on July 16th. This will be my first visit to that fair state and I’m certainly looking forward to it. I plan on taking many pics.

Saturday night we took Gladys out to dinner at Olive Garden (her favorite place). It has been more than six months since she has been out to eat with us. Health problems have kept her, either in Health Care, or her apartment. It was a good time for all. But, without fail, she looks over at me when our food arrives and says “Now, eat slow because I am taking my time.” As Jerilyn know, I absolutely despise anyone telling me how to eat my meal. As the anger boils inside, I calmly say to her “Gladys, I solemnly promise that if I finish before you do I will not leave you here.” Somehow, I think she knows how much that aggravates me and she cannot resist pushing that blinking red button. Once we got past that little annoyance, we enjoyed our meal and had a delightful conversation. She will be 90 this August. What a wonderful blessing!

Well, I finally finished the park bench for Jerilyn. The base of the bench is made of six by six (6”x6”) lumber and the bench setting on top of it is from a buckboard wagon Jerilyn’s Great-Grandpa Moger used back in the early 1900’s. I applied several coats of Thompson Waterseal to it before bolting it to the base. The base is salt treated and should last for many years. I poured some dry cement into each hole for the legs with the thought that it would eventually harden and hold them firmly in place. Jerilyn still has some work to do. She plans on making it a rock garden, so another trip to the Rock Place is in store for us. Anyway, my part is done and Jerilyn is a happy camper. Needless to say, when she’s happy, I’m happy!

My latest project involved putting a tomato plant in a bucket and hanging it upside down from a tree limb in our back yard . I found the info I needed online and with a printout of the instructions firmly clutched in my little hands I proceeded to follow them step by step. First I obtained a 5 gallon paint bucket, with top, from Kathy (Jerilyn’s daughter-inlaw), washed it with soap and water and placed the top firmly in place. I then drilled two holes in the bucket handle for a small rope. Taking a sharp knife, I cut a 2.5” diameter hole in each end, removed the top, placed a coffee filter over the hole in the bottom and filled the bucket with dirt (Jerilyn normally has a good stock of flower dirt from our local self-help store). Next I placed a coffee filter over the top of the dirt where the lid hole would be and then placed the lid firmly on the bucket. I then turned the bucket upside down, cut a slit in the coffee filter and worked out a place for the roots of the tomato plant, placed the plant roots inside the bucket and packed the dirt in firmly around it. The coffee filters inside the holes keep the dirt in place. Next, I throw a small nylon rope around a tree limb and attach it to the two holes in the bucket handle, hoist it to the desired height, tie it firmly and soak it thoroughly with fertilized water (Ortho liquid Fertilizer). That’s where the instructions stopped. I decided I wanted it to water itself for several days without my intervention, so I took a quart bottle, punched a small hole in its lid and base, plugged the hole in the base with a small screw (so I could regulate the drip), propped the bottle in the base and, with a few tweaks, I was done. So far, a bottle of water has lasted 1½ days. My new tweak should result in 4-5 days. I expect tomatoes as big as watermelons. I will keep you posted.