Category: 2007

It always amazes me to see how far our family tree branches out

As some of you know, The Hale Family Reunion happened this past weekend at The Breaks Interstate Park in Southwest Virginia.  I don’t know the official count, but I would guess 150 -200 people attended.  We get together every two years and it is always a pleasure to see family member that I have not seen in years.  One member of our family  came all the way from Australia.   It always amazes me to see how far our family tree branches out.  There are two family members that put the reunion  together (thanks Sue & Ilene) and do all the work to see that it comes off smoothly.  Come to think of it, isn’t that the way life works?  A few people do most of the hard work and everyone else sets back and enjoys the fruits of their labor.  I have got to do something about this attitude.

There were quite a few family member birthdays in June.  My son, my granddaughter, my great-granddaughter and my brother all celebrated birthdays.  Unfortunately, they all live a good distance from me, so I was unable to be with them.  It is always sad when someone close to you celebrates something special in their lives and you are not present.   Sometimes, a gift and a card seem so inadequate.  Next year I vow to do better.

I had an opportunity to visit with a friend from high school this past weekend.  We communicate often via e-mail, but seldom have the opportunity to converse face to face.  I had forgotten how easy it is to hold a conversation with her.  Some people have a nice and easy manner and an innate ability to guide a conversation so smoothly from one topic to another.  Elsie Dee is this person.  I think she should have been a talk show host.  I believe we all have friends like this.  I wish I were like that, but, the Lord did not pass that natural ability down to me.  Hmmm, I’m trying to think, what natural ability did he pass on to me?  If I think of it I will let you know.  Right now, I’m drawing blanks.

Last Friday, when Jerilyn and I left to go back home for the reunion on Saturday, we knew we needed to be there between 5 – 6pm.  You see, the evening before the reunion, my Aunt Helen has a big cookout and about 30 family members show up.  Aunt Helen assured me that she would delay supper until 6pm, but after that it would be kinda iffy as to what would be left for us to eat.  Because we needed to talk to the fellow putting a new roof on our home, we got a late start.  Our trip started at 9:30am.  It normally takes us 9-10 hours to get there, stopping to eat, hit the rest stops, etc.  This time we had to make it in 8 hours.  Needless to say, the Riviera was placed at the maximum safe speed above the speed limit.  If the limit is 55, I set the cruise control on 62.  I have been thru many police radars doing 7 mph over the speed limit and I have never been pulled.  This time I set it at 9mph.  We stopped at a Hardy’s and got a Thick Burger and I ate that messy thing while I was driving.  Thanks to Jerilyn, none of it dripped on me and thanks to the Lord I was able to keep the car on the road and in its proper place while I ate my food.  This act of stupidity is not recommended for anyone and I doubt that I will ever attempt it again.  We arrived at 5:30pm, participated in a wonderful dinner with great fellowship and went to sleep that night content in the knowledge that we had consumed more food on that day then in the previous 3 combined.  I hate that thing called gluttony.

Hope you’re enjoying your summer, or whatever season it is in your part of the world…. Tommy

“”There are two cardinal sins from which all others spring: Impatience and Laziness.” ….Franz Kafka




I Don’t Want To, I Don’t have To, You Can’t Make Me!

I have been seen wearing a T-shirt lately that I received from my Granddaughter Robin and her husband David.  It says proudly in bold print:  I don’t want to; I don’t have to; you can’t make me; I’M RETIRED.  It took me a while to warm up to the idea of wearing it.  I have seen other people wearing those shirts with similar messages and I just wasn’t sure that I wanted to do that.  Anyway, one day, I put it on because Jerilyn had placed it conveniently on the top of the other shirts in my drawer.  It didn’t take long for me to overdo it and Jerilyn had to literally rip the shirt from my back.  Sometimes, I long to be normal.

have been trying for a while to get my cholesterol within the limits set by our family doctor.  I have been drinking a mixture, prepared by Jerilyn, called “Jogging in a Jug”.  Just what she puts in that awful tasting drink is beyond me.  It taste like something akin to battery acid.  I let out the most animalistic sounds after swallowing the two ounces after breakfast and dinner.   She has assured me that it will improve my cholesterol readings.  My last test showed 175, but my good was low (33) and so almost all of it was made up of the bad stuff.  I am getting another test this month and I will keep you posted on the results.  I am tempted to rename the concoction “Dying in a Jug”.

My truck has become sickly lately.  Saturday, I decided to replace the valve cover gaskets, thinking it was perhaps a 3-4 hour job.  Turned out to be much more than that.  About 6 hours later I was desperately trying to get everything back together the way it came off, get a bunch of grease off my hands and arms and get ready for dinner at a local restaurant and some country music entertainment afterwards.  I still have traces of grease around my fingernails much to Jerilyn’s dismay.  Somehow, she doesn’t seem to understand that grease and dirt don’’t bother us guys as much as it does the female population.

My daughter, Debby, came over Sunday and she and I went for a 2 mile stroll (40 minutes).  It is always good to spend time with her.   It seems like we don’t spend as much time with each other as we should.  She has her own circle of friends, all about her age, and she just has a hard time fitting her dad into her busy schedule.

Jerilyn’s mother (Gladys) normally comes over on Sunday around 1:30 pm  and I take her home around 6:30 pm.  This has been going on for several years now.  She is 88 years old and her health seems to be failing her somewhat.  As I was driving home from her retirement community the other day, the thought crossed my mind that it was quite possible that this weekly routine would be coming to an end before too long.  The thought made me sad.

How many things do we do over and over, feeling that we will be able to do them indefinitely and then one day realize that an end may be near.   We all, probably, have people in our lives who are approaching the end of their life.  Our recognition of this is important because it allows us to make sure the time we spend with them is more intimate.  I have been able to do this with the last two deaths in our family and it gives me a warm feeling to know that I was able to spend some quality time with each of them before they died.

Well, guess it is time to close and get ready for the NCAA Championship game.  I’m pulling for Ohio State.  Hope all is well in your corner of the world….    Tommy

              “Chance is the pseudonym of God when he did not want to sign.”… Theophile Gautier


Christmas day

I read recently that American 15 year olds rank 33rd among industrialized countries in math.  In science they ranked 27th.    I agree with W.E. Williams when he said “Few people appreciate the implications of poor math preparation.  Math, more than anything else, teaches one how to think logically.  If one graduates from high school with little or no preparation in algebra, geometry and a bit of trig, he is likely to find whole areas of academic study, as well as the highest paying jobs, hermetically sealed off from him for his entire life.”    I know, there are exceptions, but for the most part I believe what he said is true.  If I had it to do over, I would have tried harder in math and science and I would have tried to be more influential with my children in those areas.  I wish one of my teachers had imparted this information to me early in life (and I hope I would’ve listened).   Ah, the clarity of hindsight!

The other morning I had breakfast at a local restaurant with my daughter (Debby) and uncle KD’s wife (Mary).   It was so good to set down with family and enjoy a good meal and good conversation.   The conversation was easy and relaxed and no tears were shed, although all three of us were still grieving our loss on December 6th.   I left the restaurant knowing that we would pick up with our lives, but carry KD in our hearts wherever we went.

I took our little boat (Puffer) out of the water the other day after a short ride up the canal.   I was surprised how well the anti-foul paint worked on keeping barnacles off the bottom of the boat.  I cranked up the old power washer and, with biodegradable bleach feeding into the hose, cleaned it as clean as a whistle.   The little 5 horsepower motor was flushed with fresh water for ½ hour and now everything is stowed for the winter, waiting for spring to arrive.  I used it about 4 times this year.  I wonder if that is enough to justify its existence in my life?  Let’s wait and see how it goes next year.


Christmas was very good.  My daughter, Jerilyn’s mother and her son Dean and his family (Kathy, Chris, Brandon) helped us celebrate on Christmas Day.  Jerilyn prepared breakfast, consisting of French toast and pancakes and Kathy fried some delicious bacon.  Afterward, we opened presents and enjoyed each other’s company.  My son was in TN enjoying his Christmas with his family and Jerilyn’s son Mark was in Florida with his wife Rachel, soaking up the sun and enjoying the good life.  Jerilyn and I attended the Candlelight Service at our church on Christmas Eve and it was very moving.  This time of the year always leave me feeling good.  Sometimes, it is hard for me to get the “Christmas Spirit”, but this year it seemed to come so easy.  Maybe, I needed the Lord in my life more this year.

My Uncle Claude is home from the hospital after suffering a heart attack several weeks ago.  I understand his left foot is numb and he is on dialysis 3 times a week.  I pray for him every day.

When I was a young man I remember attending church one day and the minister said to the congregation “If anyone here has a special need, form a line right here in front of the pulpit and I will pray for you.”   I stood in line and finally it came my turn to be prayed for.  “Ok, young man”, the minister said, “what’s your problem?”  I told him “I’ve got a hearin’ problem”.   Well, he put his hands on both my ears and prayed for 10 minutes.  After he removed them he asked me “Son, how’s your hearin’ now?”    “I dunno”, I replied, “It’s not until next week”    I am so full of it!


I hope you’re enjoying the Christmas season.  Thanks for reading my weekly missive.




Never Regret Growing Old…It Is A Privilege Denied To Many


Yard work

Well, it finally happened.  My Uncle KD lost his battle with cancer on Thursday (12/6) at 4:25 pm.  It will be a long time before the hurt goes away, but it will, I know it will.   His wife of 47 years (Mary), his son (Duke), grandchildren (Timmy & Melissa) & daughter-in-law (Brenda) are all suffering more than I, but that does little to ease my sadness.  His memory will stay with me as long as I walk this earth.

Jerilyn and I spent Monday doing yard work.  Leaves were all over the place and our grass needed cutting in some places.  We loaded it all up and took it to the city dump.  The truck was full and leaves fluttered out as we made our way there.  By the time we returned home leaves were again covering our yard.  I think one more trip to the dump will do it, but I must wait several weeks.  Then the chore will be done for another year.   I always enjoy fall, watching the leaves turn and then drop slowly to the ground.  After a while, the weather turns cold and I have to don warm clothes and walk briskly to wherever I’m going.  Isn’t it amazing how cold air can add a little juice to your steps?  I walk nowhere slowly in the winter time.  Nightfall is here by 5pm and we are safely tucked inside our home by then.  Jerilyn stays busy getting ready for Christmas, while I do things on the PC or read the paper.  I wonder how she stands me sometimes.  I really need to be more helpful.

We travelled with our close friends, Don & Louise, to Roanoke Rapids and the Randy Pardon Theater (brother of Dolly).  We enjoyed the trip with our friends and the show was probably a 6 on a scale of 10.  Isn’t it amazing what a little diversion will do to raise your spirits?  I needed that trip,  I spend too much time thinking about the loss of my uncle.  The show was titled “Carolina Christmas” and was attended by a lot of people on bus tours.  Seems as though Randy Pardon has lost his job.  He appeared on stage drunk and was arrested.  He was fired from a job paying him 1.5 mil.  It appears his name will be removed from the theater.  The folks in Roanoke Rapids are upset, apparently, they financed the theater via additional taxes.

Jerilyn and I will be attending a Christmas party tonight (Saturday) given by our close friend Joann.  She does this each year and we always have fun.  A lot of the people at the party we only see once a year and, yep, it’s at her party.  This has been going on for 15 years and the holidays would not be the same if she stopped doing it.  Special people do things like that don’t they?

I went to my doctor yesterday to have my 6 month prostrate exam.  My reading jumped from 3.2 to 5.0 last June and I had biopsies taken then.  They were all clear.  The doctor said if the reading stays around 5, then we will continue the 6 month examination routine.  If it has gone back down to 3 then we will check it once a year.  I should get my results next week.

A retired Methodist minister (Lewis Morgan) wrote a wonderful Christmas poem and sent it to Jerilyn.  I would like to include it for you to read:

A Plain Man slouches toward Bethlehem,

wondering as he wanders:


What happened to that Old Gang of Mine, gone like a used sunset?

No wonder I can’t find them, they’re chatting on the internet.


who took away my memory and hobbled me with fears?

Who stole my yesterdays and left me with all these years?


What alien kidnapped my grandbabies, absent from my empty lap?

How I miss all the rasslin’ and the hasslin’ !   May I please have them back?


Who absconded with my Thanksgiving Friday and painted it black?

And how is it that upstart Rudolph now gets to lead the pack?


I really miss “Joy to the World” and all the Christmas rhymes.

Guess what I just heard? “Let it snow, let it snow” for the 1000th time.


And what Grinch took my baby Jesus?  Could anything be stranger

than a thief who would throw out the Babe and cop the Manger?


Which merchant emptied out my bank account and made me sad like this?

Thank Heaven, O Thank Heaven, they didn’t get my Christmas Mailing List.


I hope you’re enjoying your Christmas season.  Thanks for reading my weekly missive.




Never Regret Growing Old…It Is A Privilege Denied To Many



The depth of a person’s determination to succeed

A perfect SAT score is 1600 combined. Bill Gates scored 1590 on his SAT. Paul Allen, Bill’s partner in Microsoft, scored a perfect 1600. Bill Cosby scored less than 500 combined. Now, you may wonder, what does all this mean? I guess it says that you can succeed in life even though your SAT score indicates your intelligence is only slightly higher than a woodpecker’s. I do not remember my SAT score, but I am sure it was not in the teens. We have designed all sorts of ways to measure human intelligence, but absolutely no way to measure the depth of a person’s determination to succeed. If Bill Cosby can achieve the success he enjoys with a 500, maybe I didn’t try hard enough.

A good friend and I loaded up and drove about 2 hours away to attend a playoff football game our Poquoson High School team was having. We won easily. The following Saturday I rode with Jerilyn’s son (Dean) to Charlottesville (also 2 hrs away) to watch them play in the state semifinal game (we lost). Both trips were fun and the time spent with friends and family was enjoyable.

I received this tip the other day, and thinking it was a good one, decided to pass it on to you: Put your car keys beside your bed at night. If you hear a noise outside your house, or someone is trying to get into your home, just press the panic button for your car (if your car has one, ours does not). The alarm will trigger the horn and the l sound will frighten away most would-be criminals. You can also use this alarm as you approach your car in a parking lot at night. Test your car to make sure you are within the range needed.

We attended a country music talent show the other night. It had four contestants, winners from previous talent shows during the year, and they were all good. I wonder how many of us have ever placed our talent on public display. I would never have the courage to get on stage and say, “Here’s what I can do. Do you like it? If you do, let me know by applauding.” Gee, I barely have the courage to stand in front of a large group and talk. Stage fright is a terrible thing. Most of us do well in small groups, but that is about as far as it goes. I found out early that if I could get by the first two minutes I calmed down and was able to continue without too much nervousness. I have always admired people that could make speeches or perform in front of a large audience effortlessly.

The water pump in my truck is leaking badly. I was trying to determine whether I should do it or not, depending on it’s complexity, and so, I Goggled it and came up with this website ( Upon arriving there, I selected auto repair as the category and then typed in my question. They go off and find an expert to answer my question (takes a couple of minutes) and then come back and give me the guy’s name and tell me that he has been a Chrysler service manager for 12 years. I then have three payment options ($9, $15, $25). I figured the $9 option would not get me a lot, so I opted for the $15 plan. If you are unhappy with the answer you do not have to pay anything (which I liked). Anyway, in a few minutes the guy gives me detailed instruction for removing and installing the water pump. He tells me that I need two special tools, gives me the Snap-On ID # for the tools, and tells me what to look for when I examine the pump and fan blade assembly. I was impressed. I had the information I needed for $15. I decided I would not attempt the repair myself. I checked with several repair shops and the price ranged from $232 – $375. I have, of course, opted for the lower price. I go to the truck doctor Tuesday (12/4). The timing belt is just behind the water pump. I will have them replace that also. The truck has 138,000 miles on it. I can’t complain too much. Anyway, the whole point here is, if you have a major problem and need help deciding how to fix it, for as little as $9 you can get all the help you will need in making that decision. I think my life just got a little simpler.

My uncle’s cancer has gotten worse. He is very weak and unable to get out of bed. I pray for him several times daily and he is on my mind constantly.

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

Posted By bipolar66 to My Window on The World at 12/03/2007 05:42:00 AM



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