Category: 2018


Stop Swearing!


😊  It has been said that we never grow old emotionally; our bodies change, but our emotional needs do not.  I’m not so sure that I agree with that statement.  I believe my emotional needs have changed over the years.  I think that as a younger man, I needed more, and deeper, support than I do now.  It is my belief that back then I had confidence issues that have since fallen by the wayside.  The many lessons life has taught me have instilled that confidence.  Yes, I still need the love that is given to me by my family & friends and would certainly be a sad guy if, suddenly, that love was gone.  But I could continue to function as a productive part of our society.  W.B Yeats said, “It is so many years before one can believe enough in what one feels even to know what the feeling is.”    I’m hitchin’ my horse to that tree.

😊 Several weeks ago (early January) we received about 5” of snow and the temps were in single digits at night.  This is very unusual for our spot on this wonderful planet.  I get cold when the temp drops to 25°, so you can imagine the look on my face the morning my desktop weather station informed me that it was 4° outside.  I patiently waited until the afternoon sun melted some of the snow, and then I trudged out to the shed and attempted to “fire-up” my lawn tractor (Big Red).  It has a plow blade attached on the front and is the perfect machine for moving around snow.  I placed the key in the ignition and turned the switch but nothing happened, not even a grunt.  I get my trusty battery charger and assure myself that within a couple of hours Big Red and I will be stacking up snow as high as Mount Everest!  Two hours later, I return to “crank’er up” but still no life can be found in that darn thing.  Off I go to the local O’Reilly’s Auto shop to buy a new battery.  The guy checks it and confirms my suspicion; the battery is comatose.  To the battery’s credit, it did last me 6½ years, which is highly unusual (normally two years).  I got home with the spanking-new power source, hooked it up to Big Red, and sat down in the tractor seat, prepared to move some snow.  As cold as it was, I was a little apprehensive.  As I turned the key, it sprang to life, letting me know it was ready to do my bidding.  By nightfall, our driveway and the road in front of our home were absent 95% of the snow that was there before I started.  I fell short of the Mt. Everest thing, but I have to admit that a good day’s work bodes well for a good night of sleep.    Albert Camus said, “In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me, there lay an invincible summer.”  I think that probably applies to all of us, especially when winter winds swoop down, blows snow everywhere, and then dares us to step out of the house for more than a few moments.

😊 “Watch out for the fellow who talks about putting things in order! Putting things in order always means getting other people under your control.” – Denis Diderot

I’m not so sure that I agree with ol’ Denis!  I have been putting things in order all my life and I think, to most of us, it’s a natural process.  I worked with a guy for many years and, unexpectedly, he invited me to his home one day to see if I could resolve a problem he was having with an electronic device.  In short order, I resolved the problem, and then he walked me out to his garage to show me his workshop.  My jaws dropped!  Every single item in his workshop was clean, in its assigned place and faced toward the center of the room.  I could only imagine the hours it took to organize everything and the discipline necessary to clean and place each item back in the proper place after each use.  I worked with him all those years and was unaware of how organized he was.  My friend passed away a while back, but he left a lasting impression of what “organized” really looks like.  It did not involve getting other people under his control.

😊   I decided a couple of weeks ago to do a major cleanup around my desktop & PC area.  I do this about every five years so I can remove things that have accumulated all around me.  I placed things in a big box, destined to be stored in the attic, with the understanding that if I haven’t retrieved them in a year, off they go to the thrift store.  I cannot remember retrieving anything in the attic from past cleaning efforts.   I always enjoy the new look of my work area after it has been cleaned and rearranged.  I don’t understand why I wait so long to accomplish that task since I enjoy the results so much.  I guess it’s kinda like visiting with people you enjoy being around, but you only do it every once in awhile.  I’ve come to believe that friendships are the fuel for a pleasant life, that without good friends, you may as well be a rudderless boat, adrift on rough seas.  Psychiatrists label those people as your support group.    As expressed above, I have always had people in my life that gave me support when things weren’t going so well, but I have never actually placed a label on them.   I’m not so sure a label needs to be attached.  If we do that, then we’ll need a lot of labels, and I think that’s not good.   “The hardest thing for me is the sense of impermanence.  All passes; nothing returns.”  …. Ellen Glasgow.  Yup, I’m thinking she’s right!

😊 Doctors are now saying that the best way to lose weight is only to eat between the hours of 8am – 4pm. They say you don’t need to worry so much about the calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, etc., just eat what you want between those hours within reason. If you look at that regimen closely, you’ll realize that after 4 pm you do not eat again until 16 hours have passed. I’m not so sure I could do that, but I do think it would be worth trying. Maybe I should only follow that schedule Monday through Friday and take a break on the weekends? The theory is that my body will burn the food I eat during the day, and during the night take fuel from my fat cells (which are amply present). Anyway, I think it’s worth considering since my other efforts haven’t been very productive. My first effort has to be convincing my wife to prepare dinner earlier. That’s gonna be a hard sell since it interrupts the whole afternoon.

😊I read an article recently that asked the question, “What is your favorite curse word.”  I stopped “cussing” many years ago when my two children were less than 5 years old.  At the time, I was in my mid-twenties and the shop I worked in was an all male shop.  Everyone there cursed endlessly, so I picked up the habit to fit in.  I figured I would “cuss” at work and not at home around my children.  It didn’t take me long to find out that wasn’t working too well.  My son was old enough to know he wasn’t allowed to say those words but my daughter wasn’t, so one day she calmly said the “S” word.  I was horrified!  It was at that moment I decided to stop, and I think I have been mostly successful.  Still, if I hit my finger with a hammer, or get hurt in some other manner, the “S” word flings itself into the air for everyone to hear.  I guess that means it is my favorite curse word.  Sadly, I doubt I’ll ever be able to keep it from coming blasting its way past my lips whenever I’m in extreme agony.  Pablo Picasso said, “Inspiration does exist, but it must find you working.”   I am working on it.

I hope this missive finds your life in order and that you are receiving the love and kindness you deserve.  ….Tommy

“Do You Do Anything That Doesn’t Involve Money?”


A while back my wife asked me to make a trip to our local post office to buy 40 Christmas postage stamps for the family newsletter we were sending out to family and friends. ​​ So, off​​ I went to retrieve the requested items. ​​ Upon arriving at the small building with an American flag waving proudly above it, I found a parking place and ambled inside to see 6 people in front of me and all of them with packages and two postal workers waiting on patrons. ​​ I took my place in line, willing to wait diligently, as were my apparent cohorts in this little adventure. ​​ Finally, a third worker yells loudly, “Anybody want something done that doesn’t involve money?”  ​​​​ I answered back,​​ “Do you do anything that doesn’t involve money?”​​ ​​ That brought forth smiles and chuckles from everyone. ​​ The postal worker thought for a minute and said, “Yes I do, but it would probably offend non-Christians”. Apparently, I thought, nothing that’s official business. ​​ In about 30 minutes, I had the required stamps in my pocket and am headed out the door, realizing the time spent there wasn’t so bad. ​​ I had some excellent conversation with other people in the line, and we all shared some Christmas cheer. ​​ That, plus doing something to help my wife complete her yearly task made me feel good and warm inside. ​​ Oscar Firkins said, “I was glad to get a letter instead of a Christmas card. ​​ A Christmas card is a rather innutritious thing”. ​​ 

 ​​ ​​​​ The leaves have been falling from our trees like crazy the past couple of weeks, and I’m having a hard time keeping up with their pace. ​​ Every few days, I’m out there with our yardvac gathering thousands and delivering them to our neighbor’s compost pile. ​​ He loves to use his yard tractor, fitted with a blade, to rotate his pile of stuff so it will decompose rapidly. ​​ Between the two of us, that pile gets constant attention. ​​ I frequently complain to myself about having to do that chore so often, but it is really good for me, prompting me to get​​ outside and away from the computer, breathing in the fresh (cold) air, doing physical things and encouraging me to be more active. ​​ If there’s one thing I have learned in my 76 spins around the sun, it’s that to be healthy you have to be in, mostly, perpetual motion. ​​ If you sit in front of the TV (PC) for hours-on-end, you’ll end up regretting it as you get older. ​​ Of course, being active doesn’t ensure that you will be healthy as you age, but it certainly will increase the odds in your favor. ​​ I was watching the news the other night and the host said that doctors had discovered that no matter how much you exercise, or how healthy you eat, you cannot avoid dementia as you travel thru the “Golden Years” of your life. ​​ Needless to say, it was a discouraging​​ bit of information. ​​ I choose not to believe that, maybe I’m delusional, but I see nothing positive in accepting that conclusion. ​​ Right now, I can say my ABCs backward and list, in order, all 45 presidents of the USA. ​​ When I’m no longer able to accomplish that task, then, and only then, will I be willing to accept that as being true. ​​ Frank Adams said, “There must be a day or two in a man’s life when he is the precise age for something important.” ​​ I’m gonna let my hat hang on that knob for a while​​ 😊. ​​ 

 ​​ ​​​​ I just finished reading an article in The New Yorker titled, “Why Facts Don’t Change Our​​ Minds” by Elizabeth Kolbert and thought it interesting. ​​ It’s about a​​ 15-minute read if you’re interested. ​​ My takeaway from the article is that once I make up my mind about something, it is doubtful that I’ll ever change. ​​ The problem with that is if I come to an incorrect conclusion about something, say, gun control, and​​ I convince you of my position, and you turn around and convince someone else, all three of us are mistaken because of my baseless conclusion. ​​ Later, we find that our belief becomes stronger because there are three of us that believe. ​​ Now, if we are three​​ mice, and I’ve convinced you there is no cat around the corner, that cat has a tasty meal headed his way. ​​ As it turns out, the only path to changing my mind is for me to do an in-depth analysis and see where​​ I made incorrect assumptions. ​​ I’m thinking this is kinda why my wife thinks I’m hard-headed. ​​ Freud said it so well, “I have examined myself thoroughly and come to the conclusion that I don’t need to change much.”

 ​​ ​​​​ I bought my wife a Samsung robot vacuum cleaner for Christmas with the expectation it would help her accomplish the chore she dislikes the most. ​​ After our Christmas celebration was over, I unboxed the mighty beast and started the process of charging its battery. ​​ In a few hours it proudly announced that it was ready and willing to do our​​ bidding. ​​ I have​​ affectionately​​ named the little guy “Fred.” ​​ Why I came up with that name is a good question. ​​ I guess the answer has to be that since we have named about 200 teddy bears sitting in every room in our home, various things in our yard, our​​ vehicles, and just about everything else our wandering eyes land on, it was getting a little tiresome coming up with unique names​​ 😊. ​​ Anyway, old Fred has come to life and is willing to do our bidding, so we give him the “go ahead” signal and off he goes,​​ using his artificial wits to map our house and clean every darn inch of flooring. ​​ I’m telling you it’s like bringing a blind man into the house and then leaving him alone. ​​ I’ll give him credit though, he didn’t bump into much or get stuck very often. ​​ When he did get stuck, he would try valiantly to dislodge himself and if he couldn’t, he would shutdown and send a message to my smartphone pleading for help. He is vastly amusing and I chuckle at him constantly. ​​ He vacuums for about an hour or so, and then turns himself off and heads back to the charging station to reinvigorate himself. ​​ Seldom can you buy something that helps you do your daily chores and entertain you at the same time. ​​ I’m puzzled as to how you can program a device to do what he does, and he does it quite well, but if he were human our name for him would be “Stupid Fred.” ​​ Fortunately for old Fred, we have set the expectation bar really low. ​​ Joseph Farrell said, “As a man gets wiser, he expects less, and probably gets more than he expects.”​​ 

 ​​ ​​​​ My wife recently had an operation on her left knee. ​​ It seems she managed to damage the​​ meniscus,​​ a piece of cartilage that provides a cushion between your femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). There are two​​ menisci​​ in each knee joint. They can be damaged or torn during activities that put pressure on or rotate the knee joint. ​​ It is apparently an age-related thing, although it can happen to anyone at any age. ​​ The operation was completed in ½ hour as an outpatient and we were home an hour later.​​ ​​ The operation is common and normally accomplished without incident, but anytime someone you love goes under the knife, you worry! ​​ I sat in the waiting room, determined not to dwell on the possibility that something could go wrong, but that fear kept creeping into my thoughts and making me very uncomfortable. ​​ I have a strong, faith- based structure in my life, and I know I should place my confidence in​​ His​​ hands. ​​ I was disappointed in myself for the doubts I harbored. ​​ My wife is recovering nicely, and I’m dealing with my lack of resolve. ​​ Bill Feather said, “Just as soon as we make a good resolution we get into a situation which makes its observance unbearable.”  ​​​​ I just hope I don’t have to be perfect when, inevitably, I knock on​​ His​​ door, asking for entry. ​​​​ 

 ​​ ​​​​ I hope reading this missive was fun and the ones you love are enjoying the blessings that life bestows on us all. ​​ I look forward to 2018 and all its possibilities.

….Tommy  ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​  ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

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