Well, the holidays came and went and the time spent with family & friends was great. As you get older, New Years Eve is not quite the celebration it used to be. The young people still make a big thing of it, but for us older folk, we are just happy to still be around. My earliest recollection of a New Years Eve celebration was around the age of 6-7 and it involved using firecrackers. I had thrown a Cherry Bomb, it did not go off, and I went over and picked it up. Just as I did, it exploded! It felt as though my hand had been severed. The nails on my thumb and forefinger immediately turned a dark blue, and to add to the pain everyone was laughing mightily. Now, the easiest way to make pain worse is not to be able to express it by jumping around, screaming at the top of your lungs, and crying. I tried to act as if it didn’t hurt, and I am not aware if I succeeded or not because the laughing would not stop. At that early age, my parents expected me to start acting like a man and, to me, that meant not crying when in pain. I hope I didn’t pass that on to my son. If I did, I certainly did not mean to.
I do not play with firecrackers anymore, haven’t for many years, and whenever I see someone with them, the scene I just described flashes before my eyes. Now, whenever I get hurt severely (think hammer on thumb), I do all the things described and usually throw in a few cuss words. I always ask The Lord to forgive me for those utterances afterwards. If Jerilyn is around, I am always embarrassed. That man thing is probably too deeply ingrained.
I ran across an interesting quote by Tennessee Williams: “Kill off all my demons and my angels might die too” and I began to wonder what that could mean? If I eliminated all my bad traits, would doing that eliminate some of my good traits also? Or, should I eliminate some, but not all of my bad traits (demons) so as to preserve all my good traits? I tend to think it is an admirable thing to attempt to remove almost all things in your life that are negative (not negative loved ones of course). As an example, I wear my feelings on my shirtsleeve and, consequently, they are hurt very easily and sometimes very often. I have often tried not being so sensitive and have failed miserably. After some time has passed I am able to see the foolishness in my thinking and can move on. If I were able to change my sensitivity to perceived criticism, would I also be changing my sensitivity to feelings of love and caring? Since I am so confused, guess I had better leave things as they are. Sometimes I analyze things to death (yet, another demon?).
Jerilyn & I were returning from church on Sunday a few weeks ago and she needed to stop by our local grocery store for a few items. I sat in the truck while she went in to get the things needed. The temperature was a cold 25° with a wind chill of -5°. Within a few minutes, a young man in his 20’s walked out the door with a short sleeve shirt on and no jacket. I began to shiver for the poor guy although I didn’t see him shivering. Someone drove a car toward him, stopped, and he entered on the passenger side, stepping in briskly and then speeding away. I observed old people (like myself) shuffling from their car to the door and then back again. The younger people walked with vigor each way trying to avoid the cold as best they could. I thought of our good friends in California who see the same weather every day. They get up knowing what to expect, weather wise, for their daily activities. I doubt seriously if they know the channel number for the Weather Channel. Here, in eastern Virginia, we check the weather forecast each and every day because it has a big impact on our daily life. I kinda like having different weather. Having to stay inside because of the cold forces me to look for other things to do to occupy my time. Seeing snow on the ground makes me feel good. Watching a squirrel carrying pine straw and leaves up the tree to make a nest entertains me. Watching birds pecking on the ice in the birdbath amuses me. Rushing out in the yard to unfurl the flag from its entanglement on the pole and then scurrying back indoors to escape the cold energizes me. The Lord knows that I enjoy every day he gives me.
Jerilyn and I have a close friend that had a heart attack a few days ago. It was totally unexpected. We spend quite a bit of time with her and her husband, and I always think of her as the kid in the group because she is several years younger. As it turns out, she had double by-pass surgery and the worrying intensified when she slept for 2½ days afterwards. She is awake now and doing fine and we expect to see her smiling face at home before long. I imagine it will be some time before she can engage in a lot of activity, but we are looking forward to her complete recovery. What won’t fully recover is the feeling I have that life will float along and, aside from a few problems, remain much the same for as long as I live (with me aging and everyone else staying the same). As old as I am, I should know better, and it only takes the jolt of almost losing a close friend to shock me back into the real world. As often as I promise The Lord that I will not take anything for granted, he has to be disappointed in me.
Jerilyn noticed a few drops of water behind the washing machine the other morning and, after a close inspection by the Maytag guy (me), it was determined that a new hose was in order and the grommets in the faucet needed replacing. Ultimately, I decided to replace the faucet also, so off I go to our local hardware store to procure the things needed (water hose & faucet). They weren’t too expensive, the total coming to $15, so I returned home thinking I’ll be done in an hour tops. I install the faucet, turn on the water, luckily the water can be turned off in the house from the garage, and the darned faucet will not stop leaking. It doesn’t leak much, but no matter how tight I turn it, the leak will not stop completely. I guess I removed it at least four times, applying a different thickness of plumbers tape to the threads each time. Finally, in desperation, I reinstalled the old faucet and, voila, the leak stopped. I don’t think anyone in this household will be calling me “Joe the Plumber” anytime soon. Jerilyn has a bad habit of asking me “how long do you think it will take?” . I believe she is quickly coming to the realization that with me you never know. There is no such thing as a simple job when I grab hold of it.
I would like to personally thank all of you that requested a continuation of this newsletter. About half on last year’s distribution list did not respond and were removed and, though I will miss them, I understand today’s hectic schedule. That said, I’m glad you decided to continue and I look forward to sending my musings to you.
I would like to end this missive with the following thought:
“It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.”
– Dale Carnegie
I hope you’re enjoying whatever season it is in your part of the world. Thanks for reading my monthly missive.
You can find my blog at: http://tommyhale.blogspot.com/
or my pictures at: http://bipolar66.smugmug.com