I received a photo from a friend recently that was a wonderful gift. This is the coal camp in southwestern, VA that I grew up in. The guy on the left and his sister on the right were, and still are, very good friends of mine (I don’t remember the guy in the middle). Page Coal Camp was torn down long ago and this is the only picture I have of it. Until it was received the other day, this camp only seemed to be a figment of my imagination. I will be visiting the young girl in this photo during our trip to California in October. You have probably heard her voice on TV if you watch tennis. She was the umpire of many important matches. In our coal camp days she always wanted to be included in the games the boys played. We shoved her around constantly. She went on to become an outstanding athlete. I like to think that I contributed to that. The fellow on the left was the leader of the Coal Camp Gang. He was forever putting us up to mischief. I always thought of him as being the pointy end of the spear. We went camping on top of one of our many mountains one time and he spilled bacon grease on his leg. Refusing to tell his parents, it later became infected and gangrene commenced to set in. Fortunately, he got the necessary treatment and everything turned out ok. I forgot why he didn’t want to tell them. Probably, he felt they would prohibit future camping trips. My personal opinion: he was just tough!. What this picture does not show and cannot show is we were a happy bunch of youngsters. We did not know we were poor since every family had about the same yearly income. For the longest time there were only two TV’s in the whole camp. During the summer months, my mother sent my brother and me outside after breakfast and we were not allowed back in, except for lunch, until supper was ready. She cleaned the house every morning in about two hours and it was going to stay that way. I never remember being bored. Our camp was our extended family, so I had many brothers and sisters. The unwritten rule was “let’s see how much fun we can have today”. That rule is still in effect in my life. Is it a rule in your life? If not, can it be made one?
Jerilyn is a weather junkie. She is constantly asking me for a weather report because she knows I have that information available on my desktop. I was 51 years old when I met her. Up until that time, I cannot remember the weather playing an important part in my life. Whatever the weather was for the day was of no concern to me. I accepted it. I was usually aware if a hurricane was headed our way, but other than that, my life was unaffected by the weather. The other day I went into our local Radio Shack and bought her a weather station, complete with a remote transmitter that broadcast lots of information to her tabletop unit. She now knows the inside temp, outside temp, humidity in both places, barometric pressure….. well, you get the idea. The only info she will not get is the weekly forecast. That will still be my responsibility I’m sure. Watching the weather too closely can be depressing. If I know, for example, that today’s temp will be in the 90’s, I plan my day so I will be inside. Without that knowledge, I go outside and do whatever I have planned. Maybe, with the new weather station available for her to use, I can ignore the weather and get on with my life. It will be interesting to see if this plan works.
As most of you know, I am a big fan of audio books, having listened to 272 so far. My local library has started a new program call “eBooks”. To participate in the program I had to go to the library, sign up, log in the system, setup a userid and password, and presto, the world of audio books and printed books were available for me to download to my PC . I went home, logged into www.netlibrary.com and started searching their available audio books. The book by George Tenet (former CIA director) “At The Center of The Storm” caught my eye. I clicked on it and it was available. I downloaded it to my PC (272mb). I was told that I could use it until 8/26/07, after that, I would not be able to open it again until it was renewed online. You cannot burn the book to CD, but you can transfer it to a portable player if that player meets certain requirements, i.e. restrict the playing of the book based on the expiration date and allow for bookmarking (resume playing where you stopped earlier). Unfortunately, a lot of the older portable players only play mp3 files and audio books are WMA files. My portable player fell in this category. The website contained a list of players that qualify to play their audio books, I selected one (Creative Zen V Plus) and went to eBay and searched their site. I successfully bid on one, using the snipe program I talked about in an earlier WOW, and the portable player is in the mail as I write this letter. It appears that the library has a limited number of copies of each book they can license at one time and once they reach that limit, they have to wait until one of the outstanding copies expire before they can issue another user permission to download that book. You can download and read printed books or just print them out (seems expensive). As far as I can tell, Netlibrary.com is a national program. Only one of the libraries in our area has signed on to use it. You may want to check with your library to see if it is available.
I hope you’re enjoying your summer, or whatever season it is in your part of the world
“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner.”