Tag: friendship


New Friends!


♥️ Well, chilly weather has silently crept into our area. I woke up this morning, and Alexi (Amazon) informed me that the temperature outside was 32° and the high was going to be 44°. I have to say that I am not ready for that amount of cold, and it seems like we were fighting temperatures of 95° just a few weeks ago. I am thankful that I don’t have leaves to rake and all the other outdoor activities that go with fall. I planned to fly my drone today, but the wind was too stiff, and I had to cancel those plans. I do like having four seasons. I have friends and family who live in California and Florida. They just love having sunny weather all the time, but I enjoy having seasons.

I often write to my good friend (Dale) in Florida and tell him about our cold temperatures, and he takes absolute delight in telling me it’s 75° and he’s playing golf every day. I can almost see the broad smile on his face. He lives in what is probably the largest retirement center in the USA, The Villages, and when we visited him a few years back, he tried to convince me I didn’t have to die to go to Heaven; all I had to do was move to “The Villages”! 😊

I am pleased he enjoys his retirement so much. Of course, the people in California are just as bad, if not worse, than Floridians. Everyone out there believes all good things start there and then spread east 😊. I have to admit that I enjoyed myself while visiting both places, but if I had to pick, then it would be the west coast. My biggest concern would be the lack of rain they get yearly. Seems they are constantly fighting wildfires and the destruction of many, many homes. We have relatives that live in California, and we worry about their welfare.

Bottom line, there is a distinct possibility that any place you live on this planet has its pros and cons. We know those and still choose to live in that area. My primary reason for living in this area is because I came here in 1963 looking for a job at the local shipyard. I have been here for 58 years and have made my last move. There’s a sadness to that thought, but we all make our final move at some point in our life. Mine came sooner than I thought 😊.

I enjoyed this quote by Huck Finn, “ain’t we got all the fools in town on our side? And ain’t that a big enough majority in any town?”

♥️My usual routine is to work out at the gym on Tuesday and Thursday. I walk up there from our cottage around 2:30pm, set my Fitbit watch for 51 minutes, and cycle thru the fifteen machines they have that will turn me into Charles Atlas. Seldom do I encounter anyone else, but occasionally a guy about my age, in a wheelchair, comes in and goes thru his paces, and he works harder at it than I do. I am always impressed when he rolls in and starts his workout. Like me, he has recognized that if he wants to stay healthy, he has to do healthy things and keep moving.

I read an article a while back that said we start losing muscle mass in our thirties. I’m guessing that the muscle fades away, and fat slowly takes its place 😊. At least that’s what happened to me. Anyway, back to the person in the wheelchair. As he goes from station to station, he struggles in and out of his chair but never complains, and when I get the chance to observe his face, I see a look of satisfaction in what he is doing. It’s as though he’s defeating an enemy. What an inspiration!

When I leave the house, I put in my earbuds, turn on an audiobook, head for the gym, and keep the book going until I return home. It’s a job for me, but not for him. It’s a battle, and he’s gonna win! I need to find out what he puts in his water that gives him that drive and enthusiasm.

When lifting weights, you can always tell how hard a person is working by how much they grunt. This fellow grunts a lot! As for me? Well, I seldom grunt, so you can see how much good I’m doing. My excuse is that I’m just toning my muscles, not trying to build muscle mass. Sounds kinda lame to me. I think I’m gonna try to do better, work harder, and see how it turns out. Who knows, maybe I’ll get that Charles Atlas look.

Edgar Allan Poe said it so well, “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” Ahh heck, that Charles Atlas thing is probably a pipe dream 😊.

♥️ We had dinner a few weeks ago with our newly acquired friends, Mike & Mary, and they invited us back to their apartment to enjoy a glass of coffee brandy. I had never tasted brandy before, and neither had my wife, so we thought it would be a fun thing to do. We walked into their living room, sat down, and the conversation began. We old people have no difficulty keeping a robust discussion going because we have so much to draw from. It’s sorta like a well that’s full and one that’s only half-full. Shortly, Mike says, “Are you ready for some brandy?” We responded positively to his question, and off he goes to the next room and brings back four glasses and a hefty-looking bottle. He says we need to swirl it around in our mouth to get the flavor before swallowing. My wife followed his instructions and as the brandy departed her mouth for a trip to her stomach, her face conveyed the look of someone that had just swallowed a lizard. Mike looked at her and asked if she liked it, and her reply was an adamant “No!” as she shook her head. She immediately handed me what remained in her glass and asked me to drink it for her. I enjoyed both glasses of that potent stuff, but then, most men never need a reason to drink alcohol. Many of the women here enjoy a good glass of wine. My favorite alcoholic drink is beer, but it’s Jack Black & Coke for more potent stuff. For those unfamiliar with the term, it’s Jack Daniels Bourbon (black label-they also have a green label). The black label is aged longer in their oak barrels.

We visited with Mike & Mary for about an hour, and during that time, he took us into his Den to allow us to see his “Baptist Bar.” He had a large, wooden world globe sitting beside his chair, and it opened up to reveal his selection of alcoholic drinks. I could tell he enjoyed having that bit of deception by the great big ole smile on his face. It always amazes me how little it takes to make us old guys happy 😊. We left their home, pleased that we had made new friends, and walked back to our cottage about 5 minutes away. I noticed on the way that my legs were a little wobbly, and I’m guessing the brandy had a little kick to it. Needless to say, I slept well that night.

We are thankful that The Lord is faithfully sending new friends in our directions, sometimes almost weekly. I often wonder why it took me so long to value friendships. Oh well, better late than never!

Benjamin Franklin said, “The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason.” I’m not so sure I agree with him. I think reasonable men can have faith.


Naturally Thoughtful


⚽  I have discovered over time that some people are naturally thoughtful. They go out of their way to do things for others, to make them comfortable, less uncomfortable, or happy!  My wife is one of those people and so is our next door neighbor, Mary Beth.  To visit with her and her husband (John) has always been a good experience for me.  Conversations flow so easily, and I think that is because she was a schoolteacher for 30 years. Both are near my age, but their enthusiasm for life hasn’t diminished at all.  There are, in my opinion, very few homes that are as welcoming and warm when you enter.  Mary Beth will almost immediately ask you if you want something to eat or drink.  I kinda think that was the type of home she grew up in back in Kentucky.  Turns out I grew up about 2-3 hours away from their hometown.  My childhood was spent in southwest Virginia.  Kentucky, West Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina all border Virginia in that area.  Of course, the prominent topographical feature of that area is the mountains.  Plenty of us old “hillbillies” came down out of those hollers and spread our warmth and generosity all over this wonderful country.  Mary Beth and John are perfect examples of our heritage.  They have been our neighbors for a very long time, and everyone should be blessed with such kind souls for neighbors.  Reminds me of the adage, “God picks your relatives, you pick your neighbors”.  We picked really good!   William James said, “It would probably astound each of us beyond measure to be let into his neighbor’s mind and to find how different the scenery there was from that of his own”.   I think that is probably a very true statement.

⚽ Last week I took our 2017 Nissan Titan to the dealership and had them install a “lift kit” that would raise the truck three inches.  Now, I realize that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when I went down to pick it up after they had completed the work, I climbed inside and it felt like I was sitting on the top of Pikes Peak!  Wow, I exclaimed to myself, I can see over the top of everything.!  As I drove home with my wife following me, you would’ve thought I was one of those trucker guys driving a big rig across the country.  The only thing I needed, I told myself, was a big set of horns that scare everybody to death.  The dealership tried to convince me to buy a bigger set of tires to compliment my big truck look but I refused, determined to wait until I wore the ones out that, at this time, only have 25,000 miles on them, and now are looking a little smallish.  I arrived home in about twenty minutes, and as always, backed the truck up the driveway and parked it in from of our garage.  We have a two -car garage and two vehicles and both are refused entry into the garage.  The truck is too big, always has been, and the Prius fits nicely, but we have too much stuff inside to allow our vehicles entry.  Anyway, before I got out of the truck, I looked out at the wing mirrors to see if my head was even with the top of the house 😊.  I guess that no matter how old a guy gets, he still likes to have his “man toys”.  Now, I just gotta figure out how to mount the gun rack on the inside of my back window.

John Oliver Hobbes said, “Men are all the same.  They always think that something they are going to get is better than what they have got.”  That stings a little!

⚽ When I was a young lad and got into scuffs with my friends, it was customary for the loser to “cry uncle” when he wanted to give up and stop fighting.  The battle we are all fighting now is an opponent we cannot see, but we know it’s out there, waiting to attack us if we are distracted.  COVID-19 scares the bejesus out of all of us, and we have to be careful and not cry “uncle” and let our guards down.  This fight began in earnest in early March and is projected to last the rest of the year, at which time we are told we should have a vaccine.  My wife and I strongly feel that, at our age, we would have a hard time surviving such a strong enemy, so it is imperative for us to take stringent precautions. 

In my 79 years, I can only remember one other such scary time and that was in the late ‘40s & early ‘50s when there was a polio scare.  They had a drive called “The March of Dimes”, started in 1938 and interrupted by WWII.  We would get a “March of Dimes” card when Mom and Dad would go to Grundy, about 15 miles away, to buy groceries on Saturday.  That small town was always bustling on the weekend and I loved that trip.  It had three movie theaters, so entertainment was always at hand.  There was a pool hall underneath one of the barbershops, and of course, my Dad’s favorite place to go was the local ABC (whiskey store).  He would avoid alcohol all week long, but when the weekends came all bets were off. I lose focus easily, so back to the March of Dimes.  We would get a card that had about 10 slots for dimes and my brother and I would do chores all week to fill our card and turn it in on our trip to town the next Saturday.  I remember my mother being scared of Polio, so that made my brother and I scared as well.  For some unknown reason, my Dad never, ever, showed fear.  I always admired that about him.  He wasn’t a big man, standing about 5’7”, but he wasn’t afraid of anything.  I mean anything!  In hindsight, I think all young boys strive to be that kinda guy.  Children seem to follow the lead of their parents.  In 1954, Dr. Jonas Salk, a young scientist at the University of Pittsburg, developed a vaccine and it was tested on almost 2 million schoolchildren.  On April 12th, 1955, it was approved as “safe, effective, and potent”.  Thereafter, Polio was practically wiped from the face of the earth.  I was 14 years old at that time and I remember the collective sigh amongst the adults in my world.  In 1958, The March of Dimes changed their focus to the prevention of birth defects and that focus prevails today. I firmly believe we will conquer this marauding foe, but we have to be careful and not “cry uncle” too early.  Bill Mauldin said, “To a soldier in a hole, nothing is bigger or more vital to him than the war which is going on in the immediate vicinity of his hole.  If nothing is happening to him and he is able to relax that day, then it is a good war, no matter what is going on elsewhere.”  Ahh, but we know we cannot relax in this war


Friendships Are Necessary For A Good Life


Recently, my wife and I paid a visit to our former church pastor (Jim) and his wife (Phyllis), both who are dealing with cancer. He retired to devote his energy to fighting that terrible disease, and it has taken its toll on his health. He briefly walked us thru the treatments he was taking and the current status of his health. Then, we moved on to other things, and I could tell he did not want us to spend our visit just talking about his health. He has lost a lot of weight and has very little energy, but he tried gallantly to be a good host.
Occasionally, you meet someone who has a natural talent for talking, never at a loss for words, and confident in carrying a conversation squarely on their own shoulders. It is always a delight for me to meet someone like that. Oftentimes, it is a struggle to keep a friendly conversation moving along, but with someone like Pastor Jim, that is never a problem. He possess a sincerity in his eyes that few have and you never doubt what he tells you. We left their home that afternoon feeling that we had brought a little happiness into a home that was, perhaps, filled with the struggle of fighting a fierce battle. A temporary distraction of sorts, something we all need in stressful situations. I have given thought to why God would let that happen to someone that has devoted their life to serving him? I concluded that he never promised that we would be free of life’s problems, just that he would be there to help us thru those tribulations. Seth Godin said, “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, you ought to set up a life you don’t need to escape from”. Seth, sometimes that bar is a little too high.

A professor did a small experiment with his students.
First, he asked them to read a paragraph about a certain subject and timed how long it took them to finish reading it. The paragraph was deliberately written poorly.
Then he presented a second paragraph on the same subject, one written well, and asked them to do the same. When they finished, he asked them to compare the amount of information in both paragraphs and the time it took them to read each.

This experiment taught his students that it can take up to twice as long to read a badly written text that includes the same amount of information.
Looking back on my high school and college English classes, I realized that my teachers were trying to convey that same idea to me. I remember all of them stressing how important it was to express yourself, in writing and speech, in a manner grammatically correct and simple.
I read a lot, and I’m constantly having to look up words the authors use that I’m not familiar with. I don’t mind doing that occasionally, but I become somewhat annoyed if I must do it often. Here’s a good example: “Senescence comes with aches and pains, but it’s also a time to look back on your life.”
That word is defined as the aging process, or a cell’s loss of the ability to divide. So why not use “aging”?
A year ago, my PhD Candidate granddaughter sent me a thesis paper she had written on E-cigarettes. I expected to see a lot of scientific terms and words I did not know, and I was correct in that assumption. Her paper was written for a scientific community, and I knew that going in. I struggled thru and learned a lot, but it was hard reading. What I enjoyed the most was how well she presented her thoughts on the subject. That is one of the hardest things for me to do with my writings. Kelly Johnson, a lead engineer at the Lockheed Skunk Works in the 60s, is credited with saying, “Keep It Simple, Stupid”. I believe that should be the goal of every writer. I hope I have succeeded in doing that.

I would like to take you on a trip with me back to 1951 when I was a young lad 10 years old. The Artrup family, friends of our family in the coal camp I lived in, asked me to go with them to spend the weekend at a relative’s home about 3 hours away. Mom said “Yes”, and Dad said “No”. As with most families of that era, Dad’s word was final. He always wanted my brother and me in our own beds when darkness descended into our little corner of the world. I headed off to my bedroom and sat on the floor on the far side of my bed so no one could see me, and the tears started to flow. I desperately tried to stifle the sound because boys my age weren’t supposed to cry, but my heart was broken. Mom opened the door and came over to me, getting down on her knees and holding my face in her hands, she gently said, “I will talk to your Dad and see if I can change his mind.” Begrudgingly, he said “Yes”, but whenever he changed his mind about anything for my brother and me, it always had a big “BUT” added and it always included extra chores.
I cannot remember the chores he added, but early the next morning (Saturday) I was in the car with the Artrup family, and we were off to visit their dad’s sister. I lost track of time but eventually we pulled over to the side of the road and all of us got out (5 kids in the back seat). Mr. Artrup locked his car, and we started following a trail down the hill. There was not a home to be seen anywhere, but we kept walking for what seemed like several miles and finally I saw a big house with several barns and a large plot of land fenced in as a corral. In the barns were several horses. I loved to be around horses, and as soon as we got settled in, all 5 of us kids headed for the barns. I fondly remember Mr. Artrup’s sister placing each of us on the gentlest horse she had and walking along, holding the bridle, as we imagined ourselves as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, Johnny Mack Brown, or the Durango Kid. What a great memory!
The nearest highway was several miles away, and I have no idea how far away the closest house was to theirs. I don’t believe I have ever felt the remoteness that I felt that weekend. It was as if we were the only ones on the face of the earth. There were no other homes, nor cars, nor stores, the only thing available for our existence was within the confines of their homestead.
We left there late Sunday afternoon and drove home. All of us kids were sad that the weekend had ended. I told my Mother when we got home what a great time I had and she said, “Maybe you can go again sometime”. Sadly, that never happened. Within a few months, Mr. Artrup had a heart attack in the mines and passed away before my father (his boss) could do anything to help him. Since the homes in the coal camp were for active workers and their families, his family had to move away. I often wonder what happened to their kids (JC, Peggy, Joe, Brenda). Peggy was my 9-year-old brother’s girlfriend. She was bigger than he and was always beatin’ him up. I always smile when I think about them playing together and how she always won their arguments, one way or the other ??.
I go back home every summer, and I always drive up to where that coal camp existed. Every board and nail have been removed, and the landscape has been changed, but I see it all so clearly. I see a 10-year-old boy with no idea what the rest of his life will entail. I want to reach out and tell him about the pitfalls he will encounter in the life ahead, but I know that kid’s only worry is about how many crawdads he would find under the rocks in the nearby stream so he could do some fishin’.

Our trip is over now, so you can go back to whatever you were doing when I invited you along. I hope you enjoyed reading my story as much as I enjoyed remembering it.
Salvador Dali said, “There are some days when I think I’m going to die from an overdose of satisfaction”. I have some days like that, and I’ll bet you do too ??.


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