⌘ I was sitting in my favorite chair in front of my workshop a few days ago, around 5 p.m. after several hours of work, and I was enjoying a good cigar. Just as I finished it, I noticed a boat filled with people tying up at our pier. My first thought was that they were lost and needed directions back to the Poquoson River. That has happened before, so it was a natural reaction. A tall handsome man in his 30s got out of the boat and walked through the backyard to where I was sitting. “Hi Tom!” he exclaimed as he approached, which took me by surprise. He informed me he lived down the street from us, pointing to his home not very far away, and he said that my wife had informed him he could tie his boat to our pier anytime. He further clarified that the reason for his visit was that a married couple in the group was interested in buying our home when we were ready to sell. My wife had informed him about our plans to move to a retirement community when one of their cottages became available. We have been on their list for almost 3 years, though we were 8th in line at the time. We have no idea how long we’re going to wait, so we have spent a moderate amount of time downsizing.
Anyway, four people gathered around me, including the couple who wanted me to know their intentions of buying our home. I invited them to take a tour of our house and they welcomed it gladly. Before she went inside, my wife had informed me she was going to take a shower, so I had to make sure she was dressed before I took them in. She was, so the tour began. As it progressed, I could tell they were having trouble deciding how they would raise the money they would need for the purchase. They live in our 12,000-strong small town, so I hope they’re successful. My wife and I have agreed that we will help them if we can.
When I see young people getting excited, it always lifts my spirits. I think enthusiasm is the one characteristic we lose as we age. When you look into the eyes of younger people, you see the hope and expectations of what the next day will bring. Our grandson (Brandon—yeah, the same one mentioned above) helps us do chores around the house every week, and I see that same thing in him. He always has a cheerful smile on his face and his eyes dance in his head as if he hears special music that we cannot. He turned 26 a few days ago. My wife and I were dating when he was born, so I have known him all of his life and he is like a grandson to me. I proudly call him my “Bonus Grandson.” I got that term from his older brother (Christopher), who included me with his natural grandparents in his college graduation pictures. He had four granddads in that frame, and the photographer asked him how he had so many grandparents. He calmly answered that “these two are bonus grandparents.” That made me feel good. So, I now have bonus sons and bonus grandsons.
Anyway, back to the people on the boat who entered our lives a few days ago, who finally got back aboard and sailed down the river. I could hear the enthusiasm in their voices as they slowly slid out of sight. As my wife and I sat down for supper that evening, we could still hear and feel the laughter and joy they left inside our home. We hope it stays a while.
Benedict De Spinoza said that “the more joy we have, the more nearly perfect we are.” I agree wholeheartedly!
⌘ Our yard has been demanding our attention lately. I sowed new grass in early October and refrained from any maintenance until the seeds had at least a month to germinate and grow to a height of 3 inches. We had multiple storms pass over us during that time, which caused pine straw, tree branches, pinecones, and leaves to pile up. I was nervous as I surveyed the work needed to get the yard back to normal, because it looked like a lot of work. Our grandson (Brandon) usually lends us a hand, but he’s been off to Atlantic City for several days of fun. He absolutely enjoys going up there with his friends and trying to win in the casinos. I suggested to him that if casinos were continuously losing money, they couldn’t stay in business. I could tell from his grin he thinks they haven’t seen the likes of him yet. 😊 My suggestion to him is to make sure he has lots of fun, then he can count his losses as entertainment.
Anyway, back to the yard. Brandon returned home two days ago but has promised to stay away from us for at least a week to ensure that he doesn’t pass COVID on to us.
Bottom line is, our yard couldn’t wait another week for cleaning and mowing, so it was up to me and my wife to get it done. It took us 3 days, but our front and back yard look great, although sadly there are plenty of leaves still floating down to reverse all of our hard work. I hope that by the time they are all down, Brandon will be available to lend us a hand.
But I really shouldn’t complain as I know the exercise involved in that effort is good for us, raising our heart rate and keeping our muscles healthy, which stops me from sitting in front of my PC all day. 😊
As William Feather said so eloquently, “Next to doing a good job yourself, the greatest joy is in having someone else do a first-class job under your direction.” I think Bill’s on to something, eh?
⌘ A few days ago my wife and I were sitting at the breakfast table and the view from our breakfast nook told us that the rain was relentless, and that our activities need to be scheduled indoors. I told her of my plans for the day and her eyes widened and an enormous smile covered her face. “I know what you could do today!” she exclaimed. My reply was too stern: “I don’t need for you to find things for me to do; I never plan your day, and you should not plan mine.” The smile fled her beautiful face as easily as a bullet leaves a gun’s barrel. And I knew straight away that I had expressed myself too harshly. I am right that I don’t want her to schedule my day unless it’s something we’re doing together, or something that needs my attention, but I really didn’t express myself in kind terms and she deserves better from the man, who, until the end of his time here on Earth, vowed to love her.
All I can hope is that it reveals no meanness of spirit lying deep within me, tucked away in an unlocked room in a far corner of my heart.
I was watching an interview with Alex Trebek, the longtime “Jeopardy” host who died recently of pancreatic cancer. When asked how he wanted to be remembered, he softly answered, “that I was a kind man.” He wasn’t interested in being remembered as the famous game show host, only as a kind man. I think that’s how I also want to be remembered as I navigate my way through the “Old Age” labyrinth and face the possibility of death. So all I have to do is find the little “meanness” room tucked away somewhere in my heart, put a solid padlock on it, and throw away the key immediately. “All cruelty springs from weakness.” — Lucius Seneca. There’s more truth in that quote than I want to accept. Being a good husband doesn’t change who I am, it reveals who I am. I need a moral compass that doesn’t always land on me. An old Russian proverb says that “the wolf must pay for the sheep’s tears.” I know that means I am responsible for my words and actions. It’s up to me to find a solution to my dilemma!
Grandparents – Relics From The Past
⚽ I read recently that grandchildren see grandparents as a relic from the past. I certainly hope that is not true. Being a grandparent with great-grandchildren, I was surely taken aback by that statement. I have what I consider a healthy relationship with my grandchildren, and they have never given me the impression that I am a “relic from the past”. Just the opposite, they have always conveyed to me the feeling that I am a relevant part of their lives and they love me very much. As all grandparents know, watching grandchildren mature into adulthood brings a lot of satisfaction and deep affection. I never recall conveying to my grandparent that they were not a vital part of my life, just the opposite, I tried always to let them know they played a vital role in the adult I had become and that I always looked to them for guidance in how I reacted to the ups and downs life placed in my path. The most important thing they taught me was that religion should be firmly entrenched in my core values and should be a guiding light on how I treated the people I encountered during my travels on this wonderful planet. I closely watched how my grandfather Hale handled life’s many obstacles and was always impressed by his calm demeanor and trust in God to help him thru difficult situations. I never recall thinking of him as “old”, but wise. He and grandma had six children, two of which are still alive (ages 96 & 91), and 17 grandchildren. Each of us went to him when we had a problem that needed solving. When he passed away in the early 1970s, each of us knew we had lost a major player in our life. Nope, I don’t believe grandparents are relics. I am more inclined to believe English Poet, Charles Lamb, “Here cometh April again and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever”😊.
⚽ I’ve been thinking about going a week without making any negative comments. Now, I know that will be a difficult thing for me to do, but I think it’s important to try. I have never thought of myself as a negative person, but I’m beginning to have self-doubts. What brought this on was a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were having a disagreement and she said to me, “Sometimes you make me feel stupid”. My heart stopped for a moment, as if I’d dropped a piece of her fine china. Was I really that type of person, one that could make the most important person in my life feel that way? Did I make other people feel the same way? Do I value my opinion more than someone else’s?
I’ve given this a lot of thought since that happened, and I believe I need to try to be a better person, to listen more attentively, and be more appreciative of the needs of others. I have concluded that I need to be a treasure trove of happy feelings, focusing on being energetic and always remember; do good, feel good. I believe that people that reminisce have happy feelings, so I’m gonna try to do that more often. I’m hoping that by being happier I’ll be less inclined to be critical. As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”. I can ride that horse 😊.
⚽ There is a theory floating around that what you enjoyed doing when you were 10 years old is something you would enjoy doing today. I don’t think so! As a 10-year-old I was pushing a bike rim with a stick as fast as I could, pretending I was racing someone. I also played dodge ball, Pick-Up-Sticks, Jax Rocks, Chinese Checkers, and various other games for days on end, but I haven’t revisited those games in more than 60 years. About the only thing I can think of that carried forward into adulthood, and is still with me today, is the enjoyment I get from human contact. Even as a young lad I enjoyed the company of others, often preferring that to being alone. Today, as a retired person, I spend a lot of time with just me and my lovely wife. But I kinda suspect that’s what happens when you get old. We do visit family and friends often, but most of the time we are here at home alone, doing chores and taking walks. Since early March we have practiced the social distancing recommended by the CDC because of the COVID-19. It looks as though this will continue for quite a while. We were totally unprepared for this pandemic and that is very disturbing. Our hope now is that scientists will develop a vaccine and a drug to treat those that already have it. I fault our leaders for their lack of foresight and believe history will judge them harshly. I suspect that we will come out of this situation with 90% of our normal life restored. How could it ever get back to normal after something like this? Even though I worry a lot about our current situation with the coronavirus, I am more worried about something, if it does occur, will be more worrisome. That concern is about climate change and the lack of our concern about it. You see, when we get to a certain point in the pollution of our air and water, we no longer have the option of correcting it.
How can we, as logical human beings, convince ourselves that we can take a trillion barrels of oil, vaporize it into our atmosphere, and expect that it will do little damage to our existence?
In February 1985, I was sitting at my desk at the office, the phone rang, and it was my ex-wife, yelling that the house was filled with smoke. She had started a fire in the fireplace and failed to open the draft, so the smoke couldn’t escape up the chimney and spilled out into our home. I jumped in the car and sped home to correct the situation, opened the doors and windows, and turned on the overhead fan. Within 45 minutes, the smoke was gone and life got back to normal.
The point is, when our world is filled with a carbon induced haze and a vent that will allow it to be removed cannot be found, it will be too late to do anything constructive to resolve the problem. We should not lose our focus on this approaching disaster. Some people in our government tend to ignore the data and believe there is no such thing as “Global Warming”. Here is the definition of Climate Change:
Climate change occurs when changes in Earth’s climate system results in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time. This length of time can be as short as a few decades and as long as millions of years. Scientists have identified many episodes of climate change during Earth’s geological history and more recently, since the industrial revolution, the climate has increasingly been affected by human activities and driving global warming. The terms are commonly used interchangeably.
Ok, time to get off the soap box and wrap this up. Right now, there are approximately 8 billion humans on earth and by 2050 there will be 10 billion of us. At some point in human existence a decision will be made to limit the pollution of our environment and hope things get better. Wanna bet what they will think of our spendthrift ways?
The Dalai Lama said, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room”
We can all make a difference!
Baby Names (WoW#56)
⚽ I read recently that the top newborn baby names from 2010 to 2018 were Noah and Emma and in general children are more likely to be given fewer common names today than in the past. The top names came from a total of 18 million male births and 17 million female births. That surprised me because we have been told for years that more females were born each year than males. As a matter of fact, in 2017 there were 166 million women in the United States compared to 159 million men, and the projection is that it will continue to widen. That reminds me of a cruise my wife and I were on several years ago. We had disembarked on one of the islands in the Caribbean and were on a tour bus. The lady from that island was giving the tour and informed us that she had two young boys and that on that island there were 13 females for every male. I remember thinking that was a young man’s paradise, how nice it must be to be the only game in town. Of course, for the female population, the choice of a mate becomes extremely difficult because he doesn’t have to earn her love and respect. We know from experience, when men are left to their own devices, they are not prone to the best of conduct. I suspect there is just too much testosterone flowing thru our body. An area that suffers for us men is our social skills. We tend to be loud and boisterous with a tendency to brag about our accomplishments. Mingle in a few women and we become more civilized. Thomas K. (“Stonewall”) Jackson, the famous Confederate Civil General, had these rules for conversation: Be at peace in your speech, speak respectfully of others, try to be no more wise than the people you are speaking to, never be hurtful, nor deceitful, avoid bragging by saying as little about yourself as possible, and always speak late (refrain from dominating the conversation). Now, that’s seven simple rules of conversation that make a lot of sense and would, perhaps, make us a little humbler. For anyone interested in the Civil War, I just finished “Rebel Yell” by S. C. Gwynne, about Stonewall Jackson during that great struggle. I gave it 5 stars. I use that high rating sparingly.
⚽ I have three granddaughters, all living far away, and I don’t get to see them very often. So, in April 2019, I started sending them a text on Sunday mornings asking them to,” Tell me something I don’t know (TMSIDK)” about themselves. Within that message to them, I tell them something about myself they don’t know. All three eagerly accepted my challenge, and each week when they respond, I copy their answers and put it in my journal under their names. Two of my granddaughters are in their mid-thirties and the other one is in her mid-twenties. I have been pleasantly surprised at some of their answers, and I’m sure they were surprised at some of mine. Last week in my TMSIDK (tell me something I don’t know) to them, I said I was 19 years old when their dad was born. One of them replied, “Goodness, that was young!” Playfully, I wrote her back, “Too young, but not uncommon in the mountains of Virginia. Of course, without that happening, I know of three wonderful girls that wouldn’t be roaming this wonderful planet” (she and her two sisters). I’m confident that brought a smile to her face.
This simple little act each Sunday morning allows me to maintain contact with three of the most important people in my life, even though distance limits our physical presence. I know these three girls love me unconditionally, just as I love them in the same way. This also allows them to know a little more about their grandfather. My grandparents never kept in touch after I left home in 1959, but I wish they had. I always visited them when I went home each year, but they never initiated contact. If I could roll that ball back up the lane, I would make sure that changed. Rosa Parks said, “Memories of our lives, of our works and deeds will continue in others.” I believe this is true.
⚽ There are 7 people on my cellphone plan with Verizon, and recently I noticed a $5 monthly charge on two of those phones that I had not seen before. So, I signed onto their website and clicked on “Chat” and a lady came on and I explained the problem. Twenty minutes later, thru some other adjustment, I knocked $54 off my monthly bill. That made me a happy camper! She then informed me that they have a new router that will increase my internet speed by 65% and my Wifi by 63%. Nothing left to do but order that jewel! Within 2 days, it was sitting on my porch ($318) begging for installation. I chose to buy it verses rent at $20/month for the rest of my life. Anyway, I got it installed and checked my internet speed and was very surprised. The average internet speed in the USA is 25 mbps (megabits per second) and mine was 928. I was getting very close to jumping out of my chair and dancing a little jig, but there was a disappointing downside to my cheerfulness. A lot of my Wifi gadgets needed the slower speed (2.4 GHz) to connect to the internet, meaning my security cameras wouldn’t work, neither would the smart plugs I used to control lights within our home. When I walk into my computer room and tell Amazon’s Alexa to “Turn on Tommy’s lamps”, all my lights come on and the radio starts playing my favorite station on XMRadio. Now that doesn’t happen because my router is too fast. You would’ve thought my best friend died. I was saddened when I realized I would have to turn those things on manually. I guess it’s sorta like getting in your car and having to manually crank your windows up and down. I was completely unaware that my life had become so easy and me so spoiled.
Anyway, I got back on the phone with Verizon to try to solve my problem and, as it turns out, they can help me fix it. I’m waiting on a new router as I write this missive that should get me back to my old spoiled self and allow me to also keep my Richard Petty internet speed.
Update: I received my new router and installed it as directed, but the same problems persisted. I eventually resolved the problem myself, and now everything works as intended. I felt awesome because three of their “experts” were unable to resolve the problem and the “Old Guy” did. Life still gives me pleasures!
An old Proverb says, “Everyone is wise until he speaks”. Regrettably, that applies to me.
Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me. I know you will return their love abundantly. That is my intent as well. I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives. Until next time, be well…. Tommy.