Thursday, May 26, 2016

Ah Yes, Catalogs

Montgomery Ward, Spiegel, J. C. Penny, and Sears and Roebucks, all played a significant and integral part in most older people’s lives. Their arrival of these mail order books at each season of the year was a much anticipated event. It necessitated our daily visits to the mailbox, checking to see if the catalogs had magically appeared yet. Women, boys, and girls were the most affected, wanting to peruse the treasure trove of items that were offered for sale between the covers. When it arrived, we were often mesmerized and enticed by the myriad of colored photos showing the fashionable clothing, the shoes, and of course the toys. Men tended to wait patiently until the hubbub died to search the brochure’s pages for boots, shoes, ties, and hunting supplies.
As kids, we often chose a comfortable spot on the floor looking at bicycles, games, sleds, and other toys. When the newness of items wore off, we boys would look at the women’s undergarments, titillated by seeing tiny portions bare flesh. Another game we created was to look at the catalog by scanning each page. We were forced to select one item from each page, something that we would want from the opened offering. Often it became difficult and we would skip some pages when women’s clothing was the only items from which to choose.
Slowly the newness of the catalog would wear off. It would become worn with its edges tattered from much handling. It would be tossed into some corner until it was finally relegated to the outhouse. Here the preference for the type of pages shifted immensely. When the catalog was new, we became enamored over the glossy photo pages. Beautiful pages that stirred desire in our hearts. They now had a different use and the dull plain pages were the most sought after. The dull paper would soften when balled up then straightened while the glossy made sharp corners that felt uncomfortable when used. Besides, with the shiny paper very little stuck to it and made a clean derriere almost impossible. In the chill of winter, we tried to keep time in the unheated shanty at a minimum.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Wonderful People Wonderful Day

Yesterday, some of the retired employees of Frick Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania gathered for a luncheon at Leo’s Grill. We try to meet two or three times a year to keep in touch with one another, check to see what new is happening, and reminisce. It has been a long time since I have seen this many smiling faces in one place. The song, We Are Family sums up the feeling that we have at our infrequent get togethers. The former employees positions are varied from housekeeping to administration, from dietary to nursing, from switchboard operators to registration, from laboratory and radiology to secretarial duties.
Some are new to our lunches, only being retired less than a year to those who have been retired for ten plus years, with many falling in between the two. It was a time to relax and talk with our “family,” a time to catch up on their lives, and a time to retell “war” stories of the hospital.
We usually do a round robin, each updating all of the others about our escapades, blood families, and what consumes our time. The one thing that seems to be a constant is that most of us are still into the caring things of life. Some volunteer for the veterans and the homeless, some drive for their more elderly friends, some are active in church projects, and others fill in as babysitters for the grandchildren.
It seemed remarkable how quickly we were transported back to the “family” feeling and how much we enjoyed working with each other. In a small hospital, each person helped another to get jobs done and to keep our clients happy. Many remarked how it was the “family” feeling that often kept them moving. I added my response, saying, “If it wasn’t for my co-workers, I don’t know how I would have made it after my wife, Cindy’s death.”
That was the way it was. We shared each others’ births, the deaths, the sad times, and the happy times. There was always that special bond.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Habits Are For Nones

A little play on words saying habits, the attire of the Catholic women in service to God, nuns, and that some habits are not good for some people. I was kept awake until very early this morning, chatting with a newly added lady as a friend on Facebook and at the same time, I was reading and trying to proofread another friend’s manuscript before it goes into print. Neither one is bad in itself, but together, it took me much longer to accomplish the proofread. That is why I was up until after one a.m. This is where the habits kick in.
Three habits raised their heads this morning at six a.m. The first is the ingrained waking early in the morning to get some writing done before I go to my daughter’s house to watch Hannah, my granddaughter. It is the only way to have the time to check my blood sugar, eat, take my medications, share the morning postcard and especially on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday to write the entry for my Blogspot. I opened a weary eye and saw that it was ten minutes before the time to roll out of bed and decided to catch a few more minutes, hovering between slumberland and the waking world.
The second started to pressure me to rise and relieve some pressure in my bladder. I managed to override it for a few more minutes of nap time, but then, the third habit joined the other two. My cell phone announced that my cousin Barbara was starting her day in Florida, by sending a challenge to continue our play of Words with Friends. The game is an electronic version of Scrabble.
So, I am awake but bleary eyed. I know that sometime today my couch will welcome me for a much needed nap.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Ready, Set, Publish

Last evening at the Mount Pleasant Writers Group, we had a surprise speaker, Mrs. Heidi Ruby Miller. She is an adjunct professor at Seton Hill College as well as an author and editor. Fred Adams, also a retired professor and musician invited her to speak to our group. Heidi spoke to us and described her journey into writing and collaborating on books. Each book is a labor of love and dedication to bring it into fruition. She shared that if it is a labor of love and something that is enjoyable, writing becomes less of a labor and more fun.
From the first book on camping in Pennsylvania, to a text book on genre writing, to her passion for writing science fiction of other worlds, she shared the time necessary to create then. She also shared many of the pitfalls of publishing, agents, and having her work accepted.
As a professor, she described students who entered her classes with the expectation of writing a best seller and becoming wealthy. These things do happen to some, but she shares the reality check of the writing profession without dampening their zeal and passion to write. She emphasized the need for good editing and finding a good agent to represent the work to publishing firms. Self publishing is becoming much more acceptable, but it is just as difficult to get a publishing company to choose the works and to market it.
Money isn’t the only thing spent in creating a book or novel, there is the time, creativity, and energy in the writing as well as the time and energy that is spent in marketing that creation.
I am a novice in many of the areas of writing that she shared. Much of her expertise was learned by trial and error. I was glad to have her share that knowledge with the group. Our group meets at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library every first and third Thursday of the month. Heidi was a guest speaker. Dr. Fred Adams is our usual group leader and presents a short educational help at the beginning, then we share things that have been written for critique.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Ever So Slowly

Ever so slowly, my daughters are helping to sort, store, and clear out the accumulated flotsam and jetsam in my house. It has become the storage bin for nearly forty years. It was a nest of books, papers, bills, receipts, checkbooks, toys, and other things that weren’t worn out to be tossed immediately.  What I considered memories will one day become a burden for my kids. Now, I am letting the kids decide what to keep and what to toss. So much accumulated stuff.
Many of the things my wife Cindy and I kept, thinking that one day the items might be something that each child would want to save. I know that my mom kept things that I made for her when in grade school until the paper became too brittle and too ragged to keep.
When close family members passed away, much of their collection of things were divided and those items were incorporated into my accumulated “treasures,” each adding another layer, like the ancient civilizations that built and rebuilt their cities, one on top of the other. Photographs, newspaper clippings, and receipts were passed along for me to sort, a daunting task. I am so thankful that the sorting and tossing decisions are happening now. This house is too large for just one person. I either need to downsize or take in borders to help with the work and upkeep of a four bedroom house.
Ever so slowly, progress is being made. Hopefully, before the cobwebs and dust overcome my feeble attempts to keep after them, I can simplify my way of living.


Monday, May 16, 2016

What’s Wrong

I usually don’t post anything political on my blog. This post kind of skirts the issue. I’m not endorsing any candidate, but commenting on the reasons that Donald Trump has made his way to the forefront of the GOP candidates. It seems that for the past decades, the Republican Party has been pulling the same type of men out of the back room, knocking off the moth balls, and wiping off the dust. The American people are tired of the Republican men and women who say they will do one thing and then when they get in office, they compromise, leaning more and more to the left. They say they will support the Constitution and the rights guaranteed in its amendments, but are easily dissuaded and led astray. Republican leaders are now shaking their heads and wondering how Donald Trump won the hearts of many Americans, or how he has gotten to the head of the pack, when the answer is right before their eyes.
The citizens do not want another one of the “good old boys.” They are much more willing to support the unknown, than to support the same old, same old. They want someone who is not part of the rank and file politicians that promise to stand firm and then collapse and lean more to a Socialist government. They want less bureaucratic red tape, less imposition on their freedoms by the EPA, smaller government, and less of the ransom tactic of do it my way or we will withhold federal funds. The people want a leader that wants a strong military, not bow, apologize and kowtow to foreign leaders. They want a leader that is untried rather than one who has worked his way up through the ranks, wheeling and dealing with the Liberal left. Perhaps, they want to try someone with enough money, not to be persuaded by lobbyists.
Perhaps the GOP needs to take a long look at themselves, get their heads out of the beltway, and listen to the people who helped to get them into office. Perhaps it is time for term limits. New people that are fresh out of the general population and understand the plight of those who they represent. Perhaps it is time to set up a vote of confidence rule for all politicians and have their salaries based on performance. If politics isn’t considered an occupation, the United States could save millions by not having to pay their salaries after retirement. All in all, Trump became a nominee and candidate because the GOP is becoming less responsive to conservative values in the eyes of the people of America.

Friday, May 13, 2016

A newly met friend, Aaron writes music abd poetry. As we talked he said that he likes Haiku. I am pulling these to share for him.

 1. Soft shushing of rain
and gentle rustle of leaves
lull the woods to sleep
2. At the water’s edge...
birds and small animals place
muddy signatures.
3. Silky silver strands
hang in intricate patterns
dainty spider web.
4. The old light house stands
above rugged rocky shore
tooth poking from gums.
5. Crickets fill the night
With thin reedy pipings
A calliope.
6. After the storm passed
the wind just sighed when it saw
the harm it had done.
7. The sapphire river
swept her swirling skirts around
stony bridge pillars.
8. At the creek’s deep spot
the sloping bank of green grass
fills with small boys.
9. A gentle breeze wooed
the dandelion’s bloom ‘til
her youth blew away.
10. Large ochre pumpkins
stand before corn shock palace
wearing frosty crowns.