Saturday, May 27, 2006

Just Stuff I Think About!

Do You ever have one of those days when you want to write, but aren't inspired? I know I should just walk away from the computer, but I am determined to write something today. I marvel at the little insignificant things that people think about or wonder about or remember.

Have you ever wondered how they get the little "m" on M&M's?

What makes the sunsets so many vivid colors? (I know there is a scientific explanation, but I just am content to wonder)

If Jesus actually came from the Holy Lands, why is he always depicted as having white skin?

How many stars are really up there?

Just what made Henry Ford build the first Ford? What was his "driving" force?

Why do legals in the courts of England wear wigs?

Who ever really first tasted brocolli? (Were they nuts, or just really hungry?)

What kind of a mindset does the person have who writes the Hallmark TV commercials?

How many pairs of shoes does a woman really need?

Okay, enough of this nonsense. My lawn needs cutting and groceries need to be bought. I need to get busy. So, reader(s), what do you wonder about?

Monday, May 22, 2006

Facing Death

Since Friday last, one of my best friends has been in a coma, and, quite frankly, at death's door. He has a strange blood infection which his body is having a real battle with. After cat scans, probes, prods and a multitude of other nasty tests, Dr.s have determined that he has strep pneumonia.
This guy is one of my singing buddies. We have sung together for almost 30 years. He is also a confidente and just a good friend. We still have many more songs to sing and praises to raise. So, I ask any and all of you to pray to the God of your choice for "da Hube." Today, maybe, just maybe, he has made a "baby-step" towards improvement. Which proves to me ("oh ye of little faith") that once again, God is good!

Keep fighting, Hube! We love ya!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Confessions of a Home Shopper

I wrote this a few years ago, and was always going to submit it to "Reader's Digest," or even send it to QVC as a spoof with the hope that they would read it on the air sometime. Well, I didn't and I found it tucked in a flap in my dresser caddie. So you all get to read it.

Okay, I admit it. I'm a home shopping TV junkie. Quite by accident I caught the bug while channel surfing. (You must admit, today's TV lineup leaves a lot to be desired, so surfing the channels has become a new sport.) I've tried watching the Home Shopping Network, but is too "high pressure" and that dumb horn they squeak is maddening. QVC, on the other hand, is soft sell. The hosts broadcast from beautiful sets and are so at ease with their products that soon you are convinced that you can't cook another meal without T-Fal cookware, or wash your hair again without Susan Lucci's shampoo. All the time the host is hocking his wares, he's becoming your friend. His eye contact and expressions let you know that this Craftsman tool belt will not only let you get your handiman jobs done more efficiently, it will make you look thinner while doing them.
Celebrities of course add a certain flair to the programming. Though I haven't purchased any of Annette Funicello or Marie Osmond's dolls, it's good to see these gals of my teen years and see that they are aging just like the rest of us. (yeah! right.!) Talk show host, Gary Collins does endorse a terrific line of men's sweaters, and who could resist Charleston Heston's video series of the Holy Lands? I mean it's like God himself offering the tour!
The quality of QVC's products are first rate, and the selection is vast. Why, one afternoon, they even sold breast and fanny enhancers, followed immediately by cresent wrenches and tool boxes! Who does the scheduling, anyway?
I'm on a first-name basis with several hosts. I know that when Bob, Kathy, Judy and Steve are on, I will be entertained as well as enlightened. They schmooze with their unseen audiences and take calls from buyers at home, while imparting vast amounts of knowledge about the products they are selling.
I'm convinced that people weill buy anything! Helen from Rhode Island has every piece of S.G. Sportswear ever made in steel blue and Kay from North Dakota collects cookie jars. She has about 148 of them sitting around, though she keeps many of them in storage in their original boxes!
This is live, all-American entertainment at it's best. Let's see, next is an hour called "for the home." Maybe I'll find the perfect mop, or rug or doorbell or.....

Well, you get the idea. Best rest assured, I don't buy. I just watch. I have noticed, while surfing, (yes, I still do that, much to my wife's chagrin) that some of my faves are gone on to other endeavors, but the hype is still the same. I still stop and watch once in a while, maybe someday I will find the perfect wrench, or maybe not!

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Birthday Thoughts

Yesterday I turned another year older. Ugh! Now at 61, I am starting to have thoughts about retiring. Thanks to Pres. Bush, people of my age group are having to work even longer before drawing Social Security and if he doesn't quit screwing the American people, I won't have any Soc. Sec. after paying into it since I took my first job at age 15.
Don't get me wrong, I am not ready to retire and sit on my duff every day doing nothing. But it would be nice to be able to slow down and enjoy my last years on earth. I can't forsee this in the near future, so best I quit griping and get on with it.
It is a real eye opener to know that I am on the "downward" side of my life. I have never been one to dwell on dying, but I do notice that there are an awful lot of men dying in their 70's. Ugh, again!! That means that I may only have 15 to 20 years left. I find that I look at cemetery plots with a whole different attitude, and my wife and I have finally settled on which cemetery and where we want our plots to be located. Not quite ready to make that purchase yet, though.
At this age, there are some benefits, though. We can eat off the "senior menu" and also get an extra 10% off if we go on Tuesday nights. I get 10% off of coffee at a local "drive thru" any time and we can attend the movies on certain nights at a savings.
My students asked me how old I was on my birthday. I was honest, and told them. Their gut reaction was "boy is that old," but some were gracious enough not to say so. Others just let 'er rip. I took it all good naturedly. One of my coworkers baked me a cake, and others on the second floor stopped in for cake and well wishes. I got to figuring it up and I think I am the oldest staff member in our school. But that's okay. I am still able to keep up with the students, even a step ahead of them. Any maybe some of the younger staff can learn somethings from my experiences.
At home, I like to tell myself that I can still do everything I could do when I was 21. Just not as often, and it takes me longer. All this aside, life is still good!

Today being Mother's Day, I feel like I should be writing a glowing tribute to my mom. Well, I could do that. My mom has been gone for 13 years last week. I miss her every day. She was a good person who taught me a lot of profound stuff. She was what I always refer to as a "quiet Christian" and was always doing for others. My life hasn't been quite the same since her passing. There are so many memories of her to share, that this could become a book. Maybe it's one I will write someday.
There are other mothers in my life now. My wife is the mother of my children. She is the kind of mom that every kid would like to have. As our kids were growing up. all the neighborhood kids wanted to congregate at our house. We had the homemade cookies, and other goodies that other moms didn't make for one reason or another. Our kids, now adults in their 30's, still ask for the homemade stuff, and of course, Mom tries to cook what each one of them like. She is a good listener, and loves with all her heart.
Then there is my mother-in-law. Well, what can I say about her? She is a different sort of an individual. We are NOT close, nor are we on the same "wave length." She is, and always has been, extremely critical of me, my wife(her daughter) and our kids. She masks her criticism in her old line, "I am just trying to be truthful." This is pure B.S. She is just being manipulative and hurtful. She does have her moments, though. She is a wonderful cook, and honestly likes to have us to her house for meals. It's too bad that we try to think up excuses for not going, or for leaving after being there for a short time. It's too bad that her last years have to be spent like this. I share part of the blame for this "distancing" but certainly not all of it.
I have to mention both of my grandmothers in this blog about moms. They were as opposite as night and day. My maternal grandmother was a soft spoken, tiny woman. She was a plain farm wife, and a kindly, Christian woman. I remember he as an excellent cook and as always wearing a hat. My paternal grandmother was young when she had my dad, so was still relatively young when I remember her. She was made of tough stuff, having been a single parent for a long time, when divorce and single parenting was not common. She was a factory worker. She loved "big." None of her grandchildren ever doubted that they were loved. She was generous with gifts and praise. One thing I remember about her was that no matter what she wore, she always wore earrings. Even with her hair in pincurls or "spoolies," she would have on her earrings. My mom always said that when my brother and I stayed with this grandma, if we didn't think of doing it, Grandma did, and helped us do it. What a good time we had!!
On this day to remember moms, I have delved in to the memory bank and come up with some very fond memories. It's been good for the soul.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My list of Dreams

As you all know by now, I love chocolate. This morning, as I ate my Dove dark chocolate “Promise,” my “promise” said to make a list of my dreams. So I thought I would try it.
1. World peace.
2. Stamp our world hunger
3. Have my children care enough to stay relatively close by.

4. More grandchildren
5. Fewer bills, more money
6. That log house on a wooded lot
7. Be thinner and in better physical shape.
8. Less stress, more fun in life
9. Never lose my singing voice
10. Strengthening of my faith in God

I think I could sit here for hours, racking my brain, but these 10 seem to automatically pop into my brain. They must be the most important.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

This is What I Believe...

That beer and Chocolate were made to go together
That there is a reason you have your children when you are young
That Social Security is not the only "fixed" income
That if a state has sales tax, it should abolish property tax
That the Federal Government is corrupt
That most Jr. High schoolers are spawns of satan
That the sacrament of marriage should be honored
That summer is designed for the young
That store managers who claim their stores are handicap accessible should have to ride a wheel chair up and down every aisle.
That there hasn't been a "real" actress since Elizabeth Taylor
That "Dances With Wolves" is worth watching 19 times.
That Tory Spelling is the worst excuse for an actress in the history of film
That no body looks good in Spandex
That Speedo needs to rethink
That Blue Jeans should be considered "dress" clothes
That "breaded, stewed tomatoes" should be erased from every recipe book
That brocolli is a weed and should be treated as such
That one's faith in God is what sustains me
That there is nothing like singing with my friends
That adult children can drive you nuts with worry
That Alaska and Hawaii are not really states
That it's too hot to go to Florida in the summer
That Michigan is an ideal state for summer vacations
That if women wear skirts and sandals to work, men should wear shorts and sandals.
That having gray hair is better than no hair
That naming a child after a dog is dumb
That football is just plain stupid
That the Home Shopping Network is responsible for America's high consumer debt
That grandchildren are wonderful
That our Native Americans really got a raw deal from the "white man"
That Carole King could never write a bad song
That "Designing Women" was great TV
That rap music is not music. It is just noise with a beat
That getting older is better than the alternative
That there are people on the road that shouldn't be
That having family close at hand is reassuring
That improving our nation's educational system should be a government priority

This is what I believe and I'm sticking to it!

Monday, May 01, 2006

Me and my Music

I know, grammatically the title is not correct, but this is my blog, so I can write what and how I feel. By now you readers know that other than my wife and family, music is the most important aspect of my life. I sing. I play the piano (sort of) the guitar (enough to get by) and organ (basic skill only). Singing is what I know and do best. I love to sing. My family would say that I'd rather sing than eat! Often they are right and rightly so. Sometimes my schedule doesn't leave enough time to eat. Tonight is a classic example. By the time I get off work at 6"ish," and race home, don my performance tuxedo, and head out to tonight's performance, I won't have time to eat.
I sing in four different groups. Let me tell you about all of them.
The first one is my church choir. We are about 35-40 strong when everyone, including our "snowbirds" are there. Ages vary from 16 to 87. We have a director whose musical skills are beyond phenominal. She demands quality from us and gets it Sunday after Sunday. It is a pleasure to sing in this group and I have learned so much about singing, blending and breath control since joining. Besides, they are a wonderful group of Christians, and I am glad to call them "family."
Then there is the mens's quartet. We have been singing for four or five years now, but have really gotten "serious" about our sound and performing in the last two. We sing gospel music. And we do it well. When I am singing with those other three guys, I am closer to God than any other time. Our music transports me into God's hands. The others in the group are fine men have each contributed greatly to my Christian walk. They are truly my "brothers in Christ."
My third group is a mixed quartet. We sing contemporary Christian music and have ventured into the secular genre a few times. We have a good sound, and a heck of a lot of fun. We don't perform too often, and try to practice at least twice a month. We are always learning new music and polishing up the songs we already know. Our soprano, a young mom, is the life of the group and some times we laugh more than we sing. It is a time for sharing and caring. There is no doubt that we all care about each other.
Then there is the other group. I have been in this group since its formation eight years ago. We formed for a one-shot performance at a New Year's Eve gala, on short notice. We received rave reviews and have been singing around the community ever since. We sing everything from "big band" to 50's and 60's rock and roll, to Broadway hits. We even throw in a few patriotic and religious numbers. We are at 16 members right and the number varies. I love it, but it takes the most work. We practice every week, and seldom does a month go by that we don't have at least one performance. I know in June we have three performances in one day, in three different locations. Whew!
I have contemplated giving up at least one of these groups. But why should I? My wife has never complained about me being gone, and has alway been by biggest fan. And I love singing, and I also know that at my age, sometime the voice will start to go. When it does, I will give it up willingly, but until then, I will keep on singing. Singing is my life. The rest is all details.
It Was Just One of Those Days

Last Saturday dawned a beautiful day. Cool, but sunny. One of those spring days so full of promise that you don't want to waste a moment of it.
I arose relatively early for me. I had to go to the bank and I also had an appointment to get a haircut.
First stop: The ATM. I pulled up behind the car in front of me, leaving a courtesy space between us and waited. When it was my turn, I pulled up and stuck in my ATM card. Absolutely nothing happened! No prompt to continue, no warning message saying "out of order." NOTHING! I sat there waiting for the machine to give me back my card. I could see it in the slot and was sure it would be coughed back at me any second. I even pressed the "cancel" button: still nothing.
Finally I gave up and drove to the drive-up window. Since when does a reputable banking institution hire immature smart alecks to serve the public? I explained my situation to the young woman at the window. I think she took one look at my gray hair and the somewhat wrinkled skin around my eyes, and thought, "senior citizen." which to someone of her age and IQ would mean "feeble minded."
"Are you sure you put it in the right way?" she asked in a patronizing tone. "Yes," I answered.
"Has your card expired?" was her next question. "No," I replied trying desperately hard to be patient. She smiled that smile of false sympathy, and said that the ATM people only serviced the machine on weekdays, and if I came back on Monday afternoon, and brought my drivers license I could get my card back. So off I went speeding to my haircut. (Note: by now I was running late.)All went well with the haircut, thought I still wonder why, after several years, the gal who cuts my hair, still askes me every time I go, "now, how did we cut this the last time?" To my recollection, "we" didn't cut my hair, she did. How the heck do I know what size 'rake" she used. I thought a rake was used on leaves, and gardens, but after all, I am "feeble minded," so what do I know?
After the haircut, I went home. I told my wife about my ATM disaster. She immediately called the bank to have them stop any charges on my card in case it was found. The bank said my card had been coughed out when the next person tried to use the ATM and that person had turned it in. (Thanks for your honesty, whomever you are.) The bank "hot carded" it anyway and now I would have to apply for a new card. So, back into the car I got, went to the bank, filled out an application for another card, and endured yet another patronization by a teller young enough to be my granddaughter. I am sure that I have underwear and socks older than she is!!!
By this time, I needed to "cool off," so I went to work in my yard. Bear in mind that I have not pulled that first weed or picked up that first fallen limb since spring began, so I raked, pruned and mowed my way back to whatever state-of-mind I deem normal.
After four hours of manual labor, I was exhausted, but a lot happier. I also discovered how horribly out of shape I am. My muscles screamed and my joints were creaking. Now I realize that it's my body that is growing feeble: not my mind. But I am still able to function. Damn the arthritis, full speed ahead. After I hung up my rake, peeled off my gloves, and closed the garage door, I took a nap. All was right with the world once again!