Monday, September 3, 2018


This is a fun list, I’m told!  I stole it from two of my favorite fellow bloggers, Jon of Lone Wolf Concerto ( and Ron of Retired in Delaware  (

  1. Five fears:
Inability to communicate 
Needles (though I had many in recent years and should be used to them)
Senility or Alzheimers
Harm to my family
Being arrested 

2. Three things I love
Wife and children
I’ll cheat here and also list walking.

3. Four turn ons
If we are talking sex I am not going to say.
Hiking in nature
Movies that make you think

4. Four turns off
Cruelity to animals
People who won’t allow differing opinions
Aggressive drivers

5. My best friend
I’ve had a number of best friends throughout my life. 

6. My favorite book
Wow! I have been a voracious reader since I learned how. It would be impossible to name any one book as my favorite.

7. My best first date
Probably the one with the girl I married. There was nothing spectacular about what we did, which was go to a drive-in movie then to a diner for something to eat. We then went back to her house and sat in the kitchen talking until 6:00 in the morning. But there was just something magical about it.

8. How tall am I?
6 foot even.

9. What do I miss?
Hiking in the rougher state parks. ALS has taken that away from me. I miss a lot of things I once could do easily that I cannot any longer.

10. What time were (were?) I born
Sometime in the wee hours of the morning in late June a long time pass.

11. Favorite color
Green, always has been.

12. Do I have a crush?
Not presently

13. Favorite Quote
“You’re a kind man talking to a stubborn man.” From “The Straight Story”.

14. Favorite place
No place like home, until I get to Heaven.

15. Favorite food
Hmm, I like pot roast, burnt hot dogs, chip beef gravy, banana splits and many other things

16. Do I use sarcasm?
Who me? Sarcasm?

17. What am I listening to right now?
Hum of an air conditioner; otherwise, the sound of silence.

18. First thing I notice in a new person
If they have kindness in their eyes

19 Eye color
Blue, like pure pools of water in the morning sun.

20. Hair color

Well, when I had hair, it was once dark brown, almost black. What is left me is pretty close to white now.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Maybe Over the Line, But at Least They Didn't Shoot Me.

Don't know what got into me Sunday. I'm not much of a confrontational guy, but something about this just irked me.

I went to the Philly Pretzel Factory and this big SUV was parked this way at the Dunkin' Donuts.  The front end was into the handicap parking spot, the back end was out in the driveway of the parking lot and the middle was across the crosswalk lined for no parking.

I just wondered at the self-centeredness of this person. I wobbled over and it didn't have a handicap license plate and there was no handicap placard on display.

So I decided to snap some pictures.  No placard inside the windshield anywhere. There was a maintence man there empting the trash cans. he was smiling at me and nodding his head in agreement.

I was really curious about the owner.

Then out he came from I guess Dunkin' Donuts. He was a maybe thirty-something, looked pretty fit and well-built. Another guy followed behind him.

The first guy began shouting to me, asking if I wanted to buy the vehicle, said it was for sale.

After a bit of shouting at me, the other guy suddenly held up a placard and the first guy said, "Why don't you take a photo of that?"

I should have, but didn't react quick enough.

I told him it wasn't visibly displayed on the car as it should be. Then I asked what his handicap was, "an inability to park properly?"

The placard being held up meant nothing, since it wasn't on the car. They both looked pretty hale and hardy. Maybe someone in the family is handicapped, but you aren't supposed to use the placard unless they are along.

I probably wouldn't even have taken notice if the car had been parked within the parking space lines. This, though, was pretty blatant.

I desiged the tag number, one of those black plates you pay extra for, but it had no wheelchair icon on it.

I hobbled back to my car and left them flapping their gums to the wind. Like I said, I don't normally do this kind of thing, so maybe I was wrong. I could have been beaten up, but somehow this one just got to me. There lucky I wasn't a cop or they would have gotten a nice hefty ticket.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Selling the Hoard Ain't Easy

Once upon a time there was guy who couldn't let go of a book. He had gathered a personal library of over 5,000 volumes.

That's a lot of books.

There had been more, but several hundred had been ruined by a leaking drain pipe in the kitchen.

And I want you to know, I had actually read nearly all those tomes, too. But boy, they really lined our basement rec room.

I don't have any photos showing the whole extent of my book hoard. The shelves line all the walls and even went across the center of the room.

I also had a couple units holding 331/3 record albums. I only had over 1,000 of these.

The number of books and records grew every year. They had long ago, when there wasn't even half as many, become a burden every time we moved.

You needed a truck just for the books.

I never wanted to have to load up all those books if we ever moved again. So a few years ago I decided to get rid of  a lot of them.  This was not easy for me. If you have ever seen the show, "Hoarders" and how those people cling to their stuff, you'll know how I was about my books. Dumping my books was like dumping my friends. But I went through them and began the sort. Some books were too damaged. I mean, I still had paperbacks from when I was a kid. I had paperbacks with the price on the cover and the price was 15 cents. Some of these books didn't belong in a library; they belonged in a museum. And yes, some were in such poor condition they belonged in the dump. This is where some were sent, as difficult as it was for me to toss them in the trash receptacle, even with the pages falling from the binding as I picked them up.

Other books were just too outdated. I had quite a number of computer manuals and texts, which were no longer reverent. These too went into the trash. There were also a few hundred books I determined to keep. The rest I planned to dnate to the library.

I tried the Claymont Library first, but they turned me down. I was told they were moving to a new building in the near future, so weren't taking any books donations at the moment. I tried other libraries, but they had scheduled days for accepting books and linitations on how many one could donate at a time. It was not a large number and I calculated it would take many moons to unlad my stock. I didn't feel like make all that many runs to the library with books.

Finally, I was able to give them in only a couple trips, to the then new Brandywine Library.

I moved a few of the best bookcases from the basement upstairs into our office. We also had two bookcases in the living room, but they were mostly filled with Lois' reading matter. (We have since removed the two living room cases and books. Lois is not as possesive about books as I. )  Usually these last few years when you have ssen photos of me at my desk my remaining books have been the background.

What were on these shelves? Well, on top were a ceramic Last Supper my mother made, a little coffin containing the ashes of our dog, Tucker, a Globe, framed photos of my kids at their high school graduation and two folded flags. One flag was on my Uncle Ben's coffin and the other flag was on my father's.

The mostly white binders on three rows of the one unit are the books I have written. The other shelves contain my Bibles and Christian books, collections of certain authors: Faulkner, Hemingway, Updike, Steinbeck, Lovecraft, Poe, Beaumont, Capote, Malamud, Baldwin, King and then a variety of those books I especially liked.


I looked at those shelves and realized there was no way I would reread those in my remaining life. It was not logical hanging on to them. Why? Just to point them out to people to feed my ego? I should have keep the whole 5,000 if that was the reason. I decided I needed to cull further. As I say, having a fatal disease is liberating.

I did not succeed in completely emptying my library. There were I number of books I hadn't read or read completely and I choose to keep those. I also kept my Bibles and certainly those white binders of my own scribblings. That still eliminated a lot of volumes; so what to do with them?

Some were messed up and these I could chuck, but I hate throwing away books. It is akin to burning
Them in my mind. Once more I mounted my white horse and galloped about trying to give them away and once more I was rebuffed. Laurel, daughter #1, said there was a place called 2nd & Charles in Stanton where Borders once was. This was located near where she used to work at the SPCA before that woman who really ought to be in jail ruined the shelter. Laurel said the place bought used books.

I had a number of empty plastic bins downstairs. I loaded these up with my books. I could only put so many to a bin or I wouldn't be able to lift the thing. I am unbelievably weak these days. I struggled mightily to drag and carry these out to my car and load it us. Finally, on the brink of exhaustion I drove off to sell my wares.

No problem getting there because I use to work at Christiana Mall some years ago and had been pass this little mall many times. I wondered where to park when I got there. In the lot to the front? Perhaps they had a delivery door ff to the side or back, so I went around the corner and there I saw a ramp up to a door that looked like a delivery type. I parked there, grabbed my walking stick and hobbled around to the front to enter.

I looked about and finally went to a check out counter and asked how to find the person who bought used books. The young lady very nicely directed me across the way to another counter behind which a lady was busy doing something. It kind of looked like the inner workings of a post office. I went over and this woman stopped her puttering and came over. When I told her I had some books to sell out in my car she asked if I needed a flatbed to bring them in. I said it was difficult for me to unload and bring anything in.

"Ah," she said. "Let me get someone."

She went through a door, came back and said a fellow would be with me as soon as he finished something he was doing.  I didn't wait look when a young man with a long beard came out to me. (Keep in mind, at my age everyone else is usually a young man or woman. He was probably in his thirties.)

A grasped a cart, like a grocery cart, and asked if my car was parked out front. I told him no, I had pulled around to the side. "Oh, bad spot," he said. He didn't say it angrily or anything. Everyone I dealt with at 2nd & Charles was extremely nice.

At my car he ruffled through my plastic bins. "Even though we sell used books," he said, "our customers want them in good shape, not perfect, but with no torn or ripped dust covers, stains, etc."
He also explained they would take anything if they had a number of the books in stick. "Stephen King," he said, of whom I had several, we can't use. We have many Stephen King books in stick. Unless it is The Dark Tower. We could use some of those."

Alas, I had no Dark Tower series volumes with me.

He plucked out a couple dozen books and dropped them in the cart. We headed back inside. He went with the cart of books behind the counter. He came to a register and said to me, "We need to open an account." We did so and he said it would take about a half hour, was I going to wait in the store. I said I was. He went off with my books and I wandered into a very impressive store.

In the once upon a time days I would have been delighted to browse about the racks, but I was wearing down, getting fatigued and by luck I spied one chair down an aisle. I sat down and waited until another young guy came up and told me my order was done. How he knew me, I do not know.

At the counter I was told they only took a few of my books. I would get $1.95 in cash or I could have a store credit of three dollars and some change. I took the cash.

The bearded fellow helped roll my rejected books back to my car and I headed home. It was easy coming don, but no so much going home. I went up Route 13. It use to be easy to get on I-495 going this way, but they have been working down t that intersection forever and I can never find my way anymore. They had detour signs posted, so I followed them.

I followed the signs and suddenly they disappeared leaving in a community I did not know. I had no idea where I was other than the edge of Wilmington. I turned this way and that, but no familiar streets appear nor were there any signs pointing me toward home.  Next thing I knew I was in New Castle and headed south instead of north.

I managed to do a U-turn and eventually I stumbled out of nowhere onto a street I knew and got home. I must have spent an hour getting home on what should have been a 15-minute journey. By now I calculated the $1.95 I got for my books wouldn't even pay for the gas I used on my sale's run.

The last thing the bearded guy said to me when I left was, "In a couple weeks or a month, come back with the books in better shape and maybe we could take some by then."

I am not going back. It isn't worth the hastle of the roads.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Tribute to Lois Wilson, Whom my Wife was Named For

This is a little oddity, I guess. My wife was named after her father's favorite actress, one Lois Wilson. Now, it is interesting the coincidences here. Wilson was my grandmother's maiden name.

The face on the right is my mother, just because.

Even more of a coincidence is when my wife married me she got the name of another movie actress contemporary with Lois Wilson. This one's name is Lois Meredith.

Small world.

Here is Lois Meredith, the actress's photo:

And, of course, Lois Meredith, the wife.

Monday, August 14, 2017


The Little Woman said, "Let's take a little trip. I'm tired of sitting around the house. It doesn't have to be far. Maybe somewhere we could take a walk."

So I thought about where we could go. "How about up to Hopewell Lake?" I said.

This seemed a reasonable place to go. It was up in Pennsylvania not far from where I had lived as a lad. My family used to go swimming in the lake. The Little Woman and I had gone there a couple years back and walked all about the park. It had been a beautiful fall day and the trees were changing to autumn colors.

Let's see, that was...2004?  (Hopewell Lake in the fall of 2004 is on the right.)

Really? That long ago and back when we both could walk well. Neither of us d so well on our legs this 13 years later. I got to thinking about it. Maybe it wasn't such a great destination after all.

Ah, what we could do was drive up to Route 23, go by the entry road to Hopewell and continue west toward Lancaster County. Yes, yes, yes, a nice leisurely drive with a stop at the Old Village Store in Bird-in-Hand or maybe Kitchen Kettle Village, which lies abut halfway between Bird-in-Hand and Blue Ball at Intercourse. Let's pause to get all the sniggering over with here.

I figured these were better choices than Hopewell Lake because they would be both easier walking having flat paved pathways. The car would be parked nearby in case we had worn out our legs enough and had to escape.

We'd been to both before more than once. On the left is The Little Woman walking through Kitchen Kettle Village in 1995. She is in the center walking away from the camera and wearing blue shorts and a light red top. On the right is her walking out of the Old Village Store, toward the camera,  in  1975.

Yeah, these places, like us, have been around for a long time.

We had our plan of action. I'd go up the Pottstown Pike (Route 100) to where Route 23 crosses, just down Bucktown hill from my parent's former house. Then we would take a leisurely ride west on 23, just like the old days.

My family made many a trek up to Dutch Country.  Back in the '40s and '50s when I was a boy it was a common pastime, usually on a Sunday afternoon. "Wanna take a ride," my grandfather would ask and we were off. It really was peace and quite. Wasn't much there except Amish farms, many growing tobacco. Tobacco barns dotted the landscape beside the roads, little barns with slats running down the sides that opened out to the air for curing the leaves hanging inside.
Back then a lot of the barns were painted red with Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco ads covering a side. My grandfather chawed tobacco and carried a bag in the glove compartment, but it was Red Man, not Mail Pouch.

The only possible traffic slow ups on those country road happened if you caught up to an Amish buggy clopping along. There were quite a number of these at that time, little black boxes on wheels pulled along with one horse. That is if it were driven by a married fellow or a family. If the obstacle ahead was o[en then the driver was a single guy driving his courting buggy. Anyway, you took the drive to relax and gaze at the unique lifestyle around you.

Even as we continued such trips with our own children, right back to the days they called the Silos "Cow Feeders" and hubcap "wheel hats". With the exception of the Lincoln Highway, Route 30, which was beginning to get a bit crowded, the other roads were pretty open except for the occasional buggy; but the bugged were growing less prevalent.

Yeah, some where between the years I was a boy and those when my son was a boy the investors moved in. I don't know the exact moment these Amish were discovered and became a tourist trap to make someone else money. Perhaps it began when the musical "Plain & Fancy" appeared on Broadway in 1955 and 1956. At any rate, more and more attractions popped up with a Amish theme and then a few theaters and in 1963 came Dutch Wonderland. The simple life of the Amish faded further into the background as Lancaster County became more a national vacation spot.

Don't get held up as much now by those slow moving buggies with the red triangles on the back. There aren't as many of them since a lot of Amish moved away, tired of the tourist gawking at them and the clutter and exploitation. But that is what we do as people. We look for paradise and then we destroy it.

Even so, Route 23 had remained a nice country scenic road until a few years ago. I hadn't realized the clopping along. There were quite a number of these at that time, little black boxes on wheels pulled along with one horse. That is if it were driven by a married fellow or a family. If the obstacle ahead was o[en then the driver was a single guy driving his courting buggy.

Anyway, you took the drive to relax and gaze at the unique lifestyle around you. change when I took us up that way. Of course, one big mistake on my part was I forgot Bird-in-Hand and Intercourse were not on Route 23. They were on Route 340. Our little dream jaunt turned to nightmare. Traffic on 23 was heavier than I had ever seen in the past and the further we went the heavier it got. It was stop and go in places, slower than molasses in a shoo fly pie (Oh, yum, love that stuff!).

And the day was hot, pushing 90. We gotten several miles up and my air conditioning fell down on the job. The Little Woman is very sensitive to heat and she was growing more miserable by the mile. Meanwhile I am taking note of the distance we had come, especially after we passed through Leola and a signpost read Lancaster 2 miles.  Hey, man, I didn't want to drive in Lancaster direct. We should have hit Bird-in-Hand long ago. Now we were around Leacock and Bareville (yeah, here we go with those suggestive names again).

I pulled into a parking lot and we fished out an old Pennsylvania Road Map. When  say old, come on, it
was a paper, folding map, making it practically an antique. The Little Woman didn't have her reading glasses with her, so it was up to my less than perfect bifocals to find the way. I figured by now it was go south, young man, go south and we should somewhere cross 340. I ran along the map line. Ah ha, there Route 896 was headed the right way. It came down on an angle from the North and bisected 23 in or about Leola. I remembered seeing a big old sign coming up saying 896, but we didn't want it then.

We wanted it now, but it obviously didn't want us. I drove through Leola and no 896. I was through Bareville and Groffdale and New Holland, but n 896. "Where are you hiding, my elusive friend or fiend?"

"That's it," I told the Little Woman, " we hit Blue Ball and I'm heading south on 322. At least that will take us to Downingtown."

Still heavy traffic, in case you forgot that annoyance and still no A/C.

Route 322 did indeed take us to Downingtown and all the way through West Chester. We never did cross 340, but we did cross good old 896 now that we needed it no more. Out of West Chester and onto Rote 202, heading home, but first...heavy traffic.

Route 202 is almost always congested in this area, but this was ridiculous. It was almost a stand still.
We just weren't moving. Naturally, road work ahead, one lane was closed and everybody had to squeeze over.  We're poking along like a snail with a sore foot. I click on the A/C just for the heck of it. It actually is putting out cool breezes again. We survive to relaxing pleasure trip...HA!

And s we roll into our drive at home I think, What will it be lie in ten years? No one will be able to get anywhere. The roads will be in permeant standstill. It'll be the end of the road. Te world will end in gridlock.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Mark 2002-2017

A little over 15 years ago, my daughter, Noelle, walked in the front door carrying a small bundle. It was this tiny orange & white cat. It had been found walking along the road in front of St. Mark's High School. Noelle named the little guy, Mark.

As she entered she said, "Don't worry. He is only an overnight guest. I will take him to the shelter tomorrow. (At that time Noelle worked for the Delaware Humane Association.)

I was lying on the floor, my head and shoulders propped up against the sofa while I watched TV. Noelle set the kinnen down and it immediately waddled across the living room, climbed up upon my chest and snuggled it's head beneath my chin.

"I think somebody is staying," Noelle said.

Indeed he was. From that day forward he was my cat. We had several cats, but he was mine. He would
often be in that position, lying on my chestwith his head tucked beneath my chin, and he would rub it back and forth, which meant I belonged to him.

I loved that cat.

Tonight a little past 8:00 he died.

He had begun the passage earlier this week, until he was very thin and very week. I though yesterday would be the day because he just lay about. I took him to his food dish, but he crawled away.

Then halfway through the day he was up. He trotted about, he ate and he drank. It is the final rally, really. Today he couldn't get up. He tried, but would just fall down again. He wouldn't eat or drink anything. It was a long day...waiting for that last breath that will take away his suffering and leave me feeling so empty.

It has been a tough week. Last week Laurel's cat Romeo died. She was working that night, cat sitting, and not home when Romeo passed. He had lay on a trunk all day, but that night he got down and halfway into the hall, collapsed and was gone. I think he was trying to get to Laurel, heading for her room.

I was here next to Mark when he went. I believe he was in a coma by then. I am so sad right now. I will
miss this guy so much. He had allergies and this last week was hard, so I am glad his sufferings have ended.

They say all dogs go to Heaven. I think cats do, too. I loved you Mark, may you rest in peace.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Romeo, Romeo and Return of the Mosquitoes

This is a sad way to begin a post. My daughter's cat Romeo died last night around 11:00. My wife was with him so he didn't pass alone. My daughter was cat sitting last night. It is a pity she couldn't have been with him at the end. Romeo loved her so.

Romeo came into the SPCA shelter two years ago. At the time my daughter worked there and she took a special interest in this cat. He was very different looking than most other cats. He had large, long paws and a regal head. His head reminded me of those you see on Acient Egyptian pyramids. He seemed a royal feline.

Bt he came to the shelter with a problem. He couldn't eat. He needed an operation on his mouth and
teeth, a costly one for which there were no funds. There wasn't much choice. He was scheduled to be euthanized. But some, including my daughter didn't want to see that happen. They set up a FundMe account and they did raise the money and get Romeo his operation. After saving him from the executioner, my daughter adopted him.

He was a sweet cat and very loyal to her. I never saw a cat act so dog like. He looked for her to come home and then he followed her everywhere, walking s few feet behind. He loved her and she loved him. He was an old cat and I guess his nine lives had all been used up. This is always the hardest part of beinga pet owner.

Rest in cat heaven, Romeo

Romeo's passing is part of the mosquitoes' return. What are these? Several years back I wrote of a number of bunched together problems I had. I called them 'Mosquitoes' for those bugs that come in swarms, small, tiny things, but very irritating and annoying.

Within just this week we have been bitten by a swarm of such mosquitoes. The vacuum sweeper appears to have died. It makes a clicking sound. I'd say this sucks, except there is the problem, it doesn't. The left rear brake light on our car apparently has burnt out. See small matter, not too costing for a bulb. I know how to change it, not real difficult on a Honda, except now I have this ALS and my hands don't work so well. As another heat wave begins, the window air conditioner in our bedroom began spewing water. Maybe an easy fix, maybe not, but I can no longer lift these little units. A friend is coming tonight to look at it. As I checked the side of the house and reentered yesterday, my left glasses lens fell out of the frame. The little screw that holds it in place is missing. And then Romeo dies.


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Trapped by Technology

The last year and a half has not dealt kindly with the Little Woman and me. (if she's the Little woman, then I must be the Big Oaf.)  We's kind of broke. We could do a sad wail and moan called, "Medical Bill Blues", but maybe another time. This time we're going to play a weeping harmonica number about how technology has got us, and probably you too.

Since our finances have moved else where, mostly South,  we had to do the empty wallet shuffle, meaning we had to look for ways to downsize our life, make some small sacrices and maybe eventually stop robbing Peter to pay Paul, if you know what I mean. I'm sure a lot of you have been there.

So where is a good place to start with as little pain as possible. How about that thing called Cable? Well, we have Fios, so that little thing called Fiber Optics. I don't really know what the difference is between the two, but Fios says, " Fios isn't cable. We're wired differently." What does that mean? Maybe they twist the wires left instead of right or something.

Doesn't matter, when it comes to the old bait and switch they and Comcast are the same. They lure the unsuspecting mouse or should I say mouse-pushers in with a nice little pitch. Bundle up with us with your TV, Internet and Phone and get this cozy little price a month for the next two years. Of course, it requires a contract and if you don't like it after a few months just try to get out of it. Hefty little divorse settlemet comes with that contract. An after two years that cozy little bundle begins nibbling away at your wallet.

I don't know what Dish and Direct TV do; Probably much the same.

Now service-wise and all, I have no complaints with Fios. Over the six years I have been the fish at the end of their fibre-optic line things have been fine. The've been all around better than Comcast was. Yes, I had Comcast for about a decade before Fios, and I switch because there were problem and poor customer service. But leaving Comcast gave me the same run around I just went through with Fios, except I have stayed with Verizon's money-maker.

When we signed up original with Fios we were flush. I ws still working somewhere, still bringing in the dough, and more importantly still healthy. Doctors were yet holding me up by my heels and shaking out my wallet and loose change. We had some bundle called, "Extreme". Not sure what was so extreme except the price. It had an awful lot we didn't use, at least on the TV.

Golly, a million channels and hardly anything we wanted to watch. Didn't need all those sports channels. Didn't need the 30,000 music channels, especially all the Latin rthymns. Most of the other stuff has become dreck. When cable...oops, fibre optic, TV began with it's five hundred channels to choose, the claim was all the choices you would have and all the variety and creativity that would now be available.  And this was true once upon a time. Bravo use to put on shows and concerns, MTV played music videos, and dozen of other things. But all those new independent specially channels as they got successful also got bought out by a few and now it seems a mere handful control everything and everything is starting to look the same and the variety and creativity have taken a bus into obscurity.

So I says to myself, "Myself, if you can cut out some of the things you don't watch, maybe you can get it cheaper?"


First I tried dropping the land line, no phone in the bundle. One less thing to provide should be cheaper to them, thus cheaper to me. Except when I said I wanted to drop the phone they said, "No, you don't want to do that. It'll cost you more if you do."  Say what?

I asked them how getting less service from them would cost more. I still don't understand the explanation, something about it allows them to provide me more services then I save because I don't have to have a bunch of third partoes supplying me with services. I ain't lookin' for a bunch of services from any thrid parties.  I already have a third party supplying me with phone service on my mobile phone which doesn't cost me much of anything cause I'm not a big phone user. I got the mobile phone for emergency use. I couldn't seem to be able yo fit my land lline in my pocket nor find a long enough cord to go everywhere I go.

So okay, keep the bloody phone. Can I cut back on my TV. What choice have I here. Well, thre is the Ultimate package. You mean Ultimate in beyond extreme. Frankly, I though I had the Ultimate, but no, they informed me I had the Extreme. Extreme wasn't even on they choice list. How'd I get it?

They next one down from Ultimate was called Preferred. It was slightly cheaper than the Ultimate, but said I would be paying $10 more a month than the Extreme. Why?  It had less channels, both regular and High Definition, than I get now. Why should it cost me more. I asked their guy. He said he would have to find out why that was so. I never found out because they hung up on me. I think I asked to many questions.

The next plateau was called, "Starter". You can see the implications right there. Starter, you got far lass channels and as it were a lot we actually watch. Didn't really want to lose those, and the cast differential really was very significant.

Now they have some copy, "Have TV your way" and something called Custom TV. It isn't custom at all. You get to select from about a half-dozen categories like New and Sports, Entertainment, Family and Kids, things like that. You get a grouping of shows they think fits the category, far less selections than other packages. That isn't custom. Custom is let me select the channels I wanna watch like buying a song off of iTunes.

But they got you, unless you are ready to give up TV, Internet et al.

I reup'd with Fios for another two years. Man, you'd think the locked in contracts would end after six years.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Doing What I Shouldn't

I found a third tick of the season walking steadily up the back of my hand onto my wrist this morning. That makes this something of a record season already and we have the whole summer ahead. I don't know where this guy hitched his ride. I hadn't gotten out in to the bushes yet. I had done my morning walk at Rockwood, but where I walk is not usually conducive of ticks. Anyway, I plucked him off and flushed him out of my life.

You know my walks are limited these days. The only good thing about that is I don't wear out my sneakers as quickly. Given the circumstances, maybe this pair will last me a lifetime. This morning I did go a bit further, I think. Doing more than I should.

The doctors want me to keep walking, but not to push myself. Walking is good, they say, but not much else. I am not to exert myself because of the fatigue factor. As your muscles deteriorate, you get fatigued easier and longer.

I was about to go out and do something else I shouldn't, trim off some bushes and trees in the back yard.  
I've actually been doing this over the last two weeks a little bit each day. I mowed the front yard, which is difficult for me because of its slopes and embankments, on Thursday and I mowed the backyard yesterday. If the back yard had been two feet wider I wouldn't have made it. Backyard is bigger, but easier that the front; at least for me, but I do run out of whatever doing it and then I can barely make it inside. Trimming all our surrounding jungle is a bit of a challenge, but as they say, it has to be done, even if the doctors say I shouldn't do it.

Some of me trimming I filmed. This was near the end. You can see some rubble of branches off on the left. I did along the fence row first.  Then I trimmed about the corner and started lopping off branches of this tree. That was nearly the end, too, as a branch came down upon me, knocked me off balance (and it doesn't take much to do that) and sent me stumbling backward, out of control, toward the bird bath. I tossed the limb loper off into the air as I went. Fortunately, I did not fall.

I'm really not good for long at the chores. The video is about 8 minutes long. With what I did before and the cleanup after I probably did a half hour. It was starting to get hot by then. To tell you how bad the fatigue factor gets, in that short of time, I could hardly keep to my feet and I was staggering about like a drunken sailor on shore leave.

What I don't know is whether these short bursts of energy are good for me or if they hasten the progression on the disease. But as I said, it has to be done.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Tripping Over Myself: Self-sufficiency verses Asking for Help

When I went to the Clinics at Jefferson Hospital I was told again and again I must ask for help. The Social Worker called and admonished me for not asking others for help. At the ALS Support Group we were told we must ask for help. Over and over again at church people ask me if I need anything, do I need any help, what can they do for me.

Generally I answer, "No, I'm fine. Thanks for asking, but I really don't need any help."

It was the way I was brought up, how I grew up and how I lived as an adult. You took care of yourself. You didn't ask for charity. You didn't beg, surely. If something needed done, you took care of it yourself. I always did. Sure, if the complexity was beyond my knowledge and skill somebody else would have to do it, but that meant you hired some specialist to come do it for a price. I paid their fee, so I still could say I took care of it myself.

But you know what sins those two things are?

First, that, "I'm okay", is often a lie. It is another thing we were brought up to do. Someone asks, "How are you?" "I'm fine," is the excepted answer. Anything else is whining. People don't want to know your problems.

Second, I was brought up to take care of myself and that was called self-sufficiency. This is honorable up to a point, but you can step across a line where it becomes self-pride.

Makes me think of the Black Knight in "Monty Python and the Holy Grail". In a sword fight with King Arthur the Black Knight has both arms cut off, to which he replies, "'Tis but a flesh wound!" The result of this insistence on self-sufficiency is he has both legs chopped off as well.

There is a point you have to concede to the reality of your situation. Metaphorically, I am as limbless as the Black Knight. I have to swallow my pride and admit I need help.

I have had some help. People have brought me things at times and cut my grass occasionally. Right now my next door neighbor cuts my front lawn whenever he mows his own. I am happy, because the front yard is the hardest for me. It has embankments and I have bad balance.  I still cut my back yard. It is larger, but flat, and I can do it, even though it wears me out by the time I finish. I am not sure, though, how well I will do once the hot weather settles in. My wife has been doing lot of trimming back the jungle of bushes that surround us. I've been out doing some, but I last about 15-20 minutes and lose my legs, and feel sick.

I can take care of myself still. I can dress myself, but it is a comedy routine. So is getting out of the bathtub. Jean, a friend, gave me a shower bench, but I enjoy a long bath and will do so as long as I can. The problem is getting out of the tub afterward, we have no hand grips or anything like that. I actually videoed myself getting out after a bath. It's is rather hilarious, but I deleted the film. I mean, funny as it is I could hardly put it on YouTube.

I don't have trouble going to the store for groceries and other stuff. After all, at worse, the cart holds me up. I am losing so much strength now I can't lift anything heavy, and by heavy I mean anything much bigger than a jug of milk. If I get the cat supplies I have a clerk bring the littler and food to my car and ask my daughter to unload it when she is around. I have to ask others to open juice and water bottles. I don't have the strength in my hands to break the seals and turn the caps. I lifted a bottle of V-8 from the bottom of my little refrigerator the other day and could barely get it up to waist high. My hands are so bad I drop a lot of things. It is embarrassing. I still take a morning walk in the park every day, but I have to use a walking stick.

We still cook, but I don't as much. I cook anything and it really fatigues me. Lois gets pretty worn out cooking, too. We can't afford to eat out every night, though, so cook we must. To tell the truth, writing is an effort. I use to sit and type for hours, not I am drowsy in no time and pressing the keys doesn't alway work because of my weak fingers.

One thing is I look pretty normal still, old, but normal. I look capable. I can see the changes in my body, but am not certain other people can pick up on them. I also know I will deteriorate more with each passing month. Therefore, I look at tasks that once I would have done probably with some ease and feel daunted by my uselessness. Lois says she'll do them, but I know some she can't and some I would rather she didn't. She sits and worries, or rather, stays awake all night and worries, because she doesn't think we'll be able to sell the house if the day comes when we must. Here are most of our tasks:

Probably the biggest is the bathroom floor. It looks awful these days. That white tile was supposed to be strong, but in reality it didn't lay well and it chips and breaks easily. There is a layer of tile beneath it I had put down several years ago. Once I was good at doing that. Lois is concerned about the floor beneath. It is a very small bathroom, but may as well be the Taj Mahal to me.

The driveway needs the cracks patched. I did it last year, but I know I can't now. Lois says she'll do it. She has in the past, but things are getting very difficult for her even if she doesn't want to admit. She has already bought the gunk for filling in the cracks.

A number of years ago, Lois tiled the backsplash area, but she never finished this one line down this wall. It is the same with the floor, she didn't run the ceramic tiles beneath the refrigerator. She keeps talking about riping up the current tile and resurfacing the floor. I really am hoping she doesn't she start doing that.
She speaks of taking up the carpet we laid the other year and refinishing the hardwood floors, and they do need such work, but I can't imagine us accomplishing that anymore.

The kitchen faucet drips, has for years now. I asked a plumber who was here one day about fixing it. He said it would cost $600. I can't afford that, so I have let it drip. There was a time when you would unscrew the end and replace the washer and drip stopped. These are waterless spigots. Isn't modern technology wonderful? $600 to fix a small drip.

Anyway, enough moaning about my little annoyances.I don't want to be a whiner, but I do have to admit I need help.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Mystery of the Suspicious Packets: A Frank March Adventure

It's been a while since I reported on any of my cases, quite a while; years I think. Here is a recent mystery. I was hiking about in Rockford Museum Park, a regular morning routine, when I noticed beneath a stone bench some kind of packet tucked back in the showdown of the support stone. He, I though, someone forgot their lunch. But on reflection I figured someone sat there, ate their meal and hid the refuge beneath the bench.

A litterbug!

I continued on. This was the Northern Delaware Freeway Trail that ran from the Brandywine Creek State Park through Alapocas, Rockford, Rockwood, Bringhurst Woods, Bellevue and Fox Point State Park. Where I saw the packet was the beginning of the long and winding hill, up into the woods and to the highest point within these grounds.

At the top I turned right onto a dirt trail up to that very highest point where a gazebo sat overlooking the
Southern vista. There, to the rear near the gazebo seating, was another packet. These consisted of a plastic storage box, one of those you might stick a sandwich in. The top sealed down very tightly. This, in turn, was inside a clear ZipLoc bag.

Since this was not so tucked away I could take a closer look. You could see through the baggie right on through the lid of the box. Inside were two vials, similar to those you are given with your prescription pills. There were no pills here. The contents inside the vials appeared to be a white powder. Ut oh!

What in the world was the purpose of these packets and was there something nefarious in the works.

I went down the steep side of the hill and eventually wound my way around into the Kitchen Garden behind the Carriage House. This area is surrounded by a stone wall. To one side are trees with thick drooping branches, evergreens of some sort, that form a canopy. They sometimes hold weddings in this courtyard and the bride will enter from beneath this canopy, so obviously you can walk beneath the branches. It is much like walking through a cave. In the center inside there is another bench. I walked through the tunnel of nettled branches and stopped to stare at two more of these mysterious packets under that bench, one to each side.

I went to the Mansion and saw the lights were on in the upstairs office. I rang the doorbell. Shorty a man came down and opened the door. His name was Phillip. He was the Park Director. I inquired if he knew anything about these packets. He did not.

I wrote about these discoveries later on Facebook.

I received several comments all advising me to contact the police.

I emailed the New Castle County Police, enclosing the photos I had taken of the various packets. Next morning I received an email in return. It informed me my original notice and pictures was being given to an officer. It then spend some time telling me I should have phoned the police rather than send an email.  I though an email was more effective since I could include photos. Oh, well.

I then got a phone call from this same police contact, who spent more time telling me I should have called rather than emailed. I'm sorry. She said I would hear from an officer. I heard from a Police Sargent about two hours later. He asked several questions.

"Are you at the park now?"
"No, I'm home. But the packets are still there. They have been there two days. I actually found another one this morning. It is down on the porch of what is called the Porter Lodge."

"Did you collect the packets?" he asked.
"No," I said, "I wasn't touching those things."

He paused as if forming his next question, which was, "Is the Park Direct there?"
"No," I said. "I'm home. He is probably in the park. But I spoke with him and he knew nothing about them."
"Okay, I'm going to drive over to the park and talk to the Director."
"Fine, but he doesn't know anything. The easiest one to find is at the Porter Lodge." I figured the cop could stop on his way in, he would have to drive past where the Porter Lodge was in order to get up the hill to the office.

The next morning all the packets were still in place, except the one on the stone bench was pulled out from underneath partway. As I went on the route about the paths and drives I saw the Manager of the Carriage House arrived just as I was about to leave. I hurried across the lot to speak to her, leaving my walking stick behind in the car, which meant I really didn't hurry very fast. Still I caught her.

Her name is Barbara, but it turned out she knew nothing of the packets either. She said she would call the police, but I told her I had already done so and also reported them to the Park director. Barbara said she would follow up with the police. My goodness, we are getting quite involved here and still don't know what these mysterious packets are. Or what was in the vials each packet contained.

The next day, no change, except the Stone Bench packet was now on top of the bench. Another day passed and the packed was again tucked in the showdown beneath the bench.

On the next day, this packet and the one in the Gazebo were gone, but the two under the tree canopy remained, only one was outside the bench and both had been flipped over.

Now on what, the seventh or eighth day, all the packets had disappeared as strangely as they had appeared. I still had no clue to what they were for. This was driving me crazy. I hate not knowing. Especially, since on the next day after they all went away, they came back.

However, the content was different. There were no vials. Instead they contained a rock and paper. I looked closely at the one on the stone bench. Yes, this packet was atop the bench, not under it. The paper inside looked very much like folded up money. The ploy thickens or the mystery deepens or some such saying.

Okay, so this morning, after over a week of mysterious packets, all were gone, except one. That's right, there was a packet sitting atop that blasted stone bench where all this first began for me. I sat down next to it and opened it up. I had a great deal of difficulty opening the lid of the box inside the ZipLoc bag, but persisted. Inside beneath a rock were the cut up pieces of a photograph, but no money. There was also a piece of paper. Typed upon this strip was, "Mr. Salisbury once lived here."

Mr. Salisbury had been Joseph Shipley's gardener and when the wealthy merchant banker retired and built Rockwood, he brought Salisbury with him as his landscaper. But the cut up photograph was of the Porter Lodge, not the Gardener's Cottage. At any rate, I tucked everything back away and left it where it was.

The mystery was about to unfold.

Up at the high point, within the Gazebo was no packet found this morning; however, the rock that had been in the second set of boxes was there as was a long strip of paper it had contained.

Those were direction that took one from this gazebo down to that infamous stone bench.

I ran into the Park Director as he arrived this morning and asked him if they had found out what the packets were. He told me, "Yes. The police were out to investigate. They checked out each site."

So what were they?

There had been some organization that held a scavenger hunt for children this past weekend. They had planted the original packets as a test run. Nobody informed any authority at the park. It was just a harmless game. Still, I was thanked. I did the right thing on seeing suspicious packets laying about. It could have been something no good. Never be afraid to report strange packages or odd behavior, especially in our current age. Risk the embarrassment of looking a fool, better that that a tragedy or crime because you ignored such things.

Case closed on the Mystery of the Suspicious Packets.