Sunday, May 21, 2017

Not Barnum & Bailey … but memorable !

As the Big Top closes out its 146 year reign it brings back this memory:

In 1985 my little town of Vass, NC, with barely 700 residents, played host to a small time circus to raise money for a local charity. People from near & far came for the one-night performance and Tiny Tim was the main attraction. He plucked his ukulele while singing his off key theme song “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” and the audience loved it. I couldn’t stay, however, because I had to be up very early the next day to get to my job in the ER of our local hospital.

Imagine my surprise upon arriving there early the next morning to see a familiar looking figure dressed in a long, dark overcoat, at the front desk.

It was Tiny Tim holding a small paper bag and demanding to see the ER Dr. “immediately”. He refused to be registered and was getting more agitated by the minute. Finally he opened the bag and produced a urine sample that he swore he had obtained from a girl in Vass (!) She, according to Tiny Tim, was accusing him of getting her pregnant and he wanted the Dr. to prove her wrong.

The whole scene was getting more and more bizarre. Both the Dr. and the nursing supervisor tried to tell him that it was way too early to determine anything but Tiny Tim just became more obnoxious. He started yelling about “my rights as a citizen” and “people taking advantage of me because I’m a star”, and it was at this point that the news photographers arrived.

In retrospect we could clearly see that we’d been conned. He managed to get a front page spread in the local newspaper, as well as mentions in the Raleigh and Fayetteville ones too. The unnamed girl from Vass “conveniently” disappeared and Tiny Tim, with a big “gotcha” smile on his face, tiptoed quietly out of our lives.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Model T Ford and barbequing ????

Last Saturday morning, after listening to the news, I was about to turn off the TV when a segment on a child's show caught my attention. I had never heard about the connection between Henry Ford and Kingsford briquets and found it very interesting. 

It's a well known fact that Ford's Model T was the first affordable car ... one that even a middle class person could buy. This was due in large part to Ford's efficiency… such as his idea of the assembly line to increase production. So it was no surprise when (with the aid of Edward Kingsford, real estate agent) he acquired a large tract of timberland in Michigan in order to supply his own wood.

It soon became apparent that the sawmill produced not only the timber that he needed but also much waste such as branches and sawdust. Of course this was another challenge that Ford welcomed and the result was:

Ford Charcoal changed hands in 1951 when it was bought by an investment group and renamed Kingsford Charcoal. I wish I'd bought a few shares in the company back then !

Thursday, May 11, 2017

57 years ago …. and an update this week !

Here I am in 1970. I lived in an area of the Northeast then where it was not unusual to have graveyards with stones dating back to the early seventeen hundreds. Gravestone rubbings were allowed then and it became a hobby with me.

I was always very careful to not damage the surface of the stones. I'd use a toothbrush to remove the moss and dirt that clung to the stone crevices and then placed paper (white newsprint) over the image, adhering it to the back of the stone with masking tape. Using a thick wax crayon I'd lightly stroke the paper until the design appeared and then carefully increase the pressure until I had the desired effect.

In 1970 I was so pleased with the effect that I mounted and framed them and sent them as my Christmas gifts that year. However, I was sad to realize that I must have misplaced my own copy in our many moves since then.

So, imagine my surprise and pleasure when I received a large UPS package this week and saw that it was the rubbing that I had sent to my sister Barbara 57 years ago. She passed away a few months back and her family has kindly sent back some of her possessions that pertain to me. I can't thank them enough.
… and here it is … 250 years young !

Saturday, May 06, 2017

Another letter to the NC Senators Burr and Tillis:

Dear Senators:  I commend all of you in the Senate who are approaching the future of the ACA in a realistic manner. As far as I can see the House is just grand-standing and they look like a bunch of teenagers who have put something over on the teacher. Thank God we have you in the Senate to reign this in and actually act like the adults that we voted into office. Instead of repealing a health care program that is working for millions of Americans it makes much more sense to SERIOUSLY and SLOWLY look at all the options for changing the areas that need it and then put it to a vote. The nickname Obamacare seems to be the onus for many people.  So I wish it would be referred to by the actual name, the Affordable Care Act ... because it is truly the first time in our history that many of our fellow Americans can actually afford health care.
Trump and Australian Prime Minister 5/4/17

I assume you saw where Trump told the Australian Prime Minister that they had better insurance than we have here. Does Trump honestly not know that theirs is a universal health care system ... and that every other major country on Earth guarantees health care to all it's people, except for us (supposedly the richest county on Earth). Incredible !

No wonder Bernie is smiling ...

Monday, May 01, 2017

The BOSS …

This picture is a little fuzzy because I took it through the screened window in my office. However there's nothing indistinct about this handsome fellow ! He's definitely the boss. From the moment he spied my small bird feeder he's been in charge.

This all started about a month ago. I had just adhered the feeder to the window and was back inside at my desk when I heard a flurry of activity. There must have been 4 or 5 little wrens vying for a position on the feeder when all of a sudden they were scattered to the wind by the huge and regal Cardinal that you see here. He swooped in and has been there pretty much all the time since then.

It's actually a little eerie. I know he can't possibly be here ALL the time but it never fails … whenever another bird dares to settle at the feeder he makes himself known. And the strangest thing is that he often doesn't even feed. He just perches there … assumes his regal stance and, like a King, is very aware that HE IS THE BOSS.


Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NC Senators:

                                                                      Richard Burr

                                                                        Thom Tillis

These are our NC Senators, both Republicans. I did not vote for them but am hoping against hope that they will do what Senators are supposed to do … and that's to stand up for the needs of their constituents. With this in mind I've been emailing them whenever I see something that I feel is counter to this. As you can imagine this administration gives me plenty to email about. Today I sent this:

I may be naive but I can't see how Trump proposing and enacting the largest tax cut ever for corporations will help the little he promised he would do. Losing that tax income will have to be made up in some way and it certainly isn't going to be in the form of Trump cutting back on his regular weekend jaunts or his ridiculous wall. We all know where he will try to get the money and it will be in the form of cutting any and all the programs that are so critical to the poor people, the elderly and the arts. It is becoming exceedingly clear that Trump is in a powerful position to enrich himself and those that he's chosen to surround him. My estimation of the Republican party has hit an all time low and it makes we wonder if there are none of you with the guts to oppose him and get back to caring about us. After all we are the voters that elected you and can easily be the ones to get you replaced.

I thought maybe I was just one small voice “blowing against the wind” but my children are very supportive and that gave me the push that I needed. I've sent off 9 emails so far and am pleased to say that the Senators have answered them all. Of course they're probably written by a staff member but it at least shows that they got there !

Friday, April 21, 2017


That was a hit record for Tex Williams. It had many stanzas but the part that most people remember is the chorus. It goes like this:

     “Smoke, smoke, smoke that cigarette.      Puff, puff, puff until you smoke yourself to death.

                                                       Tell St. Peter at the Golden Gate

                       That you hate to make him wait,     But you just gotta have another cigarette.”

That was 70 years ago but it came to mind last night while chatting with a bunch of AA members. One of the “old timers” compared the smoke filled meeting rooms of the past to the pristine ones that we meet in today and how ironic it is that many got and stayed sober ... only to die of lung cancer soon after.

Another irony is the fact that so many AA members actually find it harder to quit smoking than alcohol. They tell us that the commercial ways recommended to stop the habit, such as nicotine replacement therapies (gums, inhalers, sprays) and medications such as Chantix and Zyban just don't work for them. However, when they apply the One Day at a Time concept, learned in AA, it often works like a charm.

I remember so clearly when I first heard that. I'd complained that I doubted I could quit drinking for the rest of my life and I was confused when I heard them say: “We never told you that.” I thought I was getting a reprieve and then they went on to ask me if I could just not drink for that day? Of course I could do that ! What a relief it was and lo and behold, I've been doing it now, One Day at a Time, for more than 27 years.