31 December 2007

Uninvited Visitors

December in Scottsdale is usually the coldest month of the year. This year was no exception, in fact, it seemed colder than any of the past 17 years we have lived here. One uninvited visitor was old Jack Frost who came barging in one night and stayed for ten. We tried covering up our sensitive plants and shrubs to no avail. He proceeded to wipe his frosty hands all over Grandma’s basil plants and our Arizona Yellow Bells, among others. He has since left us, thank goodness, but with no guarantee that he won’t return any time soon.

The other visitor, that none of us welcomes, was a flu/cold/sinus bug that hit me just after Christmas. I tried to dislodge the bug with Daquill, Claritin, Nyquill and Theraflu, but the best results came from a good old-fashioned salt water gargle that Grandma recommended. I’m still hoarse, but am now over the hump and on the down side of getting well. If you ever get the bug, heed Grandma’s call and use a salt water gargle! We had planned to go to a German restaurant New Year’s Eve, but had to cancel out. I was looking forward to some Sauerbraten und Rotkohl, washed down with a good Pilsener. Oh well, that’s a good resolution for 2008.

19 December 2007


As he quite often does, Rick Watson (Life 101) hit a memory button when he wrote about getting bread and milk in advance of a storm. The memory goes like this:

It was a big storm that had blanketed western New York and left our street covered in several feet of snow. The neighbors banded together and had potluck meals made from whatever stock was available. After a few days of no plows in sight, my wife and I decided to take a toboggan and hike a couple of miles to the nearest grocery store to see what staples we could find, as our family of nine was running out. A neighbor across the street asked us to pick up some milk for their new baby. When we reached the store, we found that most of the staples and just about everything else had been cleared out. We went to the dairy section and asked a clerk if there was any more milk to be had since neighbors needed some for their baby; the clerk said he would check in back for us. There was a couple standing nearby with a cart full of milk, who volunteered to give us some of theirs because “we don’t need it all”, but I refused with the reply that they certainly must need it or else they wouldn’t have taken it all. When the clerk returned with two quarts, we thanked him and went on our way. I don’t remember whether or not the couple kept all the milk. I certainly hope they put some back for the next person.

It took a few more days before the street was plowed and life returned to normal, but I never forgot the panic that set in on otherwise sane people when they thought they might starve to death before the next shipment of groceries would arrive.

13 December 2007

Where Or When?

The song “Where Or When” was written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart for the musical “Babes In Arms” which debuted in 1937. I just recently listened to it and found that it could be classified as the theme song for the Alzheimer’s Institute. It certainly does help understand what an Alzheimer patient goes through, although the composers certainly didn’t intend it that way. These are the lyrics:

“When you’re awake, the things you think
Come from the dreams you dream.
Thought has wings, and lots of things
Are seldom what they seem.
Sometimes you think you’ve lived before
All that you live today.
Things you do come back to you
As though they knew the way;
Oh, the tricks your mind can play.

“It seems we stood and talked like this before.
We looked at each other in the same way then,
But I can’t remember where or when.
The clothes you’re wearing are the clothes you wore,
The smile you’re smiling you were smiling then,
But I can’t remember where or when.

“Some things that happened for the first time
Seem to be happening again,
And so it seems that we have met before
And laughed before, and loved before,
But who knows where or when.”

What do you think?

12 December 2007

The Clinton Theater

When we moved to Rochester, there was a movie theater about five blocks away - the Clinton Theater. The normal program included a newsreel, two movies, one of which was a “B” movie, an episode of an adventure serial, and coming attractions. Friday nights were when most of the kids in the neighborhood would be there because there was usually a western, where the good guys wore white and the bad guys wore black. We all knew to BOO the bad guys.

The admission was about a dime, but one could earn a bunch of passes by delivering a monthly program to houses around the area. I “signed up” for that one time and was autoed to a suburb and dropped off, where all the houses were served by mailboxes at the curb. Not being familiar with rural mail delivery, the other fellow and I decided that we needed to raise the little red flag on the side of the box to let the homeowners know that there was something in the box for them. After we had finished our round, we were picked up by the theater owner, who handed us our passes. On the way back home, we told him we had made sure to raise the red flags. Well, he told us that we shouldn’t have done that; the red flag is a signal to the mailman to stop and pick up mail from the box. It was too much to go back and lower all those red flags. I imagine the mailman was a little perturbed to have to stop at every mailbox, when not all of them had mail to be picked up.

I don’t remember ever again being asked to deliver the monthly programs.

Fearless Mice

According to today's Guardian (www.guardian.co.uk), scientists have genetically modified a mouse to be unafraid of cats. Maybe they'll be able to genetically modify jihadists to be unafraid of the rest of civilization.

07 December 2007

Smoke Rings

Congratulations to daughter-in-law, Sharon, for quitting smoking. She has tried a new prescription drug and it is working. Read all about it at her blog "Mimi's Blog" through the link on the right.

My own "adventure" with smoking started in 1949 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. My college roommate, Nelson, was a smoker. One day I asked him to teach me how to smoke, so he gave me a cigarette and I lit up. My first attempt was to suck in some smoke, then try to swallow it. Ugh! Don't try that at home! But after a few more drags I was off and running. I was 18 at the time, and trying to be cool. I was 36 when I quit, so I had smoked half my life. I tell people that it took me a day to start and 18 years to quit.

At one point in my quitting trials, I started smoking cheroots, until I found I had both a cigarette and a cheroot lit in my ash tray. Another time, I tried a pipe, because my Doctor said it was almost impossible to keep them lit. He was right; I gave them up because of the frustration level it built up. I had quit once for a 3-month period. The problem was that I hadn't convinced myself that I was ready to give up smoking completely. It took a few months of debate before I finally won the argument with myself. From that point on, no more cigarettes.

If you're thinking of quitting, talk to your family Doctor about the new prescription drug. My son, Jamie, has started on it now, and I pray that it will work for him. (I'm also praying that Gail and David will try it.)

02 December 2007

Joe Maloney

We lived next door to the Maloney family, Joe, Jim and their parents. In the 1940s, we played together; he was four years younger than me. One time, Joe’s mother bought him an archery set with blunt-tipped arrows. Joe was excited and went into the back yard and shot an arrow straight up; it came down and hit his brother in the top of the head. No real damage done, but that was the end of archery at the Maloneys.

Joe’s father worked as a night guard for the Rochester Psychiatric Hospital (the Insane Asylum, in days of yore), and Joe was used to going there and wandering around the complex. One day, Joe “borrowed” his father’s revolver and headed to the Pinnacle hill area, a wooded, hilly unpopulated tract on the southern edge of Rochester, where he wound up shooting himself in the hand and falling down a cliff. The firemen were called, by whom I don’t know, and rescued Joe. That was the end of “borrowing” his father’s revolver.

Joe worked at many jobs, including handling dynamite, or at least he boasted of it. He had been to Ireland to visit relatives and had kissed the Blarney Stone, so it was difficult to determine fact from fiction. I did find him at work at Haloid Xerox in a paint spray booth in the early 1960s. At one time he told me that he had had his colon removed and offered to show me his colostomy bag, but I declined.

He and I double-dated at one point, he with his fiancee, June, and I with a cousin of his from Ireland. Joe stood a little over six feet and June was about five feet four. They always seemed to get along well when we were together, however there was another side to Joe that I never saw. To read about that, go to http://www.dun-laoghaire.com/michael_maloney.html for the rest of the story.

01 December 2007

An Unpleasant Visit

I've been in a morgue only once, and that was more than I had ever thought would happen.

Gerald was the youngest of six children, about 5' 9'' tall, blue eyes. He had married, had children and then was divorced when his alcoholism got in the way of his life. He told me that he had never suffered a hangover no matter how much or how long he drank. He would run out the drunk then check into the hospital to dry out. In between bouts, he hung around those of us who did drink, but said he didn't mind. The last time he went in to dry out he was told that his system couldn't handle the strain of another treatment.
His sister had divorced my brother and moved into a house in Rochester with her children; Gerald would stay there off and on. When she moved to the suburbs, he stayed on at the house and started drinking again.
My brother and his son went to the house one day to check on Gerald and found him sitting in a chair in the basement with a shotgun to his chest - dead. The police were called and it was ruled a suicide. The kitchen cupboards were filled with almost empty whiskey bottles. Someone had told Gerald that one could always tell an alcoholic because they drained every bottle; we think he always left a little in the bottle so he wouldn't be so labeled.
The police wanted positive identification, but his sister didn't want to go, so my brother and I went. Fred wouldn't go look at the body so it fell to me. It was Gerald.
I hope I never have to visit another morgue.

22 November 2007

Thanksgiving Day 2007

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Today is the day my family celebrates a day that our ancestor, Miles Standish, participated in back in the 1620s. We are thankful to him for being part of the first Thanksgiving celebration, which has since become a truly American tradition. God bless you all and God bless the United States of America.

21 November 2007

"Chinese Fire Drill"

Two daughters joined the Henrietta Hi-Lites, an all-female color guard that marched in parades around the county and participated in contests in New York and Canada. Chris was a flag, that is, she carried one of the large banners and had to go through some maneuvers while on the march. Gail was a rifle, so she carried a wooden rifle and had to perform a bunch of manual-of-arms exercises while marching. They weren’t members at the same time; Chris joined first, then when she retired, Gail joined. If I remember correctly, there were some rifle marks in the family room ceiling from over zealous practices.

The manager was Jim Fleming, who was assisted by his daughter Kathy. Parents were asked to help with transportation for distant performances, so I volunteered. We had a nine-passenger Ford station wagon, so I could load up the car with Hi-Lites.

One trip took us to Toronto, Canada, where they were entered in a competition, so lucky me got to be chauffeur, along with Jim and another parent. Jim led the way with me next in our caravan. Unfortunately, Jim made it through a traffic light, turning right, but we didn’t. By the time the light changed and I turned, there were very dim taillights way up ahead, so I sped to catch up. Well, that wasn’t Jim. We pulled into a gas station to get directions, but the fellow there couldn’t find the hotel or the street on his map. So we turned around and retraced our steps, finally seeing the lights of the hotel up ahead. Well, we drove around and around the hotel, but couldn’t find any way to get there because of the construction, until I drove through a barricaded street and there we were. We did manage to make it to the bar just as last call was announced.

The next morning, we were up bright and early so we could get to the competition hall where we spent the day in total boredom waiting for our turn. I don’t remember winning first place.

On the way back to Henrietta, we were stopped at a traffic light, when someone asked if I could roll down the rear window, which I did. Suddenly, someone shouted “Chinese Fire Drill” and all the doors flew open, Hi-Lites jumped out of the car and rolled out the rear window, then piled back into the car, making sure they were all in different seats. I was stunned and almost forgot to go when the light turned green. From then on, I was prepared for the confusion when anyone made the announcement, but people in nearby cars looked on in shock.

19 November 2007

More About Art

In 1949, in my freshman year at Oklahoma Agricultural & Mechanical College, I was rooming with Nelson Cohen, also from Rochester, in a 16 ft. sq. surplus Army hut in Oretoopa Village, a temporary student housing project a healthy walk away from the college campus. The furnishings were sparse - two surplus Army cots with cotton mattresses, a central heater, and two wardrobes and dressers, with a study table for each of us. The outside was covered loosely with tar paper, which didn’t quite keep out the Oklahoma soil from blowing in each and every day. My buddy, Smitty, lived two doors down. One day, when things were a little slow, Smitty and I started drawing caricatures on my desk. When we finished, we had drawn Smitty, Kendig, Nelson and me. Too bad we couldn’t keep the desk.

11 November 2007


Racism is alive and well in the United States. You can thank the media for that. Why? Well, how many times have you read in the paper or heard on the radio or TV the words “Latino”, “Hispanic”, “African-American”, etc.? What kind of an image do those words convey? One nation of “Americans“? Or a multicultural nation of fragmented groups?

Wouldn’t it be better for all of us if the media called us all “Americans” and tried to bring us together, rather than using words that try to keep us divided? I think so. Which would you prefer?

04 November 2007


When we lived in Batavia, NY, there was an Indian - Mohawk, I believe - who stayed occasionally at my grandfather’s house. We called him “Chief” but his name was John Hill; he worked as a laborer on construction and traveled from job to job on a bicycle. One day my brother and I were talking with him when he pulled out a pencil and paper and proceeded to draw a picture of a locomotive. I was amazed at his drawing skill as well as his ability to draw from memory. If I remember right, he played a mean harmonica, too.

In the eighth grade in Monroe High School in Rochester, I took Art as an elective subject. There was an annual competition among the schools for best art, called the Scholastic Art Exhibit. The best entries were displayed at the foremost department store in town, Sibley, Lindsay & Carr, Co. I had entered a colored pencil drawing - 8 ½ x 11 - of a section of wallpaper of pigs. Yes, pigs! It won Honorable Mention and went on display for all and sundry to view. I think that’s about the time my parents bought me a set of colored pencils that I carried with me for many years.

31 October 2007

Halloween 2007

Boo! Did I scare you?

Grandma and I walked for about 30 minutes this morning before breakfast. We try to get out at least 3 times each week, and do some walking at other times, like cruising the mall. Not really pushing it like we do in the morning, but not coasting either. We both need the exercise, not because of weight loss, but for the cardiovascular system. Do you walk?

This afternoon we are to meet a new - to us - Doctor who will schedule us each for a colonoscopy. I plan to tell him all about my fainting spell in July when I was preping for one with a different Doctor. I don't want to go through that again!

The past two days we have taken Ginger out front for short walks. She likes the grass and will go about two doors down before she looks up at me for pity. That's when I get to carry her home. We keep her weight steady at 28 pounds, which I can manage for a few feet.

Happy Halloween!

24 October 2007

The Party's Over

Most people don’t realize it, but the party’s over. It won’t be long before there will be more mosques in Europe than cathedrals, churches and synagogues. Why? Well, look at the demographics, urges Mark Steyn in his book “America Alone”. Between 1970 and 2000, “the developed world declined from just under 30 percent of the global population to just over 20 percent, and the Muslim nations increased from about 15 percent to 20 percent”. The fertility rate in Europe is BELOW the level needed to sustain the population; in America, it’s about right. So our European cousins will be faced with ever increasing numbers of immigrants from Muslim nations to take up the work that the declining local populations will no longer be there to perform. And will they assimilate into the culture of their new “homeland”? Well, look at what happened in Florida when a Muslim woman went to court to keep her face covered on the picture on her driver’s license.
Better start boning up on “The Koran” so you can converse intelligently with your new neighbors. I already have.

16 October 2007

Split Rock

Well, after writing about Split Rock, I decided I'd better put up a picture or two so you could see just what it looks like. So here are two, one with son-in-law David, so you get an idea of scale. Big, eh?

11 October 2007

A Random Thought For October

I realized early on that I would never make a good ballplayer because I couldn't learn the knack of spitting.

10 October 2007


Ginger, our Pembroke Welsh Corgi, is feeling a little poorly today. She's on antibiotics and pain pills for the next few days. She visited the Vets yesterday for teeth cleaning. Despite Grandma brushing her teeth every morning, she had to have 11 teeth extracted - 9 incisors and 2 molars. We had not noticed any signs of discomfort, so were quite surprised. She now gets her dry food smashed up and watered down, and her treats smashed. We'll ease up on the smashing after about a week.

Other than that, she acts as normal as can be expected for a 77 year old with arthritis.

09 October 2007


Youngest daughter, Gail, and her husband, David, recently visited a part of the Adirondacks that we camped in many moons ago. It’s called Split Rock, because of a huge rock split down the middle. The rock is usually dry, but is sometimes almost under water during especially heavy rainfall in the area. By hopping rock-to-rock across split rock, we would be able to fish for trout in a large pool in the Deer River.

The Post Card we received had a copy of a lean-to painting from the 1800s, and revived a memory of a trip to a different area in the Adirondacks. The group included Roger Roberts, an Englishman expatriot engineer working at Xerox, my brother Fred, sons Mark and Jamie, and Fred’s son Rick, Jamie‘s friend Mike, and Rick‘s friend also named Mike. We had rented canoes and paddled our way across Raquette Lake to a campsite that consisted of several lean-tos, where we spread our sleeping bags and cooking gear. Along with our food and clothes, we had packed a large supply of worms, which were our preferred bait.

After we set up camp, Roger rigged his fishing rod and headed to the shore. He was an avid fisherman, and had plenty of experience in the lakes and rivers of England. One thing that we didn’t realize about fishing over there is that they chum the water before trying to catch any. When we did wander over to see how he was doing, we found him having a great time catching Sunfish - about 3 or 4 inches long - not big enough to keep for dinner. What was upsetting to us was that he was chumming - throwing handsful of worms into the lake - in order to catch one small fish. Well, we educated him on the spot; the fish were so hungry that only part of a worm was needed to catch those little guys.

We fished a while on Raquette Lake without too much success, so decided to break camp and head to Split Rock. My recollection is that the weather turned dismal on Raquette, so we sought dryer waters at Split Rock. Unfortunately, it was raining at Split Rock, so we decided against setting up camp and drove into St. Regis Falls and camped at the Waverly Inn, a VERY rustic building but with a well-stocked bar. So we dried out on the outside and watered down our insides.

Not too much later, Roger was called back to Rank-Xerox, but sent some pictures of our adventure, including one of the group of us under a tarpaulin during the rainstorm. About ten years after that, I had word that Roger had passed away. But the memory lingers on.

The Grieving

I had never paid much attention to the period after the death and funeral. People died, were buried and life went on. Actually, it was never that cold a process, but it seemed like that from a distance. However, up close and personal, there is a time period needed by the grieving survivors to be able to come to grips with the empty spot in their lives. So it was after the deaths of a niece, my parents, a step-daughter, my in-laws, that I needed that time to grieve. And so it is now that we have lost our beloved Pepper. It has helped to talk about her life and the suddenness of her death with others who have lost one of their beloved. I still tear up, and may for a long time, she was so special to me. I still talk to her and one day I felt her presence in the room. I know she has no more fear, no more aches and pains, and that consoles me.

04 October 2007

The Flea Problem At Xerox

Dr. John Dessauer was the Vice President of Research and Engineering at Xerox Corporation in Rochester, New York. One of his requirements, when the new Engineering building in Webster was being designed, is that it have a fire-proof vault for storing all the engineering drawings. He felt that they were the most important product of R & D and were irreplaceable. So the new facility included a drawing storage vault with a carbon dioxide extinguishing system behind a fire-proof, self-closing door.

Unfortunately, there was a problem associated with the vault.

One day in 1960, not too long after we had moved in, Rita W. and Anna G., two of the Reproduction Area’s clerks, came to Bob J., the Chief Draftsman, to complain that they were being bitten by fleas. Yes, fleas in the vault! Bob wasn’t sure about that, so he asked them to show him a flea. And the next day they did - a dead one of course. And so the vault was fumigated and the flea problem was solved for good.

(As a footnote, the extinguishing system never had to be used.)

01 October 2007

Music, Music, Music

September seemed to be our month for music. First, we went to see the movie "Hairspray" in which John Travolta plays an oversize mother. My toes were tapping all through the movie. I highly recommend it to everyone.

Next we went to a dinner theater to see "Beehive" that again had my feet moving. We usually go to a matinee performance, and have a table in the first row, so we can see all the facial expressions on the cast members. I highly recommend this show, too.

Third, yesterday we went to Gammage Auditorium to see "Jersey Boys" about Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. The music was great, but the language was mostly gutter talk - too many f and s words for my sensitive ears. It seems that we are being desensitized to such profanity by writers in "the arts". If given a choice, I choose not to wander around in their gutter.

26 September 2007

Didja Ever Wonder?

Didja ever wonder why you have trouble getting things done in your computer? Like trying to install an upgrade with those technical-language-rich instructions? Well, my theory is that computers are programmed by computer experts who live in a totally isolated world and speak a totally different language than common English, not by users like you and me.

Didja ever wonder why weather reporters on TV pace back and forth in front of the graphics? And then stop right in front of the graphic you're most interested in? Well, I think they are taught to pace in weather reporting school. Either that or they're nervous and can't make up their minds about which is their better side for the camera.

Didja ever wonder whatever happened to civility? Think maybe the TV show “All In The Family” had anything to do with it?

Didja ever wonder?

21 September 2007

Eating Out

Whenever we go out to eat, Grandma always wishes she could just see what everything on the menu looks like. It would help her to make up her mind. Well, one day long ago in Toronto, she had that opportunity.

We had wandered into a Greek restaurant near our hotel, deciding to risk a different cuisine. Once seated, the waiter asked if we had eaten there before, which we hadn't. He then explained the routine to us: first, one orders drinks, then one walks to the back of the restaurant where the chef shows one the various foods and explains each, one makes a selection, returns to the table and the waiter brings everything as ordered. Needless to say, Grandma was in seventh heaven. And the food was delicious!

Every trip to Toronto since then has had at least one trip to a Greek restaurant.

16 September 2007


After we finished reading the morning paper (about 2-hours), we gave Ginger a bath. (I put up a folding table in the shower, and go at it, then Grandma dries her off. She will get brushed out later in the day.) Then I loaded an old Xerox printer and associated software, cables and cartridges into the Escape and drove down to the Boy Scouts Computer Swap Meet to donate it all. I also took an old, tattered American flag that they said would be disposed of properly. The flag had been flow proudly in front of the house on national holidays, but had become worn from the winds, and I knew that it wasn't proper to just toss it into the trash. When they took the flag out of the car, one of the Scout masters told the boys to make sure it was re-folded properly (I had tried to do that, but it had come unfolded somewhere along the line). We have a newer flag now, so it will go up on display tomorrow for Constitution Day. Grandma has noted on our calendar the days when the flag is to be flown, and we try to make sure ours is out there. It's a small task, but we feel it's important in this day and age to show our patriotic spirit.

15 September 2007

It's Over

It's official! Our monsoon is over! Although we had some good gully-washers here, the official measuring station is at Sky Harbor Airport, which recorded a very low total for the summer, something like an inch (I forget the exact number - a senior moment). Now on to lower humidity and more comfortable temperatures; we should be out of the 100s in a week or so.

10 September 2007

A Beautiful Child

Introducing our newest great-granddaughter, Julianna, and her proud poppa, Jamie.

29 August 2007

A Record Broken!

First, a correction: Tuesday we tied the old record at 28 not 27. However, today we set a new record at 29 days of above 110 degrees - it hit 113! Firework celebrations are not allowed due to drought conditions. Rats!

Thank You

Grandma and I thank all of you for your messages of condolence on the death of our beloved Pepper.

A Record Broken?

The record for the most days of temperature over 110 degrees is 27. We tied the record on Tuesday. Today, we break may that! Wow! What an accomplishment to be able to tell my great-grandchildren! I can hardly wait for the 5 o'clock news.

21 August 2007

Pepper Miller

Pepper Miller, March 31, 1996 - August 18, 2007

Pepper, a red and white Pembroke Welsh Corgi, came to us from a pet store, most likely the product of a puppy mill. We also brought home her littermate sister, Ginger. They were both four weeks old, and had been separated until we made the purchase, when they were overjoyed to see each other again. The more lively puppy was named Pepper, and her sister, who tended to be more casual, became Ginger.

Pepper was my shadow. She looked to me to protect her from other dogs; she was scared to death of them, and would jump into my arms if any came near her. We tried to take them to parks for walks, but unleashed dogs brought that to a halt. She also hated kennels, so she only stayed in one when she was sick or going to have her teeth cleaned. When we traveled, rather than put the two of them in a kennel, they stayed in their own home and a neighbor came in to care for them.

Every morning, we would put them up on the counter in the laundry room where Grandma would brush their teeth and I would brush their coats. Baths were every other week, and I made sure to clean the patio beforehand of the particulates that landed there (Arizona air is noted for particulates). Otherwise, they would come in almost as dirty as before their bath.

The window sill in the front room was just the right height for them to lie down with their heads resting on it. Whenever we went away, they would both wait in the front window for us. In recent months, though, when Ginger came into the room, Pepper would leave. There seemed to be some unsaid understanding between them that Ginger had the say about that.

We have a dog door in our bedroom that was put in for our Siberian Husky, who had passed away several years before Pepper and Ginger came to us. When we first brought them home, they wouldn’t use it. It took a few minutes to realize their legs were too short; their bellies would scrape on the bottom, so I installed a ramp. Pepper was leery of it until I covered it with some old towels; after that she would come and go at her leisure.

Pepper enjoyed being outside. We had a game of “catch me” that we played on the patio: she would run around the furniture and I would run after her to try to catch her. Usually after a few turns she would declare the game over and wait for an ear scratch or a back rub.

In the morning, as soon as they were allowed to go out, Pepper would survey the yard, making sure neither feline nor fowl trespassers lingered. She always went to the far ends of the yard to do her “business” and tried to make sure nobody was watching. (Ginger, on the other hand, felt that anywhere out the door was fair game for her toilet.)

Several years ago, Pepper suffered two torn anterior cruciate ligaments (ACL), which were repaired, after which she was able to run and play with no signs of injury. She had lost several teeth over the years, found during her annual teeth cleaning at the Veterinarian’s hospital. And she was gradually turning grey around her muzzle and ears.

About two weeks ago, she seemed to lose her energy and her appetite. X-rays were taken, during which we found that she had a dislocated right hip. At first, she was diagnosed with a kidney problem and she was treated for that, to no avail. A subsequent ultrasound examination showed no signs of organ problems or cancer tumors. After being examined at three animal hospitals and by ten Veterinarians, it was finally determined that she was not able to keep up a blood supply; either her immune system was attacking her blood cells or her bone marrow was not making sufficient blood. There was no good treatment option that would bring her back to health, so we visited with her one last time. She gave me a couple of goodbye kisses and then we held her to the end. She will be cremated and her ashes spread around the yard.

18 August 2007

Pepper Is Gone

Pepper has been put to sleep. There were no good options for treatment, and her condition was not good. We held her to the end.

Pepper Update

The latest word is that she either has an auto-immune problem in which her immune system is destroying her blood, or a bone marrow problem in which her marrow is not producing blood cells. We will find out later today what the latest prognosis is, but we are preparing ourselves to say good-bye.

15 August 2007


Grandma and I are on tenterhooks. We're on pins and needles. We're edgy. We're mentally pacing up and down. Our Pepper is at the vets where they're trying to find out why she is so listless, and, to me, obviously in pain. She didn't eat last night or this morning. She has been on a special diet, after being tested a week or so ago for valley fever and deer tick disease. The only thing that showed up then was a possible kidney problem. We hope to know something positive this afternoon. Keep your fingers crossed for her.

14 August 2007


We had a real gully-washer last night. I woke up about 11:30 to the sight and sound of lightning and thunder, followed by rain on the skylight. The lightning continued to flash and the thunder to crash until about 2:30, then resumed around 3:30. Grandma slept through it, as she puts ear plugs in her ears. The ground was soaking wet when I went out, so I turned off the automatic sprinkler system. No sense watering ground that was already saturated. Now if I can just remember to turn it back on before everything dries up.

Happy Birthday, Sharon

We hope you are having a great day. I think the best photo of you is the one on your blog, riding a bicycle. (If anyone wants to see, it's at mimimiller.blogspot.com.) Just goes to show what a grandmother of 7+ can still do.

10 August 2007

Happy Birthday, Mark

Happy Birthday, Son. Hope you and Karen are having a good time in New York.

05 August 2007

I've Been Workin' On The Railroad

One summer during my college years, I took a job with The New York Central Railroad on a signal crew. We were mostly college kids and on our first day, we built up our sagging muscles by emptying out a gondola car of sand. The rest of the summer was spent digging deep holes for a line of telephone poles along a new switch-over connecting the Main Line to the North Shore Line. It was hard work in the hot, humid New York summer, but we were given enough breaks to replenish our water (and beer) supply.

One day, one of the gang brought a large basket of home grown cucumbers. On our break, we dug into the basket. I can still remember how cool they tasted and how refreshing they were. They certainly slaked our thirst. Today, the sight of a large green cucumber brings back the memory.

29 July 2007

Growing Up

Rick Watson's blog (Life 101) yesterday struck a chord with me. I remember being a thorn in my parents' sides when I was growing up. I had written a poem a few years ago that hints at it, so decided to share it:

Our Triumph
by Robert H. Miller

Sometimes there are
When the moon is low overhead
And stars begin to almost-shine
That I walk paths
Grown over with the brambles
And tangle
Of cob-web clouded thoughts
Down forgotten vignettes
That played themselves out
So many ages ago
Yet flash and flutter
For encore after encore
In the blink of a thought.

It has been a long way coming to Now.

For the first part,
They led us by the hand.
But we wore them out
Keeping us from the waste-land on either side.

Then they were content to watch
And call a warning
When a bramble would catch and tear,
And the hurt became alone.
Guided only by the shrugging shoulders of inexperience,
We bled,
And broke ourselves on boulders
Suddenly thrust up by fate’s fantasy.

Garments rent, bleeding, blistered,
Yet erect we stand
Proudly viewing this, our triumph -
To have made our individual paths
To Now.

What Tomorrows lie in ambush
That we have not stood up to
And beaten down
Strengthened and encouraged,
We look at moon and stars and Future
And slip on sandals
For the grassy plain ahead.

09 Jan 1963

21 July 2007

Happy Birthday, Bert

Happy birthday, Bert. Tante Shirley and I wish you a very merry time with lots of kuchen und bier. (Next time, open your eyes.)

12 July 2007

My Accident

While going through the preparations for a colonoscopy earlier this week, I fainted and hit my head on the bathtub. The paramedics were there quickly and took me to the hospital which is less than a mile away. Not too much later a plastic surgeon sewed me up - 12 stitches - and my regular doctor came in to see how I was. He signed me up for the overnight observation ward in case other symptoms showed up. By morning, my forehead was swollen and I had the beginnings of two black eyes. (Actually, they were red and green and blue and yellow and purple.) It won't be until next Monday before some of the stitches will be removed. Until then, I'm limiting my personal appearances.

It turns out that fainting is not uncommon when going through the preparations, but we didn't know that. So my word of warning to anyone planning to have a colonoscopy is to beware of the possibility of fainting. Ask your doctor.

04 July 2007

In Olden Times

I started jotting down some things I remember from my youth, like radio shows, comics, early TV shows, etc. The radio list started to get out of hand, so I thought I'd better publish the list before I ran out of paper. Here it is, and you're welcome to add to it:
Lum 'n Abner; Fibber McGee and Molly; Amos 'n Andy; Jack Benny with Mary Livingston, Mel Blanc, Dennis Day and Eddy "Rochester" Anderson; Fred Allen and the Allen's Alley Gang; George Burns and Gracie Allen; Red Skelton; Nat Cole Trio; Hoagy Carmichael; Hank 'n Herb, the Two Old Cronies; Lone Ranger; I Love A Mystery; Green Hornet; Edward McHugh (gospel music); Stella Dallas; Just Plain Bill; Abie's Irish Rose; Our Gal Sunday; One Man's Family; The Shadow; Edgar Bergen; Bob Hope; Mr. Keen, Tracer of Lost Persons; Mr. District Attorney; Tales of the New York State Police; Jack Ross and the WHAM News.

We had a floor model Philco radio that picked up WHAM, the 50,000 watt, clear channel station in Rochester, NY. (When I was in college in Stillwater, Oklahoma, we could listen to WHAM from time to time.) I always liked to hear Jack Ross deliver the news; he had a deep baritone voice. He didn't mince words or get into a lot of opinions or analysis, just reported. Once through the news; no telling us what he was going to tell us, then tell us, then tell us what he told us. No ticklers about what was coming up, just straight reporting. To bad they don't teach that in journalism schools today. Just imagine how many words and how much time could be saved with straight out reporting. It boggles the mind!

25 June 2007

In Other Words

Anent the high humidity in our house since we turned on the swamp cooler:

"Holy humidity, Batman", exclaimed Robin.

"Leapin' lizards, Sandy, it sure is muggy in here", said Little Orphan Annie to her dog.

"I believe it is rather watery in these parts", said Tom Swift fluidly.

"Everyding is thamp", said Professor Spooner.

And so it goes.

Anyone care to contribute?

24 June 2007

Leapin' Lizards, Sandy, It Sure Is Muggy

Friday evening, there was a power outage, and when the power came back on, our air conditioner didn't. By Saturday morning when a repair crew could get here, they discovered one of the control modules was shot. Since they couldn't get repair parts or a new AC unit until Monday, they helped me get the swamp cooler up and running. I hadn't turned it on since about 2000, but it started right up. A while later, I noticed the air was hot and a lot of water was pouring off the roof, so I went up to take a look. Seems that the water pan had corroded and water was leaking out the bottom as fast as it was coming in. So I spent the next 2 or 3 hours trying to get it repaired well enough too hold water at least until Monday. Grandma went to the local Home Depot for me and brought back some roofing cement to plaster on the bottom, but it didn't hold up. The next step was to seal a piece of plastic in the tray, which worked. All of this while working on the roof in the hot sun with a temperature in the 100s. Not something I'd recommend to anyone. So this morning we woke up to 73 degrees in the house and enough humidity to make puddles. But at least we're not baking, and the swamp cooler is still working.

21 June 2007

Hot Enough For Ya?

According to my physical, blood work and dental cleaning this week, I'm in great shape, but last night almost did me in. Walt Whitman wrote "Out of the cradle endlessly rocking...", but here it was "Into the inferno endlessly turning" as our air conditioner had quit on us after bringing the temperature UP to 85. We called a repair service and they came right out to get it going, and when the repairman left, all was in working order. HOWEVER, a while after he left (around 8 or 9), the unit stopped bringing in the cold and brought in the warm. So we tossed and turned all night, catching the sandman for a few (darned few) winks. The great part was that the repair company was here before 7 this morning to find the true cause - a bad fan motor. Right now, all is well and the temperature is slowly dropping into the comfortable range. Yesterday, the official temperature was over 110, and today it's forecast to reach within a degree or two of the record of 115. So we count as one of our blessings the repair company - aptly named Cold Blue.

They're Engaged!

Congratulations to Jeanna and Chris on the announcement of their engagement! We'll pack our bags as soon as we know where and when the wedding will be.

16 June 2007

Happy Birthday, Unc

Happy birthday, Uncle Henry. 96 and still going strong! Congratulations.

15 June 2007

Working, Part 1


Fred, my brother, took a job in Batavia, NY selling the Saturday Evening Post from door to door. He received about 5 cents for each issue sold. The magazine was published weekly. The profit picture was so enticing I decided to begin my career as a door-to-door salesman also. That was in the winter of 1940-41 when I was 9 years old. There were no child labor laws that could keep me off the streets and away from those 5 cent profits. As I recall, winter set in shortly after the beginning of my career, and the ensuing cold weather and snow put an end to it, quite abruptly. What the labor laws couldn’t do, the weather did.

Working, Part 2


While attending Monroe High School in Rochester, NY, I found employment at Bowker’s Dairy on South Clinton Avenue, near the corner of Meigs Street. My brother, Fred, also worked there. Bowkers made their own ice cream and sold it in bulk as well as across the counter in an ice cream parlor. That’s where we labored. It was probably the best place I could ever have dreamed of working, especially when the manager told us we could eat as much ice cream as we wanted. He didn’t know our capacity. Some days we would stand by the ice cream machine and eat as fast as it would be poured into dixie cups. Many times we were told to go back out front and wait for customers so they could make dixie cups instead of just feeding us. I still remember how good that ice cream tasted fresh from the mixer.

I worked at the counter first. It is quite a trick to hold four cones and fill them with single or double dips without crushing one or two cones. It’s also quite a trick to keep customers happy when they have to wait their turn and you have to remember who came in ahead of who. After serving my apprenticeship at the cone counter, I was moved to the soda and sundae counter, where I had to learn all the recipes. “A Black and White Sundae is 1 scoop vanilla, 1 scoop chocolate, 1 squeeze chocolate syrup on the vanilla, 1 spoon of marshmallow cream on the chocolate, topped with whipped cream.” “A Cherry Soda is 1 scoop vanilla, 3 squeezes cherry syrup, fill the glass with soda water while stirring with a spoon.” That sort of thing. If we made a mistake, we would set it aside and eat it later when there were no orders waiting to be made up.

Most of us were High School students working after school and on weekends, but we always wanted time off for certain things like an important basketball game or to take a girl to the movies. That cost 25 cents at the Clinton Theater just down the street.

One time, Fred and his friend, Doug, and I picked up our pay, then headed to Batavia Downs to watch the horse races. The manager wanted us to work, but we refused. I think that was the beginning of the end of our employment at Bowkers. It had been fun. Many of our classmates hung out there after school. There was a juke box and we played our favorite songs, like “Music, Maestro, Please” or “Ahab the Arab” or “Moon Over Miami.” Great songs. And only a nickel per.

06 June 2007


Now that the morning temperatures are in the 70s, we have a new routine. After feeding the girls, Grandma and I go for our walk, then home for breakfast and the morning news. We were waiting until we had devoured the news and our gruel before venturing out. Summer is nice but it's difficult to think about walking any other time than first thing.

I have my annual physical this month, so I told our Doctor I'd try to get into shape by then. That means doing nothing different, because I think I'm in good shape now considering the shape I'm in. My weight is fairly steady, moving up and down within a 2 or 3 pound range. Grandma is a good cook, so our diet is sound. And walking is good for the cardiovascular system. The only problem is that my cataracts are beginning to come out of hibernation; I was told over 35 years ago that they were starting. Probably by this autumn I'll need to have them checked for surgery. All in all, not bad for a guy about to become 76 years old.

04 June 2007

Today's Quote

"A happy life consists not in the absence, but in the mastery of hardships."

~ Helen Keller

03 June 2007


We are just recovering from the news about the tainted pet food coming from China when this story appeared in the morning paper:

"Chinese firms cornering global market for vitamins
"If you pop a vitamin C tablet in your mouth, it's a good bet it came from China. Indeed, many of the world's vitamins are now made in China.
"In less than a decade, China has captured 90 percent of the U.S. market for vitamin C, driving almost everyone else out of business.
"Chinese pharmaceutical companies also have taken over much of the world market in the production of antibodies, analgesics, enzymes and primary amino acids. According to an industry group, China makes 70 percent of the world's penicillin, 50 percent of its aspirin and 35 percent of its acetaminophen (often sold under the brand name Tylenol), as well as the bulk of vitamins A, B12, C and E."

The article goes on to report some of the suppliers are "sloppy bucket shops" with no oversight. Sure is scary news.

21 May 2007

Quote of the Day

From Ancestry.com:

Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are."

~ Bernice Johnson Reagon

14 May 2007

Burma Shave

I received one of those e-mails that has been spinning around the Internet for several years about the old Burma Shave signs that used to line the highways and byways of this great country. The e-mail listed a bunch of the signs, but neglected to list my very best favorite. I don't know where or when I spotted it, but it has stayed with me ever since. For those too young to have ever seen any, they were a series of five small signs - about 8" by 24" - that contained verses about driving on the first four, then the last was the Burma Shave ad. So here's my favorite:
Famous last words
About lights that shine:
If he won't dim his,
I won't dim mine.
Burma Shave.

Take heed all you drivers!

By the way, I never knew anyone who used Burma Shave.

Saturday Feast

On Saturday, Grandma and I went to Muze Lounge for Crawfish Etouffe. We had first had it during one of our RV trips to Louisiana, and have kept looking for it ever since. Muze Lounge is owned by the same people who owned Foster's Seafood restaurant, now closed. They received an offer from an out-of-state bank that they couldn't refuse, so closed and moved their staff and menu to Muze. We had eaten dinner there on Thursday with our friends, the Painters, so made reservations for the Crawfish special. Every few years, they order fresh Crawfish to be flown in. It seems like about four years since they last had it. The good news is that Grandma was not bothered by an outbreak of hives, so we know she can eat the Etouffe without worrying. We hope she is getting over her sensitivity to food, but we continue to be vigilant.
The Etouffe was served in a large bowl; a layer of rice smothered with Crawfish then all drowned in a mildly spicy sauce. My mouth waters just thinking about it.

09 May 2007

The Finished Paint Jobs

At last, the vanity and laundry cabinets have been painted. So here are the results. Of course, the photos don't do the job justice, so you'll just have to see them for yourselves.

Being Older

Corine sent me an e-mail that mentioned a bunch of things that us older folks would remember, but might be a surprise to the young 'uns. That started me on a mental journey back to the 30s and 40s, this is what I wrote:

"To all you young 'uns, being born in 1931 meant no Little League; we played baseball in the street with a ball that was showing string through the ratty cover. Everyone was on the lookout for cars so we could clear the way. We were lucky if we owned a glove, so when we up to bat we loaned our gloves to the fielders. In the fall, we played in the leave piles at the curb, until they were re-raked and burned; anyone remember the smell of burning leaves? During the war (that's World War II), we learned how to take oleomargarine and mix in a capsule of coloring to make it look like butter; my Father said after the war that he didn't want another stick of margarine in the house, so we had butter from then on. Anyone remember Victory Gardens? Or chasing the iceman's horse and wagon, hoping for a sliver of ice to suck on? We had a milk box by the side door where the milkman would pick up the empty bottles and leave the fresh milk; the cream would be at the top of the bottle. In the winter, the milk would start to freeze and sometimes pushed the bottle top right off the bottle. I suppose all this would make a good blog. I'll have to collect my thoughts and see what comes up."

Now it's a new day and a new thought: Kemtone. Anyone remember Kemtone? It was the first of the water-based paints. We lived on Linden Street in Rochester, NY when my father came back from Wabnitz Hardware with a gallon of the paint. We painted the side room where my brother and I had our hobby tables. It was a robin's egg blue and had a strange odor. But the clean-up was with plain water. An amazing discovery. We don't think about the miracle of water-based paints these days, but back then, it truly was something revolutionary.

06 May 2007

Old Poem Found

Whoopeeeee! Thanks to Google, I've found the poem I've been looking for as I noted on March 22, 2006. I had some of the words wrong, that was the problem. The Poem was written by John G. Neihardt and published in the early 1910s. Here it is:


When I am dead and nervous hands have thrust
My body downward into careless dust;
I think the grave cannot suffice to hold
My spirit 'prisoned in the sunless mold!
Some subtle memory of you shall be
A resurrection of the life of me.
Yea, I shall be, because I love you so,
The speechless spirit of all things that grow.
You shall not touch a flower but it shall be
Like a caress upon the cheek of me.
I shall be patient in the common grass,
That I may feel your foot fall when you pass.
I shall be kind as rain and pure as dew,
A loving spirit 'round the life of you.
When your soft cheeks by perfumed winds
are fanned,
'Twill be my kiss ~ and you will understand.
But when some sultry, storm bleared sun has set,
I will be lightning if you dare forget.

05 May 2007

Gluecklich Geburtstag, Anna

Anna, wir hoffen du hast eine gluecklich Geburtstag, mit viele Kuchen.
Tante Shirley und Onkle Bob


Well, yesterday, I painted half the laundry room cabinet doors, plus the framework - two coats. So today, so far, I've put the first coat on the rest of the doors and sprayed the hinges. By tomorrow, everything should be put back together, and my indoor painting jobs will be over. For a long, long time, I hope. Photos will be forthcoming. Don't know when, but they'll be forthcoming.
We have two folding tables which I set up in half of the garage. The Aspire spends the night outside in the fresh air so the Escape is protected from the ravishes of the weather. I spread old sheets over the tables and on the floor to try to contain the mess. Using a spray can on the hinges fills the garage with fumes, so I do that last thing, then open the door a little to let the fumes wander through the neighborhood. The painter we had do the walls and ceilings used Dun Edwards paint, which I'm now convinced is much better than Behr from Home Depot. He had left us a gallon to use on the cabinets ("us" means me).
I'm content to do the painting as long as Grandma keeps cooking up those delicious meals.

22 April 2007

Happy Birthday, Big Brother

April 23, 1930, proud parents announced the birth of their first son, Frederick Arthur Miller.

April 23, 2007, brother Bob proudly wishes his big brother a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

16 April 2007


This guy/gal was caught just before he/she took off after raiding one of our feeders. He/she is a Gila Woodpecker, and shows up just about every day. This is the only photo I've been able to get so far.

09 April 2007


Rick Watson, at his Life 101 blog - http://dorahighschoolalumni.blogspot.com, wrote about Hummingbirds, so I thought I would show you all a photo of one of our four feeders, with a hungry visitor. We have four of these feeders, and it keeps me busy filling them. Three birds can feed at the same time. Mostly, we have Anna's Hummingbirds; the males have a bright red head when the light hits them, otherwise it looks black.

08 April 2007

Easter 2007

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow.
Because He lives, all fear is gone.
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because He lives.

(from the gospel music of Bill and Gloria Gaither.)


06 April 2007

Dr. Charles J. Kienzle

We have lost our revered family Doctor, Charles J. Kienzle, who died recently. He had been our doctor since we moved to Scottsdale in 1990. He was "Doc" to me and I was "Professor" to him; how he decided on that nickname is beyond me. He was a devout fly fisherman, tying his own flies to be used in waters all over the country. One time while he was sewing me up after some minor surgery, I asked him if he was using a fisherman's knot; he cracked up and had to take a minute to regain his composure.
I've decided to re-dedicate my poem "Deer River Revisited" to him.

Deer River Revisited

It wasn’t easy getting there;
Over fallen trees,
Frog-hopping rock to rock.
The many pockets of his vest
Held his gear.
He had to thread the rod
Through the bushes,
Taking care not to snag his leader.
He knew -
Somehow he just knew -
Where the best places were.
(We wonder still how he knew.)
The line always went to the right spot.
Was there a tell-tale flash of silver
That exposed the prey
Just before his cast?
We knew the concluding act
Long before the trout conceded the battle.
One more to the creel,
And one more,
And one again.
We envied his skill
As we shared the pan-fried trophies
By the campfire.

He’s gone now.

We’re left with the wonder
And the distant taste-sense
And the memory of the pleasure
Of his company.

Dedicated to Dr. Charles J. Kienzle,
may his creel always be full.

28 March 2007

Odd Jobs of Short Duration

Odd Jobs of Short Duration

Picking Worms
Back in the 50s, my brother, Fred, and his then father-in-law, Les, would make a few extra dollars by picking worms and selling them to bait stores. Our equipment consisted of a flashlight covered with red cellophane, an old coffee can and waterproof shoes. We would go to Locust Hill Country Club in the evening, after the sprinklers had been shut off and look for the worms. They were usually completely out of their holes, so we merely picked them up and dropped them into the coffee can. The groundskeepers didn’t mind as long as we stayed off the greens. We sold the worms for about 50 cents each, sometimes a dollar. The bad part was that our backs would be sore for a while after an evening of picking.

Another job in the 50s was working behind the counter at the Bingo hall on Scottsville Road. The first few games cost 10 cents, then there was a group of games for 10 dollars, then back to individual games for 10 cents. The group consisted of games like make an X, go all around the outside, fill the board, etc. The challenge was to collect all the dimes for the first game before someone won. Usually, the players would have 10 and 20 dollar bills out to pay for the 10 cent game, so we would have to change all the bills in a hurry. Sometimes the game would end before we finished collecting, and one or two of the players would try to move to another table to avoid paying. Another trick they tried was to ask for a bunch of boards, looking for certain numbers, then not decide which board(s) to use until after the first number had been called; they wanted to try to find a board with that number on it. We just wouldn’t let them play that game. After a few nights, we caught on to which players to watch. The room was usually smoke-filled, but that was in my smoking days so it didn’t bother me. Today, I wouldn’t go near the place.


Daughter Gail starts a short series of chemotherapy on Friday, so if you have any unused prayers, please let one loose for her.

26 March 2007

A Correction

Smitty, my buddy since 8th grade, read my blog and wondered if 1951 wasn't the year we both took jobs at GM Rochester Products Division, and I have to admit that he's right. I was off by a year. So much for memory retention.
What happened in 1951 was that he and I went to be interviewed for jobs at RPD by a friend of my parents, who hired us. Night shift. I was at the end of the assembly line where I made up boxes for the inspected carburetors, then packed them for shipment. Well, the night shift interfered with my social life, so I quit after about a week. Not too long after that, I went to work for Kasiner Hobbies, a local retail shop and wholesale distributor owned by Norm and Marie Kasiner.
Norm and another fellow, Bill Kashler, had started marketing their own line of model railroad passenger car kits in O and HO gauge sizes. One of my jobs was to pack the parts in the kits, which I did in between waiting on customers. A while ago I saw one of the kits for sale on eBay, so I bid on it. I won and paid through PayPal, but the seller never sent the kit. I sent him an email that he had sold his soul and reputation for less than 10 dollars. I subsequently heard from another person that she had been taken by the same guy for over $200, so I didn't feel too bad after that news. But I hated to have him get away with it.

25 March 2007

Daylight Savings Time

I’ve always had trouble with daylight savings time, so I’m very happy to live in Arizona where we don’t mess with our clocks.

In 1951, I took a job on the New York Central Railroad, working for the summer with a bunch of other college students on the signal gang. Of course, daylight savings time was in effect, and I knew that the railroad didn’t operate on daylight savings time, so that meant there was a difference of one hour between our clock and theirs. My father couldn’t drive me to the job site the first day, so I had arranged for my Aunt Evelyn to deliver me. It was to Genesee Junction, off Scottsdale Road near where Black Creek feeds into the Genesee River. Starting time was 8 a.m. railroad time, so I calculated that to be, because of the one hour difference, 6 a.m. on our clock. Being a Math major in college, I was absolutely sure of my calculations. Well, needless to say, I went the wrong way on the clock, so wound up waiting two hours to report for work to my new employer.

So I’m happy to live in a part of the world where I don’t have that kind of pressure anymore. Is it “spring forward, fall back” or “fall forward, spring back“; see what I mean? I remember a movie with Jack Oakie (remember him?) where he was trying to stay on the football team and had to pass the history exam. The big question he was having trouble with was when did Columbus discover America. So his friends came up with a rhyme to help him: Columbus sailed the ocean blue in fourteen hundred and ninety-two. So on the day of the test, after hours of practicing the rhyme, the instructor asked the big question: When did Columbus discover America? Proud as a peacock, he answered: Columbus sailed the deep blue sea in fourteen hundred and ninety-three. See what pressure can do to ones mind?

More photos of the new paint job

Except for the bathroom, all the walls are the same color. The small painting setting in front of the fireplace is the last watercolor painting I've done. The desk in the bedroom is where Grandma creates her beautiful necklaces and bracelets.

New chandeliers

The wall color here is the same in both the entry and the family room. The ceiling in the family room is the same color as the walls. That's Grandma's computer desk on the left.

New color in the vanity

These are before and after photos of our vanity. The cabinets were whitewashed oak and are now dark brown, but will be repainted to match the trim which is a sort of cream color. The old light bar has been replaced with a new polished chrome 5 light fixture. The wall color is the lighter brown used on the ceiling in the kitchen. The color changes depending on the light.

21 March 2007

The Fastidious Ebenezer Hill

The Fastidious Ebenezer Hill (an original essay by Granpappy)

Ebenezer Hill, or Mister Hill, as he was known to us who lived in these parts, occupied a one-room cabin that he said was built on land that belonged to his family since “way back when”. No one disputed the claim because none of us had ever been here way back then to see the cabin being built, or by whom. He was a very fastidious person, keeping the cabin and surrounding area clear of all dust and debris. At least, that was the story told from time to time, whenever his name crept into the conversation, or when Mister Hill came striding into view. No one of recent acquaintance had ever set foot in the cabin, so there were no eyewitnesses to the fact of the fastidiousness of his domicile. But eyebrows were raised at the mention of the claim.
I remember not too long ago that Jonathan Whitehall reported a close encounter of Mister Hill, stating that his fingers had the look of a permanent brown stain of nicotine and that he (Mister Hill) was surrounded by the stinking aura of burned tobacco. Jonathan, apparently, had seen Mister Hill without his usual formal grey driving gloves, a rare occasion indeed. And to catch the odor of anything other than his bay rum toilette water was a near miracle in itself. Everyone down at Brinkman’s General Store wondered if perhaps young Jonathan hadn’t dreamt the encounter. However, we were soon to learn the truth of the matter.
It was the following Saturday that Constable Pike walked into Oliver’s Barber Shop for his usual beard trim and haircut. When he entered, Constable Pike looked as though he was just about bursting with some kind of news, so it didn’t take Mr. Oliver long to question it out of him. The way it came out was that a group of men, acquaintances of Mister Hill, arranged to meet at Mister Hill’s cabin to discuss some kind of business proposition. Against Mister Hill’s wishes, several of the men began to smoke cigars inside the cabin. Despite the importance of the business being discussed, Mister Hill insisted that the gentlemen smoke their cigars outside. Well, as happens occasionally, one thing led to another and finally Mister Hill ushered them all out, but not before he had crushed their cigars in his sink. Needless to say, that left his hands stained, and cigar smoke permeating his clothing. Shortly thereafter, Mister Hill arrived in town to consult with Constable Pike about possible repercussions over the incident at his cabin. It was during that trip that young Jonathan had had his brief encounter with Mister Hill and had made his report to all and sundry. To top off the incident, Constable Pike, in response to further questions, admitted the he had accompanied Mister Hill to the cabin to ascertain the gentlemen had indeed left the area, and was delighted to report to one and all that the cabin was certainly kept in a fastidious manner. Needless to say, not a few were disappointed to find their suspicions laid to rest.

12 March 2007

Ah, Spring

Spring has sprung; da grass is riz.
I wonder where da boidies is.

Twice in the past week, I've seen a robin in our yard. Probably on its way north, as they don't spend the summers here. And all the frost-damaged trees and shrubs are showing green. We've been eating on the patio at noon since the temperature has been climbing into the high eighties. Good to have it warm this week so we can open the windows and air the house out. The painter has been here all last week, and plans to finish by Wednesday. I'll post some photos of our "new" house as soon as we get it all put back together.

27 February 2007

Being a Director

Shortly after we moved here, I was asked to become a Director of our homeowner's association, which I did. At that time, the homeowners had just taken over responsibility from the builder. I have served on the Board of Directors almost all of the years since. Recently, I checked on the past rosters to see how many people have been Directors. We are a community of 72 homes, of which 10 current residents have served. Some homeowners have lived here longer than I, but have refused to get involved except to complain about everything from the water temperature in the spa and pool to not enough gravel in their yard to their tree didn't get trimmed. It's amazing to see how petty some people can become.

Well, they'll have to get along without me to beat up on. Tomorrow is my last day as Director, as I have turned in my resignation. Yep, I'm done! For good! I've climbed out of the barrel. And I'm willing to bet that none of the complainers will volunteer to take my place.

16 February 2007

Chasing Ancestors

Grandma and I subscribe to Ancestors.com and use it just about every day. They have census records indexed up to 1930, and have begun transcribing ship's lists. I've been looking for the ships that brought my grandmother and grandfather here from Germany. My grandmother was about 7 when she, her mother and 2 sisters arrived; my grandfather was about 16 when he arrived accompanied, I believe, by his 13 year old brother. One clue is that the census records list the year they said they immigrated. To check the information, I logged onto Ancestry.com to find their records. Well, it wasn't that easy. First of all, they aren't indexed under their surname of Goebel; in 1910 and 1920, they used Gabel. And in the 1930 census, the transcriber listed them as Gorbel; I notified Ancestry about that error. (The one sister was listed in one record as Mangler, instead of Manzler.) To find the Gabels/Gorbels, I looked for their next door neighbor's record, then went directly to the image of the census sheet.

Now, in 1910, my grandmother said she had arrived in 1884 and her sister said 1882; in 1920, they said 1886 and 1885; in 1930, it was 1884 and 1885. (I'm sure that 1884 is too late, because their mother was married in February; I suspect 1882 is correct.) My grandfather was consistent at 1891, but his brother listed 1892 and 1894.

The ship's list aren't indexed prior to 1890, so I've been looking at the actual images, beginning with December 31, 1882 and working backwards. Right now, I'm back to 07 October 1882. My hope is that Ancestry gets their ship's list indexed before I go much further.

I haven't tried to find my grandfather's ship yet. I'll need to use Gabel and Goebel for his surname, and Heinrich and Henry as his given name. Hopefully, the transcriber will have read the information correctly. And his brother was Martin Heinrich Goebel in Germany, but was Fred Gabel over here.

That's what makes the research so much fun - to work through all the twists and turns to find the correct information.

11 February 2007

Frankie Laine

According to the morning paper, Frankie Laine has died. In the 40s, I went to one of his shows in downtown Rochester. I don't remember much about the show except that, when he was introduced, he came leaping onto the stage. It took him about two giant leaps to get from the wings to center stage.

05 February 2007


I write letters, lots of letters. Everyday. To family, to friends, to my homeowners association, to politicians, to governmental agencies, to the Editor. Letters pro this, that, or the other thing. Letters anti-whatever. Philosophical musings. Poetry. Anecdotes. Family history. You name it, I've written about it.

The only thing is - they're written in my head and not down on paper. So all these words of wisdom rattle around in my skull and only occasionally see the white of paper.

So to all you who decry my lack of correspondence, please note that the grammar is here waiting for release, and someday soon it may break free.

04 February 2007

A Tough Winter

The newspaper reported that January was the coldest since 1979. Just about all of our shrubs have been devastated by the freezing weather, especially the Bougainvilla. I'm anxious to get out there and start trimming the dead branches, but the correct thing to do is sit on one's hands until the new growth starts to sprout. That way, it's easier to determine where to cut. Actually, I'd like to replace all the Bougainvilla with anything that has less debris, like Banksia Rose, or Pyracantha, but Grandma likes the beautiful color.

The FBR Open (golf contest) was delayed the other day because of frost on the course. Must be tough on the golfers to have to sit and wait for Mother Nature.

Daughter Gail called this morning to report that her breast cancer surgery went VERY well, and that her husband had been out clearing the driveway of snow. He has received official notice of his retirement date - April 1 - so they are already listing all the places they'd like to visit.

We think we're out of winter now that the temperature is to hit in the 70s.

It's going to be a good year!

14 January 2007


During our trip to the Canadian Rockies last August, we were shown photos of the glaciers as they had been receeding over the years. Lots of mention of "global warming" to go along with the pictures. So the thing I wonder about is: why have I been covering our sensitive plants for the past month to protect against the frost, if there is global warming?

This morning it was 20 on our patio thermometer! In Scottsdale, AZ! In the Sonoran Desert!

How about global cooling?