06 December 2009


Some folks rant, others rave,
Some shudder, some look brave
As I convey my thought
On how Congress ought
To behave.

12 October 2009

A Son's Tribute To His Father

Charles Barnhart, brother to my wife, died on October 23, 2008. His son, Claude, writes a newsletter for the residents of the lake on which the family has a cabin. This is part of the article that Claude wrote last spring; it was lurking in a nook or cranny on my computer that I just ran into and thought it was worth sharing. Here it is:

“Fishing Bits and Bites”

Hello everyone I bet you are excited to get back out on the lake and do some fishing, me too. I have enjoyed some ice fishing with average success but am ready to get back in the boat. I am finding this years letter extremely difficult to write for one particular reason. As some of you may know I lost my fishing partner in October. My dad was a great angler and an even greater father. What makes him or any other person a great angler has nothing to do with expensive rods and reels, the latest electronics, or tackle boxes full of lures. To me it has to start with a passion for the sport. When you are just as happy if not happier that your son, daughter, or father caught more or bigger fish than you that day, or you go out fishing in the worst possible conditions imaginable, these are two examples of true passion for the sport. Another thing that is critical in becoming the best angler you can be is knowledge, you all know about reading in fishing magazines for the latest tips and tactics, I’m talking about the knowledge you get from other people. My father taught me so much about fishing as I was growing up, which I still use today in everyone of my fishing adventures, however as years moved on and certain aspects of angling changed, he was willing to listen, learn and adapt to change, that’s the making of a great angler. I could go on for hours and take up several pages of our newsletter with stories about my dad and I fishing, but I won’t. If my father was here today and he was going to make one comment to all of you, I think he would say “Take your kids fishing”. You will make so many great memories that are just irreplaceable, trust me I know. Fishing is a sport best shared with family and friends. In regards to the fish in our lake, the walleyes seem to be doing well. ... Thank you so much for listening to me share my views and opinions. Enjoy the lake and I wish you all success in your angling adventures in the years to come. I would like to dedicate this years letter in loving memory of Charles Barnhart. I love you dad. Claude Barnhart

23 September 2009

Senior Moments No More

Many of us have had that experience when someone's name momentarily slips our mind, or the word we are seeking has found a hiding place in our memory bank. We laughingly call it "a senior moment." Well, I was talking with a friend last night who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and pulmonary fibrosis, and has been taking morphine for the pain. During the conversation, he kept pausing, searching for the correct next work, and blaming the pauses on the morphine. So in honor of Large Edward, I'll start calling those pregnant pauses "morphine moments" from now on.

12 September 2009

Ah, Rain

I've been sitting on the patio this morning, reading the paper, eating breakfast and having a good cup of coffee. We had a thunderstorm roll through last evening, so got to see the lightning flashing and hear the thunder roll. The rain was a refreshing change from the drought-like conditions during this year's monsoon - or, should we say "non-soon" - for the lack of moisture. Storms here are hit-or-miss affairs. One part of the Valley can receive a torrential downpour and flash floods, while a short distance away, the ground is dry and parched. There was a flash flood in Oak Creek the other day, caused by a local 3" rainfall, that tore through a shopping area and "floated cars around like beach balls" as one witness described it. We have a Stupid Motorists law in Arizona that fines those drivers stupid enough to drive through flooded washes and are washed away, requiring risky rescues. So beware of the washes when driving in Arizona. You, too, could wind up on television as annother good example of a bad driver.

04 September 2009

Reading Assignment

Your reading assignment for this month is:

1. "Culture of Corruption" by Michelle Malkin.
2. Chapter 3 of "An Inconvenient Book" by Glen Beck.

Your test will be at the next election.

09 August 2009


A friend sent me an email with a bunch of World War II posters. I saved two because they reminded me of the fight we Americans are in to remain free. I’m not talking of the fighting going on in other parts of the world. No, I’m talking about the fight going on in this country between those Americans who want to keep their freedom and those politicians in Washington, D. C. who are trying to take our freedom away. The current issue is about Health Care. Americans should have the right to choose whether or not they want to buy a health care plan. However, our President and some members of Congress are proposing legislation that would mandate we participate in some form of health care. There goes our freedom of choice. How many more of these restrictions are we going to stand for? I’ve already written to President Obama and my Congressional Representatives to state my opposition to the proposal. Have you?

(Unfortunately, I can't find the posters.)

05 August 2009


In January 1996, Rev. Joe Wright was asked to give the opening prayer to the Kansas House of Representatives. His prayer stirred an uproar with some people in the building. Here is his prayer, so you can decide for yourself how controversial it was:

Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem. We have abused power and called it politics. We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, oh God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen.

04 August 2009

Under the Knife, Again

Last month, during my annual physical, the doctor pointed to a red spot on my shoulder that I hadn't noticed before, and said he would take it off and have it biopsied. So back the next week to go under the knife. It turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma, which is the least worrisome type of cancer. Today, he removed the rest of the cancer cells in the area. He asked if I wanted to see what he had removed and I quickly declined. I'm curious about some things, but not flesh and blood, especially mine!

28 July 2009

Words vs. Action

There are a bunch of emails being circulated around the Internet from people who are concerned with the direction our government is taking us - towards a socialistic state - and they all encourage the recipient to forward them to other friends. Well, it seems to me that sending out such messages should include a request to forward the message to the recipient's Congressional representatives and to our President, who all have email addresses. If we only "talk" among ourselves, our elected officials will never know how we feel about those issues. So next time you receive one of these messages, if you agree with it, send it on to Washington. If you disagree with it, write to Washington anyway and tell how you really feel about it. They may decide their jobs are in jeopardy and start to listen to the people who put them in Washington and who have the power to see that are replaced. Communicate!

24 July 2009


I’ve always liked hymns and Gospel music. I remember listening with my Mother to Edward McHugh sing hymns on the radio when I was a little boy. My favorite was “In The Garden”, which I think was his theme song. And then I remember that my brother and I sang in the choir of the Episcopal Church, probably when I was nine. We moved from Batavia right after I turned ten, and sometime later we joined the choir of the Emanuel Evangelical and Reformed Church in Rochester. I had a boy’s soprano voice and I especially liked “Angels We Have Heard On High” because of the soaring “Glo-o-o-o-o-oria” chorus. It was thrilling to me.

13 July 2009


I just finished reading “Teacher Man” by Frank McCourt, about his years teaching English in New York City High Schools. He encourages his students to write, write, write to help them understand themselves and the world around them. And I started thinking about his teaching methods and his insecurity about his ability to teach and I thought that we’re all teachers. We teach something to everyone we meet. We try to teach them about who we think we are, and they learn about who we really are.

I was a father to seven children at one time in my life, two came as step-children. I tried to teach them, using my parents, aunts, uncles and other adults as role models, but never felt completely comfortable in the role. They learned. They learned some examples of how not to be a father, along with some examples of good parenthood. They grew up under my usually heavy-handed style. They’re parents now, all but two, and they’ve had their turn at teaching their own, and I’m proud of them for the way they’ve handled themselves through all the twists and turns in their lives. And so the teaching continues, generation after generation. And I feel very lucky to have been there during their growth, and thank them for the things they taught me and are still teaching me. I’m sure they don’t think of themselves as teachers to their father, but they are and I’m proud of them for it.

05 July 2009

It was nice of North Korea to help us celebrate our holiday by shooting off fireworks.

28 June 2009


It was in 1948, after I graduated from High School, then turned 17, that I first wore glasses. Plastic rims. Prescription Ray-Ban sunglasses with a case that went on my belt. Over the years, I progressed to bi-focal lenses. Around 1970, the Ophthalmologist detected the first signs of cataracts in both eyes. Then on to tri-focal lenses, and the cataracts were slowly increasing. Last month, the left eye was operated on and a bi-focal lens was inserted, followed by lots and lots of eye drops, one of which I‘m still using. Last week, the right eye went under the knife, or whatever they use, and now the eye drop routine is in full swing. Sometimes, I can see clearly out of both eyes to work on the computer, sometimes only the left eye focuses. The Ophthalmologist said it’s only a matter of a few weeks for my brain to adjust to the new focused images on the retina. I hope so. I’ve read two large print edition books, and I’m looking forward to finishing a Zane Grey novel started before all these surgeries happened.

02 June 2009

My Left Eye

Last Wednesday, May 27th, a cataract was removed from my left eye and a bifocal lens was inserted. The total time in the facility was about an hour. No pain. So far, things are a little fuzzy in the morning, but distance vision improves during the day. I haven't had clear focus for reading until this afternoon, when things started to clear up a bit. The Opthomologist said that it could take 2 or 3 weeks for the lens to "settle in", so I'm not discouraged. In the meantime, if there is something I really want to read, I have an old pair of glasses from which I've removed the left lens.
The right eye cataract will be removed on June 24th.

20 May 2009


We have had our patio screened in against bugs and the sun. That should help keep the temperature down.

28 April 2009

Social Site For Seniors

According to the morning paper, there is now a social site for "seniors" to use in place of Twitter or Facebook. It's called Genkvetch, and was created by three people in their 60s who live in Florida. The number of people registering is growing by leaps and bounds. I haven't checked it out yet. Have you?

10 April 2009

The Olympics

The Olympics were held last week at Westminster Village and yours truly won two medals. I had entered Putting, Horseshoes and Billiards competitions. For Putting, we were given 3 practice putts on an artificial surface with 3 cups ranging in value from 1 to 5. Unfortunately, I scored zero. For Horseshoes, we each played best of three games. I lost the first match, but was told to pitch for the bronze medal, which I won. Then for Billiards, each contestant was given 5 shots, including the break. Winner was the person with the highest number of balls sunk; in case of a tie, the value of the balls was counted. Another resident and I had tied, but I won the play-off, so won the gold medal. All in all, everyone had a great time.

Canadian's Don't Want Us in Cuba

An excerpt from today's Toronto Globe and Mail:

Canadians aren't exactly tossing back celebratory mojitos at the prospect of Americans soon being able to travel freely to Cuba, an island many Canucks covet as their own.

In fact, recently introduced bills in Washington that recommend lifting the 46-year ban on U.S. citizens travelling to Fidel Castro's fief have many Canadians in a sweat that the island's laidback calm will be shattered once the Americans - typecast, fairly or not, as loud, crass vacationers - descend.

"I kind of like it being our own little island," said Randy Pryce, a Toronto-based theatre technician who just returned from an all-inclusive, four-star resort in Playa Costa Verde, north of Santiago. "[Lifting the ban on U.S. tourism to Cuba] will be good for their economy, but not for the people.

"As a tourist, it's really nice to go somewhere where everyone is treated equally. The Americans could change that. As tourists, they do have this built-in reputation as pushy and demanding. Plus, I think they'd be disappointed in what a four-star Cuban hotel is, as opposed to a four-star American hotel," said Mr. Pryce, adding their resort was 70 per cent occupied by Canadians.

08 April 2009

Change, For Sure!

There were many campaign speeches with lots of fluff and little substance - much ado about “change” was all. Now the “American People” have voted for a new administration with hopes that the new kids on the block can fulfill the promises made during all the campaign rhetoric. And what “change” have we seen so far? The administration is about this far from nationalizing the automotive industry and almost complete on nationalizing the banks. A new Secretary of the Treasury has been approved by Congress despite admitting to cheating on his taxes. Our new President has told North Korea not to do it again (launch a missile) or else we’ll have to talk about it some more at the United Nations; you can just feel the anxiety in North Korea over that threat. And he has told the world, including our enemies the Taliban, that we’re pulling out of Iraq, which gives them a time-line for preparing to take over the country.
I can hardly wait to see what shape this administration is going to leave for our children and grandchildren to pay for.

31 March 2009


Today is Ginger's 13th birthday. Her hind legs don't work too well anymore, so we carry her around. She does use her dog door herself during the night, if she needs to go out to potty. She has been on Prednisone and Tramidol because of her arthritis. Her front paws are deformed from the arthritis, but she is able to pull herself along, and she now gives us verbal signals when she wants to go somewhere else in the apartment, and when she's hungry. She lives from meal to meal and snack to snack. We have a mobile carrier when we need to take her to the Veternarian and she rides in it like a queen. She had her annual checkup last week and passed with flying colors, except for the arthritis. Good heart, strong mind. A loving and loyal companion.

12 March 2009

Clean as a Whistle

Well, I drank the 17 gallons of Trilyte, went through a case and a half of toilet paper (unscented), ran a life test of the flush mechanism of our toilet and now have as clean and shiny an intestine as a chrome plated grill on a chauffer driven Rolls Royce. All in preparation for a colonoscopy this morning. When the technition gave me the "gown" to put on, I told her about a comedian I had heard describing it as an apron. After the "procedure", the Doctor said all was well - just 2 small polyps and some minor diverticulitis, typical at my age. So I don't need to return for another 3 years. Yipee! It's not that the "procedure" is painful (I'm totally unconscious), but the thought of having to drink all that liquid turns my stomach (and other parts of my anatomy). But don't let me deter you; if you haven't had one by age 50, talk with your Doctor.

07 March 2009

It Wasn't The Pollen

The mini-trampoline and the Aloe Vera juice arrived yesterday, so Grandma and I are on the road to better minds and bodies. We tried out both during our visit to son, Mark, and his fiancee, Karen, last month. We spent a few days with them and their families, seeing the sights around Melbourne and Cape Canaveral, before driving to Tampa to visit our great-grandson, Chase, and his parents. When we arrived in Tampa, we were sneezing and sniffling, which we thought was caused by the pollen being blow around. Subsequently, we found we both had the flu, probably caught from the sneezing and coughing passengers on our flight to Florida. Then we did our share of coughing (but not sneezing!) on the flight back home. We spent the first week back home in our apartment, ordering our main meal by room service. We still haven't regained our full energy, but know it will happen soon. We think that trip will be our last by airplane for quite a few years to come.

10 February 2009

A Good Day, Sorta

Today, Grandma and I celebrated our 31st anniversary by having lunch at Macaroni Grill. A glass of Riesling and an Italian feast - what could be better! Then off to the movies to see "Frost/Nixon", a movie by Ron Howard of Opie fame. You do remember Opie and the Andy Griffith Show, don't you? We arrived home to find Ginger at her usual place by the front door. This morning, she had an upset stomach and we weren't sure we would be able to go anywhere, but she recovered quickly. And I had a large envelope from the Green Free Library in Wellsboro, PA with newspaper articles about an Aunt and Uncle who were buried there and about other members of their families. I haven't had a chance to digest it all, but I'm sure it will help fill in some blanks in my family history (www.Ancestry.com, then look for the "Miller/Mann/Goebel/Steinmetz" family tree).

The "Sorta" part of the good day is really sad for me because I finished the last pages of Rick Watson's book "Remembering Big" and won't have another of his to read until he writes it and gets it published. (Hurry, Rick!) It's a great book and it brought back lots of pleasant memories from my past lives. I highly recommend it.

03 February 2009

A Man's World - UPDATE

Leona Helmsley went to prison for failing to pay back taxes. Tom Daschle gets a Cabinet post for failing to pay his. Who says it's not a man's world?

UPDATE: Earlier today, Daschle withdrew his name from consideration. What a patriot! But will he volunteer for a room in federal prison? Stay tuned.

17 January 2009

Art Workshop Update

Thursday, about 7 people showed up, so I gave a short demonstration. Some were already working on a painting before I finished. That's good; they were familiar with watercolors. The Activities Coordinator tried to talk me into taking responsibility for the group, but I refused. I only want to paint. I did offer to share my knowledge with people, if they ask, but I won't act as their teacher. I was able to finish a painting of some penguins that I've been working on for 4 or 5 weeks. Here it is.

11 January 2009

Our New Art Workshop

Thursday was the first session of our new art workshop group. There were about 14 people there, all of whom had painted in years past, most in oils. Because Westminster Village doesn't allow the use of the chemicals needed, oil painting is not allowed, so most of the attendees agreed to try painting with watercolors. Janet, one of the Activities Coordinators, and I tried to give some basic information about the medium, and I was talked into giving a demonstration next week. I've prepared a fairly simple drawing of Poinsettia, one that I used for a Christmas card design in years past. I plan to have one finished painting to display, and then go step by step to demonstrate how easy it is to use watercolors. We'll see how it goes. Wish me luck!

01 January 2009

Happy New Year

Grandma and I wish one and all a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.

And congratulations to Rick Watson for downing that anchovy. (See link to Life 101 at the right.)