Tag Archives: learned behavior
For anyone who has read a word about me, you know golf is one of my lifetime favorite activities. I have spoken about it in countless posts, I have shared stories about my favorite 4some, and I have talked about the DIVES I have stayed in just to play. I have admitted to sucking at golf, and being lucky at golf. I have brag about this, that, and the other about golf, and have claimed that I have never not enjoyed a round of golf. But one of the best memories of golf came from the time I played with Allison, the 1st time she ever played golf on a real course using real everything. Today I will share that story.
But before I go any further I need to tell Cari, no matter why her mom says, her mom is one of the most competitive people I have ever encountered in my life. She plays Yahtzee with the same go for the neck, killer attitude you do, she play’s Monopoly like she is a slum lord, and her days playing field hockey and Lacrosse, well, to say “she took no prisoners” is a vast understatement. But and this is a very big butt, she was a true sports person, she always played clean and with respect. Sure she would try to decapitate her opponent, but she did so with a smile, and at the end of the game she was the 1st to shake hands and congratulate her opponent. Win or Lose, but like me she has always enjoyed winning more.
For as anal as I am you would think that I would have written down the date this event took place, I do know where it took place, I know the week it took place, I just don’t know the year it took place. The location was Phoenix, Arizona. The time frame; it was the week between Christmas and New Year; we were in Phoenix because Steph had to either attend a conference or make a presentation at a Conference. I believe we flew out to Phoenix on the 26th of Dec and returned either the 1st or 2nd of January. I know that Steph was only involved in her work related event for 2 or 3 days at the most. Because the trip was filled with day trips to the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, Scottsdale, and we had a ton of fun and I am extremely happy that the car had unlimited mileage. Gosh here I go again 4 hundred words of setup.
This round of golf was only 1 of 2 times we played golf together, and it was the 1st time. I want to believe that it was a Tuesday because the golf course was not crowded, which would allow Allison to spray the ball all over the place, and there wouldn’t be anyone behind us bitching about our slow play.
We were joined on the 1st tee by a single; I explained that it was Allison’s 1st round of golf on something other than a putt putt course, and that I expected the round to be relatively slow. He introduced himself and said he would rather play a slow round with folks than a quick round by himself. Having played as a single before, I knew the feeling. It turns out the guy was slightly better than me, and quite cordial. If offered advice when asked, and didn’t step on my toes at all during the round. He kept an eye on the ball flight and had an eye almost as good as mine. Because of this Allison only lost 2 or 3 balls the entire round. Of course this doesn’t count the balls in the water, we could all see the splash then, and for a beginner this was a MAJOR victory. And the more she played that day the better she got. She was upbeat, the picture shows us at the 1st tee, she maintained that smile the entire round. And like a true golfer she cussed (as well as someone not used to cussing at that age could) a bit when she screwed up, I was so proud of her. She truly nailed a few shots, enough so I thought if she ever gets even half way serious about this game, she will kick my butt. It was clear she was having a good time, and we chatted the entire time about a variety of things not all golf related.
The Pièce de résistance came on the 18th and final hole of the round. Allison was giddy and getting tired, she had found out that 5 hours in the Arizona sun (even if it is a dry heat) will wear your ass out. Still smiling, still joking, still having a good time, she knew this was the final hole for the round. She didn’t many any wild proclamations, she wasn’t bragging, she was looking forward to that cold soda that was only 400 yards away. Allison tee’d up the ball for her final drive of the day. Driving hadn’t been her strong suit, (hell, get in a car with her and you can see it still isn’t her strong suit). But she cracked her best drive of the day, smack down the middle of the fairway, and long. Lord the girl was an athlete, and now she was smug because she out drove me. My second shot was fair, short of the green, but close enough that I was happy. Allison’s 2nd shot was as ugly a shot as you can imagine, rolling maybe 30 yards dead left, her ball came to rest near the trunk of a small bush like vegetation, but she had room to take a stance, and she again hit the crap out of the ball, her third shot hitting short of the green but with plenty of top spin the ball rolled up and to the very back edge of the green at least 45 or so feet from the flag. I dumped my 3rd shot, and my 4th was about 10 feet from the flag. I walked over to Allison gave her a kiss for getting on the green, and helped her line up her totally impossible putt. This was a 45 + foot putt, downhill all the way with at least 3 major breaks before reaching the cup. We discussed it for about 15 seconds or so, and she lined it up. My only real advice was DON’T HIT IT TO HARD! Allison struck the ball like a pro, I knew immediately that the ball had the right pace, and it was amazing to watch. You could have put any PGA player in that position, and he would have had a 1 in a 1000 chance of making that putt. OK OK maybe 1 in a 500 chance. But this was Allison’s 1st round of golf; she barely knew which end of the putter to hit the ball with. She hit the 1st break point perfectly, and was cruising towards the 2nd break point still on track and still at perfect speed, her ball made the next break, and was destined for the hole, it just had to maintain its speed, and damn if it didn’t, that ball dropped dead in the center of the cup. Allison who had been walking kinda behind the ball, immediately dropped her putter, and when into wawa wawa wawa chicken dance, giggling, laughing, prancing all over the place. The guy who had been playing with us all day just turned to me and said “I can see who the golfer is in your family,” In a laughing tone, walked over and shook Allison’s hand and congratulated her, then sunk his 15 birdie putt. I on the other had 2 putted for a double bogey. Yes we knew who the golfer was in the Hamilton family.
Below is the scorecard from that round of golf, it’s one of a dozen or so scorecards I cherish, but none more. I am 64 years old and during the course of my life I have played over 1200 rounds of golf, of all of those rounds this was by far and away my favorite. Allison’s par has the box around it, and I don’t remember for even a second why certain holes have x’s below them.
As always if you have any questions, comments or concerns please feel free to share or ask them. Take care, Bill
I was sitting here reading mail, taking my morning medicines, and thinking about finishing my weekly “How I Feel” post when I came across this Memorial Day Story (via an AOL Mail from a good good friend). Being the sap I am, and the proud veteran I am. I felt the need to share this with you. I didn’t write it, I don’t care who did (thought I would love to give them credit) I don’t know or even care if it’s true, it just made my heart feel good as I read it. Hopefully you get a warm and fuzzy as you read it. — Take care, Bill
A Memorial Day Story
As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open. The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch the old gentleman from about twenty-five feet away. I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man. The old gentleman saw him coming too, and took a few steps towards him.I saw the old gentleman point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac Escalade. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him yell at the old gentleman saying: ‘You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.’ And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot. I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine.
He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming and stood straight and, as I got near him I said, ‘Looks like you’re having a problem.’ He smiled sheepishly, and quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. Looking around, I saw a gas station up the road, and I told the old man that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went inside. I saw three attendants working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay them if they could follow me back down and help him. The old man had pushed the heavy car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.
When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, ‘What outfit did you serve with?’ He said that he served with the First Marine Division at Guadalcanal Pelieliu, and Okinawa. He had hit three of the worst ones, and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine come on and saw the mechanics lower the hood.
They came over to us as the old man reached for his wallet, but was stopped by me. I told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card. He still reached for the wallet and handed me a card that I assumed had his name and address on it, and I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again and I said my goodbye’s to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man. I said I wanted to pay for the help, but they refused to charge me.
One of them pulled out a card from his pocket, looking exactly like the card the old man had given to me. Both of the men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given me. I said I would and drove off.
For some reason I had gone about two blocks when I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it for a long, long time. The name of the old gentleman was on the card in golden leaf and under his name was written:
‘Congressional Medal of Honor Society.’ I sat there motionless, looking at the card and reading it over and over. I looked up from the card and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in his presence.
Remember, as we approach another Memorial Day, OLD men like him gave you, and all of us, FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them. America is not at war. The U.S. Military is at war. America is at the Mall. If you don’t stand behind our troops, PLEASE feel free to stand in front of them! Remember, Freedom isn’t Free. Thousands have paid the price, so that you can enjoy what you have today.
LET’S DO THIS: JUST 19 WORDS:
GOD OUR FATHER, WALK THROUGH MY HOUSE AND TAKE AWAY ALL MY WORRIES; AND PLEASE WATCH OVER AND HEAL MY FAMILY; AND PLEASE PROTECT OUR FREEDOMS, AND WATCH OVER OUR TROOPS, WHO ARE DEFENDING THOSE FREEDOMS. AMEN
As always I am open to your questions, concerns and comments. Take care, and have a safe Memorial Day. Bill
On Sunday Easter April 20, 2014, I reaffirmed my faith in God, and that his son Jesus died for me, so I would be forgiven for my sins and poor choices. It wasn’t an easy choice, yet it was very easy. It only took me 50 years to get to this point.
I was born on October 25, 1949, the 1st child and son of William and Ila Hamilton. I was the 1st of 5 boys and one girl. Warren, my third brother died of what was termed “crib death” before he had a chance.
As a child I remember the “church” being a very important part of our growing family, I remember having cloths that I only wore on Sundays for church. I remember before Easter each year we kids would always get a new outfit for Easter Sunday service. I remember going en mass to church each Sunday. I also remember going to Sunday school, I remember going to Sunday evening services, and I remember going to Wednesday evening services. Also if there were a youth sponsored event, you can count on the Hamilton’s kids being there. If the church had a gathering the family attended in mass, and there were no excuses.
This practice of church attendance started before I had memories of such things. But I know I was a regular in Church in: Baltimore MD, Easton MD, Reynoldsville PA, Norwalk CT, York PA, Dover PA, Shelbyville KY, and of course Grandpa’s in Waynesburg KY. I was baptized into the Southern Baptist Church, in a creek not far from the Pilot Baptist Church (before my 10th birthday).
The Southern Baptist Church was the only religious organization I was even remotely aware of until I was 15 years old or so. Going to a Sunday church service was Hell on earth. The preacher stood at the pulpit and screamed and pointed his finger at you and told you all the reasons you were going to hell, his voice carried for miles, his rant was always the same. Each Sunday he picked out your sin and screamed at you until he was blue in the face. The message was always the same, you are going to hell, and you’re going for this reason or that, and the only way you could get to heaven was through the church, and it was a message about being at and in the church so your fellow brothers and sisters could see you for the Christian you were, that without the protection and guidance of the church you were on a direct course to hell. But by attending church at each opportunity you would be graced with access to God and Heaven. The message when on still ranting that while Jesus may have died for our sins, he only did so for those that came to church to prove they were worthy. This was the message that I received from every service until I was about 14. To this day I don’t ever remember hearing a preacher speak (during this phase of my life) in a quiet tone, speaking of God’s love and the joy one receives from that love. The pulpit was a place where anger and wrath, a place where condemnation was spewed. At this point in my life I was tired of the church, tired of hearing what an evil person I was, and tired of the formula for being saved. But I couldn’t do anything about it because it was a family event. Dad taught Sunday School (or so I have been told). Being at church was a requirement not an act of Joy.
But it all came to a stop when we moved to Louisville KY. I do remember the 1st couple of months of going in mass, but the Church wasn’t convenient to our home, and soon as a family we stopped attending. I am sure there were other factors involved, but for me to even speculate would be pure fiction on my part. But I remember the great relief I felt, no more screaming, no more blame, no more belittling, that was a pure Joy. In my mind I knew there had to be a gentler God, that Jesus was a kind soul that lifted your spirit. But I thanked God for putting the family in a position were going to Church was not convenient.
Our house in Louisville was located about 150 yards from active railroad tracks. For the next 2 years, whenever I needed alone time I would go walk the tracks. During these walks I would get my head straight, I would sort out what I needed to sort, and I would pray. I prayed for family and friends, I prayed for good results on upcoming tests (those never came thru until I learned to study), having recently being quite ill prayed that didn’t happen again anytime soon (that one was answered), and I just spoke to God and Jesus, addressing each or both depending on the conversation. Sometimes these conversations were in my head, but usually I spoke out loud in a conversational voice. It was a comfort to speak to Jesus.
During these walks I watched a new Baptist Church being built right on the other side of the tracks from where I lived, and that I could access the Church by existing pathways, and it was no more than 7 or 8 easy minutes away by foot. One summertime afternoon I got the courage up to visit that Church. I was ready to become an active member of a Church. This place was new and fresh, my memories of the sermons I heard were not as pressing as they had been a couple years earlier, and I really wanted to join a group of fellow Christians. I walked into the Church and followed the signs to the Pastor’s office. I gently knocked on his open door, and asked to speak to him. He smile, bid me to enter, introduced himself and asked all the appropriate questions about me. We were all smiley faced. Then he said where do you go to church now. I told him that I had not actively gone to church in 2 years, but that I had spent that time talking to God and Jesus right there on those tracks behind his church. And like every other Baptist Preacher I had or remembered hearing he when right into the spiel that as a Baptist you needed to be at church every week, you needed to be seen there, and you needed those in attendance to witness your love of God and Jesus. I looked at him and said something like “no sir, I disagree; I believe God and Jesus listen to me as I walked the tracks.” His face got red, his voice got louder, and it was like being back in the country. His finger pointing and screaming just exploded. I got up and walked from his office with him screaming at me as I did. I left the church, and I walked away from the church for the next 50 years.
While I was away I visited a variety of churches and listened to a variety of sermons. None really set with me. Sometimes it was the rituals, sometimes it was the message, but mostly it was the people in the church. As Forrest would say “Stupid is as Stupid does.” I have seen a lot of hypocrites at the churches I have visited over the years, and these were all reasons which in my mind justified my feelings. That I believed strongly in God and Jesus, but I didn’t believe or trust the church to have my soul’s best interest at heart.
But this started to change about 5 years ago, my wife had joined the First Presbyterian Church of Brandon Florida. Kicking and screaming she got me to attend more than just the Christmas and Easter services. I had the opportunity to listen to the Pastor Rebecca and the Associate Pastor Tim. They preached of a caring loving God that didn’t find fault, who didn’t activity seek out fault in his followers, and his son who is nothing but Love and Kindness. There was never a raised voice, always a warm smile. And from where I sat it was genuine. They did care. Over the next 5 years I believe I have met about 100 different people, actually closer to 200, and to a one, they are what I have always expected a Christian family to be. The message preached each Sunday is of a loving caring God, the scriptures are to the point and make you think and feel. Rebecca has moved on to preach at a church closer to her children and grandchildren, and First Presbyterian has an interim Pastor Lucian, whose message is similar and as powerful as Rebecca or Tim. These three have delivered the message without screaming, or pointing fingers, or blaming the fellowship of the Church. They along with the members of the church have made me feel the way I thought I should feel at church. My belief in God and his Son has never wavered. This church made me feel I belonged not only to the Lord but to the church.
I had decided to join the Church before I found out my end of retirement date had been pushed forward. At first I was hesitant to join because I didn’t want to appear to be the Church going hypocrite I had seen all too many times during my search. But I overcame that because of the folks that make up this Church, and I knew in my heart, it was where I belonged. April 20, 2014 I stood before the congregation and reaffirmed my faith.
As always thank you for taking the time to read my post, if you have any questions, concerns or comments please feel free to ask, I will answer. Take care, Bill
Good Morning, and Happy Mother’s Day
Each morning as I take my meds, I sit and respond to the many notes, comments, posts, or other mails that fill my in box like pedals of (fill in the blank). I respond directly and on target to what I have read or thought I read, or answer a specific question. But today is special, and in my responses I failed to take the time in each response to say Happy Mother’s Day in some of my responses. So I want to take a moment and extend to each of you mothers a wish for a wonderful day, filled with love and joy, a warm smile, a tender kiss, and the thought in your heart that you did good.
Mom’s we love you, we thank you, we will never forget you.
Most of us have or should have the 5 basic senses, some of may not be so fortunate. They are sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. For the most part these senses are all self-explanatory and don’t really need to go into them. But to further the explanation I am calling on Wikipedia (in part) for a slightly fuller definition.
A broadly acceptable definition of a sense would be “A system that consists of a group of sensory cell types that responds to a specific physical phenomenon, and that corresponds to a particular group of regions within the brain where the signals are received and interpreted.” There is no firm agreement as to the number of senses because of differing definitions of what constitutes a sense. Sidebar; the music today is being brought to you via my IPOD being featured today include, Alice in Chains, Stone Temple Pilot, Gemini Syndrome, Van Halen, and Puddle of Mudd, I almost forgot yes, Nickelback is pounding away too!!!!
Smiling, I am done with definitions (at least for this post), I want to talk about that 6th sense, or the 7th sense, or and 23rd sense. It’s the one each of us have, that is not recognized as one of the common senses (nor is it common sense). Some of us know when to hit on 17 at the blackjack table and are successful more times than not (especially if they are playing 5 decks), others wouldn’t know if they had a guide-book. Some will hear a phone ring and answer it knowing who is calling. Some of can sense when a friend is sick or needs us from thousands and thousands of miles away. Others of us know when not to get on an airplane. Some of know when it is really the right time to give that beggar something more than a dirty look. Moms are extremely good at knowing when their child needs a tiny bit more attention, and even more importantly when their child truly needs to be left alone. Some of us dads can figure it out with our daughters, but have more issues trying to figure it out with a son. These extra senses don’t stay with us a lifetime, sometimes they are only one time events, but that event stays with you the rest of your life, you remember your little miracle, you remember that special time and it gives you a good feeling, it does warm your soul. Sometimes these extra senses, come with maturity, and are honed as we age. Yet other times they happen for no definable reason, at no particular age. Case in point: the young man who found the 20 dollar bill in the Cracker Barrel parking lot and felt it was the right thing to do by passing it on with that now world-famous note to the soldier, who has in turn passed it forward.
I think that another word we need to consider is premonition. It is exactly like a sense only different. But just like that oddball sense you from time to time I am sure you have had a premonition. You know that feeling you get just before a storm hits, or a view just outside of your vision that something bad is going to happen. Notice the 2 examples I gave for premonitions were negative, but being honest I don’t remember having a good premonition. If I thought I was going to fail that math test, it was a pretty foregone conclusion I was going to fail that test. But what about your premonitions, have the outcome always been bad?
I suspect you’ll are awaiting my announcement as to what my special skill or talent may be, or if I have some superpower I haven’t shared with you. Oh and I do have one, but I am not going to share it with you (at least not yet).
Yet be it a premonition or an extra sense. I do believe we all have one or more. Some stay with us for a lifetime, others only for an incident. I also think a person can talk themselves into having an extra sense, and by the same token talk ourselves out of a special ability. In my opening sentence I stated that most of us have or should have the basic 5 senses, and that others might not be as fortunate. Let me be very clear, I truly believe that the folks that do not have those 5 basic senses, utilize the senses they have to a much finer degree than we do, they hear better or see better or smell better or have extremely good taste. But these folks also have special senses and utilize them much more so than us burdened with the basic five. They are not handicapped, they are empowered.
This post while playful is also somewhat serious. Please take a moment to think about yourself, and if you’re willing please share with us your special ability.
As always if you have any questions or concerns or if you have a comment please feel free to ask or post it. Take care, Bill.
A friend on AOL shared this with me, and I felt it was simple and good enough to share with you’ll. Most have probably seen it, many probable live a life with these appreciations. I know I try, sometimes I am much more successful than others. Take from this what you wish, I am just offering it because I liked it. Take care, Bill
Please refer to Moving the Household Step 1 for volumes (the 1st 2 paragraphs) of background information, posted on March 27, 2014. Step 2 was also published on March 27th.
For those who have not been following along my wife and I moved our household from Northern Virginia to Florida in 2002. To me it seemed like it would be a simple task. You contract with a moving carrier, they come on a defined day and pack your belonging (Step 1), then on the next defined date they come and load all your belonging into a truck and move it to the new address (Step 2), and finally at the new address they would unload the truck, setting up furniture, and putting clearly marked boxes in the appropriately marked rooms in the new home (Step 3). The process as written here would appear quite straight forward and relatively simple, “NO NO NA NA’ to quote John Pinette. Enjoy parts 1 and 2 to see what I mean.
We finished part 2 with me sharing coffee and donuts with the truck driver and his crew, who were, his cousin and nephew (Darrell and his other brother Darrell). Sidebar, we just finished listening to Five Finger Death Punch’s “Bad Company.” That seems so appropriate. So without further delay let’s wrap this up.
Step 3: on scheduled move in date, the truck would arrive and unpacking and set up would begin and finish. After coffee we discuss the plan for unloading the truck, we walked the house (each room clearly marked with big RED signs). The furniture was to be brought in 1st and set up, followed by the boxes. I had an inventory of the boxes and would check them off as they were brought into the house. My job was to be the traffic cop, I would direct traffic, I would say this piece of furniture goes in this room or that room until all the furniture was off the truck and set up as I defined, and (of course I was working from orders from my boss). Because the movement and placement of furniture was quite specific it was really hard to screw this up, but I will give Darrell and Darrell credit they tried their very best and were quite successful in many instances. But after butting heads a few times the furniture was placed where the boss wanted it placed. Sidebar we now have Gemini Syndromes “Stardust” playing.
Now the difficult task was to start, each box had a number that corresponded to the packing list. The list had a box number, and the room from which it came from the house in Virginia. For instance the fancy plates and stuff were packed in boxes marked dining room. The everyday plates were in a box marked kitchen. Loose stuff that was drawers of end tables in the living room were marked “Living Room” and on and on.
In my role as traffic cop, I stood at the front door, and as a box or 6 came thru the door I would mark it off the master list and direct it to the proper room. I would look at the list if the box came out of the master bedroom I would mark the box 1 to correspond to the sign on the door of the master bedroom, bedroom 2 would go to room 2, and on and on. This process seemed to work real well or so I thought. Sidebar, we are now listening to 3 Doors Down. When they took their first smoke break, and I used that time to do a walk about the house to see how things were going, and I would find a box 3 in room 2 or a box 1 in the family room, and when smoke break was over I had them move those boxes to the proper room. But with the sheer quantity of boxes and the furniture in the rooms, the rooms were becoming impassable. So I made a command decision that the overflow go into the garage. That first smoke break was the last time they took a smoke break together, from that point on at least 2 of them were bringing things into the house. If I needed a break they just stacked stuff in the garage. The problem was I was 1 guy with a list dealing with 3 guys trying to empty a truck as fast as possible. In all my years in management I had never really dealt with gentlemen with these skill sets and inability or desire to follow direction. But then I was dealing with Darrell and Darrell.
As the unpacking continued I recognized a serious problem in the process. The problem was; that the boxes were marked by one person by which room they were packed. But they were packed into the truck by 3 guys according to weight and size without regard to what room they came from. They come off the truck last box on, was the 1st off the truck. So rarely did 2 boxes come pass me going to the same room. Sidebar we have been listening to a selection of songs from the Byrds, CSN&Y, Buffalo Springfield and Charlie Daniels. This kept me jumping all over the inventory list. When the final box was off the truck, my checking of the inventory found there to be about a 20 box difference from what I checked off, and what was to be delivered. So we had to painstakingly find those 20 boxes, after 45 minutes of searching I was satisfied that we had accounted for all of our belonging. What a major P I T A!!!!
The driver and Darrell and Darrell started unloading the truck at approximately 7:15am they were pulling out of my driveway a little after noon. I was never happier to see someone leave my home as I was that day when they left.
This concludes Step 3. In the future I may actually write about unpacking over 100 boxes and the process for getting rid of all that cardboard and packing paper, not to mention what I discovered opening each box, it was like Christmas LOL LOL. As always if you have any questions or concerns please feel free to ask. If you have any comments I would enjoy hearing them. Please take care, Bill
This is my 250th post since starting my Blog in June 2012, and it gives me great pleasure to remind you that my Daughter’s Blog “Burning Candles” debuts tomorrow April 1, 2014. It can be found at the link below. Thank you for giving it a look. Take care – Bill
I sit here today a bit over 64, being somewhat reflective (not!), thinking about what I wanted to share with you today. I have George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” slamming in my ears, but I know this post wasn’t going to be about music. In fairness I have been kicking the thought of my education and all the time I wasted in high school and even in the military schools I attended, and what could have been had I actually applied myself way back then. In part this post also came about because yesterday I sat with Cari at the kitchen table practicing her multiplication tables. Cari is in the 3rd grade and has not yet committed these to memory. We sat for over an hour practicing, we me giving her little lessons, and offering math truths as I knew them. And basically had a good time, I wouldn’t allow her to quit, and I wouldn’t allow her to just guess. I know the truths (about math) I shared with Cari were correct because my wife (the math whiz) didn’t correct me. It was enjoyable to just sit with her and help.
But this story is really about me, so let me get to it (btw Nickelback is pounding now). When I went to school (1st grade thru 12th) I would have been the poster child for ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), but that term hadn’t been invented. If my grades had been a touch worst I might have gotten to ride the short bus (very non PC) to school. I was probably only a stupid smile or two away from being called retarted (extremely non-PC), but the simple truth is that school really didn’t keep my attention. It wasn’t interesting enough, it didn’t stimulate me in a way that made me want to excel. Throughout my entire education process, the classes I found interesting and stimulating I did extremely well. You could look at any given report card and find I got an F in “English” but I got an A in “Reading.” (3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite” now blasting away) Another example would be that I got “C’s” in Math but “F’s” in Algebra. I had found out early in the educational process that I did not have to apply myself at all in order to get just barely passing grades, so I didn’t. And there was no penalty at home, sure I got yelled at, and I got “grounded” all the time. But it wasn’t enforced and I had a job outside of the house, so that kinda took the wind out of being grounded. Also, the folks didn’t know my hours or my schedule so it was easy to get around being grounded. I cruised thru the first 13 years (I did the 3rd grade twice) of school without putting in a lick of work. But again, the classes or components of classes I liked I did great. So as a result, I became an extremely lazy student. (Garth Brooks “Thunder Road” is now slamming) I only (studied) when it was absolutely necessary. The day before a paper was due, or the night before a big test, I was the poster child for cramming. Imagine that, a student with ADD trying to cram. LOL LOL. Sometimes it worked mostly it didn’t. But I did graduate high school, it took a summer school English class, and Mom begging, but I did graduate. In my HS class were approximately 283 kids, I was something like 265 in ranking. It is hard to imagine that many students who accomplished less in HS than me.
These bad habits continued into my Navy career but really stopped while I was in Radioman “A” school. My class at NTCC San Diego was the last class of radioman school to teach and require a level of skill in Morse code. I was lazy, and I was just getting by, all the other components of being a Radioman had my interest, and I did well in those aspects. But if I flunked out of Radioman “A” school I would end up on the deck crew as a boatswain mate, which equated to really really hard dirty work, that I knew I wanted to avoid. The minimum standards (in 1969) for graduating from Radioman “A” school in Morse code was to be able to receive 12 words per minute (wpm) and transmit (6 or 8 not sure which) wpm with no more than 5 errors, over a 5 minute period. On the last day of qualifying I could transmit 8 wpm, but I was still hung up on receiving the minimum 12. Test after test I failed. Each test was a different message using all characters on the keyboard. But the light came on, and the dots and dashes became songs and I qualified 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18 and 20 wpm in separate tests over a 2 hour period. I went from the slowest code reader to the 3rd quickest in the class, and graduated “A” school in fine shape. BTW I never in my Navy career actually copied a real Morse code message. I really didn’t have much of an issue with class room training the rest of my Navy days, and all things considered did quite well during my active duty time.
When I got out of the Navy, it was suggested that I might want to go to college. It seemed like a good idea, and an easy way to make some money. I did have the GI Bill working for me. So a few months after I got established in my job, I enrolled in Northern Virginia Community College. Because I had been out of HS so long I was required to take a college prep math and English classes. These where were a snap, and I pretty much aced both of them. Thus I started my college career. I started with the same attitude and study habits that I had 10 years before in High School. The 1st couple quarters were easy because I chose classes I wanted to take so I put the effort in. But the next quarter I took classes I was required to take and did very poorly. So poorly that the VA counselor called me to his office and said “Bill, if you don’t pick you grades up, you will have to pay the government back all the money you have received to date.” That equaled about $1,800 over 6 months, folks if you don’t have 2 nickels; $1,800 is a crap load. LMAO, folks I took a 1.69 GPA and converted it to a 3.27 over the next 3 years. I never had to pay a penny back, and I loved college. My favorite courses were those that required reading and comprehension, and simplistic math courses. I aced Accounting I, II, and III. The math was simple; it was just knowing and understanding the rules. Economics for whatever reason was another class I loved and did extremely well. The science classes gave me issues, and required every bit of effort I could muster to get thru. Business Law was another class I found to be easy because it was all about reading and understanding the rules. But my most favorite courses were the political science classes. It allowed me to be opinionated and I was graded pretty much on my ability to be opinionated LOL. How cool is that.
One of my favorite college stories involved an English Literature course. It was mid-term time and the test consisted of 10 questions. We used “blue books” to complete the test. The kicker was that each question started off “In your opinion” blab blab blab. The next week the test came back and I got a B+. I was so pissed. I stood up and questioned the professor how my “opinion” was only worth a B+, she was quite shaken that anyone would question her, and was even more put off when she couldn’t successfully tell me my opinion was only worth a B+, and I demanded an A instead of a B+ and suggested we take it up with the Dean of English at NVCC. The professor decided that maybe my opinion was indeed worth an A. As soon as she said she would change my mid-term to an “A” most of the class stood and made the same demand. And while she stared at me with daggers in her eyes she gave anyone that asked a better grade, (who answered all ten questions with something other than BS) based on their opinion she gave them the better grade.
But the professor won in the end. When finals came around, it was the single most difficult test I have ever taken, period. But, while it was difficult it was fair. Also the word opinion was not on the test in any form. LOL LOL. (“Boom Boom” by The Animals is playing now) I killed myself taking that test, and barely had it turned in on time. The next week I got the test results and I got a “B” for the test, I stared at the B and said quietly to myself “Thank You God! I ended up getting an “A” for the course, but it was the hardest “A” I ever got.
College was a wonderful experience, but my career started to take off and I made the decision to concentrate on being a Dad and my career. Two of the best decisions I ever made. I love being a Dad and granddad, and I had a great career.
I rarely do could’ve, would’ve or should’ves. It makes no sense to try and second guess myself all the time. I of am of the mind that if I changed one thing, that action then ripples thru the rest of my life, making slight or large changes in every aspect of my life from the time of the change forward, for the rest of my life. I have so much to be thankful for that, I don’t want risk any of it to change any one thing. But as successful as I have been, I can only wonder how much more successful I could have been had I applied myself way back then. (Melissa Etheridge’s “Refugee” is playing now and almost seems appropriate) I am not going to speculate, but, damn I don’t think there would have been a mountain I couldn’t have climbed. I hope this is a lesson Cari learns early, and takes to heart.
Thank you for indulging me as I took this trip in the wayback machine. Education is so very important, and it doesn’t have to be college, our world requires all manner of folks, with all manner of skills. Yes some of those skills are learned in college, but in this day and age, that is not the only place to get an education that you can build on, that you can support a family on, and reach all manner of success.
While writing this I have listened to at least 25 songs. Each song has provided some level of influence. The artist included: John Lee Hooker, Eric Clapton, Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Seether, AC/DC, Five Finger Death Punch, Nickleback and Marilyn Manson to name just a few. It has been a very enjoyable afternoon. I hope you have enjoyed yours as well. Take care, if you have any comments, suggestions or thoughts you wanted to share, please do. Bill
Folks for over a year I have enjoyed countless wonderful stories about pets; about cats, dogs, parrots, and all other manner of “pets.” To a one, these stories have been heart-warming carefully crafted, tributes to your wonderful pets. I must have seen maybe a hundred different pet video’s and seems like it is a push between cats and dogs as the top (get it) dog of pets. Being honest I have had 4 pets during my brief time here on earth, btw this count does not include gold-fish, I am sorry Gold Fish just don’t count. Also, before you get the wrong impression I LOVE PETS, I love yours; I love the one’s I have had. They are a wonderful addition to the family. They bring warmth, fun, some protection, love, and just a totally unflinching friendship, and they are totally forgiving. We humans could and would learn a lot from this alone.
As I mentioned earlier I have had 4 pets during my life, I doubt very seriously if there will be another. So I do want to talk about the 4 I have had. The 1st pet I h had was Snowball; she was a stray, a mutt, and as cute as she could be. Whatever her lineage, it included a lot of short long dogs. She came to us went I was in the 3rd grade living in Easton Maryland. At the time my dad was the manager of the local McCory’s 5&10. About 2 weeks before Christmas that year he brought her home from the store. She had been either; left behind, lost or abandoned. Dad posted signs at the store and ran an ad in the local paper for the required 2 weeks, and we got to keep her. She became a part of the family about 3 days before Christmas, that year. She had the run of the house and ate leftovers. Snowball was a hunter, and would bring trophies home from her hunting expeditions. She left them at the front door. She was a runt dog; I was always surprised when she brought home something half her size. She was also a great watchdog. She would go to the door and bark and bark and bark when someone would come to the door. Her sense of smell must have been off the scale. Because once a person established themselves to be part of the friends group (and she recognized their scent, even thru closed doors she could smell them) that visited regularly, she didn’t bark, she paid them no mind. And gosh was she friendly, she was everyone’s friend. As I said earlier she ate off the table, but one of the things that solidified our friendship is that she would not eat beans. Mom would make chili with beans, on a regular basis, I hated beans then and even more so now. The leftovers went into Snowball’s bowl, Snowball would lick the bowl clean, except for the beans, she even licked the beans clean, but she never ate a bean, God bless her. Snowball was killed when I was in the 10 grade, I cried like a baby at her lost. I guess in dog years she would have been 350+ by now. I have wonderful memories of her, and she really lives on in my mind.
Within a year of Snowballs death, my parents got a new family pet. Pepper was a 100 pure breed Dalmatian. Her complete name was Rustic Rails Suzette Ann Pepper Pot. One of the prettiest animals I ever saw, dumb as a bag of rocks. We didn’t have Clydesdale’s or a beer wagon, and the firehouse was miles away, but that doesn’t matter, Pepper was dumb. Pepper wasn’t a replacement, she was the next pet. The folks had hopes of making some money from her litters, and I think they made enough to pay for her. Pepper was also a house dog, she also ate scraps (and anything else she could get her teeth into) like furniture or rugs or lamps, she would eat anything. She didn’t hunt; she just kinda sat around and looked good. She wasn’t much for being a watchdog, she would bark at anything and everything, including family. Eventually she became my sister’s dog. My sister and Pepper had a good long relationship. Hopefully I told you she was dumb, and yes she was quite friendly. My sister has become the Dalmatian lover of the family, and even today some 40 yrs. after Pepper she still has 2 giant Dalmatians.
My next pet was a black lab, his name was D – O – G, if you let it roll off your tongue, and don’t think about it, it’s a damn good name. I was in the navy (stationed at Saclant (shore duty)) at the time, and living with my 1st wife. I should have had better sense, I was not in a position to take care of a dog, and my 1st wife while enthusiastic in the search for the “perfect” dog, didn’t have clue as to what having a pet would entail or any desire to take part. I assumed (yes it made an ass out of me) that she (the wife) knew there were going to be responsibilities involved. We had D-O-G for several months, and the longer we had him, the less involved my wife became. I was months away from deployment, and realized a problem was quickly coming to a boil. I knew my wife was ill prepared to take care of D-O-G, and she admitted it, as well as, admitting she didn’t want the responsibility of caring for him. We had to take D-O-G to a shelter, where he was adopted into a family that loved him and could and would take proper care of him.
My final pet was a cat, for years I hadn’t been fond of cats, when I was a child I was overwhelmed by a litter of the little furry critters. As a boy growing up there was never a cat in the house. And, by the way, I am allergic to cats. But my present wife is fond of cats, and my daughter really really really Dad, can we get a cat, please please Dad, wanted a cat. Allison promised to keep the litter box clean, she really did promise. I’ll give Steph credit she never made that promise. So we went to the local shelter, and saw Ms. T. She (Ms. T) was skittish, she was not even close to being friendly, but she was a beautiful cat. The Volunteer at the shelter explained that Ms. T was about 7 months old, and had grown up (to date) on the streets of Washington DC, and apparently in one of the worster (I know it’s not a word, but it works), to the sound of gun fire and mean people. DC could and was like that back then. The Volunteer went on to say, that Ms. T would grow into a loving friendly playful cat. A cat the entire family would love and cherish. As it turned out the Volunteer was about 1 percent correct. Ms. T turned out to be the cat from hell. She was never playful, she was never friendly, she was a hunter and a killer. A little background here will help. Steph (wife) wanted a mouser; she had seen a mouse and wanted a hit cat around to resolve that problem. What we got was Jason with 4 paws, the Freddy Krueger of cats, the Mike Myers of cats; oh hell you get the picture. MS T (T = Terminator) was indeed a mouser, she love to torture the mice she caught, never an outright kill, but a slow evil kill. And she always left the pieces of her victory on the kitchen counter. In a short time that stopped because Ms. T had killed all the mice in Alexandria. The entire time she lived with us, she never made a personal appearance, she never took a bow. Ms. T had a very definitive way of expressing her displeasure with us, when we offended her, she would piss on the offending person’s bed, or part of the bed. No one the family was immune to her anger. After we had her for about 3 years it was discovered that she had diabetics, and we spent several hundred dollars to treat and care for her. But Ms. T’s attitude did little to change. She never got friendly, she never became playful. When we moved to Florida, Ms. T made the transition; we had to give her kittyludes to calm her enough to get on the plane. But even in Florida, she maintained her crappy attitude. None of our neighbors ever saw her. They would hear her, when we had guess’ she would hide and hiss at the guess’, once Laura volunteered to feed and clean her litter box while Steph and I were away. Laura would come each day to put out fresh water, food, and clean the litter box. Ms. T would make those horror cat noises the entire time Laura was here.
We had Ms. T for about 8 years, her diabetics became so bad, we were tasked with giving her daily insulin shots, that was more than either Steph or I could handle. Thanksgiving week 2003 we had Ms. T put to rest. As nasty as Ms. T was we still loved her. But the decision was for the best.
But both Steph and I admit that we would have another cat into our home if we thought she or he would be the kind of cat we see so often at other folk’s homes.
That folks is the story of the Pets that I have had. Please take care, if you have any thoughts or comments you want to share please do so. Take care, and be safe. — Bill
I have been remiss over the last couple of weeks, the only original thought posts I have created have been the “How I Feel Today” posts, and while informative, and sometimes light-hearted, they don’t reek of my normal talkative self. I guess it’s a case of writers’ semi-block. I have reblogged a couple of emails, and some dynamite posts from other bloggers (with some heartfelt prologues) but again nothing original. This first paragraph is an effort to get my motor up and running. I feel kinda like an ice breaker, I am just churning away, breaking up big chunks of thoughts into paragraphs, only to throw them in the mental trash can. Kinda like how an Ice Breaker will just plow thru the ice breaking it up and leaving the broken ice in its’ wake. Just not as productive.
I have music blasting in my ear as I write this; Nickelback’s Next Contestant is slamming into my Dr Dre headphones. I am sure that will help stir up the creative aspect of my head. Soft sad smile, I do believe the music has done the trick, I now know what this post will be about (though it took 7 songs to get to this point). I want to write about my Dad, and you will be the ones’ I will share my story. Over the 18 months that I have been blogging I have read at least seven different Tributes to Fathers. Some of these tributes were about fathers’ still with us, some of the fathers have passed on, some had divorced the mothers’ of the blog author, one was written about a father the author didn’t know, and her mother didn’t know either and that was one of the most touching tributes I have ever read.
Dad (William Joseph Hamilton) was born on Dec 1, 1925 in Herrin Illinois, where he lived pretty much until he joined the Navy during the latter part of World War II. From all that I clearly remember and stuff I can surmise, Dad was a great student (the Honor Roll all the time) and was a big time track star. I remember one time going thru a box (of his stuff) that had a ton of memorabilia from his youth. He must have gotten it from his mother’s house after she passed. But the box had several years of his report cards, some newspaper clipping from his track star days, and a clipping of when he joined the navy, a few snapshots, and other collectables that his mom must have kept. I have no idea in the world if any of this information exists today, and if it does, who has it? My sister remembers an album with all manner of photos and other collectibles of dad growing up, but she has no idea where this may be or like the box of collectibles I found, if it still exists.
Dad was discharged from the Navy in Baltimore Maryland, where he worked a variety of factory jobs in the post war environment, while also attending college. He also met Mom in Baltimore and that is where they were married (on 02/24/49). Mom was a nurse who graduated from John Hopkins College of Nursing. I was the first (of 6) born I came 9 months and a day after they were married.
I am going to share what few positive memories I have of my dad. The single most important memory I have of my dad goes back to when I was a tiny person, no more than 4 or 5. We were living in Baltimore, MD and it was the middle of winter, it was very cold. Dad had taken me to an Auto show, we were coming back from the show, and on the icy street my dad (who was carrying me) slipped and fell, there was so much ice that I began to slide toward a drain at the curb. My dad scrambled to grab me before I slid into the drain. He had done this with a broken arm, which happened during the fall. The most important thing my dad did for me was not naming me William Joseph Hamilton, JR. he had been called Billy Joe, all his young life and hated it, I truly can appreciate that, just as I truly appreciate him not sharing his name with me. I also remember dad coming to every JV football I played in. Dad loved golf, and we would play together though these aren’t all positive memories because I too loved golf. He loved going to the stock car races, another thing I love, and those were all positive memories. Sometimes it was just him and I, sometimes it was the entire family, and sometimes it was just us boys. One of my brothers remembers him going camping with him several times, these were Boy Scout events, but the brother has positive memories from those trips. Dad loved to read, and was very well read. He was an intellectual, and knew it and bragged about how smart he was.
As kids we play two-hand touch on the street in front of our home, from time to time one of the neighborhood dads would join the game, and dad did as well. Our fifty yard line was marked by a fire hydrant, it was 2 feet in bounds, and you avoided it at all costs. One afternoon dad forgot, and ran dead into that fire hydrant, he busted the hell out of his shin, he never played again, and nobody missed him. Another trademark experience with dad, were the car rides to nowhere. He would draft any available kid to go on a car ride with him. These rides lasted 2 or 3 hours and dad just drove around, no destination, the radio on his favorite channel, no talking, no explanation, and dad was the worst driver on record. Sigh, those were some of my favorite memories of dad.
Folks, it kinda goes off the rails at this point. I am sure that as you read that last paragraph, maybe even read between the lines, but you most likely were thinking, something along the lines, wow that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun. It wasn’t. Those were the good times. Dad was an abuser; he physically, emotionally and mentally abused each of us kids. He was much more physical with us boys, but my sister paid as well, from the emotional abused reaped upon her. Abusing was what he did quite well, he couldn’t keep a job, he couldn’t be there when he was needed, and he ran through money like he won the lotto, but damn was he good at abusing. I am not going to go into any of the horror stories, it would serve no purpose and it wouldn’t make me feel better, and to be perfectly honest I only remember in any detail a couple. Also being honest, I thought that was how it was supposed to be in the 50’s and 60’s. I did spend a couple of hours talking to 2 of my sibling about this, and those conversations confirmed thoughts that had been running thru my head for a long time.
Dad passed away on Feb 16, 2001. I didn’t shed a tear during the viewing or the funeral. I have sat in my office many a time thinking about dad, and why I wasn’t upset with his passing. Part of me understood why, now even more understands.
Thank you for taking the time to allow me to get this off my chest, has it done me any good, I hope so. As always your thoughts, comments or questions are always appreciated. Please take care, Bill
I don’t know the Roger’s, I don’t know any of the story beyond this post. But there is enough here to share. There is enough here, to make folks aware of the continued hatefullness, and ugliness that goes on around us daily. Maybe a post like this will open one set of eyes that were closed in the past. Maybe a tiny touch of awareness will come of it, but for me the bottom line is to continue to make folks aware, and pray there comes a time when we as a people are accepting of the differences of others. Take care — Bill
This was shared with me by a friend. I have read it before and it has caused a tear to form quickly in my eye. I have no idea who wrote it originally, but I thank them. It is the season for these types of Posts. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I would like to think I could have been driving that cab. Take care Bill
Last Cab Ride
I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked.. ‘Just a minute’, answered a frail, elderly voice.
I could hear something being dragged across the floor. After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90’s stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940’s movie.
By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets. There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.
‘Would you carry my bag out to the car?’ she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.
She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb. She kept thanking me for my kindness. ‘It’s nothing’, I told her.. ‘I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.’
‘Oh, you’re such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, ‘Could you drive through downtown?’
‘It’s not the shortest way,’ I answered quickly..
‘Oh, I don’t mind,’ she said. ‘I’m in no hurry. I’m on my way to a hospice. I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. ‘I don’t have any family left,’ she continued in a soft voice..’ The doctor says I don’t have very long.’ I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.
‘What route would you like me to take?’ I asked.
For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator. We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds. She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.
Sometimes she’d ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.
As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, ‘I’m tired. Let’s go now’. We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico. Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move. They must have been expecting her. I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.
‘How much do I owe you?’ She asked, reaching into her purse.
‘Nothing,’ I said
‘You have to make a living,’ she answered.
‘There are other passengers,’ I responded.
Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly. ‘You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,’ she said. ‘Thank you.’
I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life. I didn’t pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day, I could hardly talk.
What if that woman had gotten an angry driver, or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?
On a quick review, I don’t think that I have done anything more important in my life. We’re conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.
PEOPLE MAY NOT REMEMBER EXACTLY WHAT YOU DID, OR WHAT YOU SAID ~BUT~THEY WILL ALWAYS REMEMBER HOW YOU MADE THEM FEEL.
At the bottom of this great story was a request to forward this – I deleted that request because if you have read to this point, you won’t have to be asked to pass it along you just will…Thank you, my friend…
Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we are here we might as well dance.
Folks, I need to say that there is one meal I truly love, a meal that is so rich, that if I starved myself for a week, I would still consume 10,000 more calories than I lost that week, a meal so wonderful that deviations are not in the least bit tolerated. A meal so filled with tradition that I anticipate it like Christmas morning. There are a million placed to go and have turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, and grave. I personally know of 4 such places within 10 minutes or so from my home. I have sampled their efforts, and sadly none come close to those served here.
This post is about the meal, not the concept of it, not our countries rich history of celebration, not the Macy’s parade, not the endless football games (the games are of interest only because they give you an excuse to nap), but the meal, the effort, the consumption, and the enjoyment.
The post is also about; food babies, it’s about being so stuffed that not only do you open your belt, you unzip your fly, it’s about sharing the feast with family and friends, it’s about staying true to family traditions, it’s about cranberry sauce (the jello type in a can) not any other kind of cranberries, it’s about stuffing (even stove top stuffing will do), it’s about the 5 hours of preparation for a meal that takes no more than 30 minutes consume, it’s about cleaning up the mess, it’s about football but only in the sense it gives you an excuse to take a nap, and finally this post is about coordinating everything needing to be hot at the same time from a single oven (my wife constantly amazes me how she does it).
My 1st Thanksgiving with my wife was the traditional meal, with all the trimming, we shared the meal with close friends, I was just shy of 28 at the time, and had been having Thanksgiving on board ships or navy facilities for the prior 7 years. Before that Mom had always prepared the feast, but I will say without reservation that the meal Steph put together was by far one of the best, if not the best I had ever experienced, and it was clearly a case that I almost ate myself into a coma. It was clearly a time when not only did I have to unbutton but I had to let the zip down just a bit.
One of the endearing comments I have ever heard showing appreciation for the Feast, came from my daughter Allison. Allison was either 5 or 6 at the time she made the soon to be famous remark. To continue the tease, the three of us had consumed another fantastic Thanksgiving meal, we had completed all of the courses, the appetizer, the salad, the main event, and finally dessert, we sat at the table to stuffed to move (another unbutton moment), with no one having the energy to get up from the table. Allison slowly pushed back from the table, gazed down at her belly and announced “I think I am going to have a food baby.” Steph and I both lost it, we were laughing so hard it seemed like food was coming from our noses. To this day whenever anyone of us (or Allison’s family) talks about having too much to eat, we all smile and say they are having “a food baby.”
We have lived in Florida now for almost 12 years and this will be only be the second time we have not shared Thanksgiving with our neighborhood family. Laura has always hosted Thanksgiving, and has had as many as 13 for that meal, she has taken complete responsibility for it, only requesting that her guess’s bring their appetite’s and an appetizer. Laura puts on a wonderful meal and does so with a great deal of love, but Steph’s is better. But the meal at Laura’s was and will always be all about the gathering of friends. Mike, Laura’s husband was a giant part of the festivities, carving the turkey, story-telling, and being a great host. Allison and her family were always invited to the gathering, but choose to start their own family traditions. In recent years, Allison and her family have shared Thanksgiving with us. Only it’s an early Thanksgiving feast, they come spend the night, Allison helps with the preparation, Stu and I have clean up duty, and Allison and Stu put up and decorate our large Christmas tree. We always watch White Christmas (Stu naps), and Christmas music is playing in the background. Before moving to Florida Steph, Allison and I travelled to KY for Thanksgiving. In the later years Mom would sit in her chair and coordinate the ongoing. There had been up to as many as 23 folks coming to her house for the Feast. Everyone would bring something, and it was served at 2pm. This allowed nappers to nap and those that had other feasts to go to time to relax a few before moving on the next feast. I always felt sorry the ones that had other meals to consume that day, I wouldn’t know how to pace myself. I most likely would have had a food litter. But these were the traditions that they had to uphold.
Now I need to spend some time talking seriously about the FEAST itself. With all this talk about tradition I bet you think I insist on having a majestic 20 + lb. bird in the oven, au contraire I don’t need the big bird, I am quite content with the big breasts. KEEP YOUR MIND OUT OF THE GUTTER! My wife serves 2 bone-in breasts, which will feed 5 or 6 and still have a ton of great leftovers. She does this because as good as the dark meat is, everyone really prefers the white meat and it is so much better for post feast sandwiches. My wife makes a great stuffing and cooks it separate from the breasts, but has found a way to stuff the breasts for some great cavity stuffing. And after the meal if the stuffing is in short supply, in our pantry we have a couple extra boxes of STOVE TOP Turkey Stuffing that I can whip up in 5 minutes and I am golden. As long as the gravy is good as far as I am concerned whipped potatoes or instant potatoes are just fine, but my wife and daughter insist on making the mashed potatoes from scratch, and these are worth the effort, and only require a touch of gravy to be complete. I don’t do sweet potatoes at all, but again the wife and daughter slave over them, I believe my son-in-law also likes sweet potatoes, the only smart one is Cari, and she is not a fan of sweet potatoes, that’s my granddaughter she makes me so proud. Allison and I have almost a fetish like for canned cranberry sauce. Open the can from both ends and let the tube of cranberry mass slide out and into the serving bowl and we are good to go, again Cari is coming around and likes her cranberry sauce like me and her mom. LOL LOL. We also serve and wonderful green bean and onion dish, no it’s not the green bean casserole (with the cream of mushroom soup and gurkin onions, which I truly love) but a very nice compliment to the meal. Steph makes some of the finest Thanksgiving gravy one could ever hope for, rich with flavor from the cooked breasts and their drippings. A deep rich brown color which is not over powering visually, but has a taste that I could eat like a soup. I pour (not spoon) this gravy over my turkey breast meat, the mashed potatoes and dressing, and I keep the gravy boat handy in case I need more, yes I am a pig, yes I starve myself in preparation for this meal, and I do it every Thanksgiving. Below is a recap of the Hamilton Family Feast informally known as Thanksgiving.
Turkey Breasts (2)
Gravy (at least a gallon for me)
Apple fruit salad
Pumpkin and Pecan Pies
That folks is a meal worth sitting down to, and the leftovers can be enjoyed for days afterwards. I truly love a good turkey sandwich on white bread, with salt pepper and mayo. Throw some chips on the side and that too is damn fine eating. But my wife will make open face turkey sandwiches with mashed potatoes and dressing at least once generally twice immediately after the feast, generally the next 2 evening meals.
What truly amazes me is how you cooks coordinate such a meal, and to do all of the above using 4 burners and 1 oven. Steph does it year in and year out. This massive Feast takes almost 5 hours to prepare. The multitude of dishes is staggering. The preparation area is so so at best, and yet when everyone sits down at the table, all the hot things are hot, and all the cool things are cool. The entire process of preparing the meal take almost 5 hours, but in almost every case (no matter where I have gone to have the meal) it only takes 30 minutes to eat it, and includes in some of our cases having seconds and thirds. I think anyone that undertakes such an effort is to be commended, and for those that actually pull it off, well they deserve a Medal!!! And most importantly for those of us that consume our unwavering thanks.
I show my gratitude to Steph and Allison for their efforts, but being the chief bottle washer. As soon as they start cooking I start cleaning. Every dish as it’s used to prepare an aspect of the meal is placed in the sink where I attack it with the same vigor the cooks are attacking the making of the meal. In some cases during clean up I have washed and dried the same bowl 4 or 5 times, and this is a continuous process throughout the preparation. By the time the last dish is coming out of the over, all prior used dishes have been washed and put away, the sink is empty awaiting the next phase. Post eating clean up. I must give credit where credit is due. Stu has been great in the cleanup process, and he does so with a smile on his face, and goodness in his heart. I know there has been many a time when I thought I was at my end, when Stu jumped in and took over. After the meal he really steps up and does most of the work. But between the 2 of us we take care of 90 pct of the actual cleaning of the kitchen. By the way I don’t want to leave Cari out; she does a great job of setting the table, and making place holders. She also helps in post meal clean up by carrying things from the dining room back into the kitchen. Cari is also responsible for selecting the Christmas movie or movies we will watch. Each family member has a part in the celebration of the Feast and we all take our responsibility very seriously!
That my friends is how we celebrate the Feast here. Thank you for enjoying it with me. I hope that each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving surrounded by those that love you and that you love. And I hope you eat until you have a “food baby.” Happy Thanksgiving, please take care Bill.
As always your thoughts and comments are welcome.
Recently I warned you that I would be telling sea stories, regarding my time in the Navy. I also warned you that any good sea story was based on some level of truth, and they always started “AND THIS AIN’T NO SHIT!!! Well I am now going to share some of my stories about when I was in the Navy, will talk a bit about being a sailor, the living conditions, food, work, and the fun. Most of what I say is about 98 percent factual, the other 2 percent is bullshit to make it more fun. I’ll let you decide which part is the 2 percent.
Fact: I joined the Navy in April 1969 because I was a bad boy, I had been arrested for DUI, and a few months later had another unpleasant encounter with the law. The judge gave me 2 options. Option 1: join the military, option 2: go to jail for minimum of six months. Having spent a single night in jail, I immediately chose option 1. Four days after choosing option 1, I was on my way to boot camp in San Diego CA. On May 2nd of this year I wrote a post about my boot camp experience, so I am not even going to address it further, if you want you can go back and read “My Boot Camp Experiences ….. or the beginning of Manhood.”
After boot camp, I went to Radioman “A” school there in San Diego, it was another stellar performance in the world of education for me, I barely got out of “A” school, but just when it seemed I was destined to become a boatswain’s mate, I got my shit together and managed to meet all the requirements, pass all the tests, and even excelled in an area, in a timely enough manner to become a radioman. I did graduate from Radioman “A” school on time, again much like high school I was towards the bottom of the class, but I made it. Life at “A” school was great, we lived in the barracks, 4 men to a room, with a door that locked. Food was at the chow hall, and most the entertainment was free. Being in the military meant you could drink on base before reaching the age of 21, and Tijuana Mexico was only 40 minutes away by bus. Trust me I made that trip many a Friday night while in “A” school. I began to refined my art of playing hard here, and to be honest I killed off a lot of grey matter in Tijuana.
After graduation from “A” school, my 1st Navy duty station was the Communications Station at Guantanamo Naval Base (GITMO for short), Cuba. Here is where I started my sailor life. I was an E2 Radioman, fresh out of “A” school, and didn’t know squat about being a Radioman or Sailor. As a sailor I had no real expenses. I had to pay for my booze and smokes. After that pretty much everything else came with the job. Food, housing, laundry, and entertainment all came at no or very little cost to a single sailor, living in the barracks. Now for the 1st of the sea stories this post is all about…. “And this ain’t no shit!” When I 1st arrived in GITMO I was owned a month’s back pay. After collecting my pay, I was quickly sucked into a poker game with 3 guys from the barracks, and promptly lost most of my money. Later I overheard them bragging about taking the sucker’s money. Over the next several months I played poker and other games of chance with each of them, separately, I got all my money back, with interest and then some. It was a great learning experience, and one I never forgot. Another example of my early days in the Navy was listening to sports on AAFRT’s (American Armed Forces Radio and TV). I, at the time, didn’t realize that the games were rebroadcasts. Being from Kentucky and being a fan of Louisville, one of Louisville’s games was being broadcasted. The Chief saw how intently I was listening to the game, and bet me that the team playing Louisville, would in fact beat Louisville by X amount of points. I quickly jumped to Louisville’s defense and offered a bet to the chief, which he promptly took. Later as Louisville’s lead vanished, and the lost by the extract amount the chief said they would, I dejectedly walked up to the chief payment in hand. The chief smiled and said “Ham, you didn’t know that game had been played already, but I did. Keep your money, and learn from this!” I did. “And that ain’t no shit.”
There were 3 main activities to do when you were single and not working. You could drink, swim, play golf, and if you knew someone maybe bowl. Of the 3 main activities, I didn’t chose swimming because the only time I swam at GITMO I had a semi close encounter with a shark. Semi-close equals 200 yards. Never got in the water again at GITMO after that incident. But GITMO is where my love for golf started. It began in February 1970. And it’s a love I have had since. The other hobby I chose while in GITMO was drinking, and I excelled at that, and it was an activity that I maintained a close contact with throughout my Navy career and for several years after I got out of the Navy. I have since finally matured, and my drinking habits have matured as well.
After spending 7 months in Cuba, I was transferred to the USS Claude V Ricketts, DDG-5, where I would spend the next 2 years. The Ricketts was an interesting change from shore duty. And shore duty was not a place to gain a lot of knowledge about the workings of a ship. The berthing where I lived onboard the Ricketts, was an area about 200 square feet, in that space 18 of us had “racks” and lockers. All of our worldly and unworldly belonging had to fit in our locker. The locker was approximately 6 foot long 30 inches high and 10 inches deep with a shelf in the center. In my locker I had the following clothing; 12 complete sets of under wear, 15 pairs of black socks, 9 denim jeans, and 9 denim shirts (working uniform), I had 2 sets of undress blue uniforms, and 5 sets of dress whites, 4 sailor hats, 3 belts (2 white), my working jacket was stored here, as well as my ball cap. Also in this space I had all my toilet items, and all of my personal belongings including several books, writing material, pens, pencils and what not. I also shared a standup locker with another sailor, in here was stored my dress blue uniform, my peacoat, dress shoes, and raincoat. A few years later I was stationed onboard the USS Independence CV 62, the locker and storage arrangements were almost identical, but there were only 6 of us sleeping (and living) in area 110 inches wide, 80 inches deep, and 110 tall. “And this ain’t no shit!”
Life on board the Ricketts was a unique experience, you either worked or you slept. The space for communications onboard a tincan (navy jargon for Destroyer class ship) was a total of about 400 square feet. At any one time there could be as many as 6 guys working in the space. In the communications space were all the transmitters, the receivers, and crypto gear, also there were 4 teletype machines and several stand alone printers. I only remember one meal onboard the Ricketts, that meal was served the 1st time the ship got underway after an extended overhaul. The meal included; beans and franks, sauerkraut, and other items equally greasy and unappealing. I got sea sick on that cruise, and I got sea sick on every cruise after that, it was just a matter of degree of sea sick. There was a lot of smoking of illegal substances on board, and that’s where I learned I didn’t need that bad habit as well. So I stayed with drinking. “And that ain’t no Shit!” Most social activities took place on the mess deck (chow hall on land), movies where shown here, card and board games played here, and pay was handed out here. On payday, you stood in line at your appointed time, signed the book and were paid in cash. If shots were required you had to get your shot before you could draw your pay. I hated shots, and one way to avoid getting a shot was to not get paid. BTW you were allowed to keep money on the books and only take what you wanted. I avoided one shot for 6 weeks, but finally I was summoned to the ships med office where I was given the shot. After that I didn’t try to avoid any other shots. And that my friends, “ain’t no shit!”
One of the most memorable events that took place in 1971 was that the Ricketts was accused of being a “Spy” ship for the navy, we were a Navy Ship, we were in the Med, and we were doing our job. On one occasion, there were several Russia ships at anchorage in two neat rows, and the Ricketts did steam down the rows. Gestures were shared from ship to ship, as we Americans greeted our Russia counterparts. Many a one finger salute was shared that day. This event was made mention in Time Magazine dated June 28, 1971, and also in an AP story.
Okay folks, this is already getting out of hand. I have cruise books from both the Ricketts and the Independence to draw from, so you can see this could be lengthy. So I will stop it here, and let you digest this. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to ask them. Also if you want me to continue along this post line let me know. Please take care, Bill
As taken from the merriam-webster online dictionary. Definition of INSPIRATION 1) a: a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation b: the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions c: the act of influencing or suggesting opinions. 2) The act of drawing in; specifically: the drawing of air into the lungs. 3) A: the quality or state of being inspired b: something that is inspired a scheme that was pure inspiration. 4): an inspiring agent or influence
For those keeping track, definition 1) a … clearly does not define me LOL. For the purpose of this post I think I would fall under maybe 1) b: or 4). the fact of the matter is that inspiration comes in many forms, from many places, and from many people. In can be a phrase in a book, or stern conversation, an event at any time in one’s life, a movie, or God. It can also come from a child speaking to an adult or from one suffering an illness. Each of us finds and accepts inspiration from that which moves us.
Today‘s post is about what inspires me to fight so hard against the disease that has me by the short hairs and will not let go. I have COPD. There is no cure for COPD, as we speak, doctors and scientists continue to work on and create new drugs to fight it each day, each week, each year, and yes it would appear they are making progress. But today, there is no cure, and it does not appear that one will be available until long after I am gone.
I was diagnosed with COPD about 8 years ago; at that time I was using about 90-92 percent of my lung capacity. But I was and am overweight, and I figured it was more a weight issue than anything, So when I talked to the pulmonologist, I kinda let what he said go in one ear and immediately out the other, I wasn’t on oxygen, and he only prescribed a single inhaler to use when I was having issues. The inhaler went into my desk drawer, and the advice out the window. Damn I wish I had paid better attention, and actually followed instructions. Four years later, after both heart and lung surgery I was on oxygen 24/7. I had also changed pulmonologist, to the now infamous Doc Lungs. I now hang on every word every instruction Doc Lungs gives me. I trust him, and we have a great Dr/patient relationship. Through all of this I was still self-reliant and self-inspired.
But about 2 years ago I had the grand awakening. I wasn’t handling my pending demise well, I wanted to live, but I was making arrangements for my death. And even as I was making these arrangements, my fight against the disease continued and still does. But at some point you realize you need more. You have to do more to just cope. My wife had been after me for a long time to write. To write about COPD what I was going thru, what I did to cope, to seek others with the disease and found out what worked for them. So I started my blog, this blog, and my original stuff was informative and whiny at the same time. I did some research and shared what I found, and spoke about how I was feeling. I wrote my first “How I feel Today” on 6/23/12. About the same time as I started my blog, my health Coach from BCBS called, and suggested I consider joining a COPD support group. She offered several potential organizations that sponsored such groups; such as American Lung Association, Daily Strength, MDJunction, and a few more. I was drawn to the Daily Strength COPD/Emphysema Support Group, and have been there ever since.
Now finally I am getting to the heart of the matter, that being, who inspires ME YOU DO!!!! That certain someone who reads a blog entry and does something positive about their situation, and I never know about it. The person that reads my blog for the 1st time and sends me short comment thanking me for saying this that or the other, that started something within them which got them going. Or made them feel better about their situation no matter what that situation may be. You that individual that reads me on a continuing basis, offering insight, comment and yes INSPIRTATION. That person that sees me at the grocery store with my portable oxygen, that smiles and nods at me, or stops and wants to chat for a few moments. The person that inspires me is YOU! the encouragement, the patience, the praise, the positive remarks, and the thoughts I never hear. YOU inspire me. I speak of COPD/Emphysema Support Group group on a regular basis because they are a large part of the YOU! Being sick is no fun, living with and loving someone who deathly ill is no fun. One of the most important sources of inspiration comes from FAMILY and FRIENDS. The inspiration that I get from all of YOU is in part why I did so well when I was going thru pulmonary rehab last year. I didn’t want to disappoint you or me, so I worked harder, I pushed harder, and as a result I did so so much better than I would have without YOU. More recently taking the family on the Disney cruise was my motivational push. Ensuring I stayed healthy enough for the trip, and it was thru your support and being there with me that saw me thru the end of the cruise. And here 3 weeks later I am still flying high. Over the last 14 months the collective you have made a significant difference in my life. I am constantly inspired by the DS group. The caring they constantly show to other sufferers, family of someone with the disease is truly amazing. If someone doesn’t post for a week, a hunting party goes out looking for that individual. Actions like that are a constant inspiration for me. And anyone that joins the group or even just stops by with a single comment or question is treated with genuine caring.
I have had several notes that specifically stated some action on my part inspired an individual to do some action on their part. When I get such a note I almost come to tears (sometimes I do). But they are tears of joy. Because when I started this I wanted to matter, I wanted to help, I wanted to yes inspire someone anyone to fight the good fight, to not give in or give up. And it is working, the inspiration I get from you keeps me going, allows me to fight the good fight. Hopefully I have given a bit back, and I am going to continue to try and give back.
Thank you all!
As usual if you have any comments or questions please feel free to ask. Take care, Bill
This vacation view comes from a trip to Myrtle Beach with Steph, Allison and Arlene (mom-in-law) and recounts the 1st time I ever ate lobster. I must have been 36 at the time of this story.