He Scares the Hell Out of Me!

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerMaybe it is just me, but I think there is a problem with one of the candidates running for the presidential nomination. I normally don’t get involved in political discussions like I am venturing to do now because I get too emotional. My logic fails me when I get emotional, and I will lose any debate I get into. The end result is that I know not to debate.

Last night I attended my Lions Club meeting. There were twenty five people in attendance. Their ages range from 30 to 75. I must confess there are more older members than younger ones. We open the meeting the same way each month. The Lion President calls upon Lion Tony to begin the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Last night, I looked around the room as we pledged. All of us had a hand over our heart as we stood facing the stars and stripes. All recited the pledge with reverence. Every single one of us had the right hand over the heart.  So what, you say, we all pledge that way. It is the way we were taught in school. That is right. If you went to school in this country. If  you are my age, you also learned to pray, to say the pledge, and you learned to respect the military. That is because kids my age grew up watching a world war. The friends of our parents, or in some cases our parents, were in the war. We were all affected. Even as children we felt the effect of rationing, and the continuous requests to buy  war bonds. Yes, we were asked to buy war bonds in school. We saved our money proudly, because it was helping our country fight a war against a dictator with a very evil belief.

Our country was isolationist before WWII. Our citizens did not want to get involved. Let the Europeans fight their own war we said. Ultimately our President got involved because a strong ally asked for help. The US agreed to build war materials for the allies. Later, we got involved again when we declared war on Japan, after they bombed our ships in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That got us were really involved. I digress. All I’m trying to say is that I grew being taught to be patriotic. I am still patriotic. I fly the stars and stripes over my  home everyday of the year. So it really bugs me when a major candidate for the highest office in the land is caught on film with his hands folded in front of him while a number of his opponents are all pledging the allegiance with hands over the heart.

Did he ignore this simple sign of respect because he wasn’t schooled in the US? Is it because he is un-patriotic? What? The rest of us perform this simple act of love automatically when we proudly pledge our allegiance to the flag of America. I ask you, can you vote a person who cannot show a basic simple sign of love and respect for his country into the highest office of the land?

Another thing that bugs me about this candidate is his slogan, “Change You Can Believe In.” Just what kind of change is he planning to bring about? Is he planning to teach us all that the star and stripes do not deserve respect? Is he planning to change the Constituion to take away our current form of government? Just what is the “Change You Can Believe In?”

Quite frankly, this candidate scares the hell out of me.

Is Your Butt Growing Into the Couch?

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerWhat does it take to get you motivated? Do others provide your motivation, or are you able to get yourself going? Grumpa Joe’s Place will strive to give you hints about getting the juices flowing. Mostly, he will tell you about how he gets his own sorry ass from growing into the couch.

The fact of the matter is that no one can motivate you but you! You are the deciding factor in making positive things happen in your life. Others can only scare you into doing something. Fear is definitely an emotion that will drive us into action. Usually, it is fear of a loss such as a job, a loved one, or money. This type of motivation does work, but only temporarily. As soon as you are able to get out from under the fear you revert to your normal unmotivated being. 

Your best bet is to set some simple goals to start your engine running. Make them easy to begin with. Achieving easy goals will empower you to begin achieving tougher ones. Take the smallest steps possible, i.e. “baby steps,” to accomplish the goal. The Japanese call this method “Kaizen.” Their philosophy is “go slow fast.” If you don’t believe this system works, ask yourself why the big three automakers in the U.S. today are on the verge of losing it to a Japanese big three. The Japs are relentless in their pursuit of the goal. They have been working it since 1945, and will not rest until they have world domination in the auto industry. They have continuously improved their designs and manufacturing processes in “baby steps” to the point of making superior quality products that delight their customers.

You can do the same with your own life. Set your goal, so that it is measurable, achievable, realistic, and tangible.


Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerFinally, I printed volume three of my memoirs titled “Jun-e-or.” I began writing them seven years ago. I thought it would be great to document my earliest childhood memories for my grand children. I scibbled every memory I could into a tablet by hand, recalling FDR declare war on Japan, riding home with Dad in his new -used car(1929 Buick Special). I stood on the front seat next to him and looked out the back window over the top of the seat. As I wrote each vignette, more memories surfaced until I had recorded over three hundred. The next step was to have them converted to the word processor. I talked my good friend Judy into doing this for me. What an angel, she did it without changing a thing. The final step was the hardest. I had to clean up the grammar, and make the stories sound interesting. 

I published Volume One and presented it to my children and grandchildren for Christmas 2006, Volume Two came in 2007, now Volume Three. It is not completed yet, because I still want to insert art and family photos to enhance the text, and to make it more meaningful to them. Finally, I will bind the book with a nice cover and it will be finished. The three volumes complete my story up til hIgh school.

 My next work will be called “My Love Story.” I want to leave the kids with the narrative of how Barbara and I met, fell in love, and began our life together. This story will end with the birth of our last child. I figure the kids can begin their own stories from that point on.

Here is a sample vignette from Volume Three of “Jun-e-or, Recollections of Life in the Ninteen Forties and Fifties.” 

There were many street vendors such as the ice man, the milk man, and others. They used horse drawn wagons to carry their wares. The horse often dropped a load in the middle of the street. If Mom spotted a pile within a couple of houses to either side of ours, she’d shag me out to pick it up. I shoveled the pile into a bucket. It was lousy duty, but I did it. Mom used the manure for fertilizer. Before she did, she aged it for a long time. Fresh manure is too acidic to use. It will burn the vegetation that it’s used on. Aging it cuts the potency. Aged manure is excellent in the garden.







Monet Vision

Grumpa Joe Looks at FlowerMy vision of the new garden is a Monet painting. Lots of soft muted colors with textures, and rooms galore. The vision began as a single idea. I won’t afford a house on a lake, so I built the lake in my backyard. The lake is a pond. By making a pond, I can look at water views all year long. Right now the pond is still void of plantings. A large baby step occurred this week,  I went shopping for plant materials with my garden club.  Yesterday another baby step, I dug out a few Rose of Sharon shrubs from a friends yard. Together we unearthed a ten foot tall shrub. It was a joy to stuff the root ball into the trunk of my meticulous Avalon, the shrub hanging out over the end of the bumper. Yesterday’s baby step also included planting the shrubs into their new home around the pond. Today, the baby step was to spot the 13 perennials that I bought on Wednesday. I also planted a miniature  spruce that my deceased wife bought over ten years ago. I planted it into the pot for her. The tiny tree had a place on our patio. Today, It became a permanent part of the pond-scape. Slowly, ever so slowly, the vision becomes more of a reality.

As I place things into the ground, new details of the vision emerge from the depths of my sub-conscious and the garden expands. I will continue  to purchase plant materials all summer. Each plant will find a proper place in the vision.  Eventually, with many baby steps, the garden will evolve into a mature picture of beauty, and solitude.


Regrets, Part Two

Grumpa Joe Looks at Flower

 Being that my intent is to impart wisdom regarding motivation, I failed to do so in my last post. Previously, I spoke on the point that every negative has an equal or greater positive. In my post on regrets, I failed to point out the positive to the horribly negative emotion of regret. My late wife Barbara always told me “that what you don’t do for one, you will do for the other.” I never believed her at the time, but now I see the wisdom of the phrase. Many of my regrets are the things I failed to do for her, like the frequent “I love you,” the hug, or the kiss.  I took for granted that after forty years she knew that I loved her. Yet she craved to hear it said. Those regrets apply to the first part of the phrase, “what you don’t do for one…” Therin lies the positive to this terribly regretful negative, I get a chance to do it differently with my new wife, and so the second part of the phrase, “…you will do for the other,” applies. That is the positive born from the negative.

I am lucky to have another chance with a second wife, but how many widows and widowers never allow themselves that chance. They will never find the positive in their negative, at least not the way I found it. 

The best course of action is to make a goal to never, never, never, never, say or do something you will regret. Certainly not easy to do, but worth the effort.