Kick It Into High Gear

It is time to reflect on the past year and to account for the precious time granted me by the Lord. I struggled with my accomplishment list as I took inventory of what I did. I recalled that during my working years, at the end of a busy day, I often told my staff, “Well, we didn’t get much done today, but we will give it hell tomorrow.” So here goes my advice to myself, “Well Joe, you didn’t get much done in 2010, so give it hell in 2011.”

My accomplishment list is short this year, but the projects were larger. Here is a short list of things I am proud of:

I posted one hundred and seventy-five pieces on my BLOG. Among these posts were fifty-six political cartoons. Some of them were genius, others mediocre.

I wrote two children’s stories and submitted them to publishers: “FLYING TO THE SUN,” and “MOON CAKES TO GO.”  I rewrote a children’s story titled “FIRE FLY AIR FORCE,” for summer, and two Christmas stories, “SANTA IS MISSING, and “THE GIFT,” in time for Christmas.

Peggy and I spent twelve weeks basking in the sunny climes of Arizona while my kids stayed home to shovel snow. We visited cousins and friends in California.

Lion Joe organized and led the STRIDES: Lions Walk for Diabetes Awareness, with a team of really great Lincoln-Way High School teachers, and Lions.

In between those activities, Grumpa Jose  kept the garden in order, and the lawn maintained. This is the first year, I was proud of the green grass in front of our home. While I was tending the front with loving care, the backyard lawn turned  into thistle and chickweed.  Jose also waged a war with the Wabbits and built barriers around his flower beds. The Wabbit wars were documented on the BLOG. Just as the fence along our southern border fails to keep out drug runners, my fences were no match for the Wabbits. It turned out that West Nile virus is a more effective deterrent. While I waited for the virus to kick in, the Wabbits consumed my prize perennials.

In order to keep my sanity during this activity called 2010, I kept calm and chilled by consuming eight cases of red wine. Of all the accomplishments, the wine tasting was my favorite.

Finally, here is some  wisdom for my friends:

I know you didn’t get much done in 2010, so kick it into high gear, and give it hell in 2011.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Hug a Cactus

The winter doldrums have certainly set in. Grandma Peggy has the flu, the days are short, the weather is questionable, and I have the blahs. I don’t chose to have the blahs, they just come. When I get this way, I look at my cactus collection. It is not a huge collection, but I’m willing to bet that it is the largest one in Frankfort.

Why do I look at the cactus? For one thing, they are beautiful plants. How can a spiny thing like a stag horn cactus be beautiful? I see all life as beautiful.  Even a blah day has a beauty about it. All I have to do is to switch my mindset to anticipation of a bright sunny day, and life is good. The cacti give me an outlet to vent my frustrations. At times, when I get upset with someone, I tell them to go hug a cactus, and if I get very upset I’ll tell them to go kiss a cactus.

Cacti grow in extremely harsh environments and they are hardy survivors. They live without water for months, sometimes years. A cactus can withstand high temperatures, and suppress predation with their spines. Like all living things, they do succumb.

My cacti are not treated to a life of high temperatures, but do get treated harshly. In the winter, I bring them indoors and place them in a low light environment. Occasionally, I sprinkle them with a few drops of water.  When the temperature outside is above freezing, I move them into the garden.  I place them strategically between the perennials to add interest, and confusion. How confusion? Have you ever walked a perennial garden in the Mid-West to spot a desert plant nestled among the traditional plant life?

During the summer, my cacti are stressed, not by the heat but by the large amount of water they get. In the desert, light, heat, and water add up to procreation by  flowering. Nature compensates the gross stems and the spiny foliage with brilliant beautiful flowers. I have only had luck with one of my plants. It flowers every year, but the others have not. Obviously, my basement and yard do not yield the correct conditions to promote flowering. That is one problem to challenge the blahs.  I look forward to learning what it takes to get them to flower as beautiful as they do in the desert.

Here are some of my critters, and some real desert cactus in bloom.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Ho, Ho, Ho

Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas.

I hope Santa Claus was good to you.

One Day in a Life

My day started out great yesterday. The opportunity clock rang early, and I dragged my sorry butt out of bed to get ready for the Lions food distribution. This was a special day for me because Grand Elf Three was assisting me with the delivery. The temperature when I got up was fifteen degrees,but it would get warmer later in the day. Yeah, right.

The sun shone brightly with a few scattered white clouds. I arrived at my Grand Elves house to be greeted by Grand Elf Five.  I hugged her. She looked up at me sheepishly with a marvelous grin. I said, “What?”  Her little hands came out from behind her and presented me with a couple of genuine hand painted Christmas pictures.

She disappeared for a moment and returned to shove a certificate under my nose. I said “what is this?”

“I won,” she answered.

She won second place in an art contest for kids her age. Proud Grumpa hugged her again.

Grand Elf Three was slow getting ready, but finally managed to wear clothes appropriate for fifteen degrees. Thankfully, his mother stopped him dead at the idea of wearing shorts, a tee-shirt with a hooded sweat shirt, and his brand new basketball shoes.

We were off. The conversation in the car was somewhat difficult. The banter between two men with a sixty year age difference takes a bit to warm up.

I tried my best to answer questions like: Why are we distributing food? How come  Lions are always old men? Who started the Lions?  Why are we delivering food? What kind of food is it? Thank God we arrived at the distribution center.

Lion Al signalled me to back up to the garage door, and asked if I would mind delivering early. Grand Elf Three and I went into Lion Al’s house to meet several other “old men” Lions who were having coffee and kibitzing. Grand Elf Three spied the coffee cake and looked around to see if anyone was watching before he took a piece and swallowed it whole. I introduced him to several Lions and then we left. By the time we got to the garage, the trunk of my car was loaded with groceries destined for two families. Grand Elf Three’s eyes lit up. He finally realized what we were going to do.

The delivery went quickly, and the families we visited couldn’t express their thankfulness enough.

The conversation was easier now, and Grand Elf Three was more communicative. He mentioned to me at least three times, “that coffee cake was really good.”

I dropped him off in front of his house and waited for him to get into the house.

Same Day, Part Two.

At noon a van pulled up with Grand Elves One, Two, and Four with parents. A few seconds later another car pulled up with Grand Elf Three and his mother. Grandma Peggy and I bundled up and we departed in two cars. This was our annual Christmas under the Tree event at the Walnut Room. Grand Elves Five, Six, and Seven were sick and had to miss.

I led the caravan into the downtown flawlessly, then screwed up on Michigan Avenue. I spotted the entrance to the Grant Park underground garage and went right for it. As I passed the point of no return, I realized it was the South Garage. That was a full four blocks away from Macy’s. Grandma Peggy was not a happy camper, but she managed a painful smile and braved the bitter cold walk. By the time we swung through the revolving door of Macy’s she was limping, and there was an icicle hanging from her nose. Like I mentioned above, she was not a happy camper.

All this talk of recession is a myth, if all you do is observe the crowd at Macy’s. It was the most crowded of any year we have been making this pilgrimage. Our troupe got  tired waiting for an elevator and decided to hit the escalators instead. Seven escalators later we arrived at the Walnut Room. Fantastic, there was no line. Instead there was a desk handing out pagers. We waited a few minutes to get a pager only to hear that  the first opening they  have a table seating nine is 6:30 p.m. It was one thirty. My son and daughter looked at me and said, “are you gonna wait?”

“NOPE, lets just truck on upstairs to get a good look at the tree, take some pictures, and then head for the golden arches across the street on Wabash.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The scene that unfolded in Mac Donald’s was amazing. All nine of us lined up at the order counter and clicked off the orders in about nine seconds flat. It looked rehearsed, and was. How many times have these Grand Elves been at a Mac Donalds and have been hustled by their parents to move it along?  Each elf knew his order by number, and rattled off anything special like it was their everyday meal. This occasion also marked the first time I used a charge card at a fast food place.

The meal was a fun event as it always is with the kids. We relaxed and took our time. When we finished, the group split. One family went back to Macy’s to shop, while the other hiked along Michigan Avenue to the Art Institute to where the car was.

This was certainly the most expensive Big Mac I’ve eaten when I add the parking fee of $24.00 to the experience. Not to be beaten, I drove around the loop until I got a good look at the City of Chicago Christmas tree. A beauty it was, even though we saw it through the car windows. I wasn’t going to waste the gas and parking and not see that tree.

Grand Elf One Stars

Grumpa Joe is bursting with pride. He has witnessed four of his Grand Elves in concert over the last two weeks. Each performance has been outstanding. Last night I listened to an amazing bunch of kids with truly God-given talents. The Lincoln-Way  High School is loaded with over the top students. The teachers are motivated to bring out the best in their students, and it shows. Nothing short of excellence is expected. The entire District has the same expectations from the superintendent on down. The performance is called Kaleidoscope. The orchestration is smooth and the kids pull it off flawlessly.

The stage is filled with musical groups from singing chorales (mixed, women’s and men’s), a symphonic band, a sting orchestras, a jazz band, and various smaller groups. The performance begins with a  chorale singing carols then morphs seamlessly to the orchestra, and eventually into  a group of  percussion instruments. The performance  is not  interrupted until the intermission. The second half is equally loaded with marvelous student performers. The evening is genuinely professional in execution.  Each time the scene changes to a new musical group, it is spotlighted. Meanwhile, a new group is quietly assembling on stage in the dark. The background lighting  changes to enhance the performers and the sound.

Two weeks earlier, I enjoyed the performance of two Lincoln-Way non-varsity  bands. One of them featured Grand Elf Two.  Two nights ago, I watched class performances that featured Grand Elves Three and Five, and a wonderfully reverent re-enactment of Mary and Joseph’s trip to Nazareth, the birth of Jesus, the arrival of angels and shepherds, and the presentation of gifts by the three kings.

A lack of communication prevented me from going to the Christmas concert in which Grand Elf Five played the trumpet. It would have been the first time I heard him play the instrument.

Meanwhile Grand Elves Six and Seven are celebrating school activities in a city  far from Frankfort. Grumpa Joe hopes to be able to see them next year.

The three oldest Grand Elves are busy living the life of “Thirty Somethings.”  Grandma Peggy and I are praying they find engagement rings in their stockings this Christmas.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Grand Elf Christmas Pageant

With each passing year, I love little kids more. Not that I didn’t love my kids, but they were brats at times. Now, I can walk away from all the brattiness. It’s fun to watch them when they are at their best. It also gives me great pleasure to watch revenge being dispensed upon my own progeny.

Last night, Grandma Peggy and I went to watch Grand Elves 3 and 5 perform. Grand Elf 3 is in the school band, while his little sister, Grand Elf 5,  is in the first grade choir. They were great. The band reminded me of the scene from Music Man where Professor Harold Hill begins to conduct the kids with their new instruments. “Think kids, think.” Half of the band members were new to their instruments. The conductor/music teacher, proudly announced that they had been taking lessons for six weeks. Just as in Music Man, when the kids began playing, the parents began to swoon and had visions of their kid in Carnegie Hall.

I was pleased when the older kids re-enacted the tribulations of Mary and Joseph on Christmas Eve complete with a rejection at the Inn. This evening  is one that will  linger in my memory, and will be good for a few private conversations with their grandmother.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Tree of Life Keeps Giving

It might be my imagination, but this year I sense a spirit of caring that prevails across the country. Times are tough and people are out of work. I hear that a lot. It is what makes those who are working care for those who aren’t working. People not only care, they are giving from their hearts. I see Giving Trees at church, and at the Township Hall. I see people stuffing dollar bills into canisters at check out counters, I see people standing in front of super-markets with collection cans. Most are collecting for food. There are coat collection drives, toys for tots, and the list grows as the need increases. We are a giving nation, and conditions warrant taking care of those who are suffering, and I see people giving from their hearts.

Yes, Uncle does help, but only by placing a mortgage on the kids they help. Imagine if you were giving a gift to someone, but you made them sign a paper to pay it back with interest?  Uncle takes a big cut to keep high paid government workers voting his way.

Couldn’t we do better by ourselves?  Couldn’t private organizations do a better, more efficient job of taking care of those in need than Uncle? Yes we can, and we do.

Success Inspirers World

International Friends Forum - Springboard To Great Heights

Attila Ovari

Loving Life and Inspiring Others

Remember The 14 Words

We Must Secure The Existence Of Our People And A Future For White Children

galesmind

Come take a journey through my mind

Nutsrok

The humor and humanity of storytelling.

Henry Game

The Next Testament

Reclaim Our Republic

Knowledge Is Power

Grumpa Joe's Place

My Flag Flies Everyday

Gamintraveler

Travel Guides and Digital Nomad Lifestyle

summershaffer

A topnotch WordPress.com site

I Know I Made You Smile

cartoons/humor/fiction/nonfiction

blogsense-by-barb

at the Re-Birth of America!

The Honking Goose

something to honk about

The Dangers of Allah

Confused about Islam, Muslims, Taqiyya, Kitman, The Islamic State, and Sharia? I've spent 14 years studying these confused beings.  They are not at all what they want us to believe, especially those who are ruled by al Qaeda , ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood as well as those who commit overt and covert Jihad while practicing Sharia tortures upon women

dancingczars.wordpress.com/

“ The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility. ” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

THE WAKING GIANT

United States Second Amendment Pitbull

Caustic Synergy

United and alone in the world

ELLIOT LAKE News

Political INcorrect constructs & Forbidden Knowledge -- Yours To Discover

tutorials4view

Watch free tutorials in Full HD (1080p) quality video tutorials, sorted by subjects, like: Photoshop, Gimp, Facebook, Torrents, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, Viruses and malware removal ( like ask,com, vqo6, Babylon ) and more and more.. If you like our tutorials and guided, please SUBSCRIBE to out channel at: http://www.youtube.com/user/ShaiSoft - tutorials4view.

Aspiring Conservative

Conservative blog with articles about today's politics!

Conservative Kentucky

Reality From my Perspective

creepingsharia.wordpress.com/

Documenting the Islamization of America

Hearing Aid News

HEAR it HERE first! The latest on developments in hearing aids and the hearing industry.

Socialism is not the Answer

Limited Government Is

John SterVens' Tales

Thee Life, Thee Heart, Thee Tears