210502-Never Mind!

Today I experienced an example of how when I rely on the Internet for information it can lead me into a dead end. A few weeks ago, I married for the third time. The lady I chose for Mrs. Grumpajoe the third(GJ-3)is six years younger than Grumpajoe himself. The first Mrs. Grumpajoe-1 and I were the same age while Mrs. Grumpajoe-2 was five years older than he so the experiment here is to see if the younger Mrs. GJ-3 can out live him. Surely, I don’t want to see her fail and die a miserable death as 1 and 2 did, but I digress. 

Mrs. GJ-3 loves old stuff. With the great COVID close down of 2020 lasting into 2021 she has been shut out of one of her favorite past-times i.e. flea-marketing. Last Thursday she sprung a surprise on me by announcing that we were going to visit her grandson who lives in a town seventy miles from here. She had the days mapped out and this morning we were to go flea marketing. Generally, there are some very large markets that are open on the first weekend of the month. Today was the first weekend. Guess where we were going?

I had to search the internet to locate Gurney, IL which I remember having a huge market. They are also known for their large Outlet market place. My search didn’t find the Gurnee flea-market. Evidently, it was a victim of COVID. The nearest market was shown to be in the town of Grayslake. There was something odd about the way they listed the hours, and dates. Today’s activities were shown in a light blue text, while at the bottom of the listing were two more dates shown in bold-black in November, and December. Hymmm.

Mrs. GJ-3 and I got up early and hurriedly drove to the Lake County Fairgrounds home of said flea market. The parking lot was crowded and people were streaming forward in controlled lines, one-way in and others coming out in another lane. What was really strange was when we entered the building a nice young masked lady asked if we had an appointment. “Appointment for a flea market?” She laughed and said we should proceed and to tell them that we were walk-ins. We passed through the next door into this huge open space, and all I saw were people in orderly lines heading toward tables where other people were asking them to roll up their sleeves.  There were lines of unoccupied wheelchairs parked all around the lines. Then it dawned on me, we were in a COVID Vaccination site.    

We quietly backed out, but not before being given a hard sell to get a free vaccination while we were there. My argument was the CDC doesn’t recommend getting a third shot so soon after the first two. 

The ride home was much longer than the ride out. Our disappointment was showing on our faces and attitudes. Mrs. GJ-3 continued to search the net for information about Gurney only to learn first-hand that there was nothing, she found the same for Grayslake. That seemed to calm her down a little.

Burning gas is one of my least favorite things to do unless it is for a purpose. On the return, we passed through Mundelein and I turned into Grand Dominion a Del Webb development which has haunted me for twenty years. When I wintered in Arizona I stayed in Del Webb communities. Sun City, Sun City West, and Sun City Grand are all magnificently planned to support active life styles for old geezers like me. When I heard they have a community in Illinois north of Chicago I’ve always wanted to see what it was like. This morning I got to realize that idea. I can’t call it a dream, because it is nowhere close to a dream. The impression I got was it reminded me of Gateway an over fifty-five manufactured home community in Frankfort. Except the homes don’t arrive on wheels. They are nice size homes with what looks like PVC siding, and are spaced close to each other. The back yard is a postage stamp. The side facing the street is mostly a concrete drive way. In Arizona the homes are a few feet further apart, but the back yards are much larger to space people away from each other. At this location, the premium lots are on a small lake affording a lake view. In Sun City, the nice lots face an emerald green golf course. 

There is a large clubhouse near the entrance which I didn’t visit. It most likely houses the sales staff, swimming pool, some club rooms and a restaurant. The Old Dominion website lists all the amenities they provide. In the Arizona locations they have several community centers located throughout. These sites have sport and craft-activity rooms to house the more than three hundred hobby clubs that residents can amuse themselves in.  Overall, I was not impressed with the Illinois community. The homes didn’t impress me nor did the community layout. At least I saved a dead-end adventure and satisfied a long-time desire. Mrs. GJ-3 was not impressed at all, and dozed during my tour. Her dream is to live on a five acre lot with a large garden and a small forest separating neighbors.  

 

I Made It!

Throughout my lifetime I always made crude comments about people who park diagonally across the designated lines marking a parking spot. “Crazy old people” was one of my favorites. Parking diagonally takes up as many as three spaces and in a crowded parking lot that is a problem for those of us cruising the aisle s seeking a place to settle. Many years have passed and I taught myself to park between the lines as symmetrically as I possibly could. I pride myself on being able to do that. Parking with precision is my motto.

Last week I didn’t pre-plan my approach to a spot and pulled in as well as was possible for a long car. When I got out and looked at the position of the line relative to the car I laughed out loud and said, “Crazy Old Man.” I did it without trying very hard and parked diagonally in the spot. I achieved senior parking status without trying.

My plan is to buy a new car soon, as my trusty Avalon which I fondly refer to as the Death Star is beginning to show signs of age and the mileage is quickly approaching two hundred thousand. The problem I see for me is that the new car I want is longer and will be harder to park. So the title of “Crazy Old Person” will be forever bestowed upon me, by me.

Conclusions Over Time

During my lifetime I have worked in many companies and at many jobs. Often, I see a job that strikes my fancy, and then ask myself if that is what I would be able to do, or better yet what I would want to do.

A lifetime for some people is a long time, for others it is way too short, but a working lifetime can be an eternity of drudgery or the opposite an eternity of bliss regardless of how many years are spent doing it.

I’ve wanted to do this for a long time so today is the day I list some of the jobs that I will never do:

  1. Drive a truck long distances. I’ve driven across our country at least a dozen times and I know how long it takes and how boring it can be. In the beginning I thought that being a truck driver would be a nobel profession that I could enjoy. But, as the miles added up I changed my mind. There is no way that I could survive driving a semi-tractor hauling a trailer across the country day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year to make a living.
  2. Operate a molding machine. I worked in a place where we made things from plastic. I spent my career designing ways to eliminate the person from the process. The main reason was that the company didn’t want to pay the price of employing people to open and close a molding machine door to remove the plastic part. Yet we had many young men who thrived on doing just that. I would lose my mind if that is what I had to do to keep my family alive and well.
  3. Make art for a living. I love art, I love creating artistic pieces, but the pressure of doing it for a living just doesn’t appeal to me. Making one of something can be exciting, but making a hundred of the same thing turns me off. My creativity flourishes the best when I don’t have the pressure of trying to make a living doing it.
  4. Acting is another profession that appeals to me until I begin to analyze what life would be like doing it. It is one thing to act in a play for a few performances then get on with another, but the idea of being in a hit play that runs for months or years can be monotonous. I don’t think I could maintain a character different than myself for too long. Yet, the best actors and actresses can become someone else and play their roles day after day with a degree of professionalism that is commendable. To me it is like Ground Hog Day and after a week I’d rather listen to finger nails scratching across a black board.
  5. Policeman. A no brainer for me, The idea of trying to control the behavior of other people by writing tickets or mediating domestic problems or getting shot at by a bad guy is not appealing.
  6. Doctor of Medicine. Although I love science and learning about things I don’t like the idea of spending twelve years of intense study and practice to get there. I had actually considered becoming a doctor when I was fifteen, but decided against it when I thought about the hours involved and the intensity of the learning required.
  7. Priest. No way! I love God, but the prospect of becoming a celibate priest does not work at all. I spent a lot of my boyhood years on my knees as an altar boy and hated learning Latin prayers and responses. Most theology, and philosophy courses that I took just scrambled my brain and dumped me off.
  8. Flea market vendor. I like going to flea markets and the idea of making money by reselling stuff appealed to me. I did experience a few garage sales and enjoyed the activity of negotiating and selling, but mostly I enjoyed the kibitzing I did with the people who dropped by. Selling junk is okay, but accumulating and storing junk turns me off. The reason I loved my garage sale was because I was clearing my house from a lot of unnecessary stuff that just cluttered my mind and my real passions.
  9. Accountant-Keeping track of my debits and credits is the last thing on my list of enjoyable activities. Every year I struggle with completing a tax return. The wierd thing about it is understanding all the vocabulary that accountants use in their work. Reading an Internal Revenue Tax return is like reading an ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic tablet. Not my language at all.
  10. Write User manuals for a piece of technical junk like a computer or a printer. This is another world where the people who live in it use a special form of communication which only they understand. What is scary is that so many young people can actually make sense of it. Although I have learned that young people don’t really read manuals, they use repetitive activity to solve problems by trying and failing many things. Me, I try things too, but I stop doing it after failing a couple of times. My patience level for learning all the cute and tricky features on an Apple iPhone is about as long as the time it takes a balloon to deflate after a pin prick. They have also mastered the strange language of phone technology.
  11. Statistics-I understand the importance of using statistics to make sense out of data that on the face appears a jumble, but I can’t stand the mathematics needed to unjumble the data.
  12. Furniture making requires an intense focus on details and a knowledge of wood cutting equipment. I have just enough skill in this field to believe I could succeed, but in reality I don’t have the patience required.

I can go on and on listing the things that I can’t or won’t make a living doing, but making this list is beginning to bore me.

Easier Said Than Done

The end of the month is putting pressure on me to post so I can keep my readership numbers up. There is nothing like some friendly competition with myself. Actually, the competition is with you the reader. Without your visit to my blog I wouldn’t have numbers to measure against. I almost made writing a daily routine during the COVID lockdown. I recall posting seventy-something days in a row for a personal best. It almost killed me to use my brain that much. My usual routine is to begin the month with lots of posts and then about mid-month I get lazy and forget about writing. As the calendar numbers roll over, and the viewer numbers drop like a rock my ego gets a pumping and I kick writing back into gear.

I related in my last post that in high school and college I found writing stories to be fun. I still write them for fun, but only when they relate personal experiences. When I have to write a post or essay on a specific topic, I freeze. So the moral of my story is this, live an interesting life filled with exciting, joyous, and sad moments so you will have many experiences to write about.

Currently, I’m acting as a counselor for a small immigrant family of two, a grandson and his grandmother. They were a family of three, but the boy’s father was killed in an accident. All of their funeral experience is from a foreign country. The funeral traditions in our country are vastly different. Hence, they haven’t got a clue about how to arrange a funeral. Add to that the fact that they are in shock, and are emotionally distraught, they seek answers for the how-to’s of burying a loved one. One problem is that they pine for the homeland tradition, but it is not here. I try my best to explain our customs, but the homeland customs rule their thoughts. We struggle as a group to reach compromise that fills their homeland needs with our traditions.

Death was not on their minds when they immigrated here. Only the prospect of opportunity and freedom scrolled through their heads. The mother and her son were inseparable for the twenty years they have lived here. The grandson came ten years later, and he too became inseparable. The father maintained a base they all called home. All three of them took jobs caring for people who needed live-in help. They took jobs that required their presence on a 24/7 basis. Many of these jobs were short term because the client died. At any one time there would be one, two, three, or no-one living in their rented house. They did make a point to celebrate birthdays, and holidays together, and when they did it was precious for all of them. No doubt that someday in the future they will also consider this event a precious one.

The grandmother is very traditional European and somewhat superstitious. She likes horoscopes, shaman’s and the religious rites of her childhood. She had decided with the grandson that the body would be cremated. The idea of taking the dead person from the morgue to the crematorium was traumatic. Grandmother held her ground and we were able to talk the mortician into holding the body for one day so we could have a final viewing. Except, he didn’t recommend a viewing of any kind. The accident involved a fire and the body was totally unrecognizable. He provided the body in a large cardboard box on a gurney and covered it with a sheet. Grandma brought some candles which she lit and placed near the gurney. She picked fresh flowers from the garden and placed them on the body. She walked around and around praying and talking to her son for some twenty minutes. She even touched him by touching the sheet, but jerked back if she felt something solid. She had to have those moments with her son for the last time before he went into the flames.

Grandma gets very teary eyed at times but fights off crying. She has to be strong she says, for my grandson. He, on the other hand breaks out into tears at every remembrance of times together with his father. Often he will speak out and say, my mind is overloaded with thoughts of everything. His sudden ascension to the top of the family and the responsibility of maintaining the home front for his grandmother and filling all of his fathers dreams are causing him to overload. I keep telling him to focus only on that which is important to do today. Forgot the future, forget the motorhome, forget the pickup truck, forget your dad’s collections they are not important today. What is important is getting him situated in a place where he can rest peacefully forever. To his grandmother I say that her son’s very sudden death is a gift from God. He could have lived on as a vegetable much like the people you take care of. He would have hated that. Instead, he died instantly. It is your grief that is large, his suffering was very slight if any at all.

Easier said than done.

Into the Spotlight

COVID BEAR- Judy Gale Roberts Pattern

If I could jump into a time machine and transport back to nineteen fifty-two I would. There has been a question the answer to which has bothered me ever since I took a test to determine what profession I was suited for. I was registering for high school. The particular school had several college directed curriculums. I chose to go into pre-engineering. The guidance counselor told me that my scores did not indicate that I would become successful in that kind of career. Being strong-minded and strong willed I rejected their advice and began an education that eventually yielded a career in engineering. What I would like to know is what my test scores actually pointed me toward. No one would ever tell me. So for the past sixty-nine years I have lived in the dark abut whether I made a mistake by pursuing engineering.

The direction could have been any number of directions which might have been easier to come by. I was always tinkering with mechanical things, so I could have chosen to become a mechanic, or maintenance man. In between building model airplanes and sniffing a lot of glue I was always doodling artistically, and loved doing artsy things. I learned that I was a natural at mechanical drawing and had a strong ability to view three dimensional things and being able draw them in two dimensions from many different views, and vice versa. Printing and lettering by hand came almost as easily as cursive writing in the Palmer method. I hated all things like social science so that would have been out. Yet, today I seem to have a penchant for political science, and history. What did the test scores say? Should I have skipped going to college in favor of barber school like my dad recommended? What?

In high school, I learned that I loved to write stories, but hated grammar, sentence diagraming, and punctuation. Skip all the Shakespeare stuff along with all things to do with English literature. In college I definitely loved calculus, solid geometry, and art history. What a combination that is, art and math. I struggled through the many physics and high level math courses, but eventually succeeded in getting my Bachelors in Science, Mechanical Engineering (B.S.M.E.)

Horn Man-Original

In my aged wisdom I have concluded that what my real direction could have been doesn’t matter anymore, because my chosen career was my passion, and I succeeded in making a living, raising a family, and putting three kids through college and into careers in science.

For the last twenty-five years i have been dabbling in an art form called Intarsia. I like it because it incorporates art, with the use of my hands, and skill with wood cutting tools. I began with simple projects and slowly, ever so slowly my skill level has been improving. The early projects were all based on another artist’s vision of things like fish, teddy bears, and flowers. I bought patterns and used them to make pictures from wood. In the last ten years I have decided to develop the art form into something more. I go beyond two dimensional forms pieced together from different colors of woods with some minimal shaping to original designs based on photographs. I convert a photograph into a pattern then shape it into wood sculpture. The very first work I did I called “Horn Man.” It is based on a photo of my grandson Dan practicing with his trumpet. I felt so proud of this work that I have gone in this direction since. Today, I only use pre-made patterns when I like the subject. In fact I will take a pre-made pattern depicting something natural, and then add something special to make it mine. My second attempt at doing this combined a Judy Gale Roberts pattern of two blue jays drinking at a bird bath with my vision of the bird bath in an endless green lawn which has a single dandelion growing at the base of the bird bath. I call it “An Almost Perfect Lawn.”

A year ago, pre-covid era, I entered an arts and crafts show. I priced the pieces so high they would never sell. I needed to learn if anyone else besides me liked any of these works. Although no one bought anything I learned that my works have some appeal. One visitor told me that I was at the wrong show, and that my work should be exhibited at the Frankfort Fine Arts Show. Then COVID hit. All shows were cancelled.

Last month I decided to enter a couple of pieces into a show titled “Emerging Perspectives” at the Tall Grass Arts Association Gallery in Park Forest, IL. Still unsure of myself, I labeled the pieces NFS meaning not for sale. Since then, I have decided to enter as many shows as I can just to give my work some exposure. This morning I completed the entry for my piece titled “Three Roses,” into the Frankfort Arts Association Member Exhibition “Into the Light.” I love the show names, they really pump me up. Anyway, all this excitement about showing my art has raised the question I posed above, did my career interest test indicate that I should have pursued art as a profession? I’ll never know and I really don’t care any more, I like what I am doing: blogging to practice my writing, and using my wood working skills to produce some interesting art.

Three Roses-Original
An Almost Perfect Lawn-Judy Gale Roberts Pattern, Embellished

Cecil-Original

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