Crossing the Bridge

Today is one of those days when I feel the need to write something, but don’t have a clue about the topic. So here I am jumping into the fray hoping inspiration will kick in.

I just got off the phone with a buddy from grammar school. We discussed many things and one of them was our paper routes. It turns out that I got his route when he quit. We discussed dead beat customers who never paid on time. Those were the days when a route was a franchise, and I bought the newspapers and delivered them. If I wanted to get paid I had to collect from my customers. There were weeks when all my pay (profit) was tied up   in unpaid subscriptions. Eventually, I hounded the dead beats into paying up. The hipocrisy of these folks was that they were the ones who complained the most. The paper is late, the paper was in the bushes, the paper was wet, I didn’t get the paper, the list went on and on.

I kept the route for two and a half years, starting in the sixth grade and finishing in the eighth. When I started high school it was time to give it up. Another boy from the neighborhood took it over and had it until he finished school.

I crossed over the bridge to high school, and a new chapter of my life began. I was partially liberated from my parents and free to join clubs and sports activities at will. What did I choose? A job.

The priests who taught at my school lived in a monastery and needed someone to answer the phone and take messages for them. I was the one. It gave me a place to do homework while I waited for the phone to ring. The job started at 4:00 p.m and ended at 7:00 p.m. That gave me a little time to wander around the local business area before I started. I caught a streetcar to go home and was usually home by eight.

Kids today, don’t have experiences like that anymore. When school is finished they run to catch the school bus to take them home. If they are in sports or a club they run to catch the special bus which runs later. Too many kids today, have their own cars to use, and don’t even use buses.

I was a senior before my dad allowed me to use the family car to get to and from school. He always allowed me to use the car for weekend activities, but very seldom did he give his ride to me. I didn’t own a car until I finished college and bought one for my self.

 

I Resent That

 

Yesterday, John Dean, a lawyer from the Watergate-Nixon era testified before Congress. His mission was to bash Trump and to point us toward impeachment. What really pissed me off was not that Dean was a credible witness which he is not, but that the news people kept telling me that he is eighty years old. So what? The implication was that being eighty makes one unknowledgeable and not credible. I’m over eighty and I believe I can keep up with the best of the younger generation. Not only that, I hang with a group of men in which I am the baby. Any of us would be capable of debating any newscaster in the country. We keep abreast of the news, and we regularly debate current issues all while remaining friends.

Aging definitely comes with problems, many of them are memory related. Those of us who are lucky enough to retain our minds live active cognitive lives. One thing for sure, we aged have to put up with too many memory loss jokes, although I find most of them hilarious. When one experiences age related memory problems as I have, the age jokes don’t seem very funny no matter how true they may be.

I happen to live with a wife who is one of the unfortunate aged who has lost her ability to remember anything. The sadness of her disease is that she is at a point where she has given up chewing and is now forgetting how to swallow. Think about that one. Try eating (baby food) without being able to chew or swallow. Her best meal these days is breakfast. She seems to be most functional after twelve to fifteen hours of sleep. She eats a decent breakfast but then goes downhill from there refusing to eat either lunch or supper. Some men consider me lucky since she has been unable to speak for over three years.  Speech is a valuable function we take for granted. For instance, she cannot tell me how she feels, or what hurts. The only sound she can make is a siren like whine when we (me and her caretaker) move her to change her. I have to read her body language to get an idea of her situation.

My advice to people these days is to pray for a quick death. People who drop dead instantly receive a gift from God. In my wife’s case she is the opposite. Looking back at our history together her first symptoms began to appear seven years ago. She is at a point where the skin on her lower extremities has very poor blood circulation and the result is she gets pressure sores that cannot heal. One doctor told me that her disease is terrible because the brain dies before the rest of the body. I agree with that assessment, but will add to it. When the body does begin to fail it does so in a slow creeping manner. The life force of blood is needed to support major organs so body parts like toes, feet, legs etc. lose.

My philosophy is to give her the best drug-free quality of life possible. At this point the quality is in how comfortably she sleeps. When my beloved sleeps twenty-two hours a day, and is frowning the whole time she is in some kind of discomfort. Right now I am wrestling with a decision to use morphine to ease her discomfort. I get an argument from her caretaker that morphine will make her to sleep more and accelerate her death. The hospice nurses argue that morphine merely relaxes a person so they don’t fight so hard to live with pain. The relaxation allows them to pass comfortably and peacefully. One argument I make with myself is that if she is no longer eating or drinking, and sleeping twenty-two hours a day what difference will it be if I administer morphine and she sleeps twenty-four hours in peace.

What a Revoltin’ Development This Is

Those of you who know me know that I am a very conservative guy. I believe in paying only those taxes that are lawfully mine to pay. I own firearms and am a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. I support legal immigration only. It isn’t that hard to get in folks; play by the rules. I believe DACA is a ploy to weasel more illegals into the country. I hate socialism with a vengeance. Socialists are just communists in sheep’s clothing. I want the wall, and promoted Obama’s shovel ready stimulus of eight hundred billion dollars. It could have paid for walls on the North and South borders in a heart beat, with money left over to rebuild every bridge in America, and people would have gone to work. I believe in personal responsibility, and paying my way. That is how my democrat parents raised me. My parents were democrats because that is what my Dad’s bosses told him he was, and Dad told Mom. The Democrats are for the working man they told him. My parents lived their lives as conservatives. They had to, they came to this country legally through Ellis Island, had sponsors and jobs lined up. Then the Great Depression hit, and had to live on a shoe string. They abhorred “charity” from the government. Toward the end of her life my siblings and I learned that Mom may have been in the country illegally, but that is another story and a good one too. What I am trying to say is that I believe strongly in immigration. My only problem is with “illegal” immigration.

Eventually, I will get to the main point of this essay, bear with me.

Yesterday, my house cleaning crew came. House cleaning is one of those jobs that I refuse to do, so I delegate it to someone else, but they don’t work for free. The crew is a mother and daughter from Mexico. For the past three years that they have worked for me I have always wondered if they were here legally. It has been twenty years since they arrived, I thought at worst they may have been part of an amnesty. I still don’t know. I love to tease the daughter about her work habits, and often ask her why she doesn’t further her education. She never gives me a good answer. She was three when her parents brought her to America. She speaks excellent english without a hint of an accent, but she rattles off Spanish to her mother who still doesn’t speak English well. The Señorita has a good grasp of our government and the Constitution.

These women do excellent work, and Senora’s husband works for a remodeling contractor. Señor has also worked for me painting and dry walling. All of them work like the Energizer Bunny, they just keep on going. The entire family is religious and close-knit with many friends and relatives.

Daughter told me she is going to get a job in 2019. I asked her why when she is self-employed? “Well if I don’t get a job, I will lose my DACA and get put a deportation list.” WHAT? Why are you a part of DACA?”

“My mother thought it would be the best way for me to get a Social Security number.”

The wheels began spinning in my head. Obama invented DACA to allow unaccompanied minors into the country. This young lady has been here for twenty years she is twenty-three now. She wasn’t a minor, nor was she unaccompanied when she arrived. Given that DACA is six years old she would have been sixteen at the time and probably could have passed for younger.

All this is making my head explode. I feel for this girl. At three years old she didn’t come here by herself, her parents dragged her. Being an obedient child she obeys her parents. She is a victim of our government, and a Congress to unable to straighten out the mess, but she is also a victim of her parents. They are living the better life they came here to live; a house, cars, smart phones, and all the amenities of an American family.

What really scares me is how many more kids have signed up for DACA. I don’t think the law intended to include kids who have been here for thirteen years. No wonder the politicians call it a broken system. They have rewritten the immigration law in little dribs and drabs to the point where it is undecipherable and impossible to enforce. Combine that with an open border and the flood gates are open.

Now, here is the revoltin’ development. What do I do? Do I keep things the same? These people have become my friends and certainly do excellent work for me. Do I report them and become the Scrooge of the century? What do I do?  Yes, “what a revoltin’ development this is.”

Based on how easy it was for my friends to come here and to sign on to DACA thirteen years later I’d say the entire country has a revoltin’ development. How many hundreds or thousands of kids have joined the fray making it too big to fail? It’ll take Trump six years to straighten this out because of all the preposterous jack asses in the country who fight against him from every angle. We not only need to drain the swamp from all the government insider freeloaders we have to vote out the entire Congress. I think a shooting war would be easier; another revoltin’ development.

 

Honest, I only Had One Beer

A man walks into an old pub in Dublin, takes a seat at the bar and orders 3 pints. After he is served he takes sips from them in turn and when all 3 glasses are finally empty he orders 3 more. The barkeeper, who has been watching him, has never seen such a weird style of drinking and says to the man: “You know when you leave a beer for too long it goes flat, so they would taste better if you order just one at a time.”
“Well”, says the man at the bar. “You see I have 2 brothers who I used to drink with, but unfortunately one moved to America and the other one moved to Australia. Now we are on 3 different continents and we hardly ever see each other. So I drink a pint for me and 2 for my brothers. This way we at least try to keep this tradition alive and it feels like we’re still together.”
The bartender agrees that this is a beautiful explanation for his weird behaviour and the man becomes a regular at his bar. The other customers also get used to his ritual of ordering 3 pints and drinking them in turn.
But then one day “Mister 3 Pints” comes in and orders only 2 glasses. The whole pub gets silent and the by the time the man orders a second round of only 2 pints the barkeeper says: “I’m terribly sorry as I don’t want to intrude on your grief, but I just wanted to offer my condolances on your loss.”
The man looks puzzled, but then a smile breaks through and he says. “Thanks a lot, but everyone is fine really. It’s just that my wife had us join the Baptist church and I had to give up drinking. But my brothers are still Catholics, so it didn’t affect them.”

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Yesterday, Peg and I spent a quiet day together. Just her and Me. We haven’t had such a day in quite some time. Peg’s caretaker hasn’t had a day off in over month and when her son called to say he was coming to  take her on an adventure she jumped at the chance. Being the outstanding employer that I am I jumped at the chance to get her out of the house away from me and Peg for a few hours.

The caretaker’s son owns a motorhome and he stores it in a barn for the winter. He planned to put it into storage this weekend. “What a great day to take mom out into nature to unwind before I put this thing away for the winter.”  Not that her job is that stressful, but it is boring and boring leads to stress. Her routine is to keep Peg fed, clean, medicated, and happy. She does three of the four exceptionally well.  Keeping Peg happy is a huge task. Only because we can never tell how she feels or what she feels. Peg doesn’t communicate, ever. The only time we know she is unhappy is when she experiences pain. Then she communicates with a yelp, scowl, or grimace.

The two of them left in this huge motorhome to places unknown to me. Peg and I were alone, all alone. In our better days before her dementia hit there is no question about how we would have spent our alone time, but this time we were alone and unable to fool around. I said a prayer that I would remain a good husband throughout the day.

I did fairly well in moving Peg to bed for her afternoon respite from the wheelchair. We force her to lay on her side only to get the pressure off her ass. Otherwise she develops a skin breakdown ending in a bedsore. We don’t like bedsores, neither does Peg. If you watch the commercials for lawyers looking for business, you will note that if your loved one in a nursing home has a bed sore it is grounds to sue for negligence. Therefore, we don’t like bedsores, not because lawyers love them but because they are painful, and ugly, and horrible to look at.

The caretaker’s son Freddie returned his mother to the job in time for Peg’s bed hour. To appease me for stealing his mother for a day he presented me with a bottle of Crazy Brewski beer. Brewed in his home country of Lithuania and bottled here in South Carolina.

Crazy Brewski, Lithuanian Beer

Of course Peg saved her daily BM for me. I struggled through the cleanup and re-diaper with a minimum of fuss and she was happy, I think. Supper was fun. I made it easy by popping a frozen pizza into the oven and literally threw shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and balsamic vinegar dressing into a bowl for salad. We ate together, She polished off one eighth of the pie, and in the same time I finished four eighths, or half the pie. She sipped on a glass of pink Moscato through a straw and I swilled two glasses of Pinot Noir. That difference in eating is why Peg never weighs more than a hundred pounds with a 28 inch waist and I thunder about at 198 and a bulbous 40 plus waist.

This evening I popped for a couple of rib dinners from a local take out called Mindy’s famous for ribs. To go along with it I split the Crazy Brewski with the caretaker. Normally, I have a single glass of red wine with my supper, but I substituted the wine with the Brewski. A few sips into the beer, which was excellent, and sweet, I took note of the alcohol content. Crazy Brewski has 15% alcohol. A normal US beer like Coors has at most 4% and wine has 11%.  Needless to say, I am buzzed. 

That is my story, and I’m sticking to it. 

I Would Be A Democrat If . . .

A friend recently sent me this piece about our past President Harry Truman. He was one of the greatest president’s America ever had. If our current day politicians had the same morals and character as Harry our country would be greater than ever and we wouldn’t have to make it great again. Please watch this video, read the vignette, and think about it.  Harry & Bess Harry Truman was a different kind of President. He probably made as many, or more important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 Presidents preceding him. However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House. The only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri . His wife had inherited the house from her mother and father and other than their years in the White House, they lived their entire lives there. When he retired from office in 1952 his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year. After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves. There was no Secret Service following them. When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he declined, stating, “You don’t want me. You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me. It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.” Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, “I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.” As president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food. Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth. Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale (cf. Illinois ). Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, “My choices in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference!” I say dig him up and clone him! If you agree, forward it. If you don’t, delete it. I don’t want to know one way or the other. By me forwarding it, you know how I feel.

Women???

pantyraid

1950’s Panty Raid

Panty-Raid-2

A Very Large Panty-Raid

In the nineteen fifties when I went to college things were a bit different between the sexes. Men lived in male dorms on one side of campus and women in ladies dorms on the opposite side. Fraternities and sororities were pretty much the same. We spent our time going to bars to meet girls; clubs were another avenue. Study time at libraries was also a popular venue, as was our student center with the coffee shop. My classes in engineering were void of women. They just didn’t want to become engineers yet. If they did they faced a very biased male teaching staff that believed a women’s place belonged in home economics rather than in thermodynamics.

When spring finally came, and everyone was suffering with cabin fever the hormonal juices increased with the level of sunshine. Both testosterone and estrogen began doing the job intended by our Creator. One evening I sat at my desk when I heard a noise in the distance. Not knowing what it was I ran outside to discover that a panty-raid was in process about six blocks away. Not wanting to get into trouble near the end of the year I stayed away, but listened to all the stories with relish after is was over. Our student newspaper also recorded the event with photos.

During a panty-raid the men marched en masse cheering and chanting from the west side of campus to the east   to raid the girls dorms to steal panties. With all the noise the men made, the proctors in the ladies’ dorms had enough warning to lock all the doors to keep men out. The girls knew beforehand what was happening and flocked to the windows to the delight of the men. Of course the boys would begin to crawl through the lower level windows to gain entry. Girls in the upper floors began to dangle their panties out to tempt the guys. Mayhem ensued when the girls began tossing their undies out to the crowd, and the guys who made it into the rooms had quite a story to tell about how they acquired underwear. Without being the room with them I could never know exactly what ensued. I am sure that by the time the stories were told they were embellished and expanded beyond what actually happened.

Today’s students may read this and think how lame. Yes, compared to today’s coed dorms, and free sex on demand are quite something. Our kids probably believe a panty-raid is something you do at Sunday school. The moral of this story is to tell the story some sixty-two years after the fact. I participated in my own style of sexual experimentation with the opposite sex, but it too was tame by today’s standards. But what if I were being considered for a big job in government and one of my college dates decided to write to her Congressman about how traumatized she was by my crude and unsuccessful advances. Could she really remember that time accurately? I told you a story above about panty-raids to the best of my ability, but I’m sure if you were to research panty-raids you might learn they were much different from my tale. Would our youthful experiments in sexuality really matter to anyone or to anything? I am also certain that each of us has their own story to tell about a youthful adventure in sex education.

I finished college with a degree, and so did all my dates. I have never seen any of them since that time to know if I traumatized them. I pray they all had happy lives and found faithful partners. I did.

I met the girl of my dreams on a blind date. I was a perfect gentleman throughout our courtship and can very proudly state that we were both virgins when we married, although I tried like heck to not be one.

no-longer-does-panty-raids-girls-come-to-his-dorm-2555614

2018 Version of a Panty-Raid

The Mob vs Gangs

This morning after mass I stepped into our parish hall for hospitality. I sat and had coffee with another “old guy” who is just a year younger than me. Bill lives in a community outside of Frankfort named Gateway. It is an over 55 community. He started discussing how he loves it there, and how he has suddenly become allergic to mowing the lawn. Age triggers many allergies you know. He took to hiring a sixteen year old grandson of a resident. The kid cuts a hundred lawns a month at $20 a cut. That is amazing money for a teen ager 20 x 100 = $2000. Our conversation drifted to where we grew up. Bill in the Bridgeport neighborhood, and me in Burnside. We both attended Catholic high schools, Gordon Tech and Mendel. Our sports teams competed against each other.

Our conversation drifted to how the mafia dominated his neighborhood. He told of being in a neighborhood restaurant with his parents when two men dressed in long black overcoats and black fedoras came in. One stood at the door to prevent anyone from coming or going. The other walked through into the kitchen looked at everyone there then moved into the lady’s room to do the same. Finally the guy went into the men’s room to search it. Evidently he didn’t find who he was looking for so the two of them left. “There is no doubt in my mind that the guy they were looking for would have died on the spot,” said Bill. I couldn’t top that story, but it brought to mind that even though we don’t hear about mob killings anymore like when we were kids, we hear about gang killings daily. They are so common we don’t even get upset about them anymore. Then the idea that killing people on the streets is a long time Chicago tradition came to mind. Shooting people on the street has been part of our culture, and has been for almost a hundred years.

The next time I read the shooting count, like this morning, six wounded, one dead, it will just pass like the mob killings of my youth. It isn’t about gun control it is about eliminating bad people within the community. I have to admit, however, that the mob limited killing to their enemies while the gangs will kill anyone in the way. Therefore, they are not the same and I shouldn’t compare the mob to gangs. Gang killing is not just the result of rivalries, it is often a rite of passage. In some cases killing is necessary to prove you are man enough to join a gang.

I also remember that if I had any ideas of joining a street gang to cause trouble, the trouble would have been mine. My Dad would have punished me in a way that hurt long and hard, killing would have been too easy on me.  I truly believe that the current gang problem is the result of kids being raised in fatherless families. There is one thing fathers are good at like dispensing punishment, deprivation, banishment, or some other form of misery to their kids who err. The problem is that mother’s never wait for the father to come home, and they dispense justice immediately. If the job was too big for Mom she relied on the famous standby  “wait until your father gets home.” That wait was enough to make me change my ways.

“Ah, the good old days!”

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