Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Friends Do Pass On

Here's Something About Two

Barney Bernard and Ted Kennedy passed away in the past few days. It's sad to hear of the passing of friends. Yes, both of them were friends of mine, both because of my involvement in the newspaper business.

Everybody knew Ted Kennedy and his brothers, President John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy, a presidential candidate, both of whom were assassinated. Most would say "who's Barney Bernard?"

I am proud to say that, in a few ways, I was a friend of all three Kennedy brothers, although just temporarily, through my coverage of their various activities, including Ted's plane crash injury, during my news-papering in New England. I am sorry for the families of the remaining Kennedys.

Nobody reading this blog but for perhaps a few locals knew Barney. He was the general manager of the local newspaper when I moved to Hobbs from Truth or Consequences and we became friends at once, first for his genuine help to me as a new employee of his newspaper and next for his levity.

Explain levity. Fun, jokes, pranks, things Barney was full of, constantly.

Every time I would enter his office on some errand or with a question, he'd look up and exclaim "Got a joke for you!" Often I'd leave his office laughing loudly and forgetting why I had gone there.

Pranks popped up on occasion. My birthday was June 14 and his June 18.
One year I sent him a Happy Birthday card with a girlie picture, signing it, "Love, Edna."

Amazingly, he later tracked down the card sender to my newsroom desk.

The following year on June 14, a florist delivered to my desk a bouquet of roses and tumbleweeds.

There was a card attached reading "I ditched Barney. Can we get to know each other? Love, Edna."

Another staffer arrived at work one morning to find his desk, chair and his old Remington typewriter sitting on the sidewalk outside the building, and adorned with a sign saying "we had to make room for the new reporter we just hired."

During World War II Barney was a B-17 bomber pilot. I didn't know him then, of course, but after hearing a brief statement about him at his funeral service this week, I sort of wish I had because we'd have been jokesters together for an ensuing sixty years or so.

His pastor related that Barney was a pilot who flew from an airfield high on a hill about 40 miles west of London, England. That brought a thought to my mind. I was stationed in an army camp just below an airfield on a hill 40 miles west of London.

Barney retired in 1987 and joined an informal group of guys calling themselves The Old Farts Club, meeting about 9 in the morning on a bench inside the old Hobbs Post Office.

On occasion I'd walk in there to mail a package and the first thing I'd hear was "Hey, Charlie, come here, I've got a joke for you." Barney was 93 when he died rather suddenly last Saturday.

The Veterans' Honor Guard professionally folded the United States Flag which had covered his casket and presented it to his widow after a bugler played the mournful "Taps," honoring the airman who flew 16 bombing missions over Germany so many years ago.

Bless you, Barney.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Goo Gone Again

But, Oh, My Face

A few years ago a suspicious lump on the left side of my face was deemed by Dr. John something that Dr. Jon the dermatologist, should take a gander at and when he did, he sliced open a couple of inches of cheek and took out a mass of goo he called melanoma.

I was too young at the time, 69 or 70 I think, to realize that the goo was a deadly form of cancer. About 15 years ago I had another lump on the same side and I decided to have it investigated, along with a black spot on my left wrist under my thumb.

The cheek was opened up again and twice as much goo, melanoma, was removed. On the hand, Dr. Brent, dug out what he called squamous cell carcinoma. Dr. Jon had left town after that first operation.

So last Friday, because I had found a sudden growing lump on the right side of my aging face, Dr Brent cut out more goo that he called squamous cell carcinoma. After a half hour of lab testing, he came back and said it was a very aggressive and deep cancer and dug out another batch.

All gone now, he told me as he stitched me up and his nurses put a heavy and sticky bandage on me. Now Lady B. has removed the bandage and re-dressed the scar. I looked in a mirror and wow - I found that Dr. Brent had sliced down along by my ear for three and a half inches. It's a wonder my ear is still there.

Now I know many others have had similar operations to get rid of these skin cancers and what happened to me isn't that unusual but, heck, I had to have my moment in the limelight, hence the blog.

Now that left hand is bothering me again. Dr. Brent says there's no cancer there so Dr. John, my friendly physician since 1980, had me today undergoing a bone scan, X-ray exams and a conductivity test, to determine if I have maybe a carpel tunnel problem. Today's results can produce a whole new blog soon no doubt. That will probably be a Friday night topic.


What I thought was going to be an ongoing saga up there in Washington state, a batch of bees in the wall of Scrabblebuff's upstairs rest room, has fizzled.

Leolady has informed me that the buzzing bees in the wall turned out to be a batch of hornets which an exterminator has killed using a powerful insecticide sprayed into the wall through drilled holes.

Any returning hornets entering the nest in the next few days , the exterminator says, should die off quickly as they reach the insect goo left in the wall.

That goo also killed what had been a promising story.


Clancy, the Gourmet Wiener Dog, and author of the blog POSTCARDS FROM CLANCY , was rescued a few years ago by Yarntangler and Geezer Guy here in Hobbs, just as she (the dog) was about to be euthanized. She will feel pretty sad to learn the place where her humanoids found her has closed down.

The country's economy is to blame. This volunteer society, a "no kill" place where dogs and cats and a few other types of pets were housed until somebody adopted them, has lost most all of its funding, both voluntary and the $26,000 United Way supplied in prior years, because there just isn't the money to go around anymore.

One hundred twenty six animals were transferred to a newly-built city pound where adoption is being stressed but the facility is not a guaranteed "no kill" haven. Some of the animals went to temporary "foster" homes but that arrangement is as said "temporary."

What to do with growing animal populations - unwanted populations -
is a problem facing not only this community but cities and town and villages all over the country. Yes - what to do?

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Bees and Brakes,

Horses and Tomatoes,
And Other Stuff Too!

Out of Scrabblebuff's hometown in Washington state comes what is probably the BEGINNING of a humming saga.

This saga began yesterday afternoon with a call from SB wanting some advice."Daddy, who would you think would be responsible for removing a bee's nest from inside the walls of my house, the landlord or me?"

And then "and outside the house there's a big nest of either wasps or hornets," This part of the two-headed problem probably is easy to solve.

Those hornets or wasps OUTSIDE the house most likely are the responsibility of DRUMMER BOY (aka SB's hubby) who, armed with cans of 20-foot spray from a garden shop, should be able to murder most of the flying critters once they get into the nest for the night.

Now for the bees INSIDE the house and in the walls, which, incidentally, are preventing the use of an important part of the household - the upstairs rest room. That room is no longer a place for rest I hear.

My first answer and advice was " the landlord is responsible and you should call her." Good answer and advice says SB "but I've been trying to reach her on the phone but this is just about the time she is vacationing in Hawaii."

Scrabblebuff is a daughter with a lot of brains. (just try playing Scrabble with her!) She's canvassed the beekeepers of the area and found a friendly one with some advice.

He has opined that with the amount of activity seen in the rest room as described by SB, and the sounds she hears in the wall, that she probably has a fifty (50) pound honeycomb between the interior and exterior walls of the house and a population of 20,000 honey bees, give or take a few dozen.

"Could you remove them?" SB wanted to know. ""Oh, sure, was the answer but it would cost about $600 and that doesn't include the cost of opening the walls and then re-building them again." There's a problem.

I can't solve the problem but since the beekeeper said HONEYBEES, it would seem to me that if he removed 20,000 bees he would also be getting many pounds of HONEY, which , as a knowing businessman, he could sell at a handsome profit (honey is an expensive delicacy).

Scrabblebuff, if she hasn't already recalled, perhaps will soon remember that back in Pennsylvania and in many other parts of the country most beekeepers recover honey from unwanted places for folks just for the opportunity to make themselves a good living selling honey.

I haven't talked today with SB but hope she might figure this out and make a deal. Now ripping apart the house and re-building is another
conundrum. Stay tuned for more on this topic.


And when they do, what happens? Usually an accident - you bash the car into the rear of somebody else's car or truck, get a ticket from a cop for following too closely and/or driving with defective equipment.

But you are at home, just arriving in your driveway after work and easing into your carport. Our next-door lady neighbor stepped on the brake pedal the other day as she started into her carport.

In an instant, the carport was down and atop the car and the backyard cinder-block storage shed was spread helter-skelter all around . Nobody hurt. No tickets. Oh, yeah, no brakes either.


After weeks of waiting for her single tomato vine back of the house to provide her some red tomatoes, my DIL harvested two the other day.

Then she noticed the two horses in the next lot needed water in their trough just over the fence.

Garden hose in one hand, two tomatoes and a squash in the other, DIL commenced to pour water into the trough. Horse number one sidled up to her along the fence and with a sudden lunge, snagged and ate a red tomato.

Startled, DIL noted horse number two approaching and, trying to protect the squash she also had harvested, wasn't quick enough to prevent horse number one from sneaking his snout over the fence again and wolfing down the other red orb. And they say humming birds are attracted by red.

Well, the horse needed the water. One was hungry, too!


On Main Street in Jacksonville, the one in Florida, not Vermont, a man hurrying too fast was pulled over by a cop, according to Clarence and Millicent Powell, a couple of Jacksonville acquaintances.

"But officer," the man said, "I can explain." "Be quiet," the officer said, "I'm going to let you cool your heels in jail until the chief gets back."

"But officer I just wanted to say" and from the cop "And I said to keep quiet, you're going to jail."

Two hours or so later the cop looked in on his prisoner and said:

"Lucky for you the chief is at his daughter's wedding." He"ll be in a good mood when he comes back."

"Don't count on it," says the fellow in the cell, "I'm the groom."

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Seen and Heard . . .

. . . And Other Stuff

Getting from there to here can sometime be frustrating when orange barrels spring up suddenly at intersections that were clear just a bit earlier when going from here to there.

Went to the pharmacy yesterday morning, waited a half hour for the prescription the pharmacist said would be ready in five minutes, then headed back home.

The exit from the parking lot was closed. Went to another exit. Also closed.

Followed a garbage truck through a back alley and reached a road, turned left and headed home. That didn't work. Orange barrels took over and I had to go seven blocks before finding a lane to take me toward home.

Success at last but another little hitch - this a funny one.

Suddenly a squirrel started across the street from my right. I stopped. Right behind the squirrel, coming at a fast pace, a black cat! Exciting. And now the climax. Streaking after the cat, a humongous black dog!

The chased and the chasees disappeared behind a house. Never did see the outcome. But it removed my thoughts of the orange barrel frustrations.

The other night Lady B and I went to bed early and were just about dozing off when an unusual event came about - a party!


Out in California, number one son sat down with some friends, inadvertently sitting on his cell phone. How no one knows but his cell phone suddenly rang Lady B's cell phone. in Hobbs, New Mexico. It was 10:14 p. m. New Mexico time, an unusual time for a call from that son.

I answered and heard my son's voice but got no communication from him. I heard his wife's voice and then numerous other voices. It sounded like a high-pitched and excited conversation, as if it could have been EMS people and maybe police shouting in an emergency situation. I was worried.

I at once was imagining there was a problem and I attempted to have someone hear me but there was no answer, just confusing background conversation.

I listened some more and then heard another voice laughing, a lady;s voice I recognized and then realized my son and his wife were at a party at a friend's house and deduced for myself what had happened.

The next day son number one verfified that was probably what had happened, a chance call from his butt.

Late in July Lady B's extended family held its bi-annual reunion in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico and all attending, including this blogger, had a fine time.

The reunion was, however. not without its startling or amusing happenings. First was a nighttime excursion on a trail with Pinky, our pink little Chihuahua, who faltered when she and I heard another camper yell "Stop, don't come any further, I'm trapped by a rattler."

I summoned a few other male campers from a dorm, left the dog there, and headed to help. One of the braver guys killed the rattlesnake with a huge rock.

The same night one of the reunion members had to fend off three bats in his room. Next morning a mule deer attempted to crash the morning breakfast at the camp mess hall.

And finally in broad daylight, a skunk wandered around a vehicle a few feet away from me and then non-nonchalantly over my shoes on its way to nearby woods. Having experienced a sudden skunk appearance in the past, just freezing in place avoided any unpleasantness.

Lady B and I had two visitors yesterday afternoon. As is our daily custom, we make copies of the newspaper crossroad puzzles so we could each work it at the same time and, expecting our friends, this time we'd made four so we could all do the puzzle (take note Chris.)

We all got to work on them after dinner . As happened with Chris earlier this year, we had taken on a challenge. As we pencilled and erased our way through the puzzles, the other two sat back and watched.

We glanced at them and noted they weren't doing anything, looking, I thought, a little smug. Both had BALL POINT INK pens laying on the table, beside COMPLETED puzzles, just like Chris back in January! Lady B has a sister smart like that, too.

We may forget our crossword puzzle custom in the future whenever we have company in the house.

A friend of mine was recently discussing how his children had grown and gone their ways. Both a girl and a boy had gone through colleges and obtained their master's degrees.

Their second son had balked at college however, this friend said, and "just got into the plumbing trade."

He added "if it wasn't for him. me and the wife and the other two would be starving."

On a very hot (104*) day last week as I headed down home I saw a car with its hood up at the roadside beside a series of sprinklers soaking down newly- planted grass on the health walkway.

The registration plate was different and four little kids were outside under the spraying water!

I saw as I pulled up to a stop for possible assistance , that the car was from Pennsylvania and the vehicle had a car dealer symbol on the rear reading "Simpson Chevrolet, Morrisvile, Pa."

The driver approached and I asked if he needed help. He explained his air-conditioning unit had quit, the kids were very hot, he spotted the sprinklers and stopped to let the kids enjoy the spraying water.

As I directed him to a garage where he could get new freon , he explained the family was on vacation to Utah, coming from "a little town on the Delaware River."

"That must be Morrisville, like it says on the back of your car," I said and he replied, "No, it's Levittown."

So we had a brief conversation, me telling him I used to live and work there and he relating he and the family had moved there a year earlier from Cape Cod in Massachusetts

Sometimes it's a small world.

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