Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Last Day . . .

. . . Of The First Month

January has been a combination of the BEST for NaBloPoMo and not the BEST for me.

But here we are at January 31, the last day of the BEST month so far in 2010.

It's been the BEST for NaBloPoMo because I have managed to get a blog out each of the 31 days including tonight, one extra to correct the publication date and, Chris tells me, FOURTEEN publications of one blog's title about a week ago. Weird , since I deleted the title just once!

And why has it not be a BEST month for me? Besides my ongoing gripes of doing too much work on that old house, and being tired, I now am facing a challenge tonight - take up the February blog trail featuring TIES or tackle FACEBOOK.

I DON'T WANT TO HANDLE BOTH THOSE CHALLENGES. One requires a lot of thought and a little time at typing. The other requires LOTS of time and patience maneuring through a lot of not-yet-understood "confirms," "walls," " boards." "farms" and dozens of people I don't know wanting to be friends.

It's now 5:15 pm. Mountain Standard Time so that gives me until nearly midnight Monday, roughly 30 hours or so to make up my mind. Monday night you may know my decision. If you don't hear from me, it's probably indecision, but we'll see.

- 30 -

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mrs. Mike . . .

. . . Country Traveler

Unless you are an old movie buff or an avid reader you probably have never heard of "Mrs. Mike." So I need to tell you about her.

Back in 1947 Nancy and Benedict Freedman, novelists, cast her as the main character of a book that later became a movie under the same title.

Now this blog is no bull - it's the BEST story you'll read tonight, a chronicle of the travels of the wife of a member of Canada's Royal Mounted Police in the fictional novel by the Freedmans.

Hailing from Montreal, Kathy, with a new husband, Mike, a Mountie, traveled to remote Hudson's Hope in far northern Canada. This most interesting novel follows Kathy's new life among bears, other four-legged inhabitants and natives in frequent harsh winters.

Later came a sequel to the first book telling of Kathy's further adventures and travels up north. I have both books. There was no third book. Thus, Kathy was allowed to drift into a quiet and sedate life in the 'old books' stack at your local library.

Hah! That's what "Mrs. Mike" thought!

While not from the novelists Freedman, the "further travels of Mrs. Mike," a sequel to the sequel, came about when my late mother, known as "Nana", read the newly-published book and then inscribed the book to my late brother, Paul, as a birthday gift on his return home from the United States Navy .

At this point, "Mrs. Mike" is in Taunton, Massachusetts. Enter here my sister Margery - and if you are thinking now this is going to be a family story, you're right. As said its the BEST [family] story you'll read tonight.

Margery apparently borrowed the book from Paul, after he read it, and then accidently added it to her own personal library in Milltown, New Jersey, after reading it herself.

"Mrs. Mike" continued to travel. It's thought that the book was loaned by Margery to a friend who eventually left the Garden State with the book and later put it into a tag sale somewhere.

Now enter Yarntangler, my daughter Marcie, author of the popular children's book "The Tree At The Top Of The Hill", (see and click picture on the right side of this blog) then living in Bellingham, Washington. I was visiting her and the rest of the Cumberland family there at Christmas, 1991.

Marcie invited me one day to browse if I wished in her library for something to read if I got bored. I did one day and came across a book called "Mrs. Mike."

Opening it I quickly noted my mother's fine handwriting, an inscription to brother Paul, and also in the upper right hand corner of the same page a little white sticker denoting new ownership of the book by Margery Rogers of Milltown, New Jersey.

Now I am all the way across the United States from New Jersey. Yarntangler saw the quizzical look on my face and nonchalantly remarked "bought it at a yard sale in Cheyenne, Wyoming."

She said she knew immediately the book was Paul's as she saw Nana's handwriting. The book took on GREAT interest to me at that point and I thumbed to another blank page and showed Marcie some writing she hadn't seen before - "to Nana from Charles." The Charles, of course is Old Newsie.

We both marveled at "Mrs. Mike's" cross-country travels in the 45 years since Nana first received the gift from me, travels which since have seen the book landing in the hands of one of my grandsons, either in California or Arizona, thus now in a fourth generation.

Small world isn't it "Mrs. Mike"?

If anybody is interested the Freedmans' sequel is "The Search for Joyful" -the story of Mrs. Mike continues- You might find both books in your liibrary but both are for sale by the online book vendors, which is how I acquired them. BTW you can buy Yarntangler's book from Booklocker.

- 30 -

Friday, January 29, 2010

Can Computers . . .

. . . Be Rigged ?

This little office / bedroom / TV room / computer room has a secret.


I can't prove it but I have some suspects, one who may have suggested rigging, others who did it. I can't names names until there is proof.

Anyway, l have to explain my complaint. It has to do with the game of Solitaire.

There are two computors in here. One wins big, the other either never wins or seldom does.

Last night Lady B racked up 11 wins. I didn't play last night 'cause I was busy with some moving chores. Most nights, however, I do play and lose.

Once we tied each other after hours of play which lasted long after our bedtimes. I have recorded a BEST score of I think 14. She can claim 19.

We've been challenging each other perhaps six years. I think I was a champion once.

Now the big question is, could these computers be rigged? If so, there is one guru who could do it and one person who might suggest it. However, as said, I can't make any accustions without some proof.

Both these computers are Dells but mine is a little older model than the one on Lady's B's side of the room. I hate being a loser. She loves being a winner.

That is one piece of cimcumstantial evidence. Another sispect is one who regularly checks this thing over but then I have to stop and think - . . .
there's a fellow from Arizona who sometimes tinkers with it, putting on a new program, and there's two from over in Texas, one who does the same and one who is a guru who could introduce lots of things to the computer if asked.

I'll never really know I guess 'cause if I accused anyone of a number of folks, and was wrong, well . . . maybe it's BEST that I just drop the matter and take my losses like a good loser.

- 30 -

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bonanza Day . . .

. . . Snow and Money

One can hardly call snow a bonanza after moving from New England to get away from snow but money, that's talking my language.

This morning about 5 we had a thunderstorm and some rather heavy rain. It had been softly raining since midnight. And then about 10 it began to snow.

It was a very fine, fast-falling snow that in ten minutes had the roads and yards hereabouts covered in white and began causing vehicles to slide around. It snowed hard for quite a while but quit about noon. About two inches dropped and some is still laying around.

Two inches is better than the 12 that fell overnight in Albuquerque. Our daughter Mary there sent a photo she snapped before going to work. This afternoon it was still snowing there so the depth must be more now.

That's not what I call a bonanza - but here comes one. Our telephone went out of service sometime between early last night and early this morning. I cell-called a serviceman (lucky for me I have a program called in-house full service, for which I pay about $5 a month. This covers all repairs outside and inside the house on phones and lines.

While here, the serviceman, one of the BEST of a crop of helpers I've had around during the past few months, used my computer to message his boss and noted that the computer speed was not up to snuff.

He made a fast check on the computer and learned I was not getting the amount of speed I have been paying for and advised me to call customer service and ask for an upward-adjustment so I'd get Internet and e-mail faster.

Just a bit ago I talked with Ashley over in North Carolina where it was pleasant and sunny while the temperature here was on a downward trend.

Asked about the adjustment and got it right away - with a big surprise. "I checked back and you have been paying for speed you haven't been getting for quite a while so I've arranged refund for you," says Ashley.

Wouldn't you say that was one of the BEST bits of news I could get today?

There will be a $120 credit on my next phone bill I was told. As I look at the last few landline phone records I have on hand, I note I have been paying only $104 a month.

So there is the bonanza. The company will even have to refund about sixteen bucks on still another bill after charging me nothing in February.

Wait - there's more. Ashley, (isn't she the BEST ?) explained about "bundling." a term I heard while "on hold" for sometime, and in which I became interested since it touted a bit of saving.

It includes putting my usual phone charges, in-house service, caller ID, my computer DSL and my high definition television service, all on one bill.

That will entail about a $15 saving each month, cancel out the TV bill I pay separately now, and give me just one bill. I'm not a wage earner any more so every buck counts, since I won't be getting any cost of living in my Social Security allotment this year.

Oh, by the way bundling meant something different back in New England's older days but that's a blog of its own for sometime in the future.

So there you are - the story of my two bonanzas. That phone charge refuind bonanza is better that the $15 "bonanza" I picked up from the dirt up north at the rent house - which took about four months.

Now to track down some more ways to save a penny or two.

- 30 -

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Get The Date . . .

. . .Right, Computer !

This will be short.
Upset with this computer.
Wrote TWO blogs Tuesday.
Posted Tuesday blog Tuesday.
Held onto Wednesday blog.
Posted it late Wednesday morning.
Came out with a Tuesday date.
It really is a Wednesday blog.
Thot it BEST you know that.
- 30 -

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Charlie, Just Read . . .

. . . Between The Lines

I have a sister who in her past before becoming an Okie, (and I might be treading here on shaky ground) used to e-mail me nearly daily with messages I sometimes needed a (famed) Navajo code speaker to understand.

She was a registered nurse in the era when female nurses wore stiffly starched white uniforms and starched caps, round bonnets, three-cornered headpieces or other ordered uniform types .

She and a dozen other beauties who trained at Union Hospital in Fall River, Massachusetts, not only looked gracious in white and became excellent angels in white, but they also learned a new language - "nursespeak."

If you ever want to confuse someone, learn nursepeak and combine that with contractions, abbreviations, obvious mis-spellings and non-ending sentences and you almost are guaranteed to have that someone check into Taunton State Hospital.

I guess the best definition of nursespeak is . . . well, gobbldegook about what they're doing but don't want the patient to know about. They used figures and letters that didn't make any sense to me, underlines and overlines and slashes and dots and question marks and . . . nursespeak!

With apologies to my BEST sister in the world, I think I will relate one of her e-mails and the follow-up communications as an example of what I had to sometimes fathom.

This was the message in essence that came to me in August, 2008, given from memory:

Trish and Robert are at the hospital. There was an accident. Trish said . . .
Oh, I forgot to say, it was . . .
Well, it happened like this. There was this fellow - - - wait a minute, I'm going to make myself some tea.

OK, this tea tastes good. Anyway, the doctors decided to stitch up the head wound and put in six stitches. Guess everything will be OK.

E-mail to sister: What happened to Trish?

Reply: Thanks for your prayers, all OK now.
They're home now.

E-mail to sister: Who was hurt? What happened?

Reply: Oh, I guess I didn't tell you all about it, I was so excited but this is how .. . . , oh, I'll tell you tomorrow, I fell asleep, I'm tired now going to bed.

E-mail to sister: Hey, you didn't tell me yet what happened to Trish. Car wreck? Robbery? Dog mauling? Purse snatching? Bucked from a horse?Fight with a burglar? Fell from a roof she was shingling? Hit by a car while saving a kid? Interferred in a fight to save someone else? Mayor swatted her at the town meeting? Printer fell off shelf and bashed her in the head? Dragged behind Robert's car after she fell out?

Reply: [ There wasn't any]

E-mail from Trish: Hello Uncle Charlie - As you know, Mother abbreviates everything,does always spell right and doesn't finish her sentences.

Here's the real story - My husband Robert while working at the prison was attacked by an inmate while helping an officer who had been attacked. In the fight he was clonked on the head with a broken mop handle. He had a two inch gap and they had to staple him together with fives staples. He is fine now.

Now I know the story.

About nursespeak:

While my sainted mother was very ill before she passed away, my nurse sister tended to her in the BEST possible way she could. Her messages at that time came along in hand-written letters.

And now , , "Gave Mother 2ccs meds am 6 pm 5 midnight, priest came, fitful sleep today.And now I . . . Oh, it's snowing.

"Mother up few minutes, toast ,tea, now down, gave meds, paid bills, milk and paper came, our neighbor plowed snow in driveway to back yard and he . . .

Her many hand-written letters with nursespeak are still on file here. I'm tempted to send them to Owasso for translations just for fun.

Heck, I'm getting to the point now with all the pills I get that I might need to know that nursespeak stuff.

Even if I didn't always understand her, I still love the BEST nurse in the Hoye family and now I love the BEST nurse in the Cumberland gang and the BEST nurses and doctor in my second family.

- 30 -

Yard Work . . .

. . . Profitable Hobby !

Owning a rental property brings on certain benefits. The landlord, me, must care for the property by necessity if a tenant will not. If things go right and one is very good at spotting coins in the dirt, one can make a mint!

If things don't go right, it costs - believe me it costs. I'm talking finances here. And while I've spotlighted yard work, interior work figures in also.

But let's talk about benefits first. That place up north that Laby B and I have renovating, cleaning, repairing and worrying over for months has provided benefits - not the financial kind.

Think about exercise and fresh air. Both of us have enjoyed BEST those benefits but they came, just the same, with drawbacks. Each day of painting for instance provided us with the satisfaction of seeing a renewed color on a place where the paint has worn for 10 years or so - - -

AND backaches, shoulder pain, stiffness in the wrists from wielding brushes, aching knees, legs and feet. Yes, some sunburn too.

Tenant neglect of the cookstove resulted in at least four hours of scrubbing, scraping, de-odorizing and polishing - - -

AND at the conclusion, at the re-hooking of the gas supply, the finding that the stove DOES NOT WORK!

The interior work on this old house did have some benefits however, in that our BEST neighbor, our lovely daughter-in-law Barbara, brought on her many talents to beautify the place.

Once a person who actually worked in younger years at cleaning and restoring mobile homes, this lady expertly installed a new carpet, made and hung pretty curtains, sealed linoleum and tile floors and helped Lady B and me with many other little things. She's the BEST.

Now back to the outside and the yard work I started to talk about up above. There's an acre on which the house sits with plenty of Afganistan cypress trees, dozens, on all sides.

Those trees, planted by both of us about 15or 16 years ago have grown tall but at the same time sprouted lower limbs that touched the ground and
trapped every bit of trash and tumbleweeds that our Lea County winds collect every day.

During several weeks, nearly daily, these low hangers were sawed off and piled for disposal and the grime raked from underneath and bagged for the landfill.

Here's where it gets into the financial benefit I've alluded to in the headline. You see, in the process of cleaning, the oft-dropping of coins by several tenants over the years has meant to my once-sharp eyes a bonanza.

Of course there's a drawback there also. The cutting of tree limbs and bagging of trash was overwhelming and one or two trips to the (fortunately free) landfill convenience center convinced me to hire a handyman who agreed to minimum wage, in order to take away the junk. He also was the BEST.

So instead of collecting a REAL bonanza, there was the out-go over a couple of months of about $150 which I compare to my bonanza as fine for him, pitiful for me.

Over the months, watching for the sun to shine on dropped coins, I have managed to find quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies amounting to about ten percent of what my handyman has banked. I once found a half dollar.

Now that (most) of the yard cleaning and bonanza gathering is done , I relaxed at my downtown home today, for the morning anyway.

About noon I took a sack of household trash to the waste dumpster in the back alley and noticed what a crappy looking alley it was.

So I benefited again in fresh air and satisfaction as I raked, shoveled and bagged, into two dumpsters, dead grass, rotted leaves, pine needles, tree trimmings and assorted other trash.

Two dumpsters? Yes, one was my neighbor's. For the heck of it, to keep trash from his side of the alley blowing to mine, I cleaned BOTH sides of the alley. Had to use half his dumpster.

Just a little payback to my neighbor for his help in moving furniture in our house now and then. He'll notice the job tomorrow.

Oh, my aching back.

- 30 -

Monday, January 25, 2010

Sometimes, Nightime . . .

. . . Not BEST Blog Time

Just woke up from a short nap, only 90 minutes, in the jacuzzi and guess what? I was dreaming again and that brings up tonight's blog, even if it is a shorty.

Seems like I was being told in the brief dream that I should say a few things that came in an e-mail from an East Coast friend. That's OK but Confucius used some language I must edit because I don't like the words he used.

For those who would rather have the say that I edited, in the original words of Confucius, I will give hints at the end of the blog so those who wish can translate my editing back to the original version.

Not all that nobleman's sayings are in objectionable language, however, so you wil enjoy the following.

Cinfucius Say:

Man who eat many prunes get good run for money.

Man with one chopstick go hungry.

Man who scratch ----- should not bite fingernails. [See hint one]

War does not determine who is right - war determines who is left.

Man who fight with wife all day get no ------ at night. [See hint two]

It take many nails to build crib, only one ____ to fill it.[See hint three]

Man who live in glass house should change clothes in basement.

Man who drive like hell bound to get there.

Saved the BEST ? one for last if you can figure it out.

Virginity like balloon, one ------- all gone.[ See hint four]

Hint one - three letters.

Hint two - pea.

Hint three - carpenters use 'em.

Hint four - Use your imagination.

Good night - that's the BEST (or worst) I could come up with tonight.

- 30 -

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Little Bit of Humor . . .

. . . Based On Your Bible

In my ongoing [albeit slow but BEST ] effort to clear out this office forever of all the clutter of the past several years, I have come across some stuff that's pretty funny.

This was an e-mail sent by my BEST sister back in mid-2008, a bit of humor based on people and events in the Bible.

Being that Sunday night and the word Bible have something in common, I don't think it's too inappropriate to print tonight so here goes - be sure to laugh a bit after each entry.

What kind of a man was Boaz before he married Ruth?

What do they call church pastors in Germany?
German Shepherds.

Who was the greatest comedian in the Bible?
Samson. He brought down the house.

What kinds of motor vehicles are mentioned in the Bible?
Jehovah drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden in a Fury. David's Triumph [over Goliath] was heard all over the place. And probably a Honda, too, because all the Apostles were in one Accord.

Which servant of the Lord was the greatest lawbreaker in the Bible?
Moses. He broke all 10 Commandments at once when he threw down the stones.

Who was the Bible's BEST babysitter?
David. He rocked Goliath to a very deep sleep.

What area of the Middle East had the wealthiest people?
The region around the Jordan River. The banks were always overflowing.

They didn't plays cards on the Ark. Why?
Because Noah was always standing on the deck.

Who was the greatest female financier in the Bible?
The Pharaoh's daughter. She went down to the bank of the Nile and drew out a little prophet.

Who was the greatest male financier in the Bible?
Noah. His stock was floating while everyone else was in liquidation.

Which fellow in the Bible had no parents?
Joshua. He was the son of Nun.

I suppose it goes without saying that the Bible, even if it is a bit humorous in places, is the BEST book around, especially these days. It's the BEST tome to read before you go to sleep.

- 30 -

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Saturday Night Live . . .

. . . Here It Ain't

Another weekend has rolled around and today has been showery, sunny, windy, and cold. Not very lively around here today or tonight.

Walgreen's opened a new and larger store here yesterday, about four miles away from the BEST site for me, downtown, a few blocks away. But there's good news - the downtown pharmacy will be re-modeled and I won't have to go north to pick up my prescriptions.

And the BEST part of that good news is that when I go to the downtown store to get my prescripions I [probably] won't have to stand in line with 40 other oldies for an hour before getting to the pickup counter - there's going to be a drive- up window.

Like my headline says, it's not Saturday Night Live around here tonight. Maybe it is but to me it's more like Saturday Night Deaf and I'll tell you why.

Remember a few blogs ago I told you about losing a $1,500 hearing aid for a few days and then finding it bathing in our hot tub?

Well now I've lost the OTHER $1,500 hearing aid. This left ear aid is the most important one because it has the controls for the left AND right ears and without it the right ear isn't getting much action.

Here's what happened this time. The phone rang. I picked up the receiver, and pressed the button to amplify the caller's voice.

I took out the left hearing aid so I could hear BEST on the amplified phone, and laid it down beside the computer. I haven't a clue where the thing got to after that phone conversation.

I suppose you want to know why I took it out instead of just listening. Here's why - the new technology of both the phone and the hearing aids clash somewhat and I get static loud and clear but clear voices - no.

So I take out the aid and boost the amplification of the phone and I'm in business.

When I got these new-fangled ears, the purveyor gave me a set of magnets to put on the phone to recify the technology-generated static.

I was to attach them to the phone and move them around until the sound was BEST.

Another problem there - sort of a 'conflict of interest' thing.

You see, I have a Pacemaker in my left shoulder. I listen on the phone with my left ear. But with a Pacemaker, one can't get it close to magnets because that will cause - well I don't really know what that will cause but it's a no-no.

Yes, I did find the right ear aid in the jacuzzi, dried it out and it seemed to work OK. Without the left ear with its control, however, the right ear aid doesn't do me much good.

So I have resurrected the older pair I had earlier in the year. One of them is working and I hope the other will with a new battery, once I find the batteries the older pair used.

In the meantime, for days, and today for hours, Lady B and I have scoured this house looking for that left ear hearing aid. Now folks, pray with us that we will find it. We need your help - so far our own prayers haven't worked yet.

I guess at this point, dear readers, if you've gotten this far, you are saying to yourselves "why is he yapping about hearing aids to me?"

Well, I guess I had to get it off my chest somehow, and Lady B is tired of my whimpering about them.

It would be nice if that new Walgreen's could furnish me some new aids at a much cheaper - repeat - MUCH cheaper price than the place where I got them a few months ago.

- 30 -

Friday, January 22, 2010

Irish Tunes Woke Me . . .

. . . From My Short Nap

It's nine in the evening in Hobbs, and the rain storm pushing across New Mexico, maybe snow, too, is now sounding on the roof. My computer news bulletins tell me the folks in upper and mid- Arizona have been hit hard with snow, [nearly FIVE feet in Flagstaff] rain and floods in Phoenix.

Yarntangler Thursday night reported a big storm in Tucson, heavy wind and that the power was going out. Guess it did 'cause she hasn't e-mailed or blogged since. And Chris in Blythe, California, had the same problems, plus a tornado.

Meanwhile in Hobbs, there's been a shooting, not fatal, and on Tuesday just north in the county, a prairie fire burned 6,772 acres as an 80 mile an hour wind drove it toward Texas. (Hobbs is only four miles west of Texas, if you're wondering.)

Fourteen cities and towns sent fire apparatus and 60 firefighters to quell the flames, with help even coming from Artesia and Carlsbad, 80 miles away to the west. It was not the BEST day for those guys.

Now back to my short nap, (about 6 to 9), and a dream I had of early childhood, featuring two of the BEST early family singers, Grandpa Reilly and Gramma Hoye.

Not sure of the song's spelling but the dream opened thisaway:

Toura loura. loura, toura loura lay, hush now baby, don't you cry; toura loura loura lay, that's an Irish lullaby - [rendered in a sweet Irish brogue by Gramma Hoye].

Grandpa Reilly came through with a rendition of "I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen," a favorite Irish tune, while his Scottish wife, Annie, who passed away before I was born, could be heard with the lilting "You Take the High Road and I'll Take the Low Road, and I'll Get to Scotland Afore Ye."

And then I awoke, hearing the awful words "you gotta write a blog, get up!"

So now I'm up, with the Irish and Scottish tunes still in my head and where do I go from here?

With old music in mind I can remember back to childhood to some of the favorite songs my mother used to play on her upright piano in the southeast corner of the upstairs front room of our Pleadwell Street home where I was born.

As age advances upon me, most memory of the words has been blotted out but the title and tune remain fresh. Do any of you have the words for these and can you sing them? Here are a few of the BEST ones I can think of right now:

Down By The Old Mill Stream, Where I First Met You

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I Love You Truly, Truly Dear, Life With Its Sorrow, Life With Its Tears, Fades Into Morrow, For I Love You Truly, Truly Dear [Golly, those words just came to me!]

Rock of Ages. Amazing Grace. In The Garden.

There's the tune that [he says] taught Forrest Gump GOD's first name "andhe" from "and He walks with me."

Broadway Melody. When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain [Kate Smith sang that one, my mother's favorite siinger].

You Are My Sunshine - everybody knows that one. It's a top favorite of Lady B, who, with me, has a great liking also for Three Coins in the Fountain.

Now it's 9:35 pm and if I can get right back to a good night's sleep, I might remember a few more of the old tunes and their words.

Gramma, sing that lullaby song to me again, Toura loura loura, tou . .

- 30 -

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Best Laid Plans . . .

. . .Often Hit A Snag

Thieves of all kinds, men, women and children, often make elaborate plans for their misdeeds only to learn to their regret, there's been a hitch.

Just this week on Tuesday afternon in East Dallas, Texas, a woman entered a bank, handed a teller a note demanding cash and offered her handbag to collect the money.

The teller dutifully and calmly put an undetermined amount of cash, and a dye pack , into the handbag and the lady walked out of the building to her car.

Her significant other waited in their car in the parking lot with their three month old baby in the back seat. As the couple drove away, the dye pack in the handbag exploded and the getaway driver tossed everything into the street.

The two were arrested at their home within a half hour.

How did the cops get there so fast? The lady had left her identification, name and address and other stuff in her handbag - which was tossed from the car when the dye pack exploded.

It was a simple case for the police after they retrieved the handbag. They just read the lady's name and address and and went to meet her.

The baby was transported to a grandmothe and the pair to the hoosegow.

It was not long ago in Hobbs, New Mexico, that a man wandered into a convenience store, got a few candy bars and went to the counter ostensibly to pay, took a ten dollar bill from his wallet, then a gun from his pocket.

The clerk, complying with a demand for money, put most of the cash from the register into the bandit's hand and he fled.

Minutes later police had their man. He'd left his wallet, with all his ID, on the counter, and his own ten dollar bill to boot.

Police like it when the BEST laid plans of crooks have that hitch.

Also here on a night it snowed a week or so ago, another convenience store was robbed. The culprit was found quickly. In the new-fallen snow, he'd merely rounded the building and headed home, leaving a nice set of footprints to his back door.

I do not remember the name of the Colorado town where a bank was robbed a few years sgo but the case made a lot of headlines - probably comical,too!

The robber had a decidedly older car with a weak battery - probably the reason for the stickup [get a new battery or even a new car].

Trying to start his getaway car, the thief gave a clerk or security guard enough time to get a good description of the car and its plate number before the bandit roared away.

A good tip for the police of course - but wait - that's not all that went haywire. Less than a mile away, police rolled up behind the getaway car parked at the side of the road - out of gas.

No loot. No new battery. No new car. Yes, time.

Maybe errant children make plans to steal something but rather they just have bad luck when their do a shoplifting.

In a Connecticut town, two kids lifted a sack of lollipops - maybe you call them suckers - and then sat on a bench outside the store with the candy.

A friendly policeman strolled by and one kid offered him a lollipop. He took one and then asked where they got a whole sack of them, the BEST that the store owner carried.

Inside the store the officer learned the youngsters hadn't bought any sack of suckers.

They may not shoplift lollipops again, after, said the police blotter, "their folks get through with them."

And, faithful readers, that's the BEST of the crime news tonight.

- 30 -

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crazy Headlines . . .

i . . . Provide Smiles !

Without doubt you have at some time seen a news story headline that provoked your imagination because the headline was plain crazy, zany, and funny.

As an editor of newspapers in five states in my lifetime, I have hobbied from time to time, thinking of stories to go with crazy headlines. I confess I have probably authored a few eye-catching headlines.

The Internet often displays headlines submitted by readers like
you and me that show up to the public how funny our editors can be.

Tonight's blog will be devoted to some of the BEST of a collection of zany headlines provided in an amateur press group journal, published by popular retired dentist, Doctor Screamdrill. Let's browse and comment on them.

[Her finances must be in a dire situation]

[Poor Kids]

[Pretty drastic measure]

[That must be a powerful new kidney]

[Cat burglar with nine lives ?]

[Oh oh - call security]

(Editor's note - This is a headline I wrote about two jewelry store owners I knew, Mr. and Mrs. Crooks, who attended the convention in Albuquerque)

[I believe it]


[How about that?]

[A good guess, detective]

[Idea: Find alternate routes]

(Note to RVers, especially Chris and Geezerguy - before moving motorhome onto bridge, INSPECT!)

- 30 -

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Snowplows and Baron . . .

. . . Argued Often

New England has harsh winters as I no doubt have mentioned in past blogs. After much of my life living in Massachusetts, battling snowstorm after snowstorm, I opted for a warmer climate job in New Mexico, abetted by a wife who had slipped into a state of arthritis that threatened to make an wheelchair invalid of her.

Winter and snow brings forth memories of some of the storms we experienced and also of Baron Von Klenk, the family's pet German Shepherd. That name came out of the television series Hogan's Heros, in which a German prisoner of war camp chieftain bore that name.

I don't remember which kid named the dog but it was after that German officer and perhaps was linked to the fact the dog was a German Shepherd.
Whether or not Baron liked snow - he would play for hours catching snowballs thrown at him - he took a dislike to snow plows, snowblowers and snoweaters.

When the normal foot-deep snowstorms brought out the plows, Baron seemed dead against having the snow pushed aside in the streets of our neighborhood. He did his BEST to prevent Jimmy Dean from performing his job on Melrose Street.

Jimmy's plow relentless pushed the snow aside anyway even with Baron in front of the plow, sometimes himself flying (gently) into a roadside snow pile.

I frequently used an Ariens snowblower to clear the slanting driveway on our hill, Baron's hill. If he objected to that, a swift turn of the chute in his direction sent him packing after the first pass. Thereafter he tolerated me and the snowblower.

Baron especially would get angry on Park Street when the town's snoweater began getting plowed snowpiles scooped up into waiting trucks which then took the snow to the Hoosic River channel for dumping.

The snoweater was a machine chewing into the plies at roadside and sending the snow by chute into accompanying trucks. Baron, generally accepted as a friend by police, firemen and street department employees was at this time "persona-non-grata".

The dog actually DID prevent the loading of snow into trucks because the operator of the loader was afraid Baron, standing and barking furiously directly in front of the snoweater, would get caught in the rotating screws that captured the snow and moved it into the chute.

Police on a number of occasions would visit me at my nearby news office and "suggest" firmly that I corral Baron and take him up the hill from his snow patrol for a day's rest.

In the autumn months when leaves cluttered the streets and gutters and a similar machine gathered them up, Baron never objected, spending his time shepherding the watching children out of the way, one of the animal acts which endeared him to residents.

He was a protector of little children on the playground of Notre Dame School as well, often chasing away menacing other dogs.

But he was again "persona-non-grata" at the Adams Drug Store where invariably if he managed to get inside the store, his huge wagging tale undid tall triangular displays of soda cans, medical supplies and boxes of candy.

Many times manager Al Reid warned the family of his actions saying
"if this keeps up, one of these days you're going to have to pay!"

Baron, at our home on the hill in A Street, had a neighbor, George, also of the same breed. He and George were enemies, too, and often got into terrible fights when George meandered over the border onto Baron's hill. Baron was known as "king of the hill."

Our neighbor family ran a variety store at the foot of Melrose Street and because of the store's variety of goods, the Paquette family always had strings of firecrackers on hand - for a reason.

When a dog fight got going, a string was set afire and at an opportune moment was tossed under the dogs. The result: Instant peace.

There's many stories connected with Baron, considered the BEST neighbor in our downtown section of Adams.

You'll read more now and then from here or maybe from one of the kids.

- 30 -

Monday, January 18, 2010

EYE DROPS . . . . .

. . . Sightsaving Hope

Three times a day Lady B takes two little bottles of expensive eye drops and administers one drop from each bottle to my right eye to stave off the progress of glaucoma.

Why does she have to do that when most people merely do it themselves and go on with their chores or whatever? It's a matter of love for one thing and secondly a matter of necessity.

Because these drops are very expensive - isn't all medicine these days - I can't afford to waste any. I have a problem with the drops. I can't aim the drops from the bottle into my right eye. If a drop doesn't fall into an eyebrow, it may land in my hearing aid or on the tip of my nose.

Therefore love has taken over. Lady B gets me onto the bed - now doen't get the wrong idea - and does the aiming of the bottle, thus gaining me another day of sight I'm sure. But she does it three times a day, so that's three days of hope for my eyes, RIGHT?

Now here's a funny story that just popped up as I wrote about an eyedrop going into my hearing aid.

About two seeks ago on the weekend I could not find my right ear aid. We searched the house at least twice. Pulled our bed apart to see if accidentally I lost it in the sheets while reading.

Seached the van and the new car, searched all my trousers, searched all the wastebaskets, went up to North Hobbs and searched in the house we've been fixing up and even through the yard where it could have slipped from my ear.

After all these exhaustive searches and one particularly heavy work day, we slipped into our jacuzzi to soothe our sore backs. I was so tired I fell asleep for nearly three hours. Have a habit of doing that .

When I woke and started to get out of the hot tub, I felt something odd in the water under one of the jets, reached down to see what it was and guess what?

I'd found after many a day of lop-sided hearing a thoroughly soaked and dead hearing aid. I hoped I could revive it.

It's been about a week now of trying to dry it out and trying to hear through it but gradually it is coming back to life. I could not bear the thought of another $1,500 for a new one, or even a sawbuck to fix this one, if that little!

Moral: Take out hearing aids before climbing into jacuzzi. Drawback: If Lady B has anything important things to relate to me, I never hear them. Solution: Pending.

All that wordage and I didn't once get in the theme word BEST tonight !

- 30 -

Sunday, January 17, 2010


And Two More Words

Frustration and "Those Pictures" add up, with a little explanation, to this night's blog.

Despite the telephone help from Geerzerguy and encouragement from Yarntangler, that's what has happened tonight - complete FRUSTRATION.
The yarn last night about the Adams house, the one about Tommy with his CB radio, and a c ouple last week all would have contained pictures if I could have published hem.

Some glitch in this computer, however, despite the experts' advice, has denied uploads even after minute following of the how-tos.

Further telephone help probably will be sought if I don't figure out the hold-ups in a few days. I have many photos I would like to publish but . . .

So you'll ask" how did you get the flag picture of the 9/ll memorial story published last week? I don't know - it came up without paying attetion to how it did.

I am going to concentrate on every-day publication in this January contest and hope to solve the picture problem by February.

I can foresee an easy February, whatever the theme may be, if the picture puzzle comes to a solution.

I COULD publish one picture a day with the appropriate connection to the February theme in the caption. Now I suppose the powers to be will rack their brains to thwart me but I don't take thwarting easily.

Having been busy for two days now being frustrated, this my BEST effort at a blog tonight, an hour after my bedtime.

- 30 -

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Time Changes . . .

. . . Everything

The BEST memories arise from something simple.

It was mid-1962 when I spotted a sign with the simple words "For Sale"
with the added words "See Sawyer Boisvert, Realtor"

I had a few months earlier moved to Adams, Massachusetts, from Pennsylvania, undertaking a news job back in my home state I'd left ten years before.

The sign was in front of a large house which looked as if it would fill the needs of my family. I decided on the spot to talk with the realtor, seeing a chance to move my family into larger quarters quickly since the owner of a houe at 45 South Willow Street which I had rented prior to moving from Pennsylvania had put that smalller house up for sale.

Realtor Boisvert provided a key and invited us to look the place over in and out and make an offer. The house with 15 rooms was vacant. The owners had retird to Vero Beach in Florida, most likely to find a warmer climate the same as I have done years later in moving to New Mexico.

If I were offering to buy that house today, considering price differences between 1962 and 2010, I would have probably been laughed out of Adams had I murmured "$125,000?"

But that was 1962 and Mr. Boisvert merely answered when I asked what the owners might accept "tell me what you want to pay and I'll call and ask Elmer if it's OK. So I said, ready for a laugh, "how about $9,000?"

No laugh. The realtor got up from his seat on the piazza, walked down the 26 steps to a dead end street, calling back over his shoulder, "I'll call you." I took that as a goodbye.

That night, however, Mr. Sawyer did call 743-0020 and said "come see me in the office tomorrow and we'll work up the papers, Mr. Dunn says OK."

Fast forward to 1978 when after a four-foot snowfall and a doctor's verdict to the children's mother that, because of severe spinal arthritis, she'd be in a wheelchair in six months if she wasn't in a much warmer climate, our 15 room house was advertised for sale one day in the newspaper, and sold the next for $25,000.

Fast forward again, this time to 2009. Curiousity prompted me to seek out the current valuation of the place, which had changed a lot over the years, financially, structurally and landscapewise.

A friendly assessor I'd known all the time I worked in the area, told me "if you're planning to come back, Charlie, bring about $200,000 or so."

The headline up above says "Time Changes Everything. " It sure does, financially, but this blog is about changes that have taken place since I bought it, and since I sold the place to new owners still living there.

Go back to 1962. The house sits on a hill about 35 feet above what once was called A Street. On just a quarter acre, the house was built by Elmer Dunn in 1901 on half the land he owned and without a driveway, since only horses and buggies were the mode at the time.

The front area of the house was terraced lawn with a very thick concrete wall holding back the hill at A Street. There were 26 massive concrete steps leading up to the top terrace, then a flat area leading to five steps to the piazza or porch, which ran about half way around the house to the east.

Without going into a lot of detail because there's too much, we during our occupancy, cut down a huge apple tree, destroyed an eight foot section of concrete wall at the street level to dig a long uphill driveway to the yard above, painted the house and did various interior renovations.

Credit goes to sons Terry and Denis and their friends, Bruce, Paul , Art and a batch of others for cutting down the apple tree, for excavating the driveway, to the same crew for the paint job and me for the inside renovations - maybe the girls too.

An unmet Internet friend, Carol Crossed, of Rochester, New York, new owner of the historic birthplace of Susan B.Anthony, researched my former address while visiting in Adams and took a few pictures of the ex-Hoye home, now located on Senecal Place, named for the new owner of the house on the hill.

She graciously sent along those photos so I might note the differences the years have made.

That long driveway has received a new paving job and berms, the terraces now bear floral growth and bushes, the second huge apple tree is gone, the house has been re-sided in white vinyl, and a second floor doorway leading to an outside patio above the piazza has been removed. The patio is gone too.

A one (short) car garage built into the terraced hill at street level, possibly the home of Mr. Dunn's buggy in 1901, is gone.

In our years there, our long and wide cars did not fit well into the garage and alighting after backing in meant climbing out the driver's window.and over the hood to get out of the place.

At one time that garage was the location of son Denis's "Midnight Auto REpair" where his friends Bruce, Paul and others , maintained their sports bugs.

About that uphill driveway. Mr. Dunn sometime later sold the other quarter of his land to a man who operated a variety store down the hill
and who had a house constructed, with a driveway.

When we moved in, his widow allowed us to use her driveway and go around the back of her house to get into our yard. In exchange, in wintertime, my trusty Ariens snowblower kept her driveway clear of snow.
For some forgotten reason, the widow lady later denied further access to her driveway, even though until we moved away, we blew away the snow. This denial is what caused the digging project to create our own driveway.

Yes, Time Changes Everything.

And now for another change- I am going to turn over to Yarntangler (SURPRISE!) the sequel or sequels to this blog - a few of her BEST memories of this grand house. I will in the future have a few more memories as well. There were 17 yearsof them created there so . . .

- 30 -

Friday, January 15, 2010

Odds And Ends . . .

. . . Can Make A Blog

When an idea for a blog just doesn't come to mind quickly, the BEST one can do is rack the old brain and write whatever useless thoughts spill out until a blog idea forms.

So here goes, A potpouri of . . . well . . .stuff!

Junk mail, of which I have written previously, consists sometimes of multitudes of offers to insure one for any reason, life, accident, hospitalization, etc.

One offer I recently read through touts a one hundred per cent coverage of visits to doctors or stays in hospitals provided you've never been seriously ill in your life, that you have no current pre-existing illness or problem, that you do not drink, drive carelessly or be of an age over 75. Um, and I'm closing in on 87.

I was having a nap this afternoon, hours between two and five being the BEST times for me and was dreaming. One dream was of blogging and then it came to mind that blog with one letter changed can produce three more words.

Start with BLOG. Then comes Clog, Flog, and Slog.

Now try BLOCK and put a word in front: City, Writer's, Long, Short, Square, Toy, Little, Big - probably more if I had time to browse Webster's

You've got the picture now. Try the game for yourself but don't challenge Scrabblebuff. If you do, she's liable to write a blog at you someday.

Dr. Phil, Mr. T, Dateline, Levittown, ESPN, Texas Longhorns, Snow and Submarine are words that came to mind. No firm blog topic yet. Well, maybe LBJ's longhorns another day.

CB radios. That brings up question - what was Yarntanglers ' CB "handle?" I forgot to mention it in last night's blog mostly because I didn't remember it.

Prescription drug prices. 'Nuff said. You all know what I would write.

There was an Irish girl living next door to her in El Paso with the handle - oops , it just slipped off my tongue. But I fondly remember Mrs. McGillicuddy up in North Adams. Her deep and slow voice was the BEST I remember ever hearing.

Murder. Oh, that brings on a blog or two but I've covered a lot of them in my news career and I don't really care about rehashing such grisly stuff.

Television playing behind me at Lady B's desk suggests a lot of things while I am typing on this side of the room but thus far no blog topic.

So let's leave it at that and say goodnight readers - hope I haven't bored you to death. 'Course if I did, you didn't read tonight's blog.

Oh, just remembered - maybe that El Paso gal was the Irish Witch !

- 30 -

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Kid With A CB . . .

. . . And Cancer

He was WONDERDOG. He lived 11 years. He died happy not long after his greatest wish was granted - riding in an 18-wheeler in a convoy of about 400 vehicles rolling along the Mohawk Trail near his home in Buckland, Massachusetts.

He had the BEST ride of his brief life that Sunday afternoon.

Tommy Copley was a sickly boy nearly all of his 11 years. When he was about six or seven, doctors in Boston's Childrens ' Hospital found Tommy had cancer.

The doctors treated him regularly and hoped for the BEST but early in 1976 they had to remove all of his left leg in an effort to stop the spread of his cancer.

Once he was out of the hospital, a chum, James Weller, 14, told his parents, Ron and Judith, about Tommy and said his daily life and his schoolwork was being badly hampered.

Breaking in here on the story, I will tell you that in the 1970s, citizens' band radios were all the rage and for the men who daily drove the big rigs called semis, and 18-wheelers, a source of great pleasure on their long journeys . Ordinary drivers by the thousands embraced the new hobby of radio communications. I was one of them.

Everybody who had a CB radio or used one had a "handle" - a nickname used on the radio waves. The Weller parents were Batman and Bat Lady. They told their "good buddy" trucker friends about Tommy and once in a while allowed Tommy to talk with the truckers on their CB.

Tommy often told the truckers and anybody else who heard him that he'd like to ride in one of the big rigs. It was not long before ideas to grant Tommy his wish began to surface.

The Greenfield-Turners Falls Courtesy CBers club in a few days put out on the airwaves the BEST of several plans for a monster convoy of 18-wheelers on the Mohawk Trail, the culmination of which would be presentation of his own base CB radio to Tommy for his own home.

More than 1,500 people, all CB fans, rode in a 400-vehicle convoy led by "The Flying Irishman," Jim Byrnes, with Tommy as his co-pilot. The Massachusetts State Police and dozens of policemen from the various small towns along the trail, including some from Vermont, helped out the convey which ended up passing Tommy's home in Buckland.

After a brief traffic pause to allow the enraptured boy to freshen up, Tommy sat on his porch and watched all the trucks and cars pass by, with each making a quick stop so the passengers could shout out their handles and wave.

"It was the BEST time of my life, "Tommy said. Then there was a party at the VFW hall.

A thousand folks greeted Tommy and gave him a base CB radio and antenna for his home and presented his parents $1,500 to help with surmounting bills. A local CB dealer donated the radio and other equipment and installed it.

The local school district got into the act by hooking up Tommy's home and his school via two-way radio so he could learn at home and began sending tutors to his house. His grades jumped quickly, said his parents.

I can't list all the "handles" shouted at Tommy in front of his home but some are, besides those previously mentioned, Stepnfetchit, Blue Fox, Wrecker, The Preacher, Rockhound, Gramma Shasta, Bingo,
Tall Trees, The Reverand, Jazzman, Mama Burger, Country Doctor, and Newsman, who now is Old Newsie.

Tommy quickly established himself from his home radio as an expert direction resource, armed with maps, phone numbers, names and addresses of motels all over Massachusetts and Vermont and a bit of New Hampshire.

He was often on the air answering questions from truckers plying the Mohawk Trail, named after the Indian tribe which once was the most well known "owner" of Western Massachusetts

And then without much warning, he disappeared frequently from the airwaves and then permantly.

The truckers soon learned Wonderdog had passed away but not before requesting another convey come by the funeral home "so I can see them once more and say 'so long, good buddy'."

At the same time as he realized he was going to die and suggested that farewell convoy,Wonderdog asked his parents to call Newsman and ask him to write another news story about him so all his friends would know about him and what had happened.

The story was written and another convoy visited Wonderdog at the funeral home, led by the same 18-wheeler in which Tommy had ridden, this time draped in black. It is my memory that The Flying Irishman's semi also was used to transport Tommy to the graveyard.

Immediately afterward the CB club went to work and raised $2,000 and established the Tommy Copley Fund, within the well-known Jimmy Fund, to help build a new shelter at Childrens' Hospital in Boston for parents to stay with their kids instead of having to sleep in hallways and lobbies in chairs and on the floor.

The Jimmy Fund still exists in Boston, accepting donations for the care of young patients like Tommy Copley, my CB friend for a short year or so.

- 30 -

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A 9/11 Memorial . . .

. . . In The Southwest

It has taken sometime but the fire and police departments in Hobbs, New Mexico, have finally seen the culmination of their local memorial to the firefighters and policemen who perished in the Twin Towers tragedy of 2001.

A nice velvety lawn now joins with surrounding tree landscaping and in a continuing program to join the New York City memorial to honors for local fire and police men and women who have passed away, these honors being flagstones embedded in concrete walkways and engraved with names and dates of service.

Shown in the accompanying photo is the United States flag in the same position as the flag flying at the site in New York City.

Hundreds of people have shown up each September 11 at the Hobbs memorial to pay tribute to the thousands of New York's perished public servants as well as to the local Hobbsans.

Many who have visited the local shrine, including campers at two nearby recreational vehicle parks, have said the memorial is one of the BEST they have seen in their wanderings across the United States.

- 30 -

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Retirement Games . . .

. . . I Don't Have Time !

Lately some of my friendly bloggers have been also sending me forwards of games to play, essays to forward to somebody else and then watch to see what pops up on my screen and stuff that promises me a surprise in four or six or eight days if I forward to a dozen others.

Even a BEST correspondent and blogger who has repeatedly asked me not to forward such stuff, has begun sending that stuff to me. Look folks, I am retired and planning to be around for a 100th birthday bash come 2023.

That leaves me only 13 1/2 years to accomplish sorting, catagorizing and filing a lot of stuff from dozens and dozens of cardboard storage boxes now reposing in our downtown garage, moved recently from the North Hobbs house and barn.

Lady B, who doesn't cotton to my mentioning her at all in my writings, coyly dropped her BEST comment of the month just today that if I had left "all that junk in the barn" I would not have to sort and file because now everything would be ruined.

That comment came about as a result of the weekend 13 degree freeze that caused the pipes leading from a deep-drilled well to a water storage tank to rupture and spray water for hours- perhaps even a day or two - INSIDE the barn.

What's left in that barn today is BEST landfill-destined I have discovered. Anything left is sodden and most definitely ruined, even furniture.

But I still have all my goodies to sort, file and save again, including those cancelled checks from back in the 1940s, and the income tax returns that are just as old.

One of those old checks was a 1947 payment to the hospital for Yarntangler's four or five day stay when she was born - $246!

Over a three week period, daily trips got most everything safely transported downtown into our garage, where I now cannot park the van. I will be working, I have been informed, on a box a night.

Now you know why I cannot fool around with the games and stuff aforementioned Wish me luck.

Oh yeah - I ought to mention that new gimmick everybody is trying to get me into - Facebook. It seems like a nice way to be keeping in touch with relatives and close frieds but what's the matter with just the BEST old-fashioned e-mails i'm really just getting the hang of?

Well, because I think I've got enough to do in the next 13 1/2 years - let's hope it will be more than that - I just don't think I can fit in this additional chore.

Back to my opening statements about games and forwards. I don't mind
- most of the time - getting them. Sometimes I even make a half-hearted effort at playing them with others. I like the colored pictues from New Zealand and nland, eve print some of them.

The forwards I get bug me. Many I have seen a dozen times. I do forward on occasion to folks I think would enjoy them only to get back a quick reply - "this is old, saw it five years ago. "

I would much rather be getting personal messages from bloggers, in particular those who have started blogs months ago and after a few messages, never followed through.

One of my pastimes shared with Lady B, is routine after daily breakfast - the crosswords. We take the morning paper, fold to the puzzle and on the copier, make two copies, thus each of us can do a puzzle in friendly competition .

We do enjoy this game but have learned a big lesson. When we have had company, we've followed the habit of making three or four extra copies so everybody gets in on the fun.

Well, the lesson is just forget about doing puzzles with Chris, Bennie Jean, the Linda and Jim combination, and Yarntangler.

While we've been laboring away with pencil and eraser, we've suddenly looked up to see them sitting back, arms folded, and smiling smugly at us. One of that group actually uses a ball point INK pen to do the puzzle.

Well, that's about enough for tonight. After another hard day at the North Hobbs house, putting up new window blinds, and insulating the new water tank pipes, it's time for a hot soak in the jacuzzi to ease aching bones and then head to dreamland.

- 30 -

Monday, January 11, 2010


. . . And It's Getting Late

Every writer hits a point when his or her BEST efforts at digging up a writing topic fail. Tonight I'll throw out a new duo of words - blogger's block.

Now I did not invent that phrase I want to assure you. Everyone of you has it now and then - just haven't put it into words.

So I guess that's my BEST for tongiht.

No - that's making it too short. Just to lengthen it out, here's a recount of the day's activities.

Went up north to the house I've been renovating and met Damon who said he couldn't finish his tub underflooring job because there was no water to test for leaks before re-setting the tub.

Over the weekend, a deep freeze busted a pipe in the barn and set off a flood. A young girl next door alerted son Terry about it.

He checked and found water spraying heartily INSIDE the barn over anything in its path, including an electric heater which was operaing to keep the pipes from freezing. Why that didn't start a fire mystifies me.

He shut down all electricity. That was the BEST he could do in a dark barn in the middle to the night.

Today Damon said he could not handle the type of repair needed and advised hiring the well digger service. I called the service. Alan and a helper got the problem taken care of by day's end.

Pat, our electrician came along after noon to check a wiring problem with a kitchen light, its switch and a wall socket. He's sending in a worker to fix in the morning. Damon will be back to test the water in the house before setting back the tub on the new bathroom floor.

He presented me a partial bill for the past two weeks' work. There'll be a few hundred bucks added this weekend when the job is finally done. The heart attack is coming on, and by Friday, whooooooeeeeee. Kidding of course.

Now I guess we have a blog. Good night all.

- 30 -

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Two Little Dogs . . .

. . . Two Great Talents

Sometimes barking dogs in the house can get to being annoying but there does come a time when we realize they are really talking to us.

This blog is to make mention of the BEST realization we have come across in the recent past, 'though a few things we already knew.

We visited a bed-ridden Norma today and chatted with her for a while until suddenly Tina, her pet Chihuahua, jumped from the bed, raced to the living room and began to bark.

"She does that when someone comes to visit me, just like you did this afternoon," said Norma. This time it was probably someone walking past the house.

She then proceeded to tell us that Tina alerts her when her son Ron comes home from work, when the Hospice nurse comes to check on her in her North Hobbs home , when someone from St . Helena's comes to her with Holy Communion or when she hears the mail carrier stop at the box in front of the house.

But the most astounding story was about the telephone. The lady cannot hear well at all on the telephone and therefore does not bother to pick up the receiver in her bedroom.

But Tina races into the living room where a recording machine picks up the call and listens intently. If the caller leaves a message (some don't) Tina raises her head toward the ceiling and loudly howls three times.

Norma then tells her son when he gets home to check the messages.

Her son did not really believe this was happening until one recent day when he tried an experiment at his mother's urging, phoning the house phone from his cell phone.

He now believes Tina alerts her owner with those howls, her BEST manner of communication .

Here at our house in central Hobbs there's Pinky, another female Chihuahua, who's lived here now about two and a half years. She's not as noisy as Tina but like Tina, doesn't take to company very much, although some visitors eventually will find her jumping into their laps.

While we have been accustomed to hearing Pinky bark at just about anything, particularly cats in the yard or close by in the neighborhood, it was only recently we realized she talks to us.

We live on a corner property and thus visitors may come to either the front or side door, both of which have doorbells. Pinky usually barked and raced around in circles in whatever room she was until one of us got up to go to the door, usually the wrong one.

Now, however, I have noticed she seems to distinguish WHICH doorbell has sounded and will go to that door, actually putting me on the right path.
Early most mornings she responds eagarly to my "let's go get the paper,"
racing through the house to the front door to wait for me to follow. Once outside I get the newspaper while Pinky does her BEST to complete her
bathroom routine.

"Let's go make some coffee" finds her racing from the front door to stand in front of the coffee maker in the kitchen before I reach it.

These are things that apparently have been going on for sometime without my realizing Pinky was talking to me, things that visiting today with Tina has brought to mind.

My mother had a longtime pet named Toby which I mentioned in an earlier blog. Yarntangler commented she rememberd Toby as a little girl.

No doubt Yarntangler soon will have her memories of Toby, and perhaps his talking to her, recounted in one of her blogs. She's had a number of pets in the past and currently shares her front seat in the motorhome with Clancy, who once in awhile blogs at you on Postcards From Clancy.

Our Pinky now has educated us as to some of her wants in a positive manner. "Let me in - I'll scratch at the door but if you don't hear, I'll give you three short barks."

"I need to go out so I'll jump up on the chair two or three times." When Pinky wants to eat, she roams around whatever room we are in as if looking for a goodie and then racing into the kitchen until one of us gets the message.

Does your dog talk to you?

- 30 -

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Still There Lady?. . .

. . . Hope You Are

I find it amazing and in one case very disturbing that firms all over the country seldom review and update their mailing lists for all the junk mail that continually fills my mailbox.

I am not alone with this problem I'm sure but I've got to get this off my mind and the BEST way to do it is unload my wrath on you folks.

A lawyer once lived here, before the last owner from whose estate this house was purchased. No doubt she (may have) enjoyed reading the legal mumbo jumbo that (deceased) lawyer received and kept receiving at this address.

For several months now I have been getting mail addressed to a painting and sand-blasting company. Is this because somebody using a computer mis-typed my address for this company, thus getting my address circulated all over the country?

Could it be that the company owner, who may have been the BEST in the business was in trouble, like near bankruptcy, and picked a random address to have bills diveerted from his real location?

A couple years ago a local dentist began sending bills to this address for a woman who had obviously received service several times but instead of
giving her own address, picked this one.

After being notified, the dentist eliminated my address and hopefully for his sake located the patient and got paid his due.

The disturbing thing about some mail I have been getting for the past FIVE years I've lived here is the stuff coming for a lady who last owned this house and passed from this world about eight years ago.

Addressed to Mrs. -------------- an insurance company periodically sends a thck envelope which says on the front "Here's the Second Chance You've Been Waiting For . . .

A well known company which rents CDs to people who like movies, (and bothers the heck out of me with pop-up ads on my computer) came through awhile ago with an envelope to the same deceased lady with the message on the outside " Look Inside and See What's Hot For You."

Routinely, catalogs arrive for her with the cover message "This May Be Your Last Catalog Unless You Order. "

Another disturbing bit is the apparent selling of names and addresses by political parties which obtain voter registration records and, besides using them for their own purposes, also sell the lists.

Old Newsie's spouse carries a hyphened last name which a courthouse clerk may have mis-typed a few years ago.

On the official records it is corrected but it is obvious the records may have been sold before the correction was made because mail continues to arrive with the wrong last name from all types of places.

Now that all this is off my chest I guess the BEST solution to my problem is to forget about it and buy a big wastebasket.

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Friday, January 8, 2010



Nearly midnight. A blizzard. A teenage angel. And the fire chief said "thank you, Coffee Angel, whoever you are."

Later the fire chief recalled many times the "angel" was the BEST thing that happened that night.

The New England storm hit suddenly. Drops of rain, a little hail, tiny snowflakes and finally big, biting wind-driven snowflakes.

The wind swept into the old, abandoned, rundown four -story hotel a block away from the fire station, howling through stairways and halls to the fourth floor, where suddenly a wisp of smoke curled from a window ledge.

The few nightime passersby saw the smoke but paid no attention to what appeaared to be just swirling snow, until a flame showed in one still intact window.

Glass shattered and cascaded forty feet to the street below, narrowly missing the head of a policeman on his rounds. Looking up he froze in mid-step before running to the fire station to sound the alarm.

Firefighters racing to the scene at first entertained the notion to let the hotel burn since it was to be the next victim of an ongoing urban renewal demolition derby.

But wait!

There's no electricity or gas in the building to start a fire. There must be someone in there - a tramp- trying to keep warm with a campfire.

There was - and he died.

With the knowledge someone must be in the building, the firefighters came to the BEST and only decision - they had to douse those flames. It was not easy.

Urged by the high wind the nearly century old tinderdry wood burned quickly. The speed of the fire in the highly flammable hotel outmatched firemen as the water they tried their BEST to spray stood still at the nozzles of the hoses.

Zero temperatures froze fireffighters' gloved hands to slippery wooden ladders as they attempted to climb while the heat of the conflagration melted their rubber boots.

Flames tore the building apart, even burning one ladder, sending a fireman flying to a snowdrift below.

A teenage girl was ending her shift at the nearby all night Dunkin' Donuts
shop. As she had watched the fire she saw struggling firemen, some laying in the snow to rest, others pressing their hands to the warm engines of their trucks to thaw gloves and skin.

She emptied her pockets of hard-earned tips and counted enough coins to buy two dozen cups of coffee. She began filling the cups. Her boss realized her intent. He scooped up her tips and returned them to the girl's pockets and began filling cups himself.

The teenager plodded through deep wet snow to the nearest fire truck and found three firemen who gratefully took her coffee. She moved to wherever firemen were resting and then returned to the shop for another tray of steaming liquid.

She returned to the fire line but a policeman stopped her with a gruff "get out of here." As she backed away, a short squatty fire chief approached, took her by the arm and escorted her to other freezing men who swiftly claimed her warm paper cups.

About five in the morning, while she was still at her BEST, delivering hot coffee, this time with freshly-made doughnuts, the teen paused to take her first sip of hot liquid before carrying on with her job.

Later in the afternoon there was a brief note at the end of one of the fire stories in the city's newspaper - the fire chief says "thanks Coffee Angel, whoever you are."

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

After A Certain Age . . .

. . . Is One An Afterthought?

Last night I had a lot of fun reading one of Mother's diaries and picking out her references to pink, so after writing a blog, I continued to read more.

I found there was a lot to reminise about in Mother's green ink entries and decided that for tonight's blog I just for the fun of it would try another year.

It's 1951 this time. I wanted to know just what might have occurred on my Flag Day birthday so I opened to June 14 and began reading.

It rained torrens that day. Mother and Dad retreated to the cellar (basement) to build a little fence for one of the flower gardens.

Janie visited . Mother needed some things from the store, gave Janie a list and sent her to the Three Corners.

The result was Janie got back to the house with BEST news -"I've got a date with Copey."

"Where's the milk and stuff, Janie" Mother asked, says the diary. "Oh, gee, I'll go right back, I left the stuff on the counter."

A few more family facts and then the LAST line:

"Oh yes, it's Charlie's 28th birthday today."

On September 10 the FIRST line reads "It's Toby's birthday today, he's six years old!" (The family remembers Toby but for those who aren't family - Toby was Mother's dog. (I write this, you know, just in jest).

September was not the BEST month for Mother because at the end of the month she was in tears as she watched son Paul sail away from New York to France on his Fulbright Scholarship.

That night she switched from green ink to black.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010



Sometimes when a blog topic is urgently sought late at night, I resort to a reading of a few pages of my late mother's many diaries. Tonight is one of those nights.

I may find a few of her BEST entries to fill out a half page of blogging to cover me here for tonight.

PINK is the choice of words in Mother's 1955 log tonight. I did not remember that she dressed me in a PINK shirt for my 32nd birthday. Ditto for the seventh birthday of my son now out in California.

And here's an entry about her floral gardening. "I went over in Aunt Hattie's backyard tonight and dug up half of her PINK rose bush." Now I presume that Mother had Aunt Hattie's permission for that project.

For many a year, Mother had the BEST flower garden on Pleadwell Street.

Then a few days later Mother wrote she went over to Aunt Hattie's place again and dug up the rest of the PINK rose bush. Still later she planted the roses in her garden near the big grapevine.

About a month later the diary indicates Mother pondered about painting her fence and that word PINK came up again but in her notes about painting the fence she didn't mention PINK.

The night she finished the fence, however, she went downtown and bought Aunt Mary a PINK dress.

And then while on vacation at Nana's house Marcy (yes, Marcy) spent a lot of times playing with her new paper doll set. Uh, it was not blue , orange or green - PINK.

My dad , the superintendent of mails at the local post office, worked a second job at nights for several years as a cashier at the Raynham Dog Track.

He was friendly with a lot of the other fellows working there but I didn't know - or at least remember - that they had a summer cottage up in Maine, probably a getaway poker place.

In September of 1955 the fellows went up the at the beginning of the month for a few days to clean up. and repaint the cottage. I wonder if they painted it PINK?

Just as an aside to bring history up to date, that track, long rated the BEST dog track in the country, has just held its last racing season.

The Massachusetts legislature, after years of controversy betwen the industry and animal protectionists, has outlawed dog tracks in the Bay State.

And this was the BEST I could do for a blog tonight. If you follow Yarntangler's blogs, you will see that tonight she outdid me.

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'll Do The Shopping Today . . .

. . . You Just Rest Lady B

You probably don't know that Lady B is the BEST one who does most of the shopping in this place, that she loves to paint walls and houses and that she talks a lot about common sense . I often fail to listen about that common sense stuff.

Take today for instance - I wish you had really. You see, I think I lost all sense of common sense this afternoon. Make that - I know I did.

It went like this. Lady B has been working a little too hard at several jobs, particularly the last few days on albuming hordes of family pictures, tediously bending over a table writing identifications on the back side.

All that bending evidently put a strain, a bad one, on her shoulders and upper back. For three days and nights she and I have been placing a couple of hot packs on her back, bags of hot Indian corn, a remedy made and sent to us by niece Jo Ann, and they work.

However, the heat (renewed every few hours in the microwave) hasn't done a complete healing job yet and it just happened this is the time when Lady B felt it was shopping day.

I helped Lady B compose a grocery list - milk, eggs, bread, butter, orange juice, suger, coffee and a few other things she planned to purchase. But then Lady B found she couldn't get up from the table, let alone drive her new car.

"It'll have to wait until tomorrow, I guess," said Lady B, whereupon, losing my common sense, I volunteered to do the shopping. What a boo-boo!

With that fairly short list, Lady B would hit the grocery store running, get the stuff on the list basketed, checked out, and be back home in maybe a half hour. So I figured I could do the same.

In our favorite grocery store it did not take me long to find the things on the list - until I accidently turned the list over and found another dozen things Lady B. had scrawled when I was not looking.

I commenced then to scan the real small print on packages of meat, seeking just what she wanted, chicken thighs, beef liver, pork loin roast. That done I got into the canned goods section. Now the problems began.

I leaned close to the shelves looking for a half dozen varied canned goods, without seeing what I wanted although I knew I was in the right aisle.

At that moment one of the BEST helpers in the store, a woman with long black hair, sporting a badge saying Christina, approached and asked "Sir, are you blind? Do you need help?"

"No, I'm not blind yet, just can't see the small print and labels." Taking my list, she quickly picked out the rest of the stuff I needed then left tossing"Happy New Year" over her shoulder.

About now I noticed on my cell phone that the time was passing rapidly. Lady B's half hour had - will you believe this? - gone to nearly two hours!

At the checkout, I watched the computer screen listing what I had accumulated and as the costs began to seem astronomical. When the total of $150.71 came up, that's just what it was to me.

Got home, unloaded and remarked to Lady B on the cost. Casting a funny look at me, Lady B came up with the BEST retort I've ever heard - "That's all?"

Hope Lady B will be better by the next shopping day - I don't like
spendng so much time in the grocery store or that much money either.

Oh, yes, the other BEST thing besides Christina's help - no long line at the checkout - I was first.

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Monday, January 4, 2010

Honoring Veterans . . .

. . . In 150 National Cemeteries

A re-reading today of one of the journals appearing a few months ago in the "bundle" of the American Amateur Press Association (for info on the AAPA, click on its big emblem on the right side of this blog) brought up the query " how many national cemeteries exist for the last resting places of United States servicemen and women.

Len Carrick, a retired dentist in Redding, California, did a brief research for his SHASTA RAMBLIGS and learned that there are 142 such cemeteries in existence in 39 of the 50 states. Being apprised of new dedications, I have added eight more, two of which are on the islands of Guam and Saipan

But the count of national cemeteries does not end there. Existing on foreign soils are 24 more, mostly in France, Belgium, Italy and England. Mexico and Luxembourg also host American veteran cemeteries.

The foreign soil cemeteries have 124,947 veterans interred. In Mexico City and Corozal, there are 6010 such burials.
And the count of honor cemeteries for veterans continues in 27 states which to date have established and dedicated 74 such burial grounds and one has been dedicated in Puerto Rico.

Certain of the cemeteries include those who fought for the United States in wars dating back to the American Revolution and some burial grounds include soldiers of the Confederate States of America who perished for their cause in the Civil War of the mid 1800s.

Cemeteries for veterans are cared for by the Veterans Affairs Administration, the United States Army and the National Parks Service. If you visit a veterans' cemetery, be aware you will possibly be blinded by the expanse of white marble gravestones and then be amazed by the precise and so careful manicuring of lucious green lawns.

There are many ways of honoring the deceased heros lying in those graves. One of the ways is that of a lady I heard of through an obituary at her demise.

Once a month she visited the Bourne National Cemetery on Cape Cod in Massachusetts carrying a dozen red roses.

Whenever among thousands of graves, she found one with a last name matching hers, she laid a rose on the top of the stone. None of the names she found were of relations. They just needed to be honored she felt.

Don't let any veteran YOU may have known be forgotten. Pay tribute now to someone who helped make it possible for you to honor him - or her. Maybe one day it will be me you honor and, in advance, thank you.

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Sunday, January 3, 2010


. . . Is Easily Available

On a cold winter evening, it's always nice to sit in a warm room and enjoy a good book, be it big or small, long or brief, true or fiction and meant for either old or young.

I sometimes find a book I can still read - STILL meaning when my tired eyes are sharp for a while or the print is big enough to comfortably see.

It's quite difficult to declare what is BEST of the books I can read or at least try to read.

Instead of choosing a single book for this essay, I have THREE to recommend, although only one will interest most persons because it is a history of one small New England city 370 years old.

I'll put that history book first in the category of BEST because I think, for history buffs, genealogists, nostalgia-ists and geographers it is one they will want to read.

Published in 2008, at about 600 pages by the son of a personal friend, this BEST tome is "A History of Taunton Massachusetts" by Dr. William F. Hanna.

Because of a relationship issue I suppose I could be accused of bias but another BEST goes to a much briefer tale based in Texas after the Civil War.

This BEST , written by Marcie Hoye Cumberland who just happens to be Yarntangler, this blogger's daughter, is "The Tree At The Top Of The Hill."

And then there's a New York Times bestseller recommended to me just before Christmas by blogger friend Chris, who said she read the whole 292 pages in two evenings when she couldn't put the book down until she fell asleep while reading.

That BEST goes to " STILL ALICE" by Lisa Genova, published in 2007. It is a fictional novel based on the author's research into the field of dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. This is a book that is very scary, very informative and very eye-tearing as well as just plain interesting.

There you have my likes in books at this point. Somewhere along the line in this blogging venue there is a restriction on advertising in one's blog.

Therefore if you are interested in any of the above BEST books, the alternative to advertsing here is to get to the site on your computer where you do a search and type in the name of the book. ( Or just click on their titles above.)

Start off your reading year with one or more of the BEST.

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Saturday, January 2, 2010


Everybody Loved Jimmy

This afternoon as Lady B and I left North Hobbs and turned south onto Lovington Highway from Kansas Avenue, after making sure no 65 or 70 mile an hour drivers were zooming down the highway from Lovington, I raised and waved my hand and yelled "Hi Jimmy."

Lady B smiled as usual as she gazed upon the group of men in the field just off the big highway. The guys I waved at in the field didn't wave back. They've been standing there for a bit over a year now, standing at the ready beside a huge bomber, a simulated relic of one of the BEST of United States' most feared weapons of war, the B-17.

Who among you remembers Jimmy Stewart of the last century? Oldsters will, young'uns won't most likely, other than hearing the oldsters mention him or seeing an old movie. He was among the BEST of the last century's movie actors.

But I and veterans like me remember Jimmy Stewart as more than an actor in the movies. We remember him as a MILITARY man.

When I wave at the men standing beside the B-17 bomber just off the Lovington Highway, I pretend that I'm waving at Jimmy Stewart, who for a short period in the early 1940s, was a resident of Hobbs, New Mexico, my adoptive home.

If you don't know why he was here - listen up. Jimmy Stewert trained here at one if the (then) Army Air Force's BEST training schools for pilots, navigators and bombardiers.

He was trained here in the operations of the B-17 bomber and later in World War II became well-known as he experienced the horrors and then the winning of World War II.

I was not here when he was at the Hobbs Army Air Field, being occupied at the time on Army duty in England. Lady B and her sisters lived here.

Lady B says none ever met him, although one sister actually worked on the base as a telephone operator. Just maybe that sister heard his voice on occasion if he made a call.

Of course, it's not Jimmy Stewart standing behind that B-17 just off the highway. There's a group of men, all lifesize iron figures, standing before a lifesize iron sculpture of a B-17.

A local man who has sculpted a number of memorials in the area, planned several years ago to memorialize the former bomber training base by putting a B-17 on view on the actual airfield of long ago.

The memorial is approximately 40 feet long and nearly 16 feet high, the men are six-footers

The City of Hobbs donated the land for the plane and crew sculpture and labor to prepare the site. At some future time, as the economy of the age improves, the city hopes to put lighting on the plane so that nighttime travelers may also view the memorial.

I don't mind that none of he B-17 crew waves back. As a veteran who appreciates the result of what all the men of WWII did, I'm happy to salute the iron men who represent the BEST air force in the world.

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