R. I. P. to a neighbor in my building

Greetings, readers. Rebecca is still recouping from a cold, so I am here typing the blog entry today. With the name withheld for privacy reasons, I do need to get something that’s been bothering me off my chest. So, here goes.

A gentleman from our apartment building passed away a few days ago. It has hit me unusually hard. I would see him at Panera café sometimes in the morning, having his coffee while reading his newspaper. We would wave or say hello. Sometimes if there was something on his mind, he’d let me know about it. I guess his death has hit me hard because I’m getting a bit older now, and the thought of my demise creeps into my brain every now and again.

He was a WWII veteran, and was well liked and respected in the building. I won’t go into the details of his passing, but I will say that he apparently passed away in his sleep; a peaceful way to go.

Well, I salute my friend who came to a few of my shows and enjoyed them. *SALUTE!*

Until next week, take care, have a great weekend and happy reading.

Short blog today due to illness and time constraints

Greetings, readers. Joe here typing this entry. Rebecca is under the weather and won’t be coming in to work today. I am also struggling with a personal issue which took place at my apartment building yesterday. So, the entry slotted for today will be put up either tomorrow or Friday.

Until then, hang in there, have a good day and happy reading.

Ps – if you have loved ones who live alone, check on them often; especially in the hot weather.

 

Naivete strikes again and weekend plans

Greetings, readers. Mr. Naive struck again. I hate calling myself that, but late yesterday afternoon I was set to have a blind date over coffee, and the woman did not show up. We had spoken on the phone several times and I thought all systems were go. To get ready for the outing, I got a haircut, my beard and mustache removed, and even put on an extra special shirt, and rented a Zipcar because I didn’t want to be tied down to a bus schedule. I put a lot of thought and effort into this.

I sincerely hope that this unnamed person was not stringing me along. But she probably was. I’ve had several relationships in my life, and keeping my marriage aside, I’ve experienced nothing but liars and game players. I’m an old-fashioned man looking for a one-man woman who wants a one-woman man.

You should have seen how pathetic I looked all snazzed up at the restaurant with yellow rose in hand, waiting, and waiting, and waiting. After a while I gave the person a call. She said she forgot our date was that day and started in with the sorry, sorry, routine. Before we could sufficiently talk about it, she hung up. Either she wanted to laugh at me without me hearing it, or she was truly embarrassed and wanted to get off the phone.

Has this experience taught me a lesson? The answer is yes. I am no longer going to attempt to meet women on-line. I don’t really want to go to bars because I don’t drink, but I might have to give it a go. I just turned 50 and don’t exactly wish to spend 25 to 30 years alone.

As far as weekend plans go, I’ve canceled our D&D game and set it up for next weekend. When personal emotional set-backs happen to me, I need a few days to evaluate and heal. So that is exactly what I am going to do. I’m going to stay in my apartment for the most part, do some soul-searching, some character peeks and tweaks, if you will, so that I can be in top form for the upcoming work week. I’m also going to check on-line and see how many State College Spikes games there are left in this season. They are the single A affiliate for the St. Louis Cardinals. I should have been taking advantage of good cheap baseball all these years. Don’t know why I didn’t.

Sunday through Tuesday night, I’m going to be taking some notes and doing some writing on personal projects. Now that my writer’s block seems to be gone, the more I prime the pump, I think the easier it will be to write the new Bear Spring Camps stories for the book.

Next week will be a full work week with two blog entries. I hope everyone has a great weekend. As always, do take care, enjoy yourselves, and happy reading.

Top ten things I like about myself

Greetings, readers. I’ve been thinking a lot about myself recently. With the help of my therapist, Dr. Jo Ann, I’ve been working on my self-esteem. I am supposed to concentrate on the positive and weed out the negative. Obviously, no one is perfect, we all have our faults, but here is a top ten list of things I like about myself, in no particular order.

#10. My sense of humor. [I think I got that from my mother, and it was developed with my best friend David Trost. In the old days, Dave and I would tell stories and laugh for hours.]

#9. My outlook on life. [Even after getting divorced and everything that entailed, I still try to look at life with optimism. It does me no good to be negative and sad.]

#8. My love of animals. [Right now I have Keekee my kitty who loves me, and I, of course, love her. She’s my little girl. When I was younger, the family and I had dogs, which were adorable. Somehow, animals always get excited and happy when they are around me.]

#7. My general appearance. [Although I have cerebral palsy and am not Mr. Muscles, I do the best I can every day with my appearance. I can do laundry with the occasional mishap, such as bleaching a sweatshirt. I no longer wish to have a beard but it seems that every time I shave, my skin breaks out and I have to let the beard grow back. It’s much to gray.]

#6. Keeping my apartment clean. [Keeping my apartment cleaner than it has been is a big step in the right direction for me. It boosts my self-esteem to have a cleaner place.]

#5. My athleticism early in life. [When I was a child and teenager, Dave and I would spend hours almost every day playing Wiffle ball, Nerf football games, or Frisbee. I did keep active. Now, with bad knees, sometimes my morning walk to Panera is all I can muster, and the games I play are on the PS3.]

#4. My ability and love of driving a car. [My mom taught me how to drive and would not let me drive solo until she was certain that I would buckle up every time, always use my turn signals, and obey the speed limit. I love to drive but right not I am car-less.]

#3. My love of music and singing. [I’ve always loved music as far back as I can remember. And my singing talent has improved greatly with practice. I perform shows every few months for the folks in my apartment building, and as the old adage says, practice makes perfect.]

#2. My ability to write. [Under my belt are three self-published books and a play. Although I am not earning enough money from them to pay the rent, it is one of my passions. I like to be creative. I admit, writer’s block does affect me more than it should, but I think for a light reader, I’m doing pretty well. The Bear Spring Camps 3 book is under way. I hope to have it produced by next summer.]

#1. My family and friends. [I have been blessed with fantastic parents, a Godmother and her family, very supportive local friends, of whom Rebecca and Darren are two, and the family that David married into all those years ago, who adopted me as one of their own. When little children run into the Bear Spring Camps dining room and give me a bear hug all is right in the world. Thumbs up for family.]

That was a fun exercise for me, and perhaps later down the line I’ll have a top ten list of things I want to improve about myself. Yes that will be negative, but it might force me to take action and correct those things. Please feel free to leave your list in the comments or comment about my list.

As always, have a wonderful day, take care and happy reading.

A birthday wish and settling into my new routine

Greetings, readers. Today would have been my mom’s 92nd birthday. I miss her tremendously and think about her everyday. This morning I turned on Spotify music and played one of her favorite songs, “Theme from A Summer Place, by Percy Faith. I must admit, a tear came down my face, which usually happens in the opening moments of the song as I remember my mother. So today, on August 21st, I say happy birthday to my Mom.

As far as my new routine goes, it’s not quite set in stone but I’m making strides to find a morning time to be creative. Whether that means writing, taking notes, reading, or studying, it is the time for me to get to work and save my games and simulations for evening time. You know the old expression, work before pleasure.

A part of my evening routine is an attempt to have a very quiet evening after 9:00. Instead of watching 10 episodes of Reba on YouTube, or an old classic football game, I turn off the TV and put on some soothing music, just like I would do in my cabin at Bear Spring Camps. Last night, it worked perfectly. I was sleepy, and ready for light’s out at 10 p.m. That’s probably why I woke up at 4:30. Kitty cat Keekee raised her head as if to say, ‘what the heck are you doing, it’s dark outside,’ put her head back down and closed her eyes. I, too, clicked off the light, flipped over, and went back to sleep.

The big thing I am going to work on this year is my diet. I don’t get enough vegetables, I eat way too much ice cream and sweets, and as most people know, that is an invitation to walk down the road to diabetes. That ran in my family, so I do have to be careful. A few weeks before camp I already took the first step, by having a friend with a car take me grocery shopping, so I could stock up on healthy things to eat. If that could become a pattern every two or three weeks, it would certainly help. Point blank, I’m tired of eating junk food.

Rebecca got a small surprise the first day back to work. On my computer, I created a daily things-to-do list. This will help keep me organized, motivated, and allow me to get more things done each day. Although I’ve only used it for a few days, it seems to be working already. Yay for organization!

Before we go, our heat and humidity wave was washed away by a doozy of a heavy rain storm yesterday, which caused local flooding in some areas. Today is beautiful and much cooler. I hope the weather is, at the very least, bearable where you are.

Next week, either Wednesday or Friday, you can look forward to a new top ten list. I bid you a good weekend, take care, and as always, happy reading.

I’m back from Bear Spring Camps and feeling renewed

Greetings, readers. As always, I had a wonderful time at Bear Spring Camps this year. I saw family and friends, partook of all the delicious food, had gallons of coffee, and fished until my heart was content. My biggest fish was a 13 inch bass, but it sure did give me a good fight.

The weather, except for one day, was beautiful. I will admit it was not as warm as it usually is when I’m here. Low to mid 70s was the high all week. I chose to not go into the lake to swim this year. At night it was mid to upper 50s.

During one of the evening suppers, I stood up and made a toast to the family who adopted me all those years ago. It seemed to go over extremely well. Although I hadn’t practiced it per se, I was quite happy that I didn’t stutter or fumble over words. One of the points I made, and I will admit it choked me up a bit, was when I said, “I always go back to Pennsylvania, but when I go to Maine, I come home.”

This Bear Spring Camps season was a wee bit unusual in a good way. Best friend, Dave, had all his family with him, including his nephew Cole, and they chose to come up to breakfast around 8:00. Only I was up at the dining room right at 7:30. It felt a bit odd to sit at that big table all alone until one of the nephews joined me. That was usually Nick Carroll. Starting my breakfast first, meant that I was finished first. Sometimes I would have a third cup of coffee and talk to Dave about morning plans, but more times than not I would excuse myself and go down to the cabin.

On Wednesday, I did get a pontoon boat for three days. I made full use of it, including an early morning fishing trip on Friday. That is something I haven’t done in over 20 years. The scenery was amazingly beautiful. The way the fog and the mist lifted off the lake gave the shoreline, with its trees and houses, an almost otherworldly quality. Next year, if David wishes to go early morning fishing, I might just go with him every time. We’ll see.

After supper was my time. I sat in my cabin, did a lot of thinking about the upcoming year, and hosted story time for all the little nieces and nephews that enjoy that so much. This year I actually sang songs for them. I think they were impressed. It was one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I must admit the kids threw me a curve ball when they did not want to hear camp stories, but instead asked for ghost stories. It took me a while to get into it, but towards the end of the evening, I had Ava and Kennedy on edge. When the propane heater kicked on, everyone jumped. That’s when I knew my stories were effective.

My side trips to Portland, Maine were wonderful. I wanted to drive on Commercial Street in the Casco Bay area of Portland. The reason might sound silly, but there’s a Train Simulator run that goes right down that street. It was a surreal experience passing all of the businesses portrayed in that simulation. Everything was exact. Farther down the road, and purely by chance, I found Benny’s Famous Fried Clams, a seafood shack-type eatery with a delicious lobster roll and tasty clam chowder. It’s going to be my new stop for when I go to Maine. I have to give Rebecca’s father’s GPS back, so I’ve written down all the addresses for next year.

I feel completely recharged with new ideas for writing, which is exactly what I hoped to have accomplished, and there is a slight chance that I will be able to go to camp for two weeks next year. Time will tell.

This blog entry will be linked to my Facebook page and to the Bear Spring Camp page as well. I have decided to make it a policy that only blog entries that deal directly with Bear Spring will be linked there.

Lastly, special thanks go to Rebecca for taking good care of Keekee and to Rebecca’s father for loaning me the all important GPS.

Until Friday, take care, have a great couple of days, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Housecleaning and I are not friends

Well, the title is not completely true. I don’t mind tidying up day by day, and I do my share of the dishes. But housecleaning has never been my favorite pastime. Especially heavy-duty, tackle a messy or dirty room, kind of cleaning. It is a good thing I don’t have to do it that much. We keep the apartment neat day-to-day, with everything we take out to use back in place before we go to bed. But we still have to disinfect and clean surfaces from time to time.

My husband and I used to be a lot better about cleaning our apartment. Well, that may be due to the fact that Darren used to do it without me, while I was at work. The last year or so though he has preferred that I do it with him, to share the load (which I can totally understand). Now we get it done every four to six weeks. One of us will say it should be done, the other will agree, and another week will go by before we tackle it. The sad part is that it takes less than an hour once we start. One of us does the bathroom and the vacuuming, the other does the kitchen and mopping. We use cleaning cloths from a can, for extra convenience, to wipe down the counters, sinks, and appliances. The method works great for us, once we actually get up and do it.

I don’t know many people who like housecleaning, or other housework, so I’m not alone there. I do know that I like having a clean place to live. I have a small table in front of the couch that I put stuff on during the day – newspaper, book I’m reading, drink, magazine, and remote controls. I get a lot of satisfaction from putting these things away at night before going to bed.

So housecleaning and I may not be best friends, but we are not enemies, either.

Update on Joe and Keekee. Joe is still having fun at camp and wishing he could stay longer. Keekee is not as clingy to me as last year. She is shedding a bit, but that seems to be less than last year, too.

Joe will be back next week, so he will have a blog entry for you next Wednesday. Until then, as he would say, take care, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Pets and animals

First an update on Joe and Keekee. Joe is at camp and enjoying it a lot. He told me it rained yesterday, so no fishing during the storm, or after while the water was churned up. He took a pontoon boat out on the lake today. He sounds like he is having a blast. Keekee is doing well too. She seemed a little less clingy to me today than I expected. Usually when Joe is at camp, this week she is on my arm like glue. She did rub up on my sleeve so that I would pet her (which I did) and leave some cat hair there, but she also had periods of time where she curled up to sleep too.

Keekee is the closest thing to having a pet for me right now. I see her every week when I work with Joe. She is a sweet cat, when she isn’t crying for Joe to feed her while he is dictating his blog. During the year, I interact with her, but it is usually in small doses, when she comes over for a head rub. She sometimes runs around the apartment, going from the kitchen to the livingroom window, to the bathroom. Zoom, zoom. We never know what sets her off, she just does it. Then she’ll stop for a bit, before doing it again.

Both my husband, Darren, and I had pets in the past – well, our parents had pets. Mostly outdoor cats, though my family had a few dogs over the years too. Neither of us has had pets ourselves, and we probably won’t. We like animals, but for some reason we agree that we don’t want any pets, even if we didn’t live in an apartment building. They are a lot of work and responsibility.

I do love pictures of animals. I will see a photo on the internet of animals doing something cute, or sweet, or unusual, and I will take a picture of it with my phone to show Darren. On Twitter, there is a page called Strange Animals, which, as you can tell from the name, has odd-looking animals from around the world; I share a lot of those with Darren.

Well, I gotta go. I’ll post again on Friday. As Joe would say, take care and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Struggling for a topic

First, the update on Joe and Keekee. Joe is in Maine, he crossed the border into the state about 10:00 this morning. He went up to Portland and called from there to say he was having a really good time. Keekee is her normal self for the week Joe leaves; she mainly slept and ignored me yesterday. She may need more attention today when I go over there, since she was alone for the night, or she might just need me for soft food. (She has an abundant supply of dry available to her 24/7, but she prefers the canned soft food.)

I’m beginning to wonder how Joe does this blog twice a week, every week. I’m sitting here trying to think of a good topic and the only thing I can come up with is: I should be more fit and doing stretching exercises, but I probably won’t because I’ve been thinking that for a few years now and I haven’t done it yet. I don’t like to change my routine. I started to write that but after one paragraph it wasn’t going anywhere and I deleted it. I definitely seem to blog better when I’ve written something out ahead of time. Joe though, will lean back in his chair, think a moment, and then start dictating on a topic that just came to him that day. Sometimes he knows ahead of time what he wants to write about, but a lot of times he will pull it out on the spot. I will type it, we will edit it, and another entry will be done. He often struggles for a topic, but he always finds one.

So, for the entry next Wednesday, I will prepare a bit more and have a better topic than, wow this is hard. I will also have an update on Joe and Keekee, for those of you who are interested. Until then, as Joe would say, have a good weekend and happy reading.

From Rebecca: The blog is all mine – for a week and a half

Braa-ha-ha! (evil laugh, in case I wasn’t clear.)

Hi, Joe’s readers. Regular readers, you know that Joe goes away to Maine every year in August and that I update the blog while he is gone. New readers, you may not have seen one of my entries yet, especially the new influx of Bear Spring Campers we welcomed recently, but I am Joe’s assistant Rebecca. I do about a dozen blog posts throughout the year, though I haven’t done one in a while.

Usually my posts while Joe is away are updates on how he is doing on his trip or how his cat Keekee is doing back here. She misses him so much when he goes away; I come in on my work days and a couple of other days to feed her and give her some company, while I do a little work. Some years during this time, I manage an entry with a good topic that will be of interest past the vacation, and I will try to do that at some point this year, too.

Joe and I were surprised that one of my vacation posts that was pretty much an update has been viewed a bit more than we expected over the years. Regular readers know that Joe and I are fascinated by the viewing statistics for this blog, which show which posts are viewed each day. From Rebecca, a little bit in a hurry will show up occasionally. It is a nice piece I wrote in August of 2012, but I don’t know how it can be compelling after all this time. Oh, well, it makes me feel good that people like my work. Another post that keeps coming up in the views, a lot, is the Top ten list of modern conveniences. It has been viewed 940 times since it was posted on February 22, 2013, including 5 times this past week. Our best guesses for its popularity are that a lot of people in the world are curious about modern conveniences, or that it is being used in a class exercise to teach search techniques on a computer. Though really, who knows?

So, if you are a regular reader or a new one, I will be the one posting on this blog until Joe comes back from Maine in a week and a half. Until Friday, as Joe would say, take care, have a good day, and happy reading.