From Rebecca: Paperwork and clutter

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Medical organizations really love to send paper, don’t they? I like having information sent to me in the mail so I can hold it in my hands and have it for future reference. But I don’t need three copies. Well, maybe there is something different and new for each mailing, but it adds up. Joe gets a lot of paper from insurance, doctors, bills, with many explanation-of-benefits notices. One of the things I will be doing while he is in Maine will be to go through the giant stack of paperwork and organizing it. I will shred some of it, like notices for appointments that have passed, and putting the rest in folders where they belong. I do this every year, and then spend the next twelve months shoving it in a bag or binder. Well, some things get filed or disposed of during the year – Joe never keeps junk mail – but there is so much that I find myself putting all the medical papers in one bag and personal paper like rent receipts in another bag to be sorted later. Later turns out to be every August.

Joe struggles with clutter too, as regular readers know. Stuff gets piled up and then every other week or so he will get on a tear to throw out all the trash and organize items he keeps. The chair where a lot of this stuff is kept, which Joe refers to as Dead Red (a broken recliner), is soon to be gone he says. So this coming year we will have to find a new home for the paperwork bags and files I put there, and he will have to find a new place for the stuff that he stores in it. The chair is sad, with the back off the seat, and filled with clutter. I am looking forward to seeing how getting the chair out of the room we work in, and seeing whatever he might replace it with, changes the space in here. Exciting days ahead.

I am writing this at Joe’s on Wednesday. He is back from his appointment (Wednesday’s post explains where he was and why I wrote two posts this week) and we edited this blog together. We are going to try to schedule this to publish at 1pm on Thursday, July 20th. We will check to see if that WordPress feature works and publish it by hand if it doesn’t. If you see this shortly after 1:00 on Thursday afternoon, you will know that it worked. Yay technology, when it works!

Next week Joe will be back for both blog entries. Until then, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Blog schedule for July and August

Tags

, , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, Joe’s readers. You are seeing a lot of From Rebecca entries lately, and while I hope that all of you enjoy reading my pieces, I know that you are partaking of Joe’s blog to see what is on his mind. Last week, Joe’s friend Dave came to visit on Thursday, and two weeks before that Joe had something personal came up. Please bear with us, both entries this week will be from me, and this will continue off and on just another month. There are reasons for that.

This week doctor appointments have knocked out the working together time for Joe and me. Today Joe is at a check-up with his primary physician, and tomorrow I will be helping my husband Darren and his mom at an urgent doctor’s appointment for her; with her mobility issues and bringing the car around to the front of buildings, it is so much easier to get my mom-in-law to her appointments if there are two of us. To make up for the lost work time tomorrow, I am writing the blog entry for Thursday too.

Next week will be normal for us, working Wednesday and Thursday together. As usual, Joe will dictate the blog posts while I type, then we will edit. Joe will be busy getting ready for Bear Spring Camps, so I imagine that his other writing will be halted for the time being, but he will do the blog.

The following two weeks, the first two in August, Joe will go to Bear Spring Camps in Maine, and I will do those four blog posts from home. I will be spending time with his cat Keekee during regular work hours, so those entries will be a little later in the day than usual, but I will get them up on those Wednesdays and Thursdays.

After that, Joe will be back and we will go back to normal with two blog entries a week from Joe on various topics. I expect him to come back with lots of motivation and ideas for the rest of the year, as he does after every vacation at Bear Spring Camps. He will be raring to go with ideas for writing, cleaning, organizing, and improving his life in general. It is always an exciting time to be working with him.

So hang it there with us for the next month. I hope you will like my posts, and Joe will be back before you know it with more of his thoughts and wisdom, plus he will be here both days next week.

Until tomorrow, have a great day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Happy Birthday, Joe

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Today is Joe’s birthday, and if you read his post yesterday, you know that he is spending it with his good friend and brother David Trost, who is visiting for a couple of days. I’m sure they are having a great time together. Hi, guys! Happy Birthday, Joe!

I have known Joe since we went to high school together. I was a bit in my own world back then, but Joe easily befriended me anyway. He has always been interested in other people, in seeing the good in them, and being a good friend to them. These are traits he still has. Once in a while someone will take advantage of his niceness, of his easy trust, and it will make him feel stupid for a bit of time. But he is still willing to help the next person he sees that needs assistance and offer a shoulder to cry on. I admire that. It is my natural inclination to pull away from people I don’t know, and Joe’s natural inclination to move closer in order to say hi. He is a special person.

As I’ve said before on this blog, it has been an experience to watch Joe in his fast food job. He has approached it with so much excitement and joy, even though lately he has also experienced some of the disappointments and mishaps that can occur at any job. He will be taking a couple of weeks off in August when he goes to Bear Spring Camps in Maine, and no doubt when he comes back he will start a new work schedule as the town gets ready for the Penn State fall semester.

Joe wrote yesterday that he will be back next Wednesday with a review of his laptop, but he has an appointment that morning, so he will probably do that on Thursday instead. I might be writing the blog entry again next Wednesday, unless Joe gets back in time to do it.

As Joe would tell you, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

My friend Dave is coming for my birthday

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. My buddy and brother Dave Trost is coming up tomorrow to visit me for my birthday. What a fantastic surprise. I’ll be turning 52 tomorrow and it will be nice to have Dave here. We’re planning on having birthday dinner at the Indian restaurant right underneath my apartment building. I suppose after that it will be back upstairs to watch movies or YouTube. Quite honestly, I would not mind just sitting and chatting about the old days. I love it when we reminisce.

Dave is able to take this two and a half day vacation because the poor boy cracked a bone in his ankle playing softball. That is a major ouch. Luckily for him, since he is planning to drive down for the visit, the walking boot is on his left foot. I don’t imagine we’ll be walking to Panera or any of the other eateries because I’m going to want my buddy to rest that foot as much as possible.

Another reason I don’t want Dave walking around town is that this just happens to be the week for our Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts. Panera and Sheetz will be crowded and who knows if we will even get a table. I might try something called OrderUp, which is an online service that will pick up food ordered from a restaurant and deliver it to your door. I think David will enjoy staying off his foot as much as he can.

Although Dave’s visit will be a short one, it has fallen on my birthday week and Arts Festival week. If Dave is feeling up to it, we might check out the food venders on the block nearest my building. I heard they have yummy corn dogs, bundt cake and funnel cake. That sounds like a treat for a person with a sweet tooth.

The weather, as is usual for this time of year where we have the Arts Fest downtown and the People’s Choice Festival in Boalsburg, is supposed to be warm and muggy with a chance of rain. That in itself is reason enough to stay in and play Yahtzee all evening. I can remember many an evening at Bear Spring Camps when Dave and I would play Yahtzee to pass the evening away. I still have very fond recollections of those nights. I even know where to find my Yahtzee game and score pads.

I’ll be certain to have a 12 pack of Coors Light so that when Dave arrives he can sit down and begin to enjoy his weekend. Usually we would walk together to get it, but this visit he gets pampered a bit. One of the movies that I know David will want to watch on Netflix is the Minions. My buddy just loves those yellow little characters.

The next blog entry we will be doing when we are together again next week will be a review of my new laptop computer. I won’t go into the full review here but I can give you a spoiler, I like it very much. Rebecca will be doing the blog tomorrow from home, which I am sure will be awesome.

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

My options for my side trip on the way to Maine

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. Over the past few years when I have driven myself to Bear Spring Camps, I’ve taken a half day for a side trip. One year I stopped in Hampton Beach, New Hampshire and spent a few hours at the seaside. The town looked nothing like how I remembered it from when I was a boy. With many more shops and hotels, it is certainly geared for the tourist trade.

Two years ago I stopped in Portland, Maine and had an absolute blast. I drove to the Portland Sea Dogs baseball stadium, Hadlock Field, to see it they had a souvenir shop. I was extremely happy to find that they did. I bought way too much stuff; two baseball caps – both home and away, two sweatshirts, a baseball, a coffee mug, and a refrigerator magnet. After that I drove around Portland a bit and had a late lunch at a waterside seafood shop. They had a delicious lobster roll. After spending way too much time in Portland, I had to tear myself away to get to Waterville for my Friday evening hotel reservation.

What to do this year? Hmmm. I could revisit one of those two places, or choose something completely different. Now that I own a GPS unit, I might even venture into a bigger city, such as Boston or Hartford and do a little sightseeing. My Friday evening hotel reservation this year is in Augusta, roughly 20 miles from the Waterville exit, so I will be close enough to camp on Saturday morning so as not to feel rushed or think that my first day is getting away from me.

Obviously I did not see all of Portland when I was there before. If I venture back this year I can drive all around, not just down Commercial Street. As some of you might remember from a previous blog entry, that street is depicted in one of my train simulator routes and it was amazing how accurate the game was, right down to the corner convenience store. If I do go back to Portland, I will stop at that seafood shop for another lobster roll. I really enjoy them, as did my mom.  It was Mom’s favorite meal during the Maine trip, and I will have one in her memory.

Usually I don’t stop anywhere on the way home, but depending on traffic, I just might this year. Again, having my own GPS unit will come in handy. It opens up a lot of options for me. One of these days, if I sell enough books and become independently wealthy (LOL), I will use my Garmin and visit places in the country I always wanted to see. For now though, the Garmin is only for the Maine trip.

Next week I expect to have a two-day work week with Rebecca, even though Thursday is my birthday. I’m not a kid anymore and I don’t mind working on my birthday. We’ll have two more exciting blog entries for you. One of them just might be political. I’ve been biting my tongue ever since President Trump got elected. I don’t know how much longer I can do it. I might just have to speak out.

So we bid you a good weekend, please do take care, good wishes to any people in the Montana earthquake who might have been injured, and as always, happy reading.

The joy of paying forward

Tags

, , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. I’ve watched many YouTube videos dealing with the phenomenon called paying forward. It is a concept where a person receives a blessing from out of the blue, usually from a stranger who does not expect anything back. At some point in the future the person who received the gift may do a good deed for someone else, paying the blessing forward. This idea fascinates me and I think I am going to start doing it.

As I frequent Panera café, an easy opportunity for me to pay forward would be for me to pay for the lunch of the person standing directly behind me. I’ve not done that yet, for fear of the person becoming offended. One day soon, I might just get up the courage to try it. In this world of hatred, war, and injustice, doing a little deed like paying for a meal, contributing to a charity, or leaving an extra generous tip is a way to brightens someone’s day.

I will write more about this at another time, but one way I am paying forward right now, is with a GoFundMe page to benefit a cerebral palsy charity. I started it a couple weeks ago, and although it has gotten off to a slow start, my site appears to in full working order now, and I look forward to, at some time in the future, giving the donations to this charity. As some of you may know, I have a mild case of cerebral palsy, that while not getting worse, will never go away.

This coming Christmas season I plan to donate to the charities that have volunteers who stand on the corners each day and ring their bells. I’ve only done that a couple of times over the years, for fear that charities are not what they claim to be, but if you can’t trust the Salvation Army, who can you trust? I’m also going to buy a toy or two and drop it in the Toys for Tots bin. That will make a little boy or girl a little happier on Christmas morning.

Other ways that I can pay forward? It is a matter of keeping your eyes open and looking for opportunities to make someone’s day happier. I remember one time many years ago, a person who was down on his luck wanted to buy a cup of coffee at McDonald’s with exact change. He didn’t know that the prices had just gone up and he was four cents short, and the cashier at the time would not sell him a cup of coffee. I gave him a five dollar bill so that he had not only enough money for his coffee but also a McMuffin of his choice. He almost cried. What did I get out of the exchange? Only the pleasure of seeing someone who wasn’t expecting any good fortune turn and smile as he walked away with his breakfast.

I think if more people would do this in their daily lives, not only in this country but around the world, there might just be little less hate. With the talk of nuclear missile tests, wars, and other atrocities, it is time for some good news. It is time for change. It is time for kindness to replace anger and indifference. Let’s each of us make a vow, my readers, in the next month to pay forward. Then, in the comment section, tell me your story and we will share it with everybody.

Until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Happy 4th of July next week

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, Joe’s readers. The 4th of July is next Tuesday. We will celebrate the courageous and breathtaking chances our first leaders took when setting up the United States of America, and the people who carried forward the promises of a free and equal country. Our nation is experiencing a time of conflict and anger now, as it has many times before, and, like each of those times before, I expect the county will emerge from the struggle closer to freedom for all.

Our first leaders, coming from an experience of monarchy and long reigns for rulers, decided to base their new government on elections by the people being governed, and to have a peaceful transfer of power. No overthrowing (or killing) one leader to install another, but a voluntary giving up of power. That was such an amazing concept for a brand new country to even try. It is still an amazing concept even today. We see it play out on all levels, from school board members to state legislators, to governors, to federal legislators, to the president. That much turn-over in leadership, and it has made our country among the most stable governments in the world. That is something to celebrate.

We also have something to celebrate in these words from the preamble to the Declaration of Independence: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

When I was a child in school, I was taught that the word men in this statement meant mankind, and included women and children in the unalienable rights too. I was also taught that when the country began, voting rights applied to only white men, aged 21 years or older, who owned land. That shiny ideal that all people are created equal and endowed with certain rights was a long way from practice when our country started. In fact, with slavery, indentured servants, and class systems, the country was as far from the shiny ideal as it could be. But it was a beginning.

Every day, month, year, decade, generation, and century that goes by we get closer to equal rights for all. With non-land owners getting the vote, the official end to slavery, black men getting the vote and then getting elected to offices, women getting the vote and getting elected to offices, the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the legalization of same-sex marriages, and every other step small and large, The United States of America has moved closer to that beacon in the distance. Social change is slow, even at times when it comes in big bursts. But no matter the speed, social change is always headed towards that awesome ideal given to us all at the beginning of this nation: That all are created equal with certain unalienable rights.

Happy July 4th everybody. Have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

Top ten list of things gone by the wayside part 2

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. Today’s top ten list is a continuation of a previous entry of things gone by the wayside. It has been quite a while since the first part came out on February 1, 2013 and Rebecca and I have managed to come up with ten more. So here they are in no particular order.

10. Older aircraft. [Oh, the days of the DC3s, the Boeing 727s, and the DC10s. As most of you know, I am a flight sim buff and I’ve always enjoyed the older aircraft for their nostalgia. If I had a bucket list, one of the things I would do would be to fly on a DC3. They were manufactured in the 1940s, and according to the internet, there still are a handful of them still in service.]

9. Wholesome television shows. [When I was little, The Waltons and Little House on the Prairie were two huge hits for CBS and NBC. I always loved watching the Walton and Ingalls families go through their daily lives, whether it would be fun times or hardships. There was never really any violence in those shows and even if something bad happened, the goodness of the people in the community came to the aid of the people in need.]

8. Children’s lemonade stands. [These might not be 100% gone, but I’ve heard that in some states parents actually need to get a permit, and one poor child’s lemonade stand was shut down by the police for lack of said permit. I remember having a lemonade stand when I was 9 or 10, and later in life, if I was driving around town in my car and saw one, I would make it a point to stop and have two cups. Those kids deserved the extra quarter.]

7. Typewriters. [Oh, yes, the days of Wite-Out. I remember vividly writing my early writing career stories on a typewriter. As I’ve mentioned before, my favorite key is the backspace key; the old typewriters did not have that, hence my favorite product was Wite-Out. One college professor, I recall, did not allow Wite-Out and on one tough term paper it took me three tries to type the final page. When I was done, and I knew the term paper was just so, I threw the typewriter down the cellar steps. Mom laughed for an hour, saying, “I told you that one letter stuck, but you wouldn’t believe me.”]

6. The United States Football League – founded in ’82, ceased in ’86. [It took nearly a year to set up before playing began. The United States Football League, the spring time competition to the NFL, lasted just 3 seasons, ’83 through ’85. There were many factors to why it failed: #1, It expanded too quickly. #2. It paid humongous salaries with money it didn’t have yet. And #3. When Donald Trump, then owner of the New Jersey Generals, decided it would be a great idea to move to fall football and compete directly with the NFL, it was the beginning of the end. President Trump, you did not make the USFL great again, you killed it.]

5. Mom and Pop stores. [This one was going to be hardware stores, but Ace Hardware is still going strong so we changed to the Mom and Pop variety stores. You know the kind I mean, they sell a little bit of everything. State College had one such store, O.W. Houts & Sons, but when Wal-Mart came in, I knew it was only a matter of time before the Houts family would either sell or retire. I miss that store tremendously, it was part of my childhood. My mom shopped there every Saturday and sometimes I would go with her.]

4. Manners. [Quite recently, I was working the cash register at my job, when a mother and her two children walked up. The daughter, approximately age 10, gave me her order and said, “May I please have …” before everything she wanted. It was truly a wonderful thing to see; young children with perfect manners. I actually complimented their mom.]

3. Goodyear Blimp. [When I was a pre-teen, the Goodyear Blimp would always come to State College, Pennsylvania for one big Penn State home game. It would arrive on a Wednesday or Thursday, fly around at night advertising, and leave after the game. Over time, it began to only come the morning of the game and would be gone right afterwards. Now the Goodyear Blimp doesn’t come at all. We’ve had other blimps come and cover the games, but to me if just isn’t the same. Many an evening my mom and I would sit on the front porch in the fall and watch the blimp fly overhead and advertise their latest tire offers. Oh, if only to hear that low-pitched droning sound of its engines one more time. That sound is truly unique.]

2. Television variety shows. [Gone are the days of the Carol Burnett Show, the Sonny & Cher Show, and other such weekly variety series’. TV has evolved into mostly reality shows of a different sort now, mostly sleazy and sex related. And the one attempt at an old-fashioned variety show a couple of years ago was canceled after a few episodes. Take it from me, bigwigs of the major networks, the TV variety series is dead and gone. R.I.P.]

1. Handwritten letters. [This one holds a special place in my heart, for not that many years ago, I would write letters, and more importantly, Christmas cards. Yes, you can still buy Christmas cards and send them, but I’ve heard from retailers that sales decline every year. And why shouldn’t they, you can go on the internet and send any kind of e-card that you want for free on most websites. The fancier ones might only cost ninety-nine cents. That is still a much cheaper option then driving to Hallmark, finding that pretty card, bringing it home, putting a stamp on it, and taking it to the mailbox. I don’t know if writing letters will ever come back and replace email; I highly doubt it. I know it won’t for me. I have a dear friend in Romania and relatives in Holland, how easy and convenient it is to type an email, have the program spellcheck it for me, and after I hit send, the email the is half-way around the world within a minute. A letter would take a week or more.]

Well, there you have it, part 2 of things gone by the wayside. Tomorrow will be a personal day for me, and I’ve asked Rebecca to put up a blog entry for me. I’m sure she will do her usual good job. So until next Wednesday when we both return, I bid you a good week, take care and happy reading.

At camp this year, I’ll be taking lots of pictures

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. This year might be one of the last seasons that I go to Bear Spring Camps. When I was a kid, I imagined that I would go to Bear Spring Camps every year until either they sold the place, or I died. As an adult, more realistic choices have to be made. Money is an issue, though I might have enough for five more years of vacations. As most of us know, we can’t have two big vacations in one year, and there are a couple of other things I would like to do with that money. One thing I would like to do is take a three-to-five day cruise, perhaps to the Bahamas. Another thing would be to perhaps take a few days and travel to a destination that I’ve always wanted to see, such as taking in an Orioles baseball game in Baltimore, or going to visit the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum in Walnut Grove, Minnesota. Okay, the cat’s out of the bag, I loved Little House on the Prairie when I was younger.

For this summer, I’m going to purchase several one-time throw-away cameras and click, click, click all over the camp ground. I want every shot from every angle. Also, if my friends agree, I would love to have pictures of them. I do understand though that some people are camera-shy, I know I am. I think the best thing to do is stick with taking photographs of the camp ground and surrounding area. I will miss Bear Spring Camps so much when I am not able to go back.

As I blogged about a week or two ago, I also have an idea for a small side business. With the camp owners’ permission of course, I would find all my VHS tapes that I filmed over the years, see if they can be put on a DVD or Blu-ray disc, and recreate a virtual Bear Spring Camps day. I would like to thank all the readers who read that blog entry; that one really seemed to pop, with people thinking it is a good idea.

What else am I going to do with myself in August when I am no longer able to go to camp? There are many local sites and activities here in central Pennsylvania of which I have never partaken. One is the Grange Fair at the end of August. Others are local amusement parks and camping grounds which have small cabins, where I could get that hint of relaxation and nature. Would it be as good as Bear Spring Camps? No. But it would be something close.

Yes, yes, pictures, pictures. Just in case my time is limited, I’m going to bring Bear Spring Camps to me. Later on today, Rebecca and I are going to check out GoFundMe and see if there is a way for me to get the Virtual Bear Spring Camps project off the ground. I will definitely keep you up to date on my progress. A lot of my regular readers showed interest in that idea. 🙂

So there you have it folks, that’s the news for today. I’ll have a top ten list ready for next Wednesday. I hope you enjoy the coming days, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

It is a backwards day

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Greetings, readers. This morning I got up at 5:00 wanting to use my new toy, AKA the new laptop I got last week, but my morning allergies said no. I had to go back to my recliner chair until Rebecca arrived at 9:45 this morning. Instead of getting right to the blog as usual, we made phone calls for doctor’s appointments and re-entered my website passwords. Oh, what fun. It didn’t help matters that Meals on Wheels was almost an hour later than usual, getting here a couple of minutes before my accountant. We had our meeting, and after that was left an hour and four minutes to do everything else we have to do, including this blog entry.

While we were waiting for my accountant, Rebecca and I looked at my blog numbers for the last week and I found them quite encouraging. Especially the number of views for the entry about my mom. Many folks from my Facebook page as well as the Bear Spring Camps Facebook page had a read and it is quite touching to me that my mother was loved by so many.

After a quick snack at Panera, I will have to dart to the bus to make it on time for my work shift, which starts at 3:00. Due to road construction, which made yesterday’s buses run behind schedule, I will need to get as early a bus as I can. If the same thing happens today, I’d rather be early than late.

Last night was super crazy at work. Three people called off, leaving me to be the only register person. I didn’t mind that, I can do that job, but when the fans of the local baseball team, the State College Spikes, brought in their coupons from promotion night, all hell broke loose because of my short-term memory issues. Two sandwiches per ticket with purchase, tap the promo button twice. Once I fully comprehended the concept on attempt number 10, things went more smoothly. We were so short-staffed that I was asked to work past my shift ending time, which I did not mind. I simply told my friend Jim, who had come to meet me, that I would be with him ASAP.

Although all the business made yesterday seem to go fast, I’m hoping for a nice slow day today at work. It would mean less stress on register and would give me more time to do my side work. I’m scheduled to work from 3pm to 8pm. Time will tell. After that, I’ll be off for two days. In essence, I get my weekend on Thursday and Friday.

Tomorrow we will have another blog entry for you to enjoy and next week I already have planned a top ten list. Those always seem to do well. So until tomorrow, I bid you a good day, take care, and happy reading.