Tag Archives: friends

Top ten list of blessings in my life

Greetings, readers. Today I thought I would go upbeat with the blog entry. Recently I’ve been telling you about all the things that have been bothering me in my life, and today I thought I would go cheery. I am grateful for many, many things, even though sometimes I don’t always show it. So here is my top ten list of things for which I am grateful.

#10. My late kitty cat Keekee. [Not too long after I moved into Addison Court, I’d say less than a year, a friend of mine was moving out. She could not take the two cats she had with her and asked me if I wanted one for free. I’m glad I decided to try it, allergies notwithstanding. She was my buddy for one week short of 12 years.]

#9. Princess Josie. [This cat is completely different in demeanor than Keekee. I love her to pieces, but she is a little more rambunctious than my former furry feline.]

#8. Meals on Wheels. [Although they are not always dishes which I would consider my favorites, I do eat most of them and feel blessed to have them at such an economical price.]

#7. A place over my head. [No, it’s not the family house that we used to own, but it is two nice-sized rooms with fully functional kitchen and I enjoyed the great view from the top floor for 13 years. With the new building going up next door though, I’m going to lose most of that view.]

#6. Sentimental items from my parent’s home. [When I moved to this apartment 13 years ago or so, I vowed to take as many paintings as I could get. It gives the apartment a hint of my former home. For that I am extremely grateful. I also have my mom’s desk and a bookcase of which we make good use.]

#5. Good neighbors and friends in the building. [As in any community, there are good neighbors and neighbors you’d like to run over with your car. I’m very happy to say that I have most pleasant neighbors, with only a few exceptions. I’m a very easygoing man and can usually work around any people who cause conflict. I’m glad that so many of my neighbors are folks I am happy to call friends.]

#4. Rebecca. [Every book I’ve ever done would not be published without Rebecca. Not only is she a good friend, she is a fantastic typist and an awesome editor. In her role as personal assistant, she has kept me from missing numerous appointment. Kudos to Rebecca.]

#3. Working technology. [Yes, I do like my Steam games, and to watch movies on Netflix. Sometimes I lose myself in a fantasy world of baseball, or I’ll spend and entire evening watching James Bond pictures. I’m happy for the technology to do so, i.e. my computer and gaming system to watch Netflix and YouTube on my TV.]

#2. A great bus system. [As chance would have it, my apartment is steps away from a bus stop, where many of the buses I take stop at. Though, during the summer time, when the buses run on reduced service, I find myself having to walk downtown a few blocks to catch buses at the main stop, called the College Ave, and Allen St stop. Sure, I’d love to have my own vehicle, but this is the next best thing.]

#1. And yes, it is in order, is that at least for now, I can still go to Bear Spring Camps. [I might have to stop after this year or perhaps after next, but I am going to milk it for all it is worth. Bear Spring Camps, and those people I have known all my life, are my truest blessings.]

There is today’s top ten list, on this cheery topic. I hope everyone enjoys it. Please pray for everyone who needs it, and if you are inclined to and can, please consider donating to a fund to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. Such a tragic loss. I plan to donate some money myself.

Until this weekend, have a fantastic few days, take care of your family, enjoy good weather if you have it, and as always, happy reading.

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My new year’s resolutions 2019

Greetings, readers. I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to change in my life in 2019. The first thing that came to mind was to better my diet. That will be a slow process, but one of the things I can easily do is drink a cup of green tea at Panera every time I go. I shall get the benefits of its antioxidants and, according to WebMD, the benefits from lowing cholesterol levels and improving blood flow.

Resolution number two. I’m going to try to be kinder to strangers. New Year’s Eve day I was at Panera having a cup of coffee, trying to collect my thoughts, when I spotted a mother and three little girls. The children were all so well-behaved, I thought wouldn’t it be nice if I bought them a cookie to share? Hoping I wouldn’t come across as the older creep, I cautiously approached the mother. After the mother gratefully accepted my offer, I went to purchase the large M&M candy cookie. When I presented it to them, the children were all smiles. It felt so good to give rather than to receive. I watched the kids occasionally as they ate their lunch and sure enough they finished every bite. Then they shared their cookie.

I’m going to try to be more positive this year. I tend to be a pessimist at times and lose my cool way too easily. I shall work on that every day with meditation and therapy for anger management. It is nice that I have a therapy session this afternoon and I can start this resolution right away. Therapy really is helping so much. I am sure my doctor can continue to help me with my negativity and occasional short fuse.

I’m going to try to repay kindness to people who have shown kindness to me. Again, giving is better than receiving. I understand that when you are a little child, you love to get presents. Try giving, young children, you’ll be amazed by how good you feel.

This year, I’m planning to write at least one to two pages a day on a work project so that this time next year I’ll have a book of between 365-730 pages. Yes it is going to go very slowly. If I really get on a roll, I might even type more than that per day. I need to get that great American novel out if I have it in me.

Now for my biggest resolution. Thanks to a point-out from Rebecca, I’m going to stop bad mouthing people. Sometimes when I talk about my friends, I tend to harp on their bad points and how they irritate me on a particular day, without saying anything about their good points. I’m going to learn how to be thankful for all my friends, knowing that no one is perfect, and I sure as hell am not. I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that if you were to ask any of my friends about my bad points, the list would be about two pages long. That is why I need to change things.

What are some of your new year’s resolutions? Leave them on my Facebook page or here on this page’s comments section.

Rebecca and I are down to working one day a week now. I’m going to try to dictate a blog entry on Saturday when the work crews are not working and it is quiet, then post it for you late Saturday or Sunday.

Until then, take care, have a great day, have a blessed 2019, and happy reading.

It’s holiday time again :-)

Greetings, readers. In just a few hours one of my favorite days will begin. I love Thanksgiving because it has a number of traditions I took part in as a kid and I continue to do to this day.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving day. I’ll get up fairly early, have my morning coffee and take my meds, and get ready to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Then, a relatively new tradition, if I’m at home, I’m invited out to dinner with Traci and her family. Some years I’m invited to my best friend, David’s, house to take part in their celebration. That is always enjoyable, because I either go by Zipcar or Megabus and make a weekend of it.

After I get back from Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I will watch what is left of any football games, and take a nap. After I wake up, I will turn on Spotify music and play my hand-selected Christmas Trax. I’d have to say of all the songs I have on that playlist, Earth Kitt’s Santa Baby is my favorite. I performed that at my last show; it was a hit. Please, if you have Spotify, find me, follow me, and subscribe to that playlist, or any playlists of mine you wish.

To me, the Christmas season, even though it might start earlier or later for other people, was always from Thanksgiving morning until the day after New Year’s. At home as a child, I would watch my parents put up the tree, most years a live tree, decorate it and plug the lights in; it was so much fun to watch it come alive, as I used to say. There are holiday parades and bowl games during this part of the year, the town is decorated with pretty lights and lit wreaths and a big Christmas tree, and yes, even those first snow storms are pretty. Once the car tires get into it and turn the snow black, well you can have it. Black snow might be the ugliest sight in the world.

I always get a tiny bit depressed on January 2nd. Some people in my building will already be taking down their holiday decorations and the season will be over. What’s left is three months of trees with no leaves, grass that does not look green, snow, cold, and wind. Oh joy, oh bliss. And yes, readers, I am being sarcastic.

With tomorrow being Thanksgiving, I will let you know what I am thankful for. I am thankful to have a roof over my head and that it is downtown close to many places I need to go, such as shopping and bus stops. I’m also thankful for my many friends and people I call family. I am especially thankful for Rebecca who has been my trusted friend, typist and editor for all these years. In the last year or two she has actually graduated to a title of personal assistant.

I am most thankful for Tasha, my former co-worker at my fast-food job, and her mother for providing me with a wonderful kitty cat. Princess Josie has become most affectionate and loving. We are really getting to know each other’s habits, and believe me she knows that when I wake up, it is time for her breakfast. She’ll make a mad dash for the kitchen. So again, thank you Tasha and mom.

If anyone would like to, please leave in the comments below or on Facebook what you are thankful for. I would love to compare notes. As always, I wish everyone a safe holiday if traveling, give your family members plenty of hugs, and as always, happy reading.

Re-post of an entry about my Cerebral Palsy

Greetings, readers. As I wrote yesterday, I have a shift at my job today and left the blog to Rebecca. She said she would either write a new post or re-post a little-read-but-worthy one just like she did last week, and it turns out she chose to re-post. She picked one from the end of my second full year of blogging, where I wrote about my Cerebral Palsy and how it worked in my life. Thank you for reading. I’ll be back next week.

CP and me

November 15, 2013

Greetings, readers. This is my one and perhaps only blog entry dealing completely with my affliction from cerebral palsy. I have been looking at blogs and websites about CP for a project, and have connected with a couple of people in the same boat, and I now have my own case on my mind. I have mentioned my CP in this blog here and there, but I have not done a post about it and how it effected my life.

I have had it since birth and will die with it. However, thanks to my well-meaning but over-protective parents, I didn’t know I had it until around the age of 16. Up until that point, I was simply told that I had a weak left side and the whole topic of being different from other people really didn’t come up at the dinner table.

Let’s start from childhood. Vivid memories of Tuesday evening swimming lessons at the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania YMCA conjure up images of cold swimming pools and a little boy trying not to drown. I remember thinking to myself that I should be able to do what all the other kids were doing – swimming. I could just barely tread water. I knew it was time to quit when my favorite part of the evening was when it was time to leave, and I could put my quarter into the vending machine and get my plastic NFL helmet for my collection.

Around the age of 10 or so, I suffered what I still call to this day my klutz year. I was a normal active boy enjoying Nerf football and Whiffle ball, but in the span of twenty-one weeks I suffered three broken fingers, one smashed elbow, and a broken wrist … all on the same arm. The arm that I tended to fall to – the left. I was cast-free for one week before I smashed my elbow, then for one day before I clobbered my wrist. Not deterred from wishing to feel normal, I continued to play outdoor sports.

In my 20s, I remember playing racquet ball, with my friend from high school, which can be a brutal sport. We created our own game and called it Tenaquet. We served overhand and we gave each other two ball bounces rather than one. That aided my bad balance and Jim’s bad knee. What fun we had. When my knees and my back started to go haywire, I had to officially ‘retire’ from sports.

Around this time, it was becoming painfully obvious that attending Penn State University day classes was not for me. I was having a very hard time with taking notes and I was a horrible test taker. Later I figured out why. Even though I can read, my retention isn’t quite up to par. I had to withdraw and never did finish. I think Mom understood, but was in denial that her son couldn’t finish college. Just a couple of years ago, I found out from my Godmother that Mom had the measles when she was pregnant with me. This could explain why my brain didn’t develop correctly. Perhaps in some strange way she felt responsible. Which of course was ridiculous. Things happen.

As I briefly mentioned in other blog posts, things like my balance and fine motor skills are effected; not to mention the fact that I have seizures. But every day I do the best that I can do. I can just give people 100% of all I’ve got on any particular day.

On the positive side of my mild CP: I can walk, I can jog, I can drive a car. I can write. And I can give a fairly proficient air guitar show. Also, with the help of Flight Simulator X, I can even be, in a way, what I always wanted to be growing up as a kid, which was an airline pilot.

Overall I would have to say that my life has been good and I have learned to live with my mild disability as best I can. Having the knowledge as a child that I have CP may or may not have made a difference. Who knows, I might have been worse off. Unless someone invents a reliable time machine, I will never know.

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

Bear Spring Camps opening day 2017

Greetings, readers. Although Bear Spring Camps has a relatively short season of only four and a half months, I do get excited on opening day. I’ve been going to this camp, located in central Maine, since I was five years old, and have truly loved every moment of it. As I get older though, and as my monetary situation changes, it is becoming obvious that my years at camp are numbered. I might only be able to go another three to five years. I have learned through inspirational videos to treasure every moment of life, which is how I am looking at the camp experience.

I saw on the Facebook page for Bear Spring Camps that Peg and Ron are beginning their 34th year of them running the business. The camp opened in 1910. Peg’s grandfather started it, and at some point her father and mother took over the day-to-day running of the camp. At the beginning, it was truly a fishing camp, with quite rudimentary cabins. Now they are quite plush and filled with modern conveniences like small refrigerators, and new wood stoves in some of the cabins. Last year my cabin got an upgrade with new wall insulation and a larger living room area. I really like it. I’m going to keep that cabin as long as I’m able to.

When I was younger, I would buy a calendar at a souvenir shop in Belgrade Lakes and number the days until I would be back at camp again. I was that obsessed with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do keep track of things like the camp’s opening day, closing day, and I still do get very excited about two weeks before I am to arrive for my week at camp in August.

I wanted to take Traci with me this year, and still might if I can talk her into it, as it will feel strange being engaged and not with her for 10 days. We will miss each other of course, and talk to each other every morning and evening on the phone. That is what we did last year and it worked very well.

As a long time Bear Spring Camper, I wish Ron and Peg Churchill and family a successful 2017 camp season, and I can’t wait until August when I will get there for my week at camp. I will fish, swim, go on pontoon rides, visit with family and friends, and have my annual happy hour. As many of you know, I am a man of tradition.

Next week I am expecting a two blog work week. One of them hopefully will be a top ten list. Until then, I bid you a great weekend, take care, enjoy the warmth, and as always, happy reading.

I leave for Bear Spring Camps a week from tomorrow

Greetings, readers. A week from tomorrow I shall be on my way to Maine. How this year flew. In my mind I already have the list of things to take, which is going to include the Yahtzee game and other small items such a the binoculars and a camera. Obviously I can’t take everything in my apartment, the rental car’s trunk is only so big.

I’ll be taking my computer and music, as always, as well as headphones. It seems that no matter where I go, I need to have my tunes with me. It has been a hot humid summer in Maine, as well as here in Pennsylvania, so I’ll be sure to pack my swim trunks; it looks very much like I am going to be literally jumping in the lake. It is very refreshing when it is 85 or 90 degrees. Now that I am older, it has to be that hot for me to go into the water. I remember David and I as teenagers would be out there frolicking in the water trying to clobber each other with rafts in temperatures in the upper 60s. We were young, wet and having fun. We didn’t care about feeling cold.

I’m definitely going to miss Traci while I’m gone, and she is going to miss me. She has already informed me that she wants to go next year. I’ll have to try to get us a different cabin with a ramp for smoother entry in to the front door.

I expect to catch big fish this year, as well net many for David. We have a pontoon boat for the week, so it will be easier for me to get on and off, and will have plenty of places to sit. The older I get the more I can’t handle the small fishing boats. Another added bonus is that the 50 horse-power engine can get us where we are going twice as fast.

Camp evenings are blocked off for three very important things. My alone time for taking notes for possible new book stories, or just meditating. Yahtzee nights with friends and family. And there will be at least one evening with singing and storytelling with the younger kids.

As for the rest of this week and next, I’ll be filling out a job application on-line tomorrow, we will have a blog post on Friday, and as for next Wednesday I will probably be packing. We will see if I can squeeze one more blog entry in from me before I leave. Fear not though, for while I am gone Rebecca will put new material up every few days. Oh, yes, another year of blogging is not only upcoming but highly anticipated.

Until Friday, I bid you a good couple of days, watch yourselves in this heat wave, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Two entries in a row!

Actually, two entries in a row from me usually means Joe is in Maine, but not today. He is getting ready for his weekend trip to New Jersey with Traci, for his Goddaughter’s wedding, and asked me to do the entry again while he does things like laundry and packing. He is over his cold and feeling much better.

If he was doing today’s post, his topic probably would have been the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996 as the 20th anniversary is coming up. It is possible that he might still do an entry about it next week. Regular blog readers know that Joe loves planes and simulated flying, and watches shows, like Air Crash Investigations, to find out what goes wrong when planes crash. It angers him when people die because of problems that could have been avoided, and it saddens him when people die when it could not be avoided.

Switching topics, I read a book this week that really got me thinking. It was a novel by Liane Moriarty called What Alice Forgot. It is about a woman who hits her head and loses the last ten years of her memory. To Alice it is the year 1998 and she has to adjust to the fact that it is really 2008. In 1998 she was happily married, pregnant for the first time, with close relationships to her sister and friends. In 2008 she is in the middle of getting divorced, has three children, has a thinner body from a diet and exercise routine, all new friends, and the people she used to be close to are angry with her or distant. She is confused by all the change just a decade made to her life. She doesn’t know her children, and is amazed by how wild and precious they are, with such distinct personalities. She seems to have a full schedule with many projects, school functions with her kids, a lot of appointments; she had a busy life. In the week after her accident, she approaches decisions and interactions in a fresh way, as an outsider to her life, because she doesn’t remember any of the recent history that would have dictated her responses. It seems that a large part of the time she had been angry, tense, bitter, willing to lash out to hurt others, and lonely. When she relates to people from how she felt about them in 1998, she changes the relationships for the better. She doesn’t remember her appointments, so when one comes up she either misses it or has to wing it. Then she gets her memory back, including memories of her children being born and growing, and the real trick becomes to keep the positive changes while not losing the good things from the past decade.

As I read this book, I started to think about what changes have been in my life in the last decade. If I had a pause in time with a fresh slate, what would I want to change, and what would I want to keep? I did lose a lot in the last decade – my church disbanded and I lost touch with my friends from there, my mom and father-in-law both died and I miss them both, I have let my step-dad drift out of my life, and my jobs are completely different. I gained some things too – I am close to my dad, sisters and my nephews and niece, I work with my good friend Joe, and I have a much closer relationship with my dear mother-in-law. One of the things that has remained constant is my love for and from my husband, Darren. I don’t know if I will follow through on these things, but I should see my friend Nora again and visit my step-dad Bob.

The other day I was hanging out with Darren, no TV or books or other distractions, and it was nice. I noticed my mind was racing with what I still had to do that day, and I thought of Alice. I relaxed and tried to think about just that moment and enjoy time with my husband. No history, no future, just him and me. I need to do that more.

If Joe were writing this he would also add something about the people killed in violence these past weeks. The deaths that happened just before the ambush in Dallas, during the attack on police in Dallas, and yesterday in Nice, France. From both of us, to the family and friends who lost loved ones in these events, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

Until next week, stay safe, be cool in the heat, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Thank you readers for staying with us. Here is #500.

Greetings, readers. When Rebecca and I began this blog in late 2011, I never dreamed that we would still be going now. Not only are we still going, but numbers and popularity seem to be on the rise. I know quite a few regular readers personally. I love it. Today’s entry is going to be a thank you and a quick recap of some of our most popular blog posts.

It is with my deepest gratitude and my appreciation that I say a heartfelt thank you to all the people who have read this blog over the years. Some of my regular readers leave comments, and I take the time to read and respond to each and every one of them. It helps me to have that feedback and connection when it happens. I am grateful to the readers who have reached out to me.

The most read blog entry, by far, is still Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories, from September 2013. This probably is caused by the continued search for the downed Air Malaysia 370 flight. But I also know from the search terms used that I can see in the stats, that a lot of the views for this entry are from fans of the show. I also am a fan, which why I wrote it in the first place. It still intrigues me that so many look at this entry each and every day. It is always at the top of the stats or near it. Many people have also looked at my follow up about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crash, though not as many have looked at that as have looked at my post In memory of Air Florida Flight 90. Suffice it to say, that the blog entries about airliners and airline disasters seem to be my most popular.

Another entry that comes up a lot in the stats every month is the one I wrote in 2012, Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, and that truly warms my heart. The majority of comments I have received have been from former students of his, and their kind words about my father are special to me. To think that Pop is still enriching people’s lives years after his passing is truly amazing.

The entry that Rebecca and I still get a chuckle about is the Top ten list of modern conveniences, from February 2013. Rebecca and I both think that it’s being used as a teaching aid, perhaps in a college or university. If any of our regular readers know what this entry is actually used for so often, please do tell. We would love to know.

The From Rebecca series is also quite popular I’ve noticed, and they do get many reads, which I’m sure puts a smile on Rebecca’s face. I think it is cool too. The one that keeps coming up so much is From Rebecca: A little bit in a hurry. We don’t know why. It was written in August of 2012 while I was on the road to Maine a few years ago.

We have a direct link to Facebook and Twitter. My friends on both social medias learn about the new blog entry almost immediately after it is published. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends are coming over from there to read my blog. I am extremely happy about this. I have 250 some odd friends on Facebook, and it is exciting to see the numbers that are generated from there. They seem to especially respond when I write about something extremely personal, which I will admit I don’t do all the time. I’ve known some of them for many years, and I care about them as much as they seem to care about me.

As I’ve said before, I have no immediate plans to end the blog. I am seriously considering self-publishing a second blog book. Most of my 500 entries were written after the first book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, was published in 2013. Rebecca and I will work on that quite soon.

It is with my utmost joy and appreciation that I close this entry by once again saying thank you to you my readers who have kept this blog such a joy for me to write. Until Friday, have a great couple of days, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

I should mind my own darn business

Greetings, readers. As the caring person that I am, one fault comes with that, and that is I always want to know how people are doing. I’ll ask people how they are, what’s new, and in general, strike up a conversation about anything. Most people don’t mind and converse back with me. Some give me the look like I’m the talkative mentally slow guy. That hurts a little, but I know where I’m coming from, so it really doesn’t bother me that much.

I think my friendliness stemmed from two places: my parents’ upbringing and Bear Spring Camps. My folks were very caring people, always loved a good conversation, and would go out of their way to help somebody. At Bear Spring Camps, friendliness is the key word of the day. I remember many instances in the main dining room where friends and I would talk about the morning fishing trip or how the afternoon happy hour went.

When I was a youngster in school – and this might stem from being an only child – I would say hi and be friendly to anyone who would accept me. This had its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantages were that I did make some good friends. But, as we all know, kids can be cruel. Those that didn’t like my chatter, let me know it in a rather not nice way.

My best friend Dave always kept me entertained by playing ball or listening to records, so after school I always had someone to talk to. When he wasn’t around, I would put on the headsets and start to sing. That is why there was cracked paint in my room. Ha ha. For as long as I can remember, I just haven’t been able to close my mouth for too long.

I’m trying to mind my business more as I get older and I think that is a good thing. My friends know that if they need me they can count on me. But I really don’t need to know who an ambulance is for or where the fire trucks are going.

Wouldn’t you know, lo and behold, we mis-counted how many blog entries we have, even though the blog dashboard tells us after each one. So tomorrow will not be #500. That will be next week instead. Sorry to get your hopes up, but it is coming.

Until next time, signing off from #498, take care, have a nice day, and happy reading.

Merry Christmas eve and Christmas

Greetings, readers. This will be a short blog entry today, because I have a gazillion things to do before tonight’s Christmas Eve light ride and tomorrow’s Christmas festivities. As has happened in the past, things that I need to find disappear into the black hole that I call my apartment. The latest lost item is my electric shaver charger cord. There are two places that it may be hiding in. If it’s not in those two places, I’ve got a problem.

I was listening to lots of Christmas music yesterday and I’ll be sad when the season is over. Somehow it just seemed to go quicker this year. I feel like Traci and I just got back from Thanksgiving a few days ago. In actuality, it was really three and a half weeks.

Some time next month, I hope to begin my new budget as planned, though the beginning of a new insurance policy year may blow up my expenses for medication and co-pays until my deductible has been reached.

Finally, I will let everyone know that the first blog of the new year will be my annual New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to choose resolutions that are realistic and that I can attain. Spoiler alert: One of my resolutions will be to keep up with old friends better than I have been. So to my Facebook reader friends, you might just get that invite for coffee sometime.

Again, happy holidays to everybody, and here’s to a great 2016. Until Wednesday, take care, enjoy, and happy reading.