I Am A Rock…

2018-04-18_17-23-20.pngSince I was a teenager in the 1960s, one of my favorite musical groups was Simon & Garfunkel. One of their most popular songs was “I am a Rock”. Due to my Aspie traits, I was somewhat of a loner back then so this song just “spoke” to me.  My mother had abandoned me a few years before, so that probably had something to do with it too.

The song is basically about a desire to avoid pain and heartbreak. In order to avoid being hurt by relationships, the subject of the song refuses to make friends or fall in love.  Of course, this approach to life is very isolating and painful in itself. The last two lines are evidence that this way of living is more dreadful than the alternative of being hurt.

It would be several years before I fully understood that no one is an island and no one is especially a rock.  But, it was kind of nice to think that others had gone through what I did during my turbulent teenage years. 🙂

It has been over thirty years since I last heard this song, but I still keep a copy of the lyrics along with many others and read them on a regular basis.

 

 

Waiting In Line…

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canstockphoto35801773.jpgI have never been a person who patiently waits in a line. It has always seemed like a total waste to me. I will most often do anything to keep from having to stand behind other people. Now that I have taken the “One day at a time” approach to life, I want to live what I have left of life as fully as I can. Waiting in line is just not in that scenario.  And as Will said in the quote above many things just aren’t worth the wait.

Most of my grocery shopping occurs during the early hours when the store is almost empty.  I can order just about anything from Amazon now and have it on my doorstep within two days. Why drive an hour round trip to search through aisle after aisle trying to find what I am looking for and then wait to pay for it?

At an even higher level, I have come to more fully understand what the mantra “Simplify” means. I try to always stop and ask myself “do I really need this?”  Many times the answer is “No”.

Of course, there are times when waiting in line has to be tolerated. One of those times for me was when I wanted to get something off my bucket list. That something was a week at Disney World. Even though I visited the park during the off-season the lines were still pretty gnarly.  I loved my time there but will never do it again. 🙂

A Nice Change…

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Since this is my “aging week” here on RJsCorner, I will flat out tell you that I am thoroughly enjoying my “golden years” and yes they are proving to be golden.  All my life I have fretted about the future.

  • What will I be when I grow up?
  • Is there some other occupation that I was really built for?
  • Since I am a weird person, should I remain a bachelor?
  • Should I try to get another job or just retire?

So many questions about life when you are young. Now don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed every minute of my time so far. Well, almost every minute. But I often suffered to one degree or another with depression.  I perceived myself as always dreaming of more but accepting less. Those worries and frets are finally behind me.  From here on out, all there is left to do is enjoy it and I am determined to enjoy each and every day as it comes.  One day at a time is my new motto in life.

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Turning Back the Odometer…

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canstockphoto38063363.jpgI like old cars and I am kinda proud of passing on some of my experiences in life here on RJsCorner. Yeah, there are things, actually quite a few, that I would like to have been different but even the undesired things are an important part of my life’s experiences, that looking back have made me who I am.

If I hadn’t been deaf I wouldn’t have the level of empathy that I do. If I had not grown up in a single very stoic parent household I wouldn’t have the understanding of such things as I do. As another quote from Will says “Adversity builds character”. It made me who I am and I am quite proud of that fact.

I see so many people today that try to turn back their odometers.  They get hair transplants or cosmetic surgery to hide their years.  I can truthfully say that I am proud of the way I look. It does indeed show I have traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.

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A Lot Of Noise Goin On…

Cackle Banner.jpegI don’t know why I seem to be so fixated on sounds lately let alone poultry stuff.  My daily and weekly posts here are RJsCorner are now named after sounds (cackle and squawk) that chickens make. I need to get to the underlying reason for this. 🙂  I lost my hearing thirty years ago, and since then my brain has forgotten what many sounds sound like.  Sadly one of those areas is musical instruments.  I used to play the guitar, not terribly well but to my own satisfaction, and I really enjoyed that pleasure. Now when I see a musical instrument being played, I struggle unsuccessfully to remember the sounds they make.

I was never around chickens that much, but they did make a big impression on me when I first visited my grandfather’s farm as a small kid. I loved the fresh eggs that grandpa had but didn’t appreciate being chased by the rooster when I went to feed them.  So, why this sudden infatuation with poultry sounds?

Maybe it is all Freudian? Sigmund was pretty famous a hundred years ago during my hero Will Rogers’ time but has gone out of favor since then. Freud was a big believer that the unconscious (dreams) was where the mind put things we can’t openly deal with. Maybe I am in a second mourning period for my loss of hearing?

When it comes down to it, I guess I really don’t care that much, but it is interesting none the less. 🙂

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I Am Old…

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Ok, I will admit it for at least the argument of this post, I am old.  I don’t mean to get morbid but I am likely in the last decade of my life.  Being old, besides all the aches and pains, is kind of freeing. We just don’t care as much about what people think of us than we used to. Our image is pretty much set in stone at this point in our lives so making a fool of ourselves now it not a big thing.

One of the things at the new RJsCorner I plan on doing pretty frequently is to look down memory lane. That is, to show you some photos and maybe some stories about what has happened in my life.  I am told that a good blogger lets people get to know him beyond his writing. I  kinda like that idea.  So, here goes…

I know I should not say this but I have never been a fan of Mark Twain.  His books just never appealed to me. But I did get one of my favorite all-time quotes from visiting the Mark Twain museum in Hannibal Missouri a few years ago.  Here it is:

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Couldn’t have said it better myself. Some how, don’t ask my why, I still feel like a 35 year old or so. That is until I look into the mirror or get up from the couch, and especially when I look at the pills I now take on a daily basis.

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Lost Dreams..

It is important to take stock in all the good things we have had. But it is also worthwhile to recognize the opportunities we might have missed. In the past I have told many stories about how, after very humble beginnings, I have had a pretty privileged life.  This post is about the things I might have missed. So, here is that story.

The bible says something about not worrying about tomorrow or the past, but just live in today. Those always seemed like wise words to me but being I question everything they also sometimes seem like stifling words. Maybe worrying about tomorrow is not a good thing but not dreaming of it is something else.

Me at the age of 18.jpgI must admit that while I claim to be a dreamer, much of my life wasn’t as fully engaged in that mode as I would have liked. I too often kinda let things just happen instead of chasing me dreams. That is a sad commentary for a 70+ year old to have to make but it is as it is.

I knew from a very young age that I loved to read books, especially the non-fiction type where I learned to admire others and make them heroes in my life.  I knew I loved to think and rethink stories. Even as a pre-teen I wrote many stories but they like  Simon & Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence they were songs written but voices never heard, my stories had a readership of one.

I knew I was passionate about the written word but never really let it be part of my dreams. Instead I let others tell me what to pursue in life.  My dad wanted to be an engineer so I decided to be one for him.  I never allowed myself to dream of anything else or maybe I just didn’t have a clue.

My middle years were driven by my occupation. Engineering is not about dreaming but instead about equations, proofs and fact. Dreams had little to do with it.  I lived my middle years just concentrating on today. What was the job at hand? I simply didn’t allow myself to look for other possibilities. The draw of a constant paycheck  kept me in place. So, for the most part I had unfulfilled dreams.

Now as I look back on my life, I regret not dreaming enough and not especially not acting on the ones I had.  I look at my life and realize that it could have been quite different if I had allowed my dreams even a small level of realization. I know that the fault of this is totally my own. No one pushed those dreams from my head.

All this is not to say that I had an unhappy life. Except for my pre-college years I never wanted material things that I couldn’t have. I have a wife who I probably don’t deserve and some valuable friends along the way. It is just that my life could have been better if I had had the courage to dream a little more.

 

Tongue In Cheek..

I am going to do a little ‘explainin’ on this post about the foundations for RJsCorner. Everyone knows that a good house has to have a good foundation in order to survive. Since RJsCorner has been going on for almost nine years now and has over 3,000 posts it must have a pretty good foundation, even if it is not mentioned very often.

I started RJsCorner primarily because I had an overwhelming desire to write about my view of the world. I have always loved writing but had never tried to do it around a theme. I needed something as a common thread throughout my future posts. That something turned out to be based around my biggest hero/mentor/inspiration in life. His name was Will Rogers. He died almost 15 years before I was born so I really only knew him by his words and stories about him. If you do a search for “Will Rogers” in my search box at the top of each page you will find over a hundred posts about Will.

Will Rogers was a very prolific writer. Here are some words about him from the back of one of my favorite books:

2017-10-11_10-00-37.pngWill Rogers “was” America. Part Cherokee Indian and former cowboy, he captivated audiences around the world with sparkling gems of wisdom cloaked in gentle and uproarious country wit..

A simple, plain-spoken man, he was the voice of a nation during the ’20s and ’30s. Movie star, vaudeville headliner, radio commentator, his views and observations were syndicated daily and weekly in over 600 newspapers across the country.

Here is the essential Will Rogers — the story of his remarkable career, from Oklahoma “cowpuncher” to international star . . . and the warm, knowing and hilarious philosophies of the man embodied the heart and soul of the nation.

Will Rogers was a very prolific writer. He had a lot to say about the ‘human condition’ in America during his years. He tackled on a myriad of topics but by far the one he wrote most about was politics.  He described politics of his time as “applesauce”. It’s hard to find the original source of this term but to me it means that the political process takes something that is good and wholesome and pulverizes it into an unrecognizable mush.

His most famous quote was the title of the book above. He wrote some pretty critical words but they were always with respect for the subject at hand and with a dose of humor.

The descriptions of Will Rogers is quite varied. Some call him a humorist-social commentator, some a humorist-philosopher, and some a satirist. His words were primarily with a “Tongue In Cheek” spirit. For those of you who might have a different view from me on that phrase here is a pretty good definition:

When a statement is “tongue in cheek” it is ironic, slyly humorous; it is not meant to be taken seriously, however it’s sarcasm is subtle.

Though not meant to be taken seriously, it is not overt joking or kidding around, it is “gently poking fun”. A “tongue in cheek” statement may have a double meaning, some sort of innuendo or is witty in some way, particularly to the speaker. The tone or the context of the statement may make it to be taken seriously by the listener.

Here at RJsCorner I try to always keep Will’s philosophy of writing in mind.  Some who read my words just take them too literally when they are primarily intended as ‘tongue in cheek’.

These are indeed dark times for America but they are not the only time there have been dark clouds.  We will get through them as we have in the past, if we only don’t take them too serious.  In that vein I will close out this post with one of my favorite quotes from Will.

Do the best you can but don’t take life too serious.

That’s darn good advise for our times if you ask me….

Getting My Hopes Up…

I truly believe that I am an optimist at heart but being one is down right depressing at times, especially these times.  I have been thinking a lot about this lately and I have come to the conclusion that looking back ony seven plus decades on this earth can maybe be summed up by one word.

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I know at first thought that is kind of sad commentary on any life, but let me explain my version of disappointment.  All my life I have had high hopes. I always want everything to turn out the best it can be. As a result people, including myself, often disappoint me to one degree or another.  As a young boy I looked up to my father as the epitome of what a good person should be. Then one day I saw him do something that shredded that image. That might have been my first disappointment but it certainly would not be my last. Many many others would follow. One of my primary life lessons in this regard is that things are never as good as you hope nor as bad as you dread. Sometimes that helps ameliorate the situation but…

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In the end it just comes down to the fact that I expect too much from others and even myself.  I think that is because of my optimistic nature and that is something I proudly cling to.  Getting my hopes up does often result in disappointment but sometimes it results in joy and celebration.  I would rather have that than to go through life expecting nothing from anyone or anything in order to avoid disappointment.  Now, that would be a depressing way to spend my time, especially what I have left of it.  The celebration of the successes in life far outweigh the disappointments even if disappointment comes more frequently.  It is as simple as that for me.

A Gardening I Will Go…

I have been fascinated by gardens just about all of my life.  I think it started with Mrs. Forester when I was six years old.  She was a very old lady, at least in six year old terms, who lived next to us in urban Indianapolis.  I don’t know if she was widowed or just a spinster but she was always nice to me even though I was probably a pretty hyperactive kid that most old people have little tolerance for.

Mrs. Forseter’s back yard seemed like it was a palatial estate when in reality it was probably no more than 20 x30 feet. Her larkspurs seems to tower as high as the mighty redwoods of California. She also had a vegetable patch with things I had never seen like cauliflower and broccoli.  I was fascinated by the sight of her back yard.

It wouldn’t be long before I had my own garden even if it was only an 8 x 8 feet patch.  I proudly harvested the radishes and leaf lettuce for a family salad.  My first “real” garden wouldn’t happen until I was about 14 years old.  By then my mother had left for greener pastures taking my older brother with her.  That left Dad, me, and my younger brother.  Dad was pretty much a meat and potatoes guy typical of his generation so this country garden was mainly made up potatoes, corn and green onions along with some green beans and a few other simple veggies.

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My first trip to Mount Vernon and Monticello was with my class for a senior trip in high school.  The gardens there were simply amazing. During that trip in 1965 there was little mention of the fact that the gardens were maintained by slaves, that recognition would come about  twenty years later on my second of three trips.  I found that I was much like Thomas Jefferson in that I like to experiment with crops I had never grown.

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For the score of years between 1965 and 1986 there was little opportunity for a garden as I lived in apartments and a condo but I did have tomato plants and such on the deck. When the married version of myself finally got a stand alone home I decided to “do it up right” as far as a garden was concerned. This one had a fence around it and raised beds with paths of mulch.  It was my most picturesque garden but certainly not my last.

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When I retired in 2000 and moved to our current 2 1/2 acre homestead one of the first things I did was to buy a rear tine tiller at an auction and proceed to make a 25 x 50 feet veggie garden.  It would be the most productive garden I ever had and would continue for about ten years until my body started rebelling against all the bending over to maintain it.  I now have a 10 x 32 feet version with heavy duty landscape fabric on about 80% of it.  It is pretty much weed free without a lot of effort.

 

A.B.C.D vs Q.I.U.T.G

Some people live their lives one way and some another. Some think that for today they need to do A.B.C.D and then tomorrow repeat that sequence and continuing to do that the rest of their days. And then there are others who think that for today they need to do W.Q.E.T.Y and then tomorrow H.P.I.Y and avoiding as many repeats as possible.

I don’t know what makes some people A.B.C.D and some the opposite, but I know that my wife is of the former type and I am at the other end. Most of the adventures we have been on in our 31 years of marriage she was originally opposed to doing but now, at least sometimes, she looks back on them with joy. Our extended stay in Mexico for my job was one of them. Another was our 4-year stay in New Jersey. A recent one that I almost forced her to go on was a week long stay at Disney World. She still says that was just utter agony.

I don’t know what makes her such an extreme homebody who insists on an A.B.C.D life? Within a year of the day we were married she said she had to quit her job as life was just too stressful. She then started out her A.B.C.D life and it continues today pretty much as it has been for thirty years.

I, on the other hand, just get bored when I am forced to do the same thing for very long. I did work for the same company for 30 years which enabled me to get a pretty good pension but that 30 years was basically in four very different fields. When I retired I spent six years making country furniture including reproduction Hoosier Cabinets. But after that period of time I was totally bored with the work. Part of this for me is probably my Asperger’s Syndrome. I need constant stimulation to feel I am accomplishing anything. Once I get good at something, it’s time to move on the next thing.

From her perspective  I’m  sure that living with an Aspie has been difficult, especially a deaf one.  They say opposites attract and that is certainly true for us. For the most part we are happy and love each other but of course, our differences cause frequent conflicts.

Aspie Trait #2 – We are honest to a fault

Banner Aspie   We Aspies are usually brutally honest and speak our mind. Our allegiance is to the truth, not people’s feelings. Most people learn not to tell the truth all the time. Sometimes white lies need to be said so as not to hurt friends’ feelings. But white lies just seem immoral or at least illogical to many of us Aspies.

Of course, being brutally honest is not the way to make friends at least at a casual level so many of us lack those kinds of friendship growing up. I realize that I sometimes hurt people’s feeling here on RJsCorner by what I post. But usually, that is a secondary thought that only comes until after the post is written. Honesty to me is almost everything. I have come to realize that is one of the things that is making our current times, especially inside the Beltway Loony Bin almost intolerable to me. I just can’t fathom someone being celebrated for telling “alternative facts” that they know are untruthful.

One of those areas where being honest is lacking is in today’s religious establishments. I was asked to leave a Missouri Lutheran congregation because I openly said that I couldn’t accept that the earth is only 6,000 years old just because an old Jewish document written by hundreds, if not thousands of different people dated it with their counting the generations after the Adam and Eve story. That got me in trouble, but perhaps even more so that I just couldn’t make any sense of how current Christian practices changed so drastically from the words of their founder. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Being honest is considered an asset by most in our society, but not in every circumstance. That is the part we Aspies can’t understand…

 

Three Weeks Post Brain Surgery…

Snippet Banner   It is hard to believe that three weeks ago right now I was in a cold sterile operating room with the top of my skull removed to fix a bleeding brain! Long story short, I am doing remarkedly well and anxious to get back to a normal routine. I haven’t suffered any seizures that are somewhat common for brain bleed surgeries and have really not had a lot of pain.  The doctor gave me a prescription for “heroin in a pill” but I have not found it necessary to take any of them as Tylenol has been doing the job well enough.  I go back to seeing the surgeon on Friday and am hoping for a go-ahead for the next stage of recuperation. I just might be able to get on my garden tractor for the first mowing of the Spring.

Just thought you might like to know.

Destroying The Work of Past Generations..

My wife is an avid watcher of TV, especially the ‘flipper’ shows where someone buys a house for $20,000 and puts some paint on it and then sells it for $40,000. To me, that very idea is WRONG on so many levels:

It Gives People The Wrong Idea — It is kind of like sports in my mind where a kid decides that he will be a professional in basketball/football, you name it. He then spends literally all his waking hours playing that sport to the exclusion of everything else. As a result, he is totally unprepared for life when he is among the 1 in 50,000 people to get that one job. To me, sports just wrecks too many people lives with false hopes to have much overall value.

The same can be said for the flippers. They leave the impression that easy money can be made for little or no effort. There is certainly a vast proliferation of these types of shows in cable/satellite channels now encouraging naive people to spend their hard earned dollars on something that will eventually bury them.

On another level, many are demolishing history — On my trips through the living room where my wife watches her shows I frequently see two twin brothers who are trying to convince people to let them remodel their homes. These guys just seem to have a way of dissing all the work of past generations. They snicker and sneer at anything that is older than 10 years old. They say “how can up possibly live in a house like this???” They then go about showing their potential customers that for a mere $50,000 or $100,000 they can make their home look “modern”. They are tearing down or remodeling older architecture instead of appreciating past generations of work!!

It amazes me that every home they, and so many other copycats, redo seems to look exactly the same when they are done. I wonder how many years will go by before another generation of flipper disses their work as being cookie cutter?

But in some way I guess I was a flipper too. When I retired from the corporate world we bought a 1925 farm house that had already gone through three bad renovations and flipped it for ourselves. The difference was that about half of what we spent was behind the walls. Much of the wiring had been done without a code inspector and was just plain dangerous. The well went dry after running only 5 minutes and required another 15 minutes to refill. duct work had to be added along with a new furnace and air conditioner. Since most of the period features of the house had been destroyed by the previous remodels we spent quite a bit of money to recreate them again.

We are in our 17th year living here now so according to standard flipper rules, everything needs to be updated. We have too much carpet, not enough granite and only two bathrooms. That’s just plain unacceptable by today’s standards. The trouble at least for them is I like it just as it is. Especially since I built much of it myself.

My Personal Experience with Brain Trauma – Part 3

Before the surgery, I really had no idea who Dr. P was or what he looked like. (I am not using his full name here as I don’t have permission from him and don’t want to intrude on his privacy). Looking at him when he delivered the good post-surgery news I discovered he was a sixty-year-old or so guy with white hair and a neatly trimmed mustache. He came in a couple more times that day to check on me. When my wife was not there to sign for me he always grabbed the paper and pencil to give me a “normal” conversation and that is very unusual for a doctor to do. Most of the time they almost refuse to write things down for me, let alone chitchat. I don’t know why but doctors are especially bad at that, but not this one. Dr. P went out of his way to treat me like one of his friends.

I also noticed that he was wearing jeans and a regular shirt. I later found out that he was one of the most popular of the 350 doctors with the staff at my hospital. He never wears a tie or suit and drives an old pickup truck! He is unlike any other doctor I have ever had. You would never guess that he was a brain surgeon but instead maybe a farmer! It turns out that he also did the brain surgery of a good friend of mine who helps me around the homestead and like me, he simply loves Dr. P. I look forward to seeing him in the future for follow-up recuperation appointments.

Sam, short for Samatha, was my critical care daytime RN for the two days I was in that part of the hospital. We spent quite a bit of time together and I felt I got to know her pretty well. She is a “traveling RN”, that is she moves around the country working in one hospital then another. Her last stint was in Alaska. She works three twelve hour shifts in the CCU and then has the rest of the week off to explore. She is a millennial who shuns high heels and makeup but has a very natural beauty that quickly shines through. She says she wants to be known for what she does, not what she puts on her body. With people like her in charge of the future of our country, I feel confident that it is in good hands indeed.  I met a kindred spirit in Sam those two days but she was not the only one.

Keli, the night RN was very different from Sam but just as confident in her abilities to take care of herself. Being deaf, I seem to be able to draw out people with their family stories of adversity and her father has his share. He is my age and facing a very difficult time in his life. I tried to give some moral support.

I interacted with perhaps a dozen different people and every one of them was friendly and very good at their jobs  My hospital might not be the biggest one in the area but in my opinion, it is the best. The road ahead for me is not going to be particularly easy but with their support, I will handle whatever comes toward me.

I left out some interesting stories about my stay but I think that is enough for now.  I”m sure in the future I will be filling in some holes in this dramatic experience.