Finally, I Wrote THE Book!

Well, it has been on my list for quite a while.  My Mom always said, Son you should write a book.  I don’t know what she thought I would write about but she just thought I should.  Sorry I didn’t get it done while she was here to see it but maybe that isn’t really a problem and I hope she knows IT’S DONE!

Counseling over the years, almost 48 of them now, I have certainly learned a lot of things.  I gathered up a lot of material for something and finally figured it might as well be a book.

I think I dedicated it to everyone I know who helped me along the way, but especially to my Mom and my family who have supported me all along the way.  I did decide to do a tribute to some of my more influential mentors and teachers and included them in the book as well.  Without them, I am not sure exactly where I would have ended up.

Anyway, it is done.  It’s about ways to help yourself and others.  Much like a ‘self help’ book but also one for people like me who are doing their best to help others along the way.  It is about simple counseling methods and skills that fit with almost any one and any theory.  And, since I am not one to read BIG books, it is only 100 pages or so.

Dr. B. would be supportive I know since he encouraged me to write years ago.  I included him in my dedications and thank you comments.  Without him, I am not sure I would have attempted to write anything.  Thanks Dr. B.

Writing a book was on my ‘bucket list’ so now I can check that off the list.  In fact, at this point I have written three more with a long-time mentor and friend, Dr. Sidney.  We had some fun doing those as well and I think I am beginning to get the hand of this writing thing.  It is almost becoming “fun”.

It’s been hot this week in Routh and I’ve been staying close to the cool places.  I did get the back pasture mowed day before yesterday before the heat settled in so that’s done.  Good think too since the thermometer promises numbers well into the 90s today and this weekend.  Oh yes, and Donna Ruth’s birthday is coming up in a couple days.  We are planning for that big celebration and I have her a new 2-seat bench for the yard.  A “love seat” where we can sit and enjoy the view.  GRATITUDE.  I am a Blessed man.

Posted in Bucket List, Donna Ruth, Dr. Tom Bibey, Mental Health, Mom, Writing | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wednesday Night Men’s Group

Well, we had a great meeting tonight at the Men’s Wednesday night ‘support group’ at church.  One of the members had promised us a special message a couple weeks ago and tonight was the night.  In fact, we were all in attendance which is sometimes difficult to make happen.

Anyway, he told us the story about Moses.  The same one we have all heard since we were kids.  But this time it was really special.  He had a personal twist on the age-old words that made us all stop and think.  He talked about how Moses was exiled off to take care of the sheep for a good many years after having to leave Egypt.  I guess Moses had a lot of time to think out there with just the sheep!  And time to talk to God.  Well, as Bob put it, GOD really got his attention!  HE spoke to Moses from a ‘burning bush’ and called him by name.  MOSES!  You have to go to Egypt and get my children out of this mess they are in.

Moses thought about it just a little and realized he was a ‘wanted man’ in Egypt so how could he be the one to go and save anyone, let alone himself?  So he asked GOD if HE was really sure about this plan?  For him to go and put himself in danger knowing they would be looking to cut him to pieces and then make it out alive with all those people?  Sounded a little …. well, crazy to Moses.  But GOD SAID, MOSES, I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU.  And GOD said for Moses to go down there, get the people and come back up on the mountain so they could worship together.

Then Bob told us about FAITH and the grain of mustard seed and that was all the FAITH it took to make a mountain move.  And Moses decided he could do it.  He WOULD do it and he DID do it.

The bottom line here is that we all have to look beyond what we are doing day after day and figure out what GOD really wants us to do with our lives and our talents.  Sometimes it may seem pretty ‘crazy’ like it did to Moses, but even if we think we can’t do it, GOD said “I WILL BE WITH YOU ALWAYS” and that is how you will get it done.

Maybe we and others in our world have lost sight of this concept in recent years.  Our Men’s Group talked about Moses and tried to make sense of the lesson.  It is a difficult one and we may have left with more questions than answers.  But we did at least leave ‘confused at a higher level’ and I think that is what we meet there for each week.  To BECOME CONFUSED AT A HIGHER LEVEL.  I know I was!

And, I am still thinking about the evening and think it may be a little haunting to me for some time as it has been for Bob.  But that will probably be a good thing.

Thanks again Bob.  It’s been a pretty good week.  DR made some apple butter from the apples she picked  in the orchard.  We decided to celebrate some birthdays a little early or a little late and DR made a cake.  That was good and so was the fresh peach jam we had for breakfast.  ATTITUDE of GRATITIUDE.  I really am Blessed and so grateful for family and friends like I have been with today.  GOD IS GOOD and ‘Will Always Be With You”

Have a great evening.  And hug the ones you love.  “Doc”

Posted in Church, Friendships, Garden, Relationships | Leave a comment

50th High School Reunion-Revisited

Well, we could call it the 51st reunion I suppose, but that just doesn’t have the same ‘ring’ as 50th, you know?  So, I’m calling it ‘revisited’ ’cause that’s what we did….visited again.  We had a great time on Friday night sitting around at the park under the shed, eating pizza and chocolate stuff…thinking about lighting a fire in the fireplace but then we would have had to move back so we decided not.  So we just imagined a fire and decided to have a 50.5th – revisited in the fall and build a fire and roast hot dogs when we NEEDED a fire.

It is always good when we get together.  Always been a close bunch growing up in school together from first grade to graduation.  We had it good.  Only about 40 or so and we all were good friends.  We’ve lost one or two along the way …. illness and war issues.  That’s sad but we had good times back in the early days in school and on until now.

Some played sports, some cheered them on, and some played in the band but we all were in there somewhere, some in more than one at a time.  We had cheerleaders who played in the band, and band members playing on the football team, etc.  Pretty much had to have people take on more than one position when you only had 40 to begin with!  But it was fun and we’ve had fun ever since getting together at the park for cookouts and fellowship.

I think that is really missing these days in kid’s lives as the get older.  I’d say ‘grow-up’ but that term seems to carry with it the idea of maturity and I can’t say I always see maturity, just older.  Seems like more and more of the kids born since 2000 aren’t sure what they want to do or where they want to be in 10 or 20 years…except they seem to hold to the idea they will have their smart phone with them so the can get the answers they need and connect with people they sometimes don’t really know.

I don’t mean to sound like every generation before me and say that the young’uns are never going to amount to nothing.  They said that about us too what with Elvis Pressley, the Beatles, long hair and bell-bottom jeans.  We did look pretty funny I guess, but we did learn about responsibility, getting along with others, being cooperative, following the rules and taking a place in society with a family, job and kids of our own.  We DID “grow-up” and assume a place in society.

Not saying all the youth of today are missing the boat, but I did hear on the news the other day that one out of three 18-30 year old children today will return home to live with their parents because they can not succeed at life.  One of the guys I talked to last week told me he has a friend who still pays his kids cell phone bill.  Not so odd but the guy’s kid is in the Army and is 35 years old.  Wonder how long that fellow is going to keep it a secret from his older child that his phone costs money?

Someone called it “entitlement”.  Well, that is a big word for thinking you should be getting something just because you have a beard or graduate from high school or such.  Well, I remember we were entitled to food, clothing and shelter.  Seems like the rest of what we had came from hard work and earning our own money.   And I don’t know any of my classmates who ever figured it was a good idea to plan on going back to live with your parents, that is, until THEY needed YOU.  And some of us did that or helped provide for our parents as they got older.  But NOT the other way around.

RESPONSIBILITY.  It’s a word that seems to be missing or at least misunderstood in the world of today.  RESPECT is probably another word that has been mixed up and shoved around.  I remember being taught you would have responsibilities as you got older and along with that, you would have RESPECT for your elders whether you agreed with them or not.  AGE DID MATTER and if you were the younger one, you were WRONG!

Maybe that isn’t fair, but it was about RESPECTING parents, teachers, police, and other adults.  You could have your opinion about something but if it didn’t work out with your parents and other adults, you could take your opinion on the road and find your own place to stay.  CONSEQUENCES was another word some of us learned pretty quickly; whatever you did or said had CONSEQUENCES, sometimes good ones and sometimes not so good.  But you got whatever you got based on what you did or said and you had to live with it.  Good or Bad!

Well, there are some good kids growing up who will become, I hope, solid, respectful and responsible adults.  Someone needs to learn how to lay brick, wire electric lights, and put in a new toilet.  We also need some people to work on cars but that takes an education in computer science today and we need some of the computer people to work on computers too.  But we need people who can do the everyday chores of managing a budget, cooking meals, and paying bills.  Raising kids to know right from wrong comes in there somewhere and being a good husband or wife.  And having a sense of VALUE in your life; knowing what means something to you and being willing to stand up for what you value whether everyone agrees with you or not.  Some will like what you like and some won’t but, you know, everyone has a right to their opinion according to the CONSTITUTION (that was written in 1776 or there about by the way) and a good many people have forgotten we have one and we need to abide by it.   Seems like everyone today wants to change what it says and change all the history that came between then and now, just because it doesn’t suit them.  What happened is already DONE.  Did some of us miss that lesson?  You can’t change what WAS, only what will be coming down the road in the future.

Well, you know what, this is AMERICA.   We have made it pretty well up to this point doing what we have been doing.  The CHANGE that some want to see may make a major dent in the way our world in AMERICA works.  History is HISTORY.  You can’t CHANGE HISTORY!  IT is what it WAS!  Did someone miss that lesson too?.  Pretending it was different or taking away some of the reminders of what it was will NOT CHANGE what it was or THAT it was.  History is history no matter how you cut it.  We need to accept that as real and true, good or bad….it was what it was.

Long and short of it, past generations grew up learning to become responsible and respectful and to build on the past.  They (we) learned to take experience and turn it into successes and improvements.  Sometimes that meant turning failures and losses into victories and gains.  Sometimes it meant taking a good thing and making it even better.

Today, if we can get our heads on right, we could continue doing just that; taking what we have learned and building a great future with success and dignity and responsibility.  But we need to get our heads on RIGHT as soon as possible, or we may miss the chance.

It’s been a good week so far in Routh.  Nice rain today for the garden and the tomatoes and peppers are doing well.  Squash is coming in and tasting good fried up with some onions.  It’s a beautiful world.  I’d like to see it stay that way.  Have a good week and a great summer!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Friendships, Fulton County, Garden, Growing Up, Relationships, SCHOOL

WELL, it’s been 49 years!

Hard to believe sometimes, but Donna Ruth and I have been married 49 years this month, 1968-2017.  Next year will be the BIG 50! (I hope!)  I always say it would have been longer if her Mom would have agreed to let us get married when we first met but I understand her reluctance since Donna Ruth was only 12 and in the 7th grade.  I was all grown up at 14 and felt like it would work out ok but her Mom just didn’t agree.  She did agree to ‘sign for us’ when DR graduated from high school, so we figured we would just have to wait and Mom kept her promise.   It may have been a ‘test’ to see if I would stay around, and I passed the test!

So, anyway, it has been a fun trip about all the way.  As usual, everyone hits a bump or two in the road but we were able to move on and get through any little issues that did arise.  Somehow, we managed both to work, go to college, get degrees and have a couple kids in that period of time.  Moved around a little but never left the state…too nice here in the Blue Ridge to wander far off!

This past weekend we had an early celebration and went over to the “big city” of Rock Flats where we went as kids.  Here grandparents and other family lived there so they could ‘watch after us’ when we were younger and her Mom would trust us to be around some family.  Spent lots of good Sunday afternoons (after 3-4 hours of church) at her Uncle’s car port where all the family would gather for eating (most of the afternoon) and playing and singing more gospel music.  It was right up my alley and we often played music and ate fried chicken and ‘tater salad ’till dark.  It wasn’t bad at all and in fact, was a great way to grow up.

Most of the family finally figured out I was “ok” and would be an acceptable addition to the family at large.  It was a good family to be part of as well.   DR’s uncle sharpened saw blades (just for extra money) in his shop and would always have a few for me when we visited.  Sometimes they were just left behind by someone, or he found them at trade lots but they were great saw blades and I still make use of them today.  He was good at sharpening!  Normally, he was a cabinet maker and a good one too.  It was nice to learn some of his trade secrets along the way.

On Sundays, the whole clan was there for the chicken-pickin’ and joined in playing or singing.  Most of them attended the same church so we just picked up where we left off at church.  It was a good way to grow up as a teenager adult-want-a-be. So Rock Flats has always been a special place for me and DR to visit for a day to remember and visit some of the places there.  Some are gone and have been replaced or restored but the little town main street is still pretty much the same and STILL busy!  This year we visited a couple of the home places of her grandparents and aunt and found they had been ‘renovated’ into stores and restaurants, with a good bit of change in some situations. But, the driveway to her grandparents house was still where it used to be and the old country store they managed was still in place, just under a new name; Peaceful Country Store and it had been ‘expanded’.  The old home place was now a restaurant, “Buck’s BBQ and Fixin’s” and it smelled pretty good.  Almost as good a DR’s grandma’s cornbread, green beans and squash from the garden with fresh tomatoes, onions and other homemade pickles and such.  But things do change, I get that and we enjoyed sitting on the porch of the old/new country store during an afternoon shower and enjoyed the smell of the mountains.

Rock Flats has it’s own gathering places and one of them is a little theater playhouse just across from her grandparent’s old country store so it was a place we often went years ago.  Nowadays we go occasionally to catch a comedy or musical, especially the Christmas musical which is always a pleaser.  I had arranged for dinner at one of our favorite eating places and tickets for the play as well so after a little ‘visiting’ in town and around, we had a great dinner (with a guitar player in the corner) and ended up the evening over at the playhouse.  It was a fun day but when we got home, we realized we had walked and visited a lot and it was nice to get some rest!  We had tired feet!  But we had such a good time and a good celebration in our favorite other place, Rock Flats.

We got a good rain yesterday so the garden is happy and DR won’t have to worry about things drying up!  Tomatoes, peppers, squash and cukes are looking good and will make for some good eating and canning this summer.  We will probably catch a little pickin’ and grinning at the local farmer’s market on Saturday with some friends.  That’s always good and we can pick up a couple pounds of that good fresh sausage and some other veggies we can always find there.  Might even talk DR into an afternoon ice cream treat at the new “Sweeet Thangs” shop in town while we are there.  We like to ‘stretch’ our celebrations for about a week around the actual day so that would be a good addition, at least I think!

It looks like it will be a good day here in Routh.  Hope you all have a good day and I plan to do so as well.  Probably “dinner out” with DR as a part of the ‘celebration week’.   Maybe our favorite Mexican place would be good.  But DR always gets to decide.  Sometimes I give a ‘hint” but I can go anywhere as long as she’s along.  Happy Happy! Joy Joy!  And Happy 49th to us from me!

 

Posted in Childhood, Church, Garden, Growing Up, Marriage, MUSIC, Relationships | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

RIGHT and WRONG: Did I miss something?

It’s March 12, Sunday, and Routh is covered in white, fluffy snow.  Yes, we did have our later winter, early spring snowfall over night and, as usual the countryside and fields around the area have taken on that special beauty that comes with snow.  The trees are works of art and the crocus is still peeking out of the snow, ready to be spring.  We already have some daffodils and they, too, are basking in the light covering of snow.  It even “sounds” like snow outside, you know, that ‘quietness’ that comes with snow.

Last night Donna Ruth and I didn’t ‘smell the snow’ and began to wonder if it  had missed us, but sure enough, getting up this morning, it’s here.  The temperature dropped just enough over night for the mist and light rain to freeze and turn to flakes.  It’s just beautiful.  My Mom would love this morning.  She always loved to watch the snow fall and have her cup of coffee near the dining room window where she had the best view of the snow.

As I was finishing my second cup of coffee in the ‘sun room’, watching the snow, and thinking back to being a kid, I was reminded of many of the ‘times’ we had growing up with snow, making snow angels, and snowmen and having snowball ‘fights’.  Growing up in a small town with family and friends was a really good thing.  I remembered my Dad’s 1932 Plymouth with it’s narrow tires backing out of the driveway, covered in snow, and pulling on to the road going to work (if it was a workday) and heading down the snow covered road.

We didn’t have ‘snow plows’ much in those days, but the roads seemed to be pretty much useable for the folks who had to go somewhere.  The rest just stayed home and enjoyed the beauty.  And made snow cream with snow and milk and vanilla.  None of us died from that I don’t think.  As near as I remember, we also ate some dirt occasionally if we dropped our peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we ate outside, dusted it off and kept eating.  We also used mercurochrome if we skinned our knee, painted it all up red and covered it with a bandage and kept on playing, probably got dirt in the skinned knee too, but lived.

I remember, there were ‘rules’ that we didn’t dare challenge.  There were “RIGHT” and “WRONG” things, “GOOD and “BAD” things and somethings we called “should do” and “should NOT do”.  It seemed, at least back then, we all had a pretty good idea of what those lists were about and the things that were ‘written’ on those lists.  For us, there were not many ‘shades of gray’ like there are today.  We had what was called “black and white” and no in-between’s .  Just typing that today makes me worry someone will take offense, but none is intended at all.  As kids growing up in the 1950’s we just had RULES and everyone had pretty much the same set.  We had what you might also call VALUES and there were some things everyone was just plain EXPECTED TO DO or BE!  There were no questions, it was either black or white and we knew that we didn’t cross the line and do ‘bad’ things or ‘wrong’ things or we would pay the consequences. No gray areas.

It was like there was a TWO-COLUMN list and on one side was the “SHOULD DO” things and the other side was the “SHOULD NOT DO” things.  There was a clear line down the middle and we didn’t dare cross that without considerable fear and knowledge that we were tempting fate; a fate that some of us avoided because we saw some  of our friends step over the line!

I remember going to school and knowing we had a PRINCIPAL and knowing where his OFFICE was located as well.  To be honest, he was a really good man, Mr. Perry.  But if you were a student in his school who stepped over the ‘line’, you paid a visit to Mr. Perry and he would make sure you were clear on what the rules were and that NEXT TIME you would know what would happen if you chose to disobey the rules.  I did my best to avoid the ‘office’ and steered clear of any behavior that might cause me to wind up there.

But, honestly, that was not such a terrible thing for kids to learn – RULES.  SHOULDS and SHOULD NOTS.  RIGHT and WRONG.  I remember that we never intruded on other people’s property or tried to take things that belonged to others.  That was WRONG.  We learned WRONG pretty quickly and many people never even locked the door to their home and left the keys in their car, if it actually had a key!  We had what was called RESPECT for other people and their property.  It was something we were EXPECTED to do and if we chose NOT to be respectful, we found out quickly what would happen!  We didn’t interrupt adults who were talking, we stopped talking when the teacher or other adult said to stop talking, and we raised our hand if you wanted to say something AND waited to be recognized by the adult who was most in charge at that time.

We had clear lines between what was permitted and what was NOT permitted.  And while not everyone chose the RIGHT thing, we all knew that we SHOULD choose right things and if we did not, that most likely, we would suffer the consequences.  This was especially true since, in those days, the community was involved in raising the kids in that community.  To this day, I can name dozens of ‘responsible adults’ in our little town who had just as much ‘right’ to correct you if you did choose wrong as your parents.  In fact, your PARENTS told them to ‘straighten you out’ if they saw you doing wrong and to let them know what you did and your parents would ‘straighten you out’ again when they got the chance!  It was NOT abusive as we often hear shouted around today.  It was simply a community with a set of RIGHT and WRONG values or rules and when anyone chose the wrong thing, the community would set it straight. It was pretty good, and it kept the community safe for the most part and helped us to live happy and productive lives.

I remember DR’s grandfather was the “Chief of Police” in our little town.  Actually HE was the “police” in the town.  I don’t think he had any other officers, and really didn’t need them to do his job.  I am pretty sure he didn’t even carry a gun, but if he did have one somewhere, it probably was not loaded.  I doubt he ever fired a shot as “Police Chief”.  I know he did direct traffic if we had a parade or maybe worked the school crossing if the crossing guard was out sick.  But people just obeyed the rules and made his job pretty easy.  Thinking back, it was a pretty good feeling.  Kids like me could ride our bikes all over town and over to our friends house without worrying about being kidnapped, assaulted or hit by a car or having our bike stolen. It was a safe place to grow up and live.

There were probably some shortcomings of the ‘two-column list’.  I know at one time we included jobs on the list and some jobs were only for men or for women.  Jobs like mechanic, plumber, brick mason and carpenter were ‘reserved for men’ and other jobs like nurse, waitress, telephone operator and school teacher were reserved for women.  We learned later men and women can be successful at most any job they like or want to do and we stopped drawing that line so much.  It wasn’t anyone tried to deny someone a chance, I think it was more about women were considered better cooks than men and men might have been consider better at getting dirty and greasy as a mechanic.  We certainly know today that most anyone can do most anything and that is good.  But the idea of RIGHT and WRONG behavior is different and needs to be in place just like it was then.

It is still WRONG to damage, steal or destroy someone else’s property.  It is still WRONG to be disrespectful of adults and parents if you are a kid (or an anyone!).  It is still WRONG to hurt, threaten or kill someone else regardless of gender, age, opinion or whatever.  It is still WRONG to cheat, lie, and make promises you never intend to keep.  Some things are STILL WRONG. At least I believe it is still wrong.  Seems we have lost sight of that dividing line.  Sometimes, people today believe it is their constitutional ‘right’ to express their opinion (freedom of speech we call it) no matter who or what gets hurt, damaged or destroyed in the process.  Somehow THAT still seems to be WRONG to me.  It is wonderful to live in a FREE country where we have the right to say what we believe, attend the church of our choice, and work at any occupation for which we are trained and capable.

It seems like, to me, it is STILL WRONG for one person’s ‘right’ to do something they want to do overshadow the next person’s right to be free from having something done that infringes on their right to be free from that thing.  Well that was complicated but basically, if I believe it is MY right to do something STOPS at the next person’s right NOT to have that done.  It should be clear.  We dealt some with that in regard to tobacco smoke in public places.  Smokers did not like to be told they could not exercise their right to smoke a cigarette, etc. in restaurants.  However, it became clear that non-smokers had the right to clean air, especially in public places.  All this meant was the BOTH sides had the right to have or do what they wanted.  But since the two things were incompatible (smoking vs clean air) a rule had to be established so that both parties could have what they wanted.  So non-smokers got clean air in most public places and smokers continued to be able to smoke in some places.

Well, enough about smoking but you know how it goes and that is still a difficult subject.  It is about having to ‘draw a line’ sometimes and may limit someone’s ability to do something they want to do in some places.  SPEED LIMITS are an example.  A driver may think they should be able to drive their car at any speed they would like but laws have established in certain situations, a ‘limit’ will be placed on speed of traffic for the safety of others in the area who have a right to be safe.  We do have race tracks where SPEED is expected so those who want speed can go there and other areas will be regulated at a ‘safe’ level of speed.  Everyone gets to have what they want, just in the RIGHT places.

It seems we have lost the line of distinction between RIGHT and WRONG.  For some individuals today appear to believe ‘freedom’ means they have the ‘right’ to destroy the property of others, to threaten or verbally abuse others, and to behave in ways they want no matter who is inconvenienced, all in the name of ‘my right’.  Well, to me, it seems RIGHT and WRONG are still out there somewhere.  It seems we need to re-look at the line Mr. Perry, our Principal, drew for us pretty clearly.  And it seems we need to DO and TEACH what is “right” and what is “wrong” to our children and grandchildren.

That’s what used to happen in small towns where the community raised the children.  We had a set of rules, values and ethics to guide our behavior and we respected the rights and privacy of others.  We knew that OUR right to do something we wanted to do STOPPED when it began to infringe on someone else’s right to have peace, quiet and safety.   Maybe we need to have a new look at how our parent’s expected us to behave under what I remember as the “Golden Rule”: To treat others as you would like to be treated or ‘to do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  It is a pretty good concept but has faded somewhat in recent years.

Maybe I SHOULD include a ‘disclaimer’ with this writing and say: “THIS IS JUST MY OPINION AND NOT NECESSARILY THE OPINION OF OTHERS”.  By the way, I did mention I grew up in the 1950’s right?  Well it is still snowing, I know THAT for sure and I think I am going to get another cup of coffee, sit back in my rocker and watch the snow fall.  Happy SPRING to you.  It’s just around the corner.  I think?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Growing Up, Mental Health, SCHOOL | Tagged | Leave a comment

RIGHT and WRONG: Did I miss something?

It’s March 12, Sunday, and Routh is covered in white, fluffy snow.  Yes, we did have our later winter, early spring snowfall over night and, as usual the countryside and fields around the area have taken on that special beauty that comes with snow.  The trees are works of art and the crocus is still peeking out of the snow, ready to be spring.  We already have some daffodils and they, too, are basking in the light covering of snow.  It even “sounds” like snow outside, you know, that ‘quietness’ that comes with snow.

Last night Donna Ruth and I didn’t ‘smell the snow’ and began to wonder if it  had missed us, but sure enough, getting up this morning, it’s here.  The temperature dropped just enough over night for the mist and light rain to freeze and turn to flakes.  It’s just beautiful.  My Mom would love this morning.  She always loved to watch the snow fall and have her cup of coffee near the dining room window where she had the best view of the snow.

As I was finishing my second cup of coffee in the ‘sun room’, watching the snow, and thinking back to being a kid, I was reminded of many of the ‘times’ we had growing up with snow, making snow angels, and snowmen and having snowball ‘fights’.  Growing up in a small town with family and friends was a really good thing.  I remembered my Dad’s 1932 Plymouth with it’s narrow tires backing out of the driveway, covered in snow, and pulling on to the road going to work (if it was a workday) and heading down the snow covered road.

We didn’t have ‘snow plows’ much in those days, but the roads seemed to be pretty much useable for the folks who had to go somewhere.  The rest just stayed home and enjoyed the beauty.  And made snow cream with snow and milk and vanilla.  None of us died from that I don’t think.  As near as I remember, we also ate some dirt occasionally if we dropped our peanut butter and jelly sandwich when we ate outside, dusted it off and kept eating.  We also used mercurochrome if we skinned our knee, painted it all up red and covered it with a bandage and kept on playing, probably got dirt in the skinned knee too, but lived.

I remember, there were ‘rules’ that we didn’t dare challenge.  There were “RIGHT” and “WRONG” things, “GOOD and “BAD” things and somethings we called “should do” and “should NOT do”.  It seemed, at least back then, we all had a pretty good idea of what those lists were about and the things that were ‘written’ on those lists.  For us, there were not many ‘shades of gray’ like there are today.  We had what was called “black and white” and no in-between’s .  Just typing that today makes me worry someone will take offense, but none is intended at all.  As kids growing up in the 1950’s we just had RULES and everyone had pretty much the same set.  We had what you might also call VALUES and there were some things everyone was just plain EXPECTED TO DO or BE!  There were no questions, it was either black or white and we knew that we didn’t cross the line and do ‘bad’ things or ‘wrong’ things or we would pay the consequences. No gray areas.

It was like there was a TWO-COLUMN list and on one side was the “SHOULD DO” things and the other side was the “SHOULD NOT DO” things.  There was a clear line down the middle and we didn’t dare cross that without considerable fear and knowledge that we were tempting fate; a fate that some of us avoided because we saw some  of our friends step over the line!

I remember going to school and knowing we had a PRINCIPAL and knowing where his OFFICE was located as well.  To be honest, he was a really good man, Mr. Perry.  But if you were a student in his school who stepped over the ‘line’, you paid a visit to Mr. Perry and he would make sure you were clear on what the rules were and that NEXT TIME you would know what would happen if you chose to disobey the rules.  I did my best to avoid the ‘office’ and steered clear of any behavior that might cause me to wind up there.

But, honestly, that was not such a terrible thing for kids to learn – RULES.  SHOULDS and SHOULD NOTS.  RIGHT and WRONG.  I remember that we never intruded on other people’s property or tried to take things that belonged to others.  That was WRONG.  We learned WRONG pretty quickly and many people never even locked the door to their home and left the keys in their car, if it actually had a key!  We had what was called RESPECT for other people and their property.  It was something we were EXPECTED to do and if we chose NOT to be respectful, we found out quickly what would happen!  We didn’t interrupt adults who were talking, we stopped talking when the teacher or other adult said to stop talking, and we raised our hand if you wanted to say something AND waited to be recognized by the adult who was most in charge at that time.

We had clear lines between what was permitted and what was NOT permitted.  And while not everyone chose the RIGHT thing, we all knew that we SHOULD choose right things and if we did not, that most likely, we would suffer the consequences.  This was especially true since, in those days, the community was involved in raising the kids in that community.  To this day, I can name dozens of ‘responsible adults’ in our little town who had just as much ‘right’ to correct you if you did choose wrong as your parents.  In fact, your PARENTS told them to ‘straighten you out’ if they saw you doing wrong and to let them know what you did and your parents would ‘straighten you out’ again when they got the chance!  It was NOT abusive as we often hear shouted around today.  It was simply a community with a set of RIGHT and WRONG values or rules and when anyone chose the wrong thing, the community would set it straight. It was pretty good, and it kept the community safe for the most part and helped us to live happy and productive lives.

I remember DR’s grandfather was the “Chief of Police” in our little town.  Actually HE was the “police” in the town.  I don’t think he had any other officers, and really didn’t need them to do his job.  I am pretty sure he didn’t even carry a gun, but if he did have one somewhere, it probably was not loaded.  I doubt he ever fired a shot as “Police Chief”.  I know he did direct traffic if we had a parade or maybe worked the school crossing if the crossing guard was out sick.  But people just obeyed the rules and made his job pretty easy.  Thinking back, it was a pretty good feeling.  Kids like me could ride our bikes all over town and over to our friends house without worrying about being kidnapped, assaulted or hit by a car or having our bike stolen. It was a safe place to grow up and live.

There were probably some shortcomings of the ‘two-column list’.  I know at one time we included jobs on the list and some jobs were only for men or for women.  Jobs like mechanic, plumber, brick mason and carpenter were ‘reserved for men’ and other jobs like nurse, waitress, telephone operator and school teacher were reserved for women.  We learned later men and women can be successful at most any job they like or want to do and we stopped drawing that line so much.  It wasn’t anyone tried to deny someone a chance, I think it was more about women were considered better cooks than men and men might have been consider better at getting dirty and greasy as a mechanic.  We certainly know today that most anyone can do most anything and that is good.  But the idea of RIGHT and WRONG behavior is different and needs to be in place just like it was then.

It is still WRONG to damage, steal or destroy someone else’s property.  It is still WRONG to be disrespectful of adults and parents if you are a kid (or an anyone!).  It is still WRONG to hurt, threaten or kill someone else regardless of gender, age, opinion or whatever.  It is still WRONG to cheat, lie, and make promises you never intend to keep.  Some things are STILL WRONG. At least I believe it is still wrong.  Seems we have lost sight of that dividing line.  Sometimes, people today believe it is their constitutional ‘right’ to express their opinion (freedom of speech we call it) no matter who or what gets hurt, damaged or destroyed in the process.  Somehow THAT still seems to be WRONG to me.  It is wonderful to live in a FREE country where we have the right to say what we believe, attend the church of our choice, and work at any occupation for which we are trained and capable.

It seems like, to me, it is STILL WRONG for one person’s ‘right’ to do something they want to do overshadow the next person’s right to be free from having something done that infringes on their right to be free from that thing.  Well that was complicated but basically, if I believe it is MY right to do something STOPS at the next person’s right NOT to have that done.  It should be clear.  We dealt some with that in regard to tobacco smoke in public places.  Smokers did not like to be told they could not exercise their right to smoke a cigarette, etc. in restaurants.  However, it became clear that non-smokers had the right to clean air, especially in public places.  All this meant was the BOTH sides had the right to have or do what they wanted.  But since the two things were incompatible (smoking vs clean air) a rule had to be established so that both parties could have what they wanted.  So non-smokers got clean air in most public places and smokers continued to be able to smoke in some places.

Well, enough about smoking but you know how it goes and that is still a difficult subject.  It is about having to ‘draw a line’ sometimes and may limit someone’s ability to do something they want to do in some places.  SPEED LIMITS are an example.  A driver may think they should be able to drive their car at any speed they would like but laws have established in certain situations, a ‘limit’ will be placed on speed of traffic for the safety of others in the area who have a right to be safe.  We do have race tracks where SPEED is expected so those who want speed can go there and other areas will be regulated at a ‘safe’ level of speed.  Everyone gets to have what they want, just in the RIGHT places.

It seems we have lost the line of distinction between RIGHT and WRONG.  For some individuals today appear to believe ‘freedom’ means they have the ‘right’ to destroy the property of others, to threaten or verbally abuse others, and to behave in ways they want no matter who is inconvenienced, all in the name of ‘my right’.  Well, to me, it seems RIGHT and WRONG are still out there somewhere.  It seems we need to re-look at the line Mr. Perry, our Principal, drew for us pretty clearly.  And it seems we need to DO and TEACH what is “right” and what is “wrong” to our children and grandchildren.

That’s what used to happen in small towns where the community raised the children.  We had a set of rules, values and ethics to guide our behavior and we respected the rights and privacy of others.  We knew that OUR right to do something we wanted to do STOPPED when it began to infringe on someone else’s right to have peace, quiet and safety.   Maybe we need to have a new look at how our parent’s expected us to behave under what I remember as the “Golden Rule”: To treat others as you would like to be treated or ‘to do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.  It is a pretty good concept but has faded somewhat in recent years.

Maybe I SHOULD include a ‘disclaimer’ with this writing and say: “THIS IS JUST MY OPINION AND NOT NECESSARILY THE OPINION OF OTHERS”.  By the way, I did mention I grew up in the 1950’s right?  Well it is still snowing, I know THAT for sure and I think I am going to get another cup of coffer, sit back in my rocker and watch the snow fall.  Happy SPRING to you.  It’s just around the corner.  I think?

 

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Growing Up, Mental Health, SCHOOL | Tagged | Leave a comment

FRESH GREENS for the NEW YEAR

It was nice to be able to go out and pick some fresh mustard and kale from the garden for New Year’s day lunch.  Along with some black eyed peas and some left over ham, we had a great lunch and enjoyed having some to share with the neighbors.

DR’s garden has been quite the thing the last few years and we have really enjoyed the fresh veggies and fruits to eat.  This year we had enough muscadine grapes from the vines to make a bunch of jam and preserves and we have been eating on that already.

We had a good run of peaches too and some good cabbages that has already turned into kraut!! Fresh kraut, is that a joy!!! WOW.  We share some of that with the neighbor in trade for fresh eggs from the chickens (the “girls” she calls them!) and I have been enjoying a couple eggs every morning with some bacon, ham or sausage (fresh from the Farmer’s market).  Spoiled, I guess!!!!

Had some homemade biscuits on New Years morning for some ham and jam.  Man that was good.  It has just been cold enough the keep the greens doing well, and we got some broccoli too and some turnips.

Retirement is looking better and better and I am thinking that a few more months will probably have to be it for me.  I love my work, but I have so many other fun things to do, I need the time to stay on that too!!!

Have a great New Year.

“Doc” Elwood

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NEW YEAR’S 2017

Well, it’s 2017!  Wow, seems just a little while back I was writing about 2011…the editor just reminded me this was my SIXTH anniversary writing?!!! Could have fooled me.  But it is 2017 and we are off to a new year.  It has been a good year, 2016.  DR in her second year of retirement has enjoyed gardening and canning and baking.  She loves that stuff!! And I love to eat the goodies.

We had a great Christmas this year too (2016) just a few days ago and had DR’s brother and his family over for dinner, but not until New Years eve!  That worked out good though with everyone’s schedule and we had time to sit and visit.  Their kids are really growing up and have girl friends to bring along.  Nice kids.  Good to see some good kids these days!  TJ, the oldest, has taken quite an interest in woodworking and made gifts for everyone.  He’s getting pretty go at the work too.  I enjoyed talking with him and sharing some ideas about wood, etc.  That’s the fun part of being an “older” member of the family.  DR and I are almost like grandparents to them boys.  Neil, the youngest, is into cooking with his girlfriend and they had to head back toward home earlier than the rest to cook for a party.

Anyway, we had a good time.  Family time is good time.

Jitterbug loved all the company and bedded down pretty early, worn out from all the lap sitting and checking out the folks.  His eyesight is just about gone but he doesn’t seem to be too troubled by it and just smells his way around and trusts his ability to remember how to get around in the house.  Sometimes runs into a chair we have moved, etc. but he does really well.  He got a new, warm bed for Christmas and has really enjoyed cuddling up in that on cold nights.

The weather folks are saying we might be getting some snow and ice this coming weekend.  Mostly been wet weather for the month but that is good as we needed the water.  Would love to see some snow for the winter and hope maybe they are right!

I just finished up my “book” I have been trying to write for years and uploaded the last of the copy to the publisher for review TODAY! That was a load off!  Now I can mark that off my list and clean up my desk and writing area from all the books, paper and notes from that process.  It has been a little easier to do since the counseling practice is slowing down, or I guess you would say, I am SLOWING it down.  I hope I can continue to do that for about a year and then pass it on to some of my new associates.  They are younger and can handle the load.  I would like more time to write and work on the trucks and cars and play music!

DR is cooking up some bean soup for dinner and it is smelling good.  I am ready for some of that with a big piece of corn bread, some onion and a cold glass of tea.  Grant is looking forward to that too.  Thomas was here for the weekend but went back to work today so he had to head back home.  He was off on Monday though and will have a short week.

All the folks are well and happy and that’s what I always want for Christmas.  It is nice to be home and well.  We are blessed.

You have a great New Year!!! Happy 2017

“Doc” Elwood  1-3-2017

 

 

Posted in Christmas, Marriage, Relationships, Retirement, Writing | Leave a comment

ME-Linear Generation

On a more serious subject, I have been becoming more and more concerned about the younger kids I have been seeing for counseling and therapy.  I realize that I am ‘older’ and was raised during the “baby boomer” years.  I know too, that each generation has talked about the ‘decline’ of the children of the next generation doing crazy or unusual things.  You know, the ‘music’ that seems strange to their parents or the ‘dress code’ that never matches what the parents think it should be and the ‘entertainment’ they want like those video games, that seems so different.

But I’m not thinking this current generation is quite like any of the others past.  It isn’t about clothes, music, games, foods, or hair styles.  What it seems to be about is a ‘disconnect’ with the real world.  Maybe that’s not clear.  Here’s how a young 15 year-old put it the other day: “My generation doesn’t credit anyone for being where we ARE today.  We just got here ‘on our own’ and we don’t credit any parents, teachers or other adults for that happening.  We are our own HEROES and we got here on our own.  AND we want what we want when we want it and we don’t think much about what others want — we just go for what we want.”  In addition, my young client added, “We live in a fantasy friendship world where we think we have lots of ‘friends’ but in reality, they are just fake names on our cell phone who we text or tweet constantly throughout the day.  We rarely if ever really meet up with them to actually talk or do something together, we only text about it. AND we have very little idea what will happen to us as we get older….we don’t even see us getting older, just staying the same…well maybe someday getting older but that is far, far away.  So, we just don’t waste time thinking about what will happen next year or in five years, just today.”

My young client talked about life being centered around “ME” and that “ME” was the center of the universe.  The things that “ME” wants, “ME” simply goes after and doesn’t worry about what it takes or who it effects. It was certainly a day of food for thought in my world.  And as I thought more about what was said, it seemed more clear to me that some of the other youth with whom I come in contact, express similar thoughts. I recently posed a question to a 19 (soon to be 20) year old client about regarding what they would be doing in 20 years when they reach FORTY years of age.  The answer I got was somewhat surprising:  “That’s TERRIFYING!”  Thinking that was too far distant in the future for this young person, I revised my question to “how about 10 years when you are THIRTY?”  Again, “THAT’s TERRIFYING TOO!!

In other conversations with this younger population, it is becoming more clear to me that something is missing, some connection, that previous generations seemed to possess.  It isn’t about clothes, music or food, but it is about ‘relationships’.  I certainly don’t have this figured out at this point but it seems to be that past generations, while they did have differing relationships with their elders and even with their peers, they DID HAVE RELATIONSHIPS with others. Granted they may not have liked the relationship or felt confined by it but they still had it.  It seems that ‘relationship’ is becoming more and more faded or watered-down and maybe is even non-existent.  Whether past generations liked the connection they had with parents or other adults and even their peers, they DID HAVE IT and it did impact their lives.  They learned from it, how to deal with different opinions, and how to develop lasting and profitable relationships along the way.  Previous generations knew the names of adults around them and modeled some of their behavior after one’s they admired.  Even in cases where the ‘youth’ followed after a music star or sports hero that parents might not have approved, they did at least, follow something.  There appears today to be an “I’m on my own, I got here by myself and I will take myself on wherever and whenever I choose to go without anyone’s help” concept developing.

The problem that seems to go along with this concept, however, is that major life changes are taking place and the adults and parents of this time appear to accept that is just they way it works and eventually all will work out.  Well, from where I sit, it doesn’t seem to be working out.   I continually find young adults in their late 20s  and 30s who are “lost” and have no idea where they are going and what they are going to do when (or if) they get there.  I see this developing even more so in the younger teenage group born since the late 1990s and into 2000s . Their information source is most likely the keyboard on their smartphone and is not connected to a real person with whom they can actually have a conversation.  In addition, they rarely have real conversations with their own peers, merely texting someone (who them may only know as ‘buttercream309’) and doing that on a 24 hour per day, 7 day a week clip.   Their digital communication device never leaves their hand.  Let me point out that this does not include EVERY person born into 21st century but it is a growing number and is becoming more than less.

An interesting perspective of the parents of the 21st Century kids I encountered with a mother recently who scheduled her 14 year-old for counseling and when I asked about the concerns she had for her teenager, Mom replied, “Oh, I’ll just let (him/her) tell you”.  After seeing the youth, I think I have some idea of the problem being faced, but none of it from the mother’s perspective or concerns.  That seems unusual to me.  As a parent, I think I would want my concerns to be known by the doctor, counselor or other helping person.  Maybe that should be a question?

Don’t get me wrong here, I love technology and often use the internet to look up information, send and edit pictures, and communicate with family and friends.  It’s a great tool.  I guess the concern recently is that in this century (since we got internet and cell phones about the turn of this century) our direct, person-to-person relationships have become more distant, less frequent, and more digital than real.

I do know for sure that the greatest problem in counseling with couples today (married or not) is SOCIAL MEDIA.  Married couples can’t have a meal without texting or emailing others.  I look around restaurants and see people sharing lunch time together but are all texting or otherwise using their cell phones during the meal.  They seem to rarely talk with others.  And the secrecy of the communication with all it’s passwords and fake names is devastating to a marriage or relationship.

Where will this lead?  I certainly don’t know.  But it does pose a MAJOR QUESTION:  Will we as humans eventually be unable to have, not know how to have direct relationships, face-t0-face with others without using digital and social media as our only resource?  What if, one day, we want to do something that requires some personal assistance and we really don’t know anyone personally enough to ask for help?  Probably that won’t happen.

I hope you will give it some thought.  If you have some ideas, I think there is room here to comment.  I would be interested in your thoughts.  Or maybe I’m just a nutty old baby boomer who believes it is a nice idea to have a meaningful lunch talking with friends or dinner with a family sharing memories or accomplishments from their day. And not having to text, tweet, post or answer email during the time.  Could be that it’s just me.  But what if it is NOT?!?

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Childhood, Friendships, Growing Up, Marriage, Mental Health, Parenting, Relationships, Retirement | Leave a comment

Donna Ruth’s Retirement: 2 Years Later

It’s a little hard to believe that two years have passed since DR decided to retire (well semi-retire) and begin working only 8-10 hours a week. Sometimes she works less than that but usually gets about 8 hours in most weeks.  It has been a good transition for her over the two years and she seems to have just enough contact with the “real” job to help her realize that enough and that she really enjoys the days of freedom to do things she really likes:  gardening, canning and freezing, mowing grass and such.

She has had more time to work with the Master Gardener’s group and has been president for the past 18 months.  She’s a great organizer and can always seem to get the job done no matter what it is or what it takes.  Comes out great every time.  Everyone seems to be amazed that it works so well and it seems so easy for her, but I’m used to that since it is what she does well and always has. I can’t imagine her not having a project fail to work out successfully.

Most recently, it was ‘wreath making time’ since the Christmas season is upon us and last Monday she headed off to meet up with the bunch to make holiday wreaths.  On the weekend before, all the blue cedars around the house got a trimming and she had a heaping truck-load of great smelling greenery to take to the meeting.  She wasn’t sure it would be enough, but at the end of the day, she brought back about half the load.  That worked out though and she had some extra to finish decorating around the house and then spreading the rest under some of the evergreens we have to use as mulch.

My ‘retirement’ has gone a little slower but I still have some time off and get to do some of my project list as well.  DR has a couple things on my list as well and I got one finished up in time for the front yard decorating efforts.  She spotted a set of wooden “gift boxes” in a catalogue that could be used in the yard to light up at night and make an outdoor tree look like Christmas.  So, it was time to cut up some old wood pallets (where I used to work we called them ‘skids’) I had been saving and make them into 2, 3 and 4 foot “gift boxes”.  After a little green, red and white paint, they looked pretty much like the picture in the catalogue and it was fun begin able to make them.  DR added some copper flashing ‘bows’ and ‘ribbon’ to the top and sides and with a couple flood lights, our big Blue Atlas up front looked just like it was ready for Christmas too.

It was nice to have the time to do that and I am sure that’s the way DR feels when she can start the day to can or bake or make wreaths and not have to be tied to someone else’s work schedule.  I really recommend retirement and also that people should do that as soon as they can to take advantage of their ability to enjoy the time.  Over the years, I have counseled with a good many potential retirees who are considering WHEN to pull the plug.  Sometimes they think they can work a couple more years and have a better income from their retirement.  Truth is, when we do the math and consider the time they have to enjoy, decreased expenses related to going to work and the fun they have in the meantime, taking off a couple years early is a GREAT DEAL!  Sure the total amount on the monthly check is a few dollars less, but when you start getting the check TWO years earlier, it takes 4-5 years sometimes to make up the difference not counting all the savings in gas, work clothes and lunches.  AND you have to add the ability to sleep in, do what you want and enjoy some time while you are physically able.

Retirement is a good thing I think.  As early as you possibly can manage to do it too, I think.  Getting by on less money (if it actually works that way which doesn’t always happen) is possible and the TIME is priceless. DR has been a working example of that and I am so happy she was able to work out a plan to have the past two years more under her control.  Mine has worked that way too for the most part and we have had some good times eating breakfast without a rush, having that second (or third) cup of coffee on the porch, and taking a ‘break’ during the day when you felt like you needed a break!  Not a bad way to make working all those years work for you a little.

I know it has been good for me and I am pretty sure DR has loved the reduced commitment and more freedom as well.  Well, I guess it’s about time to think about what I might want to do today.  But maybe DR and I will have that second cup of coffee and warm our feet by the fire a little more.  It has turned pretty cold now here and porch-sitting is a little out of the question at this point.  But that fireplace sure feels good and the coffee’s great and so is the ‘company’.  Think I’ll just sit and work on my ‘list’ for today, or tomorrow or sometime.

Y’all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  It won’t be long as Grant and Thomas keep reminding us.  I think that’s a hint that it might soon be time for some gifts.  But the REAL GIFT is TIME with the folks I love and sharing memories we’ve already made.  Attitude of Gratitude.  Important to remember at this time of year. We’re Blessed.

 

 

Posted in Bucket List, Christmas, Garden, Marriage, Mental Health, Relationships, Retirement | Leave a comment