I love to read. The first book I actually remember reading was in the 3rd or 4th grade at Grant School in Mpls. The book was the telling of the story of King Arthur and His Knights Of The Round Table. It left such an impression on me that to this day I still seek out stories of King Arthur. My collection consist of about 58 books. Some old, some new. I have also added movies to the collection as well as postage stamps. While still in grade school I graduated to adult books. Then - the 50's - adult meant books that were written for adults versus books written for kids. My favorite hangout was the Sumner Branch Library on Emerson Ave and Olsen Highway. There were two librarians there who were just fabulous with kids. Unfortunately I do not remember their names. But I can still picture them in my mind. My first adult books were written by the same author: Mika Waltari. "The Egyptian", "The Roman", "The Etruscan", The Adventurer", and "The Wanderer". Whle I still continued to read books written for kids, I continued to read more and more adult books. Mom encouraged that. She loved to read - especially True Crime magazines. It was as a rsult of reading adult books that I fell in love with ancient history. "Gods, Graves and Scholars", by C.W. Ceram hooked me on aracheology and taught me that the old stories were in a lot of cases true. And that was my goal in life - to be an archeologist. Unfortunately, my Mom and Dad did not have the money nor was I ever encouraged by anyone to go to college. At that time I thought college was for the rich and exceptionally smart and I was neither. So college never happened. The Army did, then marriage and then a Daughter. Life goes on. Some dreams are just that - dreams. At the same time I was reading books on archeology and ancient history, I became hooked on Science Fiction. I can still remember the first book I read it. It was in the Central Avenune Branch of the Mpls Library. Just walk in the front door (the front desk was straight ahead), make an immediate right then another. On the wall facing Central Avenue was a rack of Science Fiction. I picked one that told the story of Earth's first contact with aliens. there were actually two books in the series. The first delt with an alien crashing on Earth and the second when Earth was invited to be a member of the Intergalatic United "Nations". The alien's name was Clonar. Anyway from then on I was hooked. Science Fiction and Ancient History - what a combination!. I read about two books a week and always have about 3 books on the library waiting list. I mean what would happen if I was snowed in with nothing to read? Horrors! But I am not the only one in my familty to read. My Sister and older Brother read a lot. As did my Mom. I say "did" because she has macular degeneration. My Daughter is an avid reader and is passing that along to her son. Last year for my birthday, my Daughter and Grandson gave me a t-shirt for birthday. It has a picture of an older man sitting in a chair reading to a yhoung man who is sitting on a stool in front of him. It is title: Real Men Read Books. My autobiography is titled: Bookreader. That sums it up.
Friday, December 28, 2007
It snowed again yesterday. About 3 inches or so. This is the fourth snowfall this month! Now you would think that as I was born and raised in MN that I would look forward to winter. Not so. I dread it. What can you do in the winter unless you have places to skate, sled, ski, or snowmobile? Where I live the weather is normally not cold enough nor has enough snow for that. In fact the most popular skating rink is inside! As I shoveled my driveway and sidewalk this AM I thought: "Will Spring ever arrive? Will Winter ever end?" Normally Winter is pretty much over by early March. In Fact, the first couple of years I lived here, I would prep the lawn including fertilizer. I always used to call my younger brother (who still lives in MN) and brag to him that while he was still buried in snow drifts with another month or so of Winter ahead, I was enjoying Spring. Not lately though. Last year it was still cold when we left to visit our daughter in FL. Also, it seems as if Winters are starting earlier, getting colder and lasting longer. But maybe that is just another part of growing older! Maybe I should petition my congressman for funding so that I can move to a warmer location!
Sunday, December 16, 2007
I'm depressed. When my pictures were not ready at the photo studio the other day, I decided to kill some time at Barnes and Noble - the bookstore. At one times I used to buy all of my books but only paperbacks (the story was just as good in that format as the hardbound variety). Then, about 6 years ago I decided that buying books was pretty dumb. The library here is very good in that it buys just about anything in print, video, audio, and music. The downside is that I may have to wait awhile for a recent book to be available but that is ok. The book will be just as good later as now. I normally check out the best seller list in the Sunday paper and order books from the library that appeal to me. Of course, there are a whole lot of books that never reach the best seller list that are really great. Maybe not up to Oprah's standards but great anyway. Hence a periodic trip to Barnes and Noble or Walden Books. The reason I am depressed is that during my recent visit I saw so many books that appealed to me but realized that no matter how many I read, I could never read them all (I guess if I gave up sleeping I could - maybe). Books are published faster than I can read. Brad Thor, Wilbur Smith, James Twining, Raymond Kourhy, Clive Cussler, Jack Whte, Bernard Cornwell, Stephen Lawhead, John Chrisham, Stephen Coonts, Dale Brown, W.E.B. Griffith, Harry Turtledove, and so on. And, I have not ready by James Paterson or Sandra Brown!. To make matters worse, each author has written not just one good book, but many. What is a person to do? Just read as many as possible and hope I live a long, ling life.
Friday, November 30, 2007
It seems recently that the definition of a hero has changed. At one time is was a person who sacrificed much to help others - regardless of the risk. Jump in the water to save someone from drowning, thor yourself on a grenade to save your friends, rush into a burning building, etc. Well, I guess you get the meaning. To a young boy his Dad is a hero. To a sick person, the doctor who makes him feel human again. I know a hero, actually a person whose life we could emulate and be a better person for it. She is my Sister. When my Dad died ofcancer in 1969, my Sister and her husband opened her home and invited Mom to live with them and their three kids. The move required remodeling the house so that Mom could have a place of her own, not just a bedroom. Vacations were planned with Mom's interests in mind. At first she lived in the basement that us kids finished for her. Then we remodeled the upstairs part of the house so that she had the entire area to herself.. That arrangement worked well for Mom but I am sure it was a disruption for Sister and her family. But she and her family always made Mom feel like she belong - she was family. Eventually when Mom was ready, she moved out on her own - the first time since she was born! But then, about 4 years ago, Mom's health started to fail. Severe back problems and macular degeneration. Mom tried to fight off the inevitible as long as possible but eventually she could no longer live alone and would not burden my Sister. For the past three years she has lived in a retirement home (aka nursing home). Throughout it all my sister has been her b est friend, confident, care provider and advocate for better care. Even though she was still working full time as a nurse, she managed to visit Mom three days a week and do her laundry for her, arrange for hair appointments, shopped for her and made sure th staff treated her with the respect and dignity. Now retired, (this year), Sister continues to be Mom's best friend. If Webster's dictionary were to re=define the word "daughter" it would simply be defined as "Pat". For her love and caring for Mom, Pat will always be my hero.
Monday, November 26, 2007
My Daughter and Grandosn will not be here until Wednesday bvut already the house is a beehive of activity. We removed the youth size bed from the spare bedroom and put up a crib for the Grandson (he is 2 - 1/2). We had actualy bought the crib at a garage sale this past summer for $10. The crib linens and mattress were a bit more than that but what good is a crib without them? Anway the room now (again) looks like a toddler's room. All summer long I have been buying toys at garage sales and stockpiling them: A really big Tonka dump Truck, a bigger Tonka Ccement mixer, a Tonka Car, several remote vehicles (he is too young for those) and several smaller trucks. One or two of them we will give to him for Christmas (we will celebrate early this year as he and his Mom will be leaving on the 14th). Spome of the toys needed to be repainted a bit but that is the fun part. I have hid the trucks in different parts of the house so that he can find when he walks around: Under the dinning room chairs, under tables, betweeen the couch and end tables and some places I haven't thought about - yet. My wife has been busy cleaning for the past week. Mostly dusting. The tree will go up tomorrow but we will not decorate until Daughter and Grandson arrive. He is at the age where decorating is still a fun thing to do. He has already helped his Mommy decorate their tree in Florida so this will be like the frosting on the cake- two trees! Plus he will probably help decorate the tree at his other Grandparents home in Florida. When the two of them visit we don't really make any plans. Daughter likes to connect with old friends and we are just happy to have the both of them here. Maybe go to a few of Daughter's favorite barbecue places, drive around to check out the lights and homes that are decorated and - most important: let him play in the leafs! I purposely did not rake this year (yet) for that reason. Now there is a really big pile against the fence that will be perfect to play in. That is something his Mommy loved to do when we raised her in Minnesota. All in all we hope to have a really good time. Just catching up and watching Grandson grow.
Monday, November 12, 2007
It's amazing how much babies can change your life. For example, I have never been afraid of dying. After all it is something we will all do eventually. That is not to say that I look forward to it, just that I have never feared it. I really believe that when I die, it is over. No heading toward the light, no higher reward, etc. Just nothing. But since April 21, 2005, I have a great fear of dying. That is the day my grandson was born. When my daughter announced at age 39 that she was expecting I was glad for her but it really didn't register how much the birth of her some would really mean to me. and how it would affect my life. He was born with a birth defect that makes him extremely susceptible to infections. Two hours after he was born he was life flighted to Children's Mercy Hospital in Miamai where he stayed for the next two months. His Mother was not allowed on the flight since the birth was a bit difficult (she is fine now). But her and my wife followed two days later. I followed in about 10 days. For the next 60 days, the three of us spent our time in the hospital watching Ki struggle to live. Wathing him everyday and the life support monitors was almost more than I could stand. His Dad visited him one weekend, claiming that he had to work to bring in money. The day we finally drove Ki home from the hospital was a realy happy occassion. The next day, knowing Ki was where he should be, my wife and I left for our home in the Kansas City Area. Several hours after we left, Ki was back in the hospital with an infection. Unfortunately, it was just the first of many visits to the hospital, both in his home town and in Miami. Throughout all of this, Ki was always able to smile - smile with tubes in his hands, and feet, with infections raging trhough his tiny system. Now two and a half years later he still struggles but otherwise is a typical little boy. Every time I hear him say: "Look Grampa, watch me", my heart just bursts with happiness. But back to death. Now I look at the calendar and think: "I'm 66, Ki is 30 months so I"ll be in my 80's when he graduates from high school". If I make it that long. Will I be there when he starts greade school? High School? Graduation? Marriage? Will I even be in good enough health to help him play with his wagons, bikes,, models, etc? Most of that I will most likely miss. And I miss that growing experience with him already. So, yes, I am afraid of dying.
Friday, November 09, 2007
The folloiwng was written by Jason Whitlock, a journalist for the Kansas City Star. It pretty much sums up one of the problems in this country: There used to be a time when people stood uyp for what was right - regardless of the consequences. If standing up for what was right meant losing a job, people lost their jobs. If standing up for what was right meant going to jail, people went to jail. We live in a different time. We live in an area of cowardice, where people only stand for what's right when there are no consequences.