Saturday, December 31, 2005


Dorothy and I will be staying home. I'm on call for the fire dept. In case of an accident on the highways near us, some of us are standing by to be first responders and using our emergency equipment to provide warning lights, communication, and first aid until the professionals arrive. I you go out, be careful. Stay out of the way of the crazies. Posted by Picasa

quote of the day

"If the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our present thoughts are mere accidents - the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the thoughts of the materialists and astronomers as well as for anyone else's. But if their thoughts - i.e., of Materialism and Astronomy - are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give me a correct account of all the other accidents. It's like expecting that the accidental shape taken by the splash when you upset a milk-jug should give you a correct account of how the jug was made and why it was upset."
--C.S. Lewis

Friday, December 30, 2005

quote of the day

One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our Founding Fathers used in the struggle for independence.
Charles Austin Beard

Thursday, December 29, 2005

an accomplishment

Today I managed to do something that I haven't done in many years (if ever). I took down the exterior Christmas lights. In the past I would keep them up all year because by the time Christmas was over it was too cold, and after delivering mail in the winter weather all day I sure wasn't going to go back outside and take down lights. So years would go by and the colored lights would fade to clear and I would buy new ones. Then I got the ingenious idea to simply buy clear ones and keep them up all year. Well, this time I put up colored lights and today, being retired, I had the time, and we're having unseasonally warm weather, so down they came. Dorothy couldn't believe it. There's no telling what I'm going to accomplish in retirement. The sky is the limit.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

attack of the ragmuffins

This afternoon I got into a fight with Hunter (3), and Marley (6). They came at me one at a time pummeling and pounding on me. I managed to repel them with a few of my own well placed pummels, until Marley let me have it with a karate kick. (She had warned me earlier that she knew karate but I didn't pay attention) The kick would have had no effect on me had I been wearing an athletic cup, but since I wasn't I doubled over in pain. I grabbed Marley and hugged her because I didn't want her to think she had permanently injured her grandpa (although she probably did).

Have you heard that saying, "old age is not for sissies"? Believe it. I urge all you younger readers to start now: jog, lift weights, take up the martial arts, just to be in shape to play with your grand children. We were playing. Lord help me if those two ever turn on me.

fire call

I got called out on a fire this evening. I grabbed my radio and went to my pick up; by the time I opened the door Mike, my neighbor and fellow firefighter, drove up. I grabbed my equipment and jumped in with him and off to the fire station we went. At the station we mounted up in our big truck and off we went, red lights and siren. This is the first call where I rode in the fire truck. It's pretty cool rolling down the highway and all the other cars pulling over to give us the right of way. We went a couple miles down highway 62 and then 2 miles up Crazy Hollow Rd, where a shed was on fire. The Westville department beat us there with 3 trucks, so we eased on up to the fire and went to work. Mike manned the hose, while I fed it to him, kept it kink free and made sure it didn't catch on anything. It didn't take long to knock the fire down. During the fire it seems you have all the energy you need, but as soon as it's over and the adrenalin backs off, you realize how tired and thirsty you are. We were fortunate that we're not having a normal winter. Normally it would be below freezing and a lot of the water would have frozen on the ground making it very slippery. Instead we had a high today of 70 degrees and it got hot under that heavy coat. After the fire we returned the truck to the station and refilled it with water. Just another day in the life of a firefighter.

Monday, December 26, 2005

paintings


Here are two paintings by our daughter Rachel. We recieved as Christmas gifts.

what i'm reading now


I received this book as a Christmas gift from Kelly. Jimmy Carter talks about separation of church and state and the danger of having the lines between politics and rigid religious fundamentalism blurred. Every American should read this book.

after christmas

The unlit tree stand alone, no gifts beneath it; we continue to find scraps of wrapping paper here and there and odd little pieces of games and toys. Yesterday, after a breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, biscuits, and gravy (white and chocolate), Kelly and her family left for Little Rock to spend some time with Burks parents, Carl and Carol Keys. For the rest of us it was a lazy Christmas day with a lunch consisting of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, crescent rolls, green beans. I ate too much which is normal for me on the holidays.

After Rachel and the girls left, Dorothy and I were alone in a hollow, post holiday house. Such a contrast from the busy, noisy, brightly lit home of the weekend to a quiet place.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Saturday, December 24, 2005

christmas pajamas

All the girls (and hunter) pose in their new jammies. Everyone's staying over Christmas Eve. Tara, Dorothy, Hunter in his Batman pajamas, Kelly, Marley (front), Sami, Megan, Rachel.

Christmas Eve


Last night Dorothy made divinity and I made fudge. I worked on the girls home made presents and I still have some to do today. Tonight all the kids will be here and they're all staying the night! We'll make our selves sick on pizza, taquitos, chips and dip, cookies, and candy. We'll probably watch the movie "A Christmas Story", the one where the little boy wants Santa to bring him a Daisy Red Ryder bb gun. We'll open some presents tonight and then the little ones will open what Santa brings in the morning. Tomorrow were having a big breakfast of biscuits, eggs, bacon, chocolate gravy, and even some cinnamon rolls. As you can see, food plays a big part in our holiday festivities. After New Years it back to the diet and walking.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

i'll be home for christmas

I'm looking forward to Christmas, aren't you? This will be the best Christmas for me in a long time because I won't be out in the cold all day every day, and most importantly, I won't be working late Christmas Eve delivering mail. So, now I can enjoy the grand kids without fatigue. I have time to finish the gifts for them that I'm making from wood. I can visit with my daughters and laugh without having the thought of going back to work lurking in the back of my mind. Now, if I can just resist the temptation to stuff myself with all those Christmas goodies, I'll do fine.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

christmas cookies

These Christmas tree sugar cookies are just a fraction of the cookis Dorothy is making between now and Christmas eve.

quote of the day

Sometimes it's hard to avoid the happiness of others.
-- David Assael, Northern Exposure, Our Tribe, 1992

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

notes

On the news tonight I watched drivers along I-40, near Oklahoma City, slide one after the other off the highway and down an embankment. Sometimes, you can't tell if the road surface is icy until you lose control of your vehicle. But, the interesting thing about the scene was that the traffic on the freeway never slowed down. They could see their fellow commuters sliding away into the dark, but it never seemed to occur to them that they could suffer a similar fate. We humans are the most intelligent creatures on the planet, so why do we put our brains in the glove box when we get behind the wheel?

My shirts seem to be fitting a little tight lately. I would like to think that they were shrinking, but I'm afraid the truth is that I'm eating too much and exercising too little. I can blame the lack of exercise on my sprained ankle, but we haven't even had Christmas dinner or all the goodies of Christmas eve and I'm already fat(ter). I guess I know what my New Years resolution is going to be. Yes, that's right. I'm not going to eat hot dogs any longer. Why? The one's I'm eating now are long enough.

Monday, December 19, 2005

happiness

I've read that there are many people who are unhappy, even depressed during the Christmas season. There is an increase in the rate of suicide during this time of year. It makes me wonder what it takes to make a person happy. I know that money, success, and material things do not provide happiness. Not that I know that personally; I've never had much of any of those things, but maybe that's why I am happy. I've never had a strong desire to acquire. And I've not always been happy. I had to grow up first, and that took a long time. Although things don't bring happiness, people do. Having a close, loving family makes me quite content. And being retired adds to the quality of my life.

In the first half of my life there were two obstacles to happiness. The first was change. Nothing ever stayed the way I wanted it. The kids had a habit of growing up. Things changed on the job and I would have to adjust. I don't like adjusting. People died or went away. The second was that nothing was just the way I thought it should be. If people would only act according to my expectations then everything would be fine. If circumstances unfolded in line with my desires, then I could be happy. But that never happened. In fact, I don't think that has happened to anyone in the history of the world.

If I've learned anything from life it's this: People don't change. It's possible for them to, but highly unlikely, and certainly not because of any desires or efforts on your part. Circumstances are not going to change just because you want them to. Now, it's possible to change things by responding to opportunities to better your position in life. You can get an education, go for that promotion, buy a house in a better neighborhood. All these things are good, but there's no guarantee that happiness will be the result. No, I think you just have to decide to be happy. Find out what you love to do and do it. Decide who it is you love and be with them. Then go about your daily life and happiness will sneak up on you.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

yet another birthday

Now it's Hunter's turn to have a birthday. I've heard of these orbs that show up in photos. They're supposed to be ghosts or some other supernatural entity that show up only on photographic film. Well here's a digital one. That orb between Marley and Hunter must be my grandma's ghost.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Friday, December 16, 2005

four month retirement report

Well, it's been four months since my last day at work. I'll probably be writing these updates until I've been retired for a year. It'll probably take that long to let the job completely seep from my psyche and body.

I've settled into a nice routine of 9 hours of sleep per night. Last night I resumed my practice of meditation. While working, after I ate breakfast and readied myself for work, I would meditate for about 20 minutes before I left home, but I haven't been able to do that since my last day on the job. But, I'm finding that you have to make time for the necessary things, and work at letting the little, unnecessary, time wasting things go by the wayside.

I'm keeping busy on Christmas projects. There are a few woodcraft projects I need to bear down on this next week and get finished. After the holidays I have plenty of other jobs that have been added to the list, so there's no danger of me becoming bored or idle.

The best thing that has happened over these last four months is the gradual relaxation and realization that I'm finished with one chapter of my life and have begun a new one. I know for many people retirement is looked at as something final, the end; and one just waits on the front porch for the grim reaper. But I see years and years of joyful anticipation and activity stretching out before me. The years are plums for me to pick and savor.

I'm not rich, in fact it's quite the opposite. But, the things I want from life are not purchased with money. In fact, I already possess them and have for a long time. Now, I have the time to enjoy them. Dorothy and I have thought of taking part time jobs to earn a little spending money. You know, a job that would be fun, interesting, with an intelligent, well adjusted boss, a challenge to our abilities and talents. But what is the likelihood of that happening? Pardon me, I've been dabbling in a little science fiction.

lizzie doesn't like me

When I get up in the morning, I like to have a cup of coffee in my recliner while watching the morning news. But, every morning this is what I'm faced with: Lizzie in my easy chair and refusing to budge. Also, I've been battling a sore throat and keep lozenges on my night stand in case I wake up with a dry throat. Lizzie steals them and eats them. She lays at the foot of the bed and chomps on them with neurotic canine glee. She's a twisted dog, I tell you.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

time to make candy

This weekend, while all the kids were here, I made the announcement that I was going to make my famous fudge for Christmas this year. That proclamation netted the following remarks:

"No, grandpa!"
"Not again this year!"
and, "Please don't"

When I was a kid I loved my mom's fudge that she made every Christmas. It was hard and grainy and delicious. When my older sister got married and moved out of the house she started making her own fudge during the holidays. When I sampled her's I was disappointed. It was soft, and creamy. I felt sorry for my sister, being a complete failure at fudge making and all. Didn't she use Mom's recipe? No, she used another one. She like it better. That was when I first suspected that my mother may have been the failure at making fudge.

So, one Christmas, when the girls were little, I called Mom and asked her for her recipe. I'd make my own. I cooked it and cooked in a cast iron skillet just the way I had observed it done when I was a kid. I beat it and beat it and turned it out on wax paper. I went to the drawer for a knife and when I returned to the fudge (30 seconds later) it couldn't be sliced! I had to break it into chunks. It was just the way I liked it.

So, this Christmas eve, I'm making a batch of fudge, hard and grainy, even though I might be the only one eating it.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

marley kate's birthday

A second after this picture was taken, Marley's hair caught on fire, but Mom and Grandma came to the rescue.
Opening presents made everything better.

grandkids

Here are all my grandkids. Samantha, Tara, Marley, Hunter, and according to my daughters Kelly and Rachel my grand dog Lizzie.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

christmas tea


Dorothy, Kelly, and Marley went to the Christmas Tea today. They each took their own elegant tea cups. Marley brought one from her tea set.

Friday, December 09, 2005

quote of the day

"One of the reasons why religions seem irrelevant today is that many of us no longer have the sense that we are surrounded by the unseen."
-- Karen Armstrong, A History of God

future architect

Marley Kate made a gingerbread house in school today. What skill! What craftsmanship! What fun!

the weather man was right


Well, they said it would drop to zero. This thermometer is just outside our kitchen window. This is the coldest Dec. 9, in 89 years. What about global warming?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

brrrrrrrr

The low temperature forecast for tonight is 0 degrees. It's only 8:15pm and the mercury is at 10 degrees and dropping fast. We're in for a cold one. I've already started faucets to drip in both bath rooms and before we go to bed we'll have the kitchen faucets dripping. Can't let those pipes freeze. It's not even winter yet. We have to go to Tahlequah tomorrow so I'll take a container and buy some kerosene. We use that in a small stove in case of a power outage. You can't be without some source of heat when it gets that cold. It's life threatening.

first snow

We were lucky. Just a dusting of snow. In surrounding communities the schools were closed. As I write this it's 32 degrees and the sun is shining. Not too bad.
Looks like we can drive the cars today. The traffic on the highway is going at normal speed. Good.

found lost birthday photos


Dorothy gets help putting the candles on the cake. Lighting the candles.



Marley and Hunter help Samantha blow out the candles while Megan, Tara, and Christie look on. Note Hunters cheeks. Then everyone licks the icing off the candles.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

snow

We're under a winter weather advisory and expecting our first snow of the season. We'll probably get 1-3 inches, which isn't so bad, and it's dry so it will blow off the road and not cause too many travel problems, not that I'll worry about that. But back in 1990 I was driving a Pontiac Fiero (remember them?), and it started snowing as I left work at 4:00 for the 20 mile trip home. It was a wet snow and came down in big clumps, covering the road very quickly. Half-way home I had to stop and scrape the snow off the windshield; it was thick and packed around the wipers rendering them useless. Every half-mile I repeated the process, stopping in the middle of the highway. I couldn't pull over because I wouldn't be able to pull back onto the road, it was so slippery. And, besides, I was the only fool on the road by that time. I crept along at 5 mph trying to keep the car on high center. The engine was in the back over the drive wheels so I had enough traction to keep moving, but the front end was so light it took great effort to keep it pointed forward. I went up one hill at a 45 degree angle, keeping a steady 5mph and hoping I wouldn't break my traction. The snowfall kept increasing and visibility was around 50ft. It was before cell phones so I couldn't call Dorothy and tell her where I was. There is one pay phone between Tahlequah and home but I couldn't risk getting stuck by stopping to make a call. So I kept up my steady but slow progress, over hills and around tight curves, until finally at 7:15, I pulled into the driveway.
I told myself I would never do that again. If the snow was that heavy I would just get a motel room in town. So, a few years later, as I left work the snow was coming down heavy and looked like a repeat of the first storm. So I checked into a motel to spend the night. I woke up in the wee hours and looked out the window. The streets were wet but clear; I could have make it home. From then on, I just faced the storm and ploughed through. But, I've never seen another snow storm as bad as that one.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

crash!*%#@bang!@#!%^boom!#@*&

Today I was on the second rung of a step ladder in our hallway peering into the attic and trying to fix a problem with our vent pipes. Suddenly, the ladder kicked out from under me and down I went, spraining my ankle, my elbow, and cutting and scraping myself in various and sundry places. Dorothy came running; I lay there moaning and groaning while she patched up my little finger and elbow. There was blood spattered everywhere; not much blood, but enough to scare you. I managed to pull myself to my feet (after laying there moaning and groaning for awhile) and hobble down the hallway to my recliner. I don't think my ankle is broken. I've had plenty of sprains during my career as a mail man, so I'm pretty sure that's all the injury there is.
Dorothy brought my lunch and dinner to me in the recliner, but she insists that I go to the bathroom by myself. That might be for the best. And she prods me out of the chair every hour or so to move around and keep it from stiffening up. Even after retirement there are many lessons to learn, like buy a good quality step ladder instead of using an old rickety one. And be careful! I hate to admit I'm getting older, but I do know that bones break easier as the years go by.

Monday, December 05, 2005

out of the mouths of babes

Last night, after Sami's birthday party, Dorothy, Kelly, and Marley Kate were putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Kelly was attempting to coach Marley in the finer points of puzzle craft, but Marley was having none of it. Finally, she sighed and said, "I'll never get used to parents".

first fire call

This morning, I received my first call out for a fire. The radio said there was a fire on Tyner Creek caused by a downed electric wire. The power company was on the scene. I was on my way to the fire station when I got a call to go to another location and pick up a truck there. I had just got into the truck when a call came over the radio cancelling the run. The fire was out. So I drove my own truck up to the fire just to get the experience of finding the location. We responded with two trucks and three volunteer firemen. I guess it was a good drill for my first time. I didn't even get to wear my fire hat.

quote of the day

A great secret of success is to go through life as a man who never gets used up.
-- Albert Schweitzer

Sunday, December 04, 2005

happy birthday samantha



Samantha will be 17 years old this Wednesday. We celebrated the special day today with a dinner of eggrolls. Instead of a cake, Sami requested a giant chocolate chip cookie, so her grandma complied. Marley and Hunter help her blow out the candles while Megan, Tara, and Christie look on.

whenever anyone in the family has a birthday it is their privilege to pick what they want for their birthday dinner and Dorothy makes it for them. Here is a pile of eggrolls right out of the deep fryer. We also had rice and some kind of Chinese noodles.

grandpa's fire suit



When the grandkids learned that I had joined the volunteer fire dept. they were excited and wanted to see my fire suit. Here they are trying it on. Sami is wearing the hat and jacket, Tara the pants (note the obligatory red suspenders), and Marley is wearing the gloves. Then Hunter tries on the hat.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

christmas project


This is my latest woodworking project. I'd tell you what it is, but there's a few people that read this blog regularly who will be getting these for Christmas presents. The day after Christmas I'll post a picture of the finished projects.

santaphobia



Hunter refused to sit in the lap of the Jolly One, and Marley wouldn't get near him. After he left, she sat in his chair.


Note: The original person to don the Santa Garb got sick, so who did they think of to take his place? Me. I have to cut back on my grocery consumption. (No, that's not me in the picture. I didn't accept the challenge.)

Friday, December 02, 2005

firefighter


Last night at the monthly volunteer fire dept. meeting they voted to accept my membership. I was issued a radio, a fire suit, and this cool fire hat you see at the left. I keep the radio on pager mode and when I receive a page I get on the radio and receive instructions as to the location of the fire/accident/incident. Tuesday I will attend the first of many training sessions at the local Vo-tech. I was planning on just goofing off during retirement, but I'm getting busier as the time goes by. I'm a Watchdog at my grand daughter's school, I've started painting landscapes and still lifes again. I'm doing woodworking. Not to mention keeping the yard up. I'm selling on eBay and Amazon. Dorothy and I are planning some trips. The grand kids are planning some they want us to take them on. I hope I can get a nap in once in awhile.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

what i'm reading now


This is the second book of Dr. Emery's that I've read. It offers a program that teaches you to use the positive force in your life to overcome your own resistance to change. It reads like a modern day Tao Te Ching.

winter fun

The first winter after moving to Oklahoma, when the girls were just kids, I bought them a sled. There was no good hill nearby to slide down, and besides, it might be great fun for kids to barrel down the hillside but for the guy (me) who had to pull it back up it wasn't such a great deal. So I tied the sled to the rear bumper of my truck with a length of rope and towed them behind. That solution was less than perfect; the snow was often thin and frozen and what a bone jarring event when they hit a frozen cow turd. I acquired an inner tube from the tire of an 18-wheeler. I pumped it full of air, laid it horizontal, strapped the sled to it, then connected it to the truck with a 30ft length of rope. Now we're talkin'! What a ride! I did figure eights in our 5-acre pasture, and every time I went into a curve the inner tube/sled would be whipped out at great speed almost overtaking the truck. Now when they hit those frozen cow turds, they took flight. What a comic sight it was; an old yellow truck followed by a huge black donut with two kids hanging on for dear life, and Rachel's pinto pony, two cows, and two goats chasing along behind. Those were good times.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

quote of the day

Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these
--Jesus, Luke 12:27

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

winter

Yesterday a massive storm dumped snow across the prairies, but northeast Oklahoma received only flurries. You had to look real hard to see the white specks swept along by the wind. For years I've dreaded the yearly snows. Working as a letter carrier necessitated driving along slippery roads to work and along the mail route during the day. When I was younger I didn't mind the cold so much but in recent years I would be chilled to the bone. Sometimes I would eat lunch in the truck and stay cold because it was just too hard to warm up after spending time in a warm restaurant. But now that's all behind me. I'm looking forward to a substantial snow just so I can watch it through the window from the comfort of my recliner. I might venture outside if the grand kids are down and build a snow man or even a snow fort, knowing that when our cheeks begin to sting and our fingers are numb we can go inside for hot cocoa and watch movies while we thaw. I am so grateful for retirement.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

thanksgiving weekend


My neighbor's horses and mules are over wintering on my property and Marley loves to pet them and feed them apples.

Friday, November 25, 2005

pint size artists



Whenever Marley and Hunter come over and see my easels and paints, they want to try their hand at it. Top: Marley is a budding Georgia O'keefe. Bottom: Hunter, the next Jackson Pollock.