Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Visit from St. Nicholas

A Visit from St. Nicholas

By Clement Clarke Moore
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds;
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave a lustre of midday to objects below,
When what to my wondering eyes did appear,
But a miniature sleigh and eight tiny rein-deer,
With a little old driver so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment he must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name:
"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on, Cupid! on, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"
As leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
So up to the housetop the coursers they flew
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too—
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a pedler just opening his pack.
His eyes—how they twinkled! his dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly
That shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”
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Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Random House Inc., 1983)

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

If - by Rudyard Kipling

***** This really spells it all out - "If" by Rudyard Kipling (1895)

If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
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Monday, October 19, 2015

Another Day, Another Dollar

9am and all's well.

I am lucky. I do not have aches and pains to cope with when I get myself moving in the morning. Just laziness. I must admit though that can also be quite crippling at times.

It doesn't look too bad weatherwise even though there is some rain in the forcast. The whole week looks the same. The temperatures aren't too low to bring concern.

It is hard to believe all the years that have gone by but it was 2006 when we had the October Surprise of inches and feet of wet, sloppy snow.  Tree limbs were down all over the place and power lines were devastated. The weight of the slushy snow was tremendous.

My power was off for a week but the people across the street never lost theirs. Some people lost phone service for a long time too. If you did have a cell phone, where could you charge it?

This is one of my more vivid mental images of the past and many others had it much worse due to the overwhelming extent of the damage.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Dreary Start But There Is Hope

Starting out a little damp this morning. It is supposed to dry out later though.

No thoughts of mowing the lawn or raking leaves for now.

My tree is gone but the neighbors are sharing some fallen leaves with me so I won't feel left out.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Just Touching Base

Kind of a blah day. It is about 60 at 10am.

This is to be expected around this time of year. The whole week looks the same with showers predicted for the weekend again.

Actually, as long as it isn't raining, it is perfect weather for finishing up the yard work and just getting out and walking. There will be some sunshine and the weather will turn into the crisp days that make fall so attractive.

I have always liked the spring and fall seasons. As long as you can avoid colds and whatever ailments come along they are invigorating times. I prefer them to the extremes of summer and winter.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

What Is Left Of The Tree

Just to close the record on the tree in front of my house this is what is left after the stump got ground.

Some day I should get a replacement - I hope.

Oh - the street was repaved and it is a hot day so it probably looks shiny.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Writer's Block

If you google "writer's block" you will find that there are even people who deny its existence.

As a non-expert I do not know about that but I do know for sure there is nothing coming out right now for me. It is very frustrating because everything I do manage seems wrong or silly sounding. Continually restarting is very tiring.

I have heard it is a good idea to just write anything on any subject just to get the juices flowing. Even a poison pen to someone to get your emotions working (just DO NOT send it!). Or try some fun things like writing poems you might remember.

Another possibility is to lower our standards. Perfectionism can be very destructive of goals and deadlines. Relax a little. Work that meets lower standards is at least something accomplished. It is much better than a perfect blank.

From what I understand, most of the great authors have cold spells when nothing works. The problem is to not let yourself get discouraged and give it all up.

I bet the morning will be there to wake us up tomorrow as it always seems to.

Thursday, September 10, 2015


Just in time for the start of school. This is really a fun summer one by the family the Partridge family on tv was modeled after.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Something That Worked

My tv was nothing but snow and wouldn't respond to attempts to change the channel.

I tried the power on-off business on the tv and also on the set top box. I was already getting stressed out over having to deal with telephone tech support.

I have Verizon FIOS service and remembered that there was a capability of checking out the tv from the computer.

In desperation to avoid the dreaded phone call business and all of its press 3, press 1, speak yes or no and whatever I decided to give the computer a try.

Started right up selected tv from the menu and noticed quick things you can do.

Selected no picture and it asked me the basics - is the power on??
Is there any picture or just on certain channels? No - nothing.

It then checked the signal into the house and the set top box and said there were no problems there.

Next it said to check a button marked Input on the remote. Eureka!

All I can think is that it accidentally got pressed while using the remote.

That simple little thing could have cost me well over an hour on the telephone. It was basically just a few minutes on the computer and a little running up and downstairs because the tv is downstairs and the computer is a desktop that is upstairs.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

A Little Bit Of Rain

In a way it is a shame we couldn't ship some of the rain we have been getting to California. We are on track for a wet summer and they are in the desert.

Is it global warming, normal climate change or whatever? Maybe it is just a short term fluke.

The Sahara used to bloom with agriculture and Buffalo was overrun by glaciers. Times change.

What seems to be the case quite often is the proponents of "doing something" have something they are trying to sell. Not always but often.

Maybe it is for the best that the Northwest passage may be opening up. It certainly will make it easier for the Chinese to ship goods to the US East Coast or even Europe.

We just do not really know the benefits or problems of long-term change until it is upon us.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Got Yellow Flags Anyway

They put a whole bunch of flags on my lawn to mark gas pipes. There is also some yellow writing on the stump now.

I wonder if this is it and they will come out and get rid of the stump.

Some places I have seen have different colored flags. I suppose I will just have to wait and see.

Monday, June 8, 2015

ABBA : I Have A Dream (HQ)

Really Ageless Stuff

Recently I have been listening to ABBA. I find them to be vey entertaining. The harmony and rhythm are fantastic as is the visual appeal.

I also have had a strong interest in the SEEKERS. The music is just beautiful to me.

The big fly in the ointment though is both groups are basically '70s groups. The members have since grown up (gotten old).

It is sort of difficult justifying taking an interest in fabulously talented and beautiful people and sitting back in the light of reality and knowing they are old enough to be grand parents or even older.

It is a major distortion caused by the fact videos never age but the people do. Sort of like the time waits for no man saying.

I suppose I will just go on enjoying the old videos. They are really pretty good.

It must always be remembered that quality entertainment is not about reality anyway. It is sort of like a painting by one of the masters - ageless.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Tree Remains

Here are a couple of pictures of the remains of my tree. It shows the markings for the sewer vent on my front lawn as a yellow arrow. The water valve is blue. The tree is marked by a big X.

Maybe someday they will get rid of the stump. At least they haven't forgotten me.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Larry Bill

I just got the word that a coworker died. He was at work yesterday so it must have been last night or early today (5/18 or 5/19/2015). I am assuming is was from cancer or the effects of chemotherapy.

There was a nice obit in the Buffalo News.

I have worked with Larry Bill since about 2001 or 2002 and knew him quite well. He has always been a very hard worker - someone you could count on to be there. He will be missed by many people.

When his father died Larry took over a lawn mowing and snow shoveling business his father had started. He kept that going until pressures from his health forced him to cut down. He lost the vision in one eye and could not drive which limited him in his business activities.

He did graduate from Bryant Stratton and was actually a very intelligent person.

To say Larry was a character would be an understatement. He had a gift of gab - some people would even call him a motor mouth due to his volume of talk. His intelligence made it so he would never bore you with too much repetition. His interests were many and great. He was just fun to talk with.

He also used to talk extensively about his love of dancing. At Buffalo Sabres games he would even go into the aisles and do the Twist. He was so popular he even was given the nickname "The Twister". He always got a kick out of it when someone would see him on the street and call him the Twister.

He was also a great fan of Terry Buchwald (Elvis impersonator) and went to see him whenever he could.

With his loss of driving capability he took to the buses and walking. He got around extensively by foot and went regularly to church walking. He loved being active in the church and volunteered for many activities.

He also loved to go to restaurants and things like barbecues at churches and other places. If there was a big festival anywhere in the Buffalo area Larry would love to go. He was one of the most active people I ever knew. He just loved getting out and about.

It is seldom we are fortunate enough to meet a genuinely unique person. Larry was really one of a kind and he will genuinely be missed. I have great sympathy for his wife. She really got a whirlwind of activity when she got him and I think they were a great match.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Just A Bit Chilly For May

Kind of shocked when I looked at the temperature. Checked out the Weather Service and sure enough they agree with my thermometer.

These are probably "fun" days for the farmers. A frost just when everything is sprouting has to be rough to deal with.

My lilacs have been out for a few days already and the lawn is a jungle already. I mowed it just last week and it probably could use another going over already.

May is always an interesting month weatherwise. There is a desire, on the hot days, to shut off the furnace and open the house up. I really think it was a good suggestion I got in the past to keep the furnace turned on until June though. There is the ever present hazard of mold growing in the damp May weather and then you can be stuck with a major problem.

Let the early birds do what they will. I prefer to be conservative on things like this.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Spring Is Sprung

This is my time of year.

The grass has been cut and the roses are pruned. Might be a little breezy this weekend but that's ok because the sun should be shining.

Got some ants in the kitchen but I cn handle that.

Dear Mother Nature,


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New Pot Time - At Last?

Remember this one? That was 2012.

I finally got another one. I melted most of the plastic around the whistle on the old one and it absolutely did not work any more.

The replacement only cost a little over $12 at Target. I figured the way I treat the pots it would be a waste buying something more expensive.

It looks the same size as the old one and the whistle works which is critical for me.

I am a pretty heavy user because I do not care for coffee after breakfast and a good cup of tea really is satisfying.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cabin Fever

The other night I was feeling cooped up and in spite of the cold wanted to get out.

I checked my trusty bus schedules and found there was a Number 5 Kenmore-Niagara bus due in a few minutes. I got going right away and managed to catch a bus headed toward UB. Great!

It was about 7pm and I was surprised at all the people on the bus. Who would want to be out on a night like this?

We arrived at the South Campus station and my next step was to take the train Downtown so I would not have to spend any time in the cold. Trains run every 15 or 20 minutes around this time of day so the wait was pretty short.

Bus passes are great. I did not have to pay for anything.

Once again I thought about where all these people came from. The weather is really crummy. That is why I was taking a trip with minimal exposure to the elements.

Uneventful ride to the Church Station. Noticed there were people ice skating by the rink at Fountain Plaza. That made sense because that is the type of stuff this weather is for. Too cold for me though.

At Church was my longest walk in the cold. It is a couple of blocks to the Metro Center. I handled it quite well. It was not windy anyway.

Got a hot chocolate and a donut at Hortons in the bus terminal. Kind of nice just sitting there taking a break and watching the world go by.

You do see a lot of sad looking people in a place like this though. It is just a place to keep out of the cold for a while. I guess it has always been like that though and is a great reason to be thankful myself. Someone else always seems to have it worse.

The number 20 Elmwood bus departs every half hour right on the hour and the half so I took my time getting out to the bus. You can see where they are parked and when they start to pull out so there is no need to stand out in the cold long. It is also nice that you are one of the first on the bus and have a choice of seats.

The Elmwood bus really gets jam packed quite often during partsmof its trip so having a good seat really is nice.

The trip through Allentown and the Elmwood Village is an interesting one and actually passes quite quickly. The number of people riding the bus was once again impressive. All-in-all the whole experience was worth the money.

Actually, if I was paying it would only have cost me $2.50 for the whole thing for an all day pass for a senior or $5 for someone who is not 65 or on Medicare. I have a monthly pass so did not have to pay anything.

The Elmwood bus drops me off just a few doors from where I live so I had an almost weather free experience which was nice because the temperature was in the lower teens and a little snowy.

Actually, I felt pretty good about the whole thing.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Lonely Teardrops - Jackie Wilson

Jackie Wilson performing Lonely Teardrops in front of an audience.

I guess I am on a music kick. I really enjoyed this performance.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Boogie Woogie

This makes me tired just watching. Absolutely fantastic dancing.

The tune is called "Dancin' The Boogie" composed and performed by Swiss pianist Silvan Zingg on piano, Nuno Alexandre on bass and Simon Boyer on drums.The dancers are the french couple William and MaƩva.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

My Big Brother

He was tall.

He wore a large shoe size.

He traveled and lived around the world.

He loved sports both to watch and when he could, play.

He really was very smart and had a masters degree and many honors to prove it. He retired as a Major.

He lived on the other side of the country in sunny, warm San Diego but kept in touch by phone.

He really is missed by all.

Williams Marker Photo, Section 3, site 679

Fort Rosecrans & Miramar National Cemeteries
5795 Nobel Drive
San Diego, CA 92122

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Thnking Of The "Good Old Days"

I am sitting in front of my computer at about 10am. It is about 69 or 70 and quiet.

Outside it is pouring rain and about 45.

60 years ago we would have been thinking about shoveling in some more coal. The house would probably have been damp and drafty. Maybe the radio or the black and white tv would have been on. Maybe we would have a gas heater in the fireplace.

Much before that we could have been considering throwing another lump of coal in the stove or a log on the fire. What do you do, sit there by candlelight or stay in bed all day?

Colds and the flu must have been vicious. How do you get any relief with no real meds? Pneumonia would have been the end of the road no matter what your age.

Many things could stand improvement nowdays but to think back fondly about the good old days is silly. It is probably based on the security and comfort our parents provided. That is something we can not replace.