Keep on smiling…

Red Rose

Red Rose

Whether a cup of coffee or to buy a car
the people of Texas are by far
the friendliest that you can ever meet
even when passing in the street
a smile, a nod or a passing “hello”
they always want to let you know
that they noticed you as you passed by
and in return you have to say”Hi”.

It seems their nature is to be friends
and even though you never see them again
that passing smile or nod of the head
lightens up the day until in the end
you find yourself doing the same
to people you pass along the way.

A smile can be a contagious thing
and costs nothing to give and no meaning meant
other than to greet in a personal way
people  like you with good intent
to make this and every other day
as pleasant as can be in every way.

There are no strangers…only friends you have not yet met.


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What a difference a day makes…

Chesil Beach

A stormy day

Yesterday when I awoke it was so dark as to still be night
I checked the time just to be sure that it was supposed to be daylight
heavy clouds overhead as the storm moved through
with flashes of lightning so bright
followed by the rolling sound
of thunder enough to start the dogs
in a chorus of barks and howls.

The rain poured down which is no surprise
as the forces of gravity pervade
if ever it pours UP instead then the end of the world is nigh
it rained for a couple of hours or more
rain we so desperately need
to water the yard and fill the ponds
to make things grow back green again.

After a while the storm passed by
and the sun came out to warm the sky
but the weather was still very cold
as a front from the North came blowing through
enough that I did not venture out
although things were waiting for me to do.

Today is a totally different day
the sun is shining and the weather is warm
and I will go outside
to do the things that I love to do
the air still has a cold, cold feel
enough to wear a shirt for warmth
but best of all the sun shines bright
and things are cheerful once again.

The Refrigerator

Moving an old refrigerator

Moving an old refrigerator

I live on the outskirts of the City of Austin and my water service is provided by them. So, it was with much interest that I noticed mixed in with the usual offers and news that the City sends out with its bills, an item that spoke of trading in any old working refrigerator back to the City and they would reimburse $50. Turns out, when I called them up, that as I was not receiving electricity from the City, (I get mine from Pedernales Electric) I was not eligible to participate in the program.

So, not to be outdone, I have these dear friends in town that I thought would probably be pleased to accept the old refrigerator and turn it back to the City that way. When I approached them with the idea, my friend Gloria suggested that I should bring it over this coming Saturday as she was holding a Garage Sale and was looking for items to sell. She volunteered George, her other half, to come over and help me load it out onto my small garden trailer and transport it to their house for this weekend sale.

Bright and early on Thursday morning, George arrived at my house where he found me finishing up cleaning the refrigerator ready to load onto the trailer which I had already hooked up to the car. Now, this is not the first frig that I have moved but I have to say, it was probably the heaviest. Considering it was at least 37 years old, maybe they built them better back then. It had been sitting in my garage purring away for several years after I, in a fit of madness, decided that I needed a new one even though there was nothing wrong with the old one. Garages at the best of times are not the cleanest of places and needless to say, the frig was in a pretty deplorable state on the outside and took a lot of work to clean it up. In my younger days, I was a bit of a beer drinker and the refrigerator was very useful for maintaining a cool supply. Having totally quit drinking for at least seven years, I no longer had a use for cold beer.

The normal method to move heavy appliances is to balance them on a two-wheeled dolly. The ones the pro’s use even have a strap to tie it back to the dolly. Normally, I would balance a refrigerator on my two-wheeled dolly and then rock it back to the balance point and move it that way. For some reason, I could not get this one to balance and nearly succeeded in dumping the damn thing on me which concerned me enough to figure out a different way. So we struggled and strained and worked the thing up onto the trailer by sliding it up the loading ramps which I happen to have. Luckily, the trailer is only about a foot above the ground Even so, it was extremely difficult but we eventually succeeded. We worked it up to the front of the trailer which does have high wooden sides and stacked a barbecue pit that I was also putting in the sale, in front of it to help to keep it from toppling over. I could not find a rope anywhere so we had to rely on bungee cords and hope they would do the job, the fear being that it might topple over in transit creating an awful mess. Working refrigerators have to be carried upright and cannot be laid down. Not sure why this is but I do know this for a fact.

We drove back into town with George following behind in his car although I am not sure what he could have done if it had decided to topple over. Glancing in the mirror, I saw him flashing his lights as we were trucking along Ben White so I pulled over to see what the problem may be. Turns out, he had seen the thing rock backwards after going over one pretty bad bump in the road and was concerned that it was about to topple. Carefully checking the load did not show any signs of movement but he did ask me to slow down a little. I hadn’t realized that I was driving fast as I was well aware of the delicately balanced load.

We made it to his house which luckily is not on the main thoroughfare and I pulled up close to the curb. We struggled and strained and worked the frig down the ramps and onto the street where we struggled again to get it up over the curb and onto the sidewalk leading into his house. I knew that George was not going to be around for the Garage Sale to provide some muscle if needed so he suggested that we leave it fairly close to the road.

I jumped into my car to drive home complaining bitterly to myself about my poor old and aching body. When we were loading the frig, George has commented that we were heart attacks waiting to happen as the bloody thing was so heavy. Amazing what the human body can put up with. Incidentally, George had previously had a heart attack so maybe he knew what he was talking about.

Upon arriving home, I gleefully moved things around in the garage reveling in the additional space and wielded the broom to clean it up. Later that evening, the phone rang and it was George. He was laughing fit to bust and in between giggles, managed to blurt out that the frig was gone. I asked him if he had sold it already and he said that before he had time to put a For Sale sign on it, someone had stopped and loaded it out and drove off.

I too bust out laughing as it was ironic that it had gone so quick especially after George and I had worked so damn hard to move it. In truth, I hope that whoever has it gets as much service out of it as I did over the years…or enjoys the $50 if they turn it in.

Oh yes, the frig was the last remaining tie to my ex-wife. Ironic that at the end, she was only worth $50…

Another Saturday-Another Rainy Day…

Rainy and Foggy Day

Rainy and Foggy Day

Another Saturday and another rainy day
Lord knows we need the rain
but why does it have to be on a Saturday
one of the two days when we are not at our workplace
with grand ideas of what we want to do on our day off
and it’s raining.

It could rain any other of the five days of the week
and we would sit at our workplace and watch it fall
through the window that opens up to the outside world
but trapping us within its confines
and when our workday is done
we grab our umbrella if we remembered to bring it
and make a mad dash to our cars ready to fight the traffic
which, in truth, always drives a little faster
and a little scarier than when the roads are dry.

But, when all is said and done
and if you were to ask any Texan
and they would tell you
“We need the rain”
whatever the day of the week.

My 47th Anniversary…March 13, 1967.

Queen Mary

Queen Mary

Well, would you believe that on this day, forty-seven years ago, my family and I landed at New York Harbor on the magnificent Queen Mary. We were met by my mother and one of her friends who drove us back to the little village of Fort Plain in the Mohawk Valley in Upper New York State. Much has happened since that eventful day…

This blog is not a reflection of all that has happened since then as I have already covered that part of my life in previous blogs. No, I am writing this more as a summary and that today for me, is a day worth celebrating. Even though life has had its ups and downs in the past forty-seven years, the majority of it has been very good as I hope it has been for those that landed with me on that day.

Taken on the whole, the American people are a very nice and sociable lot with strong family ties. They have very firm beliefs in family values and in some cases, almost to a fault. The extent that some families will go to “protect” their kids from the normality of life is frightening as I see modern-day kids as mostly a bunch of super intelligent, spoilt and protected to the degree that they never have to face any hardship as they grow up. Part of that is the school system that extends every school day into a school evening in order for the kids to succeed. There is something wrong with a system that expects the kids to work every evening after spending all day at school. When do they have time to be kids?

Everything has to be organized. If is not, the parents won’t allow the kids to participate. City kids, even small cities, have to be taught about Nature. They don’t spend time in the woods among the trees with the birds and animals or smelling the flowers as we did when we were growing up. Granted, they were vastly different times and we didn’t have anything even closely resembling any of the electronic devices that we have to today to provide the entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, I am just as fascinated with these modern wonders as the next person and for an old guy, know my way around them very well. The trouble is they have taken over our lives and the simple things no longer have the same interest.

Funny the direction this blog is heading. I meant to write about my feelings after being in this magnificent country for nearly fifty years but instead it has turned into a rant of how I see problems ahead for the wonderful people who live here, people who I live next door to or greet in the store as we pass, or those that work out at the same gym as I do. It may not be in their lifetime but it won’t be long before modern kids as they grow up, will not know how to cook a meal as they never learned it from their parents.

Enough of all of this complaining. Think of the good things that have happened over the past forty-seven years. Things like becoming an American citizen back in 1976 or having the ability to buy a house  and many, many cars, or moving out of New York State to escape the brutal winters to enjoy the great state of Texas, thirty-seven years ago. Thank you Dominic Fazzone for giving me the opportunity. I think of all of the people I have met and the friends I have made in both States and there is nothing that I cannot do if I so choose. Regardless of the things I see that bother me, this is a great country and it has treated me well and for that, I am very grateful.

Do I regret emigrating from England to the USA? In some ways, of course I do. I miss the English people with their weird sense of humor and the simpler life style at least when I lived there. I miss going to watch the Professional football matches of the English Premier League and have to make do watching them on television. I miss roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and fish and chips eaten out of a newspaper and a pint of English beer. I regret that I was not able to make any of my marriages work and that I lost touch with some of the people who I knew over the years. I regret that I was not able to grow up with my two sons and that I only know them from a distance. The one thing I don’t miss is the incessant rain which was the reason we moved in the first place. Living here in Texas, I could sure use some of it now…

For me, my race is nearly run. I do not have time for regrets as I want to make the most of whatever years I have left and which I will spend in this great country. When I die, my ashes will be spread over this land and I will become a part of its history.

Rule Britannia and God Bless America…


Goldfinches on a feeder

Goldfinches on a feeder

I wonder where the birds all go
when the seed in my feeders is running low
and after I fill them back to the brim
the birds come flying back again.

I understand if the seed is low
that someplace else they must go
as what I have is an additional thing
to what they normally are eating.

But, how do they know when the feeders are full
what messaging system do they have
that they all come flocking back again
not just one or two but a whole lot more
eager to feast outside my door.

All different types of birds are there
do they all the same language speak
does each song though different sung
tell the same story to every one?

Ah, Mother Nature at her best
knows the secret of the birds
but she will not help to solve
one of her mysteries she has evolved.

Here they all come again
from the tiny wren to much larger birds
even those that are way to big
to balance themselves as they try to eat.

To me it is interesting
to watch them squabble over the seed
that some are so busy guarding the stuff
they never have the time to feed.

Others take one sunflower seed
and speedily depart to the nearest tree
to consume their bounty in relative peace
until they go back for more to feed.

And so it goes day after day
I find it amusing in my own way
and try to keep the feeders filled
so that bored, I can never say

These tiny birds are a pleasure to watch
as they go about their work
to them they simply need to eat
in order for them to survive
so the act of filling up the bowls
is my way of saying thank you to them
for all of the pleasure they do show
as I sit and watch them over again.