Tuesday, August 27, 2013


When they opened up the knee, they apparently took most of the meniscus. I know it had really been hurting, but hoped that some would remain so the potential for arthritis would not be so great.

When you have your ribs broken and your sternum sawed, broken, pulled apart and stuck back together with super glue and staples, it hurts. Especially if you cough, and you have to cough a lot to clear the lungs. I lived in fear of sneezing, believing that the staples would fly out of my body and everything would explode in a spasm of pain. Well, at least it would hurt a lot.

So why did every meal come with pepper? Isn't that kind of sadistic?

When you get your knee opened up, you are supposed to keep all weight off it and use crutches or a wheel chair for two days. They must have dumped a gallon of fluids in me with the IV, though, so off to the bathroom, over and over. Not easy with crutches, very awkward, took a long time.

Again, are they just sadistic?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Heretical thoughts

Lyn Yarbrough sent this, and the concept helps me out a bit. I listened to a TV weatherman go on about "global warming" and the inevitability of the future. While this guy may be a genius and know a lot about the future, it bothered me that I was being fed stuff by a TV weatherman.

An analysis of the value of heretical thought by one of the world's leading Physicists, Freeman Dyson at the Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.

..."Here is another heretical thought. Instead of calculating world-wide averages of biomass growth, we may prefer to look at the problem locally. Consider a possible future, with China continuing to develop an industrial economy based largely on the burning of coal, and the United States deciding to absorb the resulting carbon dioxide by increasing the biomass in our topsoil. The quantity of biomass that can be accumulated in living plants and trees is limited, but there is no limit to the quantity that can be stored in topsoil. To grow topsoil on a massive scale may or may not be practical, depending on the economics of farming and forestry. It is at least a possibility to be seriously considered, that China could become rich by burning coal, while the United States could become environmentally virtuous by accumulating topsoil, with transport of carbon from mine in China to soil in America provided free of charge by the atmosphere, and the inventory of carbon in the atmosphere remaining constant. We should take such possibilities into account when we listen to predictions about climate change and fossil fuels. If biotechnology takes over the planet in the next fifty years, as computer technology has taken it over in the last fifty years, the rules of the climate game will be radically changed.

When I listen to the public debates about climate change, I am impressed by the enormous gaps in our knowledge, the sparseness of our observations and the superficiality of our theories. Many of the basic processes of planetary ecology are poorly understood. They must be better understood before we can reach an accurate diagnosis of the present condition of our planet. When we are trying to take care of a planet, just as when we are taking care of a human patient, diseases must be diagnosed before they can be cured. We need to observe and measure what is going on in the biosphere, rather than relying on computer models."





From Jerry DeFrance

"Insanity in individuals is something rare..but in groups, parties, nations, and epochs, it is the rule."   Friedrich Nietzsche

"The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer."  Henry David Thoreau

"There are a thousand thoughts lying within a man that he does not know till he takes up a pen to write."  William Makepeace Thackeray

Early tomorrow, I go in to have some of the meniscus in my knee removed. I apparently tore it and it is so sore. I limp and it interferes with sleep a lot. So I will be a bit woozy for a while as it is same-day surgery, but general anesthesia.

Jer sent these to me (he will get them returned as he gets these postings in email) and I found them to be new to me and especially interesting. He knows how much I love quotes and aphorisms, and apparently knows how poorly read I am.

First, the Nietzsche quote is apparent in modern US politics and we can go back in history and pinpoint many examples. One of the reasons it is unfair to compare the hysteria of 1930's Germany to any other period; it had its own unique insanity.

The Thoreau quote is so fundamental to every human--to be listened to! Seems like we often just take turns talking rather than trying to understand what the other person is offering.

The last is especially appropriate for what I have been trying to do on this blog for a couple of years--put some of those thoughts down in a cogent fashion. Difficult for me, and if nothing else, gives me a sense of appreciation for those who perform the task well.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Don't understand

A 71-year old Iowa man shot and killed an escaped convict who was holding he and his wife hostage. Shouldn't there be an investigation by the Federales? This must be another mistake of the stand your ground law. Let's accuse him of murder, or some Federal crime. You know, I am not much younger, I probably look like that guy.

Oh, wait, there are differences.

Also, notice that this story is not carried on NBC News (it was earlier, but you have to know where to find it) or Yahoo. I had to really dig to see it as it was taken down just about as soon as it was put up.


Doesn't have the appeal that the Travon Martin shooting had...or has.

Monday, August 19, 2013

P & W

Prokofiev wrote it, "Peter and the Wolf" (1936), Disney switched it around (1946) and I listened to it in the one-room country school in the early 1950's.

Next spring, we are going to see it performed, and it will be the first time I have seen a live performance when the Virginia Symphony does it March 30, 2014...assuming the crick don't rise. In January and April, we will see "Bolero" and "Tchaikovsky's No. 6 Pathetique," respectively.

Both the Ravel and Tchaikovsky pieces are emotional, and I hope no one takes their own life after that fourth movement of Pathetique. Can't wait for this treat.

Just listened to a little bit of the Disney version of P & W on You Tube and the memories were really vivid. That room, Big Cut District 12, had a special smell on top of everything else, a combination of sweeping compound (does anybody know what that stuff was, and is it still used?) and a "school" smell. When it was too cold or stormy to go outside at lunch, Mrs. McKillip would sometimes let us play games, listen to her read a book or play a record, like the 78 rpm one of "Peter and the Wolf."

My vote was often for the record, but I have always been the kind who would play a song over and over until everyone else was ready to break the record or me!

Live performances of symphonic music are wonderful to me, as there is no electronic cluttering of the sounds, and once they are gone in that auditorium, they are really gone forever because those sounds will never be "live" again.

As many of you know, the symphony in Sioux City was special for me, and we are again lucky to be in a place that has a wonderful orchestra and a great place to perform, the nearly new Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. I still marvel that Klinger-Neal at Sioux City's Morningside College was built in 1964 and had such great acoustics.

At this stage of life, I have so much more discretionary time so it is possible to do some study on these pieces, get more familiar. Maybe we should rent Bo Derek's "10"? That came out 34 years ago. Doesn't seem possible, nor does it seem possible that Mary Cathleen Collins (Bo Derek) will be 57 years old this year. Whoa.

Can't wait to see and hear P&W, too, although I may yearn for that distinctive voice of Sterling Holloway.

Only thing that could make it better would be visitors to see it with us.

Saturday, August 10, 2013


There is truth behind so many aphorisms--"Life isn't fair," "Bad things happen to good people,"--and the like. The hurts and shocks come about to young and old, and the soft, sweet Hallmark moments are rare.

Humor is a wonderful way to cope, and some have that creative gift. Some of us don't. My friend Jerry has it, and he needs to use that gift to its utmost right now as we all grieve the loss of a wonderful woman, his wife Pat, after a long fight with cancer.

Jerry and Pat deserve all the friends they have earned over the years. Truly wealthy folks in that best form of wealth. Linda and I are so honored to be in that group, and it just dawned on me that Jerry and I first became acquainted at UNL 50 years ago this fall. Half century of friendship is good, but it is not enough.

We were then at that age when so much is new, so much needs to be discovered and the hurts, slights and difficulties are fresh wounds with an exquisite quality. And so it goes, we develop ways to go on, to cope. As we become more seasoned, we have those tactics to rely upon when tragedy hits.

I have known only a few people who have the ability to come up with a clever response, or to entertain with words. Jerry has that ability. Most of us compose the good quip when the time is long gone, and timing is everything. "Oh, yeah, I shoulda said..." Fortunately, there is a place in this world for those of us who lack brilliance.

His friend, Dave, lives down the street and has been showing up at the house three times each day to offer support during these times. A good friend, good therapy. He was there, left, and another friend in the neighborhood stopped by, noticed the red-rimmed eyes and said, "Get on your shoes, we are going for a walk."

Their route took them past Dave's house and Dave roared out the door to greet them carrying one of those airline bottles of booze, half empty. "I don't drink scotch, just beer, so I thought I would let you have it."

Jerry examined it, determined it was Irish whiskey, not scotch, also noted that it was half empty. Removed the cap, dramatically threw it over his shoulder and downed the whole thing at once! Barely enough to dampen all your teeth.

"It's the least I could do," Dave said.

Jerry gasped, "Ahhhh," gave Dave a long look and replied, "Well, very nearly so."

They all collapsed in laughter, coping.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


The diary kept by Maurie Matzen, my mother's cousin who was more like a brother, for the years 1932 through 1936 were the typical activities of a young farmer, just married and starting a family in the Depression. Weather meant a lot, so I looked up the weather for a few of those years for Genoa.
For those of us who knew Maurie, such a gentle "splendid" man, this diary is fascinating and gives us a wonderful insight into those days. 

I selected Genoa because it was fairly close, it has kept records for many years, partly due to its founding in 1857 and its role regarding the Indian reservation of Nance county, and because my high school teacher, George Umbarger has kept the records there for more than 50 years.

He told me that the records for the Genoa weather station are second only to Omaha in longevity.

Anyway, here are some of the highlights:

Highest Temperature
Lowest Temperature
Heating Degree Days
Cooling Degree Days
Annual Precipitation

A note about Heating Degree Days and Cooling Degree Days. Pretty simple calculation designed to allow utilities to estimate the requirements to heat and cool buildings. It is based on the temperature of 65 degrees, and it is simple--add the high and low temperature, divide by two to get the average and subtract from 65. If the high is 60 and the low is 40, the average is 50 and the heating degree days equals 15. It is the best estimate of how hot or cold a day, a month or a year was.


I always heard stories of how hot and how cold the "Thirties" were. According to the weather statistics, they are not that different from recent years in Genoa, Nebraska, except that recent years have been a bit colder and 1934 was pretty darn hot!! And dry, with only 15.74 inches of rain. The 2011 year had a lot of snow, and there were stories about how much snow there was in the Thirties, too. Summers today are quite a bit cooler, too.

This is by no means a statistically significant observation, but it is interesting in light of all the press coverage of global warming that the recent years have been so much colder than the "old days." When we talk geological time, though, it is insignificant.

Still, the recent years were 11.1% colder in the winter and 17.8% cooler in the summer than the Thirties, a not-insignificant difference. We should be careful about anecdotal information.


Several things we can't really measure from the information we have here that are terribly significant in measuring the impact of the environment on the people and economy of the time:

·         Wind -- I am sure that somewhere there is a measure of the wind velocity and the hours of that speed, a common indication, but I don't have it. The Great Plains of the 19th and early 20th century were windy, and they are to this day, but with the advent of trees, a novel commodity until the late 20th century, the wind was more of a factor. The diary talks of dust storms and those are virtually non-existent in that part of the country now. 

·         Farming Practices -- One reason the dust storms have diminished is the way farmers prepare and tend the soil of their farms. I remember hearing as a child about the "modern" way, minimum tillage. That is now the standard, and it conserves the moisture in the soil and exposes the soil to much less wind and rain erosion. It is my understanding that without some of the chemical control of bugs, minimum tillage would not be feasible.

·         Modern outerwear -- I remember being really, really cold a lot of the time. Now, it just isn't necessary.

·         Air conditioning -- In homes and vehicles. We did not have air conditioning in the farm house, nor in the milk barn. Couple 100 degree summer weather of an afternoon with an enclosed barn with a bunch of large, hot animals and it was warm. Had quite an odor, too! Tractors had umbrellas, maybe, and the A/C in the car was usually shut off because someone was smoking and it reduced the mileage so much. I think our first one with air conditioning was a 1960 Ford that would die at idle if the A/C was on.

I think it is so ironic that in this little sample, it is completely upside down from the global warming that we hear so much about. Wouldn't be surprised that Genoa has just not gotten the politically correct word.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Cousin Jan wrote a nice note and added a thought about the tastes of our 1950's part of the world. You don't hear about this on the Food Channel or from the Italian or Jewish comedians talking about their neighborhoods, but it was our little slice of the world.

School picnics, 4-H picnics and other pot lucks were typical. You got together at the end of the year and, as Jan said, at the school picnic, everybody played baseball--young and old. Usually with the best baseball we could find which often had a bit of tape on it to hold the cover in place.

Then the smorgasbord of goodies brought by each family. We had a wicker picnic basket for the food and our "vittles." Fried chicken, potato salad and homemade pies.

I remember how surprised I was when I would bite into someone else's potato salad and find that it didn't taste at all like what I was used to. Norma made her own mayonnaise and that gave her potato salad a taste unlike anything else. All the foods had that in common, and not all the chicken, potato salad, apple pie and pumpkin pie was very good, but on balance, it was scrumptious.

Cucumbers and onions in an oil and vinegar brine. Lots of fresh vegetables, but the custom of the day was to boil vegetables, like green beans, to within an inch of their lives before serving. Everyone had gardens, so there was produce from there, for sure. Help me out, post some of the other foods we had.

Like Jan said, amazingly, nobody got sick. Imagine what the health department would do to gatherings like that today!


The Thanksgiving of 1952, my mother had an appendectomy and the wife of my dad's childhood best friend invited us for Thanksgiving dinner. What a treat! Turkey and all the trimmings. I love, love, love dressing, so I took a big glob, only to bite in and discover that it was oyster dressing.

Now, I don't like that stuff to this day, but as a seven-year old, I was mortified. It was awful, but it was not polite or allowed to say anything like a typical kid would say today, "(whine, whine) I don't LIKE it!" and I remember looking at my brother who was having the same reaction and the same problem.

I kept asking myself as I choked it down in silence, "Why did I take so much?"


I think I have written about this before, but when I worked in the hay fields of the Sandhills one summer, we would eat dinner at one hired hand's house and supper at the other, switch off next week. Breakfast was in the basement of the main house, near the bunk house. We were the bunk-house boys.

One wife was a terrible cook. She didn't know that you were supposed to drain the ground beef before you baked it into the casserole, so the result was swimming in a half-inch of liquid. It was noon, dinner, and we had two choices--take it or leave it. Long time to six o'clock when the pickup came around to fetch us from the meadow.

We ate it.



I have threatened to write this many times, maybe I have actually done so and published it on the blog, but you know that I am going to repeat stories, so quit while you can.

More characters, these from my early years, in keeping with my original intent of this blog--to tell stories that may be of interest to some, particularly my kids and grandkids, niece and nephew and their kids.

Sort of a departure from posting about world/national/current events about which I typically have no real knowledge, just opinions with limited validity. If you thought some of the other stuff was a collection of random thoughts, get a load of this.


The smells of our neighborhood when I was growing up were so vivid and so different than what we experience in ordinary suburban living or the farms that are located there now. Every farm had a unique smell to it, and you could tell if it was dairy, sheep or hogs. Horses had their own smell. Silage. The thing that was the same--the smells were strong. Most of those odors had to do with livestock, something that is much reduced today.

When we were at the farm a few years ago, our golden retriever wandered off to find whatever, came back with the happiest look on his face, tongue lolling out of the side of his mouth, so proud of his latest adventure. He had found the rotting carcass of a raccoon and was covered in slime, maggots and stench. When we got him cleaned up and would not allow him to revisit the carcass, the disappointment was evident, whites of the eyes, droopy countenance. Not something you find every day in the city. So, another smell added to the mix, not a problem but a feature.


When it rained, all the smells took on an even greater amplitude, if that is a correct way to describe a high stink. A rainy day was also the time to exact a punishment. Unlike today's youngsters that have their cell phones taken away or a privilege denied, "grounded," our felonies and misdemeanors were paid for with unpleasant tasks. Now there were lots of unpleasant tasks on the farm, some of them pretty dangerous, like stacking hay bales in a barn loft with temperatures that were hot, hot, hot and no ventilation, but those were just part of the job, not a punishment.

The "sentences" were meted out on rainy days--for the minor offenses, fixing fence. A bit more serious, muck out the barns. For a major offense, clean the chicken house. That ammonia would gag you no matter how accustomed you were to barnyard smells.

Again, due to the reduction of livestock, the proliferation of X-boxes and cell phones, I doubt if those tasks and punishments remain.


Which brings me to a farm that sort of exemplified the old-timey place, that of Pud and Gladdy. Pud was actually Elmer, but everyone from that generation had a nickname--Doogie, Shorty, Buck, Polie, Swede, Shotty (not Scotty), Flick, Babe, Ole, Axle, Corky, Toots, Buzz, Fuzz, Rock--and Pud rhymes with "good" not "thud." Some said he earned that moniker because his face looked like a catcher's mitt, a "pud," because it was round, soft and damaged by too much alcohol. More likely, it was a contraction of "Puddin'". That puffy face was always wreathed in cigarette smoke and his fingers, I remember, were a fetching shade of nicotine yellow, like Harry "Speed" Burrows, Teeny's husband, as they both cupped the smoke sort of underhanded so the whole fist was bathed in it. Speed, by the way, was an ironic nickname as he was one of the slowest mammals I ever saw.

Interesting character, Pud, as he is the only person I ever knew who took down telephone lines with a car--airborne, without hitting a pole. Seems he was a bit "under the weather" from spending too much time in the bars, not an unusual thing for Pud, and on the way home, he drove off the highway near Gussy Johnson's at a high rate of speed, hit one of the driveways like a ramp, and lofted into the air high enough to catch the telephone lines. Came down in a field, banged the car up quite a bit and walked away. You know, "drunks and fools."

Gladdy was Gladys, and she was a friend to every kid in the wide neighborhood. She had another nickname, too, but I have forgotten it or it was not commonly used by people I knew. Generous to a fault, and always ready to laugh. She worked nights at the nursing home and it seemed as though she never slept. But the house...that was all a part of the experience. That house was, apropos to almost nothing, where I discovered and borrowed the first "real" book I ever read, when I was in the seventh grade--Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls.


A lot of the farms were subsistence farms, not the business farms you see today. They had chickens, a few hawgs, a few cows and a horse or two. Lives were a lot different, too, and I'll never forget rolling into one of those farms when I was just out of high school and working during the summer applying fertilizer and asking to use the phone. She allowed me to come in and do so, and I noticed that she immediately sat down, did not look well and had a nasty red injury spread all over her swollen leg. I said it looked bad, had she seen a doctor, and "No," that wouldn't be necessary. No running to the E-room for those folks, you doctored things yourself. I have no way of substantiating this, but I heard that she was eventually institutionalized with severe mental problems and her husband, who everyone knew had a problem "borrowing" things, like cattle and hogs, spent some time in prison.

On the other end of the spectrum from this sticky-fingers guy was a farmer "south of the river" who returned my brother's log chain six years after Dick had lost it while doing some work on the man's farm. Sought him out, brought it back. It was a miracle that he found it after all that time, those fields are BIG and the farming practices cover stuff up. I am pretty sure the man's name was Cuba which is pronounced sort of like zoo' baw, not like the island country.

Back to Pud and Gladdy's house. Their dairy operation was completely different from ours. We had stainless steel throughout, were inspected all the time and sold fresh milk from 50 to 60 cows to the dairy in Omaha. They, like many farmers, had a couple of cows, milked by hand into open buckets, separated the milk and fed the skim milk to the hawgs. Think of that last item--I have seen recent information that when humans consume skim milk they gain more weight than when they consume whole milk, and the whole business of trying to convert us to consumption of vegetable fats is part of the obesity epidemic in the US. The hogs thrived on the skim milk, gained weight and did so through the experience of farmers and without the benefit of a university study. Go figure.


Most of the places had a "milk house" where the milk was poured into a separator, a centrifuge device that spun out the watery, blue skim milk and diverted the cream into another container. Cleanliness was often sketchy, admittedly difficult because there were a lot of parts to the separator, holes, nooks, crannies and milk is notorious for hiding and attaching to the metal. When it does, and is not thoroughly cleaned with the help of chlorine bleach, it stinks. Sour milk. And Pud and Gladdy separated in the basement of the house where the cement floor was infused with milk creating a foundation scent throughout the house, eau de spoiled milk. Plus, they both smoked. A lot. Add another olfactory dimension. And every house that I recall back then had the smell of the outdoors and the livestock, the boots with barnyard residue, silage and such. Stored in the house.

Their house had a secret weapon in regard to the smells, though. It was well-ventilated. My mother remarked that you could "Throw the cat out in any direction," and my dad complained that it was so drafty on a cold winter night with the north wind howling that, "You couldn't light a cigarette with a kitchen match."

Hygiene was so much different then, and not just for individual farmsteads, like ours that had a basement with a dirt floor. For example, the towns had open dumps and burned the garbage. The St. Ed and Genoa dumps were situated along the creek so that when it flooded, the garbage floated down the river. Not until after my childhood were sewage disposal facilities common, you otherwise dumped raw sewage into the ground or into the rivers. Likewise with animal waste. Different time, but we improved our rifle marksmanship by shooting rats at the St. Ed dump.


It has been years since I have seen a chicken wandering about in rural Nebraska, and when I think of what "free range" chickens ate on the farm, I'll excuse myself from dining on them. Dead stuff, bugs, and the best smorgasbord, the grain left over in the droppings of cattle. They were often on the roads picking up gravel, needed in their gizzards to grind up food, and yes, there were always a few dead ones alongside the road.


Silage was often the finishing fragrance, topping off the winter smells in a home. Cut and stored in the late summer for use during the winter, silage is the fermented product of chopped up corn stalks, corn kernels, leaves and all. Fodder, sometimes other crops than corn, but nevertheless a hearty feed for the cattle because it had both good protein and the roughage that ruminants need. Like anything that is fermented (think sour kraut or Korean kimchi with no garlic), it had a strong, pungent odor that infiltrated your clothing and hung in the house.

Nothing like the smell of a feedlot on a hot summer afternoon right after a rain. Or flood water. I could keep going, the olfactory memories are quite clear.


Pud and Gladdy were all about fun. They lived a very spare existence, but they had lots of friends, all the young people used their place as a refuge and a gathering spot, and they just knew how to enjoy life. My parents, on the other hand, were much more serious, not completely austere, but the priorities were certainly different. One might say they avoided the frivolous; good Lutherans. So an afternoon or evening of fun at Pud and Gladdy's, swinging on a tire swing and reading comic books, was always a treat, and when it was the Fourth, especially so.

I was about seven, I had just had a birthday, and we spent the Fourth at their house. First time, maybe only time, I had a firecracker go off in my hand--fortunately a ladyfinger, so I was just burned, not picking up pieces of fingers. The big guys were there, their oldest son, Bill and his buddies with big firecrackers when cherry bombs and silver salutes that seem to me to be partial sticks of dynamite were available. Lots of noise and excitement...and motorcycles.


The idea that my parents let me get on a motorcycle with Phil Maurer (who was chosen because he was the least inebriated of the group) is still a mystery to me, but we took off for my first ride on a motorcycle. That house was on the highway, we went north a mile or so to the top of a hill, got a good run at it, and by the time we went past the house, Phil boasted to his friends that we were "...doin' over a hunnert." The old Harley caught fire when we got back, somebody threw beer on it and extinguished the fire, only to be criticized for wasting beer. "Why didn't you pee on it!"


Some time ago, that house was torn down, replaced with a nice modern raised ranch. Pud died a difficult death from emphysema, struggling to get a breath. I can still see him hunched over the kitchen table, smoking with that raised-shoulder posture of the victim of breathing disorders, cupped hand. Of course, I was smoking with him, evidently inviting a "chronic obstructive pulmonary disease," but I quit long ago.


I was in high school, it was spring, and he needed to get ready for planting, so he hired me to do some plowing. The tractor was a "tractor-fuel M" which was a Farmall Model M that burned something called tractor fuel--not gasoline and not kerosene, and I don't know exactly what it was. (I just now looked it up, and it is interesting, a non-taxed, parafin-based fuel with a low octane rating). But it was a weak sister, that's for sure. I would sit there in the cold and wind, hour after hour, evening after evening, weekend day after weekend day, performing a task that is not even done today. When I last did real field work, with today's machinery, it was done with a hydraulically-operated disc in just a few hours in the comfort of a cab with air conditioning and a radio.

The plow was a "3-14," three "bottoms" or plowshares and moldboards, each with a 14" cut. Round and round we went, it had a mechanical trip mechanism instead of hydraulic controls. Wow, that was a long time ago.


Those kinds of farming practices are long past. I survived motorcycles and fire crackers along with the strong smells that are such a part of my memories and, to this day, seem to imbue me with a greater tolerance for earthy fragrances than most people.

Pud and Gladdy, in fact, the whole neighborhood, provided me with something that doesn't seem to be as common today as then--respect from another generation. I was treated as a valued "employee" and a friend rather than shuffled off to sit in front of a TV. When kids were young, they ran the stacker tractor. When laying out pipe, they pulled the wagon while the men laid the pipe. When a crew was shelling, they did what they could. There were always jobs, important jobs, to be done that matched up with your ability at that age. You were part of the crew.

That, actually, is one of the abiding influences on my life, that feeling of being accepted and useful, a part of the family, the neighborhood and doing my job. May be why retirement is just not something I want to do, some of that would be lost.

See, I told you to stop reading!!