CHOICES

 

2018 Me and Caden (2)

Caden and his Grandpa at the lake playground.

Life is made up of choices. It always has been and always will be. Doesn’t matter who you are.

Through out my adult life I have always chosen family over the big money career. To me there was never really any other option. Choices. What is right for me does not make it right for someone else. That does not make it wrong for either of us. This is what makes the world go around. This is what makes life so interesting.

When my children were small I always made every single school (or preschool) play. I chaperoned every single trip with the exception to the trip that Adam took to California where another father got picked instead of me. Every graduation. Being in Sales made it a bit easier for me than it would have been if I took a position in management or had a job that required a lot of traveling. Choices.

Today, I am a Grandpa. And a Hands on Grandpa. My grandson is Caden. He is a bit over two years old. For various reasons (a blog unto itself) I chose to take Social Security and semi retire at sixty two. So for three days a week I drive Uber/Lyft and on Thursday and Fridays I hang out with my grandson. Some might say that I am Toddler Sitting, others might say that I am helping my son and daughter-in-law save on daycare, but I say that I am staying young and enjoying every single minute of our time together. Sure by the time my kids get home from work I am wiped out. I mean from when I arrive at 9am and leave around 6pm or so it is nonstop motion. Yes I try to get him to nap but he doesn’t always nap and usually not as long as I (or his parents) would like. But who can blame him, he is hanging and playing with his Grandpa. Once again, I get to carry someone around like a football as he flies like Buzz Lightyear to infinity and beyond in the hands of his pal Woody. Or be a horse and pull him in his wagon to the playground at the lake. Choices.

Now that the weather is finally warm we follow a stream from the hill as water flows from the woods to the lake. I get to play Pooh Sticks weekly on a bridge. We feed the fish. We throw rocks into the lake to see who has a better arm. Caden of course.

Choices.

We play in the lake. The other day he found a long handle shovel in the sand, I was standing in the lake being a good lifeguard. Suddenly he comes running at me with the shovel. I yell not to run with the shovel in his hand. Now he walks, right into the lake. Races over to me and with his free hand he gives me a great big squeezie hug and with the other behind my back he uses the shovel to splash water all over me and laughs hysterically. I make believe that I am angry but splash him back. We are both soaked and laughing like idiots.

Choices.

Next he is on the swings again as Buzz Lightyear but this time I am told that I am Mr. Potato Head. He talks to me from his trip to the moon on his wrist communicator and I answer back. Of course.

Choices.

I could go on and on and on but you already know how this is going.

I am not rich in my bankbook but I am very wealthy just the same.

Today was Father’s Day. Now I don’t really believe in ‘Hallmark Holidays’ but when he and his father showed up to spend the day with me it was like Nirvana. Grandpa and Noni got a special extra day to put in the bank.

Choices. Life is filled with choices. So far so good.

2018 Fathers Day from Caden

‘Grandpa, Father’s Day 2018

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Will we stop Him Before It’s Too Late

By Madeline Albright

(I wish that I had written this, but alas I cannot take credit. Please read on.

Thank you. Deadhead1155)

On April 28, 1945 — 73 years ago — Italians hung the corpse of their former dictator Benito Mussolini upside down next to a gas station in Milan. Two days later, Adolf Hitler committed suicide in his bunker beneath the streets of war-ravaged Berlin. Fascism, it appeared, was dead.

To guard against a recurrence, the survivors of war and the Holocaust joined forces to create the United Nations, forge global financial institutions and — through the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — strengthen the rule of law. In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down and the honor roll of elected governments swelled not only in Central Europe, but also Latin America, Africa and Asia. Almost everywhere, it seemed, dictators were out and democrats were in. Freedom was ascendant.

Today, we are in a new era, testing whether the democratic banner can remain aloft amid terrorism, sectarian conflicts, vulnerable borders, rogue social media and the cynical schemes of ambitious men. The answer is not self-evident. We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.

Warning signs include the relentless grab for more authority by governing parties in Hungary, the Philippines, Poland and Turkey — all United States allies. The raw anger that feeds fascism is evident across the Atlantic in the growth of nativist movements opposed to the idea of a united Europe, including in Germany, where the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland has emerged as the principal opposition party. The danger of despotism is on display in the Russia of Vladimir Putin — invader of Ukraine, meddler in foreign democracies, accused political assassin, brazen liar and proud son of the K.G.B. Putin has just been re-elected to a new six-year term, while in Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, a ruthless ideologue, is poised to triumph in sham balloting next month. In China, Xi Jinping has persuaded a docile National People’s Congress to lift the constitutional limit on his tenure in power.

Around the Mediterranean, the once bright promise of the Arab Spring has been betrayed by autocratic leaders, such as Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt (also just re-elected), who use security to justify the jailing of reporters and political opponents. Thanks to allies in Moscow and Tehran, the tyrant Bashar al-Assad retains his stranglehold over much of Syria. In Africa, the presidents who serve longest are often the most corrupt, multiplying the harm they inflict with each passing year. Meanwhile, the possibility that fascism will be accorded a fresh chance to strut around the world stage is enhanced by the volatile presidency of Donald Trump.

If freedom is to prevail over the many challenges to it, American leadership is urgently required. This was among the indelible lessons of the 20th century. But by what he has said, done and failed to do, Mr. Trump has steadily diminished America’s positive clout in global councils.

Instead of mobilizing international coalitions to take on world problems, he touts the doctrine of “every nation for itself” and has led America into isolated positions on trade, climate change and Middle East peace. Instead of engaging in creative diplomacy, he has insulted United States neighbors and allies, walked away from key international agreements, mocked multilateral organizations and stripped the State Department of its resources and role. Instead of standing up for the values of a free society, his oft-vented scorn for democracy’s building blocks has strengthened the hands of dictators. No longer need they fear United States criticism regarding human rights or civil liberties. On the contrary, they can and do point to Trump’s own words to justify their repressive actions.

At one time or another, Trump has attacked the judiciary, ridiculed the media, defended torture, condoned police brutality, urged supporters to rough up hecklers and — jokingly or not — equated mere policy disagreements with treason. He tried to undermine faith in America’s electoral process through a bogus advisory commission on voter integrity. He routinely vilifies federal law enforcement institutions. He libels immigrants and the countries from which they come. His words are so often at odds with the truth that they can appear ignorant, yet are in fact calculated to exacerbate religious, social and racial divisions. Overseas, rather than stand up to bullies, Mr. Trump appears to like bullies, and they are delighted to have him represent the American brand. If one were to draft a script chronicling fascism’s resurrection, the abdication of America’s moral leadership would make a credible first scene.

Equally alarming is the chance that Mr. Trump will set in motion events that neither he nor anyone else can control. His policy toward North Korea changes by the day and might quickly return to saber-rattling should Pyongyang prove stubborn before or during talks. His threat to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement could unravel a pact that has made the world safer and could undermine America’s reputation for trustworthiness at a critical moment. His support of protectionist tariffs invites retaliation from major trading partners — creating unnecessary conflicts and putting at risk millions of export-dependent jobs. The recent purge of his national security team raises new questions about the quality of advice he will receive. John Bolton starts work in the White House on Monday.

What is to be done? First, defend the truth. A free press, for example, is not the enemy of the American people; it is the protector of the American people. Second, we must reinforce the principle that no one, not even the president, is above the law. Third, we should each do our part to energize the democratic process by registering new voters, listening respectfully to those with whom we disagree, knocking on doors for favored candidates, and ignoring the cynical counsel: “There’s nothing to be done.”

I’m 80 years old, but I can still be inspired when I see young people coming together to demand the right to study without having to wear a flak jacket.

We should also reflect on the definition of greatness. Can a nation merit that label by aligning itself with dictators and autocrats, ignoring human rights, declaring open season on the environment, and disdaining the use of diplomacy at a time when virtually every serious problem requires international cooperation?

To me, greatness goes a little deeper than how much marble we put in our hotel lobbies and whether we have a Soviet-style military parade. America at its best is a place where people from a multitude of backgrounds work together to safeguard the rights and enrich the lives of all. That’s the example we have always aspired to set and the model people around the world hunger to see. And no politician, not even one in the Oval Office, should be allowed to tarnish that dream.

TO KEURIG OR NOT TO KEURIG

 

12063691_10207498143761971_4963406016016687035_n.jpgMost people that know me know that I take my coffee seriously.  Now I am not talking about all of those special blends and concoctions that are available today for half a weeks salary. No I don’t need a  Caramel Macchiato, or Frappuccino. I don’t need a Narino Cold Brew or a Cinnamon Dolce Latte. (No offense to my son who is a Barista at Starbucks). Just give me a good tasting plain old cup o’Joe.

For decades I was happy with my drip coffee maker. I would set it up at night and when my alarm would go off in the morning, there waiting for me, steaming hot was my first cup of coffee of the day. Yes I would stumble, with my eyes wide shut, to the kitchen and grab the mug of the day (that’s a whole other story) fill it to the rim and sip. There is an art to sipping coffee, one must sip it with your mouth slightly open and drink and inhale the aroma at the same time.  I am not a cigarette smoker but I can imagine that that first sip of coffee must be like lighting up that first cigarette of the day.  Indescribably delicious. And when that first mug was done I would walk back to the coffee maker and grab my second cup. Not as good as the first but it was there waiting for me calling to me from the kitchen. Aahh life’s little pleasures.

As a Scout Leader for two decades now, it used to be my job to get up a half an hour early to start perking the coffee for the other Leaders. It was a dirty job but someone had to do it. There is nothing in the world like fresh perked coffee.  The aroma from each pot brought back memories of my childhood. Waking up on the weekend the house always smelled of two things, coffee and bacon.

Now a days, the house just smells of bacon (don’t tell my cardiologist please). Why you may ask? Did I give up coffee? NFW. But making coffee has changed over the years. Now we have a Keurig Coffee Maker. Anyone not living under a rock knows all about Keurig coffee makers. You make one cup at a time and if you are a good host, have a variety of flavors available for you (or guests) every whim.  Let’s not even begin with the outrageous cost of the Keurig Coffee Maker alone.

My wife and I can be considered ‘Tree Huggers”. We are not fanatical but we realized that these little pods of coffee just add to the landfill problem. So we found ourselves tearing them open, emptying them and putting the plastic pod in with the recycling. Eventually we bought the reusable pods and fill them ourselves. A big savings to both our wallets and the landfills. But is is worth it? Every-time that I want a cup of coffee, there I am filling up the reusable pod, to make my coffee.

The Keurig is nice, especially when company comes over but in reality, I miss the good old coffee maker where I get a pot at a time and it is waiting when I wake up in the morning, and that second cup is waiting when I have to fill my travel mug. The positive list goes on and on. So sometimes, change may not be so good. I think that I may go shopping for new coffee maker. One that can support my habit in a more timely fashion.

See the source image

 

I’M NOT OLD YET!!

Twelve years ago, at the ripe old age of 50, I got an envelope in the mail from AARP. My first reaction was that of anger. Me, a member of AARP? BUT I’M ONLY 50! Then I realized that it wasn’t that expensive, and I figured that as I got older, it would be good to have a Lobby in Washington DC.  Just to piss my wife off, I could get her a card too. I found out that I would now be eligible for a free cup of coffee at McDonald’s and all that I had to do was show my card at the register. SOLD!

I remember when my folks joined. They got all kinds of great things. It seems like suddenly they were traveling all over the place at great savings. Four days in London, a trip to Barbados, Broadway tickets and more. Cool, now I was part of that club. But no, I was never offered a trip, or a Broadway ticket. What I kept getting were offers for life Insurance (just enough to cover my funeral expenses), dental insurance and vision insurance. Oh, and let’s not forget those Life Alert pendants in case I fall down and can’t get up. BUT I’M ONLY 50!!!!

Here we are, twelve years later and we still belong to AARP. Suddenly, last week, a Miles Kimball catalog appeared in the mailbox. I figured now that I am definitely old enough to be an AARP member, more catalogs would appear from other companies as well. I didn’t realize just how much I missed getting catalogs in the mail. Great bathroom reading and mindless reading. The 21st Century internet killed mail order catalogs. To this day I miss reading my Campmor catalogs. And what about the Big Green Book that Toys R Us used to send out right before Thanksgiving?

Alas, as I sat looking through the Miles Kimball Catalog my mood slowly began to sink. This was a catalog for OLD people! Here are some of the items that I had the pleasure of perusing: an easy- grip spatula, a ring pull (to open zip tops on cans if you have arthritis), a corn cobber (for those with false choppers), a rain hat with a brim so that the lady in your life doesn’t ruin her hairdo, an escape hammer so that I can break car glass after I run off the road into the lake, sexy slippers in many styles for my bride of 35 years. Shall I go on? Okay a couple more. How about a toe straighter to cure gnarly hammer toes, a checkbook calculator (what is a check?), quilted furniture covers and clear plastic ones too! Okay last one, ready? A personalized Social Security blanket. So, I never forget that magic number.

I could go on and on, but why depress you too? Give me that Big Green Book, a Victoria Secrets Catalog (so I’m a dreamer, shoot me), Coldwater Creek, Campmor, even a Macy’s Catalog!

I’M NOT OLD YET!

CHAPTERS

Screenshot (1)This is my son Adam and his dog Ladybug. Ladybug is 15 years old and Adam is 22 leaning on 23. Today Adam moved out of our home to pursue his life. As it should be. In fact, Adam did this a few years ago but the timing wasn’t right so he came back home. No problem. In fact we were happy that he was back.

You see Adam is quite creative, and you never know what direction that creative talent is going to go. I wish I had a nickel for all the times that he had his mother and me rolling in fits of laughter. Today he packed up his stuff and moved about an hour and a half away. Not far but far enough to be Adam. And isn’t that what counts most?

As a parent, we are supposed to be prepared for this. I mean, after all didn’t we all do the exact same thing? We woke up one day and decided that the time had come to move on and explore what life, and what the world had to offer. Some of us had children and some of us didn’t. Some moved across the Continent and some didn’t. But either way, whichever fork we traveled, we indeed traveled.

Those of us with children kinda sorta always knew that the day would come when  we would be turning this page, closing one chapter and beginning another. By the way, did I mention that Adam is our youngest son? Well he is. Our oldest moved out also some years ago, got a job and career, married, and blessed us with a grandchild. They live about ten minutes from us. But they too have their own lives, doing exactly what we did, and then some. The wheel is turning and it won’t slow down.

So now it is just me and my wife and our two dogs. Adam left his with us. We prepared for this day and at the same time we weren’t prepared. All that I know is that when I look at my children, deep in my heart, I know that we did our best in raising them and teaching them. Their actions remind me of that every time I see them.

And along the way, they taught us also.

So with sadness and pride and loads of other emotions all wrapped up inside today is the first day of the rest of our lives. And Adam’s too.