Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Senior Trick Or Treating

In case you are still into trick or treating, I thought I should share some very important tips with you. I think most communities have an age limit but as we get older and more senile we might just forget and try to go out anyway. It's called a second childhood. Well if that is the case with you, here are a few tips that I have found that should let you know when you really are too old to do it.
10. People tell the kids with you that it is nice that their greatgrandfather is taking them around this year
9. You can't find your way home.
8. You get winded from knocking on the door.
7. You have to have another kid chew the candy for you.
6. You ask for high fiber candy only.
5. When someone drops a candy bar in your bag, you lose your balance and fall over.
4. People say "Great mask" and you're not wearing one.
3. When the door opens you yell, "Trick or ..." and you can't remember the rest.
2. You have to carefully choose a costume that won't dislodge your hairpiece.
1. You're the only Power Ranger in the neighborhood with a walker.

Monday, October 24, 2011

High School Football

It was a beautiful chilly night - perfect football weather. I did something that I hadn't done for several years. I went to see a high school football game. It was my alma mater, Warwick, at Penn Manor, the district where I had worked for 39 years. In fact, in the late 60's another teacher and I were instrumental in starting the campaign that finally brought football to Penn Manor. In the years that followed, until the time that I retired, I don't think I ever missed a Penn Manor game. For many years I managed the Penn Manor press box at home and I covered the away games for the Lancaster Sunday News. When my brother was athletic director at Warwick, he tried to add some significance to the "rivalry" by giving me a "crying towel" for Christmas, after a Warwick victory over Penn Manor. The idea was that each year the towel would go to the one of us from the losing school. Unfortunately, through most of Penn Manor's football history, Manor was not very good. And so, after keeping the towel for many years, I finally made it disappear. There was little chance that Manor would ever beat Warwick, giving me a chance to return the towel to my brother. So back to last Friday. I decided to go a little early to see the band do their show. Disappointment #1 - the band didn't march. Instead they had all the players, band members and cheerleaders who were seniors march, run or dance across the field, one by one, to greet their parents. Each one was introduced individually with announcements about their activities and their future plans. (Boring!). It took almost 30 minutes to accomplish this. Disappointment #2 - the crowd was not very large for either team. Disappointment #3 - the folks around me weren't even watching the game. Their kids were yelling, running around, standing in front of me, and constantly in and out of the rows. The women were talking to each other, as were the men. The only time anybody watched what was going on was when the cheerleaders threw small footballs into the crowd. Disappointment #4 - the cheerleaders were busy doing their dance steps. They didn't watch the game at all when Warwick had the ball. Once they started the cheer "Who wants a touchdown". Unfortunately, by the time they started the cheer, Penn Manor had already scored. Several parents of seniors, including two of the fathers, were in the cheerleading line trying to do the cheers with kids - interesting. Disappointment #5 - the Warwick band started with a rousing Big Ten fight song. just like we played when I was in the Warwick band at football games. But that was the only fight song I heard all night. I didn't recognize the remaining things that were played while the game was in progress. When I was in the band, the band was not permitted by the league to play while the game was going on. Playing was restricted to time outs as a courtesy to the teams calling their signals. And I don't even know if the Penn Manor band even played at all. I never heard them if they did. The actual game was not very exciting, so I left at the half. That was enough for me. I guess I am getting old. I remember the "good old days" when the bands played stirring fight songs like "On Wisconsin", the cheerleaders actually followed the game and cheered for their team, and the fans actually came to see football. Maybe I am just spolied by going to Penn State football games. Change, change, change. Oh yes, there was one more disappointment. If my brother would still be alive, I could finally give the towel back to him since Penn Manor now has a competitive team and beat Warwick. Oh how I wish I could do that.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Mighty Oak

It was only a few feet tall when I planted it about 40 years ago. It had a sharp bend in its narrow trunk and I feared that it would grow with that bend getting worse and making the tree unstable. Year after year it grew, taller and taller, and the bend became less noticeable. In fact that little plant became a tall, strong, mighty oak which reached to the sky and spread its branches over a portion of our yard. For years it provided shade and protection from the strong winds. Its acorns provided food for a variety of animals. But then, after many years, it was hit by a disease and many of its branches lost their leaves. Finally it was time to take it down. And last week that was done. Its work in our yard was done. The mighty oak has fallen. And now there is an empty space. One can now see the sky where the branches blocked the view before. It seems strange to realize that it is gone. This event has made me think of the many mighty oaks that I have known who have grown tall and strong, have provided me with a season of wisdom and protection, and then when their tasks in this life have been done, they have passed on. I think of my grandfather, Pastor Norman Wolf, who was a tremendous man of God. I had the special opportunity to spend much time in his home where I could see his concern for others and his Godly spirit. I saw how some folks treated him unfairly in his latter years and yet he never complained or talked about them. He was a strong oak in my life. Then there was my father who taught me how to work, how to serve, and how to face the difficulties of life trusting the Lord. I saw how he took care of his family after the war when jobs were scarce. I saw how that everything he had really belonged to the Lord. I know how he gave behind the scenes, without any credit or public attention. I saw how he reacted when he lost his job after 25 years with the company. And I saw his real faith when mother was killed in a car accident and he continued with life, trusting and serving the Lord. A big oak in my life. And of course, I must include my mother, who stayed at home to raise the three of us. She knew how to live with very little for many years. She modeled being a servant and ministering to others. There are others, like Pastor Jansen Hartman, a close friend of my father and my pastor for several years. He had a genuine love for others, including me, and a sincere concern about my spiritual growth. As a teen he challenged me with questions about my faith which made me think deeply about what I believed. Another strong oak in my life. And of course there was my brother, Terry, who God called home much too soon for me. Terry was an encourager to others and especially to me. His spiritual growth and ministry to others were both a challenge and an encouragement to me. Watching his faith grow as his cancer progressed was a real testimony and something I shall never forget. Another big oak in my life. And there were others that I could mention such as my father-in-law, Glenn Bickle, who modeled a faithful prayer life and personal evangelism ... my former pastor, Pastor John Dunn, who trusted and affirmed me and helped me mature in many leadership positions ... Uncle Bob and Aunt Thelma Smock who gave me a vision for ministering to children and helped shepherd me during my teen years .... and of course, my uncle John and aunt Ellen Derck, who led me to the Lord and have influenced my life for over 70 years. I thank the Lord for bringing all of these Godly people - my mighty oaks - into my life at various times. My life has been changed by my experiences with them. But like the oak tree in our yard, for some of them there came a time when their work on earth was done and I miss them. For others, their influence still affects my daily walk and ministry. One is very fortunate to have a big oak in one's life. Many, like me, have been blessed to have several. As you get older the big oaks become fewer and you long for their strength and encouragement. And you just pray that you may have learned well the lessons they have taught you and that, in turn, maybe the Lord will allow you to be a big oak for someone else who comes behind. That is my prayer.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

More Ramblings

I love the beautiful colors of Fall. I wish the Lord would allow the colored leaves to last one month longer. Then if all the leaves would just fall on one big pile - I wonder if it might have been that way in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned and were kicked out ... How can a first or second grader not know his address? How can he not know his last name? At times we have an incredibly difficult time getting basic information from Awana kids who come on our vans. Last Wednesday we had six new clubbers who could not provide this information for us. Amazing! Is this the fault of the schools? I think more of the blame should be placed on the parents. Any responsible parent would make sure the children would know this vital information even before beginning school. This is the raw material that our schools must deal with today. .... And speaking about schools, our dear governor continues his campaign to destroy public education. First he makes a "no tax increase" pledge and then he makes public education pay the price with huge cuts in their state subsidies. Like many districts, my school district cut jobs and programs and while my state taxes didn't go up, my school taxes took another big jump. Now he is pushing vouchers, or scholarships as he calls them, even though this will cost millions more. But he wants vouchers only for those attending low achieving schools. Get real! Once the foot is in the door, it will be eventually expanded to allow any kids to attend another school - especially a private school. This threatens to wreck public education. But the private schools want it - actually they really want the money and the better students, not the ones who don't know their names and addresses. They want the kids who will add to their image, so they can boast like, Linden Hall (an expensive selective private school for girls in Lititz), that their college board scores surpass those of all the public schools. ...... Here is an interesting investment - if you can call it that. Nearly 40 years ago I planted an oak tree that cost me about $1. Now I have to have it taken down and that will cost me $1,250! I guess $31 a year for some shade isn't too bad a bargain. We also recently took down five huge pine trees that we had planted 40 years ago. We had purchased those for just 10 cents each! It is incredible to think about how tall all of these grew in 40 years. ... Why do doctors ask you to come 15 minutes before your appointment time? Then you must wait 45 minutes instead of 30 to be seen. ... Why aren't advertisements and phone messages from doctors recorded by folks who know to pronounce Lancaster properly. I'm tired of hearing "Lan' cast er". We natives know immediately that it was recorded by someone from another area. .... How comes when parts go bad on your car they are never covered by the warranty? When we bought our last Dodge - and I literally mean our LAST Dodge - I was talked into an extended contract. I have never done that before, but fell for it that time. So on Friday a sensor goes bad - a $290 sensor - and, of course, it's not part of the extended warranty. .... The same day I received a notice that our supplemental medical coverage is going up $21 a month. I guess in this economy it could be worse and it will be worse when Obama Care kicks in. I haven't heard yet if medicare will be increased as well. So what's a retiree whose pension was set ten years ago supposed to do? ..... Oh well, as I normally say in situations like this, it's only money. And how true that really is - there certainly are more important things in life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Smile or Groan

I guess some days we take life too seriously ... we never know what a day may bring ... there are times that you don't know whether to laugh or cry ........ Our church installed a number of signs indicating special parking for those 65 and over. Many of our "older" folks don't want to admit their age so they won't park there. However, recently several of the signs were bent, apparently from drivers backing into them. Somebody straightened them out. The next week one was bent again. ........ A local church which has held the charter and hosted a Boy Scout troop for many years has let the scouts know that they need to find another sponsor and another location. The reason? The scouts won't allow gay leaders. ........ Friends of ours are serving as teachers in a Christian school in a foreign country. They have worked for many years to raise money and get difficult approvals to build their new school building. However they have been plagued by delays. A few weeks ago the contractor gave them a bill which was $100,000 more than contracted. They protested and he walked out of the meeting, padlocked the doors, and posted guards to keep school officials from trying to complete the work. After several weeks a tentative agreement was reached and they were given access to the building. Now they are finding electrical wiring that has been deliberately sabotaged ........ Then there are the Phillies. They broke their only major losing streak of the season in the final weeks of the season by winning three games at Atlanta. This set a franchise record for season victories and, on the final day of the season, it eliminated the Braves from the play-offs. The Phillies had handled the Braves all year. Their victory then allowed the Cardinals - who had handled the Phillies this year - to sneak in as the wild card. What happened? The Cardinals then were matched against the Phillies and knocked them off. If only the Phillies had lost one of those games to Atlanta they might still be playing today. ........ We led a hymn sing last week at Pinebrook. I asked folks to pray for me because I had a cold and didn't know if my voice would last. I barely finished the first set and our guest vocalists, a family, began to perform. They were told to do two 20 minute segments. After every song the father of the family would look at his watch and announce that they had been given 20 minutes but they still had time for another song. This continued after every song and their first segment went 40 minutes and their second about 45 minutes. Maybe he needs a new watch. As a result, we had little time left to sing hymns at this "hymn sing" and as a result my voice held out. It is funny at times how the Lord answers our prayers. Of course, maybe the farther needs a watch that works! ........ After a few major trades, a player named the Eagles "The Dream Team". Instead, after losing four of their first five games, they have actually become "The Nightmare Team". Pride does go before a fall ...... We recently attended our required training session for the upcoming election. Among other things, they shared mistakes that had been made during the last election. One district used the provisional ballots instead of the regular ones until somebody finally noticed the mistake. Two districts used the wrong voting machines. Another left their numbered list on the tablet and threw the tablet in the trash. They then had to go back through the trash bins to retrieve it. At least there were no "hanging chads". ........ We purchased ten mums to plant around our house and to put on our front steps (see photo). Unfortunately, when we got home we forgot which color was which. So we just guessed as we planted and placed them. It was then a matter of waiting until they bloomed to see what colors had been placed where. But while we generally guessed wrong, we aren't disappointed. Mums are one of God's most beautiful creations ........ And, finally, back to church. On Sunday, during announcements, the pastor held up a set of keys. He announced that they had been found in a car in the parking lot ... the car had been left running. Nobody publicly claimed the keys! Some of us were smiling but one unknown person was probably groaning! Keep looking up, with a smile!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Probably Gone, But Great Memories

For more than 20 years we have enjoyed going to Penn State football games. In the early days we'd go without tickets. We'd put a sign on the window of the car "We Need 2 Tickets" and usually, before we passed Harrisburg, we were stopped and we made the sale. That was fun! Only once didn't we get tickets. For the Alabama game we were stopped and offered a pair for $75 each, but I refused them. I never would spend more than face value. Instead that day we stopped to see my wife's sister in Lewistown and then returned home and watched on TV. Later we found several sources for tickets. First a former MU professor and then later Vince from Columbia. For years we bought from Vince - great seats right near where we parked. Easy in and easy out. But Vince passed away and his son kept the tickets for his use. Recently we have been buying from a lady in Virginia who had great seats - again easy in and easy out. Then Penn State changed the whole seating plan to raise money. Now the students are in the areas we liked to use. Our friend in Virginia did get seats on the opposite side of the field but she hasn't had any for sale so far this year. We also have become very particular, unlike when we were younger. When the stadium was expanded, the new seats were very high up. We don't want to climb 30 or more rows. We don't want to crawl over 20 people to get in and out. Over the years traffic has changed. In the early years there were huge backups at Dauphin, again at the Narrows, and once more coming down the mountain approaching State College. We found special ways around several of these traffic jams. We also learned to go early and then take a nap in our car once we were parked. However, in the last few years, new construction at Dauphin and at the Lewistown Narrows has made the drive much easier. When we first went, parking was easy. There was a huge grass lot right off University Dr. - easy in, easy out. But then Penn State built the Bryce Jordan Center and all sorts of new buildings and parking was pushed far from the stadium - unless you had special passes. As this was happening, Dianne was able to get a handicapped pass because of her physical conditions. For years the handicapped lot was right next to the stadium on the north side. It was perfect for us to get in and out quickly. Then a few years ago, to provide parking for the fans with tons of money, they moved our parking much farther away. Two years ago they then built a softball stadium on part of the lot and some of the handicapped parking was moved even farther away. Now they do provide a shuttle. It is great before the game, but if you want to leave before the game is over (which we do to beat the crowd), it won't run until they fill it up. So we are usually forced to walk quite a distance to our car to head for home. We still enjoy the game experience, but it has gotten more difficult, especially now that we have reached our 70's. Our best experience came last year when our son was offered the use of a client's box for one game. That was amazing - parking right next to the stadium, an elevator to the box, great food throughout the game. Even though the game was lousy, it was still a once in a lifetime experience. I still have the urge to go to every home game but this might be the first time in over 25 years that we don't get there. Dianne has had real problems walking and good tickets have not been available. Even if our friend from Virginia calls, I'm not sure if we will be able to go. A couple of years ago a friend went to a game with me. We had high seats. We watched an older man struggle up the steps to his seat. A few minutes later he had a heart attack. We heard that he died at the hospital. For some Penn State fans whose blood is "blue and white" it is probably a great way to go. But not for me. So as much as I hate to say so, we might not make the trip again. And I guess I will adjust - I guess you are forced to do that as you get older. You can watch most games on TV, but you miss the sights and smells of the tailgates, the stirring Blue Band performance, the drum major's flips, the "We are, Penn State" cheer, and the sights and sounds of the game. That is all special and until you experience it, you can't appreciate what it is like. Every Saturday morning I still fight the urge to pack the car, put a sign on the window, and begin the drive to Happy Valley. But that isn't about to happen anymore. At least I have great memories.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Good Bye Summer!

So long to September. Good bye summer. It has been an unusual several weeks around here. Severe storms, earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms, rain, rain, and more rain. We tripled the normal September rainfall amount and broke the all-time record for this area. I am told that we also have already set the all-time record for annual rainfall - and it is only October!. We have recorded over 16 inches at our house in recent weeks - 13 during one storm. Many of us have spent time drying out our basements and cutting grass and cutting grass and cutting grass. I guess you should not have your lawn fertilized if you are going to get record rain. Fortunately, my wife enjoys riding the mower so we have shared the "fun". Actually, in October our lawn looks almost like a golf course - that is amazing. But the excessive moisture has created a problem in our large flower bed in that some disease has quickly spread throughout the bed. We only hope that many of the flowers survive and revive in the spring. But there are two bits of good news from the rain. We have a well and at least right now we shouldn't need to worry about losing our supply of water. PTL! Secondly, last spring we ordered two new pine trees. We were disappointed when the planters didn't arrive until late in July. They gave us instructions that we had to give them a heavy watering, at least once a week. That was a challenge because of the distance of the trees from our house. But guess what? We only had to water them ourselves one time. The good Lord did the rest. Now we have a new challenge. The leaves have begun to fall. Our township collects our leaves free of charge, but they can't contain grass clippings. So since we use our mower to collect our leaves, how are we going to cut the still growing grass and collect the falling leaves? This should be more fun. But we are ready to take on that challenge. However, we aren't ready for the next one which is probably just around the corner - something called snow! That I am not looking forward to. I'd rather cut grass twice a week than shovel the snow. We've already begun to see the wooly caterpillars that are often used to predict the winter weather. They are more reliable than the weather guys. But some of the caterpillars are all light brown and others are all dark brown. We haven't seen the usual stripes that indicate the storms. Maybe they are confused this year as well. Does that mean no snow or does it mean heavy snow all winter? I just hope that it isn't a continuation of August and September! Oh well, whatever the Lord provides. In the meantime I'll just keep working on the grass and the leaves. Despite the work, I do enjoy the fall - my favorite season!