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, November 30, 2012

A Dog Named Norman

A few days ago I went out front to do some chores and I noticed a young mother pushing her child in a stroller.  But what caught my eye was that she also had a dog on a leash.  I was sure it was a Boston Terrier, my favorite dog.  I called out to her and asked if her dog was a Boston.  She replied that it was and that his name was Norman.  When I told her that I had  had two Bostons in my life she unhooked the dog and let him run to me.  At first he was just glad to be free and he ran all around.  But then he settled down and came over to me.  It was a special pleasure to talk to him and rub his neck as I had so often done in the past with my Bostons.  She told me how much they loved Norman and how he was so smart and easy to train.  I fully understood and agreed.  During my life I have had four dogs.  I was only one or two when I had my first one - I'm not even sure what kind he was (small and white) but I think his name was Penny.  About all that I remember is that I saw him run in front of a car and get killed while I stood and watched.  I can still picture that moment.  I never really talked to my parents about Penny and now I wish that I knew more about him.  My mother's brother raised Bostons and that is how we got our second dog, my first Boston, Frisky.  I remember quite a bit more about him since I was probably in first or second grade.  When we lived on the campus of Elizabethtown College Frisky had plenty of room to run but when we moved into Lancaster we first lived in an upstairs city apartment.  Maybe that is why my parents decided to give Frisky away.  We gave him to some friends who lived on Mile Hill in Sunbury.  And I understand that he eventually was killed by a car near their house.  Those two dog experiences were enough for my parents.  Many years later, after we had our boys, a friend gave us a Kerry Blue Terrier, named Peanuts.  He was a show dog who had been raised by a bachelor.  And maybe that is why he liked me and often wasn't too sure about our boys. He was a beautiful dog but you had to be very careful with him when people came to visit.  In fact, one time he attacked one of our son's friends and bit through his heavy winter coat.  He had a problem with tumors and we were shocked one day when Dianne took him to the vet and came back without him.  The vet wanted to do more surgery and she decided, rightfully, that we didn't want to invest any more money in Peanuts.  I often wander if the vet really put him to sleep or if he operated on him and sold him to somebody else.  Then a few years later we got the urge once again and went to a farm to see some Bostons.  We fell in love with the runt of the litter and named him Spike.  Spike charmed our hearts and all of us loved him.  He was intelligent and he was easy to train.  He had just two problems.  First, he loved to lick.  But I think that habit was encouraged by some of our boys who loved his kisses.  The second problem was that our mild mannered dog became a different dog when going to the vet.  He began to shake as soon as we came to the vet's driveway.  He would ignore the vet and we are told that he wasn't very cooperative when we put him in the kennel there.  But Spike was a real part of our family and gave us all many years of good memories.  Then one day he had a seizure.  Later I took him out for a walk.  He always stayed in our backyard but this time he got lost and wondered out front.  Then he couldn't find his way back.  We were all sick as we took him to the vet where we learned that all that could be done would be to give him medicine the rest of his life to calm him down.  We knew that this wouldn't be the Spike we loved and with the recommendation of the vet we decided to have him put down.  I just couldn't stay to watch that and walking out of that room was one of the hardest things I've ever done.  I can still see him looking at me, with his sad eyes, and that thought can still bring tears to my eyes today.  But Spike was our last - no more vet bills, no more messes to clean up, no more kennel expenses.  Instead, everyday I look at a Boston Terrier calendar that I purchase each year.  And once in awhile I have the special joy of seeing and petting another Boston, just like the Norman I met this week.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Two Diaries

Recently one of my blogs talked about differences between people. I thought about that blog when somebody sent me the following story of diaries written by a husband and a wife.  I think you will see the point after you read both of them.

Wife's Diary:
Tonight, I thought my husband was acting weird. We had made plans to meet at a nice restaurant for dinner. I was shopping with my friends all day long, so I thought he was upset at the fact that I was a bit late, but he made no comment on it. Conversation wasn't flowing, so I suggested that we go somewhere quiet so we could talk. He agreed, but he didn't say much. I asked him what was wrong; He said, "Nothing." I asked him if it was my fault that he was upset. He said he wasn't upset, that it had nothing to do with me, and not to worry about it. On the way home, I told him that I loved him. He smiled slightly, and kept driving. I can't explain his behavior I don't know why he didn't say, "I love you, too." When we got home, I felt as if I had lost him completely, as if he wanted nothing to do with me anymore. He just sat there quietly and watched TV. He continued to seem distant and absent. Finally, with silence all around us, I decided to go to bed. About 15 minutes later, he came to bed. But I still felt that he was distracted and his thoughts were somewhere else. He fell asleep -- I cried. I don't know what to do. I'm almost sure that his thoughts are with someone else. My life is a disaster.

Husband's Diary:
Boat wouldn't start, can't figure it out.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Have A Blessed Thanksgiving

Our Beautiful Tree Taken This Week

For the beauty of the earth, 
for the glory of the skies, 
for the love which from our birth 
over and around us lies; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour 
of the day and of the night, 
hill and vale, and tree and flower, 
sun and moon, and stars of light; 
Lord of all, to thee we raise 
this our hymn of grateful praise.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wasted Hours

For many years one of the major Lancaster Country tourist attractions was Willow Valley Restaurant and Inn.  Folks came from all around to stay in this beautiful setting which included a lake, a covered bridge, a golf course, area bus tours, a great bakery, a gift shop, fine rooms and pools, and a great restaurant.  The original owners created a family atmosphere and daily worked there and talked with the visitors who came from all over the world.  It was really Pennsylvania Dutch hospitality at its best.  But over the years things changed.  Younger family members took over and change was inevitable.  The food was expensive and not quite as good or as much as before.  A liquor license was obtained and that was quite a contrast from the days when the restaurant would not open on Sundays.  Then the newer part of the complex with its beautiful atrium was sold to Doubletree.  Then very unexpectedly, about two months ago, all the employees were told that Willow Valley Inn, Restaurant and Bakery would be closed and torn down.  And it would not be rebuilt.  The community was stunned.  Folks who had worked there for many, many years would be unemployed.  A few days ago it was announced that everything in the complex would be sold - signs, bedding, tables, chairs, televisions, toilets, sinks, all the kitchen materials, sheets and pillows, cookware, the salad bar and even the doors - everything.  For up to 30 days, or until all was sold, it would be open for anyone to come and purchase what was left.  The sale was to start on Thursday, November 15. They expect to clear $300,000 from the sale of these items.  When the sale was completed the complex will be demolished with no information about the site's future. The only thing of interest to us at the sale were the 32" Samsung LCD televisions.  They had 160 of them for sale at $165 each.  So we decided to go and see if we could purchase one.  When we arrived there already was a line of well over 200 waiting.  The line quickly doubled and tripled after our arrival.  To control the crowd, they only allowed groups of 50 to enter at one time.  We were in the fifth group and we waited outside for about an hour to gain entrance.  Then we learned that you had to stand in another line to make your purchase and only then would you know if what you wanted was still available.  So we joined the line hoping that they would have one television left when we reached the cashier.  The problem with that was that the line was the whole way through the lobby, down the stairs and into the bakery.  We only had an hour that we could wait since we had other appointments that we couldn't miss.  After about 40 minutes in line, when we had only moved about five yards to the bottom of the steps, I decided to investigate.  It appeared that there were about 100 folks in front of us and it looked like they only had two cashiers.  It then became obvious that we would never get to the cashier in time.  Later we heard that one person waited in line for two hours and I can easily believe that.  So we had no choice but to leave without having a chance to make a purchase.  The company man at the door said they never expected that number of buyers. How stupid could that be - anybody with common sense would know that Lancaster Countians would flock to such a sale, especially from one of the best known establishments in Pennsylvania.  We did return about 3:30 in the afternoon and the line was gone - but so were the televisions.  And maybe that was good since we had no idea how good they were and there was no guarantee and no returns allowed. So in a way it was a gamble.  But there were some other things still to sell - the swinging doors to the bakery were still there and could be had for $450 and the single door there was just $250!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


One of the biggest challenges I had as a teacher was meeting the different learning and personality styles of my students.  For those who were analytical, logical, organized and able to visualize geometrically, math was fun and relatively easy.  But for the many others it was a real challenge and as a teacher I had to work extra hard to try to help them.  As a student, I myself often found myself in such situations in other classes.  Probably you have taken tests to try to learn your style - there are many such tests.  I have taken several and have even administered some.  However, the one that we took at Commander College 201 was one of the best and most meaningful to me.  Through testing we were classified according to one of four colors. Then our team of five was sent out on a project to collect and prepare items for a presentation.  It didn't take us long to see the color styles in action since all four colors were part of our group. It was a great application.  As expected, I was a yellow - an organizer. My wife was a green - a helper.  This really wasn't a surpise to either of us.  It is interesting how the Lord usually puts two contrasting colors together in a good marriage.  We would probably be in trouble and run into many conflicts if we were both yellow.  Fortunately our differences complement each other.  For example, my wife likes to talk to friends on the phone.  They can talk for hours and folks do share with her their needs and prayer requests.  I dislike the phone and will avoid it whenever I can.  I would rather write a letter or an e-mail.  She can meet a person and remember things like what they were wearing and their features, such as their hair color.  I will more often sense things about their personality and sometimes, if I am observant, actually remember that they had hair.  She is good at remembering names.  When we used to work with children at Pinebrook, she could talk to 50 - 60 kids using her Grandma vent figure and by the end of the session she would remember most of their names.  I would go the entire week and not remember half of the names.  I had the same problem with new classes at school and the only way I could beat this problem was to take group pictures of my students.  Then, outside of class I would use the pictures to try and memorize the names. (Note the organization technique.) I learned to play the trombone, logically, by following the music and memorizing where the notes were found on my instrument - very logical, but mechanical.  And I no longer play because I never learned to just sit and play without music and enjoy being creative.  The Lord blessed her with different skills.  She can hear or remember a song and play it on the piano without music.  In fact, often before programs, when she is playing, she'll ask me to whisper the name of a hymn to her and then she'll play it so beautifully, without any music in front of her. We both enjoy jigsaw puzzles, but she prefers to match colors while I prefer to look for particular parts of the picture.  And I could go on and on with examples. Life is interesting because the Creator made us so different.  But if we can't recognize and appreciate that fact, life can be frustrating.  That can especially be the case if the other person is our boss or our spouse or our child.  When we expect them to be the very same as us we are asking for trouble.  I'm sure that many of us could share stories about dealing with a boss who had a contrasting personality style.  My experiences could produce many more blogs, but I guess I won't go there.  But I am reminded of Psalm 139:13-14, "For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb, I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works; and that my soul knows very well."  And also Ephesians 2:10. "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."   It is amazing how the Lord has created us, all different, but with a single purpose and we should never forget that, especially when dealing with others. And, PTL, I am  actually improving on my ability to accept those folks who arrive late for everything, even though it is quite a contrast with my style!

Friday, November 9, 2012

An Interesting Day!

On Tuesday I served as Judge of Elections for the fifteenth time.  Doing the job right involves quite a time commitment.  In addition to attending a training session, I probably spent at least 12 hours in preparation of materials and setting up the precinct.  On the day of election we spent 16 hours and later it took another two hours to return materials, keys and equipment.  I don't get any travel allowance, but I do get some pay, about $3.70 an hour, so obviously I don't do it for the money.  But I am continually amazed at how people act.  Now I know that I shouldn't be, especially after 39 years in public education, but I am.  People ignore signs and directions. They can't get in the proper lanes even if there are three sets of directions posted for each lane.  They can't follow exit signs to leave at the proper place.  Despite a sign at the front door that all cell phones are to be turned off, frequently you hear phones ringing and people talking on them, even in their voting booths.  Now legally, photo ID's were not required this time even though we were asked to request them.  But showing us an ID can actually cut a person's registration time in half.  And that can be so helpful when you are processing nearly 1,500 voters.  So I posted a large 2'x3' yellow sign where I thought voters couldn't miss it which said that ID's weren't required but showing one would speed up their wait time.  It asked them to present one.  The majority did so.  However, many walked right by the sign, that was right at their face level, and didn't read it.  And there were some (guess which party) who loudly exclaimed that they would not show one because they were opposed to it.  Unbelievable!  And their opposition and refusal just slowed things down for them and for the folks behind them in the lines.  Some wondered why we were now using paper ballots, even though this was the 14th election since the lever machines were replaced with paper ballots.  Where have they been?  But my biggest problem came from folks who weren't registered.  Several of them hadn't voted in many years and were no longer on the rolls.  After taking time to call the election office to get an answer, I had to tell them that they didn't vote in the last two federal elections.  A notice had been mailed to each of them warning them about being dropped.  Of course, all said they never received one and several took their disappointment out on me.  One proclaimed that he was a veteran and should be allowed to vote anyway.  Another told me that she can't believe that this would happen in America.  Another told me that this was the way that election outcomes were controlled.  Some had moved, even years ago, but had never had their registration changed.  Because of the possible requirement of photo ID's this year, the media has been filled with announcements urging people to call ahead to make sure that they were registered.  But I guess these folks either don't read or watch tv or just ignored the recommendations.  It was just easier to blame their failure on the government or on me.  After a day like this, you wonder why any volunteers continue to give of their time and energy.  At times it can be a very thankless effort.  In my case, I have decided that I have just two more elections until my term runs out and I am not running again for another four year term.  However, there were some positives.  With a great team of workers we were able to process many voters in a short time.  I doubt that any voter took more than 15 minutes to get through in our precinct.  We did process 175 in the first 45 minutes.  And, thankfully, we finished the day at a reasonable time and all of our figures balanced out correctly the first time.  But even more importantly, this time we did have a few folks who took the time to tell my poll workers "thank you" for serving. That was nice and I am thrilled that many of those working with and for me were recognized in this manner.  I am exhausted but proud that we processed so many efficiently. And, believe it or not, my group allowed me to start the morning with prayer and I think that was why God permitted us to accomplish what we did.  As far as the abuse and blame that was sent my way, I was a teacher for 39 years so this wasn't a new experience.  It seems today that everyone's carelessness is somebody else's fault.  And that is the summary of my 15th election as Judge of Elections - just two more to go!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Precious Memories

Today, November 5, my mother would have been 91.  On Tuesday, November 6,  it will be 19 years since the Lord called her home in an auto accident.  There are some moments of your life that you will never forget.  We were returning from a Penn State football game and stopped in Selinsgrove at my in-laws' house.  My mother-in-law was in the hospital, not doing well, and we planned to visit her before returning home.  As we walked in the door I was told to call my son immediately.  I was stunned to find out that a teenager had driven through a stop sign and had hit my parents broadside.  My mother died instantly and my father was in the hospital.  We jumped back in the car and quickly and silently made the two hour trip to the hospital in Lancaster where we met our family and confirmed what had happened.  The next few days were a blur, making arrangements and visiting dad in the hospital.  He was released in time for the private funeral service.  However, hundreds showed up for the memorial service and we spent hours in line greeting friends who loved mother and were also stunned.  It was easy to wonder "why?" at that time.  But almost two decades later we realize that God's ways, though often unexpected, are always right.  As we've watched other folks age and suffer, often spending years in nursing homes, we realize that mother, and all of us, were spared that agony.  Our final destination of heaven is something that we look forward to, but often the journey to get there is full of pain and suffering.  Mother was spared having to face that.  While dad did suffer some in his final years, he remained active and generally able to take care of himself until the Lord suddenly took him home one morning.  He too was spared the dreaded nursing home.  And as we look back at those events we do remember our emotional pain but also the special peace and wisdom that God provided for us at those times.  But more than that, many years later we have come to see how God was in all the events.  So often we experience events that surprise us and we wonder "why?".  Sometimes it takes years to see how these were really part of God's special plan for our life.  And sometimes we may not understand that until we reach heaven and can comprehend the entire picture of God's plan.  The blessing comes when we face these trials and can reflect upon God's faithfulness to us in the past and then realize that He will not forsake us and that He has a plan for us.  If you are like me, you probably have many "why? questions" that haven't yet been answered.  But we trust an omnipotent, omniscient Father and move on with His grace and strength.  I do miss mother. I have so many fond memories  At times I do feel that I should be able to pick up the phone and call her or visit her as we did on her birthday 19 years ago.  But I don't wish her back and I thank God that He spared her from possible suffering as He welcomed her home to a much better place.  And I do have the hope that I will see her again.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Few Observations

Just a few unrelated observations today.... A few days ago I turned on the news and saw them interview several mothers who were extremely upset that their school district has prohibited Halloween celebrations and the wearing of costumes to school.  They were upset because their kids were going to miss an "important" part of their schooling.  They wouldn't have the opportunities that their older brothers and sisters had experienced.  My reaction?  Congratulations to the schools who have taken that stand.  I think there are many more important experiences to provide for children than dressing up in a costume, especially those which represent the Satanic world. And what about those families who can't afford these fancy costumes, especially with today's economy. Are these same mothers protesting the elimination of things like Christmas carols and Christmas and Easter celebrations?  I sincerely doubt it.  And it is so sad that TV picks out folks like this to interview and seldom those who have the opposite views.  Such is the world that we live in today. ....  As we've walked mornings at Park City we have noticed some interesting happenings over the years.  One of those observations has to do with the lines that sometime form outside of stores when new products are first introduced.  The biggest lines are those that form when new sneakers or new Apple products are introduced.  Usually Park City provides extra security and ropes to keep the lines orderly.  And the lines grow as soon as the mall opens, two hours before the stores actually open.  But here is what we have observed numerous times.  When a new sneaker is introduced the lines are predominately made up of Afro-Americans.  When a new iPod or IPhone is introduced, the majority of shoppers in line are Asian.  In fact, when the new mini iPad came out a few days ago it appeared for three days that everybody waiting in line was Asian. However, we did find Caucasians standing in line - at 7:30 am at the grocery store, stocking up for the big storm .... Finally, I am following with some interest the new Keystone Exams that are being introduced this year in high schools throughout the state.  This year all juniors will be required to take these new tests in Literature, Biology and Algebra I. It doesn't matter if the student took Algebra I years ago in seventh, eighth or ninth grade.  They must still take the test this year.  Other students who are taking these courses now will be required to take them this year.  And, beginning with the Class of 2017, the students will need to pass these exams to graduate.  It is interesting since I had to fight with a former boss to even offer algebra to all students and now they will need to pass an Algebra I exam to graduate.  But the negative part of this new testing program is that students will be required to spend more valuable school time taking standardized tests.  More and more teachers will be forced to take time to prepare students for these tests rather than challenging them with many topics and applications that used to be part of a solid high school program.  But I guess this is what society really wants - measuring "success" by standardized testing.  Test, test, test! And it is just one more example of topdown decision making.  The history of education in Pennsylvania is that a governor and his cohorts decide what they think is best for schools and then pass laws to require their ideas.  And these people have never spent even a day trying to teach in a public school classroom.  But they have all the answers, afterall they once were students.  After winning the Presidential Award several years ago I had the opportunity to work with educators from all over the country.  As we compared issues, it was obvious that our state's educational leadership was sad and at times almost laughable.  In PA, education has  always been a political issue and not an educational issue and that is why we continue to lag behind others.  But then, that is no longer my problem to deal with.  And knowing my grandchildren and their abilities, I am sure that they will be able to successfully handle these new Keystone tests.  But I wonder about the very large mass of students who won't.