Springtime Here, Memories, A Friends Last Need is a Thing to Heed

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.   Spring has arrived at the EastWing, but winter never really came by this year, so I guess we just kinda dodged the winter bullet. Just another reason to thank God for taking care of ya when ya needed it most.   With the spiraling cost of travel, gas prices upwards toward $4.00 per gallon, an unusually mild winter brings much lower heating costs, so the gas price impact has not been as devastating as could have been here in the flat lands of northern Indiana. God, and small favors, gotta love it. But from here on into the future we’ll know the difference, and we’ll be mad, and we’ll yell foul.   Had a acquaintance pass away back in January of this year.  It hard to lose a friend, but it’s time I told ya about Tom Boldenweck. Tom was a friend of mine. An old warrior who served in WWII. One of the very last of that “Greatest Generation” Those old soldiers are dying off at a rate of some 3,000 per day. Soon they’ll all be gone, and with them the “Greatest Generation”.   My friend Tom was a warrior and a pacifist. Like most of those who’s ever looked into the very face of death, they hope never to see it again. And so they prey, no more wars, Lord, no more wars. Tom spent his life in the pursuit of peace and justice for all. I guess in some ways I’d consider Tom right up there with Superman in his pursuit of “ Truth, Justice, and The American Way”   Tom was a retired college professor, an artist who loved to create art in the style of graphite line drawings, had owned an art gallery in Chicago, lived one winter in the North Woods of Michigan where the potty was outside, and ya had to keep the seat inside in order to stay warm, had toured Europe by bicycle, was a published author, and a dear friend.   Tom asked me to read and comment on one of his books. I did. It was a “high brow” type book on the architectural aspects of the great Catholic Cathedrals of Europe. Tom had studied architecture as a young man and always wanted to see those old Catholic Cathedrals up close and personal, so he did, and wrote a book about each and every one he visited. I read Tom’s book and didn’t know what the hell he was even talking about.   It was a book that was destined to forever remain in the academic world. After telling Tom his book was to me, as exciting as reading Dick and Jane all over again, Tom smiled and said he’d been  happy if it sold 2,000 worldwide. Tom’s book sales exceeded this expectations.  But to me, an uneducated hillbilly, it was still liken to Dick and Jane all over again. But I’m not an architect.   I didn’t know Tom for most of his life. But I knew him for the end game. I knew ‘em when he was old enough to tell the stories, and tell ‘em good. And so he did, tell the stories. We traded stories, me and Tom, lots of times we traded stories. And sometimes we even drank the whisky.   When I first met Tom he thought the only alcohol fit for human consumption was vodka. I introduced Tom Boldenweck to Kentucky Bourbon. The last time Tom and I shared a drink, it was Makers Mark, the premier Bourbon produced in the world today, Tom’s words, not mine, but I did agree.   The last two years of Tom’s life were spent at the Indiana Veterans Home in Lafayette Indiana. I cannot say enough good words to describe the care and comfort this place provided to my dear friend Tom Boldenweck.   Tom and I had a deal, that upon his death I’d tell the world of how he  really felt about the Indiana Veterans Home. When it was time to do so, I kept my end of the deal.  I just hope my friend Tom would have approved of the words I chose to speak. I believe he would have approved.   After I spoke at Tom’s Memorial Service there at the Indiana Veterans Home, I was asked if I had a copy of what I’d said so it could be shared with the whole staff. I’d not write or rehearse a speech for Tom’s Memorial Service. I just  simply stood up and told the story as Tom and I had agreed that I would. And so as final tribute to my friend Tom, I’ll share with you what I’ve sent to the staff of the Indiana Veterans Home. For those of you who may have shared this before, please forgive the duplication here.   Below is what I wrote the employees and volunteer works at the Indiana Veterans Home as a final message from Tom Boldenweck:   Greeting to the Staff and Volunteers of the Indiana Veterans Home. A friend of mine has just recently spent the last two years of his life in your most gentle care. Tom Boldenweck died on January 10, 2012. A memorial service was held on Feb 17th in the Chapel and I was in attendance. The crowd was not large, in fact, some may even consider it small. I did not consider the crowd small. Those in attendance were lives that had been touched by Tom Boldenweck. The size of the crowd was just right. The Chaplin, a kind and gentle man, even though I met him for the first time the day of Tom’s Memorial Service, I do know when you meet those doing God’s work the way it must be done, it shows.  A Chaplin for the old warriors, a kind and gentle man. I also met for the first time one of Tom’s caregivers. She cried and told me how much she had come to love Tom during the time he had been at the Veterans Home. We hugged, and we shared a tear, and a memory of an old man. Pat and Jerry, the volunteers who provide many hours of service to the Veterans Home, and the ones who Tom insisted I come down and meet some day, they too were at the Memorial Service  for Tom. Special friends of Tom. Tom and I talked of Pat and Jerry often. The very first time I visited Tom after he arrived here he told me how excited he was to be where he was at this stage of his life. The last two decades had not been kind to Tom Boldenweck, he so needed a safe harbor for the remainder of his life. Thank God the Indiana Veterans Home provided that safe harbor. It was on my third visit that Tom and I discussed what I would say when he passed. Tom had a message for the staff and the volunteers. A message so sincere and so touching, Tom didn’t feel he could adequately convey his true feelings of appreciation for what you people were doing for him and his wife, Ann. It was only after the Chaplin had read the prayers, we’d sang the song, and everyone present had an opportunity to say whatever they wanted to say about their memory of Tom, and then it was my turn to speak what I had come there to say. Tom didn’t believe that, in life, he could ever sufficiently convey this message of gratitude and thankfulness to  his caretakers, all . And so we agreed, Tom and me, we agreed that I’d carry his message. That I’d tell the world about Tom’s thoughts on such matters after he passed on.  One of the very last emails from Tom reminded me that “sooner more so than later, you’ve got things to say”. I told Tom I remembered, and when the time came, I’d go tell it on the mountain,  and I  hoped later than sooner. It was sooner. I spoke on behalf of Tom Boldenweck when I expressed his gratitude to the staff and the volunteers for the care, the love, the friendship, and the compassion which had been extended to  an old soldier and his wife. I spoke on behalf of Tom Boldenweck when I told of Tom’s joy at just being in all of your company. Thru me, Tom thanked each and every one of you for making the end years of his life so much more pleasant that the decade before. Thru me, Tom Boldenweck thanked you all for the care given to his wife Ann. Care so much needed and all the while Tom being unable to provide. On what was to be my final visit with Tom, he told me his only regret at the Indiana Veterans Home was that he had not come ten years sooner. That way he would just have had that much more time to spend with all of you. Tom loved his home there, and he charged me with making sure that you knew that he loved all of you. It’s my prayer, as I reflect on the memory of my dear friend Tom Boldenweck, that I have carried out his wishes to put into words his deepest and most sincere appreciation to each and every staff member as well as all the volunteer workers who are all the people that make the Indiana Veterans Home what it is today. As I reflect on my friend Tom, and on his journey into immortality, hopefully going in the right direction, in any event, surely  making lots of friends along the way. And all the while telling stories about his Indiana home, up there on the Banks of the Wabash, far away. Stay safe in Afghanistan.   From the EastWing, Springtime Here, Memories, A Friends Last Need is a Thing to Heed I wish you well, BobbyRay  Howard   And now for the latest project from the EastWing, just going together as of right this very minute.  I sure hope all of you will join in and support:   HELP THE TORNADO SURVIVORS OF SALYERSVILLE KENTUCKY On Friday March 2nd a massive Tornado destroyed a major portion of Salyersville Kentucky, and surrounding areas.  Many, many families  have lost their homes and all their worldly possessions.  We must now act as soon as possible.   Here in Starke County, Salyersville KY is surely the most recognized name of any town in Kentucky. Most everyone in Starke County either have relatives from Salyersville or know someone who have relatives from Salyersville. The time has come to help those friends and family.   We urgently need:  Money, Clothes, Bottled Water, Personal hygiene items, Shoes, Coats, Pots and Pans, Pillows and Blankets, Canned Food and most everything else you can imagine.    (Just picture yourself losing everything you own on this Earth, everything. Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about, ya need a lot.)     You can bring your donations to Pioneer Florist in North Judson or Robert Howard Co. in North Judson. Any questions, just call Regina at 896-5421 or Bob at 896-2221 If you can help in the transportation end of this mission, we need to know that too.   Together we will make a difference in Salyersville, and they’ll know we are Christian by our deeds.   For your help, for your prayers, for your donations, on behalf of those in most dire need, I thank you all. BobbyRay

Mini Winter, Tiffany Chicken, Fair Share, Who Really Pays, Cat Questions, Hope And Change And Gasoline.

Greeting to all and welcome to my new friends to the EastWing.

The winter time came and went, and no bad winter weather really ever came along. WOW! Never in my life have I seen a winter like this. It’s truly a winter for the ages.  I loved this winter in the flat lands of Indiana. Before we visit again it’ll be spring time in the valley according to the time line of the EastWing. March 1st = SPRING!

And before ya know it, why  even the hummingbirds, yeah hummingbirds, they’ll  be back again in the valley, and the joys of summer will be bursting out all over. Why it’s not even spring and I’m talking ‘bout summer. Shewwww.  I love spring time, and I love summer. But this winter’s been kinda cool too.  It’s been mini winter.

I just go the most beautiful Tiffney Chicken ever. And what’s so special, it’s just like the lamp, this Tiffney Chicken too has a light. It’s a lamp, that Tiffney Chicken. A dear friend of mine walked into my office the other day and brought me the Tiffney Chicken along with a wall plaque for the She which said “ He rules the roost, but I rule the rooster”. I hate when that happens. But ya gotta love the She, ‘cause maybe the She does rule the rooster. Oh well, what the She does, the She does.

“Bob, what’s my fair share to pay to the federal government in taxes?” I was asked that question last week by a person whom I’ve been preparing 1040 tax returns for the last two decade.  Now this person has never paid a single penny in income tax in 20 years, and has always received a large refund from the Federal Government upon my filing the tax returns on his behalf.

When I pointed out that he had not ever paid income tax, he was astounded. The person truly had no clue that he had never paid income tax. His thoughts were, they hold out taxes every paycheck, so I’m paying taxes. The fact that his annual refund was well in excess of his total payments from this paycheck never made a connection. In his mind, he paid Federal Income Tax every week. He did not.

For half the working people in our nation, “fair share” means paying almost no income taxes at all. What’s never once been said in a public statement by the President of the United States is the true fact that the top 10 percent income earners in this county pay about 70%  percent of federal income taxes collected by the IRS. While the bottom 50 percent of tax filers, well, those folks, they pay almost no federal income tax at all. They pay a little less that 3 percent of federal income taxes collected by the IRS.

The Presidents phrase that everyone should “pay your fair share of taxes” has become something of a political buzz word. He’s used the expression in dozens of speeches, beginning back in his State of Union address in January. Like many “buzz lines” of this nature, it does not in any way expose the facts of where the actual taxes are collected, and more importantly who really pays the taxes.

Now for many of the people who pay no taxes, the government also allows “refundable” tax credits, which means even if ya owe no taxes ya get the money back the same as if you paid it in to begin with. Now how in the hell did that system get into our tax collection process?

I bet some of you are not going to believe this, but it’s true and easily verified that  almost a hundred billion dollars in checks  are sent out by the IRS to folks who have no tax liability at all. So now that makes the IRS a spending agency of the Federal Government, more so than a tax collection agency.

Another way to look at this matter is half of the people who don’t pay anything in federal income taxes — about half of them pay less than zero. Think about that statement, paying less than zero. Only in America, ya can pay less than zero. And I always thought zero was nothing. Not so in the United States “fair share” tax system. Pay zero tax, and you get paid for doing so.

The system is tilted even more toward those in the middle class and below because they also get services from the federal government. As a result the per capita value of government spending exceeds what those individuals pay in  federal taxes, by a large margin. Paying less than zero. Wow!

“Right now about 70 percent of Americans take more out of the tax system than they put in. That’s something that should really scare a lot of people. Sad to say I don’t think it does. I don’t think many even have a clue that it’s going on, or it’s long term potential of financial disaster

The policies that left so many people paying no income taxes have been supported by presidents of both parties for a long time, and despite what Americans tell pollsters they believe is fair, that’s not how it still works.

The Presidents insistence that “we all pay our fair share” does absolutely nothing to address this matter other than try to the rest of us to gang up on the 10% in our society who are already paying 70% of the income tax collected.

Just today Sophia The Calico Conservative Cat  asked me is this class warfare or stupidity on the part of those proposing “we all pay our fair share”?  What’s your fair share? Do ya pay any income tax at all?  If not, have ya paid your fair share? Do you want to?  Do ya support the President’s position that we all need to pay our fair share? Or would ya rather have a refund more than the amount ya paid in to begin with? I don’t even know why the cat asked stuff like this. Damn Republican Cat.

It’s interesting to note that about 66% of Americans  still think that everybody should pay something. That has been demonstrated by survey time and time again. So I guess it does mean that most of the people still remember that our government isn’t free. On the other hand, it’s kinda sad to think we may still have some 33% among us who feel that society owes ‘em a living. Should that % go above 50%, God Save The Queen.

How’s these gas prices working out for ya? Kinda like that “Hope and Change” from a few years back, remember that? Gas was $1.85 in 2008. Now that “Hope and Change of 2008” it’s now hope the gas price doesn’t change again.

It was just last Thursday the President proposed that we increase tax on the “big oil” companies.  One of the things that accounts like me seem to understand more so than people not working with numbers every day is that it makes so much sense  if you increase the cost of doing business on a company, such as impose additional taxes, the price of the product will be reduced to the end consumer.

I’m sure that’s what the President is thinking when he’s talking about taxing the “Big Oil” companies. Why he’s thinking they’ll then lower the price of their gas, because that got to pay higher taxes, and he’s just looking out for us “little guys” and our concern about higher gas prices. That must have been the “hope and change” thing all along. Shewwwwww, and I never saw it coming.  Damn!  I hate when that happens.

From the EastWing, Mini Winter, Tiffany Chicken, Fair Share, Who Really Pays, Cat Questions, Hope And Change And Gasoline.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

2 Day Winters, Labels, Gluten & Going To Hell, An Old Army Friend, Attack Cats, EastWing Duties, Pit Bull Inc.

Greeting to all and welcome new visitors to the EastWing.

Yet another little taste of winter. Two weeks of mild, 2 days of winter, WE even had ice and snow this time  around, then  another bout of oh so mild. I don’t know how much more of this oh so  mild crap I can take in one winter. J  Now I don’t care who ya are, ya gotta love oh so mild in the flat lands of northern Indiana this time of the year.

Don’t know if I told ya, but I convinced the She to let me keep my Blue Christmas Lights year round in the EastWing. SWEET! Yeah, I’ve got the little blue icicle lights on the center east windows of the EastWing. It don’t get much better than that. Little lighting bugs in a jar outside by the flagpole out there by the mail box along the road on 800 south, at Christmas time, and now the prospect of Blue Christmas Lights in July. Life is good here in the EastWing. The Gods of Smile have themselves descended upon the face of BobbyRay.

LABELS ! Ever notice how much labels control our lives? Yeah, they do, they really do. Everywhere ya look, labels. Labels control pretty much the way we think about everything. We think the tell us lots, they tell us very little, to nothing. We label people, we label things, we label all our stuff. Why I’m even damn proud to be called a hillbilly. But there was a time that the label of hillbilly here in Starke County Indiana was a stigma.

Then the stigma became the standard when we became the majority population, thank you very much.  So how do ya say “in your face”? Is that a label or a face?  Now being hillbilly in Starke County Indiana is kinda like Star Bellied Sneeches. Don’t know ‘bout Star Bellied Sneeches? That’s another story, someday soon, Lord, someday soon.

Democrat, Republican, Christian, Lite, Giant Size, Supersize, Mini, Goldbricker, Gold-digger, Saints & Sinners, they’re labels all.   We label people. Macho Man, Pretty Woman, Big Boy, Fat Cat,  Big Dog, Sneaky Snake. We label animals, Fat Cat, Big Dog, Sneaky Snake, Big Boy. We label stuff, Diet, Fat-Free, New & Improved, Jumbo, Extra Jumbo, Shrimp.

But my personal favorite of all the labels I’ve ever seen in the whole world  is “Gluten Free”. Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a clue what in the world Gluten is anyway. But it just seems so reassuring to me when I find something is “Gluten Free”. It’s like a breath of fresh air, to be gluten free.

It was just this past Friday that my son Johnny and I found ourselves having a late lunch at a Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Lafayette IN. Johnny paid the tab and as a special treat, he bought two “Buck Eye”  candies.  Sure enough, right there on the label of that Buck Eye, “Gluten Free” I’m sure the lack of Gluten contributed to the unique taste of that Buck Eye.

I’m just trying to remember if, back in the day, when I was in fact, a Buck Eye on campus, if what we ate had gluten. It may well have, but it didn’t matter back then, ‘cause ya couldn’t taste gluten then. I guess today ya can.

As for the fans of Gluten, let me say, I’m not saying it’s good or it’s bad, I’m just saying I don’t even know what the hell Gluten is.  But Lord if I have to judge Gluten, let me it lots of room, ‘cause it I have to error, I pray it be on the side of Gluten. Gluten Free, Shewwwwww.

I no sooner wrote the above paragraph ‘bout praying on gluten, than realized I would most likely get some really nasty emails from a group of EastWing friends out there in west Kansas who, seem to me, to just sit in those rolling hills  and wait for me to mess up and say something that’s gona send me straight to hell. Talking ‘bout Gluten might be one of ‘em. I’ve been accused of blasphemy so many times from Kansas, it’s like that ducks back  and the water deal, that rolling off thing.

To me, what’s humor and what’s blasphemy, is sometimes just in the eye of the beholder. I’m beholding to the position that not a single word has ever, even remotely ever, come close to blasphemy from the EastWing keyboard. Humor, I’ve attempted, from time to time. And just every once in a while, it shows to someone else, but blasphemy, give me a break here, I preach the gospel according to BobbyRay. Blasphemy. Uh Oh, I forgot, a while back somebody said that BobbyRay preaching the gospel was blasphemy. Damn, I hate when that happens!

Last week I had in my office, a tax client, and a good friend, the person responsible for me telling the original story of the “Pop Bottle Wars of Toto” several years ago.  We talked about that Army, and about that war.  It was so much fun to visit with an old friend. To talk about times long since gone. To retell the stories, to relive the stories, to once again walk the streets of downtown Toto as a child of the night on Halloween. To get candy in a bag. To get unwrapped popcorn balls sticking to your candy in that bag. To once again trick or treat in downtown Toto.

It was a time when you picked up the telephone and spoke to a lady who would connect you to the person you wanted to talk to, to begin with. It was a time without WKVI Radio, or even South Bend Television. The speed of news was sometimes measured in days, not seconds. And it served society well.

It was a time when people visited each other’s home, and talked, just talked, not texted, not emailed, not facebooked, talked. In person, talked to each other. It was a time when visit meant family, visit meant fun, or visit meant company’s coming over. Either way it was an exciting time.

We talked about the Toto Volunteers, that rag-tag army I put together there back in the day. The Army that so gallantly fought for the everlasting freedom of Trick-or-Treat in downtown Toto.  The same Volunteers who bravely waged the “Pop Bottle Wars of Toto”. Of how it felt to be a proud member of the Toto Volunteers. We were proud, we were one, we were army. We were The Toto Volunteers. We still are. It’s a single word, family.

A few days ago a one page document arrived in my email that sent chills down my spine, and I’m still trying to determine the source of this document. It may have come from the Federal Government, maybe USDA, maybe Health and Human Services. It could have a more clandestine origin, maybe the CIA, or the FBI.  I think it could have even come from the Office of Home Land Security.

Tis a safety warning released to the general public. It’s designed to ward off death and mayhem in our society. It’s truly a public safety announcement. Its purpose is to issue fair warning to unsuspecting victims across our nation. It list six very simple steps which, when observed in total,  can alert one to impending doom. This document is a terrorist alert notification of the highest level released to the general public. A warning that cannot be ignored. Your very life may very well hang in the balance. It’s just that important. 

So as a public service, I feel compelled to share this vital information with all my EastWing friends. Do not, I repeat, do not ignore this vital safety information, and take appropriate action to ensure your own personal survival.

The document is simply titled:

HOW TO TELL IF YOUR CAT IS PLOTTING TO KILL YOU

1.       KNEADING YOU   Now you may think this is a sign of affection, but your cat is actually checking your internal organs for weakness and strike points.

 

2.    HIDING IN THE DARK PLACES AND WATCHING YOU.   Your cat will hide and observe you in your natural    habitat, in order to learn your routine, and determine when best to attack.

3.    EXCESSIVE SHOVELING OF KITTY LITTER. After using the litter box, you cat kicks kitty litter around for no purpose at all, with most of it going onto the floor, this is practice for burying a body.

 

4.   SLEEPING ON computer KEYBOARD Your cat knows that humans have superior technology and as such, will attempt to cut off all of your communications with the outside world. When isolated you’re more vulnerable and easier to attack.

5.   STARING CONTESTS  Should you get caught in a staring contest with your cat, do not, repeat do not, look away. Looking away will signal to the cat that you are weak and an attack is most likely to follow shortly.

6.   SPRINTING AT LIGHT SPEED OUT OF ANY ROOM YOU MAY ENTER Whenever your cat does this, it’s actually a failed ambush. Your luck had held once again.

When I shared this document with Sophia, she didn’t smile, she didn’t run away, she just crawled over on my lap and started kneading my belly. So I’m keeping an eye on Sophia, just in case. What really worries me is the fact that Sophia seems to meet every one of the six warning signs. When I asked her about that, she just smiled, and you all know what I’ve thought about Sophia’s smile in the past.  Damn Republican Cat.

Now as for Sophia, I don’t know if I should hug,  or shoot her. But it’s hard to shoot a cat that smiles at ya..

I’m thinking it’s time everybody in the EastWing share some responsibility for the operation of the EastWing. And so specific duties have been assigned to everyone.

 The Gray Lady, the Gray Lady is in charge of peace and tranquility, harmony and beauty in the EastWing. Of all things pretty is the realm of the Gray Lady James.

My darling Pup Baby, Mustina, Bless Her Little Heart, she’s good for nothing ‘cept be your dog, dog. And so the Pup Baby, Mustina James,  is officially identified at the EastWing Dog.

Sophia, The Calico Conservative Cat is in charge of all things political in the EastWing, while Spike, the Man Cat, is now the Official Mayor of Kitty City.

Bentley, the 90 lb Pit Bull, Bentley, well, Bentley’s in charge of Home Land Security. I no longer lock the front door when I go to work, I just hang out the sign on the door knob. The sign says:

No Locks, No Alarms, Just Security Provided by PIT BULL INC. “Come On  in Punk, Make My Day

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, 2 Day Winters, Labels, Gluten & Going To Hell, An Old Army Friend,  Attack Cats, EastWing Duties, Pit  Bull Inc.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

From The EastWing, Bitching Doctors & Lawyers, Toto Strangers From 1959, Puff & Stuff, Sophia In Living Color, The 6th Sense In The EastWing.

Greeting to all, and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

From time to time I’ll stick a nerve with something that’ll set somebody steaming over something I’ve said. And so it was with my comments on doctors and lawyers. It was pointed out that both professions have spent many years training and many dollars on education in order to pursue their chosen profession.  To me that argument doesn’t hold sway. Many professionals spend just as much time and dollars in pursuit of their professions.

So don’t give me the time and dollars argument to justify  a given profession, that’s carp. I know too many people who have put in both the time and dollars into a different direction.   Had I chose to do so, for all the time and dollars I’ve spent on education, I could’ve been both a lawyer and a doctor. Now that’s a kinda cool thought. Why you could even sue yourself for medical malpractice.  But I don’t think ya could call yourself as a medical expert in the same case. But maybe the lawyer side could figure out a way.

Now about that stranger who started living with my family in downtown Toto back in 1959. WOW ! talk about comments! Seems damn near everybody knows him. He lived with lots. His influence on my family was typical for most all of us who came in contact. He changed our lives. And we’re still trying to decide, for the better or worse. No question about the change, just a question of the direction.

Also had a party give me a little shot for my remarks on the direction of health care. Pointing out the level of technological advances and the fact that my reference to the surgeon / population study had been done before I claimed to have written the paper at the Ohio State University. 

What I didn’t point out, at first, was the fact that I completed my research using data gleaned from Lake, Porter, Marshal, St. Joseph, Starke and Pulaski Counties in Indiana, and compared it to the national data. What I also did not point out was the fact that my data exposed a higher instance of surgery than the national average for a like group. And at the same time it also exposed a higher level of undesirable outcomes for such a like group.

The study changed the way one hospital granted surgical privileges to general practice physicians.  My study didn’t change the world, but it changed a little smidgen of the world. Like many things in life, if ya have the courage to do something,  some will be happy and some will be unhappy.

Those who encouraged me to pursue such an undertaking were most happy, those who were adversely affected then became most unhappy.  Seems I remember a Baptist Preacher telling me, “truth will stand when the world’s on fire”. I can attest to the fact that truth can start a fire. Can also attest the fact that truth will stand within the fire.  Been there, done that. Didn’t even feel the heat. Truth standing.

Did ya ever see a bird play with the wind? Not play in the wind, play with the wind. A few days ago I had the sincere privilege  of watching a hawk  play with the wind. The hawk was about 200 feet above the ground, over in the 40 acre field, straight in front of the south EastWing windows. He was lined up a little to the east of the flag pole out there by the road, so I had a stationary object to measure the hawk’s position relative to the earth.

The wind came from the west at 18 mph and the hawk, with this wings fully out stretched, hung as if suspended in mid air. Beyond the hawk, in the southern sky, the clouds moved west to east, with the wind, to allow  yet another prospective of measurement for the wind as well as the stationary position of the hawk in relationship to the flag pole and the clouds. 

For 10 minutes or more I watched this bird of prey playing with the wind. His wings never flapped, they seldom tilted. He rode the wind. He split the wind. He played in the sunshine on a windy winter day. And when he was done playing, he flipped over on this left side, dived toward the earth and flew away. I was truly glad we’d shared a moment, me and that hawk, even if the hawk  never knew I was watching.

One thing for sure, when I wrote “Where have all the Flowers Gone?”  Wow! Did that bring out the old hippie questions  or what! So I’’ just respond to all of ‘em as a group.  No, I’m not an old hippie. Yes I know some old hippies. No I never done any of that hippie “acid” stuff. Yes I know about Woodstock. Yes I do know the real meaning of Puff the Magic Dragon.

It’s amazing to me how many know about Puff the Magic Dragon, and how few know about the true story of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”. Do you know about that?

Some have the belief that the “Twelve Days of Christmas” was a secret code for prosecuted Christians in England. It was not. In fact, the Twelve Days of Christmas is not English at all, but rather a French Folk song of ancient   origin. Came to England in the late 1500’s  and then to America in the early 1900’s to be used as a part of a school pageant.  But Puff the Magic Dragon, out ranks ‘em all when it comes to knowing the secret meaning of the words. Guess it must be the magic of the smoke when Cannabis meets  a flame. Puff, a Magic Dragon.

Don’t remember if I told ya about the apple orchard. Well I’ve got six hardy apple trees growing in the same pot as the orange grove.  The apple trees are almost 4 inches, while the orange is a little over 6”. Gona have to transplant everything into each separate pot in the next couple weeks.  Just don’t want to run the risk of people accusing me of mixing apples and oranges. Lord knows  enough people criticize what I say anyhow, without mixing apples and oranges. Shewwwwww

All that criticism is probably the main reason why I’m often too shy to write what I really think and seldom ever make any public comments that would tend to polarize one’s thought process in a position contrary to my own. Yeah, Right!

  With that being said, Sophia The Conservative Calico Republican Cat tends to share a different point of view.  Not only is the cat unconcerned about the feeling of those who may hold a different view point, she really don’t care about a different point of view by anybody.  I don’t even know why me and Sophia get along. It’s a love / hate relationship, I love her and she hates me. Damn Republican Cat.

Did ya ever hear people say that animals have a 6th sense? Well they do.   At least all those of the EastWing do. In the last six months I’ve developed a chronic medical condition which has to be dealt with forever in the future. Before any member of my family was aware of what was happing within  my body, they all knew, the 2girldogs,  Bentley, Spike The Man Cat, and Sophia, they all knew. I don’t know how, they just did.

I say they all knew, because as this condition progressed, they drew closer to me. Closer, in the fact that they all wanted to be in physical contact with me at all times when  I was in their presence. They all wanted to touch me. At first I didn’t know why, but as time went on, and the condition progressed, I figured it all out. They just knew. Now when I sit, we all sit as a group. I touch ‘em all, and we’re all happy. We just are, everyday, we’re happy. We hug a lot more now than we used to, me and those with that 6th sense.

The Gray Lady James, the Matriarch of the EastWing, has forever been  afraid to show too much  emotions based on the fact that she was so abused as a young girl. She had in the past, been content to be comfortable in the safe and warm surroundings of the EastWing. That’s not the case anymore. Now I must hold the Gray Lady tight and hug her often in the EastWing. And so we do, me and the lady, we hug a lot.

Bentley, the Pit Bull, who so much reminds me of “Lambert, The Sheepish Lion” Bentley also knew. I say Bentley knew solely by the change in the way he reacted to me. I don’t know if Bentley figured it out by himself, or the Gray Lady told ‘em all, either way he got the message. Bentley knew.

The Pup Baby, Mustina, bless her little heart, she knew. The Pup Baby was the very first to know. ‘Cause me and the Pup Baby, we’ve dealt with life and death stuff before. The Pup Baby  was the first to know and it showed.

The love / hate relationship between me and Sophia The Damn Republican Cat, well that still exist. Except for one thing. Now, every night, every single night, after the lights are turned out, after my bedside  TV  there on the wall is shut off, Sophia comes to me in the darkness.  She positions herself close enough to my face to allow her whiskers to feel my presence in the dark. Her whiskers must touch my face. And somewhere in that darkness of every single  night I feel the rasp of Sophia as she licks the end of my nose. Damn Republican Cat. She too knows. As does Spike The Man Cat. They all know. I don’t know how, they just know. Do I believe that animals have a 6th sense? Come the EastWing and I’ll show ya proof.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, Bitching Doctors & Lawyers, Toto Strangers From 1959, Puff & Stuff, Sophia In Living Color, The 6th Sense In The EastWing.

I Wish You Well,

BobbyRay

Winter Mild, The She & The Newt, The Kitty City Blizzard, Al Gore & Sherlock Homes, Fear & Envy, Dirt Digging & When Ya Just Gotta Shovel

Greeting to al and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

Less than a 25 days till March 1st !!! YAH! If ya have to say nice things about winter, besides Christmas, of course, then this winter has been SWELL! Cold a few days, warm up into the 30’s & 40’s. Snow a little bit, and warm up and melt the snow. Such a swell winter. It don’t get better than this.

Why, I even had a friend in Florida tell me if I could guarantee her this kinda winter all the time, she’d even consider moving back to Cleveland. But I think she was pulling my leg. ‘Case this girl’s got lizards that must be native to that part of the world, growing wild in her yard. They get on her screen door and she names ‘em. I don’t think she pets ‘em, just names ‘em. Now no body gona move back to Cleveland when ya can live in Florida and name lizards.

I’ve never had a pet lizard. One time I did have a newt. No, not the candidate, the animal. Kinda reminds ya of a lizard. It’s an air breathing aquatic animal, the newt. One time the She got out bed in the dark and stepped on the newt.

A blood curdling scream woke me from a sound sleep and I hit the floor running. I was sure someone or something was attempting to seal my new bride of two whole weeks and I was damn well prepared to defend her with my life.

When I did managed to get the lights turned on, the poor She was standing with one foot off the floor, saying “I stepped in something really bad”. Hanging from between her beautiful toes, lifted off the floor, were the remains of the very, very recently deceased newt. I laughed.

One of the explanations why me and the She have been married for so long is that I’ve never made the same mistake twice. I learned early on in our relationship, ya don’t laugh when the She steps on your newt in the dark. Ya just don’t, it’s not in your best interest to laugh when the She steps on your newt in the dark. A lesson well learned, early. That may have been my first lesson learned in our young marriage. It was defiantly my last newt.

Was the 20th day of January before we got any appreciable amount of snow at the EastWing this winter. The January 20th blizzard at Kitty City will go down in the annuls of Kitty City weather lore as comparable to the Chicago Blizzard of “67”. Everything being relevant, Kitty City was also overwhelmed by Mother Nature. 8 inches of snow at Kitty City was “snow as high as your head”. Now I don’t care who ya are, “as high as your head”, that’s a big snow.

The weather forecast for two days after the Kitty City Blizzard was for the temperature to rise to 40°. So with that in mind, there would be no big rush to plow away the snow at the EastWing. At Kitty City it was a different type emergency. After all, “snow as high as your head”, a snow plow came to the rescue of Kitty City, one shovel full at a time. The last shovel had hardly been pushed away when the cats came out to play.

They ran and they played, they chased each other in the snow. Played cat hockey on the snow covered ice atop the swimming pool cover, made cat angels in the snow. It was the first time I ever saw a snow angel with a tail. It was kinda cool.

They ate like little piggy’s and drank from the never frozen, never empty water bowl. When the Cats of the North Deck are happy, The EastWing is happy. Sophia still considers ‘em slum cats of the north deck, but they’re friends of mine. Guess I too, have friends in low places.

With the January 20th snow storm, I’ve come to the conclusion that all my inside pets are really wimps when it comes to adverse weather. They don’t go outside and play in the snow. They’re content to just watch the big TV in the WestWing or hang with me in the EastWing, anything except go outside in the bad weather. Only when nature calls do they venture even close to the door. Then when they must go outside, they tiptoe. Did ya ever see a cat tiptoe?

One of the really fun things that I watch from the EastWing on any cold winter afternoon are the jet planes in the air approaching and leaving Chicago. Seems the EastWing sits on both a glide path and departure for the two Chicago airports. During the late afternoon, in the winter time, my southern sky is filled with con-trails of many planes both going and coming. Highways in the sky.

As I sit in the EastWing and watch the con-trails play out in the southern sky, I think of those people inside the little tubes with fixed wings up there in the sky leaving the marks so high above the ground as the fly like birds in boxes, while both going to and coming from Chicago, in the air, then on the ground.

And for the tree huggers of the world who always complain about the pollution of the automobiles and damn near everything else, I can’t help but wonder is that airplane polluting according to the standards of the tree huggers.

As ya might have guessed, here in the EastWing, we don’t buy into the massive campaign to convince us all that the world is going to hell in a hand basket and melt the ice caps then we’re all doomed to be consumed by global warming. Al Gore, Shewwww. Having been trained early in life in a specific scientific field of knowledge that supports fact more so than fiction, on this global warming matter, I say, “Where’s the Beef?”…. It’s not there, it’s just not. Fear of the unknown is one of the most potent weapons ever known to man. In this global warming fiasco, fear rules.

Those who pursue such global warming scare tactics, do so out of ignorance of facts, or a much more sinister reason, the pursuit of wealth, using fear as a means to gain wealth. It doesn’t take Sherlock Homes to find out the amount of wealth Al Gore has garnered from his involvement with the issue of global warming.

Oh, and by the way while we’re on this Al Gore deal, did ya ever notice he got on the Global Warming issue only after he lost this bid for being the President of the United States. It turns out that after he lost that election, it was hard for him to find a new job after his unemployment benefits ran out. Too bad Obama was not in office at the time, then Al Gore would have received an additional 99 weeks on top of this original 26 weeks. I wonder if anybody ever added that all up and figured out that we’re paying folks for over two years to sit on their butt and do nothing.

To me, that just don’t seem right. At the very least, I’d require some type of contribution to society in return for the over 2 years of free money. Maybe only two very simple requirements. The first being 10 hrs per week of measurable public service. The second being a weekly drug test. Pass both and ya get your money, every week. Flunk one, Uh Oh!

Fear is also used as a political tool. It’s a safe bet that fear and envy will both become political weapons in the not too distant future, almost certainly by the start of summer. I for one, am already damn tired of hearing the terms “millionaires and billionaires” along with “their fair share”. That’s an example of envy with its most ugly face on display. ‘It would have been a lot worse, had we not done what we did’. Now is that preaching fear as the gospel or what?

Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not badmouthing the gospel. In fact, I’m big on the gospel. Both from the Bible and the “Gospel According to BobbyRay”. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which is the most fun to read or preach. A year or so back, I’d made some kinda statement about the Gospel According to BobbyRay, and received a seething e-mail from a person who held themselves out to be a “Messenger of God’s Word”, his description, not mine. Stated that he expected I’d go to hell for even uttering such words as the Gospel According to BobbyRay.

Then the battle was joined. I pointed out that the word “gospel” simply meant a set of beliefs held strongly by a group of people or even a single person, and it was something believed to be absolutely and unquestionably true. And an example of something being believed to be absolutely and unquestionably true, well that’d be the Gospel According to BobbyRay. Never got any more e-mails from that feller. Maybe he figured I’d already just gone to hell.

Of course, very soon, as the world once again starts to turn green, fear and envy will play a much lesser role in our lives. ‘Cause it’s hard to worry about fear and envy when ya can go outside in the warm sunshine and dig in the dirt. One spring day, my darling daughter, Angela, when she was a little girl, playing in her sand box, I asked what she was doing, she said “ Dad sometimes ya just gotta shovel”.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, Winter Mild, The She & The Newt, The Kitty City Blizzard, Al Gore & Sherlock Homes, Fear & Envy, Dirt Digging & When Ya Just Gotta Shovel

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Lawyers & Yellow Pages, Federal Government & Services Rendered, The Department Of Energy Fulfills Its Mandate, Whispering Cat & Sophia’s Smile

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

I read an interesting set of facts the other day. It seems about 5% of the world’s population reside in the United States and some 20% of the world’s economy takes place here. Now 70% of the world’s lawyers live in the United States, and 94% of the world’s lawsuits take place in the United States. That poses an interesting questing. Do we have too many lawyers in our society? Or too much commerce?

Back in the 70’s at The Ohio State University, I wrote a research paper correlating the number of surgeons to a given population base in northern Indiana. And guess what, the more surgeons per 100,000 population, the more people had exploratory surgery. DUH! The more lawyers per 100,000 population, the more lawsuits, the more surgeons, the more people have surgery. I wonder why that happens.

It just don’t seem right, if everybody’s doing their job the way that job is supposed to be done. An example being, the more people who sell milk and bread, the lower the cost of milk and bread. With milk and bread, the more, the less, with lawyers and surgeons, the more the more. An interesting side bar to the surgeon study was the more surgeons in the population base the worse off the overall health of the group. Maybe ‘cause too many times, too many bellies were opened up just to take a peek inside. Uh oh.

It sure don’t seem right to me. But ya gotta keep in mind, I only speak and think in fluent hillbilly, so I may have a different perception than others on such complex matters as correlation of professional services rendered in relationship to the availability of residential professionals to provide such services in a pre defined population base. But I don’t think so. Hillbillies tend to think kinda straight up. Life’s a lot easier that way. And ya don’t have to put up with all that bull crap of trying to impress anybody with how smart ya are. ‘Cause damn near everybody can figure out right from wrong. They just can.

I wonder if there’s a difference between true need and true need for money. Such a tuff question like that, why you’d have to have surgeons and lawyers to figure it all out, and that’s gona cost ya lots of money, ‘cause surgeons and lawyers don’t come cheap, ask either one of ‘em.

Thirty years ago doctors and lawyers didn’t advertise in the local telephone book, but baby, just look at ‘em now. Take a minute and page thru your local phone book, you’ll be amazed. If ya could pull out doctors, dentists, lawyers and hospitals, there would be very little left to support the publication of the local yellow pages.

14 pages of lawyers with 8 of those being full page ads, including front cover, front inside cover and back outside cover. 4 pages for dentist. 1 page of hospital listings. The hospitals have agreed among themselves on how much to advertise in the Yellow Pages. 4 pages of doctors round out the telephone advertising in the yellow pages. Now keep in mind all the above is just the Yellow Pages advertising. These “professionals” “?” are also included in the white pages of the phone book. The yellow pages are being paid for as business advertising.

With 14 pages of yellow page advertising in the local phone book make the lawyers head and shoulders above all other professionals or business types in the book. In fact, if ya put all the health care related entities together, doctors, dentists, and hospitals they’d just be a little over half of what the lawyers advertise in the yellow pages.

Seems it’s more important to litigate than to stay healthy. At least those 14 pages of lawyers think so. They must, they spend the yellow page advertising money to tell us how good they are at suing somebody on our behalf. I wonder if they’re republicans? Maybe I’ll ask Sophia, she’ll know about stuff like that.

I can’t help but wonder how we got so terribly on the wrong side of the rope in the delivery of health care over the last 35 years. I propose it to be a combination of human greed along with the Federal Government’s inability to operate a national program of consumer service with efficient management. Never has, never will.

The only thing the Federal Government has been able to do with unquestionable success is operate the armed forces. On the other hand, we have nothing to compare that operation to, ‘cause, thank God, we don’t have companies in the business of operating armies, else we’d be killing each other off faster than the health care system.

If ya stop and look at every consumer service or industry controlled by the Federal Government, it’s a disaster. Some would point to the United States Post Office as an example of government inability to manage consumer services, you would not be entirely wrong.

How about that Department of Energy? Created in the Carter Administration, and charged with the objective of getting this nation free of foreign oil within one decade. Ten years. The mission has long been abandoned while the Department of Energy grows like a typical government cancer within our society, consuming every possible dollar which can be drained into the Department of Energy. Can this nation survive without the Department of Energy? This nation did so for over 200 years.

An example of how efficiently the Department of Energy is carrying out its mission. When the Department of Energy was created on August 4th 1977, the United States imported 35% of our oil from foreign soil. Today that number is 70%. Today the Department of Energy has a budget of 24.2 Billion, that’s billion with a “B”, 16,000 federal employees, and 100,000 outside contractors. Have we gotten our money’s worth from this Federal Department that was charged with freeing our nation of dependency on foreign oil in 10 years? I wonder.

Much of the ills of the postal service are caused by rules and regulations placed on the postal service that are not placed on any other governmental entity. Things such as ya can’t reduce the service based on cost / benefit factors. Ya must fully fund future pensions in advance.

Now if that one single provision, that fully funding future pensions in advance, which is imposed on the postal service, was mandated to the federal government in the same manner as is mandated to the postal service, well, we all might just as well all learn to speak Chinese right now. ‘Cause there’s not enough gold in Fort Knox to meet the future liability for which this Federal Government has committed it’s self to. It’s not even close.

From time to time ya hear somebody worry about Social Security going broke. What the hell! It’s already broke, been broke for a long time. When the decision was made to move the social security trust fund into the general fund of the federal government, that was the end of the safe social security system. Then we the people, sat aside and let it happen. The social security system now depends upon a series of IOU’s from the Federal Government.

There is no longer such a thing as a true Social Security Trust Fund, when the monies collected were redirected into the general fund of the Federal Government, well we all know what happened to the money, it got spent faster than it came in, and the Social Security Program was left holding an IOU and the national debt increased. And those IOU’s, well those IOU’s are backed by our largest foreign lender, China. What went wrong with that picture? And now we get a current administration in Washington DC that increases the public debt more in three years than the previous 200 years of the nation, is that a problem? Or is this progressive life style of the future? Are we lemmings marching to the sea? We’ll see.

Could “progressive” politics have anything to do with when our society started to decline? Could it be that “office holding” has become more important than the national interest? Could it be that those in our society who rely on “hand out” rather than “hand up” have become a major voting bloc? Does one political party pander to this group for reelection? Has one political party abandoned the working class group of voters in order to seek favor to the “hand out” group to secure reelection? Is class warfare a viable political option? Has national politics been influenced by tactics employed from a recognized corrupt political system of favoritism to create a “welfare state” in a major Midwest City? Is the “Occupy” movement being encouraged and funded by a national political party? Is a whole Midwest state an example of failed progressive politics?

The whole country is full of questions this election year. Questions that will be answered by “We The People” both in the primary election process, just getting underway, and then come November. Have those in charge in Washington DC during this last four years lived up to promises made? Have we received change we can believe in? Did we even make the right decision 4 years ago? Will we make the same mistake again? Will we make the right decision again? We’ll see.

All the while Sophia, The Conservative Calico Republican Cat, simply sits on the back of my chair, whispers her poisonous propaganda into my ear, and reads as her words from my fingers to the keyboard, appear on the screen. Then she smiles. I hate it when that cat smiles. Damn Republican Cat.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Lawyers & Yellow Pages, Federal Government & Services Rendered, The Department Of Energy Fulfills Its Mandate, Whispering Cat & Sophia’s Smile

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

A House Guest In Downtown Toto, My Mama & Her Cell Phone

Greeting to all and welcome to new friends to the EastWing.

Back about 1959 or so, my Dad met a stranger who was new to downtown Toto Indiana. From their first meeting he was fascinated with this interesting feller looking for a place to live, he soon invited him to come live in our house, right there in Toto. We quickly adjusted to this newest member of the family, and my life was never the same after he came into our house.

As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. If my dad said he could stay, that’s good enough for me, he was family. My Mama and Dad were paired instructors: My Mama taught me good from evil, right from wrong, and Dad taught me to obey the laws of both God and society. But the other feller that lived in our house, well, he was the storyteller. He would keep us fascinated for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. He entertained us all. He made us laugh. He didn’t teach us anything, but taught us lots of stuff.

The guy knew everything about everything, he always knew the answers about the past, he understood the present, and even seemed to me like he was able to predict the future! He took our whole family to the first major league ball game we ever saw in our life. He even took us all to the Kentucky Derby, and we loved it. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. But he never stopped talking, and my Dad didn’t seem to mind, and if my Day didn’t mind then I didn’t mind either.

Sometimes, my Mama would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for him to leave our home, she may well have, but she never said.)

Being a Baptist Preacher my Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions, but he never felt obligated to honor ‘em. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home, ya just didn’t cuss at my house, nobody, but nobody cussed in the house of the Preacher. Our long time visitor, however, got away with words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn’t permit the liberal use of alcohol but the he encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely about sex. The only one in the house to do so. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.

I now know that my early concepts about relationships were influenced by this guy. Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked… And NEVER, EVER asked to leave our home, or shut up.

More than fifty years have passed since he moved into my life in downtown Toto Indiana. He’s stayed with me all and has blended in wherever I go. But he’s not as interesting to me as he used to be.

As I grew up, went to college , got married and moved away from home, he went with me and is still sitting over in his corner in the WestWing, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. Although I don’t look at him very often. In fact, The She banned him completely from the EastWing, but he’s still there in the WestWing. Just waiting. He’s grown a lot since we first met. Just 14 inches wide and hardly any color in his face. Today he’s 60 inches wide there in theWestWing. And color on his face, oh sure, it’s living color.

His name? Oh, I forgot to tell ya, In the WestWing we call him TV. He has a wife now….we call her Computer. Their first child was Laptop. The second child was Cell Phone. The third child, I Pad. The fourth child, I Pad II. I’m sure they’ll have more babies as time goes on.

Both Mama and my Dad are now gone and I’m left with TV, computer, Laptop, I Pad, and I Pad II. I sure miss my Mama and Dad. My Dad never met computer. I wonder how he’d react to having his picture taken by Cell Phone? Not to mention how he’d react to cell phone itself.

I do think my Dad would’ve loved computer. ‘Cause unlike TV, computer can bring knowledge on anything and everything in the universe. And my Dad loved to learn about stuff he’d never known. Computer can do that for ya, internet and all.

My Mama met computer before she passed away. My Mama loved computer from the first time they met. A few years back, Mama spent three weeks in the EastWing one winter and every day when I came home from work, Mama and I done “computer stuff”. I showed her the magic of the internet, and she loved it.

I answered every question Mama had about computer. Tried to get her to touch the keyboard, she declined. But was still fascinated by computer. Mama said “I’m too old to learn computer”. Yet she looked forward everyday to when I got home so she and I could do the “computer stuff”.

Mama read the news on yahoo.com, read Sophia’s email, and looked at what was being said by everybody on FaceBook. My Mama liked computer. She loved to read Sophia’s email. She would even read it out loud with Sophia setting on her lap. My Mama read the email to Sophia.

Mama also got to know Cell Phone. One day, during a visit to Mama’s house , Mama said “Do you think I need a cell phone?” Now when my Mama says do you think I need a cell phone. That means Mama wants a cell phone. I said “ Mama I think you need a cell phone”. She smiled at me.

At the time my son, RJ, handled the cell phones for the family. I told RJ to get a cell phone for Mama. And so it was done. A day after Mama was introduced to the cell phone. I get a call to my office. It’s my Mama saying “ Can you hear me on this cell phone?’ I heard Mama on the cell phone. Two days later my Mama calls the office again wanting to know if the cell phone is working the way it is intended to work. It was. My Mama called me ever two or three days on her cell phone.

After ‘bout a couple weeks, while I’m at my Mama’s house, I say “Mama how’s that cell phone working out for ya”? She says “Great, I’ve called you nine times and it worked every time”. I say “You call anybody else?” Mama says “Don’t need to ‘cause I know it’s working”. Mama called me at least once a week to make sure it was still working. My Mama never called anybody else on that cell phone, only called me. Didn’t need to, ‘cause it was working, and if she needed to talk to me, she knew she could. My Mama loved her cell phone right up to the time she passed away.

I took my Mama to the hospital on a very cold and windy Thursday Morning in March, just as the night time gave way to a gray, overcast morning. In the emergency room, after the pain medication had been administered and had taken control, Mama asked me to get her pause. When I got Mama’s purse, she reached inside, handed me the cell phone and said “Here’s my cell phone, I won’t need it anymore.”

My Mama died 48 hours after she gave me her cell phone, there in the emergency room. It was 6:30 in the morning, just as the night time gave way to a spectacular sunrise on a crystal clear Saturday Morning, Mama died. Mama was right, she didn’t need the cell phone anymore. But It served her so well when it counted most, that time in her life when Mama wanted to have a cell phone.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, With A House Guest In Downtown Toto, My Mama & Her Cell Phone

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

The Ides of January, Looking For The Spring Time, The Midwinter Cat Festival, Moses and Sophia the 1st , Decisions on War, Fallen Heroes, “Gone To Grave Yards Everywhere”.

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

As we reach January 15th another milestone slips by. With barely one snow fall even worth thinking about so far this winter, now at its nastiest weather ever, winter can only be 1 ½ months. YEAH!! November’s already gone, and 14 nights ago as that yesterday and tomorrow traded places and left today when that sun came up, December had disappeared into the fog of history along with the whole year of 2011, never again to see the light of day.

So all that’s left is the last half of January and February, and February’s a short month, just 29 days this year. It’s 44 days to spring, cause everybody knows that come March 1st it’s SPRING! I love Springtime . Winters not yet really kicked in and I’m already loving Spring. Oh well, that’s just the way it works every year. it just does, loving spring is always good, especially in January, when the snow’s been so minimum this far into the winter time. When the inches of snow can be measured by fingers, and have fingers left, ya just don’t have much snow for the 15th day of January.

With the small amount of snow that has fallen within the last few days, my North Deck Cats finally have enough snow for their Annual Midwinter Cat Festival. Now if you’ve not been fortunate enough to have ever attended a Midwinter Cat Festival, you’ve missed a lot. Most festivals tend to be of the same mode. An underlying theme of some kind. What’s the theme doesn’t matter, just as long as a theme exist. Vendors pedaling fried food and belt buckles are a main stay for many festivals. Queens are also a must, an absolute must . For many, a festival without a queen is like salt without pepper, or a flag without a pole.

This is not the case with the Annual Midwinter Cat Festival. There is no similarity between a normal festival you may be accustom to attending and the Midwinter Cat Festival. Now for those of you who may not be familiar with cats, did you notice that I didn’t say “own a cat”, for a very good reason. Ya can’t “own” a cat. It’s impossible to own a cat, the cats won’t let ya own ‘em. They just won’t, no matter what ya think, ya never get to own a cat. They won’t allow it. Cats don’t get owned by anybody.

Now for you cat lover out there, thinking “I sure own all my cats”. Tell ya what, just get ‘em all in the same place, if ya can, and try to get ‘em all to go in the same direction at the same time. It can’t be done. Ya can’t herd cats. You may suggest, but not herd cats. Cats seldom take suggestions.

Why even when Moses lead the Children of Israel from the land of Egypt, the biggest problem facing Moses was not Pharaoh’s Army chasing ‘em, that matter had already been worked out with God, it was the cats. Yeah, I’m telling ya, it was the cats. The plan was that everybody, both people and animals, would all walk in the same direction and follow Moses toward the Red Sea, and you remember what happened from the movie. The only problem was somebody forgot to tell the cats, or the cats didn’t listen or pay attention, which some, to this very day, think is the case.

They went every which way you can imagine, those cats. Nobody could control ‘em. Finally in desperation, Moses asked God to give him a little help in dealing with the cats. And so God sent Moses a Calico Cat, a cat destined to be the spokscat for all those cats fleeing the land of Egypt within the confines of the Exodus.

It was in just such an environment that Moses met Sophia, The First. A special gift from God. A cat to control all other cats forever. If ya look close, in the movie, as Moses walks across the bottom of the Red Sea with all the water being held back, on both sides, walking right there along side of Moses, walking with swagger, that’s Sophia, the 1st .

The events held annually at the Midwinter Cat Festival are as varied as the personalities of the cats. The most favorite event of all is the timed EastWing Maple Tree Climb. Both the individual and team climbing are fiercely competitive. Of course the bucking dog riding contest is always a fun event for the cats, not as much so for the 2girldogs or Bentley.

Other events such as Cat Snow Rolling and Cat Back Sliding on the pool ice make for a fun Midwinter Festival for the North Side Cats. As the competition gets underway, the cats bring a whole new meaning to the term “tail spin”. Both the stock cat races and the demolition derby are fun things to see. One of my personal favorites is the cat hide & seek. Of course the cat poker tournament always draws a crowd. It’s fun to see a cat with anything more than a pair of two’s. The ears go back and the tail starts to wag. The faster the tail, the better the hand. Saw on spectator get beat up pretty bad while standing too close to a poker playing cat who’d just been dealt four of a kind.

One thing the Midwinter Cat Festival does have in common with the summer festivals is the parade. The parade route thru Downtown Kitty City is the climax to end the Midwinter Cat Festival. Unlike other parades, there’s no floats, no marching bands, no candy throwing groups walking along the way. It’s just cats on parade. Cats doing what cats do best, just showing off. Each trying to out-strut the other. And the first place winner in the parade, gets to strut up front for next years parade.

The one thing cats have in common with elephants is the cats too never forget. In fact, thousands of years ago the Egyptian People worshiped cats as Gods. The cats have never forgotten. Don’t take my word for it, just ask Sophia. Be warned, she may want you to kiss her ring.

I just thought of a really good trivia question. Lay this on somebody who thinks they’re a smarty pants, and see what happens. The question in: How many US Presidents have been elected in a leap year? The answer is: All of ‘em. Shewwww. Maybe it’s not the best trivia question in the whole world, but it just popped into my mind and I thought I’d share it with ya.

And so it was on the 18th day of December 2011, the last official soldier left Iraq soil. It will be debated in the future if the move was correct. Of the soldiers who visit the EastWing, to a person, they disagree with the Commander in Chief on the decision to pull out of Iraq in the manner in which we did. We’ll see. The soldiers who visit the EastWing, they’ve all been in the desert of Iraq or the mountains of Afghanistan , and for some, well some’ve been to both wars. Some have been twice. they’re not the decision makers, they’re the grunts in the sand, they’ve walked in harm’s way. They’re the ones who burned up in the desert sun wearing the full body armor, and froze at night or guard duty, with that same full body armor.

The true defenders of freedom, not those who put on the suit and tie and go to work each day in Washington DC. It’s a different world from the fighters to the political decision makers. Would maybe be a better world if those roles were reversed. When ya stop and think about it, all wars are fought by older men, sending younger men to their death in battle. What if the roles reversed? Fewer battles?

When I was a young man, we wondered “Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” And so now after 50 years I’ve truly learned . “Gone to grave yards everywhere.” 4,500 graves from the desert sands of just Iraq alone, and the war goes on in Afghanistan,

All the while a local Hero from my little city is added to the body count. I know the father and also knew the son from the time he was a little boy. And for what purpose his death? “Gone to Grave Yards Everywhere”.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, The Ides of January, Looking For The Spring Time, The Midwinter Cat Festival, Moses and Sophia the 1st , Decisions on War, Fallen Heroes, “Gone To Grave Yards Everywhere”.

I wish you well.

BobbyRay

A New Year With Special Dreams, On The Food Chain, Kitty City, Sophia Got Mail, The Wind Song of Life, The Cost Of Freedom

Greeting to all and welcome to new friends to the EastWing.

Wow! A whole new year in front of us and we’ve only just begun. Sweet!

There’s something special about every new year, every single year, there’s just something always special about the start of a new year. They’re all filled with hopes and expectations, dreams of better times, of dreams that just might come true, of better days. More sunshine and less rain on your parade. More Blue Sky’s than Gray. More warm than cold weather. More yes than nos. The new year always renews hope in mankind.

Maybe God made new years just so everybody could get kick started every once in a while ‘cause everybody knows that without hope, we’d be like all the other animals in the food chain, with a single hope, and that being just hoping something doesn’t come along from behind and the last words ya ever hear in your whole life is “GULP”. I like hope, and I also like setting at the top of the food chain.

Did ya ever wonder about that food chain of life stuff? It starts in the sea, ya know. Yes it does start in the sea, even if ya don’t like to eat fish, like me. Ya still gotta admit that the food chain of life starts in the sea. Microscopic life in the sea, plankton, is the start of the food chain. And really little creatures of the sea eat the plankton, and larger things eat those who eat plankton, and it just keeps on getting bigger, bigger things eating smaller things, and so it goes.

The creatures of the sea eventually come onto the land and we the people eat those such things that come from the sea along with the creatures who come from the land that comprise the food chain for mammals, and eventually I get to eat a steak any time I want to.

Before ya get too excited about being on top of that food chain, keep in mind that we, as humans beings, fall into the classification genus as mammals that also includes kangaroos, rats, rabbits and raccoons and cats. In fact, every other animal that give birth to live babies and feed the babies warm milk, even whales give live birth and serve warm milk. The one common food that keeps mammals at the top of the food chain is milk. Without milk the genus of mammals dies out.

I could never understand those who say they are 100% vegetarian. They’ll only eat things that contain no animal protein. First off, ya gotta keep in mind that these people got to their point in life to make such stupid decisions by being fed animal protein, else they’d died off as little pups. ‘Cause ya can bet the farm their mama wasn’t a vegetarian, and didn’t feed ‘em wheat germ and Tofu in place of milk when they were born. Had they not been fed the right foods necessary for human growth as little fellers, they’d have never grown up enough to be able to say “I’m a vegetarian”. Shewwww.

Now the second problem these folks have with the vegetarian life style is God made ‘em carnivores. Bless their little hearts, I’m telling ya, I don’t care what ya say, when your two eyes can focus on a single object in front of your nose, honey you’re a carnivore, whether ya like it or not. If God wanted you to be a vegetarian, he’d made you to look more like a flounder than in the image of God.

Then both your eyes would’ve been on the same side of your head. Sometimes I think some people’s eyes should be on the same side of their head. Now I’m NOT IN CHARGE of those type decisions, and if I should judge ‘em Lord, let me give ‘em lots of room. But every now and then, I wouldn’t mind being a part of the jury.

Carnivores can focus both eyes on a single dot. An eagle can drop 200 meters from the air and grab a fish from the water. That same eagle can snatch a rabbit as it runs. Neither the fish nor the rabbit can focus their eyes on a single point in front of their nose. The eagle can. The eagle does.

It’s called telescopic vision, and It’s our ability to see things in 3D so to speak, it’s our depth perception. Animals that eat grass and leaves of trees and grains, they don’t have that ability to see things in 3D and as such are true vegetarians by Gods design. People who eat leaves and grass are just carnivores who eat leaves and grass by choice, and all the while missing out on one of the gifts from God, that being setting on top of the food chain and eating Chili Dogs every once in a while, just for fun.

We’re not really close related to things that lay eggs. Thank God. I do think chickens are kinda cool and I have about a hundred or so ceramic chickens in the EastWing, but I’d for sure hate to think that me and them chickens were cousins. Some times ya just thank God for small favors, not being closely related to chickens is one of those favors. But make no mistake about it, I do love having ceramic chickens. They’re all over the EastWing. In fact, I’ve got more ceramic chickens in the EastWing than dogs and cats, and that’s saying a lot. ‘Cause I got lots of dogs and cats in the EastWing and the outside surrounding decks.

In fact, I’ve got a pride of 12 northside deck cats. All named, and most too wild to touch. Yet they all depend on me for food and shelter. My garage is within easy cat walking distance to the northside deck and is equipped to accommodate a large cat population. Large, dry straw beds are available for everybody, yet my cats tend to want to spend their idle time during the day (which is a lot, believe me, a lot) on the northside deck, close to the food dishes.

In order to accommodate my outside cats who insist on staying on the north deck of the EastWing, I’ve built what my kids refer to as “Kitty City”. It’s a hodgepodge of shelters for the cats to get in from the weather. A 35 gallon drum, a large plastic dog house from Tractor Supply, a super large plastic storage bin with lid, turned upside down, with a “door” cut into the side and an awning over the “door” to shelter the cats for the weather, it’s Kitty City. Sophia The Republican Cat, from her vantage point within the comforts of the EastWing, refers to Kitty City simply as “The cat slums of the north deck”.

It’s interesting how my inside cats communicate with my outside cats. Now everybody has, at one time or another in their life, come in contact with a person that they consider “stuck up”. Everybody knows what the term “stuck up” means. Everybody knows, and everybody’s come in contact with such people. Few folks, if any, like to deal with “stuck up” people. What’s really interesting about “stuck up” people is those who are, don’t think they are, but they still are. ‘Cause they’re quare, and everybody around them knows they are. It’s not hard to identify quare people.

Living in the EastWing, along with other creatures, are two cats. One’s stuck up and one’s not. Now I’m not gona say who is or who’s not, but I’ll just say that Spike The Man Cat is highly respected and a most welcome guest in Kitty City. In fact, Spike The Man Cat is a frequent dinner guest at Kitty City. All the while Sophia shutters at the thought of associating with The Slum Cats Of The North deck. Damn Republican Cat.

It never ceases to amaze me how many people react to what Sophia The Republican Cat has to say. She even got Christmas Cards this year. Now I’m talking about in the regular USPS mail kinda Christmas Cards. Sophia has received email for a long time, but I was a little taken back when the Christmas Cards started to arrive at the office of RHCO INC. in North Judson, addressed to Sophia The Republican Cat. The mail man walked into my office one day and said “Do you know a Sophia The Republican Cat?” I had to admit that I did. And so Sophia’s Christmas Cards started to arrive. Sophia’s Got Mail!

Did ya ever notice how pretty trees are without their leaves? Trees fully covered with summer leaves are so pretty. Trees without their leaves are equally pretty, just a different kinda of pretty for a different time of the year. Trees without leaves are just God’s way of saying “Get ready for the spring time”. It’s the cycle of life, trees without leaves turn to trees that are green. And everybody knows that winter bring spring and spring brings summer, and summer brings fall. It’s simply the music in that cycle of life song, playing out in four part harmony. I love that sound, The Wind Song of Life.

The Afghanistan War came home to Starke County yesterday. Four Indiana solders died yesterday morning, while half a world away from home. Two less solders are visiting the EastWing this Sunday Evening. Of the total number of people in the military who visit the EastWing, the number I actually know can be counted on your fingers, with fingers to spare.

It takes one less finger to do the count this evening of the solders I truly know in Afghanistan. A hero from Starke County has paid the price for our freedom. I know his father. Went to high school with the father, I also know the son. The Hero Son, named after his father. Let’s never forget the price of freedom is high and the color of freedom has forever been red. It’s times like these when freedom’s not just another word……

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, A New Year With Special Dreams, On The Food Chain, Kitty City, Sophia Got Mail, The Wind Song of Life, The Cost Of Freedom

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

New Years Day & Birthday Parades, Buzz Words & Politics, Consubstantial & The Catholic Church

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

Today’s yet another first, our first visit of 2012 and the first time of telling stories on New Year’s Day.

For many of us, 2011 couldn’t end fast enough, ‘cause bad things happened in our lives in 2011. It’s that way every year. Somebody’s always gona have a “somebody’s done somebody wrong song” in their life. So we’ll always have folks happy to see the old year end and the new year began.

I’ve always Just thought it’s now time to “Do the tax work”. Seems I’ve forever had a love/hate relationship with my Income Tax Preparation Business. I always look forward to the beginning of the work and somewhere along the end of March, start looking forward to April 15th and the end of the rush.

January 1st is Johnny’s birthday. Yap, Johnny was born on January First and we’ve had a birthday party ever since. Somewhere around when Johnny was 4 years old or so, one or both of his older siblings told the little guy they were going to have a big parade in California for his birthday and it was going to be on TV. And so it’s been from that year forward to this very day. Every year on January First, in Pasadena CA a parade is held in honor of Johnny’s birthday, at least that’s story in the Household of Howard.

This year Johnny’s Parade is not on his birthday but on January second. Just another example of jerking around with things that would be better left alone. What about the folks not having the luxury of being off work on January 2, 2012? Guess they just miss the Birthday Parade. As Sophia sits on the back of my chair and reads the screen over my right shoulder she whispered into my ear “ It’s a democrat thing, making sure people get another day off work and still get paid.” Damn Republican Cat.

Do ya ever get so put out by the use of buzz word phrases in politics and the news media, every time ya hear someone speak ya just want to scream “SHUT THE HELL UP”? I do when I hear ‘em. Some phrases that cause me to have such an uproar are:

“Kick the can down the road” It seems that every politician in Washington DC, be they Democrat or Republican must include at least one “Kick the can down the road” every time they get within 100 feet of a TV camera. Do these people who say “Kick the can down the road” really think we’re too dumb to know they’re just spouting the party line? No matter what they say, everybody accuses the other side of “Kicking the can down the road”. I often sit and wonder are “We the People” in that can being kicked down the road. It’s been a bumpy road of late, inside that can, going down the road.

“Occupy Wall Street” One of the most bizarre efforts at making a political statements in my lifetime. A close look into the details of this “Occupy Wall Street Movement” revels corrupt politics at its ugly core. Now I don’t want any bleeding hearts giving me any static on this one. Do the research into the movement, look at the core, look at the funding, look at the former ACORN involvement, the source of the funding and inspiration to continue the process. The more ya look, the more ya want to walk away for “Occupy Wall Street” Do the hard look, and you’ll also see. I almost bought into this thing, this occupy thing, until I looked into the heart of the mania. After due diligence, I came to the conclusion that if it walks like a duck, has feathers and quacks, well then, you decide if it quacks. Ducks do quack and have feathers. The Occupy Wall Street Movement has defecated on the public sidewalk, and too have ducks as they quack.

“Pay Their Fair Share” What the hell is “Their Fair Share”? I’ve never seen two people who can agree on what is “Their Fair Share” The use of the term “Their Fair Share” is a deliberate attempt to turn brother against brother. “Their Fair Share” is Old School Ugly Chicago Politics at its worst. I defy anybody in our society to produce a deification of “Their Fair Share” that is acceptable and equitable everyone. “Their Fair Share”, it just turns brother against brother. To me Their Fair Share” is just one stroke short of short of the President of the United States accusing the Fox News Network of using the “N” word in describing the President. Sad to think, that too may come to pass should the President believe he’s losing the upcoming election. Race cards have been played freely in the past. Just ask the Attorney General of the United States. Within the last two weeks, he played the card. “Their Fair Share”.

“Right to Work” Who in our society does not have a right to work? Those who are so opposed to such working conditions tend to be ill informed and less educated people who have been frightened by those who are able to make their living on the fears of the American workers. The exception to this position is in public education. It’s well educated people who have been frightened by those who make a living on the fears of the educators in our society.

Several years ago, my company negotiated labor contracts. It was just one of the services my company offered. I didn’t care which side of the issue I represented. Who ever paid my fees, was the one I represented. I’ve done a rather large amount of School Corporation / Teacher Union negotiations, on both sides of the table.

One year, back in the day, I had two different contract negotiations going on at the same time. In one I represented management, in the other I represented labor. Thank God they were over 100 miles apart. On the drive to whichever one I going that day, I’d have to remind myself to be sure and get into the proper mindset to represent my client at the negotiation table that day.

The one thing that struck me the most, was the amount of fear the teacher unions instilled in the local teachers during the process of labor negotiations, and how unimportant the teacher union really was to Indiana public education. Of the contracts I’ve negotiated, not a single one benefited by having the teacher union at the table. The local teachers would have received the identical contract without the cost of the teacher union. “Right to Work” absolutely a right for every person in our society. Those who oppose such a right , do so out of fear or ignorance, and in many instances, out of both.

“At The End Of The Day” Now this one ranks right up there with “kick The Can Down The Road” Whenever politicians talk about discussions on any matter, they just have to include “At The End Of The Day” in their description of the matter. Give me a break here. Of course the ultimate political statement was made my Nancy Pelosi when she said “At the end of the day, they just wanted to kick the can down the road”. WOW!

“Gravitas” A while back one political party chose to advance their ideology by using the word “Gravitas”. The word was spoken so often it became a joke, every member of that party mush have been told to “say the word” every time you talk. Of all the words available in the English Language, and they choose “Gravitas” Shewwww. Not too many people I know use “Gravitas” in their normal course of conversation. And so when the word in flooded across the airways, it stood out like a bad apple in the barrel. A sore thumb. A dumb choice and an embarrassment to that party.

Political buzz words annoy me much the same as some of the change in the prayers in the Catholic Church. For no reason other than the fact that highly educated men within the Catholic Church, after studying the same thing for many, many years, always feel a need to leave an impact upon history. Recent changes to the “man made prayers” of the Catholic Church included such changes as “consubstantial” in place of “one in being with the father”

The point being, consubstantial is not a normal part of the language of our society, while “one in being with the father is easily understood. Consubstantial is a decision to complex things up for the average Catholic, and all the while it creates just one more reason to question is this the real way? Or just so much crap?

I’m wondering if it is in fact just so much crap. I’m wondering too, were the Apostles of God the most educated in our society? Would those same Apostles use the word consubstantial to describe their relationship with Jesus, or were they just fisherman and tax collectors who spoke the language of the common man?

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, New Years Day & Birthday Parades, Buzz Words & Politics, Consubstantial & The Catholic Church

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Christmas Evening, An Attack On Christmas, Toys & Snow Cones, Longer Days Shorter Nights & UhOh, I Played My Drum For Him Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

Of the years there’s been stories from the EastWing, There’s never been an occasion to tell a story on Christmas Day, so that’s kinda cool. No snow, but kinda cool.

This morning I got to thinking about how the concept of Christmas has changed just in my lifetime. The Christmas message hasn’t changed, the Christmas spirit’s not diminished in the masses of people in these United States. It’s those who propose to be the messengers of progress, messengers of change, who disrespect Christmas, Easter, and damn near anything remotely of a religious nature, they appear to me to be the most disingenuous of souls I’ve ever seen.

These same people who insist that prayers are not to be said in public schools, Christmas Trees are not placed on public property, these same folks have no problem filling their pockets with American currency inscribed with the words “In God We Trust” boldly stamped on the money.

I’m of the belief that those in our society who feel so strongly that the founding fathers of our society were wrong for including any reference to God in the creation of our nation, ‘let ’em put their words into action, and leave such despicable nation to forever flourish in a land matching your beliefs .

Renounce your American Citizenship, Give away all your American Money. Shake the dust from your sandals as you y exit these United States of America, never again to return. Go live in a land of your choosing where your beliefs on society better fit into the group of your choosing. It just makes since that you’ll be more happy there, than in this land of evil, this land of the United States of America, this land founded or religious principals, specifically Christian Religious Principals. No Jewish, not Hindu, not Confucius, not Muslim, but Christian Religious Principals that’s served this country since it’s conception..

I’m also sure that when you disrespect the established norm as determined by that dictatorial government of your new homeland, you’ll be soon be dead or imprisoned for the rest of your natural life time. And to think, all this bad stuff happened to ya ‘cause ya had a problem with a Christmas Tree on the Courthouse Lawn. UhOh.

That being said, I’m betting they’re staying right here amongst us. And that, boys and girls, is just a little tinny, tinny part of what makes this nation so great. Freedom to be stupid is guaranteed by the Constitution of The United States. Why I’d bet those who would desecrate Christmas, badmouth Easter, and pitch a bitchy fit about prayer in schools, I’d bet the secretly hope Santa Clause doesn’t hear about ‘em being so mean. ‘Cause even stupid people like toys.

Good thing it’s Christmas Evening, else I’d say some really bad stuff about those kinda folks who always want to bad mouth the “American Way”, even on Christmas. But ya gotta remember that God made some stupid people so the rest of us could get along. Now it’s said that one in five people are stupid, a very simple way to test this hypothecs is to just identify four of your close friends. Think about ‘em for a while. Now after some thought about your friends, and they seem normal, guess what! There’s five of ya, and you’ve already eliminated all your friends. Uh Oh!

Life without toys is like Snow Cones without flavors, days without sunshine, and peas without carrots. When you have to face the future, and Snow Cones without flavor, or peas without carrots, life’s hard, and life’s cold, when peas are without carrots . And so I love toys.

TOYS is an acronym for The Objects You Select. Now toys don’t have to be small. Or they don’t have to be big. But they just have to be just right. You must keep in mind that not all things that people think are toys are in fact toys. Toys are in the eye of the beholder., not in the eyes of the presenter.

An electric train can a small toy or an electric train can be a big toy, just ask the folks at the Hoosier Valley Railroad Museum ‘bout the little trains and the big trains, toys all, they’ve got ‘em both.

People are sometimes surprised to find out when they buy an expensive toy for a little girl or boy, the child has more fun with the box than the present. Much to the disappointment of the gift giver, the box becomes the toy. Yes the box becomes the toy. Like it or not, the big box becomes the toy. And we thought we knew what would make ‘em happy. Sometimes we don’t, when a big box is involved It was the box all the time that made ‘em happy. For many babies, boxes are toys.

The Objects You Select. Even when selected by the babies of the world, so never forget that when it comes to things to play with, boxes are also toys.

One of the really neat things about Christmas is the fact that we’ve passed the end point of the short days of the year, and from here until mid June, the days will forever get longer. A few days ago I had a feller, who’s work it is to be outside, ask me “when will the days ever start to get longer”? He didn’t know, he just didn’t know. When I told him the best way to remember was right after Christmas, the days start to get longer. He was glad, ‘cause outside work this time of the year is hard. When you’re self employed, and work outside, life is hard from October to April. It just is. Now if you’re looking for something to thank God for today, how about your inside job during the winter time.

Being a star gazer, guess I’m just tuned into that sorta stuff, but it surprised me to find someone who didn’t know that the days get longer after the start of winter in December. But saying the day after Christmas is so much easier to remember. It’s close enough. I put that little qualifier in there ‘cause some other stargazers visit the EastWing and any time I’m not exactly on the nose when it comes to “star gazer stuff” things like season change dates, proper names of star stuff, well sure as shooting, somebody will let me know how sloppy my writings are when it comes to “scientific specific data statements”. On such occasions like that I usually just send ‘em and email back and say “UhOh”

Remember last summer when the She got me the little boy and girl holding a jar with lighting bugs inside , and the lighting bugs being hooked up to the solar panel, and how I so hopped they’d show me lighting bugs at Christmas Time? Well guess what? LIGHTING BUGS AT CHRISTMAS TIME! SWEET! This Christmas Day brought bright sunshine from the first light of dawn to sundown, are rare thing to see on Christmas Day in northern Indiana. It happened today.

And so the little people, the keepers of the lighting bug jars, felt a whole day of full, warm sunshine of their little solar cell backs, as they sat out here on the new landscaped base of the flagpole, out there in the south gardens, just this side of the mail box along road 800 South. And so it was this late afternoon, by the time 5 O’clock came around so did the lighting bugs in the jars. A little bit of July came to the EastWing, just as I’d hoped, just as the winter time officially started to get ready to get cold. I love Lighting Bugs, even Solar Lighting Bugs, in those little jars, out there by the base of the flagpole.

I propose we as Americans put way too much importance on having a White Christmas. Thanks in no small part to Being Crosby for instilling into our culture the need for a White Christmas. I suggest we don’t need the world to be white, to have a Merry Christmas, ’cause I don’t think it snowed in Bethlehem, that night when a star guided shepherds to a manger.

Even though Being Crosby is most recognized for his recording of White Christmas, do ya know what was his only other major recording hit? it too was a Christmas song, one you may even remember on the back roads of your memory, when you think of such things Christmas.

May such pretty words and sounds once again flood your soul this Christmas Evening. As it seems with such little effort, you can, both hear the words in your mind, and in your heart, feel the drum.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum

A new born King to see, pa rum pum pum pum

Our finest gifts we bring, pa rum pum pum pum

To lay before the King, pa rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum,

So to honor Him, pa rum pum pum pum,

When we come.

Little Baby, pa rum pum pum pum

I am a poor boy too, pa rum pum pum pum

I have no gift to bring, pa rum pum pum pum

That’s fit to give a King, pa rum pum pum pum,

Rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

Shall I play of you, pa rum pum pum pum,

On my drum?

Mary nodded, pa rum pum pum pum

The Ox and Lamb kept time, pr rum pum pum pum

I played my drum for Him, pa rum pum pum pum

I played my best for him, pa rum pum pum pum,

rum pum pum pum, rum pum pum pum

Then He smiled at me, pa rum pum pum pum

Me and my drum.

It didn’t snow as the drum played in Bethlehem that day. And as such, I, for one, don’t have a need for a White Christmas, ‘cause I’ve also felt the message of the drum.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, Christmas Evening, An Attack On Christmas, Toys & Snow Cones, Longer Days Shorter Nights & UhOh, I Played My Drum For Him Pa Rum Pum Pum Pum

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Sophia & FaceBook, The Cat & The Cain, Quantum Physicists Friends & Quare, Icicle Lights & Dissecting Duct Tape

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

For years now people have been asking to see Sophia The Republican Cat. I’ve always been reluctant to include her picture from the EastWing for a simple reason. That being, not everybody in the world has that high speed internet connection like you do. Dial up internet connection is still the only choice in many parts of the world. Adding pictures from the EastWing would created long, long downloads. Too long for many friends. I’ve never included a photo of Sophia, or any other picture for that matter.

All that changed a few days ago. Sophia showed up on FaceBook. Yap, Sophia jumped to FaceBook. Just go there, do a search on BobbyRay Howard, and guess what, there’s Sophia, in living Calico.

I should’ve put a counter on Sophia’s picture. Wow! Seems more people like Sophia than like me, if ya go by the number of people who looked at and commented on Sophia’s picture. I’ve already had requests for more Sophia and less of me in her pictures. Oh well, she’s Calico and I’m not. Damn Republican Cat.

Sophia says she’s not yet ready to endorse any of the current republican candidates for president. Said she kinda thought about Herman Cain, but decided he’d spent too much time chasing cats, ‘cept Sophia didn’t call it “chasing cats” Sophia had another word for “cats”, a more descriptive word for cats, particular descriptive for female cats, a more familiar term for those who chase such things for personal pleasure, the Herman Cain’s of the world. She has such a way with words. That Sophia, the Republican Cat. Shewwww.

Did ya ever dream of another world, another place, another place other than this Earth? Well it just might be so. Yeah, I’m telling ya, such a place may exist in the universe. Using deep space telescopes and radio wave technology, scientist have identified a couple thousand worlds outside our own solar system that meet the criteria for supporting life as we know it.

Ya gotta think ‘bout that for a few minutes, life as we know it. What about life as we don’t know it. WOW! That’s deep, too deep for many to think about, but just as possible as life as we know it. I’ve got a bunch of friends that visit the EastWing who happen to be Quantum Physicists, and these fellers, and two ladies, think about this kinda stuff all the time. They seem to spend their days trying to prove that all we know about the universe is not all there is to know about the universe.

These fellers, and two ladies, want to talk about stuff way too little to even imagine for people like me and you. Quantum Physics is talking about really little stuff, the basic building blocks of the universe. And now we’re looking at the possibility of seeing planets outside our own universe that can sustain life. And these Quantum Physics Friends of mine, they tell me they can explain life outside our universe. The tell me that in less than one year there will be discoveries in Quantum Physics that will forever change the way we look at the universe. Wow! Quantum Physics Guys in the EastWing, they think I’m kinda cool, I think they’re kinda quare. But I sure do love to talk to ‘em about their little tinny stuff in their life’s work.

Now that’s a good hillbilly word for ya if there ever was one, “quare”, that’s stone cold hillbilly, quare. It is just forever hillbilly. Love that word, use it as often as I can, quare, a really neat word in the hillbilly dictionary. Quare, meaning strange or unusual, an event outside of the ordinary. Such as: “Wow! That was damn quare.” I love that word, quare.

Do ya like blue Icicle Lights? I just found out that they exist. Oh well, I’ve never said I’m on the cutting edge of Icicle Light Technology. I love the color blue. After the difficulty I had illuminating the EastWing with Christmas lighting this year, I find out that Blue Icicle Lights exist, and I don’t have ‘em. Oh woe is me.

In the EastWing I’ve only the South window facing road 800 South with the Icicle Lights, the white kind. I didn’t even know the blue kind existed until a few days ago. Well the very next time me and the She went to Wal-Mart, guess what? Oh sure, I got the blue icicle lights.

Now the EastWing is truly decked with icicle lights. The north and south windows have the white icicle lights and the east windows of the EastWing have the pretty blue icicle lights. I’ve put timer controls on ‘em all, and now can’t hardly wait till 5:00 O’clock in the afternoon to have the Christmas Lights come on in the EastWing. It’s like party time every day. I love icicle lights!

A while back I told ya about me becoming an electrician and cutting two sets of icicle lights apart and attaching only those that would work, and how they all then worked so I taped ‘em up with duct tape and put ‘em up outside the west front door.

They worked great till the rains came by. It seems that the rubber tape used by real electricians serves a dual purpose. One it to ensure that the two wires carrying the electricity do not touch. The second is to assure that water does not get into the two wires that don’t suppose to touch. Water conducts electricity, and so if water gets into the two wires that don’t suppose to touch, in the presence of water, they touch. UhOh.

Duct Tape works quite well for purpose number one. Not worth a damn for purpose number two. It turns out that Duct Tape is composed of fabric and glue. Both of which will allow water to pass through.

During the first rain after my electrical engineering of a one of its kind string of icicle lights, I came home to see my handy work in the dark. Thinking I may need to adjust the tension on the connections due to temperature changes, I removed the light string underneath the rain gutters of the front porch.

With skills akin to a surgeon, I started the dissection of the Duct Tape Connection. It was during this dissecting process, I realized that with all the training I’d received in the dissection of human antimony, not a single minute had ever been spent on training me in the dissection technique of a Duct Tape Electrical Connection.

A cold chill ran down my spine, as I realized I was way, way over my head on this one. And the man who’d taught me the skills of dissection, was no longer available to guide my hand and stand by my side as I demonstrated what I’d learned from the master. I’ve never missed my dear friend, Dr. Tom DeGraffenried more than that very moment. But looking back on the , minute, I’m not sure if DeGraff had, in fact, been trained in the technique of Duct Tape Connection dissection any more than I had. It was just one of those things we never talked about, me and DeGraff…..

Remembering well the lessons I’d been taught from times gone by, I returned to the very first basic step in the process. That is a detail visual observation of the subject. Upon doing that close detail observation, a most amazing thing was apparent , every single light bulb on my homemade string of icicle lights, were burned out. They all were black inside, as if they all blew at the same instance. There had been massive explosions contained inside little glass tubes a mere inch or so long. Temperatures inside these glass tubes high enough to melt steel. It got really hot inside the glass, really quick.

One of the neat things about RHCO Inc. is that I have access to a broad range of knowledge from my clients. And so I called an electrician, a real electrician, a client of mine, a friend of mine, and told him how I’d made the one of a kind icicle lights string and the Duct Tape and all.

After he got done laughing, he said I’d have been ok if I’d only used electrical tape. That tape when properly applied keeps the water out. Even under water, it keeps the water from getting to the two wires twisted together. Now this feller also said “Don’t feel bad, ‘cause I’ve seen lots of people who’s tried to use Duct Tape just the very same way as you did, and they got the very same results as you did.” And then he laughed at me some more.

When this electrician comes to get his taxes filed in February, I’m gona say “I can do taxes and you can’t, nana, nana, nana, nana”. Then I’m gona laugh at him, then we’ll again laugh together.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Sophia & FaceBook, The Cat & The Cain, Quantum Physicists Friends & Quare, Icicle Lights & Dissecting Duct Tape

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Winter Coming on, Programming Computers, Sideways desktops, The Cost of Being Dumb, Information Is Free, Just Knowing Where To Look, The Age Of Aquarius, Sophia Changes All.

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

It’s one thing to see the first snow fall, it’s another to see the ground covered in white. The first snow fall came and went and the ground didn’t turn white. Why, me and the Pup Baby were even prepared to make snow angels. We practiced in the EastWing, me and the Pup Baby. But the outside snow never came. And so the month of November came and went without ever getting enough snow to turn the EastWing Gardens into a winter wonder land, a land of snow angel paradise.

It was not until December 9th that we woke up to white winter gardens at the EastWing. Me and the Pup Baby, we wasted no time that morning getting out there and making the first Snow Angels of the season. ‘Bout 8 O’clock or so that morning, we made the first Snow Angels of the season. The Bentley, on the other hand, being a thin skinned kinda dog, was more interested in making yellow snow in the east end of the east garden, than making Snow Angels, and so he did.

Now for the good news from the EastWing for those who hate the winter and the cold & snow. This winter can, at the very most extreme, only three months. December, January, and February. ‘Cause everybody knows that come March First, it’s spring time. Anybody can take 90 days of bad weather in the winter time. We dodged the bullet this year with November, so we’ve already cut winter short by thirty days. Here comes spring. As the snow filed last Friday, you’re already looking for the springtime.

There was an interesting event in the RHCO Office the other day. I’d taken my home laptop to work in order to get all set up to start the tax filings. Now I’ve got two computers running at the same time on my desk. On the office machine I’m setting it up for a wireless network connection, and on the laptop I’m setting it up to see the other computer on the wireless network.

With it being a Friday, as I’m programming these two machines to work together and at the same time I’m processing the Friday payroll work as it comes in. As usual in my office, Miss Kitty, who’s the Official Black & White Cat of RHCO Inc. walks wherever she so desires. That Black & White just walks wherever she wants. Now you may ask why. The truth be known, she’s Miss Kitty with thumbs on all four paws, and you’re not.

I finished a small payroll and returned to the computer programming job and, WHAT THE HELL! The screen on my laptop has turned sideways. Yeah, I’m telling ya, sideways. I asked Miss Kitty which keys she’d stepped on. She didn’t have a clue. Like the fog, on little cat feet, she walks in silence and does not log in her steps.

It’s been so long since I’d had to deal with that computer issue, I laughed when I realized I’d forgotten how to do something as simple as screen control. I didn’t remember if it was the Alt or the Ctrl that changed the screen or a combination of the two. So I decided to see what information was available on the internet. And so I went online to seek my answers to the problems of screen reversal.

Now ya gotta keep in mind that the internet is like the Wild, Wild West, in the since there’s an awful lot of crooks and bad guys (and girls) out there trying to rip ya off. On the internet, one has equal access to all the virtues and all the vices in the world. Both saints and sinners roam the internet, side by side. In the world of the internet, the lion does not lay down by the lamb.

I knew the answer could be found at the Windows 7 discussion board, but decided to see what else was out there in that Wild, Wild West of the Cowboy Show, the Internet. It didn’t take long. With minimum effort and a search engine, I turned up a few hundred sites that could solve my problem. I clicked on the first in the long list. The screen popped up and wanted to know what was my problem. Told ’em that my screen was sideways on my computer. Another screen popped up saying “Hello, this is Todd, I’m on line right now and have the answer to your problem, click continue” And so I clicked continue.

The new screen that popped up told me the answer to my problem was of such technical quality it had a commercial value of $48.00. Below the dollar value statement was the standard format of supplying your name and credit card information along with the agreement to pay the $48.00. I went back to the original search to view other options.

In the second effort to resolve the problem, it was determined that the very same problem was of such technical complexity it carried a commercial value of $125.00. Now the $125.00 kinda surprised me, ‘cause I didn’t change the problem, it just got more complex by itself I guess. I didn’t give ‘em the credit card info there either.

One more time I went back to the original search to try my luck just one more time to solve the problem. I’ll cut to the chase on this deal. It was $315.00, ‘cause it was of such extreme complexity, a once in a lifetime fluke, that deals with the type of memory chips in relation to the other chips within my single computer. A fix that requires research to ensure that it doesn’t ever happen again to my computer in my life time. The fix is guaranteed to restore my computer to the original functionality of factory specifications. It was so much bull I thought I needed boots, and it was going to cost me $315.00.

It appeared that as the price for information increased, the language got more fuzzy and away from a clarity of understanding. Duh! Justification for the big bucks, = fuzzy language. It didn’t work for me.

The importance of understating the written word can never be overstated. It’s one thing if someone doesn’t understand your speech. You say it once and it’s gone forever. But your written word will last beyond your lifetime. So make very, very sure everybody understands what you wanted to say in writing. Leave none of your written words open to interpretation. When ya write it right, they’ll know, every word, they’ll know every word, every time, they’ll know forever.

Once I was admonished by a person who said “I can’t believe with your education you write with such poor grammar”. I asked, “Did I ever put a single word on her computer screen which you didn’t understand?”. She said “no”. I said “There ya go”. Education doesn’t mean a damn when people don’t have a clue to what you’re talking about in your writings. When you write right, they’ll know, and not have to look for the clue.

So after all the internet search to resolve my sideways screen on the laptop, with solutions costing from $48.00 to $315.00 for the same information, I went to the Microsoft web site and connected to the Windows 7 discussion board. Knowing all the while that the answer to my question was always there, and so it was. ALT+ CTRL+ DOWN ARROW. And the world of the Laptop got turned around.

Too bad ALT + CTRL + UP ARROW didn’t work for Humpty Dumpty, ‘course that ole boy came along at a different time and a different age. But if he would’ve made it to the age of Aquarius, he’d had at least a shot at it. The Age of Aquarius, some say it’s the very early start of the Personal Computer and the code : ALT + CTRL + DOWN ARROW, and your computer world turned right side up . And Humpty Dumpty might’ve had a shot at it. ALT + CTRL + UP ARROW. We’ll never know, ‘cause the ole boy missed the Age Of Aquarius.

Either way, the PC changed my life as much as it changed yours, then Sophia came along, and changed us all.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From The EastWing, Winter Coming on, Programming Computers, Sideways desktops, The Cost of Being Dumb, Information Is Free, Just Knowing Where To Look, The Age Of Aquarius, Sophia Changes All.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Understanding Big Numbers, Plato’s Position, Local Vote Speak Volumes, Occupy & Crapping On The Sidewalk, Kicking Up The Yearend Business , Learning Life’s Lessons from the Docs.

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

Recently I was asked, as an accountant, do I understand the numbers being discussed when talking about the Federal Budget and the Budget Cuts in relationship to the National Debt. I do understand these numbers.

A major problem we have in our country today is the fact the Federal Government has grown to such a size that most people don’t have the ability to comprehend the magnitude of the numbers being discussed, mainly due to the number of zeros. Yes, the number of zeros. Below is an example of what I’m talking about.

U.S. Tax revenue: $2,170,000,000,000 (Tax money coming in each year) (it’s kinda like your pay check)

Fed budget: $3,820,000,000,000 (The amount of money actually spent during the year)

New debt: $ 1,650,000,000,000 (The amount of money spent above the paycheck, it’s put on credit cards)

National debt: $14,271,000,000,000 (Amount now owed on all the credit cards)

Recent budget cut: $ 38,500,000,000 (The amount of spending cuts during the year, to reduce debt)

Here’s a good way to understand these expertly large numbers and be able to relate these national numbers to your life for one year. Just remove 8 zeros from every number above, and consider it to be your household budget for next year. A set of numbers you have to live with for the next 12 months of your life. Now look at the new numbers for your household next year.

Annual family income: $21,700 (Your paycheck)

Money the family will spend: $38,200 (The total amount you’re going to spend)

New debt on the credit card: $16,500 (The new amount you spent over your income, and put on credit cards)

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $142,710 (The total balance of all your credit cards)

Total budget cuts during the year: $385 (The amount you reduced spending this year to help you reduce debt)

There’s no better way to understand large numbers than to be able to relate ‘em to your life. The above example does just that.

Now that’s one reason why Sophia the Republican Cat gets so crazy at the political types when it comes to finance public financing of government. The cat is pissed off to the ninth degree about those who cannot read the numbers. Who cannot take away 8 zeros and understand the numbers. Those who believe you can spend your way out of debt. A pox on their house, be they democrat or republican, a pox on their house. So says Sophia the Republican Cat.

As many of you regular Sunday Evening Visitors to the EastWing know, Sophia is a very mild mannered little cat who seldom ever takes an issue to anything. Sophia is not known for being involved in any type of controversial political discussions. However she does support the Forrest Gump principle of “Stupid is as stupid does” when it comes to politics. And from time to time, Sophia has been known to point out who stupid is. Damn Republican Cat.

It’s as if the people in Washington can’t see what’s illustrated so simply by removing 8 zeros from everything. And such people continue to be reelected to national public office. Shame on us. I propose the condition of this nation is not the fault of the politicians. Rather the fault of the electorate, me and thee, for continuing to send these people back into public sector. Shame on us.

I believe is was Peg Bracken who said “Why does a slight tax increase cost you $200 and a substantial tax cut saves you 30 cents? Seems some in public office don’t even understand the question. At least act as if they don’t.

It was Plato who said “Those too smart to become involved in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber” And to this day that statement holds true. It holds true, at every level of government. That Plato feller is kinda cool. I think he was a hillbilly, from over there in Breathitt County, up on South Fork, just out of Jackson. I don’t know if Plato knew Lou of not, but I’m sure they’d get along, up there on South Fork, Plato and Lou, they’d get along.

A major shift in the political picture occurred in my home town, North Judson IN last November 8th. For the first time in my memory the position of town clerk has been taken by a republican. It may also be the first time in many, many years that the town board is now controlled by the republican party. The town board is a three member group. One of the democrats on the board was defeated in the November 8th election.

I’m of the opinion the recent election in North Judson is simply a reflection of the overall discontent of we the people with the sorry state of affairs of this country. When that happens, “we’ll vote against ‘em”, we just will. Even those who may have been doing a good job on an individual basis, “we’ll vote against ‘em”. That was the case in North Judson. No complaint against the office holders, but a complaint against the status quo. And so changes were made, were made by the ballot box. It’s the American way. And it’s worked for us for well over 200 years.

It’s interesting to note that during the prior local campaign, those running for the office of town board expressed a desire to expand the town board from 3 members to 5 or 7 members. When they were elected, they forgot that promise. And then the majority party became the minority party. Fascinating conjecture of things that might have been. Those who lose touch with we the people, always loose when it’s time to vote. They just do when we vote.

Unlike this “Occupy Wall Street” movement which seems to be controlled by crazies of our society. Not recognizing the power of the ballot box, these folks appear to believe that pissing on the sidewalk, defecating in public and rioting when McDonald’s doesn’t give ‘em free food is a good way to express public discourse. I propose they’re wrong, and there’s a better way.

I may only be a hillbilly boy who grew up in Downtown Toto Indiana and just so happened to be fortunate enough to have attended both the Tip Top Kentucky Elementary School System and received a masters degree from The Ohio State University, but I do propose the ballot box is a more powerful weapon for political change than public defecating. But everybody knows Do Do Happens, and so it has with the Occupy Wall Street” crowd. Shewwww.

As the year draws to a close my income tax preparation business starts to kick up into high gear. Every year I spend much of the month December revisiting the tax code and the new changes that occur every year. I’m not sure how many million pages of tax code exist, but one thing I do know for sure, if an accountant or tax preparer tells you that they know all of the tax code, you better get a new accountant or tax preparer. With over 10 million words of tax code, it’s impossible for one person to know the total code.

When I come across something I don’t know for sure, I look it up. That’s why people pay me to do what I do, not only for what I know, but to make sure I do it right for those times when I have to use the reference resources to do it right, and so I do. Anyone who believes they know all there is to learn in their chosen profession is simply courting disaster. That statement reminds me of an occasion I observed one time when a very, very ill mannered physician was taught a lesson in life.

One time, years ago, when I was a hospital administrator, It was at a medical staff meeting and the docs got to talking about their ability to diagnose illness. Now we had one feller on that medical staff who gave people the impression he tolerated ‘em only, and didn’t really need any input from anybody on anything, ever.

On that fateful day this doctor made a statement to his peer group saying “I can diagnose 99.999% of all illnesses that walk through my front door”

Once a month I hosted the medical staff luncheon meeting. We’d always use the hospital board meeting room with its big oval table and seating for 18. I sat at one end of the long table, and the senior member of the medical staff at the other end of the table facing me. The doctor making the ridicules statement was seated to my immediate left. Now in that room, it mattered not who was the current “President of the Medical Staff” ‘cause everybody in the room knew, they all just knew, it was the man at the other end of the big table from me that established the demeanor for that medical staff.

Upon hearing the statement of diagnostic ability, the old doctor rose, and slowly walked toward my end of the table. When he got up from his chair, the room became deathly silent.

He slowly walked the distance of the table, stopped behind the doctor setting to my left, tapped him on the shoulder and when the seated doctor looked up, said “Ed, you’re a lying Son of a Bitch, not a doctor on earth can make that statement, and I never want to hear it from you again.” The old doc turned, and with the same speed and resolve, walked back to his seat.

I’ve never heard the sound of silence more overwhelming than was in that room at the moment. After what seemed like hours, but was in fact closer to seconds, 30, maybe 45 at most, finally I said, “Ok guys what else do ya wanta talk about?” The room exploded with laugher. A bullet had not been dodged. A life lesson had been taught.

Now that doc changed his attitude from that day forward with all the rest of my hospital staff, and he never, as long as I remained in that hospital, gave me any more crap like “I’m a doctor and you’re not, so you must do whatever I say.” In fact this doc, from that day forward, avoided me as if I had the plague. I think he was too embarrassed to look me in the eye.

I made it a point every time I could, to meet this man each morning when he arrived at the hospital and would say “Good Morning Dr.” which forced him to glance at me and say “Good Morning Mr. Howard” Usually that was the last time for that day anybody would call me Mr. Howard. Nobody needed to address me as Mr. Howard, not the medical staff, not the hospital employees. They all knew what was my job and what was their job. But that one doctor always said “Good Morning Mr. Howard.” Most all of my hospital staff and the doctors, they all just called me BobbyRay.

I made it a point to be sure and sit beside that doctor at every medical staff meeting. Soon it became so clear to the docs that I was gona sit by this guy, if I happened to be a little late getting to the meeting, there would always be an open seat next to him. Sometimes the most lasting lessons in life are learned the hard way. Taught by an old doctor, from the old school.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing Understanding Big Numbers, Plato’s Position, Local Vote Speak Volumes, Occupy & Crapping On The Sidewalk, Kicking Up The Yearend Business , Learning Life’s Lessons from the Docs.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

November & Color TV, Devils & Angels, Thanksgiving Day and Worker Bees

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

November is just such a fun month. Going from one season to another is exciting. Whatever to whatever, it doesn’t matter which way, it’s just exciting. Fall to winter. Winter to spring. Those two are the most fun. That spring to summer is sometimes, most of the times, kinda hard to know when you’re there. It’s one of those things like “ya get used to warm weather quick” But ya don’t get used to cold weather quick. Ya fight it every step of the way.

I’ll never forget my dad’s first comment when he and I watched color television for the first time. When asked what he thought about Color TV, my dad said “ya get used to it quick” As a child, I thought that was dumb, as an adult I realized how profound the statement was. Seeing color is natural, seeing black and white TV is not natural. As far as color TV is concerned, ya get used to it quick. At least me and my dad go used to it quick when we saw Color Television for the first time, there at Toto.

A while back I talked about a little angel and a little devil setting on my shoulders. And my life being a constant struggle of who to listen to. Of how a final decision was made when the little angel reached behind my head and punched the little devil with a left hook, and said “forget about it”.

Of all the emails last week addressing the sad state of affairs s at the Penn State University, one simply said “If they only they had your little angel and devil setting on their shoulders, the world might be a better place today. Two devils on shoulders are a disaster for mankind”.

I so agree, two devils never make the decision to do the right thing. Not in the Garden of Eden nor at Penn State University. Devils just make bad decisions, when it comes to the welfare of mankind. That may be the reason why hell’s not yet frozen over. I sure hope you’re not waiting for that, are you?

Such a fun day. Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central in North Judson, last Thursday. Lots of old friends, lots of new friends, and everyone so very special to me and my family. The number of people who volunteer to help the Family of Howard put this Thanksgiving Dinner together amazes me every year. And as the number of guest who come to dinner increases, so does the list of volunteers available to help us.

Our Thanksgiving Dinner has grown from a flickering candle in the wind to the brightest star in the night sky, the last darkness before Thanksgiving Morning. The Thanksgiving Day Dinner’s success is not attributed to the efforts of my Family of Howards, but to the combined efforts of those volunteers willing to forgo their own holiday to become a member of the Worker Bee Team for the Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central Station in North Judson.

Worker Bee activity starts on Monday and ends late Thanksgiving Day, only after Grand Central Station is all cleaned up from the party. Worker Bees now assist in cooking the turkeys. Peeling the potatoes, making the pies, making the dressing, setting the tables, serving the meal, bussing the tables, resetting the tables, greeting the guests, visiting those who have come alone to dinner, making everyone feel welcome.

Much of the work can be seen by everyone, but wait, there’s more. The kitchen side of the party on Thanksgiving Day is a whole world unto it’s self. The foods been cooked and now it’s a major warm up project to have everything ready by 11:30 AM. All the food is moved from last night’s cold storage to kitchen counter tops. We, me and the She, lay out a plan to bring everything up to serving readiness at the same time. Once the food is served, another part of the plan kicks in.

The clean up part, dishwashing of pots and pans and baking sheets, and all the other tools used to construct the party, the big things, are placed in the three bay sink area. There a Worker Bee attacks the mountain of stainless steel, aluminum, cast iron and glass with a vengeances . Shortly after the meal is served, dirty dishes start to arrive back into the kitchen to be recycled and put back into service as soon as possible.

Just to give ya the devotion of the Worker Bee Force, one fellow who was a few years behind me and the She in high school, (yeah, me and the She were high school sweethearts, held hands in the halls when we could, the She wore my high school ring, big fuzzy angora thing on her finger, went steady, and loved it, oh and by the way, me and the She, well, me and the She, we got married and lived happy ever after, just like in the movies, at least in the movies of me and the She) Anyways, the guy we went to school with, Clifford, says he will be a Worker Bee only if he can wash the dirty dishes.

Washing the dirty dishes in a commercial dish washer is not a fun job. It’s hot, it’s wet, and at times it seems never ending. For Clifford, that’s his job as the Worker Bee Dish Washer on Thanksgiving Day. Clifford is always one of the very first to call and volunteer, in fact Clifford contacted me in August to see if the Thanksgiving Dinner was a go. When I said yes, he said “put me down as dish washer”.

This year it turned out that Clifford was too ill to come to Grand Central on Thanksgiving Day. He was heartbroken, as if he’d let everyone down. He left a message on the answering machine apologizing while near tears expressing his regrets for not being able to do his part. The message was heart rendering. And even though too ill to be there on Thanksgiving Day, this year, he asked to be the first volunteer for next year, and to put him down as dishwasher.

As I filled in for Clifford this year, another Worker Bee, Don, walked into the kitchen, saw the pile at the three bay sink, walked over and started the process of turning the dirty mountain into clean kitchen ware. Don said “They taught me this in the army, I might as well show my skills.” When Don walked away from the three bay sink , a mountain of dirty had disappeared.

Worker Bees, God love ‘em. A special place must exist in heaven for those who are willing to devote their time or treasure and for some, both time and treasure, to help their fellow man along the way. The Clifford’s and Don’s of the world, along with all those who so unselfishly gave their time and energy to the cause, they’ve never sought the lime light in life, yet have surly, by their actions, they’ve gained favor in heaven.

A most sincere thank you from me and the She, we love you all. You know who you are, and so does God. Next year we pray to do it all over again.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing With November & Color TV, Devils & Angels, Thanksgiving Day and Worker Bees

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Talkin’ ‘bout rednecks, Time By Committee, November Snow, Penn State & Sadness, Doing What’s Right, Humpty Dumpty & The Horses, Welcome To Thanksgiving Dinner.

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing,

I’m sure ya think you’ve heard all heard the “redneck jokes” in the world, and some of you may very well believe they apply to me, maybe they do, at least some of ‘em. But I’ve got a bit of a different take on those kinda jokes ‘bout hillbillies like me. It seems to me, as a “redneck” there are some other qualities that have not been fully exposed in this redneck joke business. It’s with that thought in mind that I propose you consider the following and reach your own conclusions as to where you actually fit in this business of identifying the rednecks in our society.

You might be a redneck if: It never occurred to you to be offended by the phrase, ‘One nation, under God..

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never protested about seeing the 10 Commandments posted in public places.

You might be a redneck if: You still say Merry Christmas’ instead of Winter Festival.

You might be a redneck if: You bow your head when someone prays.

You might be a redneck if: You stand and place your hand over your heart when they play the National Anthem

You might be a redneck if: You treat our armed forces veterans with great respect, and always have, and always will.

You might be a redneck if: You’ve never burned an American flag, nor intend to, ever.

You might be a redneck if: You know what you believe in and you aren’t afraid to say so, no matter who’s listening.

You might be a redneck if: You think the best part of freedom is not having to worry about it, while at the same time you always remember those who keep you free.

You might be a redneck if: You know that you will “do the right thing” when it must be done.

You might be a redneck if: You would help a complete stranger in their time of need.

You might be a redneck if: You respect your elders and raised your kids to do the same.

You might be a redneck if: You’d give your last dollar to your best friend in need.

You might be a redneck if: You still say please and thank you to everyone when you need to say so.

As you may well guess, not everybody in the world’s a redneck, but it’s surprising when you apply my criteria, how many of us are. Are you a redneck? Just a little bit? Do ya ever say thank you? You redneck, you!

We went back to “slow time” a couple weeks ago. I hate it! It’s 5:00 O’clock in the afternoon and it’s dark, 6:00 O’clock in the morning and it’s daylight. Slow time sucks, it just does, always has, always will. When I was a kid in downtown Toto, the time line for central standard time / eastern standard time was the eastern sate line of Indiana, over there by Ohio. And then the politicians got involved in setting our clocks, and we all know what that means. Chaos with a capital K. Have ya ever seen good public decisions made by committees? Few and far between.

Every year the very first snow is special. Many times it occurs at night and ya wake up one morning and the world’s white. That’s kinda neat, but this year I got to watch the very first flakes as they descended upon the EastWing.

It was not a blizzard, mind you, just little snowflakes falling from an overcast sky and the wind blowing out of the west. And so it was the little snowflakes came down at an angle to the grass. Not even enough to cover the grass at first, not ever a slight “dusting” of the white, just snowflakes in the wind. As it snowed for the first time in November 2011. Shortly after dark, ‘bout 5:00 O’clock, big snowflakes, much larger than dinner plates, covered the EastWing decks within seconds. Special snow, those first huge flakes of winter. It only took two flakes to cover the windshield of Mr. Lincoln. Big snowflakes, that’s for sure. But special first snow of November. The next morning when I went out to go to work, just picked those two big flakes off my windshield and didn’t even have to scrape away the frost. Big snowflakes, weighed about ½ lb apiece.

Such sadness out of Penn State University. One of the most respected figures in college sports forever to be remembered, not for his accomplishments, but for what he didn’t do, and rightly so. And it seemed so simple to do what was right. Choices in life, the decisions made, how they linger, how they every flood your soul. In the darkness of the nighttime, such decisions made, can never, ever be reversed.

From time to time, life learning lessons sweep across our nation, the Penn State sorrow is one such lesson. All too often we, as a people, tend to ignore these opportunities for learning lessons of life, even though they may very well be tests from God, just to see how we’re doing along the way. If that be the case, sometimes we come up short. Way short sometimes, and it seems this may well be one of those times

The life lesson to be learned from the Penn State tragedy is simple, so simple it slipped past the mind of the most winning football coach in NCAA history. Do what’s right. There’s never been a time in human history where it’s been wrong to do what’s right. Just think how much society would have gained if “do what’s right” had been done at Penn State, when it was time to do what was right, by the football coach.

Much like Humpty Dumpty, the time to “do what’s right” can never be done over again. The window of opportunity to “do what’s right” is so small, and once closed, forever closed, without regard to regret. That window closed. And All The Kings Horses………

Three forces of nature, i.e. time, wind and rain have combined to finally strip my beautiful yellow leaved maple tree of all her leaves for the year. But she hung tuff, that pretty Yellow Leafed Maple Girl, the very last tree in the south garden of the EastWing to shed the leaves. Everybody else was done shedding leaves two weeks ago. She won the contest of who can hold the leaves the longest.

Now her new leaves won’t be back until the springtime returns to the valley. By then we’ll all be looking for the very first signs of spring, much the same as we look for the signs of fall. Little signs at first, like the first ripe pumpkin ya see, then a slight change in the way the air feels on your skin, even when it’s still warm, the humidity’s all gone, just another sign, the grass stops growing, and the list get longer and longer. And then it snows.

Wow! Just four day before Thanksgiving! Welcome one and all to Grand Central Station for your Thanksgiving Dinner. In the company of friends, in the company of neighbors, in the company of those who love their neighbor like themselves, welcome. In the company of Christian People who give thanks to God for what they have in life. Welcome one and all, to Grand Central Station on Thanksgiving Day for a meal starting at 11:30 AM. It’ll be a fun day for all. My family and I, we look forward to saying hello in person, there at Grand Central Station, downtown by the street clock in North Judson. We’ll see you there.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Talkin’ ‘bout rednecks, Time By Committee, November Snow, Penn State & Sadness, Doing What’s Right, Humpty Dumpty & The Horses, Welcome To Thanksgiving Dinner.

I wish you well,

Gleaners Hall and Thinking ‘Bout Turkey Dinners Past and Future.

Greeting to all and welcome to my new friends to the EastWing.

November had hardly started when a lady came into my office and said “Bob are ya gona have the Thanksgiving Dinner again this year?” I said “Oh sure, I gotta do that.” She said “With the economy being in such bad shape, I didn’t know if you could afford it or not.” I told her “I can’t afford not to.” She said “ If you say it that way, there must be more to it than just having a Thanksgiving Dinner.” And so I told her the story of why I’d said “I can’t afford not to”.

It was the Sunday before Thanksgiving in 1955, that I walked into the Gleaners Hall in downtown Toto for the “Free Turkey Dinner”. I’ve long since forgotten the group who provided the meal, but I still do remember the outcome.

Keep in mind this was before computers, before email, before instant communication. Telephones were still party lines, and most people in Toto weren’t even on the party line. News was reported in Toto by posting signs on utility poles. The sign poles read “Free Turkey Dinner at the Gleaners Hall, the Sunday before Thanksgiving on Nov. 20th at 5:00 PM”. We read the news on the poles and so we went to the Gleaners Hall, that Sunday, late afternoon, after dark, ‘cause we were hungry little hillbilly boys and a free turkey dinner sounded pretty good.

By the time I got there, a line all the way outside the door, stood waiting to join the party , I joined the line to join the party. Then stood in the darkness awaiting my turn. Everything in front of me was illuminated only by the light shining from the open door of the Gleaners Hall, behind me was the darkness of the Toto night. When I got to stand in the doorway, the very first thing that caught my eye was, the workers, the people putting on this “Free Turkey Dinner”, I knew not their names, and I knew not their faces. They all seemed to be strangers to Toto. ‘Cause in Toto, everybody knew everybody in 1955.

They were dressed alike, all the men and all the women, dressed alike. They all looked the same, those men and women. All the men had beads, all the women had little white scarves on their heads. They all, both men and women, had long white aprons. The kind that ya gotta put over your head before ya tied ‘em behind your back. All the men had their long white shirt sleeves rolled up half way to their elbows. It looked to me like they’d all come to the free turkey dinner in a work uniform.

The very first thing I had to do upon gaining access to the inside of Gleaners Hall was to write my name in a book on a little stand, at the right side, just as ya got inside the door. A feller stood by the book, and said to me “would you please write your name”, and so I wrote my name in the book. It was the first time I’d ever had to sign y name in order to eat. I was so glad I knew how to write my name. I wrote my name in cursive. I wondered if they’d let ya eat if ya couldn’t write your name. But I was sure glad I could write, ‘cause I was hungry. And after all the feller didn’t say print your name. So I wrote BobbyRay Howard in cursive.

As the line moved toward the food and away from the “Book of Names”, I looked behind me, I was not at the end of the line any more, that’s for sure. The line of Hungary Hillbillies continued to extend well beyond the front door out into the cold darkness of the slow time of a Toto Night , that Sunday before Thanksgiving, in 1955.

The next stop on my journey to the Free Turkey Dinner was to receive a really flimsy paper plate and a rolled up paper napkin with instructions from the worker who handed me the items saying “Here’s your utensils”. At that point in my life, I didn’t know what the person meant when she said to me, “Here’s your utensils” ‘cause we’re hillbillies there at Toto, we didn’t have utensils, we had spoons and forks and knives, we didn’t have paper plates either.

There were only two people in front of me waiting for their food, when all hell seemed to break loose in the Gleaners Hall. As he walked away from the food service line, with a full plate of Free Turkey Dinner, a boy, my same age, dropped most of this food on the floor. His mashed potatoes and gravy along with the cranberries, sled from this plate onto the wooden floor of Gleaners Hall. A Category 5 Disaster in the form of potatoes, gravy and cranberries on the Gleaner Hall floor swept thru the Free Turkey Dinner.

As if the world had come to an end, everything stopped. The men, with their white shirt sleeves already rolled up, all joined in the effort to clean the floor of the mashed potato, gravy and cranberries. From that Cat 5 Disaster, I’d learned one thing really important, whatever you do, don’t drop the potatoes and gravy on the floor.

With the flimsy white paper palate, it was an effort to keep the potatoes and gravy in place on the plate walking around to find an empty spot to sit down. But soon managed to find a place on a long row of wooden tables with built in seats. They were arranged length ways to the building, like picnic tables inside the house.

I unrolled the paper napkin and found a little white plastic fork and plastic spoon. My utensils. I’d never seen these things before, plastic spoons and plastic forks. The plastic spoon worked pretty good for eating the mashed potatoes, gravy and dressing and the cranberries. It was when I got to the eating of the turkey with that little plastic fork that things went terribly wrong.

Having no knife, I tried to use the little white plastic fork to cut the turkey. As the fork broke, one of the workers, standing close by me, started laughing. I just knew she was laughing at me. I was never more embarrassed and ashamed in my whole life. I wanted to get away, I wanted to be away as fast as I could go. I just had to get away from where I was. I had to get away or die. There was no other choice, get away or die. Many years later I realized the lady was not laughing at me, but at that very moment, the moment of the laugh, that sound penetrated to my very soul, to my very being as a human. I had to go or die.

With tears in my eyes, I got up and ran out of the Gleaners Hall there at Toto, and ran all the way home. I cried for a long time that evening. It was the first time in my life I’d felt that I’d been looked down upon ‘cause I was “poor white trash, ‘cause I was just a hillbilly boy”.

It was somewhere in the darkness of that cold November Night, somewhere around the time that the Thanksgiving Dinner became yesterday and tomorrow became today, I promised God that there’d be a time in my life that I’d provide a free Thanksgiving Dinner, not the Sunday before, but on Thanksgiving Day. It wouldn’t be for “poor white trash hillbilly boys” but for everybody in the world wanting to be thankful for what they have in life. My meal would be served, not on paper plates and little white plastic forks, but on white china plates with real knives and forks and spoons, the kind that hillbillies use.

Time marched on. Years passed. I grew up, received an education, got married, had babies, and never forgot about the promise made of a free Thanksgiving Dinner. A promise made to God. A promise that had to be kept sometime in my future. I never wondered when it would happen, but always knew it would.

Neither the She, nor the family I’d raised, ever knew the story of the Free Turkey Dinner at the Toto Gleaners Hall that Sunday before Thanksgiving, 1955. It was when we, as a family, we were deciding whether or not to create Grand Central Station in North Judson, that I told ‘em the story.

The time was right to keep the promise, and so as a family, we decided that as long as Grand Central existed, there would always be a Thanksgiving Dinner on Thanksgiving Day, and we would invite the whole world. We have in the past and continue to do so this year.

That very first Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central Station, we had 31 guests. At that time we were operating Grand Central Station as a full service restaurant. Many people thought the advertisement of FREE THANKSGIVING DINNER, was just a ploy to be able to charge $12.95 for Coke-A-Cola. It was not a ploy. The Coke was also free. Our success has grown over the years. Last year we had a little over 400 guest for dinner. This year is our 7th Thanksgiving Dinner at Grand Central Station we hope to have at least 500 guests. We do hope you’ll join us for dinner on Thanksgiving Day.

So now ya know why, when it comes to the Thanksgiving Dinner, I have to say “I can’t afford not to”. It’s a promise that must be forever kept. It’s just one of those things. It’s not like you can promise God something and have your fingers crossed behind your back….. ‘Cause God sees your fingers too.

Should you think you’d enjoy a Thanksgiving Day Meal in the presence of people who love their neighbors, and are thankful for the things in their life, welcome to Grand Central Station on Thanksgiving Day. We’ll see you there ‘bout noon or so.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Gleaners Hall and Thinking ‘Bout Turkey Dinners Past and Future.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

Welcome November, Thursdays, The Groundhog War, Laser Lights from God, Sophia Smiles

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

October sure seemed to have flown by in fine style. When ya have a great Indian Summer, like we did this year, October goes fast, and so it did. November, a true transitional month, takes us to the very brink of winter. ‘Cause everybody knows that winter starts December 1st.

Did ya ever hear the term “Solar Winter”? Well it started yesterday. It’s the quarter of a year in which North America, (that’s the part we live in) has the shortest amount of daylight in a given 24 hour period. It has to do with the Earth’s orbit around the sun in relationship to turning on its own axis. Solar Winter is kinda star gazing stuff that most people don’t give a damn one way or the other.

But to star gazers, it’s kinda cool, or should I say kinda cold. ‘Cause that’s the outshoot of Solar Winter, our part of the world gets cold. Solar Winter is also the official middle of the Autumn Season. Now the only thing between us and the calendar start of winter in late December is Thanksgiving Day. And we’re sure gona talk more ‘bout that next week.

Did ya ever hear anybody say a single good thing ‘bout Thursday? I didn’t either. Every other day has its ups and downs, and mostly the ups outnumber the downs, but Thursday seems to be all downs. It’s like the bummer day of the week, it just out numbers the downs.

Sunday is a enjoyable day for most people, many got to church Sunday Morning, come home have a nice meal, watch football in the fall and winter, watch baseball in the spring and summer or go play golf. Monday is a dread day ‘cause ya gotta go to work. Tuesday is the best day to have your new car order go down the assembly line, ‘cause fewer mistakes are made at work on Tuesday than any other work day. Wednesday is the “hump” day, and you’re over half way to the weekend. Friday is TGIF ! And ya play on Saturday.

And all the time Thursday is just hanging in there between Wednesday and Friday, just taking forever to get over with. Some folks even think Thursday is the longest day of the week. I’ve never measured Thursday, so I’ll defer my opinion to those who’ve done such things. Now if it turns out to be a day and a half, so be it. Just more Thursday downs.

In any event, it seems the best thing one can congregate in relationship to Thursday is to say it’s the last day before TGIF! Just keep in mind that when you get to the last day before TGIF! You’ve accomplished a lot during the week. Don’t take my word for it, just ask Thursday.

Well, the great Groundhog War of the EastWing couple weeks ago. It was a late Saturday afternoon, when all hell broke loose in the front gardens of the EastWing. The She just happened to be outside in the front garden at the time of the outburst. The She yelled at me “ The Lady and Bentley’s got something cornered across the road! Come and see what they’ve got!”

By the time I arrived at the site of the action, it had evolved into a mopping up operation. The battle was over and the smoke was clearing away. Once again, the home land had been defended against a pillaging Groundhog. Gray Lady James and the Bentley had turned back a Groundhog attack on the EastWing. They’d disposed of the Groundhog in short order and were now in the “let’s show ‘’em how tuff we really are” mode.

First the Gray Lady grabbed the recently deceased Groundhog and shook with all her mite. Then it was the turn of the Bentley. When Bentley James picked up the Groundhog in his mouth to show off his Groundhog shaking skills, it was a site to behold. Imagine, if you will, a 90 lb Pit Bull and a 15 lb Groundhog. The Pit Bull struts his stuff. Bentley’s technique was to shake like crazy and then toss the Groundhog in the air and catch ‘em on the way down. Bentley James, even though he’s one of the most gentle of God’s creatures, he sure knows how to shake, rattle, and roll a Groundhog. Good boy, that Bentley James.

When I got too close, the Gray Lady grabbed the Groundhog and ran into the tall grass of the open field to the south of the EastWing. To follow the birddog was fruitless. The field is the hunting ground of the Gray Lady, and she knows every inch. The Gray Lady and the Groundhog disappeared into the thickness of the tall grass. It was some two hours and well after dark before the Gray Lady and Bentley decided to come in for the night.

Come Sunday Morning, I found the Groundhog laying at the front door. Much the same as every bird the Gray Lady from her hunting field, the Gray Lady brings ‘em home. She just brings ‘em all home to show me the catch, and so she did that Sunday Morning to end the Great Groundhog Hunt of 2011.

With no fanfare, the Groundhog was buried in front of one of the Earth Angels in the north gardens behind the house, out there by the garage . In an unmarked grave, much the same as the disposed dictator of Libya, I buried the Groundhog. Too bad the Bentley didn’t get hold of that feller in Libya. That would’ve been such a site. I think Bentley and the Gray Lady could have settled that deal in an afternoon.

Did you get to see the Northern Lights on October 24th ? WOW! A Laser Light Show From The Gods! I last saw that light show when I was a kid in downtown Toto, back in the day. It was special then, it still is now. I’m glad I saw the show this year. The Northern Lights are one of those things ya just never know when it’s gona happen. When the Sun decides to burp, a light show comes to Earth and the sky walks.

It’s way too completed to talk ‘bout electromagnetic forces of the north and south pole and stuff like that right now. And besides if I’d start talking ‘bout that stuff, it’d put most people to sleep. It’s just better to enjoy the laser lights from God when it happens. At least now, we’ve learned enough about those things to know a little in advance when it’s gona happen. But even that being said, we were off by about 12 hours when we thought the lights would first appear. Oh well, we were close.

An interesting friendships has developed in the EastWing. It’s Bentley and the Gray Lady James, when it comes to the outside world, they’re the “Wolf Pack” of the EastWing. Great White Hunters, Bentley and the Gray Lady James. Inside the house, it’s Bentley and Spike The Man Cat. Don’t know why that ever worked out the way it did, it just did. Inside, Spike and the Bentley, buds for life.

Yet everybody knows, they all just know, that Sophia, The Calico Republican Cat, still reigns supreme when it comes to the “boss” of the EastWing. All the while Sophia struts her little cat ass around like she’s the Queen of Sheba, or something, just showin’ off. Did ya ever see a Calico Cat smile? If not, come visit the EastWing, it’ll make your day. Damn Republican Cat.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, Welcome November, Thursdays, The Groundhog War, Laser Lights from God, Sophia Smiles

I wish you well

BobbyRay

Trick or Treating with the Toto Volunteers, The Cat & The Democrats, The Little Tinny Candy Bars of Halloween

Greeting to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

One of the really fun things ‘bout tellin’ stories from the EastWing is I’ve been doing ‘em long enough that some folks are starting to remember the good ones, (which are few and far between) and from time to time, they’ll ask that I tell ‘em again. The Halloween Story from 2008 falls into such a category. And so once again I’m gona talk ‘bout Halloween in Downtown Toto in 1955, when the goblins reined, as the Army of the Toto Volunteers marched into the darkness of the night to conduct the serious business of trick or treating on Halloween in downtown Toto.

The biggest holiday, bar none, in Downtown Toto, when I’s a kid, was Halloween. Now ya had the other important stuff like New Years Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, 4th of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, but none of ‘em could match up to Halloween. It was a holiday designed completely for little hillbilly boys in their middle tens and elevens.

It was a time that tried boys souls, a time to test the courage, to face the fears of the nighttime darkness, knowing things were out there and not knowing what or where. A time to see whether the testosterone had yet started to work, or if ya even had any. A time to be both horrified and happy in the same heartbeat. A time to scare little sisters. A time to face the boo of the darkness. A time to step into the shadow of the valley, a time to fear. A time to march, to prowl the darkness in the company of the band of little brothers. we were the Toto Volunteers, we were proud, we were one. We still are.

The Halloween Bounty seemed limitless, so much so that we, the Toto Volunteers, never made any attempt to control its access. We could have, we chose not to. Toto could well have become the model Trick or Treat Community for the National Standard of Trick or Treat, had we choose to make it so. We could have, we chose not to.

The reason for such actions on the part of the Volunteers is as valid today as when the War Council discussed that very issue. There was a part, within the ranks of the Volunteers, who wanted to do to Halloween what we had been so successful in our summer campaign. Just the summer past, we had collected more pop bottles then most of the army thought existed in the world. We’d won the Pop Bottle Wars of Toto.

The issue of the Halloween Candy was brought to the War Council not by inexperienced people with no knowledge of war, but from people seasoned by fire on the front lines of the Pop Bottle Wars. People who were even as old as 11 and one was 12, and one even held the rank of sergeant.

Now in the Toto Volunteers, we had a little different ranking system than the regular army. Our system was more simple. I got to be the General. There were three sergeants, and everybody else got to be privates. That way we didn’t have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out who was in charge. Besides, we didn’t have different uniforms so it was a lot easier to just remember a few to salute, otherwise everybody would be saluting each other all day long for nothing.

The Halloween Options, as they would become know to the Volunteers, were quite simple, two different choices. The first choice being the Toto Volunteers go Trick or Treating the night before the real Halloween and then go again the next night, that way everybody gets twice as much stuff. The second choice would be for the Volunteers would charge everybody Trick or Treating in Toto, and not a member of the Volunteers, a nickel. It was just two weeks till Halloween and the War Council wanted to make a decision on the spot, but I told ‘em the decision was too important, it’d have to wait for a while. I had to think this one out right.

One of the things I learned by being the General of the Toto Volunteers was when I didn’t know what to do, I could always ask my dad. I’d act like I was just a little kid asking a dumb question, not like a general seeking consultation on an issue of possible war. When I talked to my dad about such important matters we usually done our man to boy talks on the porch swing, even in late October man to boy talks worked better in the swing on Sunday Evenings just ‘bout dark.

As we sat swinging I said “Did ya ever go trick or treating?” My dad said “Yep” “Did ya ever go trick or treating the day before Halloween?” My dad said “Nope” I said “why not?” My dad said “Did ya ever have a birthday party a day before your birthday? Could ya have the 4th of July Picnic the day before? What would happen to Christmas if ya didn’t have the 25th of December, not the 24th but the 25th?” I was starting to see my dad’s point of view on this matter of trick or treating a day early, as we swung together on the front porch in the crisp autumn air just nine days before Halloween.

I said “Ya think a person could make somebody pay a nickel to go trick or treating” My dad said “Not in Toto, cause everybody that tricks or treats in Toto don’t have any money to start with, and besides who’d be dumb enough to even try to get somebody to pay to go trick or treating?” I didn’t say nothing. One of the good things about talking with my dad in that swing was, he didn’t make me say anything if I didn’t want to, and right then I sure didn’t want to. So we just swung on the porch, me and my dad, and didn’t say anything for a long time, till we got done swinging.

So there is was. Ya can’t go the night before ‘cause that’s dumb, and nobody’s got any money and if ya even ask someone to pay that’s dumb too. My dad conveyed a great deal of wisdom from the confines of that swing on the front porch in Downtown Toto. He made my job of being general a lot easier on more than one occasion. Guess that’s the kinda stuff ya know when ya get to be a Baptist Preacher, like my dad.

Well, I had my answers now I only had to deal with the Toto Volunteers. I spent most of that night trying to figure out a way to get the War Council on my side. I knew what I had to do but wanted them to tell me, not me tell them. Somewhere in the darkness, about the time today turned into tomorrow and became yesterday, I finally figured a way to present my views to the Council. The next day I called an after school meeting of the War Council of the Toto Volunteers. We met on my front porch and I sat in the same swing as when I had talked to my dad just one day before.

Now one of the downside products of victory on the battle field is the overwhelming desire to repeat the same feat over and over again. I was not about to let that happen to the Toto Volunteers. As soon as everybody was present I presented my plan. The plan was simple. I couldn’t choose which one I liked the best so we would do ‘em both.

But for the trick or treat the night before Halloween we’d all have to have get our moms to sign a letter saying we could go out after dark just in case someone wanted to know why we were there at their house a night early for trick or treat, so we could tell ‘em our moms said we could come trick or treating early. Also everyone had to ask their mom if she thought it would be ok to charge people for trick or treating in Toto.

I had printed out a letter to give every volunteer. Because I ran the mimeograph machine at California Township School I ran off 14 copies of the letter, on my lunch hour. I had printed it on a stencil and it looked really professional, and most every word was spelled ok. As the volunteers read the letter, ya could still smell the mimeograph ink, it was that blue kind and it had its own smell, ya couldn’t describe it, ya could just smell it. I could tell by their looks that they were gona have a hard time getting their moms to sign that letter. I knew for sure I wouldn’t ask my mom to sign the letter. I’d be afraid to even show my mom that letter.

One kid said “my mom’ll kill me if she sees this letter, I’m not gona take it home”. He brought his letter back and reached it to me saying “let’s just go regular trick or treating”. Some of the others thought we could still do both options. My faith was in the letter they took home.

The next morning at the bus stop not a single volunteer who took the letter home wanted to talk about it. One kid said “I might not even want to go trick or treating this year, I don’t know if I do or not. I’ll just have to wait till Halloween and see”. The plan was working.

Two days later the War Council of the Toto Volunteers made a decision to do regular trick or treating in Toto and to make sure nobody would ever do anything except regular trick or treating in Toto forever and ever in the future. We, the Toto Volunteers, took a solemn oath to forever protect the unrestrained right to trick or treat in Toto Indiana on Halloween without interference from anybody forever and ever. That right to trick or treat in Toto has been protected to this very day.

And then came the politicians, regulating trick or treat hours. I think it was a republican thing first, probably too damn tight to buy candy for little kids. Then the democrats jumped on the band wagon, probably with a bribe of some sort from the republicans. A pox on both their houses, to even think ya can regulate Halloween.

Next thing ya gona hear is some smart ass in Washington will propose to make Halloween a Federal Holiday and place on the last Monday in October, in order to bring it in line with the other fake Monday Federal Holidays. It wouldn’t surprise me if Obama tries to move Easter to the day after. Easter Monday doesn’t have a good sound to it, but one less work day for the democrats. We now may need both an Easter and Halloween Czar. Two Czars, ‘cause that jobs just too big for one Czar.

Now the towns announce the time to go trick or treating. Trick or treating at 4:00 PM is like kissing your sister at high noon in a public park, it’s just not that much fun. The question that comes to mind is what ya gona do if some little monster tricks or treats before or after the set deadlines?

If ya shoot ‘em all ya get the guilty. Hey Sophia!!! OH MY GOD ! Sophia’s dressed up like a democrat!

The fall season has kicked in to high gear on this last Sunday of October, 2011, tomorrow’s Halloween. We’ve so enjoyed your company in the EastWing this evening, thank you for coming by.

This time tomorrow as the shades of nighttime wrap around the EastWing, goblins, large and small, will be marching in demanding stuff like Candy Corn, Milk Duds in those little yellow boxes, Pop Corn Balls rolled up in Saran Wrap, Cracker Jacks, Jelly Beans and Milky Ways, not the regular ones, the little tinny kind, ‘bout half the size of your index finger. Little candy bars. Babe Ruth’s, Snickers, Tootsie Rolls, Hershey’s, bite size Peanut Butter Cups, and Peppermint Patties.

Halloween, ya gotta love it. Sophia dressed up like a democrat!!! Damn!!

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the East Wing Trick or Treating with the Toto Volunteers, The Cat & The Democrats, The Little Tinny Candy Bars of Halloween.

I wish you well,

BobbyRay

End of Summer & Un-Lady Bugs of Autumn, Plato & Starke County Politics, Rambo & The Gun Clip, Snakes & Apples

Greetings to all and welcome new friends to the EastWing.

It was fun, that Indian Summer 2011. Now Indian Summer’s sometimes great and sometimes not so great. Sometimes long and sometimes not so long. This time, was long. Thank you Indian Summer, you brought happiness into the EastWing after the first frost. You reminded us all ‘bout the joys of summer past. We had fun in that Indian Summer of 2011, we danced and played in your warm sunshine, Indian Summer. To the Chiefs and Medicine Men, who always appear in the smoke of Autumn, the powers that control Indian Summer, we thank you. This year, 2011, it was such a trip. Wow! An Indian Summer for the ages.

But you also brought those damn little lady like bugs that really piss me off! I’m sure that many of you can relate to my sentiments on those little fellers, those bugs that look like ladies. They came from China ya know, brought here to control a particular parasite in the east coast tobacco crop. More precisely the North and South Carolina tobacco crops.

Major concerns were expressed by the professionals who knew about the dangers of bringing non native creatures from one part of the world and transplanting them elsewhere. Even when it sounded like a good idea to take care of the little parasite in the tobacco plant, it seemed to be a good idea at the time. Those that knew the danger of such activity were effortlessly dominated by those who had only an interest in getting reelected to congress.

Does the name Storm Thurmond ring a bell? The next time you smell one of those little messy unlady like bugs, think about Strom Thurmond. It was the sole political influence of one old, old senator from the state of South Carolina that brought these little unlady like bugs to this country. Just another reason to support term limits for elected officials everywhere. Damn stinky bugs. Damned old senator that done us all dirty.

Now if you thought the worst thing this man ever done in his life time was being a member of the KKK, that was second worst. Calling in political favors in order to assure votes to approve the import of this species of insect into the tobacco growing regions of the east coast, that’s the worst thing this man ever done to this nation as a whole in his lifetime. Damned old senator, smelling like those nasty little bugs.

This terrible disservice to our great nation is justification alone for the enactment of term limits on all elected officials, from the president to the most local elected office. The most amazing thing is that every candidate for elected office at every level of government I’ve ever talked to on the issue of term limits, they’re all for term limits. Then they get elected and the game changes the next day. I’ve not supported elected officials for reelection in the past, based solely on their change in position on term limits.

Once had a member of the United States House of Representatives tell me “Bob if I’d have know how much I didn’t know, then I wouldn’t have even run for congress. Now that I do know what I know, I’m afraid to let anybody else have the seat. The job’s just too important to turn over to an amateur”. I reminded that feller he was that same amateur just four years ago. And what about the other 240 or so years before him and all those other amateurs that held the job too important for an amateur.

He said “you’re not gona support me, are you?” I said “no, you told me two terms is all I want in Washington and I’m out of there”. “So, no I’m not gona support you”. We didn’t part friends, me and that congressman from Indiana’s Second Congressional District. He lost the election that year. I was glad he lost, ‘cause I felt that feller had told me a lie.

It always amazes me how elected officials become so much smarter than the electorate within days after their election into office. Seems someone said something to the fact “don’t become involved in politics and you’ll be governed by your inferiors”. I’m not sure if Ben Franklin said that or was it Thomas Jefferson. But I do know it was Plato who said “Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber”. That Plato feller had a way with words. I so wish he lived in Starke County Indiana right now. I’d encourage him to run for County Commissioner. But he’d probably be too smart to do that in Starke County.

Such true statements, be it the national level all the way down to the local county government, and even into the township level. It seems that those who seek an elected office should never be elected. Apply that concept to every level of government, and you’ll be amazed. How well it fits. Seems it’s an ego thing with people who want to be elected officials.

Right here at our own local level of government we are no better or worse than the rest of the country when it comes to this matter. “Too smart to engage in politics, get punished by being governed by those who are dumber”. Too bad the politicians in our lives don’t know ‘bout Plato. I wish they did. But don’t’ think it’d make a difference, ‘cause it’s an ego thing. But I’m like so many others, too lazy to get involved in politics and am being punished by being governed by those dumber.

I think I already told you ‘bout a county commissioner who one time told me “only 10% of the people in Starke County know what’s really good for ‘em”. He got beat in the next election. I guess ’cause he was so much smarter than the voters he tried to represent. Yeah, right.

It’s just carp like that, that makes Sophia the Republican Cat want to go at ‘em all, and believe me, the cat’s ready to go at a moment’s notice. Ya gotta remember, Sophia walks with swagger, and carries concealed weapons.

Standing almost 8” tall and weighing in right at 8.0 lbs, some may think something that small surly couldn’t make a big bang in the political realm. Did ya ever hold in your hand a stick of dynamite? One stick is about 8” tall and weighs 8 oz. By sheer weight, Sophia would equal 16 sticks of dynamite. By destructive force, ‘bout equal. Damn tuff Republican Cat, Sophia.

It’s sometimes hard to keep the cat in the cradle.

Such fun reading your comments ‘bout me and the opossum and Rambo of the EastWing. It was with so much delight that I read all those emails. I’ll just take a couple minutes here and respond to a whole bunch of emails, all at the same time.

Yes I shot an ‘possum. Yes I did put the little red dot on the ‘possum’s head and squeezed the trigger really slow, and yes, the bullet did go where the red dot was. No, I did not have two gun belts strapped across my shoulders. Give me a break here, It was a .22 caliber pistol with a laser site, I didn’t need gun belts strapped across my shoulders. I only had one gun clip of bullets duct taped to my chest. Yes, at that moment, when I slowly squeezed the trigger with the red dot in place, I was, at that moment, at that very moment, Rambo of the EastWing!

The Rambo reference is a metaphor, now that’s a word used to describe somebody or something or a part of a word or phrase that is not meant literally, but by means of a vivid comparison expresses something about him, her, or it, e.g. should I say that somebody’s a snake, doesn’t make that person a real snake. But ya know what I mean. I’m sure ya know people who are snakes in grasses. ‘Cause we all know people who are snakes in grasses. Oh sure, don’t we all know ‘em well, those snakes in grasses, that’s for sure.

I even know some folks I’d call Sneaky Snakes. Maybe that’d be a double metaphor. I’m not sure if ya can have double metaphors or not, and I’m not sure if snakes are sneaky or not. Just the fact that snakes got off to a bad start in life, getting mixed up in that Eve and Apple Deal with God and all, pretty much doomed the snake to be looked down upon forever. If ya stop and think ‘bout that Apple Deal, maybe the snake was kinda sneaky. But to this very day, it don’t take too much to temp someone to take a bite of an apple, sneaky snake or not.

Stay safe in Afghanistan.

From the EastWing, End of Summer & Un-Lady Bugs of Autumn, Plato & Starke County Politics, Rambo & The Gun Clip, Snakes & Apples

I wish you well,

BobbyRay