The New Year and Losing Weight.


Muscle Man

Sitting here with the rain outside limiting my action
is that a voice I hear that gives me satisfaction
and it’s not from someone else but I hear it from within
telling me it is time to write but where do I begin
I could write about the New Year but that’s already done
with blogs galore in the fore espousing words as one
or about the rain that falls harder than before
hard enough to stop me from going out my door
but the rain is old news and it’s time for something new
but so far my brain is dead and doesn’t have a clue
I could reminisce of the year gone by but that is somebody’s news
or of the things I want to try many of which are new
many though are very old and I have tried them all before
and all of my good intentions have floated out the door
I have some resolutions so I could talk about them
one of which is to use the gym which is just around the bend
not far at all from my house a short drive it will take
the exercise is what I need the pounds I then can slate
and to cut back on my eating to help towards that score
of one hundred and fifty pounds and not a kilo more
that’s only seventeen pounds to lose most of which is fat
to replace it with the muscle that is hidden under that
but I am a man obsessed with losing as much as I can
so hiking the trails as I like to do is all a part of that plan
now all I have to do is find the will to move
and put the plan in action and get into the groove
of exercising three times a week to build the muscles more
even though I know that it will make me very sore
no pain no gain is how the saying goes
so I just need to bite the bullet and get up on my toes
work out and sweat and grunt and groan to lose a little weight
although of course the bottom line the effort I just hate
to eat less and work out more sounds just like a plan
all it takes is that first step with everything at hand
the gym is there and the larder stocked with foods of the lighter kind
so the only thing I have to do is to get myself in line
now that I have worked out a plan to take off all of the weight
I think tomorrow I will start let’s make it a date
the sooner that tomorrow comes you can be sure
I will be heading back round the bend to the gymnasium door.

Written 1/2/2019







The New Year


Lets see a quick review
of the things that I want to do
now that the New Year has already begun
and we have started to have some fun
no resolutions did I set
knowing that I would soon forget
at keeping them I am not very good
as least not as good as I should
and generally it is a waste of time
and so I have drawn the line
and instead will outline this years plan
hiking of course of which I’m a big fan
and taking pictures while I am out on the trail
with words to fit I shall prevail
and post in my blog for all to see
how words and pictures make harmony
I plan on losing a little more weight
for that what I have is extra freight
to carry around an unnecessary risk
to eat less is the way to the fix
along with working out at the gym
to try to make the body more trim
and regain the muscle that I have lost
as old age creeps on and is really the boss
so really there is a very short list
one that I can easily fix
take pictures and hike as far as I can
write in my blog for all of my fans
cut back on my eating and lose some pounds
and work out at the gym myself to confound
with just how easy it really can be
to make 2019 my legacy.

Written 1/10/2019










Feeling A Little Sad


My Sister at 18.

I have a sister and truth to tell
I do not know her very well
as she is ten years older than me
and growing up was a mystery
as I was too young to join in her games
and her friends to me were just names
she was the youngest of the older three
two brothers and her and then came me
as we were the family so urbane
Barbara Eileen was her given name
but we called her Peggy or Peg for short
how that name stuck I cannot report
she was a soldier during the war
in the ATS but who’s keeping score
the years pass and time moved on
married was she to a Scotsman name Ron
both happy to raise a family
two kids so proud for all to see
Jim and Sheila were their names
and babysitting for me was the game
as I lived with her for a short while
when my own life was in a turmoil
my share of life that I could do
as anything else I had no clue
time passed as it it always does
as we lived our lives without any fuss
then to America I did go
my sister and family also did show
along with my brother whose family and wife
had followed me there to make a good life
and as time passed some of them died
until the only ones left alive
of the adult members of the original clan
were my sister and I in all of the land
my sister now is ninety two
and until last year had every clue
and apart from being hard of hearing
was as just as sharp and just as endearing
and then this Christmas as we usually do
I called my sister which was long overdue
as in the space of the past few months
she had become confused her brain that once
was sharp and quick and was no dunce
had slipped into its senior mode
and nothing that was said would goad
her brain to react in a positive way
remaining firmly in the past
and conversation would not last
at least in anything that we could share
and even though I gave it a try
my sister did not know why
I had called or who I was
and conversation was at a loss
I spoke with Gary with whom she lives
who is married to Sheila one of the kids
and he sadly mentioned to me
that she needs to be in a Facility
that understands her very needs
and can give her the help to succeed
to live out what remains of her life
in comfort and without any strife
surrounded by caregivers trained in the ways
of those whose brain does not behave
in the way it used to do
like a poor soul that has no clue
I hung up the phone feeling very sad
for my sister whose mind has gone bad
and wondering if that is in store
any reason can I expect more
or will life be kind as I end my days
with my brain intact in so many ways
enough to know when it is time
for the life to run out of my body and mind.

Written 12/28/2018





That Time of Year Again


Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year.

Thanksgiving has come and gone
and all that is left to carry on
with Christmas next on the list
when everyone is supposed to wish
Good Health and Happiness to one and all
and to the religious to heed the call
be nice to your neighbor and wish them well
and keep to yourself no secrets to tell
it matters not who sings the song
all that is left is to carry on.
go to the store and spoil the kids
and get them whatever  they wish
for kids they will not be for long
and before you know it big and strong
as people with their own family
inviting you to their Christmas Tree
and you will sit at their table of food
before long with grand kids to add to the brood
and then you will say “What a wonderful day”
as your life if finally slipping away
and old you will be as you look at the tree
and remember back at what you see
all those many years ago
when the kids were young and you put on a show
exactly like the one today
only fifty years later as you say
“Where did the time go I’m too old to play”
as you sit in the chair with your Grand Kids today
and remember those Christmases of years gone by
the time that has passed you understand why
it has nothing to do with the time of year
the Family together bringing good cheer
its the warmth and love that a family brings
to an old man and his wife the Mother of all things.

Written 11/25/2018




Remembering the Past.


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The Round School as it was called back in 1941.

I was thinking just the other day in one of my quieter moments, of all of the years that have passed in my life and of all of the many hundreds of people I have known and countless memories that are now just brief recollections of time gone by.

The most memories that really stand out are the ones when I was just a kid starting from when I was very young at 4-5 years old until I was getting on for 11. All were about where I lived, the kids I grew up with and the war which was going on all around me. I vividly remember the troops and the jeeps and armored vehicles and the dog fights and doodle bugs and the lights reflected in the night skies of London burning during the Blitz. I remember the soldiers of different nationalities that my family would invite to our house. One in particular, Henri, a French -Canadian cleaned and polished my shoes as we were all going out to the local pub a couple of miles down the road. I remember night times sitting in our neighbor, Mr Streatfield, shelter that my brothers and Father had helped to build, listening to the guns and planes and hearing shrapnel falling on the roof, waiting for the big explosion as a bomb might fall. As it happened, we were lucky. Later on, we had an Anderson shelter which is like a very large table made of steel, that sat in our living room. Some nights we would all sleep together under this thing, just in case. We lived just 8 miles inland from the coast in a direct line of the German bombers and fighter planes on their way to London and other targets and from our vantage point midway up the hill, could see the tracer shells at night that the Artillery guns were putting up in an attempt to shoot down the enemy planes and the Barrage Balloons during the day.

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Doodle Bug. A German rocket propelled flying bomb.

Early in the war, I often watched dog fights in the sky as the British pilots would take on the German ones. These were very brief and it was not unusual to see a plane fall out of the sky with a stream of smoke emitting from it. Luckily, none crashed anywhere close to me. Another time, I watched a British Spitfire pull alongside a doodle bug which were really Flying Bombs, get close enough for it to get its wing tip under the others wing and flip it over causing it to crash and explode harmlessly into the countryside. Such are my memories.

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Battle of Arnhem showing the Allies Paratroopers dropping down

I remember sitting by the shed in the back yard and looking up as hundreds of planes, each towing a glider, on their way to Arnhem to fight another battle. I was too young to realize that many of those brave men would never return. We had a very tall and solitary Pine Tree that stood on the back corner of our lot and I remember the German plane that flew between my house and the next no more than ten feet off the ground just missing the Pine tree as he desperately looked for a place to crash land. I can even remember the look on the pilots face as he flashed by. He crashed a couple of fields over and was killed.  I was probably the last person to have seen him alive.

Living on Huggletts Lane which was about a half mile long, there were several kids all around the same age and we would bum around together. I can remember the names of some of them. There was Ivy Upfield and her brother Radford, Tony Waite, David Farmer and John Holman who was a bit of a sickly kid as he suffered from Asthma. There were Nina and Frieda who were the first to explore the difference in the sexes and used me to help them which I willingly did without a clue as to what it was all about.  My best friend was Dennis Baker but he didn’t live on the Lane but a little further down the main road in a place called Cade Street named after Jack Cade, a notorious rebel who was killed in that area by the Sheriff of London back in the 1600’s. With being such a close knit group as we were, it was no surprise that when one got sick with the usual childhood complaints, we all took it in turns to get sick. We had a local Nurse whose mode of transport was a bicycle and she would take turns in visiting us all carrying notes from one to the other as we chose to write them. The Doctor as needed, made house calls but he did at least have a car…

I remember many of the times I spent with my boyhood friends walking the fields and woods learning about Nature although to us, it was yet another game in the ongoing saga of the great explorers. We would leave in the mornings and come home late in the afternoon generally because we were hungry. We made our own fun and were never in need of entertainment. In the evening, there was the radio which we would gather around to listen to the news of the war and the wartime programs like Music Hall performed by people whose one role in life at that time was to make people laugh to take their minds off the terrible things going on all around them. I can remember when the entire family was sitting around the fire place toasting bread. We each had a slice and mine fell off the toasting fork into the fire and I wasn’t able to rescue it. That was the last of the bread due to the rationing and I went to bed hungry that night. Food rationing was something you learned to live with.

We had other excitements besides the bombers and doodle bugs when a Flying Fortress returning from a bombing raid over Europe flew over with one wing that looked like it may come off at any time as it flopped up and down. The Captain had ordered the crew to jump and they all floated down in a leisurely drop with one of them landing at the top of the Lane only to be met by most of the people that lived there all concerned for his welfare. He was OK and it was not long before the local Squire drove up and collected him to take him back to his home until the Authorities came to pick him up. We heard later that the pilot crash landed the plane on one of the temporary runways built for such events and made it out safely.

I remember learning to ride a bike only to have it taken away for a while as punishment for riding down the hill with my arms outstretched and not holding onto the handlebars, not realizing that my sister, who was looking after me in lieu of my Mother having left for America to marry a GI that she met, was watching from the window.

I was ten years younger than the my sister who was the youngest of her and two brothers. They all went off to fight in the war even my sister who was in the ATS. My oldest brother went to Egypt and came home with an Egyptian wife. My middle brother was invalided out with rheumatic fever from which he eventually died of a heart attack at a very young age. My sister was released on a compassionate discharge to look after the family.

Because I was the baby of the family, I never got to do too much with the other three but I remember one time that the four of us went out into the woods together and I managed to fall into a stream and get totally soaked. They happened to have an old bike that did not have any tires on the wheels, just the hard metal rims and Peter loaded me on to the handlebars and biked home as fast as he could. I can even remember that bumpy ride home which was worse than the soaking. When I think about it, it must have been really hard to get that bike moving without any tires.

In 1947 when I was eleven, the South of England had one of the hardest winters in history with more than twelve inches of snow falling and remaining on the ground for several weeks. During that time, I contracted an ear infection that left me deaf in both ears. I can remember sitting on the bus on the way to the Hospital for treatment and seeing a horse standing in a field covered in snow with icicles hanging from it’s mane. It was not there when I came home and I later learned that the farmer had put it into the stable.

There was a hill close to my home and following the snowfalls, all of us kids would congregate there with anything that would slide down the hill. The more prosperous of the kids even had real toboggans much to the envy of the ones that had sheets of tin or even large pieces of cardboard to make that trip down. Regardless of our means of transport, we all had fun. Snow in the South of England was a rarity as it is known as the Sun Spot of the South and generally has the mildest temperatures of the entire country.

I attended a school named the Round School in Old Heathfield. It is now called All Saints And St Richards Church Of England Primary School. The Head Mistress was a dragon of a lady by the name of Miss Ray who was very fond of her use of the cane, usually across the hands but for what she decreed as more serious offences, to the buttocks. This was administered in front of the entire class as a supposedly lesson to them all. By the way, I am no worse off for the corporal punishment meted out by Miss Ray

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While we were in school, the older boys took it in turns to stand watch. We were supposed to ring the school hand bell which was a monster of a thing that was as much as one kid could handle IF we spotted any German planes in our vicinity. If we did ring it, the rest of the kids inside the school were all supposed to get under their desks. Sometimes, we would ring it just for the hell of it.

Besides learning the three R’s, we learned practical things like Gardening and how to use hand tools and we even put on school plays in which I got the lead role one time although, I can’t for the life of me remember what part I played or even the name of the play. I do remember learning my lines on the long walks home and practicing on my friends. I found the use of the hand tools very useful and would make models in the shed that stood in the garden. I truly believe that the basic hand tool schooling I got also served me well later in life and gave me the first ideas of what I might accomplish. My Grandfather had a cabinet shop in Heathfield where he hand made the most marvelous furniture so maybe some of his skills rubbed off on me. I like to think that is the case. I also remember standing at the bottom of Huggletts Lane as my Grandfathers Funeral procession drove by and I said goodbye to that wonderful man.

I remember walking the three miles to the school rain or shine, picking up others kids along the way until there was quite a crowd when we finally arrived. The walk home was the same except for those kids who had things to do or chose to walk with their friends. There were a few shops in Old Heathfield proper including a Post Office and a grocery shop where we could buy nibs for our pens as we used old fashioned pen and ink for our schoolwork. One of the duties of the older kids in the class was to keep the inkwells filled as the ink was apt to dry out. There was another shop that sold cigarettes and tobacco and one time, my friend Dennis and I bought a ten pack of Woodbine’s. The owner had no qualms in selling them to us as the perils of smoking had not yet been identified and everyone smoked. We found a place to smoke them each having five that we smoked one after the other. We had no idea of what we were doing and didn’t realize just how ill they were going to make us. Needless to say, that cured me of any future smoking and I have never smoked since. Sometimes, if we had any money, myself and others would stop by the local Tea Shop and sit and drink a cup of tea. All this before we were eleven years old. A cup of tea cost us two pennies each and the Woodbine’s for a pack of ten was five pence. There was an Army base on the way and we would stop in to chat to the soldiers whose main job was to maintain the heavy equipment. Our big thing was to get them to sound the very loud klaxon horns just like the horns on the modern day trucks and they would be happy to oblige at least once.

A bit later on because of the problems I was having with my ears, my doctor decided that I should have my tonsils out which meant a stay in a hospital for a whole week in a small village named Uckfield fifteen or so miles from my house. My Sister took me there on the bus which was also the way we got back home following the hospital stay. Luckily, by that time most of the air raids were over as the German Forces were on the retreat. So different than from today when a Tonsillectomy is just an overnight stay.

When I was a little older than ten, I took what was called back then, the Eleven Plus exam to see if I was smart enough to attend the local Grammar School which was located in Lewis more than sixteen miles away. I passed it with flying colors. If I had not passed that exam, I would have remained at the Round School until I was fifteen, then off to work doing goodness knows what, probably training to be a Carpenter with my Uncles Construction Company. As it was, the start of the next term saw me catching the bus at the bottom of the Lane into Heathfield and then getting on another Bus that took me into Lewis and the Grammar School along with about forty or so other kids of all ages between eleven and eighteen. The Grammar School was really directed to sending the smarter kids to college. Those that did not make College would get a very good education, much better than attending the local school even without the College. As it happened, circumstances later in my life really interfered with all of that education.

No longer would I take that 3 mile walk to the Round School which I had taken every day except weekends and holidays with the kids I had grown up with. The war had been over for almost three years. My oldest brother had returned bringing his new wife and started to produce a family of three kids which were all born by Midwife in the room upstairs. Imagine what sort of impact the screams of a woman in labor had on a ten year old boy as I listened to the wonders of childbirth going on in the room above me.

My Sister had been dating a Scotsman for some time and had then married and had moved out leaving my Brother and his growing family and my Father and myself. My Father met a woman who owned a Fish Shop in Heathfield and was dating her for a while. One evening, there was a knock on the door and a Constable was standing there to inform us that my Father, biking home in the dark from one of his interludes with his new lady friend, had been in an accident and was in the Hospital in Uckfield, the same one where I had my tonsils out. He was not seriously hurt and was back home with us a week or so later. This must have convinced them to get married which they did within six months and we moved out of the house I had been born in to the Fish and Chip shop on Hailsham Road in Heathfield. As is usual with most adult things, I was not consulted as to the future of my life and so ended my life on Huggletts Lane. With the exception of Radford who came into Hailsham one time, I never got to see any of my childhood friends ever again although I did hear that Ivy had moved to Canada. I sadly said goodbye to the first part of my life with its long supply of beautiful memories that I have no trouble in recalling and can clearly envision in my mind seventy years later. There are many stories still untold of growing up on Huggletts Lane. Would I like to be back in those times even with the war on?Apart from the obvious of being young again, I would have to say that yes, I would. Things were so much simpler then with no Internet or TV and we lived in our own comfortable little world the boundaries of which did not extend very far. Alas, there is no going back…

And so started the second phase of my young life but that is another story…

Written 10/22/2018

A New Computer


Asus

Well, it finally happened. After years of relatively good service, my computer refuses to boot up. No matter what I try, it just keeps doing the same old thing, nothing. That’s not entirely true as the screen does go through several iterations but keeps ending up at the same place. I bought this from a friend who knows a lot about computers. He had taken out the video drive and installed an SSD drive in its place. All in all, between us, it has been a very good computer.

I took the opportunity to go to Office Depot to take a look at the computers they had on display. A couple of them caught my eye so I had a few questions for the computer guy who was working at the store. He answered all of them and seemed quite knowledgeable. I thanked him making a mental note of the makes and models and drove over to the Best Buy store just across the street. I wandered around for a bit looking at what they had which was a lot and wondered how I was going to be able to choose between them. I am not a gamer so the very high end computers were quickly passed over. What I did want was something with an SSD drive plus a regular storage drive and it had to have a lot of memory plus a touch screen and I found the very thing in a top of the line Asus. While I was looking at this particular computer, a sales clerk whose name was Mauricio, wandered over and answered more of the questions that I had and convinced me to go ahead with the purchase. Actually, he didn’t have to work that hard as I had pretty much made up my mind.

I followed him back to the check out station and he went through the long process of the sales paperwork. Turns out that they did not have this computer in stock and it would take two days for it to be delivered to my door. I told him that was OK but he also checked the other stores and found one in a different store in South Austin. Before he had finished telling me about it, it disappeared off the screen as someone had purchased it. So, it was back to waiting two days for the new one to be delivered.

The next day, I got to thinking. I had already arranged for them to transfer as much off my old computer that they could to the new one. I will have to re-install my program files which will be interesting as so many of them are downloads and are not on disks. Oh well, face that battle when it comes but in the meantime, I wondered if they could resurrect the old computer. So, I loaded everything in the truck and drove back to the store and luckily for me, Mauricio was on duty behind the counter. He proved to be incredibly helpful and ran a couple of tests there and then and pretty much decided that one of the two hard drives had gone bad and unfortunately, it was the one that the computer boots off to start up. That pretty much decided the fate of that computer as I didn’t need to fix it, only get the info off the drives. I left that computer with them so they could start doing whatever magic they do and drove home.

True to their word, the new computer was delivered around 1:30 pm on the second day so I jumped in my truck and took it to the store where Mauricio asked a few more questions and then I drove home. With a couple of phone calls in between, two days later I got an email telling me that my computer was ready for pick up. Not wasting anymore time, I once more jumped in my truck and made the 10 minute drive to the BestBuy store and retrieved the new computer. This is not the first new computer that I have bought as I have had several and I already knew that it would not be set up as the old one nor would it have all of my programs on it. Most of my data was either in one of the Cloud storage units or on any one of several external hard drives that I had been using over the years.

Then followed several days of pretty intense work of recovering programs, those not on a disk but requiring downloading again. Locating the unlocking key’s was a bit tricky and I still have a couple to get but as I have nothing but time, presents yet another challenge.

So, there you have it. I now own a brand new laptop with 2 terrabytes of storage and a 256 SSD drive with 2 gigs of ram. Hopefully, this one will last me for the rest of my given days. If I should outlive it say in 10 years or so, I probably wont be needing a computer anyway and if I do, I will gladly buy a new top of the line model….

Written 10/14/2018

One of Those Days…


 

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Have you ever had one of those days
when things go wrong in so many ways
no matter what you try to do
nothing goes right and you have no clue
as to what the trouble may be
making it hard to fix that you can see
as there is no pattern what is going wrong
first this then that and nothing belongs
you try something different in the hope it works
but of course it doesn’t and your head hurts
from thinking and worrying to make things go right
and your beginning to think you’ll be at it all night
you followed the instructions just as you should
that something so simple is misunderstood
you try and try with all of your might
hoping like hell to get it right
finally you put it down and admit defeat
and wander off to bed to sleep
but sleep won’t come as you toss and turn
still worrying as thoughts spin and churn
until eventually you slip away
and you’ll worry about it another day.

Written 10/13/2018