Hail To Thee Our Alma Mater…

At Johnson Shut-Ins State Park in the eighties.  A group of revelers dived from cliffs to churning waters below.  A familiar refrain rang out. “In the midst of rolling prairies, ‘neath fair skies of blue, stood our noble alma mater…”

It seemed out of place.  A product of my errant imagination.  College days, all school hikes, college pranks, relegated to yesteryear.  Other than the same alma mater, there was little in common with the celebrants.  I’d married, had family responsibilities.  Served a hitch in the Air Force, had my first real job.

At that time, I was torn.  Should I introduce myself as an alum?  Would they respect that?  Or, should I leave them alone to enjoy their moment?  I chose the latter. 

I visited college on leave, in uniform, in the early seventies. Was hesitant to do so, because of the Vietnam era.  It was late afternoon, not much activity at the student union.  One of my favorite college professors was there.  We had a pleasant conversation and coffee.   

From the perspective of a seventy-plus year old, it hadn’t been that long.  Not much more than a decade later.  So many life-changing events happened during that decade.      



Coincidence? Or Not?

My Thanksgiving with extended family was without any major incidents. There was a minor disagreement over who did/didn’t like pecan pie.

Prior to the feast, I chatted with my granddaughter’s fiancée. The discussion turned to favorite television comedies. Arjan is a personable young man from the Netherlands.

I liked some of the war-themed programs–especially those about WWII. “Hogan’s Heroes,” was one of my favorites. Even though, there was little about it that resembled actual wartime conditions.

There weren’t many American TV shows that made it to the Netherlands, reported my young friend, however, many BBC programs came his way. I liked to watch BBC programs that came over local PBS stations in the seventies and eighties.

“Monty Python’s Flying Circus, Fawlty Towers, Keeping Up Appearances, Have You Been Served?,” Just to name a few. Arjan was impressed by my complete VHS “Fawlty Towers” collection.

One of Arjan’s favorite BBC comedies, was “‘Allo, ‘Allo.” The more he described, the unfamiliar program, the more I wanted to check it out. It seemed to contain the proper amount of absurd, silly humor that I craved.

There were characters that spoke English in different dialects–French, German, Spanish, Italian. Of course, when characters spoke dialects, the others not fluent in that language, did not understand conversations–even though it was still English. That aspect of the comedy was similar to “Hogan’s Heroes,” and other American TV shows of that genre.

Which seemed strange to me today, when “‘Allo, ‘Allo” episode videos popped up on my You Tube. I’d never done a search of any kind. There had only been verbal discussions.

Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised, Spam Bots were everywhere? Were they that good?  If I looked up railway crashes, there would be numerous pop-ups for “Click here for best, cheapest, railway crashes in your area.”

Tuesday Before the Storm

Catch-up day before the madness begins. Yard mowed and trimmed yesterday. Today, Max the mighty mutt, got shampooed and had his nails trimmed

He’s still pouting, because I took him somewhere he hated to go. He’ll enjoy the trip Thursday. He’ll get to visit with his canine cousins, at our final destination.

Paying higher gasoline prices in Illinois, will be sticker shock.  Part of the new governor’s campaign promises.  Of course, the purpose was to improve roads/highways statewide.  Gas taxes were doubled.

I’ve never put much stock in campaign promises.  Four years is a long time.  Time will tell, whether or not, promises were kept.  One thing for sure, I will fill up the gas tank in Kentucky–just before crossing the state line.

Visiting with friends and family will be enjoyable for the next two weeks.  I don’t plan to waste time discussing politics.

Dr. Ben Spock (The Other Spock)

What constitutes being a good parent? Does it involve being one of the following types?  I’m inclined to think not.

Helicopter parenting: Being too involved in children’s lives. Not letting them experience failure.

Free-range parenting: Not enough involvement in raising children. Bringing children into the world to either succeed or fail on their own–where perhaps parents should have been involved more.

Snowplow parenting: This has to do with pro-sports parents asserting themselves in children’s careers. Guiding children’s careers from an early age.

Dr. Benjamin Spock wrote baby and child care books, popular when I was a child–and are still in print.  My parents, like most, followed their own beliefs and instincts.

My parents would have more likely swatted my behind, with Dr. Spock’s books than followed his advice.

Drool At Twenty Paces

Watched my grandson’s dog recently. He’s a mixed-breed mutt, like all of our dogs have been. Except he has jowls like those of a bull dog. With those jowls come the consequences of drooling. Drooling and headshaking are the worst.

My dog, Max is not perfect, but he’s not capable of propelling blobs of drool across the room. Gideon, my grandson’s dog, is very good-natured. Perhaps, with a little too much separation anxiety. I’m sure that would subside were he to visit more often. As it is now–it’s only once a year.

In our family there are mutts of all sizes, from large to small. Max is somewhere in the middle. Bogart, out youngest daughter’s dog, recently emigrated to Australia.

We like all the family dogs, grand-dogs.  Even, the newest four-year-old addition, Gideon.

Bumps In the Road

My main blogging PC crashed a week ago.  My visiting son-in-law installed a new wireless router and fixed my newest PC–that also had issues.  I’m, once again, soaring into the blogosphere.

Perhaps some of you have submitted DNA samples to one of those genealogy websites?  Formerly a skeptic, my spouse participated.

During the fifties, in rural Mid-America, extra-marital affairs were kept hush-hush.  Her paternal grandfather, was not blood-related?  She’d heard  whispers during family gatherings as a child.

Not long after DNA results were tallied, the e-mails began.  An unknown person with a considerable amount of shared DNA.  A long-lost cousin?  Surely, it couldn’t be true.

In discussions, a young lady in her forties, from my wife’s hometown, revealed details about her family.  There were too many coincidences.  Family pictures shared, and the secret was out.

There were no living relatives, to confirm or deny.  Family secrets–should they be kept secret?  I inclined to think they should be, unless it’s for health reasons.

If only computer problems and genetics were the worst things that happened this week.  On Tuesday, my wife slipped and fell while debarking from a dolphin cruise excursion boat.  She fractured her pelvis in two places.  As bad as it was, it could have been worse.

Nothing was displaced, and she can ambulate cautiously with a walker.  A painful injury to be sure.  Our visiting daughter is a nurse.  She helped to clarify questions regarding prognosis and treatment.  For the near future, I’m stepping up my game around the house.




Feet On the Ground

Speculation, is just what it is–speculation. Anyone can speculate at any time about anything.  That’s why I take all predictions with a grain of salt.

After seeing vacation pictures from Australia, last evening, where our daughters enjoyed barbecue from an eatery down under; I speculate that was the reason, we had BBQ takeout, from one of our local restaurants, tonight.  Just saying.

“Just saying.”  That’s another overused expression, I could do without.  It’s an unnecessary, pseudo-defensive, conversation filler.

Planning for our upcoming trip to Australia is well underway.  I’m like a kid in a candy store, where choosing itineraries are concerned.  There are limitations, and I don’t wish to blow the budget.

I want to see the coastline,  the mountains, local favorite hangouts, absorb some area history, view flora and fauna.  Most important, is to see our daughter, in her new place of residence.



Over the Next Hill

Since the beginning of time, humankind has wondered what was beyond the next hill.

That’s why our genetic makeup is so varied. That’s why some are surprised when they use popular sites, such as Ancestry.com and 23 and Me. You could have more German heritage, than your German citizen friend.

My step-daughters allegedly had a Native American great-grandmother on their biological father’s side of the family. His genetic report showed no such DNA evidence. This was a topic of conversation over the Holidays.

My wife, previously a skeptic, had her DNA checked and found a small percentage of Native American ancestry. My two grandsons have known Hispanic heritage. One of them had a much larger percentage, than the other.

What will my DNA reveal? Will it be different from that of my sister? Will the information conflict with what I was told growing up? My curiosity has been aroused.

Hello–How Are You?

An obligatory greeting, we’ve said thousands of times. When someone truthfully answers, it’s an awkward moment. Because, “nobody’s got time for that.”

There’s not much we really know about those outside our close circle of friends. Relatives pass away and are eulogized with a few pretty words. Did their cries for help go unanswered? Perceived as eternal blackness, for which there was no way out?  Some refuse help, even when it’s available.

My brother-in-law passed away suddenly yesterday. He was a quiet, sensitive man. No one will ever know what went through his mind in the months before his death. Two years previous, he survived another near-fatal health crises.

He bounced back, seemed to be on the mend. This summer and fall, signs were there–his personal demons were back. Emotions are still raw, but there is peace, because my friend’s soul is free.

That Same Seasonal Question

It’s amazing, the subject hasn’t been brought forth before now. Thanksgiving has come and gone. Most of the family was in attendance.

What did I want for Christmas? I’m seventy years old. Most of what I need, I already have. Those pie-in-the-sky things are no longer on my radar screen. How many widgets can one person accrue in a lifetime?

Selecting something is not an easy task. I don’t wish to burden others with too-expensive items. My philosophy is, that more reasonably priced items, (especially tools) won’t bother me as much should they break.

Seeing children, grandchildren doing well, and feeling good about themselves and their futures, is worth more than any present money could buy.