Get me out of here! Einstein at the gas pump


One of my favorite things to do when I’m on the road (as I have been quite a lot lately), is to observe my fellow travelers at the rest areas/service plazas and wonder what kinds of thoughts are going through their minds as they make their way to wherever their destinations might be.

It’s usually a pretty interesting and harmless way to pass the time out there, but there are occasions when  I encounter some who simply make me wonder what makes them tick, or if they’re even thinking at all!

For instance, on my way back from taking my mom back to Ohio the other day, I was pulled up to the gas pump and watching the numbers spin seemingly on forever. At the same time, another large vehicle pulled up on the opposite side.

The driver’s door quickly opened, and out stepped a younger guy from that generation who wear their baseball caps backwards and have bad facial hair and in need of a visit to a barber and seem to always be in a hurry.

Point in case: Yanking the nozzle and hose from the pump and unscrewing the gas cap, he had also managed to somehow insert his credit card into the slot in one effortless motion. I was impressed–in a weird sort of way.

However, as soon as the gas was being dispensed, this frizzy-haired guy pulled out a pack of cigarettes and just as dexterously as he’d maneuvered the gas cap, hose, and credit card a moment before, he slid one from the pack and flicked his Bic lighter and lit up. I was no longer impressed!

I watched him take a long and satisfying drag from his cigarette, as he stood no more than two feet away from the whirring gas pump, staring at the standard posted sign that admonished one and all that there was no smoking allowed.  Then I imagined that night’s news with photos and on-the-scene video of what remained of the service plaza that had exploded earlier in the day on the Indiana Turnpike. Yikes!


My immediate thought was how I could get out of there quickly enough to avoid being blown to kingdom come, but, of course, my gas tank was pretty well near the empty mark, so there was still a ways to go before I could beat a hasty exit from this happy traveler.

Silently willing my gas pump to somehow speed up, I couldn’t believe that someone could be so careless and inconsiderate by smoking right then and there, totally ignoring the very common—and obvious—warning signage that smoking was prohibited! As I’ve felt on so many other occasions, some people just aren’t bright!


Fortunately, nothing tragic happened and I was out and away a short time after my initial discomfort from the not-too-bright guy puffing away and thinking he looked cool and hip with his cap on wrong and his unkempt goatee.

Looking back in my rearview mirror as I sped away to the ramp back onto the turnpike, I caught a glimpse of him continuing to stare vacuously at the pump, smoking away his road-weary blues. I hope he made it to wherever he was going, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t.



Cold weather, many miles & a grandson celebration!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
The week just past…

It was another busy week trying to “fit” everything in that needed “fitting” in. Mowing,IMG_1748.jpg trimming, and spraying those nasty dandelions and continuing to get it all in shape was high on my list.

My opportunities for such tasks were very limited due to cold and rainy weather that had decided to settle in for most of the week, and I would be gone all of Thursday and Friday as well. Despite the cold, it was a dry Wednesday, allowing me to get it all done then.


We celebrated our younger grandson’s first Communion on Saturday morning and afterwards had a wonderful and relaxed get-together for lunch and fun back at his house.

The chill of the incessant rain couldn’t dampen the spirit of the day, nor the tasty variety of burgers, brats, and hot dogs our son grilled for us. They went very nicely with the potato and macaroni salads.

It was a delightful touch of a summer picnic, even though we were dressed as though it were November!

In order for Great-Grandma Pat (my mom) to attend, I had to make another whirlwind trip to Port Clinton, Ohio (about six hours away), on Thursday to pick her up.

By 8 a.m. Eastern time Friday morning, she and I were on our way back from where I’d come the day before, arriving in Illinois that afternoon.

To say that I was a bit “road weary” would be a vast understatement, but we even managed to travel a ways out to watch a few innings of the grandsons’ baseball game that evening.

It was a cold and windy affair, but we were able to park in such a spot that Grandma could stay inside the warm car and catch most of the action before we agreed that it had been a long day and it was time to head to our house for sleep. No arguments from me on that!

And as I write this now, relaxed and comforted to know that we have nowhere we need to go of any great distance today, I look back on the week which hurried right on by and count my blessings for all of the good things I have.

I am proud of my grandsons and know that whatever lies ahead in their lives, they have some very good grounding to help get them through all that lies ahead.


And, yes, Grandma Pat and I will be making the drive back to her place in Ohio tomorrow morning. I can’t wait to see that long highway once again!

Until next time…

That’s one good thing!

When did everything seem to speed up?

images.jpegAnother week rolls in, like the tide, and I’m wondering where last week ran off to! Seems as though the days and weeks grind along much more quickly than when I was young and foolish—when I couldn’t wait for things to speed up. Conversely, now that I’m old and foolisher (thanks, Mr. Twain!), I’m rather eager for them to slow down!

But since that’s not likely to happen, I’ll do the best that I can to keep up with the fleeting minutes each day and attempt to “get it all in” before another new day is staring me in the face.

Normally, I wake up each morning with a general plan of what I need/want to accomplish that day. I’ve become quite proficient at list making. Jotting things down has become a strict way of life for me, keeping me on track of the many things I need to get done: appointments, groceries, grandsons’ ballgames, potassium chloride (for the water treatment unit), yard work, etc.

I’m beginning to realize that going through life, basically, as a “pantser” no longer seems to work in the big picture. As such, I find myself more and more turning into that dreaded “plotter” as soon as I’m up and somewhat alert each morning. I have always prided myself on being able to get along very well in life–and in my writing–by flying by the seat of my pants for the most part.

Not so much these days. I’m finding a better comfort level if I take the necessary time and think things out a bit more and make those lists and actually write things down in my calendar. Is this a sign that I’m heading over the hill and the halcyon days are finished? I don’t think it’s as dire as all that, but the thought gives me pause all the same. As in a Dickens’ work, perhaps these are the shadows of things to come.

For now, though, I’ll savor the days however quickly they seem to come and go, and ride that great wave onward. Now, it’s time to check today’s list and ignore any “shadows” lurking about, telling me things I don’t want to hear! Besides, I have an appointment soon…I think…

Hey, thanks for everything!

One Good Thing…
It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.
This week…

I didn’t post last weekend due to being away from the old “writing machine” for IMG_1118.jpglonger than I had expected. It has been a stretch of days where the weather has been such that the duties outside took precedence. Besides, when it’s finally in the 70s and absolutely gorgeous out there, I find it very difficult to be inside at my desk trying to concentrate on writing!

At any rate, there are many good things of which to write, and they all rank very high on my personal scale: Weather; grandkids; Carolyn’s job.

Late-afternoon fire on the patio
As I’ve written recently, the weather has finally come around to provide us the opportunity to get outside, to breathe the good air, to soak up the warmth of the sun, and to watch the grass, plants, and trees come alive.

The farmers have begun getting their fields ready for planting (corn or soybeans) and it’s always a good feeling to know that soon new life will be sprouting all over this part of northern Illinois.

The writing front…

Having been a bit lax and negligent of seriously getting work done on my current work in progress, a novel titled Birchwood’s Secret, I chiseled out time this past week to actually make some progress with it. It was a good time to look with a fresh vision at what had been sitting for a while. I was glad to be back among my characters at the resort where I left them. I think I’m ready to move the whole thing along to a conclusion. Stay tuned!

Soccer & retirement…

Saturday morning—a perfect one it was—found us at our grandson’s first soccer game of the season. The event was even more special for my wife, Carolyn, since it was the first time she’d had an opportunity to see the boys play soccer–or anything else, really–on a Saturday because she’s always been at work during those times.

After 46 years, a celebratory beverage is in order!
After 46 years of working as a hair dresser, she’s finally calling it quits on May 25th. Recently she began the process by “phasing out” the Saturdays and is now down to just two days a week. She’s excited, yet will miss her many clients and co-workers.

The road ahead…

We will be able to plan more things to do together and enjoy both of our retirements more fully. Her retirement will also mean that this summer will be the first one she will actually be able to spend more time at the lake cottage.

Plans for a trip to Alaska in 2017 are in the planning stages as well as fall and winter road trips and little excursions to see things in our own backyard.

When I sat down to write this post, I wasn’t entirely certain which direction it would take. But after a couple of minutes, I realized that I didn’t have to sweat it at all. It’s quite clear that I have so much for which to be thankful, and that’s always easy to write  about.

Until next time, that’s one good thing…IMG_1226.jpg






I’m worth more than before I started this walk!

The money jar awaits my next deposit.

Little did I know the other morning, when I set off on my morning walk, that I’d return a wealthier individual.

Usually, I’m content to make my circuit around and through the neighborhoods and come back feeling as though I’d done something good for my heart and body, feeling good and ready to take on the day ahead.

On these walks, I often see all kinds of items lying about on the sidewalks or in the streets: Discarded wrappers, a plastic water bottle,  toys that have been left out and forgotten, etc.

Usually, I’ll pick up the wrappers or bottles and carry them back to my recycling container and toss the toy or ball into the yard.

Well, as I said, one recent walk added to my overall wealth and fortune. Yeah, besides the gathering of the usual misplaced items along the way, I noticed a small item that glimmered in the morning sun. It was a dime waiting to be rescued from its lonely and precarious position in the middle of the street.

Worn and weathered, it’s still worth something!


Eureka! Usually it’s a penny that I’ll spot and on a rare occasion a quarter, but a dime seems quite rare for whatever reason. Finding this one, I immediately wondered how it had ended up in the center of the street. Had it slipped from a pocket? Had someone carelessly dropped it? Did one nonchalantly toss it away, thinking that there wasn’t much worth for one ten-cent piece?  How long had it lain there?

Oh, so many questions to ponder as I ambled homeward. (These are the kinds of things that carom around in my mind on walks such as these.) But I didn’t hesitate in bending over and picking it up and putting it in my pocket to be dropped into the money jar that sits on the shelf next to my desk.

I know folks who don’t bother to pick up these found treasures, opting, instead, to walk on by, thinking that it’s not worth the effort, I guess. True, in the large scope of things, a penny or a dime doesn’t amount to very much.

In my view, however, a penny or dime makes me that much wealthier than before I left the house. And there’s nothing like being worth ten cents more than when I began. I guess it’s time to get going on another walk. Maybe I’ll come back even richer!

Don’t pass me by.

Here’s to a good—and wealthy—week ahead…

Starting my day with a cardinal’s song…

What a difference a week makes!

Last weekend, I made a quick trip out to Ohio where we were “treated” to five inches of snow late Friday night, creating a winter wonderland. Ordinarily, that’s something I enjoy—just not on April 8th!

Last Saturday morning in Marblehead, Ohio

And although we didn’t have any snow here at home in northern Illinois, it was annoyingly cold to begin this week. However, a gradual warming trend has crept in, and it’s actually beginning to show promise that things might be good for the foreseeable future.

It is even rumored that it might warm up to the high 60s (F) on Saturday. I say “rumored” because I don’t often put much credence in some of the weather folks’ predictions. As always, we shall see.

Because of this weather turnaround the past couple of days, I’ve been able to continue with my “de-winterizing” of things outside:  Removing the protective screening from around most of our bushes and hauling all of the deck furniture and tables and plant stands up from the basement yesterday. (Love those stairs!)

The deck open for business!

I still need to get the hose and reel and patio furniture out from beneath the deck where they’ve hibernated since last fall. Those duties are on my “To Do” list for today, which is an even more delightful day than yesterday was. (I guess I shouldn’t be so quick to judge those weather people!)

Another sign that maybe the winter blahs have fled is how much lighter it is in the morning when I get up—usually between 5:30 and 6:00. Nothing like watching the sunrise while I brew that morning coffee and read whatever it is I’m reading at the moment. (American Gospel by Jon Meacham)

I’ve even resumed my morning walking regimen, striking out the past few days in brilliant sunshine for my twenty minutes of brisk enjoyment of the neighborhoods around here.

The green, green grass out back!

This morning as I set out, I was greeted by a very happy and loud cardinal, singing and calling out to one and all from his perch atop our neighbor’s tree that he, too, was glad that things have turned around to the more pleasant side of life.

When I returned feeling wonderful and ready for the day, I took my coffee out to the deck and savored the sights and sounds and smells all about.

First coffee on the deck this spring


Home for another robin’s nest?


The grass I mowed yesterday is even greener this morning!

There’s a robin snooping about and investigating the big evergreen for a nest, I’m sure.

The morning air is still cool, and a fleece jacket or sweatshirt is in order, but there’s just something now that seems to be pointing to the warm days not too far off.

As the morning turns to afternoon, there is no need for the jacket, and I’m even “inspired” to complete those remaining “de-winterizing” jobs out there. I’ll even find time to sit in the sun, on the deck, and listen to that cardinal’s happy song. Can’t wait to hear what he has to say tomorrow morning as well.IMG_1705.JPG


Hidden treasure of a book discovered…

One Good Thing…

It’s time for the weekly  post of a feature I’ve chosen to title “One Good Thing.” Each weekend, I’ll post something about what has been good to—or for—me during the week.

I haven’t written about things I’ve read lately, so that will be the subject of this weekend’s One Good Thing, since this past week found me finishing a very good “old” book that I discovered by chance in a local second-hand store.

Unknown.jpegSnow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson has been around for a while. Published in 1994, it is a story set on San Piedro, a rather secluded island in Puget Sound. Its main industries are fishing and raising strawberries and various other fruits, and the residents pretty much keep to themselves.

The story is set during a powerful snowstorm in the winter of 1954, where Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American fisherman, is on trial for the murder of his childhood friend Carl Heine. Carl was found dead and tangled in his own net after a foggy night on the water, and the likely culprit is Kabul.

Exactly why he is the major suspect is developed as the story moves along.

Ishmael Chambers, editor of the local paper and childhood sweetheart of Kabuo’s wife, Hatsue, is in the courtroom to cover the proceedings. And it is through his eyes and point of view that we learn the “backstory” leading up to the current situation.

Through a series of flashbacks, which Guterson handles with skill, keeping the reader wondering what the next twist or turn in the story will involve, editor Chambers takes us back to his seemingly lovely island childhood where he and Hatsue discovered first love.

Unfortunately, after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, Ishmael’s and Hatsue’s youthful emotions and budding feelings for each other are lost when she and her family are banished to a Japanese internment camp.

Hurt and bitter with the loss of Hatsue, Ishmael found himself in the service and sent to the Pacific theater, where he ended up losing an arm in the battle of Tarawa, merely adding to the major losses in his life.

The book is a good one, clearly showing the kinds of prejudice that were prevalent at the time. With Guterson’s clear prose and description of a heartbreaking tale in a lonely place, I can see why Snow Falling on Cedars received several awards.

I’m not sure how I never found this book a long time ago or saw the film adaptation of it, but I’m glad I found it tucked away on a shelf in that second-hand store. It cost me fifty cents, and that was quite a steal for the quality of the writing and overall story which I thoroughly enjoyed.images.jpeg

I’ve decided that it’s a pretty good idea to check those shelves in those old stores. One never knows what hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered!

Until next time, that’s one good thing!