Blogging, Daily Prompt, Diary

List three books that have had an impact on you. Why?


  • The Bible — in various translations, several of which I have read from cover to cover. I have been a believer from age 14 and devoted much of my life to Faith.
  • 1984 – George Orwell (published in 1949) — scared the bejesus out of me because it alerted me to the possibility of real evil in the world — In my early teens I read all sorts of stuff that no one my age was reading.
  • The Cave — Plato — in translation. Another of those things Jr. High School students don’t usually read, but it gave me a sense of historical perspective — that things we see today are but continuations of things begun long ago.
  • The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements, which consists of a preface and 125 sections, which are divided into 18 chapters. Hoffer analyzes the phenomenon of “mass movements,” a general term that he applies to revolutionary parties, nationalistic movements, and religious movements. He summarizes his thesis in §113: “A movement is pioneered by men of words, materialized by fanatics and consolidated by men of actions.”

From the far side of 70

As with many others, bloggers, bloggers, and the world in general, the past three years have — in some ways — just disappeared. COVID-19 had it’s effects upon us all and that’s just life — neither good, nor bad — assigning traits to what was accomplished nothing. But like many others my life slowed down, I had way more introspection time than I wanted and a lot of things I would have done had COVID-19 not taken us all by storm simply did not happen.

The end result however is that I am no longer the same person I was when writing Embrace Serendipity I’ve been pondering whether to continue blogging because I have changed so much, I have pondered giving up blogging altogether, and I have thought about simply changing the name of the blog from it’s serendipitous roots to something more appropriate. Indeed, Embrace Serendipity was not the original title when I first began.

To the point, in our pandemic altered life it has not just been pandemic concerns that have filled our days. I’m nearing the midpoint of my 70’s and there has been a great deal of adjustment, reevaluation, pondering, and cursing going on as I have tried to maintain a sound mind, a passably sound body, and a healthy family. Life looks different from this age; not better, not worse, just different and adjusting is not a thing I particularly cotton to doing. I can be stubborn. I can be bullheaded. And I internalize a great deal so as not to take my dislike of adjustments out on other people. Then again with the pandemic I have not been around nearly as many people as at other times in my life and that too has been an uneasy adjustment.

I want to continue blogging even though I have hardly lifted a finger to the keyboard in the past couple years. I feel better when I write — I always have — which is why this blog has lasted since September of 2007 in various different guises.

I’m going to “stick” this post to the front of the blog for a while. You may come back in a day or a week or a month and find that “From the Far Side of 70” has become the new name of my pondering. Or I may not make any changes at all. I’m still deciding.

One thing is sure. I do not want this to be a complain-about-old-age blog. Those of us who get to this point in life are lucky indeed. So many of our friends and family have not been as lucky, and whatever the aches and pains each day of life is precious and to be cherished and celebrated. Even the tough ones.

But, as a great many people much younger than myself have discovered there is strength to be found in learning that whatever it is that you are going through there are others like yourself who are struggling with something, or many somethings, or catastrophic somethings and in that knowledge is strength — the strength to move forward into whatever lies ahead with renewed determination.

I do think that in the next little while I’m going to change the physical look of the blog, Now that my direction is changing a new look is probably a good idea. We’ll see what happens in that regard.

I hope to hear from some of you who have been along for the ride a few years now. How are you. With my quietness I haven’t heard from many of you as in the past had happened. Hopefully you are well too and not too much the worse for pandemic-wear.



Blogging, Diary

What jobs have you had?

A recent WordPress writing prompt was about what jobs have you had, so I thought seeing as I have led a curious sort of life I’d answer the challenge and list them.

While in High School and College I worked for:

Boy Scouts of America as a training supplies puller

Boy Scouts of America as a mail clerk and signature obtainer — driving the company Suburban around town in pursuit of 2 authorized signers for their disbursement checks (before the days on cell phones which would have saved me a lot of daily miles as I drove all over the Milwaukee area in a gas guzzling truck looking for any two out of six authorized signatories.

After schooling,

I worked for a religious printing house on a 14 x 20 printing press printing books and leaflets.

I worked for a school textbook printer printing 4 color covers on coated cloth, a job that I was not very good at as printing ink doesn’t soak into coated cloth and I kept botching up the jobs.

I contacted my local Draft Board when my Vietnam draft number came up. Even though my draft number was in the 300’s I felt bad because friends had been called up and even though I was a conscientious objector I still felt as if I should to my “share” whatever the Draft Board decided that was to be. They assigned me to secure a job at a Chicago hospital and to work there for 2 years. So,
for 8 months I hauled boxes and stock around in the Central Supply at Wesley Memorial Hospital (now part of Northwestern Medical Center). When my boss in that department got a promotion after finishing his Master’s Degree he asked to to come along with him and I spent the remainder of my 2 years in the Systems Department doing office systems analysis and writing office systems.

During that time I got married and after completing my C.O. obligation:

I managed a Locksmith and Security Systems hardware company with 11 employees in Ohio

I did inside sales/manufacturing support for an electrical controls company in Illinois

I trained as an over the road truck driver and started work as an owner operator hauling “new products” from manufacturers to retailers.

Then I hauled meat from the Midwest to the East Coast until I couldn’t stand the East Coast state of mind and one of my good friends was killed in an automobile caused truck accident.

Then I hauled flatbed freight from the Midwest to the West Coast getting away from East Coast congestion and rudeness.

Then I went to work for a distributor for Detroit Diesel Engines as Dealer Development Manager calling on trucking and bus companies around the state, working with owners and mechanics.

I worked for a religious publishing house editing and publishing 70 year old journal as well as teaching and speaking to groups in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.

I worked for a foreign language translating house taking translated text and inserting that into English language technical manuals for a variety of industrial accounts.

Then I went back to trucking for a few years hauling flatbed freight again to the West and South

At this point after having an interest in photography all my life I spent the last 5 years of my career as a photographer, shooting weddings (which after the advent of Bridezillas became a really disgusting way to make a living) to a couple years just shooting for art’s sake.

When Peggy had the chance to retire early, I decided that I would call it quits early too. She was 64, I was 62, so our first couple years were a bit rough before Medicare kicked in for both of us but we sold our house (which I have talked about years ago) and went full time RV’ing for 7 years. (find all of that content in the early years of this blog.)

And there you have it, All The Jobs I Have Had

Blogging, Family

Bacon or Sausage

It’s amazing how some of life’s most enduring preferences come about from the most humble beginnings. A discussion over breakfast the other day brought it all to mind.

Our daughter and son-in-law have very different food life than my wife and I. Both couples have a male as the primary cook in the family but I cook very much differently than does Michael.

I cook for a meal. Michael cooks for leftovers. That’s a rather freehanded way of delineating the difference but it is fundamentally accurate. I almost always cook amounts of food that we can consume in one meal. The only exceptions being if I am roasting or slow cooking a joint of meat in which case we will eat the first portion of meat hot from the cooking process and then divide what remains into portions to be used for future meals. The primary difference between our styles comes down to the fact that Michael is still actively a breadwinner in his family and he doesn’t have the same kind of “spare” time that I do. As a result Michael cooks almost everything in excess quantities with the idea in mind that having cooked once he can repurpose anything and everything for “fast” meals throughout the week. He tends to make items that take longer to cook initially, I tend to do the “whatever I can cook in 20 minutes beginning to end” approach. With microwaves and such we still have baked potatoes and rice and other longer cook items but we eat a lot of protein and veg and not a lot of carbs.

So, where am I going with all of this. Michael is far more likely to cook up an entire tray of sausage patties or links, save the uneaten ones for another meal or two or three and have a container in the fridge with the precooked items all ready to pop into the pan. Premade sausage patties tend not to release nearly as much fat and so whatever is there in the pan gets disposed of.

I on the other hand buy 3 lb packages of bacon from the local restaurant purveyor, but I keep them in a bacon keeper and I portion out one, or two, or three strips of bacon as we need. I either cook eggs in some of the bacon fat, or save it in a container reserved for “bacon fat” to be used in cooking at other times. There’s a lot of flavor in bacon fat and used in discrete amounts it’s wonderful.

The thing is, I grew up in a very different home than did Michael. My food choices are very much the food choices I grew up with. You see I have long felt that “Normal is what we grow up with.” And I grew up in a family with a father who worked rotating shifts. He was a boiler operator for our local electric utility. He spent most of his days in an air conditioned control room occupied by one other worker and about 85 gauges and graph plotters making sure that there was always a head of steam to keep the generating turbines whirring away and providing electricity for the thriving metropolis of Milwaukee.

AND, my dad hated sandwiches. Why should he eat a sandwich when he had a multimillion dollar “oven” right outside his cubicle door? He often told friends and strangers alike that mom packed him a lunch, and when he got to work he “threw it on the floor, covered it with a rag and by the time lunch-time rolled around it was ready to eat.” That all sounded a lot cruder than it was, after all he was the Scoutmaster who was hardest on the Boy Scouts when it came time to inspect dishes after they were cleaned — he was rigorous about sanitation, but a meal in a metal container sitting on a hot steel grate protected from contamination was a wonderful way to warm up his leftovers from the night before.

Of course the fact that dad got the hot leftovers in his lunch almost always meant that mom and I were left to eat something else for our meals. He was the breadwinner so he got the best. As he should. And with a stay-at-home mom who had time to cook I always had fresh meals, and I had the “husky” size waistline to prove it. But, bottom line is that I never grew up eating leftovers. I had meals prepared for the time, and that was “normal” to me.

“Normal is what we grow up with.”

I wonder, if you look into your own life how many choices you make you can find that are the direct result of whatever “normal” you grew up with? Once I started thinking about this I realized there are nearly an infinite number of little things I do that I can trace directly back to life choices other people made, which affected me, and which I adopted as de rigeur.


White Vinegar Is A Gardener’s Best Friend.

Here Are 11 Clever Uses in The Garden

by Linda Parker

The desire to move away from toxic pesticide, fungicides, herbicides and artificial fertilizer is gaining popularity as health awareness is on the rise.

Growing your own food organically is the alternative, but the tricky pest problem remains, fortunately, vinegar is a great alternative to these artificial toxins!

Vinegar can simultaneously enhance the life of a plant and kill weeds.

Get Rid of Weeds

Get rid of unwanted garden growth by pouring apple cider vinegar onto weeds. 

Plants like gardenias, holly, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, and begonias grow beautifully in acidic soil. Spray them with a mixture of 1 gallon of water to 1 cup of white vinegar to help them grow.

Removes Fruit Flies

To keep fruit flies and household flies at bay, you should mix half a cup of apple cider vinegar, a tablespoon of molasses, a quarter cup of sugar and a cup of water.

Food for Acidic Loving Plants

Then, pour the mixture into a suitable container and hang it on the fruit tree. Fruit flies will be trapped in it as soon as they try to attack the mixture.

Cleanse Your Hands of Allergens

You can wind up with dirt and allergens on your hands after spending a day working in your garden. Wash your hands with some distilled vinegar to cleanse them of debris and make sure that they don’t itch.

Keep Rabbits at Bay

If rabbits are ruining your garden you can soak cotton balls in distilled vinegar and place them in a 35mm film container or something similar. Poke holes in the top of the container and place it in your garden to keep rabbits at bay.

Kill Ants

Spray ant hills with one part water and one part vinegar to kill them. Spray areas where ants are likely to invade to keep them at bay.

Wash Your Garden Tools

You can soak garden tools, like a rake or hoe, overnight in vinegar to get rid of rust and grime. You can also fill a plastic bag with vinegar and tie it over a water spigot to keep it submerged. Rinse everything off with water.

Get Rid of Slugs and Snails

If slugs and snails are compromising your plant growth, spray them with some undiluted vinegar. This will make them wither and die.

Clean Out Your Birdbath

Mix some undiluted water with white vinegar and use it to scrub your birdbath. Make sure to rinse it off with water.

Keep Kitty Away

If your kitty is using your garden or your kid’s sandbox as a toilet then you can pour some distilled vinegar into the sand or soil to keep them away.

Keep Flowers Fresh

Help freshly cut flowers from your garden last by adding two tablespoons of vinegar and a teaspoon of sugar to a quart of water before adding your flowers.