Biographical Scrapbooking

Wheelchair Driving for Dummies – 101

Although I have not been actively blogging over the past few months, I have been actively pursuing what must surely be just routine for most elders and that is doing my best to make it from one day to the next. Over the last couple of months due to some issues with my legs and of course the always present COPD I was determined that I just needed to get me one of those motorized wheel chairs to help assist my mobility around the house and my life would be back to some measure of order.

My doctor assured me that as long as I could take a step every five minutes or so and maintain an upright position I would have to fight Medicare tooth and nail to get one through them so I just avoided that headache completely and went out and bought one myself. Got what I thought was a really nice one at not too bad of a price and I was ready too rock and roll. But mostly as it turns out it was more like “bump and bang” than “rock and roll”. She’s a beauty though….

The poor doors and door facings, not to mention the molding, have basically met their demise due to my expertise and controlling a motorized wheel chair… at least in my house. Below are a few photos of the subject demise (click on photo to enlarge)….

Those photos were taken several weeks ago so quite honestly they only reflect a minimal amount of the damage done at present. But I am fortunate enough to have save a can of the original paint and now have the wood-filler, spatula, and sandpaper required to return them to so measure of their original condition. Oh yes, and I also have some of the felt color sticks for the paneling. 🙂

And just by chance if you’re wondering whether the wheelchair is too wide to fit through certain doorways in my house… well the unfortunate response is no, it will fit through them all just fine depending of course on the skill of the driver. 🙁

My blog’s circle of life….

Well I have been blogging almost six hours a day now for several days but it hasn’t been because I was writing new posts. I’ve actually been reinstating my old posts from a data base I had archived that goes back all the way to when I started officially maintaining a blog in 2006.

And a blogger might ask why in the world would I take the time to go back and reinstate all those old posts? Any experienced blogger knows almost no one ever intentionally goes into a bloggers archive listing and reads any of those old posts. Well at best, let’s just say it’s a rare occurrence when it does happen.

I suppose as bloggers go I have been a fairly shameful one, having started and stopped my blogging numerous times over the past eleven years, not to mention several blog name changes along the way to boot.

Sadly, I lost a lot of regular commenters along the way also. Can’t blame them a bit and I have to say many of them I truly miss. But as they say, that’s all water under the bridge at this point.

In essence it would seem I have come full circle if such things could be calculated or construed in such ways. From my very first blog post to this one, which by the way, is not to be presumed as my last, it would seem the journey consisted mostly as a biographical reflection of a life gone by.

And although there may still be a few other reflections of the past peppered in the mix, I think you’ll find the majority to come will be with the challenges and changes with living out ones final days….

Goodbye to my dear dependable good friend….

Yesterday was a bit of a sad day around the old homestead but I suppose even more so today. Yesterday I finally sold my trustworthy and very dependable 1997 Geo Metro that I had purchased brand new back on June 6th of 1997. I have owned that car for just a few months shy of 20 years.

I planned on owning it a lot longer but my health and difficulty in really driving it very much or taking care of it as I should has pretty much dictated that if I cared about the car at all, I needed to get it into the hands of someone who needed a car and would put it to could use. That someone as it turns out to be is the young man who is currently taking care of my lawn care needs. He expressed an interest in it a few days ago so he and his dad came by yesterday and purchased it.

I still have the window sticker that was on the car’s window the day I purchased it. That sticker will now find itself as one of my most cherished souvenirs….

But most of all, I’ll probably feel a tinge of sadness each time I walk outside and see that lonely, empty space where before was parked without a doubt the most dependable car I had ever owned.

The Perk of all Perks…..

I can’t think of a more appropriate time than today when the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI to republish a post I published back in November of 2009 discussing perhaps one of the best jobs one could have ever had in one’s lifetime. And even though I was only with the company a very short time, it was quite the experience to remember and some may even say I need some sort of mental examination given the fact I quit the job….

Originally Published November 16, 2009

Atlanta Fulton County Stadium(Click on image to enlarge)

In late October of 1968 I was stationed at Warner-Robbins Air Force Base which is located near Macon, Georgia. After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force on November 1st of that year I decided I would travel to Atlanta and see if I could get a job there.

I fortunately found a job quite quickly and ended up working briefly for a company named Baker Audio which was located in Atlanta, Georgia proper. The company, although small, was quite well known for its expertise in the realm of audio and among other things, had put in the sound system in Atlanta Fulton County Stadium. This fact was soon to become a blessing in disquise as it turns out.

Not but a week or so after starting to work there my boss asked if I would mind working on an upcoming Sunday for a few hours. He noted that since it was Sunday I would be getting paid double-time. Well, I jumped at the opportunity. Especially given the fact I was only making like $90 a week to begin with. But the best news was yet to come

My boss then began to explain the essence of the job I had just accepted. The company, Baker Audio, had the maintenance and operating contract for the sound system with the Atlanta Stadium and anytime there was an event at the stadium requiring the sound system being used, that a Baker Audio sound system person had to be at the stadium to turn on the system and oversee any problems that might occur. My boss went on to say there was almost never a problem and if there was, they had backup available, normally equated to by simply flipping a switch.

He went on to say that the stadium had two heated and/or air-conditioned glassed-in booths. One was for the “rich and famous” and adjacent to it was the other booth which was for the operator of the electronic scoreboards and for the employees of the sound system company who were maintaining and running the sound system. The main sound system consoles were also located in this booth which is obviously why the employees were allowed in that booth.

On two different Sundays I accompanied my boss to the stadium to fulfill those responsibilities and learn how to turn on and run the system. Those two occasions involved football games being played by the Atlanta Falcon’s football team and their opponent for that week.

What this all meant in layman’s terms was that on the upcoming Sunday I was going to get paid double time for flipping a switch and sitting in a heated, glassed-in booth and watching a football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams or in case number two, watching them play the Detroit Lions a few weeks later. Does life suck sometimes or what?

That first Sunday I also found out that I was also allowed in the press area along with being able to partake in the food buffet set up for the press core and attending celebrities. I remember my boss and I getting a plate of scrambled eggs and bacon but everything was pretty much a blur to me. I was just completely mesmerized by the whole thing. Talk about a great job.

Below are a couple of gate passes I kept from the two games where I attended and worked so very, very hard. Some jobs have perks, but I have to say this was the perk of all perks! Being paid double time to watch a football game….at the stadium no less!

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 01a(Click on image to enlarge)

Atlanta Falcon Gate Pass 02a(Click on image to enlarge)

Believe it or not, I made one of those ‘life decisions’ only two months after taking this job to quit the company and return home to Arkansas. I think in the long run that was a good decision but it goes without saying how often I have thought back about that job and the fact that I could have been paid good money just to sit in a booth, flip a switch, and watch either the Atlanta Falcons or Atlanta Braves play their games season after season.

Remembering those Social Security deductions….

This morning for some reason right out of the clear blue something I hadn’t thought of in years popped into my mind. I remembered that increase in pay you hopefully use to get at some point each year, dependent of course on your salary, after you had paid in the maximum amount of Social Security established by the Social Security Administration for that particular year.

The first year I reached and exceeded that maximum Social Security deduction was 1970 when the maximum deduction number was $7800 and I made $8600 that year. I remember first seeing that extra amount in my net pay on my pay check and simply thought I must have gotten a raise. What was odd is that I had not been informed of any such raise. Hearing of my curiosity about the pay increase, one of my coworkers clued me in as to what the increase was all about. Up until that point I was really a bit clueless about how all those deductions like Social Security and Medicare worked.

Having said that, shown below is an interesting chart of the yearly Social Security deductions beginning in the year 1937 and going thru the year 2016. For this year as a matter of information, 2017, the maximum is set at $127,000.

And so it was that from that first year that I received that increase forward, through my career as the latter part of the year approached with each pay check I anticipated that perhaps it was this week that I had reached that Social Security payoff threshold. And after looking at your pay check and another week was going to pass you by there was certainly at least a brief moment of disappointment if you did not see that increase.

The last year of my working career that I had met the Social Security deductible maximum was before the end of the year, 1989, when it had reached $48,000. I went into semi-retirement in 1990 so I had a substantial decrease in income from that point on and that Social Security deductible became but a fleeting memory of the past.

In looking at that chart today I am amazed at how high the Social Security deduction has gone. I did check however and according to the Pew Research Center Institute the income spread for a middle class family of three is anywhere from $42,000 to $125,000, dependent of course on many factors, the least not being where you are living and the associated cost of living. In other words, if you live in Vicksburg, MS you are far less likely to come close to that threshold than if you were living in New York City.

Now at age 75 I find myself on the other end of this discourse, benefiting in my old age from all those years of playing that waiting game, more thankful for what I paid in than for those token raises I was enjoying along the way…. 🙂

My final goodbye to the game of golf….

Remembering back a few years ago, one of the more personal sad days of my life was the day I donated all my music equipment to the local high school. I had pretty much lost my voice and some measure of the tremors had affected my ability to play my keyboards. It was the first major reckoning that I was entering a different phase of life. Not a little hick-up but a life changing moment. I had been a musician and playing one instrument or another since age thirteen. And singing, well that had always been my first love no doubt.

The music was the first to go and then came the outdoor activity which had been over the course of my lifetime the only outdoor game or sport, however you want to define it, I had really participated in with any measure of regularity. And that would be the game of golf.

In a journal entry of mine back in September of last year titled “Bucket List Item…. Clean out the old man’s attic!” I discussed the cleaning out of my attic as a self-proclaimed act of burial preparation. Of course as one soon realizes when taking on of such a project is that you will quickly find that what was a rather neat and organized living area, you are now faced with crap lying around and stacked up in almost every room in the house. I certainly realized this was going to be the aftermath of such a project but if you suffer from Organization Compulsive Disorder your anxiety and stress levels are sure to elevate.

And so now I had a clean attic but the inside of my  home looked like “Hoarder’s Paradise”. So my first idea was to just photograph everything and either offer it for sale or just give it away. After all, with my COPD there was little else I could do anyway. A garage sale would have been an excellent way to dispose of a majority of items but not a chore that I could have easily handled physically. I did over the course of a few weeks manage to give away some old picture frames, framing mat boards and a few of those metal cookie/candy storage tins.

But the elephant in the room was my golf clubs. Selling or even giving them away would mean final closure on yet another of my life’s pleasures and enjoyments. But at this point it had been several years since I had even picked up a golf club so I gathered up my two sets of clubs and my mother’s old set she used when she was alive and prepared them for a donation to the Big Brothers/Big Sisters local donation center along with a ton of my old clothes. As the adjacent photo reflects, there they were ready for the next leg of their life’s journey and my best hope could only be that the clubs would bring as much enjoyment to their new owners as they had me and my mom.

Perhaps it seems that I am wallowing in large measure here in good old self-pity but not really. As I grew older and began to reflect on old age and what it would bring I knew that many of my life’s passions and pleasures would have to be set aside at some point along the way. So now that most are gone I try not to reflect on what I have lost but rather the joy that all had brought to my life. And I have to say given that, that the joy and pleasure I received leaves the loss of those things but a fading mist for the most part.

Over the next few weeks I finally got the house back in shape storing many of the items in spare closet space to include closet floors. One closet is where I stored my CD collection, some 425 of those, so I gave all of those to my little sister which gave me a lot more shelf storage room for some of those smaller attic treasures. I made one more call to Big Brothers/Big Sisters and had them come by and pick up my final load of donations from the big attic clean out.

Gotta’ love the “Clicklist”….

There has been a lot of talk about this new Walmart convenience feature they call “Walmart Pickup Grocery” that allows customers to shop on-line for their groceries and then go to Walmart at an appointed time and pick them up. You apparently just go to a designated pick-up location, stay in your car and a Walmart employee brings your ordered groceries out and puts them in your car and you pay the employee for the groceries. Not being a Walmart grocery shopper I didn’t give the whole idea a whole lot of thought. Then a short time back I heard that Kroger, the grocery franchise I use, was starting to offer a similar service at some of its locations. The information again registered but still I gave it little thought at the time.

But here recently, given my COPD condition and the fact that I do live alone, I began feeling a more urgent concern about how I was going to get my groceries when it became much harder for me to get around. I have pretty much always assumed I would probably have to hire someone to come in at least weekly and do my shopping for me. And of course nothing is free so I was wondering what I would have to pay for a service like that. It’s disconcerting and frustrating to think that they’ll surely come a time when you can’t even do your own grocery shopping.

Then more recently one of my sisters mentioned in casual conversation that one of her daughter’s had begun using the grocery pickup service at her local Kroger store in the town where they lived. My sister also noted to me that even though they are offering the service, it’s only at certain stores. So I told her I would have to check it out and see if any store close to me was offering it. Turns out the local store I used wasn’t offering the service but another Kroger only a little over a mile away was so that was good to know.

Now I already had an on-line account with Kroger because the pharmacy I use for all my medication needs is the Kroger pharmacy located at the store where I do all my grocery shopping. And while on the subject I can’t say enough good things about them. I really like the pharmacy and their friendly staff. Anyway, as is quite normal these days you can go on-line and set up an an account with Kroger and then you are able to track all your medication needs and transactions on-line for your pharmacy.

So… a few days ago I thought I would take a look on the Internet and see if I could learn more about Kroger’s grocery shopping service which they call “Clicklist”. I signed on to my Kroger account and noticed a tab at the top of the page that read “Order On Line” so I clicked on the tab and was immediately taken to the Kroger store closest to me which offered the service. Well, as I looked over their website I was a bit taken back after clicking on one of the site’s menu items titled “My Recent Purchases” because it appeared to contain every item I had purchased at least over the past 6 months. The “screen capture” below (click to enlarge for a much better resolution) shows a portion of the webpage I am referring to along with several of the items I typically purchase….

Then I realized they were getting and tracking my shopping habits through my Kroger Savers Card which they scan each time I shop to apply any current savings on the specific item I have purchased that day. That gave me a bit of a eerie feeling to know they knew that much about me. Since virtually every item I normally purchased was listed in the “My Recent Purchases” section, that mean’t if I were shopping I could finish selecting my weekly grocery items in a few short minutes, submit my order and be done. So, that’s exactly what I did. I had to see if this service could satisfy my needs due to my health issues and facilitate my future mobility issues.

I made an appointment for the next morning to pick up my order between 9 and 10 AM and then submitted my order. Shortly thereafter I got a confirming email. Then the following morning I drove to the store and went to the designated pick-up area and parked. There was a sign posted there giving you a specific phone number to call. When you called that number you let them know you were there and give them the number of the parking slot you were parked in which was also posted on the sign along with the phone number. In a short time they came out with your groceries on a cart, you paid by credit card, in my case they then put the groceries in my trunk as requested (no tipping by the way) and that was it…. I headed back to the house.

Should note at this point that this service is not free. At the store I am using, for your first three orders there is no charge for the service. After that, each time you use the “Clicklist” service there is a $4.95 charge and as previously noted, there is no tipping the grocery clerk who brings out the groceries and loads your car.

After arriving back home I unloaded the car and checked out my groceries. I was completely pleased. It was as though I had done the shopping myself. Had even ordered ¾ lb. of shaved smoked turkey from the Deli and it was perfectly cut and packaged.

Finally I should note with regard to purchasing of fresh beef, I am quite particular and for this type of service the purchasing of beef was my biggest concern. Having someone one else pick my beef selections was a bit unnerving. I noticed while doing the on-line shopping that their sirloin tip roasts were on sale and since it’s pretty hard to screw up on a roast I ordered one. The one they chose for me is shown in the adjacent photo (click on image to enlarge). The choice wasn’t all that bad although I’m not sure it is the one I would have chosen but obviously without the selections in front of me it is hard to say. At any rate I cooked the roast yesterday and it was really good.

I suppose this is a rather lengthy post but I just thought that someone in the same boat as I am with regard to lack of future mobility that had never considered this new service being offered by so grocers might like a bit of a review from an old person who had actually tried it. I did like the service and there is no doubt that I will use it a number of times in the future. The only roadblock I foresee is if something were to happen to my ability to drive a car. 🙁

It’s a “no-no” to mess with my nuts….

Well I guess no matter how old you get, life continues to spring new experiences and surprises on you. Such has been the case with me this past week.

I have always been an almond lover. I do enjoy a sundry of other nuts but almonds are the tops. Now some years back I got on the “Blue Diamond Roasted Salted Almonds” kick which I purchase at my local supermarket. They’re a bit pricey but when something is that good you usually can overlook such things. I’ve posted a photograph of one of the cans just to the right.

I try to make it a point not to gorge myself on the little critters, therefore I exert restraint by only eating maybe 10-15 at a time when visiting my stored supply, which by the way comes in a little can holding some 6.0 ounces of almonds. Usually I find myself purchasing a new can about every two or three weeks unless I lose all measure of restraint.

Now the cans themselves come with a plastic lid on top and when you remove the plastic lid the new cans are sealed with a thin tin cover which ensures the almonds stay fresh which has a tab on it as can be noted in the photograph on the left. You have to pull on the tab and the tin cover will peel off. The furnished plastic lid is then what you use to maintain the freshness of the nuts in the can.

So, there I was this past Sunday just finishing off the few left in a previous can with my lunch and then deciding that I should go ahead and open up the new can and grab a few more, just for good measure. So I pulled my new can out of its little storage place and removed the plastic lid in anticipation of removing the tin foil seal. But there was not tin foil seal on the can. And furthermore, when I looked into the can there were only about half the almonds remaining in the can that there should have been. The photograph below can best attest to the traumatic experience to which I was subjected to when opening that can….

Oh I think we all know what happened to my nuts at this point. Some really clever, nut grabber opened the can, grabbed a bunch of nuts and then by putting the plastic lid back on the can, no one would know anything was wrong. In all this time of buying these almonds I have never removed the plastic lid to see if the tin seal had been removed and someone had pilfered the nuts. Well…. you can bet your sweet bippy I will from now on!

I took my nuts back to the supermarket this morning and they let me swap out for a new can, no questions asked. The store supervisor seemed to know exactly what had happened which led me to believe I’m not the first one to have ever had problems with someone messing with their nuts! 🙂

Lexi Lu & Santa….

Back in June of this year we had a new edition to the family. I now have a new little “doggie niece”, compliments of my younger sister. She’s a cutie and they named her Lexi Lu. She had her first visit with Santa recently and I just had to share her photo….

lexi-lu-and-santa-dec-2016-small

Sister, Sister… Oh my, what have you done?

A few months ago I decided as one of my prerequisites in preparing for my eventual death and subsequent move to Cemeteryville I did not want to be encumbered with having to cram a bunch of stuff into my casket for the long trip nor did I want to leave a bunch of stuff sitting around that my sisters would have to deal with disposing of after my death.

Among that ‘bunch of stuff’ that I referred to was one of my favorite things, a puma/cougar statuette that I had owned now for over forty years. It certainly didn’t demand any monetary value of any consequence but it was an item that had been a centerpiece of my home decorations for all these years. The picture below I think represents the 3-foot tall statuette in all its elegance and grandeur….

antiqued-gold-panther

Now my youngest sister had in recent years expressed a sincere interest in perhaps having the statuette upon my departure for Cemeteryville and I could not have been any happier that a dear family member wanted something for themselves that had been so important to me. So it was a few months ago when I was cleaning out my attic trying to dispose of many of my ‘bunch of stuff’ items that I decided to go ahead and give the puma/cougar to my sister as I knew it would receive the care and stature that it so deserved when it moved to its new home.

So now I fast-forward to my most recent rant regarding the offense of a very early Christmas display erected by a neighbor across the street from me who is selling his house and in fact doesn’t even live there anymore. The offense of early Christmas decorating has always been a bit of a pet peeve with me. And I was again going to have to deal with the same offense again when making a recent visit to my sister’s home. But let me say in her defense, before that visit she had fore warned me she had decorated early due to her upcoming busy schedule. And I understood that and could live with that…. up to a point!

Now upon my arrival for my visit as we walked through her great room on our way to my sister’s kitchen table where our visits normally took place, I quickly took in her Christmas decorating and thought it was quite elegant as was to be expected of course.

But it was some two hours later as I was leaving from quite the pleasant visit that I glanced over toward her fire place as I was walking back through her great room and found myself staring in absolute shock. There next to her fireplace was my beautiful puma/cougar statuette totally defaced in my opinion due to a damn Santa hat on top of its head. I actually thought for a moment I was going to lose consciousness but fortunately quickly recovered. I immediately turned to my sister and asked, “What in the world have you done to my puma/cougar statuette? You put a Santa hat on him?” (Well, here…. you’ve got to see this to believe it)…..

cougar-with-santa-hat-2

My sister, rather than wreathing in pain and embarrassment from defacing one of her brother’s most cherished possessions as one would expect, immediately broke out in laughter noting that she wondered if I would notice how her Christmas decorating inspirations had befallen one of my most favorite things. In the end of course we all had a good laugh over the situation and of course in reality it was nice to see my puma/cougar get a rather prominent place in the great room’s Christmas decorations scheme of things when it was all said and done. He does look quite handsome there, Santa hat and all…. 🙂