Sunday, November 20, 2011


We currently live in the most densely populated county in the state of Florida. No, it isn't the Miami area, we live in the Tampa Bay metro area.

We have lots of sun, warm weather and beaches. We also have more people per square mile than any other area in Florida. It's the people I don't like.

When the human race lives in this sort of chaos, the simple act of civility toward your fellow man seems to disappear. We get on each other's nerves. I see road rage on a daily basis, if the clerk at the 7-11 takes too much time checking us out, we get irritated beyond the norm of civil behavior.

Those of us from the New York, New Jersey area are the worst. They have escaped from that hell of extreme population density to Florida. Upmost in their minds is to make Florida just like what they left, and complain about Florida at every chance. They are part of the problem.

Here is the funny part. Those sun lovers who moved here, and spoiled the area, are now moving north. No, not back to New York, but to the Carolinas, Tennessee, etc. The natives of that area call them "Half Backs". They have moved half way back to New York.

At least they left Florida.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Life on the lake.

We are soon leaving Florida and will return to Indiana, after almost thirty years. Everyone says we are crazy, especially those from Indiana. I think they are wrong.

We are moving to a much smaller house, on a small lake in Northern Indiana. It is not a large body of water, about 50 acres. Just big enough.

My family owns most of the lakefront property. It has been handed down from generation to generation. My wise grandfather bought in about 1948. It is a special place.

We allow fishermen to launch their boats for a fee of $3.00. It is on the honor system and most are honorable people. I have often thought that honor and fishing went hand in hand.

Other than the occasional fisherman, we seldom see outsiders on our lake, especially in the winter. I like that.

Our lake has a soul. It lives and breathes like any of God's creatures. It often suffers. I think of this lake as a member of our family, a kind, giving uncle if you please.

The lake talks to me in the morning as I sit on the patio drinking my coffee. Sandhill cranes, splashing bass, honking geese.........our lake has many voices.

When I am hungry, the lake provides food. When I am hot and stressed, the lake caresses my body. When I am tired, the lake lulls me to sleep with it's gentile symphony of evening sounds.

My mother often told me that there were three simple things in life that soothe the soul. Watching a dancing fire on a cold night, watching wild creatures go about their daily lives, and watching water.

I will soon have the best of all those worlds, and I am grateful for it.

The Stare.

You know the one I am talking about. When they pull their cell phone out of their pocket and give it the stare.

It could also be called a glare, it is intense. They just stared at their phone two minutes ago, but there they go again. What exactly are they waiting for?

One would think they were praying to some cellular god that lives inside their phone. "Please god, have someone call or text me". I am so lonely.

Cell phones, like computers, have empowered the meekest and weakest of us with a sense of power. Someone has texted me, therefore, I am important. If I were to miss a would be the end of the world, as we know it.

I spend a lot of time waiting in airports. I feel like Woody Allen, observing life on this planet. For the most part, everyone in the airport is looking at their cell phone. That L.E.D. light emitting from the phone shines on their face. Perhaps God is really talking to them from his enlightened throne.

I am no exception. I do have a rule that I do not take my cell phone into stores when I
have business with the owner. I am old fashioned, to answer a phone while in a meeting
is rude.

We have our house for sale. I interviewed three realtors. One of the realtors had a blue
tooth stuck in her ear, every time she came to the house. This told me something about
her priorities. That phone call, that I might get, that might be important, that can't wait.. more important than you.

She didn't get the listing.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Little Things......

Technically, we don't live in Palm Harbor, but a lot of our neighbors do.

We live in Ozona and gladly pick up our mail each day at the tiny Ozona post office. Our next door neighbors, like many others who live on the fringe, walk outside each day and get their mail from a street side mail box. They lead double lives. Their mailing address is Palm Harbor but they proudly profess being Ozona residents. They don't know what they are missing.

I have often wondered if this area is some sort of secret witness protection haven. Garmin Tom-Tom, Mapquest, none of them can find Ozona. Handy, I suppose, if you are in hiding.

One rural carrier took care of the whole town of Hoagland, Indiana when we lived there. I remember an incident in 1980, our daughter was about seven. Another child relative had sent her a birthday card from California. It was addressed; Lisa. Hoagland, Indiana.

Lisa got the card. To this day I don't know if Lisa was the only Lisa in town or if Don, the mail carrier, recognized it was a birthday card, and knew it was Lisa's birthday.

This brings me to one of the little things about Ozona that we love, our Post Office.

It is a gathering place. We meet and great. We talk about the weather and who is under the weather. We pocket our cell phones and actually converse, face to face.

The Ozona post masters have been a mixed bad over the thirty years we have lived here, most pleasant and efficient, some not so. For many years, if we got mail without our box number, it was sent back to the sender.

We have a gem currently. Her name is Linda. She has a tattoo on her wrist and a sublime smile. I have the feeling she is grateful for her job. I have never seen her complain.

I recently sent off one of those large manilla envelopes, destined to the IRS. I guessed at the postage and dropped it off on my way to work. Later in the day, I checked my box and found a note; "your package was 12 cents short in postage. I paid the difference, you owe me 12 cents". Linda

A little thing.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Reflections of my great grandmother, Rosina

I spent my early years in a small house directly behind “Great Grandma” Neukom’s house on Penn Street in Decatur, Indiana.

I lived there from about the ages of 4 to 9 years of age.

I remember Grandma Neukom had a huge garden that she seemed to tend daily while wearing either an old fashioned bonnet or straw hat She was a small feistly old woman to me and didn’t seem to show affection towards many people

My father (Charles) said he had helped build her house when Christian, her husband died. It was a small bungalow-type house with a small basement loaded with canned fruits and vegetables. It was always immaculate and Grandma Neukom was especially proud of her flowers and garden.

It always seemed to me that she was mean-spirited towards my grandmother (her daughter, Edna). As a yound boy I didn’t realize she did this to perhaps make her blind daughter stronger and more self-reliant. I remember very vividly the wire strung between her house and Edna’s so that her blind daughter might travel the distance between houses more easily, and her yelling at her daughter if she stumbled or got off path.

Grandma Neukom spoke in a heavily accented German voice. She died on the 9th of June 1973 (the day my brother, Chuck, got married) after living her final years in the care of her daughter, Edna........the independent, blind one.

Let me shock you.

I sincerely believe the world is going mad. I see it every day.

People do things that are meant to shock and awe. There is no limit to their actions or dress.

Yesterday, a young girl pulled her pants down to show us all her new butt tattoo. There was not one shred of modesty in her, that I could see. She was proud and barely eighteen.

I think this all started about twenty years ago when everyone my age started dressing like Willie Nelson. Don't get me wrong, I love Willie. I just don't want to look or act like him. He is not my idol. His stature as the "ultimate outlaw" started a trend. I wonder if he is proud of that fact.

I have pretty much stopped watching any television. Movies and books are my source of recluse. I can escape the madness for a short time.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


I am not a particularly religious person. I believe there is a God. I am just not sure he believes in me.
I have always tried to lead a Christian life. I think that is a good thing and I feel better for it.

The writings of Henry David Thoreau have had a profound effect on my thinking and actions. Probably not as much as Christian teachings, but definitely a factor in the way I think.

Linda and I are approaching a new adventure in our lives. We intend to leave Florida, after 30 years, in a few months.

In preparation, we have been discarding all those "things" that we find unnecessary in our lives.
At first, it was a chore. As we progressed, it became an obsession and especially for me, a necessity.

As we threw away, sold or gave away "things", we frantically looked for more items to dispose of.

It became a game.

Here is the funny part. After a few weeks, we can't remember what we got rid of. Maybe that set of candles given to us as a present many years ago, wasn't that important.

I can't speak entirely for Linda but I feel cleansed, without so much life baggage to worry and care about.

I like this simple life.

Hanging over my desk at work is a quote by Thoreau. It is weathered and yellow and has been stuck on my bulletin board for over thirty years. For some reason, it resonated with me when I first read it.

Lately, it makes more sense.

"Simplify, Simplify, Simplify". Henry David Thoreau