11/24/2014

Puppy Day - 24 November 2014

With it being Thanksgiving week and people anticipating turkey, dressing and all the other trimmings of this day, I feel it is time for another installment of "Puppy Day" on David's Musings.  It has been four months since the last Puppy Day.  That is far too long.  As I have stated many times, I feel the joy of a puppy can cure a lot of ills people may have.  They are the cure for loneliness, sadness and grief.  But, during this time of year, people buy their children puppies  because they are so "cute."  With the ownership of a puppy comes responsibility of taking care of them.  Kids being kids can be cruel to animals.  It is not their fault.  I blame the parents for not teaching them.  So, when or if you to get a puppy during this holiday season, please take care of the little fellas and gals.  They are depending on you to care for them.  That out of the way, as always, click on the images to expand them.  
Looks like three piglets
Just taking a nap
Hi! Wanna be friends?

Hi everybody!

11/21/2014

My Worst Thanksgiving Day




Many times people dwell on the good times they have had during the holidays.  Many think of Thanksgiving at their grandparents house.  Many think of Christmas with loved ones and the great times they have had.  But, there is always that one holiday that sticks out in your mind as worst ever.   My worst ever Thanksgiving happened when I was about 16 years old.  We were living in Florida at the time.  Mama had gathered all the turkey, dressing mix and so forth she would need.  Mama would start cooking at about 5AM Thanksgiving Day.  She would put the turkey on, the dressing, the gravy and so forth.  She usually did this without any help.  But, on this one particular Thanksgiving, the power went out about 9AM.  The turkey was only about half done, the dressing was not yet put in the oven.  In short, my mother was at the mid-way point of cooking Thanksgiving Dinner when the power went out.  Since it was an electric stove, she had no choice but to wait for the lights to come back on that morning. We anticipated about a 5 minute wait, maybe 30 minutes if something was really bad at the power company.  After 10AM, Mama called the power company.  She got a recording.  That's never a good sign.  Noon came and went.  Still no power.  Mama was desperate now.  She considered taking the turkey out of the oven and putting it on the grill.  But, it was so wet and rainy outside, she felt it would be impossible. 

It was now 4PM Thanksgiving Day.  We were hungry since we had not eaten any breakfast in anticipation of Turkey and all the trimmings.  People around the neighborhood were gathering at street corners now.  We were not the only folks upset with the power company.  The "not knowing" what was wrong and when the power was coming back on is what was driving us all crazy.  It was now 6PM and it was dark.  We had eaten sandwiches and soup for our Thanksgiving dinner.  We all thought it was funny except our mother.  Mama did not know what to do with the turkey. She decided to put it in the refrigerator.  But, she could not find enough space.  So, as she was taking things out of the fridge, the power came on just after 7PM.  The power had been out for over 10 hours on Thanksgiving Day.  Mama decided to put the turkey and dressing in the oven and stay up until it was done.  She finished up Thanksgiving dinner about 11:30PM that night.  We ate our turkey and dressing the day after Thanksgiving.  It was delicious as always.  But, it simply wasn't the same.  We bragged on Mama for all the hard work she did to have the meal ready for us, albeit a day late.  It didn't seem like Thanksgiving because we weren't able to have turkey and dressing on Thanksgiving Thursday.

The reason for the power outage?  A cat, trying to get out of the rain and cold, got into a substation and shorted out the entire grid to about 5,000 customers on Thanksgiving Day.  As bad as our Thanksgiving Day was, it was much worse for a cat that used up all 9 of his lives on Thanksgiving Day many years ago.

11/17/2014

The Holiday Season






We have Thanksgiving coming up in about 10 days from the date of this post.  People will be running here and there in preparation for relatives coming over for Thanksgiving dinner.  It's this time of the year when the criminal element of society preys on those who are oblivious to their surroundings due to their single-minded approach toward the holidays. Now, people are busy going to the supermarket getting everything they need for Thanksgiving dinner.  The day after Thanksgiving, Black Friday, is a day like no other.  When November rolls around on your calendar, criminals lick their chops in preparation for their own "Thanksgiving" and their own "Christmas gifts."   You are the focus of their plans for this time of year.  This time of year all kinds of scams are going forth.  I heard about one where some people are pretending to be workers for the Salvation Army and are going door to door to collect for the poor so they can have Thanksgiving dinner at their homes.  Ladies and gentlemen, the Salvation Army doesn't come to your house unless you invite them.  Even then, it is to pick up old furniture, clothing, blankets, etc.  They are in front of department stores to collect for the poor.  They don't go door to door, at least in my area.  It is a scam that is going around.  So, please beware.  There are other scams such as people posing to be representing some obscure charity.  Never give anything to these people unless they have a badge identifying themselves.  Most charities have to be licensed by your city.  Use your common sense when dealing with these people.

During the holidays, people are in such a hurry they don't pay attention to their surroundings.  Criminals have got their eyes on you, particularly women who are alone or the elderly.  Park as close to the front of the store as possible.  If that is not possible, try to go another time of the day (early in the morning, for example) or go to a store with parking lot security.  Criminals are watching you in these stores looking for a weakness to exploit.  Just be wary during the holiday season.  There is no reason why you can't have an enjoyable holiday season.  But, just know there are those around who don't care about you or your holiday enjoyment.

11/14/2014

Thanksgiving At Grandma's House






Those of you that read my ghost story at my grandma's house (Ghost Story:  Summers at Grandma's House) will remember my grandma as a no nonsense kind of woman.  My grandfather was equally a no nonsense type.  But, he never tried to lock horns with grandma.  As I said in that story, my grandma's house was an old two-story home they bought not long after WWII.  My grandpa worked at a shipyard about 20 miles away.  But, they also had a small farm that my grandparents worked as well.  They both never lacked for money.  They both had their own cars which was not a common thing to see in a home back in the 50s and 60s.  Summers were great at my grandma's house.  But, holidays were something special.  Thanksgiving was a treat all into itself.  Grandpa, who was normally cantankerous when we were there, seemed to always be on his best behavior during Thanksgiving.  I suspect grandma read him the riot act before we arrived.  That was what my father said anyway.  Regardless, it was a very wonderful time of the year.  Even though it was not Christmas, grandma had a present for each of us as we arrived at her home.  It was usually a theme with Thanksgiving, such as  small pumpkin flavored candy of some sort.

Thanksgiving dinner was usually served around 2PM that day.  We would have a light breakfast of cereal or pancakes.  So, we were sure to be hungry when it came time to eat Thanksgiving dinner.  Grandma always had candles burning on the table.  Grandpa didn't like that.  But, he knew better than to say anything about it.  Grandma knew how to cook, especially turkeys.  It was never dry and it was cooked just right.  The dressing was just out of this world good.  It was Thanksgiving with all the trimmings as you can imagine.  Everyone was expected to at least have second helpings.  As grandma always said, "If I can get up at 6 in the morning to cook this and slave over that stove for four hours, you can eat second helpings."  Everybody ate second helpings.  No one wanted to offend grandma for any reason.  Dressing always fills you up quick.  So, we learned early not to eat much dressing even though it was delicious.  Of course, there were the usual pecan pies, pumpkin pies and cake.  After eating my share of that, I didn't think I could eat the next day. Thanksgiving leftovers seemed even better the next day.  So, I still found a way to put away more turkey and dressing somehow.  Of course, we would then retire to the living room, grandma would want us to tell her what we wanted Santa Claus to bring us for Christmas.  My dad and grandpa tried to watch football on TV while this was going on, of course.  It was always tough to leave the Sunday after Thanksgiving.  Grandma would always cry and then we would cry also.  We all loved our grandparents.

Holidays are never quite the same after you leave your childhood.  I mean, I look forward to the holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.  But, it's just not the same as a 63-year old man. 

11/10/2014

Family Album - 2

 






"Family Album" is another in a long list of series I started and stopped for different reasons.  The main reason I stopped this one is I have never felt comfortable posting pics from my family album.  I still feel that way.  I intend to add a couple more chapters to this series before the 7th anniversary of this blog in April.  As I've stated before, we are in the winding down stage of regular participation here.  Oh, there will still be posts made on a weekly basis (for a few months anyway).  But, few, very few will be from me.  I'm ready to move on.  Most of the posts made here will be on the supernatural/paranormal topic.  Some staff members have stated they will post from time to time.  But, enough of this....this is about someone from my family album.  I will not post a picture of this individual.  I will tell a brief story about her as was told to me.

The person I will tell about today is my Great-Aunt Susanna Mitchell.  She was from my mothers side of the family.  Unlike most on that side of the family, Aunt Susanna was highly educated and held high paying jobs during her working years.  This was during the 1930s when women were looked upon suspiciously if they worked, especially highly educated women in positions of authority.  Aunt Susanna was co-chair of a newspaper in the Midwest.  She never rose higher than co-chairman (yes, back in those days they were not politically correct) of the newspaper.  Aunt Susanna was wealthy, had two homes and actually owned an automobile in 1938 when most people couldn't even drive.  My aunt dated lots of wealthy men and many were the suitor who courted her.  However, Aunt Susanna never married.  In the early part of the 20th century, it was considered downright strange if a woman didn't do her "duty" to get married and have children.  Aunt Susanna never felt under any obligation to do so.  She was too busy going to places like Paris, London and the Swiss Alps.  She enjoyed her wealth and the pleasure it brought to her.  Again, she never even discussed getting married to family members.  It wasn't until after her death in 1960 of throat cancer as to why she never did marry.

From photos found in her diary, her own private albums and her security box at the bank, it was discovered that Aunt Susanna was a lesbian.  Being gay (or homosexual as it was termed in that era) was something that was hushed up and never discussed under any circumstances.  Few in the family ever suspected my aunt was gay.  My grandmother (maternal) did say to several family members she felt Susanna was "homosexual."  But, she was quickly dismissed as being absurd.  Many just thought Aunt Susanna was eccentric and a member of the news media elite who basked in the limelight.  As it turns out, grandma was right all along.  I only met my great-aunt one time when I was 6 years old.  I don't remember much about her except she pinched my cheek hard and kissed me on my forehead.  Three years later she was dead.  The "great family secret" was never really a secret.  It was just that Aunt Susanna kept her private life....private.  She kept it very private.

In her will, she requested that a certain amount of money would go to a woman living in Orlando, Florida.  Initially, the family started to fight the will because of the woman.  But, cooler heads prevailed and it was decided that Aunt Susanna's last request be granted.  Her name is rarely mentioned because few remember her.  I still have pics of her in my family album.  She was a very attractive woman.  But, the shock of her "secret life" still is the cause of discussion at family gatherings by those who still remember her.


11/07/2014

Wars and Thanksgiving Day







I originally posted this story on Hubpages about three years ago.  It is about the time North Korea fired on a disputed island that belongs to South Korea.  I discussed my own experiences in Southeast Asia. I hope you enjoy it since this is the month of Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving Day and the Vietnam War

This week was one that has stung me quite a bit (more on that later). What jogged my memory was the shelling between North and South Korea this week. It appears that we are, once again, headed toward another war in Southeast Asia. This war has never officially ended, of course. Unlike the Vietnam War, in the Korean War there was never an official winner or loser. But, this statement, in and of itself, is a bit disingenuous. There is never a real winner or loser in wars. There are only survivors. Sure, it was vital that we won WWII. But, as my late father once told me; "Losing that war was never an option." So, it was with a bit of unease that I felt with the report that North and South Korea were on the verge of war. China is keeping its stance of supporting a corrupt regime in North Korea. Why? Possibly it is the thought of a U.S. supported, unified Korea, just south of their border, as the impetus of their support for the North Korean regime. The idea of a nuclear North Korea has to be unsettling to China. I can't imagine they are happy about that. South Korea can't be happy with a million man army just twenty miles from Seoul. There is no way North Korea would win this war. But, they would destroy much of the infrastructure of South Korea before their ultimate surrender. The questions that haunt me; Does North Korea have the ability to launch a nuclear weapon on Seoul? Would they do it knowing full well the consequences of that action? The threat of nuclear weapons were given more thought than many people realize during the Vietnam War. The Soviet Union came close to entering that war with more than just training North Korean pilots.
 
I was placed in Vietnam on temporary duty back in November of 1970. The war was winding down, more and more troops were reluctant to go into the bush to fight a faceless enemy. But, thankfully, I never had to be an Army grunt (infantryman). I was a communications tech with the U.S. Navy. During my six month deployment, I was volunteered for swift boat (or riverboat) patrol during this time. I had never seen combat and was never trained for it until 72 hours prior to actually going on my first patrol with U.S. Marines and other Navy personnel. The swift boat patrol needed a communications tech and I was quickly volunteered. I didn't know what to expect. I was quite naturally scared, as you can imagine. The Marines on board were ribbing me about it, calling me "newby" among other names. We were going out on a recon mission early Thanksgiving Day of 1970. There had been heavy Viet Cong activity in this particular area. We knew we were going to meet stiff resistance.

So, we had our Thanksgiving Day feast on the eve (Wednesday) of this holiday. I remember not being able to eat much turkey and dressing. I was a scared 19-year old kid from Alabama. Like so many, all I wanted to do was go home. I didn't want any part of this war. In fact, I joined the U.S. Navy to get out of this war. Eighteen months after I enlisted, I found myself in Vietnam. So, we ate and went back to our barracks to try and sleep. We got up at 2AM on Thanksgiving Day in 1970. I thought I was going to throw up before I ever got on the boat. There the boat was, with .50 caliber machine gun turrets throughout. Now, there was not a word spoken throughout. Even the Marines were anxious. For some reason, that made me feel better because I wasn't alone in my world of fear. Everyone was geared up and ready on this Thanksgiving Day. I couldn't help but wonder how my family was doing on this day thousands and thousands of miles away from this wretched little war. I was glad my mother had no idea of what her oldest son was about to do.

There was radio silence, of course, as we went on this patrol on Thanksgiving Day. There was no sense in inviting an attack. But, as it turned out, we didn't have to wait long for that very thing to happen. We had gone into a narrow area of the river when mortar rounds started dropping all around the boat. Heavy machine gun fire hit the boat with the "whap, whap, whap" crackling that I can still hear today. Radio silence was a thing of the past now as I radioed in we were under heavy attack. I gave our coordinates and the big Huey Cobras were on the way. Shortly after this happened, our entire communications depot was destroyed by machine gun fire. I just happened to be away from the console when we took fire there. Like 50% of swift boat patrols, we had casualties. There was one African-American Marine who had been mortally wounded in his upper chest. I remembered he told me he was from Brooklyn, New York. The Navy medic told me to stay with him as he shook his head before attending to other wounded personnel. I knew what that meant. The medic had done all he could do. So, I held this young black Marine in my arms as the life slowly drained from him and listening to his cries for his "Mama." I cried with him, on that Thanksgiving Day, until his cries went silent.

So, it appears history will, once again, repeat itself in Korea. I hope to God I am wrong. If North Korea invades South Korea, our troops will have to defend themselves. If our troops are killed, then President Obama will have no choice but to send more troops and ships to Korea. I hope our troops don't have to go back to Southeast Asia to try and win another war with a communist enemy. I wish our troops were home from the Middle East. But, in this turbulent world, there are always going to be wars. On this Thanksgiving Day week, please remember our troops who are out there doing what has to be done. They are doing as ordered. They are our boys and girls. God Bless our troops no matter where they are this American Holiday week.


11/03/2014

Ghost Of Laurrine Street





Today we have Josh Smith guest posting on the supernatural/paranormal topic.  Josh is a Software Engineer living in Colorado. Josh has been married for 15 years to a wonderful and beautiful woman named, Janice.  His hobbies consist of hunting, fishing, boating, whitewater rafting and playing with his two small children.  Josh Smith is a political junkie and is co-chairman of an independent political party in his area.  He is a graduate of the University of Washington and a proud active alum of the Huskie Nation.

If you have a story to share relating to the paranormal/supernatural, click HERE for details.  Also, to answer many questions, there is no charge for guest posting on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.

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My story will probably not be as long or as scary as most have been here on this blog.  I have been something of a fan of this topic on this blog since it was started late last year.  I've had quite a bit of interest in the paranormal since my experience in a small, rural area in the state of Washington.  I grew up living in the deep forested area of Washington.  I can't tell you how many camping trips and hunting trips I have been on since I was all of 8 years old.  I usually went with my dad.  But, since he was a shift worker at a local sawmill, he didn't get much time off while I was growing up as a precocious 12-year old.  Luckily for me, my uncle was frequently available to go on these hunting trips and camping trips.  But, this story is not about camping or hunting trips.  It is about an apparition or ghost, if you will, that I would see quite often on Laurrine St. where I grew up.  We lived in a very rural area, as I said.  There were a number of abandoned houses on our street.  We had an abandoned house in front of our home and on each side of it on Laurrine St.  Our nearest neighbor lived almost a mile south of us.  So, it was me, my dad and our blue-tick hound called (quite appropriately enough) Blue.   My mom died when I was 2 years old and I had no siblings prior to her death.  So, it was frequently just me and Blue by ourselves while my dad worked at the mill.  My uncle and his wife (I refuse to call her my aunt since I had total disdain for her) would frequently drop by when they knew I was by myself.  My uncle would bring me a home cooked meal since he knew I did not get that very often.  He was a great guy.

The first time I saw the Ghost of Laurrine St. was in the dead of summer, early August, or the dog days of summer as it was called when I was a child.  This was in 1982.  The apparition would show up in the abandoned house directly in front of our house.  The first time I saw it, I thought I was seeing things.  But, this thing moved from room to room there.  I knew my eyes were not playing tricks on me.  It would frequently appear around 9-10PM, right before my dad came home.  When he was home, I never saw it.  I saw no reason to mention it to him, my uncle or anyone else for that matter.  This went on for several months.  Sometimes I went 2 weeks or more without seeing this ghost across the dirt road in front of our house on Laurrine St.  Blue would bark at it whenever it made an appearance.  So, I knew he saw it also.  I was trying to talk myself into going over there to that house about 9PM one Friday night in December.  I knew my dad was going to be working a double shift that night.  So, he would not be home until about 6:30 the next morning.  I was trying to convince myself into going over there this cold December night.   Finally, when darkness came, I called for Blue to join me. We both left our house and started toward the abandoned house where the current resident was one ghost who kept a schedule of about 9PM just so I could see him.

Blue and I slowly started walking over to this abandoned house across from our house on Laurrine St.  It was cold and it had been snowing since late that afternoon.  I figured the temperature must be in the low 20s by now.  As I pulled open the small gate to enter the yard, Blue suddenly backed up.  I called for him to come on, let's go inside.  He wasn't having any of it.  I even tried to bribe him with my nearly frozen Snickers candy bar.  He refused and ran back across the street.  Calling him to come back had no effect.  I thought, Blue probably has more sense than I do.  Why was I going into this house anyway?  Because it's there, just like Mt. Everest.  The old stairs groaned as I walked up there and so did the small front porch.  I turned the door knob and the door nearly fell inward.  As it was, the top hinge came loose and the door was just hanging by the bottom hinge now.  I peered inside into the darkness.  Idiot that I was, I didn't think to bring a flashlight.  But, after my eyes adjusted to the darkness, I carefully stepped inside.  It seemed even colder inside the old house.  I could barely make out shapes in the house.  There was a stairway that seemed to be rotten.  I wasn't going to chance that.  There was still furniture inside that obviously had seen its better days.  I was looking around for my old friend, the ghost.  I had been inside the house for about 5 minutes looking around. I couldn't really tell what was what in the house.  I decided it was not going to make an appearance with me inside.   So, I made one last look around and headed for the door.  "Why are you here?," the voice whispered to me.  I froze in my tracks.  I looked around and still saw nothing.

"I said, WHY ARE YOU HERE?'  This time, it was not a whisper.  It was definitely a booming voice that shook me to my very soul.  I looked around me, about to pee in my pants, and saw the apparition near the staircase where I have witnessed it before.  "I...I.....I....was just lonely and thought I would come over here to see what is going on", I breathlessly said.  The ghost was not solid, but it definitely was the shape of a man.  There was silence from the entity for about a minute.  "This is my home.  You were not invited here.  You must go and go now", I was informed by the ghost.  I wanted to ask this ghostly apparition if he was aware he was no longer among the living.  But, I thought better of it.  As I turned to leave, the ghost said, "I have noticed you staring at me from across the street.  Why do you stare at me so? You must find something to do with your time.  Do not come back to my home."  It was apparent to me this ghostly figure had no idea he was dead or a spirit now.  So, I went through the door as quickly as I could to find the anxiously waiting Blue at the gate wanting to escort me home.  I looked behind me and saw the ghost staring at me now.  I can't think of another time in my life where I was more frightened and puzzled as well.  It was obvious this apparition was going to stay in that abandoned house until it falls down completely.  It simply was not aware of its surroundings at all.  I never went back there.  The ghost had me convinced I was not welcome.

I continued to see that ghostly figure for the next 6 years until I left for college. But, I did not see it as often as I did before the incident where I and the ghostly figure met face to face. When it did appear, it would always appear about the 9-10PM time slot when it would make itself known to me.  I never mentioned this to anyone except my wife and only then after we had been married for 4 years.  She encouraged me to post this story somewhere.  She believes me and what I saw on Laurrine St. as a small boy and on into my teen years.  My dad passed away in 2007.  I had to go back to take care of his affairs after the funeral.  The abandoned homes on both sides of our old home were now gone.  Nature had finally claimed them.  But, strangely, the house across the street, the house with the ghost was still intact.  There were new homes built within shouting distance of my home and that ghost house.  But, for reasons I still don't understand, that one abandoned house was still standing, albeit in a decrepit state.  I've not gone back to that area since 2007.  It has too many painful memories and the fear I might want to go back to that ghostly house on Laurrine Street.  I have the distinct feeling that ghost on Laurrine St. might still be waiting for me to come back.

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