The Stranger in the Beige Suit

Over my long life, now extending into six decades, I have met all kinds of people from all over the world.  I've met some really terrible people in my life.  I mean, the kind of people you would rather stay as far away from as humanly possible.  On the other hand, I have met some of the most wonderful people on earth as well.  Salt of the earth type people as it were.  They both come from all types of backgrounds, ethnicity, religious faith and what have you.  It just demonstrates you can meet a variety of different people regardless of their place in life.  I've met people who would give you the shirt off their back.  Still others I have met would try to steal the shirt off of your back.   What this is all leading up to is an incident at a local fastfood restaurant I personally witnessed this past Wednesday.  It was after the lunch crowd, about 2:30PM and before the kids got out of school.  So, it was slow.

I was sitting down enjoying my chicken sandwich and lemonade.  I noticed a homeless man shuffle into the store with some change in his hand.  I guessed he had been panhandling and the day had not gone well for him.  His old, ragged clothes appeared clean, however.  That was what really caught my attention.  How did he manage to do that, I thought.  He asked the young clerk at the order register if he had enough to buy one chicken sandwich.  She told him, no sir, you need 27 cents more for the sandwich.  He was about to turn around and leave when a stranger came up behind him.  I could not understand what this man in a nice beige suit said to the homeless man.  The beige suit made an order to the clerk.  I was intrigued now.  Both the beige suit and homeless man both waited at the order table, apparently making small talk.  After about 10 minutes, a restaurant worker came out with a huge tray of sandwiches that this particular franchise made.  They were carefully placed in a sack, along with another sack of french fries.  Both sacks were then placed in a large sack so the man could carry them out.  But, not before he was given two huge liter soft drinks to take with him.  The homeless man thanked the beige suit man profusely and, yes, tears came from his eyes.

I never did find out who the stranger was in the beige suit.  He got his order, left in what appeared to be a brand new BMW.  Yes, he was rich and could have afforded to probably buy out all the food in the store if he had wanted to.  But, the way this story ends is not with this rich man in the beige suit.  It ends with the homeless man.  He took all those sandwiches and distributed them to the many homeless people living in a shanty town about a quarter mile from this fastfood restaurant.  Did this rich man in the beige suit know he was going to take those sandwiches to all those homeless people?  I don't know.  Maybe he asked the homeless man if he would do just that before he placed the order.  I'm just guessing at that. But, some poor, homeless people, just for a brief moment, got to taste a bit of luxury we all take for granted each day. 


Family Album - 4

With this post, we mark the fourth installment of the "Family Album" series.  This was started far back in March of 2009, some six years ago now, with Family Album - 1.  Sometimes posts will stay dormant for months, years even.  Family Album -1 is one of those posts that suddenly came alive.  It is the primary reason I restarted this series.  I will do one more next month.  That will be the fifth and final installment of the Family Album series.  As most of you know, my activity on this blog is coming to an end after the 1000th post sometime in early April.  It will then be taken over by current staff and writers who will only occasionally post something of interest.  For the most part, the focus of this blog will be the guest posting of those on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural series.  More on the future of David's Musings later.

As I looked through a family album to post something on a particular person, I came across a man with one arm.  In the picture, he was standing between my father and grandfather (paternal).  He was a friend of my father as they served together in the U.S. Navy during WWII.  His name was Nathan Smokesky.  I know that is an odd name.  But, that is how it was spelled on the back of the picture.  Unlike my father, Nathan Smokesky saw plenty of action during WWII.  He was on a U.S. Navy Destroyer, USS Bristol, which was torpedoed by a German U-boat in October of 1943.  That marked the end of WWII for Nathan.  He had an arm blown off (his right arm, he was a lefty though) and somehow survived.  Fifty-two men were not so lucky.  Nathan was in and out of VA hospitals for 4 years after losing his arm.  He was told he suffered "combat fatigue" or, as we now know, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome or PTSD as it is more commonly referred to now.  Nathan suffered with this for the rest of his life.  He was finally abandoned by his entire family after one of his more violent outbursts in 1952.  Nathan drifted in and out of homelessness.  He was finally taken in by my father before the latter part of December in 1953. 

He would go back and forth living with us and with my grandfather.  Sometimes he would stay with us for a few weeks.  Then he would go stay with my grandfather and my grandma for a couple of months.  He did seem to enjoy staying at my grandfather's place since my grandfather had a welding shop in the back of his house.  My grandfather taught him how to weld with one hand.  The reason he kept going back and forth between both places was due to his drinking problem.  My mother would get enough of it and off he went to my grandfather's house.  And on it went until about 1957 when Nathan finally got a good welding job and got an apartment of his own.  He seemed to be doing quite well as he was working lots of overtime and making a lot of money for that era ($300 a week and more with OT).   Unfortunately, the nightmares of war eventually caught back up with Nathan.  One sunny, Spring day in 1958, he jumped off a high-rise bridge, ending his tragic life.  Nathan had stopped going for treatment at the VA hospital for several months.  He felt he could cope with his nightmares by himself.

I can only vaguely remember Nathan as a small boy.  He made me a tin soldier which I still have on my fireplace mantel.  Nathan was very talented.  His was a sad life made sadder by the fact his family had given up on him.  He was a veteran of WWII, of the greatest generation who was unable to shake loose the demons of war.  I sometimes go to his grave to just lay a few flowers from time to time. I leave his grave thinking how sad life can truly be.  Here was a good man who simply could not recover from the horrors of WWII.


Fighting Another Episode of Diverticulitis

It begins with slight nausea when you wake up in the morning.  Your stomach feels queasy and you wonder if you really want breakfast.  You think, may be it's just an upset stomach and will go away with some flapjacks and sausage.  Yeah!  That's the ticket!  Except that would make it even worse as you would later find out.  Then you start experiencing these slight pains in your lower-left of your abdomen that you think are probably just pulled muscles from exercises.  Except that is not what is causing the pain.  It's diverticulitis once again.  The pain is due to small pockets in the wall of the colon that fill with stagnant fecal material and become inflamed.  When you have a bowel movement, you will notice what appears to be little rabbit pellets in the toilet bowl.  This pain can become quite severe as I found out when I first had my initial experience with how terrible diverticulitis can be.  I was hospitalized that first time due to massive diverticulitis.  I had one doctor tell me that when diverticulitis shows up on a CAT scan, you definitely have diverticulitis.  I was in the hospital for nearly five days as a result.  Since that time, I have had minor bouts with diverticulitis.  It is a sickening experience (pun intended).

It is possible I will have to eventually undergo surgery to rid myself of this pocket or pockets in my colon that is causing so much distress in my life.  I drink plenty of water, take Metamucil as required, and now I'm on oral antibiotics (augmentin) to try and stave off the inflammation so that the nausea doesn't get any worse.  The current fight with diverticulitis is not going well for me.  I'm doing everything in the past, that worked, to get over this bout with this dreaded disease.  You pay for your sins, of youth, when you are older.  I ate a lot of hot, spicy food that I am now paying for with interest.  I love hot spicy food.  Unfortunately, it doesn't love me.  So, once again, I have to avoid the hot spicy cuisine I favor so much.  I'm not sure how this latest episode with diverticulitis will turn out for me.  Hopefully, it doesn't mean I have to go to the hospital.  I have to remain optimistic that the antibiotics I am currently taking will do the trick. That's my goal right now.


Ralph Has Dysplasia

As many long time followers of this blog know, I bought a six week old beagle about two weeks after I started this blog in April of 2008. Ralph will be 7 years old next month.  I always keep a close eye on Ralph, particularly since his great escape about a year and a half ago.  I noticed, right around last Christmas, Ralph was having trouble getting up after laying down.  He didn't seem to look forward to our walks in the park as he once did.  I knew something was wrong then.  Ralph would rather go walking in the park than eat.  He seemed to walk oddly as well.  So, immediately after Christmas, I scheduled an appointment with our vet.  Ralph goes for a checkup every three months whether he is healthy or not.  I'm that crazy about him.  Ralph has always been a very healthy dog with the exception of a virus he caught when he was about 9 months old.  That very nearly killed him.  I stayed up with him all night, making Ralph take medicine every 4 hours.  The antibiotics saved him.  But, lately, Ralph just wasn't himself.  He loves to run around in the backyard, chasing squirrels, birds and anything else that dares to set foot in "his yard."

His after Christmas checkup revealed Ralph had the beginnings of Dysplasia, which is a hip disease found mostly in large breed dogs such as German Shepards.  But, according to the vet, smaller breeds can get Dysplasia as well.  It's a hip problem that can be treated to make a dog's life easier.  But, there is no real cure for it either.  Surgery is a possibility.  So, I'm going to start saving up my money. Having Ralph put down is not even going to be part of the discussion in regard to Ralph.  He is as good a friend as I have ever had and I mean that, sincerely.  Ralph was with me during the hell-fire of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.  He was with me during my gallbladder near death experience.  Ralph was with me during some of my darkest days the past 7 years.  So, no, you don't put to death a friend just because he is ill.  You do all you can to make his life easier.  That's exactly what I'm going to do in regard to Ralph.  He is truly, my best friend.


The Thankful Squirrel

As you can see, I have a squirrel feeder (you can click on the image to expand it) attached to my backyard fence.  Now, not many people have anything to do with squirrels. I feel sorry for them.  Yes, I do know they are rodents.  During the winter months, they do have an exceedingly tough time finding food to eat.  Finding food is an around the clock struggle for squirrels.  I have used unsalted and salted raw peanuts for food, as well as corn and sunflower seeds.  The squirrels seem to have a special affinity for the salted raw peanuts.  I've been doing this since about October of last year or when the weather started taking a dip at night.  It took until about the middle of December before the squirrels started actively coming to the feeder to partake of the food there for them.  They go through that glass jar of peanuts in about a day and a half.  That is a one gallon glass jar you see above right.  The corn takes about 4 or 5 days to finish off.  The squirrels don't eat all of the kernels of corn.  They extract what is in the kernel and discard the husk.  But, the husk is not left to waste.  Birds all over the neighborhood come and eat the corn husks left by the squirrels.  So, everything placed in that glass jar is eaten.  The sunflower seeds are the last to go.  Those seeds seem to be at the bottom of the squirrel diet.

I have taken to naming the squirrels.  There is one (in fact he is the one who first came to the feeder) big squirrel I have named "Bobby."  He seems to be the dominant squirrel because when he is there, all the other squirrels stay in the trees or on the fence far away.  But, there is one little squirrel, one probably smaller than all the rest, who has really gotten my attention.  One day last week, I let the glass jar go completely empty.  I wanted them to finish off the sunflower seeds.  I looked at the jar and noticed the small squirrel (who I have named Joey) staring at the back door.  He looked right at me or it seemed that way.  Well, I figured Joey wanted some food before Bobby showed up.  So, I brought some corn and peanuts to place in the glass jar.  Joey ran off to the very back part of the fence.  He waited for me to finish.  After placing the glass jar back in the retainer, Joey came back within a minute.  He indulged himself.  After about 15 minutes, something made me look out the back door again.  It was Joey right at the back door.  He had a leaf in his mouth, dropped it, looked at me and then took off.  Long story short, there have been numerous leaves left right at my back door since that day I put food back in the glass jar for Joey.  I carefully pick them up and place them in a indoors plant I have.

Is "Joey" showing gratitude to me by leaving those leaves as appreciation?  One can only guess.  I like to think he is expressing his appreciation to me in the only way he can.  That's what I'm going with as I continue to leave Joey and the rest of the gang food over the harsh winter months.


Tax Season

The season that the vast majority hates is upon us.  It is none other than the dreaded "Tax Season."  Unlike Christmas, this season is not of good cheer.  I had to pay this year for the first time in several years.  One thing I have never understood are the number of people who are eager about a "refund."  It is not a refund in actuality.  It is Uncle Sam taking more of your money than he should have.  He doesn't give you any interest on it either.  But, if you short change him, you better get ready to fork over the money you owe plus interest.  I have never thought that was fair for some reason. So, when you get that refund, just remember that is YOUR money that Uncle Sam used, free of charge.  It doesn't sound so good now, does it?  Many people say that April 15th is like Christmas to liberals.  That may or may not be true.  Not to start a political argument, but it does seem those on the left seem giddy this time of year.  Taking money from those that work or have worked and retired doesn't seem particularly fair to me.  But, that's just me, I suppose.

I wish we could just have a flat tax someday.  I know there are those who say it would be inherently unfair for those at the poverty level.  Why not drop the flat tax rate even further for those at the poverty level?  A flat tax is not rocket science.  Tax those at a certain salary cap at 20-25%.  Those at or below the poverty level at 10-15%.  That would be even more than fair in my not so humble opinion.  It would eliminate the IRS.  This is the most feared federal agency of them all.  They have destroyed lives with their arbitrary behavior toward taxpayers.  They have been used by a U.S. President as a weapon against his enemies.  The IRS needs to be abolished.  Back to the subject...it is still early in the tax season.  There are many types of software (many of them free and will send your tax forms for free over the internet).  H&R Block is one that many people use.  But, the best I've seen by far is TuboTax. Best of all, if you fall within a certain category, you get to use TurboTax Online for FREE.  I highly recommend using them.  So simple even an old codger like me can use it. Unhappy Tax Season, folks!


The Dog Days of Winter

Yes, you read that correctly.  The dog days of winter, instead of the dog days of summer.  The dog days of summer refer to the hottest days of the season as in July and August.  In the winter months, it is January and February in my neck of the woods.  On the gulf coast, it is usually January and February as the coldest months.  The first two weeks in March are cold here.  But, nothing like it is up north in Michigan, New York etc.  I don't envy you nice folks up there.  I don't know how you can endure months of cold weather and snow.  I suppose it all depends on what you are accustomed to in your life.  In my area, on the gulf coast, we usually have about six to eight weeks of what one could say is cold weather.  Right now, we are enduring cold weather during the day (which is not normal for us) and at night.  It is also raining quite a bit this time of year.  Once the rain stops, that means more cold weather.  The wind has been blowing more than usual this year as well.  I'm sure there is an explanation for that somewhere.  That just compounds the discomfort of cold weather.  Wind chill factors have been lower than expected this year as well.

So, as I sit at my desk typing away on a Thursday night, I look at the rain pouring down on the squirrel feeder.  My little friend, Bobby the Squirrel, must be all snug in his nest tonight or, at least, I hope he is.  It's too cold for him to even come out and get a peanut or kernel of corn I have in the feeder.  I don't blame him.  It's nights like this that make me glad I don't have to work any longer.  I have worked in nights like this before.  It is not any fun.  With that thought in mind, I'll just throw another long onto the fire so my beagle, Ralph, doesn't get cold tonight.


Blog Update for February 2015

Well....obviously, I forgot to do a blog update for January.  So, I will combine two months into this one.  I have only about two more blog updates to do.  After that, there will be no more as I will be leaving this blog in the hands of staff and editors on David's Musings. I'm moving over to The Retired Baby Boomer full-time.  I have hired two part-time staff writers there who are handling things now.  But, I will be doing most of the writing on TRBB.  As for this blog...well, things are winding down.  There have been two more paranormal stories published by different authors since my last blog update in December.  The one published the day after Christmas, Dreams of Terror, has been nothing less than phenomenal in the number of hits thus far.  As of this writing, there has been just over 7500 hits on that one story by Montel Kashirea.  It is one of the more fascinating stories in this series on the topic of the paranormal/supernatural.  The other story, published just last Friday (January 30, 2015), is titled, Warnings from the Grave, by Sarah Pulenski.  Thus far, it has proven to be a bit of a disappointment in the number of hits.  This is a simply awesome story.  I don't understand why people are not flocking to it in huge numbers as they did in Dreams of Terror.  It's the kind of story that makes you stay awake at night.  I urge you to read this story if you are a fan of the paranormal topic.

You can expect more anecdotal stories about this blog as we head to the finish line for this old blog.  One of the things I will have to give an update on soon is my old 1995 Nissan truck.  I thought I had cured that head gasket leak with something called Steel Seal.  It doesn't seem to be doing the trick unfortunately.  You can also expect another chapter from the "Family Album" series that I recently started back up.  It seems to be popular.  Don't ask me why I quit on that series.  Also, if you are a long time reader of this blog, but have never made a comment, please comment to let me know your feelings about this blog ending officially in April if you are so inclined.  If you have not subscribed to my new retirement blog, please consider doing so now.  Things are really picking up over there.  Until next month's final update, stay safe, and stay well.

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