Category Archives: Florida

Issue 358 – Catching Up

The Paregien Journal    –   A Periodic Publication    –    Issue 358   –   July 29, 2017

Catching Up

In my last post, some 16 days ago, I mentioned that I hoped to get on a more regular posting schedule. My intent was to published each and Thursday. Obviously, that didn’t happen and I don’t expect it to happen in the future. 

You see, friends, shortly after that I saw my doctor for my regular 6-month check-up. I was shocked out of my Justin boots by his diagnosis. Full-blown diabetes and a low-functioning thyroid. He told me to change my diet and to lose at least 20 pounds in the next three months. Then I might make it without going on a diabetic routine of meds. He did put me on a pill for the low-thyroid functioning problem. I have noticed that for the last three months or more I just did not have much energy. Low-thyroid will do that. So I started this med and it has knocked me for a loop: a headache for several hours each and every day; frequent nausea; inability to sleep from early morning to 11 pm or so (I had loved my afternoon naps); and no decreasing of my fatigue. After two weeks, those three of those four side-effects have faded. I’m still waiting for it to give me more energy.

Anyway, now you know . . . the rest of the story.  I have sub-titled this blog as “A Periodic Publication.” And that’s about the best I can do for the foreseeable future. Thanks for your understanding. 

A Birthday Bash

We’re having another birthday party for a local celebrity here in Bradenton, Florida. It will happen on Saturday, July 20th. He is a very popular guy and lots of folks come from far and near to take photos of him. That “him” is none other than ol’ Snooty, who was born on July 21, 1948, back when Harry (“Give ‘Em Hell”) Truman was sitting in the White House as President of the U.S.A. He’s not as old as I am, of course, but he is now ancient compared to his peers.

Okay, I’ll tell you . . . the rest of the story. Snooty is a manatee who has lived in a manatee-sized pool in the South Florida Museum for a long, long time. He was born in the Miami Aquarium down south, but packed up his bags and more here at the age of one. The manatees who live wild along Florida’s shores are odd-looking creatures. In the wild, they seldom if ever live beyond their 20’s. Fast-moving boats kill or badly injure many of these gentle giants each year. 

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Oh, did you know that Bradenton is a city in “Manatee” County? Yep, and the first community was called Manatee but was swallowed up by a faster growing upstart. And our town sits on the south bank of “Manatee” River.” There are lots of those Manatee around, though I have yet to see one in the wild.

Anyway, happy birthday to you Snooty. 

UPDATE:

Unbelievably, Snooty the Manatee died one day after his 69th birthday party. That was on Sunday, July 23, 2017. Officials reported that somehow an access panel door to his pool or aquarium had somehow been knocked loose. The huge, gentle creature was able to go underwater and swim into the small enclosure. When he did not have room to turn around and reach air, again, he drowned. It is quite a tragedy for our community. And those who literally grew up seeing and enjoying Snooty a few times each year were especially saddened.

*****

I am certainly sad to learn that Arizona’s Senator John McCain has been diagnosed with a very aggressive kind of brain tumor called glioblastoma. I have great respect for Senator McCain, though I think he should have retired a few years ago. He spent five years as a prisoner of war in Vietnam, and he was severely tortured — physically and psychologically — by the Communists during that time. In my book he is a true American hero and a fine gentleman. We hope and pray for his recovery.

*****

I see in “Today’s Birthdays” for July 20th that novelist Cormac McCarthy is now 84. His first novel, The Orchard Keeper, was published in 1965. You probably know him for his 2005 novel, No Country for Old Men, which was adapted into an award-winning film by Joel and Ethan Coen. The movie starred Tommy Lee Jones and one of the supporting cast was a gent we have met a few times at cowboy events, actor Barry Corbin. In 2006, his novel The Road, won a Pulitzer Prize for Literature. And also in 2006 he finished writing a play, “The Sunset Limited.” That was made into an HBO film starring  Samuel L. Jackson and Tommy Lee Jones (directed by Jones).

In the birthdays for July 29th I see the name of none other than Leonard Leroy “Buddy” Lee, born on this date in 1933 and celebrating his 84th year on Mother Earth. Okay, you probably know him better by his stage name, “Robert Fuller.” In 1952, barely out of his teens, he moved to Hollywood to try his luck at acting. He also attended actor Richard Boone’s acting school and started to get small parts.  In 1959, Fuller wanted to do Westerns and came in 2nd to Michael Landon for the role of “Little Joe” Cartwright of the Bonanza TV show.  But he kept auditioning and won a co-starring role of Jess Harper on the TV Western, Laramie. It ran from 1959 to 1963, and Fuller made lots of money and lots of contacts in the movie industry.

Fuller, Robert - on TV show Laramie -- 2

Fuller appeared in numerous TV Westerns and movies after that. However, his next really successful and lucrative deal was a non-Western. Actor (remember “Dragnet”) and director Jack Webb pestered him until Fuller accepted a co-starring role in NBC’s “Emergency!,” a modern, fast-paced TV medical drama. He got the role of Dr. Kelly Brackett, Chief of Emergency Medicine at the fictitious Rampart General Hospital. And his co-star was the lovely, talented pop singer and actress Julie London, who was the ex-wife of director Jack Webb. She was Nurse Dixie McCall. That show ran for five years, from 1972 to 1977. Long retired, Robert Fuller lives in north Texas. 

2017--07--17 04 Stan Paregien Jr's new toy -- Jurassic Park jeep

2017--07--17 03 Stan Paregien Jr's new toy -- Jurassic Park jeep

This is the latest piece of business equipment (i.e., toy) purchased and painted and decaled by our son, Stan Paregien Jr. Are you ready for this? He also has an honest-to-Batman “batmobile” with a fake jet exhaust, a fully decorated “General Lee” as seen on Dukes of Hazard” TV show, an authentic DeLorean car with all of the “Back to the Future” gizmos inside and out a little VW all decked out as a Disney studio “love bug” with the number 53 on it. Yep. He is actually making a little money along the way by being paid by folks who want him to bring one of ’em to their corporate event, party, TV commercial and/or movie set. Not bad work if you can get it.

Well, folks, it is now 8:10 in the evening and I’ve been at this way too long. I had hoped to include more, but . . . I am plum tuckered out.

See ya next time.

— Stan

 

 

 

 

Issue 357 – We Enjoy Our Visitors

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The Paregien Journal   –   Issue 357   –   July 13, 2017

We Really Enjoy Our Visitors

During our marriage of 55+ years, Peggy and I have lived in several states and cities. I can safely say that none of them, except for our current home in Florida, has been known as a “tourist destination city.”  The region from Tampa, down through Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Bradenton, Sarasota, and Venice contains beautiful cities, beaches, museums and scores of other attractions. So hundreds of thousands of visitors flock here from all over the United States, Canada and Europe–especially during “the season” (November through April). 

Naturally, that old capitalism rule of “supply and demand” kicks in, with hotels raising their rates and still running at or near capacity, and restaurants hike their prices and still have waiting lines (even at . . . or maybe especially at . . . the “Early Bird Special” time of 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). And then there is the additional traffic, . . . but don’t get me started on that.

So we are fortunate and happy to have a few more friends and relatives who come to visit us for a day several days. We are always glad host them and get caught up on their lives and the lives of our mutual friends. And we try to guide them to the best attractions in the area.

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Martha and Darrell Russell are very special friends of ours and have been for many years. We all met when Peggy and Martha each worked in the Southwest Airlines Reservation Center north of the airport in Oklahoma City. For several years, Peggy and Martha shared rides back and forth to work from our respective homes about 25 miles from the airport (in Edmond, Okla.). Then when we decided to move to Florida in June of 2013, these two generous souls volunteered to make the trip with us. In fact, Darrell had driven business-sized trucks for years and he accepted the role of chief driver of our rental truck. Martha and Peggy drove our van. 

Then a couple of years later they retired, sold their house, bought a Recreational Vehicle and started roaming all over the U.S. Then their daughter and son-in-law got transferred to Jupiter (over on Florida’s east coast; also where the aging movie star Burt Reynolds still lives) and they started living with there when not RV-ing. And just a few weeks ago, the whole crew moved to new digs up in Social Circle, Georgia. Google that town and scroll out and look at how the town is platted — in a doggone circle. Pretty strange.

Anyway, I think you catch my drift that we very much appreciate and love these two wonderful folks.

And, speaking of wonderful folks, . . . that leads us to James and Glenda Cotton of Edmond, Okla. 

2017--03--05 01A Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

We first met James and Glenda Cotton (of Marshall, Okla.) in a congregation in Oklahoma City where we were all attending. Since then, they have moved from her family farm to just on the far north side of Oklahoma City. We all four laugh all the time about how we were mismatched somewhere back in time, as Peggy and James share a great passion for searching for seashells and tinkering with stuff while Glenda and I are happy to watch the sunsets and read books. Last year Peggy and I rode with them from Edmond all the way through Texas and New Mexico up to Westcliffe, Colorado . . . to a friend’s cabin . . . and then took the long way home. Quite an adventure. And quite fantastic friends.

2017--03--26 02 Brian, Ruth, Muriel, Peg - Venice, FL - by Stan Paregien

Two of our newer retired friends who live in Venice are Dr. Brian and Ruth Smith, R.N. Before they were married, they each independently went to separate medical missions in Africa. A series of twists and turns took place, finally causing them to meet and to get married. They spent the last 20 years of their careers working in McAllen, Texas, moving to Venice in late 2015 or so for his health.

The photo above shows them with my cousin/brother Jerry Paregien (blue shirt) and his wife Muriel and with Peggy.  Both Jerry and I grew up a few miles apart in the wilds of Ventura County (just north of Malibu, etc.). He graduated (as did Peggy) from Ventura High School, while I graduated from Fillmore High School.  I had one sister, Roberta (“Berta”), but nary a single brother. Jerry has certainly filled that slot for me over the years, so I love him as my substitute physical brother and as my brother in Christ. It just doesn’t get much closer than that. 

Muriel and Peggy just seemed to hit it off from the first time they met. For one thing, they are both “P.K.’s.” Now those of you insiders in church circles know what that means. Each of them was a “preacher’s kid.” Muriel’s father, Dale Knowles, preached for ultra-conservative independent Christian Churches (and her brother, Victor Knowles, is a preacher and the long-time editor of ONE BODY, a magazine advocating Christian unity).  Peggy’s father, W.W. (“Woody”) Allen, preached for ultra-conservative Churches of Christ, mainly in Nebraska and in Ventura, Calif. But Muriel and Peggy share so many other interests that their relationship is very similar to that which Jerry and I have. 

2017--06--01 02 - Woody, Lisa, Ella King - Bradenton, FL - by Stan Paregien

Woody King is a son of Paula King and the late Bill King, making him a nephew to Peggy and to me. Woody’s parents farmed in Arizona and Texas, then moved to California and soon to Oklahoma’s oil patch(s), and in his adult life out to Portland, Oregon. Lisa’s parents live in Sarasota and it was Woody and Lisa’s wedding on beautiful Siesta Beach — attended by Peggy — that was a major influence in our moving to Florida. They have the one daughter, cute and smart little Ella. They work together as independent entrepreneurs.

Hey, here is a “blast from the past.”  This photo of Woody and others was taken at our little 10-acre “farm” northwest of Stroud, Okla., in 1981. I added the captions, of course.

1981--048--B---Woody-Gene-Evelyn-Chester-Jeff---StroudOK

That is my mom and step-father in back, and Woody’s younger brother Jeff at right.

2017--06--15 12 - Sarasota, FL - luncheon cruises - by Stan Paregien

Luncheon cruise on Sarasota Bay in mid-June, 2017

This photo is of Stan and Peggy Paregien with their one and only daughter, Mrs. John (Stacy Evelyn Paregien) Magness. Stacy (cook in a nursing home) and John (foreman for a company in the oil field service business) and their adult daughter Christal live in tiny Snook, Texas just west of Bryan/College Station (think “Texas A&M”).  They have lived in Texas all of their married lives. This was Stacy’s first trip to Florida. We hope someday, since her husband John refuses to fly at all, to hog-tie him and load him on a plane and get him here, too. Stacy, by the way, is our greatly loved “chosen child,” as we adopted her in Oklahoma when she was two years old. Their older child, Dylan, works with his father and lives in College Station with his girlfriend. Their first baby is a beautiful girl named Presleigh.

That is Stacy’s picture on the left, at about the same age as Presleigh.

The note in my newspaper for July 7th’s “Birthdays” included the one and only . . . Doc Sevrinsen. Okay, if you’re under 40 years of age you have probably never heard of him. But ol’ Doc, whose real name was Carl, turned 90 this year. He was the band leader during most of the years that Johnny Carson hosted “The Tonight Show” on TV. At one time he owned a horse ranch in Purcell, Oklahoma (which likes to call itself “The Quarter Horse Capital of the World”). He lives up in Webbed Foot Country (i.e., Oregon), and he still performs once in a while. He was especially noted for his wacky stage outfits and for his kinda “wacked out” stage persona, which I don’t know was for real or just an act. He was different, though.

Severinsen, Doc -- about 2016 -- trumpet player and band leader on NBC

Oh, and on July 7, 1954, that nobody truck driver from Tupelo, Mississippi actually conned some D.J. at WHBQ in Memphis to play his first record, “That’s All Right,” for the very first time. And the song was a heck of a lot more than “All Right.” Neither Sun Records nor the world of music would be the same for very long after that. I remember that this “rock ‘n roller” (or hillbilly rocker) in about 1955, when I was a student at Roosevelt Junior High School in Tulsa, came to town for a show. The place was mobbed. And the newspaper the next day on their front page had a photo of two or three of my female classmates trying to climb into Elvis Presley’s dressing room from a window on the outside wall. Ah, yes, the good ol’ days.

Presley, Elvis -- with his guitar in about 1955 - it is a 1955 Martin D-28 guitar

We had been giving some serious thought and discussion about flying to Japan to see that nation and to spent some time with our daughter-in-law Becky Paregien’s brother and sister-in-law, Mike and Tomoko McClain in the Hitachi coastal area north-east of Tokyo. . . .  . . Then, one of our Rwandan friends invited us to his wedding in September there in Rwanda, Africa. So we (mainly Peggy) shifted gears and started researching that trip, instead. The Rwanda trip was just too cost-prohibitive. So we (mainly Peggy) turned our attention back to that possible trip to Japan. After visiting with a travel agent, we decided the possible Japan trip was impossible for us. And for the same reasons:  $$$$$

So we have regrouped and are thinking of going two places instead of one: Paris and Rome.

Doesn’t that sound just wonderful?

Well, don’t get too excited. We’re talking (mostly joking) about driving to both Paris, Tennessee and Rome, Georgia. It would give us some bragging rights, if we just left off the state names. Then on second thought, . . . naw. Back to the drawing board.

Hey, we have a heck of a lot of fun with all of the folks here in our 55+ gated MHP, including such folks as long-time resident Pat Goeller. Read the sign on her shirt.

 

2017--04--11 01 Bradenton, FL - Pat Goeller - by S Paregien

Well, friends and neighbors, that’s it for this time. Thanks for stopping by and “Y’all come, ya hear?”

— Stan Paregien

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Issue 356 – Joy of Aging & Other Lies

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The Paregien Journal  –  www.paregien.com  –  Issue 356  –  July 6, 2017

The Joy of Aging & Other Lies

Okay, buckeroos and buckerettes, make sure your butt is firmly planted on your saddle and your boots are in your stirrups, and your age-spotted hands and arthritic fingers have a firm grip on your horse’s reins. We are about to take a ride down memory lane.

Only this won’t be your Grandma’s memory lane about all the veggies she and Grandpa used to gather from their big garden out back and how she “canned ’em” (i.e., pressure cooked them and put  them in quart jars) and stacked in the basement to be enjoyed some cold day in January. It is not about Grandpa’s musings about how unusually large the fish were that he used to catch in just a few hours at the lake. Nope, none of that stuff.

This little essay is about the here and now, about what a short time it took we old geezers to get from wherever we neaked through high school to the place far away where we live and how things have changed 360 degrees from then to right now. 

So I’ll say like they do on cable TV just before reporting on some awful story, “A fair warning. The content of this next report might be upsetting to some.” Yeah, right. Like to 99.9 percent of people with at least half-way functioning brain matter.

Let’s start with this little book:

1,003 Great Things About Getting Older

Birnbach, Lisa et al - 1,003 Great Things About Getting Older -- 1997 by MJF Books -- front cover

My wife Peggy, otherwise known as the World’s Greatest Optimist (aka “sweet thing”) gave me this little book a while back. I thought it was a joke book. You know, it says “1,003 Great Things About Getting Older” but you open it up and the pages are blank. Sorta like that one “Everything Your Daddy Told You About Women But You Forgot.” But, no, this one actually has pages filled with stuff.

Lisa Birnbach, Ann Hodgman, Patricia Mars and David Owen had their fingers in the pie when it came to compiling these gems of politically correct wisdom. So here are a few sayings to help you get through your first cup of coffee. My comments are in the brackets.

**** It doesn’t take so long for summer to come again. [Not a good thing here in Florida — SP]

****  You’ve paid off your student loans [unless you’re a doctor or a lawyer — SP]

****  You receive mail every day, even if it’s only catalogs and bills. [Yeah, and most of the catalogs are from nursing homes and hearing aide companies. — SP]

****  Your arthritis makes you less likely to lose your wedding ring. [Wrong. I lost mine while frolicking at the beach. “Flrolicking” at my age means wading knee-deep in the water when it is still cool (70’s) to avoid shock to the part of my anatomy which actually probably needss shock treatment — SP]

****  All moral issues are conveniently black and white. [Right. Except those which are not — SP]

****  Weekends suddenly have meaning. [Hey, weekends slip in and out like a thief in the night. I stopped wearing a wristwatch when I retired. Now that we’ve been retired in Florida for four years, I’m also gonna give up my calendar — SP]

****  Dental implants let you eat corn on the cob, again. [Thanks, but I was robbed by my last two dentists. So I’ll just sip soup through a straw. — SP]

****  By age 74, refilling the bird feeder is a good morning’s work. [That or changing a flat bicycle tire. — SP]

****  By age 88 you can still identify half the people in your photo albums. [Ah, ha. Got you there. I have converted most all of our photos to digital images, complete with the names and locations of the subjects. That is what has kept me out of the pool halls most of my life. And most of ’em — well over 13,000 — are stored not only on my computer but also online on my FLICKR account which has 1 Terrabyte of storage — SP]

****  By age 100, all your enemies are dead.

****  A  little sex goes a long way. [Darn it, speak up. Your little grandson Rex does what? — SP]

****  People get out of your way when you drive down the street. [Only the smart ones. — SP]

Men Will Understand This One

All Too Well

 

Medical - prostate_exam_ 04sign_100dpi

My cousin Jerry R. Paregien is my favorite patriot-in-exile from California. He and his wife have lived about 20 years now on a mountain outside of Kingsport, Tennessee. From their back balcony, they can look across a wide valley and see the beautiful Clinch Mountains of Virginia on the horizon to the north.

Like Steve Martin, Jerry is a wild and crazy guy. Though he is showing early signs of  . . .  eh, . . . dement- . . . eh, . . .  Alzhei . . . something or other, Why, that Prune Picker still remembers every joke he ever heard and delivers each punch like with vim and vigor. Actually, I don’t know whether he remembers any of those “farmer’s daughter and the salesman” jokes from our teenage years, but if he does he ain’t admitting to it.

Boys, now what I’m about to tell you is the gospel truth. ‘Cause I heard it directly from my ‘Cuz. And pert near everything he tells me is resonably precise. 

Medical - prostate exam -- 03 - doctor smiling

Jerry told me that a couple of years or so ago, his appointment with his doctor for his annual physical rolled around. When they called his name from the cattle corral (waiting room), one of their nurses took him aside and took his weight and vital signs (yes, he still has some). And she escorted him to the Great Waiting Room down the hall where he twittled his thumbs for 15 or 20 minutes.

Finally, the doctor came in and they exchanged pleasantries. The doc checked his chart and his medications and declared him not-exactly-brain-dead. Said he seemed to be in mite near perfect condition for an old man with not long to live on Mother Earth. 

Then the doc began to stammer and stutter and finally got out these dreaded few words that send a chill up the spine of any red-blooded American male. He said, “Well, Jerry, stand up, turn around  and drop your pants and BVD’s to your knees. Time for me to check where the sun don’t shine.”

Medical -- prostate exam -- DR - 'I don't enjoy them either'

Jerry turned his head around, as much as his arthritis would allow, and looked his doc in the face and said in his professional, deadpan comedian way: “Well, Dr. Jones, I should darn well hope you’re going to check my prostate. I didn’t wash my butt today, like this, for just anybody.”

When the doctor finally quit laughing, and after visiting that Dark Domain, he said to my ‘Cus: “Jerry, for years now I have kept a log of funny things that my clients say to me. You will be pleased to know that your comments will go down in history.”

Medical - prostate exam -- 02 - using a baseball glove

NOTE: The above cartoon is especially for my two old friends, Bob L’Huillier (Bradenton, FL) and Victor Knowles (Joplin, MO), who are devoted baseball fans. 

Carter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 01 - front coverCarter, Jimmy -- The Virtues of Aging -- 1998 - NY Ballentine Publishing - page 02 - back cover

Now surely all of you, well maybe not you young ‘un’s under 50 or so, remember ol’ Jimmy Carter, long-time peanut farmer from Plains, Georgia. He was born there on Oct. 1, 1924.

Now my Grandpa Paregien was a “yellow-dog” Democrat until his dying breath. Somehow I went down the Republican path. But I came through the wringer of the Hippie Years and the Anti-Vietnam War Years. So I did my own thing and I castigated my first vote for a Democrat when I voted for Jimmy Carter. I mean, gee whiz, after all the duds we’d had before, I felt we just couldn’t go wrong voting for a certified man of the soil, a tried and true peanut farmer. After all, a distant relative of mine — Johnny Walters of Wapanucka, Oklahoma–was “Peanut Farmer of the Year” one time in Johnston County.

Well, I’d admit I was wrong about that premise and have made two or maybe three fair-to-middlin’ mistakes since then. But how the heck was I to know that he was also an expert on atomic submarines and other useless stuff like that. Ignorance is often bliss, and I was in la-la-land that day I voted for Mr. Carter.

Shootfire, ol’ Jimmy was a sure ’nuff nice guy. He even taught a Sunday morning Bible class almost everywhere in the world he happened to be, and still teaches his “Adults 101” Bible Class today in Plains (they call it 101 because that’s about the average age of the class members). But even nice guys don’t necessarily make good presidents. Of course, comparing him to Donald J. Trump today I have to say that ol’ peanut farmer looks better and better.

Do you remember Jimmy Carter’s dear, free-spirited momma? Lillian Gordy Carter often shot from her lip, saying just whatever she wanted to say whether it was approved by the Southern Baptist Convention or by the Geneva Convention either one. She was a corker to be sure. And then there was Jimmy’s junior brother, good ol’ Bubba — no, wait a minute, it was Billy. Billy Carter, whose only claim to fame was getting his name on some beer cans — “Billy Beer.” They didn’t serve it in finer restaurants back then, but you might have been able to get one out in Luckenbach, Texas.

But I digress, as I’m prone to do.

Here are some of President Carter’s words of wisdom about the virtues of growing old. He is still a Card-Carrying Baptist so I hope the Lord will excuse him for stretching-the-blanket a bit” (as the old-time cowboys used to refer to any cowpoke who stretched the truth). Keep in mind this remarks are from his 1998 book, noted above.

“Even before leaving the White House, Rosalynn and I received a notice from the American Association of Retired Persons that we were qualified for membership, but we considered ourselves too young to face the stigma of senior citizenship. However, once back in Plains [Georgia, population 700 — SP] the point was to be driven home most firmly and clearly.

“We live 120 miles south of Atlanta and habitually drive back and forth toThe Carter Center and to Emory University, where I am a professor. One morning we left our house quite early and stopped to eat breakfast in Thomaston, Georgia, about halfway to Atlanta. There were four of us in the car, and we all ordered about the same thing. But when the waitress brought my bill, I noticed that it was less than the others. Perhaps seeking credit for being an honest customer, I called her back and began to tell her that she had made a mistake. An older farmer, dressed in overalls, was sitting at a nearby table and apparently overheard my conversation. He looked over at us and called out in a loud voice, ‘Your bill ain’t no mistake, Mr. President. Before eight o’clock they give free coffee to senior citizens.’

“A wave of laught began at our table, and it still resonated through the restaurant as I paid my bill and hurried back to the car. For several weeks afterward, every time we approached Thomaston I knew that someone would say, ‘Why don’t we stop here for breakfast? There’s free coffee for some of us!'” (pp. ix-x).

When Jimmy Carter was voted out of the Presidency, he and his wife found that their “Blind Trust Fund” had been badly managed and their home and farm in Plains were deeply in debt, too.  And then they faced another issue, as he tells it:

“There were other reasons as well why moving from Washington back to our home in Plains was not a pleasant experience. It was not easy to forget about the past, overcome our fear of the future, and concentrate on the present. In this small and tranquil place, it was naturual for us to assume–kike other retirees–that our productive lives were about over. Like many other involuntary retirees, we had to overcome our distress and make the best of the situation.

“When one of our friends pointed out that more than a third of American men in my age troup were retired, and that we could expect to live until we were eighty years old, I had one disturbing reaction: What was I going to do with the next twenty-five yeears?” ( pp. 2-3)

“. . . as we entered our seventies there was another potential threat to our happiness: the forced realization that both of us fit almost any definition of ‘old age.’ I guess it is unpleasant for any of us to face our inevitale gray or thinning hair and the tendency for our waistline to spread, especially when advancing years correspond to a reduced income. This brings a challenging but inevitable transition in our lives — from what we have been to a new type of existence as ‘senior citizens.'” (p. 8)

“So then, when are we old? The corrrect answer is that each of us is old when we think we are — when we accept an attitude of dormancy, dependence on others, a substantial limitation on our physical and mental activity, and restrictions on the number of other people with whom we interact. As I know from experience, this is not tied very closely to how many years we’ve lived.” ( p. 11)

“Driving on the interstate highway in Atlanta to go to The Carter Center, for several months we regularly passed a large billboard advertising country music. The sign said, ‘My wife ran off with my best friend, and I miss him.’ This doesn’t apply to us [i.e., he and Rosalynn]. We seem to be bound together with ever-increasing bonds as we’ve grown older and need each other more. When we are apart for just a day or so, I have the same hollow feeling of loneliness and unassuaged desire as when I was away at sea for a week or more during the first years of our marriage.” ( p. 39)

We’ll share more from this book in a future issue of THE PAREGIEN JOURNAL.

****

Well, here it is — another 4th of July. 

I’m sitting here looking at the “celebrity” birthdays for July 4th and, shazam, I do know more than a couple. Those include . . .  Eva Marie Saint (actress, 93), . . .  Gina Lollobrigida, atress, 90; as an early teen . . . or maybe a pre-teen, I fell in love with that beautiful lady on the flying trapeze in the movie starring she and Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster, a for-real former circus trapeze star) . . . Neil Simon (90, playwright) . . . and that’s as “young” as I can recognize on the list. Of course, that doggone lists includes somebody named Malia Obama, age 19. Oh, wait a minute, I remember. Nah, never mind.

Then there was this historical oddity under “Today In History,” where on July 4, 1826 — exactly 50 years after the Declaration of Independence was adopted — two of our nation’s former presidents died, that being John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

Finally, on July 4, Charles Kuralt died in New York at the age of 62. You remember Charles Kuralt, don’t you? He was the CBS reporter who, with only his TV camerman/soundman as a companion, traveled the backroads of the United States. He was born Sept. 10, 1934 and died on July 4, 1997.

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“On the Road” was one of the most popular TV programs–actually, filler spots in the CBS news–that CBS had at the time. He always seemed so doggoned friendly, with a lot of homegrown wisdom, and he could sniff out a seemingly insignificant story and make it a masterpiece. Here are a few of his quotes:

The love of family and the admiration of friends is much more important than wealth and privilege.

 Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.
The everyday kindness of the back roads more than makes up for the acts of greed in the headlines.

 

I recall, in particular, one time he and his cameraman were rolling down a back road in Tennessee or Kentucky . . . and Charles notes a bunch of clothes hanging out back of an old farm house (very few of those new-fangled “clothes dryers” out in the country). So he stopped and visited with the lady and her family and wound up with a very informative and enjoyable six minutes of film. He never won a Pulitzer Prize, but he was one heck of a fine reporter. We still miss you, Mr. Kuralt.

*****

Wise Words for the Young and the Old

From a Member of the Royal Family

 

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.

Charity yields high returns.

 Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.

Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

 

When the clouds are full of water, it rains.

When the wind blows down a tree, it lies where it falls.

Don’t sit there watching the wind. Do your own work.

Don’t stare at the clouds. Get on with your life.

 

Just as you’ll never understand  the mystery of life

forming in pregnant woman,

So you’ll never understand the mystery at work

in all that God does.

 

Go to work in the morning

and stick to it until evening without watching the clock.

You never know from moment to moment

how your work will turn out in the end.

Beauty in a sunny day - Ecclesiastes 11  

 Oh, how sweet the light of day,

And how wonderful to live in the sunshine!

Even if you live a long time, don’t take a single day for granted.

Take delight in each light-filled hour,

Remembering that there will also be many dark days

And that most of what comes your way is smoke.

 

 

You who are young, make the most of your youth..

Relish your youthful vigor.

Follow the impulses of your heart.

If something looks good to you, pursue it.

But know also that not just anything goes;

You have to answer to God for every last bit of it.

 

Live footloose and fancy-free  —

You won’t be young forever.

Youth lasts about as long as smoke.

 

Honor and enjoy your Creator while you’re still young,

Before the years take their toll and your vigor wanes,

Before your vision dims and the world blurs

And the winter years keep you close to the fire.

 

In old age, your body no longer serves you so well.

Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen.

The shades are pulled down on the world.

You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt.

The hum of the household fades away.

You are wakened now by bird-song.

 

 Aging -- Man - very old with white hair and beard -- 05-A copyrighted by Antonio Silvas

 

Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past.

Even a stroll down the road has its terrors.

Your hair turns apple-blossom white,

Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body.

Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest,

While your friends make plans for your funeral.

 

Life, lovely while it lasts, is soon over.

Life as we know it, precious and beautiful, ends.

The body is put back in the same ground it came from.

The spirit returns to God, who first breathed it.

 

It’s all smoke, nothing but smoke.

The Quester says that everything’s smoke.

 

Besides being wise himself, the Quester also taught others

knowledge. He weighed, examined, and arranged many

proverbs. The Quester did his best to find the right words

and write the plain truth.

 

The words of the wise prod us to live well.

They’re like nails hammered home, holding life together.

They are given by God, the one Shepherd.

 

But regarding anything behind this, dear friend, go easy.

There’s no end to the publishing of books, and constant

study wears you out so you’re no good for anything else.

The last and final word is this:

 Fear God.

Do what he tells you.

 

And that’s it. Eventually God will bring everything

that we do out into the open and judge it according

to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil.

 Solomon -- a painting from the internet

                         Painting of Solomon

 

Ecclesiastes 11:1 to 12:14 ( The Message) by King

Solomon (aka “The Quester”).  He was a son of King David

of Israel and was appointed King himself at the age of 12.

He only lived 52 years, from 848 B.C. to 796 B.C.). His

major accomplishment was in completing the Jewish

Temple in Jerusalem. Well, that and finding out how to

keep his 300 wives and 700 concubines happy.

 

— See ya the next time. I’m trying to get back into the groove of posting every Thursday. Well, that’s my goal, anyway. — Stan

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Issue 355 – What Does July 4th Mean?

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paregienjournal.com     –     Issue 355     –     June 29, 2017

Well, home owners in Manatee County are doing quite well, thank you. In May of 2017, the median sales price for an existing single-family home stood at $299,000. Folks, that was a 53 percent increase from the end of 2012. Of course, don’t forget there was a big-time real estate “bust” here from 2008 until early 2012. 

****

There was a fine little story in our local paper this morning. Reporter James A. Jones, Jr., did a little feature on a former Manatee County school educator named Bill O’Brien. Bill spends a lot of his time bowling these days, just as he has for the last 76 years. Hey, if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’. Okay, technically like everyone else, I’m dying bit by bit. But I’m not lyin’. 

You see, Bill O’Brien is now 93 years old. He was first the principal of Prine Elementary, then of Pine View Elementary and then of Parrish Elementary School. A pretty darned good athlete himself in college, after World War II (he was wounded), 31 years ago he started presenting to Manatee County’s top cross country runners each year the “Bill O’Brien Trophy” and he is still doing it. Plus, he set up three endowed scholarship funds to help a few students each year. Bill is a pretty solid citizen, and I’d like to meet him one of these days.

****

Across the Manatee River in Palmetto, several remaining members of the Lincoln Memorial High School – Class of 1967 – met for their 50th reunion. What is really unusual about these people is they were about the last class to graduate from LMHS — an all-black school. There were 131 seniors in their class, but 42 have died. 

****

It has been quite a spell, but at 9:30 a.m. on  Thursday, June 22nd, I met friends Romolo (aka “Rom,” “Ron,” and “Youse guy”) Colella and Don (“The Poetry Machine”) Betts for a late breakfast at Leon’s House of Omelets in the shopping center just west of I-75 and on the south side of Highway 70 (53rd Avenue). We had some coffee and came up with solutions for most of the problems in the United States. Then after breakfast, we developed plans for solving Europe’s difficulties. Next time we’ll work on the energy crisis, I guess. Just routine stuff for old geezers. So if any of you want to join us, give me a call to make sure we’ll be there next time and not at our respective doctor appointments. Ah, yes, the “Golden Years of Life.” Between the three of us, we might have an ounce of gold and everybody is after it. Even if they have to pull it from our teeth.

****

Many may not be aware of the fact that the home headquarters and training center for Goodwill Industries is only a mile or so east of our hacienda. Those folks certainly do a lot of good for many disabled people, with training and jobs and such. Still, because the CEO at Goodwill makes a lot more money than the CEOs of any other similar charities, we prefer to make donations to the Salvation Army. And there are a couple of other Goodwill policies which bug me. They are skilled marketers, of course, taking donated items and marking them up as far as the market will allow. And around here they have donation centers about as common as McDonald’s.

In Manatee County and next-door Sarasota County they have established four stand-alone stores specializing in music and books, and these are very well-organized. But, simultaneously, they have junked the book departments in their regular stores. Once they, too, had books well-organized by topics. No more. In our regular stores, they are heaped together and making it a headache to wade through the mess. Oh, and one other thing I’ve noticed (which other thrift stores have started doing) is that on men’s shirts, for example, they still place price tags and sizes on the individual shirts . . . but then they throw them on the shirt racks with no size organization at all. I don’t get it, don’t like it and won’t shop at the regular stores for clothes or books. Very poor customer service, but easier for them, I guess. 

****

Our daughter, Mrs. John (Stacy) Magness, flew in from Houston on June 13th and left on June 20th. So we got to spend a lot of quality time with her. Of course, we had to work around those pesky afternoon thunderstorms and downpours virtually every day she was here. Still got to take her to both Manatee Beach (our preferred swimmin’ hole, with life guards and a cafe with mmmm, mmmm good pancakes each morning) and to Siesta Beach. Oh, and on her first afternoon, we took her to Clearwater Beach up in nearby Clearwater, Florida. So she got to see Florida’s most award-winning beaches. 

2017--06--13 03 - Clearwater, FL - Peggy and Stacy at CLEARWATER BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 03 - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH -Stacy P Magness by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 08B - Bradenton, FL - MANATEE BEACH - by Stan Paregien2017--06--14 10A - Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--14 10B - Bradenton, FL - Stan Paregien - by Stacy Magness

2017--06--14 11 - Bradenton, FL - Stacy P Magness - by Stan Paregien

2017--06--15 12 - Sarasota, FL - luncheon cruises - by Stan Paregien

We took a very nice luncheon cruise around Sarasota Bay one day. We got to see a couple of dolphin, plus many of the multi-million dollar mansions fronting the bay. 

2017--06--17 02 - Sarasota, FL - - Stacy P Magness

2017--06--17 04 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - panorama by S Magness

2017--06--17 07 - Sarasota, FL - - Ringling - Stacy Magness - by Peg Paregien

Peggy took Stacy down to the fabulous Ringling Mansion, Circus Museum and Art Museum in nearby Sarasota on June 17th. They spent the entire day there and had a great time. 

****

Surely this is not a sign of my memory failing or my advancing years, but . . . in the “Birthdays On This Date” section of our local rag for June 23rd I saw where Clarence Thomas– you know — a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Yep, I recognized him . . . but the long list of “younger” musicians, writers, singers, and actors meant nothing to me. Hmmm.

Rogers, Will and Wiley Post -- one of last photos before deaths on Aug 15, 1935

Will Rogers (top, left) & pilot Wiley Post

And in the longer “Today in History” column I only paid much attention to this note: “In 1931, aviators Wiley Post and Harold Gatty took off from New York on a round-the-world flight that lasted eight days and 15 hours.” Now Wiley Post, who had a wild hair or two as a teenager in Oklahoma, lost an eye when injured on an oil drilling rig in Oklahoma. So he used the insurance settlement to pay for flying lessons and with the rest he bought his very first airplane.

I read a fine biography of Post a few years back,and the author pointed out all of his successes in flying and in inventing high-altitude equipment for pilots. Because of his many ’round-the-world flights and publicity, it is true that when he and his close friend–movie and stage star Will Rogers–died in Alaska in a plane crash (flown by Post) on August 15, 1935, it was Wiley Post who was far better known outside of the United States. I have been to Rogers’ beautiful grave site and museum in Claremore, Oklahoma as well as to Post’s well-marked burial place in far north central Oklahoma City. Each man was exceptional in his own field of expertise.

****

“Paregien’s Bed & Breakfast & More” will be back in operation soon. We are expecting two of our Rwandan friends to visit us in early to mid-August. Then our son and his wife (Stan Jr. & Becky) and their son and his wife (Daniel and Leah) will be with us, from the St. Louis area, from about August 24th to Sept. 4th. We’re polishing up the horseshoe equipment and the shuffleboard stuff to keep them from getting bored here in Paradise.

****

Peggy and I watched another old movie the other night (the only kind our grandkids swear we watch, but there are a few things they don’t know). Anyway this U.S. Cavalry vs. Indians movie was titled “The Oregon Passage.” It was actually filmed in a forest over not far from Bend, Oregon. It was in color and starred a good-lookin’ dude named John Erickson, whom I had never seen before so I guess he went back to being a lifeguard or selling used cars. I noticed as they rolled the credits that the film script was actually based on a Western novel by someone we knew: Gordon D. Shirreffs.

I first met Gordon D. Shirreffs in about 1984, as I recall, at the annual convention of the members of the Western Writers of America. It was held that summer in Branson, Missouri and hosted by Jory Sherman and his wife, Charlotte. The first person I met as I entered the hotel lobby was one of my writing heroes, from the really old crowd, Thomas (“Tommy”) Thompson. He and I really hit it off, especially after we found out we had each known Harry Leichler (?), the grocer and honorary mayor of the little town of Piru, Calif., where I lived with my family my last three years of high school.

Anyway, over the next few years, we would get to visit with Gordon Shirreffs and his wife Alice, who were residents of Granada Hills, Calif. at the time. At least one day of each convention was taken up with a bus trip excursion somewhere not far away. Those were always great times to visit with big-league writing pros Like Tommy, Gordon and Jory, as well as other would-be-Louis-L’Amour like myself.  

Well, the host of Turner Classic Movies that night wrapped up the showing of the rather forgettable film with a funny story about Gordon Shirreffs. In 1957 he had written a Western novel titled “Rio Bravo.” John Wayne didn’t care much for the actual book, but he loved the title and wanted it for his next movie. So he and/or his Batjack production company paid Gordon some darned good money for the book, with the agreement that Gordon could sell the actual story to anybody else but not the title. So John Wayne got the title he wanted and Gordon got the money he wanted, . . . not once but twice, as the second buyer turned it into “The Oregon Passage.” And he would laugh as he told that true story and add, “That was by far the most money I ever earned for just selling two words (“Rio Bravo”). 

Gordon Shirreffs had been born in Chicago, Ill., on Jan. 15, 1914. His mother was a recent immigrant from Scotland, and he himself sometimes played in bagpipe bands in southern California. During his lifetime he wrote some 79 novels, much in the solid historical style of Louis L’Amour, and hundreds of short stores and a bunch of stories for comic book companies. He was still living in Granada Hills when he died on Feb. 9, 1996 at the age of 82.

2016--03--17 Food -- Florida -- The Recipe Box Eatery

Above is the business card for a really nice, fairly small “mom and pop” restaurant just north of the McDonald’s near 53rd Avenue East (Highway 70) and 33rd St. East. Give ’em a try.

We ran out of TV trays for everyone at our house the other night, but luckily we had a spare out in the shed. I think this guy is saying, “Very nice!” or something like that.

Senior Citizen TV Tray

 

A Crumbled Dream

by Gene Shelburne

Amarillo, Texas

Campbell, Alexander -- liknesses -- 04 at age 65

 

Does the name Alexander Campbell mean anything to you? If you grew up in any kind of Church of Christ or Christian Church, you need to know about him. He was the founder of our American denomination.

Let me confess that, although I did grow up in such a church, I knew little about the man until I was invited to join a host of church leaders at his home in Bethany, West Virginia—way back in 1966— to mark the one hundredth anniversary of Mr. Campbell’s death.

 During that memorable week I learned that Alexander Campbell did more than found churches. In the college he built, he educated the sons of U.S. presidents. Few people noticed when Campbell boosted American wool trade by importing new breeds of sheep. Nor were many folks impressed when he was elected to West Virginia’s legislature. But his star was slowly rising.

Even founding hundreds of congregations across our young, growing country didn’t catapult Campbell to fame. He became a household name after debating—while befriending—the famous atheist Robert Owen. At his prime, this school-founding, sheep-raising, church-planting country parson was invited to address the combined houses of the U.S. Congress. In many ways he had become the Billy Graham of his day.

During that 1966 gathering in Bethany, however, we also focused on the Civil War years right before Campbell’s death. The halls of Bethany College were quiet—almost deserted—while that brutal war was raging not far away. Most of the students were on the battle lines. Campbell’s heart was broken. His own family was split, with favorite nephews wearing uniforms both blue and gray. Still worse, from his view, Christian brothers from churches he had planted and nurtured now were slaughtering each other.

Civil War -- up-close fighting between Union and Rebel troops -- 02

The young nation that Campbell had mistaken for the eve of Christ’s thousand-year reign had morphed into a hell on earth. Campbell’s dream had become a nightmare.

As Will Durant would later write: “From barbarism to civilization requires a century; from civilization to barbarism needs but a day.” Campbell saw barbarism in his final days, and it made him mourn.

With July 4th just ahead, I rehearse this sad but true story to remind us that the peace and freedom and prosperity we cherish can dissolve over night into blood and hate and tears. It did once. It can again.

Logo for Gene Shelburne - 2017

July4th--05 Flag with 4th of July

Do your children and/or grandchildren understand this day?

Best wishes until next time,

Stan

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Issue 354: Manatee County, Florida

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The Paregien Journal     –     Issue 354     –     June 9, 2017

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Fun and Photos

Sometimes when Peggy and I have been on vacation or an extending trip, I will jokingly say to our neighbors when we return: “Where the heck have you been?” Usually, they are kinda taken back by the question and mentally calculate they haven’t been anywhere and then reply, “Me? Where the heck have you been?”

Fair question, since I have not posted here since . . . gulp, . . . March 17th. 

Actually, we have done a fair amount of traveling. That includes a 9-day trip to beautiful Costa Rica. And I have had a health issue or two that just flat made me feeling like doing nuttin’. So I did. And then there were countless hours that I spent wrapping up my most recent book. I really became a hermit in my man cave here at our house in order to get it done before our trip to Costa Rica. More about that project next time. All in all, the last three months have just been busy, busy, busy. And, darn, I’m supposed to be retired. I have resolved to take my foot off of the gas pedal and slow down some.

Okay, let me share with you the good news about my new eBook:

Manatee County, Florida:

Facts, Folks and Photos

 

Master Cover -- Manatee County, FL -- Stan Paregien 01 1,900 X 2,561 X 600 dpi

Hey, is that an attractive book cover or what? I really like it a bunch. Of course, I designed the basic layout, the print, etc., and the photo you see is one  I took at sunset at our nearby Coquina Beach west of Bradenton. Pardon my “fatherly” pride at my newest “baby” but ain’t she just plum purty?

As Elvis always said at the end of a song, “Thank you. Thank you very much.”

Here is the official synopsis of this eBook:

“It is an intriguing combination of one part travel guide for the beaches and other attractions in Manatee County, one part who’s who of today’s leaders and yesterday’s heroes and heroines, one part family photo album, and one part a history book containing over 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. It is written in a conversational style with touches of wit, wisdom, mystery and spice.  

“Chapter 1, “Manatee County Facts,”  is a quick chronological look at the main events which have happened in Manatee County since ol’ Juan Ponce de Leon set foot here in Paradise in 1513. There’ve been a heck of a lot of other footprints left in the sands of Manatee County since then, and this book notes many of them.

Chapter 2, “Manatee County Cities & Communities,” presents facts and information about Manatee County’s larger cities and the smaller communities as well. All of ’em are fine places, so Stan gives you the inside scoop behind the usual road signs and flashing neon lights. Real people live here and most all of them love it, except maybe for a few diehard sourpusses. You’ll find helpful lists of things you may need to find.

“Chapter 3, “Manatee County Folks,” is where you’ll want to spent a bunch of your time. There you’ll see photos and biographical sketches of hundreds of Manatee County people. Learn why the heck we do things like we do them (Hint: “Because that’s how grandma and grandpa used to do it.”) You’ll meet some of our wonderful pioneer families, a great many solid citizens, plus a lot of folks who work doggoned hard to make this County an even better place to live or to visit.

Chapter 4, “Manatee County Photo Gallery,” is a large and varied photo collection which is guaranteed to put a smile on your face, a bounce in your step and reduction of your acid reflux problem. Well, heck, two out of three hits is darned good in baseball. You’ll get a kick out of the these photos — new ones, old ones, funny ones, sad ones and all in between. 

“Chapter 5, “About the Author,”  contains Stan Paregien’s bio, plus a list of his more than a dozen other eBooks available online through your favorite retailer. 

“The last part, Chapter 6, is titled “Resources.” It contains an extended list of books and articles you can read, videos you can watch and websites you can visit to learn even more about Manatee County.”

Manatee County, Florida: Facts, Folks & Photos is available for downloading to your iPhone, iPad, your Mac or PC laptops or desktop computers and more. This large, photo-filled eBook retails for $9.99.

This book of mine really started back in 2011 or so when my wife Peggy and I were considering moving away from the all-too frequent tornados, ice storms and constant winds in our native state of Oklahoma. We began investigating retirement communities from Arizona to Florida. Most Oklahoma retirees in our income bracket elect to move to south Texas, southern Arizona or to New Mexico. But there were other options as well.
We bought travel books, studied scores of web sites and talked with friends and neighbors. We asked for and received countless colorful brochures from specific states and cities, along with buckets of brochures from realtors and Chamber of Commerce representatives. The more information we received, the more we leaned toward somewhere near the beaches of sunny Florida. So we began a large number of visits to this land of palm trees, beautiful beaches and tropical vegetation populated with many hundreds of 55+ retirement communities for active folks like us.
We would fly into Tampa, rent a car and stay in our niece’s unoccupied seasonal home just to the west in Largo. We used that as our base while we spent a week or so each time researching the pluses and minuses of various towns and retirement villages within them. We concentrated on the west coast of Florida, from Clearwater down to Venice. It was a challenge, to say the least, to find the kind of housing we really liked and to winnow that number down to a much smaller number we could realistically afford. After all that, we still had a staggering variety of choices.
Early in 2013, we made our choice. We found a comfortable, fully furnished manufactured home in a 55+ community of some 267 residences. There was a nice clubhouse and kitchen, a library, a work-out room, an inviting swimming pool and hot tub, the ever-popular shuffle board courts, horseshoe pits and more. Several friendly, welcoming residents eagerly told us about what life was really like there. So in June of 2013, we moved to Bradenton—the County Seat of historic and beautiful Manatee County. Our new adventure had begun.

Today — four years later — the adventure continues each day. Sometimes we get so busy in the golden years of our retirement that we have to hit the reset button, chill out and just bask in the sunshine and inhale the aromas of the year-around flowers and revisit the tropic-like Gulf waters and pristine white beaches.

I planned this book with these ideas in mind: (1) It should be written in a lively, easy-to-read style; (2) It should be an invaluable reference tool for full-time residents of Manatee County; (3) It should be an interesting and useful book for people visiting Florida—and particularly, Manatee County—for the first time; and (4) it should honestly point out the good, the bad and the ugly of Manatee County.

Mission accomplished.

Well, okay, that’s the firm opinion of one not-so-unbiased person. Me.
Critics are likely to say of this book either, “You sure put way too much stuff in there” or “You sure left out a lot of stuff that should have been in there.” My response to both criticisms is this: Yep, that’s right. I put in a lot and I left out a lot. The book is much larger than I intended at the start. And I never even dreamed I would end up with 450 photos and 470 biographical sketches. That’s a bunch, but I have double that material left untouched in the wings. So . . .

Personally, I have never read anything that even comes close to my book in terms of readability, comprehensiveness or usefulness. I’m pleased with it and eager to share it with others. And I hope you will be so doggoned pleased with your copy that you will buy others as Christmas or birthday gifts, or for friends or relatives who are thinking about moving or visiting here.

Hey, you may even want to send one to such a person “up north” when we’re sunbathing in 80 degree weather and up there they have snow a foot deep and the temperature is dipping toward zero. That should get their attention.

Also, just this week five more  of my eBooks were added to Amazon.com’s lineup of eBooks. Those five books are my two Western novels, a book of my general poetry, and two fun story books each containing 15 of my cowboy stories which I performed for years “from hither to yon” from California to Arkansas and from Texas to Montana. Those 20 some years were quite an interesting ride. 

 

Okay, ’nuff about that.

Hopefully, I’ll get back on a more regular pace of posting my little photo/essays here.

Next time I plan to tell you a little about our trip to beautiful Costa Rica that starting on Tuesday, May 9, 2017 and ended on Thursday, May 18, 2017. We had a delightful, though often rain-swept, time visting with our Oklahoma friends Larry and Linda Seng. More next time.

Oh, one more thing. I always get a kick out of watching my stats for these posting. No, I don’t have millions of folks flocking to this site. But what truly amazes me are the hits that I get from so many countries in the world. Here are some samples from just the last 8 days:  U.S.A. . . . Canada . . . Malaysia . . . European Union . . . Poland . . . Puerto Rico . . . Philippines . . . India . . . United Kingdom . . . Zimbabwe . . . Indonesia . . . Australia . . . Mexico . . . Japan . . . Argentina . . . Turkey . . . and Germany. That’s pretty amazing to me, and I’m glad to have each person, from here or abroad, stop by for a visit.

Best wishes to one and all,

— Stan Paregien

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Issue 353    –     March 17, 2017

Horsin’ Around in Florida

Retired folks in Florida just don’t have many empty days on their calendars. First of all, there are all those coffee hours, bingo games and shuffleboard games that beckon every week. Then there are all those Yankees who come down from up North to visit “during the season.” And then, if that were not enough to keep one busy, there is a lot of just plain ol’ horsin’ around on my agenda. 

For example, we dearly love all of the beautiful beaches here on the Gulf side of Florida. Some of the best anywhere are from Clearwater to our north and down to Venice on our south. But undoubtedly, the first choice for a broad, pearly white beach and beautiful water the prize goes to Siesta Beach on the west edge of Sarasota. That’s about 20 miles from our house. So . . . hi-ho, hi-ho . . . it’s off to the beach we go. 

2017--02--23 07 Siesta Beach - No 1 in US, No 5 in World

Ralph Iacovacci (“The Italian Stallion,” so named because he liked to put in a quarter and ride those horses outside Walmart) and his wife Eunice told us about a “Night of Nashville Music” program put on by their church. So Peggy and I saddled up and joined the fun.

2017--02--25 01 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 02 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 03 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

Now about that “Best Western Outfit” contest mentioned below in the program, . . . well, shazam . . . I won the doggoned thing. Got a new Dodge Ram pickup truck, too. Hey, I can dream can’t I? The real prize was dinner for two at a local restaurant. That was close enough to satisfy me.

2017--02--25 04 Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 05A Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 05B Bradenton, FL - Nashville Music Show

2017--02--25 07 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

“Hey, babe, ya wanna fool around . . . er, I mean pucker up??”

2017--02--25 06 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

2017--02--25 08 Bradenton, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien

2017--02--25 09 Bradenton, FL - Stan Paregien's boots and spurs

And next . . . . 

2017--03--02 01 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 03 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 04 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 05 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 06 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 07 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 08 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 09 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 10 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 11 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 13 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--02 14 Myakka, FL - Herrman's Lipizzan Stallions - by Stan Paregien

And then an afternoon spent in Sarasota looking at old (i.e., classic) cars. And we returned that evening for a very good singer (Jimmy Mezz) doing “A Tribute to Music of the 1950’s.” 

2017--03--03 06 Sarasota, FL - P Paregien, G and James Cotton - Classic Cars - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--03 05 Sarasota, FL - James Cotton at Classic Cars - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--05 01A Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

2017--03--05 01C Palmetto, FL - James and Glenda Cotton - by S Paregien

2017--03--05 03 Palmetto, FL - Stan and Peggy Paregien - by G Cotton

2017--03--07 01 Bradenton, FL - James and Glenda Cotton

2017--03--07 02 Bradenton, FL - Peggy Paregien and Allie - by Stan Paregien

And next, . . . we and our neighbors/friends Michael and Penny Letichevsky went over to Aracadia, Florida (about 1 hour southeast of us) on March 11th to enjoy the 89th Annual Arcadia Rodeo. We all enjoyed the cowboy and cowgirl action. They’re even supposed to have a brand-new arena ready for next year’s event.

2017--03--11 01 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien
2017--03--11 02 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 03 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 04 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 05 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 06 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 07 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

That clown is being just a little too nosey, if you catch my drift. 

2017--03--11 08 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 09 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 10 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 11 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 12 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 12B Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 13 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 14 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 15 Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16A Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16B Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16C Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 16D Arcadia, FL - barrel racing - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17A Arcadia, FL - rodeo - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17B Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17C Arcadia, FL - Penny Letichevsky - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17D Arcadia, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 17D1 Arcadia, FL - Stan Paregien

And here’s the old cowboy himself.

2017--03--11 17E Arcadia, FL - Peggy Paregien - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 19 Arcadia, FL - Clydesdale - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 20 Arcadia, FL - Penny Letichevsky with Clydesdale - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 21 Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky with portapotties - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 22 Arcadia, FL - Michael Letichevsky with portapotties - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 23 Arcadia, FL - bull - by Stan Paregien

2017--03--11 24 Arcadia, FL - bull - by Stan Paregien

Well, as you can clearly see, we have been doing a lot of horsin’ around here in Florida. So you might just as well come on down and join the fun.

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Issue 352 – A Visit to Dade City, Florida

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Issue 352    –    March 17, 2017

A Visit to Dade City, Florida:

February 15-16, 2017

2017--02--15 30A Dade City, FL -logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30B Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30C Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30D Dade City, FL - info - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 30E Pasco County, FL - logo - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 33A ice creme cone - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

During our recent stay in Ocala, Florida . . . we stayed at the infamous “Bates Motel.” Alfred Hitchcock himself left the light on for us. Well, not literally, of course. But it turned out to be a whole lot less safe and much more shabby than we would have predicted from the office, lobby and outside. We put a chair against the inside of our door and another up against the sliding glass door to the outside. And I had my trusty 9 mm pistola on the end table where I could reach it. Yeah, it really was that creepy. 

So when we breezed into Dade City we decided to spent a little more (okay, a lot more) for a room at the Hampton Inn. It was very nice. Free cookies. Free USA today. Nice breakfast. In other words, most of the comforts of home. It is on the south side of town. Very peaceful night of rest.

2017--02--16 01 hog sale - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 02 our 2016 Kia - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 03 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 04 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 05 history marker - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

We saw a sign or an ad pointing out that Dade City has about 13 antique stores in town. So we did our doggonedest to visit each and every one of ’em. Didn’t quite get ‘er done, so we may have to mosey over there again some time.

2017--02--16 06 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 07 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 08 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 09 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 10 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--16 11 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 12 Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13A Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 13B Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14A Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 14B Mary Leeznar - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

If you go there, tell Mary that Stan and Peggy sent ya. Heck, no, she won’t remember us from Adam and Eve, of course. But she will make you feel right at home. Yep, ya durned tootin’.

2017--02--16 15 history marker - Pasco County Courthouse - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Dade City seemed like a real pleasant country town, only with lots of traffic on the main highways. There are quite a number of historic homes and retail businesses there. We could easily have spent another night there, but we needed to get home to milk our herd of cows (any excuse will do when you’re ready to get back into your bed). 

2017--02--16 16 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 17 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien2017--02--16 18 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 19 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 20 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 21 downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

I just couldn’t get up enough nerve to order a fair-to-middlin’ sized slice of Kumquat pie. It just sounds odd, maybe even unAmerican. But apparently folks around Dade City are proud of it.

2017--02--16 22 P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Here is my Sweet Thang, looking her always good lookin’ self. I took these photos just because I was struck by the texture of the nearby walls. I guess that is the goofy . . . er, I mean, artistist . . . photographer in my DNA. And I wondered which might make a more interesting background for a photo. I guess I’m still wondering, but I kinda lean toward the one above. What do you think?

2017--02--16 23A P Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 23B Stan Paregien - downtown - Dade City, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--16 24 west side - Dade City, FL - by S Paregien

Surprisingly, it is just a hop, skip and a jump from Dade City to San Antonio, Texas. You know, the town that ol’ Bob Wills sang about.

Well, . . . okay, you got me.

No, Brother Bob never fiddled a lick about t-h-i-s San Antonio. Because this quiet, tiny town is San Antonio, Florida. I didn’t realize there was such a place until earlier on this trip when we were looking at the map for alternate routes (i.e., back roads and cow trails) to get home from Dade City. This was a nice diversion. 

 

2017--02--16 30 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--16 31 - San Antonio, FL - by S Paregien

They have a Mexican restuarant just off the beautiful town square and park, and the name has something to do with Pancho Villa. I don’t think ol’ Pancho ever ate tacos there, though.There was quite a line at the door. So, since I don’t like long lines, we drove on down to Zephrhills and ate lunch at “Rick’s” on the west side of town. Very nice “mom and pop” kind of place that closes at 2 pm, then I think reopens in the evening.

We just drove through Zephrhills (oh, sure, we did stop at a couple of thrift stores on the west side of town) on the fly, but we passed one Mobile Home Park right after the other. Heck, I’ve got nothing against MHP’s per se (since we live in one), but these seemed kinda packed tight and a bit older. And lots of ’em. To each his own, I reckon.

Well, neighbors, that’s about all I can tell you about Dade City and San Antonio. I think you’d enjoy an overnight visit to the area, though. 

Adios for now.

— Stan

 

 

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Issue 351 – Gypsy Vanner Horses in Ocala, FL

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The Paregien Journal   –   Issue 351   –   March 17, 2017

 

Gypsy Vanner Horses

by Stan Paregien Sr.

2017--02--15 01 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD HORSE FARM, info

2017--02--15 02 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 03 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 04 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 05 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 06 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD, info

2017--02--15 07 Ocala, FL - GYPSY GOLD FARM - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 08A1 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08A2 - horse pulling old-time Caravan

2017--02--15 08B - horse pulling Caravan

2017--02--15 08C - horse pulling 'bow-top' Caravan

2017--02--15 09 A GVH being ridden with a western saddle

2017--02--15 10 'Droghedas Wildfire' a horse bred by GYPSY GOLD, Dennis Thompson, owner

2017--02--15 11 GYPSY GOLD - barn - Ocala, FL - by Stan Paregien

2017--02--15 12A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 12D GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 13 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 14 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 16 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 17 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 18B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 19 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 20B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by P Paregien

2017--02--15 21A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 21B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 22 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 23B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 23C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24C GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 24D GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 24E GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

2017--02--15 25A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 25B GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 26A GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by S Paregien

2017--02--15 27 GYPSY GOLD FARM - Ocala, FL - by Peg Paregien

Well, it was a morning of new experiences and lots of information about this beautiful breed of horses, a breed unknown to me until we got to Ocala, Florida and picked up a brochure about the Gypsy Gold Ranch. I’d highly reccomend that you call ahead and get a reservation for 10:00 am on a Wednesday, a Friday or a Saturday. You’ll get about a 45 minute classroom-like informational session from Dennis Thompson himself. And then he will lead the group on a 45 minute or so tour of his ranch. 

Beware of a couple of things: (1) Most of the horses are stallions, breeding horses with high testosterone levels so they can get so excited they may try to take a bite out of you. So don’t reach your hand out to pet them on the head or to feed them a carrot. (2) Yes, Virginia, there are occasional mounds of fire-ants around the ranch. Those little devils can inflict a painful bite, so much so you might feel like you’ll be stuck with a hot ice pick. Just be careful as you walk around and enjoy these beautiful horses.

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Issue 350 – Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

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Issue 350  –  February 21, 2017  

Silver Springs in Ocala, FL

On Tuesday morning, Feb. 14th, my wife Peggy and I set out from Bradenton, Florida for a little excursion to Ocala, Florida. That’s on Interstate 75, about 144 miles north of where we live.

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We arrived about 11:00 am and immediately drover over to the east side of Ocala to the Silver Springs. We bought tickets for the ride on a glass-bottomed boat around the beautiful springs. The deep springs send forth millions of gallons of clear water each day, eventually forming the Spring River which ends about five miles away. The springs are surrounded by lovely gardens and a long walking path.

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There were about 20 of us on that boat, and our driver and guide was a very elderly black gentleman who was very knowledgeable about the history of the springs. At one point, we were able to see 55 feet down to a large cravice where one of the major springs was doing its stuff. 

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We certainly enjoyed our trip through Silver Springs, and we ate lunch there as well. The busy, busy time is right ahead of the folks there because “spring break” time will start pretty soon and run for a month or so.

Oh, hey, I should tell you that we visited several antique and thrift stores in Ocala. The two best were the Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 926 NW 27th Ave., phone 352-401-0075, and the Ocala Antique Mall & Estates at 4425 NW Blitchton Road (aka Highway 27). Take Exit 354 off of I-75 and go east about 1/4 mile and you’ll see the Ocala Antique Mall on your left. In that same shopping center, there’s a neat little restaurant called “Darrel’s Dog Gone Good Cooking” . . . and it was good.

NEXT TIME: We will share the fascinating story of the “Gypsy Vanner” breed of horses and what we learned from Dennis Thompson at his Gypsy Gold Horse Farm in Ocala. 

 

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Issue 349 – Don Betts, A Good Man

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Issue 349  –  February 21, 2017

Don Betts: A Good Man

We were fortunate in meeting Don and Judy Betts the first couple of weeks after we moved to Florida in June of 2013. At the recommendation of Mrs. Richard (Rita) Edwards, whom we met a couple of years before that in our home church in Edmond, Okla., we visited the Central Church of Christ on the east side of Sarasota. And we were met and cheerfully, warmly welcomed by Don and Judy. And they weren’t the only ones. Soon we decided that would be our church home.

Since that time, Don and Judy Betts have been helpful any time we needed information or encouragement. The four of us have been with each other through a variety of health problems and personal ups and downs. We have studied the Bible together, prayed together, worshiped together, eaten many a meal together, gone on day trips together and shared in several music and poetry jams. In addition, at their kind invitation we spent a whole week with them in a condo on a golf course in stunningly beautiful Sedona, Arizona. You get to know people pretty doggoned well when you spend that much time with them. So now we can share the not-so-secret news: Don and Judy Betts are solid citizens, first-class people and dedicated Christians.

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Last Saturday night, Feb. 18, 2017, we went to a birthday part in Bradenton to help Don celebrate his 85th year on mother earth. Judy worked herself to a nub organizing and executing this wonderful event. I’m guessing that some 50 invited guests showed up for a meal, a piece of his birthday cake, and a program where each person had a chance to say something personal to Don. It was a night of gracious words of encouragement and remembrance. Don read a poem, as did his son Tom Betts, and so did I. Here is mine:

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Dr. Pat Hardeman, Ph.D., is a long-time friend of Don and Judy. He earned a doctorate in philosophy and religion from the University of Illinois. In the 1950s he was much in demand as an evangelist and a debater. He then became a professor of religion and philosophy at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in the Temple Terrace area of Tampa. At the same time, he was a part-time professor at the University of Tampa. He was also a noted and outspoken leader in the Civil Rights movement throughout the state of Florida. He also preached for a time at what today is the Central Church of Christ in Sarasota. Later, he had a highly successful career as a realtor. He was even selected as the President of the Florida Realtor’s Association.

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And now . . . the “Good Ol’ Days of Yore” . . . 

 

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Before there was a bridge across Sarasota Bay to Longboat Key (island), George Betts would row his small boat across the bay to the John Ringling Estate in Sarasota to work as their chief horticulturist. He became familiar with not only all of the Ringling Brothers and their families but with the workers and performers who were employed by the Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus.

It was there on the far south side of Longboat Key that George and Mary Betts lived as their family grew. Don Betts came along on Feb. 9, 1932. Most of his childhood was spent roaming through the woods and jungles and swamps on Longboat Key. He still enjoys telling about swimming on the Gulf side and seeing a myriad variety of fish in every wave. What kid would not have liked playing “Tarzan” on his own virtual paradise. He and his sibling could play in the dirt road which ran the length of the island without a car passing through for hours at a time. NOTE: Don’t try that today, especially “during the season.” 

During the course of his life, Don worked for several years as a lineman for Florida Light & Power after he came back from his tour of duty with the U.S. Navy. Then he worked as a Game Ranger out at Myakka State Park. He transitioned from that to serving as a policeman way out in Tucson, Arizona. Later, he worked in a bank in Sarasota and then became an independent insurance agent.

Don and Judy have lived in a lovely home on the golf course at Tara Preserve, in Bradenton, Florida for several years now. 

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Well, that’s just a tiny bit of the story of our friend Don Betts.

The late Louis L’Amour, the best-selling Western novelist of his day, often had a character in his book say about another cowboy: “He would do to ride the river with.” In other words, that man could be trusted to ride for the brand and to do what was right. In this case I’ll just say: You are an awful good man, Don Betts. And we are proud to share part of your life.

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Issue 345 – Facts and Fun

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Issue 345      –        January 4, 2017

As one radio broadcaster used to say, “Hello Americans and to all the ships at sea.”

Actually, I’ll just say hello to you. Thanks for stopping by for some facts and some fun. 

The following “Letter to the Editor” should get your hackles up, if you depend on Social Security for your income or known anyone else who does. This writer does a bang-up job of confronting our local Congressman, Mr. Vern Buchanan, with the injustice of the current system. And note how in his last statement he mentions the elephant in the Capital Building in Washington. That is the fact our beloved Congressmen set themselves up on an automatic pay raise of several thousands of dollars each and every year. That really stinks. Let ’em key their pay raises to the same standards ruling what people on Social Security get. 

So, please . . . print off a copy of this letter. Then write letters to all of your representatives and include a copy of that “Letter to the Editor.” 

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Hmmm. Maybe we ought to force President-Elect Trump (Republican), House Speaker Paul Ryan (Republican) and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (Democrat) to get inside a man-sized “Get Along Shirt” for the next 60 days or so to make sure they are working together for us — the American people. It is far past time for our leaders to stand tall and work for the common good as Americans, not as partisans.

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Back in 2011, Peggy and I visited Bradenton and Sarasota, Florida as we thought about whether to retire somewhere on the Gulf coast. On the day shown above, Peggy took a photo of me visiting with another old geezer down in Sarasota about all there is to see and do here. To my surprise, my eloquence left this obvious Yankee from New York or New Jersey absolutely speechless.

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Now, friends and neighbors, this is what retirement is all about. Notice that I am not wearing a watch, either. Photo taken late in 2011 by Peggy Paregien when we spent a few nights in a hotel near the gulf at Santibel Island, just west of Fort Meyers, Florida.

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Amen, brother. Tell it like it is.

See ya next time.

— Stan

 

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Issue 344 – Adios 2016, Ola 2017

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Issue 344  –   January 3, 2017  –  Bradenton, Florida

Well, folks, we had quite a nice New Year’s Eve Celebration at our 55+ retirement community down here in Paradise. We ended this 31st day of December, 2016 basking in the sunshine of an 82 degree day. And then we gathered in our clubhouse for a catered dinner, followed by a dance. Pretty doggoned nice, we thought.

Peggy and I stuck around the festivities until about 10:00 pm. We home and started watching an old black-and-white movie about 10:30 p.m. The next thing I knew I woke up and the clock above our TV said 12:09. Peggy had fallen asleep, too. So I awoke her to tell her “Happy New Year!” And then we saundered off to bed. The best part of the day was this part, when I thanked God for being able to start another year with the love of my life.

One of the members of our Home Owners Association had asked me to take photos of our folks as they came through the door for the New Year’s Eve Party. So Peggy took down their names as they lined up and I took two shots of each group or individual. All of the 65+ pictures turned out well, except for four or five, and I appologize for that. I can blame those few  photos on my camera, not the camera operator. For, as you will see, the photo which someone else snapped of Peggy and me with my camera was one of those which was a bit off. Well, at least the price was right (i.e., free). 

I have posted below most of the photos that I took that evening. I hope you enjoy them. 

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That’s about it for now. My best wishes to each and every one of you for a wonderful year of 2017.

— Stan Paregien

 

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

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Issue 343 – ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas – December 10, 2016

Lest I forget, let me say to all of you that Peggy and I wish for our family and our friends, as well as our followers around the world, a blessed Christmas Day. 

In this issue, I just want to share some Christmas-related poems, essays and cartoons. Happy reading.

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(aka “A Visit from St. Nicholas “)

[A copy of the first publication of this poetic account of a child’s happy visit from St. Nicholas in the Troy (NY) Sentinel (1823) is reprinted and analyzed by English literature scholar MacDonald P. Jackson on the InterMedia Enterprises website. While authorship credit is debatable, some experts agree that the original poem was the work of a Mr. Henry Livingston (according to the Huffington Post).

[A later publication attributes the poem to writer Clement Clark Moore, who claimed to have written it in 1822. Unbeknownst to Moore, the poem was published anonymously in a newspaper in upstate New York in December 1823. Additionally, Moore, who was a professor of Oriental and Greek literature at General Theological Seminary in New York City, is thought to have written “A Visit from St. Nicholas” for his children, without any intention of publishing it. He first published it under his name in 1844 after others tried to take credit for it. So . . . the true authorship is debatable.

[Note: the following version is a modern English version, whereas the original was written in somewhat archaic English.]

 

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house

 Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

 The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

 In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

 

 The children were nestled all snug in their beds,

 While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

 And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,

 Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,

 

 When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,

 I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

 Away to the window I flew like a flash,

 Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

 

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow

 Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

 When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,

 But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

 

 With a little old driver, so lively and quick,

 I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

 More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,

 And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

 

 “Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!

 On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONDER and BLITZEN!

 To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!

 Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”

 

 As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,

 When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

 So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,

 With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

 

 And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof

 The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

 As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,

 Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

 

 He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,

 And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

 A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,

 And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

 

 His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!

 His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

 His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,

 And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

  

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,

And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,

That shook when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

 

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,

And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,

Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

 

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,

And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,

And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

 

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,

And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”

 

Santa Claus: Man or Myth?

by Stan Paregien Sr.

 

Here is the story of one man’s answer to be the classic childhood question as to whether Santa Claus is real or not. It is not the only answer, of course, and there are some who raise legitimate concerns about problems an answer like this might cause to children as they grow older. However, those issues are for another occasion. Right now we go back more than 100 years in time to see how one man dealt with the issue.

In September of 1897, a little girl wrote a letter to Mr. Francis P. Church, the editor of the New York Sun newspaper. She asked him to please answer an important question for her. And, after considering her dilemma for some time, on September 21, 1897, Mr. Church published the little girl’s question and gave his answer.

Here is what the little girl named Virginia wrote:

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“Dear Editor: I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, “If you see it in The Sun [newspaper], it’s so.” Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus? — Virginia O’Hanlon, 115 West Ninety Fifth Street”

What the editor, Mr. Church, told her has become the most widely reprinted newspaper editorial in the entire English speaking world. It is an established part of Christmas folklore in many parts of the world. Here is what he said:

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“Viginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.

 

“In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

“Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.

“We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

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“Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

“You tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else more real and abiding.

“No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.”

You may be interested to learn that young Virginia O’Hanlon later earned a doctorate degree and spent her life teaching and serving as a school administrator. She died at the age of 81. Mr. Church, the newspaper editor, died in 1906 at the age of 67.

 

So far this editorial written in 1897 by Mr. Church is the only one ever set to music. That happened in 1932 when NBC radio commissioned and broadcasted a “Yes, Virginia” cantata set to classical music. On Dec. 8, 1991 a made-for-TV movie titled, “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus” was shown. It starred actors Richard Thomas (“John Boy Walton” in the TV series “The Waltons”), Ed Asner and tough-guy Charles Bronson.

In fact, the expression “Yes, Virginia, There Is A . . . ” has become a common way of saying that a certain thing or person is real and does exist. Such as, “Yes, Virginia, there is an honest politician.” Well, okay, that may not be the best example but you catch my drift.

There remains the deeper question of how or when children should be properly educated about such “make-believe” characters as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny Rabbit, and fairies tiptoeing through the tulips. One rather sarcastic and know-it-all eleven year old told a questioning younger child, “Aw, heck. Santa Claus is just like the Devil. He is your old man.”

That is probably not the best approach.

Here is a better one, especially when they suspect that their mom or dad is really Santa Claus. Just relax and be honest with them. Here is my general letter to kids about ol’ Santa, a letter that would be appropriate for most families:

“Dear Kids,

“You may be wondering whether Santa Claus is a real person under that red hat and long, white beard. Well, let me help you understand.

“First, your mom and dad are not Santa Claus. Oh, yes, they are the ones who shop for your gifts, pay for them, wrap them and put them under your Christmas tree. After all, a fat Santa couldn’t drag a big bag of gifts down a chimney. But when your parents do all of that it does not make them Santa Claus. And, you know what, their own parents and grandparents probably blessed them the same way with the legend about a wonderful man who was just full of love and generosity.

“The tradition of a Santa Claus is a wonderful experience for most families, but that doesn’t really make any of us Santa Claus. Playing like Santa is real, you see, is a fun way of reminding all of us — parents and children — that there are times when it is important to believe in things we cannot see with our eyes or touch with our hands or measure with a ruler. Things like love, God, trusting in others, cooperation in getting everything done, hope when life is hard, thankfulness for being together as family and friends, joy in giving to others and happiness in receiving gifts and best wishes from others.

That is really what the idea of Santa Claus is all about. Santa is an attitude, a happy and good way of thinking, rather than a person. The job of spreading cheer around the world is too big and wonderful for just one person to do. So most of us are part of “Team Santa.”

“Next year you can help us find the right gifts for other people, and you can enjoy wrapping them and giving them away. Maybe someday you will decide to bless your own children by passing on this tradition, but that choice will be entirely up to you.” 

 

Well, friends, I hope that is helpful to some of you.

Some of my Christian brothers and sisters may seriously object to “playing Santa” and putting an emphasis upon a mythical man rather than on “the reason for the season” – the birth of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Frankly, my wife and I went through a cycle of beliefs and behaviors when our children and grandchildren were young. Early on we observed a deep appreciation for this period as a time of celebrating the birth of Jesus and we included the Santa myth as something distinct from that holy celebration.

Then at some point we decided that the “distinct” part may not have been understandable at all by our children. So, much to the dismay of both sets of our parents, we went through one or two Christmases without Santa and without gifts. Then we returned to our normal practice.

So, . . . I would suggest adding this statement to the letter above for those Christians who are struggling with what to do:

“Kids, the reason we have this Christmas season at all is because of the birth of Jesus the Christ. Notice the spelling of Christmas: “Christ-mas.” We believe in Jesus as the baby born in Bethlehem, but we also believe in him as our savior, our hope for eternal life, our helper in this life. We have to tell you, because God wants us to tell the truth and not lie (1 Peter 3:10), that Santa is not any of these things.

 

“You see, when I was a boy we would play lots of games of make believe. Cowboys. Space travelers. Kings and queens. There were always good people and bad people in those kid games. But we knew they were not real or somehow magical. They were just for fun. That is how it is with Santa, too. So you can have fun with Santa, but God is for real and wants us to love him with all our hearts.”

Maybe that will help.

 

Now, for those who might be interested in reading alternative opinions about what to tell children about Santa Claus, here are some sources:

Brown, Laura Lewis. “Is It Okay to Lie About Santa?” PBS-Parents: http://www.pbs.org/parents/holidays/is-it-okay-lie-about-santa/

 Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? This is a 48-page booklet which is free upon request by writing to The United Church of God, P.O. Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1027.

Johnson, David Kyle. “The Santa Claus Lie Debate: Answering Objections.”

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/plato-pop/201312/the-santa-claus-lie-debate-answering-objections

Strobel, Lee.  The Case for Christmas: A Journalist Investigates the Identity of the Child in the Manger.

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1 Corinthians 13

(A Christmas Version)

by an unknown author

 
If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I’m just Another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies, preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I’m just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me nothing.

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes, attend myriad holiday parties and sing in the choir’s cantata but do not focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

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Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn’t envy another’s home that has coordinated Christmas china and table linens.

Love doesn’t yell at the kids to get out of the way, but is thankful they are there to be in the way.

Love doesn’t give only to those who are able to give in return but rejoices in giving to those who can’t.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost, golf clubs will rust, but giving the gift of love will endure.

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Christmas Is Only As Strong

As Its Weakest Link

By Curtis K. Shelburne

I don’t usually think of Christmas and chains as going together, unless I’m reading about the ponderously-chained Ghost of Christmas Past who so terrorized old Ebenezer Scrooge! But I believe this to be true: Christmas is a “chain” which is only as strong as its weakest link.

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If Christmas deals only with lights and tinsel, egg nog and poinsettias (all of which I enjoy very much, I hope you understand), and the Yuletide joy and peace, love and good will, we sing about are just artificial twinkles and largely illusory light, then Christmas is a weak and pathetic thing which can’t possibly stand the test of life and time and which will fade a long time before the January sales (and credit card bills) end.

If Christmas has to do only with parties and good times, but nothing to do with hospital rooms and disgusting diagnoses . . . 

If Christmas has to do only with smiles and “Merry Christmases” and nothing to do with hope at a graveside . . .

If Christmas has to do only with sales and not souls, presents and not His Presence, holiday cheer but not lifelong Joy . . .

If Christmas has to do only with Jingle Bells and nothing to do with “God with us,” well, then, Christmas is not up to the task of making a real difference in our lives, and it’s just one more momentary diversion for the despairing, one more false hope for people who know no hope, and it certainly won’t make much difference in life, or in death, or in anything at all very real or substantial.

But if Christmas, and all that is best about this good season, points to real light and hope, glimmering reflections from the Father of Lights, the Giver of Joy, the Sender of the very best Gift, then the Christ of Christmas can use this time of celebration to point us to light that truly is stronger than darkness, hope that is genuinely stronger than despair, and life that is ultimately and infinitely stronger than death. 

Then we discover that the Light of Christmas is real indeed because He is real, and life is far more substantial than death.

Then Christmas means something beautiful and wonderful and real. And Christmas joy can and will last forever.

[Copyright 2013 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice. You are invited to visit his website at http://www.curtissheldburne.com. ]

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A Christmas Remembrance
By Carolyn B. Leonard

For people who are dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays are often a daunting and difficult time of year. The Holiday season will be not as bright for families who have lost someone or something precious. One of my writer friends who lost her husband in 2012 described it as a year of “unmitigated Hell.” 

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In my tiny rural no-stoplight hometown of Buffalo up near the Kansas border, the home-owned and operated Wilkinson funeral home is doing something to help this season. They are preparing lovely glass angel ornaments which will be personalized with the name of each person they took care of this year. In a special “Christmas In Heaven” program at a church, the personalized Guardian Angel ornaments will then be presented to the family to be placed on their own Christmas tree or otherwise displayed in remembrance of the loved one for years to come.

Not just the immediate family, but the entire town and county are invited to participate in this opportunity to remember and honor all those lost this past year — because in a community like Buffalo it really does take a village to raise a child, and each soul has played a special role in every life. This program will give them the chance to publicly acknowledge their share of the loss.

It is always better to talk about grief and deal with it directly than to ignore or suppress it. When our first grandchild was killed in a car accident just before Christmas the whole community grieved with us. It was a horrible time for our family giving up that beloved and precious toddler, but knowing our grief was shared helped ease our pain. Friends, neighbors, acquaintances – not knowing what else to do – came with tearful hugs, flowers, and casseroles. Those gifts of love, but even more their comforting presence at that time, will never be forgotten.

Everyone feels a little awkward and are unsure what to say, but I liked to hear — “I heard about what happened …I can’t imagine what this has been like for you.” Each broken-hearted person feels their grief is unimaginable, their life has been changed forever. The word ‘imagine’ implies that whatever the griever says will be accepted, not judged or criticized. And then you can do the most important and helpful thing ever … just listen.

The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss. The seven emotional stages of grief are disbelief, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression, and acceptance or hope. There is no neat progression from one stage to the next and no set timetable.

The stages we must work through also apply to the loss of a job, a loved pet, a friendship, a marriage, health, or any other negative effect that changed your life. We all know about the collective grief that envelops everyone touched by tragedies such as the Murrah Bombing, the senseless 9-11 deaths, the spring tornado disaster, those life-changing events when everyone mourns. It takes a long time, but healing comes – very slowly, but it comes and you move on.

As you start to adjust to life without that part that is missing, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. You can finally move to acceptance.


Acceptance does not imply happiness. Instead, you can now remember and think about the loved one with sadness, but without that wrenching, intense emotional pain.

Holidays and events filled with tradition can be especially hard to deal with. Death is a topic everyone wants to avoid, even tho the unfortunate truth is that at some point we will all be faced with the uncomfortable reality of loss. Cherish the memories associated with the event, and with the person who is gone. Perhaps a glass ornament Guardian Angel, inscribed with the person’s name, is just the trick you need to find some joy in a Christmas remembrance.

[ Note: The above article was written by our dear Christian friend, Carolyn B. Leonard, of Oklahoma City. Our relationship dates all the way back to about 1985. And for a time we both worked for the same company as newspaper editors, she in Buffalo, Okla., and I in Meade, Kansas. Carolyn is also the author of a helpful book on genealogy. It has the catchy title of Who’s Your Daddy? ]

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Prelude to Christmas Prayer

by Don Betts

Bradenton, FL – Dec., 2013

 Our house is your house, we wish you good cheer,

On this special day we’re glad that you’re here!

Christmas is a time of special reflection,

And to some, a day of great expectation.

 

Our thoughts are mostly of friends and family together,

Without grievous thoughts or fear of the weather.

At our house its always a beautiful day.

So we now take a moment to pray.

 

Let’s pray for peace, tranquility and accord,

And ask a special blessing as we give thanks to our Lord.

Lets be happy with His blessings.

That come in such abundance.

And rid ourselves of earthly things

That come with such redundance.

 

Lord help us to love one another

To be to each  other, sister and brother.

Help us to know, with all due reason

The true meaning of this special season.

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The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus

by Ogden Nash

APR 1 1959, APR 2 1959; Ogden Nash; Americans too serious.;“Frederic Ogden Nash (August 19, 1902 – May 19, 1971) was an American poet well known for his light verse. At the time of his death in 1971, The New York Times said his “droll
verse with its unconventional rhymes made him the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry”.[1] Nash wrote over 500 pieces of comic verse. The best of his work was published in 14 volumes between 1931 and 1972.” – Wikipedia Dec. 8, 2016.

 

In Baltimore there lived a boy.

He wasn’t anybody’s joy.

Although his name was Jabez Dawes,

His character was full of flaws.

 

In school he never led his classes,

He hid old ladies’ reading glasses,

His mouth was open when he chewed,

And elbows to the table glued.

 

He stole the milk of hungry kittens,

And walked through doors marked,

“NO ADMITTANCE.”

He said he acted thus because

There wasn’t any Santa Claus.

 

Another trick that tickled Jabez

Was crying “Boo!” at little babies.

He brushed his teeth, they said in town,

Sideways instead of up and down.

 

Yet people pardoned every sin,

And viewed his antics with a grin,

Till they were told by Jabez Dawes,

“There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Deploring how he did behave,

His parents swiftly sought their grave.

They hurried through the portals pearly,

And Jabez left the funeral early.

 

Like whooping cough, from child to child,

He sped to spread the rumor wild:

“Sure as my name is Jabez Dawes

There isn’t any Santa Claus!”

 

Slunk like a weasel of a marten

Through nursery and kindergarten,

Whispering low to every tot,

“There isn’t any, no there’s not!”

 

The children wept all Christmas eve

And Jabez chortled up his sleeve.

No infant dared hang up his stocking

For fear of Jabez’ ribald mocking.

 

He sprawled on his untidy bed,

Fresh malice dancing in his head,

When presently with scalp-a-tingling,

Jabez heard a distant jingling.

 

He heard the crunch of sleigh and hoof

Crisply alighting on the roof.

What good to rise and bar the door?

A shower of soot was on the floor.

 

What was beheld by Jabez Dawes?

The fireplace full of Santa Claus!

Then Jabez fell upon his knees

With cries of “Don’t,” and “Pretty Please.”

He howled, ‘I don’t know where you read it,

But anyhow, I never said it!’

 

“Jabez” replied the angry saint,

“It isn’t I, it’s you that ain’t.

Although there is a Santa Claus,

There isn’t any Jabez Dawes!”

 

Said Jabez then with impudent vim,

“Oh, yes there is, and I am him!

“Your magic don’t scare me, it doesn’t.”

And suddenly he found he wasn’t!

 

From grimy feet to grimy locks,

Jabez became a Jack-in-the-box,

An ugly toy with springs unsprung,

Forever sticking out his tongue.

 

The neighbors heard his mournful squeal;

They searched for him, but not with zeal.

No trace was found of Jabez Dawes,

Which led to thunderous applause,

And people drank a loving cup

And went and hung their stockings up.

 

All you who sneer at Santa Claus,

Beware the fate of Jabez Dawes,

The saucy boy who mocked the saint.

Donner and Blitzen licked off his paint.

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Christmas Trivia Questions

 

  1. After leaving Bethlehem, to which country did Joseph, Mary, and Jesus travel?

          Answer: Egypt

  1. Every elf has this ornament on the tip of their shoes. Which ornament are we talking about?     Answer: a bell
  1. Name the eight original Reindeer.   Answer:  Blitzen, Comet, Cupid, Dasher, Prancer,    Vixen, Dancer, and Donner
  1. How does a Mexican sheep say “Merry Christmas”? Answer: “Fe-leece Navidad”
  1. Which country is credited with the creation of the Christmas beverage, eggnog?

          Answer: Turkey

  1. Which country does St. Nicholas originally belong to? Answer: Norway
  1. Which was the first state in the United States to recognize Christmas as an official holiday?  Answer:  Alabama
  1. Here is a two-part question about the song, “White Christmas.” (1) In what movie did it first appear . . . and (2) what year did the movie appear?   

          Answers:  “Holiday Inn” in 1942

  1. James Stewart & Donna Reed starred in “It’s A Wonderful Life” in what year?

          Answer: 1946

  1. In that same movie, what was the first name of the angel? Answer:  Clarence

 

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

(Brooklyn Version)

 The author cannot be identified because

he is in a witness protection program.

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 ‘Twas the night before Christmas,

Da whole house was mellow,

Not a creature was stirrin’,

I had a gun unda my pillow.

 

When up on da roof’

I heard somethin’ pound,

I sprung to da window,

To scream, “YO! Keep it down!”

 

When what to my Wanderin’

eyes should appear,

But dat hairy elf Vinny,

And eight friggin’ reindeer.

 

Wit’ a bad hackin’ cough,

And da stencha burped beer,

I knew in a moment

Yo, da Kringle wuz here!

 

Wit’ a slap to dere snouts,

And a yank on dere manes,

He cursed and he shouted,

And he called dem by name.

 

“Yo Tony, Yo Frankie,

Yo Sally, Yo Vito,

Ay Joey, Ay Paulie,

Ay Pepe, Ay Guido!”

 

As I drew out my gun

And hid by da bed,

Down came his boot

On da top a my head.

 

His eyes were all bloodshot,

His body odor wuz scary,

His breath wuz like sewage,

He had a mole dat wuz hairy.

 

He spit in my eye,

And he twisted my head,

He soon let me know

I should consider myself dead.

 

Den pointin’ a fat finga

Right unda my nose,

He let out some gas,

And up da chimney he rose.

 

He sprang to his sleigh,

…..screaming,

And away dey all flew,

Before he troo dem a beatin’.

 

But I heard him exclaim,

Or better yet grunt,

“Merry Christmas to all, and

Bite me, ya hump!”

Christmas Time in Florida

by Stan Paregien

Oh, the lovely plastic holly is secured in our window tonight,

And our electric fireplace, glowing reddish orange, is pretty and bright.

There’s newly sprayed artificial snow on our green plastic palm tree,

So most all of the holiday decorating is through for the Mrs. and me.

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Here in Florida at our large, gated 55-plus retirement community

We have an exciting annual Christmas parade for everyone to see.

All the high-dollar golf carts and bicycles have ribbons and lights,

And party-time reveling is done up to almost 8 pm on some nights.

 

Ah, yes, again here in sunny Florida it is obviously Christmas time.

And many of our home-grown traditions are both weird and sublime.

You see, here ol’ Santa Claus can really kick back and relax,

For no one ever phones him or sends him a text or even a fax.

 

Down here in Florida, Santa Claus is really hip and on the ball.

He has a new cellphone, a GPS and a deep southern drawl.

His staff of elves is so organized he gets presents out on time

Even to Snowbirds temporarily down here for the warm clime.

 

Santa retired from the bitter cold North Pole to right near here

And he has a nice luxury stable at the beach for his reindeer.

Santa’s elves also relocated to condos and they help him a lot,

Making sure Santa Baby quits golfing on the deadline’s dot.

 

Then they hitch the famous reindeer to his amphibious sleigh,

Equipped to land anywhere at all on that extra special day.

He flies so doggone fast the wind tugs at his beachcomber hat,

And he travels around the world delivering this and that.

 

Oh, it is absolutely true: Christmas time in Florida can’t be beat.

You can sit outside on your patio and drink a ice-cold treat.

Or you can stretch out at a warm beach and catch the sight

Of Jimmy Buffett, John Travolta or a swim suit too slight.

 

Friend, during Christmas time in Florida don’t get in a rush,

Just always go for the “Early Bird Special” to avoid a crush.

‘Cause Snowbirds clog the beaches, cafes, theaters and the like–

And they cause our living expenses here in Florida to spike.

 

Well, Christmas time in Florida is about perfect in every way:

We leave pretzels and a margarita for Santa on that special day.

In Paradise we scrape no ice and shovel not an ounce of snow,

So we’re happy here in Florida and we ain’t putting on a show.

[This poem copyrighted by Stan Paregien in 2014.]

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Issue 342 – When Friends Pass Away

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Issue 342  –  October 18, 2016

Ever notice how life seems to “pile stuff on to you” and at the most unexpected and most inconvenient times?  I remember driving back home to Edmond, Oklahoma from my job a few miles south of Oklahoma City. There were already four inches of snow on the ground and it was still coming down . . . and I was hitting the big Internet interchange in the middle of the rush hour with bumper-to-bumper. I remember thinking, “Oh, I just hope I can get past this bottle neck okay.”

I didn’t. My car, creeping along at maybe 10 mph, coughed two or three times and stopped. And I couldn’t get it restarted. And impatient folks began to honk their horns and to give me that ol’ single-digit salute. Fortunately, within five minutes a Oklahoma Highway Patrolman drove up behind me and quickly pushed me across the three lanes of traffic and onto a shoulder of a road. Then he gave me a short ride to a convenience store, where I was on my own. I got home that night, but my car didn’t.

Life is like that. And sometimes those events are much more serious. Like the death of a relative or an old classmate or of a dear, dear friend. And too often those traumatic losses seem to hit way too close together.

That’s how I feel right now after losing — in just a few weeks — a former high school teacher of mine, a former high school classmate, a close former co-worker and Christian friend, a cousin of mine who just seems to always have been in my life over the years, and a man I’ve eaten meals with and had coffee with and  prayed with and worshipped with and “picked and grinned” with on a regular basis for over three years. Each of them represent a nitch in my own life, a nitch which now is missing a memorable part of my life.

But enough of that. Let me tell you about each one of them. 

Virgil R. Trout

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Reggie Cauthen

Reggie Cauthen was a first-cousin of mine, the son of my mom’s brother Sidney Cauthen and his wife Thelma. Over the years, and I played together, fished in lakes and swam in creeks, and ate a lot of watermelon and home-made ice cream. Out time together became less and less as Peggy and I lived in distant places and his life in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area and then in east Texas got complicated. Whenever we were able to get together, though, he always had a wide smile and a Texas-sized hug for us. He worked most of his adult life for the U.S. Post Office.

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Ralph Rees

NOTE:   In 1955, my parents moved us to Tulsa, Oklahoma and we lived near my mom’s parents and two brothers and a sister. That only lasted one year, and in the summer of 1956 we moved back to southern California. My dad got a job farming orange trees with the Edward’s Ranch about 1 mile west of Piru, Calif., and they provided a small house for us. That fall my late sister, Roberta Paregien Loffswold Fournier, and I began school eight miles west at Fillmore, Calif. I was a sophomore. And one of my teachers that year — both for drafting and for print shop — was a kind, patient teacher named Ralph Rees. I don’t think I ever saw him again after I graduated in 1959, but he became a solid citizen there over the years and died there 59 years after I was in his classes.

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“Ralph Rees –beloved father, husband, brother, grandpa and friend–has gone home to be with Jesus. He passed away at midnight on Saturday, September 3, 2016 at home, after a long struggle with cancer, with his family by his side.

“He is survived by his loving wife of sixty six years, Patricia (Young) Rees, his sister Roberta (Rees) Gragg, his children Janine (Bill Faith) Rees, Wendy Rees, Robin Rees, Jason (Bethann Buddenbaum) Rees, and Brady (Ina Rosales) Rees, his grandchildren Luke, Hannah, Nathan, Tara, Nora, Claire, Emma and Fiona, and five great- grandchildren.

“Ralph was born on Feb. 17, 1926 in Taft, CA to Helen (Allison) Rees and Ralph Winfield Rees. He is preceded in death by his sisters Joy (Rees) Hanrihan and Geraldine (Rees) Schwocho. Ralph spend his boyhood in Oildale and Bakersfield, CA, where his early interests included carpentry, Boy Scouting, hiking and fishing in the Sierras with his father and friends, and playing the saxophone. He continued to pursue these interests throughout his life.

“Ralph served in the US Navy towards the end of the WWII conflict. He later went on to earn a teaching degree from Cal State Santa Barbara under the GI Bill. After marrying his college sweetheart, Patricia Lucille Young in 1950, he started teaching in Mendota, CA. In 1953 he moved to Fillmore Union High School where he taught Industrial Arts until 1989. Ralph also earned a Master’s Degree in Industrial Arts Education. For the rest of his life Mr. Rees received compliments from many former students, grateful for the part he played in their lives.

“After retirement Ralph became a local “handy guy”. He was most proud of a project restoring a historic carriage for Rancho Camulos Museum in Piru, CA, where he volunteered until shortly before he died.

“Of primary importance in Ralph’s life was his relationship with God, which began when he joined the Boy Scouts at the age of 12. He was born again on January 8, 1976, and remained committed to his faith.

“His family will always be grateful for teaching them that they can do anything and to keep learning. He daily demonstrated his devotion to his wife, his love for his God and family, and his Boy Scout sense of decency.

“His funeral Service was held at Heritage Valley Bible Church, 461 Central Ave., Fillmore, CA on Friday, September 9 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am. Graveside Service were held immediately following at Bardsdale Cemetery, 1698 S Sespe Street, Fillmore, CA.”

Clay Landes

Oct 7, 1943 – Oct 2, 2016

Clayton Guy Landes, 72, of Sarasota, FL., died on Sunday, Oct 2, 2016, in a hospice facility. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer about a year ago.

 A “Celebration of Life” service was held at 10: 00 am on Saturday, Oct 8, 2016 at Central Church of Christ, 6221 Proctor Rd., in Sarasota, FL. Clay had served as an Elder of the congregation for many years and was active in it up until just a few weeks before his death. His frequent word of encouragement to others was, “Keep the faith.”

 Being originally from Indiana, he was an enthusiastic basketball player and fan virtually all of his life. He attended some 20 or so of the national basketball “final four” play-off events over the years.

Clay was survived by his wife Pat. They had celebrated their 50th year of marriage just a year or so ago. He was also survived by their daughter and two sons, and by numerous grandchildren.

The funeral arrangements were carried out by The Good Earth Crematory.

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Daryl Duane Muth

Ron Golson, my friend from Piru who lives in Idaho . . . . and was a mutual friend with Daryl Muth, was kind enough to pass along this email from Jeff Muth, one of Daryl and Vickie’s sons:

“My Father passed away Tuesday Morning (October 11, 2016) after a long fight with Parkinson’s Disease.

“Dad was in a rest home this last year and had to be hand fed as he could no longer feed himself… Sometime Friday, he was not eating or drinking anymore. I think he just could not swallow anything. Saturday we brought him home and he was on Hospice. Many friends and family stopped by to pay their last respect to him.

“We are going to have a service at Joseph P. Reardon Funeral Home in Ventura, Friday 21, 2016, at 1:00 PM. The address is, 757 East Main Street, Ventura, Ca. 93001. There will be a reception afterwards at Mom & Dads house  — 2289 Woodland Ave. Ojai, Ca. 93023”

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Stan Paregien’s reflections:

Daryl Muth and his older brother Garold and younger brother Kirk for several years lived high on a mountain behind Piru, Calif. On a clear day they could actually see the ocean from there. I remember one time that I was up there with Daryl and we found an abandoned oil well site. There were several old connecting rods, maybe 10 to 12 feet long as I recall. We had fun dropping them down that open well hole and listening to them  rumble as they fell thousands of feet, but we never could hear any hit the bottom.

On another occasion, Daryl and I were riding with Garold in his ’49 or ’50 Chevy, heading up the winding oilfield road to their house. Around the single lane road came a car heading down about as fast as we were going up. We had a meeting of the minds, with Garold’s car getting the worst of it. When the dust settled, we had been pushed close to the edge of the road and could see several hundred feet down into the canyon.

In about 1958, Garold and Daryl and I “triple dated” (maybe the only time I ever did that). My date was Susie Warring, a cute blond classmate who lived with her parents in the historic “Warring Mansion” on the hill in Piru. Sorry, but 58 years after the fact I cannot recall the names of the girls that Garold and Daryl dated. I do remember, though, that we went to the drive-in theater in Santa Paula. And then we parked in that popular romantic spot – Kenny’s Grove park – for a steamy hour or so.

Ah, . . . those were the good old days. 

 

 

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