A Motto to Live By

By Ed Baranosky

 

In my working career I had worked with a man who every morning would go through his schedule and agonize on each job. I watched him torture himself even before he went on his first call. I knew I had to do something. I told him he was a capable technician and he should not worry about each job beforehand. He should wait to see what the problem was when he got there.

 

I knew there was always more to the job than just electronics. The attitude of the customer was a part of it. The customers were always anxious to get their units up and running. There were always some individuals who gave the technicians a hard time.

 

When I first started on this job I did the same thing to myself. I was beating myself up about  electronic problems and customer attitudes. I found I was putting off the difficult problems and customers. At the end of several weeks I had a stack of jobs that I had made all sorts of excuses to delay tackling.

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It was then I decided that this could not go on.

 

My solution came to me at 3 a.m. in bed when I was replaying the problems over in my mind.

 

First, I decided I was going to do one difficult job a day. No matter what it was I was going to carry it
through. At the end of the first week I had five less problems in the stack.

 

The answer to the difficult customers who used their authority to abuse people they believe below their station also became apparent to me. I determined that I would greet them with a smile and a cheerful “good morning.” That diffused most of their aggression.

The motto I chose to live by was something by Gen. Patton said during the darkest hours of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He simply suggested: “Do not take counsel of your fears.”

 

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Letter to a Teacher

By Ethel Abraham

 

I love you dearly teacher

Who daily sets me right.

With calm resolve to love me

But never judge or fight.

 

You’re not afraid of asking

The questions that I dread

Because you know the answers

Are sleeping in my head.

 

You listen and inspire

And sometimes read aloud

Some words I’ve never heard of

Unless my head is bowed.

 

Like old friends sent to greet me

With lessons from afar

You aim a light into my heart

Just like a shooting star.

 

You part the clouds and wipe a tear

And loan me courage to turn from fear

I love you teacher, dear.

 

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The Indignity of It All

By John-Paul Marciano

I’ve been sitting in chairs for 60-plus years and never once have they failed me–until now.

Most standard chairs offer a weight capacity of 800 pounds but that’s a static rating for weight that doesn’t move. Static weight doesn’t take into account someone who adjusts to get comfortable or just can’t sit still.  It also doesn’t take into consideration someone leaning on the back two legs.  Now we have what is called dynamic weight.  That drops to 350 pounds or less.  Commercial chairs used in restaurants offer a weight capacity of 1000 pounds.  But again that’s static weight.

As far back as we can remember there have been chairs–wooden, upholstered, arm, beach, wrought iron, plastic, lounges, beanbags, rocking, swivel, folding and reclining chairs–more types  than I care to remember.  You sit in one and the chair does what it’s supposed to do.  You relax, watch TV, read the paper or a book or talk to your spouse or a friend. Ninety-nine per cent of the time chairs do what they were made to do.

Now visualize my wife and I celebrating our anniversary. We go to a nice restaurant.  The setting is terrific, overlooking a lake surrounded by mountains. It’s quiet except for the muted conversations and the chirping birds.

The hostess takes us to our table, leaves the wine and dinner menus, and says, “Enjoy your meal.”  Ever the gentleman, I slide the chair out for my wife and as she takes her seat I think to myself, “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

Without giving it a thought I walk around to my chair.  I’ve got 99- per-cent-reliability on my side.  I start to say something to my wife.  I never complete the sentence.  As soon as my buttocks hit the chair it collapses out from under me.

If I were alone with my wife I’d probably have a good laugh and a few choice words for the chair.  But I have 50 sets of eyes focused on me, me without a rock to crawl under.  Oh yeah . . . I weigh a dynamic 320 pounds.

Apple Memories

By Ed Baranosky

        In Australia and Argentina the cold of winter is just beginning to leave. In October, Connecticut is just starting to get a little frosty. It’s apple-picking time. Macs and tart Granny Smiths are being plucked from trees. In kitchens the sounds of rolling pins are heard as mothers and grandmothers roll dough for piecrusts. Their aprons are covered with white flour and some have a little white dust on their noses while they hum a happy tune.

This time of year the aroma of cinnamon and baking apple pie is in the air. The anticipation of a slice of homemade pie with a scoop of ice cream after supper cannot be described. There is nothing this side of heaven like the look Heaven on a grandmothers face as she watches her grandchildren fork a delightful bit of pie into their mouths.

In 1938 I was 10 years old. Walking home from a friend’s house who lived about a mile away, I saw an apple tree growing along the side of the road. I stopped and picked a few and put them in my pocket. I was eating one when I got home. In our kitchen my mother saw me and asked where I had gotten the apple. I told her about the tree. She got an old flannel shirt, tied the sleeves, buttoned it up and sent me to get some apples.

The apples were green and a little buggy. That didn’t matter. My mother simply peeled the apples, trimmed out the buggy part and baked one of the most delicious apple pies I had ever eaten.

How Not to be a Tree Stump

By Karen Cheney

It recently occurred to me that I am a tree stump.  I wasn’t born this way; it’s something that happened to me gradually over time.  As an empath I absorb the emotions and feelings of others and intuitively know things about them just by observing tiny details in their behavior.

These qualities served me well when I was working as a nurse.  On the hospital day shifts I was able to multi-task well while still picking up on changes that needed critical interventions. On the evening shifts, when the pace slowed down, the halls fell silent and the lights were low, patients and family would open up to me and I became both their counselor and confidant.

There was something so peacefully powerful in those intimate moments that I keep them always as warm embers in my heart.

As a child I had a knack for finding lost and injured things.  It didn’t matter if they were animal, insect or human.  If it was hurting or lost I would give it comfort and care.  I always kept a cardboard box hidden under our porch which served as both a shelter and sick bay for whatever critter-in-need I found.

As an adult, I still have a critter box under my porch and a place in my heart for all who are lost and broken.

You’re probably wondering what any of this has to do with me being a tree stump.  So I will tell you now.  There are people in this world whose hearts are dark and they prey on people like me. They use and abuse for selfish gain and leave scars and pain and dirty stains in the wake of their manipulative madness.  I was born into a family of people like this and also had the madness of mind to marry one.

It wasn’t until I reread the book “The Giving Tree” by Shel Silverstein that a light in my attic went on.  It was then that I realized that I was the stump in his book on which that boy selfishly sat.

As a child I had the heart and mind of a child and, much like the tree, I was taken advantage of until there was nothing left but a mere stump of myself. Still I let them sit on me.

It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized two truths: First, I am not responsible for other people’s happiness–they are.  And second, I need to put my oxygen mask on first before I can help others with theirs.  It’s not selfish, it’s a necessity.

I want to spend the rest of my life re-growing into the beautiful tree they cut down with new roots so well-grounded I can weather any storm.  I want my canopy to be broad to shelter others from storms, my fruit to be plentiful to share with the hungry, my example to teach others to be strong and to learn to let go so my heart can finally find the peace it so desperately seeks.

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Long Live the USA

By Russell Hartz

Our political parties today seem to be more interested in undermining each other and dividing our nation, trying to grab power for themselves rather than consolidating our national assets for the opportunity, prosperity, happiness and safety of our people.

In his state of the union address to the joint session of Congress Jan. 30, 2018 our duly elected president laid out his national priorities and outlined his legislative agenda for Congress to consider.

The president’s party applauded enthusiastically.

The other party, sitting across the aisle, showed no reaction through the whole speech.

Remembering President Washington’s admonition about political parties I had to ask myself, “Who has the real power in our government today? The president? Congress? The political parties?”

No! The real power is in the voter! We, the people, are the ultimate power. Our votes are the incentive our leaders need to administer a successful government. They must earn our votes or we must vote them out of office.

We did not elect them to use the power to accumulate wealth and power for themselves.

Our forefathers provided this beautiful Republic for us at great risk to themselves and their families.

After signing our Declaration of Independence in July of 1776 Ben Franklin said, “Gentlemen, we must all hang together or we will certainly all hang separately.”

Consider a modern analogy: “Voters, we must all stick together or we will certainly all lose our freedom separately.”

Nobody or no organization can take our freedom from us. The only way we can lose it is if we, the voters, choose to give it away of our own free will. Or if we allow politicians to con us out of it.

Public demonstrations and violence are divisive and counterproductive. They accomplish nothing positive. Abe Lincoln was right: “A nation divided against itself cannot stand.” Any candidate who encourages divisiveness of any kind among us must be voted out of office.

Look past all the words and consider how the candidate thinks and where his loyalties and values are. Vote for the candidate who best supports our constitution and the rule of law. If the incumbent has not proven himself or herself by these standards vote them out; if they have, vote them back in.

Totally avoid party politics. That will bring us down.

Our Republic is still the best form of government mankind has ever yet devised for the benefit of all its people. It provides all our citizens with opportunity as nothing else in history ever has and opportunity is the only thing that can insure the prosperity and happiness of all our people.

Our forefathers recognized this and by the time the revolutionary war with Great Britain ended in 1783 the colonies had shaken off their colonial identification and began calling themselves states. They all got together and called a constitutional convention to decide how to preserve their independence peacefully.

The founding fathers realized that the problem with revolutions is that they always end up with more violence and bloodshed when power hungry factions from within incite riots and go to war with each other to decide who will take over the power of governing (Sound familiar?).

The new states avoided this by creating the Articles of Confederation. But by 1786 it was clear that these articles were not adequate.

Recognizing the need for consolidation the states sent delegates to Philadelphia  May 14, 1787 to convene a Constitutional Convention to formulate a workable Constitution to which all the states would be willing to submit.

George Washington was chosen to conduct the meetings. There were 55 delegates selected by the states, attending these meetings. They were prosperous, well- educated, farmers, land owners and businessmen, all reputed to have a good moral compass. None had political aspirations.

Many were history buffs. James Madison believed that the protection of liberty depended on the structure of government. He spent the winter of 1787 studying confederations throughout history and had an understanding equal to Adams, Jefferson and Franklin, who was a polymath.

The delegates who attended the convention and formulated our Constitution were probably the first governmental leaders in world history who understood the importance of learning from history and they were dedicated to the cause of freedom.

But that was 231 years ago and the American colonies, now states, had their own problems.

There was much dissention and heated discussion at all these meetings. The states all had their own objectives, agendas, ideas and problems. Some depended on shipbuilding, some on lumbering, fishing, farming, whaling or mercantile endeavors to support their economies. Some were slave states. Some had good harbors and some did not.

Realizing that the consolidation of the union was necessary to their prosperity, felicity, safety and perhaps even to their national existence they knew they had to work things out. Failure was not an option.

Madison maintained, “If there is power to be had, someone will aspire to it, but power is necessary to run a government, therefore a balance of power, provided by the states is needed.” Dividing the power between executive, legislative and judicial departments, with each state providing its own elected officials, provided those checks and balances, while providing the national government with the ability to do for us those things that we cannot do for ourselves, such as national infrastructure, international relations, a military to maintain our safety; at the same time allowing considerable control of the law to remain with the states, a top priority.

But could people be trusted to make decisions on a national scale? Or even on a state scale? Some thought they could. Some thought they couldn’t. The smaller states were concerned that the larger more populous states might force control over them by virtue of vote.

James Wilson, a Scotsman from Pennsylvania, proposed what later became known as the “electoral college” where each state chooses “electors.” It was left up to the individual states to devise the manner of choosing their own electors, but within a set of designated rules. Each state is allowed one elector for every member of Congress it has.

Our vote for president is actually a vote instructing our state electors to pass it on as our vote for president through the state; therefore the president is actually elected by a majority of states votes, as determined by their voters.

In his farewell address in 1796, after serving eight years as president of the U.S., George Washington warned the nation to avoid splitting up into political parties. His rational was that the primary goal of any political party and its members is self- preservation. Their ultimate goal is power.

The party system will eventually infest the division of powers created by the separation of the executive, legislative and judicial departments, seriously weakening their ability to function and allowing the parties to take control over them (Does this somehow look familiar?).

When that happens Congress becomes dysfunctional and the division of power will be lost. The power will be usurped by the strongest party and the welfare of the nation will become secondary to that parties own self-indulgence, leaving the door open to despotism.

The convention ended Sept. 17 after 126 days of fierce debate on every issue, but these men finally came up with our U. S. Constitution. After the signatures were all on it the delegates retired to the “City Tavern” across the street from the hall for dinner and refreshments.

A woman asked Franklin what they had accomplished in all that time.

He answered, “A republic … if you can keep it.”

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Cowboy

By Russell Hartz

After watching a cowboy movie with three of my buddies I mentioned that I used to live out West and I wished there was a stable around because I missed horseback riding.

Al said, “My grandpa lives on a farm and he has a horse.”

About a week later, Al said, “Grandpa told me that he still has his saddle and you’d be welcome to come out and ride Ole Paint anytime.”

Al made the arrangements and the following Saturday we all piled into his jalopy and drove out to the farm. Grandpa met us with a hearty welcome. He took us out to the pasture where the horse was grazing. Ole Paint looked really tame to me, just old and tired.

He looked like someone had thrown blotches of white paint all over a black horse. He totally ignored us while Grandpa put the saddle on him.

It was an English saddle, not much more than an overgrown pancake with stirrups. It had no horn on the front and no back support.

I put my foot in the stirrup and swung up onto the saddle.

Grandpa handed me the reins. I gently flipped them. Nothing. I flipped them again and called out, “Heaah!” Still nothing. I squeezed my knees into his side, snapped the reins and called out “Heaah!” again, louder this time.

Ole Paint reared up twice, whinnying. Taken by surprise, I almost slid off the saddle. But my reflexes quickly pushed my feet back and the stirrups stopped my slide.

Running at full gallop all the way to the end of the pasture, Ole Paint stopped at the fence, reared up again, turned and ran back to the other end. His only response to the reins was to buck violently. I was just barely hanging on,

At full gallop he tried to scrape me off against the side of a tree. I moved my left leg back and up, stirrup and all, to the top of his rump. His side scraped the trunk of the tree as we passed.

Making a wide turn he came back to try it on the other side. I used the same maneuver.

He chose another tree with a large horizontal branch growing on one side about two feet higher than his back, planning to knock me off against that branch.

I removed my feet from the stirrups, laid back across his rump and lifted my feet up alongside his neck. As he galloped under the limb, I reached up with both hands and took hold of it. He slid out from under me and I dropped safely to the ground.

Grandpa apologetically explained that Ole Paint had never behaved like this before, but he hasn’t been ridden for 10 years.

 

Ole Paint came over and stood quietly beside us.

I didn’t let on how scared I was. I had been hanging on for dear life.

That’s how I got the nickname “Cowboy.”

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