Saturday, December 22, 2012

Just Connecting Words: Please Contact ............

Just Connecting Words: Please Contact ............: Please contact your U. S. Congress Person and Senator and ask them to think about their lower class and middle class constituents that will ...

Please Contact ............

Please contact your U. S. Congress Person and Senator and ask them to think about their lower class and middle class constituents that will be hurt by their decision not to make a compromise on the fiscal cliff.

Did you know the following? Of your 100 Senators 66 are worth 1 mil to 231 mil; 16 are worth $999,999 to $500,000; 8 are worth to $499,99 to $250,000 and 10 are worth less than $100,000.

There are 435 voting members of Congress. 250 are worth over 1 million; 100 are worth over $500,000 and 50 are worth over $250,000 leaving 35 members having a net worth of less than $250,000.

Do they have any idea of how hard it is for the majority of people to exist on a low to middle class income? I don’t think so. They probably don’t even know what a loaf of bread costs.

Please contact them, wish them a happy holiday and ask them to think about the majority of people in this great country that will be affected by their realistic compromise or lack of and not just how much their rich contributors will not give them if they make a truly thoughtful decision. Or maybe they were just hoping we would all disappear yesterday. Didn't happen! Now they have to finish the job they got elected to do.

Friday, December 7, 2012


This post is to honor my deceased dad and two uncles that served in the U.S. Navy during WWII and my 89 year old father-in-law who served in the Army Air Force in England. None of them were at Pearl Harbor, but I think that day, “The Day That Would Live In Infamy”, December 7, 1941 was their inspiration for serving their country. For those not familiar with the date, the Japanese orchestrated a surprise attack on the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii killing over 2400 service men and women including civilian children. The United States declared war on Japan the next day and the United States was officially involved in WW II. We had been neutral to the conflict that had began two years prior, but Pearl Harbor was the catalyst for what I feel was one of the few just wars.

16,000,000 men and women served during WW II, 290,000 killed in action and 640,000 were wounded. Sacrifices were also made on the home front by the majority of those that could not serve. They referred to it as the “War Movement,” consisting of “Victory Gardens” rationing and women going to work in factories because of all the men that had gone off to war. This was also economically hard on the population of the United States because the Great Depression had just ended about two years prior to Pearl Harbor.

The are refereed to as the “Greatest Generation” because they showed true patriotism in a truly United States, suffered the emotional consequences of being in combat and came back to re-build the United States into the most prosperous and greatest country in the world.

I was born in 1947 so the above is from what I’ve read and heard from people that participated in WW II either as civilians or military personnel like my parents, grandparents, other relatives and WW II vets I have met through my participation in the VFW. I only hope it doesn’t take another day like Pearl Harbor or 9/11 to get the citizens of this country back on track, working together for a truly United States. I think we have to remember the famous quote of the late President John F. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country!” Volunteer if you can.

Isn’t it time for us, Democrats, Republicans and Independents, to become more aware of each others needs and stop being so rigid about party lines. We are lucky to live in the best country in the world, partly due to the efforts of “The Greatest Generation.” With cooperation and concern for those less fortunate this country cold be even better. No one in this country should have to go without food, shelter or medical care, but we should establish programs to educate and train those that feel they don’t have to in some way work for these benefits if physically able.

Thank You WW II vets for your service! We can only hope to live up to your example.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Instead of being “all about me” I want to give a “Shout Out” and “Well Done” to my daughter who has participated in and completed the NaNoWriMo challenge for the second time.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the challenge is to write a 50,000, that’s right, fifty thousand, word novel in the month of November. She has done this in 2010 and 2012 and I am so proud of her because I know from the experience of writing two books and trying to get a daily blog out each day just how hard it is to get that many words down on paper in a specific amount of time, especially when it’s only one month. I know this isn’t an easy time commitment for her with four children and all of their many activities and varied schedules. A big thanks to my daughter’s husband and Beth for all the help and support they give her while she is participating in this writing challenge.

She continues to ask me to participate in this challenge and perhaps I will next year when I once again am typing with both hands.

You are my writing inspiration

One Proud Dad

Saturday, December 1, 2012


Home for the holidays means different things to different people and to me the meaning has changed as I journey through this life time. When I was a child it meant going to Grandma and Grandpa Baumann’s home on Christmas Day with the anticipation of presents and having our traditional German dinner of Sauerbraten, potato dumplings and spiced apple slices. My most memorable one was Christmas 1966. I had graduated from boot camp at Great Lakes, IL. On Dec. 21 and would be home for two weeks before going to my first duty station for six months in Pensacola, Florida. I not only got to celebrate the holidays at home, but also got to see many of my friends that I felt I probably would not see for a couple of years.

Christmas 1967 was spent in Taipei, Taiwan, half way around the world at my first duty station, being very home sick, but the group I was with since June managed to make the holidays memorable with many work and house parties and lots of treats at work. I went home on a 30 day leave in September of 1968 and met the love of my life on a blind date and got engaged eleven days later. Christmas 1968 was spent in Yokosuka, Japan where my ship, the U.S.S. Oklahoma City was home ported. Some of the guys had their families there so I volunteered to take a couple of extra watches so they could enjoy the holiday with their families. I remember feeling very sorry for myself because I would not be able to spend Christmas with my fiancée. I ended up eating Christmas dinner by myself at the base restaurant between watches. I had spent almost a weeks pay on a very satisfying phone call home to my fiancée where we told each other we would be together for the next one and all of the rest after that and we have for the last 43 years.

I took leave in June of 1969, flew home, got married and my wife went back to Japan with me as a Navy wife for the last year and a half of my Navy commitment. Home for the holidays, Christmas 1969 is probably one of my most memorable. We pulled into port in Yokosuka, Japan on December 21, I knew I would be off on December 25 and couldn’t wait to celebrate our first Christmas as husband and wife, even though we were apart from family and friends. Lauralyn had waited until I got home so we could put up our first Christmas tree together. Her mom had sent us a two foot high bottle brush tree that we put on our chow table in the front window and decorated with lights, ornaments and of course tinsel. Relatives had sent us so many presents that I wasn’t sure how we were going to get every thing home. We also had received about 50 Christmas cards that we opened together before Christmas and tacked up to one of the walls. Still one of my favorite pictures because it showed how much our relatives and friends cared for us. Our first Christmas will always be one of my most memorable, just because we were together.

I got out of the Navy in September 1970 and we couldn’t wait to get home to family and friends and spend Christmas with all of them. Before Christmas we had to do Thanksgiving and both families wanted us with them on that day. We ended up doing the whole turkey dinner at noon at my parents home and then again at my in-laws. We knew we had to do something different for Christmas because it was way too much food and way to much relative time all in one day. Luckily my parents usually did Christmas on Christmas Eve and her parents preferred to have theirs on Christmas Day so it was going to work out fine. Daughter came along in 1971 and son in 1975 and that put a whole new spin on home for the holidays. We enjoyed being with relatives, but we also wanted some alone time with the kids in our own home. We started to learn how to balance our time between everyone that wanted us with them and we really did enjoy the holidays.

Then came a work transfer to Green Bay, Wisconsin and a four to five hour road trip home to Milwaukee in the middle of normally snowy winter, with the car packed to the top and two kids, are we there yet? After six years I got transferred back to Milwaukee and lived in historic Cedarburg for the next ten years. It made the holidays so much easier and more enjoyable because we didn’t have the stress of the winter road trips. We were indeed once again home for the holidays.

Then came my last work transfer to Madison, Wisconsin and we ended up buying a home in Waunakee, Wisconsin about a two hour ride from parents and friends. It was easier for us now because the children were gone, there were just the two of us to road trip and the ride was only two hours. Grand children began entering our life in 1998 and that once again changed our Christmas get together. Along with the addition of grandchildren, the next generation, came the loss of our mothers and my dad. The memory of my mother’s passing about a week before Christmas and my Dad’s on January 1, has changed the meaning of home for the holidays, but it has gotten better for me with time and with knowing how all the grandkids look forward to Christmas as I did as a child.

For a while I cooked breakfast brunch with the entire family at our daughter’s home the weekend before or after Christmas because everyone had work commitments and everyone wanted to be at their own home for Christmas Day and it started a new tradition. In recent years we have gone back to having Christmas at my father-in-laws home because it is getting harder for him to travel and we want to make sure he is included.

So what does it mean to be “Home For The Holidays?” To me it means memories of holidays past, getting together with friends and family, enjoying good food, even if it’s no longer sauerbraten, lively conversation, very energetic children and just simply being together. We should never take these times together for granted because they are creating memories for our future generations and I‘m hoping they will all be fond memories. Only time will tell how or where future Christmas’s will be celebrated, but I know we will some how find a way to get together and in our hearts we will be “Home For The Holidays.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


It’s Saturday June 23, 2012 and I’m sitting in our family room watching the June Sprints from Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. It brings back a lot of memories, even though it’s been 46 years since I’ve been there. I graduated from high school that June with friends that I had known since kindergarten.

I don’t remember who came up with the idea, but we decided to road trip to The Road America June Sprints, a sports car race, at Elkhart Lake, WI. At that time drinking beer at 18 was legal out side of Milwaukee County. We would be in Sheboygan county where it would be legal for us to drink beer. The first race was held there on June 23, 1950 for you trivia buffs. What could go wrong with a plan like this. One of our mothers even let us use their station wagon and camping equipment. Problem was that most of us had never camped outside our back yards. This caring mother even threw in a case of beer for the five of us to take along. Little did she know we already had a couple of cases of beer and a quart of liquor a piece stashed away in the car. If I remember correctly it was Tom, Jack, Ted, me and the other Tom or Geno. Sorry I can’t remember guys, but you know who you were and why I probably can’t remember.

We went there on Friday and found a camp site right on the lake a few miles from the track. Set up the tent, had some dinner, and drank moderately into the night probably telling lies about what we were going to do with our lives. The next morning came early and we wanted to get to the races. We all enjoyed the race and I for one was ready to buy a sports car. In our life times I think Jack owned a Austin Healy, I had an MGB and Ted had a corvette. I blame it on that weekend, although it was one of my favorite cars and I’d love to have it back now.

We went back to the camp ground after the races on Saturday and probably had a nice dinner over the camp fire. I say probably, because my memory gets a little foggy at this point. Three of the guys were going into town to check out the local girls and Jack and I volunteered to stay in camp and protect the liquid refreshments. You know how you sometimes make bad decisions in your life. This was probably one of my worst. Some where between the time the three left for town and returned, Jack and I almost finished a bottle of 151 proof Jamaican Rum. I don’t know why, but we thought they would be mad at us for drinking it all up so we took 7 Up and filled up the bottle thinking they wouldn’t notice the difference. I think our condition gave us away. Later that evening when they were walking us to keep us awake and probably alive, they explained that they found us sitting on the picnic table talking when they returned. That in itself would not have been so bad, but the picnic table was in the lake. Don’t know how it or we got there, but after that I should have learned that drinking too much never ends well. It took me a few more years to learn moderation and now I’m lucky to have a drink or two a week and never more than one if I’m driving.


It turned out to be the last time we were all together until I got married on June 28, 1969 and they were all part of my wedding party. No we did not do the June Sprints for a bachelor party because I arrived from Japan on leave just a couple of days before our wedding and that was probably a good thing. We got together a couple of years ago and reminisced about all those past memories, including our road trip to Road America. I’m happy to say I’m still in contact with these guys, although we don’t get together very often and hopefully we will all be together to celebrate our 50th high school reunion in 2015. I’m thankful I still have friends that I have know for over 60 years. Thanks for the memories guys!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Pluralistically Ignorant

I have really not disconnected from writing, just gotten side tracked outside to the yard work and the vegetable garden. Re-fencing a 25 foot by 50 foot garden is taking a little more time than I had planned, but perhaps that's for another blog and another day.

I was looking at face book this morning and some one I know had only two words posted, "Pluralistically Ignorant". Yes I was curious and had to look it up. I won't go into the definition. You can look up the details if you care to.

My response is " I think therefore I am".
Wait, maybe it should be, I think therefore I may be ..... right, wrong or does it really matter.
I really don't have to think like everyone else because "that is the way I'm supposed to think."

It took me way too many years to figure out I really shouldn't be overly concerned with what others think because it is only an opinion they have of me or others. True friends know who I am and know what I'm about and accept me as I am, in many cases, anyway. I am opinionated, I let everyone know it and don't expect everyone or anyone to believe as I do. I've never been that convincing.

Life is just too short to get hung up on so many things that won't have any meaning tomorrow, next week or next month or even years from now. Each of us has to be responsible, but it's also OK to "lighten up" accept yourself as you are and enjoy what the day brings you.

It's too bad that it takes most of us so many years to learn that life is precious and way too short.

Enjoy Today because it truly is a gift. "Lighten Up!" Smile, Laugh, especially at yourself and do something silly and be thankful that you can.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Date Night

My wife and I have been trying to do a “date night” on the 28th of each month, or as close to that date as possible since we were married almost 43 years ago on June 28th. It doesn't always happen and sometimes it turns out to be a $1 sundae at McDonalds. This month our date night will be tonight and I don't think it will go down in the record book as being one of my wife's favorites. It's called "The Sweetheart Dinner" and is at the Legion Post in the next town over to the east, just a 15 minute drive. It's supposed to be a thank you to the wives because we are gone so much of the time doing VFW things. Yes that includes sitting in the "Main Tap" with my Comrades discussing VFW business. We don't have our own VFW Post and some of their members are also members of our VFW Post so there is no charge for the hall.

If you are a veteran you will understand the invitation which is actually funny because it says sweethearts are not provided. I had to put in a request to get married when I was in service that had to be signed all the way up the chain of command. When I first gave it to my Chief ( my direct boss) he looked at me and said, "Son, if the Navy would have wanted you to have a wife they would have issued one to you with your sea bag." I don't think he thought I was too smart getting married at 22 and planning to bring my new wife back to Japan with me. 43 years later I'm glad I ignored his advice and married the girl that is still the love of my life. Here's the invitation. Read carefully and hope you see the humor in it. The last time we were out with a bunch of sailors in Japan they had 10 drinks lined up in front of Lauralyn because they all wanted to buy her a drink for always having them over to our house when I was in port. So she's been there, but I don't think this will be one of our best date nights. Got to love a woman that still puts up with the old Sailor. She claims it was the uniform that got her.




We would like to cordially invite you to this year’s “Sweetheart Dinner”. The dinner will be held in McFarland at the American Legion Post on 24 March 2012. Roll call will be at 18:00 hours, chow will be at 18:30 hours and taps will be at 22:00 hours. Uniform is casual civilian attire and a sweetheart will not be issued so please bring your own.

Mess hall (buffet style) will be serving tasty barbecued port, chopped port and chicken. Some seasoned red potatoes, green beans and corn for sides. In addition we will have coleslaw, pasta salad, dinner rolls and for desert a beautiful sheet cake. The mess will be catered by J.L. Richards.

The cost is $10 per individual. We will have door prizes, beer and wine. Entertainment will be the stories, tales and conversations between all of our comrades.

Something tells me Lauralyn will not count this as this months date night. What do you think?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Doofus With An Opinion

First of all I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to participate in the “We The People Wisconsin, Economy Project”. I knew there would be people that would challenge our opinions and I know there are people in the world that will say black because I say white. I would hope we are all mature enough to be respectful of each others opinions, even though they may be opposite of ours and that we can all agree to disagree and still be kind to each other. I have a friend in another state that I was in the Navy with 44 years ago who is as far politically right as I seem to be left and we continue to be best friends because we respect each other and each other’s opinions.

The day after our TV spot was on there were already people posting comments that could have hurt, but they didn’t because I had learned early on not to be afraid to express my opinion. Probably why I feel comfortable writing a blog, leaving my self open to criticism and critiquing. .

One person commenting on my statement, that “I was concerned about the future of Social Security,” referred to me as a “dufus.” First of all if you look up the word in the dictionary, the most correct spelling is “doofus,” although “dufus’ is acceptable. The noun is slang and the definition is as follows: a stupid, incompetent or foolish person. Maybe we should have added the fact that my wife has a teaching degree, and taught in various places over the last 40 years; I have one in Business Administration and worked for AT&T for 30 years and Park Bank for 10 after serving in the Navy for four years with four tours in Vietnam and a year and one half in Taipei, Taiwan; our daughter-in-law has a degree as a Medical Assistant and worked for the same medical group for 12 years and our son has a degree in Studio Engineering and worked for the same church, in that capacity, for 10 years. Guess none of us are either stupid or incompetent. We have taught your children, given you medical attention, provided your communications and helped you to worship at church.

Foolish? Maybe to put our selves and our situation, affected by this economy, out there for all to see, but we don’t think so. I think there are many families, much like ours, that feel frustrated by a government, Democratic, Republican and everything in between, that has not been helping us or showing much concern for us. If politicians would spend half as much time, energy and money on the concerns of all of us, instead of getting re-elected or pushing their individual or party’s agenda, we might just be in a better place than we are now.

To those that feel a need to criticize and call us names I will pray for you to have an open mind when you watch us on TV. Please read what we actually said without interjecting, “what you think we said or were thinking”. We do respect your right to say and write what ever you feel you have to in order to get your point across or to push your agenda. Please don’t ever assume you know what we were thinking, don’t add words to what we actually said and please don‘t take us out of context. That’s a very old and not so nice political trick. GOD BLESS and PEACE to ALL!

Friday, March 2, 2012

We The People Wisconsin Economic Project

A couple of months ago my wife, Lauralyn, read an article in the Wisconsin State Journal asking for a family to volunteer for “We The People Wisconsin Economic Project”. They were looking for a family willing to talk about how the present economy has affected them. I know my wife mentioned it to all of us in the house and I for one said sure because my wife never does things like this and I didn’t really expect her to follow through on it. After I found out that she really did send a letter I almost hoped that we would not be picked. To my surprise we did get picked and the TV affiliate in Madison chose us for monthly recorded interviews with me, Lauralyn, our son David and daughter-in-law Odessa. There will be another family from the Green Bay area and one from the LaCrosse area doing the same thing with another reporter. We will have one interview per month from now until November and perhaps a live discussion on TV before the election with all three families present.

I wasn’t sure if we were really an average family, but we sure were a family that had experienced many things from the economy over the last couple of years. As most of my readers already know we did the three generational family thing mostly out of love of family and wanting to do this rather than having to do this. We had talked about this for a couple of years and saw our son and daughter-in-law being able to help us with things around the house as we got older, keep an eye on our aging process and we thought we could give them a better living arrangement than they had. We also enjoyed the long weekends that we have spent with them at our house over the last seven years. Our two families seemed to mesh very well. We looked at this as being an opportunity to see more of our grandson as he grew up and enjoy the company of our kids.

I thought back to my first home. When I was born in 1947 my parents and I and my mother’s sister and her husband all lived in a Milwaukee bungalow that my Grandpa had built. As I researched multi generational families I found out that in the 1940’s about 32% of the population lived in multi generational homes and that in 2008 that figure was up to 49%. I have a feeling that it is even higher today as I talk with friends my age. They all agreed that this situation was in part due to the economy which is much different than it was when we were their ages.

Yesterday morning a political reporter interviewed us as their video photographer recorded the event as we sat around our kitchen table. The first interview turned out to be mainly questions about who we were and how we got to this point in our lives. I plan to keep the reporters name out of my blog, but I have to let you know that she and her camera man made us feel very comfortable in a situation that might have been very stressful. After the first interview I am glad that my wife answered the call for an average family and feel that there are people out there in Wisconsin and the world that are experiencing the same things that we are and are being affected by the economy in the same way that we are.

Our whole family agrees that the average person is not being heard and that this will help us with our frustrations that government is no longer concerned with what is best for all of the people they are working for, not just the ones in their particular party. Hopefully this experience will not only be beneficial for us, but also for all those that follow our story. I’ve always looked at my life as a journey and not a destination and consider this as just another part of that journey. Life continues to be good and will only get better.

Special thanks to Tom, an old friend, who encouraged us to go through with this.

Friday, February 24, 2012

My Last Name Is Cegec

I'm friending 22 people on facebook with the last name of Cegec to find out about my relatives.

James Michael Cegec - Klarich

230 Ash St.

Oregon, Wisconsin 53575


608 - 347 - 7792

To anyone that can help me,

I am trying to find out information about my grandfather Jacob Cegec and his wife Theresa who immigrated to the United States in the early 1900’s. His father, or my great grandfather was Michael Cegec. I am 65 years old and my father is deceased and was never able to tell me much about my relatives. His father. Jacob Cegec was killed in Milwaukee WI. In 1920 in an industrial accident when my dad was only three years old. His mother remarried a man by the name of Klarich and then his mother died when he was 16 years old. My dad’s step father had my dad’s last name changed from Cegec to Klarich in 1934 and my dad didn’t know that he could change it back when he left his step father a year later when he was 17.

My dad had a brother and sister that also died when he was a child and teenager and I was told that his parents had left some of their children behind in the old country and that they never made it to America. I believe that they were from Zagreb Yugoslavia or Austria but have no documentation as to when Jacob and Theresa came to America, what ship they came on or even the correct spelling of my grandmothers last or maiden name. I am looking for anyone with the same last name of Cegec to help me find more information on my Grandparents immigration to the U.S., any aunts or uncles or cousins or other relatives that I might still have in eastern Europe.

Great Grandfather Michael Cegec

Grandfather Jacob Cegec 05/01/1889 - 07-06-1934

Grandmother Theresa Estrajher 01-06-1881 - 10-17-1936

Thank you for your help in advance, it is greatly appreciated.

James Michael Cegec - Klarich

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Not Just Another VFW Funeral

I by no means want to sound like we don’t care about every funeral that we participate in as an honor guard. It’s called an honor guard because it honors the deceased person’s service to our country and we as part of the honor guard feel it is an honor for us to say thank you for your service to our country one last time.

The honor guard duty that will be done by my post, Post 20272, Oregon-McFarland-Brooklyn, will be especially meaningful to each of it’s members this Sunday and Monday because it will be for our Post Commander, Steve Lawrence. He was only 65 and his passing was completely unexpected. We will do a VFW Pass & Review Sunday evening at the funeral home and then do our three round volley firing at the gravesite on Monday. His wife will be presented with seven of the 21 shells fired and a commemorative coin representing his service in the Navy, to our country and our VFW Post.

I have only know Steve since I joined this post about a year ago, but he was a true example of someone who was proud of his service and was willing to help fellow vets in any way that he could. He was a past State of Wisconsin VFW Commander and just retired about a month ago as Wisconsin VFW Department Adjutant Quartermaster.

I felt a special camaraderie with him because he was my age, also in the Navy, was a Communications Technician, the same rate as me and also served in Vietnam. Our paths just never crossed until I moved to Oregon about 14 months ago. I did give him a hard time when I found out he was in 22 ½ years and never went to sea and I had only been in four years and clocked 80,000 nautical miles. I did have a lot of respect for him because he spent 18 months “in country” in Vietnam and I was always sitting, fairly safely, a mile off shore on board the Oklahoma City. He joined the Naval Reserve after his active duty where he stayed until he served for a total of 22 ½ years.

I had told him on a number of occasions how welcomed I felt by this post and him compared to other posts I had been in since coming back in 1970. I also told him how much I liked the people of Oregon and my church, St John’s Lutheran. He mentioned that he was a member and planned on becoming more active in church now that he had retired. Three weeks ago and the following week he was sitting in back of me and I was glad to see him there and to be able to share the sign of peace with him. The last time I saw him was on Tuesday, February 14th when our VFW Post presented the colors before the Oregon High School Hockey play off game. I helped him load the flags back into his car, told him to have a good week and that I’d see him latter. I didn’t see him in church this past Sunday, but not everyone goes every Sunday so I didn’t give it a second thought.

He passed away this past Tuesday morning some time before eight of us were doing honor guard for a 92 year old Oregon, WI., vet‘s funeral at our local cemetery. He had not volunteered to be with us that morning and I didn’t find out about his passing until I got a phone call later that evening. Once again this reminds me of my own mortality and that it’s time to get serious about the things I still want to do while I can do them. I always feel bad when it takes something like this to remind me of how precious and short life really is. I know he will be remembered for all of the good things he did for his fellow vets and that would be a great way for anyone to be remembered. Just my usual reminder to thank a vet for their service any time you get the opportunity to do so. I know all vets appreciate hearing those words.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Grandpas and Grandsons

At times I think my Grandson G tells better stories than I write and I know many that read this are probably saying, “well that wouldn’t be too hard.” He might even tell this one a little differently than I will. As a fiction writer I take the liberty to embellish and exaggerate and he tells stories with the imagination that only a five year old has. I think there is a writing gene and I think he’ll probably have it when he learns to write. I also have to admit that my embellishing also sometimes sneaks into my blogs.

Last Monday I had a bottom filling replaced just because my dentist thought it was getting old. No big deal. About the same time my grandson realized he had a loose bottom front tooth. We got to chatting about what a filling was and that I had not had a cleaning, dental x-ray or Novocain for fillings until I got in the Navy when I was 19 years old. It’s amazing, now that I know what I know, that my teeth are as good as they are. I tried to explain that with proper brushing, cleaning by the dentist during regular twice yearly check ups and fluoride treatments he may never have a filling or crown like grandpa.

No this is not the end of the story. Not yet! Late Friday afternoon I felt like I had something stuck between the new filling and the crown behind it. I went right to the floss that immediately got stuck. I pulled on the floss and the next thing I knew the crown was floating around in my mouth. I figured that the drilling a couple of days before on the tooth next to it or them pulling off the clamp around the filling had loosened up the crown. I called my dentist and she asked me to try to get through the weekend with ibuprofen and she would get me in on Monday.

We had been talking about the “Tooth Fairy” in anticipation of our grandson’s tooth coming out in the near future so when he saw my crown, in a plastic baggie, he asked if I was going to put it under my pillow. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try because I didn’t know if I could just have the original re-cemented or if I would have to get new one for $800. Needless to say the “Tooth Fairy” did not show up and there was nothing under my pillow. The good news is that my crown is securely re-cemented into my mouth and my dentist didn’t charge me for the visit or work. She agreed it might have been connected with the work she did a couple of days earlier.

I was the first one up this morning watching the Today Show, reading the paper and having my oatmeal when Grandson G came out to show me the very first tooth that he lost. I know he was a bit nervous about the whole thought of teeth falling out. I can’t blame him for not believing us that it really doesn’t hurt and that it happens to everyone and even happened to his dog when it was a puppy. It’s something he’s never experienced before so of course he was worried. I was happy to see that everything went well and that he now realizes that there is no reason to worry about loosing baby teeth.

I just wonder what the “Tooth Fairy” will put under his pillow and if the “Tooth Fairy” will remember that she missed me last night and maybe leave something for me tonight.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Taste From The Past

I have had a craving for my mother’s Sauerbraten for at least 10 years but I’ve been afraid to try making it even though I have her recipe. It has, however, followed the path of her German Potato Salad that she made for every special dinner or picnic that we ever had. Our Daughter has come the closest to making it taste the same. The reason is that she cooks like her Grandma Margie who had recipes written down, but also tasted as she cooked.

The other day while walking through the store I found the perfect chuck roast on sale and told everyone this would be on the menu for tonight. It marinated in vinegar, water, bay leaves, a whole cut up onion and 10 black pepper corns in the refrigerator for 48 hours. At 2:30 pm today I transferred the meat and marinade into a roasting pan and cooked it for two hours. I took it out and added 35 ginger snap cookies and a whole bottle of dark Karo syrup and put it back into the oven for another hour. I then removed the meat and tried to slice it up. It was so tender and done it just fell apart as I cut it. So far so good. The ginger snaps just dissolve so all that is left is liquid and onions, peppercorns and a bay leaf. This all gets put through a strainer and is the sauce or gravy, which gets put back into the roasting pan with the meat to warm through again while the dumplings simmer for 20 minutes.

German Potato dumplings. You either love them or hate them, even if you grew up with them. My son and I love them and wife calls them wall paper paste. It’s not her fault, she’s Danish. My son, wife and I agreed that I had done very good for the first try at sauerbraten and that I can make it again. I think we have a new convert to dumplings in my daughter-in-law. I’m almost sure my mother left something out of the recipe because my son and I agreed the gravy was too sour when we were putting it through the strainer so we added some brown sugar and it was almost perfect.

Sometimes you have to even read between the lines of recipes. Memories came flooding back with each bite of sauerbraten and dumplings that I ate. We usually had it only at Christmas and some special occasions. In this case I was able to go home again, if only through my taste buds, for a short time. Enough left over’s for another meal, probably on Sunday. I’ll just have to make some more potato dumplings because there was only one left. Guess those came out ok too.

Never be afraid to try something you haven’t done before, it might turn out better than you think.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Twice In The Same Week

I really didn’t think it was possible to embarrass myself twice in the same week. Yes I did and yes it’s only Tuesday. Tuesday, January 17, 2012, my wife’s birthday. Her dinner request was to have “Taco Fest” at home. Our daughter-in-law has mastered the art of creating taco’s with everything you can think of with sides of chicken mole and home made guacamole. There are always adult beverages involved too. Beer and of course “Stinky Gringo Margareta’s.” Stay with me this is really headed somewhere.

I had to do honor guard for a funeral this afternoon, outside, temperature 20 degrees and wind blowing out of the north at 20 mph with real fine snow blowing. We also have one tomorrow with the same wind and temperature, but of course I said I’d do it again. Oscar, the coordinator and friend calls me on the phone when we have to do these. “Hi Jim, this is the Grim Reaper.” When he starts the conversation like that I know we’re going to do a funeral somewhere. He didn’t know the time for tomorrow so he said he’d call me tonight. I told him we were having a party for my wife tonight and would be home. He and the other guys were kidding that they were planning to show up. None of them did. A call came in about 6:30 pm and I didn’t look at the incoming number and answered, “party central“, just assuming it was “The Grim Reaper” to tell me where and when to show up tomorrow.

It was not the “Grim Reaper”. It was my 85 year old aunt wanting to tell me that she first got a birthday card in the mail for my wife today and that it would be late and to wish my wife a happy birthday. Now I had to explain the whole day so she wouldn’t think her nephew , who answered the phone, “Party Central”, was going nuts or worse yet had spent the whole day drinking. My aunt understood completely, I think. I really only had one beer with dinner and I didn’t stop at “The Main Tap” in town when we got done with the honor guard today to warm up.

Oh well! It could have been worse. It could have been someone from church on the phone. From now on I’m going to answer the phone, “hi, this is Jim” at least until I find out exactly who is on the other end. For those that read my blog yesterday, I let the other guys bend down to pick up the spent shell casings after we fired. I didn’t want a repeat of my holey Sunday. Any bets on how the rest of my week goes?

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just One Of Those Days

Yesterday we stopped after church at our local grocery store for a couple of get well and birthday cards, a gallon of milk, some Chinese veggies and a roll of aluminum foil. My wife dropped the aluminum foil, and I, being the gentleman that I am, bent over to pick it up. You know what’s coming next. I heard the ripping sound that no one ever wants to hear when they bend over. Yes they did rip, all the way from the zipper to my belt in the back. I stood up and my wife assured me that as long as I moved slowly and didn’t bend over everything would be fine. Just another old guy shuffling down the isle to the check out. Now these were a pair of black dress pants that were not that old and I’m not that fat. Matter of fact I’m one of those guys without a butt. Everything was fine until we walked out the door and realized that there was a wind blowing. I must have looked pretty funny trying to get to the car holding the gallon of milk behind myself trying to hide the rip in the back of my pants. I still can’t figure out how it happened, but I got picked on relentlessly at home for the rest of the day and even today. It started out with did you get holy at church today? Take my word for it that it went down hill from there.

I think the teasing is over and I never did like that pair of pants anyway. After the first time I wore them I realized they were part wool and itched when ever I was some place where it was room temperature. This is finally a good excuse to get rid of them. Unfortunately I have a pair of blue pants that are identical. I even had a suggestion that I should acquire some black underwear for when I wear dress pants.

I have only done this once before and it was at the foul line while league bowling when I was in my mid to late 20’s. Luckily a waitress had some safety pins that sort of got me through the night. I remember the guys at the bowling alley giving me such a hard time that I left immediately after I was done. I think I got ribbing from every team we bowled against for the rest of that season.

Now that you have had a good laugh on me, think back, has this ever happened to you? My wife remembered that this had happened to one of her fellow teachers in Cedarburg and that he tried to use a paper stapler to make a temporary fix. Wonder how well that worked? Well, I guess we just have to learn to laugh at ourselves, hope no one saw us and that if they did, that the picture will not keep them awake at night.

Friday, January 13, 2012


It is never to late to reconnect with people we have known in the past. It sometimes happens by accident as it did for me yesterday. I saw an email address I thought might be for my high school track coach. For some reason I felt compelled to send him an email wondering if he was my coach H and if he remembered me after 47 years. I just wanted him to know that he was a very positive influence on at least one student during his teaching/coaching career. As a senior in High School I probably didn’t feel comfortable telling him how much he meant to me and what a great coach I thought he was. I’m glad that I finally got the chance to do that.

He emailed back last night, even though he was only hours away from leaving for a vacation in Hawaii, to let me know that he did indeed remember me, that my email meant a lot to him and that he would like to reconnect with me when he returned. If there is someone in your life that meant a lot to you or made a difference in your life take a minute to send them a note or call them. It can mean more to them then you will ever know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

AT&T Pioneers

I’m still alive and well, just couldn’t get inspired this month to write about anything until today. Today I reconnected with some old friends and I’m on my way to making some new ones. I am once again getting involved with the AT&T Pioneers, the volunteer organization for current and retired AT&T employees. I was a life member, but became inactive when I retired in 2000 and worked for Park Bank for 10 years. Working seems to get in the way of volunteering if you let it. A friend from church, fellow VFW member and also retired AT&T employee asked on Sunday if my wife and I would like to go along with them to their monthly luncheon meeting today. They even picked us up. I took this as an omen to get off my lazy butt and serve in one more capacity which I enjoy doing and which gives me immeasurable satisfaction.

If you have never heard of the “AT&T Pioneers” it’s a nation wide group of 325,000 current and retired employees that volunteer for many different things. They celebrated their 100th anniversary in November 2011. In 2011 they collected 50,000 pounds of food, donated 25,000 cell phones and many, many care packages to U.S. Service Men and Women, continued to repair talking books for the blind, sponsor Honor Flights for WW II Vets, mentor students and too much more to include here. It brought back fond memories of beeper base ball for the blind, doing habitat with them, Santa Flights in the cold at the Reserve base in Madison, Stand Downs for homeless Vietnam Vets in the fall and enjoying the camaraderie and fun that we had volunteering together

This is a thank you to all who have been or continue to be volunteers, especially the ones you never hear about. Thinking about my good friends in Menomonee Falls and my son-in-law. You know who you are and all that you do and I know this country is going to need more and more volunteers to move forward. If you haven’t tried it, please do because everyone has a talent they can share. If you are in Dane County Wisconsin just go to the RSVP site on your computer and they can match your talent to their needs. I’m sure most counties or cities have something similar.

Thanks to all who volunteer