Monday, May 22, 2017


The man that I married 49 years ago is still the man I'm married to today. Back in 1968, Barry was funny yet serious, thoughtful yet forgetful, generous yet thrifty, and outgoing yet humble.. I think those four qualities were what I liked most about him then and continue to appreciate now. Because of these attributes, he's always been able to provide all the necessities of life for our family and then some. He puts everybody and everything ahead of his own needs and wants. Actually Barry has a hard time allowing himself even the most mundane of items. Last week while shopping at Wal-Mart, he mentioned he probably could use another pair of workout pants, but didn't buy any. I had to literally drag him to the Tee shirts to pick out a few he's talked about for months.

So for his birthday this year, I decided I was going to buy him something he'd never dream of getting for himself. We have a 32" TV in our family room that has poor sound and seeing the number of pitches in a ballgame is next to impossible. Sooooooo...on Friday, my neighbor,Ben, his buddy, Stricko, and I drove to Wal-Mart and picked up a 50" SAMSUNG 4K UDH TV with all the bells and whistles. Tonight Ben and his wife, Delcie, are going to knock on our door and yell, 'SURPRISE!' Ben will hook everything up, and, voila, a happy, happy birthday present for my hubby that will totally knock him off his feet, and one that he absolutely deserves!

Monday, May 15, 2017


My nephew, Christopher, my brother's only child, has been either in juvie, jail or prison for more years than he has been free. At the age of seventeen, he began his illustrious life of crime when he mugged an elderly woman for drug money. First he went to juvenile detention, then upon turning eighteen, he landed in county jail. Since that first stint, Chris has bounced from jail to rehab to jail to rehab until he finally made it to the big house, state prison in Hautsville, PA where he currently resides.

Christopher is now thirty-seven years old with nothing positive to show for his time on this earth. His father and mother have passed, his girlfriend is in jail as well, and his two daughters are in foster care.

I received a letter from my nephew last week saying he'd be out in November, 2018, that he has turned his life around but has nowhere to go or no one to depend on. I assume Chris is playing his trump card, 'make Aunt Flo feel guilty enough so she'll let me stay with her,' but I don't intend to cave. Every single time he's professed to have given up his life of crime, he's duped the folks who were kind enough to give him a second, third, fourth......umpteenth chance. I might not be the brightest bulb in the pack, but I'm not that stupid!

Chris was adopted, and from what we were told, his biological parents were addicts. I'm certain he was born with both alcohol and drug syndrome, and has had a propensity for both since birth. I suppose you could say he never really had a chance from the get-go, but I respectfully disagree. My brother and sister-in-law provided a great home, sent their son to a good school, and made sure all of his needs were met. Hell, this kid had everything he ever wanted and then some! His extended family adored him. We were always together for birthdays, holidays, vacations, and ordinary pop-in visits.

He had it all, but Chris chose a wasted life. The first time I visited him in jail, I posed this question, "Will this be the one and only time you'll be here, or will you be like that gray-haired guy down in the common area twenty years from now?" He looked me square in the eyes and promised he'd never be jailed again.

Well it's been exactly twenty years and he remains behind bars. What a waste!

Monday, May 8, 2017


Last week we had a new floor installed in our livingroom, and carpeting for all three bedrooms, the hall and the stairs. Floran, born in Romania, and Nick of similar descent, laid the flooring with acute precision. Each plank and molding, every placement, cut, and connection, was set as if painted on a canvas then carefully scrutinized before executing another 'brushstroke.' These men were in no hurry to finish the job but rather had intentions of creating an exquisite masterpiece.  They worked in beautiful harmony, seeming to know each other's needs without a single word spoken. As I marveled at their expertise, I couldn't help but think of how devoid our country is of skilled craftsmen today.

Dave and Brennan planned out the carpet installation before even bringing one roll of product through the door. They prepared each room so that they could work efficiently without having to spend time on moving furniture more than once. They removed the old stuff quickly, and then began to seamlessly transform each space into an elegant, plush surface. Watching Brennan cover the stairway with such artistic accuracy, I was again reminded that in today's high-tech world people who work with their hands have somehow been relegated to the uneducated unfortunates. THIS COULD NOT BE FURTHER FROM THE TRUTH IN MY OPINION!

Funny how things that are relevant to my point of view seem to pop up exactly when needed. In this morning's Tribune-Review, Debra Erdley's front page article, 'No catch' academy offers security, substantiates everything I've presented in this post's first two paragraphs. According to Erdley, The Apprentice School in Newport News,VA, one of only a handful in the U.S., has been training young men and women for over 100 years to become skillful in shipbuilding-related jobs. This educational institution is closely aligned with Huntingdon Ingalls Industries' Newport News Shipbuilding, turning out professionals who can not only do the required work but do it to perfection.

Each year The Apprentice School receives over 4000 applications, but unfortunately can accept just 250 lucky high school graduates. Now here's the 'no catch', these chosen few pay no tuition, but are considered to be Huntingdon Ingalls employees, are paid a salary, and are guaranteed a job upon completing the four year program. No student loans to burden them over a lifetime, no sir-ree!

For years I've been saying that college is not for everybody and should only be considered if going into a specialized area of education. Too many college graduates come out of school with no more clarity of what it is they want to do than when they first entered their respective hallowed halls of higher learning. There is a viable alternative however, one of providing our young people with apprenticeships that will produce skilled craftsmen for hundreds of workplaces in need. More and more schools like the one in Newport News, whose missions would be to set up training courses to meet the needs of our country's growth and development are the way to go. Bricklayers, plumbers, oil riggers, electrical engineers, flooring experts, and carpet installers to name just a few are in high demand, and would be better educated with hands-on experiences taught by a master craftsman instead of sitting in a college classroom for hours on end merely reading and listening to what their prospective careers will entail.

On a personal note, living in my Zedo's house from birth, I had the distinct privilege of watching him build furniture, fix leaky pipes, and wire electrical outlets flawlessly. He cemented walkways, created trellises for grapes and climbing ivy, put in a retaining wall, and grew a garden that could feed an army, and he could do all of this by acquiring those skills from watching and learning from his father. My Zedo never spent a day in college, and yet he was a master craftman in building, plumbing, wiring, masonry, and agriculture.

Let's return to the days of yore when apprentices became masters that provided our country with the skilled workers needed to complete the jobs in all areas with precision and beauty!

Monday, May 1, 2017


Last Friday I posted this little story on my FB page. I never imagined what happened next. Over 1500 responses poured in with people saying how touched they were by this one act of kindness and thanked me for sharing it. Mostly though, folks expressed their sadness over the fact that there were so few such cases of generosity in the world today. Their lamentation got me thinking. What if everyone who has experienced something wonderfully unexpected posted it for all to appreciate? Perhaps then our views of just how much goodness exists all around us would expand our hopes for a better tomorrow. So please take a minute or two to tell us about your 'wonderfully unexpected' moment. You'll never know just how much good sharing it will do for your family and friends. Thanks, love ya'll

An Act of Kindness:
So my hubby and I are in McDonald's waiting in line behind a big, hard-working man. He turns toward us and asks, "What do you want?"
Now I can see that the man is talking to the fellow behind me, but Barry thinks he's talking to him. "I'm not sure yet, but I'll probably go with a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit and a coffee," says my clueless hubby.
"Okay, and what can I get for you, ma'am," the man offers me along with a great big grin!
I find this whole episode amusing, and go with it. "Make mine an egg McMuffin and a soda, please."
The fellow behind us wants a McGriddle, fries and a large coffee.
When the cashier starts ringing up the total, the hard-working gentleman reminds her to include our order as well. When I try to dissuade him, he assures me that it is his pleasure. His coworker tells me his boss is very charitable and actually looks for ways to be generous. "To refuse his kindness would be offensive," he tells me.
We graciously accept, and as we talk we find out these two strangers who are no longer strangers work in flooring. I told them that I intend to pay it forward.
If you are looking for flooring of any kind, see:
Doug Fricks
Forsure Flooring, LLC
Liberty Boro.
After hearing this story, you know Doug will treat you with and honest estimate and give you the best possible price. And tell him the two old folks from McDonald's sent you!