I got up early

I get up early almost every morning to see if anyone has published any of my work. My articles usually get published around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. It wasn’t yet dawn but the sky was beginning to get brighter. I grabbed a banana, a glass of vegetable juice and my laptop and headed for the back porch.

The air still had the nighttime crispness to it. The kind of freshness that you only get in the late summer/early fall. The birds hadn’t started their morning song yet but the crickets and frogs were going full tilt. I love hearing the crickets and frogs.

There were a few other sounds in my neighborhood, My a dog barking in the distance and the low quiet hum of traffic passing a few blocks away. The neighborhood was quiet until my neighbor started his car to go to work. Other than that it was fairly quiet and I was enjoying it. Our neighborhood is comparatively serene. A few of my neighbors are retired and they don’t have anywhere to go that early in the morning. I would say it is a sleepy little neighborhood.

 Another advantage to where I live is that you can’t get anywhere by driving through it. The only cars I see belong to residents and the people who are lost.

The light from the moon was augmented by the street light filtering thru the leaves of our maple tree.  Between the two sources, there was just enough light so I wouldn’t step on something. The leaves of the trees hadn’t started to turn yet, but I knew it would not be long before their stately mantle would be on the ground, being strewn about by the wind.

I watched a cat slink across my back yard, looking for a meal when it spotted me. It froze hoping I wouldn’t see it and stared at me, watching to see what I was going to do. When it decided I wasn’t a threat, it continued across my yard, under my fence and disappeared behind my neighbor’s house.

A cool breeze kissed my face and sounded the wind chimes I have on my back porch. Listening to the wind chimes is very soothing to me and we leave some of them out year round. Unfortunately, the gentle breeze brought the pungent odor of a skunk with it. The skunk wasn’t nearby so it was only a slight wisp of a smell though.

I’ve been trying not to listen to those people who are talking about the end of summer, trying to pretend they are wrong, that these long, lovely days will never end. But in the early mornings, I can smell, hear and feel fall coming.

It is still light out enough evenings to fool us all into thinking that we have more time. And my wife and I will delay dinner until 7 p.m., to take advantage of that time. Playing cards outside until dark, but then we have to move inside until bedtime. Gone are the nights sitting on our porch swing until 10 o’clock.

Very soon it’s going to be time to change the clocks. Finally the clock in my car will be right once again. I never did learn how to set that damned clock. How does the axiom go? Is it fall back or fall forward? We must have 12 to 15 clocks that will need resetting: vehicle clocks, alarm clocks, a clock radio, the clock on the stove, clock on our phone and one on the microwave. The list seems endless and that’s just downstairs. It’s an all-day job. Everything else resets itself.

As I think about it, I am retired with nothing to do, why do I need so many clocks? The only room in my house that doesn’t have a clock is my bathroom. I get up when I am awake, eat when I am hungry and go to bed when I am tired. But I digress.

These late summer days won’t last long, I know that. The older grandchildren have gone off to college and the younger ones will be back at school before long. They won’t be spending all day with us like they did over the summer, until the next school vacation.

The leaves will soon start turning a kaleidoscope of colors signifying the shorter days and longer nights. Soon, I’ll all be switching the position of the lawn mower and the snow blower in our garage.

But that’s all for later. Right now is a good time to put off whatever it is you wanted do inside until after dark, step outside and just smell the air. Soon we won’t be able to breathe the fresh air outdoors without bundling up against the cold.

So, step outside. Look at the trees, look at the sky, and enjoy the scents of late summer. Take advantage of the daylight and walk through a park if you can — or just walk around the block. Fire up the grill, cook the last few hot dogs of summer and eat your dinner outside.

But, as we all know, these days won’t last forever. Winter is coming, with its cold winds, snow, icy roads and slick sidewalks and then it will be time to put on our boots and snow tires. Norb is a freelance journalist from Lockport NY.

Handicapped parking

On a Facebook group I am in, “Buffalo & WNY seniors group 55 and older” there was a debate going on about Handicapped parking places.The story started with a post by someone that said “I went shopping yesterday at a local produce market. I witnessed a SUV parked on the diagonal lines between the handicapped spaces. There was a sign stating No Parking Anytime. No sticker in the window either. I asked in the store if I could speak to a manager. The cashier asked if she could help so I indicated that maybe they should phone the police. The poor girl gave me a sheepish grin & confessed that the vehicle belonged to her manager…  I was so stunned I just left.”

The post garnered 215 comments in the first 24 hours. One of the first comments was by someone named Rocky who said  ”Nevermind , it’s not your business !!” and somebody else said “I think your a busy body who is just itching for trouble. I agree with Rocky mind your business. Most who have legal handicap stickers do not really need them. This is one of the most abused privileges ever.” (Misspelling is the way they were posted)

I take offense to this. In the interest of transparency, I have a handicapped parking tag due to multiple health problems. Two of which are COPD and Peripheral Neropathy. I am mostly limited to the first floor of my house and rarely get to go out, usually only going out to doctor’s appointments. If it is too hot or too humid, I normally don’t leave the safety of my home that has the air conditioner running because I can’t breathe. If it is snowy or icy I stay home for fear I am going to fall down breaking something. I have fallen or slipped on several occasions, one time breaking my leg.

Someone stated “(This) Frustrates me, too, when someone sits in the car in a handicap spot!! Very inconsiderate of those of us who truly need the handicap spot and one isn’t available.” A person who responded wrote “I’m sure it was only for a very brief time. Maybe (they were) making a bank run or whatever.”

This is frustrating for me also. One of the times I collapsed, I was going to a medical appointment in a building on a main street. All the street parking, handicapped spots in front of the building were taken so I went to the side parking lot.

All the handicapped spots were taken there also, some of them by handicapped mini busses. They were there because the company that owns them was also in the same building. That is where the busses are parked when they were not in use. Because of this I had to park at one of the farthest spots in the lot.

After I had parked, I had to take a long walk across the sun baked, blacktop parking lot causing me to overheat. I had walked within 10 feet of my destination when my body gave out and I collapsed. This necessitated a call for a very expensive ambulance trip to the hospital.  If I was able to get a handicapped spot, I would have made it to my destination without a problem.

For some of us it is the whole difference between being able to shop and not being able to shop. I head out on a “good” day at a time the stores are less likely to be busy, only to find someone parking in the diagonal line area. This prevents me from getting in and out of my car because I need to be able to open the car door wide.

And yes, sometimes it is necessary for me to be out even on a bad day. People only see the cane I use. I see people thinking as I walk by, that I don’t look like I need a handicapped parking permit. But handicapped people are not all in wheelchairs.

According to the ADA, private businesses and public agencies must make available a stipulated number of handicapped parking spaces. They must be a minimum size and have the proper signs. The specified spaces can be used only by people with a handicap windshield placard or license plate that was issued by the state. Handicapped spaces must be located at a location that affords the shortest and most trouble-free route to an entrance of the building that is handicap-accessible.

I had discussions with my doctor about getting a handicapped hang tag for over a year.  He felt I should have one but I saw it as giving in so I told him I didn’t want one. I knew in my heart I needed one but my mind was just not ready to accept that. Finally I broke down and had him fill out the paper work. I then took it to the city clerk who issued a permit.

By the way, if a doctor signs those forms without a viable medical diagnosis to back it up or just to collect payments from Medicare or Medicaid, it is called fraud. A doctor who commits fraud can lose his or her license.

Norb is an independent journalist and blogger from Lockport, New York.

Surviving childhood in the 50’s and 60’s

 

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If you grew up during the 50s or 60s, then you are familiar with how laissez-faire things used to be. We didn’t have very many “low calorie” foods, ate what we wanted, and we were afforded much more leeway than we should have had. There’s a pretty good reason why kids today aren’t allowed to do half the things that we did, but maybe, that’s a good thing.

Parents then were much less worried about what they gave us to play with. I’m referring to toys with choking hazards, lead paints and sharp metal pieces. I remember playing mumblypeg. This is a game kids (mostly boys) used to play on the playground where they stand with their feet shoulder width apart while throwing a pocket knife between their own feet. The boy who gets closest to his own foot wins. Getting the knife in your foot was an automatic win. It’s a surprise that we made it out of childhood intact. Why more kids weren’t injured playing Jarts or using easy bake ovens I’ll never know

We were never forced to wear seatbelts by your parents. Hell, most vehicles didn’t have more than lap belts in the front seat. The absence of seatbelts indicated that you could sit anyplace you wanted. The most coveted seat was then the middle seat in the front. This is when front seats were bench seats.

When you sat there, you could control which radio station you listened to. I always flipped it to WKBW, 1520 “The music people.”  WKBW dominated the Top 40 radio market in the Western New York area during the 1960’s. You also got the security of mom’s arm flung across your chest if your father stopped quickly. My favorite spot, riding in the car although was the “way back” as I called it. This was the cargo area behind the back seat of my parent’s station wagon.

However the very best place to ride was in the back of a pickup truck. No seat belt, no roof overhead, just sun in your face and the wind in your hair. A friend’s father even had an old school bus seat in the back of his pickup where we could sit.

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Back then, parents really didn’t grasp the need for safety. Kids raced around on their bikes or roller skates without head protection, knee or elbow pads. You learned how to fall so you didn’t land and split your head open, skin your knee or break any bones.

Probably one of the biggest of the “what the hell were we thinking” moments of the ’50s and ’60s was “skitching.”  is a combination of SKIing and hITCHING. In its basic form, skitching was as easy as finding a slippery, snow-covered road or parking lot, and a passing car bumper.

The skitcher grabs the bumper, flexes their knees, and skis on the bottom of thier shoes through the snow. The car does the work and the skitcher enjoys the ride. Skitching is believed to have originated in urban areas in northern New York, probably cities like Buffalo with a regular snowfall (http://skiernet.com).

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In the playground in the summer I remember swinging with my buddies so vigorously that the legs of the swing set would come off the ground. We would jump off the moving swing and would be flying through the air. You had to learn how to “tuck and roll” so when you landed, you would not break any bones. We also had the burns that we got going down the blazing hot metal slides during the summer. We would steal our mother’s wax paper and slide on it. Waxing the slide would make it that much faster.

There wasn’t a nice soft rubber landing area in the playgrounds back then, either it was dirt or asphalt. And of course we had the Playground merry go round. That steel disk that went in a circle powered by your legs and could whip you around and around. Hang on tight!

If you had a younger sibling, then you would be given the task of watching them after school. You didn’t require any special training to be able to babysit. As long as you were 13 and could dial the operator, then you could babysit the neighbor’s kids when they went out. It was an acceptable practice during that era.

There weren’t health foods either things like quinoa, tofu or kale weren’t readily available back then. The less time it took your mother to pack your school lunch, the better. A whole generation grew up on Skippy PB&J sandwiches on Wonder Bread, a small bag of Wise potato chips and a pack of Hostess Twinkies,

There was no escape the pervasive cloud of cigarette smoke in the 50’s and the 60’s. From airplanes to restaurants to automobiles. There weren’t any limitations on where you were able to smoke. We most likely breathed in much more secondhand smoke when we were young than most people do today in thier lifetime.

We played stickball in the streets and went swimming in the quarry on East Amherst Street. There were no structured play dates and no cell phones. Yeah, being a kid in the ’50s and ’60s wasn’t without it’s hazards but we managed to survive.

 

The Wall :) /s

brown wall stone
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This is a satirical piece. Be sure to read it to the end before you blow a gasket. We need a wall! I know this is might prove to be a very unpopular article but it is just the way I feel. I have never steered away from controversial topics and I am not going to start avoiding them now.
We need to keep the unwanted types from entering our great country. I am not referring to the very controversial boundary wall along the Mexican border but a wall between the United States and Canada. I know it might be hard to build a wall up the middle of Lake Ontario, Erie, Huron and Superior but maybe we can come to some kind of compromise between the Canadians and us.
Maybe they can help us build the wall. This could be a retractable wall so it could come down in the summer to allow us all to enjoy our great lakes. We put up an ice dam every winter to protect the power plant, maybe we could just make it a floating wall like that is. But the wall between us in the lakes will have to be very high to stop this foreign invasion.
Every year, during the winter the border crossings increase and I am sick of this. It has to stop! Canada should keep their problems on their side of the border. INS seems to be helpless in stemming this problem and I don’t know if they can. I don’t think they have the ability, the finances or the manpower.
We don’t seem to have this problem in the summer but as soon as the weather starts to change and the temperatures start to drop, the trouble starts all over again. Some years are better than others but we just can’t always predict how bad it will be. Many have tried but few have succeeded.
This invasion is so bad that you can watch it’s progress every night on the local news. Sometimes it has even made the national news. Our neighbors to the north don’t seem to care or even do very much about these border crossings. This invasion is even worse than the one caused by the “Mexican Caravan” as it effects every person living in Western New York. If we know it is coming then why, oh why, can’t we prevent it?
Sure we have customs and border patrol at all the main ports of entry but much of this blows right past them or even crosses the border in unprotected places. When this incursion reaches my home, I try to stay inside with the doors closed and latched, hoping that they will hold well enough to prevent the infiltration that could cause me to become another statistic.
Sometimes I stay in my bed, trying to ignore what is going on bet it seems like every television station had a person dedicated to telling us how bad it is going to be.
The problem I am talking about of course is the Arctic blasts that we get here every winter in Western New York. That Canadian import that comes across the lakes and dumps snow on all of us. We have to put up with school closings, shoveling, sub-freezing temperatures and icy roads because of them.
Just so you know, I have nothing against Canadians in fact I love our neighbors to the north. Both my grandfather and my wife’s grandfather are from Canada. I just don’t care for their weather. Be safe, stay warm and drive carefully.
Norb is a writer from Lockport, New York.

Winter driving: Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Winter can be a very hazardous time of the year especially in Western New York, sunny one minute, and a blizzard 3 miles down the road. It pays to prepare yourself for the unexpected by having a few supplies and by following some simple safe driving guidelines to insure that you arrive at your destination.

First off prepare your vehicle for winter driving. Dependable transportation is important in the winter. It is very important to get it checked to avoid any unpleasant or perilous circumstances. You should inspect the following prior to winter, the Ignition system, belts, fluid levels including washer fluid, wiper blades, tires, cooling system, battery, lights and antifreeze. Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. Keeping your tank as full as possible will minimize condensation and could prove helpful if you are stranded.

Before driving, clear off all windows and lights and the hood and roof of frost and snow. Drive with your headlights on. Stock your car with basic winter driving equipment. A scraper and brush, jumper cables, and a bag of sand or cat litter for tire traction. Also include a blanket, heavy boots, warm clothing, and flashlight with batteries. Reverse the batteries in the flashlight to avoid accidentally turning it on and draining them.

When driving, leave sufficient room for stopping, drive according to the conditions and use brakes sensibly. Brake early. It takes more time and distance to stop in winter conditions. Bridge decks might freeze before the roads do due to the fact they are open to the cold on both sides. Roads are exposed to the weather on only one side.

Don’t use the “cruise control” when you drive in wintry conditions. Even roads that seem perfect can have black ice and the smallest touch of your brakes to disable the cruise control can make you lose control of your vehicle.

Don’t get arrogant in your 4×4 vehicle. Remember that, if you are driving a four wheel drive vehicle, it may help you get going faster but it won’t help you stop any better. Many 4×4’s are heavier than passenger vehicles and in fact may take longer to stop.

Look further ahead in traffic than you usually do. Movements by cars and trucks will alert you earlier to difficulties and give you additional time to respond safely. Remember that trucks weigh more than cars and take more time to come to a complete stop, so avoid pulling ahead quickly in front of them.

Remember that the road in front of the plow is frequently in much worse shape than behind the plow. Plows will typically travel slower and there is always a temptation to pass them. For your safety, I recommend that you stay a safe distance behind snowplows.

When you see an approaching snow plow on a roadway, move as far away from the center line as you safely can because blowing snow may hide the actual width of the snowplow’s blade.

If stranded, call 911 on your cell phone and when you talk to authorities, be prepared to describe your location and the trouble you are experiencing. Listen for questions. Follow any instructions. They may tell you should stay where you so they can guide rescuers. Don’t hang up before you know who you are speaking with and what will take place next.

Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You might lose your way, wander away, become exhausted and collapse risking your life. Your vehicle itself is a good shelter. Avoid overexertion. Attempting to push your car, trying to jack it into a new position or shoveling snow takes a lot of work in storm conditions. You might risk heart attack or other injury. The storm will eventually end and you will be found. Don’t work so hard as to get hot and sweaty. Wet clothing loses insulation value making you more vulnerable to the results of hypothermia.

Keep fresh air in your vehicle. It is better to be chilly or cold and alert than to become comfortably warm and slip into unconsciousness. Keep the radiator unrestricted by snow to preclude the engine from overheating. Start the engine at 10 to 15 minute intervals for heat. Freezing-wet or wind-driven snow can plug your vehicle’s exhaust system permitting lethal carbon monoxide gas to go into your vehicle. Don’t run the engine unless you are positive the exhaust pipe is clear of snow or other objects.

Keep your blood circulating freely by undoing tight fitting clothing, changing positions frequently and moving your arms and legs. Don’t anticipate being comfortable. The task is to stay alive until you’re found. Make yourself noticeable to rescuers. Tie a bright cloth to your antenna or door handle if possible.

If you skid, don’t panic. You need to keep your head clear when you go into a skid, because your “instinctive” reactions are apt to do more damage than good. Second, keep your eyes focused on something in the distance. Choose a point further down the road in the direction you want to head and stay focused on this object. With this object in view, you’ll be better able to steer your car so that it is traveling in the correct direction.

Most importantly please remember to SLOW DOWN! Also, seat belts should be used at all times, it’s the law.

Norb is a columnist and worked as a safety professional in Lockport. He wants you be as safe as possible when driving this winter.