In A Relationship….

It seems today we feel driven  to describe our feelings in abstract or subtle ways. We used to be dating, going steady, or just in love. That would be far too obvious today. I am just seeing someone. Romantic, huh? Significant other? I guess so but just how significant?  It seems we want to take our interactions on a scale from one to ten to see how real they are. Okay Kath, I feel 9.999 for you. 

Rather than trying to quantify I want to just take the concept for a moment. Webster tells us the definition or relationship: the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected. Objects? You mean I can have a thing for my car?920x920.jpg Some people do. Many of us feel strongly about our ideologies or political bents. I guess the description is apt but are we giving short shrift to our humanity. 

As you may realize I am finally coming out of my shell and reaching out here and there. The last few days are somewhat typical. On Sunday we played golf with a very nice couple whom we had never met before. You spend four hours on a golf course and you start to get to know them. A really pleasant afternoon. Winning second place in the tournament doesn’t hurt the rapport either. Chalk up one for the good guys. 

Yesterday I started off at hospice. I met four entirely different sets of patients and their families. I am always somewhat astounded when in the final hours of someone’s life you take it from zero to sixty in a matter of moments. You surmise the situation and try to figure out the best way to play it. In the end you are as sincere and open as possible and miraculously you watch shades of doubt or mistrust disappear. Good stuff.

Later on in the day I got into it with a provider who in my mind had screwed up. Rash assumptions, and of course my Irish, amped the situation intolerably. Slammed phones, veiled threats and of course the walking away, wiped out  all the good points I had accumulated from my morning toils. Worse was the regret and angst over what was said. About .0005 on the relationship  scale. images-3.jpeg

But I have to ponder further. I have a lot of meeting opportunities from friends, and colleagues to a woman at the gas station counter. I try to make the most of each one. I think the first key is openness. You can be aloof or private if it is your thing. I like to see how many times I can interact if in just the briefest way. I am not trying to invade your space but maybe just tell you it nice to have you around on this big blue marble. 

The more you get into it, the more complex. Let’s say you and I are just shooting the breeze. We do small talk. Then at some point a topic pops up that is of mutual interest. You take one track and moi either agrees or perhaps has different point of view. You can slam the door right there and move on. Or you can see if there is common ground to see if you can move this thing forward. 

Things start to get dicey. If I show my true colors will they be scorned or God forbid totally ignored? This relationship thing is really a matter of trust! As you feel more comfortable you reveal more about you and your beliefs. Any strong tie will have opposing forces. Can you accept that or is it your way or the highway? Make or break time, dead ahead. 

Every day whether it is at work, church or the local gin mill you run into people you have seen and possibly met before. You don’t remember their name so you say, “Hey buddy how is it going?” ( Please note big guy, my man or good looking can be interchanged here). Unknown-2.jpeg 

Why do I reach out and want to find out more? Am I just plain nosy or inclusive? Excellent question. I guess I enjoy all different types of people. My friendship palate is not terribly discerning. I am an equal opportunity glad hander. In my mind the more open I am to possibilities the more interesting and fulfilling my life will be. Selfish isn’t it?

I went to church with a friend one Sunday and afterwards we went to Publix to get some bagels  for breakfast. I proceeded to say hello to workers at the floral, deli and meat counter. My buddy looked at me incredulously as if I was embarrassing him. He wanted to put distance between him and this lunatic. Even as I explained why, he wasn’t buying it. Interestingly this friend doesn’t  let you get past the surface. In conversation when you approach dangerous territory his arms get folded and the body language of “Don’t go there!” gets exhibited. Or he just changes the conversation. I get it.

I am not trying to criticize or put down anyone who does not share my enthusiasm for pressing the flesh. I guess I just want to let you know of all the fun I have with people. When you put on a big smile or unabashedly give a compliment, or even better yet get into a deep conversation there is just this stupid thing that makes you feel very much alive. My tragic flaw.

Simply put, I am in a relationship with everything and everyone  I see. I hope that does not sound too haughty or outlandish. Sometimes I get it right and sometimes I screw up beyond compare.That’s what happens.  But at least I am trying and that’s the fun part. Hope you do too.  

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Hugging is inappropriate today but it is a proven stress reliever. How’s that for conflicting sides?

Intelligent people have fewer friends than an average person. Not because they are repulsive to anyone but because smart persons are very picky when it comes to friends. Uh Oh! Not good for TTG.Unknown-3.jpeg

Those women who spend more of their time with male friends than they do with female friends are generally more often in a good mood.

Being alone for a long time is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day

We’re losing friends at an alarming rate. The average number of confidants in the average person’s life has fallen by a third in the past 20 years. Now, twice as many people have no confidants at all!

Thanks A Million…

 

Unknown.jpegIt is almost upon us. The day on which we give thanks. Kind of odd we have to set aside a certain time to do this but let’s run with it. I looked up thanks in the dictionary and my eyes caught a corresponding word, gratitude. If you are like me you probably thought they were the same. Apparently not so

I read a short treatise that explained gratitude is a concrete response to something someone has given you. Thanks is more a feeling of wellness that doesn’t need someone else for you to have. That’s right,You kind of get in your cocoon and feel good about yourself.  What was I thinking? Splitting hairs seems to be what we do these days. 

Whether I am grateful or thankful I have to start my list with my wife. No, I am not pandering. I just started thinking about the concept that this lady and I have been together over fifty years, two thirds of our lives.  We have weathered all sorts of tough spots and enjoyed some great ones. We zigged and zagged and yet all along we have stayed together. Simply amazing.

Our meeting was random. Kismet or happenstance? Who cares. When we look at our family of three children, their spouses and seven grandchildren and how everybody happened to be in these particular places we have to be thankful. People and ways of life and talents and personalities all melding and working toward a goal? That is simply a miracle. 

I have got to think about our country that we take so much for granted. Whether you are in a mansion or a one bedroom in a barrio, you have a roof over your head. You are really free to do what you want and think in strange and mysterious ways. images.jpegYou can get on a train or plane or car and just drive to the far reaches. That mobility does not exist in a refugee camp in Syria or Jordan. Your will is only sort of free in China. 

I am going to get selfish and say thanks for who I am. I have traveled to so many places since a childhood in a little village on Long Island. I navigated a train and three subways to get to high school in New York City….at the age of thirteen! I survived Georgetown and a stint in the Navy that included a slight detour in Viet Nam. I have had many careers and somehow managed to stay afloat financially. I am galled when someone says you earned it. I am just stupid lucky. 

I have been given a vivid imagination and unbridled energy. Some of you have experienced my irrational exuberance and man does it feel good to get excited about something. I am so fortunate to be able put words on a page that some of you might identify with. Maybe spark an idea or touch your heart. You don’t think I am thankful for that?

I am grateful for our government no matter how screwed up it is. In theory we are able to cast our ballot for this way or that. We decry the effect of big business and money but the sheer absurdity is that only 50% of us vote. We take it for granted or are too busy in life to decide our future. We get pissed off at politicos and yet acquiesce when the rubber really meets the road. images.png

I am thankful I have a God. That is not proselytizing but bringing up a belief I hold. It says that I have someone other than myself to praise. Could be God, The Father, Buddha, Allah or Yahweh but it someone or  thing to be beholden to. I am not at the center of my universe. There is hope of more to come. As I sit with a dying person who is not religious it seems impossible to believe this is all there is. But that is just me. 

Last I am just glad I have feelings and if you can call it that, a heart. I am not afraid to care or cry. I hug and I hold and really don’t ask permission. To me that is the essence of being human and being alive. To feel joy and pain. To look out the window and wonder at a pond or a forest. To see fifty shades of green and not just a row of trees. What a kick!

Thanksgiving should be every day. I am not so pompous or pious to say that I get it all the time. Truth I had to really think this all through on my keyboard. Meditating so to speak. I am not grateful every day and shame on me. 

But then again that is why I am a mere mortal, warts and all. Thank you for listening. You are all, one of those things I am so grateful for. Or thankful..or whatever. 

As Always

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Americans consume 736 million pounds of turkey on Thanksgiving Day alone (about the weight of the Empire State Building).A person consumes 3000 calories at the feast. 

About 200 million pounds of turkey will be thrown away at Thanksgiving. More than 150 million pounds of potatoes, green beans and other vegetable sides will never get eaten. Bread baskets will be filled with an estimated 14 million pounds of dinner rolls that will simply be dumped after the big meal.images-2.jpeg

Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States, Canada and some Caribbean islands on different dates. Throughout the world there are festivals like Oktoberfest. They  represent thanks after the harvest. For the most part it has had a religious significance but recently we have tend to be more secular. 

Many department stores will open on the afternoon of tHanksgiving. That’s even though the idea of going to the mall on a day traditionally reserved for excessive eating, football watching and arguing with relatives is viewed negatively by a majority of Americans, according to one recent survey.

Words…

images-8.jpegAs I sit down to write this latest epistle I am amazed at how long I have been at this. In December it will be ten years. The average Ted’s Head is 1,000 words so when I do the math it means I am approaching 500,000 words in print in the archives. You poor sick people. There are a few of you who have claimed to have read every one of them. They correspond to me often from their latest mental institution. 

There are times when I am serious and others when I am just hacking around. I have more than a number of misspellings, crappy punctuation  or probably some that just don’t make sense. It is Ted’s Head after all. I haven’t figured me out so why should you think you can? I could never run for office because what I wrote in 2010 probably bears no resemblance to my current philosophies. They would have a field day. 

A friend once asked me if I was afraid every time I hit the “send” button.Huh? Not really.  I guess I don’t worry so much about what I have to say as to whether it is coherent. Most of the time it just flies out on the page. I hope it feels like we are just talking with one another. I just get an idea and try to develop it. I am not claiming to be right. All I try to do is get you…. and me to think. 

In this world of texting and sound biting we grow impatient. A few of you have said “Ted’s Head” is too long. It requires too much time to read it. I guess it just takes more than a 15 second spot for my poor little brain to develop a theme. Mea culpa. 

I am passionate person. About my wife, my family, golf, friends, hospice and mental health to name a few. It is beyond gratifying to do so. It causes me to stop and take stock. To both dig deep and to savor. If you can’t get wound up about something you should not bother getting involved in the first place. Where do I get my energy? All of the above. 

images-11.jpegI love to have deep conversations. There are a few of you whom have fed my addiction for this. At first people are wary, like where the hell is this going? Then all of a sudden after testing the water, we jump in with both feet and man is it fun. Some come back for more and others determine they don’t want to hang around with this lunatic any more. Perfectly understood. 

I guess I just love the power of communication of any sort. I think people are by trait and practice wanting to relate. The recluse or hermit can have their way but there is an absolute joy of meaning something to someone. I matter. You matter. How best to demonstrate that? By reaching out in a letter, text, phone call or face to face conversation. 

Vulnerable? Of course. What will they think? Did I word this or that properly. Am I gong to offend people? If I waited to figure all this out I would be fraught with all sorts of reticence. Perhaps our society today is too worried about the phraseology or word usage to see the message through the trees. We are always at the ready to pounce on any misstep or malapropos. 

Think of words as the most powerful and creative tools in your arsenal. Spoken or written it is a sure fire way to let people know about you. You are beyond interesting and have so much to offer. Don’t sell yourself short. Share the wealth. On your next provocative email, CC the world. Come on in, the water is fine Unknown-2.jpeg

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

There are more than 170,000 words jn the modern dictionary. There are also 47,000 that are obsolete. We have new words because we create new things that have to be described. That is cool.images-14.jpeg

There is a word that is over 190,000 letters long. I won’t print it here. It would take you longer than an hour to say it. That would probably shut me up but not guaranteed. 

Schoolmaster is an anagram of classroom. Walrus probably means whale horse.The exercise equipment that’s a standard part of every gym today, the treadmill,  once served as punishment for Victorian prisoners. Still does for me. 

Scrabble was invented by an architect in 1937. The game did not catch on until the late 50’s when  Macy’s put in a huge order. The board and 100 tiles have remained the same for 80 years. Playing the game in other languages really causes a stir.

All the Decent People….

With apologies to the Beatles and  Eleanor Rigby, “All the decent people where do they all come from?” Songs and refrains stick in my mind and this one has been there all week. My buddy Patrick sent me an article written by a Doc from the Mayo Clinic. It had to do with self importance. It seems to me to be a real clash with decency. Let me try to get it right. 

Down deep we all want to be someone. Not necessarily famous but to be a contributing part of society. A tip of the hat or a pat on the back will suffice for most. In a way it is Thank You For Your Service….to the world you live in. A recognition that you matter. 

For some that is not enough. The warped sense of self is starved and emaciated. If you don’t think you are getting enough attention then you try to do something about it. The easiest way is to put someone down. It could be a friend or coworker or even a lesser person on staff. You chastise them to make them look  inferior and you superior. Good luck on thatUnknown.jpeg

I love going to a party, especially a big one. Now if you are full of yourself, air kisses only. Don’t let people get too close. Bro hugs are out of the question. As you work the room you are looking for where the cool people are. You shake hands while scanning the crowd looking for someone who is really important. A quick,”You take care now,” having listened to nothing that person said. Man, are you good!

Your best bet is to stay within a very close knit group. Same faces. Same talk. Very predictable. Don’t want to look stupid. Politics? Only the Left or Right and nothing in between. You are sure of yourself and do not want a scintilla of doubt to creep in. You pepper your conversation with “you must” or “you should” go to this restaurant or country or whatever. You are the cat’s meow. 

In a way it is a terribly sad life. Your day is taken up by what you think people are thinking about you. You worry about your looks, your clothing, your car, your spouse or significant other. Are they up to snuff? Comparing, analyzing, equating. Gotta have the latest, fastest, prettiest, biggest or most expensive. There can’t be anyone better than you. 

Some of you laugh and say that couldn’t possibly be so. Others are now tinged with a little guilt that some of this might be part of you. In actuality it is apart of all of us. We want to take pride. There is nothing wrong with that. Even this old fart looks at the mirror in the morning and thinks I am not looking half bad. Emphasize the half part. images-1.jpeg

And then that is when people are decent. They realize they are part of a universe that does not revolve around them. They have their faults and foibles. The game is to keep them to a minimum. They really do care about their fellow man or woman, especially when they are hurting. They give to others and they give of themselves. They are willing to take the chance. They are okay with being open, warts and all. 

My most despised trait as many of you know is arrogance. The failure to believe that any one else’s ideas could be more believable or acceptable than my own.The fact that someone could be smarter or more talented than me is alien. The fact that I am just an average person in a very smart world. Not a prayer! Yikes!

Being honest with yourself is a bitch but it leads to happiness. Someone once said, if your are truthful you don’t have to remember anything. Life is not a facade but a person like you and me just trying to do our best on the big blue marble. 

In closing my favorite thought for honest people is a group of farm people at a simple restaurant in middle America. They are sitting having a cup of coffee and scrambled eggs or a beer and some chips. They are talking about the weather and crops. They have known each other for decades and their families are intertwined. images-5.jpeg

There are no secrets. They rely on each other in hard times. No one is comparing their work clothes as to who is wearing the latest. Their life is simple and they like it that way. This is where the decent people have gone or should I say have been all along. 

But they are everywhere in these United States. Not just farms but staff in hospitals, local merchants, corporate staff and even the higher echelons. Just ordinary people making this whole thing work. We titans of industry and finance and medicine are not all that smart despite our own beliefs.  We have made this thing way too complex. Just be ourselves. Nothing more. Nothing less.  That’s decent!

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Ironically our self esteem is not based on how others think about us but how we view ourselves. Our ups and downs are created by us not others. 

Researchers used ten words to activate stimuli among powerful and collegial people:

 The 10 power words included affluence, authority, dominance, fortune, money, power, prestige, reputation, status, and wealth.images-4.jpeg

 The 10 collegial words were affiliation, attachment, belonging, closeness, collaboration, community, cooperation, family, harmony, and relationships

Which ones worked for you?

Friendliest States

Minnesota

Iowa

Colorado

North Carolina 

Washington

Least Friendly

New York

Delaware

New Jersey

Arkansas

Massachusetts

 

Til Death Do Us Part….

I was visiting a patient on my Monday morning shift at Treasure Coast Hospice. This was a gentleman in his late 50’s with cancer, who had been hanging on for over ten days. Family and buddies had come and gone, having to get back home both far and wide. I marveled at his tenacity. Just hanging on to that one thread from slipping into the netherworld. How does that happen?

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If you don’t want to hear about death read no further. You would be joining many others who choose not to talk about it. They deny it exists. Our miracles of modern medicine convince us we can be cured of anything. We are not talking about what your body or psyche will be like on the other side. We are going to give you a few more precious months or years. Quality of life? What is that?

People have survived well past medical predictions. Some have even thrived and gone on beyond their wildest dreams. That is a marvel and a testament to their will and perhaps their faith. Yet so many cling to a hope that is a mirage. Their beaten bodies show up at our doorstep at Madera House. A battle well fought or a cruel injustice? Is it fair to the caregivers who have worked so hard for years? The question haunts me. 

In hospice when a patient transitions it is quite evident. A person you spoke with yesterday may be in a semi comatose state. There is not so much a conscious decision but rather an automatic body response to survive at all cost. Your extremities become cold as your efforts to exist  are centered in your torso. Breathing becomes more and more shallow and at times it seems to stop, only to frighten this poor old hospice volunteer to death by a sudden gasp. And then you pass.

If you are privileged to be there you realize a sacred event has occurred whether you are religious or not. There is a peace and quietude that ends a life of however long. When my son was born it was the beginning of being allowed in the delivery room for dads. The OB wanted to meet me to make sure I was not going to my knees. I was struck when he said that each time was a miracle. He opined, “There are five in the room and then there are six”. As I sat with this dying man I thought to myself, “There are three in the room and soon there were will be  two”. The cycle of life.

Nobody wants to die but I don’t know of anyone who has beaten the rap. I think often of my own morality. I take stock on a regular basis and ask myself if I have lived a good life. It is not maudlin but sobering. “Life is precious” is more than a suitable aside after seeing trauma. I walk out of there humbled and with a different perspective on my crazy world. 

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Hospice is one of those institutions and philosophies that is so misunderstood. I have just been asked to join the board and I hope in the days to come to be part of a speaker’s bureau to tell our story. People freak out at the word and that is sad. It is the embodiment of empathy for one’s fellow man or woman. The word meant “inn” or resting stop in the journey during the Middle Ages. Indeed it is on this road of life. 

Spouses and families are struck with denial and even a sense of abandonment when they commit to be part of us. The patient must be certified to have a prognosis of six months or less to live. Yet you can leave hospice at any time. We treat the pain of the illness not the illness itself. We do everything we can to make you and your loved ones as comfortable as possible. We are very good at it. 

80% of Americans would rather pass in their homes rather than a hospital bed. In spite of this, 80% die in hospitals or nursing homes. We have both an in home and our residence program of care. We neither retard or accelerate your normal progression. You will be treated by some of the most caring and gentle professionals in the world. You are in our hands and we take that responsibility with the utmost of devotion. 

Probably one of the most fascinating aspects of hospice is that people do enjoy a better quality of life. In Denver, I had a man in his eighties who escorted his wife’s stretcher into our residence in tears. He just blurted out to me. “I just couldn’t do it anymore”. I hugged him and told him he was home. I can’t tell you the number of families that state unequivocally they wish they had done it sooner. 

The upshot of it all is that the patient is usually the one who get its most clearly. Their loved ones often don’t or are so intrusive as to create quite a ruckus. We are used to it but it is often comical when the one in the bed winks at me while the spectators think they are calling the shots. 

I had a woman with ALS who chatted with me for about a half hour while scribbling on her IPad. She was beyond accepting of the hand she was dealt. She said the only problem was when people would start crying at her bedside. The two of us were laughing when she wrote,”They have go to get over this.” She gave me a big Thumbs Up as I departed upon the arrival of visitors. It is an amazing gig.

I love life. I love my wife and kids and grandkids and friends. I love doing what I do. In just about everything. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Medicare or Medicaid cover hospice and the cost of medication for your palliative care. 

There are four levels of care:

Home Care: Patient visitation and monitoring. Usually one to two times a week by a RN or CNA. 

Continuous Home Care: When a nurse is required for a continuous period of time. 

Respite Care:   To provide in our residence a break from caregiving for loved ones. 

General Inpatient Care: For severe pain or other symptoms that require a skilled nursing environment. 

Hospices are both Not For Profit and For Profit. 

Hospices can provide grief counseling for members of the family as part of their mission. We all think we are rocks but it is highly recommended. Death is a life changing event for all. 

In Denver there is a sign in the nurses station: “Angels Gather Here”.  They sure do!

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High Country…..

th.jpegThis morning I decided to take my Boeing 737 MAX for a spin. With everything going on today, the world has got to look a little better from 35,000 feet. Whoa TTG, that plane has been grounded. For mere mortals of course. Suffice to say  I have always played against the rules. Nose down problems? Life has tried to push me that way but I have sufficient strength but not necessarily brains to overcome my inherent software glitches. 

Heading north from LaLa Land, I am taken by the sheer beauty of our land. The Great Smokies and Appalachians on my port side and the Atlantic beaches to my starboard. People below are just getting up. If they are lucky they have not tuned into the world events. Maybe they will grab the cup of Joe and resist the urge to sneak a peak at chaos. Whether it is the endless horizon of the sea or the grandeur of a mountain range slowly changing its color, there is a lot to just sit back and enjoy. 

As I approach DC there is some heavy turbulence. Hot air is causing immense wind shear. I notice on my chart there is an aviation warning here 24/7. No one here looks at the scenery. We have to be about the people’s business. Climate change? Illegal immigration? Infrastructure? No you fool,IMPEACHMENT!!  What was I thinking? 

The oxygen masks drop precipitously from the overhead. Seems all the air has been sucked out of this particular region. th-4.jpegMy airship banks hard left and the hard right trying to find some sort of equilibrium. I know the center is the preferred path but it is almost impossible to find it. Are we going to die? No stupid, just take it off automatic pilot. Trust your instincts. 

Are you nuts? Everyone needs a mentor or guru to get through life. Without CNN or Fox we would be lost. Those guys and gals are beyond smart. Otherwise they would not be on TV. Right? They get paid a lot of money just like pop singers and football players. They are to be respected and admired. They have made it. Really?

True to form I have decided to opt for independent thinking. Just ahead is the Big Apple. Glitz and glitter and skyscrapers challenging God to say no, soar skyward almost to our assigned altitude. th-8.jpegIf you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Bright lights and big egos. I think I will pass on the opportunity of a lifetime. I saw what they did to that little Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg. I read some critical assessments of her and these dudes don’t pull any punches. How dare she?

I will make one pass over St Patrick’s Cathedral. As a former New Yorker it was always a place of devotion and beauty. Uh oh! I thought they cleaned it up but the spires are badly tarnished and bird droppings everywhere. Did they miss those spots or did they just fail to get all the dirt out from their last purge? Interesting question. 

I head West with a little bit of trepidation. As the roads constrict from ten lanes to four to sometimes two, am I getting away from civilization or closer to the real thing? Silly me. I just got buzzed by three Amazon drones and a flying pizza truck from Domino’s. Nirvana. The zillionaires are buying up everything to find spots to get away to escape. Wait, does that make any sense? I thought they already had everything. 

Maybe I have overstayed my welcome with the hoi polloi.. I am gong to put it on auto pilot and head back LaLa Land. I might just stretch out in an empty first class seat  and watch Ken Burns’ Country Music Series. Do I dare have a single malt this early?

Wow this is really fantastic. This guy has taken an iconic medium to reflect on its most simple tenets. People struggle and claw and fight to crawl out of squalor and misery by doing something so simple. Singing! They do it while they are working. While they are praying. While they are just sitting after a long day. This is cool stuff. 

The sheer analgesic of listening to throaty basses of negro spirituals while picking cotton makes the day pass. th-12.jpegThe foot stomping fiddling on Saturday night celebrates another successful passage of the week. The lyrics are at the same time sweet and gut wrenching, talking about the vagaries of life. The rise to the top of stardom and the crash beneath the collapse or booze and drugs. It is hope, love and tragedy all rolled into one. When was the last time I felt that?

Johnnie Cash is singing, Orange Blossom Special so I must be getting close to home. Wheels down but does the reverie have to stop? I have travelled Everywhere Man and it truly is spectacular. I have sensed joy and also a lot of heart break. It is that stupid thing called life once again. 

Go find a plane or car or bus or maybe just a record. Take it upstairs and look down. Think about what an incredible world we have but don’t forget just how badly we have screwed it up in spots. We are all humans with a lot of failings. But if we step back for a minute there is so much we as owners and caretakers can do.

As I gaze at the little screen at my seat I am amazed at the wisdom and simplicity of our our lives. As they are or maybe as they should be. No, I do not want to be an Okie from Muskogee nor do I need to be in Folsom Prison singing the blues. But there is an earthiness and honesty here that I wish we could go back to. Mutual concern not disdain. Sweetness not acrimony. Maybe just understanding we are all in this together. Please unfasten your seatbelt and see the world

As always

Ted The Great. 

Factoids:

Country Music on PBS is an eight part 18 hour presentation that is simply wonderful. Take the time. It is well worth it. 

The Grand Ole Opry, America’s longest-running radio broadcast, began in 1925 and moved to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1943.th-15.jpeg Dedicated to country’s old-time roots, the Opry prohibited the use of electric guitars until after WWII, and drums weren’t allowed onstage until 1973. This conservatism extended to artists as well: a young Elvis Presley made his only performance at the Opry in 1954, and was asked politely to not come back.

Jimmy Dean translated the success of his 1963 hit “Big Bad John” into a television program, and then into an $80 million sausage company. Fellow ‘one hit wonder’ artists should take notes.

Classic Songs:

You’re The Reason Our Baby’s So Ugly

She Got The Gold Mine And I Got The Shaftth-16.jpeg

She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger

My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart

I’ve Got The Hungries For Your Love And I’m Waiting In Your Welfare Line

I Wouldn’t Take Her To A Dawg Fight, Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win

Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure

Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through The Goalposts Of Life

Sensory Overload….

too-many-tabs.jpgI have been struggling with this session of Ted’s Head for three weeks. It is not that I have writer’s block but there is just too much jammed into my little brain. We have just completed a 3,000 mile version of Ted’s Magical Mystery Tour. From start to end there are stories to be told and experiences to relate. I hope I get it right.

There was a wedding of Kathy’s nice to be attended in New Jersey on Labor Day weekend. That morphed into stops in Savannah,Asheville, the Hamptons, Rhode Island, DC and Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Yikes! Crazy but somewhat predictable. There was joy at young couples, old friends and family. There was sadness at tragedies occurring and evolving. Methinks it is that little thing called life. 

Our stops were not the big city lights but the heart of America. The incredible seafood omelet on the Savannah River. The vastness of the Biltmore and the funky nature of a metropolis in western NC. The simplicity of Morristown NJ and the tranquility of the eastern end of Long Island or Narragansett Bay. DC, thankfully without the pols and the Low Country hue of fog over the marshes. Pretty special.

My radar was working full bore trying to see what these people were about. The wedding was a white and black one and was reflected in a  half chocolate and half vanilla wedding cake. Not a swipe but an effort from a young couple to make fun of our prejudices. At the wedding I crossed the divide and met some wonderful people. A black gentleman, a retired firefighter from the Oranges stood in the bar line with a cigar. We both reveled in the nirvana of a fat one and a glass of single malt neat on the back porch. What do you drink? Balvenie, he said. 15 year old ? Nope! I drink 21. What was I thinking?

My Navy buddy resides on the shores of a bay that also is home to US Navy OCS. A car ride through history. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_189e.jpgWe went to the Black Pearl on Thames Street that witnessed a transformation of Blood Alley, where I would ride in the “Meat Wagon” for Shore Patrol to the trendy enclave of the rich and famous. We calculated that less than a dozen spots in the Newport  Shipyard held more than a Billion dollars of nautical real estate. And they were not alone. What an incredible collision of man’s hubris and ingenuity to create the beauty of a massive sailboat or yacht. 

That evening I was privy to  Mr Holland’s Opus in the flesh. It seems my friend’s son in law is a music teacher of some 17 years in East Providence. It is a blue collar area. As he talked, I was enthralled at his love of his craft as well as his students. I peppered him with questions as to the state of education to class mobility to his hopes and dreams. 

The reality is that for some of these kids to sing in a chorale is their one chance to shine. This was it. They weren’t taken up with soccer, lacrosse, SAT tutoring and socializing. They are good and went to Europe on monies not from the school board but the car washes and bake sales of a toiling community. As he told me of graduation day they took the top students in caps and gowns and they were allowed to parade through the halls with underclass kids cheering. He proudly  noted that 90% of the super achievers were his students. So much for getting rid of the arts. 

Our new friends from Harbour Ridge live in Fairfax, Virginia. He was a 23 year veteran of the Army. As an Army wife she was too. As we went to the Army Navy Country Club for dinner I looked around the room. With no mention of rank, I wondered who were three stars and who were ordinary looies. There was a woman in her 50’s having a meal by herself. Where had they been? What had they seen? Above all the place oozed pride for their particular branch and for their country. Thank you for your service. What a place. 

The last leg was to visit my college roommate from Georgetown. We have known each other for 60 years. Their burgh, just south of Myrtle Beach is idyllic. th-6.jpegWe played golf and ate and drank too much single malt over a cigar one night. He is a hoarder and he brought out yearbooks where you looked like a dork or handsome devil depending on the time frame. Here’s to the brothers who are no longer with us. 

From all of this I came back with a gazillion thoughts and vows to do this or that better. For the last 450 miles Kathy and I just sat in silence, reviewing all that has passed over the days. It felt so good to just be yourselves. Conversation gaps of anywhere from a few months to decades melt away when you are comfortable. No airs. Just enjoying friends new and old. 

I guess we saw life at its simplest and most beautiful. I wonder how we get so wrought up or better yet why? We seem so hell bent on improving our lot in life do we ever just sit down and enjoy it? I want to improve when it comes to this or that. That is normal and healthy. But to make it an obsession to outrun or outgun my peers seems to me to be an absurdity. I am the luckiest person in the world. I hope you are too?

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Rhode Island is the smallest state in area. With a tad over a million inhabitants it is the seventh least populous and second most dense housing in the US. East Providence has 47,000 residents. 

th-3.jpegThe Biltmore in Asheville was built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the 1890’s and is till owned by his descendants. It weighs in at 179,000 square feet. It has 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms. I would love to have the listing on this place when they sell.

The Hamptons include Easthampton, Southhampton, Westhampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays to name a few. They range from middle class to the elite. It is said the bigger the house the less time peole spend there. Kor J’s fish market has about 30 different kinds of fish and the biggest cherrystone clams you can imagine. $6 a dozen and a little more to shuck them. Eat them right out of the shell.

The Cross Bronx Expressway and I 495 around Washington are pretty much grid lock 24/7. The condition of some roads were beyond deplorable. It is pretty much a tossup whether there are more prone end replacement shops and psychiatrists in both. th-12.jpeg