Extraordinary Stories

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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The "The Saga of the Class Ring" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Talking to Carol about any jewelry she might have that we can sell for cash.  Good time to sell anything that is gold, since it is bringing top price.  We started talking about the last time we sold some of our gold items for cash.  Back when we were strapped for money that was needed to buy groceries and clothes for our family.  Things were tight for a few years when we started our family.  I decided to sell my two class rings that I had.  My high school ring and my college ring.  The college ring had very little sentimental value attached to it.  I graduated a year after the date on it, since I took a teaching job before I graduated from college and until I had all the necessary credits needed to graduate the date on my ring wasn't the same as my graduation year.  So, I added that to the small pile of items we were going to sell.  My high school ring was a different story, but still didn't hold very much sentimental meaning to me.  My dad was a jeweler and when I asked for a class ring for Christmas during my senior year of high school he said he would get it for me.  I didn't realize he was going to buy it from a different manufacturer than the school used for class rings.  So, on Christmas I opened my gift and the ring fit perfect.  Loved it.  Probably one of the most valuable presents I had ever received for Christmas.  Then, when I went back to school after vacation and saw some of the new rings that my classmates had received, I took my off.  They looked totally different and I just knew that someone would make a comment about where I got my cheap ring.  Not the "official" ring like everyone else had.  But, my ring had a solid body to it instead of the hollow top like the one everyone else had.  Never told my mom and dad about it and I wore it to all family functions and places that I knew there would be no classmates with rings in attendance.  Told them that I thought I better not wear it to school because I might lose it or damage it during gym class.  Well, I dug the ring out and placed it on the table with the rest of the items for sale.  Took them to a traveling show that allegedly gave top prices for gold.  Didn't know any better and didn't care to ask my dad about it for fear he would find out I was selling my class ring he bought for me.  Did get a hefty price for the two rings and some necklaces that Carol had added and we had some great meals for a few weeks.  Funny, but I never missed either ring. How about you.  You know where class ring is?  Did you ever get a class ring in high school.  Kids today probably would rather have the latest digital phone or notebook instead of a class ring.  The popularity of the class ring isn't the same as it was in the last half of the 1900s.  Maybe someday it will be rediscovered and become popular once again.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The "Good Fortune ..... at last!! Story

Carol's Halloween Ghosts survived Frankenstorm!!
It was an ordinary day.  And finally a day with some good news for once.  After all the medical problems that my wife, Carol, and I have endured over the past year or so, and the recent death of my mother, we finally lucked out!  Frankenstorm, as hurricane Sandy is called, has missed us.  Not totally, but we were expecting our basement to be filled to the brink with cold, clear water from the underground stream beneath our home.  This past weekend we visited with our daughter and her family in Urbana, MD to see one of our son-in-law's football games and to spend some time with our granddaughters.  Had a good time, but left mid-day Sunday to get home to prepare for what was called the worst storm in our lifetime.  I tied the lawn furniture down to the rear deck with wash line by putting large screweyes in the deck and running the wash line from one to the other etc.  Then I used two of the same screweyes and ran heavier rope from them over the top of my Tiki Bar and fastened the rope to my fence which is about eight feet high.  Wasn't going anywhere.  Then I disassembled our artificial lighted palm tree and tied that to the fence.  Wasn't going anywhere either.  Removed all the planters and flags and we were set to go outside.  Inside, Carol and I took everything off the floor of our basement and placed it on tables that were higher than the water that we had in our basement about 15 years ago.  Items that were irreplaceable and were of any value we carried to the first floor.  I have two sump pumps in the drain on our basement floor and I made sure they were plugged in and ready.  Then I realized that if the power went out as was being predicted, I was in trouble.  Headed to the Home Depot about a half mile from the house and was told that they ran out of generators three days ago.  After many unsuccessful calls to other stores and many friends, I started to worry knowing that there was nothing more I could do.  As long as the power remained on I was in good shape.  Then we waited and waited.  All day Monday Carol and I tinkered around the house, checking every hour or so to see if any water had started to enter the drain.  The rain was constant, but luckily not drenching.  The wind was blowing the tall grasses behind the deck with 40-50 MPH gusts.  During the 5:00 PM local TV broadcast we got some good news.  The main part of the storm would pass by in the next 5 hours.  We went to bed shortly after watching "Dancing With The Stars"  hoping that we would awake to good news.  Well, that didn't work, since every couple of hours I awoke and hustled to the basement with my flashlight to check the drain and every time I would return to bed and report the good news to Carol.  Light came and even though I was still tired, I got up, dressed and checked the drain once again.  Then we turned on the TV and saw the total destruction that had happened along the east coast.  13 foot storm surge had hit the Jersey coast as well as New York.  Part of the iconic Atlantic City Boardwalk was destroyed.  The first floor of most homes and businesses had been underwater.  Only those dwellings that had been built on "stilts" survived major damage.  1.3 million people in Pennsylvania were without power.  The US Stock Exchange was closed for the second straight day; first time it had been closed because of a weather related incident since 1888 when a blizzard struck NY.  The reporters kept telling us it was going to be a huge storm since the storm's millibar reading was 940, the lowest ever.  I did have to get online at "Ask Kids" to find out what millibar meant and discovered that the storm had lots of energy and wind potential.  Well, I just checked the drain again and did see some water stirring in the very bottom.  Water that had not been there before, but the rain is subsiding and I feel that we have been spared the brunt of the storm.  I feel bad for all the people who have suffered storm damage, since we have been through that before, but am glad I won't have to call my insurance agent and arrange a viewing of the damages.  As I said at the beginning of my story, we were due for some good fortune, and I believe it was our time.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Monday, October 29, 2012

The "If Only Ernest Could See This Place" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting on the deck at Hemingway's on the Beach' enjoying my evening meal.  Hemingway's on the Beach is located on Grace Bay on the island of Provo in the beautiful Caribbean.  So, how can it be anything except enjoyable.  I assume that the owner, Terry Drummey, named his beach bar after Ernest Hemingway whose life of adventure influenced many people along the way.  Back in the mid-90s everyone thought that the adventurous Terry was stupid for opening a beachfront restaurant on a little-known island called Providenciales.  How can you sit on the deck of Hemingway's, watching the sun set over the clear blue sea, and think he was stupid.  His place is located at the rear of the Sands Resort along the main resort and restaurant strip in Provo.   The last time I was on Provo, back in '03, I don't remember seeing his place, but Hemingway's is now one of the best known restaurants on the island.  Hemingway's is the main food venue for the Sands, but it is not open only to the visitors of the Sands.  A constant stream of swimsuited wanderers drop by to enjoy a cold drink and a meal during the day.  Just off the deck is a brass bell which guests to the restaurant are encouraged to ring if JoJo the dolphin appears along the coast.  Provo's unofficial mascot, JoJo, can be seen at almost any location during the day dancing in the waves.  This evening Carol and I along with our friends Jerry and Just Sue are sitting at the prime spot on the deck.  Right along the waterfront, able to catch unobstructed views of the sun as it lowers from the sky into the Caribbean Sea.  And, shoot away I am doing.  Our meal is great, but not as great as the atmosphere, friends and experience eating at one of the best restaurants we will visit during our trip to Provo.  This is the life!!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Early evening, just as the sun starts to make it's descent

Carol and LDub

One of the many sunsets we experienced on Provo

One of our guests

Hemingway's after dark

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The "Resort by the Sea" Story

It was an ordinary day.  7:00 AM and I'm walking around Ocean Club Resort taking some photos.  We arrived on the island of Providenciales a few days ago and have found a home at Ocean Club.  Ocean Club is a luxury beachfront resort that offers casually elegant accommodations nestled among lush, tropical gardens. You know I copied that right from thier brochure!   The place has two fresh-water pools, one directly in front of our third floor screened in porch.  Directly below us on the first floor is a dive shop where you can schedule snorkeling or scuba diving trips.  Directly in front of us, by the beach, is the Cabana Beach Bar and Grill.  Great for breakfast, lunch or an evening meal while you watch the activities of the beach directly in front of you.  How can you not like a place like this.  This time of the year the place is empty so we have just about everything to ourselves.  There are a few other visitors from other parts of the USA as well as a few from other countries that we have met and shared our time with.  Rather than try to describe the resort, I'll give you a few photos with descriptions.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Sign in front of the resort

Looking to the right from our resort

The ocean!

Our unit is in the rear center

Evening shot of the pool by our unit

One of many sunsets

Free bikes to ride at your leisure

View from in front of our room looking toward the ocean

The pool by the beach bar, directly in front of the ocean

Little ornamental pieces added to the decor

They had no idea what a Whoopie Pie was

Beach towels for club residents

The pool which was directly in front of our porch

Empty chairs on a beautiful beach

LDub, Carol, Just Sue and Jerry

LDub and his wife Carol

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The "Doin' Some Reminiscing" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Sitting with our friends Jerry and Just Sue, reminiscing about days gone by.  I tend to do that more as I age.  Now, doesn't that sound much better that saying "getting older."  Well, Jerry and I were talking about having to read a Bible verse at the start of  homeroom during our high school days. We graduated from the same high school, the same year.  Matter of fact Just Sue was also in our graduating class.  Carol, my wife, well she's jus' one of those young em's you know.  My homeroom teacher allowed us to pick which Bible verse we wanted so everyone got together and we all picked the same one.  Found the shortest verse in the Bible and that was the one we read.  I'm sure our homeroom teacher, Miss Nolan, knew what we were doing, but she didn't seem to care.  It was state law to read the verse, as was saying the pledge to the flag.  Some in the class would pay others a buck to read the Bible verse for them.  I never did that as well as I was never offered the dollar to read for someone.  Back then the dollar would just about pay for your entire meal at lunchtime or a gallon of gas for your car.  Gettin' back to some other things that I can still remember about "the good ole days."  Can you remember cars that had curb feelers?  They attached to the bottom of the wheel well and "told" you when you were getting too close to the curb.  Didn't want to put a mark on those great white-walled tires.  And, I'm sure you remember the new car models as well as the new TV shows would be introduced in the fall, right after school started back for the year.  My Three Sons, The Andy Griffith Show, The Flintstones and Route 66 are a few of the shows that I can remember from the early 60s that were introduced in the fall.  How about, do you remember when your mom would tell you to make sure you always had clean underwear on in case you were in an accident.  My mom always said that to me and I always replied that if I was in an accident it would scare the crap out of me anyway so what did it matter if my underpants were clean or dirty.  I have now solved that dilemma by eliminating the underpants when I get dressed in the morning.  How about this one ....... you know what "More powerful than a locomotive" actually meant.  If you asked someone who was maybe 25 years old or younger what that saying meant to them, I'll bet very few could tell you.  I can also remember when I would turn on the TV on Saturday morning to watch Covered Wagon Theatre and there would be a test pattern on the screen; and at the end of the day they would play the Star Spangled Banner before signing off for the evening.  Never could figure out what people who worked 2nd shift could watch on TV when they came home from work.  How many of you remember when your parents took you to the bank when you pre-teen and opened a bank account for you.  You got that little deposit book that they would stamp every time you put money in your account.  That was big time back then.  I can also remember heading to Philadelphia to watch the Phils play a double-header on Sunday afternoon.  Back then the 2nd game had to be stopped by 7:00 PM, even if it wasn't over; a state law.  The O's games in Baltimore couldn't be started after 2:00 PM on a Sunday; also a state law in Maryland.  And remember that retail stores couldn't be open on a Sunday; made a law so people could take their families to church and then have a great Sunday meal.  Called the "Blue Laws."  And my final recollection .... my school bus driver from time to time would stop the school bus and usher someone off the bus if they were messing around or were too loud on the bus.  Imagine doing that today!  Oh how times have changed.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The "Faces of Strangers: #9" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Got up early today to try to get some photos of the beach before too many people start to dot the landscape.  Headed from our third floor suite down the concrete stairs to the colorful walkway that takes me to the beach, pass a few hundred lizards sunning themselves and trying to escape the birds that are looking for a morning meal.  I passed a couple of workers that are cleaning the freshwater pools or trimming and planting shrubs.  Then, I smell the bacon!  I must be getting close to the water since the Cabana Beach Bar and Grill is at the end of my walk, just before I step off the deck onto the cool, soft, powdery white sand of Grace Bay Beach.  Someone is lifting the large wooden covers that encase the restaurant and protect it from the weather and locking it in place.  The Cabana is open for business for yet another day!   As I pass, Jeff greets me.  I have gotten to know most of the restaurant staff over the time that we have been on the island.  Everyone is extremely friendly and loves to tell stories about the island and them selves.  Jeff is no different, except he is the owner of the restaurant.  I sit on a stool and we talk; the photos can wait for another day.  I guess he is probably in his mid-50s.  Still has the endless energy and drive that I did when I was that age.  He has been on the island for 30 years now.  This place is his 4th restaurant that he has owned, but the first one on the beach.  He seems to really enjoy what he does.  He looks out over the water as we talk and he tells me about his life on the island.  He is now a belonger; someone who has been a resident of the island long enough that he can vote on election day.  He was originally from California, but decided to move his family to Providenciales when he saw a chance to open his own restaurant.  He lives close-by and raises chickens that furnish the Cabana with the eggs he uses on his menu.  Also has an aquaponic system at his home.  Aquaponics is the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. In aquaponics, you grow fish and plants together in one integrated, soilless system. The fish waste provides a food source for the plants and the plants provide a natural filter for the water the fish live in. Aquaponics produces safe, fresh, organic fish and vegetables. When aquaponics is combined with a controlled environment greenhouse, premium quality crops can be grown on a year-round basis, anywhere in the world. Aquaponics can be used to sustainably raise fresh fish and vegetables for a family, to feed a village or to generate a profit in a commercial farming venture.  The fish that he has in his pond are tilipia and he plans to sometime soon offer them on his menu. Jeff said that he buys his canned goods and has them shipped on containerships.  Quite pricey!  I asked if I could step behind the bar for a few photos and he promptly obliged.  I believe, if I was younger, I could do the same thing that Jeff does for a business.  That way I could spend my entire life on the ocean instead of visiting it once or twice a year.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The "Sharing My Vision: Part III" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Trying to make sure I haven't bored you too much with my photos from our latest vacation.  What I enjoy and what other people enjoy sometimes aren't the same.  But, I figure you'll think that since I taught photography I'll know what is good and what isn't good and will make sure I give you great photos.  Hey, I have!!  Hope you enjoyed them.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  

The sunsets were beautiful most every evening.

Must have taken over a hundred flower photos.

Taken one evening as we were waiting for our meal at one of the island restaurants.

One of the few butterflies that I saw.

Just had to add another of these little guys.

Many people signed money with a "Thank You" and had it tacked to the wall at the Cabana Beach Bar.

One of my favorites.

How can you not have a great time when you see this every day.

Not sure if this had any meaning, but it looked neat.

One of the tree herons that were hanging out at one of the restaurants.

Early morning and all is quiet.

Really great batik painting I saw in an art gallery.

Beach boy preparing for a late afternoon storm.

From my chair ...........

This was taken by my friend Tom of new friends Lanna and Kathy on the left and LDub and Carol on the right.  Thanks Tom for all you helped me with while on vacation.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The "Sharing My Vision: Part II" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Working on the second of three groups of photos from my recent visit to the Turks and Caicos Islands.  My wife, Carol and I along with our friends Jerry and Just Sue had a great time relaxing.  That was our purpose for the vacation and we certainly accomplished it.  Part II features 15 more of my favorite photos.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

Thought this looked pretty neat how the water came in against one of the rocks on the shore.

Same place I shot the one above.

Wind surfer getting ready to lift off.

Sunset from the first evening we were on the island

Heron looking for food on the pond at the Conch Farm.

Neat colors from the waterfront on Grace Bay

Everywhere you looked you would find these little guys.

Neat arrangement of palms.

Loved the wooden globe that was at the Cabana Beach Bar.  Check out the sign in the background.

Layers of relaxation.

Another beautiful beach on Grace Bay.

Clouds make this photo interesting.

Fresh fish arriving at Baci Restaurant for our evening meal.

Wow, I found a whole bunch of California Job Cases in one of the are galleries.  Brought back memories from when I had my classes memorize which compartment housed what letter of the alphabet for typesetting.

Display of jewelry on a painting.