Sunday, December 4, 2011

Can You Hear Me Now?

Twenty odd years ago I made a visit to the audiologist because my family was tired of the TV volume rattling the rafters. The doctor didn’t mince any words, he simply said, "Hearing aids are the only solution for your problem". So…he fitted me with a pair of amplifiers the size of conch shells, that made both ears sag like teats on a sow. After thirty days of high volume, low frequency racket I threw in the towel and took them back for a refund. Fast forward about eighteen years and once again my hearing loss has driven me back to the audiologist. I’m tired of sitting in session meetings and knowing that 60% of what’s said is getting by me and I have not a clue as to what it was. My pride is making me say…sure, sounds fine to me, when in fact I don’t know what I‘ve agreed to. This time around the doctor assured me that current technology can solve my problem…..for the mere price of $6000.00. I’m thinking…ain’t gonna happen. I’m still paying for three heart attacks, two strokes and a nail in my leg and there’s not $6 grand to help me hear it thunder.

It’s worth mentioning that for the past 50 years I have been an organ donor…….but so far I haven’t given up anything. I carry a card and my driver’s license says I’m willing but most of what I have left is pretty worn out. It’s a simple fact that nobody wants my ears ‘cause they have been shot for ages. I’m not really sure there is a way to donate your ears like a kidney or lung……but hearing aids are a different deal. Thank God I have good friends. Such a friend, a true gentleman named Ronnie Cox, told his wife as he lay dying, "If Daddy can’t use my hearing aids, find someone that can." Two weeks ago, his widow offered them to me. Now this is like matching up a new set of horns with a worn out old goat. Tain’t likely to fit. But if you factor in some serious praying by my pastor and his contacts, the odds get better. To shorten this story let me simply say, the doctor said: If I built you a custom set and rated them at ten, this set your friend has offered is a high 7, maybe an 8. There are still some levels you won’t hear but much of what you will now hear you won’t even recognize.

Simply stated, my life changed last Wednesday. When she showed me how to insert them and explained their function, and then turned them on via a computer program…….it was like the lights came on. In a moment I was brought to tears and my emotions are still pretty raw. When I left her office the traffic noise on Arlington Blvd. frightened me, my signal lights made a funny clicking noise and my old truck sounded like a bucket of bolts. Since that time I constantly find myself trying to identify the sounds I’m hearing for the first time in years. I’m sure I can sit four or five rows back from the front at church tomorrow.

Dick CarneyThere is a point to this: Sign up today to be an organ donor……it can change someone’s life..or keep it going. If you know someone who wears hearing aids encourage them to donate them and become a hear-o. My friend Ronnie cared enough and you can rest assured I will pass them on.

-- Crookedpaw

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Four inches can make a big difference

For the last many years as I have walked out the front door of the Spay Today Clinic (a high volume, low cost, spay and neuter facility, that I am part of) I have had no choice but to look straight across the parking lot at the County Animal Shelter. I have an open view of about 16 dog runs, each containing a tail wagging, slobbering creature with a set of brown eyes looking at me with the same question...won’t you take me home? Maggie and I have long ago come to grips with that question and we have chosen to do other things to help the animal causes. This has been a hard winter in eastern North Carolina and it has bothered me that these poor critters have no choice but to lay on the cold, damp and hard concrete.

About a year ago I saw a fancy dog bed at a local boarding facility and thought..”Maggie needs one of those”. Then I looked at the price which was close to $100.00 and thought 'damn, it's nothing but PVC and cloth. I can make one of them for less than that!! So, I began to think on it and like most things discovered that it would require some research to find all the components. Pretty quick I found all I needed except for a PVC three way elbow. I checked Lowes, Home Depot, all the local plumbing wholesalers, nobody had such an item. Finally I realized it was not a plumbing item but a plastic furniture item. Duh. So before long I had found a source for the last part. I ordered a dozen even thought I only needed four (something told me one bed would not be enough). Before long Maggie had a new elevated (4 inches off the surface) dog bed and had sworn off of ever sleeping on the floor again. She loves this thing!

So, if Maggie can have an elevated dog bed, then why can’t the 60 dogs who call the animal shelter home have one?? I figured I could spend about $1000.00 for materials and spend 3-4 days putting them together and this problem could be solved. First snag: I don’t have an extra $1K or a lot of free time. My pastor claims I have a PhD. in MSH(make s--- happen), so it was time to prove him right. Seemed to me this would be a good project for the Boy Scouts. After all, these days most old ladies don’t need help crossing the street anymore. So I goggled BSA. After clicking on a dozen or so websites I had the name of the local head scout (I figured his name would be Tonto). A call to him led me to a local scout master with the First Presbyterian Church and in about 45 minutes I will have the first meeting to discuss the possibility of a local lad taking on this effort as his Eagle Scout project.

Maggie watching

I’m sharing this with you for one reason. Every county has an animal shelter and most have concrete runs were the dogs are contained. How long since you slept on a slab of concrete? This project will work in Spokane, Baton Rouge or Baltimore and I can tell you how to make it work in 15 minutes or an email or two. Let’s get the varmints off the cold, damp ground and on an elevated dog bed. Believe me, in this case, four inches makes a huge difference. They will love you for it and so will Maggie and I. Think about it and give me a call. Crookedpaw

Note: My meeting with the scouts was successful. Look out critters, better times are coming!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

"Pootin" in Church

Maggie 2.0Every so often, you have a flashback that brings back memories that are worth sharing. Today as I sat in church, one of our members who has a service dog, got up and made her way out of the sanctuary. Thinking she might have anticipated a moment of unbalance, which her dog is trained to help her with, I followed her into the nartex to offer assistance. As it turned out, she had detected that her dog was about to have a gas attack. (He must have “pooted” in church, something I was told never to do as a child). So…as it turned out this was a false alarm and she and her dog made it to open air. However…for some reason it reminded me of Maggie, my dog and beloved companion. It dawned on me that 7 years ago tomorrow, I had acted on an impulse to drive 5 hours south and rescue a pretty Border Collie I had seen on an animal rescue website.

I had been looking for some time for just the right dog and her photo had connected with me instantly. It didn’t matter that she was 5 hours away and came with a $150.00 adoption fee or that I had to have a home visit from a local volunteer and a letter from my vet. All that mattered, from the moment I saw her, was that I did whatever was necessary to connect the two of us. When I pulled into the driveway at her foster home, which was just outside of Newberry, S.C., Maggie was waiting for me with her leash, a partial bag of food and a smile that continues to this day to warm my old goat heart. She hopped into the front seat of my pickup, laid her head in my lap and we set out for home. Since that time we have been joined at the heart. She is lying here at my feet as I recount this tale and continues to bring joy to me to this day. There are many important things in my life: my sons, my grandchildren, all my family, my church and the good friends I have. But…I gotta tell you all, nobody loves me like Maggie.

Maggie

It’s just a simple fact. If you have not experienced the love of a dog, your life is incomplete. I am involved in a local spay and neuter clinic, that exists simply to reduce the numbers of stray dogs from the brutal death that so often comes with a trip to county animal shelters. I tell you that, simply to encourage you to find it in your heart as we start a new year, to adopt an animal from a local shelter. No matter what you call it, euthanasia is final. They never get another chance to greet you at the door with a wagging tail and some wet face licks or crawl up in your lap for some loving. I could go on and on about the agony of a one way trip to the animal shelter, but…save us the time. Adopt a dog this year and then try to be the person they think you are, and we’ll talk again next New Year’s.

-- Crookedpaw

Monday, November 22, 2010

As I find my life cycle counter about to rotate again, it’s a little scary to realize that I can-- remember sitting on my grandmother’s front porch steps and watching the celebrants whoop it up because WW11 had just ended//crossing the street walking home from the 2nd grade and stepping in front of an airport limo (birthday, Christmas and New Years in the hospital)//learning that I was the only plebe cadet at Valley Forge Military Academy that was from south of the Mason-Dixon line(lots of teasing that year)//getting my first look at the DMZ in Korea in 1959//black and white sections at the bus and train stations//test driving a new Edsel//loosing my handcuff key in the excitement of my first arrest// a bunch of loving dogs - Penny, Prince, Kita, Kola, Beatle Bum, Dusty and now the one and only Miss Maggie. Should mention a few old heathen cats like Billy Ray, Bubba and Maybelle//living thru 3 heart attacks, 2 strokes, more broken bones that I can count, back surgery, gun shot wounds, and a 51 day stint at the Duke Burn Center (how many lives is that, I lost count?) and finally living long enough to get involved with Peace Presbyterian Church and finding that I had a passion for foreign mission trips and disaster assistance work. I’m gray haired, stooped, scarred up and full of aches and pains but I still am looking forward to some new adventures (anyone want to go with me to Nicaragua in March??). Crookedpaw

Sunday, November 15, 2009

And then there was this dude named Benedict


It’s been quite a while since I felt moved to write down my thoughts. When I try to look back and determine what has unmotivated me, I can find nothing tangible to blame it on. It sort’a seemed that life was at a standstill, nothing happening that I wanted to share. There really have been some serious issues but frankly they had me so down I didn’t want to even think about putting them on paper.

Seems that I remember just before I turned fifty that I went thru a spell like this…thinking that I was clearly entering the twilight years. Now as I find myself mere weeks away from seventy I find its harder than ever to get “up”. Up from the bed, up from the chair, up from any kind of kneeling position….any kind of physical “up” seems to really elude me or cause me pain. And then there is the emotional side of things. You seem to reflect more on the past as you age and if you, like I, stumbled a lot as you walked thru life then those remembrances become the focus of your reflection. You start to imagine all sorts of miseries that are about to beset you simply because of shortcomings from your past. You develop a tendency to caution others not to make the mistakes you made, especially those you love.

It’s times like these that I am so glad that 7-8 years ago I got involved with a church. Unlike some, I don’t feel born again, or saved, or washed in the blood or any of those clich├ęs. I happen to go to a Presbyterian church but it really would not matter if it were Baptist, Methodist, Mormon, Catholic, Free Will or anything except communist (I ain’t real big on them commies). What I somehow found by attending church was a rule to live by. Most of my early life had a strong military influence so I was no stranger to rules. But military rules were to obey not to live by and that is a major difference. My previous detachment with the church and religion, was my difficulty in identifying which of their rules to focus on and obey, and what compounded it even more was that there were so many of them.

Then one day I heard my good friend and pastor, Paul, talking about this dude named Benedict. Seemed that he was a saint or guru or grand dragon type character that folks listened to. Kind’ a like Jerry Clower and all the rednecks. Anyway brother Benedict was into simplicity….so he threw out all the rule books and made one basic rule. My modified version of his simple rule is even briefer than his since I left out all the parts I didn’t understand and dwelled on the truly simple stuff. In the last six months our adult Sunday school class, taught by the pastor, had started at the beginning of the Bible and is slowly working thru the whole thing hoping to give those in attendance a better understanding of what it says. I had cut a deal with the preacher that he would go with me to Barnes & Noble and help me buy a Bible, since I at that time did not have one. The only condition was that it had to be a “simple one”. I got to tell you that this is indeed a bible written in lay terms. For instance David didn’t “slay the giant with a rock”…. he busted a cap in his ass with a .40 caliber Glock”. The beauty of this is that almost every Sunday as we get to the part where God is trying to tell whoever it is to behave and do right, I can raise my hand and say “see….it’s the simple rule all over again. At that point all in attendance sigh and say “there goes Dick rattling on again about his one simple rule”. Hey…-it is what it is///if it ain’t broke don’t fix it///if it burns your hand, turn it loose///if it feels good in your heart, do it some more. K.I.S.S.

For those of you who are wondering if I’m writing this after beer thirty I want you to know I’m stone sober and its not yet 7AM. I just woke up this morning feeling thankful . You see two people I love were having what I’ll call a pissing contest. Somehow over the weekend, hopefully influenced by my urging they sorted things out and all is better. They both got a free pass and once again doing it simple and right won out. Thank you Benedict for giving me the wisdom to say those words.

Crookedpaw

Thursday, March 26, 2009

* * *D E S P E R A D O* * *

About once in a lifetime if a man’s lucky he will meet his soul mate and enjoy years of matrimonial bliss. If he’s real lucky he may find his soul buddy and experience a bond of a lifetime. Many men never experience this, so this post is directed to those that have.

My soul buddy was a guy I knew as the Desperado. As far as I know he was not a real outlaw but now that I think of it he was wanted by some jilted husbands, broken hearted boyfriends and a few small town sheriffs‘. He rode the highways and bypasses of eastern North Carolina in the early seventies and his CB handle was…you guessed it “The Desperado”. At the time this was a popular song by the Eagles and was played to death by all the DJ’s. I met the Desperado at a time in my life when I had no more direction than a .39 cent compass. I had somehow landed a job in a textile mill in Rocky Mount, N.C. and had convinced the management that I could run the maintenance department after the previous boss was made a permanent guest of the Federal Penal System. To say that I was in a position that I was not qualified for is a gross understatement. Keep in mind that there were 800 looms in this plant and until 6 weeks prior I had never seen one. But….I could talk some shit and I needed a job so here I was doing things I knew nothing about. I had a desk and my own office in the back storage room of the plant and there was about 300 women right outside in the weave room and I thought I had died and gone to heaven. One day a couple of months after my “take over” this strange looking character came limping into my office (closet) and introduced himself to me as a representative of the Certified Chemical Company. Now while I did know a little about mechanic-ing, I did not know jack shit about chemicals. This dude went on to tell me that I should be concerned about the water treatment system on the roof of the building. Made sense to me so we climbed up on the roof and sure enough there was an impressive looking apparatus with water running in and out and mist going up in the air and I learned all about the water treatment system in about 15 minutes. While he was educating me about the system he convinced me that we needed about $2000.00 worth of chemicals to treat it. I had not made any big purchases in my maintenance career at this time and I decided that this should be my first. After I got him a signed purchase order he said “Meet me at the Holiday Inn tonight and I’ll buy the cold beer and some cow. Like I said life was good. We soon became good friends and learned among other things that we shared the same birthday. He was intrigued by my law enforcement background and when he learned I had shared a bunk with Chuck Norris while stationed in Korea he promptly proclaimed my CB handle should be Texas Ranger. About a year later, the textile mill had closed and I found myself in a lesser position with a local Masonite plant. One day while at work a major fire broke out. While myself and others were trying to put it out I became trapped and found myself pulling a 65 day hitch at the Duke University burn center. The Desperado all but moved to Durham and watched over me night and day. These were the hardest times in my life and he propped me up every day. All the staff at the burn center assumed he was my brother and in many ways he was. When it was clear I would not make a big company cookout he came to Duke, set up a portable grill on the top tier of the parking garage, cooked me a fine slab of cow and snuck that and a cold 6 pack into my room. Only your soul buddy would pull a stunt like that. When I finally was able to come home he threw me a big party and while I was hard to look at nobody seemed to care and I have never felt so loved. My hands and face were badly burned and he was the first to give me the new nickname “Crookedpaw”. Our friendship endured another 20 years until the Desperado finally bit the dust about 3 years ago. Until the day he died there was nothing as sincere as our friendship. There is little doubt in my mind that as we speak he has St Peter backed up at the gate and is trying to sell him some chemicals. In my eyes the Desperado cast a long, l..o..n..g shadow. We will both be 70 this year and I will miss him forever.

Monday, March 16, 2009

FRANCESCA DIMARCO

Francesca Dimarco - If that ain’t an eyetalian name, I’ll hush. Last Friday I met this pretty young lady at a local eatery for a lunch I shall long remember. She is a possible client and we were discussing the details of a major renovation project. But I gotta tell you it’s hard to keep your mind on business when sitting across the table from this vibrant package of energy. Turns out the owner of the pizzeria was a friend and fellow eyetalian and knew her well. Believe me this speaks well of his choice of friends. The two of them would break out in Italian leaving me with no choice during these periods but to stare at the sparkling brown eyes of this beauty. I have no idea what the Italian word for fox is but I’m sure there is a picture of Francesca beside it in the dictionary.

If I were not a worn out old Goat and did not already have a pretty bride and was about 40 years younger you can bet your boots I’d get me some fox hounds and be hot on her trail.