Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dancing with the Stars!

   Christmas day plus five saw my wife
I, my daughter, son-in-law, two grand
kids, our pastor, his wife, and teen aged
daughter all gathered at a friend's house
where his wife prepared a wonderful
holiday dinner!
    But after the dishes were cleared it
was the High Definition TV set that
captured every one's attention.
    More specifically it was the
Nintendo Wii game console that got
the "party" going!
    My 8 and 10-year-old grand kids
were thrilled to have such a great
diversion providing escape from
the adult conversations that seldom
include children.
    So, while most of us gabbed and
picked on crackers and cheese, the
kids played  "Cow racing" and the
Wii version of pool!
    The kids were in their glory!
    Then......the music started!
    Seems the Wii system offers
a selection of rock tunes where
the players have to hold their
controls while they mimic the
dancers on screen!
      It gets pretty fast, pretty
animated, and pretty funny when
the adults decided to take over!
      It's a good thing  Kenny Wormald
got the lead in the 2011 version of
Footloose before the producers
got a look at our pastor shaking
the room!
      You've got to wonder if there's
a little Pentecostal Christian somewhere
in his blood line!
       I'll be watching closely over the
next few Sundays to make sure he
doesn't start "speaking in tongues!"
       And he wasn't the only one!
       My daughter and our host's wife
took the floor in competition that equals
that on "Dancing with the Stars."
       I stood taping the
carnage. (Anybody want to buy a tape?)
       Good thing the adults didn't
catch on to the "Racing Cows" or
pool game.
      The kids would have been sitting
at the table munching on cheese and
      I think it's a reminder that we all
have a little bit of "kid" in us.....and
Christmas time brings it out!
     It may be another good reason to Mr. Scrooge......"to
keep Christmas all year round!"
    Have a great New Year's Eve and
dance the night ....and the year....away!
    Hope you've still got some "kid"
in you and that all your NEWS is


Friday, December 30, 2011

A Christmas Rendezvous!

    Wow! What a Christmas get away! What
a great time.
     A group of us headed north on Interstate
81 yesterday. We were headed for Binghamton
New York to share a bit of Christmas with
good friends who live in the Syracuse area.
     We go north...they come south....and we
meet at a Cracker Barrel that's generally in
the "middle."
      I've got to give "The Empire State"
credit! There's a Visitor's Welcome Center
along the Interstate that you might not
want to leave!
      The restrooms are spotless. And those
new high powered hand dryers feel like
they're strong enough to replace a jet engine
on a fighter plane!
       There are leather lounge chairs soft
enough to support a deep sleeper, a "Kids
section" to keep the little ones occupied,
Free Wi-Fi service (no password needed),
and flyer's on virtually every attraction
available in every section of the state!
        There are, of course, plenty of
vending machines too.
         If I'm every stranded in a snowstorm
(and that has happened to me twice) I'd
like it to be there!
         We moved along to our rendezvous.
         The Cracker Barrel is a favorite
spot. My buddy knows most of the
waitresses there by name. In fact he
even remembers some of their children's
        I've told you about this friend
before. He loves to take pictures. In
fact he takes between 75,000 and
100,000 photos each year!!!!
        That's why I nearly had a heart
attack when he aimed his camera my
way and suddenly reported...."My
memory card is full.....I didn't bring
a spare!"
        We called it "unbelievable." I
believe I heard his wife use the phrase
       Would there be no "Christmas
meeting pictures!?" No portrait of
all these friends together?
        Oh ye of little faith!
        Some time back.....and not very
far friend discovered the
"Delete switch" on his camera. He
used in on few shots he knew he didn't
need and...saved his own day!
      )Of course he'll probably get a
new card and go back to the places
where he took the now deleted scenes
to re-shoot them!)
        So our memories will be preserved
somewhere in that stack of 100,000
pictures from the year 2011.
         We'll get a copy. But it will have
to be pretty good to replace that vision
in my mind of my buddy realizing his
camera chip was full!
          Hope you've got plenty of
holiday memories and that all of your
NEWS is good!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

He Who Hesitates......

   Another busy Holiday Day for me Wednesday!
   We had a family gathering planned for early
afternoon. But, first, there were some errands to
be run!
    One involved that unexpected "Christmas Card"
that came the other day informing me that I had
won my lawsuit!
    Now, admittedly, I don't remember filing a
lawsuit. But, apparently, some time ago we were
asked to join  a "Class Action" proceeding
involving a Credit Card company that miscalculated
the exchange rate on purchases made during a
trip to Canada! My share was less than $20 but
it was more than I had before I opened the card!
    In my haste to pocket my new found wealth
I decided to buy my gasoline AFTER visiting the
bank. That........was a mistake!
    In the 15 minutes it took to handle my
financial transaction somebody at the gas station
got out his or her ladder and raised the price of
a gallon of "Regular" by 14cents a gallon!
    That's nearly a penny a minute!
    How the heck did they know I got that check!?
    Anyhow I pulled in.... and immediately out of
that station and headed to another within 3 miles.
    I hoped the news of my riches hadn't reached
the folks there as yet. And this time I got lucky!
    I'm told the rates probably will be going up
all over the place.
    Speculators are afraid that Iran may try to
close a vital waterway used by oil tankers. Of
course that hasn't happened yet. But they figure
why wait? David already has his check so let's
raise the price now!
     Well at least I beat one of the stations and
had a full tank to get to a fantastic family get
     Christmas lived on for still another day!
    Hope it did for you as well and that all your
NEWS is good!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

And the (Christmas) Beat Goes on!

  We continued our Christmas celebration
yesterday by joining hundreds of other people
who got out of the rain and into the movies!
   Christmas is a big time for movie
theaters. Kids are out of school and a lot of
people use the time between Christmas and
New Year's Day to get in that last week of
vacation before they lose it for 2011!
    Hollywood releases what it hopes will be
it's "Big Money Movies" just in time for
    We opted for "War Horse" and were very
happy with our choice. Other features like
"We Bought a Zoo", "The Adventures of
Tintin", and the latest chapters of  "Mission
Impossible", and  "Sherlock Holmes" are
just some of the offerings filling the big
screen this week.
     My $3 per fill pop corn bucket was good
till New Year's Eve so I got one more fill-up
for the year. The grand kids said it cracked
in the car soon after we left so, it seems,  I
got just enough mileage out of the container!
    We left the theater and headed out to
one of our favorite eateries for dinner.
    Our timing turned out to be perfect
there as well as we learned the place will
be closing in January for renovations.
    Kay's is truly a treasure!
    Located in Daleville, it is literally
a restaurant built around a "train-car-style"
diner that the owner rescued and
     I'm not sure how it's to be renovated.
     It's kind of a "classic" and most of us
like it pretty much the way it is.
     There are some hunting trophies
mounted on the walls.
     I guess we could get along without
the turkey and the deer that looks like
he almost made It through the wall!
     In any case, as long as the food stays
the same we'll have no complaints.
     So on Christmas Day plus two we
filled ourselves with a good movie,
good food, and great companionship!
     Hope you're doing the same and
that all  your NEWS is good! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

And The Gifts Just Keep Coming!

      I thought I had opened all the presents either
Christmas Eve or Christmas morning. But that
was not the case!
      Yesterday, the day after Christmas we loaded
the van with my wife, one daughter, two grand kids
and my buddy's wife and headed off to Scranton to
catch "The Nutcracker" presented by the Ballet
Theater of Scranton and Marywood University at
the school.
       Neither my son-in-law or my buddy joined
the expedition. They had their assorted reasons.
        But somewhere, down deep, I still wonder
if the thought of watching a lot of girls in tutus
dancing on their toes challenged their "guy
image." If so they would have been surprised
to see all the gentlemen, some very prominent,
in the audience!
        And besides, this annual performance is
truly a Christmas gift! The Ballet Theater and
Marywood have been offering it to the community
free of charge since 1976!  Artistic Director
Joanne Arduino helps keep alive the tradition
started by Constance Reynolds.

       It was a delightful show and Tchaikovsky's
music seems perfectly fitted for the Christmas
       We had the pleasure of meeting some
of the lead dancers and getting a look backstage
after the ballet, then headed for Nay Aug Park
where the Holiday Light Display was as
beautiful as ever.
        And, since it's after December 25th, there
were no long lines!
        Many homes near the park, and in other
sections of Scranton, are decorated with lights
and displays from porch o roof!
        And, by the way, YOU HAVEN'T MISSED
        The Nutcracker will  be presented today
and Wednesday at 2 and 7:30pm at Marywood
and you can stop at the box office there two
hours before each performance to get as many
tickets as you need.
         And don't have to dance!
         You just sit there and enjoy the talent
and the music. You'll look good to your
'significant other!'
         The Christmas lights at Nay Aug will
be glowing till "Russian Christmas" on or
about January 7th. And it's a pretty good
bet many of the homes with elaborate
lights and decorations will still be showing
them off a while longer since it obviously
took so long to put them up!
         If you got a bit frazzled getting ready
for Christmas this is your chance to just hop
in the car, drive to Scranton, and let the
sights and sounds of the season do the work
while you sit back and enjoy them!
        They're FREE kids! Hope you enjoy
them and that all your NEWS is good!         

Monday, December 26, 2011

T'was the Day After Christmas...

   First....Thanks to the many people who
responded to my Video Blogs on Christmas
Eve and Christmas Day!
    And now.....remember hearing all those
comments, right around Halloween, about
how we "rush Christmas" and how we hear
about it way too early these days?
    Well, as it turns out, Christmas is a little
like a drag race! Yep. There is a lot of noise
at the start. But then it speeds down the
track and, all of a sudden, it's over.
     So here we are, the day after Christmas,
and the wonderful anticipation has been
replaced with a rush to return gifts that
don't fit or don't work...:as advertised."
     As reported in an earlier blog I decided
to enjoy this "Christmas season" for as long
as I possibly could. That means from the
first ad on TV or the first sign of
decorations on a home to the very last
"visible" sign that we've moved on to
Martin Luther King Day or whatever.
     As a matter of fact I've already set
my sights on "Russian Christmas" which
falls on January 7th if memory serves me.
      The "rush to Christmas" I wrote about
is really the kick off for a concentrated
period of time when a lot of people, hopefully
if only momentarily, talk and act in a way that
reflects the real reason Christians celebrate
this holiday. The more we can extend
"Christmas" the better chance we have of
extending that "good will toward men."
       While it helps to have decorations and can do it without them!
        Give it a try and don't be surprised if
a lot more of your NEWS is good!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Return of the Shopping Cart!

     Just when I thought it was safe to forget
them......they pull me back in! The shopping
     I've complained about how people use
the carts, then let them sit wherever they
happen to be. In the driving lanes. Right
next to my car door. Occasionally in the
cart return lane, half in and half out.
     The carts and some of the people who
push them apparently see me coming!
     And the latest confrontations were
INSIDE the store!
     Yesterday my wife and I did some
shopping to get ready for the family
Christmas Eve gathering.
     The store was crowded with a lot of
other folks gathering their last minute
goodies. It was also crowded with it's
own displays. That, coupled with the
fact it's carts seem to be a bit larger than
the ones we usually see, made pushing
it around a real challenge.
    We only rammed one display (that I
can remember) and nothing actually
fell. It might be a good place to walk
student drivers around!
     Then came the check out.
     The lines, as you might expect,
were long!
     We saw an opening and moved over
to one with just one customer. And her
items had all been totaled.
      Her cart, filled to the brim, sat just
beyond the register. You know. The
spot where you would logically move
your cart to fill it as items were
scanned. But the woman disappeared!
     I don't know where she went.
    But there her cart sat, until the
check out girl took it upon herself
to push it out of our way. Of course
that took a minute or two.
     One foot away from us put the
cart into the way of somebody else.
     The carts!!! They're everywhere!
They're everywhere!   
     I don't know it the woman ever
came back to retrieve her purchases
......or her cart.
    We managed to negotiate ours
out the door, got it unloaded, and
parked in one of those return lanes.
     By now hers is probably unloaded
and sitting somewhere in the
parking lot driving lanes waiting for
me to return!
     I'm begining to hear the theme
from "Jaws" in my head whenever
we pull up to one of these stores!
     Hope you can get along with one
of those hand held baskets...and that
all your NEWS is good.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Necking?" maybe the title is a little
misleading. But it did get your
attention! And hear, or rather read,
me out!
  Our Wednesday excursion took
my wife, our friends, and me to
the Hometown Market.....again!
   This vast Farmer's, or Flea,
market is open every Wednesday
all year long.
    While there are always a few
vendors set up outside, their ranks
thin out in the rain or cold weather
and most of us "window" shoppers
stick to a building that houses all
kinds of items for sale under roof.
     And get more
than you expect!
      That was the case yesterday
when the women stopped by a
booth that featured little sculptured
and colored glass pieces that, once
attached to a chain, become beautiful
      I bought one for my wife.
     The proprietor was bagging our
purchase when he noticed my friend's
neck brace and realized he was in pain.
      He reached out, took my friend's
hand, and carefully squeezed some
sort of  "pressure point" that
immediately relieved some of my
buddy's neck pain!
     He shared the exercise with him
so he can help himself.
     Seeing the apparent success we
asked him about some back pain
and....sure enough.....he began to
demonstrate some techniques he
insists will deal with the pain.
      I was tempted to see if my
Medical Insurance card would
cover the cost of the necklace and
the advice but decided against it.
      His products are not
expensive and his advice was free.
      All in all it was a pretty good
      My wife's neck looks good
and my buddy's neck feels
better. We'll have to check to see
if the guy makes house calls!
      Hope you're not a pain in the
neck and that all your NEWS is

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Lug Nuts & Lunch!

    There are all kinds of Christmas
     Things like putting up the tree,
caroling, or decorating the house.
     One that I really love is truly a
"taste" of Christmas.
     It takes place at a family owned
and operated garage not far from my
    Every year in the week leading up
to Christmas Day the owners set up
a special table which is quickly
filled with all kinds of goodies!
    They bring most of the feast.
    A few customers contribute too.
    Yesterday I found all sorts of
cold cuts and cookies. There was
"Pulled Pork" with fresh rolls.
     I came across this holiday spread
by accident a few years back when
I stopped in to have some minor
repairs to my car.
     It's a regular stop throughout the
year. They always have something
around the place for their lunch. And
they always share whatever it is with
anybody who comes it.
     Christmas week is a "must stop"
for those of us in the know. And
you don't have to have anything
wrong with your car to get an
     I brought some Kielbasa to the
table. One of the mechanics quickly
cut it into bite sized pieces then
heated the smoked meal on a coal
fire. It was delicious!
     The setting reminds us of the
old days in the neighborhood
barber shop where folks gathered
to do business, relax, and chat at
the same time.
     With a background of wheel
alignments and vehicle inspections
there's a true feeling of Christmas
in the place. And everybody is like
      I won't identify the establishment
in this public forum. The guys sound
car horns...not their own.
     Besides, this way, there's more for
those of use who know this Christmas
      Hope you've got friends like this.
      If you do I'm sure all your NEWS
is good!  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Snoopy VS...............

  Snoopy, the dog from the "Peanuts"
comic strip, has become one of those
characters we now associate with
  He's a big part of  "A Charlie Brown
Christmas", the animated holiday
special which has run every year since
it debuted on CBS way back in 1965.
  A song depicting his on going battle
with the "Red Barron" hit number 2
on the charts during Christmas week
in 1966.  A follow up tune had the
beagle and the Barron confronting
each other again on Christmas Eve.
   I was thinking about Snoopy
   Regular readers of this blog may
recall my "Wee Paws" column of
last Thursday when I pointed out
there has been an invasion of cats
in our development. I've been seeing
them everywhere!
   Except yesterday!
   I came home after doing my
weekly TV show on Electric City
Television and there wasn't a cat to
be seen!
    There was, however, a Beagle
walking the road next to my house!
    He was not wearing the leather
World War I flying helmet we've
come to associate with Snoopy.
   But he was wearing some kind
of body "vest" that showed me
he, unlike the cats, belonged to
somebody. (Maybe it was the
rest of Snoopy's aviator's uniform?)
   He had a short leash which had
probably broken allowing him to
go for an unattended stroll.
    He didn't bark. He wasn't
aggressive. But I guess the cats
didn't know that!
    It looked kind of like he was
following some of the same paths
where I've seen the felines.
    I hope he found his way home.
    I'm also hoping his owners will
repair that leash!
    Pets aren't suppose to be
allowed to wander around the
place unattended. I guess the cats
don't know that either.
    In any case I'm happy the Beagle
passed by today. Maybe it's just a
coincidence......but he was there...
and the cats were not!
    They're probably out there
hiding somewhere saying....
"Curses, foiled again!"
    I hope that's the case and that
all your NEWS is good!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas is for .....Children?

    I suppose you've heard the song at one
time or another. The lyrics proclaim
that "Christmas is for children."
    But another line in the same ballad asks
"aren't we all Children on Christmas day"?
    I'd suggest many of us are children
throughout Christmas (truth be told...maybe
a lot longer than that!). Maybe it's the
"toys", not the people, that change through
the years.
    The guys who used to wait for the
electric train or the football are now
checking out the big screen HDTV's and
the Sporting goods department.
    The girls who have followed Barbie
through the years can now be spotted
checking out wardrobes for themselves.
    They're just bigger kids these days!
    And let's face it...even some of the
toys still grab our attention!
    Two of our good friends joined us
as we checked out one of the popular
"Big Box" stores in Schuylkill
County yesterday.
   They helped keep tabs on my
grandson who is at the stage where
everything in the Toy department
must be touched and picked up.
    Surely some adult supervision
could curb those instincts. Right?
    Well you might think so.
    But then my friends came across
some sort of "Elmo" toy. You know,
the character from Sesame Street.
    At least I think it was "Elmo."
    Anyway It sat inside a box with a
drum under each hand...or paw...or
whatever those animals have.
    But the box had an opening just
big enough for a finger. The sign
above the little opening read.....
"Push here..Try Me" or something
along that line.
    If you follow those instructions
"Elmo" begins to sing and play the
    But it was my friend....then his
wife.....and finally my grandson....
who decided that each of the 30
some "Elmos" stacked on the
floor should be tested simultaneously!!!!!
   And they all worked!!!!
   I tried to disassociate myself from
the impromptu concert.
   Maybe I was afraid some store
clerk would complain.
   Or maybe I was just upset because
they got to work the darn things
BEFORE I thought of it!
    It  was my buddy who was working
the switches and sound effects on
a quad designed for a 4-year-
old to ride.
    And his wife was the one who
pointed out and accurately
identified the two kinds of SUV's
in a radio controlled set boxed on
a Toy department shelve.
    On the other hand it was my
grandson who quoted the price of a
printer he had seen in another store
when we happen by the printer
display at this outlet!
     If Santa was watching closely
my grandson could end up with an
HP printer while my buddy finds
"Elmo" under his tree.
    It may be time to rewrite that
    Hope you're a kid at Christmas
(and whenever you feel like it) and
that all your NEWS is good!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Unusual "Decorations"

  I've really been impressed by all the
decorations I've seen so far this year. least most "decorations."
   There's a wide variety of lights.
   The old fashion strings, the newer mini
lights, the LED's, and the specialities
(like the icicles and such) are all mixed
together this year.
    Then there are those huge globes
with all sorts of characters inside. Some
even look like its snowing inside. And
a few even play music!
    As I said.....I'm very impressed.
    But as I walk I've seen a whole lot
of other "decorations" I don't quite
    They have obviously blown off the
trees along side the road.I mean.....
nobody in his or her right mind would
simply throw them out their car window!
     Someone must have run out of the
usual light strings and decided to
decorate the Forest with things like
empty cups, potato chip bags, pens,
lighters, anti freeze and oil containers.
     I'm sure their intent was to use
everyday items to help us all
celebrate Christmas.
     Unfortunately when the wind blows
them to the ground they take on the
appearance of litter!
     And like the "usual" Christmas
decorations, I've seen more than ever
this year!
     I'm reminded of a trip we took to
Switzerland a couple years ago.
     You didn't seen anything like that
along the roadsides there. Maybe their
car windows don't roll down!
     I really prefer the more
traditional lights to the torn candy bar
     Hope you're not among the roadside
"decorators" and that all your NEWS
is good!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A "Little" shopping!

  I had a few hours to myself the other day and
set out to pick up a gift or two I had in mind.
  That done, I had some time to just drive around
to see what else I could find. My shopping, that
which isn't done, will have me on the road again
Monday and Tuesday next week.
   But my "drive around" turned out to be kind
of fun. And interesting!
   First I stopped for hot dogs at a small place
along Main Street in Pittston. It's one of those
places where "regulars" and "visitors",like me,
are likely to sit at the counter and share sections
of the newspaper as we feast on "two dogs with
everything." Others sat and chatted on either
side of tables set up in small booths. A few
Christmas decorations were set out here and
    I didn't know anyone in the place.  Yet, there
was a cozy "home town" sort of atmosphere
that gave me the spirit of the season along
with the tang of the chili sauce on the hot dog!
    There's a Train Shop a couple blocks away.
    Just a look in the window brought back
 memories of the days when I waited
 anxiously....first for the Lionel Train
Catalog....then for Christmas morning to see
if one of those new trains was among the
presents under the tree.
    I was actually headed through another
small town when I spotted a small Sports
Shop. I don't know exactly what prompted
me to stop. It might have been the word
"Archery" on the sign.
   Many years ago I taught archery at the
YMCA in Hazleton. A State Champion
had taught me. But I haven't picked up
a bow for years and the days when I made
my own arrows were well before the
development of the modern "Compound"
bows that are used now.
   I actually had to pull and hold the
string under my own power.
   It was a nice little shop with an owner
who loves to chat. I stayed longer than
planned. He was cleaning what looked
like a either a 350 Magnum or a small
cannon so I thought it polite to listen as
long as he wanted to go on.
   That turned out to be awhile!
   Fortunately, like a tag team in
wrestling, another customer walked in
and took over.  I said hello to him,
goodbye to the proprietor, and slipped
    The "little" stores don't get the
attention they used to back in the day.
     That's too bad.
     Many have a lot to offer!
     Maybe a comfortable place to eat.
     Maybe some memories of Christmas
     Or maybe just a chat with a guy
cleaning a gun!
     Hope you'll do a "little" Christmas
shopping too and that all your NEWS
is good!

Friday, December 16, 2011

For The Man (or Woman) Who Has Everyting!

    An after dinner excursion the other day
lead us to one of those "unusual" stores
where you never know just what you'll
    My friend had described it as a
"Hardware" store. And, indeed, there
were plenty of items that fell into the
hardware category. But even those
included tools you wouldn't expect to
find in your normal took box!
   In fact some of them would never
fit in a normal tool box!
   There were, for instance, Crow Bars
that had to stand 5 feet high! How about
a wrench so big you'd expect to use it on
the gears of a Railroad locomotive!
    There were all kinds of flashlights.
    And, at least for the time being,
"old fashioned" light bulbs. Get 'em
while you can.
    Just a row away we found all kinds
of items for pets.
    Then there were the T-Shirts. A
nice variety of colors. But, considering
the fact the store is just outside of
Hazleton the "Colorado Rockies" logo
and pictured baseball players had me
a bit puzzled! I wouldn't be surprised
to see that stock on the shelves for
quite awhile!
     I spotted ink cartridges for
printers. But there were only two
kinds! You'd have to be pretty lucky
to find they matched your printer!
    Still, this store offered the chance
to find the ind of thing I'm always
looking for......something neat!
    And, as it happens, I did pick up
a couple of things during our brief
    They did not, however, include
a huge Crowbar or giant wrench!
    Hope you happen upon this or
similar shops in your travels and
that all your NEWS is good!



Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wee Paws for..........

   I try to take a short walk  most mornings.
   Sometimes threatening weather, or getting
up late, prompts me to walk around our own
Mobile home development.
    It's been a busy place lately.
    We have lots of new neighbors!
    Construction crews have been working for
weeks to set up trailers which will provide
temporary housing for people displaced by
the flooding that him communities in our
area back in September.
     But.........they're not the new neighbors
I'm writing about!
     There are MANY others. And they are all
     During yesterday's morning stroll I
counted 6. At least there were 6 that I
actually saw.  
     I've seen many others during the year.
     As far as I can tell 2 may actually belong
to somebody.
     A lot of people like cats.
     I think they're probably great pets....for
some folks..
     But the "unattended heard"around here
seems to be growing and growing.
     Circumstantial evidence suggests that
one resident may be fostering their
development then sending each new batch
out soon after they arrive.
      There's something wrong with her
supply and demand theory!
      Now, it's beginning to look a lot like
Egypt! They are wandering around
       If they'd wander a little further they
might find their way to the SPCA. That
would be good for both the cats and the
home owners who aren't looking for
       Or maybe some of the other new
neighbors will take them in......then take
them along when they return to their
repaired homes.
       That would be nice.
       People who want pets, whatever the
species, should  take care of  them!
       Too many do not!
       Hope the cats all find good homes....
somewhere else.... and that all of
your NEWS is good.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Rose, by any name......

   My apologies to all!
   You know how I love to point out
those "Special Days" that few people
know about and fewer actually
   Well I missed a big one this week!
   But, since it's so related to
Christmas, I thought I'd write about it
now so you can mark it on next year's
   Monday,December 12th. was
"National Poinsettia Day!"
   I kid you not!  An act of Congress
declared it to be so!
   I had no idea this "holiday" existed
and certainly knew nothing of the story
behind it!
   December 12th was picked because
it was the day, in 1851, when Joel
Roberts Poinsettia passed away!
   Joel was the first Ambassador to
Mexico and the man who first brought
the plant, now associated with
Christmas, back to the United States.
   He grew them at his plantation in
South Carolina and gave them to
friends as gifts.
   That's the basic story.
   But it leaves several questions
   What, for instance, did the Mexicans
call the plant?
   Did Joel name the plant after
himself or was that a Congressional
   And why do so many people ignore
its proper pronunciation?
   I can't answer the first two.
   But I can tell you that Poinsettia,
like the man for whom it's named,
is pronounced (Poin-set-ee-uh), not
    You might want to point that out
to some announcers (and a couple
of florists too!). 
     And even though we, or at least
I, have missed the actual "Holiday"
it's nice to know the late Ambassador's
efforts are still such a big part of our
Christmas celebrations!
     Hope you enjoy the Poinsettia, know
how to pronounce it, and that all your
NEWS is good! 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

You can't get there from here!

    I should begin by admitting the writing
was on the wall. Or, in our case, the lights
were on the dash!
    The dash is in my wife's car. In keeping
with the season it was lit like a Christmas
tree for the past couple days.
     The outline of the image of a battery
was highlighted in red with a matching brake
light and "Service engine soon" illuminated
in yellow.
      Plans were in the works to get the
vehicle to our repairman. But before they
could be finalized the car just stopped
      My wife managed to pull it into the
safety of a school parking lot before losing
     Now the trick was to get it to our
garage. It's about two miles from the spot
where she parked. But we would need a tow
     One of our credit card companies offers
towing as one of its services. So  we started
with a call there. As far as we could tell the
operator was probably in California.
     I probably should point out there's a
popular towing company about 300 yards
away from the car! But we had to make
sure the credit card company has that
tow operator on its list.
     But to begin the process the operator
has to get all kinds of information.
     You know, year and make of car.
      The license number.....the license
number!!!!!! Neither of us know it
right off hand although my wife did
remember that something on the plate
did look a little like Kentucky Fried
      The operator said she could
probably do without the plate number
and laughed when we  said we were
glad we hadn't reached "Peggy."
(From the TV commercials)
     The biggest delay, it seems, was
the fact that mailing addresses don't
always reflect where you are!
      We, the tow company, and the
garage are all in Plains Township
within two miles of each other.
      But we all have variations of
a Wilkes-Barre mailing address.
      That can be a bit confusing to an
operator who never heard of either
place! Good think we didn't get
       In the end the computers must
have figured things out because my
daughter and wife drove by the
school on their way to a party and
her car was gone.
       Either the "Hook" got the car or
some poor unsuspecting thief had
driven off into the night. If it's the
former our mechanics are working
on the problem. If it's the latter the
car will have shut down within about
three blocks and the crook will have
a much longer walk than expected!
      Either way I'll be glad to see it
again....just to check the license
      Hope your car is running smooth,
that you know your plate number, and
that all your NEWS is good 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Luck is his companion, Gambling is his game!

    Those lines, from the old television show
"Maverick", went running through my head
last night as my wife and I attended the
annual WBRE/WYOU Christmas party.
    We look forward to the event, in part,
because it gives us a chance to get together
with an old photographer friend and his wife.
     He and I are both retired and the party is
one of the few times each year we see each
other. We also have many friends among
the the crowd that's still working at the
     So there's great company, good food and,
for some, prizes.
     The highlight of each party is a drawing
for a bag full of prizes gathered, usually
through the Sales Department, from area
      As retirees, however, our names don't
go into the hat!
      That's OK! We're just happy to have
been invited and, truth be told, I won a
couple of certificates over the years when
I was still an active newsman.
      Still, the yen to win was there.
      And, luckily, the party was at the
Mohegan Sun Casino!
     So, after we finished desert and said
thank you and good bye, we headed
out onto the casino floor to win our
     Picking the right machine is very
important. My wife circled the floor
for a quarter hour searching for one
that would call out "play me!"
     I didn't actually hear the call. But
I left her to play the one she picked
while I looked around some more to
find one that lured me!
     The one I found had some of the
traditional 7's on the dial as well as
some diamonds and other neat stuff.
     Laugh if you will. But, in the end
I walked away with 8 Big ones!
    No.....not eight hundred....eight big
ones. You know, one dollar bills!
    My original five dollars had
dwindled down to $2.25 when I spun
the wheels and some lights started
flashing! The little dial that displayed
my $2.25 suddenly started going
higher till it finally stopped at
   I decided to take the money and
   I had played and/or walked around
for about 60 minutes. So the way I
figure it that comes out to eight bucks
an hour.
   I should go every day!
   Of course my wife wasn't as lucky.
   She lost a quarter.
   I intend to give her mine so she'll be
even and I'm still eight "Big Ones"
   Between that and the cans I took to
the Recycling Center two weeks ago
I've got at extra $16!
   There will be Christmas this year!
   Hope you're lucky too and that all
your NEWS is good! 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Blockbuster Bargains!

   With just two weeks left till Christmas
efforts to fill our gift lists have heated up.
   Yesterday found us at one of our many
favorite wine shops. My daughter and my
wife sacrificed themselves to do the
sampling while I did the "kid sitting"
with my grandson in the car.
   We were out along Route 6 not from
from Honesdale.
   The trip back home should, and could,
have been easy had I stayed with the
Casey Highway.
   Instead I decided to get off the
"Business Route" to drive through
  That's where the girls spotted one
of those "Dollar stores."
   It's amazing how many items you
never knew you needed await you in
such establishments!
   In the "Toy" section, for instance,
my grandson found at least a half
dozen items he felt he couldn't
live without! I became slightly
suspicious however when he had to
ask me what a couple of them were
after telling us he wanted them.
   In all fairness we did find a few
"stocking stuffers" for child and
adult alike. And, of course, they
didn't cost am arm and a leg.
   Just when I though we had seen
everything we realized that the city
still boasts an operational
"Blockbuster" Video store.
   I had been under the impression
all those outlets had closed.
   But I was wrong. The store was
open and offering some reasonable
deals on some movies on its "For
Sale" list.
   We found a copy of "A Christmas
Story" and just had to have it.
   I failed to buy one when we visited
the house where portions of the movie
were filmed in Cleveland two years
ago. Although we did buy a "Reunion"
video featuring much of the cast during
that trip.
  My copy of the classic movie was
on VHS tape.
   So, while at Blockbuster. I bought
the DVD!
   I got a good deal. But I would have
loved to find it in the "Dollar Store!"
   Between the wine, the stocking
stuffers, and Ralphie's eternal movie
quest for a Red Rider BB Gun, it
turned out to be a very successful
bargain hunt.
    And, as I'm sure Yogi would say,
"It ain't over till Christmas!"
    Hope you search out some good
deals at fun places and that all your
NEWS is good!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Getting the boot! (Or not)

      Our Christmas shopping lead us to
one of those co-operative market places
yesterday. It's one of those places where
vendors who work for themselves share
space with others who are also trying to
peddle their wares. We used to just call
them "'Flea Markets!"
        You just never know what you're
going to find in this kind of shopping
mart. But it's a pretty good bet you'll
find an item or two that attract your matter what your taste.
         We saw jewelry, tools, antiques,
musical instruments, toys, clothes,
electronics, car accessories, and ......
then.....the boots!
         It was a fairly large display of
rubber boots. I should say..."designer"
rubber boots. You know. The kind that
might feature bright colors, polka dots,
even one pair with little green frogs.
         As I noted in an earlier blog my
wife and I are usually together on these
shopping explorations. She liked some
of the boots. But you don't buy
something like that unless you know
you've got the right size. try
them on.
         Now, as it happens, these rubber
boots don't slip on like bedroom
slippers. In fact, in the middle of this
merchandise mart, trying on the boots
became a two-person operation. I
'aimed' and got them started. She
pulled them into place.
         We found two pair that fit pretty
well, and one that were just about
perfect........except the color and
design wasn't exactly right.
         These boots may have been
made for walking.......But 30 minutes,
and several "tried pair" later we walked
away from the display wearing the same
shoes she came in with!
         I think I know the size now. So,
if I find myself shopping alone and
come across that size in green with
Frogs I may just pick them up. Or
maybe not.
        Hope you find the "perfect fit"
and that all your NEWS is good!

Friday, December 9, 2011

Getting "Carded"

     There's a name that should be as much
a part of Christmas as Frosty the Snowman.
     But I'll bet you won't recognize it.
     It's Sir Henry Cole.
     His claim to fame?
     Well, back in 1843 Sir Henry created the
first Commercial Christmas Card!
      Hallmark should have a shrine to this
      Nearly two Billion cards are sent in this
country each year although the number has
been on the decline since e-cards became
      My family has always been big on
Christmas cards. We mail many and
send a lot by e-mail as well.
     There are, of course, all kinds of
cards available.
      One of my old and closest friends
has turned his annual greeting into a sort
of newsletter highlighting his family's
activities throughout the outgoing
year. My goal each year is to get a
line or two in his Christmas letter!
      That makes me feel like I've
really "made it!"
       My wife and I have been
producing our own cards over the
past few years......all based on the
movie "A Christmas Story" which
is usually broadcast on an least one
station for 24 hours straight on
Christmas Day.
     I'm not sure this is what Sir
Henry had in mind.....but I'd like to
share this year's offering with all of
you who have been taking the time
to read my daily blog!

     And...Yes...that is real soap!
     Hope you like the card and that all your NEWS
is good!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

All I Want For Christmas Is _______

    You've got to envy the kid in the song
who knew exactly what he wanted for
Christmas. Of course most kids do!
     But getting a Christmas list together
these days seems to have become a major
     My wife and I buy for each other.
     That's tough enough because we're
always shopping together so it's kind of
hard to come up with any surprises.
     The rest of our family, with the
exception of the children, participate
in a "Secret Santa name swap" and
just buy for the person whose name
we've drawn.
      So that we don't know who has
whose name we just put out a general
list of gifts each of us has put together.
       Getting everyone to have their
list ready sometime before Christmas
has become a real challenge.
        I'm constantly thinking of things
I need or would like to have.....until
December rolls around. Ask me then
and my mind goes blank! 
        If  I can't come up with any
specifics I generally reply to the
question of what I want with the same
stock answer....."Something neat!"
       Truth be told....I've never been
disappointed! And those who have had
the task of coming up with something
for me have always come through!
      If it's electronic, unusual, or
video in nature I'll probably love it.....
even if I don't know exactly what it
is! If a kid would like it.....I probably
will too!
      This year I actually came up with
a short list. But I won't hold anyone to
it if my suggestions are replaced with
......yep......something neat!
     Hope you get whatever you're
asking for and that all your NEWS is

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sweet Music and some Sour notes!

     If you've got kids you surely
know that Christmas time means School
Christmas Concerts!
     Since our kids are grown we're now
on our "second round That is " Grand kid's
school concerts!
      We went to one last night and I have to
tell you I give it mixed reviews.
      The kids were fantastic!
       But some of the people in the audience
were just unbelievable!
       The kids are up there on stage getting
ready to sing and a few parents feel it
necessary to shout out their kid's name.
        Since these kids are all in elementary
school I think it's safe to assume their
parents probably drove them to the
concert. Given that assumption the kids
already know their parents are there in
the audience.  Knowing the exact seat
doesn't seem to be information that needs
to be shared with the rest of those who
have come to see the performance!
        I sat in the first row of the balcony
with my video camera. The idea was to
get a good shot of everyone on stage and
capture as much of the music as I could.
        If you see my video you'll see all
the kids and you'll hear the music.
       You'll also hear a voice or two.
       That's from some of the
people sitting nearby who decided the
concert was a good venue for some "small
talk"....even while kids were preforming.
        You know the kids are learning
music and some "stage presence."
        It might be nice to have a class in
theater etiquette for some of those in the
         While there weren't many that
interfered I get the feeling the few that did
might have evolved from the days of
vaudeville when the audience was
sometimes known to bring rotten apples into
the theater to toss at the acts they didn't
         But even that crowd would have
been let holding their fruit because the
kids were just THAT GOOD!
         Hope your concerts are filled
with sweet music and that all your NEWS
is good!      

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

He's Everywhere...he's everywhere!

      I spoke before the Scranton Chapter
of AARP yesterday!
      And, as it happens, I was sort of the
"Opening Act" for the group's annual
Christmas meeting.
      They have their own choral group
that provided a medley of Christmas
Carols and in the middle of their
offering of "Here comes Santa Claus"
       I had just seen Mr. Claus in
Covington Township on Sunday. I'm
not sure he remembered. But, after all,
he's been making the rounds seeing
thousands....nay.....maybe millions
of people in these last few weeks
before the big day arrives.
     I ran into him in Plains Township
a week ago. I got to say hello there
as the Lions Club escorted him into
     I've seen him at some other
venues over the past couple of weeks
too. I didn't always have a chance to
chat but I know he knows I'm there!
     I know Santa has helpers that
appear in some venues on his behalf
from time to time.
     But this was obviously the big
guy himself yesterday! He called me
by name!
     Yea, I know. It was right after my
speech and he could have been
listening when I was introduced.
     But he had that perfect "Santa
Claus voice."  In fact he sounded
almost exactly like the guy who's
vice president of the group.'s the thing.
    I can't always tell when it's a
"helper" so, just in case, I always
make sure to remind "Santa" that
I've been very good. In fact I
usually use the term "very, very
good! It may be a slight
exaggeration. But you've got to
"sell" the story!
     The way I see it, if he is too
busy these days, a little reminder
can't hurt.
     I'll be looking for him everywhere
I go this month!
     Hope you get a chance to see
him too and that all his NEWS,
for you, is good.   

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Homecoming

     So I guess you could say it was a
typical Sunday out....for us!
     We headed out for dinner and were
on our way to check out a camper we
keep near an area lake when I spotted
some cars parked near an old mansion!
     We turned around to check it out and
found ourselves in the midst of 
beautiful decorations, refreshments, a
choral group, crafts for the kids under
the supervision of area Boy Scouts,
a juggler, and, Santa Claus!
      One weekend each December Covington
Township opens its office in the former
Maffat family Mansion  (they once
owned the Maffat Coal Company) and
hosts a Christmas Open house. It's a sort
of "Homecoming" except you're welcome
even if Covington Township isn't,or
wasn't ever, your home!
      It's really great! Especially for the
      Those crafts I mentioned turn out as
home made Christmas ornaments and/or
backyard treats for the birds. My grand kids
made both.
      They also tried their hand a juggling.
      It seems that's not their calling!
      There was a model train..actually
steam operated.....and they got a chance
to run the controls.
       We all also got a change to climb on
board a wagon pulled by two huge horses
for a short ride to the Township's new
pavilion and playground. The "climb"
part proved a little more challenging for
us older kids. But, heck, it's all for fun.
       The price was the best part. There
wasn't any! The Township offers this
Christmas treat free of charge as an offer
of Community Christmas Spirit!
       There are opportunities similar to
this one in small towns throughout our
       The Dietrich Theater in Tunkannock,
for instance, offers two free showings of
"It's A Wonderful Life" on December 13th.
       The Plains Township Lions Club
ran it's annual parade escorting Santa into
town last week and handed out more than
200 free goodie bags to all the kids who
turned out.
       I'm sure there are a lot more. In fact
I keep searching for them! I'm getting
better in finding them......but the
"climbing part" may take a bit more
       Hope you're seeking out some of
those community treasures too. If so
I'm certain all your NEWS will be good!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Let's Hear It For The Boys!

     It's been about 20 years since my son
and I spent the better part of most weekends
going to BMX Bicycle races at tracks in
communities scattered throughout the state.
     This year, however, he decided to get
back into the sport. That's probably what
prompted my grandson to give it a try too!
      It is not an easy sport!
      If you'd like to have a look just call
up my Facebook site and you can watch
a couple of motos.
      Riders have to negotiate a series of
banks, bumps, and turns (not all left by
the way) while trying to pedal faster
than up to 7 competitors running the
same course.
     You wear all your safety gear and
there are no roll cages to protect you
should you go down!
      Way back when my son first got
into BMXing I got on his bike at
the top of the starting hill just to ride
the track myself one time.
      The mandatory helmet hid the
terror in my eyes. Thank goodness
I wasn't actually racing. Two groups
behind me could have passed by the
time I made it around the track!
      As a newcomer my grandson is
still learning the ropes. He starts as
a "Novice."  Since he was
starting over after so many years my
son had to begin-again as a "Novice" too.
      After 8 First place finishes you
move up to the next category.
     My son managed that this season
just in time for the final race of the
year at our "Home" track.
      But, since there was no one else
his age and an "Intermediate" rider
he found himself up against four
other riders aged 15, 16, and 17!
     Three were "Experts!"
     He didn't make it to the Main
race. But the "kids" he was up
against in his final motto knew he
was there! In fact he lead both for
a time and one till the final turn!
     My grandson won both of his
first two motos but  found himself
running second in his last race....
until the final straightaway when
he pushed his way ahead to take
his third First place finish in as
many weeks!
    Now we're looking forward to
visiting a BMX track in New York
which is under a roof!
     It should be a lot of long
as I don't have to get on a bicycle!
     I thought I might give it another
try this morning. But, as you know,
this is "Wear Brown Shoes Day"
and I don't want to scuff mine on
the pedals!
     Hope you're in the lead, whatever
your sport, and that all your NEWS
is good!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Sub Titles!

   I'm a big fan of Closed Caption TV!
   I often use the CC option on my
television. Sometimes it's to make up
for some hearing loss that undoubtedly
goes back to my days as a DJ.
   Sometimes it's just a courtesy to
my wife to like to concentrate on her
reading while I'm watching some
"Adventure movie" on AMC or the
   Sometimes it's just to see what
the anchor or reporter really means
to say when the pronunciation falls
a bit short of perfection. (Ever hear
some of them say "Double Ya" for
the letter W?"
    The other night I really welcomed
those sub titles that were rolling
across the screen. And I didn't even
have my Closed Caption turned on!
    The program was one of those new
"Reality shows" that have taken over
television these days.
    It's called "Big Shrimpin'"
    The 'stars' are Shrimp boatmen
from down around Louisiana.
    They all speak English....well sort
    It's the same story with another
series from the same general region
called "Swamp People."
    The producers have wisely decided
to include the sub titles so viewers
have at lease a small chance to know
what these guys are actually saying!
    There's also a narrator, without
caption, to help set the scene and
explain the situation.
     It gives me an idea for a new
     How about a program where the
"shrimpers" and the "Swamp People"
have to deal with the character "Peggy"
from the credit card commercials!?
     We'll need the caption! But it could
be a lot of fun for y'all!
     Hope you've got the patience to
watch and read the screen at the same
time and that all your NEWS is good! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

I Saw The Light!

  The sun came out yesterday prompting
my wife to get out her "To Do list!"
   We recently bought a string of LED
Christmas lights and she decided it was
a perfect day to put them up outside our
front porch.
   As with most of our household projects
at our place my role is pretty much that
of an assistant and/or "go for."
   It's kind of funny because my wife will
say something like..."Maybe we should
run them around this window and down
the side?" It's phrased like a question.
   But there's no need to answer because, in
reality, it's a declaration.
   The process involves stapling the light
string in place. You'd like to have it go
all around the door and window frames.
   But, somehow, the folks who produce
the Christmas lights seem to have the
ability to make the strings just a little
too short to go exactly where you want.
   I guess the idea is to sell more lights.
   At least they all worked when we
plugged them in.
   I remember the days when they would
all light up when you tried them inside
but didn't once they were strung in
place!  Then you had to figure out which
of the 20 or 30 bulbs had burned out.
  Back then it only took one bad one to
shut off the whole string!
   Even though they don't work that way
anymore I was happy to "see the light!"
   The inside decorations are a whole
other story.
    My wife has those packed away in
about a half dozen big plastic storage
    Each seem to hold about a half a ton
of ceramic snowmen and other Christmas
related items.
    I got lucky when she began the task of
putting all that stuff out. I lifted a few of
the items on our high shelves..then fell
asleep on the couch. By the time I ended
my nap most of the job was done and I
only had to put the plastic storage bins
   The place looks pretty good, inside and
out. Of course the tree still has to go up.
   Now I'm really looking to "keep
 Christmas" as long as possible! If we
let it end I'll have to help pack things up
   Hope you're all decorated , have some time
to nap on the couch, and that all your NEWS
is good!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Short Term" Shopping!

    Some things don't turn out exactly as
you expect!
    That was the case yesterday when my
wife and I sat with a good friend at he
VA Hospital while her husband was
undergoing surgery.
    The surgery went well.
    It was our visit that offered a surprise!
    There are some things you'd expect
to find in a hospital.
    You know, bandages, aspirins, stuff
like that.
     But what about big screen TVs,
leather jackets, and photo printers?
     Those are just a few of the items
that caught my eye as we turned a corner
on a stroll to the cafeteria and found
ourselves in the Hospital Gift Shop!
     Did I say Gift Shop? A lot of
stores could take a lesson from this
     Of course my wife's eye spotted a
few choice items too. And, before I
knew it, our lunch break turned into
a Christmas shopping trip!
    Who would have thunk it!!!!!!
     Actually this turned into one
shopping trip I didn't mind.
     The merchandise was cool, the
prices were good, and there were
absolutely no shopping carts
blocking my path!
      You find the darnedest things in
the darnedest places!
       You'd be hard pressed to beat
the company too! Lots of people
who served our country getting a
little bit of the attention they
       Hope you'll discover some
Christmas "treasures" round the
corner too and that all your NEWS
is good!