2016

I don’t make resolutions but I do set goals. Is there a difference? Probably only in my mind as I tell myself goals are harder to break. Unlike resolutions I do try to create a plan of action to accomplish those goals. That being said….

I am squinting down the barrel of a rapidly approaching sixty-sixth year and once again it is time for reflection and assessment. I look at my goals from 2015 and find I was able to meet some, other’s not so much. The ones met or almost met dealt with physical fitness but I am not sure I did anything about my emotional and mental well-being at all. Consequently, my 2016 goals will reflect a change paradigm…I hope.

1. I will focus on the effort of my physical labor and not on the outcome. Running, walking or cycling are as important for my head as they are for my body but I am not going to sweat the small stuff…my knees on the other hand….

2. I will become more self-reliant and self-sufficient. No I’m not going to build an “end of the world bunker” but I will adopt some of the philosophies of my grandparents. I will grow heirlooms veggies and save the seed for next year…starting with tomatoes. No matter how hot it is in August, I will can the bounty of my garden. A few chickens…? For some reason I want to make cheese.
3. I will take control of my life and my yard and my home with it. I will no longer be a “rudderless ship” with a “honey do” list that grows longer while my life-line grows shorter. I will learn to work better instead of longer.

4. I will write something daily…even if it is just a shopping or a “to do” list.

5. If I write a “to do” list, I will complete at least one “to do” before I sleep.

6. I will read something daily…even if it is a cereal box at breakfast. If it is a cereal box, I will make sure it is a healthy cereal.

7. I will not let Social Media control my life but I will confront lies and unfriend poisonous people. Life is just too short.

8. I will be more aware and diligent of the needs of my family and friends. Again life is too short.

9. I will become more spiritual. Not just my relationship with my God and my Christ, I will become spiritually in tune with my life and its surroundings. I will be a good steward of my world. Again life is too short.

10. I will quit saying “life is too short” and live my life as if “life is too short.”

11. I will be the husband, father, grandfather, brother and person I need and want to be.

12. I will take time to “smell the roses” and enjoy the “little” things because “Life’s….” Damn, I have already broken 9…it’s okay it is still 2015.

I welcome you all to 2016 and hope we will all work together to make it a memorable year. May we all put our political, cultural and racial differences aside. As I embrace my aging “Spock” “Live long and prosper.”

GET AFTER ‘UM TIGERS!

I am a long time Clemson Tiger fan, albeit a bad one. I actually pull for the Gamecocks when they are not playing the Tigers. I have just had too many former players who opted to play for the “dark side” not to pull for USC East. Tiger friends, please forgive me.

I began my worship of football at a Clemson game in the early Sixties when invited by a friend and his family to go and watch my friend’s brother play at Death Valley. I guess that is when I became a full-fledged Tiger fan and began to worship before the altar that is football. Memorial Stadium was not the cathedral it is now but Death Valley sure did beat the heck out of Indian Land on a Friday night.

I got to meet the “minister” of the gridiron Tigers, legendary coach Frank Howard, and could not help but remember our introduction later when I went to a coach’s dinner featuring him as a speaker. The man was a riot and I had a hard time reconciling this Frank Howard with the same man I had met earlier. I guess it was his pregame jitters. A different time in 1976, Howard told a joke on Willie Jefferies, the hall of fame coach for the predominately black South Carolina State University Bulldogs. Howard joked about attending a State practice trying to pick up a nugget of information that might lead to a victory and noticed all of the footballs were painted dark green with lighter green stripes. When asked why Jefferies responded with a question, “You ever seen a black boy drop a watermelon?” The laughter was led by Jefferies, a black man himself with tears rolling down his cheeks.

My playing days were different from my coaching days. I never played with or against anyone who was a different color. When I coached I found out there was but one color that mattered on a football field and that was the color of the jersey you wore. An avowed racist of any color would help, hug, stand up for and drink after members of the other races during their entire careers. I hope this carried over into their lives after football, as well. Things said inside of the locker room might get you beaten severely or worse if they were said to anyone other than your teammates outside of that locker room.

I found myself in rarefied “coaching” air in the spring of 1981 while attending a coaching clinic at Clemson. Those were much different times to. The NCAA didn’t care if you had a coach’s clinic featuring the Clemson staff that ended with BBQ and beer served in sixteen ounce Hardee’s cups. They also didn’t care if food and libations were brought to your seat by very attractive Tiger cheerleaders or “Rally Cats.” Beer and BBQ! I would guess these were a Danny Ford party staple. There was even a “good old boy” comedian with a “tree climbing” coon dog for entertainment.

The clinic and entertainment portion was over and we were sitting around a table shooting the bull. I had managed to seat myself by the right hand of one of the “soon to be” Southern football gods, Danny Lee Ford, head football coach of the Clemson Tigers. To be honest I was more in awe of Jim Frasier. Seated across from me, he was the head football coach of the T.L Hanna Yellow Jackets. I didn’t know Coach Frasier but I had gotten to know Danny when Danny had been our recruiter at Mauldin during the Charlie Pell years. Danny had taken over for Pell in 1978 and was still just as “down home” as could be despite his new title. In his first full season in 1979, after a Gator Bowl victory completing Charlie’s tenure, Ford went 8-4 with a Peach Bowl loss. In 1980 the Tigers had a dismal 6-5 season and this was the subject of our conversation as we sat sipping at least one beer past too many. Had Danny been two or three beers ahead of me, he might have been in tears. He was lamenting being on the proverbial coaching “hot seat.” I remember Coach Frasier peering over his sixteen ounce Hardee’s cup, his eyes struggling to focus on Ford…or maybe it was my eyes struggling to focus on Frasier. “Boy” he said, “You helped recruit ‘em, all you can do now is coach ‘em up!” Danny and his staff must have done a pretty good job of “coachin ‘em up.” The rest they say is history. A story book 12-0 season and a National Championship during the 1981 Orange Bowl were realized and Ford went from “hot seat” to Southern football “Sainthood.”

This year’s 13-0 version is also “story book” but still two victories away from a National Championship. I cannot help but think about the differences and similarities between the two teams and their coaches. Actually, on the surface, there seems to be more differences when discussing the coaches. Aside from both having played at Alabama and “dismal” second full seasons, Dabo Swinney, this year’s “Saint-in-waiting”, would seem to have little in common with the Danny Ford I knew. Dabo is certainly a better speaker and Ford would not be caught dead “whipping it.” Despite a difference in styles, deep down I would guess there are many similarities when it comes to attention to detail and motivation.

With today’s finesse offenses it would be easy to say Ford coached a much tougher game. Strong offensive running attack and “snot bubble” knocking defense…WAIT! NOT SO FAST! It would appear you could make the same statement about the 2015 version.

Much has changed during the past five decades I have worshipped at the alter that is football. For the most part I think they are good changes even though it is sometimes hard to recognize the game today as the one I played as a boy and coached as an adult. Do I think our brand of football was tougher? Most assuredly! But I don’t guess Ford’s “three yards and a cloud of dust” was nearly as much fun as Dabo’s new version. One thing that has not changed is our pride in Southern football. “Go Tigers, Beat Oklahoma! The Orange Bowl is still ours!”

If you enjoyed this story I have written three books that maybe downloaded on Kindle or purchased in book form using the following links:
“Winning Was Never the Only Thing…” goo.gl/dO1hcX
“Floppy Parts” http://goo.gl/Ot0KIu
“Pathways” http://goo.gl/v7SdkH

WHAT’S SO BAD ABOUT KWANZAA?

I guess it is because the “War on Christmas” was such a dismal failure. Television specials featured Christmas song both religious and secular, not one Islamic “carol” was sung, the “Muslim” president of the United States wished us all a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday, people of different religions and cultures wished me a Merry Christmas and a coffee cup is still…a…freeking…coffee cup. With such a ringing defeat it is inevitable that the internet trolls would move on to attack something else…Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa is racist. It is contrived. SOME PEOPLE are trying to replace Christmas. The founder was a 60’s black militant with ties to the Black Power Movement and not even African. Most of these arguments are made by very “hard right” publications like…well all of them.

Is St. Patrick’s Day racist? It’s no longer a religious celebration I would say. There are a lot of racist Black Irish I would think. Wait, even Irish Black Irish are white. Okay, is Cinco de Mayo racist. It celebrates a great victory over the French…in Mexico. There are dozens of other ethno-cultural celebrations, mostly white celebrations, so why pick on Kwanzaa? Are our racist petticoats still showing?

Kwanzaa is contrived. All holidays are contrived. When Adam and Eve were created or our forefathers learned to walk on two feet, did they have a holiday to celebrate? I don’t think so. I don’t know when the celebration of Christmas first occurred. I do know there was no biblical mandate to celebrate the Birth of Christ at all. Does that detract from its importance? To learn about the origins of Christmas celebrations you might like to visit the following site: http://www.simpletoremember.com/vitals/Christmas_TheRealStory.htm

Again, why are we picking on Kwanzaa? If you are going to pick on a contrived holiday pick on St. Valentine’s Day. A former religious celebration it has become an observance of guilt for the purpose of lining the pockets of candy makers, jewelers, and florist. Kwanzaa begins on December 26 and ends January 1 and is not a religious celebration at all. It is a celebration of family, community, nation and race that competes not only with Christmas but with dozens of other end of year or New Year celebrations. Why not pick on them?

I cannot deny that Kwanzaa’s founder, Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga (born Ronald McKinley Everett) was a Sixties Black Power militant, who at the time had never set foot in Africa. He even served time on what seemed to be trumped up and politically motivated charges. He is now Dr. Karenga and teaches African Studies which I guess makes him even worse…a liberal. The Sixties were a time of social strife. Civil Rights, the War in Viet Nam, gender inequality, the Native American movement and the Chicano movement were just some of the social issues championed by people like Cassius Clay, known to us now as Muhammad Ali, or Tommie Smith’s and Juan Carlos’s Black Power Salute at the 1968 Olympics. Let’s not forget that this was just two years after the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and just two years before the assassination of Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy. African-Americans might be forgiven for wanting something positive to hang on to…and still might.

To say it is not African is absurd. There are over fifty countries in Africa and some three thousand tribal units. Many of the countries did not exist at the time Africans were being shipped to the New World. Each probably has a somewhat different culture. Kwanzaa is a blending of those cultures. Many African-Americans do not have the luxury of knowing the country or tribe of their origin, so Kwanzaa is not culture specific. Whoopty doo dah! I would say celebrate to your heart’s content.

If you would wish to learn more about Kwanzaa, History.com, connected to the History Channel, has a link: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/kwanzaa-history you might want to visit. I would say “Don’t let the facts confuse you.”

PINK COCONUT AND CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

Normally when I can’t run, it is a bad thing. My head, knees or hips won’t let me. Today it was a good thing to quote Martha. My running interfered with where I wanted to be in my head. Usually, I create stories when I run to avoid the pain endured while running. This was not the case today. In my head I was remembering my “Christmases Past.” Consider this a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday present to you regardless of whether or not you celebrate Christmas. I don’t think it will offend anyone’s sensibilities and, rest assured, I love all of your sensibilities…and idiocrasies. Peace on Earth! We can all agree on that along with good will toward men…and women. I miss my wide-eyed wonderment during the Christmases of my youth. Having to grow up was and is a trap and I have been caught in it for far too long. Hopefully my memories will help free me from my snare…although considering the alternative….

I can remember a Christmas Eve trip to Monroe where my family normally shopped. It was just my father and a seven or eight-year-old me. Mom was busy at home preparing for the onslaught of people who would attend our evening celebration and little Stevie was too young to make the trip. This was a type of yearly tradition for my father. He didn’t have to go; all of the presents had been wrapped and placed under our tree…or hidden away until Santa Claus made his appearance. My father would go and buy nuts and fruit…maybe a trinket or two. I just think he liked being in the Christmas crowd…and Woolworth’s warm and salted cashews was something he could never pass up.

Had people been raindrops, Monroe would have been awash in a torrential downpour. Usually a small and quiet Southern town, it was bursting with activity. As we made our way toward Woolworth’s and Belk’s on Main Street I remember being maneuvered through a throng that included several panhandlers who we avoided like the plague. We paused in front of the Belk’s storefront to look at the mechanical Christmas scene…or so I thought. Sitting below the storefront Christmas scene was a man near my father’s age. He sat on a pad which was attached to a board with small wheels. The unknown man had lost his legs just below his hips and his pants legs were folded and neatly pinned under him. In his hand was a small tin cup containing new yellow pencils. My father had paused in front of the man with no legs, not the windows. Reaching into his pocket my father withdrew his billfold and placed a ten-dollar bill into the man’s cup. It was a considerable donation for the time. I watched my father’s eyes tear as he bent and accepted the pencil and the man’s tearful “Bless You.” My father took my hand and while looking over his shoulder choked out, “No, bless you and Merry Christmas!” In my mind it is easy to create a story involving a World War Two veteran who paid the same high price our vets are still paying today.

In the small rural community where I lived, most of our activities revolved around our school and our churches. Christmas was no different. Church Christmas plays featured shepherds in bathrobes and towels around their heads, angels with coat hanger halos and wings covered in Christmas tinsel and Wise Men with homemade crowns. A Betsy Wetsy Doll starred as baby Jesus. Taken straight from the Gospels, the story of the birth was read and acted out. Familiar Christmas hymns were sung by the congregation or choir with “Joy to the World” bringing the play to a close. Downstairs in the fellowship hall Christmas cookies and cakes waited to be shared as the children waited impatiently to see a secular Santa Claus who looked and sounded a lot like my Uncle James. In later years there would be Aunt Joyce’s Christmas Cantatas, my favorite being the one including “Jubilate, jubilate, King of kings he’s born today” performed by the combined choirs of my church, Belair, and Osceola.

In my day (Doesn’t that sound old?)…In my day Christmas break began with a half-day celebration of Christmas at school. Classes had drawn names and presents were traded as we sat around a freshly cut donated evergreen tree decorated with ornaments made from construction paper. It would seem socks were the gifts of choice. Our teacher began our sugar high with decorated sugar cookies in the shape of reindeers, stars or elves. For their trouble our teachers received small ornaments, many handmade, pastries and desserts that were homemade, and, of course, socks. A concert featuring the band and chorus would close the day and, if you were not in the Christmas spirit by then, you had no pulse.

At home there was a fresh cut cedar tree with multi-colored bubble lights that had to warm up before they began to bubble. White plastic ice cycles hanging with very fragile glass ornaments all covered with tinsel. My mother pausing to listen to “Stille Niche” or playing Billy Vaughn’s “Christmas Carols” ad nauseum. Sorry. I never learned to play the saxophone as well as Billy and his band. A robot that smoked, sparked and reversed path when it came into contact with an obstruction. A model of a twenty mule team borax wagon. My first full-sized bicycle, a red and white Schwinn Phantom, arrived the same Christmas as a freak ice storm. Can you imagine the pain of waiting to get outside? It was almost as bad as the wait for Santa. Lying in bed hoping I had been just good enough not to be getting a bag of coal. A plastic Thompson Sub-Machine gun so I could pretend to be Vic Morrow pretending to be Sgt. Saunders in “Combat.” My grandmother’s gifts, a patchwork quilt Christmas stocking filled with butter mints and peppermint along with healthier fruits and nuts. There were the more practical pocket notebooks, pencils and pens, too. “These are a few of my favorite things…” After my mother’s death I found the first gift I had given her that I had picked out and paid for with the sweat of my brow. A cheap, red and green, cut glass Christmas tree broach from Woolworth’s. I guess she must have liked it. There was always one evening anticipating the arrival of church carolers and another to drive through the community looking at Christmas lights. Perhaps there would be a reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” A much simpler time.

My mother was a child who failed to fall into the adult trap when it came to Christmas. Activity swirled for what seemed like weeks as she prepared for our Christmas Eve family celebration. Baking was one of my mother’s chores. Fruitcake, fruitcake cookies, yule candy logs, Missouri “no-bake” cookies, pies and cakes galore and her very favorite ambrosia. In the days before shredded coconut could be purchased at your local super market, it was my father’s responsibility to break open and shred the coconut Mom would use for her ambrosia and coconut cake. He would use a small ball peen hammer to punch a hole in one of the coconut’s eyes so the milk could be drained. A larger hammer would break the coconut open and a sharp knife would separate the meat from the husk. If my father was not bleeding by this time he soon would be as his knuckles made contact with the hand grater. My Christmas memories always include pink shredded coconut. It also may be why I don’t like coconut desserts very much although I will eat one dessert in memory of him. Hopefully it won’t be pink.

The Christmas of 1958 would be significant and transitional although I would not know it at the time. Paw Paw would cross over in the fall of the new year. I didn’t even know he was sick much less dying. Oh to be child-like again. In addition to our parents, Mom’s brother Olin and his wife Gayle would be there with Philip and Robyn; Will was still a twinkle in his parent’s eyes as was Terri, Joyce’s and Bo’s youngest. Their oldest Kim and Lynn would join Steve and I to celebrate. Somehow a tradition of telling ghost stories to the younger cousins and brother in a darkened closet would develop. I hope I did not warp them for all time. Impromptu but not unexpected visits of Paw Paw’s and Nannie’s brothers and sisters would continue through not only Christmas Eve but also throughout Christmas Day. I hate adult life and death has gotten in the way of those memories.

My wife and I have attempted to continue the Christmas Eve tradition, short of pink coconut. I enjoy having my brother and daughter and their families…despite the pain of getting ready. I could never do for my brother what our family did for us but I hope he understands that I try and hope my daughter’s memories are as rich as mine. If her memories are warm, it is due, in most part, to the influence of my wife, Linda Gail, a little elf who never fell into the trap of growing up but whose own memories include recent losses of and distance from family. Being from a blended-family I always had to return Ashley to her mother late on Christmas Eve. It was bitter-sweet. Bitter for obvious reasons but there was something sweet about our trip home. It is a time of private sharing between the two of us, a special time that I cherish and miss. To accommodate the red-headed little monkey, Miller Kate, we are moving Christmas Eve to Ashley’s and Justin’s. My wife says it is temporary. She likes to be in charge of our memories.

I wish anyone reading this a Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Dattatreya Jayanti, Mawlid an-Nabi or any other celebrations I have missed. For true “Peace on Earth” I wish to embrace our diversity, each for each other. That is my wish as we close 2015 and enter 2016. May 2016 be the year of “Understanding” and a step toward “Peace on Earth and Good Will Toward Men!” Merry Christmas!

ANIMALS…AN EDUCATION

An Excerpt from PATHWAYS

Growing up on a farm allowed me to observe a lot of different types of animals in interesting and educational ways. The milk cow, the plowhorse, pigs and chickens were the main animals available for study. In addition, I was the only kid in our little community to have both a duck and a peafowl hen as pets. The duck would follow me around like a puppy dog but the peafowl just wanted to be left alone and was kind of scary with her high pitched “Help! Help! Help!” call. She would also peck at me if I got too close. Her toxic personality would remind me of one of my exes later on down that pathway of life.

We had two full-grown hogs, not really named Bacon and Sausage, who provided a bit of education. Did you know that hogs wrestle? I know they can run fifteen miles per hour and can even swim. I didn’t know they could wrestle until I saw Bacon climbing onto Sausage during my early childhood. When I asked my grandmother what they were doing Nannie said, “They are just wrestlin’.” Funny, Bacon seemed to be wrestlin’ harder than Sausage. She seemed to be just standing there. Did the stork bring those piglets? Later my schooling would continue when I found out that the cow had a yearly date with someone named Artie. Maybe you have met him? Artie Semination. He must have been a foreigner.

My stories of home in PATHWAYS can be downloaded or purchased in paperback at http://goo.gl/6yB5Ei

BLUE HEELERS LIFE HEALERS

I don’t why we subject ourselves to the pain of losing loved ones…furry four-legged loved ones. You know there is going to be a time when they are going to break your heart by dying. Bogart, Bubba, Brody, Jackson, Santana, Little Miss Minny Muffin, Nannie, Sha-na-na, NaeNae, Nugene, Nicholette, Neut, Claude, Claudette and Boomer. Dogs, cats, goats, even a one legged rooster. All found a way to worm their way into our hearts and steal more than just a little piece.

Eleven years ago our most loved Sassy Marie, a part Border Collie part…who knows, deserted us. She had turned up one day out of the clear blue and disappeared twelve or thirteen years later the same way. I have no idea how old she was but Sassy was smart, knew her time was near, and decided to leave us on her own terms. By doing so, Sassy allows us to pretend she is still out there somewhere, alive and well, chasing the rabbits she never chased during the thirteen years she had us.

I told Linda Gail we needed to get over Sassy Marie before we invested our hearts in another pet. Several days later she told me her very good friend Debbie had family with six-week old Blue Heeler puppies. “Linda it is too soon to get another puppy,” said I. “I just want to go look at them. There are fourteen can you believe it?” said Linda. The next day at school I told a friend we were going to look at puppies that afternoon. “You going to get another pet?” asked he. “The question is not if. It’s how many.” Said I. Linda does tell a little different story.

The Blue Heeler is an Australian Cattle Dog, not to be confused with the Australian Shepard which is, despite its name, not Australian. The Australian Cattle Dog, which comes in two forms regardless of being the same breed–the Blue and the Red Heeler. They are the product of breeding a historically long lost “upland” spaniel from England, a Dalmatian and the native Australian wild dog, the Dingo. From this union came a tough, muscular, medium size dog Australian cattlemen used to drive their cattle through the “Outback.” Pretty sure if I had known this we probably would not have owned one, much less two. Sometimes it’s good to go into something uninformed with your eyes shut. This is how Matilda Sue and Madeline Roo came to adopt us.

The owners of Mattie and Tilly raised Blue Heelers to sell but this was no puppy mill. Just one sire named Rebel and two dames named Mia and Gypsy. They were beautiful. Dark “blue merle” undercoat showed through their white topcoat. A bit of “Dingo red” on their forelegs and lower jaw. There was a mask across their eyes called a “Bentley Mark.” Compact muscles rippled under their coat. It was easy to fall in love…easier when we saw fourteen puppies clumped together in their little corral.

One of those puppies crawled out of the tangle of fur, legs and snouts and made her way over to Linda and in “Dog-ese” yapped a greeting which I am sure translated to “Hi, I’m your new puppy and don’t even try to ignore me.” For ten years we haven’t been able to. Another had a crooked tail, which we thought had been broken but was actually a genetic flaw, and a Bentley mark only over one eye. My heart melted. Two was the answer to the question “It’s how many?”

That was almost eleven years ago. They grew into powerful, beautiful companions…and infuriating. Mattie will not be ignored for any reason. Tilly became the ultimate hunter. I am looking at them now as they go through some type of puppy play only they understand, a “mock fight” they have acted out daily. Now they have settled down to sleep…with their ears still at the alert.
They are or were high energy herders and hunters. Even when very young they tried to herd birds, cats, squirrels and lizards. They herded so well I found them missing one evening from their fenced in workshop “puppy house.” I can remember my fear they would be lost forever…or my fear of what Linda was going to do. We found them. Less than three months old they had traversed a small mountain forest and ended up over a half mile away. This is also how they became house dogs.

As hunters, Maddie specializes in snakes and Tilly in possums. With a persimmon tree in our back yard there have been ample opportunities for Tilly and with the tangle of Linda’s “companion gardening” there have been many opportunities for Maddie. I cannot remember how many mornings I have let Maddie and Tilly out, taken my shower, and come back to find a possum “present” laying just inside the door. Luckily possums play possum and I am sure Tilly has brought the same one in dozens of times. Maddie does the same thing but thankfully snakes don’t play dead…although I am sure finding them has scared me out of several lifetimes.

I want to chuckle as I watch both of them sound asleep on their backs, their favorite form of activity. Everyone said, “They will be hand full if you don’t keep them active, they are too smart for their own good.” “You don’t want two from the same litter.” A few times that might have been true but the best thing we ever did was get two. They play, run, keep each other company and if we can’t seem to find Tilly just tell Maddie, “Go find Sissy” and off she goes.

I know they will leave us sooner than we would want but they have been wonderful companions and worth all of the pain we will feel when they do leave us. There is something about unrequited love and ours has been returned ten thousand times. A little food, a scratch behind the ears, a warm couch to curl up on and a lot of love. Isn’t that all we ever need?

My stories of home in PATHWAYS by Don Miller http://goo.gl/6yB5Ei

EVERYTHING IN MODERATION

Changes in lifestyle
Despite my battles with my knees and some recent weight gain I was pleased with yesterday’s checkup, especially the cardio. Bp was 115 over 64 and my pulse was 55. Yeah I am bragging. On April 9, 2006 I had decided a lifestyle change was needed. A heart attack will cause you to contemplate such modifications and, when it occurs on your birthday remembering the anniversary of your heart attack is much easier. I really don’t have a problem recalling the feeling of an elephant sitting on my chest and the fear it fostered. Because of the “elephant on my chest” fear, after my recovery I made major alterations including exercise and a new diet allowing me to drop sixty-plus pounds of which I have managed to keep fifty off. In order to accomplish this feat in the three six months after four stints were surfed up an artery, I listed and placed most of the food, drink and cigars I loved into a folder marked as Daniels were replaced by early morning and late afternoon walks and runs along with food tasting bland with the consistency of cardboard. Six months after my stints and seven months after the heart attack, I proudly went to my first post-attack checkup and my cardiologist was suitably impressed. “What have you done to accomplish this?” he asked. I enumerated a whole lot of things I won’t bore you with except to say they involved food tasting much like tree bark and fifty miles per week of exercise. While he sat there nodding his head he suddenly broke in and pointed out, “You know, you just can’t give up everything that makes life worth living.” “But what do you mean?” I asked. “It’s like drinking. Everything should be in moderation. One or two drinks a day are actually okay, especially if they’re red wine.” Hummmm I contemplated. “I don’t like red wine.” “One or two beers or a shot or two is okay.” “Okay Doc, can I save them up during the week and drink them all on the weekends?” He was not amused but he made his point. Life should be about living and not fear. I am still good about diet and exercise but not obsessive. My “Never” file became “Once in a Blue Moon” which became occasionally. “Everything in moderation” became my mantra with an accent on “Everything.”
Don Miller has written three books which may be downloaded or purchased in book form for your reading enjoyment. Titles and links are listed below:
PATHWAYS http://goo.gl/6yB5Ei
WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING… goo.gl/dO1hcX
FLOPPY PARTS http://goo.gl/Ot0KIu

RITE OF PASSAGE? from the book PATHWAYS

Behind my grandparent’s home was the beginning of a small valley that ran from my Uncle Hugh Wilson’s place all the way back to the river…if you had guts enough to make the trek through an overgrown and somewhat marshy snake infested hay field. I know it was snake infested although I don’t ever recall having seen a single snake there. Once past the hay field the land would turn into a mixed forest which was easier to traverse and was much less infested with imaginary snakes. Later our trail would be blocked by an over flow from Bower’s big lake. On our side of the valley there was a bluff overlooking a year round stream. It was surrounded by a hardwood forest and was a wondrous place to play.

These were the days when it was still okay to run amok shooting imaginary Indians, outlaws, and Japanese or German soldiers…with imaginary guns I might add. I don’t know what kids do for fun now but later we turned to corn cobs and acorns in order to make our battles a bit more realistic and painful. One day we even employed artillery with sharpened, very limber, tree saplings used to throw sour apples very long distances. Forts were built with downfall and later we went so far as to build a tree house out of scrap lumber that might have been five feet off of the ground. It was our castle keep, pirate ship or B-24 dropping out of the clouds to attack and drop our stick of bombs. We had been watching way too much TV. In one of our running acorn battles Charlie McCorkle tried to make a quick get away by sliding down a bank not seeing the lone rusty strand of barbed wire impeding his escape. He probably should have had stitches to close the bloody hook shaped gash under his chin that later became a hook shaped scar.

The end of this story and the book PATHWAYS maybe purchased or downloaded using the following link: http://goo.gl/v7SdkH
Don Miller has also written two other books, “WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING…” and “FLOPPY PARTS” which may be downloaded or purchased at http://goo.gl/m2ZicJ

WE THE PEOPLE…

I am being lazy today but since only nine of you read this the first time I decided to reblog.

WE THE PEOPLE….

I hear variations of the same question, “What are our kids being taught in schools today? Why don’t we know MORE about ‘THE LAW’?” I will be honest, after spending over forty years in the profession, most of those years as a social studies teacher, I must answer, “I don’t know.” I would also point out from what I have seen, MANY OF THE PEOPLE RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT DON’T KNOW THE LAW either…nor do they know the history behind the law…and they are my age. I do believe we are getting exactly what someone has asked for…A LESS THAN AWARE ELECTORIATE. How else do you explain continuing to elect and re-elect the same idiots…on both sides of the aisle? How else do you explain allowing our constitutional democracy to turn into an oligarchy…not that most of us can even define it. Let’s keep education on the back burner why don’t we. Pay now or pay later I guess…and continue to add to the profit lines of the already very, very rich and corrupt. All righty, that’s the wrong soapbox.

Remember Civics? It was a course I took in junior high school. Now, in my part of the world, we don’t teach it anymore. Instead of Civics, a little Constitution is taught along with South Carolina History in the eighth grade. In high school, US History and Constitution is required in the junior year along with Government and Economics in the senior year. A total of less than a year devoted to the laws and rights we enjoy and Economics taught when Seniors are afflicted with the nearing graduation disease, Senioritis. Why don’t we donate a little more time to our own Constitution? Do we really need to teach World History before the Renaissance again and why DID we get rid of recess?

I have to admit, constitutional law in the eighth grade or during middle school is probably not a good idea. Were it left to me, middle schoolers would be locked up and not let out until high school. From my own remembrances I learned more about the little brunette girl and her rapidly expanding chest than anything about the First Amendment. From my middle school teaching experiences, I would say this hasn’t changed…LAWD HAVE MERCY THE RAGING HORMONES! My junior year? I did a little better with US History and but again learned very little about the Constitution. This time it wasn’t the fault of the much more mature brunette girl. I CAN remember my teacher telling us about dropping an “Atomic Bum” on Hiroshima. “Bum” was the way he pronounced it, “Bum” instead of “Bomb.” I admit to having a vision of a “glowing hobo” falling from the bomb bay a B-29. Not any remembrances about Constitution though.

Kidding aside, may be, I admit Civics in the Sixties was a little akin to “indoctrination.” Despite being taught otherwise in primary school George Washington could not have thrown a silver dollar across the Potomac. It would be several years before I came to that realization as I stood at the edge of the Potomac gazing at Washington a mile or more on the other side. I don’t know about the cherry tree either but have my doubts.

I believe our laws and rights should be taught with an emphasis on how our government really works rather than how it is supposed to work. Maybe this time with a little less emphasis on “my government right or wrong” along with “I’d rather be dead than red,” and more about truth “warts and all.” When I took Civics it was still about “American Exceptionalism” and defeating the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Viet Nam and Watergate changed those dynamics. Maybe we should try to get over Viet Nam and Watergate, not forget them…actually learn from them. Maybe when the politicians and our government learn.

In some ways social studies has become an afterthought in today’s educational environment…along with “related arts.” English, along with the math and sciences, are considered more important because they are what we test on. Despite this and other limitations, if I were to find myself back in the classroom teaching again, SHUTTER-SHUTTER, I would teach US History and Constitution outside of the box. I would start, not at the beginning but, where we are now and work backwards to understand how we arrived at where we are now. War, Social Issues, Civil Rights, and a myriad of other issues, in no particular order, along with a heavy dose of the Constitution would be themes that I would attempt to help the students come to grips with…and possibly myself.

Don Miller has written three books which may be purchased at http://www.amazon.com/Don-Miller/e/B018IT38GM
Inspirational true stories in WINNING WAS NEVER THE ONLY THING can be downloaded for $1.99.
“STUPID MAN TRICKS” explained in FLOPPY PARTS for $.99.
“Southern Stories of the Fifties and Sixties…” in PATHWAYS for $3.99.
All may be purchased in paperback.