Monday, November 14, 2016

I Got A Lift Today


Titusville, FL

I too have stressed over recent events in our national political scene. But this morning, this guy stopped in my tree and assured me we will be OK.


Thanks. I needed that.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Writing 101


River Ranch RV Resort
30529 River Ranch Blvd
River Ranch, FL 33867
GPS: 27.771287, -81.191218

All a good story needs is ...

a Setting ...

a Protagonist ...

an Antagonist ...

and a Conflict ...


There you have it; a 4,000-word story. What could be easier than that?
Actually 4,002. I forgot to add: "Oh s@#t!"

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Triangle Crush

Highlands Ranch, CO

This story was written by my grandson Andrew Hazlett for submittal to the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge conducted by Writing.com. All stories must be less than 300 words and contain at least one use of each of the three prompt words. The prompt words for this day were: triangle, celebrate, normal.

Triangle Crush

by Andrew Hazlett

Tonight the Mudville Dragons (6-1) play their arch rivals, the Springfield Tigers (7-0), for the last game of the West Central Soccer League season. Coach Tyler Stewart is about to reveal his secret play for victory.

"Tonight's game is the toughest of our season. Those Tigers are big and fast. I have been working on a special play to get around them. I call it the "Triangle Crush." Our best players can pull this off by precision play. I want you to play better than normal tonight."

"When I give you the sign, I want Andrew Wood to move to the center of the field and head straight toward the goal. As Wood passes midfield, I need a striker to cross behind Wood from left to right. Josh Mills, that's your job. Wood, you pass to Mills as soon as he gets beside you." Coach Stewart diagrams the action on the white board as he speaks. The team all watches intently. "Meanwhile, our sweeper, Ben Grant will run down the right sideline past both Wood and Mills. After Grant gets ahead, Mills passes to Grant. Grant dribbles to the corner then crosses the ball to Mills, who should be at the penalty kick spot by this time. Mills heads the ball into the goal. Are there any questions?"

"You all know how important this game is to our team. Everyone is counting on us to bring home the trophy. Springfield wants to repeat last year's victory. Do you want that to happen?

Fired up as never before, the Mudville Dragons hit the field with victory in sight. At that moment a bolt of lightning, a crash of thunder, and the sky opened up.

No celebrating, only mud, in Mudville tonight. Lightning has struck out the Mudville Dragons.

Word Count : 297

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Titusville Treasure – Part 3


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, July 2016, Page 22

U.S. Space Walk of Fame
Titusville, FL
GPS: 28.613792o, -80.804177o

Only a few steps separate the Apollo Walk of Fame and the Shuttle Walk of Fame. We hardly noticed passing from one to the other.

The Space Shuttle Program, officially The Space Transportation System (STS), ran from 1972 to 2011. The goal: "crewed orbital launch and reentry". The shuttle usually carried four to seven astronauts (though crews as small as two and as large as eight are recorded) and up to 50,000 pounds of payload. A total of 355 people representing sixteen countries traveled on the shuttle on 134 missions. There were two disasters in the program – Challenger (28 Jan 1986) and Columbia (01 Feb 2003).

The Space Shuttle Walk of Fame


There is a lot of heavy technical information here. One should not be in a hurry when visiting.

The Space Shuttle Monument was dedicated on Nov 1, 2014


We ended our day at the US Space Walk of Fame Museum, about a block away, at 308 Pine Street. There we saw America's history in space exploration on display by hundreds of artifacts, including photos, hardware, flight suits, shuttle tiles, space patches and pins, and other memorabilia from personal collections of space workers. The museum also features launch consoles from Launch Complex 36.

U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum –308 Pine St, Titusville, FL


U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum – Test Director’s Console Exhibit


U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum – Early Space Suit Exhibit


Andrew went home with happy memories of his week in Florida. Now we are waiting to repeat the adventure this summer with his younger brother Joshua.

“Going Once! … Going Twice! … Sold! … Lot #35 for $3,300”.

Today, 02 April 2016, I spent most of the day in Titusville, attending the U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum Charity Space Memorabilia Fund Raising Auction.

U.S. Space Walk of Fame Museum
Charity Space Memorabilia Fund Raising Auction


The Lunar Roll of Honor Capsule, an inscribed aluminum capsule intended to stay on the moon after the first landing, became Lot #35. Removed from the manifest after the Apollo I fire, it never made it onto another manifest. Eventually recovered from a scrap pile, today it sold for $3,300.

There were 200 lots of memorabilia — records, manuals, badges, patches – even a real Russian Space Helmet. On site were about a dozen bidders. Bidding over the internet were many more. The auction lasted from noon to early in the evening and raised a lot of money for the museum’s Space Walk Academy. The museum staff is planning more fund raising auctions in the future. There will be some item of space memorabilia just right for you or your grandchildren. Watch for the next auction.

Andrew is ten. John Glenn, the last surviving member of the original seven, still lives, and commercial space travel is in its infancy but very real. In my tenth year, Orville Wright was still alive, and commercial air travel was a fledgling industry with commercial jet powered airliners still more than a decade away (October 1958 with Pan American World Airways). I wonder if Andrew might find his way back here with his ten year old grandson. What will space travel be like then … and will this little park still be here?

Click here to see part 1

Click here to see part 2

Learn more at US Space Walk of Fame

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The Fourth of July


United States of America




While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.

God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home


Watch, Listen, Remember

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Playing With Horses In South Dakota


Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary
Hot Springs, SD
GPS: 43.3129333o, -103.6058833o

Article published in Workamper News, July/August 2016, page 27

We are Bob and Michelle Hazlett of Titusville, FL. We have been workamping / volunteering for six years. Campground jobs are plentiful, and we have had a few of those. But what excites us is finding an unusual situation with interesting work and a flexible commitment – that usually means volunteering. This was one of the best and it was in South Dakota.

The Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary (BHWHS), an 11,000 acre sanctuary for rescued Mustangs, is just outside Hot Springs, SD on the southern edge of the Black Hills. The herd is over 500 horses rescued from many places, most from Bureau of Land Management land.

This workamping experience will go down as an "adventure of our lifetime". Ranching and horses was a different life for us. We had never done anything like it before. We found the horses, though wild, to be curious, playful, and friendly (at a distance). The ranch hands were hardworking and friendly with a great sense of humor. We city folks provided lots of material for their humor and we enjoyed the laughs too.

Our duties were primarily feeding and watering the horses. Bob also participated in ranch “fix-it” chores and Michelle worked in the Visitor Center Gift Shop and helped with bulk mailings. Feeding was done from a feed truck. We drove along a predetermined route through the mountains surrounding the ranch and deposited piles of feed at various locations. Watering was a similar task. Water troughs holding 400 gallons of water are situated at various locations in the mountains. We refilled them using a 300 gallon tank mounted on a pickup truck. In the heat of the summer, that became an almost continuing chore.

The ranch has a couple rental cabins. One was available for the long Labor Day weekend. So our son, his wife, and three boys joined us for a long weekend vacation. We took them out with us on the feed truck and let them interact with the horses. They still talk about that several years later. In the afternoon, we went a short distance to the Cascade Falls Swimming Hole for a refreshing dip in a real swimming hole. Be sure to check that out if you go there.

Mr. Dayton O. Hyde is the owner of the sanctuary. He recently celebrated his 95th birthday and has a long history as a rancher, rodeo cowboy, author, and conservation activist. Listening to his stories was an absolute delight and his sharp humor would often sneak up and grab you long after the joke was over. I love that.

Challenges came from the world of cyberspace. We had no problems with TV because we subscribe to Dish Network and my Tailgater antenna easily brought in the signal. Cell phone and internet were a different matter.

Our cell phones showed no bars at the ranch so we looked for a high spot. While making our rounds with the feed truck, I kept my cell phone on and watched the screen for some bars. Finally we found a spot on a hilltop where I got four bars. It was a beautiful location. We could see all the way to Wyoming. I named it "Four Bar Hill". From then on we stopped there every day to catch up on phone calls and voice mail.

For internet connection, we would go once a week into Hot Springs and spend most of the day in the library. Spending a day there was a pleasant respite from the ranch routine.

South Dakota is an expansive, sparsely populated midwestern state where rolling prairies give way to the dramatic Black Hills region in the western part of the state. The Missouri River flows south through the middle of the state. Dominant cities are Sioux Falls in the east and Rapid City in the west.

The Black Hills is home to two historical monuments carved right into towering granite peaks: Mt. Rushmore, the iconic depiction of four U.S. presidents, and Crazy Horse Memorial, a tribute to the legendary Native American tribal leader. And there is much more to see and do in the Black Hills region. This story is about workamping not touring so I can't do justice to any of these places in this short article. Let me just reel off some names. You can 'google' them on your own: Sturgis, Custer SP, Custer City, Wind Cave NP, Badlands NP, Wall Drug, Spearfish Canyon, Mammoth Site, Angostura Recreation Area (Cheyenne River), Cascade Falls Swimming Hole (43.319459, -103.563667).

Workamping isn’t just about working. It’s also about making memories. We made many that summer at the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary.


Loading the feed truck with grandson


Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary entrance


Water Truck Holding 300 gallons


Workamper FHU RV site


Michelle bucket feeding horses with grandson Andrew


Cascade Falls swimming hole


Sunday, June 19, 2016

The Stone of Clexurs Den



Titusville, FL

This story was written by my grandson Joshua Hazlett for submittal to the Daily Flash Fiction Challenge conducted by Writing.com. All stories must be less than 300 words and contain at least one use of each of the three prompt words. The prompt words for this day were: stone, midnight, lamp.

The Stone of Clexurs Den

by Joshua Hazlett

Regina Banks finished reading the story of the hidden Stone of Clexurs Den to her son Luke. Luke had already fallen asleep, so Regina turned off the bed lamp and quietly left the room.

It was after midnight when Luke awakened to find the map on the lampshade of his bed lamp glowing. He was sure this had something to do with the story of the Stone of Clexurs.

Luke dressed quietly, took the lampshade, and left the house. The map kept glowing as Luke made his way into the Black Mountains. He followed the trail deep into the forest, his only light being the glowing lampshade.

The lampshade led him to a cave in the side of the mountain. From deep in the cave he could see a faint green glow. The passage into the cave grew tighter as he continued, getting so small that he had to crawl, but the glow kept getting brighter. At last the passage opened up into a large room. Resting in the center was a stone about the size of a bushel basket, and glowing bright green.

Standing off to the side, was a shadowy figure, looking like a wizard from a mystery novel. “Touch the stone only if you dare” said the wizard. Luke was one who always took a dare. He reached out and placed his hand flat against the stone.

Luke’s frame shook violently and he could feel a surge of energy course through his body. “You are now Commander Fearless”, said the wizard. “You will protect the weak and helpless and hunt down criminals for the rest of your days.”

“Is this an after school job?”, asked Luke.

Word Count: 279

Monday, June 6, 2016

Titusville Treasure – Part 2


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, June 2016, Page 22

U.S. Space Walk of Fame
Titusville, FL
GPS: 28.613792o, -80.804177o

Having spent a good bit of time in the Mercury section, we needed to move on to see the whole park before dark. A small lagoon separates Mercury and Gemini. Andrew and I walked the short distance around the lagoon to the Gemini Walk of Fame. Artistically, I like Gemini best. The only approach looks squarely up the walk with the Gemini Monument standing tall at the end against an unobstructed sky. The afternoon sun let the small markers cast shadows that made the walk seem even longer. The mission insignia atop the monument reflected the sunlight like a flashbulb.

Gemini Walk of Fame

Project Gemini, named for the twins in the constellation Gemini (Castor and Pollux), carried a crew of two and had several goals: Long-duration (14 days) spaceflight; space rendezvous and docking; extra-vehicular activity; targeted re-entry and landing. Over the life of the project (1961 – 1966), they flew two unmanned, and ten two-man missions, flown by sixteen astronauts – some from Mercury and others who would become famous in the Apollo program. Gemini was a busy project. While Mercury gets much of the glamor, Gemini did most of the work of teaching us how to work in space.

The Gemini Monument was dedicated on November 7, 1997


Simply cross Indian River Road to move from Gemini to Apollo. The Apollo Walk itself is comparatively short, with the monuments being four sided etched marble with some pretty detailed narrative on each face. The main monument sits at the center of the walk.

Project Apollo was the US program to land a man on the moon and return him safely. During the project (1961 – 1972), there were three unmanned, one tragedy (Apollo 1), and fourteen manned missions – including one near tragedy (Apollo 13). Nine missions traveled to the moon. Three astronauts crewed each. Thirty-two astronauts made up the pool assigned to the program.

We cannot capture the story of Project Apollo in a paragraph or two. “Land a man on the moon and return him safely.” Say that very slowly and try to grasp the magnitude of that simple sentence.

At 4:18 p.m. on July 20, 1969, I stood in front of my television and cried like a baby when I heard Neil Armstrong's voice say simply, "the Eagle has landed." With those words, Apollo 11 achieved the dream of our nation – expressed by President Kennedy in 1961 – to put humans on the Moon by the end of the decade. Some events are just so big; you can’t wrap words around them.

While Apollo 11 qualifies as a great event, Apollo 13 proved to be NASA’s finest hour. Riding on a wave of success, NASA suddenly faced a mission gone terribly wrong. Bringing Lovell, Swigert, and Haise back alive makes a story of heroism worth telling to every young person for many years to come.

The Apollo Walk of Fame


Groundbreaking for the Apollo Monument was held on July 16, 1999
at precisely 9:32 a.m. ET, exactly 30 years after the lift-off of Apollo 11


Neil Armstrong Handprints

I choked up recounting the Apollo stories to Andrew. I’m sure he didn’t understand, and we had the Shuttle section and the Museum yet to go.

Click here to see part 1

Click here to see part 3

Learn more at US Space Walk of Fame

Check out Senior Scene Magazine

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Titusville Treasure – Part 1


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, May 2016, Page 22

U.S. Space Walk of Fame
Titusville, FL
GPS: 28.613792o, -80.804177o

"Who is John Glenn?” Andrew asked.

Sitting on a park bench looking out over the Indian River, the warm breeze brought us the smell of the brackish river water. Boat traffic plied the river and the Vehicle Assembly Building at Launch Complex 39 dominated the horizon on the far side. Even at nine and a half miles away, it is impressive.

"John Glenn was one of the first seven American astronauts. He was the first one to orbit the earth", I replied. NO! That's not enough – not nearly enough.

"Andrew, I am still alive!" I realized this great adventure is slipping into the history books. The space program was the most significant exploration since Lewis & Clark, and it happened in my lifetime, in my country. Those early days, beginning with Project Mercury were very real to me. A lot of bad stuff was going on in the US in the sixties, but the space program united us, and I was so proud to be an American.

Andrew, my ten-year-old grandson lives in Denver, CO, and was spending his spring break with us. On this day, we visited the US Space Walk of Fame in Titusville, FL.

The US Space Walk of Fame is an outdoor plaza in Titusville, FL honoring the astronauts and the NASA and contractor personnel who made American manned space exploration possible. It is the first and only Walk in the nation to pay tribute to the men and women behind the scenes as well as the astronauts.

No rockets or space capsules here. This understated park remembers the people. There are monuments and plaques; bronze handprints and marble pavement inserts. Well-placed benches invite visitors to pause, to rest, and to reflect on what is recorded here.

The park exists in five sections; Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, Shuttle, Museum. Andrew and I started our exploration where it all began – Project Mercury

Project Mercury Walk of Fame


We strolled along the walk, pausing at each of the marble pavers to recount the excitement the nation felt as we watched the missions unfold. Friendship 7 was special. Does anyone old enough not remember that day?

Marble Pavement Marker commemorating the first American orbital flight


I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye when astronaut Scott Carpenter gave Friendship 7 the sendoff "Godspeed, John Glenn" on Feb 20, 1962. Every engineer and technician across the nation prayed their part would perform flawlessly. It was as if we could wish John Glenn into orbit.

John Glenn Handprints


The Mercury Monument and mission plaques, with cast bronze hand prints
of six of the original seven astronauts, were dedicated on May 12, 1995.
The Mercury mission insignia was unveiled on May 23, 1997


As we left the Mercury section of the park, I asked “Andrew, do you now know who John Glenn is?” He smiled and nodded. “Let’s see what we can learn about the Gemini Project?”

Click here to see part 2

Click here to see part 3

Learn more at US Space Walk of Fame

Check out Senior Scene Magazine

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Ava and Annie



Fayetteville, NC

This weekend we made the 500-mile trek to Fayetteville to spend time with Tricia, Tony, and Ava. The visit started off with a fifth-grade awards ceremony at Ava's elementary school on Friday morning. She made us proud by receiving awards for perfect attendance, citizenship, and honor roll.

Mrs. Baily's Fifth Grade Award Recipients
Ava is the really tall one in the back row


The main event was the high school performance of 'Annie' on Friday evening. The play includes scenes involving a group of orphans. The high school drama coach recruited elementary school students for these parts and Ava got to be an orphan – a small part but significant for her.


Visiting Fayetteville always provides a chance to snoop around for Ava's latest artwork. This time, she surprised me with two nice paintings done in acrylic.





It was a good weekend. In a few weeks, they will join us in Florida for a couple days at Disney World. Everyone is looking forward to that.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

CABG – A New Acronym In My Life


I hesitated writing this post because my blog is supposed to be about our adventures in the Cougar, not other stuff.

But the cougar is in its den for much longer than I desire because CABG has entered my life.

When I woke up on 12 Feb 2016, Michelle and our daughter Tricia who came from North Carolina to be with Michelle during this adventure were waiting for me. They looked like they had been dragged through a wringer; I'm sure I looked much worse. I had just emerged from Triple Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting (CABG). CABG is a type of surgery. A vein from my leg was used to bypass the three blocked coronary arteries and improve blood flow to my heart.

After returning from our Christmas visit to Denver, I underwent a series of tests, over a period of several weeks, looking for an explanation for several episodes of dizziness I had experienced. The last test was a heart catheterization that revealed I should be dead (I exaggerate – just a little). Then things moved very fast. The cardiologist contacted a surgeon who rearranged his schedule for the next day, and suddenly I was in the hospital. I interviewed this surgeon for about ten minutes, found out he is a Drexel University grad (my alma mater) and decided to let him cut my chest open. How's that for rigorous comparison shopping?

What followed was five days in the hospital, two weeks in a rehabilitation hospital, then home rehabilitation with a visiting nurse and a visiting physical therapist. All of this for surgery healing rehabilitation.
I got to be best friends with my little heart pillow


I learned a lot about and practiced "Sternum Precautions." Those are behavior modifications necessary while the chest bone, which has been wired back together, heals. Everything from sitting down and getting up from a chair to dressing and undressing – all designed to avoid stretching the wires holding the sternum together. Wrapping my arms around my heart pillow whenever I coughed, sneezed, got up, or sat down both protected my chest and kept my arms occupied so I couldn't use them to push, pull, or lift.

My care at the hospital (Holmes Regional Medical Center, Melbourne, FL) and the rehab center (Sea Pines Rehabilitation Hospital) was excellent. I can't thank those folks enough.

Holmes Regional Medical Center, Melbourne, FL

The staff at Holmes had me up and walking the day after surgery. Otherwise, it was like any other hospital stay – a hospital gown that destroys all modesty; needles, pills, and vital signs every two hours 24/7; trying to pee lying down in bed; and meals made tasteless by anasthesia residue.

Sea Pines Rehabilitation Hospital, Melbourne, FL


My time at Sea Pines was better, probably because I was better. I had physical therapy twice a day (two, one hour sessions) where I exercised to protect muscle tone while not endangering the chest incision. I also had one hour per day of occupational therapy where I learned and practiced all the sternum precautions necessary to get through my healing period without damaging the chest repair work – much more to that than you might imagine. They have a practice bathroom and toward the end, I practiced getting into and out of my truck without using my arms. Boy, was that fun. Although I was up and about and had my laptop with me, for the most part, I could not get motivated to do anything. So what I was counting on for boredom relief didn't work. Reading helped a little.

I came home on 02 March – day 19 and was put under the supervision of a Visiting Nurse and Physical Therapist, who each came twice a week. I also had a remote unit for reading Blood Oxygen, Blood Pressure, and Weight. So every morning I had to sit down with this thing and go through a ritual of collecting data and transmitting it to a data center, who in turn transmitted to my doctor. Each session included a lecture on some phase of cardiac healthcare taught by the same lovely lady who inhabits your GPS and gives you verbal instructions on how to get lost on the highway. During this period, I slept in a recliner. Medication forced several trips to the bathroom during the night and getting in and out of bed was just too much work. I was still restricted to sleeping on my back. That was much easier to do in the recliner.

The surgeon released me on 09 March – day 26. That was a major victory for me because I was cleared to sleep on my side and no longer restricted to sleeping on my back.

Able to concentrate more, I got back to work on my new website. That is now up and running, but there is still a lot of work to do on it. You can see it at http://www.placesoffthemap.com.

We also have a subscription to Netflix, and we have been binge-watching "House of Cards". It took several evenings to get through season 1. That is where we are now. We'll start with season 2 soon.

Next week I go back under the care of the cardiologist for a program of heart rehabilitation. I don't know how long it will last, but I do know we will not be roaming the country this summer.

Through it all, my dear wife Michelle has borne the burden of being nurse, pharmacist, appointment scheduler, and overall patient guardian – traveling over 90 miles each day to do it. For that, she has my everlasting gratitude.

Another side of this situation is that the spring break visit by our grandson Joshua has to be postponed until summer. There is no way that Gramps is going to be able to navigate Disney World in March of 2016. We're rolling that back to June. That gave Michelle a big task of replanning and reticketing. I don't think we lost any money, but it was still a lot of work. I know Joshua is disappointed, and so are we. We are looking forward to his visit, and we'll try to make it an extra special adventure for him.

The bottom line is that I am doing well having finished surgery rehab and getting ready to start cardiac rehab. For excitement, I think I'll do our income taxes.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Links to My Published Articles



I set up this post to provide a single convenient place to link to my published work.

Playing With Horses In South Dakota


Published in Workamper News Magazine, July/August 2016, page 27


Titusville Treasure – Part 3


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, July 2016, Page 22


Titusville Treasure – Part 2


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, June 2016, Page 22


Titusville Treasure – Part 1


Published in Senior Scene Magazine, May 2016, Page 22


Pioneer Store Museum


Published at Travel Thru History, Jan 2016


Workamping Seniors


Published in Workamper News, Jan/Feb 2015, Page 58


Running Free in the Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary, SD


Published in Workamper News, Jul/Aug 2013, page 39


Holidays Far From Home -- Rose Parade Float


Published in RV Life and Travel E-zine, 6 Jan 2013


Holidays Far From Home -- Thanksgiving


Published in the RV Life and Travel E-zine, 19 Dec 2012


Take A Step Back In Time


Published on Workers On Wheels Website, 14 Jan 2012


Opuscule


My website to host my non-travel writing along with the writings of fellow writers in my local area.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

How Do You Hold Your Pants Up?


Highlands Ranch, CO

Belt or Suspenders? Age old question. My answer is "both". Not at the same time, of course. I wear a belt with dress and casual pants, and I almost always wear suspenders with work jeans. They give me more freedom of movement and help avoid "plumber's butt".

During our Christmas visit with my son and his family, my youngest grandson Ben (oops, not anymore, he now has a younger brother, Daniel, age eight weeks) became fascinated with my suspenders that he called overalls. We had a discussion about the difference between suspenders, overalls, and coveralls. Having gotten that straight, Ben protested vehemently that he would NEVER wear suspenders!!! This protest repeated several times over the next few days. Finally, the challenge was on; "Me thinks thou dost protest too much". I got together with his two older brothers, and we hatched a plan. I would buy suspenders for all of them and then we would all wear them to church on Sunday. We would shame Ben into wearing them.

Shopping for boy's suspenders on the Saturday after a Friday New Year's Day was an unintended adventure. All the usual places had them available on–line, not so in the stores. At Wal–Mart, Target, JCPenney; the clerks looked at me like I was crazy. At Wal–Mart, I checked out adult suspenders, hoping they might be adjusted small enough to fit the boys. That idea didn't work.

I was being drawn in a direction I didn't want to go ... a shopping mall. I hate them and everything they represent, but occasionally a man must rise above his principles. Today was that kind of day. I soon found myself in Park Meadows Center, an upscale mall with all the overpriced department stores packed with their kind of people (those who pay extra to get torn jeans). I struck out at the anchor stores: Macy's, Nordstrom, Dillards. However a clerk at Macy's suggested I try the kid's store "Janie and Jack". I never heard of it but that means nothing. Of course, it was at the far end of the mall, and I was already a million miles away from my car. But this had become a quest, and I refused to quit.

At Janie and Jack, my query was rewarded with "Yes, what size?". What size??? Suspenders don't have sizes; they are adjustable! I was so happy to hear yes, I didn't care about the rest. So I bought one size 8-10, and two size 6-8.

I followed my trail of breadcrumbs back to my car and headed home. By now it was almost dark and my quick errand had turned into a full afternoon shopping expedition. When I got home, Ben was still away at a friend's house, but Andrew and Josh were home and eager to get on with this game. They had fun trying on their suspenders while waiting for Ben to return.

Ben was surprised and disappointed that I had gotten the suspenders. He thought I was joking. Protesting resumed but this time his brothers were wearing their suspenders and got all over him about being a wuss.

This morning we all got dressed for church wearing our suspenders. Sunday church dress is pretty casual here. I only had the one pair I brought from home. Adam wore a good looking pair that have been decorating the back of his dresser drawer for several years. Andrew and Joshua looked great in their new suspenders. So did Ben, but he fussed a lot.

The boys got the best of me, however. They attend Sunday school classes and do not accompany adults to church service. Being out of sight and out of reach, they just kept their jackets on.


Gramps, Joshua, Andrew, Ben, Adam


So here is the question. Why are suspenders plural?