OLD HABITS DIE HARD

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Strange how we get locked into routines. For example: To make space for my paper shredder I moved my office wastebasket a few feet from where it has been for many years. Yet I still forget and toss scrap at the spot where the container used to be. I spend a lot of time picking stuff up off the floor.

About the same time I retired, the battery in my wristwatch died. I didn’t replace it. Why bother? I didn’t have to be anywhere on time—or at all. Yet, not a day goes by in the dozen years since I stopped wearing it that I don’t look at my bare wrist. If I really have to know what time it is, I can look at my cell phone. I don’t even have to remember appointments because my cell phone alarm can be set to remind me.

Another habit I can’t seem to get rid of has to do with shifting gears on my pickup truck. I don’t have to shift gears because the truck has an automatic transmission. It had been at least thirty years since I last drove a vehicle with a straight stick, yet I still occasionally come close to stepping where the clutch pedal would be if there were a clutch pedal, which there is not.

To make things worse, we recently bought a new Toyota that has—you guessed it—gears you have to shift the way the pioneers did.

It didn’t take me very long to adapt to shifting gears. The real problem is that when I get into my pickup truck now I sometimes forget where I am and stomp down on a clutch pedal that isn’t there.

Now here is a real puzzler that makes me think my brain may have retired around the same time as the rest of me did: When I was a new driver, a hundred years or so ago, I often took my little brother with me. In those pre-seatbelt days he would sit next to me. When I pushed the brake, I would automatically put my arm up in front of him to keep him from falling forward.

As recently as two years ago I hit the brake on my truck and raised my arm as though I were protecting my brother.

Paul would have been seventy years old in October.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve Liddick – Author of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Str

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LIVING ON THE EDGE

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Maybe it’s a “guy” thing in general, but I know it is a personal thing that I am not especially concerned about germs. Not bugged about bugs, you might say.

Oh, I do take precautions about some kind of germs; I wash my hands when returning from errands to try to eliminate the flu or the screamin’ meemies one picks up at the grocery store or the post office or mingling with those little two-legged petri dishes known as—children. They absorb every germ in the universe and share them generously with others.

I am, however, a firm believer in the ten-second rule as applied to picking up a dropped food item and I am especially convinced we are overly fastidious when it comes to our coffee makers. My wife regularly runs vinegar through hers and scours the pot feverishly, as though the Black Death is lurking in that particular appliance.

I, on the other hand, have used the same coffee cup since the last century, dumping out the previous day’s leftovers and filling it with the new brew. The last time I cleaned my office coffee maker was when ants got into it. I can abide some germs, but I draw the line at ants.

I figure my grandmother’s theory of germ control—“heat purifies”—is good enough for me. I mean, she lived to be really old.

I’m not saying that scum is particularly appetizing, but we don’t have to get so worked up about it. Germs have feelings, too, you know.

I’m pretty firm in my sanitation theory as applied to coffee makers and cups. I’m still working on the question of why women live longer than men.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

TRYING TO DIET; DYING TO TRY IT

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Sticking to a diet requires a will of iron, but keeping that weight off is more in the titanium class.

I’ve lost hundreds of pounds. Not all at once, of course; twenty pounds here, thirty pounds there. Then I would look at myself in the mirror and say ‘what a good boy am I’. People would tell me how great I looked. Clothes I had delayed giving to the Salvation Army fit me again.

For the good job I had done I would treat myself to a banana split with double whipped cream. Now that I weighed so much less I figured I could stop torturing myself and have some of the good stuff.

The problem with that logic is that it takes a certain number of calories to sustain the weight a person is supposed to be. Any more than that goes on places incompatible with the bikini season.

I discovered that, while I am an expert at losing weight, I am an absolute failure at keeping it off. In six months I had gained back every bit of what I had lost—plus another ten pounds.

Walking across a room became a challenge. Getting in and out of my car or my easy chair took a rocking motion to get me on my feet. It was like carrying a four-year-old child around with me all day long.

The bathroom scale would moan when I stepped onto it as if to accuse me of cruelty to appliances.

Okay, I said, that’s it! Once more my weight-losing expertise kicked in. I knew that losing weight fast was a sure way for it to come back. It took me about a year to get to the weight I wanted to be. No more sugary stuff. No more of my beloved ice cream. My idea of an appetizer had been a bag of Cheetos. No between-meals snacks of any kind. Part of keeping the weight off is to train oneself to eat only at mealtimes, use smaller plates and bowls for meals, and never go back for seconds. No snacks ever. Fruit was my dessert.

I had learned the hard way that when someone tells me I look good, that is not permission to hop back on the pig wagon.

It was a daily fight not to return to my old ways. Those fat cells screamed to be filled up again. I expected it to be tough for awhile. I quit smoking nearly a half century ago and it took a couple of years before I no longer wanted a cigarette. I assumed it would be like that with food, so I prepared for the long haul.

I had heard all those jokes people made about my weight: “For my next vacation I want to take a trip around Steve,” “If you get on the elevator with Steve, you’d better be going down,” “He can’t sleep on his stomach because he’s afraid of heights.”

My metabolism may have been messed up, but there is nothing wrong with my hearing.

 

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

REFLECTIONS (updated every Wednesday)

by Steve Liddick

I’ve heard that to become an expert at anything you have to practice it 10,000 times. Ted Williams said it took him that many times swinging at a baseball coming at him at 90-plus miles-per-hour to become the hitter he became. I’m sure it applies equally to basketball shots, golf swings and putts—just about every endeavor that requires us to lock an activity solidly in place.

The only area where I think that logic has failed on a personal level is my lack of competence at gardening—weeds aside. When it comes to growing weeds, I am in a class by myself.

After at least 10,000 attempts at growing flowers and vegetables, I have become an expert at killing them. If it were a felony I would probably be charged with flora-cide. I’m told that I have a black thumb. That is the opposite of a green thumb, which implies competence at making things grow. It has been suggested that I should probably buy my starter plants already dead to eliminate the middle step.

A friend of ours comes to visit about once a year. The woman can walk past a wilted plant and it jumps to attention. She can say hello to a philodendron and it explodes from the pot. I have watched her closely and can’t figure how she works her magic.

I’ve read all the books and taken the suggestions about soil preparation, plant food, watering—every aspect of keeping things alive. I have been an attentive gardener. I even talk to plants. Please don’t spread that around, half the people I know already think I’m nuts and the other half knows it for sure.

So you can imagine my surprise when a rose I ripped out of the ground at one place and jammed it into the soil at another, adding no nutrients and giving it only enough water to get it started. To my flabbergastment  it has begun to sprout greenery instead of brownery. I cannot recall that ever happening before. Is it possible that I have reached a 10,000 failure level and have transitioned to success?

I have a theory. Instead of lovingly caring for a plant as I usually do, I took no special care and it is going just fine. Was disgraced former Vice President Spiro Agnew right, that “benign neglect” is the way to go? He wasn’t talking about plants, but it apparently applies.

It is very possible that I have been loving my plants to death?

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

 

 

 

 

 

PEOPLE OF A CERTAIN AGE

REFLECTIONS (updated every Wednesday)

by Steve Liddick

 

People of a certain age hate being referred to as “People of a Certain Age.” It is Political Correctness code for “Old.”

Being of a certain age, I spend a lot of time these days thinking about time and the rapid passage of it. When I was in the army, I thought my hitch would never end. Every day was like a dog’s days: 7 days long. Those in bad marriages can tell you the same thing; time really drags.

Then you retire from that job that was never—ever—going to end and everything speeds up. You look back at past events and say, “I can’t believe it has been15 years since I retired?” “Was it really three presidents ago?”

Of course, when we’re young we don’t give much thought at all to time. We have no sense of it in the long term or that we will ever run out of it. Time-related thoughts in the young center on such events as the agonizingly slow approach of holiday breaks from school and the ooze of time until we’re old enough to get a BB gun, a driver’s license, our first car.

I have been alive more than 29,000 days. It was more than 10,000 days ago that I moved to California. Trash pickup days flash by at warp speed. The lawn grows at a fearsome rate. I just mowed the back yard of my house yesterday—or was it last week—and it already needs mowed again.

If I’d had haircuts at the socially accepted two week intervals I would have had more than 2,000 of them. Of course, you would have to knock off a few years at the beginning of life until I had my first haircut and my mother cried about it. Then you would have to subtract quite a few more at this end of life because I don’t have enough hair left to waste a trip to–and the expense of–a barber. Clippers make short work of what little remains.

In fairness to Father Time and the Baby New Year, I should mention that not everything speeds up when you get older. It seems sometimes like that Social Security check is never going to get here.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

 

GOT A QUESTION? ASK A WIFE

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

As we get older, we sometimes have problems with our memory. Also, sometimes we have problems with our memory.

When I have trouble remembering something, I just ask my wife. I’ll say, “You know, whatshisface, that guy—when we were at the—you know—the whatchacallit? Without fail Sherry comes up with the answer, no matter how vague the question.

I’m older than Sherry, so it stands to reason my memory would fail sooner than hers. I often say, “just wait until you’re my age, you’ll see . . .” Seven months later she is that age. But her memory just keeps chugging along.

Once I asked her if she could remember where we bought a teak desk with the burl inlay thirty-five years ago and how much it cost, she will not only remember it, she will pull the receipt out of her file and show it to me. The woman saves everything and never forgets anything, which makes it extra important that I don’t offend her because she will remember that, too.

The downside of depending on someone else to remember things for you is that, more and more, you lose the natural ability to store things on your own that you will need later.

It works that way in this computer era, too. We get used to looking things up and, rather than digging down there in the far reaches of our own brains, we just tap out the question on a keyboard and there’s the answer. Ever thereafter when the need arises we don’t even try to rely on our own memories, we automatically ask Mr. PC or Mr. Mac.

When I remind myself of my lazy nature, I call upon my old reliable excuse: “That’s just the way I am and I’m too old to change.” It gets me out of a lot of stuff.

It’s slothfulness, I know. It’s a lot of effort to dig around among the neurons and get those synapses snapping. Besides, I don’t want to overcrowd my brain with miscellany. There’s only so much mental storage space and I’ve had a lot of years of cramming data in there. I figure I have just about reached capacity.

Until Sherry catches up with my memory lapses, she can be my Google.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

 

WHAT DO OUR CARS SAY ABOUT US?

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Ever notice how many different makes and styles of vehicles there are on our American roads and highways? If you go to Spain, you will see an ocean of Siat (SEE-at) model cars in subdued colors and not much else. Siat is the Spanish version of the Fiat. You may occasionally see a BMW or even an upscale American car. However, if anything but a Siat breaks down in Spain it is going to be a long wait to get the part to fix it.

In this country we have lots of choices of makes, models, colors, and configurations. It’s common to see a pickup truck with a noisy muffler and a body that is raised high above its oversized mud-grip tires. Most often the driver is male, in his mid-twenties to mid-thirties, has at least one tattoo, is a smoker, plays the radio loudly, and has rude and/or obscene bumper stickers on the back. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a large caliber weapon on board. Probably calls his wife “the old lady.”

I remember when one of those loud, extra large pickup trucks roared up next to me at a traffic light. I craned my neck and looked up at the driver to see that it was a geeky little guy with glasses who must surely have been sitting on a kiddy seat so he could see out over the steering wheel. When he was in that truck he was as big as any man.

Crude skyscraper pickup truck drivers are not the only ones making a statement with their vehicles. We all do to an extent. Fire engine red and school bus yellow cars surely are saying something, although I’m not clear what that is. I could speculate that vivid red car drivers have a serious “Look at me” need and yellow car drivers may be advertising superior intellect.

There are a few Humvees still around, despite the high cost of gasoline. I interpret that as a driver wanting to project a military image whether or not he has ever served in the armed forces. All he needs is a macho military-like vehicle that gets eight miles to the gallon. He can be a hero and never leave his driveway.

Some vehicles are designed to dominate. They’re the ones who come up dangerously close behind you on the freeway even though there is plenty of room to pass in another lane. They’ll follow for a couple of miles, then whip out around you, nearly clip the front end of your car getting back in the lane they just left and drive at the same speed in front of you they were driving when they were behind you.

Then there are the cars that scream, “I’m rich!” They’re the luxury car drivers who avoid the parking lot the rest of us have to use and park right in front of the supermarket to run inside for a few things. The privileged few. Their colors are rarely anything but black or grey, although they don’t call them that. Rather they are “Parisian Ebony” or “Arctic Charcoal.” I really shouldn’t make too much of that since I once owned a Prius whose color was advertised as “Driftwood Pearl.” We just called it “gold-ish” so people wouldn’t think we were putting on airs.

My personal preference in a vehicle is one that starts every time, requires little maintenance, gets decent gas mileage, and transports me reliably and uneventfully from one place to another. I care little about what it looks like and only a little more about what it sounds like because I truly believe that my right to drive a noisy car ends at your ears.

Now, having said all of that I have to confess that at one time or another in my life I have been one of everybody I complain about now, in my decrepitude. I had cars with loud mufflers, loud radios, loud colors, and believed with all my heart that offending people was my God-given right as a red-blooded American teenager.

Now that I’m old and perfect I complain about people who are just like I used to be.

Steve Liddick

A share would be appreciated

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

STILL A FARM BOY

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Most people who live in California come from somewhere else. That includes me. It is an automatic assumption that you are not from here.

It’s not like that where I actually do come from. I think most people who live in Perry County, Pennsylvania started out there and are still there—or not far away. I seem to be the exception.

Careers sometimes send you to places you would not have chosen on your own. The weather is often a factor that drives people south. Itchy feet is a common cause among the young.

When people ask me where I’m from, even though I have lived in a lot of places and been all over the world, it’s an easy answer; I claim a little green hunk of paradise among rolling Pennsylvania hills and sparkling streams. It has a rich history that goes back well before we were the United States of America—and has a population that appreciates it.

I’m sure many who still live there don’t see my ancestral home as I do. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. I looked over that fence in 1958 and set off for what I thought were greener pastures. In fact, it turned out to be many years of bumpy roads and stormy skies. It is true that times would not always have been ideal if I had stayed closer to my roots, but in all the other places I’ve lived, I never felt truly connected. If you are going to have troubles anyway, it is more comforting to suffer them among those you grew up with. They forgive you your shortcomings because they were standing right next to you when you acquired them.

Thomas Wolfe wrote that “You can’t go home again.” It’s true. Not because where you came from has changed. It is because you have changed.

Still, there will always be enough of Home that stays with you to keep you warm when life gets cold.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

THE AMERICAN DREAM

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

I don’t know how you define the American Dream, but my dream is to have a hundred-acre ranch far from what we jokingly refer to as “civilization.”

If we had that much land, I would draw a huge X on the property map. Where the lines intersect I would build my dream house.

We already have a small ranch. I used to call it a horse ranch, but we don’t have horses anymore, so we’re back to trying to justify calling it a ranch at all.

With a hundred acres we would be surrounded by a large amount of absolutely nothing. It would have to be fenced, of course. Without a fence, hunters tend to believe my property is their property during hunting season.

My wife says that’s too much property to maintain. I say the acre or so with the house and outbuildings is all that will need maintenance. The rest can just sit there and be a buffer zone.

Of course, we couldn’t shed all of what civilization offers. I have to have U.S. Postal and UPS delivery services. An Internet connection is a must and at least a couple of bars showing on my cell phone. At my advancing age, nearby health care would be handy. Also, I don’t want to have to drive too far for groceries or live beyond the point where my electrician, plumber, and appliance repair people would be willing to drive.

I know, I know. You’re saying you want to get away from it all without getting away from all of it.

Hey, it’s my American Dream and I’ll dream what I like.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”

SAY GOODBYE TO BAD HABITS

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

I quit smoking in 1964.

I quit drinking alcohol in 1988.

I quit chasing wild women in 1978. I never did catch any of the wild ones anyway.

It has been years since I was last kicked out of a restaurant for dancing on a table or got arrested for drunk driving.

I am no fun at all anymore.

There are certainly benefits to putting aside bad habits and wicked ways. For example: If I had followed the family tradition of continuing to smoke cigarettes, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be sitting here dead.

The roadways are much safer without one more drunk out there who doesn’t really think he is impaired and believes with all his heart that he is a better driver drunk than most people are sober.

As for the wild women; well, . . .

That is not to say that I no longer have any bad habits. There is no junk food item in our pantry that will not be attacked almost as soon as the groceries are packed away. And it is well known that I would get into a stranger’s car for ice cream.

Plus, I am a sandwich guy. Dagwood is my hero. I need clamps to keep my two-story sandwiches from falling apart. I am such a sandwich devotee, I told my wife that when I die I want to be buried between two large slices of bread.

I could do a better job of trimming down my To-Do list, but it grows even faster than the lawn mowing I have been neglecting. I’m already on page two of the list and I use a really small font.

There’s no point in my making New Year’s resolutions. Statistically those don’t survive more than a few weeks after January 1st. Mine have never made it past the twelfth stroke of midnight.

Not to make excuses for myself, but I am not alone in putting things off until tomorrow which, by the way, never comes because tomorrow presents us with still another tomorrow and so on and so forth—and so fifth.

I could organize a procrastinators club, I suppose. But anyone who showed up at all would be at least a day late.

I do pride myself on finishing anything I ever start. Where that falls apart is the starting part.

As Popeye says, “I yam what I yam.”

I wonder if there is such a thing as spinach cookies.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”