Western Pennsylvania World War II & Steelworkers Tribute

My memories of growing up in Pittsburgh are of seeing the mills at night with the orange and yellow glow lighting up the sky along with the smoke coming out of the stacks. It always seemed otherworldly to me.

My dad was a mechanic working on all the heavy equipment.

Steel Mill, Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earned international fame as the Steel City and for generations the steel produced here created many of America’s buildings, bridges, memorials & monuments. Steel mills and factories lined the railways and river ways of communities throughout the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania. The steelworkers soon garnered a reputation for being tough as nails with a solid blue-collar work ethic they adopted from their immigrant parents from countries around the world. The daily life of a steelworker involved the constant banging thunderous explosions of steel on steel, fumigating smoke & dust, overhead cranes & chains, searing temperatures from molten steel & pulverizing flames & flashes that could blind a man. The city became a melting pot of people from all over the world seeking the freedoms denied in their homeland. The mills provided them the  opportunity to make a better life for their families and…

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My Heart Cries for Houston

So, all this heartache happening in the Houston area has been occupying my thoughts this past week.  I just can’t imagine being in that situation.  To that extent as well.

Like you, I’ve been keeping up with the news and find that sometimes when the newscaster is talking to the people who’ve had to be rescued, I find tears finding their way down my cheeks. So sad. So many people who’ve lost everything.

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Eventhough I’ve never been in that situation, I can certainly feel for those people. Unlike our great leader who is still talking about the crowd size. I did see G.W. Bush talking to some athletes and how I wish he was still our President.  He had heart.  He was a good person. I miss him.  I never voted for him, but he was real. I should have appreciated him more when he was President.

I’ve been reading a lot about it too.  A good bit of it on Facebook.  You know that major news source for many people.  And I have to say many of the comments make me sick. Too many of us have become ugly. Not everyone. Not by a long shot. I’ve been seeing and reading about many heroes. But I can’t help but wonder what the mothers of the ugly ones would say.

This flood is not a black and white issue.  It’s a human issue. And it’s a government issue.  Development should not be approved in areas that should be left vacant.  You see this all over the place, not just in Houston. I saw it the last time I was in Southern California.  They were in a terrible drought, but what used to be scrub brush on hills, were now houses and land being leveled for more houses. And it happens in coastal North Carolina.  The sand keeps disappearing with bad storms and people who’ve built right on the water start carrying on that their house is in danger of falling apart. Too bad, I say.  Shoulda had more sense.  If you were smart enough to earn enough money to build or buy that house, you should have had enough sense to know one day it would get knocked over. Locals know not to be on the first row.  Be on the second or third row.

Quite a number of years ago, my homeowners insurance increased rather considerably from one year to the next. I hadn’t had any claims, so it stymied me.  I decided to call my agent to inquire why this was so.  I was told that the homeowners on the coast had such high insurance liability that the Insurance Commissioner from this great state of NC ruled that the costs would be equalized over the entire state.  Say what? WTF??  I had to pay higher insurance premiums because someone from New Jersey built a 10 bedroom, 8 bath house right on the water to rent out to tourists and I was supplementing that house? The premium has never come back down so I guess I’m still supplementing.

So I blame our planning commissions and city and county governments for approving development where it shouldn’t be. It seems many feel inclined to blame the Mayor of Houston.  But I’m not sure he should be blamed.  He did tell people if they didn’t evacuate, they should write their names and Social Security numbers on their arms with permanent marker so they could be identified later. And no one expected rainfall and storm surge like that.

And you shouldn’t blame the people who are poor and had no resources to go anywhere.  If you live paycheck to paycheck or welfare payment to welfare payment, you don’t have the financial wherewithal to go to a hotel. You take your chances and hope for the best.  I read this was a 1 in 1000 year rain. Who would have ever expected 50+ inches of rain? I’m 65 inches tall.  That’s just 15 inches more. I measured my head … I really did and it was 11 inches.  Only my head would be out of the water … just barely!

I hope our esteemed leader gives up on his idea of the stupid wall.  Spend it on some needed infrastructure. Maybe visit the Netherlands and see how they keep the North Sea out of their country. But I heard on the news this morning that contracts have been put out for prototypes of walls.  Someone needs to tell him that around San Diego and Arizona, they tunnel under the wall and come out on the U.S. side in a building.  I used to have hope that Congress would have some balls to do what’s right, but I’ve given up on hoping that.  It ain’t gonna happen. And let’s reconsider that climate change just might have played a part in all the weather events we’ve had around the world recently.  What can it hurt? It’s either that or God is really pissed. He’s not liking what He’s seeing, I’m sure.  All this hate.

Maybe tax reform that Trump proposed will be that we all pay more taxes and stop driving $60,000 vehicles.  Wearing $200 sneakers.  Don’t need those $1500 high heels. You know the ones with the red soles.  But I’m thinking those reforms are going to make it better for the people who just want to accummulate more wealth.  I’m worth more than you … see, Forbes says so.  We desperately need help in getting our priorities straight. We’re really screwed up. We want everything, but don’t want to pay for it.  Well, we don’t mind paying for our wants, we don’t want to pay for our needs.  And we certainly don’t want to pay for someone else’s need.  Like I don’t intend to get sick and don’t want to have to buy insurance because somebody else might get sick.  It’s not fair!  Why should I pay taxes for schools?  I don’t have anyone in school. Get my drift?

So we don’t want to pay higher taxes.  I get it.  But we keep having these weather related disasters,  which climate change is NOT causing.  <wink>  But how much will it cost us in tax dollars for Houston and the surrounding areas? And now it looks like another hurricane may potentially hit us again.  What do you think the answer is? Should we be going the Ark route?



Trying to Fit it All In!

This blog is about being happy in Murrells Inlet. Well, truth be told, I now live in Raleigh, but I don’t know how to change the name. And I have been having fun! I’m working hard at spending my children’s inheritance. Don’t tell them I said that.  They may be waiting for me to kick the bucket to get their hands on those credit card balances I haven’t used up.

I did help Jim install artificial grass in his yard.  Boy, I don’t ever want to do that again! It looks nice, though. My knees are all bumpy and bruised from crawling around on that stuff.  And at my age, I don’t need bumpy, rough knees.  Eww………

Two weeks ago Jim and I went on a cruise (Royal Caribbean to the Bahamas) with my kids and grandkids.  What fun!  Spending.  Spending.  My husband and I always traveled with our kids when they were young and I’ve missed traveling with kids.  They bring such a different perspective to the adventure.  One of the highlights for Shane was going back to the cabin at night, getting under the covers and watching television.  Hey, he doesn’t have a television in his room at home, so this was a big deal!

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Todd, Lila & Shane at dinner.

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Lainie and me at dinner

I hate to see them growing up. But, I do have to say … I hope we get more opportunities to do more family travel. I’m not sure how much they got out of it, but I sure am glad we did it. I need to put my adventure cap on and figure out something to do next summer.  I know it won’t be a cruise. Not that this one wasn’t good, I’m just not a cruise person eventhough I seem to do a lot of it.  Why is that?  We have two scheduled for next year! What’s wrong with this travel program? Lila is now attending high school with a standard calendar and this will be Shane’s last year in a year round calendar.

Jim and I … and my friend Marie … are getting ready to head to Paris and Ireland next week. I did finally get all the papers printed we need to take…vouchers … boarding passes … apartment entry code and address. Not to mention nagging Jim to get his act together.  And nagging.  And more nagging.

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Can’t wait for this one.  I haven’t been to Paris in 14 or so years.  And I was last in Ireland when G.W. was President and everyone wanted to know what we thought of him as President.  I can’t wait to hear what they’ll want to talk about this time.  Should be a riot! Until next time …………..



Hey there — it’s me again!

I’m not sure where I’ve been. Distracted mostly, I guess. Sort of like church, you miss a Sunday and then it’s years before you go back … if ever.

I think it started with the election. I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of our Prez. I want him to go away. Wouldn’t he be so much happier if he went back to his old life of travel, golf and firing people? I know I would be if he did. And I wouldn’t be spending so much time marching and protesting.  Not to mentioning the phone calling to Washington. Whew!  My Senator, Tillis is his name, usually says something along the lines of he’s given it a lot of thought and is voting as his constituents want … meaning his financial supporters, since I’m one of his constituents and he’s never voted the way I’d like him to vote. He says I should trust him to do what’s best!  Ha!


Jim and I have been on two cruises; one around the Caribbean and the other to the Panama Canal.  Both of them encountered strong winds which forced us to skip ports and me to be sick.  The Caribbean one had a great band which made Jim and me dancing fools … really.  You should have seen us.  Of course, you would have needed to be drunk to have enjoyed us.


Yep, that was us!

Jim rehabbed a place to flip and I helped a bit. Mostly, with painting, which I hate. And I got my beach place together and sold it. That caused me to cart car loads of stuff back to Raleigh. I seem to have doubles of a lot of things now. The nice thing?  I just have one house to take care of.  Why do we accumulate so much stuff?  George Carlin did a great bit on “stuff”. If you never saw it, try looking it up on You Tube.  A lot of this “stuff” is still sitting around my house here waiting for me to find a place for it. I think I’ll just leave it for the kids to deal with after I’m gone … as in gone to Heaven.

Which brings me to the present. I thought I was doing okay in the karma department, but I guess not. The other day, Yahoo kept downloading the same 300+ old emails to my Windows Live Mail. I couldn’t find a way to delete them all at once, so after doing them individually I decided the heck with it, I’d just keep the doubles and triples.

Then yesterday, I was working on a spreadsheet I created for a trip my friend Marie, Jim and I are taking to Paris and Ireland in September. I was the one elected to handle the arrangements which meant some things were paid in full, and some just deposits. Therefore I needed to sort out who paid what at this point. And I needed to let them know what I’ve been spending their money on and how much! I don’t have Excel. I use Open Office which means often times it can’t be read by others. I saved it as a PDF file and when I re-opened it, it was gobbledygook. Shoot. It couldn’t even be read by me. In deciding to re-do it, I couldn’t find the toolbar that had the fonts on it. pulling hair (267x189) In frustration, rather than toss my laptop out the window, I downloaded a one month free trial of Office. Well … the Outlook portion hijacked some of my folders from Windows Live Mail.  What??  Are you kidding me? And they were not to be found on Outlook.  I worked until 9:45 last night resurrecting my folders with help from Yahoo Mail.  I’m half afraid to remove Office from my computer for fear it will do something else.  Karma has me worried too! I think she’s out to get me.  I better straighten up and fly right. (An old saying and song.)

Just me having fun in my life!


An Open Letter to Rev. Franklin Graham from a “Small Church” Pastor

Exactly what I believe.

Trinity's Portico

Dear Frank

Can I call you Frank? This is just pastor to pastor. Feel free to call me Peter. Anyway, I have to say I was flattered when I learned that your Decision America Tour took a detour off the beaten path to call upon us “small community churches.” We are nothing if not small. We seat 30-40 on a good Sunday. And we are a century old fixture of our small community. Most often we are overlooked and overshadowed by mega-churches and politically influential religious voices like your own. We don’t hold a candle to an auditorium filled with the music of a one hundred voice choir led by professional musicians. We probably will never be recognized in any nationally syndicated media. After all, we don’t do anything really “newsworthy.” We just preach the good news of Jesus Christ; love one another the best we can (which sometimes isn’t…

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I was asked if I could intervene in a family issue that has been going on for the past year. So in a departure from my normal “fun” posts, I decided to pass along what I wrote. Maybe someone out there needs to hear this, as well.
Hi Susan,
  I don’t usually intervene in other’s affairs, but I feel I might be able to impart some of the wisdom I’ve learned in my 73 years.  You may not feel interested in reading on, but I hope you will.
  This email is not about what’s right or wrong with what is happening between you and your parents.It’s about being able to forgive; not to benefit them so much as you.  By not forgiving others for how they’ve disappointed us or hurt, we ultimately end up disappointing and hurting ourselves the most.  The greatest gift we can give ourselves is to forgive others for being human.
  We grow up feeling our parents should do everything right by us.  Their dreams and needs should be secondary to ours. We aren’t aware that as children, we don’t always fulfill our end of the bargain.  What bargain would that be? The one where we accept that once we become responsible adults, they can then pursue life as they’ve dreamed. Enjoy their remaining years living a life they’ve planned, dreamed and saved for.
  Some things we can control, some not.  As children we have to learn and understand that our parents are human.  Which means they make mistakes.  Some of those mistakes can be corrected, but unfortunately, some can not.  Some of these mistakes make us angry, some hurt.  But they are mistakes, nonetheless.  This is where the forgiveness needs to come in.
  When I was your age, I could make a list of things my parents did that hurt me to my core. Things that made me lose sleep night after night. My way of dealing with the hurt was to withdraw from them.  I didn’t cut off all communication like you, but I lessened it. It helped that I lived in another state.  I would speak on the phone with them … well my mom, mostly … about twice a year.  We, none of us, get lessons on parenting.  It’s a play by the ear kind of thing.  And so much of what we do as parents is reflective of what our parents did.  When my mom died, I wished with all my heart I could go back and undo all those years.  There were so many conversations I still wanted to have with her. And still do.
  The most we can hope for as parents is that we don’t screw our kids up too badly.  We want them to grow up to be caring, loving, responsible adults. I can see my successes and failures in my children.  If I could go back and do somethings differently, I would in a heartbeat. I’m lucky and grateful they are good loving people. I’m sure your parents feel the same way about you.  And you will feel the same way when your children are adults.
  I don’t know all the details of what occurred between you.  Your dad is a very private person.  One of the things he’s learned from his parents.  But I do know they’ve always loved you, your husband and your children.  And have only ever wanted what was best for all of you. It’s time to make peace with them.  For you.  Heal your heart. Life is too short to let this continue.  They deserve to be a part of their grandchildren’s lives. And your children need them to be around too.
  I’ve had so many friends who have passed away in their 50s and 60s.  To make it into the 70s is a gift.  We have no guarantees of a tomorrow. Once they are gone, we can never say “I’m sorry”. We can never decide to make it right.  It will be too late.
  You may feel right now that your feelings are correct.  You may feel they deserve this punishment. But, I’m convinced that one day you will regret this time lost.  And your children will too. Then it will be too late. You will live with regrets and guilt. Don’t do that to yourself. Give yourself the freedom of forgiveness.
  Don’t know how to begin to make your peace?  Just send them a note and say, “Let’s start over.”
Your Aunt.

*** Public Service Announcement ***

Ways we can Make America Great Again —  in case Trump forgets us.

Since I spend a lot of time driving between North Carolina and South Carolina, sometimes within days of a previous trip, I feel well qualified in putting forth my suggestions.

First — and this is for my Virginia friends — if you plan to leave your state, could you please just head north? If you must go south, one word –fly.  I understand there are some really good flight deals. By flying south, you eliminate that long boring drive down and back, thereby relieving the congestion on I-95. I know this because today most of the plates were from VA.  I saw a District of Columbia.  One from Maryland. Three from NY.  All the rest were VA and NC.  Now since I was in North Carolina, I understand the NC plates.  But really, I think VA outnumbered NC.

Now, I will be driving back down in a few days and I will see a lot of Quebec plates and some Ontario. These plates will be on a great many really large RVs. Many pulling a car behind them. Actually, three of my car would fit in the same road length. But, remember, these snowbirds are doing their part to Make America Great Again by spending their money here.  Plus — they don’t pay taxes to us, except for sales tax and those endless tolls on the northern  parts of I-95. So we need all the dollars we can get from them. Fill up our coffers! Thanks Canucks!

Which brings me to my next point — you can not drive faster than the vehicle in front of you. Now I know those of you who drive the big ol’ honkin’ white pickup trucks and SUVs sign an agreement when you purchase your vehicle that you will uphold the tradition of tailgating and  intimidating the vehicle in front of you no matter how fast they are driving; but all you do is piss us off. Get over yourself! We know you’re just being a bully and no-one likes a bully.

If you like using cruise control and you set it 15 -20 miles over the speed limit, you can tell the vehicle in front of you is not going that speed, so disengage it before you plow into or scare the hell out of the other driver. If that said driver has a heart attack from the fright of getting rear-ended by you, trust me — you’re going out with him and a few other innocent people.

Lastly, if you feel you were elected to be the speed monitors, you weren’t.  If you are driving the speed limit or just under, get out of the left lane.You make people crazy. Then they do crazy shit to get around you, thereby endangering others. There aren’t any exits from the left lane on I-95 in NC. Get in the right lane and drive with all the other speed monitors. You don’t like the trucks in the right lane? Too bad.  Then your only choice is to step up your game and mash down the gas pedal.

So — if you are all willing to do your part to Make America Great Again, I would greatly appreciate it. I’ll do my part, as well.  When there are too many crazies around me, I get in the right lane behind that line of tractor trailers and know that no-one wants my spot. I’ll wave as you zoom by.