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  • 12/6/2019 I’d like to celebrate some of the special people I interviewed while doing my weekend segments on WISH-TV in 2019.
    Gregg Bell is 90 and still practices dentistry and is director of that department at Logansport State Hospital. But wait, there’s more! In 1953 Bell won the Olympic gold medal in long jumping, in Melbourne, Australia. When I interviewed him, I asked to him to show me the 26-feet, 5.2-inch distance that won him first place. Greg eyeballed the floor and walked it off within a quarter of an inch.
    Gary Varvel is one of the few remaining nationally syndicated political cartoonists in the country. He is now retired from the Indianapolis Star but offers his work from his website. Gary invited me to his home to see how, with the help of a high-tech software program, he creates his award-winning drawings. I seldom agreed with Gary politically, but there is no arguing with his creativity. He also did a caricature of me. I love caricatures. I don’t seem to get any older in them.
  • 11/22/2019 “What should we do?” I asked Mary Ellen. “It’s getting close to Thanksgiving.”
    “Well, we could call and just ask. But that would be awwwkward.” (Say that last word out loud, in a high-pitched voice.)
    Here was the dilemma. For a long time, we have been celebrating Thanksgiving with our friends the Haversticks at a nice local restaurant. Bob likes to plan ahead, so we usually know around July 4 where we are going and what time we are eating. And where we should park.
    About four years ago, other friends, the Goslings, invited us to stop by in the late afternoon on Thanksgiving and have dessert, or I should say: another dessert. We have looked forward to this every year and assumed they would ask us again. And now we come to what Mary Ellen and I call the Gosling dilemma. It’s getting close to Thanksgiving as I write this and neither Dan nor Noelle had mentioned a thing about it. We see them at church and always have a nice chat. Nothing was said. Then I saw Dan at the men’s group and not a word was mentioned about Thanksgiving.
    “We could just show up,” I said to my wife. “Except for my spilling red wine on their carpet three years in a row, why would they not invite us?”
    “Maybe we shouldn’t go,” said Mary Ellen. “But they might expect us and then be insulted if we didn’t show up. Of course, if we simply went to the door and rang the bell, they couldn’t really turn us away. Could they?”
  • 11/15/2019 I obsess about how my lawn compares to others on my block. I noticed some bare spots this past summer, so I addressed the issue on a trip to a local nursery. Then at the Labor Day get-together, people were discussing Joe’s yard, which was suffering from the same problem. I thought, there, but for the grace of sod, go I. (That was a long way to travel for a joke, I know.)
    Now I have a new challenge to obsess over. It began with a letter from my electric company. The envelope looked like it contained my monthly utility bill, but the contents were far more ominous. The page was titled:
    LAST THREE MONTHS ¬– NEIGHBOR COMPARISON
  • 11/8/2019 My wife and I dress in separate rooms when we are going out for the evening, then we meet downstairs and give each other the once-over. We used to get dressed together, but we realized as we got older that the anticipation of what the other one would be wearing was an inexpensive way to amuse ourselves.
    “So, Dick, what are you going to wear tonight?”
    “I don’t know. What are you going to wear?”
    “Not sure. It depends on what you wear.”
    “I haven’t decided yet.”
    “Oh.”
    This snappy repartee is what has kept our marriage fresh. It also prevents our dressing alike, which is creepy for people older than 50. After this exchange, we go to our separate corners and dress accordingly. We don’t know according to what, because there are no rules anymore.
    I once paid $62.00 for a steak at St Elmo’s, while sitting next to a guy in torn jeans, a tee shirt and a dirty baseball cap. “That is really annoying me,” I told my wife.
  • 11/1/2019 My proofreader, Heidi, left me a voicemail. A text transcription showed up below the notification. The message read: “Hi. I sent your proofed column back, but I haven’t heard from you. I wanted to make sure you received it. Love you!”
    Over the 20 years we’ve worked together, Heidi has left countless messages on my voicemail. They sometimes start out with “Love you” but then end this way:
    …to quit being so redundant.
    …to get a new proofreader.
    …to stop calling me before noon.
    No, this time it just said “LOVE YOU!”
  • 10/24/2019 Below are some of the items from the new fall Hammacher Schlemmer gift catalog. This 171-year-old company offers a lifetime guarantee on their products, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out how they come up with these ideas.
    THE 10-MINUTE SMART PHONE SANITIZER
    According to HS, the average cell phone has more germs than a public restroom. It’s probably true. I leave my phone in a public restroom several times a week. Their gadget disinfects your phone with a germicidal light. Don’t worry, you can still make dirty phone calls.
    THE SILENT SQUEAKING DOG TOYS
    Now your dog can play with his squeaky toy and you don’t have to go batty listening to it—since only your pooch can hear it. And you never have to replace his toy, because you’ll never know when it’s broken.
  • 10/11/2019 Brett, Mary Ellen and I just returned from a fabulous vacation in Peru (South America, not Indiana). We first flew to Miami (Florida, not Ohio) where we had a 13-hour layover, which is more like a sleepover, but without jammies and a blankie. What do you do for 13 hours at the Miami International Airport? I wanted to just wander around and explore, but with my sense of direction I was afraid I’d get lost. I didn’t want to be MIA at MIA.
    To help pass the time, I decided to do a little exercising, because jumping-jacks at Gate 6 at midnight seemed like totally appropriate behavior. My most innovative workout was to walk on the moving walkway in the opposite direction, simulating my treadmill at home. I was doing well until this really attractive flight attendant walked by and I sling-shot backwards into an Auntie Anne’s pretzel stand.
    By the time we boarded at 2:00 a.m., I had walked just under 20,000 steps, nearly double my usual daily 10,000. “I’m proud I surpassed my goal,” I told my wife. 
  • 10/4/2019 I created quite a stir during services last Sunday morning. Mary Ellen was embarrassed when she first heard it. The entire congregation was starting to look in my general direction. Noelle started elbowing her husband.  She thought Dan was the instigator. Dan was almost 100 percent sure it wasn’t him. Spouses were poking each other and some of the kids were giggling. My wife thought I should excuse myself from the sanctuary.
  • 8/23/2019 Mary Ellen and I just returned from a trip to San Francisco with our friends the Murphys. The last time we were in California was 40 years ago on our honeymoon, but we weren’t going to let one bad experience prevent us from giving The Golden State another try. 
    On this vacation, we stayed at a very old hotel, which you would think would be a good choice for four kinda old people. After all, we got a senior discount on the room, and a dinner menu with early-bird senior specials. Why then, I wondered, did we end up with a bathtub that would be a challenge for a 20-year-old Olympic pole vaulter? 
    The tub was probably in that bathroom since the early 1900s, a time in our history when the average lifespan was 47 years, unless someone never took a bath or shower and then could probably make it to 60 without breaking his neck. 
    This ancient relic, known as a claw foot tub, had sides that were three feet high, and there were no railings or rubber bathmats to reduce the chance of slipping when entering or exiting the combination tub/shower. This freaked out my wife.
  • 7/25/2019 My wife went on a two-week vacation without me. Hmmm, maybe that’s redundant.
    The last morning before she came home, Mary Ellen called me to say that she wouldn’t arrive until very late that evening. I had already planned to spend the day at home to catch up on some work, write a few columns, arrange the next TV segment, prepare some speeches, and maybe take a couple of two-hour naps.
    That’s when I decided not to blow the entire day and that I’d go see a movie. True, I had never gone to a movie alone in my entire life. But how hard could it be?
    “One ticket, please.”
    “Just one?” asked the young lady. Then she looked at me like I was a lost puppy.
    “Yes, just one.”
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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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