Thursday, May 31, 2007


I am waiting for my clothes to wash so I can pack. I am also waiting for the Fabreeze to dry that I sprayed inside my suitcases. They smelled musty. I think I have everything ready and will hopefully be able to pack after watching General Hospital. I don't like waiting.
Waiting to hear from friends on e-mail
Waiting in line
Waiting for mail to come
Waiting for dogs to stop barking
Waiting for trains

I get antsy - (That must be a word because the spell-check did not underline it)

I like to get e-mail. Especially when it is a note from a friend. I also like getting comments on the blog postings.

I had trouble getting into Blogger to post a new post to the Christian Science Church Blog. Even though I am no longer a member of the Church I wish them well and post their blog entries for them.

I am in my usual mood about traveling. I look forward to going but I am uncertain about leaving things here at home. I have had to get things ready for next weeks stated meeting and I am sure I have left something out. Oh well, they can handle it. I worry about Bailey. I know he will be all right. Jonathan is moving in to take care of him (along with his animals who live here) -

At least this time I will not have computer withdrawal as I am taking my laptop. I need to keep in touch and hope I will be able to e-mail people (but I promise not to bug some of you - I hope) and of course I have to keep this blog going. I find that even though it is the most boring blog on the Internet some people are reading it and even occasionally leave comments. I added an analytical function to it and I can check to see where people are from who read my Blog. I am amazed at the number of "hits" I get. Who would 'a thunk it. (Hum, thunk didn't get underlined either)

I do my posting from Firefox even though I use Safari for most of my work. Firefox works better when I post because it is easy to add pictures and links to the posts.
When I want to link somewhere I just highlight it and click on a little icon and then copy and paste the URL into a box that appears. Then it will appear to be colored and will take you to that place when you click on it. I don't understand how these things work but they are marvelous and I use them to the best of my ability. There is a way to actually embed the YouTube movie into my post but I haven't learned how to do that yet.

Thanks for reading - Be Loved. Hugs.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Hump day musings

I was going to write a poem today but it was not a good one. Lately none of them seem to be worth the electrons they are written on. So I trashed it. It was all about feeling sorry for myself (again) and I don’t so it wasn’t coming well. Usually a poem writes itself.

I had to go to Des Moines today to pick up my tux pants. Gas was 20 cents a gallon cheaper at Costco than it is in Ames. I am slowly getting ready for the trip to Texas. I do plan on taking the computer with me so I will probably be able to blog.

I got the petition from the young man today on my way out of town. He had seen the emblems on my car and I now can say that my car emblem and my belt buckle have both brought in Masons. Of course, I no longer wear the belt buckle as the belt I have now does not allow me to exchange buckles. Next year's Grand Master is working on a project to have Masonic License Plates. I have seen them in other states (See above)and look forward to getting one.

We have a degree tomorrow night and then a week from Thursday the Secretary Emeritus is going to sub for me. (I still have to have everything ready)

I checked the number of pills I have and discovered that I need to have the prescription filled before I go so I have to do that. There was a problem with the prescription so I am not able to get it at the time I wanted to but it seems to be OK now and I can pick it up. The maddening thing is that you have to push buttons and go through computer menus every time you call in. Sometimes you just want to deal with a person. By the time you get to a person you can be very frustrated (at least I can).

Max and Bailey’s barking will NOT be missed. They have both been barking at every little thing today. Of course it is so nice out that I have the windows open so they hear everything. The lady next door moved to a retirement community in Ft. Dodge so her house is vacant – except for the men who are working over there clearing things out. I don’t know what she had in there but they have taken two of the huge double sized dumpsters out of there. They have emptied it twice and are working on filling it up a third time. Of course they started this morning at 6:30 AM and that started the dogs barking. Who needs an alarm clock when you have Bailey and Max. Oh well, I would miss them.

I am sure they are throwing some “good stuff” out but I already have enough “good stuff.”

It is raining and thundering outside so Bailey thinks he has to bark at everything. I must go out soon to pick up my pills and my cleaning. Tomorrow I pack. I always hate that part of going someplace. I have been invited to come to Indianapolis to attend a Lodge meeting. He didn’t tell me what time it meets but it would be fun to go. I think they wear Tux to meeting and eat at a fine restaurant and have toasts. I am tempted. Long way to go. Perhaps if the price of gas comes down?? Be Loved. Hugs.


George W. Bush is visiting a primary school and he
visits one of the classes. They are in the middle of a
discussion related to words and their meanings. The
teacher asks the President if he would like to lead
the discussion of the word tragedy. So the illustrious
leader asks the class for an example of a tragedy.

One little boy stands up and offers: "If my best
friend who lives on a farm, is playing in the field
and a runaway tractor comes along and knocks him dead,
that would be a tragedy." "No," says President Bush,
"that would be an accident."

A little girl raises her hand: "If a school bus
carrying 50 children drove over a cliff! , killing
everyone inside, that would be a tragedy." "I'm afraid
not," explains the exalted leader. "That's what we
would call a great loss."

The room goes silent. No other children volunteer.
President Bush searches the room. "Isn't there someone
here who can give me an example of a tragedy?" Finally
at the back of the room, little Johnny raises his
hand. In a quiet voice he says: "If Air Force One
carrying you was struck by a missile and blown to
smithereens, that would be a tragedy." "Fantastic!"
exclaims President Bush, That's right. And can you
tell me why that would be a tragedy?"

"Well," says the boy, "because it sure as hell
wouldn't be a great loss and it probably wouldn't be
an accident either.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Tube/Random Thoughts

There is some great stuff on You Tube. Mark Day is a comedian with a fake Scotch accent. Here is his smiley face intervention.

Dawn French (The Vicar of Dibley) and Jennifer Saunder play two women discussing sex. Be warned it is adult.

Last night I finished the Film Festival. Watched Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness. Again a movie about a father and a son and it was excellent. Then the Will Farrell Movie where he plays a tax auditor who hears his life being narrated and knows that the author is going to kill him off. It was also a very good movie and I have a lot more respect for Farrel. Good movies and a good ending to my "film festival."

I have decide not to go to the movies currently in the Theaters. Pirates 3 - Shrek 3 and Spider Man 3 - Why encourage them?

I am still getting ready to leave. I had to take my car down to be serviced. While there they discovered that I had a leak in the transmission pan. There went another $250.00. Such fun. However I did meet a nice guy who works there and wants to join the Masons. I had one of the Pocket Petitions supplied by Grand Lodge with me so I got him to fill it out and I will stop tomorrow to pick it up. Handy things. Since his boss is also a Mason I took the second line so Jeff could sign the first.

I finished the Albert Pike book while I was waiting if anyone wants to borrow it. I also practiced (studied) Royal Arch Ritual and some Lodge Ritual. I am hoping we can start doing some degree work in Chapter and Council this summer.

I have to run to Des Moines to pick up my tux pants tomorrow. (Had to have them taken in you know) Yes, I know I've told you that before but I am really pleased. These were the pants I had to buy last summer since my other ones shrunk. I can now get into them again. I am waiting for people to ask me if I am ill since I have lost so much weight. One guy did that to me one other time. Yelled it across his restaurant - I quit going there. He was embarrassing but he did make good soup. I need a snappy comeback for them. Any suggestions?

I didn't get to see Ginny before she left. She picked up the ham loaf from my refrigerator but she left the Chinese leftovers. I may have that tonight. 80 degrees is just right for eating on the porch. But then again, I have a letter to mail..But I could do that tomorrow. The only thing I know for sure is that I am watching Boston Legal tonight. The TV guide says it is still a new one.

Have a good evening and Be Happy and loved!

Monday, May 28, 2007

Licorice Memories

My grandmother first turned me on to the delights of Black Jack gum. It was a licorice flavored gum and she carried it in her purse and would share a stick with me. It was delicious.

I recently became aware that a friend of mine had a taste for licorice and I asked him if he remembered Black Jack Gum. He did and I decided that I would get some. I went out on the Internets and discovered that they had ceased to make it. However I did find a candy company in California that still had some so I ordered some. It came and I had fun sharing the gum with him.

However I did re-develop a taste for licorice and tonight I went through the candy aisle at HyVee to see if I could find some. I was able to get some Licorice Twists and had several of them. I was amazed that there wasn't much available other than the Twists. Mostly chocolate and mints. I can remember getting some licorice at the movie theater. I shall have to look the next time I go. I am not as nuts about it as my friend but I do like it and having some brought back some memories.

Not much happened today. I continued to read the book and Ginny and Bruce were over as was Jonathan who has taken Max to the woods to capture more ticks. He pulled another one off of him this afternoon. Tonight I am watching the last two DVD's I have rented and tomorrow getting ready for Texas begins in earnest.

A beautiful day. Keep Happy. Hugs. j

Sunday, May 27, 2007

A Quiet Sunday - Albert Pike

I spent the day relaxing, reading, visiting my friend Jack Horowitz who is in the Hospital. He seems to be doing well. I also met Ann Clubine who was visiting him. Her Husband and I worked together to set up the Culture Kits and Friendship Fairs in the early 1970's. He was a visionary and I am glad I got a chance to meet her. She and the Horowitz's share grandchildren.

I rented some more movies from Hollywood Video. I seem to be having a Simser Film Festival at the house this weekend.

I have the back porch cleaned off and got some flowers at Holubs to make it nice. The bushes around the back are sending out a nice scent and it was fun to have supper out there with Bailey begging for chunks of chicken.

The movie "Night at the Museum" was fun to watch. The others were heavier and were both foreign language films with subtitles. I stil have two to go.

I am reading "Symbolism of the Blue Degrees of Freemasonry - Albert Pike's ESOTERIKA" transcribed and edited by Arturo de Hoyos. It was sent out by the Scottish Rite Research Society and it was worth the entire cost of the dues. The book is a copy of a book by Pike in which he gives his thoughts about Masonic symbolism. It opens up depths to our degrees and what things really stand for that I had never thought possible. Pike was an incredible thinker and it really shows in this work.

To many the Masonic initiation is straight forward and the explanation of the ritual is enough. For others of us there has to have been a deeper more spiritual meaning and this book points the way to those meanings. Pike spent years thinking about Masonry and studying the underlying meanings of our degrees. Believe me when I say that I will never look on our work superficially again but will continue to look for those deeper meanings.

Pike had two copies of this book made and directed that it not be published or distributed. I am so glad that his wishes were not followed as these ideas should be widely distributed. I am not finished yet and in the preface it suggests reading it twice. I have never been able to finish Pike's Morals and Dogma but this book is very readable and I am getting a lot out of it. I hope others will read it and we can discuss some of the ideas in the book.

All in all a beautiful, restful day. Be happy. Hugs.

Church Squirrels

There were Five country churches in a small TEXAS town:
The Presbyterian Church, the Baptist Church , the Methodist Church , the Catholic Church and the Jewish Synagogue.
Each church and Synagogue was overrun with pesky squirrels
One day, the Presbyterian Church called a meeting to decide what to do about the squirrels.
After much prayer and consideration they determined that the squirrels were predestined to be there and they shouldn't interfere with God's divine will..

In The BAPTIST CHURCH the squirrels had taken up habitation in the baptistery. The deacons met and decided to put a cover on the baptistery and drown the squirrels in it. The squirrels escaped somehow and there were twice as many there the next week
The Methodist Church got together and decided that they were not in a position to harm any of God's creation. So, they humanely trapped the Squirrels and set them free a few miles outside of town. Three days later, the squirrels were back
But -- The Catholic CHURCH came up with the best and most effective solution.
They baptized the squirrels and registered them as members of the church.
Now they only see them on Christmas and Easter

Not much was heard about the Jewish Synagogue,
but they took one squirrel and had a short service with him called circumcision and they haven't seen a squirrel on the property since.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Off the Black/Fathers

Off the Black is a movie starring Nick Nolte. I know you know that I went to grade school here in Ames with Nick. I am also sure that he doesn't remember me from "Adam's off Ox. (Where did that phrase come from?) The movie is described as :An aging, disillusioned alcoholic (Nolte) gets a younger friend (Morgan) and wants him to pose as his son at a school reunion. It was released in December and I am sure it never played in Ames because I would have gone to see it.

Nick is a consummate actor. He is absolutely incredible and I am amazed at the quality of performance which he gives. He had a lot of trouble a few years back and people were making fun of him in the media and I have to admit that he looked pretty awful in the picture. Be that as it may he has seemingly straightened himself out and is back on top as an actor. When he cleans up during this film and when you see the picture of him as a young person you can see just how handsome he is.

The film is about relationships between fathers and sons and Nick has a son who won't have anything to do with him so he makes video tapes and tells his son what is happening in his life. He sends the tapes off and they get returned unopened except once in awhile they don't come back so he keeps on making them.

Nick plays an umpire and after one game his car and house get vandalized. He graps one of the kids and forces him to work for him to clean up the damage. The boy played by Trevor Morgan who will develop as a good actor (Heck he is a good actor already) plays a character who was abandoned by his mother and lives with his father and sister. Their relationship is rough also.

It is a terrific movie and I recommend you rent it and watch it.

But it got me to thinking about fathers. I was fortunate in my mother. Not so much in my father. My parents were divorced when I was about 4 years old. I have one memory of Al Simser when I was a kid. He came out to the station where my mother and I lived with my grandparents. He was driving a convertible. (Perhaps that is why I love them) and took me for a ride. At that point in time I was calling my grandfather "Dad" (probably because that is what my mother called him) - Anyway I did not see him again until I was in college.

A girl I was dating had looked up her birth mother and had a relationship with her, She encouraged me to do the same. The only contact I had with him was that I had sent him an invitation to my High School graduation and I got a card back saying I was welcome to come down at any time.

So I made the contact and went down and looked him up. He was married to the woman he had been dating while still married to my mother. I liked her. He was OK. Not much of interest there, nor did we have anything much in common. I was in contact for awhile but when he left Doris to marry someone from Atlantic and then tried to pick up my cousin's wife in a bar I decided there was no future in trying to establish any kind of a relationship.

After he died his wife asked me to come down to visit his grave. He is buried in Atlantic. I told her that since he had chosen not to have a relationship with me in life I would not have one with him in death.

Instead I had "father figures" in my life and they were great. My grandfather - "Doc" Cole, My uncles Dave Peterson, Harold Dawson, Max Beaman and Carl Bates. My aunt and uncle's friend Gene Wierson who ran a TV repair shop and let me tag along with him on calls all showed me what it was like to be a man and they were the finest examples I could ever have hoped for. My sister's father was pretty good most of the time also but he had one major problem which he never overcame.

Anyway as Father's day approaches those of you who have fathers be grateful for them. I know that my friend Maryjane reads this blog and I sure include her father Joe Shannon into my pantheon of fatherhood examples.

There are a lot of men out there like my (biological) father who abandon their children. I just hope that those kids are as lucky as I was to have someone in their life to show them the kind of love I was shown by these great men.

Thanks Nick, for making a great/terrific/wonderful movie that got me thinking about all of this. I am grateful. Stay warm and Be Happy. Hugs. j

The Hoax/Going to Texas

I went to see The Hoax last night which is a movie about Clifford Irving starring Richard Gere. It was an exceptionally well-done movie and I enjoyed it tremendously. I had to go to Des Moines to see it at the Fluer Theaters. I am not sure how much longer it will be there. There were only three other people in the theater all evening.

I was not aware that this fictional biography of Howard Hughes had Richard Nixon so paranoid that he ordered the Watergate break-in because he feared that Hughes and Irving had shared some information about bribery and that led to his downfall. So, even though he was a criminal, I guess that will make Irving one of my heroes. The power of the pen!

I also ate at Chef's Kitchen on Beaver. Mike Hensley of the Big and Tall store where I get my clothes had recommended it to me and it has become one of my favorite places to eat. I have been there often enough that they know me there now. It is not expensive and I have never had anything bad there (except the Des Moines water). An added plus is the free chocolate chip cookies on the corner of the bar as you go out. Home made and delicious.

My on again/off again trip to Texas is back on. I had planned to go to HOUSTON for the United Grand Imperial Conclave of the Red Cross of Constantine meetings and was going to drive down with friends. They wanted to go early to go to San Antonio. Now I have been to San Antonio three times and I enjoyed it but when my computer crashed I didn't feel right about spending the money to go there. So, I canceled. Then I got to thinking that maybe I could spend time with Amy and Lee Bowers instead of going to San Antonio and they graciously allowed me to invite myself to stay while Glenn and Freddie go on to San Antonio. I will then get a shuttle flight to Houston and join them there for the meetings and the ride home. Things are working out and I am pleased.

Amy is my cousin Chris' daughter and I can remember coming home one night and telling Mom that we were going to McDonald's for supper and then loading her up and driving to Newton for supper so she could see the new baby (Amy) - That was when I lived more spontaneously. Everything did not have to be planned out in advance as it seems to be at this time.

Jonathan is moving in to take car of the animals so that will work out and best of all I will get to be with Amy and Lee for a few days. I can take my computer and still compute while they are at work. Jo tells me their house is "wired" - I imagine that means that they have an air port and you can compute anyplace in the housel Should be fun.

This afternoon I am going up to Jo's to see another cousin I have not seen for years. He is in town for Memorial Day and it will be fun to see him. I also had him as a student so I hope he doesn't bring up any horror stories about me as a teacher.
Stay Dry - Be Happy! Hugs! j

Friday, May 25, 2007

TV/Movies and such

Well sweeps are over and TV has returned to the vast wasteland it really is. I looked over the TV guide and found nothing of interest to watch and since there was no Lodge meeting last night I went to Hollywood Video to rent some movies.

Last night I watched Venus with Peter O'Toole and Catch and Release. By far I enjoyed Catch and Release the most. Perhaps because Venus was about aging and as I get older I do not find this type of show as entertaining. I have always like Peter O'Toole but watching him age just shows me what I may have in my future. I also delete those "as we get older" so-called joke e-mails that people send me. Remember I forget that I am getting up there until reminded by looking in the mirror. That is why I like hanging out with younger people.

Catch and Release was more fun.

Speaking of fun shows I really enjoyed Studio 60 this year. It was the brainchild of Aaron Sorkin who was behind West Wing but it did not last as long as that show. I think that is unfortunate. It was a good show that brought intelligence and wit to TV. Something entirely lacking on most shows currently put out by the Networks. I am waiting for The Closer to come aback on.

Speaking of TV - Al Gore was on The Daily Show and Letterman last night. He is out campaigning for his new book "Assault on Reason. There is speculation as to whether or not he will enter the presidential race. If his reception on either of the shows is an indicator, he should run again. After all he won the last time he ran. I'd vote for him again. I shook his had once. Strong grip. Looked me in the eye and called me Jay. Of course, I was wearing a name tag. It was still a thrill.

Tonight I am going to Des Moines to (finally) The Hoax with Richard Gere. I am looking forward to it.

Have a good week-end. Stay Dry. Hugs, j

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Wednesday - Home Board and Ginny

I serve of the Board Iowa Eastern Star Masonic Home in Boone. We meet once a month and yesterday was that meeting day. I am on the second year of a five year term on the Board and enjoy working with this group. Everyone on the Board is dedicated to making this the best Home in the state and from everything we hear it is. It has none of the "nursing home" smell or feel. Everything is modern and up to date and the Administrator and staff do an excellent job in making this a wonderful place for fols to live.

We eat there after the meeting and I have never had a bad meal. Always tasty, well prepared and presented and the only complaint I have is the water tastes "funny," but then I am used to Ames water. (I don't drink the water in Des Moines, either.)

My grandmother's sister (Aunt Ethyl) lived there the last several years of her life and she was happy with being there. I don't think she would recognize it today as it has grown and many changes have been made. We are just finishing a project of making small "apartment-like" two room suites (no kitchen) on one floor of the annex. They are beautiful spots and I think I would enjoy living in one of them.

Ginny is in town. She and Bruce came up yesterday and are staying out at the Super 8 Motel. We ate at Buford's last night and it was good to see her. She looks good and I enjoyed Bruce. I had not been around him much but I can see why she likes him. Very pleasant with a good sense of humor. I am glad she has him and I think he is glad he has her. They will be around until Sunday so I will see them again but they have a full schedule of things they want to do while they are here. Nice rainy day. We needed the water. Hugs, Be Happy and Loved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Lambskin


It is not ornamental; its cost is not great,
There are things far more useful, yet truly I state
That of all my possessions none can compare
With the White Leather Apron, that all Masons wear.
As a young lad I wondered, just what it all meant,
When Dad hustled around, and so much time was spent
In shaving and dressing and looking just right.
Until Mother would say, it’s the Masons tonight.
Sometimes Mother would say, “Dad what makes you go,
Way up there tonight, through the sleet and snow;
You see the same things each night of the year.”
And then Dad would say, “Yes, I know my dear;
Each time I see the same things, it is true,
Though they be old, they always seem new,
For each hand that I clasp, each friend that I greet
Seem just a little closer, each time that we meet.
Years later I stood at that very same door,
With good men and true, who had entered before,
Kneeled at the Altar, and there I was taught.
That Virtue and Honor never be bought.
That there on the level, men meet and abide.
That wealth and position, is all cast aside.
So Honor the Lambskin, and may it remain,
Forever, untarnished, and free from all stain.
So that when we are called to the Grand Architect’s Love
We will meet him up there, in that Grand Lodge above.

Thanks to Charlie B. for sharing this.

A Trip down Memory Lane - The Royal Arch

Yesterday I went to Cedar Rapids. I had to take the Lodge in a Box back over (It worked swell for the Degree Monday.) and had been asked to do a part in the Royal Arch Degree.

The Degree was held in the Lodge Room where I had been initiated into Freemasonry 41 years ago. In 1965-66 I began my teaching career at Linn-Mar schools in Marion, Iowa. My principal, Rickard Benz, had a Masonic Ring on his finger. I mentioned it and he asked me if I was interested in the Masons. I told him that my mother had told me that I might enjoy the Masons.

Now to be honest I did not know much about the Fraternity. I grew up without a father (and he wasn't a Mason anyway) and no one close to me ever talked about it. My mother had joined Eastern Star and put on a white dress every month to go out to a meeting. She was eligible after her father had rejoined the Masons.

Anyway, that began a journey for me that has been as satisfying to me as my profession. I joined Dick's Lodge (Trojan Lodge #548, Marion, Iowa E.A - March 17, 1966 F.C – April 7, 1966 M.M. – April 20, 1966 ) and while I was a member there I was never what you would call an active member. It was not until I moved back to Ames and got involved with Arcadia Lodge #249 that I became active.

However, the Lodge I was raised in has always had a special place in my heart and I love going back to the building for a visit. The Last time I had been in the building (and climbed all those steps) was when I had gone over for Kyle Martin's Third Degree. Kyle had been state Master Counselor for Iowa DeMolay and had helped start the DeMolay Chapter here in Ames.

So it was fun to go there.

But the reason I went was to take a part in the Royal Arch Degree. In the Degree Solomon's Temple has been destroyed and the people taken to Babylon into captivity. Time has passed and they have been given permission to rebuild the Temple. Three Brothers from the Babylonian Captivity have come up to help "without the hope of fee or reward" to help in the noble and glorious undertaking. They undertake a journey, guided by the Principal Sojourner who has one of the longest parts in all of Freemasonry. (Last night it was masterfully done by Marion Reinhart) and he takes them across deserts, old collapsing bridges and rivers. They have to avoid warring tribesmen and all in all it is a practical reminder to the candidates of what it was like to travel in those days.

Once there they present themselves to the Grand Council and are soon put to work - clearing the rubbish of the old Temple. They make a wonderful discovery and find the long lost Master's Word which had been lost in the Third Degree.

To me this is the culmination of Freemasonry. The degree is a part of the York Rite of Freemasonry and has been associated with craft Masonry for a long time. The Grand Chapter of California has this statement on their web page "The Royal Arch Degrees was considered most important in the early years of Freemasonry and so dogmatic was the Mother Grand Lodge - from which all Speculative Masonry derives - that in 1813, when the two grand lodges in England united, a firm and solemn landmark was adopted and placed in the Articles of Union to guide Masons throughout the world forever on this matter: "Pure Ancient Freemasonry consists of but three degrees, viz., that of Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft, and Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch."

So the degree is an important one and I am glad that I have been a part of it again. As I said in an earlier post Thanks Charlie for getting me involved again. I am loving it. Even if it was midnight when I got home last night. Have a great day Hugs and Be Happy. j

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

A Map and a Joke

These are the state I've visited.

create your own visited states map
or check out these Google Hacks.

A Joke for Tim

One Sunday morning the pastor noticed little Johnny was standing
staring up at the large plaque of names that hung in the foyer of the
church. The young man of seven had been staring at the plaque for some
time, so the pastor walked up and stood beside him and gazing up at the
plaque, he said quietly, "Good morning, son."

"Good morning pastor," replied the young man not taking his eyes off
the plaque. "Sir, what is this?" Johnny asked.

"Well son, these are all the people who have died in the service,"
replied the pastor. Soberly, they stood together staring up at the large

Little Johnny's voice barely broke the silence when he asked quietly,
"Which one sir, the 8:30 or the 10:30?"

Monday, May 21, 2007

Monday Mutterings

I found this today. It is called Telemarketer's Worst Day and it is funny. I hope even the Telemarketer who reads this Blog will enjoy it.

Also I listened to the sermon from First Baptist Church in Johnston, Iowa this morning. The Associate Pastor gave the sermon and it was on invitations. I think back to how thrilled I was when I got an invitation to Evan's First Birthday Party. I also think back to how I wasn't invited until last minute to Family Easter so I had already made other plans. Invitation are important and I appreciated her sermon.

Also today the mail brought a Thank-You note from Dakota. I had given him a book (through his father who was doing some repair work for me) in December and the note that came with it explained that while he had written the note a long time ago they had dropped the ball in sending the note. Thank You notes are important and I was glad to see that they are teaching him about sending Thank-you's. Mother was adamant about making us write thank you's and both Ginny and I try to get them in the mail as soon as possible.

Speaking of Thank Yous and Invitations I miss getting the invitations to graduation parties. I never like to go to the parties (my hang-up) but it is nice to be remembered by former students and their families and I enjoy seeing them before they are off to college. I think the last one I got was at Inez Grove park and it was a surprise for the student. His mom said I was his favorite teacher and so I went. I had a great time.

I have been invited to a former student's wedding in June and while I don't usually like weddings I will go to this one. He and his family are very special to me.. Any suggestions about what to get for a wedding gift?

I am going to Des Moines this evening to Acanthus. They are having a Third Degree and the Shrine Past Masters are putting on the second section. They always do a good job.

I finished Solomon's Builders last night and highly recommend it. Well written and easy to understand. Witty and it puts Masonry in a perspective regarding the founding of our nation that I had not previously thought about. Stay cool and Be Happy! Hugs. j

I am not sure if this is really funny?

Some of them hit a little close to the truth. Thanks Tracy!

YOU might be a school employee if.... believe the playground should be equipped with Ritalin salt lick want to slap the next person who says, "Must be nice to
work 8 to 3:30 and have summers off is difficult to name your own child because there's no name
you can come up with that doesn't bring high blood pressure as it is uttered can tell it's a full moon or if it going to rain, snow,
hail....anything!!! Without ever looking outside believe, "shallow gene pool" should have its own box on a
report card believe that unspeakable evils will befall you if anyone
says, "Boy, the kids sure are mellow today."

...when out in public, you feel the urge to snap your fingers at
children you do not know and correct their behavior have no social life between August and June think people should have a government permit before being
allowed to reproduce wonder how some parents MANAGED to reproduce laugh uncontrollably when people refer to the staff room
as the "lounge." encourage an obnoxious parent to check into charter
schools or home schooling and are willing to donate the UHAUL
boxes should they decided to move out of district think caffeine should be available in intravenous form can't imaging how the ACLU could think that covering your
students chair with Velcro and then requiring uniforms made out
of the corresponding Velcro could ever be misunderstood by the public

...meeting a child's parent instantly answers the question, "Why
is this kid like this?" would choose a mammogram over a parent conference think someone should invent antibacterial pencils and
crayons...and desks and chairs for that matter!!!

...the words "I have college debt for this?" has ever come out of
your mouth

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sunday Rant

I just put the Sunday papers down. There was an article about the new TV season and what to expect for next fall. Frankly I am underwhelmed. There was only one show that looked even like it might have possibilities. It is based on a James Patterson Novel, The Women's Murder Club and I hope it is as good as the books.

The rest of the season is just same old, same old. Nothing inspires me, but then I should not be surprised. Hollywood and the Networks seem as out of touch with the rest of the country as Washington DC. I have written about this before. I don't like reality shows because they are not real and the crying grateful people, while I am glad for them to get help, it just seem to me like the program is taking advantage of them. Perhaps I am just an old cynic but they just don't turn me on. I do choke up when I read a real story about someone getting help or reunited. I just don't think it should be Television "entertainment" and yes, I have never liked Oprah.

I also don't like "Judge Judy" I was watching her show for awhile and decided that her ego was just too large and she was very rude to people. I think I started to dislike her when she put someone down for saying that they had called the police using another number than 911. She made fun of them and acted as if they were the dumbest people on the planet when they mentioned that. Well Judy, I have to tell you that I have the police non-emergency number programmed into my cell phone. I can dial 911 if there is a true emergency but otherwise I would prefer not to tie up the emergency line.

As long as I am griping about things...The talk shows, Letterman Leno, etc just seem like they are shills for the movie that is coming out or the book or the CD. Don't get me wrong, I watch Letterman and while I find his show formulaic I still enjoy parts of it. (It was on his show that I saw Candidate Bush reach over and clean his glasses on the producer's poncho as she was discussing something with Letterman. - Told me a lot about GWB) However, I miss the old Jack Parr and Dick Cavett shows when guests came on and there were entertaining discussions of topics of merit. Not just what show/movie/book they were in or had written that was coming out.

Another "shill" for shows are the columns in the front of Parade Magazine or the USA Today magazines that come with the Sunday Papers. They purport to be about answering questions about celebrities and what they are doing but in reality they either write their own questions or the people who are just opening a new movie will write in the lead in to a commercial and we are expected to believe that the question about what so and so is doing just "happened" to coincide with the new movie that they are opening on Friday. I mean, really.

I got the new Wilbur Smith Book "The Quest" and let me tell you I read the first 80 pages and I could not get enthused. The story doesn't "grab" me nor does it draw me in. So, I have put it aside and will be glad to give it to anyone who wants it. Just leave me a comment and I will see that you get it. (that is if you live in Ames or Des Moines) If not I will donate it to the Ames Public Library.

I am, however excited about Chris Hodep's book - Solomon's Builders - (See yesterday's post) I put the Quest down and started Chris's book and am on page 64. I find it readable and full of facts (proven) about the Masonic Fraternity. There are a lot of people out there who have misconceptions about the "Gentle Craft" and so far Chris describes George Washington's Initiation and dispels a lot of the myths about our fraternity. I highly recommend it. If you are not a member of Research Lodge you can join for $15.00 and you will get it and two other books right away. Another book "A Radical in the East" by S. Brent Morris is due out within the next two months. This is a re-print of his book which I helped with when RL#2 first published it. RL#2 membership is a real bargain.

Well that is enough for now. Have a good day. Hugs, j

Saturday, May 19, 2007


Things are good. Most of my problems of the last week were of my own imagining and I feel good again. I think I am obsessive and need to learn to let some things go.

This morning I drove down to Des Moines to deliver the "Lodge in a Box" to Acanthus. They were in the middle of their monthly pancake day and while I don't eat pancakes because of the diabetes I had a few sausages (delicious) and some coffee and had visits with some people. They are using the Lodge in a Box on Monday and I will take it over to Cedar Rapids on Tuesday.

Friday night the Grand High Priest (who is also Governor of the Iowa York Rite College)called and asked me to do the part in the Royal Arch Degree in Marion, Iowa. Now I have successfully avoided doing ritual work for over 20 years. And here I am doing it again.

The only thing I don't like about it is having to drive back late Tuesday night by myself and then get up the next day to go to the Home Board Meeting in Boone.

After the Pancake Day I went to the Iowa Research Lodge #2 meeting. Research Lodge # 2 is essentially a Masonic Book Club. Every year you get a book and can attend two meetings where a Masonic Author gives a presentation. Today we had the meeting in the morning and then a delicious noon lunch and after lunch we heard Christopher Hodapp,
author of Freemasons For Dummies speak about his latest book Solomon's Builders. Freemasons, Founding Fathers and the Secrets of Washington D. C. It is the book we are getting this year for being members of Iowa Research Lodge and I am going to quit blogging soon and start reading the book. Anyone wishing to join Iowa Research Lodge (who is a Master Mason) can download a form for joining here. I have always found it to be the best bargain in Freemasonry.

It is a beautiful day. Now I am going to read. Enjoy - Be Happy. Hugs. j

Friday, May 18, 2007


I drove to Cedar Rapids this morning. I went over to pick up the "Lodge in a Box" for Acanthus to use next Monday night. Drove over, got the box and drove back. Listened to music on the way over and back. Some CD's I had for gotten. Peter Paul and Mary's In These Times brings tears to my eyes. Particularly the song Don't Laugh at Me Also Jesus Is On the Wire. I highly recommend the album.

Of course the Union Medley always give me a boost. Especially these lines:

If you want a raise in pay all you have to do
Is go and ask the boss for it and he will give it to you
He will give it to you, my boys, he will give it to you
A raise in pay without delay; He will give it to you

Oh, put it on the ground, spread it all around
Dig it with a hoe and it will make your flowers grow

So there I am driving across Iowa in the spring, looking at the green and noting that the farmers have a lot of their crops in and the green is beginning to cover the dark of the topsoil.

I'll do it again on Tuesday afternoon to take it back. I have to wait till afternoon because the vet is coming at 11:00 to shoot Max. He will enjoy that. i have room for one in the car if anyone wants to ride along. j


I hate it when people forward bogus warnings
unintentionally, but this one is real, and it's important....So please send this warning to everyone on your e- mail list.

If someone comes to your front door saying they are checking for ticks
due to the warm weather and asks you to take your clothes off and dance around with your arms up, DO NOT DO IT!! THIS IS A SCAM!! They only want to see you naked.

I wish I'd gotten this yesterday. I feel so stupid.

Thanks Barb!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

George Underwood

There are two George Underwoods in my family. George Underwood who was my great grandfather and was Master of Arcadia Lodge in 1881 and 1883 can be seen and read about here.

The other George Underwood lives in Federal Way, Washington. He turned 88 years old May 1 and from time to time he calls to keep in touch. He had an interesting life. He served our country in four wars. He was in the regular service and then as a special agent in "civilian clothes." He has lived all over the world and I can remember when my grandparents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary he sent flowers from Hawaii.

I have been to Seattle twice and got to visit with him both times. He has two daughters who live there and they are great girls. Linda and Diane. Their mother, Wanda, passed several years ago and she was one I remember with fondness. I remember also one time when we lived north of town when George came for a visit. We sat up late and he told me about some of the things he had done in his work for the government.

Anyway George called tonight and it was good to visit with him. George would like to come back to Ames for a visit but he does not think that anyone back here would remember him. And he is probably right. He is 88. We were talking about his Aunt (my great-aunt) Ethyl who raised him after his parents died saying that she was "the last leaf on the tree". George feels that way now.

George was an all-state football player and I think he would have been pleased had the Ames Alumni Association recognized him for that but they don't seem to be able to do that.

George wanted Ginny's phone number so I gave it to him. So Ginny, expect a call. Be ready to tape your show when he calls because he likes to visit. I don't mind visiting with him. He remembers me as a kid and tells me he is proud of me and he loves me. So you see.

George was raised in Christian Science but he left that after his sister died. Now I think he is a member of the Assembly of God. He is very religious and told me he prays a lot. I told him that blogging was my way of praying. You know I had not realized that. I send my thoughts out to the universe and the universe responds. If I am feeling down I put it out there and sometimes people who don't even read my blog (or know what a blog is) call and let me know that they care. It all helps.

So George, I know you will never read this but thanks for calling, Thanks for helping me remember that I am a person of worth and have a lot to be grateful for and for helping me to be a better person by sitting with me when I was a kid and talking to me. I love you too and today you were an answer to a prayer. (even if I hadn't thought of blogging as praying. Be loved. j


Someone said to me that I had to learn to like myself.

Well, I do like myself. There are lots of things I like about me.
I was a good teacher. I tried to do my best for my students and even though they did not always appreciate it, some said things like "Its been the best year I've ever had, Mr. Simser." "Why was that William?" "Because you wouldn't let me get away with the things the other teachers let me get away with." Another said, "Once you've had Simser the Middle School is a snap."

I was twice named to "Who's Who in American Educators" and you have to be nominated by an honors student to get in there. I was also named the Sam's Club Teacher of the Year for 2002. I always tried to do my best for my kids.

I am also someone who gives to others. My greatest pleasure in life is to give someone something that they appreciate having and seeing them use it or thank me for being thoughtful.

I am a leader. I served as team leader in school, on the Language Arts committee I was teacher chair for years and I think I was effective. Of course it helped that I could work on a team that was so talented. I was also a leader in the Education Association and I have blogged about that previously.

I have been a leader in Lodge work. Serving as Master of my Lodge, High Priest of my Chapter, Master of my Council and Commander of my Commandery just to name four. I was also Grand High Priest for the State of Iowa. I am also a worker. I have been Secretary of the Red Cross of Constantine for twenty years and am currently Secretary of my Lodge. While I am not perfect there are accomplishments in each of these areas that I am proud of.

I have a sense of humor. Sometimes it is warped but it is there and I enjoy laughing.

I am a good friend. I care about people. I try to be sensitive to them and what they need. I try not to hurt them with remarks that are not thoughtful. I try to help not criticize. I never purposefully go out to hurt someone.

I am beginning to like my body again after years of being way overweight it is nice to be able to wear a 2 or 3 X shirt and to have to by smaller pants.

There are a lot of things I like about me.

There are also a lot of things I don't like.

I think the biggest thing is that I have to thin a skin. I do not take criticism easily. When someone attacks me (justly or unjustly) I get hurt and it festers and then I let that become the way I think about myself. The hurt stays with me for months.

I carry a grudge. For years. (People say that is a Scorpio trait but I really don't believe in that) - Years ago my cousins suggested that I get a date and we would get tickets and the six of us would go to Veishea events together. So I asked this girl I knew to go with us, letting her know that we would be with my cousins and would do things with them. I can still see the four of them as they ignored us and walked off to go somewhere after the event. It hurt then and it hurts now. I was never as close to them after that and while two of them are now gone I do not have much to do with the others. It is stupid to be that way but it hurt and that is the way it is.

I let people walk all over me. I don't always stand up for myself.

I evidently am not someone that another can love. Like yes but love no. I was asked once to have an affair by a married woman but I turned her down. Most of the time I have felt the pain of rejection and it is not fun. It colors my relationships. And it makes me come off like I don't like myself. What I don't like is not me. It is just that I want what I can't or haven't been able to have. My biggest regret is that I do not have a son or daughter.

I don't like it that I am not comfortable in large group situations. I really like it when I can have coffee or lunch with one or two others and really get to know them.

I have always been comfortable with my own company and enjoyed doing things by myself. I go to movies alone and eat most of my meals alone. I used to go out with a person I thought was a friend and then I figured out that she didn't really like me and was just using me to spew out her negativity.

I am naive and trusting A teacher I worked with and thought was a friend was bad mouthing me behind my back - To my principal, parents and students as well as other teachers. When I found out about it I was deeply hurt.

I also don't like it that I have diabetes which has effected so many aspects of my life. I don't like having to take pills or that my eyesight has changed. I don't like it that the doctor I had for my foot allowed the charko condition to deteriorate to the point where I had to have ankle fusion surgery and now I have to wear a boot.

All in all I really don't have as much to complain about as some other people. I know there are a lot of people worse off than I am and I should not complain. I have many positive qualities and most of the ones I don't like seem superficial when I write them down. Perhaps that is the reason for this - Bolgging as Therapy.

I hope everyone understands that I am just going through a period of not liking things very much. Hang in there with me and be my friends.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wednesday Musings and some pictures

I went to the Des Moines York/Scottish Rites Ascension Day Service tonight. It was very nice. When I got back Jon was here. He has now pulled 76 ticks off Max. I even found one in my bed the other night but that was probably because I made my bed and the bed spread was on the floor. He likes his new laptop so he and I sat here and computed across from each other. Cassie sat next to him and helped him

Dennis Wendell sent me a picture of the furniture I donated to the Ames Historical Society. I must go down for a visit.

The other picture is of Bailey and his balls. He likes to push the soccer ball around and has to have something (in this case his little ball) in his mouth.

John Carlson had a column in the Des Moines Register about things he didn't care about. Among them Paris Hilton going to jail, who gets Anna Nicole Smith's money, etc. I agree. Celebrity gossip is just worship of person. I am finding that most of the shows on Television aren't worth caring about. I used to watch several of them "Heroes" "Medium" "Law and Order" etc. I have gotten so that I just don't care if they are on or off the air. I am looking forward to "Rescue Me" and "The Closer" coming back on and I still love "Desperate Housewives" "Brothers and Sisters" and my favorite show is Boston Legal (I secretly like lawyers) David E. Kelly has consistently done some of the best shows on Television but I am ready to kick back listen to music and read some books.

Things will get better. I found this poem on the web. I could have written it. It tells a little bit about what I have been feeling.

This is a dark night in my life

I guess there are things a man doesn't tell others...
they just haunt him inside...
this is a dark night in my life...
i cannot sleep...
has your heart ever hurt so much you thought it was gonna explode?
'love is a losing game'...
plays on the it true?
i will never be what you want me to be...
but i am...
right here in my heart
too bad you can never see what i want you to see
to a child from a broken home a kiss is as good as a kick
and right now i am feeling a pain in the pit of my stomach
and right now i am feeling a pain all over my heart
i was not made for this
love is for the strong and stupid
i am careless and naive...
and misunderstood
a deadly combination.
don't plot against me- you have already won
there is no prize
just nights of lost sleep
just dreams of what could've been
sometimes i am spread too thin
trying to make everyone happy is not easy
especially when no one tries to put a smile on my face
just nights of lost sleep

'as a child i wrote messages
on birch bark, thin as breath,
and practised soundless walking
barefoot, in the forest.

the messages were for you'

Thanks to all who have responded to the readings between the lines. This is a time of change in my life and I feel somewhat fragile. I appreciate each of you and I will get through it. My God, I am 65 years old it is about time I grew up. Put the Pity Party on hold and do something about it. Be Loved. j


Last night I ate at Quizno"s (as usual) and as I was leaving I thought I need some ice cream. So I glanced over at the Dairy Queen and, much to my surprise, there was Taner waiving to me from the front of the store. Taner is a Lodge Brother. He joined at the end of last year and I have enjoyed getting to know him. Taner was in the York Rite festival last Saturday and I know he will enjoy that also. He reads my blog and challenges me on some of the things I say. He causes me to think.

Taner blogs as Perpetual Skeptic and, while not as prolific as I am his blog is always worth reading.

What Taner wanted me to do was to come and meet his family. So it was nice. Not only did I get my ice cream I got to meet Taner's wife and son. Julie also blogs...Her blog has only two entries but one of them has a picture of their son. Of course he is older now and was as cute as can be with blue eyes and curly blond hair. We had a nice visit.

Taner was due to go to the tonsorial parlor (Professional Cosmetology Institute) to get a "haircut" so I trotted out the sixth grade humor and asked him "Which one?" I mean I usually get all my hairs cut. (I got that one from Gwen Mitzel with whom I taught for many years at Edwards school) I gave him a ride to the Institute.. (I wonder Taner, which one of us should be "institutionalized") -

Anyway it was a fortutitous (sp) occurrence and I am glad it happened. It brightened my evening. Thanks Taner for waiving at me. I like your family and your son is beautiful as is your wife.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

No Funeral Please

I have friends who are in the funeral business. I decided a couple of years ago that when I go I will not be bringing them much business.

I don't like funerals. I don't want one. My great-aunt Erma felt the same way. She stated that she did not want a funeral and yet my step-mother's son ( a minister) decided to ignore her wishes and he preformed a burial service at her committal. I remember feeling that this was wrong.

I put it in my Will that there could be a Masonic graveside service but there was to be no funeral. At that time my cousin was to be my executor. He kindly informed me that, after I was gone, I would not have much to say about that. So I changed my executor.

I went to a funeral for one of the Lodge Brothers and the pastor started out by saying that he did not know the deceased so he would be talking about someone he did know, Jesus Christ. Fortunately someone else gave a fine eulogy and the service was meaningful. The church I belonged to at that time did not have ministers so that was not going to be a problem but I really did not want a service so I decided not to have one.

The funeral directors like to tell me that it is a time for those left behind to grieve and it was like a family reunion. Well that does not appeal to me either. Those of you who read this blog know that I have been feeling very alone of late. It seems as if I, who always liked doing things alone all of a sudden need to have people in my life. I miss the idea that there is not one special person in my life but that is just the way it is. I guess I feel that if the "family" doesn't contact me or want to see me while I am alive they don't have to pretend to care about me after I am gone.

I have been "down" again and I don't like the feeling. It seems as if I am always the one on the outside looking in and I am going to have to put myself in a position where it does not hurt so much. But if people care about someone they should let them know while they are still around and not go to a funeral to show they care. Show them you care while they are still here. Perhaps I need to go out to a movie. I remember being in a play in College where one of the characters said "Sometimes you just have to go out to a movie." I think I agree with her.

There will probably be a big funeral for Jerry Falwell who died today. I did not like him. I don't think there was any thing "Christian" about him. He was a hypocrite who preached hatred and not the religion of Love that Jesus brought from the Christ. I will not be reading about him, watching any television about him or any of his so-called "Christian" brothers in the right-wing.

A Bunny Adventure/Lunch/Fussing

The other day Jonathan took Max to a park in Northeast Iowa. He came back loaded with ticks. and now has been treated with Frontline. He was not in favor of this treatment. When he saw me getting it ready he took off for the office and hid under the desk. Needless to say he did get treated as did Bailey. I despise ticks. Jonathan had pulled off 30 some ticks from him before the treatment.

When I got up Monday morning there was a note on the door about Max chasing rabbits at midnight. This morning I heard Bailey with a different type of bark and went out and found both him and Max hovering over two little bunny rabbits cowering in the window well.

Rabbit Hero to the Rescue

I grabbed my stick and rushed outside to keep the dogs away from the rabbits. Then I went to the garage and got a wooden fruit box of my sisters and dressed only in my robe went outside (the dogs inside) and lowered the box into the well. I gently guided one of the bunnies into the box and lifted him out. Then the second one was rescued. I am glad I have a private back yard as I am sure my flesh colored robe looked like I was streaking.

I had not slept well last night. I had trouble getting to sleep and woke up at 6:00 AM. Fussing about things I should not be as usual, but that is the nature of my beast. I worry about things I should probably not worry about. Usually whether or not I have offended someone.

I had lunch with my friend Dallas today and she was good for me. It has been far too long since I have seen her. The best news is that she is going to be a grandma. Babies are gifts from God and come into the world loved and they are a true blessing. I think my biggest regret is never having a child of my own. So I adopt other people's kids. I am very grateful to them for sharing them.

Tim Bonney

I first met Tim Bonney on the Masonic Light "List" This is a list where Masons of all types can post and discuss on many Masonic topics. I find it fascinating. The even have Female Masons on the list. Tim is a frequent poster. When he moved to Iowa I was able to meet him in person. I attended his Installation as Master of Daylight Lodge on a snowy winter day and was very impressed with the fact that, not only was he installed as Master, his first act was to confer a Second degree.

Tim is a minister and had come to Iowa to pastor a church in Johnston.

We did not have a lot of contact but I continued to enjoy meeting him occasionally and enjoyed his postings to Masonic Light. Always thoughtful and well articulated posts.

Then I discovered Tim's Masonic Blog and found his postings to enlightening. Tim's post about the Allied Masonic Degrees which we are starting in Des Moines was "spot on" and gave me a lot to think about as to what Freemasonry can be.

Today in looking over his blog (His is on my daily list of blogs to check out) I discovered that he has started a new Web site for Ascalon Chapter # 139, Royal Arch Masons. I am a dual member of this Chapter.

He is just beginning the site so it is still under development but it is still better than many sites I have seen.

Tim just sent me the url for his church Blog site. You can also hear his sermons at this site. I recommend listening to the May 6 Sermon. It is powerful.

Congratulations Tim, I applaud your effort and wish you the best.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Visiting the Doctor

This is a picture of my doctor. Peter Q. Wolfe (and others) literally saved my life and I will always be grateful to him (and them) - Besides being my doctor I consider him my friend and while I never enjoy going to the doctor I do enjoy visiting with him.

I had to go see him today. He likes to keep tabs on me. Things were good today and I don't have to see him until next November. Since last September I have lost 53.5 pounds. Not bad. My belt went to its last notch this morning and yesterday I put on a pair of jeans I had not been able to wear for ages. It was like wearing a girdle so I did not wear them all day. (Although I can only imagine what wearing a girdle must be like as I am not a cross dresser) But I did get them on and I was able to put on some others that I had not been able to wear Tomorrow I am going to check out the Tuxedo's and see if I need to have them adjusted as I am going to Texas in June and will have to put on a "monkey suit" for at least one of the events.

Jonathan took Max to the River yesterday and brought him back covered with tics. I guess there is crabgrass on every lawn.

I also have my new will, Durable Power of Attorney and Power of Attorney changed and up to date so I am in good hands.

So, My health is good and the weather is warm. Be Happy.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Brief Explanation

Created and copyrighted by Stephen A. McKim, of Lafayette Indiana, USA
used with permission.

Many times I get asked about Freemasonry. People are under the wrong impression that we are a "secret" society and are forbidden to tell about what we do. This is incorrect. We are not "secret" We have secrets but they are personal and individual. Anyone who has ever been to a Masonic Installation knows that the proceedings are not secret. Anyone is welcome to attend. You hear a lot about the fraternity at the Installations.

Freemasonry is a lifelong study of how to be a better brother among other brothers under the Fatherhood of God. You see you must have a belief in A Supreme Being before you can petition the Lodge. You used to have to ask to be a Mason for we were forbidden to ask anyone to join. Thankfully that restriction has been eased and you may now let it be known that if a man wants to join the Lodge he has only to ask.

Freemasonry as we know it today began in the 1700's but it goes back further than that. Our traditions claim that we are the descendants of the Mysteries of Ancient Egypt and the builders of King Solomon's Temple. Our initiating rituals are based on events that took place at the building of the Temple are are designed to teach us how to build our character to fit us as living stones into God's Temple.

We take the builder's tools and learn lessons from them. Thus we are called "speculative" as opposed to "Operative" Masons.

In the Middle Ages the Masons were able to travel to different communities to work on building the great cathedrals. They were free and not bound to the land. Thus the origin of the term Freemason. They taught their apprentices how to build and they met in Lodges to teach these lessons. You see books were not available so the instruction was "mouth to ear."

Eventually they admitted prominent men of the community into their Lodges and these men became "Accepted" Masons. Eventually these Accepted Masons were the ones who wrote the rituals and turned the fraternity into what it is today.

Of course, there are others who will tell you a different story but this is the one I accept so it is the one you get from me. These Lodges of Accepted Masons met in various places and always with a fine dinner and wine and good fellowship. There were many toasts and the events bonded the men together like no other association has ever done.

The Lodges eventually formed into a Grand Lodge in 1717 and for awhile all was comfortable. Then there was another Grand Lodge formed and they became rivals. By this time there was a system of degrees so that there were levels or "ranks" of membership. There were three basic levels or degrees - Entered Apprentice, Fellowcraft and Master Mason. There were other degrees attached to them. The degree of Mark Master was a part of the Fellowcraft Degree and the Holy Order of the Royal Arch completed the Master Mason's Degree. These were separated when the two "rival" grand lodges came together and resolved their differences.

My friend Jerry told me that shortly after the formation of the Grand Lodge there were some 300+ appendent degrees attached to it.

Over time the Lodges spread throughout the world. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign unto itself and has dominion over its own ceremonies and rituals. Iowa's Grand Lodge obtained its charter from Missouri and you can see how the Lodges spread from place to place. With the American Revolutionary War American Grand Lodges also declared independence from the United Grand Lodge of England. We have one Grand Lodge in each state.

The current system has two additional "rites" the York Rite and the Scottish Rite which are co-equal and work together in many ways. In order to join either one of these you must be a Master Mason and have proven proficiency (or in Iowa passed the Master Mason Enlightenment Course) The York Rite has three separate organizations. Chapters of Royal Arch Masons, Councils of Royal and Select Masters and Commanderies of Knights Templar.

The Scottish Rite also has several groups also but effectively operate as one organization. They have 32 degrees that you get when you join and one 33rd which is honorary.

There are a lot of other Masonic Organizations which you can join including some which are not Masonic but which meet in Masonic Temples and include Women and Men. The primary one is the Order of the Eastern Star.

This is a brief explanation. I could say a lot more but to be very honest Desparate Housewives is coming on and I want to watch. As for activities today I read. Newspapers and The Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud by Julia Navarro Beautiful day Be Happy. j

Happy Mother's Day

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Good Saturday

OK, There were lots of good things about today. One was the York Rite Festival and we had 8 candidates from Ames join the rite. I got to take a couple of parts and I enjoyed seeing the degrees and helping out.

I got gas at Costco for 15 cents a gallon cheaper than it was in Ames.

Now it is 10:30 and night and since I had to get up to be down there by 7:00 am I am really tired. Looking forward to a relaxing Sunday tomorrow. Be Happy, I am.

Friday, May 11, 2007


My family has been a part of Ames, Iowa for a long, long, time. My great grandfather John Cole came to Ames with his family in the Mid 1800's. My grandmother's family came at about the same time. Over the years I inherited a lot of pictures from the family. Several years ago I decided that it was not good for them to be sitting around in the basement so I contacted my friend and classmate, Dennis Wendell, to see about giving them to the Ames Historical Society. Since his retirement Dennis has been devoting himself to the Society and its work. Needless to say he was delighted to receive the collection. Some of the members of my family were not so delighted that I gave away the civil war tintype of John Cole to the Society. I really don't care. They all belong there and they will be cherished and preserved and can be visited by the family at any time.

Today I gave them the table and chairs pictured above. Actually I gave them to them a long time ago but have been storing them here until they could move to a larger space. They have finally moved and so Dennis and his co-worker came to pick them up today. The table is described as an Empire Game Table. I remember when my grandmother got the table and I watched my grandfather refinish it when we lived out north of town in the late 50's It came out of Professor A. H. Fuller's house on the South-east corner of 8th and Douglas. Pasted inside the table (which opens up so you can play cards on it) is a strip of paper which says "Purchased second hand in Philadelphia in 1849. Pretty neat.

The chairs belonged to "Aunt Sadie Smith" for whom my grandmother was named. I don't know much about her but she was Mrs. George Underwood's (my great grandmother) sister. At least I think so.

I am glad they will be at the Historical Society. I hope the people of Ames will enjoy seeing them. I have enjoyed owning them but they belong there and it gives me a great deal of pleasure to share them in this manner. (Of course if it turns out that they are worth many thousands of dollars I will cry - not really)

So- go visit the Historical Society in its new location and think about making a contribution.

Also don't forget to scroll down and add your line to the Gray Hair Poem. Be Happy.

Let's try something!

My friend Su and I had lunch today for her birthday. While we were eating she made a statement. It sounded like the opening line of a fun poem. So here it is.

I've been counting gray hairs in strange places.

Now it is your turn. Go to the bottom of this post. Click on comments and add a line to the poem. Should be fun. Let's see what we can come up with.

Your Driver's License Tells All

A mother is driving her 7 year-old daughter to her friend's house
for a play date when the little girl asks "Mommy," how old are

"Honey, you are not supposed to ask a lady her age," the mother
replies sweetly. "It's not polite."

"OK", the little girl says, "How much do you weigh?"

"Now really," the mother says, a bit less sweetly . "Those are
personal questions and are really none of your business."

Undaunted, the little girl asks, "Why did you and Daddy get a

"That's enough questions, young lady, honestly!" mom says as her
daughter is getting out of the car.

The exasperated mother drives away as the two friends begin to

"My Mom won't tell me anything about her," the little girl says to
her friend.

"Well," says the friend, "all you need to do is look at her drivers license. It's like a report card, it has everything on it."

Later that night the little girl says to her mother, "I know how
old you are, you are 32."

The mother is surprised and asks, "How did you find that out?"

"I also know that you weigh 140 pounds."

The mother is past surprised and shocked now. "How in heaven's name did you find that out?"

"And," the little girl says triumphantly, "I know why you and daddy
got a divorce."

Now mom's getting mad. She says, "Oh really? And just why is that, young lady?"

"Because you got an F in sex."

Thursday, May 10, 2007


A quiet day, Except for the dogs barking. With the windows open every noise outside sets them off and they feed off each other. Bailey got his leg caught in the recliner when I went to get up and boy did he let me know that he was hurting. I don't ever consciously hurt him. And he was hurting. His leg was up and he was walking on three legs. I picked him up and held him and loved him and eventually he was able to walk OK but he really had me scared.

I ran some errands and got ready for lodge tonight. The Za Ga Zig Shrine Past Masters came to Arcadia Lodge and put on a costumed Third Degree. Our own officers did the first section and they did the second section. It was as fine a degree as I have ever seen. The candidate was very grateful and we, of course, are happy to have him as a new member. There were 40 Brothers present and it was a very good evening.

There is a lot of discussion on some of the lists about Masonry and its place in today's world. We are seeing a lot of young men joining our fraternity. (The average age of Arcadia Officer not including two of us older guys is 33.) You can see some of our new members here. This is after a period of time when we did not have many men petitioning our Fraternity. Some men come for reasons of brotherhood and fellowship. Others come for more esoteric reasons. The Grand Lodge has a paper called TEN REASONS TO BECOME A MASON

1. A place where you can confidently trust every person and trust your family with them also.

2. A place where, within moral and civil guidelines; free thought, free speaking and the spiritual growth of man, can grow into its fullest potential.

3. A place to meet outstanding individuals from all walks of life, that a person would not otherwise have had the opportunity to know and call brother.

4. A place to be part of an organization which has for its principal tenets – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

5. A place that provides self-development opportunities, leadership training and experience, and to improve public speaking skills.

6. A place you can go to seek support as well as give it.

7. A place where moral virtues are taught and through these teachings a regular reinforcement of the moral virtues is experienced.

8. A place to spend time with a group of brothers, who by acting as good men, make me want to become a better man. Not better than others, but better than I would have otherwise been.

9. A place to become better equipped to serve Church and community.

10. A place to meet with established members of the community and to become a part of the community.

There are some who would criticize our Gentle Craft. To them I say look at those who have been members. I could list names here of men who I admire because I have gotten to know them through Masonry. I know that every Brother is not perfect and all have their own reasons for being a Mason but for those who stay and participate there is a growing and building of character that improves their quality of life. For me that is enough. Perfect today. Be Happy! j

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

It's Over

My service on the Uniserv Unit Board has ended. I went to Des Moines for my last meeting tonight. I shall miss them. It has been an incredible experience and I enjoyed it.

Several things are changing in my life. There was a French philosopher who said "Change the law of life!" I have always liked that quote. It keeps me grounded when things change. Some changes are good others are not.

Hugs to all. Be Happy!

A New Poem

I like hanging out with younger people,
It makes me feel young- I reflect myself in them.
Of course, when I look in a mirror I don’t know who that “old guy” is!
So I avoid looking there…Except when I shave or comb my hair.

Now that I am a sexagenarian I need all the help I can get.
(It is the first time in my life I have been sexy.)

The first two years in my sixties weren’t too bad.
Then things went to Hell (except of course there is no Hell)
And life wasn’t as fun as it once had been.

I faced my mortality. And it wasn’t pretty.
Almost being dead makes you appreciate living.
Thank God for doctors and others who helped me through
the worst time in my life. Things have improved!

Now I have decided to sign a new lease.
Retirement is great. I get to do what I want (most of the time)
I have a lot of friends who seem to like me and I, of course, like them.
I keep busy and active (but I don’t get to dance much)

I am connected to the wide world as never before
Thank you Al Gore!
I have different needs – less material.
I can give away things,
Knowing they will give others pleasure
is the greatest pleasure for me.

My dog loves me – the cat (my nephew’s) tolerates me
My friends care and I am beginning to care again
So I am content.

Jay Cole Simser
May 9, 2007

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Tuesday Randomness

“Service is the rent we pay to be living. It is
the very purpose of life and not something you do
in your spare time.” Marian Wright Edelman

My friend Barb just sent me a note asking me to vote for her as she runs for ISEA Retired Delegate to the National Education Association. I had already sent my ballot in voting for her. She exemplifies the quote above. Marion Wright Edelman is a great American. You should go and read about her. Thanks Barb for reminding me about her.

I wrote three (little) poems today. They are important to me because I have not written a poem for a year or so. Perhaps the muse is returning. I share them here.

When I woke up this morning I was dreaming of a smile.
The smile on your face that expressed your feelings of friendship.
It brightened my whole day and I just want you to know
That smile was a gift to me – even though it was only in my dream.

Have you ever noticed as you drive down the road
The little cars passing you are all painted red!
Usually driven by someone with a look of dedication on their face
Dedicated to being in first place or winding up dead.

I love those photos I took. - Moments and Memories.
You can see the love of a Father for his son.
The joy of the Mother as she holds this miracle she loves
This child of God they made together -
This gift from Father-Mother God that lights up everyone’s life.

Bailey got groomed today and he got a new collar. He looks beautiful.

I found out what happened to the lady (Bernice) who lived next door. Bernice's daughter was outside the house when I came back from running errands and she told me that Bernice had moved to Friendship Haven in Ft. Dodge. Her other daughter lives in Ft. Dodge so she will be near family. One mystery solved. The enormous dumpster in the front driveway was the clue.

Speaking of garbage. I found out that I am eligible for a Senior discount with WasteManagement Thanks to Aunt Jo for cluing me in.

The old computer has been fitted with a new hard drive and my nephew is taking it off my hands. I hope he gets am much good out of it as I did.

I found a Tarot Card site where you take a little test and it tells you which Tarot Card you are. I am the Tower.

You are The Tower

Ambition, fighting, war, courage. Destruction, danger, fall, ruin.

The Tower represents war, destruction, but also spiritual renewal. Plans are disrupted. Your views and ideas will change as a result.

The Tower is a card about war, a war between the structures of lies and the lightning flash of truth. The Tower stands for "false concepts and institutions that we take for real." You have been shaken up; blinded by a shocking revelation. It sometimes takes that to see a truth that one refuses to see. Or to bring down beliefs that are so well constructed. What's most important to remember is that the tearing down of this structure, however painful, makes room for something new to be built.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

I don't know anything about Tarot but I really like the "makes room for something new to be built" part of the quote. Have a great evening. Hugs, j


Finally some more humor is coming my way. I am not going to put them up every day but I know some of you like them.

A drunken man walks into a biker bar, sits down at the bar and orders a drink. Looking around, he sees three men sitting at a corner table.

He gets up, staggers to the table, leans over, looks the biggest, meanest, biker in the face and says: "I went by your grandma's house today and I saw her in the hallway buck naked. Man, she is one fine looking woman!" The biker looks at him and doesn't say a word.

His buddies are confused, because he is one bad biker and would fight at the drop of a hat. The drunk leans on the table again and says: "I got it on with your grandma and she is good, the best I ever had!" The biker's buddies are starting to get really mad but the biker still says nothing . The drunk leans on the table one more time and says, "I'll tell you something else, boy, your grandma liked it!"

At this point the biker stands up, takes the drunk by the shoulders looks him square in the eyes and says.................

"Grandpa,....... Go home, you're drunk

Monday, May 7, 2007

Starting the week off right

It was a beautiful day today. I had a relaxing enjoyable morning and then I went down to Des Moines to meet a friend for coffee. Actually he was an acquaintance before and now I consider him a good friend. See I am getting out and making connections. I have known him for a couple of years and am nuts about his son, Jack.

A couple of years ago I gave Jack a copy of Misty which is a book I read when I was a kid. My Aunt Ethyl (great aunt actually) gave it to me and it is a timeless, wonderful story. I highly recommend it. Anyway That was the beginning of a great afternoon. Then it was out to Acanthus for dinner.

The Secretary was going to be gone so he asked me to take the money. An onerous job. Since there was no meeting I went out to Costco to get gas. It is about 5 to 10 cents a gallon cheaper out there and once I got that it was head home for an early evening. The drive back was exquisite. The sun was getting ready to go down and the clouds were just right so I was treated to reds, golds, lavenders, and blues all the way back. There was still water standing in the field so the reflection enhanced the experience.

Absolutely another reason why I love living in "The Beautiful State" The temperature was perfect the friendships wonderful and even though we didn't get to go for and afterglow at Christopher's it is good to be home with the window open and 67 degrees outside. Tomorrow Bailey gets groomed. Stay Happy and hug someone. j