Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year's Eve

Well, here we are...the end of another year, and what a year.  For me, this one was a beauty cause I'm still on the top side of the turf; I didn't get caught in any major lies and I didn't spend any time behind bars -  prison bars that is.  I did enjoy a few hours seated in front of some other bars, but far less time than years gone by.

It's really a time for me to be ever so thankful for all my blessings.  Both my daughters and their families are relatively healthy and doing well.  Most of my friends are still coherent and mobile.  The ones who fail to qualify in the coherent category don't realize it and are blissfully happy in their own little universe where days are always sunny and woes are not to be experienced.  Not a bad deal and I think I'm subconsciously headin' thataway.  Some say I'm on the fast track.  Gal Friday has my insurance man's number on speed dial.  

Gal Friday still loves me regardless of, well, so many things.  Just about everyone who knows me questions why she continues to love and stick with me, but I know and I ain"t atellin'.  We help push each other to do better things.  I admit she has to push a lot harder.

It would take the rest of my life to count my blessings, but suffice it to say, God has been overly generous with me and last year was no different.  Like everyone, I could find something to moan about, but my complaints are insignificant compared to the important things like family, friends, fill in the blanks.  

To all - HAPPY NEW YEAR and may 2011 bring you health, joy and peace.

Monday, December 27, 2010


Living on the south side of the Mason-Dixon Line has many advantages and a major one is the lack of  that icy white stuff that floats down from the heavens and causes so much trouble.  Snow is so beautiful and at the same time, oh, so dangerous.  I've known some women like that, but I'm not going there.

I grew up in the snow belt of upstate New York.  We had two seasons -- winter and the Fourth of July.  Actually one Independence Day, while visiting back home, my girlfriend and I were golfing in the wonderful little upstate village of Newport and the clouds suddenly gathered,  the temperature plunged and down came the flaky white stuff that's supposed to fall many months later.  However, we all must realize God doesn't watch The Weather Channel.  During that episode, my girlfriend, who was from Alabama where I too lived, decided if we were ever to have a future together, it wouldn't be spent in upstate NY.  Truthfully I'm positive that was one of many factors that contributed to her decision to definitely not having a future with me...there or anyplace else.  Meeting some of my old buddies from my hometown was another.

I did marry a southern belle from North Carolina and one winter we visited my hometown to celebrate Christmas.  That year happened to be a particularly hard winter and by March, 24 feet (snow, that is) had fallen on the Mohawk Valley.  The snowplows were kept constantly busy and the snowbanks grew to heights challenging the surrounding hills.  My wife, now deceased, stood about 5 feet 4 inches.  Walking through towering 30-foot snowbanks caused her onset of claustrophobia.  She made me promise if she died and was interred in my family's area of the local cemetery, I'd put two pair of socks on her feet.  She hated cold feet. 

Since graduating college and moving away, I've resided in the so called "sunny South."  I've lived in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, North Carolina and Delaware.  One may wonder why all the moves.  The answer is simple; I had to stay one step ahead of John Law.  Not really, but that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  But the point is I thought I escaped that frigid weather and all its accoutrements.

But here I sit in Delaware (a southern state) only 3 miles from the ocean and sandy beaches...SNOWED IN!  There is something dreadfully wrong with this scenario.  We have almost 20 inches of that treacherous white stuff piling up in our driveway.  Our front door is blocked by about a 4-foot accumulation because the wind has blown additional snow from the roof.  We just paid for some guys with shovels to clear a path to my ramp van though I'm not sure the ramp will even deploy.  My heart tells me the ramp isn't used to this oddball cold junk and when it first touches it, will close back up in pure disgust.  I'm getting cabin fever already and Gal Friday is upset because I'm doing wheelies and my chariot's tires are leaving black scuff marks on the floor.

What a dilemma.  I should move to a tropical zone like south Florida, but then I'd miss the change of seasons.  Mother said there would be days like this, but I didn't listen.

Friday, December 24, 2010


Last night after dining with some friends, my Gal Friday (and every other day of the week) chauffeured yours truly around to see Christmas decorations.  The night was crisp and clear with a full moon lighting our way.  Of course the van's headlights helped too.  After feasting on a delicious presentation of veal piccata with a pasta side dish and sipping on some liquid of the grape (the name of which I can't even pronounce, much less spell), I felt in a well-sated and glorious mood.

She drove me to see many homes decorated with wonderful displays of Christmas lighting.  One place had the whole house, trees, bushes and man-made configurations depicting Santa and his sled among other things, covered with lights that blinked on and off to the beat of different Christmas tunes.  We listened to the music by dialing a specific station on the car radio.  Quite impressive to say the least.

As we continued our gawking at more dazzling displays and even in my euphoric state, a feeling of loss crept into my awareness. I wasn't sure what this represented, but it wouldn't leave me. Later, after bedding down, I silently deliberated on this sadness I harbored and why. Did the festive lighting remind me the holiday season brought on bittersweet memories of my departed parents and siblings? No, that wasn't it; I believe they're in a better place free of life's woes. Could it be I wouldn't be sharing the joy of Christmas Day with my daughters and their families? No, I'm not one of those parents who can't let go. I'm ecstatic my daughters have wonderful families of their own to enjoy not just holidays, but the special moments of everyday living.

So why did this sense of loss overcome me? There are certain times I, along with many others, wonder about my degree of sanity, but I didn't think I had taken that last step yet. Although if I had entered the land of the totally confused, would I know it? Let's drop this subject; it hits too close to home.

Then suddenly, during my evening chat with the Almighty, the answer to my dilemma flashed into focus.  Recalling our visit to the homes with the Christmas displays, I realized what I missed.  The loss I felt was Jesus.  Gal Friday and I saw some astounding displays of Santa and all his counterparts, but very few, if any, references to Jesus.  Don't worry, I'm not about to expound on taking Christ out of Christmas as so many have done.  This is just a note on a personal outlook. My politics don't direct me to any left or right wing extremes and in fact I'm what many would call a centralist independent. My political decisions are based on individual cases, not party lines.

Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Rastafari and the Baha'i Faith all spawned from a common basis-- the founding patriarch, Abraham.  Other major religions such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Taoism, etc. are based in various other beginnings.  The largest of the Abrahamic religions, in numerical order, are Christianity, Islam and Judaism.  As most of the world recognizes, only the Christians observe Christmas.  I just wonder if we Christians forget that it's Christ's birthday, not Santa's.

Well, Merry Christmas to all my Christian friends; Happy Holidays to all the others; and a safe, joyful and healthy New Year to all.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Gal Friday did it again.  This time she tied me down and drove me to the mall's stores for our annual voyage of wonderment.  At least she blessed me with the privilege of riding inside the van, not behind the sucker.  Since the weather is so frigid and the exhaust vapor so acrid, she took pity on me.  Of course my traveling inside also minimizes the time to get to the mecca of money pits while maximizing time to watch our bank account shrink.  

You may question why I call this a voyage of wonderment.  Please allow me to explain.  All year I try my utmost to avoid stepping foot into any mercantile emporium, with the exception of Lowes, Home Depot or a necessary stop in our local pharmacy.  Consequently when Christmas shopping comes around, I am always amazed at the things I observe during our annual spree.

First of all I think every store plays the same Christmas music tape.  And why do they start blasting it before Halloween?  If you're in a mall, you'll notice the same song radiating throughout the massive edifice as in the smaller boutiques and haberdasheries.  By the time you've finished deleting your checking account to the minimum balance, these carols, hymns and ditties will remain entrenched in your subconscious until Easter.  Last year I found myself humming "Jingle Bells" during the baseball All Star Game.

Next, I'm amazed at the variety of items to be sold.  How do people make choices?  Once I sat with my agent in Capetown, Africa and he asked me that very question.  "How do Americans ever make a decision on what to buy?  You have so much to choose from; it's mind blowing."  At that time, they had three channels to watch on television while we had 133.  The selection of cars to purchase came to less than ten percent compared to us.  You get the picture.  No wonder women spend so much time shopping.  If they are serious about buying "just that right thing" for uncle Buster or cousin Susy, hours or even days could be spent on a proper choice.  Men shouldn't worry when the wife is away from home for 10 hours and comes back looking messy and spent.  When she claims she's been out shopping, gentlemen, she hasn't been out playing footsie with her lover; believe her, she's really been shopping.

Now let's look at the shoppers themselves.  Upon crossing the threshold of a store, they all seem to suffer sudden cases of Alzheimer's.  They slow to geriatric shuffle mode.  Reverse becomes their popular speed as they tread the carpets and tiles.  They can't seem to remember to get out of the way.  Clogging the aisle as they search the shelves and racks has become a favorite hobby.  Even young mothers seem afflicted with this elderly disease.  And it's no wonder - I mean so much merchandise - so many choices.  I think the average brain goes into overload.  They wander around looking like zombies from a Fifties horror film.

Now me, on Christmas Eve I can go up one aisle in the men's department and down a second in the ladies' section and complete my Christmas shopping.  "Just the right thing" doesn't apply in my case.  In fact my women giftees very seldom get the correct size or style garments and the guys are lucky to receive matching socks.  In the event they need to return or exchange my gifts, ( I'm batting almost 1000 in that department) I have the receipts wrapped with my presents.

Most of the time the racks are so close I can't get ole Red Chariot through and when I finally find an escape to a main aisle, people are so crowded together, I can't find an opening.  Sometimes I honk my horn (yes, my powerchair has a horn), switch to dirt track devil persona and ram my way through.  I've been ejected from a few stores because of this; however, it's a terrific traffic jam buster...and kinda fun too.  Some of those senior citizens, the same ghouls clogging the aisles, can really move when motivated.  Oh, yeah!

Do shop owners purposefully reduce the number of registers during peak buying seasons and why doesn't each clerk know how to operate one?  The lines at some of these counters rival those at the Super Bowl ticket gate.  Gal Friday shaved me just before entering our initial store.  After more hours than the gestation period of an elephant, we bought an item.  Then we entered the line to pay the piper.  By the time we reached the counter, I had a four-day beard.  I was terrified my chair would run out of charge...or worse, my pacemaker.

Yes, we should all emulate the Christmas spirit year-round, but if you get involved with the purchasing of gifts, be very careful - your "Ho, Ho, Ho" may turn into a "Bah Humbug." 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Computer Breakdown

Remember when people use to crack wise ("crack wise" is a term I learned from our ultimate teacher, the tee and vee) with an insult to your appearance while having your picture taken?  They would say, "I hope your face doesn't break the camera."  I really doubt if anyone's face broke the camera but then again maybe some did.  Of course, I would never make those kinds of derogatory remarks, no siree.  Really, how uncouth.  I'm so happy I'm above that sort of thing.  Yep, pure as the driven snow, that's me.

I think I just discovered "saying" words now is the same as "typing" words on your keyboard.  I must admit I have written a be kind, let's say "sarcastic" remarks on my keyboard.  My camera is working fine, but my computer stopped computin' last weekend.  Somewhere on the computer's menu I've seen the term "hibernation," but this wasn't hibernation; this was terminal work stoppage.

Never, never have I considered myself an over committed "user."  No siree, not me.  I feel sorry for those poor dopes who are tied to their computers - I mean don't they have a life.  Come on folks, get with it.  You people need to get out into the real world; you know, shed your pool room tan; get with the crowd; enjoy life.

Uh, I believe I should change my tune.  Since my Dell let me down for the last six days, I have discovered I need not be so critical of the "users."  I'm beginning to see the light.  Yes, there is a trace of a dim glow rising in my pea-brained consciousness.  I once believed "user" was the appropriate title for people as dependent on their computers as druggies on crack.  Addiction seemed their common dependency.  However this last week has given me a whole new perspective.  Yes, I have definitely modified my opinion.

It started the morning after my friendly computer decided to take a vacation.  As Gal Friday readied for the day, as usual I wheeled over to my desk to check news and emails.  Refusing to accommodate me, my now not-so-friendly computer reminded me it had taken a well-deserved time off.  Hmm, I wondered, "How do I fill up this empty time?"  I turned on the TV to learn of the day's news.  That didn't last long because I detest commercials and most TV programming is advertising for everything from cars to condoms.  Next I opened a novel by Nelson DeMille I've been itching to read...for the last two months.  After a couple of short chapters, I pondered, "What have I been doing with these morning hours?"

Next came the first meal of the day.  After breakfast, I attempted my initial daily project - brushing my teeth.  Observing me trying to brush my teeth is hysterical.  I've often thought about charging people to watch.  Once the word got around about the laugh-a-minute procedure, I know I could reap a small fortune.  Because my hands and arms are so dysfunctional, I end up polishing my eyeballs or cleaning my ears.

After the decay-preventive laugh, I again wheeled over to you-know-what.  Again the monitor stared blankly at me and again I remembered how accustomed I had become to doing this.  I made some phone calls I had been planning to make...for the last few months.  Gee, you really have some time to do the things you need or want to do when you're not computin'.

After lunch my chariot, on its own accord, headed for my computer, but this time I forcibly stopped it.  "No, no, big fella," I clamored.  "No emailing, facebooking, blogging, googling, etc. today."  But then I realized this was false bravado.  I faced my moment of truth - I missed my computer.  Sweat began its slow trickle down my spine.  I felt perspiration on my brow as I watched my hands quivering from lack of keyboard.  I resembled an addict in withdrawal.  How could I possibly fill in the remaining hours of the day?  What could I do to consume the waiting ticks of the clock?  That's when I knew...I was computer dependent.  Oh, God, how could I have sunk this low?

Frantically I called to Gal Friday.  When she appeared, I desperately tried to act composed, but she saw right through the pretense.  In fact she thought I was in cardiac arrest once again, but we calmed each other and then I asked my sweet angel (I always refer to her in that manner when I need something done) to "fix" my computer.  I begged and pleaded my case.  I shouted, "These damn things are smarter than man; they have a mind of their own!"  Gal Friday once again and as usual, displayed her superior intellect with, "No, Edward, if they were smarter than us; they would be the users and we would be the computers."  Kinda hard to argue that logic.

Well, suffice it to say, after the purchase of a new monitor, my nerves have eased; my sense of order has returned...I'm back on line.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


Well, my Gal Friday did it again.  She dragged me over to the local drug store to suffer through a flu shot.  Like most macho American males, I hate shots because they involve the use of needles.  My one exception is a shot from a glass.  Even as a baby I learned having your epidermis pierced with a sharp metal object is not amusing.  It doesn't rate too high on the "having fun" curve on which I valiantly attempt to reach maximum marks.

During second grade in elementary school, we youngsters were lined up to be marched about four blocks to the our town's municipal building where a doctor awaited ready to inflict pain, in the form of a polio vaccination, upon us unknowing kids.  However,  just before the onset, we were told what this little class jaunt was all about.  I immediately conjured up an image of a lurking, fiendish doctor dressed in black ready to snatch any poor kid passing by.  I could envision the building stocked to the brim with ample supplies of needles and polio vaccine to inoculate all of the Western Hemisphere and I was certain, because of a frantic need to dispose of the goods, this dastardly doctor crouched ready to pounce.  My anxiety turned the short walk into an anguished trek only exceeded by the Bataan Death March.  I felt like a young displaced Iroquois trudging along the infamous Trail Of Tears.  The four blocks turned into tortured miles with each step drawing me closer to impending pain.  By the time we arrived my legs refused to carry me over the threshold.

Being my last name begins with "C,"  I stood near the front of the line.  In front of me was my buddy Ralph, whose last name starts with "B."   When Ralph pivoted around to face me, I realized by the lack of color in his face and quaking extremities,  my friend shared my intense apprehensions.  I asked Ralph, "Have you ever had polio?"  Because fear had overcome him, he couldn't speak, but did manage to nod "no."   I told him I never had polio either and didn't find it necessary to needlessly undergo the indignity of facing the needle.  The words may not be exact, but you get the idea.  With extreme relief, Ralph and I slithered away ready to play another day.  Although in the retelling, I realize my logic was flawed, but at that time I'm sure any thought process that resulted in escaping the needle seemed rational.

In your mind great moments like that last forever, but unfortunately, not in real life.  This was one of my first hard lessons in the fact you are responsible for your actions.  The next morning Ralph and I were called into the principal"s office.  The walk from the classroom to the office equaled the feelings of yesterday's death march.  The principal, who we feared even more than the black-clothed physician, explained,  in a not so tenderly fashion,  we were to be escorted back to the municipal building for our inoculations.  The indignity of being called out in front of my peers; the tongue-lashing from the teacher and principal; the rage of my parents as well as the shot itself should have taught me the value of conformity.  I should have learned going along with the crowd is easier than being the salmon bucking the stream.  I should have but I didn't.

At the age of 16, I was walking home with my visiting nephew and suddenly passed out.  I didn't wake up for two days.  Our family doctor suggested I see a neurologist.   My brother Bob, twenty-two years my senior, had a friend who was a neurologist and naturally took me to him.  Actually Bob was one of a duo of half-brothers.  Our mother had married twice.  I was about three when I learned of this family situation.  At that time both brothers were engaged in an epic battle entitled WWII and I had yet to lay eyes on them.  When my mother explained they were half-brothers, I wondered if they were real short or real skinny.  Glorious is the mind of a three-year-old.

Once Bob succeeded in dragging me into his buddy's office, the friendly doctor had me lay on a table to prepare for an electroencephalogram commonly known as an EEG.  Today the contacts applied to your pate for this test are sticky patches, but not back then.  Oh no, back then the contacts were short NEEDLES.  I laid there enduring the pain of having, I'm sure, at least 12,000 needles plunged into my scalp.  Then the neurologist had the audacity to tell me to relax and go to sleep.  The only thing that kept me from leaping off the table and doing as much bodily harm as possible to my brother's golf partner was the thought of 12,000 needles tearing out of my head.

With pleading eyes, I looked over at Bob.  I thought by the look on his face he completely sympathized with my situation.  His gaze left me when he turned to his friend and asked, "Jeez, Doc, have you got any booze in the joint?"  I never loved my brother more.  He was going to let alcohol subdue my fear and pain.  What a wonderful gesture - this was the thing brotherly love was made of.

The doctor poured a shot of Scotch and handed it to Bob.  In my heart I knew the good doctor was wise enough to realize the significance of having my brother give me the Scotch instead of himself.  This was like the cavalry coming to the rescue.  This gesture would only enhance the strong bond between brothers.  Bob took the liquid offering from his friend, but instead of approaching me, he immediately gulped it down.  Now, with a look of contentment, he ordered the test to begin.  So much for "you are your brother's keeper."

My fear of shots lessened as I reached adulthood and lasted until my first business trip to the Orient.  In preparation for this long anticipated venture, I had to undergo a series of shots for about every imaginable disease known to mankind.  I had so many holes punched into me I was afraid to drink anything in public worried that I'd leak on anyone nearby.  I'm not sure, but I believe the yellow fever shot was the one that made me so sick I missed a couple of days at work.  This experience heightened my fear of shots back to its original level.

Since my physical condition has been far less than perfect much of my life, I have spent an inordinate amount of time in ambulances, doctor's offices, clinics and hospitals.  I've endured plunging needles in about every part of my body.  Testing my blood has become as popular as homemade apple pie.  So, have I become more accustomed to the needle?  Yes.  Do I fear it any less?  No.  So goes it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

My first grandson's first day

My Gal Friday and I were sitting here discussing possibilities for Christmas and New Years.  Trying to decide on gifts for my four grandchildren, I drifted off into reverie. (I drift off quite often these days.) I recalled the day my first grandson, Andrew Edward (Drew)  was born.  My oldest daughter, Dani, had earlier medical problems and everyone experienced tremendous anxiety regarding the birth of Drew.  But God granted us a most wonderful blessing and Drew was delivered unscathed.

Dani wanted to give birth on my birthday, but the the Ultimate Power had other plans and the baby came into our world a week later.  This is probably a good thing because I know he would always get more birthday attention than me...he's much cuter and nicer too.

Being a normal (I better tread lightly here cause nobody else ever referred to me as normal) grandfather, I think Dani's two sons, Drew and Josh, and my younger daughter Kristy's two girls, Maddie and Elena are all the best grandkids ever.  However, at that particular time, I was dwelling on Drew.

Drew is a smart, handsome, athletic, well mannered and compassionate kid who possesses a great sence of humor.  He is pretty much the complete opposite of me, for which the rest of the world celebrates.  My daughter and son-in-law diligently try to block my attempts to be near the boy in hopes of my not influencing him in any way.  They are too late.  You see when my wife died years ago, Dani took me in and I had daily interaction with Josh and Drew.  I'm not saying I warped thes kids, but my daughter might.  My negative influence surfaced on Thanksgiving Day when Drew was four years old.  Dani had prepared a sumptuous feast for twenty some and asked me to draft and deliver a special blessing in poem form.  I composed a beautiful (my opinion only) melodic verse regarding a sincere thankfulness for family and friends, as well as the food.  As I spoke in my best oratorial tone, everyone pretended to give their utmost attention.  I felt I had captured the audience like E.F. Hutton.  As I flooded the room with my resplendent poetry, a serene quiet wafted throughout and by the time I finished, a peaceful silence was all to be heard.  I didn't know if my words really proved to be some kind of an epiphany or they just put everyone to sleep.

This reverent hush was suddenly broken by four year old Drew shouting, "Hey everyone, let's sing the Fireman's Band."  The "Fireman's Band" is a drinking song I taught the boys.  Back in the early 70's I began a family tradition....when drunken friends and family gather, we tune up and call people in the wee morning hours to wake them to the slurring sounds of this lyrical ballad.  Well, I thought Drew's suggestion a hoot, but my daughter did not share my amusement.  I was sent to the children's table and served cold turkey.

But, as usual, I digress.  Let's get back to Drew's first day.  Here is a poem I composed for him right after I first layed eyes on this beautiful baby.  When he's older, it may mean something.

Excitement, joy, love and a little fear too
Were present and eager to greet baby Drew
Mom and Dad, of course, were as proud as can be
Their souls bursting forth with unbridled glee

Your three Grandmas were there with kisses and coos
Couldn’t wait to see friends and spread the good news
They all tenderly held you with both pride and care
With a wellspring of love they wanted to share

Uncle Dave and Aunt Kristy had come a long way
To share in the happiness of your very first day
Your Uncle Dave was elated and envious some
Cause you were a reminder of things yet to come

Aunt Kristy was ecstatic and tears of joy
Trickled down her cheeks for her sister’s boy
She harbored fears about your Mom’s possible grief
So some of these tears were cries of relief.

You see Mom had suffered past losses before
So you were extra special and meant even more
To all of us there in that hospital room
You symbolized bright promise, not future gloom

When I entered the room, and to my daughter’s side
She was holding you and an aura of pride
Surrounded you both, it was amazing to see
Then she softly whispered “Oh look Daddy”

I bent to kiss her your hand touched my face
Your fingers so long and full of new grace
My lips touched hers and you gently touched me
The circle of love began for us three.

The love for my daughter flowed through to you
And I know you experienced that feeling too
Cause when I kissed her with you at her side
Your little lips smiled and your eyes opened wide

Here is my solemn promise to Drew
From heaven or earth, I’ll always love you
And every time Mommy reads you this part
My love for you will be felt in your heart

Grandpa Conte….4/23/2002

Friday, December 3, 2010

House Design

My Gal Friday and I are planning on building a new home and have contracted with a residential design/builder for this project.  This gentleman and his wife, who is also an intricate part of the business, are sincerely trying to help us design a truly wheelchair accessible home.  This is not an easy task and especially when strapped with our meager budget.

Gal Friday and I, in a state of grandiose confusion, decided to live out our remaining years in a small bungalow at the water's edge in some warm climate where we could sit holding hands blissfully staring out at an idyllic sunset like a couple in an ad for erectile dysfunction.  This decision probably reflects some degree of dimentia onset.  

So we began our search for the building lot.  We looked at waterfront  property in Tenneesee, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida before settling on a spot in North Carolina on the Albemarle Sound.   The lot is not that big, but gigantic in price.  I opted for a larger lot, which was much cheaper, but Gal Friday refused to live in the nearby Great Dismal Swamp.  I tried to convince her the mosquitos aren't that big, but she was more concerned about snakes and alligators. 

Have you checked out the prices people are asking for waterfront property lately?  We paid more for this postal stamp size lot than three generations of my family's combined earnings.  This didn't leave us enough money for a double wide, much less a house.  But undeterred, we plodded on.

We are very involved in the design phase of our "dream house."  At the way the costs are escalating, it will be just that--a dream.  Shock is my reaction to what I'm learning about how much this wheelchair accessibility adds to the cost of a home.  Hallways and doors have to be wider.  Threshholds have to be lower which means longer eaves to protect the interior from water damage.  Bathrooms require space for turning and the addition of grab bars, higher toilets and other special equipment drives up the cost dramatically.  To incorporate all these specialties, the square footage keeps rising and the cost per square foot climbs right along with it.  And how about insurance?  It's a frantic race to see who can set the highest price among the agents selling builders's insurance,  flood insurance and homeowner's insurance.  By the time we're finished I figure we will spend more on our bungalow than Citizen Kane spent on Xanadu.

So now we're looking to cut back.  There goes my endless pool for exercising.  Goodbye elevator-I really don't need to go upstairs to read to my grandchildren.  I'm having a hard time erasing the bonus room over the garage, where I envisioned a game room, off the printed plan.  The boat dock is sinking, much less the boat.  Hmm...can we give up our vehicles?   Gal Friday could ride on my lap in my wheelchair.  I can't seem to muster up enough courage to discuss this with her.  Soon we'll be entertaing the thought of eliminating the whole second floor.  Our guests can tent on the grass, but then, who really needs grass?  I wonder if the Architectual Review Committee allows trailers.  That double wide is looking better each day.