Tuesday, December 1, 2015

New Addition to this Home

Life sure takes turns. This wallpaper nightmare has so consumed my everyday existence. I have to admit I have been taking my time with this. Years past I would have had this job cranked out in no time.
It was late Sunday afternoon my neighbor Christy stopped by. She is a wonderful woman who works with the feral cats in the neighborhood. Her group traps these cats and then has the females fixed to help keep the population in check. Christy was heart broken when I lost Stumpy and Kitty Belle. She understood as to why I was holding back on letting another cat into my life till after the trip in January.
Christy was on her way home after feeding the feral cats. She told me of a Tortoiseshell cat just six doors down from me she has been looking over. This cat lived under a student rental house. The students already had two cats and were unable to care for another. The students called this cat “Patches”. Christie related how this cat is so loving and friendly and it broke her heart to think with the cold nasty weather coming this cat would have to fend for herself. She also added the finishing touch how she would stop by every day of my trip to love this girl down and feed her if I decided to bring her into my life. That did it!
The ice around my heart melted. This house has really been lonely with Stumpy and Kittybelle gone. Monday around 4:00 p.m. Christy was at my house with this cat. We let her out of the carrier in the “wallpaper room” to let her get acquainted a bit with being indoors. She came right to me for pets and loves. She was purring a mile a minute with her whiskers fanned out, which means. “I feel safe and secure” in cat language.
This little cat passed her feline leukemia test, so she has a pretty clean bill of health. She has her ear clipped which is a sign she is feral and she has been fixed. She appears to be pretty young. In a few weeks I’ll get her to my vet for her shots. No outside for this cat for quite a while. I want to acclimate her to this house so she knows she has a home. I knew she was at home when I discovered her asleep on the back sofa cushion. Every cat that has ever owned me has made those back cushions “home”.
I need to find a name for this little cat. I’m sorry, but I can’t call her “Patches” as it brings to mind that horrible, morbid song from the 1960’s of teen love, angst, and suicide. My sister suggested “Holly” because it is around XMAS… I’ve slipped a number of times in calling her “Daggy” as she is so like my old girl.
Christy called last night about 8:30 to see how we were getting on. I had to laugh when I related we were both lying in the bed watching the “Beverly Hillbillies” on the Youtubes! Some things never change. A dialogue between me and Ron from nearly 30 years ago plays on an endless loop in my mind:
1:00 a.m. a long time ago.
Ron: Jimmy, get to bed now!
Jamie: In a minute Ron, Honey (Ron’s old tabby cat) wants to watch the rest of “Mr Ed”.
Ron: (With extreme exasperation in his voice) Jimmy, Honey does NOT want to watch “Mr. Ed”, get to bed NOW!!!!
It was like old times to have a cat jumping in and out of bed all night long. As I type this out, my new kitty stops for bits and pieces, then continues on her expedition of exploring her new home. Just as I’m going;pl[[[[[[[[[[[[.;llllllllll to save this entry my kitty has returned and I can hear her purring....( she just jumped up on my lap and keyboard!) Life is good…

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving Entry from the old Open Diary site from 2010

I’ll be heading out on the road for a Thanksgiving journey for the first time in many years. Road trips at Thanksgiving wore me out back in 1996 & 1997 when I was commuting between Lockport, NY and Tuscaloosa, AL. I was not keeping a journal at that time of my life. However, the events of the trips are burned into my memory.
I was stacking aluminum radiator cores in Building 7 on the day shift the day before Thanksgiving 1996. This was a rate job I was very good at. My partner in sharing the center machine was Karen. She taught me how to stack and she was fast. Once we started work for the day we tried to keep the machine which made up our air centers running all the time. Starting the center machine from a dead stop would increase the chance of jam ups and down time. When our parts table would fill up, an electric eye would get covered cancelling out parts being sent. If my eye would get covered Karen would then get all the parts. She would yell.. “JIMMY my table is filling up!~!!!” That would always light a fire under my butt!!
Stacking was a rate job. I had made extra parts earlier in the week I did not record so I would give a legal count for my weeks work when I left early. This day I worked through my morning breaks and was able to get my count out just into my lunch. Karen promised to put my finished parts on the line, and record my count so I could head out on the road early. I ran out of that place to my truck and hightailed it to my house. The truck was packed with paving bricks and odds and ends.
I had moved most of my antiques south in October using a 17ft U-haul. Mom’s cat Fuzzie moved in with Chloe and me after her death in 1994. That October move was the trip my sisters found Fuzzie dead when they came to feed the cats. That was so horrible. There was no way I was going to leave Ron’s old cat Chloe behind this trip. From now on we would be travelling as a team. Chloe was startled when I scooped her up, plopped her into the cat carrier and carried her to the truck.
Chloe settled right in and travelled wonderfully. The traffic was as you would expect: Miserable. Naturally I hit Columbus, OH right around 5:00 p.m. I hate driving through this city. Rush hour makes it the worst. Cincinnati was not much better. I can still see in my mind the unbroken line of red taillights snaking into and through the metropolis.
Once I got over the river into Kentucky things calmed down a bit. I decided to stop for the night at what was then a Budget Host Motel in Erlanger, KY. I had stayed there before and knew there was not a problem with Chloe. Right next door was a White Castle. A BIG plus in my book.
Chloe was a trooper. She made herself right at home in her regal manor.

We got an early start Thanksgiving Day and had smooth sailing into Tuscaloosa. Chloe explored the new house. It met with her approval and she claimed a perch on top of boxes stacked up in what is now the back study.

Chloe made a number of similar trips the following year. She developed cancer: the Thanksgiving trip to Tuscaloosa in 1997 was her last. She was such a special cat. There was something mystical about her. When she would look into your eyes it was like she could see into your soul. Her ashes are in a tin in my front parlor. I have it in my will I’m to be cremated and our ashes are to be mixed together and spread off the Appalachian Trail.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Homage To Stumpy

My Vet and his assistant were in tears as Stumpy went to sleep. My Vet hates to euthanize, but even he agreed it was time when I explained the only food Stumpy had eaten in the past three days was some baby food licked off my finger. Stump had such a fast decline this week.
Stumpy was buried in two old heirloom pillow cases with tatted edges. One of his favourite spots to relax was next to the driveway where he would blend in and still be able to observe everything going on. Cornelius was right when he said, “Stumpy owns this neighborhood!” Stumpy’s final resting place is in that spot next to the driveway he “helped” me install.
Stumpy hard at work helping with the bricks August 2012:
The ground was hard but not impossible to dig for Stump’s grave. I had to take the carrier apart as his body had stiffend up, and I did not want to change anything by forcing him through the door. Doc arranged him so it was like he was curled up sleeping. This was one of the carriers Ron used to send his cats Honey and Sister from Rochester, NY to Houston Texas back in the fall of 1989. This was put in action after his death to ship Chloe to me in the fall of 1992. It has seen such service moving cats over the years.
Lifting my beautiful lifeless black cat out of the carrier base caused me to have my breakdown and cry my tears. I was alone and did not hold back. It was so cathartic to just let go. It was as if a huge weight of worry and apprehension had been lifted. I gave my boy last hugs and kisses, and covered him in the “pillowcase shroud”.
I plan on switching out one of the border bricks on the driveway here with an engraved brick signifying Stump’s final resting place. I can look out the side door from my bedroom as I work on the desktop, or the kitchen window when I have to set up the fan to blow out the cooking grease so not to set off the smoke alarm and see him.
Stumpy’s grave:
I know I have pictures of Stumpy sunning in this spot, but have been unable to turn them up. I really need to name those shots rather then trying to remember the dates they were downloaded to be able to find them via a search. The photos in my files must now number in the thousands.
I’m so sorry now I did not have a digital camera, or Open Diary when Daggy and Stumpy were kittens. What they put me through! I would not change it for the world. But, the world and Internet were so different 17 years ago. I can remember trying to stream radio on a dial-up AOL connection!
My friends here at Prosebox and Facebook have been such support to me. I honestly don’t think I could have pulled through without the encouraging and kind words of compassion. This type of interaction is what still makes such an impression on me on how the internets can so improve life and make a hard situation better.
Stumpy Daggy and I all had such a good life together. I relish the memories.
Putting these entries together has been so cathartic. I have been interacting with friends and am feeling much better.
Let me add a montage of pictures here for closure. Stumpy touched many lives all over the world. He truly was one special cat.
Stumpy and Daggy on the bed:
Trying out the new dresser:
On the truck:
Enjoying some steak:
In the early spring grass:
On the front porch:
Helping to shell pecans:
Waiting for the bus:
I could not find these photos on my photobucket account, so had to do up a fresh scan.
The top picture was from December 1998 showing Daggy and Stump as real pals. The bottom shot is just before Stump attacked! He looks more like a bear cub with that stump tail!
These photos bring back such happy memories… they are the best ones.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Working Against My Conscious

The fallout from the discrimination bill in Indiana is delicious. Some of the comments left on news blogs and sites are so ludicrous. The one phrase that is repeated over and over is to the tune of, “People should not have to work against their conscious.”
This had me thinking back nearly 35 years to the defining incident that forever altered my worldview in regards to my rights as a worker, and my attitude towards my employer.
To greatly simplify matters, I was in a position on the supply line to where I was forced to run my machine using out of spec parts which resulted in much frustration for myself and my coworkers. It also resulted in mountains of scrap.
This happened fairly early in my GM career when I was still in the “I want to make the best quality I can” phase. I was making waves to correct this situation through the UAW, Quality Control, and any outlet I could think of. Remember Sally Field when she was “Norma Ray” fighting against the bad factory system? I kind of related my battle to hers.
Being a watchmaker, perhaps I had more of an appreciation of quality than the average GM worker. To make substandard units and scrap really galled at me. I was eventually told by those in control that I was to work according to GM’s “Company policy on parts”: “Every part in the system has been inspected. Defective parts do not exist.”
I made a visit to the NYS Labor Relations Bureau in Buffalo on my own initiative to investigate if I might have some form of recourse. I was told by this labor lawyer that the GM parts policy broke no health or safety laws. If I was so upset over it all, perhaps I should quit.
I realized I had three options to work with.
  1. I could throw a righteous fit, quit my job, leave in style, and have the satisfaction I was right. No, that option was not open to me. Common sense told me I would never be able to replace the wages and benefits I was currently earning.
  2. I could keep trying to change the parts situation and maybe be successful. Again my common sense kicked in. The constant harassment from management, plus my being worked up all the time had me on the verge of developing an ulcer. Just going into work I was so agitated, my stomach was in constant turmoil, while my head was pounding.This situation consumed my life. I was not a happy person anymore. It would only be a matter of time before charges could be trumped up against me which would result my being fired. It took a bit, but I voted this as a “No”.
  3. I could work according to the GM policy on parts and let the cards fall where they may. I took door #3.
From then on I worked according to this policy on parts. It was hard for me to not care as I made pallet after pallet of defective units. The guys who handled this scrap were always bitching at me. I told them to complain to supervision to change things, I was just doing my job. I learned it how really liberating it was to not give a shit.
As time progressed it got easier and easier. I never inspected a part again. I gave up control of my body to GM for my allotted shift. They never would have my mind again. I learned to just laugh at the ridiculousness of the factory. My tension/stress level went from “off the charts” to “non-existent”,
My social life was built outside of the factory. This was the life whereby I found meaning and self worth. I always stayed on good terms with my co-workers, but they were never the fabric of my “inner circle” of friends. They were more in the category of “close acquaintances”.
So many of the principals of that influential “life drama” are dead now. I’m kind of sorry now I never took the opportunity to thank them. I went through Hell when it all was going on, but I emerged a stronger person who learned how to focus on living life to the fullest, and planning for retirement. The second I hit my “30 years and out” I was leaving.
In a round-a-bout way, it is those bastards I owe my present financial and health status to. Through them I learned what was important in life. Trust me; it was not making a perfect evaporator core. There have only been a few incidents since that time where I let GM get my blood pressure up. Usually I could keep things in check.
I was chatting years after that initial incident occurred with Charlie, an old foreman of mine who was involved in the management side of that “quality of parts mess”. The conversation ended as follows:
Charlie: Jim, remember when you were having that problem with bad parts on the clincher? You knew those parts were out of spec didn’t you?
Jamie: I learned my lesson Charlie. For as long as I work for this company, I will never, ever, question the integrity of any part within the system again.
The look on his face was priceless. It was a combination of deer in the headlights / horror. He could not leave fast enough.
I worked against my conscious in regards to quality, and money. God only knows the number of evaporator cores that failed in service due to those shitty parts, or how much those mountains of scrap eventually cost GM. GM did not give a “Rat’s Ass”: I learned neither should I.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Looking Back St. Patrick's Day 1990

My old journal was still out this morning. It is fun to reread what transpired so many years ago. I’m going to transcribe a memorable St Patrick’s Day from 1990.
Sunday March 17, 1990. 
Happy St Pat’s day!! Beautiful bright sunny warm day. Have big early breakfast. Don’t feel too bad! Get ambitious and wash the car. It was a mess. Looks so much better with 5 months of road grime off!! Went to West Ave and vacuumed it all out. Can’t wait till spring to do a real cleaning on it. Drive over to mom’s. Take her out for a ride to get Byes popcorn. Quite a line up and we were early! That place is really a gold mine. Came home the long way: Coomer Road and up Niagara St hill. You can feel spring in the air. Drop off mom and head home to get cleaned up. Get over to Joe’s. Tim and Daryl already over. Ride up with Joe and Gary. Daryl and Tim follow us. I make faces at them all the way up. Traffic into Canada is backed up all the way onto the Thruway. What a pain. Thank God we’re going against it. Got to Buddies and the lot next door was just emptying out. Were able to get a good parking space. Great crowd out. These women bitching because we kept bumping into the them getting drinks, they were right in the aisle, “We’re just going to get drinks, then blow this pop shop.” I tell them. Dennis out, Paul too.. big split again. Oh well…. Mike out acting very available. We are all wound up. Kevin shows up from Daryl’s Wally mess. He does not remember me. He used to hang on TC some nine years back when he was still chicken. Kept him guessing. Then told how I knew him. Years have not been kind to him. Marc was there. Had fun talking of the old Carol days. Rumor has it, that he has “it”. God, I hope not. Fixed up a buffet plate of corned beef and cabbage. Was starving. Food sure tasted good. The dance floor was opened up. It is really separated from the main bar. Perhaps it will work out. Peter joined our group. This guy at the bar kept staring at us for days. He was really hot after Gary. He almost broke his leg running to follow him to the bathroom. Tim and I started talking to him and filled him in on the marital status of everyone. Tried to get him to join us, but he kept saying he had to get home. Said he lived in Kenmore. I said, “Why go to that boring middle class suburb when you can have fun with us? Take off your coat!” That really scared him!! Carol O’Shaunessy was in for a show. She is so great, really like her. They were doing a benefit for Mercy Flight. Joe and Gary left early, poor Gary had to be into work early. I hung with Tim and Daryl. David showed up. He will have an earful to tell Richard.. HA! HA!! We left about 1:00. Glad Tim was the designated driver.
I apologize for the quality of the writing, but this was never meant to be polished or for any one’s eyes other than my own. One of these days I will really get to work and polish and flesh my journals out.
It is really hard for me to fathom these events transpired 25 years ago. I have lost track of so many of the people I recorded. Our paths diverged or on a sadder note they were victims of AIDS. There are so many colorful characters in my past that really deserve to be remembered. Rereading the basic outlines I recorded, these friends and people come back full of life. It is kind of like reliving the closing scene of the movie “Longtime Companion”.
As my life slows down, being able to look back on my past makes my current slower pace seem not so bad. I can see in perspective how it would be impossible to live the life I did in my 20’s and 30’s in my 60’s. I like to reflect how I’ve grown emotionally and spiritually. The frantic socializing of those formative years has paid off in a solid foundation of friends and extended family.


About Me

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Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States
Retired auto worker who can now spend too much time restoring his 1922 Bungalow Home. I'm involved in a number of varied activities from collecting bricks to rowing with a masters rowing group. This blog is to share different aspects of my life on my Facebook page. I've kept an on-line journal for eight years.