Thursday, May 30, 2019

What single event - with a different result -would have caused the most changes in your life?

In all our lives there are events that have a major impact on the directions our lives take.  In mine there are 2 that happened within 5 years of each other that changed everything about my life. The first one is discussed here, and be sure to visit Ramana's Musings to see Ramana's take.

When I was 3-1/2 years old my grandfather died. The significance is that my mother and I lived in the house he built in Pueblo, Colorado with my grandparents. My grandfather was a true outdoors man that hunted, fished and camped whenever possible. He owned his own construction business as an excavation contractor.

Had he not passed I would have been groomed in his business and I would have become a typical outdoors man. My grandfather's hunting buddy was a Taos Indian Chief. The Taos Indians were Anasazi. I would have had extensive contact with those indigenous people - something that never happened when my grandfather passed. 

My grandma used to tell me how close my grandfather and I were - interesting considering my age. I actually called him daddy Harry. He  took me fishing and one trip I remember sitting on his tractor wondering if there were any mountain lions watching me.

Another difference is I would have been a member of the Masonic Order known as the Shriners. Most of the male Higgins family members were Shriners. The females were members of the Eastern Star.

So how would that have changed my life? Had my grandfather lived, there is little likelihood my grandparents would have rented the basement to local JC athletes, which means my mother probably would never have met my step father, married him and moved to California. No California, no Lynn and no family - at least not the one I have spent 70 years with. I would have graduated from Pueblo Central High School,  my mother's  alma mater. I would  have probably still been active in football and baseball but not wrestling as I was recruited to that team by the coach.

It's funny how many things have to align for events in our lives. Take meeting Lynn - she was at the party with her friend Sharon, both were home from BYU for Christmas. Sharon had a holiday job at Loards Ice Cream in Alameda. My friend Rick Smith's dad was part of the management team at Loards. He got his friend John Dailey a job. John was driving the delivery truck and met Sharon. John - realizing what a "hero" he'd be by bringing a new girl to the party invited Sharon who in turn asked if she could bring Lynn along. Now John could be an even bigger hero - LOL, and of course said sure.You can read the full tale of that meeting here.

I have stated many times in the past, life is about changes and how we deal with them.  Look at any major event in your life and examine the myriad conditions that had to align for the outcome achieved. Life is really a giant domino fall.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Voluntary Work

We all like to think we are good citizens, don't we? What makes us good citizens? Among the list of things that make  good citizens is Voluntary Work - Ramana chose  for this weeks 2-on-1 blog. Be sure to check Ramana's Musings for his take on his chosen subject.

I doubt it will surprise any of my regular readers to hear that my voluntary work was centered around youth sports. I was  very active in several - Little League Baseball, Miss Softball America and youth soccer.

In Little League Baseball I coached a minor league boys team called The Panthers. These were kids either very new to the game of baseball or just plain not very good at the game. This was clearly an in it for fun group and we managed to have a lot of fun. We managed to beat the eventual league champs both times we played them along the way. It was fun teaching baseball but more fun watching the kids have a good time. Their age group was 9-12.  I was also tasked with umpiring both minor league and Major League (the good teams) - and the league had adopted a uniform rule - all umpires were called "Blue" after the traditional colors warn by umpires. Oops - Panther colors were red and white so folks  were addressing a guy dressed in red "blue". They got over it.

n occasion I umpired a game of my brother's team - the Senators (also the Major League team I played on many years before. The Senators were the league big shots - prior to each game they played their team song , a little ditty by the Beatles.
 That tells you the age range of the parents and coaches. The players age range was again 9-12.

Lynn and I joined forces to coach my sister's  MSA softball team - the age range of the team being 16-18. These kids were excellent and won the league championship and several games in the state playoffs before finally losing. Gotta admit that without Lynn being there to translate and deal with the other issues confronting 16-18 year old girls, I would have been a fish out of water. But we had great fun - winning helps.

I spent most of my volunteer time in youth soccer in the Hayward Youth Soccer League (HYSL). I coached boys and girls house teams and was a league VP. I computerized as many functions as possible, The absolute  most fun thing, though, was coaching the girls under 8 team called Moby Grape.Our banner was a big white whale on a purple background the kids and parents saw at the first practice. Yes we had a team song
While the song was playing the kids looked around with puzzled looks on their faces while the parents laughed and cheered. I knew my audience - LOL. I also laid down the law - my way or the highway. We were here to have fun. Period. Any parent that viewed themselves as the second coming of Pele could request a transfer now to another team of bite their tongue and talk to me in private. I promised to teach the kids to compete hard and  have fun. I was not going to train soccer champs - but promised to offer genuine evaluations of the kids if the parents wanted them (in private) to help guide
their future in the league.

Soccer here is broken down into  3 levels of competition - or it was back then. There are House teams, Advanced House teams and Select teams. Advanced House and Select were very serious about the game and winning mattered. Some parents had issues with that -  the kids not so much. I also coached under 8 boys and under 16 girls house teams. My son was excellent and so he jumped up to Select his second year. To this day he is mad that I did not coach him more than one year. The kid  was at home playing soccer with European and Hispanic kids that were born with a soccer ball on their foot.

The diversity of the parents and kids involved in the HYSL was amazing.  While there were occasionally some tensions between groups by in large it was a smooth running  operation.

That concludes my take on this week's topic. My volunteer record is not the most robust, but I spent most of my life working 6 days a week.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


It is normal to have some things you have done in the course of  your life to regret. In fact, I would go as far as to say anyone who claims to have no regrets is simply a liar. But, to live a life filled with nothing  but regret is absolutely not a way to live either. In fact, trapping yourself in the past with regret and fear of the future is a sure fire formula for failure.

You'll never regret being kind so make being kind a habit - you'll find that is a good life plan to follow. If nothing else,  it is a good  formula for the rest of your life. Rather than regretting every questionable decision you make, put it in the experience column of the spreadsheet of your life. Make it a learning experience and try to not repeat the mistake again.

Had a bad breakup? Move on. I have found this song to be helpful a couple of times when things didn't work out in a relationship.

 I have been a John Denver fan since I first  heard this next song about an epiphany  a man has when he fist recognizes the beauty  and grace of nature in the rocky mountains. 

lived near them for the first 10 years of my life and the first time I heard this song I was sure John had written it for me.

It is normal to have  some regrets in life, just do not let them control you or weigh you down, Chalk them up to experience and try not to repeat them. There is plenty of good in this crazy world - even in these trying times. 

 That's my quick shack take on regret.  Don't live a life of regret - file the regrets away as experiences that helped make you the person you are and keep moving forward one step at a time. I must confess - my biggest   recurring regret is to not keep my weight under better control. Make that  control - anything would be better, alas, it remains to this day an issue. That itself is part of the reason I have carried the dumb jock persona intermingled with the jolly giant persona all these years.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings to see what Ramana has to say. See ya next week, same bat time, same bat channel for another 2-on-1  blog where Ramana and I tackle the same topic to give you different takes on the subject.

Thursday, May 9, 2019


The Shadow of Me

It was a long time ago, in another age
Where the shifting of the wind
Knew where I began
A place so far away, 
Somewhere distant, in childhood country
Before the fog had set in,
Before time lost all trace of me

Where have they gone?
Those merry dancers with whom I played?
When we were queens of the carnival, kings of the parade?
Before being dethroned to mid-life corners
Hearing the music, without playing the drums
They tell me to take this age with grace
Yet everywhere I turn, is young

I'm still the same, I have not changed
I lived a time where love was wild and thoughts were too
With high regard, when eyes were glued
Now inside I'm torn in two...the old and the new
Trapped between this nowhere place
Myself and someone else
Until each barrier becomes a bridge...
Have I been shaped too square by passing years, to fit in circle's place?

My memory recalls those beautiful tomorrows
Now long buried in yesterday's ground
There are other ways to measure time
Besides growing older and graying hair
Recorded music fills the room
Left playing from an earlier time
When October skies showed fading traces
Of empty days and sad old faces
The "others" of whom I had no fear

Now those shadowed remnants from my past
Are stalking at my heels
Will somebody care to ask?   Will anyone need my mind?
Is there something they want to tell me?
Will they patronize, or just be kind?

Care enough, make me useful, give me value, call me beautiful?....
Not yet the age I'll someday be
Still, I feel the sting of losing me
How I ache for all those love songs
How I ache for someone needing, someone pleading...
For advice....for my worth, for an answer, will they want me?
How it haunts me.....Will they see me?
Touching me....reminding me of who I am................not just who I was... 
Carrie Richards 

Do you live in someday? Someday I'll start that business,.
Someday I'll lose those extra 20 pounds. Someday I'll write that novel. 

Time is endless but as you circle the drain it dawns on you. The water is
running out. Time may go on forever, but we don't. Someday is today. Live for today -
That's my  quick  shack tale on someday - be sure to checkRamana's Musings. 

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Unpleasant Encounters

I am sure we have all had an unpleasant encounter or two in the course of our lives. I have been in the unique position of being the unpleasant encounter for many people in a two year stretch of my life when I worked for a financial service company. What, you might ask, did I do? I  The territory was essentially the entire country, and I repossessed mobile homes. In the vernacular of the industry, I popped coaches. It was an interesting couple of years.

My company serviced mobile home loans for a number of banks, savings and loans and insurance companies. There were loans all over the country but most of my work was in Florida, Colorado, Arizona and California. Each month the lenders sent me the delinquent accounts and I worked them to bring them current or took possession of the coach - aka popped the coach, I was a much better than average bill collector - I have a booming voice, Alas,  sometimes things went completely south. The last week of every month was hit the road time. I'd gather up my paperwork and bid Lynn and our cat a fond adieu and off I'd go on a coach popping tour.  Ii would inspect and pop as many as 30 mobile homes.

Typically, the coaches were empty when I hit the road. I was always very reasonable about letting families clear out before I  knocked on the door - it was embarrassing enough for families losing their homes, No need to make it worse. At this point I should interject that when I first took this job my friends literally laughed their collective asses off - I am rather large, At the time I was 6'2" and about 290. They were all picturing me literally chaining up and yanking these home off the property. e all had a good laugh.

One trip to the north was more interesting than usual- I had scheduled visits as far north as Eureka and as far south as Santa Rosa.  One of my stops was in a little berg just north of Santa Rosa and it was not in a mobile home park, it was on private land,  By the time I found the place, the day was pretty well shot (no GPS back then). I drove up the winding driveway, encountering various goats and cows with the occasional chicken running around. The man I saw made me immediately think of Deliverance. I asked him why he had not vacated the place and he indicated he wanted to take care of the matter.I asked how he intended to do that and he yelled out a woman's name. We looked up at the run-down blue trailer and the door opened. Out stepped what I assume was his wife, buck naked. She was ready to work out a trade - sex for more time. This was in the seventies - free love and all. Now I must admit - if the woman approaching me had looked at all like Natalie Wood I might have hesitated but this lady looked like what I pictured a female sasquatch just might look like - or perhaps Ma Kettle It did not take long for the pair to realize they were going to have to leave and give up their place. I gave them two days - long enough for me to go to Ukiah and hit several accounts, and I'd come back and inspect their trailer then. They agreed, called me a few names and I watched them flip me off in the rear-view mirror as I exited the property.  I drove about 30 miles and booked a room at the local notel  motel. After a diner dinner I went back to ,my room to watch some TV. The lead news story was of a tragic fire that had burned down the trailer of a local couple. Clearly they did not take my turn down of their offer very well. They simply torched the place. The paperwork was much simpler than usual as well.

On one Southern California trip I actually  popped a really nice coach. The place was actually horse training facility run by a very nice, pretty deaf lady. While inspecting the coach I stumbled across her stash of letters to and from the ex chronicling the rise and fall of a relationship and a business. It was quite sad and frankly the reason I left that business.  Suddenly I decided how I made my living required a higher standard.

Call it Karma - several years later I was forced to appear in court when the company I worked for was sued by their primary insurance carrier. Being on the stand in a civil trial was not as much fun as it appears on television. In the end, the carrier won several hundred thousand dollars from my former boss. I got a nice dinner with the carrier's IT manager.

That brings my tales of unpleasant encounters encounters to an end. There were others but honestly my life as not been filled with unpleasant encounters. While not the life I had planned, it has turned out to be interesting and full of characters with some adventure folded in to keep it interesting. When I lived in Hawaii I used to sit on my Suzuki 550 waiting for the light to changeat the intersection where the statue of King Kamehameha rules the roost, and simply be amazed I was there.

Be sure to check Ramana's Musings .