Every so often, the times arise to have what I call a “50,000-mile check-up performed.” It’s not much fun, but the process is necessary. For some reason, I always expect bad news from the doctors whom I see. That makes for a few rough days on the nerves. 
Most of the children of my era spent a majority of our time outside. We played from morning until evening and rarely went inside unless parents forced us to do so. Fast forward to now, and dermatologists’ offices are filled with us older folks. We’re having check-ups for damaged skin that spent years exposed to the sun. Sun tan lotion was used at pools sometimes or if a family vacationed at the beach. Otherwise, kids suffered through that first sunburn of the season, and then tanned as the summer went along.  
Now, we have pre-cancerous spots that must be monitored. I’ve used creams that peeled the skin off my face, and it led to painful cracks in places. On another occasion, I stuck my head inside something that resembled a toaster oven. After 16 minutes, the process was over, but the healing process lasted for several days. Most of the time, I choose freezing places. Thlast visit ended with 24 such spots being frozen.  
After a trip to the dermatologist, I scheduled a visit with a gastrointestinal physician. He recommended an endoscopy, as well as a colonoscopy. Of course, both procedures aren’t that bad because the patient is asleep. The preparation is the painful thing. I swigged down both bottles of a mixture of oil, salt, and
lemon, or that’s what the concoction tasted like. They were topped off with oceans of water, and before long, the“fun” began. The second round had to be started at 4:00 a.m. To have that much entertainment, I was required to pay a chunk of money for the product. The day after found me a bit lethargic, either from the anesthetic or the procedure or the preparation.  
In a couple of weeks, I have an appointment with the optician. My eyes don’t seem to see as well as they did only a year or so ago. Maybe my glasses are cockeyed, or maybe
things are changing at a much faster pace these days. Either way, I’ll have my eyes dilated, I’ll read charts, I’ll sit as lights blind me, and then I’ll discover if a new pair of glasses must be purchased.  
At the end of the year, I’ll travel to my family doctor for a physical. Doctor Cathy Mathes is the best, but I still don’t look forward to the visit. Neither am I a fan of having blood drawn or leaving a sample in a small cup. Aches and pains multiply over time, but I hate whining about them every year. Dr. Mathes is a saint to listen to me, along with all the other older patients, as we name every symptom that hits us.  
So far, I’ve received good reports from all tests that have been performed. It appears that I am good to go for another year or two. That’s good news. Amy and I would like to take a few trips and enjoy a few places around home in the years to come. I don’t know what tomorrow brings, but I do know that right now this old body is still working pretty well, even with hitches in my “giddy up.” I’m not “purring like a kitten,” but my motor hasn’t blown a head gasket yet. 


I admit it. I’m addicted to coverage of the political drama that is playing out on the cable networks. No, I’m not a fan of the president, but rest assured that neither am I a fan of those Democrats like Warren and Sanders. I’m more of a middle-of-the-road guy who eschews the calls from either extreme wing. With that said, the constant airing of information about the fights between parties draws me in. It’s not the first time such a situation has captured me.  

On January 8, 1973, the Watergate Hearings began. I was in college and too busy to spend much time keeping up with events. That changed on July 23, when President Nixon refused to turn over taped conversations. I was sucked into the coverage and spent as much time as possible watching the televised hearings.  
At the time, I was working a summer job with a construction contractor. He sent me to a house in West Hills where my job was to use a steamer to strip several layers of wallpaper from kitchen walls. On one counter sat a small television. For days, many more than were required for the job, I pulled paper, scalded my forearms with water droplets from the steam, and watched such notable personalities as Sam Ervin, Howard Baker, and Fred Thompson uphold the laws of our country and expose the corruption of the Nixon White House. In the end, I sadly watched Nixon resign from the office and even felt a bit of pity for the man as he waved “V’s” to the crowd before boarding the helicopter that would take him off to infamy.  
All too soon, the country returned to impeachment inquiriesBill Clinton, a brilliant politician with a weakness for women, was in trouble for his actions with Monica Lewinsky. Although these indiscretions didn’t lead to an impeachment trial, charges of perjury and obstruction of justice did him in. He remained president when the Senate failed to vote to remove him from office.  
I watched the hearings on a limited basis since I was teaching school at the time. I worried what another ouster of a president would do to our country. In disbelief, I watched as Clinton verbally sparred with investigators and hedged answering a question with that infamous line: “It depends on what the meaning of the word “is” is.” Anyone listening knew that the man was playing games to try to save his skin. He survived the process but has since carried a rather unwanted reputation. 
We’re back at it. President Trump is now the subject of an impeachment inquiry. Information has come to the forefront just in the last couple of weeks that paints the actions of the present administration in a dim light.  
I’m engrossed in the entire thing. The newest information centers around a phone call. It also has tentacles that ensnare the Secretary of State and the Attorney General of the Department
of Justice, and the president’s personal attorney. The president sets off
a tweet storm that includes plenty of name-calling and half-truths or lies. We citizens are stuck in the middle to watch the impeachment exercise play out. I suspect that the coming days will produce facts that will seal the fate one way or the other. 
I’ll watch this debacle until the end. The best outcome will be one that restores the U.S. to its former glory and place in the world. The individuals that loses this debate will retreat to lick their wounds and figure out what went wrong. The truth of the matter is that folks like me who have lived through 3 of the 4 impeachment proceedings are ready for honest, patriotic, qualified leaders in all branches of government. 


A few weekends ago, I traveled with my brother and two high school friends to play in a golf tournament. It was held by a church that another high school friend pastors, and we’ve tried to support the man and his cause for the last few years.  
The course is located in the mountains in Lafollette, and the drive there is as twisty and curvy as a road through the Smoky Mountains. By the time we’d registered, eaten lunch and loaded our carts, the day was half gone. Sometime around 7:00 p.m. I arrived home. The day was long, our golf games were mediocre, and old aches and pains resurfaced. What was best about the day was the time spent with friends.  
What we realized about half-way through the day was that the four of us have changed our topics of conversation. In high school, our conversations were varied. Because we were in band, much of the time we
discussed the trips we would take to competitions or ball games. That included who we would sit with (female), and what we might try to get away with. We also worked out how in the world we were going to sell our quota of socks and wrapping paper, items used in fundraising campaigns.  
Like most teen-aged boys, we had our discussions of weekend plans. Before dating became a real thing in our lives, we found our fun by “running around” with groups of boys. We had a standard plan for each weekend outing. It included, shooting pool at the bowling alley or skating at the rink at the edge of the county. We also laid plans for fights that might break out and how we’d help each other. For most of us, those brawls were limited, but we talked about them as if they occurred every time we stepped foot outside. Of course, a few guys actually did participate in fighting as if it were a sport. They planned their strategy for where they would meet, whom they would fight, and when they would leave. 
Another big topic included alcohol. Individuals had fake identifications that were accepted by most liquor stores and beer sellers. We’d talk about what we’d buy, who had the money, and who would make the

purchases. Many were the nights we engaged in half-drunken babble and bravado as the effects of that illegal liquid coursed through our bodies.
The subject of girls also arose. Hormone-driven teens were constantly talking about females to whom they were attracted and how much they wanted to go out with them. We exchanged ideas of the best places to go on dates and the best places to “park.” We knew in our hearts that the discussions were more dreams than realities, but they continued.  
Fifty years later, our topics of conversation have changed. These days, guys exchange tales of doctor visits. We discuss how much joints ache and how we dread the next procedure that encompasses drinking some kind of goop that will keep us trapped at home for hours. All are quick to share experiences with maladies that others might be experiencing.  

Politics is also a major conversation area. We don’t necessarily agree with others, but our debates are always civil. Each side can’t understand the other’s rationale for their beliefs, and on occasion, one person will try to convince an adversary to swap sides. It doesn’t happen.  
No conversation is ever complete without spending a few minutes wondering what the world is coming to. It’s the same story for every generation; our concerns now are that young folks don’t know how to work hard and that they spend too much time playing video games instead of games outside.  
I remember my grandparents and the conversations they had. Surprisingly, they were similar to those my friends and I have now. The realization that we’ve become like the people we considered old and boring is upsetting. I suppose that aging automatically brings about changes in conversation topics. Before any young person laughs, let me assure you that your time is coming. Before you can blink your eyes, you’ll be complaining about aches and pains and young people. It’s the natural course of events.  


Well, summer is officially over; at least that’s what those “in the know” say. Last century (It sounds so funny to say that), summer fun came to an end the Tuesday after Labor Day when schools opened their doors. However, this year, children sat in classrooms the first week of August. By the time the national holiday rolled around, they and their teachers were begging for a day off.  
I fight the end of summer harder than anyone. The mower still cuts the grass, even though the lawn is beginning to look tired and just a bit brown. That happens to Bermuda grass when the season is over. I ignore as much as possible the leaves that have fallen from the trees. Instead, I convince myself that some strong winds that accompanied a thunderstorm ripped them from their branches; those that litter my yard are still green and filled with life.  
Tennessee football must have forgotten that fall was moved up. At least their opening performances seemed to suggest that the games against inferior foes had been forgotten and that “It’s football time in Tennessee”. Oh, and Mother Nature decided that she’d make an already miserable situation even worse by throwing temperatures in the 90’s and a scalding sun at fans sitting on aluminum seats. Dejected folks left the stadium, stunned, disappointed, and sunburned. It wasn’t a good combination for the Vol Nation.  
Public pools close after Labor Day. I heard on the news that even Dollywood Splash Country was closed for business on the Tuesday after the holiday. My pool is still opened and will stay that way until the end of
September or later. Sure, the water slowly gets colder as the month wears on, but I made a promise to myself when we put the thing in several years ago. As long as the temperatures don’t fall lower than mountain streams, I’ll be in water every day that doesn’t have a storm. One of the saddest times in our household is when the cover goes over the water. To us, that’s the end of summer.  
I also fight changes in wardrobes at the end of summer. From the end of March until the first hint of frost on the ground, I live in shorts, t-shirts, and tennis shoes. A bathing suit and flip-flops makup my alternative wardrobe. The only time a pair of slacks or jeans leave the hangers in my closet is when I go to church, attend a funeral, or eat at a nice restaurant. Long-sleeved shirts and pants strangle my body and feel so uncomfortable after all those months of freedom.  
By now, I’ve indirectly announced that I hate cold weather. The days are short, the nights are long, and the weather is raw. I feel trapped inside and unable to freely go about completing projects as I do during warm weather months. I know the end is near, but trust me; I’ll keep fighting for every moment of warm sun and pleasure that comes until the frozen-solid ground and freezing temperatures win the battle.