English as My Second Language

(Image: canva.com)

I originally wrote this in 2017 as part of a 60 days of gratitude exercise, forgot that I had, and wrote a completely new version in 2022. Whoops. This is now an amalgamation of the two, updated during a recent trip to The Netherlands, of course.

English is not my first language.

I love to tell people that for two reasons: it’s absolutely true, and most would never guess.

Naturally, there’s a story.

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My Better Half

I’ll indulge with a repeat on my sixty days of gratitude.

Because she deserves it. And more.

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Having An Audience

As I close in on the end of my sixty days of gratitude, one of the themes that’s become apparent is that many of the items I’ve identified are things we often take for granted.

I don’t want to take you for granted.

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Oma & Opa

“Oma & Opa” is Dutch for grandmother and grandfather. Pictured are my mother’s parents with us on their visit circa 1964.

I never met my father’s parents. They were long gone before I arrived.

In looking back, I miss having never met them, and conversely, I’m very grateful I got to spend time with my mother’s parents.

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Ham Radio

Today I’m very grateful for having picked up amateur (ham) radio as a hobby, and developing my skills with it.

And I’m exceptionally grateful for one specific friend, also a ham, for his willingness to help on short notice.

It all started with a call-out for WASART.

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Coffee, Vodka, and Choice

It wouldn’t be my 60 days of gratitude if I didn’t include coffee. And vodka. And coffee-flavored vodka. And coffee-flavored rum, while I’m at it. And Starbucks, of course.

You get the idea. I’m grateful for coffee, with and without alcohol, and preferably from Starbucks.

But when I think about it, it’s really gratitude for something much, much larger: choice.

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I’ve always been a reader. Some of my earliest memories include books of one sort or another. I’m sure I have my mother to thank for that.

I recall Little Golden Books on a bookshelf when I was perhaps five years old. Dick and Jane were part of my kindergarten or first grade curricula. I was an avid reader and collector of Tom Swift Jr. (my first science fiction), as well as The Hardy Boys.

But it wasn’t until high school that things really took off.

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My Mother’s Car

Sometimes it’s something very simple and yet out of the ordinary that I stumble into and suddenly feel some weird level of gratitude for.

Like my mother’s car.

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Chip Off the Old Tooth

While on an out of town trip, I chipped a tooth.

More specifically, a veneer on one of my front teeth broke in half. One half stayed in place, the other not so much. I wasn’t even doing anything particularly horrid at the time – using my teeth to start a tear in a plastic bag.

And of course this all happens while out of town.

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Parks & Camping

Kathy and I occasionally throw the dogs into the car, hook up the trailer and head out to one of Washington State Parks’ campgrounds.

Since the day we started doing that some years ago I’ve been impressed by just how well they’re kept.

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A Community Of Information

It’s no secret that I believe quite strongly that the internet has created more community and opportunity than it’s destroyed, and connected more people in more ways than we could possibly have imagined. Yes, there are issues, but they are far outweighed by the positives.

A simple example: I’m currently in my travel trailer, parked outside my sister-in-laws house, near a workshop that has a 220 volt electrical outlet for a welder.

Can I plug in my trailer? I plug into a different type of 220 outlet at home, why not this one?

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As part of my daily research to produce Not All News Is Bad (NANIB) I run across a lot of positive news stories. (That daily research is the intended goal of NANIB — that I publish it is just a side effect.)

When my wife stumbled into a story about a new treatment for Alzheimer’s disease that is showing promise my first thought was that I’ve been seeing a lot of stories about progress on the medical front.

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The Weather

Everybody complains about the weather, but nobody does anything about it. -Charles Dudley Warner

As I write this large portions of Texas are experiencing and recovering from hurricane Harvey. Even just skimming headlines is enouh to make me very, very grateful for the mostly mild & moderate weather we experience here in the Pacific Northwest.

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It’s not fashionable to speak positively about the government, particularly in the United States, and particularly during the current administration.

And to be crystal clear, I believe our current president has no business being in the White House, and is a colossal embarrassment to this country.

What I’m grateful for, however, is that I can say that.

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I love all our dogs, it should go without saying (I hope). Each is unique, with their own personality, characteristics, and quirks.

Some are just quirkier than others.

And some … well, some just come with a story.

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Early Retirement

I don’t really believe in traditional “retirement”. The concept being that you work for some number of years, stop, and go on to a life of leisure at best, or boredom at worst.

I never planned to stop working, and I still don’t. To me my work is my “life of leisure”, so to speak. It’s what I expect to be doing my entire life.

But technically I am retired.

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There’s no place like home.

There really isn’t. It doesn’t matter what it looks like, or what’s inside or outside, how big it is or how messy it is, there’s just something about … home.

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Not Being Needed

I volunteer for a local animal rescue organization — not the “adopt a puppy” kind, but the “my dog’s stuck in a ravine” kind. When called out we mobilize with a collection of people, skills and equipment that allow us to help get animals — often large animals — out of a variety of sticky situations.

Earlier today I got the call.

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