A Poll


Touching Base

20180504_082937I took off last Friday and headed down toward the Coast.  Indeed, Helen’s Kitchen was 20180504_090215again open and I had my favorite breakfast of country ham, eggs over medium, home fries, biscuits, red-eye gravy, and coffee, leaving a good tip because it made me feel good.

Looks like fresh yellow paint on the walls, and definitely a new wood floor.  The paintings of Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison were gone, but most of the other items had been returned to the walls.

I then went to the Onslow County Library on Doris Avenue.  I like the bathroom, and then to quickly peruse the current issue of Our State Magazine.  Before leaving, I asked a Librarian at the front desk if many people checked out the movie DVDs.  She said yes, and I asked if they would be willing to take some DVDs that I wanted to donate.  She said, “Yes.”  No reason to try to palm them off on the Library if they didn’t want or had a demand for them.  *I have two dresser drawers full of movie DVDs, most of which are Sci-Fi, but not all.  I plan to take them down the next time I visit Jacksonville… a couple of months.

I then headed up to New Bern with the goal of heading on to the Minnesott Beach – 20180504_113149Cherry Branch ferry.  I used the navigation in the car, and made it to the ferry just before they started loading.  Only about 10 cars total, so we were on and heading across the water in no time.  *I used the “head” on the ferry.

Instead of going right to Havelock, I turned left and came the long way back into Beaufort.

I drove along the waterfront in Beaufort and then headed back over to Morehead City.  I 20180508_160000stopped at the Belk in Morehead City… to use the bathroom, and to see what they had.  *They had a pair of men’s Nunn-Bush sandals and it looked like they were marked down from $70 to 20.99 in red ink pen.  No clerk was around, and I couldn’t find a box for the shoes, and they did fit, so I took them down to a far end register.  The woman clerk checked and instead of being $20.99, they were a little over $10.  I also bought a belt, marked down from $34 to $25.  They fit fine, and they have heavy-duty soles.

New Car for an Old Man



I went back to Hendricks Toyota in Fayetteville last Saturday and asked to test drive a Camry and a Prius.  I never got to drive the Prius, but in the feeding frenzy, bought this white 2018 Camry SE.  I know it is a sporty looking car, but the two things that really sold camry-first-fill-upme were:  40 mpg Highway, and the Entune 3.0 entertainment/navigation System… and payments under $350 a month.

I’ve put a bunch of miles on it already, and here is a picture of my first fill-up, which took over 11 gallons, and with the recent rise in gas prices, over $30 total.

But the car does feel good when I’m in it, and it has a bunch of bells-n-whistles that are exciting.  If the car drifts over the center yellow line, there is a warning, and the car slightly turns itself back into the original lane.  I let it drift first to the left and then to the right without me intervening and after the second warning there was a louder, flashier warning.  I didn’t see what it said, but it was probably something like, “Are You Dead?”  Not sure if it would have slowed the car to a stop, but that might be the next logical step.

I can hook my Samsung smartphone up by USB cable, and a real-time navigation map will display.  If the phone loses connection, the map goes brain dead.  I’ve found some dead spots in town where the map stops working for quite a few blocks and then starts back up.

20180413_124845I wasn’t looking at buying a Toyota, but drove a Corolla from Enterprise when the Civic died, and liked the mileage display and how easy my phone paired with the Entune System in the loaner.  That got me thinking about Toyotas.  I was still planning to try a new Honda Accord, and maybe even another Civic, but got sidetracked along the way.

Ford Fusion Gear Control

I did test drive a Ford Fusion and a Kia Optima.  Both vehicles felt good.  The Fusion felt really good and had a larger screen display and a knob for a gear shifter.  *I went back home after test driving the Fusion and found it was ranked 14th in the list with a Camry being 1st and a Honda Accord being Number 2.  **About a week ago, I saw something on TV that Ford was planning to phase out all but trucks and SUVs and that made it for sure that I wouldn’t buy a Fusion.





Last Thursday, I was returning home after having gone to the Mall, after work, to get a massage, and then dinner at KFC (Senior Buffet).  This was one of the “cleaning” days in which Marie spends two hours cleaning my apartment.  This is done every two weeks, on Thursday.

The massage went really well.  I hope I remember the masseuse, because he massaged hard enough, and around the shoulders to really make it feel good afterwards.

I then went to KFC for the Senior Buffet, which is about $8+ including tax and drink.

It takes about 12 minutes to drive from the Mall to home just off of McCloskey Road.  Everything was fine until I came to a stop, first in line (only in line, which was unusual) at the stop light for the ramp off of I295 onto Ramsey Street.  When I stopped, the dashboard light lit up and then most went dark.  There as a small puff of colored steam from under the hood and the engine went dead.  I tried several times to restart the car, but it wouldn’t.

Several light cycles went through and a man asked if he could help push me out of the way.  I thanked him and we managed to get my little Civic in what was a “blind spot” to the different traffic patterns beneath the I295 overpass.  Ramp traffic could get by, the two lanes.  The two lanes heading up Ramsey could go by, and the two lanes from Ramsey heading up the ramp toward Bragg could also pass.  I stood beside the car and waited for AAA and an police officer to arrive.

A Deputy Sheriff arrived shortly before the Mitchell’s tow truck sent from AAA.  I was quickly hooked up (the car) and the deputy blocked traffic, both ways so that the wrecker could do a U-Turn back up Ramsey Street to Black’s Tires.  This was after Black’s Tires had closed for the day, but I called them, first thing on Friday morning.

I was already scheduled to be on Vacation for Friday, so that worked out well.  Black’s Tires opened at 7:30 am, and I called then and let them know I would be bringing the keys by after I got a rental car.

20180413_124845Enterprise Rent-a-Car opened at 8 am, and I called, but it was going to be 1 pm before they could send someone to pick me up at my apartment.  It wasn’t an issue of not having the type of car I wanted, and I ended up getting a Black 2018 Toyota Corolla, which I liked.

The Hendricks called on Friday morning to ask how I was doing.  They had seen me standing by my car the night before, but by the time they had turned around I was already gone (with the tow truck).  Funny, but I had seen the Hendricks also, not realizing they had seen me.  They were passing by closely looking

The Hendricks driving away in their new Avalon, after dropping me off.

at my car, but not at me.  I wasn’t sure if they recognized my car, and didn’t know they had already seen me.  *They were nice enough to stop by, with their new Avalon, and take me to Black’s Tire to leave my keys.

Black’s Tires called and I was going to need a new engine.  They had two choices, a used engine with 67K miles on it, for about $3.9K,  or a rebuilt engine for about $5K.  I went with the cheaper choice.  *I was already planning to give Jeff Mitchell my car, so that Chad, his oldest boy could have a car.  Chad is taking Driver’s Ed in June.  I might have kept the car longer, but now plan to get me a new one sometime by June and give him the white Honda Civic (2011).

The engine install was supposed to take until either Thursday or Friday.  Ordered on Friday, but not expected to arrive before Wed.  But, Black’s Tire called yesterday, Tuesday, and said my car was ready to be picked up.  I asked if I could pick it up this morning, Wed., to which they said, “Yes.”  The bill was an even $3,884.  I moved money around in my MFCU account last night and wrote the check this morning.

I ate breakfast this morning at the Rainbow.  Afterwards I leapfrogged to Enterprise and was checked out quickly for about $189 total.  They drove me down to Black’s Tire.  *I forgot to get my parking pass, leaving it on the mirror in the rental car.  I only noticed this just before entering FSU and had to turn around.

The car wasn’t at Enterprise.  They had taken the return rental to Firestone for an oil change.  I went  to Firestone and, yep, the parking pass was hanging from the mirror.  I got it and headed on to work.  *I need to let the FSU Police know that the sticker is back on my own vehicle.


I go to lunch after noon and on the way back to work I hear a squealing beneath the hood.  I turn around and head to Black’s Tire.

Black’s looks at it, fiddles a little and sends me on my way.  I don’t make it to the next traffic light before I hear a flapping under the hood toward my right front tire, and the battery light comes on, bright red, and stays on.  The power assisted steering is gone but I make it around onto Ramsey Street and then right back into Black’s Tire.

They take another look and after about an hour I’m told they had the wrong sized belt.  I wait, and wait, and eventually I am told they have tried 3 different belts and none of them have fit.  *Ends up that, probably when I turned on the air conditioning, something that wasn’t bolted down came loose and part of the air conditioning unit that includes the belt shifted, and this caused the total belt length to modify and not fit correctly.  They finally figure this out and I am pulling out of Black’s Tire at 4:59 pm… to head home.

Seems to be working.  I made it home and now this morning to breakfast and now am at work.

Macado’s Redux

20180323_142633Not quite a year later, I revisited Salem, VA and Macado’s Restaurant to try another Pastrami Reuben, with fries.


The sandwich was different.  It was a good sandwich, but it wasn’t the Pastrami Reuben that launched a thousand ships.  I wish I had taken a picture of the original experience.  I think the bread was different.  macados-reuben04The way the pastrami was layered in the sandwich was different.  I wrote about the “large cut” french fries, well these were crinkle cut… and I know I would have said crinkle-cut, if they had been crinkle cut.  *Overall, the original experience was life changing, but this second visit wasn’t;-)

I can’t find any pictures of Macado’s french fries that aren’t crinkle-cut, but here is somewhat how I remember them from the original experience.  Rustic, rough cut… an expereince.


I do see from other Macado’s pictures that the pastrami was layered, not like the return experience.


Now that I look at the photo above, this looks more like corned beef (a true Reuben), but the pastrami was layered in a thick pile on the original sandwich.


And, there was a dill pickle, and a small cup of catchup which went well with the thick fries.


Here is what I had this time.



Famous Toastery

I drove up to Southern Pines Saturday morning to eat breakfast at Famous Toastery.  I’ve eaten there several times, the first time with Deborah, because she had coupons.

After a few visits, it finally occurred to me to order hot tea instead of their “extremely strong” coffee.  And, I bring my own tea bag and switch with whatever I ask them to bring to me.

I order a couple of eggs, over medium, with Country Ham, potatoes and an English Muffin.  The waitress asked if I wanted cornbread, to which I said, “Of course;-)”

The cornbread is slightly sweet and they also bring apple butter to put on it.

The size of the country ham is so large that they bring the order on two dinner plates, one slightly smaller than the other.  I like catchup and hot sauce on my potatoes.  I used the last of the Texas Pete, as the bottle was almost empty.

Everything was delicious, and I had some blackberry preserves, and some butter with my English muffin.  I had Raspberry Royal tea.

The meal is not cheap.  It is $11.82 without the tip and I usually feel good at the end of the meal so at least a $2 if not $3 tip.

The odd thing is that your original waitress does not stay with you throughout the meal.  She takes your order and brings back your drink, but then another waitress (maybe even the cook) brings out your food.  Then, as many waitresses walk by your table, one may or may not ask if you need a refill.  *What I’ve noted is that with all the waitresses walking by, few ever ask, and if all asked, that would be irritating also.

Honeybaked Ham – BBQ Smoked Stacker Sandwich & Potato Salad

For my birthday, Jeff Mitchell met up with me at Honeybaked Ham.  I wasn’t aware that you could eat in, and thought of HBH as where you go to get the spiralized ham for Christmas or Thanksgiving.

They have a good selection of sandwiches, but I have only eaten the one (4x), the BBQ Smoked Stacker.  What is that?  Ham, cheddar cheese, red onion, tomato, lettuce and bacon on a roll with some sauce.  *I’ve only tried the potato salad, which tastes just fine after I add some sweetner (they have Splenda).  You can get the sandwich as a stand-alone, or a combo, which includes a drink and one side.

This sandwich is consistently good.  Three of the four times the sandwich has been “really” good, and the other time it was just “good.”


Only about 5 small tables, so not alot of seating.

Aaargh! Oh well…

I made one of my day trips down to the coast on Saturday.  I had two things that I wanted to accomplish:  I wanted to have a Country Ham Breakfast at Helen’s Kitchen in Jacksonville, as I have done many times,… and I wanted to go down to Beaufort and drive across the newly opened bridge.  *The threat of the Flu has severely restricted my visiting family and friends over the past month.  If you have kids, I think you are that much more likely to be able to share the Flu with me, so I am currently avoiding you… even if I love you dearly and miss you.

So, I left my apartment about 6:10 am on Saturday morning heading to Jacksonville, NC.  I use the I295 extension which becomes Hwy. 13 and take that past Spivey’s Corner and do the round about (usually going past my 701 exit to make the complete circle) in Newton Grove.  I then get on I40 and usually get back on Hwy. 24 where the Rest Area and Smithfield’s BBQ are loctaed.  I go through Wallace, and then Kenansville, Beulaville, Richlands and turn by the old “Toot-n-Tell-It” (now a used car dealer) to eventually get on Old Gum Branch Road.   A short distance after Bethlehem Baptist Church, which I rarely go by without thinking of Mary Bell Jarman’s little grandson, who was struck while crossing the road, by one favorite 5th Grade teacher, Barbara DeBerry Newman.  *It was years after the accident when someone told me who was driving the car and that was a surprise.  So I turn and go the back road and eventually get back to Hwy. 17 N and head back into Jacksonville.  A short distance and on the right is Helen’s Kitchen.

W3y6lIPVET6NbN7upkdci-9DS8vJotq4-rkg9jGZkUwpX92IBAs I drive into the parking lot of Helen’s Kitchen, I see that there are no vehicles parked there, and there is a commercial trash dumpster at the front corner of the building.  I see the business is closed, and there is a sign with the message, “Temporarily Closed” on it.  I begin to cuss and mumble.  I think maybe they are just remodelling, but as I start to back out of the lot, I look up and see what appears to be water damage and some fallen ceiling on the outside awning.

sQMCausDbY4S32pOwqRvUgCfbvf-WAUyOA6oKzoKdJ4pX92IBHubert Grill & Deli

Joe Hartsoe and Kenny Gillette & wife are sitting in the restaurant when I enter and Joe starts waving me on back to their table.

*There was a fire earlier in the week at Helen’s Kitchen, starting while a few customers were in after 6 am.  That was probably a good thing, because the Fire Department was called and they appear to have gotten the fire put out before it did major damage.  Although I am sure, it smells and looks like major damage from smoke in most of the building.

New bridge at Beaufort

Mai Tai

My Mother’s Death

Yesterday at work, I started rehearsing the events which led to my mother’s death.

My mother died of leukemia on the same date that Colonel Harland Sanders, Kentucky Fried Chicken, died, December 16th, 1980.  He too died of leukemia.

Vivian Inez “Mick/Mickey” Morton Gibson was my mother.  I called her “mom”.

Mickey worked for most of her adult life as a Civil Service Secretary, mostly aboard Camp Lejeune Marine Corps Base, but also at the Naval Hospital at Portsmouth, VA.  She worked in the 1960s at Building 66, the Naval Medical Field Research Laboratory at Camp Lejeune.  Growing up in Eastern North Carolina in the 1960s, 70s, 80s Lejeune was never pronounced as “le jurne” as it is today.  It was “Lay Jewn.”

I think she was last stationed at the Camp Lejeune Naval Hospital at the time she was first diagnosed with leukemia.  She had begun to feel tired, and for someone that loved working outdoors, this was a major obstacle in her life.  She did have a Singer Zig-Zag Sewing Machine, with the attachments, and had used McCalls, Simplicity, etc. patterns to make most of her work clothing.

She visited her doctor, Dr. Adnan Taj-Eldin, who is still a practicing physician in Onslow County, Jacksonville, NC and the next day I noticed a bruise on her arm which was obviously caused by a hand.  When I asked her about the bruise, she said that Dr. Eldin had squeezed her arm as a test the day before.  I guess this was the result of the early stages of Leukemia.

I will skip some of the process here to get to what I rehearsed for myself, yesterday.

*Not sure where this needs to go, but near the end of her death, this last time in the hospital, mom weighed only 84 lbs.  She was basically taut skin stretched across a skeleton.  I recall that she had attempted to get out of her hospital bed to go to the bathroom and had fallen.  I wasn’t there when she did this.  She was apologetic about the fall.  She didn’t realize that her body had failed to the point it had.

I spent the last night sleeping in my mom’s hospital room in a high backed chair in a corner of the room.  I think this was on the 4th floor of Onslow County Memorial Hospital.  Probably Room 401.  The room was located directly across from the Nurses’ Station, and I think the logic was to put the most ill patients closest to this location.

My cousin, more like an aunt to me, because of her age, Yvonne deLagneau, had come up from Florida to be with my mother during the last stages of mom’s illness.  But, Yvonne had to return to Miami to her work, and had left just a couple of days before mom’s death.

My mother had a sharp mind up until a few days before her death, and the strong “end of life” drugs that she had been given to alleviate much of her pain, had taken over and put her into an almost comatose state.  The last night of her life, she had labored, sporadic breathing and her eyes were rolled back in her head so that only the whites of her eyes were visible with her partially opened eyelids.

I slept in the chair and was awakened during the early morning when nurses came in to test my mom’s blood pressure and breathing.  I think I recall one of the nurses saying to another nurse that one of the readings of blood pressure was 15… and I understood that 15 for either systolic or diastolic (sp?) was an extremely low unit.

About 8 am on December 16, 1980, I was awake listening to my mom’s irregular breathing as the early morning light began to light the darkened room through its single window.  *The window looked out onto Western Boulevard and across the road was the almost vacant lot for Jacksonville Mall.  The steel girder structure  was growing from the concrete foundation, but I seem to recall a bare light bulb or two hanging from the structure and steam coming off the concrete.  Tuesday, December 16th, 1980 proved to be a bright, but cold, sunny day.

I got up from my chair and walked around to my mother, hesitated, but eventually touched her hand.  Her pupils rolled back to face me, but just briefly, and there was no sign of recognition in her eyes.  No sign of love for her son, Billie.  The pupils rolled back to show just whites again and her labored breathing continued, but with longer periods between her lips sucking in oxygen.

I moved to a chair next to her bed and between the window and the bed.

Finally her breathing stopped.  I waited intentionally, which seemed like minutes, but might not have been any more than a minute.  I knew that they, her doctor, Taj-Eldin, had put a “no code” on my mother.  That meant that if she stopped breathing, the nurses or doctors were not to attempt to revive her.  But, I too wanted to make sure that she did not return to the pain that she had just left.  I heard air escaping from her unmoving lungs, as if it were water flowing over rocks.  I later learned that this was called the “death gurgles”.  Air flowing upward and out of the lifeless body.

I rose from my chair and walked around the end of the bed and opened the door and walked across to the Nurses’ Station.  I recall that it was darkly lit and there was a single nurse standing behind the counter.

The nurse looked up at me and I said to her, “Could you please take a look at my mother.” *There was that other monitor, my other voice, that has always been with me, and it said to me at that time, “You know she’s dead.”  But there was no hint of that awareness in my voice, as I made the request to the nurse.  The nurse was polite and said that she would look, and she came around the counter and went into my mother’s room, the door closing behind her.  I continued to stand by the station.

A minute or so later, the door opened and the nurse, with a worried look upon her face, came out.  She asked if I would follow her around the corner to a waiting area near the elevator.  I followed her, and I knew she was trying to be protective, and probably it was not her duty or obligation to let me know that mom was dead.

I don’t recall if I called Mary Ann or if she arrived at the hospital on her daily routine.