Saturday, June 7, 2014

Musings from author and deep thinker Verwayne Greenhoe. I love this guy.

Verne: If you read what Verwayne has written here, you will know that this man is a gifted writer. An author, in fact. He'll ill, but vital and vigorous, quick-witted, and cantankerous. Even in this brief piece, I am aware of the beautiful cadence of the words, and the beauty of the words themselves. I want to be like Verwayne when I grow up. God bless you, buddy.

A quick story of personal inner redemption but to get to it, ya got to wade through some nasty stuff. My wife had to have a lumbar puncture to finally confirm or deny her tentative diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis early Thursday morning and during the procedure, she had some pretty decent seizures.

It wasn't anything the doctor did, it was just part of the problems she has been having since last September and this situation has rapidly escalated in the past three weeks. She was sent home from work last Thursday night when she suddenly had problems walking. She ended up staying overnight today and I was left to my own thoughts and devices.

For several hours, I felt like I had reached the very end of my rope. Things have been very rough in our household the past couple months. If you've read here much, you know about my issues. If that wasn't bad enough, the IRS has, for the SIXTH time, has cleaned out my bank account, such as it was, and left us literally penniless. I've proven each time prior to this that we don't owe them spit so hopefully, the sixth time is the charm. Thanks to a few of my friends, we've managed to stay slightly above water food-wise. I can never explain to them how much this has meant to us.

There are other issues but I didn't come here to cry. As I sat alone, I was contemplating the future and what more could be heaped on us, I heard the inner voice of my heart begin to talk to me as it reminded me of things past. "Don't worry about your death, worry about your Life." I remembered that from a long time ago from a man who had lived 15 months in a German concentration camp, 1944 - 1945.

"Be generous. With your time. With your love. With your life. Be generous. Always." The dying words of the ER physician character, Dr. Mark Greene. The season long story of his transformation of a man questioning to a man accepting had struck me deeply back when it was shown and those words reminded me of what my Father, who by the way, died 20 years ago today, always told me. I've tried to live by those words and that concept. I've failed many times but I also know I've succeeded a time or three as well.

As my heart began to overwhelm the hurt in my emotions (it has been a long, long, LONG time since I've been this low) another thing came to mind. 'The thing about life that I have noticed most is that the view going out is different that the view coming in. Good lives, fully lived, cast long shadows.' Not an original thought but still profound on and of its own... at least to me.

When I had sat down, I felt as if I was being crushed by Life. After several hours of thought and remembering that our burden is light in comparison to that of others, I realized that my grip on the rope was a lot tighter than I had originally thought. It was dead still in the house and I heard my father whispering to me, "Doc... get up and dust yourself off. You have things to do. If you sit there much longer, you'll be buried in your own pity. Get up Doc, get up."

Things are still very very rough here. Things are very very tight here but I was raised to look for the stars. We'll be alright and maybe, I'll be able to do something tonight that I haven't been able to do in a couple weeks... sleep. Twenty years gone today and my Father is still motivating me.

Thanks Dad. I love you and I miss you but I know you are right here, making me see that when it is all said and done, my path is being guided by a higher power. When this is all said and done, I know we will win the game.

Take care,

Friday, June 6, 2014


Dear Facebook Friends: Rachel McCoup needs help. This is her story. Please read. It's a dreadful situation. I want to give her a hand. She's desperate. If you can assist in some way -- even if it's just by sharing this post, that would be great.

And pray. Most important request of all. 

If you'd prefer, contact me right here on my blog. God bless you, friends.

Rachel McCoup
Charlotte, NC


May 28th, 2:29am
Verne could you please help me find out what happen to my mother. I was told by the Union County estate office J.R Rowell and the court appointed administered that what difference did it make she was still dead. Please help me

May 30th, 7:25pm
Rachel: Wow. Give me a few more details. I may be totally unable from this distance (I'm in Wilmington) to find out or uncover anything. How did you learn about me?

You came up on my find friends page. I liked your views your truth and honesty and you are a Christian and not afraid to say so. I read you were fighting cancer. Then you daughter in laws cancer and your son illness and your grandchildren and you ask for heart broke. I began to pray for you and your family.I know what the word cancer does to you. My husband the love of my life passed away on May 20 1995 after 18 months of chemo and I had prayers from around the world for us that is how I got Thru that. I have a sister that is a breast cancer survivor.I pray for you and your' family many times a day. Thats how I get through my days and night is I pray. 

When I asked for your help to find out what happened to my mother I was hoping you could help me get my story out. My mom was taken by my brother put I the hospital under another name. I found out after calling her home then filed a missing persons report an told by Union county sheriffs department that any more info would have to come from him he moved her I learned after she died he had her moved to hospice where she died June 30 2011. 

I know at her funeral her eye socket was broken and the side of her face was smashed in and she had a pad from shoulder to her knees. I have never heard or seen that before.

 My brother has ties to the sheriffs dept and I can't find out what happen to my mother. if you can help me there is so much more to this story. I would be glad to make the drive to you.I understand if you don't have time . Please don't tell me to hire a attorney. I have had three and spent over ten thousand dollars only to be told they can not go against the sheriff the judges or the clerk of court or they will be put out of business.

 I live In Charlotte and no lawyer will take a case in union county because of the corruption and they don't like outsiders. Please if you can help I would be grateful but I understand you have to take care of yourself and family. I wish you all the best.
June 6, 2014

God bless you, sweetheart, I have rediscovered your letter. God led me to it and made sure I read and understood it. And the Holy Spirit is going to give me direction on how to help out. Continue to pray, have faith, and be hopeful.

First thing I am going to do is get your letter edited and put it on my Facebook page. I get lots of traffic, and we will get the word out on this.

I will be praying too and an answer will come to us. This is an ugly situation. You deserve assistance on it. I am so sorry you are experiencing this. Thank you for coming to me. 

If anything helpful develops, it will be the Lord's doing, and not mine. I do love the Lord and He hears my prayers, my cries for help, and my praise and thanksgiving. He is my Master and I serve him with great pleasure. As soon as you receive this, Rachel, please send me a message right away. 

And don't worry anymore. Verne.  9:53pm June 6, 2014

Chat Conversation End

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

NC Newsman Verne Strickland depends on the Holy Bible for what's coming in the headlines. God's Word keeps him ahead of the pack.

 The Bible in modern times 
more relevant than ever.


By Verne Strickland: 50-year veteran of TV and Internet News
Wilmington NC June 3, 2014 
I'm a news junkie and writer. I scan the headlines and the talk shows every day without fail to stay abreast of what's happening and who's doing what to whom. But I find more and more that the most definitive source of news is the Holy Bible. Odd that I should say that? I have lived long enough to know it. And I pass it on to my peers as well as the younger generations: 

Brace yourself. This is the future. Your future and mine. God has prophesied this, and we have been forewarned. Sound like today's evil times, wherein Allah-inspired Islamic madmen are abroad, casting about for infidel victims? Pray for grace, wisdom and faith. It is coming.

John 16:2-3 "You will be thrown out of the synagogue. In fact, a time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing God a favor. 3 They will do things like that because they do not know the Father or me."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Verne Strickland USA DOT COM  June 5, 2014

Read this impressive story by Allen G. Breed. It's an authoritative review of the day that "The Greatest Generation" earned its nickname.

Allen G. Breed is a national writer, based in Raleigh, N.C. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at

 Stories of  "The Longest Day"  June 6, 1944

June 6, 2014 USA DOT COM
Verne Strickland: D-Day has always provoked awe, excitement and great respect in my mind and heart. It did the first time I learned of it, when I was a seven-year-old boy in rural Battleboro, North Carolina. It does to this day. It was the most audacious, God-inspired undertaking for freedom that the world has known. Our America -- under God -- galvanized her might and power to crush despots in Europe, Asia and elsewhere. It was a statement that rings proud and true to this day. The loss was great. The victory was greater. Would that we could be so bold and brash today again in 2014. But I am afraid our tentative leaders have lost the focus and greatness we once had. But today is a time to think back and remember when we trusted God and our own destiny. The Greatest Generation had spoken. We could not be ignored.

SEVEN LAKES, N.C. (AP) — Seventy years later, Ray Lambert is still haunted by waves.
Listening to the waters of Lake Auman lapping against the dock behind his pine-shaded home, the 93-year-old is transported back to a beach on the northern coast of France. With a faraway look in his eyes, Lambert is suddenly a young soldier again, racing frantically among the wounded and dying as German rockets on the cliffs above erupt with tongues of fire and a sound "like women screaming."
"You can hear the boats hitting the waves, and you can hear guys calling for a medic on those waves," the retired bank director says. "And I still, after all these years, I wake up at night sometimes, thinking about the guys ..."
It is, he says, "as if the waves are telling me stories that I already knew."
They are stories of D-Day — June 6, 1944.
That stormy morning, 156,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel and into the maw of Adolf Hitler's killing machine. The assault by 7,000 ships and landing craft along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast remains the largest amphibious invasion in history.
Lambert, a combat medic, was with the 1st Infantry Division, which accounted for more than half of the 32,000-strong U.S. force that landed on Omaha Beach. Of the more than 16,000 members of the "Big Red One" who staggered out of the landing craft, 3,000 were killed, wounded or captured. Today, only Lambert and a couple dozen others are known to remain.
Many of those who survived that "longest day" have felt compelled over the years to bear witness for those who didn't make it. As their own candles begin to falter, that need burns fiercer than ever.
Some don't trust future generations to keep that flame alive.
"They don't talk about it in schools," says 92-year-old James Krucas of Racine, Wisconsin, whose actions earned him the Silver Star. "In 20 years, there will be no veterans around to tell them this was the day that saved the world."
After months of planning and waiting for the right conditions, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower gave the green light to "Operation Overlord." The plan was to land 133,000 American, British and Canadian troops on five Normandy beaches, code-named Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah.
The attack was supposed to have commenced on June 5, but rain and high seas in the English Channel forced planners to push things back a day. The night before, at Cottesmore Airdrome north of London, PFC Leslie Palmer Cruise Jr. and the other members of H Co., 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne were all geared up when they got the word to stand down.
The paratroopers were disappointed, said the retired architect from Horsham, Pennsylvania. But late on the 5th, the order came to assemble, and soon the sound of planes all winding up their engines simultaneously was like thunder.
As the Douglas C-47 carrying him and his 21 fellow paratroopers moved over the Channel, Cruise looked down to see the outlines of thousands of ships, "all sizes and kinds," on the water below.
Awaiting orders in the troop ships and landing craft bobbing offshore, men read Bibles, played cards and wrote letters home. Others tried to choke down what some were calling the "last supper" of powdered eggs, oranges and little sausages.
"There was a saying going around," recalls Richard Crum of Williamston, Michigan. "'They're fattening us up for the slaughter.'"
Aboard the USS Chase after a sleepless night, the men were given the opportunity to be received by a chaplain. Two lines formed.
"It was about four in the morning, and you could hear a pin drop," recalled Cpl. Bill Falcone, now 94, a former New York City police officer.
Nearby, on the attack transport ship USS Henrico, Staff Sgt. Ray Lambert and his older brother, Euel, also a medic with 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, prepared for their third major invasion. They had been with Gen. Omar Bradley in north Africa and had also made the landing in Sicily.
Unable to eat, the brothers went up on the deck and talked of their families back home. Ray's first child, Arnold Raymond Jr., was born in January 1942, while he was in Africa. He'd yet to hold his namesake. The brothers vowed that whichever of them survived would take care of the other's family.
"So we shook hands and wished each other well and then went down the nets and got into the Higgins boat," Ray says.
Just getting into the landing craft was dangerous.

"We had waves 4 to 6 to 8 feet," says Charles Shay, another combat medic and a member of the Penobscot Indian tribe who lives on the reservation at Old Town, Maine. "We had to jump into the boat when it was at its highest point to avoid breaking our legs."
Shay, 89, recalls the sound of shells passing overhead — both from the Germans ashore and their own ships behind them. Falcone could see the German tracers carving paths up the beach. Heading toward shore, the assault force was seasick, terrified — and angry.
"Get me on land!" Falcone recalls shouting.
The craft carrying Command Sgt. Maj. William F. Ryan took a direct hit from a German 88 mm artillery piece.
"All I remember is the boat going up and over," the 89-year-old from Melbourne, Florida, says. "I cracked my skull against the bulkhead."
Still, he waded into the water several times to retrieve the wounded and dead. Finally, two men, seeing he was losing consciousness, dragged him ashore.
The Germans had fortified the beach with railroad cross ties, barbed wire and heavy steel fences known as "Belgian gates." Unable to pass, many landing craft disgorged their cargo — human and mechanical — into the open water.
Shay says many men standing at the front when the ramps dropped were immediately killed. Others were pulled down by their heavy equipment and waterlogged clothes. Landing in chest-deep water, Shay dragged himself past the dead and floundering and made it to shore.
"You could not expect help from anybody, because it was a matter of survival," he says, half defensively. "We had to get to the beach."
While men were clawing their way across the sand and loose stones, others were hoping to catch the Germans in the rear.
Looking at a map of France, Cruise points out where he and his fellow paratroopers were: heading toward the west coast of the Cotentin Peninsula, which juts into the Channel. The others had jumped into Sicily and Italy, he says, "but I had no idea what to expect."
As soon as the planes passed the coastline, flak from German anti-aircraft batteries began bursting in the air around them. Suddenly, a red light flashed in the plane's violently vibrating belly.
The colonel shouted to stand, get ready, sound off.
Cruise was in the No. 9 position. "Nine, OK," he screamed over the din.
At the drop zone — over the village of Sainte-Mere-Eglise — a green light flashed.
"Let's go," the colonel yelled. And they leaped into the dark Norman night.
Seeing silhouettes drifting around him, Cruise remembers fretting about losing the gear tethered to his harness. He managed to clear a 30-foot hedgerow and slammed backward into the French soil.
"My helmet came forward," he says. "Hit me on the nose."
Many were not so lucky.
Passing through the area in coming days with the 294th Combat Engineer Battalion, Dickinson Debevoise recalls seeing the bodies of paratroopers dangling from trees and floating in the flooded ditches along the causeway.
By then, not much fazed him.
"There were bodies all over the place," says the former sergeant, now a federal judge living in Summit, New Jersey. "So, unfortunately, that was
 not an unusual sight."

Back on Omaha Beach, Shay sprinted from barrier to barrier and at last made it to the relative safety of an embankment.
"That gave us time to rest and regain our senses," he says.
He recognized Ray Lambert, the man who'd trained him as a replacement back in England. The Jeep carrying Lambert's medical chests and the rest of his gear had sunk to the bottom of the Channel. Working with what he was carrying, he began sorting the floating wounded from the dead and dragging them ashore.
Lambert was applying tourniquets and doling out morphine when something — a bullet or piece of shrapnel, he's not sure which — passed through his right arm, just above the elbow. The arm went numb, but he continued his grim work.
Then a piece of shrapnel "about the size of my hand" struck him in the fleshy part of his left thigh, opening a huge gash. Lambert packed the wound, wrapped a tourniquet around his leg and went back to work, but he was running out of supplies.
Weakened by blood loss, Lambert found one of his men — Cpl. Raymond Lepore.
"I'm not going to make it much longer," he said. "You better try to get the men together and see what you can do about treating some of these guys."
Lambert had barely finished giving the order when Lepore "got a bullet right through his head and fell against my shoulder."
1st Sgt. Euel Lambert was in Co. G, the same unit as Krucas, a 2nd lieutenant. When the elder Lambert went down with massive wounds to his right arm and leg, his comrades stacked corpses around him to shield him from the withering fire, according to a unit history.
The company commander, Capt. Joe Dawson, took a few men, blew a gap in the barbed wire and took out a machine-gun nest with hand grenades, easing the pressure on the guys below, Ray Lambert recalls.
Some of the Navy fire control teams had lost their radios during the landing. Ryan, the sergeant major from Florida, says a young soldier from battalion headquarters — an Eagle Scout with a merit badge for Morse code — found a signal lamp lying on the beach and established communications with a destroyer.
"And even though he wasn't trained as a forward observer, he directed fire on the hill," Ryan says. "And that's what saved us."
In the chaos, Shay became detached from his company. Roaming the beach, looking for men to help, he came across a fellow medic whom he knew. The man was bleeding from a stomach wound. They both knew he was dying.
"I bandaged him as best I could," Shay says softly. "I gave him a shot of morphine, and we said goodbye to each other — forever."

By the time the fourth wave approached the beach, the German fire had diminished greatly. But so many corpses covered the beach that the craft were having difficulty discharging their men and equipment.
Besides, says Lambert, "It was very bad for morale, with the guys coming in from the other boats."
A bulldozer gouged out a trench near the beach road, and the bodies were collected there. "Terrible," he says, but necessary.
Lambert again waded into the water to help a man struggling in the surf. Just as he seized the man with his good arm, a landing craft lowered its ramp onto Lambert's back. He didn't know it until later, but the blow had crushed his fourth and fifth vertebrae. Despite excruciating pain, he managed to drag himself and the wounded soldier ashore.
Soon afterward, he passed out.
He awoke some time later on a landing craft, heading out to sea. Somewhere among the other wounded was his brother, Euel, also being evacuated.
It was still too early to know whether the D-Day invasion would succeed. But for the Lambert brothers, the war was over.
For many survivors, that day remains the most important of their long lives.
"Stuff after was frost on the cake," says Krucas, who retired from Racine Boiler and Tank and is working on his memoir.
To Debevoise, it was a pivotally important day in the life of the nation.
"Germany would've taken over all of Europe, Russia, I think, eventually, the United States," says the judge. "We would never have known the life that we know."
Even so, he says he doesn't expect people to be "jumping up and down about a war that was 70 years ago."
"Memories are short," he says. "You do your duty in your day, and other people will be doing their duty in their day."
On a shelf in Ray Lambert's living room, a shadow box holds his medals: The Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters; a Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster; the Purple Heart, with three oak leaf clusters. The awards fill him with pride, but also remind him of those he was unable to save.
He remembers one in particular. The man lay at the water's edge, grasping in vain at his nearly severed arm as it floated in and out with the rolling tide. Lambert lifted the soldier's head and searched for some words of comfort.
The man died in his arms.
"And when I look down that beach now, I can see that spot," he says, his voice cracking slightly. Despite everything he did that day, Lambert can't help feeling that "I should have done more."
In 1995, his regiment made him a "distinguished member." With the honor comes the responsibility to carry the message for those who've passed. But, sometimes, he gets discouraged.
A couple of years ago, he was eating at a local restaurant when the waitress overheard him discussing an upcoming trip to Omaha Beach. He asked if she knew where that was.
"And she thought for a minute and she said, 'Well, I think it's down near Myrtle Beach, isn't it?'" he says with a sigh.

Lambert will be marking the 70th anniversary at Fort Riley, Kansas, the 1st Division's current home. Others will make the journey back to France.
Ryan has returned to Normandy every year since 1994. It never gets any easier.
"I don't care how tough you are," he says, his eyes welling with tears. "It gets you. It gets you."
Cruise expects to be there when the restored "Whiskey 7" — the C-47 that carried him across the Channel — once again drops American parachutists over Sainte-Mere-Eglise.
Shay plans to be at Omaha Beach. As he has done in years past, the tribal elder will wake early, while the tourists and dignitaries are still abed, and walk to the water. At 6:30 a.m., about the time the invasion began for him, he will perform a solemn Penobscot ceremony, the details of which are only for himself and "the men that have remained there."
"I try to remember the spirits of the men that are still there," he says, "and try to communicate with them."
He cares little whether, after he's gone, people will remember his part that day.
"But," he says, "I hope that the men who paid the ultimate price — the true heroes — will never be forgotten."
Contributing to this story were AP video journalists Ted Shaffrey in Summit, N.J., and Tony Winton in Delray Beach, Fla.; AP Writers Suzette Laboy in Melbourne, Fla., Kathy Matheson in Horsham, Pa., M.L. Johnson in Racine, Wis., and Mike Householder in Williamston, Mich.; and AP photographer Robert F. Bukaty in Old Town, Maine.

Allen G. Breed is a national writer, based in Raleigh, N.C. He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at

USA Dot Com: Diversity -- It's not my preference and not my pro...

USA Dot Com: Diversity -- It's not my preference and not my pro...: Echo Farms Golf Community Riverfront Wilmington NC   Historic Downtown Wilmington Echo Farms Golf CC Diversity...

Diversity -- It's not my preference and not my problem. I don't take it or leave it. I just avoid it.

Echo Farms Golf Community

Riverfront Wilmington NC


Historic Downtown Wilmington

Echo Farms Golf CC

Diversity to me is only one more irritant. I don't want it and don't need it.

 By Verne Strickland 
June 2, 2014

The only time I see a black face these days is when I watch Amos & Andy re-runs or catch another boohoo story about the passing of Maya Angelou who knew why the caged bird sings.

Diversity to me is only one more irritant. I don't want it or need it. I have plenty of variety and change in my life without it. Even the blacks can't put up with diversity. Black students nowadays have to have people of color to teach them. 

After all the rioting, burning, killing and looted American cities, I wonder why the hell we even went through all the "unrest" to live together happily and equally. Thinking back, I hardly think we could have avoided it unless we walled off the cities and sent in National Guard troops. This was war. 

We moved from the jingle jangle jungle atmosphere of Wilmington's downtown scene, where people were routinely shot at, robbed, raped and assaulted. Clusters of  blacks walked down the middle of Castle Street, where we lived -- I presume because it demonstrated their disdain for laws written and enforced by white people. Emergencies were everywhere. Police sirens competed with the piercing whine of emergency vehicles rumbling by on the brick-paved street day and night. 

I imagined I lived in Beirut, where I couldn't understand the language. I can't understand much of it here. And I can't speak Ebonics, Ebola, gulla or cursive. But I have a degree in English and I'm a writer. So I'm better equipped than most.

We didn't rarely walk the lovely shaded neighborhood streets after dark. I should note that there was no shade at night. But that's another story. Black kids walking by outside could be heard a block away, chatting and jiving in overly-loud voices. The raucous banter could be heard through the walls. We lived with it.

Furniture was taken from our porch; shrubs planted inside our picket fence were dug up and carted away. Car windows were punched out and the interiors looted. Shots punctuated the night. The following morning the newspaper had the details. Shooting, mugging, bullets fired from cars. Yes, it was like that. The downtown was reeking with diversity.

We loved the neighborhoods and the neighbors. One family was black. My pal Joseph and I talked amiably whenever he walked by. The historic district was ideal for foot traffic, with lots of sidewalks. But after dark the blacks owned the place. Occasionally I would see a white neighbor emerging out of the gloom and into a pool of light from a street lamp. Even girls would risk it, but denied they were worried. Most made it without incident. Some didn't. They were in the papers too. 

All of these histrionics could be quickly and irritably dismissed by some. And that's okay. I write what I write. I speak what I feel. And I'm a writer, meaning there may be a tinge of mellerdrammer built in. But this is the reality of it as I see it. 

We moved from the city, where we had lived for around twelve years. We do miss our lovely old Italianate two-story shotgun dwelling, built as a rental in 1871. It   was lovingly restored by our son Martin, a talented residential contractor. Like his mom and dad, he is addicted to the old homes too, and gave great attention to detail in his work.

A number of things figured into our departure. The crime and unrest. The noise. The dirt and dust, stirred up by traffic on the quaint paved street. It laid a covering of grime on porches and windows, and even permeated the old house. 

My wide Durrene and I were feeling our years. She had suffered through spinal stenosis, and a broken leg, caused by a fall on a rain-slickened sidewalk. I had come through a bout with cancer in my hips and legs, and walked unsteadily, with a cane, realized that sooner or later I would break my neck negotiating the stair steps -- exactly eighteen in number.

Yes, it was time to go. We knew it. And Bank of America agreed with us. We had battered our retirement account unmercifully with hefty monthly mortgage payments, and were slipping toward foreclosure. They wanted to put our furniture and all our belongings out on the sidewalk, but we said the blacks would steal it all. They agreed, so we got a little extra time and they sent their movers back to the offices of Two Men and a Truck. There were four men. You know advertising.

The decompression was dizzying. At our airy, sun-drenched one-story home on Sand Trap Court in the golfing community of Echo  Farms, we relax in almost total tranquility at night. No traffic noise, few sirens or car horns, no irritating shouts or raucous voices, no gunfire. No pedestrian traffic on our wooded little cul-de-sac. And no blacks. No diversity. None.

I don't care how that sounds. It's what I want, and I can have it. It's what I want for my wife Durrene. Both of us, I remind you, have been slowed by years and illness. We've pulled our time in the demilitarized zone. We don't want to take a shotgun to answer the doorbell, we don't want to be apprehensive any hour of the day or night. We can relax on the spacious sundeck shaded by a big oak and watch the golfers out on a green rolling fairway, merrily flailing away at their golf balls when they can find them.

Sometimes they can't, as many of their errant shots veer wildly off course and crash on our roof, or on neighboring houses. It's amusing, actually.  Last week one ball looking for a hole made one when it found a window at a home next door. Of course it riled the lady who lives there.

But usually the balls bounce noisily but harmlessly off the roofs or land in the yard. The golfers can't search for them in private yards. So they are called "lost balls." At first I thought they were Easter eggs. We pick them up when we find them and put them in a big glass bowl on the deck. We have over twenty of them. 

We do hear the crackle of rifles during the week from a police firing range maybe a mile away. But we understand what it means. And we want our policemen to be excellent marksmen, and we want them to be able to hit a target -- no matter what it is.

There are downsides to living in a golfing community. Did I say silence? I meant silence. At night you can only hear the crickets, the winds sighing in the big oaks, and the occasional rumble of thunder when God starts moving some of the furniture up in heaven. 

I wouldn't call this isolation. But I do love the solitary life as a writer. I can think undistracted, write in this land of free speech, and talk on the telephone without shouting. I think my blood pressure is probably at a record low for a white guy at 77 and counting.

Neighbors? Well, they're all over. But we don't see them. Or don't see them much. This is the South, but the people who live here are many times from other states, regions or countries. They came here for the sun and the golf and a good life-style. So they don't visit like we used to where we could talk across the picket fence or porch rail. But they're friendly enough. Got no problems there.

They're also elderly -- the large majority of them. And many are ill. Durrene and I register high in both those categories. They're not as ambulatory as they used to be, and we understand that at our stage of life. Durrene and I walk with canes. I do all the grocery shopping now, and at the store I employ an electric riding cart. At first I was a little self-conscious about that, but now I enjoy it. 

One of the last days when I stubbornly relied only on my cane, my legs had become so weak I could barely reach the check-out counter. So the friendly Food Lion assistant, taking note of my gray hair and desperate-looking eyes, came to the rescue with a powered shopping cart, helped me load my groceries and unload them at my car.  

"Never again," I told her, thanking her for her courtesy. The store is great. The staff know me and are invariably agreeable and helpful. Even when my dementia betrays me, and I motor away from the cash register after paying, leaving a bag or two that I neglected to pick up. Oh, and asking cashier if I could please get some help going back in to get a bag of grapes, some canned dog foot or a bottle of milk.

I say thank God for Food Lion. Thank God for Echo Farms. Thank God for Wilmington, for North Carolina and our blessed nation of of America. And for freedom, whereby we can embrace diversity or leave to others who want it and need it or can't escape it.