Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rusty Sheep

The story you’re about to read is true. I warn you, however, that I make up some of my true stories and you’ll have to decide for yourself.

For many years, I taught Industrial Arts Metalworking. During the course of instruction, as technical processes and tools were introduced to the class, students would ask questions as to their origin and development. Finally, after listening to the same questions over and over again and, sensing a need to liven up drab, technical information with a little humor, I began fabricating creative responses to student questions. One such inquiry dealt with the source of steel wool: “Mr. Koch, where does steel wool come from?” It was time to tell the “…rest of the story.”

Once upon a time, many years ago, there was a special breed of sheep that lived in North Dakota. These hybrid sheep were raised for their unique type of wool. Genetically, because of a unique endocrine and metabolic system, their follicles had extremely high iron content enabling these sheep to produced steel wool. Because of their metallic hair, and subsequent heavy body weight, these sheep needed exceptional care and tending.

Ranchers involved in raising these animals were licensed under Federal Agriculture Law—#0000-000-00-0-1-2-3-4. They were mandated, by sworn oath, to protect the health and well being of these sheep from life-threatening hazards and injuries. In short, ovine managers pledged to keep these sheep out of the rain. Should these iron-saturated mutton munchers get wet—they would—in a short period of time, corrode out of existence.

Unfortunately, fate was not kind to these sheep. During the annual Steel Wool Growers Association (SWGA), meeting in Indianapolis, a time when watchful steel wool ranchers were away from their flocks and out of town, the unexpected happened. Severe thunderstorms deluged the North Dakota pastures where these sheep grazed.

Sadly, the majority of the steel wool-bearing sheep had been left out on the open range unprotected from the elements. As sheep after sheep became soaked by heavy rain, thousands of them succumbed to iron oxide corrosive syndrome. Aerial photographs, taken after the severe weather showed pathetic, reddish-brown blotches against the landscape’s green meadows: stark physical evidence of the now-terminally rusted herds.

These storms had a devastating corrosive effect on the steel wool industry. It was nearly rusted out! But as bad as things appeared, all was not lost. Luckily, several breeding pairs of steel wool sheep had survived. Fearing possible extinction, the Federal Government immediately placed these animals on its endangered species list and banned all scouring: then took deliberate measures to restore this vitally important breed of livestock.

Follow-up studies by the U. S. Department of Agriculture revealed the surviving sheep suffered from deep depression. (Under the circumstances, it was quite understandable) The symptoms included cloudy eyes, listlessness, and (forgive me), sheepishness. Even though massive doses of a high potency iron tonic were administered, the depression was so immobilizing surviving sheep didn’t even have enough strength to point North. Ranchers were being fleeced.

As last resort, sheep specialists from the United States and Mexico recommended a geographical change. They proposed rebuilding the herd by relocating them to a dry, rain-free environment. By moving the herd, veterinary-scientists hoped the sheep would overcome their mutton malaise, thrive, and produce enough steel wool to relieve a growing worldwide shortage. After scouring the map, such a location was found on the Northwestern peninsula of Mexico just south of the U.S. border.

Not only did the herd thrive and propagate; and, not only was the steel wool industry saved from economic ruin, but the sheep overcame their depression.

Once the sheep had rid themselves of the “mutton Malaise,” they became happy animals. The more time sheep spent in the hot, rain-free, dry climate of their new west coast homeland, the happier they became. Soon they were laughing: BA-HA, BA-HA, BA-HA. Hundreds of thousands of happy laughing sheep could be heard all across the land: BA-HA, BA-HA, BA-HA.

The nearby residents looked upon these gleeful sheep as a good luck sign. Somehow the citizens knew that better times were just around the corner. To recognize their impending good fortune, Hispanic city officials, decided to name the land after the laughing sheep. And so they did. That was a long time ago.

Even so, to this day, this land is still known by the name it was given because of the laughing sheep. I know you’ve heard of this place. It’s called: “Ba-Ja” California!

Always a Warm Winter

With the season of winter well underway, one needs to fortify themselves from the onslaught of inclement weather in order to maintain desired levels of health, stamina and strength. Of constant concern is warding off winter chills. During the day, residents of northern latitudes supplement their raised thermostats with hot broth, hot tea and chocolate and steamy cups of coffee. These beverages are a nourishing and quick way to keep internal temperatures normal. As added precaution, vitamins and over-the-counter remedies are consumed to reduce sore throats, runny noses, sniffles and pesky coughs.

When venturing out of door, layers of warm clothing are foundation to down-filled jackets, car coats and parkas. Hats, scarves, mittens or gloves complete the ensemble for protection against blustery, uncomfortable conditions—the main objective is to maintain wellness and warmth. Everyone tries to keep their resistance to germs in tip-top shape. Long before winter’s arrival, pneumonia and flu shots are available for those susceptible to these maladies. Winter chills are not welcome.

Even so, regardless of the precautions and preventive measures, not everyone stays warm. We forget that generating warmth is a team effort involving mind, body and spirit. Although we keep our body well fed and wrapped in heat-retaining fabrics, we need a core supply of energy. Whether this is called attitude, outlook, or personal sunshine, the desired outcome is comfortable cozy warmth.

More important than heavy clothing, blankets or quilts, flannel or fleece is the inner warmth we create. So many people glide through the winter months with joyful exuberance, gleeful hearts and sparkling eyes; they seem not to notice the extended hours of darkness, cold frigid temperatures and limited sunshine. In spite of limited economic resources, fixed income or ailments, they glow with a tranquil and unflustered composure. What is the source of such satisfaction?

I suspect it is the understanding of the important things in one’s life. We are all on a similar journey. Although the roads travelled, and rest stops along the way are different, each of us decides what is important and what is not. As one accumulates years, our inventory of experience allows for the choice of treasure or trash. Which memories should be savored? What moments to remember should be treasured? Winters must be cold for people who do not have warm memories.

No article of clothing can warm a vacancy of the heart. No thermostat can fill the emptiness of the spirit with comforting warmth. No, entrĂ©e can relieve the pangs of loneliness. Only the inner source of one’s personal sunshine can fill, comfort and warm. So many times during life, one is challenged to draw strength from one’s faith, and beliefs. At times, faith and beliefs don’t seem all that important, but in difficult, stressful and troublesome times it is all we have to hold on to. Of all living things on the earth, only humans pray—or need to. And it is our prayerful words which fuels our inner sunshine providing warmth to the mind, comfort to the spirit and nourishment to the body. And, when this personal sunshine is willingly shared, darkness gives way to light, coldness no longer has dominion, and one enjoys always a warm winter. Those who keep in personal contact with family and friends, who make the effort to focus on doing for others, are healthier, happier, and more vibrant. Winter doldrums are inevitable, short days and long nights gnaw at one’s spirit. Cabin fever and Seasonal Depression Syndrome takes a toll on one’s energy and enthusiasm. But for those who understand the importance of tending and adapting to the seasonal changes within us, they are rewarded with an abundance of peaceful easy feelings, cherished memories, and, always--a warm winter.

Season of Peace

With all the unrest and turmoil nationally and internationally, it may seem wrong to refer to this time as the “Season of Peace.” As the economy continues to struggle, demonstrators clog public thoroughfares, and elected officials fail in their responsibilities to serve their constituents, hollow words, weak leadership, and misapplication of power and authority enables corruption, greed, and reckless spending to erode the founding principles of America. Decisions which are counter-productive to business, economic growth and the well-being of United States citizens made with abandon in order to appease selfish agendas, narrow-minded visions of ideology and curry favor with special interests, give rise to frustration, mistrust and anger. In extreme cases, personal discouragement and anger crowd out feelings of goodness, appreciation, and peace.
Perhaps these were factors which led Sy Miller and Jill Jackson to write “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Recorded by a number of celebrities and sung at countless worship services, the words set forth a challenge for each of us to choose peace over discontent. Many times during the year, news stories relate efforts worldwide in the search for peace. Video images of destruction, violence, chaos, and killings flood video screens. Peace seems so elusive—but why?
Of all the people one knows and comes in contact with: family, colleagues, co-workers, friends, acquaintances and strangers, we can only change one person for the better-- and that is ourselves. As much as we’d like to believe otherwise, we control only one person. Even though there are different genders, races, religions, creeds, cultures, ages, and stations of life, we are the same. Regardless of diversity everyone wants the same things. We want to be appreciated, valued and belong. We want to feel successful, important, necessary, honored and respected. We want someone to love—and if we’re very fortunate, have someone loves us in return. We want an abundance of blue skies, green lights, tranquil days and peaceful nights. We want our hearts filled with happiness and joy, our spirit to soar and burgeon with charity, kindness, goodness, thoughtfulness and faith. We want peace of mind, body and soul. We want a full measure of God’s blessings.
For a few brief shining hours each year, we set aside differences and thoughts turn kind. Throughout the world, people celebrate the one perfect birth of this earth and give serious consideration to peace on earth, good will toward men. Seasonal songs and hymns of Christmas fill airwaves, houses of worship, shopping malls, and all places where peace can find residence. Again and again, familiar melodies and lyrics announce the season of seasons, beckoning everyone to bestow peace on one another.

“Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our father,
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.”

Think about the magnitude of that challenge. Peace has to start with me! We have to decide that peace on earth begins within each of us. It is our responsibility how peaceful the earth will be. We have to decide that the blessings of Christmas: Faith, Hope and Charity are dispensed each and every day. We have to willingly share all that is good and decent, kind and pure of heart.

“Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.”

During the 1440 minutes of each day, goodness, kindness, caring, compassion, and concern for all who have touched our life must be willingly dispensed, shared and presented as a gift of peace.
Another Christmas provides each of us an opportunity to put into practice by prayerful thought, word and deed the true meaning of human kindness. This Holy day enables each of us to share blessings and gifts of the First Christmas with loved ones and strangers, adversaries and friends, rich and poor, servant and official. Most importantly, Christmas allows each of us to present one of humankind’s most sought after, treasured desires. Celebrate the season of peace: “Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.”
Merry Christmas, everyone.

Friday, November 4, 2011

November Thoughts

There are times, I wish the month of November was ten days long.  With late autumn’s onset of darkness, changeable uncomfortable weather, and bleak sunless days, it would be better to shorten this month as incentive to encourage winter to get on with it.   With that said, there is a stark beauty about November.  Leafless deciduous trees, muted conifers and limited cloudless days have a calming effect on inhabitants who go about their daily rituals of tasks.   Wildlife adds additional urgency to complete preparation for the harshness of winter that will challenge their safety, security and survival.

Once the time change takes place, dawn will announce the beginning of the day by pushing darkness to late afternoon.   When winter firms its grasp on the calendar, daylight will be rationed with a stinginess that adversely affects all living things.  On days when sunshine is in abundance and duels with cold frigid temperatures, inhabitants scurry about buoyed by the sun rays, taunted by aggressive wind to complete routine tasks and obligations before the curtain of night.
Nights in November encourage one to be warm, cozy, and secure in their home.   With fireplace or furnace, hot cocoa or coffee, sweaters or soft-fleeced garments keeping the cold at bay we nest in a chair or couch, watch TV, visit the computer, curl up with a good book or cuddle with a special someone.

But there are also times when I want to lengthen November.   The allotted thirty days serve as transition from autumn to winter.  In ever enlarging increments, darkness overtakes daylight permitting moonlight and star shine extra minutes to fill the heavens like sparkling jewels.  November is a time to reflect, review, and remind.   This is a time of preparation, of thanksgiving for the bounty we share and to savor the seasons past.  Wearing a jacket to stave off an early November’s chill, this geriatric unit occupies the glider on the deck and watches the trees dance and sway to November’s menu of breezes.  Autumn leaves tenaciously hold to branches in defiance of accelerated winds, but eventually release their grip and take flight: blanketing the landscape, flakes of multicolored sunshine carpet lawns, decks, and search for gutters to clog.

In the early morning light, clouds take shape, shadows lighten and disappear, and resident geese begin their noisy social gathering for sustenance.   Sipping on the day’s first cup of coffee, memories and remembrance gently visit the mind.  Road traffic builds with commuters going to work and school buses following set routes pick-up students for school.  Memories of four decades in classrooms are triggered by the sight of those rubber-tired cheese wagons with flashing strobe announcing their arrival.  Remembering our children when they were school age, and the times we walked with them to school holding hands, shuffling through autumn leaves, and jabbing at winter’s snowflakes as we joyfully shared a journey to the schoolhouse door.  How quickly the eyes fill with tears.

Now retired and released from structured obligations, memories of long-ago shift-work days when a young apprentice waited on the corner for public transportation headed for the steel mill.  With a shopping bag of work clothes, brown bag lunch, and bus fare-- remembrance of sunlit, rainy, frozen and dark mornings bring melancholy feelings of less complicated times.  It was a time of beginning—initial steps of the journey to grown-up.  Day by day as life unfolded, apprehension lessened, uncertainty faded, confidence increased and future adventures were welcomed with passionate energy, enthusiasm and purpose: from classroom to factory, factory to campus, campus to classroom.

Thinking of years that have passed all too quickly, of goals accomplished and not reached, of dreams realized and not pursued, and all moments in between, brings mixed inner feelings. Most of all, there is personal thanksgiving and appreciation, knowing that items on this life’s resume are the result of hard work, dedication, faithfulness to trust, honor, respect and responsibility—and loving prayerful support far beyond the stars. November thoughts.

Sheet Metal Romance

Around this time of year back in the 1950’s and 1960’s automobile dealerships brimmed with anticipation and excitement as time neared to debut the newest models of automobiles. With considerable fanfare and drama, television, radio, and print media presented consumers with advertisements designed to bring customers into their respective showrooms. An all-American industry, automobile manufacturers included General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, American Motors and Studebaker-Packard. Since the end of World War II, Americans had escalated their fervor and demand for the latest automobile technology, design, and comfort. Competition among manufacturers was fierce; as innovations, accessories, equipment, engines and power trains and were irresistible brought together to entice buyers to open their wallets and welcome months of payments. By the mid 1950’s, automobiles were a status symbol and personal statement of means, identity, and image.

You already know this, but guys love cars! Early on, this sheet metal romance captivates their affection. Focusing on fender skirts, canted tail fins, gracefully formed hoods, trunk lids, and roof lines; guys are swept into dream land of piston-driven engines, stick shift transmissions, dual exhausts, hardtops, convertibles, sleek-looking interiors and push-button radios. For teenagers, talking about cars is one of three major conversational topics. In the fall off nineteen fifty-six, the 1957 models arrived in dealer’s showrooms. As a 15 year-old high school junior, whose family never owned a car, checking out new models was like visiting Fantasyland. Going to Ciesar’s Chrysler-Plymouth, Swarthout Chevrolet, Hansen Buick and France Ford was idyllic. The aroma of new car perfume filled the dealership. Reflected light from highly polished Blue Coral lacquer and enamel finishes dazzled the eyes. Glistening chrome buffed to its highest luster, and whitewall tires complimented hubcaps and wheel treatments. Running one’s hand over sculptured hoods and fenders of these automotive masterpieces gave one a sense of awe. Dashboards gauges, levers and controls for accessories, floor mats, and interior fabrics of cloth, vinyl and leather, took one’s breath away. Hood ornaments, vibrant colors and manufacturer logos completed the sheet metal symphony of senses. These machines were magnificent!
Maybe it was because adolescents are so impressionable, perhaps it was being close to an unattainable desire, but the automobiles of 1957 left an indelible impression. Without question, nineteen fifty-seven was a banner year for American automakers. Many became classics and are sought-after to this day. Remembering those times makes me smile. I still recall the majesty of those cars: some favorites.

 Ford’s 1957 Thunderbird: $3408. Dual tops—standard convertible or removable glass-fiber with port window. Powered by a 285hp. V-8 with either an automatic or 3-speed manual transmission. Produced to rival General Motor’s Corvette. Sweet.

 GM’s 1957 Pontiac Bonneville: the first Bonneville available only as a convertible with fuel injection. Introduced in January, 1957, this was the fastest Pontiac ever produced. The expensive sticker price of $5782 came with every available option except air conditioning and external continental kit. The 300+ horsepower fuel injected V8 engine had a top speed of 101.6 mph. Spectacular!

 Chrysler’s 300C convertible: Equipped with a 375hp Hemi V8, dual quad carburetors, solid valve lifters and full race camshaft. In 1957, this was the fastest car in America. Priced at $4,055. Its chrome split egg crate grill dominated the frontal view. Stylish vestigial fins flowed into vertical taillights. Awesome!

 Ford’s Mercury Turnpike Cruiser: 1957’s Car of The Year! Available in 2dr or 4drhardtops models, standard equipment: power everything. Under the hood, a 290hp V8 and Holley 4-barrel carburetor and Merc-O-Matic drive transmission. Its most striking feature was the electric powered vertical rear window. Sticker: $4103.

 GM’s 1957 Super 88 two-door hardtop J-2 Oldsmobile: Three, 2-barrel carburetors fed the 300hp V8 engine. Available with brocade interior, this vehicle was elegance personified for $3200.

 Chrysler’s Plymouth Fury: Available only in 2-door hardtop, off-white color with gold spear-shaped trim. Powered with a 290 horsepower, fuel-injected engine. Classy!

 General Motor’s 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air Hardtop: Perhaps the most recognizable classic car ever produced. This car defined the 1950’s more succinctly than any other automobile. Simply put: it was the best!

Over the years, there would be other sheet metal romances: 1960 ebony Oldsmobile 98 white-topped convertible, and a muscled ‘62 Oldsmobile Starfire coupe. But the cars of 1957 have a special place in my memory: youthful, less-complicated, friendship-filled enjoyable moments. Wasn’t that a time!


Life is a series of beginnings and goodbyes; and no matter the number of our years, we never quite get used to it. This is the story of a beginning.

If I had a dime for every time I heard the retort: “Grow Up!” I would, today, have a tidy sum. From little on, whenever things went awry, or mistakes made, someone in authority would direct their focus to me and say: Grow up! As a parochial school kid in the forties and fifties, nuns were more than willing to dispense that phrase to anyone whose immaturity caused them consternation. During the greater portion of my grade school years, I could have been the poster child for immaturity with “Grow Up” tattooed on my forehead.

In high school, immaturity is magnified due to adolescence’s rapid infusion of cognitive and physical growth, developmental hormones, and social responsibilities. One enters secondary school as an “old child” and four years later leave as a “young adult.” Within those forty-eight months, a person is expected to acquire appropriate academic, social and personal skills prepared to enter and function in the world of grown-ups. That’s a formidable assignment for anyone; for me, it was an embarrassing struggle that challenged self-esteem, questioned self-worth, and tested personal discipline and resolve.

The full impact of inadequacy was evident a few days after graduation as I warily pondered my future. With high school over, one prominent question demanded my full attention: “What do I do now?” There were several choices: college, military service or employment. Due to low academic achievement and class rank, college was out of the question. Enlistment in the military required a level of confidence and maturity I did not have; so finding a job was my only viable selection. Job-hunting began in earnest on a hot, sunny day in June, 1958. I decided to apply at Inland Steel. I would become the first member of our family to choose steel mill over refinery: my grandfather, uncle, father, and two brothers had careers at Standard Oil, AMOCO, and BP over the years. I chose the machinist apprenticeship at Inland Steel.

One of the major limitations with telling one to “Grow UP!” is the lack of support information. No one ever told me how to grow up. Progress was hindered by confusion, awkwardness, anxiety, insecurity, ignorance, immaturity and fearfulness. Most prominent of those fears was rejection. I realized I was now on my own. No one ever told me how to apply for a job, get to Inland’s employment office in Indiana Harbor, what materials I needed, or what to say. Full of uncertainty, I mustered my courage and put “growing up” on the fast track.

A few minutes before 9:00 am, dressed in a long sleeved white shirt, tie and dark suit, I headed for Inland Steel—four miles away. From my home on Cleveland Avenue, I walked to Front Street and followed Dickey road to Union Carbide and Standard Oil, crossing 129th Street at Markstown. Heated by hurried walking and pre-summer sun, I continued past Youngstown Sheet and Tube, Company; over the Indiana Harbor ship canal, Inland’s Plant 3 Coke Plant to the corner of Dickey Road and Watling Street; turning the corner, I headed east. The American Foundry’s giant steam hammers shook the sidewalk’s pavement under my feet. Crossing the tracks, past a parking lot and Knight’s Bar, I arrived at Inland’s employment office. It was 10:15 as I took my place in line.

Because I was not eighteen, a Work Permit was required. I had to walk back to Whiting, procure the permit at the high school, and walk back to Inland. It was 1:45 in the afternoon when I re-joined the line of job-seeking applicants. By 3:30, I had filled out the application, briefly talked with a personnel representative, and told I would be notified if hired. Walking home during rush hour added to the day’s discomfort of missing lunch and perspiration-soaked clothing. The process of becoming a “Grown Up” left much to be desired.

I was hired in late July and began my apprenticeship August 11, 1958. Crossing the threshold to adulthood was difficult. Countless life-lessons, struggles, challenges and unanswered questions would be confronted. I would be tested in ways never envisioned. Childhood was over. Without rehearsal, adult responsibilities arrived and demanded attention and problem-solving at the speed of life. Growing up, one learns to draw upon experience, emotional strength, spiritual Faith, loved ones, and all avenues of information. Cut me some slack—the process continues.

Container for Dreams

As soon as one reaches the age of awareness, dreams become part of life. Sparked by events and imagination, each of us begins a wish list. Special events during the year, birthdays and Christmas, increase the urgency, but usually, one’s dreams, wishes, hopes and wants are an outgrowth of personal and private experience. In ways not completely understood, we store our dreams in containers within ourselves. Early on, we guard these dreams in very private ways. We do not enjoy being teased or chided about our far-fetched, pie-in-the-sky desires that seem so impossible; so they are rarely shared. For the most part, we keep them to ourselves. As we gain self-confidence and self-assurance we begin to talk about hopes and dreams with trusted family members or friends. Guarded at first, we are cautious and sensitive when and where our innermost fantasies are given voice. During adolescence, this approach-avoidance conflict is tested with considerable anxiety, apprehension, and uncertainty. On occasion, trust is misplaced and we suffer embarrassment and personal distress when promises are broken, confidence violated, and our innermost feelings laid bare for all to know.

As we mature, we become more protective and wary to thrust ourselves into the limelight, reluctant to discuss dreams, hopes, wishes and wants. We subconsciously build protective walls around emotions and feelings, in order to prevent or reduce discomfort, pain, and negative reactions to our most sensitive thoughts; without encouragement and support, many dreams die.

Maturity also provides ability to reconsider early hopes and dreams. As a kid I dreamed of having a horse like Bobby Benson on Radio’s B Bar B Ranch. Another time, I thought it cool to have a cave like Batman. Thankfully, there are unseen monitors who prevent such dreams from becoming reality. As a youngster I wanted a bicycle—although promised, family financial problems prevented that dream from coming to fruition. To compensate, I scavenged alleys for bicycle components until I collected essential parts. I had to buy a seat and fenders, but my junkyard alley bike served me well for several years. A valuable lesson was learned: most of the time you have to make your own dreams come true.

Even so, there are numerous occasions when the dream maker takes control and guides events just enough to let dreams take hold, keep hope alive and grant wishes—unexpectedly and at opportune moments. The dream maker employs strangers, acquaintances, friends, family and a myriad of circumstance—some planned, some happenstance—in order to set in motion actions necessary for dream elements to blossom. The dream may involve relationships, employment, workplace, life lessons, vocation, recognition, success, or acquisition of personal property. Some call such opportune moments luck, good fortune, blessings, or fate. Most of us accept life’s benevolence without much reflective thought. But analysis would reveal one’s personal contributions of hard work, preparation; Faith, dedication, and resolve were in partnership with the dream maker. Without personal involvement, dreams wither. Dreams do not come true because they are supposed to; they bear fruit because of commitment, investment of time, energy and effort.

Over a lifetime, one accumulates dreams, hopes and wishes, which never come to be. Some are discarded as ill conceived, unrealistic, and impractical and are tossed away. Others have been set aside due to unforeseen circumstance: unplanned obligations, health issues, financial limitations or waiting for the “right” time. A number, on the verge of accomplishment, are consciously ended because the “price is too high.” These fill our container for dreams.

How many dreams have been set aside and left unrealized? How often have hopes been dashed, wishes silenced due to personal feelings of guilt, fear of criticism, ridicule and rejection because of what others may think? How many times has the dream maker been shunned because of timidity? How many opportunities were bypassed due to insufficient emotional strength? How many occasions have dreams, hopes and wishes not been voiced because of apprehension, suspicion, or doubt?

Now is the time to open the container for dreams—give them a fresh look and consider how richer life would be if these most personal desires came to be. Dreams, hopes and wishes do not have an expiration date. Like honey, they never spoil and are always ready to nourish the heart, energize the spirit and bring a special peace of mind. What treasures are in your container for dreams?

Where's Al going to be next???

Check back soon for his next appearance at a location near you!