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Painter’s World: Preventing Permanent Damage To Your Own Body

Every painter that’s worked in the trade for three months or longer knows about health and safety issues. Whether working for a hotel or facility, a contractor, a corporation, or on his or her own.

 

SEVEN CAREER PAINTERS AND THEIR HEALTH ISSUES…

 

LARRY herniated three lumbar discs from lifting, carrying and moving heavy paint equipment.

TIM fell and lost use of his thoracic and lumbar spine areas, both legs and one arm, after a scaffolding collapsed.

WAYNE damaged both hips climbing extension ladders and scaffolding, while carrying heavy paint cans and spray equipment.

PAUL destroyed the ligaments in his “painting hand” and wore down cartilage in his wrists from years of repetitive motions.

JESSE developed spondylosis in both knees from climbing ladders, bend, and crouching.

KEN wore down the joints, tendons and muscles in his “spraying hand.”

MARK developed skin cancer from frequent exposure to paint chemicals and direct sun.

 

Over time, over 78 percent of painters suffer permanent damage to their hands and wrists, spinal cord, knees, hips, and feet. And, they develop irreversible respiratory, lung, eye, and skin problems.

 

It’s all that lifting, toting, carrying, pushing, pulling, moving, bending, stooping, crawling, crouching, etc. It’s all that breathing in and coming in contact with toxic paint product chemicals, cleaning agents, environmental hazardous materials, etc.

 

Gross picture that I’ve painted? It’s meant to be. Alarming painters’ prognoses? It’s meant to be.

 

TEN TIPS TO PROTECT YOUR OWN HEALTH

 

Overall: Invest in and regularly use supports for the parts of your body that you use the most, and//or are already weak, damaged, or worn.

 

  1. Lifting – Besides that “bend and lift from the knees” rule, always wear a back brace from your thoracic spine to below the waist.
  2. Working on knees – Slide on knee pads, under or over your pants legs.
  3. Hand and wrist grasping – Slide foam tube over paint brush handles. (TIP from Mark Santos, Wall Wizard.)
  4. Carrying – Wear padded, firm grip gloves.
  5. Pushing/pulling – Wear elbow and forearm pads and braces.
  6. Spraying – Besides longer hand and wrist support gloves, wear a soft neck brace. I like one that fits under my shirt or jacket collar.
  7. Standing/climbing – Into those work boots, insert contoured gel pads. BONUS: Ankle/shin socks or supports.
  8. Stooping – Yes, affordable hip, thigh and femur supports are available – and work great.
  9. Breathing hazardous chemicals/fumes, etc. – Minimum: Inexpensive masks. Recommend: Adjustable respirators. Safest: Self-contained breathing/air flow apparatus.
  10. Skin and eyes – SUIT UP for skin. Wear snug-fitting safety glasses that cover entire area.

 

Eventually, you may become one of those painter’s statistics, regardless of what you do and precautions you take.

 

However, protecting and supporting your vital “painter parts” will certainly give you a one-up at minimizing those risks and maximizing your painter’s world shelf life.

 

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Protect your own body; it’s the only one that you’ll ever have!

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Stay safe. Live well. Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Heat Illness: Preparing-for-Prevention Tips for Painters: Part II

As painters and decorators, we are our own best advocates in preventing heat illness on the job. We must play an active role in the protection of our own health. We cannot leave the responsibility to our employers.

 

In fact, both OSHA and EPA limit the employer’s level of responsibility. Employers tend to make these work-related choices, and provide preventive measures at their discretion.

 

Now – the cooler months – is the time to come up with a plan to prevent and treat on-the-job heat illness symptoms.

 

Now is the time to determine how we will handle our workload during the sustaining hot and humid months/season. Especially in climates like Florida has from May through October.

 

NOW is the time to get the facts out about heat illness.

 

  1. Talk about it: types, symptoms, risks and warning signs, safety issues.
  2. Publicize it.
  3. Orient everyone on the team and staff about what to look for.
  4. Train team members and staff what to do, when, and how.
  5. Commit to on-going heat illness awareness and advocacy at the workplace.

 

Heat Illness Prevention Tips for Painters

 
1. Know your body.

A. What is your tolerance level to heat, humidity, and sun exposure (direct/indirect)?

B. What is your exertion limits within that tolerance level?

2. Know your work environment.

A. What is the highest temperatures in which you must work during the hottest, most humid season? How many hours a day? How many days a week?

B. What is the actual temperature felt by your body – with the heat index added?

C. What us the longest period of time during a work day, that you must work continuously in that actual temperature?

D. How many days during a week must you work continuously in those actual conditions?

E. What is the level of clean-air and ventilation within your work area(s) on a continual basis?

3. Know your job’s physical demands.

A. How many hours in a day must you work in hot, humid conditions? Number of days a week?

B. At how fast of a pace must you do your work? Very slow? Slow? Moderate? Fast? Very fast?

C. For how long a period must you keep up that pace? _____ minutes. _____ hours?

D. How many breaks do you get, ordinarily, each of these days?

1) At what times during the work day are the breaks scheduled?

2) How many additional breaks are you allowed during work days in hot, humid conditions?

3) How often can you take a break when heat and humidity conditions meet or exceed your tolerance level. (See 1 and 2 above.)

4. Know your physical limits in meeting the physical demands.

A. How many pounds can you lift, carry or move, ordinarily and at once?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum number of pounds? Without symptoms.

2) With B, do you need to use a cart or other conveyance piece of equipment?

B. How long can you climb and stand on a ladder?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the maximum length of time? Without any symptoms

C. How long and often can you bend, stoop or crouch within one hour?

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest that you can do these? Without symptoms.

D. How long can you stand and how far can you walk without resting? Holding/carrying anything that weighs your maximum poundage? (See 4-A above.)

1) Under hot, humid conditions, what is the longest period and furthest distance that you can do these? Without any symptoms.

5. Know what your first heat illness symptoms may be.

A. What have been your first heat illness symptoms in the past?

B. What, if any, medical conditions that you have could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms?

C. What, if any, medications that you take could cause or trigger heat illness symptoms? Include over-the-counter products – eg. antihistamines, aspirins, nasal sprays.

 

Do you have a low tolerance level to any heat-humidity-ventilation environmental conditions?

  1. Avoid them. Work in cooler, shaded areas when above conditions do exist in other areas.
  2. Do not allow yourself to be placed in any situation that might cause, trigger and/or exacerbate your heat illness susceptibility.

 

SPECIAL LIFE-SAVING HEAT ILLNESS PREVENTION TIPS

 

  1. Schedule exterior painting during the coolest times of your work day. Examples: A. Dawn-to-10 AM. B. 5 PM-to-dusk or dark, or later.
  2. Plan to work on surfaces/areas opposite full-sun exposure. Examples: A. West and north sides of buildings when sun is over east and south sides.
  3. East and south sides of buildings when sun is on west and north sides.
  4. Plan to work in hot, humid areas when an emergency comes up. NOTE: Ordinarily, there are times when exterior painting must be done immediately.
  5. Wear short, white painter’s pants when you must work in outdoor temperatures 90 plus degrees. Regardless of the time period involved. NOTE: Get approval before the hot season arrives to adjust clothing to fit extreme heat/humidity conditions.
  6. Wear a cap or hat with a bill, when working and/or walking in the sun. TIP: Wider is wiser.
  7. Keep a drinking water supply with you at all times.
  8. Carry packs of small snacks in your pocket. Examples: Walnuts/almonds, Peanut M&Ms, raisins, trail mix, granola bars, energy bars.
  9. Carry frozen ice pack in small cooler on your golfcart or pushcart. While you’re at it, stick in a couple small cans of healthy juice. Examples: V-8, orange, apple. TIP: Pack a banana, too. High in potassium. Essential for sodium/hydration leveling.

 

BOTTOM LINE: The painter on duty must get his/her work done. One way or another. So watch out for yourself when the heat and humidity start to climb. And, set the standard for others to do the same.

 

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Learn and Live “Heat Illness” Free. Go to: www.osha.gov/heatillness.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2015, 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: Keeping Your Painter’s Brain Alive and Fit*

Ever hear of “Neurobics”?

 

I hadn’t either until someone gave me the book, Keep Your Brain Alive, by Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D.* and Manning Rubin.* Published in 1999, the small book offers “83 Neurobic Exercises to help prevent memory loss and increase mental fitness.”

 

WHAT IS NEUROBICS?

 

Neurobics is a form of brain exercise that breaks your brain’s normal patterns of activity. Its aim: to enhance the brain’s natural way of forming associations. And, that’s basically how we learn.

 

WHAT CONDITIONS MAKE AN EXERCISE NEUROBIC?

 

  1. It uses one or more physical senses – seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting, plus emotional “sense” in novel ways and different combinations.
  2. It engages your attention in a way that gets your attention.
  3. It breaks a routine activity in a non-routine or unexpected way.

 

TWELVE NEUROBIC EXERCISES ADAPTED TO OUR PAINTER’S WORLD

 

I’ve adapted these exercises from three activity areas covered in Katz’s and Rubin’s book.

 

Starting and ending the day

 

  1. Eat something different for breakfast.
  2. Brush your teeth using your non-dominant hand.
  3. Close your eyes and use sense of touch to choose what you’ll wear.
  4. Wear earplugs at dinner and listen with your eyes to your spouse.

 

Commuting

 

  1. If you drive to work, close your eyes, then get in and start your vehicle.
  2. Buy several inexpensive steering wheel covers in different textures, and switch.
  3. Open the window while driving so you can smell, hear and feel a mental road map.
  4. If you walk to work, take a few different turns. Or, say “hello” to 2-3 new people.

 

At Work

 

  1. Move things around – reposition your computer mouse, phone, a few basic tools.
  2. Brush or roll on paint, using your non-dominant hand.
  3. Write down a problem. In two columns, write words associated with it; cross-reference.
  4. In the paintshop, keep a chessboard set up, or a 500-1000 pieces jigsaw puzzle in process.

 

FUN TIP: Once a month, switch a smaller, simpler task with a coworker, even your boss.
* Lawrence C. Katz, Ph.D., (1956-2005) was professor of neurobiology, Duke University Medical School. * Manning Rubin comes from a long line of prolific writers, and was senior creative supervisor at K2 Design, New York City, New York. (Tip: Check Manning out if you’re interested in creative writing, professionally.)

 

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Think About It: Your brain is like any other organ in your body.

Exception: It controls everything within your body. Treat it right, friends.

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Thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: “Mrs. J,” Homeless Hotel Resident

Mrs. “J” lived on the second floor of Building 300-400. That is, toward the back of the hotel property.

 

She and her three young children had been there for nearly a year. Victims of an abusive husband/father and home foreclosure, they owned what had fitted into three suitcases. And, they had nowhere else to go.

 

Sooner than later, the woman’s money started to run out. She had extreme difficulties paying the rent on the guest room. More frequently, her children were seen foraging for food left in trash bins setting throughout the property. The middle child even took to sneaking into the Food Court, and asking the cook for uneaten food.

 

Our G.M. took a “Samaritan” approach to Mrs. “J” and her children. He did the same for the more than ten other families that had nowhere else to go.

 

Among other things, he made certain that the families – especially the children – had a Christmas. Holiday food, warmer clothing and new shoes, even gifts. And, he discreetly invited the staff to help out, too.

 

On Christmas Eve morning, I started my shift early. At 7:00 A.M. Mrs. “J” stood at the corner of her building, closest to my usual parking spot. She approached me slowly.

 

She looked down at my name badge. “Robert, I’ve been waiting for you.” Her eyes looked sunken.  There were fresh bruises on the left side of her face and neck, also her left arm and both hands.

 

“Mrs. ‘J,’ what happened to you?” The woman wobbled, trying not to fall against my truck.

 

“I’m okay now. He…uh…He left.”

 

“He…Who left? Your husband was here? He found you?” A sick sensation hit my stomach.

 

“Yes. But he’s all gone now…Won’t be back.”

 

“How do you know that?”

 

“Because I have no money to give him.”

 

No money? I thought. The woman was on her own. She was struggling to keep a roof over her children’s heads, and food in their stomachs.

 

I did not ask her. I just pushed the button on my mobile, and asked for “Security.”

 

Mrs. “J” and her children needed a little extra help. I wondered: How many other temporary hotel residents here needed this type of extra help?

 

That Christmas season marked a new, trumped up security plan for our special guests. One that carried over into the following year. It was a plan that no one on the staff really talked about. Yet, everyone on the staff knew about, and discreetly helped, to carry it out.

 

In previous years, I’ve posted about homelessness in America, and homelessness in Central Florida. I’ve posted about our Santa/G.M’s humanitarian  heart, and the kind hearts of his elves/staff.

 

It may be six years after Mrs. “J’s” Christmas attack. It may be close to three years, since I posted the first piece about hotel homeless residents/guests.

 

Let me reassure you: Christmas of 2016: Many destitute individuals and families call hotel rooms their homes.

 

A Painter’s Plan…

 

Are you, or will you be, staying at a hotel, resort or lodge this holiday season?

 

  1. Please keep your eyes and ears open for guests that need some help.
  2. Let the first staff member you see that you’ve noticed that another guest – especially any child – is struggling.
  3. Notify Security promptly if any guest or family appears to be in a crisis mode.
  4. Do not approach the needy guest yourself. Do not reach out to help.

 

You will be doing enough – the right thing – by contacting the hotel staff.

 

At Christmas time, “persons with special needs” go far beyond the traditional definition of “special needs.” It encompasses anyone – of any age – that needs help from someone else. To survive!

 

A message to the rest of us: Eyes open. Ears alert. Heads up. Heart open. Enough to recognize that another person needs help. And enough to call for help!

 

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Painters and decorators: Thank you for brightening and freshening up the world of others.

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And, thanks for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: “Please Find My Dolly.”

A True Hotel Holiday Tale…

 

She couldn’t have been more than five years old. I’d just rounded a building, and climbed out of the golf cart. The little girl ran toward me.

“My dolly. Mein puppe. My dolly.” Tears gushed out of her deep blue-green eyes. Wide with fear. “My dolly,” she sobbed, as she grabbed onto a woman’s hand.

“May I help you, Mam?” I asked.

“My doteur lose her doll.”

 

It was Christmas Eve at the hotel. Guests and visitors swarmed the property. The Seralago was at full capacity. Actually at overflow.

I knelt down to the child’s level. “What is your dolly’s name?”“

“Katweena,” she cried. “Dolly Katweena.”

“Katrina? That’s a pretty name.” The child reminded me of my sister. What she probably looked like at that age. Beautiful, natural wavy hair that encircled her round face. Like an angel’s golden halo.

“Can you tell me what your dolly looks like?”

“Like me.”

“Blonde hair?” I looked to the mother, who struggled with her English.

“Katrina large. (The woman moved her arms about 20-22 inches in height.) “Baby doll. Pink dress. White pinafore. Shoes, like Marta’s. (She looked down at her daughter’s white tie shoes.

The little girl had inched closer to me. “You find Katweena?” she asked, almost in a whisper.

How could I refuse? It may have been close to clocking out. But, no way could I leave that property before finding that child’s doll.

“Madam, do you know where your daughter might have left her doll?

“We – family – by pool. Close gazebo. Husband and sons swim. I read in chair. Marta stand by small pool, for little ones.” The woman’s voice sort of dropped away. Her eyes full of concern.

“I’ll start by the pool then. Where will you be, Madam? What room?” I stopped. Family of five, I thought. “Does your family have a suite here?”

“Yes. Suite. Children’s fun room. Building 100-200.” She hesitated, “Please find. Must fly home day after Christmas. Germany.”“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.”

“We’ll find your daughter’s doll.” The lady smiled, then bent down and hugged her little girl.

 

Standing, I reached for my mobile, and called Security.

“Please put out the word. We’re looking for a lost doll. Long, blonde hair. Pink dress, white pinafore, and white tie shoes. Doll is 18-22 inches tall.” I told security where I was, and the guest’s suite number.

I felt a tug on one of my pants legs. My “whites” were splattered with pastel yellow and mint green paint. (We’d had an incident in another suite. It needed a quick repaint, the entire suite.)

“Please find her.” The little girl’s eyes bore into mine.

“I will. I promise.”

 

After clearing where I could find the family within the next hour, I re-parked my golf cart. And I took off.

First, I scoured the entire pool area, including the gazebo. Also the children’s playground. Just in case. I checked every spot within that general radius, certain that the child had not wandered far from her family’s location by the pool.

For over a half-hour, I looked. Nothing. And, no one else – in security – had found the doll either.

I decided to find the family. To reassure the mother – the little girl – that I was still looking. And that other staff members were looking, too.

The family was back at the pool area. The little girl spotted me and met me part way. “You not find my Katweena,” she said. Lowering her eyes to the ground.

“Not yet.” I bent down. “But I’m still looking.” I forced a smile. “She has to be here somewhere. Right?”

“Wight!” The child agreed. A slight smile appeared on her tear-moist face.

 

About fifteen minutes later,  I looked toward a sort of out-of-the-way corner near the gazebo. I’ll never know why. Something just pulled me there.

I darted toward an area opposite the pool. Past the gazebo. Around the corner. Toward this nearby pool supply building.

There she was! Doubled over on the concrete walk. I couldn’t wait to grab hold of that dolly. Wipe her off. Straighten up her dress and pinafore. And, smooth down her curls.

 

I will always remember the look on that little girl’s face. The moment she spotted her dolly in my arms.

It was the same kind of “love-look” that I remembered seeing, many times, on my sister’s face when we were kids. Especially when she was playing with her Madame Alexander Baby Doll.  “Cookie.”

"COOKIE" circa 1972

 “COOKIE” – circa 1972

 

I worked the next day. Christmas Day. And, I had the chance to see little Marta and her family before they caught the shuttle to Orlando International Airport.

Working on Christmas – that Christmas – offered such a remarkable reward. The gift of being surrounded by people – hundreds of families – on the most important day of the year.

 

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Bless you and yours this holiday season.

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Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s View: Why This Matters

Millions of people, including independent painters, scramble to find individual health insurance coverage for 20117. Staff painters collapse under the strain of paying sharply increased premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs, for health coverage under their employer-employee group plans.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Simultaneously, president-elect Donald J. Trump contradicts a pledge to President Barack Obama to retain and improve the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). And, he appoints, to Secretary of the Treasury, the Wall Street mogul Steven Mnuchin – the top congressional strategist against the ACA to engineer and guarantee its repeal by Congress by mid-2017.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Figures released November 30, 2016, estimate that over 20 million Americans will lose their health insurance in 2017, if the ACA is repealed. This means they and their families will lose access to preventive care. It means that persons with any pre-existing medical condition or history, even any acquired on the job, will no longer be able to get health insurance policies. And, even employer-employee group plans will groan under the weight of extensive riders.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

At least 20 million households, of persons under Medicare age of 65, will no longer have access to preventive healthcare such as immunizations for flu, pneumonia, polio, TB, and shingles. They will no longer have access to affordable health maintenance benefits such as fitness/exercise clubs, nutrition programs and psychological counseling.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Workers will not be able to properly handle and manage their own fitness, wellness and health. Workmen’s compensation recovery periods will be much shorter. Family Care and Leave Act provisions will be sharply reduced; and employee jobs will not be reserved.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Hourly workers, such as painters, will need to return to work – after injury, illness, surgery – before their physicians and surgeons consider it safe and healthy to do so. Instead, workers will need to get back on the job very promptly to prevent (a) job loss; (b) future unemployability and uninsurability; and (c) personal/family financial insolvency.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

All employment opportunities will be available only to persons whose health ratings are above 80 percentile, credit score is higher than 800, and educational level is at or above the STEM or Master’s level.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

We will have come full circle. Job loss, unemployability and financial insolvency, in the midst of the collapse of the U. S’s health care and insurance systems, will be a no-win solution for everyone. Even the employed, employable and financially solvent. Even the billionaires that the president-elect will have serving in top White House posts, starting January 20, 2017.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Who sits in the Oval Office won’t matter then. Who sits on the White House Cabinet won’t matter. Who sits in the U. S. Congress won’t matter. Who sits in charge anywhere won’t matter. Because no one, not in these seats, will be well enough and able enough to care any more.

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Real strength is always in numbers. And, the real numbers are located within our communities. Not on Capitol Hill. Which, by the way, has been and will continue to be in an internal mess. Trump “top drawer” people, or not!

 

WHY THIS MATTERS

 

Because you matter! Take a closer look around – and inside your own life.

 

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What matters is why it matters.

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Thank you very much for visiting “Painting with Bob” during 2016.

 

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

Painter’s World: On the job on Thanksgiving Day

Usually, hotel/resort and facility painters need to work on holidays, including Thanksgiving Day. Particularly if they are scheduled to be on duty that day of the week.

 

For many reasons, I always enjoyed working on Thanksgiving. Even though many work orders were STAT, guest tempers flared, and bosses went ballistic.

 

10 THINGS THAT MADE THANKSGIVING A GREAT WORK DAY

 

  1. Chance to be with other persons – work friends – on a holiday.
  2. Opportunity to help others enjoy the holiday away from home.
  3. Lighter, more relaxed mood among staff members, even management.
  4. Teammates’ humorous approach to troubleshooting, and handling of problems promptly.
  5. More time allowed for light talk between and among staff members.
  6. Teammate’s holiday stories and jokes during breaks and lunch.
  7. Holiday atmosphere throughout the property.
  8. Festive, respectful attitude of guests and visitors, even when complaining.
  9. “Lightened up” attitude of bosses.
  10. Scrumptious menus prepared by our cooks – and those “doggie bags” for home.

 

10 TIPS FOR ENJOYING THANKSGIVING DAY AT WORK

 

  1. Two-three days before, jot down simple to-do list for the holiday. Select tasks that take little time – and will free you to enjoy the day with others.
  2. Carry in a holiday snack for teammates. Something that they’ll like, tastes great, and is easy to grab and eat on the run. ADDED TIP: Hand out pieces of wrapped holiday candy to fellow staff.
  3. Show up in a holiday mood, and spread it around, without overdoing it.
  4. Be ready to stop and chat with teammates and fellow staff any time your paths cross.
  5. Make the work day a little easier for any teammate that you know is going through a rough time (whatever the reason).
  6. Keep your eyes out for guests that need an extra pair of hands, or smile.
  7. Step in and give your boss an unexpected and extra break time.
  8. “Take two” minutes. Toss a ball with a teen hanging out in your work area outdoors.
  9. “Take five” minutes. Lend a hand to a guest loading up the family vehicle.
  10. Look out for children that appear lost, confused, upset, or ill. Help them get back to family.

 

Remember: Everyone on the property that day will be visiting. Away from home, and away from their own tables.

Give thanks that you’re there on this holiday. There’s a good reason that you are. Make it matter!

 

A TRUE THANKSGIVING STORY…

 

Three turkeys lived, very visibly, in our woods. One Thanksgiving, my dad forgot to pick up his 22+ pound, free Thanksgiving turkey from the company.

 

Without saying anything to anyone, he loaded a rifle and snuck into the woods to shoot a turkey for Thanksgiving dinner.

 

But, the three turkeys had other plans. They disappeared.

 

Dad crept through the trees for over two hours, fighting whipping 40 degree winds and biting snow. Still no turkey.

 

When he came back to the house, Mom asked him, “Where were you? Ron and Carol dropped off your turkey.”

 

Dad looked at his unloaded rifle, then doubled over in laughter.

 

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Give thanks for the turkey that got away, and the turkey that joins you for dinner.

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A safe and memorable Thanksgiving week-end to everyone. And, thanks for reading “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2016. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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