Photo by Jim LaBate

I’ve been retired for almost a year now, and when I bump into people I haven’t seen in a while, they usually ask me two questions:

How’s retirement?

What are you doing?

The first question is easy, and I quickly answer with a one-word response: “Great.” I am thoroughly enjoying the freedom I now have to do whatever I want each day. During my 40-plus years as a teacher, I used to get up early each morning to read a bit and try to write a bit as well before I tackled my daily responsibilities as a breadwinner. Inevitably, I’d…


Image from Wikimedia

I watched an interesting documentary recently on Netflix called The Last Blockbuster. The movie focuses on the only remaining Blockbuster on the planet. Who knew? Not I.

Like most people, I assumed Blockbuster died off years ago when the two outlets near our home closed. Apparently, though, some remained open longer than others until only one is still open today, located in the rural town of Bend, Oregon, southeast of Portland. The film zooms in on Sandi Harding, the woman who has managed this store for the last 15 years, and the film is definitely worth seeing if you remember…


Photo by Lewis Wilson on Unsplash

I’m approaching the one-year mark of my retirement, and I’m about to do something I’ve never done before: plant a garden. However, before I explain my lack of gardening experience and also my current desire to grow vegetables, let me tell you about my one and only harvesting adventure.

During the early 1970s, when electric and battery-powered Weed Eaters first became available, my sisters and I decided to buy one for my dad who grew up with a garden in his back yard and who enjoyed having a small garden himself. During the late summer when he came home from…


From 1962 Baseball Stamp Album — Photo by Jim LaBate

Many people have been confined to their homes during the past year due to the COVID 19 situation and the quarantine. As a result, some of us have used that time to clean out the house, to begin to get rid of some of the junk we’ve collected through the years. Fortunately, as we sort through our junk, we sometimes find treasures from long ago, souvenirs that remind us of our youth and take us back to a time of innocence and optimism. …


In my basement office where I do most of my writing, I have an eight-by-ten, color photo of my parents, Pete and Eileen LaBate. I love looking at that picture because they were such wonderful parents to my five sisters and me, and their almost 60 years together before Mom passed were a testament to their love and their commitment to one another and to us. (Dad passed about five and a half years after Mom.) As their children, we were truly blessed to have them and their extended families in our young lives. …


Image from Pixabay

Have you ever dreamed of travelling cross country? Most likely, you have. Usually at the end of our educational pursuits and before we enter the work force full-time, we all dream about seeing all of America. Unfortunately, not many of us get that opportunity for one reason or another. Fortunately, I had that opportunity to travel for six weeks one summer early in my teaching career.

A good friend and I took three weeks to drive from New York to California, visiting both old friends and popular landmarks such as Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana, Wrigley Field in…


Spain Image from Wikimedia and Photo Provided by Maria LaBate

During my final year of work, as I planned for retirement, I imagined that Barbara and I would do some travelling. A few years earlier, for instance, we had the opportunity to travel to Italy, Greece, and Turkey, a 13-day cruise that we thoroughly enjoyed. Thus, I began to think about other countries I’d like to visit. I thought about Israel because I would like to walk where Jesus walked, and I thought about Ireland because having already explored the Italian half of my heritage, I also want to explore the Irish half. Unfortunately, the current COVID 19 situation and…


Photos Provided by Jim LaBate

I’m sure you’ve all heard or read the following question at some point: If Hollywood were to make a movie out of your life, which actor or actress would best portray you?

It’s hard to take that question seriously because most of us know that Hollywood isn’t going to make a movie about us. Still, the question is fun and entertaining because it causes us to think about who we are and how we see ourselves versus how others see us.

For instance, I like to think I’m as tough as Clint Eastwood or as charming as Robert Redford, but…


Photos from 1982 KMA Yearbook

We have a comforter in our home that is over 35 years old. I know that for a fact because this comforter was a gift we received at a baby shower in 1985 when Barbara was pregnant for our first child, Maria.

This three-color comforter is off white, gray, and burgundy and is big enough to easily cover a king-size bed. Through the years, we have used that comforter on our bed during the cold winter months in upstate New York. We have also used it in our guest bedroom. …


Graphic by Jim LaBate

Recently, my wife and I attended a community festival, and we enjoyed sampling the food at the various booths. One vendor in particular caught my attention because his main sign read, “Tom’s Snack Shack,” and below that professional sign, Tom had handwritten the following small sign for that particular event: “Today were selling deep fried cookie’s.”

That big, printed sign and that small, scribbled sign both intrigued me because they highlighted the basic thought to keep in mind as you decide when to use apostrophes in your writing; sometimes, you need them, and sometimes, you don’t.

Apostrophes needed. Basically, you…

Jim LaBate

Jim LaBate works as a writing specialist in The Writing Center at Hudson Valley Community College (HVCC) in Troy, New York.

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