After 40 years as a computer programmer and game developer—and the passing of his wife of 47 years—Rick has retired and is now living in Ye Olde Folks Home, where he still tinkers with tech and likes to write these amusing and/or thoughtful tales about his storied life.

The Eggshell Incident
First Chapel Service at Ye Olde Folks Home
A Yearly Ritual at Menards
“Mr. Loftus, the Town Hero”
The FCAL Project
Pepe Le Pew Finds New Lodgings
In Memoriam: Dale Lear
Bingo Bedlam at Ye Olde Folks Home
There’s a Shortage of Perfect Movies…
One Day at the DMV
A Visitor from Microsoft
“He Who Should Not Be Named”
Downton… Abbey?
This Home is a Liver-Free Zone
My 9/11 Rememberances
My Yearly Pumpkin Spice Rant
Done In By Baker’s Square
My Eulogy for Alice
“Dear Rikki…”
A Clean, Well-lighted Place for Books
Memories of my First Computer
A Little Excitement at the Staff Meeting
The Tale of Mrs. Butler
Sun, Sand, and a Margarita
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
Troubleshooting at Ye Olde Folks Home
Stories of my Mother
I’ve Heard Angels Sing
Elevator Mishap at the Eye Clinic
One Day at Fair, Isaac
Saturday Morning Cartoons
A Sprig of Parsley
Fun With Recruitment Ads
Leave Her to Heaven
Bring me Dave Bringle!
Beware! The Oldsters Are Coming!
Life Among the Progressives
A Family Ritual While Watching Masterpiece
The Unforgettable General Oppy
“Don’t Even THINK About Parking Here”
A Dubious Plan Gone Awry
The Singing Christmas Tree!
One Day in the Hospital Lab
The Legend of the Broken Timer
Nelson’s Fruit Stand
This One Time in Glee Club…
Star Trek References for the Win
Family Psalm, Stuck in Lodi
Vacation in Branson
Clyde and Ruth Revisited
COVID Policies During my Wife’s Fatal Illness
I Guess I’m the Shadow IT Department Now
The Tale of Clyde and Ruth
My Garden of Gethsemane Story
We Might Get a Virus!

Nelson’s Fruit Stand

My first job was as a preteen working in the fields maintained by the octogenarian couple that ran the organic produce stand just across the street from our house out in the country.

I remember being so nervous asking Mr. Nelson for a job that I could barely get the words out. He must have thought that was so cute.

I sorted produce, organized boxes, ran from field to field moving irrigation pipes, and got my first experience using an outhouse.

I don’t have many memories of Mr. Nelson, other than sitting behind him on a big farm tractor at an intersection waiting for traffic to clear. His head darting back and forth watching the cars fly by, he muttered a line from Tennyson: “Cannon to right of them, Cannon to left of them…”

After a pause, he observed, “Never have anything to do with war, boy. It’s a nasty business.” I have a pretty strong suspicion this was first-hand wisdom from bitter experience.

The fruit stand was a rough-hewn building, with “Watch your head” written in chalk as a warning on one of the lower roof beams towards the back.

“People kept hitting their heads. It used to say ‘duck,’ but then people were thinking we sold ducks, so we changed it,” Mr. Nelson told me.

His wife ran a local Good News Club for all the children in the neighborhood, which was a weekly Christian program for kids 5-12 years old featuring a Bible lesson, songs, memory verses, and games. We all thought it was good fun, and Mrs. Nelson baked yummy homemade cookies.

Another elderly neighbor down the road taught handwriting analysis classes for free to all the local boys and girls. She did it just to have some company, I think.

Many years later my wife and I were trying to grow vegetables organically at our little rented farmhouse and having a devil of a time with gophers, so I drove out to see my first boss, now in retirement but still gamely keeping a huge garden in his back yard.

“Gophers?” He ambled out to a utility shed and hefted a yellow box with an alarming black skull-and-bones symbol on it. “I use this. Works good.”

“But Mr. Nelson,” I protested. “I thought you were an organic farmer.”

He squinted up at me as if I were daft. “I don’t eat the gophers.”

Nelson’s Fruit Stand is now Bill’s Farm Basket in Sebastopol, CA. I stopped in there once and told them I’d worked there once upon a time, so they pulled out an ancient scrapbook full of photos from my era and we had fun reminiscing.