Thoughts and assorted philosophical musing about: Family, Friends, Fun, Hobbies, & other everyday things.
My continuing efforts to serve as a First Sergeant (Top) in the Army of God.
My latest interest is in Letterboxing.

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful?, Some thoughts on why I am Thankful.

It’s Thanksgiving Day, and the house is quiet. Tuesday night my daughter Ellisa and her two boys rolled in from their home near Detroit to stay with us for the holiday. My son Loren and his wife Jennifer also converged on the area from their home near Newark Delaware. They are staying a short distance away with her parents. Yesterday the house was alive with action as Ellisa and our Grandchildren filled the house with fun and laughter, Loren came over to cook several dishes to be shared with Jennifer’s clan today. Ellisa also prepared a dish to take to her in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner today.

We will be having our family Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow night which will include dishes prepared by Ellisa and Loren plus others items provided by our other two grown sons Jason and Damon. We also expect to have Loren’s wife Jennifer and Ellisa’s husband Matt. To top it off my Brother Don will be joining us. Today I smoked a Turkey breast while Donna is getting stuffing prepared for a whole turkey.

So today the children are off with other segments of their family. With the rapid change from a house full of family to just Donna and I, I am sitting here thinking - am I thankful and if so what am I thankful for?! I have mentioned several times recently that my health has become an ongoing concern which has contributed to an overall feeling of malaise. Yes my health does keep me from accomplishing many things that I think I would like to do, but I know many many people with maladies that render them physically far less capable than I. The truth is that even if I were able I would probably not get around to doing most of those things that I lament.

I am truly thankful that I can still see, smell, hear, taste, and touch things in my environment. Yes my eyes, my ears, my teeth, and my sense of touch are not those of a young man, but they still work well enough for me to enjoy life. I surely am enjoying the sounds, sights, smells, and soon the flavor of the Holiday Feast preparation. I can still walk for short distances. I still have the original number of all of my appendages and they are in reasonably good shape. I am still able to experience the enjoyment of being around my family and companions. I can still eat most of those exotic foods we had come to enjoy from our travels.

The poor economy has not helped our financial situation, but we are not in immediate danger of being out on the street, having inadequate clothing, or of missing meals. During our 20 plus years of military service we traveled throughout the world. Although they probably exist due to some aberration, I have never witnessed situations in America that are even remotely close to those considered normal in most of the world. We simply do not have conditions in which people routinely experience large scale immense suffering resulting from every conceivable type of deplorably inappropriate circumstance.

We have the freedom to explore opportunities, to make mistakes, to accomplish great things, or to do nothing at all. Ours is a great country and I love it.

Yes I am Thankful because I have adequate clothing, food, shelter & health care. I am thankful that I have the freedom to attempt virtually anything that I desire, and also for a never ending litany of the many other things we tend to take for granted.

But the one thing that I really need most at this point in my life is to be wrapped in love and caring. To be smothered with hugs and kisses from my wife, my children, my grandchildren, my brother, and my friends. Perhaps even from strangers and enemies, I just need that extra support to keep me going. Thankfully I have a family support group that is there to provide for those extra needs, I am getting my share. Thank You Family for being there when I need you the most. Thank you God for providing me with such a loving family, for the wondrous world that you created, and thank you for providing your son Jesus.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Happy Days are Here Again!

I just found the source of that stupid blue line that has been appearing near the right side of my blog space and got rid of it. I like this template as I have modified it but could not get rid of the line that recently popped up. Yesterday Donna would not let me go to church because she was concerned about the effect that the cold would have on my heart. So I tried several other templates and variations looking for a solution to no avail. I just can't find anything I like better. I did find out why my favicon was not appearing most of the time and fixed that. It seems that the Blogger bunch had been playing with the scripts. That got me to thinking in a new light, and today I saw the light... those folks had slipped in a couple of changes.

While sitting home in the cold I have tried to keep busy doing Letterboxing things. My new printer arrived and I set it up. My Son Jason had convinced me that in the long run a laser printer was cheaper to operate and produced better quality print than an Ink jet unit. That fit in nicely with my desire to have one to make transfer of images for stamp carving easier. We have used an "All in One" printer for years and would not be happy with anything less. I found the least expensive All in One Color Laser Printer possible, and that is our new toy.

I had an image that I wanted to carve for my "Boxing Buddy" mascot. It was pretty complex and I could not get it the way it would actually look on the stamp. I carved it and liked the result except that there were several areas that I wished that I had done differently. Ah! - time to test the new printer. I made a impression from the first stamp, scanned it with the new unit, edited it with Adobe Photoshop, and then printed it out. The color image transferred very nicely making the re-carving a much simpler matter than before. Black and white would have been OK, but The color made it easier to distinguish features. Previously I had to print out the image, then take it to a copy service to get a copy made that would transfer well. While the stamp could still be improved it is acceptable for me with my present skill level. Now I have to make "Bearly First" a small logbook.

This is the original image that I found, the image as I had modified it to serve as a carving pattern, and the actual stamp.

It is time to start on prep for Thanksgiving day. I will put the turkey breast in an apple cider and brine solution overnight, then it will be ready to smoke. Our eldest son whined that he was looking forward to the traditional whole Turkey with stuffing, so now we are doing a bird in the oven and I will smoke a breast. Right now it looks like the big meal will be late Friday night with our entire family. I am really looking forward to that.

The Buckeyes won over the weekend, but Penn had a better season so Penn is off to the Rose Bowl. I wonder which bowl Ohio will end up with. Anyway it was nice to have something going well. I'm not talking about the Browns.

I need to get some lab work done tomorrow or Wednesday to have for my heart doctor next week. I hope that things are a little more under control now.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Almost bird day.

I am sitting here thinking that I can not believe it has been a full week since I last posted anything here. What have I done with the time??

It does not seem as though I have done much of anything. Just normal day to day stuff. I did get out for a few hours on two days to do some boxing. The weather has pretty much kept me in but I do enjoy the fall.

My old printer is on its last legs, so I have ordered a new one which should arrive in a day or two. I have also spent some time trying to figure out where that annoying blue line down my blog is coming from. The template which I am using is a standard one that I modified by stretching it for more width and changing the colors. It worked fine until about a week ago when the line popped up. I must have modified the code somehow but I can't spot where it is at. Now I am thinking of changing to a new template.

We are now beginning the countdown to Thanksgiving, I will be smoking a Turkey breast and we will cook a second one without smoking it to satisfy all tastes. It looks as though all of my family will be here... brother, wife, 4 kids, 2 spouses, and 2 grandchildren. It should be a lot of fun.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Obsessed - A Veterans Day Tribute Letterbox

Well it happened to me again. Monday morning I woke up thinking about Veterans Day. I usually don't make a big deal of it, but Monday it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a nearby letterbox honoring our Vet's. That was the end of rational thought. I then HAD to produce a box.

I quickly went through options.

1. I could use one of the extra small lock-n-lock boxes that I have in reserve - Check.

2. Make a smaller logbook for it - Get some small notepads and lighter thread to bind it. I found some thread in my old military emergency sewing kit and started a shopping list (Small Note Pads and light but durable stock for the cover).

3. Find an illustration that would be on topic, but be OK for a hasty carve. After some surfing down the web-trails I found a Liberty Bell that I could modify and use.

So I ran to the nearest office supply and got my stuff, edited the bell photo, transferred it to some PZ Kut, and made a quick carve. Then I assembled the logbook and the assorted inserts, dug through my military things and found a first finders Easter egg, covered the box with camo, and assembled the whole kit and kaboodle.

I had an idea of where I wanted to put it but that location was so pristine that it would be difficult to plant it where it wouldn't be accidental found. My first alternate location had the same problem, so I settled on a location in the middle of our small town where there are several war memorials. I planted it then came home to work on the clues.

I hate it when I get OCD about something like this. Anyway the results of this rush job sure weren't the prettiest I have ever seen but it is done and I can stop dwelling on it.

The weather has been cold and wet since then which has pretty much kept me at home. But I need to finish up here and go do the grocery shopping, so till next time.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Remember a Veteran


Make it a point to thank a veteran today for the freedom that you enjoy. It came with a terrible price.

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Lt.-Col. John McCrae

Last year Lizzie Palmer, then a 15 year old High School student from Ohio, produced this video as a tribute to our veterans. I can do no better than to place this link for you to consider the consequence of war and the debt we owe to those who serve.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Who Flung Fall?

It's 4 a.m. and I have been tossing and turning in bed for over an hour. My thoughts have kept returning to the idea of how much I used to enjoy the sounds and sights of fall. Then it occurred to me... why used to? It seems somehow these pleasant aspects of fall have been flung out of our lives.

Consider that today in our effort to keep our landscape and environment prim and proper we hastily gather the evidence of changing seasons and cart it away. We listen to the roar of lawnmowers, whine of leaf blowers, the crunch of mulchers, and hungry sucking of vacuum trucks all leaving us with a pristine patch of green turf. The only odor we are left with is the stench of gasoline engines.

The things that my fondest memories are made of include the scrape of leaf rakes, the crinkle of leaves, and the giggles of children as they gleefully fling themselves into those pile of leaves they were told not to scatter. And the smells... is there any more memorable than that of burning leaves? Perhaps that of the wet leaves carpeting our flowerbeds and pathways, or that of cooking over a campfire (pass the somemores).

During our years in Japan we would often smell the charcoal fires as people cooked their delicacies. While we were there our home was warmed to a tolerable temperature by a space heater. To humidify the house we would keep a pot of water on top of it in which we would often cook up some pumpkin.

The Japanese people know how to enjoy the outdoors. There is a national park located not far from where we were stationed in northern Honshu. Lake Towadai, a volcanic mountain with twin craters which now form a beautiful lake (similar to our own Crater Lake in Oregon) is the central feature of Towadai-Hachimantai National Park. The road running up and down the mountain follows the bed of a flowing stream on it's way to the sea. In the fall this drive is a stunning sight. Yes for the outstanding fall colors everyplace you look. But also because of the throngs of people, families of all ages and abilities, hiking their way up the gorge to the top just to be out admiring and enjoying the beauty of the season.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Cold, Damp Days

I think our short "Indian Summer' is over. Yesterday I saw that a new letterbox had been planted nearby and thought I might get out and find it. I did not want to go for just one box so I checked for others close to it. The ones that seemed most available were a box that I had failed to find the first time, and a mystery box for which I was still trying to decipher the clues. I only had part of the information needed to complete the clues for the mystery box, but after an hour or so of study I was able to piece together a probable location. Then off I went, about the time that I arrived to look for the first box the storm front came in, the temperature dropped sharply and it was raining.

Rather than returning home I stopped and did some grocery shopping first. There is nothing like food to cheer me up when I am down so I cruised the isles looking for promises of gastronomic ecstasy. By the time I got home and unpacked all of my food finds the day was shot.

I have not been sleeping well. Last night was no exception, I awoke, then had trouble getting tack to sleep, then slept in this morning. When I did get going Donna was off to meet her sister for lunch, the rain had stopped and it was about 5o degrees out. Rather than stay home alone I again went out to do try my selected boxes. I could not get to the new box due to hills and wetlands that were beyond the ability of my scooter and/or I. We may try it again when the weather is nice. I found the box that I missed previously and the really fantastic mystery box. The mystery box, which is probably the nicest box that I have found yet, also guided me to two bonus boxes.

It was really a good boxing day picking up four boxes without straying far from the car. Even though it has been cold it is still nice to be in the woods in the fall observing and enjoying all of the tricks God can play with the trees and shrubs. Just one more reason to be happy that I am still alive.

It's almost 7 pm, Donna just got home from visiting and shopping, and my Son Jason is bringing pizza over, so we will now settle down for a night at home.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The good, the bad, and the ugly

Donna and I paid a visit to my cardiologist yesterday. The good news is that the stress test did not indicate any new blockages, so angioplasty and or bypasses are not options at this time. The bad news is that my heart is getting weaker and I am carrying too much fluid in my system, especially in the pericardium. The plan of attack at present is to adjust my diet and medications, working at reducing the amount of weight and water that my body is carrying. All strenuous activity is prohibited, so exercise is very limited making it more difficult to lose weight. Also it is necessary for me to return to a low sodium diet, these things will challenge my self discipline. The ugly, sooner or later, probably in a few years, a heart transplant will probably be the last remaining option.

Yeah, no Hospital stay in the near future!! I have always know that someday I would die, and have suspected for several years that it will be my heart that does me in. Perhaps now I have a better idea of the time frame. As I quipped to me Pastor last week when my time comes I am ready, but I am not in a hurry to go so I don't want to rush things.

The new box we planted Tuesday has been found several times already.

I did get out letterboxing today but didn't do very well only finding one box. This may be the last nice day for awhile so it was a good day to be out.

Tomorrow may be a stay at home day, I have several more boxes in progress so I may work on them if I can't get out.

Tonight the Brown's are starting Brady Quinn, perhaps that will help them to make it into the postseason.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Family Time

Friday the weather was pretty nice so I was able to get to one letterbox. The box that I went for, Pam's Pumpkin, was close by and was to be pulled after Halloween so I wanted to get it while I still had the chance.

Friday afternoon was the time to pick up odd and ends then do prep for the trip to Detroit. We actually got away pretty early, but got stuck in a snarl of detours in downtown Detroit. By the time we got settled in the motel it was after nine and I was fried.

Saturday morning we slept in a bit then we were off to watch Payton's last soccer game of the year. The game went well and I felt Payton did a good job, but I don't know much about soccer and it is possible that I may be a bit prejudiced. After the game we went to Ellisa's house and hung out until evening. It was nice being able to just interact with the boys. We went out for dinner at a Max & Erma's located in one of those new distributed shopping center areas - a mall without a roof like we used to have everywhere. New is old and old is new. It was a nice area with lots of things for the women to spend money on plus a few guy toys stores thrown into the mix. We had a good dinner and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was getting late by the time we finished dinner, but Ellisa still brought the boys to the motel for a dip in the pool before calling it a night.

Sunday we met at her church. The mission group was having a Pasta Dinner as a fund raiser so we grabbed dinners for our crew and took it back to Ellisa's house. Then we hung out some more (I grabbed a nap) and eventually had to head back home. It was a nice time "doing family", I'm glad that we went.

Yesterday I finished putting together "Berea - The Grindstone City", my first letterbox to be planted near home. Donna was off from work today as the schools were closed for election day. She went with me to plant the box, then she was off to whittle down her task list. After we planted it I located two other local boxes leaving my long suffering hitchhiker "Love & Peace" in one of them. This may be the last good Fall day I have to be out, I enjoyed it. A short while after we went separate ways Donna's muffler fell off, so by the time it was fixed she was unable to get everything done on her list. Tonight she is at a church board meeting

Tomorrow morning it is off to see the Doctor - joy joy. I still dread what he will have to say. Pray for me.