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.

NOTE: This blog uses a blogger template that is among the large mass of standardized page coding which Microsoft Internet Explorer is unable to interpret and reproduce correctly. To see the actual full content I recommend that you use
any one of the other browsers that are readily available for free download. My personal preference among these is Firefox.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

My little metronome

Six years ago my heart had a senior moment and temporary forgot how to beat in synchronization. That led to several complications which put me in the hospital for about a week. When all was said and done I came home with an ICD or Implanted Coronary Defibrillator installed in my chest. I soon learned that stating "I have an ICD" at the airport would cause panic if the TSA screeners mistakenly thought that you were advising them that you had and "IED", trade talk for an Improvised Explosive Device.

This little "Metronome" sits quietly in my chest working as a pacemaker unless it believes that my heart has stopped or has an extended irregular rhythm. I have only had that happen once. On that occasion I yelped, jumped three foot in the air, and exclaimed "I think my Defibrillator just went off". Bystanders, wanting to escaped any involvement, scurried away like rats leaving a sinking ship.

Well after 6 years my health has declined considerably. I am no longer able to do much without detailed logistical planing for my transportation and oxygen requirements.

Now the battery in this little device is about to expire, so at six tomorrow morning I will be at the hospital to get it replaced with a new one.  This is expected to be a simple procedure, an incision through the flesh over my breast bones, slip the old one out, unplug it, plug in the new one, run some tests, sew me up, and send me home a few hours later.

Still I have some apprehension. The tests on the new device include speeding up, slowing down, stopping, and starting my heart with it. I don't like the stopping idea. Oh well that is life in the slow lane.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Supersonic Summer

This summer has been flying past at what seems to be a supersonic speed. Arriving here at the blog this morning almost by accident I was astonished to see that the last posting was in mid June.

Let me look back and summarize the intervening period: cleared up outstanding medical issues prior to vacation, made other preps for the beach, followed by 2 weeks away at the beach and on the road coming and going, back home for only a short rest before we made 2 more quick trips on church business then back home again. The last two weeks have been more catching up and just general unwinding.

This weekend Donna and I are off again for a short romantic getaway in celebration of our Anniversary. We will be in mid Ohio Amish country mostly just kicking back . I found what sounds like a nice suite at a new hotel in Berlin. I am looking forward to it. Donna still has a lot of work to finish in order to complete the two classes she took over the summer, but I did manage to arrange for her to get a massage while we are there.

Payton (one of our Grandsons) will be coming for his summer visit soon. His visits are always fun filled and full of activities. Both of us look forward to the time with him each year.


So far for me the highlight of the summer has been the days at the beach. I am really not a beach type of guy but this year the location was wonderfully suited to the needs of all. We were able to get Loren and Jennifer down for the last two days, and I actually spent time on the beach each day.

Even as much as I enjoy letterboxing, it is becoming less and less frequent for me to get out. Between the logistics of hauling oxygen around and my steadily improving skill.level at finding ways to loose my balance, I just find that the difficulty in getting out has counterbalanced my enjoyment of the game. Perhaps the scales will tip back the other way as time goes on.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Eternal Circles

This week the Mother of a friend from our church family passed on. Even before learning of her loss lines from an old tune had been making reoccurring breaches into my conciseness awareness. Perhaps this can be attributed to lingering remembrances of losses associated with Mothers Day and Memorial day which are mingled into health concerns of my own. Regardless of the reason these words seem to have a deeper and more profound meaning at present, a phenomena which it is anticipated will continue as each year goes zooming past.

Many of you are probably familiar with these stanzas which are the chorus of the Gospel version:

May the circle be unbroken
Bye and bye, Lord, bye and bye
There's a better home a-waiting
In the sky, Lord, in the sky

These words are an adaptation of an older church hymn. The original lyrics don't have the nice rhythm of this popular rendition, but a reading of them gives much more insight into what this song is attempting to convey, so here is the hymn in it's entirety as it was original written.

Will the Circle be unbroken
by Ada R. Habershon
There are loved ones in the glory
Whose dear forms you often miss.
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

CHORUS:
Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
Is a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the shy?
In the joyous days of childhood
Oft they told of wondrous love
Pointed to the dying Saviour;
Now they dwell with Him above.
(Chorus)
You remember songs of heaven
Which you sang with childish voice.
Do you love the hymns they taught you,
Or are songs of earth your choice?
(Chorus)
You can picture happy gath'rings
Round the fireside long ago,
And you think of tearful partings
When they left you here below.
(Chorus)
One by one their seats were emptied.
One by one they went away.
Now the family is parted.
Will it be complete one day?
(Chorus)
It is my earnest prayer that when I do pass on "In the Sweet By and By", ALL of my friends and family will either already be there or will eventually come and join with us "Up Yonder".

However, In the hear and now there is planning and preparation to accomplish for an immanent beach vacation here on earth.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

A Season to Savor



We drove to Roseville Michigan last Saturday to be with some family for the Memorial Day weekend. Sunday we marched in a parade on and watched another on Monday. The group that we marched with represented the school where my Grandson is a student and my Daughter is on the library staff. Actually I rode my mobility scooter, it was all tricked out with with bunting. bows, and flags while I did my part by wearing colorful patriotic garb. I drove back Tuesday while Donna stayed and hung out a few extra days. She has hitched her way home today with Matt taking her as far as Toledo and Jason retrieving her from there.
Donna still has the camera so no pictures today. Enjoying time with family is always pleasant plus staying busy helps to dampen those emotional feelings associated with my military service.
Of course the Memorial day weekend marks the beginning of our Summer season. Kids will soon be out of school, the weather has warmed up, and everything is growing like mad. My wife and daughter are certifiable beach bums. They have already been itching for months to get to the beach. I go along to get along.



Since returning home time has been spent first on catching up with things neglected for 4 days then planing details of our summer beach vacation. We will be going to Oak Island, NC this year. It has been a number of years since we used that beach, but a combination of accessibility and finances made it desirable to make the change. All of the details seem to be coming together so that I feel that they are well in hand for now... perhaps I will kick back the rest of the day or at least until Donna gets home.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Erie Places and Old Memories

In order to renew her Ohio state teachers certificate Donna needs a few new college credits. She wants to keep it active in order to work as a substitute. She found a "Bunny" class that she could apply to her work which is a study of the lake Eire islands. In order to complete the course requirements she is required to visit and take pictures of several specific and general locations on South Bass, Kelly's, and Johnson's islands. In addition a tombstone rubbing from the Confederate cemetery on Johnson's island is required.

Tuesday we hit the road early arriving in the area in time to catch the 11 a.m. ferry to Kelly's island where we had a quick lunch, then completed the requirements in time to catch the 3:30 run back to the mainland. Two ancient phenomena on her list, the Inscription Rock and the Glacial groves, were of the most interest to me.

After an overnight stay in the area we were off Wednesday to South Bass Island for another photo shoot. The Perry memorial was my favorite of her required stops. We also had the good fortune of photographing a very authentic reproduction of one of Perry's original war ships, the Niagara which happened to be in the harbor that day. After knocking out the required visits we hopped onto the return ferry then grabbed some lunch and set off southeast to complete her remaining tasks. Next we were off to Cross a short causeway to Johnson's Island where she snapped photos of the sentinel statue at the gate and obtained the required rubbing. Then we completed her last requirement in a swing by the Marblehead light for a quick shot on our way home.

It was good to be alone with her away from routine daily maters for a couple of days. We both enjoyed the learning experience and the time spent together.

In a few days it will be memorial day. As a Vietnam war veteran I am reminded of several unpleasant events when this time for remembering rolls around each year. Many of those who I knew or was associated with did not make it back safely. Last year instead of my customary visit to the wall in DC we went to visit my Daughters family north of Detroit where they participate in several parades. That seemed therapeutic to me, we plan to repeat it this year. We are off in the morning. Donna plans to spend all of next week there but I will return Monday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Singing Seniors at Sugar Creek

You are familiar with the term "senior citizens" used oo describe those of use who are either in, or are approaching, a period in our lives that could lead to the second round of wearing diapers. Our church likes to use the term "Prime Time" to identify activities planned for those in that age group while referring to us who participate as "Prime Timers". Actually neither of these group distinctions have appeal to me as I prefer to think of my self simply as a Post-Teen.

Regardless of the designation applied, prior to my last episode in the ER, Donna and I had signed up for a short retreat. We had laid our money down already, and the speaking and music were being presented by a couple that we had fond memories of hearing in years past, so we went ahead with our plans to attend.

We made many additional preparations the last few weeks to accommodate oxygen therapy, then late Tuesday morning we were off to Sugar Creek OH in the land of black horse drawn buggies. We arrived about noon, checked into our room, and ate at the Amish style restaurant located on the complex. After a light lunch I was able to enjoy some quality time with my pillow while Donna sat out in their garden and read. The group began to assemble about 4pm for event registration, then many milled around the lobby prior to a family-style dinner scheduled for 6pm. By 5:30 most were seated, had eaten the salad left for them on the table, and had begun lowing for the rest of the food.

Our first session with our host moderators, Lenny and Joy Wisehart, was held following the evening meal. Most of the rest of the two day event then followed this same pattern, food followed by a devotional presentation and singing, then circle around and do it again. The Wiseharts may have lost a little of their vim and vigor over the years. The don't hit you with the same knock out punch, but they are still vary enjoyable and have not lost their knack for inspiring you to a better life. Wednesday afternoon was left free for us to enjoy the area. After lunch on Thursday we began the process of stowing equipment in the car for the return trip home. We both had a grand time getting out with others who share so much in common with us.

This was my first multi night outing since starting on oxygen. We were able to pull it off with a few glitches, but it was not an easy or fun process. Having to plan weeks in advance to leave home for more than a few hours is not acceptable to me. Donna and I talked it over, then she suggested that I withdraw funds from my ROTH IRA and buy a truly portable oxygen concentrator. I now own a unit which I used to go to church this morning. It is about the size of a large camera or makeup case, is pretty quite, will run on batteries for about 8 hours, and includes both AC and DC car chargers. The results this morning were very pleasing and satisfying. I think it will make life much easier (and me much happier) as I am now less dependent of bottles and no longer need to order portable equipment weeks in advance. Just as my mobility scooter allows me to reach places that I could not otherwise, the concentrator will free me to travel for hours with minimal prior planning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

What is a Mom

Still no inspiration for a complete Mother's Day blog item. I posted this last year and want to share it with all of you a second time. It is a slightly modified version of a poem which was found on the Internet without attribution.

What is a Mom?

A mom is one of God's best gifts,
Someone to treasure all life through,
She's caring and loving,
Thoughtful and true,
Someone who is always a special part of your life,
Someone who holds a prime place in your heart,
She's a mentor, a confident and also a friend,
Someone on whose love you can depend.
A mom always has your best interests at heart,
She's someone so dear and so good,
She's a blessing, she's a gift,
She's a treasure like no other,
She's someone that is truly wonderful.
Wherever you go, and whatever you do,
A mom’s love will always see you through,
A mom is truly invaluable,
Indispensable and unforgettable.
I wouldn't want anyone but her,
And that's why I'm so grateful,
that God picked her for me.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Moms, Oxygen and Me

Here it is Mother's Day weekend.

I have been planning for weeks to write an article about the four mothers in my life that are so dear to me.

My Mom Hazel "Dixie" Galt (Picture at Right), who went to The Lord on 17 August 1995 and is profoundly missed.

My Wife Donna Galt, who extends more effort and energy than she can afford looking after my needs, continuing to nurture our four grown children, and promoting The Lords work.

My Mother-in-law Opal Weed, who was loving caring and supporting of all her children and their families until her passing on 6 May 2000.

Last my Daughter, Ellisa Kobylak a fantastic, unrelentingly cautious, and concerned mother who is fully committed to the education, amelioration, and elevation of her two exceptional and exceptionally luck young men.

Now I am down to the wire and I am still struggling to prepare it or to do anything else positive. I am in quite a funk over my health and trying to adapt to lugging oxygen around with me. Neither medicare or the VA are willing to fund any equipment beyond the minimum necessary. That means lugging bottles around or walking around trailing a tube. Portable concentrators which afford much more freedom are only issued while traveling (if available) and even then they must be ordered weeks in advance. The units provided are big and bulky in order to meet the needs of all potential users. If you want the flexibility afforded by the daily use of a compact unit you must purchase it out of pocket at considerable expense. As a result I am chafing at not being able to get up and go without first completing complex planing and preparations. It is like traveling with babies while having only two cloth and no disposable diapers - it can be done, but is is complicated.

Even simple at home tasks are a pain in the derrière. I can't go within 10 feet of open flame - no grilling or cooking while on oxygen. Trust me on this - It is not possible to shave with a tube up your nose. Using a urinal requires a juggling act as you try to unzip your fly without the bottle falling onto the grimy floor, then being sure that the hose is not in the line of fire. For a new way to fall on your nose, or to yank your ears off, try standing up only to find that you can't straighten up due to your feet being on the oxygen hose. Of course I can go for short periods without it, longer if I am not doing anything more strenuous than lifting a glass of water.

Enough rambling and complaining for now - hopefully I will be in a more upbeat mood tonight or tomorrow morning.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Blew 'til Blue

Just like the big bad wolf in the three little piggies story they blew and they blew until they were blue in the face and it was to no avail. It was a great weekend with family in Toledo. Again this year Dot & Gene Kobylak, the parents of my daughter Ellisa's husband Matt, hosted the family birthday party for our eldest Grandson Payton. At six he is aware enough to enjoy an occasional good-natured practical joke. He received one at his birthday party in the form of relighting candles on his cake. He attempted to get them all blow out several times, then his brother and other onlooking children came to his assistance. It was fun to watch and he seemed to enjoy the joke as much as anyone. I don't think that he takes the concept of receiving his wish if he can blow them all out at once very seriously. It was a great time with friends and family galore to help him celebrate the occasion. Of course he/we enjoyed great cake, good food, laughs, and lots of presents. The house was full of cameras, if you were there, wish your were there, or are just curious I have posted those shots that were taken by my wife and I here.

I have had some recent challenges that have once again reinforced the truth that health, wealth, and wisdom are fleeting benefits which we may enjoy for awhile but that we have no assurance of being able to keep. In contrast the rewards of kindling loving relationships with family and friends are much more durable and lasting. Although I was not able to interact fully with those at this gathering it was worth the little extra effort and planning that it took to be there, plus everyone went out of their way to be accommodating.

I guess the guiding principle here is that regardless of circumstances life will go on, and that in order to thrive we must adapt to and move forward with it. Here I am with song lyrics running through my head again, this time it is "I Never Promised you a Rose Garden".


I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.
Along with the sunshine,
There's gotta be a little rain sometimes.
When you take, you gotta give, so live and let live,
Or let go.
I beg your pardon,
I never promised you a rose garden.


While on the subject of the family, you can see from the change in my template I have recently been meditating on the upcoming Mothers Day weekend. I am still missing my mother after many years, but more on that later. For you letterboxers I have put out "Dixie" my Mothers Day letter box. It will be left in it's seasonal home for several weeks.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Muddy Putty

This week:
The Good - I am still here to talk about it, Thank you God !!
The bad - most of it was spent in the hospital.

I have chronic heart failure, my heart played tricks on me again, culminating in my being admitted Monday evening. I survived but am all the worse for wear - further weakened heart muscles and a recalcitrant valve. It looks like I will need to cart oxygen around with me the rest of my life, but I could get lucky. That is funny 50 years ago "getting lucky" sure would have suggested something other than not needing to wheel a tank of gas around.

Speaking of years ago, I have been having a great deal if difficulty trying to collect my thoughts, feelings, and emotions over this. My mind for some wild reason keeps going back to song lyrics from my youth. As the only person that I know of who carries around an Ipod touch only to use as a PDA, I have never been accused of being music oriented. I don't understand this new side of me. Everything in my head is a mixed up mishmash now. One song that keeps coming to mind when musing about these events is "Cement Mixer Putty Putty".

The lyrics (as sung by Liberace) are pretty much nonsensical and not singable unless you have heard them (Original Jazz Version), but the concept of everything in my life being mixed together hodgepodge like a bucket of cement resonates with me right now.

A second song from long ago which I can't seem to clear out of my mind is "Detour (it's a muddy road ahead)". I had plenty of warning that an episode of Heart Failure was impending, but did not recognize or acknowledge the symptoms in time. So now I have to crawl out of the new muddy hole that I got myself into and reorganize how I deal with everyday life. How much simpler things would have been if I had heeded those detour signs, or perhaps had made a U-turn.

Monday, April 19, 2010

123 - Counting you and me

Ah - it is time for the decennial census again. I fully understand that the constitution requires the congress to establish a procedure for the population of our country to be enumerated every ten years. I do not have a problem with that, nor do I complain that many of the questions which have been included on the forms in recent years have been intrusive. However, several things regarding their procedures and questions do trouble me.

The stated primary purpose of having the census conducted is to insure that seats in the House of Representatives are allotted to each state in proportion to the number of voters in that state. By law only citizens are eligible to vote. Why then does the government require that the entire population be enumerated without regard to citizenship status? I see no problem with counting the entire population providing that citizenship status is indicated on the form. However, there is no question pertaining to citizenship status. Clearly this skews the results in favor of states with large populations that are not citizens. This is especially annoying as many of these non citizens are "Undocumented Workers" i.e., illegal immigrants. A secondary use of this data is to allocate funds for federal welfare and benefit programs - again to illegal immigrants and non citizens.

The majority of US States do not recognize same sex couples as being married, yet the Census Bureau has elected to allow these partners to reflect married status on their forms. Pardon me but it seems that this clearly corrupts the resulting data and compromises the application of it.

The effective date of the census data has changed several times over the 20 plus times that the population has been enumerated. Currently the data is to reflect status as of 1 April 2010. Our Government spent over a million tax dollars in an advertising campaign to get each household to complete the form and send it in. Way back in March, well before this 1 April effective date, reminders were received by mail and TV ads were being aired haranguing those who had not yet returned their forms. While we may speculate what the answers are likely to be in a week or two, we can not know for sure. In my view any form mailed prior to 1 April must be considered invalid. It makes me wonder who got what in return for this lucrative and clearly excessive advertising contract.

Please share your thoughts on this with me.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ctrl+Alt+Delete

I usually spend a large portion of my day sitting at a computer attempting to accomplish a variety of tasks and/or pandering to my many interests. With the exception of an I-pod touch I have been a PC user as long as PCs have been around. I was a DOS user even with the predecessors of the PC such as my early Tandy TRS products. Windows was too slow for my liking and it used too much memory. Finally in the mid 90s I was forced to embrace Windows systems in order to have more productive applications.

Windows based computing has always been a crap shoot. Things tend to run along just fine until the most critical moment, then all active processes slow down, generate errors, or totally hang up the computer. When that happens often the only way to resume is to hold down the three key combination of "Ctrl+Alt+Delete" which then brings up a management screen allowing you to halt an application, a process, or to shut down the machine. If you shut down one of your choices "Restart" will stop everything and start over from scratch.

For many years I have been an active supporter of Conservative political principles. I worked as a precinct committee member, testified at legislative hearings, attended rallies and gatherings, contributed money for PACS and campaigns, and worked as a volunteer with election committees. All of this was done with the sincere belief that if the right people were placed into positions of power they would address all of my concerns. We have now had several complete changes of the power structure at the Federal level. With each change we are assured that the newcomers have a vastly different view of good government, that they will make it work better, and that they will fix all of the wrongs that are troubling us. Despite all of that campaign rhetoric and hyperbola, things just seem to go from bad to worse.

I went to a "Tea Party" event last Sunday afternoon. I do not think that (given our entrenched two party system) either a third party or a large number of Independents would succeed in cleaning up the mess. I have been converted to the extent of advocating that our only hope is to dump them all and to restart the system.

Do you suppose that "CTRL+ALT+DELETE" will work to shut down the political machine and restart the Federal Government?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Flower Watching

This last (Easter) weekend Donna & I were blessed to have each of our four children along with their complete families and/or significant others spend portions of the Holiday with us. We arranged to get all of our progeny together for a photo shoot. The group assembled at a local portion of the Cleveland Metro-park know as "The Music Mound". We took photos with three different cameras resulting in several very nice shots. Loren and his spouse Jennifer had their wedding at this same spot nearly 15 years ago so it was of special significance to them. The group also gathered together at a local restaurant on Saturday evening for a belated celebration of Damon's March Birthday.

I really enjoyed seeing all of the trees budding out and many of the fruit trees coming into bloom. Being out seeing this spring wonder reminded me of our years in Japan and in the Washington, DC area. In both of these venues we were fortunate to enjoy the annual blooming of the cherry trees.

In Japan enjoying the cherry trees, is of such significance that it is considered a time of national celebration and is know as Hanami i.e., "Flower Watching", or frequently O'Hanami. In the Nipponese (Japanese) language the addition a "honorific O'" prefix at the beginning of a term is a way of showing an especially high level of respect or honor to that object or individual.

The timing of the Cherry trees bloom is carefully monitored throughout the nation. The prime time to celebrate at every conceivable location is predicted. On the optimum days entire families gather together at the best nearby location to enjoy the absolutely stunning beauty of the Cherry Blossoms. These gatherings are normally at parks or temples. This is not viewing a tree here and a tree there...it is rows and rows of trees in FULL blooming glory. You look up, and in some areas you can't even see the sky because of the sheer number of light pink petals budding from every part of every branch. Looking beyond where you are standing, the horizon will be covered in PINK! It is breathtaking, I've never seen anything comparable. Those fortunate enough to experience this soon understand why the Japanese make such a big fuss over 'flower watching'---this is worth it!

Sakura (cherry blossoms)
You may recognize this from the opening stanza of Bon Jovi's Tokyo Road.
The freely translated Lyrics would be sometime like this


Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
On Meadow-hills and mountains
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the morning sun.
Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Flowers in full bloom.

Cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms,
Across the Spring sky,
As far as you can see.
Is it a mist, or clouds?
Fragrant in the air.
Come now, come,
Let’s look, at last!

Typically it seems as though about 10,000 other people have decided to go to the park on the same day. So you look up to see the flowers covering the view of the sky---you look down and see thousands of people covering the grass. In some parts the green of the grass can't be see at all. Every patch is taken by people on "leisure mats" (picnic blankets), "O'bentos" (boxed lunches), lots of alcohol (This is one BIG party), snacks, kids, and pets. Amongst all of this there are people on bikes, maneuvering their way around the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds.

Last year when thinking upon the cherry blossom season I prepared a letterbox which is now one of my seasonal garden boxes. After getting home from church Sunday I placed this box (Hanami) out for letterboxers to find and withdrew the Groundhog and St. Patrick day boxes until next year.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

I Scream


I Scream, You Scream, we all scream for ICE CREAM !!

Yep, it is now official. I now know for certain that winter is over and summer is coming soon.

Hearing a strange noise, I looked out the window to find that one of the primary vanguards of spring arrived in our neighborhood today.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Easter



Those of you who consider yourselves members of the Christian faith, and who at least occasionally attend church, have probably been to at least one Easter Service. Even those of other faiths are likely to have heard some form of what is referred to as the Paschal greeting. This is an Easter custom practiced by many Catholic and Protestant Christians. Following this tradition, instead of "hello" or its equivalent, on Easter morning one is to greet another person with some derivative of "Christ is Risen!" or "He is Risen", with a response such as "Truly, He is Risen" or "Indeed He is Risen". In some cultures, e.g., in Russia, it is also customary to exchange a triple kiss (signifying the trinity) on alternating cheeks after the greeting. We have a large Polish population near my home as well as family members who have married into Polish traditions. For their benefit I will include that according to the internet in that tongue this greeting is "Khristus Zmartvikstau! Zaiste Zmartvikstau!"


This year the American Family Association had Easter buttons available for purchase. These have the inscription: Easter Means: HE LIVES

This is important to me as I witness continuing secularization of Easter in the same manner as most Christian Holidays. A Google search would cause one to believe that Easter was about flowers, spring, pretty dresses, new suits, hats, baby chicks and bunnies, butterflies, brightly colored eggs, etc., and etc. I have enjoyed many if not all of these symbols over the years. An Easter egg hunt with my Grandchildren is a lot of fun. I am a foody and enjoy any holiday feast. This is a good occasion for a family gathering. Yet the idea that it is a celebration of Christ rising from the grave, thereby fulfilling His promised role of saving the world, is clearly lost on most of our population.

I recall when we all talked about "Easter Break" from school. This term has now been replaced in public schools by the politically correct "Spring Break", we wouldn't dare to say "Easter" in today's on so sterile learning environment. I don't understand why schools are allowed to teach about witchcraft but not Christianity!

Particularly annoying to me is the somewhat vague concept of a rabbit hopping around a yard laying colored eggs in order for children to have a treasure hunt. First there are the complications associated with giving one of these over-breeding mammals access to my home to preform it's magic on those frequent occasions when the weather prohibits an outside "Egg Hunt". Then there is the notion of a rabbit laying eggs, I wonder what sort of dark twisted mind originated that concept! I could go on and on.

An interesting perspective on these buttons came from my Pastor during discussions over lunch last week. Primarily he liked the emphasis on "He Lives" rather than on "Easter" because the resurrection of Christ is the true meaning and importance of the occasion being celebrated. His thoughts as I understand them were also swayed by two other factors.

The date of our traditional Easter is probably more closely aligned with the actual event celebrated than is that of most annual Christian celebrations. However, the date calculation has often been in disputed and has been altered several times. It is still reckoned differently by some branches and segments of the faith. It is not the date that we should be celebrating, but the miracle of Christ rising from the dead.

The manner in which Easter has been celebrated is clearly an amalgamation of Judaic, Neopagan, Wicca, and pagan customs many of which predate Christ. Most of these symbols and customs (see the partial list in para 3) were incorporated in early rituals to make Christianity, as a the new religion, more familiar and acceptable to the people being reached.

May the joy and blessings of this occasion be a light to enjoy as you and yours gather and celebrate. I pray that you have accepted or will accept this marvelous gift that God has prepared for all.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wrapping it up - A lament

It has been a crazy week. On Sunday Donna made the last minute decision that she would go to visit with our son Loren in Delaware for the week. I took her to the airport at noon Monday and have been living the carefree life of an over-the-hill bachelor ever since. For the most part it has been a pretty good week except that Jason (#2 son) and I have been sharing the duties involved in keeping the dog from destroying our house with puddles and poo. I am not keen on having a dog in the house to begin with but that is another story. The big problem at present is that I do not relish going up and down stairs to let her in and out.

I have tried to get out-and-about and have succeeded to some degree. But then flex (i.e., spring) was rudely interrupted as the pendulum of the seasons gave winter one last swan-song. Wednesday was cold and rainy, Thursday was worse as Winter wrapped-up it's year by giving us more s░░w last night and this morning.

About 2 inches of that cool white H²O derivative were discovered to be on the ground upon waking today. The journeys of the day consisted of bending our Pastor's ear over lunch followed by an hour of complaining to my shrink. It is nice to share and vent but, Oh how I want winter to be over!!!

I did receive reports that three letterboxers located several of my boxes last weekend. I guess The boxers are stirring from there long winters nap. Next week I will have to put Hanami (my cherry blossom box) out and remove Berea Bart (the groundhog box) as well as Patty Bear (St. Patrick's day) until next year.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Flexing at Lemmy's with Payton

I no longer have either the strength or energy to attempt a decent Spring. Therefor I have now resorted to referring to the celebration of the Vernal Equinox as flex rather than spring. I have been flexing a little over the last few days.

First on Thursday I actually accomplished something that I had not done since September. I went out and started looking for some nearby letterboxes. The woods and trails are still pretty wet so I wasn't able to reach the several that I tried. Friday I had better luck with a drive-by box. I had a meeting scheduled at the Church where "Archers Homeschooling" is located. I left the house early and managed to locate and stamp into that box prior to my appointment. For icing on the cake a hitchhiker had been languishing there in hiding for several months.

Our daughter is currently living north of Detroit with her spouse and children. Her husband's family, who live much closer to them than we do, frequently take one or both of our mutual grandchildren for a day or two. In midweek we received a call stating that they would be keeping Payton this weekend and asking if we would like to meet them for lunch in Sandusky on Saturday to share time with them and Payton. We planned to connect outside of town around 12:30.

Today (Saturday) Donna asked me if there were any letterboxes that we could look for in that area. I checked and became intrigued by a listing for "Lunchtime with LEMmy". In addition to other information the clue states:

At the tables there is a brochure explaining the story behind LEMmy. It seems like every big lake has a sea monster. Lake Erie is no exception. The story tells of LEMmy's (Lake Erie Monster) capture. Somehow the owners of the restaurant came in possession of her. She is kept in the basement.
Kids are asked if they want to feed her. They are given slices of raw potato to throw down the basement stairs. It's dark down there, so you really don't see her. And the basement door is shut quickly so she won't escape.
After a few minutes there is a loud thumping coming through the restaurant floor! It's LEMmy enjoying her potatoes. She's wagging her tail!

That nailed it, upon hearing the story the in-laws agreed, that's where we would have lunch. I can not imagine a better place to eat with a young man who is nearly seven. Well it turned out to be a great choice even though the letterbox was not available today. We all ordered our meals then Payton was given a LEMmy place mat to color while we waited. The meal arrived and the server told Payton that only after he had eaten all of his Pancake breakfast (with the pancake in the shape of a sea serpent) would he be permitted to feed LEMmy. For the first time in my recollection Payton finished his meal ahead of all the rest of us. When the Potato slices were tossed down the dark stairs a guttural roar was heard throughout the building which sent Payton scurrying back into Grandma's lap. This was followed by loud pounding from the cellar as LEMmy's tail wagged in appreciation of Payton's offering.

The remainder of the afternoon was spent driving along Ceder Point and drooling at the fine homes. It was a very pleasant day even if I can't Spring, I did enjoy flexing with family.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Everbody is Irish Today

An Irish Blog would be incomplete without a Limerick so here is my own personal one dedicated to Donna, my love, my life, and my bride of 44 years.

There is a certain letterboxer from Berea,
Who fell in love with a girl in Eritria.
He asked, Will You be Mine?
She replied, Suits Me Fine!
Hence four joyful decades with Donna Maria.

Yes here it is St. Patrick's day, the day when it seems that everyone is at least a teensy weensy bit Irish.

St. Patrick was born in Britain during the fourth century to very wealthy parents as Maewyn Succat. He was kidnapped by Irish raiders at the age of sixteen, sold into slavery,and forced to work as a shepherd in Ireland's County Mayo. One night he had a dream of escaping the following day and returning home. The next day he did just that, traveling 200 miles back home to Britain. Back home he had a second dream, this time it was of an Angel instructing him to become a priest, return to Ireland as a missionary, and spread Christianity. During the next fifteen years he entered training, became a priest, and choose Patrick as his Christian Saint name.

In 432 AD he went back to Ireland as a priest attempting to convert the Irish people to Christianity from their pagan polytheistic religion which worshiped the sun and the moon. He created and taught at many schools along Ireland's west coast. One of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to illustrate the Holy Trinity. After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word he died on March 17th 461 AD. Shortly after his death the country of Ireland elected to remember his death with a day of his own and thus St. Patrick's Day was born.

Originally Saint Patrick's Day was celebrated as a simple feast day, but then it evolved into a holy day of obligation where people would attend mass in the morning then celebrate for the rest of the day. During the Middle Ages, shops would close for the whole day as the celebration became longer and more enthusiastic. It was also during this time that St. Patrick's Day became a one-day reprieve from the forty days of fasting and abstinence required by the season of Lent, which eventually resulted in a tradition of heavy drinking of ale and other beer products. Patrick's Day later became a public holiday in 1903. Later after drinking became too out of hand, the law required that pubs be closed on 17 March, a provision which was repealed in the 1970s.In the mid-1990s that the Irish government recognizing it's potential value began a campaign using Saint Patrick's Day to showcase Ireland and its culture. They set up a group called St. Patrick's Festival with these objectives:
  • To offer a national festival promoting excitement throughout Ireland via innovation, creativity, grassroots involvement, and marketing activity.
  • To provide the opportunity and motivation for people of Irish descent, (and those who sometimes wish they were Irish) to attend and join in the imaginative and expressive celebrations.
  • To project an accurate image of Ireland as a creative, professional and sophisticated country with wide appeal, as we approach the new millennium.
The first Saint Patrick's Festival was held on 17 March 1996. By 2009 over 675,000 people attended the parade. Overall last year's five day festival saw close to one million visitors that took part in the festivities that included concerts, outdoor theater performances, and fireworks.

Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-colored clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, usually affectionately. Of course many follow the honored Irish example by drinking plenty of beer.

Some examples of modern American celebrations include:
  • Seattle and other cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green.
  • Chicago dyes its river green with forty pounds of dye, the color lasts for several hours.
  • Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green.
  • Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green.
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology alumni paint 12 city blocks Kelly green with mops before the annual parade.
  • New York's Chadakoin River in Jamestown, a source for Chautauqua Lake, is dyed green yearly.
Locally Cleveland's St. Patrick's day celebration is one of the city's largest and best attended annual events. The colorful parade which has occurred each year since 1867 is the largest in Ohio and one of the largest in the nation. Everyone of prominence in the community participates whether they are Irish, Scottish, Polish, Chinese or what have you. You are likely to find Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and who knows what. People of every Origin, Religion, and Race will be Irish for a day. No one with political aspirations would dare to miss appearing in the parade.

Then there is the partying after the Parade green bear and all. Although not authentic to Ireland, no American St. Patrick's Day celebration would be complete without corned beef and Cleveland serves some of the best. Try Slyman's Restaurant on E 31st St and St. Clair. They start at 6am with corned beef and eggs and move right into Reubens and stacked high corned beef sandwiches for lunch. It is quite a day here.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Chilly Chili Event

It was a chilly church chili cook off for me. I entered a toned down version of my favorite chili recipe in the annual church cook off. This event is a fund raiser for our missions program with all of the proceeds this year going to Haitian relief efforts. Several of those present told me that they loved and voted for my concoction, however they were in the minority. No prizes for me this year.

I normally make a very hot and spicy chili. You may remember the biblical story of Esau returning from a hunt and immediately wanting a bowl of the perpetual stew which was simmering in the kitchen. This was initially refused but he was served after stating that he would trade his birthright as the eldest son for a bowl of it. He soon regretted this impetuous act as his inheritance then passed to his brother Jacob. Chili peppers were unknown in the mid east at that time. However, due in large part to the prservative qualities which they possess, today they are a staple item through out the world in stews and similar dishes.

In a somewhat strange, twisted, and distorted manner I have made an attempted at an oblique reference or allusion to this tale when I refer to my potent chili as Esau's revenge. The brew that I served up Sunday used only about half of the spice incorporated in the revenge version and was not particularly hot but it was on the spicy side. Obviously it was still too potent for many in attendance. Those Nazarene folks are just not ready for me yet.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

69 Baby

This has been one of my better weeks. Recently my Cardiologist decided to alter my meds. One of the changes was to reduce the frequency of taking one of my water pills to once a day. Now I don't take either of the two remaining diuretics in the evening which eliminates the uncontrollable urge to visit the john at two in the morning. Then I recently paid a visit to my sleep doctor - I wonder why this group hasn't coined some fancy Latin phrase to Identify themselves? At our previous meeting he gave me a prescription for Gabapentin which is used for neuropathic pain, restless leg syndrome, and to deepen sleep, all of which apply to me. It is also used during treatment for drug withdraw, migraine headaches, MS, and various mental health conditions. Although this stuff sounds like it can do just about anything I saw no noticeable effects while on the minimum dosage he had first prescribed. On this last visit he doubled the dosage. Wow, what a difference these two changes have made! This old man is now sleeping through the night like a 69 year old baby.

This morning I went searching through my stuff to find Patty Bear, my seasonal St. Patrick's Day letter box which I will put out this morning. While digging for it I found 3 full sheets of Grade A white PZ cut. I have not cut a new stamp for months now, so at that rate these should last for years. For you non letter boxers (Noxers) out there this no longer available stuff was considered by many (including me) to be the best stamp carving material on the planet. So having already discovered my own pot of gold today I have changed the "Skin" on this blog to the St. Patrick's day theme.

We have had three warm days in a row which has melted all of the snow. Yesterday I started my Chili for the cook off at Church on Sunday and today we have a Birthday Party to attend (Political Fund Raiser). That pretty well sums up our week.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

A tale of two weeks

Last week was rather uneventful for me. The snow is beginning to melt so I can't complain about that. I saw my cardiologist and came away with a fairly good report from him. The same with my sleep doctor, and my analyst didn't get on my case about anything in particular.

Then there was the good news that my grandson had lost another tooth, it was a front one and he didn't swallow it this time which makes it much easier for the tooth fairy to recover it. I asked my daughter Ellisa if he whistles when he talks but she hasn't yet given an answer.

While speaking of teeth I was shocked and saddened when I received the bad news that our dentist, Dr. Frank D'Amico, passed away suddenly after a very brief illness. I had seen him in early February and saw no indication of anything wrong. I know that many of you would not mourn for your dentist but this fellow was like family. When he left the dental practice where we first used him we could not follow because of insurance issues. Many years later he picked me out of the crowd in an airport. He walked up and started a conversation as you would with a long lost college room mate. He inquired about each of my family recalling details that I had almost forgotten.

After chatting awhile he asked who we were now seeing for our dental work. When I responded that we did not have a regular dentist he slipped me his card. So about 5 years ago we began using him again as our family dentist. Each time we would visit he had to be updated on the family. In addition he performed in a very professional and carrying manner. He was available at the drop of a hat for emergencies even to the extent of deferring or canceling his own plans. He also gave us the same discounted military rate we had received at the practice where we had first used him which minimized our out of pocket expense. He was a Michigan State Alumni and fan who was stuck in Ohio. He seemed to enjoy the banter at the end of our visits when I would tease him with some Ohio State remark. If holistic dentistry practice were an Olympic event he would be standing at the top of the podium with his gold medal. Wow!! We will really miss him !!

So this week I am looking ahead to next Sunday's Chili Cook off at church. Donna has entered me as a competitor so I have to settle on which of my recipes to use. I like it hot and spicy. I toned it down some for last years cook off. It was still a bit too strong for the taste of some, yet I landed in second place. I will try to kick the spices down a little bit more for this year, but not too much - who wants weakly flavored chili !!

Then next week we have St. Patrick's day. I am thinking of baking some cookies appropriate to this Irish festival and taking them to church Sunday. We shall see. It is time to put Patty Bear, (another of my seasonal letterboxes) out to be found be those who are being encouraged by the warmer weather.

I am also beginning to consider what I might do to the blog for Easter this year. I have a couple of ideas to try out.