Wednesday, December 31, 2008

WALT SPENT TWO DAYS IN THE STIR: No, not jail!

Truly, I did spend two days in the stir. I put my apple butter in the oven to cook down Sunday evening at 6:30PM. I put it in the jars at 3:30AM on Tuesday. In the interval I stired it every hour. I'm whipped! I had 28 jars, more than enough for the family. I took two cases of apple butter and a case and a half of strawberry jam to the family Chiristmas gathering and told them to enjoy. I'm sure they will.

The apple butter was a disapointment this year. My mother, bless her memory, was known for her apple butter. We lost her in 1983 but I've kept her apple butter recipe alive. Sweet, rich with spices and hot from liberal amounts of cinnamon oil. When the family makes apple butter together adding the oil is a big thing. Kimberly carefully adds it drop by drop until an ad hoc committee decides it is hot enough.

In past years I have taken a couple cases of apple butter to church. Although taken aback, everyone claimed to love it. The way they finagled to get an extra jar I tend to believe them. That would not be the case this year.

I bought two bottles of oil of cinnamon. One would be more than enough but it is quite cheap so I just took an extra bottle. When the apple butter was cooked down sufficiently I added the spices: allspice, ground cloves and liberal amounts of cinnamon--all freshly ground. Then I started to drop in the oil of cinnamon.

Drop by drop, at first, I could discern no change in the apple butter. I ended up putting all of one bottle and half of another without getting any heat added to the flavor and too strong with cinnamon flavor. I messed around with that apple butter until I actually cooked it down a wee bit too much. I had broke the seals on those bottles of oil of cinnamon so it was fresh. I purchased it where I have been buying it for years.

What a dissapointment for the children. Oh well, they'll like the strawberry jam. Julie and I had some of the apple butter on toast for breakfast. It is edible.

Things always work out for the good guys, however. I'm going to make a second stirring for Julie and I and for friends. Will I taste the oil of cinnamon when I buy it? You bet! I can't wait.

Proverbs 13:19 - "A longing fullfilled is sweet to the soul"

God Bless!

Monday, December 29, 2008

TEMPUS FUGIT - It really does, dosen't it?

It is difficult to believe that it has been a week since I have last written in my blog. Truly, time does flee. Between an agressive struggle to regain strength and vigor and all the excitement of the Christmas season, last week is just a blur.

Good news from the therapist today. The insert in my right shoe to correct my hip being out of alignment has worked wonders. Most of my pain has gone, but not entirely. It may be that extending my right leg with the lift has effected my right knee. They took a wait-and-see attitude regarding the knee.

The physical therapy to improve strength was again brutal. Several new exercises were used including the large ball procedure. Two new exercises were added to those which I am already doing. Quite exciting, I am now to start walking around the block. That may not seem like much but from where I have been it is a challenge.

Most exciting of all, time on my trike has been extended to 20 minutes, or whatever I am reasonably comfortable with, three-times-a-day for the next week. That will make me riding for an hour or about a fourth of what I will need to ride 10 weeks from now. Consider the weekly improvement from 20 minutes a day, to 45 minutes a day, to 60 minutes a day, plus.

San Diego on March 15th or bust! Yea!

Wishin' you not a pot of gold...but all the joy your heart can hold!

God Bless!

Monday, December 22, 2008

SCOOTIE-POOTIN WITH WALT: "the wheels on the trike go round and round"

Today was the first of my Once-a-Week Therapy Sessions. It was very productive. My muscles are all quite sore from the prescribed exercises to increase strength. Also, my knees are sore from an exercise where I put my back and feet against the wall and slide down until my legs are a 90 degree angle at the knee.

The therapist changed the position of the feet to about two feet out from the wall with my feet angled outward from heel to toe. That small change eliminated the knee pain but still stressed the muscles as desired.

The excercise of stretching the thera-band downward to my sides hurts the torn rotor cup in my right shoulder. That exercise was discontinued. My daily exercise routine has now been extended beyond an hour with three additional exercises.

The therapist had me discribe my weekend: To church, to dinner and to Sam's. I was unable to walk from the front of Sam's back to the discount rack due to pain in my right hip and thigh.

The therapist put me on a treadmill and watched me walk. After a couple minutes the pain was a 2 to 4 on a scale of 1-10. This had been better last week when I walked for 10 minutes relatively pain free. He then had me bend forward from the waist and continue to walk. The pain decreased markedly. He said that bending over increased the "hole" through which the irritated nerve passes. Bigger hole, less pain! Makes sense to me.

Then he called in the "walking expert" of the firm. I walked for them for another 10 minutes with my hips disrobed. YES, IT HURT! The walking specialist then took me to a table and examined my hips, knees, ankles and leg motions. He then measured my legs. Upshot? My right leg is a quarter to a half inch shorter than my left which is resulting in injury to my hip, probably a result of my adjusting to the pinched disc, which is now improved.

To correct this disparity in leg length they put a lift inside the heel of my right shoe. I was then shown a new walking technique to affect the "bigger hole"relief. Pretty simple, I have to retrain myself to walk differently.

They want me to keep my belly button sucked in all the time, walking very upright with a slight reverse arch in my rear, lower back. Head up, shoulders back, gut in! Back to Boot Camp, huh?

We then talked about my riding the trike on the trainer. Physically, I can ride the trike for five minutes four times alright. Changing shoes and sox, clicking in the pedals, riding the trike for only five minutes, unclicking, rechanging shoes and sox four times a day is a nuisance. Also, riding the trainer like one who is riding only for physical conditioning and like one who is riding in preparation for an event can be two different exercises. There is really a big difference.

As a purely physical exercise one rides continuously. In reality, on my trike, I'd rarely pedal continously for 10 minutes unless I was climbing a hill. Instead I ride and coast. Get up to 15MPH and coast down to 10MPH, average 12.5MPH. Do that for 4 hours and travel the desired 50 miles per day while keeping exertion to a minimum.

I will change to riding the way I will be riding on my trip. Pedal and coast. I will also increase the session from 5 minutes to 15 minutes and reduce the frequency from 4 times a day to only 3 times a day.

So, this week I will be on the trike for 45 minutes a day instead of 20. A long way from the planned 270 minutes a day, but another step in the right direction. In fact. riding for 15 minutes is half way there as on the trip I will be stopping every half hour or so to stretch.

My work is cut out for me this week. Forty-five minutes each day on the trike along with over an hour of strength building exercises. Looking up! March 15th I'm getting ready for you. Yea!

Next assessment a week from today. I'm looking forward to it.

"Oh, the wheels on the trike go round and round, round and round, round and round"

God bless us, everyone!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

IS THERE A MASTER PLAN II: Wadda-u-think?

Every day is a good day! Even the bad days seem to have some saving grace. Yes, it is true. Navy lost to Wake Forest 29-19 to start the BCS bowl games.

But, today I commence the "Master's Plan" to get me in shape for my upcoming cross country trike ride. Yea!

Just making a cross country trip on a trike is a challenge. But when I announced my plan to my dinner group, my friend, John Murphy--another good old Irish boy--said, "Don't just do the ride, Walt, do the ride to help something you believe in".

That's how the decision was made to ride the 3,000 miles as a "Charity Ride". I would ride for pennies-per-mile to raise funds to reinovate the sanctuary of the little, white and historic UMC church which I attend. The plan is to seek pledges from friends, neighbors and businesses for support. All costs will be donated and all support staff will be volunteers.

One of the volunteer support staff, Kathy Hatfield, will solicit pledges from the twenty or so United Methodist Churches in the Canal District. The Church of the Master UMC in Akron has already made and paid their pledge of over three cents per mile, ($100).

A month or so ago I complied with a plea for articles on outreach for possible publication in the winter edition of The Interpreter, the UMC magazine. I submitted two articles, one on our Jug Band and another on my upcoming Charity Ride. I do not think for one minute that it was "luck" that the article on the charity ride was chosen to be published. This article will most effectively put my fund rasing attempt before the district pastors without any costs. Great!

Then, this past week I received a call from a lady by the name of Iolene from Canal District Headquarters. It seems as how there is going to be a party for the District Leaders and Pastors on January 17th at the local Johnson United Methodist Church. I was invited to provide the party with a dance program to include square dancing. By faith I accepted the invitation. There is one thing for certain about my program. In addition to a 'Husband Calling Contest' there will be commercial breaks. What commercial you may ask? What else, my charity bike ride.

You might believe it was luck, maybe brought on by a couple of lucky rabbit feet, getting my request before the leaders of the churches in the district by a third party and also in person. I cannot say you are wrong, for your belief. As for me, I assure you, these two opportunites are just part of "The Master's Plan". Praise God from whom all mercies flow!

Proverbs 3:6
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths".

God Bless!

Friday, December 19, 2008

IS THERE A MASTER PLAN? Maybe!

There was a serious ice storm this morning. Our back deck was a sheet of ice, very slippery. As we are back to one car, (I'll get a battery for the van today), I had to take Julie to work and use the Lincoln to go to therapy. As I slip and slid into the therapist, the parking lot was mostly empty as was the office. Even the associate therapists hadn't made it in. But I was there, so was Vince, the chief therapist and Josh his #1 assistant.

Josh reviewed my week. He put me through the standard exercises, sitting on the edge of a chair, twist left 20 times for 2 sets, still sitting on the chair bend forward slowly extending my hands and arms down and back under the chair 5 time for three sets, then repeat the twists. Then the ususal walk, describing the pain. It was nil.

Recalling that I plan to start my cross country trike ride 10 weeks from next Monday, Vince told Josh to concentrate seriously on strength development. For a bit over an hour I was put on this machine and that machine, I did excercises using muscles I don't think have ever been disturbed. It was brutal! Something like two-a-days in preseason football practices. At last, the-end-of-the-session review with Vince which would normally have been it for the day.

Vince told Josh, to put me through another session of strength development. All new bends, twists and stretches. I walked on tread mills, rode recumbent trikes and extended my body over this and that equipment. After 45 minutes or so Josh took me back to Vince for a second review. Clearly Josh thought he had sufficiently put me through the wringer. Then Vince said a curious thing.

Vince said what I had been through would have been more than enough for the average person but, he said, Walt is an athlete. Put him through another session. I think we can have him ready for his upcoming cross country ride. Wow! I immediately got on an emotional high. In my youth I was an athelete but that was 60 years ago. By anyone's yardstick today, however, I am an old man! Back to the strength sessions for a third time. Talk about two-a-days! A remembered love-hate relationship with a lot of pride mixed in!

I am now on a once-a-week appointment schedule, probably will be until I depart for California. They sent me home with the most indepth instructions this week for once-a-day, at least an hour in length, excercises. I am also to ride my trike at least 5 minutes, 4 times a day. Six weeks of this regimin and I will not be the same man I was before my back was injured in September. And all under the eyes of a professional trainer, if you will. Wow Again!

It goes without saying that when I got home I was beat. Two hours later I hit the vicodin to get me through the pain. I bet I sleep well tonight and tomorrow's another day. UP & AT'EM!

Vince Lombardi:
"The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his commitment........"

God Bless!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

TODAY I WARMED AND FED JESUS: I am blessed!

Matthew 25:40 "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my children ye have done it unto me".

At breakfast this morning, as per usual, Julie gave me my orders for the day. Today it was "Mail the package to Cookie" and go to Office Max and buy ink for the printer and get out the letters on the upcoming progressive dinner. Yes Mam! Right away, mam!

She also said she didn't know what it would cost to mail the package but she thought I was running low on pocket money so I should go to the bank and get a couple hundred. Well, I hate going to the bank and I assured her I had sufficient funds until she could get to the bank for me. An act of laziness I would live to regret!

Knowing me as well as she does, and being the control freak that she is, she called at 2:00PM to see if I had done my chores. Uh, I was just getting ready to leave dearido. Um, sure. At 3:00PM I headed for the post office and mailed the package for $4.85 postage. Then I headed for Office Max.

At the Barber Road entrance to I76 West was a lone hitch hiker with a pack. The temperature was 24 degrees. He had on a thin coat, no hat, no gloves and looked frozen. My heart was touched and I pulled over. I searched my pockets for gloves to give him but had none.

I'm having battery troubles and wasn't running the heater for these short hops. I had the van in the shop and the alternator was okay. The battery was installed last March and Julie insisted there was nothing wrong with the battery. I learned last night that the battery was installed by her son last March but he had bought it "used" from a junk yard. HMMM! I turned on the heater to thaw the poor guy out.

The hiker was 50 years of age, my children's age. He was an unemployed construction worker from Florida trying to get home to Nebraska. He asked if I had been in the miltary near San Antoine, TX. He said his grandfather owned and operated the barbeque near the main gate of the base.

Now, I will get fussed at for picking up a hitchhiker. But I have been a hitchhiker all my life. When I was in the navy I crossed the USA thumbing more times than I can recall. I still hitch hike when I am backpacking. A few years ago, on a trip down the Ohio River in a canoe, I became "wind bound" 16 miles from my brother's home. I got permission from a Mr. Rouse at Mason, WV to leave my canoe and gear at his home and commenced to hitch hike down Route 2 to Point Pleasant.

I play a game when I am hitching. I'll say to myself that car number so-and-so will stop and give me a ride. Then, I turn on my best smile and commence to count cars. That day I picked car number 25. I was up to car number 27 when a car going the opposite direction stopped, turned around and came back to give me a ride.

It was my brother's step daughter, Rita, and her two children. She fussed at me! She said "Walt Pierce, what are you doing thumbing. You're an old man, old men don't go around hitch hiking. And, besides, no one around here will pick up a hitch hiker". My answer? "Rita, Sweetie, you are wrong! I've been here only a half hour and a really pretty red head has just picked me up." It turned out that her, perhaps 5 year old son, Josh, had recognized me.

Today Mr. Meigs was cold and hungry. Darkness, the bane of hitchhikers, was only an hour or so away. I told him I wasn't going far. He asked if I could maybe take him to a gas station. I'm sure he wanted to get inside and perhaps ask for a ride with a west bound vehicle. I've done that.

I went a few miles beyond my destination to take him to the busy I76/Rt. 94 junction where there is a business strip. I asked if he was hungry to which he replied he was starved. He also said he didn't think he could eat very much. There was a McDonalds at the crossroads. I took him there and started to give him $5.00 for a sandwich. All I had was a twenty and two ones. I went to the drive through, instead, and bought him a #1 with coffee. He thanked me as he headed inside.

I went on to Office Max. When I started home the battery was dead! Oops! I waited a few minutes and cranked it again and it started, barely. I'm so lucky!

Now I am in a nice warm abode, have plenty of food, and my good companion will join me soon. We have left overs from the church "carry in" from yesterday for supper. I am so blessed. And, today I got to do something for Jesus. Wonderful!

It may seem immodest to do a good deed then tell about it. I share the story because it is such a blessing. It also makes me fully appreciate what the good Lord has provided for me and mine.

May you never find trouble,
all crowdin' and shovin'
But always good fortune--
All smilin' and lovin'.

God Bless!

SCOOTEE-POOTIN: The first ride, inside that is.

Whir, whir, whir, whir went the rotor. Round and round went the pedals. The gears adjusted to give about the right amount of resistance. The allowed five minutes flew by. I get to do that four times today.

On my upcoming cross country ride I need to ride an average of 270 minutes, 4 1/2 hours, a day. I'm a long way from there but I've started. I'm excited!

Two young men carried my trike and the trainer from the garage to my office late last night. I'm not even supposed to lift a carton of milk or move a chair. Vince, the therapist treating me for my pinched disc, said I could start riding 5 minutes at a time, four times a day.

I was so excited that I woke up at 3:30 this morning. Took a shower, did my stretches--I haven't been allowed to do that until now and that is what keeps me moving--fixed Julie a great breakfast and started spinning the pedals at 6:40AM. I can't wait for the next time about noon.

Life is good!

An old Irish Toast: May the hinges of our friendship never grow rusty!

God Bless!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

SCOOTEE-POOTIN WITH WALT: I've turned the corner!

While I was still in the throes of agony with the pinched disc in my back from carrying a heavy suitcase up three flights of stairs at the beach in September, by faith, I rescheduled my cross country trike trip to a date six weeks later. Yesterday I appear to have turned the corner toward recovery.

When I first went to the therapist I could only walk one minute, 15 seconds until my back commenced to spasm. Midway the second week I had that up to three and a half minutes. Yesterday I walked on the tread mill at 2mph, my normal pace, once for 5 minutes with no spasm and again for 10 minutes with no spasm. THAT IS REAL IMPROVEMENT!

Among the many other things which the therapist had me do, I rode their recumbent bike once for 5 minutes and again for 10 minutes. Based upon that improvement he agreed to have me start riding my trike on the inside trainer for 5 minutes, 4 times a day. As that goes well he will gradually increase my time until I am riding the required 4 hours a day. Hope springs eternal! I now go to the therapist only twice this week, and if all goes well, to once-a-week.

Please understand, I am not well. I still have restrictions: do not move a chair or lift a carton of milk; do not sit in a soft, recliner chair; do not sleep on my back and on and on. When I over do it I pay dearly for a day or so.

Friday evening I went with my dinner group to dinner and to the Canton Playhouse to see Dicken's Christmas Carol. The walk in and out of the restaurant was stressful. The walk from the parking deck, across the bridge, down the elevator, across the beautiful lobby and into the playhouse was agony. As we left, at one point, I had to ask a lady in the lobby to please let me have her chair as I was about to collaspe.

The next day, still unrecovered, I repeated the same extreme acts when my daughter and son-in-law treated Julie and I to enjoy the Christmas Musical at the beautiful Akron Civic Theater and then to dinner at the swank Crave restaurant. Sunday was a blur of pain.

That was then, this is now. I am rested. The therapist has me doing strength building as I'm out of shape, being inactive since September. I can now ride the trike some. The pastor and one of the ladies of the church made a call on me today. One of our dearest friends, Carla Ludwig, brought our dinner tonight. And, best of all, I am no longer living on vicodin. UP and AT'EM!

May your thoughts be as glad as the shamrocks
May your heart be as light as a song
May each day bring you bright, happy hours
That stay with you all the year long.

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

CORONATION DAY: I Got Crowned!

Yes, today I was crowned!

You may recall that in November I had a near "coronation day" but somehow the crown was broken. The installation of that new dental crown was anything but quick and painless. Today, however, it could not have been better. In fact, it was much easier than having my teeth cleaned prior to the installation.

As I awaited my turn for the good doctor's attention I overheard her administering to two other patients. Dr. Pommier lists herself as the "gentle" dentist. She should also list herself as the "patient" dentist. If she said "open your mouth", "please open your mouth", "open wide now" once she said it dozens of times. You could literally hear the compassion with each request. When it was my turn my first question was to ask the age of this patient. It turns out that it was a youth with a mental problem. How blessed I felt as I did my best to also smile as I kept my own mouth open.


The patient just before me was a woman. She was so cooperative. Afterwards she expressed her appreciation far better than I am able to do. She knew as I know how fortunate we are to have such a wonderful professional making our lives better with good dental care.

The subject of blogging came up with Melody, the dental assistant, who cleaned my teeth. I told her that I had blogged about the first attempt to install the crown. She complimented me on being a blogger at my age and said that the doctor wasn't a computer person but that she would make a copy of the article for her boss.

Yup! Now, that I am crowned I feel like royalty. Thanks Dr. Pommier. Thanks staff.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 "Respect those who work hard among you.....hold them in the higest regard in love because of their work."

God Bless!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

FIGURES DON'T LIE BUT LIARS FIGURE: So said Mark Twain

Perhaps no other group of individuals have ever faced the harsh reality of the way things really are than the old time River Pilots on the Mississippi River. Mark Twain knew the difference between what was said and what actually was.

I don't know if the American public has ever been so misguided in what is true and what is not true. Good people, some of my dearest friends, are completely brain washed with what they have seen on tv or read in the papers. They are misled by dishonest public figures whose misdeeds are covered up by an even more dishonest media.

A perfect example is the current rate of unemployment. It has just increased from 6.5% to 6.7%. Considering that this is about the average unemployment of the last 50 years I think it would have been far more accurate to say that "unemployment EDGED up a bit". Their bold headlines read'UNEMPLOYMENT RATE EXPLODES'. Their headlines could have honestly reported that the long term unemployment rates are still trending downward--see the 50 year unemployment chart. Such honest reporting would not justify their political bashing of the "so called" failed "Bush Economy".

The biggest problem is not that jobs are being eliminated, shipped overseas, or filled by temporary, read illegal, workers. Although jobs growth continues, far fewer jobs are being created by new or expanding companies now than there was throughout the 1990s. Not enough to compensate for the rate of modernization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics officially explain in it's quarterly report what's happening with job creation and job destruction and with the underlyng forces that create the net changes. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN HEADLINES ON THIS REPORT? Contrary to popular belief, the most recent numbers show that job cuts in the private sector have fallen to a near-15-year-low! It is still about 6.2%, thats about the national average. Why is this important? Well, because it is the lowest it has been since 1992 when the BLS startd keeping this record. HAVE YOU EVER SEEN HEADLINES ON THIS REPORT?

Yes, healthy job creation--25% higher in 1990 than in 2007--can more than make up for the cuts. This can be corrected with laws that encourage such growth. Ours are some of the most anti-business laws in the world. Our laws actually discourage growth and penalize success.

Cutting obsolete jobs is not bad! When the work force is made more efficient, economies boom and living standards for the workers improve. This is true progress. How many people today "earn their daily bread by the sweat of their brow" making buggy whips or horse shoes? Or, shall I mention, old fashioned bias tires that lasted for 12,000 miles if you were lucky? There is no way that I would want to give up my 60,000 mile radial tires to get back my Manager of Tire Production position.

As obsolete buggy whips and bias tire jobs have correctly been eliminated, so must the labor practices of annually paying an average of $62,000 to auto workers who are not working, and may not have worked for years. I am not talking about retired workers, either. Whatever the reason, the auto makers made these stupid, unsustainable contracts and now whine for help while the foreign car makers in this country are doing great.

There is a way to correct that situation. It is called Chapter 11, or reorganization. It is long overdue. THE ANSWER CANNOT BE TO MAKE THE AMERICAN PUBLIC PAY TO FURTHER SUSTAIN SUCH STUPIDITY! This blog was written to answer my therapist, Vince's, question of whether I was in favor of the auto bail out. Does this answer your question Vince? Bye-the-bye, it was nice meeting your wife--how did such a homely guy get such a good looking gal? Wonder of wonders! Vince is a miracle worker!

An Old Irish Blessing:

May your heart be light, your cares be few, and may your wishes all come true!

God Bless and Remember Pearl Harbor!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

BEST LAID PLANS OF MICE & MEN: Gang, aft agley

Famous words by Robert Burns. He was from Scotland. Another quotation says that the only two good things coming out of Scotland was single malt whiskey and the road to England. No question about that person's home land. Being of Irish descent, a close cousin of the Scots, and fellow Celts, I know you can't put any trust in what an Englishman says. None-the-less, it is true that the best laid plans of men gang, aft agley, oft go astray.

True also, in my opinion, is that "If you plan something, it may not happen but if you do not plan something it surly won't happen". And, thus it is with my plan to start my cross country trike trip on February 1, 2009. It has gone astray! But the key to good planning is to always have a contingency plan. I have that.

My back problem is worse than I wanted to believe. I have been to the therapist three times so far. I will probably require six weeks of therapy. It appears that I have a disc that is pinched on the right, outside and also in the rear. The pinch to the side is what is causing me the pain in my right leg and it must be relieved before the rear pinch can be relieved.

This weekend I am to do three reps of 20 twists to the left while sitting on the edge of a kitchen chair. I am also to do five reps of lying face down and arching my back up while on my elbows, holding for a slow count of ten. I am to do these exercises every hour! Also, I am not to use the computer, Boo!, sit in a chair, or lie on my back. Nor am I to carry anything, even a jug of milk. Thank goodness for Julie Ann!

The excruciating pain of this therapy begs discription. The stress generated by the pain is in and of itself dangerous. I am using vicodin this weekend. While taking treatments with the therapist, however, I cannot take any medication because their yardstick of correction is the extent and location of the pain.

What I am striving to do this weekend is to relieve the pain in the leg which they warned me would greatly increase the pain in the back. Although it is the way to correct the problem, at this point, it is strictly a lose-lose situation. I have appointments for every other day next week and will probably be going to the therapist beyond the new year.

The Best Laid Plans, gang, aft aglea! I must be able to spin the pedals for at least 4 hours-a-day to condition myself for this ride. And, I need to do that daily for at least six weeks before the start of the trip. The plans for the February 1 departure calls for shipping the trike six weeks from now. Do the math! I still have every intention of riding my trike cross country. I'll just use a contingency plan of doing it six weeks later.

I had planned to return from where ever I was on the trip, probably East Texas, for my grand daughter, Bethany's, wedding on March 7th. My new plans are to ship the trike on March 9th and fly to San Diego on March 14th and start the ride on March 16th. My return home will be moved up to May 20th from April 18th.

Julie will not meet me in Phoenix. Our condo, which is $1,2oo a month out-of-season is $1,200 a week in season. May is beyond the out-of-season rate period. Therefore, we probably won't spend time in Myrtle Beach. Everything has changed! Incidently, Bethany has her second book coming out soon. The cover has aready been designed. What a sweetie! All my granddaughters are sweeties!

I have informed my daughter Kimberly of the change. She has a business trip planned near my new departure date so I doubt that she can now see me off. I will notify my classmate, Maude, who lives within driving distance of San Diego. She was going to see me off. Her son-in-law, Gary is still working and he may not be able to reschedule their date. I'll understand.

I can use the extra time, quite frankly. I am pushed to get everything I need for the trike and to have it installed. My panniers should arrive Monday but I still have some items unordered. The change, however, would effect my plans for the summer if I get home much later than mid May.

I have a brand new garden tiller and plan to put in a huge garden next summer. My garden is at the families lakeside retreat. While previously spending only a couple days a week at the lake, somebody stole all the polebeans from my last garden. I want to can my next crop. Next summer I plan to live at the lake full time and work on writing the family history. I need to have my garden ready to plant Memorial Day.

Gang, aft agley? Hardly!

Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God......"

God Bless!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

THANKSGIVING '08: Kimberly and Dad

It might be said this year that my Thanksgiving was abundant. I celebrated it three times at three different homes. As previously blogged, I went to Kimberly's for Thanksgiving dinner, came home and ate left overs from Julie's dinner with her children and went to Mark's on Sunday for a 3rd Thanksgiving dinner with his family. My children, grandchhildren and great grandchildren.

Pictures were taken all around. I asked Mark to please send to me one of he and I and of his home. I asked the same of Kimberly. She responded first.

Kimberly and her family have just moved into a home which they have labored for two years in the building. It is a large home, some 8,005 square feet. They have a four car garage built into the house but there is a bridge to a free standing garage over which is Kimberly's office. She is the Executive Director of a national medical group and she works for a Board of Directors, all doctors, in Washington, DC. Officially, Kimberly's office is in Chicago but in reality she works from home.

Proverbs 22:6 "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it"

If I had written this scripture I would have added "and live before them what you are teaching them".

I am very proud of my children.

God Bless!

Monday, December 1, 2008

COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN, COMPLAIN: A bit of sunshine.

As I review my blogs of recent weeks the most constant theme is "Oh! My aching back". What can I say. It still is a struggle. I start therapy Wednesday and am optimistic of rapid improvement.

As if the back ache wasn't enough, I managed to catch Julie's cold which cost her a week of work and a trip to the doctor. Agreeing with the opinion that with a doctor you can get over a cold in a week, otherwise it takes seven days, I so far have not gone to the doctor. Still have a few days to go but am improving.

Although I am unable to ride my trike, I am still excited about making my cross country trip starting two months from today. Today was a great day! I ordered a lot of new toys.

The most important new toy was the axel for the trainer. That will allow me to ride the trike inside during this terrible weather. It is such a simple, and at only $7.95 including shipping, a most inexpensive item. Mark assures me that I can install it myself. We'll find out later in the week. It would, of course, be better to actually ride up hills but with the trainer I can simulate doing just that. (Thanks Mark)

The most fun to order was my two new panniers. My son recommended Arkel panniers. He owns two complete sets. Arkel makes a T60 pannier specifically for recumbent trikes. Against Todd's advice, I did not order that pannier. I ordered the slightly smaller (3,660 vs 3,300) T54 panniers. From lessons learned in back packing, I will probably carry a bit less weight than Todd does so the size will not be important. The panniers he recommended, for the most part, are big, open bags while the bags I ordered has no less than 16 separate pockets. I like that.

Crossing the southwest deserts will probably be hot and dry but Texas, the coastal states and Florida will have it's share of rainy days. Therefore, I ordered rain covers for both bags. In addition to when it is raining they will keep my bags clean on the wet roads following the rains. No small thing is their bright, yellow color. Being seen by traffic is very important.

On the T54 panniers are two tube shapped bags. One is for my sleeping mattress. They make a small, water proof bag specifically for the mattress. With the mattress in this bag it will make it easy to put the matress in the tube and give me a dry bed. An important consideration.

Utah Recumbent Bike Shoppe makes a small commuter bag specifically for a Terra Trike. It fits neatly in the unused space under and right behind the seat. It has holders for two water bottles and I'll probably use it for my pump, tools and spare tubes. Duh, I may have a few flats! I hope it is a few. HaHa.

Last, but most exciting of all, I ordered my maps from the Adventure Cycling Association. I have wanted those maps so badly. I have put off ordering them hoping that they will be fully updated with all the many changes. Don't know that this will be true. Although it wasn't quite due yet, I also paid my dues and renewed my ACA membership.Boaters always whine that "A boat is a hole in the water into which you pour money" and as a man who owns four boats, I agree that's the truth. A boat by no stretch of the imagination, however, compares to the cost of a bicycle. Julie and I once took an $8,000 cruise. The cost of that cruise and this crossing will be comparable. Of course it was only a ten day cruise and this will be nearly a three month event. The luxury level "may" also be a bit different!

If one thinks, however, that a person just gets on a bike and spins the pedals for free: Stinking Thinking! Doesn't use any gasoline but there are costs. Julie makes my phone calls and I tallied up the costs as she placed the orders today. The bottom line on just this one of many orders was $651.20. That figure will not be a suprise to any bikers. And, while this total may seem insignificant to someone still working, coming from retirement income it represents real money. Thanks to the Good Lord, and 43 years of dedicated work, it is doable.

An old Irish Blessing:

Sure and,
May you have the joy that's due you,
May the years be gracious to you,
May a blue sky smile above you,
and may the Lord have mercy on you.


God Bless!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

WISE OLD MEN AND OWLS: Encouragement from old friends

Happy Thanksgiving!

Today is a day of thanksgiving and I have many things for which to be thankful. Two that come to mind this morning are emails from two high school classmates of the Class of '48. Both were messages of encouragement which is just what I need as I struggle getting physically fit to ride my trike cross country in two months.

The first in the form of a cartoon came from a friend in California. Maude only lived one year in my hometown and I'm sure it was an arrangement made in heaven. No, it was not a romantic memory. It was far more important than a teenage fling. The Class of '48 was blessed with an 80 year old, as I remember, English teacher. Miss Mary McCullough who came from a family of early settlers in what was then Virginia. She had never married and she was an excellent teacher. Sadly, I was not her best student. But, I had a friend, Maude, who was an excellent student. Maude supplied me with my book reports in senior english.

As we reminisced last summer at our 60th high school reunion, Maude recalled the time she got a 'B' on a her report on Florence Nightingale, the Angel of the Crimea which I recopied and was awarded an 'A plus'. I am sure Miss Mary was very kind to me, as were all my teachers, but I suspect it had more to do with giving the oral report. Coming from a long line of Irish story tellers, who never let the truth get in the way of a good story, I may have "enhanced" the story a bit more than Maude.

Maude is still carrying me on her shoulders! She sent me an email with a report on O W L S! For all we poor students, O W L S stands for OLDER WISER LAUGHING SOULS. Good report, Maude. On Miss Mary's account I belatedly award you an A plus. Thanks! Maude lives within driving distance of my cross country trike departure point and will come to San Diego, along with her daughter Barbie and son-in-law Gary, to join others in giving me a proper send-off.

One of the truly lovely persons, in all ways, in the Class of '48 was Dottie Thomas, now Dottie Campbell. She is still a small and lovely person with a kind personality. She sent me two emails on Thanksgiving. My favorite said: I can choose. I can spend my day in bed enumerating all the difficulities that I have with all the parts of my body that no longer work well, or I can get up and give thanks to heaven for those parts that are still working.

How apropos! Striving to condition myself for my upcoming physical endeavor I am handicapped with a low back muscle strain. It is so simple to stay in bed, take a vicoden and feel sorry for myself. But, it is also as simple as "No Pain No Gain". Dottie's email reminds me that the choice is mine. I choose to give thanks to heaven and work at the problem!

Further, Dottie shared Five Simple Guide Lines for Happiness: 1) Free your mind from hate. 2) Free your mind from worry. 3) Live Simple. 4) Give more. 5) Expect less.

Phillippians 3:14 "I Press on towards the goal to win the prize............"

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

THE HOBBLE FOR GOBBLE: Big pie day for Walt!

Tomorrow, all through the house I'll "Hobble, Hobble, Hobble" because the next day is the day for "Gobble, Gobble, Gobble"! Several families will be looking for pies baked by Walt.

Julie and I are going separate ways this Thanksgiving. We didn't plan it that way but the planned dinner for her children had to be rescheduled due to untimely remodeling at her daughter's home. Julie got volunteered to have dinner for about 16 plus at our house. I will enjoy the day at my daughter Kimberly's along with Jack's family.

Normally I bake about five pies for the day. This year it will be eight. Everyone likes apple so I'll bake two apple. Pumpkin pie is a must. Two for Julie and one for Kimberly. Sam's had a great buy on mixed berries, blue, red razzberry and blackberries, so I'll make two Fruit-of-the-Forest, one each for Julie and Kimberly. I discovered last year that Kimberly's father-in-law loves custard pie. In addition to Thanksgiving Dinner I also baked Tom a custard pie when he had a hip replacement and was restricted to the house. I'll bake one custard.

I'll need ten crusts. I make three egg-vinegar crusts per mix. That requires four mixes which will leave two crusts for Julie and I after the holiday. I described making my pie crusts in my second blog at the beach in September. I'll make the crusts early tomorrow and start the pies about noon. Busy day!

With great joy and happiness may you safely make your journey "Over the river and through the woods".

Psalms 95:2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song".

God Bless!

SURE AND 'TIS A GREAT DAY FOR THE IRISH: My new phone came!

Ah, 'tis an exciting day, that's what it 'tis!
I've got a new poem. It didn't have a name so I named it. I called it Innocent Ignorance. It is a dandy. I love poetry!

The picture is of the Illinois River in Chicago on St. Paddies Day.

Sure and begorah, (a word I never once heard on my trips to Ireland), I finally figured out how to add pictures to my blog. Look back over them to see what a difference pictures make. I had a reason to enhance my blog on the economy. I added pictures and charts. That's the Getting the Money: The New New Deal blog. Check it out. Pictures and charts tells the story a lot better. (Thanks Mark)

Last, but not least, my new Blackberry Curve cell phone arrived. Hot Dog! I'm gonna get all my gear for my x country trip one of these days. The phone looks pretty in the pretty box. I hope it isn't like my new trike that stayed new in the box for over a month. I don't know, though, this thing looks a lot more complicated than my trike. Not to worry! Between Mark and Julie, I'll get on top of this monster!

I once told my friend, Don Wilson, that there really wasn't anything that I couldn't do, provided of course, that you supplied me with about a dozen really good people who knew what to do and who were willing to work. Thank goodness for all those people who know how to do things!

An old Irish Blessing:

Sure, and may your troubles be few and your blessings be more and may only happiness come through your door.

God Bless!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

ANOTHER YEAR! - Out To Dinner With Friends

Another year has passed with our dinner group. One couple has already left for Florida for the winter but the remaining five couples enjoyed our last group dinner for the year. John & Donna picked Carrie Cerino's Ristorante & Party Center, an exquisite Italian restaurant in a small town about 25 miles from home. It was a new place of which none of us had ever heard. The food was great, the atmosphere could not have been improved upon and our seating in a small, quiet alcove before a burning fireplace allowed the group to enjoy perfect conversation.

Click on the picture to see Carla with her eyes closed next to Donna. Trying to hide are Kathy and Sally. And last, my lovely wife Julie. The guys are Bill, John, Walt, Don and Bob.

We all seemed to order something different. My dinner started with an old favorite, French Onion Soup. Then I enjoyed a delicious Linguine surrounded by maybe a dozen middleneck clams. There were two different loaves of bread which were so good dipped in the linguine white sauce. Julie chose a plate of assorted desserts which were passed around. Topped off with a strong cup of black coffee, I was happily sated.

In prior years we ended the year with the question "Do we want to do this for another year"? Tonight that question wasn't even asked. What was asked was could we do our progressive dinner immediately after new years before the Wilsons left for Arizonia and Walt left on his trike trip. The answer? Simply picking Saturday, January 3rd for the date. Sally asked the starting time and, believe it or not, Kathy checked in her book and said we started last year at 5:ooPM on January 5th. That settled that! Another year is on the way!

Julie then said that Carla had served the entree for the last two years and she felt we should do it this year as that is the most difficult and expensive. Donna, who is a professional baker, said she wanted to do the entree this year. She said she always got stuck with the dessert. We all wanted to reply "Duh!" but refrained. None of us can even come close to the desserts Donna has served. Feeling that each should be able to do what they wanted to do, however, I insisted that Donna could do the entree. There is a natural flow from house to house with John and Donna being in the end house. That we would have to double back and forth was not a deterrent. John and Donna will do the entree.

Who would then serve what got shuffled all around. Sally said she was going to serve the Hors' d'oeuvres again as she had been working on some new receipes. I said that Julie and I could serve the soup to which Don quickly pointed out that Kathy had always done the soups. It was clear who the soup expert was in Don's mind. It was decided that Carla would do the salad and Julie the dessert. On the way home in Bill & Carla's car, they drove, Julie and Carla switched. What fun! Who's on first, no, who's on second! What can I say. The ten stooges but we had a good time with another year of good times ahead.

Our planning did not stop with dinners. Donna said how much fun it was going to the Dicken's Christmas Carol at the Canton Playhouse last year. We all went to a steakhouse and then to the playhouse. Bill and Carla couldn't go this year but the rest of the group will.

Why blog about this happening? It is such a simple thing to do and it brings such happy fellowship. A few years ago I asked 5 couples if they would like to join Julie and I in this dinner group. They would. It has now grown to be so much more than just a dinner group. It has become a tradition.

I should like to encourage others to do what we have done. There are no rules or dues. It is strictly informal. At the progressive dinner we draw to see who is responsible for choosing where we eat on which month. We avoid chain restaurants instead looking for the unusual. Sometimes we choose a more expensive restaurant but moderate prices are the goal. Invite 3 to 5 couples to join you and stand by for some of the best times of your life.

1 John 1:3 We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have fellowship"

God Bless!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

WHAT IF? Solving the problem before it is one!

As one looks back over a long, challenging and mostly enjoyable life, it is natural to recall those decisions and events that were good and those that were otherwise. Among those items that are without question on the positive side are the end result of rearing three children. Pictured are Mark Todd & Kimberly at Bethany's engagement party.

Mark, Todd and Kimberly, are each different and yet are all the same in so many ways. The two boys in particular were subjected to very harsh, corporal punishment. Not nearly as harsh as my Dad was with me, but still way too harsh. That was especially true with Mark the oldest. As adults I have apoligized to Mark for having such a harsh hand, mostly resulting from situations beyond his knowledge or control. Thankfully, he was a forgiving son. Probably because there was not a single moment in his life that he did not know, without the slightest doubt, that his dad loved him dearly. Kimberly insists that I once gave her two swats with a book. Hmmm!

There were two things in particular, however, that I managed to do right. One was having a dinner hour. One could count on the fingers of one hand the number of times that the family did not sit down together at a dinner hour. And, two, frequently at those dinners we enjoyed verbal games: "What If" or "Whats New, Different or Exciting" or "Whats your biggest problem and your greatest opportunity". Everybody knew this was coming and in their daily lives looked for their own personal contributions. Everyone participated. Mark's was always the most serious while Todd's was usually the funniest. It's still that way! I recall many, many "new, different and exciting" stories. Todd's "How to drive the teacher up the wall" is a classic!

One terribly mischieveous story that I recall was the time I found my two teen age boy's stash of toilet tissue, paid for from contributions of their peers in anticipation of a group TP party. They had hid the cartons of TP in the attic of the garage.

As my "new, different and exciting" story I told how God had blessed us in a period of high inflation and downturned economy with perhaps a year's supply of TP. The look the boys shared with one another warms my heart to this day! They assured me that the TP did not belong to them, which was sort of the truth. It belonged to the group. Everybody knew everbody knew but no one was admitting anything or accusing anybody. A peaceful, civil standoff. A good lesson in real life. I produced the TP and promptly put it the family TP storage, praising God from whom all blessings flow.

Only in my imagination do I know how they squared that account with their peers but I know that the experience again prepared them for real life. Mark learned how to break the bad news of a downturned stock and Todd, as a minister, became a story teller extra ordinary. Kimberly, well, Kimberly learned to be thankful that she wasn't guilty! By far the youngest, she really didn't know anything about any TP. She was my sneaky one. She took that trait after her Mother's side of the family. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it. She's a Daddy's girl. Still!

The game of "What If" was more mentally challenging and probably the most rewarding. We discussed every scenario that could be imagined. We performed a potential problem analysis and resolution on everything from bullies to peer pressure to dating. There was no subject that was taboo. Everyone joined in. While many problems discussed at dinner were in fact resolved ahead of time, the important thing was that, in private, the kids would imagine situations that they would not want to share with their parents. They became very proficient at their own potential problem analysis with the best resolution on hand when and as needed. Rare are the adults that can do what these three did as children. It shows too!

Julie and I are in the midst of a "What If". What if there is a real and prolonged economic downturn, not the one imagined by the media. We constantly hear of the problem but not a word about what individuals should be doing. As students of what has happened in the past, we know what might happen in the future. For example, we are starting with a "What If" her company shuts down or she physically needs early retirement in the next year or two. We are applying the solutions of Robert Ringer's book "How to be well and happy in the upcoming collaspe of the western civilization". We will proceed in life as we always have convinced that we will be both well and happy because, like the boy scouts, we will be prepared. Yup! Lots of strawberry jam and apple butter on hand. HaHa

Proverbs 27:12 "The prudent see danger and take refuge......"

God Bless!