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!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A BLACKBERRY: Am I an old hand here or what?

In the plentiful world of today's America it is hard to seriously think of people not having food. In the great depression of the 30's it was a daily reality. Thanks to my Mother, bless her dear memory, we always had food. But, it didn't just happen. It was a constant, day-by-day, effort. What would we eat today, tomorrow or "when the snow flies". That was what she would say everytime we wanted to eat the freshly made jams and jellies. "Wait til the snow flies".

Kimberly's Masters Thesis was "My Grandmother, the Wisest Woman I Ever Knew". Mom did not have much of a formal education but she knew everything she needed to know to feed her family and provide a good life. The stories abound of Mom's, at times unusual, ways of taking care of her charge. One certain way, however, was picking wild blackberries. When blackberries were ripe, and as long as they were ripe, our hands were stained purple-black from berries.

Only when I was an adult did it occur to me that all I did was help pick the berries. We each picked 2 three gallon buckets and the picking pail by noon. Then came the agony as a child, of wrapping rags around our hands, and carrying those buckets home. Once we got home we kids all headed for the river to hopefully wash away the chiggers.

Mom stayed home and, over an old hot, iron cook stove, if she had sugar, made jellies and jams, and if not then she would just can the berries without sugar. But if there was sugar to be had at all, we could depend upon having a supper of blackberry cobbler. We would eat it day-after-day, a treat I still love. Then it was Mom who got up early the next morning and had the biscuits and gravy ready so we could eat and be in the cool berry field, wet with dew, when the sun came up.

There is a real skill to picking berries off of the briar covered vines, around thorny crab apple thickets, always sniffing the brush for the cucumber smell of a copperhead. Mom had the touch. Of all the kids, it was a source of intense pride that I was the only one that had her "touch". I could pick berries. I could find those big, shade berries that filled the picking bucket fast. I still can. I have so many memories of paw paws, snakes, groundhogs, and all other situations that made each day a different memory. Good memories but painful.

Well, today my wife, Julie, is the Blackberry picker. In her wildest dreams Mother could not have imagined such a blackberry. Julie picked me a spanking new Blackberry Curve cell phone that does everything but tuck me in at night. Mark said it is much more technical than my present cell phone. Maybe it will even tuck me in? I'll find out on my cross country trike trip.

The phone won't come for about 3 days but it is on the way. Once it gets here Mark will tutor me in not only using the phone but also on taking pictures, emailing the pictures and blogging while I'm on the road. The GPS feature will even help me when I get lost. I will get lost! I said I was a picker. I hope this blackberry won't be too difficult for me to get into the picking pail. There is so much more to a cross country bike trip than just spinning the pedals. Plan and execute!

I Corinthians 9:26 - "I do not run like a man running aimlessly".

May you always find your way home and, in the end, be rewarded with a treat that is as sweet as Mom's cobbler.

God Bless!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

SCOOTIE-POOTIN: My Terra Trike

Friends, Romans and Countrymen give me your eyes and take a gander at my new steed, a Terra Trike. It is the magic carpet that is going to transport me across this beautiful country of our this coming winter.

Several of you have said "show us a picture". Here are the pictures of Walt coming, Walt going and of the Terra Trike. My friend Cindy provided the pictures but I couldn't figure out how to get them from the email to the blog site. Today Mark used a day of his vacation to take me to breakfast and then gave me a half a day's tutoring on how to use the computer. I owe so much to so many. Thanks one and all!

It is only 72 days until I plan to commence my ride from San Diego to Saint Augustine, FL. The strained back cum inflamed siatic nerve has prevented me from riding much during the good weather of October. I went to the doctor today and he feels I should immediately commence therapy to insure that I am ready to ride when the time comes. As he pointed out, I hurt my back in September and we are now well in to November and I'm still having a problem. I'll take his advice. He gave me a flu shot and made an appointment to recheck me two weeks before I depart. He also discussed monitoring my heart and a target max heart beat.

To help me get in shape during this inclement weather Mark has loaned me the equipment necessary to ride the trike inside. That will sure be a big help. I also need to get back down to Cincinnatti so Todd can complete the addition of equipment to the trike. Lots of work yet to be accomplished. I'll get there, the good Lord willing and the krick don't get too high!

A friend in need is a friend indeed. Thanks friends!

God Bless!

Monday, November 17, 2008

A CROWNING DAY, ALMOST: A Dental Oops!

When you are well on your way to being two years past your life expectancy, there is no such thing as a bad day. Why, just the fact that one has beat the insurance companies who bet against such a happening makes each day worthwhile. The checks from the two retirement annuities will come faithfully on the 1st of each month as long as I stay alive and will then pay half that amount to Julie as long as she lives. And, social security! Wow, this year they came through with around a six percent raise. You know, if one could just live long enough, get enough of those yearly increases, a person could live a pretty fancy life, huh? Life is sweet! Then along comes a day like today, definitely not a day for growing old gracefully.

I'm blessed to have most of my original teeth, thanks in part to joining the navy at 17. Well, at least I still have enough to smile pretty for the camera and to work my way through a good steak, eating the corn-on-the-cob with relish. Having said all that I must admit that I have had what I suspect was my share of root canals, teeth bridged in and a few crowns. I broke a tooth recently. I couldn't complain as a navy dentist had originally saved that tooth nearly 60 years ago.

Dr. Linda A Pommier, DDS, did a marvelous job of saving what was left of the broken tooth but what an experience it was having the cast made for a new crown. It required two hours in the chair with a number of people, including a student, poking, pulling and reminding me to "breathe". I left with a temporary crown and a reminder to avoid things like Tootsie Rolls and to not swallow anything that I couldn't chew as it might be the temporary crown. Today was the day for installing another pernmanet crown. Oh! Happy Day!

Installing the new crown was supposed to be a brief, painless experience. No shots! I got a hint that that might not be true when the assistant could not remove the temporary crown. The hint was more to the point when Dr. Linda--I like female dentists, I've had two. Lets face it, I like females, period--prepared me for three shots. Uh, Doc, you said this crown installation was going to be painless, remember? Whats with the shots? Did I ever find out.

But all things come to an end, including the pulling, or tearing apart, of a temporary tooth and grinding away the obviously great adhesive. Now comes the installation, and with one entire side of my head being numb, you know what, the installation would be painless.

Have you ever been in a place where you were totally out of control of a situation and became aware that something was dreadfully wrong? I didn't know exactly what was going on but Dr. Pommier's instructions to her assistant became short and clipped sounding more like those hated marine instructors on the rifle range long ago in navy boot camp. Not at all a comfortable feeling.

Then it happened! No explosion and the room did not shake. But without knowing why I begun to quake inside. Then I heard something that further reminded me of those hated Jar Heads on those long ago rifle ranges when some city boy, who had never held a gun in his life, turned pointing his gun at the troops. Heaven help the poor, dumb boot if he pointed his gun at the marine instructor. The "something" was from Dr.Pommier.

Being the professional that she is--and she is a wonderful professional and quite a gal besides, and to whom I've recommended my best friends--regained her composure and began to tell me how sorry she was. It seems as how the crown would not fit and she had broken it trying to make it work.

Now what? What else, back to square one and another hour making another new cast. Almost fearfully Dr. Pommier asked when I was starting my cross country trike trip. She audibly sighed in relief when, with a full mouth, I mumbled that I was not flying out until January 30th. She assured me she could get the new crown back and installed before then. I was so happy to get out of the chair that I didn't even look askance when she may have added that crown installations were quick and painless. I'm not sure of the latter but I'm not letting the truth get in the way of a good story, here!

James 1:12: "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown.............."

God Bless!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

THE EPITOME OF A PIERCE: Jennifer

My granddaughter, Jennifer Susan, sent a message, including her picture with a pup, to our newly discovered cousin, Cheryl. In a reply, Cheryl commented on the picture and inquired if Jennifer was also her cousin. Yes, Cheryl, Jennifer is certainly your cousin. Indivan Pierce, born on August 2, 1824 is Jennifer's great, great, great grandfather. She is a descendant of Indivan's son William Henry. As near as I can figure, Cheryl, Indivan is also your great, great, great grandfather and you are a descendant of Indivan's daughter Deborah. Jenny is the very epitome of what the family refers to as being a "Pierce".

It has been said that dog's often resemble their owners and I believe it has merit. My dogs have been Airdale Terriers. This breed of dog is out front, fearless, affectionate, gentle, fun loving and loyal to the death. This is a perfect description of my last airdale, Jake, named after Jake Holman in the novel and movie The Sand Pebbles.

Jake was faultless! Even as a 7 week old pup he never once fouled in the house. He finished first in each of the four levels of obedience classes at Papp's Obedience School. He competed in obedience trials over a three state area and finished first with one exception. Once when returning from the Long Down I stepped upon Jake's tail. Jake didn't budge but the judge charged me with 5 points for handling error. Jake still came in second with a fabulous 193 and at the next trial beat the dog that finished first. He earned his AKC CD at 18 months.

Jake was not foolish. Twice he growled and barked in the middle of the night and without hesitation I immediately called the police. He accompanied me on two solo north woods canoe expeditions. On the first trip he was only a 9 month old pup and he kept me in stitches. One night on that trip he went to the edge of the campfire light, bared his teeth and growled a fierce challence at something I didn't know was there. He died last year at 13 1/2, old for an airdale. I miss Jake! I'll get my next airdale in the spring when I complete my trike trip. When the family refers to being a "Pierce" we are referring to the same traits that Jake had.

The Pierce women in general have been strong minded, strapping, big girls instead of petite, compliant cuties. When young, Dad's sister Blanch was drop dead gorgeous, but most of the Pierce women were not. Like great, great Aunt Deborah, most had a dominant character. My sister, Elizabeth, when widowed with 3 small children at age 42, drove 46 miles daily to St. Mary's School of Nursing in Huntington. Sis was certainly a strong, strapping big girl who could crack your ribs with a bear hug. She finished 1st in her nursing class

But some of the small girls are also imbued with the Pierce traits. My daugher, Kimberly, is the size of a well-used bar of soap. She made the pee water flow freely down the leg of a foolish Philadelphia cab driver who tried to fleece us. The correct fare was $10, he asked for $65. Before her brothers or I could react she had her nose within 6 inches of the nose of the dishonest cab driver and effectively explained the facts of life as only a Pierce can do.

Thankfully, the current lot of girls have imput from other relatives. Kimberly has the size, beauty and singing ability of her mother and also her maternal grandmother. I don't know of any of the older Pierce's who could sing--I sure can't. Granddaughter Bethany inherited her mother's artistic ability and her sister, Christy Anne, a college senior, her mother's beautiful singing voice. Jennifer, a grad of Mt. Vernon Nazarene College, inherited empathy from her mother, aunt and grandmother who are all RNs. "Rosebud", Delaney Rose Pierce Boggs, Kimberly's 7 year old, may be small but is she ever in your face tough!

Although these girls, along with independant Jessica, a 1st year nursing student and Jillian, a college junior who composes beautiful blogs, are each somewhat different, they all have two things in common: They are each natural born leaders and they never let the truth get in the way of a good story. Bethany, an English Prof at Miami of Ohio, is an acclaimed artist and also a published author of fiction. She is engaged to be married to a young doctor next March. So, Cheryl, these are the girls who all are pleased to call you cousin.

As they say in old 'Erin, "Ten Thousand Welcomes!"

God Bless!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

PRAYER FOR THE MILTARY: Go Navy!

Unlike the years of the 'Nam era when some in the public spit upon our servicemen and women, today the troops receive the honor due them. The congregation of the Easton United Methodist Church faithfully prays for those in harm's way. Long about this time every year I feel impressed to request prayer for the troops. Specifically, I request prayer for a special group: The football squad of the Naval Academy. Usually I wait to make this request until the Army-Navy game, which is still three weeks away. Yes, when I ask prayer for Navy in the Army-Navy game there will be grousing from former dogface soldiers. What can I say? If those guys were smart they would have joined the Navy, huh? Go Navy!

Next Saturday, at noon, on Nov. 15, Navy faces my 3rd least favorite team. Notre Dame. The first and second least favorite teams, just for the record, are Army and that "team from up north", Michigan to you non-buckeyes. Those "so-called" Fighting Irish are having a bad year with a fairly new coach. Perhaps, just perhaps, Navy can cause further frustration and "stand Navy down the field, Anchors Aweigh" again just like last year. Go Navy!

Seven years ago when Army last beat Navy, my children took me to the game in Philadelphia as a 70th birthday present. Navy lost and I am somewhat responsible. That was right after 9-11 and security was tight. My son, Todd, said "Dad I'm not taking my pocket knife, are you taking yours?" He may have been trying to tell me something? I reminded him that I've carried a pocket knife since I was a preteen, that it is of legal size and I feel naked and off balance if it is not anchored in my right pocket. Everybody and every thing was searched at the gate. When the guard saw my lovely Case skinning knife he said "Mister, you may be going to the game but that knife isn't". Like the ignorant WV hillbilly that I am at heart, I said, "well, officer, would you hang on to it for me"? He said "No, when the president, like the president of the USA, leaves I'm out of here". What the hey, I just took a little walk with my knive and came back without it. I picked it up again when the game was over. Go Navy!

You know what happened? Without this old sailor's knife being in his right pocket where it belongs, Navy lost the game. Now you may not believe this but in the last six years I've had that knife right where it belongs and Navy has won every game. Neither team had ever won six straight games! You can bet I'll have my knife in my pocket this year when Navy makes it number seven! Go Navy!

I'll watch the Army-Navy game, as always, with my lovely daughter Kimberly. I raised her right. She is so pro Navy that she married a guy whose Godfather and namesake was the Athletic Director at Annapolis for 25 years. I'm sure that's why she married him! (His namesake is "the" Jack Linguel whose story was told in the movie We Are Marshall). Kimberly once sang at the Annapolis Chapel. It was a wedding so I don't think she sang "Anchors Aweigh". Go Navy!

Remember, we owe it to our service personnel to pray for them. Be specific. Pray for the midshipmen. Oh, and have I said Go Navy!

Phillippians 3:14: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Press on Navy!

God Bless

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

GETTING THE MONEY: The New New Deal

Like about seven million other Americans, every evening at eight o'clock I enjoy The O'Reilly Factor. When Bill's guests keep describing how President-elect Obama's New New Deal is going to rescue all us poor folk, O'Reilly, spoil sport that he is, keeps asking "but where's he going to get the money?" At that point conversation becomes confused. Even Bill can't stop the spin. I know where he is going to get the money. I remember the original New Deal. Been there done that!

When FDR saved all the poor folks of that day, he needed money. What to do? Well, it was sorta like what you do when you're hungry for watermellon when you didn't plant any mellons. Why, you simply go to the farmer's field who did plant mellons, being careful that he is not around with his shot gun, and pick a big one. Heck, the price is right. Take two. You take from those what has and, after having a slice or two for yourself, including the heart of the mellon, of course, you pass on whats left to others. What about the 8th commandment, Thou shall not steal"? Oh, I forgot, its the law, isn't it? It's okay for the govenment to steal, huh?

FDR did exactly that. He devalued the money. A dollar became worth only $0.51. Of course most folks liked this move because most folks in the 30s didn't have any money. Dad sure didn't. FDR then gave the money to the folks. After eating the heart out of the mellon, of course. Oh sure, there was the WPA, which does not stand for Works Project Act, it stands for We Piddle Around. Dad, along with all his cronies piddled around leaning on a shovel and rolling their own. At times they dug ditches alongside dirt country roads. Did he carefully save and invest this new found money? Nah! He consumed! He consumed lots of beer. If they gifted him with enough money, he did help out the farmers. It takes a lot of corn to make moonshine.

Oh, yes! Don't forget gold. Today its hard not to see that nauseous ad on buying gold. Be secure, put your money in gold. Forget that, FDR made gold illegal. All those squirrels, ants and bees who tried to be safe with gold, why, FDR simply took their gold away along with $0.49 of each dollar they had saved. Gotta save those grasshoppers, folks! They vote and there are a lot of them.

In an attempt to alert congress to certain change, fed chairman Allen Greenspan reminded congress and the American people that cycles had not been repealed. Look at nature's cycles. What we are about to cycle into, my friends, is not the cycle for ants, squirrels or honey bees. This is going to be the cycle of the grasshoppers.

And, if you don't get it just watch the media. They will explain how bad things are. Everyone's out of work. I can't believe people believe this media crap! National unemployment is 6%. During WWII it was 4%, people! In the great depression it was 25%, and those who were employed may have worked only a few days a month. Look at the 50 year chart of national unemployment. The peak was just before Ronald Regan took office. The last upturn was following 9-11. The peak trend is downward!

When Regan took office Carter had unemployment up to the 14% peak on the chart. It was 16% here in Ohio. I remember that well, I was unemployed along with tens of thousands in the tire industry when on the same day Firestone closed 10 plants and Goodyear closed eleven. My wife and I both lost our jobs in a 16% unemployment period. No bail out for the tire industry under Regan.

Julie and I simply joined the 84% of the people who were working. Yes, we had to use up some "squirreled away" savings. And Julie went from being a highly paid Techincal Engineer to handing out burgers and fries on a split shift at MacDonalds. As for me, I took a lot of study and preparation, with nil pay folks, and accepted a straight commission sales job. Strictly a no workee-no eatee proposition. There are no shortage of straight commission sales jobs today. Have you noted that the car dealers no longer have flocks of salesmen standing around? Hmmm!

Yes, but the stock market, the stock market! My 401K plan! Oh, woe is me! When Regan took over from the democratic president with a totally democratic congress the stock market was in the 600's. Today it is down to 8,000 from 14,000. Folks, if you liked those good American companies at $50 don't you just love them at $37.50? I do.

Yes, my wife's 401K plan reflects the market. It always does. As she nears retirement I was concerned that we would not get one more serious buying opportunity in the market before she retired. She has not only continued her 401K contributions but when the market started to falter around 12,000 I started to invest a couple hundred every month out of my retirement income. I could sure use that investment money as I plan my upcoming cross country bike trip but if I overlooked this investment opportunity I'd be a grasshopper. Hmmmmm again!


My concern is that congress will do something about all the "fat cats". Those making obscene profits. Like those squirrels who in the early 80's, when hands were being wrung over a 600 market, decided to take the risk and bury a few nuts. They bought Exxon at $10 a share. Boy, are they being repaid for taking that risk! Now, the grasshoppers cry foul and demand to share in the buried nuts. Congress is about to pass a law to restrict profit. They did it to the squirrels of the Alaskan Pipe Line during the OPEC oil cut off. Remember the gas lines of the 70's?

What about the money supply? Of course, the media will let you know the government needs to do something about the money supply. What money supply? They're actually giving it away! Auto makers are running hugh ads pleading with people to buy cars with every financial tool they can supply including no interest rates. You want to know about money supply? I can tell you. When Regan took over from Carter, then, there was a money shortage. Short term loan interest cost 21% and home loans were 18%. I know! I just lost my job and had kids in college. I had to take out a 21% loan, which I had the duece of a time paying off. But I did and never whined about it. The kids didn't even know and I surly didn't go whining to the public. I was too busy working! And, bye-the-bye, here is Ben Bernake reducing the fed fund rate to an unbelieveable 1%--if it gets any lower they will have to pay you for using money.

Is this all just sour grapes or maybe a little fear? Nope! I'm not sour, I'm meek, lowly and humble, sweet, gentle and kind! And the good Lord knows I'm not the least bit afraid. I'll get by. But this is getting long so I'll stop here. I won't mention new laws to further tax the working folks like FDR did. FICA, which allowed the U.S. government to go into direct competion with private enterprise, the insurance industry, and force working people to supposedly buy a retirement annuity. Social Security was simply a tax. The annuity part was a joke. The withholding was immediately spent by the government. It still is. Mr. Obama will probably call his tax HICA, with which to provide Health Insurance. After the government helps its self to the heart of the mellon they will help all the poor illegal immigrants and grasshoppers with whats left. Oops! Better not go there, the government monitors email and big brother is watching!

In the original New Deal FDR turned an 18 month recession into a ten year depression. What will Obama do in his New New Deal? Time will tell. Told my family to Hang onto their britches.

In 1948 at the age of 17 I took a solemn oath to defend the President of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic. I firmly stand by my pledge. Gotta wait til 2012, Sarah darling.

Psalms 121: "I will lift mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help; my help cometh from the Lord who maketh heaven and earth".

There I go clinging to my bible. I gave each of my sons a gun and sold the rest years ago so I can't cling to my guns. Yesterday I found a good buy on strawberries and today made 44 jars of strawberry jam. Perhaps I should rethink that gun decision. Wouldn't want those grasshoppers getting into this sweet store of "nuts", huh!

God Bless!

Monday, November 10, 2008

BUYING GREEN BANANAS? Depends upon your age!

When you are nearly two years beyond your life expectancy some think one should not plan too far ahead, including the "Buying of Green Bananas". If you know me or have read my blog you know I don't put much credance in that old saw, unless money is involved. Last month when the dentist prepared a tooth for a crown, made the cast and ordered the crown they gave me the option of paying the full amount of $174.60 or just paying half then and the balance when the crown was fitted this month. Not buying green bananas seemed like a good fiscal policy. What to do, that was the question.

There is another sea-going question from the old days of sail when rancid, salt pork was often the fare of the day. The pork was frequently served with live weevils on the plate. When there was a big weevil and a small weevil the question was which did you choose? The answer, of course, was that when one was faced with a choice one should always choose the lesser of two "weevils" (evils). And, so I paid only for the work performed.

Although the crown will not be fitted until two weeks from today, I went in and paid the bill today. Did I forget the "Green Banana" fiscal policy? Nope! I remembered the "Drunken Sailor" policy. Excepting for my two small grandchildren, my four very small great grand children and my wife, I completed my Christmas shopping today. I went to the Farmer's Market in Hartville and to Sam's Club. Now just in case you think I'm just going to try to weasle by Christmas with just a half gallon of apple butter per family again, you're wrong. Trust me! You know there is a lot of work making that apple butter and I'm busy working on my cross country trike trip.

What has all this got to do with paying the dental bill ahead of time? Well, between Christmas presents and the trike trip I'm spending money like "a drunken sailor". The way those green backs are fleeing from my pockets, in two weeks I'll be as broke as a sailor with a hang over. Just to be on the safe side I stopped in at the dentist and paid the upcoming bill in full. Now, if I can just hang on to $20 for my doctor's appointment next week. "Brother, can you spare a dime"?

One should never use money to measure their treasure.

God Bless!

I HAVE ANOTHER NEW COUSIN: Welcome Cheryl

Recently I posted about making the acquaintance of a new, distant cousin, Bridgette. Yesterday I once again electronically made the acquaintance of another new, distant cousin, Cheryl. Like Bridgette, she was researching my great grandfather's given name, Indivan, and was referred to my new blog. How wonderful!

In the picture, at son Austin's college graduation, are son James, Cheryl, Austin and husband Jack. Cheryl is also going to college.

In my "Bridgette" blog I mentioned that she was descended from Catherine, one of the four children of Indivan's first wife, Elizabeth, called Betsy. Cheryl is descended from Deborah, one of the four children from Indivan's second wife, also named Elizabeth and called Betsy. Deborah was my grandfather's sister. It is truly exciting hearing from these distant relatives. I look forward to sharing information with them and, the good Lord willing, meet them some day. After all, we're cousins you know.

Meeting one of Deborah's descendants was especially enjoyable. The family quite frequently refers to this great aunt of generations past. Great Aunt Deborah, or Debby as she was known, was considered a great cook. The only question was whether the food was actually good or was it just that she took so long to prepare the meal that everyone was starved. This story has survived down through the years and is being perpetuated by my great grandchildren. When a meal seems to be slow in coming the cause is referred to as the "Debbie Factor". The children use this statement on me most of the time. UMMM Poor Aunt Debby!

Cheryl, welcome to our family. You are one of us. We are sometimes loud and rowdy but always fun loving and loyal. We are true family loving people. We love you and not only look forward to sharing information but to also meet you. If I am able to complete my cross country trike trip my wife Julie will drive the van to Myrtle Beach to bring me home following a short beach vacation. Over the last 20 years we have spent 18 Octobers at the same condo. On the way home we have always spent a night at Wytheville, VA. If things would work out, perhaps we could go a bit out of the way driving up I95 and spend a night in Richmond and visit with you. Just a thought. Do you ever get back to Mason County, WV? That is about 3 hours from my home and I'd be pleased to take you to Indivan and Elizabeth's grave site.

Hopes of "High Cotton"? Maybe! But remember that as one ship sails east and another sails west by the self same winds that blow. 'Tis the set of the sails and not the gales that determines which way she goes. Bridgette, Cheryl and I have all sailed different courses but we will now set our sails to one day cross paths. Huh, cousins?

God Bless!

Friday, November 7, 2008

TOO BIG FOR MY BRITCHES? Nope!

When I was a child I quite often heard it said "Don't get too big for your britches". Meaning, of course, don't get carried away with your own importance. I think I took the advice to heart. Today I'm not big enough for my britches.

Yesterday my new foul weather gear came. When I ordered this gear from Anne, the sales person at the Hostel Shoppe, she advised ordering a size larger than normal. I did. I thought I was one of the big boys. I'm not! When I tried the XXL clothes on I discovered they were made for the really big boys. The legs were at least a foot too long and the arms hung down for about eight inches. They are now on the way back to Wiconsin. I have had to pay for having them shipped to me, for shipping them back and then, having the correct size reshipped. Didn't save much money on that catalog order. The positive news? I was also reminded as a child when I would get lucky and win, "don't get a big head''. I didn't. The waterproof helmet cover fit great!

Today the new locking brakes came for my Terra Trike. More like a car with manual transmission than a bicycle, a trike will just roll away if you don't set a parking brake. The trike came with a velcro strap with which one could lock the brake but that was a nuisance.

Is there a rush for this gear? Well, yes, but not because several days of rain are forecast. While I own at least three backpacking rain suits they are colored to blend in. I need colors that stand out when I'm riding low to the ground on my trike. I need to get back down to Cincinnatti so my son, Todd, can add an air horn and other goodies to the trike. I surely need the locking brakes. But, Todd will want to ride. And, it's late fall and cool. And, raining. I will need that new rain gear with Todd!

May your "Rainy Day" be like those of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He wrote that "behind the clouds the suns still shining". Is rain, then, just filtered sunshine? Maybe! It's up to you!

God Bless!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

SCOOTIE-POOTIN: A Reality Check

Total Time of Ride: 1 Hr. 45 Min - Distance:11.5 Miles
Average Speed: 8.2 MPH - Top Speed: 20 MPH

As can be seen from the above, headway has been made in understanding the computer/heart monitor. Not much headway but enough for the above information. Judging from the mile markers I would have thought I had rode for over 12 miles. Hitting such a high top speed I would have thought I had averaged maybe 10-12 MPH. My Heart Rate was well within the "Under 80%" level.

Each ride brings new information. I rode on the Erie Tow Path Bike & Hike path. There were hills, not high, but hills, and sharp bends. There was a lot of pedal & foot traffic. I used my bell a lot as I passed up everyone, uh, everyone that was walking or running, that is. All the bike riders breezed by me. As I topped a hill a runner I was overtaking actually started to pull away from me. UMMM. I used all three of my bike gear rings. I really didn't need my little granny gear but I wanted to use it. I was impressed by how much faster the trike was in the big gear. Mostly I stayed in the middle gear. I learned not to pay attention to what others are wearing. Most were in T-shirts or less. I shed a layer. Coasting along in my "Lawn Chair" I needed that layer. A lot of people checked out the trike and made kind comments.

There is no doubt at all about the most vivid lesson of the day. Do not, make that DO NOT, eat a McDonald's McChicken and B I G coffee just before starting an hour's ride in a heavily populated area. I'll let you figure that out. As ever, I had fun. Julie called me at 5:05PM as she does every evening to say she is or is not on the way home. Tonight she worked over until 8:30PM. She asks the same question, ie, "where are you and what are you doing". As ever I told the exact truth when I replied "I'm alone in the woods and a beautiful girl in black is running to me". She didn't even reward me with a HUH? She said you're riding your trike. We've been together entirely too long. I didn't even have to explain that once the girl got to me she kept on running. How Sad!

Other than my liquid intake lesson, I did come to understand some important facts. I have started to ride an hour and a half every other day. Then I planned to ride two hours two out of three days. Reality Check Time! That is probably too agressive. I am blessed with extremely well developed leg muscles but I'm using some muscles I didn't even know I had. And, I discovered knees! I need to make progress but I think an increase to 2 hrs every other day will be adequate for another week. Prudent progress! Slow but sure!

Also, I drove nearly 40 minutes to get to this trail. A fun ride but not the riding experience I need. I will be doing very little riding on designated bike ways on my cross country trek. Riding from home with some traffic will be closer to my upcoming journey. I'll go back to that.

It was warm today. I've often learned from watching my son, Mark. I came home, stripped and threw my sweaty clothing in the washer. I've often seen him do this. My kids are so smart! Also, yesterday I ordered new locking brakes for the trike and foul weather gear, a jacket, pants and helmet cover. Rainy weather is on the way. Got some mail a'coming. Fun Fun Fun

1 Tim 4:15 "Be diligent in these matters: give yourself wholly to them, so that everone may see your progress". I'm making progress. MAY YOU HAVE THE PROGRESS YOU DISIRE!

God Bless!

Monday, November 3, 2008

SCOOTIE-POOTIN: A Friend in Need, A Friend Indeed!

Up and at'em again today with my painful but improving inflamed siatic nerve. It was a good ride. I rode for a couple blocks right through the downtown area. No Sweat. I feel more secure on this trike than I ever did on a bike.

I learned again today. Using one of two sets of new bike tools my son Todd had me buy, I adjusted the head rest to fit me perfectly. It had been too low. With my neck now nestled comfortably in the curved padded rest I commenced to pedal. The immediate vibration, even on a relatively smooth surface, shook up all three of my brain cells. I learned that the head rest is for resting your head when you are not moving, like in reclining for a nap in the shade with your feet locked into the pedals and your head laid back. I'm learning!

But, this blog is about a friend-in-deed. My blog quality suffers from a lack of pictures. I'll correct that soon. I've had messages and emails wishing to see a picture of me on my trike. As I rode by a local print shop today, a family owned business of my friend Cindy, I parked the trike and went inside. When Cindy, and OSU Grad, saw me with my helmet and bike clothes she enthusiasticaly grabbed a camera and headed for the door. She was so excited about the trike that it excited me. Of course I excite easily. UMMM She said she would email the pictures she took of me reclining on the recumbent so I could add them to my blog. BB Mom and all the rest of you who have requested pictures, watch Cindy come through for me. Now, if I can just figure out how to put an email picture on the blog. UMMM Again!

This trike is such a novelity that dogs bark and people shout at me as I pass. Mostly, I don't understand them and just smile and wave back. One guy, sitting on the stoop with his wife, however, shouted "where's your remote? I'm sure you've got a TV there someplace". Fun!

Okay, Cindy, where's the picture?

A favorite Irish Blessing of mine says: "Sure and now may the hand of a friend always be near you and may your family always cheer you". Thats my wish for you today.

God Bless!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

SCOOTIE-POOTIN: Siatic Nerve Trail Ride

Three months from today I plan to depart San Diego for Saint Augustine, FL on my new Terra Trike. I need to be developing the ability to ride 55 miles each day. October has been the perfect riding month but I have not been able to ride due at first to a strained back and now because that strain has resulted in an inflamed siatic nerve. Trying to lower to or arise from a recumbent seat only nine inches from the ground with this condition is difficult, to say nothing of cranking the pedals. But "Tempus" really does "Fuget"and those three months will go fast.

What to do? The easiest thing to do was take the vicodin, stay in bed and sleep. That is precisely what I cannot do if I wish to get better. Recovery from this injury is strictly a no pain-no gain situation. I stopped taking the vicodin days ago. I have increased the stretches, hot showers and massages. Today, I decided "enough is enough", I'm going to ride. I did. It worked out fine.

In addition to getting into physical shape to ride 55 miles a day. I'm still learning about the trike, the steering, the brakes, the mirrors and certainly the gearing. I've learned other things too. It was a beautiful, but cool day today. I layered just about right but did not wear a wind breaker. My bad! I also learned first hand something I knew but had not personally experienced. Drivers are dangerous. Riding maybe 10 to 12 mph in the right lane of a four lane, nearly vacant street a woman whipped her car right in front of me and hit the brakes and stopped. I looked quickly to see if I could whip around her as I reacted and turned. Then, as I was about to pass her she opened the door right in front of me forcing a second sharp turn, almost into the oncoming lane. Like I said, the street was nearly vacant, much like this person's head.

I was reminded of a fact that I know only too well. Ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance is a pain in the behind. I figured out a route through alleys and empty side streets to a "bike & hike" path about a mile from home. It is touted to be a part of the future "lake to river" bike path. Todd and I rode the southern end of this path, the Lil' Miami River Bike Path. Today I was disapointed to see, as I started to ride from a well developed, cement paved, trail head, that the new, futuristic-looking portelets were "closed for the season". Uh, what season. It's bike and hike, people! I was further disapointed by the crushed, make that partially crushed, limestone surface of the path. Terrible! But I was riding. I was riding ignorant of the fact that a half mile down the bike path there awaited a locked gate reinforced with a hugh pile of dirt. The sign there said "closed for the season". Ignorance is not bliss!

All part of the training. I'm sure I'll experience this kind of thing time and again as I follow the Adventure Cycling maps across the country. Today I did what I trust I'll do when that time comes. I worked out the problem and had an enjoyable ride for about an hour and a half, probably 15-20 miles. I say probably 15-20 miles because I still havent' figured out the bike computer/heart monitor. I'll work on that some more. I received many compliments on the trike. I stopped where I could grab on to something when I needed to get up from my low recumbent seat. And, I can now just "snap" in and out of the clipless pedals. I don't feel any the worse for wear for riding. As the "little red engine" said, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

When "enuff is enuff", just "grab a root and growl". Do something even if it is wrong. Life all doped up ain't no life at all. A lesson yet to be learned by too many in today's world.

God Bless!

TEA FOR TWO? NO, TEA FOR FORTY!

The cry rang out, "Man in the House", much like "Captain on the Bridge". I had just walked into the after effects of an afternoon tea. The eyes of those half dozen ladies all centered upon me. As I am suffering with siatica and couldn't help, as in years past, I'm sure they wished it would have been any other willing man. Like Ray's Dad in "Everybody Loves Raymond" all I was there for was to eat the leftover goodies.

Thank goodness the "tea" is over for another year. Maybe our house hold can get back to normal. I mean, Dwight Eisenhower invaded Normady with fewer meetings and consultations than those ladies did with their "tea". After all, it is not an Army-Navy game or Ohio State vs "That Up North Team", (Michigan to all you non-buckeye fans). It was a "tea".

There had been forty in attendance. The ten individual tables were splendid, each table with a different theme. The food, devine, but soooo little! They extended a beautiful platter of sandwiches to me. I ate my way through at least eight of those little boogers. Little, bittsey sandwiches. Cucumber and cream cheese, ham salad, egg salad and chicken salad, I don't know what all. It looked great and tasted delicious, but each "sandwich" was only a "bite" to a hungry man. Oh, yes! There were three kinds of soup, including a cheese noodle soup, my favorite. My good friend, Kathy, uh that is Kathy the retired school teacher, not Kathy our nearby neighbor, heated the soup up in the microwave for me. A whole "cup" of it. I could have eaten the entire container, skip the cup. Deserts! I felt like the little boy who fell into the molasses barrel. Covered with the sticky, sweet molasses he looked heavenward and prayed, "God make my tongue equal to the task at hand" I did my best but could only do a half dozen or so.

My wife Julie is blessed with many friends, individuals and small groups. With one group of about six ladies she makes out-of-town trips a couple times a year, or so. Toronto to see the production of Phantom of the Opera, or to Atlanta City or the Falls for a weekend of gambling. Then there is the six couple dinner group. Somehow I got included there and love it. That group goes where they serve real food! Then she has a group of four who go to tea rooms, museums, tea rooms, giant flea markets, tea rooms, almish country and did I mention tea rooms?

Once Julie insisted that I accompany her to Miss Mollie's Tea Room in Medina, Ohio. She just knew I would love it because it was her favorite. I was the only man in the room. There was another male in the room but I don't think he had come out of the closet yet. I felt guilty myself, as if I had just been found out. And the price! I could have had a good steak at the Longhorn Steak House for what that "tea" meal cost me.

Looking on the positive side, its over for another year. And, bye-the-bye, welcome to the blog, Dee. You are my friend too, huh? Soul Mates, yet!

May your life be blessed with friends with whom you may share your joys.

God Bless!