Sunday, May 31, 2009

HOW GREAT THOU ART: We report, you decide!

As this report will sound more like a showboat mellodrama, I'll write it as such.

PROLOGUE: I had been in a deep funk for several weeks following my aborted cross country charity bike ride. Twelve hours before my plane departed for San Diego a cardologist explained to me that my heart was defective. Under stress it would only empty maybe 35%. He said that if I exceeded 80% of my heart's maximum it could result in a stroke or a fatality.

I attempted the trip anyway. Afterall, I had been riding the newly purchased recumbent trike for several hours daily throughout the winter on an indoor trainer. Crossing the dessert area of Southern California was easy and enjoyable. On the 17 mile incline to Alpine, California the trike performed well and physically I had no problems. But I could not keep my heart beat at 120BPM, the 80% level. When my heart beat got to 148 BPM I gave up the trip and returned home. I had promised my wife and children I would not be foolish!

At the suggestion of my good friend, John Murphy, I had involved my entire church in a dollars-per-mile charity bike ride to raise funds to reinovate the church sanctuary. Although I only heard encouraging words, I knew everyone was disappointed that I had to abort the trip.

After a month of deep depression, and two weeks of a virus infection, I looked to Dr. Matthew Finneran for help. Following a thorough examination he prescribed a Zpac for the infection and the anti depression prozak.

Recovering from several weeks of illness induced inactivity I accompanied my wife, Julie, to Walmart. In the store I experienced five separate, short but hard heart pains. I experienced three more as she hurried me home arguing that we should go straight to a hospital. Instead, I insisted she take me home where I took aspirin and went to bed. I intended to go back to the cardologist after the Memorial Day holiday.

At 6:00AM, two days later, as I exited the shower, I could not catch my breath. When I tried to breath deeply, I'd become faint to the point of near unconciousness. I awoke Julie and she called 911.

ACT I - The Emergency Medical Response: Six medics from the Barberton Fire Station rushed into my living room with their arms full of equipment. As four men worked on me, one recorded everything and another supervised. After they had carted me outside and put me into their ambulance they concluded that I was going into what is known as v-tac, a condition where the heart stops beating and just quivers. Wide awake and fully concious, they applied a shock treatment. It was a horrendous pain that literally lifted my 6' 2", 241 pound frame right up off the bed. The doctor told us later that they had undoubtably saved my life. I quietly thought of the song "How great thou art" and thanked God!

ACT II - Suma Citizen's Hospital, Barberton: The critical response in the emergency room was immediate and thorough. Through IVs they gave me assorted medication. After they ran several tests including EKGs, they explained to my wife and daughter, Kimberly, that I should be admitted to the ICU for constant monitoring and further evaluation.

The doctor explained to my family, now including my sons, Mark, from Mansfield and Todd, from nearby Cincinnatti, that if I had of continued the bike trip I would have probably been found dead in the dessert. A heart cath was scheduled after further evaluation and meds adminstered through ports in my hand and arm. At 3AM I did experience a bit of a breathing problem that seemed to fit into the normal, and typically miserable, night in a hospital.

The cardologist explained that there were three elements to a heart attack. Number one was blocked arteries, number two was a damaged or misshaped heart, and number three an electrical condition when the heart's "spark plug" could not cause the heart to "fire".

The cath to my heart through my right groin concluded that my arteries were actually "remarkably clear, astounding for a man of 78 years of age". Problem number one was ruled out. Following the cath my body was bruised deep purple and yellow from my right hip, along the inside of my leg to my knee. It was extremely painful but responded well to pain meds.

The resolution to potential cause number two, a damaged or mishapen heart, was to be an ultra sound of the heart. After first concluding that I was pregnant with twins, they decided that, no, it was just the two parts of a heart that was, in fact, perfect. No scars, no signs of any heart attack, the size and shape were exceptionally good. The heart was a bit thickened on the bottom and the right branch bundle was somewhat obstructed but neither of these conditions presented a problem. Potential problem number two was also ruled out. Again I thought "How great thou art"!

The Barberton Hospital was not equipped to make the test for the electrical problem and I was trasferred by ambulance to the Summa City Hospital in Akron. Although the ambulance medics applied the patches for an electrical shock, putting the shocking equipment between my legs, thankfully it was not necessary on this ambulance ride.

ACT III - Summa City Hospital, Akron: The CCU unit was full and I was placed in a double room in the Heart Care Unit. The other patient had had a triple bypass and was constantly coughing with water on his lung exterior. The room was hot. While I had a personal full time nurse at Barberton Citizens, at Akron City the nursing staff was obviously over tasked. The food was inadequate and not all that good. The technical equipment was not on a par with what we had seen at Barberton. None-the-less, Kimberly, who is very knowligible in medicine and in hospital care, assured me that Akron City would be a better hospital for me.

The medication that had been given to me intraveniously at Barberton prevented the immediate EP testing. I had to endure two very hot, uncomfortable days of poor food and over worked attendants as my system was flushed to remove the undesired meds. Did I go to the potty often? Uh, would you please pass me that urinal again? Would you believe every 20 to 30 minutes around the clock.

The high light of the City Hospital experience was to have my pretty wife bathe me all the while fussing because my hair "smelled" and she could only wash it with a wash cloth. She kept me in clean clothing although the hospital top sagged in front due to the heavy heart monitor radio in my chest pocket and looked bad. She tolerated my "bed" hair which stood up every where.

That food and appearance were a concern surly was a good sign?

On the third day they took me down for the EP. I was scheduled for 2:00PM. I had encouraged my family not to come to the hospital until just before they took me for the EP. They were actually more distressed than I was.

When the nurse came in a bit before 9:00AM and said there had been a cancelation and they were coming to take me to surgery then, I called the wife and daughter who headed for the hospital in great haste. They made it just before I went in to surgery.

I must say that what Akron City lacked in creature comfort in the rooms they more than made up for with the professionalism and equipment in their operating facility.

The cardologist had explained the planned procedure. They would do a double probe from both the left and right groin to the heart. If there was a problem with the top of the heart leaking electric pulses into the body, they would use a lazer to scar the top of the heart, concentrating the electrical pulses downward only.

If the problem was that the bottom of the heart was slow to respond to the "spark plug" charge, they would install a defibilator to assist the "spark plug" with an additional charge. In this procedure they would also cause the heart to stop and/or fiberate in different ways to see if it would restart when their obstructions were removed.

I had insulated patches from the top of my right shoulder to just below my heart on the left side and from my chest through to the center of my back. The electrical shock would be used to restart my heart as necessary. They assured me it would not hurt as it had in the abulance.

Stopping one's heart was surly a time for serious praying and I did so constantly.

The procedure lasted the better part of two hours. The most unpleasant part was the room temperature which was probably around 55 degrees, compounded by the frozen patches for leads from my ankles to my shoulders over and around my body front and back. I was concious but in what they referred to as twilight sleep. I was actually surprised when it was over and a nurse informed me that I was in great shape with no electrical problems. Incredulously I asked "Is it all over"?

The cardologist informed my family that electrically my heart was fine. Iregardless of how they interupted the electrical current, stopping the heart, when the restraints were removed the heart fired right up and restarted itself without any assistance. When he shared this information with me in the room I thought again "How great thou art".

FINAL ACT - The medical summation: The doctor informed my family and I that my heart was good. It was shaped right, my arteries were unbelieveable clear and the electrical impulses were strong and steady. He questioned the original statement that my heart only had a 35% output. It was now constantly putting out 41.2% which was normal but low. He said he was confident that with a medication he would start me on my personal output could be up to 55% which would also be normal but on the high side. Again I thought "How great thou art".

EPILOGUE: I am so thankful to be home. Fresh clean sheets, ironed pillow cases, cool air conditioning, and my own firm mattress with custom pillow. My right groin and leg, with the double cath, is so sore but it still responds well to pain meds. I have inflamed skin every where that removal of the body patches took off hair and, seemingly, the top layer of skin. My fingers, hands and arms are full of puncture wounds. Having said all that, again, I am so thankful to be home with my good wife fixing all my favorite foods.

I am to refrain from driving for awhile but am to start modestly walking immediately. I am to monitor my blood pressure and blood sugar. A new med, coreg, has been added to increase the strength of my heart. I am to go back to the cardologist in a couple weeks and again in six months. I am to see my family doctor tomorrow. I have no restraints. LLAP!!!! Live Long And Prosper!

As I was only allowed family vistors, my family grew as many dear friends claimed relationship so as to encourage me. Many are as close as family. I did deeply regret the concern and strain I was causing family and friends but I thoroughly enjoyed their company.

Mark reminded me of the many prayers that were sent heavenward on my behalf. The entire congregations of several churches, many friends, certainly the family, and even by the prayer group of Liberty College, led by my cousin, Cheryl. I informed Mark that I had already come to the conclusion that God had answered prayer and granted me a new heart. How Great Thou Art!

WE REPORT YOU DECIDE: Did God answer prayer and grant me a new heart?

On the one hand, the trained and efficient Emergency Med Squad concluded that I was dying and shocked me back to life. The cardologist said they no doubt saved my life.

After several exhaustive procedures it was concluded that my arteries were "remarkedly clear, astounding for a man of my age; the shape of my heart was good; and electrically my heart was beating strongly in rhythm.

The doctor said that both the heart pain and the breathing problem could have been caused by the virus infection. He didn't know. He did know that for anyone, especially for a 78 year old man, I had a remarkably healthy heart that he could make even stronger. I thought "How great thou art".

I Samuel 10:9 says "and it was so, that when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, God gave him a new heart".

Ezekiel 18:31 says ".......and make you a new heart, and a new spirit........."

The skeptics will scoff! Even bible scholars may correctly remind me that the above scriptures are ramdonly selected and not really applicable to my situation. In faith I believe that God has a history of granting new hearts. I am not a religious fanatic but I do believe prayer changes things.

I trust in the following: Psalms 92:15 "Oh Lord, how great are thy works"!

TO BE FAIR AND BALANCED:

On the other hand, when I shared the above belief with a visitor today she immediately told me that her Dad's neighbor had exactly the same experience. He had a heart attack and they could find nothing wrong with him. Since the first, he had had two additional heart attacks.

WE REPORT, YOU DECIDE!

As for me, "I don't worry about tomorrow, I just live from day to day.........for I know who holds tomorrow and I know he holds my hand.

I must acknowledge that this blog was written in uninformed layman's terms. It was written as I understand it. Events and times may not be exactly accurate. The end result is believed to be true.

God Bless!

Monday, May 25, 2009

SUMMER COOKOUTS: A Great Cheese Burger!

Memorial Day is the beginning of the summer season, although summer is really a couple weeks away. It is the day when campers start weekends "tenting on the old Campground". Of course there are those who don't "camp out". My daughter Kimberly is such a person.

She reminded me of that the day we drove down to Mansfield to celebrate her brother, Mark's, birthday. Julie had invited Mark and Mary Kay to come to the families lakeside retreat for a cookout on Memorial Day.

I told Kimberly she was welcome to bring her family down for the cookout also. She said "Dad, you know what Mom always said about camping". Campin's camping! In other words, thanks but no thanks!

I ended up having a physical problem Friday evening that prevented our going to the lake. Julie had purchased enough great food to have a cookout and to feed me for a couple weeks at the lake.

Although we cancelled the invitations I did cook cheeseburgers for us two days in a row.

I don't think there is more enjoyable food than a good cheeseburger. Huge whole wheat buns, vidalia onion slices, good, thick slices of tomato with lettuce and a bit of mayo. The first day I made the burgers too big. We had to eat them with a fork.

I corrected the problem the second day and they were just right. Why did we do it two days in a row? Because those cheeseburgers were so good, alongwith potato salad and corn-on-the-cob. Yum Yum

Cooking is so easy. Julie bought us some of the world's best strip steaks from Bennett's Fine Meats in Canton, Ohio. I thought I'd do that tonight but made a quick run to Wendy's instead. Feeling bad!

Let the good time's roll and put some more ice in my drink!

Seven Wise Sayings about Cooking:

"Never trust a skinny cook"

"I cook with wine. Sometimes I even put it in the food"

"Annoying the cook will result in smaller portions"

"Love and cook with reckless abandon"

"A clean kitchen is the sign of a wasted life"

"Got more time for misbehaving since I started micro waving"

"Don't like my cooking? Maybe you should lower your standards"

God Bless!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

BIG 52: To Big 52

NAW! I'm not stuttering! I'm observing the Big 52nd Birthday to Norton Football's Big 52! Happy Birthday, Mark.

Kimberly and I had to get in line to observe our son/brother's 52nd birthday. We did ask early to take him to lunch on Tuesday, May 19th, his birthday, but the day was taken. We got in line and he "worked us in" on Thursday.

We wanted his wife, Mark Kay, to join us for lunch but as the Executive Director of the National Association for Mental Illness she was too involved on Thursday. Mary Kay performs a wonderful and needed service to the patients and families of the mentally ill as well as local institutions who are involved with these unfortunate folks. She has received many awards for accomplishments in her field.

Mark chose Logan's Steak House for lunch. He said that in addition to other great foods on their menu, they made a wonderful chicken and/or steak salad. He was right. He and I had a steak salad and our petite little one had the chicken, of course. Looks good, huh?

Mark played five years of football. As varsity nose guard for the League Champion, Norton Panthers, he was the terror of the Surburan League. He was also a center until he was a senior and then only made the long centers for punts and field goals. He was the team co-captain in his junior and senior years. His jersey number was #52.

Someone once asked Mark if his dad came to all his games. He replied that his Dad seldom missed a practice not to think of missing a game. Wasn't quite true!

I have so many memories, however. Like the time the kick off from Copley to the Norton JVs came bounching up the field direrctly to Mark, a lineman. He ran for an exciting 18 yards. Or, the time he and his team mates beat Manchester in six inches of new snow for the league championship. Lines on the field were nonexistent. Brrrr cold in the stands that night.

Some how he managed to keep his game jersey. Well, he kept it, that is, until Mary Kay decided correctly that it was quite ragged and threw it out. Hard to believe, huh?

My jersey number was 59 and I managed to keep my game jersey until Coach Jamison saw me with it. He told me several times to bring it back. I turned in a practice jersey. He thanked me for that then told me to bring back the game jersey also.

After graduation when people had to pay any outstanding debts to the school before getting their diplomas I was reminded to bring back my game jersey. Boo! I also lost my varsity sweater in the Navy. Double Boo!

Kimberly came up with the idea of getting Mark a Norton Panther sweat shirt with his name and number. She found where and I picked it up. I also got him a matching Norton Panther Cap with #52 on the back. We told him to watch out for Mary Kay. HA

Mark was never a big youngster but he held the school record for the leg press for as long as Kimberly was still in school. Haven't been back to the gym since to check. Mark had the good sense to call it a day after five years of football. He was recruited by different colleges but decided to get on with life. Good for him. He is a great Buckeye fan.

Mark observed it would be a long time before his brother Todd got a named/numbered sweat shirt. Todd will turn 50 in June and his number is 67. Kimberly didn't have a jersey number but she was a great athlete. She was a five year Cheer Leader, Varsity Captain as a junior and President of all squads as a senior.

A good time was had by all. Let the good times roll. Beat Wadsworth!

Jonathan Swift:

"May you live all the days of your life"

God Bless!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

OF, BY AND FOR THE PEOPLE! Really?

Our's has been the most successful form of government the world has ever known. There is a wonderful bit of advice: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!

A Penny saved is a penny earned.

My helping hand is at the end of my own sleeve.

The pilgrim fathers had a rule from day one: No workee-No eatee!

How can it be that when the people of California vote down a further tax on themselves, as they are already the most taxed in the nation, the federal government is going to give the state the requested money and make the people of all the states pay the bill?

Why should the good people in Kansas pay for the irresponsibility of the citizens of California? Or the citizen's of Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington or Wyoming who do not have state income taxes be taxed to pay for the benefit of California.

New Hampshire and Tennessee citizens only have to pay a state tax on interest and dividends only. Ohio does not tax retirement income. Why should they pay the benefits of the people in Calfornia who voted down their own taxes.

In California the Public Employee Retirement System or the State Teacher Retirement Systems allow retirement at age 50-55 with 100% health care for employee and 90% for dependants with 75% to 90% of full time pay.

A person who became a city policeman at age 21 can retire at age 51 with close to $100,000 a year in retirement.

A highly successful senior industrial manager with hundreds of employees, 24-7 responsibility for 27 years at Firestone in Ohio and has a plant closing at age 48 gets $5,724 a year federally taxed pension and no health benefits when he becomes age 65.

Why should any part of the latter's pension be taxed to support California?

Ohio public employee retirement system - law enforcement is not nearly as bad as it is in California but even they are out-of-line with the public. Law enforcement received 67% at 25 years service which equals $74,000 retirement pay. Working the system a policeman gets paid for perhaps as much as 717 hours vacation pay and 800 hours sick pay which comes to about $40,000. The senior industrial manager with 27 years service received $8,000 severance pay.

We need to balance the retirement pay structures in Ohio and tell the people in California to solve their own problems.

How are you doing with your retirement pension and health care? That's what I thought!
Where and when is the next tea party. (Michelle Malkin's picture)

God Bless!

Monday, May 18, 2009

BETTY ZANE: Zane Grey Stories

One of my most read books is "Betty Zane" by Zane Grey. I first read this book in the 5th grade when I was 10 years of age. I've read it off and on every since. My son, Mark, gave me my current copy. Mark's inscription makes the book a great value to me.

He wrote "Christmas 1997 May the prioneer spirit of the Zane Family continue to abide in your heart. I value my relationship with you most highly. As you read the love story surrounding Betty Zane, be reminded of my own deep, steadfast love for you. Your Eldest, Mark".

Elizabeth (Betty) Zane, 1766-1831, sketched on the left, was a real person. Zane Grey also wrote a second book about her life and times entitled "The Spirit of the Border".

Grey, 1872-1939, was born Pearl Zane Gray in Zanesville Ohio. His father was a farmer, preacher and dentist. After graduating with a DDS from the University of Pennsylvania in 1896 he dropped the "Pearl" and changed the spelling of his last name to "Grey". As Zane Grey he wrote his first novel, "Betty Zane". When he could not find a publisher, he published it himself.

Zane Grey wrote somewhere between 61 and 85 books. In 1916 he sold the movie rights to "Riders of the Purple Sage" for $2,500. My parents loved that movie in 1934. When it was made into a television movie I copied it and watch it often. Several of his books have been made into movies.

Zane Grey did not allow the truth to get in the way of a good story. He made a real hero of Lewis Wetzel, 1764-1808. Like Daniel Boone, Wetzel greatly influenced early settlement of the wilderness. Like Boone, Wetzel was a rascal at the very least.

Wetzel was most certainly a pathological killer and was most likely insane. He was uncomfortable in the presence of adults, his speech was hesitant and unsure and his behavior was irrational. He was beloved by West Virginians, however, who named a county after him, erected statues to his memory and wrote books of his life.

In Grey's book Wetzel's parents and siblings were murdered by the Indians causing Lewis to start a life time of revenge killing. John and Mary Wetzel, his parents, may or may not have been killed by Indians at some later date but Wetzel started killing Indians at age 14 while his father still lived. In fact it was his father who taught him to reload his gun on the run when pursued by Indians.

Wetzel twice murdered chiefs who came to peace treaties at the invitation of the U.S. government. In 1781 he tomahawked a Delaware chief as he was getting out of a canoe in full view of the officials. Nothing was done to Wetzel. Again, in 1788, at a peace treaty at Fort Harmar, at present day Marietta, Ohio, he shot Tegunteh, a Senica Chief. He was arrested for that murder but he escaped.

Later he was recaptured but the pioneers who considered Wetzel to be a hero got him released on bond. Lewis Wetzel fled from the Ohio-WV area. He never married and he died of yellow fever in New Orleans. He was 44 years of age.

Betty Zane is buried in the Walnut Grove Cemetary in Martin's Ferry, Ohio. One of my life goals is a visit to Betty Zane's and her brother's grave site.

She saved the day in the siege of Fort Henry by racing, under fire from the British and Indians, to and from a block house for needed gun powder. Some consider this to be the first battle of the Revolutionary War.

Betty's oldest brother, Col. Ebenezer Zane, who was Zane Grey's grandfather, and his wife Elizabeth, had 13 children. He founded Wheeling, WV. Many of the other cities and roads along the Ohio River, both in WV and Oh, were founded by the Zane family.

Amazon has 13 copies of beautifully bound Zane Grey's books. They are priced for $324.

In Maine Julie and I passed a typical, old New England house with a sign that said "Books". I did a U-Turn and checked it out. I like books. They had 48 Zane Grey books in the identical same binding as those at Amazon.

They were individually priced at $5.00 or $6.00. That would have been nearly $300 for the lot. I knew I paid too much when I offered $85 for the lot and the lady said "I'll get a box". HA. If Amazon's 13 books are worth $324 my 48 should be worth about $1,200. Wow!

I reread "Betty Zane" to see if it would be right for my 10 year old grandson Riley, who is a reader. I decided it would not be. Too brutal. Never bothered me but I was reared in another time and age. His mother doesn't even want him exposed to monsters at halloween. I don't know that she is wrong.

Heavens! I sure wouldn't want my grandchildren to end up being like me. HMMMM

Philip Pullman:

"Thou shall not" is soon forgotten, but "Once upon a time" lasts a lifetime"

God Bless!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

LONG BLOGS: A Big Windbag!

My blogs are soo looong! Let's face it, I'm windy!

I've made a new blog friend, Myrna Rae, in Venice Florida. Her blog site is "Life with Myrna Rae". She has a facinating profile and has a good testimony for Christ.

She writes a beautiful blog that conveys wonderful thoughts.


She is responsive to the message of others. I suggested that she check out my son's blog, Church Requel, and she has added it to her blog site. She follows a lot of blogs.

Her blogs are so short!

Can I change? I don't know. At 78 years of age I'm pretty set in my ways. I'll at least keep it in mind. HA

Author Unknown:

"Life is too important to be taken seriously"

God Bless!

Friday, May 15, 2009

MODERN TRAVEL: Taken for granted by Americans

My daughter Kimberly flies home this afternoon from a business meeting in Chicago. Maybe six weeks ago she attended a business meeting in Tucson, AZ.


The latter was a four day meeting at a marvelous lodge. Kimberly had taken the entire lodge for her medical group which came from around the country.

Several days before the medical group came Kimberly flew her husband and two children to Tucson to enjoy the lodge. Not too long ago Jack and Riley, aged 10, flew to Florida. A number of times the family has flown to Cape Cod for a sea side vacation. These two little munchkins go through an airport pulling their luggage on wheels like it is a normal part of one's life.

How times have changed. There were airplanes when I was their age. Little planes, mostly biwings, that landed in the field across the railroad tracks from our home.



The pilots would "buzz" the field a few times before landing and everyone in the community would hurriedly make their way to the field to "see" an airplane. For a buck, maybe less, the pilot would take the folks for a short ride.

Certain events were almost used to tell the time of day. The "down bound" B&O passenger train, puffing smoke and blowing cinders, passed out house at 4:10PM. Looking at the "rich" people in the dining cars was an important part of our dreams of "some day". The blowing of the trains whistle for the crossing below our house informed everyone that it was almost dinner time.

At 2:00PM everyday the mail plane flew over. Although it happened every day it was still an event for which people watched. That seems so silly today, watching for a little airplane. It was like my brother Henry and I staying up til 10PM on wilderness canoe trips to see the faintly moving star that was a space satellite.

In a recent blog I mentioned that my Grandma Pierce probably never traveled more than a hundred miles from where she was born. You know what, until WWII hardly anyone did.

My longest trip was "all the way" to Ashland, KY for a social when I was in the Sea Scouts. That was so cool! I still remember dancing "the last dance" with the senior girl scouts. WooHoo! Ashland is perhaps 65 miles downriver from Point Pleasant, WV.

I also remember walking 8 miles to Flatrock, WV when I was six years old to look for a dog that Dad had probably sold or traded off. I didn't ask anyone and didn't think anything about it. I was missed but the AMBER ALERT was not sounded. HA. Mom simply said that I should let someone know if I ever did that again.

No, I didn't find the dog but Ma. Jones had Junior catch a chicken and cooked me a great dinner before I walked back home. Walking the four mile round trip to town to see a Saturday night movie was taken for granted, if we could somehow find a nickle.

Alongwith my two cousins, Bob & Junior Shirley, when I was still a preteen, I walked 16 miles with them to lead a heffer home from the Shirley's grandmother's in Letart, WV. We never gave it a thought. A neighbor once paid me fifty cents to lead a mean, skittish mule to his farm about 4 miles from town. I was maybe 10 years old. Mom sure gave Pete "what for" for that!

A couple years ago my Step Daughter called to ask me to pick up my grand daughter from the high school one mile from our home. Jackie told me which door of the large building Breanna, whom I call Huckleberry, would exit. I walked to the school and watched football and band practice as I waited.

When Huckleberry came out of the school she was surprised but pleased to see me. We are special buddies. She said "where's the car"? She nearly fainted when I said that I had just walked. She gave me to understand all the way home that she never walked anywhere. She still doesn't. She still gripes from time to time as she recalls having to walk a mile!

Like most Americans, Julie and I each have our own cars. We think nothing of going any distance to a movie, store or restaurant.

We attend a church and Julie works a 20 minute drive away. I drove 20 minutes yesterday just to be there when Kimberly's children came home from school and then drove them another 20 minutes to an ice cream store for a treat. Tonight Julie is driving about 45 minutes west to take two grandsons to dinner and to see Star Trek.

Our lakeside retreat is an hour and fifteen minute drive from home. It is located six miles on an isolated road. Although I mostly stay put when I'm there, if I want anything, like someone else to fix my breakfast--this happens often--it is a six mile drive. I think nothing of this. I get my water each week from Mark's 18 miles away.

Times have so changed in my lifetime.

Americans life styles are so mobile. We have just become so acustomed to personal, high speed transportation that we somehow never give it a thought. When most people in my neighborhood didn't even have a car when I was a child I am puzzled that a high school youngster today "never walks"?

I might mention speeding on the highway. When it comes to driving, Americans as a whole are really "scoff laws". Driving the speed limit backs up traffic on a two lane road. On the express way it causes a traffic hazzard if one does not keep to the extreme right lane while driving the speed limit. I know. I drive the speed limit.

SO WHAT, HUH?

Last night I read an analyst's opinion about what he considered the probabilty of the country going into deflation resulting in another great depression. There are always doom sayers, huh? But that trend of thought took me back to how things were in my early life.

What a shock it would be to Americans, who like Riley and Rosebud, think a cross country trip is a normal way of life and walking is out of the question.

The gate where the kids get off the private van that transports them to and from school is maybe a hundred yards or so from home. You can see their (white) home in this picture. If the weather is cold or foul Kimberly drives down to the gate to bring them home. Think of that!

AGAIN, SO WHAT?

Nothing really. Thats just something I muse about as I prepare driving to the Cracker Barrel to enjoy their Friday fish special. HA

Do I long for the "good old days"? NOT ON YOUR TIN TYPE, TILLEY! Acts 2:17

".......young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams"

God Bless!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

FAMILY STORIES: The Long Legged One

To enjoy this blog one must understand that at the time of the described event there was no electric, no tv, no autos and only wagon roads to isolated farms in the hills of West Virginia. Life was quite simple compared to this day and time. Butter, for example, was a home churned treat. This blog is about a Pierce Family story.

Family folk lore is so important where the truth never gets in the way. It allows current generations to have an understanding of what life was like in days gone by. This creates a sense of continunity with young folk who are still developing their character. Family stories also provide joy to long winded survivors who love to retell the same old stories.

There are so many stories in our family. My favorite concerns a fox hunt and a haunted house. A true story, aren't they all, involving my Grandpa and my Uncle Bob. It is a long story for another blog. Today I'll share the story about the "The Long Legged One".

My Uncle Albert was the oldest of four children. Dad was the youngest. As adults Dad was a taller man than Uncle Albert. Who was the tallest when they were young and courting two sisters was a debate that lasted a life time.

Through the great depression when I was a small child we thought of Uncle Albert as our rich uncle. He married a wealthy lady and he had a foreman's job thoughtout the difficult times of the 1930s. He lived in Dunbar, WV which in those days was a long ways away, although today it is maybe a 45 minute drive.

Uncle Albert seldom came to Point Pleasant in those days. I don't recall that his wife, Aunt Ruth, ever came. When Uncle Albert came, however, he, Dad and Grandpa Pierce would sit around telling stories and pulling at the jug all night long. The entire family crowded around. Even the dog was entranced. It was the best of times in the worst of times.

That jug sure made the stories flow and the tellers to become animated. Uncle Albert's wife was, to say the least, a strong woman. Uncle Albert didn't get to pull on the jug that much.

One story we were sure to hear was of the time they were dinner guests of two sisters whom they were courting. After dinner, in the dark, Dad and Uncle Albert were "courting" the girls on the front porch. The parents had gone to bed. In those days parents usually slept in the "front room" where the fireplace was located.

The girls father called out "Girls, have the boys gone home?" The answer was "No Pa". After awhile the father repeated "Girls, have the boys gone home yet?" The answer again was "No Pa". For the 3rd time the father called out "Girls, have the boys gone home yet"?

The 3rd time one of the boys--which one a matter of debate--told the girls to say "Yes". The girls said "Yes Pa". Pa replied I DIDN'T CARE HOW MUCH THE BOYS ATE BUT DIDN'T THAT LONG LEGGED ONE GO AFTER THE BUTTER?

Uncle Albert always pointed out that Dad clearly had the longest legs. Dad always argued that when they were courting these girls he wasn't the tall one at all.

Uncle Albert and Dad are long gone and who was the long legged one is still a matter of contention. My opinion? I bet they both went after the butter.

Author unknown:

"A family tree will die if nobody tends the roots"

God Bless!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

COOKING TODAY: Life is so easy, and good!!

Included on my business card, along with address, phone number and Email address, are my self proclaimed areas of expertise.

Just to be right up front, I know that "an expert" is "a little drip of the past". Now that that is out of the way, I claim to be a Cook, Gardner, Fisherman, Sailor, Canoeist, Backpacker, Poems, Stories, Folk Music & s/v Christy Anne. Wow! Such a talented guy, huh? Like I said, a little drip of the past.

It would be more accurate to say that these are areas of interest to me. I know of many people who are more "expert" at these accomplishments, as a whole.I have some folks fooled,
however.

On my last wilderness canoe trip I mentioned to my son Todd that my friend Don Wilson was the best fisherman I knew. Todd immediately replied "Well, Dad, you are the best fisherman I know". Todd is no slouch at catching fish so I still get a warm glow from recalling his comment.

An area where I can do well is cooking. I take great pride at being a camp cook. I love to make "Ohio River Stew". The special flavor that my fellow fishemen claim to enjoy is all the fresh hatch of may flies that get into the stew as I stir it. Thats my story and I'm sticking to it.

I enjoy watching hungry people eat food that I have prepared over a wood fire in the wilderness. Under the most crude conditions I can turn out pretty tasty fare. Stew, biscuits, pie iron pastry and "boiled" coffee. Yum Yum.

Different people have their own favorites. Most everyone likes my pies. I don't know that they taste any better but I have learned to bake an extremely flaky crust with my own signature fluting. My pies are always the first to sell at bake sales.

I usually bake a cherry pie for my son Mark's birthday. One year I got confused, Uh, I get confused more than just "one year". Anyhoo, I got confused and took Mark his birthday pie in April. His birthday is May 19th. No, he didn't complain.

Julie has asked me to make a lot of pies for the upcoming church bake sale of which she is in charge. I promised her 16 pies. Last year I baked an even dozen. For Julie's 40th birthday I baked 21 pies for a pie fest. I usually bake a lot at thanksgiving but 21 is my record.

My granddaughter, Jillian Elizabeth Pierce, likes my Corn Chowder. Her sister, Jennifer, likes my sausage gravy and biscuits. I bake a passable buttermilk biscuit and make fair-to-middling browned flour sausage gravy. I called Julie this morning to a different sausage gravy and biscuits.

My friend and great cook, Carla Ludwig, introduced me to the bulk packed, frozen Pillsbury biscuits. I cannot bake a better biscuit. They come 36 to a pack and that can be a problem. Before you can use them up they just blend together and become a frozen "glob".

Many people call Julie "Jewell". She is that! She repacks my frozen biscuits two to a package in individual packs. Pop four on the baking stone and in about 25 minutes at 375 you have a beautiful and delicious biscuit. Try them and you will stop using the small packs of frozen biscuits and save a lot of money.

Some where back in time we purchased a bulk of quick sausage gravy mixes from Sam's. It is not as good as the gravy Jenny likes. But it is so much easier than frying sausage and browning flour and far cheaper considering that I use two cans of condensed milk which has become expensive. I used this for a breakfast at the church recently and everyone thought it was good.
Sam no longer carries the dry mix. Now they have sausage gravy in a large can. Julie's daughter Jackie said it is very good. I bought a can to try it out. That is what I fixed for the first time this morning.

Frequently, when time is of the essence, I'll drive around the lake to McDonalds and buy their sausage gravy and biscuits as the coffee perks. It is hard to believe that two orders of sausage gravy and biscuits and two hash browns now cost over $8.00.

I don't know if I'll ever make browned flour sausage gravy again. The sausage gravy out of the can was that good. I like the flavor of Marjoram and may add a bit of that along with additonal pepper in my next fixings. Otherwise, we have at least a dozen and a half larger breakfasts for less than a dollar a serving.

So long, McDonalds, it's been good to know you!

Having lived a portion of my life without any modern appliances at all, no electricty or in door plumbing until I was a teenager, I love the ease of modern day cooking.

Having said that, I consider it vital to know how to cook from scratch. An important part of being prepared.

Praise the Lord and pass the biscuits. Uh, pass the blackberry jelly!

Buddy Hackett:

"As a child my family's menu had two choices: Take it or Leave it!"

God Bless!

Bye-the-bye, again! Two days in a row I got a comment while I was still writing the blog. Thanks, Mark. One cherry pie coming up!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

BE PREPARED: The Boy Scout Motto

The Boy Scout motto is "Be Prepared". Fate favors the prepared mind, a true saying.

Starting when my children were very small a sustained effort was made to instill this truth into their conscious and unconcious thoughts. Frequently at the dinner table where the entire family joined into discussions we played a game we called "What If".

The "what if" covered every scenario that could be imagined. Nothing was taboo. All the fears that people, especially small people, which is what children are, were discussed. But it did not stop at discussion. That just set the stage to develop solutions.

The important thing was to decide in advance the best course of action for the "what if" scenario. Time and again throughout their lives I've watched their reactions to situations the best solution to which they had already worked out in their minds.Walden's Pond is pictured above. I've worn out two copies of Thoreau's On Walden's Pond. I've also added my small stone to the thousands of others in the poor man's tribute at the site of Henry David's cabin on Walden's Pond.

Thoreau and I would have been friends. We are so much alike in our disposition. He said he would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to his self than to be crowded on a velvet cushion. I'm like that.

As important as it is to be prepared, Henry David understood there was something even more important. That was constant vigilance. He opined that no amount of preparation would ever displace constant vigilance. I fully agree and live my life accordingly.

I never set with my back to a door or to a window. When I enter a strange building I always, I mean like each and everytime, I immediately look for a second exit. I am very careful about allowing people to walk up to me in the dark.

I always, like in absolutely always, know who is around me and where they are. I am not paranoid. I am vigilant without giving it a concious thought. It is just who and what I am.

The gospel song says "through many dangers, toils and snares I have already come". I always sing that verse if we do not sing all of Amazing Grace.

All of my life has been lived on the cutting edge. It still is. Heaven only knows from what God's grace has spared me. I firmly believe that at times it has spared me by letting me know the importance of constant vigilance. Perhaps it was so today?

I am addicted to McDonald's McChicken and black coffee for lunch. I probably eat that three or four times a week. Barberton McDonalds does a whopping business and has two order lanes. It was busy today.

The car just ahead of me must have had either a large or a complicated order. After waiting for several minutes as the lines backed up all the way around the building he was asked to pull ahead and they would bring his order to him.

The man pulled his car ahead enough for me to get to the take out window but not far enough for me to exit the drive. I saw him watching as the line stalled. He knew what he was doing.

The clerk said "blow your horn". I said "I don't think so". Again she said to blow my horn and make him move. "I didnt have a dog in that fight", as they say down home, so I just informed her that the man knew he was backing up the line.

I asked her if she would blow her horn. She said she sure would. I asked if she ever considered that the man might have a gun and was just looking for a reason to use it. She looked at me like I was nuts. Maybe I am. I think "through many dangers toils and snares".

The manager sent one of her young men to ask the man to move his car and he did. But just. As I was edging around his car they brought his order to him.

While I do not believe myself to be paranoid, I know that I am not fearful. Unlike my father whom I do not think understood the word fear, I am at least careful about some things. Bears in the woods get my attention. I had one back me up to my car and then climb on top of the car when I got inside.

Another followed me in the woods at night. I kept my pistol cocked and pointed in his direction. Scared my young pup to death. Thankfully my old dog was running a coon. Old Red would have at least attempted to teach that bear some manners.

I am careful around snakes. Stepping over a big log once in rattler country I hit the log with my hiking stick as I prepared to step over the log and scared out a grouse. The noise of that grouse nearly stopped my heart at what I thought was a world sized rattler.

Did the man behaving queerly at McDonald's have a gun?. Was he deranged? Probably not. Thankfully, I'll never know. I do know I was vigilant. Rest in peace, Thoreau, and thanks.

Bye-the-bye, it is a thrill to get a comment to a blog as it is being written. Thanks Cheryl. You are a friend. Be vigilant! See you in November if not before.

Benjamin Franklin:

"They that are on their guard and appear ready to receive their adversaries are in much less danger of being attacked than the supine, secure and negligent".

God Bless!

HAPPINESS? What and Where?

Sometimes happiness is hard to come by. There is so much sadness in the world and in our every day lives. Julie and I have been ill for what seems like forever, although only about three weeks.

Although we struggled along for a couple weeks before going to the doctor we have both now gone through a course of Z-Pac meds for infection. We are both improving. Julie has been back to work for a few days. I still feel the infection in my left lung but the congestion seems to be clearing up. The doctor said it would take about 10 days to clear up. Its been week today. I went to church Sunday but in hind sight it was probably a mistake.

A dear friend, Pat Herzog, and the mother-in-law of my youngest son, has passed away and the funeral will be soon. Pat, Julie and I sat at the same table for an evening at grand daughter Bethany's wedding recently.

The loss to my daughter-in-law Amy and her brother will be terrible. Due to my health I will be unable to make the 3 or 4 hour trip south to comfort them. They will not miss me as much as I will miss the opportunity to provide support for my loved ones.

A friend and also a cousin each called or sent me emails requesting prayers for others. One for a lady with a broken back and a punctured lung suffered from an auto accident and another for a youngster who was grieveously injured in a lawn mower accident. My heart and prayers go out for both families. So much sadness!

So where is the happiness?

I have always had the nicest yard in my neighborhood, period. This year I got off to an early start on my yard at home so that I'd be free to go to the family retreat as soon as it warmed up. Between cold, wet weather and my illness I have in fact got behind with my yard.

This year my grass is the last to be mowed in the neighborhood. With all the rain my grass was higher than an elephant's eye, as the old saying goes. It has become a real embarrassment. Although I am still feeling weak and tired I had to cut the grass.

Now mowing my lawns isnt all that big of a chore. I only have three small patches of grass. From getting the mower out to putting it back is maybe fifteen minutes. But just carrying three loads of baking materials for the church's upcoming bake sale down into the basement of the church for Julie took the starch out of me for two days. Yesterday 15 minutes of work was a lot.

I have two mowers. The one at the lake where it takes about an hour to mow the grass is a very expensive mower. I haven't used it for two years as my neighbor Ernie has mowed my lawn with one of his three big riding lawn mowers. My big, expensive mower is probably "froze" up. The mower at home was actually given to me and is an "el cheapo" from K-Mart, probably.

I bought some fresh gas, at $2.34 a gallon I might add, and put it into the empty tank of the mower. I know to run all the gas out of the mower at the end of the season. I pushed the priming pump four times and gave a hard pull on the starting rope.

ROAR, ROAR, ROAR! The engine started on the first pull.

HAPPINESS!

Although I'm not wanting to challenge any one to a foot race, I don't know that I'm any the worse for wear this morning. I do know that I wasn't embarrassed when I looked out the front door at daylight.

And, it was music to my ears when Julie said how nice the yard looked when she came home last night. Although she has had the good grace not to complain about the condition of the yard, I know she was even more embarrassed than I was.

HAPPINESS!

Albert Schweitzer:

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will really be happy are those who have sought and found how to serve"

God Bless.

Friday, May 8, 2009

JUST A COINCIDENCE: Still Interesting.

Coincidence: An event or circumstance fortuitously relating in some way to other events or circumstances. Although circumstancial events do not necessarily have any particular meaning, they are none the less interesting.

Enjoying dinner with daughter Kimberly and grandchildren, Riley and Rosebud, Kimberly and I were making plans for son Mark's upcoming birthday.

Out-of-the-blue, Riley, who is far advanced in math for his ten years, observed that he was a hundred years older than his great grandmother.

Mom, who was age 15 in 1914, in the picture on the left, had a very easy birth year to remember as she was born in 1899. Likewise with Riley who was born in 1999.

This triggered the realization of the coincidence of Mark's birth year and his great grandmother's birth year.

Sarah Elizabeth (Hudson) Pierce was born in 1857, before the American Civil War. She liked to say that she was born in "old" Virginia. I doubt that Grandma ever travelled a hundred miles from the place of her birth in West Virginia, she none-the-less was born in "old" Virginia. West Virginia did not become a state until she was six years old.

Mark was born a hundred years later in Barberton, Ohio in 1957. Unlike his great grandmother, Mark has travelled throughout the world. We will help him celebrate his 52nd birthday on May 19th. His brother Todd will celebrate the big FIVE OH in June.

Unlike her two brothers, Kimberly who came along later in our lives, will AGAIN celebrate her 39th birthday on August 1st. You know what, it is believeable. She is basically the same size she was as a freshman in high school. She is still quite atheletic as well.

A truly beautiful professional, Kimberly reminds me of the old axiom that "its not the size of dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog".

Kimberly is kind and lovely but she can also be tougher than a pine knot. Well, except for her two little muchkins who sorely try her strength and determination.

There is a "funny" about Riley and his mother. Looking at my high school graduating picture Riley couldn't believe it was truly me.

Even more than the difference of 172 pounds and 240 pounds was the large volumn of black hair and the current sparse volumn of white hair. I explained how people got grey as they aged.

Riley asked "will I get grey"? I told him that he wouldn't appear to be as grey as he is a decided blonde like his father. Then he asked if his Mother, who has a rich chestnut brown hair like her mother, would get grey.

I told Riley that although Mark and Todd turned grey in their 40's I assured him that KIMBERLY WOULD NEVER GET GREY! I'm not sure he understood that statement but everyone else who has heard that story shook their head and said "you've got that straight". HA

Douglas Adams:

"A coincidence is a small miracle in which God chooses to remain anonymous.

God Bless!