Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Holiday Cheer

Tis the season to be jolly.

Or not. Out there, the push is on. Rush rush rush. Spend spend spend. You hear less "Merry Christmas" and more "Whew, I'm DONE!!!

In here, we have ramped it down over the last few years. And with plans to be in Texas for Christmas, we weren't even going to put up a tree. WE. Well, THAT'S not accurate. Decking the halls falls on me, now that my daughter moved away. She took the task over when she got old enough to plug in the lights. We had really elaborate decor until she moved out.

I wasn't going to put up anything shiny in December. But then, Mike invited our good friends over for dinner. (He hauled out his rotisserie and bought a Moby chicken.) I knew I had to sprinkle some holiday cheer here and there. My solution: a trip to the bargain store where they had a special on a pre-lit tree. It's all of 24 inches so the light is intense. A few of our special ornaments and it is all a sparkle. Wouldn't you just know my luck? Our local department store was GIVING AWAY pre-lit door wreaths. My oh my, all I need is a Yule log. (0r that On Demand high definition Fireplace!)

The dinner, by the way, was spectacular. And then, here's why we continue to celebrate. Since February (i.e. "recurrence"), every planned trip has been penciled in. We did not know if we would be able to go, if Mike would feel well enough. And so was our Christmas trip, which involves air travel. Even after getting all flights coordinated, last weekend seemed to indicate that the trip would not happen.

I'm pleased to say (and this is how God is answering prayers THIS week), the trip is on. On Thursday night, I'll be hugging some grandsons! So, even though the crowds out there are pushing and shoving, I can thank our Father as I drag out the suitcase.

Mike had a scan today, scheduled but scheduled incorrectly, so what might have taken an hour filled most of the day. And then he came home to a letter. A mean letter.

It seems that during the chaos of the closing of the office, some client's case was mislaid. Some sort of inheritance allocation. They want a refund. They will get it.

But in the letter were some hurtful words, striking at the heart of this career attorney. I'm guessing that two years ago, he would have let the words roll off his back while addressing their concerns. But this is later, this is the tender Mike, who would go all sorts of extra miles to help. He said, "Mean, isn't it? No big deal, we'll fix it. They are wrong but it's not worth it...."

Then he lay down and took a deep nap.

When he awakens, he'll see what another former client sent to us. Along with the plant is a letter telling him, specifically, how Mike had helped this person. How she'll always be greatful and, as such letters often end, that she'll continue to pray for us.

I love how God sends unexpected blessings right when we need them.

From our house, cottage, workshop, and blog: May you have a very Merry Christmas. May you find joy in this holiday season. We serve a mightly God who loves us so much that He sacrificed His dear Son. May the miracle of Emmanuel, the Messiah, fill your hearts with hope and love.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

That was the week that was......

Whew. Ready for a new week here.

Last Monday, had I snapped a photo, you would have seen that the hub looked like his old self. Friends dropped by and they played. And lunched. And played some more. I was dragging from the end-of-semester busyness and he was flying.

Tuesday began with full vigor. THEN, I'm not sure what happened here but I think the hub unearthed something old in the refrigerator. Maybe some lunchmeat. Not sure. But the result was a rip roaring case of gastroenteritis by Wednesday.......sick sick sick by the time I got home. The list of chores lay where I left it. The hub lay abed, moaning and groaning, when he was not sprinting for the porcelain throne.

He slept fitfully but insisted that he was well on Thursday, so off to school I went. And it was 'root day' so I was late getting home, although my hair looked fabulous. But Mike would never know.....he was deep in the covers, pale and weak, and still sick.

It was a rocky night and this time, he wanted me home. Just in case 'this was it,' he did not want me to miss anything. His stomach was relieved of some stuff and then he felt a little better.

Several quarts of Gatorade later, his doctor returned our call. As he had no fever, she suggested that we come in on Friday to check his various body fluids. We did. Turns out that he did a 'good job of hydrating himself,' and after a few bags of saline, he was pronounced good to go.

Go we did. So HE was/is fine but I was/am exhausted. Saturday was a catch-up day.

Then, on to Sunday. Mike got to play with the church band. Few things make me smile as wide. And, I know from my friends, that when Mike is on stage, his church family smiles wide, also. He is, after all, their miracle man.

Watching, singing, worshipping, a thought crept in.....was this the last time he'd get to play? Will this be our last Christmas? And a tear began to form.

But here's the thing: does God want to rob me of my joy? No, that's the other side. We are so blessed and we are so vulnerable to attacks from the Evil One.

I wiped off the tear and upped my volume.

Jesus, Messiah
Name above all names
Blessed Redeemer

We are well and headed into the season that celebrates our Savior's birth.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks, Father for each and every gift.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Legend of the Two Toms

One of the interesting sociological facts about Kokomo, apart from its extensive Ku Klux Klan history, is that a significant portion of our population are persons who immigrated north from such places as Beaver Tail, Tennessee, and Coon Holler, Kentucky. These persons and their offspring can be identified easily, apart from being grossly overweight and habitually beating their mouth-breathers in Walmart, by the shotgun and compound bow they have on a rack in the rear window of their jacked up, 4-wheel-drive pickup truck. In addition, they all have police scanners in their home, right next to the 52 inch flatscreen which is always tuned to whatever channel is showing “wrasslin.”

Police scanners allow anyone to hear radio transmissions from the police, which can be really useful if you are hiding young Otis in your house, because the cops in Kentucky have a warrant for him for back support, said warrant now being in the hands of the Kokomo cops who are anxious to apprehend young Otis, put his sorry butt in jail and ship him back to the patiently waiting judge in Beaver Tail.

Also, the radio calls often say where the cops are going, which might tip you off that it might not be a good time to go weed that secret plot of ground that you are using to grow your own weed, for personal use only, or to access your stash of shine that you ran up here to Indiana from Uncle Floyd’s still back home.

Even better, you can hear the cops talking about being enroute to an often-visited residence, because Harlen is beating the snot out of Geraldine, yet again. If you get the call early enough, you can mosey on down to Harlen’s house to watch the fireworks, where four officers try to drag an irritated, liquored-up Harlen out of the house, clad only in his wifebeater T-shirt and boxers, while roaring that he will never be taken alive, all the while Geraldine trying to smack the cops, screaming that she will love Harlen forever and will visit him every Wednesday in the jail.

Rowdy, but home sweet home.

As it's understood that every kid whose parents have a scanner is listening, it has long been the tradition with the police in Kokomo that on Christmas Eve, the on-duty officers are to call in to dispatch about 9:30 to report that an unidentified flying object has been sighted over Kokomo. Another cop will then respond that the UFO has a red light on the front and appears to be stopping on the roof of each house.

Yet another cop will report that a very fat man with a white beard, clad in a red suit is going down the chimney of each house. This scenario is limited only by the creativeness of the officers, or their boredom, pick one. It is safe to say that a substantial portion of the police force view this task as beneath their dignity and professionalism. It is also safe to say that some police officers are in possession of, shall we say, a perverted, twisted sense of humor, sometimes not kept in check. Such was the case on one legendary Christmas Eve.

Which leads me to the two subjects of this tale of woe, Officers Thomas Dinardo and his evil accomplice, Thomas Kelly, who on a peaceful Christmas Eve were bored (not a good thing) and who managed cleverly to create a Christmas Eve, in our burg, that lives on in infamy. This daring duo cleverly managed to put countless mouthbreathers in therapy, thoroughly tick off half the community, and to incur the wrath of their commanding officers, all in the space of 5 minutes, and in so doing upheld the highest traditions of the Kokomo Police Department…

and became local legends.

Now before this tale continues, let the reader envision eight year old, buck-toothed Elmer, fresh out of his once-a-week bath, clad in his jammies, with his oversized left ear glued to the scanner, anticipating the report of Santa Claus being in the vicinity. Perhaps he frequently glances toward the Christmas tree, noting that there are no presents underneath and thinking that Santa has yet to deliver down the chimney and if he doesn’t bring him that set of broadhead arrows he asked for, well…Santa just might get to find out what a load of 12 gauge double ought buckshot feels like where the sun don’t shine. After all, Elmer left out by the chimney one of those special brownies that only Ma and Pa eat, just for Santa Claus.

All the while young Elmer’s parents are sitting by the scanner, also with their own thoughts. Pa is thinking that if the cops would just get on with it, Elmer could be sent off to beddy-bye, he could get a ball mason jar of shine out of the garage and he and Ma could maybe share a little toke and then hop into the sack together for some serious substance abuse-enhanced, sheet time. Little did they know of the diabolical plot concocted by the vile, two Toms.

It seems that when 9:30 rolled around and the Santa Claus schtick was scheduled to commence, the two Tom’s decided to deviate from the script and do a bit of, shall we say, ad-libbing. As ordered, Officer Dinardo called in to report an unidentified flying object. Right on cue, Officer Kelly reported the red light out front. Dinardo then reported that the UFO was east bound at low level and appeared to be a sleigh being pulled by reindeer. Kelly observed that a fat man in a red suit was going down the chimney of each house. Dinardo opined that Rudolph was doing a good job guiding the sleigh, but that the bad weather was making it difficult to see. Kelly then observed that Santa was now crossing the Delphi and Chrysler plants at low altitude. And then the fun began… with thousands of tiny ears glued to the scanners.

Kelly: Man, Santa is awfully low.

Dinardo: I hope Rudolph sees those high tension wires east of the Delphi plant.

Kelly: Oh man, he’s too low! He’s going to hit those wires!

Dinardo: I see sparks! Pull up, Rudolph! Pull up! You are going to hit the wires!

Kelly: Oh my God, they’re in the wires! Oh no, the sleigh is tangled up in the wires. The sleigh is burning! The reindeer are on fire. They are going down! Oh man, Santa just fell out of the sleigh! Oh, the humanity!

Dinardo: Santa just hit the ground! He’s splattered! All the presents are burning! I smell burning reindeer meat! Call the ambulance! Santa is on fire! I am at the scene and it looks like Rudolph and the other reindeer are extra crispy and Santa is well done!

Kelly: You think we could get some of that reindeer meat? I hear it tastes just like deer meat. I think we better get out of here. You know, some people can’t take a joke and might not appreciate this.

Dinardo: I am thinking that it is an hour before we get off for the night. I am heading to Dunkin Donut for a donut and coffee. I am going off the air, too. Meet you there. I think we had better lay low for the rest of the shift.

Of course, young Elmer and hundreds of other mouthbreathers, realizing that Santa was toast and Rudolph and the boys were on the way to the weigh station, screamed and promptly went into a catatonic state. Children all over the county were traumatized by the vision of Santa and Rudolph going down in flames and being turned into reindeer steak and Santa burgers. Even worse was the collective wail that rose over the city as the mouthbreathers figured out that their presents were incinerated, despite assurances from their parents that that was not the case.

Of course, the Sheriff and the Chief of Police were, strangely enough, not amused by the deviation from the script. The dispatchers were furious as their switchboards melted down with hundreds of incoming telephone calls from furious parents. The Sheriff and the Chief sent out directives to the two Tom’s that they had better “fix this thing," or their heads would roll. But, of course, the two Toms were nowhere to be found.

So, there you have it. The legend of the Two Toms. Where else could this have happened, but Kokomo, Indiana. Smokin’ Santa and barbecued Rudolph! Merry Christmas!

Mike out.

Madison Elaine Miller

Born 12/15/2011 around 11;30 PM

20 inches 6 lb 3 oz

And, Great Aunt Lynne got to cuddle her 10 hours later!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Slowing Down

It has been thirty-three months since four doctors told me I had ninety days to live. I guess I fooled them, didn’t I? They have no explanation for my apparent reprieve. They just shake their heads, throw up their hands, and say things like “medicine is an art and people are unpredictable.” Gee, I would never have guessed that! I know why I continue to live and I could tell them, but they wouldn’t put in stock in what I would tell them, so why bother?

Being sick with cancer with the attendant radiation, chemotherapy, and related drugs has a tendency to slow me down. I am tired most of the time. I would also say that the tiredness is not the same as if I had run a race or worked really hard. It is a completely pervasive fatigue that is bone-deep and long-lasting. It has to be experienced to be understood.

Nonetheless, the constant fatigue has brought with it some good things. It has forced me to slow down and has given me the opportunity to appreciate what is around me. There are many little things that we each experience that slip by unnoticed most of the time. For me, this is a brand new, enlightening experience. Let me give you a quick example.

Back when I was playing lawyer, it was not unusual for me to be on the road to court in four different counties in a single day. There was no time for breakfast, lunch or anything else, for that matter. I got skilled at driving with my knee, while looking at a file, and talking with a client or one of the secretaries on the cell phone. Stopping for lunch was out of the question. You may not believe this, but in thirty-three years, I never stopped one time to have lunch while on the road. Really stupid. This obsessive behavior became a habit.

A few months ago I had business in Warsaw. I drove there in my truck, took care of the matter and headed home. About fifteen miles from Warsaw is the small farm town of Silver Lake. On the corner is a tiny mom-and-pop diner called Keisling’s Iron Skillet. It looks like my kind of place. Quiet, good food, you will be left alone to read, and reasonable prices. Fine dining it is not. Comforting it is.

So I rolled into Silver Lake about noon… hungry…and rolled right on through… because I needed to get back to Kokomo. About three miles out of Silver Lake it dawned on my tiny brain that I was not working anymore, there was no office to go to no appointments to keep and I had no reason at all not to stop and enjoy a leisurely lunch. I will not tell you I turned around and went back to Keisling’s, but I did stop for lunch at The Red Apple diner five miles up the road, where I enjoyed a cheeseburger, fries, cole slaw and Coke, followed by apple pie and ice cream for dessert. I spent an hour having lunch and reading a book. That is the first time I have ever stopped for lunch.

So where am I going with this? I am learning to slow down and sometimes even stop to enjoy little things that I used to blow right on by and not notice. I am working on making this an art form. Consequently, I thought I would make a partial list of some of these little things that I have noticed, so you get the idea. Acknowledging these little events make life better, even if you are sick.

1. A long, hot shower, followed by crawling into fresh sheets on my bed and opening a new book to the first page.
2. One frozen peach wine cooler in bed at night.
3. The clatter of my Ducati’s dry clutch and the shriek and snort of its motor at nine thousand rpms.
4. Peach salsa and Tostito chips.
5. Any road trip in my Silverado with the Iverson and Lynne, providing it ends at a dog-friendly Hampton Inn for the night.
6. The sound of river water slipping by the hull of my handmade wooden kayak.
7. Eating a roasted chicken cooked on my Ron Popeil rotisserie.
8. Waking up in the morning and celebrating with Iverson (or Lynne) that we have new day to goof off together
9. Meeting up unexpectedly with a friend and having lunch or dinner together.
10Playing anything written by Mississippi John Hurt.
11. The sound of my razor sharp plane as it slices off a ribbon of wood.
12. Watching any sunset from my pier on Winona Lake with Lynne and Iverson.
13. Listening to my son, Zack, play his guitars.
14. Driving by any courthouse or my old office and laughing, because I do not have to do that stuff anymore.
15. Playing music in the band at Oakbrook Church.
16. Watching the coots land on Winona Lake in the late fall.
17. Seeing a hawk on a telephone line anywhere in Indiana.
18. Looking up and seeing a perfectly trimmed sail on my sailboat.
19. Being inverted on the forty-five degree down line on the backside of a Cuban-eight, followed by a loop and roll in a Decathlon.
20. Puttering along at 80 kts five hundred feet above the ground, watching cars, cows, people and land go by.
21. Asparagus cooked in soy sauce with lots of salt and butter.
22. Any peach ice cream anytime. Or strawberry.
23. Any barbecue joint with pulled pork, cold slaw, baked beans, cornbread and sweet tea.
24. Gymnopedie No. One played on my Martin guitar through a Fender amp with slight chorus effect.
25. The curve of Lynne’s waist.
26. 19 kts in my wooden hydroplane.
27. Talking with my mom, when she remembers who I am.
28. Lunch with Tommy D.
29. The stock market over 12000.
30. Walking out of a church service determined to try to do better.
31. Giving Iverson a bath.
32. Any song by Leonard Cohen.
33. Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand.
34. “52 Vincent” by Richard Thompson.
35. Cooking dinner for friends.
36. The smell of lilacs blooming.
37. Seeing my daughter, who will always be two years old, anytime.
38. Taking off our shoes, and walking ashore on Omaha Beach with my son, Zach.
39. My oncologist saying that nothing is showing up in the CT scans and “come back in three months.”
40. Any new story from anyone about my dad.
41. Waking up in a sleeping bag on the Appalachian Trail and fixing oatmeal over a backpacking stove.

This is a partial list. I could go on all day. I never used to notice these things. Not so nowadays. I would urge you to make your own list. You would be surprised how much good it does you.
I have still not had lunch at Keisling’s, but I swear I will get that done.

Slow down. Life is short. Enjoy the little things. Share them when you can.

Mike out.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Update: James Caird II

Here is the latest picture of my Maine Peapod, which I have named James Caird II. All of the stringers, which run the length of the boat, have been installed and await planking.

I hope to start tomorrow, if I can kick the after effects of my most recent Chemo treatment. Further pictures to follow.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Give Thanks

We are here in Charlotte for the third time.

Third time (in three years) that we’ve made the trip;
Third time that we are enjoying this traditional Thanksgiving feast;
Third time we’ve STOOD BACK as my brother, spreadsheet/notes/timeline/cookbooks created the feast;
Third time’s the charm, I’ve heard.

MUCH to give thanks for this year: friends from my home church are safe at home after surviving an attack by armed invaders. Most everything else pales in comparison.

Except. This trip was only penciled in: would Mike be well? Would he be alive? And my sweet sister-in-law, who carries the added weight of a brain tumor: would she be well enough? Would she still be with us?

Yes to all of this.

Even as of Tuesday morning, our trip was still ‘penciled in.’ Mike had chemo on Monday and by Tuesday morning, he was dragging. He may beg to differ but I did not plan our route nor pack up my clothes. When I got home from school --- I rushed right home – he presented the sweetest picture. He was deep asleep, blanket tucked under his chin.

So, I took off my shoes and snuggled up. About an hour later, he awakened. “What are you doing?”


“We’ve got to get going.”

“If you want.”

“Come on. No time to waste on the likes of you.” (Bolinger cliché’)

So, an hour later than we had expected, we were headed south. Then it started to rain. Then we hit Indianapolis traffic. And more rain. We inched 15 miles in about an hour and Mike was getting frustrated.

“I’m heading home if this doesn’t clear up.”

“Ok with me.”

But, once south of Indianapolis, traffic thinned so we continued.

Our route – because after 3 years, we have a plan – is to drive to Lexington, KY, where there is a dog friendly Hampton Inn. We pulled in about 9.

A word about the motel: there aren’t so many places that permit pets. When we booked our room here the first time, we figured, I don’t know, that you would notice an animal-ness to the place. As it turns out, except for a walking path and doggie playground, and the occasional bark off in the elevator, you wouldn’t know that canines are in the house.

This place is as nice as any Hampton Inn we’ve stayed in; we love Hampton Inns. Lexington is about 4 hours from home so it makes a good stopping point on the 10 hour trip to Charlotte.

We hit the road around 9 on Wednesday and arrived at my brothers around 4. My mom and my sister Jan had already arrived AND had hit the mall.

Janelle’s blog, as she takes her readers with her through her illness, mentions her trips to Pinkberry’s. She posts photos of whatever she orders. I had said, absently, that I’d like to go this yogurt place. So, after supper, and Cheesecake factory pumpkin pie (getting in shape for the Big Day), we drove over and had ourselves some Pinkberry’s.

Why oh why do we not have this place in Kokomo?

Of course, there were multiple trips to "Ken's" Starbuck's.

So, here’s the count at my brother’s house: Ken and Janelle; Mike and me; new bride Brittany and her Kenneth; sister Jan. And our mom, Evelyn. Then, by the time the turkey is ready, Cousin Jeannie, neighbors and other friends make the party about 20, ranging from 2 to 90. Much good food and drink.

Pockets of conversation.

And then football/puzzles/computer and tablet time/and more food.

So many of these friends gather every Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas. Traditions are precious and sacred.

Ken’s prayer joined us and he raised to the Father the needs of those gathered, especially Mike and Janelle.

How blessed we are to be a part of this day. Thank you, Father, from whom all blessings flow.

Monday, November 21, 2011

THIS overshadows THAT

A week ago, 14 members of my church traveled to Haiti to work as short term missionaries. We ahve partnered with an agricultuarl settlement, Double Harvest, for many years. This was to be yet another routine trip, a time to serve and then come home to report.

Except it turned out to be anything but.....on Thursday night, 6 armed men converged on their sleeping quarters, attempting to take hostages.

In the pitch darkness, one man awoke to screaming and guns in the face. Then, in the next 10 minutes, the 14 drew from within themselves to hold off the attack.

I cannot do this justice, but I sat yesterday and listened to their accounts. Here is a link from Sunday.

Click here to listen to it on Oakbrook's website.The story is also reported at Channels 6, 8, 13, and 59 in Indianapolis.

They credit our God for their safety. Please pray for them as they heal, physically and emotionally from this ordeal.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

So, what do you make of that?????

This is the question raised by the hub when he wants my insight into a situation. I would get to opine occasionally when he was about to pick a jury and thought I might have an unusual connection to the voting list from which our juries are culled; when he had tried to explain something and the receiver had not, um, received it as he had expected; when his rational mind was challenged by the irrational.

And just recently. Around here, what some might label “irrational,” or “luck” or “bad luck,” or “coincidence,” we can see as an act of God: protection, a gift, a secret delight, a confirmation of His presence.

Today, Mike told me that he had not taken any of his pain medication for 3 days. And he is having no pain. “What do you make of that?” The diabetes…I guess it’s still a diagnosis, is more than under control. “What do you make of that?” During the last ERCP, that doctor found a tiny ulcer and is treating it. He said that some of Mike's discomfort may have been a result of this ulcer. “What do you make of that?”

His questions gave me reason to pause and think: oh yeah. My small group and I have been praying about Mike’s pain. My request has been that his pain will diminish. So, this is an answer to prayer. A big “duh” on this end.

And for the rest? Our penciled in plans for Thanksgiving are to drive again to Charlotte, NC, for a big family feast. We have joined Ken and Janelle for the last two years. We were not sure if Mike’s health would permit it. And, as you may recall, my sweet sister-in-law is battling a brain tumor. Their insistence was that we come if we can and celebrate in style. This year, my mother is coming from Florida and sister Jan is driving from Kansas.

Could it be….yes it could….that family members have been praying specifically that we will be able to come…..as of this Sunday afternoon, it looks like a go.

Personal note: I continue to identify God’s specific answers at a glacial pace. But I’m glad He keeps pointing them out to me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011


Look, I love boys. I am in love with two of the most gorgeous grandsons in God's creation. And I have a son. And I have a small team of nephews.

BUT, I love my nieces. Right now, I am blessed to be called Auntie by 7 extraordinary young women: two in college; a talented graphic designer; an MBA/super scrabble player, like her mom; an Alaskan whose Facebook pages are exotic to a Midwesterner; her sister who is likewise talented and a nurse; and the soon-to-be-Mama of Madison Miller. That new (female) addition is due to make her debut in December.

Her mom, Kristine, is the only niece who experienced my teaching from the desk side; she met her husband at Taylor University and they have recently purchased a first home in Kokomo. She is a teacher, a tennis coach, and soon, a mother.

So, some ladies celebrated the coming event at a shower last Saturday. Sister Kat (niece!) was the hostess. She's been practicing 'Aunt ness." From great-grandma to great aunt, to friends and mothers of friends, the fete filled the afternoon with pleasant reminiscences, advice and very good food.

Tick tick tick, Madison.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Is Anything Too Small For God?

Close Christian friends know that I struggle with taking the small things to God in prayer. I know.....we are to take all of our requests to our Father. Somehow, however, I've gotten the idea that I shouldn't' muck up His agenda with inconsequential requests. Like God has a finite amount of time and energy and I shouldn't be injecting some silly little thing.

With Mike's cancer, I have the understanding that requests in this area are the biggies, the kinds that we should pray about. But I still edit my needs when they strike me as small or a mess of my own making. I'm learning, though.

My husband is a man of many talents and interests. With what looks like our last of warm autumn on tap, he and his buddy decided to drive out into the country for some target shooting.

Another friend owns a patch of wooded land about 15 miles away. It is surrounded by fields, now harvested, and a smattering of homes. Our friend has built a tiny cabin next to a larger garage: in that garage he has quite a few ALVs and lots of other guy-stuff. It's great fun to go out there and motor through a large, flat field.

Anyway, as is his practice, Mike brought Ivy along and let her out. She likes to run through the trees and see how many brambles she can pick up in her coat. Mike and Tom spent the afternoon disturbing rural peace. Then, I got a phone call:

"We've got a problem," said Mike.

These days, that can be the lead off to a long list. "What's wrong?"

"I can't find Ivy. We've been all over the place. We've called her. She's no where."

"What do you want me to do?" I asked. "Should I get out there and help?"

Then, the list of questions: Has anyone called? NO. Does Ivy have a collar? YES. Doesn't she have a tag on the collar?" SHE USED TO. (See "So Us" in October) What can I do? I DON'T KNOW: COME RIGHT OVER."

So off I drove, west, to Burlington. Then RIGHT. Then, LEFT on County RD. 350. Then, look for the cross road after the jog.

I got there 20 minutes later. Mike had the strangest look on his face -- worry, sadness, helplessness, resignation. We fired up the ATVs and drove the large field. We stopped. We called. No dog.

Zach and his friend Tiffany arrived. She's a country girl and came better prepared. (I was still in heels) She had pulled on some sweat pants and a pair of waterproof boots. More ATVs, more transit, more calling.

And the sun was setting. A chilll dropped into the air. I sat down on a bench and watched Mike as he paced and rubbed his arms. Now the face was all sadness. Maybe she was lost. Maybe she was hurt. MAYBE, oh I hope not, maybe she has been hit by a car or caught in a fence, or she has met up with a hungry coyote.

There are few hazards out in the country. However, there are hunters, mud pits, larger stray dogs, barbed wire fences, and water. Where could she be? What would we do? And even with a collar, a finder would have no way of contacting her owner.

I just slumped onto a bench, folded my hands and had a talk with The Father. I reminded Him (this is SO ME) that Mike loves this dog, almost to distraction. When I'm at school, Ivy is his constant companion. Did I mention that Mike LOVESthis dog?

"Father. Please let us know what has happened to Ivy. If it is within Your will, please help us find her. If something has happened, please let us find out."

Mike announced that he would drive home, get his various medications, a blanket and pillow, and return to spend the night.

I don't argue with him.

Tiffany needed to get home so I drove her along dark county roads. As this is deer mating season, fields get thick with roaming deer. They can be a hazard in the twighlight, so the trip home took a while as I was on the lookout for that doe that would crash into my car. A few more moments in prayer, asking for protection from those phantom deer, and another request for Ivy's return or a sure outcome.

As I got home, Mike was heading back out. He planned to camp in his truck, near the spot where he had last seen her.

Rural county folks tend to be generous and helpful. Several had been golf carting around since we had left. Still no dog.

One gentleman, wise, told Mike that there was no reason to freeze. "Look, why don't you lay your coat on the ground? We'll put out some dog food. She'll find it, catch your scent, and wait for you to return in the morning. And," he added, "we'll keep looking for a while."

I'm glad that Mike took that advice. He returned home, long faced, took a shower and prepared for a sleepless night. We prayed again and turned out the lights.

You may know how this turned out:


Ivy was found, was safe, was curled up in Mike's jacket. He threw on some sweats and was out the door again. Within the hour, the Iverson was back in her home.

Today, she's sporting a new collar; a tag with all sorts of information (blood type?) AND quite a few big black brambles.

All is calm. All is bright.

Thank you, our Father. You love us more than we can imagine.

A One-Act Play from the Chemo Room

The chemotherapy room at Howard Community Hospital is in the shape of the letter “C” Very comfortable beige leather armchairs make up the “C”, while the space in the letter is the nurse’s station. Each chair can be privatized from its neighbor by pulling a curtain around the chair. This affords a degree of privacy, because some people go to sleep while being infused with the poison ( I have done this.} Sometimes, you want the curtain closed because the person in the next chair is not looking too good. That can be a real downer.

Oncology nurses, in my book, are nothing short of angels. They greet every patient with a smile and, oftentimes, a hug or pat. They are always up, never down. Frankly, I do not know how they do it. I could not handle that job. Most everybody dies of this infernal disease.

You can see this hard, immutable reality in the nurses’ eyes. They know that you may not die today, but they are aware that the relentless black horse can be seen on the horizon, always galloping closer.

I commented to one of my favorite nurses, Cathy Primerano, that I could not imagine the emotional toll the job must take on her. I asked her how she deals with it on a daily basis. To my surprise, Cathy told me that there were downsides, but they were greatly outweighed by the benefits. Surprised, I asked what the benefits were.

She told me that every day she was witness to astonishing courage and the incredible will to survive displayed by patients. She marveled at how grateful the patients were for the care that they were receiving and that she could tell sometimes that the patients could see the end and they were at peace with it, yet they continued to fight on for one more day, so they could make Thanksgiving or Christmas to be with family, or to see a loved one graduate from high school or college, or get married, or to see that first grandchild, or the tenth. She said she was inspired daily by her patients.

She said that she sometimes wished she could do more for them and she told me how much she hated the disease for what it did to patients.

This Monday I was being infused in “my” chair, when I looked at the man in the chair next to me. At first I did not recognize him, as the liver cancer was doing its vile job on him. John was a former client and a good one. He had grown a beard and had lost some weight, but he was still a big guy, maybe 6’ 2’. He had with him an old leather motorcycle jacket that had long been in the wind and was scraped and bruised and smelled like motor oil. That jacket and John, as bikers often say, had been down a time or two.
But it was the baseball hat that caught my attention. Instead of “New York Yankees” or some other logo, it said “Marine Recon.” His VietNam service ribbon was pinned to the hat. Like the coat, that hat had been around.

“You earn that hat, John?,” I asked.

“Damn right, Mike. Hardest thing I ever did, almost. Three tours, one in infantry, two in recon, “he replied.

“I am impressed. You were one of the baddest of the bad,” I said.

“Well, it was a long time ago when I was just a kid. I was only nineteen. There’s no way I should be here. Should have been dead a hundred times, but here I am.”

“What kind of cancer do you have?” I asked.

“I have been fighting liver cancer for 5 years now and I am tired of it. It has beat me down. I am always so tired. I can’t ride my Harley anymore. I can live with that, but I can’t stand being so tired all the time. I can’t deal with it any more. Most days I just want to lie down and rest, but even if I do, I am still dragging my butt when I get up. I hate it.”

“What are you going to do, John?”

“This is my last treatment. I am going to tell the doctor I’m done. I feel like I have done what my family and friends wanted me to do. I have had enough. Five years is a long time. How long for you?”

“Almost three years. Too damn long for sure. You know, if you quit, you might only have a couple of months. That’s it.”

“I know. I don’t care. I should have been dead a long time ago. I’ve had three heart attacks in the last year. It’s time.”

He spoke with an air of finality and I could tell he had given it a lot of thought. Frankly, I did not know what to say after that. So, I reached over and shook his hand and I told him I appreciated that he fought for us in Viet Nam. I told him I would attend his funeral if I was still alive and that it had been a privilege to represent him in court. I told him that I wished we had gone for a ride together. I told him he should be buried in his jacket and especially his hat.

He laughed and said, “I hadn’t thought of that. That’s a good idea. Thanks.”

“I’ll be looking for that hat,” I said.

Mike out

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Too Fast?

So, the hub visited with a new doctor today; he now has an endocrinologist to monitor the diabetes.

She downloaded the data on his little monitor, examined all those facts and figures and announced that he doing well.

In fact, perhaps TOO well. It seems that they expected his glucose level to drop, gradually, over several months, to a better level. She said that perhaps his newest fatigue is caused by his too quick drop from stratospheric to 'normal.'

She told him (so he says) that if he wants a candy bar, he can eat it with a strategy. If he wants to sip a wine cooler, something he has been missing, he can, with a strategy.

She also lowered his overnight medicine. "Let's see how you do," she said.

So, on with the adventure.

Today, Friday, we drive back down to Indianapolis for Mike's 4th ERCP. It was scheduled for the week of Thanksgiving and his doctor (which one?) decided that we should go for it tomorrow. The specialist (ANOTHER of our doctors) is sandwiching Mike in so instead of our favorite time, that being 8 AM, we cruise into the operating room at 11.

All OK. It WILL kill the day. Maybe it will be raining. TODAY, we got our first dusting of snow.

So, as you remember us, you are now up to date.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

James Caird II Update

The boat won on Wednesday as I was too sick to do anything
of significance. I won on Thursday, even though part of it was spent in the hospital.

Anybody ever given blood samples from a port and both arms? No fun.

The pictures show the curved parts that make up the bow and stern. Cut and trimmed by hand. Note keel is installed. The first sheer clamp is installed, giving the hull its beautiful shape.

More photos to follow.

Mike out.

Humming on a Saturday Afternoon

Was it, what? 3 weeks ago that the doctor dropped a new bomb: full blown diabetes.

From the initial shock and anger and worry and stress.....

We've been weathering along. Although the hub can exaggerate, I was sitting right there when the doctor explained the disease, with the stratospheric numbers of Mike's glucose.

"What if I don't do anything about this," he asked.
"Then you'll slip quickly into a coma," explained his doctor. "And you'll disappoint many people around here."
"I am not doing this," he said.
"Of course you will," the doctor winning out with her wise ways.

So, it's been three weeks of testing, charting, injecting, and eating more carefully. One week in, his doctor was less than satisfied so she doubled one type of injection. Wow oh Wow. Did THAT change things.

In the last week, Mike's numbers have been amazingly low. We even had an incident of low blood sugar.

He had taken his overnight injection. It was about an hour later.

"I feel really funny," he said.
"What do you mean, "asked the Frau.
"I'm sweaty, shaky, and, I don't know, my skin feels, well, funny," he said.

I am not a doctor. I do not play one on TV. I get most of my medical knowledge from USA Today which, you may notice, is always announcing something that is both really bad and really good for you.

I AM a veteran mom and in this case, a public school teacher. I knew that he was describing hypoglycemia. Blood sugar was too low.

I also knew that the quick fix was to drink some juice and then eat something a little longer acting. And I knew, as I headed to the kitchen, that I had thrown out all of the sugared drinks, bottled juices and cookies.

What to do? What to do?

I rummaged around and way in the back, I found some cranberry juice that had evaded my initial cleaning. In the freezer, waaaaay in the back, I found a petrified donut, probably glazed, and popped it in the microwave.

Hypoglycemia abated!

This week, the numbers are good. This morning, they were as low as are mine, which would win awards if such prizes were given.

Why? We asked.

Oh yeah. We have an army of prayer warriors. They ask our Father to help us, in anyway we need. And, as He is faithful, He does.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Random Thoughts About Cancer

Sometimes I just do not know what to think about my struggle with cancer. Given that I have endured this evil disease for nearly three years, I have almost become used to it. Dealing with it each day has become a way of life, or death, for me. Daily it leans on me, pushing me toward my grave, and I push back, trying to maintain my shrinking physical beachhead. It is relentless in trying to define what is left of my life by throwing up daily roadblocks designed to gnaw away my remaining life.

I have learned that there are certain things I can no longer do, because my body is not as strong as it once was. I have learned to pace myself through the day. I never run. I walk. I enjoy my afternoon nap, most days, because I need it. I have learned how to get through painful, sleepless nights, which seem to be increasing in number, and I know enough to not even try to do some things I used to do.

I would like to think I am compromising with the disease, but that is only wishful thinking. It always trumps me, eventually. Maybe I win on Monday, but it’s back on Tuesday. It never

lets up. There is no slack and it gives no quarter.

I love building wooden boats. Constructing them differs from building furniture, as the tolerances are not so critical. I like to think that my mortise-and tenon joints, which are basic to quality furniture construction, are accurate to 1/64th of an inch. With a wooden boat, get it

within 1/8th of an inch and you are good to go.

Wood bends; it can be clamped in place, epoxy can be added, or a screw installed to close a gap. Building a wooden boat is stress free, compared to building good furniture.

After much internal debate, I am building another wooden boat, a 13 foot peapod. You can row it or sail it, depending on how you fit it out. The long term problem that I have is that I am in a race with the boat. Completing it will take three to six months. Can I finish it before I am gone? Which of us will win? Me or the boat?

The immediate problem is that I am running out of strength and stamina. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so pitiful. Today, I needed to handplane two pieces of wood for the boat. It used to be that I could do this simple task in just a few minutes. Five or six passes with my exquisitely sharp Stanley No. 4 plane would have made short work of the job.

Not today. It took me almost ten minutes and I was exhausted. I made three or four passes with the plane and I was gasping for air and had to sit down to catch my breath.


So, I moved a chair next to the workpiece and sat down. Five or six more passes and I laid my head on the workbench to rest. A few more passes and I was out of breath again. And so it went, until I finished the task. I got it done, but I was literally exhausted.

I remember once that I had not eaten in three days. I picked up my forty pound backpack and trotted 5 miles through the woods to pick up a 16 foot aluminum canoe, which I then carried by myself for 3 miles on a trail to a river. I paddled with my partner down the river for 12 miles and dropped off the canoe. Then I ran 10 miles through the woods on a compass course, finishing my Outward Bound school. I didn’t even breath hard. I was an animal back then. It was a lark. I may not have been the fastest, but I would never quit and I could go forever.

I remember swimming in college. It was the hardest money I ever made. Six miles a day in
the pool six days a week will turn you into a machine. I weighed 135 pounds and was cold all the
time. This was because I had no body fat. None. I was solid muscle tuned for one purpose--- sprint the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke. I could swim the 50 free in one breath, the one I took off the starting block. Those were the days when I was going to live forever and only other people got cancer.

Now I have to rest my head on my workbench and sit on a chair to accomplish a simple task.

The only thing I can say about the physical challenges confronting me is that I still may not be the fastest, but I am not going to quit, either. Maybe the boat will win and my friend, Brian, will finish it. Maybe I will survive long enough to finish it and sail it across Winona
Lake. Who can know? Time will tell.

Mike out.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A Gift: "The Old Gray Couple"

They have only to look at each other to laugh--
no one knows why, not even they:
something back in the lives they've lived,
something they both remember but no words can say.

They go off at an evening's end to talk
but they don't, or to sleep but they lie awake--
hardly a word, just a touch, just near,
just listening but not to hear.

Everything they know they know together--
everything, that is, but one:
their lives they've learned like secrets from each other;
their deaths they think of this in the nights alone.

She: Love, says the poet, has no reasons.
He: Not even after fifty years?
She: Particularly after fifty years.
He: What was it, then, that lured us, that still teases?
She: You used to say my plaited hair!
He: And then you'd laugh.
She: Because it wasn't plaited.

Love had no reasons so you made one up to laugh at. Lơok! The old, gray couple!

He: No, to prove the adage true:
Love has no reasons but old lovers do.
She: And they can't tell.
He: I can and so can you.
Fifty years ago we drew each other, magnetized needle toward the longing north.
It was your naked presence that so moved me. It was your absolute presence that
was love.
She: Ah, was!
He: And now, years older, we begin to see absence not presence: what the world
would be without your footstep in the world--the garden empty of the radiance
where you are.
She: And that's your reason?-that old lovers see their love because they know
now what its loss will be?
He: Because, like Cleopatra in the play, they know there's nothing left once
love's away...
She: Nothing remarkable beneath the visiting moon...
He: Ours is the late, last wisdom of the afternoon. We know that love, like
light, grows dearer toward the dark.

-Archibald Macleish

Sunday, October 23, 2011

THE BRICK and Shameless Name-dropping

So, Friday night we drove over to Morgan and Sandra Young's home for The BRICK. Check out http://www.thebrick.com/ and wallow in envy.

Anyway, Morgan, the ever affable host, was snapping away so I'll share these photos. (We look better in black and white...vintage skin tones, you know.

It was great to run into my buddy, Erin Shultz, who is the entertainment editor at The Kokomo Tribune. She is skilled at scoping out 'What's Happenin' ' in our little town. She makes it ALL sound exciting.

She's also witty, fearless, and a Believer. We e-mail and text but our lives haven't crossed physically for awhile. She got to The Brick and we had ourselves a face-to-face time.

And here is her guy. He swooped in with ingredients for a specialty pizza.



(Large discussion of pronounciation: VAY-gun? VEE-gun?)

No matter: icky. I just KNOW it. Have I tried it? No, like sushi, I just know it will taste ICKY. (Don't tell me about California rolls, thank you.)

Now HERE'S some REAL PIZZA, homemade and fresh from the oven.

I don't know which 'one' this is but all of Sandra's non-vegan pizzas are YUM!

Ok ok. Who's that guy over there, chomping on the vegan pizza? The one who pushed the chef aside and helped himself?

Hmmmm. That would be the hub. He likes it. He also does NOT like too much PDA.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Needles and Updates

I must confess that last Friday night, I felt like we were at the foot of the highest mountain and that there was NO WAY we would climb up and over.

And, yes, I avoided James chapter 1. God has smacked me upside the hay-id several times with the book of Janes. I sank down, weak, and called out to friends to pray for us.

And so many of you did.

And God's loving arms lifted us up and over.

On this bright, autumn Saturday, I report that we are good here. One week in and we are rolling smoothly through the new routine.

Mike's glucose levels are down from the scary numbers of last weekend. His insulin time is just another thing, and a small thing, that slips in before meals, which are now planned a bit more.....who am I kidding?....planned....

Last night, we went to The Brick (thebrick.com) and enjoyed friends and food. Yes, food. We are learning that what looked like severe restriction is merely a more deliberate approach to what goes into the mouth.

So, once again, as always, thank you for keeping us within God's protective custody in such tanglible ways.

Oh yes, And James 1:

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:

2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,
3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.

6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
9 Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.
10 But the rich should take pride in their humiliation—since they will pass away like a wild flower.
11 For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich will fade away even while they go about their business.
12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
16 Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
17 Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
18 He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, (not this time, but God has directed my eyes to THIS verse many, many, many times)
20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.
23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror
24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.
25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.
27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

If you have a half hour

Our church posted Mike's talk to their web site.

Today, in school, one of our teachers showed it to all of her medical terminology classes. Some of my students are in those classes. They have dropped by just to give me a hug.

Then, there are those who don't know me. Many of THEM have dropped by to give me a hug.

It comes as no surprise to those who are tech saavy but it will continue to amaze us: once something is on line, out there, whatever you call it, it will take on a life of its own.

May God be glorified.


Sunday, Octobver 17, 2011

As Mike said, once he knew that he was part of God's plan, he knew that someday he would speak at our church. That someday was Sunday.

After a rather typical, superlative Praise and Worship set, our pastor, Mark Malin, introduced Mike and then left the stage.

And for the next 30 minutes, Mike bared his heart and related what God has taught him through this experience of 1) being diagnosed with terminal cancer; 2) being given 6 - 9 months to live; 3) experiencing remission; and 4) being faced, once again, with a ticking clock.

For those of you who have ridden with us since May 2009, you have seen much of the journey. Let us not forget, any of us, ever, that this entire process has been bathed with prayer. Here in Kokomo, we live within the protective bubble of your prayers for us.

For those of you who were not in attendance, let me say that I know God spoke through Mike.

What a blessing for him and me. How humbling to be used in His service. These photos are compliments of another of our pastors (and friend) Morgan Young.

And, by the way, doesn't the hub look cute????


Our love to you. Lynne and Mike

Monday, October 17, 2011

A New Wrinkle and New Toys

Last weeks was NUTS!

Mike began his new chemo regime so we wrote off weirdnesses to 'side effects.' First, he was exhausted. Then, he climbed out of bed hungry and thirsty. Again, we assumed he was making up for the day before.

He worked on his new boat while I was at school. Then, in the evenings, things really got crazy. Twice, middle of the night, he nudged me and asked if McDonald's was open. Well, yes, our local is 24/7. Is America great or what?

"I want some hot cakes," he said.

"I can make some, you know." I used to cook.

"No, that's too much work. Can you go and get me some from Mickey D's?"

Well, sure. On with the sweats, out to the car, down the street to the Golden Arches. He devoured them (the hotcakes).

We had a repeat on Wednesday night. You might question the choice of errand boy. But, right now, I like to do for him when I can. (I get the coffee)

Also, during the day, he was thirsty. Really thirsty. We purchase some of those 2 liter juice bottles and he was chugging them; we ran out of our supply of white grape and cran-apple. (Gourmets here)

Then, when I came up the drive on Thursday, he greeted me by standing in front of my car. He had a strange look in his eyes. I rolled down the window.

"Do you know what I weigh?"

Well, no, not today.

"I'm not getting enough food."

"I have a steak for supper."

"That's too far away. Take me to Fazoli's, right now!"

Oh. Ok.

We drove about a mile before I raised the question. "You can drive, right?"

"Yes, I guess."

"And we have, what? 4 friends nearby who will come over anytime, right?"



By then, we were turning into the parking lot of pasta paradise. Into the shop. He ordered fettuccine Alfredo and sucked it down.

Feeling a bit better, it was time to talk.

"Are you ok?" I asked.

"I think I'm really dehydrated. I'm thirsty all the time."

"Do you think you should call your doctor?"

Mike said that he would go out to the hospital in the morning. His thought was that they could give him some IV fluids and he'd be fine.

The next day, I received some messages. From Zach: Dad wants you to know that he's at the hospital. Hmmmmm. I assumed as much.

Then, Tom called the school and they put him through to my classroom. His message was that Mike said I should not leave early (SUCH a Bolinger!) but I should come out to the hospital as soon as school was over.

Hmmmmmmm. This is NOT IV fluids. It would have been easy to leave early, as my department head suggested, but I'm still the good wifey so I waited until 2;30.

Mike was lazing in the chemo treatment room. Then the news.

He has developed 'full blown' diabetes. His glucose was 'off the charts.' (As a non-scientist, all those numbers mean very little...except I know MY numbers are good...around 90.. and his were over 1000) They wanted to admit him to get his 'numbers under control."

He was NOT happy. He was adamant that he would NOT stay in the hospital after Saturday. He was scheduled to speak at our church and he was not going to miss it.

First came the Diabetes Educator. As she talked, the patient was NOT happy. He asked no questions (I did). Then came the Diabetes Specialist with more information. Then, Angel Oncologist. NOW the hub had plenty to say.

"I'm not doing this."

"Of course you are."

"What if I don't?"

"Then you'll slip into a coma, fairly soon."

"So what?"

She's developed a relationship with THIS incarnation of the hub. She convinced him that spending the night in the hospital would help him clear his head.

He sent me home. He was NOT happy.

And me? Here's the good Christian girl: God? WHAT ELSE??? NO, I DON'T WANT TO READ James 1.

I sent out a quick note to family and pastors and asked for prayer for us in this special challenge. God showed up, as He always does.

We both needed a good night's sleep. With another beautiful autumn day dawning, I knew that we would attack this challenge like we have everything else. Mike's rest helped him, too.

I went to the grocery store with my notes. He had a quick lunch with Tom. And so begins our new adventure...planning, poking, reading, medicating...

Mike has the icky part. Mike often speaks of TOYS. He has a whole new set of toys.

I get to renew some dusty skills on meal planning and nutrition. We will both be healthier so this is all good.

Thanks for your continued prayers as we tackle this new challenge.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rollin' Rollin' Rollin' on the River

Mike and his siblings used to plan an annual hiking/camping trip in southern Indiana. They called it the L.Owen Memorial Trek, in honor of their father. These long weekends involved hauling backpacks over hilly country and camping out....really out....tents/sleeping bags/cook fires/washing in the river.

Several times, I served as 'shotgun,' meaning I drove and picked up. (MY idea of 'roughing it' is staying in a motel with no cable.)

Anyway, Mike has been a no show lately but last week, he and Lisa and Matt took to the Eel River for an afternoon of kayaking. Mike said it was so easy that he faced backward much of the time.

Except when Matt snapped these photos.

Peaceful times in God's nature.....with family...few things can be better than that?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Getting Ready for Sunday

Mike will be speaking at our church next Sunday. We pray that God will use Mike's story to touch and reach those who God brings to the services.

We know that our friends have been praying for us and especially for him as he prepares. And wouldn't you just know it? His throat is sore today. His strength is down. Isn't that just like the enemy -- to attack when God wants to use us in a specific way?

So, we'll ask you to target your prayers for Mike as he prepares his talk. Pray that the sore throat passes and his energy rises.

And, that God will be glorified in this man's story.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Old Dogs: New Tricks

SO us.

This is what our daughter says about her family of origin: she means that her parents put up with things that don’t work or that work just well enough to get the job mostly done. Around here, a great many do-dads and what-nots operate at less than maximum mode.

We use the thing until it absolutely doesn’t work or we lose it or we try to use it and mess it up.

We have an idea about security: we're fer it. We're just not good at it.

We have a sort of thing that opens the garage doors from inside the house. It’s only about 2” square. It’s easy to lose; the battery (or whatever) is so weak that you must press it, wait, press it again, wait, and then give it a BIG squeeze to open a door 50 feet away. So, it works.

Could we get something else? I bet we could. But until this breaks or gets permanently lost we cannot find it, this little gizmo will open our garage doors.

We used to keep one garage side door unlocked. Then, one evening, several kids broke in (does it count if it wasn’t locked? (SO us)) and stole a motorcycle. The thieves tried to move it through the door, knocking the mirrors off. They did not notice that the key was in the ignition (SO us) and so walked it several blocks and then tossed it in the weeds.

We got it back and fixed the mirrors. The hub purchased a major locking padlock that fitted into a hinge. Then, he lost the key. So that door is REALLY locked. Good thing we can open the garage doors!

SO us.

Keys – old, new, used, never used, colored, mystery – keys are an issue. That may be genetic. When my father-in-law passed away, he had a deep box full of keys. Unlabeled. Given enough time, we can unlock anything.

Combination locks: we have a collection. And on various book jackets, slips of paper, and address notebooks, we have combinations. Lots and lots of 3 number secrets. Most are not labeled to their locks.

Then, there's an ongoing challenge with electronic media.

Televisions make me shake. I believe you cannot purchase one now with a manual control. Or it's well-hidden. The one I have in my classroom is not even all that new but if you lose the remote, you’re in trouble.Or if I accidently push the wrong button, I get all sorts of menus….”Input” “Default” or “Something I Don’t Understand.” My students know that if they don’t jump to my aid. I’ll just turn the whole thing off and bore them with the lecture. They are well-trained.

Then there’s our television at home…do you still call it that? The hub purchased a big screen TV and we hooked up major cable…do you still call it that? With it, the technician handed me a silver remote with many, many, many buttons.

Plus they gave us two black remotes. Even MORE buttons. I grabbed the installer and would not let him leave until he taught me how to turn it on and turn it off.

“Easy. Just use this red one. Watch. On. Off.”

“What about the others?"

“Just don’t touch the other buttons. As for the other remotes, just put them in a drawer and leave them alone. You’ll be ok.”

After he left, I deftly demonstrated me new skills. The hub seemed content to let me be the Power Ranger of the new TV.

Alas. In the middle of the night, the love of my life landed an elbow into my side. “There’s something wrong with this TV.”

I rolled over. To my horror, he had found those other remotes and was punching away.
My go-to plan is to turn off. I turned it off. Then I took the black remotes away. “We’re not supposed to touch these,” I said.

“Then, why do we have them?”

The middle of the night is no time for philosophical discussions.

I was able to turn the TV back on. Red button.

Since then, I have enlarged my skills and now, sometimes, I can DVR (!) and find my way to On Demand.

In my lifetime, a car radio was an option. You could get a car with a blank dashboard. If you went for the electronic option, you would turn on the radio (click the nob to the left), you could dial in a station (manually turn the other nob) and then set that place by slipping your pinkie under a button, find a hole, pull the button out and then push it back in. That locked in that location until you wanted to change it.

Simple, simple, simple.

Today, we both have car radios that are much more complicated. You need to rest the instructions on the seat and work through 5 pages, step-by-step, to change channel choices.
Until Indiana joined the rest of the world and adopted Daylight Savings Time, we did not have to change the clocks. Now we do. THAT takes another session with the directions.

Or we could move to Arizona. Toss up.

My car clock is currently 5 minutes slow. It’s almost time for ‘Fall Back’ when I’ll have to dig out the booklet, so I live with this wrong time shining at me from the dash. SO us.

Mike’s radio/clock/CD/GPS/microwave (kidding) (I think), is much more complicated. You’d think, wouldn’t you, that to change the time, you’d press the CLOCK icon. You’d think. That only makes things flash. You still have to figure out what nob or button or dial will change the minutes and seconds, and set AM or PM.

We have more than a few small radio/CD players that we cannot use. We cannot figure out how to change channels. Occasionally we get frustrated/motivated and give it a go. Luck and persistence sometimes gets us a channel change. Sometimes. But it's hit or miss.

SO us.

So, is it any wonder that the hub has a small clocked radio/CD/alarm clock by his bedside that has perplexed us both for quite a time.?

Several, several years ago, when he needed it, the clock got set to go off at 7:00 AM. It would buzz, slowly at first, and then accelerate to a whine and then a loud, long beeeeeeeeeeep. If he was slow to respond, his reward that that beep. It was annoying enough to get him to slap it off before that happened.

It’s a cheap clock and it is about 10 minutes fast. AND it still was going off every day at 7 AM

(6:50...SO us.)

It’s been almost 3 years since the hub needed to rise at 7. The clock still sounds the alarm.
I asked him if he would like to turn off the alarm.

“Yes, but I don’t know how.”

SO us.

However, what did we find inside the drawer right under the clock? The booklet. (Notice: near the clock. What a concept!) The one that shows how to set the clock AND turn off the alarm. I report that the hub figured it out. We no longer get the alarm.

So, Daughter Dear: nanananana. Old dogs/new tricks.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Two Specific Prayer Requests

And so ends another gorgeous weekend at the lake. From last week to this, the trees have gone from the hint of autumn to full bore explosions of red and orange and yellow.

Out away from town, there’s that almost forbidden scent of burning leaves. Ok, I know it’s probably bad for the environment, but to me, it’s as much a part of autumn as are caramel apples. Yum.

And let me repeat: YUM!

As you head into this week, our friends, we’ll ask for specific prayers on our behalf.
Mike begins a new round of treatment on Monday. I believe he gets ‘infused’ on Monday, takes pills for 6 days and then back to the oncology department. Except for the poison part, he looks forward to these trips: the unit is staffed with angels who smile, pat, hug, and giggle whenever they can. As for the treatment: we hope to buy time, to keep new growth in check, to see many more glorious weekends together.

Speaking of weekends, next Sunday, Mike will be speaking at our church, Oakbrook Community Church, in Kokomo. Way back two years ago, our minister interviewed Mike who was, as you may remember, facing mortality in the face. That interview was used in a church-wide small group setting. About 6 months ago, another local church asked to interview Mike. Then, they posted it on their web site and, as they say, it went viral. Then, about a month ago, Mike spoke at the Kokomo Huddle, a weekly lunchtime men’s meeting at the YMCA.

Each time, Mike has come to see that this is, at least, one of the reasons that God has waited to take him home. Mike has learned a lot and has been able to impart that to others. We know it is God’s work. So, the next time, up there on the dais, all by his lonesome, facing his homies, he feels the pressure and import.

Look, you and I know that he’ll do fine. What our prayer is: that God will be honored, that God’s message for someone in attendance will be clearly delivered; that Mike will have the energy to do his job at both services, 9 and 11.

That’s it for now. Thanks.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Gift of Hospitality

It's one of the greatest gifts: there are those who open their houses to others and make their guests feel at home.

Such gifted folks are Morgan and Sandra Young. About once a month, their Friday night becomes THE BRICK. Folks follow their noses to the house on S. Indiana. Fresh, homemade pizza heads the menu; guests may bring some items; and once you've been, your invite is a given for the rest of your life.

Morgan and Sandra hope that guests will bring guests. In the two years or so that we've been regulars, the group has grown into an eclectic gathering.

When you enter, you can migrate to the kitchen where, on one counter, Sandra has stacked a wall of rising dough, captured in plastic bags. Then, over there are bowls and packages of toppings. And, the Brick for baking.

And the wine/soda/water/coffee/etc. for the thirsty pizza lovers.

So, last Friday, there we were. Morgan, a man of many talents, has a photography business and sent these photos of the hub. I wanted to share them with you.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Interesting Legal Scenery

My friend, and former Chief of Police, Thomas Dinardo, is a man of many personas, more than “good cop/bad cop.” As he would tell you, each of the personas has its particular use and purpose. Not all of the personas are appropriate in a particular situation. Some are frequently in use, and some get taken off the rack, dusted off, and put into use only under special circumstances, and then returned to storage. As Tom would tell you, the trick is to know what persona needs to be utilized. That takes years of experience.

Being a cop and doing police work involves a lot more than just carrying a gun and arresting someone. In fact, Tom would tell you that good cops are frequently called upon to improvise plans to deal with all sorts of different events which are not criminal in nature. People frequently unknowingly create situations that require police assistance. He would also tell you that much of police work involves defusing situations so as to not arrest anyone or create alarm. Consider the following event and ask yourself how you would have handled it in real time.

Judge Eleanor Stein presided over the misdemeanor and small claim court in Kokomo for a number of years. “Judge Ellie,” as she was locally known, was an elegant, educated Jewish grandmother. She brought judicial decorum and impeccable manners to the local court, where the underprivileged, uneducated, unwashed public routinely appeared. I always thought she brought class to the system. I liked her a lot.

Judge Ellie was not long on legal knowledge, which is not generally needed in small claim court, anyway. She rarely found criminal defendants “not guilty,’ which often irritated the defense bar. On the other hand, she could hardly bear to put anybody in jail, which evened things up with the prosecution. It all worked out most of the time and, as they say, justice was served.

One afternoon Tom was waiting to testify in Ellie’s court. He was reviewing his notes in the case. At that time the criminal defendants were also seated in the same row. The study of his notes was interrupted by Judge Ellie, who asked, “Officer Dinardo, would you approach the bench?”
Tom got to his feet and warily walked up to the bench looking for a reason Judge Ellie had requested his immediate presence. Seeing nothing out of order Tom quietly asked, “What can I do for you, your Honor?”

At that time, Judge Ellie leaned far over the front of the bench, turned and lowered her head so no one could see or hear what she was going to say to Tom, who moved as close as he could get to her. “I want you to take care of that for me,” she whispered. She jerked her head back the opposite way, her eyes never leaving Tom’s, as she tried to direct his attention to the opposite direction she was looking. Tom turned slightly, scanned the crowd, and told her he did not see anything.

“Not there, Tom, over there,” she said, motioning with her head.

Tom turned to the new direction and scanned the criminal occupants of the first row. At first only the usual suspects were observed. And then, Tom’s supernatural powers of observation zeroed in on Bob Dough, who was seated right in front of Judge Ellie. Bob was completely oblivious to the goings on around him as he was quietly talking to himself and the demons who had been occupying the bottle of wine he consumed before court. Except that the alcohol was not the problem. Not by a long shot.

Unfortunately, Bob had lost the crotch of his Goodwill pants, which had allowed his unrestrained immenseness with all related attached parts, to come to a state of quiescence on top of his chair in direct line of Judge Ellie’s elevated view.

Tom immediately said, “I’ll take care of it, Judge.” Tom positioned himself between the offended judge and sat down in front of Bob.

“Bob, what is the matter with you?” said Tom. “Your crank is falling out of your pants, man. We can’t have this."

At which time, the half inebriated, partially conscious Bob put both of his feet on the floor, leaned over to get a better view, and moved his knees further apart. Of course this allowed Bob’s now totally exposed member and its lesser lights to, literally, fully escape Bob’s pants and to allow them fresh air and the sun, much to the horror of some and amusement of others.

“Oh my goodness,” said Bob. “What am I going to do? I can’t go home, I have to testify in my case.”

“You are going to have trust me on this, Bob. I’ll see to it that your case is last so you have time to change and get back here. Now go home and change your pants.”

Bob headed toward the court room door, running a gauntlet of curious eyes. Just as he was almost to the door, Tom said, “And Bob…remember that underwear is not optional in court. See you later.”

Judge Stein said, “Officer Dinardo, the court is in great debt to you today. Thank you.”
“No problem at all, your honor. I am always here to protect the community…from whatever.”

Mike out.