Thursday, March 31, 2011

On Swans and Friends

It was mid-November and I was standing on the shoreline of Winona Lake, next to my stacked pier sections and boat lift. A north wind was blowing down from Lake Michigan and blasting across Winona, kicking up foot and a half waves, topped by gray whitecaps, smashing into my seawall. The wind carried an icy drizzle with it, running down the back of my neck. Winter was definitely on the way.

Far across the lake I could just make out several hundred, if not a few thousand, geese, ducks, coots and other wildfowl which had stopped off on Winona for the night during their winter migration. The was a cacophony of hoots, quacks, honks, warbles and just about any kind of bird noise you could imagine, echoing over the water, spanning the entire lake. About five hundred yards from where I was standing, a gaggle of swans paraded regally by in single file. I could just barely make them out in the fading winter light. I raised my binoculars, rested my elbows on the pier sections, and began to count. One…two …four…six…seven. Unusual. Swans mate for life and travel in groups of mating pairs, so I expected to count ten, twelve or maybe fourteen, which would be five, six or seven pairs. But there were just seven swans.

I scanned the procession and noticed that one through six were pure white with the prominent black eyes that swans have, while number seven was spotted gray. Seven was not maintaining his distance from Six. He was about five feet behind, rather that the customary three feet between the others. Also, his long neck was drooping lower that the others. I thought to myself that Seven was sick, tired from the migration, or very old. Maybe all three.

Suddenly, based on an imperceptible signal from one of the swans, all seven swans began a unison takeoff run. I could hear each swan suck in enormous breaths of air. I could hear each of their powerful wings beat the wind looking for enough lift to get airborne. One through six soared up into a climbing left turn. Seven was struggling. I could tell he recognized the others were airborne. I heard Seven take in three or four huge breaths as he reached inside for a maximum effort. The trailing edges on his wing tips were cutting little furrows in the whitecaps. With a final effort…Seven didn't make it. He settled back into the water, folded up his wings, and gasped for breath.

Oh, no I thought. What is going to happen to this lone, worn out swan? To my astonishment, all six airborne swans continued their left turn and then landed on either side of Seven. They formed up in their queue and began leisurely swimming. I continued to watch. This time Seven was not last in the line. He was three. Interesting, I thought. I wonder why the change in position? Suddenly as before, an imperceptible signal was given and another mass takeoff was in the works. Except this time, Seven was not seven. He was three. I do not know if it was the lift provided by the stronger front two swans, but I saw Seven soar into the air with all of them. I was so thrilled I jumped up and down and yelled, "Go Seven, you did it! Climb!"

I watched them fly out of sight. I haven't seen them since. I often wonder about Seven. Is he still flying? Probably not. But I learned this about those swans…they were looking out for each other and they were not going to leave a friend behind. That we should do so well.

Men are odd, solitary creatures. I should know, I am one and I am very odd. Most men have many acquaintnances, but it is rare they have any friends. Is there a difference? Absolutely, but few men know it. An acquaintance is someone you might hang out with after work. Share a pizza with. Go over to his house and watch a ballgame. Maybe work out with. Bike with. Run with. Swim with. Race with.. Kid around with. And that is where it stays. It doesn’t get past these artificial activities.

Friends, on the other hand, may do all of those things above, but call you at two in the morning and say I've got a problem and I need to talk to you. Can I come over? And you say sure, I'll put on the coffee. And when those two friends sit down across the kitchen table, you never know what it is going to be. It can be " I think I getting a divorce". Or " I've been cheating on my wife." Or " I think I'm drinking too much." Or " I think I'm going to lose my job." Or " I might have a drug problem." Or " a problem with porn." Or " I think I'm bankrupt." You just never know. But they need someone to talk to and you are the only one they can level with, and vice versa.

I am a rich man, as I have nine friends. Few men have two. I have professionally represented six of them. I have given legal advice to all of them upon request. We have swapped secrets for years and all of us can keep our mouths shut. We don't give advice unless asked. It is enough to sit silently and listen. Few understand that.

Sometimes that is all that is needed to sort through a problem. I frequently get phone calls from these guys. My wife knows who they are. If they read this blog, there will know who they are.

Recently, one of my friends called late in the evening about a long term legal problem. Lynne and I were lying in bed and she could hear half the conversation. When it ended, she said to me, "What are your wounded swans going to do when you are gone? I can't help them with their problems." "They won't expect you to," I said. "You are not me. You are not their friend." True enough.

All I know is this. If you are my friend, you will get my undivided attention anytime or place. Your secrets are safe with me. And I will never try to run your life. Because in the end, we are all wounded swans trying to get airborne and we leave no man behind.
Mike out.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

CHEMO: Day Four

Mike's doctor is on vacation this week so her associate met with him. They discussed the occasional fever and my insistence that the hub go to the Emergency Room.

BTW: as per printed instructions. We're readers in this house. We read those pages of inserts that come with prescriptions. (I skip over 'occasional side effects' as I am, um, empathetic....some MAY say hypochondriac, and if I read about a slight itch on the left wrist, well.......)

When Mike chose to begin Chemo, we got 6 pages of information. Part of the instructions were "When your temperature reaches 100.5, you must be seen at the hospital. MUST. I also appreciate accuracy in words. THIS doctor, according to the hub, so this is now third hand, seem to agree with Mike that at least our last trip, Saturday night, was unnecessary if "that's all they do for you."

His temp. had spiked (several numbers higher than 100.5) and I had dragged him out into the frosty night and to the hospital where we sat for 2 hours. By the time they took us to triage, the temp. was back to normal. But we were there with the wrist band and all so it turned into a night in a chilled examining room.

For those who count noses, THAT'S why we skipped church. ZZZZZ

I need some clarification on this temperature issue and will talk to his regular doctor when she returns. Anyway, Monday was Day Four. Mike had created a framed Arts and Crafts mirror for his special nurse so he handed the gift to her. Then, he took what has become his usual chair and sat for the treatments. Home and out to lunch with a friend. Then, off to the Y for the swim. Then, home for more work in the shop. Then, a dinner meeting with some clients. Yes, he's still cranking out a little work. There are quite a few people who would be lost without this attorney to sort their lives back into reasonable order.

He was tired when he got home. Long, long day.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Silly, Funny, Laugh Out Loud

Last Friday, as mentioned earlier, I was part of our student pep session at Kokomo High School. Son Zach showed up and captured this video for all time. I'm the one in the backward visor.

Friday, March 25, 2011


School keeps me busy. Each day, I work with 150 students. Since I returned to the classroom, I’ve developed relationships with almost all of 450 students. We share 18 weeks together and can’t help but bond a bit.

As our lives in our home are so clearly ordered by God, I’m sure that some of these kids were the reasons I was to return. Several students have parents or grandparents suffering with cancer. These teenagers lend an empathy to any conversation.

Some have had little finesse in working with adults, as all students have their temperaments and some struggle to get along with teachers. Some of those kids can be charmed by the right person and, this time, I have been that person.

I stopped asking God to show me the special ‘who’s’ in my room. I rest in the confidence that He is using me. I know that my students enrich my life.

One such student studied American Literature with me last semester. She was bright and funny. She almost always read her assignments. She was a writer. We had several back and forth e-mails as she was searching for ‘just the right word’ for something. She liked to pick my brain for tips about staying her focus for her projects.

Like many of my juniors, she was also a student athlete. As the semester ended, an illness took her to the doctor who diagnosed ovarian cancer. She underwent operations, chemo, other therapies, all with the hope that she would beat this disease.

Her many friends and team mates rallied as only kids can: they organized fund raisers, marches, prayer meetings. They got T-shirts printed. Kids all over the school wore these shirts. Cheerleaders passed cans at the basketball games to raise money for cancer research.
Her Facebook page would include updates from her, plus well-wishes from so many friends.

Alas, she lost her battle last week, just shy of 3 months after her diagnosis. Her passing rippled through our school and into our classrooms. For so many of my juniors, this is their first close experience with death.

It just feels so wrong when a child dies. The universe seems out of whack. These days, schools bring crisis counselors into the building when a potentially traumatic event occurs. But there’s also the time when it seems that life goes on as if nothing has happened. I faced her friends all week, the wound large, raw, and right on the surface.

How cruel it seems to go on with normal activities when this huge hole looms. But, ultimately, life goes on and so must we all.

It was no coincidence that we were at our study of Emily Dickinson. Miss Emily wrote a lot about death. And, not to trivialize the girl’s passing as a segue into a lesson, what I explained was that poets often give tangible voice to the vague fears and other feelings we all experience at times like this.

THIS world is not conclusion;
A sequel stands beyond,
Invisible, as music,
But positive, as sound.
It beckons and it baffles;
Philosophies don't know,
And though a riddle, at the last,
Sagacity must go.
To guess it puzzles scholars;
To gain it, men have shown
Contempt of generations,
And crucifixion known.

And, yes, we could talk about what the poet believed. And with my students, we can walk this path together.

Juxtapose that event with another.

A strange vib exists as we left the building today. Our high school basketball team is headed to Indianapolis and the state tournament tomorrow night.

This is Indiana. Basketball, from toddler league on up, is a big big deal. The Kokomo Wildkats have traveled to the finals several times over the years. We took the crown 50 years ago. Two of our players are the sons of former champion players. There’s a community buzz as the crowd hits the road to the Conseco Field House.

We had a school-wide pep session during the last period today. Music, dancing, bands, drum lines, cheerleaders, the team, and a ruckus student body vibrated the walls of our gym.
And to support the team, or to show school spirit, or to entertain the troops, or for some secret reason, our principal organized a contest where selected teachers dove into whipped cream pies, located bubble gum, retrieved the gum, chewed it up and blew a bubble. Trickier than it sounds.

When my principal, a bit of an imp, had said he needed volunteers for various duties, I had fired off a quick e-mail, telling him I’d help out. HE decided I could help with the pie/gum thing.

So, for the first time in my 60 years, I competed with 10 of my colleagues to the cheers of the student body. I didn’t ‘win’ but I didn’t come in last. (I DID get side bombed when my eyes were closed.I KNOW who did it.)

As I wiped off my face and hair and walked to my classroom, I mused on how much I love these kids. They make me laugh at myself and at life.

And how much I will miss our sweet sister who is home with her Lord.

Such ebbs are the stuff of living.

Monday, March 21, 2011

CHEMO: Day Three

Or the start of cycle two

Mike reports that "today was such a great day."
He got up, ate breakfast and then drove out to the Oncology Center.

The angels greeted him with smiles and pats. His doctor had suggested that he bring his guitar so he did. During the morning, staff and patients gathered 'round for a good time. (He also penned this week's Business Law Exam, another kind of 'good time.')

I was off to school for a work day: no students, just time to collaborate with colleagues.

He called me for lunch; we still don't have this cell phone thing worked out. I cannot get a signal in my room. He called and called but got the recording. I stayed through lunch, got lots done and left early.

After lunch, Mike went to the YMCA for his 1500 yards in the pool. Then, he jumped upon the Ducati, formerly housed in our bedroom, and took it for a spin. Then, home again, he worked out in the shop except when neighbors and friends dropped by.

It looks like spring is coming quickly. Tomorrow should be sunny and 70. Good days are great days.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Heading into a Great Weekend

THIS week began with high fever and a hospital stay.

THIS week ends with a healed husband. We met with his Angel Doctor this morning who smiled as she reported that the infection was resolved and all of Mike's various chemicals were back to normal.

All those numbers are not-s0-meaningful to us. The good color, the renewed energy, and lack of ear pain --- THAT means something we can understand.

So, as Mike winds up his teaching for the week, he'll be serving on Sunday, playing his guitar at church. He says he has "The Communion Set."

Many friends tell me that every time they see Mike up on stage, it just makes them so happy.

So Oakbrook folks (and others in the neighborhood): Prepare for HAPPY.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

How Great is Our God

So, Mike landed in the hospital with a fever.
He continued to wince from the pain behind his left jaw.
The med folk attacked with a variety of meds, to little avail.
Scans/X-rays/probes eliminated many possible causes (good) but failed to identify the source and so some relief (bad).

And, in my fatigue, I called out to God, to touch this place and take the pain away.
You joined us in this prayer.

God touched it and took away the pain.

Thank you for keeping us in your prayers.

And praise the Father for this merciful touch.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Angels Make You Well

Whew. We're home.

It took 24 hours for medical angels to help bring the fever down. It took 5 trays of "Full Liquid" meal trays for Mike to crave some real food.

Earlier this morning, he started strumming on a newly adjusted guitar. He chose one of his classical pieces. I used drift off the sleep as he practiced this tune. Today, even though our door was partially closed, an audience gathered in the hall. We were surprised when we opened the door.

Mike's doctor glowed as she praised his skill and then mentioned that she had just begun to take lessons. He and she spent the next 15 minutes in discussions of all things musical.

Oh, yeah. She also swims at the Y. Another Mike-buddy is born.

Today is one of those dismal, cold, rainy days that land around here, just before spring. When the doc told Mike he could go, it was a quick trip into the shower and then he jumped into his sweats, grabbed his other stuff, and headed to the car.

Then, we cruised down the Kokomo 'strip:' that means past every fast food joint you can name. His choice today was Burger King. Even though he was a bit unshaven, he said, "Let's go in."

I mean, at 2 in the afternoon, who will we see? As it turns out, several clients stopped by our table.

Finally, we got home. Feeling human. Feeling good.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Chemo Makes You Sick

We're facing that needle two Mondays out of three.
We're trying to kill that cancer that's encroaching on our life.
We're thinking that we'd like another summer.

Tonight, we're sick.

Chemo attacks all fast-dividing cells; it attacks the immune system; it changes one's 'suck it up' theory of handling illness.

Any time Mike runs a fever over 100.5, I am to take him to the Emergency Room so they can assess his various fluids and levels and vitals. So, on Sunday, when the thermometer flashed RED and 102.6, we drove to the hospital. It was 8:30 AM.

By 12:00, all the tests were back and they told us they would admit Mike shortly. As all their numbers were so literal, I thought that 'shortly' meant shortly, so I left Mike (sleeping so well), and ran a few errands. When I returned at 4, I called Admitting; they had no record of my guy. That's because Mike was STILL lying on a gurney in the ER, waiting.

As soon as I raised the question, they found an open room and we rode upstairs.

Lesson: I won't leave anyone unattended in an ER.

So, since Sunday, Mike has been cared for by a team of competent, cheery men and women, who have many duties that they must do many times during their shifts. In and out. In and out. In and out.

The temp. is back to normal, but the other things are still "too low" or "a little bit high." So again, tonight, he's tucked in across town.

The last two days have been deja vu: cuddling in the hospital bed; holding hands and talking about weighty matters; those funky green 'gowns'; automatic machines that fall off line way too often and then BEEP BEEP BEEP. We're both tired. I'll be back tomorrow when he wakes up.

So, for tonight, friends, you can pray for us. The pain behind Mike's ear continues to cause him much distress. They keep attacking it with meds. Please God, THAT has nothing to do with cancer. Maybe it can go away?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Random Thoughts on Flying and Swimming

I went flying Monday in Tweety-bird, my almost pristine Cessna 152. Tweety reminds me a lot of my lovely wife, the Lynne. Considering their respective ages, they both still look good to me. Both have a few dings and scratches here and there, but both are still solid structurally, and are very aerodynamic. Both of them look slick with a fresh coat of wax, or make up, although the Lynne doesn't have a polished nose spinner like Tweety. Push the throttle in on either of them and they will both scoot right along, plenty fast enough for me, anyway.

I took off with no particular place to go, so I decided I would fly up to Winona Lake to make sure it was still there and thawing out for the anticipated "last summer." I climbed to three thousand feet, set the throttle and trim and drifted along at 110 knots at 2300 rpm. I turned off the radio, the GPS, the transponder, then clamped on my headphones so I could hear almost nothing. I scanned the fuel and oil gauges. And relaxed. Occasionally, I made a minor course correction, but Tweety knows the way. She knew we were goofing off. So on we flew, until the lake appeared over the nose. We inspected the lake, confirmed it was thawing out, and rolled into a 60 degree bank to head home.

The weather was down to about 5 miles with a 2500 foot ceiling, so I tucked down underneath it. The air was smooth, so I decided to go lower. I leveled out at a thousand feet above the ground and went sight-seeing the rest of the way home, watching the farms come and go. The occasional cow or deer wandering in a field below. And there was the reservoir thawing out, waiting for the weekend boaters that will arrive with children, picnics, campfires and camping tents. It does not get better than this in an airplane. Your own leisurely, airborne stroll over the countryside. Your own personally guided personal tour. Such luxury!

Ten miles out I turned the radio and transponder back on, called Grissom Approach, then called Kokomo and reported in. Six minutes later, the main gear chirped on the runway and I was home. As is the family tradition, I announced to no one that "I had cheated death once more." I taxied to the hanger, wiped down Tweety, and put her away.

I owe all this to my Dad, who taught me many things, but most of all how to fly. Really fly. It is such a privilege. So few do it. I miss that man. He has always been my hero.
After I landed, I went to the YMCA to get my mile in the pool. I had three hours of chemotherapy that morning. I kept anticipating the arrival of nausea, but it never showed at the pool.

Believe it or not there is fast and slow water. Ask any swimmer. Some days you get in the pool and you swim like a shark. Strong, straight, and relentless. And some days someone tied a concrete block to your butt, while you swim in glue.

Monday was a shark day. The water glided off my shoulders, each stroke was pulling, and I wasn't even breathing hard. I was gliding in fast water. This, too, is a joy few people experience. I am no athlete, but if you ever see me swim, you would think I am. Most people say I make it look easy. It is what my wife says. She loves to watch me swim. And that is what did me in that day.

I go to great lengths to try to present a positive role model for the countless people who are watching me in these last months. I am nothing special. I am just sick. I can't do anything about it. I am going to die and that's it. I am not "fighting it." That is so silly. Nobody fights this disease. "Fighting it" is what people hope you are doing, so that when they get it, they can "fight it, too," and get well. I have news for you, gang. There is not a lick of truth to any of it. Not for me, anyway. I just keep trying to put one foot in front of the other, until eventually I can't do it any more. And then I will die. It is simple, really.

On that Monday afternoon in the pool, I discovered that no one can see you cry in the pool. Not while you are swimming, anyway. The thought of losing the Lynne is simply unbearable to me.

Mike out.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thoughts on Perfection

Most of us, particularly men, define ourselves by what we do for a living. Anytime two men are introduced, after the exchange of names, the first question one man will ask the other is "What do you do?" I am not sure why this is, although I have some theories. What is important is that most people take some degree of pride in what they do. Most of us want to be known as good at our work. Most people treasure complements on a job well done. Most people try to improve their work skills and take pleasure and pride in being increasingly skillful. Hopefully over time and opportunity to practice, we advance from being competent to skillful. Some few advance to being artists.

Most of us realize that we are not the best at what we do for a living. I practiced law for 33 years and I can assure you of at least two things: (1) I was a long way from being the best lawyer and (2) despite constantly striving to improve my skills. Once in awhile I would be interviewed by a potential client who had read one of those "how to pick a lawyer" books. The inevitable, amusing question I was asked was "Are you the best?" My stock response was "I am better than most, but not as good as a few." This honest, smart-mouth response seemed to satisfy most of my interviewers.

Several years ago I decided that I wanted to learn to build furniture and to play the guitar. I have no idea why. These two activities simply appealed to me. I am a person who has to alway have a project to work on that involves using my hands. Being able to use your hands to accomplish a task is a learned skill. It is part of my nature, I guess. I take pleasure in learning to do new things, like building a kayak or boat, rebuilding a car or motorcycle, or how to fly an airplane. All these things require hand skills to be sure.

So I began to teach myself how to build furniture and to take classical guitar lessons. My first furniture projects were pitiful. Even before I finished a piece, I could see many ways to improve it. Each improvement got utilized on to the next project. Over the years and many projects, my skills improved. People now see something I made and usually comment positively on it. Even so, I can always see things that need improving, but to my surprise most people do not seem to notice.

I took classical guitar lessons for 15 years. I practiced daily for one hour and sometimes more. I worked at it. My teacher said I was the best student and had gone the farthest that he ever had. But I played like crap. Trying to play classical guitar is the hardest thing I have ever tried to do and I failed miserably. I just could not do it. While I loved the music and the guitar, I simply could not acquire the technique that playing that instrument requires. However, it turns out that not all was lost, because after I had finished my hour of practice, I began to fool around with old blues and ragtime tunes that I thought were fun.

When I would go to my classical guitar lesson, my teacher would ask me to play some of that "blues sh--" for him. He used to watch me closely and then say "How do you do that?" I didn't know, I could just play it. I am not telling you I am a grat blues musician. I am not. But I liked the music and it is fun to play. If you miss a note playing some old blues thing, chances are nobody is going to notice. Not so with classical guitar.

A few years ago my church installed a coffee shop next to the reception area. The idea was to get people to come to church early, meet people and hang out before the service. My church is very large and there is the possibility that someone might intimidated by the number of people attending. The idea behind the coffee shop was to get people to socialize. It was a good idea, but not many people were used it at first. To fix this problem it was decided that some of the musicians would perform on a small stage in the coffee house 30 minutes before the start of the service. Good coffee, a donut, and live music would go a long way to get people to loosen up. To my surprise and delight, I was asked to pla
I worked up a list of blues and ragtime tunes I could do and even threw in a couple of classical things. I was very nervous about playing on the stage by myself. Nonetheless, I walked out, sat down on a chair on the stage and started to play. After about 3 minutes, I had relaxed and was actually enjoying myself. You do not hear the music I play anymore since it goes back to 1920, but people liked it back then and they still do. I played through my set list and was feeling pretty good. I could tell by the response of the audience that they like the music and several people smiled, clapped or said something positive.

I saved an old Blind Blake tune called "West Coat Rag" for the end. Nobody ever, not now, not in the past or in the future could play that piece like Blind Blake. But I had simplified it a bit and I took a shot at it as my closing tune. I was ripping along through it and feeling pretty confidant when I looked up and there about twenty feet away from me was a line of 7 guitarists watching my every move. I promptly flubbed the next 4 measures, managed to pull it back together and finished the tune, ending my set. I walked off the stage upset with my performance.

I learned that it is one thing to play for an audience, but it entirely different to play for an audience of guitarists. These guys know about playing the instrument. You cannot fake it in front of them. They know. You cannot hide. Mistakes are obvious to them.

Last week my wife and I were having lunch in a local restaurant. It was obvious to my wife my mind was on something besides her, so she asked what I was thinking I told her that I was trying to devise a way to cut two 2" square holes in an armrest for the chair I was building. It seems simple, but it is not.

It is easy to mark off the two squares with a pencil. It is not that hard to cut the holes, either. The trick is that the holes must be perfectly cut so that a square peg from the chair leg comes up through the armrest. Even that is not difficult conceptually or skill-wise. I could teach anyone in five minutes how to cut a 2 inch square hole. The difficulty is with the precision required.
Consider the four pencil lines that make up the outline of the 2 inch square hole. Cut along the lines you say with your razor sharp chisel? All right. Inside the line, outside the line, or should I bisect the line? And remember if you take too much off or are slightly off square, a gap will appear and, even worse, the other hole will not line up and there may be yet another gap. Not so easy is it?

After I explained this to her, it suddenly occurred to me that she was like my audience of guitarists. I said to her, "When I am done with this chair, the first thing you are going to look at is whether there are any gaps around the pegs, right?" "Of course", she said. If I had kept my mouth shut she would never have known.

Perfection is an unyielding standard. Perfection cannot usually be achieved by anyone other that a person who is an artist in a particular field that is on display. If Blind Blake heard me play "West Coast Rag," he would probably laugh and say "Nice try, now let me show you how it's supposed to go." If Tage Frid or Sam Maloof, two of the finest woodworkers in America looked at my chair, I am sure they would find mistakes on it that even I do not see. If Christopher Parkening or Leona Boyd heard me play classical guitar, they would probably run screaming from the room. And justifiably so, believe me.

So what is the point? Hardly any of us will ever achieve perfection in what we do professionally or for fun. Most of us will continue to try to do our best and increase our skill level. We might even get good enough that most people view us as very talented. But the goal should be to produce a perfect product. The next time I play "West Coast Rag" it should be better than the last time. The next time I cut a hole in a board for a peg to go through, the gap ought to be smaller. Perfection shall remain elusive, but you can always get better.

Monday, March 7, 2011

CHEMO: Day Two

All is well. Mike has been suffering with a pain in his mouth. He went to our dentist who sent him to the local periodontists, who said it looked like some sort of abrasion.

As Mike had had a tube snaked down his gullet, the supposed cause was a scrape by that doctor.

Today, Mike's doctor confirm. And he's healing.

Right now, I hear some classical guitar coming from the living room. I have a stack of papers to read.

Good night, friends.

Friday, March 4, 2011

An Adventure with the Boys

All I really wanted for Christmas was to take my grandsons on a special trip.

Way back when I was in kindergarten, our teacher took her students for a train ride. Although we were small, I can still remember climbing into the cabin, finding our seats, and taking a long trip. I believe we rode from Detroit to Toledo. As a 5-year-old, it was a trip to the moon and back.

As the scenery whizzed by, we bounced and giggled at the clackety-clack of wheels on the track.

Several years later, my mom and dad took the whole Hayes family to Omaha on a Super Skyliner Express. I carried my brand new Barbie doll. We both climbed up into the sky seats and rode the rails until it was time for lunch. Then, we got to dine as that train wooooshed past cornfields and small towns.

I had a chocolate sundae in a silver ice cream cup. That cold treat caused the cup to sweat. Hersey's syrup ran down the side. It was yummy. In my mind's mouth, it's STILL yummy.

So, I wanted to take Drew and Noah on a train ride. I found out that AMTRAX has a daily run from San Antonio to Austin and that the morning train has a dining car. THIS would be their trip to remember.

We needed to board downtown at 6:45 AM for the 7 AM departure. By 7:30, the steward was calling for breakfast customers. So, here we are, waiting for our TRAIN WAFFLES and milk.

.We got to Austin about 9:30 and had the rest of the day, until 6:30, to see the sights. Then it was back to the depot and back to San Antonio. The night train made snacks available so pizza and cokes were on our menu.

It was a l -0 - n - g day for boys, Mom, and Gramma. And, hopefully, a trip to remember.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen

Let nothing you dismay....

Why was this tune stuck in my head today? Yes, I know. Not Christmas. In fact, currently there is no snow on the ground. Of course, as all Hoosiers know, it's basketball sectional time. AND during basketball sectional time, it always snows. And snows a lot. And then some more. So, even though those weather guys are tempting us to put up our woolies, at least THIS Indiana chickie is keeping the sweaters and mittens close at hand.

No, it's the chorus:

Oh, tidings of comfort and joy
Comfort and joy
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

We continue to live within this bubble of community prayer. And in that place, there is comfort. Comfort in what we know about God. Comfort in the words and wishes of so many friends. Comfort in resting in the Father's arms.

And so joy.

Joy, joy, joy.

And, by the way, peace that passes all understanding.

Thought you'd like to know.

NOT sitting around waiting to get sick

Mike's newest creation: a footstool to match the chair.

More inlay work.

Ready for the cushion.

Drop by, ya'all.