Saturday, June 23, 2012

Family family family

Brother Ken and me at dinner
June has been family month here on the shore of Winona Lake. First, sister Jan dropped by. That was followed by sister Kris and her hub, Steve. Wednesday, brother Ken with his very mellow dog, Roxy, tried to unwind for a few days. Roxy, by the way, had NO trouble easing into the ease here.

Ken and Mike at the Boathouse
Friday afternoon found Ken on the road, down to Crawfordsville, IN. to visit with some of Janelle's family before heading over to Decatur, Ill. for the annual Hayes Family Reunion.

Mellow doggie
Saturday is the cousins' party although, because these are Hayes kin, anybody can show up and be made an instant honorary.

Sunday will find the extended family gathering at Pana, Ill park for some amazing food and fun. Then, Ken's headed back to Charlotte via Nashville.

I realize that this trivia may seem, um, trivial, but for our praying friends, please remember Ken on this long road trip. Roxy is great companionship and has, so far, enjoyed this first long car trip.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

First Day of Summer 2012

Coulda fooled me, who does not consult calendars or clocks. We are in the midst of typical June weather: hot, hot, hot and, unfortunately for the corn, dry dry dry. The weather guys are offering tantalizing promises of rain and drop in temp. Soon.

Even though we try, we can't completely flee our 'schedule' mentality. Each morning, I get up and ride the mighty PED to our local Walgreens (NEVER CVS!!!) to grab newspapers. We realize we are becoming dinosaurs, but we like to read the paper while eating breakfast.

I pick up all of them (today there were 4!) and bring them home. We have a Newspaperpalooza with our cereal and melon. Yes, there are many similar stories but that's OK. We are now up on local news in South Bend, Fort Wayne, Warsaw, and the USA.

The PED is our little moped, a 1975 Honda Express. We purchased a newer model with automatic start and working lights, but it lacks the charm of Ol' Yeller. Last winter, we added a black plastic basket to the front, which cuts down on aerodynamics, and then sprayed the back baskets to match. You can carry 2 12 can packs of pop, 6 quart containers of sorbet, a few pound containers of whatever cold is for dinner from the deli, a gallon of milk and a 1/2 gallon of juice in one run. Loaded this heavy, it's hard to see the usual 20 MPH, but it does the trick for our frequent grocery runs.

Today the load is light.

And today, the day is hot again. On the road right now is my little brother Ken. He was and is the baby of our family and that long-dreamed-for boy in a family thick with estrogen. Mom told me once that each of us girls was going to be "Patrick" in those quaint, long-ago days when parents waited to see what they got. My folks got no Patrick: they got Janis, Lynne, and Kristine.

Bench pressing at 1 month
Then, whoa! A boy. And what a boy. My teeny little mom birthed an 11 lb. 7 oz., 26 1/2 inch-long male child that looked, frankly, not so much like an infant. How in the world do I remember what he weighed? I imagine it was the topic of discussion for many years. And what about 'Patrick'? Mom said that when Dad and she discussed naming him, my dad said that the 'guys at work' thought this amazingly full term boy should carry his father's name. So be it, he was crowned Kenneth McCray II. Crowned!

Did I resent him? I believe I did. I remember that when Dad brought his boy home from the hospital (you know, the 11lb7oz261.5in son), he asked me if I wanted to come inside to look at him. I remember that I had just screwed my roller skates to my shoes (you'll need to google that, young 'uns) and that I would be in when I was finished cruising the neighborhood.  Such are family dynamics.

Did he replace ME in the role that I saw myself? That being the Daddy's girl who got away with much. I believe he did. No matter, I've gotten over it.

Ken visited us at the lake last year at this time, on his yearly trip to all things Hayes in Vandalia, Ramsey, Pana, and Decatur, Illinois. It's time for the annual Hayes Family Reunion and Ken always represents our family.

Last year, I remember, the temperature was in the '50s and it was drizzling. Last year, my sweet sister-in-law Janelle was with her husband. This year, she attends other reunions as she passed to Heaven in May. Last year, as she and I walked out in what I considered dreary weather, I commented that we had not arranged the forecast in a favorable way. And I will recall for the rest of my life what Janelle said to that. "Oh no Lynne. This is OREGON weather. I LOVE this weather. It's perfect."

She always could put a positive spin on just about anything. Just another one of her gifts that we miss so much.

Anyway, Ken is working his way through the labyrinth of grief and healing and, as of this morning, plans to drive to the reunion. We all know that plans can change. I'll clean up a little here and there, and if he changes his mind on anything. that's OK. The place can use a little cleaning.
Still chasing him

Another little wrinkle here: Mike's doctor decided to cut back on his chemo. He had been heading in every other week for infusion (through that port thing) coupled with 6 daily pills. The last two times, his blood work was troubling but they went ahead. THIS time, his blood work was more troubling --- chemo wreaks havoc on your immune system -- so she wants him to take a break. Hopefully, he will feel a bit better; hopefully this deep fatigue will be relieved a bit. We shall see.

So that's it for today.

Friday, June 15, 2012

What do YOU want to be when you grow up?

My big sister (big in brains, big in smarts) reminded me that we grew up in a soft, predictable time and place. Opportunities were almost limitless: what DO you want to be when you grow up?
New wall cabinet

Fireman? Ballerina (me)? Indian chief?  Astronaut (also me)? President??? We were told, often, that anyone could grow up to be President. I'll leave that for mulling at your end.
He really loves the drawer

What did Mike want to be? Not sure. His family was full of doctors and lawyers and teachers and preachers. Plus quite a few 'creative temperment' types. His mom told me often that he should have been an accountant....don't think that was on his list. But, eventually, he found himself drawn to the study of law; that took him to IU Law School and on to 30 years of practice.
Although I never retained him, I know that Mike was really good at what he did. He became the guy to see in divorce proceedings. Sadly, Kokomo has provided enough work in this area to keep its lawyers busy. He is people smart and knows how and when to charm a jury. He also was skilled at charming the many administrative aides in multiple counties to the advantage of his schedule. He has said, more times than I can count, that he 'hated' what he did. Hmmmmm. Not sure about that. How can you hate what you are so good at? In this house, we take a degree of satisfaction in a job well done.

(bowl from Art Fair)
Whatever he might have visioned in his future, I'm pretty sure he never thought he'd end up speaking in church. From the dais. The main thing.

And yet, once again, this Sunday, Mike will be speaking at a church in Kokomo. We know that this is one reason that God has given Mike more time than he thought he'd have with us.

Another thing that probably wouldn't have been on his career list was "Furniture Craftsman." I mean, he didn't have the time. Then, he got the time. Readers of this blog have seen many examples of his work. And, here is another. Let that man alone in his shop and out comes something beautiful. This time, a wall cabinet of mahogany and curly maple. It hangs on the wall near the china cabinet at the lake.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Can't do......Does.....Can do

What Cancer Can’t Do
Cancer is so limited.  It cannot cripple love.  It cannot shatter hope.  It cannot corrode faith.  It cannot eat away peace.  It cannot destroy confidence.  It cannot kill friendship.  It cannot shut out memories.  It cannot silence courage.  It cannot invade the soul.  It cannot reduce eternal life.  It cannot quench the spirit.  It cannot lesson the power of the resurrection.  Amen—amen.
Bernice Chambers, 1987 Breast Cancer

Between last summer and this, some friend left this poem at our door. It is a statement of hope; it is a comment of power. Those of us who walk with the Lord know, yes we do, that life here is temporary, even for the healthy.

Because what cancer DOES, here, is take from our midst those whom we love. Even as we believe that this parting is temporary, it cuts to the heart when we must let go of hands.

Soon-to-be Bride and Mother. of the Bride
This picture was taken last July, as my niece Britt and her mom, Janelle, were on their way to a bridal shower. Within weeks, Britt would wed her Kenneth. Within days of that happiness, Janelle and Ken (my brother) would hear the unwanted news:

Janelle had a tumor, glioblastoma multiform, a most aggressive brain tumor. Her prognosis was bleak. They prayed and then sought treatment. We all had some wonderful times with Janelle. She passed on May 10.  She was 53.

Here we are, moving to get back into the flow of life. It will be slower for some of us. Besides a lot of loving friends and family, Janelle left her entries in her blog which, by the way, she began the week that Mike received his diagnosis.

Her blog gained an international audience: she wrote about her craft projects and her job, her family and her life. And her faith in God.

After diagnosis, the connection she had formed with her readers led her to chronicle her adventure through this disease, through her treatment, and her walk with her Lord. She called out to Him, quoting scripture, to heal her if that was His will. She announced that, because of her love and trust, she was ready to accept whatever He chose for her.

Then, there came the time when she could no longer write. Her husband, who had never blogged in his life, stood in for her. Now, as she is no longer directing the blog here, he plans to continue, much to the happiness of her readers.

If you could use a blessing, let me suggest that you visit
Remember, it began in April 2009 and, with Ken's efforts, will continue on.

What cancer CAN do is remind us of what is important.....and what is this life. Cherish your family and friends. Walk with God. Try to shine a little of His light on those around you. Janelle lived like this, as natural to her as breathing. You will see that as you read her blog.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Family Dropping By

So, we've had a week of visitors to our little spot on Winona Lake. Not that it would matter as far as how much we 'fuss,' these are family. You expect family to "get it." In this case, to get in the spirit of the lake.
 Kris and Steve (Amerson) worked our place into a busy agenda. Steve had a singing engagement up near Lansing that took him north Saturday. He arrived back Wednesday morning, in time for Mike's huge gourmet breakfast and some goodbye hugs.

Mike hates posed pictures. Steve poses as part of his profession. I grabbed this one, in the car, as he was trying to escape.
Making a break for the airportKris stayed with us...she's heard him sing a few times...and quickly acclimated to our schedule that includes meals, naps, walks, naps, sitting by the lake, naps, sipping wine during get it.

Munchin' melon
 Their trip overlapped with sister Janis, who was en route to a conference in Springfield, MO. She of the fresh M.Div., is preparing to meet with her new churches; she's also moving 1 hour north of Kansas City and her grandboys.

It's always good to hang with Jan. And she enjoyed another of our activities: eating melon. Lots of melon.

Which begs the question: (earth shaking): to salt or not to salt?

Yet another difference between me and my guy: he salts his melon. Really. I don't know if this is a Hoosier thing, a Bolinger thing or just HIS thing. Personally, I can't imagine messing with the sweet, juicy taste of fresh melon. Especially when someone ELSE has cut it all up in nice chunks for me to grab and enjoy.
Lots of melon

Anniversary Dinner 6/8/12

During this great week of family (and naps), the hub and I clicked off another anniversary.  38 years since we pledged the pledge, in front of God, family, the world.

Steve and Kris treated us to a celebratory dinner at Winona Lake's Boathouse. Such fun.

Great times. Today, after the family had left (after laundering all the sheets and towels! Thanks, Kris), we took a quick trip to Fort Wayne. We were itching for a little Barnes and Noble. Then, home for lunch and, big surprise, a great afternoon nap.

Such is the flow of life in Northern Indiana right now.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 8, 2012

38 (38!) years ago today, at high noon, we told each other we would.

We still do.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Flying and Sailing

Flying airplanes and sailing boats are similar as both activities are ruthlessly unforgiving of mistakes and errors in judgment.  It is true that virtually anyone who wants to learn to fly or sail can take the appropriate classes, study the textbook, and learn much from a knowledgeable teacher.  If all goes well, you end up with a license which says you are “competent” and can proceed on your own.  Basically, a new license is a license to learn more, providing you do not kill yourself while trying to learn.

Aviators and skippers then set out on their own and begin to acquire experience.  No matter how good your teacher was, he can’t cover everything.  One is soon confronted with a situation that wasn’t covered in class or the textbook.  This is when your native intelligence, what you have learned, and past experience comes into play to aid you in devising a plan to deal with the new situation.  If your improvised solution works, you have acquired a new item for your bag of tricks, to be pulled out if a similar situation arises in the future.  You also get the right to regale your buddies with how badly you messed up and how brilliant you were in coming up with a successful plan to defeat death one more time.

After one has acquired much experience and seemingly filled the trick bag, one may have a tendency to get arrogant and complacent, which can be potentially disastrous.  As your skill level rises, so also might your mistaken belief that you can handle just about anything.  You might get sloppy, which is not good in an airplane or boat.  Let me give you an example, before I get to my story.
A few years ago I owned a 1949 Mooney Mite.  It was a low-wing fabric-and-wood airplane with a retractable landing gear, variable pitch prop, flaps, stick and a sliding canopy.  It had the same airfoil as a P51 Mustang.  It was a hotrod among airplanes and I loved it with a passion reserved only for my lovely wife.  It was not difficult to fly, but it had two unusual flight characteristics that had to be mastered immediately.

First, it was very slick aerodynamically.  Have you ever pedaled your bicycle as fast as you could go and then suddenly stopped pedaling?  Your speed would continue for a few seconds and then the bicycle would start to slow down.  “Coasting,” we call it.  The Mite did the same thing.  If you flew downwind to land, you would be turning 2300 rpms and doing 120 knots.  If you pulled the power off to 1000 rpms, the Mite would coast awhile before it started slowing down.  It was the only airplane I ever flew that would do that.  It is not a big deal, just unusual.  

 Second, it was extremely sensitive to control input.  If you continued your landing, you waited till the airspeed dropped below 90 knots, so you could put the landing gear and flaps down.  This created drag which reduced airspeed to 70 knots.  If you moved the stick forward a quarter inch while set up on final approach, you would find yourself doing 90 knots, instead of the proper 70 knots.  Not good. The Mite was not going to stay on the runway doing ninety knots, even if the tires did not blow.  Of course there is no excuse for letting this happen.  Just plain sloppy.

But on occasion I let it happen.  So I developed a technique to deal with the unwanted airspeed.  I flicked the stick all the way to the right and fed in full left rudder, which had the effect of skidding the airplane sideways.  It is called a “slip” in aviation circles.  Sideways creates more drag and slows the airplane, dramatically, very quickly.  As soon as the airspeed was back to 70 knots, I neutralized the controls and continued the landing.  Always successfully, I might add.  But that is not the point.  It was sloppy flying and there is no excuse for that, ever.  There is a word used to describe sloppy pilots, they are called dead.  Which gets me to my story, a confession really.

I invited a young pilot, Jeremy, to fly with me to a Saturday morning pancake Fly In at a small grass airstrip which runs parallel to State Road 26, just outside of Kokomo.  The strip was only about five minutes from Kokomo’s airport and was reputed to be short and narrow.

While we taxied to the active runway at Kokomo, I listened to the aviation weather channel  tell me that the wind at Kokomo was from 090 at seven knots. (The wind was blowing directly west.)  Since airplanes are to take off and land into the wind, I chose runway 05 to depart Kokomo.  This would put seven knots of wind forty degrees off my nose on takeoff.  No big deal.  Not much of a consideration at all.

So off we went and arrived over the proposed landing strip.  I immediately noticed that it was indeed short and tight.  I told Jeremy that I was going to make a practice approach without landing to check out the situation.  I dropped down to pattern altitude heading due west parallel with the runway.  I noticed that the entire side of the runway paralleling SR 26 was lined by trees. Tall trees.  So was the left side.  And the far western end was blocked by tall trees, a large hanger, a house and various outbuildings.  

As I passed over the eastern end of the runway, which had no obstructions, Jeremy commented, “Man, this is short…and tight.”  True enough.

  “Piece of cake for men like us,” I boasted. As I set up for the actual approach, I said, “I am going to drag it in low and slow and touch down in the first ten feet, so we will have plenty of room to stop.”
Jeremy nodded and said, “Sounds good to me.” 

 I flew the approach perfectly and plopped Tweety Bird down exactly where I wanted.  And that is when my nightmare began.  I almost killed us both.

Remember that seven knot wind?  Well, instead of blowing up my nose, it had increased to nine knots and was a tailwind, throwing me down the runway, greatly increasing my landing ground roll.  So I hit the brakes early and hard.  Tweety started skidding and was definitely not slowing down.

   Remember that it was early in the morning.  The dew was still on the grass, creating a slippery, glass-like surface.  Tweety was NOT slowing.  And I had fallen into a bad habit of retracting the flaps as soon as I had safely landed.  Retracting the flaps killed all significant lift.  To get it back, I would have to put the flaps down.  Again, no big deal, but it takes a few seconds for the electrical system to crank them down.  Of course, I was so good, I never had to go around for a second pass.  Right!  Until then!

Jeremy looked over at me and said, “You’re not going to get it stopped!”  He was absolutely right. We were going to end up literally in the hangar at the end of the strip.

“I’m going around!”  I stated.

I immediately firewalled the throttle and put the flaps down, as Tweety hurtled toward the open hangar at the end of the runway.  Tweety staggered into the air, hanging on her propeller.  She was barely climbing.  That’s when the stall warning alarm went off.  As it screamed in the cockpit, she started buffeting and rolling left and right.  The controls went mushy.  I knew I was right on the edge of a stall.  When airflow is disrupted over the wing, if left uncorrected, the airplane will roll over and start to spin.  This can be lots of fun when you are 4000 feet above the ground and there is plenty of altitude to recover from the spin, but when you are 100 feet above the ground, you are going to be a smoking hole in the ground. Definitely not good.

I was out of options.  There was nothing else I could do.  And that is when I saw the trees at the western end of the runway.  Very tall trees.  Three of them.  

About this time, Jeremy yelled, “We’re not going to get over them!”  He was right.  We weren’t going to clear them.

The tallest tree on the left was stoutly made with thick canopy.  The middle tree was a little shorter with not as thick a canopy.  The tree on the right was a little taller than the middle tree, also with a scraggly canopy.  If you have to go down in a wooded area, you are taught to pick a short, thinly canopied tree to land in, theoretically minimizing structural damage to the airplane.   Once in a while, someone gets too low and flies through the trees cutting branches with the prop and remains airborne and survives.  Rarely.  I was not feeling lucky.

With Tweety hurtling toward the trees, I had to think of something or Jeremy and I were dead.  So what I did was at the last possible second, I rolled Tweety into a right bank to put her between the middle tree and right tree.  Her right wing was almost pointed straight down at the ground.  Her nose started to drop to the right.  I slammed in full left rudder to try to keep her flying and out of the developing spin.  The stall warning continued to scream, drowning out the roaring, stressed engine.

“Hang on!”  I yelled to Jeremy.

“Not going to make it!” shouted Jeremy.

And that is when to my absolute astonishment, Tweety slipped perfectly between the trees. I had managed to essentially thread the needle with an airplane. I instantly put her level and slammed the control wheel forward to pick up airspeed.  The stall warning indicator went silent.  The shuddering stopped and she was flying again.  I pulled back on the wheel and she started climbing.  We had made it!

I looked at the left leading edge of the wing and then looked over at Jeremy and asked, “Did we hit anything?  I didn’t feel any bangs.  How’s the wing look?”

He turned and scanned the leading edge of the right wing.  “She looks good!  I don’t see any dents and I didn’t feel us hit anything.   I think she’s OK.”

“Let’s land over at Glendale.  It is only a mile away and check her out.  We may have damaged the tail or are dragging some branches,” I said.

“Good idea,” said Jeremy.  “And by the way, that is the dumbest thing I have ever seen you do.  We ought to be dead, you know.”

“Yeah, I know, but not today.  Skill and daring won out over treachery and deceit.”

We landed safely at Glendale, got out and walked around Tweety, who was undamaged.  I went into the empty pilot’s lounge and bought two Cokes for us.  Nothing like a caffeine boost to an adrenaline-loaded nervous system.  We sat down on the lawn chairs outside the lounge on the patio.  

Then, I started shaking.  My hands would not stop quivering.  Jeremy looked over at me and said, “You are as white as a ghost.  You all right?”

“I am fine.  I’m just winding down.  We got lucky today. That should have killed us.  But it didn’t.”  I started laughing and Jeremy joined in.  About that time, a truck pulled up next to the patio and a pilot-friend of mine got out and wordlessly walked around Tweety.

“I don’t see any damage. Am I missing it?”  He asked.

“Not a scratch,” I replied.

“That was a fancy bit of airmanship I saw, you slipping her between the trees like that.  Not bad at all. Very impressive. Where’d you learn that?”

“No where. Made it up,” I said.

“You both ought to be dead,” he said, very seriously and matter-of-factly. “But nicely done, none the less.”

“It was adequate…for the occasion,” I offered.

“Well, I’m out of here.  Glad you’re not hurt.  I’ll tell the boys back at the breakfast that you’re both OK.  They all say that when you come back next year for the breakfast, you should plan on staying longer.”

“I’ll do that,” I replied.

My friend drove away. Jeremy and I loaded up and flew back to Kokomo’s airport.

I have tried to make this flying tale humorous.  Maybe I have succeeded, maybe not.  I can tell you that I still have nightmares about that flight.  They always begin with the unstoppable ground roll and end with just before I slipped between the trees.  I always awaken in a cold sweat.  Maybe that is the airgods way of reminding me that carelessness can make me dead.

Finally, it is no secret that I have always tried to live up to the flying standard set by my dad, a naval aviator.  I sometimes wonder what he would have thought if he had been standing there in the open hangar, eating pancakes, and watching me screw up so badly.  I think he would have shook his head and said internally, “I taught that boy better than that,” and when I rolled it to the right and slipped away to fly another day, he would have chuckled and said,“Nicely done.  Cheated death one more time.”

Mike out.

Busy Week

Well, all that lazing is over for now. Time to get up and at it.

Monday, Mike goes out to visit the angels who pump him full of poison. Buying time. Getting a bargain. As always, we appreciate your prayers. These treatments don't wipe him out usually. But as my brother taught me, with cancer, there is no 'usual.' I pray that he will be able to enjoy the rest of the week.

Monday night, sister Janis (fresh M.Div. cum laude) arrives for a few days. Then, on Wednesday night, Steve and sister Kris arrive. Jan has to go to Springfield on Thursday so we'll get a little overlap.

On the weekend, Steve is headed north to a singing engagement and Kris, who's heard him sing a few times, will stay here.

Sometime after the weekend, I'll drive her to Fort Wayne to connect with Steve and then on they go.

THIS is not sisters' weekend as we've celebrated in the past. We'll not have another of those until our number is whole. But it will be fun to connect with these Hayes girls.

For those of you have 'visited' at the lake, (and, I guess for those considering it) we don't exactly 'fuss' for visitors. We let them adapt to our lifestyle. Clean towels and sheets, and we give the bathrooms a spray and wash, but otherwise....

One thing that rules when we have 'guests,' Mike does all the cooking. He's pretty good at it and even if he weren't.....I'm good with that.