Thursday, December 31, 2009

Running 'em Ragged in San Antonio

Once we all arrived in what THEY claim is the warm/south, the hub, having seen The River Walk and other downtown sites, craved a nap. Allyson, Zach and the boys did the town. They were gone for almost 5 hours.

What a great nap!

Anyway, the whole week we were there, Zach got to play with the nephews. It was good for everybody.

We had booked our first flights separately. We all flew together Sunday night back to Indianapolis. Then, 1 1/2 hours later, we crawled into our beds.

This week is all about home chores and getting ready for next week. I went to school on Tuesday, feeling a bit alien. But then I opened some drawers and thumbed through my books and I'm ready to go.

It's been, really, almost a year since I was in the classroom. I hope it's like riding a never forget.

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeerry Christmas

We gathered the troops in San Antonio this year for Christmas. It was a repeat of last year but what a lot has happened in a year!

Auntie took a trip home so it was just Bolingers and Fewells in what seems like a big house until we all descend. Allyson, resident superb, got 7 days off which is unusual in the Army. We had time to talk, eat, play, eat, read, eat, etc...

The pile of presents approached what Jean Shepherd called "the bacchanal that is Christmas" and the boys' eyes were as big as saucers when they spied the tree on Chrismas morn.

However, hard as it was for them, Mom insisted that her dad, as is our tradition, read the Christmas story before the paper ripping orgy began. So, reading this year from The Message, Mike turned to Luke chapter 2.

He read. He's a good reader. He intoned where he should and paused effectively, for the adults. The children were, let's just say, squirmy as they tried to divert their attention from the presents.

At one point, Mike said, "Then they withdrew..." and our eldest grandson lit up and said, "DREW!"

Who says there's not something in scripture for everybody?

The Bible was closed; the games began. It took an hour.

Then, performing a first-time Christmas Day task, the grandma prepared the dinner. Really, we have never done this in all our years. In our Kokomo home, I would make a big plate of yeast cinnamon rolls and an egg casserole and we'd eat it throughout the day, many times staying a-jammied. Not this year. WE had ourselves a feast, the meal I know how to make: Roast Beef and Mashed Potatoes, Gravy, green bean casserole, yeast rolls and butter.

Allyson set up her camera and took three pictures of us all....everybody has his/her best picture so I will post and let the readers decide.

At any rate, we past through another holiday season. What did I give my husband on this special day? What did he give me? Please humor me: we wrapped arms around each other, hugged, and told God thanks.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

San Antonio

It's a balmy 61 degrees this afternoon. At night, it gets a bit cool, 45 or so. How quickly you can acclimate to find THAT cold!

I'm going to be all gramma-ly here, relating those cute stories people love to tell about their grandchildren....folks with grandchildren and their own cute stories find themselves drawn to such tales. Folks without grandchildren wonder how anyone can become so 'into' such trivia and go on and on and on and on about it.

I belonged to the later until I became a grandma and then, poof, you morph into one of those tale tellers.

I remember that when Drew was an infant (and circumstances brought him to live in our home so I got to spend a lot of that first year with him) (oh, yeah, and his parents, too): I could sit and just stare at Drew for a what sounds like a ridiculous amount of time. He did not do much, being a newborn and all. But he held a magical fascination for me. Much more that either of my children did, and their draw was awesome.

Wondering only briefly if I was weird in this, I ran this 'stare at him' thing past other grandparents and what came back were knowing smiles and nods.

He's 5 these days; actually he's 5 1/2 and quick to tell you. He's all about kindergarten, riding the bus, taking his lunch, and learning to read. He's also a really silly kid with a giggling sense of humor. No one finds his jokes nearly as funny as HE does.

Today, we went to his basketball game. He's a LAKER. #5. The league is for 4 - 6 year olds and I'm guessing for the hard core fans, you might find it frustrating. But for this gramma, it was pure fun.

They play 6 minute quarters and they don't keep score. (Some parents/grandparents do.) You can see that the coaches are teaching the fundamentals...dribbling, passing, shooting (...well...) and guarding. "Hands up," from any coach, and all hands go up on both teams. It is not uncommon for a coach to pick up a player during the game and run him to his location.

Auntie warned me that sometimes the team loses interest in the action. Last week, I guess, several players noticed an in-floor electrical outlet at mid court and stopped to examine it. No one called foul.

Of course, MY grandson played well. He got to bring the ball down the court and dribbled like a 5 year old pro.

Then, because "5 year olds DON'T take naps," Drew and Gramma went on an adventure, just the two of us. We had a goal: new shoes for basketball. The current shoes are worn thin on the bottom and although Mom's advice was "lick your hand and rub it on the soles like MY parents made me" (???????), Gramma thought better of that plan.

So we drove to the mall as Noah stayed home and napped. We were successful and so stopped for ice cream. Drew noticed the frozen cakes and he asked me what kind of cake I had for my birthday.

"Oh, Honey, I didn't have a cake."
"Why not."
"When you get older, you don't get cake."
"You're not too old yet."
"Well, I'm pretty old."

Then, and here comes the cute story: he reached over and ran his index finger from my nose to my mouth. "You know those lines you have here?" (YES) "Well, when you have them all over your face, THEN you're too old. But you don't have them all over."

So we bought a cake and will celebrate tonight before I sprout more lines.

Not a lot of a point here. Just loving my grandbabies.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Prayer Requests

Mike has been a busy bee out in his workshop: standing for long hours in odd postures and so forth.

He is experiencing discomfort that does not go away in his hips, ankles, elbows, and knees. He told me that the bottoms of his feet feel raw.

If you know the hub, you know he's pretty tough when it comes to pain. I sneak some Tylenol at him and it helps somewhat. But if you've ever suffered from chronic pain, you know what a wear it can be.

So I will ask that you pray specifically for relief in this area.

Also, Mike's doctor decided to move up his next CT to the first week of January. We will meet with her January 8. As in the past, we covet your prayers on that day. We have experienced the tangible arms of the Father as we sit in this appointments.

Thank you, all dear friends, for your faithful prayer on our behalf.

May your Christmas be merry; may your holidays be joyous. May the new year...WE are looking forward to the new filled with God's blessings.

Our Christmas Letter

The year's recap

Health concerns in February culminated with
Mike's diagnosis of microscopic metastatic gall bladder
cancer in early April. We came home from the hospital and prepared for a funeral. He retired and I took a leave of absence.

And legions of friends, named and unnamed, began storming the gates of Heaven in our behalf. We know that many are speaking to the Father daily on our behalf.
Mike recovered from the surgery and gained strength and, at present, we have results of two CTs that show no tumor growth. His blood work, targeting likely targets, is normal.
Christmas 2009 is like Thanksgiving, his birthday, my birthday, our anniversary……..all celebrations we did not think we would mark together. We are living a miracle.

In the past, Mike had been too busy to 'smell the roses.' Now, roses are popping up all over the place, all the time. Christmas is a season of gifts. We have been given the gift of more time. Quality time. We have enjoyed a good 35 year marriage. In the last year, our good marriage has grown to a great marriage. We are loving life and savoring all it offers.

As we move into 2010 (imagine!), we will covet your prayers. You can keep up with us at our blog:

We are humbled and grateful for all of your love and concern. May the God that we serve bless you in the new year.


I’ve been thinking, a lot lately, about forgiveness. As believers, we all know that we should forgive others as God has forgiven us. Most of us have that head knowledge, as they say.

But down in the gut, where it really counts, I know that I can harbor grudges and justify my anger to myself, turning a deaf ear to that still small voice that would yank me back in line.

And I think I can recount a story that is vague enough NOT to target anyone specifically.

Many years ago, I maintained a ‘justifiable anger’ toward a lady who was a very public Christian. I don’t mean she was false, it’s just that everybody knew her stand on faith and most people respected her for taking that stand. To boot, she was just such a nice person. Always smiling. Always a soft word. In short, most people, Christian and otherwise, were drawn to her warmth and genuine love.

Except for one little thing. She disliked me. Actually, I think she hated me. I don’t know. What I DO know is that whenever it was just her and me, a different person emerged. Several times, I had to work with her and it was, well, horrible. Several times, I needed something that she could give me OR I’d have to manufacture myself, meaning lots and lots of free time spent on the task. And each time, her help was, um, not forthcoming. And when I’d ask and she’d say no, she’d shoot me a knowing, smirky smile.

No one else was witness and when we were in a group, of course, she warmed the room with her love. Smiles all round.

HM. I usually did a private burn and worked without her aid. Or anyone else’s sympathy. And, because she was a believer, punishing me for whatever, I decided that I was justified in my anger. I mean, she should know better, right?

The day came when she was going to be honored at a small, but not too small, program. I was included in the invitation. I made up my mind that I would not attend. No big deal, right? I mean, my absence would be noticed but no one but she would ever know my motivation. And even if she didn’t notice, I was striking back and lashing out and it felt good. Power to this people!

As I dressed for my day and looked in the mirror, fresh from my decision, I remember smiling (was that a smirk?), satisfied that in at least this manner, I could let her know what I thought of her.

Then, well, then God showed up. I was driving to work when a 5 minute devotional program came on the Moody station. Hosted by a specific gentleman, I had always found his voice annoying so I stretched forth my index finger to turn him off. Until…
“Here’s the thing about holding a grudge.”

Now, you’d expect, wouldn’t you, that he’d light into that forgive as you have been forgiven thing? But no, instead he spent 4 of his 5 minutes talking about how bad, physically and emotionally, it is for a person to maintain anger toward someone else.

“When you nurse a grudge, that person’s face is in front of you all of the time.”


“It makes your stomach tense and can give you a headache.”


“It serves no purpose, if you think you are getting back at the person.”


“It serves no purpose if you think you’re teaching someone a lesson.”


“It poisons your free time and invades your dreams.”


"It blocks your prayers."


There were other points but these stay with me to today.

THEN, he slipped in the ‘forgive as you have been forgiven.’By that time, however, I had pulled the car over and needed to have a little time with my Father, right there by the side of the road. I confessed (like it was news to Him) and asked His forgiveness.

Then, I forgave this woman.

Now, that is the strange part. She didn’t ask for forgiveness. It’s possible, but I doubt it, that she did not know she had offended me. It’s not like I could go to her and tell her I forgave her. In this case, it would have been for show and it would have been futile.

But I forgave her and guess what? The weigh came off my shoulders. I went to the program, congratulated her (no smirk on either face), and had a good time.

When I reflect on some of the things that others endure, I realize that this woman’s slights were slight. No one has ever hurt my physically or emotionally. If that were the case, would God want me to forgive such a person? I believe He would. I might need some help to work through it, but forgiveness is always the best plan.

It’s His plan and He set the example. Only through forgiveness can we be restored. Only by forgiving, can we shed that weight.

As for the object of my lesson, our paths have taken different turns but I will run into this woman from time to time. Are we buddies? I would have to say, No. Do we greet each other warmly, as Christian sisters should? I would have to say, Yes.
And how great is that? You don’t want to have to avoid certain boulevards in Heaven, now do you?

We had occasion to exercise our sense of grace recently when a person asked us to forgive him. It was hard to ask. It was easy to forgive. God’s grace has taught us that.

Monday, December 14, 2009


About a year ago, I discovered a radio gem:

Dennis Miller has a radio show which broadcasts 3 hours/day from his home in Santa Barbara.

Depending on your age, you will know who Dennis is: Comedian. Sports Announcer. SNL Anchor. Etc.

What you may not know, as his show competes with some other popular programs, is that he and his staff put together a most entertaining and thought-provoking offering: social commentary, discussion of books, movies, and politics, absurdist situational comedy, and dot dot dot.

I would catch the show after school as I drove on errands. The signal is weak from Indianapolis and sometimes, I would map out my path so I could get good reception for certain segments.

His staff offers subscription incentives, called the Dennis Miller Zone where, among other things, you can download the programs and listen when you can. I found that an inexpensive way to listen, as I was also saving gasoline.

So I'm a fan. You might search to see if you can get his show.

The web site also has numerous message boards where listeners can sound off. One that is active is where listeners, while listening, comment on the program. Now, as an employed person, I would read through these but never participated. However, as I spent more time at home (and at hospitals and at doctor's offices), I dipped my toe into the message boards.

Now I know we all have stereotypes of the kinds of people who live at their computers and have human contact ONLY through their keyboards. But, may I say, the people I've met on the DMZ, most of them, are active, interested, interesting people.

I mentioned this to my son who said, "Oh, isn't that nice? Mom has little Internet friends." When I mentioned this summer that I was going to meet up with one, his amusement turned to alarm. HE apparently knows the stalkers that linger in cyberspace. That turned out great, by the way.

I, on the other hand, have formed friendships with folks all over the country, including Hawaii and Alaska. And, as it has become appropriate, I've shared the challenges that Mike and I are facing.

So what? So, I have stretched the prayer web even further.

Last week, Dennis asked listeners to call in and record stories of Christmas for broadcast. I was able to tell him that the best present of the season is my husband's health. And he concurred.

I believe these will be broadcast on Tuesday 12/15. You might check it out.

Anyway, the DMZ has been and continues to be a safe harbor, a place for me to think, express opinions, and learn from others.

A Note from the Woodshop

I would agree that I am on occasion not the brightest bulb in the universe. I do not see a lot of things that other people see, particularly when it comes to personal relationships. Never let it be said that I ignored those that have been there for me recently.

I have figured out that you can tell who your friends really are when they drive great distances to come and see you when you are shot to pieces in the hospital. This is not to say that if you did not come to see me while I was at IU medical Center, that you are not my friend, but I am saying that the number of people who showed up astounded me. I was blown away by the number of people who came that I would not have ever predicted would show up.

Such loyalty and kindness should be rewarded, I think.

We live in an age of mass-produced crap. Rarely do any of us buy anything that is custom made for us or is made by someone who really cares about what they are making. I can think of a few exceptions, Ducati motorcycles and Porsche cars, being two. At these companies the engine builders still sign their names inside each engine that they produce. There is also a company that produces wood planes and handsaws that are works of art for craftsmen who understand the value of good tools. But for the most part what almost all of us buy, me included, is something knocked off quickly with an eagle eye fixed on the bottom line. Not so with what I build.

The tables, and indeed everything I build, are imperfect; look closely and you might see a scratch from my block plane or maybe a worm hole in the wood. What you won't find is Formica, fake wood or veneers. Again, what I build is not perfect, but it is the best I could do at the time. The next thing I build will be a little better, I hope. I like to think that craftsmanship is like playing music, flying aerobatics or practicing law. There is always room for improvement. I strive for perfection and always fall short. But it is a worthy goal.

Everybody that came to visit me in the hospital is getting a small oak table hand made by yours truly. Each table is made of the finest wood I could find, features mortise and tenon joints, has a custom inlay, and will last at least 100 years. Each table is signed by me and has a personal note to the recipient attached.

Here is a picture of the tables in my shop after construction was completed.

Mike out.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Too Late

Last Wednesday, December 9, was my 59th birthday. Birthdays are less of a big deal for me but I DO have several friends who insisted that I celebrate so they took me to lunch. Nice. And the hub and I had a sweet, quiet evening at home, on a cold and wintry night. Yet another celebration in this momentous year.

This photo is about 56 years old. Mom included it in a personalized birthday card, along with some other photos. Funny, it got me flipping through an album she made for me when I got married. I've looked at these photos before, some with my siblings, but this time, I honed in on one feature that shows up in all of them. I'm always looking squarely into the camera and there's a glint in the eye. There's the smile, sure, as someone (Dad, usually) directed us to SMILE. But there's a mischievous sparkle that belies the ornery little critter behind those orbs.

I was (am?) the challenging child, that one who claims the most parental gray hairs. Mom still likes to tell people (and the hub parrots this on relevant occasions) that
'when Lynne asked for permission, she wasn't asking whether or not she was going to DO something, just if she was going to have permission."

The significance of this pose is that when Mom would get us ready for church, we were to fold our hands to keep them clean. Often, we had little white gloves on those hands. Even as a preschooler, I enjoyed walking out to the car, hands folded, and then swiping a finger over the fender just before I got into the back seat. Yes, that was ME.

Really? Well, yes, although if I were a child today, I'd built a case for "NOT MY FAULT" as is the fashion.

After all, I came on the heels of the perfect child. Older sister Janis was (is) smart and kind, and walked the chalk when it came to parental rules. I was that second child, you know, so I pushed the limits and dared to challenge. Younger sister Kris, the cute one, the sweet one, told me that she looked up to me; she also told me that she worked really hard at being good to make up

All three of us were supposed to be Patrick Hayes in those simpler days when parents awaited birth to confirm the baby's gender. But then the youngest (Ken is firm that, although he was the youngest, KRIS was the baby)came along, and he was named after my dad.

We four shared a pretty good upbringing that we can now idealize as we and the memories grow fuzzier. But I have clear recollections of some of my more infamous challenges to the rules. And so do my sibs so I'll leave that for THEIR autobiographies..I'm sure they'll include me because it can only serve to shine their own halos.

So why was I such a stinker? My pastor has reminded me, on quite a few occasions, (as I have a short attention span and forget IMPORTANT things) that God has gifted all of His children in unique ways. Pastor's context is usually when I fret about my own children or some other kid in my sphere of influence. We parents (and teachers) can do what we can to train them up, to mentor, to guide, and to pray. And then we have to hand them over to the Father who sees the big picture.

Mom and Dad raised their Baby Boomin' Brood in suburban Detroit, took us to church, prayed for us and, I'm sure, paced the floor over at least ONE offspring. "It's Tuesday. Time to Worry about Lynne...." And the product has to step back and admire their faithfulness to their God and to their responsibility.

Like many teenagers, when I pushed the most, I simmered in my room and listed all the things I'D NEVER SAY or DO to MY CHILDREN when I grew up. And like many who have survived their teens and have raised their own, I've found their words coming easily out of my mouth as they make such good sense.

As for personal gifting, I doubt that 'rule pusher' appears among the SPIRITUAL GIFTS in Galatians. Mom and Dad did not read books. They modeled their own parents. And in the case of the second child, they fell back on their WWII military training and always always presented a united front and always always stuck to their word when it came to, um, punishment. "Grounded for six weeks" meant grounded for six weeks. That one was brutal and they only had to do that once. However, had they relented or eased up, they would have bought themselves more trouble from ME.

It's too late for me to thank my dad, although I'm sure he knows. But hey, Mom, thanks for guiding this second child, and all of your children, to adulthood and beyond. I know you pray for us.

God's blessings continue to flow for us in Kokomo. My family has grown even more dear. And I'm ok, all.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Princess Ivy Needs a Trim

It had been a while. Our Princess, she of undetermined breed, although we are certain that there courses royal blood throughout her body, was in need of a trip to the groomer.

A new place in town, offering all sorts of perks, including a paw-de-cure, caught our eye. Zach, with coupons in hand, drove the Princess to the salon.

The owners required a detailed check in history including 'Breed." hmmmm. Zach wrote,

Siberian SnoutHound

The hub has determined that this is her breed. He also tells anyone who asks about her unique tail which, when she's in high gear, rotates in giant circles. He says that this rare breed was bred to chase rats out of sewers in Medivial England; the circular movement enabled the dogs to drive out the rats.

Mike is so serious and straightforward with this explanation that many people not only believe him,they go home to read more, only to find that they can't seem to locate the source of such lore.

Ivy DOES have some terrier in the mix and her face and whiskers can reach the droopy stage where a trim is essential.

So off to the salon. Zach drove back at 5:30 and voila! The Princess emerged, place.

According to Z, others in the outer office applauded her. I'm sure she looked around for treats.

NB: The Princess has been enjoying Waaaaaaaaaaaay too much rich food. She's porking out and when we last saw the Vet, HE was displeased. As she has some hip problems, the mom of this house has now put her foot down about feeding from the table. The only thing that worked, because all of you would feed Ivy if you looked into those eyes, is my reminder that dogs sometimes have to be put down for hip problems.

So, right now, my men are minding me in this area. And look at the Princess!

She DOES know who has effectivly dried up her extra food source so she does not smile at me. I can live with that.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Over the river and through the woods, to Charlotte, NC, we go
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh in the white and drifting snow-oh

Over the mountains, actually, as in Great Smokeys, in eastern Tennessee. Even as the trees are bare, for those of us who spend our days surrounded by flat, winter cornfields, any hills rise magnificently in front of you anytime you head south.

The hub and I decided to invite ourselves to my brother’s house in Charlotte for Thanksgiving this year. As we prepared to leave, I realized that in 35 years of marriage, we have never celebrated the great feast with my side of the family. As Mike always worked on the day after, it seemed like a too-big effort to drive to Michigan, eat and leave so the easier choice was to stay in Indiana with Mike’s people. (mine, too, by marriage)

This year was different. My brother and his angel of a wife Janelle host the feast each year with Ken doing all the cooking. He’s a math guy so he prepares a spreadsheet with tasks, times, and comments, and the meal appears, all of it, on time and hot. The guest’s job is to show up on time, get those hands folded, and eat. We got the easier job. I practiced.

Janelle, by the way, is a woman of many talents, not the least of which involves living with a Hayes for so long. She authors a blog you should check out:

I knew that they had hosted this party every year but when I called, I asked first if they had made other plans this year. Wouldn’t it be just our luck that on this year of new adventures, they might be going somewhere else? But no, they expected a crew, around 20 hungry pilgrims, to break bread…they were having other things as well…at their table on Thanksgiving. So I told Ken that we’d like to come; he said that we had made his day.

We set out on Tuesday morning in Mike’s Chevy truck, loaded down with sandwiches and sodas, plus some beef jerky. We also stockpiled books on CD. Our destination was near Deals Gap, that stretch of road where Mike and Dale like to tempt fate with their motorcycles.

Driving south is usually a joy, as Indiana’s southern hills turn into various parts of the Appalachians. As the hub required, we had REAL MAPS and we fired up the GPS and the radar detector. Traffic was light although we spotted many many many state patrolmen, those sneaks.

The hub had instructed me to find a simple place to pass the night: small and cheap. And I did. When we pulled into the ‘parking lot’ and located ‘the office,’ an autumnal woman walked slowly to the locked door and let us in. It was cheap. It was small. And the hub said, “Let’s go on to Asheville.” So we did.

Although the hub, world traveler that he is NOT, says he doesn’t like ‘vanilla motels,” (please, someone, WHERE did he get THAT term?), we moseyed into a Hampton Inn, my new favorite as I am amassing points. I think I need only 50,000 more for a free night somewhere. Or maybe 100,000. No matter. We racked up another 50 or so and enjoyed a great night’s sleep. Then off to Charlotte.

Except there is a Ducati dealer in Asheville so we paid them a visit. We found several bikes that we really need and heck, we have the truck and all….of course, they will ship to us…but the hub said, not yet.

Then, as we drove into Charlotte, the hub, who continues to surprise me every day, said, “I think they have an IKEA store in Charlotte.”

Huh? A store? YOU want to go shopping?

In case you don’t know, and before November I didn’t know, IKEA is a brand of Swedish goods that can fill one’s home, from furniture to cabinets, to rugs, to dinnerware, to doo dads and goo gaas.

The store is huge, the biggest one I’ve ever seen. And everything you look at is beautiful and it’s all displayed beautifully. AND, once you begin to stroll through the store, you really cannot get out until you’ve walked past every item. The aisles twist and wind back and forth past plates and glasses and mirrors, and couches, and kitchen utensils and frames, and tables, and …..

As you finally think you’re approaching the check out, there’s a snack bar selling fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee, you know, to revive you from your hike. And even if you don’t fall for the goodies, that aroma wafts around you.

We thought we were just looking but we left with a step stool, a cabinet and a chair for the workshop.

Then, on to Ken and Janelle’s. They live in a lovely, roomy house. I’m betting when they are the only ones home, its size seems adequate. However, we were adding to their homestead, as was my mom and niece Brit and her young man, Kenneth. All these folks slept soundly and then breakfasted as the Man of the House began his chef tasks.

Mom was between cruises and parties so Charlotte was a chance to catch her breath. She returned to Melbourne, FL the next Saturday for a flurry of holiday get-togethers before she will fly out to Los Angeles for Christmas. Just hearing her click off her December agenda makes some of us tired.

Janelle’s table was decorated with her handiwork and I can’t do it justice here, so let me just say, you have to see it to believe it. Check out that blog, I’m serious.
Mike built a small table with a drawer for Janelle and Ken. I think they were pleased. The photo above is us with our niece Britt and nephew Ian at the table ‘after.’

Thank you, baby brother (I know, cringe, but I mean it with love) for setting out a traditional feed with all the goodies.

Although Ken and Janelle are kin, we haven’t spent a lot of time with them over the years. So, they were pleased that we were coming and hoped it would go well. What they did NOT know was that God was setting them up to do special things for Mike.
Mike hates turkey. Our family Thanksgivings have included ribs, tacos, egg rolls. Mike likes orange juice in cartons and really really likes what he calls ‘Lumpy applesauce.’

The other day, Janelle sent us a card (hand made, of course) and in it, she recounted what she saw as some special hugs that God had given Mike at Thanksgiving.

“1. OJ and SPRITE. We rarely have either in the house…(they purchase, if at all, small amounts) If we had done that this year, there would’ve been none left for you.”
“2. Chunky Applesauce…Ken has never bought chunky applesauce before. In fact, he usually just grabs the smooth…this time he read labels and chose different. Different isn’t normal for him”
“ 3. Ham..we’ve never had ham for Thanksgiving, no matter how many people we were expecting. Always turkey. Always. Never even thought of ham. Never even considered that someone might not like turkey. Now we know.”

More hugs from our Father.

I was seated next to a neighbor, a junior in high school who loves literature. Imagine! We had such a good time, eating and talking. Cousin Jeannie and Mike discussed the South and the Civil War. Ken smiled throughout and Janelle, ever serene, never fluttered an eyelid.

It was your normal American Thanksgiving….food, talk, football, more food, more talk, until heads began to nod. Another great night’s sleep and we turned the truck northward for the drive home.

We had so much fun, both together and alone in the truck and with family and new friends. Ken and Janelle have made notes for next year: Mike likes ham.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Deep Thoughts on Toy-related Injuries, Ducatis, and Cool Wives

Those of you who have spent any time at all with me know that I love my toys. Especially those that have a lethal aspect to them. I have often said that if it goes fast and will kill you, I am all for playing with it. Unfortunately, lethal toys carry with them infinite possibilities for damaging your body. I know all about this. Consider the following:

I love windsurfing. The faster, the better. Several years ago, I was bored, so I decided I would go windsurfing. I loaded the board and headed to Mississinewa Reservoir. There was a nice breeze. Enough to plane the board. The wind picked up considerably and I was having the time of my life…until the mast snapped in two. Not good. The fact that it was December and sleeting did not make it better. However, I had my wetsuit on with my booties, so I was warm. Until I had to get in the water to take the mast apart and roll up the sail, so I could lay on the board and paddle it to shore. This was not hard to do, but I had no gloves. It took me about half an hour to make the shore. By the time I made it, my hands had frozen. I staggered to my car and turned on the heater. I screamed for an hour as they warmed. It was three days before they were any where close to useable. My lovely wife just shook her head and made a comment about not having a lick of sense.

I love sailing. I bought a 16 foot Prindle 10 years ago. A Prindle is like a Hobie Cat, except a Prindle is lots faster. It was equipped with a twin trapeze so two sailors could hike out, suspended by a harness. Very cool. Lee Moore and I were sailing it in about 20 knots of wind one Saturday. Lee was the only person silly enough to get on this boat with me. On a blazing downwind run with both of us hooked up on the trapeze, I let the hull in the water dive down into an oncoming wave. It is called "pearling." The boat cart wheeled, and the shackle that held the boom broke and cracked me right on the bridge of the nose. I was momentarily knocked unconscious and ended up in the water. It is not a good thing when you get hit so hard, it doesn't hurt. For about one minute, I was dazed and bleeding all over the place and was certain that my lovely schnoze was broken. Then the pain started. I still have the scar from the shackle. When the lovely Loon heard about this little mishap, she shook her head and made a comment that she did not know that sailing was a contact sport.

I love mountain biking. One Saturday morning at the Boy's Camp at Winona Lake, I was at the top of a hill where the trail runs down to the river. There was a free-swinging suspension bridge at the bottom of the trail crossing the river. I had already made the run twice. I was tired. I even thought to myself that I needed to walk the bike across the bridge to be safe. So I did that, right? No way! I let it go all the way. Half way down I knew I wasn't going to make it. I didn't. This little trick cost me a broken third vertebrae and a punctured left lung. My left arm was partially paralyzed for six months. The Lynne wanted to know when I was going to grow up and stop acting like a 10-year-old.

I love motorcycles. I had a 2006 Honda CBR 600 RR a while back. 118 horsepower in a bike weighing 350 pounds. That bike was terrifyingly fast. I was riding it at Deal's Gap one sunny Sunday morning, when I let the back wheel slide on the yellow boundary stripe on the road. Down I went. I slid for a while and then tumbled into a deep ravine. I was still OK, until I hit the rock. I did not know it at the time, but I had managed to break six ribs and puncture (yet again) my left lung. I rode the bike back to the motel, loaded it and drove nine hours home. I didn't tell The Roommate until I could no longer deal with the pain. Off to the ER. It was about four months before I could take a full breath. Lynn-o suggested I get a slower bike. Yeah, right.

I love airplanes. Particularly my beloved Mooney Mite. It is a single seat wooden airplane with a stick, a variable pitch prop, retractable landing gear, and a sliding canopy. It was fast and a trick to fly. One day I flew over to Glendale airstrip to show it off. I landed too fast and bent the landing gear. I couldn't lock it up or down. Not good. I ended up belly landing it at Kokomo. In the last few seconds of the flight, I released the canopy lock, slid the canopy back, tightened my harness, turned off the electrical system, closed the fuel valve, turned off the radio, and braced the land gear lever with my right knee. After the plane stopped sliding I jumped out of it and ran. I was uninjured. The point of this tale is that I told Lynners what had happened. She looked me over and determined I wasn't hurt and did not say much more until that night when we were in bed. She will deny that we had this conversation, but every single word set down here is true. Out of the darkness, she said, "I have only one question for you about what happened today and I don't want any of your lawyer b******t answers. I want the truth. OK?" I said I would tell the truth. There was a momentary silence and then she asked, "Did the airplane break or did you F--- up." I responded that I had F---up royally. She then said, "Well, don't do it again, OK?" I told her I would do my best not to.

(editor's note: Yes, she will deny this. She MAY have said 'lawyer b******t,' as that was an understood quantity; she would NEVER utter the "F" word. It just doesn't emerge from her lips. However, the hub has this befuddled memory imbedded and says that it is so memorable because of the level of language. He's confused. The editor is sure she used SOME sort of word, perhaps 'messed up,')

It was after the Mooney Mite conversation that I realized that I was married to an incredible woman. Most wives would be screaming at their husbands that the airplane was going, or they were. Not so with LCB. She knew better. After the bike wreck, you would think that she would have put her foot down about fast motorcycles. But nope. Not a word. What a woman!

Recently, I was in my Dr's office after a checkup. I asked how long I had to live. The Dr. said he didn't know, that everyone is different. I said I should have been dead in June, but here I was. I should have been gone by August, but here I was. He asked what I was doing with the balance of my short life. I told him that if I had a year I would buy another red Ducati motorcycle. He said, "Buy the bike." "So I have a year?" I asked. "I don't know that," he said. "Just buy the bike." I left the office thinking about another Ducati.

Which gets me to what I really wanted to say all along. On the way to Charlotte for Thanksgiving, we spent the night in Asheville, where there happens to be a Ducati dealer. We stopped and looked at the bikes. LCB asked which one I wanted. I pointed it out. She said, "Buy it, we can load it up in the truck and take it with us. Or you can ride it to Charlotte and I will drive the truck. Buy the bike." I told her that I wasn't going to buy it because it was financially irresponsible, given my short life expectancy.

Lynne-let said, "Mike, you only go around once and you don't have much time, I want you to have that bike." She paused and then said, "You know that cruise to Alaska we are going on in June? We will cancel it and use the money for the bike." I did not buy the bike.

Back when I was recovering from surgery, expecting to be dead with in 90 days, Lynnie made arrangements for a cruise to Alaska. I begged off saying I was not well and that I didn't need a trip. I just wanted to be with the people I loved at home. All of which was true. I had no idea how much Lynnie-loo wanted to go on that trip. Because I am a stupid man, I thought the trip was all for me. Wrong. She needed the trip. I did not see that. I have often told her that I have the easy part of all this. I just have to die. She has to be the caregiver, which is much harder. If it was Lynners that was sick, I do not think I could bear it. I could not deal with watching the woman I love die and be unable to do anything about it. I just couldn't handle it.

And here she is offering to give up the Alaska trip so I can buy a Ducati. Astounding! What a woman!

I am not going to buy the bike. I am going to do my best to make that Alaskan trip. According to the Drs., there is no chance that it will happen, but then I'm still here and I was supposed to be dead in June. You never know, maybe I will fool them.
Mike out.