Friday, August 11, 2017


Today is Day 14 for my good friend M.I. who is fighting like a warrior after a serious bicycle accident and reconstructive surgery from C-3 to C-7 - still at U.C. Medical Center.  Only now do I really begin to know what those letters and numbers stand for.  There are other people in my life that have coped with accidents (falling from ladders, roofs) or have undergone back surgery, but none have shocked me quite like this one.

My own coping mechanism for shock is to search for information, statistics, numbers - in a Spock like logical fashion - and dampen any emotional surge.  Try to avoid the infinite loop of "WHY" that attempts to let the emotional valley of despair be visible.

I saw M.I. and D.I on Saturday - Day 7 and everything from the neck up was normal.  Just like the 17 years of gathering together discussing life, the future, and ..... well some of the insignificant current events (when compared to this event).  My conversation that Saturday afternoon was primarily just that - just insignificant stuff -  in an attempt to avoid any emotional rollercoaster intimacy that grief or uncertainty might uncover around some fear of a future dark corner of relationship unknowns.  Avoid asking about the accident; avoid probing into their emotional privacy; avoid the obvious yearning to tell them both my own feelings of sympathy and compassion.  My thoughts - just be there for them - that should be enough.

Yes - I've reached out to my network asking for information, advice and prayer. I've researched foundations, medical facilities, checked out medical books on SCI (Spinal Cord Injury) Rehabilitation, re-read the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, watched the movie, the list goes on and on.  Each day I read the CaringBridge blog that D.I. so bravely posts and I compose encouraging words of support.  Even prayer dominates my day - specifically for the M.I, D.I. and family. 

When you don't understand ..... with no amount of data available to explain ....only three words remain - Faith, Hope and Love (1 Corinthians 13:13). 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Turkey Buzzard Moving On

The Turkey Buzzard's (officially Vultures)  were flying in low to inspect the damage of the last few days of rain. Both wondering where their home went.  Sorrowfully, the 30 foot bare tree trunk had fallen with a nest of six fledgling casualties.  Creating a Sunday afternoon of lumberjack effort, the fallen tree was cut, rolled to the side and the stump up righted (temporarily since Susan doesn't like the look).  The "Rocking W" branded into the base will no longer be visible once the trunk is removed.  And the woodpeckers and buzzards will have to move on.

Not to worry there are plenty of dead ash trees available for new homes. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Fathers Day Blessings

It was a wonderful Father's Day full of blessings.  While grooming the forest, my two assistants attempted to police the area of unwanted critters.

Then the day dived when I looked at my wrist for the time and discovered my watch was missing.  How to find "a needle in a haystack".   Luck has it that a shiny object appeared after three hours of backtracking my steps and the watch was found.

A prior Father's Day gift, I was in mourning when I discovered it missing and the high probability it would never be found. 

The bonus was an grill out with the girls (and Paul too!) and the very thoughtful present of a new leather satchel (briefcase) to replace my 30 year old Coach briefcase that has traveled the world.

Like an old wallet - it's tough to give it up.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Boston Legal #11

Last night was the eleventh "Boston Legal" evening hosted by KC.  Chops, Cigars and Cinema.  The movie choice was a 1993 Robert Duvall classic "Wrestling Ernest Hemingway".  It was the most appropriate choice given the past history of viewings about life, mission, character and the journey. 

Duvall's character, Walter, reminded me of my barber Fausto Ferrari (see Blog entry "Same" 4/6/10). I've missed getting my haircut from him for the past six months and pray that he is doing ok. 
The real message of the evening was what will the three of us be like as septuagenarians?  This movie was littered with great old guy quotes.  My favorite:

Walter:  "You have to pee too?
Frank: "I'm 75 years old.  I always have to pee."     -----   Feed the fish :) 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Heaven Board #13

Memorial weekend is now booked forever in my memories with the wedding of Jenna and Paul (5/27/17).  What a wonderful event fully planned and implemented by Susan.  Not to overshadow the Friday night graduation of Ellen (5/26/17).  This will definitely be a milestone year.  Even two of my nieces gave birth to two new children this year.

There are endless stories that this weekend generated (and maybe future blogs).  However, my moment of tears happened during the soloist singing of the Lord's Prayer at the end of the church service.  Her voice filled Hyde Park United Methodist Church in a way that everyone was stunned to silence in an awestruck moment of reflection .  Jenna purposely broke the silence to clap and a tidal wave of appreciation filled the church.  It was exclamation of the holy moment of matrimony and the heavenly AMEN!

Well -  this qualifies for another Heaven Board #13 -  Holy Memorial Matrimony

Monday, May 15, 2017

Two Apple Sticks

This weekend was a wonderful Mother's Day celebration with family and friends.

Saturday, my project was to plant two Apple trees with the help of A.M.  Sadly, the middle tree of the three original apple trees (Heaven Board #3) planted Sept. 2011 died last winter. It just didn't seem right to have only two based on my blog's symbolism.  So....  with the expertise of A.M., I chose to plant a Yellow Transparent Semi-Dwarf tree but in a moment of buyer temptation I added an additional Golden Delicious Dwarf to the orchard.

How appropriate just before the family expands (May 27, 2017) with Jenna getting married to Paul.   Now four important relationships in my life.  How fun it will be to watch them grow from sticks to bearing fruit. 

So call this Heaven Board #3A (the A for addendum). 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Frugal Spender Rewards

Lately I have been watching the various credit card solicitations that I have received in the last 4 months.  Yes.....  I fell prey to the new customer incentive and signed up for yet another credit card to get the bonus 60,000 rewards points (American Express who I had vowed never to open another account with them - another long story about customer service).  Now my credit cards total over 10 not including Department Stores.

Rewards points is today's version of S&H Green Stamps of the 60's.  The 1200 stamp booklet was worth about $1.20 (about a tenth a penny a stamp) and redeemed for merchandise.

The very nature of maximizing your rewards points is a game with every credit card provider to get you to use their card and/or link it to various merchants.  The rewards vary from 1% to 5% depending on merchandise category, activation, dates, and even volume of purchases (bonus points). The newest "5% war" by the credit card companies shows the vary nature of intense competition.

The economist in me says that this is another indication of inflation.  This "rebate" will be captured in either customer fees, interest rates, or passed on to the merchants who will raise prices to cover the merchant fees. 

Who are the winners and losers?  Those who pay attention to category bonuses, incentives, and pay the card balance monthly will win.  The losers are those who carry balances, pay in cash (where no discount is provided), or use a single credit card.

So the general rule of points still applies.  Each point (assuming a point is $1 of purchase) is worth a penny to five cents.  Now the average American (as of 2009) has about $50K in spending per year with 60% that own their own home and their average credit card debt (2010) is $5K.  So.....if you put 80% of your spending on a credit card and get an average 2% back - that is worth $800 per year in rewards points.

PS - For the obsessed Statistician who wants to know every statistic go to