Budy
June 16, 2017

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That’s Budy. With one “d”.

Ten years ago when he was in 6th grade, Ben said he wanted a dog. My response? “If you want a dog, pray one in”. So he prayed. I thought if God wants us to have a dog, which I didn’t think He did, he’d send one.

God responds to the prayers of young boys. This young dog shows up in my driveway and immediately Bonnie and Ben fell in love with him. I thought he was really adorable, but didn’t really want a dog. As Bonnie drove away to take Ben to school, the dog starts chasing them down the street. Tears running down their faces, Bonnie and Ben say they want this dog. My thoughts? If he’s meant to be ours, he’ll hang around here.

Ben comes home and all he can talk about is this dog. Bonnie and he talked about the dog jumping up on them, following the van, and now it was gone. I have to admit, I was hoping he’d be there when they came home.

A few days go by, and Ben’s grandma, who had a house on our property, calls Ben and says, “Guess who is here?”. My mother-in-law was not much of an animal lover, even though she fed two cats for 10 years or so. So we go running down the driveway to see this dog, and of course Ben says “God answered my prayer”.

I didn’t want Ben to get too excited, so we checked around and couldn’t find an owner, so we’d decided to keep him until we heard there was an owner looking for him. There wasn’t one.

Ben said he wanted to name him “Buddy”, but with one “d”. We asked why, but a sixth grader doesn’t necessarily need to have a reason. So “Budy” it was.

He was really easy to train so as to go outside to do his business. He didn’t have many accidents until toward the end.

We worried, I worried, about how he’d get along with the cat. No problem. They slept together, sometimes laying on the other ones belly. They became great friends.

Budy was always a kind dog. Never bit anyone, even when grandchildren would lay on him or hit him. But he was very gentle, sometimes just walking away from them. At times he would run away, from room to room to avoid the little ones who didn’t know better. He never snapped at them.

My favorite Budy story was when we would come home and we would find the garbage can knocked over, and we’d follow the trail to where he was. I would yell, before I even saw him, “What did you do”? And would come slinking by, refusing to make eye contact because he knew he was bad.

He had his share of injuries. He had “Cherry eye”, something caused from being in grass where there was a huge reddish welt on his eye. We took him to the vet, and with medicine eventually was ok. It seemed like if anything could happen to a dog, it would happen to Budy. Remember, dogs are expensive.

He was such a baby. The littlest thing and he acted like he was shot! I  was told beagles are pretty much babies. He was definitely a beagle. But his bark also revealed a little basset hound in him also.

He was such a good dog. He was Ben’s best friend, as he always said. Budy helped him through the death of his grandma and the breakup with a girlfriend. When all else around him was collapsing, Budy remained a constant source of comfort. He never failed Ben.

Budy, though, rarely slept with Ben. He slept with Bonnie and me. Almost every night. Bonnie, being the kind spirit she is, let him lay right against her. Me, not such a kind spirit, would scoot him over with my foot so he would lay against Bonnie. But don’t tell anybody. It’s Budy and my secret.

When it was time to go to bed, he waited until one of us went to bed. He wouldn’t go up on his own. We’d let him out, then say, “Budy, time for nite nite”, and off he’d trot up the stairs. Now apparently he slept in our bed when we were at work because we’d come home and all the blankets would be messed up and pillows on the floor. He may have had a party or two.

Ben was always worried that Budy would run away, or sneak out, or have something wrong with him. Ben is the sensitive one, like his mom.  About six weeks ago Ben felt lumps on Budy’s body. Bonnie said to just keep an eye on it. We did  for a couple weeks and they got bigger.

We took him to our vets, Dr. Miller and Dr. Uzarski. Dr. Miller said it didn’t look good. He had lymphoma. We asked what is the prognosis and he said he had no idea. So he decided to put him on steroids. He said to check back in a week.

We brought him back, and they hadn’t got any larger. But that also meant they didn’t get any smaller. I asked the doctor what to look for symptom wise, and basically was told that you’ll know it’s time when he stops acting like a dog.

This past week or so, he stopped acting like a dog. He laid around a lot, we felt the lumps getting bigger, he didn’t want to eat his dog food. So we gave him new food, rice, meat, treats, whatever he wanted.

Two days ago he started to lose control of his bowels. He was getting up in the middle of the night and we didn’t hear him. He would let loose at the door, all of it diarrhea. In the morning he wouldn’t eat. Anything. He barely moved. We knew it was time.

We made an appointment with the vet for yesterday. It’s a long drive to the vets when you know the dog will not return. Ben sat in the back with Budy, just petting him and telling him how much he loved him.

The end was peaceful. I told Budy, “Budy, its time for nite, nite. One shot and it was over in seconds. He had a tumor on his leg and who knows how many inside. But now he was at peace.

Budy wasn’t my dog. He was Ben’s. For 10 years, he helped my boy grow from childhood to manhood, which I am very grateful for. Did I cry? You bet. It’s hard to be strong when you hurt so,  but you need to help those around you. The family all gathered last night and had a tribute dinner to Budy. That’s what family does.

Ben decided he wanted him cremated so he will always be with us. I’m cool with that.

People without pets may not get the hurt we experience. Maybe not get the agony or as Ben says, “My heart hurts”. People without pets may think it’s ridiculous to feel this way about an animal. “He’s just a dog”.

But he was Budy. And always will be to us.

 

 

 

Sugar (ba da da da da da) ah, honey honey
March 16, 2017

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Sugar Diabetes. Type II.

What a cute name for a horrible disease. And, to make it worse, a self inflicted disease.

My mother was a diabetic. Sugar diabetic. I remember when she found out and she had to give herself insulin shots. She was overweight, ate poorly, and didn’t exercise. She had a sweet tooth like nobody I ever met.

She always baked, if it wasn’t cookies, it was pie, or cakes (oh, her cakes), or bread. Didn’t know about carbs then and just learning about them now. I’m Italian, of course I eat carbs. I remember pasta every Sunday (and maybe another day during the week), homemade bread with butter. On Sunday, I’d take a chunk of bread and dip it in the sauce while she was cooking it. Delicious doesn’t even describe it. Taste buds heaven is more like it.

So when she got diabetes, she didn’t change her eating much. I remember us kids helping her give herself shots. Two, maybe three a day, I don’t remember. But she hated it. And I said that wasn’t going to happen to me. But it did.

I tease and say it’s all my mom’s fault, but it’s mine. Undisciplined eating, lack of exercise brought this all on. I’m angry at nobody, but disappointed in me. I have a wicked sweet tooth. I wish Dr. Voisey could remove it, but it’s genetic. My father, however rarely ate sweets until he got into his later years after retirement, then he loved pies.

I’ve been diagnosed with this for about 17 years, and have been on Metformin since then. Recently, my sugar has gotten worse. Winter lack of exercise (laziness), and eating horribly (undisciplined). I am the type that as long as meds take care of the issue, there’s no sense in me changing anything. Until now.

My old doctor told me there is never a reason to eat a donut. I disagreed and switched doctors. Seriously, I did. Now my new doctor wants to add a medicine as my sugar has been ranging in the 180-220 range. That is bad and can cause eye, kidney, and other problems. My mother had a stroke at 65 or so. I don’t want that.

I remember mom, God bless her, after her stroke. It affected her speech, her one leg, and one arm. She still loved her sweets. One time I’m in the living room and I hear the fridge door open up and  then she heads out the door. I watch her. She went to the back of the yard and ate a donut! She didn’t want to get caught.

I went to the heart doctor recently, and she had my weight from two years ago to present. It ranged from 255-260. I’m at 257 this morning. I imagine, I’ve learned to maintain my weight, but I’d really like to maintain around 200 or so.

This blog has been about walking to 199, but it has been a journey with a lot of pit stops. I do good for awhile, I don’t do good, I do great, I do lousy, you get it. Up five, down five. Like Joan Rivers said, “I’ve lost so much weight I should be a trinket on a charm bracelet”.

So, I think it’s time. I made a deal with my doctor. I asked her that if she would wait until I see her in two weeks to decide on a new medicine. If I can’t bring it down by diet and exercise then I’m open to whatever she wants. She loves the idea, so I have been trying. And when I’m good with this mentally, it’s easy. When I’m wishy washy, its hard.

My first day of work after my decision, I go on the adolescent units, and there is donuts. Now usually, I go open the box “just to look”, and usually I take one. This day, I decided to treat sweets like porn……I just can’t look at it.

With this being said: I’m on the treadmill at home (B….O…..R….I…..N…..G), have begun packing my lunch for work with healthy snacks, and attempting to eat snacks every 2-3 hours between meals.

It’s working. My sugar has been as low as 110, and only as high as 159. Not where it needs to be, but it’s on its way down. Bonnie has been phenomenal and I couldn’t do it without her. She prepares healthy things, new healthier recipes, and prays with me. How blessed to have someone, when she heard the news about new medicines, took me by the hands and sat me down, saying “That’s enough”, and prayed with me. Through tears. I think she wants me around.

God is bigger than any problem. Jesus has been my help in all my situations. He is my strength. Will I slip up at times? I’m sure I will, but I’m praying that I don’t. I’m praying that however long it takes, I will no longer need medicine for this, but only self discipline.

I’m very thankful for medicines, but, as Bonnie said, “That’s enough”. So I’m praying this journey is helpful for some and hopeful for many. I’m 61, and God has been faithful to me.

I can do this. Romans 8:31- “ What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be[a] against us?”

No one.

As I remember, I will continue to put my highest and current weight at the bottom.

Please pray for me.

 

273.6/257.4

War (What is it Good For?)
November 12, 2016

img_4610Well hasn’t this election been crazy? The campaigning seemed longer than most wars. I’m particularly glad that the advertisements are off the television. I’m glad we’re moving on with life………oh wait.

People decided they didn’t like the democratic process, so, as the Doobie Brothers put it, they’re “taking it to the streets”. Riots. Damaging cars and stores. Because. They. Lost. The. Election. Think about that for a moment.

They’re not rioting because the poor aren’t being fed, the veterans can’t get services, the homeless are sleeping on the street. It’s because. They. Lost. The. Election.

I got to admit, I never cried when the candidate I wanted didn’t win. I remember though, being 12 and crying when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated.  I had great hope for him. But I mourned a death, not a lost election. OK, I’m old, so humor me and answer me this question?

What the heck is wrong with this generation? Cornell University had a “cry in”. Seriously, a “cry in”. Students who couldn’t handle that Hillary lost, all met together and cried. Now wait, there’s more. The school gave them chalk so they could write their feelings on the sidewalks. I’m talking COLLEGE kids, not elementary school kids who had their crush move to another school, but this is college age students.

So a couple schools made tests “optional” because how distraught the students were that their candidate lost. Seriously. The phrase “Nutty Professor” is making more and more sense. What is wrong with these kids? But its not just the kids.

Adults, on Twitter, hoping someone would assassinate Trump. A black woman tweeted about how a “brother ought to take one for the team” and kill Trump. This is the tolerant, kind hearted, liberal people who feel Trump is going to “destroy the country” while they are burning buildings and cars? Does anyone see the absurdity of all that?

When I was a teen, I got involved in a campaign to have a Lt. Kelly be released from going to trial. His crime was during the Viet Nam war, he killed innocent people because of orders given to him. He did kill them, no doubt. But he was under order to. I started a petition in high school, got hundreds of signatures to release him and to arrest the commanding officers who ordered this. My teachers thought I was crazy, and my friends were stumped why I, a long haired hippie, would support a soldier instead of being against the war. I just felt it was the right thing to do. I sent it to President Nixon. I never heard anything, he must of been busy. Did you know he was a Quaker? Quakers are against war of any kind. I guess we can say he wasn’t a very good Quaker.

I hated the war. It was long already, but back in 1973, it was winding down. Nixon ended the war and the draft. I don’t care about Watergate. He ended the draft. Thank you “Tricky Dick”.

The war made no sense. (I say this with the realization that some wars do make sense). I knew people that came back in a box. People came back horribly addicted. Some people came back with mental problems as well as physical issues  because of “Agent Orange”, a chemical we used that ended up hurting our soldiers.

I was 18, not ready to run through the jungles of Viet Nam or Cambodia and try not to die. I couldn’t imagine how different I would have been if I went. For those who went, I salute you. You are better men than me. But as Billy Joel said in his liner notes for “Goodnight Saigon”, a terrific song of the fear and horror of Viet Nam, “To those of you that didn’t go to Viet Nam, you didn’t miss anything”.

But I didn’t loot or riot. I didn’t want to kill the president. I didn’t want to go, though. I wanted to stay home and listen to the George Harrison, Moody Blues and Dylan. Heck if Muhammed Ali could avoid the war, I could (although he went to jail for awhile). To this day I don’t know if I’d had gone or went to Canada like all the liberal Hollywood liars said they’d go if Trump won, but are still here. I honestly was a scared kid who didn’t want to die.

So, yes, I was young once. And as far as I remember, I was against a lot of things, but I never rioted to make a point. I guess my parents were better parents than I thought. I was raised better than these college kids, I guess. Values do that.

 

273.6/258.4

He Ain’t Heavy……Well, Yeah, He Is
March 16, 2016

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So I went to the doctor’s last Friday for a follow up appointment from when I had my urinary tract infection. Listen to this wonderful story about my health insurance.

Before I took the insurance, we called to see if our doctor was covered, and was told she was. I then asked what hospital I was to use, as my doctor is associated with the one at the end of my street, called Sharon Regional. So they said it wasn’t on the list, but I was “probably” covered. I don’t trust any of them.

Let me back up. In February, I ended going in to see an associate of my doctor, as my doctor wasn’t in, and told him my complaints. He gives me a urine test and says there is an infection. Antibiotics and if there are still problems then I should go to the ER.

That night, I couldn’t breathe. Bonnie was at work, she calls the insurance and says what’s going on and what hospital should I go to. The lady said Sharon Regional wasn’t covered and I had to go to UPMC (which I preferred as I believe it’s a better hospital. I’m so glad Bonnie called, because this gets better). So off I go and all sorts of tests, x-rays, etc., and I go home.

Now I like my doctor and I’m deciding do I find a doc associated with UPMC? After all, if I’m hospitalized, she can’t come see me. So, as I like the doctor, I’m keeping her.

Ok, back to the present. Before I go to the doctor’s on Friday, Bonnie opens the mail and we get a bill for my urine test. My doctor’s associate, apparently, sent it in for testing TO SHARON REGIONAL, and I got a bill for $500! I’m going to sell my urine if it’s that valuable! Chanel No. 5, look out.

Now my doctor who I saw last Friday is a sweetheart. I like her personality and her medical skills. So she tells me my blood work is good and I’m in “great shape”. (I love this doctor). Other than my sugar which was 8 on my hemoglobin A1C. It should be 6 or lower. So, back to walking and watching what I eat. I also have a cyst on my kidney that they will monitor.

I’ve discovered something about me during this aging process. I’ve said this before, I don’t care much what other people think. They want me to get on the scale, and normally I empty pockets, wear shorts, no socks, take off coats, and trim my nails and eyebrows to get my weight taken and tell myself that the kidney cyst must weigh 5 pounds AT LEAST. Not anymore. Jeans, hoodie sweatshirt, socks, jacket, pockets full of keys and a wallet. It didn’t matter. I am what I am.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m going to try to lose weight, and normally I weigh myself in the morning with just my gutchies on (sorry for the visual there), and weigh myself before and after my shower and take my lowest number. However, I’m no longer stressing about it. I’ll try my best and weigh myself occasionally. I’ll exercise and attempt to lower my A1C, but that’s it. No fad diets, but will try to get off the diabetic med.

Now, I realize I am in “great shape” because of medicine. So I will try my best to get off the meds for blood pressure (maybe just quit following the Browns, that should lower it) and keep the cholesterol low. I’ve incorporated oatmeal with all natural peanut butter and add fruit. Actually, it’s my favorite meal, at least for now.

I want to be around for my grandchildren and dance at their weddings. (When I dance now, I realize I move like a drunk rhino or Elaine on Seinfeld). So I’m not making light of it. I want to encourage everyone to do what you can to lose the weight you need, strengthen the muscles you need, and don’t give up.

In the meantime, I cut my portions, have an occasional piece of Philadelphia Candies chocolate, share mini M&Ms with Haniah, but try to focus on more balanced meals. Ok, yesterday we had Olive Garden and I ate enough bread sticks to build Trump’s wall, but that wasn’t the norm. I wish it could be. When I’m home I eat wheat pasta, and I hear my mother’s voice saying, “Joey, I raised you better than that”. But, she died at 68 from complications from her diabetes and heart. So, Mama, I gotta do what I got to do. With the help of Christ, through prayer.

I hate on Facebook when people say, “I’m going to do this” or “I’m going to do that”. Just do it. After you’re done, let us know what you did. That’s my plan. An occasional update. Today I weigh 273.6, fully clothed, as I don’t want to have you visualize me, you know, the other way.

 

I, Me, Mine
March 10, 2016

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I’m self evaluating. Not sure why now, not sure what brought this on, but that’s what I’m doing now.

I find myself questioning my motives on all things lately. Why do I share certain things with others? Is it for their approval/disapproval? Why do I do the things I do? To please myself, others, God, none of the above?

Why do I put expectations on myself but not on other people? Do I feel I have to “be” a certain way or “act” a certain way? So bear with me while I figure this out.

As a pastor, who loves Jesus, I find that my behaviors and actions are at times more that I “like” Jesus more than love Him. I have attitudes, behaviors, thoughts, etc., that certainly wouldn’t be pleasing to Him. I feel shame with some of this, but as I evaluate, do I really feel shame or is it that I’m “supposed” to feel shame?

Do I write these blogs to get noticed, or do I write them for me? Do I have a need to be noticed, and if so, why? Am I that self absorbed?

I’m remarkably flawed, and it astounds me that God would ever want to use me in the pulpit. I tell Him, “You are one desperate Deity”. But yet He does. And He never lets go. Subtle changes have taken place, and other changes are yet to come, so let’s just put it out there. This is me.

I love Bob Dylan ( I have 35 of his CDs and have seen him twice in concert) and the Beatles. I find that the music moves me. There’s a show that is called “House of Cards”. It’s not a nice show, it’s a political show that I would not recommend to other Christians, but I like it very much. I am a very strong New York Yankee fan, I’m passionate about them and the Cleveland Browns. Win or lose, they are just a part of me. I get angry when they lose. But, as I’ve aged, the anger leaves quickly.

I’m a conservative Independent from a liberal democrat family. I will probably vote for Donald Trump. Everyone says if you’re a Christian, you shouldn’t vote for him. I don’t care, I probably will because I like the changes he wants to make. He’s vulgar, verbally abusive and can be mean. I’m not voting for his bedside manner.

I remember when my daughter had to go to a specialist and the doctor was very mean and ill mannered. I didn’t care because I hired her for her expertise, not her chumminess.

I loved my mother deeply and liked my dad. I get angry I see my dad in other people but I get madder when I see my dad in me.

Did I mention I love Bob Dylan?

I think our current president is one of the most ungodly presidents ever put in the White House. Then I remember that the Lord puts rulers in their places, and sometimes gives the people what they want.

I have a wickedly sometimes warped sense of humor. Morbid at times, inappropriate at times, but I always go for the laugh. I’m told I’m not supposed to. I’m working on it. But obviously, not very hard. I’m 60, not sure how much longer it’s going to take.

I’m greatly overweight, or I’m undersized, depending how you look at it. If I was 6′ 8″, I’d be the perfect weight. I’m undisciplined in my eating, but I do enjoy my walking to 199. I love it. I’m bald, and I am so ok with it. People think I shouldn’t be, but I am. And as I’ve gotten older, I care less and less about what people think of me. Although I care deeply what my wife and children think, and more so for my grandchildren.

But, I love all people. Christian, atheist, whatever. I love people who like the Pittsburgh Steelers (even though for the life of me I can’t figure out why they do). I love people who love the Boston Red Sox, although I believe a mental disorder is present. I realize if it wasn’t for Christ, I would not be very likable.

I love my church people, but some I love more than others. I’m like that with a lot of people. People tell me “I love them in Christ” but they don’t like them. My response is that if you love them in Christ then you’ll die for them. Outside of my wife, kids, and grandchildren, there aren’t many I’d die for.

I think I am a very good preacher, not by my doing, but by God’s. I don’t think I’m a very good pastor, however. I can get distracted and be lazy. I can put myself first at times, and that truly bothers me that I can do that.

I don’t want my flaws to be a stumbling block for someone coming to Christ. My political or sports or music views should not cause one to stumble. I wouldn’t want that.

Nobody knows how many prayers I’ve prayed for the Lord to change me more like Him. Struggles with thoughts and actions, confusion about “what is a Christian?” or “how does a Christian act?”. I look through the Scriptures and see David, a murderer, Jacob, a liar, Peter, a denier of Christ. Yet the Lord used them, as He uses me.

So my reflection has taught me this: I am a Christian pastor. I am also a human being sanctified daily.

 

Already Gone
March 1, 2016

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Not trying to copy Bob Dylan (as if I could do it justice), but time is ridiculously quick. As I type this, it’s the end of February, and I can’t believe it’s gone, even with an extra day.

I remember my dad used to tell me how fast it goes as you get older. And now February 2016 is gone.

It doesn’t seem long ago it was New Years Eve 2000, and we all feared the planes would fall from the sky, the computers would crash, we’d have no food, not water, no gasoline. And here we are 16 years later.

It’s funny how things go as time passes. I’m not going to have the body that my head said I could have when I gained weight back 30 years ago. Still overweight, but realizing that I won’t have the “beach body” I thought I’d have. It’s that realization that is overwhelming now. I can probably lose some weight, diet the right way and exercise, pray that God gives me the strength to do that. But “beach body”? Nah. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get good at the guitar. I’ve had a guitar for 15-20 years. Oh, I can pick a few songs, but not where I can look at the music and play any song. It was hard to reach some of the chords. I don’t even touch it now. I practiced some for a few years, said I’d pick it up again, but it won’t happen. Not that I’m old and going to die, but just because that desire has pretty much left me. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get Bonnie the house she deserved. We lived out in the country for 21 years, 4 acres of land. Always wanted to get her a wrap around porch. Put a rocking chair out there, sit back and drink coffee in the evening watching the sunset, and strum my guitar. Sort of like Andy Taylor in Mayberry. I live in the city now. That porch isn’t going to be built out in the country. Time went too fast.

I’ll never get to England. Always wanted to walk Abbey Road, check out where Apple Studios was, visit the Cavern, go to Liverpool. Oh, and some other non-Beatle things are there I hear. But I’m not going to spend money on that now. Time went too fast.

I’ll never learn Italian. Bought an Italian course, never kept up with it. It’s a hard thing to learn a second language. At least for me it is. It’s too much work for now, and seriously, what’s the point?  Time went too fast.

I don’t want this to sound depressing or “woe is me”, like I’m old and ready to die, because I’m not. I suppose that if I desire, I can get back with the guitar or learn Italian. The key is “if I so desire”. The beach body and house with a wrap around porch in the country just ain’t going to happen. But see, it’s like John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

Dylan is right on with this. Time flies, we grow old, our views change, and nothing stays the same. But like he says, “you better start swimming or you’ll sink like a stone. Oh the times they are a changing”. Everything changes. But here’s the good news.

I am writing blogs. I am studying the Scriptures more than I ever have. I’m mentoring young guys at the church. I know God better than I ever have. I’ve learned how to pray, not how a book tells me to pray, but how God tells me to pray.

I play with my grand kids and spend more time with Bonnie and my kids. I enjoy the sunset and sunrise. I’ve rediscovered Buhl Park. I stop and smell the roses. I don’t drink, smoke cigarettes or pot. I remember “the night before”. I have deeper relationships with friends that are deeper than any I’ve ever had. I have a love for my wife that can’t compare to what it was 30 years ago or with any other type of love I’ve felt. Before I used to care what people thought of me. Today, it doesn’t matter.

I’ve learned to not sweat the small stuff and discovered that most everything is small stuff. I don’t worry like I used to. I have learned to keep expectations low on people and high on God. I’ve learned to lean on Christ more and me less.

Actually, life is good right now. The past is the past and it’s already gone. But today? Man, I really am digging it. And tomorrow? Can’t wait……..but let’s not go so fast!

 

 

Stuck In The Middle With You
February 23, 2016

 

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It’s been awhile since I talked of my walk to 199. It’s been a very slow walk.

Last year this time, my numbers were awful. Sugar up, cholesterol up, liver function not good. I then proceeded to walk most of the summer, lost weight (I was 276, I think), dropped to 264 (I think). Got lazy at the end of summer (which was gorgeous, beautiful walking weather through December), and didn’t do much.

I ate horrible again, went for easy instead of nutritious. Weight remained steady, but found that I have little energy. Picked up walking again in January, as it’s been mild, but not at the pace I used to walk. Didn’t change eating, and here I am. Sugar is way up, liver number is up, and getting screened for prostate cancer, as I had a bad urinary infection and they want to check it all out.

Ever walk down the street and catch your reflection in the window or mirror and immediately become shocked? I did. Shocking isn’t the word. Devastated. From looking at my body from my view (head looking down), it’s not George Clooneyish, but it’s not that bad. But when I see it from the side, it’s pretty revealing.

Well, we know the battlefield is in the mind, and my mind is sort of there. Ok, if it’s a battlefield, then picture you’re in a fox hole with a gun, but not sure if you want to put in ammo to fight. Yeah, that’s about it.

With me, I go through periods of doing real well and then periods of real  bad. My cousin John put it best, “All diets work if you stay on them”. I’m not into dieting (obviously) but do need to better watch what I’m eating. The Fast metabolism diet worked, but if I didn’t stay on it, I blew up like the Hindenburg. (Too soon?).

My mother was a diabetic. I am so like her. She would eat a donut, then increase her insulin shot. I’m the same way (without the shot!). Her answer to everything was “Eat. You’re too skinny anyways”. Sweets! My motto has always been, “I’d rather eat cake than steak”.

So this blog isn’t to tell you, “I’ve got this. I’m going to do better. I’m going to lose weight. I’m going to, as Seinfeld says, “yada yada yada”. I’m just telling you this is where I’m at.

My frame of mind is good (well, come on, as good as it could get), and I’m not anxious or depressed. Just want to fill you in on what’s been going on. I’m not going to continually tell you my weight, but I will with my struggles, as it may be helpful to someone. So if I come to mind, please pray for me. God is so good.

So thanks for your faithfulness. Still planning on Walking to 199, but not sure if I may have to pick up the pace or not.

 

 

 

Distractions
February 19, 2016

is

 

I’ve noticed that throughout most of my life, I become easily distracted. Either by a thought, a sight, sound, or even a smell. I feel like a sheep that spots a butterfly and follows it, forgetting totally what I was doing.

Morning prayer doesn’t come easy. My stomach keeps saying, “You need breakfast. You will not be able to focus if you don’t eat. You might even die” I start to write a blog and my phone “dings”, telling me that either the Yankees made a move or that someone likes my picture on Instagram. I have to check it out because, after all, I AM that important.

I read in my office, and hear the TV downstairs. “Is that Seinfeld? I don’t think I’ve seen that episode. Wow, Kramer is funny. Did I see that show or was that on Monday. Oh, Monday, boy did it snow. Oh, I have to finish shoveling out the front sidewalk.” It goes on and on. Next think I know I put the book down and begin to shovel the snow.

Has this ever happened to you? You start a project, let’s say, patching holes in the wall so you can paint. I go downstairs to get the putty, and notice that the work area is a mess. So, I start to straighten it out and find an empty jar that is perfect for the small nails I have. So I begin to gather the small nails and put them in the jar.

The shelf that I want to put the nails on is covered with sandpaper and paint supplies. I move those to the bottom shelf and see all the extension cords are not tied up together. So, I look for the twine to tie them together and realize that I left it upstairs. Going upstairs I see a couple dirty dishes in the sink, and decide to be a nice fella and put them in the dishwasher.

The dishwasher has clean dishes so I have to put them away. So I put the dishes away, and as I begin to load the dishwasher, I see that we’re out of dishwasher soap. So I head downstairs, and remember that I wanted to get the twine in the junk drawer upstairs. As I get the dishwasher soap, I notice that there are clothes that are dry and need brought upstairs.

I grab the clothes and take them to my office, forgetting the dish soap or even the twine, and put my clothes away, and notice that my one brown dress shoe is missing. I look in the office and can’t find it, but remember I kicked them off in the bedroom and must have brought only one into the office. I go in the bedroom, and notice the dog has messed up the bed. I straighten out the bed and head downstairs, noticing that I need to patch the wall in the stairwell before I can paint it. But it’s late. Maybe tomorrow.

Bonnie asks what I did all day. “Nothing”.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just me?

 

Death of My Heroes
January 22, 2016

Bowie

 

The deaths of Glenn Frey and David Bowie have me remembering about my old heroes. Glenn and David weren’t “heroes”, but definitely “influences”. But I have several heroes whose deaths have affected me greatly.

The first one was on June 5, 1968. I remember it clearly. I was 12 years old, and for the first time was getting involved in politics. I remember watching him give speeches on TV, always was told his brother was a great president, and firmly believed he’d end the Viet Nam war, cause I didn’t want to go be a part of that mess. But when Sirhan Sirhan assassinated Bobby Kennedy, it just shook my world. I barely remembered his brother John getting murdered, and was fully aware of the murder of Martin Luther King on April 4th, and here we are, two months later, and another senseless killing. I like the term “senseless” killing, as if some killings make sense. I realized, at the age of 12, the world was mad. He was 42. And I wanted nothing to do with politics for a very long time.

Oh Captain, my Captain! August 2, 1979 I got a call from my brother-in-law Tom. He said “Did you hear the news”. I said no. He said, “Thurman Munson died in a plane crash”. Now Tom was a die hard Red Sox fan and I’ve been a Yankees fan all my life. I told him, “This is sick if you’re making a joke”. He said, “It’s not a joke. Thurman is dead”. Thurman was a great guy, learned to fly a plane so he could go back and forth to his wife and kids in Cleveland. He should be in the Hall of Fame. I got to meet him after a ball game in Cleveland. I asked if I could shake his hand. He kept walking but his wife talked him into it. I shook his hand. I wish I wouldn’t have let go. He was 32.

I was living in Florida and on Dec. 8, 1980, I was watching a Monday Night Football game, I believe. Howard Cosell comes on with breaking news. John Lennon was shot outside of his apartment in New York City. He was 40. I couldn’t believe it. Of all the Beatles, he wasn’t my favorite (more on that later), but he was THE BEATLES. There would be no reunion. A part of my childhood died. I cried. It reminded me the world was mad.

On July 16, 1981 I heard that singer/songwriter Harry Chapin was killed in a car accident. He was driving his VW with the emergency lights flashing and was hit by a semi truck. The impact killed him instantly, with the police saying the truck driver pulled him out of the burning car. He was a great humanitarian and was on his way to perform a free concert. He was 38. Cats in the cradle with a silver spoon.

August 13, 1995 was when a big part of my childhood died. Mickey Mantle, my first hero, died at the age of 63. Growing up, I became a Yankees fan because of him. My entire house loves the Indians, and my dad said that it was because of Mickey Mantle I became a Yankees fan. Thanks Mick. He had a lot of issues and if he was alive today, they would smear him because of his issues. See, nowadays, you can’t have heroes. Not sure why that is. Through all the injuries, through all the pain, there was something about him that made me want to be a Yankee. I got to see him play, but I’d love to have met him.

On November 29, 2001 the rest of my childhood died. George Harrison died at the age of 58, succumbing to cancer. I was devastated. Of all the Beatles, he was and is my favorite. I had tickets to see him on his solo tour in 1974 in Cleveland at the Richfield Coliseum. A blizzard cancelled the tour, and they never rescheduled it. He influenced me in an almost hypnotic way, to the point I read the Bhagavad Gita. It’s a Hindu book, with a forward by Harrison. I was searching philosophically at the time for the answers. I had a million questions, but the answers were out there somewhere.

Now I talked of Bowie and Frey, but also Chris Farley, John Candy, Peter Sellers, James Cagney, Jim Croce, Leslie Nielsen and others were all influences. Not heroes.

But no day has affected my life like January 19,1984. It was on that day that I realized who my greatest hero was. He died around 33 A.D., and His name is Jesus Christ. Of all my heroes, He was the only one who knew me. He was the only one who knew I existed. He was the only one who lived for me. And He was the only one who died for me. I didn’t have to pay to hear Him sing. I didn’t have to pay to watch Him play ball. And I didn’t have to vote for Him for president, because He is the King of the Universe.

When my other heroes died, I was sad. But when I realized that Christ died for me, it brought tears of happiness. Joy, inexpressible joy. Peace, a peace that goes beyond human understanding.

I may never see my heroes again. I know everyone doesn’t go to heaven. But I know that I will see Jesus Christ, face to face, soon. Because He’s my hero. And He knows me.

 

Sixty Eve
September 30, 2015

Tomorrow is a big one. I’ve had a lot, but not this big. Tomorrow, I turn 60.
Crazy, not sure how I got here. My goal was to be in my best shape ever at 60, better than I was at 50.
My blood work says I’ve done what I wanted to accomplish. Also, I wanted to be at 260 or below by October first, and as of today, I am exactly 260.0! Considering in March I was 279, and in June I was 277, I’m happy.
This walking has really gotten into my blood. I can’t wait for the walks, and although I prefer with Bonnie, I have no issue walking solo.
Sixty is weird. And I’m totally cool with it. I’m liking getting older, I’m liking how I feel, I’m liking how I look, and after 30 years, I’m still loving who I married. I’ve been married half my life. I don’t remember life without her. I don’t think I had a life before her.
The walking works. Maintaining a discipline of just being careful, but not giving up anything. I can still eat sweets, I can still eat pasta (real pasta, not the brown kind), I can drink a Coke, eat mashed potatoes, anything, but all of it in moderation.
That’s the key to everything, isn’t it? Moderation. I can overdo anything. Well, anything I like: food, games, football, anything. So, eventually, the light clicked on, and here I am. I am confident I will never see 270 again, if I keep doing what I’m doing. I can’t wait to say that about 260, but it will happen. Looking forward to 199.
Sorry, I can’t do the diet thing. I’m Italian. That diet stuff just goes against everything I’ve learned. Mangiare bere e divertirsi, which is “Eat, drink, and be merry” in Italian.
I figure I’m 2/3 done with life. My plan is 90. Hey, Ben doesn’t have kids yet and I have to make sure all my kids are raising my grandbabies right. God willing, I’m dancing at my grandkids weddings.
So on this Sixty Eve, I march on. Under the strength of Christ, the love of my wife, the encouragement from my kids, and the prayers of you, I will carry on. I want to encourage all who read this, that we need to embrace this life. No fear and no regrets.
Like Red Skelton said, (You youngsters can look him up), “Don’t take life too serious. You’ll never get out of it alive anyhow”.
Let’s do this.