Welcome to my blog, or should I say to the ramblings of an old man. I doubt that my ramblings are of much value, but at least I have an opportunity to share them.  So, please be kind and humor me. If nothing else of value stands out in these thoughts, I hope that you at least sense the value I place on a daily walk with the Lord.  That walk is what has provided me with motivation and a sense of purpose throughout my lifetime.  My prayer is that you, too, are experiencing this direction and joy in daily living which is available to everyone who puts his trust in Christ.  So, thanks again for joining me.  Please don't go without leaving some comments here so I can get to know you better as our paths intersect today in this blog.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree!

There are two special things that I enjoy doing to relax. One is sitting in our back room, next to our roaring gas stove, watching, through our new large windows, the snow fall and accumulate on our huge pine trees. It is so peaceful and beautiful. The second is sitting in my lounger, listening to beautiful Christmas music, and looking at our Christmas tree. I love the beautiful colors of the tree, especially when everything else in the room is dark. It's a great atmosphere in which to relax and meditate and pray. Unfortunately, before one can enjoy this experience, one must deal with putting up and decorating the tree. A few years ago we got rid of our huge artificial tree that took hours to assemble and purchased a slightly smaller one from Stauffers that was supposed to be much easier to set up. But, we found out, too late, that the branches sag. It looked much nicer in the store. So the first thing we must now do is tie up many of the branches to fill in the open spots. Not much fun. A few days ago I survived that ordeal. Then we began to put on the strings of lights. Dianne had three of the five strings on when we found that many of the lights had burnt out. So we began to work on the fourth string and suddenly all the lights on that string went out. After much frustration, I found that the fuse on that line had blown and, of course, we had no such fuses in our house. So the next morning we were off to the hardware store and when I found fuses, I decided to buy some extra in case more would ever go out. Then we went to another store to buy more replacement bulbs. When we finally got home I replaced the fuse and we began to install bulbs again, only to find out that Lowes had mixed in some of the wrong type bulbs in the rack with the ones we needed. I didn't know that until we opened the one box. Then it was too late. Bummer. I was just able to return one of the boxes. But we had enough to hook up the fourth string. Then suddenly all the lights on the four strings went out. Once again the fuse had blown and now I no longer wanted to take a chance with that string. So I went to work on the fifth string only to find out that it also needed a fuse, and guess what. It took a different size. So back to the store once again. However, this time we just decided to avoid the hassle and purchase two new strings. Have you shopped recently for Christmas tree lights, especially looking for those that match what you already have? Lights now come in all sizes, all colors, and all types, including energy efficient. But we did find two strings of the same size and type that we had. That just about solved our problem. However, we also found that we had some blinking lights mixed in and we really don't want blinking lights - sorry if you like them - we don't. So once again we replaced bulbs. Finally the lights were on! And now we have enough extra bulbs, including blinkers and wrong styles, and fuses to last us a lifetime - or at least until next year - or, hopefully, at least until January. The tree is up and it is beautiful and I am looking forward to a number of nights of relaxation in front of the tree listening to Christmas music. Unfortunately it won't be very long until we need to reverse the process and take all of it down again. That is almost as much work as putting it up. Now, in all fairness, Dianne does much of the work. But I do share in both the work and the frustrations. However, I do have a great creative solution for this problem, but Dianne won't listen to it. Once it is up, why not just keep the tree up all year? Look at all the work and frustration this would eliminate and I could enjoy the tree whenever I wanted to. That solution has my vote! Let me know if you support my solution. I need all the support that I can get on this one.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dear Editor

I guess letters to the editor are part of the American way, but I am beginning to wonder if they should be continued in local newspapers. It appears that they are becoming much more critical - actually nasty. And it appears to me that those who write them generally fall into certain categories - liberals who defend liberal ideas and denounce conservatives; Ultraconservatives who attack liberals; Special interest activists promoting their causes; Anti-Christians who attack Christian beliefs; Folks who just want to be heard or whose elevators don't reach to the second floor. For example, last week in the Lancaster Sunday News there were letters defending Obama and Pelosi while blaming Bush for all of our problems. That's a regular theme. It was worse prior to the election. There was another letter condemning Republican Congressman Pitts, saying he should not take his salary. There was a letter chastising parents for not having their children ready at the bus stop. I guess the writer must be in a hurry. Of course, maybe she could leave earlier to avoid the buses. There was also a letter saying that a local elementary school could be kept open if the history department were eliminated. I never knew that an elementary school even had a history department. The writer probably failed history when she was in school. But I guess that is "past history". There was also another letter condemning Michael Vick. Writers have trouble with the concept of forgiveness. Fortunately there weren't any letters this week defending gay rights or condemning the county commissioners for eliminating the Human Relations Commission to prevent another tax increase. But there was a letter criticizing comments made by a local Christian pastor. Here is part of what the writer had to say. "If he (the pastor) were to read Bart Ehrman's books about how the early Bible writers - most long after Christ's death - produced wildly different stories about Christ and his relation to us, he might change his mind, but I doubt it. He might adopt the Beiswenger hypothesis and search for the atemporal particle in our neurons that constitutes our soul; that's not much different from his Bible story. Yes, we've all been afraid of dying, but we shouldn't be afraid of being dead, because death is the price of evolution, and we all must recycle our atoms back to the earth. The false hope and threat of the hereafter is encouraged by the princes and by the priests like Steve Cornell. Its principal use is mind control. Live a good life, and live it in the here and now. That much we know." I wonder if the writer's viewpoint will change moments after he dies. Then my favorite - the Sunday before Thanksgiving - defending the poor turkey. Here is part of what the writer had to say. "The 270 million turkeys killed in the U.S. each year have nothing to give thanks for. They breathe toxic fumes in crowded sheds. Their beaks and toes are severed. At the slaughter-house, workers cut their throats and dump them into boiling water, sometimes still conscious. Consumers, too, pay a heavy price. Turkey flesh is laced with cholesterol and saturated fats that elevate the risk of chronic killer diseases. Labels warn of food poisoning potential. This Thanksgiving, our dinner may include a "tofurky," lentil roast, mashed potatoes, corn stuffing, stuffed squash, chestnut soup, candied yams, cranberry sauce, pumpkin pie and carrot cake. An Internet search on vegan Thanksgiving and a visit to my local supermarket will provide me more recipes and delicious turkey alternatives than I can possibly use." I can't believe that the writer would actually eat all those products which were grown, ripped from the earth, scraped, stuffed into small packages, and finally boiled and cooked. Those poor plants were once alive. Oh well, I enjoyed my turkey at Thanksgiving and I hope that you did too. It was delicious. Sorry turkeys. Now maybe I am wrong about the letters. Maybe they should be continued. Often they are funnier than the comics! But I did learn a few lessons from last Sunday's letters. We must live life in the here and now because past history isn't really important and the future is only a matter of mind control, especially if you are a tortured turkey. And you are certainly wrong if you are a conservative, Christian, or liberal, in fact you are a mindless fool who can't have an opinion. But it really doesn't matter anyway since everything is all George Bush's fault, or maybe Michael Vick's fault. Oh yes, now I have all of that straightened out, at least until I read today's letters. I guess I'll go have some "tofurky" and lentil roast while I read them.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

In Everything Give Thanks

In the Bible we are told in everything to give thanks. That is often very hard and I admit that I have not always done that. Maybe today I should try to do a better job of following that instruction. But let me start from the beginning. As a student, I always enjoyed school. I was always very active. In high school I was class president, I was yearbook editor, I was in the band and chorus, and I was heavily involved in athletics. But I did live with a secret that I never shared with anyone. Though I was athletic, I could not do somersaults. I learned that fact in gym class as early as third grade. I just couldn't bend my neck and back enough to do it. I hated tumbling. I got sick when I knew we were going to do that in gym class and I found every excuse that I could to get out of it. In my mind I was sure that I was a failure - an athletic cripple. I lived with that fear even into college. Then in my middle twenties I began to have serious back and hip pain. There were days that I could barely get out of bed and at work I would avoid sitting because I wasn't sure if I would be able to get up and walk again. After treatments from my family doctor, I saw a specialist. He put me into the hospital the day before Christmas for an old-fashioned, painful myelogram. I was released late Christmas eve and we traveled to Sunbury through the snow while I was sick as a dog with a terrible headache. The diagnosis was that I had some arthritis. But when nothing was done to help with my hip and back pain I went to a rheumatologist. He measured my lung expansion and diagnosed me with ankylosing spondilitis, a condition where the spinal column fuses and you can not bend properly. It is a condition that can't be cured, although there are meds that sometime can help with the pain. I was told to watch my posture so that I wouldn't be bent over as my spine fused. Later in life I was also diagnosed with stenosis of the spine which also contributes to pain and loss of flexibility. Just recently it dawned on me that this is probably why I could not do somersaults. If only I had known that then, it would have relived the emotional stress that I quietly lived with. The good news is that in recent years the disease has appeared to have gone into remission and my spinal fusing doesn't appear to be getting any worse. I have learned to live with it and not complain. Most folks don't even know that I live with this pain. At times the pain is moderate and meds help. But there are times, like last week, when I am unable to take my daily walk. I also live with headaches that come from the spinal problems. I know my spine is fused because I have trouble bending over to pick things up and I have trouble getting into cars. I often have trouble standing straight until I can stretch out. I should not lift or push things, but I do, and then I often pay the price for having done that. But getting back to my original thought, I have never thanked the Lord for this disease and I can't say that I've ever prayed to be healed. That would really take a miracle. And I can't say that I know why God has allowed me to have this. But there are things that I can be thankful for. First, despite the pain and discomfort, I don't think I've ever missed a day of work because of the disease. My family did about 1,000 programs over the years in numerous churches, and I was always able to carry and set up the equipment. We never had to cancel a program. I am usually able to sleep, although there are nights when sitting on a heating pad is more comfortable. I have not experienced the eye problems that often come from this disease. And it appears that the fusing has stopped or at least slowed down. I'm also good at predicting the weather, maybe even better than the weathermen. And I don't need to do somersaults anymore. There are daily reminders that there are many worse things that could have happened to me and that many folks are in much worse shape than I am. And so today I need to thank the Lord for this condition and for the dependence on Him that I have learned. And I thank Him that despite the disease, He has allowed me to enjoy nearly 70 good years of life, with its many blessings. And I now know that I wasn't "crazy" when I was in school. That is a relief. God is so good. Is there something hard that you need to thank Him for? Better do it today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Come Walk With Me

For many years I have begun my day by walking for about 30 minutes at Park City, a local shopping center. It is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Before I retired, I just walked there Saturday mornings, but since retiring, I try to walk Monday through Saturday when we are at home. I don't know what it has done for me, but I keep doing it. However, every morning when I start walking I do ask myself why I am doing this. And by the time I finish, that question still is unanswered. I do have several regrets. First, I wish that I had recorded how far I've walked over the years. But maybe that would just make me feel even more exhausted. Another regret is that I've never become a "Park City Twalker" and actually met the many regulars that I have passed - or more correctly, that have passed me - over the years. There are so many regulars there and over the years many of them have come and gone. I often wander what happened to them. I suppose that at our age, many of them have passed away or have encountered health problems which prevent them from walking. I regularly see Sonny Social Studies. I am too embarrassed to ask him his name, but he is a retired Social Studies teacher from Hempfield who knows my name and waves to me when I see him. Then there is Barney Band Director who squares off his turns when he comes to a corner. You can't miss Curt Cut-Off who glides past you and then steps right in front of you. My carnal nature makes me want to lengthen my stride to step on the back of his foot when he does this. Then there used to be Wanda Wanderer who would wander all over the place, reading her newspaper as she walked. And of course you can't miss Barbara Backwards who always walks the wrong way, against traffic, usually with a friend who is chatting away. A Spanish duo, Lula and Lola, nearly sprint as they chat in Spanish at the same speed. Then there are Mr. and Mrs. Charles Chaplain, a friendly couple, who we have often seen listening to walkers share their problems. I admire Percy Persevere, who must be nearly 90 and uses a walker. He regularly shuffles along. Carey Cane is a younger man who limps along while carrying his cane. Then there is the Retired Female Teachers Club, a group of about a dozen retired elementary teachers that clog up the halls as they walk and talk as a group. Phillip PPL (he is retired from PPL) walks with his towel while his wife sits and waits with her walker. Frieda Friendly looks like a kindly grandmother as she moves quickly through the center. Sometimes her husband comes and sits and waits with his walker. And of course there is Wilbur Wings who wildly swings his arms to his left and his right as he speeds his way along. Watch out or you will get hit as he passes you. It is an interesting group. You will see all ages from mothers pushing baby carriages to those with walkers. Many languages are spoken. Various cultures and races are represented. So why don't you join us? Dianne and I would be glad to share the pain with you. However, one of the "sad" sights is Louie Lotto. He isn't a walker, but regularly he can be seen sitting in front of the tobacco store scraping off his stack of lotto cards. When he has a winning card, he goes back in, cashes it in, and buys some more. He must go through a dozen or more each morning. I wonder how much he actually wins. Now come to think of it, I haven't seen him in a few days. Maybe he hit it big! I don't know, maybe he is the smartest of all of us. While we kill ourselves walking, he might be making a killing in the lottery. I guess there is an alternative for retired people.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

You Can Rest Well Tonight

So are you concerned about our schools in Pennsylvania? Student achievement? Student behavior? Drugs? Violence? Salaries? Pension costs? Taxes? Well be assured, you can sleep soundly tonight with the understanding that our State Department of Education, our state legislators, and our governor are taking care of all of these serious issues. For example, our state Department of Education is about to approve a policy that would limit each classroom in the state to just one birthday party per month. Violators would risk the loss of state funds. Don't you feel so much better knowing that our state leaders are spending their time solving this serious issue? Now I know that birthday parties can be overdone, but is this serious enough for the state to deal with? Maybe it should be a local issue, if it is indeed a problem. Or maybe some health organization should suggest prepare some guidelines on nutrition to provide to parents. But should the state be threatening to withhold school subsidies because somebody has two birthday parties in a month? Maybe they'll also supervise this by having teachers fill out another form listing the dates and the food provided. After all, the teachers need one more state or federal form to complete. That paperwork is one of the things that helped me decide to retire. Then there is the pension crisis which threatens to skyrocket property taxes and change schools dramatically. This problem was created by the state legislators who now don't want to deal with the serious impact. But again, you can sleep easy tonight for they recently pushed through a bill to "solve" this problem. As I understand it, the new bill finds a way to put off the impact. This means our grandchildren and great grandchildren can deal with it and pay for it - after our legislators have retired with their fat pensions. And there is some reform of the pension plan built into the new law, but it only affects new hires. That means that new hires will be teaching until they are 65 - at highly inflated salaries since teachers continue to get 3% - 4% raises. So in 43 years the state will be faced with loads of old, tired, and expensive teachers. And while the pension plan rates will also be reduced, it will be 43 years until these rates kick in. This is what our state representatives think is a solution. Maybe they just had too many birthday parties when they were kids in school. Besides the fact that the state has no real leadership in education, state policies are generally political. And traditionally, they change when a new party comes into power. Oh yes, we just elected a republican governor - so more change is on the way. A number of years ago the state leadership wanted to have an honors test (politicians always want to increase testing) to recognize top students throughout the state. I guess things like the SAT couldn't do this. So they hired teams of teachers throughout the state (I was one of them) to develop test objectives and questions, Then a national testing firm was hired to put our questions into tests which were then field tested. After a few years of preparation and loads of money spent, the test was ready to go. Then a new governor was elected and years of work went into a file, never to be seen again. Fortunately, it isn't this way in all states. After I won my national award from President Reagan in 1984, I had contacts with top leaders from every state. I was really impressed with what was being done in some states and I was also embarrassed by what was happening in my home state. Unfortunately things have not changed. But relax. While some of our kids struggle with "readin, writin and rithmetic", you can be sure that while your taxes increase, the kids won't have too many birthday parties!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

May I Pray For You?

Last week a friend of ours told us that while he was in the food court at Park City, a group of young people came to him and asked if they could pray for him. He shared some needs with them and then they gathered around him, placed hands on him, and prayed for him. He appreciated this unusual experience, It reminded me of a story I had heard at Pinebrook this summer. The speaker - I think he was from Arkansas - said that a team of young people from his church went to New York City on a summer missions trip. He was puzzled about what a group of southern young people could do to really minister to hardened New Yorkers. What they did was to set up tables on street corners with signs that said, "May we pray for you?" He was stunned to hear how many folks stopped by with requests to be prayed for. They had lines of people and even folks in cars waiting at stop lights who asked to be prayed for. They didn't preach or give out tracts - they just prayed and they met the needs of the people. Very interesting. It goes to show just how needy folks really are and how lonely they are. It also goes to show how folks have a longing for someone who cares and for something, or should I say "Someone" who can fill that void in their life. Most of us underestimate the power of prayer and probably fail to experience all that God would have for us. And we often criticize or separate ourselves from those who are prayer warriors and those who believe such "strange things" as "God could heal that disease". After all, they might be charismatic or part of a cult. You know, different than us. So sad. Well today I had an unusual experience. We were in the check-out line at Walmart. Standing behind Dianne was a young man who noticed the diet drinks that we were purchasing. He joked with Dianne about the drinks and how we must really like Diet Snapple. Then he surprised her by asking her if I were diabetic. After she said that I was, he then asked what my first name was. When she told him, he then asked if she thought that I would care if he prayed for me. She said she was sure that I wouldn't mind. Then he said that this had never happened to him before, but the Lord told him that I was diabetic and that he should pray for me. When I assured him that I wouldn't mind, he placed his hand on mine and prayed for my healing while we stood at the check-out counter. Now I admit that I've never thought of asking God to take my diabetes away. I don't know why. Maybe I just haven't had enough faith to think that God would do it. But I know He could if it was His will. I was thrilled that someone I didn't even know, cared enough to pray for me and my physical disability. I admit that I do get upset when folks pass me and say "how are you?" and don't wait for an answer. They don't really want an answer and they really aren't interested in how I am. I thank God for this uplifting experience. Was I healed? Probably not, but time will tell. I pray that I was. Was I encouraged? Yes! Was I challenged to be more fervent in prayer for others? Without a doubt. I realize now more than ever how much lives can be touched when somebody really cares - especially the lives of those of us who live each day, with smiles on our faces, hiding the pains in our heart.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Here Comes The Judge!

Last week I completed my tenth turn as Judge of Elections for the Manor New East precinct. We had exactly 1,000 voters or about 51% of our registered voters participate. It is not an easy job. Each time I am required to attend a boring two-hour training session for which I receive $5. I spend Saturday and Sunday preparing the books, making signs, filling out forms and getting things ready. Monday I spend most of the day setting up equipment, signs, and tables. I must post all sorts of signs (3 copies of each) of federal rules - in Spanish and in English. Incidentally, in ten elections I have yet to see one person read these. But the law requires it to be done. On the day of election I get there at 6 am to get things ready, make sure the equipment is working, and to swear in my staff. (Notice that I said swear in, not swear at - I have an excellent staff!) My day ends about 10 pm, if I am fortunate, when I transport the results and ballots to the election collection office. Wednesday is devoted to cleaning up and returning keys. During these ten elections I have learned how to complete and use envelopes lettered from A to K, how to handle absentee ballots and provisional ballots, how to assist the handicapped, how to complete affirmation of voter forms, how to handle folks who aren't in our books or have come to the wrong location, how to work with poll watchers, and how to handle many other problems that I never wanted to handle. Now you might not think that 39 years of teaching would be good preparation for the life as a Judge of Elections. But I think it does. First, because teachers must waste precious hours filling out forms. But, more importantly, once you've taught kids who don't listen and can't follow directions, you anticipate that as adults they really won't change too much. And they don't! I spent election day watching folks ignore the signs, often entering the rear exit and leaving the front entrance. And I don't expect them to obey the signs which say wait here for your turn or take your ballot to this location to be scanned. And then there are the signs which say turn off your cell phones. But you hear them ringing and you hear people chatting on them while they are in the voting booths. Maybe next time I'll get mean and actually confiscate their cell phones. Maybe I could give them detention for disobeying the rules - oh that is right, I'm not in school anymore. And, of course, there are those who vote for more candidates than permitted or can't fill in the little blocks properly. One man even tried to scan his ballot before he filled it in. Oh yes, I've also learned how to handle spoiled ballots - there is a separate envelope for those. This year one of the parties sent out information with the wrong voting location on it, even though we've been here for five elections. Fortunately, that didn't create too much of a problem, but many were confused about where to go - at least those who actually read the information. Again there were some who complained that we had changed from the location from where they used to vote - about twelve elections ago - where have they been? And of course there are those who tell us I must change the ballot because it includes Spanish and that offends them. Maybe I should petition the national government to change the law. But I guess I am an easy person to blame - that's why I make so much money doing this. And then there is the local television station which showed how to vote on the machines in Lancaster County, but at the end they showed a tape on the printer and said that folks would get this as a receipt. That is wrong. The receipt is on the end of the ballot. And guess what? One voter tore off the "zero tape" on the printer, claiming that was his receipt. Another was upset that her vote wouldn't count since we didn't give her something from the printer and WGAL-TV said that she would get that. And why should they believe me? I'm just a puppet of the system not a reliable news reporter. Then there are the dozen or more voters who show up and are not in the books because they got married or moved. They all claim to have requested the changes, but they've not been made. One was married ten years ago. Now did they request the change or did the registration office make the mistake? Who knows, everyone tells the truth, right? Oh well, that is why we get the "big bucks" to deal with mistakes made by others. But one of the "best" incidents came when a gentleman actually dismantled one of our voting booths since he didn't realize that you just had to walk around to the back of it to use it. That was a first in my ten experiences and I am sure that there will be many more "firsts" in future elections, if I survive to continue as Judge. Thirteen straight hours of dealing with the public can be very long. As my grandson says after his dealings with the public, "People are idiots". Actually the idiots are the 49% who stayed home and the many more who didn't even register. Despite my experiences, we can be proud of our system here in this country. Decisions can still be made by the public and not by dictators or revolutions and we can freely and privately vote our preferences without fear for our lives or of retaliation. That is why I am still willing to give of my time to serve. (Although it would be nice sometime to have a voter say "thank you" or "you do a good job". But that isn't human nature.)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank You!

Today is a very special day - Veterans Day. This is a day when we should pause to remember those who have given their lives to win and protect our freedoms. it is sad, however, that few today take time to say "thank you" or to honor those who have served. For some itoday is just another vacation day while for many others it is just a day like all others. Last week at our November Pinebrook hymn sing we took time to honor our veterans. We sang patriotic songs. We gave World War II veterans a free meal and all other veterans a meal at half price. We gave them all a chance to share how they had served our country. And we had a special speaker, Robert Kauffman (no relation to me), share some of his difficult experiences as a teenage soldier in World War II. It is incredible to hear what he and thousands of others endured to stop Hitler. And even today, thousands of our young men and women continue to risk their lives in the battle against evil. And to them I say, thank you! May God be with you and protect you. A fitting tribute to all veterans was recently ound on YouTube and was shared at our hymn sing. Please take time to go to this link - TRIBUTE - and watch this touching video.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Gone Too Soon

We had just moved from Sunbury to Silver Springs, in Lancaster County, in August of 1963 when Craig became very ill. He was just four months old. We didn't have a doctor here yet and somebody recommended Dr. Richard Bryson in Landisville. We got an appointment and as soon as Dr. Bryson saw Craig, he sent us to the hospital and contacted a surgeon to meet us there. Within a few hours, Craig was on the operating table with a condition called intussusception a condition in which a part of the intestine has invaginated into another section of intestine. Thankfully it was caught in time and the surgeon was able to repair the intestine and save Craig's life. This condition is very rare, especially in a young baby and most doctors never have such a case. Dr. Bryson had only ever seen one such case before, in his own daughter. We thank God for the miracle of sending us to him. We loved Dr. Bryson who was a caring old-time doctor and we went to him for many years until he retired. A young doctor took over his practice but a few years later he left the practice. However, before he left, he picked out doctors for each of his patients. He suggested that we see Dr. Robert Stengel, another young doctor who practiced alone in Lancaster. We actually interviewed Dr. Stengel and then decided to make him our family doctor. And for many years he took care of us. Then one Monday, after we returned from a weekend at Pinebrook, Dianne called for an appointment. The nurses tearfully told us that on Friday Dr. Stengel closed his practice very suddenly. He had been running a fever and took blood tests of himself and when the results came back on Friday, he realized that he had a very aggressive form of leukemia. He knew that he needed immediate treatment. So while he began years of treatment, we switched to Oyster Point Family Practice where we have appreciated the work of the group of doctors there. Then, a few years ago, we were surprised when Dr. Stengel was added to their staff. He was in remission and came back to work. To support him and raise funds for cancer research, the employees there formed "Bob's Squad". Regularly they had fund raisers and participated in cancer walks. Everybody loved Dr. Stengel, a kind doctor with a compassionate heart. Several times during the past few years he would have to take a leave of absence to return for more treatment as the cancer would return. A few months ago I had a minor issue that I needed to have treated before we left for a week at Pinebrook. I was able to get the last Saturday appointment, and the doctor on duty was Dr. Stengel. When I asked how he was, he told me that this was his last day and that he had to return for more treatment. He was happy that he was able to secure one of the best specialists in the field to take over his case. I felt so bad. Here I was, his last patient, with just a minor issue, while he was facing a return to battle this terrible disease. We hadn't heard anything recently about him, so when I was at Oyster Point last Thursday, during my treatment, I asked how he was doing. I was confidentially told that they had just received word that he had passed away that morning. At 51 years of age, with three children, he had lost his final battle. Monday the practice closed because of his funeral. He will be missed by many. Even though he was no longer our regular doctor, he always said "hi" to us when we saw him at Oyster Point. We will miss his cheerful smile and laugh. Another good guy gone just too soon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Challenging Weekend

It has been a good - although emotionally challenging - weekend. After returning from a great hymn sing at Pinebrook on Friday, November 5, my son and grandson surprised us with a visit that night. That was short, but so nice! The older you get, the more you appreciate such visits from family members. Then on Saturday, November 6, we went to Penn State to watch an exciting football game. We also stopped to visit Dianne's sister in Lewistown. Now you may ask, "Why was that an emotionally challenging weekend?" Well, 17 years ago we had a similar weekend. On Friday, November 5, we went to visit my mother on her birthday. She really appreciated our visit, as we did as well. Then on Saturday, November 6, we went to Penn State to watch an exciting football game. On the way home we stopped to visit Dianne's parents. While we were there we received a call that would change our lives. We were told that a teenager had hit my parents' car, and my mother was killed instantly and my father was in the hospital. So this history was in our minds as for the first time since then we duplicated these activities on the very same dates that tragedy struck 17 years ago. The years have eased the pain and shock, and I know my mother is better off in heaven. But I still miss her. I would love to call her again or visit her and share what is happening in my life. I wish she had been able to know all her great -grandchildren. She would have loved them. She only had the joy of knowing our oldest grandson. My daughter-in-law was pregnant with our second grandson when she died. A few weeks ago her youngest great-grandson was dedicated at church and it brought tears to my eyes to think of how thrilled she would have been to see that. I wonder if the Lord somehow allowed her to enjoy that special event in heaven. But time passes on. She is gone. Dad is now gone. Our homestead is now gone. But we have the hope of being with them again. There are so many lessons that I learned from her sudden death. One of those is that we shouldn't put off until tomorrow spending quality time with our loved ones - tomorrow may never come. We are so thrilled that we took time to spend with her on her birthday, the day before she died, not knowing that this would be the last time - the last hug - the last kiss. But God is good and He knows ALL of our steps - our today's and our tomorrow's. So let me close by encouraging you to call a loved one today, or better yet, visit. Don't wait for tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Special "Grosse" Day

Last Friday we had to travel to the Sunbury area to deal with some business following the recent death of my wife's stepmother. We had some extra time so my wife suggested that we stop at Susquehanna University and visit the bookstore. I have such great memories of the four years that I spent there, almost a half-century ago. It is still a very beautiful campus. I didn't find anything at the bookstore that I needed - I have more than enough shirts and sweatshirts, although none are from SU. Then we decided to walk through some of the buildings where I had classes. I saw two of the three dormitories that I had stayed in. One was brand new when I was a proctor there. One is now administration offices. The other burnt to the ground many years ago. As a physics and math major, most of my classes were held in Steele Science Building. That has been completely remodeled, but my physics classroom had the same walls and that brought back good memories. The classroom where I had math was turned into offices and I missed the view of the beautiful mountains that drew my attention many times during class. Then it was off to see the brand new science building. It is huge and amazing - computers are everywhere. It is incredible. Finally we decided to see if my old physics prof was still there. Dr. Fred Grosse is an amazing man. He came to SU in 1960 and we were the first class of physics majors who had him for all of our classes. He has now been there 51 years, one third of the time that SU has existed. Grosse was instrumental in bringing computers to Susquehanna and teaching students how to use them. He also coached tennis and became known for riding his bicycle to campus regardless of the weather conditions. And he has become a legend for a number of other things. The chapel was built the fifth year he was there. When they wanted to put the steeple on it, they brought in a crane to reach over the big roof of the lower chapel. He had his physics class calculate whether the crane, knowing the weight of the steeple, could reach over and set it down. They found that it couldn't, and sure enough, when they tried to set it down, it started tilting. They finally had to use a helicopter to get it on there, and the whole campus was there to watch. The kids figured out what to do with the crane. The next day when they arrived on campus, the crane had 150 brassieres strung from the top of it. Anyway, when we found his office last Friday he wasn't there and I began to write a note for him. While I was doing this, he walked in. He hardly looked older than when he was my teacher 51 years ago. And surprise, he remembered my name and my association with the basketball and football teams while I was at SU. Now I tend only to remember those students who were exceptional students or those who were problems. So I was surprised that he remembered me. I did, however, earn all A's in my physics classes but I wasn't exceptional. Maybe he remembered me because he felt sympathy for a struggling student and gave me breaks in my grade. I just don't know. He did help me realize that engineering really wasn't for me. I really enjoyed spending a few minutes with him and talking about times that were very special in my life. Then he shared a "secret" with me. He has decided to return for one more year because he has been told that there are some exceptional underclassmen heading to his classes. I can't imagine teaching 52 years, but his time there has been extended by the fact that he loves teaching, loves students, and he gave up all his administrative duties years ago. If I had done that and if I could have taught on the college level, maybe I would have made more than the 39 years I put in. But then I would have missed all the exciting things that fill my life now. Thank you Dr. Grosse for good memories.