Thank You, Little Red Car!!!!!!!!!!

I have had a lot of bad habits over the years and yes some of them are still with me.  Without a doubt the longest running of those habits, I drive too fast.  I started driving legally in 1958; I think when the license examiner got out of the car I exceeded the speed limit on my way home.  Probably 90% of the miles I have driven have been above the speed limit; I have paid a lot of fines and could paper a wall with warning tickets.  I can truthfully say I never got a ticket I didn’t deserve, and I never complained; to use an old cliché’ “If you’re going to dance you got to pay the fiddler”.

Sometimes you get lucky and get behind another speeder or to use an old CB radio term pickup a “front door”, he takes the risk.  Most of the time I am the front door probably because I’m too picky to use one, I have to do it my way.

I came to the lake today, not to get away from the heat it is a hundred and something here too; I just needed to look at some different walls.  Just outside Seminole, don’t ask about Norman to Seminole, they really need to make that four lane; but as I was leaving Seminole there was a little red car in front of me with a few cars in front of it. My first thought was “this may be a long trip” The little red car passes when he should and I pass when I can.  I soon realize that this guy or gal knows how to drive and I am blessed with a good “front door”, we drive 80 to 90 when it is safe and don’t take goofy chances, I didn’t tailgate but I didn’t need to be concerned with anything but following the little red car.  I enjoyed the drive, just relaxed and gathered my thoughts.

I followed the little red car to within about 10 miles of my destination, I started to follow him when he turned to say thanks and compliment him or her on their driving ability, but I don’t think they even knew I was there, that is one of the unwritten rules when using a front door, be polite and discreet.

If it were 40 yeas ago in the CB radio heyday I might have said something like “Thanks for the front door good buddy. You keep the shiny side up and the dirty side down and maybe we’ll catch you on the turnaround.”

I said I was going to try to write more about what I’m doing and less about how I’m doing.  Just a note on how I’m doing, I was probably a little optimistic last Sunday, things didn’t stay quite that good, but hey two steps forward and slide back one is still progress.

Please continue to keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

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Willpower….Procrastination….Emotion….

Today is Sunday July 22nd; it has been exactly 6 months since Sharyl’s death, Sunday January 22nd.  It seems like yesterday, it seems like a long time ago.  I had never noticed and it is certainly insignificant but on leap year, January and July calendars are identical.

I think because of the 6-month anniversary, I have had an emotional and somewhat unusual week.  I’m not talented enough to put that emotion into words even if I understood all of it; and I really think it is too personal to share.

During the latter stages of Sharyl’s illness, to pass some time on sleepless nights I would dwell on things I needed or wanted to do.  Three recurring things were: lose some weight, get the yard back up to our specifications and enjoy some time at the lake. For about the first four months I really didn’t care how I looked or how the place looked and I didn’t have fun if I went to the lake.

Stress seems to affect the appetite to one extreme or the other; during the very early stages of our battle I lost 10 or 15 lbs. I then went the other way and started feed this stress thing; I gained the 15 back plus another 25 or so. I haven’t gained any the last 6 months but I haven’t lost any, meaning I am still 30 to 50 pounds overweight.  There are many weight loss programs out there; the primary ingredient in all of them is willpower.  I have gathered my willpower and made up my mind to lose some weight.  My approach is to eat a little smarter and in moderation (no more Bluebell Homemade Vanilla as a bedtime snack) and get more exercise.  The “hope for” goal is 40 to 50 pounds the “realistic” goal 25 to 30, I don’t have a timetable just as long as the trend is down.

Where I live is not an eyesore, I’m not in trouble with the Homeowners association, but it does need some attention. I have always been a procrastinator, in my personal and professional lives, Sharyl was the complete opposite, I overlooked her inability to put things off and she didn’t make a major issue of my procrastination. I guess that is some of the give and take stuff that makes a marriage work.  I am now very anxious to get started catching up a three or four year backlog.  The problem is I put things off until it got too dry to burn the stuff that has accumulated and the instructions with my chainsaw clearly state that it is not to be started if the temperature is above 80 degrees or maybe that’s just my rule. The yard is at the top of the priority list and weather is the holdup not procrastination.

I have not spent more than two consecutive nights at he lake but it is getting easier and I am ready to try and enjoy some time there.

I probably shouldn’t but I’m going to share some thoughts on this thing called emotion.  Emotional pain, similar to physical pain comes in different forms and varying degrees of intensity; some of the physical stuff limits the ability to function, an ankle sprain or hamstring pull; if the pain is a chronic headache the body functions are still there it just hurts.

I will probably always have the deep and severe emotional pain caused by the two holes in my heart, one of them put there January 22nd the other March 2nd and yes I know there are two holes, not just one big one because there are two distinctly different types of pain.  I kind of compare this to the headache; it isn’t really visible it just hurts.

The other emotional pain I have suffered is the external highly visible stuff, that is evident when I try to converse with people, the kind that cuts a lake trip short because of the memories, the kind that is responsible for a lot of the tear stains on this old keyboard, and the list goes on.  I mentioned earlier it has been an unusual week. I think I may have crossed a threshold and put some of that type pain behind me, the past two days have been different than any I have previously experienced, I only hope it isn’t temporary.

If I weren’t an old hardheaded “do it yourselfer” some professional grief counseling might have gotten me to this point sooner, or maybe not.  I have spent a lot of time with the master or divine or supreme counselor during these past six months, he is available 24/7 and you never need an appointment.

To Sharyl and Conner. Yes the pain has eased a bit, but I still love you guys with all my heart and I miss you every day.

Maybe I can start to write a little more about “what” I’m doing and a little less about “how” I’m doing.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

A Compulsive Analyst…….

It is a hot dry summer day in 1953; I’m stranded at home on top of a dusty hill in south Pott. County.  My bicycle is broke again, the same problem twice-in 3 days. You would think a used ten-dollar J.C. Higgins (Sears store brand) would give better service.

When it broke I didn’t get a new one, or take it to the repair shop, I fixed it.  My dad was an old “shade tree” mechanic, he didn’t believe in repair shops, and he didn’t work on bikes.  He did let me use his tools; I learned very quickly to put them back where I got them; dad was pretty easy going but you better not leave his tools laying around.

In order to fix it I had to figure out what was broke, or analyze the problem, if it broke again the same way I did a more in depth analysis to not only find what broke but why it broke.  Yeah I know I’m talking about a kid and a bicycle and the scene in the first paragraph is hypothetical, but very typical of my cycling days.

This break it, analyze it, fix it cycle continued as I graduated from bikes to cars, and dad would offer an occasional hand or at least some instruction with the cars. Because I did it doesn’t mean I was good at it, so don’t get the impression I am bragging about my mechanical or analytical skills.

I grew to enjoy the analysis phase more than the fix it phase, in fact over the years I have analyzed things that weren’t broken and wouldn’t have been my responsibility to fix if they were broken.  I did it just to kind of figure out or understand what made them work. I did it because I like to.  I guess you could say I became a compulsive analyst, I wasn’t happy unless I was figuring out how some mechanical or electronic device worked.

For much of my working career analyzing and resolving problems was a big part of my job so I guess it is good that I enjoy that sort of thing.  For a few years my official job title was “Logistics Analyst”, that made me happy.  I will brag a little, when I was getting paid to analyze I probably wasn’t the best at what I did but I was pretty good.

In addition to the devices I also spent a lot (probably too much) time analyzing people; I didn’t get paid to do this and I have no idea if I was good at it; I probably wasn’t.  I just enjoyed trying to figure out what made them tick.  I don’t do this with close friends or family I usually kind of know what makes them tick.  I would pick out someone in a social setting or more likely someone in a business meeting and study the way they dressed their speech and overall mannerisms and form an opinion as to what made them go around.  There was absolutely no tangible benefit but it was fun and helped me through a lot of dull meetings.

The three years after retirement I didn’t realize it at the time but I fed my analysis habit trying to understand this vicious thing called cancer.  I won’t revisit that I will just say I still don’t understand it and I’m sorry I couldn’t fix it.  I Love you babe and miss you every day.

The past six months I haven’t been in any business meetings, I don’t have a bicycle and the cars are much more reliable than those in my past.  I have spent a lot of time home alone about the only thing here that I don’t understand is the guy that looks back at me when I look in the mirror.  I have spent a lot of time analyzing that guy and the life he lives.  Through that in depth analysis I have decided I need to quit analyzing his life and just let him go live it.  That will be difficult for a lifelong compulsive analyst but I’m going to give it my best shot.

Please continue to remember me in prayer.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave

Love Those Bee Jays!!!!!!!!!!

Every year since 1955, 25 guys have accepted an invitation to spend the summer in Liberal Kansas.  They don’t come to enjoy the cool mountain air or crystal clear mountain streams. They don’t come to frolic in the surf.  They come to play the game they love, to play baseball for the Liberal Bee Jays.  They come to get better and to get noticed.

Liberal has a population of about 20,000 people and is located a stones throw from the Oklahoma panhandle and about an hour away from the flat lands of southeast Colorado.  The summer temperatures are extreme, the wind always blows and it is a long way between shade trees.

Bee Jays baseball is a big thing in Liberal, big enough that every year since 1955, 25 households have volunteered to serve as a host family. They do it because they love their Bee Jays.  Crowd size at games ranges from a normal few hundred to a few thousand for special games, and they don’t come to sit on their hands, they enthusiastically cheer the Bee Jays to victory or we’ll get them tomorrow.

They play National Baseball Congress (NBC) approved baseball in the Jayhawk Conference.  All the guys are college players, some from major college programs, some from obscure Jr. college programs.  One of this year’s Bee Jays got there late because he was helping the Arizona Wildcats win the College World Series.  While they are in Liberal, it makes no difference where they are from, they proudly wear the powder blue and red, and they are Bee Jays.

I won’t bore you with stats but 165 former Bee Jays have played major league baseball.  Mike Hargrove was there in 1972, Ian Kinsler in 2001.  When Mike Hargrove resigned as a major league manager in ’07 he came back to Liberal and managed the Bee Jays for a couple years.

At season’s end the players may leave Liberal but they will always be a part of the hosts’ families and will always be Bee Jays.

I looked at a little bit of interstate and a lot of two-lane asphalt since my last visit with you.  I took the long way to Liberal; I watched a couple ballgames and met more than a couple very nice people. You wouldn’t know it from reading what I write but I am a little bit shy and reluctant to initiate conversation with people I have never met.  I didn’t need to initiate contact in Liberal; in the first half hour I was at the ballpark numerous people approached me. They introduced themselves and made me feel very comfortable.  Cale’s host had me in their home for dinner.  Much like the players I will always be a fan of the Bee Jays.

Cale has committed to attend school and play baseball for the West Virginia Mountaineers next year.  He has returned home to spend some time with his family and to prepare for the move to Morgantown, but he will always remember his time as a Bee Jay and could return to Liberal next summer.

I got home Monday and the road of life has been bumpy the past couple days.  I think it is because of the holiday, I’ve learned to expect them to be a little tough, next week will probably be better.

Please keep me in your prayers.

Good Night and God Bless.

Dave