Friday, December 31, 2010

The Duke and the Dude

Slept in - again. I am truly liking that.

Eric and I went to see True Grit. Glad I saw it - I had somehow expected more. It was good - but I do not think it was the Coen brothers' best - at least it is not my favorite among their work.

Hailee Steinfeld was outstanding. Jeff Bridges is a better actor than John Wayne; but for this role I prefer the Duke to the Dude. Matt Damon was quite good. It seemed like some of the supporting players were almost trying to channel those who appeared in the original - particularly in terms of their voices and speaking patterns. There was some amazing scenery. A good way to spend part of an afternoon, but not a keeper - at least until I find it used and cheap somewhere.

Shopping followed. Eric and I went to Aldi to pick up supplies for Sunday's football game: Steelers v. Browns. The VanRoosDales and Francis and family will be coming over.

Then to dinner at Battiste & Dupree Cajun Grill. Quite good. We consumed a lot of shrimp between the three of us. I can't find a Web page to give them a shout out, but they are on Warrensville Center in South Euclid - 1992 Warrensville Center Rd.

Eric then headed to Solon to bring in 2011 with the cousins. Tricia and I are watching football. I am reading Fanny Kemble's Civil Wars. Pretty good.

Tomorrow brings lots of football - and games that I actually care about as opposed to games for the sake of watching football.

All in all, a good day. No wild critters spotted in the back yard, but a good day.

See you along the trail.

A failed, unimportant, quest

Slept in again. That is getting to be a habit. I am getting to like that habit. Of course I stay awake until two or three in the morning. This will all have to change.

Upon rising, I did some email follow-up related to EAPPI, Red Hands, and transferring my membership to the Presbytery of New York.

The animals of the day were deer. Three doe showed up in our back yard (although Tricia was awake early enough to see turkeys again. The doe stayed there a long time, settling in for what appeared to be a nice rest.

Watched a variety of football - no one game in its entirety but saw bits and pieces of Army beating SMU, North Carolina beating Tennessee, and Syracuse beating Kansas State. Now watching Washington and Nebraska. They had played once before this season. Tonight is a different story, at least so far.

Went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It seemed good enough but those who know the book did not like it. I can see their point - the movie not only changed things, it watered things down quite a bit. Not sure if we will go see other movies made from the Chronicles of Narnia.

After the movie went to dinner at Tommy's - always a treat.

Scrabble again closed the evening with Tricia winning one and Eric winning one and me losing both.

The day also saw a failed quest. Of course it was a completely unimportant, inconsequential quest. I have had a yen for the last several weeks for Wedding Cake cookies by Archway. True, they are not great cookies - crunch shortbread, some nuts, a ton of powdered sugar. But I have always liked them - and I have not been able to find them this year - at least not in Louisville. I went to three different grocery stores in Cleveland Heights and South Euclid and came away empty. Oh well. Some day. Some where. I will find them again.

See you along the trail.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A potpourri day

Did several little things today:

Some work on advocacy related to child soldiers - preparing to send Red Hands to missions at the United Nations urging them to have their respective governments ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Involvement of Children in armed conflict.

Met with Francis and Isaac on the Dougbe River Presbyterian School of Liberia project. It is heartwarming to see this come together.

Took a load of books to the Half-Price Bookstore.

Got my hairs cut - at least the few that are left on my head and the many that are part of my beard.

Watched football (bowls) and basketball (Duke).

Called a potential musician for the prayer service on Sudan.

Watched The Untouchables while working on the child soldiers project.

Wrote thank-you cards.

Sean got to Madison last night and Eric went to Solon overnight and came back today.

Tomorrow - movies? And what else the day might bring.

Whatever that may be, see you along the trail.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Games played; games watched

Today was a games day - once everyone woke up.

We played Scrabble - Sean designed an Excel spreadsheet score card. Pretty cool.

Eric continued to win - I may have picked up one.

Sean left for CLE to return to Madison. I haven't checked his schedule but I assume he is there by now. Eric went to Solon to hang with his cousins. They enjoy doing that.

This led to me watching football. NC State beat WVU - thought the Mountaineers might do better. The Vikings upset the Eagles - did not see that one coming. Iowa and Missouri are now playing - Iowa has the lead which is a surprise - but good for those who once lived in Diagonal.

Slipped some work in between Sean leaving and football beginning. During commercials and long half-time shows, I watched a fair hunk of the second and third Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

Tomorrow - another day to sleep in - another day to do some work.

See you along the trail.

And Nixon wept

Played Trivial Pursuit with the family and Jeff, Carol, and Heather Phillips. It is an annual tradition. Drew had to work and missed this year.

A couple of things stood out:

Early on there was a question that essentially asked "Who said, 'Henry, don't ever tell them that I was weak and that I cried?'" It wasn't my team's question but for some reason, I knew the answer. From that point on, whenever an absurd statement was needed, the obvious response was "And Nixon wept."

At one point in the 90s edition, Heather went on an absolute tear. She must have answered a dozen or more questions in a row. It was pretty awesome. The performance of the night.

Too much food was consumed, but there was great fun and much laughter. Until next year!

See you along the trail.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lazy day

Slept in today. I knew I would after last night's marathon Scrabble playing with the family. Two games. Four players. Eric won one. I won one. But they were both close (my win was even closer) and they were tautly played - keeping us awake until about 2:00 a.m. It's a Wonderful Life was on in the background as we played.

I had promised some folks that I would see them after church, but I simply knew there was no way I would get up. And I did not. I will try to call tomorrow and see about making it up to them.

I had a fairly significant (and nice) gift to return - because I had already purchased the item. Our conversation over the Scrabble board focused on what we should do with the return. The decision was made to purchase an HDTV for downstairs in Cleveland. Conspicuous consumption in anticipation of football watching. We would cobble together the return plus a couple of gift cards to come up with the needed funds.

Eric made it up for church at Noble Road. I got up about 11:15 or so. Sean was already up and we decided to visit Best Buy and get a TV, hoping to accomplish the task before the Browns game. Traffic proved surprisingly light and the crowd at the store quite manageable. The desired TV was sold out, but we found an alternative. It was purchased - some work needs to be done to activate one of the gift cards - the return trip was uneventful. Sean and I got the TV put up and attached to the cable in time for the second or third play of the Browns game. I rooted for the Browns as their winning would have been in the Steelers' best interest. Their losing, which is what happened, was not.

Sean headed off for a party with friends; Tricia took a nap. Eric and I watched the Packers crush the Giants and the Cavaliers lose a tough one. Bummer.

The TV should get quite a workout this week with all the football. Then, probably not so much until Sean, Eric, or I return.

See you along the trail.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Day 2010

After we opened presents at our home, we made our usual trek was made to Solon to celebrate with much of my family. A great deal of overeating and laughing was done.

Fun to watch the cousins interact. They have always gotten along well -but they seem to be getting even closer as they grow.

Gifts this year included pictures of our dog Charley created by Tricia's brother - Woody Dykers. They are wonderful!

Christmas Eve Services 2010

A bit behind here.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the 7:00 p.m. service at Noble Road Presbyterian Church - a laid-back service of readings and carols.

At 11:00 p.m. we went to the service at Forest Hill Church, Presbyterian - a service of good music that included a sermon.

In between we watched A Christmas Carol starring George C. Scott. There are many good versions of that story - lots of folk prefer the Reginald Owens version - there is also one with Mr. Magoo. Discussions were held about the pudding made by Mrs. Cratchit. No decisions were reached.

Hope you had a blessed Christmas eve.

See you along the trail.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve 2010 Cleveland Heights

Seen in our back yard around 11:00 a.m., December 24, 2010.

Is Santa using new transportation this year?

One of my favorite Christmas songs

Christmas carols come in a variety of forms.

John McCutcheon has written one of my favorites.

Check out the lyrics to Christmas in the Trenches.

Thursday, December 23, 2010


Along with the usual preparations to celebrate Christmas, today brings preparations for viewing theatrical movies.

A Harry Potter marathon will come to a close with HP 6 up for viewing shortly. At the moment, the original True Grit is on. I remember seeing it on a Boy Scout trip to Philmont - think it was on a military base. We drove from Grove City on a bus and stayed at a couple bases on the way. Interesting trip.

This afternoon - Harry Potter 7.1 or 7A or 6.5 or whatever the right numbering is.

Tonight - the Steelers at the Winking Lizard - several steps up in terms of food from Buffalo Wild Wings.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Toward the end of an era

It has been almost two months since my last post. Numerous trips between the Shire East and the Shire West have occurred.

I have been at the Shire West since December 8. There were meetings - a wonderful celebration (including a fair imitation of lembas) led by my colleagues in the Peacemaking Program (Tricia and I made the run to Costco to buy many of the other supplies) - a great dinner at Havana Rumba with good friends - a football game won and a football game lost.

Mostly there has been transition - pretty relentless transition - working to prepare the Shire West to go on the market. Home repair is no where near the top of my list of either things I enjoy or things I do well - even when my primary role (well, pretty much my only role) is writing checks or making runs to Home Depot.

It is made more than a tad bittersweet because this marks the end of an era.

Tonight's movie - 3 Godfathers - John Wayne does Christmas.

Tomorrow - Cleveland.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Name

I am sure that everyone has been anxiously awaiting this news.

Following some valuable and valued input; following the testing and weighing of several possibilities; following deep thought and careful reflection, I have decided for a name for my new abode.

At times this seemed a difficult decision. One that might not ever be made.

But then, suddenly, things crystallized. It became clear that for all the good options, for all the creative possibilities, there is only one choice. As clarity snapped into focus, peace descended.

And now it can be revealed. The name, the only possible name for the new abode is:

The Shire

There is a practical reason that this is the only name. I have realized that it is the name I am going to call where I live. Whatever other name I might try to apply to the place, I will call it the Shire. I have already found myself doing that. Why fight it? It is what is.

But there is another deeper reason - as I have worked through the naming process and reached this conclusion, I have realized that the Shire may be a place, but it is also a way of being - an attitude - an understanding - an ethos - a vision and practice of living. In affirmation of that reality, I proclaim my new place:

The Shire

While there remain two primary abodes for the Shire (Louisville and Manhattan), I will try to distinguish between them in writings to help people know where I am. Of course my practical side immediately tells me that I will not succeed at that. So be it. That is part of the reality of being a resident of:

The Shire.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Tricia arrived in New York today for a variety of work-related events. They start tomorrow. This was a day to explore.

While waiting for her, I made my way to the dry cleaner and managed to figure out a way to identify which key opens which lock.

When she arrived, we walked to lunch at Ajanta - good stuff, definitely a place to return.

An effort to visit Riverside Park failed when the entrance that we selected was closed. We did see the Hudson from a distance and New Jersey from an even greater distance.

Our explorations then took us north to visit Fairway Market. Quite an experience - even though they exploit octopi.

While wandering, we connected with a friend of Tricia's brother. He was doing a music show at the Atria Senior Living Community. We went and checked that out. He took us to dinner at Hampton Chutney - we ate dosa (light crispy, sour-dough crepe made from rice) for the first time. Another keeper.

The evening was gorgeous so we walked up Broadway from 83rd to La Salle.

Oh yeah, I bought a large screen LCD TV in there too.

A good day. With 22,217 steps - even though I did not get to the gym.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Trick-or-Treat for UNICFE

Another one originally posted on Swords into Plowshares:

Presbyterian United Nations Ministry

IMG_0822 It has been a long time since I have attended a Halloween party.

I did so tonight, joining nearly 200 adults and children to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

This program began in Philadelphia, the idea of Presbyterians Clyde and Mary Emma Allison who wondered "Why can't kids collect food for starving children?"

In the sixty years since those orange cartons (decorated milk cartons were first used) have been used by children and adults to raise almost $160 million dollars.

Those funds are used by UNICEF to provide food, medicine, and education to help children thrive.

Monroe Allison, his wife Dianna, and UNICEF Jenny (all shown in the picture) attended the event to be recognized for his parent's vision. Monroe attended the 219th General Assembly (2010) where UNICEF gave thanks for the role of his parents and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in creating and promoting Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF.

By participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, Presbyterians serve in the global neighborhood as disciples of Jesus who calls us to love one another.

What are you doing this Halloween?

The Office of Child Advocacy provides a bulletin insert on Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF in color and in black and white.

Download Trick or Treaf for UNICEF story about the Allisons and the origins.

Find the resources needed to Trick or Treat for UNICEF.

Looking forward to the return

I have not been posting as often as I hoped. I am still fighting with a cold.

Here's one that I originally posted over on Swords into Plowshares:

There are two broad foci to the mission of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations:
  • Inspiring and equipping Presbyterians to live as disciples of Jesus in the global neighborhood
  • Bearing witness for peace and justice in the community of the United Nations, based on policy statements of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Of course these foci are essentially and inextricably intertwined as events today affirmed.

Wellshire Seminar October 14, 2010 001 A group of about twelve Presbyterians from Wellshire Presbyterian Church in Denver, Colorado visited the office this morning. They were the first group of Presbyterian visitors that I had the privilege and joy to host.

As the Presbyterians from Denver gathered in our large conference room, a delegation of church leaders from Sudan met in our small conference room. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations helped with their visit based on long-standing Presbyterian involvement with our Sudanese sisters and brothers in Christ and on many statements of the General Assembly calling Presbyterians to work for and pray for a just peace in Sudan.

The Rev. Ramadan Chan, Secretary General of the Sudan Council of Churches, graciously agreed to speak with the Wellshire group.

He shared about the concerns that he and his colleagues share for their beloved country and the impending referendum in southern Sudan. He reiterated their view that violence and war might break out but it is not inevitable - that peace is possible if the nations of the world act swiftly and decisively to support peace and a fair and transparent referendum.

The Rev. Chan explained that he and the other church leaders from Sudan had two primary purposes for their visit. The first is to sound the alarm. They have done that in London with leaders of the United Kingdom. They are doing that in New York with the international community through meetings with Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon, national missions at the United Nations, and international organizations and programs. They will do that in Washington, DC next week with leaders of the United States.

Their second purpose is to meet sisters and brothers in the churches of the United States - so we will know their story - we will hold them in prayer - we will advocate with our government.

Wellshire Seminar October 14, 2010 007 When the Rev. Chan had finished, we joined in prayer led by the Rev. Chan and the Rev. Patricia Kitchen of Wellshire Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Chan then left for a lunch engagement.

We talked a bit more about the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations and about ways that our lives as disciples of Jesus intersect with the work of the United Nations . . . through the season of prayer for Sudan, prayers for United Nations Day, participation in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, and the Red Hand Campaign to end the use of children as soldiers were discussed.

Our time ended with an invitation to Wellshire Presbyterian Church to return for a seminar at the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. Looking forward to that day!

Photos by Ricky Velez-Negron of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, Day 1

Accomplishments for the day:
(1) Made it to office via subway
(2) Obtained United Nations pass (with much assistance from Ricky)

Other work for day:
(1) Collected names for program review
(2) Participated in visit of delegation from Sudan - really an observer of sorts - pray for peace
(3) Began to envision Web update
(4) Began to read wonderful notes left by Jessica
(5) Worked on getting a new computer
(6) Continued wardrobe upgrade

Spectacular thunderstorm this evening - marveling at it and worrying about those who are in it.

Listened to Monday Night Football on Field Pass.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Today marks the beginning of a new adventure. In just a few hours I head for New York and a new job. I will be serving as the director of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations. It will be a learning experience to figure out what that means - a learning experience that will happen at a fairly rapid rate. I will be living in a church-owned apartment in Morningside Gardens near Riverside Park. I will be wearing a suit a heck of a lot more. Actually I have done that for five days in a row last week. Not sure when that has happened before.

Today marks the beginning of a new effort at self care. That has not gone so well over the past month or so. But this is a new start. Much more walking will be required in New York City. I am counting on that to help, but intentionality will also be required.

Today marks the beginning of a new attempt to blog more regularly - at least to make notes of what happens and how the days go.

Today marks the beginning.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Well I have not done as well at blogging as I had hoped. I have done well in terms of eating and exercising. I have now lost track of the number of days that I have walked more than 10,000 steps. We are talking a couple of weeks or so - but still.

Packed for another trip tonight. On the way to Lake Erie Presbytery.

10,632 steps today. And got to gym.

Monday, September 13, 2010

At the Shire

September 8
Travel day. Arrived at the Shire in the middle of the afternoon. Went to the gym. 12,395 steps.

September 9
Travel day. Went to Stony Point for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship's National Committee meeting. Walked around Stony Point. 11,841 steps.

September 10
At Stony Point. Walked around at Stony Point. 11,612.

September 11
Travel day. Most walking took place in the Charlotte Airport. It is actually a pretty good place for that. 10,251 steps.

September 12
Back at the Shire. Football started! Watched Steelers at Buffalo Wild Wings. Overate. But Steelers won. Made it to the gym. 10, 318 steps.

September 13
In the office for the first day in a long time. Went to gym - watched a bit of Ravens-Jets game. 12,749 steps.

Hope to get back to posting more regularly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The big news

Finally saw a rattlesnake - of course it was behind glass and in the Downtown Aquarium in Denver, but it was a rattlesnake.

Started the day on the treadmill with The Last of the Mohicans. Good stuff. I saw the last of the movie. Daniel Day-Lewis was amazing as always. I once walked a short distance with Russell Means during a demonstration in Cleveland. He's a big guy.

First stop for the day was the Downtown Aquarium. Since we planned to go to the Colorado Rockies baseball game, we parked near the stadium and walked to the aquarium. Had lunch, checked out the critters. Noticed a distinct lack of octopi. Hmmm.

Great night for baseball - a well played game. Lots of fun. $1 hot dog. Baseball should show up on my to-do list more often.

All of that was great, but the big news is that the step count for the day was 21,294. That's right. Over 20,000. That is the second time that happened. Once last summer at Ghost Ranch, the count exceeded the 20k level. So I don't know if this is a record or not. But it is the highest in over a year. And it is pretty darn good. I also managed to eat well.

Tomorrow marks the end of the vacation and the return to the Shire. Ah well. Until the next one.

See you along the trail.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Back on the treadmill

Hit the treadmill this morning at the hotel. We are headed to the Denver Aquarium and a Colorado Rockies game so I am not sure how many steps there will be. This got me over 5,500! A good start to the day - the last day of this vacation.

Thinking is needed

Today brought the final National Park (some day I have to figure out the different categories - National Park, National Historic Site, etc.) on this trip: Scotts Bluff National Monument.

The day started at Penny's Diner - a restaurant near the Oak Tree Inn in Morrill, NE. It was a good place to stay and a good place to eat.

From there, we journeyed to the Riverside Zoo in Scottsbluff. And then on to the monument.

As are many of the parks, it is an interesting place with much to ponder. The bluffs served as a landmark on trails west. From the European point of view those trails were about emigration and expansion. From the point of view of the Native Americans those trails were about invasion. A great deal to sort through when one thinks about it. And a great deal of thinking is needed.

Travel continued to Denver. Tickets have been purchased for the Colorado Rockies game tomorrow. A visit to the Denver Aquarium is also in order.

11,602 steps.

See you along the trail.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Not quite sure how to pronounce it, but that's a picture of a Daemonelix. Tricia and I saw a few of these at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument in Nebraska.

After some debate, paleontologists have determined that Daemonelixes (proper plural?) were the creation of the Palaeocaster - a terrestrial beaver that lived like prairie dogs.

An interesting part of an interesting day that included a visit to Wind Cave National Park (the seventh area designated as a national park), lunch at the Hot Springs Gathering Place (where the portobello mushroom sandwich does not contain meat), views of Fall River, walking the streets of Hot Springs (the Blue Bison was closed, sadly), and dinner at Penny's Diner.

A good day. 11,367 steps!

Tomorrow Scottsbluff.

See you along the trail.

Parallel to the sunset

Today's travel heads south - more or less. The goal is a couple more parks and then overnight in Morrill, NE.

The picture was taken at the Fetterman Battlefied on the Fort Phil Kearny State Historic Site in Wyoming.

Rain threatened - and actually happened on other parts of the field. We hightailed if to the car, stopping when we saw the double rainbow. The interior rainbow was actually a whole rainbow! First one I have seen in a long time.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Turkeys and bison

A busy day. A good day.

Started at Mt. Rushmore National Memorial. Learned about how the memorial was made - absolutely amazing story. Walked around the Presidential Trail - looked up presidential nostrils, a humbling experience.

Then went to the Crazy Horse Memorial. A quick trip to Jewel Cave National Monument followed. Without reservations, we simply checked out the exhibits and did a trail on top of the cave.

We drove the wildlife loop - complete with one-lane tunnels, beaucoup curves, turkeys, and bison! - at Custer State Park.

Then back to Keystone and a walking tour of historic Keystone.

A good day topped off with good numbers - 13,100 steps and a good blood sugar reading in the morning - and a normal reading for the second evening in a row!

See you along the trail.

The old goat, er, sheep

Driving through the Badlands (9/3/10) we came across a number of creatures, including some Bighorn Sheep. Good stuff.

I'm back

I have been away for a while.

First came the 2010 Peacemaking Seminar. Now, Tricia and I are vacation on the upper Great Plains.

A number of National Parks have been picked up - Little Bighorn National Battlefield, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, and today the Badlands National Park (incredible!).

Pictures have been posted on Facebook. I will get around to adding some pictures and posts from both events.

But here is the big news . . . I have been eating well and walking over 10,000 steps each day since we have been on the plains and this evening, I got a normal blood sugar reading. Let the rejoicing begin!

See you along the trail.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Morning, Menaul Avenue NE

As the sun climbs
the eastern side of the Sandias
illuminating the morning stillness,
cameras in hand,
they descend steel rungs
into a concrete arroyo
to photograph,
to document
shopping carts
pushed into
washed into
the arroyo bottom
left upturned, abandoned;
birds stop upon a telephone wire
to watch
and wander
and ponder dreams.

(Albuquerque 8/22/10)


Into the crack
between pavement slabs
tender, tenacious, green tendrils
patiently, persistently push
emerging to burst
into glorious purple and gold.

(Albuquerque, 8/22/10)

Forgot to take my camera on the walk.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Shire is empty

Tricia and Eric headed for home today. It's just me and assorted insects here at the Shire.

I had the great honor and wonderful joy of baptizing Ethan Alejandro Chan Craft, son of my friends Amanda Craft and Omar Chan. It was truly a blessing. He cried pretty much constantly - he's 13 months. Of course, he was exhausted - he fell asleep very quickly when Amanda took him and walked with him. He had also bitten his lip when I first met him. He was standing by a church pew with his dad and I went to talk to them. He fell down and the rest is history.

Painting continued at the Shire upon my return. The kitchen is painted. It remains to be put back together but that will be tomorrow night's task.

I ate out for breakfast (with Tricia and Eric - Panera's - they put the calorie count on the wall - very helpful) and for lunch (Moe's - they put the calorie count online and actually allow you to figure out the calories as you make your meal your way - helpful but one needs to know it in advance) as the kitchen is pretty disrupted.

Even with the eating out, my eating came in at the goal. I went to the gym and did 40 minutes on the treadmill. 10, 477 steps.

Movies - Three Kings and Tombstone. Neither are classics. Each has issues. But they are entertaining.

A good day.

See you along the trail.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Shire is abuzz

Tricia arrived at the Shire this evening. She had been unbinding the church. She came through Louisville to pick up Eric and take him back to Bowling Green. It is nice to have a fuller than normal Shire. But they leave in the morning. But Jessica and Ricky arrive on Tuesday.

The goals were met. Step count totaled 10,323; 35 minutes on the treadmill at the gym; and eating well.

Painting moved into the kitchen, thus making cooking a bit of a challenge. So eating took place in restaurants (except for an evening protein bar). That was accomplished within the goals. It is very helpful to have menus with nutritional information posted online.

Very helpful to have Eric as a co-painter.

Watched the Steelers play their first preseason game online. No movie today.

Shire renovations continue

With Eric's help work began on the kitchen. We painted the stain on the ceiling. We also prepped the walls and painted the walls under the cabinet. Moving the refrigerator led to the discovery of some pretty disgusting dirt. But that is no longer there. Tomorrow we will try to finish.

The three goals were achieved with 30 minutes at the gym (got there a bit late) and 10 minutes walking outside. Steps totaled 10,259.

Star Trek was the movie after the painting. Good stuff.

See you along the trail.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Ten days

I made it today. I was working at the Shire (a new dishwasher is installed - not by me, but it is in) and that made walking hard. But with a little effort, and finishing after midnight, I made it to 10,025 steps. The gym and eating well were easier. That's 10 days. Pretty cool. I am starting to keep stats now.

Eric, Sparky, and I went to see Inception. A very interesting movie - great special effects and acting. Sparky said it would be a good movie to see again. I agree. It will take some mulling. I had not expected to see Michael Caine in it, but given the number of times he has worked with Christian Nolan, it maybe should not have come as a surprise.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The rum is all gone

Well at least in the movie. There is some at the Shire.

I made it again today - 3 for 3: eating well, 40 minutes at gym, 11640 steps.

A doctor's visit went better than I had hoped. But there is a great deal of work to do.

The movie of the evening is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Always a fun ride. It's my favorite of the series. Johnny Depp is quite good - something of an understatement.

The second room in the Shire is now completed. Eric has been helping with cleaning and getting the next room - probably the kitchen or dining room or both some how.

A new dishwasher is to be installed tomorrow. It has been a while.

See you along the trail.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Two day report

Monday 9 August
I made all three goals - eating well, getting 30 minutes or more of focused exercise, and walking 10,445 steps.

Eric got back from Ghost Ranch. It's always nice to have someone in the Shire.

I painted the woodwork in the second guest bedroom.

Tuesday 10 August
Plumber (who was supposed to come yesterday) came today. Did his plumbing, but also talked religion. Asked if I belonged to a whole gospel church. Not quite sure what that means. I thought of several smart responses - "No, we cut out the middle 5 chapters of each of the synoptics; and only use the first and last chapter of John." I refrained and came up with something vague.

All three goals achieved (although I would really like to eat a six-pack of Snickers bars). But did eat well - not as well as some days - but still within the limits; walked for 35 minutes on the treadmill; and did 11,879 steps. Eric went to the gym with me.

We started putting the second guest bedroom back together. That should be finished tomorrow. It will be nice to have only one bed in my room again.

Watched "Lonely Are the Brave" - an old one with Kirk Douglas. Pretty interesting - dealt with loyalty and being out of time and place in a changing world. Walter Matthau and Carol O'Connor were in it as well. Dalton Trumbo did the screenplay. Need to learn more about him.

See you along the trail.

P.S. I stole Eric's picture from his Facebook page.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Two for three

Again, the day got away yesterday and I did not get (or make) time to post. I only met two goals yesterday - overeating in the evening - but at least it was on low-carb items. I did get to the gym and I made 10,437 steps.

The day saw the second coat of paint applied to guest room 2. The remaining task is to paint the woodwork and then start putting the room back together.

Today will be something of a challenge as I am working at the Shire. That could make it difficult to walk 10,000 steps. I will have to figure something out.

Eric arrives this evening. I will have to put him to work.

Broken Trail was the film of the evening - Robert Duvall good as always. Throughout the story, his character shows great courage in responding to physical threats and violence -- but fear and avoidance guide his emotional relationships with women. At the end there is a powerful scene where, in his old age, he receives a letter from a woman with whom he could have pursued love but he chose not to do so. His face reveals his wondering - his yearning - his conflict - as he ponders what might have been.

Kind of adds new meaning to my closing.

See you along the trail.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Making the fifth

I hit the wall last night around 9:00. All the Shire renovations, Shire Celtic Festival celebrations, and busyness of the day catching up to me.

I spent the day:
  • putting the first coat of paint on the second room
  • shopping - I purchased a toilet for the downstairs bath, hopefully it will be installed tomorrow, and I made a Costco run
  • listening to Irish music ("James Connolly" by Black47 playing right now)
This was also the 5th day for meeting all three goals - eating well, 30 minutes of exercise and 10,862 steps.

The weather remains nice - it is hot, in the low 90s, but the humidity has broken - so I walked to the gym.

Having gone to bed early, I am up far earlier than usual. I will do some work and then back to painting.

See you along the trail.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Shire renovations continue on day 4

Yet another day of meeting the goals - ate well; 33 minutes on the treadmill; 10,355 steps. The humidity broke today - still hot but much more bearable - so I walked to the gym.

The day also brought a renewal of the renovation project on the Shire. A ceiling was painted and the walls spackled. Hopefully I will be able to move in the morning.

At one point, I had planned to go to Dublin, OH for the Dublin Irish Festival. For a variety of reasons - including a desire to get moving on the renovations, I chose to stay at the Shire.

So instead of watching a movie or putting a movie on while working, I went with my Irish play list on my iPod. It ranges from Enya to the Pogues; the Clancy Brothers to the Dropkick Murphys; Kila to Eileen Ivers. And a whole lot more. The festival lasts all weekend so I will continue to listen. There are about 850 songs left. It should last.

See you on the trail.

Three at Three for Three

I have now made all three of my goals for three days in a row: eating well, 30 minutes at the gym (32 on the treadmill today - I am slowly building the number up), and 10,000 steps (10, 079 today 0r yesterday now as the case may be).

Going to the gym in the evening seems to be working. Overeating at night has been less of a challenge than in the past.

I passed on the movie in the Cardio Theater - they seem to be in a Ricky Gervais phase. I am not. I listened to my iPod.

Spartacus was the movie of the early evening. Great stuff. Great back story - Kirk Douglas helped to break Hollywood's blacklist by crediting Dalton Trumbo be credited with writing the screenplay. An act of courage in helping to create a movie about courage. Among other things.

Stagecoach - John Ford's version with Claire Trevor and John Wayne - is on now - another classic.

I also put in a brief amount of time readying a room at the Shire for painting. Lots to do.

See you along the trail.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Two in a row

Three for three accomplished once again: eating well; 32 minutes on the treadmill; and 10,040 steps. It is start. It has been a long time since I did two days in a row. Hopefully this is a trend.

The movie in the Cardio Theater was "The Invention of Lying." I only saw the end, but was not impressed.

Back to the Shire where I am watching Basil and Nigel in "Dressed to Kill" which is quite different from the 1980 DePalma film of the same title with Michael Caine and Angie Dickinson.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I think I said farewell

On July 27, the Sojourners blog carried the sad news that Art Gish, a long-time peace activist and peacemaker was killed in a farm accident. I had the privilege to meet Art and his wife Lillian through a mutual friend, Ray Foss. Ray arranged a several day visit for me to West Virginia presbytery a while back. He set up a number of ecumenical gatherings and it was there that I met Art.

Art's life reminded me of the importance of resistance and working for justice and peace.

Art's death reminded me of the fragility of life and the preciousness of the people with whom we share living.

It moved me to write about an experience I had on July 28 - an experience I now share. Note that "today" is July 28, 2010.

I think I said farewell to a friend today. Time may prove me wrong and that would be wonderful. But if it was farewell, it was good. Very good.

On my way out of Cleveland, headed to Elkhart, IN for the
Peace Among the Peoples event, I stopped at the Fairmount Heath Care Center of Breckenridge Village Retirement Center. For forty-five minutes, I had the joy, some times bittersweet joy, of visiting with Merdine T. Morris.

Merdine T. and I have been friends for more than 20 years. Friend really does not do our relationship justice, she is my mentor, teacher, challenger, comforter, disturber of my peace, guide, anchor . . . the list goes on. She and her husband Luke play and have played and will play significant roles in my life. Luke passed away some 10 years ago.

Merdine T. and I have shared some amazing moments . . . conversations . . . experiences . . . times of learning and growth . . . times of disappointment . . . ordinations . . . presbytery meetings (incredible to say, I know) . . . graduations . . . transitions . . . acts of justice . . . moments of witness.

In a small way, I was privileged, with Tricia, Sean, and Eric, to accompany Merdine T. as Luke courageously and graciously made a long journey through illness and into the shadowed valley. It was a time of great prayer, deep conversation (and silly talk about football among other topics), and profound silence. The sacrament of communion sustained us . . . communion shared with bread and juice . . . communion shared at the Morris home . . . communion shared in the hospital . . . communion shared with ice cream.

Luke died shortly after I moved to Louisville. I believed then and will always believe (and I told this to Merdine T. again today) that one of Luke's gifts to me was to hold on until I was not in a position to have to lead his memorial serve . . . so I could simply grieve deeply for my friend.

Merdine T. and I have remained in touch since I left Cleveland. We have attended some events together. We call periodically. When she called me on the night of President Obama's election, I could touch the excitement and joy and pride and pain in her voice. I still get chills remembering that call. When I get back to Cleveland, I try to visit Merdine T. Most of the time I manage to do so.

Now illness has become her companion. Oh, she has been sick in the past. I remember meeting Luke once in an emergency room . . . within half an hour, there were enough Presbyterians in the waiting room to hold a presbytery meeting (Merdine T. served in many, many capacities - she was moderator of the
Presbytery of the Western Reserve and she was Freda Gardner's roommate at General Assembly until Freda was elected GA moderator).

But things are different now . . . Merdine T. has been hospitalized several times over the last month. Twice I had tried to visit her but found her too tired to interact.

By July 28, she had returned to the Fairmount Health Care Center. I decided to try one more visit . . . on my way out of town. And we visited . . . we talked . . . we laughed . . . we cried . . . we remembered . . . we failed to remember . . . we dreamed of the future.

But perhaps most importantly, I told her what her friendship and love means to me. I told her (again) what Luke's friendship and love meant to me.

As I left, we hugged . . . as well as two can hug when one is in a hospital style bed. Through tears, Merdine T. said "Never forget me." "Never," was all I could say . . . nothing more than that simple one-word truth fit.

Leaving her room, walking back to my car with misty eyes, it occurred to me that, given Merdine T.'s health issues and her age ("If she won't tell you, I sure won't." said Luke one day) and my schedule, this could well be the last time Merdine T. and I see each other in this life.

And that saddened me. I had to stop and process that for a few moments.

But I also realized that this visit had been a moment of grace abounding . . . an incredible experience of the unconquerable power of love. Merdine T. and I may get to see each other again . . . heck, we may see each other often. But if we don't, we had the opportunity to say farewell . . . and to do so extremely well. We said what we should have said long ago. We said what we each knew the other one already knew. But we said it because we realized how important it was that we not only know, but that we hear it from each other.

And that is good. Very, very good.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Back on the trail

It is time - it is past time. So today I try again. The basic goals remain the same.

A day of reviews.

A day of cleaning.

A day of starting anew.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Big Tent Two

There will be another Big Tent - a gathering of at least ten Presbyterian conferences - a family reunion - a time of learning - a time to worship and pray together.

Big Tent Two will take place in Indianapolis, IN from June 30 to July 2, 2011.

At our recent General Assembly, those of us who will have conferences taking place under the tent (and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program will) were asked to wear promotional shirts.

I am told I looked like a young Don Johnston.

(Photo by Joann Lee.)

Presbyterian Pastoral Letter

It has been a long time - in a kind of a short time sense. A little over a month is a blink of an eye, time wise, in some ways. In other ways, it is quite a while.

Even now, truth be told, this isn't really an entry - maybe I will do one tonight. I am testing the quote feature. So here goes. The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) just completed. Our leaders have written a pastoral letter to the church. It opens:

To Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) congregations:

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

“Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38)….

Just one week ago, the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) convened with Scripture and music and prayer. Commissioners and advisory delegates from every presbytery across the church gathered around the baptismal font with hopeful expectation of what God’s Spirit would do in and through them as they sought to discern together the mind of Christ for the PC(USA).

Read more.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Three for three - finally

After a long hiatus - longer than I can remember - I got back into the self-care mode, at least for this day.

I made it to the gym and hit the treadmill for 30-minutes.

I ate well.

And I walked 10,056 steps.

Three for three!

It has been a long time since I did that. Hopefully it will not be that long again.

See you on the trail.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Of writing and eating

The day was spent writing - working on a statement about the Israeli interception and attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla. The statement got finished and published. And most of the day was gone. Snuck in some additional work on other items as well.

No movies - but picked up Irene (the first person to stay in a renovated room in the Shire) and went for a good dinner with a great group at Havana Rumba. Good times. And good food. Tricia was driving down from Cleveland - she did not make it to the restaurant, but she was the first person (other than the painting staff) to see a renovated room in the Shire.

Tomorrow I am leading worship at the Center on the World Week for Peace in Palestine Israel. A number of folks will be assisting - including Tricia who will celebrate communion with me.

See you along the trail.

Of completed closets and cleaning dwarves

Today saw the completion of the two closets at the Shire - one downstairs and one upstairs. And items were moved back into them clearing up floor space. That of course was a whole lot easier to accomplish when Eric was here and could make the trip up and down the stairs.

This new development allowed the cleaning dwarves to do their thing - well at least a version of their thing.

Tricia will be here next week for the General Assembly Leadership briefing. Irene Pak will stay for one night. It will definitely be a "pardon our dust, we are creating a better Shire for you" type of experience for them.

During the in-between times, when I was focusing on work, I continued making my way through Eric's videos. Man on Fire with Denzel was a highlight. Prince Caspian is in now but the time to call it a night is nigh.

See you along the trail.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The painting of (most of) two closets

Today (May 30 - again posting a day or so late), the progress on the Shire renovation project saw painting done in two of the closets. In each case, the ceiling and the walls were painted. The woodwork remains to do. That will be the task for tomorrow.

The strategy here is to finish the closets so they can be used as storage. This is especially needful since Tricia and Irene will be staying here on Tuesday.

The X-Men marathon was completed successfully while working on various projects for which I get paid.

See you along the trail.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The preparing of the closets

This should have been posted yesterday - May 29, 2010.

It was a day of multi-tasking that included:
  • taking Eric to the airport to go to New Mexico
  • a visit to Target to take advantage of a sale on Pepsi products
  • a visit to Home Depot to take advantage of a rebate on Behr paints
The multi-tasking continued as the Shire renovation progressed. The following work took place at more or less the same time:
  • painting shelves for three closets
  • preparing two closets for painting
  • washing the doors of one closet
  • making ready to move things from room to room to make ready for guests
  • changing furnace filters
The plan for today (May 30) is to paint the two closets and fill out the vouchers on Behr paints.

After the work, I finished watching Dances with Wolves. Eric and I had started it Friday evening - after Iron Man 2.

The day's big news is that Sean did a half-marathon in Madison. I am extremely proud of him. I do need to point out that I am engaged in an X-Men marathon (Eric left his videos at the Shire). Seriously, though, Sean's effort has inspired me to go into extensive training for the half-fifty yard walk.

But now - off to lunch and then to the painting.

See you along the trail.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Painting of the Shire - Room 1

The Shire, consistently ranked as Louisville's finest bed, has important news for all our regular guests, our potential guests, and . . . our other guests (irregular just does not fit some how).

The Shire, grand old bastion of fine sleeping in Louisville, is receiving a makeover.

Phase One of the much-needed and long-anticipated renovation has begun!

You can count on the same sterling service (we've retained the cleaning dwarves and the transportation elf) but in much more pleasant surroundings.

All services provided in the past will be provided in the future.

With a massive jump-start by hobbit friend Mary Lidtke and support from son Eric, the first room has been painted. Technically it still needs to be cleaned and redecorated - but why quibble about details - it is no longer green! Some staff members wanted to continue to work today, but others are so giddy at no longer seeing green everywhere, that we are headed to Smoothie King to celebrate!!

Note that:
Rates will NOT increase.
In fact, those who extend their stay and help with the renovations may receive rebates.
Frequent Shire points remain good.

Remember, when the trail brings you Louisville way, the Shire has a bed for you.

Monday, May 24, 2010

And so it begins again

I get a one out of three today. I ate well. No focused walking and only 4024 steps. But not eating is a start.

Went to see Robin Hood with Eric and Sparky. Good flick. Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett good as always. An interesting spin on the story. And a set up for a sequel.

Off to bed to get some sleep before an 8:00 am meeting.

See you on the trail.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Today is another day

Yesterday was not good.

No gym.
6665 steps.

Today is another day. And I will do better.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not the best day

Overate - but did avoid eating foods with large quantities of sugar. There was this doctor who used to say that it is better to eat apples than Oreos.

Did not make it to the gym - still nursing a blister. But it is getting better.

Did walk for 10,102 steps.

One out of three.

The Penguins lost. I suppose i can't really set a goal for a situation in which I have no control, but it would have been nice for them to win.

Did catch the end of The Outlaw Josey Wales on the tube after the hockey loss.

Tomorrow will be another day.

See you along the trail.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Goals met, foot protected

Whenever I try to get back in the exercise groove, I have a tendency to overdo things - to go too hard too quickly. Where this usually plays out is in a blister on my foot. This time is no exception.

So today, instead of doing nothing and instead of going all out, I took it easy and spaced my walking. I made it to the gym, but went 20 minutes on the treadmill instead of 40. I needed some groceries so I walked around the store for about 20 minutes. I found a couple of other times to walk just a little bit longer.

I suppose I did not make the letter of the goal for focused exercise. But I believe I achieved the spirit. I did eat well. And I did make 10,392 steps. I am calling that all three goals met. Four days.

Neither the Cavaliers nor the Pens played today. I did a Netflix video about Bonhoeffer.

At the gym, I watched the Phoenix Los Suns game against San Antonio. It's a pretty good gesture. And now I am hooked. I am watching the end of their game and they will be my second team.

See you along the trail.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Quick post tonight - had planned to go longer - but need to post on the Peacemaking Program blog about folks who are going to the Philippines as election observers. Say a prayer for the people of the Philippines and those who plan to serve as election observers.

A good day

Went to gym for first time in long time. 40 minutes on treadmill. Remembered how to use it.
Ate well
11,359 steps

Pens won.

See you along the trail.

Monday, May 3, 2010


That's right. Two.

Two days of focused walking.
Two days of healthy eating.
Two days of over 10,000 steps (10, 565).

Two days in a row of achieving my goals.

It has been a long time since that happened. And it feels good.

Not so good was the Cavaliers game. Here's hoping that things change there. And that things change tomorrow for the Pens.

A great show about Harry Pickens and his music on KET took some of the sting away.

Denzel Washington is on in Bone Collector at the moment. However, I am going upstairs and read as a way of resisting eating.

To be continued . . .

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Success - at least for a day

I made it! Or at least I will shortly.

A day of eating well, some focused walking, and 10,045 steps!

Defenses are weakening and I am going to head up to bed and read - that should be better than eating.

And I did it on a day when the Penguins lost! Watching the Kevin Costner Robin Hood on Netflix. It appears to be a director's cut or an extended version - definitely noticing some differences.

Now if I can start stringing a few days together . . .

Time for some honesty

The last stretch of time has been bad. Very bad. Maybe one or two days at the gym. And eating everything in sight. Not many 10,000 step days.

Not sure I understand why. No question that I feel the effects. There were moments when I thought I might try again, but they never lasted more than a couple of hours.

Now something may be stirring. I am feeling like I might begin again. I thought it might be yesterday. I did not make it to the gym, but I did focused walking at the Shire. I accomplished 10,305 steps. And, until about 10:30 p.m. I did not overeat. It got ugly after that. But that was the best day I have had in a long time.

I am trying again today. I have done some focused walking. And I have eaten well. We will see how things go. I need to go the store and get batteries for my pedometer. It's a tad difficult to have a step count goal and no way to count the steps.

Thanks to all who have emailed or talked to me with encouraging words. Thanks to all who have sent good thoughts my way.

See you along the trail.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

On the trail again?

Trying to get back on the trail. To start the morning, I actually did the stretching exercises for my back that I was taught some ten years ago.

We will see where this leads.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Checking In

It has been a busy time. Some things have had to give and the graybeard trail is one of them. I will get better.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

When laughing

Easter Sunday
April 4, 2010

There are many reasons to cry.
When laughing we have hope.
When laughing we are alive.


Without knowing

Easter Sunday
April 4, 2010

Without knowing
We host angels
Without knowing
We visit angels
Without knowing
We encounter angels
Without knowing
We journey with angels
Without knowing
We share life with angels

As we host
May our knowing grow

Missing Bags

I made it back to Louisville. There was a bit of drama in Atlanta when the 45 minute connection shrunk to 25 minutes. Fortunately the gates were close -- I was in seat 32C -- and the gate agent was very, very helpful.

According to the Delta Web page, the bag is here. So I am off to pick it up.

Since everyone except Erik got sick, myself included - although I was one of the least sick, I managed to lose weight in Colombia. Hopefully I can build on that!

Sunday, April 4, 2010

In surprising places

I am catching up a bit.

It has been a good trip. Lots of meetings. But the meetings went well and plans have been made for the future of the Colombia Accompaniment Program.

The poster promoting the Peacemaking Offering was posted on a door in the Pital Presbyterian Church. Pital is the one rural church in the Presbytery of the North Coast of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia.

Always good to see the Offering promoted.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Communidad del Camino


I had the privilege to preach this afternoon in Barranquilla. It was a wonderful experience followed by fellowship at the home of the Rev. Adriano Portillo and dinner at Mac Mondongo.

More later.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Via Blanca


Via Blanca is a community of displaced persons in Colombia who are framing on land given to them by the mayor. In this pilot project, they are growing tomatoes, melons, and peppers. Members of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) visited the community, we worshiped, ate sancocho soup, and planted an aloe vera plant (known as sabila in Colombia).

More pictures are posted.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010



Yesterday we went to the Pital Presbyterian Church. Pital is the one rural church in the Presbytery of the North Coast - outside Barranquilla.

On the wall is a quilt made for the church by a partner congregation in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church.


There are a number of computers in the meeting - all of them needing power.

We manage. We share.

Full moon over Barranquilla

31 March 2010
10:24 p.m.

Things have been quite busy. The meetings have been going well but they take attention and much time. There is good conversation, Spirit-filled dreaming, relationships being nurtured and born, possibilities explored.

I am going to post a few pictures with some brief comments to catch up a bit.

Barranquilla is in Northern Colombia on the Magdalena River and near the Caribbean Sea. It is Colombia's fourth largest city. It is in the Presbytery of the Coast (or Presbytery of the North Coast) of the Presbyterian Church in Colombia.

It has been hot and humid most days, although Monday has been the worst. Yesterday was reasonably pleasant. Today the temperature and humidity climbed.

There was a full moon on Sunday night when we arrived.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Flying Marvels

March 28, 2010
Gate J11

Massive metal
technological wonder
mechanical behemoth
gleaming red and orange and white
pulls into the gate
spews forth passengers and cargo
sits patiently
waits to consume more.
Tiny flesh and
bone and
dusky brown and grey
flits across the gate,
lands in the rafters,
and flies to who knows where.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Set the bar high!

March 28, 2010
On board Delta Flight 1987
at Gate A2

"I am so proud of you for not barfing on the last flight."

Sometimes the desired standard of behavior is set really, really high.

To be continued . . .


March 28, 2010

My traveling companions on the flight from SDF were members of the senior class of Christian Academy of Louisville. We don't need to go into what I thought the CAL t-shirts meant. They are indeed going to LA for a senior celebration trip. Beaches seem to be the prime attraction.

All in all, they were a good enough bunch. Some jocularity. Some silliness. Some loudness. But they did not keep me from sleeping.

A bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit from Pizza Hut (kinda weird, I confess). But I was very proud of Chick-fil-a for being closed on Sunday. I know that is their policy, but an airport with a captive audience would seem a place to bend.

A few more minutes here at the gate and then on to Miami.

To be continued . . .

Early morning SDF

March 28, 2010
6:20ish a.m.

I do not know if I had ever heard such words before. If I have, I have forgotten them.

"Join us at 6:00 a.m. on NPR for . . ." They struck with such force that the shock disoriented me and I failed to learn why I would want to do that.

I had left the Shire and was on the ever going on road. Again. This time it stretches to Barranquilla.

At the moment of the first-time heard announcement, the road bore the name of Taylorsville. I was making my way to the Louisville airport (SDF).

Shortly after the announcement, I discovered that the entrance to I-264 was closed. A detour ensued, essentially doubling back onto an alternate route that I could have traveled from the Shire had I only known.

Arriving at the airport, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that half the high school students in Louisville were flying somewhere at that early morning (perhaps I exaggerate slightly, but there were a lot of students). Massive chaos. Lots of noise. What every night owl wants to experience at 5:00 in the blessed a.m.

Fortunately I made it to security before many of the students. They travel light, but don't know the drill. 3-1-1; take out computers; take off shoes.

The crowd may explain why I was not assigned a seat before I arrived at the airport. But I did get one there.

Going through security usually involves a special screening for Tom, my faithful CPAP machine. He is routinely swabbed for explosive residue. It is always a great comfort to know that he has not rigged himself to explore in my face during the night.

This time, my hands were swabbed as well. Good to know they won't be exploding either.

At the gate, while waiting to board with a bevy of high school students, I learned that they seem to be going to LA - at least according to snatches of conversation I have heard. Perhaps I will be able to confirm that on the plane.

Next stop, Atlanta.

To be continued . . .

On the road that goes ever on - again

March 28, 2010

Made it to the airport.

Now have seat assignments on all three flights.

Ready for a nap.

To be continued . . .

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The trail heads south

So I not done a great job of writing. Or exercising. Or eating (well unless eating too much is the standard). Still not sure what is going on there.

But I do know what is going on elsewhere. The alarm clock is going to ring at 4:00 in the blessed a.m. I will roll from the bed, stagger around the Shire for a while and drive to the airport.

There, assuming that there is actually a seat for me, I will board a plane to Atlanta, where I will board a plane to Miami, where I will board a plane for Barranquilla - assuming I do not fall asleep in the airport. Sleeping on plane, good. In the airport, not so good.

There will be others with me - even in Louisville, so they should wake me up should sleep overtake me.

I will be part of a group of Presbyterians, many from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, who will meet with our partners in the Presbyterian Church in Colombia to discuss the Colombia Accompaniment Program. We will be in Barranquilla (on the Atlantic coast) and will take a couple of day trips from there. Conversations will take place at the School of Theology of the Reformed University of Colombia (I think - corrections will be made if I am incorrect).

I hope to do some blogging about the trip and post some pictures. Hopefully I will find time to post the usual type of material as well. I have a few posts ready to publish on Monday and Tuesday.

This will be my first trip to Colombia. I have been involved in promoting the Accompaniment Program. I have met individuals who came to the United States as part of our International Peacemakers Program. I helped create a resource - the cover is the image on this page. I know the names of many of the people who will be present - but we have not met. It will be good to do so.

I look forward to the experience. It will be a blessing to celebrate Holy Week (I am preaching on Good Friday) and Easter with our sisters and brothers.

To be continued . . .

p.s. only 3313 steps today - too much sitting and finishing things on the computer. The pedometer will go along.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Why don't he write?

"I'll bet someone back east is going, 'Now why don't he write?'"

(Bonus points if you can name the character.)

It has been a while. The trail has led astray. I have been to the gym a few times since my last post. But I have had a couple of weeks of eating pretty much everything in sight and going to find things when nothing was left. Lost pounds have been regained and must be lost again.

Today was designated as a day for a new beginning - a return to the trail - recognizing that we fall down, in part, to learn how to pick ourselves up - and doing the picking again.

So far it has worked. I made it to the gym - 2.16 miles on the treadmill. I have eaten within the limits that I have set to lose weight. And I have made 10,007 steps.

One strategic change on this return. The movie at the gym today was Troy. Tomorrow it will be Last of the Mohicans. I decided to use the treadmill in the cardio-theater and was pleased at how engaging the movie was - how easy it was to walk while viewing. So, when the movie is one I want to watch I will do that and earn the right to listen to audio books through the walking.

I am in The Fellowship of the Ring. Frodo and his friends are in Buckland, aware and frightened of the black riders and preparing for a quick escape.

The journey continues.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Taft, Underground Railroad, snow

I am back - at least back writing - after a hiatus that included not eating well, not getting to the gym, not making 10,000 steps.

The good news is that many of those days were spent in Cincinnati with Tricia. We met on Friday. Saturday we went to the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. That is not one of the national parks that had been on my "must-do" list, but it is here and it is one more off the list. My passport stamp total is now 96. It will be interesting to see what is the stamp 100. I have been to more parks than those for which I have stamps having visited a number before I started using the passport. Some of the larger parks also have more than one stamp so the park count is not the same as the passport stamp count. Taft appears to have been an interesting dude. Besides being the only person to serve as President and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, he was also the first President to throw out the opening pitch at a baseball game.

We returned to the Homewood Suites (it's a really good place with nice folks so it gets a product placement) in Milford to watch Duke basketball. We followed that by going to see Avatar. Still processing that one. I have heard a great number of comparisons to the Pocahontas story. One parallel that occurred to me that I have not heard (which does not mean it has not been repeatedly made): as the clans gathered, I thought of the efforts of Tecumseh (Tecumtha) and Tenskwatawa to create a confederacy of the indigenous peoples in the early 1800s in what was then known as the Northwest Territory. An episode of the PBS series American Experience: We Shall Remain tells that story. I need to check it out.

Yesterday saw a trip to the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. It is a haunting, wrenching, and painful experience. The human capacity for brutality and inhumanity - on an individual and corporate level is staggering. Even when one is aware of that capacity, it is staggering to see it revealed. At the same time, the stories told by the Center are affirming and inspiring. The human capacity to endure and persevere - the human capacity for courage and cooperation are even more impressive. What the people who were enslaved endured, touched me deeply. Processing this experience will continue for some time.

This morning we woke to damp streets - now two hours later those streets are snow-covered. Our decision to stay put and not try to get back to Cleveland and Louisville respectively makes sense. There is a fitness center here which I will soon visit.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Keep on walking

Before he could be elected president, Nelson Mandela had to be freed. Or perhaps I should say, before he could be elected president, Nelson Mandela's body had to be freed. His body may have been imprisoned, his spirit and his soul never were.

Twenty-nine years ago today, Nelson Mandela's long walk involved physical steps from Victor-Verster Prison. That walk had begun years before when he committed himself to working for justice and peace. That walk continued through years spent in captivity. That walk continued outside of prison in leadership of his party and his country and all the people of South Africa. That walk continues in those who are inspired by his example of grace and nonviolence and forgiveness and vision and inclusion and who work for peace and justice in Soweto and Gaza and Manila and Louisville and Barranquilla and Yei and all around God's world.

Thank you Nelson! May we - may I - keep on walking.

The photo was taken by one of my South African friends who returned to participate in the 1994 election.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Finished The Hobbit

Spent the day inside - in part because of weather - in part because I got in so late last night and it just did not make sense to spend time driving back and forth to work when I would only be there a while.

Posted a number of blogs over on Swords into Plowshares. Worked on taxes. Dealt with some email.

Walked around the Shire to the tune of 10,140 steps listening to The Hobbit - which ended. Bilbo went there and got back again. If the Louisville Athletic Club is open tomorrow, listening to The Fellowship of the Rings may begin, depending on the movie that is being shown.

Sitting and Sitting

Yesterday - Monday, February 8 began at 5:00 in the blessed AM. I was headed to Chicago for a meeting with the presbytery's Peacemaking Committee and to speak at the presbytery meeting scheduled for today (February 9).

Recognizing the wee hour, I had done my packing and organizing in advance so when the alarm went off, I slipped out of bed, gathered up the last couple items, smeared some cashew butter on toast and headed out the door to scrape a thin patina of ice from the car.

I made my way to the Louisville airport and boarded the plane. I arrived at Midway about 7:30 AM Chicago time and was met by Jan Dykstra who took me to the presbytery office.

The meeting went well - good conversation, sometimes hard conversation, sometimes revealing, healing conversation. Somewhere in there during the morning, first reports of a winter storm headed Chicago's way were shared. The reports increased in frequency as the day went on but we continued to meet. We enjoyed a good lunch ordered for us by staff person Bonnie Gilchrist.

About one o'clock, Bob Reynolds, presbytery executive, stopped by. We exchanged greetings - he and I had first met when he worked for the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and I was in Des Moines Presbytery.

Then he said he had some news that we needed to hear. And he announced that, because of the reported storm, the presbytery meeting for today had been postponed.

My first reaction was to say that someone could take me to the airport after the meeting and I could try to change my flight. The others present encouraged me to try and make the change at that moment. I took a little persuading, but then took their advice.

Of course, saying I would make a change proved far easier than doing so. I had made the reservation through the PC(USA)'s new travel agency, using their Web site. Southwest said that since the reservation had been made that way it could only be changed that way. I was using someone else's computer so I did not have the URL.

That led me to look at one-way car rentals: about $200 before the taxes, fees, surcharges, etc. that add significant amounts to the cost.

I went to Southwest's home page again. This time thinking it might be easiest simply to buy another ticket. It was. They had a $38 (before taxes, etc.) ticket which I bought and I got in the A boarding group. It went through St. Louis to get to Louisville, but it was a ticket.

I returned to the peacemakers and finished the meeting. Then two of them took me on a ride - an adventure really - an adventure described in a series of text messages to friends - to Midway airport. They were taking a route that was new to them - but we made it.

As I checked my bag, the counter attendant said, "It is good you changed your flight. We will be closed tomorrow." Interesting I thought at the time. Not interesting enough for me to check today.

I toddled to my gate. Many flights were delayed - although I did not notice any being cancelled. My flight to St. Louis was posted as being on time.

Time came to board. The plane was there. The early evening sun actually peeked through the clouds. But we were told we could not leave since there were no pilots. We sat and sat. And after a while, one pilot entered the gateway. And after a while another pilot entered. And then we got on and - late, late enough that connections would be tight - the plane took off.

There were only a few passengers. I had a row to myself. We landed in St. Louis. Word came that we could operate cell phones. Mine buzzed to indicate a voicemail. It was Southwest telling me that the flight I was to have been on today had already been cancelled. Whatever came next, I had made the right choice.

Deplaning at about 7:30, we heard the news that the scheduled 7:45 flight to Louisville was delayed until 9:50. The plane was to come from Texas but it had not left.

I had some poor chili and a pretty dry and tasteless "Great American Bagel." Then I went and sat and sat waiting for the plane.

The next announcement was that the plane would be delayed at least another hour. As we sat and sat, Southwest staff brought out soft drinks and snacks - never a good sign. About the time that i booted up my computer - paying for internet access because something, probably the weather, was messing with the AT&T network that supports my BlackBerry and air card, we were moved to a gate "nearer the security area." Not sure what that meant, but it was the announcement

Finally, about 9:00 came the word - the plane had left and we should depart around 10:30. It was closer to 10:45 when we boarded.

About this time, I did some quick calculations - converting to Eastern Time, allowing time for Southwest to bring in our luggage and for me to drive to the Shire from the airport - I figured that I would need to sleep in this morning to be functional at all today.

I found a seat - the plane was completely full. And we sat and sat.

After a while, came the announcement that we were missing a flight attendant and could not talk off until she arrived. Then they announced that there were four folks coming in on other flights. We were to be the last Southwest plane out of St. Louis but there were a couple flights arriving at St. Louis.

The attendant got there. Our fellow travellers arrived. The plan taxied to the de-icing station and we sat and sat.

Takeoff ensued. We flew to Louisville - where it was snowing - and one runway was closed (so they told us) and the ground crew was working to clear the other runway. So we sat and sat as the plane circled high above the city.

But sitting and sitting, like all things, good or otherwise, eventually ends. We landed. By the time I made baggage claim, our luggage was there. I found my car - and headed to the Shire, arriving about 2:30 AM. An hour or so later I called it a night.

I woke today around noon and have been working at home ever since (until I did this posting).

No gym or focused exercise yesterday and I overate - but somehow between the sitting, I managed to take 8,093 steps.

There is snow in Louisville today - and it impacted many of my colleagues - but my decision to stay at home had been made well before morning.