Thursday, November 20, 2014

Autumnal update?

Greetings all, 

     I know it has been some time since my last update but for a long time there wasn’t much to report. There was a lot of emotional roller coaster up/downs but once again the counselors have been summoned. There is some news to report though as I have transitioned away from my hematologist, Dr. Martin, to another hematologist at the VA. This is good news for the most part, though I must admit that it was a rather emotional transition. Dr. Martin has been there through all but the worst of it, constantly in communication, always asking about the kids, the dogs, enquiring about our latest dietary changes… In short, she has become family, so I’m sure it’s not difficult to understand why transitioning to a new doctor was difficult. That said, she personally picked the new hematologist I would be seeing and is still keeping an eye on my “case” and if he (my new doctor) has any questions he will contact Dr. Martin directly. I mentioned it was good news, mainly because it means that I no longer require such frequent monitoring, and after careful thought I realized that this also frees up some of her time for those patients who need more vigilant attention. Dr. Martin also made it possible for me to go to Stanford University Hospital to see a GVHD specialist in their BMT ward. In addition to working at the VA, Dr. Martin also works at Stanford as well as teaches there. (Honestly, I’d love to have half that woman’s energy!) So, in summary my condition continues to improve while the number of doctors I’m seeing continues to grow. What a long, strange trip it’s been…

     In other news, work continues at a snail's pace out in the woodshop, but the better I feel emotionally/mentally the more apt I am to get out there. Ironically, it’s now getting colder, so insulating the place and figuring out an economical way to heat it will be at the top of the project list. In the mean time, I have been scouring the interwebs and magazines, perusing antique stores and craft sales and taking copious notes on all the things I can make to try to sell. Any little bit of income would be a blessing. I’ve also started filming my builds and will be editing them for uploading to YouTube. I have found there are a number of people who do this to either supplement their income or it IS their income. Again, more note taking and practice. I don’t think the first one produced will be very pretty but I sure learned a lot in making it. Stay tuned, I’ll post another update when it goes “live”! Please be sure to tell all your friends, and do that “thumbs up” thing if you think the video is good. (You can be honest, I know the first one will suck) You can also subscribe to the channel I’ll create and you’ll be notified via email of new videos. 

     Work also continues on the boys' pickup as well. With the help of Papa Frank they have the front bumper straightened out enough to reinstall it, while work on the much worse rear bumper continues. There have been a few mechanical issues to work through and hopefully we are done with them, but if not, we will face them head on. In addition to getting the rear bumper sorted there are some rather pesky wiring issues to muddle through (aren’t there ALWAYS wiring issues with old cars?). The seat needs to be reupholstered and we need to do a bit of body work and install a new reverse light and then it should be roadworthy. I’ve been compiling photos and will likely post a separate update on that at a later time, hopefully when it’s done and ready to get back on the road.

     No other news to report as of today. Stay warm as Old Man Winter encroaches and if you’re one of the (un)lucky few who has to shovel snow remember not to let yourself work so hard that you sweat. Let’s all stay healthy out there in the Winter Wonderland this year.

     May you all have a blessed and healthy Thanksgiving and do try not to eat too much… (save some pie for me, eh?)

     Peace, T. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

How we meet death...

     We all know death is coming but some are far more acutely aware than others. Take my grandfather did instance, 86 years old and his health steadily declining, he had to know his time was dwindling fast. My friend Adam on the other hand, I'm sure saw a long and happy life charted out before him. Then in an instant he was gone. My own experience had me very much looking far out into the future. Then cancer came and death following fast on its heels. Though I knew not if my life would indeed be over soon, or when, it suddenly became an all too real possibility. 

     I wrote the above words late last night after waking from a dream about my late grandfather. As with most dreams, we never really get to see them through to the end. I wasn’t there when my grandfather passed, but other members of my family were, and I’m at least glad that he wasn’t alone but in the company of his loved ones. When we got the news that Adam had passed in a horrible car accident we had, just weeks before, been back in Michigan on vacation and almost passed on the opportunity to visit with him and his family. I’m glad we ultimately made the decision that we would go visit them. As for me… my hematologist is quite certain that I’ll live at least as long as my late grandfather, and I’m holding her to it!

     As I finished writing that first paragraph, so I wouldn’t forget it come morning, I lay there in bed trying to quiet my mind and drift back off to sleep. I couldn’t help but think of the ways in which we face death, each in our own way as the stories of our lives are all our own. I finally decided there were basically three ways we meet death. We never see it coming, like Adam. We see it approaching as we grow into old age and our bodies start to fail, and we know the eventual end is near. Or, like me, we see it trying to come for us, the Grim Reaper stretching out a shadowy cloaked and bony hand reaching for us and we do what must needs be done, as is our nature. Turns out I was wrong, and here’s how…

     I sat down this afternoon to check some emails and scroll through my newsfeed on Facebook when I learned that just hours before Robin Williams was found dead of an apparent suicide. Enter the fourth way we meet death… For far too many of us life gets complicated, messy, dirty, incomprehensible and we can’t seem to find our way through it any longer. Far too many of those that can’t see a way out turn to suicide as a last resort. It was reported that Robin’s publicist said he had battled severe depression leading up to his death. I’ve been there, sort of. I dealt with depression for some time, both before and after my transplant, so I have some idea. You feel like you’re cut off from the world, like no one understands how you feel, like you’re broken and no one can fix you. Often these feelings are mixed with anger and those who deal with depression lash out and turn away those who try to help. Then there are those who suffer in silence, not wanting their family and friends to know there’s “something wrong with them”. What these people need, what I needed, was for someone to not give up when everyone gets turned away. We need to start a very open and honest discussion in this country about how we deal with and treat mental illness. It can no longer carry the stigma that it has, that those who deal with it must suffer alone, in silence. People need to know there’s help out there BEFORE it’s time to call the suicide prevention hotline. Frankly it should never get that far…

     As I sit here writing this I have a friend who is dealing with severe depression, who feels he’s at the end of his rope and honestly I can understand why. That worries me. He’s been in this dark place feeling very much alone for quite some time and several years ago I was beyond worried, I was scared that I was on the verge of losing my friend. That left me at a fork in the road when it came to our relationship, one in which a very real and serious decision needed to be made. I felt that I had to give him some information about suicide prevention, but in doing so that it might irreparably hurt our friendship. Should I talk to him about suicide prevention and risk losing my friend, or carry on like he was fine and just pray that he didn’t sink that low…? Well, I chose the former. I contacted another friend who lived in the same city, and asked him to dig up any and all information about local suicide prevention resources. Once I had that, I called my depressed friend and danced around the topic, unsure how to broach it without him hanging up. I casually touched on how he was feeling and then I asked him to write down something for me, a telephone number. I didn’t tell him at first what it was for, I just made him write it down and repeat it back to me, twice. I distinctly remember thinking that if he hung up on me after I told him what it was for, and even if he threw away the number and never spoke to me again, well at least I had done all I could do from a thousand miles away. I can tell you he wasn’t happy when I told him what the number was for, but I think I convinced him to at least keep the number for a while, just in case. That was over three years ago and despite my repeated attempts to get back in touch with him he kept ignoring me. It hurt, thinking that my actions might’ve ended our friendship but so long as I knew he was still alive and fighting the good fight then I’d done some kind of good. 

     I’m happy to say that he has once again opened the lines of communication, but sad to say that his situation has not improved, and in fact may have deteriorated. At least he is once again talking to me and letting me help in whatever way I can, and it pains me that I can’t do very much. But I will not EVER give up on him, nor will I give up on anyone else who finds themselves in a similar situation. Years ago, I had another friend who was in a really nasty car accident and was housebound after his release from the hospital. At the time I drove past his house on my way to and from work every day and most days I would stop in on my way home and talk to him. Everything seemed fine (doesn’t it always?) until one day I could see in his eyes that something was wrong. I can’t tell you what it was, perhaps a distant stare as though he was there but at the same time he was in a far off place. Maybe his eyes looked like he was on the verge of tears… Whatever it was, I knew immediately that something was wrong and when I pressed him for answers his eyes met mine and with an expressionless face he told me that he’d almost eaten a bullet earlier… When someone you care for says something like that there is a flood of emotions that engulfs you. Fear. Anger. Shock. (for the purposes of this I’m considering shock an emotion, not sure how else to describe it…) I wasn’t prepared for this. I wasn’t QUALIFIED for this! There have been very few moments in my life where I have felt that the words I was about to chose would have very real and lasting consequences, this was one. I can’t recall what I said, but I do remember the two of us hugging and crying on each others shoulders for a very long time… 

     I hope in reading this that you, the reader, will gain some insight into the reality of this type of mental illness. I’m certainly no professional counselor, though I have talked to a number of them, and I am grateful for every minute spent with them. My genuine hope is that you will take something constructive away from this. That perhaps if you know someone who is depressed or even just feeling down, or if you know someone that you have not heard from in a while that’s been dealing with some “heavy” life issues, you might find cause to take time out of your busy schedule and reach out to them. You never know if that line you cast out to them may just be the lifeline they need. Be honest (I encourage this in ANY and ALL communication!) because you can’t BS your way through that conversation, they’ll see right through it. Be open, don’t hold something back because you might be afraid of losing a friend. The bone jarring, gut wrenching reality is that if you do hold back and they are gone tomorrow you’ll never forgive yourself, you’ll never get a second chance. If you don’t know someone who you think might be in a bad place mentally then just pick up the phone and call someone you have not spoken to in a long time and tell them that you miss them. Then the next time you have some time to kill do a little research on the warning signs of depression and suicide and let’s start an honest heartfelt conversation on how to help these folks. Whatever you do PLEASE take this seriously, because it is serious. DEADLY serious!!!

     If you’re in a dark place, know that someone out there really does care about you and that ending your life doesn’t solve your problems, it only transfers them to those who love you. Your life IS WORTH LIVING! Never forget that. You are NOT the first to experience what you’re going through, or to think the thoughts you’re thinking. Please, not for me but for yourself, reach out and talk to someone, anyone. 

     May you find a light in the dark, peace in the storm, and know that you ARE loved.

     Blessings, T.

To learn more I encourage you to watch the following video:
Visit these websites as well- 
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Day +1096 or rebirthday number three.

     What follows are two posts that I intended to post almost a month ago now. As you'll see things got... complicated. There's more news to share, all of it good, but given the discombobulated nature of this post I'll save that for later. I hope you can make sense of this, if not feel free to comment and ask away, I'll try to straighten things out for you. 

     Today I celebrated my three year "rebirthday", my father-in-law's birthday and my brother's birthday. I also found out that the artist who drew my visual focus pieces has a birthday today as well. All day I've been thinking about how the transplant was supposed to happen a day earlier but a storm along the east coast kept the plane that was carrying my donor cells grounded... 

     Throughout this journey there have been far too many coincidences for me to believe they've all been random, there has to be something very powerful at work orchestrating these events. But to what end, what purpose I know not. What I DO know is that whatever, whomever it is, it's working for my benefit. From the moment I let go of my control over the situation, that is to say my PERCEIVED control, everything started to fall into place and gradually the stage was set for what seems, for all intents and purposes, to be a complete healing from the deadly "terminal disease" that afflicted me.  I won't yet be so bold as to say I'm cured, but things are sure looking that way. 

     We're off for short trip to Santa Cruz to celebrate Connor's high school graduation, and to give me a brief respite from hectic mornings trying to get projects done outside before the sun comes around the back side of the house and the mercury rises. Oh, how the sun has now become my mortal enemy... We've moved the fence, or more accurately built a new fence, to allow us to double the size of our garden, built a few raised beds out front to accommodate edible landscaping (blueberry bushes and some raspberry patches) and built a couple of small chicken tractors to house the six brand spanking new chicks that will be added to our zoo after we return from Santa Cruz. A couple more raised beds to build, a new, prettier gate and some modifications to the chicken tractors (the downside to buying "kits", they're never exactly what you want). Then hopefully I can devote my days to finishing up the shop and start building some more projects and maybe making a bit of money for my efforts. 

Fiona and Magnus get acquainted.
     We've also recently expanded our "pack" to include a small mixed breed terrier/something? We've named her Fiona and she is a firecracker! I don't know that we've ever had a dog with such energy! 

     ...That was the update I'd hoped to post before we left for Santa Cruz, obviously it didn't go as planned. Shortly before the trip, I started feeling some very slight abdominal pain in my upper right abdomen which as the week progressed spread to a spot directly behind it on my back. It felt eerily like a bad case of gas I'd had just post transplant. Turns out, after suffering through a miserable couple of days in Santa Cruz (I admit, I was being stubborn and didn't want to ruin anyone's trip.) and an early morning dash up
the coast to the Palo Alto CA hospital I had developed a significant gall stone which lodged in the exit of the gall bladder. It had to go... I sent Sarah home with the kids to get some sleep, I knew I wasn't going to get much anyway, though a couple of shots of morphine proved me wrong, thankfully. I bumped some scheduled surgery early that morning when the surgeons came in and, because of my ongoing medical issues spent Friday night in the hospital. 
Sailboat in the bay near the lighthouse, Santa Cruz.

     Here's a few things I learned from the experience:
1- Always trust your gut, even when it's driving you mad with pain. 
2- I'd still go out of my way to drive to Palo Alto to get to the VA hospital. Despite all the bad press the VA has garnered of late they've always taken exceptional care of me, no matter who I see there (well, except for that one cranky lady in travel pay...). 
3- This one really surprised me... I went into the ER with no fear... Once the pain subsided thanks to the drugs I was very strangely at peace with whatever, or however this played out. Maybe I've been down this road enough times that I just don't feel afraid, or maybe I simply have enough faith in those professionals who work there to trust fully that they'll set things right. Whatever the reason this last, albeit brief, stay in the hospital was not scary or stressful for me in the slightest. I'm sure that those who knew (we put the word out via Facebook) and surely Sarah were extremely stressed and I wish I could've changed that. But from a patient's perspective it's very comforting to feel at ease in such situations. 

     To end this it's fast approaching two weeks, the temperatures here have already topped 100 during the day and work continues on the garden expansion. The boys, or perhaps more accurately "young men", have really stepped up and born the brunt of the heavy lifting, working together well, and that has made even the most difficult of tasks easier. I've tried really hard to teach them something my father taught me years ago which I now call "embrace the suck". In short, whenever an especially difficult task came up on the farm he always met it head-on and we'd work through it together cracking jokes and generally making even the worst jobs, ours was ALWAYS pickin' rocks, borderline enjoyable simply by creating an attitude that the sooner it was accomplished the sooner we could move on to more enjoyable things. 

     Tuesday was a great example of that as the boys and I worked to remove some cemented-in fence posts and break up a mowing strip/curb that was in the way of our new garden beds. It was VERY hot outside, but I made sure we were all well hydrated and took plenty of breaks. We, and by that I mean the young men of my family, worked diligently at our set tasks and got a lot accomplished. I couldn't be more proud of their efforts and how well they worked together. I don't want to sound like I'm tooting my own horn but they are becoming fine young men...

     So my healing continues along with weight restrictions. Man I hate those! I hear tell there'll be some necessary diet changes too now that the gall bladder has joined the spleen (which was removed in September 2010). Kinda not looking forward to giving up some of the foods I hear will not be fun to eat anymore but, truth be told, I've been meaning to take the steps toward healthier eating anyway. Now I have a certain incentive! Funny how that works eh?

     As you can see things have been anything but normal or routine around here. Hopefully things will calm down really soon, the list of projects that is keeping me from the shop seems to grow at an even pace with the tasks I check off and I'm beginning to miss my shop time... Stay well, stay happy and stay passionate!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Embrace the suck...

     On the medical front things are going so well I sometimes forget what I've been through or how far I've come. I saw the dermatologist a couple of weeks ago and she was amazed by the progress of the healing post GVHD. I found a photo that I'd taken to send to the doctor when it first developed and I myself was shocked. It truly is amazing what the human body is capable of when it's given the right tools necessary for growth and healing, when the temple is worshipped... It took me a long time to realize that, and I've been looking into the foods I eat to nourish my temple. Some of the stuff on the shelves at the stores really does scare me. It's no surprise, therefore, that the number of diseases we continue to encounter are becoming more and more numerous. All of this research has also led me to some other theories and a new way of interacting in the world around me, more on that to come... 

     Physically I feel great. I've been out walking and riding my bike more and more and I look forward to getting out and hiking and maybe (FINALLY) doing a little fishing. Mentally and emotionally I think it's safe to say I've never felt as good as I do presently. When I got home from church last Sunday, for the first time I sat down and really dug into the sermon, and it led me to some really great stuff. What I found odd, and what I spent a good deal of time pondering, was that most of the things I was looking into had come into my life before. I finally realized that in those moments, when these resources had come before, I simply wasn't ready to deal with them. I've also come to realize that very often when we are going through some difficult time we look for solutions, for shortcuts to make our journey through Suckville shorter, to get us back to where we feel happy. The thing is, we all too often have to take the hard road to get there, we need, as part of the process, to embrace the suck. It has come into our lives for a reason and we need to find out why. Sometimes we manage to find what we think is a shortcut to get us around the suck but eventually it comes back, sometimes deeper and messier than before. 

     People often ask "Why did God let this happen?" or "Why does God let bad things happen to good people?" God is always available to us, He is there all the time and is waiting on you. People don't suffer because of God, people suffer because of people, because we don't allow the spirit of God to flow through us. We all too often get in our own way and separate ourselves from God. I think when those things happen God is right alongside us, He never leaves us, His love never fails. All of us are longing for that connection, whether we admit it or not, but we let our egos get in the way. We want things for ourselves, money, nice cars, new clothes, giant TVs... Where does God come into play when we are pursuing those things? We're also inherently lazy, as a species, and we are programmed to take the path of least resistance. We KNOW junk food is bad for us, that fast food is bad for us, but we still eat it... So if we don't keep God foremost when things are good and we are embracing all the things we want for us, how then can we be angry or upset when we think He's not there in the bad times? Maybe those bad things come to us because we have strayed too far from His path and we need a reminder. Maybe we never were on the path and some really Big Stuff™ will stop us dead in our tracks and set us on the path, like a child picking up a toy train and setting it on another track. I can tell you with certainty that's how it worked for me. I've learned more in the last few years than in all the schooling and years of experiences prior and I wouldn't trade any of the suck for anything in the world. I love who I am now, and who I am becoming. 

     So when things aren't going your way, learn to take a time out and ask yourself why, ask if this is really the direction you were meant to be going and if so, then ask why it's so upsetting to you. Find the root cause, it's there but you have to look. Be forewarned, you may not like what you find. When life pulls the rug out from under you and you land in the suck ask yourself how you came to be on that rug. There's likely something you are meant to learn and if you try to circumvent the road out of the suck know that you may very well find yourself back in it all too soon and again and again and so on until you finally embrace the suck and slog your way through it, thus learning the lesson presented you.

Honor, Loyalty and Service

     When I was 18 I had no clue where my life was headed. I knew I couldn't afford college nor did I want much of anything more to do with school. At the time there was no war, no "conflict in the Middle East" so I joined the U.S. Air Force. In doing so I swore an oath of enlistment. "
I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God."

     When I first spoke those words, I was still an immature kid going through the motions, undeniably as a result of my own choosing, and it was part of what had to be done. The older I get, now on the eve of my 43rd birthday 25 years on, I recite those words over and over from time to time in my head and take pause to reflect deeply on just what they mean, to me, my family, and my country. For me those words have now become a sacred bond, my honor bound pact to this nation and its citizens, to my family and friends and to myself and my sense of honor. I've come to realize that those words aren't just a part of the process of my leaving home in search of my life's path or direction, they're now a very important part of who I am and they hold true for me and will continue to do so until my dying breath. 

     25 years ago I made a promise, a very BIG promise that could have, for me at least, had severe consequences. In retrospect in sounds rather silly to swear to protect a piece of paper, written centuries before by a group of traitors to the Crown of England, and to do so even at the cost of my own life. But that's a rather simplistic way of looking at the situation. What those traitors - now hailed as some of the greatest heroes this great nation has ever known - did was stand up in defiance of tyranny and injustice. They stood up for freedom and equality, and they valued, above all, their own honor, and were willing to risk their very lives to defend it. How could I, in swearing to protect that document do any less? 

     What the Constitution meant to the Founding Fathers and what it means to me today are two rather different things, but while that is true, they also both deserve and in fact NEED defending from all enemies foreign, and domestic. In much the same way as the words penned centuries ago have changed in their meaning to this nation, my Oath of Enlistment has also taken on a new meaning. Reread that oath and you'll notice there's no "until" or end of contract clause. While it's true I've been honorably discharged, my oath, my promise to myself, to you and to every other American citizen is, and always shall be ever in effect. I WILL uphold and protect the Constiturion of these great United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, until the day I die. 

     My oath is my sacred word, my honor, and I hold those very sacred. My honor and my word, once it is given, are who I am. They hold me accountable and give me pause when issuing them forth. It is said with age comes wisdom. Well I can attest to that, as I've learned to not be so carefree in giving my word to anyone without first thinking through the consequences. Here's the thing I've come to realize, a man's honor doesn't mean much to some people these days, what with the internet and its complete anonymity. Anyone with access to it is free to say whatever they want without much fear of consequence. Read the comments on just about any YouTube video and you'll see what I mean. There are folks out there who will say anything just to get a rise out of other people knowing full well that the average person reading and/or commenting has no way of tracking down fartknocker297 and really beating some sense into the jack wagon authoring those comments. Those people are completely without honor. In some cultures it would still be said they not only have no honor but bring dishonor onto their family by their words or actions. That's just not who I am...

     Honor, loyalty and service... By my honor, and in upholding it, I remain loyal to my oath and to serve something higher than myself. The Constitution affords you a great many rights and I swear to defend it and your rights as written therein even if you are fartknocher297 and chose to rudely and vulgarly proclaim that a video of cute cats acting crazy is stupid. I cannot promise that if you dishonor someone in my presence you are free from consequences. Your actions and your words have consequences, we all fall under that golden rule. When you hassle a store clerk for doing his job and requiring to see a photo ID when you try to use a credit or debit card, your right to free speech has left the building along with Elvis and your honor. I will defend that clerk! When you bully a kid outside the library or movie theater in my presence, I will defend that kid. When you mistreat a child, even if it's yours, I'll defend that child. All of those people are afforded the same rights you are, and when you infringe on their rights you forfeit your own and you suffer the consequences. I cannot say what those consequences will be, that depends on the circumstances surrounding your dishonor. But I'll no longer remain silent or idly stand by. I swore an oath and my word is my sacred honor...

     I, Tracy Alan Luegge, do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So. Help. Me. God.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

It's been a while...

     WOW! Has it really been since April of last year that I wrote anything here? I had to go back to that last post to see what news I had then. So, let’s pick up where we left off shall we?

     Health wise since the last post I had a squamous cell carcinoma (a very common form of skin cancer) removed from my right cheek and more recently a mole on my back biopsied. The numbers are all still stable and after 2014 rang in with the flu, I plan on getting back on the exercise wagon. Much, but not all, of the loss of range of motion in my wrists has gone away but there’s still plenty of progress to be made. We’ve started walking the dog, yes just one, we lost Sally a few months ago. The search is now beginning for another fur child as Magnus has become very lonely without her and clings to us as though we are leaving him too. That’s the physical health news.

     As for emotional/mental health, that’s another story. I can’t help but continue to ask myself why it feels like I've fought my way through hell and BACK and feel like I have to give up one more thing I love...? What more must I surrender? What more cost is there to pay? Is being reborn worth it if I am forced to let everything go, material, family and friends now thousands of miles away, dreams of where I wanted to be, goals I had set…  Because some days I'm not sure I have what it takes to let it all go for this, to beat cancer.

      I feel I need to draw the line here, with the food I eat, with my truck, with my shop. I'm through sacrificing for a disease that I feel I've already conquered or for a plan of God's that I can't see... Why can't He just show me? Even a clue? Am I that untrustworthy that He thinks I'd abandon Him, after all this?!?

     Or is this just all the drugs talking... I don't know who I am or who I want to be anymore and the harder I try to make sense of it all, the harder I try to figure it all out, the more confused and discouraged I get.

     Seems like piecing life back together post cancer ain’t so easy for some. I’ve had a cognitive test to determine if there was any appreciable loss of brain function but everything looks fine according to the doctors (go ahead, crack your jokes).  I also continue to see a counselor but again, as with the past counseling, things are getting to a point where it’s not needed or rather it’s not improving things. It would seem that the rest is up to me now and to that end I recently purchased a used table saw listed on Craigslist, had a very good friend help me wire in some 220V outlets and rewire my 110 dust collector to run on 220. Just a bit more cleaning and rearranging in the garage and it ought to look like a proper woodshop. I’ll be starting small with projects like bird houses, garden structures and maybe a few gift items I have in mind. I’ve also talked to a (not so) local high school instructor who requested some volunteer help in his classes. He’s new to teaching and as you can imagine with four classes of 20+ freshmen and sophomores in a wood shop there is a lot of potential for accidents, teenagers being teenagers and all. I’ve met with him and signed the requisite paperwork then had to wait for a TB test which I now have the results of but need to finish kicking this flu to the curb. I’ve also decided to take a couple of classes at the local college, a book making class and one other have caught my fancy, just to see how well I might do in school learning skills toward a new career.  I still have plans to get the truck back on the road this year too, she’s been neglected far too long…

     So I hope things are well with all of you, I know they’re looking up for me, I just have to keep fanning the flames of hope! I'll leave you with one last bit of wisdom and that is this; I learned a very valuable lesson last year while on a lengthy vacation. We nearly passed on visiting a very good friend and his family as we had set a busy schedule, but decided we would make it work. When I called him late that evening he said they could probably visit for half an hour or so, that visit turned into several hours of all of our kids romping around their small farm and house and the adults sitting at the kitchen table nibbling on finger foods and reminiscing and catching up. It was one of the best times I ever had with him... A couple of weeks later we returned home and found out that he had tragically lost his life in an automobile accident. All that to say this, take EVERY SINGLE OPPORTUNITY that comes your way to visit with those close to you and if they don't present themselves then do what you have to to make it happen. It's been said more times than anyone cares to think about but it bears repeating: You never know when your time is up, so make the best of it while you can. I miss you Adam, but I will NEVER forget you my friend. Godspeed!