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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Not-so-best-of-times

Tuesday was the best of times… and it was the not-so-best-of-times. I shared the joyous news of my Lovely Bride’s victory.
Tuesday was also the day I had my ultrasound on my legs. If you read “Unexpected Hills”, you are familiar with an unexpected hill I am climbing. The bugger just got a bit steeper.
We arrived at the vascular surgeon’s office a few minutes early. In order to hide our anxiousness, we flipped through the usual collection of magazines.
Finally, my name was called. The assistant led us to the ultrasound room.  The array of machines, computer monitors, and such was intimidating. The door swung open, and a pleasant woman came sweeping in, holding my chart.
“Hi, I am Anne. I will be performing the ultrasound today. Why do you think you have PAD?” after a brief exchange, verifying that I was indeed there for a reason, and not just the thrill of having an ultrasound, the test proceeded.
Frankly, I am glad Lovely Bride was there. Taking off one’s pants in the presence of another woman is a bit un-nerving. I climbed upon the examination table, covering myself with a huge paper blanket, and tried to relax.
After attaching the blood-pressure cuffs to my arms, thighs, calves and ankles, Anne proceeded to plug in all the little air lines, and pressed the button which inflated each one as was desired.  From the expression on her face, I could see all was not as it should be. 
Upon my asking, she told us (I am so grateful for an honest, open medical technologist) while at rest, my leg has 66% blood flow. The other leg, by comparison, has 100% flow. Cheerfully she added, “It is good you came in early. Many people put it off, and by the time they get to me, there isn’t much the surgeon can do.”  I was not encouraged.
From this warm-up act, we proceeded to the main event. The ultrasound itself; I asked for a print of the blockage to post on my Facebook page. She regretted to inform me they no longer print images, the senior physician removed the printers in order to save on expenses.
The upshot was, I have not one, not twins, but more than likely triplets! Three blockages! Their names are Earl, Eunice, and Archibald. Anne was not satisfied that I did indeed have some blockages. She needed to confirm it. This entailed walking up and down the office building hallway (yes, I had my jeans on) at a fairly good clip. After 3 minutes and 10 seconds, the cramping got to the “gotta take a break” point.  We hustled back to the blood pressure cuffs for a re-test. This time, after exercising, my right leg had a blood flow of 32%! My left leg was a happy 100 %. While being somewhat of a show-off, I was grateful that side was good.
OH… for some added fun; she also scanned my carotid arteries. My left is less than 20% blocked, but my right….that is 50% blocked. “Oh, don’t be concerned about that. The doctors don’t even become interested until it is 80% or more.”, she declared. Yahoo.
We met with a surgeon, reviewing everything with him. A very nice man, he informed me the blockages are called claudation, a Greek word meaning “to limp”. I thought “Horse poop, pal. It is a word meaning ‘Man, this hurts like crazy! I can hardly walk!”
I think he is a frustrated comic, who couldn’t make it doing standup, so he decided to fall back on vascular surgery. He said the funniest thing! With a perfectly straight face, he stated:”The best thing you can do to help this blockage, and prevent further blockages is walk a half-hour a day.” 
My expression must have betrayed my incredulity. Then he said, “How are you going to do that, when you walked a little over three minutes before having to stop?”
“No kidding, Sherlock.” I thought. This guy is crazy as a loon! Did he introduce himself as Dr. DeSade?
“What you are going to do is take a lawn chair or folding stool with you. Use the stopwatch on your wrist watch or phone. When you start walking, start the watch. Walk until it is burning with pain. When you have to stop, stop the watch. Sit and recover. Get up, start the watch and walking again. Do that as many times as you need until you have walked a half hour.”
He then went into the medical reasons about collateral blood vessels, blah, blah. How they tell all their PAD patients to walk, and probably less than 10% do.  Hark! The sound of a gauntlet being thrown down was deafening. This person, whom I had only met 5 minutes ago, was challenging me to do this! Who does he think he is!? I will show him, by golly!
I was pretty depressed the remainder of Tuesday. A well meaning friend at work made the statement about the difficulty of facing our mortality. I could not care less about Death; I know I win at that time. What really, really bothered me was the thought that I may be getting old. THAT is what bothered me.  I am not about to become one of those elderly people who can’t do anything.
So… tonight, I undertook my walk. I downloaded a nifty stopwatch ap to my phone. Off to the park I went. I set off at a lively pace, the gravel of the path crunching under my feet. I looked at the watch; I had surpassed the 3 minute mark. Ha! Then, at 4 minutes I hobbled up to a park bench, plopping down.
My leg was unbelievably painful. I gazed at the numerals…4:04.  I had a long way to go. I set off, again. This time, about six minutes passed until I had to rest. I may be able to do this, I was thinking. My longest stint was over ten minutes. I was motivated to press on by the prospect of using a bench between wooded ponds, laden with mosquitoes.  I would rather have a sore leg, than become a target for skeeters.
I concluded my walk with a total of thirty-five minutes and fifteen seconds of actual walking time. It took about fifty minutes to walk for half an hour.
But… I did it! I will do this tomorrow, the next day, and the day after.
I have no other choice.

Best of Times

Yesterday was somewhat reminiscent of Charles Dickens... It was the best of times; and it was the not- so-best-of times.

As victory is often fleeting; the laurel wreaths begin to wilt and the ticker-tape gets swept up, I would like to expand upon the best of times.

As some of you may know, my Lovely Bride and I were participants in a weight loss contest sponsored by our local newspaper. Called “Lighten Up 2013”, this program began in February of this year. It ran until the end of July, 2013

My initial blogs appeared under the Lighten Up blog site, and they can now be found in the older posts of this site. The reader may wish to take a glance at some of these, as they will provide a great deal of background, as well as a few giggles.

The criteria were the participants must blog once a week, and must have lost 5% of their starting weight by the mid-point of the contest duration.
Sixty-eight people began this trek....and soon began dropping like flies.

Some said “forget this”, others couldn't blog, and, sadly, some gained weight.

As the mid-point approached with the elimination weigh-in, we both had some nervousness.
Yours truly got eliminated, missing the required 5% loss by 18 ounces.
LB made it with room to spare.

She attended a charitable fund-raiser in our town, part of which was a Chinese Auction. Why this is called a “Chinese Auction”; I have no idea. For the reader who is not familiar with this type of event, this is how they function.
A person purchases a number of tickets. Displayed on tables are an array of items, from gift certificates, to wine baskets, to children's toys and so forth. One simply drops their ticket or tickets in the container designated for that particular item. At an appointed time, a ticket is drawn; and the recipient of that item is determined.
At this event, one of the items was a year's membership to a fitness center. Lovely Bride dropped her ticket in the bag, and went on to other items. Lo and behold, she was the winner of the membership!
This also included a complimentary session with a personal trainer.
When they met, LB told the young man what her motivation was; winning this contest. He put together a very concise, demanding, and affordable program for her.
This more than likely got her past the elimination weigh-in.

All the folks who cleared that hurdle received a free 3 month membership to our local Y. This was great news for my Lovely Bride; as the Y has a very nice pool. She took to the water exercise classes, the swimming classes, etc well, like a duck to water.
She worked very, very hard. Her discipline regarding diet was inspiring. Rain, shine, feeling great or feeling ugh.. she would keep going.

For my part, I did try to be supportive. Not once did I suggest a drive to the local ice-cream stand in the evening. I didn't bring in cookies, chips or other “junk” food.

In fact, one day, one of our grand-daughters was joining us for lunch. She really wanted Doritos.

Being the good grandfather I am, a trip to the convenient store produced a bag of Doritos. When our daughter stopped by to pick up her daughter, the remainder of the Doritos went home with them, at my insistence. I didn't want to trip up my Lovely Bride.

So... the best of times.....
Yesterday, the FINAL WEIGH-IN took place. This was for all the marbles. Well, not really marbles, as that would not be particularly motivating. Only three places could be earned, based upon percentage of body weight lost.
I watched as she nervously stepped upon Laura's Ultimate Scale of Truth. I peeked over her shoulder at the number being displayed, quickly entering it into the ap on my phone. My eyes popped wide. I couldn't believe the percentage displayed!

Thinking I had made an error, I entered it again.

As the figure was coming up on my screen, I heard Laura state the exact same figure.

Then... the announcement.....
My Lovely Bride... came in SECOND! She is now 3/4s of the woman she was back in January!!

And, second is what she wanted; as the prize is a family membership to the local Y, which she hopes I take advantage of.
I am so proud of her! She is tough, determined, and tenacious.

She succeeded in this endeavor through hard work, discipline, and staying focused on the outcome.
Now, she faces a greater challenge, which I am confident she will also succeed in.
If the reader is interested, go to Perform a name search for
Cindy Quinn-Hopkins.
And, that is all I have to say about that.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Unexpected Hills

Sometimes while traversing the topography of our lives, we find ourselves making an unexpected ascent. Typically, hills and heights are discernible well in advance. The “biggies”; such as weddings, the births of children, graduations, milestone birthdays; are visible on the horizon awaiting our feet to tread their myriad, always new trails
Sometimes, though, while we are moseying along enjoying ourselves in a sun dappled lush glen filled with fragrant blossoms, our feet suddenly find themselves on an up-ward trek.  An un-expected, un-seen rise is smack in our path. There is no going around, no going through; only continue climbing.
Recently, I encountered just such a height.
It began with Charley horse cramps in my legs while working out, then when I was on the bike, then the treadmill or just walking. Finally, after several months of taking extra potassium, drinking more fluids and stretching before working out, all to no avail; I broke down & went to my Doctor.
I have been diagnosed with Peripheral Artery Disease. As seen on TV!!  Wooo-Hooo!
Peripheral Artery Disease is a medical term meaning “Hey! You have a Big-Mac stuck in your artery!”  Therefore, the course of treatment is to get rid of that sucker.
Within the next week and a half, I will undergo an ultrasound to determine the location, size, first name of the blockage.  After having established a relationship with the blockage (for some reason, I can envision it being named “Earl”), I will then take a somewhat passive role in a procedure called “an angiogram”.  Again, for the lay-reader, this is another medical term meaning “we are gonna shove this here little wire thingy in your artery and root around for a bit. Just gonna see what we can turn up.”
Dependent upon the results of the angiogram, the vascular surgeon (WHY does the word “surgeon” always make me think of Weird Al Yankovich?) will determine whether to use an angioplasty (a fancy way of saying “gonna blow up this little balloon gizmo”), insert a stent (“Uh-oh.. gotta use a reinforcing pipe”), or ask my Lovely Bride if she is busy 3 weeks from Saturday, as the funeral should be over by then.
Initially, I was not going to bore you to tears with this rather mundane, developing story. Then it occurred to me, a chunk of kielbasa could break loose and find itself taking up residence in a cerebral blood vessel. I can’t imagine writing very well with a hunk of sausage lodged in a brain vein.
I have shared this bit of news with our children, as I did not want to continue a tradition in my family of not divulging medical issues until a month after the fact. It annoyed me beyond words when my Dad, living in Southwest Florida at the time, would casually mention during a phone conversation about the Cleveland Indians, “Oh… by the way, I had a heart attack last month. They did a couple balloon things in my aorta, I feel pretty good now.”  When queried as to why he didn’t tell us earlier, his answer was always the same “Oh, I didn’t want to worry you kids.” Gee, great call, Dad. Don’t let us know anything; therefore we can worry all the time!
Since Thursday when the PAD was confirmed, I have been giving this a reasonable amount of thought.
My diet, while not a shining example of vegan lifestyle, is not absolutely horrible, either. I don’t have my picture on the Wall of Fame in any restaurants or pizza joints, which is a plus. Six out of seven mornings, I have Cheerios, some fruit, and black coffee to start my day. Typically, I bring my lunch from home, a much healthier and cost effective mid-day repast. We don’t have pop (“soda” to you non Midwesterners), chips, cookies, etc, etc at home.  I was exercising with regularity until I got pneumonia this past spring. 
However, there is a factor over which I have no control: Genetics.  My family history is rife with folks who have cashed in their chips early due to heart attacks or strokes.  There is a long and growing list of survivors of heart attacks, strokes, and as I once had “a cardiac event”. Comparing notes with my sister, who once had a “cardiac incident”, we determined an “event” is a much happier, joyous occurrence than an “incident”. An “event” is short-lived, and everyone goes home happy. An “incident” remains in your Personal Record. Forever.
And the possibility of having a stent inserted really ain’t all bad. 
Consider this; it took 3 score years to get clogged up. I figure I now have 6 decades during which I can have super-sized greasy Fair Fries, fried cheese on a stick, bacon on cheese on bacon sandwiches, all manner of good stuff before I need to worry about this.  Talk about a green light to have a fried culinary festival!
So, I have taken my first dose of cholesterol lowering medication. I had a grilled skinless chicken breast over lettuce, red, yellow, and green pepper salad for dinner. Tomorrow morning, I will awaken in eager anticipation of a bowl-full of blood vessel scouring Cheerios. And, I will be one day closer to having resolve.
Keep me in your prayers.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Techno Wonders

The other day at my office some of us received an invitation to attend a webinar. For those who may not be as technically savvy as I, (HAAA... that is good for a laugh!), a webinar is a fairly recent “how-to-maximize-your-time-and-save-money” business tool. In theory.

A webinar combines the mind-numbing boredom of a live seminar, complete with monotone presenters, who incorporate “Umm” “ahhh”, and lame jokes, all while being shared with hundreds of “attendees” via the Internet simultaneously. The primary difference is the attendee can partake from the relative comfort of their desk, or home office, or vehicle rather than being crammed into a too-small, too crowded, too stuffy meeting room. One can attend with confidence knowing the technological advances of the 21st Century will function flawlessly
Talk about a recipe for disaster.
Initially, one receives an “e-vite” ( a special way to say an e-mail is inviting you to attend) the webinar.

Typically, in order to respond and “reserve your spot, space is limited” (sure it is), you have to click on the blue “hot-link” or “hyper-link” (I refer to this as the “blue words with a line under them”), which will automatically, effortlessly, and instantly direct you to the registration site. Sometimes.
As likely as not, you will be directed to a website offering “Hot Ukrainian Women” or one touting “One weird old trick to STOP aging”.
This, in turn, sets off a flurry of meaningless e-mails from a horde of self-important people, all advising of the issue. While everyone is in agreement that the sky is indeed falling, and Western civilization as we know it will certainly cease to exist, no one has a solution.
Finally, an e-mail to “ all HQ” is sent from a corner office occupant. This e-mail states “an unfortunate programmer error had occurred” and that “all has been corrected”.
However, having been sent to everyone in the building, a mini-blizzard of e-mails from people who were not originally intended to take part in the webinar now follows.

Which, in turn, triggers an “all HQ” e-mail (this time from an Administrative Assistant) stating ONLY the parties who received the initial e-vite are to attend the webinar.

The mini-blizzard of e-mails is now reduced to a mere light flurry, and tapers off after an hour or so.
All of the above requires a new e-vite being sent/responded to. This in turn generates another e-mail, thanking you for registering, with a new link to use the day of the webinar.

By this time, you have spent approximately 1.87 hours of your day on this event, having to read and reply to the various messages.
Finally, the Big Day arrives. Your Outlook Calendar reminds you 2 hours in advance of the webinar that you have a webinar. A little screen pops-up, reminding you of what you already know. Dutifully, you click snooze. The little box goes away. For fifteen minutes. Then, it pops up again, telling you the webinar will take place in 1 and ¾ hours. A little less fondly, you click “snooze”, this time hoping the little man in charge of the calendar gets the message. Fifteen minutes later, in the midst of reviewing a complex excel spreadsheet... a little box pops up, telling you the webinar will take place in 1 hour and 30 minutes. You click snooze, with the knowledge you will be nagged to death by this idiotic reminder until you click “dismiss”. However, you are reluctant to do so, as you may be involved in something at the time of the webinar, and miss the whole thing.
Then, the Magic Moment comes. You go to your calendar, open the event saved, and with confidence click on the hyper-link. And wait. And wait. And....wait.
You see the little e-mail balloons floating up on your screen. Apparently, there is a “glitch”, not to worry, IT will reconfigure the portal, and all will be fine.

Approximately 15 minutes later your blank screen comes to life!

Oh happy day! There is the presenter's outline, snappy graphics, and a plethora of emoticons.
You dial the toll free number to give you access to the audio, and are greeted by a polyglot of babble as people log in. The presenter requests several times that everyone put their phone on “mute”. The noise subsides.... except....what only two people know is.... SOMEONE has been designated the “don't mute your phone” person.
It goes like this.
Late at night, a call is made from the waterfront on a pre-paid cell phone. The call is received by another pre-paid cell phone within a vehicle deep in a forested area. The following ensues.
“Is this Gina?”
“Yes, who is this?”
“Mr. Big.”
“Mr. Big! Oh my gosh! Couldn't you be more creative? HAA that is hilarious!”
“Come on! Get with it, Okay? The cow bays at the moonlight”
“Oh alright... the dog goes to the milking parlor.”
“Good. Do you know the purpose of this call?”
“ I think... is it to say I won Publisher's Clearing House?”
“Come on, will you?? No, you are the designated person.”
“Are you kidding me? I am the one this time? I don't want that!”
“Too bad... it is a burden we must all share.”
“But why me?? Let one of the new people be the one to not mute their phone!”
“Gina, this is important! We need someone skilled, who is able to remain off the radar, and stay quiet.”
“Sigh... if I have to. Can I just leave my phone at the gas station again?”
“That was good, but a lot of people could still hear. I was thinking along the lines of a saw-mill or a rock quarry during blasting.”
“Okay, I will do what I can do.”
“Great... I knew I could count on you.”
And.. the mystery as to why there is always that one person who creates all the background noise is revealed.
Unlike the good old days when people would attend a live seminar or group meeting; there is nothing to look around at during a webinar. Back in the day, you could look at other attendees, make mental notes about their hairstyle, or out-dated suit. You could gaze out a window, watching butterflies racing in the distance. If nothing else, you could wonder how long it would take the speaker to realize their pants were unzipped, and how they would casually close the matter.
Not so with a webinar.
You have stared at the confines of your office or cubical for at least 40 hours a week. You are more familiar with it than you are your own kids. Tough to daydream here. “Ah Ha!” you think, “I will play games on my computer!” With a smug smile you click on the start menu, go to games, and then come to the awful realization that your computer is locked, and you cannot deviate from the webinar screen!

Oh what to do??
Your cell phone buzzes. A text message from a co-worker, also bored beyond words, wondering how you are faring on the call. You reply briefly. Another text pops up. Before long, you are exchanging jokes and witticisms about the call and wondering who in the world is in a saw mill.
Finally, you hear those most welcome words “So, in conclusion...”. You breathe a sigh of relief. You see on the time-meter on your phone that 77 minutes have passed, and you don't recall A THING that was said.
You hang up. You see the e-mail balloons popping up... people wondering what the call was about, and “Who the heck was stuck in the saw mill?!?”
Thus endeth a 21st Century webinar.





















Thursday, July 18, 2013

Heat Wave

We have been having a heat wave in Ohio. For some of you, our heat wave is a “nice day”.
For the past week or so, it has been very hot and very humid. Very tropical feeling.
This should not come as a big surprise to us Buckeyes.
It happens every year about this time.
Yet, we get surprised, flustered, and whine.
We are a people with very short term memory issues where the weather is concerned.

We tend to be surprised when we see the first snow-fall in November (or October, or September), we know it is going to happen; still we are dumb-founded when it does.
Northern Ohio is a weatherman's dream, or nightmare; depending upon one's attitude toward challenges. Years ago, my Lovely Bride worked at one of the local television stations. Her regular shift was the weekend production crew. Upon occasion, I would go down to the station to visit with her, grab a quick dinner between news-casts, and rub elbows with the local luminaries.
I always enjoyed visiting with the meteorologists. Most were not natives to Ohio, having come from places with much more mundane weather, such as the Carolinas, or Florida. It gets boring to say it is going to be sunny, 85 °, and chance of afternoon showers day after day. Due to the tremendous climate influence Lake Erie has, plus the heat and humidity oozing up the Mississippi River valley to the Great Lakes makes things interesting. Toss in the ever-present possibility of cool, dry Canadian air slipping over the border; the sheer number of variables present were a never ending delight to these folks. I would be amused at their unbridled enthusiasm and delight as they would watch dark storm clouds roll in from across the open waters of the Lake.
So cute, so adorable; just like a child going to their first carnival. After a couple of carnivals, the charm wears thin. You tire of cotton candy stuck to your shoes, and sitting in someone's spilled Coke. So it is with the weather. One becomes weary of knowing the clouds will either dump a bunch of snow, or bring flooding rains, or power-line destroying winds. Like over-used French fry oil; it tends to stink after a while.
I am a somewhat avid historical researcher and writer; as evidenced by my book 1850: Death on Erie.
On a whim, I decided to research the origins of some of the Native American names attributed to areas around here.
“Cuyahoga” for example, is an Erie Indian word meaning “crooked, like a snake”. “Erie” itself is a Native word meaning “cat”, more than likely a reference to the bob-cats and mountain lions which once lived upon the Northern Shore of Ohio. The neighboring county of “Geauga” is an Anglicized version of “Sheoga”... which means “raccoon”, again paying homage to the abundance of the little masked critters in the area.
I did a good bit of research into the origins of “Ohio”. After much digging, and research, the consensus is the word Ohio derives from the Seneca word “ohi;yo” which means “beautiful river”, or “great river”

However, while the name is no-doubt of Native origin, I am convinced beyond all doubt the meaning is different
The original meaning of the word was:

Land between big water and big river, with totally messed up weather.”
Only in Ohio, can a person be driving to work with the early morning temperature already hitting 82 °, only to pass a Chevy dealership having a Winter Pickup/Snow-plow Special!
Only in Ohio, can you use your air conditioning AND furnace within 24 hours.

Only in Ohio can you be enjoying a beautiful Fall or Spring day, sunny, warm, perfect weather; only to wake up and find 6 inches of snow in your driveway the next morning.
Only in Ohio can you dress for cold and snow when you leave your house, only to be stripping off layers as the thermometer shoots past 75.
Only in Ohio, can you feel as if you are deep in a Louisiana bayou come Summer, and feel as if you are deep in the Alaskan tundra come Winter.
Still... it is just these vagaries which make us who we are.

We tend to not get flustered over little upsets. Hey, it is part of life. Just wait a bit; it will change.

We tend to be easily adaptable to the unforeseen. When you grow up not being assured that your golf jacket will be adequate in a few hours, you learn how to adapt and adjust.

We tend to be fairly tough. This isn't any place for sissies or pansies!
And... we tend to be a little bit goofy. Hey, living with constant seemingly mindless random change can do that to a person.
I sit and smile, even though the office air-conditioning is on hiatus, knowing in just a few short months, I will be using my four-wheel drive in the snow.
Ohio... ya gotta love it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

My Lovely Bride... the comedian

My Lovely Bride is a genial, friendly, out-going person. She has a great sense of humor, laughs at most (well, some) of my stupid jokes, and has been know to come up some good rib-ticklers on her own.
The other day, though, she hit me squarely between the eyes with a real knee-slapper.

It was so funny... heee heee.. I get the giggles thinking about it. She told me-oh my gosh.. I can hardly keep from laughing aloud- she told me out of the blue.... now get this- Oh man, I am shaking with laughter- here it comes--- ready? She said “Our grandson will be 21 this week.”. BWAHHHAHHH!

What amazed me, is she delivered this side-splitter with a perfectly straight face! Oh my gosh.. the woman is GOOD!.

I was about to double over in a fit of hysterics, when I noted through my tears of mirth....she was not laughing with me. Being the astute husband and male that I am, my initial reaction was “Uh Oh.”
I caught my breath, straightened up, and asked her (as seriously as I could) to repeat what she had said. This time, with an icy stare that would stop a freight train, she stated our grandson was going to be 21.

I looked about me dumbfounded, which is my usual expression.
“How can this be?” I thought. My mind raced back over the years.... born, little kid, elementary school, Jr. High, Sr. High, College, Married.. yep... my math came up with me being 20 years old. How could it even be physically possible for me to have a 21 year old grand child??
“Just whose teeny-weeny foot prints in the cement do you think these are?” I stared blankly at the tiny toes, narrow little feet, and the initials “DJH...1993” AH-HA! I thought! I pointed out the date to my Lovely Bride, thereby proving I did NOT have a 21 year old grandchild. Smugly, I informed her that “1993” is only 20 years. She then, equally as smugly, pointed out the lad was close to a year old when the sidewalk was replaced, and we dipped his tiny tootsies in the cement.
The enormity of what she was suggesting hit me like a bucket of ice-water. Too stunned to move, I collapsed on the front step, my mind a-buzz with thought. LB patted me on the shoulder as she went indoors to enjoy the air-conditioning. I thought I detected a slight chuckle as she shut the door behind her.
I considered Einstein and the Theory of Relativity... apparently, for some odd reason, my life has been progressing at the speed of light. Since I have been traveling at light speed it appears as though there is no linear movement what so ever. THAT is why things appear to remain stationary. In reality, I am zipping along, cramming a whole life-time of experiences into only a couple short months.
The other possibility I could come up with entailed a minor warp in the space-time continuum. This in turn created a difficult to discern worm-hole into which I had slipped. While I am still 20, everyone around me is aging. Life is advancing at a phenomenal rate. Therefore, the idea of “having a 21 year old grandchild” is merely an illusion; not unlike being in a fun-house (what an oxymoron that is. They are neither “fun” nor a “house”) hall of mirrors. Except these mirrors, rather than making one appear to be really tall & skinny or truncated and broad; cause everyone about the viewer to appear older.

In fact, they are so good, they even make the viewer appear old!

What a ludicrous idea! How can a 20 year old be folliclely challenged, have a shortage of pigment in the hair and beard, look to be about 35 pounds heavier, and have such wrinkled skin were it not for the “tricks” of the “mirror”?
I chuckled to myself, shaking my head. Arising, I went indoors and looked at my Lovely Bride. Yep, she is still that chestnut haired, blue-eyed beauty who took my breath away when I first saw her!

Getting old... what a silly, silly thought.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

containers I have known

While moseying around the office the other day, I heard a feminine squeal of delight. As the squeal emanated from the Credit Department, I naturally assumed someone had discovered a missing nickel hidden in the P&L statement. As it turned out, I was mistaken.
The source of the unbridled joy was much simpler yet no means less puzzling.
One department member had presented another department member with an empty plastic tub! Not a large, pack your bathroom in it tub, nor even your sock drawer.  It was a small clear plastic affair, which had been formerly utilized to convey cookies from the store to the place of their consumption.
Noting my puzzled expression, the recipient of the tub exclaimed “You can never have too many plastic containers.”
I have to admit, this was the first time I had ever heard plastic containers held in such high regard.
Typically, one usually expects the “can’t have too much” appellation applied to money, love, family, good health, and so forth. Plastic containers, though? Not usually. She then enthused how great they are for storing food, snacks, etc. I politely mentioned something along the lines of “Mazel tov!”, smiled and went on my way.
Naturally, this caused no end to my thinking of food storage and the ubiquitous plastic container.
The “never too many plastic containers” line raised some doubts in my mind. From my fairly limited perspective of having raised a family of four children, I can’t ever recall a time when I lamented a shortage of plastic tubs. In fact, the opposite was, and is, usually the case.
Have you ever watched those late night infomercials touting the world’s most efficient organized containers and storage system? The “before” scenes could have been filmed on any given day at our house. We have a cupboard which is dedicated solely to the storing of tubs and their related kin. The door to this cupboard has “CAUTION Open with Care” in 3 languages emblazoned across it. When one grasps the door pull, a ship’s horn sounds, and a recorded voice proclaims “Warning! You are about to open Cupboard of Doom! Warning!”    Failure to promptly release the knob, continuing to open the door, causes the recorded voice to say “Don’t blame me. I warned you!” 
Upon opening the door, you hear the ominous rumble from deep within. You feel a trembling beneath your feet. Looking down, you watch as thousands upon thousands of mismatched containers, lids, cups, etc spill in slow motion about your feet, quickly swallowing up not only you, but the entire kitchen.
That has always been my experience with plastic containers. Not only do they multiply at night, they fail to do so in an orderly manner. One day, you will have lids, with a shortage of bottoms. The next day, you have bottoms, the same number of lids, but only ONE set actually fit together! And they aren’t the same color, but a hybrid mix.
Also, containers tend to be most unruly, even when they are “designed to stack together”. We have been duped by this slick line more times than a fat guy wheeling into Dairy Queen. They may stack together when brand new, in their neat packaging. You may even be able to stack them neatly in your cupboard, assuming you have disposed of all the other containers you had and are starting from new. Assuming you never need to use one, the containers remain neatly stacked together.
There, dear reader,  is the fly in the proverbial ointment. Take just ONE of those neatly stacked, precisely arranged containers and lids away….and the whole lot simply refuses to stack with any semblance of order. In a silent revolt, they pretend to be nice and orderly, only to cascade upon the floor just before you can slam the door shut, bracing it with a 2X4 and half-dozen nails. You can hear them laughing as they plot their impudent rebellion: “Hey, Al! You are smaller than Herb. Let him climb on top of you. Now, Betty, you perch on the very edge of Herb. Yeah! Perfect! When the door opens, you 3 will start to fall, the rest of us will try to “save you”, only to all spill out! HAA!”
“Well,” you may be thinking, “I just won’t use any of the containers.” At first the simplicity of this decision is pure elegance. Then… the inevitable happens.
There is that one 1990s vintage container way back in the fridge, holding leftover sweet potato casserole from Christmas, 2011. You find it while seeking unsuccessfully for the jar of Stadium Mustard you know you had right back there. After surviving emptying the contents in a bio-hazard bag and disposing of them in accordance with all appropriate federal, state, and local laws, you have scrubbed and sanitized the container. Now, you confidently open the door to place the now pristine container & lid inside. Alas! The ridiculous thing doesn’t fit! Not anywhere!
Collapsing in a sodden mass of tears, you clutch the formerly goldenrod colored contraption to your breast.  With a shudder, you pull yourself to your feet. Slowly, ceremoniously, you proceed across the kitchen floor. The haunting sound of “Taps” echoes from somewhere in the living room.  Breathing a heavy sigh, you lift the lid of the trash can to solemnly deposit the old relic atop this morning’s egg shells.  You prepare a cup of coffee, relax, and ponder what archeologists 3,000 years from now will determine the purpose of the thing was.
It is now lunch time. I take up my insulated bag, and head to the break room. I feel the weight of the plastic container which snugly cradles my noon-time repast. It sits there, awaiting the onslaught of microwave, the indignity of knife and fork, a hap-hazard rinsing out before being tossed back in the bag to receive a proper washing upon returning home, all in stoic silence.
Perhaps the things do have a purpose after all….

Friday, July 12, 2013

Mosquitoes, ticks, and Noah

I was chatting with a couple co-workers today about the wonders and joys of Summer.

We extolled the beauty of the flowers, the sensation of an old-fashioned hand packed ice-cream cone, the raw power of a good thunderstorm, and the feeling of contentment felt on a soft summer night watching lightning bugs illuminate the yard.
After a brief lull, the conversation turned to those less-than appreciated Summer time things.

Hair frizzing humidity (for those who have hair, that is), omnipresent background air conditioner hums, grilling one's derriere on a leather car seat (having forgotten to put the sun-shade up), and bugs. Not cute, charming bugs like lightning bugs, or lady bugs, or even praying mantis'. We were not referring to those sometimes annoying, yet useful bugs like bees and spiders. Heck, even flies, as disgusting as they are, have a reason for existing. Not a great reason; but a reason never the less.
We were talking about gross, disgusting, what-is-their-purpose-for-being bugs. You know the culprits: mosquitoes, ticks, and gnats. Here along the Great Lakes we also have a charming little entomological member called a number of names. I will only relate the ones which can be printed in a family blog: mayfly, midges, and Canadian soldiers. There are many, many more colorful, fitting names affixed to these harmless pests, which shall go unwritten. EVERY freaking Spring, as the temperatures rise, the frozen soil along the lake shore, banks of rivers and streams begins to warm This serves as the Annual Wake Up Call for the little things. After stretching, looking about with a “where am I?” expression on their little faces, the midge/mayfly/Canadian soldier, feels the warmth of the sun upon the soil above.

Curiosity piqued by this strange (to them) occurrence, they begin to wriggle their way upward. Finally, one bursts forth into glorious sunshine! Having received these glad tidings of good news, the assembled masses determines the thing to do is also partake of the day. What began as only a couple adventurous souls checking out a brave new world has become a flipping swarm of insects! They are about the size of a mosquito, light brown in color, and they are E-V-E-R-Y where. On the doors and windows of buildings. On the doors and windows of vehicles. On sidewalks, on tables, chairs, walls. They fly up your nose, in your ears, and eyes. It is as though the miserable little buggers were re-enacting a Biblical plague! Fortunately, they do not sting or bite. In fact, they don't have a mouth. They only live 24-36 hours, and their only reason to exist is to mate, so the female can lay eggs in the soft earth which will in turn hatch. In essence, they were born to par-tay! Only, without expensive candle light dinners and Barry White singing in the background.

But, hey, they go into this fully knowing there is no long term commitment. In fact, there is no long term anything. But... to a Steelhead Trout, or a Coho Salmon, a yellow-perch, and myriads of pan-fish; they are a moveable feast. Consensus was the lowly midge/ mayfly/Canadian soldier does serve a noble, if overlooked, purpose.
The topic of ticks and mosquitoes then came up. After much debate, and finding only the beneficial contribution of feeding some fish, birds and bats, mosquitoes are pretty much worthless. In fact, their BAD contributions far out-weigh their GOOD contributions.

As far as ticks were concerned, no discernible positive virtue could be found
Which, in turn, posed another, far more weighty question:
Why didn't Noah “forget” to pick up ticks and mosquitoes?
I know he was being obedient to God, and following the whole “two of each kind of creature” instruction... but come on. Mosquitoes? Ticks?
Of course, it may have been a bit dicey for the old boy ( he was 600 hundred years old by the time the rain came) when God showed up for inventory. Can you imagine??
Early in the trip, skies darkened by clouds, rain (which no one had ever seen before)falling in sheets, springs bursting forth from the earth, the ship is tossing, and.. rolling, ...and.... tossing......and..... excuse me a minute.
Ahh... much better now.

Noah, Mrs. Noah, his sons and daughters-in-law sit staring at one another, wondering who is going to be the first one to suggest cleaning out the lower decks.

Suddenly, a brilliant flash of light, a roar like many water-falls, and God has arrived on board. Hey, He is God, so He doesn't have to request permission to come aboard.

“Noah! So, how goes it? The cruise been pretty good so far?”
“Yes, Lord. So far so good.”
“Wonderful! Well, let's take inventory, shall we?”
“Of course, to see that all my creatures are accounted for.”
“OH.. that inventory. Umm... You want to do that now?”
“Of course. No time like the present, I always say! Haaa.. that is funny! I transcend Time, so there is no time constraint upon me! Haaa... well, shall we?”

And the Almighty leads Noah below decks.
“Ahh, yes. Giraffes, elephants, sheep, dogs, cats. Wonderful. Oh! Here they are! My most puzzling conundrum; the duck-billed platypus! I can't wait to see how scientists try to explain this one! HAAA!"

"Good, garter snakes, Gila lizards, yes, even a Mombasa... very well done. Okay, lets take a look at the birds."
Noah is beginning to squirm a bit, as he knows what is coming next.
“Perfect.. eagles, sparrows, robins, ducks, geese, gulls, parrots, cockatoos... very well done, my boy. Time for the creepy crawlies. Yes, yes, grasshoppers, moths, butterflies, midges, spiders. Very impressive. Even termites...well, well.”
“Thank you, Lord.” Noah mumbles as he tries to stand between God and a couple of unoccupied berths.
“Very well done lad, very well done. I see you have ample supplies of food, bedding, tools for cleaning up. Sorry about that part, but it can't be avoided. Well, I suppose I will be moving on to check out some more of my creation. I have this little red planet... I just know future humans will say little green men come from there. HEEE!”

“Well, stop by again Lord. You are always welcome. We don't get many visitors, you know.”
The Lord begins to walk toward the exit, when suddenly, He stops. Turning quickly, He says.

“Wait. Where are the mosquitoes and ticks?”
“Mos-mos-mosquitoes and t-ti-ticks? I don't-ahhh-recall seeing those on the manifest, Lord.”
Reaching into the pocket of His robe, God pulls a large sheet of parchment out.
“Certainly they are on here. You don't think I would have overlooked them, do you? See, right here; 'mosquitoes- 2-1 male, 1 female' and down here... tiger, timber rattler, turtles.. AH.. here it is! 'Ticks-2-1male, 1female'. I don't see them anywhere. Any idea of their whereabouts Noah?”
“I uh... I.. well... see... my son Shem was in charge of bugs. You know how kids of 120 can be. Totally irresponsible! I will talk with him, make sure he knows the next time You flood the Earth he has to get ALL the bugs, not just the ones he likes. I'll take care of it. Don't worry.”
“What are you saying, Noah? Are you telling me there are NO mosquitoes?”
“Well.. I don't think I would say “no” mos-mos-mosquitoes. I would say.... Yes! We have no mosquitoes! We have no mosquitoes today.”
Well.. as you can imagine, the conversation would have gone down hill from there. And.. when God figured out the ticks were missing as well! Let's just say it would not have been pretty.
So, to preserve his own hide, Noah has sacrificed the hides of every man, woman, and child, dog, cat, horse, bear,... just about every warm blooded creature upon this planet from the time the ark ran aground until the end of time as we know it.

And, that is why we have ticks and mosquitoes to this day.
Someone pass the Deep-woods Off, please.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


It has been a damp couple weeks here in Ohio.  I saw something in the newspaper about a 15 day rainy streak. While initially thinking the article was about any of Cleveland’s sports teams, I soon realized this was about something that truly matters.
Rain and lots of it. Flood and flash-flood warning worth of rain. The Chagrin nearing her banks, and moving at high speed kind of rain.
As I was staring out the patio windows and musing, my thoughts drifted back to other memorable rain falls. Admittedly, there are not so many noteworthy rains as there are snow-storms. I have yet had any of the grandkids say “Papa, tell us about the time of the big rain.” Nor do people generally mark rain-storms as a point of time reference, such as “Mildred, I am telling you, we got that DeSoto the summer of the big rain.” Typically, rains are not that memorable.
Unlike snowstorms, one can hardly talk about having to put the Jeep in four-wheel drive and take 25 minutes to drive 4 miles to get a gallon of milk.  One can’t talk about having hip-high piles of water, and sledding, and coming in for hot chocolate to warm up. There is a certain amount of panache and √©lan to a good snow storm.  A big rain storm, not so much. The stories that typically arise from rains are not so fun. It is difficult to add an air of romance and jovialness while telling about having lost family heirlooms, the furnishings being totally destroyed, and the truck totaled due to water damage.
Still….there have been those times…..
As you may recall, in the account entitled “Water”, my early experiences with rain swollen streams were explored. This was the first rain related event I remember. Had I not nearly drowned, it probably would have just been a typical spring, barely worth mentioning. Near-death experiences can do that to a person’s memory.
Then, I recall the 4th of July in 1969. A typical summer’s day, picnics, family get-togethers, and then a terrific storm roared in just about the time to see fireworks. There were trees up-rooted, utility poles toppled, and streets running deep with water. We were at my Aunt and Uncle’s in Walton Hills, about 20 miles south of our home.  I was 16 and deeply concerned how we would get home. Dad looked at the destruction and water, saw his sister’s home was safe, and then decided it was time to head home. When I expressed my slight concern, he replied with his trademark response: “This is nothing. I drove a tank during the war. Let’s go.” And we did, arriving home about 90 minutes later. That was a good storm.
There was the rain storm my sophomore year of college. It rained, and rained. Little Riley Creek, which bisected the campus, was overflowing its banks. The bridges which allowed access from the women’s dorms to the men’s dorms, class buildings, student center, dining hall, and library were covered with water.  It also prevented access to town for the guys. We were marooned, separated from all civilization save the gym, student union, dining hall, library, tennis courts, and flag football field.
The entire lot of the male populace of Bluffton College nearly went mad. We couldn’t go to Stony’s for cold draft beers, grilled bologna and Swiss cheese sandwiches, gentlemanly games of pool and euchre. We couldn’t go to Ingall’s Restaurant for juicy burgers smothered in secret sauce, wonderful coffee, and (unique to the Lima-Bluffton-Findlay Ohio area)…. that delectable, addictive wonder: Sugar Cream Pie.   It was horrible. It is still very difficult to talk about, all these years later.
There have been other storms, most falling into the soon forgotten category. Except, several years ago, our town experienced a Five Hundred Year storm. Homes that had never even been damp in the past were flooded. Streets were underwater for days; electricity was lost. In general, it was not a fun time. We were very fortunate, living high on a bluff we are far above the rise of the river. I have often told people if we get flooded, EVERY one has major problems.
What struck me was the designation “Five Hundred Year” storm. I can understand referring to something as a Fifty Year Storm and even a One Hundred Year storm. There are official weather records going back well past a hundred years. Let’s face it, (no Jim, you face it) I can recall events of half a century ago quite well.
But Five Hundred Years? Good grief! That is only 21 years after Columbus stumbled upon the Caribbean Islands on his way to the Indian sub-continent. Who on Earth is going to remember what the big storms were then? And, even if there were anyone who could remember… they would be about a gazillion years old. Their memory banks would be the consistency of oatmeal. And… what if there were no 500 year storms, because the last 500 year storm was 10 years before they were born? Whoa.. .that is heavy.
It was explained that based upon computer models of past rainfalls, wind patterns, the mean batting average of all the Designated Hitters in the American League in odd numbered years, multiplied by 3.56, then divided by the number of fries in a fast food carry out meal, the frequency of large storms is determined. They lost me at the word “computer”.  Dealing with a computer at work, at home, in my pocket, to make a phone call (wouldn’t “computer call” be a better word?), my Jeep, just about every facet of my life; their scholarly discourse lost all credibility with me. I would have believed them if they said it is based upon how much Rollie, the TV station custodian, says his knees ache. THAT, dear reader, makes sense.
I listen to the rain falling upon the window. My Lovely Bride has just come home with building plans rolled up under her arm. Does anyone know just what a “cubit” is???  If so, let me know, okay? I gotta get busy here.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Independence Day; a reflection


Finally, the Fourth of July weekend is past!

I am just about rested up from the four day long fun-fest.
We observed the time-honored traditions; had a bar-be-cue with family. Pulled muscles participating in a family game of kick-ball. Got sun-burned. Ate too much. Got bitten by mosquitoes while observing Fourth of July fireworks. Sat in traffic for half an eternity on way home from observing fireworks.

Saw some irate drivers having own fire-works display, much to amusement of on-lookers.

Let's see... went to amusement park, got more sun-burned, and slight case of nausea from over-indulging on rides with grandchildren. Ate too much, again. Went to tour tall ships with son and daughter-in-law (have not seen in nearly a year, live in Florida), got sunburned. Went to Slyman's, ate too much. After seeing tall ships, met daughter and son-in-law, their children at Fanucee's... guess what?? Ate too much. Fell into bed Saturday night. Attended First Church of the Pillow Sunday morning. Reflected upon our Independence Day.

While the 56 delegates to the Philadelphia convention in 1776 haggled, debated, and hammered out a Declaration of Independence in that humid, hot, steamy Summer; little did they know just what the future of this new nation would be. To be sure, they had aspirations, dreams, and not a little trepidation as well.

For 237 years, this nation has remained through unbridled expansion, unbridled prejudice, religious revivals, periods of agnosticism, warfare far from our shores, warfare upon our lands, economic upheaval, economic boom-times, ultra-conservatism, ultra-liberalism. In effect, the history of America has been a microcosm of Ecclesiastes chapter Three... there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven.

I don't know if you have ever received the “Chicken Little” e-mails, comparing America of the 21st Century to the final days of the Roman Empire. Here is a news flash: this same idiotic comparison of America to hedonistic Rome has been floating around since the 1960s that I know of. We are still here. We are still “one Nation under God, indivisible”.

The writer is not living in a land tinted by rose-colored glasses. Nor does the writer have an acute case of Pollyanna-itis; not everything is great and wonderful in America. Nor, has everything ever been great and wonderful in America. And, there will never be a time when everything is great and wonderful in America. See, I am a firm believer in Genesis chapter Three; but we won't partake of theological debates at this time.
Yes, I am proud of America. I am proud of her history. I look forward to a bright future for America.

I have the same mind-set as Esther; for such a time as this, we are here. To make a positive contribution, to teach the next generation, to welcome a family of new-comers to our nation; and teach them our history, to leave even a small piece of this land better than we found it.
While those 56 delegates perspired, and haggled, and compromised 237 years ago; we can enjoy Life, with Liberty, and pursue Happiness with out fear, with out retribution, and in peace.

God Bless America.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Furry Fountain of Youth

Our household has sustained a complete upset to the regular routine.

What was once a place of peaceful retreat, gazing upon the wonders of Nature as the river slides past has been transformed to the epicenter of activity, dis-organization, noise and in general a whirling dervish.

“What”, you ask, “has caused such a state of affairs?”
The short answer is:

My Lovely Bride and I are animal-lovers from way back. Followers of this site know of a parade of dogs, cats, and other critters.
Our present dog, Mimi, is politely referred to as “a senior canine citizen.” In less genteel times, she would be called a “pretty old dog”. Her once black markings are now silver, her gait has slowed, and her activity level is reminiscent of a snail on Valium.
It is obvious to even the most casual of observers the sand is running out of her hour glass. Losing a pet is extremely difficult; my heart has several dog and cat shaped holes acquired over the past 4 decades.

In order to blunt the edge of losing another dog, the only sensible thing to do is: GET ANOTHER DOG.
On the surface, it is the most sensible thing in the world to do. In practice....perhaps a bit more thought should have gone into this.
Two weeks ago, a bouncing bundle of loose white skin, shiny black eyes, black button nose, and teeth that would be the envy of any barracuda arrived in our lives. I won't belabor the how and who and what that led to this momentous event; suffice it to say the back-story is somewhat convoluted.
We carefully introduced the puppy (named after a former President. No it is NOT Ronnie or George)
to Mimi in a neutral setting. As Mimi perceives me as “the big dog”, my Lovely Bride dropped Mr. President, myself, and our grand-daughter off while she went and gathered up Mimi. Being in a neutral area, with me having the puppy set the stage for their relationship. Mimi was not threatened or aggressive toward the little guy. While she didn't fling the door open, and help move his stuff into the house, she didn't attempt to tear him asunder either. In fact, she pretty much ignored the little guy. For a day.
She had not been exposed to puppies other than her litter mates. As a result, she really didn’t know how to play. When the little guy would come darting up to her, yipping, assuming the “play with me” puppy pose, she looked at him as if thinking “Go away, Kid... you bother me.” Finally, she would make a playful grumble and feint at him. He would skitter away, stubby tailing wagging. Back he would come, she would feint again. Eventually, she would get up and chase after him. They would stop, looking at one-another. Then, like a shot, they would take off, him chasing after her. This would go on for some time.
He has since learned nipping her on the butt is an effective  way to get her to chase after him. If he gets too aggressive, she will plow into his side with her head, rolling him over a couple times. The little fellow will scramble to his feet, walk over to her, and lie down, almost as if apologizing to her for getting carried away. After some nuzzling; the game is on again.
While the above is so heartwarming, so Disney-esque (old school Disney); our home underwent a bit of adjusting, shall we say.
We had not had a puppy in nearly 10 years.

And, the puppy we had was from a litter we had bred. As a result, there was no “puppy's first night away” to deal with.
Because we had a litter of pups, our home was fairly well puppy proofed.

His first night, he was less than thrilled to be alone. The second night he was with us, my Lovely Bride ended up sleeping on The Sacred White Couch with him cuddled beside her.

Ever since, he has been a good sleeper, not making a sound until morning.
It is amazing how our brains repress traumatic incidents. We had forgotten just HOW MUCH WORK
puppies entail!!
Oh my gosh... it is like having a toddler in the house again!!
No, it is like having TWO toddlers in the house!!!
The little guy is a perpetual motion machine... until he finally collapses! Then, we have a brief respite which allows my Lovely Bride & I to put everything back together, do some house work, and gulp down more coffee. Oh yeah, also apply dressings to the barracuda teeth induced wounds.
Mimi retires to her favorite spot under a kitchen chair, eyes closing as soon as her chin hits the floor. The poor old girl is wiped out! In her mind, she is singing the canine version of the Hallelujah Chorus.

We go back over the storm path, spraying everything with the stop-chewing product that I am convinced tastes like roast beef gravy; he is unfazed by it.
Sorry, Mom, about the corner of The Sacred White Couch. Hey, the antique stores go for the “gently used” look Think of it as adding a bit of savoir faire to the piece. Gives it a more rustic feel, know what I mean?
We also discovered a new wrinkle which was not so prevalent a decade ago. Communication wires.

Did you know dogs find the texture and flavor of computer cables absolutely addictive? Neither did we.

More “Yummy-Yumm Spray”... with about the same results as those seen by the couch.
I am particularly perplexed by the phenomena known as “Chewed the toy once, it is now unclean."
This little fella has nearly as many chew toys, squeaky toys, you name it toys as the pet supply store.
A brand new one will hold his attention for a full 6 or 7 minutes. Then, he will leave it... rarely to use it again!
Even the trick of putting all the toys in a a bowl (stainless steel, the most resistant to Mr. Barracuda Jaws) so he can find “new” ones isn't working! This puppy is just too smart!

Now we have gotten past the “What were we thinking?” phase. He is so cute, so adorable, that only lasted about ½ a day. Like any new parents, our baby can do no wrong. He is just being his unique little self.
And, Mimi... well Ike (yes, we inadvertently have Ike and Mimi) has infused her with joy of life once again.
If I am not mistaken, there appears to be more sand in her hour-glass.
Come to think of it, mine seems a bit fuller.