Lake Party Report

Most of you don’t know this, but we invited the Trilanders, our all-sports group, out to the lake on Labor Day for an “end to the summer” party. People started arriving at 4 P.M. and, after a shortened boat ride, all were gone by 9. Many of you know about the “cottage rules”. There are only nine of them, and four of them were broken. OK, OK, it’s not the end of the world. And it could have ended badly, but the cottage and I will survive.

Rule number one is “…If you brought food and or drink and it doesn’t get eaten or drank, take it home with you.” Most of the food was gone, but there were several bottles of hard lemonade, Seagram’s coolers, and a couple of bottles of beer. That turned out OK because Jean drinks wine coolers on occasion, the Seagram’s are close to wine coolers so they’re fine, and the beer that was left was Bell’s. As long as beers are highly rated on Rate Beer or Beer Advocate, they can be left. So, no harm done.

Rule number two is “…Don’t leave your cans and bottles behind.” There were several cans and bottles left on the counter, and someone, heaven forbid, put a can in the bag in the closet for plastic bottles, and someone left a plastic bottle in the bag in the closet I use for cans. I switched them before it was too late. Jean, lush that she is, had a huge amount of wine cooler bottles for me to take to the store, so I took the ones that were left along with them, and it all worked out alright. Again, no harm done.

Rule number nine is “…You are welcome to help clean the kitchen and put things in the dishwasher. However, please don’t help me by putting things away.” Today, while I was putting away dishes from the dishwasher, I found a serving fork in the bin where tablespoons are supposed to go. I moved it to where it supposed to be, and things are back to normal. In the knife rack, I did find the serrated knife where the smooth edged knife is supposed to go, and vice-versa, but criticizing that may be a little picky. All is well now.

Rule number six is “…You may be the best barbeque chef around, but show me at your house. Don’t turn my meat, don’t tell me how you would do it, and don’t keep opening the lid of the grill to see how things are coming.” In a fit of remorse, Mike admitted to opening the lid of the grill and turning three pieces of meat while I wasn’t looking.

I commend him for his honesty, and I hope I take the high road and forgive, rather than hold a grudge. I hope I don’t let it smolder until the next time I go to his place at Torch Lake and break one of his two rules. Number one is the one I borrowed about not leaving anything there that you brought. I would hate to be vicious enough to leave something that Mike wouldn’t find until it “ripened”. His second rule is not to lock the cottage doors. It will be best if I’m not the last one out the door when we go to dinner at “The Blue Pelican”.

In an unrelated vein, you may remember me commenting on the “critter wars” with the raccoons in the attic and the moles in the yard. Lately, I’ve seen a chipmunk running between the hose area on the front porch (street side), and the corner where the wrap-around deck starts. Chipmunks are cute little animals, but they can cause water leaks when they burrow down foundation walls. After catching 10 chipmunks in town at the condo, I figured it would be easy to catch him. I set the trap Friday and nothing. I checked it yesterday, and still nothing. I went out to the cottage today and did some housekeeping duties. I decided to come home early and, as I walked out the door, I remembered to check the trap. The good news is that It had been tripped and there was a critter inside. The bad news is that it wasn’t a chipmunk.

I know many of you are religious, as I am. So could you please pray that, number one, it’s a black kitty with white stripes down its back and not a skunk. If that prayer doesn’t work out, please pray that the the Jehovah’s Witness folks don’t use this Sunday to drop off pamphlets at the door, or the Chicago people don’t want to look at the cottage one more time today before they make an offer. The cage is only about four feet from the front door, and I’m guessing the critter isn’t happy with his new home.

You also know that I’m soft hearted and can’t stand to see animals die from dehydration or starvation. So now I have to figure out how to get the cage away from there before anything bad happens (death or spray, take your pick). I’m thinking that carrying it off in my car will make the Jeep unsalable when the time comes for me to replace it. Also, I still haven’t found any clothes I want to throw away, and I’m guessing I’d be arrested if I stripped down to nothing but a smile, and drove home that way after the “drop off”. Anyone have a pick-up truck that doesn’t mind if the bed reeks for a few weeks?

Just (Why Do These Things Always Happen To Me?) Jack

The Diet Rears Its Ugly Head

Mom, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred–DON’T READ THIS PART. For the rest of you, yesterday I had a new muffler and tailpipe put on the Jeep. It has 226,600+ miles on it and this is the third exhaust system I’ve put on it. Things don’t last like they used to. Anyway, I had walked down to Pennock for a 9:00 AM meeting while the car was being fixed, and was on my way back down town. Two or three teenagers wheeled around the corner in a car and yelled out the window “Fat F#*%”. I looked around and I was the only one I could see, so they must have been talking to me. First of all, when they can tell from that distance I’m fat, I need to go on a diet, so I will. Yesterday wasn’t a good day to start ‘cuz it was Robert’s last day here, and I knew we would go out for dinner. Today wasn’t a good day to start ‘cuz I had a lunch meeting at the hospital and tonight is $3.00 burger night at the County Seat. Maybe tomorrow.

Secondly, they don’t know me so how do they know I’m a F#*%. And what is a F#*% anyway? I wasn’t so crude to call “it” that, but I always thought “it” was a good thing. Maybe I didn’t hear the rest of the word and they actually meant a F#*%head, or a F#*%off. I really wasn’t all that offended. My guess is that they’ll yell that to one of their parent’s friends who recognizes the car, and they really get into trouble. Or they’ll yell it at someone who gets their license plate, tracks down their car, and modifies the windows with a hammer. Or, they’ll yell it at someone whose car is close enough to jump in, track them down, and beat the crap out of them. Any way you cut it, no good can come from calling someone (other than me and I don’t care) a Fat F#*%.

OK Mom, Aunt Sharon and Uncle Fred, you can start reading again. The cottage hasn’t sold yet and hadn’t even been looked at in the last six weeks until Saturday. I spent a good share of Saturday cleaning the place and making it look as nice as I could. I talked to the realtor today. He said the couple that looked at it liked it, and it seemed to be just what they were looking for. Then they saw the next door neighbor’s pit bull and were instantly turned off. The funny thing is, that dog is only at their cottage two or three weekends all summer and this happened to be one. However, the dog, plus a bulldog, plus the owner’s dog (part pit bull) are there all week. Just our luck. My feeling is that if they really, really liked the place, they would have asked if the dog was there all the time or just visiting before they wrote the place off.

A week ago today I drove from Hastings to Traverse City and back to visit my mother (up from Florida), my Aunt Margaret (we call her Didge…up from Kentucky), and my Aunt Juanita (we call her Neat…lives in Troy). It was fun seeing three of the four living sisters together again (Aunt Sharon is in Colorado and Aunt Willie (Wilma) died several years ago). It’s been ten years since I saw Didge and two years since I saw Neat. The sisters were telling stories, laughing and remembering things about their trips to Traverse City before the cottage, and the family vacations there after it was built (the summer of 1950, when I was three years old). We took lots of pictures, ate lunch at the cottage, and took a ride to Moomerts for ice cream. It was just like when I was a kid, only in very slow motion. It was a great trip with lots of driving, but I got to take another trip down memory lane. Thanks Mom, Aunt Didge and Aunt Neat.

I’m thinking quite seriously about renting the cottage out for the school year. We won’t be using it much during September and October, and we’ll be gone from November through the end of March. If I could find the right family with no pets, non-smokers, and willing to live there for nine months with a for sale sign on the lawn, while they decide where they want to buy, I’ll probably go ahead with it. If not, that’s OK too. I know it’s a lot of conditions, but maybe…….

I attended a hospital board meeting today. I’ll attend two more and my tenure will end. I’ll leave with mixed emotions. It’s been a great experience for me and, hopefully, I’ve helped make a difference in how the hospital operates. But it’s time for me to go. I feel comfortable turning the reins over to very qualified people. If they decide to change everything back to the way it was done “before Jack”, I just ask that they not tell me. I want to think I have some kind of legacy.

Just (Still Limping A Little, But Getting Better By The Day) Jack

Just Stuff

We found out who left the straw hat and two serving spoons (one pink handle and one blue handle…how cute). Jean has been transporting them in her car and I hope Liz and Al have them by now. Still no one has called and asked if we found a small fabric cooler. We did. It is dark blue with “Alacrity” on the front and “AdvisaCare” on the top. It has a plastic Ziploc container with 250ml, 500ml, and 750ml gradients on the side. It would appear to belong to someone involved in health care, but maybe not. It now resides at the condo in town.

I haven’t heard if anyone has claimed the Sunday run this week. Many of us will be at Muncie on Saturday and some will actually be doing the race…how exciting. Bill…are you puking yet? Anyway, I’ll be at the cottage on Sunday morning and will make coffee for anyone who comes out. I plan to walk. Walkers can walk, runners can run, bikers can bike, kayakers can kayak, and swimmers can swim. If you expect to have egg cassarole and try a new bread pudding recipe, forget it. I’ll be so tired from cheering at Muncie, I won’t cook anything. If you want food, bring some. I’ll probably buy a bag of doughnut holes (sugar coated of course) just in case no one shows up, or if those that do all bring watermelon and muskmelon…yuck!

After a measured amount of chit chat, I’ll be taking the boat out for a ride. Nine of you, plus two of you under 90 pounds, would be welcome to ride along, as long as one of you could help hold the pontoon upon landing at the dock.

If someone else has claimed the Sunday run, forget all of the above, except for the cooler thing.

Just Jack

Update To The Dock Is In – Sort Of

I went out to the lake today for obvious reasons (it’s hot here), but mainly because the boat was being delivered. I never know what time, so I was carrying my phone around with me, doing little odd jobs here and there, waiting for the call. I went down to the lake and was digging around the footings of the steps to the lake (the steps started out unstable, and now they’re a cobbled together, still unstable, health hazard). Jean was out planting flowers in areas that the sprinkling system doesn’t reach so I’ll have something to do each day… the manly job of watering flower beds. Anyway, as I’m wading around in the water, she walked by a tree and said, “What’s this yellow paper for?”, like I could read it from 20 feet away. It said that the lake had been treated for weeds and there was to be no swimming, watering lawns, contact of any kind, etc. until dates specified on the notice. Too late!

Even after reading the note, Jean got in the water with me, and used the shovel handle to lift the side of the steps (lever…science class) while I reached underneath, pulled out the patio stones on one side, and inserted a thinner patio stone under the leg by the seawall to level the whole thing up again – sort of. She kept stepping on stones and rubble that had been piled near the legs to stabilize them, saying ouch and repositioning her foot. Finally after about the third time she said, “That’s better”, to which I replied, “Of course it’s better ‘cuz you’re standing on top of my foot”. We were in the middle of moving the stones and repositioning so she couldn’t let go of the shovel handle and couldn’t move off from my foot. We were both laughing so hard I thought she would drop the steps just as I reached underneath. Did I ever mention that Jean and I don’t work well together?

Kyle Matteson called and the boat would be delivered at 5 PM. Jean stayed around long enough to take me over to the landing so I didn’t have to drive over, bring the boat back, then walk two miles back to the landing to get my car. The marina had done some carburetor work last fall so it would idle better, and it did. I took the boat back to the cottage and docked it. I did have a couple of problems. One was that I had a mooring line for the stern, but I had taken the one off the bow and couldn’t remember where I put it. So when I docked, I was able to hold the back of the boat to the dock, but the front end swung out about fifteen feet. I had untied all the dock bumpers, so I retied them in three spots, setting the height for the height of the dock. I went inside and found the bow line in the basement walkout, so I took it out, pulled the bow back in, secured the bow, and the boat was docked.

I noticed when I jumped from the boat to the dock with the stern line in my hand that the dock seemed a little mushy and unstable. I looked and the outermost corner nearest the boat had sunk four inches under my massive weight. How do I know it was four inches, you ask? Because we set the dock so it rested on the cross-pieces four inches above the water. Now that corner of the dock is in the water.

Just (Will It Ever End) Jack

The Dock Is In – Sort Of

Part of the reason I’m selling the cottage is that, since our kids live out of state, except for Sara, and she may not be in Michigan long, I don’t have family (translate: young strong boys) to help me do things like put in and take out the dock. So I’m forced to bribe friends with the promise of a sandwich and a beer at Bell’s Eccentric Cafe, and ask them to help. Bill Bradley and Paul Moore have, on numerous occasions, gotten surprised and couldn’t come up with a reason why they couldn’t, so they have helped, and they did this time too.

We set the date for Friday after 1 PM. Thursday was a great day, and I was out at the cottage anyway, so I decided to set the first posts and crosspiece. Once that one is set, each section is added and, since the sections are bolted in, they line up perfectly, almost. To back up just a bit, I noticed this spring when the ice went out, that the high water and the ice flows must have done something to the steps from the yard to the dock. The steps were pushed away from the seawall and were six inches, at least, above the sidewalk height. Keep that in mind. So when I set the first two posts, I measured exactly six feet from the back of the bottom step.

Fast forward to Friday. Bill and Paul came to the condo and we all rode out to the lake together. I had a pair of waders I had worn in the past and offered them to Bill or Paul. Paul decided to use them, but put on his wetsuit too. Bill put on his wetsuit and walked around the condo for ten minutes gasping for air. Apparently the wetsuit had shrunk over the winter and he couldn’t breathe. I wore my old wetsuit and, having gained twenty five pounds over the course of this knee thing, I knew I couldn’t zip mine, so I wore a t-shirt and shorts underneath, and still had trouble breathing. As an aside, we plan to start our morning swims Monday out at Diane’s. I’m petrified to go out there ‘cuz I know I’m going to have trouble zipping up my wetsuit and, if I can’t, I won’t be able to swim. I feel just like I did in early junior high (no…not middle school…junior high!) when I hadn’t matured as fast as some of my classmates. They had pubic hair and I didn’t, and I didn’t want to undress for gym class with them looking. I don’t want to try and fail to zip my wetsuit with Bill, Diane, Jen, Eric, (who else) watching. But I digress!

So we got all the tools ready and went down to the lake. I looked at us, and laughed to myself. We looked like Larry, Daryl and his other brother Daryl from the Newhart show some years back. We were definitely the “anything for a buck” crew. I had decided that we would let Mother Nature help us out, so we brought down the inner tube that we use to float around on and used a couple of planks to protect the top of the tube so the dock wouldn’t puncture the rubber. As Mike Rowe (Dirty Jobs, Ford Commercials, narrator of Deadliest Catch, etc.) would say, what could possibly go wrong?

We loaded the first section of dock onto the tube and boards and floated it into position. It rode quite high, but it was better than lifting and holding. Since I planned to add a short section from the steps to the dock, we wanted to reposition the first section on the crosspiece and drill new holes. I used a cordless drill that I had charged before winter, then put on the charger in the morning when I came out to check the weather. The drill made it through the South side of the dock, but had no juice to make it through the North side. Consequently, we couldn’t bolt the first section in place and, we found out later, it moved.

We got the first section set and went to pull out the tube and boards. About halfway out, we caught the spot where you fill the tube with air on the underside of the dock. Of course the plug came out and air started escaping. Bill kept saying “it’s losing air, it’s losing air”, like he expected Paul or I to do a handspring over the dock ‘cuz the leak was on his side. He got it plugged and we didn’t lose too much air. In fact, it made the next section ride more level and it was easier to set. On the next section, we pulled the tube and planks out, only to catch the plug again (slow learners) and, again, we managed to cap it off before all the air was gone. Again, it was a good thing because it made the last section ride more level than the second. As we finished screwing in the posts for the second section, I looked up, and the tube and planks had floated away and were going past the neighbor’s dock.

I couldn’t swim because my wetsuit wasn’t zipped up and Paul couldn’t go after it because he had the waders on, so Bill was elected. By then the tube had gone into deep water and Bill was going to have to swim for it. I haven’t mentioned the water temperature until now. It was 68 degrees near the shore the day before. Friday was colder and cloudy, so I’m guessing the temp dropped a couple of degrees in the night. Bill stood there trying to muster up the courage to dive into the chilly water. I was no help ‘cuz I yelled to Bill, “You know the longer you wait, the farther out it’s going to be”. Bill, the trouper he is, swam to the tube and dragged it back. Crisis averted.

We were down to the last section and it was going quite smoothly. Here’s where things got a little dicey. With my knee problems, I really couldn’t lift much, so Bill had to hold up the deep end of the dock section until we could get the screw anchors all the way down. For those of you who don’t know Bill, he’s slightly vertically challenged, so there he was, up to his chin in lake water holding up the dock. Paul, as you will remember, was wearing the waders. Did I mention the water was up four inches from last year’s spring lake level? I stood there and it was like watching a slow motion train wreck. The water went over the top of the waders and filled them almost instantly. He squealed like a little girl for a couple of minutes (actually he didn’t, but it makes for a good story). We kept on going and got the last section pegged in and solid, and then I went around and tightened all the nuts and bolts.

We started to get out and Bill and I were looking at Paul trying to get up the steps. I mentioned before that the steps had shifted and, if you stood on the bottom step for more than a millisecond, they would come over on top of you. Paul looked like he had elephantitis in both legs, and the water weighed a ton, so he had a little difficulty getting to the lawn. He stood on the lawn and water was spewing out from every opening. Bill and I almost fell over laughing so hard at Paul (not At Paul, With Paul). We continued to clean up and, as we looked back at the dock, it appeared to be slightly crooked. I won’t explain the science of it all, but if the dock moved one inch at the first section, it would throw the dock off a couple of feet at the other end. It really didn’t look that bad, so we decided to have a Tripel Karmeliet (Belgian Beer that Bill and I had made) and call it good. If you talk to Bill and Paul, that’s the end of the story. Au contraire!

I went back out today and decided to straighten up the steps. I had always thought they were made of treated lumber, but they had only been treated with rain and snow water, ‘cuz the wood is soft and a little punky. So back to the straightening. I thought I could grab one side, pull it toward me, and it would end up on it’s side. It did, but as it went, it collapsed on itself. The top step came off entirely breaking off the triangle part of the stringers (look it up) on both sides. The next two steps did the same on the North side, but the South side just pulled the nails and screws sideways. I dug out the sand and rocks near the seawall and set a flat spot for the steps to sit. After a half hour or so I was ready and I spent the next hour and a half rebuilding steps that were hardly worth the trouble. The problem was, I had no way to get out of the lake, so I had to.

Now I have them rebuilt, only to find that the blocks I had set to put the steps on had shifted, and the North side is two inches higher than the South side. I’ll have to wait until some hapless soul wanders by so I can get him to lift the South side while I slide a two inch patio stone in to level it up. As the steps are right now, I walked up them, but they are definitely unsafe. After I get them leveled, I need to screw in an angle bracket, attaching each step to the stringer, to keep the steps from tipping over sideways.

So I got up, took care of all the tools, and marveled at my handiwork. It was then that I noticed that the dock wasn’t just a little crooked…it was a lot crooked. The boat comes Monday so maybe that will disguise the engineering disaster. The problem is (as I mentioned before) that I need to build a short section to hook the steps to the dock. Remember, it’s six feet away. Well, it’s six feet away somewhere along the line, but it’s five and a half feet away at the North end and six feet, three inches away at the South end. How do I build that section?

Just (I Hope You Don’t Read About An Accident On Steps At Crooked Lake) Jack


I’ve gotten a little feedback from the last e-mail I sent out. Some of you thought I sounded very depressed and offered me reassurance that life would go on. Some of you thought I was whining too much, and tried to bring me back to reality. But some of you took it for what I meant it to be…a poke of fun at us Trilanders (and I’m as guilty as anyone) on how we react to temporary injuries or, more to the point, permanent changes that we will have to adapt to. At any rate, I found out that more than one or two of you read this drivel, so I’ll continue writing.

I went back to the doctor this morning and it was just like a repeat of a week ago. “That’s one big knee…a lot bigger than the other one. Let’s take some fluid off. You’ll feel much better”. I told him the procedure ranked third in the list of the health care procedures I hate, behind (no pun intended) 1) The “night before” prep for a colonoscopy, 2) A prostate exam when I had prostititis. Drawing out the fluid really didn’t hurt all that much, but it wasn’t a skip in the park either. I think I was playing it up so I would sound like more of a he-man for gritting my teeth and taking it. Actually I was not so much concerned about the procedure, but the nagging pain afterward. It doesn’t hurt in that stabbing pain sense, but in that toothache in the background sense.

As I was watching Dr. Merriman do the procedure, I thought back to all those times he would come into my office to pick up his taxes and I would say “Here’s what you owe”. I wondered if, in the back of his mind, he was thinking “Now you know how I felt. Here’s what you owe…bam!”

Of course, that wasn’t the only thing I did today. At the cottage, for the past couple of days, I’ve seen a drip of water on my workbench. I called a plumber and I had to meet him right after the doctor’s appointment. I thought, originally, that the drip was coming from the small water feed to the icemaker. When I looked at it closer, it was from the sink/dishwasher area. With the knee problem, I couldn’t tell him exactly where it was coming from. Now, $197.00 later, there is no drip. Will someone please buy this cottage and save me some money?

If that wasn’t enough, I had physical therapy at 3 PM. I know what they need to do, and I know it’s going to hurt. I need to strengthen the muscles on that right knee/quad area and I need to improve my range of motion. Both require exercises and stretches that push the limit of what I think I can do. The therapists are very nice, and I can see that they empathize, but they know it will pay off in the end. With the knee pain, and the pain from physical therapy, there are times I wonder if I would have been better off doing nothing, and limping for the rest of my life. Uhhhhh, NO!!!

So here I am writing another e-mail for therapy. Partially for my own mental health, but it gives me a chance to sit here resting, drinking a Bell’s Porter. I wonder if Dr. Merriman would approve of beer and vicadin? I’m not going to ask him and don’t any of you ask for me!

Just (Ready To Get Back To Whatever Normal Is) Jack

Do You Hear The Doors Closing?

You all probably know about the knee trouble I’ve been having, and many of you know I had it scoped last Wednesday. I’ve filled some of you in on my progress since the surgery, but many of you are in the dark. If you want to stay that way, don’t read on.

The surgery went well (I slept through it), but not as I had initially expected. I knew I had a torn meniscus and the doctor would use the scope to take out the “ragged edges”. He tells me that we talked after the surgery, but I don’t remember a bit of it. Jean was there and passed on what the doctor said, but the details weren’t all that important to her, and she didn’t understand the technical terms. So all I knew was that the knee was worse than he expected. They told me that, during the surgery, while wrenching the knee into and out of position, my MCL (medial collateral ligament) tore. It happens in about 20% of the cases (why can’t I be in the 80%group?).

After I went home, the doctor prescribed a “knee machine” that straightens and flexes the knee to 60 degrees, over and over and over and over and…you get the picture. I have to be on that machine six to eight hours a day. This past week I didn’t feel like dancing around so it hasn’t been that difficult. But now that I’m feeling better, I’m BORED! As time went on, my right quadricep kept getting more and more sore. It was very painful until mid-day Tuesday, and it seemed to turn the corner, so it feels a little better. I’ve attached a picture, and the picture may not do it justice. It’s swollen and black and blue, turning shades of yellow and green. Disgusting!

Bill Bradley just stopped by…now where was I?

So I went to the doctor’s office today and got the answers to lots of questions. Without going into too much detail, the answers were:…I’ve never seen so much bruising in the quadricep from a knee scope…that knee looks like it has more fluid than I like to see; let’s suck some of that out of there…it doesn’t hurt any more than a cortisone shot to the knee would without the anesthetic…I think you need to wear a compression thigh-high stocking; it’s not going to be a fashion statement…No one should run; it’s hard on the joints…You have a complete cartilage loss beneath the patella and femoral tendon (lay terms, not medical terms) …I’d like to see you in rehab (I hope for the knee and not drying out from too much homebrew) a couple days a week…I’d like you to keep using the knee machine for a couple more weeks; more than six hours a day if you can stand it.

I just got a lengthy phone call…what did I miss?

So that brings me to the subject of the e-mail. One (or more) of our Trilanders always ends her e-mails with “Anything is possible”. When you’re young, that’s true. But as you get older, doors of opportunity start closing. Some close in a legal way. I can’t enlist in the military at my age and no, I don’t want to. I can’t play in the play room at McDonalds and I don’t want to do that either. Some close by simple logic. I could enroll in medical school, but my chances, at age 63, of getting accepted are nearly zero. And, if by some computer error, I was accepted, my chances of getting through on social security income would also be next to zero.

So as time passes, the doors close, and we’re usually satisfied to let that happen. It’s “the way things are”, so get used to it. Sometimes, others tell us that a door is closing and we fight it happening. I’m, in a way, at that point on my running and biking. The doctor has told me that I can run, but it’s a 63 year old knee. And if it hurts, I should stop running or stop biking. That leaves me three options.

Acceptance – this choice has two branches. One is to accept that you can’t do something, and stop doing it. The constructive way is to decide what you can do, and replace the activity you can’t do any more. Don’t send me any suggestions. I don’t want to learn to knit. I don’t want to join your bowling league. If I choose this path, I’ll find something for myself. I just hope it’s not skydiving. The second branch is to, on the outside, say you’re going to keep doing whatever you want, but on the inside, you know you’re done. You may kick and scream for a while, but the inevitable will happen and you’ll revert to the first branch.

Denial – this choice is the favorite of the Trilanders. We’re all reasonably intelligent, but when the doctor says one thing, we hear something totally different. We justify it by saying, “Just because they call them doctors, they don’t know everything!”. Or, “The doctor told me I can’t (fill in the blank), but he’s talking about average people, and I’m not average”. Or, “He just doesn’t know me well enough. I can do it, I know I can.” So we fool ourselves into thinking that we are invincible, but we eventually end up at the doctor’s office again. We can go through denial again (some of us have been on that loop several times), or we can go directly to acceptance like we should have in the first place.

Defiance – this choice comes from our macho image that we think we have to uphold, or a testosterone overload that we can’t keep under control. Our reaction is, “You say I can’t (fill in the blank), just watch me!” Or, “You may be done (fill in the blank), but I’m not”. We usually don’t realize that, by choosing this option, we have to be willing to pay the consequences, and there will be consequences. We can repeat this option over and over, but it inevitably ends back up at acceptance (or total knee, total hip, etc).

I wonder which option I’ll choose. Logic tells me that I’ll end up at acceptance anyway, so why fight it? But, believe it or not, my life choices haven’t always been logical. Hmmm!?

Just (After The Doctor’s Office I Think I Need More Vicodin Please) Jack



Again, for those of you who are still in the dark ages (prior to 2009), and still have dial up internet, I apologize for the time it takes to download an e-mail with a picture. I’ve been quite silent lately on the e-mails, due more to my bad mood than not having anything to write about. The bad mood may be related to a family funeral recently, or it may be related to living out of a suitcase longer than I like, or having a sore butt from driving around the country, or from this knee I’m going to have scoped on Wednesday, or due to the three checks I had to write this morning after completing our taxes for 2009, or from the credit card bills that came after our trips across America, or _________ (fill in the blank). But sometimes you have to get something out that’s “sticking in your craw” to be able to sleep at night. And sometimes it’s just something that tickles your funny-bone that you have to share. This is one of those things that made me laugh. If you don’t think it’s funny, I don’t care. It’s my story.

After the Easter weekend, with no kids able to come to dinner other than our oldest daughter, Becky, Jean and I were sitting on the deck chit-chatting, having a homebrew and some wine. Jean decided to make her favorite meal, and one of my least favorites, pork steak. It’s kind of like the old “Jack Sprat could eat no fat” nursery rhyme, except when you saw the graphics in the childrens’ book, Jack was skinny and his wife was fat. I can’t stand a “fatty” piece of meat, and Jean loves the fat on meat saying it gives it great flavor. The difference is, that in the real picture, not the nursery rhyme book, Jean is the skinny one and I’m the guy who has to buy his clothes in the “big and husky” department of Macy’s.

Jean put the pork steaks on the grill and we sat for a while solving everyone else’s problems. She opened the grill cover, and there was a flame from the fat (she said she had bought them lean with no fat on them) on one of the steaks, but not the other. When she turned them, she realized that on the one that had no flame, she missed taking off the maxi-pad they put in meat packages to soak up the blood that leeches out in the package. If you could see the picture, the pad appeared to be done, so she peeled it off and set it aside. It takes me back to the family holiday dinner when she left a spoon in the bottom of the jello dish, covered by cut up bananas, and put it in the refrigerator to set overnight. I fould it the next day when my spoon “clinked” as I was scooping out some jello. With these kinds of cooking faux pas, you’re probably asking yourselves, “Jack, how did you get so fat?” If you have any friends or family members that have trouble putting on weight after an illness, send them over for a few days and they can learn from a master.

On a different subject, Diane Ebaugh had the run at her place yesterday. I walked, probably my last walk before the knee gets scoped on Wednesday. I was walking a three mile loop when I happened upon a school of five or six suckers (a kind of fish for you city slickers) that had been run over by a car. They have eyes on both sides of their heads, so you would think they could see the cars coming. That part of the road is thirty feet above Algonquin Lake’s water level. I know the water got high this spring, but not that high!

After the run we sat around talking about everyone who wasn’t there. It was a small group since everyone who is anyone was on spring break or home with their families. I’m a little hard of hearing, but I thought I heard the other table talking about Margie Moore working in the emergency room of the hospital. I kept hearing about Maggie, and wondered who that was. It became apparent, the more I heard, that Maggie was the alter-ego of Margie. Margie was the calm, kindly clerk who never let anything bother her, and Maggie was the one who seethed inside when someone called, when the ER was inundated, asking where they could dispose of their thermometer that contained mercury. It got worse when Maggie told them they could call the health department, and the caller asked, “Do you have their number?”

Do any of you have one of those little bells that I could have by the couch, so while I’m recovering this next week and need something, I can ring it and Jean will come running?

Just (Trying To Stop My Checkbook From Bleeding) Jack

Phoenix Half Marathon Revisited

The few of you who read my last e-mail about the problems I had with my registration at the Phoenix Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon will get a kick out of this. The rest of you won’t know what I’m talking about, or you won’t read this, so it won’t mean a thing to you either way. I’m talking about the confusion with the two John Walkers being registered, me getting a race shirt that was two sizes too small, and me in the last corral since the “phantom” John Walker said he expected to finish in 4:40 or so. The debacle continues.

Today, in the mail, I received two envelopes from the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon. I opened the first envelope, and it congratulated me for finishing the race in 3:43:37. You’ll remember from the last e-mail, I thought I finished in 3:37ish. OK…I guess I was wrong. I opened the second envelope, and it congratulated me for finishing the race in 3:37:40. Is it my imagination, or is this getting spooky? Do you think that, in some parallel dimension, there is a “shadow me”? The only good thing I can get out of this whole mess is that I limped through the race five minutes and fifty seven seconds faster than he did, plus I got my registration fee back.

Most of you know I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago about this continual knee problem. After an examination, an x-ray, and an MRI, it was diagnosed to be a torn meniscus with some mild arthritis. I went to an orthopedic surgeon this past Wednesday, talked about several treatments, and decided to start with a cortisone injection and see how it reacts. He did the injection right then and there, and the knee feels great, but we’ll see how it is in another month or so. Jean and I will be in New Orleans for Rocky and Nina’s wedding, and I’m sure there will be much walking and standing around (rehearsal dinner, wedding, reception, etc.), so that should be a good test. The next step would be an arthroscopy. The doctor was encouraging, telling me that not very many people die from a “scope”.

Just (I Wonder If Phantom John Walker Goes By Jack Too) Jack

Modified Race Report

For all of you who didn’t know, ten of our Multisport Club, The Trilanders, did the Phoenix Rock and Roll Marathon…one, and Half-Marathon…nine. Since I was the last to finish, I’ll give you a quick, down and dirty version of the results.

Diane finished first, hopped in a shuttle to a local hotel, and flew out by 3PM. They tell me she was in the 2:08 range for the half. Jean ran the entire run, still hasn’t checked her time, but thinks she is in the 2:20 range. Patti and Nancy started out together, did finish but not together, and no one has told me what their times were, so there. Stacy started with Jean, started feeling not so well, and finished, but was quite sickish for quite some time. I don’t know her time either. Tom started several corrals in front of me, told me his entire training schedule included 15-18 miles of running (total) between Memorial day weekend and the race. He says his time was in the 3:15 range, even with all that training.

Judy and Kevin were supposed to start in corrals 22 and 23, I think, but moved ahead and started way before I did. They walked most of the race and finished in the 3:30 plus range which included two long bathroom breaks. Not the “reading the newspaper” long, but had to wait a while for a porta john to open up. That leaves two of us. Bill did the Marathon and had his usual pre-race barf to start things out right. He had trained well, but was having some achilles issues during training. A short version of his race goes like this…he was on pace until mile 18 or so. The sick-to-the-stomach feeling reared its ugly head again for a couple of miles. He then hit the proverbial “wall”, and his pace slowed. Sometime during the last six miles his quads, yes both of them, cramped, and he limped into the finish in 4:40 or so. His first and, he says, last Marathon. Congratulations Bill!!

That leaves me, and I know all the gory details. Most of you know I’ve been having right knee issues since May. I tried some limited running and in September ramped it up. The knee rebelled and I couldn’t run at all since then. The most I had done was a couple of five mile walks in Florida, and a couple of 4.38 mile walks in Phoenix. So who in their right mind would actually do the 13.1 mile half marathon? No one, which proves that I’m legally insane.

The debacle began before the race ever started. I got an e-mail from the race director who said that I had two entries to the race. One would be canceled and my entry of $85.00 would be refunded on my credit card. I sent back an e-mail saying there must be some mistake and that I had only been charged once in September. She sent back a response that said someone else must have signed me up and that my money would be refunded. I responded by asking if there was more than one John Walker. She sent back an e-mail saying that they matched name, birth date and e-mail address, so unless there were two people with all of those things the same, I would be refunded my entry. I sent back an e-mail saying no one had taken responsibility for signing me up, so I shouldn’t get a refund. She responded by saying “have a nice race”. Case closed.

I should have known that things may not go well. When we all went down on Friday to pick up our packets, I got mine right away. I had told them when I signed up that I should finish in about 2:10. With the knee thing going on, I didn’t update that information, knowing that I could move back in the starting area to a later corral. For those of you who don’t know what a corral is, it’s just what you would think. All the people who plan to run at a similar pace are placed in a group, separated by clotheslines. The fastest start first and then the corrals leave at equal intervals, but your race time doesn’t begin until you cross the start line.

My packet said that I expected to finish the race in 4:40 (not 2:10), so they put me in corral 26, the very last one. Since I was going to walk the race anyway, I didn’t mind. But when I went to pick up my race shirt, they had medium for my shirt size, so that’s what I got. You all know that there’s no way this body is getting into a medium t-shirt without me looking like 10 pounds of crap stuffed into a 5 pound bag. Apparently they deleted the wrong John Walker, or they changed all the details to get back at me for all the e-mails. At any rate, the race started, and it was 47 minutes before I crossed the start line.

I walked what, for me, was a brisk pace (16 minute miles), never stopped for anything, and finished at a 16:45 minute mile pace. The knee was sore every step, but not sore enough to quit. Afterward it didn’t bother me any more than if I had done a 4 mile walk at a slower pace. I forgot to hit my Garmin at the finish line and hit it a minute or two later, so I think my time was 3:37ish. I was happy with that considering I had no business doing the race at all, but my feet were another matter. Since walking is a different foot plant and push off than running, I had forgotten about the issues I have with long walks. Blisters!! I had a blister the size of a silver dollar on the pad of my right foot, one the size of a quarter on the pad of my left foot, and one the size of a quarter on the bottom of my left heel. My big toenail on my right foot had turned a blue (several shades) and was on its way to black.

Afterward I walked like I had done an Ironman race, but the only thing sore was my feet. The blisters are not sore any more, but my big toe throbbed all last night and all day today. Jean picked up some peroxide, I have a needle in my dop kit, and I’m contemplating drilling a hole in my toenail with the needle to relieve the pressure. I cringe just thinking about it, but the throbbing is keeping me awake and Jean doesn’t want me catching up on my sleep while barreling down the road at 70 mph.

Just (Where’s The Doctor When You Need Her) Jack