Day 173 – Life goes on!

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Day 173

Hello friends!  Monday night and another wonderful day.  If we could just get over this rain – I don’t think that it is ever going to stop!  We have been just plugging along trying to do as much as we can do while living life on life’s terms.  Two weeks ago I worked for Eric as normal, but as healing seems to go, after yoga that Thursday night I hit the wall and was not able to get up on Friday so Ms Kathy did not get a clean house for Mother’s Day.  She was fine with it and we piddled around the house and shop on Saturday.  Sunday we took a trip to Ft Clinch Park in Fernandina to enjoy Mother’s Day at the beach.  Albert, Jan, Will and Jessa joined us and we celebrated with lunch, shark tooth and shell hunting. The cool thing about the beach at Ft Clinch is that it is at the mouth of the St Mary’s river and with the jetties

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Happy Mother’s Day!

you can have either an ocean or sound experience depending on which side of the jetties you go. Needless to say, we had a wonderful day.  Monday I had my 6 month labs, CT and PET scan and followed that up with a customer visit, a stop at the store and our monthly wood turner meeting.  I left the house about 8:30 in the morning and we didn’t get home until about 9:45 that night.  Between a day at the beach and running around all day I had to call in dead Tuesday because I

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Test Day!

could not get out of bed again!  The not getting out of bed is not getting any prettier, I rolled out about 11:30 to eat, take my meds and get some water down.  I was back in bed by 12:30 and slept until about 5 when I got up to eat again and was back in bed by 8:30.  Wednesday I went to St Augustine to pick up a project, Gate Parkway to deliver a finished job and finally hit the shop for an hour or two to finish up a couple of wine stands for a customer and his dad.  I just just haven’t figured out how to effectively plan my days.  I try to plan for 4 to 6 hour days, but when I lose one or two days it just snowballs. It is a good thing that I am still telling my customers that it may take awhile to get their jobs finished.

We ended up the week Saturday with our bi-monthly SoMMA meeting.  This meeting we had Joyce Gabiou who shared her techniques for collage. You can see Joyce’s work by clicking here Joyce Gabiou Artist.

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Joyce Gabiou

As I was laying around Sunday recuperating it dawned on me that we began this cancer adventure a year ago this month.  We had dinner with Amy and Keoni and I started to feel puny the week after.  We went to Louisville the following week and Kat got sick on the plane and I thought that I picked it up because my lymph nodes had begun to really swell.  After a bought with pneumonia those nodes stayed around and the rest is history.  It is really hard for me to believe that it has already been a year –  diagnosed, treated and getting my 6 month post treatment check on the 30th. What a year it has been, fear, happiness, love, faith, pain, hope, reliance on self and others. My reliance on God has grown 10 fold as well as my reliance on others.  I have had to

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The Daring Duo!

learn to trust that God has a plan and have faith to do my best to accept and implement that plan with humility and grace.  I have had to learn to tell the truth when it comes to my needs and capabilities.  I have had to learn to reach out and ask for help when I need it and to fearlessly share all my feelings with you.  Tonight we share our 103rd chapter so far and I need to thank you for sharing them with me.  I could not have made it this far without you and your support.

Don

Quote of the day – Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.

Helen Keller

Day 157 – REALLY?

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Day 157

Almost 2 weeks since I haven’t touched base – slowing down. I have been really tired and coming home to dinner and bed.  Tonight is an effort but you all show up and so can I.  It really does keep me up to have the connection.  Pull yourself together and do what you are supposed to.  It never occurred to me that this whole adventure would lead to a change in me. You get sick and expect to be right back to where you left off.  I am not so convinced that it is possible in the short term with cancer treatment.  Yeah there are the “surface changes.”  Glasses, hearing aids, saliva output down, taste diminished, hair loss, but most of those continue to improve, that aside, there are some things you start to wonder about.  My hat is off to the workers of the world.  I have a new appreciation for a lifestyle that involves regular hours and effort.  I am working Monday 10 – 2, Tuesday and Thursday 12 -4, yoga on Tuesday and Thursday, working on my projects on Wednesday and trying to keep the house clean on Friday.  Result – I am exhausted! well crap that is a lot more than I thought it was until I saw it on paper.  No wonder I’m sore and tired, but in my mind it is so slow coming back.  I am still getting an average of 10 hours of sleep a night but the weekend always has a catch-up day.

Last week while Will was in town Kat took off three days and the three of us went over to Ichnetucknee to float on Wednesday.  It was a beautiful day and nobody was over there so it was extra nice.  We got there early enough that we had the chance to go float down

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Will at Big Shoals

the river twice on Innertubes.  I bailed on the second trip to nap in the car, then Friday, after I worked Thursday, I skipped their trip to Big Shoals for a hike to stay in bed.  So those are the disappointing things and I have no reason to be disappointed.  God provided a wonderful week with Will and Kathy home and that is enough – I can’t force my way to well, and I keep getting good days.  Today the turning club had an event to attract new members and raise money for “Beads of Courage.”  WoodCraft sells the bowls as Mother’s Day presents and we turn in front of the store to drum up traffic.  My partner in crime Tina and I showed up and rocked. Turning and catching up while talking to members and customers on a gorgeous day.  A new turner in the club came by to learn how to turn bowls so Joel got one on one tutoring from Tina and I – He did an awesome job!

Last Sunday Kat took me down to an Acrylic Pour class by Jami Childers and the Art Center.  We learned some pretty awesome techniques and came home with 4 stunning pieces.  Besides if I am not doing something I am napping or sleeping…LOL

Last Saturday we took Will to the airport about 1 and were home in bed by 2, I napped until 6 and moved to the couch so I could be in bed early to take the class.  Oh, this another landmark month.  I am already at the 6 month work-up.  This month is the 2nd blood work, CT scan and PET scan, but that is later in the month.  Finally we have a visitor tonight.  Kat has been doing classes all day and a friend of ours let her daughter Maria come spend the night and have an art night and day with Kathy. Maria is 12 and they have already done ice dyed t-shirts, resin pours, dyed some wood and are currently watching videos and they just started!

And me? I’m going to bed!  A few prayers, some modified activities and I will get a second wind.  I really appreciate having you to talk to – I told you many times that I don’t always get solid information when I talk to myself and Kat gets to listen to it everyday! So goodnight and I will try to get back on schedule……we will see!

Don

 

LESSON OF THE DAY – Enough is as good as a feast.     Sir Thomas Malory

Day 116 – Coming up for air

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Day 117 Compression Mask

This week I have been trying to get on a schedule – ugh I know – it sucks.  My goal was to get up Monday through Friday at 8:30.  Friday morning I woke up in a daze about 8 and I didn’t know what day it was or if Kathy was home.  For the most part it has been very successful and exhausting.  I have worked in the shop 6 days this week and have some progress to show on Eric’s project.  A bunch of rest breaks and slow progress, but I am grateful.  Now I can’t tell you that I actually made it up at 8:30 but 9:15 was the latest and I am okay with that. I made it to

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Chilly in the Shop

yoga 3 times this week but the downfall was when it came time to share with you – there just was nothing left.  I think the latest that I was up was 10 and that was yoga night. On yoga nights I do not get home until 8 and after I eat and sit down it is all over and when Saturday rolled around I did not get up until almost

2.  I barely had time to eat and take a shower before it was time to go celebrate a friend’s life at a memorial yoga practice.  My friend and yoga instructor Tricia lost her son Max to addiction and each year holds a practice to raise money for Gateway Community Services in honor of Max.  We had 85 people show

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4th Annual Practice in memory of Max

up to support her and it was awesome to see some old friends that I had not seen in awhile.  I was in bed by 10 and got up about 9:30 had breakfast and spent wonderful Sunday in the shop and hanging around with Kat.  She worked on “special projects” doing epoxy pours and alcohol ink and started to clean out the flower beds.  She finished off the weekend grilling a rack of lamb and preparing rice, field peas, corn and tomatoes.  I am really glad my taste is coming back!

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New Style Table

I am feeling pretty good!  Like I said tired but it is a good tired and I’m pretty sore.  The taste is still coming back slowly and the saliva glands are working better.  The only time that I have trouble with that is if I talk too much or try to eat to fast.  We grilled hamburgers Saturday night and I ate a whole burger, but it took me an hour to eat it.  I ended up cutting it in bite sized cubes so that I could chew it thoroughly enough to swallow it.  Any bites bigger than that I could not swallow unless I sectioned

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Beautiful Sunday

off my mouth like a squirrel and chewed smaller portions before swallowing.  Yeah I know  – you really needed that picture. I am still drinking the dandelion detox tea at night and have been able to start drinking my normal morning smoothie except I am substituting Ensure instead of coconut milk. I continue to do the daily lymphodema exercises and have been wearing my compression bandage at night.  I am up to keeping it on for 6 hours but it is a struggle.  Because of the toothpaste I have to use at night I cannot drink so at some point I end up with this “paste” in my mouth that I cannot swallow because of the bandage.  That and the itch it puts on the beard I have to get it off.  Weight is holding at 160, but if I keep eating like I am that will be short lived.  I still love the hearing aids and look forward to finding out what else they do next week – who knew!

So next week is another return to doctors appointments.  I have at least one scheduled for each day.  Mostly follow-ups but I do have an eye check-up and I think that I am going to have to buck up and have my prescription changed – ahh the joys of aging and treatment!  I still say both are definitely worth the effort because we have been so blessed by the experience that it is almost indescribable and it has been easier for me to see it especially when I feel better.   All of the efforts are beginning to pay off. I have so much more to say, but it is almost 8 o’clock and I need to still call my Mom and get into bed.  I will try to get with you more this week, but no promises!

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY –  “Thank You” is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.”

Alice Walker

Day 110 – Insights

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Day 110

Happy Monday!  I know – keep it down Don it is Monday, but we all had another day to receive God’s gifts, whether we took the time to enjoy them or not. We have had an action packed couple of days since I shared with you last Wednesday.  Let’s see – Thursday started with me going over to UF Shands to meet with Kim, my lymphedema physical therapist.  She shared with me the “technique” for the massage needed to start the lymph flowing and it is 13 quick massages after you wear a compression bandage for 30 minutes.  I have to wear the bandage when I sleep, but you can see and feel the difference already.  I did yoga that evening but ended up with a primarily sleepless night.  Don’t know why, but I just laid and relaxed.  I got up early Friday because I had a busy day.  Our friends and artists Graeme Priddle  and Melissa Engler from Asheville were spending the night with us. They are traveling to do an installation in Miami for a client.  That means I had to pick up and clean the house and run some errands.  First I picked up the compression bandage – what a joy – not!  It wasn’t bad it is just that medical equipment people, to me, can be very cost driven.  I suppose it is just a necessity of the trade, but they seem more focused on what insurance will and will not pay than they do taking care of your needs.  Next was off to see Angela at Dr Moy’s for my hearing aid fitting.  Guys – WHO KNEW?  I have been re-introduced to a world that I had previously forgotten or didn’t even know about.  If I knew what an impact this would have on my life I would have done it years ago.  The TV is half volume, I can hear all the birds, the noises my truck makes, the washing machine, the sound water makes in the drain, leave crunching under my feet, everything said at a meeting, the rain.  I am blown away by what I can now hear – what a gift and blessing I have received!

Friday night was a blast catching up with Graeme and Mel.  We had BBQ from Gators off Beaver Street; ribs, brisket, sausage and turkey – delicious!  They all consumed “adult beverages” and we swapped stories until we were all tuckered out.  Small world, Mel asked about how I picked UF and I was telling her about this angel doctor that helped us when she suddenly asked if it was Mitchel Turk – It turns out that she is friends with Mitchel and Nadine.  We said our good nights and goodbyes because Saturday morning we had to depart before they did to get to our  SoMMa meeting in Ponte Vedra by 9:30. Here are the links to their work Graeme’s Graeme Priddle Melissa’s Mellisa Engler. We had a demo by pastel artist Lyn Asselta and it was eye opening to see what you could do with pastels. Lyn’s work can be seen here Lyn Asselta.  After the meeting we took a side trip to Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts, what a cool store!  I looks small from the front, but it has the most amazing collection of fine art, basic art and craft items that Kat and I have ever seen.  Each isle is filled with some many products, techniques and ideas that we had to get out of there before we spent the retirement account….LOL.  Here is their website if you are interested  Ponte Vedra Arts and Crafts.  We then headed to one of our favorite 2018-03-17 13.55.59restaurants for lunch, Safe Harbor.  It is on the Inner Coastal on Beach Blvd. and we sat on the porch and stuffed ourselves.  Oysters, blackened and fried trigger, beautiful weather and the best lunch companion in the world!  It is soooo good to be me! We got home about 3:30 and immediately hit the bed. We napped until about 6, got into our pajamas and watched “The Wizard of Lies,” a movie about Bernie Madoff.

Saturday night and Sunday morning were rest catch up for me.  We were in bed by 10 and I slept until noon while Kat worked on finishing her alcohol ink class. Sunday afternoon I made it to the shop to work on Christmas presents until Jan, Albert and Finn stopped by for a visit.  We sat on the porch and collapsed while we caught up with each other’s lives and threw the ball for Finn. We made it to bed early again and I got up about 9 to work on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations.  I made it to Home Depot and worked in the shop until about 4.  I got cleaned up and had leftover ribs and turkey for dinner waiting for my baby to get home.  The days are still tiring and I am stringing more of them together – I just might be getting well.

I have enjoyed the rain today  Last night while we were sleeping we had “thunder boomers” and I don’t remember the last time I was awakened to them.  While I lay there I remembered my parents telling us that it was just the angels bowling.  I don’t know how to explain it other than I felt so relaxed and calm waiting for the next strike.  It probably started Saturday night before we went to bed.  I shared with Kat that I had no idea 5 months ago how much my life would change as a result of having cancer.  It’s not just special toothpastes, compression garments, hearing aids and sleep patterns – it is a new life.  Like sobriety and the loss of Sally it is another wonderful awful experience in my life.  New friends, and a new appreciation of old ones, a renewed relationship with God, the cigarettes are gone, the hummingbirds are back, the sky is bluer, the season more spectacular, I can hear and I love Kat more than ever.  It is like we are dating again and appreciating what we have.  I am thankful, grateful, blessed, excited and full of awe for the world around me.  It gets a little better every day and I still have a way to go, I cannot imagine the things to come.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” —Willie Nelson

Day 105 – Living Life

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Day 105 – We have Beard!

I can’t believe it has been a week since I last shared with you, but time flies when you are having fun!  It has just been good but a bit frustrating.  By the time I get done with my day I have just been ready to go to bed.  Last Thursday I had an appointment with Louise and it went really well – I have been extended to a month!  Then I headed over to yoga and made it home about 8.  Friday was a thrilling day of cleaning house, but I made it all the way through this week including laundry.  Now it took me until 7 and I was pretty worn out but felt really good about getting it done.  Saturday we got to go to a “reveal” party for my nephew Will and his wife Jessa. Apparently this has become the real hip thing to do even to the point where Krispy Kreme sells donuts that are filled with pink or blue filling for the parties.  We all bit in at the same time to find out that it is going to be a boy.  It was fun and Albert and Jan, Daryl and Val are really excited about the prospect of a grandchild.

Sunday was a sleep in morning, it was really funny I was asleep and opened my eyes about 10:30 and the house was so quiet that I thought it was Monday and that I had overslept for my therapy appointment.  I jumped out of bed and went running into the kitchen and saw Kathy with her headphones on the computer!  I just turned back around and fell back into bed and was immediately sleeping again!  I slept until 12:30 but I spent the afternoon in the shop working on a project for Eric at Farmtastic Creations and finishing up a mortar pestle Christmas present. 29133005_10214874070781182_2656956538417053696_n Keoni and Amy stopped by for a minute to pick up some leftover donuts for the pigs then Kat made chicken piccata for dinner with black bean pasta. With the time change and all the activity it was back to bed!

This week hasn’t been as adventurous but Monday I did go to the physical therapist for the lymphedema therapy.  Kim is my therapist and she spent the appointment doing baseline measurements. She is very optimist that we can shrink the “waddle”  and we will get down to it Thursday.  Kat and I ended the day at the woodturner’s meeting where we had a demonstration on turning long thin objects by Ed Malesky.

Then the wall appeared.  I did not wake up until 2 o’clock Tuesday and had to force myself to go to yoga then today I got up about noon and have spent the day on the couch licking my wounds.

Barbara helped me to put it into perspective Monday night.  I have had 5 good days.  They may not have been 100% and I may have been tired and sleeping a bit but I did string 5 together before I had to quit.  That is so much further than I was a month ago and while the last 2 days would have depressed me a month ago, today I can feel good about the accomplishment and understand the need to rest.  I still do feel a little selfish when I tell people I cannot do something, but I  am trying to make intelligent decisions and I have quit imagining what they think.  I am doing the best that I can and cannot help it if that is all that I can do.  We were going to go to Atlanta this weekend to see the American Craft Show Saturday and spend the weekend with my nephew Chaz and his fiance Jovie until Kat pointed out to me that I probably didn’t need to spend all day Friday driving, all day Saturday at the show and all day Sunday driving home with some visiting thrown in the middle.  That is why I love that woman so much – she is so practical…LOL

A kind God, sage advice, prayer and taking action has been very good to me. I feel myself getting healthier and stronger daily.  The best part is that I have been able to to it with a smile and forgiveness in my heart.  Instead of waking up today being mad and disappointed at where I am, I am able to be grateful for the progress and thankful for the time given to me to heal without the pressure to perform. And then I have you, my loving and faithful friends who check on me daily and cheer me on toward healing.  I love you and appreciate you.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does.”   William James

Day 81 – The Beat Goes On

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Heading out for a walk

Sunday night the weather is glorious and the smell of alcohol ink is in the air!  The past 4 days have been spent in repair mode after the 5 day push last week.  I have consistently been sleeping 12 hours, but I have been going to sleep and staying asleep so it has been much better.  It is amazing how letting go and not getting hung up on what you should be doing eases your mind at bedtime.  I have also been taking a nap each day so I guess the symposium and testing was harder on me than I realized.  Today was the first day that I felt like walking this week, 2 nights of yoga was enough extracurricular activity.  My activity with Louise, the weather, prayer and personal work have eased the depression to barely negligible.  I even did okay with Kat spending 3 days cleaning the shop, I worked inside on the taxes and got them ready to submit.  It was probably a good thing I didn’t go out before yesterday.  I went out to help for about 3 hours at the end and wore myself out.  After the group left I could not move or keep my eyes open so I took a nap at 4 and still went to bed by 10:30.

Amy, Keoni and the crowd surprised us with lunch from Fire House and a birthday party for our great niece Baylie.  She doesn’t turn 3 until February 28th but she wanted to make sure that she celebrated with Grandma and Grandpa and we were blessed to be included. We sat outside on the patio and enjoyed a beautiful day.  The only downside was when Baylie’s 5 year old sister Rylie wanted to go out to the shop and turn tops.  They spent a day with Kat and I about a year ago and we spent the day in the shop turning tops and making wooden boats. I had to tell her next visit but we did get out the tops and had spinning competitions to her delight.

Today we got up with aspirations of attacking the world with gusto but settled for another quiet day at home together.  Kathy worked on her alcohol ink class and homework and I went out for a long walk.  I was so struck by the colors and flowers and how fast that they are showing up – God’s palate!

We had an excellent steak dinner and enjoyed a nap together.  I am consistently amazed at my life when I do the things that I am supposed to do.  Of course you have to trust God, set aside your ego, try and help others and take particularly good care of yourself – and we can all read through the history to see how well I do with that…LOL  The good news is that I seem to be getting there more quickly anymore. They keep telling me “Progress not Perfection” and it is starting to maybe sink in.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY -Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.  Charles R. Swindoll

Day 77 – WoooooHooooo!

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Day 77

I know, I know where the HELL have I been??? Dancing with angels that’s where!  What a great week – thank you for helping me get here. Thursday I saw my therapist, who to my dismay just got done with her round of cancer treatment.  Talk about being able to empathize and help me out.  Again it is miraculous  what God puts in my life when I get out of the way and ask for help.  I had not seen Louise in a year and a half and it was like we never missed a beat and I came away recharged.  Of course she wanted to see me again yesterday – but I had improved enough that she unchained me for 3 weeks.  After I left her office Thursday I picked up Sydney and Finn and delivered them to my nephew and niece Will and Jessa so we could go to the Symposium.  Friday morning Kat and I were on the road by 8:30am for our next big adventure.  We drove to Lake Yale Baptist Center for the Florida Woodturning

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Don & Kat’s Excellent Adventure # 2134

Symposium and my 1st venture into the world. Lake Yale is in the Eustis, FL area and is a beautiful drive 21/2 hours away from Jacksonville.  I’ll be honest and tell you that I was scared to death but excited at the same time, but I had a plan to escape to a quiet place if I needed to and was surrounded by understanding and supportive friends so that fear had melted by the time that we finished lunch.  There were 250 turners, and 8 rotations of classes in which you got to choose one of 4 to see.  So I saw 8 different national and local turners who came to share their projects and techniques.  It is an awesome opportunity to learn. There is also a Vendor area to see and buy all the new and trusted goodies available and two evening programs. The attendees are encouraged to bring finished work for the instant gallery to share with the participants. Friday night we had a critique of the instant gallery by the nationals  and a drawing for a 6 $250 shopping sprees with the

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$250 to Spend!

vendors and I won one of the shopping sprees!  OK I’ll wrap up the symposium with one story.  Kat and I shared a room with our friend Tina, because she is so kind and the 3 of us have a freaking blast together.  Friday night we all settled in for quick nights sleep and 1st off a previous occupant had set the alarm and it went off about 1:30 in the morning.  I was slapping the clock radio turning on the radio and finally got it off, then Tina spit out her snore guard and poor Kat was up all night while Tina and I slept like bricks.  After a grumpy Kat start to the day I got some earplugs for her from a friend who is a vendor, Paula, and Kathy slept like a baby Saturday night.  For as much as I was worried I made it each day until midnight and was up at 6:15.  Now I won’t tell you that I was not worn out – We got home about 3:30 on Sunday and I was asleep on the couch by 4, but It really gave me the confidence that I am capable of pushing it if I need to.

This week hasn’t been any better.  Monday I had to be at UF at 9am for a blood test and you know how that goes.  I showed up and signed in then parked it in the waiting room until it was my turn to register.  After I settled in and handed the woman my ID and insurance card she quickly apologized and told me because of my insurance I had to go to LabCorp and oh and you need to go to the Proton Therapy Center to get your orders so they can do the draw. It was alright, but I felt sorry for the tech who had to stick me 3 times to find a vein.  Next was running by Jan’s to pick up Sydney and home for a nap before we headed out to the Woodturners meeting.  Kat was our demonstrator sharing how she makes her amazing rain-stick.

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Dazzling Execution

Tuesday was a 9am meeting for my CT scan and PET scan.  These are the 2 tests that will show us if we got the cancer.  They get read on the 27th at 10am and I am a little nervous but like Kat said to me -“If we didn’t get it we will go at it again.” (Easy for her to say!)  They took about 3 hours and I was back home to eat and catch a nap before an appointment with Louise and yoga.  Today I slept until noon and took a nap at 3, I just couldn’t go anymore.  But today it was okay.  I could take solace in the fact that I knew it was time to lay down and I don’t feel bad about the need to do it.  I asked God for the willingness to face my fears, held my breath and took the plunge.  It helped that I was surrounded by people to watch me and give me guidance and I will not do it every week……..yet, but damn I’m a lot more confident and secure than I was. Tonight my beautiful bride and I went out for dinner to celebrate Valentines Day.  I really love this woman it was so nice to spend the evening with each other, as a matter of fact this week has been amazing.  We have shared our versions of the journey and I have been able to walk her through my feelings as they occurred.

So tonight I sit ready to retire with my confidence back, my mood better than it has been in weeks and not constricted by my perceived limitations.  Life is good and I am blessed by God, friends and a wonderful life – what more could I ask for.  Happy Valentines Day my friends, good night.

Don

LESSON OF THE DAY – “We should not judge people by the peak of their excellence; but by the distance they have traveled from the point where they started.”

Henry Ward Beecher