It is with great joy that I announce here, wide and far, throughout the world and across the blogosphere, that my daughter, Emma, is engaged to be married. Emma’s fiancé, James, asked her the question while they were in Nimh Binh, Vietnam, one of the most beautiful places on earth.  Check out this beautiful ring that they designed themselves.

Engaged in Nimh Binh, Vietnam

Yesterday I heard someone say that once a person becomes a parent they think of their children every two seconds for the rest of their lives. I can attest to this truth because I think of Emma and Jim (my son), it seems, all the time. And,  although we raise them to be independent, educated, self sufficient adults, I am habitually concerned for their welfare as if they were still young children. That concern, I am sure, will never change.

Now, Emma will be a married woman with, eventually, a family of her own, God willing. However, Emma is still and will always be my little girl. So, while I share in her happiness, I still have a protective instinct in the back of my mind. 

This event has been on fiancé James’ mind for a while.  When visiting us in Connecticut the summer before last, James and I went on a long hike along the Metacomet trail. He asked me at that time if I would consider the possibility of he being my son-in-law. James is a classy guy. We discussed the things that I thought a father should discuss with his daughters suitor. James is British. He hails from a town near Devon. He teaches at an international school in Hanoi, writes extensively and plays semi pro football (Soccer to us Yanks). James is an intelligent, hard working , thoughtful and kind. I sincerely believe he is a good match for Emma. They care for each other very much. Needless to say, I am pleased with Emma’s choice.

Looking into the future for this couple, as much as we would like to have them near us, this may not come to pass. The world is the canvas on which they will paint the picture of their life. Somehow I believe that great adventures await them. If, on the other hand, they decide to live their life in a small hamlet and never go beyond it’s boundary, they, I am sure, will have a wonderful life together no matter what.

Test Drive 2

Yesterday I hiked a measured fifteen miles on the Metacomet Trail. It is a section that I had not previously walked and plan to include it in the Bataan Memorial March. There was one point that had me concerned, The Pinnacles. It was not nearly as bad as Rattlesnake Mountain. So, I think I have settled on the route. Keep the Metacomet Trail. Start at the Mass boarder and walk the Metacomet home. That will be a little over the 26.2 mile goal. Another positive about this hike is that my friend Ed joined me.

Again I found some great views. This is the view from The Pinnacles:

On the negative side, I did find a tick this morning. So far it does not have the”Bull’s Eye” that indicates Lyme disease. Unfortunately this is something that is of concern in New England. The disease is named after Lyme, Connecticut.

I want to end on a positive note. It looks like Jim will join me on the march as an unofficial participant. It will be great to have some company on the endeavor. Also, my friend Ed may also join. But Ed travels from his work base in DC and has a demanding job.

Test Drive

Today I hiked a portion of the Metacomet Trail that was new to me. A section that I was considering for the Bataan March. When Tina dropped me off she questioned if I was going to climb a high cliff that was in front of us. Yes, and it turned out that that cliff was not nearly the worst.

It was great to be on the trail. The road noise slowly diminished in the distance. I wondered if this hardwood forest looked anything like the times of ” The Last of the Mohicans”. Maybe I could be Natty Bumppo walking an Indian tray. The views along the way we’re fabulous.

Later I came across a couple of fellows that were getting ready to rappel off one of the high cliffs. The one that was apparently the learner looked scared. I am going to stick to walking.

This is not an easy part of the Metacomet. There were several steep rocky parts. It made for slow progress.

As I was walking on the east side of a valley I noted a very high and steep hill on the other side. I remarked that I was glad that I did not have to climb that one. No such luck. It is called “Rattlesnake Mountain”. The trail goes right over the top.

Are you kidding, the trail goes through there? Yes it does.

We are in the very first hints of spring. And, that was evident in the hike. I saw a number of butterflies, one box turtle and some of the marshes were full of whistling frogs. Don’t know what kind of grog but there were so many that it sounded like a chorus. Did not see a bear but, there was a siting in the neighborhood when I got home.

Made it home. But, I am going to rethink including this portion in my march. After all, I am 73

Continuing Prep

Making a bit of progress for Bataan march. We located the starting position on the Metacomet Trail. The trail appears to be well blazed at that point. I found a trail map on Amazon; REI was of little help. I plan to walk the portion that I have not previously walked some time soon after I get the map from Amazon. I do not want to be lost in the woods the day of the march.

Did about fifteen miles yesterday with my friend Ed. I am not dead so there is a chance of success if I can keep it up.

I also went over the items in my first aid kit, pictured here. Focus on blisters. The metal item is a pair of needle nose tweezers. We have ticks in New England, home of Lyme Disease. This is redundant for anyone reading from the NMMI team as I posted a similar post on the chat site.

If I there is a prize for the most boring blog post in Christandome, I will surely win with this one.

Per suggestions from the team, I am adding ibuprofen. Also suggested was a knife and toenail clippers. I will add these in a separate pocket in the pack. I believe I will also add an antihistamine.

Getting ready

It turns out that I have some explaining to do. Everyone is not familiar with the Bataan Death March, including my wife Tina. At the beginning of World War Two and after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese invaded the Philippines. The Philippines were then a possession of the United States. The American and Filipino defenders fought the invasion under terrible conditions. The last hold outs were on the Islands of Corregidor, and Luzon. The defeated soldiers were marched to their internment camps up the Bataan Peninsula. Bataan is a peninsula in Manila Bay. During the march many of the soldiers were killed by their captors or died due the terrible conditions of the march. This became known as the Bataan Death March. The march I am doing commemorates this event. The conditions in the camps were horrific to the end of the war. The American and Filipino soldiers were liberated when the Japanese were driven from the Philippines years later by Douglas McArthur’s army.

In addition to the conditioning that is the most important prep for the march, there is a bunch of house cleaning items that I need to take care of. Fortunately I have the proper clothes, a poncho, wool hiking sox, hat and first aid kit. I have a hydration pack but I need a new bladder for it. I also need new shoes. My second pair of trail runners are completely worn out. I plan to stay with Hoka Speedgoats but I may go with a different insert as the wear pattern is funny.

I have mapped a route along the Metacomet Trail. I am going to have to include a portion that is not familiar to me. I can include it as part of my prep. This afternoon I plan to take a trip to my intended starting position.

I have reached out to son Jim and to hiking partner Ed. It would be fun to have some company on part of the march. In addition Tina has said that she would like to march the last couple of miles.  This could be great in that I plan to finish with a loop around Penwood Forest. I will need to do this to insure that I complete an entire 26.2 miles. Big talk now as I could be dying half way through.

Since I may be including others whose schedules may not match mine, I may have to alter the starting day.  The official march is on the 10th of April. However, the virtual march can happen between 9 April and 18 April.

On to the next

When I worked for Hitachi, I was always perplexed by their moto “Inspire the Next”. The next what??

With the end of Covid-19 appearing on the horizon I find that I need a next inspiration. To be truthful, I was not aware that I needed an inspiration. Then I opened an email from my high school alumni association. It was a notice for a virtual team event, the Bataan Memorial Death March. With a name like that, how could I resist? The actual event is a forced march in the White Sands Missile Range with packs. Fortunately for me this year will be a virtual event, I would not necessarily be slugging through deep sand, over high mountains, in desert conditions with a 35 pound pack, I may be nuts but I am not that crazy. I plan to do the “civilian light” version. Virtually hike in New England with no pack. I plan though, to do the 26.2 miles.

I joined my alumni team for the march. We had our first Zoom meeting this afternoon. Our team has participants from coast to coast. There is one guy who will be doing the march in Germany. So far I am the oldest, oldest by probably twenty years.

I plan to keep posting about my progress. When posting about my previous treks I have had the quandary of what to call it. A hike, a trek, a walk a footslog perhaps. March sounds good. If I am blessed to be able to do a future footslog, I will call it a march.

First Ski Day

Today I am planning to go to the local ski area for the first time this season. Armed with my senior pass and new skis I wonder how long I will last.

There are new procedures due to Covid-19. They encourage “Chalet” in your car. That means don’t go into the lodge. I am planning to take a folding chair and a gas space heater. I am not convinced that this scheme is going to work. When I picked up my skis from being tuned at the shop at the slope, I did not notice anyone following the procedures. I could be mistaken.

Usual mishaps: forgot my ski poles and was missing one glove. So, two trips in one day. Did have the heater with a new container of gas and a chair, neither were needed. As I go at low volume times there was plenty of room in the lodge to stay more than Covid-19 separated.

The other Covid-19 precautions in place were omnipresent masks and social distancing in the lift lines. Going at a low volume time made it seem normal. I hope to make it to the slope a couple times a week, as long as the snow lasts.

Changed to a better mask later
Seems I have a private hill

Goodbye 2020

I have not made a post in a long time. But today is New Years Eve and it is about time I started again. I believe my inspiration came when I picked up my skis from being tuned. I redid my schedule for next week so I can get to the mountain. Outside, staying out of the lodge, six-foot spacing, I figure I can keep as Covid-19 free as anywhere. I will plan to write again during my first ski day.

But, tonight is New Years Eve and Tina and I are looking forward to a fun and very special evening. Looking back at my posts I note that I had not mentioned our guest, Eunice. Eunice is a boarding student at Miss Porter’s School. She is here from Kenya for her junior year at MPS. Eunice was first with us last year for her Christmas break. Due to Covid-19 she has been with us this year since Thanksgiving. (MPS has shut down the campus and is doing remote classes like many other schools). Tonight she and two of her friends, fellow boarding school students from Kenya, are making us a traditional dinner.

Please meet Salma, Mollet, and Eunice.

Salma is at the Buffalo Seminary in Buffalo, New York, Mollet is at the Brooks School in North Andover, MA and, as I mentioned, Eunice is at Miss Porter’s School here in Connecticut. They are all staying in the Farmington area during the Christmas break.

Cooking in the African style is not easy.

I wish everyone could hear the East African music that goes along with all this activity

The dinner was great:

Plantains – the banana
Nyama – the stew
Chapati – like tortilla
Ugali – the white wedge, to scoop the Nyama
Sukuma – the greens

Happy New Year to all!

One More Sam Post

Life has become unusual with our ever present companion, Covid-19. Because life has become disrupted, I note that I have come to focus inward instead of toward the outside world. This has lead, for better or worse, to fewer blogs from me. But I do not want for this blog to be about me but the world I encounter around me. This post is a second one about my friend, Sam. Sam recently passed. I have already posted about Sam’s passing but I have had some further thoughts. With these posts I am not attempting to create a word monument to Sam as, I am sure, he would look on that endeavor with overwhelming disdain.

Recently I was sent a copy of the notes used for Sam’s memorial service. Reading it, I became aware of a very interesting difference in perspective between the eulogists relationship with Sam and my relationship with Sam. I knew Sam as a young man ready to take on the world. The eulogist knew Sam at the end of his life, a man who had taken on the world. My recollection is through a fog of fifty five years. The eulogist’s is crystal clear in the moment. Sam had become quite an accomplished individual and one who was “humble” and very giving of himself, his knowledge and understanding of the way life is. The following are from the notes used for the eulogy starting with the biblical references used:

Acts 26: 24,25 (ASV)

1 Corinthians 3 :18 (I assume ASV)

2 Timothy 4:13 (NKJV)

Let it be known that I am no biblical scholar so anything that I might say or even hint at regarding theology should be taken with a truly large grain of salt. Drawing from these texts the eulogist made the following notes to describe the man Sam had become:

“How do we begin to describe Bro Sam? There are many adjectives which we could use to describe him, depending on the length of time one knew him. I would use adjectives such as quiet reserved, intent, always inquiring. As a college professor, study was continually necessary to adequately convey fact and appreciation to his students.

“Higher education is a two edged sword – either the person is benefitted personally to recognize and truly appreciate the cumulative knowledge of mankind, as well as the vastness of God and His creation, and to be able to pass that appreciation on to others, or it warps the personality and mental process to induce artificial arrogance, pride, and stupidity that we are witness to in this present time in our nation.

“It takes a truly humble person to realize he/she doesn’t know everything. As one progresses higher and higher in educational circles, there is a tendency to wrap oneself in the mantle of ‘whatever you want to know, just ask me!’ The resultant obnoxiousness destroys any credibility they might have had.

“It is to the glory of God and to Bro Sam’s credit that he rejected the dangerous side of higher education. He was in the less that two (2) percent of Americans who had an earned PhD, and yet he never brought it up.” It has been a privilege for me to have seen and remembered Sam at the beginning of his life’s journey and to see him toward the end of his journey. I remember Sam as smart, talented and energetic young fellow. He was full of life. He was ready and anxious to take on the world. Then life happened as it happens to all of us. I am sure Sam had challenges and disappointments. Likewise, I am sure that he had triumphs and joy. I have no idea if Sam amassed wealth, we never talked about money. I am sure that the eulogist painted an accurate word picture of the man that Sam had become. He seems to have turned out to be a pretty accomplished individual. It is also interesting for me to note that Sam had become to have serious religious convictions. It is also interesting to me that both he and I have embraced Christianity although by different paths. Sam has truly passed from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. If words are said over me at the end of my life, it would be great if they were to approach the delight of those that were said over Sam.

Thought it would be interesting to add photos of Sam:

The Sam I Knew
Sam the Man

By the way, want to see what I looked like when I knew Sam?

Monhegan Island

We made it to Monhegan Island. To get here one has to take a small passenger ferry. The scenery is gorgeous. The boat trip can be an adventure.

Monhegan Island is truly a special place. The vistas are spectacular; the village is like stepping back a hundred years in time. Few autos and no paved roads. I do, however get an impression that the locals would just as soon you send in your money and not show up on the island. Lots of artists here. When we arrived two art classes were in progress at the place we were staying. The landscape is reminesant of Ireland but, without the sheep droppings.

There is a small brewpub on the island, one of the few businesses. There is a lot of concern about a water shortage; which makes me curious as to why a brewery can operate.

One of the great things about doing this blog is that I can write about anything I choose. This morning I am thinking about Jonathan, Tina’s cousin’s son. Jonathan is going in for a scheduled operation today, he is getting a cochlear implant. The age we live in is truly amazing to me. That we have technology to do such wonderful things. Jonathan is one of the fellows that I correspond with regarding investments. He is in the finance business and is quite knowledgeable and insightful. I am confident that Jonathan will come though the procedure with no issues. He is young, healthy and has a fabulous family and extended family for support. He will certainly not lack for prayers. I am hoping for a quick recovery because I am thinking about changing my position in gold. (Tongue in cheek comment, I am not quite that intrusive, at least I hope I am not)