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  • I had such a full weekend scheduled, there really wasn’t time nor opportunity for the full impact of the good health news I received on Friday to really sink in, until this morning, at my Monday morning meditation meeting.

    After our visit to the V.A. on Friday, where I received the good news, we had to go straight to Costco to purchase all the beer, wine, sodas, and what-not, for our church’s annual chili cook-off Saturday night, which Kathy and I have coordinated for the past ten years.

    As soon as we got home from Costco, I headed out for a night of poker with the guys. I had missed the last one, so I didn’t want to miss this one. I enjoy getting together with these guys, usually once a month or so, for an evening of relaxation and fun. It’s never really about winning or losing at the poker table (although it’s just a little more fun when you win!) – it’s the comraderie and light-heartedness of the evening with guys I’ve mostly known for a good while, although there usually is a new guy or two in the mix, as well. I didn’t have my best night with the cards, but did enjoy the company, immensely.

    Saturday morning, I had my follow-up session with the counselor I’m seeing through work’s EAP program. I still don’t know exactly why I am doing that, other than the fact that I don’t feel like I am showing up with 100% of the excellence that I want to be showing up with at work, and want to find out why. There’s something there that just isn’t revealing itself to me, and I think I need to figure out what it is. After Saturday’s session, I have a much better sense that I am there for a reason, and that these sessions will help me to achieve that end. She gives me things to consider, that I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise, and I think will eventually help guide me to the insight I’m seeking, to what’s causing me to hold back, there.
  • After that, it was pretty much shifting into preparation mode for the Chili Cook-off, which the past two years has brought out well over 200 participants, and a lot of chili. I pretty much focus on getting all the beer, wine and soda from my car to the make-shift bar, get it all iced down, then set up shop there for the evening, as the bartender. I do that really well. (It’s probably good to have a bartender who doesn’t actually drink, himself, right?)

    Kathy makes sure everything else is set up, with the help of whomever shows up to volunteer, and lets me know when she needs me to do something for her. After about an hour of getting it all set up, the evening goes by very quickly, as the chili and the participants all start showing up, the band arrives to play good music, and we’re off to the races for a wild and fun night of chili-eatin’, dancin’, and just good, old-fashioned down home family fun.

    After the previous minister who was here for 8 or 9 years left last year, the size of the congregation fell off a good bit, as so often happens when there’s a ministerial change, so the crowd wasn’t quite as big this time – about 175. There were a lot more kids, and a lot more younger parents, so the bar was not nearly as busy as it’s been in recent years. We had a lot more leftover beverages to turn over to the auction committee. The church auction happens next month, so whatever we don’t use, they do. It works out nicely that way.

    I had a great chat with Ken, the guy who helps us the most with set-up – he handles setting up all of the electrical cords and outlets in a way that won’t trip off any breakers when 40 -50 crockpots full of chili all get plugged in at once. He’s been doing this for 3 or 4 years now, which used to be one of the many things I had to do, and is such a relief for me not to have to worry about the power issues. He’s our most valuable volunteer.
  • He approached me while we were cleaning up after the event, and said he heard Kathy talking to someone about a tumor I had in my head? I gave him the whole rundown, and he was just nodding his head in a very knowing way the whole time. He then filled me in on his medical challenges. He, too, had an extremely rare condition that he was lucky to get a doctor who specialized in, to work with him, plus he had a few more challenges.

    Ken’s just a couple years older than me, but like me, in good shape, other than his health challenges. He, also like me, is planning to live to age 100, and his doctors tell him, despite his health challenges, they see no reason for him to plan otherwise. It was great chatting with him. We “got” each other. I’ll probably be staying more in touch with him, going forward, and not just waiting until next year’s chili cookoff to reconnect, like we normally do.

    Sunday, we had a 12 Noon hockey game to go to. Our home team (Washington Capitals) always plays a home game at noon on Super Bowl Sunday, and we always go. It’s a great way to kick off the day.

    This year, we went early and enjoyed a super brunch at the Acela Club in the Verizon Center before puck drop. Our team won a hard-fought game, so Super Bowl Sunday was off to a jamming start. When we got home, I had to run all the leftover beverages, which filled up the back of my car, over to the person who’s handling the church auction’s house, stopped at the store on the way back to pick up dinner, then finally settled in to watch the super bowl at home.

    I’ve never been into Super Bowl parties. I just like watching the game at home, usually alone or with my son, when he lived with us. I used to like watching it with my father, back in the day. It was one of our few bonding moments, way back then, and I guess I still like how it reminds me of him. Same with my father-in-law. For a number of years, I watched it with him, and it still reminds me of him when I’m watching the Super Bowl. So, I guess, I’m really not watching it alone.
  • To me, it’s still just the NFL Championship game – I’ve never given in to the whole hoopla of it being some mega-party event that you have to do with a bunch of people. It’s the last big sporting event before the pitchers and catchers report to spring training, and the “real” sports season (baseball) gets going.

    Of course, there’s also hockey to bridge the gap, there. We’re hopeful our team this year will seriously cut into baseball season (i.e., go deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, maybe even win the Stanley Cup! “Shhh..don’t jinx it!") I keep telling my wife that, even though they’re having their best season ever, I refuse to get excited until they make it to the 3rd round of the playoffs. (They’ve never made it past the second round in the 16 years we’ve been following them).

    Anyway, with all of this activity this weekend, the real significance, and appreciation, of my change in health status didn’t really hit me until I was sitting in my meditation meeting this morning, just enjoying the quiet, the lack of activity, and the spirit of the meditation. A deep sense of appreciation and gratitude welled up from within, and I just felt like the rest of this day has been a living “Thank You.” I hope to keep this sense and attitude going, for as long as I can. It’s a good sense and attitude to have. It beats the hell out of fear!

    I have a lot to be thankful for. Among the many things, the unwavering support and thoughts of many of you who have endured my many stories on the subject of my health, my inner ear journey, and on and on. Now, we get a shift of scenery – from the inner ear, to the middle ear. I call that a move in the right direction!
    Photos: First three shots are from Copenhagen, taken on our Baltic Sea Cruise in 2010. The last one is Kathy and I with the winners of the three categories in the Chili Cook-off - Veggie, Youth, and Carne (Meat).
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