Tag Archives: friends

Re-post of an entry about my Cerebral Palsy

Greetings, readers. As I wrote yesterday, I have a shift at my job today and left the blog to Rebecca. She said she would either write a new post or re-post a little-read-but-worthy one just like she did last week, and it turns out she chose to re-post. She picked one from the end of my second full year of blogging, where I wrote about my Cerebral Palsy and how it worked in my life. Thank you for reading. I’ll be back next week.

CP and me

November 15, 2013

Greetings, readers. This is my one and perhaps only blog entry dealing completely with my affliction from cerebral palsy. I have been looking at blogs and websites about CP for a project, and have connected with a couple of people in the same boat, and I now have my own case on my mind. I have mentioned my CP in this blog here and there, but I have not done a post about it and how it effected my life.

I have had it since birth and will die with it. However, thanks to my well-meaning but over-protective parents, I didn’t know I had it until around the age of 16. Up until that point, I was simply told that I had a weak left side and the whole topic of being different from other people really didn’t come up at the dinner table.

Let’s start from childhood. Vivid memories of Tuesday evening swimming lessons at the Bellefonte, Pennsylvania YMCA conjure up images of cold swimming pools and a little boy trying not to drown. I remember thinking to myself that I should be able to do what all the other kids were doing – swimming. I could just barely tread water. I knew it was time to quit when my favorite part of the evening was when it was time to leave, and I could put my quarter into the vending machine and get my plastic NFL helmet for my collection.

Around the age of 10 or so, I suffered what I still call to this day my klutz year. I was a normal active boy enjoying Nerf football and Whiffle ball, but in the span of twenty-one weeks I suffered three broken fingers, one smashed elbow, and a broken wrist … all on the same arm. The arm that I tended to fall to – the left. I was cast-free for one week before I smashed my elbow, then for one day before I clobbered my wrist. Not deterred from wishing to feel normal, I continued to play outdoor sports.

In my 20s, I remember playing racquet ball, with my friend from high school, which can be a brutal sport. We created our own game and called it Tenaquet. We served overhand and we gave each other two ball bounces rather than one. That aided my bad balance and Jim’s bad knee. What fun we had. When my knees and my back started to go haywire, I had to officially ‘retire’ from sports.

Around this time, it was becoming painfully obvious that attending Penn State University day classes was not for me. I was having a very hard time with taking notes and I was a horrible test taker. Later I figured out why. Even though I can read, my retention isn’t quite up to par. I had to withdraw and never did finish. I think Mom understood, but was in denial that her son couldn’t finish college. Just a couple of years ago, I found out from my Godmother that Mom had the measles when she was pregnant with me. This could explain why my brain didn’t develop correctly. Perhaps in some strange way she felt responsible. Which of course was ridiculous. Things happen.

As I briefly mentioned in other blog posts, things like my balance and fine motor skills are effected; not to mention the fact that I have seizures. But every day I do the best that I can do. I can just give people 100% of all I’ve got on any particular day.

On the positive side of my mild CP: I can walk, I can jog, I can drive a car. I can write. And I can give a fairly proficient air guitar show. Also, with the help of Flight Simulator X, I can even be, in a way, what I always wanted to be growing up as a kid, which was an airline pilot.

Overall I would have to say that my life has been good and I have learned to live with my mild disability as best I can. Having the knowledge as a child that I have CP may or may not have made a difference. Who knows, I might have been worse off. Unless someone invents a reliable time machine, I will never know.

Until next week, have a great weekend, take care, and happy reading.

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Bear Spring Camps opening day 2017

Greetings, readers. Although Bear Spring Camps has a relatively short season of only four and a half months, I do get excited on opening day. I’ve been going to this camp, located in central Maine, since I was five years old, and have truly loved every moment of it. As I get older though, and as my monetary situation changes, it is becoming obvious that my years at camp are numbered. I might only be able to go another three to five years. I have learned through inspirational videos to treasure every moment of life, which is how I am looking at the camp experience.

I saw on the Facebook page for Bear Spring Camps that Peg and Ron are beginning their 34th year of them running the business. The camp opened in 1910. Peg’s grandfather started it, and at some point her father and mother took over the day-to-day running of the camp. At the beginning, it was truly a fishing camp, with quite rudimentary cabins. Now they are quite plush and filled with modern conveniences like small refrigerators, and new wood stoves in some of the cabins. Last year my cabin got an upgrade with new wall insulation and a larger living room area. I really like it. I’m going to keep that cabin as long as I’m able to.

When I was younger, I would buy a calendar at a souvenir shop in Belgrade Lakes and number the days until I would be back at camp again. I was that obsessed with it. I don’t do that any more, but I do keep track of things like the camp’s opening day, closing day, and I still do get very excited about two weeks before I am to arrive for my week at camp in August.

I wanted to take Traci with me this year, and still might if I can talk her into it, as it will feel strange being engaged and not with her for 10 days. We will miss each other of course, and talk to each other every morning and evening on the phone. That is what we did last year and it worked very well.

As a long time Bear Spring Camper, I wish Ron and Peg Churchill and family a successful 2017 camp season, and I can’t wait until August when I will get there for my week at camp. I will fish, swim, go on pontoon rides, visit with family and friends, and have my annual happy hour. As many of you know, I am a man of tradition.

Next week I am expecting a two blog work week. One of them hopefully will be a top ten list. Until then, I bid you a great weekend, take care, enjoy the warmth, and as always, happy reading.

I leave for Bear Spring Camps a week from tomorrow

Greetings, readers. A week from tomorrow I shall be on my way to Maine. How this year flew. In my mind I already have the list of things to take, which is going to include the Yahtzee game and other small items such a the binoculars and a camera. Obviously I can’t take everything in my apartment, the rental car’s trunk is only so big.

I’ll be taking my computer and music, as always, as well as headphones. It seems that no matter where I go, I need to have my tunes with me. It has been a hot humid summer in Maine, as well as here in Pennsylvania, so I’ll be sure to pack my swim trunks; it looks very much like I am going to be literally jumping in the lake. It is very refreshing when it is 85 or 90 degrees. Now that I am older, it has to be that hot for me to go into the water. I remember David and I as teenagers would be out there frolicking in the water trying to clobber each other with rafts in temperatures in the upper 60s. We were young, wet and having fun. We didn’t care about feeling cold.

I’m definitely going to miss Traci while I’m gone, and she is going to miss me. She has already informed me that she wants to go next year. I’ll have to try to get us a different cabin with a ramp for smoother entry in to the front door.

I expect to catch big fish this year, as well net many for David. We have a pontoon boat for the week, so it will be easier for me to get on and off, and will have plenty of places to sit. The older I get the more I can’t handle the small fishing boats. Another added bonus is that the 50 horse-power engine can get us where we are going twice as fast.

Camp evenings are blocked off for three very important things. My alone time for taking notes for possible new book stories, or just meditating. Yahtzee nights with friends and family. And there will be at least one evening with singing and storytelling with the younger kids.

As for the rest of this week and next, I’ll be filling out a job application on-line tomorrow, we will have a blog post on Friday, and as for next Wednesday I will probably be packing. We will see if I can squeeze one more blog entry in from me before I leave. Fear not though, for while I am gone Rebecca will put new material up every few days. Oh, yes, another year of blogging is not only upcoming but highly anticipated.

Until Friday, I bid you a good couple of days, watch yourselves in this heat wave, take care, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Two entries in a row!

Actually, two entries in a row from me usually means Joe is in Maine, but not today. He is getting ready for his weekend trip to New Jersey with Traci, for his Goddaughter’s wedding, and asked me to do the entry again while he does things like laundry and packing. He is over his cold and feeling much better.

If he was doing today’s post, his topic probably would have been the crash of TWA Flight 800 on July 17, 1996 as the 20th anniversary is coming up. It is possible that he might still do an entry about it next week. Regular blog readers know that Joe loves planes and simulated flying, and watches shows, like Air Crash Investigations, to find out what goes wrong when planes crash. It angers him when people die because of problems that could have been avoided, and it saddens him when people die when it could not be avoided.

Switching topics, I read a book this week that really got me thinking. It was a novel by Liane Moriarty called What Alice Forgot. It is about a woman who hits her head and loses the last ten years of her memory. To Alice it is the year 1998 and she has to adjust to the fact that it is really 2008. In 1998 she was happily married, pregnant for the first time, with close relationships to her sister and friends. In 2008 she is in the middle of getting divorced, has three children, has a thinner body from a diet and exercise routine, all new friends, and the people she used to be close to are angry with her or distant. She is confused by all the change just a decade made to her life. She doesn’t know her children, and is amazed by how wild and precious they are, with such distinct personalities. She seems to have a full schedule with many projects, school functions with her kids, a lot of appointments; she had a busy life. In the week after her accident, she approaches decisions and interactions in a fresh way, as an outsider to her life, because she doesn’t remember any of the recent history that would have dictated her responses. It seems that a large part of the time she had been angry, tense, bitter, willing to lash out to hurt others, and lonely. When she relates to people from how she felt about them in 1998, she changes the relationships for the better. She doesn’t remember her appointments, so when one comes up she either misses it or has to wing it. Then she gets her memory back, including memories of her children being born and growing, and the real trick becomes to keep the positive changes while not losing the good things from the past decade.

As I read this book, I started to think about what changes have been in my life in the last decade. If I had a pause in time with a fresh slate, what would I want to change, and what would I want to keep? I did lose a lot in the last decade – my church disbanded and I lost touch with my friends from there, my mom and father-in-law both died and I miss them both, I have let my step-dad drift out of my life, and my jobs are completely different. I gained some things too – I am close to my dad, sisters and my nephews and niece, I work with my good friend Joe, and I have a much closer relationship with my dear mother-in-law. One of the things that has remained constant is my love for and from my husband, Darren. I don’t know if I will follow through on these things, but I should see my friend Nora again and visit my step-dad Bob.

The other day I was hanging out with Darren, no TV or books or other distractions, and it was nice. I noticed my mind was racing with what I still had to do that day, and I thought of Alice. I relaxed and tried to think about just that moment and enjoy time with my husband. No history, no future, just him and me. I need to do that more.

If Joe were writing this he would also add something about the people killed in violence these past weeks. The deaths that happened just before the ambush in Dallas, during the attack on police in Dallas, and yesterday in Nice, France. From both of us, to the family and friends who lost loved ones in these events, our hearts and prayers go out to you.

Until next week, stay safe, be cool in the heat, have a good weekend, and happy reading.

Thank you readers for staying with us. Here is #500.

Greetings, readers. When Rebecca and I began this blog in late 2011, I never dreamed that we would still be going now. Not only are we still going, but numbers and popularity seem to be on the rise. I know quite a few regular readers personally. I love it. Today’s entry is going to be a thank you and a quick recap of some of our most popular blog posts.

It is with my deepest gratitude and my appreciation that I say a heartfelt thank you to all the people who have read this blog over the years. Some of my regular readers leave comments, and I take the time to read and respond to each and every one of them. It helps me to have that feedback and connection when it happens. I am grateful to the readers who have reached out to me.

The most read blog entry, by far, is still Top ten list of Air Crash Investigation stories, from September 2013. This probably is caused by the continued search for the downed Air Malaysia 370 flight. But I also know from the search terms used that I can see in the stats, that a lot of the views for this entry are from fans of the show. I also am a fan, which why I wrote it in the first place. It still intrigues me that so many look at this entry each and every day. It is always at the top of the stats or near it. Many people have also looked at my follow up about the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl team crash, though not as many have looked at that as have looked at my post In memory of Air Florida Flight 90. Suffice it to say, that the blog entries about airliners and airline disasters seem to be my most popular.

Another entry that comes up a lot in the stats every month is the one I wrote in 2012, Remembering my father, Professor Joseph J. Kockelmans, and that truly warms my heart. The majority of comments I have received have been from former students of his, and their kind words about my father are special to me. To think that Pop is still enriching people’s lives years after his passing is truly amazing.

The entry that Rebecca and I still get a chuckle about is the Top ten list of modern conveniences, from February 2013. Rebecca and I both think that it’s being used as a teaching aid, perhaps in a college or university. If any of our regular readers know what this entry is actually used for so often, please do tell. We would love to know.

The From Rebecca series is also quite popular I’ve noticed, and they do get many reads, which I’m sure puts a smile on Rebecca’s face. I think it is cool too. The one that keeps coming up so much is From Rebecca: A little bit in a hurry. We don’t know why. It was written in August of 2012 while I was on the road to Maine a few years ago.

We have a direct link to Facebook and Twitter. My friends on both social medias learn about the new blog entry almost immediately after it is published. Over the last few months, I’ve noticed that more and more of my friends are coming over from there to read my blog. I am extremely happy about this. I have 250 some odd friends on Facebook, and it is exciting to see the numbers that are generated from there. They seem to especially respond when I write about something extremely personal, which I will admit I don’t do all the time. I’ve known some of them for many years, and I care about them as much as they seem to care about me.

As I’ve said before, I have no immediate plans to end the blog. I am seriously considering self-publishing a second blog book. Most of my 500 entries were written after the first book, Greetings, Readers: A Year in the Life of a New Blogger, was published in 2013. Rebecca and I will work on that quite soon.

It is with my utmost joy and appreciation that I close this entry by once again saying thank you to you my readers who have kept this blog such a joy for me to write. Until Friday, have a great couple of days, take care, and, as always, happy reading.

I should mind my own darn business

Greetings, readers. As the caring person that I am, one fault comes with that, and that is I always want to know how people are doing. I’ll ask people how they are, what’s new, and in general, strike up a conversation about anything. Most people don’t mind and converse back with me. Some give me the look like I’m the talkative mentally slow guy. That hurts a little, but I know where I’m coming from, so it really doesn’t bother me that much.

I think my friendliness stemmed from two places: my parents’ upbringing and Bear Spring Camps. My folks were very caring people, always loved a good conversation, and would go out of their way to help somebody. At Bear Spring Camps, friendliness is the key word of the day. I remember many instances in the main dining room where friends and I would talk about the morning fishing trip or how the afternoon happy hour went.

When I was a youngster in school – and this might stem from being an only child – I would say hi and be friendly to anyone who would accept me. This had its advantages and its disadvantages. The advantages were that I did make some good friends. But, as we all know, kids can be cruel. Those that didn’t like my chatter, let me know it in a rather not nice way.

My best friend Dave always kept me entertained by playing ball or listening to records, so after school I always had someone to talk to. When he wasn’t around, I would put on the headsets and start to sing. That is why there was cracked paint in my room. Ha ha. For as long as I can remember, I just haven’t been able to close my mouth for too long.

I’m trying to mind my business more as I get older and I think that is a good thing. My friends know that if they need me they can count on me. But I really don’t need to know who an ambulance is for or where the fire trucks are going.

Wouldn’t you know, lo and behold, we mis-counted how many blog entries we have, even though the blog dashboard tells us after each one. So tomorrow will not be #500. That will be next week instead. Sorry to get your hopes up, but it is coming.

Until next time, signing off from #498, take care, have a nice day, and happy reading.

Merry Christmas eve and Christmas

Greetings, readers. This will be a short blog entry today, because I have a gazillion things to do before tonight’s Christmas Eve light ride and tomorrow’s Christmas festivities. As has happened in the past, things that I need to find disappear into the black hole that I call my apartment. The latest lost item is my electric shaver charger cord. There are two places that it may be hiding in. If it’s not in those two places, I’ve got a problem.

I was listening to lots of Christmas music yesterday and I’ll be sad when the season is over. Somehow it just seemed to go quicker this year. I feel like Traci and I just got back from Thanksgiving a few days ago. In actuality, it was really three and a half weeks.

Some time next month, I hope to begin my new budget as planned, though the beginning of a new insurance policy year may blow up my expenses for medication and co-pays until my deductible has been reached.

Finally, I will let everyone know that the first blog of the new year will be my annual New Year’s resolutions. I’m going to choose resolutions that are realistic and that I can attain. Spoiler alert: One of my resolutions will be to keep up with old friends better than I have been. So to my Facebook reader friends, you might just get that invite for coffee sometime.

Again, happy holidays to everybody, and here’s to a great 2016. Until Wednesday, take care, enjoy, and happy reading.

Top ten list of things I like about Bear Spring Camps

Greetings, readers. This top ten list will be composed of wonderful experiences that have happened to me at Bear Spring Camps, which is located in central Maine. I’ve been going there for the better part of the last 45 years, and have loved every second of it. If there is a heaven on earth, that is it. And away we go with our countdown.

#10. The trip itself. [From the moment I leave the parking lot of my building to the moment I arrive at camp, I consider it to be part of the yearly experience. I truly savor every second.]

#9. Great Pond. [The lake is eight and a half miles long by three miles wide. There are plenty of great places to catch fish for those who like to do that. It is also very good for taking a pleasure ride in a boat, a kayak or a canoe, to explore all the nooks and crannies of the lake. Campers have lots of fun swimming by the shore, playing King of the Raft, and throwing a tennis ball around.]

#8. The shops in Belgrade Lakes. [Small town shopping in the general store and picking up souvenirs in the Maine Made Shop is a truly delightful experience. Both places have sweatshirts, hats, mugs, and other collectables dealing with the state of Maine. Day’s Store also has several aisles of groceries items.]

#7. Hearing crickets at night. [On the rare hot evening, I will leave the wooden cabin door open and listen to all of nature’s beauty.]

#6. Rain falling on the tin cabin roof. [It is a most relaxing way to sleep, unless you are afraid of storms. The only thing I get upset about is that fishing will be rained out the next morning.]

#5. Morning fishing excursions. [From the days of fishing with Cy Greco and Bob Smarz, to more recent excursions with Dave Trost and his family, I’ve always enjoyed going out to catch the big one, though I rarely do.]

#4. A good land day. [I learned this expression from my mother and it refers to sunny warm conditions, with too much wind over the water to make boating safe. It allows me to listen to music, to go on visits, or to go to town.]

#3. Bonfires. [Even though the wind can make them too smoky, I do like to sit around a good campfire and tell stories. I’ve been told I’m a good storyteller, and my little nephews and nieces just love it.]

#2. All the delicious food. [Since I was a youngster, I’ve looked forward to the delightful and delectable three square meals a day made from scratch. The breakfasts are my favorite and usually I will partake either of eggs or pancakes. The noon meal is what most of us call dinner, and Sunday chicken dinner with all the trimmings is number one with me. The evening meal is supper and consists of hot dogs, burgers, or perhaps yesterday’s dinner left-overs as a casserole. I have never been disappointed with BSC food.]

#1. All the wonderful people. [This is truly a generational place. The original owners’ granddaughter is now in charge and doing a great job. Also, the campers are multi-generational. I’ve known some folks since I was five years old. Others, I’ve known their whole lives.]

Well, that’s our list. I hope you’ve had as pleasant a time on your vacations as I’ve had on mine.

Until Friday, take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Yesterday’s visit to Lisa went well

Greetings, readers, and happy Thursday. I wanted to follow up on yesterday’s hospital visit to my friend, while the events were fresh in my mind. I arrived at the hospital around 3:45 in the afternoon, but I had to stay in a waiting area while technicians put in a fresh I.V. When I finally walked into her room, she beamed a big smile. Lisa was very happy to see me.

Much to my surprise, she had another friend already in the room. He was a guitar player and occasionally dressed up like Ace Frehley from KISS. That blew my away. Very cool. He left shortly after I arrived.

But back to the visit. The nurse brought Lisa her dinner and asked me if I wanted some coffee; I told the nurse thank you, it would save my life. In my back pack, I had brought my computer with songs from iTunes to sing to. I told her I was going to do that. I was trying very hard to cheer her up. I plugged in my computer and showed Lisa a couple of videos from my memorial KISS show for my friend Erin. She loved them.

She made a phone call to another friend, whom she wanted me to meet. I told Lisa I would wait to sing until he arrived. It took her other friend about a half hour to get there. We all chatted a while but then Lisa wanted to hear me sing the theme from The Love Boat. I must say it wasn’t my best effort but I made up for it by doing an excellent job on Billy Joel’s Worse Comes to Worst.

Lisa got some good news during my visit. She was being discharged after five days. She couldn’t wait to go home to her dogs. I know from personal experience that after a few days in the hospital you are antsy to go home.

Around 6:00 I wrapped up my visit, gave Lisa a hug, and went down to the coffee shop to have a breakfast food dinner. My cab was scheduled to pick me up until 7:00, so I had some time. I must admit I was exhausted by the time I got home, but I would do it again in a minute, for it made a dear friend of mine happy. I was always taught to treat people the way you wish to be treated. Live by example.

Tomorrow there will be that top ten list. Today’s entry was just a little surprise. Until then take care, have a great day, and happy reading.

Things are moving in a positive way

Greetings, readers. I have been energized the last few days with a positive feeling to make changes in my life. I know, I know, I’ve said this a hundred times before. But I think it is time for this procrastinater to just do it. Since last September, I have successfully adjusted my sleep pattern, and I am working on my slight hoarding problem.

My therapy sessions with my psychologist are working so well, that my creativity is returning. It was buried under depression for at least a year. Now, I sit during the evenings thinking of scenarios, plot points, character names, and titles. I also have selected what I call music to write by, which is either classical music or movie soundtracks. I can’t write to music that has words, because I will sing to it.

I’m also very pleased that I am finally breaking out of my shell which had been preventing me from being more social. I’ve been attending the church dinner a little more often, and I hope to make contact with a new person whom I hope to one day call a friend.

In other news, it will be a sombre weekend because Mother’s Day is coming up and I’ll be going to the cemetery to visit Mom and also my Godmother. I’m hoping for nice weather. As soon as this blog entry is posted, I will be reserving the Zipcar.

We had a hard rain storm this morning and my ceiling began leaking again for a few minutes. I’ve already told management and they are going to call the roofers to once again check it out. I don’t know why they can’t find the problem.

Rebecca and I are taking the next two days off for personal days. If I can, I’ll post a short entry on Friday. If things get too hectic with what I’m doing, we’ll get back to normal and have a new entry up next Wednesday. It will be a top ten list on some fun topic as of yet undetermined.

Until then, take care, enjoy your day, and happy reading.