Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Seeing is Believing

When I met Paul he was bigger than the first photo. In the six months since we met he has shed over seventy pounds. He said he, and his wife, were inspired after meeting me and made some changes. I will take no credit for the great work he has done. Paul is an inspiration to me.


A little push
That's all it takes
To start an avalanche
A gentle nudge.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sailors Dream

A friend of Suzanne's came by one evening to visit, she has helped grow support for his lofty goals. Ralph Brown and "Suz"encouraged me to keep my dreams afloat.
He built an "itty bitty" boat, dropped it in the ocean to prove how well it'd float. Taking on the seas, he proved it unsinkable thru the unthinkable. First to Bermuda and back, other world records he did stack.
What struck me, when I met him, was not just his will to grow his Dreamboat line, but his enthusiasm that it has enabled him to help with others dreams, "unsinkable".

Sitting in the plaza, dreaming big.

Friday, May 24, 2013

In the Dog House Now

Taking time to heal. That sounds so easy. I had a good adjustment this morning. Now I need to do what my chiropractor told me to do, back in '06. NOTHING. All those years ago I had hurt my back. The "Doc" said, "Don't do any kind of work, unless it is lifting a pencil, for ten days." A few days later,(I can only blame myself), I was back at work and did severe nerve damage to my lower back. If I follow the "Doc's" advice, seven years later, and only lift a pencil; maybe this time I can keep from doing more damage. I have learned my lesson. Now I must follow through and do nothing.
If there are gaps between posts it will be because I am compiling that thing that I don't want to say out loud. A book. If I say it, I have to do it. I don't like letting myself down. I have been making up excuses. Since I should stay off my feet, it gives me time to ... Do that thing.
"Words are meaningless unless they are accompanied by action." A random quote that caught my eye and put me in "the doghouse".

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I will not be writing today. The chiropractic adjustment loosened the pinched nerves and opened up a bucket of "Whoop ass" from my hip to the tip of my toe. Thankfully there are people here to walk the dog further than the bush thirty feet from the door, which is all I am good for.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kicking myself

The battle in the parking lot last month has caught up with me. I was strained and sore after having to drag a man and two fighting dogs while kicking away a third, across a parking lot. I had to get a chiropractic adjustment today. The pain from that day has only gotten worse. My lower back has endured so many injuries over the years, from accidents and "cocksure youth". Aside from a nearly crippling spinal injury when I was in my teens, at work I was always lifting great weight myself, where two men should. It caught up with me years ago and I have to be ever mindful of how I move. The unfortunate incident with the dog groomer's dogs, where I was the only one who came out of it not bleeding, has triggered a lifetime of aches, and new pains to add to the list. An old man told me, in my youth, I'd be kicking myself later in life for jumping from too high or manhandling twice my share. For some of those acts I should have been, more thoughtful, but I will not kick myself for injuring my back this time. I jumped into the fray for my companion. Though I have not hurt this bad in years, I would do again.
The chiropractor told me to come back again in two days...

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Under the Awning

Like sheltering arms, the overhang of the plaza stretches to my left and right. Safe from the rain. Shade most of the day. It captures the wind so my world won't blow away.
Who am I kidding?
Today, I've nothing to say.

This morning Nice, the World, and I walked longer than we were told. He led the entire way. I wrote the doctor and asked if we are going to fast or should ratchet back. Nice is gaining agility each day. I rub him down after each walk. He seems to be loose during the day, while he basks in the sun then moves under the shade of the awning. then back. One more month until the final ex ray...
Have a Nice day.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Walk like a Hutterian

I learned about my "roots", in of all places, a Hutterite colony in North East South Dakota.
"The Hutterites are a communal people, living on hundreds of scattered bruderhöfe or colonies throughout the prairies of northwestern North America. On average, fifteen families live and work on the typical Hutterite colony, where they farm, raise livestock and produce manufactured goods for sustenance."
We were allowed to stay a night, in the van, in the middle of their closely constructed communal compound. The winds were too strong that day and I was unable to push several more miles before dark into Roshalt. After meeting with the head-elder to ask for permission to park by the road, and explaining my journey, he showed me where to park by a stand of trees in the communal center, then had one of the Brethren drive me back to North Dakota to retrieve the van. When I returned, the head elder brought me a plate for dinner, before he and the other adults were due in for the common evening meal. The children all spoke a mix of German and English, the girls wore bonnets and dresses, the boys collared shirts and harnessed pants. They were understandably curious but the elders"shooed" them away with authority. After their meal I watched as the entire community went in their homes, emerged wearing formal dress, reverently walk to the chapel for evening service, then back, change to work clothes and return to their jobs. There was something familiar about these people,but I could not put the feeling into words.
A side note:
I can't remember being more pleased that day to see a gentle turn in the road, after we passed into South Dakota. Though I had spent only ten days walking from Fargo; the farmlands of North Dakota were divided every mile in a square grid of roads, the monotony had already become mind-numbing. The grain elevators and water towers could be seen in the distance hours before we passed them, adding to the overwhelming flatness. It was only a slight change from the level "flats" of the Red River Basin, but it was welcome.
The Elder and a few others came to call just before nightfall, we shared conversation and learned about one another. The Elder explained that his people had been driven out of the Tyrols in Austria in the sixteenth century by the Catholics. They went to Russia and in the 1850's began colonizing in America. When I mentioned that my grandparents immigrated from The Tyrols the Elder raised his brow and asked if I were Catholic. Centuries of conflict flashed in his eye when I told him I had been baptized Catholic. Eager to quell the rage in his eye I assured him I carry no "ill" and believe every religion equal...Then I apologized for what my ancestors may, or may not.have been part of. He forgave me, we shared apples, we talked until the evening bell. The Hutterites are "close knit" and during the centuries have not mixed (married/bred) outside of the core group that centuries ago were driven from the valley where my grandparents came from two centuries later...
Weeks went by as I met many Hutterian families on the road. Always there was something about them I could not place. Something was familiar...
All my life I have been told I have a walk that is distinctive. My son, who walked with me during one of our walks, has a distinctive walk. More than one person has told me they saw my son walking on the sidewalks at home. They had never met him, but knew I had a boy and nobody walks like that unless he was mine His mother says we walk exactly alike. I have a sister who was recognized in a crowd by a childhood friend from behind because of her gait. I could go on...

One evening an eighteen wheeler stopped and from across the road the driver waddled over. He was Hutterian, knew of my story and had to stop. We talked as the sun stretched the shadows. When he walked back to his trailer his shadow caught my eye. It looked like my sons shadow, the way It rocked back and forth when I watched him during our travels. Then it hit me, that same shadow, the same rhythm, tilt of the head, shuffle and bounce that follows me...
I now waddle with pride in my ancestral roots from the Austrian Alpine region. Thanks to the Hutterites of the Dakota prairies.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


When I first looked at the plaza from across the road I judged it an unlikely place to stop for an evening. The least likely unit at the plaza, the one with black tinted windows and no sign on the door, would have been the last place I'd have gone knocking; even to get out of the rain. If I were asked to write a list where I would nurse my dog back to health after a major surgery, a corporate office, filled with desks and computers, would not appear. Of the people I met when we first walked through the door, the one I judged least likely to take-heed, has begun walking each morning since. She takes her nineteen year old dog, who now waits at the door to go along. She has inspired neighbors to join in, at times the group has over a dozen and more. Recently a giant woodpecker that forages in the large oak tree behind her house has followed her and her ancient hound, flying from perch to perch, during their morning routine. Stranger things have been known to happen. Like seeing a fat, bald guy wearing a cowboy hat, rolling a six foot canvas world while walking a dog, who is wearing a sweater , down the road...not very likely... Judging, highly overrated.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Walking away from what I Love...The Back Story

This morning, with tears welling, I shouldered the weight of the world and walked to greet the new day. Without emotion, I wiped my eyes and recalled why I have had to walk away from the work that I love, carpentry. The tears were not for sadness, or pain, but an occasional involuntary leakage that is due to nerve damage from injuries to my spine.
Six years ago I had hurt my back so badly that at the end of a days work, when I would lay down, my entire body would begin to spasm. Without pain, my nose would start to run while my eyes poured tears and with every heartbeat all my muscles jerked like I were attached to an electric current switching on and off. After a few minutes the spasms, runny nose and tears would cease, to be replaced by immobilizing pain. A lifetime of accumulated accidents, strains and overwork reduced me to a day of work, then two or three days to recover. Through the nights I would awaken to the sound of someone crying out in pain, to find that someone was me; I had tried to move or roll over as I slept and awoke myself with my own cries.
At the time, the only thing I could do was walk. I had just been given Nice (the puppy). Rolling the world was therapy, so I walked four hundred miles.
Nine separate walks since then have strengthened my old muscles. Months on the road, after many years I have healed to have only the occasional welling of tears. Thousands of miles and I have lost a few pounds. Dozens of States walking in memory of my mother and don't cry myself awake anymore..
The back side of the story is: I would not be here if I had not been so broken. Some say one has to loose everything to find something more valuable.
I had to give up what I love, but found that something.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Chasing the sun

"Fool on the Hill" by the Beatles strains in my ears as I begin to write. Thanks to the wonders of technology, I can listen to public radio and be distracted "right out of the gate"...

We went for our evening stroll through the cluttered neighborhood. I chased a chance for a view unobstructed by a house or power-line to enjoy a majestic Spring Hill, Florida sunset. This morning we rolled to see an equally beautiful sunrise.
I have chores this morning. Hopefully this afternoon I will be able to piece together the story that has been nesting in my head.
Have a great day.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Walking with the Sisters

One morning we met a woman, as we rolled with the world, during our morning walk through her neighborhood. I explained how and why we came to be walking with the world, of Nice's knees that have brought us to stay in Spring Hill. She happily told me she walked every morning, that walking was very a good activity for anyone's health and "love yourself, go for a walk" is a wonderful message. We agreed to talk again soon and walked on.
The next morning, in the same neighborhood, a woman approached who I thought was the lady I had met the previous day. She was not, I soon found myself telling our tale to her. As we talked the woman of the previous day strolled up. The reason the two looked similar, they were sisters. They joked that they were walking together, that the older sister walked to fast. I joked that I walk slower than a woman pushing twins in a baby carriage through tall grass. All joking aside we all agreed that walking is an important part of our lives, especially for those who have poor circulation with diabetes. The elder, faster sister, said with a smile that she looks forward to her morning walks, walking made her happy.
We then walked together, at separate paces, in different directions. Nice and I circled wide to a side road leading out of the neighborhood. On our return, bordering the subdivision along the sidewalk by the highway, I waved at the faster sister. She smiled and waved, quickly walked to the end of the road a few feet in front of me, then suddenly turned around without loosing her "peppy" rhythm. Her sister could be seen in the distance.
We will walk together again tomorrow, for a few steps...

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Morning routines

We have been getting out, just as the sun rises, for morning walks. The past few days I have started to bring the World along. Nice (the dog) doesn't walk as forcefully when his world is in tow and is always watching to see the pace the World is keeping. When it slows , he slows. If the World stops turning, he stops walking. Nice gets stronger each day and is excited each time I take him a little further. The hair on his back stands up and he gets a bounce to his steps. There is always a silent battle-of-will when I turn back. He stands firm in one direction as I face the opposite way. His expression is sullen on the return trip, no longer leading but walks slowly behind until we get to the plaza. The morning walk has been a great beginning to our morning routine.
While Nice waits for the girls to arrive at the office I spend some time each morning in what my father called "physical therapy". I sweep the area outside the office and patrol the parking lot for trash. I sometimes get out the vacuum cleaner and give the office rugs a quick cleaning. A small effort each morning has made a difference
. The patrons to the Bistro at the plaza don't throw trash in the parking lot, the girls can now sit at the bench outside the office on a windy day, without sand and scraps of paper blowing in their faces. They are happy to have a clean place to go when it is time for a break from the energy business. By the time all the shops open in the plaza I have had a Nice walk and a satisfying workout with a push-broom and dustpan. Nice spends the rest of each morning laying in the sun, every few minutes he goes to the cool shade after he gets hot. A dog's routine.
When the office workers arrive, I have found, it is time for me to go outside. The "buzz" of the energy world has been enlightening but, after weeks of attempting to "tune it out" and capture a thought on paper, I have found it best to leave the business of capturing the best energy rates to the professionals and sit outside. Keeping my focus on writing is nearly impossible when the office begins to hum with language of contract renewals, leads, millage, faxes, suppliers, pipelines, spreadsheets, margins and market rates while the musical sounds of golden oldies fill the empty spaces. It is easier to concentrate with the roar of the highway.
Enjoy your morning routine, whatever it may be!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


I am conflicted. One side has me writing and preparing the tale of what we have done, the other allows the story to continue. I think the best choice is to do both. I am not willing to stop walking because the dog and I are getting old. We have not reached the ocean. More, a bend in the river where we pause in an edie to swirl awhile, adding barnacles, mixing until the water rises and pushes us on. The planks of my symbolic vessel will shrink, crack, spring leaks, if I pull up on shore to rest on my laurels. What good is a ship out of water? Good to prepare it for launch.
I have stories to tell, sure. I have much to learn, to blend meaning to message.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Walking the Plank

Two years ago I began a walk from Sheboygan, Wisconsin along "Plank Road". It was the only way to go to get to my next stop. At the time I thought the name of the road similar to my anxious feeling of venturing to the unknown, like "walking the plank" before plunging into deep water.
The next day I was in an area called "the Kettles". I knew we were in "the stew" then. That walk led me to the headwaters of the Mississippi, through seven states before we reached my goal, I saw a snowflake, five months later.
This week I am working on the writing project. Like starting upon the Plank Road, stepping off the edge, into the Kettle; I am apprehensive... willing to see it through, however long it takes.
How hard can it be to write?

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Plan Be

Long before that windy afternoon this February, when the wind and rain corralled us to the plaza at Spring Hill, certain elements have been prodding me to "walk" another way. To take the World on the road. This may seem, at first glance, to be what we have been doing all along. Many people, through the years, have suggested I use different methods to share my experiences, other than walking on the the road. The difference now. I would, we would, roll the World across a parking lot and into a venue. Not over Continental Divides to incredible vistas. With some preparation, I have been told that I could be rolling into a hall, or onto a stage. Walk less in silence along the highway and talk more in front of an audience about why I walk, what motivates me, how my individual-movement movement has developed. I am being encouraged to write my story, compose a presentation, travel and share what I have experienced over thousands of miles. This thought is taking awhile to "wrap my brain around".
When first people suggested I take on a cause, fifteen years ago, I was playing with my young son and the inflated canvas world in the park; I dismissed the notion. I had no plan to save the World. I was playing, my mission was to have fun with my son. It took a few months for the thought to sink in. Even though I had encouragement for months to walk for a cause, it was only when Bob Hill, a newspaper columnist, first asked me to tell my story (before I even had one) that I pieced together the idea. Bob had known my mother. My mother had been a popular public servant. Bob wanted to know why, I, Gerta's son, was rolling the World around the park. During our conversation I told him many people I had met on the road thought I should walk across the country for something. I said that, to make the interview more interesting. More than just a story of a man and his son, rolling a big ball down a hill. Really, how interesting is trying to bowl-over people with a giant slow motion bowling ball? (The thing with bowling for people on a long hill is: The bowling pins move out of the way.) When Bob asked what I would walk for, if I were to walk for something we had just talked about my mother, how I had grieved for years over my mother dying at an early age from diabetes. The cause had not been suggested during the months of conversations to and from the park. The idea that I had shrugged off for months made a leap in my brain. Me, roll a giant canvas ball to get a message out into the world? I had all the pieces, it just had to come together one piece at a time. When it began, I was playing with my son in our tiny back yard with a six-foot-blow-up-toy that I had saved from the trash. The world was too large for our yard. We rolled it over the fence, we decided the world needed a bigger playground.
It may be the natural progression of things. I embark on a journey, with a goal in mind, and get more than I set out for. My apprehension at the thought is like a wall. I know I could do it, speak in front of people. I have many times, on the road, rolled into auditoriums and by schoolyards to share a simple message I am piecing together, "love yourself-go for a walk".
I left my home with confidence that the road would lead me to what I needed, when I needed it. That was the plan, to walk until I was where I needed to be. Nice (the dog) and I found ourselves here, where we are getting more help than I ever imagined. While Nice (the dog) gets used to the reorientation of his leg bones and learns to walk differently, I will work to walk in another way. One step at a time. Whatever the plan will be.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The old road

Off the modern highway can be found a hint of what once was. I had walked an hour into the noonday sun to the intersection of Old Dixie Highway and the road to Aripeka. The constant drone I have lived next to since mid February had faded in the distance, replaced by birdsong, lizards scurrying away through the grass and one lone cicada in a nearby tree. Aside from the helicopter skirting the coast, earth movers loading trucks down the dusty old Dixie , the sound of a boat beyond the glades, I began to hear the gentle silence of rustling leaves. Aripeka once had the regions only post office, was once the hub of communication with the world in the days when this was the only road through these parts; before the highway I walked from even existed. A tiny post office , a small roadside store. A blink of an eye, easy does it, over the bridge, and you would miss seeing it had you been in a car. What once was a daily destination would soon be forgotten, like the indigenous tribe it is named after, if not for the historical marker by the chicken coop sized postal shack alongside the road. I walked on for miles until the hum of the five-lane replaced the rustling grasses of the glades. The smell of salt air replaced by odor from the sewage treatment facility. The "old road" looped to the rear of the modern shopping mall, to the miles of sidewalk back to the old plaza just in time to give Nice (the dog) a pill. Four hours well spent, a memory I'll not soon forget.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I have to change...

I am walking today. Recalling stories only goes so far. Telling about people who have made great strides to become healthy, where our efforts have been some inspiration, is a good thing. Good inspiration for me. Needing to stay in one place for months to care for the dog has mixed blessings. Here I have a place with a desk and the time to write more than a blog post. ( topic for another day) Unfortunately, I am eating less but my body is storing it away. A lifetime of hard work can not be replaced by less activity with hope to keep loosing weight . Sitting around while Nice (the dog) heals has my waistline expanding. This is not acceptable to me. I am the only one who can stop this trend. Less talking and writing, more walking.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Claims to Fame, Horses and Spires.

Each town and city has something that distinguishes it as special. It may be the home or birthplace of a famous person, a site of a single event, a structure, natural beauty, an idea or an industry. Sometimes there is a sign at the edge of town, or a story told by a long time resident. I am sitting at a quiet bench in Spring Hill, Florida that has it's giant, pink, concrete dinosaur. It was built back in the 1960's, a few years before the the gravel highway was paved. Here I am, quietly watching the wind swirl the sand and leaves here at the plaza looking back at our travels. The Frog Capitol , the Bell Capitol, the Lilly Capitol. The homes of Lindbergh, Lincoln, Thoreau, Appleseed and Edison. Everywhere has a story.
Today, the city where I have lived most of my days, Louisville in Kentucky, has a horse race at Louisville Downs with it's famous "Twin Spires". The Kentucky Derby. The first leg of The Triple Crown of Horse Racing, "The fastest two minutes in sports" brings people, high and low, from around the world. During the weeks leading up to this first Saturday in May Louisville is filled with events and gatherings, both private and public, to celebrate the 139th "Run for the Roses". This is my hometown's claim to fame.

After a lifetime of Derby Festivals this bench in sunny Florida just down the highway from the little pink dinosaur that George Foxbower built will do just fine.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Keep moving

I still walk in the morning. or ride a bike. This morning I rode a few miles before the sun came up. While Nice is slowly recovering and can only walk a few minutes at a time, I need to keep moving.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

No Energy, no problem.

On the return drive from the hospital I decided to "forgive and forget" the dogs and the "groomer" next door. It was an unfortunate situation that I could not turn back time to change. By the time I returned to the plaza and the office I felt as calm and relaxed as I had felt moments before the Groomer had let his dogs slip out his door. I was amazed at how quickly the energy dissipated which I had given the whole problem... While Nice and I were gone, the "groomer" told the women at the office that he was moving out. He gave them a few reasons why the dog grooming business was not working out and let them know he had taken the dogs away. The day before, I had talked to him, I had mentioned to him we were going to UF, Nice's ear was getting infected and I thought it would be a good precautionary measure to see proof of his dogs rabies shots. He said that was not a problem , he had talked to the man who had previously owned the female and her shots were current. I am thinking I will not see those papers. I probably will not see much of the "would be" groomer. When I was told he was going to be out in a day or two, I thought of a turkey running away in tall corn... Nothing but tail feathers. None of us were surprised when the man from the local power company rolled up this morning to turn his power current off for non-payment. So much for current events...

Nice and easy...

I drove to Gainesville early to beat the road traffic and the heat. I didn't have to be there at the crack of dawn, but I wanted to let the hospital know that Nice had been injured during a fight. Pixie, the dog who had started the fight, had gotten hold of Nice's ear and viciously pulled while he was busy with Smoke. In the days that followed we did what we could to treat it but Nice required some special attention, his ear had become infected. At UF Hospital they were able to clean his ears while he was sedated for the pictures of his knees. There is a wound in his ear and his eardrum is ruptured. The doctor told me the eardrum usually grows back after the infection clears up. Nice was given ear drops and more pills for the infection for the next ten days. Nice's bones are healing at a good rate and should be well bonded at three months. Dr. Hudson showed me the images both before and after to illustrate the progress. Nice would begin water-rehab at this time but for the ear infection we have to take things slower. His knee tendons are inflamed, which often happens during the healing process, so we need to easy off on the daily walk times. Dr. Hudson was positive about Nice's healing and told me I may be surprised at how well he recovers. I am glad I arrived early, it made the difficult day for Nice and easy one.