Thursday, August 28, 2008

Living in a fog

Ever have one of those months where you kinda move along in a fog?  As I look back over the past new months, I think that I was so focused on my dad’s cancer treatment that I didn't pay attention to much else.  Now that the treatments are over, I feel like I am in a bit of a fog.  Oh, I have my moments.  And don't get me wrong - life is great.  It just seems that my mind has said – give me a second.  

One thing that I hope will pull me out of this fog is to continue to exercise.  For the past year or so, all that I have done is some sporadic exercise.  Oh, I ride my bike on weekends.  I do some yard work.  I take walks with my wife, but I never really push myself.  So I have joined a gym.  I plan on working out and pushing myself physically.  I plan on seeing what this old body can handle. :D  I have no intention of becoming a muscle head, or a marathon runner, but my goal is to be in shape.  To be toned.

Next step from there is the mind… :D ... what could that be... 

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Gang - Team Imagine

So here is part of the team… Baby Mackenzie in the middle beside Dad, Jason to the left in the blue shirt, me to the right and Rob on the end.  Kati (mom) is taking the picture.  Who would have thought that cute little Baby Mackenzie would start getting sick and infecting mom and dad… they missed two days afterward.

Me, well, I guess I am glad that I didn’t hold her.

Total raised to-date in online and off-line donations - $2300… next year the goal is $3000.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Team Imagine - My charity bike ride

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how my ride in the Sunflowers to Roses bike ride on Sunday, August 17th went.  Wow what a day in terms of weather, number of riders, and yes once again number of hills.  The winds were calm.  The sky was sunny, and the temperature started out right around 65.  We had almost 400 riders – 400 men, women, and children. 400  riders all thinking about what this ride meant to them.  All thinking about what this meant to their family and friends. 

Last year, I started out by saying three words, wonderful, memorable, and hilly.  Then upon further reflection more words kept creeping into my mind, rewarding… humbling… and emotional…. This year, was no different – except the word emotional took on a new and bigger meaning.  In fact, for me, this whole year has taken on new meaning. 

With that said, I wanted to pass along a piece about the ride that has stuck with me.  

One of the riders on our team pulled his daughter behind him for the entire ride.  Up hills, down hills, and on long/short straight always.  He started out as strong as the rest of us, but as the ride continued he started to feel the impact of pulling his daughter along… but he never stopped.  He continued on. Since we were a team, we all hung back to offer our encouragement.  On occasion, one or two of us would blow out the legs a little (in other words – we got to go fast for a minute), but we would always come back to the group.  Near the end, he was really struggling.  The hills were catching up to him, yet he still did not stop.  In fact, even when we offered to take over and ride his bike for awhile, he would not stop.  He had set a goal to make it to the end.  He continued on.  So we rode on, kidding him and encouraging him, all the while watching for the finish line.  And when that line appeared, we crossed it together.

Why am I telling you this story?  Well, it reminds me of my dad and his cancer battle.  He was as strong as any of us in the beginning – actually stronger.  He kept up with us, but the hills of his battle took their toll on him.  He slowed down, but he never gave up.  All of us took our time to be with him. Offering encouragement, kidding him, just riding along with him to let him know he was not alone.  Along the way, we wish we could have taken over for a little while, but this was one ride he had to do by himself, but with a chorus of supporters surrounding him.  His goal was set.  He continued on.  When it was all said and done, we were able to cross the finish line together, we were finally able to stop and say how proud we are of him.  We can now say he is a cancer survivor.

So with that short story in mind, I wanted to let each of you know who Team Imagine rode for.  There are so many personal reasons why each of us did this, and there are so many things to say, but for us the names below say it all.  We rode for the families of those listed below, and more importantly we rode for the following loved ones…

We rode in honor of: Robert Johnson (my dad), Betty Lepper, Lucy Butler, Wain Sloan & Christina Campbell, Norma Monday, Manisha Kulshresta, Bryan Lee, Jan Condreay & Dottie Arms, Sonja Yngve, Louis F. Rhodes, Jr., Dick and Judy Russell, and all cancer victims and their families.

We rode in memory of:  Aunt Venesa (my aunt), Gene Hilt, James Stillman, Grandpa Rich, Herman Spain, Dorothy and Elsie Woodruff, Russ’ Dad, Paul’s Mom, Vina Lue Larson, Hema’s aunt who fought the 18 year battle against breast cancer, Meeta & Milan’s dear friend - Sameer & cousin - Uma Jiji, Ruth Morsbach, James A. Lewis, Louis Rhodes, Sr., Carol Kramer, Jean McClatchey, Wilma Young, and as a friend of mine said, “all my family members who have died from cancer and are too numerous to name.”

During this ride, I thought about each of you.  I thought about your loved ones.  I thought of our hope, our pain, our glee, and sometimes our grief.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, and for allowing me to ride for so many of you.  Thank you for allowing me to ride in memory/honor of your loved ones.

Take care my friends.


Monday, July 28, 2008

This was kinda a test weekend for the upcoming charity bike ride I am doing for cancer.  Those who know me, know that I dislocated my knee last year, and have been somewhat slow to recover.  Even with that, I still have been hitting the road lately – about 60 minutes or so is normal.  

Well the upcoming ride is going to be 66 miles, and it is only about 3 weeks away.  Because of my role on the Sunflowers to Roses board, I might only doing half the ride – 33 miles, but that is still to be determined. I mean, I am dedicating this ride to my dad who just finished his cancer treatment a couple of months ago. With that in mind I thought that if I plan on riding even 33 miles I had better test out the knee… push it just a little bit.  So last week, I road pretty hard for four out of five days.  I hit the hills, I hit the straight always, I joined the cars, and I enjoyed the heat, I road on average about 17 mph.  Not bad for a guy with a bad leg.  After last week's rides, the knee wasn’t to bad, but the lung and heart capacity are WAY down.  I need to build those up.

On top of that, 3 weeks until the Sunflowers to Roses charity ride…yikes… so yesterday I hit the road ago, and decided that I need to ride at least 33 miles. 33 miles of hills, roads, trails, dodging dogs and cars and potholes.  Riding is my outlet... my stress relief.  It gives me time to think about nothing other than the scenery, churning those pedals, and the road ahead (oh, and the occasional  dog or yelling driver of a car).  Then if I can ride for a couple of hours I am in heaven.  This particular day gave me some nice away time.  With that in mind, here is the break down of that ride:


  • Time: noon start
  • Temp: 94 when I started
  • Wind: mild
  • Cloud cover - noon

Miles 1 – 10 no problem.  I road at about 18 mph, but had to watch my heart rate that was hanging out in the 160s.

Miles 11-15.  Not much of a problem  - about 17 mph, and I still watched the heart rate.  The heart rate jumped up a bit due to some hills – mid 170s – ugh.  I need it in the 160s or less.

Miles 16 -23 I kinda hit a wall for this stretch.  There were a lot more hills, and a totally new area, as well as some trails that I took.  Average mph was down to 13 and the heart hit a max of 193.  The heart still hung out around 180 for this entire period.  Not fun – and lactic acid is not something you want to build up in your legs or you will hit a wall for sure.

Miles 24 – 33 I was back to semi-normal.  I averaged about 17-18 mph and I felt good again.  The heart rate dropped, but only to about 174… still to high.

I came home, ate some food to refuel, cooled down under a ceiling fan and in the air conditioning, and let the legs relax for a few minutes. 

What's next?

Recover ride today if the weather holds.  Longer rides this coming weekend. 

Riding dedication for the week – 

  • For the body - better food intake, better liquid intake, and very little caffeine.  
  • For the ride – During the week – 2 or 3 20 mile rides, Saturday 40-50 miles, and Sunday 40 miles.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

My Grandma Gray - I still remember...

When I heard that Grandma had passed away, the first thing that I thought of was how she touched so many lives and became part of us as we grew up.  I wanted to tell everyone what she meant to me and show them at the same time.  That is why I have decided to write about my Grandma.  She was the family quilt. 

I know that my aunts and uncles, mom and dad will understand why I can think of Grandma as a quilt.  Each of them created a block of themselves and their family that created a quilt representing their families. I feel that the quilt they created is an extension to the quilt that Grandma started a long time ago. A quilt she hand sewed.  A quilt that shows she touched so many. 

In my mind, Grandma’s quilt starts in the middle with a big red heart.  Right beside that heart is a big solid block that represented Grandpa.  Surrounding both of them are eight wonderful, multiple color blocks that represent my mom, and each of my uncles and aunts.  From my point of view she wove each into her heart, and made each feel special.  She wove them into her heart with tenderness and caring, and most of all love. 

Right now I only want to look at my small piece of the quilt, and it looks like this:

Connected to my mom’s block is my small block.  I see her picking pieces for my block as she always did from some old shirt or bed sheet.  I think that mine started as an old flannel shirt and grew from there.

Various pieces in my block include memories that are from my earliest childhood.  Memories that started in the Independence, MO house.  The strongest of which is her rocking chair with a quilt hanging on the back with a flat pillow.  The rocking chair that we all loved to sit in, but I loved to see her in it more.

I see a piece that shows her laughing and giggling.  She always seemed to be smiling and laughing with all of us.  As her laughing grew, we knew that shortly thereafter she would make a quick dash to the bathroom, and this made us laugh and smile that much more.

I see a brown piece that represents her coffee.  For whatever reason, this brown piece probably shouldn’t be brown…I think that coffee was the smallest part in her cup.  There are also pieces that represents memories that range from all of the books that she read, to the canning that she did, to the first chicken meal she made when I first introduced Deepa to her and Grandpa, to the gooseberry and rhubarb pies.

There are pieces that represent all of the Christmas trees delicately decorated.  All of the memories of these times together with both Grandma and Grandpa mean so much to me.  Over the years, all of the thought felt gifts are now the ones that I have grown to appreciate even more the older I have become. 

There is also the piece that represents the quilts that she made for me.  I am lucky to have two quilts hand stitched by her.  I remember that she asked me to use them rather than just let them lie about on a bed.  With that in mind, one quilt has been with me on every picnic or cold night under the evening sky at Theatre in the Park.  When I spread the quilt out, I see her hand written name on the back corner and remember…I am doing what she asked me to do and I know that she would smile.  It is somewhat tattered, but still holding strong.  The other quilt is lying on my bed at home, all red and white.  While I may not be using it in my daily life, it is so beautiful I just look at it and smile.

I see another piece that represents her church.  Whenever I spent the night at the in Independence home, Sunday morning meant Church.  Part of what I learned about faith and God came from her.  From that I know that she is now happy and free to be with God and Grandpa.

I can go on and on, but these are just a few of the hundreds of pieces that are included in my small block.  Before I knew it, I became part of her quilt.  Woven into her quilt with my memories and her love.  Connected to so many others…family and friends.  From all of these pieces and blocks we have her life.  The stitches may have not have been as even or as perfect in the end, but the underlying batting, backing, and vivid color were still there.  She was the Quilt that surrounded each of us and we surrounded her.  She made us feel comfortable, loved, and special. She was the heart in the middle.

We will miss you Grandma…With all my love.  Michael

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

We are back!

Well, we made it. To Colorado and back. Along the way we had crazy ladies merging into traffic at 40 mph eating ice cream while everyone else was going 75. We had semi-trucks moving over whenever they wanted. We had a van that has 125,000 miles on it make it up the mountain and back giving us very little trouble. We had a fantastic time… hiking, biking and relaxing. Not to mention, whitewater rafting… I will post more in the coming days, but I wanted to let you know I was back and had some nice down time away from the computer. Just some nice family time and personal time. God’s country as “they” say was great… 70s in the day, and 40s in the night.
Below are just a couple of pictures of what I saw everyday.

Well first things first… back to work to get caught up, then to personal email, and then to this blog.
Enjoy and there is more to come regarding this adventure.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Just a couple of pics for all to see...

Following are a couple of fun pictures ... the first is me standing beside George Brett (KC Royals and member of the Baseball Hall of Fame) and the second picture is of a Dancing with the Stars professional dancer... can you name her... I saw her at a recent event - she sings country - and pretty good I might add.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Dad update...


Isn’t it funny how you see a picture and think – that is me – that is my life.  Well this picture represents the year for my family and me... We started out strong, we got worn down, but we did not break or fall apart.  To put it simply - what a long 2008. This has been an emotional roller coaster of a year.  For those who have been following along, my dad has been wrestling with the fact that he was diagnosed with stage 4A squamous cancer in January.  When I say that he has been wrestling with it, I should also include my family as well.  Throughout this process, we have all worried about dad's health.  We each tried to help and cope in our own individual ways.  This was not something that you can look at and say he should have done this or that and everything would be okay. No, cancer is not like that – it attacks anyone and everyone.  So we were left standing, looking blankly around, asking why.  Dad was left there surrounded by all of us - doing the same but promising to fight this.

Throughout my dad’s treatment I have tried to relay to you what has happened – the good and the bad, the challenges and accomplishments.  This email is no different, dad took another step in this journey – in dad’s follow-up visit the doctor said he is happy with what he is seeing.  There is only one little spot left on his tongue that he is going keep an eye on, but the medicine is still working and it is small.  Dad is eating better as well… so what is next, well the next visit is in 2 months.  Baby steps… baby steps.  Hopefully the spot will be gone, the feeding tube will not be needed, and we will all keep taking our baby steps.

So in conclusion, all this leads me back to the coffee cup.  Last week, after all those weeks of trying to keep that sagging cup upright, we switched cups - and now we have a newer, taller cup.  Our spirits were lifted when dad got great news about his cancer.  Life is good… in fact life is great!   

Friday, June 6, 2008

Cool web page

You have to check out this website... this is so cool... just click on the left and right side and move your mouse over the picture... 

Thursday, May 29, 2008

My daughter

Just thinking about my daughter today... I really wish I could run like her (#203).  When she started running cross country, I could see that this was something she was going to love.  Sure enough she did.

But what makes her so special is how she treats other runners.  No matter whether they are "better" or "worse" than her, she is cheering them on.  I cannot tell you the number of times that she finished a race then went to the finish line to cheer on another friend.  

She is definitely special.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

bike ride

Just touching base regarding my mountain biking... I thought that I would throw out the fact that I went on a bike ride this past weekend.  The trails were closed, but there were some old railroad track roads out there to ride on so I finally got the bike dirty... white bike turns brown... Yeah!  I also got to see how badly I needed to ride.  The ride was great for reducing the stress in my already overloaded stressed out life - my way of closing out the problems I have (or at least forgetting about them) is to ride until I am dead.  But, after an hour of riding, I was beat and slowing down the guys that I was riding with.  The legs were gone, the lungs were begging for air, the heart was pushing out of my chest, life was far from being a joy at that particular moment in time.  So much for the stress reducer... now I was stressing about how slow I was, how out of shape I was, and how I was slowing down the other guys.  Basically by the end of the ride, they left me alone to grind up the last big hill back to the car.  Last year, generally it was me leading the pack or at least staying right there.  Revenge on their part?  Not sure.  (Smiles I am sure...) Humbled rider on my part? yes... The best part though was being able to eat some fantastic food Sunday evening...Cinco de Mayo one day early.  Calories going out means calories can go in.  This summer... more riding and a better fitness level are in order.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

74 degrees and a deck chair

This is one of those evening where I can sit back and relax on the deck my dad and I built last summer. I am enjoying 74 degree weather, the sun set, the neighborhood kids playing on the tree swing, birds singing, dogs barking, and my daughter doing homework beside me. Hearing the kids play makes me reminisce about my childhood…all the games of kick the can, freeze tag, kick ball, hide and seek…the nights when I had to be in by the time the street light turned on, riding bikes with no hands, sleeping until noon, staying awake until a time way past 10… boy scouts, family vacations, Zarda ice cream, life was good…but then again, life is good now…a wonderful wife, two wonderful daughters, a rewarding job, a loving family, and some great friends. I am just taking a moment to say a word of thanks… At moments like this, I am reminded that I cannot forget to say thank you and enjoy the moment. I really cannot ask for much more in life during this small moment in time.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Where to begin - I guess at the end

I really don’t know where to start this message other than right here at the end of another chapter and step in this journey.  For those of you who have not been along for the entire ride, my dad was diagnosed with squamous cancer on January 20th and confirmed on January 24th.  What followed was a series of 35 radiation treatments, 7 chemo treatments, somewhere around 5500 miles driven, numerous doctor visits, a life of living a normal life even at the beginning of the treatments to one that came to being feed by a feeding tube because it was to difficult to take very much through the mouth.  In short, this was a disruption in the life of an amazing man, and a disruption in the life of an amazing mom who was along for this entire ride.

As I reminisced about this journey the past couple of days, I thought about how I have raised money for cancer research and clinical care, yet I did not truly understand the impact this dreaded disease has on the lives of those living it until I actually lived it (at least in my own little way).  My mom and dad LIVED this life for seven weeks - day in and day out – 24/7 as they say, and they will continue to live it for years to come.  The past seven weeks encompassed times when they were feeling physically worn out, emotionally worn out, and yes even financially worn out.   At times - they were feeling every possible thing you could feel all at once. Yet, they made it through.

So I am happy to report that on Tuesday, we had the opportunity to celebrate another step in this journey.  Dad climbed his mountain (as a side note - with very little pain medicine to boot) and made it back down again.  The treatments are done.  It was an extremely grueling journey.  Painful eating, feeding tube problems, physically being worn down, weight loss – you name it my Dad dealt with it, but he made it through.  Near the end he was willing to step aside and ask for help – whether that request was of God, the prayer chains and prayer warriors that never stopped, or the family and friends who were present throughout. Each played a critical piece in this journey.  

As I conclude this email, a few final thoughts come to mind - Now the recovery begins, now the waiting begins, and now the next round of prayers begin.

Please take care, and accept our special word of thanks for your help in this journey.

Monday, March 31, 2008


KU won… KU won… talk about a game!  For those of you who missed it giant killer Davidson College gave KU a run for its money.  They had a chance to win it all with a final 3 point shot, but it hit harmless on the back board…well maybe not harmless since it was a wake up call to the Jayhawks who have rolled thus far in the tournament.  The end result, a win, a realization that they can be beat if they keep playing the way they have, and all four #1 seeds advance to the final four for the first time.  The result, KU will play North Carolina next. This will obviously be one of the hardest games yet. But for today, we are basking in the glory of a win.

As a side note – bike ride on Wednesday… test ride #2.

Quick visit to dad this past weekend

Quick update once again regarding my dad.  I was able to see mom and dad this weekend on a quick overnight visit. It really is amazing how cancer treatment can knock a person sideways.  As you may recall from my previous post, dad had to go in for surgery to reinsert his feeding tube.  Then to make matters worse on Monday or Tuesday, he developed a low grade fever and an infection around the surgery area.  He is on antibiotics and mom is cleaning the wound 3 times or so a day. 40 or so pounds less, but still fighting strong.

In general he is doing okay, and there are only 7 more treatments left including today. He acknowledged that the final week is going to be tough. Overall, considering what he has gone through thus far from diagnoses, to treatments, to surgery again, he is doing not to bad.  On top of that, he told me that he doesn’t feel too bad, but the cancer treatments are causing some very thick mucus to build in his mouth and throat and that cannot be washed out – therefore he is using what looks like an electric dentist suction tube machine, thingy-ma-bob, what-cha-ma-call-it. Fun – I would say not.

So in conclusion, we are counting down the days – 7 more radiation treatments, and 2 more chemo treatments.  He is fighting through this, but the cancer treatments have taken their toll.  The one thing that he is looking forward to having once all this is done – a big glass of ice water.  The one thing we are looking forward to - a healthy vibrant dad.

Take care and thank you for your continued prayers.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Quick Dad update

I will start by saying something positive… 2 weeks and 2 days…or to put it more simply - 12 more days to go … and better yet - 3 more chemo treatments…can you tell that we are counting down the days?  The end is in sight and the recovery will begin.  But you gotta love those twos… with every set of twos there is two sides - for this message the good and the not so good.  As you probably heard, Dad’s eating ability has deteriorated in what felt like an instant. One moment he was eating fine, and the next he could not eat.  He is still drinking water, but eating is very difficult.  His intact of calories and nutrients these days is via his feeding tube.  And on that note, the second part of the story…

Last Thursday, Dad was in some discomfort during the evening and into the next day.  On Thursday his feeding tube was leaking, and then on Friday nothing went in... it all went on the floor.  They put in another feeding tube on Friday but it went into the stomach lining instead of the stomach, and it had to be pulled out... yanked out is more the word for it.  A person would look at that he say… not very good news (which is true, but it only gets worse the rest of the day)…so they worked on it some more. … then little bit worse …. they tried 5 more times to put it back in place…talk about pain... then a little bit worse news, they ended up doing surgery to re-insert the feeding tube back in place.  All of this happened on Friday afternoon.  The good news regarding all of this is the fact that my sister Linda was already planning on going up to stay with Mom and Dad until Wednesday… talk about perfect timing.  She can give mom a much needed break, cook some meals, and help with Dad. 

With that being said, you gotta love help…and from a previous email I sent, "...we worked as a team, but we knew when to move over and ask for help."  We have continued to ask for help from God and our friends, and we continue to ask that your prayers join ours.  Mom and Dad continue to look to the four of us for support and each of us give it in our own way.  It is truly interesting to me to see how each of us is handling this.  Four siblings with four different approaches to dealing with stress.  The end result is that we are figure out a way to help our parents through our outpouring of love and actions.

So in conclusion I will say that by Sunday Dad was feeling better.  He got up and took a shower and even Mom made it to Easter services - dad was still to weak.  Life is "back to normal" for another day.

12 more days to go….

My new bike...

Okay, here is the post that you have most likely been waiting for it (well, maybe not, but here it is anyway)... This is my new ride... my new ride for the trails around Shawnee Mission Park, for the single track trails in Lawrence and around the area where a road bike just will not do. The old bike (my road bike) got a quick ride this past weekend - ahhh the joy of it... The new bike = fun... and the old bike = fun. I love them both equally.  In reality though, the road bike will get ridden the most since I love the "porshe like feel" that comes with road bikes, but the mountain bike will be ridden alot because I want to cross train and experience what "the other guys" are talking about when they ride single track - speed with white knuckle turns... to be honest, I really do like single track. Time will tell which is ridden more, but right now that is the plan.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cool saying of the day

Enjoy the ride. Remember that this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride. This came from an email my wife sent me that was titled 40 Tips for an Exceptional, Superb & Powerful Life in 2008! Totally true... each day is a day to enjoy the ride.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday evening...

Well it is Sunday evening... I am sitting here trying to balance my checkbook (still cannot find that $5.97)...trying to figure out why I didn't exercise today, why I feel stressed out, what tomorrow will bring, what next week will bring. My dad is still battling his cancer – struggling to eat – although that is not happening right now – he is using a feeding tube instead. I am back to feeling like I need to be there for everyone, and feel isolated right now. Emotions are all over the place.

A friend of mine told me not long ago that I just need to focus – but focus on what? I have a thousand things running through my mind right now. I feel that I need to be there for my dad, yet I cannot be there in person. I feel that I want to give back to the world in some way, yet I push that thought out a few months and a few months and a few months as daily demands take up more of my time. I wish that we could head on a vacation to recharge my batteries, to give my wife and daughters a much needed trip, but I worry about being gone. The last time we were out of town for a long trip, my father-in-law had a heart attack and we came back on day two (he is fine now, but still talk about worry).

I don’t want this post to sound to depressing, I am just overloaded right now… I need to focus. I need to stop and enjoy the moments in life – like KU winning the big 12 championship game. (Does that count as a happy moment... ) I need to stop and say thanks for the wonderful things that are going on around me. I need to head out on a bike ride and let the legs work loose (that is my stress reliever - pics to come.) I need to just enjoy the moment. Enjoy the day. Enjoy the fact that I have a loving family and great friends. Enjoy the fact that life is moving along, and not forget to hug my wife and girls.

In the end, it doesn't make sense to worry. Life will move at its own pace - in its own direction. Basically I need to eat more cookies and enjoy...

Friday, March 14, 2008

My biking world

Okay, so here is the deal. I have been riding a road bike (not a motorcycle) for the past couple of years. My skills are nothing great, but I love to get out and ride. Hitting 20-30 mph under my own power is just plan fun. Last summer I borrowed a friends bike and road through some trails at Shawnee Mission Park... the first time on the easy side, the second time on a more challenging side. End result... loved it.

Now my primary love will continue to be road bikes, but now I am hooked on mountain biking as well. So, what did I do... I went out and bought a new bike. Not a $4-5,000 version, just a nice entry level bike to hit the trails with. End result in the garage - 3 bikes to my name, and then 3 bikes to my wife and kids name. Six in all. My wife said, one has got to go. Mountain bike and road bike stay, comfort bike used for paved trails will now go...BTW take a peak at craigslist if you are interested.

With all this in mind, be ready for some updated blogs on mountain biking, road biking and general outdoor stuff going forward...summer can not come soon enough for me!

My photo albums - why these 2

I recently added a few pictures on my blog from my trip to Colorado in 2006 and some from last summer when my Dad and I built a deck on the back of our house.

I look at the climb as one of the most difficult things I have done in recent memory - basically 6-7 hours of climbing with only a few moments of rest - starting at 3:00AM so I could get back before the thunderstorms - feeling like I took the wrong path on the final push to the top - feeling lost on the way down. Physically and emotionally this was a journey. As Dad approaches his treatments, this will be a difficult challenge for him - both mentally and physically.

Building the deck on the back of my house with Dad showed me that when a person is slow and thoughtful, pays attention to detail, does not rush through the process - rather makes sure he is doing it right, that person will always end up with better results. This will be the same with Dad's treatment, paying attention to the details and not rushing - doing it right. When we built the deck, we worked as a team, but we knew when to move over and ask for help. This was a very physical and emotional effort (I hate to admit I need help sometimes), but when it was done and I could say, "Dad and I did this." When I sat on my deck last fall, I thought about Dad and how rewarding it was to work with him. Now I cannot wait to share moments with him this summer.

His upcoming journey will be physically and emotionally tough on him. The trail up the mountain will be long and grueling. It will be littered with doubts and concerns, but I know he will make it. We will be there for him when he stops to ask for help. We will be there for mom when she stops to ask for help. Together we will get through this, and will look back at this like my photos and memories - as a journey.

Hurting yet thinking...

Isn't life interesting... I had lunch with a guy today who is very familiar with cancer. I told him that I struggle with talking about dad and his caner all the time. Not the fact that I am talking about it, rather there are times when I talk about it as if he is a patient here at the hospital, and at other points I get overwhelmed with my thoughts and concerns. I feel like the second point when I read past blogs that I have written that are my outpouring of thoughts and love. I also feel that way when I read the wonderful notes and emails people send me following the updates I send out.

Then in a meeting I was just in, someone was talking about setting up various meetings, and then commented that “If it isn’t in my hands, I don’t need to worry about it.” Hearing her say that made me realize that this is NOT in my hands - so worrying will not help.

All I can say is that life is going to be interesting over the next few months and years.