Out and About – Week of July 21st

July 22, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

I thought that I was about as good as one can be when it comes to staying current on what’s happening around Three Rivers. I discovered on Friday, July 11, that this was Dan Tomlinson’s final day as Fire Chief. I had a tribute to him ready for this column to be published on Tuesday, July 29. I was under the assumption that Chief Dan would be leaving the fire department around the first of August. Luckily, I was able to stop by his office on July 11, offer a final salute, and wish him well in his new endeavors. Unfortunately, my column for July 15 was already in this paper’s managing editor’s inbox, so this is the first time I can state my departure feelings for a person I admire and respect.

I mentioned to Dan that I felt sad about his leaving the fire department, but I was happy to know that he was happy with his decision to move on. He agreed that the stress that goes with being Fire Chief will be left behind and that it will be nice knowing that he will no longer be getting phone calls at 2:30 AM, saying that he is needed at Station 2. He will no longer be obligated to stop and assist at an accident scene, but I have a feeling that he still might step in to see if he is needed. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Until a new fire chief is named, Captain Jeff Bloomfield will serve as the Interim Fire Chief. I have all the confidence in the world that Captain Bloomfield will do a great job. He is a great firefighter and a leader who has the respect of everyone in the department. If you were to ask Jeff if he is capable of serving in this position, he would probably say that he can do it, because he has a great team to work with and there isn’t a single firefighter who works alone. There are two other candidates being considered for the fire chief position. I am unaware of their names, but as far as I’m concerned, Captain Bloomfield is the best person to fill some very big shoes.

Here’s a brief word to bicyclists. As you’re Out and About riding your bike, you are responsible for observing and adhering to all traffic signs or lights in the same manner as a driver of a motor vehicle. I’ve observed many bicyclists ignoring traffic signals, especially stop signs. You are subject to being ticketed for failure to observe a stop sign. Unfortunately, our law enforcement people are too busy to enforce these laws, so you get off easy. Think about this the next time you are almost struck by a motor vehicle, because you failed to yield the right of way. Also, there is no law stating that a safety helmet must be worn by all bicyclists. The same goes for people riding mopeds and motorcycles. My head is larger than most and is extremely fragile. The last thing I want is to end up in a wheelchair and wearing a diaper because I fell off my scooter and smashed my head on the pavement. I’m an organ donor, but I would prefer to die a natural death, rather than be careless and bleed out from my ears.

For the past couple of months, I’ve been doing what I’ve had to do in preparation for surgery, which would relieve pressure on the nerves in my back and left knee. I experienced an EMG, five MRIs, several x-rays, and my share of blood draws. Last Tuesday, July 15, my wife and I arrived at Borgess Hospital at 6 AM. My surgery was scheduled for 7:30 AM. At 6:45 AM, I was on a gurney with an IV in my arm and ready to go to the operating room. Then, after talking with a couple of doctors, including my surgeon, it was decided to cancel the surgery. My pain level was zero, I hadn’t fallen in two months, and the strength in my leg was improving on its own. My surgeon recommended and gave me a prescription for Water Therapy. I am scheduled to meet with her next month to see if the therapy has worked for me. I want to thank the staff at Borgess Hospital for their excellent care. The hospital and staff could have gained monetarily, but my well-being and health were more important.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of July 14th

July 15, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

When I think of getting Out and About, my ideas usually center on St. Joe County, Portage, Kalamazoo, and parts of northern Indiana. Traveling out of country is taking it a bit far, but every so often it’s a good idea to go someplace where a passport is needed. In doing this, your appreciation of the good old USA is strengthened.

We just returned from a seven-day visit to our neighbors to the north. Traveling to Canada is a great experience. The Canadians are quite hospitable and a good percentage of them know all the words to our “Star Spangled Banner”. It’s sad to think that you’d have to look really hard to find someone who knows the name of the Canadian national anthem, let alone the words. My wife practiced singing “O Canada” on the train between Windsor and Toronto. The melody is easier to hum than ours, and listening to either one can be an emotional experience.

The reason for our visit to Toronto was the Lions International Convention, which ran from July 4 through July 8. The highlights for me included seeing Neil Sedaka, Olivia Newton-John, and song writer David Foster. During Neil Sedaka’s concert, he mentioned that back in his early days of song writing, one could easily understand the lyrics. When lyrics were difficult to come by, he’d throw in a couple of “Doo Lang-a-Langs”. Makes sense to me.

Another highlight was the parade; this four-hour spectacle took place on Saturday. Approximately one hundred and twenty countries were represented. Watching a parade of this caliber makes one realize just how many different cultures make up this world of ours. I noticed that the highest level of spirit came from those countries whose economy was much poorer than ours. In other words, those with less have more positive attitudes and are more appreciative of what they do have.

The Fourth of July passed without any fireworks. We did watch “The Fourth of July Celebration From Washington, D.C.” on TV Friday evening. It wasn’t quite the same without live fireworks and a hot dog or two.

I’m sure many of you have traveled throughout Canada, but for those who have never ventured north of the border, it is an experience you’ll not want to miss. A passport is something you’ll need to have with you. You may be asked to show it, whether you’re entering Canada or returning to the United States. The customs people seem to be quite relaxed. They are interested in knowing where you are going, where you’ll be staying, and why are you going there. I strongly advise that you don’t try to rush them along. They have a job to do and they do it quite well.

We crossed the border at Detroit and took the Ambassador Bridge into Windsor. From Windsor, we traveled by train to Toronto. Staying in any major city can be quite expensive, and Toronto is Canada’s largest city, so you can do the math.

Toronto is a city under construction, so making use of a taxi is the best way to get from point A to point B. Like any other major city, pedestrians and bicyclists are everywhere. It made me wonder why there were so many pedestrians visible at 10 AM. Don’t they have jobs? Why aren’t they already at work?

A few final words of advice that I feel I should share. If you’re planning to travel outside of your home area, and this would include traveling out of state for any length of time, you should contact your credit card company. They know where your card is, and they want to make sure you are with your card. Finally, please don’t announce your travel plans on Facebook. Burglars have Facebook accounts, too, and they’re always looking for people who love to announce their travel plans.

Our Canada trip was wonderful. It was great to get Out and About to some place new, and, of course, it’s always great to get back home and sleep in your own bed.

See you Out and About!

Out and About – Week of July 7th

July 8, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

This is the season, and this is probably the month, when high school class reunions take place. The first reunion that normally happens is the “Ten-Year Reunion”. This is probably the one when the classmates try to impress each other with the accomplishments they’ve made in the ten years since graduation. College is in the history books, and those that went on to earn their Masters and Doctorate degrees have completed them but will be paying off their loans for a few more years. This reunion might better be titled the “Bragging Reunion”. Those who didn’t go on to college went on to other feats worth bragging about.

The “Twenty-Year Reunion” is the one when classmates show off baby pictures or divorce documents. They have realized that high school romances don’t always work out, though I know more than several high school romances, from my class, that are still blooming.

The “Thirty-Year Reunion” was the first one that I attended. Everyone has changed a bit over the past thirty years. The guys have lost some of their hair, and the girls show evidence of bearing two or three children. To my female classmates, you are still looking very good, and I kick myself for not ever asking you out for a date. I was very shy, and to this day, I have difficulty handling rejection. Anyway, at our thirty year reunion, I received the “Who the Heck Are You?” award. I had grown a beard and had put on a few pounds.

I have suspicions that class reunions are a thing of the past. I don’t think classmates bond like they used to back in the day. This is really too bad, because a person’s high school years should be the years when you made best friends forever. You and your classmates experienced puberty together, and most of you fell in love for the first time. There’s a lot of individuality out there today. It has become a “Me” world, and this is unfortunate.

My classmates gather once a year for, what we call, a “Birthday Bash”. This celebration was started when we all turned sixty years old. We celebrated our fiftieth class reunion two years ago. I’m not sure when our next class reunion will take place, but I’m looking forward to this year’s “Birthday Bash”. It will be held at a classmate’s home, and we’ll call it a night around 9 PM, because that’s when the bus picks us up and takes us back to the “Home”.

We should all be aware of the fact that, if you’re thirsty, drinking plain water is the best way to quench that thirst. We should all drink more water. I prefer flavored water, and my doctor agrees that flavored water is just fine. Drinking water at the right time is very important, because keeping yourself properly hydrated is the healthy thing to do. Here are some suggested times when water will be most beneficial to you:

Drinking two glasses of water after waking up will help activate your internal organs.

One glass of water thirty minutes before a meal will help in your digestion.

If you drink a glass of water before taking a bath/shower, it will help lower your blood pressure.

By drinking a glass of water before you go to bed, you have less of a chance of suffering a stroke or heart attack. Of course, you will probably have the need to get up sometime during the night and make use of your bathroom facilities.

Throughout our busy lives, we have the opportunity to make choices. Some are good and, of course, some are liable to be not so good. Multiple choices are my favorite. Here are several:

Busy can be a productive choice.

Stress is definitely not a good choice.

Joy is a very good choice, if it is available.

Take time to make your choice wisely.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of June 30th

July 1, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

Last week I wrote about having lunch with an old friend of mine who was visiting from Idaho. The time we spent having lunch was great, and it made me wish we had more time to do more lunches, but those will have to wait until his next visit.

The week after Water Festival, I was having breakfast at one of the fine coffee/lunch venues, when through the door came another one of my classmates. The timing was great, because I was by myself and didn’t need to worry about my wife getting bored with a conversation dealing with my life fifty years ago. Nancy Welch is the daughter of the late Elmer Black, and she was in town with her daughter and step-mother-in-law. They were here to go through Elmer’s house and get some things sorted out. We talked about Elmer for a while. He was a remarkable man filled with tales of years gone by. He will be missed by many.

Nancy now lives in Florida, so the subject came up dealing with the difference in climates between Michigan and Florida. I asked her how she was able to tolerate the hot and humid summers in Florida. She replied by asking me how we tolerated the frigid and snowy winters here in Michigan. They learn when to stay in the air conditioning and when to get Out and About in sunny Florida. This makes a lot of sense to me, but I’d rather live in Michigan with an occasional cockroach, than deal with a multitude of palmetto bugs, plus they have those little geckos that are popular in Florida. To each his own.

It was great to spend a few minutes with Nancy, who, like many of my female classmates, still looks a lot younger than seventy years old. Actually she won’t be seventy for another month or so.

Not many people in Three Rivers ever knew Bill Kowalski. If you happen to be a Lions member, you might be lucky enough to have met him. Bill passed away Wednesday, June 18, in Kalamazoo, at the age of 91. We attended his visitation and funeral, which was difficult, but something we definitely would not have missed.

Bill Kowalski’s favorite project was Project KidSight. This project provides eye-screening for children from ages one to seventeen. It’s a free screening which can detect problems that can lead to blindness if proper action is not taken. He traveled many miles and dedicated many hours to this project. He received no compensation, because Lions don’t get paid for their volunteering. As a matter of fact, Lions Clubs International is one of those service organizations in which we pay to volunteer. Bill Kowalski’s pay was knowing that he had helped a lot of kids avoid the possibility of being blind. My pay, as a Lion, is being able to meet many people just like Bill. Rest in peace, my friend.

We are constantly reading or hearing about the latest “scam”. There are people out there who thrive on taking advantage of others. Here are two scams that you should be aware of:

“One Ring” scam: According to the Better Business Bureau, cell phone users should be on the lookout for unauthorized charges on their monthly statement. Customers receiving a missed call that rings only once from an unknown, international number could be charged if they call back. If this happens to you, and you think you’re a victim of this scam, alert your mobile provider.

“Phishing” scam: E-mails pop up from time to time, and they may look like they are from authentic companies, delivery carriers, or banks. Be careful of clicking links in e-mails, if you don’t recognize the return address. Should this happen to you, you can always verify information by directly visiting a website or calling the organization’s phone number. You can also contact a Fraud Resolution Specialist at 1-888-829-6558.

Here’s something to keeping in mind and put to good use:

“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, ‘Is it true?’

At the second ask, ‘Is it necessary?’

At the third gate ask, ‘Is it kind?’ ~ Sufi saying.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of June 23rd

June 24, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

The 58th Annual Water Festival is now in the history books, and a few pages have been turned since the last firework was shot into the night skies. After a couple of cool days, the weather cooperated and everyone was able to fully enjoy this yearly event.

During the week of Water Festival, I had the opportunity to visit with some friends from my high school years. It was great to reminisce about those memorable years. We didn’t have I-pods or video games back then. If you wanted to contact a friend, you had to use your home phone or visit a telephone booth. Cell phones hadn’t been thought of yet, so texting while driving was not a hazard. We had other hazards, like keeping both hands on the steering wheel. After all, it was important to have your arm around your girlfriend while driving.

Back to my original topic. It seems you never have enough time to really visit with out-of-town friends. My one buddy lives in Idaho. He usually calls me when he comes to town for a family event. Unfortunately, he calls me the day before he has to leave and go home. This time we did have time for a lunch visit. It lasted about two hours. We did manage to eat something, but it was more of a time to just talk. He had answers to some of my questions. They were quite personal, but he was willing to answer them. I had questions on how he was dealing with the loss of his wife. He’s doing fine and I feel that he helped me a great deal as far as dealing with emotions. We laughed and we cried a bit, but that’s okay to do with a friend. I’m a very lucky guy to have a variety of friends. I also have a box of Kleenex nearby.

I’m feeling a bit depressed. This past Sunday was my mom’s birthday. She would have been 111 years young. Belated Happy Birthday, Mom. This past Sunday was also the first day of summer, which means that the days are now getting shorter, and this is what saddens me the most. I keep reminding myself to get Out and About and enjoy the daylight hours, because they are getting shorter every day.

I received a couple of cards this past Fathers’ Day. They were from our cat Dixie. Dixie never forgets those special occasions, and the cards are very unique. I don’t think she buys them herself, because she never leaves the house. I’m pretty sure my wife buys them for her. Dixie is our “daughter”, even though she’s a cat. Real family pets are a very important part of the family. On that topic, you’ll be interested in knowing that it costs about $235 a year to feed a large dog, according to the ASPCA, and only $55 to feed a small one. That compares to $115 for a cat and $190 for a rabbit. I had rabbits as a kid, but my wife refuses to have anymore “children”. We only have a three bedroom house.

I don’t know how a family of four survives these days. According to statistics, the average American family of four spends about $1600 a year on food it never eats. To save what you pay for: Refrigerate greens in a damp paper towel in an airtight container; blanch fresh vegetables and freeze them in one-meal portions; make overripe fruit into compote; store leftovers in glass containers so you can see them. Another way to save money with a large family is to eat more meals at home. Fast food restaurants can be expensive, and the quality of food is questionable. Can you say “Obesity”? On the other hand, my wife and I find that it is just as costly for us to eat in as it is to dine out. We go out several times a week and let Dixie fend for herself. We rarely visit those expensive places, but prefer the “Mom and Pop” cafes. My wife loves Tater Tots, which are hard to find, but if you are also a lover of those tasty bits of carbohydrates, you’ll be happy to know that Mr. B’s Dairy Bar, here in Three Rivers, does have them, and they are good.

A thought to brighten your spirit: All things in life are temporary. If things are going well, enjoy them, for they will not last forever. If things are not going so well, don’t worry, they won’t last long, either.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

Out and About – Week of June 16th

June 17, 2014 by Administrator · Comments Off 

A couple of weeks ago, I celebrated a birthday that I had been dreading for about twenty years. I’ve never had a problem with birthdays, but this one really bothered me. To let the cat out of the bag, I finally reached my seventieth birthday. To some of you, I’m just a young kid, because you might be a few years older. It’s much the same feeling I get when I hear someone complain about being forty-five and really getting old. Age is just a number, and I don’t feel my age; I thank those of you who tell me that I don’t look that old.

I’m pretty sure that the reason that I dreaded this birthday is that my father never reached my current age, so I feel that I’m living on borrowed time. My mother lived well into her eighties, so there might be a good chance that I have many good years ahead of me. I hope I do, because there are still a few things I have left to do. I apologize to those older than I. I don’t mean to sound like an old man.

This last year has been a little rough on me physically. I’m dealing with a bad knee and the thought that I might never walk again without the use of a cane does bother me. It’s difficult for me to imagine walking at a faster gait without falling. I’m praying and hoping that my scheduled surgery will correct this.

On a recent trip to the grocery store, I was waiting for my wife to finish shopping. I was sitting comfortably on a bench doing one of my favorite things: people watching. I must admit that I was feeling a bit depressed, which might have been the result of some new pain medication I’ve been taking. Anyway, as I was sitting there having my own little “pity party”, a younger gentleman passed by me in a wheelchair. He had a happy smile on his face, but he didn’t have any legs. I felt very ashamed of myself for feeling sorry for my condition. I have an 80% chance of a very good recovery. The man in the wheelchair will never have his legs back. I have absolutely no right to feel sorry for myself. Another life-lesson learned.

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago about meeting a new neighbor named Gloria. After I had sent this column to the paper, I thought of something that I should have added to that column. We are very fortunate to live in one of the many good neighborhoods in Three Rivers. We can, if we wish, take an evening stroll around the block and feel very safe in doing so. We know most of our neighbors and get along with them. We always wave or honk at them as we pass by, and they wave back with a smile. I don’t know how many of them read this column, but if they do, I’d like to thank them for being good neighbors and say that we appreciate their friendliness. Our neighborhood is a good one in which to get Out and About.

I’d like to apologize for something else, while I’m on the topic of apologizing. As often as I can, I really enjoy getting Out and About in my John Deere Gator. I’ve previously stated that the vehicle is completely “Street-Legal”. It is fun to drive, and I love to tick off the oil barons, because it is very fuel-economical. Anyway, as I’m driving around Three Rivers, I might not always see or hear someone wave or yell “Hi” to me. Believe me when I say that I’m not ignoring you, but I sometimes can’t hear you, or I’m concentrating so much on my driving that I don’t see you in time to acknowledge your greeting. The Gator doesn’t have power steering and the suspension is a bit tight, so driving it does require some much needed attention. If I see you first, I’ll usually honk or wave. If you don’t wave back, I’ll figure you’re just ignoring me.

Jeff Foxworthy is one of my favorite comedians. I’d like to share a couple of his comments that deal with living in Michigan:

If you have worn shorts and a coat at the same time, you might live in Michigan.

If you go out to a fish fry every Friday, you might live in Michigan.

If your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole barn, you might live in Michigan.

See you Out and About!

Submitted by Norm Stutesman

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