Looking Back at 2016

            Goodbye to 2016 and Hello to 2017!                                    HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

As the Year 2016 rushes to an end, and none too quickly, I am struck with a reflective mood.

The year has definitely been rocky and filled with far more valleys than I would have wanted or anticipated. But where there are valleys, it means there are also mountains. With mountains, it means there were also “mountain top experiences”.

The financial struggles over the last 15 years have been draining and at times seemed like it would sink me. But, here I a, facing a new year and still holding on.

In a surprise, I managed to stay out of the hospital except for one five-day stint at the beginning of April. The tradition of spending Christmas week at Regional Hospital was broken.

I was able to enjoy a visit with my sister, Leticia, her family and the rest of some of my family both Thanksgiving and Christmas at her house in Dugger.

Most of the year was spent on the routine life with no events, no extraordinary incidents. As I mentioned in some of my posts, this has been a very boring year.

Then again, with my health concerns, boring means it was a very good year.

Doesn’t look like I will be sharing any bubbly with anyone tonight. It will just be me and Chooey in Mark’s Den for New Year’s Eve.

Continuing to be difficult on me is not being able to see my sons, Dave and Kev; their wives, Anna and Hailey; and my three granddaughters:
Dylan, Alaina and Amelia as much as I would like.

Each holiday, while my siblings gather with their children and grandchildren, I celebrate alone waiting for that phone call or text or email from my sons.

While the road has been rocky and the future uncertain as I sit on the cusp of 2017, life goes on.

From the Cornfield and Mark’s Den, life’s ship was never meant to sail only on calm seas going nowhere. Life was meant to toss and roll with the waves becoming stronger and better for riding the surf and appreciating whenever a harbor was reached.

As the song goes, without the rain we would never have the flowers. Or as my Mom once wrote in a poem, you can never climb the mountain unless you go through the valley first.

A heartfelt Happy New Year to one and all from me and my baby, Chooey.

May the coming year find you healthy and may your soul prosper.

Some images captured through this year:

Chooey getting comfortable
May, 2016, checking back to healthy.
Granddaughters Alaina, Amelia, Dyaln getting ready for Halloween – thanks for sharing Dave and Anna!
Aunt Lou Doris Ivy Ray Harwick went ahead of us to heaven this fall.
Leticia’s house for Thanksgiving – Kaila, Mom behind her, me, Bill and my great-niece Teagan, daughter of Jeremy, son of Phil and Brenda (in the background hidden behind me)
First snow of winter 2016/2017
Chooey in his new bed on top of his milk crate perch to look outside.
Leticia’s house for Christmas (Yay! I’m not in the hospital for the first time in three years!) Bill, Chad’s Dad, me and Mom
Feeling better than in years, I treated myself at Denny’s South in Terre Haute for New Year’s Eve dinner. I was feeling it though when I had to go back out to the van to drive back home. I also had a salad with ranch dressing, not pictured.

Bring it on 2017!

The End of 2016

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

The end of 2016 is upon us. Tonight at midnight we welcome the New Year – 2017. Never in my lifetime has there been a year that people wanted over more than 2016.

As the year ends, I was blessed with an unexpected windfall. My January payday, which is Tuesday, arrived in the bank today. That means I can take my time getting bills paid and my first of the month running done.

Later today I will be compiling my annual look back at the year that has been. I warn you now, it will be rather boring.

The wind is kicking up around the Cornfield. Gusts will be around 35 miles per hour, making travel difficult at times. Rain is expected to start falling within the hour as a cold front approaches.

Chooey and I are getting ready to spend the evening watching the festivities from the comfort of Mark’s Den. I will enjoy sipping on Irish Cream as we ring in the New Year.

That’s the way it is on this last day of 2016.

And how is your Saturday going?

2016 Winding Down

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Can you believe it?

Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve.

This year will finally be over – after adding a leap second to the clock, that is.

What a year it has been.

Check out this excerpt from Thursday’s Kernels From the Cornfield:

9. 2016 Memory List – Check out this list of those we have lost in 2016 as compiled by CNN‘s Lisa Respers France on Facebook:

January 10 David Bowie, 69, Rock icon
January 14 Alan Rickman, 69, Actor
January 18 Glenn Frey, 67, Eagles rocker
January 23 Jimmy Bain, 68, Rainbow rock star
January 30 Frank Finlay, 89, Acting great
January 31 Terry Wogan, 77, TV & radio legend
February 3 Maurice White, 74, Earth Wind & Fire star
February 19 Harper Lee, 89, To Kill A Mockingbird author
February 28 Frank Kelly, 77, Father Ted star
February 28 George Kennedy, 91, Movie great
March 1 Tony Warren, 79, Coronation St creator
March 8 George Martin, 90, Beatles producer
March 11 Keith Emerson, 71, ELP rock legend
March 15 Sylvia Anderson, 88, Lady Penelope
March 16 Frank Sinatra Junior, 72, Sinatra’s singer son
March 17 Paul Daniels, 77, Comedy magician
March 29 Patty Duke, 69, Child star
March 31 Ronnie Corbett, 85, Comedy legend
March 31 Denise Robertson, 83, TV agony aunt
April 6 Merle Haggard, 79, Country legend
April 12 David Gest, 62, TV personality
April 20 Victoria Wood, 62, Comedy genius
April 20 Joanie “Chyna” Laurer, 46, WWE wrestling legend
April 21 Lonnie Mack, 74, Blues guitar great
April 21 Prince, 57, Pop icon
April 21 Guy Hamilton, 93, Bond director
April 24 Billy Paul, 80, Chart star
May 17 Guy Clark, 74, Country legend
May 19 John Berry, 52, Beastie Boys star
May 19 Alan Young, 96, Mister Ed TV star
May 21 Nick Menza, 51, Megadeth drummer
May 24 Burt Kwouk, 85, Pink Panther star
May 31 Carla Lane, 87, Liver Birds writer
June 3 Muhammad Ali, 74, Boxing legend
June 14 Henry McCullough, 72, Wings guitarist
June 19 Anton Yelchin, 27, Star Trek’s Chekov
June 24 Bernie Worrall, 72, Funkadelic star
June 28 Scotty Moore, 84, Elvis’s guitarist
July 2 Caroline Aherne, 52, Comedy actress
July 16 Alan Vega, 78, Suicide punk pioneer
August 13 Kenny Baker, 81, Star Wars’ R2-D2
August 15 Dalian Atkinson, 48, Villa cup hero
August 29 Gene Wilder, 83, Comic genius
September 11 Alexis Arquette, 47, Transgender actress
September 17 Charmian Carr, 73, Sound of Music’s Liesl
September 25 Arnold Palmer, 87, Golfing legend
October 14 Jean Alexander, 90, Corrie’s Hilda Ogden
October 23 Pete Burns, 57, Dead or Alive chart star
October 24 Bobby Vee, 73, 1960s teen idol
November 7 Leonard Cohen, 82, Iconic singer & writer
November 11 Robert Vaughn, 83, Veteran actor
November 13 Leon Russell, 74, US rock legend
November 24 Colonel Abrams, 67, 80s chart star
November 25 Florence Henderson, 82, Brady Bunch star
November 26 Ron Glass, 71, US TV star
December 1 Andrew Sachs, 86, Fawlty Towers star
December 6 Peter Vaughan, 93, Game of Thrones star
December 7 Ian Cartwright, 52, Wolves midfielder
December 8 John Glenn, 95, First to orbit Earth
December 8 Greg Lake, 69, ELP legend
December 10 AA Gill, 62, Writer & critic
December 10 Ian McCaskill, 78, TV weatherman
December 12 Walter Swinburn, 55, Derby winning jockey
December 13 Alan thicke, 69,Actor, composer, television host
December 18 Zsa Zsa Gabor, 99, Actress
December 24 Rick Parfitt, 68, Quo Rocker
December 24 Liz Smith, 95, Actress
December 25 George Michael, 53, Singer
December 26 Ricky Harris, 54, Comedian/actor
December 26 George Irving, 94, Actor
December 27 Richard Adams, 96, Author
December 27 Carrie Fisher, 60, Actress
December 28 Debbie Reynolds, 84, Actress

As I mentioned yesterday, I am hoping I make it into 2017. So far I have managed, by the grace of God, to remain out of the hospital since April.

Like last New Year’s, it will be Chooey and me ringing in the New Year. I do have a bottle of Irish Cream to toast 2017, which I will sip over the rocks.

Tomorrow I will be compiling and publishing my look back at this year. But I must admit, it has been rather boring here in the Cornfield these last 12 months.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den as I relax my way into another year.

And how is your day before New Year’s Eve going?

Wow! What a Year

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

This year cannot end soon enough.

With only three days left, 2016 has proven to be a killer (pun intended) when it comes to icons and celebrities. But, we will have to wait a tad longer for 2017 to be ushered in as the clock will add one extra second (leap second).

When word came in last night that the “Unsinkable” Debbie Reynolds had passed away one day after her daughter, Carrie “Princess Leia” Fisher, thoughts of my own mortality filled my brain.

I thought back to my own brushes with the cold hands of Death. I wondered if I would make it out of 2016 alive, unscathed. As the Good Book tells us, “It is appointed unto man to once die…”

How soon before my own appointment?

How soon before any of our appointments?

The best we can do is be sure we are ready to face our Maker when that appointment arrives.

We can also take to heart the Garth Brooks song, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” and make sure we tell those closest to us how much we love them.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den.

And how is your Thursday going?

#FlashBackThursday photo:

From 2005 or 2006, Kev, Dave and I at Christmas time in Indianapolis.

Sliding to the New Year

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Hump Day – a slide to the New Year has begun. In the rear view mirror, 2016 is becoming more distant while ahead I can see the welcoming sign of 2017.

But for the moment, I sit on the hump looking down to the weekend when we say “goodbye” to this year and “hello” to the next.

The fight with my own body has not yet stopped. I am praying I make it into the next year without a visit to the emergency room and a stay in the hospital to greet the New Year.

Slept in until 7:30 this morning. Not really sure why. Surprised Chooey did not try and wake me earlier.

The ground in the Cornfield was covered with white this morning. No, it was not snow, but frost which blanketed the grass and blinded the windows.

The mercury has made it above the freezing point, but it feels like 28 degrees outside. In Mark’s Den, it is nice and cozy.

Chooey is curled up in his bed by my feet. I sit at my computer typing away my words of dribble.

That’s the way it is in the Den.

And how is your Wednesday going?

Fighting Myself

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

As 2016 rushes toward its end, I find I am fighting with myself. The battle is not mental, though that goes on daily, but rather it is fighting with my physical body.

The curse was broken. I was home for Christmas week for the first time in three years. Now the struggle is to remain out of the hospital before the New Year begins on Sunday.

I am determined.

The weather is not helping.

Yesterday, the temperatures were in the 60s for most of the daylight hours. Today it has dropped 20 degrees. Rain off and on Sunday and Monday also raised the stakes. Clear skies and bright sun belie the frigid air.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den.

And how is your Tuesday going?

The Day after Christmas

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Here it is the day after Christmas.

I am still home in Mark’s Den.

Dad stopped by following Sunday School yesterday. He had a plate from Susie. I plan to have the ham, potatoes, corn, green beans and candied yams with a big yeast roll for supper tonight.

A short time later, with the weather cooperating at that time, I made the 10-mile trip through the country to Leticia’s house.

This was the first time in three years that I have not spent the Christmas week in the hospital and the first time in three years to visit with family on Christmas day.

While I did not stay long, I did chow down before returning t the Den. Rain had begun to fall. I knew I needed to get in as quickly as possible to keep my health.

This morning I woke to what seemed like a balmy day. The mercury was in the low 60s. Rain is a threat for the rest of the day.

Then watch out! The temperature is going to drop 20 degrees for a high tomorrow.

With the wet weather, Chooey is staying inside. While he loves the snow, he refuses to go out when it is rainy. Good thing I keep puppy pads down for days like today.

That’s the way it is in Mark’s Den.

And how is your Monday after Christmas going?

Sunday Golden Text: Born a Savior

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed.

 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.)

And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

– Luke 2: 1-16

O Holy Night – Jon Saylesl
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0

Christmas Eve in the Den

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Tomorrow is Christmas.

The week is nearly over.

I am still at home in Mark’s Den.

The cycle has been broken. For the last two Christmas weeks I found myself in Regional Hospital in Terre Haute. This year, thanks to precautions and treatment from my doctor as well as the grace of God, the pattern was broken. I have remained in the Den all week.

Now it is Christmas Eve.

Chooey and I are still staying indoors, taking precautions.

Phil and Brenda have invited me over this evening, but that does not fit with my body. It is in the late afternoon and evening hours when I have to resort to keeping tubed to the oxygen any time I move out of my recliner. The ability to function becomes greatly diminished.

The best option for me is to remain in the Den with Chooey.

Tomorrow, Christmas, Leticia and Chad have invited me over. Again the time is in the late afternoon.

Again the best option is staying in the Den.

Complicating all of the planning is the weather. Rain continues to fall off and on across the Cornfield. Storms are possible tomorrow. The temperature is warming and may hit the low 60s tomorrow. But winter returns the early part of the week.

That’s the way it is on this day before Christmas.

And how is your Christmas Eve?

Merry Christmas to all!

May you find love, joy and peace as you gather with family and friends.

Almost Made It

Delve into the light and dark that is Mark

Christmas is two days away.

I am still at home in Mark’s Den!

Looks like I have broken the curse which landed me in the hospital for Christmas week the past two years.

This does not mean I have not struggled this week, but I have, by the grace of God, overcome and made it to this point and time. Praying come Sunday, Christmas day, I will be posting from home.

The weather is not helping.

After starting the week in an icebox, stormy and much warmer weather is on tap for the weekend. Rain will be starting soon today. The mercury will soar to near 60 with thunderstorms for Christmas in the Cornfield.

None of this is beneficial for people like me with respiratory issues.

Phil and Brenda invited over for Christmas Eve and Leticia and Chad for Christmas day, While I appreciate and am very grateful for the invitations, the timing is not right for my body concerns.

In both cases the time is 4 p.m. to visit.

Around that time is when the pressure begins to build on my airways. In the evenings, I usually have to keep my oxygen tube connected to stand or move a foot this way or that.

Such is life.

With yesterday being Phil’s birthday, I did not post a #ThrowBackThursday photo.

To rectify that, here are a few #FridayFlashback images of family Christmas: