Archive for January, 2023

01 28th, 2023

Jump starting the day a bit since I have to travel out of State to do some Costco shopping – into Kentucky. Actually it’s not as bad as it sounds since our regular location closed and opened up further to the north, it’s now actually better (I think) for us to head into KY. What we won’t do just to re-supply our coffee stash.

And yes, our truck has heat. The costly six-hour ‘fix’ (a dealership bills on) was handled for $288. And, the place which Marcia had panicked about proved exemplary, efficient and personable.

And, the other reason for the Costco morning run is to beat the “Who Dey” Bengal crowd getting ready for tomorrow’s AFC Championship game.

This town has gone football crazy!

Birthdays and more –It seems like this week’s been an ‘event’ cornucopia. Cathy and Kirstin both have celebrated their birthdays. Just as meaningful is that this week, 5-years ago (2018) Tevita became a US citizen. That day was truly a big one for the whole family. If in doubt, just look at the pride shown in everyone’s face.

“It’s amazing what ordinary people can do if they set out without preconceived notions.” ~ Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958 founder of Delco, Dayton, OH)

Vince’s Legacy –This year it’s coming up on six years since Vince’s passing, but what a wonderful legacy he left his family – direct and extended families. His legacy goes much beyond just letters inserted after his name [Vicente Briones, University of Central Florida with a BSME and Professional Engineer (PE) license designation, LEED AP]. Vince’s passion for environmentally friendly engineering became crystal clear as became a driving force in the formation of the US Green Building Council, Central Florida Chapter and the green building movement. Those efforts are now in the form of an annual scholarship award to a worthy student from his alma mater.

Yesterday, on her birthday, Kirstin was invited to present this year’s scholarship award in Orlando. It’s significant enough in that Orlando Mayor, Buddy Dyer, was there for this year’s presentation.


“An inventor is simply a fellow who doesn’t take his education too seriously.” ~ Charles F. Kettering (1876-1958 founder of Delco, Dayton, OH)

This Week’s Lesson – For some time I’ve followed the efforts and work of a Marina Amaral, Brazilian, best selling author, Forbes under 30 list, artist and openly declared Asperger/autistic person. She researches history and using those insights to colorize early historical black and white photographs.

Currently she’s researching the early beginnings of photography; Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) who with a partner created a new form of visual communication, the first commercially viable photographic process: the daguerreotype.

So, here is where her research is leading me to? In 1849 a person by the name of James Presley Ball (1825-1904) opened a new daguerreotype studio in Cincinnati, Ohio – “Ball’s Daguerrean Gallery of the West” right here in Cincinnati! Oh, and what I hadn’t mentioned is that Mr. Ball was a Black free man.

James Presley Ball was a “fierce outspoken abolitionist who had learned the daguerreotype process a few years earlier in Virginia, from another Black free man, John B. Bailey”. At this pre-Civil War time, here in Cincinnati (then considered America’s outpost of high culture in the West) he “held photo exhibitions and oversaw the creation of a 2,500-square-yard panoramic mural put together by a team of local Black artists, depicting the horrors of slavery.”

Ball was a hugely successful individual, traveler, and ended up photographing notables such as Frederick Douglass, Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens, and more importantly, he captured American history by photographing images of children, blacks and whites, the poor and the privileged, even wounded soldiers.

Now my takeaway of all of this; especially to you who hated history while at school. Take some time and discover, round out if you will, your understanding of what is today and how it came about. Dig around and discover.


(a wounded soldier and Frederick Douglass taken by James Presley Ball)

Fin – This week we approved sending tanks to Europe and the Ukraine. I think I am beginning to see a pattern here. And it’s NOT any strategy that I see! What I see missing is any concerted effort to organize an equitable peace. From our government it appears to be more, more, and more — weapons and war.

This past week, seventy years ago in 1953, three provinces in the Netherlands flooded with untold deaths, with village after village flooded. This then became the massive Dike building works to prevent such a disaster.

And yes, we did spend a few hours sorting at Matthew 25 Ministries. As you can see, we had a great time volunteering.


Ciao. Stay strong; look back even as you look forward, stay connected and safe.

Keep on storming the castle. Pray for Peace.


Reflections in a Meadow
01 21st, 2023

Yesterday was a busy one. Really busy, especially since the first part of the week ‘slid’ past like chilled molasses. Bottom line; I slept in and Marcia is still out. Seven AM and little Mr. Coffee just alerted me that it’s ready; now, first my mug of coffee.

Since my keyboard efforts are still horribly slow. And since immediately after posting I have to run (not literally, explain shortly), this week’s Ramblings will be somewhat shorter than what you are used to.

Which does lead to a question; let me know either by comments or mail if you prefer a bit shorter Ramblings stretching into the future.

The “Logging” Road – Now that winter is here, our F150’s heat has called it quits. Through the fluke of some horrid engineering a problem, which I now realize has been around for at least a decade, has raised its horrid head and (with the fancy title of) the Heater Box Actuator broke.

The part is a mere handful of dollars. To get the old out and the new in has Ford dealers – with a straight face – tell you it’s a six hour job. Translates into $1,000 to $1,4000. Predicament? with my eye situation I can’t drive and with the cold, Marcia won’t. It needs fixing!

Some decent research and I’ve found an independent garage willing to tackle the situation. Once at the place, friendly staff, shop is pristine; but it’s the driveway to the place Marcia noted with consternation. The shop (and several businesses) sit behind the Rumpke Recycling center. Where the drive is still a joint one it’s wide and paved. As soon as the Rumpke trucks pull into their facility that same drive turns into what I view as a “logging” Rd in our part of Canada – complete with the, requisite, water filled pot-holes.

We’re dropping the truck off shortly after posting this since we need Adrianne to haul us home and she’s also got stuff going on. So here is the lineup:

Dirk – Navigator w/ minimal sight (mostly quite minimalist)
Marcia – Driver ‘sans’ heat
Adrianne – Uber driver par excellence.

What a cast; Marcia is in a bit of a panic.

Jeff Knoop’s passing – came as a shock. We knew that he had one of those insidious terminal diseases, his being Pulmonary Fibrosis. Younger than us, his passing did come as a shock. Jeff and his wife, Mary Anne, have been friends and neighbors since our kids were toddlers.

Early in his career he headed up the music department of a large neighboring school system. Loved, absolutely loved, classical music with Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana near the tippy-top of his favorites list; I’ve inserted this full rendition by UC Davis California in his honor:

Yesterday was Jeff’s funeral, held at Heritage Acres Memorial Sanctuary. I mention the name since it’s our areas;

“…. only dedicated natural burial ground in the Cincinnati area. We are here to provide a “green burial” alternative for the Tri-State while offering compassionate care to individuals and families as they grieve and process the transitions of life and death……..

Before there were contemporary conventional cemeteries with graves organized in carefully measured rows and marked by gray cement headstones, there were natural burial grounds and practices that did not include chemical embalming, varnished caskets with velvet lining, or concrete vaults. A natural burial is a return to a tradition that provides a simple, less wasteful, non-toxic means of dedicating one’s physical form back to the earth to rejoin the soil with dignity and minimal environmental impact.

I found it to be a wonderful and comforting and participatory service. It was so much more personal and embracing than those I’ve, and we all, have gotten accustomed to.

Marcia on the other hand made it very clear that for her cremation and then placed on the mantle is what she thought as best. My question (not asked) is; “just how many ‘elves-on-a-shelf’ do we need?”

For both of us it’s a bit of a ‘starting-the-discussion’ point, and that isn’t all bad.

Now, if everything goes as planned it’ll be a couple of hours of volunteer work at Matthew 25 Ministries with Adrianne, Vai, and Vili right after lunch.

Ciao. Stay strong; keep pushing onward, stay connected and safe.

Keep on storming the castle. Pray for Peace.


Marcia got up early (I smelled the coffee) and so ‘one—eyed’ Dirk is giving this Rambling keying a go. A bit of a struggle, but hey, here goes; left handed “hunt’n and a peck’n” on the keyboard.

Yesterday I had my one week after surgery checkup. The Doctors are delighted. The reason they are so happy is that 75% of the gas bubble inserted in my eye is still intact (apparently this is a cheerable situation). Legally, I am still blind as a bat in my right eye.

Actually, I too am thrilled. Prior to surgery about 85% of my vision was a pitch-black void. A smallish crescent moon-shaped curve gave me some peripheral sight. A week later I have vision from left to right, it just looks like seeing the world through a frosted-glass window.

I am told that over the next five weeks I’ll ‘see’ (pun intended) a marked improvement – with continued improvement for a period of up to nine months.

In the meantime my life is being dominated by eye drops. It wouldn’t surprise me if I found myself trying to eye-dropper coffee into the eye for continuity’s sake.

Plus, I can’t forget to mention my sleeping position of choice and one approved by the medicos. It’s something I’d seen in WWI movies of troops sleeping in trenches; I’ve built a ‘trench’ made of pillows. It works!

Cross Country sight – on George and my travels a couple of weeks ago we drove into the town of Alamogordo, New Mexico. Huh? Why promote that little town?

See, somewhere around the summer of 1974 Marcia, toddler baby Kirstin, and I visited brother Art who was stationed in El Paso at White Sands Missile Range. From there we were heading to visit my old college roommate in Albuquerque. NM. All this ‘vacationing’ done in our, then brand new, VW ‘Westfalia’ campervan bus.

15-miles outside of Art’s base we sucked a valve in the engine – 2,000 miles outside of a measly warranty period.

What took most of the morning I managed to hitchhike back to base. There, after some phone calls (remember, no mobile phones), located a garage in Alamogordo and secured a tow to the place. Three days later Art picked up the van and delivered it to us in Albuquerque where we’d traveled to via Greyhound bus.

This is the kind of adventure Marcia really never got used to, even after 51 years of marriage. Aaah for the memories!

Freezer Bowl. This weekend it’s the 41st anniversary of the freezer bowl. The Cincinnati Bengals were in the playoffs. Game day the actual temperature was –9 degrees and with wind gusts of 35mph the real feel temperature touched –59 degrees.

Watch these two delightful very short clips to help revive some memories of years ago. Fun stuff.

Ciao. Stay strong; keep pushing onward, stay healthy and safe. Have an enjoyable Martin Luther King Day – personally I think he’d preferred that the kids stay in school and take the day to focus on the likes of Frederick Douglas, Thomas Sowell, Booker T. Washington, Justice Clarence Thomas, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Bessie Coleman, Mary W. Jackson, and I could go on and on. But then, doing so would give kids a ‘leg up’, it’s substantially better to have them stay home, to game, mall, or ‘hang’ (as on a street corner) for yet another day.

Keep on storming the castle. Pray for Peace.


It’s a New Year
01 7th, 2023

Adventures galore!

Over the past two weeks:

A cross-country flight

A cross-country drive

A detached Retina

A visit to our Front Line Trauma center

Surgery at one of the premier eye centers — CEI

Moping about as the surgical block lifts

Thrilled as surgery appears successfull !!!!

Thanks for all who are part of these Ramblings

For You In Appreciation