Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Too Much of a Good Thing?

It's Autumn. Winter is approaching. With that comes shorter days and less daylight - not a good thing for someone like myself that lives with a mood disorder. On top of that it seems like the weather has been wet, dark and dreary for too many days to suit me. Sunshine helps the mood. Gloomy dark cloudy days do not!

We own a lamp to address that  issue. I can give myself my own light therapy treatment. Yesterday I had the lamp sitting on a table beside my desk and I had it on while I worked at the computer. Four hours of full spectrum light!

Did I ever get energized.

When Heidi got home she commented on my exuberant mood, speeding thoughts, and rapid speech. Apparently I overdosed on light. Seems I should only use it for 20 to 30 minutes a day.

That is unfortunate. The extra light gave me energy to offset the exhaustion I'm experiencing due to the lack of sleep thanks to the bronchitis/asthma thing I have going on. I was more productive yesterday than I had been in a long time. I was able to stay focussed as I continued to work on the Ahnenpaβ.

I wonder if I can get away with a whole hour of light therapy. Maybe 2?

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful.” 
~~~ Mae West

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


The coughing and hacking continues. It had eased up a fair bit and a week ago I went to the gym and worked out for an hour. Since then the coughing has gotten progressively worse again.

Asthma? Bronchitis?

I don't know. At this point I don't think the doctors have figured it out either. So I continue to hack and cough, lose sleep, and get increasingly tired and frustrated. I'm going to ask my doc to refer me to a lung specialist when I see him next.

In the meantime, I continue to work through the stack of family history documents that I have. It's slow going because I find myself going down side trails, researching the backgrounds and significance of various papers, circumstances, and situations that I find while scanning the documents and photos into my computer.

Over the past several months I have predominantly been working on a document (it's actually a booklet) that had belonged to one of my aunts. It's called an Ahnenpaβ. 

Ahnenpaβ literally translates as Ancestral Passport and it was an official genealogical record to be researched and recorded by individuals in Nazi Germany. I went on-line to see if I could learn more about it and found a variety of these booklets in different formats and covers. The booklet covers varied in colour, construction and Font and Images. All the material I found on-line described the Ahnenpaβ as a 48 page booklet. My aunt`s Ahnenpaβ has 80 pages. More on the purpose and content in a future blog post.

Because of the age of the document the colour of the cover has faded and the pages have yellowed. The handwritten entries and the seals stamped on the various pages have also faded. I`ve been using Photoshopto revive the faded colour and sharpness as much as possible. As well as improving the appearance of the booklet, the Photoshopping results t help me to read the contents of the booklet.

Booklet Cover

Title Page

 First Page of Genealogical Record

 This packrat has learned that what the next generation will 
value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were 
and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories 
that are worth the storage.
~ Ellen Goodman,
The Boston Globe

Friday, October 12, 2012

Life Goes On

Two weeks have flown by again.

In that time we have gone from seeing trees dressed in the splendour of fall colours to denuded branches; nakedly silent for the long, cold winter ahead. Our weather has changed from bright sunshine, blue skies, and summer-like temperatures in the high 20 degrees Celsius to grey skies, crisp winds, temperatures hovering around freezing and occasional swirling snow flurries.

The bronchitis I have been fighting since the middle of July has slowly been easing up. My last visit to the Doctor resulted in the conclusion that I have asthma, triggered by environmental allergies that has become exacerbated by the bronchitis. Now I have a total  of 3 different inhalers that I use on a daily basis.

I have returned to the gym again - not as frequently as I was going prior to the bronchitis, and my workouts are at most an hour long as opposed to the 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 hours I was logging before breathing became so difficult. My emergency inhaler is in my pocket as I'm exercising now, and without the occasional puff I can't last for much more than 15 minutes. But I am exercising again! That's progress.

I continue to work through the materials I've collected for my writing, and the ideas of how to structure this family history record continue to spin and evolve. I recently read the book, Patient Number 7 by Kurt Palka. Palka worked through a collection of documents pertaining to his family history, and presented a fictionalized telling of some of that history. An interesting idea, but I am increasingly leaning towards creating material to post on a website that I would develop. I like the idea of a website because it allows the opportunity to post material and add to it as I complete it, update information as new facts come to life, and display digital copies of the documentation that has accumulated over the past several decades.

Life moves on and God keeps working in our lives. The blessings He pours out on us continue to enrich our lives and He provides us with numerous opportunities to bless others.

The most significant blessings for us are seeing our kids doing well. Last weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving and our time together as a family was one good food (too much, actually), great conversation, and lots of laughter. Each of our kids has good stuff happening in their lives. Only God knows what the future will bring for them.

A few days ago my daughter Lora informed us she was moving to South Africa in January, for a two year term as a support staff person at the Youth With A Mission campus in Worcester where she spent 5 months this past spring and summer. Another desire granted!

God is good! Life is good!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Met the guys for coffee and Bible study again at 6 this morning.

Had to leave early because I started hacking and coughing again. The coughing continued all the way home (I probably shouldn't have been driving) and for at least another 10 minutes once I got home.

As I was driving home a song I had never heard before came on the radio. Between my coughing fits I caught a few of the words and I began laughing to myself. The words that caught my attention? "Crazy Mennonites". Given my Mennonite roots It's understandable that these two words piqued my curiosity.

The song?

Amish Paradise by 'Weird' Al Yankovic.

The song was apparently recorded in 1996 - not sure why I had never heard of it before. 

Between meeting with my friends for coffee and Bible study and laughing at 'Weird; Al I had a great start to my day - despite the ongoing bronchitis.

God, friends, and laughter - great medicine!

As I walk through the valley where I harvest my grain
I take a look at my wife and realize she's very plain
But that's just perfect for an Amish like me
You know, I shun fancy things like electricity
At 4:30 in the morning, I'm milkin' cows
Jebediah feeds the chickens and Jacob plows, fool
And I've been milkin' and plowin' so long that
Even Ezekiel thinks that my mind is gone
I'm a man of the land, I'm into discipline
Got a Bible in my hand and a beard on my chin
But if I finish all of my chores and you finish thine
Then tonight we're gonna party like it's 1699

We been spending most our lives

Living in an Amish paradise
I've churned butter once or twice
Living in an Amish paradise
It's hard work and sacrifice
Living in an Amish paradise
We sell quilts at discount price
Living in an Amish paradise

A local boy kicked me in the butt last week

I just smiled at him and I turned the other cheek
I really don't care, in fact I wish him well
'Cause I'll be laughing my head off when he's burning in Hell
But I ain't never punched a tourist even if he deserved it
An Amish with a 'tude? You know that's unheard of
I never wear buttons but I got a cool hat
And my homies agree I really look good in black... fool
If you come to visit, you'll be bored to tears
We haven't even paid the phone bill in 300 years
But we ain't really quaint, so please don't point and stare
We're just technologically impaired

There's no phone, no lights, no motorcar

Not a single luxury
Like Robinson Crusoe
It's as primitive as can be

We been spending most our lives

Living in an Amish paradise
We're just plain and simple guys
Living in an Amish paradise
There's no time for sin and vice
Living in an Amish paradise
We don't fight, we all play nice
Living in an Amish paradise

Hitchin' up the buggy, churnin' lots of butter

Raised a barn on Monday, soon I'll raise a nudder
Think you're really righteous? Think you're pure in heart?
Well, I know I'm a million times as humble as thou art
I'm the pious guy the little Amlettes wanna be like
On my knees day and night, scorin' points for the afterlife
So don't be vain and don't be whiny
Or else, my brother, I might just have to get medieval on your heinie

We been spending most our lives

Living in an Amish paradise
We're all crazy Mennonites
Living in an Amish paradise
There's no cops or traffic lights
Living in an Amish paradise
But you'd probably think it bites
Living in an Amish paradise