Last year, Lin and I were mesmerized by an eagle camera near our home. A little over one mile away, as the eagle flies, the Little Miami Conservancy installed a camera above an eagle nest. From Winter into Spring, we watched a pair of eagles build up the nest, lay two eggs, watched them hatch, and raise the two eaglets until they fledged and disappeared on their own journey.
And now, the eagles are back. The camera is live. And, one egg was laid on Feb. 11, and a second egg laid on Valentine’s Day … captured on camera of course. It’s fascinating. Mesmerizing.
We live in a world where cameras are everywhere. We carry them in our pocket. Not much escapes the scrutiny of a camera somewhere, including our front doors. It’s like a George Orwellian fiction come true.
Winter means less motorcycle riding, and that means stress or anxiety can build up a little bit. A good fix for that is some helmet time—good for the head and good for the soul. Unfortunately, that little rodent in Pennsylvania has told the world it will be six more weeks of winter, so actual helmet time might be a ways off. Yeah, right.
Let’s not overlook the fact that sometimes helmet time is not a good idea, especially when you’re on a roller coaster of emotions. Wait for the roller coaster to stop. Then ride.
Everyone who rides a motorcycle knows that riding is good for your mental health. Well, nearly everyone. Recently, there was a scientific study conducted by Harley Davidson that concluded riding decreases the stress factors, and there have been other studies. It’s not like I’m under a lot of stress. I think it’s just good preventative maintenance.
For me, it’s motorcycling, but there are other stress reducing activities. Golf. Fishing. Hiking. Bicycling. All good for mental health. It’s all personal choice and action to keep us out of the therapist’s office.
I never winterize or put a motorcycle away for the winter. There will be days that are good for a ride, like the other day. The temps got into the 50s. The sun was out. Roads were clear, and my Guzzi V7 sat waiting its turn for some exercise. I had not ridden the V7 for several weeks, but one push of the starter button, and it roared to life.
It is hard to describe this motorcycle, my 2020 Moto Guzzi V7iii Rough. No other motorcycle has ever moved my soul like this bike. I don’t know if it is the vibrations or the sound, but it just resonates with me. It is an old-school standard motorcycle with modern technology. Not a speed demon, but plenty of power and torque. The Perfect Motorcycle. Easy to throw a leg over and easy to ride. It is so flickable, handling the curves and twisties like it was made for that. It was! It was made in Italy for riding in the Alps.
I can be watching a You Tube video of a Guzzi V7, and I can feel the vibes just sitting in my office chair. I follow a few You Tubers, and sometimes, I just feel like I want to ride along.
With jacket and helmet on, gloves snugged tight, I straddled the V7, pulled in the clutch and shifted into 1st gear. Releasing the clutch, I pulled away from home, headed down county roads to places I have been before with dreams of going farther. Resonance.
I rode my planned route, but it was not enough. I rode some more. Helmet time does not come every day in the winter.
I started writing this piece a week ago. Should I or shouldn’t I? I decided to turn my story into one of encouragement for others.
Two and a half years ago, with my first-ever elevated PSA, my family physician said, “I think I feel something there. We should keep an eye on that.” That is the purpose of a prostate exam, to know if further examination is necessary. As an Army Vietnam Veteran, I decided to proceed through the Cincinnati VAMC for my health care. I am glad I did.
First, there were the exams and blood work which led to recommendations and an MRI which revealed a lesion on my prostate. A biopsy was ordered. The results of that was one cancerous sample. Five doctors agreed the best course of action was “keep an eye on it.” In medical terms and treatment, it’s called “Active Surveillance.” Sounds like something the CIA or FBI would do.
Six months later, another PSA and MRI showed no change. I began to think, “Well, this is good. Hope it stays this way.” Subsequent six-month follow ups and PSAs all looked good. Then, in the fall 2022, with a slightly elevated PSA, the doc said, “We should get an updated MRI.” That showed an increase in size of the lesion and another biopsy was ordered. That was last week and the results came two days ago.
The biopsied lesion went from one cancerous sample to four, but still considered low-grade prostate cancer. Active surveillance is still an option, but treatment is now in the conversation.
Even though I have been living with prostate cancer for two and a half years, this change has been an emotional roller coaster. I am so glad I have an understanding wife who is my biggest supporter. She is much more than that.
Why does the C-word scare us so? I cannot express how much I appreciate the doctors and nurses of my health care team at the VA. They have been excellent. Professional. Personable. I feel fortunate to have them.
It’s a little scary, but my doctors have told me this was caught early, and it’s not going to kill me. However, it’s still a roller coaster ride of emotions.
The Purpose for this Post
I could rattle off some of the stats about men and prostate cancer, but that info is available elsewhere. What I want to do is to encourage men to have that annual prostate exam. Begin with the PSA which is an indicator. And, ladies, encourage your man to get that exam. Early detection is the best defense for a longer and happy life.
I frequently post pictures and descriptions of the food I cook. Pizzas, Fish. Steaks. Casseroles. Turkey on the grill. Looks good and I get compliments, especially on Facebook. So, it is only fair that I post a food failure.
This is the cheesy bread that I attempted to make, looking into the trash can. It is a recipe that I learned and often purchased when I was a professor at Loras College, Dubuque, Iowa, (1989-1993). I would go over to the student center cafeteria for lunch and order a salad and some cheesy bread. It was so delicious. Makes a great appetizer too.
This attempt was a failure because I accidently removed the cap of the seasoning instead of popping the lid to shake some on the cheese-onion-mayo mixture.
I screwed that cap off without thinking and poured a whole bunch of salt and pepper blend onto my cheese mixture. Damn.
Well, thinking I at least need to finish the appetizer and give my effort a taste test. Maybe it was not too much. I soon learned that was not the case. I took one bite. The whole batch of cheese mix and the three appetizers immediately went into the trash where it belonged. Now, off to the grocery store to replenish supplies.
If properly done, it is grated cheese, finely chopped onion, mayo, with a little salt and pepper, spread on French or Italian bread, and a quick broil in the oven to melt the cheese. It’s delicious. Not willing to admit defeat, and to learn from this experience, I tried it again the next day to accompany a bowl of chili. The cheesy bread was outstanding. Chili too.
The appetizer is best if the bread is slightly toasted before topping it with the cheesy mix. You get a better crunch when taking a bite.
Pop it into the oven under the broiler. Keep an eye on it. It does not take long for the cheesy mix to start bubbling. Wait for just that right amount of browning.
Take it out of the oven. It should look like this.
Transfer to your plate and enjoy.
Yum. That was oh-so good.
Failure is only a failure if one stops at that point. One failure can be a learning experience resulting in success. In other words, try, try again until you succeed.
See you on the highway … or maybe at the grocery store.
Some people travel the world to learn or experience new cultures. Some travel to find themselves. Some never leave home. But like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz said, “There’s no place like home.”
There is nothing wrong with expanding one’s horizons. It is good for the soul and personal growth, but what about exploring one’s own backyard? For me, it started with a presentation at a fly fishing club dinner meeting with a topic that renewed my interest of “rediscovering” the Little Miami River near my home.
The Little Miami Wild & Scenic River “has the distinction of being the first river in Ohio to be included in the National Wild & Scenic River System (1974), and the first to be added to the Ohio Scenic Rivers Program (1969).” Little Miami Conservancy.
Alongside the river is the Little Miami Scenic Trail, a Rails-to-Trail route that is 78 miles long and connects with other recreational trails.
I am sure that I am not alone in overlooking what is in my own backyard. We dream of places far away. Adventures into the unknown. Testing our limits. And yet, here is this incredible, river in my own backyard, and I want to know more about it. To enjoy its stream and the communities that it flows through. This is not a tall order, for it is truly in my backyard, just a hike down a hillside path through a nature preserve, or a quick drive down the road.
One of my favorite motorcycling roads follows the river, and I am always on the lookout for river access to wet a line with one of my fly rods. This year, I am going to spend more time fishing the river, and visiting the communities along its banks. Places like Clifton, Ohio, where the river passes through a spectacular gorge, and one can visit the Historic Clifton Mill for a meal and to step back in time. And then there is Yellow Springs, Xenia, Loveland and Milford, and others all ripe for exploration.
Maybe, just maybe, I will finally use one of the river canoe and kayak companies to canoe down the river. To see the wildlife and the river from a different perspective.
An incredible site to behold, even from the convenience of your home, is the Little Miami Conservancy Eagle Nest Cam. It is mesmerizing to see a pair of eagles build the nest, lay an egg or two and watch the chicks grow into maturity and then leave the nest after testing their wings. January is when it all begins.
This nest can be seen from the road along the river where I wander. It’s huge and most visible when the trees are barren of their leaves, but you have to know where to look.
Even though I have lived near this river for nearly 16 years, there is so much more I want to learn and experience. It’s going to be a rediscovery of my own backyard.