I’m calling it a Milestone

At the end of 2023 I wrote on Caring Bridge: “I may post again when there is a major milestone, e.g. walking unaided…But that might be posted to my blog instead…” (unless I have a relapse, the Caring Bridge site will sit as is..so Blog it is)

I began walking short distances unaided a couple of months ago….twice a week and with a Physical Therapist beside me, holding onto the gait belt wrapped around my body.

Shelly and I started practicing here in the apartment a week or so ago. Recently we jettisoned the gait belt while inside the apartment and it progressed to what you can see in the short attached video.

While I don’t wear a yellow bracelet, I am a fall risk. (especially when you consider my lifelong klutziness…) I’m pretty careful…maybe too much so.

Therapists have pointed out that I need to have more confidence in my abilities, but I know what a broken hip could mean to a clumsy septuagenarian.

My gait is getting better as I try to focus on “heel-toe” and taking longer steps…but “high stepping” is a long ways away. (in the video you can see that I’m barely clearing the carpet.) Even with my walker, tall curbs are challenging.

Steps without handrails?

Forget it!!

(Heck…forget steps in general.)

When I was in the hospital for 38 days I often said “I’ve always been determined, but not all that disciplined.” I need to be more disciplined and dedicated, but the constant nerve pain and lack of stamina increase the challenges. {Being a contrarian sometimes isn’t the smartest thing…}

I’m a high pain threshold guy (i’ve had dentists from coasts to coasts tell me that), but the transverse myelitis pain is never below a 2or3. The spasms boost it by at least a factor of 2or3. The tightness around my knees and hips compounds things. (Sometimes it feels like I have braces around my lower half)

But I’m at the point that grinning and bearing it seems to be the answer, along with lots of gabapentin and some self-medicating with thc gummies and/or a vape pen.

Stamina, or the lack thereof, is maddening. I used to do 12 thousand steps a day and not think twice. Sometimes double that. Now 12 hundred steps wears me out.

I used to carry a watermelon in a bag under one arm and a bag of groceries in the other up the steps to our third floor apartment. Now I avoid steps. (Soon we’ll see if I can lift a watermelon…)

I used to dig in the dirt with a pitchfork and a spade in 5 4×4 boxes. Now loosening the soil with a hand tool in one has me needing a break.

The good friend who wrote is right: “The endurance will come over time & with repetition.”

So was Jimmy V: “Don’t give up…Don’t ever give up!!”

I’ve watched the video a few times, and I gotta tell you that it doesn’t feel as good as it looks!! I don’t feel like Tim Conway, but it feels awkward and janky.

And it feels GREAT!!

I passed it along earlier to a handful of people. The replies had me thinking/laughing/crying (tears of joy). {Jimmy V moments make life worth living.}

So do friends….and their support.

That’s awesome! You have come a long way!”

This is beautiful, Steve, even if it’s a shame that it’s so exhausting.”

Oh man, I am smiling so big! This is incredible, Steve!!! Hard work is paying off! ????????????????????????”

This is such a great step! Or should I say steps! Thanks for sharing. You go!”

I am so impressed. I can’t imagine how much perseverance and hard work is behind all this. You are the MAN! And, way to go, Shelly!!” {this one from a cancer survivor with long term issues…it opened the flood gates}

Very good…..wear a path in that carpet!!!????”

Not gonna list them all. They know who they are…and that I love them.

I’m grateful and lucky.

Nobody is gonna see me walking unaided for awhile(other than Shelly and the folks at the therapy gym).

When we leave The Abbey, you’ll probably see me on a walker. Maybe a cane. And with best caregiver ever!!! (am I a lucky old coot or what?! OkCupid was very good to me!!)

Unaided walking will be inside the apartment or at PT…and there will be a gait belt when I’m at Cox.

Swing by here and you can see for yourself!!

I’d love to show off for you…give you a hug…and hear your voice.

Be. Just Be.


2022 Christmas Letter

It’s a JibJab, a short Christmas letter, and a couple of songs that I love.

First things first: https://www.jibjab.com/view/make/ugly-sweater-song-sye/53ba0beb-e739-4108-b822-f4f2b98647ba

It’s an interesting phenomenon: the older I get, the shorter the letter.

There was quite a bit of live music in ‘22…but not as much as I would’ve liked.
Saw some of my favorite artists multiple times. Saw some folks I’ve listened to for years, but had never seen before. Sweet.

There were road trips…but not as many as I would’ve liked. Most of them were music related, and the favorites were meeting up with friends who had also road-tripped to KC and Nashville.
Friends came from FL and GA once again in June for music at The Rock House. Awesome.

The other road trip favorites of ‘22 were the 200 miles over to visit Dad. I threw him a surprise birthday party at the DQ. It was special…as was everyone who attended.

At 96, he’s still hanging in there. He’s now the only one remaining from the Elvins class of ‘44.
I know how very lucky I am to still have him, as several friends lost their parents in 2022.
I lost several friends and acquaintances this year. Probably every one reading this did too. As Dad says: “the troops are thinning.”
Like most everyone I know, Shelly and came down with Covid. Fortunately our cases were mild.

I didn’t badger friends to donate to The Victim Center’s Wine Women & Shoes fundraiser in 2022.
I’m sure that made some people on the receiving end of this e-mail happy.
But I did try to make up for it by taking advantage of a QCD (Qualified Charitable Distribution) to that and several other worthy organizations.
If you’re an old person like me and required to take distributions from your IRA, you really should utilize QCDs. Reduce your taxes while doing good.

Lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise, on12/16 we head for Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 7th annual late December trip to the beach, and once again friends will be meeting us there. This year they’ll be coming from: Cumming, GA; Mulvane and Pittsburg, KS; and Reeds Spring, MO. Looking forward to 17 days of hugs, sunrises, sunsets, walks on the beach, naps, and more.

Now for the tunes: two songs from the album that I listened to more than any other in ‘22…“Liars” by John Fullbright. These two help me do a couple of the Jimmy Valvano Three: one makes me think and the other makes me laugh.
John Fullbright – Stars (Live @ 2018 Fayetteville Roots Festival)


I hope our paths cross or that I hear your voice in 2023.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Take care. Keep in touch. Enjoy every sandwich.

Steve (aka a Lucky Old Coot)
417-379-6817…call or text me sometime!!

2020 Christmas Letter

This is my first blog post of 2020!! I drafted a number of items, but never finished them…it has been that kind of year.

December 16, 2020

I’m writing this from Gulf Shores, AL. It’s our 5th late December trip…and only the second time I have been out of the state of Missouri during this shitshow of a year.

If I wanted to keep it really short, this annual letter would only require six words to describe 2020:
Masked up; Hunkered down; Stayed home.

I had high hopes for 2020 (and not just because of the symmetry): roadtrips planned and some booked, concert & festival tickets purchased, a 30th Year Tax Director Reunion in Sarasota…for starters.

Your hopes and plans were wiped out too.
2020 sucks for everyone, but at least we’re still breathing.
Add those last 2 words to the 6 above.

The first weekend of June was the highlight of the year. Shady Acres Motel. Joseph and his friend Karla. Tom and Gloria. Steve and Claudia.
2 nights of music in the canyon….Jeff Porter…The Nace Brothers.
That weekend would have been on the short list of highlights for ANY year.

Last year’s letter ended with a link to a song that matters and these words:
“Don’t let this happen to you: ‘All the words I never said falling from my eyes…’
Don’t miss your last chance.”

Soon after sending that, and being the spreadsheet guy that I have been since Visicalc, I created a file named “I wanta hear your voice in 2020.” I talked with 88% of the people on my list once, and most of them a couple of times or more. Others only heard my voice in a message.
Many of those conversations make the 2020 list of highlights too.
I missed the “last chance” once. That is one too many.

So now we all look forward to 2021, getting vaccinated, and getting back to some semblance of normalcy.
I hope to do a better job of living “The Jimmy Valvano Three” each and every day of 2021.
“To me there are three things everyone should do every day. Number one is laugh. Number two is think — spend some time time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think and cry, that’s a heck of a day.”

I hope you do too.
And I hope to hear your voice in 2021…and to give you a real hug. In 2020, this is the best I can do:


Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Take care. Keep in touch. Be.


Romance is a funny thing…

Why is there a bromance?

From my perspective, Joe Jackson’s lyrics nail the romance between the media and Lane Kiffin, offensive coordinator of the Alabama football team:
“Is she really going out with him?
Cause if my eyes don’t deceive me,
There’s something going wrong around here…”

I just don’t get it. It’s a love affair that I find baffling. There is something going wrong around here.

Another lyric from the song: “They say that looks don’t count for much…” In the case of Lanie, the facts (historical and current) and logic don’t seem to “count for much.”

Late in the 1/11/16 championship game versus previously unbeaten Clemson, with the end result pretty much determined, unless the Tigers pulled off a couple of miracles, we witnessed the two talking heads standing in the booth spewing nonsense about Lane Kiffin “redeeming himself with this win.” Say WHAT?

1. The key play in the championship game was the perfectly executed onside kick. (This play was NOT called by the offensive coordinator.)
2. The next play that Nick Saban, the head coach, credited with making the difference was the 95 yard kickoff return that put them up by 12 mid-way through the 4th quarter. (Nope…not called by Lanie either.)
3. A couple of long pass plays were probably called by Kiffin…but they only worked because of total defensive breakdowns. In all honesty, if an old codger like me had been as wide open as O.J. Howard I would’ve scored on those plays. Clemson’s defense was a mess on some critical plays.
4. The Heisman trophy winner had 3 Tds on 36 carries for 158 yards. My Dad, who never-ever watches football, would know enough after watching Derrick Henry for 2 plays to say “give the ball to that guy again….and again.” You don’t have to be much of an offensive football genius to know what to do when you have that offensive line and a running back like that guy.

I don’t watch all that much football anymore, but I have seen several Alabama games each of the last few seasons for a couple of reason. (1) Let’s just call them personal reasons…some people in my life who root against them, and some who root for them. (2) The Crimson Tide keeps competing for and winning conference and national championships.

I’ll admit it. I don’t know that much about football. But I do know what the facts say about Kiffin. His record as a head coach is less than stellar. And as an offensive coordinator, the facts don’t support him having all that big an impact on Alabama’s offense statistically.

All the announcers (not just the two from the championship game) have probably forgotten more than I ever knew, or ever will know about football. (Well, that’s not quite true…for some reason Brent Musburger is still getting paid to ramble on incoherently??)

But why are they so enamored with this guy…I’d really like to know. He’s the only offensive coordinator that announcers constantly drool over. Thank goodness Gary Danielson wasn’t called the game…he can’t get an Alabama series without saying Lanie’s name.

Before coming to Alabama, Lanie had been a failure as a head coach for the Oakland Raiders, the Tennessee Volunteers and the USC Trojans with records of 5-15, 7-6 and 28-15, respectively. (yep, winning only 63% of your games at USC will get you fired mid-season.)

In the 3 years before he came to Alabama the team was 36-4, winning 90% of their games and 2 national championships. The past two years, they are 26-3 (89.6%) with 1 championship.

Of the 126 teams in 2015, Alabama was 30th in points per game and 45th in total yards per game this season. In the 2 seasons before Kiffin arrived in Tuscaloosa, they were 17th and 12th in points; 31st and 33rd in total yards…sliding in both points and total yards since he arrived.

This media fascination with Kiffin is a puzzle. Last night, as in every Alabama game that I have watched, we hear his name and the camera is focused on him nearly as much as it is on Saban. But what about the offensive coordinator on the other teams who play them? I don’t think I heard the name of Clemson co-offensive coordinators even once last night. Lanie seems to have lots of buddies in the booth…but why?

That’s my rant. I’m hoping that Lane Kiffin is the next head coach for the Oregon Ducks. I’d love to see their points and yards per game drop like they have at Alabama as he works his magic.   😉

Here’s a good tune: