February 6, 2009


Category: News — Ira @ 6:30 pm


I try to take one day at a time, but sometimes
several days attack me at once.

—Jennifer Yane

I’ve been wound way too tight these last few weeks. Not that I’m a nervous guy. Not so you’d notice. But there was lots of tension. From various sources.

Writing last week’s post was enormously stressful. I fussed and fretted. Spent night after night at the computer. Working on what seemed about a hundred rewrites. Just the right word for this description, the right term for that. Friday finally rolled around, and it was time. So I breathed deep and hit the “Publish” link. It was done. Out there, for the world to read. And to excoriate or cheer, or shrug indifferently.

All I wanted then was to unwind for a few days. Relax. Rest. Rejuvenate.

But it couldn’t be that easy. Not that simple. Never is. Exactly ninety minutes after posting, I received the message that my uncle Abner Wagler (Dad’s older brother) had passed away. In Aylmer. I had always planned on attending his funeral. He was a fairly important character in my childhood world.

And that’s how it went. Publish the last Elmo Stoll blog, which included a few good solid whacks at Aylmer, and then attend a funeral there four days later. The stars were misaligned, I guess. Should have waited. To post, I mean. Death waits on no one. Including my uncle. Or the timing of my posts. Ah, well. I can’t unpost a blog, without flat-out deleting it. So I took comfort in Pontius Pilate’s succinct little creed. What is written is written. And left it at that.

My brother Steve and I attended the funeral, leaving Monday in Big Blue, then returning immediately after the service on Tuesday. Five hundred miles each way. Eighteen hours on the road. Eighteen hours in Aylmer. Into the bear’s den, and right out again. Lots of adventures. Mostly good. More funeral details next week.

Last week’s post was the longest ever. This week’s will be one of the shortest. Balance, and all. At least, that’s the official excuse. Truth is, what with the Super Bowl, then the funeral, I couldn’t even get started writing until Wednesday night. I usually start the next week’s post on Saturday or Sunday night.

And so, a bit of housekeeping. And some observations.

Last week my total hit count quietly passed the one hundred thousand mark. One hundred thousand hits. In 96 weeks. Not a lot, by some standards. But, compared to others, huge. During the first year, I averaged from 750 to 1000 hits per week. The numbers held steady, but didn’t increase much. Except for one or two particularly brooding posts, when they would spike up a bit.

I’ve always figured if I keep writing halfway decent stuff, the numbers will increase as the word gets out. That’s been my philosophy. New readers will come, as others drift away. A few links appeared. Then Amish America linked. Listed my site on his blog roll. The hits spiked up. And have held well since.

Guess I should send the Amish America guy a case of good wine or something.

Last week’s Elmo post got the record number of hits in one week. Around 2300. Everyone who knew someone who knew someone in the Communities must have spread the word. Through whatever communication pipelines those people maintain. And they emerged from the woodwork and came and read. Some of them probably won’t be back, although they are most welcome.

I think the Elmo posts were pretty well balanced. Not that I’m biased or anything. A bit harsh in spots, but honest overall. I received one virulent private email from a guy who detested the spirit of my writings. Whatever that means. Also a lackadaisical observation from Ohio that I wasn’t nearly hard enough on Elmo. From that, I figured I’d probably done OK. When you get lambasted from both extremes, you know you’ve hit the center.

A belated update on Anne Marie. She has been doing quite well. I haven’t mentioned anything about her condition lately. Her parents, who had come for the brain tumor operation back in December, left about two weeks ago for their home in British Columbia, Canada. Fine, good people. I’ve gotten close to them.

Anne Marie has been on a stringent natural diet since the operation. Currently she is taking absolutely no pharmaceutical drugs. She looks great and has tremendous energy.

About two weeks ago, with Ellen’s help, she finally got that appointment at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. There, they met with a cancer specialist. He reviewed her files and will receive copies of her next MRI scan. He was astounded at how good she looked, considering she was taking no drugs of any kind. He told her to keep on doing whatever she was doing.

After he and a team of doctors review her next scan, they will design a treatment program for her that may include some radiation. At this point, that’s still an unknown. Paul and Anne Marie were greatly encouraged by their trip and the doctor’s analysis.

The incessant winter drags on. It’s only early February, and I’m sick to death of all the cold and snow. Seems like every other day we get more snow. Deep freeze every-where. It sure has slowed things at work. Not much going on. At least I hope it’s the cold weather and not the economy alone.

For the first time in its history, Graber Supply laid off a few workers this week. Great guys. My friends. It’s tough to absorb. For those laid off and for those who remain. Certainly increased the week’s stressors. Dramatically.

And now, the Super Bowl. Wow, is all I can say. It was a fantastic game with a hair- raising finish. Only one huge problem. The wrong team won.

My usual guests, my brother Steve and Paul Zook, arrived and watched the game with me. This year, Paul’s nine-year-old son Cody, entered the hallowed halls of football manhood and came along to watch with his Dad. He picked the Steelers to win.

They almost didn’t. Heavily favored, they let the game slip away until Big Ben rode to the rescue. The refs did a decent job, the only really atrocious call was a personal foul against the Cards for hitting Big Ben late. They didn’t. The refs threw a few “makeup” flags against the Steelers later to even things out a bit.

I was irritated at the announcers. The whole game it was the Steelers this, the Steelers that. As if the Cards didn’t have a chance. They quieted a little after the Cards took the lead with less than three minutes to play.

Big Ben will enter football lore as the guy who can. Who, even though his stats weren’t that great, marched his team down the field when the chips were down. And got it done. That final touchdown was a beautiful thing, even though I almost suffered a stroke when it happened. When not on the field, Big Ben stood grimly on the side lines, focused, unsmiling. Unlike another quarterback who always seems to smile, whether winning or losing. That would be McNabb. And there’s the difference. Smile and lose. Look grim, stay focused, and win.

Of course, I was cheering and rooting wildly for the underdog Cardinals and Kurt Warner. They came to play. And they almost pulled it off, with those two forth quarter touchdowns to Fitzgerald. But after they took their first lead of the game, I had that awful sinking feeling that it wasn’t going to be enough. And it wasn’t. A fine classy group of guys, who gained a lot of respect, even though they suffered that heart-breaking last minute loss.

The interception just before the half, with that 100 yard rumble for a touchdown, is really what did the Cards in. Had it just been an interception, they could have absorbed it. But not a touchdown the other way. A fourteen point swing, just like that. Longest run in Super Bowl history, pulled off by a lumbering linebacker. Incredible.

I was so tense by the game’s end that I could hardly get to sleep. And I didn’t even have any stakes in the game, really. Other than I’d picked the Cards to win by three in our office pool.

Ah well. Another Super Bowl, another year. Come on, preseason. August seems so far away.

This week, I plan to unwind a bit. And write about uncle Abner’s funeral.



  1. Sad to hear about the folks getting laid off. It’s happening everywhere, even here in the boondocks. I hope and believe the economy will boom back, and I really don’t care who gets the credit.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — February 6, 2009 @ 8:59 pm

  2. I got hooked by Amish America… might want to do that…

    Comment by Ann — February 7, 2009 @ 3:27 am

  3. I will settle for one glass full, for the people I guided to your site. Keep writing.

    Comment by Bear — February 7, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  4. Ira

    I think it’s time you charge $10 per year for people to read your posts. I’d pay that. Perhaps they could see the first paragraph free.

    In all seriousness, you have demonstrated good writing and people like it.

    So start charging.

    Paul Yutzy

    Comment by Paul Yutzy — February 7, 2009 @ 11:03 am

  5. Perhaps selling advertizing would be a better revenue generator.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — February 7, 2009 @ 12:09 pm

  6. Perhaps writing twice a week wouldn’t be so stressful (kidding). Perhaps I would advertise. Bear, you just want a free one glass.

    Comment by Elam — February 7, 2009 @ 4:08 pm

  7. Sounds to me like business world folks trying to earn extra $. But I started thinking if Ira was getting paid by the hour to write, we maybe couldn’t afford to read it. But my guess is the time will come when he will be paid. When the right people get their hands on it. Meantime, thanks for great reading. I’m proud of the readership you have and your good writing.

    Comment by Rachel — February 12, 2009 @ 6:25 pm

  8. I look forward to your next post, your perspective of Abner Wagler’s funeral and whatever else there is to write about.

    Comment by Katie Troyer — February 12, 2009 @ 9:00 pm

  9. I can’t believe I missed these posts. Still grumbling about the winter and cold. I still think it’s so beautiful and it helps a lot when your husband has a jeep. Chargers are pathetic in the snow, even with brand spankin’ new tires.
    Look at the bright side; at least you’re not feverish, coughing, and dripping. Like me! Yeah well, a good excuse to do nothing but read.
    Glad I found some more treasures in the archives. Thank you!
    One of the comments suggested you charge $10 a year to read your blog. I think it was Reuben. I would absolutely pay that. Since you have been kind enough to not pollute your crimson pages with advertising I would pay. You betcha!

    Comment by Francine — February 18, 2014 @ 12:51 am

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