A Quote to Start Things Off

Somebody told me there was no such thing as truth. I said if that's the case then why should I believe you" -Lecrae - Gravity

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Pictures of Memories I
Snow kidding! These "kids" now range from 17 to 23

2024 A to Z Challenge

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Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Taking A Mental Health Day

 I went to Greece last month and it was an amazing trip.  It was a time to celebrate 25 years of marriage to my best friend,  I had an idea of posting about each day exactly a month later on my blog and then posting it on on mine and my wife's FB page.  Now, to be perfectly blunt, very few people consistently read my blog and none of my FB friends are putting any pressure on me at all to post everyday.  Yet I put pressure on myself to do it.  So when I didn't post yesterday and got one day behind on this self imposed deadline and decided I would do two days today, and as of 9:30 p.m. had not done either I began to freak out.  Why? I really want to post about every day, but who cares whether it's exactly a month behind?  Why do we put so much pressure on ourselves for no real reasons?

I think everybody goes off kilter sometimes.  Not exactly like me, but I don't always go off kilter for the same reasons.  But it is important that when I do go off kilter, I bring myself back.  When this happens, I ask God for help.  I ask my family for help and I make changes.  Sometimes it just means letting myself off the hook for something.  Sometimes it means not believing lies.  Sometimes it means changing my plans.

So, as far as my memories of the trip go, I hope to recount each day  on the blog and then on Facebook.  But I do that because I love writing and I loved the trip and for no other reason.  It's not going to have to be each day 1 month later like some self imposed a to z challenge. And If I never finish it, so what?  It was a good trip and Amy and I both know it.

There are enough pressure on us as a society, that we need to stop putting additional burdens on ourselves and our friends and family.

I'll be back tomorrow, or so, to tell you about losing my phone on the Island of Sifnos on June 11th and the other more interesting things that happened that day.  I kicked myself a lot for losing my phone, but that was not an important thing that happened that day. I kicked myself a lot for not posting yesterday, but that was not an important part of yesterday.  Today, I worked for 8 hours at the movie theatre and when I got home there was a tornado waning after dinner.  After our family got back from the basement, my time was better spent decompressing with the family than holing myself up with the computer just to meet some imaginary time requirements.  I just sometimes have to remind that to my foot when it wants to kick myself.  

Monday, July 10, 2023

OTTG 1ML Day 5

 Our Trip To Greece

One Month Later

Day #5


Our first full day in Sifnos.  We heard about Sifnos through a Greek travel agent Amy found on line.  I had bought Amy a guide book for the Greek Islands at Christmas time and Sifnos was not even mentioned.  This travel agent told us it's the island where the Greeks like to travel to on their holidays.  We found it instantly captivating.

Our hotel was on the bus route and also just a short walk from the port of Kamares.  Our hosts were amazing.  

We had breakfast on our patio every morning.

Where we would often see one of the 3 tortoises on the property.

We took a bus from our town of Kamares to Apollinia.  We then hiked back to Kamares from Apollinia.  These trail markers were invaluable.  

Here is footage of our hike

and a few pictures ...

Sunday, July 9, 2023

OTTG 1ML: Day 4

Our Trip To Greece
1 Month Later

Day #4 6/9/23 Amy here. Our fourth day in Greece was more of a mess than the previous few days. Before the trip had started we had heard how you could run around the Olympic stadium, in the mornings before they started charging admission to see it. We had planned to do this, just to say we had done it. So when we got into the cab, and were chatting away with the cab driver, we were wondering why the ride was taking so long. It turns out there are two Olympic stadiums in Athens; the one we wanted to go to which was built in 330 B.C. and then excavated in the 19th century for the first two modern Olympics and the stadium that hosted the 2004 Olympics. We realized that she was taking us to the stadium that hosted the 2004 Olympics, rather than the one from the 1800’s. When we finally arrived there, and it was crawling with people we didn’t end up running. 

 Here is what we missed ...


 It was disappointing. But then we decided to walk around Athens for a few more hours until we had to catch the ferry to Sifnos. We got some tea and then decided to find a local library. We LOVE libraries (it’s part of the reason we saw the ruins of Hadrian’s library), and have visited many many libraries in our 25 years of marriage. This library, however, was open only by appointment, and the doors were locked. We were denied entry. While we were searching for the library as we walked around we came upon what looked like a protest. It turned out to be a college graduation

 After we could not get into the library we walked around some more and went to a Greek street food place we had learned about on the internet before the trip called O Kostas .

 It was amazing, and well worth all the misadventures up to that point. 

 We then walked back to our hotel, to retrieve our luggage before getting a cab to the ferry. I get seasick and wore these wristbands which apply pressure and they worked like a charm! No ill effects from the three hour ferry ride. We arrived in Sifnos and I immediately fell in love with Greece!

Saturday, July 8, 2023

Our Trip To Greece,One Month Later: Day 3

Day 3: June 8, 2023 

Day 3 of our trip is the first day that started and ended  in Greece, and Oh what a day it was.  

Before I get into the details, let me say this.  When you plan a trip of this magnitude, you don't end up getting to do everything you planned.  One example of this is that we both wanted to take a side trip to Corinth.  Corinth is about an hour by bus from Athens and is a city where the Apostle Paul penned at least two letters to the local church.  I say at least 2, because 2 of them became books of the Bible.  In the end there was so much to do in Athens while still heavily jet lagged that we didn't make it to Corinth.  

All of our accommodations provide breakfast for us.  The place in Athens was your standard breakfast buffet with a Greek twist.  We ate breakfast and ventured out into the city. The first thing we did was get a sim card for Amy's phone that allowed us to navigate Greece better. The only form of transportation we used that day was walking, and clocked over 22000 steps. 

We exchanged money at an ATM and found like we had been told that exchanging at an ATM was better than exchanging at banks or currency exchanges.  There were many shops, restaurants,  open markets, and street vendors and it was quite a sight to behold.  We did a little shopping and then went to Hadrian's Library. It was created by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in A.D. 132 so accolades to him for his construction are long overdue.  I know, a library joke.  It was either that or go Yo! Hadrian!

We purchase a multi-site pass at Hadrian's Library.  This also granted us admission to The Parthenon, and the Ancient Agora.  We had been told that if you but a multi-site pass to do it at a location other than the Parthenon to avoid the long lines there and we were very glad we did.  

After Hadrian's library we had our first meal at a restaurant in Greece.  I think this was the only time we ate inside other than at our hotel.  We tried many new foods while in Greece and Amy really loved all the Greek salads.  

After lunch we walked up the acropolis and we climbed up the Areopagus Hill also know as Mars Hill, I just posted a little about the significance of Mar's Hill on Thursday here is the link.  

Temple of Athena


Hadrians Library


Mars Hill

View of Patrhenon from Mars Hill

Seeing these ancient structures and walking where they walked (the old people) was a bit overwhelming, and the significance was not lost on us. It was a reminder of God's greatness!

Friday, July 7, 2023

Our Trip To Greece, One Month Later: Day 2

 Day 2: June 7th 2023

June 7th the 2nd day of our Greece trip began for me on a plane in the middle of a flight from Toronto, Ontario, Canada to Athens, Greece.  There is a 8 hour time change between Chicago and Greece and a 7 hour time change between Toronto and Greece and you fly through all the time zones in between as you make your way to Athens.  So, I am not exactly sure where I was when the 7th became the 8th but it happened sometime on the 9 1/2 hour flight.  So when we left Toronto on June 6th at 6:10 p.m, It was already 1:10 am on June 7th in Greece.  When we landed in Greece it was nearing 11:00 in the morning there while just 3 a.m in Chicago where we had been the day before.

The flight was a night flight and the plane was crowded and after an hour or two of sitting I would be in a lot of pain.  The pain would be relieved when I got up to go to the bathroom or stretch my legs, but since the plane was dark for the majority of the flight, I was in the window seat and had to get Amy and someone else to move every time I got up.

In the morning I opened up the blind to my window and was treated  to some fantastic views, here are some  pictures I took of them:

When I saw this view, I knew we were on the right trip.  Amy love mountains and the sea and in the U.S. midwest we don't get a lot of either of them.  


As we were getting closer and closer to Athens I saw more boats and ferries knowing that in a few days we would be travelling on one. 

We landed, got our passports stamped, grabbed our luggage and made our way towards the Athens Metro.  In a bit of trip symmetry, we got to the Chicago airport by commuter train and left the Athens airport by the same mode of transportation.  In Chicago we only were on the train for 1 stop.  In Greece, we were on a very crowded train for over an hour.  We were exhausted, but also invigorated as we talked with some folks from the Netherlands who had also just got into the country.  The main  differences between us was that their flight was only about 2 hours and they didn't have to exchange money as the Euro is the currency in both countries.  

We had been told by our cell phone carrier before we left that we would be able to use our phones in Greece without having to buy a sim card to use there.  This was not the case, and as a result once we got to our stop we could not use the phone's g.p.s to get us to the hotel.  A lovely man at a bar we passed recognized the name of our hotel and told us exactly how to get there.  There would be MANY such occasions in days to come where the warm Greek people would happily help us find our destinations.

As we made our way to our hotel trudging all our bags we began to realize that especially in Athens everyone moves with reckless abandon.  The cars, the busses, the motorcyclists, the bicyclists, even the pedestrians.  There are crossing lights but people kind of go where and when they want to.  We got to the hotel, got all our stuff in our room and then we took a short walk around our hotel.

Amy here...we were so sleepy, but wanted to fight the jet lag and quickly adjust our bodies to Greek time. We discovered the rooftop restaurant of our hotel was situated across from the below stunning view of the Acropolis (hill) and Parthenon (remnants of a temple on top of said hill.)  We were agog and awed and enjoyed some delicious food (mushroom risotto and some type of fish) before falling into a deep sleep which would last around 12 hours. 

The View from our Hotel's rooftop restaurant.


Thursday, July 6, 2023

Spiritual Thursday, Poetry Friday, Rejoicing in the Summer Season

 Carol Varsalona of Beyond Literacy Link is hosting this months Spiritual Journey Thursday.  I hosted last month and then went to Greece just a few days after that.  

Carol's Theme this month is rejoicing in the Summer season.  I technically was in Greece this spring as the official first day of Summer was June 21st this year and I left Greece on the 20th.  However I am going to use some of my experiences from the trip in this reflection as the trip took place on my "summer" vacation.  

Carol asked us to reflect on this Elanor Duse Quote:

"If the sight of the blue skies fills you with joy, if a blade of grass springing up in the field has power to move you, if the simple things in nature have a message you understand, rejoice, for your soul is alive"

As I reflected on the quote, I was reminded of the opening verse of Psalm 19 ...

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Psalm 19:1

I got to thinking why we  don't always stop to smell the significance of God's creation.  It reminded me of my flight to Athens.  I had a window seat and it was a beautiful day out.  There was lovely view after lovely view as we approached our destination. Most of the passengers were not looking out the window.  Some were sleeping, others were reading.  The majority were on their electronic devices are watching the screen in front of their seat.  

The View Out My Window

God's glory in nature

Is always displayed

To see it, it helps 

When I roll up the shade.

My second thought about creation also has to do with my trip to Greece.  The above picture was taken on my first day in Greece at a place called the Areopagus or Mars Hill.  The Apostle Paul visited Mars Hill and even gave a sermon there.  You can read about in Acts 17: 16 -34.  Essentially Paul is in Athens disturbed by all the idol worship in the city, he is reasoning in the synagogue and gets an opportunity at Mars Hill to explain the new teaching he was proclaiming.  Paul uses the opportunity to talk about some of the things he has seen in Athens and to compliment the Athenians on some of their practices.  He also talks about a statue he had seen that was to an "unknown" God and uses that as an opportunity to proclaim the God of creation and share the story of Jesus.

There is a tendency to celebrate nature in a natural way and not as the creation of a creator.  Instead of talking about God many just deify nature itself referring to it as Mother Nature or Mother Earth but rejecting the biblical idea of a personal God who created it all. Instead of taking an antagonistic or combative approach to these differing world views, I think an approach like Paul used on Mars Hill is more suitable.  People who find inner peace, and contentment, and wonder from nature should be commended even if they do not believe in the God who created that beauty.  Like Paul believers should use that common bond, a spiritual regard, for nature as a starting point to talk about the God that the heavens declare the glory of.

Spiritual Journey Thursday is a gathering that takes place on the first Thursday of the month,  Click here to see the rest of the July installment.  I left for Greece on June 6th and returned on June 21st.  Today I started daily posts about my trip exactly one month after the trip began. Please join me for those reflections.  

I am also including this post at Poetry Friday for the brief poem inspired by this weeks theme and the picture I took from the airplane.  Marcie Atkins is hosting this weeks Poetry Friday.  Join in, by clicking here.

Our Trip to Greece: Day by Day 1 month later

 Exactly 1 month ago my wife and I embarked on a trip to Greece to celebrate 25 years of being married.  Starting today we’d like to turn back the clock and give you day by day details of our trip a month after they occurred.

Day 1

6/1/23 Elgin Illinois

We wake up in our house and the big day we’ve been planning for for years is finally upon us.. We do a final check to make sure we have not forgotten anything and pack our luggage into our car. If you don’t count walking, escalators, elevators or the people movers at the airport we are going on 4  different modes of transportation today. First, we drive to our local bus station and I drop off Amy and our luggage. I then drive home, do a final final check for forgotten items and walk the 1/2 mile back to the bus station.  We board the bus and our trip begins in earnest with us shepherding our 1 each checked bag, carry on item and personal item on the way to the penultimate stop of the O’Hare bound Chicago Blue line train. 

We know this stop very well as when you take it towards Chicago it connects to the red line train, which has taken us to tens of White Sox games and several Cubs games over the years we have called the Northwest suburbs our home. I have since been there this past 4th of July to attend a White Sox game with my daughter. When we got to the station we were thinking back to the day before Mother’s Day a few weeks prior when while on our way to watch the White Sox take on former home town favorite Jose Aubrey and the Houston Astros we saw a man having a drug overdose and had to call 911 to get him assistance. No such drama ensued this time as we hopped on the Ohare bound train and got out at the airport.  

We had built a little what my Dad always called margin into our schedule so we had plenty of time for me to exchange a small amount of dollars to euros before turning in our luggage. This was by far the worst exchange rate I received.  It is always a good idea to have some of the local currency at all times of your stay as you can’t always use credit or debit cards.  It’s just best to only use airport exchanges when absolutely necessary. It’s ta captive audience thing, the equivalent of buying snacks at a movie theatre.  I work at a movie theatre, so I know of what I speak.

At this time of the morning foot traffic at “The World’s Busiest Airport” was fairly light, so we eased right through baggage to Security.  We had talked about paying the extra hundred dollars for a third piece of checked baggage but the previous night had discovered that that bag was light enough and small enough to be considered  as carry on baggage. So we ended checking only 2 bags. What we forgot to assess was whether the items in that bag were compliment to airline regulations.  The shampoo bottles were biggger than allowed so I had to go back to the front and check that bag as well. Something always seems to go askew when you travel, and since we had been planning to pay to transport that piece until the day before the trip it seemed like the small hiccup it was.

I just looked at the time, I have to go the aforementioned movie theatre and inflict 8 dollar popcorn on people. I’m going to have Amy take you to Toronto and beyond, but make sure she mentions the maple leaf cookies.

This is Amy… we landed in Toronto and bought maple leaf cookies because Dave loves them. We hung out for a couple of hours and then boarded the next airplane and flew to Athens. The flight was 9.5 hours and while being a bit squished, we were thrilled to be full-filling a years long dream of visiting Greece. We saved up for 6 years and now it was coming true! 

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Sunday, July 2, 2023

June Stats

 June was a big month for me.  My wife and I went on a trip to Greece.  We left the Chicago area on June 6th and did  not return until June 21st.  It certainly was a trip of a lifetime and an amazing wat to celebrate 25 years of marriage to my best friend.  

It was not a big month in regards to blog output.  I put out 2 posts prior to our trip and exactly 2 more after we got home.  Last June I posted 19 times before posting only 16 times for the rest of the year.  I finished 2022 with 102 posts on the strength of my April A to Z posts.  If I only achieve 16 posts again in the 2nd part of 2023, I will finish with 2 posts  less than 100 for the year.  When May ended I was on track for 178 posts, with only 4 last month my projection is down to 164 by New Years Eve 2023. The problem is,  if I match my  16 posts  from the 2nd half of 2022 this year I won't get near 164 and not even break 100 by years end.  

No need for doom and or gloom.  I am a man with a plan.  Starting on July 6th, I plan to chronicle my trip to Greece with a daily recap a month late.  I did the same thing years ago when our family went to Washington D.C. If I am successful, I'll finish July right around 100 posts and be back in a posting groove.  

By brunobarbato, CC BY 3.0, Linkity: Prodromos 

Island: Paros

Country: Greece

I was in this city on a hike, but don't remember seeing this.  More coming soon.  

A to Z 2023 Road Trip

#AtoZChallenge 2023 RoadTrip