Don's blog

Real Life Situations

The movie “Hidden Figures”

Tears of joy and wonder ran down viewer’s faces as Katherine Johnson played by Taraji P. Henson and her two women friends employed in 1961 by NASA in Hampton VA, broke barriers for being colored women applying their mathematical calculations to guide John Glenn’s Mercury Friendship 7 aeronautical space capsule four times around planet earth and safely parachuting it back to earth, outlasting Russia’s Cosmonaut, Yuri Gagaran, who circled only once.

Dramatically and engagingly written and portrayed, this non-fiction real life story convincingly portrays the gifted three women who strenuously exerted their intelligence and wholesome family and human relationships under excruciating bias circumstances to make an incredible difference in helping America accomplish it’s first great space endeavor.

Viewing, “Hidden Figures” during this time of American’s political unrest, moved Muff and me as well as many of our friends to do our best to collaborate with friends to encourage US citizens to move upward and forward. Kevin Costner, who played the part of Mr. Harrison, who directed the capsule’s flight plan asked Kathrine Johnson after John Glenn’s space capsule had miraculously landed, “Can we make it to the moon?” She responded by saying these three last words of the film, “We’re already there!” By helping one another maybe even because of biases, “We’re already there,” too!

This film helped Muff and me understand, accept, support and appreciate ourselves, one another, others and even strangers in spite of, and maybe, even because of ours and others biases. And don’t think that those, who don’t believe they have biases, don’t. We all do. Sometimes our biases are hidden so well that we don’t even know we have them. Katherine Johnson and her two women cohorts inexpressibly and wonderfully inspire US and world viewers of “Hidden Figures” to become brave and effective activists for the betterment of all human kind and the world we live in today. It’s an astounding film.

Your Kind Words and Thoughts for Debbie Are Appreciated

Debbie can’t talk, but she can sit, walk and with help feed herself. She makes a froggy sound when she is contented and hits her head when she is discontented. No one knows how she learned to do it, but she began amusing her herself and accomplishing something extraordinary when she became a teenager by bouncing a ball for hours at a time with her middle right hand finger. This is still an exceptional feat for a 54 year old severely mentally challenged girl born with an 8 month IQ. When she does this, she is apparently just being herself doing the one God gifted thing she can do. Incidentally, she doesn’t like too many people bothering her, but gladly welcomes some of her 24 X 7 care givers and seems to appreciate their love and attention where she is a resident at the Holly Center in Salisbury, MD.

After helping others with all sorts of problems, I was finally able after the first long seven years of Debbie’s life in which I never went into the house without changing her diapers, to coincidentally receive help through the counseling of vital friends during a Marriage Communications Laboratory in which my wife and I were being trained to help other married couples, to stop denying and deal with my own grief over losing my dreams for our very special mentally challenged daughter, Debbie. 

My wife, our family and I are were all so grateful for the 24X 7 care and love she then began receiving at The Rosewood Center in Owens Mills, MD and now The Holly Center, Salisbury, MD that we take turns visiting her to show the medical, psychological, social, educational and everyday care takers that we genuinely appreciate her care and treatment. The President of the United States of America could not be treated any better than Debbie is treated. 

Hope you don’t mind my writing to tell you all of this, but she is so precious to me and the rest of our family because she actually changed my life 47 years ago when I was finally able to share my grief. I think I still need to occasionally tell my story, and consequently my Don’s Bloggers are the “lucky ones” today. 

Debbie recently, had a cataract procedure to help her  see better. She has so little in life, we are hoping and praying that this procedure will be successful. With God’s help everyone is doing his and her best to help Debbie and I might add us, too! 

So thanks much for your love and your prayers. 

Ethically Challenged?

While changing my clothes at the YMCA to work out early in morning, I overheard two men in the dressing room discussing the partially blocked off parking lot out front. They finally concluded that they had talked with  employees and patrons that morning and no one seemed to know the reason why it was blocked off.

Their discussion apparently triggered the memory of one of the men, who began to tell a story of a friend who had developed a terrible distain for signs, strips or barricades. His reaction was so upsetting to him that he made a decision to not let it bother him. But what his friend really meant when he made that decision was not to let it bother him, but not to pay any attention to them which became very obvious one day when he was riding in the car with his friend who nonchalantly parked his car in a clearly designated handicapped parking space and energetically  jumped out of his car.

A nearby elderly lady saw him do this and shouted at him for being inconsiderate of handicapped drivers, who would need the parking space. “You ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she cried out! The man who was telling this story said that he shouted back at the elderly lady that his friend couldn’t help it because he was ethically challenged. Apologetically, the elderly lady then called back that she did not know, was sorry and hoped that his driving friend would forgive her.

I still think about the men changing clothes with me at the YMCA that morning, who gave me a laughing introduction to the term, “ethically challenged”.  I’ve thought about their joke many times, but never without wondering about the many times every day that I and probably many others have acted “ethically challenged.”

Incidentally, after I worked out, showered, dressed and walked past the portion of the parking lot closed off with wide yellow strips and orange safely cones, I noticed that workers were repairing the blacktop in that portion of the parking lot. I concluded, it was probably a good idea that I had obeyed the rules even when I hadn’t been previously able to  understand them.

Completely Uninformed of Lyme Disease

She and her husband did not know Chester County Pennsylvania is targeted as one of the major deer tick infested areas in the United States. They did not know that deer ticks, the size of a poppy seed, are difficult to see or feel. They did not know that a deer tick bite is not always followed by a skin rash or bulls-eye target. They did not know Lyme disease is hard to diagnose because its symptoms mimic other human ailments and tests are not always conclusive. They did not know that untreated infection caused by a deer tick bite can wreak irreparable havoc on the human body and mind.

For over one month she struggled with devastating ailments and eventually excruciating muscle pain, before she was finally treated for the following symptoms of Lyme disease:

  • She was fatigued
  • She had red eyes – thought it was caused by prescribed eye drops
  • She lost her appetite, lost weight and did not like or want anything to eat
  • She was sleep deprived – napped repeatedly but it did help
  • She had painful swollen wrists and fingers – could not wear her rings and bracelets – thought it was arthritis
  • She had excruciating pain in the back of her neck muscles and each side of her back muscles which migrated randomly to other muscles – her pain was so severe that she could not move or bear her muscles touched

Normally, a very busy, healthy, appreciated and loved lady, who had been declared cancer free after five years from her breast procedure and treatment, who served many volunteer endeavors as well as looked after herself, her husband, grown children, grand children and many friends, and as a non-complaining retired nurse, kept thinking with medications and rest she’d feel better. When the painful muscles symptom occurred, her husband and a friend had to pick her up and carry her to use the bathroom, and because she was in such agony she could not decide what to do next, they took her to the Emergency Room of the Christiana Care Hospital. She was treated in the Emergency Room for 24 hours and then five more days in a hospital room. Six different doctors individually asked her if she had been in the woods, bitten by a tick or had a telltale rash or bulls-eye  on her skin. She answered no. Pain medications which she desperately needed and appreciated were provided,  but they were unable to diagnose or treat her for an infection indicated by her blood tests. She was told what she did not have, but not what she did have while the excruciating muscle pain and other symptoms mercilessly persisted. The doctors and nurses tried to help her, but to no avail.

In desperation, her husband called their daughter, a knowledgeable Registered Nurse with credible hospital, home health care, hospice and caseworker with a medical insurance company experience. When asked what her mother’s symptoms were, he told her, and she said, “Dad, Mom has Lyme disease”. He quickly relayed this information to her hospitalist physician, who ordered a Western Blog for Lyme disease, but which is often the case, her’s did not test positively. Her husband then phoned her primary physician, told him the symptoms, and he agreed to meet her at the skilled nursing unit where they live at Jenner’s Pond PA. He came on a Sunday morning, noted that her face showed she was going through terrible pain, reviewed her symptoms, examined her and prescribed doxycycline, the antibiotic used to treat the infection caused by Lyme disease. Since that day although she has not gotten completely better yet, she continues to improve. Her quick wit and smile, as you can see in the attached picture which was taken before this ordeal, is beginning to return.

She may still have to deal with some long-term effects of the Lyme infection, we’re not sure, but if needed there are other antibiotics which can be used to complement doxycycline. Her primary doctor will be following her progress until she’s safely over Lyme. Patients sometimes even have to take low dosages of antibiotics for the rest of their life when the Lyme infection keeps recurring in what appears as a facial stroke or loss of mental abilities. We’re hoping and praying for her complete recovery without any debilitating or lasting effects.

Her Lyme symptoms were made public in this post because, without wearing long lasting protection spray, a deer tick may bite anyone, anytime almost anywhere out-of-doors in Chester County Pennsylvania or in the surrounding geographic areas of Delaware or the Eastern Shore of Maryland. And even though this information is limited to only one deer tick harmed lady and each deer tick bitten person is uniquely affected and will have different symptoms, it may help other unsuspecting deer tick bitten persons to understand the need to be alert, look for Lyme disease symptoms and find a medical doctor, who will knowledgeably, willingly, quickly, and courageously provide a timely Lyme disease treatment.

A Christmas Wonder

Not a car or person stirring in The Y or the huge shopping center parking lots near us this Christmas morning.  Only three individuals walking their dogs, and no cars moving on the streets running through the Jenner’s Pond Continuing Care Community in which we live. Everything and every household at least on the outside was unbelievably quiet where we live. Stopped my car and started walking to safely contemplate even more quietly alone on the banks of a creek in the woods in back of where we live.

Along the way, I paused to enjoy a look at a picturesque pond where I saw less than twelve feet away from where I was standing, silhouetted by brush on the edge of the pond – the most picture perfect scene of a Gray Heron I had ever been privileged to see, frozen in place to not give itself away. Slowly, but evidently not slow enough, I reached into my pocket to get out my smart phone to take a picture, but it detected my move and quickly flew to the safety of the other side of the pond and slowly landed to stand in the water. The picture in this post is obviously not the one I missed.

Mesmerized, I quietly sat down on a nearby bench and contemplated the wonder of the heron which had statuesquely retained it’s delicate, graceful upright pose. Perhaps it conveyed a message to me to keep the many ungainly parts of my own person in perspective by timely observing all that’s around me and when all else failed, fly safely from who or whatever might hurt or harm me. I thanked the heron for it’s undeniably wonderful sponsor free message by which I had been connected to nature on this Christmas morning. I hoped and prayed that the heron might remain safe and unharmed, so that we humans who are supposedly tending the earth for it and all other creatures, might continue to learn from it and all other forms which watch out for and help us. We’re all connected.

This was a God gift which I received on a wonderful 2015 Christmas morning.  Couldn’t help sharing it.

Incidentally, in case you are wondering, this was the first Christmas morning my wife,  Muff and I spent with just the two of us alone together for the 58 years of our marriage. After I observed the Gray Heron, I spent a delightful time with her  in our apartment, looking at pictures and  remembering our Christmas mornings together with our parents, children, grandchildren and their significant others. Tomorrow, after many afternoon happy phone calls with are family, we all gather together at one of their homes for our Family Christmas celebration.

Give Credit Where Credit Is Due

This morning I read for the second time an article clipped from the Wall Street Journal and given to me by a friend, who serves on our Jenner’s Pond library book selection committee. She wrote on a note attached to a book review, “thought of you when I read this.” It was a review titled, Where Earth and Water Parted authored by Gerald Helderich in reference to Aaron Hirsh’s new book, Telling Our Way To The Sea.

Describing Hirsh’s pictorial writing of his personal explorations of the Sea of Cortez and information from John Steinbeck Sea of Cortez adventures, Helderich makes a perfect pitch for persons to read Telling Our Way To The Sea.

I was grateful for my Jenner’s Pond friend cutting out and giving me this book review not only because I have taken people sailing on The Sea of Cortez but also because it reminded me of an important author’s practice of making reference to those who have gone before us in creative ways.

In this review the author makes use of Hirsh’s reference to Steinbeck before him. It helps me as an author to remember and practice this in creative ways not only because Hirsh does this in his book but because memorable practitioners including John F. Kennedy, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Abraham and Jesus, the Christ, have done so. However, so far as we know, Jesus did not write it down, just filed it in his memory, and pulled it out and used it when ever necessary by mentioning the laws and prophecies before him, whenever and wherever he could use it helped give credence and persuasion to his presentation. He noted that he was then not only able to fulfill the law and the prophets but expand and enlarge interest and engage the people with whom he was talking in their own vernacular. Our memorable great presidents did the same thing. John Kennedy reminded the American people to not ask what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country, a saying that originated many years before in ancient Greece.

It’s a practice, my friend reminded me of by reading the article second time which she gave to me with her note. She helped me to practice my own deliveries in talking as a pastor and writing as an author by including the gifts of those who have ventured before me in their exploration, understanding and projection of the subjects I wish to talk and write about. Thanks to my friend, Mary Jane Hofmann.

Another way of looking at this wrinkle which needs to be ironed out whenever talking or writing is what Robert Schuller has said in reference to speaking and writing, give credit to those from whom you received the information or idea. Claiming credit for something we’ve said or written without giving credit to those from whom we received it, is termed plagiarism. The truth of the matter is that most of us have few if any completely new ideas or understanding. We simply continue to learn from others mistakes and successes as well as our own and we build on them. It behoves us and whatever or whoever we’re talking or writing about to give credit where credit is due.

Frankly, I am humbled to learn that my thoughts and feelings have been thought and felt long before I ever experienced them. Fortunately, I can then enjoy expressing what they said or have written in new significant and hopefully life changing and interesting ways.

Once again thanks for your note, Mary Jane

A Native Eastern Shore of Maryland Author

His gripping  LIVING IN HARMONY: an Eastern Shore village redeems discord stories are all true, and happened in Harmony where he grew up.

The author, is a Western Kentucky University and Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C. graduate. After six more years of Princeton’s Laboratory Training Network and Schuller’s Church Growth training at Garden Grove, CA, he specialized in counseling and church growth during the 45 years he pastored United Methodist Churches in Delaware and on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He also guided foreign tours and took people sailing over the world for recreation and to provide expansive  experiences while pastoring before he began writing about his home village of Harmony which strives to live up to the meaning of its name.

Filled with heart-warming childhood, family, friends, Native Indian, pastoral and sailing stories, he avoids the trap of simply listing chronological events of his life by weaving together personal memories with Maryland’s Eastern Shore history. He includes a gun dual, the murder of a young girl, and other atrocities, such as bigotry and slavery in which patriotic heroes and others stepped up to create harmony, when discord tried to reign. He highlights his family and friends, who helped shape his life and development as a pastor and sailor, and guided him as he built healthy faith communities throughout his career and gathered sailing friends to find peace and wonder in families, churches, communities and the beauty of nature. No matter where or when readers were born and reared, his stories inspire readers to think of how their childhood history and environment  may play a significant role in developing harmony in life.

His book published by, is also available at, and or packing and postage free for $19.95 mailed with your address to Harmony Hurst Books, 3202 Greenbriar Lane, West Grove PA 19390 or at book signings, where he is appearing at Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania book stores, news centers, libraries, schools, businesses, history societies, county summer festivals, school reunions, churches, conferences and family events.  For confidentiality readers may use

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