Walking on the Best Surface


Before my wife started having severe arthritis in one knee, we used to walk outside in the neighborhood whenever weather permitted and we had sufficient daylight. That allowed us to walk our miniature dachshund, Happy. Believe it or not, those short little legs did a great job of doing a full two-mile walk!

Unfortunately, I also have a problem that can make walking uncomfortable at times–never so extreme that I can’t walk, but bad enough to be conscious of while walking. And that slows me down. It’s been more of a issue since they paved our street a few years ago. The surface is hard, and each time I put my foot down I can feel the pain.

I do a lot of my walking at the mall now. Even though there’s concrete underneath, at least the top surface is covered with tile. Just a slight improvement over the street when it comes to reducing the pain. But even that slight improvement allows me to walk a little faster, and that’s good.

We recently joined the Y so my wife can swim. I go with her, not to swim–I’ve never learned how–but to walk. Our Y has a wonderful walking/running track overlooking the gym area. Sixteen times around equals a mile, and that eliminates a lot of guesswork regarding how fast I’m going.

 

 

The best feature of the Y’s walking track is the floor. It’s not spongy, but it’s definitely a body-friendly semi-soft material. Walking on it, I can do my two miles in thirty minutes without any problems. And without my pain being more than barely noticeable. Whoever designed the Y’s walking track to provide the safest and most pleasant walking surface knew what they were doing.

However, I know of one place that will provide even better walking facilities. and that’s Heaven.

The idea of streets of gold–that’s how the Bible describes Heaven as having–might not sound very appealing to walkers. After all, gold may be a very soft metal–especially pure gold–but would it be more comfortable to walk or run on than the Y?

I can’t answer that question from personal experience. But since the Bible assures us that Heaven is a perfect place– free from sin, pain, and all types of unpleasantness–I’m not worried about those golden streets. Since I won’t be bothered by my pain there, what difference will it make?

I’ll be too absolutely thrilled about Heaven’s perfection to even remember my former pain.

Do you have something you especially look forward to in Heaven’s perfectness? How about sharing a comment?

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Links you might be interested in:

 

Advertisements

Tale of a Snowy Spring Day

Although the calendar moved from winter to spring this past week, the weather couldn’t keep up with it. On Wednesday we had snow that started early and kept falling for hours. Schools were closed, but my wife was able to get to work without any problems.

My usual Wednesday morning nursing home ministry was cancelled, however. That meant I could still get two walks in at the mall. Clearing the car off didn’t take much; the snow was so soft it brushed off easily. The roads were mostly just wet, and the parking lot at the mall was slushy in places, but not dangerous to drive on.

 I always go in through the entrance at Penney’s salon. My wife and I have been doing that for a long time because the nice salon employees are generous are letting us hang our coats in their little customer closet, even though we get our haircuts elsewhere.

Although I hadn’t been taking advantage of that closet recently because the mall hasn’t been well heated this year, it was a real necessity that day. I was wearing boots–definitely not what I wanted to wear for a thirty-minute walk–but I’d brought my walking shoes in a plastic bag.

The salon was empty–no employees, no lights–but I changed into walking shoes and put my boots in the closet. Walking through the store, I admired some electronic gear that was on sale and cute tee-shirts displaying a rabbit head with part of an ear broken off (labeled “Oh, snap!”). Then I headed into the mall and had a good walk.

Several hours later, I decided to get my second walk out of the way. So I returned to Penney’s and went through the same routine about my shoes and boots. But I hung my coat in the closet that time. And why not? I was wearing a heavy sweater.

I’d seen only a few walkers that morning, but now–this was a little after 1:00–nobody else was walking. In fact, I marveled at the number of stores that had closed early. Considering the number that had never opened, things looked rather ghostly.

I’d been walking about ten minutes when one of the security guards stopped me and said the mall had just closed. He was nice enough to let me go the short distance to my turning spot, but I didn’t think I should take advantage of his kindness by attempting to do my second loop as well.

As I watched the rest of the mall stores closing right before my eyes, I couldn’t keep from thinking, “What if Penney’s closes its mall entrance before I can get there?” I started moving faster…and praying.

Sure enough, as I rounded the final corner, there Penney’s sat, its gate closed and no one who might have been able to let me in visible inside. When I saw another security guard, a very pregnant lady I’d gotten to know better since she passed out one morning many months ago, I told her my problem.

She couldn’t get me into Penney’s, but she did lead me down a corridor I’d never noticed before, one that led to an exit probably a hundred yards or so from my car. And an equal distance from where I was to Penney’s salon entrance.

I felt so blessed that the snow had practically stopped; I wouldn’t get very wet. But the temperature was barely above freezing. No matter how warm my sweater was, I moved as fast as I could towards the salon entrance. I nearly burst into a song of praise when someone exited through that door. He must have been store personnel since he questioned why I wanted to come in. He believed me, fortunately.

I changed back into boots, put on my coat, and headed to my car.

I was tempted to leave you in suspense about whether I got into Penney’s or not, but I was already concerned about whether anyone was still reading this post, and the conclusion of the story would not have been worthy of a sequel next week.

Have you ever had an unusual experience–maybe something that could have been either disastrous or, as in my case, simply a huge nuisance–that turned out okay? Or maybe not okay. How about leaving a comment.

I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

          

Links you might be interested in:

 

A Thought-Provoking Incident

One day this past week I went to the mall a little before 8:30 a.m. for my usual morning walk. But what happened when I got there wasn’t anything I could ever have anticiated.

I saw a crowd of other walkers going inside–they don’t unlock the doors until 8:30–but when I reached the door, it was locked. I checked the other doors. All locked.

One of the walkers inside saw me and pushed the door open for me, and I held it open for two ladies who were coming behind me. Why were the doors still locked when someone–presumably the security guard–had obviously let everyone else in?

I was immediately informed that the security guard had fallen–or at least she was lying immobile–on the floor just fifteen or twenty feet inside the Food Court entrance. Somebody was frantically requesting that someone with a phone call 911. Apparently someone did.

I don’t know what I expected, but the walkers–there must’ve been fifteen or twenty of us–were all standing around at a respectful distance. I don’t think anyone was talking, and I don’t believe anyone bypassed the crowd to walk. One lady was rubbing the female security guard’s back…as if to sooth her. I couldn’t see any indication that the guard was even conscious, however. (See the P.S. below.)

At 8:38 one of the custodians came in from outside and announced that we would all need to leave. The management couldn’t allow us to walk without having a security guard on duty. As we filed out–I didn’t hear anyone complaining–the ambulance arrived.

I don’t know if the security guard is okay now or even alive. But I’d be willing to bet I wasn’t the only person in the crowd who was praying silently for her. And continuing to pray for her now–several days later.

Earlier this morning I was looking for the song I wanted to post on my “As I Come Singing” blog this coming Wednesday, and I decided to use one whose lyrics, based on Isaiah 40: 6-8, say:

The grass will soon wither,
And the flowers will soon fade;
So the strongest of men will soon weaken and die.

Only the Word of the Lord lasts forever;
And one Word from Him gives us eternal life.
One Word from Him gives us eternal life.

I started thinking about the security guard again. I hate to keep referring to her that way, but even though I always spoke to her, I didn’t really know her…not even her name. She didn’t appear to be anywhere close to middle age. I knew and still know nothing about her but her function at the mall.

And now I don’t know whether she’s still alive. Or whether she’s become a withered blade of grass or a faded flower.

Something to ponder as I thank God for my hope of eternal life through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.

Your comments are welcome.

 P.S.  I saw the young lady several days after writing the rest of this blog post. She’s twenty-five, pregnant with her first child, and doing all right medically, although she does have another doctor’s appointment this week. The problem she’d experienced was a combination of low blood pressure and low blood sugar–with no explanation of why.  Although I still didn’t learn her name, I was thankful for the opportunity not simply to get the update, but to express my concern for her.

 

    

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

The Death of a Mall

A friend and I have recently been discussing the condition of the mall I walk at most mornings. She asks if the smells from the Food Court aren’t distracting while I’m walking. What smells, I tell her? Even by 9:00 a.m. there might not be anyone manning places in the Food Court, much less cooking anything.

She can’t picture just how far down Virginia Center Commons has grown. Grown down? Strange way to describe something that “dead” or “dying” seems to describe better .

I wonder whether American Family Fitness knew how badly VCC was dying when they bought and totally redid the  property on the other side of this wall. It’s one of the few places that are thriving, but it’s not even owned by the mall.

I recall how much fun it was to go to VCC  back in the 1990s when it was new and thriving. After years of going to a mall that was further away, a two-story mall, how amazing it was to be in a single-story mall that was oh! so spread out. With skylighted hallways–one that reaches from the Food Court all the way to the back and a shorter one off to one side–and decorated with humongous (live) palm trees.

Even though I know now that I can walk from one end of it to the other in five minutes and make a complete circle in fifteen, it was so crowded back then that it would probably have taken two to three times that long to move through the crowd at a snail’s pace.

As if I had any reason to rush then.

The Food Court wasn’t humongous, but it had a good selection, and right beside the front door was a Ruby Tuesday’s. Along with the variety of kiosks and normal-sized shops–the best I can recall, there were no empty stores–the mall housed a J. C. Penney’s, a Sears, and several other larger “big name” places.

The mall still has Penney’s and Sears, although the future of both chains is–from what I understand–up in the air. Burlington occupies one of the big store sites, but a good-sized Macy’s closed down many months ago. Interestingly, it’s for sale, not for lease. But what wise businessman (or woman) would want to invest so much in a place too few people shop at anymore?

Probably the most successful place is American Family Fitness. No wonder. The mall doesn’t own it and its success isn’t dependent on mall customers.

My wife helped me do a survey a couple of days ago. It’s hard to count while walking, but we ticked off the numbers on a tablet as we went along, so I believe these figures are relatively accurate.

  • Stores and kiosks still open: 47  (includes one that’s about to open)
  • Stores closed in the side hallway: 21
    • Stores open in that hallway: 3
  • Stores closed in the main hallway (includes two in the process of closing): 17

I detest walking in the one hallway that has lost twenty-one stores. It’s depressing.

This problem seems to be at least partially a chicken-or-egg problem. Which happened first–stores closing because customers were no longer coming to the mall or too many stores closing for customers to find going there to be worthwhile? I’ve heard several people claim that groups of teens hanging around there made customers afraid.

While that might have happened sometime in the past, I’ve never seen dangerous looking teens there. I rarely see a crowd at all. This is what the Food Court area looked like around 6:00 p.m. a couple of days ago:

In all fairness, Monday evening seems to be the most consistently empty time of the whole week. But it never looks anywhere close to full.

This picture is of the hall that branches off just past the Food Court. This is the one that only has three businesses–a LensCrafters, an optometrist’s office that’s all but officially a part of LensCrafters, and an African hair braiding place.

 

Some months ago the mall was sold to someone who supposedly likes to fix up malls like this one. I hope he can. He hasn’t done much so far. The lines in the parking lot are so faded it’s hard to be sure I’m parking within the lines.

Virginia Center Commons is just a mile down the road from us, and we do shop there–to whatever extent we can find what we want or need. We want to see it rejuvenated. Do we ever!

Any comments?



    

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Divisiveness – Not Something to Laugh At

American comedian Emo Philips is credited with having authored the following joke.

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What denomination?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

“Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heathen!” And I pushed him over.

I actually first heard it at a computer users symposium, although I can’t imagine why. I had no idea where it came from, and I’ve made a couple of minor changes to Emo’s version so it would match the one I was already familiar with. I hope Mr. Phillips won’t consider me divisive because of that.

But divisiveness as it exists in America today is nothing to joke about. When Mr. Obama took office, he claimed he wanted to unite Americans. All Americans. Only history will reveal whether the disunity that broke out during his eight years in office was intentional, but some people–perhaps many–believe Mr. Obama wanted to create division in this country. Perhaps even to start a civil war.

I just sighed. I wish you could have heard me. It was a sigh of deep frustration.

Thank goodness–thank God, that is–Heaven will be a place of peace and unity. In spite of jokes like this one:

St. Peter was showing a recent arrival around Heaven. A Methodist. On passing a room with a closed door–no windows–the Methodist asked Peter who was inside.

Peter laughed before answering. “Those are the Baptists. We keep the door shut so they won’t see they’re not the only ones in Heaven.”

Even though we’ll never know perfect unity among diverse groups here on earth, I get a small preview of what it might be like when I walk at the mall. There I encounter other walkers, custodians, security guards, and mall employees. Among those are blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, and probably people from other racial groups as well. Some I know to be  Christian. Others are conspicuously Muslim. I have no idea what the rest are. I dare say we probably vary in our life styles and politics as well.

But we walkers are unified in purpose. Even though many of us are there by ourselves–at least part of the time–we’re there to walk. Some of us walk clockwise, on the left facing “traffic.” Others stay on the right in a counterclockwise manner. And a few like me reverse directions periodically.

Yet, the walking is not the only thing that unifies us. It’s the sense of comradery. With rare exceptions we greet one another as if we’re really glad to see each other. And we’ve learned some of one another’s names as we often end up walking in the same direction at the same time as another walker. It’s very uplifting.

My prayer today and every day is for God to break the spirit of diversity that has created too many different “us and them” groups and to unify us in His name.

If you have a comment, I’d love for you to post it.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

“Is she…?”

My wife and I walk together at the mall when weather doesn’t permit us to walk in our neighborhood. We enjoy the opportunity to be together and talk without the fear of her interrupting my writing or my interrupting her counting while she’s knitting or crocheting. Walking at the mall is a wonderful couple thing.

Although we don’t always have something special to talk about, each of us feels confident the other person is ready to listen and to respond appropriately. Dare I say that things we share at the mall are more easily remembered?

One of the things we do during our walks is observe other people. Since I dislike most makeup–I especially detest what I refer to as “the raccoon look,” which tends to keep me and everyone else from seeing whether a woman or girl has pretty eyes–we’re apt to point out what I consider overly made up females.

Same for women who are dressed in ways we deem inappropriate. Either too much–top or bottom–is showing or these people are simply too big overall to dress in their choice of styles. We especially notice older woman who’re wearing a style made for much younger women.

Of course, we would never dream of expressing our opinions to anyone else, and we readily concede to one another (and I concede to you) that these are only our opinions. People are perfectly free to dress and make themselves up as they please. They’re not doing it for us, and God has not made either of us active members of the Fashion Police. In reality, we’re apt to chastise ourselves for being so critical.

But one of our most interesting mall observation activities has to do with pregnant women. Or women who at least look pregnant.

One of us will glance conspicuously towards a particular woman. “What about her? Is she…?”

Then the other person looks at the subject in question, and we start analyzing the clues. If she appears to be within the normal child-bearing age range and of a normal size except for her abdominal protrusion, we’re apt to concur that she is pregnant.

Some woman are just too obviously pregnant not to be.

But therein lies the problem. Some of the most obviously pregnant looking women still probably aren’t. They are simply fat in an unfortunate-looking way.

Like the makeup and clothes we criticize between ourselves, we can’t do anything about those women. So we laugh and tease one another. “You go ask her.”

Have you ever asked a woman–hopefully a real friend–about her pregnancy, only to learn she’s not? Was it disastrous or did she take it well? How about sharing a comment.

NOTE: Various people have complained about not being able to find or leave comments. Go all the way to the bottom of this post, beneath my “Best regards, Roger.” On the very bottom line of that last section just above the previous post you’ll see “Leave a Comment” if yours will be the first or “X Comments,” where  X denotes the number of existing comments.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger

Death of a Store–or of a Mall?

  IMG_20160309_081954083     IMG_20160309_081959696_HDR     IMG_20160309_082013012_HDR

What fun times those were when Virginia Center Commons opened in 1991. It was the newest and the best of Richmond’s malls. And what delights awaited us when we got there. I don’t recall many of the stores from that era, but I do remember a candy store where one of four or five jewelry stores is now. No telling how many hours we spent in that store; if you’ve ever lived with a four-year-old or taken one shopping for candy, you know what I’m talking about.

Now that my wife and I live just a mile from VCC, it’s no longer the newest or the best. Some of you may have read my blog post about the aging mall (check HERE if you want to read it) some months back, in which I lamented the sad condition of VCC and noted the interesting uses being made of some of the store spaces. I believe things have gone even further downhill since then, however. Even the Henrico County Police substation moved out.

When I walk at the mall, something I do frequently, I can’t help noticing all of the empty stores. One hallway is particularly depressing. A person would almost have to know where Lens Crafters is located because it’s around the corner from what looks like a basically empty hall. Probably three-quarters of the stores in that area have either closed or moved to a busier part of the mall.

The most recent store closure is the Macy’s at the far end from the Food Court. It’s been going out of business for a couple of months now, and every week or two the discounts have grown deeper and deeper. You can see in one of the pictures above what the current discounts are. Since the 13 Days sign I took through the window this morning was for yesterday, next week will mark the end.

Yesterday I wandered in just out of curiosity, and I couldn’t help feeling depressed. So many empty fixtures–they were for sale, too–and a rather disgusting crowd of nude female manikins. And whatever stock was left was starting to look pretty well picked over.

But those weren’t the things that made me sad. It was the thought of all those people losing their jobs–and still working as long as they can before the final day.

I keep thinking the whole situation–not just Macy’s, but the mall in general–is a which-comes-first-the-chicken-or-the-egg problem. How long can stores remain in business if people don’t come to the mall? Yet how many people are going to visit the mall if the number and variety of stores has so seriously shrunk that it’s not worth the effort?

Mr. Obama, feel free to keep trying to make us believe the economy is improving when you’re apparently blind to problems like this. And, Lord, please protect us from any more of the kinds of efforts the administration has been using to improve the economy.

What are your thoughts? A comment would be welcome.

~*~

Links you might be interested in:

I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

Best regards,
Roger