Member Since: June 7, 05
On Fears, Thanksgiving and Quality of Light
As we grow up, we exchange the old fears for new ones. If you had asked me a month ago what are the most common fears, I would have answered differently. Fear of failure, of pain, of unpopularity or non-acceptance, fear of being too different, or too much the same; these would have been my best guesses of typical fears. A recent visit to my granny changed that. She had to give up her life as she knew it, and move into a nursing home. I knew she missed her flowers, and keeping warm by a fire, but most of all she missed her old house. She missed the comfort of knowing the familiar was close, be it dozens of pictures of family, or loving neighbors just down the road. She missed feeling connected to life.
Saying goodbye to my granny is a ½ hour undertaking. And for that last ½ hour of talking and visiting, she never let go of my hand. She held to my hand as if holding on to the past. I had a deep revelation of truly what our greatest fear is; it is being alone.
For some, each new day brings rays of hope, but truly what sustains us is being connected even through the darkness. Even animals find comfort in braving the darkness together. My dog toby is content to be close, even if we do nothing at all. It’s not the absence of light that we fear, but more so the absence of those we love.
Sunlight filters through the trees and it warms my heart. Within my spirit I affirm its perfection. But what is the perfect light? Sometimes the light illuminates our barreness thus showcasing our faults. Other times there is only a faint glow that leaves much left unseen. No matter how much light is present, the true quality of light isn’t found in just its brightness or warmth. To me, the most precious light is found where love abides.
Even in darkness, the soul can feel and see the promise abiding love. Hope is the angel that guides us through the night, and she flies on wings of love. As light emerges from the shadows, a new day is the living testament of our love. Life is illuminated by light, but not defined by it. Life can be cold, but never too harsh, if endured by two.
This holiday season I take time to reflect on my life. And written within the pages of the Bible is an account of love, and life, and light. And at the end of His human life, Jesus cried out. Not because of the pain of swords and spears, but because He felt abandoned. Desperation is found in the darkness of a moment that has been stripped of all hope. The world need not be devoid of hope. We cannot completely banish the darkness, but we can offer love and to those lonely, we can be a friend.
On our stove there sits 2 figurines softly lit by a night light. They symbolize the essence of life, sharing together. While doing a program for the fire department, I noticed a precious little girl. As I lifted her into the engine, I noticed a light in her eyes. I thought how blessed I am to have this job, this moment, this life. I give thanks for all the good I have been blessed with.
Another passage in the Bible simply states, “Perfect Love casts away all fear.” My prayer for you this year is that you will find warmth in each day’s sun, purpose in every breath given, and a love that brings joy to your heart and a hope that sustains you through the night.
Around Her World In 24 Frames
To go into Jana’s room is to enter into an enchanted kingdom where she is the princess.Her jewels are quite understated, always being subservient to her radiant smile. Her presence warms a room liken unto a trio of scented candles. She is love, joy, and peace personified. And her room is splendiferous evidence to all she is.
What is peace? Her life defines it. Through all her struggles she keeps her faith which is as steadfast as a rock. Her prayers are a woven tapestry of praise. To know her is to believe that angels watch over us, and live among us.
Joy is more than a laugh, it is the leap one’s heart takes when no longer tethered to this finite world. The child within her lives to dreamer and to dance. No matter what the time, there is time for a song.
She is fun’s fanciful cohort, a party waiting to explode. She adds color to what would be gray world. She makes me smile.
Jana appreciates the vast differences in our world. From her love of music to art to people, she is champions the cause for accepting others. She craves to change the world that needs change, but also to love others, whether they change or not. She proves to all,it’s ok to be different.
A collage of charisma, courage and charm, she is most precious. She is a light in a darkened world. The world is enriched just by her being in it. People, circumstances, or misfortune may have labeled her with limitations, but I know better. There is a greatness within her that cannot be extinguished by what is seen or felt. Even within the expanses of my dreams I cannot fathom all that she will do, and the wondrous the places she will go.
To look at my princess is like looking in a mirror that reflects the very best of me while filtering out my numerous imperfections. Jana is much like her room. She is light and love, fun and dreams, and a sea of seemingly crazy contradictions that blend into a most bedazzling work of art. Twenty four frames are but a glimpse into her room and into her world. The kind of a world I wish for all.
It's Not Always About the Curves
Secreted within our framework, our heart beats. It infuses more than blood; it is the defining mark of our character and the measure of our compassion. Without it, we have nothing to drive us beyond our mediocrity. We are devoid of any impetus to move us towards a destination greater than the here and now. With heart, we set into motion the journeys that move us to extraordinary places.
If heart moves us, then truly our mind steers us. The choices we make in life determine our path. Our will, when guided by truth, makes straight our path, no matter how curvy the road. But what stops us isn’t always our lack of wisdom, but our lack of value attached to it. Wisdom isn’t clothed in fanciful linens. And wisdom doesn’t glisten with the sparkles of a diamond. But truly wisdom is a gem worthy of the pursuit. To fit wisdom into our lives requires a change. We must remove those things that would impair our own wisdom and clean off those places where we lose contact with our heart, and what truly matters.
Sometimes we lose our way. We lose heart, and will, and perhaps even hope. We may even ponder what is the point of it all. We try, and try, but are left exhausted from the plight. Even when we feel completely empty all is not lost. I believe that the frame that you live within doesn’t define you. It is quite simply a place for your heart, and a vehicle to be steered by your will.
Curves can be breathtakingly beautiful. But I have met those that are hidden behind the cardboard box. They possess all the components to go to amazing destinations in life. When I was younger I worked so hard to change the frame I was in. Now I will to live in such a way that I will make a difference. I hope my epitaph will one day read… He had Heart.
Those Things Invisible, Pain and Suffering, and Endurance
The National Fire Academy hosted a run benefiting Fallen Firefighters. My fellow fire fighters ran for those who have finished their course. The race traversed to beautiful grounds of a neighboring Basilica. I was honored to get a private tour by one of the Sisters. Inside its hallowed walls I sensed the presence of those things much greater than I. Within the Light my own consequence faded much like shadows beneath the sun. As Sister Mary spoke of her faith, I saw how love was proven through the most selfless acts of Mercy. Afterwards I sat in their gardens that overlook a private cemetery. Rows upon rows of graves stand as a silent testimony of love through service. Back at the academy there burns a flame, almost invisible in the light of day. It honors those firefighters who gave their life in service to others. Heroes are not merely defined in the last moments of their lives, but rather within the countless acts of giving before. How humbling to have walked among so many, and what a legacy they leave for those willing to give.
I ventured into D.C. and fell in awe of the richness of history and diversity of our Capital. The greatness of a nation is not built upon pillars of stone but on foundations of those residents within. And within this city were innumerable testaments to those uniting and those forever gone. At Arlington Cemetery, there stands a guard who watches over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Quietly I watched as he vigilantly manned his post. My eyes were filled with countless graves and my heart with the reality of a loss too great for one to comprehend. It was within the gates of our National Cemetery that I pondered most the pain of life and death. At President Kennedy’s grave, there also burns a flame. And etched into the walls are most profound words.“Pain that cannot forget” is more than words. They bear witness to the high price of freedom.
Many other tributes dotted the Washington landscape. Beautiful fountains honored those that died in both the Pacific and Atlantic wars. Amidst the countless reminders of the past, we find the hope of our future. We reflect and meditate. We cling to each other. It is a place that exemplifies the plight of man and honors those who have given the gift of greatness to us. Those that visit connect with a past that many times defines our destiny. Whether you count yourself as a hero, or simply living within the shadows, you are part of that living tapestry of our great country. We are diverse, yet not divided. Our walls will uphold, not separate the weak. We will carry those who cannot walk. We are a people that live together beneath a shadow of greatness.
Many times I contemplate an uncertain future. We live amidst pains and disappointments. We question will we endure. We wonder if we on the right path. I used pray that we would live in a world without suffering. I know now the futility of such a prayer. Pain is as much a part of our humanity as is joy and comfort. My wife once said, “We all just want a soft place soft place to land.” My prayer now is that each life would be a light or when surrounded by troubles, find a soft place to land. I don’t know how I will fare in this race we call our life; in this battle against complacency. I did however find my heart’s desire imprinted on a T shirt. It reads, “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” I hope I shall always have the will to care. If a virtue must be chosen, then compassion surely will rise above courage. For in giving in ordinary fashions, the extraordinary is birthed. In caring, our great nation will endure the test of time.
I dedicate this post to my cousin, Chief Warrant Officer Jamie Weeks. Born 03/13/59 and died 05/14/06. He lived and died a hero.
We should dance. I think that the reason most adults don't dance as much is we can't hear the music. The wind tussling leaves is music. The sound of water plopping down in playful puddles is indeed music. To a child, the sound of daddy coming home from work is, quite a symphony to dance to, if there is a partner. Worries and problems create a drowning din of chaos that deafens our hearts to what is all around us. If you see a child dancing, pause for a bit. Listen, you just might hear the music and wish to dance.
We should explore. As adults, one lie we often tell ourselves is that we already know the answers. We delude ourselves into thinking we should know... have to know everything. Life becomes a competition; success is us being right, coming out on top, having all the answers. But watch a child for a moment. Every moment becomes a new discovery. What makes Playdo soft and where does the rain come from. They are in suspenseful facination because there is always something to discover. Like renegade pirates looking for their bounty, Life will always be an adventure... until we stop looking for the treasure. Children teach us that buried beneath the plain and ordinary, there is much to discover.
Children teach us to dream.Watch a child as they sit in Santa's Lap. If one could zoom in a thousand times into their eye's it would be like a wondrous snow globe of possibilities. Children dream of flying without wings, and the silliest of things, but they do dream. As adults we plan, we devise and analyze things to death. But sometimes we lose sight of how to dream. In dreams, reality no longer tethers those things we dare not hope for. Anything is possible. True, all dreams do not come true. There is yet another truth; Dreamers do indeed achieve those things thought impossible. Children show us how to dream with our eyes wide open.
It's ok to need someone. Kid's need to know they are loved. In a bad storm, they need to feel your close. When they are sick, they need that comforting touch. Many times as grown ups we feel as though we can't need, it's not safe to believe too much in another. When the world screams to us you don't need anyone, a child's hand in ours is a gentle reminder that it is ok to need another. This does make us vulnerable, and yes, even sets us up for disappointment. It also allows us close enough to experience the strong tie of 2 that cling to each other. Amazing how the weakest of hands can have the strongest of holds. Children show us it is safe to need another.
There are so many lessons we strive to teach our children, but in doing so I hope we never forget all they have to show us. Life is complicated, and tough, and serious at times. Life can also be an amazing and wonderful discovery, teeming with possibilities if only we can learn to look through the eyes of a child. Today I hope you explore, that you risk needing another, and that you dream. Hear the music, and take time to dance. Magic happens to those...
Traces of a Few Good Men
Some fight for freedom, some for love. Others fight against complacency, apathy, or even mediocrity. They set their sights on the goal, and press on. When we lose one of the champions, we die a little ourselves. This story is about the loss of a few good men, and the traces of their greatness that still lives on.
On Valentines Day, most lovers wait for that fragrant bouquet of flowers or tasty chocolate token of affection from the one that holds their heart. This Valentines Day a friend of ours said goodbye to her husband Dale. A sudden illness shortened his life, but not his legacy. Dale was a Pastor, a father, a husband, and a friend. He wasn't preachy, but he was an awesome example of kindness and love. Tucked away in a small country town, it wouldn't seem that Dale could impact our world's condition. His fight wasn't against foreign countries. Dale fought every day against all that would steal hope from a hurting world. To see him was to see a jolly soul with the most kindest eyes. To hear him was to hear truth and hope settle into your spirit, much like being wrapped in a comforter on a chilly day.
Traces of Dale are seen in his family and friends. But the footprints where he sought our hurting people and gave them hope, those signs of a hero will not soon be forgotten. The world is a better place for all he has done.
On Friday, May 12th my uncle suffered a massive stroke. That Saturday I was able to visit my aunt and cousin in the hospital. So sad that tragedy is what usually brings families together. I began to talk with Randy, my cousin about our lives growing up. We relived fond childhood memories that paved the way for where we are today. My uncle always has a strong value for family and community. In a small town everyone knows your name. They also know just about anything good or bad you have ever done. Having lived in such a town all his life, my uncle was known as an honorable man. Trusted and respected, his word was good as gold. He was a person that once they started a job, they didn't stop. Randy joked about how everyone knew if he was on a tractor , don't get on front of him, or you would be hay.
I have to admit I was scared to go into the room and see him. That was hard. This wasn't the Uncle BoBo that I knew. Regardless of what I saw in that ICU room, I still knew who and what my uncle was. He was a champion. He fought for family , for community. He fought for honor and that a handshake was more binding than anything ever penned on paper. He fought for a precious way of life that is entrenched in all that knew him. That Sunday, as the sun set , he lost his fight against the stroke, but he won his war. He was... he is a hero.
That same day, on the other side of the world was another hero. My cousin Jamie was a helicopter pilot in Iraq. On May 14th he was shot down and killed. I once again recall growing up. All of us cousins would gather at my grannies and grand daddies in "the country" for holidays. I thought about the fun times we had, and the trouble we would get in to. But eventually we all grow up, and life goes on. Jamie was a husband and father, but what I knew him most for was a charismatic and very talented and skilled pilot. I would hear stories about where Jamie was, what he was doing, knowing all along most of the interesting stuff I would never hear of. Classified is a fancy word for what unsung heroes do everyday.
A service with a 4 star General, a flag, a Purple Heart, these are traces of his mark in life. But his family, his friends, those he served with knows it goes much deeper than that. While many can argue the battles we fight on foreign soil, none can argue his valor or courage. He was a soldier , he is a hero.
Hollywood has made many movies portraying heroes. Block buster hits usually have the hero winning against innumerable odds. The truth is, many give of themselves in ways no one will know. Some times they save lives, sometimes they save hope or faith. What is a common thread with all heroes is that courage resident within their heart to do what is noble and right. Regardless of the cost they stay on track. We remember their deeds, never forgetting their names.
Today a tractor sits quietly in a field, a Bible is closed, and a flight suit hangs in a closet. My heart is heavy with these losses of a friend and an uncle and cousin. I know that the world is a better place having had these men live their honorable and valued lives in service to others. I know traces of their character and beliefs permeate through out their own worlds. Lives have been touched, enriched, loved, and protected by these men. Hope, Honor, Valor...these aren't just words on a page, they are the traces of a few good men I shall sorely miss.
A Path of Petals and Stones
While our destination was Fredericksburg, the trip was truly all those places without a name. It was on those endless miles of meandering roads framed with blue bonnets bluebonnets that you forgot about deadlines and bills things you thought you had to do. To do lists faded into a yellow abyss that soothed the daily demons that torment us in our other life. Take a breath and you can smell the sweetness of spring, but breathe in, deeply, and your soul savors this heaven you have found on earth. These are the places we learn to define beauty and appreciate those soft havens of life.
Each road takes you somewhere, and sometime it steals your breath away. We all have places we want to go, but sometimes, long before we get there, we are most pleasantly surprised. A faint glow of color emerges in a distant field. You find yourself stopping some 27 miles short of where you thought you should be. Now, in this namely place you stop, acknowledging the supremacy of a wonder to great for you to create. Painted across a canvas of fertile fields are velvety petals of red. Drawn into them, you close your eyes as your finger tips glide across their tops. The sun's warmth is tempered by tender wisps of morning breezes that caress tired travelers and beckons them to stay. It feels like home.
Every creature has a home, some more extravagant than others. For all the beautiful homes I have seen, with all their elegant decorations, none compare to those natural habitats splendidly furnished by God himself. I happened upon a group of deer gathered in their living room. I watched as they ran off to another's home with less human activity. And I found a butterfly's breakfast room delightfully coordinated to the owners liking. Even a simple patch of dirt and twigs because a spot of wonder when it is where nature lives and raises it's own.
As beautiful as the flowers were, I did find myself looking up in awe. There were those winged carriers that spoke in hushed coos, foretelling the secreted beauty we were to discover. Just past a canopy of twisted limbs weighted with their blossoms of spring was a silent place where nature rests. Here, hidden from the frantic flurry of life, is where life itself takes in a deep breath, and then slowly breathes it out. Only flecks of sunlight filter through the trees. One feels protected, safe, isolated from the world, but not alone. A peace wraps around you like a soft comforter. Of all that enter here, none would wish to leave.
As surreal as all this may seem, it is real. There is truly that beauty, solitude, and solace to be found, if only we are willing to seek it out. But not all paths paths lead to such a place. Some are rocky, and hard to travel. Some are blocked and seem to have no way around. As I sat and looked at some rocks, they intrigued me. As hard as they are, they still break and crumble. And all those jagged pieces will someday smooth over as the constant currents of life flow. The rough loses its edge. Those enormous stones will someday be the pebbles that we trod upon, or that lie dormant in babbling brooks. Nature always seeks to balance itself, the rocks will slow the stream; the stream will smooth the stone.
We found yet another place worthy of our time. This place had a small but beautiful waterfall. A sliver of sun cut through the trees, and settled in soft ripples of the flowing river. This was a place to reflect, to think back on the trip, and on our lives. I recalled the soft beauty of the flowers we had seen. I thought back at the beautiful creatures hidden within the trees, and those at our feet. I collected all we had seen into one enchanted dream where everything is most perfect. But life isn't perfect, only moments within it.
Life is hard at times. We lose our way, we find stumbling stones along our path. Sometimes we fall, and we lay broken amidst the rocks. Hopefully we don't stay there. Whether it is kindness, or love; fate or the compassion of God, I pray all those broken find a place where they are safe. To find a place where the weary in life can close their eyes and breathe in the essence of life. The Japanese have gardens that mix flowers and trees,water and stones. Nature finds its balance, and truly it is beauty personified.
Along our trip we collected rocks from all our stops. They are reminders of a beautiful trip as well as the hard things in life. We planted the rocks along with some ivy. It summarizes life better than I ever could. The rocks are they, but simply a foundation and frame for the life that will continue to grow.
A Man's Man?
I decided to evaluate myself in all the major choice categories; what I eat, read, watch, do, where I go, and how I get there. Points would be given for macho (tired of typing man's man) and non-macho behaviors and choices. The first category is food. I love all sorts of food, but if I have to prepare it myself, I go simple. I also love bar-b-q (2 point), meat and potatoes (3 points), chips and salsa (2 points). On the other hand, I love Caramel Machiatta's at Star Bucks (2 non-macho points) and Tiramisu (2 non-macho points... but subtract 1 because I really didn't know how to spell Tiramisu). Final Score in Food: 7 to 3, man's man ahead.
The next category would be what I read. I collected my magazines and books, and came up with 4 general categories. I give myself a 2 in job related and professional development, around a 2 in spiritual growth books, a 2 in arts and poetry, and a 2 in motorcycle and chopper building books. I also like the sale ads and funnies out of Sunday's paper. Judges say a tie: so we will call it 5 to 5 in literature. Man's man still slightly ahead.
We now move to what I watch. As for TV, NASCAR gets 2 hefty points all on it's own. Round that off with a few sitcoms and manly movies; now the total quickly gets to around 5. But my love for romance brings the other score up quickly, and the fact I loved Pride and Prejudice makes me subtract 1 point from the other side. Final Tally: 6 to 4, the sensitive guy winning out this round.
When I am not working I love to piddle in the garage. This is kind of like a guy's living room I love tools like a woman loves shoes. Point for Craftsman, and double points for Harley. I also love Art. And, my greatest escape is the back yard. My wife and I enjoy our coffee as the birds come and feed. I love the flowers, our visitors,and the serenity of the water bubbling in the fountain. I have to admit, I got overly excited the first time I saw a hummingbird this year. Verdict: 6 to 4, sensitive guy takes another round.
One category that speaks volumes about a guy is his ride. A pickup in and of itself is worth 2 points, but a 496 cubic inch Chevy 2500 heavy duty truck weighs in at about 5 points. Add my love for choppers and having flown helicopters in the Guard, total transportation category gets an 8 for manly man. Sensitive guy gets a point for walking on the beach and 1 point for loving late night rides with the moon roof open on the Honda. Final Total: 8 to 2, manly man comes back.
Clothing is one category that visibly displays to the world what kind of guy you are. For having a suit, shirt, belt and shoe combo that is matched to perfection, sensitive guy gets a 3. And for having numerous button-up shirts that accentuate the blue in my eyes, SG gets another point. However, my favorite casual thing to wear is Levis 501's and a t-shirt. Most t-shirts have grease stains and 1 set of 501's has a few holes. Final tally in clothing: Man's Man 6, SG 4.
As I write this I realize that I had forgotten a huge category, my writing.Although it's not impossible for me to grunt or groan or scratch while I write, it's highly unlikely. Hopefully what comes across is my belief in faith, hope, and love. Because this category is dominated by sensitive guy he gets a 9. He would get a 10 but he gave a sympathy point to mr. macho. Score: 9 to 1, sensitive guy dominates this round.
When we tally the scores in each category we find that man's man gets a total point score of 35. Not bad at all. And Sensitive Guy, after the voting was tallied came in with a 35. Ok, so I am not sure what kind of guy I am. But one thing I know, and that is who I want to be like. My
Dad has never run a marathon, swam with the dolphins, won a motocross and my best guess is he is about 5 inches shorter than James Bond. He is a kind man, thoughtful and patient. He worked diligently until he retired, he has honored and cherished my mother, and all that know him say he is a man of integrity. Some say I may never grow up, but if I do, I want to be like him. That's manly enough for me.
Broken Pipes... Broken Things.
Quickly a Firefighter climbed up to survey the situation, and which plug would work the best. As the engine crew worked on that, I went to the sprinkler room to try and shut off the supply. Even when the supply is shut off, a tremendous amount of water is still in the system under pressure. Translated into English; someone's about to get wet .
The firefighter braved the heights and water and got the sprinkler head plugged. But we surveyed the damage, and a lot of water had been emptied into the store.We got wet vacs, squeegees and mops then started the clean up.
As I reflected on the events of the night, I thought how quickly things get broken, and the mess it can make. Broken trust, and broken promises, just like broken pipes can wreak havoc in our lives. In the aftermath, we can find ourselves drowning in a rampant river that seemingly has no end. We can ignore it, run away, or just watch it wash away. Or, we can try and fix it. But when things are broke, there are no quick fixes.
Once you commit to fixing the problem, you will have to get wet. It's not fun, it's not easy. But it is what you have to do. Like the firefighter, you will find yourself surrounded by the fallout. But with perseverance and the right tools, you can stop the leaks. What are the right tools? I think honesty, faith in love's enduring power, and forgiveness, hope, and patience are a few good ones to have. You need patience because even after you stop the leaks, there can be huge messes to clean up.
It is overwhelming to try and clean up some of life's messes. But to do it alone is almost impossible. When two work or more work together, even the impossible becomes alive with hope. If it appears that I am a hopeless optimist, I am. My faith compels me to believe things can always get better. I realize there are no "pat" answers. Individuals have problems that will take individual answers.
I guess I feel like Dr. Phil, without the answers; just a strong desire for people to not drown in their situations. Times are few and far between when I can save a life at work. But there is much joy in saving hope. Last night many people went to sleep. Some couples may be on the verge of drowning. Some parents may feel like their children are too far out of reach and beyond saving. Some families may fight, or possibly not even speak to each other. Some friends might not be friends any more. I can't tell you how to fix it, only that I believe it's worth fixing.
I would like to dedicate this post to my wife, who has waded through the water with me, and loves me still.
If the Shoe Fits...
Sometimes when I am working on the cars, or in the yard, I dig around and find Old Faithful. They have survived assaults from oil, grease, mud, dog pooh, and ant piles. They aren't much to look at, but they have been there with me when I have hammered, wrenched, cut, painted and otherwise physically altered something. Everyone needs a pair of shoes like old faithful.
My real work, at least the one that pays bills, is at the Fire Station. I find it interesting that Chief's will have the same badge, shirt, and pants, but we all choose different shoes. My usual footwear attire is black Rockports or New Balance shoes. While others opt for Wellington boots, or something a tad dressier, I find these shoes are light, comfortable and clean up easy. They are official enough but very easy going, in that respect much like me. They fit.
Another work I do is teaching. Although my previous two pair of shoes would be more comfortable for teaching, they wouldn't be suitable. I have a pair of simple, black shoes that I wear. These are the ones I wear when I have to look professional yet at the same time get stuff done. These are the in-betweens. Not quite dressy, not the comfort of old faithful. But enough about work shoes, sometimes you just need to get away. The way I do that is on a motorcycle.
When I ride, I almost always wear boots. Boots are rugged and tough, and protect the ankle bones much better than the Rockports. Don't ask how I know that, but it's true. They also look like they belong on a bike. Flip flops and Harley just don't go together. So, it is my footwear of choice when I get away. Now getting fit requires something a lot lighter.
I don't exercise as often as I should, but when I do; my weapon of choice against the middle wiggle is running. My runnig shoes might remind you of old faithful. That is because for years upon years my running shoes have evolved into old faithful shoes. Running shoes are more than just comfort; they are engineered to make me faster. Ok, at least look faster. But sometimes I want more that to look fast... sometimes I like a little panache.
Ok, I have to admit I am not Mr. GQ. But I do enjoy playing dress up every once and awhile. My shoes of choice when I am styling are my almost brown shoes. There really is a name for these, but I forgot it. Sorry. But they not only look good, but they bring out the pin stripe in my navy suit. I feel different when I wear these shoes. Similar to Dorothy's red slippers; they magically make me smarter, taller and handsome. Ok, well at least ¾" taller. I do love'em, but really, they are just a pair of shoes.
In my world, I have several shoes. Some cost more than others. Still some feel better. They all have purpose. Each one has a place. It makes me think of people. I have many friends and much like my shoes, they all have a place. Some are there trudging through the grease and mud with me. They are my old faithfuls. Some are a little more polished, yet still comfortable enough to be with. Others are like those boots. Perhaps a little heavy and awkward, but they protect me going down life's roads.
I have those friends that are my running shoes, keeping my mind and heart fit for another day. And I even have a few friends with panache. Which shoe, which friend do I love the most? The answer is I don't. They all have a place. People are as different as all the shoes we wear. But they all have a place, a purpose. Have you ever felt like you have been drug through the mud, been beaten and banged around; and now tattered and torn, you feel worthless. Perhaps to someone you are an old faithful. Don't spend life wishing you were something that you are not. Never judge yourself less if you didn't cost as much. My advice to everyone is simply; if the shoe fits wear it. And know that somewhere, somehow, in this grand life, you are a perfect fit.
A Sign of the Times....
There was a time before computers when typing a letter wasn't done on a computer. Even though the keys of my old Smith Corona do date back a bit, it really isn't that old. To really go back in time, you revisit an era when letters were penned by hand and heart. I visited a distinguished man who since the 5th grade has had a love of pens. Listening to the history of pens was intriguing, but to watch him sign his name was fascinating. More than a signature, it was an expression of his love and skill with a pen, beautifully transposed on paper. He showed me letter after letter, each one a work of art. Members of a Penman's Club practice this skill, turning an ordinary envelope into a work of art.
Imagine going to your mailbox and there are no mass mailings, no junk mail. Instead you find a letter so intricately prepared it could hang within the walls of a gallery. Seeing such a blend of penmanship and art inspired me. It was time for me to write.
I love people that sign their work. Whether it is our forefathers penning our Constitution, or Al signing gold leaf work on a fire truck, I think it makes a powerful statement. It becomes more than a document or a piece of machinery. It becomes a work of art. I guess art is quite subjective. I see beauty and art in many things, even those simple things as writing one's name. What would this world be like, if our name was written next to all we do?
The future is bright with promise. But let us not forget the wisdom, spirit, character and even romance that embodied the past. While our lives should not be spent dwelling on days gone by, our times of reflection can give us a clear vision for our future. Its all a matter of perspective.
Remember yesterday, live today, and hope for tomorrow. And always, put your signature on anything your head, hands, or heart will do.
Through Another's Eyes.
It just so happened I was downtown, and taking a different route to go across town. The street I traveled went by a house that a recognized from years before. I recalled memories of statues hidden behind a veil of vines and limbs; beautiful works that I admired from the safety of the street. I had never possessed the boldness to impose on the artist so as to get a better look. That was then. Now, some 20 years later I found myself driving by, but this time was different. My curiosity outweighed my fear, and I found my truck driving up to a gate; a gate that would lead into a whole new world for me.
Mr. C approached and asked could he help me. I introduced myself and told him of my love of statues. He politely invited me into his yard, a private garden of some most wonderful works of art. As we spoke, my eyes drifted across his landscape that was sprinkled with carvings and casts. Our conversation encompassed life, work, family, adversity, travel and death. I was amazed that this gifted artist would share his time, his thoughts and his works with me.
I asked could I photograph his statues and he obliged me. Within short fashion I was moving about his yard, snapping pictures and admiring his gift for capturing life. His works reflected the solidarity of family, the beauty of the body, the innocence of youth. His works varied as greatly as life and death.Profound statements cast into bronze, chiseled into stone.
Mr. C now does mostly commissioned work. His creations are admired by many churches, and his renderings of families are prized heirlooms capturing those fleeting moments of life. He once did gallery work, but now finds himself like many others, piecing together back life after the hurricane.
Before I left, I knew I had one more picture to take. I asked could I take a photo of him. He was as modest as he was gifted, but he indulged me. His eyes, tired with age, still possessed both a kindness and hidden mystery. I wondered how he saw life, and then I turned around, and had my answer. He showed me and others how he sees life, love, family ; his reproductions are his testimony to the character and persona of mankind.
Early scholars spoke of Fatum, the root word of fate. We call it Destiny. I learned this not because of my studies, but rather my watching more than once the movie Serendipity. I love that word that stands for a fortunate accident. Was it fate, chance or happenstance that I drove down that street? Was it predestined that Mr. C would become a gifted artist? These are questions that philosophers can debate. All I can say is I stopped and asked and he invited me into his world. What ever you call it, I was blessed. Correction... I am blessed.
A Different View...
My first stop was at mile 22, at Paynes Barber Shop. Mr. Payne was kind to let a biker, dressed in leathers, toting a camera and wearing a mischevious grin come into his shop. As I explained my quest to make a new aquaintance every 25 miles, he continued to snip away at Mr Jims hair. Mr. Jim is 90, but has alot of spunk for his age. I gazed at the walls and soaked in the character that embodied this typical but still unique barber shop. Mr. Payne boasted in his soft spoken voice, of how he has cut hair for 46 years. For some families, 6 generations have sat in that Chair. I could have listened for hours to the stories, but I had more places to go, more friends to make. I thanked him for his time, and was on my way.
The weather was cool enough, but at 60-ish mph its downright cold. As I approached my 50 mile limit I was ready for coffee and a reprieve from the wind. I found both at Mamma Jacks Cafe.I was to get more than just a fresh cup of java. I was blessed to meet Mamma Jack, who recently was named citizen of the year. Quiet and camera shy, it took some of my best Opie Taylor pleading to get her to pose for a picture. I wish I was 10 times the photographer I am. Only then would I have captured the kindness in her eyes. She pointed out the special table, one reserved for locals such as the bus driver, and I was given a hot tip that the best gossip is actually across the street at the barber shop. Local patrons joined in the discussion which moved from forgetfull husbands to raising kids. After a short while, I felt warm again. The chill had left my bones. I guess most would say it was the coffee, but I think it was something else Mamma Jack had given me. Something I am sure she has given countless others, something that got her named Citizen of the Year.
Navigating without a map is sure to take you places you have never been. My next stop was at an out of the way store for the purpose of getting a pen and some paper. Remembering 2 people wasn't that much of a challenge, but I was sure before long I would jumble some names or faces or places. Once inside, I had the pleasure of meeting a local hero, Dorothy. It seems that during the hurricane, Dorothy and her family rode out the storm in a church across the street, only to return to the store the very next day, to help others with needs. She said that they cut out a bar-b-q pit from underneath fallen trees, and started cooking. For weeks those that need food were able to come by for something to eat. Those that had anything, from beef to alligator, well, it went on the pit. She never once asked for money, she just wanted people to be taken care of. She showed me pictures as she described what it was like. Trying to put into words what the destruction of the storm looked like, she sayed simply.. it looked like Kansas. I laughed and said how ironic. She didnt understand my ADHD thinking until i emphasized... "Dorothy". She smiled. I guess what I loved so much about her was the fact she didnt see the enormity of her actions. It was just a part of who she is. I did get my pen and paper, but I also got a little more to write about, and I made a new friend.
As I wandered aimless down backroads I rode past a dozen or so young people enjoying the morning outside. I circled back, it was time to make a new friend. All the group was lively and outspoken, but one young man emerged as a kind of diplomat for the group. Peeper Dayz wanted to ride the bike. And yes, that is his legal, mom given, first and middle name. Peeper swore to me he doesnt drink, but somehow I felt my brother might take a dim view on these newly developing diplomatic negotiations. So Peeper posed with the bike and I said farewell. As I drove away I wondered what was going on in their minds, even back at the cafe... the barber shop. But my attention soon switched to the road ahead, and my next friend in the making.
There was alot of beauty on the road. Horses and cows... old homesites, rusted barns, and beautiful fields of newly emerging flowers. But I had vowed to take pictures of none of these. Where was I to find my next picture, my next friend. It was to be at a small church on a hilltop. As I turned the bike around and cautiously rode up the gravel drive I wondered who would be at the church, and what would it look like. Only one of these questions would be answered. The who, was indeed Pastor David. Curious to the rumbling noise outside, he came to investigate. Soon Pastor Dave was telling me about a 70 some odd year old man he knew from Louisiana that rode around on a candy apple red goldwing. I learned about the hisory behind the Bell that was displayed outside. We talked about the storm, the church, even his wifes love of flowers. It was getting late and I knew I had to leave, so I told him thanks, and to keep the faith, then I was on my way.
I pointed my bike down Hwy 190, and soon realized that there wasnt much for the next 25 miles except for 1 place, the Indian Reservation. Hmmmmmmm, how was I going to explain. For the next 11 miles I planned my icebreaker, but I was most apprehensive about this stop. I could only imagine that it would seem strange for someone to come around with camera in hand saying, hey.. sorry we stole your land from your fore fathers but could I get a picture of you for a keepsake just didnt have a nice ring to it. As I pulled into the reservation I drove up to the recreation center. I spoke with 2 kind young ladies who after a few minutes must have been at ease with me, and even perhaps slightly amused that someone would spend their day doing this sort of thing. I ended up visiting with the Tribal Security Force. And older man and younger lady were so patient to answer my questions and seem to enjoy the visit as much as I. They called for Craig on the radio, saying he would be willing to pose for a picture. I wondered if the young lady didnt want me to take the picture of her, because it might steal her soul or something... but it was probably more like a bad hair day, or just simply a tad shy. Craig was kind enough to pose by his truck, and kinder still to not lock me up for my possibly questionable story. They were all so kind to me, and even invited me back. I had secured another picture, another friend.
Now it was getting colder, and the skies were getting dark. As I headed to rodes that would lead me back home, I begin to feel the first drops of rain. The fun is over. For the next several miles, I wasnt thinking of new friends, just making it to a dry spot. About 24 miles I found that spot at a convenience store. I made a bee line to the coffee pot which I found to be empty, but the kind young lady offered my some cocoa mix for some hot chocolate. after 1 minute and 15 seconds of nuke time, the water was ready and I began to dry out as I sipped the hot chocolate. "D" was intrigued ty the thought of someone out in the rain collecting pictures, stories, and friends. She was kind enough to pose, and at 20 cents plus a nickel for the cup, the stop was definitely a bargain. I watched as several local customers came in. She is a self proclaimed "keep to herself" kind of person. But to the customers that happen by, she is the friend behind the counter, the face that wears the smile that always says welcome. I couldnt stay long. I feared the weather would worsen. So I said goodbye, and was on my way once more.
I thought I had actually met my friend quota for the day, and really did not relish in the fact of being in a downpour on a motorcycle. But before I could make it home, one more place intrigued me. On Hwy 105, there is a house that stands out. The house itself would go unnoticed, but for the statues that proliferate the front yard. Now in Texas, statues of cowboys, guns, and many animals is quite common. But to find statues such as these are quite uncommon. I walked up to the door and read... No Solicitors... Do Not Tresspass.... etc etc. OK, so now I question should I bother, when a man eases his way to the door, and asks what I need. I explain my love for statues, and can I take some pictures. I figure this is safer than my past approaches. He says that its fine, and tells me that the owner is bedriden and can no longer enjoy them. We visit for a while, and I still find myself amazed that someone that lives next to a trailer park and BAR-B-Q stand has beautiful statues in his yard. I take a moment to admire the beauty and think of the man, whos picture I will not have, but that I still somehow feel connected to.
My pictures never seem to convey the deep emotion that I feel. Its why I write so much, to augment what is lacking in the pictures. Today I took very simple pictures. But the stories behind them spins a tale that not even I can do justice to. Every day in our hurried lives we run in and out of stores, we speed up and down roads, passing others by, never knowing who is behind the faces we see but for a moment. Every day I hit the ground running, hardly ever looking back.Well, almost every day, but not today. Today, I made a few friends.
Contest Entry.. Portraits of Hearts and Stones
I pondered why is it I see so much life within these carvings from a rock; sometimes failing to uncover the humanity within our own human race. I wonder if an artist pours so much of themselves into their works, you can see it, feel it. That in there search for truth, discovery, they present a fixed fashion of a portion of themselves that others will see. As I studied an angel born from the imaginations of a creative mind, fashioned from stone by skilled hands and possessing a beauty that must have come from within the artist's own poetic soul. I was amazed, intrigued, and blessed by their creation.
Other times I have wondered about crowded streets. I pushed my way through busy avenues as life, or sometimes lifelessness went by. Passionless people, suffocated by a past that clung to them like strangling vines, they walk by. Going nowhere in flowing streams, masses that I couldn't number. I looked into their eyes, seeing nothing. What unpardonable deed stole their life, what disease of this world would harden their hearts?
Sometimes we are given a glimpse inside another. It is a moment in time when, despite the hurts of the past, we get to see deep within someone. Each exposure will either soften or harden the very soul of those we touch. I wonder if an artist can bring out such beauty fashioned from stone, what more could we do, shaping a heart with a loving touch.
Some people give of themselves; not because it is right, or required, but because it is within them to do. This contest is because one lady wanted something more, something better for us as a group. She has encouraged us, created this, and will be tasked with counting a tremendous amounts of votes, all for the sake of the good of the group. She instills a faith in humanity, and in the possibilities of what can be. All of this is because of a simple choice. Blizzard, I thank you. And I cast my votes to the one that created the best picture, without pressing the shutter. It's a picture of hope.
Hana Goes To Texas...
I made it to Texas ok, and on my first night there at Jeff's house, we sat on the tailgate of a pickup truck, looked at the moon, and drank hot coffee. After that, it was late and time to go to bed. Jeff's PJ's were real big on me, but very comfortable. So it was off with the lights and Sweet Dreams.
The next day we went outside and I got to meet Randy. Jeff taught me how to feed Randy and how to talk to him. He was a little squirrelly but, he and Jeff seem to communicate well. Randy started picking at me... and I told him that that tickles. We feed the birds then we decided to go driving.
Since I was in Texas, I wanted to see cowboys and horses and oil wells and millionaires. Jeff said we could go see the horses first. They came right to me when I called. I think the little one liked me most. After the horses we went on a picnic at the park. I got to go on a slide and we played hide and Seek. I was getting tired so we went back home.
I wanted to get online and see if any of my old friends were there. I miss surfer and busy and Mrs N and Lechar and John, but I always love making new friends.
I gotta go, but tomorrow I get to go to the Fire Station. See Ya Later.