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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Going

Year's end is neither an ending nor a beginning, but a going on,
with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.
~ Hal Borland
- - - - -
 
Today is a good day to reflect on what you have done well.  How you have helped others.  How you did things you didn't think you'd be able to do.  How you survived moments when you were afraid or unsure. 
 
Today is a good day to think about someone who made a difference.  Who has overcome struggles and challenges.  Who has succeeded despite the odds. 
 
Today is a good day to be grateful.  For what you have.  What you don't have - don't have to worry about or deal with. 
 
Today is a good day to thank someone for something.  Something for which they don't expect to be thanked. 
 
Today is a good day to be.
 
Know what other day is a good day to do those things?  Every day.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Rainbow

Love is like a unicorn with a rainbow for a horn.  
What I mean is it's rare, and you're lucky 
if you see it once or at the most twice, 
in a given week.
~ Jarod Kintz
- - - - -

I think it is awesome how water in the air makes a rainbow.  I love it.  

Wouldn't it be awesome if other things made bows, too?

Trainbow - would make waiting for a train to pass even more exciting.

Sprainbow - wouldn't stink so much if you hurt your ankle or wrist or whatever.

Brainbow - maybe cooler than a dangerous lightbulb over your head when you get an idea.

Inanebow - would make some people more interesting to listen to.

Quatrainbow - might inspire more people to write poetry.

Multigrainbow - healthy has never been so beautiful.

Mundanebow - would make repetition more interesting.

…  or would it?  Maybe it would make rainbows mundane.  

See.  Be careful what you wish for.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Magic


The world is full of magic things, waiting for our senses to grow sharper.
~ William Butler Yeats

- - - - -

We all have magic in us, but sometimes we are scared of it.  Or sometimes we are scared of the magic others have.  You dont' have to call it magic.  You can call it vision or dreams or inspiration or motivation or determination or self-awareness or crap.  All of those are true.  Some people really are full of crap.

However, to each his or her own, right?  We should not try to force our definitions or expectations on others.

For example, you should let your kids find their own way and discover their own magic.  You should not force your baby who wants to grow up to be a jazz pianist to become a doctor. You should not force your baby who wants to grow up to be an astronaut to become a shoe salesperson. You should not force your baby who wants to grow up to be a doll maker to become a circus clown. You should force your baby who wants to grow up to be a doll maker to do something else, naturally, but do NOT force him or her to be a circus clown.

 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Chronology

There is sometimes a peculiar confusion in the West that equates progress to whatever is recent or whatever is new, and it is time that we understood that progress has nothing to do with the chronology of an idea.
~ Barbara Amiel
- - - - -
 
My parents have taken to giving us checks at the holidays.  I won't say it is as a result of my not wanting any more Dolls from Around the World.  I will simply say I used to get a doll and now I get a check and this happened after I expressed I didn't want the dolls.
 
Anyway, this year when Erik, Kirk and I were there dad said, "If any of those checks are dated 1903 it's because the day I wrote them out was the 110th anniversary of the Wright Brother's first flight."
 
(pause)
 
Of course.  Like we wouldn't have figured that out.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Rainbow

We live in a rainbow of chaos.
~ Paul Cezanne
- - - - -

Apparently, when my parents die, Kirk wants all of the Noah's ark stuff in the front room.  Both he and my mother have stressed to me that he called dibs on that stuff.  Let me emphasize, it is a LOT of stuff.

I won't speak for Erik, but Mom and Kirk don't have to keep reiterating this to me.  I'm not going to fight him for the Noah's ark paraphernalia.  I suppose if they're really worried about it, though someone could draft a covenant of the arks.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Creation

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this: that a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed; but a thing created is loved before it exists.
~ Charles Dickens
- - - - -

I really like that quote.  It is true on a lot of different levels.  Spider webs might seem like creations to non-spiders, but likely are constructed by spiders as homes or traps.

Lots of homes can feel like traps and can feel constructed in the moment rather than created.  However, I would argue that we create our memories and experiences rather than simply constructing them.  And creating them can happen long after we aren't a part of them any longer.  In the moment of the initial experience, however, they can seem very different.

I think about growing up and now I feel like that is a well of stories.  There were times in the moment, however, that it felt like a trap.  I think that is simply a part of being young and having less control (allegedly) than we do as adults (allegedly).

The other night on the phone, Leslie and I were talking about our days.  Some days feel created and some days feel constructed - with that I most certainly concur.

Leslie:  My life is like a Charles Dickens novel.

Me:  Great Expectations?

Leslie:  No.  The effed up one.  (she didn't say effed.  I edited that in).

Me:  A Christmas Carol?

Leslie:  Bleak House.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Angel

We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.  
~Luciano de Crescenzo
- - - - -

This is the angel from the top of my parent's tree.  I can't remember if it is the exact one we had when I was growing up, but if not it is pretty similar.  I can't imagine that it is the exact same one.  I think that has probably disintegrated by now.  Turned to angel dust, if you will.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Snow

When I no longer thrill to the first snow of the season, I'll know I'm growing old.
~ Lady Bird Johnson
- - - - -

It is now winter.  Last year I posted the following on my Facebook page after our first big snowstorm.  These thoughts seemed worth re-sharing.  I think I would be a good meteorologist. 

Having read my Facebook newsfeed, the most common word right now is "thundersnow." A few thoughts:

* The word "thundersnow" is awesome. It sounds like the toughest weather ever other than "tornado of fire" or "screaming drought."

* Are we sure it was thunder AND snow and not just the sound of this gigantic amount of snow hitting the earth? More like "snow slamming" or "snowquakes" or "snow crashers?"

* If you grew up someplace where you had the occasional snow day, you never outgrow that feeling of "maybe school will be canceled today."

* I have that misleading inside voice saying, "Hey! It might be FUN to shovel a little snow." That feeling lasts about 2.5 minutes when actually in the process of shoveling.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Love

You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because 
reality is finally better than your dreams.
~ Dr. Seuss
- - - - -

I didn't get a lot of good photos of the "supermoon" this time around.  I guess it happens every year or year and a half, so I will have other opportunities.  I wonder where I will be and what I will be doing and whom I will be when the next one happens.  We'll see.  This is what I got this time around.

I love the quotation for this entry.  I love the idea of being so excited for life that you don't want to miss anything.  Like every day is Christmas Eve or the day before your birthday or the day before Thanksgiving (which is my favorite holiday) or the day before whatever is exciting for you.

I wonder if Santa Claus gets excited before any days of the year.  I would imagine he looks forward to Christmas, but it probably is kind of stressful.  Or maybe he gets excited for his birthday.  Or December 26th.

And I wonder if Santa and Mrs. Claus love each other with the kind of love Dr. Seuss described above.  I wonder what that courtship was like.  I wonder if Santa ever does parody songs for Mrs. Claus.  I bet his does.  I bet he did a rendition of "You Shook My Belly Like a Bowl Full of Jelly All Night Long."  Because I imagine that Santa is a pretty big Kiss fan.

I wonder and imagine a lot of things.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happiness

The first recipe for happiness is: avoid too lengthy meditation on the past.
~ Andre Maurois
- - - - -

I designed this People magazine cover after Kristy posted the above photo of herself and Kirk on her FB page and said that she wasn't sure that she had ever shared the photo with Kirk.  I said I didn't know they had ever been married and asked if it was before or after Kristy was on The View...  then I mentioned People magazine...  you see how the chain of events naturally fell into place.

For the record - to my knowledge - Kirk and Kristy have never been married and have never gone by the nickname "Kirkristy."  It would make a good story, though.  Or perhaps a Lifetime movie. 

Their love was never meant to last because of Kristy's deep, dark secret - which was that she secretly knew Kirk's deep, dark secret.  Love, tragedy, triumph and musical handpuppets were not enough to sustain this relationship. 

Some days when you have a rough day, the best thing you can do for yourself is t design a People magazine cover to make your brother and one of his best friends laugh.  But really, it isn't about them.  It is about YOU.  And the magazine made YOU laugh.  And your own happiness is what is most important because if you are happy, then the rest of the world can be happy, too.  If you are miserable than they rest of the world can go - blank - itself.

Kirk, that was a little Match Game '76 nod for you.  Since this post shouldn't be all about Kristy.  (pause)  Or you. 

It should be all about me. 

And there you have it.

(pause)

Oh, and happy birthday, Kristy.  Whatever.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Hope

Youth is the period in which a man can be hopeless.  The end of every episode is the end of the world.  But the power of hoping through everything, the knowledge that the soul survives its adventures, that great inspiration comes to the middle-aged.
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
- - - - -

A year ago today was when the Mayan calendar - allegedly - said the world would end.  It was - allegedly - incorrect.  We're still around as a people.  As a planet.  And what have we achieved in this "bonus year?"  Well, I don't know about you, but I got a LOT of laundry done.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Corner

If you leave the smallest corner of your head vacant for a moment, other people's opinions will rush in from all quarters.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -

Know what I don't like about reality TV and realtime news and stuff?  There isn't much creativity in it.  You just see it.  There's no storymaking or hidden meaning derived from a lot of what is out there.  Of course maybe that says more about the consumer of the information and entertainment than the producers.

That poem about Jack Horner in a corner sticking his thumb in a pie and pulling out a plum and what a good boy am I?  You know it? 

Well, allegedly that is about a guy who - smuggling property deeds to London took one of the deeds and claimed the manor on that deed as his own.  That is clever.  The plum is symbolic of the deed or the lead mines on the property and the pie is symbolic of nothing since there was actually a pie involved.

I like that stuff.  It's interesting.  I don't know if I would like plum pie or not.  I'd try it, though.  I liked my mom's plum preserves that one year.  Maybe we used to have a plum tree.  I don't remember now.

I don't remember what Jack being in the corner was about.  I don't remember what that represented.  But I am glad that when you're a kid and you get in trouble sometimes you get sent to the corner instead of the coroner.  I wouldn't want to stand around in time out by a coroner.  That would freak me out.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Thoughts

All intelligent thoughts have already been thought; what is necessary is only to try and think them again.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
- - - - -

In 2011 I gave Erik's kids gifts with the receipts attached.  They could keep the gifts or return them to get cash back.  I knew it would take a little more work to get what they wanted, but I thought it was hilarious.  In 2012 I gave them gift cards with stuff from my house that I didn't want anymore. I'm excited to see what I give them in 2013.

I know it doesn't seem like it, but I really do put a lot of thought into these things.  It's not necessarily productive thought, but the saying isn't, "It's the productive thought that counts," now is it?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Scary

Stuff that's hidden and murky and ambiguous is scary 
because you don't know what it does.
~ Jerry Garcia
- - - - -

I was looking at a house the other day and the woman asked what I did for a living.  I said that I worked in judicial affairs.  She said, "That sounds like you're scary."  I laughed and said that a lot of people said that.

I should have stared at her and just said, "I am."

We're all scary in some ways though, aren't we?  Even if we are just scary to ourselves because our inselves and outselves don't align.  And we are afraid our inselves will get out.  And then what would happen?  I mean if people were really permitted to be their genuine selves, what would the world come to?

I don't know.

But I'd rather we let out our inselves instead of our inner elves.  Because all those elves running around would be freaky.  Of course hidden elves are even freakier, yes?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Choices

But until a person can say deeply and honestly, "I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday," that person cannot say, "I choose otherwise."
~ Stephen R. Covey
- - - - -

We are faced with choices every day.  Each choice we make eliminates some options forever while simultaneously opening new doors.  Patterns of choices create patterns of results.  The sum total is our lived experience.  

I think it's good to reflect on the choices made and the options opened up and lost.  I think that we can learn a lot about ourselves by doing that kind of reflection.  We can learn not only about our past, but how our past has impacted our present and how the choices we make today create our individual futures.

I also find it beneficial to think about hypothetical choices.  For example, "Would you rather be a pot-head or a chick pot pie-head?  Or to have a chicken head?"  We can learn a lot about ourselves by answering these questions.  

We can also learn a lot about ourselves by the hypothetical choices we create for ourselves.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Duck

Wild ducks and tomorrow both come without calling.
~ Russian Proverb
- - - - -

The only thing I ever sold a a garage sale that I regret selling is the big rubber duck I used to have.  It really served no purpose.  I just liked it.  I like rubber ducks.  I liked that duck.  He had a little sailor hat, though most of the time I didn't have him wearing the hat.  

Even when the person went to buy it, I paused, but now it's gone.

And now that person puts it on display around the country.  Here it is in Pittsburgh.

(pause)

I'm just kidding.  That isn't my duck.  Mine wasn't quite that big.

I guess if it was meant to be mine, it will come back to me.  If not, it was never mine to begin with.

(pause)

Yes it was.  It was totally mine.  Damn you garage sale!

Thank goodness for the saying, "No giant duck?  Super good luck!"  Granted, I just made up that saying, but I'm pretty sure it will catch on.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Minimal

I am a minimalist.  I like saying the most with the least.
~ Bob Newhart
- - - - -

Me, too.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

World

The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.
~ Wallace Stevens
- - - - -
 
I'd like to travel more.  I love traveling.  I like seeing things and watching people and exploring.  I learn every time I go some place new.  I actually learn every time I go some place old, too.  I just don't always realize what I'm learning when I go to the same places.  Of course, I probably don't realize everything I have learned from new places right away, either.
 
The other person(s) with me can make a difference in what I learn, too.  Sometimes I learn that I don't really want to travel with them anymore.  Sometimes I learn that they bring good ideas or good snacks or good conversation.  Sometimes I learn to look at things differently than if it had been just me.  Sometimes I learn that I should let the other person drive since I get distracted by signs and animals and the sunrise and the sunset and all that stuff.  I mean all THE stuff.  All the stuff in the world is distracting to me.
 
Anyway, my point is that I like traveling.  I like learning and exploring.  But I'd rather travel around the world than through it.  I think you get burned up by lava if you travel through the world.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Quiet


My imagination functions much better when I don't have to speak to people.
~ Patricia Highsmith

- - - - -

I enjoy quiet moments.  I don't like noise.  I like quiet moments and quiet spaces.

I used to complain about the other kids being too loud in first grade.  I think I got in trouble once for yelling at them to be quiet.  I feel like maybe I even had to stand in the corner for that.

Later that year we realized the noise was bothering me because I was having headaches since I needed glasses.  

I still like quiet.  And I still like not having to stand in the corner, although I don't mind it too much if it's a quiet corner.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tacos

If God dwells inside us, like some people say, 
I sure hope he likes enchiladas because that's what He's getting!
~ Jack Handey
- - - - -

The other day Sara walked down the hall and said this quote.  Well, she started to say it and then and I finished it together.  I liked that.

I also like that I have a photo of a taco billboard with heaven as the backdrop.  I know that tacos and enchiladas are not the same thing.  However if God likes enchiladas, God probably also likes tacos, so it sort of works.  Plus I am not sure a restaurant named "Enjoyable Enchiladas" would be quite as successful from a marketing perspective as "Tasty Tacos."

(pause)

I wish I would have used this photo as my Happy New Year card.  It really is kind of spiritual.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Apologies

 A still apology is a second insult...  The injured party does not want to be compensated because he has been wronged; he wants to be healed because he has been hurt.
~ Gilbert K. Chesterton
- - - - -
When we were visiting Columbus and went to The Book Loft, they had different music playing in every room.  And there are a lot of rooms.  With a lot of books.  Leslie said it was a little overwhelming.  I like it.  It's like a maze and - no it's not "like" a maze.  It IS a maze.  Amazing, even.
Anyway, we went into the "self help" room and Brenda Lee was singing, "I'm Sorry." 
That may have been a random thing.  I really like to think it was planned.  Brilliantly planned.
Not only does the song fit with the genre of the books, but books themselves are a good way to say, "I'm sorry."  For example, giving someone a book on being a bully at work is a good way to say, "I'm sorry you're a jackass."
(pause)
Sara, that's not why I gave you that book on bullying.  I just thought you might find it interesting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Words

As we must account for every idle word,
so must we account for every idle silence.
~ Benjamin Franklin
- - - - -
 
I wonder if "dramatic paws" to a dog is the same thing as "jazz hands" to a human being.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Stars

Dwell on the beauty of life.  
Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.
~ Marcus Aurelius
- - - - -

I LOVE stars.  And the moon.  I like seeing them.  Watching them.  Staring at them.  I know a few constellations.  I like identifying the ones I know.  I like that everyone who can see and who has ever been able to see has been able to see the stars at some point.  Right?  Wouldn't that pretty much be true?

I love how they make us feel small and significant at the same time.  Or at least that is what they do for me. I feel small because the sky and the universe and everything that is - seen and not - is huge.  Maybe infinite.  Maybe not.

At the same time I feel significant because I get the opportunity to see them.  To see them for a moment.  And to appreciate that sort of connection I feel with the things big and distant and eternal.

And then, to see a falling star...  I really like that.  I have had a chance to see a few meteor showers.  I loved that.  It's a lot like fireworks.  Not as pattern-y, but similar.

Something to remember, though is that if you catch a falling star and put it in your pocket, you're going to get second- or third-degree burns.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Farming

“A farmer, as one of his farmer correspondents once wrote
to Liberty Hyde Bailey, is "a dispenser of the 'Mysteries of God.'"
~ Wendell Berry

- - - - -
I hope to have a farm sometime. I hope to grow things and tend to things and make my own food and have a barn cat who occasionally leaves a dead mouse on the front step. And I hope to have some nice trees. Maybe some fruit trees. I'd like a view of the sunset and live on a quiet dirt road where you can see people coming from a ways off.

I need to see them coming from a ways off since I will be naked.  It isn't a nudist farm or anything like that, I just don't think I have the skills to farm very well and I likely won't be able to afford clothes.  Though maybe once in a while I can get one of those free Co-op hats that my Grandpa Boettcher always had around.  But, realistically, that won't resolve my main concern.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Farm

Farming is a profession of hope.
~ Brian Brett
- - - - -
 
I had a Fisher Price Farm when I was a kid.  I liked it.  The farmer could sit on the fence.  And the cows looked sleepy.  Or maybe it was the horse that looked tired.  And there were chickens.  And a tractor and a trailer for the tractor.  As I recall, my focus was on livestock rather than cultivating crops.  Oh, there was a pig, too.
 
That's the kind of farm I'd like to have.  A simple farm with lots of animals.  And all of it made of colorful plastic.  Except I hope Erik doesn't chew my face off like he did some of the faces of the Fisher Price Farm Family.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Gifts

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness.
It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.
~ Mary Oliver
- - - - -

I don't want much for the holidays.  I mean, I want to be close to the people I love.  Even if I can't physically be with all of them, I'd like to feel closeness with them.

I would ask for world peace, but that seems a bit grandiose and - unfortunately - unlikely.

I think I would like it if we could literally have a day where literally no one literally used the word "literally."

I need a ladle.

I'd like an old metal breadbox.

I'd like A Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor (one of my favorites).

I do not want a pony.  Seriously, where would I keep it?

Mostly, I think I'd like the ladle.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

$.05

If I had a nickel for every time I said, "Why me?" I'd probably have said, "Why me?" more often.
~ Tom Wilson
- - - - -

Me: Can I borrow a nickel?

Sara: I don't think the words "borrow" and "nickel" should be used in the same sentence.

Me: I can give you five pennies.

Sara (rummaging): I don't need five pennies. (rummaging more) Here you go! Now you can say, "If I had five cents every time Sara gave me five cents!"

Me: Yes! "If I had five cents every time Sara gave me five cents, I'd have five cents!"


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Change

When you finally go back to your old home,
you find it wasn't the old home you missed,
but your childhood.
~ Sam Ewing
- - - - -
 
Things change.  Places change.  We change.  Others change.  Language changes.  Memories change.
 
Change is good.  Change is freedom.  Change is scary.
 
Sometimes we can understand - or at least make our own meaning - about why things change.  Sometimes we can't really understand the changes in our world.  And not being able to understand adds mystery and opportunity as well as anxiety to our lives.  Two sides of the coin.  Wait, I listed three things.  Three sides to the weird-shaped coin.
 
Anyway, the other day Leslie and I were watching the news.  They were reporting on a home invasion in the Pittsburgh area.
 
Me:  When did they start calling them "home invasions?"
 
LL:  What did they used to call them?
 
Me:  I don't know...  "Breaking and entering?"
 
LL:  I'm not sure.  It's like how they used to call stewardesses "stewardesses."
 
Yes.  Yes it is a LOT like that.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Horse

It is not enough for a man to know how to ride;
He must know how to fall.
~ Mexican Proverb
- - - - -
 
I like horses.  From a distance.  I don't like them too up close.  Well, actually I don't mind them up close as long as they don't bite or step on me.  I think they are nice looking animals.  And I have heard that they are smart.
 
When I was a kid, one time we were at my aunt and uncle's house.  I got on a horse without a saddle.  My cousin Tamara slapped the horse on the butt and it took off.  It took off and I fell off.  I didn't like that last part so much.
 
I guess I knew how to fall.  Or, I didn't really know how to fall.  It just came naturally.  Almost like there was some hidden force pulling me to the ground. 
 
I wasn't angry at the horse.  I wasn't very happy with my cousin.  I think we all learned a very valuable lesson.  I learned that horses are easily slippery-off-of.  The horse learned that I am easily slippery-off.  My cousin learned that if you slap a horse that I am sitting on, I'm not going to be very happy.

(pause)

Maybe those aren't really valuable lessons.  Especially since I think we all knew each of those things before the incident.

Sometimes stuff just happens and there isn't a whole lot to learn from it.

Sometimes you just fall off a horse.
 
 
 



Monday, December 2, 2013

Windmills

Demasiada cordura puede ser la peor de las locuras,
ver la vida como es y no como debería de ser.
~ Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
- - - - -
 
I love windmills.  I'm not sure why anyone would fight them.  They sort of highlight the wind - which in and of itself isn't visible.  You can see what it does, but not the wind itself.  It's invisible.  Unless there is a lot of dirt in it.  Or a cow.  Or a woman on a bike.  But then you have bigger things to worry about (other than not being able to see the wind) because not only are you in a tornado, you're going to Oz.  And it's not really like how they portray it in the movies.  But even if it was - human beings have a pretty intense and natural fear of scary-looking flying monkeys.  It's not well documented, but you don't have to document things you know to be true.  Like that wind exists.  And flying monkeys are scary. 
 
There are some people who think other things are true without having any evidence.  If I don't agree with them, then they really ought to get some evidence.  I mean, seriously, am I just supposed to take them at their word?


Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stories

Some birds are not meant to be caged, that's all. Their feathers are too bright, their songs too sweet and wild. So you let them go, or when you open the cage to feed them they somehow fly out past you. And the part of you that knows it was wrong to imprison them in the first place rejoices, but still, the place where you live is that much more drab and empty for their departure.
~ Stephen King
- - - - -

I like that quote.  It is from "The Shawshank Redemption."  I think that all birds - like all people - have something special to offer.  Their lives can be told in a series of stories.  There probably is a single great theme to most peoples' stories.  An undercurrent or overarching idea - one that ties a person's whole life together.

Maybe we know - on some level - what that theme is in our own lives.  Maybe we never know.  Maybe no one ever knows until a person is gone what the message of his or her life was.

But maybe some are evident.

In a way it doesn't matter if we know a story or not.  We always make up our own, don't we?  Like in the image above.  What is that about?  Is there a story for the bird or is the fact that I constructed this image - does that make whatever this means a part of my story?

"Did you hear about that chick who tried to steal the state trooper's vehicle?"

"Yeah.  That was Tippi.  She was always destined to be a jailbird."

(pause)

So, I don't think you learn anything about me at all from this.  You just learn a little bit about that bird.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Egg

I'm youth, I'm joy, I'm a little bird that has broken out of the egg.
~ James M. Barrie
- - - - -
 
People are like eggs.  Fragile on the outside.  Gooey and slimy on the inside.  And we have to be careful with people.  The can be damaged if you let them down too harshly or too suddenly or too often.  They can travel in dozens.  They might look like they hold up just fine in hot water, but after going through that, they are forever changed.
 
And there are all different types of people with different sensitivites - different levels of pressure they can take before they crack.
 
As an example, if you have a friend who hates vegans and makes fun of them, there are a couple of considerations.  Your friend might have his own issues that he is targeting vegans, AND vegans can be hurt by what your friend says.  You can be a part of the solution or a part of the problem.  If you try, you can deescalate the situation.  If you don't or if you join in the mockery, you can make it worse.
 
Basically, never egg on a person who hates vegans.  

Friday, November 29, 2013

Farm

The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.
~ Masanobu Fukuoka
- - - - -
 
I love farms.  I love barns and crops and tractors and farm animals.  I remember when I was a kid and we would go to the farm where my grandparents' lived.  I loved it there.  There was so much to explore and things to do.  Some things I probably wasn't supposed to do - like "herding" the pigs in and out of the barn or shooting out remnants of already broken glass from barn windows.  I got in trouble sometimes.
 
I think I probably learned a lot there.  About land and animals and hard work and what it means to care for something - the time it takes, the energy, the dedication. 
 
I liked the animals the best.  Sometimes there were pigs (as I mentioned).  I remember a couple of little horses.  There were always chickens.  A dog.  Occasionally a cat. Maybe cows a time or two. 
 
I know that there weren't any sheep there.  I don't know much about goats or sheep.  I know that wolves kill sheep.  And I know that we should be on the lookout for wolves in sheeps' clothing.  In the end, though, the joke is on the wolves because wool is really itchy. 

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks

If the only prayer you ever said in your life was,
"Thank you," that would suffice.
~ Meister Eckhart
- - - - -
A lot of people are doing 30 days of gratitude or 365 days of gratitude.  November and Thanksgiving are times of gratitude, I guess.  It's good to be thankful.  Why people put a day limit on gratitude is odd to me.  It seems like we should be consciously and intentionally grateful every day.  Multiple times ever day.
I love Thanksgiving because of the gratitudinal foundation.  I'm not sure gratitudinal is a word, but I would really appreciate it if it was.  Anyway, I think it's good to be thankful. 
I'm thankful for way more things than I can list.  I am thankful for farmers and corn and food - things important during Thanksgiving and the harvest celebrations.  I am thankful for family and friends.  I am thankful for a sense of humor - which is the only thing that has gotten me through some of the more difficult times.  I am thankful for love and creativity and harmony and the moments of Zen I think I might have accidentally experienced.
And I'm thankful that we won't be eating seed corn this holiday.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Worries

When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.
~ Winston Churchill
- - - - -
 
The other day Leslie and I were in a bookstore and I saw pizzas for sale by the cash register.  They were not refrigerated, nor were they cooked.  You took them home, assembled them and then cooked them.
 
Leslie:  What's wrong?
 
Me:  This.  This is wrong.
 
Leslie:  What do you mean?
 
Me:  It's not refrigerated.
 
Leslie:  It says it doesn't need to be refrigerated.
 
Me:  I know that.  It just seems wrong that we would create something like this and sell it and people would buy it and think that it constitutes a meal.  I can't imagine that it is very healthy.  It must be super-preservatived.
 
Leslie: (mumbles)
 
Me:  What?
 
Leslie:  (repeats herself - I still don't hear her)
 
Me:  One more time?
 
Leslie:  You worry too much.
 
Me:  (long pause)  I can't believe you said that.  And I really can't believe you repeated it three times!
 
You see, Leslie worries A LOT.  So much so that I bolded, capitalized and underlined "a lot" in the previous sentence.  She has a lot going on. You could say we all do. And we all do. I'm just saying she has a lot.
 
She also is much more responsible than I am. I'm not saying I'm irresponsible. That might be the case, but I'm not saying it.
 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Becoming

Be what you are. 
This is the first step to becoming better than you are.
~ Julius Charles Hare
- - - - -

I have said before - after a lot of other people said it first - that you shouldn't judge based on appearances.  People, books, etc.  You also shouldn't judge fruits and vegetables based on appearances.  You don't know - you might like those things even if they look odd to you.

Also, gourds and pumpkins - per the photo above - are fruits.  Did you know that?  Fruits, I tell you!  Not vegetables.

Sometimes things are not what we expect.  We should not force things to become things they are not, though.  Like candy corn.  Forcing candy to become corn is wrong. Especially when the candy is so yucky.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Children

Remember that children, marriages and flower gardens 
reflect the kind of care they get.
~ H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
- - - - -
It's funny how we use language.  Bwaa ha ha ha!  Like that.  See what I did?  I tried to use language to convey laughter.  Anyway, that's not at all what I'm talking about.  I'm talking about how we add a word to a word and get very different meanings than the original word.

Let's take the word, "children" for example.  But let's not add just any word, let's add a plant word.  That might seem odd, until you think about how we compare children to plants all the time.  "He's growing like a weed," or "His dad grows weed," or "Let's call that kid 'broccoli boy!'"  Or how about this?:  How come "flower children" are peaceful and kind and easy-going and "children of the corn" are stereotyped very differently?  And why do flower children get the gentler image?  Do we like flowers more than corn?  What about corn flour - doesn't that throw the whole equation off?

Of course if "children of the corn" are scary, then "children of the candy corn" are terrifying.  And I'm not talking about toddlers on a sugar-high.  I'm talking about the fact that I hate candy corn.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Writing

Write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow.
~ Lawrence Clark Powell
- - - - -
 
 
If you want to, you can write me a letter.  I have to admit that there have been times I have been a phenomenal letter writer.  Now I am not so much of a good letter writer.  There are a few people to whom I write pretty regularly.  Well, maybe only one.  But I am more likely to write to you if you write to me first.
 
Which isn't really fair.  It's kind of obnoxious, to be honest.  At least I know it is true.  And I can admit it.  And I can try to do better.

But I probably won't.  Well, maybe if you consider my blog posts as a letter to you, then I'm doing really well.
 
Hey.  How come you never write me?
 
You should start a blog and tell me that the blog posts are like a letter to me.
 
No, wait.  You don't need to do that.  We both know I won't probably read your blog.
 
I still like you, though.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Options

Wherever you are, be there totally.  If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it toally.  If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now.  Then accept the consequences.
~ Eckhart Tolle
- - - - -
I agree with this quote.  I would add that we should remember that not to choose is also to choose.  Inaction may be the action you decide upon.  For some people that works.  They are comfortable with - or reisgned to - the fact that there is "nothing they can do."  And I know I speak from a place of privilege and that not everyone has the options I have and I do not have the options that others might have.
What I think I mean to say is that we should each take responsibility for what we can control.  Like when I told my parents that I didn't want to continue collecting "Dolls from Around the World."  And they agreed to go ahead and keep getting me one each year for Christmas.

Those days have passed.  I don't blame my parents for encouraging me to learn about the world.  I blame them for not knowing me at all.  My resistance to dolls from around the world might explain my lack of geographical acumen. 

It's my parents' fault.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Pumpkin

I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion.
~ Henry David Thoreau
- - - - -
 
I totally understand what HDT was talking about.  I don't like to be crowded.  I really hate it when people walk to close behind me.  WHY do they do that?  I don't like to share chairs with hardly anyone.  I don't like being crowded.
 
Plus a velvet cushion is probably all precious and stuff and people get mad if you spill on it or have muddy dungarees.  Or dungarees covered in dung.  Or dungeroos - which, I think, are Underoos covered in dung.  I'm not sure.
 
But...  Actually, butt - I would not want to sit on the pointy up part of the pumpkin.  If that was my only option, I'd probably rather sit on a crowded cushion.  But not next to those poopy pants people.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Door

I was the kid next door's imaginary friend.
~ Emo Phillips


- - - - -

I think every kid should have a kid next door.  It's good to have a friend.  Siblings are fine, but you're sort of stuck with them.  I think friends REALLY help you figure out how to navigate conflict.  They help you decide what is important and what you are willing to let go of.

Kids who have a mean old lady next door have a different kind of experience.  A mean old lady can help you figure out how to navigate conflict.  They help you decide what is important and...

Wait a minute. 

I guess what I mean to say is that kids shouldn't live next to an empty lot.  If they do, the other kids might gather there and say it's THEIR lot.  Then the kid will have to figure out how to navigate...

Hm.

I guess it doesn't matter what a kid lives next door to.  I just hope they don't live next door to me.  I don't need to live next door to kids with all these conflicts. 

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Pretending

Be careful what you pretend to be because you are what you pretend to be.
~ Kurt Vonnegut
- - - - -

I like this quote.  I don't believe it exactly literally, but I believe it sortofally.  Like, I don't think that because I have a colleague who believes he is Batman that he really IS Batman.  But I think that maybe he makes his decisions with a focus on justice.  Which seems to fit with his career path.

I also am pretty sure he has a secret lair because we can never find him when we need him unless we shine a bright light in the sky - which is tricky since most of the times we need him are during the day.

Also, he is clever like Batman.  (see aforementioned bright light / daylight observation).


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spirit

Any landscape is a condition of the human spirit.
~ Henri Frederic Amiel
- - - - -

I love the world.  It scares and excites and intimidates and engages me.  It is huge and minuscule at the same time.  It is overwhelming and comforting.  Sometimes we miss too much of it because we rush through it and see it as a series of obstacles - or worse - patterns.  We don't see the exceptional only the anticipated.  Other times we become overwhelmed because it is too huge and there is nothing we can do to control it.  But changing the world and controlling it are different things, and we change the world every day that we are in it.  Every one of us changes it every day just by being present in the world and exerting our will and our spirit and our influence.

Sometimes the sum total is a positive change.  Sometimes it is a negative change.  The beauty of it all is that in the next day - actually in the next moment - we get a chance to make more positive changes.  Our influence is a total of the moments we live.  The moments we show kindness or choose to hurt.  The moments we share love or share hate.  The moments we give or we take.

Every moment is important.  But not precious.  Because the disproportionately large eyes of the Precious Moments creatures kind of weird me out sometimes.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Travels

The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he has come to see.
~ G.K. Chesterton
- - - - -

I was out driving in eastern Iowa and I came across a sign for a historic "Stagecoach Inn."  I drove to the Stagecoach Inn and a woman and the little girl in this picture were carrying wood into the inn.  The woman said, "Are you here for the Halloween thing?"  I looked at her unsurely.  She then asked, "Are you here to see the inn?"  I said that I was if it wasn't inconvenient.  "Well, we have to leave after we bring in the wood, but you can look around."

The girl put down her two logs and immediately began giving me a tour.  There were pieces of candy and Halloween-themed pencils sitting out.  She grabbed a pencil and used it to drum on the artifacts in the Stagecoach Inn as we walked through.  At one point she tried to sharpen her pencil in what looked to be an old meat grinder.

"Is it okay to go upstairs?" I asked.

"It's okay as long as they don't have rooms roped off with signs that say not to go in there."  She said.  She looked at the stairs and then bolted up them, "And I don't see no signs!"

I followed her around.  I asked questions about the inn - how old was it?  Who used to run it?  How long had it been a museum?  She didn't know the answers to any of my questions.

So then I started to pretend like I knew something about what we were seeing - what things had been used for, why the house was built the way it was - things I really knew nothing about.

Then we came to a room and she went into a crawlspace and turned on a hidden light.

"This," she said in a whispery voice, "This is where the children hid when the Indians came."  She went on to point out where they had kept food and toys.  I asked what tribe of Indians came and why they came and why weren't the people at the inn and the Indians friends.

She looked at me for a moment and then said, "See where they hid?  The children hid in here."

I realized that either the story was too painful for her to tell or she didn't know it.  I suspected the latter.

When we were done inside, I walked around outside.  There was an outhouse and I asked her, "So what is that little building for?"  She motioned for me to step closer.  I did.  She whispered, "That's where they would poop."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Town

If the Frieze Art Fair ever catches on, I imagine two great things happening.  First, we will once again have a huge art fair in town that isn't too annoying to go to.  More importantly, Frieze may finally show New Yorkers that we can cross our own waters for visual culture. That would change everything.
~ Jerry Saltz
- - - - -

I was looking for a quote about towns.  Then I saw this.  And I swore it said, "If the Frieze Air Fart ever catches on..."  And I tried to imagine what a Frieze Air Fart was.  And when I imagined two great things happening, neither of them had anything to do with art.

Then I re-read it.

I'm glad there is no Frieze Air Fart.  Or Freeze Air Fart.  You'd think they would make for good pranks, but I bet once you get pranked with a Freeze Air Fart the smell of that never really gets out of your nose.




If the Frieze Art Fair catches on, I imagine at least two great things happening. First, we will once again have a huge art fair in town that isn't too annoying to go to. More importantly, Frieze may finally show New Yorkers that we can cross our own waters for visual culture. That would change everything.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/jerrysaltz489517.html#bii4KjzpCXehmXe1.99

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Fear

The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, 
and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.
~ William Shakespeare
- - - - -

I believe that fear of the unknown probably is the strongest kind of fear.  I think that we make up horrific tales in anticipation of events - most of which are unlikely to occur.  We worry about things - "could be" things and "what if" things and "might be" things.  

And worry is a waste of time - though you can successfully do that and do other things at the same time.  I don't believe in multitasking, but I guess you can worry and drive or worry and run or worry and look under the bed simultaneously.  Of course that means you aren't worrying or driving / running / looking under the bed as effectively as you would be if you did those things separately.

Now, I do not believe that fear of the unknown is the oldest fear.  I think the oldest fear is fear of crumbs in pockets or drawers.  I hate that.



Friday, November 15, 2013

Gross

Love is a gross exaggeration of the difference between one 
person and everybody else.
~ George Bernard Shaw
- - - - -

People are grossed out by different things.  Some people are grossed out by love, George Bernard Shaw!  Some people are grossed out by people vomiting.  Some people are grossed out by public displays of affection.  Some people are grossed out by public displays of infection.  

My point is that we are different.  We like different things and we are bothered, disturbed and grossed out by different things.  That is what makes the world interesting and allows for the unexpected.  Difference is good.  Well, difference with RESPECT is good.  Difference makes us richer and more dynamic as individuals and as a culture.

For example, the woman in the movie theater restroom was grossed out because one of the toilets wasn't flushed.  I, on the other hand, was grossed out because she didn't wash her hands after she went to the bathroom.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Language

All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language
until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.
~ Robert Louis Stevenson
- - - - -

I think that people allow themselves to be too constrained by language.  Some things go beyond the words we know or the words which already exist.  It's okay to take language further.  Of course, when we do this - like anytime someone does something new - others might not be ready.  They might be afraid or intimidated.  

This happens to me a lot.  People are afraid of the new ideas and words I make up.  I give them space to be afraid.  I don't want to hurt or overwhelm them.

Example...

Me:  Jackerwobby?
LL:  Jackerwobby?  And you haven't even been drinking.

See?  My language went further than CS Lewis took it.  

Also, I have no idea what I was talking about.  I mean, what the context was of this exchange.  

But does that scare me?  Am I afraid of the new language I seem to have claimed but now have forgotten?

No.  I'm not scared of that.  I'm scared of dolls that come to life when you're asleep.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

House

The ornament of a house is the friends who frequent it.
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
- - - - -

When I see abandoned houses, I wonder if anyone ever loved them.  And if someone loved them once, why didn't someone love them next?  How did they come to be empty and falling down?

Or maybe no one ever loved them, but just lived them.  Or survived them.  Some homes have dark stories.  Others have two or three stories.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Seasons

Love the trees until their leaves fall off, 
then encourage them to try again next year.
~ Chad Sugg
- - - - -

I like that things change with the seasons.  I have lived places where the seasons aren't as visible as here in Iowa.  I like that the leaves change.  The leaves fall.  The leaves get buried under snow.  The leaves spring from the trees again.  The leaves provide shade in the summer.  The leaves fall.  The leaves get buried under snow.  The leaves spring from the trees again.  The leaves provide shade in the summer.

You get the idea.

But I also love the other changes during the seasons.  The stuff they sell in Target changes with the seasons.  The clothes people wear change with the seasons.  The foods we eat and the drinks we drink change with the seasons.  We anticipate those things.

Like the other day, I was having a meeting with Sara at The Hub.  She said, "If they have apple cider, I'm gonna get it.  I bet they don't,, but if they do, it will make me so happy."

I said, "Okay.  But if they have banana cider, don't get it because I bet it's blecchy."

They had apple cider.  She was so happy.

I love fall.