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Tuesday, December 31, 2013


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


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


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


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."
Of course.  Like we wouldn't have figured that out.

Friday, December 27, 2013


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


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


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


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


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


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.


Oh, and happy birthday, Kristy.  Whatever.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


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


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


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


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


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


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.


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.


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


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

Me, too.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


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


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


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."


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

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


 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."
Sara, that's not why I gave you that book on bullying.  I just thought you might find it interesting.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


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


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


“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


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


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


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


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


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.


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


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


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."


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