Living - and already savoring - the Adventures across the backroads of western Idaho and eastern Oregon!

27 January 2011

Love the Wintertime yet?

O Winter, ruler of the inverted year,
Thy scattered hair with sleet like ashes filled,

Thy breath congealed upon they lips, thy cheeks

Fringed with beard made white with

other snows . . . I love thee.

–William Cowper (1731–1800)

25 January 2011

Nightmares and Dreams that come true

Picture this: you have one day to live. You wake up in the morning and know that it’s Exit Stage Left at midnight. You just know it! At least that’s what the Voice in your Head says; whether you believe that to be God speaking, or simple mind-numbing intuition, is up to you.

What do you do? Tell me. And plz tell me if I may share that anonymously in a future blog post?

What would TMM do? (Hmm, it’s supposed to be YOUR last day, so do my plans really matter?) For the sake of chatting, I’ll say that I guess I’d quickly get affairs in order (max 60 minutes), then spend a homey day with my family. Guess I’d have to tell Michele since I can’t ever trick her. Have my daughter take the day off of school, but without telling my her why – as if she’d question it... Give boss my regrets and tell her tomorrow will be the most productive day she’ll ever get from me. Drive down near the commuter bus stop and give a couple of my ‘favorite’ drivers a rather unkind gesture that says ‘won’t miss riding with ya, buddy!’

Eat breakfast at home, where the food tastes the best. Take a walk in the forest. Call MD Office of Taxation and tell their answering machine what non-profit groups really think about them (they don’t talk to us low-life taxpayers). Call my family of course, except Mom, ostensibly just to say Hi. Get down on all fours with the dogs and dig a big new hole. Bust up the trashcan before the garbage guys do it for me.

Buy lunch stuff -- Johnsonville brats and also cole slaw & potato salad to mix up. Have lunch, with deviled eggs in the afternoon. Play board games – losing on purpose - and watch the Willy Wonka movie. Listen to a few good songs LOUDLY –one each from at least Zep, Rush, Neil, Rod Stewart, Mellencamp, Etheridge and Bruce Cockburn. While dervishly playing air guitar and singing horribly out of tune. Apologize to dogs. Go to the nearby 4-way stop and hand out 10-spots to strangers with my best wishes.

Dinner out at the Japanese Steakhouse with me tossing firecrackers into the grill. An evening walk. Toss firecrackers at those dogs that yap at all hours. Call my mom now to thank her for putting up with me (if I call too early she’d be on to me). Sweet nothings & somethings to Michele. Kiss AlliGirl/hug the J-Boy goodnight. Then sleep peacefully.

Sayonara, my love! … and await her over the horizon.

22 January 2011

40,000 Headmen

I could go on for hours about the difficulties and veritable chaos of child-rearing and why it may better ton contract it out, but let’s not go there, eh? Is it just me who feels we parents ought to be entitled to some familial silence, glorious weeks when not a single child is having some crisis or inexplicable melt-down. Disclaimer: I am so proud of our two young men (24 & 20) and their choices. The inevitable mini-crises often aren’t of their intentional making, so maybe we together can blink all the bad stuff away?

[Topic shift… I think the subject line, a famous song by Traffic, refers to executioners. ]

Back to the first topic… OK, TMM, what up with this twist? Simple. All these ‘problems of youth’ still don’t make me think being a parent is an ongoing letdown, though maybe a beautiful letdown in that I usually see the pieces of a bad situation picked up and things improve. Ever match your kids’ problems with those of others and make a judgment? I do and always feel guilty. Wonder if that’s normal? Or that sometimes the eventual successes are almost worth the aggravation? See - even a bunch of headmen wouldn’t scare me away from parenting. Great : I’ve gotten so spooled up that I’ve redefined what a convoluted paragraph looks like. [sigh] Time for purgatory in dailywritingtips.com

Maybe a “Mail Order Dad” would be more efficient. But parenting is all about stumbling through things (like what upsets an 11-yr-old girl…the alignment of the stars?) and recovering to get it done right, I guess. This train of thought just crashed into Pointless Introspection Canyon, so Au revoir! for today.

20 January 2011

Say you’re free!

Here’s a wonderful quote from a simply wonderful book. First, the book:

Three Cups of Tea

- About the adventures of Greg Mortenson, a Tanzanian-born son of Lutheran missionaries who failed to ascend the legendary K2 mountain so instead put his life to good use

- A real-life story about building schools, deep friendships, Muslim-Christian trust in Pakistan, and true love. Beginning in 1993, he somehow perseveres through the tumultuous days of 9/11 and today continues his work in northern Afghanistan, a land of serous deprivation

- “A testament to the power of the humanitarian spirit” … that’s a slip cover quote which

really understates the stunning power of Greg’s life’s mission

Call to Action:

Have you ever read a book that inspired you to do something, something that you wanted to run down the road to share with your BFF? Or, like my dear friend Liz, drop it into the mail with a note that says, “Read me now!”?

Read the book! And then…

My challenge to you has several forks, depending on your passion:

· Write an email to your friends, talking up the book

· Bring it to work and display it on your desk

· Do like I plan on doing – buy a hardcover copy and donate it to your local library. You’ll get a smile from the Noble Librarian and your gift will be greatly multiplied in value…

· Join me on a road trip to one of his ‘local’ speaking events. March 24th at Old Dominion Univ./Norfolk/3.5 hours or April 7th/Frederick/1.5 hours, are the closest this year. They’re both mid-week evening gigs, I think. Cheap fun -- Join me!

18 January 2011

Double Agent of the Abwehr

Here’s a fascinating quote (at least I thought so) from Heinrich Bonhoeffer, the real-life man portrayed in the film Seven Years in Tibet. As a member of the WW2 German military intelligence organization Abwehr, he was an anti-Hitler member who also was an avowed pacifist and pastor. When he learned of the ongoing Nazi atrocities, he wrote,

“When a man takes guilt upon himself in responsibility, he imputes his guilt to himself and no one else. He answers for it … Before other men he is justified by dire necessity; before himself he is acquitted by his conscience, but before God he hopes only for grace.”

On the lighter side, it’s interesting how Hollywood casts actors in these biopics. They of course shockingly resemble the real-life person…

14 January 2011

A Must Read & View: "Matthew's Thorns"

I recently talked about the disappearance of noted blogger Arkansawyer and about the sad void his selfish devotion to his family left in our online lives. The nerve, getting his priorities straight. But, yea verily, he again has posted! HUZZAH! This is almost as exciting and gratifying as potty-training your kid.

I sometimes at lunchtime use blogger.com's feature of randomly looking at others' blogs. Someday I'll compile for you a list of my fav's so far. But you can start with Arkansawyer's own blog, the model I emulate. If you'd like to take a trip down Literary Lane, pitstop at Epiphany Circle whilst meandering through a lush Kodachrome Cacophony of Sights, I suggest you peruse at least his latest posting. But don't stop there - bring lunch back to your PC and go to the right-side pane to check out his Deviant Art Gallery uploads and hike into Armadillo Creek! If you have comments, feel free to send them to me and I'll forward them.


13 January 2011

Bring me an Fbiism!

[Has he gone loony tunes on us? Again? So soon? Aren’t there med’s for this kinda thing?]

Negative, ghost riders, not crazy, I'm just misusing FBI as an acronym. My whimsical coworker, Michelle P, aka the OB High Priestess of Grammar, today shared with us two great things that I just HAD to pass on to you. Thanks, MP! Besides, who wants to constantly read my fluff anyway?

Let’s explore something meaty today…

1. Check out this heady website, one that appeals to grammar wonks everywhere: http://www.dailywritingtips.com/

2. The Difference between Acronyms and Initialism (paraphrased by Michelle from the website)

Most people know what an acronym is. But few are as familiar with term initialism, or of an important distinction between the two. {TMM note: the red lines on my screen indicate apparently even MS Word’s grammar checker isn’t familiar with it!}

An acronym is an initial abbreviation that can be pronounced as a word, such as NASA or WASP. This term is also used to refer to a series of initials pronounced individually, such as FBI or TGIF, but the technical term is initialism. What’s the BFD (“big, fat deal,” though another word starting ‘with f is sometimes used)? The answer is the ‘period.’

Because acronyms like NASA are pronounced as words (“na-suh,” in this case), there’s no need to precede them with the definite article: You wouldn’t write “Budget cutbacks hit the NASA hard.” (Though the is essential if NASA is used as an adjective, as in “Budget cutbacks hit the NASA project hard.”)

But initialisms require the: “The FBI announced his capture several hours later.” That’s because the term is pronounced letter by letter: “eff-bee-eye.” (The only usage that omits the definite article is in a headline: “FBI Announces Suspect’s Capture.”)

Oh, and one more point, so to speak: Notice that no acronym or initialism is this post includes periods. They’re generally considered outdated and superfluous. Even two-letter forms like AM and PM, MD and RN, and BC and AD go without, though US stubbornly retains them in many publications.

11 January 2011

Blog Wars

From: JOSER //D5/1962/12
To: JOE PUBLIC //11/AL//
Info: ARKANSAWYER //Y4/1970//11/

U N C O N F I D E N T I A L //NO239//

SUBJ OPCON (Operational Condition) Blog Escalation and Smack-down {U}

RMKS/1 {U} Arkansawyer has left blogosphere. Estimated disappearance 10SEP10, 1225Z, approx. 122 calendar days without a post. Suspect likely hiding under an unknown pseudonym in Armadillo Creek. Previous alias include Hunky, Super Stud, Romeo and Huggy Bear.

2. {U} The mission: Draw Arkansawyer back into the fray. Obtain new blog posts. Use of deadly force IS NOT, we say again, NOT, authorized. Public chastisement however IS both authorized AND encouraged. Use ‘Implant Blue J on the Chest’ operational procedure. THREATCON BEWARE SNOWJOB is in effect for creek crossing and reading his stories. Wear boots.

3. {U} The variables:
A. Johnny: lives in Armadillo Creek. Known to eavesdrop on telephonic party lines. Treat as hostile local inhabitant who will hide Arkansawyer identity.

B. Mrs. Arkansawyer: an imposing force of reason. Able to see through his designs and crush the revolt with a merely furled eyebrow.

C. Mrs. TMM: whirling dervish of insight and power. Able to stop all familial members in tracks with a simple clearing of throat.

D. Beanz: wild magic incarnate. AKA Carlos. With a wry comment, able to throw all reason out the window and cause wacky dreaming to commence.

E. Chris Elliott, the Cabin Boy: the muse, the inspiration. Develop attack strategy to lure Cabin Boy and you will snare Arkansawyer.


10 January 2011

Op/Ed Piece: A few words on the shootings in Tucson

I know I said I wouldn't have any political rants in this blog and that's still true. What happened yesterday in Tucson, though, transcends daily politics and opens our eyes to the dangers of political discourse running amok or shutting down.

I'd like to share a wonderful insight with you from probably an unlikely source: Peter King's Monday Morning QB column. Scroll to the bottom of the webpage and look for the subject line above that section. And pray for the victims, people out there over the weekend just trying to do the right thing for public service:


05 January 2011

One Foot In, One to Go

If I don’t know by now, just over the cusp of Year 48, will I ever figure out what I’ll be when I grow up?

Yes, Arkansawyer, that DOES assume I’ll grow up. Got a problem with that?!

And, no, none of your so-called ‘evidence’ is admissible in the blogosphere.

Reminds me of a tune, ‘Open Hearts and Doors,’ by Antigone Rising. I know where my heart wants to run but those doors , for good reason, are closed. Dreamers like me ought not be let out of the Pay the Bills corral without strict adult supervision. Though I’m usually right [editorial pause to curse the bumpy road – I might get bruised fingertips when they ricochet off the keypad], I don’t brag or let it affect my glass-half-full outlook.

[sigh] Arkansawyer, can you please stop snickering? You’re starting to bother me.

Remember the Man Code – we always can brag about big things…

And we never admit that one’s beloved, adorable and truly brilliant spouse is less than 100% right, eh? Especially as involves career decisions or flighty plans to set up house on some wind-strewn barren Montana ranch and watch the clouds skim by. D**n, that sounds kinda cool-i-o right now, this being Wednesday.

If you have Lasagna Night or Taco Tuesday, well, Lee and I have Wicked Wednesdays. If you’ve ever read Where the Wild Things Are, picture Lee and I man-prancing through the dreamscape of what is and what should never be. Why grow up when we can plan, change, convolute, dramatize and demolish several air guitar competition solo-worthy dream trips/homes/tree forts/business models over a glass of wine each week? Emotional adolescence in two guys over 45 is such an underappreciated and truly sad spectacular waste of potential but such d***ned fun!!

I wonder. Do you? Why not? When Lee and I awaken on the shoreline of Moosehead Lake, in the central highlands of Maine, and cast off in our kayaks, what flavor will the emotions of adventure be? My heart is there but is that door open?

I wonder. And dream…

04 January 2011

“Little by Little, One Travels Far”

This is a quote by our esteemed Professor, none other than JRR Tolkien.

Yesterday would have been his 118th birthday, old even by hobbit reckoning as I’m sure Bilbo recently has been telling him. I don’t have anything witty or insightful to offer you today so let’s mull over another quote:

Still round the corner

there may wait

a new road or

a secret gate;

and though I oft

have passed them by,

a day will come

at last when I

shall take the hidden

paths that run

west of the moon,

east of the sun.

J.R.R. Tolkien

03 January 2011

Life in a Bottle

Funny what I could say about last week’s birthday-day (Dec. 28). Mind-boggling if I tried to stuff the hustle-and-stumbling bustle into a message in a bottle. Ever have a day where it’s busy, you’re covering for others on vacation, and it’s the little things that trip you up? TMM is glad to say my day was only annoying, not really full of stressful/lasting problems, but I surely could do without those Just-Being-Human days. Who has time to make mistakes – they cause more work and also unneeded questions that derail my Web surfing and daydreaming …

Birthdays are so weird. I’m supposed to celebrate being older? Hopefully not, but instead capturing in my mind’s eye the beauty that is our children, the literal beauty of my wife in all her life’s lenses (hey, honey, welcome to my blog!), and the intangible appeal of the dreamy contrails crossing the auburn aura of the early sunset. I have so much to celebrate, esp. the biweekly paycheck and feeling of worthwhile contribution at work. Yes, it’s true -- I don’t count myself in the 81% of Yahoo-polled folks who long for another job.

My message in the bottle is one of hope, encouragement to others and a candid reflection that this 48-year journey keeps leading me across those unsought woods of adventures and into the paths of each of you. That's a good thing. The French-Canadian singer I recently mentioned, Bruce Cockburn, well sums up my birthday’s vertigo of emotions:

We are children of the river we’ve named Existence …

Dreaming is a state of mind, can’t you see -

If we can sing with the wind song

Chant with the thunder

Play upon the lightning

Melodies of wonder…

Life Will Open