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

27 December 2012

On the Cusp of 50, a Smile

So, I got hit by the flu on Sunday the 16th, so spent most of that week either on sick leave or feeling brain-dead.  Then tonight I took one of our dogs for a walk and WHAM!, my awareness of the world around me reawakens.  I’ll be 50 in six hours!!
I don’t know where to start with the appreciation, insights and thanks over my last fifty annum.  Tonight’s hour-long dog walk, under a startling full moon rising above my distant house, slowly etched the answer into me.  The journey started long ago with my parents and the credit rightfully goes to them – and the blame for anything not exemplary falls on me.
I won’t pretend tonight to any eloquence of insight or language.  We all can, and do, thank our parents (though maybe often enough?), so please indulge me on this short list of things oft appreciated over 50 years but not shared:
·         Meshing that genealogy!  Mom is one-half Dutch and one-half German, a German ‘refugee child’ that post-WW2, with its European angers and barbed wire fences, caused to be raised far from either family’s home grounds.  Charming, smart and thoughtful.  Dad is pure Puerto Rican – a man’s man who likes a challenge and has a mind that won’t stop.  I am the product of their devotion and I hope the best of both rubbed off on me.
·         Crabbing from a dock in Delaware.  When you’re a child, it’s neat and simple fun.  When you’re my age and never did so with your own now-adult children, you appreciate that it maybe wasn’t so simple.
·         Summer-camping along the Atlantic seacoast of the Netherlands.  Sun, sand, dunes and adventures on a scale that I only recently could appreciate.
·         Recycling.  Seriously – recycling!  In northern Virginia, I was encouraged as a young teen to pick up cans and bottles when I was manically bicycling around the area.  A good use for my time and man, did I make some change in my free time!  I now am an ardent conservationist, a testament to that fledgling habit of taking care of the world right around me.
·         Welcoming me home during college.  The doors were open, even though I was such a pain in the butt and too self-absorbed to be much fun.  But I looked forward to those down days in our living room, where the world was quiet and made more sense.
·         Sharing the stereo.  I was of the vintage Led Zeppelin era.  Talk about culture shock for my parents with their more refined tastes of Elvis, Motown and Marty Robbins.  But they indulged me – and yesterday’s Kennedy Center Awards show featuring Zep proves my life-shaping affinity for their music wasn’t all such a bad thing.
·         See the world!  That lesson was given by parents who walked-the-talk.  After college, Michele and I left the Catskills for reasons that pushed us past the beauty around us.  As I sit and stroll around western Idaho tonight, I’d say the lesson was well-learned and the right one.
I see.  I feel.  I walk and think and talk.  I turn 50.  And my rich and interesting childhood was the launching point for all of this.  Thank you, Mom and Dad, for all those intangible things you lived and shared with us kids, ones that made me what I am today.  Wow, just wow …

22 November 2012

Moving into Ludicrous Speed

Happy T-Day to everyone!   And before I go back to my previously-written silly blog post, I send my prayers and strength go out to Terri and her family, who are at a hospice today spending deeply meaningful time with her grandmother.
After watching today's Macy’s parade, I feel thankful for several things.  Or maybe not as thankful but appreciating things in our world?
·         Parades that nicely mix the new and the old so all of us stayed glued to the tube
·         Even the worst NCAA 1-A (larger school) college teams get some primetime though bummer that it’s on a holiday (Idaho vs. New Mex State)
·         Coyotes running across your backyard in mid-afternoon (seriously, it happened to us, so having five acres may have unintended consequences)
·         Conversely, having numerous peregrine falcons and hawks always perched on our roadside fences and power poles – WOW!
·         Having nothing better to do than watching Spaceballs after the parade
·         Paying only $68 for registering our van — and that includes a $10 prepayment for unlimited admission to Idaho’s state parks in 2013
·         Long granite counters that mean ‘spreading out the spread’ is a no-brainer
·         Again having a Siamese Fighting Fish (beta), whom I’ve named Toomtam Jennarong
·         And, just having celebrated w/Michele our 28th ‘legal year,’ time that doesn’t count the 4.5 years of dating and engagement.  Wow, just wow, I am not worthy …
So, there you have it on a mid-40’s sparkly-clear day near the northern Rocky Mountains.  President Skroob, Lord Dark Helmet and all my friends on Planet Druidia send you our best wishes.  Don’t forget to take time to play with your dolls (or watch the Spaceballs movie and figure out what I’m talking about here)!
P.S.   Here’s another movie quote:  “ Push the Self-Destruct Button, but only if you really, really mean it”

31 October 2012

A Summer Afternoon in the Country

You know, living in Idaho isn’t much more unusual than suburban St Pete, FL, or exurban southern MD.  You hang out with a garrulous neighbor, have something supposedly important to do, and the next thing you know over an hour has passed doing ...  almost nothing.
Along the way, you make observations.  Here are some from the 3 weeks we spent in a rental house in Meridian, a town next to Boise:
·         Getting an old unused mower to work probably is NOT the best course of action when you can get a commercial crew to drop by, mow and cut, and leave promptly after spending only $20.  Talk about a comedy of futility just to get the small parcel in front of the rental house mowed!
·         The local ice cream truck is a Ford Econoline van, probably with FWD (four wheel-drive to you city folk) for those icy days.  And it keeps making its rounds with the d***’ed soundtrack going over and over and over.
·         Dropping into the house for just a few minutes can be the icing on an autumn cake.  I come inside to solicit Michele’s wisdom and advice (2 hubbie bonus points here), and the Cowboys~Ravens are at 6 seconds to go.  Cowpunks line up for a long 51-yard field goal, kick is away, and Cowpokes miss it.  Darn.  Have been unhappy with that Cowpatty franchise since the Super Bowl years, so please pardon the Snoopy Dance at their continued futility.  And, what’s not to love about Joe Flacco, from Audobon NJ and a star QB for the Fightin' Blue Hens at Univ. of Delaware? 
·         Bumper stickers are funny anywhere in the country.  Humor is in the mind of the beholder, so I won’t give any examples here.  I do appreciate still seeing the UU’s famous COEXIST stickers, too.
·         People here sometimes wear long-sleeved shirts with shorts.  Yes, but people I mean guys.  I wonder why that looks so wrong to me?  I must have zero fashion sense…

13 October 2012

Things that are glad. Truly glad.

Note:  Duhh … in the last blog, I forgot to first paste in the short section on items truly sad, like hungry children in our own overendowed country, cruelty to animals/pets who love us uncondtionally, ugly babies (I’m kidding, ok?!  ~ just seeing if you’re paying attention) and  urban sprawl that’s begets dull homogeneity and is sucking away our national character.
So, here’s a mixture of Glad items, both real and imagined by moi:
·         My friend Joni, who’s just endured her second nose operation.  No complaints or self-pity, nope, but instead a reply to my recent post that said, “Thank you for LIVING your LIFE!  It's magickal and I'm grateful, you share pieces of it, with me......” 
·         Happy little dogs, like our 3-month-old Daschie-poo/Doodle fella Charlie.  He’ll likely not get bigger than six pounds.  I’m glad he’s healthy, happy and has an active bladder that usually makes it through the night and finds the training paper as well.
·         Those folks who work on the historic train rides, like the Western MD Scenic Railway.  What an amazing gig.
·         Another friend – Ellen.  There isn’t enough of anything in our world that her faith in God and people won’t overcome.  A passionate power of quiet conviction to find the gladness among all the noisy threads tangling up our over-extended lives.
·         Having a VA certificate for house purchase.  No down payment.  We likes that…
·         Beater and Biter.  Those are the my names for our former neighbor’s yappie poodle thingees ; I think they disliked me immensely.  I don’t know why ~ don’t dogs like to celebrate Christmas with their own chocolate Ex Lax bar?  Anyway, THEY surely are glad not to see my face anymore…
·         Football Jose is both glad and bummed.  Glad I’m finally shelving my passion for the Buffalo Bills; I’ll instead glance at that erratic franchise from a cool distance.  But bummed that we won’t have Fox Sports Soccer network, so no direct rooting for the Arsenal Gunners in the English Premier League.  But … NFL Ticket!  Life really is good!
·         Lastly, I am glad.  Seriously.  It has been an amazing summertime of house renovation sweat, mental endurance our last few weeks in MD ,and dogged determination here to find The Right House.  I’m certainly glad to see my family actually prosper with the change of environ and the resulting upbeat moods.  Truly glad.

11 October 2012

Things that are sad. Truly sad.

·         Having the supposed standard cable package and NOT having the ability to watch, on even a dull Thursday night, this marquee football matchup:  Wayne State vs. Western Saginaw State.  Seriously, folks.  Forget about Thursday Night NFL football – are you kidding me?!

·         Scouring a furniture store – an Ashley Furniture store, the country’s largest furniture builder – and not taking the time to write down each of the nice leather sets we lounged on … “Ahh, we’ll just look them up online later on.”  HAH!  Go ahead, you think that will work online? 

·         How the Federal government partitions my head.  No, not during duty hours but during non-duty hours.  My person-centric medical care portfolio has gotten so bureaucratically partitioned that my poor partitioned head has spun dervishly into splatter-matter:
o   Medical:  area-based and you can only begin/end the premium payments through your employer’s HR office.  No, you cannot send in a check/online payment even if your account is behind, even if your coverage may be terminated due to HR ineptitude.
o   Dental:  that’s on a website run by government but you can’t figure out who participates, so just ask around
o   Vision:  same website as above but managed by a different set of administrative folks than Dental.  Different policies. 
o   Bottom whiny line:  stop breaking my head into pieces at such a cost each payday.  I can
do it fine my myself for free.

·         Having to race ahead of folks [disclaimer: me, today] just to get one car ahead of folks [disclaimer: a pissed off me, today] while entering an Interstate highway construction zone.  Can you say, “Mooor-on!”  And his Idaho license plate was matched with a window sticker lauding the driver’s adoration for the Boston Red Sox.  No more said.

·         People (like me) who watch shows like Extreme Homes because I’m not gutsy enough to move my family to Peru and enter a seven-year odyssey of building a natural stone house that’s blended in with nature.  That has stone slabs for bedframes.   OK, maybe the sad thing would be to actually think it’s worth doing?  That, my friends, is in the eye of the beholder and is the end of this odd rant against things that seriously, or frivolously, sadden me.  Feel free to toss me a zinger back if I instead should rejoice!

04 October 2012

Wheels on the Van go round and round

That’s what Idaho has felt like, though we’re happy to be off the treadmill our Maryland lives had become.  700+ miles alone while househunting our first two weeks here!  Having just replied to a couple of you via email, and thinking about what’s up in the new year, gets me to posting some new stuff.  That, and several of you have encouraged me to again write.
It’s interesting how you can shift your perspective by trying new ideas or shaking old ones around.  For example, Mrs. TMM has to deal with my rants about politics, esp. my feeling that the President’s role in managing day-to-day governmental ops is vastly overrated; he’s just one person whose guidance takes so long to filter into actual policies.  And where is the accountability on Congress to do its basic job – field a budget?  And, we reap what we sow when Congress is allowed to formulate budgets down to the program level, unlike many European countries where bureaucrats like me would translate an entire department’s funding into specific programmatic actions not subject to the vagaries of election cycles.  Pro’s and con’s, and I’m not advocating anything here, just looking at the issues from a different lenses!
Idaho and the West.  Much less controversial and more interesting to many of you?  I cannot believe we live in the land of Sonic and still have drive-in theaters here; that’s the benefit of such predictably dry and warm weather so much of the year, with nary a mosquito in sight.  And the Sonics’ ATM readers here are so polite – “Do you know your PIN?”  “Ahh, duhh, no, can I have it for free?!”  And they have ‘home-tending’ here, whereby a realtor can allow a buyer awaiting a home sale closure to stay dirt-cheap in a house that’s up for a short sale.  So, we’re paying but a fraction of the cost of a rental house and have a very simple lease whose term ends only when the bank sells this house (but we'll close on our own house Oct. 15).
My annual autumn sojourn to the C&O Canal trail is no more, to be replaced this year by simpler trips (and a short campout?!) to eastern Oregon’s national forests.  Oregon because we’ll live but twenty minutes from the state line.  In two hours flat, mostly along I-84 at 75 mph, we can arrive at the trails around 7,100-ft elevation Grande Ronde Lake or the superb fishing at Phillips Lake; or nearer to home, we can do see songbird and hawks capture-and-releases at the Idaho Bird Observatory.  Like DC and other cities, Boise has its own river walk and we hope to do a couple hours’ walk after Saturday’s observatory visit (then some slices of pizza nearby before heading home).
Oh, did I mention last weekend we did six hours round-trip drive to Craters of the Moon National Monument?  What a surreal and fascinating place to behold, something I highly recommend for anyone who’s in the area and interested in how our earth continues to form.  Windy but quiet, strange flora and even folks camping among the cinders underfoot.  Next year we’ll camp just to see what it’s like.
Enough pent-up thoughts for today as I type from bed on a sick leave day.  See – work is so interesting and family life so energized that I can’t find time to write in the evenings!  Be good to yourselves as the eastern seaboard considers cooling off and autumn festivals are just around the bend!

23 September 2012

TwoMedicineMan becomes NewPlymouthMan

Several folks have pinged me on our status, so here’s a fairly brief update.  (FYI, New PlymouthMan refers to our new abode in New Plymouth, Idaho)
Rearview Mirror:  we do miss DC in some ways, mostly friends like you who make sense to us!  Folks out here are neat but different; we got invited to a party last night (aren’t I now the Extrovert?!) and had a great time, but we sure had to focus on the conversations, ones very unlike southern MD as they centered on ‘rural’ and hunting topics.  But so cool – and we had a blast.
Briefest of updates:  nothing in life is great forever, but our summertime journey has been remarkably positive, though the wildlands fires around us in central ID, and eastern OR and WA have caused many days of hazy daylight and air quality that’s problematic for those with respiratory conditions, like our daughter.  But that hasn’t kept us away from the nearby dog park and from trips around the area.  We moved Friday into a rental house, our temp digs as we finalize our house deal for closure on Oct. 15.  The rental house is 1,400 sq ft, has a good layout, and is dirt-cheap since we’re ‘house-tending’ a short-sale house.  Sleeping on air mattresses in a house, and eating off card tables, is a simple adventure I recommend for anyone who’s gotten too comfy in their lifestyles…
New home:  it’s got [details sanitized , and has nice and is nice.  HAH – details got sanitized!  Did you really think I would share those details and perhaps jinx us?  Not, Spot.  However, I did create a slideshow I’ll later share with you, but (with my apologies) only after we close!
Work continues manageably apace.  My elevator job description is, “I’m a project manager for computer systems that fight wildlands fires.”  That’s as simple as I can make it.  It’s a heady and humbling experience to work with these folks, some of whom (even IT folks) go out to fires and put their lives at risk.  I’m giving flat-out 100% this interim period to both family and work, and truth-be-told, I’m pumped-up even when I collapse onto the air mattress at night.
So, I’ll stay mostly off the grid until after we close the house.  I then look forward to closing my TwoMedicineMan blog soon and beginning a new one, so will be asking you next month who wants to stay along for the wild ride…
                Take Care ~ Jose
P.S.:  Here’s an extra feature for those of you who hung around this long into the email … My Top X Observations:
·         16 days of no clouds/rain/anything but mid-80’s broke today and I see moisture!  I heard there’s been no measurable precipitation since May (!!), so this is a blessing to the farmers here-about.
·         Young Turks drive the same here as in metro DC, but the rest of humanity mostly sticks EXACTLY to the speed limit.  That takes getting used to, but Jose wants NO tickets!
·         At this point in my culinary lifespan, I’d rather do Stouffers frozen meals than look at another menu
·         “All we want is some peace in this world”  Wise words in today’s background from Steve Winwood’s song.  Reminds me of the National Interagency Fire Center: 5 agencies from USDA and Dept. of Interior and people act like an extended family (mostly a great thing!)

30 August 2012

From Shadows to Frivolity to some kind of Light

Now where is this blog going?  Mars, the home of my people who live in their own freak shadows? 
No, I’d saved this post title for future use and it now strikes me as spot-on for our move out west.  Or is it “out West,” given the imposing contiguous expanses of prairie grass and high desert coniferous forest?  It involves all my energies, senses and wheelbarrows of thought to comprehend what I’ve gotten us into.
God has a plan.  I’ve always believed that, and am reminded constantly of it as we swim in our life lanes, effect change (chaos in my case), and exercise the free will given us.  I leave it to my friend KJ and other philosophers to work out the twists of predetermination theory, and I just roll with the ebbs and tides of my life.
Recently, a weird habit again surfaced:  cloud watching.  I discovered many years ago that the wind talks -- if you’re willing to take the time to listen.  The clouds become a compelling overlay onto the day’s story, one I intensely take to heart, so I cannot wait to resume that relationship.  It’s on the wind’s terms, though:  once my younger son was wind gust-knocked over, flat on his back(!), along an open ridge in the northern Rockies.  After the shock wore off, we laughed our butts off as we hurried back to the Suburban, clearly getting the message to vamoose!
To my  memories of  southern Maryland, the Eastern Shore, Lyman’s Run SP in PA, Moomaw Lake VA, Cass Scenic Railroad WV, and most poignantly Green Ridge SF/C&O Canal Trail, I bid ye “Adieu!”  Bye bye love – but your trails and songs stay in my heart.
(Hey -- stay tuned for a recap of tales from the Interstate trails, and life-to-be in Boise)

17 August 2012

Too much Chorus – I need more Cowbell!

Ever try to write something and the music in your head won’t stop?  My problem this morning must be like those folks who can’t sleep because their brains are moving a mile a minute and won’t shut down.  I don't have the sleeping problem -- I don’t give myself that much credit for smarts, being just a struggling troubadour of words in the blogosphere. 
Today music-that-won't-stop is Buffalo Springfield, circa 1967.  They sang of women and questions.  Funny how the same topics resonate in guys’ heads century after century.  Must be because they’re both unsolvable mysteries...  How uplifting to hear the fellas of B. Springfield talk about freedom, of both the mind and the emotions swirling within.  Picturing them in an old studio crunching through songs and demo tapes reminds me of how Mrs. TMM and I have been planning our move; we huddle round the plans and dreams, then just pull something together and say it’s gonna work, no problem!
Analogies run rampant this morning.  Seeing the power lines is analogous to the clutter of my DC life, noise and distractions that I hope get buried underground next month.  Sure, there will be different problems and things to gripe about, but maybe that’s the ebb-and-flow of it all, what keeps us in the game.  Bang the bell and give me something new to get energized about!
Just saw a small sailboat calmly tacking upstream along the Potomac river, near Reagan National Airport.  A pretty sight and a fitting exclamation point to this post…

07 August 2012

Take me away, take me farther (a poem)

To tear down the pieces, blast the halo
Taken away and taken farther,
                into an uncertain void
                before the harsh crowd
                toward a prayerful precipice.
Is  there light in his eyes, fireflies of wonder?
Taken away and taken farther,
                about a vengeful swirl
                like holy water
                toward an uncertain absolution.
Wondrous primal instinct, emotions just under skin
Taken away and taken farther,
                into kaleidoscopic Video-8
                about his Spider-vision
   toward his answerless appeals.
Time to buy the ticket.

26 July 2012

Thoughts along the Pavement

Went running yesterday, the first time in two weeks and something all too infrequent since I got this ‘walking pneumonia’ back in April timeframe.  I had a couple thoughts:

·         Taking an alternate route through an alley is fine, unless you’re dumb and choose one behind the restaurants – at lunchtime.  Talk about scrumptious BBQ!  I even pondered what type of wood they used – hickory, I think.  I was ‘a sliding around on my own drool…
·         It was a four-mile loop, but I made myself stop three times so I’d pace myself and stretch a bit.  I think that frustration was the toughest part; panting while Oompah-Loompah’ing down the road is a lot easier.
·         As I huffed and puffed up a hilly road, here comes this guy, running backward a minute to show off.  Where’s a missing manhole cover when a guy (as in - him) needs one?!
·         I feel like Bilbo Baggins, already saying wistful goodbyes to my favorite running routes.  And I don’t even like DC.  Interesting.

24 July 2012

It’s Time to Ramble On

We’ve been awhile in DC, my friends, almost eight years of watching the pale morning become the light of a new workday.  But I’ve never been caught up in the Governmental Lights of DC, and now a neat opportunity came up. 
Where are we going?!  Well, it’s a relaxed city of 205,000 that sits at 2,700 foot elevation and gets but 19 inches of snow per year.  We’ll also be six hours from two legendary national parks (Yellowstone & Grand Teton NPs) and ten from another amazing swatch of wilderness (Glacier NP).
Did you figure it out?  Yep, you’re right – Boise, Idaho. 
We report Sept. 10 to my new position:  computer information systems administrator and project manager with the US Forest Service’s Fire and Aviation Management division at the National Interagency Fire Center complex.  There’s big changes afoot, so I don’t know my exact duties but they’ll involve bringing together federal and state firefighting and emergency prep offices as we thirty staff members help develop and run fifty computer systems.  Helping protect people and their property, as well as the firefighters and their aircraft -- talk about a meaningful job. 
Wow!  BAM!  It’s been a long time coming and I’m so grateful to ALL of you because you each bring something unique to the mosaic of my life.  Seriously, folks.  My life journey means all that much more for it, and I carry on with humility and (yes, Mom) a determination to live up to my potential.
If any of you would like to adopt one of our cats, please call me ASAP.  They cannot come along and we really want to have a good home for each one of these neat little folks!
And, If you want to contribute more to this conversation and unfolding story, email or ring me sometime to share your wisdom/advice (work: 202-690-7245, cell: 301-751-5921).  The TMM blog, and my emails to you, will continue awhile so I can share with you my wonderment of this upcoming adventure.
Best Wishes ~ Jose

16 June 2012

Down in the Honky Tonk

I’ve come to a mini-realization:  designing a Microsoft SharePoint environment is just like herding cats.  Not really talking about work or anyone in particular (superb job, splendiferous co-workers).  No, it’s more about the vagaries involved when you bring folks together for what’s supposed to be the common good. 
It becomes a lesson in human nature.  There’s the Self-Preservation Clan who just can’t stand cleaning out the cupboards.  There’s the Invaders from the Eighth Dimension who want to blast apart the old and start anew.  And in-between we have the Romantics, dreaming of what could be but without the day job to buy you that nice ring.  Lastly, I see the Blue Collar Guys who grab the pickaxe and get to moving files without caring about what the Spiral Architect, the system designer, envisions. 
At home we have cats, we all have some of those same personalities, eh?

And, speaking of my home, here we herd cats.  Kind of hilarious that our tones of home become those of my workplace . 

Cat people rule! 

08 June 2012

Tucked away for another Day

They don’t need you, don’t want to hear a word you say
and they won’t take back those shots in the dark
those called-out words fading,
        falling and tumbling
                down to tears,
                        never felt by anyone.
So don’t you slide into their bitter gloom, listening
to those that lie-preach, those that hide in noise
spaced in the time between,
        along and among
                things they cannot change,
                        cannot slide to ‘OK.’

We’re finally complete with the truth around us,
when it comes down and comes out to a realization
that’s been pieced together,
        words never sent
anger never raged,
                        having found your way home.

05 June 2012

A Touch of Madness

In 21st century America, land of the free and the brave, why do have gym bathroom signs for things like, “Please do not put paper towels into the urinals”?  Just what kind of IQ have they put onto the payroll?  Are they serious?  If so, they ought to preface it with, “Hey You Big Stupid Dummy, how would you like it if I came to your house …”
While we’re being good gym rats, I figured out why I never feel like I’m in good shape.  It has something to do with the color-coordinated women in the gym who are sweat-impaired.  They act like they’re getting a good workout, I guess, but they rarely go outside where I’m at, and certainly cover up any perspiration somehow without us figuring out how we can do it too. 
OMG, women are smarter than guys!  Damn, now I finally figure this one out?  Ignorance was bliss.

01 June 2012

Menopause—Time for a Change

Yes, dear reader, you're reading the title correctly and I can only imagine the quips I'll hear [sigh]...

Part of public service is helping out other over-worked public servants who strive to do the right thing but often with limited time and no funding/publicity.  In that vein, my friend RN Deb the public health nurse, occassionally develops outreach presentations on important health topics.  So here's some important info she encouraged me to share with mom's, sisters, friends, etc.

Deb says she believes that good nutrition, regular exercise, and daily relaxation can help a lot with the challenging symptoms, and the booklet “Menopause: Time for a Change” mentions similar strategies.  Here are two file she recommends:

Menopause: Time for a Change

Women’s Mental Health (Deb's presentation slides are in this large 6Mb file)

30 May 2012

Blue Gel Shoes

That’s the modern version of Elvis’ ditty about living large (my new running shoes have neat blue gel mid-soles).  I’m stretching in today’s blog, spit-balling to come up with something meaningful to share with you.  I parked my next creation, a poem about [hah – do you really think I’m gonna tell you?!] because too much sappiness brings out the Calvin and Hobbes reaction in me!  Gag!
Back to talking about ‘faking it,’ there are places and times, gentle reader, where pretending to be Real while living large could get you in a whole world ‘o trouble (ye who date, beware).  We all should live meaningful lives, but that’s impossible to do 24x7.  But lilting through the morning’s bus ride to Led Zeppelin, with Robert Anthony talking about “hearing words but I could not relate,” now that resonates, that sparks something meaningful about living small. 
In the dissonance of our lives, led in a cacophony of competing imperatives to do this/that/the other, I find living creatively may just be the best approach.  My friend, Mountain Man of MT, lives as he speaks, as he dreams and bounces between his business travails and among relationships with the unique personalities in his orbits.  Living nuttily would be his take on the trick of the tail his life has become!
Signposts might be a better analogy to my life than my new running shoes (talk around living slowly).  We often see signs telling us things but we’re living rapidly, we miss them and go on into the future.  It’s time to end this pointless languid rumination about ways to live, and get on with my late May work week.  Au revoir and live smartly this week.

24 May 2012

The Quiet Beating of Wings

Editor’s Note:  this post is a delayed reflection on a departed friend, serious but hopefully not somber nor reflecting the anger I feel at her early loss at just age 50.  Please wait for another day’s post if my reflections on our mortality aren’t your cup of tea.  Thanks.

So … I take no pride in saying my first long-crafted essay on our friend Beth was lost when my laptop’s hard drive got corrupted.  And I’d just polished it to where it shoulda-oughta-have been.  But as my wise friend Arkansawyer would say, “Sir, that’s the problem.”  Yes, I knew/know/will know where the story should go, but life doesn’t work that way, does it now?
Beth was a kind person beyond measure, taken from us far too soon.  Yet, I was only one of many who knew her and wasn’t even in her nearest orbit.   That’s why her leadership in our ‘community group’ made her contribution to my life that much more amazing.  I won’t tread where I ought not, railing in anger:  “Why, God, did You choose her to go so soon?  We weren’t ready yet.”  So many other feelings loom on the clouded horizon, but as I see from the books of Matthew and Daniel, the answers will come only with faith in He who brings us that truth.  Yeah, that’s deep but so is our collective spirituality and dealing with our inevitable own journeys into the here-after.
Diagnosed with stage 4 skin cancer, she immediately knew the odds weren’t in her favor.  No matter, no bother, no complaints (to us!), no sorrow.  She took a year-long journey on the spiritual high road her near and extended families paved with love.  So much goodness in that last interlude before she left us.  I remember her now as I saw her then, at her best when picking on us to think, to ask questions, and at the end simply asking us to help her smile.  Her spirit shone on, even the week prior to the end, when I visited and saw not pain/pity me, but just Beth as I’d known her.
The ache her man, and her children, feel is far more keen because it reflects how she sparkled her family’s way through a tough world.  Ted also has taken that bite of the same faith and come out comforted and strengthened, a real lighthouse for us all. 
So, here I finish, not far from where I started:  we had a friend and we still have a friend.  Some of you are Beth & Ted’s friends, so walk across those stones of tears, and of need, and let’s help the light-keeper and his family remember the best of the past as they journey on.
Or, as Arkansawyer would say, “Yep, something like that. You only can do what you can do.”  OK then, let’s get on with it.  And, thank you, Beth …

22 May 2012

Signposts and Smiles (a poem)

Darkness falls, the moon spills her sighs
Lost was I, and I didn’t know it at the time.
Sun sparkled my eye, a twinkled sound -
then I blinked and found myself on The Road.
All the pressure left behind as the sun flared,
that fiery azure-eyed One Way sign.
I was picked up and pitched away
so why hide, why try,
‘cause I’ve lost my mind, beautifully so,
on our own 27 Road.

09 April 2012

Silence between the Notes (a poem)

Where to run, what to hum

when darkness falls?

There’s a lady who knows

about stairways and a dance.

Did she take the chance

to make sense of it all?

Can she ever be more

than she was born to be?

Will the call free her at last,

when darkness falls?

06 April 2012

Have you come to be my Friend?

Funny what happens when you turn over those proverbial rocks. Some friends glitter. Some confuse you, so you polish the stone and find it’s, well, a stone.

Some amaze. More so with acquaintances that you don’t often talk to. Like DH: “Hey, where have you been? Did you run out of things to say?”

Hah. But, like Alice in Wonderland, I sometimes stay quiet and just stare, afraid of the wrong word/thought/impulse at the wrong juncture/moment/snare. Like her, I’m afraid not all things appear as they are (aka, man, he’s weird).

How do we come to be each other’s friends? Rarely a weeky goes awry when I don’t wonder about these types of things. Maybe because it’s gratifying to bring extra stuff to ‘the game,’ being a better friend than the other person would have expected.

I count myself so lucky to have seen so many friends ‘from the inside’ and be amazed and humbled by what you do. You paint pictures that dance in my head, ones that color-in the world around me….

22 February 2012

Florida in all its Flavors

We, the TMM Family, spent over a holiday week in Florida and I just returned from another week there. Yeah, it’s almost all it’s cracked up to be: vast and varied, endless sunshine and salty breezes, with the promise of something fun down every boulevard. The malls fascinate me with their palms that line the parking lanes, and scrub grass somehow befits the terrain and calms the spirit.

It’s also full of unexpected cold mornings, too much traffic at times, and other nit-noidy things I could complain endlessly about. I mean, hey, we lived in St. Pete for two years just before this Maryland gig. Talk is cheap when one endlessly gripes and does nothing about it, so I’ll downplay the downsides of Florida and focus on the good stuff:

· Parents (and my cousin & family) who warmly welcome you into their homes

· Warm breezes that carry your concerns away

· Duct tape emblazoned with the Univ. of Florida Gators logo

· Restaurants everywhere – you’d never need to eat at home, just fatten up out on the town

· BBQ grills everywhere

· Boats in the driveways and other toys, like campers and jet skis, out back

· A more relaxed attitude toward life which doesn’t need watches nor as many deadlines

If you’ve not been there, try Florida on for size. And, so as to not slight the Deep South itself, we’ve also lived in Georgia and Alabama, and they each have their own charms!

11 February 2012

8 hours to Durango

(Federal budget season is winding down, so TMM winds back up, though maybe just a couple times a week this go-'round)

I guess

no one wants to see them

Ghost towns

in tidal pools of dreams

Empty eyes

see only their reflection

Roll, tide

spangling the daylight anew

We see

both what we need, what we want

06 January 2012

MahN Madness

At the risk of offending my audience, I won’t spell-out “MahN” so suffice it to say the perceived madness is about how some guys tackle the challenges of life, be it work, home or the open range. In my life, it’s the road under my running shoes. Shoes I’m told move faster than I thought and, stopwatch says, yeah verily do hit 10.3 minutes per mile! Not lightning fast but good enough to avoid cars.

I wonder if it’s just guys who get the itch to do something crazy, like running when light snowflakes kiss my face and tatter along my legs, cold ones since I don’t do running pants. The point isn’t the destination, since I’m not self-competitive enough to care much about running faster.

I guess the point has to do with manning-up to something and walking away head-held-up, ready to grab an air guitar and solo the rest of the day away. That life were that simple! Bottom line is there’s sense to the goofiness some of us weave into our days, it just takes perception to understand the colors of those threads.