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

23 December 2013

HADS: About the Humans Against Dragon Stereotypes

Harken to the simple truths of life, ye mere mortals!  Important words from my dear friend, The Arkansawyer, now follow:

“Things I've found without really looking.  Trying to get to hasd.us (Halifax Area School District) and instead dyslexically typing hads.us (the contents then now displaced by a u ad), which brings us to:

The Internet Archive Wayback Machine (at Archive.org), where if you type the hads.us URL, you can find a cached version of the page:

Knowledge at its finest but now covered over.  Thanks goodness for the archives.”

Smithsonian Article du Jour: 

For when you think your Life is oh so very tough … First World Problems (quick meme): 

“I got hired – so now I’ll have to start waking up early again”

19 December 2013

Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air, drink the drink,
taste the fruit, and resign yourself
     to the influences of each.

          Henry David Thoreau


just be the person your dog thinks you are

16 December 2013

Things you might Find when you’re not actually Searching

Mizz K yesterday reminded me that I can’t find some things:
  • Snow dense enough to pack into snowballs. 
  • New flavor types.  Did you know humans can taste only four flavors – sweet, salt, bitter and sour?  I’ve been robbed.  “Scotty, beam me up and take me away!”
  • Moisture.  Our vinyl window clings just won’t…
  • The character map feature in MS Word that I so used to love when typing things in foreign languages.
  • Anything resembling the poignant power of Stephen’s Stills’ demo tapes of the late ‘60s, he being one of Texas’ finest songsmiths.
  • Hustle-and-bustle.  The surprise is many of you would wig-out at the silence of the prairie lambs.
  • Stress that I don’t bring to myself.  You know me, Mr. Drama Magnet when I was younger.  I’m recovered, so bring on those millions of dollars of challenge -- “I spit on you!” (movie quote)

But what have I found?
  • Prairie dogs.  Did you know they’re my friend Lee’s muse, his inspiration, and their existence is his raison d’etre?  Editor’s Disclaimer:  Just because his inspiration is to grab his 30.06 rifle with ballistic calibration scope and market his prairie dog fur caps, isn’t the point here…
  • Unsought beauty in startling stark tableaus, like a cactus flower in the desert.
  • Roaring Spring.  Pioneer-fever Summer.  Blustery Autumn.  Soul-wrapping Winter.
  • Wineries.  Ste. Chappelle is the foremost of Idaho’s post-Prohibition wineries, a tradition revived from scratch after families like the Rothschilds abandoned the Lewistown, Idaho area vineyards.  We now have 20 wineries.  No, I’m not a winey and we’ve really done but one decent day’s tour, but so much to look forward to!

Smithsonian Article du Jour: 

For when you think your Life is oh so very tough … First World Problems (quick meme): 
I hate my government but I live too comfortably to get motivated enough to do anything about it.

30 November 2013

My List of Decisions for Seven Generations

Today's blog is based on the community-level consensus-based concept of the Iroquois Ganonsyoni, the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy.  The concept said that decisions affecting the confederation’s future should be deliberate and span seven generations (I think that’s 7x20, so 140 years). 

Question:  how many tribes, after 1720, comprised the Iroquois Nation?

So, here are my ideas/laws/regulations that would affect us for over 140 years.  Does it get a “Yeah!” from the audience?  Or just a razzberry?
  • Sustainable use of public lands
  • Taxpayer subsidies for renewable energy
  • Incentivized ways to encourage folks to dump old vehicles and junk
  • Automatically ‘sun-setting’of most entitlement laws so they expire and must be renewed by future generations
  • Us doing something in particular for society so a family name again means something (aka Miller, Smith)
  • Razing unused buildings on condemned properties and making them into public spaces
  • Re-thinking where and how we live:  first build communities in main-street/British commons style; then build the businesses near them, and; make houses eco-friendly, such as rooftop gardens and workplace family care

Answer:  Six tribes, spanning nearly all of upstate NY:  Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Tuscarora, Oneida and Mohawk.  Yeah, I knew most but then again I'm a geek who spent a few years in amazing upstate NY...

Lastly, for when you think your own Life is oh so very tough … First World Problems (a quick meme):  "I forgot I was watching a recording – I sat through the commercials!"

26 November 2013

Long may you run

Wisdom is sought and found in a myriad of ways.  Christianity, Islam, animalism, Native American spiritualism and (some say) in plain ol’ peyote weed.  Seriously now, I like my pastor’s words best:

“To come by the Knowledge you know not, come by the Way you know not.”

Long may you run, much may you find, and savor the richness your revelations bring you…

23 November 2013

Life in the Shrubbery

Things that hit me today:

  •          Discount CD’s are hit-or-miss, but cool - what are your favorites?  Off the top, I’d say these $1-3 CD’s and albums turned me on to some mind-blowing bands:  the Lilith Fair series, Scarce-Deadsexy, Phish-Undermind, Antigone Rising-Live, Livingston Taylor (James’ brother), Shaw-Blades (spin-off from Styx), and the stuff the members of Yes have put out (into the dumpster if you asked Michele)
  •          Noontime walks are fun except the dogs almost never want to come back
  •          Crock pot cooking opens up a fabulous new world for guys like me whose efforts revolve around cookbooks with specific measurements
  •          Life before DVRs, when you had to sit through commercials, was so very inefficient.  And being able to hot-change through nine channels means the world of Saturday sports is only a few clicks away
  •          The church’s mens group ‘homework’ on pride, both positive and negative, really re-focused me on what is worth doing – and maybe why I do it

Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Enchanting Sea Monsters on Medieval Maps

P.S.  Did you know?:  "There was a long-held theory, going back to at least the first century with Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, that every land animal has an equivalent in the ocean.”

Falconry for you and for me

Yes, I’m back in the saddle though not 100% after a nasty stomach flu and two weeks later some neck pain flaring up for the first time in years.  The answer is simple – keep doing meaningful stuff instead of sitting around all day feeling down.  Of course, Arkansawyer is out getting published so he’s still One Up on me; more to follow when I know his new news.
So, I was watching a show called ‘Going Medieval.’  Fascinating British piece by an older gentleman who relished doing everything from helping build a castle to hunting to getting leached.  Let’s skip the latter topic and focus on the use of falcons in hunting.  Did you know these items come from the days of falconry?
·         “Wrapped around your finger” (how to hold them before release)
·          “Hoodwinked” (from covering up the falcon’s amazingly acute eyes, 10x better than ours_
·         “Chaperon” (from the French version of ‘hoodwinked’)
·          “Fed up” (full falcons won’t hunt and a cadger can tell by rubbing their chests)
·         The word “caddie” (derived from “codger,” the name for the person tending to the falcons)
·         “Haggard” (an adult falcon caught in the wild)
·         “Gorge” (what these birds do to save food for later snacking)

Ways to furlough your way through Life

Editor's Note:  I send a shout-out to those folks on this email distro whose phone calls recently brought A Distant Light into my furloughed Somnelence (apoligies to those I've not listed):  Arkansawyer, James 'The Neil-some Biker' T, Andrea P for Pizzazz, Joni 'Positive Vibes' K, Mizz K, The Czarina and Overcooked Valerie C!  To my most lovely wife, Smurfy M, a powerful shout-out of love for putting up with me these 2+ weeks of home-dom ...
Since my friends in DC are having Shutdown Parties to lighten the mood, I’ll contribute country-style. 
Things to do while furloughed:
·         Scroll through your cell phone directory and find names listed you’d entirely forgotten while speed-dialing all your usual suspects.  Proof in the pudding is calling those whose friendship you value after a year away.
·         Think of your boss and co-workers as people with feelings, not those pains in the *** that you interact with each weekday.  A humbling and gratifying activity, especially while playing darts.
·         Winterize.  I mean, we had low last night of 41 (yeah, baby, 4-chilly-1 on Oct. 2!), so time to drain and roll up those hoses.  In brisk winds with 40-mph gusts I later heard.  I’m tired…
·         Memorize those country music songs you always hear.  Dress up and sing along loud and proud!
·         Clean those things that never get cleaned.  Crawl around the floor with your dogs.  Talk to the hamsters. 
·         Wrap the water heater with insulation ($20 @ Home Depot).  Will it save a fortune?  Probably not.  Do you feel frugal afterward, a guardian of your family's money?  Yep!
·         Wash the windows, outside first w/soapy water.  Rinse screens.  Better have some furloughed free hours:   our 4,000 sq. ft. home took me a cumulative nine hours.
·         Go online and troll through your health plan's website to learn its nuances.  And I'm supposed to then be able to understand the roll-out/eyes rolling in my head of the Affordable Care Act (which I DO support)?  I'm so outta luck after finding my son's medication, dispensed for a year by Express Scripts, being displayed as 'Cannot Price.'  I am mentally soft, weak, not ready for ACA ...
·         Lastly:  devour your cookbooks (figuratively).  Do a recipe you never found time for while making excuses in our too busy lives.  Why are they so busy - necessity or choice?  Hmm, it makes me wonder as I see the furloughed free hours stretch into wandering days and pointless weeks. 

Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Golden Arches of McModernism

Yellowstone, Day 4-Last: Craters of our own Moons

A cloudy night but not as cool.  Pack ‘er up for a calm last day toward the northeastern corner of Yellowstone.  Open up your eyes, and see the lower end of the Yellowstone River. After a picturesque journey, framed by a mind-boggling wide Lamar Valley, we parked and took a two-hour hike along the Rim Trail, one of my favorites in the park.  Nope, no griz but we did see, and were kinda followed by, a solitary pronghorn antelope who was shadowing us. 
Time’s up, let’s get homeward bound on our local roads, non-Interstate, toward Craters of the Moon NP. Past the town of Mud Flats, and skirt a mondo thunderstorm.  Surreal cooled magma and black cinders, over hundreds of square miles, surround us and we know we’re human fireflies touching on the immensity of the geological charts of time.  Did I mention more pronghorn antelope grazing on the nearby praririe?  Welcome to Idaho.
After peering around, we zoom-zoom through nicely named towns like Shoshone and Bliss and hit the Interstate.  God kisses the skies with a sunset worthy of a Greek myth, and we get home late.  Dazed, tired and overwhelmed, as befits the trip of the year across sceneries your imagination can barely absorb.  Yellowstone, an angel of our mind’s eye, we’ll be back in June to find those springtime awakening grizzlies…
Smithsonian Article du Jour:  The Insane and Exciting Future of the Bionic Body

Yellowstone, Day 3: Elephants, Woozles, Oh My!

Editor's Note:  Fortunately for us, my office got considered 'mission essential' at the last minute, so I get a one week's reprieve from any government shutdown.  My thoughts go out to my Federal service brethren who toil in DC and might get financially abused by our irresponsible Congress.  This light-hearted post is for you...
We awoke to a 37-degree’ish morning.  As planned, a cold breakfast and then out of the comforting green of Indian Springs campground, and into the immense greens of central Yellowstone!  That should be the blog’s title but it’s too long, right?  So hey, hey, my my – get into your seat and tool along as we drive down captivating Virginia Cascades drive with its small canyon view of the world, along with neat smaller falls and tall facing cliffsides.
There are sights, and other sights, and then the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River.  Immensity beyond this writer’s expertise.  Odd to say that with Misty’s unknowing encouragement, I broke a 15-year freaked-out impasse and walked down the 328-step metal stairway to heaven, a platform not far from the lower falls that plunge a splashifying 308 feet into the riverbed.  A quiet interlude after a canyon rim-side hike that sucks out your courage and keeps you humble.  I made it back up to the rim without a heart attack, and savored every return step as we surveyed the layers of that canyon.
Why stop at 3 PM?!  Zoom-zoom southward toward Yellowstone Lake.  Go figure, God again pointed out the difference between men and women:  shoes.  Just why do women of any age have to pull off shoes to wade in the chilly waters of a lake at 8,000 ft elevation?!  Madness, but the giggling girls and flying ‘seaweed’ made me realize I might be missing something.  Nawh, it wasn’t the Overlook of the lake, but the subsequent pay shower - $3.65 well spent.
You’re getting bored now, so let’s not dwell on the animals carousing along Hayden Valley.  Along with the interesting bison, we saw many elk in the distance taking advantage of the late summer.  No grizzly but my polite traveling partners said No Worries.  Good, since rain again fell on our way ‘back home’ and we stood around for an hour waiting to cook dinner.
Dinner:  Tri-tip steaks right above the firewood.  Easy and tasty.  Get out in the Back 40 and try it!
Smithsonian Article du Jour: 

Yellowstone NP Day 2: Bubble, Bubble, Toil & Boil

What better way to start Day 2 than friend Misty’s Choice:  The Southwest Quadrant.  We toured the Old Faithful/Geysers section of the park.  Lots of bubbly things and you’re saying, “Yeah, that’s nice.  I’ve read this over and over, la-di-da…”  I gotcha there, and match your ace with a jack, as we tooled up the hillside several hundred feet above the Old Faithful basin to the Overlook – of the entire flippin’ valley! The OF geyser is magnificent from a distance, topped by our downhill trip’s sojurn toward Solitary Geyser and into the basin of several colorful geyers.  All without moving the van, topped by lunch in the shade of cool ponderosa pines.  Yep, I was right for once – touristing takes a long time, so don’t crunch your schedule and miss huckleberry ice cream and hot apple cider at the lodge!
“Northward, hoooo!”  The van zooms off as we make endless tourista-bashing observations, ones intended to make us uppity and better than those silly folks around us.  Color us abashed and silly when we take a driving loop toward Firehole Lake and a greyish wolf saunters across the lane.  “Silly people, you gawk like tourista!”  No matter, we kept getting out of the van and seeing sights like the surreal misty Grand Prismatic Geyser and bison snacking near those geysers.  Colors beyond imagination, smells beyond bearing and the sounds beyond silence:  hissing, bubbling, and bison moo’ing.
Then an evening under the stars, when on my third trip I finally hear it – elk bugling.  Eerily touching and a startling 10 PM reminder that you and I, without electricity, firearms and other modernities, are so hosed if we spent a few days in THEIR backyard.  Nature, beautiful and disarming, but at one’s one possible peril.
Dinner:  Australian beer-something Wings and Brats.  Wings marinated two days.  A succulent evening.

Yellowstone NP Day 1: Fly-bys that touch the Stars

Last week, we went off on a four-day jaunt to Yellowstone NP, my third trip to one of the most majestictableaus onto which I’ve painted some eye-popping adventures over the last fifteen years.  Sparkling weather, running down my windshield, an inauspicious beginning to our six-hour drive.  Pit stop #1: Idaho State University, where my daughter, Allison, and the daughter of our friends, Misty, took a zoom-zoom eyes-wide-open tour of the campus.  We now have two ISU die-hards – and all because I threw them a curve ball that they couldn’t refuse, so try that tactic yourself.
Yellowstone is what it was and always should be – vast, unsullied and superbly layered with more than the five senses can absorb.  Just driving into the park, we gleaned views of pine forests grandly regrowing after the fires of ’88 that laid low fully one-third of it.  Fires – devastating but necessary for a healthy forest.  So we saw thousands of acres of carpeted hillsides and dreamt of what was tooling around unseen.
Ever “wing it” on a campsite, deciding not to reserve it?  Just say No if that’s at a busy national park. My good luck carried the day at our second campsite try, though, and we got a nice spot with just three first-come slots left.  And, we squeezed in a leisurely stroll through half of Norris Geyser Basin to kick off the weekend.  Sweet…
Dinner:  Sandwiches.  We’re too pooped to care what goes into the gullet…
Smithsonian Article du Jour:  Zombie Pigeons Are Invading Moscow

23 August 2013

All One, with You and with Me

A long time ago in middle English, the word “alone” was actually two words: all one.  All one within ourselves, complete and whole, not needing anything from anyone for any reason to be OK.  But it also meant something like ‘all one with each other.’  We humans are one, all connected, in a perpetually symbiotic relationship.  I mean, did you see the ultimate compassion shown by that school office worker in Atlanta, talking down the bipolar shooter and saving countless lives far beyond her own?  In the midst of crisis, she knew those kids would sink or swim based just on how well she could relate to a man with an assault rifle right in her face.

So, it’s time we peek underneath the surface of what is going on in our own lives, at work and in our relationships.  You hopefully will see a world unfolding magic, joyful possibilities, and some individual and collective spiritual wellness that awaits all of us.

12 August 2013

Jose’s Log, Star Date 072713.21

I’ve figured something out – why keep gauging the Good Days by what I just got done or am about to do?  How about slowing down this gravy train and focus on a Good Week?  Then it’s about the sum of the score, a biorhythmic ebb and flow of just how well I stayed in the game for a few days in a row.  If that’s the matrix of how I should measure success, then I guess most weeks are pretty good.  Oh no, I’m getting too relaxed – maybe country living has gone to my head!

31 July 2013

A Time to Ask, A Time to Do

I was inspired by a recent church men’s group morning coffee gathering to write this post.  Though Pastor Bill offered the post’s title spiritually, I see it spanning my life – and maybe giving you ideas for yours?  Man, I’m so sorry that your friend Jose is such a nagging optimist...

  • Ask:  I asked God recently what to do with my sons.  Can’t say I heard any clear answer but felt shutting up was the right thing – stop offering ill-fitting advice cloaked as wisdom.  Sure enough, the older one bought a screaming deal Jeep and the younger son moved out, with Leg 3 of his Great Adventure being an Amtrak ride to the next place to put his pillow – Bedford, Indiana.  And they're now living some great adventures.

  • Do:  Listen to God and my wife.  Between them, I get nearly all the guidance, wisdom and comfort a guy needs.  Tack this one onto the first item – I constantly need to re-focus on listen and shut down the inner monologue that’s brain-spawned.  Intuition and feeling my way through life works, at least for  me, so much better.

  • Ask:  “Jose, stop being a bull in the project office.  Ask questions.  Figure out, by listening, how to be a better leader.  Drop your presumptions at the door.  Ahh, isn’t that easier, now?”

  • Do:  We’re in our new homeland, one I so want to be a long-term fit.  Why keep planning big things that take too much time, effort and/or money.  Do the small things.  Volunteer to lead things at church.  Spend casual time with my daughter without making such a production out of the planning.  Find out what jazzes Michele up and get on-board.  It’s about the relationships, as my mood and outlook transform me into someone better than I was before.

Smithsonian Article du Jour:  On Venus, It snows Metal

27 July 2013

The Pentameter of Emotions (a poem)

What we sense, and what we feel, are so colored by our life experiences.  We handle the chaos, the day’s drudgery and all that through our own lenses.  What if we click-changed them to something entirely new?  Oh, how reckless and New that would be…

Familiar faces,
that means I know
where I am.

The sounds of rock and roll
that means I feel
in the moment.

Dum da dum dum -
that means I hum
in life’s tune.

Sharing whispers
that mean so much,
to so many,
as the road is seen


21 July 2013

Sight Unseen

There are so many oddities and quirks in our world that people can publish and remark on all sorts of silliness.  My observations aren't worth raw beans, but here are the unseen and inexplicable things in my daily life:
  • Gas pump card readers:  why do some people, with driver’s licenses, look at them befuddled, like they’re about to be eaten by them?
  • Self-checkout at stores:  there ought’a be a license to use them.  I’ve seen some doozies as folks pretend they’re back in high school chemistry class when they sneak up to the reader and touch the picture pad.
  •  The downtrodden and despairing ones, all around us in plain sight.  I’m clueless on how I could help other than one thing at a time, but a 5-spot won’t solve world hunger.
  • What's underneath many of our car hoods.  Unseen as long as Herbie starts and there aren't any red lights on the dash.  Don't shake your head - you know I'm right!
  • Sadly, race relations.  I see a void, an abyss of expectations between some major groups in our society.  The Trayvon Martin tragedy further shows how perceptions silently shape us into who we are.  I know I see it but do I see it ‘correctly?’  Is there a ‘correct’ view?  Nope, so it will remain sight unseen except within each of our hearts.

10 books from the 21st century every man should read:

Weird and Wacky Festivals around the World:

I think the World Wife-carrying Competition (Finland) and the World Body-painting Competition (Austria) are the choicest ones!

20 June 2013

Stillness (a poem with a new home)

Note:  “What’s he talking about?  The froot loops in his head?!”  Nope, it hit me that this poem I wrote last year well fits our new Idaho milieu, maybe an autumnal eve in Boise National Forest, so let’s dust it off.

Trees fall
startling all
with a cacophony

Colors shift
so swift
and the toy lies

Emotions lie
smiles shy
in a tender wasteland

Nonetheless …
shift, lift
share, care
the tease of hope


16 May 2013

Canoeing through Springtime in the Mid-Atlantic States

I wish I'd have known about this lil' baby a few years back.  You best hurry on out there and grab one - what better way to avoid Beltway traffic than cruising through a thunderstorm/hurricane up the Potomac river:


11 May 2013

Simplicity -- for Michele Denise and Ellen Marie

Now, what's up with that subject line?  Well, it's too long a story but I'm inspired to share its highlights.

A college friendship among two girls that soon included Ellen's fiancee and Michele's boyfriend.  Then afternoons at Henry's family's dairy farm that involved actually milking cows, followed by nights of nice wine, cheese, cards and laughter.  Life went on, and reality intruded, with them staying on the farm (wow!!), and  Jose and Michele joining the Air Force and literally flying to Germany for Assignment #1.  Ellen beat us to the punch with Cody Parker, a kid whose grown into just an amazing young man.  Then we got Christophr Shane.  So it goes, and we all got some of what we wanted!

Screech-scream-zoom ahead twenty-nine years (aka, a million lifetimes) and I'm calling Ellen with my traditional 'Call before Mother's Day' because she has four biological and two adopted-from-Urals of Russia children.  No need to bother her on Mother's Day when six others have first dibs.

Go figure.  After the chat is hilariously done, Ellen is on the phone with Michele.  For the first time perhaps since we boogied out to Idaho.  And the laughter about life, love, children, cows and gardens went on and on, not to mention mimosas as a reason to get out of bed.

What's my point here?  I guess it's that I'm just a simple man, living on the land and in the moment.  I look up, decades have passed spendiferously by, and here are two simply charming women catching up and reminding me why life is worth living.

Take the moment, take a hold of the simplicity of love, and love your mother.  Or, her memory.  Pick up that phone, my friends, and call/chat/visit with mom, even one who may not even have biological kids.  (Yeah, Katie G, just because you're in Italy, you're not exempt!)  I know a few women out there -- you know I'm talking about you -- that have innate mothering and mentoring stuff that bubbles up, no matter that you don't have biological kids.  You are true mothers of the earth in my mind, so don't forget your role in our world.

So, Henry Lyle has Ellen Marie covered - and Ellen is blessed that he's one of the finest men ever to walk this planet.  Me?  I work daily to deserve Michele Denise.  Hell, some stranger stepped on her foot when she was 16, and still needs to prove that her second glance that day, and her 30+ year gaze, is worth her while.

To her and all of you other mothers, daughters and sisters, I send my best wishes...

09 May 2013

Plz opt-in or opt-out for 2013 ... and a Brushstroke of our Lives

It’s way past that time of the year when I ask folks to opt-in or opt-out of my infrequent blog post emails.  So, two questions:
  • Do you want to stay on the email distribution this year?
  • Would you like an occasional postcard from the Northwest?  If so, please send me your address.  They'll come from places like Craters of the Moon NP, Bend OR, Yellowstone NP and who-knows-Nowhereville ID.

Now on to the fun part – a quick recap of where we’re at in life and on the land…
·         The Maryland house deal closed as hoped and prayed for.  As much as I liked that house, it’s someone else’s joy now.  My mind is mostly in Idaho day-to-day, so I don’t want ever again to think about moving!
·         Life:  our older son is nearly done with his US Navy enlistment and plans on attending the Univ. of Montana (in Missoula) in the fall.  He even may spend a couple months with us.  As for here, my daughter and I have a week-long campout upcoming in mid-May to eastern Oregon and west-central Idaho, to places with good museums (Oregon Trail, regional and Native American), great vistas and hiking choices.  Sometimes, though, we’ll just sit back, burn some wood and play a game.
·         Property:  our 5 undeveloped acres means we’ll never run out of things to do.  We’ll soon begin putting up back yard pasture fencing, along with front yard rail fencing for our dogs.  This project will continue into next year.  Michele continues the charge of building-out the basement rooms, and that’s going well and we hope to get our daughter into her new bedroom later this year.
·         Work:  Ooops,  I put it last.  Wonder why?!  I really do enjoy my job and its potential to let me lead and contribute so much more than back in DC.  I’m teleworking four days a week, and can change my hours on-they-fly between 6-6, so also will start working just a half-Friday this summer.  As an IT project manager, I get immersed in techie gobbledy-gook as well as learning about wildland fires’ lines of business.  No sequester effects out here, so our staff prepares our applications for fire season as usual, though without fun money to expand capabilities.  Meaningful work near the front lines of helping others ... perfect.

Time “to get my shine on!” (a new country song), and head over to a volunteer leaders’ planning session for an annual community cleanup day.  Mixing up work and play … just another interesting day in our Ag (Agricultural) Land!

30 April 2013

The Eagles have landed

January of this year, 2013, the weather stayed so cold in Hinckley, Ohio on the shores of Lake Erie & Rocky River that the bald eagles were cruising over houses in hopes of a quick meal.  They could not access fish that were at the bottom of the river and had gathered together. 

Some kind souls decided to feed the eagles so they would survive the cold spell.  They gathered fish and started feeding the group of eagles huddled on the shore.

The photos below show what happened.  The photographer's former colleague took 
these photos in front of his home.  Incredible!

1.  A beautiful morning feeding the eagles, Jan. 2013

2.  Once the fish were thrown, the eagles did not seem to fear the good Samaritans and 
word spread fast!  

3.  Eagles vying for the fish.  January, 2013.

4.  No zoom lens used here!  The photographer was this close!  

5.  Closer yet!

6.  Here are the men who were feeding them.  So close!!

As you know, it was not too long ago that the American Bald Eagle was 
an endangered species.  A fascinating new day for us all.

26 April 2013

Note to Self: Breathe, Just Breathe

The Maryland house goes to closing at 1630 EST today.  Paperwork all signed, notarized, covered in our blood/sweat/aggravation, then overnighted to the title company.  Two weeks of pure hell are about to end, no thanks to the money-lending vampires called mortgage lenders.  Enough said, we'll be down to one house and, like one wife, that's enough for any guy!

"Life is like an hourglass, glued to the table." (from a song by Anna Nalick).  Ours has been glued to our foreheads, so now we devolve ourselves downward into the trivalities of life, like watching a full-grown badger jaunting down the field with a  ground squirrel in its mouth - wow.  And turning on our sprinkler system for the first time since winter and hoping it works as advertised.  Or, further reorganizing our garage so we find things!  I love seeing all the free floor space - concrete never looked so sexy.

We breathe, just breathe, and move onward.  Into a glorious sunny day.  We're off to dig up 25 rose bushes being donated to us, then to our friends' home to share stories, eat good specially-prepared stuff Michele did up, and tomorrow take pix of their alpacas for posting on their biz' website.  Maybe go fishing?  And to ponder the decision we made to buy two or three of their alpacas for ourselves - time to introduce ourselves to them!  Life just never gets boring around here...  My best to all of you, my friends, and stay on-board this springtime for more neat happenings (and plz share yours with me).

07 April 2013

A Tree falls – and we heard it

Strange how country life can change you, or at least bring you back to the center, one I whirly-dervishly screamed past while in DC.  By the way, I laud, applaud and congratulate those of you who thrive there!  Seriously, but it's just not for me. 

We’re trying to hammer out, one drop of sweat and pain per moment outdoors, what to do with five acres.  Today, we attempted to transplant two trees, with a 50% pass rate – we stripped the bark off the locust tree when trying to pull it out w/truck.  Sigh.  But our too-nearby leach field must win, sorry to say.  We still took a moment to mourn the tree we were trying to rehome.  Just because some dummy planted her too close to the field…

Shout-outs for today:
  • Friend Holly, who bought her own digs and whose church family helped her with the move!  Her spiritual support, and too-kind words and strength, have helped me understand this Next Life Plateau!
  • Friend Heather, whose feline companion of 17 beautiful years left her for the next adventure.  I tear up thinking of that feeling, we who had to leave behind five cats of our own.  In the silence, I hope she hears the songs of yesterday, and is comforted by the love her friend left her across their homes together.
  • Our son Jonathan, who is completing the first week of work at Walmart.  I thank them for trusting to employ him, now let’s hope for he sees the bigger picture -- and his own potential.
  • Friend Manya, who has left the company we met at, and embarked on a daunting adventure into the consulting world.  I know she can blow them away, so I hope they hear the insightful words she’s sharing with them.
  • My sister Corinna, one of the most beautiful people God ever graced Earth with.  I am proud to be her big brother and hope I can live up to her expectations.  When I think of her, I always smile, and melt a bit too…
  • My wife Michele, who constantly leaves me speechless (since meeting her at 17) with new thoughts, an endless bounty of ideas and excitement, and brings me an inner Smile that just is too much for one guy to deserve!  

You hold me with a Touch (a poem)

You hold me with a touch,
And keep me in the moment.

But I’m on to you,
on to your complexity
of emotion, delusion, careening.

You ping me for awhile,
But know that I’m a bit wise.

Enfold me or entreat me, 
but I’m here on the ground.

Crash, bam, lay it out.
And with a rueful smile, I
collect, absorb and endure.

This love is what it is, my son, 
Just for you.

You rush toward moments that cannot
change what Just Is.  

The straight line is,
The jagged edges are,
Unconditional Love.

01 April 2013

The Eggs of Easter

It’s fitting to turn my mind to the uplifting celebration that’s Easter.  With its religious messages and fountains of hope, it’s hard to top that with anything secular or worldly, so I won’t even try.  I’m not Catholic (sorry, Lee!), but I can respect the new Pope’s embrace of some of the unseen people in our world, like imprisoned girls in Italy.  That man embodies so much in the way of simple goodness, and I hope the politics of organized religion don’t wear him out. 

The fields and fallow pastures of my own life are full of eggs, as surely are yours.  Looking at my own life, and seeing the eggs of success, not-such-success and those not yet hatched.  Wow, and I’m not even old yet.  To coin a Neil Young lyric, maybe my bonny outlook is because I have someone to love me the whole day through?

So, love yourself this day and this good start may open the doors to other unsought gems.  Or not.  But if you don’t give it a shot, that door don’t open!  I’m no Pollyananna,  just a voice from a contented sunny afternoon…

30 March 2013

Cow, Pigs, Wars and Witches in everyone's neck of the Woods

Good long awaited Morning,

I think writer's block hits us all, though for me it's for want of focus on the writing, not for ideas.  Music itself energizes and emphasizes the flavors in life all around us, opening our minds to unsought insights, joys and contemplations.

So, after seven silent weeks, why would I use the subject line of Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture, the famous anthropoligical  book by Marvin Harris, as fodder for today's blog?  I mean, I have several adolescent trees near our leach field that need removal and transplant onto a hillside.  Don't I have better things to accomplish on a Saturday morning?

Yes and no.  Maybe Mr. Harris, who taught Young College Jose about cargo cults and disbelieving that all gold is golden, never left my mind.

I wondered this week about cows, as we debated the neighbor's wisdom in buying 3 pregnant cows as pets for his young kids; he grew up in a dairy farming family, so the species choice sort of makes sense.  But moo'ing and poop'ing cows in one's front yard?  It's their life, though, and we hope they enjoy the cows!

Pigs are everywhere, especially the Pigs of War who can't be happy we've just about lost another round against the bad guys and now are scouring Africa and the Middle East for someplace else to throw away our younger folks' health, ambitions and maybe lives, not to mention more precious tax dollars.  Haven't we enough to do here in our splendid US of A?

A truer War is essentially all around us as we struggle to uphold and celebrate those values that got us here.  Mental illness, mass shootings, and incivility all are things to be fought in a positive, meaningful way.  Me personally, I hear it from places like friends on the phone, the societal debacle that is Detroit, and in the chronically poor whom government of all flavors hasn't raised up.  We must fight on.

And Witches.  Maybe the Evangelical Right has it right and my beliefs, and that of our multi-million member church, have it flat wrong.  I don't see gays and Muslims and etc. as the devil.  Am I to listen to an acquaintance and avoid Ellen DeGeneres because she's gay, and ignore her well-known on-air outreaches to struggling women in need?  That type of stereotyping, especially by people I've met and somewhat like, repels me.  But maybe I've learned and 'felt' the Scriptures wrongly, and God does not really love and cherish us all.  Or maybe the witches are actually someone else, those casters of stones? I wait to be enlightened.

No railing, no flame, no anger today.  Just maybe aggravation that too often we ignore the tough social issues and thus make them ever more difficult to resolve and blend solutions and acceptance into our society.  So many calls to action:  pick one, let's say something like gun ownership, advocating for the poor, or for- or against- gay marriage.  Be willing to listen, to study history and to reflect before contacting your legislators and writing those protest placards.  It helps you grow and helps the rest of us learn -- there are many folks ready to listen.