May 24, 2009

New walking stick completed...

I've been working on this one for a while... It's from a piece taken from a sweet gum tree that came down in a storm.. the wood is very soft for carving, I also took a piece for cutting and making a chess set... Then James came along to show off his "baby" slowie that's the name he's chosen for each member of his growing collection of snails...









May 23, 2009

Blogger Gathering...

Jim Wilson came to town for a visit, it's been a long time since we've seen him.. It was a good refresher for the soul... We enjoyed some good food, good company, good conversation, loud kids and had a great time... Along with Jim, CS Perry, and Rob Cole were also along for the ride... So it was actually a bit of a blogger gathering.... Lets hope its not that long before we all are together again...

Jim moved away to work with NASA many years ago and he has been sorely missed... It was great seeing you again Jim!!! (yes... he's in charge of NASA... the whole thing...)


Jim... good to see him after that many years...

Rob, Me, CS, Jim

Rob and the food...

CS and Silas

James

Guitar playing

blurry guitar playing

James and Silas joining in the music....






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May 21, 2009

James Graduates Pre-K
















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May 18, 2009

Jon and Kate Gosselin...


I really dislike this television program. When the documentary first aired I watched it with a mild interest, to see what having sextuplets would be like. When the series came on I disliked it because of the wife's treatment of the husband. Now, it's just sad.

I perused the Internet when I heard rumors of a divorce. The stories are all the same, accusations of infidelity from both sides. There is nothing new with this, nothing out of the ordinary, indeed they could be any couple who is suffering from the woes relationship static.

There is really only one question that comes to my mind, and that is this.... I have read in several places that the husband, Jon, isn't happy with the notoriety his family has gotten.

What?

I can understand how you could become famous and then get irritated with not being able to just simply get in your car and drive around for a while to clear your head. Not being able to simply go into a store and buy something without creating a mob scene would get old in a hurry.. But.. you sort of sought it out, pursued it, packaged it, and profited from it.

Money for your children's future is a noble and understandable reason for taking on such a thing as the morphing of your life into a reality television series. Yet, somewhere there should have been a little voice telling you that if this is successful.. I may get noticed...

Now, with the family's income being derived from reality television, they have seemingly fallen into nothing more than a traveling Jerry Springer show. From all accounts I have read it seems that the wife, Kate, has been smitten by the power and money from the exposure they have had and seeks to continue the path now traveled. While Jon wishes for the ride to come to an end.

Each of us can whine about how each of them act and feel superior in our own minds while jealousy over the fortune they have made hides in the corner of our psyche, while we act like it isn't there. Yet, what would cameras record if they were to follow all of us around for the better part of the week?

Have you ever sniped at your spouse? Have you ever done anything that you wouldn't want others to know about?

This situation that has developed could be nothing more than a ratings ploy, as the new season is due to begin shortly, marketing at its typical high point..... Yet it could be a genuinely nasty familial squabble. There are siblings biting at each other, estrangement, snooping people on the perimeters, people being spotted in places they shouldn't be with people they shouldn't be with, bickering spouses, and children stuck in the middle while the junior high school bullshit plays out... In other words, the same damn lives that eighty percent of people live. The only difference is that theirs is televised...

One really has nothing more to do than flip around to a few blogs to find out that people just aren't satisfied. Whether it's a person unloading about a job, politics, or a spouse... It's all over the damn place... including here. There is nothing wrong with hopping on a soap box every now again, its good for the soul, but plain out gossip and pure bullshit are out of hand.

I have read that they have a contract that states that they can have an open marriage, that Kate is a mean woman that doesn't really care about the children, that Jon was fired from a job for misuse of company goods, that Kate didn't want anyone but them to make money from the show, that Kate will not speak to her family, that most of Jon's family won't speak to them because they hate Kate and do not agree with having that many kids in the first place, that Jon is having an affair, that Kate is having an affair... the list is seemingly endless... Yet none of us know anything about it all for certain. There lies the only certain truth.. no one but the two of them knows what is true and what isn't.

Life is meant to be enjoyed and lived, not wrapped up in drama... That way of life is fruitless and boring, playing to the lowest common denominator... While in the eighth grade it might have been fun, now, we have children and real things to deal with. Tossing about advice to people that are having problems should be tread upon lightly because they may listen to you. Music, laughter, the smiles of children and raucous noise is what life is really about.. Not who is sleeping with who or what so and so did the other night... Stay out of bars, if you're over 25 you don't need to hang out at someones house on the weekends, pay attention to your spouse and your kids, stay home, and when you're around members of the opposite sex... keep your damn pants on....

My suggestion? Don't watch it... Perhaps TCM will be showing something good that night anyway.... Or better yet... turn your damn television off...

May 16, 2009

May 13, 2009

Nightfall in Georgia


The sounds of darkness draw me from the porch toward edge of the woods. A myriad of voices hold me to that spot for mere moments, and I plunge in.

Walking in the forest at this hour holds fear, assurance, calmness, and apprehension with equal fervor. Promises of discovery and adventure lay just within my grasp, yet sadly move away seconds before I can reach them. Creating within me the usual longing for a childhood long since past when the bridge between myself and adventure was one I could cross with relative ease and little thought. To experience the complete joy brought about by an evening of hide and seek with the passion born of that age once more would truly be as close to God as I could hope to get. The only way one can surely begin to feel this wonder again is to see it in the eyes of a child caught within its spell.

These thoughts carry me forward as I traverse paths taken so often that little thought needs to be given to direction or footing. Years of moving through undergrowth with the need of stealth has brought about a natural ability to move in complete silence. Rich aromas of honeysuckle and wet earth tell me my exact location, as I look ahead toward my destination.

Finding this spot is done with as sure a familiarity as a mother's ability to recognize the call of her own child. I dare not glance before me in fear of ruination of the evenings reason for being here.

The spot is bare, dry, and ready to join me in a symphony of past and present.

Before taking my seat I stand and breathe deeply of the aroma that is home... eyes closed, mind fixed, and soul just right... It is time. I sit with my back to an oak tree that has seen more than I can hope to witness in many lifetimes. I take one last deep taste of the nights humid air and open my eyes as the flavors of this hollow swill around my senses and release images of lives past and present.

I look down from the edge of the hollow into the creeks flowing side by side until they join and flow through the hardwoods to fill the lake just beyond the distant hill. My personal amphitheater is now alive with thousands of fireflies dancing from the base of the trees; swimming effortlessly to the tops that are only a few feet from my vantage point. In a stunning silence they light the very ground of this hollow as they dance in lives never touched or holding any concern for me or my fellow men. No performance ever conceived by a human can come close to the beauty displayed in front of me... I am honored and awestruck to be its only witness.

The journey starts as my mind finds a peace that I left here as a child and the welcomed images come. There is no order to this waltz, it happens all at once. Everything is simultaneous, imagery from lives gone and lives newly arrived wash over me. I hear the voices of my grandparents calling to everyone, the laughter of my father, the weeping of my mother over his loss, the catcalls of my peers at play, the cries and joy of my children in full throws of discovery, and the music of my youth wrapped in the din of my siblings hearts as they work a magic that can be known only within a family.

Aunts, uncles, cousins, and people loved for years shift before me in a dance with the yellow lights I watch. I smell and taste a small kitchen full of family during the holidays, the tears for the arrival of my sons, and experience the love of my wife anew... I feel that those who went before me now hold a secret knowledge that they know I will share in time, and their patience is palpable to me.

The sounds of laughter and joy during times of great happiness in my life are as sure and new as the moments they first occurred.. The poetry, eroticism, love, and passion for life from every moment of each night I have lived is alive at one moment in time... This surely is what magic is made of...

The time I spend there is never measured yet lasts eons in my soul. Many lives are witnessed and many battles thought through. Situations are lost and honesty fills the spaces that dwell within me, pushing out the demons that have moved in during the day. Serenity arrives, a long remembered companion, welcomed as surely as it was a cousin coming to let me know all is well with him.

A sly smile creeps across my face as the owls arrive with cries and calls letting me know I have been here long enough and am needed elsewhere. I listen to their calls mixing with the rhythmic patterns now rising from the lake as frogs and crickets wake to begin their lives over again in the new night around them. I almost feel guilty that most people don't get to experience a dance such as this... But then the peace I feel and surety I have gained again with this renewal remind me that this place and these moments are my own...

May 11, 2009

Relax....

Are things as bad as they seem, or do we just hear about the horror more in these days of instant information?

The world is going to hell in a hand basket, violence is everywhere you look. Marriages are ending in vitriol at every turn and children are being forced to deal with situations beyond their comprehension. Scandal and partisan bitching are the order of the day in politics. Intolerance of race, religion, and sexual preference is rampant throughout society. Diseases are morphing and killing more people than ever. Geopolitical situations are sitting on powder kegs awaiting a spark, which would ignite war that could involve the entire globe. More children than ever are disappearing each day. Natural disasters abound and the earth itself seems to be revolting against us.

I see and hear these things everywhere I go. It indeed seems that there is no hope for my kids, they are doomed to have lives of horrid peril, crawling through duct work and fighting off all manner of evil to squeeze out a daily life amongst the rubble of the society we are surely destroying.

After much pondering, research, study and reading of endless figures and statistics, I have come to a simple conclusion about all of this….

Bullshit.

While there are things that do seem ridiculous, these things have been with us throughout our history as humans… I read magazines and articles from circa World War Two and saw many of the same things being said then as are being said now about current military actions in Iraq and around the Middle East. I’ve read newspaper stories from all around the country dating from the twenties containing stories of parents killing their own children, mass shootings, missing kids, wars in far away countries, devastating earthquakes, fires, floods and storms…. You could simply retype the same things over and over and it would fit year after year…

Coupled with these stories were constant warnings about the ecology of our planet falling apart from getting colder to getting warmer, and the end of the world, as we know it being just over the horizon. Group after group of zealots have soap boxed the end of mankind for the entirety of our existence. I even read an article by a “noted scientist” that warned that cosmic winds were headed for this planet would rip our atmosphere away from Earth within ten years… That was in the 30’s…

“Nowadays we can’t live like our parents did… One parent works and another stays at home with the kids…”

You can’t?

How many people do you know live in a six to seven hundred square foot home, with one car, no air-conditioning, no cable television, no video games, no cell phones, no internet, just one phone line with a rotary phone provided by the phone company with no call waiting – forwarding – or answering machine, eat meals at home every day, do not go shopping unless its a holiday or birthday, never stay in step with fad and fashion, go out to eat once or twice a month.. maybe, rarely go to movies, and usually have people over to play cards or cook out for entertainment?

If you were to sit down and look at your life in those terms.. Do you think you could live like that and get by one paycheck? I am sure you could….

I read articles that were published during the founding of this country and was shocked with the amount of partisan sniping that took place… Very similar to what you see on talking head television these days.. Accusations of everything from affairs to stealing of public funds…

All in all, things may be harsh, jobs difficult to find, prices going up, wages remaining stagnant, nickel and diming by government… but to think of how people felt during the dustbowl or depression kind of puts things in perspective…

I hope we can be thankful for what we have and enjoy whats around us and not let the anxiety and angst we feel affect the quality of our lives too much…

May 09, 2009

War in Pakistan.....


Why are we not hearing wall to wall coverage on a war in which the sworn enemies of Western Civilization are marching closer to control over a country that has nuclear weapons.

Contained in practically every direct correspondence either obtained or freely given concerning and related to the Taliban, within the realm of Islamic extremism, are numerous references to destroying first Israel, then Western Europe, then the United States of America. During a debate with Salman Rushdie, Christopher Hitchens cited many examples to back the point that it would be accurate to state that the only group of people who seek to gain nuclear arms for immediate use are indeed these same extremists. This is a point that I agree with.

Pakistan has an arsenal of nuclear weapons. The Taliban is currently fighting it's way to the capital City of Pakistan, Islamabad. An article that appeared on the BBC news website puts the situation in fairly plain terms by stating that the country is in fact 'Fighting for survival'.

The knee jerk response from this current war or military assault taking place has been a partisan one, as could be expected. Yet the media's reaction is interesting. The war is not being covered that much. The partisan hack in me wants to begin speaking of how "If Bush was in office this predicament would be deemed to be the end of mankind, receiving constant coverage on television".

Yet the human being in me can't get past the idea that the entire infotainment industry isn't covering a story that could have devastating effects on all our lives. While you can't really live in a state of fear or panic at all times... Would it really hurt just to hear some straight reporting about the situation? Just a few numbers and dates? "This many Taliban fighters moved into this area on this date" type of info?

I feel like the handling of this situation is in a pretty poor set of hands.... The problem, as always, lies in a very gray area of just who's hands we are talking about. Numerous debates abound concerning this point, but I really do not care about it. Whether it was Bush, Obama, Clinton, Carter or Reagan the situation remains the same. Left or Right of the aisle doesn't really matter here, dead is dead.

I would imagine and hope that there is a competent team of people working on this in Washington... This is the point where a responsible media comes into play and I can't escape the feeling that the phraseology "responsible media" is slightly out of fashion within the halls of any corporation that sells information for ratings dollars. Indeed, whether it's a "free" press or a press that works to increase revenue via sensationalism, is there any outlet currently in existence that can cover this without ideology taking over at some point?

I really don't think so.

Yet the fact remains.... Currently there are Muslim extremists fighting their way to the Capital of a country that controls weapons that could cause massive destruction if detonated. They have spoken of a desire to use these weapons. This same group of People have vowed to kill the people that live here with impudence.

I find this situation to be worthy of a rather serious in depth investigation, leading to a reporting of raw data.

May 04, 2009

The Bamboo Stand


We were young... maybe twelve or thirteen at the most. My cousin Patrick lived not too far from here, he's the guy that my son is named after. We played in the woods all the time, and this Saturday was no different.

We had gotten a ride over to their house with my parents and were hanging out in the yard when all the other kids from the neighborhood began showing up. There was the usual discussion of what we were going to do, votes swung from a rock fight to playing army... Playing army won out... Given that the last rock fight ended with my brother getting a sizable wound on the top of his head and me getting into sizable trouble. Yes.. we actually chose sides and threw real rocks at one another... Hey, he raised his head and I took a shot...

Problem was, nothing we did ever turned out quite the way we intended.. Somebody always got hurt too bad, or came near enough to death to scare us into sitting in the den with innocent looks on our faces waiting for the phone to ring. My dad always looked at us constantly at these times with that, "Oh damn... how much is this going to cost me" expression on his face, waiting for the other shoe to drop. In his defense he had good reason.. I mean WE thought the arrow attachment to the slingshot was a good idea... All of us watched in awe as that arrow flew high, arched over and began its rapid descent... Straight toward Kevin's dad as he was on the riding mower... The arrow hit the ground about three feet behind him as he passed the edge of his garden, the thud accompanied by the collective, "Holy shit" of relief we all said.... Patrick took off as fast as he could and plucked the arrow out of the ground, in a slide straight into the garden, before Kevin's dad made the turn on the mower to come back.. He took cover in the vegetation and laid still until the mower passed, then ran back, Kevin's dad never knew a thing... So.. no harm done...

When it was decided what we were going to do, the usual flexing of the testosterone began when it came time to choose sides for the impending battle to the death. That day it ended up being me and Patrick against everybody else. Each team went their own way to begin strategy discussions, consultations of maps, and to gear up. We took our war gaming seriously...

Patrick had several stashes of supplies we raided and we made notes of where other caches of back up material were kept throughout the woods surrounding the neighborhood. So we were good to go. The game that day was to capture each team until all members were dealt with. The winners would be the survivors, thus ensuring our control of the known universe by midnight. So we set to work.

We applied the best tricks we had learned from all the war movies we had watched and all the stories we had managed to wrangle from relatives that had served in Vietnam the sixties and seventies, Korea in the fifties and Europe during World War two. The art of camouflage is indeed a learned skill. The day progressed and one by one the enemy fell. With each capture we would tie their hands and walk them back to an area we had selected among a stand of bamboo, we took turns - one holding on to the captive while the other ran point. There wasn't much undergrowth there and it made it easy to tie them to the small pine trees in a circle so they could look at each other in their humiliation and try to escape as we made our way out for the next victim. We knew that David would be the hardest to catch, and he was... Yet, like all who went against us that day, he too fell... Once we had him back at "base camp" we were all talking about the day's adventure when we heard distant shouts through the trees...

It was difficult to make out what was being yelled, the voice traveled on the wind and we were pretty far back in the woods, but the words "my property" were clearly heard... Then with no warning we heard a gunshot... then another... and another... Then the ground began exploding all around us... Damn.. we were actually under fire...

Patrick and I looked at one another, then without a thought given to our prisoners we took off at a dead run... It still amazes me that we never thought to untie anyone... As we ran, the bullets zipped by us and hit trees near us.. The conversation we had still sticks in my head as Patrick yelled out, "If we hit this trail up here we can circle around and come at him from a flank, we'll split up and hit from both sides!!!" He was still in game mode... My response was a simple one, "Bull shit!.. He's using a real gun and all we have are daisy BB guns..." A tree exploded just to my right as I yelled that out and Patrick retorted with "Point taken!!"

We did nervous pacing at the edge of their yard after we got back until one by one the other team emerged from the woods. We could hear the shouts, the gunfire and the limbs crashing as they made their way back. David had gotten loose first then assisted everyone else. The haggard expressions on their faces told the tale of their trip from the bamboo stand, yet each one had to give us an earful for leaving them.. all they got in return was an awkward shrug... Hey.. war is hell...

I thought about that afternoon today as I watched James running around our front yard geared up with his goggles, guns, canteen, and hat... I had stepped out onto the porch to make sure he was still in the yard. The rule is that he can't go up the driveway or beyond the boundaries of the trees at the edges of the yard, or behind the house, although he did get caught three times doing just that... That was alright though, he used his "inside time outs" to refuel... I must tell him that when he starts taking prisoners to be sure to untie them before he runs off when the real bullets start flying... But knowing him he will take a page from Patrick and seek out the offender to exact his revenge... Damn I miss being a kid...

May 01, 2009

Blogger visit


Dexter's mom, Lauren, came down for a visit.... Dexter came with her as well as Steve, yes.. that would be Dexter's dad...

They were in town for a week, and what a week it's been... The visit was very quick, and very good, James had a wonderful time with Lauren and Dexter. He had a week full of playing with the baby, adventure sleeping (which is sleeping wherever you drop), Julie had a good time visiting, Patrick rounded out the visit with an impromptu mohawking from Lauren...

We had a few late nights talking and visiting, it was nice, we haven't seen Lauren and Steve since Dexter arrived and this was the first time we got to see him... He is a great little kid, although terrified of me... but I have that effect on kids..

I didn't get to visit as much as I would've liked because we had a mishap with the well that had to be tended to.. That little episode took a couple of nights out of the visit for me and provided long stretches of time when we had no water, but in the end it all worked out.. (knock on wood)

It's good to see family and friends that have been away for a long time and this was just such a visit... they ran around with Julie and celebrated Patrick's birthday with them as I worked on the well and everyone had a good time... Now Patrick just has to get ready for the certain hard time he will endure while sporting his new hairstyle....

We talked about everything, had some good food, played with the kids and hung out in a frenetic mellowness that is the type of thing that the heart needs from time to time to recharge.. Thanks guys for coming down and remember that you have an open invitation and a place to sleep anytime you're in the mood for a change of pace from the frenzied lifestyle of Chicago..



They left just a little while ago in the usual flurry of tears and hugs and goodbyes that hurt for a while and are laced with tears that hang around a bit longer than you want them to, but they are the good kind of tears...