Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Rictameter (not): 2010!

Sciptor, a true word lover, offered this nugget of knowledge recently over on his blog: "A rictameter is an unrhymed, 9-line poem with a syllable count of 2/4/6/8/10/8/6/4/2 in which the first and last lines are the same."

Always on the lookout for new forms to try out... I give you...


2010 commences.
Old: set in stone.
Trip around the sun now complete.
Highs and lows, ebbs and flows: spirals drawn.
One year ends, another begins -- One decade passes, another begins.
Pastels or browns, success or failure: probably both.
Trip around the sun barely begun.
New: unset and open.
2010 commences.

Happy New Year! Carpe anum!


Being the proof-reader that I am... I discover that I've misread the directions/definitions. Rictameters involve syllable counts, not word counts. So this is not a Rictameter!

As a teacher, I am always amazed at how often my students don't read the directions, and they end up missing the point. As a teacher, I am too often amazed at how often I do the same. The nice thing is... my students catch me! Or sometimes, I catch my own mistrakes. Sometimes I don't. ;-)

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas: Tis the Season to be jolly?

Christmastime means a lot to most people. I think the majority simply enjoy the season with family and friends. There are some general hassles connected with cramming so much into so little time. (And there are expenses.)

There is also a minority who don't particularly like Christmastime. Family isn't always easy. Friends can be bothersome. And some of us have memories that we'd rather not visit. (Some folk simply aren't Christian! How awkward?)

My wife and I went away this year for Christmas. My kids are out of state, and we decided that Palm Springs was a better alternative than hanging out. I have two weeks off, so we'll have some "hanging out" time at home after the 25th.

While in Palm Springs we watched some TV. I saw an episode from Heat of the Night. The main character didn't really like Christmas. Too many bad memories. He got me thinking... of Christmas 1996... The date is recorded on my first wife's tombstone, marking the day of her death and "promotion." Those were sad times: Christmas memories that could easily still haunt me. And sadden me.

While in Palm Springs I also caught part of the movie, "You've Got Mail." It's the story of a man and woman who meet via AOL. This was back before sites like e-Harmony existed. It was a romantic comedy. Once upon a time, I met a widow on AOL. She lived in New York. I lived in California. We exchanged e-mails, support, advice, prayers, and eventually... wedding vows. Our eleventh anniversary was December 19th. We got married over Christmas Vacation my first year of teaching. Christmas memories of happier times.

The last two years children and grandchildren have visited us from out of state. We had some great times, and clogged drains. This year... on November 15th... my oldest daughter had twin boys. No visit this year! (But some nice phone calls.)

Past memories... which are certainly not viewed with 20/20 vision. What I see though is a mixed bag of sad and happy.

Current moments? Two weeks of Christmas vacation! The first three days, I was sick with a cold. This has happened before. I relax from the stress and strain of daily life and my body says, "Good, I've been meaning to tell you... you're sick."

With Kleenex in tow, Leslie and I then spent four days in the Palm Springs area. We got home yesterday. The weather was good. The view was lovely... snow covered mountains rising across the green of a fairway. We took two day-trips to Joshua Tree National Park. It was beautiful, but I had forgotten my camera. Oops. (I do have some great mental slides.)

Christmas is followed by New Year's. I'm glad for that. Not because we have any big plans, but because it stimulates me to look forward. What am I motivated for in the coming year? Enough of contemplating the past, what do I want to fill my current moments with? How will I orchestrate my present to bring me into a pleasant future?

Christmas past is beyond our control. The future is too.

What we have is now. And right now... things for me are pretty good. The dramas and traumas are low-key. My days have lots of bright moments and occasional triumphs!

The tapestry of life is varied. Sometimes the hues are dark, sometimes pastel. That's just the way it is.

Bottom line? For the majority of you... Merry Christmas! (It was ordinary. That's a good thing.)

For some of you... Christmas is over. Yay!

For some of you... who may be in the midst of troubling times... May the God of all consolations lift up your fallen spirits and give you renewed hope for the coming year! (For you... it's not the season to be jolly. But after a bit, the season you are in will change. That's what seasons do! Better times will come.)

Regardless of the type of Christmas you've had, time marches on. The old year is almost over. In fact, the second decade of the New Millennium is upon us!

My wishes for all of you is... Happy New Year! (Look for it.)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Communication : Pitfalls and Potentials

One of the joys of blogging is discovering (and creating) a far-flung community of like-minded thinkers. Writing is thinking, and only the few are willing to pay the price exacted by regular excursions into the realm of personal thought.

DawnTreader, from Sweden, has a weekly post where she shares a meaningful quote. This week she posted a quote from the book Slow Man by 2003 Nobel Prize winner: J.M. Coetzee --

"There are the words themselves, and then, behind or around or beneath the words, there is the intention. As he speaks he is aware of the boy watching his lips, brushing aside the word-strings as if they were cobwebs, tuning his ear to the intention."

I see in this quote, a potential recipe for madness. Let me explain...

I am a truth seeker and a traveler. I grew up on the tail-end of the hippie generation, graduating high school in 1971. Even back then, I had an analytical bent. I enjoyed math, literature, and sports. But perhaps even more, I longed for deep personal interaction.

One of my sisters once said to me, "Why can't you just be shallow, like the rest of us?"

My sister did and does perhaps represent the majority opinion and life-style. For many, and perhaps most, life is rarely deep and meaningful. Usually it's just there.

Against this back-drop of shallowness, an analytical, caring, seeking, listening person is out-of-place. Coetzee's character, who brushed "aside the word-strings as if they were cobwebs, tuning his ear to the intention..." reminds me of an earlier self, a self who nearly drove himself crazy.

Back in the day, often during parties, hanging out with friends, or even playing chess with a friend, I would listen for the meaning behind the words. "What do they really mean..."

This not only led to isolating speculation, it led to alienation... I was often at least one step removed from a conversation. I was listening to the words, but at the same time searching for the intention, the motivation, the true meaning of what was being said.

It was maddening. Like a computer caught in an infinite loop, my brain and psyche would thrash upon itself fruitlessly.

I think this went on for several months, and I grew in despair. Some of my friends became worried. But one of them set me free!

"Don, what if people were just saying what they mean, and meaning what they say?"


After processing that profundity for a while, I tested it, and he/she was right. (I say he/she because I can't remember who said it to me. Surely a Zen master in disguise. I think her name was Ann.)

Since then I have learned that most people, most of the time simply say what they mean and mean what they say. If I have any doubt, I just ask a simple follow-up question. How liberating!

I have also learned that some people, some of the time, cloak what they mean in what they say. These people are in touch with a depth inside of themselves.

These are the people where "brushing brushing aside the word-strings as if they were cobwebs, tuning his ear to the intention..." is an appropriate response. With these people, deep, meaningful conversation is possible.

One meaning of converse, is to share views by talking. It involves give and take, questions and answers, regarding and being regarded. Like a dance it has beauty and grace.

Conversation of this graceful sort reminds me of another quote from SeptemberMom's blog: "In life as in dance: Grace glides on blistered feet." Alice Abrams, the author of that quote, implies that artistry requires "blistered feet."

The Art of Conversation is no different. Done poorly, it can lead to misunderstanding and pain. Done well, it can lead to friendship, community, insight, and growth.

In conversation, one size does not fit all. Not all who walk, dance.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

December Reflections

Recently I began to visit a daily photo blog. DawnTreader, the blogging photographer lives in southern Sweden. (How cool is that?)

Her pictures and post titles often invite fiction or, sometimes, poetry.

Today her picture inspired me to "pen" a brief poem.

DawnTreader's post is entitled: Tuesday Blue: December Reflections. Here is her picture:

Here is my poem:

December Reflections

Everything seems a bit blue
and upside down.

Nothing is clear
but strangely blurred.

Life is such a riddle.

But then...

I discover I'm looking down
instead of up!

I'm not even seeing what's real,
just some doubly reversed image.

No more December distortions!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Coffee capers!

I like to laugh. Sometimes I laugh at myself, and sometimes I laugh at my friends. Lots of times, my friends laugh at me. We seem to take turns.

Three days in the past week we've had rain here in SoCal. We get a lot more sunshine than rain, so we are unaccustomed to the simple things rain brings, like carrying an umbrella.

My morning routine was thrown off this week simply because my hands were a bit more full: an umbrella requires a whole hand!

As I left the house, I had an umbrella in one hand, a lunch pail, soft briefcase, coffee mug, and keys in the other. I have large hands, so I was able to navigate everything to the car. The difficulty came at open-the-car-door time.

I put the mug on the car roof and pried open the driver's rear door. Slipping my lunch pail and briefcase in, I then closed the umbrella, shook it off, tossed it in the back, and slid myself into the driver's seat. My glasses were slightly speckled, but I was otherwise not the worse from the light sprinkles.

I performed a three-point turn-about and started up the block. Several houses down I reached carefully for my coffee cup which was... not in the cup holder. Oops.

Realizing my mistake I slowed the car. The coffee mug was metal, and I expected that it lay in the road in front of my house. Just then I saw a silvery shape pass in front of the windshield, I heard a thump, and I watched coffee splash all over the front hood of my car.

Completing my stop, I jumped out of my car to retrieve my mug and its cover from the roadway. I was greeted by the strong smell of fresh coffee. Looking at my car, I also saw steam rising as the coffee freed itself into the atmosphere.

I shook my head, looked around for traffic, and climbed back into the car, mug in hand. I put the car in reverse and returned to the front of my house. I pulled out the garden hose and rinsed the fresh coffee off of my car. Duh!

Slightly wet, I turned off the hose, returned to my car and completed the journey to work... ooffee-less.

Later in the day, a coworker called me on my cell. My wife answered it, since I'd left it on the kitchen counter, next to my wallet. My coffee caper was not my only morning foible.

Who knew that umbrellas were so disconcerting? Or maybe it's just me.

* * * *

Later in the week as I was recounting my mishap with a co-worker for her amusement, she shared her own coffee caper.

During her morning routine she was putting together lunches, making coffee, and feeding her dogs. Her mother-in-law had passed away earlier in the week, and she was still in a bit of a fog. Duty called, even though part of her was processing the loss.

Whatever upsets our routines, umbrellas or bereavement, mishaps happen. That explains why she noticed, just in time, that instead of filling the coffee filter with coffee, she had filled it with dry dog food. Oops.

* * * *

Sometimes I laugh at myself, and sometimes I laugh at my friends. My bereaved friend found comfort in the laughter, and I was reminded that God must have a sense of humor seeing that we are so funny.

My coworker friend pointed out, "We were made in God's image. Is it so strange to think that we and God should share something so human as a sense of humor?"

I hadn't thought of that. Until then.

Perhaps that explains why, I like to laugh.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Time marches on! And so do we.

I enjoy keeping up with my friends who blog. Chase is one of them.

TS Kuhn, author of Structure of Scientific Revolutions, suggested that scientific communities progress as a unit. (The current Climate-gate saga serves as an example.)

I think blogging communities do the same. We get each other thinking.

Chase recently returned from a year in Taiwan. He's been home about two months. He notes that his experiences seem to have happened a lifetime ago.

As I pondered his post... I waxed poetic:

If Yoda wrote poetry…

Russian nesting dolls are we?
Old me’s contained in new?

Pearls are we?
A grain of earth at core…
building coat after coat of living splendor…
one day at a time?

Travelers are we?
Old journeys wrapped in new?
Early days encased in present?

And what of tomorrow?
Then who will we be?

Answer me that!

* * * * * * * * * *

Via the wonder of the internet, we can build communities that stretch across the globe. How cool is that!

And together... we step forward... and grow.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Travel: Witches in the Woodwork - 3 (final)

The last Wiccan I met on my travels was on a Greyhound bus.

After two years in college, I took a year off. It wasn't a well thought out year off, but it was full of adventures.

It started by car, my '67 Fiat Coupe. I had just a little money, and two possible destinations: Norwood, Mass. (for a Halloween Party), and Long Island to visit boyhood friends. (The boyhood friends were not from my boyhood, but from the fellow I was traveling with. The Halloween Party... that was with my friends -- one was a former co-worker from my days at Baskin-Robbins. Her name was Toni.)

That road trip lasted about two or three months. We left in mid-September, and I returned in early December. I almost didn't come back. I almost stayed in Norwood, Mass., but that's another story.

I had a job lined up in Norwood, and I had roommates lined up too. But at the last minute, we scuttled our plans. I decided to travel back to California, while my traveling buddy continued his journeys with the aim of working the ski lifts of Vermont. (His plans didn't anticipate a nearly snow-less and jobless winter in Killington.)

My plans involved traveling by bus from Norwood, Mass. to Anaheim, California.

Currently you can buy a non-refundable, one-way ticket from Greyhound to make the 3,325 mile trek from Boston to Anaheim for about $250 dollars. The trip would take 3 days, 2 hours, and 10 minutes. (The trip would also involve 4 or 5 transfers.)

To most of my readers, that doesn't sound like a great trip. It's not.

But that's where I met Wiccan #3. She was a senior in high school and just getting into her studies of Wiccan.

Memory is funny. The first thing I remember about my bus trip was a 35 to 45 year old woman who sat next on the first leg of my trip. She wore a wig and heavy make-up. She had a really sad story. I don't remember the story, but I remember giving her some (if not all) of the little money I had left.

People are like fish. Different kinds of fish live in different kinds of water and at different depths. The fish that travel the Greyhound are different from those who fly. They are poorer and a bit rougher. (A similar contrast can be found in various department stores?)

There is no reserve seating on buses. It's a crap-shoot. My next seat mate was much more to my liking: closer to my age too. (I was 19ish; she was 17ish.)

I don't recall her name, though I've tried. She lived in Overland Park, Kansas. I know that because we exchanged letters for a while. I even visited her while on another road-trip. I stopped by the day she was loading her moving van. (That was a short visit.)

On the bus, we chatted, conversed, discoursed, shared our histories, shared our interests, and perhaps even flirted a bit. We had the time. Plenty of it. We slept, leaning on each other -- sitting up. It was a long bus ride.

24 hours into my trip, I was in Chicago. We had a short layover and transfer in Chicago. She accompanied me out onto the streets. I was trying to find a bank, so I could cash a refund check from Cal State, Fullerton. (I had paid my fees, but withdrawn from school in order to hit the road. They refunded my fees, and now I needed a bank to cash the check.)

We ran into some difficulty: First, I couldn't get anyone to make eye contact. Partly the problem was that in the big city you don't look at strangers; and partly, I looked strange. (I really couldn't blame them.)

Secondly, I was suffering from too long on a bus. It was affecting my mind. Here's how I knew:

I finally got someone to look at me and I blurted my question, "Excuse me, can you tell me where I can find a...., uh, a..... uh..."

They walked away.

I couldn't remember the word for bank! Too long on a bus! Too long on the same side of a bus.

The girl and I gave up and got back on the bus. I got a nice neck rub to sooth my sore neck and fevered brain. (My dad was a banker, and I had drawn a blank. Ouch.)

About twelve hours later, we had reached her departure point.

Perhaps we had developed a bit of the Stockholm Syndrome, only not for our captors, but for our fellow-prisoners -- I mean travelers. (Or each other.)

However it happened, I ended up staying a day or two with her and her sister. Her sister was older, probably early 20s, and she was a dancer, a ballerina. (She had the legs to prove it! Buff.) She also had a boyfriend. The two sisters shared a house. Their mom was... out of the picture... and their dad was overseas working for an oil company.

My Wiccan friend was a senior at an all girls' school. She took me to school the next day: kind of an unorthodox show-and-tell project. Or... look at the young hippie I found on the bus coming from New York! Isn't he cute?

I didn't see her perform any of the spells using special candles she had told me about, but I did meet the German Shepherd her dad had left to protect his girls. The dog had flunked out of police dog academy. The dog could do everything (including attack on command), but could not scale a six-foot wall. The dog tolerated me. I was more suspect than welcomed. (I remember the dog sleeping beside the bed I slept in... quietly growling in the night. -- I kept my feet in bed until daylight!)

For whatever reason, I got back on the bus to continue my trip home. I'm guessing it had to do with limitations on the ticket.

A day and a half later I arrived at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim, California. I think one of my sisters drove over to pick me up. We made the five minute drive to our parents' house: I was glad to be home.

One of the first things I remember doing after getting home was taking a walk. It had rained, but it was still warm enough and dry enough to go walking... in... flip-flops. I smiled. Ahhh... California winters...

* * * * *

So what did I learn about witches?

They're not all bad. The ones I met were people. Most, like me, were seekers. I respected that then, and I still do.

Too often I suspect we need to ask ourselves, "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?"

We condemn things that are alien to us, like witches, but ignore things that are close to us, like __________. (Fill in the blank... for you.)

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." (I've read that in the Bible!)

I've also read, "All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way..."

It's too easy to judge others in order to excuse ourselves. Too easy to pick at splinters in others and ignore planks in us.

Like the religious folk who presented Jesus with the woman (and not the man) taken in adultery, we need to hear Jesus say, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."

What happened to those religious folk? "At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first..." (The older ones are sometimes more aware of personal failure(s). Hey, but I'm older...)

I'm reminded of the words of a song:

It's me, it's me, oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer;
It's me, it's me, oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer.

Not my brother, not my sister
But it's me, oh Lord
Standing in the need of prayer.

* * * *

There may be Wiccans in the Woodwork; that's okay. That's not my direct concern. One thing I learned on my travels was that people are people. Needy people. People like me. Many of them Seekers... many still "on the road to find out."

When I was a Seeker, I read this, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you."

And so I sought, and so I found.

How about you?

(And to be honest... I'm still asking... seeking... and knocking...
I believe that life is not about arrival, but about travel.)

PS: In an earlier post I mentioned that I didn't carry a camera (or wear a watch). But one of my cousins had a camera. From my trip up the coast two years earlier (Wiccans #1), Dennis took this picture of Nick and I.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Travel: Witches in the Woodwork - 2

I went to Cal State Fullerton in the early 70s. I went to college because I was expected to. I was an undeclared major for my first two years. After two years, I took a semester (or two) off.

It began with a road-trip.

I had already paid my fees for the semester, but somehow a friend and I decided that driving my black '67 Fiat Sport Coupe to the East Coast to visit his home town on Long Island was a good idea. (Better than college?) It certainly was a memorable trip, even if it wasn't very smart.

One of our first destinations was a garage in Las Vegas. It seems that I had cracked an engine mount and my engine was sagging. (Falling out a bit?) I think I might have cracked it that time I accidentally got my car airborne. (Who knew that the gas station I was cutting through in a late-night car race didn't have a driveway onto the street I wanted to exit on? Off the curb I went -- into the air -- and two years it landed me in a Las Vegas repair shop.)

On the way into Vegas, we had pulled off the road, hiked into the desert and admired the night sky. It was awesome. Away from the city lights, you see things. That's what this trip was about: seeing things.

After the garage in Vegas, we headed to the Grand Canyon. Most people visit the south rim, but we were on the north rim. It's about 8,500 feet above sea level and gets snow in the winter. We there in late September, just a few weeks before the campground would close for the winter.

"What's at the Grand Canyon North Rim?

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon offers everything the visitor could ask for; mule rides down into the canyon to Roaring Springs, river tours, the lodge, restaurant, saloon, gift shop, deli, visitors center and campgrounds.

How far is the South Rim from the Grand Canyon North Rim?

The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is only eleven miles away from the North Rim if one could fly, but by car it is 215 miles. For the avid hiker there is a grueling rim to rim trail combining the North Kaibab Trail and the Bright Angel Trail or South Kaibab Trail."

We camped for a few days, and then hiked down into the canyon for two nights. Grueling but beautiful.

Before we left we enjoyed the Lodge. "The original Grand Canyon Lodge was built in 1928 and burned down in 1932. The new lodge was built in 1937 and this time with a grand window that overlooks Bright Angel Point."

That's where I met my second set of Wiccans. They didn't actually come out of the woodwork, they were on the scenic balcony, enjoying the few. In their mid-twenties, the women were ordinary looking. But as we were co-enraptured with the beauty of the view, they mentioned that they were developing powers that enabled them to manipulate some of Nature's grandeur. The biggest accomplishment to date for these new witches? Conjuring up a small storm some weeks before. (Or so they said.)

Being open-minded -- and a bit naive -- I took this all in as if it were normal. For them it probably was.

It was just a chance encounter. I didn't see them again. The next day my friend and I loaded up our sleeping bags and day packs. We hadn't planned to do any hiking. We went any way. (We left the Fiat and tent top-side.) Here's what we did...

"The North Kaibab Trail is a strenuous, 14.5 mile one-way backpack. This is the only North Rim trail leading to the Colorado River. The trail descends beneath the rim, through the forest, for the first 5 miles, to Roaring Springs. Roaring Springs is a waterfall created by water pouring from a muav cave into Bright Angel Creek. The trail continues along Bright Angel Creek and on to Phantom Ranch."

Wiki-pedia offers some geographic clues: "Phantom Ranch's elevation is 2,550 feet; that is about 4,600 feet lower than the South Rim and about 5,800 feet lower than the North Rim."

We hiked down from the North Rim, and then, back up to the North Rim. It. was. strenuous.

More on that... another time.

PS: Back in the day, I didn't carry a camera. I didn't wear a watch. All the pictures are mental, and they are lovely.

PPS: Saving the best for last... pics of my grand-kids!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Travel: Witches in the Woodwork - 1

"Standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, I've got seven women on my mind...", so goes the song from the 1972 by the Eagles.

About the same time this song was gaining airplay, I took a few road-trips. Along the way I met some interesting people.

I'm a talker. I like people. I find them interesting, so it's not unusual for me to engage in conversations with strangers during my travels. I've been doing it for years.

A week or so ago I watched a BBC production called Dr. Who. My wife spent some time in her youth in Scotland, and the Dr. Who series is part of her personal culture. I was just tagging along. In one particular episode, The Shakespeare Code, three unique extraterrestrials play key roles in the unfolding drama. Two of the three look very much like our Halloween witches. The third is a pretty, but conniving, blond. The third was more typical of the witches I've met.

The story line suggests that maybe these women were the prototypes for the witches that appear in some of Shakespeare's works. The story suggested to me that there are witches in the woodwork: real life practitioners of wicca who lurk at the edges of our awareness.

I've met a few.

Wika-pedia defines wicca as a neopagan, nature-based religion. If political correctness applied to witches, then we'd call them Wiccans.

Wiki-pedia informed me that Wiccans "typically worship a Goddess (traditionally a Triple Goddess) and a God... Other characteristics of Wicca includes the ritual use of magic, a basic code of morality, and the celebration of eight seasonally based festivals."

The Wiccans I met seemed nice: misunderstood nature lovers perhaps?

The first two appeared on my radar while I was on a month long motor trek up the West Coast. Starting out from my hometown of Anaheim, the home of Disneyland, Nick and I headed north. Mostly we camped out along the way. Mostly we stayed in state parks. It was beautiful.

We weren't great planners, so we had no reservations. That was only a problem the first night when our targeted state park was full. For a slightly higher fee we were able to camp out in an adjacent privately owned campground.

An LA Times writer provides a description of the area, "Waves splash over the tide pools at Carpinteria State Beach, a popular coastal camping spot southeast of Santa Barbara. When day trippers leave, campers can enjoy empty stretches of sand and the sounds of crashing surf. There are hiking and biking trails with beautiful views of the Santa Ynez Mountains on one side and the Channel Islands on the other."

We camped next to that. One of the features of our campground was an open recreational pasture-like area. Nick and I enjoyed a game of Frisbee until a youth group from a local Baptist church set up a volleyball net. They invited us to play. I joined them, and Nick retreated to our campsite to relax.

When I returned an hour or so later to the campsite, Nick was not alone. He had attracted the attention of two slightly "older" ladies. Nick was probably 19; I was 18. The girls appeared to be in the mid-20's. Go Nick.

In the course of the ensuing conversation, I discovered that our guests were Wiccans. They too were enjoying the beauty of the beach. They had moved to Santa Barbara, drawn in part by the Wiccan community that lived in the area. They were saving up their money to buy some land. They wanted to plant a grove. (Add eerie music here.)

I left Nick to the converse with the witches while I meandered over to the youth group's campfire. They had invited us for dessert and some singing. I opted for the fire, Nick opted for the shadows. (Truth be told, the girls were more interested in Nick anyway. Had the positions been reversed, I might have stayed in the shadows as well.)

For me the night was a bit of a fork in the road. At the campfire, I heard for the first time the stirring lyrics of "For Those Tears I Died." I was left pondering the question, "What if God really is real? What if Jesus is really alive and cares about my tears?"

Nick and I were pilgrims of sort. Like the title of the Cat Stevens' song of that era, we were "On The Road to Find Out."

Little did I know the reality of the lyrics of another Christian hymn that says, "I sought the Lord, and afterward I knew he moved my soul to seek him, seeking me;it was not I that found, O Savior true; no, I was found of thee."

Regardless of that watershed night of Wiccans and Christians, Nick and I continued our journey up the Coast.

It was several years later, on another road-trip that I met my next pair of Wiccans.

More on that... next time!

Here's Cat Steven's singing the anthem of my heart at that time: On The Road To Find Out.

Here's the compare/contrast to the song I heard at the youth group's campfire:

Was it the 70's or was it just the time of early adulthood? Or maybe both?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Twins! (and other blessings)

A special bulletin: Today, in central Illinois, a set of twins were born. Mom and identical twin boys are doing fine.

I have no pictures yet... but here is a "before" of their mom, my daughter: Joanna.

Joanna is and has been an athlete. That paid dividends at delivery. (The boys are welcome additions to her family: Abby, Rachel, and husband John.)

My son, Joel, who lives, works, and plays in British Columbia is also active. Here are two pics I unearthed of him online. (In the PS to a post I almost missed, was a link to a race called Phantom Run. He won the 12k mountain trail race on November 14th. An hour and seven minutes to cover seven plus miles of trail.) The other picture of him, in better weather, is from the Mountain Madness website that sponsors these "fun" runs.

The last two pics are of my youngest daughter. (She's in Illinois to help out the new mom!) She worked this summer in the Sierra Nevada mountains repairing and building back country trails, including parts of the John Muir Trail in Kings Canyon National Park. Here are a couple of pics from her summer job. (She's the one in the blue bandana.)

Kids and grand-kids: the dividends of a life invested in family.

The highlight of my birthday on Saturday, was hearing my two granddaughters sing Happy Birthday over the phone. Good times. Great blessings.

Happy Birth-day Twins!

PS: Just as I was getting ready to post this... I got an e-mail... with an attachment. (Beauty is in the eye of the beholder... Ain't they cute?!!!!)