Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009

Not my best year.

Started out easy enough. Football on TV, black eyed peas and stewed tomatoes.

Typical days of riding to work, shower and shave, glide through the days of solving problems without the stress. Lunch alone for quiet time. Tea instead of coffee.

Coming home at 5 to a warm meal and the evening news before retiring to my "studio" for creative time and PBS.

As the days grew colder, I surrounded myself in old DVDs of movies that shaped me through the early years. The weekends were trips to Barnes and Noble, buying mysteries, crafts, art, nature, and photo books, sets of television series and Harry Potter movies on DVDs. Evenings were spent recording live "one take" CDs, sometimes to dawn.

The spring brought warmth and the surprise of a 38 year old career coming to an end.

Computer went on the blink, electricity had a problem, flat tire on the bike.... things looked bleak, BUT a schedule was set up to bring calm and normalcy; strictly followed adjusting to the new reality.

A change in priorities started a mental review of what was important, starting a purge of books and music. The question was, "Will I ever read it again?" This began an old need to share and donate to others.

But, the stress of me being at home, without planning on this change, took it's toll.

Shock blurred into yet another NEW reality.

First digging out donations quickly, then moving lumber, wallboard, boxes, books, papers, photos....30 years of memories, plans, realities, goals, highs and lows of more time spent with anyone for my entire life.

The excavation will continue into twenty ten. The days will get colder, the projects expensive, and the sleep interrupted, but spring is only a few months away. Friendships renewed and welcomed and possibilities present new adventures.

So goodbye 2009, I'm not sorry to see you go.

Hopefully the new year will bring some recovery to those looking for employment, an increase in the market, and peace.

I'll be the old man sitting on the front porch, having a cool drink enjoying the sunshine and nature's entertainment.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The last day of a decade, almost

Cold. The bird clock calls me out but I won’t leave the piles of strewn handmade blankets, comforters and Afghans that litter the bed.

Morning is here with the grinding beans and hot water. The hour is an hour late, but the breath still fills the air. The newspaper rest where I heard it hit at five in the morning’s darkness, but I won’t read about the strange dreams that drooled on my pillows.

Away, must move, to the store to retrieve images of reconstruction, but instead of riding, due to the cold, I walk.

In the mall, I meet my old boss who greets me with a smile and a hug like old family friends. Small talk and chit-chat about the advertising manager who has left, not to my surprise, but to her chagrin. An uncomfortable yet a moment in time, until I pressed on and it was forgotten.

Picking up captured reflections of early winter, I wander through stores, trying to stay away from isles filled with confused faces.

Thinking hunger might be the next decision; I journey through packed mobile lot with almost melted water where she dropped. Up to the main drag, following homeless fitting her pink backpack and asking for cigs, I pass the burger joint, without stopping due to the stack of mobile machines waiting in line to order their greasy heart stoppers.

Walking pass the music store, I do not stop, but view in the window. They disappointed me before, so I didn’t enter.

Home. A few quick sips, then up the 13 steps.

An evening of Pattie Smith’s poetry and thoughts of the Libbie “Johnny and the T-Room Boys”, photos of a pregnant girl scout, early insurance and bills not paid, shred the past and save a few for tomorrow.

And tomorrow will be the last day.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Different Perspective

Today was the first day in a week when I could take my morning ride. The sun and 50 degree weather has melted enough pavements to provide a path for the mobile machines and me.

The usual journey, a little slower to start, getting my sea legs going, was a pleasure to feel again. Making note of the snows leftovers, I weave around mounds of slick slush and new potholes.

Bam! Ow! “Focus Cliffy” I tell myself missing one with a bruised ego and privates.

As I got into my pace, I notice a couple walking halfway down the block in front of me. I could ride up and slid around them in the sand or take another street. I decided to take another street.

These are the same houses I pass every day but from a different perspective. Boys playing football in shorts and slow moving cats were my company. A young girl walking two dogs came walking toward me, so I turn and take another detour.

Once home I check some emails with a cup of cold French vanilla coffee.

What to do next? On the table is a trimmer that has a bad power cord. I took it with me on my little out of town adventure, but it would not charge. I checked the website and could not find a replacement power cord. I tried to match the tip with a multiple headed power cord, but nothing fit. The trimmer was just sitting there, useless, waiting to frustrate me some more.

So I pump up the front tire and peddle off to Target to see if they have a replacement cord. The trip there brings several long hills but my legs are back and with a few puffs the heights are scaled without changing gears.

I wander through the store looking for the shaving appliances, but stock has been moved for the holidays. After searching through blankets, toys, and holiday leftovers, I found razors. The model I have did not match anything on the shelf. I looked at the accessories available but nowhere was there a power cord. Checking the variety and prices of different razors and trimmer combination, I pick up a box with a similar trimmer. The same manufacturer has another razor for $10 less, so I exam that box, then go with the higher price unit that matched what I had become accustomed to.

As I checked out, I joked with the cashier that Christmas was over so I didn’t have to look like Santa anymore. “Gonna trim it up.” she smiled.

I packed my bag and unlocked my bike, walking up to the front of the store. I moved to the parking lot, and then back to the sidewalk to avoid an oncoming beat up station wagon. It stopped beside me and I heard a man’s voice, “Hey, I’ve got something for you.”

I stopped and turned to a smiling weathered face of a middle-aged man with a multicolored goatee. I figured he would take another look at me and realize I was not the person he thought I was. Then I thought, it must be some kind of a scam, but I was not in a hurry and this encounter seemed harmless.

“What’s your name?”

“Cliff.” I said with a smile. Where was this going?

He reached around in the stuff vehicle and produced a yellow bag. Handing me the bag with two cans of ravioli, napkin, plastic fork and two packs of crackers, he asked, “ How long you been homeless Cliff?”

We talked for a few minutes, he asked where I slept last night and I gave him a bunch of ho-ha then parted in different directions.

Riding home I thought of this stranger who out of nowhere offered me a free meal with no strings attached. He didn’t preach or try to change my perceived lifestyle.

Then I thought I must have gotten this trimmer just in time. And maybe I should change this sweatshirt sometime.

At least I have dinner tonight.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

21 – Ike and Ginger - Going South

The well-stocked “Dusty Rose” ambled south heading for a new adventure. Leaving the cold winds yet running against the stream, the journey was long for this wearied duo crew.

With the coastline remaining in sight off the starboard side, Ike did not ask where they were headed. He just followed the coast and the stars.

Passing Portsmouth, New Hampshire, the craft was faced to the ocean to get around Cape Cod. In some cases the vessel drifted closer to shore at large ports like New York City, looking for some sign of life.

The daily discussions were about sights of the day, what to eat, and average of location. There were no conversations about future plans or former lives. The destination was created from a woven map and to solve the mystery, the pair had to follow it. Frustration brought angered remarks of being marooned on the rocky island they traveled on. Other days were surrounded in the wonderful sights of the ocean with a chorus of sea birds.

An atypical conversation follows.

“What was with all that porn?” Ginger barked out of the blue staring into space.

“You mean Blackie?” Ike questioned with moving his view to the oncoming waves.

“YES, Blackie!” Ginger responded, “What was all that stuff sitting around? And some of it was pretty rude!” she said grabbing her nose.

“Blackie was a single guy living on in lonely desolation.” Ike defended his cousin with only a stare from Ginger.

“Why are we talking about him?” Ike quipped. “You didn’t know him. I barely knew him, but I had some memorable experiences with him.”

Ginger sat quietly, gripping her cup until her knuckles went white.

“I’m not saying he was perfect,” he interjected, “ but he was family and that made it different.”

Ginger just looked down into her cup.

“I have very little understanding of my family line or their interactions. We did things out of rituals.”

She did not acknowledge these words.

“Blackie was a free spirit and broke from family restraints. He among all the others tried to find his true self.”

“With all those….those….skanky hoes?”

Ike smiled. “He has a lust for life.”

“That’s not funny.”

The rest of the day drew silent. Clouds blew over and the little wooden home continued down the coast slapping the waves in a rhythm matching the heartbeat.

Ike thought they might want to go ashore in Virginia and see if “Puppywoods” had survived. He thought of the strangers they had met and wondered if they had moved on. From so many contacts with people known and unknown, Ike had spent energy interaction with hundreds for years, but now there was only one.

The constant waves brought the sunshine and closed the day, continuing into the darkness. The shore became a ribbon of black. There was no sign of light or activity.

The journey continues down by Ocean City Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay tunnel. Ike pondered if he should pull into Virginia Beach and see if Col. Roland, Newton, or Dexter were still there or had they migrated to parts unknown?

Supplies were getting low, so at Kill Devil Hills, Ike decided to go ashore.

Anchoring the much lighter vessel to the sands that had claimed pirate ships of the past, the duo splashed ashore.

“Should we be this close to shore?” Ginger asked squeezing out the gray sweater that had become her second skin.

“It’s low tide. We should be back by the rise.” Ike stretched getting his land legs from weeks at sea.

They slowly walked up the soft sand to the crumbling black top ribbon of a road running north and south.

Ginger excited pointed and ran toward the cinder big building.
“There! A Brew-Thru! It must have everything we need!”

Ike smiled and followed. The packed bags with cans and candles, matches and mustard, and loads of alcohol.

Dragging the stuffed bags back toward the beach, the sun was starting to set.

“Let’s stay on land tonight” I uttered out of the blue. “There is a nice little cabin.”

Ginger looked shocked, breaking her survival pattern for the thought of slipping in a bed that didn’t sway. She was speechless.

The little cedar-weathered cabin had a deck with a hammock looking out on the beach. The bags were placed on the deck as they peered into the small wood room.

“The water works.” She giggled. “It’s cold, but it works.”

Ike took some of the new supplies to the “Dusty Rose” and brought back another line to tie to the deck. Ginger stripped down and climbed in the cold shower. By the time Ike tied off the line and climbed up the rickety steps to the deck, she was refreshed and wrapped in white towels, two glasses in her hands.


“What is this?” Ike coyly asked, looking her still dripping body in the sunset.

“I found a wine rack, completely stocked.” She smiled unwrapping her hair and giving her head a shake in the last beams of daylight.

They sat together sipping their wine surrounded by candles and serenaded by the roar of the ocean, watching the sunset.

Tomorrow is another day and another adventure.

Christmas then and now


The Christmas holiday from my remembrance then was the day my father showed his family (and anyone else) we could hold our own with presents and food. Everything was to the excess. This was the goal of middle-class families to prove they could consume and provide for the future.

The above picture is from 1966. Gifts sat while we had breakfast or at least OJ, milk, or coffee, and then were devoured through the morning. A gift for each family member was selected and we patiently waited for the wrapping paper and bows to be removed to reveal the amazing wonder.

Every year the gifts grew larger and more expensive. I remember the organ, mink coat, and a car… But there were plenty of socks, shirts, and underwear also. I also remember a cardboard box that was folded into a paper tank and a card table cover that became a fort. Then there was the stuff dog that looked like it came home from the state fair, given to me because I had asked for a dog. When my hair was grown long, my father gave me a Barbie doll. Yes, I got the message.

After the presents were unwrapped and the trashed collected, we stacked the prizes around the lit tree to show guest and visitors what my father could afford.

I continued the tradition for years, with diamonds, animals, clothes, jewelry, electronics, hobbies, and what other desire was expressed I tried to accommodate with the best of my financial situation. The surprises made the day worthwhile, but even those faded.

The one tradition I learned and continue to follow on December 25, while families are gather by the tree, tearing paper and screaming glee of a wish list fulfilled, I go out to a park or wooded area with two loafs of bread. It doesn’t take long and doesn’t cost much, but the rewards are uplifting and memories irreplaceable.

Looking back at the wrapping paper, bows, cards, stress, and “things” soon forgotten, the last tradition is much more relevant and rewarding.

So next year as you sit around your new gadgets and warm snuggles place a few pieces of simple bread outside for earth’s original occupants. They will appreciate it and so will I.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Checked in or Checked out?

When things get

a little rough

and overwhelming….

it may be time to get warm….

So take a break and go to another land. A familiar place from far ago.
The patience necessary to make a brief stay on such a long trip must keep in mind the holiday and the emotions surrounding it.

Finally a room, television, coffee machine, and desk. This is all I need.

The water is hot and the shower was the most refreshing in several months. Revitalized, I can have a hot meal and cold drinks. It's nice to know that holidays still bring complimentary beverages.

Watching public service television discuss the "holy holiday" I can walk around the room in my skives. So this is what a warm room is about.

The sleep is difficult and the dreams of strange parties at Joel's are haunting.

The day was cold but sunny. I wander streets so new yet a part of my past.

A trio of hawks escorted me on my journey. They called at one another, flying shadow on my path to tall perches watching my every move. Perhaps I was stirring their dinner or they were my posse.

Faces showed panic and hurried as if to catch up on days gone by, too late to accomplish their final wish. What little traffic I saw was distracted with phones and text and holiday stress.
I found the spot near a pond where the ducks gather as they did three decades ago. Surrounding me to enjoy the feast and I enjoying their company.

Christmas came early this year. I may not make it to Maymont, but this will moment in the cold and snow will suffice.

So rest to return to reality.

…for it will all be there tomorrow.

Day five of the snow of December 2009

The 9 o’clock bird alarm announces time to rise, dress, and view the sunshine.

Today will be a new adventure.

Coffee and fruit, the weather report, then a quick attack up the 13 steps, several bags of magazines, letters, photos, drawings, newspaper clippings.

Another cup of coffee (unplug the hot water) and take the bags out to the trash. Dig out the wet boxes covered with snow and pile them on top of the broken umbrella.

Now the adventure begins. Pack a sack with a laptop, change of shirts, and some health care items, and then start a new journey.

No direction, no reservations, just the goal of a hot water bath and a room with heat.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Day four excavating the snow storm of December 2009

The sun was back today and still cold, but the difference was to start excavating instead of walking outside.

I've spent months digging through lumber, wall boards, boxes, trash, donations, and memories. There is still more to do, so get to it.

Up the 13 steps to withdraw 6 file cabinets and four trunks. One by one they dragged down the steps and were placed in the living room.

Having broken into a good sweat, I decided now was a time for a walk before digging deeper.

The main roads are drying out, but the mounds of graying ice slowly drip in this bright sun. The traffic is light and the road is not slippery so I make a good pace.

Home again and time to get down to more digging. Christmas music fills the room as drawer by drawer offers new fines. So many photos of cats and their leaches and food and medical records spill onto the floor. Snapshots of every pose and look of over two dozen animals who graced these walls.

And in every excavation, some things must go and some things will be examined and reviewed. A few appear to be treasures, but most turns to be trash and I fill plastic bag after bag. And every page must be read in search of details or personal information.

After so many years, I find photos of a previous life. Baby pictures, yearbook clips, and a few snapshots from a former life, I pile these into a stack. I decide to file these pictures and review at a later date.

And the excavating goes on, but instead of a vague history, I find thoughts and wishes of a person I lived with longer than anyone else on this planet.

So take a breath tomorrow and keep digging.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Anniversary That Never Came True

While spending days and months of digging through boxes, bags, trunks, etc., I found these items. This is a log of my wedding that was kept in a trunk.

They will be put back in a trunk and maybe never viewed again, but for now I share the pictures and vows taken 26 years ago which will not be celebrated this year.

Williamsburg, Virginia December 23, 1983

Announcing the marriage of
Miss Heather Dawn McIver
Mr. Clifford McIver Leftwich
On Friday, the twenty-third
of December
Nineteen hundred and eighty-three
8 o’clock in the evening
Marriage Commissioner
William E. Bowman
In his home
James City County,
Williamsburg, Virginia

May our wedding day
Be the bright beginning
Of a lifetime filled with happiness.

From this day forward,
May we now together
The special joy
Of sharing side by side…

May we feel
The harmony together
That comes from understanding,
Trust, and pride.

From this day forward,
May we face together
Whatever ups and downs
The future brings…

May we laugh,
Enjoy good times together,
And find contentment
In the simple things.

From this day forward,
May we dream together?
Of everything
We want to do and be…

Then may we learn and grow
And strive together
To make our dreams
Become reality.

From this day forward,
May we build together

The happy married life

We’ve just begun,

And may we give and care
And love together…

From this day forward,

May we be as one.

Love is patient and kind

Love is not jealous or boastful

It is not arrogant or rude.

Love does not insist
On it’s own way
It is not irritable or resentful

It does not rejoice at wrong
But rejoices at right.

Love bears all things,
Believes all things.

Hopes all things.
Endures all things.

Love never ends.

Day three of the winter solstice snow of December 2009

Awake to sunshine and the sound of dripping water and churning heater, which means I’m alive and well, the pipes are not frozen and there is electricity.

Good morning winter solstice, I welcome the new day.

A new adventure to dig out the shed that holds the shovel that will clear the sidewalk in front of the house. Mostly ice, but by noon it was turning to mush so even an old guy could clear a path.

Now that the body was warmed up, it was time to exercise and get rid of the cold aches and creaks of this time of year.

Today’s exercise will be a 3-mile walk on fairly dry roadways, with a lot of hills, carrying a 20 lb. pack. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

Sort some photos but no real energy to engage in projects. Too cold to draw or write, so the stupid box fills the darkening afternoon.

As the winter days grow dark and cold, it is too easy to sit and read and eat and sleep. I have a list of projects, but cannot get started. Sunshine helps, but the cold sucks away the intuitive to continue where the warmth left off. Perhaps this is teaching me what was happening in this small building for years while I went off to warmth and community.

Today’s thoughts have been about the season’s “giving” message. There have been stories about how celebrities have become figureheads for charities and causes. And the charities and causes grow more by the minute. Which ones can you trust? Which ones is only a celebrity fad? “Global Recovery for Polar Bears”, “African Aid for Displaced Hungry Rape Victims”, “Appalachian Poor and Hungry since the War on Poverty”, “War Torn Refugees of Detroit”…. And so the list goes. So the celebrities get promotion to their image by spending a few hours or dollars on their favorite club and it gets their promotion to mail out junk hoping fans will follow with more dollars. Lobby for your cause 101. This is the only advertising or marketing causes with no physical product can use. They must feed on your emotion to do the right thing and donate. The human nature feels better when you share your means and care for those less fortunate. Families used to do this in times of need. The Red Cross was one of the most successful of providing assistance to those in need and it was easy to donate to them. Then United Way gathered several organizations to offer a group plan covering more assistance. Much like what has happened to health insurance, more administration cost and options have taken the dollar away from the final result of the request to become a massive drain on the human emotion.

There was a discussion of eliminating or reducing the printing and mailing of “junk mail” today as a “green” option. The response is there are thousands of jobs related to the production and shipping and response to “junk mail”. The local newspaper recently totted the use of being a carrier of “junk mail” or inserts as a relationship between merchants and readers.

Every product or cause or service provides job opportunities, but only if they succeed. The success is based on how creative, clever, and productive the message and product appears or is persuaded to the masses.

So stacks of photos and notes are sorted for delivery to others slowly.

Tomorrow may be more productive.

Tomorrow is just another day in just another life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Day two of the snow of December 2009

Awake to bright sunshine. It’s no warmer but the bright light makes the almost winter day feel better.

Found my stack of Christmas CDs (they were hiding during the moves of boxes and stacks of papers), so I guess I have to start listening to those old familiar tunes again.
A cup of coffee and the “Sunday Morning” show got me warmed up with lap blankets and layers.

Sting gave his feeling of the season by describing winter as a time of reflection and the ghost of the past.

Melancholy, one might say.

Christmas always has been about getting the family together, group meals, good spirits, decorating and presenting gifts.

And this year will be a little tougher than most.
Feed the yard and notice how much snow has dropped off the branches. Strapping on a backpack and grabbing the sunglasses to block the glare, I squeeze through the gate to follow the tire tracks from the Virginia Power truck that brought power last night.

I really don’t need to get out, but I do need exercise, so I do need to go out.

The ice is deceptive, so I tread slowly. My mind wanders to thoughts of falling down and breaking something or getting hit by a falling branch or run over by a swerving 4x4 thinking they can race down the street with less traffic.

To guys trying to dig their cars out, I bid greetings and salutations. No children or dogs at play this morning, but I see a lot more traffic.

At the crossroads, I decide to make the full adventure to the grocery store. I walk on the snowy sidewalk semi packed by previous explorers rather than the street, stopping now and then to rest and enjoy the postcard visions.

I was surprised the real Sunday church, the grocery store, was not as crowded as I had imagined. As I wandered through the aisles of bread, sandwich meat, sliced cheese, soup (what was I thinking? They are heavy), beer (of course) and birdseed (I’m stuck with providing the critter crewe after 30 years, the puff up cardinal reminded me this morning).

Checking out and packing my backpack, I think about Rusty’s blog on the demise of Ukrop’s to a Dutch organization. Though I don’t shop at Ukrop’s, whose name is an icon in Richmond, there has been much discussion about what the family and its brand has done for this town. Yes, they branded their family name to some events around the town while creating many grocery stores with neatly costumed workers and a reputation for customer service. Ukrop’s made as much out of Richmond as it gave, but in this community it was a religion. You may be a Baptist or Catholic, but they all shopped at the Ukrop’s church, which stood apart by not selling alcohol and closed on Sunday. It was a sign of prestige to have your recycling stuffed in Ukrop’s paper bags. So the name “Ukrop’s” became a religion, but now it is passing. To Rusty’s statement, “People eat on Sunday..” is true, but there was a time when ALL grocery stores (and any outlet for alcohol) was closed on Sunday. Families prepared and stored up in anticipation of bad weather and holidays. Does that mean in today’s fast paced world, we cannot prepare for the future, but must have everything immediately ready for us at any time or place?

I leave the church “Kroger” and start my trudge home without my trusty bike to be my pack mule. One step in front of the other brings me home.

A couple of roast beef; Swiss cheese and horseradish sandwiches and football fill the afternoon before I feed the yard again and load up the trash area in hopes they arrive tomorrow.

With frosted fingers, I settle in to watch more football with carrots and popcorn. And as the sun sets and the temperature in the living room drops to 43 degrees, I will stop writing and prepare for an extra blanket tonight.

Tomorrow will have sunshine and more shuffling through boxes. I hope the trash guys come.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

The winter snow of December 2009

First the stiletto of sleet hitting the frost covered windows. I opened my eyes to see the silhouette of the bamboo still standing tall. Snuggling down in the blankets I pondered the thought of not getting up.

I had watched the snowfall illuminated by the streetlight. A light powdering at first, then mixed with rain it covered the yard and street like a sugar cookie coating.

Before bed, I checked the street again. A foot of white stuff covered every fence post, branch and scrub. The pace of the flakes was steady showing no sign of slowing, so I retired to a night of strange dreams.

The sound of chain saws broke the morning silence. Listening for vehicle traffic sounds I pulled the covers around my neck. I heard men yelling to one another then the sound of a large truck, similar to the Monday morning trash truck. Power! I’ve lost power! The trees must have brought down a power line.

Sliding on the dust and dirt pass the gap in the wall. The bathroom reassured me the water was running and not from the ceiling. Flipping the light switch confirmed the lack of electricity.

I stepped out to view the same sight from last night scaring several doves who I spoke to reassuring my invasion of their dry spot. All winter quiet except from my next-door neighbor uncovering her car. “Where was she going?” I pondered in the early frost.

Lacing up my boots, I applied two sweatshirts and sat with a cold bottle of water next to the heater sitting silent in the dull gray light coming through filtered windows.

The sound of the battery driven clock sings a constant duo with the water drips in the bathroom. A plane flies over showing life exist elsewhere.

I checked my cell and see it’s battery has run down with no way to recharge it. I place it on the drawing table with no communication.

Now this is camping.

With a bottle of cold water and a bowl of fruit, I decide what I can do in these conditions.

I could go back to bed? Maybe later.

There is enough light to read or write long hand on paper. Imagine the sound of a pen scratching on paper or turning a page in a book.

But I need to explore this snow-covered neighborhood with my camera in hand.

I must feed the critters that have huddled through the night without electricity or blankets. Good thing I got extra seed yesterday.

I have batteries for the radio, but am enjoying the total quiet.

So I wander out into the yard to access the wonder of global warming up to my shins with a child’s laughter in the background.

The adventure begins at 10:30 and the snow is still falling.

Step-by-step digging into the deep powder ducking under the bowing branches, I see the few dry spots the birds have cuddled in. The pond is frozen and the umbrella in the table on the deck has broken under the weight of the snow.

I spread some seed out into the dry areas for the critters then start toward the alley.
Prying open the gate enough to squeeze into the untouched white wonderland, I see Virginia Power trucks at both ends of the block working on the power problem.

I notice a sidewalk is scraped. As I continue the clean path I speak to the neighbor shoveling the thick powder. We laugh about the power outage and the need to get out and exercise. He continues to shovel and I walk into the street in narrow paths made by the vehicle machines.

Slowly walking down the slush paths that I know will freeze over tonight, I snap a few shots of the neighborhood in the white painting.

I stop and watch children and dogs play in the winter wonderment. This is what snow is all about.

A black dog that showed enjoyment in the icy covering, with no fear, stopped my walk and only fun, he leaped and galloped over drifts shoveling up the mixture and throwing it into the air.

I watched two young lads dragging sleds up a hill I normally travel and smile as the excitement they are about to meet.

I step into the depth to make way for a young women walking in the opposite direction. A pleasant greeting and a smile caring a cup of hot cocoa from the beauty created internal warmth.

Sliding into the convenience store for the afternoon’s relaxation, I noticed the people who had also wandered out.

Reversing my path, I too wandered back to the abode hoping power was restored.

Passing a path clearing pink face man, who asked if the mall was open, I replied I had not ventured that far. He thanked me and continued down a side street, shovel over his shoulder.

Increased traffic of 4-wheel vehicles that thought they could manage the icy streets splashed by.

Another young lass knocking snow off her scrubs acknowledged the conditions with a smile and pleasant conversation.

The plumber down the block welcomed me and stated it was not good biking weather, a statement I laughed and waved at.

The Virginia Power trucks were pulling out as I arrived to the alley, with waves of appreciation of their work.

Settling down and drying off, the power was on and the little heater was pumping as hard as it could the small warm area.

A cup of barley soup and some popcorn filled the afternoon with a funny video DVD that will be passed on to a couple in the coming months.

Then the power went out again.

Standing by the window.

Though not late enough for bed, I stood looking through the fractured gaze window at the lights across the street. “They had power?”

I stood for an hour watching the lights of cars sliding down the street, listening to a party down the block and seeing the flash of lights moving. It was like some drug experience, but there were no drugs. This was just what one does with no light, power, heat in the middle of a pre-winter storm.

After my eyes adjusted to the dark, I walked from window to window grasping each view with amazement. One window has an air-conditioner allowing cold air in. Another window is open to provide an extension cord to wind from the house to the “little house” giving light and power.

Yet another window only shows the bent trees and snow covered trestles giving shelter to the yard critters.

Standing at the window, there is light and motion in the alley and down the hall light flashes on.

There is something special about being alone (I mean really alone) on a night like this. There is a quiet and solitude beyond what we as beings can’t escape, but we avoid.

There seems to be a constant noise in our lives from outside or internal sources except when it snows.

So stop and enjoy it.

This is PEACE.