Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alone With Your Thoughts



OK, you want to try an experiment? It won't hurt and it doesn't take long, but you have to participate.

First, turn off your phone. Don't just set it aside, turn it off. Next, turn off the television, radio, and any other electronic device that hums in the background.

Now, move into another space, away from all these distractions.

If you can move outside into the greenery, do that.

If not, move to a window with a comfortable chair and settle in.

Close your eyes and take a deep breath.

Now open your eyes and just stare at what is in front of you.

Don't move.

Don't talk.

Just watch what is happening.

Now most people will be torn by the thoughts of work and family and the constant struggle of every day life, so let those thoughts flow over you.

Keep deep breathing and you will suddenly find what some call "meditation".

Flood away the worries and the times and the constant struggle to memorize ever minute of every day or every thought.

Free the mind to relax and contemplate what is really important.

Some say the great sages of our time, you know the philosophers, the ones who sat around and had great vision and thoughts of time and space and human emotion, had time to ponder the outcome of the world.

But today, with our busy schedules, we barely have time to think.

Or do we?

Take the challenge and spend some time alone with your thoughts.

Trust me it will surprise you what you find when you are alone with yourself.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

63 TO GO



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At least that’s is how many “For Sale” signs I saw today on my morning ride.

There may be more, but there were only 63 signs posted in front of the houses on my daily path.

I figure I travel 70 blocks with approximately 20 houses per block so only 63 being posted are about 22%.
That may be right for the area, since I read that about 20% of the mortgages are underwater.

Still I don’t know how many more are posted online or in the newspaper or special real estate magazines or anything else real estate agents can draw out of people trying to abandon their debt.

And how many are sitting vacant? Alone waiting for a family, but no one can afford them. Even for rent?

How many have families who are just not paying their mortgage due to the economy?

The moving vans come in and take the belongings of the family. But where do they go?

So the neighborhood changes but I don’t notice it.

Marooned in my own island,

Sunday, July 17, 2011

That's the way it is



Morning wake up with the light at 6, but that is too early. Still must settle the dreams, so turn on classical music and toss and turn some more.

Finally coffee and water and a view of the news on the internet. No longer watch the Today show because it is only promoting itself, besides I already heard all the news on NPR.

So does anyone have anything to say at 9 o'clock on a July Sunday morning? No much. The best giggle was a rum bash from the night before, but it is time for a ride.

The habit preparing has changed since I must now unlock the door that I innocently thought would not have to be. Strapping on the helmet and gloves while surveying the yard takes a different thought to lock up behind myself.

It was a long night so should I continue to my normal path or venture the Sunday path with new wheels? Am I ready for this new venture?

Out of habit or pushing myself to get back into a rhythm, I take the turn to the Sunday path. The ride was about the same yet still getting used to the new feel of the ride. The gyro seems right, but going downhill wobbles the presence. Maybe in the old age, going too fast is not my preference.

Still finding the correct gear, the way is clear with the same sights and sounds. The old Laundromat across from the Patterson Express is closed now, but there is a yard sale down the block. No police car at the church, at least that I can see.

I look at people carrying or riding bikes differently. I wonder what would I do if I saw one of my old bikes? What would have happened if I had been outside when that happened? Would I have been as I think I may have been?

The Park Avenue reminds me I need to get some biking shorts with some support. It has been awhile since I have ridden a bike without shocks and it does make a difference. At least that is what my boys say, so tomorrow, back to tweak the handlebars and get some more shorts.

Back home to dry off and check email, but first lock up the bike and the door to Mansland. It is a shame it had to come to this, but that's the way it is. Check Craiglist and classifieds in an attempt to find my lost friends, but I know better. I just have the option to frustrate myself.

After a bottle of water and some silly emails, it is time to figure what I will eat today. Yesterday was fruit (good) and crappy chicken (bad), so without being hungry, I must figure what to go to the store and purchase to prepare for the daily substance. Sandwich? No, don't want a bunch of bread. Soup? No it is too hot for soup. Burgers? No, don't want to grill. Salad? Hummmmm? Eating alone means making a little mess because it has to be cleaned up.

Still not hungry, I ride to the grocery store before church lets out to fill my packs with critter treats and beer.

Hydrate while watching the scurrying blurs of grey and brown in the yard. Still not hungry, I wander inside to an uncomfortable place to print out a cover for a CD to the wife of a friend of mine who passed away far too soon.

Finally settle on pizza. Can you survive on pizza and beer? We'll see.

Turn on lights and double bolt the doors. Listen quietly to the sounds outside.

And that's the way it is.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Robbed




Started off the day checking the messages on Facebook and email about what happened in my old workplace yesterday. Seems more people were laid off due to poor advertising revenues. I looked at the names of people I knew and felt sorry for them but turned away to take my morning ride.

Locking the back door after a brief coffee and water break, I walk the familiar path to Mansland.
And then a sudden surprise!

The porch which held three bikes was empty?

"This can't be good" I said to myself, but it was true.

My three bikes were gone.

Looking around in some amazement, the rest of the yard seemed the same. The sounds were right the light was right but my friends were gone.

I walked out the back and checked the additional shed as if they may have just moved themselves, but no one was there.

The gate was left open in the wrong direction so this must have been the path.

Sometime between 7 PM and 9 AM, someone or ones had decided to invade my yard and take my transportation.

I understand "dumpster diving" and many times put things out by the trash for passerby's to have for free, but when personal space is invaded, it is something else.

So now what?

Checked the other structures and everything else seemed the same, but the space had been violated.

This was my only transportation other than walking, so the decision was made to purchase another vehicle.

Walking to the bike store, I noticed other riders and closely studied their ride. I don't believe I will see these friends again, but it is human nature to look.

Telling my friends at the bike store what had happened, they quickly supplied me with a wonderful replacement fully equipped. It will take a while to adjust to it, but it is only a bike.

Right?

Since college, a bicycle has been my main ride. Miles and miles of trekking over cement and asphalt to attend parties, dinners, classes, work, and exploring.

So my three buds, Bianchi, Marian, and Redline were there last night and now they are somewhere else.

File a police report with full resolution that I will never see them again. Do not file an insurance report because I can replace them with funds at hand. Check Craigslist and eBay just to take a look, but it may be too early to see.

Think about staying outside tonight, but they will probably not return.

Lock the door and walk inside. Violated, but not defeated.

It may be the economy. It may be a thief of opportunity.

Whatever the reason or the cause, I hope the new homes for "The Grey Ghost", "Big Blue" and "White Lightning" will find new homes and provide safe rides.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Burma Shave

The usual hot ride this morning with the same sounds of pop, pop, pop new roof or the rattle of aluminum ladders being transported by white trucks, of people talking into their hands, babies laughing at the playground and the same sights of swooping Mockingbirds chasing the June beetles who bounce off my helmet and the orange marked trees who will be leaving and the blue Model-T glistening in the sunshine or the cannon in the front yard protecting the house from the unknown, yet today there was something different.
At the top of the hill next to the four lane main street, I noticed a day-glo yellow letter size paper stapled to a telephone pole. On the paper was written, "I'm sorry I hurt you." I continued my looped journey but when I reach the street to cross again I saw another note. "My heart cries" it said. I looked down the road and on every telephone pole and tree there was another message.
After my ride, I slowly back tracked and read each message. "The is no US without U", "Time Moves Slow", "The sky is grey"....
I imagine the young woman who wrote this (there were hearts on the exclamation marks and circles over the i) had an intended reader and knew his path, but it was posted for the whole town to read.
It just struck me, though almost sickening like those little messages on Valentine's candy, these were public displays of affection. Young love at it's best. Usually written in a dairy or hidden away in a secret place, this was an attempt to make a means for a teenage romance gone sour.
And we will never know how it turned out.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sleep



Sleep, you mysterious vixen

You promise me rest and then

Sleep, you evasive vixen of the night

You tempt me with the promise of rest

and yet when I lay down beside you

you only leave me to my constant thoughts


Sleep, you wonderful mistress of the dark

Persuading me to follow you into the unknown

but you draw back and leave me alone

And when you do come

you leave me with dreams

of wonder and mystery

that keep me in turmoil

until the birds wake me

announcing the fading of the blackness

to the breaking of the dawn

Sleep, you are a forbidden foe

but yet I must deal with you

every day and every night.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cursive Writing








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There is this crazy talk going around about not teaching kids to write.

One of the three basic R’s (reading, riting, and rithmatic) will be gone.

Penmanship awards were handed out in the day for the cleanest writing. We would practice for hours on paper especially ruled to give the acenders and decenders the correct space.

We would collect each other’s handwriting styles in autograph books. Our signature became a symbol to who we were.

Different variations were adopted like more of a slant or skew, swashes or open dots on periods.

Letters were handwritten with thought and grace and put in an envelope and sealed and stamped and mailed waiting a reply. Once put on paper, it could not be deleted.

Through the years our signature continue to change. We tried nicknames or formal proper full name with middle initial. Then we became too much in a hurry and our penmanship became sloppy.

Yet, cursive writing was to speed up the printing process of passing words along.

Calligraphy was an outpouring of the writing of letters on paper, yet in a mystical manner. First formal writing for books then different designs became noticed for signs, flyers, advertisements and displays that would get the attention of the passing purchaser.

Then certain tools were manufactured to replicate each letter in its true form. Speedball pens and ink were bought and practiced by many to duplicate letter styles.

My father gave me this book.
I started making posters as a child and became interesting in type styles. There were a few that printers used made from hot metal not much different that the wood blocks created by Guttenberg. These had slight variations of bold or italic, but another artist community grew adapting the style of writing into an art form.
So “fonts” as they became to be called were created for different styles and effects.

Hot for summer.
All the shapes of the letters were adjusted to represent new attractive eye-catching meanings to words.

So the shapes of the words in different type styles translated to the reader different thoughts and meanings.

Then the computer age took over allow the artist the availability to kern and skew and tighten and enlarge and distort the ordinary type font into another wonder.

Words became symbols and icons and logos for a generation.
But what happened to the written word?

Perhaps we have gone away from the signature being the final identification of who we are? Maybe we are just numbers or bar codes or IP locations?

So what do we do when we purchase a large item and have it delivered and the box is on the doorstep and the deliverer is standing there?

Do we just press our fingerprint on the carton and say, “Have a nice day”? Do we swipe a plastic card into a plastic tablet and hope it does not steal our identity?

Maybe they are right and writing is old school. Maybe the pen and pencil onto paper has been passed by like the dinosaur. Maybe it is time to move on and just keyboard in everything.

PS: The typing class I took in high school has paid off more than I had ever imagined.
So who needs to write your name?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Another Letter


Hey Babe,

I always said when you were around it was never dull or boring.

Good rain tonight. Lots of thunder beating any fireworks that could be imagined.

The yard is good. I'm letting it do whatever it wants to do so it is green and lush and shady. We had a storm last night but Puppywoods stood it's ground. On my bike ride this morning I noticed some branches down but I note the trees who are getting very old, like me.

Speaking of the yard, the critters are doing great. You got me providing them a daily meal of blueberries and peanuts and bird seed. I can't help but give them the treats and watch them enjoy the yard in peace. The pond is holding up but the fish died. I don't know what happened, but one day they all left. I'm keeping the pump going and the water is clear. The reflection on the trees and the sound of the splash makes it worth going.

You would have been proud of me. One of my projects was to fill the garden in the back, so I ordered 40 bags of dirt and 20 bales of mulch. Had to get a new account from Lowes but got that all figured out after a long discussion with a customer service person that said you had to bring in your death certificate. Unfortunately, I tried too hard and carried too much and hurt my back again. It's getting better, but I should have known better.

Bunny is enjoy the yard and has grown a taste for blueberries. She also likes to relax under the hollies and stretches out and sleeps as I walk past. Beau-Beau should be proud. There are a gazillion kids in the yard being vacuum cleaners.

I've learned a lot from what you created. Oh, by the way, did I tell you I sit on the front porch and watch the rain. Not so much for the water coming down on the new roof, but the shadows of the trees and weaving light.

I also am starting to understand the life alone. I tried to give you space and time and toys to play with but now understand that can be more than most of us can comprehend.

The soap operas are going off the air. That would have probably done you in, and I start to understand as I start watching a one o'clock soap before lunch. The characters are silly and predictable and the plot is very, very slow, but I can see how one can get captured in it. They were your only friends.

I don't watch much TV anymore. I check the internet news then turn it off. Not much contact with anyone else. A few brief dinners or drinks and then a lot of silence. Not even much music, just NPR at night.

The willow that you liked when we went up to the 7-11 is gone. It was there one day and then the next, it was gone. And there are new neighbors behind me. Don't see them much, just like I don't see most people in the neighborhood. Just a wave or a "Hey" and I pass by.

So I've put a new roof on the house, new windows upstairs, and heat. A new gas furnace put in by the Marx Brothers and the Three Stooges. It was a strange week. Also had the house lifted up and re-enforced on the sag that was scaring me. The holes in the walls are filled and there is new plumbing. The power out to the Mansland has been replaced and is working fine.

But, I've hit the wall with projects to be done. I can't seem to find the motivation to move on.

I've been good about making a to-do list and checking things off, but I've gone off road. I've got the tools and the money to do more, but can't seem to make the move. This month will be the test to see if I can shake it off.

Taken a couple adventures off road, but you set a pretty high standard. The rings are all together in the silver box. And I adjust your heart every morning.

I'm amazed by the things you did in our brief time together. I hope I gave you the space and resources to expand your ideas. Sorry I couldn't give more.

Back to the dull and boring.