Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thought Provoking Thursday's

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. . . . As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the highest philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. . . . The man of this school goes first to a political meeting, where he complains that savages are treated as if they were beasts; then he takes his hat and umbrella and goes on to a scientific meeting, where he proves that they practically are beasts. In short, the modern revolutionist, being an infinite skeptic, is always engaged in undermining his own mines. In his book on politics he attacks men for trampling on morality; in his book on ethics he attacks morality for trampling on men. Therefore the modern man in revolt has become practically useless for all purposes of revolt. By rebelling against everything he has lost his right to rebel against anything.”

G. K Chesterton

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Dragons, Golf Carts and Jesus

A few Sunday's ago,  I was hoping to drive home a point during Children's Church using that good ol' game of hangman.  In attempting to review a story we discussed the week prior, I did a little Q&A.  Generally, those don't go so well. Some kids were gazing up at the ceiling, pinching or being pinched by their neighbor, others were blowing air into their emptied Capri Suns and sending the straw flying across the room.  Some were burping.  It's what they do. Good thing one kid chirped up to clue me in:  "Maybe no one is answering because the answers are obvious.  It's like, duh."

True story.

And I thank you for that valuable piece of information, Sonny.

I turned my attention to the chalk board where I drew out a succession of dotted lines and the infamous swinging gallow.

"We will not be hanging people this morning, kiddos!" said I.  Truth is, Miss Brenda had been swinging from the gallows a few Sunday's before.  Just didn't seem right in the moment.  Or ever.  So we decided on a komodo dragon because they are nasty little cusses anyway.

The kids figured out pretty quickly that I am a disabled drawer of animals.  As you can see, the tail on this komodo rivals that of a tyrannosaurus rex.  The kids thought it was hilarious.  And they took advantage of it, my drawing disability.

They were on a roll.  The board soon reflected the following:


Now, these kids... they're bright.  And they're crafty.  Instead of letting me off the hook and just providing me with the "m" needed to end the game and save the poor dragon from certain death, they were laughing hysterically and shouting out "z" "q" "x" and other improbable suggestions.

Pretty soon, the komodo dragon was sporting a rastafarian hat, sneakers and a glove.

They continued on with more of the same calibre guesses: "w" "7" "egg" which left me with no choice but to draw the komodo driving a golf cart. It's just where my mind is.

After exhausting the entire alphabet (with the exception of "m"),  I decided to add a few golf clubs in the back. After drawing them in, one said child remarked, "That looks like a pair of grannie legs sticking out of the back of that golf bag.  That's weird."

Touche, kid. Touche.

As a disclaimer, no children were hurt in the staging or as a result of this game.  I think. What I do know is that they were taught that Jesus loves them and wants them to keep their promises through a ridiculous game of hangadragon. 

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Comings and Goings

Life has a funny way of taking you many places if you let it.  Even in my own mind, I wander.  That's generally dangerous though.  Especially behind the wheel.

But that's jumping ahead of myself.  Recently, me and few companions were able to take a trip down Highway 1 along the coast of California.  Our travels took us from San Francisco, North to Napa Valley then down to San Diego.  Of course, that seems like a lot of driving (and it was) but instead of passing toll booths, turnpikes, and angry Michigan drivers (DON'T pretend you don't know what I'm talking about), these were the sights we took in on our way through Monterey and Carmel...

Welcome to San Francisco...

 I made the guys listen to "I left My Heart in San Francisco" by Tony Bennett a few times over the course of the day.  I insisted that I was culturing them. 


"... to be where little cable cars 
climb halfway to the stars..."

And then on to Big Sur and Pfeiffer Beach.  My favorite.  There were probably 20 people on the beach that day.  It was 75 degrees but the water was bone chilling cold.  I winced and then scurried back to lay on the warm, dry, soft white and purple* sand. 

 Panoramic shot.

 *I tell the truth.

 This is Digger.  He was waiting [im]patiently for his Master to come back from surfing. 

This is my brother whipping himself with some long tube-like kelpy thing that washed up onto shore.  I had never seen anything like that before on beaches on the east coast. I've been too lazy to research what it is.  I'm sure google will know exactly what I'm looking for when I type that name into the search engine.

Below are a few random shots from our travels. I hope some time in your life's journey, you'll get the opportunity to visit California and these wonderful places. It's unlike any other place in the world (can't verify but it sure sounded right).

With gratitude,

Hearst Castle.  Or at least 1/10 of it. 

The heated indoor pool at Hearst Castle that I would have gladly sold my first born to be able to swim in.  (sorry, kid)

Laguna Beach.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tricking Small Children

What happens when a little girl asks to hear stories about "her" horse's day at her Pop's farm in West Virginia?  The horse writes her, of course.

My sister said that she was getting a daily barrage of Q &A from the little girl. "What's Tate up to today, mom?"  "I wonder if he's being a good boy?"  "Is he being nice to Rainy Day and Patches?" Sighing, I'm sure my sister in all her adult wisdom responded with something like "I wish I knew, sweetie. But I don't think Tate does much more than eat grass and fertilize the lawn.  It would be nice to ask him what he does all day out at the farm but horses can't really talk or write."


WRONG-O, mom. Wrong-o.

Of course horses talk and write!  Duh.

Luckily, the little girl's Aunt Poo went out to the barn with a large pencil in hand and some wide-lined paper and stood by while Tate wrote 5 long pages detailing his experiences with Tuna, the barnyard cat and Patches, his very best friend who has long eyelashes and a sassy disposition.

Word on the street is that it was bought, hook, line and sinker.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What to do when there's nothing to do: A survival guide for country folk without power, water, AC, road access and hope

Friends with Power,

I write to you with the sound of our backup generator sputtering mercifully in the background. Instead of using our alternate source of power for reasonable things like DVD watching and online poker playing, we are making sure our 2 deep freezers full of deer carcass and minestrone soup stay edible. It's a worthy cause I reckon. However, I'm melting. It neared 100 degrees yesterday which is why I was on my back on my living room floor flailing my arms and legs in a summer-time snow angel motion.

The thought of being without modern conveniences for an extended period of time is not savory, however, it's kind pioneerish which in my head puts me alongside one of my childhood idols, Laura Ingalls Wilder. Now the only difference between her and me is an electric toothbrush.

If you look closely in the background, you can see one of our horses, Patches, fa-la-te-de-da-ing and grazing on some nearby grass. Little did she know that in a few short minutes, she'd have an 100 lb. metal barn door careening towards her.  She jumped the fence like a champ and thus saved her hind end.

Hard to imagine that just hours earlier, the sky looked like this...

Yesterday morning, I took a 3 hour hike to assess the damage caused by this storm.  Along my route, I came across these fellows:

Cows are naturally afraid of everything under the sun so when I asked this guy if he was spooked from the storm, he answered "Duh, yeah."

Moving on to things that aren't quite as sassy, here we have Queen Anne's Lace (my favorite flower of all time).

On a side note, I will never understand the thought process behind someone rolling their crusty car down the ditch on someone else's property.  Or maybe I can.  It maybe sounds something like this: "Here you go! You don't want this but here you go!" 

But that car has nothing to do with the storm.  Me taking a picture of my fancy farm boots in the stream does.

The reason I was playing down at the stream was because I was meeting this guy on the four-wheeler.

Yours Truly had to sit through (seemingly) hours of the following:  "Amanda Kate, let it be known that your dad is a GENIUS!"  Of course he was referring to his funnel and hose contraption that he was using to collect water from the stream for bathing and toilet flushing.  I gave him kudos.  It was smart. I come by it honestly.

Finally on the way back, I found this old spare tire on the side of the road.  I also took some pictures of huge trees that had been uprooted but who wants to see that?  Random roadside trash is far more interesting. I hope you agree. 

*This post was written two weeks ago.  By now, you know better than to assume I'll be timely with my posts.  We have since gotten power, water and road access back after 10 days without.  You should know it was a precarious and smelly situation. 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

An Open Letter

While my brother and I were on the train back from our wanderlust excursion in Rome, we had the great fortune of sitting next a woman reading the NYT.  Our great fortune was not that she was reading our "hometown USA paper" but that Patti was the best riding companion and the most perfect stranger you could conjure up.  After chatting a while about Clint’s military service, we delved into her time in Italy (she is American) and the fascinating jobs she has since undertaken.  There isn’t much Patti hasn’t done or seen or any subject matter she cannot speak eloquently about. 

Frankly, it’s admirable that anyone could acquire as much knowledge and not use it for world domination.

After exchanging contact information and a solemn promise to visit her in her countryside home on the outskirts of Florence --- someday---, we have kept in contact every so often to exchange life tales. 

Recently, Patti lost her mother.  The natural order of things suggests that it is reasonable that all of us will be orphaned at some point in our lives.  However, knowing that in advance does not preclude you or in any way soften the blow of experiencing the stinging loss once it arrives at your doorstep.

Our email exchange this week had Patti reminiscing about the loving legacy her mother left.  She asked that I share a story about my mom.  What I wrote to her really was not as much of a story as it was a short testament to my mother’s continued legacy… how it inspires me to be more purposeful in my everyday interactions with others, show more grace and acceptance of others then I could ever ask for or expect in return.

It is good to remember that at this moment, today, we are all writing our own stories, crafting our own legacy.   What will mine be?  What will yours be?

Even still, I have people who knew my mother (some in a very superficial capacity) seek me out to relate stories of something she said or wrote to them during their darkest moments that had a profound impact on their life. She had this intangible quality that attracted others to her.  By the droves.

Her influence was not a result of knowing all the right words to say, or having some overly empathetic aura.  I think her secret (as far I can put into words; it is mostly intangible) was that people knew that she accepted them wholly and completely as they were.  It was immediate and without reservation.  Thinking back, I know that part of her was crafted both by nature as she was always a compassionate and caring person.  Yet, I know that part of her was also crafted, more painfully, by nurture. 

I think my mom struggled with feelings of inferiority and unworthiness.  This may have been spurred on by her lack of desire (and she would have said lack of aptitude) to excel in school.  She had "only" dreamed of being a mother.  People in her life further solidified these and other negative core beliefs, mostly unintentionally.

Mom knew what it was to look to others for approval and come up empty handed. That led her to turn one of her perceived frailties into a great strength.  What was withheld from her she so freely gave away. Unconditional acceptance. 

No matter who we are, where we came from, or where we think we're going, once we inquire of the world (and we all do... it's not really a question of "if")  "Am I enough?  Am I lovable?" we’re already defeated as we have left our most vulnerable of questions open for debate.  

How rare and lovely are those who, by their very presence, convince us of our own worthiness before we can even open our mouths to persuade them of it.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

But Baby It's Cold Outside...

Hello there, Friends.  Glad you're checking to see if I'm still e-alive.  To make up for this gross lapse in communication, below are some pictures from last weekends snow storm on the farm.  It was a storm that even a Yankee could be proud of. 

By the way, the title of this blog is of course from the classic Christmas jingle, "Baby it's Cold Outside".  Have you ever listened to the lyrics to this song and thought, "Wow. Creepy."?  Let me set the stage.  Imagine you're at some dudes house for dinner. You laughed together, you ate roasted lamb, you had an all around pleasant time but it's time to go.  He has a snaggle tooth.

You reach for your coat and say,

"I really can't stay
He responds:  (but baby it's cold outside)

I've got to go away
(but baby it's cold outside)

This evening has been
(been hoping that you'd drop in)

So very nice
(i'll hold your hands, they're just like ice)  (An unwanted advance at this point)

My mother will start worry
(beautiful whats your hurry)

My father will be pacing the floor
(listen to the fireplace roar)

So really i'd better scurry
(beautiful please don't hurry)

but maybe just a half a drink more (bad choice, bad, bad, bad choice)
(put some records on while i pour)

the neighbors might faint
(baby it's bad out there)

say what's in this drink  (lady, two words: Date. Rape)
(no cabs to be had out there) (my trunk is available for transport however...)

i wish i knew how
(your eyes are like starlight now)

to break this spell
(i'll take your hat, your hair looks swell)

i ought to say "no, no, no sir" (now you're getting the picture, sister...)
(mind if i move in closer) (he's not getting the picture... knee him)

at least i'm gonna say that i tried (say what?)
(what's the sense in hurtin' my pride) (hurt more than his pride...)

i simply must go
(but baby it's cold outside)

so nice and warm
(look out the window at that storm)

my sister will be suspicious
(gosh your lips look delicious) (Oh, dear)

my brother will be there at the door
(waves upon the tropical shore) (Think Natalie Holloway)

i've gotta get home
(but baby you'd freeze out there)

say lend me a coat
(it's up to your knees out there)

you've really been grand
(i thrill when you touch my hand) (Again, unwanted contact.  However, the drink has kicked in by now. What snaggle tooth?)

but don't you see?
(how can you do this thing to me?) (The Guilt Trip.  Women fall prey to it all the time.)

there's bound to be talk tomorrow
(think of my lifelong sorrow) (See Guilt Trip)

at least there will be plenty implied
(if you got pneumonia and died) (His cover-up)

Sorry to ruin this Christmas classic. These are just the thoughts that run through my head.

Merry Snow Day!