Friday, July 31, 2009

Lakeside, Ohio

Believe it or not, the merchants of the small town of Lakeside, Ohio trust their customers to pay for merchandise on their honor. Some shops who exhibit their items for sale in front of their shop leave their wares out overnight with a slot in the store door for customers to pay for the items they purchased during the night. Another candy store has a jar with change so customers pay for their candy and make honest change. Bikes are not locked and neither are the homes. Everybody trusts everbody. It's amazing that there is such a town in this day and age.

Boy Am I!

For longer than I care to admit, each Friday someone with whom I work asks me, "Are you ready for the weekend?"
My characteristic response has been to stare at the earnest colleague and reply, "I don't understand your question. My weekend requires no preparation." Well, maybe not those exact words but certainly words along those lines because I really have not understood the question. That is, I have not understood it until today. Now I have greater insight..
Not wanting to endure one more Friday of trying to figure out that completely confounding question, I asked someone with obviously far more social sense than I possess.
While her answer wasn't exactly, "You are an idiot." she would have been entitled to express that sentiment. She didn't though.
She explained that the question is generally rhetorical. The person asking it may actually be saying something like, "Wow! This week is over!."
Apparently many people who work a Monday through Friday week look forward to the week's end. To me, looking forward to the end of any day, week, month, or year seems like a lack of focus on the present and its possibilities.
Nevertheless, I can't wait to be asked the inevitable Friday question so I can respond, as instructed, "Boy Am I!"

Thursday, July 30, 2009

"The Bone Garden"

Tess Gerritsen, author of The Bone Garden, is a physician who stopped practicing medicine to write mysteries and raise her children.
It's been fun to watch her grow as a writer.
I just finished reading The Bone Garden and, aside from feeling really irritated about way too many dangling things such as, "Here is where it's at," I really enjoyed the book. I couldn't, in fact, willingly put it down.
Not only is it a good mystery, it's a fascinating glimpse into Boston medical schools of the early nineteenth century. The author goes back and forth between the present day and 1830 Boston to weave a story which ultimately has a few holes in the quilt. However, for a good read, a great distraction, and a wonderful first meeting with Oliver Wendell Holmes, a doctor and father of THE Oliver Wendell Holmes, The Bone Garden is wonderful.
By the way, Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes made a stunning contribution to American medicine. He dared to suggest that doctors wash their hands between surgeries.


There should have been a fourth person invited to Obama's "beerfest". Isn't the reason for the "fest" to right the wrong? What about the woman who was wrongly accused of being racist? Doesn't she deserve an invite or is the invitation reserved only to the most threatening? She should fill a seat at the "party table" to right the wrong done to her. I believe in equality for all and this incidence is no exception.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Family Hunter, part II

Perhaps he read my previous post and was insulted by my lighthearted deprecation of his hunting skills. Perhaps he realized that we are presently a one-income household, and felt he needed to do his part to put food on the table. In any case, the Family Dog killed a rabbit yesterday. I was right there, on the other end of his leash, when he darted into the bushes and came out with a little bunny between his jaws. I wrestled him to the ground trying to free it but it was too late; the poor thing was already dead. The Family Dog was puzzled. Why was I trying to get it out of his mouth? This rabbit was his; if I wanted one, I could get my own. And why was I so horrified, instead of being proud of him?

It isn't his fault; he's a big powerful dog and a natural predator. The rabbit was his natural prey. Not to denigrate his accomplishment, the rabbits on this particular hillside seem more dimwitted than most, often standing in full sight contemplating the universe, unaware that any creature might wish anything other than good will to bunnies. It's just that, at seven o'clock in the morning, I don't care to be witness to the food chain in quite such a lurid fashion. Nature isn't always pretty.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Meanwhile Back On The Trail

I go back to the Grand Canyon mules and their blinders.
Not long ago I spoke to a woman who for years expected people to mistreat her. She didn't want to be mistreated. Nevertheless, because of mistreatment early in her life, that's what she expected. Throughout the years, she developed a logical defense. She mistreated people first thus robbing them of the chance to be cruel or rude to her. She even began delighting in her cruelty. Without realizing it, she looked for cruelty in every person she met. She wore blinders that effectively blocked her vision to kindness or even to indifference.
Eventually she may consider looking for other characteristics in the people she meets.
While she may never stop wearing blinders, she may at least shift her narrow focus to a different trail and following it she may find that people are capable of surprising and positive behaviors.
We find that for which we seek.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I Like The Challenge!

Yeah! There is alot to be said for sitting quietly! 'Amazing what you can discover in yourself. I recently read Bess Streeter Aldrich's *A Lantern In Her Hnad* and was reminded that there was a time and place when most of what one did was to survive. And that could be fun. My Grandmother who was born in 1904 used to tell me of what a treat it was to go to the chicken pen with her grandmother to feed the chickens. People used to make music and quilts together and tell eachother stories. Plenty of things can be "entertaining" without being mere entertainment....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Emotional Blinders

People pay good money to ride a mule to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Okay. I can live with that. The safety record is pretty good primarily because the mules are sure footed and most of them wear blinders to limit vision to the trail ahead. I mean, think about it. Do you really want to ride a mule constantly distracted by the Grand Canyon landscape? I'm thinking you don't because the mule would surely and quickly fall off the trail.
Blinders, then, can keep us safe.
There is, though, a time to put them on and a time to take them off.
Of course the blinders to which I refer and the blinders we fasten to our own selves -- the emotional blinders with which we see or experience only a small part of our emotional landscape. And here's the kicker, to keep the mule analogy going. We choose when to wear our emotional blinders and we choose which emotion path on which to focus. We can choose anger or we can choose acceptance. We can choose contentment or we can choose distress. We maintain our own emotional trails.
The trouble with blinders is that while limited focus may sometimes keep us safe, we never see the entire, amazing emotional landscape of life.
Once at the top or the bottom of those narrow Grand Canyon trails, the mules have no need for their blinders. They're safe.
You will be, too.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Go Ahead. Take Her Challenge.

Take my Challenge

There is nothing to do. I’ll turn on the television. The cable is out so I think I’ll listen to my ipod. My ipod isn’t working, I’ll play around on the Internet. The Internets connection is messed up, I’ll read a book. And so on, and so on. We have so much stimulation all the time. Why do we need to be entertained constantly? Why can’t we just sit still and be quiet? I challenge you to take time today to just sit without stimulation for five minutes. Without tending to that itch on you knee, or scanning the room for something to look at. Sit in a comfortable spot. Your favorite reading chair, the bed, or the floor. It doesn’t matter. Just try to quiet your mind and focus on being still. I think you’ll find it more challanging than a game of rock band.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Sorry Bunny, My Mistake

Yesterday my mother would have been ninety-one years old and she died thirty-one years ago. Sorry about that. I make this correction because accuracy counts and also because my mother was proud of her years and of the white in her hair. She said she had earned both.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Bunny

Had she not died thirty years ago, my mother on this day would celebrate her birthday and doubtless blow out all ninety candles on her cake. The youngest of seven children, her father called her 'Bunny' for reasons never made quite clear even to her. For years I thought she had no other name. She grew up during the Great Depression and knew how to make something wonderful to eat out of not much to begin with. She married a cowboy and together they rode the open range of the still young state of Arizona. She could cook entire meals on a campfire including the biscuits and the cake for dessert. She thought city lights at night were miracles of technology and often remarked that there 'must be a million of them'. An acquaintance once described her as the most gentle person she had ever met. She lived to hold each of her three grandchildren and even if she had lived to be a thousand she would never have held them enough.
She was my friend.
She was my mother.
I miss her.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Favorite Place in the World

Today I visited my favorite place in the world, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. No matter what time of year it is, there is something beautiful to look at. The roses were overblown from heat and my favorites, the lilacs and cherry blossoms, have been gone for months but the water lilies were at their very best, and the sheer amount of greenery brought joy to my heart. Being in the garden is like entering a different world. It sits in the middle of a relatively grimy part of Brooklyn, but you forget that as soon as you walk through its gates. New Yorkers who habitually shout, shove and hustle can be seen murmuring and strolling instead. Everybody needs a little corner of beauty in their lives. Welcome to mine.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Thanks, Frank!

Frances "Frank" McCort, on July 19, died.
His first novel, Angela's Ashes for which he received a Pulitzer Prize, was published when he was sixty-six years old.
I refuse to become discouraged.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breathe Easy

Or, if you prefer, breathe easily because it was a mellow day here in La La Land. This morning, in the hub of the city, in downtown LLL, a fire broke out and a building burned. Smoke filled the morning sky and commuters listening to airborne traffic reports rolled down their windows to fill their lungs with smoke. First responders rushed to the scene and then, I can only imagine, chilled. The hustle and bustle or whatever it is of early morning downtown slowed considerably. People smiled at nothing in particular.
All good things do eventually end. Eventually fire fighters had to put out the fire. Eventually.
Nothing was left of the building that had such a short time earlier housed medical marijuana offices and, of course, the supplies used by said offices.
Had the currently considered tax on the sale of medical marijuana already been in place, what a sad loss of possible revenue for the state this little fire would have been. As it is, though, this morning was just a little calmer than most hot Monday mornings.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I'm With Jane

“What dreadful hot weather we have! It keeps me in a continual state of inelegance.”

Jane Austen

Friday, July 17, 2009

Happiness Can Be A State Of Time

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo says happiness and success are rooted in a trait most of us disregard: the way we orient toward the past, present and future. He suggests we calibrate our outlook on time as a first step to improving our lives.

Thanks to for this and many other videos used by witsendmagazine.

"And that's the way it is"

"And that's the way it is" are words spoken by Walter Cronkite at the end of his journalistic news programs. He joined television in its infancy in 1950. Walter knew 12 presidents and was presented a Public Service Award by President Carter. He reported on events such as the death of Martin Luther King, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Lunar Landing... to name a few. He was one of the most trusted men in America and a great humanitarian. Walter Cronkite passed on today, July 17, 2009, leaving a huge audience to grieve his loss not to mention his family and his wife of 65 years. He was 92.

So long to an icon of a man. He will sorely be missed by all.

"And that's the way it is."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Just Don't Inhale

I know this is true because I heard it on the all news radio station this evening while driving home from work. In yet another eleventh hour attempt to generate revenue, the State of California is considering taxing the sale of medical marijuana. Estimates place the dollars from this unusual tax at around five million a year. Just a drop in the bottomless bucket of state debt but, of course, every little drop counts.
There is a logical next step to this proposed tax on prescription weed. Make the whole plant legal and tax each and every sale. Obviously legalizing marijuana and taxing those sales would doubtless not only balance the budget but within a very short time put the state in financial black.
But perhaps I move too fast. Even without legalizing the whole plant, I think placing a tax on the sale of medical marijuana is a great idea. Not only will those taxes add up to millions, think of the economic boost for other areas. The sale of chocolate chip cookies and Snickers candy bars will sky rocket. Life being incredibly logical, dentists and weight loss enterprises will subsequently rake in the profits. While the number of citations for speeding may dwindle considerably, those issued to drivers sitting at intersections completely transfixed by the lights changing from red to green to yellow and back to red will more than compensate for the speeding ticket revenue loss.
I commend the political leaders of this state for their creative approach to solving this current financial political stalemate.
Yo -- Keep truckin' on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Eras End

The word 'era' is defined as #1 -- (a) a fixed point in time from which a series of years is reckoned (b) a memorable or important date or event ; especially : one that begins a new period in the history of a person or thing. #2 -- a system of chronological notation computed from a given date as basis. #3 -- (a) a period identified by some prominent figure or characteristic feature era of the horse and buggy (b) a stage in development (as of a person or thing) (c) a large division of geologic time usually shorter than an eon era.

Regardless of the precise definition, eras end.

So it is with Virgil's Hardware Home & Garden store. After a century of private, family ownership, the off beat little we have just about anything you could want and a lot of what you don't want store was sold to something called Do It Center and its parent company, Neiman Reed Lumber Company out of Chatsworth.

Virgil's is no Lowes. It's not OSH nor is it Home Depot. Virgil's is quirky in the extreme. Shelves are stocked in an order surely inspired by the chaos theory. Mail boxes are stacked next to flash lights. That makes a certain amount of sense. Coming home after dark, I suppose you might wish you had picked up that flash light when you bought the new mail box. Sponge Bob Square Pants humidifiers can be found near the Weber grills. Tupperware containers stacked precariously invite shoppers to look beyond their clutter to the hand drills. And of course, there's always the eggs. Only at Virgil's can you buy a crescent wrench and a dozen cage free eggs.

Virgil's reminds me of a store owned by the brothers Ray and Glenn Hoagland. Ray had never left the little Arizona town of his birth nor had he even ventured past the bend in the road. My mother once asked the price of an item. Ray's answer was, "It probably costs too much and you don't need it anyway."

Ray took care of his customers. So did the folks at Virgil's.

Eras end. Eras begin.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tips For Surviving Jury Duty

Okay. I admit it. I don't like receiving my summons to jury duty. At this point in the game, though, I get it. I don't have a choice. None whatsoever. Since I can't always count on having friends at my side while I do my civic duty, I have learned to take care of myself during the process.
Planning for jury duty is a little like preparing for a long airplane flight. The seats will be uncomfortable, the recirculated air will become stale, the hours will seem long, and eventually the restrooms will get pretty funky. Knowing all of this actually helps me prepare.
Once I know my reporting date, I carefully select a book to take along. I begin looking forward to reading it. I don't ever take a hard back book. They weigh too much and I want to keep the load light. I bring along several light and healthy snacks and a bottle of water. I bring layers of clothing because temperature control seems beyond the ability of our entire judicial system. The most important thing I bring along is positive energy. The energy in a room full of unhappy people who don't want to be there can be pretty depleting. It takes a lot of calm to counteract that negativity.
Finally, once I'm headed to the court, I simply let go of wanting to be elsewhere. I board the plane, listen to the safety instructions, and really, truly let it be. Just as long flights end, jury duty plays itself out. I'm not in charge of either journey. Besides, you never know who you'll meet along the way. Sometimes you meet friends and sometimes you make friends.
Drink lots of water. Read a good book. Eat a few Red Vines. Spend the per diem pay foolishly.
The events of our lives don't matter nearly as much as the meanings we give them.

Monday, July 13, 2009

News From The Balcony

Just a reminder that the soil doesn't have to be very deep nor does the garden have to be very large for the plants to thrive.

Gardeners garden.

Today Freedom Trumped Friendship

There I was Thursday morning sitting in the huge waiting to be called onto a panel jury room. I sat in a room full of strangers none of whom wanted to be in that room. The energy there was not positive. Each of us had already been reduced to a four digit number. The weight of alienation rested heavy on my heart. Life bustled by on the streets below and I was not -- could not be -- part of it. Longing desperately to once again hear my name, I doubted my hearing when I actually did. Beyond belief, the smiling face of a friend subjected to the same fate filled my vision. When he sat down beside me, jury duty suddenly seemed far less onerous. Within minutes another friend joined us and like the tres amigos we spent the morning and the early afternoon sharing jokes. My first arrived friend and I were called into the same jury pool. We lost track of friend number three. For three days friend number one and I guarded brief cases for each other, held doors open, kept track of each other on crowded stair wells, shared stories, and lifted frequently sagging spirits. I was in the jury box. He sat waiting in the court room to take the place of thanked and excused candidates for the jury. The days numbed on until, beyond belief, my juror number was called and I was thanked and excused. Using all of my inner resources, I did not tap dance on my way out of the court room. I looked at my friend just long enough to mouth a 'bye' and left the court room. I didn't look back. I was free. He remained a slave to civic duty. I'm hoping he would not have looked back had our places and fortunes been reversed. Knowing him, however, he probably would have at least stopped in the doorway to give an encouraging smile. He's that kind of guy. And because he's that kind of a guy, I'm thinking that he will understand completely why I didn't.
Free at last. Thank God I'm free at last.

Friday, July 10, 2009

His Name Is Billy

And I was thinking about him today. Billy is my age. We grew up in the same little Arizona town. Had Billy attended school, we would have shared teachers and classrooms and maybe even a smile or two. However, we never attended even one class in the little town's only school, not even first grade. When he was four years old, Billy walked in back of a horse. Startled, the horse kicked out blindly just in case whatever was behind him meant harm. Billy meant no harm. The horse didn't know that and doubtless meant no harm, either, when it kicked Billy in the head. Throughout all of the years since that accident, Billy has remained a four-year-old in a body that has grown from a toddler to a teenager to an adult and now to middle aged man.
I never met Billy. Once I saw him sitting in the passenger seat of the car owned by his parents. Either his father or his mother had run into the store and left Billy alone in the car. My mother and I walked by and when we were far enough away to not be heard, my mother whispered to me, "That's Billy."
Even without her explanation, I probably would have known that the dreamy faced, smiling young man was Billy. He looked strangely and hauntingly peaceful.
In that small town, Billy helped my parents teach me a powerful lesson. Heads are fragile. I have never, since at least the age of four, even considered walking in back of a horse. While that lesson may be of little use at the moment, it probably saved my life several times over on the cattle ranch of my youth. And who knows. The memory of my mother's whispered, "That's Billy," may sometime in the future keep me from becoming my own worst enemy.
Earlier this evening I listened to a recording of beautiful, classical guitar. As I listened, I thought of Billy for the first time in decades and wondered what he enjoyed.
Heads are fragile and life is precious.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Big Business

Being unemployed is exhausting. This morning, I saw the Other Family Human off to jury duty, took out the trash, fed the Family Cats, took the Family Dog to a grooming appointment ('spa day', he calls it), bought some groceries and went to the DMV, all by 9:30 a.m. By that time, I needed a break, so I took myself over to Big Jim's for a donut and coffee. Both in New York and in California, I have seen the results of the recession in all too many shuttered stores and For Rent signs, going out of business sales, one inventive, "hoping to stay in business" sale and salespeople standing out on the sidewalk waiting for customers. The counter people at Big Jim's have no time for that. For the twenty minutes that I sat there, the flow of customers never stopped. Coffee and a sugar twist. Coffee and a vanilla cruller. Two large coffees and a box of assorted donuts. A container of milk and a Boston cream. It was heartening. It's nice to know that someone is doing well. Maybe we all need a little comfort food that doesn't cost too much.

Pet Airways

Where else can pet parents drop off their 4 legged pets at a safe and comfortable airline to meet them at their destination? Pet Airways of course where animal behavior is mandatory. This is a pet venture only for dogs and cats now but soon to be offered to birds. Each flight has 30-50 private cages available at a starting cost of $150 each depending upon the size of the pet. Organic meals are served onboard by a trained attendant. This pet friendly airline is offered now in five U.S. cities and is already booked two months in your tickets now if you plan to travel two months from now.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Come Back Tour Comes Home

Nothing, it seems, could have energized Michael Jackson's career more than his death. The potential for revenue and record sales and mass hysteria and unbelievable popularity created by the fifty concert thing pales to what has been accomplished by this city consuming traffic stopping madness which will reach its zenith tomorrow morning at ten here in La La Land. Here in LLL streets will close and hearts will stop when the doors to the Staples Center open. Free tickets are advertised on ebay for twenty thousand dollars.
Surely no one -- not even the King of Pop himself -- would want to be remembered for funeral ticket scalping and custody battles and who, by the way, has recently asked how his children are doing. Their father is dead. Surely that simple fact is worth at least a few solemn pages somewhere.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Manny's Back, Sort Of

On Friday evening, amid much fanfare, Manny Ramirez ended his 50 game suspension by returning to the Dodgers as they began a three game stand against the Padres in San Diego. Judging from the amount of Dodger gear worn in the stands, either quite a number of people drove the two-plus hours from L.A. to watch him, or else the Padres have no fans at all. The game was a sell-out. Manny walked once and made a good baserunning play. In Saturday's game, he hit an early home run. In both of those games he was taken out in the sixth inning. Today, he was not in the line-up at all. I guess they don't want to wear him out.

When Manny doesn't play, the left fielder for the Dodgers is Juan Pierre. You can tell that Pierre has never used steroids, because if he did, he would have more muscle to show for it. He's a skinny guy whose cap is too big for him, and when he puts on a batting helmet, he looks like he should be playing in Little League. He is a consistent hitter and a terrific baserunner. Late in Friday's game, he prevented an Adrian Gonzalez hit by making a catch at the wall that Manny would only have reached in his dreams. I was sad when I thought that Pierre's time in left field was at an end. Maybe Joe Torre agrees with me and Manny will have to earn his way back to a starting role.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Friendly Service?

I have a real gripe!

For years, I've taken my car to a local gas station for gas and sometimes for a mechanical fix. The cashier was always busy but usually had a couple of minutes for friendly chatter. Likewise, with the mechanic. Several months ago, the cashier informed me the owner told her there was to be no chatter - strictly business. Shortly after that, the mechanic quit.

Today, I was at my local pharmacy and the usual person located my prescriptions and told me the owner advised her that all talk was to be of a business nature. In the past, I would converse with her for just a very few friendly minutes.

What's happening to our society? Is it some discipline enveloping American enterprise? Are we too busy to be courteous and friendly or have we become an uncaring society?

The New National Anthem?

When did "God Bless America" become our new national anthem?

I was at the ball park yesterday and at the beginning of the seventh inning stretch, we were asked to rise for the singing of "God Bless America". Unbidden, men removed their hats and a majority of people placed their hands over their hearts.

"God Bless America" was written by Irving Berlin in 1918. He was serving in the U.S. Army during World War I at Camp Upton in Yaphank, New York. He wrote a revue to be performed in the camp called, "Yip Yip Yaphank", and "God Bless America" was to be the finale. The stories vary here. Some sources say that the camp authorities rejected it as too jingoistic, and others say that Berlin felt that its solemn tone conflicted with the comic spirit of the rest of the show. In any case, it was put away for twenty years.

On the eve of World War II, asked to write a patriotic song for Kate Smith, Berlin pulled out the song and rewrote some of the words. It was first performed on Smith's national radio show on Armistice Day, November 11, 1938. It was an immediate sensation. For a time, Smith held the exclusive rights to perform the song, and even after that option ended, her name and "God Bless America" were inextricably linked. The song received new life after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and was memorably recorded by singer Celine Dion. It has been less memorably rendered by many, many others.

Okay, I admit that "God Bless America" is a great song. It was almost named the national anthem before Kate Smith addressed Congress and begged them not to get rid of "The Star-Spangled Banner", which was written during a battle in the war of 1812. Of course, Kate Smith is one of the twelve people since 1812 who could actually sing "The Star-Spangled Banner". Her rendition of our real national anthem is the B side of her single of "God Bless America".

But why are people rising and removing their headgear and putting their hands over their hearts? First of all, a person is only supposed to place their hand on their heart to pledge allegiance, not to sing the national anthem, or any other song. Anyone at school assembly at P.S 156, Queens, New York who didn't know that would have been laughed out of the auditorium. Secondly, almost doesn't count (I learned that at P.S. 156 too). We can only have one national anthem, and "God Bless America" isn't it, and shouldn't receive the respect that is due only to "The Star-Spangled Banner".

On the eve of this Independence Day weekend, I have a number of other gripes about patriotic decorum. I could go on for quite a while about the mistakes people make in displaying the American flag. I suggest that we have a national school assembly to refresh our memories for the right way to perform these patriotic acts. Attendance will be mandatory, but middie blouses and pleated navy skirts are optional.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Family Hunter

The Family Dog is a mixed breed, mostly consisting of Labrador Retriever and Rhodesian Ridgeback. The Labrador Retriever was bred to swim into the ocean and haul in the fishing nets. The Rhodesian Ridgeback is an African hunting dog used to bring down lions. No wonder the poor fellow is confused. He loves to hunt but is hopelessly bad at it.

When we lived in New Jersey, our community was filled with squirrels. The Family Dog's approach was to leap in their direction, barking loudly, giving them ample opportunity to scurry across the street or up a tree. He did once flush out a dead one for a second, before I had the chance to pull him away.

Back in California, he has found a wealth of prey. There are squirrels here too as well as rabbits and the occasional roadrunner. But he likes hunting lizards best of all. They are even faster than squirrels, and he has no chance of catching one, but that doesn't stop him. He is regularly covered with leaves from diving into bushes and attempting to score a lizard. I am heartened by his can-do attitude. How many of us can fail time after time and approach each new opportunity with a whole heart and utter confidence?