Thursday, March 29, 2018

Day 14/15 - Opps, Habits Are Fragile Things

At least I woke up in the middle of the night realizing I hadn't written anything yesterday.  But at least I realized it.  Instead of 30 days I will make it 31 before declaring that writing something everyday is now a habit.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Day 13- Spring Peeks Through The Snow

It's still cold and not all of the snow has melted and we might have more but Spring is pushing its way into our lives.
This appears to be crocus plants or maybe they are daffodils.
Whatever they are, they are determined to push through.
Perhaps that's the lesson for us all.
If we are determined enough we might just push through all that is slowing us down.
That's my take away from this.
Keep pushing through.
And don't forget that you are doing your best.  Just like the crocus or the daffodil.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Day 12-What If The Earth Really Is Flat?

Mike Hughes believes the world is flat and he wants to prove that he's right.  So he built himself a rocket.  Mike is 61 years old and earns his living driving a limousine. Last Saturday afternoon old Mike climbed into his rocket and blasted about 1,875 feet above the Mojave Desert in California.  He had painted on the side of his rocket the words "Flat Earth".  Traveling at about 350 miles an hour, the rocket got as high as it could go and then Hughes activated first one parachute and then the second just before he hit the ground almost exactly where he had blasted off moments before.  He shot straight up and then came back almost straight down.  His most notable comment as his gurney was lifted into the waiting ambulance was, "I'm gonna feel this tomorrow."  Hughes didn't prove that the world is flat.  He did prove something else, though.  He proved that there is absolutely no limit to our insatiable quest for adventure.  Keep reaching for the heavens, Mr. Hughes.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Day 11 - We Gave The World To Them

Having failed so often and so completely at trying to save the world, the kids took it from us.  And well they should have.  The grew up feel frightened and school and we did nothing.  Okay.  I get it that neither you nor I alone can enact legislation to make the world safer but it is our generation in Washington.  I am horrified by the corruption coming to the surface.  Doubtless it has always been there but events and circumstances have exposed it.  Having said that, I believe, truly believe, that the times they are a changing.  Sometime big is about to happen.  Something big happened yesterday and I believe bigger and better things are about to burst upon us.  We should all fasten our seat belts.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Day 10-Spending Time With Brilliance

I just spent the afternoon studying with Susannah Heschel.  Dr. Heschel is the Chair of the Judaic Studies Department at Dartmouth College.  She is brilliant.  She is also the daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel.  Of course I wasn't studying alone with Dr. Heschel.  I attended the event at the Monmouth Reform Temple which has its own brilliance in that it is the home congregation of the first woman to be ordained a rabbi in this country.  Rabbi Sally Priesand is now the Rabbi Emerita of that congregation.  She also spent the day studying with Dr. Heschel.  History met history today and I got to be a witness.  Inspiration is a gift.  That was the gift of this afternoon.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Day 9 - Come To Find Out It Was The Storm We Expected

We awakened Thursday morning to at least a foot of snow.  All Wednesday night the snow fell.  We lost several big tree branches from the weight of the snow and briefly during the night we lost electricity. I sat in the living room drinking my coffee and gazing out at what truly had become a winter wonderland.  There is nothing as quiet as a lot of snow on the ground.  Our driveway was impassable and our street wasn't much better though later that morning the snow plows did clear the street.  In the early afternoon our snow removable crew arrived and cleared our driveway.  There is something magical about deep snow as long, of course, as you are inside a warm house looking outside at the beauty.  Already the snow is melting.  This may be it for winter.  It's always a comfort, though, to see the snow plows out.  When I lived in Southern California during brush fire season it was also a comfort seeing firetrucks headed toward the blaze.  Those plows and trucks remind us that help might very well be on the way.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Day 8 - He Died Too Young

On this day 48 years ago my father, Ira Franklin Walker, died.  He was 58 years old.  He was a cowboy.  That's how he spent his life and I'm pretty sure he loved being a cowboy.  He knew how to read the seasons and he knew how to repair saddle horns using two needles and he knew how to cure a variety of livestock maladies.  He was also an early health food devotee.  He loved trying out new healthy potions.  For quite sometime my brother and I were each given a tablespoon of black strap molasses every evening.  Daddy moved from molasses to glasses of vinegar and honey which just wasn't quite as much fun as the molasses but which Tom and I nevertheless endured with good spirits.  Cod liver oil was such a hit that our mother had to hide it from us.  Plain yogurt also frequented the dinner table.  How a man with barely a third grade education became so interested in this type of culinary exploration was beyond me.  I think he was just interested in everything.  Often he sat with me while I did my geometry homework and asked me to explain the assignment.  That my brother and I would go to college was never even discussed.  It was a given.  During my childhood we never lived in a town.  Our electricity when we had it was provided by a series of generators.  We often had to haul water not only for ourselves but more importantly for our cattle.  My father was one of the most honest people I have ever known.  He tipped his hat to women and taught me to treat all people regardless of their station in life with the utmost respect.  He also played the harmonica.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Day 7 - It's Not Quite The Storm We Expected

It is, nevertheless, a storm.  It's been snowing on and off all day and now as darkness begins to descend the snow is falling with greater intensity.  It's all good.  I try to walk at least a mile every day.  Yesterday when I walked I was stunned by the cold.  Today I delighted in the sleet hitting my face.  I wore my hat with my coat's hood pulled up over it.  I covered my mouth with my scarf and zipped up my coat.  My glasses fogged over so I had to lower them to see and I was mesmerized by the ice forming on my scarf.  These are the seasons of my life and I cherish them all.  We are supposed to get about a foot of snow tonight.  We'll see.  Maybe we will and maybe we won't.  It really doesn't matter to me.  I work from home and the traffic is rarely heavy as I walk to my second floor office.  At my desk I will spend a few moments looking out the window at our ancient locust tree and our grove of sassafras trees and winter's last snow still clinging to the ground.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Day 6-And The Snow Is Back

Indications are that the predicted big snow storm is happening.  So much for my good bye to winter.  Winter is giving me one more chance to enjoy the cold and the snow.  And I'm loving it.  Years ago I discovered that saying goodbye is often a pointless endeavor.  Someone I cared about was moving from the area.  I was devastated.  I felt I couldn't go on after I said my final farewell.  And then the friend called asking me to bring some forgotten possession to the airport.  So I did and when I left the friend I barely bothered to say goodbye because I'd already run the gamut of the farewell emotions.  Goodbye can be a really hard thing to do but once I realized that all relationships end in separation the goodbyes became a bit easier.  Joan Baez is in the middle of her fare well tours.  She says she's hanging up her concert tour days.  She's seventy seven years old so I guess I can't fault her the decision.  Her voice is lower and she says it takes too much energy to be able to sing at all.  So she's touring the world saying goodbye.  I was able to get tickets to her New York City goodbye.  I set up an alert to let me know when the tickets went on sale and then I bought them.  I never ended the alert so now I know when all of her goodbye tickets go on sale.  She has booked goodbye concerts through the year 2019.  I guess even legends have a tough time with goodbye.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Day 5-The Snow Is Beginning To Melt

During winter East Coast streets get narrower and parking spaces fewer.  No, I'm not talking about global shrinking.  It's just that plowed snow has to go someplace.  Parking lots still have small mountains of snow in many places and streets are still just a little hard to navigate because of the snow plowed to the sides of the roads.  The days, though, are getting a little warmer and soon the snow will melt.  This despite the fact that forecasts indicate we are due for one more storm which may or may not happen.  I feel a sadness with each change of season.  I will miss the snow and then I'll miss the hot, muggy days of summer and then I'll miss fall and its vibrant colors and then the snow will come again and I'll miss that when it's gone.  Seasons mark time's passage and remind me that I have more seasons behind me than ahead of me.  Having spent decades living in a season less place, I believe it is crucial to mark time's passage.  Without that marking we begin to believe we really are immortal.  Of course, we aren't but we like at times to pretend.  Seasons take away that pretense and remind us that our days are, indeed, limited.  If I really get it that my seasons are finite perhaps I will reclaim kindness and compassion and, yes, empathy.  The season for that reclamation is now.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Day 4 - I love libraries

I'm a sucker for them.  I seek them out.  Libraries calm me and inspire me and strengthen me.  One of my most pleasant surprises when we moved here four years ago was the amazing New Jersey Public Library system.  Don't get me wrong.  I loved California's libraries but they just weren't open all that often.  The New Jersey libraries are generally open seven days a week and they are always busy.  Apparently I'm not the only person here loving libraries. Don't tell anyone but I have three cards to three different libraries and I use them all.  The only drawback is that all these libraries and of course the multiple books I simply must check out keep me from reading my own books from my own library.  At least there's no competition for the books in my library.  There is also no due date by which I must return them to myself.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Day 3-They deserved a parade.

His name is Carl.  Her name is Ruth.  They are neighbors.  I met them in the Spring of 2014 a few months after we moved here and after they returned from wintering in Florida.  They are an interesting couple who married late in life after their first spouses died.  Each is well read and happy to share opinions based on their readings.  And their combined ages come close to two hundred years.  On warm days they sat in their open garage to visit and observe.  I often stopped by and always enjoyed the time I spent with them.  The winter trips to Florida ended shortly after the first ambulance came for Carl.  He came home and the garage visits resumed.  Not too long ago I realized that I hadn't seen either of them for awhile.  Of course they wouldn't have been sitting in their open garage.  It's been too cold for that.  But I hadn't seen any movement in or around their house either.  I have another neighbor who seems to know everything about everyone so I asked her about Carl and Ruth.  "Oh, they moved into assisted living," was the reply.  I felt stunned by this new information about people I never really knew well at all.  I wouldn't have expected any type of contact from them.  But they just seemed to have disappeared from a street on which they had lived for years.  I don't believe anyone should just disappear.  At the very least flyers might have been distributed saying something like, "We're off on another adventure."  A parade with a drum major and trumpets might have escorted them down the street they knew so well and maybe even to their new home.  No one should just disappear without a trace.  Their home is dark now and perhaps in the near future new owners will claim the place as their own to do with it whatever they wish.  For now, though, the home of Carl and Ruth is dark and the garage door is closed.  They deserved a parade and so did we.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Day Two

So here I am wondering how to use the gift I was given.  My gift is the ability to put words on paper or on screen or wherever we put them these days - words that will move people and inspire people and give encourage them to actually think.  I've squandered that gift for far too long.  It's time to put it to use now.  The challenge is to figure out where and how.  I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Habits Are Hard To Make

But they are oh so easy to break.  Research indicates that a behavior must be repeated on a daily basis for at least one month before it becomes a habit.  So just a heads up here.  I'm going to write something in this blog every day for at least one month even if I have absolutely nothing on my mind about which to write.  I'm hoping to reclaim the habit of daily writing.  I've now warned you.