Thursday, June 30, 2011

Bees and Flowers

I was finally able to look critically at the images I took on our Charlottesville weekend and I found one that showed a bee departing a blossom. I spent a lot of time and took quite a few images to actually get this shot. I had fun and I learned that bees do not dawdle when they are preparing for lift off. It is a pretty sudden event.

I enjoyed the variety of blooms that day in the gardens, but watching the bees go about their business added an extra measure of interest to the activity.

I also experimented with depth of field and tried to isolate specific parts of what I saw on a soft background. I like the image here for the components.

It was a great weekend in retrospect and now that I am beginning to enjoy the images we took, I can remember it that much better.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Life in the Slow Lane

Sometimes, I wish I could find time to live life in the slow lane. I is a dream anyway.

Afternoon naps, getting out of bed in the morning after 8AM, and taking things at a slow rate rather than the "hair on fire" speed of my normal life.

I'm sure it is good that I have more things to do than time to do them, but on the other hand, I could use a timeout.

That is what vacations are for, right?

Reflection and course correction.

Maybe that is when people decide to retire. When the speed of life exceeds the threshold where we can reasonable expect to keep up with it.

I see two very distinct paths, one is for people who spend their waking day zooming from one thing to another and collapse at the end of the day exhausted and unfulfilled by the crush of the activity. The other path is taken by those who start with an empty calendar and fill in activities they enjoy to complete their day. They may hit the end of the day exhausted, too, but they feel fulfilled by the activities they completed.

So, I've been traveling the superhighway of life--the I-95, six lanes wide, full of traffic and limited by few off ramps.

I need to find the back road, where every turn presents opportunity for stopping and places to explore at a less than hectic pace.

Ideally, I could merge these two concepts into a long term approach where I hop on the superhighway for a bit, but then drive along the rolling byway for a time as well.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Freedom in Crisis

I don't want to be an alarmist--but I am concerned about our civil freedoms being squeezed more and more every day.

I read this somewhat frightening article about the TSA Now Storming Public Places 8,000 Times a Year.  I am concerned about the information presented in this article. The potential for abuse is astounding.

Here are the opening paragraphs from the article:

Americans must decide if, in the name of homeland security, they are willing to allow TSA operatives to storm public places in their communities with no warning, pat them down, and search their bags.  And they better decide quickly.

Bus travelers were shocked when jackbooted TSA officers in black SWAT-style uniforms descended unannounced upon the Tampa Greyhound bus station in April with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies and federal bureaucrats in tow.

And the article goes on--but I think what I extracted sets the stage for my concern--

Conducting these types of activities, not in response to any specific threat, borders upon unreasonable search and seizure--and a violation of our 4th Amendment rights.  Sorry--that is how I feel. 

The vision of black uniformed, jackbooted, military-style personnel swooping into a public place is an image that I compare with what I have read about WWII and Germany.  Are we really trying to control our "free" society?

Are we as free as we believe we are? Do you have your personal identification papers on you?

No--it is clear that we have ceded away many of our rights and there is a move afoot to further limit our rights.  Years ago, there would have been a huge public outcry if a small army of government agents descended upon a public place without suspicion of wrong doing.  Now, we barely bat an eye-lash and chalk it up to security.

A recent poll placed Maryland at the very bottom of personal freedoms in a ranking of the 50 states. New Hampshire (land of "Live Free or Die") ranked highest.

Where is the boundary line? The line between liberty and police state? Between reasonable and unreasonable search and seizure?

Between the Constitution and totalitarianism?

Coming soon to your home? The men in black? We've read the stories in the news already.

I bet I'm on TSA's list now.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Musings - June 27, 2011

1. The sun has been playing games with me lately. Every time I get into the pool ready to enjoy it's warmth, it goes behind the sun. when it get out, it returns and begins heating things up again.

2. The hydrangea that ate Elkridge lives in my garden. It is huge!

3. The vacation season really begins to ramp up this week. We are busy almost continuously through the end of July.

4. I heard that gas prices are supposed to drop 50 cents a gallon by summer's end due to release of oil from the strategic reserve.

5. I just noticed, as I was writing the previous item, that the symbol we used to use for "cents" is not on my iPad. I wonder where it went?

6. I read a scary article about the TSA the other day. I will blog about it this week.

7. I am continually amazed at how quickly weekends seem to slip away. At the beginning of the weekend on Friday evening there are so many plans and the days ahead are like an open book. But, by Sunday evening, sitting exhausted in a vegetative state in front of the TV watching a mindless movie, the weekend has passed and taken a far different direction than that envisioned on Friday evening. It is true that life is what happens while we are making plans.

8. And here we are on the week before a holiday weekend, waiting for the holiday and struggling to get through the week.

9. I hooked up the automatic sprinklers Saturday and it is kind of uncanny sitting here listening to the sound of running water surging through the pipes.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Orioles baseball in June

Friday night, Chris and I went to see the Orioles play the Cincinnati Reds at Camden Yards. It was rumored that the last time the O's and the Reds played in Baltimore was during the 1970 World Series. Baltimore won that World Series.

The evening was awesome temperature and humidity-wise. It was 88 degrees and 35 percent humidity to begin the game. The teams were ready to play baseball and it looked like the O's were going to have an easy time with the Reds, jumping out to a 4-0 lead. But nothing comes easy these days and the score became tied in the 6th inning at 4-4 and remained that way until the 12th inning when in addition to the planned fireworks after the game, Derrek Lee hit a walkoff home run leading off the bottom of the inning.

The fireworks were great too and over 45,000 Orioles faithful witnessed a rare extra-inning win.

The evening was complete with fireworks on and off the field.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Saturday at the pool

Lucas brought his parents along to the pool for some fun and enjoyment this afternoon. Of course, our electronics started to get in the way of the actual swimming after a while. The afternoon was cool and the sun was intermittent.
But Luke sure enjoyed the slide.

Weekend in Virginia

We headed out last Saturday for a weekend trip to Charlottesville to enjoy some history and wine. We were accompanied by Patrick and Tina who were celebrating their first wedding anniversary. It is hard to believe that it was just one year ago that they were married--but it is true.

The ride to Charlottesville was slower than usual, and it took three hours to get to Monticello where we started our day. But despite the ever present threat of storms, the weather held and we had a great time exploring Jefferson's house and grounds. I always learn something more on return trips.

Chris and Patrick at Horton Winery
And then, about 3pm it was off to a couple of wineries. Being close, we chose Jefferson winery and Blenheim Winery. We also spent some time looking for another winery, but never could find it. Funny how lack of a data signal on AT&T can really mess up plans.

Jefferson continues to be a body factory where people are moved through as quickly as possible. The wines are OK but not really of the quality that their pricing would suggest. The whites are better than the reds. The tasting room really needs a major overhaul to be able to accommodate the hoards of people. I did purchase some viognier, vin rouge, and a couple bottles of the meritage.

Then it was off to Blenheim. Not for the wines, but for the view. This winery offers perhaps the best views of any in the region. The wines are fairly simple and not complex. I bought a red, their best and passed on everything else. I found that they were serving their whites too cold, and so they were showing up in my glass with no nose and in my mouth with no taste. I do enjoy their tasting room and the spectacular views of the vineyards and the hills.

From there we spent an hour trying to find another place, but gave up. Then it was off to the hotel and then dinner at the Bonefish Grill, which was very nice and enjoyable.

All in all, it was a great day. Sunday, was equally as great and we made a great discovery, which I will write about later.

Happy anniversary P&T... And many more.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Early Morning Around the Pool

I was outside early Wednesday morning--working around the pool just after 5AM getting it ready for the afternoon End of the School; Year Party--depending of course on the thunderstorms which while forecast never materialized. And the party was a smashing success. Although I was late getting there because Ethan broke his arm and needed some Pop-pop help.

After the Party
The light was just beginning to grace the eastern sky as I was out there working and I could see bats chasing their meals above me in the twilight sky.

The automatic pool cleaner needed to come out of the pool as I had let it run overnight to get everything as ready as possible for the day ahead. Work, party, and sleep. What a combination.

I remember the morning--it was humid, with some rain falling during the night and the temperature staying in the 70's. The smells hanging in the air were familiar summer smells of mown grass and decaying plant matter. I considered, for a moment, jumping into the pool for an early morning swim--but for some reason thought better of it and decided to stay dry. I think the thought of going inside to the air conditioned house and being cold was the primary reason, and I didn't have enough time to stay outside and dry off.

Chris did a day trip to NYC with Jodie and Troy yesterday. I am glad that she is not only able to hit the road now that school is over, but that her attendance with them is wanted. There are some big decisions that are going to need to be made--and she has a way of helping to cut through the noise and get to the root of the issue at hand.

It was too bad the O's had a day off last night because it would have been a good evening to sojurn to the ballpark for a game--but there is always next week. I am going to a game tonight AND they are in town next week while Chris is planned to be away again.

Maybe I should jump into the pool next time I'm out there early in the morning. Why? Just because.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Last Northern Goshawk Killed

I read an article yesterday in the Baltimore Sun which really made me sad and outraged.

It was about a bird--but it shows that people are still really ignorant about some things--and among those things are wildlife, ecology, being green , and preserving life.

The article was about the last northern goshawk in the state of Maryland being killed. Actually, the headline was incorrect--because actually the last four were killed if you count the three dead chicks in the nest.

Why would someone shoot a bird--just because?

I guess because people shoot people, just because.

And it makes me sad that we, as a species, are so short-sighted and ignorant.

I love birds--and especially raptors. They bring a lot of joy to my heart as I watch them do something magnificent that I cannot do--and that is fly.  God blessed them with flight.

The loss of this bird and her chicks is something that will likely become a mere footnote in the history books of extinct species some day. I remember reading about passenger pigeons and how they darkened the skies, until they were hunted to extinction.

And now, I 've had to read about the last northern goshawk.

We must change or we will follow in their now silent footsteps.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ethan starts summer with a break

The Cast is Put On
One of the three princes has started out summer vacation much like his mother did many years ago, by breaking his arm. Ethan is a trooper though and kept a good sense of humor through it all.

I was even there to provide moral support.

So much for summer.

Travel, Hotels, and Water

Of course, they really do go together.  In a perfect world, I would be traveling to a hotel on the water in some tropical place.

Oh--I am going to be doing that in less than three weeks.
Flowers at Monticello

But really, last weekend's trip to Charlottesville was exciting because I had the opportunity to play with the camera again and attempt to take some interesting images--and not just of buildings. I tried to get one of a bee on a flower--I wanted to get it just with the bee either landing or taking off. Lesson learned: those guys are faster than my finger is on the shutter!

Who knew bees were that quick--OK, I did as I have been stung a lot when I thought I could brush them off.

'Tis but a flesh wound!

So the travel season is upon us and I am planning to travel a bit, although, it dawned upon me yesterday that my wife is traveling more and enjoying it more than I am. Between bus trips to New York City and flying to Ithaca, I can hardly keep up with her.

And as for water--I love vacations with water involved. I know that next year I am going to have to bite the bullet and go to the big ditch (Grand Canyon) but hey, who knows maybe we can do some rafting on the Colorado River.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Begins

It is much like a movie--and so it begins. At 1:13pm EDT officially summer begins.


As most of you know I have been waiting for this day since September of last year.

The pool is open. The lawns are mowed. The heat is slowly being turned up outside and the trees and grass are green.

I am already enjoying the summer, even though it has barely begun. But last evening as I was cleaning the pool, I enjoyed the idea that the clear water possessed the capability to provide so much enjoyment and fun. And yes, I did take a quick dip even though the temperatures were only in the 70's.

But July and August are ahead.

And so is the heat and the ever oppressive dog days.

The next up holiday is the 4th of July.

And then, shortly after that it is off to to St Lucia and a much needed vacation.

The fireflies were out again last evening, too. Truly summertime is with us despite the slowness of the calendar.

Th first pool party of the summer is tomorrow. Bring it on.

And it all begins early this afternoon.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday Musings - June 20, 2011

1. I am amazed how much history is within such a short drive of our home. Battlefields, decisive happenings, and the homes of four of the first five Presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe. We really owe a lot to the Virginians.

2. Wine brings people together for conversation, laughter, and fun.

3. Chris was a trooper this weekend, she rode in the backseat all weekend as we traveled around.

4. Be wary of the GPS, they are not as smart as they would have you believe.

5. Rain is a game changer. Embrace it.

6. Organizational picnics, softball, and dunk tanks go together, so don't be surprised when you, too get wet.

7. Makayla loves to go for rides in the car. One word, road-trip and she is all about getting into the car for a ride. I don't know why she gets so excited, but it may have something to do with not being left behind. I don't like being lef behind, either.

8. I suffered through a pop quiz this weekend at Monticello and only got partial credit for my answer to the question: How tall was Thomas Jefferson? I said six foot two inches. The correct answer was six foot two and a half inches.

9. This is now my second blog entry from my new iPad. I'm still getting used to it, but it works not all that bad, although pictures are a problem that I still need to address.

10. Thank you to my family for a wonderful Father's Day. I'm sorry that many of you couldn't spend time with me, but knowing that you wanted to really warmed my heart. Thanks for calling and making me feel loved and for loving me enough to allow me to go off on a wine/history weekend and miss spending some all-too-short time with you.

11. And so another week begins as the year slides into half gone and the sun climbs to it's most northerly position in the sky tomorrow. Summer is upon us and it is all downhill from here.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Out the hotel window -Charlottesville

It was a great day yesterday. We decided to take a weekend away and used some travel points I had to get a hotel and zipped, more like slogged our way in heavy traffic, to Charlottesville, VA for an infusion of history and some wine.

Out my hotel window is pretty boring a sight, but at least we do not face another building directly.  And the sky is visible. I can see the humidity hanging in the air this morning and I know it is going to be a very humid day.

Yesterday we enjoyed Monticello again. I continue to be fascinated by Jefferson and I learn something more every time I visit. The last time I was here, it seemed they focused upon Jefferson the intellectual. This time, they were very apologetic for Jefferson the slave owner.

We did manage three wineries yesterday and bought a few bottles to share.

Today, more wine and some time with James and Dolley Madison.

Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Winnebago or Bust

There was a time, not too many years ago, when my dream of retirement was wrapped up in a huge motor home towing my car behind me on the open road headed to wherever my heart desired.

I would see those big RVs on the highway and begin salivating in my mind about how to acquire one to experience the freedom they represented.

Ah, the thought of the open road--by the way, have you seen an open road lately? Mine are all jammed with traffic and patrolled by police looking to supplement the state coffers by writing as many nuisance tickets as they possibly can. The other day, I saw three of them patrolling a five-mile stretch of Route 100. Ugh!

Now though, the dream is gone. I do not see these behemoths of the highway as being any fun at all. Slow, gas guzzling, hard to park, huge to drive RVs that lumber along and surely cannot be any fun at all in city driving areas.

It all just doesn't seem to be any fun to me now.

Big vehicles, lumbering along and congested highways.

Maybe a couple decades ago--but now, I'd rather fly, get to my destination and enjoy time not on the road.

I guess I've lost the dream. Maybe I just realize that the roads are not getting any less congested.

And then, I haven't listened to Willie Nelson sing "On the Road Again" in a really long while.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Green Evening

Sitting on the deck last evening, watching the rain fall straight down from the sky to water the plants and the lawn, I realized that one of the things that I love about summer is the green.  The leaves on the trees make a rolling, enveloping canopy of green that envelopes my mind and helps me to relax after a particularly hectic day.

Of course the glass of wine in my hand assisted in that effort as well.

I would not be well suited to live in a desert environment--of that I am sure--I prefer green leaves to ubiquitous sand. 

In addition to being a comforting sight in the trees, the green backdrop also serves to highlight the colors of the flowers around the yard, like the hibiscus that Chris imaged the other day. We winter these plants in the house to enjoy their blooms year after year--during the winter season parts of the house look like a greenhouse--but as soon as the weather warms--outside they go to begin recovering from the less than ideal growing conditions we subject them to from November to about April. But they survive, and this plant is over 10 years old--having made it through a number of those dark seasons in the house.

This year, we have a few additional treats around the yard as well. At least two families of wrens have decided that we have a pleasurable environment and the young birds are now heading out on their own--although still staying pretty close to their parents. They are fun to watch as they fly single file from one tree to another and then squawk at the cats who are contained within the fence in the yard. For such small birds they sure can squawk and sing loudly.

But looking at the leaves and the different shades of green and blue-green that they add to the canvass of the world is also enjoyable. I remember the bare limbs of the winter ready trees, and now these green, leaf laden trees are a beautiful sight to enjoy. I want to keep it etched into my mind--long into the dark days of winter.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Tell the Truth (really?)

I had an interesting discussion the other night about being truthful.

The conversation started over a career opportunity that was being considered and once we pealed away the layers we got down to the basic question of:

Why don't we tell the truth when asked important questions?

Why, I began wondering in my mind and we pursued the discussion--apparently because we don't want to hurt the other person's feelings (OK--that is a good point). So maybe there is an upside?  probably not.

When we are not honest in providing a response to a question, and the other person subsequently makes a decision based upon that answer--it is important to realize that we cannot and must not harbor ill will. One person makes a decision in good faith based upon the input from another--and somehow usually the decision-maker becomes the problem.  How unfair is that when the problem is the person providing the defective answer.

It happens with a lot of things--purchases of big things like houses and cars, and washers and dryers. It also happens when dealing with vacation spots and finances.  It is amazing how we play the martyr and not tell the truth and then expect compensation. Have you ever heard someone say: "I hope you are enjoying your vacation, because I didn't want to come here at all!"

That's wrong.

OK--note to self--there are a couple of things we probably shouldn't respond truthfully to if the results are bad and these are usually those leading questions from women about age, weight, and looks!  So guys, keep that in mind--I'm reminded of the Geico commercial about Honest Abe trying to answer his wife in a leading question he was asked.

Despite these few exceptions though,we need to be truthful with each other--say what we mean and mean what we say.

And, tell the truth--really (mostly?)!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


I took a moment the other day to consider my dog, Makayla.

It was as I was selling an old dog crate which had been in storage for a couple of years and the person who was buying it brought his puppy along to check it out and give it her seal of approval--which she did. He had had the puppy for three days--and so was still getting used to its habits and was also in the middle of trying to get it trained.  A never-ending process it seems.

I allowed Makayla out to play with the puppy--who was very accepting of the bigger dog. And of course, Makayla was fantastic with the puppy and made her feel welcomed and safe.

Makayla: Duck Hunter!
As I was chatting with the puppy's owner, I mentioned a few of the dogs that I have had as friends in the past, specifically Meghan and Nufi; and how they were great, well trained companions, as is Makayla.

I love looking into Makayla's eyes--which I do nearly every day, and seeing the calm acceptance looking back at me from her furry face. I was also reminded of her as a puppy, and now a dog and how she in three short years has developed into such a faithful companion.

Where would we be without dogs to fill our lives with unconditional love and acceptance?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lightning Bugs

It was kind of magical last evening as Chris and I sat outside talking about the day and our plans for the future and the summer ahead.  On the calendar it is still officially Springtime, but given the temperatures of last week, and the length of the days we are experiencing right now--we know it is really more Summertime.  And one little harbinger confirming the beginning of the Summer season was out to greet us last evening--a firefly or, if you prefer a lightning bug.

We had one lone firefly dancing in the cool evening air for our entertainment and enjoyment last evening. Being the first one of the season, it was especially significant as we both reminisced about summers past and chasing and capturing fireflies as children and putting them into jars so that we could enjoy their eerie light on demand--but releasing them, unlike so many other bugs which were summarily executed, back into the night so that their lights  would continue to fascinate and entertain us.

The evening was cool--almost crisp , and the air had been cleansed of the oppressive humidity of last week. Some mosquitoes were also annoying us, as mosquitoes are born to do--but we engaged in a bit of chemical warfare to thwart their attacks.

But that firefly most certainly caught our attention. I remembered summer evenings past when the canopy of tulip poplars above us would twinkle by the light of fireflies, as if filled by thousands of stars, and smiled knowing we are still on the upside of summer--the season I dream of every day from October until April.

It is funny how one, lone firefly can help us to recall the good times of our past and help us to look forward to so many more--thinking of the grandsons chasing them in the yard on still to come summer evenings brings a smile to my heart.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Musings - June 13, 2011

1. Weiner shouldn't have.

2. Storms remind us of the power of nature.

3. Note to friends: next time we hear the rumble of thunder, let's get out of the pool!

4. A bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers, and planked salmon--what could be a better evening?

5. Something that makes me appreciate the pace of life around the house on a day-to-day basis is watching two grandsons overnight! While they are a joy, they sure do turn up the energy level in the house.

6. I confess that I am not an NBA basketball fan anymore, but I was cheering for anybody other than the Miami Heat to win the championship--and it happened. Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks for putting the beasts of the NBA back in the box.

7. I watched a movie the other day and they postulated that riding the roller coaster of life and marriage is far more desirable than riding the merry-go-round.

8. A funny thing happened with the pool yesterday--I decided to add some heat so we could enjoy it better, but by the time the temperature got to the right place in the pool, storms came through and made it too cold to swim anyway.  Thankfully, we did spend a couple hours in the pool, even in its cool state earlier in the day. These 60-some degree nights are taking a toll on the temperature of the water.

9. I am in shock thinking about the upcoming summer vacation. We leave in less than four weeks. It is funny--over a year in planning is coming to reality and I'm still going to be in the panic mode when it actually gets here.

10. It is supposed to be cooler this week--I miss the 90's already!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Calla Lilly Sunday

As I was walking Makayla this morning, I took a moment to consider this bright yellow flower in the yard.

It has been in place almost a month and is every bit as beautiful a the day we planted it to bring some much needed color to that portion of the gardens. I enjoy looking at it almost as much as it enjoys growing there.

It makes me smile when I see it there with the butterfly bush busily growing in the background.

Summer flowers and butterflies, damp dew covered morning grass and a clear blue sky.

I love being able to enjoy mornings.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

When One plus One is One

I have been thinking about marriages and relationships--perhaps it is because two of my children are celebrating anniversaries this coming week, or that I have seen the drama play out on in the news media as another political person destroys his marriage, or maybe a part of a discussion that I had last evening.  But I woke up this morning and was reminded that 1+1=1 is an equation that can be used to define marriage.

I love math, and using math to help understand the life is useful and this equation really helps me understand the concept of marriage.

When two people are in a relationship (but not married) they are a couple, but the equation is 1+1=2.  They are still two individuals although they are together. If something doesn't go their way--they can and often do part company. That is the way it should be, until they find the person that makes them complete--that fills in the gaps and helps them to see what they have been missing from life and relationships.  We were not meant to go through life alone.  We are meant to be part of a team--the team defined by marriage.

The transformation between two people in a relationship and a marriage occurs through commitment to each other. The commitment to change the equation to read 1+1=1. It is not the ceremony that does this--the ceremony is the public profession that the couple is transforming from two individuals into a single new creation.  I have seen marriages where the commitment wasn't there and they tried to remain two separate individuals living together.  These were defective marriages and they failed. Ultimately, I believe selfishness played a factor, too.

The mystery of marriage is that each person brings everything that they are and that they have into the marriage. Nothing is held back. It is an "all in" situation, a selfless situation. It takes 100 percent of each person to make the new creation--the marriage.  Even the thought process needs to transform--the two most dangerous words in a marriage are: "I want."  The "I want" needs to be replaced with "I believe we." Whenever there is an "I" it should be followed closely by a "we."  It is a hard idea--and I know that some people can't get by the idea that they are "giving up" their identity; but they are looking at it wrong. I confess--sometimes I still use the "I want" in my thinking and it usually gets me into trouble--sometimes it works to transform it into a "I want, do you think we" situation.

The idea behind the equation of 1+1=1 is that the new creation--the sum of one person plus one person, requires everything from both to be a one new creation.  That means--using the individuality of each to improve and create the marriage.  Don't lose it--use it. Don't hold back--give it all up to each other. 

Since it is commitment that ultimately provides the foundation for a marriage--is it possible for people to be married without the ceremony? Sure. The ceremony is the public profession that lives are being transformed: two lives become one from this day forward. I know couples who have not made the public profession--and gotten the piece of paper, but they are married--because they are committed to each other and have fused their identities and their creativity into one unit. I would urge them to make that public profession to acknowledge the transformation that has already occurred.

Marriage reminds me that individually I am less than whole--and to be whole, I need to commit to another person.  Hence--1+1=1.  All of me, plus all Chris in full commitment to each other makes us a new creation and fully whole people.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Storm

Last evening some ferocious thunderstorms blew through the area.

I stood on the covered deck and watched the trees waving in the wind--it was a magnificent sight--the dark gray clouds and the trees punctuated by the flashes of lightening followed by the peals of thunder. This was an especially mean storm as the branches of the trees swayed above us--

The lightening flashed followed almost immediately by the thunder which really is a sonic boom crashing through the evening air.

Makayla, although a bit unnerved by the ferocity of the storm, stayed by my side as I sat on the porch watching the wind and rain.  I was reminded of watching storms roll down the valley from the front porch of the house I grew up in.  The smell of the air, cleansed and freshened by the rain is something which lingers in my memory even today.

The way the trees bend--even though we think of them as solid, is amazing in the face of the storm.

My pool was filled with the leaves torn from those trees--but all of the ones near our house weathered the worst the storm could dish out.

The lawns drank in the water from the sky--it has been hot and dry for a couple weeks.

Evening thunderstorms--I really enjoy them--and the temperature dropped 13 degrees--from 90 to 77.

And just a quickly as it blew in--it was gone and nothing but a memory, and the resulting clean up.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Follow Up to Daily Fun

I was successful this morning in changing my attitude form a do or die match into recreational fun.

Did I win?


Does is matter?

Thankfully, no--because I was enjoying the competition and the recreation and not so strung out about winning or losing.

Maybe this will work for me if I continue to focus on playing and the joy of playing and not be so concerned about winning. I think my desire for the Orioles to win is beginning to expand into other areas of my life.

When Having Fun Becomes a Daily Trial

I firmly believe we need to have fun living life as much as possible.

Some areas of life are not much fun--but others need to be fun and when they stop being fun it is time to examine what's really going on. 

I've been struggling lately on the racquetball court--and something that I love has become a trial every time I step onto the court.  And it is not that I am losing--I know how to lose, it is that I continue to do dumb things and don't seem to be learning from making the same stupid shot over and over again. I am allowing my frustration with myself to take the fun out of something that I love doing and something that helps me remain sharp and in shape.

I hate running for running sake--the only time I apprecaite running is when I'm being chased.

And the are other areas of life which can become a fun black hole if we are not careful.

Perspective--that is what we need. remember why we do some of the things we do--because we enjoy them. And when the enjoyment is gone, then it is time examine a bit deeper what is going on.

So last evening as I was floating in the pool, I took a moment to examine the stress I'm putting on myself in areas that I don't need to carry stress and I resolved that I am going to start having fun again and not get so tight about these things.

i mean--I do some things because I enjoy them.  So I need to enjoy them again, and have fun.

I have enough things in my life that are not fun and are really serious.  So I need to really guard the line and not allow recreation activities to cross over into the the realm of life and death type of situations.

I'll let you know how this works out for me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Where Was That Again?

I read an interesting article the other day that reminded me bout the phantom Bible verses that people sometimes quote.  The article is "Actually, that's not in the Bible" by John Blake of CNN.

The premise of the article is that most Christians have never read the Bible, nor are they well versed on what the Bible actually says.

He makes a strong case by pointing out a number of phrases which people usually believe are Biblical--but which do not appear anywhere within the Bible:

Some of the most popular faux verses are pithy paraphrases of biblical concepts or bits of folk wisdom.

Consider these two:

“God works in mysterious ways.”
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”

Both sound as if they are taken from the Bible, but they’re not. The first is a paraphrase of a 19th century hymn by the English poet William Cowper (“God moves in a mysterious way, His wonders to perform).

The “cleanliness” passage was coined by John Wesley, the 18th century evangelist who founded Methodism,  says Thomas Kidd, a history professor at Baylor University in Texas.

“No matter if John Wesley or someone else came up with a wise saying - if it sounds proverbish, people figure it must come from the Bible,”

He later writes about another popular non-Biblical phrase: spare the rod and spoil the child, which is often quoted in an effort to support physical punishment.

The bottom line for me after reading this article is to remind me that not everyone who quotes the Bible actually has read what they are quoting AND that that I need to continue to diligently question every teaching and check it against the source document for accuracy not only in word but context.

Christians also need to actually read the book that they haul around to meetings and church--what a concept. Open the cover and read and question and search the pages for the actual words of God.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Heroes who walk among us

Did you ever think about the person behind you in line at the grocery store?

Or the person driving the car in the lane opposite you on the highway?

There are heroes among us who we never, or rarely, acknowledge.

Who am I writing about? Well--there are many different categories of heroes--but today I'm especially sensitive to cancer survivors. I have been face to face with many cancer survivors--I call at least three of them friends, and this weekend after I saw the scars of the battle on my nephew and witnessed his "it's not gonna beat me" attitude I realized that cancer curvivors are truly special people.

They are members of a very special fraternity.

Cancer is destructive--we all know that, but these heroes who take the full brunt of cancer's assault in their bodies which leaves them disfigured--but alive, know it far better than we who only read about cancer or talk to the survivors.  

There is no living with cancer--no armistice.  Cancer is either growing or gone.

And the threat of a new assault is always there.

The battle, the struggle for life after cancer is an all or nothing proposition. There is no just living or coexisting with it.

It is a life or death struggle--beat it or die. A person I respected greatly knew she could not win the battle the second time around a few years ago--and decided to cross over into eternity. But she had thought she had already beaten this insidious killer once before.

And so to the heroes in my life--Sue, Mary, and Fran; I shout out to you. I am in awe of how you live your lives every day under the shadow. And to Troy--you so impressed me this past weekend with your spirit and you courage.  I wasn't sure what I was going to find when I arrived at the hospital on Friday--but I found a fighter who is facing the worst that life can toss at him and is still smiling.

Good on ya!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday Musings - June 6, 2011

1. Happy D-Day--please pause to remember the sacrifices of those who served to protect our freedom and the brave men who stormed the beaches of Normandy to secure freedom for Europe from the oppression of the Nazi's.

2. OK--his name is Jackson and he is a movie critic--and he was on the Today Show.  I recommend him for family movie reviews. Family Movie Reviews

3. If you want a laugh--check out Nicole's random quotes of the day in her blog: Our Crazy Family

4. Family gatherings bring out the best and the worst in all of us.  It reminds us why we like to get together and  and also why we live apart!

5. Space, the final frontier seems to be slipping farther and farther from us when once we embraced it as the new frontier.

6. Highway driving can be exciting and boring. I'd rather it was boring.

7. I've had the chance to drive through long stretches of rolling green mountains during the past couple of days--and it reminded me how much open space there really is out there that we need to protect.

8. Ugh. My coffee pot continues to give me fits.  Nothing puts a damper on a morning more quickly than coffee pot problems.

9. I visited some Finger Lakes wineries yesterday. Part of me would love to have a vineyard--but I'm sure the mystique of owning and trying to run it would soon wear off.

10. Driving home yesterday, we saw many old cars on the highway. It was fun to look at them and think of the era gone by  and how far our cars (and our highways) have come in terms of MPG, safety, and comfort.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Sunday trips home

The problem with weekend trips is the return trip home. The adrenaline of the departure day just isn't there and traveling so much in such a short time is hard.

We need to make it more fun. But then we are usually so anxious to get home that we don't stop along the way.
Today we make the return trek from Ithaca to Elkridge. I look forward to getting home only to be confronted by the unmowed yard and everything else I failed to do around the house this weekend. Even the newspapers at the street will be there. Unmoved and unread.

But we have enjoyed the brief visit and I really appreciate everyone dropping their loves to accommodate our quick trip.

It will be good to get home.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Rhododendron in NY

It is a cool and rainy day here in upstate NY.

One thing I have been noticing is the multitude of blooms on the rhododendron's around the area. They are just magnificent.

Even against the gray and rainy skies.

This one was at my parents house. Bit they seemingly are everywhere one chooses to look.

Even with the rain it is a good day for visiting and I have been doing some odd jobs around my parent's house as well as catching up.

I do miss the 90's of last weekend though.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Leaving New York

A shot out the front of the car on our way to Ithaca.
Traffic is bad!

We just left the hospital and are headed out of the Big Apple.

On the Road to NYC

Crossing the Susquehanna River near Havre de Grace on the ribbon of asphalt known as I-95. The day is awesome. This was taken over an hour ago but traffic continues to be favorable and we are 54 miles from our first stop of the day in the Big Apple.
Oh yeah. Let's go O's

Surfboard Poppop

The other evening I learned all about another great aspect of begin a grandfather. I became an underwater surfboard for my six-year old grandson Ethan.

Funny as it sounds--he spent most of Wednesday evening standing on my back as I crawled along the pool bottom imitating a slow speed surfboard.

I am told he was really getting into the idea of surfing on Poppop's back--although since I was underwater I really could not appreciate his enthusiasm until I surfaced.

We spend more than an hour with me crawling along the bottom for a bit and then backing up to get him off so I could surface for a breath.

I learned a couple of things: he has sharp toenails, he has sharp fingernails, and he is tireless when it comes to surfing Poppop's back.

I do have a few scratches as reminders of times when he lost his balance.

It was a beautiful afternoon and I decided to take him to our pool rather than spending the afternoon at his house watching Phineas & Ferb.

We also worked on his swimming skills and he is finally at least breathing when he swims and can almost reliably swim the length of the pool.

What a great way to spend some time after work--working with the grandsons.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Endeavour's Final Touchdown from Space

As the era of U.S. manned space flight draws to an end, I need to comment about the final landing of the space shuttle Endeavour yesterday morning.

There is so much history caught up in the closing of the era of U.S. manned space--after the Atlantis mission in July, I do not reasonably expect to U.S. to launch a manned mission into space for at least the next 20 years.

And so--as the era of the Space Race comes to a close and we cede to the Russians and the Chinese the ability to place people into orbit--a sad day is coming. Manned access to space will no longer be possible form the United States.  The source of national pride--which I was once able to witness in person, will no longer ply the vacuum of space carrying the US flag on its side and the Canadian Maple Leaf in the shuttle bay.

I have become so accustomed to our frequent missions into space that the loss may not be apparent for a long while.  But at some point, we will wonder why we lost our adventurous spirit and become so entrenched in the mundane aspects of living that we have forgotten to refresh ourselves with the excitement and wonder of discovering the unknown and pushing the envelope of knowledge.

A bit of history about this shuttle from Wikipedia:

The orbiter is named after the British HMS Endeavour, the ship which took Captain James Cook on his first voyage of discovery (1768–1771).[5] This is why the name is spelled in the British English manner, rather than the American English ("Endeavor"). This has caused confusion, most notably when NASA themselves misspelled a sign on the launch pad in 2007.[6] The name also honored Endeavour, the Command Module of Apollo 15, itself also named after Cook's ship.

Discovery, exploration, pushing the edges of knowledge--all characteristics of the vessels named Endeavour!

And characteristics that used to define the United States.

Good-bye Endeavour--you served us well!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bring on the Heat

I have heard people remark about the temperatures soaring from the 60's to the 80's and 90's without really visiting the 70's during the past couple of days.  And it truly seems like we are enjoying those mid-July type temperatures for a bit.

Last evening after I finally made it home through some of the worst traffic I have experienced since the last three day weekend after being soundly spanked on the racquetball court, I fully appreciated my oasis in Elkridge. The pool was already in shade but the sky above was clear and blue. The trees were full and green standing tall against the sky. Every time I see the leaf filled crowns of the trees I remember the barren branches of the seasons past and I appreciate the trees and their leaves all that much more.  The temperature was 90-something and the water was warm and inviting--almost too warm.

Chris and I sat in the humid evening talking about the day and the continuing struggles of life, and then I was onto a floatie in the pool with a glass of wine for some unwinding.

So--yea, when people talk about how hot it is, I sometimes forget that I am blessed with an oasis in the middle of suburbia where I can sit under palms (literally) and enjoy tropical hibiscus flowers while sipping an evening glass of wine before firing up the grill to cook the catch of the day.

My oasis is surrounded on three sides by tall and very green trees which separate us from the noise and clamor of life occurring around us.  The house shields us on the fourth.  Our solitude is pierced only by the incessantly repetitious noise of the ice cream truck--which I have to admit if I had the means, I would consider reducing it into a flaming pile of rubble. The sounds that single machine creates are the most offensive to my solitude that can ever be imagined. And the noise of the ice cream truck continues in my mind long after it has departed the neighborhood.

But I do so love this time of year--these first real days of summertime heat.  

Bring it on--enjoy it. We all will too soon be wishing for summer again when the temperatures drop below 40.
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