Sunday, February 12, 2017

I tried being a member of a Christian Church, but it couldn’t work. The words that Jesus said clashed so blatantly with the beliefs the members held; I could abide no more. So now I call myself a follower of the teachings of the Christ…, and of all teachings that speak the truth…, that empathize with the plight of the poor..., that hold compassion for the persecuted…, that show love to the meek, and the lowly…, that offer hope to the forgotten and the oppressed…, as it was taught by the man of Galilee.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Ed passed today.  He was my step dad since I was ten or eleven.  He and my mom got married about a week after they met.  Ed and my mom had a good marriage.  They laughed a lot, loved a lot, cooked a lot, traveled a lot and yelled a lot.  Most of the yelling was around meal time and erupted in the infamous “one butt kitchen.” Usually while meals were being prepared.  As soon as the food got into the mouths, thought, the yelling was forgotten and the laughter erupted.  Mom and Ed were each other’s partners and helpmates.  They had a lot to keep up with.  Mom had us three and Ed had his eight.  They met all the challenges life dished out.  They did a good job. I am proud of them.  My favorite Ed-ism is his quip he made one day out in the driveway of his house when I’d just arrived on my Motorcycle form Albuquerque, all loaded down with strapped on bags.  “Four thousand dollars and it won’t even stand up by itself” is what he thought of my mode of transportation.  Another thing I always remember is when Bob and I were engaged in an intense battle of trash can and wadded paper basketball tossing and Ed came out and just plunked in like ten in a row.  “You just have to be consistent” he said.  I have never mastered that.  Ed had a good heart, a good smile, and a contagious laugh.  He was a stand in there, stand up man.  Ed made my life better.  Goodbye Ed. Rest in peace, enjoy that huge spacious kitchen up there, and give my love to Skye, Tim, Mom and Nancy……

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Ed.  Ed married my mom when I was…, eleven or twelve ish.  Don’t hold me to that.  Its foggy back that far.  I was a latch key kid when it happened.  Pretty much a wild child - roaming as I pleased in the neighborhood.  I am not sure what level of comprehension I had, at the time, of what he marring my mom meant.  They were getting married. Ok. Cool. Whatever.  Ed, as with most step parents (I assume), did not gain respect or authority, as he might have hoped, ala signing a marriage license.  The poor dude was subject to hell with respects to obedience from me.  
Ed came with eight other kids. Most of which were grown and never to play a part in my life.  Three of them did.  (Should I make false names here to protect the innocent?)  Ok.  You know who you are.  My new step siblings where…, hum…, it is so hard to put that in words.  One of them became a friend and a great companion, competitor, and accomplice.  One was a younger kid that always got stuck in my mind as little, and one was sort of in and out of the picture and seemed to be a source of concern and painful stress.    
Ed.  Ed was my mom’s new husband.  He never really became my dad.  Though, he did the things a dad is supposed to do.  Mom and Ed were the parents a person is supposed to have.  They were there for me when I needed parents.  They were the ones I went home to in college. They had the washing machine and dryer, they made meals at holidays, threw birthday parties, helped with college and co-signed loans. Ed became the father figure by virtue of being the one that was willing to be in that role.  Ed was of the ilk  that a dad did what was necessary to deal with the needs the kids had; whether the kids thought of him as dad or not. 
Ed. My mom is passed now.  Ed remains.  Not in good health.  Not in ideal circumstances.  He gets visits from us once a week.  We bring him a yogurt drink, or an all fruit smoothie from Quick trip.  He seems to enjoy that. I don’t know if Ed knows who I am or not now.  He sort of does, but I don’t think that lasts very long.  I don’t know if I love Ed.  He is my step dad - my mom married him, I didn’t.  I don’t know if my love is big enough to hold Ed close to my heart…, close enough to be able to hurt for him.  If not, that is more about me than him.  But I know I respect him.  I respect him as a dad.  As a guy that took on the responsibility of dad.  To be there for the kids.  To do what needed to be done for the kids…, at the expense of what needed to be done for Ed.  That I do respect.  And I guess I love him for that…..  Ed is an amazing man with an amazing life.  He shaped me in ways I will not fully comprehend.  So, today, I tip my hat (metaphorically) to a good and faithful dad.  You be well Edward Atkinson.  Be well.  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

It is two inches taller than me, several years older and weighs in at just under 500 lbs.  I stalked craigslist (and every other place I could think of) for a very long time.  Finally got this 18 inch bad boy in Lee Summit.  Besides the old man’s grandson who hauled it out of his grand dad’s shop and stuck it in his garage, I believe I am only the second owner.  It is in excellent condition, has all its parts and pieces intact.  I spent some time this week cleaning and lubricating parts and pieces and have it ready for projects.  I absolutely love it. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Trumpatitudes

Blessed are the rich in boasting, for theirs in the kingdom of arrogance…
Blessed are those who grope, for they shall be dismissed…
Blessed are the Mink coated, for they shall eat caviar…
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after money, for they will be called barons of capital….
Blessed are the merciless, for they shall build walls….
Blessed are the hateful in heart, for they shall see adoration....
Blessed are the warmongers, for they shall be called sons of patriotism….
Blessed are those who are propped up and admired for dubious business success, for theirs is the kingdom of exploitation. 

Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you for your racism and mean spiritedness, and say all manner of true things against you for your success sake, Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is the underswell of mean-spiritedness in this land, for so they persecuted the KKK,  and the fascists before you….

Monday, August 29, 2016

I read exactly two books before I graduated from high school.  (I know.  It’s unbelievable, but true).  O
I read exactly two books before I graduated from high school.  (I know.  It’s unbelievable, but true).  One was called the “Cycle Jumpers” and it was about my hero Evel Knievel; (and some other lesser characters).  I was bribed to read it; told I could go see the man when he came to Albuquerque if I did.   I did and we tried, but we were too late.  They sold all the tickets.  But My Dad and I walked along a fence and we found a hole and through it I saw one of the enduring impressions of my life.  Evel Knievel himself, on some funked up Harley, doing a wheelie down the length of the drag strip.  That is all I needed.  It filled me.  The next book I read was the screenplay for the movie, Young Frankenstein.  I had it in my head I wanted to see this movie.  My dad bribed me again that if I read the book he would bring me.  I did, he did, and it was fantastic.  Lots of things are “fantastic”, “awesome”, “unforgettable”, but some things catch you at just the right time.  Young Frankenstein caught me at the perfect time.  Today I was truly sad to hear the news that Gene Wilder passed.  He was awesome.  Beautiful.  Beautiful….

Thursday, August 4, 2016

This eve I drove from Grandview Mo, where I am working, to my sister’s apartment up near Zona Rosa, to get Maiah (she spent a couple days with her aunt) and them back home to Independence, where I started this morning (approximately 87 miles).  Along the way a few things crossed my mind.  Like that my mom, RIP, was once mugged at Indian Springs Mall which is not there anymore.  Where did that go?  But mostly I thought about how many miles I (we all) drive around this area-metro we live in.  It amazes me we have cars that take it in stride.  I remember messing with points and condensers and timing lights to keep motors going.  And calculating gas mileage with respect to how much money I had.  And not going places because I wanted to save tire tread.  All that is nostalgia now.  I, frankly, don’t look at the mileage on my truck much.  It’s a kind of passing interest.  “Oh, wow, I am up to 40k.  How did that happen?  Didn’t I just get this truck yesterday?”  We all have our individual vehicles with our individual costs and yet we all seem to be going the same places.  Trains instead of traffic made sense at one point along my route.  So much time driving.  So many miles traversed back and forth and back and forth.  It just kind of amazes me sometimes the lives we lead speeding here and there so fast.  Taken so much for granted.  With such banality. 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Ok, enough, enough…, we all know the two candidates are both corrupt and jacked up as hell….  We all know the government we idealize as “for the people” is really for the rich and powerful people.  This is, and has been, self-evident.  No one should be waking up these days and saying “OMG politics is corrupt”.  I mean, if that is the case…, wow. Really?  The fact is, we have a jacked up system.  A plutocracy.  Oligarchy.  Hypocrisy.  Yea it’s a mess.  Try being a borderline conspiracy theorist for some forty odd years.  I don’t need to hear your, “well- did you know the political system is -------” yea, actually, I did.  And probably a long time before you.  There is a good quote I want to attribute but I can’t presently find the source.  It says:  “America was created by the well bread, the well-read, and the well fed” Maybe that Is Howard Zinn’s (a people’s history of America).  Fair has never really been fair.  Justice has never been doled out by some ombudsman purist. That is not real.  What is real is that special interests compete to effect policy and the more powerful the special interest is, the more the policy is reflected.  “That’s just the way it is, some things will never change…” So, if you really want to see politics become what you idealize, you have to embrace being a special interest.  You, “WE”, (the people) have to circumvent the politics of money and greed and become the politics of health, wellbeing, the environment, tolerance, peace and diversity.   No Biggy.  Just vote.  Europe did it to get health care and paid maturity leave and awesome work rules.  Look at who is running, make a list of issues you want to see manifest, see which one is “closest” to you, and vote.  It is a percentage thing.  A long game thing.  An incremental change thing.  If you doubt it can work for you and your progressive values, look at how well the conservative, evangelical, and right to life folks have done.  They voted.  Often.  For the little seats in small government.  That is why Kansas is whacked.  Progressive values can dominate just as effectively as fundagelical conservatism, we just have to show up, at all the elections, not just the headliners, and vote for the people that we have more in agreement with than the other.  It is evolutionary.  Revolutionary. Piece of cake.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

An open letter to my Trolls:  

I know you think you have superior knowledge, experiences, insights, and sensibilities…, and I applaud you for that.  That is why I am assuming you have your own Facebook pages and other outlets to express all your valued nuggets of wisdom.  I don’t mind that you put your thoughts and opinions out there.  I don’t even mind if you comment on my page.  I like dialogue and commentary.  I am writing this note to clear up a few things you seem to be implying.  For starters, no I am not misled by the corporate Media and brainwashed.  If you will notice from my posts, which you seem to be reading, I frequently mention my favorite media source (Democracy Now) which is not corporate at all.  We give them money during fund drives on the radio to help support them.  I consider myself to be pretty well adept at discerning real news from propaganda whether it be from the govt. or corporate media.  I have my own head on my shoulders and think for myself.  Thank you very much for your concern though.  Next, no I am not ridiculous.  You may think so.  And that is your right.  And it doesn’t bother me that you do.  I, frankly, think you and al lot of people are ridiculous too.  We all share that in common.  I am not ignorant, or misinformed, or lacking in experiences or na├»ve, just because we disagree.  I accept that we all see things very differently (gold dress with blue stripes v. blue dress with gold stripes).  Oh and about all the attempts to inform me of the shortcomings and foibles, inconsistencies and contradictions inherent in the subject of the politics I may discuss, I think we can all avoid that silly game.  It is silly because for every knock you dish out there is an equal knock to be got on the other side.  Politics is not, never has been a realm of purities.  So stay engaged, be passionate, but have some respect and couth.  Thanks.   

Thursday, July 14, 2016

You want to protect your way of life, but you don’t want to see how the affluence you take for granted has come at the expense of others.  Other people.  Other people’s resources.  Other people’s blood.  It is so convenient not think about the reasons why you are hated: and to just hate back.  Why you are not safe. Why you have constantly to pay for defense, and constantly send your kids to war.  You lie to yourself.  You say it is to protect “the American way of life”, but you know, in your soul, it is to protect a lie.  The same lie an abused woman tells to protect her violent husband.  The same lie an addict tells to protect his source.  The same lie a greed infested man tells to protect his treasure.  It is the lie against acknowledging a reality of what has transpired.  The reality of why it is you have so much when so many have so little.  It is the lie against your ownership in the consequences of the evil that underpins “this American way of life.”
Capitalism begets exploitation which begets oppression.
Oppression begets resentment which begets revolt.
Revolt begets retaliation which begets terrorism.
Terrorism begets Nationalism which begets Fascism.
Fascism begets insanity which begets genocide.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

We won’t persuade each other again.  No more winning an argument with the best reasons.  No more pointing to the facts, the empirical evidences.  No persuasive speeches, or impassioned pleas to come to our senses. No more common sense.  No more shared values.  No more tolerance and civility.  Just divisiveness.  Just completely contradictory ways of looking at the same things.  No more humanity.  No more union.  No more America.  Just incomprehension all around.  Hostility.  Battles.  Endless feud.  Endless back and forth.  Tit for tat.  He said she said ad nauseam.  Meanwhile none of what ails us is solved.  No progress is made.  No achievement realized.  Tear down and destroy.  War.  Calamity.  It’s a terrible place we are come to in this modern time.  It’s a sad state of ill willed affairs.  A dark cloud from Mordor.  A dark place within us.  Is this really the best we can do?  Is this really how we tackle the future?  With perpetual strife?  Perhaps.  How sad.  It could be so much more. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Hillary…, Ok, it's you then.  Wish it wasn’t so, but ok.  So no one of us (on the political scale that includes liberals, democrats, progressives, and socialists) wants to see DT. In the White House.  You got the nod and we have to go with you now.  (By nod I mean…,) never mind.  So now you have to show the country how you would be better than DT.  That shouldn’t be difficult, except that no one really likes the politics you play.  So a suggestion…, maybe instead of just telling us what you will do to keep the course, how about telling us how you will do something besides the bidding of Wall Street.  That would be refreshing, and politically intelligent.  You have to know you would have lost to the B man without the expediencies of the status quo.  You have to see the writing on the wall.  Come on…, dig deep…, and pull out that good old proletariat hanky and make America work for the 99 again. 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Politics is like us-litics…, what we see on the TV playing out is not very far removed from what we hear in the “still quiet voice” of our own psycho - and spiritual dynamics. We see the inconsistencies of the politicians played on brutally telling clips…, what they said then…, what they said recently….. Ouch. We see the lack of self-control: the slips: the transgressions…, the blatant self-interest…, and the greed. On a “world wide scale” we see the oil companies polluting the ocean, the chemical company with wonton disrespect for the integrity of a major river. On a very intimate level we see ourselves eating the crap at Mc Donald’s, or drinking a Coke…, what’s the difference? It’s all pollution. Big players pollute big areas. Small players pollute small places. We all watch with interest what is going on in the world. We want things to get better. I have a suspicion that what the mystics alluded to may be correct; that what plays out on the big screen before us is no more than a reflection of what is playing out on the little screen within. If you have hate inside, and hate motivates you, how much does that get reflected in the reality you see? If you have love in side, and love, and peace, are what you long for…, how much does that shape the reality of your life? Politics is entertaining, but how would we see it if we took it as a reflection of what we are? What if it was not so much about what they are doing, and thinking, and saying, as it was about what we are doing, and thinking, and saying…? What if the contest was not externalized as it is, but internalized…, and each one of us had to come to terms, not with the state of the union, but with the state of our own inner reality? I wonder what the world would look like if we looked within as much as we look at the show.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

People commented about how we brought her home to die.  They said we gave her a gift…. Or that it took a lot of courage.   I don’t have a lot to say about how it all transpired.  She had a stroke, she couldn’t swallow.  The hospital did all the tests they could bill then set a time to discharge her to the nursing home.  It was pretty clear what that meant.  “Hum…, let me see…, die in the nursing home, or die at home…?”  The only thing that surprised me a bit was the resistance I got from the hospital nurse.  “Did we have a hospital bed at home?”  “Could we assure that that meds would be there?”  “Did we know what was involved?”  I was kind of set back….   Well “no”.  I didn’t have a hospital bed at home,” and “no,” about the meds, and “no,” about what I was in for.  Thank God for the hospice people who said yes? “Yes, go for it.”  They said they would take care of it and they did.  They were awesome. (They were really awesome.  You have no idea. They empowered me to make one of the best decisions of my life and came through on everything they said they would do.) 

People comment about how hard it must have been to go through this. It was hard -  in some ways.  But in other ways, it was a lot easier than I had imagined.  My mom knew she was going to die.  I am certain about this.  She knew.  She faced it with the same courage she faced all the trials in her life:  when her mom sent her to boarding school in Denver;  when her first husband brought her to the edge of the Aortic Circle to live, and teach, and raise her new  child;  when she got divorced in Albuquerque;  when she married a second time to a man with eight kids;  when she went through her own mom’s death in her own living room;  when she faced her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s;  when she sold her house and went to an assisted facility;  when  she moved into the memory wing with nothing left in her life but loved ones.  My mom knew she was dying and faced it with elemental courage.   I witnessed it up close.  Face to face.  Cheek to cheek.  Breath to breath.  Kiss to kiss.   

Bye Mom……….

Sunday, October 11, 2015

“Sanity is a many splendored thing” It amazes me how completely separated two people can be on an issue. Two people who, otherwise, have so much else in common. But get onto a topic of political, or religious, or moral significance, and – wow- unbridgeable chasm….. I had a notion once of folks being comprised of lots of layers… like plywood. Only a lot more layers. And most people have almost all the layers in common. On, let’s say 99.9 percent of all the layers, it eas...y enough to come to a comfortable understanding…. But there are those few little layers in which the disconnect is so profound and insurmountable that, at that level, both parties literally think the other is insane. This seems to be the most interesting an engaging level to focus on because it is almost all we really deal with. Let’s say I, a died the wool progressive, am standing at the entrance to the Grand Canyon with a dude that is as staunch a conservative as they come…. In that instance we can relate on so many things. The trip there. The awesome surroundings, kids, relatives, lines, costs, and the quality of the peanuts we bought…, whatever. But if we venture into the layer if politics, or religion, or climate changes, or the presidency, or taxis, or guns, or race, or borders…. “Katie bar the door…” We both know that. It is one of the defining characteristics of our time. That we, at a certain level, will absolutely, and irreconcilably, disagree. What a strange thing this is. What a waste of all the rest of our commonality. Maybe we will tear ourselves apart as a nation for these divisions. Maybe it will get so bad we war between ourselves. That doesn’t see so far out of the question to me. But if we do…, I wonder what they will say in a thousand years…. I wonder if the issues we find so compelling will look sane in a perspective of lapsed time.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

I use to write so much.  Now I hardly put pen to paper.  I am not sure what has changed.  Maybe my mind is too spent, capable, now, only of rudimentary functions.   It doesn't matter as I don’t seem to have a lot to say.  I have a hard time imagining how I had so much to say before. 

I still think.  It’s not as if the lights are out.  But the length of my thoughts, like the length of the breath in my lungs, is shorter.  I don’t have the stamina for complexities anymore.  The quip; the quote; the remembered phrase is long enough, and then I am ready to settle into the groove of simple anonymous  awareness…, of immediate surroundings…, of  imperative demands…, of  pressing sensations…, and comfort.  

I may well have melted brain cells with invulnerability infused life choices.  Or I may just be a fifty two year old man.  I may be wiser, or numb, or desensitized.   I don’t really know.  I have never been here before.  Isn’t that what life is - being (constantly) where we have never been before?  Sometimes life seems repetitive, but it can’t possibly be.  Life never stops being baffling; befuddling; beyond comprehension.

Tomorrow I’ll wake up and do what seems routine.  But routine is just a narcotic my mind produces to ease fear of the unknown.  Tomorrow I will wake up and unwittingly step into the abyss of unfamiliar.  Would that I had the spirit of Crazy Horse and I could go into each unknown moment with the call “today is a good day to die”.  Because if I had that courage in my heart to die, I know I would also own the courage to cry “today is a good day to live”.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Clearly guns don’t kill people. It’s just that when you pack a load of gunpowder into a metal casing, stuff a led plug in on top, shove this little piece of innocent debauchery into a steel chamber with a trigger…, and hey, … bad things just happen…. I am ok with guns being massively restricted. Preferably before one of my kids ends up victim to some demented monster with a gun at his disposal.
In a few minutes John Stewart will do his last show. I can’t really come to grips with this. I can only watch and know that a great thing is ending. I know he has been obscene, and crude, and most inappropriate, and in all manner juvenile. I know. (But it was funny). He has also been the greatest satirist in America since Jonathan Swift. (oooh lofty literary reference). Yea, he was better. No one has consistently and hilariously nailed the BS (right in the heart) so wonderfully. Let’s face it. We live in an age of extreme buffoonery, ridiculous hypocrisy, absurd injustice and incomprehensible lunacy. Where will we be without someone with a megaphone calling it out? I will miss this show very much. Mostly because it allowed me to laugh at the absurdity.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

“If only Jesus had a conceal and carry permit… He could have just shot his way out of the crucifixion thing.”

Today I was volunteering at a fireworks tent helping raise money for my kid’s Christian school.  One of the others helping asked me if I was a “conceal and carry person”.  They seemed to think that it would be good if someone there was able to have, and to hold, a gun… just in case.  Just in case, you know, someone tried to rob us.   Maybe it would be good if, in such an event, we had some fire power.  Like a shootout is always useful in a tent full of men women and children.  It frequently amazes me to witness how oblivious a particular segment of the “Christian community” is to the incompatibility of the teaching of Jesus and the rhetoric of NRA. 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

It’s all about the pain…

     the bullying and the belittling

     the lying and the rudeness

     the foolishness and the foibles  

     the malice and the mishaps

     the arrogance and the abandon

     the perfection and the perversions

     the legalism and the lapses

     the coldness and the calculation

 it’s all about the pain


it’s all about the love…

     the light and the laughter

     the compassion and the care

     the empathy and the entanglement

     the longing and the loss

     the support and the suffering

     the beauty and the bliss

     the patience and the passion

     the tenderness and the touch

it’s all about the love

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Got this really nice Kitchen Aid mixer for our wedding a year and some odd months ago.  Heavy thing.  Wow! Real metal.  So not long ago the thing craps out on Melanie while she is mixing dough.  Ok.  Piece of crap.  Bastards.  So Mel finds that there is a you-tube vid showing how to fix it.  Sure enough.  Very cool.  Screw driver-  a thin punch - a hammer.  No prob.  ? The vid starts with a guy saying that if the mixers mixing mechanism is not turning, it is probably because of a nylon gear that the manufacturer puts in as a sort of “safety overload” devise.  In other words, if you put the mixer under too much load, this nylon gear strips out to “protect the motor”.  Hummmmm.   Really.  Why don’t they just put one of those overload breakers like on my garbage desposer?  Or leave a metal gear and let the person making bread figure out for themselves that they are about to blow the motor.  I think this is more a case study in planned obsolescence than an attempt to save a motor from overload.  You know, we use to make lousy appliances and machines because we didn’t really know how to make them well.  Now we have all the knowhow we need to make a mixer, or a washing machine, or a refrigerator last a very long trouble free time.  But we don’t.  Instead all our ingenuity goes into figuring out just the right way to make it break, and under just the right circumstances, so as to cause a person to buy another rather than fix the one they bought.  My grandma bought one kitchen aid mixer and it last her -- well, it was working when she died.  Ours last a year and a half.  It’s cool that I could fix it.  $25.00 for a part and shipping.  But how many people are really going to do that?  It’s kind of staggering to think about all the resources, and aggravation, and landfill, and money, that are needlessly waited because companys have to  keep the sales coming in. 


Monday, November 3, 2014

    Harley Davidson…, not the fastest, not the lightest, not the nimblest, not the most economical, not the longest lived, and not, perhaps surprisingly to some, the best built…. So what is it then? Humm..  Well, it may be the heaviest, and the most expensive to operate.  It could be the hardest to maintain and have the most inflated value.  They do have a reputation for being the leakiest and least dependable, so what is it then?  I am going to take a stab here.  I think it has to do with Americana.  A Harley Davidson is a kin to the fin on the back of the old Cadillac, or the 440 under the hood, or the huge neon Texan dude above the streets of Las Vegas, Or Las Vegas - for that matter.  It’s like the Tee Pee motels on Rout 66.  The giant cement Paul Bunion.  And the 72 oz steak in Amarillo. It’s just all big, and American, and unsustainable. 

    I think of Americana in terms of Rout 66 and the Southwest.   Americana isn’t trendy, or progressive, or enhanced, or sophisticated.  It’s more rude and arrogant (ala ugly American arrogant), and belligerent. Yet in terms of nostalgia, it’s hauntingly beautiful and romantic.   Americana somehow captures a moment in history when the hopes and dreams, and audacity, of America was as wide open as the horizon in the West.  

    The Harley Davidson, by virtue of its inherently un-necessity, unlike the car, has managed to remain essentially behemoth.  This remained true long after the twenty foot long Chevy, art deco architecture, and commercial iconics, all succumbed to forward momentum.  Harley Davidson refused, balked, stumbled and faltered.  It would not, could not, get with the program.  Ironically, this may be the very, and only, element of genius associated the the brand.  

    The cacophony of blather voiced by aficionados of Harley Davidson touting the superiority of the product is preposterous.  Everyone knows this.  Even the faithful.  Japan, just as in automotives, long ago established superior engineering and has never let up.  Then there are German, and Italian, and Russian motorcycles that far out perform, and out last, the Harleys.  But what the sophisticated, in terms of engineering and performance, fail to quantify is that Harley Davidson possesses an element no manufacturer can reproduce.  A direct and unbroken linage to the essential sprit of Americana.  And in that virtue lies the rub.  Harley Davidson has its finger on the pulse of a nostalgic Americana, and it refuses to let up. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

You don’t know what life is going to be like.  You think you do.  But you don’t.  One day you wake up and have a moment of clarity and realize…, “wow this is not my life at all: it isn’t at all what I thought, or dreamed, or imagined.”   But another day (many circumstances removed) you will have a moment of clarity and realize…, “wow this looks like how I thought my life would be.” Life is funny that way.  Irony.  The life I knew I would have grew out of the ruin of the life I tried so hard to make work.   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

So there’s this thing when you are learning a new folk song on the banjo….  A teacher says: “here; let me show you how to play..., let’s say little Billy Wilson.  So you learn the tune to little Billy Wilson.  Cool.  Then you go to YouTube to see if you have the tune right.  You type in Little Billy Wilson, and you get the tunes under that name.   Isn’t technology awesome!  But when you play the video on YouTube…, “wait a minute, that isn’t the way my teacher taught me it went.”   Yea, it’s like that.  Apparently when it comes to old folk tunes, anything goes.  So my teacher teaches me the tune the way she learned it, and the people on YouTube learned it the way their teachers taught them,  and the two (or twelve ways) don’t really have a lot in common.  Ok, you can hear the basic idea of the tune.  But the particulars, like: where the notes go:  and what notes they are…, (you know the things a beginning banjo player really wants to know), well, those details are all over the place.  “Hum…, sort of frustrating.” I guess the deal is, that if you want to learn folk tunes, which by the nature of what they are, means you are learning old songs  that have been passed along by word of mouth over the ages, than you are entering a realm of swishyness.  A realm of approximations.  An area not confined by specifics.  In short, a realm most of the people who are interested in Folk music, are very comfortable inhabiting.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Drove home today in a sea of traffic.  Some kind of jamb from 69 to State Line.  Don’t know why.  Didn’t seem like there was a reason.  It doesn’t matter.  Dinner got cooked.  Nice evening with the girls - and Melanie.  Pretty sky after sunset.  Garden is happy from all the rain.  May is almost over and Missouri in the summer is a mean stretch.  But it’s all good. Life is big mean good pie.  Crazy and sublime.   

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

“With liberty and justice for all” The only problem is that it doesn’t work when power is controlled by the few.  Justice for all only works when the “all” to which it refers, have a share in actual power.  I like to think we did a better job in past seasons, you know -  democracy and all… maybe not so much.  These days I constantly hear stories of injustice and it amazes me that we still we get so shocked.  Especially the liberals.  “OMG that is so unfair.” Our righteous indignation button is pushed and we freak out.   A Poor man goes to jail for smoking a joint, while a rich man gets government bailout money for committing fraud and crashing the economy.  World leaders torture and get away with it; start wars and get away with it; lie about why people will die, and get away with it…, but God forbid a peace protester makes a stand at a nuclear bomb sight.  Boom; die in jail (check out Democracy Now archives about the protesters that threw blood on a Missile in a Silo).  Every day there is a barrage of assaults to the cherished notions of liberty and justice.  And every day there are cries of “foul Play”.   It concerns me that we hold onto fantasies in the face of the obvious.  It seems that in doing so we play into the hands of those who don’t care.  “Image flash of Dr. Evil, pinky in corner of mouth… “Oh, an injustice has occurred….” Evil cackles…”  Yea, it just seems like if we want to confront a real world, we have to do a better job of realizing what it actually is. Sadly sometimes this mean letting go of cherished ideals, (even the ones we are told are true all along).  I love the ideal of liberty and justice for all.  I think it’s an awesome goal.  But I don’t think it has much sway in a culture where power and control is held bya  very small elite of wealthy and influential.   But that’s just me.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Thank you all for the birthday nods.  Turning 51 is like - - - well, turning 51.  I mean, you have a lot to look at.  You can see most of what you have been able to put together.  And it is pretty amazing. I have a ton to be thankful for.  I could list it all here, but it pretty much boils down to my wife, my kids, my friends, and my family.  Beyond that, as far as what I have accomplished, well, it is what it isn’t, and it is what it is.  And I have to know that it is what I have made of it.  At 51 you kind of figure, ok, maybe 20 years left.  Maybe more, maybe less.  I figure 71 is pushing it, given how I have treated myself.   71 is a lot farther than I ever thought I would go.  81 would mean medical advances and lucky gene draw.   I can see myself still doing things at 71. But after that, I just see a drop off the like those old maps of the flat world.  What I know, what I can imagine, and then the edge where only dragons and gods can be drawn.  And they are crude renditions at that.  So 20 years is….  It’s a lot.  At 20 that is your whole life.  So 20 seem like a lot. At 40 it is half time.  At 60 it is thirds.  At 100, 20 years is a fifth.  But 20 years now, tacked onto 50, is not like 20 years tacked onto 0.  It’s a lot different.  A day now is like a month at 7.  When I was 8, a year was an eternity.  At 51 a year is like, “oh crap, did that get by me already?”  It’s gone.  A week is a hiccup.   A Month is maybe a few days to catch my breath, maybe.  A year – wow.  I don’t even want to think about that.  So 20 years after 50 is kind of like dog years.  Each year is really more like 1/7th of a year.   So in terms of what I can realistically expect to accomplish,   well.  Let’s just say, as a realist, not so much.  As an optimist, maybe a lot. As an idealist, oh what I could do with 20 years.   Thank God for idealism.  20 years is a good amount of time.  I just need to constantly remind myself how much I can get done in a day, if I want to.  Be very well all my friends and family.  I love you.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Pete Seeger: Waist Deep in the Big Muddy

Pete Seeger passed away yesterday.  I can’t help thinking of the verse in the bible when Jesus sees Nathanial and says, “Behold an Israelites in who is no guile” I grew up with the songs of Pete Seeger in my home.  I knew of him as a protester, a folk singer who sang for the people, socialist- in the most pure sense of the word.  A person for whom the social, or the human, was far more important than the capital – the money.  As far as I ever saw, Pete Seeger remained true to that basic ethic.  Growing up some of his most famous songs became painful and embarrassing to me.  “We shall overcome” (not written by Seeger, but famously sung by him), came to represent the anthem of failed vision and pitiful idealism of the scattered left.  But that is not Seeger’s fault.  This man was singing about all the important issues to workers, and environmentalists, and humans in oppression for many years before I was born.  Take a listen to his song, “The Big Muddy”, which was sung on the Smothers Brother’s show in the sixties.  Sometime if you have a chance, go to the interviews he did on Democracy Now.  They are archived.  Or just get a hold of a few of his songs.  He was a good one.  So long Pete Seeger.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Just a few musings about living small….


Today I built a 12’X12’ deck off the back of my house.  Mind you I have built a lot of big decks for my customers.  Decks with all the bells and whistles, and massive square footage (they have the discretionary cash to do so).  I have a working budget that consists of…, let’s just say a 12’x12’ deck is within my means.   This deck basically accommodates the nice iron table and chair set my wife brought with her form OP Ks. Its been sitting here and there on the lawn.  So I basically built a deck to accommodate the table and chairs.  And that is literally all it accommodates. But you know what, that is all it has to accommodate.  I don’t need to go bigger.  That is what I needed in the back yard; a functional place to put the table.

      I see big every day.  I work on big houses with big basements and enormous great rooms, and humongous decks, and ostentatious chandeliers.  I spend my days in houses that are big enough to comfortably sustain four families, but which house two people with seemingly unending needs to do more with “the space”.  There is a lot to be said for doing well and living the American Dream.  Hey, without those folks itching for the latest upgrades, I wouldn’t be working much.  But I feel somewhat obligated to put in a plug, once in a while, for the virtues of living small. Small can have some real advantages.  Let me just put a few out there:  you can hear your child when they are up in the middle of the night puking.  You don’t actually have to have a made.  You can mow the lawn in a half an hour.  The heat and cooling bills are less than the average college tuition.  You are forced by necessity to get rid of crap. 

     I don’t mean to say I wouldn’t love to be in a McMansion and have an eight car garage, and a deck larger than the oval office.  I am just saying, if life hasn’t doled out the discretionary cash to manage a home the size of the Vanderbilt, maybe there are some up sides to your lot in life.  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A couple notes about canning and pickling.  I decided last summer, after my first garden, to get set up for canning this year.  I am not sure what I expected, but this is clearly a hobby, not a practicality.  I spent about 4 hours this morning and early afternoon canning/pickling, okra, green beans, cucumbers, and banana peppers.  It is interesting, and I am enjoying it, but it is also a lot of work.  There is satisfaction on a number of levels.  There is a pride in self-sufficiency (although I am very thankful I don’t have to depend on this food for a subsistence) There is the knowledge that the food I am putting up is drug and chemical and capitalism free.  That is satisfying.  It is just cool to eat food out of the garden.  There is an amazement at the miracle of growing things, the pleasure of watching a bean , for instance, go from a little seed in the palm of my hand, to a delicious pickled treat on the fork of one of my daughters.  I have philosophical interests in gardening, and socio-economic and political reasons why I think it is a good Idea.  And probably the biggest benefit is that I really like spending time working in the garden.  It is therapeutic and stress reducing.  But I have to be honest and say the amount of work, on a purely practical basis, involved in producing a pint jar of beans, compared to the $1.19 or so it costs to buy it at the store…, well, let’s just say, no one need be disillusioned that this endeavor is somehow cost effective. 


Thursday, August 22, 2013

I don’t care if Bradley Manning wants to be a he or a she. It amazes me how focused we are on his personality and not on the information that this person was courageous enough to disclose. This person is going to jail for 35 years for blowing the whistle on crimes against humanity and war crimes, while the perpetrators of the crimes he brought into the light are free. I find this disgusting. It was demonstrated in the trial against him that justice in America, when it comes to people of power and influence, is about protecting face, not liberty or justice. Bradley Manning’s only crime was to embarrass the government of the United States by shedding the light of truth on the improprieties that were taking place in front of his eyes. A lesser man (or woman) would have turned away and left it all to secrecy. In the world I want and long for, Bradley Manning is a hero, and the perpetrators of war crimes, and crimes against humanity, are brought to justice. But this is clearly not the world I want- or long for. Please read up on the trial. Especially on the government’s own account of who was actually harmed by Mr. Manning’s disclosures. It is a stomach turning display of shameless brutality to hold this man as a prisoner while those whose actions harmed so many go un-scathed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Meditation has a lot to do with mindfulness, and mindfulness has to do with being aware, and awareness has a lot to do with the condition we are in.  Particularly with our emotional and attitudinal condition, be it stress, or depression, or anxiety, or resentment, or victimization…..  It is no small accomplishment in this noisy culture to simply be aware of our state of mind.  The first and most important step to addressing any problem is to recognize it.  Meditation and mindfulness help to give us an awareness of our condition from a perspective that transcends it.  And from that vantage point we can, if we are honest and fearless, realize our part in choosing the mood we are in.  When mindfulness and awareness begin to help us realize the power we have over our emotional and physical state, we begin the empowerment of self-determining our disposition.  This is, in my opinion, no small endeavor, and for me a tremendous challenge, but the reward includes freedom and self-determination over the most intimate and encompassing aspect of our conscious lives: our peace of mind. 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Not sure why I am so drawn to the garden.  Why this particular endeavor, of the multitude of possibilities, has so engaged me.  It is novelty, for sure.  Having never done anything like it.  It is a fascination and wonder at the biology and the mass of organic matter, and the amazing forms it all takes; starting from the smallest sum of seed.   It is the organic wholesomeness.  The pure unprocessed, un-commercialized, un-advertised, un-sprayed, bounty of food. 
There is a fundamentally appealing vibration to a garden.  Like a note played on an instrument you love.  Just a note.  Just a pure and simple vibration that draws away all the toxins of distraction and focuses the soul on a single nurturing vibe.  All this…,  Beauty of the flowers,  the smells, the textures and surprises.   I love the dynamic between the unutterable consciousness of spiritual expressions we live internally and the outer expressions of what we are doing in the physical world. So often it seems to me they reflect each other.  The garden may be such an expression.  It is growing new food from old beds.  New life with new possibilities and new expressions from an abandon plot.  I can’t help but feel like the garden is an out ward expression of the new life and growth I am experiencing internally, unexpectedly, undeservedly, unintentionally.  Life is good, life is bountiful.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It’s been a good day, can’t sleep now.  I couldn’t sleep last night.  The moon’s position, the alignment of stars, neurons firing for no real reason…, I don’t really know.  But it’s ok.  I will sleep another time.  I am trying, this eve, to position things in my house.  Looking for that elegant solution.  Maybe it’s there, maybe it isn’t.  It doesn’t really matter.  Someday I will wish I had all these moments back. It will haunt me that I didn’t spend them more intentionally.   But tonight, I don’t care too much about someday. I am just here today.  And today is ok.  And if I puts away a precious eve…, perhaps I will pay the tax of regret in some end of life perspective accounting.  I may say, “Yea, you are right.  I should have been doing more.”  So send me back and I will try to do better next time.  There is a point you come to in life when you realize you won’t change the world.  You won’t be a hero, or a martyr, or a player in the game.  You won’t realize those dreams you dreamed.  You will just be among the innumerable souls that came and took this ride.  Emm…   so harsh a thing to say….  So sad.  So pessimistic.  Yea.  But is it so bad?  Does a tree in the forest regret not changing the world?  Does a sunset wish it would be more effective?  Does a rain storm go away depressed if it doesn’t make a difference?  I don’t think so.  I think we are what we are and we do what we do.  And in the end….   I don’t know…, maybe it isn’t so much about whether we changed the course of history, or whether we were an anonymous soul living out a day to day existence.  Maybe it all boils down to whether we were simply conscious, or not, of the simple fact that we were alive.  That we had a breath to breathe in a moment of time.   Did we even know we were breathing it?  What did I do today?  Not much really.  But it was s nice day.  A very nice day.