I won't look back

I won't look back. No. My sights are locked forward, straight ahead, myopic tunnel vision and all. 2011 was a year with as many shots up cut short as there were plummets to depths averted by twists, turns and loop-de-loops.

So no, I won't look back. There is only ahead to look.

It's all a blur anyway. I am blessed with shoddy memory, never remembering to eat breakfast, let alone remember what I had. And that's a good thing. It takes the sting out of traumas and dramas.

Because, you see, it's all about potential. It's all about taking each moment and making the best of it. Always. Time is linear; we are linear creatures and time drags us right along. We can go kicking and screaming, or we can look forward at what can be and make it so. Are there gray areas? Are there times when the fight against the tide muddies the waters and the vision? Sure. But, a simple realignment is all it takes to clear things up again. Straight ahead.

Yes, it's just that abstract. Take it from someone who can't do anything but wonder at the powerful drugs Picasso must've indulged in to create the messes he made and trust that the past is just that - a mess of an abstract. It's done. It's over with. It's set. Time to move on.

Ahead. I'm ready. A new moment is waiting.

Happy New Year!

Update: See? Picasso was a nut!


Sex isn’t a secret. It’s a key.


Of course I remember; it was The Big Day. I had no idea why, though I suspected it was a Big Deal considering how many whispers behind hands were fed into ears. It was Sex Education day in the grade school, and we were all to watch a film shown to all the 6th grade classes that day. Whispers and wiggles. Whispers and wiggles.

I must point out that it was a relief that lunches were only long enough to bolt down the sad excuse for food slopped on a sectioned tray because they were nothing more than slab seats attached to slab tables that folded to move out of the way. The film started shortly after the lights went out, and that’s when the wiggling finally stopped. It must’ve been made in the 1940’s – it was black and white, streaked, stuttery and utterly boring. My seat because uncomfortable and fast.


Just do your job already!


I must’ve walked over these leaves a half dozen times before I really looked down. There, in a pile of leaves blown up against the stoop, were two leaves unlike all the others. Somewhere, a sycamore had dropped its huge leaves, but there is no sycamore around; not in the yard or the neighboring yard of magnolias; not across the street, not down the street. Yet, there they are, two sycamore leaves, joined with the countless others piled up against the back door step. That’s the mystery, the story behind this photo, and a pretty good symbol of what my mind has been caught up with.

Questions I’ve struggled with often rose up to the surface yet again today as I walked my usual steps through the day. These are the questions that I find ultimately separate me from a good number of my fellow human beings. No matter how many times I ask these questions, I never find a suitable answer.


Test it out for yourself: the law of attraction


Positive thinking goes a long way in making the world a better place to be.

Having said that, my mind drew a blank. How can I prove it? I thought of a rainy day. Sure, rain puts a damper – on some things. Like, it tends to make seeing a bit difficult when trying to peer through rain-spattered glasses, and it makes for a Bad Hair Day. But, a rainy day means the air is cleaned, the grass will grow, and colors stand out brightly against the gray.

It’s the negative thinking that tends to suck the life out of even the brightest, sunniest day. The ugly thoughts spiral down until no amount of sun can brighten the mood. It’s the negative thinking that gets in the way of finding your way out of a difficult situation, and what might be just a difficult situation then becomes a full-blown crisis. Think of a teenager waking up in the morning of her prom with a huge zit on her nose. Yeah, there is nothing more traumatic.

How you think – positive or negative – has an immediate impact on everyone around you. Negative thinking nets negative responses, and visa versa. How you choose to think, negative or positive, is the framework for how you act toward others. The people you interact with, as a result, react to and act toward you in the same way. In essence, you attract to you what you expect.

Go ahead, test it out. Let me know what you discover.


Speaking of expectations…


I find this time of year a bit difficult. It seems like the color is just washed away and everything is left a sad, drooping gray. My mood droops along with it.

There’s an unexpected plus, getting into photography. Looking around constantly, my mind’s eye searches for anything that might be remotely interesting within the lens frame. It’s like everything is frozen for an instant for a longer look at what’s really there instead of my eyes impatiently scanning it all in the search for color.

Rusty old expectations


Expectations are tricky, and they are everywhere. Some are covertly subliminal and others brash and smacking you in the face at every turn. It seems that no matter how staunchly we shore up our defenses against disappointment, those expectations find a way to sneak in a cold-cocked whack to the jaw every now and then.

I don’t watch TV any more; not in the traditional sense. I view a few of my old favorite shows online. I expect that I am better off not watching TV, sucked into its forced scheduling and endless commercials, watching mindless shows while waiting for the one I want to see. The old VCR used to ease some of that pain. I could watch the shows I wanted and fast forward through the stupid commercials, but then I’d be watching my shows a day late, after everyone else saw them, unable to participate in lunchroom discussions about them.


We Are The Many


If you wondered what Occupy Wall Street is about, here’s your answer.


Nature takes its course


Ah, the beautiful fall colors. So radiant, so vibrant, and here for such a short time! It’s that line drawn in the sand, the mark between an end and a beginning.

This time, I think to myself, I am not going to let the winter bring me down.

I had to make one of those huge, life-changing-or-not decisions, and finally made, I thought “that was that” and it would be done. I chose to stay the course, follow through with what has been a long time coming and that I’ve waited so patiently for. It means changes are ahead, but in the form of increasing the way it’s been instead of something totally new. I’m pretty happy with my choice, and the fact that I can change my mind later makes it the right one. Heh.


What dreams are made of


Have you forgotten how to dream?

Have you forgotten how to hope?

Maybe so. Is it time to dust off and try again?

Make it so.

If you can think it, then it is possible.

Dreams are thoughts, uninhibited by your reality.

Dreams are your thoughts.

Thinking is your power.

That’s what dreams are made of.


We need to get on the same page

Little Red River at Heber Springs, Arkansas 11/1/11

I can’t sleep.

Is it that tonight there is an extra hour to sleep? No. We fall back every year, but I’ve never not been able to sleep through it. So, what? My mind just won’t shut off.

The truth is, I am afraid. Very afraid.


The perfect ride to the Air Force Ball


As the sun set, the night quickly became chilly. Yet, those who parked in the distant lot chose to wait in line to be shuttled to the Air Force Ball held at the Little Rock Air Force Base last Friday by one of the three carriages provided by The Princess’s Carriage.


Rainy Sunday


On Flikr, the most often used camera is the iPhone.

After showing you all the photos of Heber Springs taken with my iPhone4 – and becoming used to seeing that quality of photo – I decided to dig my ‘real’ camera out for a few shots this morning.

The difference is astounding, even on the crappy laptop I have. There is much more color capacity, which gives a great sense of depth to the photos.


Caught up in big


This week, I started working out of a satellite office in Heber Springs, Arkansas. It’s about a 30 minute drive over winding country roads through the mountains, and the trip is filled with amazing sights. The most shocking sight to see is Sugarloaf Mountain.


Are things getting better or worse?


"Things are getting better, yet people always think things are getting worse."

When I heard that, it stopped me in my tracks. It seems to be completely opposite of the way I’ve been thinking lately: Things are getting worse, yet people think things are better. I think it’s worth looking at, peeking around the corner a bit, just to see what’s on the other side. Hey, if something comes out of the blue that affronts a long-held belief, then it’s worth a look-see, right?

One of the major things about getting old is that it’s harder to remember things. Well, no shit, Sherlock. As time goes on, there’s a lot more things that happen, it all accumulates, piles up and gets deep. What, we’re supposed to remember it all? I mean, isn’t it logical that a 20 year old with only 7,300 days to his name could remember something that happened a few years ago compared to a 50 year old with 18,000 days to sift through? See what I mean?  There’s no Fading Memory Syndrome; it’s just plain math. There’s just way too many things to remember, even for the sharpest Crayon in the box. It’s the needle-in-a-haystack thing, and my haystack is reaching mountainous proportions, ok?


What being on welfare is really like


No, no one can live on $162 a month. It’s not possible.

$162 a month for a single mother with a young child with mandatory participation in work search, school (GED, vocational education), paid work, on the job training, or unpaid work, minimum of 30 hours a week.

That is “being on welfare” in the state of Arkansas.

There is a long list of “musts” that go along with it, with a much shorter list of assistance in the form of Food Stamps, Medicaid, limited childcare and, once in awhile, mileage reimbursement. A mother must turn over all child support money received, must put in that 30 hours a week work activity, must participate in counseling, must vaccinate her child, must report any changes in circumstances, must meet with the caseworker twice a month, must sign a release of information…

To dispel a common misconception, if a woman becomes pregnant and has another child while participating in TANF/TEA, the amount received does not increase. To dash another myth, that 24 month limit is a lifetime cap. 

Can you imagine what it would be like if this were your reality, your life?


Media blackout, misinformation, misdirection the beginning of a very slippery slope


The last few days, I’ve held my breath, waiting for the news about the “Occupy Wall Street” protest to hit the headlines; but I’ve been waiting in vain. Then, last night, I found a very short AP article about how 80 of the protesters were arrested. YouTube is far more forthcoming with news of the protest, though none of the videos’ view counts go over 50,000. As if finally ceding to the uproar about the media blackout, the NY Times shot out a quick, highly critical, painfully short of substance, article today where the obvious purpose is to fragment and vilify the story. The article implies that the protesters are nothing more than a few unemployed college students who have no idea what “corporate personhood” is. So, the information leaking out into the mainstream is only misinformation. None link to the Occupy Wall Street website, as though it isn’t easy enough to find via Google.


9/11–America’s obituary


The horror is no less palpable today than it was last year or ten years ago. The specifics may have blurred with the passage of time, but not the pain, the despair, the trauma of the birth of a new and different way of thinking about life.

The 10-year anniversary of 9/11 brings a torrent of emotion, and try as I might, none of those emotions can be called positive.


Be well, Larry


My thoughts are with my friend Larry, who is awaiting quadruple bypass surgery in St. Vincent’s hospital in Little Rock. A tight chest and shortness of breath led him to the hospital before he had a major cardiac episode, but blockage is pretty severe. Surgery was originally slotted for 7:00 today, but has been rescheduled for tomorrow.

I’m sending healing thoughts your way, Larry. Be well, Old Man. Be well.


When the wind kicks up


Like all horse-crazy little girls, I read all the Black Stallion books, cover to cover, over and over. Walter Farley gave the dream of feeling the power, the strength, the wind, the warmth and the heat of riding a horse. But, not just any horse. It was a big, black, incredibly fast stallion. I had no idea what a stallion was, and Farley didn’t quite explain it (other than it was a male horse), but I wasn’t all that happy that he chose to make the horse black. Black, at that point in my young mind, meant back luck, and the story pretty much played that out. So when Farley came up with a book about a red horse named Flame, I was in love. Hands down, a red horse meant fire, burning life and perhaps not so much bad luck. Even though a red horse, a sorrel, is the most common color for a horse and not exactly desirable, I still love a red horse.


Needs, wants, consideration and knocks at the door


Knock, knock, knock…

Loud and insistent, I feared for the integrity of the old front door already warped and cracked and weak. Looking between the slats of the window blinds, I saw no car in the driveway and was about to walk away when the loud, insistent knocking came again. I opened the door a crack.

“Can I have a glass of water?” The brown eyes set in the wide face atop a tall, large figure of a woman met mine and must’ve registered the blank look I knew I had on my face.

“Remember me? I hang out with Tim sometimes and I just walked and realized I must be dehydrated.”


Parents, pet and horse owners need education now


There are two things that burn, and I mean burn me bad. First is harming a child. The second is harming an animal. Do you see the pattern here? Both are dependent on adults, on us, to protect them and to provide for them. That is an absolute. There is no room in that absolute for harm in any way, shape or form. Got that? Good.

Now, I’m no dummy. I know that there are people who don’t happen to take the responsibility of care, protection and providing for kids and animals as seriously as I do. I say, “Shame on them!” What part of being an adult, a responsible adult, don’t these people get? Didn’t their mommas take care of them? If their mommas didn’t do the job, didn’t they hope that some other responsible adult would step up to the plate and make it right for them?


The total far more than the sum


There wouldn’t be an ocean without all the drops, and every drip effects every drop. It’s simple. Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so everything must shift with every movement. And what isn’t in motion? Boiled down, that’s what it amounts to; a drop, a drip, a ripple, a cascade of cause and effect, constantly. But, this airy, abstract jumble of philosophical mumbo-jumbo accomplishes nothing without every drop’s awareness of it and the absolute reality of being a part of the whole. There would be no ocean without all the drops, each and every one of them.


Privacy is a matter of common sense


Being online has become such a big part of our world that it’s almost unimaginable what life was like without it. For me, the most significant aspect of the role the Internet plays in my life has been the immediate access to information and knowledge. All you need is an Internet connection, and you can learn anything. Just as significant is that everyone is connected to just about everyone, virtually world-wide. It is empowering, powerful and infinite in potential.

While I may be jumping up and down in joy about being plugged into the world, many are not. There are privacy concerns and it’s no secret that some use the Internet for unscrupulous reasons. In this way, the Internet is no different than telephone or TV or any other form of mass communication. If a business or a government or a person decides to stick its nose into your life, it will find a way and you will be harmed, no matter what the vector. It happened before the Internet and it will happen always. That’s just the way it is.

What can you do to keep your private stuff private?


Caption this!

You know, as soon as I saw this photo come across my Google+ stream, I fell in love with it. There is so much going on in this photo that it tells its story quite well. But, the story it tells me is probably very different from the story that it tells you. I’m curious to know just what story this photo tells you.

So, go ahead and give it a caption. Whatever strikes your fancy.


An invitation to join Google+



The doors to the new and surprisingly great service are about half flung open with 150 invitations granted to current users. Google+ is what other social networks were meant to be and a whole lot more. So, have an invite. It’s on me.

Join Google+


From clean cut to cut clean off

So, this man comes in to my office today and sits there looking like Matt Damon, only shorter, younger, and not an actor. He’s one of the many guys around here working for one of the many fly-by-night companies working the Fayetteville Shale Play.

Ah, what a winning pair of blue eyes and a nice smile. Just a few years older than my son, I was wondering what he’d be like, but I liked him immediately. I got him talking.

“I love my wife. She’s been my wife for 12 years and she’ll be my wife for at least another 12,” he said, and he was serious. I liked him more.

“I don’t know where I’d be without my wife. She’s a real penny-pincher and we’ve got some savings. In fact, in the last 12 years, she’s splurged twice. She bought a car and she bought an iPad. I can’t figure that thing out, but she does amazing things with it.” I liked him even more.

The next guy came in and sat down, and I was struck by the contrast, though I couldn’t say how right away. He had the same short haircut as the first man, seemed clean-cut on the outside, but his skin was pale and peaked. His eyes were gray and his cheeks were sunken. When I met his eyes, they didn’t smile back, so the interaction between us was superficial at best.


When a newspaper has its own agenda, it can’t be trusted to report the news

Integrity : firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values; incorruptibility : an unimpaired condition; soundness : the quality or state of being complete or undivided; completeness
I’m a news junkie. I didn’t used to be. I used to feel the news was nothing but doom and gloom, car accidents and drug busts, and politics. I never understood the value of a newspaper beyond the comics and the classifieds and housetraining a new puppy. My attitude changed when my love of writing led me to reporting for a few small newspapers, and in the course of researching to learn and understand what I got myself into.

The tangible, abstract heat of it all


The idea hits. It will be great. I can start here, I think, then while it’s starting to simmer…  ~poof~ …it’s gone. Just like that. It was a good idea, one that just had to be. Or so I thought. Then again, thinking is a relative concept; one far more abstract than tangible. No shit.

Climate control. No, not global warming and all that. (I boil when someone says, in the dead of winter during a particularly frosty freeze, “How can there be ‘global warming’ when it is this cold” in all indignation and disgust. “Oh, you dope,” I think to myself.) Climate control is this canned air. The non-stop buzz of the air conditioning, pumping out recycled, dead air into the confined space of these four walls. As dead as it may be, it’s a cool, comfortable 74 degrees. It’s cool, comfortable and safe.


I found a good, honest mechanic!

I love me a good car. When I get my hands on a good car, I run it until it won’t run no more. When a particular make of car runs and runs and runs, chances are good I’ll get another. That’s value, right?

So, when I saw a Honda Accord on the used car lot, I headed right to it. The lot owner said, “You don’t want that car. It don’t work. The transmission is shot.” “But, does it run?” “Yes, you have to manually shift the gears, but it don’t work right.” That wasn’t enough to deter me. He said to me, “If you take the car, give me what I got in it and get it out of here. I don’t want to have to fix it.”

I wrote the man a check and happily drove off with an impeccably maintained 1991 Honda Accord EX sedan with a purring engine and the tightest steering I’ve ever felt. The driver’s side power window doesn’t work, there’s no antennae, the paint is a bit sun bleached in spots and I had to get back tires, but other than that, the car is in perfect condition. Well, besides that pesky transmission problem, that is. Still the car ran and ran well. It just didn’t shift on its own and only two of the four gears worked, third and fourth. That was fine with me.


When neither face is attractive

I can’t be something that I’m not; because, what I am is so much more.

It is during the teen years that personhood is developed, defined and refined so that by adulthood, necessary coping mechanisms, traits and talents are working their charm on the world. Navigating life is done by taking the path of least resistance and optimal security.

That’s logical. I’ve observed that premise in action in every person I’ve met. But, where there are problems or difficulties is where I’ve found a division of sorts. The available energy is split, motivation is dual-natured, and at the root of it all is a lacking in the truth department. There can be no honesty in a ‘two-faced’ person because honesty is pretty black and white. You is, or you ain’t an honest person. If you’re not honest to yourself, you can’t be honest to others; and nothing illustrates this more than someone you find to be two-faced.


A question of a particular bird on a wire

“Oh, hey,” he says to me. “Do you live in the house with the dead bird hanging from the wire? It’s been there for a week.”

In my job, I hear all kinds of things. I thought I had heard it all. Then, this man sat with me that, turns out, lives a few houses down from me.

When I saw his address, I debated for a few moments whether I should reveal that I was, in fact, his neighbor. This isn’t a very close or open sort of neighborhood, I imagine it’s because it’s mostly rental houses and people tend to come and go quite often. So, I took the leap and said I lived down the street from him. I never would have imagined he’d say there was a dead bird hanging from the wires in my front yard!

“What are you talking about, a dead bird!” How could I not know this? It’s been there for over a week, he said, and I didn’t know about a dead bird hanging?

“Here, see? I took a photo of it.” Out comes his cell phone with a photo of, you guessed it, a dead bird hanging from a wire. He had zoomed in, so there was nothing in the photo that anchored that dead bird hanging from a wire to my neighborhood.


Unanswered questions fuel the misplaced anger

“You taught me to be nice, so nice that now I am so full of niceness, I have no sense of right and wrong, no outrage, no passion.” Redheaded Riter 
“What has become quite clear is that the "Dark Triad"-- which consists of the combination of Machiavellianism, subclinical narcissism, and subclinical psychopathy-- is an overarching trait that everyone has to some degree. Unfortunately, some people just have a lot more of it than others.”
"You realize there are folks out there who want to do crazy things, like fillet people open, pour salt on them, and feed their legs to the piranhas," Judge Belvin Perry said.
Last night at dinner, in a popular, crowded restaurant, I watched a woman look down at the baby carrier she had set next to her on the booth seat. The new mother’s face was blank, an expression that didn’t seem to change from when she was looking at the menu to when she was looking down at her baby. At one point, she reached into the carrier to retrieve a dropped pacifier and reinsert it into her baby’s mouth, then returned to focus on the menu.


There’s a right way, then the other way of earning a paycheck


The Internet is outraged by the jury’s verdict of not guilty in the Casey Anthony trial. It is a horrific thought that a mother could murder her child, then get away with it. The lying, conniving little tramp got away with murder, the innumerable comments say in outrage. She gets away with murder and Caylee’s death goes unpunished. Justice isn’t served, and it’s a sad, mad day.

Everyone is outraged, but for the wrong reasons. The investigation into the disappearance and death of the little girl came up empty of hard evidence. What evidence they did have did not point to her mother as the one that caused her death. There was no motive, and there was no story of what transpired that ended with the death of Caylee Anthony. That the state was allowed to go to trial with the scant forensic evidence and circumstantial witness testimony was pure folly.

And, it was sloppy, crappy work. In fact, the entire case was handled so badly by the state’s prosecution that they should all be fired. The case presented could only result in not guilty because reasonable doubt was there every step of the way. But, will they be fired?


Casey Anthony an insult to us all


The Casey Anthony trial speaks volumes about how far away we’ve become a subjective culture. The trial is a media circus resulting in a sequestered jury, 12 peers spending the last month in hotel rooms, away from their families and lives, and hopefully safely away from the endless commentary about the case. Closing arguments begin today with deliberations set to begin tonight.

The facts in the case are few and far between. At some point in June or July of 2008, 2 year old Caylee went missing. However, this wasn’t discovered for a month while Casey Anthony partied her heart out. Then one day, grandma Cindy gets a call to come pick up her daughter’s abandoned car that reeked of death. Six months later, the toddler's body was found not far from her grandparent’s home where she and her mom lived as of the last time the little girl was seen alive. That, in a nutshell is all that is known. The trial itself has produced no other hard evidence, and the jury must decide, beyond a reasonable doubt, whether Casey Anthony planned and murdered her child.


Things left unsaid leaves Yarnell Ice Cream story untold


The week started as all weeks start. The more things change; the more things stay the same, as the saying goes. But, this week wasn’t to be the same.

Thursday morning, a text came in: “I hear y’all got some ice cream makers there today. I heard they’re all at the unemployment office and Yarnell’s locked their doors.” A few minutes later, I knew that it was true. It wasn’t just an ugly rumor. One of the oldest businesses in town, the area’s sixth largest employer, had shut its doors for good.

The shock rippled through town. The news picked it up fast and within hours, my Facebook wall was filled with the same headline from radio local radio stations to the major TV news out of Little Rock. The last ice cream maker in Arkansas has shut down. It’s a sad day for Arkansas, a dismal day for Searcy.


Trying not to think about the heat


Relief. The breeze coming off the pond this morning felt good against my sweat-damp skin. The sight of the calm beauty felt good to my soul. I wished for the relief of a cool breeze.

I had set out to ride Odin this morning. I left the house a little before 8:00 with the saddle in the back seat of the car. Already in the high 80’s and humid, by the time I got there, I knew I wouldn’t ride. The sun was already harshly burning, the air too still to be fresh, and the heat waves were already rising.

The high pressure system came early this year and is staying stuck with a vengeance. No rain. No break from the heat. And, no way I can tolerate much more than an hour outside. Instead of riding, I stood in Odin’s shadow enjoying his company, swatting flies while he munched the grass. The heat index was over 100 degrees and I felt a little faint while I drove back home. I gulped a half gallon of water and fell into bed, thankful for the air conditioning.

I’m not going to think. I’m not going to think about how this heat limits what I can do. I’m not going to think about how we are all hiding inside and away from the ruthless sun. I’m not going to think about how this heat could last until the end of November.


Four years of A Bumpy Path


At the end of June, 2007 is when I started this blog about the lumps and the bumps that come along with it all. “All,” for me, is an overactive mind and a passionate heart that causes major damage when there is no outlet.

So, I took to writing. I couldn’t settle for jots and ramblings in a private journal; that wasn’t cutting it. I found it to be pointless to mash all those racing thoughts into processed coherency only to get it out of my system. Surely there has to be a use for all that productivity. Right?  If ‘misery loves company’ is true, then you came to the right place.


Wave that flag, Weiner

From the west it came, blocking the sun’s rays, darkening the sky hours before sunset. The cold met the hot in fury; deafening thunder, blinding lightning. Wind-bent trees were weighed down more under heavy rain that quickly collected to form raging streams and rivulets. The torrent lasted a half hour and was gone. But, the coolness lingered; a welcomed relief from the stifling heat of the last few weeks.

I watched the storm from the barn door with Odin, my ears ringing from the sound of the rain pounding the tin roof. The look in his eye seemed to reflect what I was feeling: Not resigned, not content; not quite suffering, but not far from it either. We were both pensive.

It was a kick in the gut. Someone decided to steal the hubcap covers from one side of my car one morning this week while it was parked at work. I discovered the theft on my way to lunch. I felt, I feel, betrayed. And, horrified. I have so little.

So, what? What is this?


It’s bad. Very bad. It’s so bad right now.


Ticks, bullhockey and blood pressure


See those woods back there? They call loudly to me of swaths of ground that have never seen the soles of shoes, of adventure, and in this blistering heat, of cool, quiet relief. Don’t look too long at those woods though, because looks are deceiving. Looking draws you in, sucks you in, lets you believe your idealistic blabber and naiveté until you are lured into its depths. Step one foot closer and that’s all it takes for the woods to own you. But, not in the idealistic way of cool, of quiet. Oh, no. Look up. If there is even a remote chance that a tree limb is above your head, you’re doomed. And, that’s when the sucking starts. And, it doesn’t stop.


Are you ready for the real thing?

The ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that’s indifferent to our wishes — a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts, a world of resistance — with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self.  (Jonathan Franzen)
I've got a lot of years behind me now, enough to have lifetime events written into high school history books. I've witnessed the advent of the Bic Pen, color TV, automatic washing machines, electric typewriters, countertop toasters, microwave ovens, touch-tone phones, automatic transmissions, cable TV, cell phones, digital cameras and personal computers connected to the Internet.


A storm blowing in


There’s a storm blowing in. Storms have been blowing in all over the place, within and without. I’ve been thinking that Mother Nature’s storms are pointing the finger at our own storms, making us take notice.

Rumor has it that insurance companies are no longer paying out replacement value on claims submitted, specifically the claims filed as a result of the tornadoes in Alabama. Those who lost everything will see only a fraction of the cost to rebuild their homes and their lives. When did this change happen? Unknown. The insurance companies spliced it into the small print and no one noticed. You no longer get what you pay for, and there is no longer the peace of mind that an insurance policy is supposed to provide.


You want rapture? Try this on for size.

Rapture – to transport with excitement, carried away from one’s self by agreeable excitement; extreme joy or pleasure.
I did what most people will do when looking for a definition, an explanation or an understanding for something not quite known how it applies to current circumstances – I picked and chose from the varied descriptions offered the ones that suited my purpose.

Thus, today, May 21, 2011, the day of The Rapture, sounds like a good day, based on my chosen definition of the word. Give me a minute and I’m sure I could come up with an equally positive definition of “apocalypse” too. You see, it wouldn’t hurt my feelings a bit if today marked the day that the world as we know it comes to an end.


From pasture to stable


If you know me, you know that I cherish two things in life: my son and my horse. And then there’s the three dogs that are my constant companions. They rate pretty high up there too. But, Tim and Odin are my heart and soul.

If you know me, you know I’m a very passionate, emo-type person that feels nothing at less than 100 percent, and that overemotional-ness means that there has to be an outlet for all those emotions or I’d self-incinerate. Tim has all my love, but Odin gets all the runoff, just so that poor Tim doesn’t smother in motherly love. That’s how Odin shoulders a pretty big load in my little world.


Ingredients: Honey


It’s that simple. Really. I see it all the time. I can see it.

That simplicity is the key, when it’s all said and done. You can call it “filtering,” or maybe “prioritizing.” Simply put, it’s choice.

Every instant holds a choice.

There’s the dark, negative, hurtful, discouraging, disparaging side that acts like a cloud, the mud in water, the dampening gray of a cloudy lens.

Then there’s the light, positive, affirming side that frees the flow.

Which side do you choose?


Finding a path through the devastation


I-40, the major highway from Memphis to Little Rock, is flooded, along with miles and miles of countryside. Just last week, the state was hit with tornadoes and storms that fed this major bout of flooding we’re seeing now. It’s a horrible devastation that takes days to unfold, do its damage and then, finally, recede.

No matter how many photos I see or stories I hear, I find it hard to imagine it all. I could drive across town with my camera in hand and take photos of the Little Red River spilling over its banks, but I still don’t think I’d get the impact.


The pleasure of a home-cooked meal cooked for me


Why is it that food cooked by someone else always tastes great? It may actually be pretty crappy, but since I don’t cook it myself, it is heavenly.

I was in heaven yesterday when I came home from work. Tim, my son, had taken the leap and fixed up some Hamburger Helper, and a bowl of it was set aside for me to eat when I walked in the door. The bowl was still warm in the fridge, so it only took a minute and a half in the microwave and I was enjoying supper within minutes. Oh, you bet a steak would’ve been nice, and having a side of veggies would’ve made the goop a meal, but I can’t complain. How could I complain about a meal that was ready to eat faster than going through a McDonald’s drive-thru?


My iPhone tracks my every move. So what?


Did you see all the headlines this week about how iPhones record and store location data? Oh my, how it sent Congress – politicians – into an uproar about personal security violations! The media blasted out calls for Steve Jobs to explain himself, damn it. It hit a fever pitch, this supposed personal security rights violation, and Apple released an iOS update pronto. (I assume that 633 megabite download and install fixed the problem.)

At the same time, tucked in with all the uh-oh’s about smartphones tracking our every move was the news that enough people are going cell-phone-only nowadays and giving up landlines to make the news. Turns out, the people opting for only cell phones are those that are living in poverty. It seems that the pay-as-you-go or government cell phones with a scant 250 minutes are the popular choices among folks making only enough to register on the 2009 poverty scale: $11,000 for a single person, $22,000 for a family of four.

Put the two stories together and what do you get? A good dose of reality, if you’re so inclined.


Child sexual abuse: A lifetime of broken trust


It all started spinning when I watched a Frontline video about “The Silence,” a story about the rampant child sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests. The adults in the clip were abused as children around the same time that I was growing up and spending a lot of time with a priest my mother thought would bring me under control. No, I wasn’t abused by a priest, but I remember feeling that there was no way a man, no matter how many robes he tried to bury himself under, could be celibate. The video confirmed my suspicions, and I wish it didn’t. The pain runs so deeply that it’s palpable.

The pain runs deep. It unleashes an ocean of thoughts that take no time at all to spiral down and down, dredging up memories better left buried and out of sight of daily consciousness. Stop, I scream inside. Stop thinking about it.


Spilling the beans about dust and fire


Who would’ve thought that setting the feather duster next to a candle given to me atop a stereo speaker could end up so meaningful? Dust off the ol’ skills good before lighting the fire and broadcasting it loudly. It is a Bose speaker after all. Notice the seal still on and the wick uncharred? So far, it’s almost-but-not-quite happening.

Back in January, I took a leap and interviewed for, was offered and accepted a position as a child abuse investigator. Since I had previous experience in casework, I knew what I was getting into and started to wrap my mind around returning to a highly stressful, very demanding job. Just like any other state job, the hiring process was long and drawn out.


Not old enough, not young enough to work


Her youthful face looked freshly scrubbed, shiny and innocent. Just 19, she was already a mother and intelligent enough to know that her road may be more difficult, but not impossible. She was a go-getter, never still for long and loaded with youthful energy, all the while responsible and balanced. Her youth seemed to be what kept her mind clear and quick. She was a mountain of potential.

For three weeks, she worked as the receptionist at a mobile home sales lot, doing everything asked, and learning everything she could. She kept the website updated and completed purchase agreements. Everything was fine when she left work Friday, the owner’s last words of “See you on Monday” sent her away just like the two Fridays before. But Monday, when she came into work, there sat an older woman at her desk. The owner had decided she wanted someone older and with accounting experience.