Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

Many dear friends here know that I spend about two hours commuting on any given workaday. Much of it is dreamlike, flying over expanses of cerulean waters capped with tangerine skies, with other-worldly cloud formations.

Sucky photo which doesn’t do justice to the thunderhead yesterday, but captures a typical artistic distraction during my flight:


I often drive with my middle finger (not what you think! click the darn link!), do my best thinking and reverie-ing, and enjoy some of the most pleasant moments of my life. Mysterious and distant cargo ships, playful dolphins and close calls with dive-bombing pelicans are not uncommon.

Sure, the usual hazards of commuting present themselves on a daily basis – outdated traffic reports that land me in a veritable parking lot on a bridge with no way out, the idiots who tailgate at 80 mph or use the “2 car-length” rule as an opportunity to dart in front of me causing a mile-long trail of brake lights.

And don’t forget the uncovered dump trucks which spew windshield-knickers, Bubba in his pick-me-up-truck who didn’t bother to toss the trash before he attained higher speeds and the morons who bumble along in the left lane going 50 who fail to observe the “slower traffic keep right” flashing signs all across the loooong bridge.

These things don’t make me flinch anymore, nosirree Bob. I know I’m supposed to be watching the road, but as a writer/photographer, this gem from this morning is the type of road hazard which most gets my grammatical goat and induces editorial road rage:

Commute from Hell

Dear God, may Jesus be Lord also of proper spelling and editing…

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No, not that……


Please don’t read between any lines on this one, friends – just a funny thought from this week as my mind wanders through the miles and time.

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I’ve been posting pictures lately instead of words, so in honor of this blog’s One-th birthday, I thought I’d have a few words pop out of this virtual cake.

But not many…we’re headed to the ‘goon today with my dear aunt visiting from Bah-ston. (Yankees love cheese grits-n-shrimp, lemme tell ya…an’ she’s gonna love seeing pipefish while snorkeling, no doubt).

Here’s what I’m wishing for when the candles are blown out:

1.) For all my bloggy friends to have a fulfilling year of blogging – I’ve learned a lot from this and from you in a year – I’m humbled!

2.) To remember where I am (at the beach! in paradise! woo-hoo!) when my current heap-o-messes overcome me (there is Ahhh in the Arrghhh!). And that wasting away in Margaritaville is always superior to hoping a Mayan event will whisk me away from longsuffering.

3.) That I might resume my quest this year to overcome obstacles (like bull sharks, jellyfish and a torn ligament) and swim across the bay. Simply because it’s there. Y’all come man my pilot-boat, k?

4.) That when an adrenaline-inducing lightning storm (complete with big fat hail) zapped out my office phone on July 4th which now pretends to be in service by letting you leave a voice mail, but it isn’t, and the purchase order for a new one will take damn near two weeks to fill, that all those nice people leaving me voice mails under the assumption that I am receiving their calls will understand that I am not and they will have to call back in 2 weeks. I’m there, really I am. I just can’t hear you. Please call back. I can make no outgoing calls. I am not complaining – my workload got easier. Perhaps there is bliss in lightning. Hot-cha-cha, n’est-ce pas?

5.) That the key lime pie will not disappear from out of the fridge before I’ve even had a slice.

6.) That the proper Southern Baptist ladies on the bleachers at baseball this spring had never admitted out loud that they all read “50 Shades of Grey.” I knew my religion was right all along…

7.) That the still-young water heater will magically start working again and that the washing machine, which flooded the kids’ room today, was not responding to yet another supernatural event. Not to mention our laptop dying totally last Thursday. EGADAMIGHTY. Get me to an un-haunted house. I am tired of spending more time with Mr. ShopVac than my family. And what good is the extended warranty if you have to send the laptop off for 6 weeks? Oh, sure…just take all my personal information, be my guest. Tra-la.

8.) That I will use this blog to transmit peace, blessings and goodwill.

9.) That the guy in the white pickup next to me who smiled at me last Monday at the intersection as I put away my orange sticky note after writing yet another thought down during the red light, would reappear and tell me why he looked so bemused and kindly. Who were you? Where were you going? Why were you studying me to the point of not being ashamed to let me catch you smiling down on me? I was only wearing capris that day, not something more, um, truck-honking-worthy. And curses to the semi who did that to me coming out of the tunnel the other week – shame on you – you almost caused an accident. Tsk-tsk. Commuting is weird. I’m just trying to collect my thoughts, eat my bacon and drink my coffee. Don’t make me turn down my Ed Sheeran and other music. I’ve got plenty on my mind without you throwing a mental monkey wrench into my subconscious.

10.) That my lately-not-so-little-guy with Down syndrome would quit ambushing every birthday cake he comes upon and beating the birthday person to the punch by blowing out the candles because he just can’t restrain himself…because he knows what one does with candles on a cake. On second thought, I will let him step up to the plate here on this blog and blow away…and give him, and Him, the glory.

Happy birthday, baby.

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Laughing gulls…I can’t help but wonder what they’re laughing about. They never seem to lose their sense of humor.

On the waterfront trail early in the morning, I took advantage of the rising sun, lapping waves and the aroma of blooming roses. On the far side of the path when not directly on the water, I was propelled by the Foo Fighters, U2 and Kings of Leon. I had to turn it off waterside; no need for musical motivation when the seagulls and waves demand your attention.

Not to mention the damned goose that I neglected to see as I focused on the surreal, relaxing beauty of it all. He came right at me, disturbed at my steady clip running. His perfectly white feathers contrasted with his pylon-orange bill, which nipped me square in the crotch. I was sexually assaulted by a goose, yes. This amused the elderly couple leisurely walking several paces ahead facing me. I jumped back in surprise, and put a spring in my step. Nothing like a head-on collision with a determined animal to make you run faster. I suppose they don’t call it “goosing” for nothing.

Dear friend, I wish you could have been with me…kudzu up the cliffs making everything green, friendly smiles and greetings of other early morning beach-walkers, the crackle of shells underfoot while stretching out at the water’s edge, reflections of quickly moving, morning poofy clouds, the gently bobbing sailboats in the marina, and the soothing brackish air with every inhalation. And, of course, the fountain..

A brisk 3 miles later, I was reluctant to leave, so I savored the little vacation by taking the scenic route home, which follows the water. This is the playground of shamed politicians, movie-makers wishing to remain in cognito, and other assorted and sundry Famous American People who have reason to throw off the paparazzi for their whereabouts.

Little bungalows dot the road bordering the water with clever names like “Journey’s End,” “Thanks, Doc!” and “Pettaway’s Getaway.” Or this take on “The Cabin:”

Look closely at the Joneses sign behind; they are still hung over with Mardi Gras beads.

These neighbors have fashioned a whimsical gate leading to their waterfront abode:

On the way home, I stopped by the nursery (finally!) and corrected the pathetic situation on the front porch with fresh, hanging plants in a warm, gentle breeze:

The rest of the afternoon was spent sipping Brontë & Chardonnay on the front porch swing, but gulping the smell of freshly mowed grass.

Sunday found me braving the experience of herding our 4 children into our local Waffle Establishment for a rare meal “out,” (eating out at our house usually means out on the back deck or the front porch). In the afternoon I did an interview for a national magazine (professional/trade – don’t look for me in the next Maxim, k?) and wrapping up laundry for the week.  Oh, and another trip to the park for more sandy fun. Jes’ can’t stay away, dontchaknow?

A blister on my foot from forgetting my “good” running shoes at work, is my price for this weekend, along with a blister on my hand for forgoing the leaf blower to burn a few calories by sweeping the deck by hand. These are my badges of honor for the weekend, and in all irony, the blisters testify to the refreshment I received in the process of voluntary toil.

I hope your weekend was relaxing and replenishing, too, dear reader.

Thanks, God, for hard runs and soft waves, for sharp shells and gentle winds, for blisters and brackish breaths, and for creative neighbors and goosey geese. Okay, well, scratch that last one. Thanks for an awesome weekend.

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Go ahead, admit it. You at one time have inflicted some sort of harm upon a hapless insect or other ruinous species of the animal kingdom, and derived pleasure out of it. From finally terminating that overexuberant house fly who keeps trying to land on the bbq and potato salad after putting you through tremendous upper body workouts, to more elaborate schemes to control pests à la Prestone Pot Roast (and you know who you are…yes, you do, my dear friend – your secret is mine), it is probably safe to say man has been forced to have dominion over the animals. For safety and for sanity.

And don’t even try to tell me there is merit in those termites chomping through your walls, and that hibernating bats are somehow good for the greater ecosystem up in my attic.

Here we vie for space with fire ants, not so graciously brought to the South by a commercial ship from South America in the 1930s. Thanks, bunches. Turns out they rather enjoy our climate and sandy soil, and, like us, have set up shop and called it home. They especially like to build giant mounds at the bases of shrubs, or the more passive-aggressive types aim for a spot smack-dab in the middle of your nice lawn or golf course, for added landscaping effect.

There are all sorts of ways to manage these pests, but my favorite thing to do is to get them really mad before we do them in. They are great fun to watch when you disturb their mound, scurrying to and fro, trying to decide if they should drop the big, white glop they were in the middle of delivering somewhere, and come sting you. These suckers communicate, too. They can climb clear up a leg without biting, then one of them sounds some kind of inaudible command, and they sting in unison. Teamwork!

So I send my team of bug explorers out to get them all riled up before we spray them dead or hose them out. With all the fervor of Bill Murray offing the gophers in Caddyshack, my crew gets right to work:

King of the Hill!

Why he continues to stand so close likely has to do with his lack of experience with how quickly these pests can boogie. They actively seek to protect by harming intruders, and they are hypervigilant. This child standing mere inches away is as inconspicuous to the ants as that dude was to the rest of us shoppers in the express checkout line at the warehouse club, purchasing an industrial-sized box of condoms. Both are being curiously eyed by incredulous onlookers. Both flirt with some level of impending doom for their zealous enthusiasm for getting too close, too often. Somebody’s about to get slapped, then dumped for a more appropriate playmate.

Learn from his youthful errors, which he is about to permanently correct via experience: Vertical holes cause less damage and require more work than horizontal attacks, thereby increasing one’s time frame of risk. Flip flops within biting distance. And, not captured above was the move he ceremoniously made when he removed the stick quickly and waved it like a victory flag, catapulting dirt and ants airborne and triggering the rest of us to hastily evacuate the radius while scolding him soundly, then checking heads and clothing for any gravity-prone offenders. For our three year old, this is better than Montessori!

Here comes his older brother who learned all about fun with fire ants before he was two, and, shortly thereafter, made his first trip to the ER, covered in bites from the hips down. It was pure hell seeing him across the yard by a post-hurricane anthill (when they are most aggressive), hearing his cries and not being able to get to him faster than the ants could. It was like a slow-motion sprint, a lost race. And it took mere seconds for him to toddle over there and sit down in the absolutely worst spot in the yard at the moment. But I digress…

Expert Ant-Upsetter

Now 8, this child has mastered the art of ant harassment. Behold the longer dagger. Sturdy shoes AND socks. Horizontal attack, pointing away.  Knees slightly bent, feet shoulder-width apart, firm grip. Apparently he got something out of the jousting field trip he attended earlier this month. And he is bold enough to conduct the attack while still in his school uniform. Makes his mama proud, he does! A real warrior. Now, if I could just get him to make his bed with equal diligence…

In other news, a humble thank you to Shoes On The Wrong Feet for bestowing upon me the One Lovely Blogger award. I am more than honored to accept it, and blessed to provide that “unexplained sense of coming home” on this blog to this dear Seattle reader, and all others.

And a special welcome home to Cecilia and Her Sisters, who was inspired to take my  invitation to “hit the beach!” quite literally, and moved the whole family to the beach of their dreams. Because, you know, life IS so terribly short, so why not make a vacation out of life itself, live your dream and insert yourself directly into it?

Welcome home, y’all! Now grab a stick, gloves and some spray, and help me get a handle on these beasts out in the yard…then we’ll have some sweet tea on the front porch, deeply inhale the sea-laden air in between sips and relish our victory in reclaiming our home from these tiny ant-agonists.

Coming soon: Today’s awesome 10K + cooling down on the 2-mile fun run (hurts so good, baby!) with a down-home weekend festival, the Great Potty Crisis at the Special Olympics, alligator bites (tastes like chicken! really!), the National Junior Dishonor Society ceremony and What Happens When You Swallow a Battery.

Thanks, God, for fire ants, blogging friends and for WordPress for this platform to spew myself and my little piece of life into the universe.

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Today a local radio station will sign off for the last time, playing the same song for its adieu as it played for its début. (Bob Dylan with a local twist, if you’re curious). The station was purchased by a satellite radio company, and it will go off the air at midnight and begin broadcasting as a Christian radio station.

As I Christian, I am supposed to be happy with this, even though it had everything to do with money.

As a local, I am grieving, even though I wasn’t a regular listener.

First thing in the morning, several people will be out of jobs. A hometown broadcasting lineup and routine will be absent from our local culture. Purchased in 1959, this station and the people associated it will now be dispersed and disassociated from each other, from the population they worked so hard to please for over 50 years, and all of us will be disconnected with what has been a comfortable part of our reality.

There will be no more requests, no birthday cake giveaways, no support of local charities and annual events, no live hurricane coverage like we had during Katrina and other storms, no inside jokes about our area, no commercials and PSAs for things that really hit home. No one to answer the phone downtown, no one to give you a freebie at the county fair, no one to feel motivated for to slap a bumper sticker on the back of your F-150 in case you’re spotted and might win a prize. The familiar voices will fade into the static of the unsettling unknown.

Tonight it dies, as quietly and mysteriously as a chopper went down in murky waters last night and lives were lost.

And somewhere on the globe, a stranger will push buttons and dictate what we, here, listen to.

And life will go on, just not as we know it. It’ll be a little more impersonal, and we’re supposed to be okay with that.

Adjust, damn it, or be Left Behind.

It was heartwarming today to see and hear the rest of the local media outlets, both television and radio, devoting significant time to pay tribute to this casualty and its employees and listeners. This tells me that perhaps no one feels secure anymore, and moreover, that no one likes to see a half a century of quality broadcasting lost to someone with more money, more power. Or did they just get tired and give up the ghost? Or, like the elderly ladies at church who shun nursery duty, have the attitude that “I put in my time, I’m tired. It’s my time to coast. Let the young ‘uns take over.”

Aren’t we all vulnerable?

Ironically on the same lines, between this Friday and next Monday, our bank will be swallowed up by a non-local entity, a financial giant, a sheer Yankee impostor who knows us not, nor our local financial needs (and thanks, Yanks, for choosing around the 1st of the month when most bills are due, to pull this off). Many of us are scrambling to change routing numbers affecting automatic electronic transactions and other “conveniences” so as not to have any disruptions. Thank the Lord I read the fine print on the checks which said to stop using old ones on that date and start using new ones on this date. Like we write a lot of checks anymore, anyway.

This is our third time seeing a change, and there are very few bigger fish up the food chain to swallow us up.

Where will it end?

The last time I drove cross-country, I noticed with dismay that most towns had the same hotels, McRestaurants and stereotypical visitor sites. We really had to work hard to find the places, joints and dives that define a local culture. It was no fun anymore, not a mind-expanding, culturally educational experience. Someone posted the other day a sped-up video of the very interstate I live near, except 4 states away…I could tell no difference between the spot his camera perched on his office desk, and the same roadway near my office desk, 750 miles away.

We’ve been whitewashed and bleached, and shame on us for all the blonde jokes which now apply to us for allowing the melting pot to actually melt.

Tire not in the pursuit of tradition.

Rest in peace, local, small businesses. And God help us all.

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This is what happens a couple of days after a birthday in a family in which each member covets corner pieces:

Birthday Dregs

You know which pieces will go next. The “Birthday” shall ultimately stand alone…and will be destined to become the Polite Piece which the Frosting Freaks will benevolently purport they are foregoing out of courtesy to others. And then it will go dry in the fridge until it quietly disappears on the next trash day…

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Carl Jung, the father of analytic psychology, thunk up the notions of introversion and extraversion, among other things. Most people commonly associate the terms with the contrast between being shy versus being a social butterfly. However, the terms actually refer to how people recharge and get their energy, in my understanding. Extroverts draw energy from being around and interacting with others, while introverts feel and do best when alone.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (a personality test, of sorts), concocted by an astute mother-daughter team and based on Jung’s work, helps the test-taker determine what sort of person they are using four personality polarities, one of which is the introversion/extraversion scale. A psychological horoscope, if you will. Like most of psychology, it is a way to find fancy titles for characteristics about yourself that you already kinda sorta knew anyway, just like a juicy-sounding diagnosis brings pseudo-relief to the afflicted simply by validating their internal experience with a formal external label. “Oh, is THAT what it is?!”

The emperor has new clothes!

I have long teetered between being an introvert and an extrovert. I fluctuate and fluidly morph between the two. This has confounded me to no end. I want to know which I am, and I don’t seem to be able to nail myself down. And yet most of the time, I can tell which I am. I have somewhat of a bimodal cycle: over the long term, I can see eras of my life in which I was more introverted or more extroverted. And within those cycles, I can identify days in which I was one or the other, within the context of the overall trend.

A recent interview I heard with Chris Martin reminded me of this…he was talking about how he balances fame and self-awareness; he said he stands on the outside trying to get in by flaunting his fame, “Look at me, I’m famous, let me in!” Then he gets in, and about ten minutes into his flaunting and attention-seeking, he says something he realizes makes him look and feel like an idiot, and, shamed and humbled, he slinks back to his rightfully humble place in his mind.

This struck a chord with my teetering (which I suppose we all do – it is how we balance ourselves between any two extremes). I will sink my teeth into a goal like a dog with a bone, and I savor each and every moment, living it to the fullest. I do not quit. I am out there for the world to see, and proud of it. Determined. Driven. Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead. Then after some time, something will happen to slow me in my tracks. I am going so fast, so focused forward, that it often takes me a bit to perceive the interruption, a bit more to acknowledge it, even more of a bit to comprehend it. I may even slow down and turn around temporarily, humoring it long enough to shut it up so I can proceed ahead again. I love the brink, after all. Adrenaline’s curse. But eventually it sinks in, and I, like Mr. Martin, am forced to assess my direction and slink back to my rightful place in ho-hum moderation.

Don’t get me wrong; ho-hum moderation is a good place to be. I just have to work harder to convince myself that I can stifle my penchant for the higher levels of stimulation I crave. And force myself to remain buckled in with my seatback in the upright position and the tray secured. It is really hard, really really hard, to discipline myself as such, when I believe in my heart that it is far more interesting to roam about the cabin and experience every bump of turbulence while simultaneously in perpetual motion. You get more effect that way. And perspective. You get to see out of many windows instead of just a couple. Taming the tiger in an adventure-seeker is no small task.

Then again…perpetual motion prevents us from seeing the slow-and-steady, which purports to win the race.

Balancing the opposing extremes is a delicate process, after all – and certainly not for the faint at heart. No, those who squarely know which side of the fence they’re on, rarely teeter. They find safety in their identity as clearly one or the other. They are either this or that in their personality, wont to change over. Sweet or salty. Indoors or outdoors. Hot or cold. Overly controlled or lack of control. Pre-dishwasher rinsers or throw-em-in-filthy. Ginger or Mary Ann. Spender or saver. Tastes great or less filling.

Once upon a time I took to the stage to express myself. Like my stagemates, most of us worked best solo. With each season and each composition, it was almost like a classic group therapy experience:

Stage 1: Getting acquainted: Everyone was thrilled to be working with each other. Everyone said nice things about everyone. Everyone’s ideas were great. It was going to be the best show ever.

Stage 2: Transition: After the niceties and rolling up of sleeves, then came the clash of ideas. Everyone wanted their vision of the final production to be realized, and began to get edgy and snippy when having to accommodate others’ ideas. Too many introverts who like to show off and remain private, thrown into a closed room for too many hours. Battles ensued. Tears flowed. Tempers flared. Assorted footwear angrily removed and violently hurled across the stage. It was bad luck of somebody didn’t go stomping off stage in a dramatic display of defiance. Hours were spent, but not wasted. It was necessary gnashing of teeth. It almost had to happen, to be gotten out of the way to give way to productivity.

Stage 3: Work phase: Everyone had seen each other at their worst and each had been nonverbally assigned a role in the family (e.g. mover/shaker, scapegoat, placator, intellectualizer, devils advocate, wet blanket, natural leader, etc.). Finally the work could begin, take place and get done. Then it was refined, and refined some more. Bonding happened. Give and take, gave and took. Everyone began to get pumped by seeing the possibilities and realizing them. Things came together. The energy gelled. The ugly turned beautiful, beyond everyone’s wildest imaginations, surprising even the most optimistic.

Stage 4: Wrapping it up: The performances. The joy of doing well, and all sharing in how good it was. The joy of making a mistake, knowing the audience missed it, and being able to laugh about it together. The pinnacle high of a job well done. The curtain call and applause making it all real.

My favorite part was being able to be an introvert in an extroverted role. Very much on display, yet encapsulated in my own world, shielded from the eyes of others by the glare of the stage lights. For all I knew, all that darkness in the theatre with only the exit light glowing in the way-back, was the same darkness I’d rehearsed to so many times before, whether with my stagemates, or alone, like going into a church to pray alone at an odd time, and having the whole place to yourself. Thanks to the blinding lights and deafening sound, the filled house was no different from the countless times I couldn’t sleep and went to rehearse alone in the silent dead of night. Thank the Lord for some forms of sensory deprivation. I might have been embarrassed and self-conscious if I had been fully aware of the audience.

Later, in broadcasting briefly, I enjoyed the same dichotomy of on-display anonymity. And now, ditto for blogging. You subscribers give me the willies. In a good way 🙂 I cannot see you, I will not know you, and vice versa, except through the safety and security of what I choose to share. You remain out there in the dark balcony seating, but I can do what I do best in the comfort and privacy of my inner being. The introverted extrovert who, no matter who acknowledged what I had done “privately” in the public, had the privilege of keeping a piece of my introverted heart to myself. Carefully letting others know me as I wished for them to know me, yet guarding my inner reality. No one could ever know that, no matter how bright the lights.

No one can ever penetrate the deepest of depths. Not even ourselves, really.

Perhaps I’ve answered my own question…I sound like an introvert. But stay tuned…this is prone to change. I am told that according to careers and personality types, I am supposed to be an outgoing extrovert, hands-down, no questions asked. I scoff at that notion. Rather, I find myself having a greater understanding for those I help: the bipolar who struggles for balance. The schizophrenic trying to reconcile one reality with another. The traumatized who is driven to trust but cannot. And any of them who find themselves at the tip of a double-edged sword who are haunted by one extreme, yet cannot do some of their most remarkable work without being at that extreme.

There is genius in walking the non-normative ledge. Innovations always come from risk. And innovative people and those on the fringes of the bell-shaped curve are never fully understood or respected by the masses inside the safety of the “normal” curve. Am I such a nut for the exhilaration I experience, running long and hard in diagonally-pelting rain, when my best ideas are generated in those moments, and life’s problems seem entirely solvable? Perhaps one must be a bit unstable themselves to help the unstable. There is value in understanding and appreciating the need – nay, the drive – to scribble outside the lines of life.

One day when I have all the time and money in the world, I hope to submit myself to advanced training (which basically amounts to selling your soul, investing what will be your last dime 30 years from now and  sequestering oneself for several years, cut off from income and subjected to selective human contact – otherwise known as pursuing a doctorate). (You have to be cut off from the norm to think on the edge, eh?). Then I hope to be qualified to masterfully and expertly analyze what is and what is not…the conscious and the unconscious, the real and the surreal. And, like all good psychology students, figure themselves out and put an end to the question of whether I am truly and introvert or an extrovert. This will determine whether I become a well-adjusted, smiling, actively aging person like in an ad for assisted living, or whether I become a well-adjusted, scowling, opinionated curmudgeon. I see the value and worth in both, and I can see myself perfectly happy in either role, justifying either based on the positive and negative experiences I have had throughout life. Aging is, after all, finding a healthy balance between change and stability, risk and security.

There is risk in investing in the mirage of security, and safety in taking calculated risks.

Well, how about both? Who says I can’t be a well-adjusted, opinionated, smiling, active curmudgeon? Maybe God made me that way on purpose. Perhaps there’s merit in straddling the line between extremes. Teetering means constant change, and change keeps us young at heart. Somebody’s got to make it look fun and exciting to be introverted, to the extroverted crowd. And just maybe I can better understand how and why God made people very much on purpose, precisely the way He made them…inside or outside the curve, or squarely in one camp or the other…or flitting between the two.

Vive la difference!

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Pie on the Porch

Welcome, friend…and happy Thanksgiving to those in the U.S.

Thanksgiving at the beach is delightful. It was sunny and warm both indoors and out.

You know what the beach looks like, and you know what Thanksgiving fixins look like. So instead I will share other scenes from heeyah today:

At approximately 18,000 pounds each, these cotton modules are worth about $17K apiece.

Our equine neighbors were enjoying their Thanksgiving, too.

Down here, camellias are now in full bloom and their bright, colorful flowers will carry us through the winter..


As we were clearing our plates, it dawned on us that we should have dined al fresco today. So instead we had pie on the porch.


Our pet gecko had a happy Thanksgiving after we spotted the grasshopper behind the azalea bloom...can you?


We planted pineapple tops on a whim this summer...and they are taking off! Who knows if they'll actually yield fruit, but they love the sandy soil.


A seasonal stoplight, the Japanese Maple is green in the spring and summer, yellow in autumn, then red in time for the holidays.


Our family tradition is to walk it all off down on the pier every Thanksgiving sunset. Arriving a bit early, the sun illuminates the bubbly fountain.


At ease, sailor...


We hope someday to meet Chloe & Isabelle; they loved their Yaya & Gpa...and we'd like to ask them what they meant about the elevators...


An uprooted tree still left over from Katrina reminds us of the things we're all thankful for today. How quickly we forget....


Yo, dude, check out that dark-haired chick right under ya...she's busy texting and just outta my range!


Last check on the crab traps near the Loch Ness Log


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I came whizzing up to the air pump to inflate my tires, hopped out and removed the first cap. Before I knelt down to check the pressure, the aging man using the hose opposite me, gestured the hose upward to offer it to me. I saw that he wasn’t finished, so I thanked him and told him I’d wait.

When he brought the hose over to me, he offered to help. I graciously consented, and the customary Southern chitchat began. The weather. The children in the car. Who’s your people. What you do. The patch on his uniform said “Henry;” he saw me looking, and volunteered, “They call me Buddy.”

He took a cap out of my palm after he finished each tire. “You’ve got such tiny hands,” he observed. As I laughed, he abruptly changed the subject, perhaps fearing he may have edged a little too close to being personal. “Do you have anything against Vietnam Vets?” he quietly asked.

“No,” I answered, looking him in the eye. “Only deep gratitude for your service and for my freedom.”

His eyes teared slightly as he told me about how painful his reception was when he came home. He described some of the horrors he endured where he served up in the Delta, then landing on American soil and having a protester urinate on him as he walked off the plane and across the tarmac, amid the abusive epithets. Then came the year in the hospital. And the years of disability. And the broken families and the broken lives and the broken hearts.

And his broken spirit.

“I’ve probably said too much,” he said, screwing the cap on the last tire.

“Not at all,” I assured him. I told him how important his story is, and how it needs to be heard. I thanked him for sharing, and again for his service, and how sad I was that American patriotism has, in many ways, gone up in smoke…how sad that a vet should even have to cautiously ask if a citizen has anything against him or his duty. How I question why we don’t do more to care for our vets.

How I hope Buddy knows how much he is loved and appreciated.

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