Archive for the ‘Homelife’ Category

“A hawk!,” I thought.

January 3, 2011

It was the second day of the new year. Watching a football game at dusk, I noticed a large bird fly into a tree at the back edge of our yard. “A hawk!,” I thought.

Running upstairs, I got a much better look. What I saw didn’t resemble a hawk’s profile. The top of our china cabinet always holds a pair of 12 power binoculars. Taking a closer look, an owl!

We grabbed the new camera, a Christmas present from me to her, and attempted to catch a picture. The flash fired. Glare off the glass. How could I turn that off? A moment’s fiddling got it turned off.

On our lower level is a door to the patio. A good shot from that vantage point looked like a real possibility.

Walking out the door … luckily the motion detector didn’t kick on the flood lights … I was able to keep a tree trunk between me and that lovely bird.

I peered around the tree and squeezed off a picture. Zoomed in at 10x should give a nice look. The camera gives off a soft beep, just enough to attract the full and undivided attention of the owl.

A cup of coffee has much appeal

December 19, 2010

Noticing the front doors of homes along my running route has become part of my routine. The variety of colors is more than one would expect, some subdued, most tasteful, an occasional one – shocking. One of the homes, a house with a very steep roof built for a snowy winter somewhere else, had a purple door which looked surprisingly good with the off-white brick and dark brown shingles.

Today, I saw a door so yellow that one couldn’t help but look at it. I mean really, really yellow … YELLOW!! An arrow-shaped neon sign at the curb would have added nothing to the visibility of that entryway. For a few steps along the sidewalk, I wondered if they knew that the store will mix a color for you; that it isn’t necessary to buy the color off the shelf. But maybe they like it.

As I ran along, I recalled a door I saw during a run a couple of years ago. When I got home I said, “There is a door on a house in a neighboring subdivision that is the same color as the doors up at the cabin. It really looks good.”

“Yeah, I know, I’ve seen it. That’s the same color as our front door.”

“And it really looks great! I love that color more and more every time I see it.” (That’s the color of our front door? How long has it been that color?)


I’m trying to establish some regularity to my aerobic exercising, paying more attention to time and making a commitment to head out the door around 8:00 a.m. Prison days, Monday and Thursday, are out since I leave too early. Afternoon or early evening running has never been my thing. Cross-training days, Tuesday and Saturday, are out. That leaves Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings.

On the downside, it takes little to keep me in the warm confines of my living room. Oh, it seems too windy, too cold, a threat of rain, too many icy patches, and a cup of coffee while looking out the window has much appeal.

A manifestation of God’s grace

December 7, 2010

What am I to make of a sudden feeling of well-being, contentment? I am most aware that the feeling can’t be summoned … at least I’m not able to do so. But the very palpable sensation comes out of nowhere. Perhaps it is simply a manifestation of God’s grace. In any event, I like it, and it costs little.

Last evening I went out into the country to meet with the consultors (parish council) at a small Catholic parish. Eleven years ago I worked with the same faith community in their development of a strategic long-range plan. They seem to be ready to begin the conversation about what a next phase might look like.

I brought along some excerpts of my notes from those earlier sessions. Attendance and participation at those five sessions during the first quarter of 2000 were terrific and led to the dedication of some new classrooms and a parish community center in late 2007.

My recommendation is to reconvene and cover much of the same ground in the first quarter of 2011. Much has changed with a different group of students in the school, many new parishioners, changing demographics of the county, and the current economy. Expectations of all concerned need to be voiced as well as heard. With a little success under their belt, the future may seem more clear.

We’ll take a “today” look at the mission of the planning group, revisit the values held by the faith community, and re-articulate the “desired state” or vision for the parish, parishioners, church, and school. The group will explore to what extent Phase I moved toward the vision, and determine the logical next steps.

Frankly, I can’t wait to get started with such a wonderful faith-filled group accompanied by their very energetic and committed pastor. A fringe benefit is the peaceful 1-hour drive out to that little church on the hill.

Here at home our new driveway turned out pretty well. In a few weeks we’ll finish updating our windows. When it gets cold at night, we may even be able to leave the drapes open, sudden temperature changes won’t fog up the dining room and living room windows, ice won’t form leaving puddles on the sill.

All the other windows … twenty plus four glass door panels … have been replaced over the past several years. Doing it in phases hasn’t saved any money, but the psychological impact of an all-in-one sticker shock was nice to avoid.

Visiting the men in prison takes on a marked shift in tone as Christmas approaches. The isolation and loneliness are mentioned more often. There is talk about sending cards, making charitable contributions, remembering the holidays as a child. Listening is the best I can do, and emotions flow freely when a chaplain is at the door. It is a time when one lowers facades a little.

New driveway to begin

November 12, 2010

Finally beginning our driveway replacement. I should take a before and after picture, or a video.

Our contribution to the jobs situation!

There is a lot of loud talking

October 26, 2010

A very interesting day so far. Awakened in the middle of the night as a very sharp and abrupt storm moved through. According to the news, the storm is 800 miles long and gaining strength. Not going to be good for many people as it moves east.

Took some time to get some exercise while listening to the Diane Rehm Show, a discussion of the Wikileaks’ latest document dump. The documents reveal nothing more than many of us suspected. If the war was legitimate, well-planned, and guided by wise and informed people, I’d be shocked at what the documents show. But what has been going on over there is what one gets when arrogant fools decide to spread democracy where it isn’t wanted. If you think the insurgency in Iraq is ugly, picture someone moving in an occupying us with their brand of how to live correctly.

Later in the morning was my preparation of a Cuban dish to be served over rice: picadillo. We’ll see how it goes. First tasting hopes that it ages well by dinner time. While doing the cooking, Sirius Radio’s “Symphony Hall” was proving to be an apt replacement for Classic 99, a radio station owned and operated by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and sold, after many years, to an outfit playing contemporary Christian music. We are now left with no local station playing classical music unless you can receive an HD signal.

Caught a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh … more than enough, actually. I’ve noticed from his program, Glenn Beck’s, and the folks on the Patriot channel on Sirius, that there is a lot of loud talking and sometimes screaming. Let me say that talking louder and louder doesn’t create a credible message.

How may ways can the extreme right twist things around to conceal their complete and paralyzing disgust that there is “one of them” living on the second floor of the White House. But, my God, am I glad Obama won. It’s as though people forgot there wasn’t a viable alternative. Write your own scenario for what this country would look like had the pair of mavericks  won.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve voted for Republicans many, many times and had a subscription to the National Review for years. But that party is gone and the beliefs that went with it. That old party was interesting in governing on behalf of the American people. The current incarnation stands for little that the country needs to be successful in today’s world.)

We can only do what we can do

September 19, 2010

A rainy, dreary day – a Sunday – and a good day for watching football. But if the grass dries out a bit, I’ll be out there grudgingly pushing a mower as my TV chair beckons. Purring in the background will be the washing machine.

Also on my mind, and adding to the dreariness, our state has a man awaiting execution on October 20. My thoughts are with him every day. Our last execution was May 20, 2009.

He and I began talking on a regular basis nearly five years ago. Those five years for him  have been spent in solitary confinement. While I’ve never been alone in a cell 24/7, I do believe visits at the cell door would be most welcome. I can only hope my visits were welcome to him. They seemed to be.

If his execution is stayed, I will resume seeing him as often as I am able. In the meantime, a combination of institutional policy and my availability has prevented my spending any time with him in his current environment and pre-execution status. It’s frustrating, but we can only do what we can do.

Whether or not I ever see him again is beyond my control. We shall see.