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Driving to Asheville

Driving to Asheville

August 2008 I-40, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

Day 23 - Breathing a Heavy Sigh of Relief for [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi and Family

As we were watching the coverage of Hurricane Ike bearing down on the Texas border with the Gulf of Mexico Friday night Bonn turned to me and asked "[[livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi and wife] don't live down there, do they?"

"No," I dismissed casually. "They live up in the northern part of the state."

Saturday morning, as Ike was steadily making a destructive path into the state I started getting the nagging thought that maybe that wasn't so right after all. The newscasters kept saying "Houston... Houston... Houston" and it seemed to me that I'd read [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi write Houston in one of his letters to me.

Finally I'd had enough and went to The Google to look it up.

Take a plumb bob and hang it straight down from Houston on the map and a ways up from the coastline is where [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi and his family live. [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi's elderly parent's recently moved down there as well, making the situation even worse.

I left voicemail and sent email, smacking myself upside the head with guilt with every word and keystroke. Not that there was much I could have done, but still...


[livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi called me at work this morning. All's well with all of them. He and his father evacuated to one locale, his wife and their daughter to another place and his mother was moved out with other nursing home residents to a third location. They've received word that their house is in good shape. Gas has been restored, but not electricity. Thanks to the odd, jerky path Ike took, their region was spared the worst of things. [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi hopes to be able to move back in on Wednesday.

I called Bonn right away to give her the good news.

In true [livejournal.com profile] sakkijarvi fashion, he told me he was looking forward to getting back home as well as looking forward to reading the rest of my 30 Days of Gratitude series. "You stopped at Day 22, so you have eight more to go," he happily reminded me.


Make that seven, now.

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Jim Gloating Over His Decisive Fjords Victory

Jim Gloating Over His Decisive Fjords Victory

June 2008 Chapel Hill, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

Day 22 - Games

"The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of
play"
-- James Tiberius Kirk (
from the Start Trek episode Shore Leave)

Back in April I posted an entry (copied from a Geeklist I created as an introduction over at BoardGameGeek) that followed the role that board games have played in my life. It was a fun list for me to write up. The list and the games brought back a lot of very good memories and helped to underscore how much I really do love playing games with people.

Games, for me, are a way of relaxing, of challenging my mind, of working out creative solutions to problems and sharing an enjoyable time with friends. What's not to be grateful for in any of that?

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Boone Thai Light

Boone Thai Light

August 2008 Blowing Rock, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Day 21 - Patience

“Patience is not passive; on the contrary, it is active; it is concentrated strength”
-- Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton


I don't recall seeking patience, nor do I recall actively working to develop patience. Still, I seem to have a pretty good share of it from what I'm told.

My patience gets mentioned several times during each show we do. One of the things I make are handmade chains, intricate weavings of sterling and gold-filled wire links that I've also wound and cut out one at a time. People are usually very impressed with the chains and Bonn is quick to point out how much time each one takes to make and how she doesn't have the patience to make them.

The chainmail (ManKnitting) is along the same lines. It's all just a pattern built one link at a time. I suppose if I'd known how much time I was going to put into making these things I may not have bothered. Still, with the chains at the shows they're really more of a gimmick to me -- we need something that separates us from the other jewelers, something that makes us unique and demonstrates boldly how all of our pieces are handmade by us.

That I can be seen making chains at many of our shows isn't 'showing off.' It's that most of my time at shows is spent waiting for the show to end and I need something to do to keep myself busy. (Reading a book is, to me, somewhat rude. At least I always felt that way when I saw artists reading in their booths when I was going to arts & crafts shows)

More on this can be found by clicking on through to the other side... )

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Blowing Rock Civil Defense Tower 2

Blowing Rock Civil Defense Tower 2

August 2008 Blowing Rock, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 20

Day 20 - Forgiveness

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
-- Catherine Ponder


“There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”
-- Bryant H. McGill


In late April someone celebrating his 21st birthday went out drinking. He had way too much and then climbed into his car and, on his way home, struck and killed a 60 year old woman who was riding her bike. The young man should be heading to jail for the next two decades of his life but he has an advocate for leniency in the woman's husband. The husband feels the young man would do more good working with Mothers Against Drunk Driving going around to schools and talking to kids about what he did and how it has impacted and changed his life.

Today the judge in the case sentenced the driver to 400 hours of community service including 100 visits to schools, citing the woman's husband as the driver's "biggest advocate for leniency."

A bit more is just a click on through to the other side away... )

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Hader Bear in the Sun

Hader Bear in the Sun

(Also my Mac HD's icon)

2007 Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 19

Day 19 - Bear and Ethel's Crab Shack

I don't for one moment think this will make complete sense to anyone other than Bonn and me, but there you go. Some things are just like that.

Feel free to just nod and continue down your f-list or click on through to the other side. )

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Maggie Sleeping

Maggie Sleeping

July 2008 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 18

Day 18 - Rest

I consider it a valuable talent to be able to take a nap just about anywhere at just about any time. Bonn doesn't understand how I can do this, especially at shows or at other public events. Me, I just close my eyes, get my body positioned in a reasonably comfortable and stable position and I allow my mind to drift off.

There are, of course, other types of rest, and being a Type B personality type I'm happily aquatinted with many of them. The Long Sleep, the Don't Wake Up Until Eleven A.M., the Lay on the Couch Reading While Drifting In and Out of Sleep... they're all old and dear friends of mine.


"I love a good nap. Sometimes it's the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning."
-- George Costanza (from
Seinfeld)*


This past weekend was our first show in several months. It was up in the mountains of North Carolina one town over from a major state university that was having it's Move In Weekend for students the same day. As a result, we couldn't find an affordable hotel in the area so we drove the extra two hours to our daughter and her fiancé's house in Asheville and stayed there. After the show, instead of driving home, we drove back to Asheville and stayed with them for another day.

They are neck-deep in a major renovation project of the entire first floor of a 1920s two-story home. The kitchen was the first to be torn out ("We can rebuilt [it]... make [it[ stronger, faster...") and is coming back together very nicely. They were in Renovation Mode and I just sat back and rode the renovation waves, happy to listen and offer my opinion when asked but equally happy that I wasn't caught up and involved in the project to their extent. There's nothing like a huge home improvement project to get in the way of rest.


________________________________
* This should not be misconstrued to identify me as a Seinfeld fan. In fact, I'm not. I just really identified with this quote.


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Fountain Abby

Fountain Abby

December 2007 England -- In the Company of [livejournal.com profile] nalsa

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 17

Day 17 - Miracles

If you see the world as a Skeptic, a Realist, a Scientific Evidence and Logical Thinking viewpoint there are only, at best, coincidences. Sometimes they are quite the coincidence, but that's all they are, just an "alignment of two or more events or circumstances without obvious causal connection." Perhaps, at best, with one breath, with one flow, those causally unrelated events might be seen as occuring in a meaningful manner.

If you see the world as a realm where The Earthly intersects with The Spiritual on a continual basis, where forces outside of our understanding interact with our lives, often when we most need it and sometimes when we least expect it, these same instances can be seen as Miracles.

More can be found by clicking on through to the other side... )

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Tulip Stamen

Tulip Stamen

February 2008 Near Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

Day 16 - Things Received from Doing Shows

As we head down our street driving out to do whichever show we're heading to, we always say a prayer. We ask that God watch over our family, the house and the cats while we're going, that He help us to meet our financial needs through the show, that we can help spread some light into the world and that we have a safe journey there and back.

Bonn always includes the statement "Thank you for the opportunity to do this show."

Now, part of me really wishes I felt this way. In all honesty, though, I hate doing shows. If I could find a way for us to have Bonn's art bring in an income without ever having to do a show again I'd work to make that happen in a heartbeat.

Instead, take today for example (by clicking on through to the other side...)  )

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My Car

My Car

July 2008 Chapel Thrill, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

Day 15 - Visiting

It's wonderful to visit with friends. Being a part of someone's life for even just a weekend is a great way to reconnect and share life.

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Rich Hendel, Book Designer

Rich Hendel, Book Designer

August 2008 Chapel Thrill, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

Day 14 -- Expressing Gratitude

Five years ago or so my friend and coworker The Handler was in the hospital recovering from chest surgery. He'd developed this sudden and annoying habit of passing out from time to time. After several months of doctors visits, hospital stays and a maddening array of tests it was finally concluded that the membrane that surrounds and protects the heart had hardened and was constricting his heart. The only solution was to crack open his chest and remove the membrane.

Standing from the outside looking in I felt he was going to be fine. The procedure is routinely done on anyone having any kind of heart surgery and would be performed by surgeons, nurses and other support staff who knew what they were doing. Since the Handler was the one going under the knife, however, he took the surgery more seriously. Laying in the hospital bed a few days after the operation he told me that he had asked to speak to each member of his family individually, giving them each detailed instructions on what he wanted them to do in case he didn't make it off of the table.

"But you know what makes me angry?" he asked me. "I never told them that I loved them."

For more,click on through to the other side... )

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Making Chainmail Links

Making Chainmail Links

February 2008 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13

Day 13 -- Hands

As tonight starts several days of Banglemania!™ in preparation for this weekend -- the first of three shows over a five or six week period -- I thought an appreciation for my primary tools in being able to make bangles should be in order.

Back in the late 70s I was on a retreat with the encounter-ish group that I was in. One of the exercises that weekend was to take each person, one at a time, and have them stand before the group. The group was then to write about that person -- impressions, questions, thoughts, things they liked about the person, how the person made them feel, etc. If you wanted to, you could go up to the person and touch them.

One guy, a slightly more redneckish kid, came up to me and picked up one of my hands. He ran his fingers over the palm of my hand, checked my other hand and sat back down.

I searched out his comments once they were handed out. "Obviously you don't work with your hands" he had written.

I've thought about that comment a lot in the past many years. When Bonn started getting back into making jewelry she suckered talked me into making jewelry with her, claiming that because I could do origami, I could make jewelry. I experimented with some wire pieces (utter crap, I assure you) and after some time, settled into the bread & butter world of Banglemania!™, the making of wire bangles.

As a result, my hands are usually pretty beat up. The pliers I use leave their marks on the palms of my hands and the various gouges and scrapes across my fingers and the backs of my hands attest to my occasional slipping while going for the proper tension. I'm not saying my hands look like a bricklayers or a street fighter, but if that same guy were to look at my hands today he'd likely leave with a different impression.

I'm grateful my hands are as strong as they are, that they are still able to do what I ask of them without too much complaint. The arthritis that struck my grandparents' hands has made occasional appearances, but nothing too bad thus far. I'm even able to punish my hands by doing chainmail work from time to time, although that's had to slow down considerably after my wrists and elbow started developing reoccurring pains if I worked with the pliers to form the chainmail pattern for too many evenings in a row.

And, speaking of which:

Manknitting Update*: The back and front are roughly done. I'm working on the yoke now. Slowly. Just take this picture and multiply it by two and you'll have an idea of where I am with the project

_______________________________________
* Largely for Ed, who asked about it in a comment a few weeks ago and I haven't been able to put together a proper ManKnitting update entry. Sorry, Ed!

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Trees (Psychedelic)

Trees (Psychedelic)

March 2008, I-40, Raleighwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

Day 12 - Wonder

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and all science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed."
-- Albert Einstein


To wonder is to leave behind your understanding of the world as it is, is to forget what we consider to be possible and what we consider to be impossible. Wonder is to see something, anything, as an entirely New Thing.

As I've grown older wonder often tends to be harder and harder to come by. My mind gets easily preoccupied with the needs and events and problems of the day and in that crowded, concerned environment it's often hard to let something as revolutionary as wonder creep in.

And yet, the thing is, it does.

I'm a sucker for getting wonderstruck by mechanical tools and puzzles and anyone doing a complicated task in an almost effortless way. I'll stop cold for things like that, wandering over with my head cocked slightly to the side, trying to understand what's happening and, more importantly how that thing is happening.

(This can sometimes be an annoying habit, as Bonn has learned over the years. We'll be walking along together and then suddenly we're not. She's still walking and I'm completely absorbed by whatever New Thing has captivated my attention)

One of the best thing about working with kids when I was an elementary school librarian was to be able to work around kids who still had pretty good amounts of wonder with them. They were also open to new ideas, learning new things. As a librarian I was able to give them the tools to explore those things that they were interested in and nurture that sense of exploration and discovery. That was always a great feeling.

Be wonderful and full of wonder today.

"If a child is to keep alive his inborn sense of wonder, he needs the companionship of at least one adult who can share it, rediscovering with him the joy, excitement and mystery of the world we live in."
-- Rachel Carson


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Morning Sky Through Sunroof

Morning Sky Through Sunroof

August 2008 Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

Day 11 - Writing

After I graduated from high school, as almost all of my friends left for their various colleges, I settled into a 10-6 retail job at The Kite Site in Georgetown, DC. It was a low-pressure job where the perks included working with and for some really great people (who I'm still proud to call my friends), listening to WHFS-FM all day long and getting the musical education of a lifetime and having a fair amount of 'unstructured free time' (i.e. time when there were no customers in the store and the day's inventory, etc., work had all been done)

I started spending this time writing letters, usually at least one per day, to all of my friends who were starting new collegiate lives. Through those letters I began to develop my written voice, not so much telling stories, but just going on and on about various things that were happening in my life and around me at the time. It was a real compliment when someone told me that when they read my letters it was like they could hear me talking to them, my letters sounded so much like me.

More of this writing stuff can be found by clicking on through to the other side... )

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Morning Sun Over Trees

Morning Sun Over Trees

August 2008 Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 10

Day 10: Faith

"Faith is, at one and the same time, absolutely necessary and altogether impossible."
--Stanislaw Lem


"Faith is like electricity. You can't see it, but you can see the light."
--Unknown


So far, most days of these past ten days I haven't known what I was going to write about until later in the day, sometimes on the long ride home or as the evening has been drawing to an end and I feel that midnight deadline creeping up on me. Today's entry, however, came to mind sometime yesterday. And ever since then I've been struggling to find what it is I want to say about faith.

There's more to be read by clicking on through to the other side... )...
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Three Yellow Fleurs

Three Yellow Fleurs

August 2008 Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 9

Day 9: Silence

"The rest is silence"
-- Shakespeare ("Hamlet", Act 5 scene 2)

It is very hard to find a place that is truly silent, but those places do exist.

In silence I can think. In silence I can write. In silence I can create with intention.

I love music, but when I'm working, more often than not, that music needs to be wordless. And there are times, especially when I'm writing something important, that even that has to be turned off.

I know there are people who fear silence and will turn on the radio or TV just to have random background noise around them, but I'm not one of them.

I'm grateful for the silences in my life and appreciate the opportunities they bring.

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Drive Home Sky

Drive Home Sky

August 2008 Chapel Thrill, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

Day 8: A Sense of Humor

"If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane."
-- Jimmy Buffett


Like many facets of my life, it took someone outside of my immediate family to expose me to other types of Funny.

It was another one of those Moments When the Universe Changed: a long-time family friend, Don, was spending the afternoon with my family one afternoon. Not happy with the lack of interesting content of the afternoon's television repeats, he asked me to change the channel to see what else was on. (This was back in the days before remote controls, back when parents had children to be their automatic channel-changers)

Clicking through the local DC channels and finding nothing I continued on through to the two Baltimore channels, 11 and 13, where the often 'snowy' pictures came through almost as clearly as the DC stations.

"Stop!" Don said.

It was an old black & white film. People were scrambling through a hallway in an elegant setting.

"What is this?" I asked.

Click on through to the other side... )

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Habaneros

Habaneros

August 2008 Ralieghwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 7

Day 7: Vegetable Gardens

One sure sign of having grown up in the heart of 1960s-70s Sheltered American Suburbia was my attitude towards food. Food came from... the kitchen. Fruits and vegetables came from... tin cans or the freezer. Other foods came from... the grocery store and then ended up in the kitchen.

When I was seventeen three of us drove from Maryland to the western part of North Carolina to visit a friend and his family who had moved there the year before. As dinner was being prepared the first night my friend's mother handed me a huge bowl and said, "Go out and pick us a salad."

This statement so completely perplexed me it may as well have been spoken in Latin or Greek. Reading the stupefied look on my face she turned to one of my traveling companions and and, with a sad sigh of recognition mixed with amused annoyance, said,

"Take him out to the garden and show him how to pick a salad."

And, shorter though it may be, the rest can be found by clicking on through to the other side... )

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Green Valley Jungle Gym Remnants

Green Valley Jungle Gym Remnants

2007 Marlow Heights, MD

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30 Days of Gratitude

Day 6: Libraries

In the 70s they came up with a new clothing size term for kids like me: husky. Unlike the hauntingly blue-eyed gray (or brown) furred, four footed animal that shares the name, this type of husky meant somthing different. Fat. Not just "overweight" nor "heavy" but fat.

Growing up as a fat kid I didn't feel very accepted in a lot of places nor by a lot of other people. Kids can be, and frequently are, cruel and anything that makes someone stand out as different is easy fodder for insults and comments meant solely to hurt and ostracize. Add to that the fact that I was "smart" and it was a double-whammy.

I don't know if its fair to call my group of elementary school friend "misfits" (is it, [livejournal.com profile] amlaped?) but I we were all well past the fringes of The Popular Crowds and way on the outside of things. We did, however, realize the importance and need for acceptance amongst ourselves and it was with that idea that we all got along relatively well.

One of the places I felt comfortable and accepted was always The Library. Whether it was my elementary school library or any one of the various public libraries in PG County, The Library was not only a safe place, but a place full of possibilities and where my weight and my age didn't seem to matter all that much. I was just another Patron, just like everybody.

It continues on like this for a while. Feel free to move along or click on through to the other side... )

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Tigg Almost Asleep

"Tigg Almost Asleep"

June 2008 Outside Raleighwood, NC

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

Day 5: Bonn

Back in early 1989 I had just moved from CT back to the DC area, leaving behind a failing marriage and a lot of my sense of the trust and how the world worked. Being too blown away to have much purpose or direction in life I started putting together the paperwork to get into grad school and found a job working in a CD store in the days just before they started shipping out the last of the vinyl LPs.

At the CD store I worked with a younger woman who, after a while, started telling me that I should meet her mother. "You two would be great for each other," she said.

"Thanks, but I'm not interested in meeting anyone," I said. Repeatedly.

Turns out she was telling her mother, "You should meet my Manager. The two of you would get along really well."

Her mother, a recently divorced single mom with a 4 year old son, was saying, "Thanks, but I'm not interested in meeting anyone."

Needless to say, her daughter was right.

For more, click on through to the other side... )

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Fountain Mannor

Fountain Mannor, Studley Royal, England

December 2008 Studley Royal, UK
with Gracious and Appreciative Thanks to Our Tour Guide for the Day, [livejournal.com profile] nalsa

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30 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Day 4: Cameras

When I was brainstorming out a pre-blog list of things I was grateful for that list lacked things. I felt very self-satisfied with myself, thinking I was above such petty items as physical, tangible things on my list. Then, thinking about it, I had to admit that concepts, relationships and people are one thing, but there were, in fact some things that I was very grateful for. HIgh on that list needs to be my digital cameras.

Since this is a longer one, with a few more images, feel free to move along or click on through to the other side... )
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