October 29, 2016 § Leave a comment

Choices are on my mind his morning, as I sip my coffee and feel the synapses begin to fire. It’s chilly in the house, but summer is staging another strike. I just ducked outside to look at a passing airplane, and it’s wonderfully warm; the perfect day for riding rollercoasters, which I will be doing with my wife and friends today, before we costume and go to a Halloween/birthday party tonight.

But choices. We make choices in almost every moment, and each choice alters the course of our life in some way.

Some choices are so small we don’t even notice we made them, yet they have a butterfly effect nonetheless: turn left instead of right, and avoid an accident; choose one word over another and cause a misunderstanding that damages a relationship.

Others are larger, more gut-wrenching decisions: to leave a job, or keep a difficult secret, or say goodbye to a beloved pet, or end a friendship that you realize is no longer a friendship.

One right choice can push your life in an amazing new direction; one wrong choice—no matter how small—can bring it all crashing down. Choose well. « Read the rest of this entry »



October 25, 2016 § 1 Comment

The first frost rimed the roofs in my neighborhood this morning. A praying mantis clung to the porch wall, moving only a leg to let me know she was still alive when I prodded her with a tentative finger. Cold.

I haven’t seen many mantids this summer, and worried that landscaping changes had eliminated their colony. Seeing this poor, sluggish creature clinging to the brick delivered a mixture of cheer to know they were still around, and dismay that she would soon lay her eggs for the autumn and then die. I’ll remember her when I see her children in the spring.

But this isn’t about her. This is about something new and permanent. Something that will die only when I die.  « Read the rest of this entry »

When You Can’t Run, You Crawl

October 23, 2016 § Leave a comment

Summer refuses to go gently into that good night. We’re well into October now, and the mercury keeps climbing into the upper 60s, 70s, and even the 80s. And then plummets, as Fall rallies, only to be routed again by another surprise attack from my favorite season.

Today was sunny, warm, and beautiful, and yet I couldn’t lift my eyes from my shoes long enough to appreciate it. I have stones on these shoulders, and just about the time I get used to the weight, another one gets added. Just this week, a boulder dropped on top of the other rocks already sitting there. So I’m sagging a bit.

I just went up on the roof to clean the gutters and took a few minutes to think and watch the sun nestle down behind the horizon. I took stock of what’s wrong and what’s right, what’s good and bad in my life.

There’s a lot going wrong in my life. There’s also a lot going right to prop me up when the stones push me down. When a new weight drops on the wrong side, the stanchions bend and slip. This week really tested them.

But up on the roof, with the world going dark and silent around me, I did find some perspective. Unfortunately, what’s going on around me is reality, and it isn’t going to change. I want the rocks and boulders to fall off or be lifted away, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

All I can do is lean into the supports—my wife, my family, my friends, and the too-brief moments of joy they bring into my life. And remember to thank them, and try to bring joy to them when they need it. Try not to be a rock on their shoulders, but rather a support for them, even if it’s a weak one. Toothpicks can support bowling balls, if you have enough of them.

There’s a quote from my favorite television show, Firefly. It’s kind of cheesy, but it contains a good sentiment:

When you can’t run, you crawl. And when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you.

Find someone to carry you. Lean into your supports. We’ll all get through this together.

“Stack on Balance” (Sculpture and photo by Peter Juhl)


Before Coffee: A Toast

October 7, 2016 § 1 Comment

The weather is starting to turn cool. We’re still in the 80s during the day, but the nights have the crisp edge that tells you frosty mornings are just around the corner. The trees’ hold on summer green began to slip over the past few days; I noticed a hint of color in the leaves today.

The maple nearest my house began dropping its leaves weeks ago: brown-spotted pages of waxy yellow clogging the gutters, brittle curls littering the deck. The rest of the towering maples and hickories and oaks in my yard will lose their fight soon, too, letting fly the summer stories contained in their leaves.

Autumn, to me, is a season of loss. We celebrate the dead in October, as the color drains from the face of the Northern Hemisphere. We pull into our houses and ourselves, bury our bodies in layers and blankets. Dark claims more of the day.

I know I’m in the minority; most people love the colors of the fall. The crunch of the dead leaves. Mulled wine around the fire pit. Pumpkin fucking spice in everything. Halloween.

Those are all nice things, and I enjoy them. (Well, not the pumpkin spice.) But they don’t distract from the slow withering of my world. I live for the months of green trees and blue skies, bare skin under a hot sun, long days of pools and grilled meat and driving with the wind in my hair.

I am a summer creature, and not myself in any other season. Although this summer had it’s awful side, it also had good days and better nights, full of moments and memories that scorched themselves into the flesh of me.

So here’s a toast with the good bourbon: To summer. Come back soon.

Photo credit: Fork & Stave 



Of Biplanes and Buckets and Lists

October 3, 2016 § Leave a comment

I don’t have much of a bucket list. Things I once wanted to do before I die—skydive, fly a hang glider, see Machu Picchu, etc.—have fallen away due to age or geopolitics or a plain fading of interest in them.

But one thing stuck. Ever since reading Richard Bach’s novel, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah, I’ve wanted to fly in a biplane.

Seeing a biplane flying overhead always makes me stop and watch until it’s out of sight, a dumb grin on my face the entire time. At airshows, biplanes always draw me over to stare and smile and wish I could go up in one.

This weekend, I finally took that flight.

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