I watched him get out of a white mini van. [Why DO old people drive mini vans - they don't have kids any more!] He had an interesting aura about him; mid-thigh belted khaki safari shorts, a horizontal striped wife-beaterish type tank top which was ribbed in the same khaki color tucked succinctly into his belted shorts, dyed reddish colored hair, and regular eye glasses pushed back in his oddly colored hair.  He was neither thin or overweight, but appeared somewhat still in relatively good shape for a man his age. The complete package of him seemed interesting to me and made me curious.  He didn't look familiar and my mind raced as I saw he was headed toward my office door.  Had I met him before?  If I had, what was his name?

Sometimes I ask questions to garner information, other times I say very little hoping the person will give me what I need without me asking it.  I chose the later with him.  I hoped he would offer his name up front so I wouldn't have to ask - clearly giving away the fact that I couldn't place who he was. 

I picked up a hint of an east coast accent mish-mashed in with his hard to understand  sentences.  It wasn't the accent that kept me from getting all the words, but something in his speech, his mouth, his teeth kept it from being clear.  He talked.  A lot.  I listened.  A lot.  I was ok with that as I felt as if I were getting to take the lid off a jar and peer into its contents.

Mason apologized for his hard to understand speech while lightly shielding his mouth with his hand, "I don't know how anyone understands a word I say with these blasted teeth of mine!"  His east coast accent bubbled out in bits even through his cobbled mushy sentences.  I commented on his accent to which he responded, "I lived in Baltimore, Maryland until I was 48.  That was 33 years ago.  I don't think I have an accent any more."  He did.  It was a lot like his face - though changed with age no doubt, it still held features that he had probably had all his life.

I asked him a few questions.  He gave me lots of answers and delved right into the timeline and story of his life.  [As he spoke I thought about lives - about how we all live one - about how sometimes in old people we don't take time to remember they lived a life - about how once again everyone has a story, a journey, a road they have travelled]  I find people's lives interesting.  I enjoy hearing their travels, their choices, the outcome of their decisions/work/family.  His was poignantly real and detailed.

I heard about his young marriage before he finished college, having kids, making a living doing things he wasn't passionate about until his kids got in college.  He told me about going back to college to get his engineering degree at the age of 40 something.  He spoke about his restless spirit at age 48 that caused him to divorce his wife and move to Wichita, Kansas for a feasibility engineering job - but only after he knew his kids had their college degrees and were off on their own lives. He plowed on as though he was unashamed and just needed to say it all out loud.  I listened.

[I wondered about the reddish dyed hair.  Was it just a way that he felt made him younger?  No man at 81 years of age has that color of hair.  His hair seemed to match his always questing spirit.]

After he got to Wichita, a woman he had worked with back east decided to move to Wichita as well... "She moved in, and 33 years later she is still there though we never got formally married." he said with a chuckle.  He told me he wanted an adventure so he moved to Wichita and wanted to be single as he had gotten married so very young.  He laughed again over the fact that was not how it played out after all.

I continued to not say much other than the occasional hmmm or wow.  I dropped in a few questions here and there but he continued to just speak the entire journey of his life to me.  [I wondered how much of his talking was from a need he had to tell, to talk or how much of it was some vibe I always seemed to give off that perfect strangers felt safe to tell me their stories, their secrets, to cry.  Either way, I found myself drawn into the story of his life.]

He continued on about his work, the feasibility studies he did for car companies and the like.  "I retired at 75 years of age.  Well really I retired before that and then became a feasibility consultant.  That is until at age 75 I was turned down for employment because a company felt I was too old."  I laughed and told him that somebody or other usually thinks something about us!

I continued to visually take Mason in.  He was an interesting dichotomy of things - both visual and spoken.  It took me back to the search for significance.  What had made him feel a sense of significance , even when he had a restless heart for a season?  What gave him significance right now I wondered?  Maybe this - his telling his story and me listening.



My daughter is 26 today.  I laughed with her as we talked this morning about all the things that she does now that she never wanted to do earlier in life.  I listed them for her; cook, sew, exercise, eat good food, landscape, run, eat anything cranberry-ish.  She laughed at the thought of the metamorphosis that has occurred in her life.

A lot happens to all of us in a year's span no matter your age.  Life moves, changes, hits us in the face, propels us away or towards things.  I think that is good because it helps to keep us occupied with living so as not to notice that we are a year further up the life scale. 

There was some great stuff in her life this year.  There was as well some very tough and heart breaking things too.  It's part of what brings us to the close of a year and the beginning of another on our birthday.  It's that day where we breath out with relaxation a bit - time stops for a day and we just get to be.  If we're smart, we celebrate what we gained, celebrate how we survived, celebrate how time has made us better inside because of all we felt, saw, said, heard and experienced the previous year. 

We come to our birthday a little bit different than the year before.  We cannot help but to be  changed by the things we go through.  I like to think we are refined with each year - the trivial fades away, the non-essentials drop to the way side, the piddlie shit is washed off. 

Birthdays are sort of like boy scout badges.  We become smarter, hopefully that is, with each passing year. We have earned the right to know more by experience, joy, heartache, and just by living every day.  I told a good friend of mine today, "age does amazingly good things for us heart and mind wise, but it sure sucks body-wise!"

To my beautiful daughter Hannah: I am so glad you were born 26 years ago. 
I have loved you and who you were at each year to the passing of 25 to 26 as well. 
You are amazing in who you are right now and who you will continue to become. 
Happy birthday my beautiful beautiful daughter!



It was 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit today in the gym.  I don't know why, but heat seems to intensify the grossness and germ laden sweat arena of any gym.  I would forgo fans blowing at me and instead rather they provide squirt guns that regularly and automatically pelt me with Purell. This gym though is not quite as filled with bacteria as the YMCA in the town I moved from. I eventually quit using their facility after getting a bad virus that I picked up there.  I do have a bit of Howard Hughes in me, minus the long fingernails.

There are guidelines for a modicum of cleanliness in the gym; get the spray bottle and paper towel and wipe down the equipment when you are done.  Everyone too should respect your exercising neighbor's space with a volume restriction and closed captioning requirement for all treadmill TVs.  You should also have to turn your TV off after you finish on your piece of equipment, along with wiping off the remote you touched.  I do wish they would give me a whistle to blow at those folks that do not abide by clean and respectful exercising guidelines. They irritate and expose me unnecessarily to bacteria.

Some people barely spray the paper towel with cleaner.  A barely sprayed paper towel in Arizona [it's a dry heat] literally can be almost dry from the time it takes to spray it and walk to the equipment for wipe down.  I've seen a few disregard the wipe down policy altogether.  They think because they only used the piece of equipment for a few minutes [slacker quitters!] it exempts them from the need to wipe it down.  [My whistle would be blowing on that infraction!!!  Why don't they give me that authority?:)]

If I wash my hands with hot soapy water anytime I return home from being in stores, around people, etc, what do you think I want to do at the gym? If I knew that heat stroke wouldn't ensue, I would gear up in a hazmat suit to run on the treadmill.  It is purely my outrageous love of a good sweat and exercise that keeps me going in spite of the bacteria zone all around me. 

Today we stopped out at our house to see the progress of our remodel construction zone.  While there, the man who was delivering the tile pulled in the driveway.  He immediately asked if he could use the bathroom as he had been driving for a couple of hours.  Now my OCD started up.  I tried to quell it as we aren't even living there yet.  Since there was so much mess and construction going on the bathroom hadn't been cleaned thoroughly.  It would be futile at this junction.  None-the-less, a stranger and his parts touching various and a sundry things in my personal bathroom was about to freak me out.  Where the hell was the bleach!! 

I showed him where the master bathroom was since it was the only bathroom with a toilet still in it.  While he went to the bathroom I fretted a bit about the fact that I had not put the liquid soap and roll of paper towel in there. It was a willy-nilly dirty paint and tile zone everywhere, but I still wanted to provide the construction crew with a way to wash their hands. 

Joe the tile delivery man emerged from what would soon be my master bathroom.  I said, "I know there was no soap and paper towel in there.  Over by the kitchen sink is some soap and towels."  Joe didn't bat an eye, " I'm good!"  Oh my word!  What in the hell was I going to do now?  The picture of a black light on his hands made me force back a gag!  I'm good!  I on the other hand was far from good.

All I could think about was all that he had and would touch since exiting the bathroom without washing his hands!  In what world, especially when someone lets you use their private bathroom, was it ok to NOT wash your hands.  Who does that!



I have had a collision of late with my driven fast ways and the culture I am in.  It seems that every place I have lived in my life has their own distinctive cultural nuances.  This place falls suit to that as well.  My frustration level has mounted to new heights this week and bubbled out a time or two.

Today, after yet another experience of sweeping generalities and back tracking, I felt much like the ball and string to a May pole.  I was flailing aimlessly back and forth trying to get solids, absolutes, progress forward, a time table.  They, and by they I mean everyone who is not me or does not have my way of Mid western thinking, were moving slow, speaking in generalities, retracting timetables, not returning calls, moving the wheel at only one degree at a time if I was lucky!

This was not how I was wired at all!  You say what you mean.  You mean what you say.  That is the end of the discussion for me.  I don't care if it's your personal life or in the world of business, that is my creed.  And, if you aren't that way it causes some deep tidal waters to be awakened in me.  I found myself so wound up that if I had a string hanging off me and you pulled it, I would have spun across the room.  Quite a few swear words tumbled out.  Repeatedly.  If you can feel your blood pressure ascend to Mach level 5, mine did.   

I don't know how you work something out of you, but I do it with exercise and preferably, exercise out in nature.  That's just what I did.  I ran down the mountain.  As I felt the wind against my skin, my muscles pulling and working, sweat forming, I was working all that angst out of me.  It had to go somewhere.  It had to come out because it's just not healthy to have that kind of furiousness inside. 

I felt like the guy from the movie "The Green Mile" - poison spilling into the air around me as I descended on the run.  I ran away from the build up, the conflict, and the immovableness of it all.  I couldn't change a culture, a way of business, thinking or conduct.  The only thing my mountain of anger was changing was me - into something I did not want to become.

I felt like George Costanza from "Seinfield" - ragey, spewie, and just off kilter from others not adhering to my code of culture, manner in which transactions should be conducted and the timetable for most everything.  I needed a brown paper bag to breath in to.  I needed a refresher course in Lamaze breathing.  I needed to find my happy place.

Really what I needed was other people to tow the line and move their asses!  Too bad I don't control the universe, Arizona or anything past myself!!



Having recently purchased a house, we decided to try a church that was less than a mile from our new digs. Church is about far more than just a short convenient drive. I get that.  But its close proximity, well known denominational name, and size of its building seemed like a possible win-win for us. Maybe it might even cut down the chances of us walking in a few minutes late which it seems on Sundays had become our norm.
I was totally wrong on the not getting there late part.  It was 3 minutes past 9 a.m. when we rolled into the parking lot. Odd though that there were only 3 cars in the parking lot after the service was supposed to have started. We had done a drive by the night before to read the service time on the sign.  I cannot be trusted to read much of anything past 15-20 feet so Doug read out loud, "9:00 a.m."   Case closed.  End of story.  We would be there at 9:00 ish.  And here it was 9:03.  It appeared we were not only late, but our presence now made up one-quarter of the congregation.  I started to squirm inwardly.
Something inside me wanted to turn the car around and leave. Call it a hunch, an intuition, but no one wants to be late for a church service where there are only 3 other cars in the parking lot.  I felt like guppy food in a guppy tank!  We though had made a commitment to church that morning, and come hell or high water we were going.  There was no turning back now.
As we walked through the door we were greeted by a lady in her late 50's, the Pastor's wife.  She was sweet, gracious and explained that worship didn't start till 10, but there was prayer in the pastor's office at 9 and coffee.  She, either in nervousness or pride, wanted to show us the building.  And by the building I mean every square inch, including closets.  It was an older pole building that showed signs of lack of funds, the need for some sprucing up and an empty without enough people in it feel.
She seemed proud of the facilities but felt the need to blurt out, "We had a mass exodus recently where about 100 of our 200 people left.  Those things happen and have happened before in the 25 years since my husband and I started this church." [As she spoke my heart took a ride down memory lane of 25 years in the church pastorate myself.  I knew the hard road church ministry could be at times - how disappointing and exhausting it was.]  I sensed a bit of tiredness in her. "I understand exactly what you are saying.  I was a pastor's wife for 25 years. How are you doing after that type of situation?" She let down a bit more, "I am tired but know God will bring more people."  As she shared and chatted I found myself drifting off a bit. I wondered how, after 25 years of this church, she found herself still in the game, still believing and hoping that this little church would grow. I asked God to give her what she needed to be encouraged. 
She took us to meet Harry, her husband.  He shared the church's struggle and his philosophy, "I do what I can with who I can.  I try to meet a need when there is one.  I minister to those that have a hurt.  That's what I can do."  I thought about what Harry said.  Pastoring small churches could be brutal.  There were usually lots of not so healthy people  [which is what church really is for!] and only a few healthy folk who bore the brunt of the work load of the church. That seemed like a similar pattern at this church too. Partly Harry had to adopt that philosophy or he would probably lose his mind, grow too discouraged and quit.  I saw that no one had shown up to pray with him at 9:00 a.m.  No one.

Pastor Harry and his wife ushered us into the fellowship hall to a table of four retired couples who sat drinking coffee and eating breakfast. They were nice people who we passed the next half hour with until 10 a.m. rolled around and the worship service started.  As we exited the fellowship hall Harry asked, "Do you want more coffee?  You can always get another cup when we stop for a break half-way through the service."  I sure hope my face didn't give me away right then.  I felt panic well up.  [If there is an intermission, a break, that means this is a LONG LONG service!   We are in trouble!  Get me out of here!] I took a side-ways look at Doug, he appeared to have that same trying-to-cover-up-what-you're-really- thinking look on his face. 
We both thanked Harry for the coffee offer and went to the sanctuary for worship.  It was there that our intuitions were confirmed.  There were not 100 people there.  There were not 80 people there.  Nope.  Not even 50 people filled the sanctuary.  Counting Doug and I there were approximately 35 people.  
I felt like shark bait in an ocean of hungry sharks.  Every eye peered at us constantly.  They were checking out the new couple like they had never seen an outsider before.  I briefly thought I heard the music to the movie "Deliverance" playing softly.  Their looks went on through the entire service.  When I caught them staring I tried to casually smile back but it didn't seem to avert their gazes at all.  At four different times in the middle of service someone got up to bring us something; a bulletin, a pen, a worship cd, their first born:)

We stood and sang for 50 minutes solid as the small band led us through repeats of 5 songs.  If you do the math on minutes per song we were at about 10 minutes per song.  At the 30 minute mark I couldn't feel my right hip from standing in the same spot for so long.  I also couldn't sing one more repeat of a song.  Though I had long since checked out [actually that occurred as we walked through the doors at 9:03 realizing church didn't start for another hour], I was now starting down a slippery slope of disgust, diving fully into my never ending irrelevance dialogue issue and quickly succumbing to boredom.  I claimed a higher power - God Himself -
but I was sinking!

After 50 minutes of the poorly done repeated 5 song repertoire, Pastor Harry stopped the service for a 5 minute refreshment/bathroom break.  I began to search for a paper bag to breathe in to.  [Intermission in church!  Oh this was not good.]  Intermission comes at the half-way mark.  We were only half-way done!  I wanted to run again but there was no way to exit with 35 people staring.

Pastor Harry reconvened the service with the words, "I am only going to preach 30 minutes."  Something deep inside of me knew those would be unmet words.  One hour later, as we bowed our heads for the closing prayer, I felt angry, a bit confused, sorrowful, disillusioned again with organized modern day church and ready to make a bee-line for the door. 

To be a bit ornery, I put Doug's cell phone number and email address on the visitor card as punishment for mis-reading what time the church service actually started.    


"Twenty dolla-bid-now-fi-woulda-bidda-fi-who-bidda-fi-bidda-fi-anywhere"

Though I like a bargain, I can only search for one so long.  I have a bit of shopping ADD.  I also have a bit of an intolerance for waiting, period.  You can take that into just about any arena and I just don't have the stones for it.  Freely do I admit that my intolerance and hatred for waiting is not the better pieces of my personality.

My hunt for a bargain and my intolerance of shopping and waiting though can be managed by quickly perusing resale shops, Goodwill, etc.  Like the old super hero, Flash Gordon, I am in and out in minutes. I though don't do well at garage sales.  Pretty much I hate garage sales. There just isn't enough stuff at a garage sale, and unless you are first in line at 8:00 a.m., the good stuff is already gone.  Then there is that awkwardness when I, as a prospective buyer, slink away without buying a single thing after being initially greeted by the homeowner of the garage sale.  It's as if I am silently telling them their stuff is shit.

Now I will blast through store after store in a flurry looking to garner a good deal, the best price or even locate something I am in search of.  I am though, not much of a window shopper.  Just looking to look is like fingernails on a chalkboard, like a big bowl of raisins, having to scrapbook with a group of women, or sitting in a sauna in a wool turtleneck - all things I do not want to do!

Some new friends of ours asked us to an auction and then out to dinner recently. Auctions to me are all about waiting.  And, since the best of my best can't be seen while I wait, I really wasn't too awful keen about a couple of hours at an auction.  I am not one to buy something spur of the moment or just because I want to buy something.  We went just to spend time with these new friends who had graciously invited us into their love - going to auctions!   

They are regulars at this little poe-dunk auction.  So much so, that the auctioneer and staff know them by name and vice versa.  We got there before the auction to case the joint - check out all the items that would soon be auctioned off.  I did not see one thing there that was anything I wanted, needed or even thought was valuable enough to buy and resale.  Even the auctioneer stated at the start of the auction that the inventory for auction that particular night was poor.

There were two strikes now against my tolerance and patience; the length of time required to sit while things were auctioned off [I saw nothing I was interested in], and the volume of pure crap that was going to be auctioned off before I could leave for dinner. I could feel my annoyance level rise.

Our friends, long time auction goers, wanted to sit in the front row - right in front of the auctioneer.  It felt similar to sitting in the front row of church.  I didn't want to be at attention the whole time.  I know myself, my tendency to be sarcastic, to sling humor like Mel used to flip burgers at Mel's Diner.  Sitting front and center was going to impede my ways!  This was brutal.

My friend Christine and I seem to operate in similar zones - talking, laughing, generally making fun of most things.  I found myself both disturbed and mesmerized by the auctioneer's un-auctioneering voice, his missing voice cadence, and the not to be heard dolla, who give me ten dolla phrases.  Not only did his lack of an auctioneer's tone and rhythm cause me to laugh, but his outrageous lies about each object he held up was obscenely humorous.

The combination of events, people, the setting, and my impatient ways were not a good concoction.  Christine and I had our shtick going in the front row.   I thought we were being as reverent as one can be at a hokey auction.  Evidently I was totally unaware of the "rules" of a two bit auction until the auctioneer stopped the auction, walked to my chair and told me to "Shhhh!" 

I was both taken back and yet familiar with that sort of public scolding.  There were a handful of times in school growing up that I had been scolded or marked on my conduct for talking and laughing too much.  It was not the first time, nor would it probably be the last.  I have a running commentary of funny, sarcastic and irreverent things to say most days.  Quirky situations and auctions are like gasoline on my fire.

My friend Christine, who had invited us to the auction, was mortified.  I was a combination of angry and incredulous that this two-bit lying C-rated auctioneer had ssshed me.  He later ssshed my friend Christine and then blew a whistle at the entire crowd demanding silence much like a judge's gavel.  If he only knew he was the subject of a blog read by readers in the U.S., 6 from Canada, 5 from Denmark, 3 from Japan and a reader in the Philippines. 



People tease me about what I eat; a half a turkey sandwich, carrots, salad, fruit, nuts, avocados, oatmeal, anything in a raw state.   I actually love the taste of that stuff and crave it.  They say that's not enough food or good food.  I beg to differ.  My motto is if it's crunchy, green or uncooked count me in!

I realize that is not every one's cup of tea.  Especially not Big D, my McDonald loving friend.  I tell her it's poison folded in a yellow wrapper.  Fillet O Fish is not the same as a piece of wild caught salmon or orange roughy broiled with lemon and non-salty seasonings.  If you have to slather it with tartar sauce there must be a taste lack.  Big D was oh so proud of herself last week when, after much cajoling from me, confessed that even though she broke down and had McDonalds it was a fish sandwich and she requested "light" tartar sauce. 

I do though once in awhile get a hankering for a steak or a greasy burger.  I indulge knowing I will pay a price later for it as my body just doesn't eat that stuff enough to build up a tolerance in my digestion for it.  It tastes superb going down but the agony of the next 5 hours is misery!  Age and disease are common bedfellows for me!

Just recently I had me one of those hankerings.  I think that craving occasionally comes from the fact that I don't eat high fact or tons of protein so eventually my body screams  I NEED SOME FAT!!!!  I NEED SOME PROTEIN!!!!!  Being in one of those cycles, I mentioned to Doug that I was so hungry for a burger.  He obliged my craving since it allows him the chance to eat it too which is far to rare for him being married to the raw veggie queen. 

Where to go?  I did not want to waste this rarity of eating a burger on a mediocre one.  No McDonalds or Red Robin for me.  I did not want In and Out Burger (yuck!) or 5 Guys as my stomach nor eyes can view a grease soaked brown paper bag while eating knowing that my insides now will look the same as that bag. 

After some rave reviews by others, we went to Brown Bag, a burger joint.  Now there is nothing special about the atmosphere.  The setting is small and cramped.  It's the kind of place you go to eat and leave, not sit and socialize.  I could feel my mouth watering as Doug ordered a 14 ounce burger to share between us.  Their burgers don't come any smaller than 7 ounces and the 14 ounce was less bread and money than two 7 ouncers.

We ordered it with everything; lettuce, cheese (swiss), bacon, tomatoes, onions, ketchup and mustard and pickles.  They will even cut the burger down the middle as sharing is a regular thing there I assume.  It came in an orange plastic basket with a wax paper liner with a stack of fries off to one side.
[When was the last time I ate a burger like that?  I couldn't even remember!] 

If you can have an orgasmic experience with food, then I did.  The first bite was exactly what my palate desired.  I could not stop saying things like; oh my word!! This is amazing!!  One of the best burgers I have ever eaten!!   My husband laughed at my pure delight in that burger.  He was also in shock stating, "I don't think I've ever seen you eat something like that!"  That was a true statement. 

I finished off my half with a feeling of deep satiation.  It was a winning combination of needed fat and protein on a bun.  Later that day, long after it was chewed and swallowed, I couldn't shake its goodness.  My digestion was in utter agony but my mouth was so satisfied.  Here's to you Big D!


Some people want to give you their opinion when you haven't asked for it, and don't need or want it.  It's not about them in anyway shape or form.  The issue isn't moral or ethical or vegetable or mineral but purely and solely subjective. It is not even directly connected to them. What they say will have absolutely no determining factor in what you are doing whatsoever other than irritating the shit right out of you.

Sometimes though I do want others opinions.  I want their view, their feedback, their two thumbs down or four star rating.  I need it because I am lacking a piece to the puzzle, an answer I am seeking, their experience bank or knowledge base.  It still quite possibly might be an issue that is not directly related to them either, but I need something they have to finish a decision, come to a conclusion, move on, gather a battle plan, etc..... 

Opinions are way different than facts.  Sometimes I don't have all the facts.  In that case(s) I want your information to be forthcoming even if I don't ask for it.  You don't even know that you don't know which makes giving someone vital information they may be lacking so very important. Opinions are not that. Opinions are highly subjective.

I recently picked out paint samples to sift through to determine the colors to be used in painting the interior of our whole house.  After sifting through dozens and dozens of color combinations based on the color scheme of the tile we were putting in the house, whether we wanted to lean toward warmer or cooler colors, a palette of three colors was decided upon. 

Once I decide something, actually make the decision to do or not do something, it is over for me.  Pretty much the decision is iron-clad as I have looked at options, garnered viewpoints and opinions, gotten all the information I can, and then felt my way to the final decision.  Maybe that's not how you are and what I am saying is like listening to Pennsylvania Dutch (reference is for my Mennonite and/or Amish backgrounded readers!).

When I met the painters at the house to get a quote, I took my color samples.  I wanted them to know that my leg of the journey was over - color decided.  The husband of the painting company tried to sway me with his opinion.  I took it for only so long.  His wife explained that John's opinions on colors either changes people's minds or solidifies further the decision they already made.  I told her I was in the later category.  He would not be living there or paying for it so what he thought on colors was immaterial to me.

I did not care what he thought of my paint colors [even though he did love them and said they were all the rage coming back in style again] or that he thought I should go a bit darker and use the lighter color for accent walls.  I had already poured over sample after sample with the new flooring, with our furniture, with the look I knew I was trying to create, while understanding I like lots of light in a room.  He was not swaying me one iota.

I did not need his opinion on my color choices, but rather his knowledge as a professional painter on sheen, coats, methods of painting, time frame and ultimately PRICE!!  I explained to him that he would not change my mind and these were the colors.  We were moving onward from opinions to knowledge thank you:)

Our realtor, whom I love deeply, tried his opinions on me many times.  My answer to his opinions on everything was finally, "Randy, unless you are spending your money I don't care about your opinion!"  He roared in laughter.



It's a weird sort of quiet heavy spirit that seems to hang over this community I live in.  I have only lived here for 2 months.  I haven't developed deep relationships here yet.  I don't have a geographic root system that runs to my soul in Prescott, Arizona.  This is not my place of origin nor where I have spent the better part of my life.  I am though moved and heavy with the sense of loss all around me. It is palpable.

I didn't know, in a relational sense, any of the 19 hotshot firefighters killed on Yarnell hill on Sunday, June 30th. I only know the impact of their jobs on our very dry environment and the loss of them in this community  The only connection I have is through other people who knew them. I have heard some of their stories and seen the tears of those telling their stories. Their lives and job were in the public service job arena.  That makes them automatically connected to the community at large.  Overtly and covertly they were and are our protective layer, the buffer between tragedy or its possibility and us.

There is a constant here right now, grief.  I've heard it in the voices of people who have told me of their connection to those men.  It is the topic of conversation, the commonality among every interaction with friends, loved ones and even virtual strangers.  In the mix of words, in the conversations that take place the words are always;  how does something like this happen, how could not one in that group of 19 survive, what happened on that mountain, they were young and had their whole lives in front of them.

I cannot concise God to easy answers and clich├ęs that reduce His bigness down to fit into our human need to understand all things.  God is always present.  Knowing that is true means that He is present in life and death, present in our sufferings, present in our grief and present in circumstances that leave a swathe of destruction and pain a mile wide and deep. 

No one knows what happened exactly Sunday afternoon when that monsoon wind switched on and turned the fire on a dime.  Weather and wind are not containable or predictable or even able to be contended with at times.  They are not things that human hands and systems created.  So much of life is out of our control and the loss of 19 men on a mountain fighting a fire that was of control is a vivid picture of that.

I wonder other things about those men, really about all of us when faced with knowing our death is upon us.  I wonder if they had a few moments or minutes, even in the chaos that was probably there, to know God was with them?  Did they call out to Him?  Did they have frank words and make peace with the Creator of the universe and the only other person who could be with them at that moment?

My brother-in-law is a full-time career firefighter back in Indiana.  I have seen up close and personal the life of a firefighter, the schedule they keep, the time away from family and the band of brother life that is created with their comrades.  The firefighter community is something to be envied, especially by men.  It flies against a man's nature to seek deep, rich and connective relationships with other men.  But by force and by choice these guys create a sub culture that blows the lid off the stereotypical view of non-relational males. 

Much like farmers are tied to the earth, to nature, to the soil, firefighters have a thing in their blood - being a firefighter.  They are addicted to the adrenaline, the challenge, the lifestyle,the power to alter or aid in tragedy and eventually the brotherhood that it creates. 

If I were to get to choose how I could die, it would be doing something I loved.  It does not make those men's deaths less tragic.  It does not take away the pain such catastrophic loss leaves, it though frames it with pieces of grace.  I find that God always weaves it in somehow.  It's a vivid and needed contrast to pain and sorrow and suffocating grief.



I'm not a big TV watcher.  I really just don't care about it too awful much.  When I was single I went 4-5 months without turning it on.  I don't fault you if you are a TV watcher, I just a) don't like to sit that long, b) can't always find something that I really like to watch, c) would rather be doing other things I like way better.  I probably really could go without even owning a TV except for the occasional re-runs I watch while running on the treadmill, the Olympics, movies from Netflix, and now the show I watched last night that I might be addicted to after only one viewing, "Naked and Afraid".

Maybe there should be a reading maturity rating on this blog from what I may describe shortly.  There definitely should have been a rating warning on the Discovery Channel's "Naked and Afraid".  Some of you may have actually sat and got sucked into this show like I did last night.  There is no way I want to get rid of my TV now till I've seen my fill of episodes.

"Naked and Afraid" might best be described this way; a cross between "Survivor" [without the contestants, mind games between players and host Jeff Probst], "Biggest Loser" [without quite as voluminous weight loss but what is lost is done way faster], "Fear Factor [without ridiculous man-made challenges, just in the wild au-natural ones], "Man Vs. Wild" [where Bear Grylls eats digested berries out of dung and drinks his own urine - now we're headed to almost there] and the nudist show "Clothesfree Today" [you get the no clothes reference, right!]. 

To qualify to be on the show you have to have some sort of significant background and experience as a survivalist; military training, experience in survivalist experiences/training/craziness.  They put the prospective survivalists through a battery of physical and psychological testing before attempting this extreme survivalist exercise.  They are teamed with someone of the opposite sex - a total stranger, dropped at their location where they are given instructions of where to meet for the pick-up in 21 days  They are given one item of their own choosing to take with them (no clothing allowed) for survival and told to strip down to skin only.  Their 21 day survival begins in a rugged and dangerous terrain with no belongings, standing naked next to a person of the opposite sex they do not know.  Not for the faint of heart or the self-conscious.

In case you missed a big detail, they are completely naked which means not even shoes allowed.  If this is lost on you, imagine no shoes walking through the hot dirt and thorns of Africa when you are not used to it.  Imagine walking anywhere rugged or jagged without shoes.  I would be dead at that very moment! 

The shows covers how they adapt to surviving when they only have each other to rely on, how they have to find food, get water and protein to keep their strength up.  Sounds easy you say?  Imagine eating something that is not intended to be ingested and getting sick, or cutting your foot and it getting infected.  You still have to find water, kill protein, start a fire without the aid of any matches, fight off wild animals, survive the harsh day and night weather conditions and do all of it while sitting on the bare ground with your bare ass.  Not only that, but you are up close and personal with this total stranger who is also totally naked.

I do believe that experience would be a great teacher to help us all get outside of our bodies, how we look, what we think about people based purely on their physical bodies.  Nakedness would quickly become very, very secondary.  Though it was interesting that almost immediately both couples I watched found things in nature to make would be coverings, albeit minuscule at best.    

Of course the nudity, all except rear ass shots, were fuzzed over a bit.  No direct woo-hoo shots were seen or even bare breasts flashed.  They did try to not make the nudity front and center though already obvious. I think the point of the nudity was really to give them yet another unfamiliar and harsh circumstance to deal with, an obstacle.

In 21 days each person lost close to 30 pounds each.  All of them, despite their intensive survivalist backgrounds, were faced with some dire situations; lack of water, lack of food, illness, storms, emotions, injury, learning to rely totally on each other to both survive.  There was definitely some mental stress that occurred as just the act of staying alive took every ounce of their energy and emotions.

At the beginning of one couple's 21 day survival journey they were without water in the African 120 degree heat for 52 hours.  After finding the water source, they couldn't get a fire started which was essential to boiling it before drinking the bacteria laden H2O.  It was at that moment that my husband Doug got concerned.  He stated, "They should drink their urine.  It is salty but will keep them alive.  You know it's salty right?"  He was serious and I was curious, "How do you know it's salty?  Have you drank your urine before?"  I was far from keeping a straight face.  I mean a discussion about drinking urine even if you aren't a 13 year old boy is just amusing.

"I did taste it in survivalist military training.  We didn't "drink" it like a glass of milk, but had to put a taste of it in our mouths" Doug stated smiling at the thought of what he had just said.  "Hopefully it was yours," I said.