If you were me

I'm stymied, I guess.
I haven't written for a while,
After criticism and censorship.
The problem I have is this:
Each word, each thought has been dug up,
Dug up from the internal (and eternal) junk pile that is my recollection.
These thoughts are mine, I own them, and yet…
I permit the criticism of others dear to me to destroy my writing; my decision.
And so I approach each new thought with their censorship in mind; don't dig too deep.
Ok, so maybe I didn't think through enough the offending thoughts.
Maybe they were right, but still I must admit a stricture on my thinking.
And so now I begin again to write.
Unable to keep these thoughts buried, I must present them to you.
You have a right to your opinion.
I have a right to mine.
But should I publish for all the world to see?
Do I needs/must take into account the effect on others,
Or do I only have obligation to my Self to write what I feel?
Who reads this stuff anyway?

– Small town boy

In my grief

I grieve.

I ache with it.

My heart is broken.

I am at a standstill,

Unable.

Unable to think.

Unable to feel ought else.

Unable to breathe or swallow or sleep.

How must my daughter feel, my son-in-law, my grandchildren?

I grieve for them, with them.

I weep, in spurts .

When I think I’m safe again,

I am over whelmed with grief.

I long for wellness;

I am heartsick.

Where is my recovery?

In you? In You? In solitarity?

In time?

In activity?

I die with Christ this weekend in hopes of my resurrection,

From this terrible grief.

– Small town boy

Horses

My father was a vetrinarian, but

I don’t remember him treating horses,

Just piglets.

Though I never owned a horse,

I rode.

I rode at church camp and scout camp in the Colorado Rockies.

The wranglers often gave me the hard to handle riding horses, because I could handle them.

Except for the one who tried to brushing me off by going under a low hanging tree.

Although he was unsuccessful in this attempt, I had to eat Jello for dinner because of a bloody mouth.

We were charging, like wild Indians, and I couldn’t slow him down.

Five years later I worked in the kitchen of the Rawah Dude Ranch in northern Colorado, where the help was not permitted to ride the horses. Mostly they were work horses uses to pack into Rawah Lake in the Rawah Wilderness area, or as log pullers when timber harvesting was done.

He had a pair of horses, one black and one white to pull the logs.

But they had to hitch up the black one first and get him started, then the white one.

As she (the white) worked up the hill passed him, he would come to life and struggle to beat her to the top.

One of the largest pack horses, Tom, many hands high, was nortoriously spooky. One day as I was holding his reins after he was packed with camping and fishing gear, he spooked and tore off through the brush destroying the fishing gear and spreading camping gear everywhere..

The owner of the Rawah Guest Ranch raised Arabians, and provided stud service to interested mares from nearby ranches.

However, all the college kids on the ranch were required to be in the bunkhouse, so as not to see the stallion do his job.

It was thought by the owner that he didn’t want his employees behaving in a manner like those college kids in Estes Park, who came from all over the country to party.

The owner had bred his own Arabian mare, with the result being a beautiful colt, named Rawah.

However, Rawah got into the barbed wire and cut himself badly, but since the owner was a Christian Scientist, he would not call the vet, and the colt died.

Thirty years later, my wife and I decided our ten year old bossy daughter needed something large to boss around, so we signed her up at a nearby stable in Portland, Oregon, where she rode and cared for her horse.

I decided it looked like fun, and since I only knew how to ride western, that i would learn English as well.

When I fell after a stirrup broke, it was a soft landing in the bark feathers in the arena.

My instructor said that it takes twenty falls to be an expert.

Words to live by.

– Small town boy

Fitness and Resistance

Each morning I go to Fitness Over Fifty to work out. One half hour of cardio, and one half hour of weights.

You can adjust the level of resistance on each machine.

As you increase resistance you and your heart become stronger.

There is no improvement without resistance.

You remain flabby.

But as you modify the resistance you see and feel immediate benefits,

To your body, your mind, and your heart are strengthened.

On the stationary bike I select “Random Hill.”

The resistance goes up and down and lasts for longer and longer times;

The higher the resistance, the longer it lasts.

I note that there are also others who are setting their level of resistance.

If you don’t set your level of resistance, you are simply “spinning.”

There is great camaraderie in resisting. Each person working on his or her health.

At home, I prefer to ride my bicycle over hiking because on a bike you only have to climb up one side if the hill.

Not so here at the gym. Like a unicyclist I met once riding from Colorado to Oregon, you must exert yourself on both sides of the hill. No coasting.

Now that I have finished my workout my body feels better.

Stress is removed, and my heart rate is up.

Resistance is good for me.

Set your level, work at it, with others, and feel the results.

– Small town boy 

Listen

I may have mentioned that I have been advised to listen.

It is against my nature.

I don’t like to listen.

Being alone at the beach in stormy weather has allowed me to work on it.

Prayer as listening? I have even practiced what I used to teach, active listening.

But I hear nothing.

So I tried listening the same way I meditate.

Not bad, good meditation, but still no messages.

As you may also have noticed I am working on jigsaw puzzles.

And I found something.

If you get your mind to quiet, Other skills come to the fore.

Pattern recognition kicks in and instead of actively looking, I’m passively looking, and it works well. All of a sudden I recognize that piece for that place.

One of my heroes is Walt Longmire (by Craig Johnson).

When he goes on alert he soft focuses his eyes so as to make them motion sensors.

It’s like that.

There are other factors at work if I just be quiet and let them work.

I still haven’t heard anything, but I’m learning.

Shh, listen. Hear that?

– Small town boy 

Puzzeling

Do you do jigsaw puzzles?

My mother and her husband John always had one going in the screened-in porch at the rear of their house in Longmont. When they had time they would stop and put in a piece or two.

I’ve recently had the time and interest to pursue this hobby.

Actually, I would get them started and rely on one of my two daughters-in-law to finish them. Either Debra Due or Karis, depending who was at the beach house after I got tired if working on the puzzle.

How many pieces can you do? 500 or 1000, or more?

I try to limit my puzzling to 500 piece puzzles, else they never get done or put away.

I get free puzzles at Fitness Over Fifty, the gym where I work out, or at Goodwill, or last Christmas I won one at a white elephant  game at the dinner for Dial-a-Bus drivers.

Before Christmas I brought home a free 500 piece puzzle of a basket of fruit from FOF. My great grandchildren, Angel and Dashawn, helped me with that one. Their eyes are better than mine.

My wife gave me a 500 piece puzzle which I worked on at the beach on a card table so as not to take up eating space while working on the puzzle. It was of an old rusted out panel truck/flower garden that I did myself.

The anomole in this puzzle was an extra, duplicate, puzzle piece .

I know that crossword puzzles are supposed to help memory loss (or do they just makes you better at crosswords?) But as part of my senile dementia is lack of focus, or distraction, these jigsaw puzzles help me stay focused. (The irony here is that I raised two sons who were ADD and ADHD. Now I understand them better.)

I find that if I get up and walk away from the puzzle,  I can find that piece I’ve been looking for for the last five minutes is right under my nose.

So here I am a alone with some beach time after New Year’s day, and I choose a free 1000 piece puzzle with no daughter in law in sight. (Karis was in Denver working on her own 1000 piece puzzle of Doors!)

I struggled with my thousand piece puzzle.

Do you do edge pieces first?

The only way I could find them was to sort through small piles, moving them from box bottom to box top while putting only edge pieces on the card table. Then I could focus only on edge pieces and not try to turn them over at the start.

Focus.

I continued this procedure throughout puzzle assembly. Never having too many pieces out of the box.

The good thing about this big puzzle was that the picture on the front was quite helpful in locating the puzzle piece’s final location in the puzzle.

I say “final location” because sometimes I had to take pieces out that were in the wrong place, as shown by the inability to place a correct piece in a neighboring spot.

There were thirteen pieces missing from this puzzle, an additional small setback in the face of the 987 other pieces.

My friend Joanne tells me to make my own  pieces, but then she’s a quilter.

On to the next puzzle.

– Small Town Boy

Reception

I was unaware of the problem until it was too late.

After flunking out of the University of Colorado twice in Chemical Engineerung,

I went on to Colorado State where I didn’t get into Vet school due to poor chemistry grades.

As children began to arrive in my family, I sought a new major that would count my science background, physical science, with emphasis on physics and math, and chemistry.

When I checked at the placement office I found the only job for that major was the FBI!

So I went into education and became a great chemistry teacher.

What had made me a poor chemistry student (slow thinking) made me a great chemistry teacher,

Which leads me back to reception.

When teaching I could take all the time I wanted for chemistry instruction; no need to quickly recall chemistry names and reactions and products.

This type of slow instruction was aided by writing on the (green) blackboard.

Writing on the blackboard provided time…

Time for feedback and consideration based on perceived reception by the students of what I was trying to teach them.

As I monitored their receptivity to my teaching,  I adjusted my teaching strategies accordingly.

Occasionally I got it wrong, as when my sixth period chem class at Jefferson High in Portland, OR began throwing spit wads at the blackboard when my back was turned.
I stormed at them only to find that they just were trying to make me smile.

Sixth period became my favorite period after that.

Just so in conversation or public speaking I monitor and adjust (as my friend LuAnn taught me).

I’m thinking while you’re talking.

According to my listening coach (see Contribution) this is a no-no.

Don’t think, just listen.

This is hard for me, but necessary, I guess, to hear you, Yes?

Do you find it difficult to talk to someone on the phone? Where you can’t see their reaction? Or texting.?

I think people who text (my children) don’t want to know how you are receiving their message.

I think we are passive receptors to messages all day (MSNBC and CNN).

I go back to my previous statement:

That conversation requires at least two participants.

If we are all to listen it’s like traffic at the stoplight that comes to a standstill as two people wait to make a left turn, neither trusting the other, waiting for a clear and signal that they truly mean to turn left, sometimes requiring two or more left turners to pass before you feel you can process.

See what I mean? Are you getting this? Am I saying it right?

We’ll see how you do on the pop quiz.

– Small town boy

A Contribution

I don’t listen well.

At church for three sundays in adult class

We have been learning to listen well.

Though I have trained others to listen,

I found myself unable to follow instructions.

Don’t race ahead in your mind preparing your next comment.

Keep your mind still and don’t speak.

Get into what the other is saying in a sincere mode.

Wait for the lesson, what you will learn from the ‘other.’

Humbug, I said.

Conversation is a two way street, I said.

It’s often competitive, say I.

Needless to say this wasn’t received well by the instructor.

And so I’m left with: where did that come from?

This morning, after meditation, I found it.

When I was young, I often heard, “Well, do you have something to contribute to the conversation?”

Or, “Do you have something to add?”

Or, “Don’t speak until you have something to say.”

As a consequence, when I am listening, I am saying to myself, “Do I have something to. Contribute to this conversation?”

And I race to add an anecdote from my files of life stories,

Just what my listening coach told me not to do.

My memory is slipping now, but even before, in my anxiousness to contribute,

I often interrupted or talked over my conversation companion,

To add my contribution.

Rude huh?

So the result of this coaching to be a better listener is:

That I listen to my grandchildren;

I listen to my wife (I don’t think she would agree here);

I listen to strangers and to friends.

I sit quietly waiting for the kernel,

That kernel that I will learn from, attention is required.

And I am attentive while listening, quieting my mind,

And respectful even if I don’t agree with you.

I still have my outbreaks, like this morning at fitness over Fifty,

Where I took advantage of the person on the machine next to me (twice) to unload,

About being a good listener and my need to make a contribution

To the conversation.

What do you think?

Go ahead, I’m listening.

-Small town boy

It’s my turn

It’s my turn to be old.

I’ve already had a turn at being young, being a teen (I extended that a bit), being twenty something, thirty something and forty when I thought I was old.

My grandfather and my grandmother had their turn with dignity.

My mother’s turn was short (age 68).

My father gave up his turn (suicide at age 37)

Now that it’s my turn to be old, I want to take advantage of all the older ‘adult experiences.’

Like a midday nap.  Like grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Like seeking my self that has been created over the years. Like getting to know my inner child.

Some activities I don’t enjoy, but I acknowledge that they come with the territory and I intend to experience them and grow.

Life enlarged prostate. Like aches and pains. Like ten pillls in the morning and ten pills in the evening. Like obesity and diabetes. Like limited walking, hiking, running abilities.

Slowly I am becoming disabled, in body, in mind, in vision.

But that’s ok.

My body is the one mostly feeling the age.

My heart is large and full of love.

My mind is seeking new ways to discover, like meditation, like quiet time, like turning off the television which hadn’t been invented when I was young.

My spirit soars with the eagles, as Chief Dan George says in “Little Big Man,”

I take one day at a time, and the days fly by, months come and go as I focus on today.

It’s my turn, my last turn, and I want to do it right. My children are watching and I want them to know they have nothing to fear when it’s their turn.

Soon I will experience old age.

I will be more disabled, more spiritual, more medicated and older. Who knows how old; who cares?

So I’m here for you if you need me to love you, to pray for you, to sit with you, to offer unsolicited advice.

I’m here with my wife of almost 45 years. Our marriage is old too.  We like it; we like that we’re together and with children yet.

So if you live in the young world, have faith, you too can have your turn.

Your get to have a turn at being old.

– Small town boy