I was going to write about the Duggar family, but….

Tree-House-Lodge-8

I was going to write about the Duggar family, but couldn’t imagine how I’d do it or what I’d say.

I’ve heard that if you don’t have anything good to say that you shouldn’t say anything.

Maybe if you don’t know how to say nice things in the correct way….you shouldn’t say anything, either?

That’s a hard thing that family is going through.

It’s tough to be judged because of the actions of one member of the family…and it’s pretty horrible when things fall apart “in the public eye” like that.

Luckily, we fly kind of “under the radar”….nobody pays a lot of attention to what I do.

I could build a big treehouse without a building permit if I wanted to….and if I didn’t wake the neighbors on Sunday morning, no one would ever know.

And besides…..Jenny says that I’m too cheap for something like that Ashley Madison thing.

Josh.

What the heck were you thinking?

You should have been building a treehouse.

You had a good thing going….nice family, nice wife.

That’s some major craziness….pulling a bunch of stunts like you did.

Enough about the Duggars.

I don’t know them.

They sure do have a lot of kids, though.

Back to this treehouse thought….

Treehouse…..and a dog.

Those are the two promises that I made a couple of years ago.

I better get on it.

So…..treehouse, dog, car for Zoe, fix up our house, fix up the house over at the property, build a cabin in Idaho, start a highly profitable publishing business, get a dog….no, mentioned that already….get a new minivan….replace the gasket in the refrigerator door….put new labels in my mail case….um….get a dog….build a treehouse….finish my coffee.

What else?

There are always things to do that are important.

Winter is coming….right after Fall.

I better cut some wood.

And….as far as the Duggar family goes….this is the opportunity for the real ministry to begin. THIS IS IT!! I have a feeling that they’ll be alright….but what a hurdle Josh put in that family’s way.

He should have kept busy with that tree house he promised he’d build.

Should have built the house up in the tree.

Walter….again.

One of my five-year-old’s favorite movies is this one….The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

I really should say, “One of my almost six-year-old’s” favorite movies….but Jenny likes me to wait until the day of the birthday to claim the “6-year-old” status….something about premature aging being kind of traumatic.

I think that she wants them to stay “little” as long as possible.

Anyway, when Nate says, “Let’s watch Walter Mitty again”, I don’t complain.

It’s a great movie….and I pick up something a little different every time I watch it.

Here’s one of my favorite scenes:

I love this scene so much…..”sometimes…I …just want to….stay in it…”

We went over to the new property today….planning….dreaming…planning.

One of the beauties of not having a lot of money is that it helps you make your decisions slowly….but “years and years” would be ridiculous….so we’ll have to make a move sometime soon.

Cleaning it up is keeping us busy….but that’s really just a distraction….like endless organizing before you launch into tackling a project.

Anyway….it’s beautiful over there….peaceful.

Where we live now is pretty peaceful….but over there, it’s a little bit farther off the road, so it’s really peaceful.

We’ll figure out something.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty….good for grownups…..good for children.

How many movies can you say that about?

 

“When I see that I know you, I remember….you’re my friend.”

Skinny-dipping-fun-hog-style.-vivalosfunhogs-@sparks_kyle

“HAH!!! LOOK AT THAT HOJO WITH THE PADDLEBOARD WIGGLING ALL OVER THE BACK OF HIS PICKUP!! THAT THING IS GOING TO FLY OUT ANY MINUTE!!! I WONDER IF HE’LL NOTICE? MAYBE I CAN SCOOP IT UP IF IT FLIES OUT….HMMMMMMM…..WHAT A FREAKING HOEDAD!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!! FREAKING FUNHOG.”

That wasn’t a kind way of thinking about someone else’s awkward situtation….but, you know, it was all inside my head. It was in my head.

Do I need to apologize for the things that people don’t know that I’m thinking, too?

By the time that I got closer, the guy in the pickup was out of the vehicle and securing the gear…..and, embarrassingly, to me, he looked kind of familiar.

Of course, it’s my blessing in life that most of the “funhogs” look kind of familiar.

That’s a kind of life that I leaned up against for a while.

Being a faux-funhog is ….kind of fun.

Anyway….the point of this is that I was aware of how much my attitude changed towards this paddleboard dude when I thought that there was a chance that I knew him.

I was a lot more benevolent feeling towards his situation when I thought that he might be a long lost”bro”.

I wonder how many situations might turn around if I remembered who I knew….or, even….made the mistake of believing that a stranger was a friend?

That’s a good kind of mistake to make….to believe that someone that I don’t know (yet) is already a friend…and deserving of the kind of “kind consideration” I should be giving to all the people I already love.

The dude yesterday didn’t need my help.

He had some rope and some common sense.

He knew how to secure his load.

His stuff didn’t blow away or wiggle out of his truck.

I still might like to find a paddleboard or a decent kayak out on the highway, though.

If I didn’t know who’d lost it in the hurricane, I might like to put it out in my shed….along with all the other gear I’m not using right now.

pleasant repetition

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The cat goes crazy when I go downstairs to make my coffee.

That’s our routine….I creak on the top step, she hears it…knows I’m coming to do some things in the kitchen…and, also, knows that I’m going to open a new can of cat food for her and wash out the old can from the day before.

That’s part of the way I start my day…. every day.

When I’m running, I do all that,too….get the coffee started, feed the cat….and then go for a run….then finish making the coffee and sit for a while if no one else is up….but feeding the cat is always first priority.

She mewls enough that it’s a pain in the rear to listen to her….if I don’t take care of her needs first thing.

She’s a squeaky wheel.

I was thinking this morning while I did that…..kidding around in my head….that this is what purgatory must be like….Sisyphus rolling a stone….the endless catscapade….feeding the beast.

Then, when I’d gotten as much amusement out of that thought that one man could stand, it hit me that maybe that’s what heaven is all about….

Maybe heaven is the gift of pleasant repetition?

Maybe it’s being able to do something that doesn’t require a lot of thought or painful effort….but that still lets you feel useful and loved?

“Useful and loved”….hmmmmm.

That’s what it really all comes down to…..no matter what level of “being a winner” someone ever achieves, it’s really all about feeling that someone loves you.

Anybody.

Everybody.

We all need that….so much.

That sounds like a simple couple of needs to satisfy.

Should be….simple.

And, you know…..there’s enough need in the world….enough people clamoring for help…..clamoring for love…that feeling “useful and loved” shouldn’t be an impossible quest.

Maybe that’s the deal….what we put out there is somehow returned….someday….some way.

It’s no mystery….I feed the cat.

I clean the kitchen.

I go to work.

I read a story.

I do….and, then…..do again.

This pleasant repetition is close to heaven.

Knowing I’m loved is good.

AND….I’M DRINKING COFFEE!!

tongue

rolling stone tongue

I heard a story on the radio the other day that was kind of interesting.

It seems that when MIck Jagger was starting out in music, his vocal style was a little too refined for a blues band.

An upper crust British accent just didn’t have the right authenticity when singing the earthy blues music that the band was trying to approximate.

Now, according to the story, Mick was pretty into sports.

During a rough basketball game, he bit off the tip of his tongue after colliding with another player.

And….swallowed it.

He didn’t speak for a week while his tongue healed….and when he did, his voice had changed.

Missing a bit of his tongue altered the way he sang, too.

Suddenly, he was able to sing the blues more closely to the way it should be sung.

Instant “almost authentic”…or, at least, closer to real than it was before.

No little white British boy is ever going to be an authentic bluesman….but the new result wasn’t as glaringly wrong as it had been before.

The point of the story was that we need to recognize that an accident can be an opportunity.

Instead of wallowing in self-pity, we need to look for ways to turn every situation to our advantage….to move on and make lemonade out of lemons.

That’s a pretty amazing bit of musical history….to think that a career could be made out of a collision on the basketball court.

I bit my tongue screwing around on a pogo stick when I was little.

Maybe I should sing the blues more often?

“it’s all over now” The Rolling Stones

the thinnest place

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I heard an interview with Eric Weiner, the author of The Geography of Bliss, on public radio the other day.

He was talking about something that he called “thin places”….places “where the distance between heaven and earth collapses and we’re able to catch glimpses of the divine, or the transcendent or, as I like to think of it, the Infinite Whatever.”

What a great description.

I’ve been in some thin places in my life….but never had a description to encapsulate my awe.

“A thin place” doesn’t even really do the trick…..but it comes as close as any.

How are you ever going to “encapsulate awe”, anyway?

You don’t put the mystery of wonder in a shoebox.

You don’t describe the indescribable.

We took a trip out to Colorado to visit Jenny’s family one year….and went out on the prairie (which is kind of confusing….her family lives in what I guess is a high mountain desert….ringed by tall mountains….) to see some things….like the dump.

The dump.

You’d pass by it if you didn’t know it was there….a flat place out in the desert where people can dump their trash.

The dump is not my “thin place”.

It wasn’t our “go to” destination, anyway. It was just a place we passed through to get to someplace else.

We went to another part of the prairie….close to a mountain range.

It gave me a feeling something like vertigo….made me want to fall to my knees.

So quiet….holy, even….tall mountains all around.

I guess that it was a thin place for me.

It was one of the most beautiful places I’ll ever be.

Thin places can’t be forecasted.

I never could say when one is going to appear.

I can’t say when I’ll be in a thin place…but I know that it doesn’t have to be someplace exotic.

I look at my family and am in a thin place.

Maybe it’s not the place, anyway…maybe it’s where I’m “right” to feel God’s presence?

I need more reminders…everyday.

I need more thin places….and I need to recognize them when they come.

That high desert is so beautiful.

Maybe I need to get back there for a while?

“Colorado” Flying Burrito Brothers

 

Here’s a link to the Eric Weiner article….

 

My daughter took this picture….

another case

“a case of you” cover-Prince

You take a great performance of a great song….a version you’ve never heard before….and it hits home even harder: “what planet do you come from to be able to write like this?”

“A Case of You” is from a Joni Mitchell album called “Blue” that’s been out for a bunch of years.

It’s an old album….but it’s timeless.

If you haven’t ever heard it, brew a pot of tea and sit for a while and give it a good listen.

This is Prince’s version of the song…from a tribute album that he contributed to a couple of years ago.

Male or female….Joni Mitchell is one of the finest songwriters that I’ll ever hear.

She still gets lumped in with the “female singer-songwriters”, though.

You have to be pretty great to transcend gender.

Like that was ever something to transcend in a patriarchal society?

Joni.

Joni does.

 

building for resale

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We watch a lot of “home shows” on TV.

Shows about fixing up an existing house….shows about flipping houses….shows about building new houses…..shows about making your house nicer.

It’s inspiring and irritating.

“Irritating” because it gives us ideas that might be hard to carry out.

What is good that doesn’t take some effort, though?

One of the things that I’ve noticed about most of these shows….especially the shows about “flipping” houses….is that you really need to build with some other “end-user” in mind.

You build in a way that the people who come after you find your work appealing and want to buy the house.

Even if you’re going to live in the house…even if you’re building it for your own family….you have to keep the people who come after you in mind.

You can’t build something that’s unique and special to your own family’s needs and expect to be able to profit from it when you eventually sell your house.

You “build for resale”.

Man.

That kind of runs counterintuitive to any artistic impulse I’ve ever felt.

(Of course, you can do “artwork” with sales in mind. You can paint pictures of ducks or barns or pretty scenes only because you understand the “market”….but, in the end, that’s not (at least in my opinion) “art”. It might be craftmanship….but it’s not art. You may as well be working in a factory making really nice shoes. Which is not to say that a painting of a duck can’t be art….it’s really all about the motivation. Commerce and art are hard to merge, though….usually.)

I like houses that have some personality.

house of windows rustic cabin in the woods

Functionality is important….it’s got to function and make sense…but funky and personal is the way to go.

Who’s going to want to buy “funky and personal”, though?

Maybe a house shouldn’t be “artistically” made?

Maybe a house is just a shell that you personalize (a little) in ways that can be stripped away when you move?

Maybe it’s just a box?

Maybe “build for resale” is just another metaphor for the way we live our lives?

We live for some other place….some other time….and live in a way that all we’re really doing is preparing?

Maybe all we’re doing is trying to set ourselves up for something that we think is going to be better “on down the line”?

You need to build YOUR HOUSE.

You need to LIVE YOUR LIFE.

RIGHT NOW.

That’s something that I don’t really have completely figured out….how to do that.

I don’t have it figured out.

I worry about planning….but I’m not completely up to speed about executing.

I wonder if it’s possible to live in the moment….every moment….and never give yourself over to letting the future cloud the present?

I guess I’d be a grasshopper….fiddling away in a field if I lived like that.

The music might be worth playing….for a while, at least.

The music might be good.

a box of paints

joni-mitchell-painting-dreamland

I wondered this morning how Joni Mitchell was doing.

I haven’t heard much lately.

Of course, I haven’t checked lately, either.

Kind of quiet out there…..the news about Joni.

Then I started thinking about her paintings…..and about how we’ll always see her as a songwriter….and about how, no matter how long or how well she paints, the songwriting is “the thing”….and the painting will be “something less” somehow.

But the painting is really good.

It deserves an audience, too.

It’s the songs that we know, though….the painting is kind of an aberration….something that she does instead of singing.

“a case of you” Joni Mitchell

 

It’s funny how creativity works….or how anything works, really.

You have to pick something…..pick somewhere to “land”….or people can’t wrap their heads around “what you do”.

You can’t be a jack of all trades in a creative world and be taken seriously.

No matter how deep your talent runs.

No matter how deep….and then we only have the time to understand any of it on a pretty superficial level.

I guess that you’d have to be crazy to be too much of a zealous appreciator, though.

Nobody digs too deep into anything….nobody except the mentally ill or the obsessed.

Nobody…..except maybe a creative person on a mission.

“I live in a box of paints”.

Here’s a thought: what if most of the songwriting was just describing something that she really was or longed to be…..a quiet painter…a lonely painter….and, because the music is what we came to know her for….know her as a songwriter and singer….that’s all we let her be?

I guess that nobody “lets someone be something”….maybe accepted her as being a songwriter is the better way to say that.

No matter what success level a person attains, there’s often a secret wish behind the curtain….”I wish I’d been a lion tamer” ….or some other secret longing floating in the background.

No matter how entrenched we become in a career or artistic choice….it’s just something that we chose to be.

It’s something that we “become” because it’s easy for people to wrap their heads around.

We need to be seen as “something”…..for some reason.

We need an easy answer to the strange question, “So…what do you do?”

I’m not a mailman.

I’ve got to be more than that.

Maybe we really live in a box of paints?

Who knows.

“a case of you” Joni Mitchell (from “Both Sides Now”)