there’s something happening here

01 For What It’s Worth

I couldn’t find the Buffalo Springfield song…but here’s a version by Keb Mo’.




















I couldn’t think of a thing to write about this morning.

Then I “got to thinkin’ ” about it and came to the conclusion that it was pretty weak not to be able to think of anything to write about.

If I am breathing, something is happening around me.

There’s always going to be something to write about.

Yesterday, we went out and roamed around, went up to the bagel store and got some bagels, drove up to Asheville and watched a movie at the dollar theater, drove back down and picked up some lumber at Lowes.

We had a full day of it.

“Nothing to write about”?


Some of what made yesterday a little interesting…(and I say “interesting” because the experience is so new…soon it will be as unconscious as most of the things that I do)…is that my “new driver teenage son” drove me into town in the little Toyota truck….and then drove me and the lumber back in the evening when we’d finished our “doins” up in Asheville.

We take most milestones for granted.  I don’t know why that is.  Driving seems to be one of the big ones…births, graduations, weddings are other huge milestones. There are a lot of milestones in a life.

I’m not saying we don’t notice that they’re important.  It’s just that in the moment I think we’re so caught up in the event that we don’t really appreciate how big a deal they are.

We think, “How’re we going to pay the caterer?” or “My insurance is really going to go up NOW!!” and get distracted.

We understand…but we don’t really notice.  Maybe we notice after the fact.  I don’t really know.  It’s hard to be mindful of every moment.

But it’s a big deal to have your child drive you.

It’s a big deal to have your child aim a 2000 lb hunk of metal with wheels on it…and to suppose that they are going to do their best not to hit, scrape, bump, plow through, go up, go down, flip over, gotoofasttooslow, or even find a way to bounce more than they should….all of this while you are held to the seat with thick and strong nylon straps.

And the most important part of the experience is to convey to the young adult…. your young adult, your child that you raised….that they are competent and capable.

It’s important to convey that they are going to be able to make this leap towards adulthood…that someone on the other trapeze is going to catch them when they let go of the bar.

Maybe that’s not a good analogy.  Maybe to say that it’s going to be a soft landing when they clear that 28th school bus is more fitting when they’re doing their first driving.

Anyway….it’s a gift that keeps on giving if you can let your children know that you have faith in them…no matter how frantically you scan the road ahead for all the kooks who might get in their way.

You can’t let your face show the concern you have for their well-being. Don’t let them smell the fear.

You just have to hand them the keys.

There is always something going on.

I am breathing.

pecking order


We have 8 chickens.

Five of those chickens are hens, and the rest are roosters.

Three roosters are too many by about a margin of 2.

We should get rid of two of our roosters.

There…that’s pretty straightforward.  We need to get rid of two of our roosters.

I think that we’ve decided that the ones that we want to get rid of are the ones that are currently down with the hens in the coop.

That’s not really the point of this story, though.

We have three roosters.  We decided that a bunch of roosters fighting each other in the coop was a bad mix…so we took two of the roosters out and let them “free range”.

I guess that “free range” means that they take up residence on the railing outside our bedroom window and take dumps on the porch all night so that they’re not bound up when they start crowing at five in the morning.

At least that’s my experience with the phrase “free range”.

One of the roosters on the porch has an extremely robust and masculine crow.  He is the alpha rooster and is very impressive.

The other rooster has a weak and wheezy crow.  It’s a rattly exhalation…a weird asterisk or something to the strong rooster’s crow…not even loud enough to be considered an exclamation point if it was only punctuation to a real rooster sound.

But lately the other rooster has found his way back into the coop and now roosts alongside the rooster that we’d let stay in the coop.  I don’t know if he’s growing up…or if it’s just a matter of not having the magnificent “alpha rooster” to draw comparisons to…but I think I heard him crow in a way that would invite comparisons to a “real man” rooster.

He sounded almost normal.

Maybe he got over his shyness when he didn’t feel so different…when he didn’t have the ultimate crow around to shame him.

I don’t really know.

I do know that the two roosters down in the coop don’t really fight each other all that much.  Maybe it’s a matter of the rooster that was in the coop continuously not being threatened by the “new rooster”.  I don’t think the returning rooster is really very macho.

I hear him down there, though.  I hear his new crow.  I think he’s “coming into his own”.

His new crow makes me believe in his potential again.  He’s not just a “wheezy joke” anymore.

My “boy” is becoming a “man”.

This whole rooster escapade is just another reminder to me that sometimes it’s just a slight change in venue that lets us “come into our power”.

The trip down to the coop is a long way from being “intercontinental” (or anything close).

The rooster didn’t have to run very far on his little dinosaur legs to get back in with the hens.

But what a difference it sounds like it’s made in his young rooster life.

I love travel, too.

Helps me get my crow on.

the bad percentage


I’ve been alive, let’s see….

53 years X 365 days = 19,345

Then add the days so far in this year (past my birthday in April…)  19,345 + 127 = 19,472

Then, if I was going to be completely accurate ( why not, huh?) I could add in the 9 months of a typical gestation period.  From what I remember of it, it came off without too many hitches.

So…19345 + 127 + 9 months X the average 30 days per…let’s say 270 days….so that would be a total of 19,742.



During that time, I don’t think there’s been too many days (except when I was deep in the woods on a hike or something) that I haven’t been exposed to the NEWS in some form.

Even when I was in the womb, I’m sure the television was on at some point….or someone was reading a newspaper out loud, or talking over coffee about the days events.  I’m sure that I was soaking all the news up by osmosis, and I bet I understood some of it even though I couldn’t speak English at the time.

That’s almost 20,000 days of soaking up news that, and I’ll be charitable to both the world and the news media here because I need to for my sake, is probably negative news at least 25% or more of the time.  Occasionally, it’s only 12.5%…but usually it’s a much higher percentage of negativity.

So what does that mean?  Does it mean that I was only exposed to negative news 5000 of my 20000 days of living?

No, it means that of my 20,000 days, only 20,000 contained some kind of bad news.  The good thing is that of the stories the people in the media told me, only a quarter of them were really disturbing and negative.

I’ve heard about all different kinds of killers…sanctioned in war and random on the streets…rapers, burners, wreckers, cheaters, shysters (small time and politicians), guys that didn’t clean the pool right,guys who stole for fun, crazy folks incarcerated and loose, and a whole lot more horrible weirdness that I would never have the opportunity to know about if I didn’t watch the NEWS.

Unless….unless…unless…unless this scenario played out:

Let’s say I never watch the news.  It’s a new matter of principle.  I decide that the negativity and fear may have a place in my life…but that I don’t want to stoke it with the daily catalog of worldwide misfortune….so I don’t watch the news.

I don’t need any help figuring out what to worry about.

Even though I may decide not to feed the flames of paranoia with the help of our news media, I always seem to find someone who is willing to pull up “the bad percentage” and report something that clues me in that the world can be a pretty crappy place after all.

It’s good to have the “open manhole” pointed out to you before you fall down into the sewer, but when the open manhole is in Paraguay, and it was open in 1983, and someone told me that someone’s sister knew a man who had been in the service with a cook who’d been married to a woman whose cousin had trained tigers…and, let me slow down for a miniute…it’s getting confusing…let’s just say that the tiger ate someone who was about to fall down into a manhole whose cover was left off once….BY A NAZI WAR CRIMINAL!!!


There are bad things that happen in the world. I’ve had 20,000 days to confirm that.

Stay ever vigilante.

But, you know, there have been 20,000 days of good things, too. There have been 20,000 days of small kindnesses and minor miracles, day after day of sunsets and sunrises, days full of the possibility of something good happening before the day was over.

Stay ever vigilante when you’re watching for those days, too.

I’m not a Pollyanna ….but I do believe in the expectation of a positive outcome.  It’s not always going to happen, sometimes horribly sad things happen that seem to linger for a while…but it’s going to happen sooner or later.

That is, whether I let the news media into my head or not, my reality.

10 All Things Must Pass

sharpening the ax

PaulBunyan-mI have a knife that has ridden in my pocket for a number of years.

It’s been sharpened so often that the blade is getting kind of thin.  The main blade is pretty sharp….but a lot of the metal is gone now…sharpened away.  It’s still good…but it’s not as substantial as it once was.

I was thinking about a quote that Abraham Lincoln is given credit for.  When I’m driving the mail, I have some time to think in between boxes.

The quote was:

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax

What a great quote…and what a great life lesson.

Get your “ducks in a row” before you start something. Make sure that you and your tools are ready so that you can do the job efficiently.

Good advice.

But what if we tweaked that quote a little to say,

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first six sharpening the ax

What if preparation becomes the most formidable weapon in your arsenal?

What if your blade is getting thin because you keep sharpening it in expectation of the cut that never comes?

I have a lot of books about how to do things.  I’ve read a good number of them…the others lay in wait for the right moment to seek out their wisdom.

I’m not really any farther along in my understanding of how to do things, though…even after all my book buying and reading.

Most of the things that I’ve learned, I’ve figured out because I look at the end results of my earlier efforts and say, “Oh….that’s how you’re not supposed to do it?  Oh….”.

The only lessons that stick for me are the ones that are learned through experience….and a lot of those lessons are forgotten,  and have to be repeated at least a couple of times.

For me, the quote might be more appropriate if it said something like this:

If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend the first hour wailing on it with my dull ax, the second hour looking for my file, the third hour sharpening my ax, the fourth hour wailing on the tree again.  I would spend the fifth hour going to buy gas for the chainsaw…and then spend my sixth and final hour cutting down the tree.

It is not as elegant a solution as Abraham Lincoln’s.

I guess that in the six hour time frame, it accomplishes the objective.  Just not as calmly as “sharpening the ax” and cutting down the tree when the tool is ready to do the job.

It’s a lot more frantic and willy nilly.

I try to prepare as “best I can”.

But sometimes you just have to take some leaps with a dull ax in tow…make a move before you’re ready… just to see what might happen.

If you never drive the car because you’re afraid you might get a flat tire, you don’t get very far down the road.

In my head, I have an expectation of big adventures.  I believe in a world that has a lot to show us.

Maybe it’s time to stop “sharpening my ax” and start chopping.









dancing in the street

Here’s the last two parts of the video those two guys made about the Whittier Hotel in Detroit.

Some of the language is kind of rough…they drop the “f-bomb” fairly frequently….so be prepared for that.

I’m fascinated with Detroit.

Why something falls so far…and seems to keep falling…is, thankfully, completely foreign to my experience.

Look at this hotel…at one point it was so beautiful.

Now, it’s just a big reminder of something that used to be good.

That’s crazy.

I was thinking about this old Motown song while I was driving the mail around in an earth-shaking downpour yesterday.

The version here is by David Bowie, but the original was a huge hit for Martha and the Vandellas (and Motown) in 1964.

That would have been a high point for both Motown and the “Motor City”.

How does one of the wealthiest and most prosperous cities in the world fall so far?  It’s a crazy, crazy, crazy thing.

Detroit was huge.  The automobile industry was pumping out great cars, the music coming out of Detroit was extremely influential and popular…people were moving to Detroit for a better life.

Then it started to change…and now you have beautiful buildings like this that lay vacant and decaying…and Detroit is bankrupt.

Motown moved out of Detroit in 1972…but you can’t blame Motown for a fall this deep.

Maybe the people just lost heart or something…I can’t figure it out.

I’ll probably do more posts on Detroit in the future.

It’s a strange new frontier.

18 Dancing in the Street

it’s a dollhouse…a starter house…a fixer upper

There are a large number of YouTube videos of abandoned houses that I ran across while looking for “log cabin” videos.

You can find just about anything on YouTube.


This tour reminded me of the first walk through I made when I found our house.  It had been vacant for a long time, then purchased and partially gutted by a young and hopeful couple, then sold to us when they gave up on it.

Actually, our house wasn’t quite as creepy as this one…but almost.

A vacant house can get weird fast.

The deeper into this house she gets the more I realize that our little gutted house was actually kind of “homey”.  This house is pretty rough.

That’s always a weird thing, to walk through an abandoned house.  It’s kind of strange to be able to sit in your dry and comfortable house and watch videos of other people walking through creepy abandoned houses while you drink your morning coffee.

There’s all sorts of houses….mansions, farm houses, bungalows….all sorts of houses.

It’s weird how we just let things go….for whatever reason.

One more video and then I’ll quit…

Here’s a video from up in Detroit…abandoned hotel.



I watched this the other day  on one of the “weird channels” that we get on Dish Network .

We have a really limited channel selection because I found a super cheap package that I think they sometimes offer hoping to entice people to upgrade.

I’m not going to upgrade.

I’m too cheap.

Anyway, in addition to the 20 or so channels we get…plus the local stations…we have a bunch of programming that I never check out down past our last “real” channel.

These channels are down in the 900’s….way down the “dial”.

Unless you were really bored you wouldn’t even know they were there.

This movie was playing on a channel called FSTV…Free Speech TV.

I saw the last part of this movie and loved it.  The version I saw was subtitled in English so it was a little easier to understand…but I’m going to include the only version I could find on YouTube that unfortunately is only in Spanish.

It’s a little harder for us “gringos” to understand…but the movie is mostly visual so it should “translate” OK.

The movie takes place for the most part in an area of Mexico that is called Banco Chinchorro…a large coral reef.

It’s a beautiful movie.

I see a lot of movies.  I really like movies quite a bit.

This is one of the memorable ones I’ve seen.

Here’s a review from Rotten Tomatoes….

Anyway, it’s worth seeking out.

Here’s the Spanish language,non-subtitled version from YouTube….

parents are sneakers

mother and baby silhouetted at sunrise kenya pictures

I realized this morning that, off and on depending on the ages of our children, I’ve spent a good portion of my adult life saying, “Shhhhh….you might wake her/him”.

That’s a pretty long time to be worried about how waking one of the “little people” up is going to change our “quiet time” in the morning or evening.

We fear our children.  We recognize their power.

This morning, our almost 4-year-old got up before the roosters were awake.

I get up at 5.  Nate got up at 5:05.

Jenny got up with Nate… so we’re all up.

The two adults in the triumvirate of early morning fun didn’t even stand a chance this morning.

We didn’t even have a shot at saying, “Shhhhhh….you might wake…”.

We didn’t even have a shot.

The thing about parenting is that it really is a unifying thing.  There are events and circumstances that all parents have in common.  Somewhere, in some foreign land, at some time during the early morning or early evening hours, in whatever language has been chosen to serve that country’s needs, a parent is going to be saying, “shhhhh…quiet….you might wake the baby…”.

What bigger issue do we have than recognizing how waking a child up is going to screw up our quiet time?

( A short disclaimer:  I love my kids.  I have a blast with them.  I enjoy the heck out of their company.  And…I protect my wife’s and my quiet time by creeping around and being as quiet as I can so that I don’t wake them up prematurely.  That’s just how I roll.  Now two of our children are teenagers and I don’t have to worry about them waking up prematurely.  They sleep and sleep in the morning….no creeping around them…it’s just the little one who we sneak around.)

Back to the “citizen of the world” thought.  If we had to share babysitting duties with some of these countries that have decided they want to kill us (or vice versa)…and they had an opportunity to come home after a raucous hummus fest to find us with the kids asleep and they could ask us (through an interpreter) , “How’d it go? Were the kids good?”….well….I don’t see how we could continue to feel like killing each other.

We forget that most of the major things that parents do are exactly the same the world over.

Russians sneak.  Chinese people sneak.  Norwegians sneak. Iraqi people sneak. African people sneak. South American people sneak.

Parents are sneakers.

That’s something that should unite us.  We should be banding together to figure out how to successfully “sneak” around these little guys.  That should be our “common foe”…the premature waking up of a young family member.

I don’t know who to contact about this revelation.  Maybe the UN?  State Department?

Really, though,  who am I kidding?  Parents the world over are probably too tired and distracted to work very hard at getting along.  They have too much on their plates dealing with their own families to worry about how to get along with mine.

But the “shared babysitting duties diplomacy” is a pretty practical way of getting us all on the page we’re really already on.

“Shhhhhh….you might wake someone….somewhere.”

Malcolm in the Wilderness

I made fun of this video when I first saw it.

I watched it…my smug attitude barely in check…and thought, “Good gosh…this guy is in for a bruising.  Imagine him living off the land?  Holy smokes…it’s going to be a train wreck.”

But then I thought about my own limited experience “living in the wilderness”.

When we moved down here, the road was dirt and it felt like living out in the woods.

Now the road is paved, and it feels like we’re in another subdivision.

I have a lot of books about living in the woods…a lot of books about survival and cabin building and making things work…but when it comes down to it, I’m just a doofus trying to figure any of it out.

I guess that at this point I’ve figured out that it’s not about the books I’ve read or the movies I’ve watched…it’s about the nails I’ve bent and the things I’ve actually built.  It’s about my life… not the things I’ve “absorbed” that other people have done.

So for me to have any attitude about some young guy’s aspirations is ridiculous.  Except for my inability to grow a good crop of dreadlocks…or any hair on top of my noggin now…this guy is me…all philosophy and inexperience…ready to get in over his head and trying to figure stuff out on the way back to the surface.

I saw a video about a guy getting his internet installed in his “wilderness” Alaska cabin.  He was getting a HughesNet system installed so they could have internet and a VOIP phone.

It doesn’t feel like wilderness to me when you have internet service.

I don’t know how far out we’d need to get for it to feel like we were living out “in the wilderness”.

It’s all trial by voluminous error.  I’ve made some goofy, goofy, goofy mistakes.  I’ve made mistakes that I’m sure made our lives a lot harder than they needed to be.

Maybe getting used to doing things in ways that are a little more sophisticated and “right” is what keeps this from feeling like a “desperate wilderness experience”.

This guy, Malcolm, has a dream and it’s a “right” dream.  Living out in the country is the way to go.

More power to you and your dream, Malcolm.


it’s a small world after all

I don’t have many chances to quote American actor Matthew McConaughey…the opportunity just doesn’t present itself very often…but he has a saying that I’m going to repeat here….

I think it came from the first movie I saw him in…Dazed and Confused

The quote was “Just Keep Livin’ “.

This guy is the perfect example of that.

Holy Smokes…what a journey…Thailand to America, soldier to Asian Redneck.

I found this video looking for films about “wilderness living”.  What is a deeper wilderness experience than eating a cobra?  It puts most of our concepts of “roughing it” in a new perspective.

It’s kind of a quieter philosophy than an American movie star’s…he’s probably too busy living to be conscious of “just keep livin’ “….but it runs parallel to it.

Breathe in, breathe out….day in and day out…move, move, move…and you have a life.

Just Keep Livin’.

This fellow is a pretty amazing guy.  The thing that amazes me the most when I think about it a little is that he’s one amazing story in a sea of amazing stories.

We all have some kind of history that’s amazing.

And it’s a movable feast…every day we add to that history…every day brings new opportunities.

Time marches on…I need to remember to join the parade every day.