She Waits

California waits for us to come back home like a dog when you leave for work in the morning. But we never come back. So she sits and waits, starves, goes thirsty. Maybe someday? Maybe. Maybe the dog dies waiting.

My skin and nose taste and smell the salty air; the familiar touch of a light sea breeze against my skin. It’s her again.

On the coast in Santa Barbara on a red brick patio with black iron railings. With Spanish tile side tables hosting a cheap glass of red wine. Ceramic lizards and vines crawl up the side of a white stucco and green-shuttered wall that, at some point, can see the ocean. It’s here where my mind begins to stray, when she senses my vulnerability and lures me into thinking what’s possible. What is life without risk. See? I’m rationalizing again.

To my left are the french doors leading into our hotel room cottage where my wife curls her hair and tries on high-heels. Every fifteen minutes she walks outside where I sit to ask how she looks. “Beautiful” I say. She smiles and walks back in.

To my right is a perfectly manicured stream of water with bubbling pipes and lights that turn on at night. A brick wall contains the stream, atop of which sit several dozen giant clay pots with plants I can’t pronounce. And behind them, a variety of palm trees barring grape-like fruits. Then there’s the sun. Oh, that sun- hanging in an always-cloudless sky, adding depth and light to the canopy of plants where it moves against waxy green leaves ever so slightly to the rhythm of the pacific breeze that marches inland towards the mountains. It feels like a bit of a dream honestly. To realize, every couple of years when we visit California, that we took every bit of it for granted. It’s true. And now she does her damnedest to turn us jealous. I would be lying if I said her attempts were ineffective.

 

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Waterdrops

The other night I was on a plane flying from Newark, New Jersey to Houston, Texas. The flight had actually been delayed several hours due to thunderstorms over the East coast. Once we were finally airborne, I glanced outside the passenger window and became fixated on the red navigation lights flashing from the wing. I peered closer, seeing as how the light illuminated, just for a brief second, the thousands of descending raindrops falling towards the earth. “What a journey they must have, from 25,000 feet” I thought to myself. “A 10 minute free-fall.”

…eventually they must land.

Perhaps atop a small Redbud tree in someone’s backyard. That’s where I noticed these particular drops anyway.

Days after my trip home, I had wandered outside and into the backyard to play fetch with Bonnie when the bright little water beads caught my eye. “Fascinating” I thought. With their odd elasticity, the droplets clung to tiny buds, leaves, and pine needles for dear life, refusing an inevitable fate of being absorbed by the soggy ground below.

From 25,000 feet they had recently fallen, and it was here they had landed; suspended freely above the earth in a perfect balance between gravity and the upward force of a delicate leaf. It was in this brief moment of time I started taking pictures- before the wind or more rain could disturb their fragile resting place. Before the tug of the Earth, with it’s grip on heavy water molecule that began a plight high up in the clouds, could force the droplet to finally fall.

Signs of Spring

 

Last Summer was miserably hot. I remember the weather guy saying Kansas City had 20 or more days with 100+ degree heat. It was also bone dry. No rain to give the parched earth any relief of the blazing sun.

 

Then, this past winter, three massive snow storms (in March) pounded the midwest, shutting the city down for days on end. Winter was bitter cold and simply refused to leave. Only until this past week did we see and feel the first signs of Spring. And oh how sweet it is!

Redbud and Bradford Pear trees, which I thought might have actually died from the harsh Summer have begun to bud leaves, unfurling from their tiny housing to soak in the Spring sun.

Even Melissa’s small herb garden, planted in a large pot on the deck, showed signs of life. We peeled off a top layer of dead leaves and sticks to reveal green sprouts of lemon thyme, rosemary, mint, basil, and oregano. Even in their infancy, the little shoots and tiny leaves smelled wonderfully of their distinct scents.

 

 

Snow-mageddon 2013: Pictures of a Frozen World

It will snow a few of times a year in Kansas City, but nothing like this. Last Thursday it snowed 12 inches. We couldn’t even make it out of the house for nearly two days.

Then, only four days later, another storm system moved in and dumped another foot. During this 2nd round, the heavy snow stuck to every tree limb and powerline, rendering them weak and useless. Our power went out, so we have set up camp at Mom and Dad’s a few miles down the road to stay warm. As hard as it is to shovel countless driveways and attempt to take the Jeep out to concur the cold frozen tundra, the snow-covered neighborhoods lend to us a fascinating beauty.

You step outside and the world is dampened and muted, a soft silence where the hustle and bustle has been forced to a screeching halt. As you walk out of the house and peer up through the white-covered trees, time and space seem suspended. As inconvenient and annoying as the snow storm is, I can’t help but smile. It is a rather breathtaking scene.

The pictures below are from our journeys over the last 5 days.

Colorado Road Trip (Part 2)

A weekend trip, at most, consists of a few hours in the car to find a new adventure. Melissa and I took the “weekend get-away” to another level when we drove through Kansas flat-lands for 9 hours until we hit the Rocky Mountains. Specifically, Chautauqua Park as you see below.

Here are a few more pictures from the (now old-school) iPhone 4.

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The weekend we were there was the last weekend before heavy snow-fall in Aspen and surrounding high-elevation ski-towns.

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A view of the “Flatirons” from below.

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Over-looking Boulder, CO from atop a roadside bluff.

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A winding road off of I-70 led us to a trail around 10-11,000 feet.

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Glacier lake in the summer. Off in the distance, not pictured, a naked man with his 4 large dogs jumped from a cliff into the ice-cold waters below. Just sayin’…

My Babies!!!

The last week of my life I have patiently awaited the arrival of my new-born babies to appear. Finally they have!

Meet my new grass.

It’s hard to describe my life before these little ones became a part of it. When I first met them, on a cool morning late this week, I immediately fell in love

There is some truth to how proud I am of the hard-earned money and time spent to have some additional blades of grass break through a dusty clump of ground where the Summer drought sucked the life out of the earth. Here are some pictures.

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Some little frog hair.

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You can make it little guys, push through!

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My yard becoming alive once again. Fescue and Kentucky Blue grass.

A Buzzard’s Life and Mine

 

Earlier today I drove down the highway on my way to see a client for work. I passed through the city until the buildings turned into fields. This particular client was located in a town called Grain Valley, Missouri. An RV dealership no-less; About 40 minutes away.

With this much “windshield time” as we call it in sales, I get ample opportunity to listen to the radio and collect my thoughts.

Today my thoughts wandered.

I looked up from behind the wheel to see a buzzard high up in the sky circling. Probably searching for some carcass to eat…

“How nice,” I thought, “would it feel to be that bird from time to time- completely unaware and unaffected from real world problems. From the daily grind, work, paying bills, grocery shopping, managing a crammed calendar of events, stress. From the constant curveballs of life in general! He just floats way up there, feeling the wind through his feathers- never to deal with the complexities and pressures of our fast-paced and judgmental society. Simplicity and peace. To him, he merely exists. To him, that is enough.

I smiled to myself, thinking of the buzzard; Suddenly a bit envious of him.

“What problems does he have?” I thought next.

I came to realize he has a lot. Then my feelings started to change…

I really started thinking about it- Every day this bird wakes up just to try to stay alive. To battle heat or bone-chilling cold weather, to find something to eat or drink (if it’s lucky). To defend himself against predators that want to kill it. This bird lives a life of constant struggle and fear, a life of physical pain- knowing no real emotions and not even aware of his own purpose. Not understanding what could be beyond his own life. Just fight or flight.

A life that goes un-noticed. He feels no love.

If he only knew how easy I really do have it. Wouldn’t this bird laugh? Wouldn’t he mock the life I live?

I go to work and deal with some stress, yes, but I get to wake up knowing I have abundant food, clean water, a beautiful house and am safe from harm. I have healthcare, medicine, education, and opportunity. At every single turn in my existence, there is something or someone to assist me. I am surrounded by love. I have my wife.

It’s not even fair.

Then I smiled to myself once again, but this time thinking of my life. I bet that buzzard would be rather envious of me.

I did think of one exception to the rule though- and that would be the family dog.

Early Mornin’ Fishin’

We put the boats in around 5:45 am on Clinton Lake right outside of Lawrence, KS. The morning was a warm 76 degrees as the sun began to rise through some clouds.

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The water that early was like glass. Getting the boats ready.

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Trolling through some dead timber for bass. Not much luck on this day.

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I Am a Grape. (A Short Story)

I am a grape. But before I was born…

Farmhands cultivated and raised a deciduous woody vine. From the tilled earth my little parent plant slowly pressed from the darkness of ground toward the light of day, all the while maturing and growing.

Want to know the most exciting part of my story? This vine eventually gave way to hundreds of fruiting berry clusters!

You may have guessed that in one of those clusters you can find me- with my brothers and sisters of course.

We are a lucky bunch, I’ve come to realize.

Every morning we watch the sun rise. From our vantage point we look down upon rows and rows of other vines. Thousands (if I had to guess). Just like us.

Morning is my favorite time of day, when the Sonoma valley below draws in moist air from the Pacific.

Our hanging cluster catches this cool air and from our hillside perch, we sway and bob, albeit ever so slightly, to the damp breeze. Like napping in a hammock.

The daytime, especially in the Summer, can get very hot though. To pass the time we play games like ‘I Spy With My Little Eye’ or Charades. One day I pretended to be a blueberry. That one got some laughs.

Then, at the end of a long day of ripening, when the sun touches the ground and shadows fill the valleys, a fog sometimes forms and covers some of us. It’s not scary to me- in fact, the fog feels safe…

Then we sleep. My skin is stretched tight, having acted as a permeable sponge to absorb the tasteful elements of the valley. I’ve been told that’s part of our charm-

Overall, it’s a happy life. The life of a grape.

Weeks and months go by- the days tend to blend together. The subtle changes in weather help to denote the passing of time. But the end of Summer has finally arrived.

Although the air is cooler, everything else is predictable. The rising and setting of the sun, the farmhands that occasionally check our vine, and the valley itself. We are all but one.

Until one day…

Everything I thought I knew about the world came crashing down, all at once! It was harvest week. I was yanked from my roost- separated from my brothers and sisters and thrown into a spinning vortex of metal machinery and loud noise.

My light went dark.

…I don’t know how much time passed in between, but I eventually woke up from the harvest. When I did, I felt funny.

I smelled an enticing aroma, and was surrounded by a warm and fuzzy pool of purple. I was light-headed, a floating spirit completely detached from the physical fruit I once was. Once I got used to this new feeling, I began to really like it!

My purpose, it turns out, was something much different from what I had ever imagined.

Wine.