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.

 

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.

Cedar Plank Salmon

 

 

Melissa, on Thursday night (for Valentine’s Day), went to McGonigle’s Market down the street to get some fish. A family friend of ours is a chef and works at the market. He suggested some really fresh wild-caught salmon for the grill that had just arrived earlier in the day. Melissa also picked up a few pieces of cedar plank (as a gift for me!) to use. I had never done a cedar plank salmon before but it turned out great. We used salt, pepper, lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh cilantro to go between the wood and the fish for extra flavor.

Salmon

Salmon (5 of 7)
Salmon (4 of 7)

Salmon (6 of 7)

Salmon (7 of 7)

 

 

 

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’…

Photography of the River Market Antique Shop

It’s hard not to get nostalgic in an antique shop. I’ll find something interesting, say an old toy soldier for example sitting on a shelf. So I pick it up, examine his miniature gun and scarred metal body. I feel the weight of the iron, I even notice that musty metallic smell. Then I think about what kind of life this little man has endured… the children he belonged to, the houses he lived in and the places he has traveled over the last 70 some-odd years to end up on the shelf in front of me.

He has his own story that will be forever untold outside of someone’s own imagination or assumptions. I find that fascinating. Only the toy soldier knows the truth about the past.

That goes for everything in the store. Each and every item from a thimble to a set of golf clubs has passed through generations of people who were proud to say it was theirs (well, I assume were proud). Did these things just sit in a forgotten corner of the house like they do now in the store? Or did they somehow change the course of someone’s life entirely? Who knows.

With THAT said… here are some pics taken with the iPhone of some of those forgotten objects of our past.

Welcome to the River Market Antique Shop in Kansas City, MO.

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River Market Antiques.

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Old records.

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Oil cans.

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Why not?

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Close-up of a rusted metal lawn chair. I like the colors and textures.

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Even the building itself was an antique… light switches.

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Price Tag.

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Red Heels.

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Typical find in an antique shop… just an old doll.

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18 holes anyone?

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The edge of an old wooden desk.

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Did somebody say Hand Grenades? I thought the box had some character.

Stepping Outside My Bubble of Self-Pity

I have recently developed a bad habit that I couldn’t shake until this last weekend. The habit is a trap you can fall into when your vision and focus is too narrow (and selfish). I was stressed out and so bogged down with my immediate stresses with work and life that I began moping around the house looking for ways to feel sorry for myself. It wasn’t even one thing in particular… just a pile of meaningless baggage that continued to manifest itself into something bigger than it needed to be.

So sometimes in order to appreciate the immense blessings you have, it requires stepping outside your tiny little bubble of self-pity to see things through a different lens. Some people I know actually do this quite a bit (in the form of community outreach or even traveling to help others in need during a mission trip).

I’m not one of those people. Melissa and I are inspired to change that though.

Last weekend through our church, Church of the Resurrection Downtown, we had the opportunity to play a part of something outside our own world of problems. For me it meant getting invited to move desks and furniture into a brand new Charter School in downtown KC called Crossroads Academy of Kansas City http://crossroadsacademykc.org (check out their site they have a great mission and story).

I know our helping hands meant so much to the staff and teachers, but I ended up helping myself more than anyone else.

I met many people from different walks of life who were all there to help. Throughout the morning I began to listen to some of their stories. Everyone has stress, but we all have something more powerful to defeat the slump- a choice. A choice to shift your focus onto something other than yourself. And be happy with it.

What gave me the ability to choose to focus on something other than myself, specifically the blessings God has given me, was surprisingly simple and unexpected. Smiles. Yep, just a smile. The hundreds of folks I rubbed shoulders with throughout the day were just smiling and laughing, even dancing in the street outside the new school. Just happy to help! I’m not naive enough to doubt some of them (maybe all of them), are battling their own unique circumstances that can break you, hurt you, or stress you out. But they chose to embrace happiness- living in the moment, living for something bigger than their own problems.

So when I think about last weekend, I smile, too.

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Outside the school on 10th and Central.

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Moving desks.

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Still a lot to do before their first day of school.

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Awesome lighting and rooms.

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The little details… sunflowers at the entrance.

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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