I met friends for supper at Red Lobster last night. While the Girl and I waited outside for a few minutes (after a nice walk around the perimeter of the property), I noticed the juxtaposition of the flags, mast, and moon in the darkening sky. So, I grabbed the capture.
The lesson, or at least one lesson, was to be aware. So many times I wander through this world too far in my head. I don’t let me eyes, and more specifically my mind, venture out from the inner space between my ears and take in this great big world. I finished Kennerly’s book a few days ago. One of his big themes was to look, because photographers have a different way of looking at the world. They see color, contrast, geometry, moment, composition, and a host of other small things that go into making a good capture, a good photograph.
That cannot happen when I’m in my head. I lose awareness of what’s going on about me and I lose connection with this world, God’s creation. I know I’ll drop into a reverie this morning when we walk. It’s part of the walking process for me. I like to think while the Girl and I are exercising.
But, I also like to interact with her while we’re exercising. She’s very interactive, when she’s not in Full Terrier Mode. We have a lot of fun interacting and the play time at the end of the walk is good for both of us.
A tired dog is a happy dog… And, I think, the same goes for an old man. But, even more than that, there is a time to spend in inner space and a time to be more aware of God’s creation — to take part in being in that creation, to be thankful for that gift. I’m learning.
While walking in Higinbotham Park the last few days, the Girl and I pass this sculpture every time we round the track. One morning, I decided that an image of it would be required. Yesterday morning we stopped briefly to check the name of this sculpture, but the plaque was missing from the base.
Therefore, I decided to call it The Heart of Texas for no good reason, other than that’s what came to me when I look at it.
Over the last few years, I gradually collected all of the Winter’s Solstice recordings produced by Windham Hills Records, which is now owned by Sony. I play these collections of songs from Windham Hills artists during the holiday season, along with some other favorite music that celebrates the season.
When I snagged a copy of Winter’s Solstice VI, I discovered the track Yesterday’s Rain written and recorded by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden, a guitarist and composer of much skill. I was immediately drawn into the deep romantic vibe of this song.
When Wife died, this song somehow became deeply linked with my loss. I feel it every time I play this song. But, along with that deep sense of loss, of longing for what is now gone, there is also joy. There is joy in what we shared all those years. There is joy in remembering the season during which we celebrate the Christ’s birth. There is joy in remembering how Wife loved this season, loved finding the right gift (to the point of being obsessive-compulsive about it), and how she loved playing the Santa Claus role, even after all the kids had grown far past that myth.
It didn’t matter. We all loved her enthusiasm and excitement. It’s a good thing. The memories are good, if poignant. The song is an absolute gem.
The other afternoon we were hanging out in our room, relaxing. The hall was unusually busy — probably someone moving in or out. In any event, there were lots of unusual noises coming from the hall. She was totally creeped out. So, I grabbed the capture.
After church and brunch with dear friends, the Girl and I returned to our temporary lodging in west Lubbock. We ran from the 4Runner to the door, not wanting to be out in the weather any longer than necessary. Rain pelted the west-facing window off and on all afternoon. It was not all that cold, in the mid-40F range. But that wind made it very cold.
The view from my window illustrated that feeling. So, I retrieved my iPhone from its case and made the capture.
It is Saturday morning, here in Lubbock, as I write this. I’ll probably backdate it to post about noon, so bear with me. The Girl and I have been out for a nice, long walk. We’ve been to the grocery store to reprovision. We’ve both eaten. She’s napping while I ruminate. It’s a good Saturday morning.
It’s still Fall here in Lubbock. There’s been some cold weather, but many of the trees still have some color. The other morning, when a bit of sun shone during Walkies at Higinbotham Park, the warm light bathed the foreground trees and the far shore of the playa with gold. It was worth the pause for a capture. So I’ll share.
Many times I’ve written how Saturdays are a kind of mix for me. Wife and I loved running errands together on Saturdays. After a busy week, it was fun to spend the time together, handle the chores and errands that demanded some attention, and then grab a bite to eat at one of our regular haunts. Sometimes that meant Sonic for burgers, tots, and a shake; sometimes it meant something a bit less fast-foodie and more of a sit-down meal. Regardless, those are such great memories. I will cherish them forever.
It’s also true that she died early one Saturday morning in January 2013. It was a time of great darkness for me, a time of soul-rending trial, and a poignant memory to go with all those good times. So, Saturdays are always a mix for me. But, I’ll take that mix. It is my history, it honors Wife, and it is part of who I am. It is good.
I’ve been thinking a lot this week. Yesterday evening and during Walkies this morning, it occurred to me that the last few months, and specifically the last couple of weeks, have been a time of healing for me. Let me explain.
Nearly three years ago, Wife died. The following year was one of great sadness, lack of motivation, emotional and intellectual drifting. When she died, not only was the immediate busy-ness of day-to-day care abruptly ended, but all the energy leading up to that moment dissipated in what seemed like an explosion of emotional energy. In the aftermath of that detonation, I was left without a compass.
A few months later I offered my resignation when it appeared that no more work in my discipline specialty was coming and I was assigned a general civil engineering project. I could have done the project, with some additional study. But I spent many years working on my skills and decided I really did not want to work on general civil projects. Over the course of a few hours, I decided it was time to move on.
Although I offered my resignation, it was rejected by my principal engineer. So, I soldiered on over the next two years, doing my best to find work in western Nevada and in Texas. Work was found, but it was insufficient to support my role in the company. Therefore, in the end, I resigned and it was accepted. I completed the process that I started two years earlier. In truth, when I made that decision to resign in 2013, I never really got my head back into my job. Intellectually and emotionally I had resigned and I never got past that.
I decided to sell my house and clear most of my obligations. The first family that walked into the house made an offer over my asking price with no conditions. My house literally sold the first day to the first visitor. If that is not God’s work, then serendipity was extraordinarily active that day. It took a few weeks for all the details to sort out and it was clear that the sale was final, so I was a bit pressured to get my things out of the house and into storage. I wanted to reduce my accumulation more than I did, but that was not in the plan. Therefore, Older Son and I moved most of my things went into storage, I sent Older Son (who was instrumental in getting through all that) back home, and I spent a little more time in Reno working on project work and preparing to go visit friends and family.
I now work for myself and work part-time. It isn’t qute enough to support me, but is enough to stretch my time before I have to make a decision about retiring, finding another job, or really committing to making my business pay the bills.
I spent a couple months with Daughter and her family. That was a lot of fun and I deeply enjoyed the time with my family. I was part of the day-to-day activities and that was a good thing too. The football games the boys played were fun, even if the weather was sometimes miserable. I didn’t really want to leave, but I felt like I needed to move on for awhile, give them some time to regroup as a family, and do some additional inner work.
I spent a week with Wife’s family over Thanksgiving. That was also very good for me. They need to know that I’m not going away because Wife is gone. They are as much family to me as blood relations. Mom/Dad are getting older and I want to see them when I can. It also honors Wife that I love her family as my own.
I also started the process of procuring a marker for Wife. Once the details are settled, we’ll put that marker at the foot of her mom’s plot. I want there to be a permanent place where her family can remember her, although her ashes are scattered on the family farm.
Now here I am in Lubbock. The last week was spent partly reuniting with friends and family, partly working, and partly playing. I spent much of yesterday with very close friends (might as well be family). As I drove home last night, it occurred to me that I am healing. This morning, again, as the Girl and I walked laps around Higinbotham I prayed and the notion that I am healing once again manifested in my deepest mind/soul/whatever. I talked to God a bit about this, as a son might talk to his father.
I asked God for vocational guidance. This is the stuff that isn’t in scripture and he doesn’t always choose to answer in a specific way. I realized that I have four active job applications out there. I realized that two of those appeared suddenly, when recruiters called me looking for senior personnel to offer to their clients and that they had discovered my CV and were calling me to determine my interest.
My dreams of late have been about major change, rebuilding, and encouragement to go — to move forward. The most recent dream that I recorded (I don’t always get them written down before the images fade in my fast-moving brain) was specific direction to get after it. Certain doors (opportunities) are now closed. A couple of the gigs I thought might be fun went elsewhere. But certain doors appear to be opening. I know how God works, sometimes, in my life, and this is a typical pattern. There is a teaching here about patience, trust, and faith and I’ve seen this lesson before. I get it.
The look back, for me, is to learn something from my experience. I work at not letting the stuff behind me make me bitter. Those experiences, victories, failures, and mistakes are all mine. I own them. I might not like some of them. I might be embarrassed by some of them (as in, “yes, I really did that.”). But they are mine and they make up my informal education from the school of life (also known as the School of Hard Knocks). So, I’ll take them, do my best to learn the lessons from them, and then direct my attention and energy forward.
I don’t think I’m quite done yet. God still has some things for me to do. So, as I spend time with loved ones, heal, do my inner work, and heal, I’m waiting to see what doors open. I’m excited to see what is next for me and that is a big deal.
Wow… what a few days, weeks, months, and years this has been. I’m a little breathless after writing this and reviewing where I’ve been, both physically and spiritually. And now I have a cup of tea, which I’ll enjoy as I edit this post and prepare to share it. Daughter got me started drinking tea again. I’m really enjoying both the Earl Grey and Chai Spice black teas.
And why should I share, you might wonder. Well, I’m not positive… perhaps it’s nothing more than my testimony that I believe God is working in my life. Maybe there might be others out there on a similar journey, but one that belongs specifically to them. If they stumble on my site, then the words might be encouraging and provide some hope that there is a destination, or maybe multiple destinations that require a choice. Maybe it’s just a reminder that God is still here, still working in the background, and still caring for his children. And those are plenty of good reasons for me to share my journey.
My goal, for the moment at least, is to make one nice capture every day. That capture might be with my iPhone, my Fuji X-T1, or my Panasonic DMC-ZS40. I always have my iPhone (6S) on me. Its camera is better than what is needed to get a decent capture for a weblog post. It’s primary lacking is control over depth of field. Both the Panasonic and Fuji cameras offer better control, with the Fuji being the best (of course) and the Panasonic being a lot better than the iPhone, but much less capable than the Fuji. But, I always have my iPhone on me and I always see something that I think is worthy of my Instagram stream.
My second goal, for the moment at least, is to post something every day. That might be a snippet of something I read, heard, or saw. It might be a longer piece… one of my ruminations.
I considered writing a bit about the state of my country. I have a few essays in my collection that are fits and starts in that direction. I might draw a lot more traffic to my site if I did that; or I might not. What I will observe is that American politics are deeply broken. We left constructive dialogue behind decades ago and substituted meaningless rhetoric and vitriol. Our “leaders” and our media lie to us to achieve their goals. I have lost faith in my government and elected leadership to guide the rest of us on any kind of reasonable path. It appears the government is setting itself up to reduce or eliminate the ability of citizens to govern ourselves in substitute for a government that knows what is best for us. I find this disappointing and depressing.
Enough of that… there be monsters there.
So, I write about what I see and what I think. I decided to focus on things that I think bring either insight (as I ruminate on my own thoughts) or beauty (through my images) to those who come here directly or stumble by via that morass of infinite links that is the World Wide Web.
And, my goal is to post something every day. I don’t always make it. I’m not going to berate myself for not making it. But the goal keeps me looking outside my head, observing, watching the light, watching for interesting things, and ruminating. I think that will do.
All that aside, yesterday was a fun day. The Girl and I were out before sunup to go walk laps around Higinbotham Park here in Lubbock. It was cool, but not cold at about 40F when we hit the trail. A few other hardy souls and their four-legged friends showed up as we circled the park. Of course, we were going the wrong way. I don’t care and neither does the Girl. Her squirrely friend was absent, although she was on high alert for “Squirrels!”. But no others showed.
Near the end of our walk, the morning sun illuminated the trees and dormant Bermudagrass. That light captured my eyes. So, we paused along our last lap for me to grab a few captures. I like this one and shared it on my Instagram feed.
And, in the end, it seems I posted something political after all… or at least an observation on politics. But the emphasis was on my thoughts and my observations of the beauty that surrounds me.
Today is 7 December 2015. It is Pearl Harbor Day — the day we set aside to remember the Japanese surprise attack on the Army and Navy bases located in the Hawaiian Islands in 1941. Each year I take a few moments to remember the service men and women, and the civilians, who lost their lives that day. While I hold no grudge against the Japanese (it is history, after all), I also remember that we have enemies both internal and external who would destroy our nation, our culture, and our way of life for their own purposes.
Today is the day to remember Pearl Harbor. I remember. I appreciate the sacrifice that our service men and women make each and every day. I don’t think it’s just a job.
When I walked the Girl at our motel in Gainesville, Texas, we came across this most-interesting gate. I’m Longhorn-sensitive now, after being indoctrinated by Daughter and her family. I noticed the logo and burnt orange immediately. The afternoon light lit the scene well. So, I made the capture while the Girl sniffed about.